Sunday, July 31, 2005

Thoughts?

I have been reading a Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren and have found it quite interesting. It starts off with a provocative introduction…

You may not be a Christian and wondering why anyone would want to be. The religion that inspired the Crusades, launched witch trials, perpetuates religious broadcasting, presents too-often boring and irrelevant church services with schmaltzy music-or else presents manic and overly aggressive church services with a different kind of schmaltzy music-baptizes wars and other questionable political programs, promotes judgmentalism, and ordains preachers with puffy haircuts…it doesn’t make sense to you why anyone would want “in” on that.

You may not yet be a Christian and you’re thinking of becoming one, but you’re worried that if you do you’ll become a worse person-judgmental, arrogant, narrow-minded, bigoted, and brainwashed. You feel attracted to something good on the path of Jesus, but you wish you could get that “something good” without a lot of extra religious social and maybe political baggage…you wonder if there’s any way to follow Jesus without becoming a Christian.”


Christian or not Christian…his words here should create some internal debate and that’s always good.

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan:
I guess "Rummy" was napping during the intelligence briefings...

"Just last Monday, however, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded to a question about maintaining the base in Uzbekistan by saying: 'We've had a good relationship. It's a good relationship now.'"

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005

Don't confuse me with the facts!

Bolton appointment
What a shame that we have a president that will do anything at all to prove he was right...even when he's wrong. This has been his modus operandi since Day One. He never has been willing to look at the facts; not when his mind is made up...or are we talking about Karl's mind here? It's so hard to tell the difference!

Where's John?

How odd? Mr. Roberts wasn't even mentioned in the newspaper today. Does that mean that it's a slam dunk for his nomination and appointment? I certainly hope not! Just the two glaring failures; his conservatism and the fact that he has no "real world" legal experience should keep him off the Supreme Court.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sojourners

If Democrats are Pharisees, does that make Republicans Sadducees? (Sojourners Magazine)

"It's a little bit like biblical Pharisees, you know, who basically are always trying to undermine Jesus Christ.... You know, it goes on the same way. If they can catch him in something, they can then criticize and the outside groups will go berserk."
- Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), on Fox News, describing the nature of potential Democratic opposition to Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr.


And since Hatch is a Mormon, what does that make him?

Good Idea

A friend sent me this following note and it seems to make sense. I have wondered, every now and then, what would happen if I collapsed while doing my training walks in the park. How would the EMT know who I was? (I try not to take my wallet with me when I walk.)

Following the disaster in London . . .
The Ambulance Services there have launched a national "In case of Emergency (ICE)" campaign. The idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency".

In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly look at your mobile phone and find out who your first contact should be and be able to contact them.

It's so simple that everyone can do it. Please do.

Email this to everybody in your address book, it won't take too many "forwards" before everybody will know about this, and it will become an international practice.

For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc.


You might want to pass it on...it's free, simple and sensible!

NASA Pessimistic

NASA Pessimistic
Someone should step up to the plate and declare that the end of the Shuttle era is now, and not 5 years from now; after we spend $billions more and endanger more lives with this outdated piece of machinery. Let's spend the money on something that will enhance our knowledge of God's universe...not make milk runs to the space station.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Without Precedent

The Atlantic Online | September 2005 | Without Precedent | Benjamin Wittes
A good article and certainly worth reading.

Reduce the 'death tax'

Reduce the 'death tax' - Yahoo! News
I have no clue as to why this Senator would lie about the so-called "death tax", except he's a politician and can't help himself?

Sob Story
-

That link (above) will give you some facts to deal with, and one more thing...why would the world's wealthiest man, Bill Gates, be in favor of the estate tax? Well, he is!

Memories

Last Sunday, at the beginning of the worship service, an announcement was made that Anna Vereschagin had died recently. There were exclamations of surprise at the sad news and I wondered briefly, who was she? Yesterday I read the obituary for Anna and now I see why she will be remembered by so many.

http://www.legacy.com/chicoer/LegacySubPage2.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonId=14657410

What a wonderful legacy...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Where's the Truth?

"Last week, the White House denied that Mr. Roberts had ever been a member of the Federalist Society. Mr. Roberts's handlers were no doubt concerned that the society's reputation as an organization of hard-line conservatives could work against him during the confirmation process. The White House even persuaded several news organizations that had called him a member to print corrections. But The Washington Post reported yesterday that he was listed in a Federalist Society Lawyers' Division Leadership Directory for 1997-1998 as a member of the steering committee of the Washington chapter."

The Federalist Society keeps its membership list a secret...and what are they afraid of? And shouldn't Mr. Roberts do the denying? Not the White House.

Monday, July 25, 2005

An asteroid, headed our way

An asteroid, headed our way | csmonitor.com
Now this is interesting...

What Bush Doesn't Know

What Bush Doesn't Know - New York Times
Does anyone even remember that "Osama" guy?

In the same vein...

Uniform Sacrifice - New York TimesWritten by a Marine.

Commentary

I was reading a commentary this morning by David Kennedy and I thought it was worth noting here. It was entitled “The Best Army We Can Buy” and it details the changes in our society in regard to our relationship with the military.

Mr. Kennedy writes, “…we now have an active-duty military establishment that is, proportionate to population, about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II. And today's military budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, as opposed to nearly 40 percent during World War II.”

And why is that a bad thing? It’s bad because it allows the citizens of this country to avoid responsibility for the actions of the military. For good or for bad. The military is simply a government labor force that we pay for. You probably don’t know someone who serves in the Army. And joining the Army certainly isn’t a preferred career choice. At the present time, the Pentagon is experimenting, trying to find out just what will be required to recruit a soldier. What pay package and fringe benefits will attract him or her? There is no appeal to patriotism; it’s simply, “an Army of one.” Or, “Be all you can be…” And that makes our Army a mercenary army.

We have a defense budget that equals the defense budgets of all other nations combined…and yet, on a personal level, we pay very little for it. 4% of GDP? That makes paying our “military bill” almost painless. And with only 4% of our citizens in uniform, the losses by death and injury are not noted in any personal way by the majority of us. And that is wrong!

We are heading down a very slippery slope as long as we allow our defense to be reduced to a line item in the Pentagon budget.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Swearing got me hired - and fired

Swearing got me hired - and fired | csmonitor.com
Well said!

Cost of War

Cost of War
Whoa! I had to stop looking at the numbers, I was getting dizzy...But then I used the filters and looked at the cost to Chico and hey! We can afford a few more of these things. All we have to do is cut back on a few latte's and this war is won. Bring it on!

More about Roberts

This morning I was reading that terrible liberal rag, the Sacramento Bee. It’s so terrible that it’s the only paper in town. I’m sure that the “good papers” left town rather than being tainted by proximity to the Bee.

Anyway, back to the Bee. The front page has a story about Supreme Court nominee Roberts and I had to laugh at both liberal and conservative alike after reading it. It seems that most of his would be supporters and erstwhile critics can’t get a reading on this guy. Senator Kennedy said, “The question I wish I’d sort of asked Judge Roberts is, “How do we get to know you?”” and “He’s somewhat reserved.” says a law professor who knows him. His old math teacher remembers that he chose a seat in the far corner of the classroom and didn’t say much unless called upon.

Well, duh! He is an Introvert. It’s not a disease, although Extroverts think so and are quick to label an Introvert as shy, or not very friendly. They say that because they don’t like being studied, something that Introverts are always doing.

Shy is good! Introverts are good! Down with Extroverts!

But I’m still studying Roberts…

The China Connection...

As in all of the news recently, China plays a big part in even the most local of news. The Sacramento area real estate boom is slowing down. The part that China plays in that scenario is the fact that with a devalued or floating Yuan, there is less incentive for China to prop up our economy by buying our debt. China was buying a billion dollars a day of US bonds. With an increased debt load, more investors are looking at other options for investment and not housing, so the interest rates are heading up, to increase their attractiveness.

And I read the other day that with Chinese unemployment at 15%, their government is under some pressure to make certain that they remain competitive in the world market...that's good news for Wal-Mart, who will use that info to leverage their Chinese deals even more. That's probably why Wal-Mart announced their intention to do more business with India, just the other day...giving their Chinese friends a warning that they need to remain competitive if they want to keep Wal-Mart happy.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Houses Divided on Warming

Houses Divided on Warming - New York Times
Politician for sale...Sold! And a Texas republican, imagine that!

PHC

What am I thinking of this morning? What odd scraps of information are floating about in my mind? I’m on my second cup of coffee so all of that information should soon be coalescing into something worth writing about.

OK. What comes to mind is Garrison Keillor. And with his name, Prairie Home Companion. They are synonymous of course. I have been a fan of Mr. Keillor for many years and that tells you that I have been listening to public radio for just as many years. http://prairiehome.publicradio.org/

I think that Prairie Home Companion is on for an hour and a half, maybe more? Imagine a radio variety show being broadcast in the 21st century…it just doesn’t compute! And I suppose that the fan base for the show is growing grayer every day.

The reason I’m not sure how long the show runs is because I rarely heard the whole show. When I traveled for a living, I would always look for the local NPR station in each city I visited and then lock the rental car radio onto it. And I would have no idea of the program schedule for that city, so I would listen to whatever came along and I was always happy to hear Mr. Keillor’s distinctive voice.

Why PBS? Because I could depend on it to be the same in every city I visited. Some cities had their own local shows as well and they were usually great. KANU, 91.5 in Lawrence, Kansas is a good example. They had two shows, Right Between the Ears and Trail Mix, that were simply outstanding. If I was traveling into KC on a Sunday, I knew that my Southwest flight would get me into town just in time to hear Trail Mix.

http://www.rightbetweentheears.org/
http://kpr.ku.edu/trailmix.shtml

And finally, try listening to another of Mr. Keillor’s projects, Writer’s Almanac. It’s short and very informative…great stuff! “The Writer's Almanac®, a daily program of poetry and history hosted by Garrison Keillor, can be heard each day on public radio stations throughout the country” http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/

OK, that's the best that two cups of coffee will do...if it wasn't satisfactory, you're on your own.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Partisan Politics

You tell em, Jim!

"What has suffered irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince an overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us," Jim Marcinkowski, a former CIA case officer, said.
He also criticized Republican efforts to minimize the damage caused by the leak.
"Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere paper pusher or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it's a disservice to this country," he added.
Bush vowed this week to fire anyone found to have acted illegally in the controversy, backing away from a broader pledge to dismiss anyone found to have leaked information in the case.

I love this...what a great phrase - prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies! No dirty words and it says so much. I'm not sure I could say the same about what they probably called him.

Good News!

The Trader is coming to Chico! Trader Joe that is...and they hope to be open sometime in October. We saw a piece in the paper a week or so ago, and the owners of a local property answered, "no comment" when asked if TJ was coming. As usual - no comment means yes. And yes means Good Times are here again!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I Wonder

I have been doing my homework and reading what I can about the Supreme Court nominee, John Roberts. And I will say that on the surface he appears better and better. But, and it's very important to remember...he worked as a lobbyist for one of the largest law firms in DC. I find it hard to believe that you can work every day with garbage without getting some of it on you. I would love to be wrong.

WWJD

I have been reading Myths America Lives By (Richard T. Hughes), once again and enjoying it as usual. The book is filled with little attention getting stickers, pasted on each page where I found a comment worth noting. I haven’t highlighted anything on the pages as I want Laurae to read it after I’m through with it.

(OK, here’s my gift to you…invent a substance that will highlight words in a document or book and that can also be peeled off of the page when you are done with it. A transparent yellow film that can be removed by lifting it from the page. Wouldn’t that be great? You could mark up books as you read them and then remove the highlighting if you wanted to lend the book to someone else. You could use it on originals of contracts and other documents as well. Now, if you invent this and make a fortune; I only want 10%.)

Back to the book; the author discusses the rise of the Social Gospel in the late nineteenth century. He mentions Charles Sheldon, whose best selling book, In His Steps, appeared in 1897. That book tells the story of the Reverend Henry Maxwell, the pastor of a fashionable church in Kansas. Maxwell saw the vision of the social gospel and challenged the members of his church to deal with the social crisis of that time. How? By answering the simple question, “What would Jesus do?

Yes, WWJD is over one hundred years old. Here’s a good sermon that tells the story best. http://www.presbyterianwarren.com/follow.html

Care

I know that I haven’t mentioned Word War III lately and that is because for most Americans, it doesn’t really feel like a war. It’s sort of a war in disguise…Life goes on normally enough for us, the stock market moves up and down, there’s a sale at Mervyn’s, you can get chicken breasts for 99¢ a pound at Safeway this week, there are the same old re-runs for summer television. So what’s different about life, with or without this war? Not much; unless you actually know someone who is risking their life in Iraq or Afghanistan and most American’s don’t. They simply hang a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of their vehicle and that tells the immediate world that they care. Mission accomplished!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More...Business As Usual

Bush had a good chance to show the American people that he was the President for all American's...but he blew it. Confrontation seems to be his style, no matter what the cost.

These are links to Hogan & Hartson LLP, the law firm that was home to Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

http://www.hhlaw.com/site/default.aspx

http://www.prac.org/firms/PRAChogan.html

He has been a judge since 2003. Not exactly a long career, is it? But he has been a corporate lawyer and lobbyist for many years. Which gives him all the connection he needs from this so-called “compassionate conservative” President.

Please, spare me from any more “compassion”!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

And the Rich Just Keep Getting...

Between 1979 and 2000, the real income of the poorest 1/5th of American households grew by 6.4%, while the top 1/5th saw income rise by 70%. (The top 1% got a 184% raise)

As of 2001, that same top 1% have nabbed 20% of America's personal income and control 33% of its net worth.

Suit Being Filed Against DuPont Over Teflon

Suit Being Filed Against DuPont Over Teflon - Yahoo! News
I wonder if they can make those charges stick?

Sorry...I had to do it!

Garden Days


The warm days are helping the tomatoes to grow. And so are the hornworms! I am having a terrible time finding the elusive creatures. They blend in so well among the leaves and stems. I see the damage they cause and I see the "frass" that they leave behind. But it's rare to see one. I stalk the rows, with scissors in hand, looking to eradicate them all, but it's usually a fruitless venture. Anyone know a better way?

Here's a picture of some tomatoes, eggplants, crookneck squash and banana peppers. The yellow tomatoes, "Atchoyka", are Russian heirlooms and quite tasty.

Weasel Words

Regarding the Did He?/Didn't He? scenario at the White House...Bush has changed the rules just a little bit. He now promises to fire the villain who broke the law by outing Valerie Plame. So ethical lapses are OK, and so are violations of the intent of the law; just don't violate the letter of the law. Hmmm? That does change things a bit, doesn't it?

I told you he had his fingers crossed!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bullitt!

"Movie audiences never seem to tire of the car chase. Knowing this, Hagerty Insurance, a collectible-vehicles insurer in Traverse City, Mich., conducted a survey to determine the most popular chase scenes. "Bullitt," starring Steve McQueen as a police detective driving a Ford Mustang up and down San Francisco's steep streets, captured 40 percent of the 2,000 votes cast. The movies with the best car chase scenes of all time, and the year of their release, from the survey results:"

1. "Bullitt" 1968
2. "Gone in 60 Seconds" (remake) 2000
3. "Smokey and the Bandit" 1977
4. "The Blues Brothers" 1980
5. "Gone in 60 Seconds" 1974
6. "The French Connection" 1971
7. "Ronin" 1998
8. "Vanishing Point" 1971
9. "The Italian Job" (remake) 2003
10. "The Fast and the Furious" 2001


What memories! I knew it was Bullitt; it had to be. Though I do think The Blues Brother’s should have been second.

When Laurae worked at the Drive-In theatre in Newbury Park, I could get in free and I knew exactly when the chase scene from Bullitt was going to play, and so I would drive in just in time to watch it and then leave afterwards. I would do that 3 or 4 times a week!

Garden Pic's


It's time for some garden shots...I made a panoramic file using Irfanview to meld two images.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Healthcare

Healthcare crisis csmonitor.com
A very good article and well worth reading...perhaps clipping and mailing to your Senator? Your Representative?

Theocracy versus democracy

There is a lot of talk these days from the religious right about returning America to its Christian origins. What does than mean? And are we certain that’s what we want to do?

I would argue that it is not what our founding father’s wanted when they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (For starters…the majority of those founders were Deists, believers in one God, not the triune God that most Christians believe in today.) These men had seen the perils of a state mandated religion and were still fighting that battle in the colonies. (Some colonies had been established as religious colonies, but only one religion was allowed within the colony.) The Constitution was written to address that problem and to make a single nation out of many.

In 1776, the population of the country was 4 million. And the founding of the country…the original exploration and conquest had taken place over 200 years before. Some of the citizens were 5th and 6th generation Americans. America was no longer a Puritan stronghold. (Massachusetts) nor was it a bastion of Catholicism (Maryland). It was quite diverse. And the founders were intent on keeping it so.

I would ask those who want us to return to our Christian roots, which roots do you mean? There certainly are plenty of them to choose from. We would have to exclude Jehovah’s Witnesses of course. And worst of all are the Mormons. They would certainly have to be excluded. Some would argue that Catholics aren’t Christians so they might be included in the list of pariahs. How about Episcopalians? They are descendants of Anglicans and we know that they came from the Roman church, which makes them suspect. Even after getting rid of the obvious and the suspect “bad roots”, there are plenty of diverse roots left. I guess I just wonder what this Christian America is going to look like?

Oh, I know that I’m being sarcastic…but no one from the Christian Right has ever defined just what it is that they want. They are long on rhetoric and short on concrete proposals.

This morning I am going to church and in my own, and very private way, I’m going to worship God. And I will pray that all can do the same.

Civilian Group Patrols Mexico Border

Civilian Group Patrols Mexico Border - Yahoo! News
Wouldn't it be far more comfortable to patrol outside the companies that hire those illegal aliens? Oops! I guess there aren't enough volunteers to do that.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Apparently...

Apparently we have a non-scandal brewing in Washington. Oh, there's still plenty of scandalous behavior going on, but the particular one I have in mind is turning out to be less scandalous than predicted and that in turn, makes it worse - a non -scandal.

Karl Rove, he of the "dirty tricks" and the accused in the Rove/Wilson/Plame debacle (Let's not forget Judith Miller) apparently didn't name Plame as the CIA agent and he has some paperwork to support his statements.

But this is what I don't understand about Karl...if he was technically innocent, why didn't he say so 2 years ago? Why does the truth have to be dragged out of him? Innocent people are in jail and reputations are ruined, yet Karl remains mum until the investigations get close to him.

Apparently Ethics 101 wasn't on his course list when he attended school.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook: Fried Green Tomato Hornworms

The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook: Fried Green Tomato Hornworms
No...I'm an adventurous sort of guy when it comes to food, but I just spent the last half hour hunting these things down and destroying them. I'm not ready to put them on my plate. Maybe I should freeze some in case I change my mind next January...

Rehnquist Returns to Work at High Court

Rehnquist Returns to Work at High Court - Yahoo! News
As much as I don't want Bush to appoint another Supreme, I can't help but think that there is something wrong with this picture...we force commercial pilots to retire at the age of 60 because they they have the lives and safety of so many people in their hands. What about the Supremes?

The Light

It appears that Randy has seen the light. I read this morning that he made a quick appearance at a news conference and announced that he wasn't going to run for public office again. He then exited without answering any more questions.

Fitness Magazine Lines Arnold's Pockets

CBS News | Fitness Mag Lines Arnold's Pockets | July 14, 2005?22:30:53
And when you voted for him, you thought that he was going to be different, how?

Disaster in the Garden

Perhaps it is "disaster averted"...Yesterday morning, I went to check out the garden and found that the two wire cages that had been supporting my "Moneymaker" tomatoes had collapsed. The plants were right at 6' tall and had a lot of tomatoes on them. Green and heavy tomatoes. I propped them up again and will be building a better and sturdier cage today. In the meantime, the tomatoes are standing about 4' tall and sprawled all about. They still look healthy and I am optimistic that they can be saved.

I'm sure my gardening daughter would have seen this trouble coming...you can't rely on those wire cages!

America at Work

“Americans may spend a lot of time at work, but that doesn't mean they're actually working - at least according to results of a new online survey by America Online and Salary.com. It reveals that, on average, employees waste more than two hours a day on activities unrelated to their jobs. (And that doesn't include lunch.) Altogether, the research indicates that this lack of production sets employers back as much as $759 billion a year in salary costs. The biggest sinkhole: the Internet. The leading ways that Americans waste time in the workplace, and the percentage of survey respondents citing each:”

1. Surfing Internet for personal use 44.7%
2. Socializing with co-workers 23.4%
3. Conducting personal business 6.8%
4. Daydreaming 3.9%
5. Running errands off premises 3.1%
6. Making personal phone calls 2.3%
7. Applying for other employment 1.3%
8. Planning personal events 1.0%
9. Arriving late, leaving early 1.0%
10. Other 12.5%

Obviously written by a “bean counter”. (BC) See how the word "waste" is emphasized and it's also obvious that they would like lunch to be productive as well.

I went through this same conversation many times with the BC’s and they would cite facts and figures about how much time was being wasted by employees in all of the above activities. Yet these same employees, the ones supposedly wasting company resources, were given high marks on their yearly reviews and made bonus money for a job well done. How was it possible? It seems so obvious to me…if they do their job well, leave them alone. If they aren’t doing their job, let them go. After all, if you’re the boss, you have already defined what you expect of them. Haven't you? It should be cut and dried.

My question to the BC was always the same; do you really care what they do with every minute of the day when they are obviously a tremendous asset to our business? If they do all that is required and more, encourage others to do the same thing! What’s the problem with an always late daydreaming internet surfer that brings a million dollars to the bottom line?

I remember visiting a new manager that was intent on stamping out conversations that took place in the corridors; people actually gathering and conversing with one another instead of being hunched over a set of plans and spec’s. He took the life right out of that office and it was never again successful…but it sure was quiet.

When you crack down on the 10 items listed above; item #7 rises right up to the top.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Growth Industry

I’m certainly not against increased security, but weren’t we supposed to see a smaller, leaner, more efficient government?

“Saying that "much remains to do," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Wednesday that he was reorganizing his sprawling department to better prevent - or at least react to - a terrorist attack.

…he plans to appoint a new intelligence chief, who will collect information from its 22 agencies, and an assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security. Other steps in the overhaul, he said, will be the hiring of a chief medical officer to help plan for the thousands of casualties that might result from a biological, chemical or nuclear attack. An under secretary for policy will also be named, as will a director of operations coordination…

All prevention duties will now be handled by a new Directorate for Preparedness, which will oversee the billions in grants to state and local governments and devise plans for protecting crucial national buildings and infrastructure from attack.”


And that will cost, how much?

Christian Right and Theocracy

PublicEye.org - Christian Right and Theocracy
Interesting articles.

Bloomberg

Bloomberg.com: Culture
I watched this documentary the other night and was much disturbed by the obvious hatred displayed by John Stokes.

http://www.mhrn.org/news/0501stokes.html

And here's another link I found to some disturbing history in that area. (an old story)

http://www.sullivan-county.com/identity/far_right.htm

Why Montana? I have been there one time and have only seen a small portion of the state. I drove in from Spokane one weekend, crossing the "handle" of Idaho and then about 75 miles into the state. What was disturbing to me was the fact that as soon as I had crossed the border, I entered a Superfund site; fenced off for miles by chain link fencing and warning signs that the lands beyond the fence were toxic. Mining abuse has taken a heavy toll in this state. And obviously the economy has suffered...which creates the climate that hate groups love to see.

Doubletalk

When Wal-Mart employees in Jacksonville, Texas, tried to form a union in their meat-cutting department, Wal-Mart responded by eliminating meat cutting in every single store.

Workers at a Wal-Mart store in Jonquìere, Quebec, successfully formed a union. But rather than negotiate with the employees for better wages and health care, Wal-Mart shut down the entire store.

But when it comes to their home base in China, it’s a different story. They don’t want to offend their masters.

"Should associates request the formation of a union, Wal-Mart China would respect their wishes and honor its obligation under China’s Trade Union Law."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Just wondering

As the debate on Social Security has now gone back to a “simmer”, I thought I would throw in another 2¢ worth of opinion from my limitless resources.

Laurae and were talking about this the other day; as we had just gone over our finances and I made the observation that it sure was a blessing that I had gone to work for a company that had a 401(k) program as well as a pension fund. And she said that it was even more of a blessing that we had taken advantage of it. Well, why wouldn’t we?

Because we simply had no idea that it might be a good idea. Growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, there were no high school classes that would teach you about finances; nothing more than how to fill out a check and maintain a savings account. I had spent some time in junior college and Laurae had 3 years at Pepperdine College, so we’re not stupid people. But since I followed a career in construction and Laurae was a stay at home mom, where were we supposed to learn something about retirement planning? Life was busy enough with work and 3 children to raise.

Fast forward to today…how many high school graduates know more about this subject than we did at the same age? How about advise from parents? I can tell you that the financial advice I received was fairly brief, “Don’t get into construction.” and, “Get a job with a utility company.” You can see how well I followed that advice.

So how does the government propose to educate the millions upon millions of people who don’t have a clue as to how to protect themselves for retirement? Or is it just, “You snooze, you lose”?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bush Has Confidence in Rove

White House: Bush Has Confidence in Rove - Yahoo! News
Let the wiggling begin!

Business As Usual

Official Sees New Jersey on Verge of a 'Transportation Meltdown'By DAVID W. CHEN
Transportation experts are warning that speed limits may have to be lowered, potholes may remain unfilled and there may be fewer buses and trains available.

The same situation exists in California…and in 48 other states. Now go back and read yesterday’s posting about “earmarks” http://swdunn.blogspot.com/2005/07/pork-barrel-politics.html and reflect on that for a moment. Could any of that money have been used for solving these problems?

Did I?

I don’t remember if I mentioned this before, but I do have some experience as a gardener. When I was a freshman at Mira Costa High school, I elected to take an Agriculture class. It appealed to me out of all the electives available. The class, led by Mr. Eckert, met in a small shed-like room in the middle of the Ag plot. This was located down the hill from the football field and was quite remote, right up against the northern fence that closed off the campus. We were a strange group. I soon discovered that the main reason for attendance in this class was the fact it gave “the losers” a chance to smoke. I hadn’t picked up the nasty habit yet and was shocked to see it. I’m sure that Mr. Eckert knew what was going on, but I think he was also grateful just to have some students there; as I learned later that the class was only for “losers” and freshman. We had a vegetable garden and everything grew well in the sandy soil, but my most vivid memories of that class involved our having to plant thousands of tiny ice plants on the slope above the football field. Slave labor!

Now, did I post something like this once before? Oh, a mind is a terrible thing to lose!

Cell

Drivers on Cell Phone More Likely to Crash - Yahoo! News
Golly! I didn't know that!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Pork Barrel Politics

A little something I found in a Molly Ivins column. Paraphrased.

“Earmarks” are those monies set aside for the “Pork” that politician delivers to his constituents…or to his friends and family, depending on his principles. It seems that the number of earmarks has grown quite rapidly under this administrations guidance. Last year there were 15,584 earmarks worth $32.7 billion dollars. Yes, billions. That is more than twice the dollar amount in 2001. (As you can tell…they are becoming bolder!) And it’s more than three times the dollar amount in 1998. Ah, those compassionate conservatives sure know how to live! (Hard to blame this on the Democrats)

Here’s how it works…”earmarks are added anonymously, frequently during last-minute closed-door sessions of the appropriations committees. An especially attractive feature for those private interests seeking earmarks is that they are awarded on a noncompetitive basis and recipients need not meet any performance standards.”

The data came from an article in Harper’s Magazine, “The Great American Pork Barrel: Washington Streamlines the Means of Corruption” by Ken Silverstein.

Back to the Peaches

I picked a bunch! And there are lots more, although I can now see the end of them. I sliced a bunch up for the fruit dryer and then we packed 6 pints of sliced peaches for the freezer. I think I have about 40 sitting on the counter and maybe another 50 or more on the tree. I think I will grow another one of these trees and prune to keep it small and productive. I want to keep it under 7' and prune it for all lateral growth. We do have another type of peach, the Faye Elberta, but it doesn't have more than 20 fruit on it this year.

Bush to fire Rove in leak scandal

Democrats urge Bush to fire Rove in leak scandal - Yahoo! NewsOh, if only! But nothing will come of this. Karl has King's "X" and besides, George had his fingers crossed when he said he would fire the guy that did the dirty deed of outing Valerie Plame. Did Karl do it? Well, if you look at his history, it's been one dirty trick after another...and he's been quite proud of what he's done, even bragging at times. So he is the one that most "thinking" people would pick as the culprit.

Boating News

Randy Cunningham. A name to remember, as he appears to be in some distress these days and could very well lose his job. His job? He’s the Republican Representative from San Diego and a former Navy pilot (Vietnam era). The story is all about how Randy was able to make a great deal of money in California’s housing market in 2003. I know…so what? Well, he sold his house to a defense contractor, Mitchell Wade, for the sum of $1,675.00. Wade later resold that house for $700,000 less than he paid for it. Apparently Wade is a great businessman but a terrible real estate investor. It happens. Although he may be the only one in California.

Back to Randy; now that he is in Washington these days, doing his job as a member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. he is living, rent free, onboard a yacht that just happens to be owned by the same Mitchell Wade. Hey! What are friends for?

So why is Randy living on his friend’s boat? I thought he had one of his own? Ah! He sold that boat in 2002 to Thomas Kontogiannis, a New York real estate developer. Then, surprising…a coincidence perhaps? In 2003, a mortgage company owned by Kontogiannis’ nephew and daughter, finances $1.1 million of the cost of Randy’s new home in Rancho Santa Fe.

Kontogiannis? He now admits that he is looking for a pardon for his “wrongful” conviction of kickback and bribery charges in a bid rigging scheme for the purchase of New York City school computers.

Sort of like Lemony Snickett…a series of unfortunate events.

Want to know more about Mr. Cunningham?
http://www.vote-smart.org/issue_rating_category.php?can_id=H0596103

More on Duke, a much loved representative of the people.
http://www.dukecunningham.org/

And the story of Mr. Kontogiannis.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/08/AR2005070801536.html

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Delicious!


This is a picture of a Red Haven peach. And I just enjoyed one. These have to be the best peaches around! They are freestone peaches and for those who don't like the peel on a peach, the peel slips off very easily. They aren't large, maybe 3" in diameter, but they are so very tasty. I cooked one of those Costco pork sirloin roasts last night and about 15 minutes before the roast was done, I added 3 of these peaches, sliced and arranged all over the roast. After cooking, I arranged the slices on the serving platter and sliced the roast, placing the slices on the peaches. Beautiful and delicious!

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Thumbs Down

Let’s see…what did we do yesterday?

I went walking in Bidwell Park, doing a little over 6 miles once again. I will do that again today as my left foot held up fine for the distance. I did some more painting of shelves in the garage. I cut my hair once more and was surprised to see how old I look these days. Whoa! Who is that guy in the mirror? The ultra-short hair seems to accentuate my age, and now that I am walking regularly, my face is thinner and I see wrinkles that were once hidden in the fat. Oh no!

We also went out for dinner and that was a minor disaster. We decided to try “Uncle Chong’s” here in Orland. It was pretty bad, with sweet and sticky sauces, tasteless shrimp and the pork chow mien hadn’t seen a pig anywhere near it. The food was extremely salty as well. And the meal has been sitting on my stomach ever since, causing much rumbling and other rude noises.

I was just wondering if I should start a blog to do restaurant reviews? After all, I’ve eaten in lots of places around the country and have a good, but critical, eye for service and quality food. I might even be able to make it a humorous review blog. But I would have to be careful, as my eldest daughter is the Executive President of the Waitpersons Defense League and doesn’t take waiter/waitress criticism lightly. So let me say that the service last night was fine; we tipped $3.32 for a $19.68 bill. I just hope the waitress didn’t have to share it with the cook.

Friday, July 8, 2005

Resolute G-8 Leaders

Resolute G-8 Leaders Unveil African Aid - Yahoo! News
All well and good...but this is a press release. The sad facts are that the totals pledged never have shown up as promised. It makes for good PR and a few days later most people forget about the G8 and it's promises, assuming that it will deliver the goods as promised. And that is just how they (the G8) like it...

Friday Musings

Friday is here and it’s early; the sky is still black and I haven’t had my first cup of coffee yet. And I have been reading some details of yesterday’s terrorist attack on the London subways. There are now close to 50 people killed.

So, why terrorism? It is not a new phenomenon. It has been around as long as man. And terrorism has no borders; it is used by all, the civilized and the savage. And it’s almost always used as a political tool. And finally, it’s almost always a failure. So why use it?

Terrorism: An apparent random act of extreme violence rendered against a nominally innocent population. It is always used in the hope that the fear induced by the random aspect of the attack will lead to political change as the population demands some guarantee of safety from their leaders.

My first thought was that terrorism is a tool of the primitive societies, those who practice tribalism. But there are more than enough instances of terrorism committed by so-called civilized societies to prove that thought was wrong.

But I do think that the success rate is higher among primitive societies. And considerably lower when used against a highly civilized society. I would compare it to poking a sleeping bear with a stick…you don’t want to do that too often!

In the final analysis; it’s all about power. Even if the illusion of power is fleeting, there will always be someone who wants to experience it. Take a sleeping bear and a stick and someone will always want to pick up the stick…

Thursday, July 7, 2005

It's time to get serious

OK, my eldest child has told me that the reason that I have some of the largest and loveliest tomato plants (and no tomatoes!), is because I haven't stressed the plants. Since they are watered every single day, they think their job is simply to grow more luxurious. Well, the easy life is over! I have ripped out half their water supply and I gave them a stern talking to...Believe me, that should have them stressed now. I told them I expect red tomatoes within a week, no excuses. And anyone laying down on the job will be composted!

Free Judith Miller!

How very odd. Robert Novak, an arch conservative who actually printed the revelation that Ms. Plame was a CIA agent, doesn't even get a phone call from the zealous prosecutor of Judith Miller...and he walks. Judith, who never wrote a story at all...she gets prison time for defending the freedom of the press.

Define: Interpretation

“In law, explanation and understanding of a specific body of words. The language of law can be interpreted in many ways...”

OK, that’s as simple as it gets. So why doesn’t the Radical Right get it? There is a move afoot to demonize those who believe that the Constitution was written to be a living document; one that can be interpreted in many ways. Here are some basics that seem to be forgotten. We do not know exactly what was in the minds of those who wrote and approved of the Constitution. We can’t ask any of them. So we must interpret.

Interpretation is risky business…and should be approached with an eye towards moderation.

Strict or loose, interpretation is still, by definition, an inexact science. And just because Thomas or Scalia say it’s so…doesn’t make it true.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Revolution

The Heterosexual Revolution - New York Times
A great article and certainly worth reading...There are no "causes" being espoused here, just some history to ponder.

Vacation

I'm taking a couple of days off to get my garage/glass shop in shape and do some other things that are needed around here.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Good Eats!

A great dinner…and most of it came from the garden. I took baby zucchini and yellow straight neck squash, cut them in half lengthwise and spritzed them with olive oil. I did the same with some yellow banana peppers. Then I took a piece of aluminum foil and placed some mushrooms and sliced red onions on it. More olive oil. Now it was time for the grill. The foil went to the back and the veggies were up front. It didn’t take long to grill the vegetables and when they were done, I poured the mushrooms and onions over them. Delicious!

Besides the vegetables, I had loaded the dinner salad with fruit (peaches and plums) from the orchard. We even had a tomato from the garden; and I used my homemade plum sauce as a salad dressing. Good eats!

Saturday, July 2, 2005

A Bind

It looks like the current administration is in another bind...With a Supreme retiring and with that same Supreme being a woman. That wasn't expected. There will be lots of pressure to replace her with another woman. Can it be done? Reagan had the pressure of people and press remembering that he had once promised that a woman would hold that post and so he had a hard time avoiding it. Bush risks another drop in the polls if he nominates some wacko right winger as expected.

Why do I talk like that? I'm sorry, I must have been listening to too many of Karl's speeches.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Heavy Closeup

A nice closeup of the tree... Posted by Picasa

Heavy

Here's a photo of our poor little peach tree. It has already lost one limb. I was able to pick about 30 peaches off of it this morning and reduce the strain...but the majority of the peaches aren't ripe yet and so they will continue to grow heavier. Posted by Picasa

Time Magazine

Time Inc.'s editor in chief, on the decision to comply with a grand jury's subpoena said this...

"I found myself really coming to the conclusion that once the Supreme Court has spoken in a case involving national security and a grand jury, we are not above the law and we have to behave the way ordinary citizens do."

I have to disagree. I don't want the press to have to behave as ordinary citizens do. We need a free press, not one restricted by the rules of one particular administration. What would Thomas Payne have thought about this?

Time Magazine is operated by cowards.

Charlie Wilson's War

I read this book about a year and a half ago...So it was eerie to read the news about the helicopter going down in Afghanistan this week. Everything we taught the Afghans in the 1980's has not been forgotten. Except that the targets were Russian helicopters in those days.