Saturday, April 30, 2005

'Soup Nazi'

'Soup Nazi' franchises

Only in America...will we pay to be treated rudely. In fact we will stand in line to receive this kind of treatment. Barnum's Law still works! (Please excuse me if I don't show up for the grand opening of a nearby franchise.)

And Furthermore...

The towns of Flaxton and Sherwood, North Dakota are approximately 35.7 miles apart (as the crow flies) and are located very close to our border with Canada. Sherwood being only 2.7 miles away. An easy walk! Of course I have to wonder how many Border Patrol agents are in that area. And how many soldiers would it take to patrol the 35.7 miles on a 24/7 basis?

Now, down in Texas, between the towns of Del Rio and Comstock (a distance of 29 miles) there is a lake and a park. Plus, an Amtrak station in Del Rio. And just like Flaxton and Sherwood, they are close to the border. In fact the lake straddles the border. (Hmm? Minute Men in rowboats?)

Now, all of this information…easily obtained in less than 5 minutes, should make you aware of just how difficult it would be to guard our borders on a permanent basis. I don’t even want to think about the great financial sinkhole that would be created if the government decided to pursue this.

The facts are…all borders are porous to a degree. The degree of porosity is directly linked to the amount of money spent on guarding the border. And all borders fail. No border has passed the test of time. Borders only serve to make some people feel good. They do nothing to increase security.

No Surprises Here

"Ahmad Chalabi - convicted embezzler in Jordan, suspected Iranian spy, double-crosser of America, purveyor of phony war-instigating intelligence - is the new acting Iraqi oil minister."

That's what I love about democracies...the cream always rises to the top!

Friday, April 29, 2005


Governor endorses Minutemen

This guy becomes weirder every day...What will the press do if he ends up running against Reiner? They will both have the same nickname; "Meathead".

Back in the Day

I received my package from Amazon the other day; three more books to read. And all good ones! I think I have about four books open right now and I’m tempted to open the fifth. Yes, I have far too many books to read now, but this is one of the best parts of retirement, the luxury of being able to sit down and read whenever you want. Back in the day…when I was traveling across the country, from office to office, I would buy what I called “airplane books”; paperback novels that I would find in the airport shops. Most could be read in just a few flights and I wouldn’t lose a “good” book if I forgot to take it with me when I left the plane. And the novels kept me entertained at a level where I didn’t notice the irritations of air travel quite as much. I had a travel routine that I kept to whenever possible; pass through security, wearing my “security shoes” and a sweater, as these didn’t have to be removed. I never had a carry-on bag as that could hinder your progress through the line. Once I was on the safe side of the security barrier I would identify all of the important locations. The proper gate, always checking the monitors first. The restrooms. The gift/news store and (hopefully) an espresso stand. With a coffee in hand, I could browse the book section and with any luck at all, I would find some cheap novel that I hadn’t read before. And then I would purchase a computer magazine. Always! Once on board the plane, I would settle into my window seat, making sure that I had all my supplies within easy reach. Kleenex, cough drops, magazine and book. Telephone…off. I would always try to be fully involved in the book before the preflight announcements began. If I hadn’t found a book, then I would try to catch a nap before the attendants began their spiel. Most of the time, I never even noticed the plane taking off and sometimes I even surprised myself when looking out of the window and seeing the ground far away.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


NEWS! - FotoChute grabs pictures with simple interface

This is smart! It's a little pricey, but you can manage all those photos so much easier with this and you don't need to bring a laptop with you when traveling. 3, months, 6 months from might be down to a reasonable $200. In fact, you might do a search and find it available for that price right now.

The Naked Emperor

I see that our acting governor has lost about 20 points in the recent polls. I wonder if anyone will tell him the truth?

Those who are actors should take some time to research their medieval times, they were the court jesters, the hired "fools"...not much has changed.

Another Great Idea

I just read this in the Bee...a national columnist suggested that, instead of pursuing the nomination of John Bolton for UN Ambassador; "Dubya" should nominate "Poppy". George H.W. Bush would be perfect for the job. Really! No kidding! " I'm not being sarcastic's a good idea.

The Traveling Buck

The New Yorker: FactThis page view is a year old. And here is what I read in the Times this morning...

We learned last week that after a high-level investigation, the Army had cleared four of the five top officers who were responsible for prison policies and operations in Iraq. The fifth officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of the Army Reserve, had already been relieved of her command of the military police unit at Abu Ghraib. (She has complained, and not without reason, that she was a scapegoat for the failures of higher-ranking officers.)

As Eric Schmitt wrote in The Times: "Barring new evidence, the inquiry by the Army's inspector general effectively closes the Army's book on whether the highest-ranking officers in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal should be held accountable for command failings described in past reviews."

This is the way atrocities are dealt with in Mr. Bush's world of war. The higher-ups responsible for training, supervising and disciplining the troops - in other words, the big shots who presided over a system that ran shamefully amok - escaped virtually unscathed.

So now we know exactly where the buck stops...


Recently, I was subtly accused of not being patriotic. I have heard it before, but this time I thought about it in some depth and I found it to be troubling. Troubling, because I believe the opposite to be true. No, I don’t wave flags and I will not (no, never!) say that I’m proud of my country…“right or wrong!” But those things certainly aren’t the mark of a patriot.

Starting back at the beginning…all through school I learned of patriotism. Patrick Henry, Thomas Payne and George Washington; they were my heroes. I was a color bearer in the Cub Scouts. Then, I had to pass the Constitution test to move on to high school. And all during this time I accepted everything I was told about the Pilgrims, the Founding Father’s and the great struggles during the Revolutionary War. I even believed that the first colonists stepped off the boat and onto Plymouth Rock. (I saw a picture of the rock!) If all of those things were patriotism…I was patriotic.

Later, when I was 19, I joined the Navy. That in itself is not a patriotic thing to do. Lot’s of people do it because they have nothing better to do or they are looking for a secure government paycheck. The fact that some people will consider you patriotic for doing it becomes an added bonus. And sometimes the patriotism angle will give you some comfort when actually faced with the possibility of war. I remember that feeling during the first Lebanon crisis when units from our base were sent to that country and later, during the Cuban missile crisis. After six years of service I was given an Honorable Discharge and became an official veteran. And that is something that far less than 10% of Americans ever do…sure sounds patriotic to me.

It was after my time in the Navy that I became a different kind of patriot. For one, I began to question some of the history and I found it to be false. I learned of the dictum that history is always written by the victors and that made me think about the history I had read. And then I noticed that some of those who spoke the loudest and most vehemently about their love for the country were not willing to act on that love and put on a uniform. Vietnam divided this country into those who believed we could do no wrong and those who knew we had done something wrong. I was one of the latter. And as it turned out, we were right. Did I love my country less for it? No, but I certainly didn’t trust those in charge of the country. I had seen and heard the lies they were capable of.

America is an inanimate object; from shore to shore, a collection of rock and soil. It’s the people that make up what we call America and that is always in flux. America reflects us, as we are, today, and when I see that image to be less than what I think it should be, I am angered. The “huddled masses, yearning to be free” aren’t always welcomed in this land of the free. And the freedom to speak is still being defined in our country. Our liberties are always under attack, and sometimes by the very same people who pretend to be our protectors, our leaders.

If you think that all public officials are selfless and guided only by their love for the country. If you believe that Congress exists only to serve. If you believe that the President has only the interests of the people at heart…then you are the worst kind of patriot. One who doesn’t bother to seek the truth.

It’s my belief that you can’t be a patriot unless you are constantly on guard against those who would take your freedom. And that is why I question everything that this government does. I keep a copy of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence on my computer. And I read it now and then, whenever I see or hear something that challenges what I remember to be in those documents.

The flag? No matter what kind of “magic” we try to ascribe to it, is still a collection of red, white and blue fabric. The Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence are just words on old pieces of paper. And the truth is…America is more than all of them combined. And so we have a task…to bring life to that flag and meaning to those words. And we can’t do it by simply believing it to be true. We need to be inquisitive and to constantly prod all those to whom we give authority. We need to be defiant in the face of wrongful authority and always question, question, question! And when, as a country, we do wrong, we negate all the good we can do if we don’t acknowledge our mistakes and do what is right and good.

Patriotism? I’ll match mine against anyone’s.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


It's a quiet morning so far...the twins are asleep. Yes, we have houseguests this week and things will be quite lively once the twins are awake.

It's also a gray morning...clouds are hanging over the orchard and rain is forecast for the afternoon and evening hours.

Today was going to be the first day of the irrigating season, but, because of the forecast we all decided to forego the event and wait another two weeks. "We" being those of us served by this particular section of the ditch. I'm at the head of the line for irrigating water and so it's my job to go to the main channel, lift the gate and turn the water into our tributary. Our small section of ditch serves six properties and it takes about 4 hours to flood them all. This takes place every two weeks all through the growing season.


Storm over weather service initiativesWho knew that weather could be so controversial? Let's say that private firms do take over weather I get any money back when the forecast is wrong? I would think that the private firms could easily compete by simply being more accurate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

California's Highway 395

California's Highway 395I was reading Via magazine this morning and saw this article. It stirred up a lot of memories for me! I began traveling this road, 395, in the 1940's and have traveled just about every mile of it since that time. (repeatedly) It's still my favorite road and the towns along the way are places I would gladly live...if my family would join me! My favorite spot? Bridgeport, California. The Eastern Sierra's are the most beautiful mountains in California. Really...

Murphy resigns > News > Metro -- Murphy resignsWhat a shame...He never should have had the job to begin with. Donna Frye won the election (my opinion) and since Murphy was a former judge, I believe that helped him to get a decision invalidating all the ballots that were clearly for Frye. So justice (sort of) prevails. To make it right, they shouldn't saddle San Diegan's with the cost of another election...just let Donna do the job she was elected to.

Surfer's Rule!

Morning Musings

Tuesday morning is here and it’s just a few minutes after 4. I am in need of a cup of coffee and I have it now, ready to be sipped and savored. Ah! That’s much better.

Now I need to answer the question that was posed to me (indirectly) last night. Why do I have a blog? I didn’t answer the question and I have thought a lot about it since then. I suppose I should know “why” as well…and here’s my (indirect) answer.

First, I enjoy reading. In my early school years, I was absent quite often because I had asthma. I fell behind in all subjects. I couldn’t read and I couldn’t spell and I was in the 3rd grade. Then; one day, out of the blue…a revelation! The words made sense to me and in no time at all I had caught up to my classmates in reading and spelling. And since I had to spend so much time at home, books became my passport out of the house. When I was reading, I was no longer lying sick in bed; I was living a life of adventure and thrills.

And I have continued to read, all of my life. I still buy books, though I have a library card and I use it as well. I read 2 newspapers every morning; the ink and paper variety, plus 2 or 3 on-line news sources that show up in my in-box automatically each day. I can’t even imagine life without books, magazines or newspapers. Do you remember that movie about the robot that read everything it could find, all the while exclaiming, “Input! Input! More input!” That’s me…

And what does reading have to do with posting to a blog? Well, reading can be compared to a one-sided conversation. The author speaks and you listen. I can only do that for so long and then I feel a need to enter in with my own comments. And in a world without blogs, that’s hard to do. As you may know, I have kept a journal for the past 15 years and that has been one way for me to enter into the conversation. Also, if you were to search my computer’s hard drive, you would find hundreds of documents that I have written during the same time. And I still write. I have an ongoing work of fiction that I keep returning to every few weeks. It doesn’t seem to progress very well, but I enjoy the writing process.

Okay, now you know why I write. But what about the blog itself? Well, I ran across about 3 or 4 years ago and I subscribed and began a private blog. You can still do that. Post your thoughts and opinions and no one can read them, no one at all. Talk about a one-sided conversation! That didn’t hold my attention for long and I really wasn’t ready to share my writings with anyone. Then, one day, a friend of mine sent me a link to his new blog and asked if I was interested in such a thing for myself? I remembered my earlier attempts and found my way back to where I was recognized and welcomed back. (A “cookie” trick) I decided to make my blog a public one; after carefully editing all of the old material I found in it.

For me, a blog is a place for a conversation. It’s a place for me to comment and to provoke thought. It’s a place to share. Haven’t you ever had an "out loud" conversation with your television when you heard some outrageous comment? That’s a blogging moment, though a private one. I rarely think of my blog as a public forum, yet I am reminded of that every once in awhile when I get a comment from a stranger.

As I just said, it’s simply a conversation. If you were sitting here in my study with me, right now…we would be holding the same conversation. I would share my thoughts and I would hope to provoke you with them. I would show you some of the photographs I have taken and I would tell you about my garden. Just as I do with my blog now...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Record Setting

"Since November's election, the victors have managed to be on the wrong side of public opinion on one issue after another: the economy, Social Security privatization, Terri Schiavo, Tom DeLay. By large margins, Americans say that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and Mr. Bush is the least popular second-term president on record."

I always knew that he would set some sort of record.

"The administration's upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II...And only 33 percent of those polled believe the economy is improving, while 59 percent think it's getting worse."

OK, now when does the “trickle-down” effect of Republican economic policy begin? Is it sometime after 3 years? How long should we wait?

"The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns."

Just like his dad…I still remember the time (during a publicity event) when Poppa Bush saw a laser scanner in action at a supermarket and how he marveled at it. That was my clue as to just how far remove the Bush family was from reality…

The Agony of War

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: The Agony of War

Earlier this month ( ) I wrote about a short note about Marla Ruzicka, linking her name to a story of how and why she died. Read this one as well.

Justice Sunday

“Dr. James Dobson, founder of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, whose political sister group was a sponsor of the event, defended Mr. DeLay and his attacks on the judiciary, calling the Supreme Court "unaccountable," "out of control," and a despotic oligarchy.… The founding fathers, he said, intended for the president and Congress to "check the judiciary and it hasn't done it," he said.”

I don’t know where or how Dr. Dobson received his doctorate, but if the above is a true account of what he said, it’s certain that it never involved any studies in history or civics. Or, so much time has elapsed since his last constitutional studies class that he has forgotten the material…it may be kinder to simply say that he forgot.

Say What You Mean

From a report on Justice Sunday...

“About 1,200 liberal Christians gathered at a rally at a Presbyterian church here to protest what one speaker, the left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis, called "a declaration of a religious war" and "an attempt to hijack religion."

Why do we allow this kind of reporting to dictate what we think?

Define “Liberal Christian” and Left-leaning” for me. Now define “Right-wing” and Conservative Christian”.

By using these labels, the reporter is off the hook for any kind of truth in reporting, as the definitions are as varied as there are readers.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Competition in the field of health providers makes me sick. And it should do the same to you…in fact it may be doing that right now.

First, I have to ask why we think it’s a good thing to privatize medicine, but it’s not good to privatize …oh, let’s say, “Armies and Navies”. Why not? Is it because the defense of the nation is too important to allow some private company make life and death decisions that affect millions of citizens? And the health of the nation is…what? Less important?

Have you ever considered that maybe; just maybe…you have been fed a pack of lies by the health insurance industry? And maybe, just maybe…competition is not the way to ensure adequate health care for all of our citizens?

Private insurance does not compete by delivering healthcare at a lower cost. They compete on the basis of “Risk Selection”. They turn away those they consider at risk for higher medical bills and they stonewall demands for payment whenever they can. Every day that a $10,000 payment stays in their bank and not the doctors bank, generates interest money for them.

Logic and experience should tell us that the health system is broken and it won’t be fixed by more of the same lies from the insurance providers. Health care is BIG business and it shouldn’t be. It should be what we, as a nation, can do for each other…care for each other.

Liar, Liar

Let’s call it as it is…I snipped a piece (below) from a column that Frank Rich (NY Times) wrote…

“The fraudulence of "Justice Sunday" begins but does not end with its sham claims to solidarity with the civil rights movement of that era.”The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias," says the flier for tonight's show, "and now it is being used against people of faith." In truth, Bush judicial nominees have been approved in exactly the same numbers as were Clinton second-term nominees. Of the 13 federal appeals courts, 10 already have a majority of Republican appointees. So does the Supreme Court. It's a lie to argue, as Tom DeLay did last week, that such a judiciary is the "left's last legislative body," and that Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, is the poster child for "outrageous" judicial overreach. Our courts are as highly populated by Republicans as the other two branches of government.”

So, after reading this, what do you conclude?

Here’s what I see…a shameful grab for power. With a Republican majority already in all levels of the judicial system, the fact that Bush has a problem getting more judges approved is testimony to the effectiveness of the separation of powers.

What we should be alarmed about is the further politicization of the judiciary. Do we want judges or political lackeys?

Shouldn't the question be, "Is he/she a good judge?" and not "Is he/she a good Republican/Democrat?"

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Wally's World

I spotted this news bit in the Chico News & Review...

Representative Wally Herger, R-Chico writes in a letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Resources. "Northern Californians are being held hostage at the gas pump." The administration, he says, "has demonstrated a complete and total lack of leadership in preventing this problem. It is a clear failure of domestic and foreign policy." Has Wally lost his mind? No, he wrote this letter in March of 2000. Bill Clinton was the president and gasoline prices were approaching $1.75 a gallon.

We haven't heard a word out of you concerning the current got your tongue?

Oh, silly goose!

(Sorry about the animal animals were harmed in the writing of this post)


I just finished the morning reading of the newspaper and one item caught my attention. It was the story of a local woman who is going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a distance of about 2,700 miles. She started earlier this month (at the border near Mexico) and expects to finish in the fall of this year. She is 66 years old and said, “It’s now or never.” Hey! I can relate to that…and that’s something I would like to put on my own calendar. What a great accomplishment that would be. Now I need to find someone with the same goal, to accompany me. Any volunteers?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Friday Musings

The view from my window is unparalleled. I suppose some might take a look out the same window and wonder about my grip on reality. There is a white metal shed that houses my riding mower and other implements, and currently that is the first thing you see. It is my foreground. But beyond that boring structure is the whole world! I can see trees waving in the wind, I can see the grapes ripening in the sun, I can see hawks gliding silently, and later, just as the sun goes down, I can see the bats fly out of the barn as they prepare to dine on mosquitoes. I’ve seen an owl. Right now, the winds are whipping the trees without mercy as a storm moves through the area. I can see my new olive tree bending and recovering from each blast. Squinting, I can see some asparagus poking through the soil of the garden and I know what’s going to be on the table tomorrow night! The pecan tree, not fully leafed, bends lightly, gracefully. and by stretching a little bit, I can see the wild tree roses on the adjacent property. The sky is an odd light gray color with shades of white here and there. I heard some thunder…

Sometime in the future I will build a wall in front of the shed. Not a tall one, just enough to obscure my view of it. And on that wall I will put a mosaic mural, designed to please me each time I look out. And plants, lots of plants! A garden to contemplate and a mural to make me smile.


"WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told lawmakers yesterday that large government deficits threaten the U.S. economy and called on Congress to return to the budget discipline of the 1990s. ( 1990's - weren't those the Clinton years?) Controlling government spending is an especially urgent matter, Greenspan told the Senate Budget Committee, because about 76 million baby boomers - Americans born between 1946 and 1964 - will begin leaving the work force soon. Then there won't be enough tax revenue coming in for the federal government to meet retirement and health care promises to boomers."

Boy, you have to admire how Alan can scramble from one position to the next!

Left Behind

No, not the book...but the No Children Left Behind scheme.

Bush's spokesperson, Secretary Spellings has warned that Federal funds will be withheld from states that do not go along with the scheme. These are funds that have no relationship to education but are being used for blackmail purposes.

The New York Times said this..."Spellings should make it clear that Congress meant business when it declared an end to educational inequality and required the states to actually teach impoverished children in exchange for getting federal aid. Money is clearly crucial, but the argument over funds should not be allowed to derail the new law, which is already showing that achievement gaps can be narrowed if the schools apply themselves."

If Congress meant business, they would have included the funds. They didn't...they were simply posturing.

Yes, achievement gaps can appear to have long as students are "Taught to the test".

A Sad Day

During the 2004 election campaign, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson intimated that Christians should only vote for George W. Bush. Then the Republican National Committee circulated lists of "duties" to local churches, which included turning over their congregational membership lists to the RNC.

Now the Religious Right is saying that the support of the president's judicial nominations is a test of orthodox faith. This is a serious violation of the relationship between faith and politics.

James Dobson (Focus on the Family), Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Chuck Colson (Prison Fellowship), and Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler are hosting "Justice Sunday," a broadcast this Sunday from one of those Super-churches in Louisville, Kentucky. Their message falls far short of being Christian, as they insist that those who don't support President Bush's judicial nominees are being hostile to "people of faith."

How dare they!

(I find it hard to believe that Chuck Colson would stoop to this…From the material of his that I have read in the past, I thought he was a person I could have trusted. I guess his prison experiences are fading from his memory.)

Senator Bill Frist intends to join them, in a purely political move to get support for his effort to end the Senate practice of filibustering. His appearance at this event gives an endorsement to the Religious Right's claim that the Democratic filibuster of a small number of very conservative judges is "a filibuster against people of faith."

Again, how dare they!

Despite the fact that many Democrats who oppose some of President Bush's nominees are themselves people of faith, Republicans and their religious supporters are questioning the faith and religious integrity of their opponents. As Christians, how can they do that?

This only escalates the religious/political wars. There is an assumption by Republicans and their conservative religious allies that, somehow, they own religion in America and they are demanding that religious people vote only their way and they show disrespect for the faith of those who disagree with their political agenda.

These are not mere political offenses; they offend me on a personal level. Can’t we call these people what they are? Such as, morally irresponsible?

I am a person of faith and for me (or anyone else) to be attacked because we don’t agree with the president, is wrong, just plain wrong!

What happened to the real issues that Christians should be focusing on? Such as the uplifting of the poor and hungry, the ethics of war, the tragic number of abortions in America, the protection of the environment, or – the list goes on and on.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, said this on May 2, 2003. "There were not sufficient reasons to unleash a war against Iraq. To say nothing of the fact that, given the new weapons that make possible destructions that go beyond the combatant groups, today we should be asking ourselves if it is still licit to admit the very existence of a 'just war.'

Business is good!

The Economist reported...
"Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, said quarterly earnings dropped by 87% to $301m, due to a tax charge and costs to suspend sales of a drug. Meanwhile, Eli Lilly reported an 84% increase, earning $737m. Johnson & Johnson announced record profits and sales, and Roche Holding posted a 14% jump in quarterly revenue."
Long, long ago...70+ years to be exact. Posted by Hello

Just Kidding

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger publicly apologized Wednesday for his earlier statements that California should "close the borders" with Mexico to control illegal immigration, saying he had misspoken because of a "language problem.''
"The bottom line is, I misspoke, and I'm sorry if I offended anyone," Schwarzenegger said about his comments Tuesday to a newspaper publishers' group in San Francisco. "I meant 'securing' our borders, not 'closing' them.

"We have a great trade agreement with Mexico; we are good friends,'' the governor said Wednesday to reporters, adding "we are benefiting from these talented workers, so we have got to come up with a policy'' on immigration.

Even “Faux” News reported on this story… (I guess they decided to hire a reporter).

But there’s more to the story. The governor has broken new ground in the field of political apologies. “A language problem” will now suffice when it comes to backtracking.

Don’t get me wrong…I believe him! Who wouldn’t believe a man who has made millions by pretending to be someone he isn’t?


Oil drilling in Mississippi, flood repairs in Utah and a stadium for Washington's new baseball team. Yes, they are all related. These were all added to the spending bill for Afghanistan and Iraq. Since the White House has decided that this money ($80 billion) doesn’t need to show up in the annual budget, they are trying to hurry this through Congress by declaring it to be an emergency and intimating that “patriots” wouldn’t or shouldn't question it. Since the Republicans have decided that the only true patriots are from their own party, those Republicans have found a few emergencies of their own to add to the bill.

The total war and reconstruction investment in Afghanistan and Iraq is approaching $250 billion…add another $80 billion and we’re talking about some serious money now!

Odd Bedfellows

“The nation's largest teachers' union and eight school districts in Michigan, Texas and Vermont sued the Department of Education yesterday, accusing it of violating a passage in the law that says states cannot be forced to spend their own money to meet federal requirements.”

The union and the school districts…agreeing! Now that’s a story. And it’s one that all school districts should be reading. It’s time to make the lawmakers accountable for their actions. Creating and passing a law without the necessary funding in place is political grandstanding of the first magnitude. The politicians grab the headlines when the law is passed and then do their best to stonewall those who point out that they can’t afford the new law without some extra money.

The problem is still one of money and that is why there are only eight school districts involved in the suit. I hope that others can find enough cash as well as courage to fight the feds on this.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Kids' cussing - a step beyond sticks and stones

Kids' cussing - a step beyond sticks and stones | csmonitor.comFinally, someone who says (quite well) what I want to say about cursing. I especially like this point he made, "It's simply lazy language". His book, Cuss Control, the Complete Book on How to Curb Your Cursing. should be required reading for high school students.

A Great Day

What a great day…the sun is shining and the Lord has blessed me.

I went to school this morning with my grandson. It was only pre-school but it was still a challenge for me. The chairs are far too small! It was Doughnuts with Dad (or some other special person) Day and so Kyle and I got to break bread (doughnut) with each other. First, we had to make a commemorative hand print on paper. This involves placing your warm hand into some very cold paint and then pressing your hand onto the commemorative paper. The paint did wash off easily and the wash water was warm. Then we had to choose a doughnut and I was in luck, my favorite, an old fashioned cake doughnut with no accessories was in the box and we were the first ones in line. I scored! After that, I was presented with a magnificently decorated necktie to hang around my neck. Then we were off to explore the classroom, where (surprise!) I didn’t seem to fit? I ended up crouching in most of the play areas where Kyle wanted to show me something special. It only lasted about 45 minutes, but all in all…a very good day!

Safety First

"WASHINGTON - A congressional investigation found airport screeners employed by private companies do a better job detecting dangerous objects than government screeners, according to a House member who has seen the classified report." Duh!

“In a separate report issued Tuesday, the inspector general for the Homeland Security Department faulted the Transportation Security Administration for allowing lavish spending on a $19 million crisis management center, including about $500,000 to acquire artwork, silk plants and other decorative and miscellaneous items.” That doesn’t surprise you, does it?

“After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Congress ordered every commercial airport but five to switch from privately employed screeners to a government work force. The five exceptions — in San Francisco; Tupelo, Miss.; Rochester, N.Y.; Kansas City, Mo.; and Jackson Hole, Wyo. — all have private workers supervised by Transportation Security Administration officials.” Tupelo and Jackson Hole don’t seem like the best choices…but, I suppose it’s a mix of large, medium and small airports.

School Days

Last night we attended the Durham schools Spring Musical and we really enjoyed it. Not because of the music; it was good, but because of the school music program itself. I estimated the numbers for the audience to be around 300 plus. That’s 300 or more parents and grandparents who left their televisions to come and to hear 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders play. And each of those classes had 45 or more students participating in the band. That’s 200 or more students. Why is that? The Durham school district is small and has all 3 schools, elementary, middle school and high school on the same general campus. It’s a school complex that is “owned” by the citizens of Durham. And they are proud of it...

I would say that is the reason for the success of the music program. Durham schools are not a part of some huge school district, where parents have lost their voices…and their interest. In Chico, 15 minutes from Durham, the schools are in crisis. The parents in Chico would do well to look at Durham schools as a model. They should take their schools back from the district administrators and make them their own again.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

An Evangelical Declaration

An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation: Evangelical Environmental NetworkInteresting stuff...


Sojourners magazine has arrived and I have just begun to read it. I did make a quick scan through it and found it satisfactory. Jim Wallis is the editor and he is also the author of the book God’s Politics, a book that I’m currently reading. When I say “currently”, what I mean to say is that it is one of 4 books that I am reading concurrently, but reading it I am. (I really need some discipline!)

Here are some excerpts from the first article that attracted my attention…

When Enough is Enough
Why God's abundant life won't fit in a shopping cart, and other mysteries of consumerism.
by William T. Cavanaugh

The contrast between consumerism and simple living at first glance seems fairly straightforward: Consumerism is about having more stuff, simple living is about having less stuff…As the old vitamin commercial from the ’80s so bluntly put it, "I want MORE for ME."

Avarice, however, does not really exhaust the phenomenon of consumerism. Consumerism is not so much about having more as it is about having something else. It is not buying but shopping that captures the spirit of consumerism…

What marks consumerism as something new is its tendency to reduce everything, both the material and the spiritual, to a commodity able to be exchanged. Things that no other culture ever thought could be bought and sold—water, genetic codes, names (Tostitos Fiesta Bowl), human blood, and the rights to emit pollutants into the air—are now routinely offered on the market…

Consumerism is a spiritual attitude that is deeply entangled with changes since the Industrial Revolution in the way goods are produced…Most people lived on farms and made the majority of the goods that they needed…
With the relentless pressures on the family farm that continue today, the home as a site of significant production has all but disappeared. We make almost nothing of what we consume. The process of globalization has accelerated this detachment from production. Fewer and fewer of us have any idea what factory work is like, since manufacturing jobs are more and more being transferred overseas. Nor do we have much more than a vague idea of the wages or working conditions of the workers who make what we buy…

We know almost nothing about how products are made and how they end up in our shopping cart…

Consumerism is a restless spirit, constantly in search of something new. Consumerism is typified by detachment, not attachment, for desire must be kept on the move. Consumerism is also typified by scarcity, not abundance, for as long as desire is endless, there will never be enough stuff to go around…

True abundance is never realized by the competition of insatiable desires for scarce goods. It is realized by emptying the small self into the larger reality of God’s superabundant life…

The Christian task in a consumer society, then, is to create economic spaces that underscore our spiritual and physical connection to creation and to each other…

Participation in God also informs how we view one another. Human persons are not only connected to things but to other persons. We are all made in the image of God, and all made to participate in the body of Christ. Such is our close connection that we share the same sufferings and the same joys (1 Corinthians 12:26). It is as impossible to ignore sweatshop labor as it is to ignore pain in our own bodies…

This article made me get my copy of Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline, off of the bookshelf. His comments on Provision are quite clearly challenging, “The Old Testament contains promise after promise of provision. “The Lord your God will bless you in all you produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful” (Deut. 16:15)” and he explains that some have taken this to mean “Love Jesus-get rich.” He goes on to say, “We all need adequate time for reflection, meditation, rest, conversation. The reasons many of us do not have the timeful life are varied, but the root problem is one of failing to live in the Christian grace of simplicity.”

All in all, good reading and I would recommend the magazine
Something I remember from 1955. I would have been 15 and auto parts catalog were my favorites! Catalogs and Plastic Man comic books... Posted by Hello

Army misses recruiting goal - Army misses recruiting goal

I don't get it? Didn't the Republicans win the last election? Aren't they willing to help out a little here? From what I read in the "Letters to the Editor" each day, the recruiters should be hanging out signs that read..."Sorry, we're full."

Monday, April 18, 2005

Bait and Switch

I saw these words on the front page of the Bee, “Rural residents could lose home health aid”. Of course I was interested. I’m a rural resident.

Here the story in brief; two years ago, the Republican leadership offered a $100 million, one year and one time package to rural members of Congress. It was an “add-on” to the cost of Medicare services in rural areas. The offer was aimed at Republican conservatives in those rural areas. In turn, they provided the votes to secure approval of Bush’s Medicare prescription drug bill.

As a result of that action, thousands of elderly people had a chance of getting nursing care and therapy in their own homes. The effect of this would be a higher probability of keeping them out of nursing homes and hospitals. The catch is-it was only for one year. The $100 million is gone now and it’s doubtful that it will be renewed. So, all those who benefited from the money are back to square one and the pharmaceutical industry is reaping the benefits of that prescription drug bill that was passed. The rural congressmen looked good long enough to get re-elected and besides, most of the constituents who might remember what just happened to them, will have died before the next election.

Minnesota statistics…
Average monthly cost to maintain elderly in own homes: $1,345
Average monthly cost to maintain elderly in nursing home: $4,107

Score another one for the compassionate conservatives.
Here's a sample of that old magazine...a barbershop standard. Posted by Hello

Shave and a Haircut

After posting some of my thoughts to this blog, I started thinking about what that means…I have voiced an opinion and given it some small amount of validity by posting it on the internet. But is it really any different than the opinions that are voiced at the local barbershop? Oops! I forgot…that kind of barbershop is long gone. Oh, there are a few of the old style shops around, but not many. Growing up, I remember sitting in the chair against the wall, waiting for my turn to sit in the barber’s chair. There was no mistaking the fact that the shop was a place for men. I was surrounded by men, all much bigger than I was at the age of 8. Old fishing and hunting magazines were piled on a small table between the chairs against the wall. There were even a few copies of the Police Gazette, a racy magazine of the 30’s and 40’s. And while I waited, I listened; the opinions flowed like water! You were surrounded by them…Wow! Virtual Blogging!


A recap of Sunday is in order. We went to worship once more at the American Baptist church in Orland. Afterwards, we talked and decided that it isn’t going to be home for us. They don’t have much in the way of a Sunday school for adults and that is very important. That was one of the problems with the EV Free church as well. We are thinking of going to the Evangelical Lutheran church next Sunday. There are still a Federated church and a Community church to visit in Orland before we have to go further (to Chico) in our search for a church home. Interesting sidebar…we spent some time researching the local Lutheran church, using Google to find the material, and discovered an immense amount of data, including the financial reports for the last 10 years, the ethnic makeup of the congregation, membership numbers, mission statements, etc, etc. I wonder if churches are beginning to understand what retailers already know? An increasing number of people use the internet for just this kind of research. Apparently the Lutheran church understands this or the data wouldn’t have been there.

There is a negative to knowing all of this data and that's just data! It has nothing to do with the people you will meet and how you will relate to them as brothers and sisters in Christ. We noted from the data that the Lutheran church is pretty much "plain vanilla" in its membership. And that is a common failing in this small town.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


Republicans sharply split over immigration | csmonitor.comWhat part of "Illegal" don't employers get? You can read the article in total and you won't find any mention of the employers who encourage illegals, hire them and never face any legal action at all...I wonder whose political party they contribute to?

Read This

An American activist who dared to help Iraqi victims | I will bet you that you didn't hear her name mentioned on the news today. I know I didn't see her name in the newspaper...We should all know her name.

Little Red Hen

We just discovered this unique's located at 8th and Wall St. in Chico. It's a non-profit nursery for the benefit of children and adults with disabilities. This place is worth a visit as the plants are certainly value priced and the selection is quite varied. Apparently the selection changes all of the time as donated plants make their way into - and out of, the store. It's a small place...but it should be seen! In fact, they have planted a garden in that mow strip that lies between the sidewalk and the road and it's fantastic!

Liar, Liar...Pants on Fire

As I was reading the Forum section of the Bee this morning, I was struck by the number of letter writers and columnist that seemed to have “truth” on their side. It was the same thing in the Chico paper…everyone has the truth on their side! So why do we disagree? Apparently, “truth” is elusive.

And then I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there were an organization that you could turn to, to determine where the truth is, about everything…And, what if we mandated that the Legislature become the truth seekers and not the law makers? There is a novel idea! Every day they would have to sit down and hammer away at every question that came up and determine the truth. Of course, lobbyists would not be allowed to speak to them and they would have to rely on sack lunches for their midday sustenance, but the laws would soon take care of themselves and dignity would be restored to their chosen profession. Arguments would soon fade away; “ask a congressman” would be the solution to end all arguments. Utopia!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Strawberry Fields

On our way to lunch in Orland, we passed a strawberry stand on the corner of O and Hwy 32. A quick, 55 mph, glance revealed that they had a supply of deep red and ripe strawberries. We looked at each other and said, in unison…”Let’s get some strawberries on our way back!” And so, 45 minutes later, we pulled into the small parking area next to the stand.

Now we had looked at some strawberries on Thursday at the Thursday Night Market in Chico, but they were the uniformly large berries that taste a lot like straw and are not berry-like at all. And so we had passed them up that night, hoping to find the real thing! Had we found it? These berries certainly looked good, very deep red, indicative of rich flavor. But, they were that “large” size that we are so wary of. The price was only $1.50 a basket and the measure was more than adequate. We bought 2 baskets and they were overflowing and then some.

We got them home and washed them in cold water…anticipating the rush of rich juice when we bit into them. But of course…you already know that they were not the berries we had anticipated. Straw again! Whatever happened to the rich berries of my youth? Soft and succulent, the juices dripping off of your chin. Are they lost and gone forever?

When we lived in Roseville, I had bought some strawberry plants at Capitol Nursery and had raised a small crop alongside the driveway. The berries were small, maybe 1” in diameter, but what a flavor! I have to find some more of those…that is the task assigned to me by my loving wife. Anybody know the names of good strawberries?

Say it Again! - Creators Syndicate
Oh, Molly! You say this so well...

Here's more than you really wanted to know about taxes. But, knowledge is power.

The Friendly Skies

"WASHINGTON - Security at U.S. airports is no better under federal control than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks; a key House member says two government reports will conclude. The Government Accountability Office — the investigative arm of Congress — and the Homeland Security Department's inspector general are expected to soon release their findings on the performance of Transportation Security Administration screeners."

A subject that I know something about...and it only confirms what I have said many times in the past.

The TSA won't comment on the specifics of the reports until they are released, spokesman Mark Hatfield Jr. said.

But, he said: "When the political posturing is over, rational people* will see that American screeners today are the best we have ever had and that they are limited only by current technology and security procedures that are significantly influenced by privacy demands**."

*People that think like we do…
**Passengers are unwilling to fly nude…

On Jan. 26, Homeland Security's acting inspector general, Richard Skinner, testified that "the ability of TSA screeners to stop prohibited items from being carried through the sterile areas of the airports fared no better than the performance of screeners prior to Sept. 11, 2001."

Skinner told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that the reasons the screeners failed undercover audits had to do with training, equipment, management and policy.

A year ago, Clark Kent Ervin, then-inspector general of Homeland Security, told lawmakers the TSA screeners and privately contracted airport workers "performed about the same, which is to say, equally poorly."

And the kicker in this report was...(This should make you think!)

Each month, screeners take from passengers about a half-million things, including 160,000 knives, 2,000 box cutters? and 70 guns. (and how many made it past the screeners?)

A recap and some personal history. Before 9/11/01, it was legal to carry a box cutter aboard a plane and the screeners at the time didn't make a mistake in allowing them aboard. And last year, while on a United flight to Chicago, I had a meal and was given a plastic knife, a steel fork and a steel spoon. How thoughtful!

Government Security...a true oxymoron.

Speaking of Journals

I should have mentioned that there is a good guidebook available to help you with the creation of a journal. The book is Legacy, by Linda Spence and I found my copy at Restoration Hardware about 5 years ago. I imagine that Amazon would have it...

Time is Flying

How quickly the time passes. Here it is; the middle of April already, and it seems as if the New Year just started a few weeks ago. If it weren’t for my daily journal, I wouldn’t know where the time went at all. And I do go back through the pages to see what I was doing and what was happening on certain dates. In my journal, I can go back to August of 1990. At first it was difficult to make daily entries, but over time I have improved until I rarely ever miss a day. It’s a great habit and I wish I could impress that fact on everyone. I can give these thoughts, this collection of rambling words to my children and grandchildren. The contents of a daily journal aren’t that important, in fact, from my perspective they are somewhat boring, but it creates a larger picture of who you are/were and what happened during your lifetime. I sure wish that my mom or dad had maintained a journal. And my grandparent’s…what a treasure that would be! With computers and word processing programs, it’s so easy to create and maintain a journal. So just do it…

Friday, April 15, 2005

Social Security...Anyone?

Close: Stocks got hammered for the third straight day, as an earnings miss from IBM and disappointing economic data further exacerbated concerns of a weakening economy... The Dow recorded its first third consecutive triple-digit loss in over 2 years while the S&P and the Nasdaq also closed at new lows for the year... Lower than expected Q1 earnings from IBM (IBM 76.51 -7.13) kicked things off, underpinning a negative tone to trading that continued to deteriorate into the close...

Health Dollars

"A 2003 study in The New England Journal of Medicine estimated that administrative costs took 31 cents out of every dollar the United States spent on health care, compared with only 17 cents in Canada."

Hey! It's only an estimate...

Against People...

“Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.”

Frist scares me. He obviously doesn’t care that a republic needs to protect diverse opinions if it is to survive. What do you call a country where only one opinion is allowed? We need an independent judiciary, not one that follows some party line…in this case, Frist is doing his best to demonize those who disagree with Bush.

And what if those Democrats are “people of faith” as well? Or can Frist see into the hearts of all? He obviously has superpowers as he was recently able to diagnose a medical condition by simply looking at a short video clip.

He does have a Doctorate in Medicine, but I wonder if that course of instruction included Ethics 101?

The Flying Circus

I have always been a fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus. They are one of those comedic groups that you either love...or you wonder why anyone would like them at all? There doesn't seem to be a middle ground for the Python's...and so when I stumbled across this piece from Terry Jones (A Python) I had to share it.,2763,1457630,00.html

Ah, those Python's...a laugh a minute!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Great Idea

Hey! I have a great idea...let's put our retirement funds into the hands of those smart people in New York and Washington.

Today's Closing: The major indices added to yesterday's thrashing, as concerns about slowing economic growth and corporate earnings kept buyers on the sidelines and closed every economic sector in negative territory... The Dow hit a five-month low while the Nasdaq, which raised a "correction" red flag now that it's off more than 10% in 2005, and the S&P also touched new lows for the year... Just a couple of weeks ago, investors were concerned about inflationary pressures stemming from a growing economy...
Now, the market appears to be unnerved by exactly the opposite - a slowing economy, as demand for commodities like steel and oil has continued to deteriorate... The latter even managed to fall through the $50/bbl mark for the first time since Feb 22, albeit temporarily, before short-covering helped lift the commodity 1.8% to close at $51.13/bbl (+$0.91)... But just as falling oil prices over the last two weeks weren't a source of strength for stocks, it would be a contradiction in the current environment to suggest that rising oil prices were a source of weakness behind today's broad-based move to the downside...

You did understand all of that, didn't you? In simple terms and never stated in the report above...the only people making money today were those who were managing the stocks and bonds for the investors.

Late Breaking News

It’s just after 2 in the afternoon and I have mowed (or is it “mown”) the lawns, gone to the store for sugar and flour, (I’m making more zucchini bread) bought some gas for the mower ($13 for 5 gallons!) and used up all of the white paint in the shop area of the garage. Let’s see…nope, not much else to report. Hold on! Late breaking news! My oldest daughter has a paying job! She was just hired at a local nursery and this job will be right up her alley. More on this development later…with film at 11.

We Love You, Wal-Mart!

America's trade deficit hit another monthly high of $61.0 billion in February. Some analysts took comfort? that the deficit with China narrowed slightly from $15.3 billion in January to $13.9 billion in February—even though this still represented a 67% increase on February 2004.

Of course we really didn't have a chance in February of this year...being such a short month!

Sports drinks and your teeth

Sports drinks worse than soda for teeth, study saysThis is some interesting the fact that they added high fructose corn syrup to Gatorade and that is the one that adds pounds, not energy. They probably had to add the corn syrup to make it palatable.
Here is a shot of the new garden space. There is a lot of work ahead! The wispy looking plant in the foreground is one of my new Manzanillo Olive trees Posted by Hello

Partisans 3 and Ethics 0

Here is another name that just won’t go away…John Negroponte, buddy of Bush 1 and deeply involved in the Iran-Contra Affair, gets one more reward for holding the line, the party line. Despite the good fight to reveal just what kind of a person he is, he will be approved as the head of the newest bureaucracy, the office of the National Intelligence Director.

Negroponte, served as President Reagan's ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. During that time he illegally trained, supported and armed the Contra rebels in Honduras with a goal of overthrowing the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Negroponte's support of the Contras was a violation of American law.The Honduran Army's Battalion 316 was trained by the CIA under Negroponte's direction. During Negroponte's years in Honduras, Battalion 316 killed or “disappeared” at least 185 political enemies. Among those killed were two American citizens.

And let’s not forget John Bolton. Despite damning testimony that even the Republicans had to acknowledge and couldn’t spin away, he will be confirmed as the Ambassador to the UN.

Speaking of John’s…here is one more; John Poindexter, the rehabilitated criminal, made whole again.

All of these appointments make me wonder…does the current occupant of the White House ever have an original thought?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Nuclear Club - Middle Eastern Chapter

I was doing some map reading this morning and looking at the Middle East, the current site of trouble in the world and quite obviously one the most dangerous places when it comes to nuclear weapons. I looked at the nations that have nuclear arms and at the relative distances between those nations. Looking at a map seems to put it all in perspective and it is scary! So why am I posting this? Just mental gymnastics. Keeping my mind exercised...because there isn't much to be done about any of it.

Israel: Some heavy handed rhetoric is coming from Israel these days as Sharon meets with Bush in Texas. Mr. Sharon is urging Bush to put more pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear research. This is coming from the head of a nation that has consistently refused to acknowledge its own nuclear capabilities, despite pressure from the entire world community. Would they be willing to halt their own research? And at the same time, Mr. Sharon is facing growing hostility from the Israeli’s that are living (illegally) in the West Bank, as well as from the right-wing of the government. Mr. Sharon was once a general, but he has become a politician and so he will do anything to stay in power, even if it means an about-face from his previous moderate views regarding a Palestinian state.

Pakistan: This nation has had nuclear weapons for quite awhile now and is probably more dangerous than Iran, where we don’t think they have weapon capability, yet?.? Pakistan shares a border with Iran and has a history of selling nuclear secrets in an effort to allow all Muslim nations to have power to use against Israel. The government of Pakistan is led by one man, a military dictator, and that is most alarming, as we should know from experience that all dictators are targets for the opposition. This dictator has survived one (Maybe more?) assassination attempt. In this case the opposition is right-wing, ultra-nationalists that would love to start a holy war.

Iran: This is the nation that we know very little about. There are rumours galore. Yet the unnamed “U.S. Officials” say that it will be several years from now before Iran has weapons capability. And we know from experience just how reliable “U.S. Officials” are. From what I have read, we haven’t had the ability to obtain reliable intelligence in this country for years.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Good News Bad News

The bad news first…Inflation has outpaced wages for the first time in 14 years. (Let’s see…2005 minus 14 = 1991. The end of the first Bush era.) Last year, the Consumer Price Index rose 2.7% and the average hourly wage rose 2.5%.

Now the good news…The economy has expanded at 4%; better than the historical 3% average. Corporate profits have hit record highs as companies got more productivity out of workers while keeping wages low.

Back to the bad news…Workers are being hit with a weak job market, rising healthcare premiums and inflation.

Back to the good news…American consumers have continued to shop. Why? Because the consumer has seen housing increase in value by 9%, giving them increased “paper wealth”.

OK, I say it’s time for the “Trickle Down” economics to begin. You say that you don’t believe in it? Well, you better believe in it…it’s the only thing this administration has to offer.


…The Pew Research Center found that while only 14 percent of Republicans believe all or most of what they read in The New York Times, even among Democrats the figure is only 31 percent. Other major news organizations face the same challenge. The Fox News Channel is considered credible by less than one-third of the Republicans - and an even smaller number of Democrats. Indeed, it's a rare news organization that is trusted by more than one-third of the people in either party: the one thing Democrats and Republicans agree on is that the news media are not trustworthy…

This is one of those “Duh!” moments. Of course we don’t trust them. With the Pentagon using embedded reporters to manage the war news and with the White House putting phony reporters in among the press corps, to ask those easy questions. With the Administration producing TV clips that resemble news stories and that never reveal the real source for the story. What’s to believe?

Remember, the popular media’s job is to remain popular and if that means managing the news…it will happen.

Every once in awhile I feel like the “Lone Cynic” but stories like this make me realize that I have plenty of company.


I ran across this quote this morning and became curious about the use of the term “technocrat”.

“After meeting Rumsfeld, new Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari told reporters he hoped for a stable political transition and an inclusive government.
"I don't deny that there are challenges," said Jaafari, a moderate Islamist who heads Dawa, a Shi'ite political party that opposed Saddam's regime for decades in exile.
"I am sure we are going to form very good ministries. All of them (workers) they are good technocrats. They are very effective from different backgrounds. So I think we can cooperate, all of us, and face these challenges successfully."”

So here is a definition of Technocrat, as found by Google.

An advocate of technocracy, an anticapitalistic fallacy that was popular in the depression days of the early 1930's. Technocrats sought their utopia in (1) the abolition of profits, businessmen and market principles, and (2) the establishment of a society run by industrial engineers and other technical experts in accordance with the principles of advanced technology.

Now I’m baffled…should we be excited by this good? news from Baghdad? And does Rummy know what he said?

Following the Money

I was watching “60 Minutes” the other night, something I rarely do anymore. Yes, even I get tired of watching government officials being embarrassed week after week by CBS reporters with tough questions. But I was channel surfing and landed on CBS just as they announced that the show would include some stuff about the money being spent on Homeland Security. I watched and it was amazing! It started with Tiptonville, Tennessee receiving about $155,000 for anything that they might need to fight the war on terror. And the mayor of Tiptonville wasn’t even embarrassed. He considered Tiptonville a “prime” target for terrorists because of the fact that it is so remote.

No one from the Federal government tells the communities what to buy, just gives them a shopping list and a check. And do they ever buy! Amazing stuff, really and the best was Washington, DC; where they haven’t been able to spend even a tenth of what has been pushed at them. (And more is coming!) But one of the many things they bought were Dale Carnegie courses for the sanitation workers. And a bunch of orange traffic cones…And a computer system to aid in towing cars. (This all makes sense to you, doesn’t it?)The mayor of DC even became indignant at the thought that anyone would question such expenditures. Oklahoma received money for port security. How close is the ocean to Oklahoma? On and on it went. And then the senator from the oversight committee tried to explain it. But he had a problem; he was having a hard time stopping himself from grinning as he answered the questions. His struggle was quite obvious...

In a way, it was comforting to see, that despite a change in administrations four years ago, greed and incompetence still rules in our nation’s capitol and throughout the land. Yes, it’s still all about money…

Monday, April 11, 2005

Blizzard Grounds Travelers in Colorado

Yahoo! News - Blizzard Grounds Travelers in Colorado

Oh, what memories...I can just imagine what the Denver airport looks like! And it will be two more days before air travel gets back to normal; whatever normal is these days!

I have only had to spend an un-anticipated 8 hours there, and since it is a hub, the normal activity in the airport is like this; every 15 minutes or so, the airport fills with people, talking, running and eating. Then after about another 15 or 20 minutes, the airport empties as people get on their connecting flights. All is quiet for for another quarter of an hour and then it starts all over again. But this time it was pandemonium for the whole night. I can tell you for a fact that there are not enough seats for even half the passengers that would like one. On a normal day, the waiting area looks like a yoga class in session as passengers grab a section of the floor for themselves. My favorite was the row along the people mover; although you couldn't hear any announcements, at least you had something to lean against.

Quotes from Krugman

Some quotes from Paul Krugman; New York Times columnist. These came from his column on April 11th.

“…America does face a real crisis - but it's in health care, not Social Security.

Well-informed business executives agree. A recent survey of chief financial officers at major corporations found that 65 percent regard immediate action on health care costs as "very important." Only 31 percent said the same about Social Security reform.”

He goes on to say that health care costs are driven by innovation. That the range of things that modern medicine can do is increasing. I’m sure that has something to do with it, but it isn’t the biggest factor as I see it. He adds this about the health insurance crisis.

“First, America's traditional private health insurance system, in which workers get coverage through their employers, is unraveling. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that in 2004 there were at least five million fewer jobs with health insurance than in 2001. And health care costs have become a major burden on those businesses that continue to provide insurance coverage: General Motors now spends about $1,500 on health care for every car it produces.”

And why is it unraveling? Why is it so expensive? Greed, of course. It’s the one thing that those in the business of health care will never admit to.

“Finally, the U.S. health care system is wildly inefficient. Americans tend to believe that we have the best health care system in the world. (I've encountered members of the journalistic elite who flatly refuse to believe that France ranks much better on most measures of health care quality than the United States.) But it isn't true. We spend far more per person on health care than any other country - 75 percent more than Canada or France - yet rank near the bottom among industrial countries in indicators from life expectancy to infant mortality.”
(Emphasis mine)

We spend all of this money and it’s of no consequence when it comes to quality of care…so who gets all of the money and why aren’t they responsible? Who is watching out for your interests? Do you think it’s your insurance company, if you have one? How about the doctor? After all, he is the CEO of his own corporate entity and must make an accounting to the shareholder, himself. If it’s not one of these people, it must be you. And are you capable of watching over your own interests at a time when you are emotionally stretched?

“The fact is that in health care, the private sector is often bloated and bureaucratic, while some government agencies - notably the Veterans Administration system - are lean and efficient. In health care, competition and personal choice can and do lead to higher costs and lower quality. The United States has the most privatized, competitive health system in the advanced world; it also has by far the highest costs, and close to the worst results.”

Notice that he qualifies the statement with a “some”.

And what about you? Do you want Social Security reform or do you think it might make more sense to have your representatives working on a solution to the health care crisis, a very real crisis?

Play Ball

I just read that Tiger Woods has won the Master’s Golf tournament in Atlanta once again. Now, I am not a golf aficionado and I have mixed feelings about the game itself, but I do admire those who excel in a sport where their skills have to stand alone as a marker of their success. No one could help Mr. Woods; he had to do it himself. There was no one on the bench to jump in when he was in trouble and no one to pass the club to when the shot was difficult. That is probably why I like track and field events as well. One person, testing themselves. How high can I jump; how fast can I run? To me, the other sports are all muddled with competition within the competition. 1st string and 2nd string. In the worst cases, winning the “internal” team competition becomes as important as winning the game.

But back to golf…A sport? I guess so, if you consider pool, Texas hold-em and NASCAR racing to be sports. I would call any of those, recreation. I guess it’s all a matter of semantics. Sport is what you make of it. And I see golf as a sport because Mr. Woods, or myself, have to play the game against ourselves…we have to battle our own insufficiencies and drag up the skills needed to win.

A little story…I was watching my granddaughter playing baseball the other day. She is the catcher and she’s a good catcher, doing her job with growing skills. And then, during a running situation, she made a decision to throw down to third base instead of to the pitcher and her throw helped to make an out. The look on her face was all joy…she had excelled! And by the way; her team lost the game. But, for one moment, she alone had won it all. And that is true sports…

Sunday, April 10, 2005

History Revisited

It was in the early 1970’s that I took a World History class at Moorpark college. I don’t remember the instructors name but what he taught me has remained with me for all time. And that was that it wasn’t as important to know the correct dates for historical events as it was to know the correct reasons for those events. It was the “Why” and not the “When” that were going to be important to us if we were to learn anything at all from history.

I remember the first paper that I turned in to him, fully expecting a grade of “A” and no less than a “B”. I had researched my subject carefully, getting all of the dates and the characters correct. I received a “D” and a note asking me to contact him later. I did and he explained that the reason for my low grade was because, “I can open any history book and read this…” he said. He then went on to explain that I had omitted the story behind the facts…how had these events effected history and why? What had caused these events? There is always a “story” in history and I had neglected that part altogether.

I struggled with the next paper as I researched not just the dates, but the events that led up to that historical moment and then to the results of it. I created a valid story and I was given a “B”. It wasn’t the best grade but I had learned from it. I learned that anyone can throw out some dates, a list of characters and a story and call it history. I learned to be a skeptic. I learned that history is always written by the victors and that the truth is very elusive!

Saturday, April 9, 2005


Choices is the subject of an article I was just reading and it really hit all of my “buttons”. The author started off with his story of buying a pair of jeans and how all of the choices mystified him. Baggy, Easy Fit, Relaxed Style, Boot Cut, Extra Baggy, Stone Washed, Distressed, Button Fly or Zipper Fly? Of course he wanted “regular jeans”, a product that is no longer made. And what should have been a 5 minute affair turns out to last for an hour or more. (Especially distressing to men)

I don’t know about you, but I find choices to be a source of constant irritation. Have a cold? Your cold will be cured on its own by the time you decide which cold medicine is best. The most crowded aisle in the drugstore in January is the cold remedy aisle. Dozens of snifflers, staring vacantly, hoping that something will jump off of the shelf and end their indecision. Cell phone calling plans? That ought to make anyone crazy!

He then went on to describe some more serious ramifications from the glut of choices we have.

As a store increases the variety of jams or chocolates on its shelves, shoppers are more likely to leave without buying anything. OK, that isn’t too serious…but I have done that myself; and not just with jam or chocolate.

As the number of funds available for a 401(k) are increased, the likelihood that any fund will be chosen goes down. For every 10 funds added the participation rate drops 2%.

Patient satisfaction goes down when the choice of medical treatment goes up. The disconnect between theory - what people think they want - and reality is illustrated by a study of people who were asked if they wanted to choose their own cancer treatment if they were diagnosed with a cancer. 64% said they would want to choose their own treatment…in reality, only 12% of those who actually had cancer wanted to make that same choice.

The author goes on to say, “The more choices we have, the more we seem to regret the decisions we make…So we wonder, did we get what we want? Could the alternatives have been better?”

All of this leads me to understand why I think that In-n-Out Burger is the best…have you seen their menu? It’s perfect, and it can be read in all of 30 seconds. And why I prefer on-line shopping; I shop for only what I want and I use a pop-up blocker to make that as simple as possible.

Friday, April 8, 2005


The one big claim that the Bush administration makes for retiring the Social Security program is that the taxpayer would be in control of his/her own destiny, by making wise financial decisions as to how the money is invested. You, not the government would be in charge of private accounts. Sounds good! Until you look at the reality of it. Do you have the knowledge needed to pick the best fund to invest in? Can you predict the ups and downs of the stock market? You can? Well then, you don’t need a retirement program at all; you’re already filthy rich if you can do those two things!

Let’s suppose you’re moderately intelligent, you have a good job and you’re good at it. You have a 401(k) program at work and it seems to be doing well for you. Do you fool around with it? Making changes every couple of days, just to maximize your returns? You don’t? Of course not! You are smart enough to let those who have some expertise in that field, the fund managers, do the managing.

Case in point: I watch the stock market, as I have a considerable amount invested in funds. It isn't a fortune, it’s considerable to me. And I have watched as the numbers rise and fall based on…apparently how some key investors felt that morning after checking their hog bellies and oil futures. Last month, I lost 1% of my investment. One month and 1%. Now I’m not worried (yet) because the market does fluctuate and I remember a time last year when my investment rose by 4%. Not bad…but it is nerve wracking at times and in the back of my mind is the fact that there are no guarantees that at the end of the year, I will have any money left. My financial consultant and I have agreed that I’m a conservative investor and all my investment decisions are made with that in mind. And I still lost 1%. And you know what? I haven’t touched my Social Security package yet. (I'm not quite 65) But it is my lifeline and that is what I think about whenever I see the numbers going down.

But, enough about me…what do we do about the millions that weren’t blessed with a good 401(k) and a pension? What about the millions of American’s that can’t even balance their checkbooks, let alone manage their retirement funds? Do we ignore them in the year 2040? Just walk by, eyes averted and grinning inwardly because we were so smart and they weren’t? I hope not…


Ya know...Tom DeLay mentioned that the judges were ignoring the "will of the people" and that was somehow, wrong.

Has he forgotten? That is their job! We live in a republic, not a democracy. "People" are notoriously unreliable when it comes to knowing the truth. Hence we have...judges!

Will of the people? We would need a passport to visit South Carolina. We wouldn't pay taxes. Women would still be looking for the ballot box. Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez would be unknowns.

No thanks, I will take my chances with the system we have.

Ya know something else? If I didn't know better...I might think that Mr. DeLay is unpatriotic!


OK, I have finished the newspapers and I was inspired by the contents of just about every page that I read. (FYI-I didn’t read the classifieds.)

And now it’s raining heavily, so I only have time to post a few thoughts before getting the vacuum out of the closet.

Tom DeLay is in the news once more and in a place where he loves to be…Standing Tall for Justice and Truth…as perceived by Tom. He is complaining that the judicial system is running amok and not listening to Congress at all. Now as I remember it, you had to pass the dreaded Constitution Test to obtain your high school diploma. So right away, you should know that the separation of powers in government is something pretty basic. Checks and Balances; High school stuff…So why doesn’t Tom know that? When the judiciary has to answer to either of the other two powers, you end up with something called “tyranny”.

Brian Greene

Oh well. My mind has jumped to another subject before I could even get to the newspaper. (It was raining) I was reading the on-line New York Times and ran across a column by Brian Greene, one of my favorite authors. His column dealt with the uncertainties created by quantum mechanics that plagued Albert Einstein until his death. The column was interesting enough, but the best part was finding out that Mr. Greene has written another book, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality. I now have that one in my shopping cart at Amazon. His first book, The Elegant Universe, is definitely worth reading and after reading the reviews on his latest book, I think it will be as well received. Try it; check it out at the library…you might be surprised.

Morning Thoughts

Friday has arrived and I am awake at a later hour. I woke up 3 or 4 times this morning and finally got out of bed about 4:45. And now that I’m up and have a cup of coffee in front of me, I am slowly awakening. My mind is churning away at a dozen different thoughts, but none of them are surfacing as the Prime Thought of the day. Later…perhaps.

As I sit in contemplation, over my cup of coffee, I can hear the music of the wind chimes. This particular set I have always liked for their appearance but they were far too loud for the city-sized lot we had in Roseville. These chimes are lengths of copper tubing with a striker that is activated by a small, fluttering, sail of copper sheeting. The tuneful assemblage has a lovely green patina, and that look fits with the grape arbor where they hang. Strange, but the sounds, which were too loud in Roseville, seem just fine here.

What does the day hold? The forecast is for more rain with scattered thundershowers; something we saw yesterday. If so, that means I can’t do much outside and will have to content myself with interior chores, such as vacuuming and dusting. Darn!

Yesterday, and in between showers, I was able to move the wood pile to a new location. The wood had been placed against the fence and squirrels had made the stack into a fortress and walnut warehouse. Since squirrels have no manners, their eating habits had attracted others to the walnut feast. There was a complete life-to-death ecological system living in the woodpile and I hadn’t known that, until a neighbor’s dog had upset a portion of the pile in his quest for a teasing squirrel.

Just on the other side of that same fence is the location for my new herb garden and fountain. That is beginning to shape up as a “Project” in my mind. In fact, it’s almost ready for me to put on paper. I have to supply electricity to the site as well as water. And I can incorporate the garden bird bath into it, something I have always wanted to do, ever since my eldest daughter gave it to me, and that was about 8 years ago?

As you can see, my churning mind has suddenly focused on the garden…OK. Now it’s time to read the paper and see what is happening in the world.

Thursday, April 7, 2005

I Look Back

I look back.

Now that I can really see, I look back and I wonder what might have been.

What road should I have taken to get to this place?

I look back.

There are so many paths behind me. Yet each one leads me to this place.

A Drive In the Country

I guess he was just out for a drive and decided to stop in…at the Bureau of Public Debt in Parkersburg, W.Va. There, Bush posed for the cameras (Did someone invite the press?) next to a file cabinet that holds the $1.7 trillion in Treasury securities that make up the Social Security trust fund. He made a comment to the effect that the bonds were not "real assets." Later, in a speech at a nearby university, he said: "There is no trust fund. Just i.o.u.'s that I saw firsthand."

Some facts: Yes, real facts, not political agenda. Social Security takes in more money than it needs to pay current beneficiaries. The excess is invested in the Treasury securities that Mr. Bush was trashing. They carry the same legal and political obligations as all other forms of Treasury debt. And these securities have always been paid in full and on time. There are more than $2 trillion dollars worth of these same securities held by foreign nations. Would they be interested in knowing that the president thinks they are not “real assets”? Of course it doesn’t worry them…they know this is simply politics as usual. A photo op and a sound bite for Bush.

Bush wants Americans to believe that the trust fund is a joke. If that is true…if the trust fund really is a joke, then so is the full faith and credit of the United States.


"Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, on Wednesday angrily dismissed newspaper accounts that focused on payments to his wife and daughter as well as on additional trips taken by him that have come under scrutiny."

Oh, Tom…what were you thinking? Here is a man who should know the power of perception and yet he was blind when it came to seeing how others might see him.

“…said Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the No. 3 House Republican.”The things that Tom has been criticized about in one way or another every member of Congress could be criticized about."”

Now there’s an original defense! Since they all do it…it must be OK.

“Representative Dave Weldon, Republican of Florida, and others offered what were described as spirited testimonials to Mr. DeLay's leadership while expressing outrage at what they viewed as concerted media assaults on him.
"There are certain liberal newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, that are out to get Tom DeLay," Mr. Weldon said. As for Mr. DeLay's daughter, Mr. Weldon said he had personal experience working with her when Mr. DeLay participated in a political event for Mr. Weldon in Orlando. "She really worked for me on that occasion," Mr. Weldon said.””

As opposed to not really working? What are you trying to say Dave?

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Same Old Names

I was reading the news a minute ago and ran across some more on DeLay and on Abramoff...and I had just finished writing and posting something about Abramoff earlier this afternoon.

"DeLay illegally used corporate funds in support of his plan to re-district Texas, and he went on golf trips with gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff—two months before DeLay helped kill legislation opposed by the gambling companies."

Who Are These People?

USA Next…A far-right wacko group has decided to target AARP because of their position on Social Security. Charles Jarvis, who nominally heads up USA Next, called AARP, “The boulder in the middle of the highway to personal savings accounts.” And then he stated that his group, “…will be the dynamite that removes them.”

In February, Jarvis used an internet ad to falsely accuse AARP of failing to support the troops and of endorsing same-sex marriage. Jarvis later called the ad “a test” to see if “left-wing bloggers” would focus on it. Although that failed, it did get him some exposure on TV.

USA Next is also known as the United Seniors Association. It supposedly has 1.5 million members and its tax return for the year 2003 showed revenue of $25.3 million. Oddly enough, $24.8 million came from one unidentified contributor. So, it seems that USA Next is the personal “Tool” of one person.

Although that person is unknown, the drug industry’s trade association (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America…PhRMA) acknowledges that they provided an “unrestricted educational grant” to United Seniors in 2002. PhRMA was asked by AARP to comment but didn’t respond.

The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance says that United Seniors won’t answer their requests for information either. Why?

United Seniors has some people associated with it that have made headlines of their own. For instance; Jack Abramoff was once a director. He is currently under investigation for allegedly defrauding Indian gaming interests of millions of dollars. Also a director, was J. Curtis Herge, a lawyer who worked for a “Phantom” holocaust-victims group and a phony anti-gambling organization fronting for Donald Trump. (Trump was fined $250,000 and ordered to apologize)

Under Jarvis’ leadership in 2003, United Seniors was given a $554,196 fine for deceptive mailings. The judge ruled that the organization had ignored government warnings to cease the deceptive mailings and that the mailings, “had the potential for causing substantial damage to the integrity of the Social Security program.”

Where do these people come from? If you don’t like the Social Security Program, then debate it with facts…not lies.


The United States Treasury has announced they are recalling the new Texas quarters. "We are recalling all of the new Texas quarters that were recently issued," Treasury Undersecretary Russell Shackelford said in a press conference Monday. "This comes in the wake of numerous reports to this agency that the quarters will not work in parking meters, toll booths, vending machines, pay phones, or other coin-operated devices." The winning design for the Texas quarter was submitted by Texas A&M student William Doutrieux. "We believe the problem lies in a design flaw," said Shackelford. "Apparently, the duct tape holding the two dimes and nickel together keeps jamming the coin-operated devices."

'Frontline' look at extremist Israeli's

I watched Frontline last night as they showed the other side of terrorism in Israel. It was most disturbing, as it showed the mindset of some Jewish settlers. It was all about revenge and they were quick to point out that Bible speaks more to revenge than it does to peace. The settlers wrapped themselves in their own version of religion, just as terrorists everywhere are so quick to do.

"In 2002, Israeli police thwarted a plot hatched by extremist settlers to detonate a bomb at a Palestinian girls' school in East Jerusalem, timed to explode at 7:30 a.m. to kill the most children. While the three men initially arrested are now serving prison sentences, others whom authorities believe were involved in the plot were acquitted for lack of evidence."

This segment was the most chilling to watch as it was only the simplest mistake by the terrorist group that prevented the killings and led to their arrest.

The Common Man

WASHINGTON, April 5 - The wife and daughter of Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, have been paid more than $500,000 since 2001 by Mr. DeLay's political action and campaign committees, according to a detailed review of disclosure statements filed with the Federal Election Commission and separate fund-raising records in Mr. DeLay's home state, Texas.

I guess this just goes to show you…Tom’s not some sort of common crook at all; he’s just “common”.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005


I just got in from a morning of mowing and rototilling...sat down and saw this lovely picture of the East Brother Lighthouse. It's located in San Francisco bay and is now a Bed & Breakfast inn. I heard that reservations are hard to come by. Wouldn't this be a nice place to spend a stormy weekend?

Sermon on the Mount

Teachings of Jesus Christ: Sermon on the Mount

The question we really need any more direction than this?

Antonio Gaudi - Great Buildings Online

Antonio Gaudi - Great Buildings Online

Great images and links to most of his important's hard to believe that these buildings were constructed in the 19th/20th centuries.
My favorite architect...Gaudi.

Google This!

High finance indeed...

"On at least one known occasion, cash was handed to a private US mercenary firm, ostensibly to be spent on its operations in Iraq, though the cash was not properly accounted for once it was paid. Former CPA employee Frank Willis said that company, Custer Battles, was handed $2 million in shrink-wrapped $100 bills in his presence, and he displayed a photograph taken just moments before the handing over to prove it." I never thought of that...a video receipt! But how do you count it in a photograph? Oh well, it was better than nothing.

"A lawyer attended the hearings to represent two former associates of Custer Battles who declined at the last minute to testify in person for fear of retribution from both the mercenary firm and the Bush administration. Alan Grayson said his clients have filed a sealed claim against Custer Battles alleging, in part, that the company accepted $15 million from the CPA to provide security for Iraq’s civilian airline, which was in fact grounded for the duration of the contract and in no need of the company’s services."

I think I have it so far, 15 million plus two million = 17 million!

Trust Me

“The administration is skipping the normal budget process to ask for an additional $82 billion to fund the American presence in Iraq. Among the big-ticket items, a $600 million embassy and some 14 "enduring" bases. Those bases, and the absence of an exit strategy, will worsen, not improve the situation in Iraq.”

What’s that all about? Enduring Bases? I could have sworn that someone said we were leaving. And what do you think the average Iraqi will believe when he hears about the job opportunities opening up at the new US Army base in town?

So far we've spent around $200 billion invading, policing and now trying to rebuild Iraq. We don’t know the exact number because a lot of the money has simply disappeared. The C.P.A said that there wasn’t time to put a proper bookkeeping system in place and so the money wasn’t traceable. Sorry.

Receipts? Couldn’t we have used pieces of paper with amounts and names on them? And then, later, when we wanted to know who had what…we could have looked at the pieces of paper. I know, I know. I’m just clueless when it comes to high finance. I’m certain that it is all under control and the money will be found, eventually. Trust them.

Monday, April 4, 2005

It's Always About Oil, Isn't It?

A Touch of Crude

I enjoyed this article...


I'm sorry if you sometimes see more than one posting on the same subject. I'm not really that old...

It appears to be a problem with, as I will type and then post, and during the posting process I get an error "page not found". A quick check of my blog confirms that nothing was posted and so I repeat the post, re-typing it all. Then, a check of my blog the next day reveals that I have 2 posts, with almost the same content.