Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We're Not in a Recession

The AP reported today on the latest economic news.

The bruised economy limped through the first quarter of this year at only 0.6% as housing and credit problems forced people and businesses alike to hunker down.

The country's economic growth during January through March was the same as in the final three months of last year, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The statistic did not meet what economists consider the classic definition of a recession, which is a retraction of the economy. This means that although the economy is stuck in a rut, it is still managing to grow, even if modestly. (emphasis added)

It may not be pretty (and it's sure not), but it ain't a recession. The next time you read or watch the major news outlets reporting on the "recession" we're in, you'll know they're lying--because their lips are moving.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On the Pier

One of the temp agencies I'm registered at called me this morning just after 8:00. They said there's an admin job in the area, and would it be OK if they sent my resume to the company? I said, "Sure!" Then I hung around the house, in case they called to arrange an interview.

By 3:00, I got tired of waiting and left for my usual spot at the beach. The watched pot and all...

The marine layer had moved in by the time I got there, blocking the sun and preventing a good sunset, so I sat on some rocks and read, in between people-watching. Up the coast, the Oceanside pier called to me, with its Ruby's diner at the end, so I drove over to the pier, dropped some coins in the meter, and started walking.

About halfway out the pier, I spotted this seagull and noticed only one leg. I changed my angle of view, in case the second leg was hidden by the first, but it wasn't, so I pulled my little camera from my purse and took this picture.

There was a guy near me, looking in that general direction, and I said something clever to him like, "You don't see too many one-legged seagulls." He agreed, speculating that the bird may have tucked one leg up where we couldn't see it. But then the seagull flew away and confirmed that there was no second leg hiding anywhere.

I said something else equally clever to the guy, and he said something about being from out of town. But when I asked where he was from, he said, "Somewhere east." Like an old co-worker of mine who moved to California from Arizona and always said she was from "Back East." East of Oceanside could be anywhere.

We chatted a bit more, about why I took the picture (for my blog) and about San Diego's un-prime time to visit (June), and I got the impression that he viewed me with great suspicion.

It was a strange reaction. I usually don't get that.

So I left him and went to Ruby's, where the waiter treated me like a sane person, and I got a Black Forest milkshake. When I finished it, I suddenly remembered that my car was parked at a meter, and I had only five minutes to get back there. I paid, went back to the table to leave my tip, then walked as quickly as I could in sandals over a worn-wood surface the third-mile length of the pier and a couple blocks over to my car.

The meter was expired, I was starting to feel queasy from exercising on a full stomach, but there wasn't a ticket on my windshield, and that's what mattered. I got out of there before the parking cops could find me.

Back at home, my answering machine had nothing new to report.

Obamas in Trouble

It's easy to mock a cover story like this when it's in the Globe. The Globe is almost as bad as the now-defunct Weekly World News, which printed such newsworthy items as, "Invisible Aliens Live Among Us," "Abraham Lincoln Was A Woman!" and "Iraqi Submarine Spotted in Great Lakes." This last one was during the buildup to the Iraq War and had Saddam himself manning the secret submarine.

In fact, it was the Globe that reported the imminent breakup of George and Laura Bush's marriage, and then late last year said the marriage has been mended.

This time, though, the marriage explosion is being reported by the National Enquirer, which has been somewhat reputable ever since Carol Burnett sued them and won.

The last thing Barack Obama needs this week, after the media blitz of his former pastor and mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, is another scandal.

Oh, and if I find a spare $500,000 lying around, could I get a total body makeover that makes me look as good as Demi Moore?

Responding to Wright

I took the time to read the full transcript of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's speech yesterday to the National Press Club, and quite a bit of it was cause for concern, starting with this:

Maybe now, as an honest dialogue about race in this country begins...

Was all the dialogue about race that we've had before now dishonest?

Maybe this dialogue on race -- an honest dialogue that does not engage in denial or superficial platitudes -- maybe this dialogue on race can move the people of faith in this country from various stages of alienation and marginalization to the exciting possibility of reconciliation.

How are we supposed to reconcile white people with Rev. Wright, after Wright's denunciations from the pulpit of white people themselves? Much of the "denial and superficial platitudes" have been coming out of Wright's mouth.

Liberation theology started in and started from a different place. It started from the vantage point of the oppressed.

OK. That makes sense.

I take and trace the theology of the black church back to the prophets in the Hebrew bible and to its last prophet, in my tradition, the one we call Jesus of Nazareth.

Wright sees Jesus as nothing more than the last prophet? What's the deal?

This statement prompted me to look for the statement of faith of the United Church of Christ denomination (not to be confused with the Churches of Christ). Then I compared it to the Nicene Creed, and the UCC was less definite about the divinity of Jesus. This is a concern for me.

Back to Jeremiah Wright:

The prophetic tradition of the black church has its roots in Isaiah, the 61st chapter, where God says the prophet is to preach the gospel to the poor and to set at liberty those who are held captive....

It was preached to set African-Americans free from the notion of second-class citizenship, which was the law of the land. And it was practiced to set free misguided and miseducated Americans from the notion that they were actually superior to other Americans based on the color of their skin.

He's got a point about the release of captives bringing freedom to both sides of the equation.

Isaiah 61:5 says, "Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards." I'm not sure what we're supposed to do about that verse.

When you read the entire passage from either Isaiah 61 or Luke 4, and do not try to understand the passage or the content of the passage in the context of a sound bite, what you see is God's desire for a radical change in a social order that has gone sour....

God's desire is for positive change, transformation; real change, not cosmetic change, transformation; radical change or a change that makes a permanent difference, transformation. God's desire is for transformation, changed lives, changed minds, changed laws, changed social orders and changed hearts in a changed world. This principle of transformation is at the heart of the prophetic theology of the black church.

I don't agree that Jesus, in Luke 4:18 - 19, proclaimed a desire for "radical change in a social order that has gone sour." Taken in the context of His ministry, His proclamation was for individuals' freedom from slavery to sin. Jesus preached--and delivered through His death and resurrection--changed lives, changed minds and changed hearts. He did not preach changed laws or changed social orders.

The social orders that were changed in the name of Christ were those that were made by individuals whose lives were transformed by the overwhelming love and the salvation of our Lord Jesus. Case in point: William Wilberforce, whose fight to abolish the slave trade in Great Britain was depicted in the movie Amazing Grace.

These two foci of liberation and transformation have been at the very core of the United Church of Christ since its predecessor denomination, the Congregational Church of New England came to the moral defense and paid for the legal defense of the Mende people aboard the slave ship Amistad.

Interesting. I have that movie, but I didn't remember what church supported the Africans.

God does not desire for us, as children of God, to be at war with each other, to see each other as superior or inferior, to hate each other, abuse each other, misuse each other, define each other or put each other down.

True. So how does he defend his anti-white statements in his sermons? He doesn't even preach what he preaches, let alone practice it.

Wright explains that the way people see God determines the way they see people. His example that follows is not his view but that of a hypothetical presumably white person.

If I see God as male; if I see God as white male; if I see God as superior, as God over us and not Immanuel, which means God with us; if I see God as mean, vengeful, authoritarian, sexist or misogynist, then I see humans through that lens.

My theological lens shapes my anthropological lens. And as a result, white males are superior; all others are inferior. And I order my society where I can worship God on Sunday morning, wearing a black clergy robe, and kill others on Sunday evening, wearing a white Klan robe.

Whoa. Is this a historical example, or does Wright believe this is the perspective of the white church today? He doesn't say.

To say, I am a Christian, is not enough. Why? Because the Christianity of the slaveholder is not the Christianity of the slave....

And what we both mean when we say, I am a Christian, is not the same thing. The prophetic theology of the black church has always seen and still sees all of God's children as sisters and brothers, equals who need reconciliation, who need to be reconciled as equals, in order for us to walk together into the future which God has prepared for us.

I don't quite get this. At least, I don't get that he's making a contrast between the black church, which believe this about reconciliation among equals, and the non-black church, which believes... what? Does he believe that I, as a white person, don't want reconciliation, that I don't see equality among all of God's children?

For a man who wants us all to get along, he sure is doing a good job of offending whites.

Then it was time for the Q & A, and some of those were doozies. Wright doubled-down on some of the things that were quoted "out of context" from his sermons, the things he complained were just snippets, looped over and over.

Jesus said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you. Those are biblical principles, not Jeremiah Wright bombastic divisive principles....

He really does believe that America engages in terrorism. That apparently wasn't taken out of context.

[Farrakhan] is one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century; that's what I think about him. I said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis Farrakhan speaks it's like E.F. Hutton speaks. All black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen....

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn't make me this color.

Nobody put Wright in chains. Nobody put Wright in slavery. But is God Wright's enemy for making him "this color"? I don't get that statement either.

God doesn't bless everything. God condemns something. And D-E-M-N, demn, is where we get the word damn. God damns some practices.

And there is no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done. That doesn't make me not like America, or unpatriotic.

Of course not.

What I said about and what I think about and what -- again until I can't -- until racism and slavery are confessed and asked for -- we asked the Japanese to forgive us. We have never as a country -- in fact, Clinton almost got in trouble because he almost apologized at Goree Island.

We have never apologized as a country. Britain has apologized to Africans. But this country's leaders have refused to apologize. So until that apology comes, I'm not going to keep stepping on your foot and asking you, does this hurt do you forgive me for stepping on your foot, if I'm still stepping on your foot. Understand that? Capisce?

Britain had a lot to apologize for in Africa. They owned much of Africa for a long time--as did Belgium, the Netherlands, and France.

Did the Civil War, the abolishment of slavery in America, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and the Civil Rights Acts (1957 & 1964) count for nothing in terms of apologizing for slavery and setting things right?

MS. LEINWAND: In your sermon, you said the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. So I ask you: Do you honestly believe your statement and those words?

REV. WRIGHT: Have you read Horowitz's book "Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola"? Whoever wrote that question, have you read "Medical Apartheid"? You've read it?

I read different things. As I said to my members, if you haven't read things, then you can't -- and based on the Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.

I'll let that one stand on its own.

My position on Israel is that Israel has a right to exist; that Israelis have a right to exist, as I said, reconciled one to another. Have you read The Link? Do you read The Link -- Americans for Middle Eastern Understanding, where Palestinians and Israelis need to sit down and talk to each other and work out a solution where their children can grow in a world together and not be talking about killing each other; that that is not God's will.

So my position is that Israel and the people of Israel be the people of God who are worrying about reconciliation and who are trying to do what God wants for God's people, which is reconciliation.

He puts the full burden of reconciliation on the shoulders of Israel and none on the Palestinians.

In biblical history, there's not one word written in the Bible, between Genesis and Revelation, that was not written under one of six different kinds of oppression: Egyptian oppression, Assyrian oppression, Persian oppression, Greek oppression, Roman oppression, Babylonian oppression.

The Roman oppression is the period in which Jesus was born. And comparing imperialism that was going on in Luke, imperialism was going on when Caesar Augustus sent out a degree that the whole world should be taxed -- they were in charge of the world; sounds like some other governments I know -- that yes, I can compare that. We have troops stationed all over the world, just like Rome had troops stationed all over the world, because we run the world. That notion of imperialism is not the message of the Gospel of the Prince of Peace nor God, who loves the world.

The first paragraph here is one big fat lie of biblical proportions. Unless Wright is saying that the writing of it happened under one of those "oppressions." But even that isn't true, because both King David and King Solomon ruled over Israel and wrote Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon during times when the people of God were not oppressed. Unless the mere existence of an empire somewhere else qualifies in Wright's eyes as "oppression." For a preacher, Wright doesn't know his Bible that well.

Well, there are many white churches and white persons who are members of churches and clergy and denominations who have already taken great steps in terms of reconciliation. In the Underground Railroad, it was the white church that played the largest role in getting Africans out of slavery, in setting up almost all 40 of the HBCUs. It was the white church that sent missionaries into the South.

I'm glad he made a point of this.

MS. LEINWAND: Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but through me." Do you believe this?And do you think Islam is a way to salvation?

REV. WRIGHT: Jesus also said, "Other sheep have I who are not of this fold."


That's it for Reverend Wright's time at the National Press Club.

Barack Obama, however, reacted to Wright's latest public appearance by throwing his pastor and mentor of the last 20 years under the bus.


Monday, April 28, 2008

Numbering Things

I noticed something when I was in Texas with my mom and my sister and we would go to Wal-Mart in Eastland or Abilene. My sister especially, but my mom too, would take note of which row number we parked in before we went into the store.

That never occurred to me. When I go to Wal-Mart (preferrably Target, but it's on the south end of town and I'm on the north end of town, and there's a Wal-Mart really close to me, so I go there for emergency shopping), I try to park in the row that's straight out from the main doors. If I end up in another row, I take note of the landmark (like the Coke machine, or the word "Pharmacy" on the wall) at the end of my row, so I can find my car when I'm ready to leave.

It wasn't until we finished our trip and I got back home that I realized the Wal-Marts around here don't number the rows in the parking lots. Not even the new one with the angled parking rows that make it hard to find landmarks. The entire eastern half of the United States has numbered rows at Wal-Mart, as near as I can tell from the ones we saw on our trip. But Southern California doesn't believe in numbering things.

This is a typical freeway sign around here. OK, it's farther north, but it has the same look as ours. The only things with numbers are the actual numbered-highway or interstate symbols. Our exits aren't numbered. They're just named.

People who commute into Orange County know that you come to the Jeffrey exit, then Culver, then Jamboree, then MacArthur, then the 55 freeway. So, depending on which exit you take for work, you start moving over when one of the earlier exits shows up.

And nobody can remember whether Oso Parkway comes before or after Avery Parkway, because that's in the middle of the commute when you're not paying attention and you're driving 80 mph anyway.

My point is that we do very nicely without any exit numbers on our freeway signs. It's our way of life, and it's different from the rest of the country, where all the directions in the RV Park directory (and even from helpful people on the phone) give an exit number as the most crucial piece of information. But I didn't care about that. I wanted to be sure I was on the right street.

Then I noticed in the last month or so (it may have been there longer, but I just noticed) that they're putting exit numbers on our freeway signs. This sign is one that I drive under on a regular basis. Notice the Mickey-Mouse, pasted-on exit number in the upper right corner.

Photo source (both):

That's new. And I don't like it. It's dehumanizing.

Next thing you know, all the Wal-Marts around here will number their parking rows, and the deli counter at Albertsons will install one of those Take-A-Number gadgets like in the Northeast where people aren't polite enough to wait their turn and have to be forced into civility.

No, numbering is a bad thing, a sign of the decline of civilization. I may not be able to stop it, but I can (and do) protest it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


A couple of Canada Geese accompany their newly hatched goslings through a shopping center parking lot in Sterling, Virginia, April 25, 2008. Canada Geese, famous for their life-long mating, live throughout most of North America.

REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

This photo is from Reuters' top photos of the last 24 hours, and I'm pleased to see the accuracy in their reporting. Too many times people call them "Canadian Geese," as though the geese were Canadian citizens. Drives me nuts.

They're Canada Geese. It's their name. Don't get it wrong.

But aren't they CUTE?!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Bad Cat!

I have three garbage cans by my back door. About a year ago a possum caught himself in one of them.

Yesterday evening, when I came home from an errand, I noticed that the middle can was tilted at an angle--not an easy thing to do--so I straightened it up and moved the first one against it to prevent anymore unexplained movement.

When I did that, I noticed a small gray bird (probably a house sparrow) in the bottom of the empty middle can, and he was breathing. I didn't know if he was dying or resting (strange place for either one). I just left him there, because there didn't seem to be anything else to do. Later, when I was locking the doors for the night, I checked the bird again. Still breathing.

This morning I went to get my clothes out of the dryer, by the back door, and when I glanced out the window in the door, there was a gray and white cat sitting on the welcome mat as though he belonged there. He made no move to leave, so I opened the back door, and he ran away.

Then I peeked into the middle can, but it was empty. And my other garbage can, the one with trash in it, was tipped over.

The evidence isn't irrefutable, but I blame the cat, who has never darkened my doorstep before. Bad bird-killing, garbage-can-knocking cat!

Update (Friday afternoon):

When I got home from having a reunion lunch with a bunch of people I worked with when I first started at my last job, I didn't see the cat. But I heard a fluttering sound in the back garbage can, where I have some cardboard boxes. I couldn't see anything, but the fluttering would come and go, so I pulled out the top box and put it in the empty trash can. That's when I noticed some bird doodee on a couple of the boxes.

The bird was under an upended box, and when I lifted the box, the bird started flying, but his wings kept hitting the side of the garbage can, and he couldn't get out. So I took out the rest of the boxes and gently tipped over the garbage can.

The bird flew out of the box in such obvious panic that he ran into the wall of the house next door and dropped into their grass. He flew away a couple minutes later, and I expect he's now safe from the evil cat.

All's well that ends well...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Latest on Zimbabwe

Photo credit: Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press

I've been following the news out of Zimbabwe since they held their national elections in March. It's not good.

The International Herald Tribune reported Monday on the flood of people escaping Zimbabwe into neighboring countries.

Sarah Ngewerume was driven to the river by despair.

She said she had seen gangs loyal to Zimbabwe's longtime president, Robert Mugabe, beating people — some to death — in the dusty roads of her village. She said Mugabe loyalists were sweeping the countryside with chunks of wood in their hands, demanding to see party identification cards and methodically hunting down opposition supporters.

"It was terrifying," said Ngewerume, a 49-year-old former shopkeeper.

Last week she waded across the Limpopo River, bribed a man fixing a border fence on the other side and slipped into a nearby South African farm.

She was among the latest desperate arrivals in what South Africa's biggest daily newspaper is calling "Mugabe's Tsunami," a wave of more than 1,000 people every day who are fleeing Zimbabwe across the Limpopo to escape into South Africa.

The elections were held March 29, and the preliminary results showed Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party defeated. This was good news and bad news at the same time. The good news was that Mugabe and his party were repudiated by an oppressed populace. The bad news was that there was no way Mugabe would accept the results.

The top US envoy to Africa has called for Mugabe to step down, but that hasn't happened. Instead, Zimbabwe ordered arms from China.

Zimbabwean blogger Izzy Mutanhaurwa, who fled to the UK, has this to say about the China arms deal:

The people of Zimbabwe would like to thank to the workers of the world who through their affiliated trade unions united in preventing guns earmarked for Mugabe's violent retribution against the people of Zimbabwe that voted him and his party out of power to be offloaded at an bay in Southern Africa. The ill-fated ship that has not been seen and is being forced to return to China and diplomatic offensive is on rise to extend Europe's arms embargo on Zimbabwe to the United Nations which would make China's arms trade with Zimbabwe illegal. What is puzzling about this whole situation is the deal to buy arms was done on the 1st of April, 2 days after the polls closed in Zimbabwe. It reveals the sinister motives of Mugabe who is killing innocent people to sustain his grip on Zimbabwe and continue to drag Zimbabwe into oblivion. What was so urgent that we needed arms weighing 77 tons and worth US$1.245 million just two days after the harmonized elections that Mugabe realized had lost? (emphasis added)

Here is the AP report about the inability of China to deliver the weapons to Zimbabwe.

Izzy has a couple good questions about Mugabe's--and China's--priorities.

Why is China not sending food that Zimbabweans need with 6.5 million facing famine, it would have been a good gesture from the Chinese to feed the hungry? Also what needs to be ascertained is where did Mugabe, Zimbabwe being broke as it find US$1.245 million to buy guns with?

The AP reported April 18, 2008, on a speech Mugabe gave commemorating Zimbabwe's Independence Day.

President Robert Mugabe belittled his political opponents as puppets of Britain, saying during independence celebrations Friday that the former colonial ruler wants Zimbabwe back.

Mugabe accused the opposition of wanting Zimbabwe to "go back to white people, to the British, the country we died for. It will never happen."

Izzy Mutanhaurwa has a slightly different take on Zimbabwe's independence:

Yesterday marked our independence from colonial rule which we achieved 28 years ago, but we are neither free nor are we independent having escaped the frying pan of from minority white rule for us to fall into the fire of the Mugabe's black on black brutality. What is happening in Zimbabwe today is a shameful betrayal of the reason why the real gallant heroes of Zimbabwe such as Tongogara took up arms to fight white minority rule that denied the majority black population the right to vote, they fought for one man one vote, they fought for self determination, they fought for the ability of every Zimbabwean to vote for a government of his choice.

But today 28 years later their sole objective for taking up arms is an illusion for the people of Zimbabwe, the economy of Zimbabwe has collapsed unable to bear the weight of the world's highest inflation which experts put at 300000% and will reach half a million percent before July, the health sector has collapsed people of Zimbabwe are dying of curable diseases, the education system has collapsed, just about 1 million people in Zimbabwe are in formal employment, 4 million have fled the dictator's regime to seek political and economic refuge mostly in South Africa and the UK including this writer. 6.5 million people face starvation, 3000 people die in Zimbabwe every week of HIV and AIDS the life expectancy has been reduced to 35 for men and 34 for women.

It's been nearly a month since the election, and no results have been officially released. The ruling party called for recounts.

Agence France-Presse reported yesterday that the first of the 23 hand-picked constituency recounts has been completed, and (Surprise!) ZANU-PF won.

And in a display of chutzpah, or maybe serious delusion, Mulindwa Muwange, a ZANU-PF supporter, places the blame for Zimbabwe's woes on anybody but Mugabe:

Today we are witnessing another... whom the 'white man' is trying to force to commit suicide.

This is Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe. Mugabe has been judged as a person who has messed up Zimbabwe's political and economic affairs.

Today's political chaos in Africa can be fairly blamed on the infiltration of neo-colonialists. Any African leader who falls out of favour with the West is undermined and his people are influenced to turn against him. Some of the opposition politicians are also agents of Western powers.

And some African governments are stooges; they blindly implement neo-colonialist policies in order to appease the West so that they retain their presidency.

The neo-colonialists have been organising a coup d'etat through the flawed elections! Unfortunately, Mugabe's advisers were not sharp enough to detect these tricks. Mugabe is accused of grabbing land from white farmers and re-distributing it to blacks.

Western media have made several attempts to portray Mugabe as the loser in the recent elections in which the winner is yet to be known.

As Mugabe demanded a re-count, Morgan Tsvirangai, the opposition leaders who is backed by the West, was appealing to Western powers, mainly Britain and the United States, to mount pressure.

Yes, Zimbabwe has become a living hell, but it has nothing to do with Robert Mugabe. It's the white man's fault, naturally.

And sometime soon, when Mugabe has finished "recounting" the votes, the official results will show that the country's people want Mugabe to stay in power. Of course he'll oblige them and shove Zimbabwe into deeper and deeper levels of hell.

Wesley Snipes Gets 3 Years on Tax Evasion

CNN reported today on the sentencing of Wesley Snipes.

Actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced to three years in prison and fined up to $5 million Thursday for failing to file federal tax returns.

It was the maximim sentence possible under federal sentencing guidelines.

Prosecutors last week urged U.S. District Judge William Hodges in Ocala, Florida, to sentence Snipes to the maximum penalty to demonstrate to taxpayers that refusal to pay income taxes carries severe penalties.

"The law is very clear: People must pay their taxes," Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Douglas Shulman said. "There is no secret formula that eliminates a person's tax obligations."

Of course, the IRS calls our tax system "voluntary."

Yes indeed. We can volunteer to pay taxes, or we can volunteer to go to prison. Right, Wesley?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Low Blood Pressure

Every now and then people ask me what makes me decide what to blog about, and my usual reply is that I go for topics that raise my blood pressure. Things like Global Warming and attacks on Christianity and stupid bureaucrat tricks.

Of course, the blood pressure test doesn't apply to weird animal news or cool science, which call to me like crack cocaine to an addict (or so I hear). Same thing with public service announcements.

In the last month or two, however, my blood pressure has remained pretty low, newswise. Senator Barack Obama's revelation that he thinks middle America is bitter and clingy didn't stir me. Senator Hillary Clinton's earlier lies about taking sniper fire didn't either.

I'm not sure what's going on to make me more calm than usual. Maybe just that I'm not in the middle of a stressful job, and I'm not driving a motorhome in traffic. But the end result is that my blogging has been light because I've stayed peaceful when I've read the news in between hunting for and applying for jobs. Strange...

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Moon and the Magnetotail

I looked up at a beautiful just-past-full moon tonight and was reminded of something I just learned: The earth has a tail. It's true, because NASA said it does.

Yes, Earth does have a magnetic tail. It is an extension of the same familiar magnetic field we experience when using a Boy Scout compass. Our entire planet is enveloped in a bubble of magnetism, which springs from a molten dynamo in Earth's core. Out in space, the solar wind presses against this bubble and stretches it, creating a long "magnetotail" in the downwind direction:

Anyone can tell when the Moon is inside the magnetotail. Just look: "If the Moon is full, it is inside the magnetotail," says [Tim Stubbs, a University of Maryland scientist working at the Goddard Space Flight Center]. "The Moon enters the magnetotail three days before it is full and takes about six days to cross and exit on the other side."

It is during those six days that strange things can happen.

NASA's scientists aren't exactly certain what happens, because we never had any astronauts on the moon when it was crossing through the magnetotail, but they've managed to make some very educated guesses.

During the crossing, the Moon comes in contact with a gigantic "plasma sheet" of hot charged particles trapped in the tail. The lightest and most mobile of these particles, electrons, pepper the Moon's surface and give the Moon a negative charge.

[O]n the nightside, in the cold lunar dark, electrons accumulate and voltages can climb to hundreds or thousands of volts.

Walking across the dusty charged-up lunar terrain, astronauts may find themselves crackling with electricity like a sock pulled out of a hot dryer.

The ground, meanwhile, may leap into the sky. There is compelling evidence (see, e.g., the Surveyor 7 image [in the NASA article]) that fine particles of moondust, when sufficiently charged-up, actually float above the lunar surface.

Stranger still, moondust might gather itself into a sort of diaphanous wind. Drawn by differences in global charge accumulation, floating dust would naturally fly from the strongly-negative nightside to the weakly-negative dayside. This "dust storm" effect would be strongest at the Moon's terminator, the dividing line between day and night.

As NASA makes plans for the next generation of astronauts to establish a lunar outpost, this is the kind of phenomenon they'll need to prepare for, once they figure out exactly what happens.

But knowing this much has given me a new appreciation for our "static" full moon.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Book Looking

After church today I had lunch with a friend. We ate next door to Barnes & Noble, and when lunch was over, I couldn't resist wandering through the bookstore. Just looking.

In the entranceway between the two sets of doors, where they put a lot of their bargain books, there was a coffee-table book of France, and I stood paging through the photos of cities and castles I visited during our pre-children bicycle trip through Western Europe. The book covered Paris, Brittany, the Loire, and Provence. As I flipped from one photo to the next, facts and emotion surfaced with the pictures.

The château de Chambord spoke of François I and his obsession to build it, even while his son was being held for ransom by Spain. He didn't have (or couldn't be bothered to find) the money to get his son back, but he kept building Chambord, a castle with over 400 rooms and an impressive double-spiral staircase.

The aerial photo of Chenonceau, which showed the castle straddling the River Cher, reminded me of a story our tour guide told. She said that during World War II, the castle was used as a hospital in Occupied France, but the far bank of the river was in unoccupied territory. Many people were smuggled out from the clutches of the Nazis through the castle.

And the photo of the castle at Azay-le-Rideau brought me back to the heartache evoked by the son et lumiere (sound and light show), a story of a woman's bliss and betrayal and loss.

Inside the store was a table with a sign that said, "Local Interest." It had the book, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of Seal Team 10, by Marcus Luttrell. I think I heard Hugh Hewitt talking about this book on his radio show, but I wasn't sure. And I'm not sure if the local interest with the book is just because it's about a military operation (I'm near Camp Pendleton, home of the Marines, and not too far from San Diego's multiple Navy bases), or if Petty Officer Luttrell spent time in the area.

I noticed a novel by Robin Gerber, called Eleanor vs. Ike, and I read the back cover:

It is a time of turmoil, with the nation mired in an unpopular war in Korea and with Senator Joseph McCarthy stirring up fear of a lurking Communist "menace." Racial discrimination is rampant. A woman's place is in the home. And when a shocking act of God eliminates the Democratic presidential nominee, the party throws its support to an unlikely standard bearer: former First Lady and goodwill ambassador to the world Eleanor Roosevelt.

Captivating and fast-paced, Eleanor vs. Ike pits the unforgettable Eleanor against the enormously popular war hero Gen. Dwight David ("Ike") Eisenhower. But while the opponents promise "an honest campaign," their strategists mire the race in scandal and bitter innuendo. Suddenly Eleanor finds herself a target of powerful insiders who mean to destroy her good name—and Ku Klux Klan assassins dedicated to her death—as she gets caught up in a mad whirl of appearances and political maneuvering . . . and a chance encounter with a precocious five-year-old named Hillary Rodham.

Ugh! Naturally, Eleanor is pure as the driven snow, and the Republicans are smear merchants and KKK assassins. And isn't little Hillary just so cute?

I looked up reviews of the book when I got home. The feminists (Robin Gerber's blog describes her as a feminist) described the book in glowing terms and weren't able to put the book down, but editorial reviews, like Publishers Weekly, summarized the book saying, "Eleanor comes across as imperious, intelligent and brave, but clumsy dialogue, historical minutiae and an absence of narrative tension sink the story."

In the biography section, I saw Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, by Leonie Frieda, and was intrigued, because my time in France (and research before the trip) revealed Catherine to be somewhere between merely wicked and the devil's spawn, depending on who you asked. But this book said she was an "unjustly maligned queen." Hmmm... I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my antipathy for her. One tour guide we had told us (the tour was in French) that there's one portrait of Catherine de Medici that shows her with a bec de lièvre (hare lip), and all the rest of the portraits show her with a normal mouth, but even normal, the tour guide said, she was ugly. The guide didn't know if the one portrait was the artist being mean, like drawing a moustache on someone's picture, or if Catherine really had a cleft but made all the other artists paint her looking like a normal person.

I spotted the paperback edition of Mark Steyn's America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It. Steyn had said on Hugh Hewitt's show that he had a new introduction for the paperback (I already have the book in hardcover), so I took the time to read it.

Finally, I saw a man reading the back of a book, which he handed to his wife when she joined him, and he picked up another copy and continued reading. So I picked up a copy to see what was so interesting. It was Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization's End, by Lawrence E. Joseph, a rather dismal prediction of the coming destruction of not just the world as we know it but of the world, period. I pointed out to the couple that I'm scheduled to start collecting Social Security in 2013 (a miscalculation on my part that I didn't figure out until after I left--I won't be getting it until around 2023). The whole premise of the book, which included the massive explosion of Yellowstone that alarmed Hugh Hewitt last year and the predicted volatility of the Solar Cycle that starts in 2012 (I'm hoping it will bring us out of the ice age brought on by Solar Cycle 24 that just started in January), was just too depressing for any of us to want to buy it. As we parted, the husband wished me luck on getting Social Security. Apocalypse or not, I'll need that luck.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

I'll get to it in a bit...

I'm sitting in the living room, reading Nate Booth's Tiger Traits, a success book about Tiger Woods. The window by the couch is open, and I can smell the smoke from my next-door neighbor's grill (he uses real wood, not charcoal). Last night, when he wasn't grilling, the scent of orange blossoms wafted in, carried on the occasional breezes that blew just the right way. I inhaled a lot.

Sounds carry well around here too, and my neighbor just got finished telling his son--in no uncertain terms, with a few well-placed profane words--that he is NOT to hit or swing at a tennis ball, because my neighbor isn't about to pay for somebody's broken window. It feels good to know those days of mine are over.

Amid the sounds of boys bossing each other around and the pounding of running feet, the birds are singing. Earlier this afternoon I saw a house finch, still brightly colored for mating season, and I recognize his song. The mockingbird is still going full-throttle with his schizophrenic warbling. I don't know when he sleeps, because I hear him at all hours, night and day, constantly changing his tune. And there are other birds, chirping and peeping, not wanting to be left out of the fun.

It's the simple pleasures that help make life good, though I was reminded that I haven't been taking enough time to enjoy them, hence my little foray into the scents and sounds of springtime. What brought them to mind was a quote from the Tiger Traits book:

Use what talents you possess:
the woods would be very silent
if no birds sang except those that sang best.

- Henry Van Dyke

I'll ponder my own talents later. For now I'm happy just listening to the birds.

Going Green

It must be coming up on Earth Day, because everyone is going green these days. I saw some ads on TLC that Stacy and Clinton are going to make over an environmentalist on What Not to Wear, and TLC is going to do a green episode of Flip That House and start some new environmental show.

I won't be watching any of it. I'm sick of all the green... bile they keep trying to shove down our throats (I know, "bile" is what comes up your throat, but it works either way).

And now Time Magazine has offended Iwo Jima veterans with their latest cover illustration. Business and Media reported today on that story.

For only the second time in 85 years, Time magazine abandoned the traditional red border it uses on its cover. The occasion – to push more global warming alarmism.

The cover of the April 21 issue of Time took the famous Iwo Jima photograph by Joe Rosenthal of the Marines raising the American flag and replaced the flag with a tree. The cover story by Bryan Walsh
calls green “the new red, white and blue.”

Donald Mates, an Iwo Jima veteran, told the Business & Media Institute on April 17 that using that photograph for that cause was a “disgrace.”

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Mates said. “Whoever did it is going to hell. That’s a mortal sin. God forbid he runs into a Marine that was an Iwo Jima survivor.”

Lt. John Keith Wells, the leader of the platoon that raised the flags on Mt. Suribachi and co-author of “Give Me Fifty Marines Not Afraid to Die: Iwo Jima” wasn’t impressed with Time’s efforts.

“That global warming is the biggest joke I’ve ever known,” Wells told the Business & Media Institute. “[W]e’ll stick a dadgum tree up somebody’s rear if they want that and think that’s going to cure something.”

I'm with both of these Marines. Enough already with all the Green propaganda!


There are some words that you've never heard before, but the minute you hear them, you know exactly what they mean.

My daughter was telling me about a conversation she had with some friends. R. (he) and E. (she) are close friends, and someone else told my daughter that R. is gay.

"He is?" my daughter said. "I didn't know."

"How could you not know?"

"I don't have gaydar. It was never installed."

The minute my daughter said the word, I knew what she meant. And it's the most perfect word for that meaning, because it's concise and precise at the same time.

I think she inherited her lack of gaydar from her mother.

For me, a person's sexual orientation is as obvious to me as corporate politics is: I have to be smacked over the head with it (or be told outright) before I even notice.

On this season's Project Runway, I knew that Christian was gay, because he made himself so flaming you couldn't miss it. Chris was also more in that camp. But it wasn't until Kevin said he was the only straight guy on the show that it occurred to me that Rami must be gay too.

It's just not something I ever think about, because really, what does it matter in day-to-day life? It doesn't. My mama raised me to be nice to everybody, and that's a lesson I actually learned pretty well (Thanks, Mom!).

Still, I love finding a new word that's this beautifully perfect. Gaydar is so much better a word than Nomophobia.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My House is Off the Market

My realtor called me Saturday to remind me that my listing expires today. He said he'd be in the area last night and would either bring the renewal paperwork or pick up the signs, depending on what I decided.

I thought about it for a while.

It seems that during the last six months, my house has gone from being reasonably priced to being one of the most expensive houses in the neighborhood without ever having changed the asking price. Not a good prospect for a sale. So I decided to let the listing expire, rather than drop the price and keep hoping each day that maybe--just maybe--someone would come to look at it. Daily disappointment wears on you after a while.

The realtor came last night, got his signs out of the front window, detached the lockbox from the doorknob, and removed the curbside sign. He commisserated with me over the precipitous drop in house prices in San Diego County and then took his leave.

I'm more at ease, now that I don't have to get the house looking absolutely perfect every time I go somewhere. No more having to hide my laptop and books behind the throw pillow on the couch when I need to run to the grocery store. No more having to get every single mug and spoon into the dishwasher and wipe down the countertops again for good measure when I leave for church. No more having to make sure the miniblinds are open and the deadbolts are unbolted and the mail is shoved under the perfectly made bed before I go looking for a job.

No, it's going to be easier and quicker to get out of the house now. And even though I'm still getting used to the idea of allowing a lived-in look, I'm starting to like the thought of staying put for a while. On purpose.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I Can't Flip Anybody Off

Not that I ever do.

My daughter's friend came over to do her taxes on my Turbo Tax, and she had to go out to her car to grab a W-2 she left behind. Since she was going to come right back in, she left the door open. Not wanting to let the heat in, I went to shut the door and spotted a wasp heading straight for the doorway.

I shoved the door shut, jamming my middle finger in the process. It was worth the effort, because the wasp was stuck outside, bouncing against the window. But now my finger hurts, and I keep watching to see if it's getting swollen.

Not yet.

But I'm afraid my blogging time (and flipping time) is almost over for now...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Noisy Fish

The International Herald Tribune reported Wednesday on a little-known phenomenon: Fish can get downright noisy.

It was the end of January 2005, during the spawning season for a fish appropriately called the black drum. Nightly mating calls were at a crescendo. But no one living in the area seemed to realize the din was of aquatic origin.

The retirees who had come to spend their winters relaxing on the gentle estuaries and canals of the Gulf Coast in Florida blamed the municipal utility system. They were pushing the City Council to pay an engineering firm more than $47,000 to eliminate the noise reverberating through their homes.

Then James Locascio, a doctoral student in marine science at the University of South Florida, rescued the city from financial folly. After reading the newspaper article, Locascio called a Council member just hours before a vote to appropriate the money. He explained that at 100 to 500 hertz, black drum mating calls travel at a low enough frequency and long enough wavelength to carry through sea walls, into the ground and through the construction of waterfront homes like the throbbing beat in a passing car.

Many residents didn't believe him, and why should they? Hadn't Jacques Cousteau called the oceans, "The Silent World"?

Locascio and David Mann, a marine biologist at the University of South Florida who is a bioacoustics expert, recruited these naysayers into a study by asking them to score noise levels and times in notebooks. "We took their data and plotted them with the fish sounds we had recorded with hydrophones under the water," Locascio said. "Concordance was perfect."

Other people in different places have been mocked when they reported hearing fish sounds, but the mockers are the mistaken ones.

Yet of the 30,000 species out there, only about 1,200 sound producers have been catalogued, and far fewer have been recorded. Even common goldfish have merited just two scientific publications. In fact, said Philip Lobel, a professor of biology at Boston University, "Most aquarium fish are sonic. Keeping fish in an aquarium is like keeping a canary in a soundproof cage."

If you have fish in an aquarium, don't let the PETA people find out.

It surprises me, though, when I learn that most people don't know something I already know, because for most things in life, I'm the last to find out. But this is one of those rare cases (OK, I didn't know about the goldfish).

My dad was a radioman in the Navy on several submarines. When I was a kid, he told me (maybe all three of us) that he had to learn which underwater noises were natural and which ones were man-made. He said that shrimp sounded like very loud castanets. I've remembered that ever since, because I know what castanets sound like.

There's a link in the IHT article (under the "Multimedia" heading on the left) that lets you listen to several kinds of fish, including Florida's nemesis, the black drum fish. No shrimp, though. I checked.

Woodpecker Beak

The Telegraph (UK) reported Wednesday on a surprising find in England.

This extraordinary woodpecker - with its freakishly long beak - has been spotted feeding from a domestic garden feeder.

Experts have claimed the beak was the biggest they had ever seen and are surprised it can fly - let alone feed.

Bird watchers Janet and Bob Morton first spied red-crested male 'Woody' over the winter at their home in Rosedale, near Pickering, North Yorkshire.

Mr Morton, 62, a retired RAF pilot, said: "Woody comes everyday now, you can't miss him. We first noticed the beak at Christmas when he arrived with a female and a baby.

"We just couldn't believe how big it was. Compared to his mate you can see it should be at least half that size."

Luckily, Woody has no trouble flying, nesting or feeding and has not chopped down any trees so far.

His beak hasn't gotten in the way of attracting the girls, either. What a guy!

My mother raised me to believe it's unkind to point out other people's flaws or deformities. Obviously the writer of the article wasn't taught by my mother, or he or she wouldn't have used the words, "freakishly long."

Prince Charles has big ears...

Photo source: Reformation Theology

... but that doesn't mean it's nice to point it out. The Telegraph ought to quit with the name-calling and leave poor Woody alone.

Olmert to Snub Carter

It doesn't happen very often, but today I'm proud of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The Washington Times reported today on Olmert's response to Carter.

Former President Jimmy Carter will receive the cold shoulder in Israel next week over his plan to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in the Syrian capital during a tour of the Middle East.

Citing scheduling difficulties, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu turned down requests for meetings from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“You draw your own conclusions,” said an Israeli official who declined to be identified. “Israeli officials have expressed outrage at the possibility that he'll meet Mashaal. ... He's the leader of a terrorist organization.”

Heaven knows Olmert has been ineffectual about so much in Israel that his country would be better off without him. But at least in this he's right on track.

Jimmy Carter is a bad seed. He needs to be thrown out of the foreign-policy spotlight and into the trash heap of history. Olmert's "cold shoulder" is a good start.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dennis Prager on Global Warming Fears

Dennis Prager wrote a column for Real Clear Politics way back in June of 2006, explaining why liberals are more afraid of global warming than conservatives are. I would have included this in my post about changing climate change, but that post was reaching critical mass.

Observers of contemporary society will surely have noted that a liberal is far more likely to fear global warming than a conservative. Why is this?

After all, if the science is as conclusive as Al Gore, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and virtually every other spokesman of the Left says it is, conservatives are just as likely to be scorched and drowned and otherwise done in by global warming as liberals will. So why aren't non-leftists nearly as exercised as leftists are? Do conservatives handle heat better? Are libertarians better swimmers? Do religious people love their children less?

He's right, of course. Disaster doesn't save itself for the deserving and spare the undeserving. It hits everyone in its path. What Prager discovered is six likely explanations for the Left's alarm:

-- The Left is prone to hysteria. The belief that global warming will destroy the world is but one of many hysterical notions held on the Left.

-- The Left believes that if The New York Times and other liberal news sources report something, it is true. If the cover of Time magazine says, "Global Warming: Be Worried, Very Worried," liberals get worried, very worried, about global warming.

-- The Left believes in experts. But for liberals, "expert" has come to mean far more than greater knowledge in a given area. It now means two additional things: One is that non-experts should defer to experts not only on matters of knowledge, but on matters of policy, as well. The second is that experts possess greater wisdom about life, not merely greater knowledge in their area of expertise.

-- People who don't confront the greatest evils will confront far lesser ones. The Right tends to fight human evil such as communism and Islamic totalitarianism. The Left avoids confronting such evils and concentrates its attention instead on socioeconomic inequality, environmental problems and capitalism. Global warming meets all three of these criteria of evil.

-- The Left is far more likely to revere, even worship, nature. A threat to the environment is regarded by many on the Left as a threat to what is most sacred to them, and therefore deemed to be the greatest threat humanity faces.

-- Leftists tend to fear dying more. That is one reason they are more exercised about our waging war against evil than about the evils committed by those we fight. The number of Iraqis and others Saddam Hussein murdered troubles the Left considerably less than even the remote possibility than they may one day die of global warming (or secondhand smoke).

It's a great column, with more examples and analysis than I excerpted here. This is his conclusion:

One day, our grandchildren may ask us what we did when Islamic fascism threatened the free world. Some of us will say we were preoccupied with fighting that threat wherever possible; others will be able to say they fought carbon dioxide emissions. One of us will look bad.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Global Climate Change is Changing

I've been saving some global warming news for a while, hoping to comment on the topic again but not quite taking the time for it. But while I waited, something happened. The world started getting colder.

Now what are we supposed to believe?

First let's look at the warming alarms.

Reuters reported November 6, 2007, on the consequences of global warming. Titled, "Climate change seen threatening national security," the report opens this way:

Climate change could end globalization by 2040 as nations look inward to conserve scarce resources and conflicts flare when refugees flee rising seas and drought, national security experts warned on Monday.

Not to be outdone, the UN had something to say as well. The Times Online (UK) reported December 12, 2007, on the UN statement.

Humanity faces oblivion if it fails to reach agreement on global warming, Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, said yesterday as the US and the European Union continued to scuffle over a successor to the ten-year-old Kyoto treaty on climate change.

“The world’s scientists have spoken with one voice: the situation is grim and urgent action is needed,” Mr Ban said at a gathering of 190 countries on the Indonesian island of Bali. “The situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point, beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs would increase dramatically. We are at a crossroads: one path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other one to oblivion.”

That sounds terrible! Except, we know "the world's scientists" have definitely NOT spoken with one voice. There's dissent out there in the scientific community.

WorldNetDaily reported September 12, 2007, on reports that hundreds of scientists have refuted the global-warming-scare dogma.

The newest analysis was released by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Dennis Avery, who said of the 500 scientists who have refuted at least one element of the global warming scare, more than 300 have found evidence that a natural moderate 1,500-year climate cycle has produced more than a dozen global warmings similar to the current circumstances since the last Ice Age and that such warmings are linked to variations in the sun's irradiance.

"Two thousand years of published human histories say that the warm periods were good for people. It was the harsh, unstable Dark Ages and Little Ice Age that brought bigger storms, untimely frost, widespread famine and plagues of disease," he said.

That's right. Why else do people retire to Florida, when they could be spending their leisure retirement years shoveling snow in Upstate New York?

But the kicker was this report in the Telegraph (UK) on January 13, 3008.

A survey of travel habits has revealed that the most environmentally conscious people are also the biggest polluters.

"Green" consumers have some of the biggest carbon footprints because they are still hooked on flying abroad or driving their cars while their adherence to the green cause is mostly limited to small gestures.

Hypocrisy, thy color is Green.

In the end, though, that hypocrisy isn't going to amount to much, since carbon footprints aren't going to have any more effect on climate than a real footprint has on soil erosion.

WorldNetDaily reported December 21, 2007, on a US Senate report on the subject.

A new U.S. Senate report documents hundreds of prominent scientists – experts in dozens of fields of study worldwide – who say global warming and cooling is a cycle of nature and cannot legitimately be connected to man's activities.

"Of course I believe in global warming, and in global cooling – all part of the natural climate changes that the Earth has experienced for billions of years, caused primarily by the cyclical variations in solar output," said research physicist John W. Brosnahan, who develops remote-sensing instruments for atmospheric science for clients including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

However, he said, "I have not seen any sort of definitive, scientific link to man-made carbon dioxide as the root cause of the current global warming, only incomplete computer models that suggest that this might be the case."

Naturally, Al Gore says those scientists were bought off. And he would understand the concept of being bought off...

An article in American Thinker on March 10, 2008, looks at the contortions "True Believers" in global warming go through when the facts turn against them.

"Human-caused global warming" has now officially been re-named "climate change" to explain the inconvenient truth that the winter of 2007-8 was the coldest in a century, in spite of all those tons of "greenhouse gas" being spewed into the air from all the new factories in China and India. Worldwide temps dropped 0.6 of a degree C in one year. That may not sound like a lot, but it's more than all the ballyhooed warming in the preceding century.

How good are the assumptions in [the climate computer] models? Well consider the fate of Ferenc M. Miskolczi (pronounced Ferens MISkolshee), a first-rate Hungarian mathematician, who has published a proof that "greenhouse warming" may be mathematically impossible. His proof involves long equations, but the bottom line is that the warming models assume that the atmosphere is infinitely thick. Why? Because it simplifies the math. If on the other hand, you assume the atmosphere is about 100 km thick (about 65 miles) -- which has the big advantage of being true -- the greenhouse effect disappears! No more global warming.

Miskolczi once worked for NASA, but resigned in disgust when they would not allow him to publish his work. (It appeared in the peer-reviewed Hungarian journal
Weather, and looks legit). (emphasis in original)

So the real news lately is that global warming is over. It's getting cold, and it's expected to get colder.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published a column March 2, 2008, on "Cool News about Global Warming."

But how cold is it, Johnny?

Well, NASA says recent satellite images show that the allegedly endangered polar ice cap -- which will melt completely one of these summers and kill off all the polar bears if we don't slash our greedy carbon footprints and revert to the lifestyles of medieval peasants -- has recovered to near normal coverage levels.

The Spectator (UK) reported yesterday on global temperature sensors. (Note: As of today, that article is gone from the Specator's website. Good thing I captured it, but the link doesn't work as of blogging time. I'll keep it there, in case the article reappears.)

There is now unequivocal evidence that the temperature of the planet is dropping like a stone. As the DailyTech site reports:

All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASAGISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously. A compiled list of all the sources can be seen...The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years.

Here’s some other data you may not have seen. The troposphere hasn’t warmed for the past five years. And the oceans haven’t warmed for five years either, which has got this poor NPR reporter scratching his head, poor chap:

I won't get into what the poor chap at NPR said.

Another scientist, as reported in WorldNetDaily on April 3, 2008, told environmentalists that the world needs more carbon dioxide to offset the cooling. Here's the science behind that statement:

The Past and Future of Climate, by David Archibald. Page 16 has a killer chart that will make you want to buy up stock in fur-lined parka companies, if you plan on living past about 2013.

Archibald wrote the paper in June of 2007, and much of what he predicts depends on Solar Cycle 24 starting by March, 2008. Since I get NASA's SpaceWeather updates by email, I checked back and found that Solar Cycle 24 began January 4, 2008, so Archibald's predictions are right on schedule.

I guess the polar bears won't have to worry, after all.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Belly Button Ring Stuck in Nose

The Daily Telegraph (Australia) reported April 3, 2008 about a mishap with a pierced navel.

A YOUNG woman caught her belly button ring in her nostril this morning after falling from her bed.

The distressed 22-year-old called NSW Ambulance at 4am begging for assistance from paramedics.

She told triple zero operators she had fallen out of bed and her belly button piercing had jammed up her nose in the fall.

Ambulance officers rushed to Warwick Farm to assist the woman but she was not taken to hospital.

An ambulance spokeswoman said it had been a tough day for Sydneysiders, with a St Ives man stubbing his toe at 3.30pm.

How do you fall out of bed and end up with your nose and your navel in the same place? I can't bend that far.

Maybe her piercing popped out and her nose landed on it where the doo-dad fell on the floor. That's all I can figure.

I have a friend who pierced her navel. I think I should warn her. I'd hate to have a friend of mine in continual danger.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cat Found

Just in case you didn't click on the link in the comments section of my Mourning Dove Update post, I give you the joy of knowing you are not the stupidest person on the planet (Thank you, Paw, mon cher).

Photo source: Newscoma

In other news, blogging has been light for me lately. I spend most of my time hunting for a job. I miss the old days when job applications were on paper and you could go to the business location to hand in your filled-out form personally to a live individual who actually greeted you and thanked you for showing up and assured you they'd keep your application on file for six months, at which time (or sooner of course) you could be sure it would be dumped in the trash.

It's not like that anymore. Now there's a time-consuming process of logging into the company's online portal to the Black Hole of Employment Applications (BHEA). The BHEA explains to you how easy it's going to be. You'll just upload or paste in your resume (in MS Word format), and it will scan for recognizable information and fill that in for you. So you do that, and then a web form shows up with your name and not much else filled in, and it asks you one little piece at a time to retype everything that's already in your resume. Sometimes it even promises that you can go back and update it later, but when you take it at its word and try to add something important, like your typing speed, it only lets you change your address or phone number. And when it's all done, you never hear another peep again. Because it's a Black Hole, and nothing escapes.

Except that AAA emailed me an autoresponse saying they got my application, and if somebody deems me suitable for the position, that person will be sure to contact me. Yep. Uh-huh.

So I keep trying, but I haven't heard anything. Not even from the temp agencies I've registered at. I was seeing some ads on one of the job search sites from one agency advertising some openings available through the temp agency that found me my Christmastime job. So Friday I called my temp agency to remind them that I do exist and am eagerly hoping to hear from them about some work.

The receptionist looked up my info and told me it said I was available through March 3rd, which was when I had called them to be sure they knew I was available. After I explained the inaccuracy of their information, she recommended that I send an email to my account exec (who is on vacation for two weeks) and cc everyone in the whole office so they know what I'm looking for. I included my updated resume, which probably isn't any more effective than all my other versions, but we'll see.

My daughter told me that in three weeks the new catalog comes out at the place she works, in the merchandise shipping department, and they expect to need some temp help at that time. They like her so well that they'd be willing to temp-hire the mom who raised her to be such a good worker.

But while I wait, I've started randomly asking people I'm talking to if they know of any companies that need help. So far, it hasn't paid off, but neither has the normal way of job-hunting. I'll let you know which way works the best.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mourning Dove Update

This is the sad story of the mourning dove on my next-door neighbor's front porch. A week or so ago she was sitting pretty. Now she's flown the coop, and we're not quite sure why.

I was talking to my neighbor a couple days ago, and she said one day this past week her daughter saw the dove in the morning when she left for school, but by afternoon, the dove was gone and so were her eggs.

It's hard to figure out what kind of vicious beast could have climbed up the pole or made its way into the lamp from the porch roof. The lamp seemed well-enough protected. Everybody knows cats are conniving things when it comes to birds, but I can't see how a cat could have done it without knocking the lamp over.

Other kinds of creatures that like to steal eggs are too horrifying to name--like Voldemort only more so--since that would mean the disgusting rodents were brazen enough to go right next door to my very own house. No, I cannot bear to even think it.

Wednesday, I saw the dove come back to the lamp for a short time. She walked around the nest and pecked in it quite a few times, as though searching for her eggs, and then she looked toward me with a beseeching look on her little dove face. Then she flew away.

So sad...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Dennis Prager Interviews Walid Phares

I caught a tiny bit of Dennis Prager's radio show today on my way to get text-messaging added to my cell phone plan for my daughter's phone. His guest today in the third hour was Dr. Walid Phares, an expert on terrorism and the Middle East. Phares has a new book out, The Confrontation: Winning the War Against Future Jihad, and Dennis had him on the show to discuss the book and what we can learn from it.

You can listen to that hour of the show in the "radio show" link above (April 02, 2008, H3), and I did just that after I got home.

A couple of Phares's answers took Dennis by surprise (my transcription isn't exact)

DP: Did our involvement in Iraq & removal of Saddam strengthen Iran?

Dennis expected the answer to be, "Yes, because removing Saddam removed a check against the expansion of Iran's influence." But it wasn't.

WP: No. If we left Saddam in place, he and Ahmadinejad would have teamed up against America and the West. There is an addage, "Me and my brother against my cousin. We and my cousin against my enemy."

Phares said that there were signs of Saddam and Ahmadinejad coming together against the West. He said that after the Iran-Iraq War, after Saddam invaded Kuwait and it became clear that America was going to invade Iraq (under Bush-41), Saddam sent some of his military equipment into Iran for safekeeping. So Iran was not a deterrent to the growth of Saddam's power against the West any more than Saddam was a deterrent to Iran's growth.

DP: What is the solution to Israeli/Palestinian dispute? What do you say to the people who claim that if we just bring peace to the Israelis and Palestinians, then all the turmoil in the Middle East will subside?

WP: I wish. The jihadist movement, which is threatening the WORLD, has an ideology and has existed before the Palestinian conflict, before the existence of Israel as a country in 1948, before the US had a policy in the Middle East, and before the United Nations and the League of Nations in the 1920s, so that alone takes care of the linkage between the rise of the jihadist movement and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Had the jihadist movement NOT existed, most likely the Arab-Israeli conflict would have been solved, and the evidence is very clear who, in the '90s, is sending rockets from Gaza. It's Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, and they are supported by Syria and Iran. There is a force in the region which is obstructing any peace process, including the Arab-Israeli process, and any political process, including in Iraq.

DP: We have it all backwards. If you solve the jihadi mentality, it will solve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

That is exactly right. Which is why all the efforts of the Bush Administration to force "peace" on Israel are doomed to fail, just as all the same efforts by the Clinton Administration were doomed to fail. As long as we put and keep the destruction of the jihadist movement on the back burner, there will be no real peace in the Middle East.

Destroy the jihadis wherever they are, including (especially) in Gaza, and teach their children to love and not hate, and then maybe we can solve the Arab-Israeli dispute once and for all.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Michael J. Totten in Karmah, Iraq

This is great reading on the situation in Karmah, just a year ago a seriously beleaguered city between Baghdad and Fallujah. Michael J. Totten is an embedded reporter in Iraq, and he describes the situation on the ground there in a two-part report.

Read Part I here. An excerpt:

Just beyond the outskirts of Fallujah lies the terror-wracked city of Karmah. While you may not have heard of this small city of 35,000 people, American soldiers and Marines who served in Anbar Province know it as a terrifying place of oppression, death, and destruction. “It was much worse than Fallujah” said more than a dozen Marines who were themselves based in Fallujah.

“Karmah was so important to the insurgency because we've got Baghdad right there,” Lieutenant Andrew Macak told me. “This is part of the periphery of Baghdad. At the same time, it is part of the periphery of Fallujah.”

Fallujah was a minefield of IEDs, but Karmah was even worse.

“I personally was hit with seven IEDs in the traffic circle alone,” [Corporal Caleb Hayes] said. “It didn’t start quieting down until September.”

This next photo is from Part II:

Our first official stop of the morning was at a grade school. Children rushed to the windows to smile and wave as we walked up the steps.

A young boy came running out the front door with tears in his eyes and a bruise on his eyebrow. A soft-faced teacher or administrator in his forties stepped outside to make sure the kid didn't run off too far. “He was in a fight,” he said and opened his palms.

Lieutenant Alleman called out to his unit's medic. “See if you can clean this kid up,” he said. Our medic cleaned the boy's wound and gently applied a band-aid.

I love this photo. With all the talk about race lately, after Rev. Jeremiah Wright's publicized rants about race and Obama's response in his Race Speech, and after all the anti-military protests by Code Pink, especially in Berkeley, here is a picture to answer them.

Our military is integrated, much more so than in the country at large. And the hands that heal an Iraqi schoolboy are black ones. Funny, but Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech has come true in the American military, the institution that those on the left (who claim the speech as their own) can only demean and protest. I have no respect for military-haters.

And I have profound respect for our men and women at arms, people who have used their weapons to bring peace and healing to a battered nation as a whole and to the town of Karmah.

Read both parts when you have some time to relax.

Photo credits (both): Michael J. Totten

Functional Map of France

My son, who loves maps, gave me this link to a functional map of France (click to enlarge).

Well, the jury is in. The country with the most functional geography is… France. As proved by this diagram, France’s jagged, hexagonal shape makes it the ideal, multiple-use household utensil:
  • The Pas de Calais, at the very top of the country, bordering Belgium and the English Channel, is transformed into a diamant coupe-verre (glass-cutter)
  • Peninsular Normandy doubles as a handy décapsuleur (bottle-opener)
  • Brittany, stabbing into the Atlantic Ocean, makes for a nice fourchette (fork)
  • Broadening out into the Bay of Biscay downstream from the city of Bordeaux, the Gironde estuary is a coupe-ficelle (wire-cutter)
  • The Pyrennées, the mountain chain forming the border with Spain, are transformed into a hâchoir (meat-mincer)
  • The sharp edge where the Alsace-Lorraine region juts furthest into Germany serves as a pied-de-biche (crowbar)
  • France’s interior is taken up by a gril (grill pan)
What a great country, though I'm not sure I'd be good at getting the fork in my mouth without slitting my throat with the hâchoir.

A nice touch in the link, at the end of the description of the map, was this acknowledgment:

Merci beaucoup à Emmanuel Parfond de m’avoir envoyé cette carte.

It means, "Thank you very much to Emmanuel Parfond for having sent me this map." Well, this is from me: Merci beaucoup à mon fils aussi.

Of course, my son won't understand that. I'll need to put it in (probably bad) German (pause while I look this up in a dictionary): Danke sehr, mein Sohn.


This is London (UK) reported yesterday on a newly recognized phobia.

Getting married, starting a job or going to the dentist have long been recognised as sources of great stress.

But it seems they are now matched by a new, peculiarly 21st century affliction - the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

Millions apparently suffer from "no mobile phobia" which has been given the name nomophobia.

They have become so dependent on their mobile that discovering it is out of charge or simply misplacing it sends stress levels soaring.

Experts say nomophobia could affect up to 53 per cent of mobile phone users, with 48 per cent of women and 58 per cent of men questioned admitting to experiencing feelings of anxiety when they run out of battery or credit, lose their phone or have no network coverage.

I know people like this. My mom and I suffered very mild forms of it--more concern than actual phobia--on our trip, when we would need to make a call but couldn't. But we coped by just waiting to make the call later, so we're not the ones the researchers are talking about.

The researchers are talking about my daughter and her friends: young people who are glued to their cell phones.

My problem would be nowebphobia, the fear of losing my internet connection.