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December 2017

Net Neutrality on the Auction Block
- Viewpoint
In what universe is turning over unfettered control of the Internet to ISP and telecomm giants consistent with the core objectives of the US government, namely " to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."?

You can still make a difference. The FCC, following the lead of their industry-tool chairman, will vote to protect corporate power and to screw you on Thursday, Dec. 14. Write your congressional representatives NOW! ( It is VERY important that you write a personal message in the comment section; otherwise your message will be ignored as a bulk mailing. Say something about how you expect the proposed changes will harm you or your community (they will).

NEED EVIDENCE? Check out the latest Comcast ad that just arrived in my email, no doubt in anticipation of the end of Net Neutrality. The headline "What to Watch" is a harbinger of their future posture, in which there will be no other choice.

Twelfth Century Trump Forecast?
- Viewpoint
The “hadith” is a body of commentaries on Muslim life by writers from early Islamic times to the present. The following interesting passage is from Mishkat, Kitab al-Ilm, Chap. 3. (The Book of Knowledge, Ch. 3.)

“[A time will come when] there will be nothing left of knowledge. People will make the ignorant their leaders and will seek guidance from them in matters of religion. These leaders will issue (edicts) without any knowledge. They will themselves be misguided and will lead others astray.”

It would appear that all claims to the contrary, the present administration is fulfilling the expectations of the 12th Century author.

Trump, Flynn and the Nature of Lying
- Viewpoint
I cannot be the only one who has realized Donald Trump has incriminated himself.

Headline: “Trump tweets from motorcade he fired Flynn for lying to Pence, FBI.” (Chicago Tribune ). See also accompanying “Tweet” from Dec 2.

This appears to be prima facie evidence from Trump’s own tiny fingers that he knew of Flynn’s lies to the FBI well before they were publicly documented.

Supposedly the FBI discovered the lies in the summer, and Flynn’s guilty plea became public only last week. If Trump knew in February and did not reveal his knowledge, he clearly participated in a conspiracy to cover up Flynn’s crime. Both ignorance and knowledge of a fact cannot simultaneously be true.

The problem with lying, to the FBI or to the nation, is that one cannot keep the lies straight. In this case, Trump cannot have known in February that Flynn would lie to the FBI later in the spring or summer. So either he knew in February that the lies were coming — a clear indication of conspiracy — or he made up his prior knowledge yesterday. Either way, he either was or is a liar.

November 2017

- Viewpoint
Somewhere south of the Rio Grande in the Age of Enlightenment there once lay a vortex that sucked some revolutionaries into a desire to be petty kings, decorated with ribbons and epaulets, leaving their progeny with a legacy of constant turmoil and perpetual economic inequality, while others remained outside the event horizon and bequeathed only imperfect freedom. Sadly, descendants of the former often blame descendants of the latter for their problems. Yagottawonder.

September 2017

Let's be honest about what and who matters
- Viewpoint
Writing on Facebook, Kate Riffle Roper wrote on July 19, 2016, the following description of her life as mother of a multi-racial family. We all need to take this lesson to heart. I freely acknowledge that for almost 75 years I've been subjected to propaganda intended to predispose me and those like me not to care about those who are not like me. It's not always easy to sort out one's feelings or to recognize behavior or utterances that may hurt rather than help. We just have to keep trying to do as nearly all the world's philosophers and teachers have urged and see everyone as deserving of the same kindness we expect for ourselves.

Ms Roper's message:

As a white mother of two black children, three white children, who all have a white father, I have something to say.

Racism exists. It is real and tangible. And it is everywhere, all the time.

When I brought my boys home they were the cutest, sweetest babies ever. Wherever we went, people greeted us with charm and enthusiasm. Well, not all people and not everywhere. But, to me, they were the “wacko” exceptions. I thought to myself, “Get over it.”

Now my boys look like teenagers. Black teenagers. They are 13. Let me ask you these questions.

Do store personnel follow your children when they are picking out their Gatorade flavors? They didn’t follow my white kids. Do coffee shop employees interrogate your children about the credit card they are using to pay while you are in the bathroom? They didn’t interrogate my white kids.

When your kids trick-or-treat in, dressed as a Ninja and a Clown, do they get asked who they are with and where they live, door after door? My white kids didn’t get asked.

Do your kids get pulled out of the TSA line time and again for additional screening? My white kids didn’t.

Do your kids get treated one way when they are standing alone but get treated a completely different way when you walk up? I mean a completely different way. My white kids didn’t.

Do shoe sales people ask if your kids’ feet are clean before sizing them for shoes? No one asked me that with my white kids. Do complete strangers ask to touch your child’s hair? Or ask about their penis size? Or ask if they are from druggies? No one did this with my white kids.

Did you tell your kids not to fight back because they will seen as aggressive if they stand up for themselves? Have you had to honestly discuss with your husband whether you should take your children to the police station to introduce them to the officers so they would know your children are legitimate members of your community?

Have you had to talk to your children about EXACTLY what to say and not to say to an officer? Have you had to tell your children that the objective of any encounter with police, or security in any form, is to stay alive? It never occurred to me to have these conversations with my white children. In fact, it never occurred to me for myself either.

There is no question that my boys have been cloaked in my protection when they were small. What I did not realize until now is that the cloak I was offering them was identification with my whiteness. As they grow independent, they step out from my cloak and lose that protection. The world sees them differently. It is sweet when they are adopted little black boys so graciously taken in by this nice white family. But when they are real people? Well, it is not the same. And they still look like little boys. What happens to them when they look like the strong, proud black men I am raising?

The reason why the phrase All Lives Matter is offensive to black people is because it isn’t true. Right now, in America, my black children are treated differently than my white children. So when you say All Lives Matter as a response to the phrase Black Lives Matter you are completely dismissing the near daily experience of racism for those with pigment in their skin, curl in their hair and broadness of their nose.

I am posting this so you can see the reality I have witnessed and experienced, because, frankly, I didn’t believe it was true until I saw it up close, directed at two souls I love, over and over again. So, please, use this post as a pair of glasses to see the racism that surrounds you. Then we can actually make progress toward all lives being valued and cherished.

If you succumb to the "need" to ask the above questions, you are part of the problem. Wouldn't you rather be part of the solution?

Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress
- Viewpoint
The idea that abandoning our national affordable care system and turning over health systems policy to the states will resolve the fiscal crisis in our nation is absurd. Simple demographics make it a bad idea.

With the exception of age-related maladies such as senile dementia and a few others, illness strikes in ways that are best understood as random. Almost no state has a population whose age distribution, ethnic mix, income, education, etc., closely mirror the national equivalents. Thus it is entirely predictable that the distribution of illness in some states will overload specific forms of care while in states with younger, healthier populations, medical services will abound and may be surplus or squandered.

Consider two hypothetical states A and B. A is in the rust belt, and its population is relatively old due to the decline of traditional industry and economy and consequent out-migration of young people, who take their earning power and their children (AKA future earners) with them. B is experiencing rapid in-migration its modern economy is creating new wealth and infrastructure that will continue to expand for decades.

A will likely be unable to provide adequate services to its population based on some national average block grants; it will be unable to pay for home care or even common services. It will be forced to raise the share of costs that must be borne by the individual, leading to increasing poverty. Parents will be obliged to pause before seeking care for their children’s injuries or minor illnesses, leading to long-term health consequences that will further unbalance the system. Certain high-cost medical procedures and specialties will become unavailable. Although it is purported that “choice and options” will increase, the real choice will be between medical care and other essentials, with the only option being relocation. Yet because the majority of A’s citizens’ wealth is tied up in their homes and their income is tied to declining local industry for which they were trained long ago, relocation is not a viable option.

B’s citizens, in contrast, will never have had it so good, at least for a while. Their economic and demographic advantages will mean that no one will have to pause before seeking care. Cosmetic surgery and other non-essential specialties will be growth industries; noses and breasts will be reshaped and augmented in every village and town. Medical specialties and procedures now unavailable in A will be a net revenue producer for B, leading to further outflow of A’s wealth and thence to further decline it A’s ability to finance health care. Medical training will continue to migrate to large, rich states, while small, poor states struggle to buy aspirin and adhesive bandages.

These effects will also operate at the local level. Poor counties will get poorer; rich ones will get richer; this will be most apparent in large states like California, Texas and Florida at one end and in Michigan, Mississippi and the Great Plains at the other.

Today we’ve learned that the “(R)eject and (R)egress” effort in Congress has failed again. Good news, but have no doubt they’ll be baa-ack one day soon. Beware!

Latest Bad Health Care Idea Dies in Congress © 26 Sep 2017

Trump Tower Moscow Domain Continues Active
- Viewpoint
Pres. Trump has claimed that he had no pending deals in Russia after the beginning of his presidential campaign. Yet consider the Internet domain It was registered in 2008 by "The Trump Organization" and has been renewed annually including three times (2015, 2016 and 2017) since the presidential campaign of 2016 began.

If indeed the project was to end before the election campaign of 2016 as Pres. Trump has asserted, why would registrants renew the related domain afterward, most recently in July 2017, through 2018? It certainly contradicts the statement that the candidate had no pending deals in Russia. It would appear that someone within The Trump Organization is at the very least hedging his bet, and as everyone knows, that "organization" is totally controlled by one person.

Two reasons for the contradiction suggest themselves: Either (a) that oft-cited, unnamed "low ranking employee who is no longer with the company" failed in his/her responsibility to cancel it, or (b) there was never any intent to abandon the project unless the presidential bid faiiled. Take your choice.

Of course there may be other possible reasons for the unnecessary renewal, such as poltergeists, an undiscovered email from Hillary or surreptitious actions by unnamed conspirators out to get The Donald.

Following is the WHOIS query —which anyone can execute— that shows the original registration and status (standard disclaimers & terms omitted). The standard terminal inquiry, which obscures the name of the registrant using a privacy device of the registrar, is followed by the public report from (LINK) which reveals the name of the registrant.

As Deep Throat might have said had he lived longer, "follow the domain."

Registry Domain ID: 1508992055_DOMAIN_COM-VRSN
Registrar WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Updated Date: 2017-06-28T20:25:51Z
Creation Date: 2008-07-17T20:24:44Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2018-07-01T03:59:59Z
Registrar:, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 146
Registrar Abuse Contact Email:
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: 480-624-2505
Domain Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Domain Status: clientRenewProhibited
Domain Status: clientTransferProhibited
Domain Status: clientUpdateProhibited
DNSSEC: unsigned
URL of the ICANN Whois Inaccuracy Complaint Form:
>>> Last update of whois database: 2017-09-13T16:41:49Z <<<

WHOIS Server:
Registrar URL:
Registrant Name: General Counsel
Registrant Organization: The Trump Organization
DNSSEC: unsigned

©2017 A. R. Clark

Toward equity, not necessarily equality
- Viewpoint
A high school friend has been commenting that proposed cost of living (COL) adjustments in pensions, social security, etc., seem to be immediately absorbed by rises in health insurance and other basic needs. Sad but true.

However, COL is meaningless without a comparison to gross domestic productivity ) per capita (GDPC). GDPC is now about $55,000/year. Of course not everyone works; GDP per WORKER (GDPW) is about $112,000 (World Bank 2016). If your family of 1-2 workers is not getting somewhere between $112K and $224K, you should be asking yourself (and your political representatives), who's getting the balance? The answer, of course, is corporate managers, successful financial speculators and the idle rich. These are political, nof financial, considerations. Unfortunately, the current political system seems to conflate the value of the person with the value of the job to enable the powerful to assert that the low earners are unworthy of a better life. Pitchforks, anyone?

Of course not all work is equally productive or valued, and one can live decently at 1/4 those numbers in the US except in the highest cost cities. Interestingly, 1/4 of GDPW turns out to be just about the $15 per hour minimum wage called for by the progressive wing of the political spectrum.

If each such worker (and all other earners) were assessed ten percent of income during working years, a pension of 1/4 of prior earnings would be easy to finance, and a modest additional personal savings plan should let even low-wage (minimum) workers have a decent retirement. It would take a generation to bring this into effect, and of course simple estimates like ten percent would need to be argued financially rather than emotionally. We have the financial strength to do such a plan; what we appear to lack is the will and the wisdom.

July 2017

Depoliticize the US Supreme Court
- Viewpoint
Almost from its founding, the US Supreme Court has been subject to political stress and strain, as successive presidents have sought to create a preference for their own views of both short and long-term issues. Recently the Senate leadership has used the requirement that it consent to judicial appointments to block or to accelerate the seating of new justices of the supreme and other courts, whether to liberalize or constrain the behavior of the courts purely for partisan reasons.

Recognizing the possibility that this might occur, the Founders’ only solution was to institute lifetime appointments to federal courts that would transcend the tenure of any given president or congress. That was in an era in which few citizens had ever left their own state, learned a foreign language, earned a university or law school diploma or indeed subjected themselves to the competitive aspects of a society of 300 million people, and when the primary criteria to be considered for a court seat were that one be adult, white, male and acceptable to the current power structure. In the modern world, that solution is inadequate and has often resulted in the appointment of relative non-entities to the Supreme Court. There are probably much better ways to manage a court system in the modern era.

Imagine a “Supreme Court System” to replace the current arbitrary grouping. The members of the court hearing any given case would be drawn from among a set of eligible justices on the various appellate courts -- from which many of the Supremes are now drawn anyway -- assigned at random. They need not all be in the same place, as they could share everything, both written and oral, by telecommunication, as most appellate cases are not heard but read, with oral argument being only a supplementary part of the review and often omitted. Where used, oral argument can be presented over the Internet, as was done in the recent Hawaii-based hearings on travel restrictions.

There are currently 169 members of the appellate circuits. If that number were increased, let’s say to 200, or even doubled, there would be adequate judicial time to hear the cases now before the Supreme Court (only a tiny minority of cases are ultimately resolved by the SC). Each case could be examined by a group of nine selected randomly (or perhaps five or seven for cases not involving constitutional or other truly national issues) from among the 200. For quality control, if necessary, eligibility for SC cases could be limited to the senior half of the appellate justices, whereby the qualifications of the justices on any given case would be at least comparable to the current politically selected jurists. Randomization effects would diminish partisan influence.

This approach could also make more cases suitable for SC review, giving both fairness and finality to many cases now declined by the SC. The SC could also be extended to a full work year; the current arrangement is determined in part by the awful summer weather in DC, which should hardly be part of a decision process that can involve life and death.

The Constitution does not prohibit such a change. It would be well within the law to change the role of the Chief Justice to one of administration and assignment of the five, seven, nine, etc., justices to individual cases (the Constitution leaves rules of court structure and management to Congress). The cost of the courts might rise somewhat, but the increased efficiencies and the reduced time and travel required of litigants, lawyers and judges would offset much of the increase, and litigants would be more likely able to get on with their lives. The suggested changes would also in a heartbeat increase the probable socioeconomic diversity of the members of the court hearing any given case, making the justices more like peers than superiors of the litigants.

Such a change should be acceptable across political lines. Both conservatives and liberals have been heard to complain about decisions being made in “far off Washington DC” that could be made closer to the action.

We are not well served by the current politically charged court. It is time to review the implementation of Article III of the Constitution and bring the Supreme Court into the 21st Century.

Copyright © 2017 A. Rees Clark

June 2017

One of the good guys brung his gun
- Viewpoint
From our Irony Department: (Steve) Scalise has sponsored and cosponsored legislation protecting citizens' right to keep and bear arms. In the 112th Congress, Scalise introduced H.R. 58, the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which improves law-abiding citizens' ability to purchase firearms. The bills Scalise has recently cosponsored include National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, H.R.822, which would ensure national reciprocity for concealed carry permit holders. Congressman Scalise's pro-gun stance has earned him an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.

May 2017

Thoughts on a guaranteed income
- Viewpoint
Estimated median income per household in 2017 in the US is $58,000.

The national poverty line (PL) is about $24,000; 110% is $26,400. Numbers rounded up to thousands for ease of interpretation. Of course these values vary from city to city and state to state.

E.g., 1: Given a minimum wage of $15/hr x 40 x 50, worker income is $30,000. PL - 30,000 < 0, so the subsidy would be zero. This family can manage on its own income.

E.g., 2: Given a single earner making $10/hr or $20,000/yr. PL - 20000 > zero, so subsidy is $7,000 or $583/mo. This family is in a world of hurt anywhere in America. If this were a family earning the median, and one relative had to provide support, that person would bear the whole $7,000 burden, which is about 12% of donor’s income.

But there are 200,000,000 working Americans. Which means that each such subsidized family costs the median household only $0.000035 per month (three ten-thousandths of a cent or essentially NOTHING!).

The number of households below the poverty line is about 11 million. Assuming they all qualify in this simple scenario for a $7,000 subsidy, what would that cost the median household? The answer is $385 per year or $32 per month or about a dollar a day or seven tenths of one percent of income.

The total cost of such a program would be about $77 billion per year. What would the recipients do with the money? They would spend it. Given standard estimates of the “multiplier effect” we would expect that outlay to generate about $400 billion in economic activity, most of which would be local. Some part of the money, or the funds liberated by the subsidy, would be taxable, so the donor class could even get some of it back in the form of lower taxes in a “trickle up” benefit that would drive supply siders berserk.

Of course this is an overly simplified scenario, but seems more productive that all 300 million of us put our minds to work improving it, not to reject the whole idea out of hand in a reactionary reflex. Several other countries are experimenting with such income guarantees, and preliminary results are positive.

I contend there is no family in America that has not within the past year made an impulse purchase of $385 that they later regretted. So why are so many so opposed to small income transfers, many even wanting to abolish Social Security?

I believe the reason is closely connected to Lyndon Johnson’s evaluation of racism, but applied to social status instead of ethnic origin. As long as A can keep B’s income low, B must come to A for help, meaning A will enjoy higher social status, based not on intrinsic worth or achievement but on an arbitrary allocation of that love of which is the root of all evil.

Declaration Redux
- Viewpoint
Here are some complaints about government you might recognize, updated and distinguished by "Ancient" and "Modern" to reflect the idea that the more things change the more they stay the same. It appears there is little to no difference between inherited monarchy and willful usurpation of authority.

The ancient "he" was George III. We leave identification of the modern "he" to you.

Ancient: Ancient: He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Modern: He has made it exceedingly easy for States to avoid enforcing Federal law, and has neglected to attend to them.
Example: Allowing states to evade low income provisions of ACA.

Ancient: He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
Modern: He has with the connivance of his political affiliates sought to disenfranchise large numbers of voters based solely on complex and irrelevant documentation of eligibility or to favor certain forms of documentation over others albeit their equivalence.
Example: Arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration rules demonstrably for the purpose of restricting voting by classes of citizens.

Ancient: He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
Modern: He has conducted the business of state at undisclosed or private and inaccessible locations, for the purposes of his persoal convenience or to obscure the existence or content of such conduct.
Example: Numerous private meetings with business associates, intermediaries and foreign government officials at his own private venues.

Ancient: He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
Modern: He has declined to nominate managers or administrators of major and lesser Federal offices and judgeships, whereby the citizens are deprived of essential Federal services.
Example: After three months only a handful of the over 500 senior officials of the Federal government subject to Senate confirmation have been nominated and/or confirmed.

Ancient: He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
Modern: He has imposed untenable conditions on the Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to accommodate migration hither; ignoring the impending natural decrease of native-born populations that will inexorably lead to social and economic decline.
Example: He has ordered or proposed numerous discriminatory barriers to entry and naturalization based on such unconstitutional grounds as national origin or religion; preferring instead to base immigration policy on economic benefit to corporations and financial manipulators.

Ancient: He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
Modern: He with his political affiliaes has failed to appoint or confirm Justices of the various Federal Courts.
Example: As of May 13, 2017, 129 of 890 judgeships are vacent, and only nine persons have been nominated and eight confirmed.

Ancient: He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Modern: He has essayed to make Judges answerable to himself on matters of law; and has impugned their legal decisions by derision or personal insult.
Example: He has denigrated numerous judges of the Federal Courts for a multitude of decisions, based solely on his personal disagreement with them, regardless of his utter lack of legal or judicial training.

Ancient: He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Modern: He has rendered certain agencies impotent by leaving key positions unfilled, by ignoring his obligation to properly adminster the government; or he has appointed administrators who lack substantive knowledge of are in fact opposed to the purpose and practices of their own agencies.
Example: A secretary of commerce opposed to the regulation of financial institutions; a secretary

Ancient: He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
Ancient: He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
Modern: He has appointed military officials to civilian offices.
Example: J. Mattis as Secretary of Defense and H. R. McMaster as National Security Advisor; though many of the security challenges we face are non-military offenses by non-state actors essentially immune to military defense and better suited control by legal or police power or international cooperation.

Ancient: He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
Modern: He has entered into unexplained relationships with foreign dictators of countries inimimcal to our national interest; providing no or little explanation of the intent of such relationships or what quid pro quo may be involved.
Example: Can you name a good reason to praise Putin, Kim, Duterte, etc.?

Ancient: He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Modern: He has charged his followers with imposing physical harm upon opponents of his personal beliefs, statements and actions during extra governmental rallies.
Example: Assaults on protesters at campaign and post-election rallies perpetrated by spoken approval of violence even against silent protesters based solely on their appearance or attire.

Ancient: ... A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Modern: There is no possible improvement on Jefferson's conclusion.

February 2017

Marriage in the Era of the Trump Court
- Viewpoint
Now that we can look forward to “strict constructionists” on the Supreme Court genuflecting to “original intent,” I feel free to consider the prospect of remarriage after several decades. Allow me to explain.

When I was married the prospect of beating my wife seemed barbaric, and besides I never had reason or inclination to do so. But as long as we’re going back to the social and legal norms of 1787, it opens up so many possibilities. Back then wife beating was common and unrestricted. It was not until about 1920 that it became illegal across the country, and even those prohibitions were not strictly enforced for another fifty years.

Now instead of searching for a love match or a woman of admirable personal and professional qualities, I can expand the search and be less choosy. Candidate brides can perhaps be found in a wider walk of life. And if “she” turns out to be unwifely, unfaithful or otherwise unworthy, I can just give her what for.

The election of Donald Trump may turn out to be a godsend after all.

December 2016

Border Security
- Viewpoint

Another beautiful day at Mar-a-Lago.

Test MORE link:

This is additional content that our system is supposed to hide unless requested.

Scaramucci as Scientist Makes a Decent Financial Analyst
- Viewpoint
Anthony Scaramucci, who hosts a financial affairs program, is not a scientist, but he plays one (badly) on TV. One of his current themes as part of the Trump transition team is to assert that "science" once held to belief in a flat earth and therefore cannot be trusted to evaluate global climate change. The fact is that no well educated person in the western world has believed in a flat earth for over TWO THOUSAND YEARS.

The spherical shape of the Earth has been clear since before Eratosthenes first estimated its circumference in about 200 B.C. Depending on which estimate of the length of the "stadia" with which he measured distance, he erred on the circumference by only a few miles. At the time, such inquiries were part of a broad range of intellectual inquiry the Greeks called "philosophy" (Eratosthenes was a Greek Egyptian during the Ptolemaic dynasty following Alexander the Great).

The modern concept of "science" is not merely the aggregation of anecdotal observations. It involves the formation of hypotheses and repetitive observation and testing followed by more repetition until it becomes clear that a hypothesis is proven. Often later observations using new techniques may call the old hypothesis into question, so the whole process resumes and continues until the old or the new proves to be the better explanation of reality. Better tools yield better explanations; this does not mean the older investigators were fools or knaves.

Despite the fourth-grade story we all heard, Columbus and contemporary scholars were well acquainted with the spherical Earth; he did, however, apparently believe the Earth to be much smaller than it really is, leading to his assertion that he could sail directly to Asia. (There are many claims about what Columbus really knew, of course.) Whether ordinary people understood the truth is another question, but the matter was correctly understood by navigators and scholars.

It is likely that Eratosthenes will continue to be long remembered and admired. It is also likely that Scaramucci will be quickly forgotten once his TV caché and the never-happened belief of "science" in a flat-earth hypothesis has faded from our cultural memory.

Minnesota Reduces Income Inequality, Expands Economy
- Viewpoint
Huffington Post has summarized some striking successes by the recent state government in Minnesota (link). Abandoning the "trickle down" economics of former Gov. Pawlenty, the state raised income taxes on wealthy households and increased minimum wages to a level comparable to that in Washington. The result has been a reversal of the state's economic fortune from stagnant to expansive.

The reason for this success and for the failure of tinkle-down is a fairly well understood principle of complex systems called feedback. Newton's observation that a process once in motion tends to remain in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force has applications beyond physics.

In economic systems, if an outside force tends to accelerate distribution of funds to a majority that has a propensity to spend or to create new businesses, then any given amount of income will be re-used often, creating new wealth and reducing inequality.

Conversely, if an outside force tends to concentrate income among even a minority that tends to conserve (read "hoard") it (does the phrase "preservation of capital" ring a bell?), then income will be sequestered or spent on luxury goods and will not be available for development, leading to greater inequality.

In an oligarchical society, one in which a small number of powerful people make rules for others, there is a historically clear tendency to choose the latter course. This manifests itself as “cut taxes” campaigns, reduction of social services and an increase in funds directed to authoritarian control, such as more police and military expenditures that are not driven by external threat. More guns, less butter.

In a democratic society, one in which the maximum number of people participate in decision making, there is a countervailing tendency to choose a redistribution strategy. This results in higher taxes, but the increasing wealth and power of the common family generally causes increase in spending on education, infrastructure and social services like old-age assistance and medical care. Marginally fewer yachts, massively more teacher’s aides.

Note from the article that only modest changes in income distribution have a large effect in either direction. As they might say in Hollywood: No middle class or working people were harmed in the production of Minnesota’s movie.

It's pretty easy to see the effects of political intervention by government. The adjacent graph (Source) shows the redistribution of income to the wealthy that has progressed under some administrations and slowed under others. I leave it to you to assess which party is (R)esponsible for the (R)egressive trends.

(Thanks to Glenda S for calling my attention to this HP article.)

September 2016

Trmp Business Practices Scrutinized
- Viewpoint
Writing in Mother Jones magazine, David Corn has recently reviewed ads featuring business owners who were shorted or never paid for work done on Donald Trmp properties, mainly in Atlantic City, NJ. Here is one of the ads; the others are available at MJ; follow the link below.

Mother Jones Source

So Dump Trump, Already!
- Viewpoint
According to about 1% of my ancestry is "European Jewish." Herewith comments by some of my distant relatives about the present election.
Some platforms/browsers require special configuration for Flash movies. Check your settings if video does not play.

Watch at YouTube

Close Enough!
- Genealogy
Here is Michelle Obama addressing an audience at La Salle University today. I note her near-match tartan dress and am officially claiming her as a relative. :-)

Fascism is Forever
- Viewpoint
Neoconservative columnist Robert Kagan warned in a Washington Post column ( published May 19, 2016, that the "Republican Party's attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic.” and that Trump could be putting America on a path to "fascist” rule.

"Trump has transcended the party that produced him," Kagan wrote. "His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. ... Their allegiance is to him and him alone.”

In both republican and imperial Rome, contending factions were often allied with popular generals whose independent armies wrestled for control of regions or greater Rome itself for hundreds of years. Many of them used the traditional “fasces” ( as a symbol of their power and legitimacy. In the end, these internecine battles came to be more important than the defense of the empire, which was then dismembered by marauders from the margins.

In 1920s Russia and Italy, 1930s Germany, Japan, Spain…, one dictator after another came to power somewhat legitimately and then consolidated its power into an absolute form. Those countries are now in the fourth and fifth generation of atonement for their past. Italy’s political, religious and social fragmentation has lasted for 1,500 years.

The substitution of personal for national loyalty is always and unambiguously a threat to any political system. We are not immune. Kagan’s observations are especially noteworthy due to his conservative orientation and illustrate the nexus of conservatism and liberalism that have traditional formed the core of our transcendant national principles.

Freudian Texas
- Viewpoint

June 2016

Foreign Aid: A Bargain
- Viewpoint
A friend recently re-posted a rant against US foreign aid, saying funds should be used instead for domestic and military programs.

Tempting at first glance, but in fact, less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. That's $40 billion. Interestingly, this is about the same amount of money that would be raised by raising the taxes on incomes over $250,000 to 39.5% (about a three percent raise).

Three percent of $250,001 is $7,500.03; would those wealthy taxpayers suffer more or less than the foreigners who did not get clean water or food for their malnourished children? What would they give up, another TV, another bauble? Wherein lies the greater greed or the greater good?

Foreign aid reduces the potential for conflict and makes Americans safer when they travel abroad. It costs each American about $130 per year or $11 per month. Sounds cheap to me.

Great We Must Remain - Trump No Answer
- Viewpoint
The United States of America waited from 1789 until 1863 for an end to slavery. And another 101 years for an end to Jim Crow laws. And until 1938 for the Fair Labor Standards Act. And until 1965 for equal access to the vote. And until 2015 for gender equality. We must not Make America Wait Again.

April 2016

Sheryl Lynne Smith
- Viewpoint
My sons' cousin Sheryl Lynne Smith's recent album.

Conferees foresee state name changes as climate change intensifies
- Viewpoint
As climate change continues, rising sea level may cause many states to lose coastal land, causing them to lose revenue. Ever the tax hawks, conservative members of several state legislatures have hit on a partial solution to mitigate the effect on state and local goverments and on the private sector. Related ideas were shared today at a "Farewell, Long Island" conference at Montauk, NY.

Noting that many eastern state names will no longer fit inside the boundaries of their remaining territories these forward thinking leaders have proposed shortening the names of cities, counties and states to reduce the cost of reprinting maps, gazetteers and schoolbooks. Some of the proposed changes follow; coastal cities slated for oblivion are marked with asterisks (map).

Donald Trump, ever seeking to appear relevant, tweeted that any climate change would be hugely unfair.

The opening of the new Gulf of Mississipi would require shortening Mississippi to Misippi, which was not opposed, as that is how most residents already pronounce it. Missouri would be reduced to Mizzou in honor of the UM football team.

As Cape Cod and most of eastern Massachusetts disappear, the state's name would be changed to Massa (after tacit approval by the lone African American representative at the conference). Connecticut would be renamed Con in honor of the health insurance industry.

The state of Lua (formerly Louisiana) would be reduced to a small area surrounding its only remaining city, Shrev, which presumably would become the capital and major port given its location on the shores of the Gulf of Mississippi.

The capitals of Massa, Mary, Virg, Nocalina, and Socalina would be replaced by Springield, Balamer, Charlottesville, Raleigh (now also its major seaport), and either Greenville or Newberry, respectively. Bama had yet to name its new capital at this writing.

Most western state names would escape change, as in the 19th Century Congress created them with a principal east-west axis wide enough for any of their names. In addition, the names California, Utah, Nevada, etc., all fit their territories either vertically or diagonally as well. Texas would revert to Tejas to reduce the font-count, but it would be allowed an extra point size.

The disappearance of Washington, D.C., was heralded as a net gain by the conservative audience. When polled, the group could not reach consensus on funding for the preservation of the Library of Congress or the National Archive (repository of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Contitution). The submergence of Florida was also considered a benefit due to the prospective reduction of Medicare and Social Security payments. Florida's role as anti-commie bastion was mitigated, as Havana and all its pro-Fidel monuments were also expected to be under water. Ample funds would be allocated for the replacement of Delaware as the nation's new tax haven, its secret location to be revealed at a later date. Speculation focused on Nevada.

Participants from several fundamentalist organizations, excluded from the main conference, protested the entire conference theme, arguing that if that if Americans would merely pray for deliverance, all the excess water would drain back into the giant caverns beneath the earth where it went after the Noachian Floods.

Criticism surfaced from lefty liberal sources, who claimed that the conference merely diverted attention from a serious global problem to a trivial fiscal matter, Sen. Nero Plunkett of Socalina (formerly South Carolina) said, "fiddledeedee," which sentiment was widely shared among the delegates.

(Apologies to Daily Mail, UK.)

Johnstone Politics of the 1880s
- Viewpoint
From Gail Reid, Facebook Johnstone History Group after Renfrewshire Local History Forum. My Scottish maternal ancestors, who emigrated to the USA in the early 1880s, may have been witnesses or participants.

The Battle of Linwood Bridge by Brian S. Skillen

The migration of Northern Irish workers to the mining and textiles industries of the Paisley district introduced many of the problems experienced in factional religious squabbling. There appears to have been a division of labour and religion, with Protestant folk principally in textiles, and Roman Catholics in labouring and in mining. The division is though not that clear cut and some at least of the oversmen in the ironstone mines of Linwood were of Irish Protestant stock from North Ayrshire.

Given the turbulent nature of the labour force, trouble was never far from the surface. Orange meetings were a part of Paisley experience from the 1850s, action often being taken to curtail demonstrations. In the year 1858 outdoor activities were stopped but a meeting at The Exchange Rooms in Moss Street was allowed. This was attended by 300 men,
women and children. Though outdoor action had been curtailed, a large crowd hung around all day till heavy afternoon rain drove the crowd home.

The newspaper coverage of the events at Paisley suggests that though action at curtailment had been taken, it was more the advent of rain which averted fighting. Certainly the local police would appear to have taken little action. The Paisley police were notoriously ambivalent in their attitudes to crowd control and to religion. They would appear to have had little control over their prison as well. On 3 January 1859, James Garvock, a tobacco spinner was badly beaten by Henry Darroch in one of the cells, after the latter had inquired "if he was an Orangemen, a Catholic or a Presbyterian; and exclaimed he would thrash the d....d Presbyterian stomach out of him, and immediately commenced to put his threat into action."

Given this attitude the events of 12 July 1859 were not surprising. The Glasgow Advertiser 16 July 1859 summed up the start of the day in the following terms: "To the surprise of many of the peaceably disposed inhabitants of Paisley and surrounding district, a party of Orangemen, numbering upwards of a hundred, mustered near the cross on Tuesday morning [12 July 1859], a little after 6 o'clock, decorated with orange sashes, and other party emblems. At half-past six precisely they marched in procession westward along High Street, Wellmeadow Street, &c., with a band of music at their head, and carrying six or seven orange flags with emblazonments and mottos of the usual irritating character..."

This 6:00am muster was to allow a march to Johnstone and around the district back to Paisley, allowing the Orangemen at Linwood to participate in the main part of the march. Also, though according to the account of the Glasgow Advertiser the march had taken Paisley by surprise, the Morning Journal in its account suggests the marchers were well armed and
expecting trouble. This came very quickly because the marchers, after running the gauntlet of general abuse in Paisley, were physically attacked at Millarston by a large group of
well armed coal and ironstone workers.

The Morning Journal commenting in their issue for the 14 July 1859 suggested "a battle was a deliberate part of the day's programme", given the preparedness of both groups. Whatever the argument for a pre-arranged fight, the Millarston squabble was bloody enough. Again according to the Morning Journal: "Roman Catholics [were] the first to resort
to actual violence, and the first of course to flee...." Which was perhaps no wonder, for the heavily armed Orangemen had beaten off the attack, and the miners had fled bloodied from sword cuts and bludgeons.

The Orange march continued to Johnstone, where after a rest about Thorn Brae, they continued on their way toward the mining area about Quarrelton and Corseford. The marchers do not appear to have met with problems at this location. The march then made its way to Millikenpark, when it turned at the station and made its way to Deafhillock Toll, arriving there about 1:00pm. The Linwood Orangemen left the main march at that point and headed for their village. The Paisley and Johnstone Lodges proceeded for the West Toll, where they intended to go their separate ways. But, as the Orange marchers approached Linwood Bridge, they found their way blocked by a group of angry mine workers. The Miners were apparently some 300 in number and seeing this the Orangemen took to their heels for the safety of Linwood Village. After rallying, it was decided that they would once again try for the bridge
and the battle began. Hand to hand fighting with mining tools, bludgeons, knives and paling stobs left terrible injuries. The news of the battle soon spread and as a result a mob turned up to watch the fight, and at one point a crowd was blocking the Paisley to Johnstone Road. The fight is reported to have lasted at least 45 minutes, though a contemporary report in the Scotsman suggests that sporadic violence continued as injured men were still staggering into Paisley during the evening.

The Battle of Linwood Bridge itself ended when the miners fled for Inkerman with some of the Orangemen in pursuit. Once the battle was over the process of attending to the injured began and Doctors Daniel, Donald, McKinlay and McHutcheon arrived from Paisley. They were joined by doctors from Johnstone, these were Messrs Calligan, McLaren and Shiling.

March 2016

Ol' Blac'Donald Had a Farm...
- Viewpoint
I saw a an African American preacher on TV yesterday extolling the virtues of Donald Trump, complete with all the stereotypical intonations of the rural pulpit. That made me wonder whether such attitudes in the 21st Century, which of course strike me as self-destructive, might have originated in an earlier era. So of course I went to that font of historical truth, Google.

Using the search string "19th century black writers supporting slavery" I got the following result (graphic). I conclude therefrom that the preacher was just seeking his 15 minutes of fame.

November 2015

A Little Help from My Friends Pleas
- Viewpoint
You're right, the headline makes no sense. This is a test of the new application Grammarly. It is an extended spelling and grammar checker for use with several browsers and other text applications.

I am using Grammarly to right this article. (Originally the previous sentence read "...two right..."; Grammarly caught "two" but not "right" in context.) Interestingly, when I passed the cursor over "right" after typing the next sentence, it then flagged the mistake. Impressive so far.

The popup, real-time corrections can be annoying, and you do have to hint by placing the cursor over suspect words, but there appear to be ways to minimize intrusiveness.

I note the app assumed US English; perhaps it should have a choice for other regional usage (mainly the "honour, favour..." crowd). The vendor states this is an English-only app, but one hopes others will pick up the baton, perhaps with design help from Grammarly (I need a lot more help in my other languages).

Grammarly's Website

October 2015

License police to upgrade the profession
- Viewpoint
Noting all the "strange and unexplained" deaths of citizens in police custody. IMHO: Police officers should be licensed under rigorous, nationally standardized qualifications and procedures. They should apprentice under experienced training officers (separately licensed), and they should be subject to strict performance standards.

Breaches of faith, including unnecessary violence or obvious bias, should be cause for termination and suspension or withdrawal of license, and a registry of lapsed licenses should be maintained at the national level, blocking failed or abusive officers from moving on down the road.

Using "crowd sourcing" the necessary standards could probably be created within a year and presented to Congress, which should enable legislation with procedures for constant review and improvement by the same open commentary; the politicians should be left out of the definition of goals and procedures and merely create and approve the statutory language to meet legal standards.

States would have to conform to qualify for all future government grants related to law enforcement, which would quickly shut off the "big gub'mint" arguments. Administration via the WWW would be relatively easy. Money could come in part from assessments of all police agencies for program administration and from termination of all programs to supply military grade weapons to local police.

Licensing and professionalism would attract the best among us to the ranks of the police, leading to greater public confidence. This is not hard; it just takes a bit of will power, an open forum and a few thousand caring citizens with web browsers.

The Real Obama Proposal on Gun Safety
- Viewpoint
After seeing many people making many claims about "big gub'mint" comin' ta take yr gunn," I decided to look up the Obama Administration's actual proposal. It has been widely reprinted in reputable news outlets and at least one legislative analysis. It has also been pilloried by the gun lobby and its adherents. I have posted four analyses below. I have generally omitted gun fanciers' propaganda in favor of actual presentations of fact. (Note: Some emphasis and other formatting has been omitted to facilitate posting on WWW.)

Much has also been made of so-called confiscation of guns in Australia and the UK. The actual situation is described in these articles about Australia and The UK. In neither case is ownership prohibited outright; both countries do have strict controls. Both are good places to spend many years in prison for committing a crime while carrying or brandishing or using a gun.

Obama Gun Proposal

Source 1: National Conference of State Legislatures

The plan:

  • Requires background checks for all gun sales and strengthens the background check system. This would include removing barriers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act so that states may more freely share information about mental health issues involving potential gun purchasers.
  • Provides states with monetary incentives—$20 million in fiscal year FY 2013 and a proposed $50 million in FY 2014—to share information so that records on criminal history and people prohibited from gun ownership due to mental health reasons are more available.
  • Bans military-style assault weapons and limits magazines to a capacity of 10 rounds.
  • Provides additional tools to law enforcement. The plan proposes a crackdown on gun trafficking by asking Congress to pass legislation that closes “loopholes” in gun trafficking laws and establishes strict penalties for “straw purchasers” who pass a background check and then pass guns on to prohibited people.
  • Urges Congress to pass the administration’s $4 billion proposal to keep 15,000 state and local police officers on the street to help deter gun crime.
  • Maximizes efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime. The president calls upon the attorney general to work with U.S. attorneys across the country to determine gaps occurring in this area and where supplemental resources are appropriate.
  • Provides training for “active shooter” situations to 14,000 law enforcement, first responders and school officials.
  • Directs the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a statement to health care providers that they are not prohibited by federal law from reporting threats of violence to the proper authorities.
  • Launches a national gun safety campaign to encourage responsible gun ownership and authorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission to examine issues relating to gun safety locks.
  • Helps schools invest in safety. The president’s plan calls for more school resource officers and counselors in all schools through the Community Oriented Policing Services hiring program. The plan also calls for the federal government to assist schools in developing emergency management plans.
  • Improves mental health awareness through enhanced teacher training and referrals for treatment. The plan calls for the training of 5,000 additional mental health professionals nationwide. The plan also calls for coverage of mental health treatment under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.

Source 2: New York Times

What’s in Obama’s Gun Control Proposal

The initiative to reduce gun violence announced by President Obama on Wednesday includes both legislative proposals that would need to be acted on by Congress and executive actions he can do on his own. Many of the executive actions involve the president directing agencies to do a better job of sharing information.

Proposed Congressional Actions

  • Requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those by private sellers that currently are exempt.
  • Reinstating and strengthening the ban on assault weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
  • Limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
  • Banning the possession of armor-piercing bullets by anyone other than members of the military and law enforcement.
  • Increasing criminal penalties for "straw purchasers," people who pass the required background check to buy a gun on behalf of someone else.
  • Acting on a $4 billion administration proposal to help keep 15,000 police officers on the street.
  • Confirming President Obama's nominee for director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
  • Eliminating a restriction that requires the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow the importation of weapons that are more than 50 years old.
  • Financing programs to train more police officers, first responders and school officials on how to respond to active armed attacks.
  • Provide additional $20 million to help expand the a system that tracks violent deaths across the nation from 18 states to 50 states.
  • Providing $30 million in grants to states to help schools develop emergency response plans.
  • Providing financing to expand mental health programs for young people.

Executive actions

  • Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
  • Addressing unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
  • Improving incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
  • Directing the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
  • Proposing a rule making to give law enforcement authorities the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
  • Publishing a letter from the A.T.F. to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
  • Starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
  • Reviewing safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
  • Issuing a presidential memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
  • Releasing a report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and making it widely available to law enforcement authorities.
  • Nominating an A.T.F. director.
  • Providing law enforcement authorities, first responders and school officials with proper training for armed attacks situations.
  • Maximizing enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
  • Issuing a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.
  • Directing the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenging the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
  • Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
  • Releasing a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
  • Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
  • Developing model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
  • Releasing a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
  • Finalizing regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within insurance exchanges.
  • Committing to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
  • Starting a national dialogue on mental health led by Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, and Arne Duncan, the secretary of education.

Source 3: Washington Post

(President Obama proposed expansive gun-control policies aimed at curbing gun violence. The Obama administration can implement about half of the proposals, but the others — arguably some of the more critical initiatives — will require congressional approval. ... Major elements: Background checks, Assault weapons, Gun violence research, Gun safety, School safety, Mental health.

Background checks

88 percent of Americans support background checks on people buying guns at gun shows.

Proposal: 88 percent of Americans support background checks on people buying guns at gun shows.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Require universal background checks for all firearm sales.
Proposal: Send a letter from ATF to licensed dealers with guidance on how to facilitate background checks for private sellers.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Direct U.S. attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun and make recommendations to ensure dangerous people aren't slipping through the cracks.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Invest $20 million in fiscal year 2013 to give states stronger incentives to share background data.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Hold federal agencies accountable for sharing reliable data with background check system.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Remove barriers that prevent states from reporting information on people prohibited from gun ownership for mental health reasons.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, supported by 58 percent of Americans.

Proposal: Reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons.
Action Required By: Congress

Limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
Action Required By: Congress

Ban possession of armor-piercing ammunition by anyone other than the military and law enforcement.
Action Required By: Congress

Gun violence research

Proposal: Direct the Centers for Disease Control and scientific agencies to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Provide $10 million to CDC for additional research on relationship between video games, media images and violence.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Provide $20 million to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System to all 50 states.
Action Required By: Congress

Gun safety

Proposal: Launch a national campaign to promote common-sense safety measures.

Action Required By

Obama administration

Proposal: Review and enhance safety standards for gun locks and gun safes.

Obama administration

Proposal: Direct attorney general to review gun safety technologies.

Obama administration

Proposal: Challenge private sector to develop gun safety technology.

Obama administration

School safety

Proposal: 55 percent of Americans support placing an armed guard in every school.
Action Required By: Local authorities

Proposal: Provide incentives for police departments to hire school resource officers through COPS hiring grants.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Give $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, school psychologists, social workers and counselors.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Provide $30 million in one-time state grants to help school districts develop emergency management plans.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Give schools and other institutions a model for how to develop and implement emergency plans.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Provide $50 million to help 8,000 more schools train their teachers and staff to create safer and more nurturing environments.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Share best practices on school discipline.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Mental health; 56 percent of Americans think inadequate treatment of mentally ill people contributes a great deal to gun violence.

Proposal: Provide $55 million for new initiative (Project AWARE) to make sure students get treatment for mental health issues.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Provide $25 million for state-based strategies supporting individuals ages 16-25 with mental health or substance abuse issues.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Provide $25 million to offer students mental health services for trauma or anxiety.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Provide $50 million to train 5,000 additional mental health professionals serving children and young adults.
Action Required By: Congress

Proposal: Clarify that the health-care law does not prohibit doctors from asking their patients about guns in their homes.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Launch a national dialogue about mental illness.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Finalize requirements for private health insurance plans to cover mental health services.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Proposal: Ensure that Medicaid recipients get quality mental health coverage.
Action Required By: Obama administration

Source 4: Connecticut General Assembly, Legislative Analyst

Program Description;

January 18, 2013



By: Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst II

You asked for a summary of President Obama's gun control proposals.


President Obama's plan includes both legislative proposals and executive directives that can be implemented without Congressional approval. It includes requiring a background check for all gun sales and bans (1) assault weapons, (2) magazines that hold 10 or more rounds, and (3) armor-piercing bullet possession. The plan also includes proposals to make schools safer and improve mental health services. (For a chart on whether a proposal needs legislative or executive action, see

In addition to the $4 billion proposal to keep 15,000 police officers on the street, the president's plan asks Congress for over $400 million for initiatives such as additional gun research, grants for hiring and training personnel, and incentives for certain objectives. President Obama is also directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to invest $70 million in the next two years to give states a stronger incentive to share data for background checks. (For President Obama's complete proposal, see

Some of the proposals do not include specific plans for implementation. All of the president's proposals deal with federal law. Federal gun laws serve as the minimum standard and states may choose to regulate guns more strictly.

After the Newtown tragedy, President Obama appointed Vice President Biden to lead a gun violence task force to provide proposals that would curb gun violence. The task force met with 229 groups, including law enforcement agencies, public health officials, gun advocacy groups, sportsmen and hunters, and religious leaders. The task force submitted its recommendations to President Obama on January 15, 2013. The gun initiatives he presented the next day were based on these proposals.


President Obama's plan asks Congress to pass a law requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. Currently, under the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, federally licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks on gun buyers using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). But private sellers do not have to conduct such checks.

Currently, private sellers can choose to sell their guns through a licensed dealer and thus conduct a background check on the buyer. The proposal is asking for voluntary compliance with this. The administration, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will send letters to licensed dealers on how to do these checks.

Strengthening Background Checks

The president's plan includes four executive actions designed to strengthen the background check system.

The first addresses unnecessary legal barriers that prevent states from reporting certain relevant information about people prohibited from gun ownership for mental health reasons. Some states have cited restrictions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) as the reason for not submitting certain information. The administration will gather information on the scope and extent of this problem.

The second encourages states to share information with the background check system by investing $20 million in FY 13 and $50 million in FY 14 to give states stronger incentives to share data on criminal history records and records of people prohibited from having guns for mental health reasons.

The third executive action holds federal agencies accountable for sharing reliable information with the background check system. Through a Presidential Memorandum, the administration is requiring agencies to identify these records, make them available to the background check system, and regularly report that they are complete and up-to-date.

Fourth and finally, the president will direct the Attorney General, in consultation with other relevant agencies, to review the laws on who is prohibited from having guns and make legislative and executive recommendations to ensure that these laws cover all dangerous people.


President Obama's plan bans (1) military-style assault weapons, (2) magazines that hold 10 or more bullets, and (3) possession of armor-piercing ammunition.

Assault Weapons

The president's proposal seeks legislation to reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban that was in place from 1994 to 2004. (For more information on Connecticut law for assault weapons, see OLR Report 2013-R-0001.)

High-Capacity Magazines

The proposal also asks Congress to reinstate the 1994 legislation that banned high-capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

Armor-Piercing Ammunition

Under current law, it is illegal to manufacture and import armor-piercing ammunition except for military or law enforcement use. The president calls on Congress to ban the possession of armor-piercing ammunition by, and its transfer to, anyone other than the military and law enforcement.


The administration's plan gives law enforcement more tools and funding to curb gun violence. The plan calls for:

1. prohibiting “straw purchases,”

2. increasing police funding and training,

3. better tracing of guns used in crimes,

4. regulating certain gun returns and importations,

5. confirming an ATF director,

6. prosecuting certain gun crimes, and

7. publishing an annual report on lost and stolen guns.

Gun Trafficking

President Obama is proposing a law prohibiting straw purchasing for guns, which occurs when people who would not pass a background check get someone else to buy the gun for them.


The president is asking Congress for $4 billion to keep 15,000 police officers on the street. In addition, he is asking Congress for $14 million to train 14,000 more police officers, first responders, school officials, and others to respond to active shooter situations.

Enhance Tracing Data

Currently, not all federal law enforcement agencies are required to trace all the guns they recover from a criminal investigation. Under the proposal, the president will issue a Presidential Memorandum requiring all federal agencies to trace each such gun to its first purchaser.

Returning/Importation of Certain Guns

Currently, when law enforcement must return guns seized as part of an investigation, they are unable to perform a full background check on the owner. The administration will propose regulations that ensure law enforcement has access to the database needed for background checks.

The president also called on Congress to eliminate restrictions that force ATF to authorize importation of certain older weapons. Currently, ATF is required to authorize the importation of certain “curio or relic” guns because they were manufactured more than 50 years ago. Some of these guns include semiautomatic military-surplus rifles. The administration wants ATF to be able to change this definition to prevent buyers from being able to acquire fully functional and powerful military weapons.

ATF Director

The president called on the Senate to confirm an ATF director. The position has been vacant for the last six years. Since 2006, ATF has been run by five acting directors. President Obama has nominated B. Todd Jones, the current acting director, to be director.

Gun Crime Prosecution

The administration, through the Attorney General and U.S. attorneys, will make sure every appropriate resource is used to prevent gun violence. This includes asking all U.S. attorneys if additional efforts would be appropriate to prosecute people who (1) have been convicted of a felony and illegally seek a gun or (2) try to evade the background check by providing false information.

Lost/Stolen Gun Information

The plan directs DOJ to publish an annual report on lost and stolen guns to ensure that data collected by ATF is available. The report will include state-by-state statistics on guns reported missing. DOJ will also identify best practices and encourage states and cities to follow them.


The president hopes to prevent gun violence by (1) gaining a better understanding of its causes, (2) clarifying a health care provider's right to talk to patients about gun safety, and (3) encouraging safe gun storage.


Currently, Congress bars the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies from using funds to advocate or promote gun control, which some have taken as a bar on all research on the causes of gun violence.

President Obama is issuing a Presidential Memorandum directing CDC and other scientific agencies, as a matter of public health, to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence. CDC will begin by assessing existing strategies and identify the most pressing research questions that have the greatest potential public health impact. In addition, the administration is asking Congress for $10 million for CDC research on the relationship between video games, media images, and violence.

The president also believes better data is needed in order to research gun violence prevention. He is asking Congress for $20 million to expand the National Violent Death Reporting System from the 18 states currently participating to all 50. The system collects anonymous data on homicides and suicides involving guns.

Health Care Providers

The administration believes that there is currently some confusion about whether federal law prohibits health care providers from reporting a patient's threats of violence to law enforcement agencies. The federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a letter clarifying that no federal law prohibits these reports.

There also has been confusion as to whether the federal Affordable Care Act prohibits health care providers from asking if their patients have guns in their homes, especially if the patient shows signs of mental illness or has a child or mentally ill family member living there. The administration will issue guidance clarifying that the Affordable Care Act does not bar patient-doctor communications about guns.

Gun Safety

The administration will launch a national responsible gun ownership campaign to encourage gun owners to use gun safes, trigger locks, separate storage of guns and ammunition, and report lost and stolen weapons to law enforcement.

The president will also ask the Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the effectiveness of gun locks and safes, including existing voluntary industry standards. The Chair will take the necessary steps to improve the standards to protect the public.

Finally, the president is directing the Attorney General to work with technology experts in reviewing existing and emerging gun safety technologies. The Attorney General will report on the availability of those technologies. The president is also challenging the private sector to develop innovative and cost-effective gun safety technology and award prizes to the most reliable and effective technologies.


The president's proposal includes (1) hiring and training more school resource officers and other personnel, (2) implementing a Comprehensive School Safety Program, (3) helping school districts develop emergency management plans, and (4) training teachers and staff to create a safer school environment.

School Resource Officers

President Obama will direct DOJ to provide a preference for COPS Hiring Grant applications for police departments that hire school resource officers. COPS Hiring Grants are grants offered by DOJ to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, that provide funding for the hiring or re-hiring of full-time officers.

Comprehensive School Safety Program

The administration is proposing a new Comprehensive School Safety Program to give $150 million to school districts and law enforcement agencies to hire school resource officers, psychologists, social workers, and counselors. DOJ will also develop a model for school resource officers, including age-appropriate techniques in interacting with students.

Under the program, school districts can also use grants to (1) purchase school safety equipment, (2) develop and update public safety plans, (3) conduct threat assessments, and (4) train crisis intervention teams. The federal General Services Administration will use its purchasing power to help acquire safety equipment.

Emergency Management Plans

The president is directing the departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security to release a set of model, high-quality emergency management plans for schools, houses of worship, and higher learning institutions. These must be issued by May 2013, and must include best practices for developing these plans and training students and staff to follow them. The departments of Justice and Homeland Security will assist any interested school, house of worship, or higher education institution in assessing its security.

President Obama is also asking Congress to provide $30 million in one-time grants to states to help school districts develop and implement emergency management plans. In order to receive these grants, states and school districts must have comprehensive, up-to-date emergency plans in place for all of their schools.

Safer School Environment

The administration believes that gun violence occurs in part because of bullying and other problem behaviors like drug abuse or poor attendance. So far, with help from the Department of Education (DOE), 18,000 schools have implemented strategies to improve school climate. These strategies include consistent rules and rewards for good behavior, with more intensive steps for those exhibiting at-risk behavior, including individual services for those who continue this behavior.

President Obama is asking Congress for $50 million to help 8,000 more schools train their teachers and staff to implement these strategies. The administration will also develop a school climate survey that provides data to help schools implement these policies.

The president is directing DOE to collect and disseminate best practices on school discipline policies and help school districts develop and implement them.


The president is (1) creating a new initiative to train teachers and other adults to recognize and deal with mental illness, (2) asking Congress to fund several programs that would provide support and training, and (3) attempting to ensure coverage of mental health treatment.

Project AWARE

President Obama is asking Congress for $55 million for a new initiative, Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) to reach 750,000 young people. Project AWARE will train teachers and other adults who regularly interact with students to recognize who needs help and ensure they are referred to mental health services.

Fifteen million of this grant would go towards training these teachers and other adults to detect and respond to mental illness in children and young adults. It would include training on how to encourage adolescents and families experiencing these problems to seek treatment.

The remaining $40 million would go to help school districts work with law enforcement, mental health agencies, and other local organizations to make sure students with mental health issues are referred to the services they need.

Support for Individuals Age 16 to 25

The administration is asking Congress for $25 million for innovative state-based strategies supporting individuals age 16 to 25 with mental health or substance abuse issues.

Pervasive Violence

The administration believes that exposure to community violence can impact a child's mental health and development and increase the likelihood he or she will later commit a violent act. To combat this, the president is asking Congress for $25 million to offer students mental health services for trauma or anxiety, conflict resolution programs, and other school-based violence prevention strategies.

Additional Mental Health Professionals

President Obama is asking Congress for $50 million to train more social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals. This money would provide stipends and tuition reimbursements to train more than 5,000 mental health professionals serving young people.

National Dialogue

The president is directing the secretaries of HHS and DOE to start a national dialogue about mental illness with young people who experienced mental illness, members of the faith community, foundations, and school and business leaders.

Mental Health Treatment

The administration will finalize regulations requiring existing group health plans that offer mental health services to cover them at parity under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The act states that if a group health plan covers the treatment of mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse, it cannot charge higher co-payments, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses for those services than for treatment of physical illnesses.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act requires all new small group and individual plans to cover ten essential health benefit categories, including mental health and substance abuse services.

The administration will also issue a letter to state health officials making it clear that Medicaid plans must comply with mental health parity requirements.)

Departure Preparation
- Viewpoint
Genesis 18:33, "When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home." Question: How does an omnipresent being "leave."

Remember when...
- Viewpoint
Remember when "The Government"

  • required you to get a driver's license before driving and then came and recycled your car into raw materials?
  • required you to go through airport security before boarding your flight and then permanently closed the airport?
  • required that you graduate from high school before going to the state university and then wouldn't let you buy your textbooks?
  • required that you register your child's birth before taking it home and then took away your nursery furniture?

OF COURSE YOU DON'T, because it never happened to you! So why are you so sure "The Gubment" will take away your gun just because you submit to a background check before buying it?

Ready and willing... to kill
- Viewpoint
Writing at Facebook, Krista Breunsbach writes ...why would anyone own a gun if they weren't already willing to kill something?

Krista is on the right track, and statistically that willingness to kill will be turned on a neighbor, friend or loved one many times more often than on a real threat (documentation easy to find). Willingness to kill "someTHING" is one thing; frankly, most of us would readily kill a rabid animal, most people eat meat, and many hike through wild country. Willingness to kill "someONE," however, is a pathological condition, recognized in literature and treatable in such manifestations as PTSD, schizophrenia, et al. Persons not having the capacity to make good judgments should be prevented from having deadly weapons, especially military grade guns capable of mass murder. Even political crazies who think they're going to participate in a revolution would not want the unpredictable Columbine, Newtown or Umpqua shooters in their "army," so why should they have guns? Denial of permits can always be subject to appeal; there is NO REASON to continue living in the past.

September 2015

One wonders whether H. naledi would be amused, or saddened.
- Viewpoint

Rick Scott Strikes Again
- Viewpoint
FL Gov. (R)ick Scott has created a commission to find ways to screw with the President over fix healthcare in the state. The commission is apparently filled with cronies with a background in anti-public activities and little or no experience in healthcare.

All this from that same swell guy who pushed (you'll pardon the expression) drug testing onto recipients of publc assistance and gave a testing contract to a company owned by his wife (which he had transferred to her shortly before announcing the policy). See that liberal media bastion Forbes Magazine, 2/17/15 for more info.

Read the source

July 2015

Vowels and Consonants
- Guests/Demo
Friends of mine on Facebook have been teasing one another about the spelling of their names. Rocky James Curtiss called out his friend and classmate Richard Curtis, about his missing S. So I hastened to point out the causes: "RE spelling, you have to remember the times back in the 40s. WWII caused all kinds of shortages. When I was born in 1943, there was a shortage of Es, so I'm Rees Clark, not Reese Clarke. In 1944 there was a shortage of Ss. So there are Curtisses and Curtises; it all depended on rationing rules that were set based on local availability. I'm surprised that the usually adept historian Jeffrey Handley didn't catch that. Now I know some people will attribute the differences to familiy legacy, but as any good Republican will tell you, it was all FDR's fault."

Tealium appoints GM Asia Pacific as regional growth soars
- In the news...
Strong local client growth and a burgeoning sales pipeline has seen Tealium, the leader in enterprise tag management and real-time customer data solutions, appoint digital technology veteran, Andy Clark as General Manager Asia Pacific.

Responsible for sales and operations across the region, Clark is based in Singapore and will support expanding demand for real-time customer data solutions in the key markets of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and India. The appointment follows the opening of new larger offices in Sydney.

According to Clark, Tealium’s rapid growth across the region is the result of digital marketers seeking to more effectively leverage first party, real-time data to drive more relevant interactions across devices. In addition, they’re seeking a simpler way to manage website data tracking and third party providers for services like retargeting, search engine marketing and analytics.

“There’s a strong demand across the region for comprehensive digital marketing solutions that drive more profitable, relevant interactions with customers,” said Clark. “All marketers want to measure their digital initiatives, and have immediate access to their customer data. Tealium delivers the real-time data that allows marketers to power inbound and outbound channels with ‘live’ customer segments. Now every customer experience, in every channel, can be consistent and up-to-the-second relevant.”

Clark was most recently Group Vice President, Asia Pacific for Limelight Networks, providing cost-effective, multi-channel digital content delivery platform technology. Prior to Limelight, Clark was Director of Sales and Operations, North Asia for Crossbeam Systems, Country Manager, Japan for RightNow technologies as well as leading the integration software efforts of IBM in the region.

Evidence Based
- Viewpoint
The oft-repeated myth that having a gun is conducive to personal safety is contradicted in a study by an Oxford University researcher, which showed that persons carrying guns are four or five times more likely to be killed or injured in a gun-related incident than those without firearms. I invite your review.

UPDATE: Ten minutes later. I turned away from the TV to post this, and when I looked up another theater massacre had occurred, with two known dead. Congratulations to the NRA!

Read the article

We could rebuild (it); we have the technology...
- Viewpoint
According to US Sen. Bernie Sanders of VT, "The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that it would cost $3.6 trillion to bring our nation's infrastructure to a state of good repair. Spending one trillion would create about 13 million jobs..." So, of course, I rushed to my spreadsheet.

$3.6 trillion borrowed at 4% for 40 years (the typical rate and term combination for US infrastructure projects) would cost about $64 per capita per month or $773 per year, assuming 200 million adult taxpayers. At the median wage of $17.09/hour (Citation) each adult would have to work about 52 minutes more per week to earn that extra tax money; of course better infrastructure would reduce that time requirement and improve the general economy, but my spreadsheet has no column for that. Of course we could do nothing and save that pittance of time and money, but why not be remembered as those who built or restored the bridge over the Columbia or the playground in our neighborhood?

In contrast, every year we spend $2,141 per capita (Citation) for our military, and that's for all citizens, not just taxpayers; using the 200MM taxpayers figure, the yearly amount is more like $3,500.

There are other costs. Many infrastructure projects are dangerous; in the current era about 9.5 workers per hundred thousand die in construction accidents yearly (2008-12, est., Citation). The senator estimates 13,000,000 "jobs," but it's not clear how many would be employed at any given time. If that number is half those who would ever be employed in such a work plan, or 6.5 million, then the number of annual deaths would be 9.5 ÷ 100,000 X 6,500,000, or 617, or about 15 per year over 40 years. For comparison, since the era of G.W. (Great Warrior) Bush, we've been burying about 4,000 soldiers per year.

ItemExpenditure (40 yrs)MonthlyYr. Per CapitaMo. Per CapitaDeaths/Yr

So the annual decision matrix reduces to $773 and 15 deaths for the infrastructure model vs. $3,200 per year (which over the same 40 years would come to about $28 trillion) and 4,000 deaths for the military model. If you are still finding that to be a tough call, consider that two generations of technological progress in infrastructure development would also be a "product" we could sell to the world, potentially giving us permanent national income in the future. And the buyers would probably not be inclined to undo their progress by engaging in warfare against their neighbors or those who provided the support services to keep that infrastructure functional. In contrast, every military sortie creates a new pocket of hatred somewhere, which unless we do something smarter will continue to create nihilistic revenge seekers, many of whom will act reflexively, to paraphrase Jesus, knowing not what they do.

Of course this is a facile analysis. We probably cannot do away with all national security expense, but given that it will be generations before anyone other than a couple of traditional enemies could mount an existential attack on the USA without committing national suicide, mightn't we move a few millimeters* in a more rational direction?

(Apologies to The Six Million Dollar Man.)

* Millimeter: a unit of linear measurement used in construction worldwide; see also inch.
Some multiples may not come out even due to rounding.
Revised with minor corrections 6 Oct 2015.

June 2015

- Viewpoint
Which of these flags
• is a symbol of oppression to millions?
• represents a treasonous attack on existing civil authority?
• calls for a return to an outdated philosophy of life and society?

Rally round the flag, good ole boys!
- Viewpoint
Anyone know a paper goods manufacturer? This could be a big seller, unreconstructed fools could use it out of "praadd;" others could make a wry comment about "moving" on.

Danger, Will Robinson!
- Viewpoint
Danger, danger!

In case you spend your $10 to see the reruns of "Jaws" this month and are motivated to grab your gun and head for the coastline, consider...

On average, around 100 people per year die in horse riding accidents. Thousands more riders are injured. The majority of horse related accidents and deaths are due to brain injuries caused as the result of not wearing a helmet. Horse-related accidents are the most common type of serious sports injury. Shooting horses is illegal most places.

Earthquakes: Events per year with magnitude >= 8.0 is 1. Average people killed per year: 13,298. Average people affected per year: 4,701,156. Most deaths are attributable to faulty construction. Shooting architects and masons is illegal.

Floods: Events per year: 2,887. No of people killed: 195,843. Average people killed per year: 6,753. No of people affected: 2,809,481,489. Shooting boatwrights is illegal.

Exposure & hypothermia: From 1999 to 2011, a total of 16,911 deaths in the United States, an average of 1,301 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural cold. The highest yearly total of hypothermia-related deaths (1,536) was in 2010 and the lowest (1,058) in 2006. Approximately 67% of hypothermia-related deaths were among males. Shooting people who don't want to take precautions is illegal.

Air Pollution: In new estimates released today, WHO reported 25 March 2014 that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives. Shooting drivers is illegal.

Smoking: It is the leading cause of preventable death. Worldwide, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today. Shooting smokers is illegal.

Shark Attack: The highest death rate occurred in Western Australia, which has experienced 11 fatal attacks since 2000, for the math-challenged, that's less than one per year. In 2000, there were 79 shark attacks reported worldwide, 11 of them fatal. In 2005 and 2006 this number decreased to 61 and 62 respectively, while the number of fatalities dropped to only four per year. Shooting sharks is legal.

So it's obvious we should fear sharks. BTW, there is no legal penalty for NOT swimming in shark infested waters.

Sources: Various. Not all clear whether USA or global statistics.

Prospects for Childhood under (President?) Jeb Bush
- Viewpoint
As the child of a divorced mother, I cannot help but wonder what my childhood and that of children without "documentation" might have been like if Jeb Bush had been president in the 1940s. According to my mother it was hard enough to be a single woman with a family to support; add in official misogyny and it could only have been worse.

Here are some items from national news sources about Bush League thinking attributed to Jeb:

1. Gov. Jeb Bush to Seek Guardian for Fetus of Rape Victim, The New York Times, May 15, 2003 (LINK)

2. Jeb Bush In 1995: Unwed Mothers Should Be Publicly Shamed, The Huffington Post, June 9, 2015 (LINK)

3. New Bush staffer under fire for tweets about 'sluts' and gay men, The Hill, February 9, 2015 (LINK)

4. The Patience of Jeb, The Washington Post, February 21, 2003 (LINK)

5. Jeb's abortion nightmare: How he funneled tax dollars to quack anti-choicers and gutted real health care, Salon, April 14, 2014 (LINK)

(My father abandoned both me and my half brother in 1946 not to be seen again until old-age solitude made him seek out family connections after 50 years; both of us were raised by our maternal families in ignorance of one another. In the fantasy world of Jeb, our mothers might have been ostracized and even punished, while dear old dad went on to the freedom and lack of responsibility he favored.)

Watermelon Fusion
- Viewpoint
From our food fusion department, consider the potential synthesis of these two items from Facebook today. Just add toothpicks!

May 2015

Left vs. right wingers
- Viewpoint
I participate in an "old home town" website that focuses on the "wonder years" life once characteristic of the community. A recent item asked whether left-handed students had ever been coerced to become righties. As a former school-district brat (my mother was an administrator and teacher), I recall that the left vs. right subject came up when a friend's grandmother talked about her 19th Century experience of such coercion, including having her left hand tied behind her back during writing exercises. I don't believe the the local schools ever officially coerced kids to switch, though some individual teachers may have done so on their own.

I recall that several lefties became much more ambidextrous than anyone else. I also recall that lefties had some clear disadvantages in the classroom. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, ballpoint pens had not penetrated the classroom; we wrote first with pencils and then with fountain pens or old-style India ink pens with separable points (I still have some that my mother saved; those who attended the lone elementary school of the 1920s, 30s and 40s will recall the old-style desks with the hole for the ink bottle). The written output was slow to dry; one either blotted or waited, so lefties were often last to finish assignments. Of course, if you were left-handed, you also went home with sometimes indelible ink on the heel of your left hand and on the wrist and elbow if your left sleeve.

Note to historians: Because around 90 percent of people are righties, I've long suspected that the predominant shift to LTR alphabets is mostly about reducing our global laundry bill.

April 2015

Baltimore Police Long Driven by Race
- Viewpoint
Baltimore police are suspected of injuring a black suspect, leading to his death. Surprise, not really!

When I moved my family to Baltimore in 1972 to take a job teaching at University of Maryland's Baltimore County campus (UMBC), I found that the apartment I had leased was not ready for occupancy. That led to an urgent hunt for an alternative.

My mother had come east to help with the move, and one afternoon we were driving in west Baltimore, near the HQ of the Social Security Administration, one of Baltimore's largest employers. The middle-class area we were investigating consisted mostly of single family dwellings, generally post-WWII, and seemed a likely possibility for my family. People on the streets appeared as a mix of black and white, much like the student body and faculty.

At one point I stopped at an intersection where visibility was blocked by large shrubbery. I crept out into the cross street and suddenly saw an approaching car, whereupon I accelerated to get out of the way. As luck would have it, that turned out to be a police car. The officer stopped me and among other questions asked what we were doing in the neighborhood. I told him the purpose of our tour, to which his reply was "you don't want to live around here." In my non-suthr'n way, I asked why, and the reply was that it was a transitional neighborhood that was becoming predominantly black (expressed in words of few syllables). We were sent on our way.

I learned that the police officer's evaluation of the local demographics was true, but I always felt that it was none of his business where I chose to live. On reflection over the years the experience has revealed itself as a manifestation of post-war block busting, wherein segregation was maintained by the definition of shifting sets of neighborhoods as black or white, with collusion by the realty industry and other agencies both public and private tending to maintain a dual real estate market, with attendant higher costs for all buyers, wherein the only beneficiaries were realtors (excuse me, that's Realtor®s) and unreconstructed klan types. Baltimore turned out to be the most segregated place I've ever lived.

All this makes it sadly likely that the recent events have their roots in historical precedent. Would that it were not so; Baltimore has a lot going for it, including a mayor who seems to have her act together, and it is sad that racial baggage is holding it back.

Screw the Evidence!
- Viewpoint
I cannot confirm this, but rumor has it that the Recessive Party (R) has a legislative program, proposed by Goofy Old Preachers (GOP), that would require anthropologists at state universities to stop referring to humans and their ancestral forms as Genus Homo. This comes on the heels of FL Gov. (R) Scott requiring state employees not to refer to global warming as, yes, “global warming” on pain of censure or dismissal.

March 2015

Veterans' Appeals: How Valid?
- Viewpoint
I've just been watching a tearful appeal for help for veterans featuring the sad case du jour. It occurs to me this is a very bad way of handling the problem we've created by our recent military excursions.

I believe a much better approach would be to fund the VA fully and encourage private organizations to act more in the role of advocates than as primary caregivers. This would give our nation statistical tools for analyzing and critiquing our performance.

We have seen too many occurrences of VA misfeasance in my lifetime, albeit coupled with stories of heroic making do by other VA personnel in the context of insufficient funding, political grandstanding and adventurism that has added inexcusable numbers of unneeded casualties to the system (I give you the heroic invasion of Grenada).

There is no reason to have at the same time a VA with mixed histories and the need to go outside normal channels to receive service. Give the VA what it needs, and let private organizations concentrate on being an external "inspector general" with only the interests of all veterans in its microscope.

This is only a cursory comment, but maudlin appeals will not solve the problem. Only collective, comprehensive action will take care of the current need, and only smarter foreign policy will prevent recurrence.

December 2014

Matt Dillon Rides Again!
- Viewpoint
Lest you conclude (and/or feel OK) that only young black men get shot by police with questionable justification, consider the case of my classmate Ron Burkholder, a 1960 graduate of Temple City High School in California.

I write this now, because similar events have caused divisions among social groups and between citizens and police that can only be reconciled by open dialogue. The community depends on the police, and they depend on the community; without the other, each becomes impossible.

Ron Burkholder was a bright, slightly built kid, a member of the tennis team who finished high school early and received a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, where he earned degrees in advanced chemistry. I remember him as quiet and friendly and all one expects in the way of isolation of intellectual teens from "the in crowd." After high school our paths diverged, and I never saw him again after June 1960.

I learned much later that in August, 1977, Ron was killed with numerous gunshots by a Los Angeles police officer while running naked - and unarmed - through streets in Hollywood. According to the police officer he exhibited a threatening demeanor, which anyone who knew him would have questioned. In an autopsy he was found not to have been under the influence of any drug or of alcohol.

The LA Police Department may have hindered access to documents and witnesses in the investigation that followed, according to numerous sources (documentation is difficult after so many years). A key witness at the scene was not identified until much later, though the police officer who fired the deadly shots knew who he was.

A documentary on his 1997 death/murder is summarized as follows:

On the morning of August 4, 1977, Sgt. Kurt Barz of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division stopped his car to investigate Ron Burkholder, a naked unarmed man on a Los Angeles street corner. Within two minutes, Burkholder lay dead, shot six times.

The use of 'deadly force' is a recurring and divisive issue in communities across the nation. This powerful and provocative documentary examines police accountability for civilian fatalities by zeroing in on a case that rocked city hall, stirred national press and resulted in the re-writing of gun policy for LAPD officers.

Deadly Force follows the Burkholder killing through a coroner's inquest and investigation by the district attorney's office. It provides telling insights into the conflicting views of police officials who defend the use of deadly force in dangerous situations and Burkholder's friends and relatives who charge authorities with engineering a cover-up.
(Worth the $39, IMHO, if it is still available. The following scene is an interview with Burkholder's mother, which eerily presages the comments of more recently bereaved relatives of shooting victims.)

Comments and Chronologies

Several news articles easily discoverable on the 'net summarize the highlights but leave readers only with ambiguity.

Valley News 1977
Support asked for daughter of police victim

Friends of Ronald Burkholder said Wednesday they would file a claim against the City of Los Angeles for support payments for the recently-born daughter of Burkholder, who was shot to death by a Los Angeles police sergeant earlier this month. At a news conference. Attorney Stanley Arnold said they would file the claim within a few days, but expected it would be denied.

Such a denial would prompt the filing of a wrongful death suit against the City and the police, the attorney explained. Burkholder was nude and unarmed when he was shot by Rampart Division Police Sergeant Kurt Barz the night of Aug. 4. Arnold, representing friends of the slain biochemist, brought forth information from the coroner's autopsy which he said increased apprehension about the police version of the shooting.

According to the coroner's report, there were no traces of drugs or alcohol in Burkholder's body when he was shot. The police have stated that Burkholder assumed a martal arts stand and "lunged" at Sgt. Bartz. But Arnold said there was no evidence the man ever had been trained in the martial arts. The attorney further noted that Burkholder was "deeply into far eastern philosophy." As part of that philosophy, the inventor and John's Hopkins University graduate was known to hold a pose, "a way of holding his hands," that meant peace and protection, Arnold said.

This, the attorney stated, could account for the martial arts conclusion by authorities. Arnold said the claim would be filed on behalf of Burkholder's common-law wife, Maria Herbst. and their daughter, Isis Sari Burkholder.

Valley News 22 Nov 1977, Tue » Page 1

Mother of slain chemist sues city

Biochemist Ronald Burkholder's mother Monday filed a wrongful death suit against the city (Los Angeles) in connection with the shooting death of her son by police last August 4. Joyce Burkholder of San Clemente sought an unspecified amount of damages from the city. the police department and Sgt Kurt Barz who has admitted shooting Burkholder six times. The suit is the second filed in less than two weeks against the city stemming from the controversial shooting in which Burkhoider died, though nude and unarmed, on a Los Angeies street.

Valley News Thursday, November 24, 1977

Board supports coroner in row over subpoenas

A majority of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appears to support County Coroner Thomas Noguchi in an effort to expand his powers of subpoena. Noguchi was told Tuesday by Superior Court Judge Edward A. Hinz Jr, that his powers of subpoena only applied to persons. The judge ruled that state statutes did not permit a coroner to subpoena documents.

After the ruling, the coroner announced that he would seek legislation to extend his authority. "We cannot adequately investigate police shooting incidents without access to police documents," he said.

On Wednesday, three county supervisors expressed support for Noguchi's position. "If state legislation is weak, I would support a change," said Supervisor Kenneth Hahn. "Without the power to subpoena documents, the coroner's office is weak, and the public is not fully protected." Hahn said, "The coroner must have all the facts concerning any aspect of a death of a human being. If he needs documents from a hospital, a drug store, a police department or a prison, he should be able to get them."
(Fast forward to Ferguson, MO, 2014, anyone?)

The superior court ruling was a victory for the Los Angeles Police Department, which had refused to provide subpoenaed records of its internal affairs department investigation of the Aug 4 shooting of a naked unarmed man by an LAPD sergeant.

Supervisor James Hayes concurred with Hahn's view, saying, "It seems to me the coroner is kind of hamstrung without having the ability to subpoena police department records. I'm inclined to support any attempt by the coroner to expand his subpoena powers to include documents."

'Burkholder witness' talks

The newly-found eyewitness to the lolling of Ronald Burkholder spoke with the policeman who shot the nude and unarmed biochemist following the shooting, District Attorney John K. van De Kamp disclosed Wednesday. Sgt. Kurt Barz mentioned the existence of the witness in his shooting report. Van de Kamp continued, but the officer didn't identify the man. (Not that a policeman would ever suppress the existence of a possible contradictory witness.)

Van de Kamp Monday told reporters his investigators had located a "third-party, independent" witness to the Aug. 4 shooting of Burkholder, 35, Barz contends he opened fire on Burkholder after the man twice took his nightstick and then charged him in a martial-arts-like stance.

Until van de Kamp's announcement, it was believed Barz was the only living witness to the shooting, which has become something of a cause celebre in Los Angeles.

The witness. Van de Kamp told reporters Wednesday, saw "most everything that transpired," including the shooting and had talked with Barz afterwards. The unidentified witness was driving through the area when Burkholder came up and pounded his fists on his car, Van de Kamp explained. This, the district attorney continued occurred before Burkholder was shot six times by Barz.

A spokesman for Supervisor Pete Schabarum said Scahabarum "wants the coroner to have the power he needs to do his job. If he needs documents as part of an inquest proceeding to determine the cause of death, he should be able to get them." He added, "There should be controls, though, over what areas the inquest should cover. It should determine the cause of death, not guilt or innocence."

Supervisor Ed Edelman was not available for comment. Supervisor Baxter Ward, currently on vacation, is chairman m charge of the coroner's department. While he was unavailable for comment, one member of his staff predicted that Ward would support the coroner's position. "He advocates a policy of making records public as much as possible," the staff member said. The coroner's subpoena powers are currently established by a state statute passed in 1975. The original bill, sponsored by the county and introduced by Assemblyman Joe Montoya, D-El Monte, included all records and documents, but the Assembly Judiciary Committee amended it to include only records from a doctor or a medical facility relating to a victim's mental or physical condition. Noguchi said he will make a formal request for a change in the current law, and for board support, when he testifies Dec. 7 at a hearing on police shootings called by Supervisor Edelman. Edelman called the hearing because he said current procedures for investigating police shootings of citizens were "inadequate."

We cannot help but notice the LA Times is not a source of much information, nor is the old Temple City Times. One is left to wonder about the independence of those news organs from political influence.

Mike Davis described the event as follows in an LA Weekly article "Six Remarkable Ways to Die."

#5. Challenge the LAPD to a nude wrestling contest. Over the years, the LAPD has killed several nude people. The most notorious case was the shooting of Echo Park resident Ron Burkholder in August 1977. Ramparts Division officers encountered the naked, unarmed and clearly hallucinating chemist raving on a street corner one morning. After a brief scuffle, Sergeant Kurt Barz ended Burkholder’s PCP trip with six bullets. As usual, the department ruled the shooting "justified." (Source) (Note that the official coroner's report showed no alcohol or drugs in Burkholder's remains.)

Dave Lindorff, writing in the website Counterpunch, reports "

I remember covering a coroner’s inquest in Los Angeles back in 1978 involving the 1977 killing of a small, naked and unarmed man by a hulking LAPD sergeant. The victim, Ron Burkholder, a biochemist who had apparently accidentally burned himself badly one night while trying to make PCP in his basement for personal use. In pain, he had torn off his burning clothes and had then run out onto the street. His erratic behavior led Sgt. Kurt Barz, who was passing in a patrol car, to stop and investigate. Barz testified that he felt threatened when Burkholder (clearly seeking help) ran towards him, and he unloaded his pistol into the approaching “threat,” killing Burkholder instantly with six shots.

The LAPD, in an internal affairs investigation, quickly found the killing “justifiable,” and though the inquest later reached the conclusion of wrongful death, there was no prosecution of Barz, though clearly the scrawny Burkholder posed no conceivable threat to him, and being naked, clearly had no weapon."


So, in 1977 Ron Burkholder; earlier this year (2014) police shot a mentally challenged hiker near Albuquerque who would not obey police commands after they determined he was camping illegally; this week a 12-year-old with a toy gun in Michigan was killed only two seconds after police encountered him; this summer Michael Brown died in Missouri after a minor crime and failure to obey a policeman who suspected him of a shoplifting offense; following Erik Garner in New York after failure to obey a policeman while selling two cigarettes on a sidewalk; video shows him either resisting or submitting to arrest (your call). And so on so many, many times when no real threat to police existed but a denial of their authority was clear. In every one of these cases, time was not of the essence. Are you seeing a pattern here?

In any of these cases would backing down and de-escalating the confrontation have hindered the exercise of normal police power. It's not just about racial identify, though that has recently confused the issue. Police simply MUST be better trained and more accountable, given that we have imbued them with the right to carry deadly weapons and use deadly force - against any of us.

When 1950s TV hero marshal Matt Dillon outdrew the 1880s bad guy, that guy always had his own gun and was unambiguously about to shoot good ol' Matt; he was not slow witted, unhinged, weak, young, old, fat or ooooh, scary, of a different race. After 125 years, might we not start talking to one another and not shooting first?

“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion.” - Robert Burns

November 2014

Keystone Pipeline delay nearly meaningless in US, global energy market
- Viewpoint
Delay in approving the Keystone Pipeline is causing a lot of smoke and heat but casting little light. Republican wet dreams of garbage out, cash in notwithstanding, there is precious little reason for haste in completing the questionable project.

"While Keystone was delayed, other projects increased the flow of crude south. Average U.S. imports of Canadian crude rose to a record 3 million barrels a day in August, a 48 percent increase from five years earlier, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data," as reported in Bloomberg News. That increase is about 1.3 times the amount of oil that would flow in Keystone.

The only people affected negatively so far are investors in Trans-Canada Corp., owners of the pipeline project. My take is that US citizens owe them no favors and should not anoint them as big winners in the world energy market.

As to the tar sands, like the Arctic these are fragile ecosystems whose energy content is not currently needed. It would be much smarter to experiment with small systems to improve technology in anticipation of future need in decades or centuries to come than to rush to extract the resources using current clumsy and destructive methods. All fossil fuels will eventually be consumed, but even if you believe (moronically) that there is no pollution problem, it's pretty hard to make a case that haste will not make waste.

McConnell's trembling lip pushes another lie
- Viewpoint
Mitch McConnell wasted no time after the recent election toadying to his masters in the fuel industry. Claiming that the new atmospheric accord with China would bring the apocalypse to Kentucky, McConnell made it clear he would oppose the climate deal. Here's Bloomberg News' analysis of the matter, which is just a bit to the contrary.

Bloomberg's View

Genealogy Reality Check
- Genealogy
While scanning a document regarding the death of my great-great-great-grandmother in Scotland my eye fell two lines below to the following entry from 17 December 1852. One must conclude that the characters of Charles Dickens were indeed the lucky ones.

More about great-great-grandfather John Clark
- Genealogy
I've recently returned from a trip to Scotland. Since my previous John Clark entry I'd learned that John C's father, also John Clark, married Margaret Gray after 1800 and she presented him in Selkirk with our North American progenitor in 1805 according to my cousin Clark Salisbury or 1806 according to the tombstone carver in Canada (the same folks who once burnt Washington DC).

The elder Clarks were by the first Scottish census in 1841 living in Yair, a few miles from Selkirk, being then 75 and 70 years of age. They did not appear the 1851 census, but since returning home I have found a death entry for Margaret from 12 December 1852. Perhaps the jurisdictions changed; perhaps widows did not rate their own census entries. "Relect" means survivor. Click the image for a more legible view.

The accompany image shows the relevant lines from the local records. (Imagine my hand trembling as I violate the sacred crown copyright, though frankly they owe me for the time I wasted in Edinburgh while they tried to reboot their network on 24 October.) Another document I just retrieved from Scotland's People shows their 1841 residence in Yair. This is all more than a little fun; stay tuned!

September 2014

The Muffin Man
- Viewpoint

Eight more
- Viewpoint
A Florida grandfather killed his daughter and six grandchildren before turning the gun on himself, the Gilchrist County sheriff said Thursday evening.

Later, at a second news conference, (police) released the victims’ names. They were, according to the Associated Press: Sarah, 28; Kaleb, 11; Kylie, 9; Johnathon, 8; Destiny, 5; Brandon, 4; and Alanna, who was born in June.

NRA officials are expected to assert that if Alanna had only had an AR-15 in her crib, she’d be alive today.

Declaration of Inconsequence
- Viewpoint
To paraphrase the Declaration of Independence: All fundamentalists are created equal. ISIS and Christian fundamentalists can agree on something: Charles Darwin is bad. In Mosul, Iraql, the militants have explicitly banned teaching the theory of evolution in new school curriculums, despite the fact that it wasn't taught in Iraq previously. The terrorists have also cut history, literature, art, music and Christianity classes from schools. Many parents have been keeping their children out of class as a form of resistance to the new academic programs. (Daily Beast 9/17/14)

August 2014

Every child needs an Uzi!
- Viewpoint
An obvious candidate for the Darwin Award is the shooting instructor who gave an Uzi submachine gun to a nine-year-old girl.

Honorable mention to this poor girl's parents, who will spend the rest of their lives trying to assuage her guilt. It seems a prima facie case of abnegation of parental responsibility, for which I suggest the punishment of a period of time picking up brass during the facility's operating hours.

Additional honorable mention to the State of Arizona. CA friends, alternatives if you must go east are US50 and I-15/80.

CNN photo. The network keeps referring to this as a tragic shooting. It was in fact a stupid shooting. It is clear from the video that the girl can hardly hold the weapon, shooting or not.

Darwin Awards

Support urged for legal counsel for undocumented child migrants
- Viewpoint
According to an editorial in the LA Times, Gov. Jerry Brown is right to offer legal help to immigrant minors. Read on...


Gov. Jerry Brown, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and a roster of other elected state officials want to spend $3 million on legal help for unaccompanied minors facing federal immigration court hearings in California. It's a good humanitarian impulse, and a practical one. This page has called for the federal government to ensure that all children facing deportation alone have a legal advisor to look out for their interests.

But who should pay for that? Though using state money to address a federal problem gives us pause, the children's needs outweigh questions about which tax dollars should be used. In addition, confusion about overlapping state and federal responsibilities for the children is creating delays. In the spirit of pragmatism, we support this effort.

Beginning in 2011, an increase in gang and drug-trafficking violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador prompted an exodus of children. Most headed for relatives already in the U.S. (legally or illegally), lured in part by rumors that once they got here the government would let them stay. From October 2013 through the end of July, Border Patrol agents detained nearly 63,000 unaccompanied minors, double the number stopped during the same period the previous year. The recent surge has abated, but it could well resume once the summer heat breaks.

Though using state money to address a federal problem gives us pause, the children's needs outweigh questions about which tax dollars should be used.

Under federal law, Border Patrol agents must turn over unaccompanied minors to the Department of Health and Human Services until an immigration judge determines whether they have a right to remain in the country. But they aren't entitled to a lawyer, which has left young people to argue alone in court that they meet the legal criteria for being allowed to stay, such as abandonment or being the victim of trafficking.

In some cases, a minor can qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, but only if a state court judge has declared the child a dependent of the court and found that deportation would be contrary to the child's best interest. That need for certification by a state judge in an otherwise federal matter has further muddied the attempt to treat these children fairly. Under Brown's proposal, those roles would be clarified, and children who appear in state proceedings would have a lawyer.

It's not a large number of minors who need legal help. As of the end of July, the federal Office of Refugee Settlement had placed 3,909 unaccompanied minors with California sponsors. The proposal does not create a new bureaucracy; the money would go to existing nonprofit legal assistance programs. And the proposal does not commandeer federal immigration law; it merely attempts to help children in California understand their rights within that law.

LA Times Comment on CA Atty. General
- Viewpoint
"State Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris' decision to appeal a federal district court ruling that found the death penalty in California unconstitutional is a welcome example of putting professional responsibility over personal politics: Harris opposes the death penalty and now will be defending it before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. We commend her professionalism and hope she loses." Well said.

Read More

July 2014

Shop at Michael's
- Viewpoint
First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." What shall we call the Supreme Court setting the religious opinion of an employer above the religious opinion (or lack thereof) of the employee? Suggestion: A nail in the coffin of the separation of church and state.

June 2014

Oh, fudge!
- In the news...
TWO-MINUTE MICROWAVE FUDGE, delicious, according to Janet S!

1 lb powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Sift powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt into a 1 quart microwave safe bowl.
Stir in milk and vanilla.
Mix well.
Place butter on top.
Microwave on high, 2 minutes.
Beat with wooden spoon until smooth.
Stir in nuts (OPTIONAL).
Spread in 8 X 8 X 2 inch baking pan.
Chill about 1 hour or until firm.
Cut into pieces.

Order this!
- Viewpoint
Comparison disfavors GOP claims.


May 2014

Bounce the Ball!
- Viewpoint
Oh, joy! The Seattle Clippers. My fearless prediction: Steve Baldy will try to soak regional taxpayers for a new stadium.

After we were financially raped by his buddy Paul Allen for the Seahawks scam and before that the Mariners mansion, I suspect Steve will have a tough row to hoe. I propose a gang of sworn ninja graffiti artists to avenge another outrageous sports giveaway that occurs.

We don't need it; it won't create useful jobs or build schools or a single mile of highway. The only upside if public financing sneaks in will the option to call any stadium The Clip Joint.

Washington state's public art rule
- Viewpoint
We have a statewide rule that one percent of all public works budgets be used for art and beautification. The "eye of the beholder" issue can be left aside for the moment.

One down side to the public art rule is that WA applies it even in buildings that are never visited by the public. According to numerous reports we have some of the most beautiful underground hallways and bridge abutments in America.

Perhaps it is time to apply the rule to the whole state contraction budget instead of to every project, perhaps with individual projects to have a smaller minimum, with credit for -- you'll pardon the expression -- "intelligent design" in public spaces, with the increased balance going to truly public places, especially schools.

Albuquerque Police: Do not shoot me, please
- Viewpoint
It appears that Albuquerque, NM, has become a death trap. One must assume based on recent performance that the Albuquerque police shoot first and ask questions only if someone forces them to. The police are now under investigation and injunctions from the federal government due to multiple deaths and injuries related to relatively minor infractions, including some that have been caught on video. At least one person with mental illness has been shot down — in the back — for the apparent crime of not acting fast enough to obey an order from a police office who was too far away to be in danger. (Search the Web for “albuquerque police” to see the video if you must.

We don’t have to put up with trigger happy police any more than with trigger happy Zimmermans.

Shoot Back

The solution is to deprive the city of money with which to fund this criminal behavior. So here are some easy actions you can take to increase the pressure on the municipality.

  • Buy NOTHING in or from Albuquerque. Google the following and buy nothing from them:

    • major manufacturing firms
    • major retail establishments with headquarters in Albuquerque.
    • largest retail stores.

  • Write to the city.
  • Write to the state legislature.
  • Identify research grants to companies and universities in the city and demand offending police & officials be terminated.
  • Etc. We welcome your suggestions on applying the required pressure on all the killers and their supervisors, advocates and apologists.


Take away the money, and things will change. The city of Albuquerque is in Bernalillo County; the county is much larger than the central city. Access to the city is principally along Interstate 25 from the north and south and along Interstate 40 from east to west. This access is bounded on the interstates and other highways. If you use the following exits you can largely avoid spending any money in Albuquerque.

  • I-40 Eastbound from AZ or Gallup, NM. Exit at Atrisco Vista Blvd. Services are available along Central Ave., old US 66 west of the city limits.
  • I-40 Westbound from TX. Exit at Tijeras, NM Hyw 337. Services are available along old US 66 east of the city limits.
  • I-25 Southbound from CO or Santa Fe. Exit at Tramway Rd., NM 556. Services are available along Tramway Blvd. east and west of the freeway.
  • I-25 Northbound from El Paso, Las Cruces, Socorro.

      Option 1: Exit at Service Road 61, NM 317. Services are available.
      Option 2: Exit at Broadway Blvd SE, NM 47. Turn RIGHT; left takes you into the city. Services are available as you proceed southward on Broadway/47.
    • Option 2: Exit at Bernalillo, North Valley. East, try Tijeras and Route 66. South, explore Socorro and Las Cruces with their 500 year old Spanish and Mexican culture, and in the west enjoy the western charm of Gallup.
    • Flight Plan: Flight is apparently not a good plan in Albuquerque, as the police will shoot you in the back. Oh, did you mean flight as in air travel? Unfortunately the airport is within the city limits, but you don’t need to buy much. Just have a coffee and danish and avoid the big restaurants with their big meals and big prices.

April 2014

RE cost of medical care: Don't forget inflation
- Viewpoint
A participant in a site I watch recently noted how little ($257) a physician charged his parents for his hospital delivery in 1957. The original comparison came with a transparent, negative reference to the Affordable Care Act. I did some homework, and found that the purchasing power of one 1957 dollar equates approximately to 14 cents now according to a couple of sites consulted. That $257 delivery in constant dollars equates to about $1,843 today.

That is still a bargain, of course. In today's reality, and estimate average physician fees for delivery and normal post-op care at $4,000 to $4,500, or just over double what the parents paid -- again in constant dollars.

On the other hand, the physician in 1957 had scalpels, forceps and gauze, while modern techniques and the modern delivery room, with ultrasound, etc., have reduced deaths for mothers and newborns considerably. In 1957 a mother had a 0.4% risk of death during or soon after childbirth; today that risk is only about 0.2%.

It's pretty easy to show that in this case the benefit change is roughly the same as the reciprocal of the cost change. There is no easy way to calculate what health care "should cost." Cheap shots at the ACA don't help.

The real scandal is that our US maternal mortality rate is worse than Albania and about three times that of the average country of the European Union. Much of that is attributable to poverty -- maternal deaths are much more likely as wealth declines -- that is what the ACA is intended to address.

November 2013

- Viewpoint
Lise Kelake, or phon. Lee-suh, Kuh-law-kuh. Phonetic Chinese courtesy of Google. Phonetic re-transliteration in the other direction comes out Rhys Clark, the Welsh and Scottish parts of my name. Interesting.

October 2013

Sparks Fly in Sparks NV
- Viewpoint
Some off the cuff thoughts on today's latest schoolyard shooting.


Shooter goes to juvenile custody pending criminal action.

Parent (family's choice which) goes to jail pending criminal action. Parent is subject to further penalty.

Shooter > (14?) is prosecuted as adult; in case of death life imprisonment with possibility of parole after 20 years is minimum sentence; redemption is only possible in context of imprisonment.

"Imprisonment" may be defined as community control ONLY IF state has well established supervisory procedures including remote monitoring and period visitation.

Governor of state bears penalties for repeat offenses by released offender, including immediate removal from office and ABSOLUTE liability to victims.

Parent is penalized to same extent as minor.

All weapons are seized and removed from the offender's home; not just firearms, but ALL weapons, not to include trivial potential weapons such as kitchen utensils, etc., that are necessary for normal life.

All adults in family and all minors > 14 are put on no-firearms-purchase lists FOREVER.

Parental civil liability is ABSOLUTE. Victims may sue with prejudice for physical and medical damages. The state shall enforce all judgments with immediate effect.

Financial support of offenders, including contributions to legal defense, shall make the contributor, whether person or corporation, liable for all penalties imposed on the offender or the parent. Any penalty so imposed on a corporation shall be borne by the chief executive officer of such corporation, with immediate effect. Laws don't kill CEOs, people just take everything they own.

(Amended 12/24/13.)

Buicks, not quite dinosaurs, but...
- Viewpoint
I'm betting Sarah Palin's descendants will think this is a documentary.

Check it out!

John Clark of Scotland, Ontario
- Viewpoint
Fun with genealogy. My great-great-grandfather John Clark, a Scottish-Canadian tailor, progenitor of a line of haberdashers in Ontario, New York, Wisconsin and Washington. Oldest son founded Jenkins & Clark work clothes, later Oshkosh B'gosh. Looking up ancestors named "John Clark" from Scotland is an exercise in patience; other sources show him coming from Aberdeenshire, not Selkirk. Watch this space!

Update 9Nov2014: I've just returned from Scotland where I visited Selkirk. See the linked entry below.

September 2013

Andy Clark in India for Limelight Networks
- In the news...
In the following video, Andy Clark describes the growing presence of Limelight Networks in India.

View at original source

May 2013

A lesson on public finance
- Viewpoint
Moore OK will now no doubt emergency funding from that horrible old federal government to rebuild its schools hastily after a weather event. My guess is that Oklahoma will hypocritically accept the money despite its voters' "philosophical" objections to public financing.

In California, hundreds of schools - including the beautiful Moorish-style Longden elementary I once attended - were demolished and replaced at considerable expense about FIFTY YEARS AGO when they were deemed unsafe in potential earthquakes that are rare.

My guess is that such orderly replacement will never happen in Teapartyworld where lower taxes are the only mantra. The cost instead: Dead children, saving mere pennies per person per year in tornado country where storms are frequent.

The orderly CA replacement program has been paid off for years. No child has to my knowledge been killed in a school collapse there.

When it is so easy to do things right; why can we not learn our lessons?

(Amended 12/24/13.)

Sen. Vitter, A question
- Viewpoint
I note that Sen. David Vitter (R, LA) has submitted 600 questions to EPA administrator designate Gina McCarthy among over 1,000 submitted by his Repulian colleagues*. Of course, it is an obvious ploy to sidetrack, delay or block her confirmation, adopted because she is clearly qualified and he hasn't a substantive leg to stand on.

Perhaps he could answer this environmental question, submitted by a reader: "If a Louisiana senator ejaculates into a New Orleans hooker and she flushes the semen or a condom containing it, does it significantly diminish water quality in the lower Mississippi?"

April 2013

Boston: The leader and the follower
- Viewpoint

Wanted by FBI. These guys may or may not be the Boston bombers, but the BPD and FBI seem pretty anxious to scoop them up. This all conjures up memories of 1970 or so and the Wisconsin lab bombings. Note the leader and the follower. The follower, aka the Pipsqueak, is highly reminiscent of the little nebbish named F... who served a whopping three years for murder after the WI bombing. My guess is it will not go so well with young Mr. Follower when he's found.

Update: As everyone knows, it's now one down one to go. More victims of social alienation all around. The 'net continues to fascinate.

No. Korean Bellicosity Increases
- Viewpoint
North Korean President Kim Young'un has increased naval activity in the Sea of Japan.

Pictured is a new light cruiser equipped with a harpoon the NK navy has designed for puncturing the mainsail of carriers and other US ships of the line.

UPDATE: Experts now disagree on the nature of the equipment carried by the crew. Some have suggested that instead of a harpoon, the object in the bow is a large writing implement for writing threatening graffiti on the hulls of American ships.

Warm, but dangerous
- Viewpoint
I just purchased and installed a new water heater, a Whirlpool model ES40R92-45D. I bought it at Lowe's. Seems to work, however, I recommend that you not buy one unless you are prepared to proceed very, very carefully.

Amazingly, the instructions call for the installer, after connecting the plumbing, to turn on the power and then connect the wiring to the house power.

Here's what I sent to the manufacturer after reading the instructions with a more critical eye than I suspect most buyers do. (I've made minor corrections for posting here.)


Your instruction sheet numbered 321483-000 dated 5/11 contains an easily misinterpreted instruction that in my opinion could result in injury or death to the user.

Instruction #5 on the inside contains the following: "...let the 'hot' water run full for three minutes to ensure the tank is completely full before you close the hot water faucet..."

(at this point, according to previous instructions, the electricity is off and the appliance is disconnected, and bare wires are protruding from the top of the appliance!)

...and turn the electricity on."


If the user proceeds with instruction #6 immediately after #5, he/she will be working bare handed with live wires (as shown in the middle graphic of #6). Upon attempting to unify the black wires as instructed in item 3 of #6, the circuit will close - through the body of the user to ground - and Good night, ladies!

I know you probably did not intend this, but, dear copy editor, you must consider that everyone is not as gifted as you.

Gun Talk
- Viewpoint
The controversy over background checks and magazine sizes has nothing to do with the Second Amendment and everything to do with the profits of arms manufacturers. Don't be fooled by the NRA, which uses irrational fears of "ooooh, big government" to persuade the great unwashed that some one is coming after their guns. Yeah. And they're coming in black helicopters, led by the Devil himself. OOOOOOH!

January 2013

- Guests/Demo

Great Quotes
- Mailbag
From TC's Tara Worthington, some words to live by, probably with a smile:

Sometimes, when I look at my children, I say to myself, 'Lillian, you should have remained a virgin..'
- Lillian Carter (mother of Jimmy Carter)

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: - 'No good in a bed, but fine against a wall.'
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week, I stated this woman was the ugliest woman I had ever seen. I have since been visited by her sister, and now wish to withdraw that statement..
- Mark Twain

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible
- George Burns

Santa Claus has the right idea: Visit people only once a year.
- Victor Borge

Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
- Mark Twain

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
- Socrates

I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury.
- Groucho Marx

My wife has a slight impediment in her speech. Every now and then she stops to breathe.
- Jimmy Durante

I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back.
- Zsa Zsa Gabor

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.
- Alex Levine

My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying.
- Rodney Dangerfield

Money can't buy you happiness ..... But it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.
- Spike Milligan

Until I was thirteen, I thought my name was SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN .
- Joe Namath

I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap.
- Bob Hope

I never drink water because of the disgusting things that fish do in it..
- W. C. Fields

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
- Will Rogers

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you.
- Winston Churchill

Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty .. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out..
- Phyllis Diller

By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere.
- Billy Crystal

And the cardiologist’s diet: - If it tastes good spit it out

Shoot at this
- Viewpoint
The US Constitution does not create a right to carry any weapon, anywhere, any time. It creates a right to keep and to bear, under defined circumstances. The Second Amendment speaks only to possession. Nothing in the Constitution gives anyone the right to sell, transfer or indeed discharge firearms (e.g., you cannot fire away in a public park).

The Second Amendment is not the only element of the Constitution and broader legal structure bearing on the issue of firearms. There are already strong anti-gun regulations across the country: Most states impose greater penalties for crimes committed at the point of a gun. All these are defensible under public safety laws of the states and/or under the purposes defined in the Preamble.

Section Eight of Article I gives Congress the power to regulate interstate (and as increasingly held, other) commerce. There is thus something of a conflict between Article One of the original and the Second Amendment here. Regulation of sales and interstate transfer of firearms does not necessarily impede "keeping" or "bearing" arms one already has, but it can surely regulate how, when, where and whether one can buy or sell them.

The idea that the framers, or any framers, would have considered it a good idea that nut cases and ill-educated rubes should have machine guns is ridiculous. As to overthrouwing tyranny, no state would create the means of its own destruction. In any event, NONE of the self-appointed or would-be political heroes of recent years, Oswald, Sirhan, Ray, McVeigh, Nidal... attacked military installations; instead they all murdered children and other unarmed persons. If you want to overthrow the US, have the courage to go attack Fort Sill; otherwise, shut up.

No one except a narrow fringe advocates banning all firearms, least of all myself. Personally, I'd estimate it's equal to a tiny fraction of the number who want to carry machine guns to the high school dance. It's not about politics (partisan or other), traditions or safety. Better to help create reasonable, generally accepted, common sense regulations - principally on sales and transfers - than to block all regulation and await the date on which seizure becomes the only remaining viable solution to increasing violence and destructive power.

Recall the scene in "To Kill a Mockingbird" in which Atticus Finch shoots a rabid dog and then goes on, hardly breaking stride, to challenge old-style Southern racism. There is no inevitable connection or causation between liberalism or conservatism. Whichever way you think I lean or I think you lean, we have a sacred duty to have one another's interests and aspirations in mind and not to impose our views mechanistically on others.

As the philosopher Joan Rivers might ask, "can we talk?"

Some peacock pix for Robin
- Viewpoint
Dear Robin,

Many people consider the peacock to be the world's most beautiful bird. Certainly the peacocks think they are; they spend most of their lives showing off their feathers.

When I was a child at the LA County Arboretum near my home, they were the first thing I wanted to see on each visit. Those happy if overfed specimens could barely fly to the lower branches of the trees and occasionally into the neighbors' yards (where their calls made them very unpopular). Only the males have this spectacular plumage.

Follow the link to some rare pictures of male peacocks in full flight, plus one of their drab girlfriends.

PS: Apropos some recent postings, don't share this with Wayne la Pierre. It would not be good for peacocks.

More peacocks

December 2012

Shoot this, Wayne
- Viewpoint
How about a whole new line item for the US budget? Can you say $60 BILLION if Wayne la Pierre gets all his armed guards?

Instant Analysis

- Viewpoint
Re the squares, by inspection only, there are at least 40 squares with some overlaps:
yellow 1 (entire diagram);
lavender 8 (smallest);
pink 18 (16 plus the two surrounding lavender);
green 4 (four corners);
orange 5 (one centered on each side plus one exactly central);
blue outline 3x3 from each corner of diagram 4;
total 40

Another method:
take smallest square (lavender) as size 1; n=8;
double that = size 2: 4x4=16 plus the two containing size 1 totaling n=18;
double that = size 3: four corners plus one centered each side plus one truly centered todaling n=9;
double that = the whole diagram: n=1;
add 3x3 in each corner, n=4;
8+18+9+1+4 = 40.

There may be more. My guess is there's a formula here. Where are the math nerds when we really need them?

So, how did you waste time this Sunday?

- Viewpoint
Someone please do the research, and let me know the last time anyone murdered 26 people within 30 minutes without using a gun.

November 2012

Taxes are Cheap!
- Viewpoint
Basic arithmetic. If the tax rate on persons earning over $250,000 goes up from about 36% to about 40% (a rise of 4%). If you earn $250,001, your additional tax will be four cents. If you earn $300,000 next year, your additional tax will be $2,000. Divided back by the $300,000 the effective marginal tax rate (the added amount divided by income) will be 0.0067% (less than one percent).

If someone will kindly explain to me how that four cents or that $2,000 will create any jobs, I'm listening.

Assuming a family wage of $40,000 plus 30% fringe (typical middle income corporate-industrial wages), each $52,000 job will require 13 low-end "job creators" to fund. A taxpayer earning $1 million would pay the marginal rate on $750,000, still not enough to create the first job. The required income level to be a real "job creator" would be $1.3 million.

Suppose we cut the marginal rate in half for those "job creators" who actually create a job. Just send in the proof with your corporate income tax filing and get a direct tax credit, let's say up to a limit of 100 full wage jobs (typically for an official "small business"). That would directly benefit the newly rich and the newly employed.

Finally, we could raise taxes on those "job creators" who create no jobs to make up the difference. As to the useless, privileged great-grandchildren of successful 19th and 20th Century entrepreneurs, or their nameless lawyers and accountants, screw 'em. To paraphrase the Pilgrims' Capt. John Smith, "those who don't work (shouldn't) eat."

October 2012

From the left?
- Viewpoint
Just been accused of being a "left winger" by Facebook contacts who don't like my recent comments about Myth Romney being an empty suit.

Frankly, laughable. There is no American left of note; no one is calling for the nationalization of anything, we all saw the horrors of communism, and historically the "left" has never had much purchase in our society. But in this post-Bush world...

  • Does it embarrass me that our former president and vice-president cannot travel outside the USA without fear of being arrested for war crimes à la Augusto Pinochet? Yup.
  • Am I happy when communicating with friends and relations around the world that we are no longer a laughing stock or an object of disdain? Yup.
  • Is it easier to explain to my grandson who we are? Yup.
  • Did the same people who so vigorously defend Myth Romney send me the racist witch doctor cartoons four years ago? Yup.
  • Are all who answer "yes" to Cain's existential question "left wingers?" I would answer "nope," but if it's not so, then amen, so be it, and may I be worthy of the label.

Myth: The Businessman
- Viewpoint
Calling Myth Romney a "businessman" is like calling "flip this house" shows part of the homebuilding industry. It's merely about leveraging the real work of other people.

The oft-cited Staples outcome, merely reflects the shift of those who formerly sold office equipment and supplies out of home-grown storefronts, who are either displaced entirely or forced to seek work at lower wages, sometimes at the same Staples and other megastore competitors like Wmart that have eviscerated downtowns across America.

Go ahead; find the downtown Staples; you cannot, because they're all just beyond the city or county line next to the interstate where they can avoid property taxes for local maintenance and improvement.

Jonathan Tasini, writing in the LA Times:

Even if he's telling the truth by some measures, the fact is that private equity buyouts often enrich those who arrange them by sharp cost-cutting, including dismantling pay and benefits for most of the workers who remain or new hires who join the more "efficient" enterprise. It's simple math: To service the huge debt taken on in virtually every buyout, workers take cuts. And the new jobs aren't necessarily a path to the American dream.

Take Staples, which Romney trumpets as one of his successes. The company certainly pays some of its employees well: Staples Chairman and Chief Executive Ronald L. Sargent received a total pay package of more than $15 million in 2010. But jobs in retail — one of the fastest-growing job sectors in recent decades — tend to pay poorly, and Staples jobs don't seem to be an exception to that rule.

It's easy to see how this helps the finance industry, hard to see how it benefits local employment. Paradoxically, a vote for the "businessman" is not a vote for business.

Slippe(R)y slope: A woman's story
- Viewpoint
They denied thereapeutic abortion to prostitutes, but I was not a prostitute, so I said nothing and voted Republican.

They denied thereapeutic abortion to promiscuous women, but I was not promiscuous, so I said nothing and voted Republican.

They denied thereapeutic abortion to destitute widows, but I was not a destitute widow, so I said nothing and voted Republican.

They denied thereapeutic abortion to rape and incest victims, but I was not a victim, so I said nothing and voted Republican.

They denied thereapeutic abortion to all women, but I was not pregnant and on birth control, so I said nothing and voted Republican.

They denied birth control to all women, so I became pregnant, and although I complained, the restrictive regulations they had imposed kept me from voting.

© A.R. Clark Oct 25 2012

Equal pay and the Myth Romney myth
- Viewpoint
Darn! Now that everyone is ridiculing the idea of having a binder full of women as Myth Romney once did, I've decided to sell mine on Ebay to avoid embarrassment.

Actually the key element of that exchange was that in consideration of unequal pay, Myth could think only of women being considered for the executive suites. They are NEVER subject to the pay gap, as they've learned how to defend themselves. The unfair, discriminatory wages are paid in the parts of the building Myth and his posse never visit.

I grew up in the 1940s and '50s in a household headed by my mother and including my grandmother, who took care of me. When I was young my mother's career at our local school district was capped by her gender and no other reason. On several occasions when promotions were possible her candidacy fell short, because the men promoted over her by other men "had families to support." Even at age 10-12, I could appreciate the unfairness of that approach. All those men are dead; I don't miss them.

Age Limit for President?
- Viewpoint
At age 69 I cannot deny that I occasionally forget stuff, especially newly learned stuff, while remembering things from long ago; it's a common pattern. I am, however, still capable of remembering what I myself have said and believe.

Recently I've been hearing of a candidate for president about my age who remembers lessons learned about the world in the 1950s and 60s but cannot remember what he himself said yesterday or a month ago. I'm reminded we had a president in the 1980s who slept through cabinet meetings. That went well, leading to 30 years of increasing concentration of wealth and decline of the middle class.

Let's ask Myth Romney what he thinks. You know Myth, he's the man who thinks the Soviet Union - nonexistent for about 25 years - is the major international threat we face, while he's apparently incapable of remembering what he said previously on any issue.

Teasing aside, I have to ponder whether there might well be an upper age limit on high office.

Corrupt Pennsylvania Government Appalls
- Viewpoint
Dear Fellow Penn State Geographers,

I have been observing with dismay the current attempt by the Pennsylvania government to disenfranchise voters, probably including members of your student body.

Today I learned that the state government is still distributing false information about the voter ID requirements, asserting that picture IDs are required to vote, despite repeated judicial injunctions to the contrary. I have heard or read nothing in communications or publications from PSU or the geography department expressing the expected, appropriate outrage at this usurpation of your freedoms and rights. One might expect at least the same level of concern we all observed over the removal of the Paterno statue. I fear that complacency and the shock of the Sandusky affair has so decimated the institution's collective will that you have become incapable of any measurable response. I hope I'm wrong, but scientists must base opinions on evidence.

Registering to vote in 1970 was similarly difficult. In like manner, the county officials made it inordinately difficult to become credentialed, in a last ditch effort to keep State College from becoming the majority population center, which fight they happily lost a few years later after my departure. (If you fly from State College or have been treated in the new hospital, thank the student activists -- then aka "liberals" -- who gave you the right to vote in local elections.) In those days most of my fellow students were from outside Pennsylvania and were aghast at the corruption then rampant in the state, with patronage determining almost all services and all state jobs. They could be kept at bay only by disenfranchisement. Sound familiar?

The current state posture is reminiscent of the attitude taken by Pennsylvania and Centre County while I lived there from 1969 to 1972. The graduate stipend I was happy to have on arrival at PSU diminished in value over three years, so to feed my young family without abandoning my studies I went to apply for food stamps during my final few months on campus. The county officials made it as hard as possible to do so, throwing up numerous barriers to application and delaying the award as long as possible. They seemed unable to grasp that food stamps were bringing money into the county that would benefit the local economy as well as the family directly involved.

And now the descendants of those fearful, ignorant officials, in the persons of a greed driven legislature and governor have reasserted themselves in the image of the state's past with this new attempt to exclude those who disagree with them from exercising their right to choose people and policies that benefit the whole community and not merely the powerful.

For thirty years I have displayed my diploma in my home with pride, but now that sentiment is threatened by the very state I was honored to claim as my professional home, pride further bolstered by family connections to the state's coal mines from generations past and by the birth of one of my children in Bellefonte.

I await further review of the press to see whether the University, the department and its students sit on their hands or take action. If the former, you can expect to receive my diploma in the mail.

Rees Clark, Ph.D., 1979

April 2012

Let me just jot that down!
- Viewpoint
Robin = ロビン and Clark = クラークaccording to Mom and Dad, who assure me that someday all these strange ways of writing my name will pay off. I sure hope so, but in the short run I'd rather be outside playing.

Arizona Surpasses Sath Ca'lina, Flawda as Dumbest State
- Viewpoint
In a dramatic bid to reach the nadir of the common sense continuum, Arizona's Repaplican-dominated legislature has passed a law that so distorts the debate about abortion and contraception that it becomes theoretically possible for virgins to be pregnant. One wonders how many future religions will claim descent from their progeny. Enjoy!


The Clark Mansion
- Viewpoint
My great-great-uncle, John Judson Clark, was a successful Everett, WA, merchant who built this house in the 1890s. The extended family, including my grandfather and his parents and sister, lived there on and off during its first few years. For several decades it has been cut up into apartments. The current owner repainted it about 2005, possibly in the original Victorian style. (Click image for larger view.)

March 2012

Santorum is a know-nothing
- Viewpoint
...or at least a know-little. THERE IS NO CONSTITUTIONAL requirement that residents of a state speak English. THERE IS NO STATE that requires citizens to speak English. THERE IS NO STATE that has been required to impose such requirement to gain statehood. Period.

Given that Santorum does not apparently know anything of the Constitution and the law and history, how could anyone believe him should he take the oath of office and swear to defend it.

History repeats
- Viewpoint
They came for the women, but I was not a woman, so I voted Republican.

They came for the immigrants, but I was not an immigrant, so I voted Republican.

They came for the poor, but I was not poor, so I voted Republican.


February 2012

A modest proposal RE unwanted pregnancy
- Viewpoint
I've been pondering the implications of Virginia's current wailing and gnashing of teeth over abortion. Many female commentators have likened proposed measures to state-sanctioned rape. Others have suggested that the "anti-abortion" legislators really seek to block access to contraception. So herewith, an analogy to help men understand their objections.

Imagine if to get a prescription for Viagra or its competitors men had to do the following
  1. defer gratification pending state approval
  2. visit your physician, who would have to
    1. insert a catheter into the urethra to the prostate
    2. place a vibrator in the rectum making contact with the prostate
    3. run the vibrator until ejaculation occurs
    4. collect the seminal fluid; send to laboratory
  3. wait a week for results of a motility study
  4. wait a month for the state pharmacist to evaluate results based on subjective, non-medical criteria prescribed by the legislature
  5. swallow your Viagra
  6. enjoy your 45 seconds of peak performance
  7. look into the eyes of your beloved
  8. pretend indulgence equates to satisfaction
  9. defer gratification while you do it all again

Religious Liberty?
- Viewpoint
The recent brouhaha over making church institutions behave like any other employer in the provision of health support services is yet another red herring from the right. (Incidental thought: Do red herrings with enlarged right fins swim in circles, thus going nowhere?)

The issue for the federal government is what are the rights of INDIVIDUALS, not ORGANIZATIONS. Those who believe the employer's beliefs and preferences trump those of the individual below the law are exactly those who support the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and related union-busting activities of the far right. Institutions are no more "persons" than are businesses.

It is time for Americans to reassert that only human beings are persons and that all their institutions are merely organizational conveniences. Institutions of all kinds can be abolished at any time by action of their constituencies, without regard for eternal values, while true persons have lifelong, inalienable rights.

And for those who revere the history of religious liberty of our largest church, allow me to stop laughing before I utter the word "INQUISITION!"

TX Gov. Perry Seeks Next Gig
- Viewpoint
Here's a pic from the TX state controller's website. I'm guessing this is Gov. Rick Perry scanning the horizon for his next opportunity. Luckily he's standing on his record, which consists mainly of collecting money from interests sufficiently well off to deliver it in neat bundles.

I'll Take Two!
- Viewpoint
Need a laugh? Try this from a recent product announcement from Korean electronics manufacturer LG: LG’S NEW HX906TX CINEMA 3D SOUND HTS BOASTS TRUE 360-DEGREE SOUND

SEOUL–(Korea Newswire) Aug 29, 2011 — LG Electronics (LG) will be stirring IFA 2011 with the HX906TX, the all-new CINEMA 3D Sound HTS whose 9.1 speaker complement creates the closest thing to the audio energy of film theatres or live concerts. Thanks to the innovative latest receptive to advice configuration, the HX906TX delivers indeed 360-degree receptive to advice which envelopes viewers in audio – both horizontally as well as plumb – similar to never before.

“LG is pioneering the margin of 3D receptive to advice with the 9.1 orator complement upon the HX906TX,” pronounced Havis Kwon, President as well as CEO of LG Electronics Home Entertainment Company. “Along with the groundbreaking CINEMA 3D TV, the HX906TX sets latest standards in immersive entertainment, with the receptive to advice so abounding as well as textured, it’s tough to hold it’s not real.”

The pass underline in formulating the HX906TX’s receptive to advice is the 9.1 orator system, which adds 4 Upright 3D Speakers to the required 5.1 channels upon the home party system. With 10 speakers in sum delivering an optimized, multi-directional audio, the HX906TX creates an immersive receptive to advice which is additionally absolute sufficient to constraint the ethereal credentials sounds of bland life.

By sitting upon tip of the Tallboy orator units, the Upright 3D Speakers serve heighten the audio by pumping receptive to advice upward, ensuring which the straight space is utterly filled with sound. In addition, the 360-degree Reflector inside any of the Upright 3D Speakers reflects receptive to advice in all directions, formulating acoustics as abounding as those in the unison hall.

By requesting LG’s singular 3D outcome DSP algorithm, Sound Field Expansion technology serve expands the plane receptive to advice field, as well as functions in peace with the Upright 3D Speakers to emanate the indeed immersive, 360-degree receptive to advice experience. Sound Field Expansion extends the audio “sweet spot” so viewers regularly feel as if they have been right in the center of the sound, even when they’re collected together in incomparable groups. Moreover, the 3D Sound Analyzer analyzes formidable layers of strange sound, adding receptive to advice report to any dull space. The outcome is some-more minute as well as picturesque 3D Sound audio.

Among the form of alternative top-notch features, the HX906TX boasts 3D Blu-ray™ Playback which delivers overwhelming 3D images in full, 1,080p HD. Producing transparent 3D images with 12-bit, 4,096-step gradation, the HX906TX’s 3D Blu-ray™ Playback is the undiluted visible outcome to the immersive sound.

The HX906TX’s cubic, slim-line pattern combines the lead china hairline with the silken hardness to emanate the section which complements any vital room or lounge.

For the most appropriate in party options, the HX906TX comes with LG’s superb Smart TV functions. Premium Content provides the far-reaching form of VOD services for the total family, whilst LG Apps broach tip peculiarity lifestyle, tutorial as well as interactive applications tailor-made for TVs. And users usually need to download an app to spin their Android or iPhone smartphone in to the extensive remote carry out for the HX906TX.

Ensuring viewers will never be reduced of things to attend to or watch, the HX906TX’s Wi-Fi Direct™ enables elementary record pity but the need for the wireless hotspot. The HX906TX can additionally entrance as well as share any calm upon DLNA-certified digital inclination – such as mobile phones, tablets as well as PCs – whilst the singular HDMI tie equates to viewers can send or embrace top-quality audio interpretation around the singular HDMI cable. In addition, multi-playback lets the HX906TX await the far-reaching operation of media formats, together with MKV as well as DivX HD.

Further ramping up the preference as well as fun, Music ID by Gracenote provides coexisting report – together with artist, strain as well as manuscript titles – upon whatever the user is listening to. And an iPhone/iPod cradle lets users suffer their own personal music libraries around the HX906TX’s abounding digital sound.

January 2012

Who (health) cares?
- Viewpoint
Found this in a cross-post on my F'book account. Nice take on the Debate That Should Not Be. It stretches the meaning of irony that so many otherwise nice people have made greed and penury into Christian virtues. Keep the faith; this, too, shall pass.

I often wonder how one could miss the fact that the 18th Century European socialist writers were all Christians or Jews, decrying with their fellows in other cultures the social ills endemic at the time and throughout previous history. So-called "class war" arises only when "the respeckable people" refuse to acknowledge their obligations to their neighbors. To paraphrase Marie Antoinette, "let them take placebos!"

Each year every (R) I know roots for Cratchit, not for Scrooge, yet when it comes time to cast off their own lengthening chains, somehow they cannot make the connection.

August 2011

Science or pseudo-science: You make the call
- Viewpoint
Regarding recent events: What might be the causes? For example: Hurricane Irene: Well understood principles of atmospheric disturbances, or perturbations of the heavens by spirit beings opposed to gays in the US military?

Earthquake in Virginia: Well understood principles of Appalachian geology, or godly revulsion at rising marginal tax rates?

Tsunami in Sendai: Well understood principles of sea-floor movement and wave motion, or fairies dancing on the waves to express opposition to US population's disinclination to hate foreigners?

You make the call.

PS: Structural analysis based on related academic publications as compared to the opinions of leading Republican presidential candidates and their so-called Christian supporters.

Reflected glory
- Geography
I've always been happy to have been a graduate student at Penn State University's geography department in 1969-72. Being somewhat slow by comparison with some of my fellow students I was lucky to have been tutored by some of geography's finest. It's easy for me to identify the skills both personal and professional that I gained there. All told, one of my best way stops. My doctoral committee was headed by Ron Abler, who overcame that possible embarrassment by continuous progress through a distinguished career. The following is his biography, found at the International Geographical Union, which only scratches the surface.

"Ronald F. Abler has been active in the International Geographical Union (IGU) since 1976. He was a charter member of the IGU Study Group and the IGU Commission on the Geography of Communications and Telecommunications from 1984 to 1992. Following his 1996-2000 term as Vice President, he was elected IGU Secretary General and Treasurer in 2000 and served in that capacity through 2006, when he again became an IGU Vice President.

Abler's research has explored the ways societies have used intercommunications technologies at different times and places. He has written numerous research articles and is co-author or editor of several books, including Spatial Organization: The Geographer’s View of the World (with John Adams and Peter Gould), A Comparative Atlas of America’s Great Cities: Twenty Metropolitan Regions, and Geography’s Inner Worlds: Pervasive Themes in Contemporary American Geography (with Melvin Marcus and Judy M. Olson). From 1994-2002, Abler was Scientific Administrator for the Association of American Geographers’ innovative Global Change and Local Places project; he edited the book summarizing the project’s findings: Global Change and Local Places: Estimating, Understanding, and Reducing Greenhouse Gases (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Abler was made a Fellow of the AAAS in 1985. Among the other organizations that have recognized his contributions to geography are the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, which awarded him its Centenary Medal in 1990, the Association of American Geographers (Honors in 1995), the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers (the Victoria Medal in 1996), and the American Geographical Society which conferred on him its Samuel Finley Breese Morse Medal in 2004."

May 2011

When drunk was funny
- Viewpoint
Back in the olden days human foibles were funny. And then came MADD.

Ted Herman Remembered
- Viewpoint
I'm a former Colgate University faculty member in geography, 1975-80. My former colleague Ted Herman passed away recently at nearly 100 years of age. I had hoped to be at the memorial May 13 in Hamilton, but the demands of my business and the distance between us make that impossible.

My association with Ted Herman began at my job interview in spring of 1975. I was pleased to join the faculty, and my five years in Hamilton were good ones.

Others will praise Ted's professional accomplishments and gentle demeanor. One of my most salient memories of Ted comes from the college athletic fields. During my first two, possibly three, years on campus, we fielded a faculty team in the fall intramural soccer season. While most of the players were in their late 20s and 30s, Ted at 63-65 was our senior defensive tiger. I can still recall the faces of the students who, thinking they had encountered an easy mark in "the old man" had their expectations dashed, when Ted would retreat and retreat and then cobra-like take the ball away from them and send it back toward the opposite goal. As one whose age has now advanced to the same age range, I can only imagine still being able to do as well on the field of play.

Ted was also pleased to tease me mercilessly but with good humor when I discovered the prettiest girl I ever saw was a geography major who was at once very bright and very easy to look at and very much out of bounds. He was ever prepared with a glass of verbal cold water to fling over me.

Dinners at the Hermans' with mixtures of cooking styles and often-exotic vegetables direct from the garden were a highlight of my times with Ted and Evelyn. Their lives reflected the the trials and transcendence of their times.

Ted's ability to help one find the answers to difficult questions within oneself have over the years let me be prepared for the occasional slings and arrows and occasionally to pass those perspectives on to others.

My best wishes to attendees; thanks for letting me share from beyond the years and the miles. And to Ted, well done.

A. Rees Clark, Ph.D.

March 2011

Tokyo quake frightening, little damage for Clan Clark
- In the news...
Son Andy reports...

"I am sleeping at the airport (was headed to SFO for a meeting). About 5000 people stranded here. The lounge is open, so I have some relative comfort of two chairs put together.

All flights cancelled. No trains, no freeways, phones still down. No damage in Tokyo. Apartment is a mess.

H and R are fine. Have not been able to speak with them but a few mails get through, they are safe and sound. Apartment structure is sound.

I was in the lounge when it hit, and I would not wish that fear on anyone. It was the strongest and longest shaking I have ever felt. For a few seconds I thought things were over and the building was coming down.

I cant imagine what its like for the folks up north. I may try to go up there and help, but we will see. The difference with a tsunami is that its not like there are people trapped under buildings. They are all buried under tons of debris. Looks like a ship with 100 people on board was swept away. No word on what happened yet.

Aftershocks every 10 – 15 min. don't think I will sleep well tonight……"

September 2010

- Viewpoint
The people of South Bend, IN, must be very proud of their schools. I wonder how long it took for a visiting stranger to call them on their spelling. Given that every person at some time or another has intentionally mixed these terms as a joke, one would think any person would catch this. Ah, well, thanks, SB!

August 2010

Guess what!
- Genealogy
After 67 years there appears to be another Clark in the bloodline. The evidence is pretty solid that one Douglas Clark of North Carolina is my half-brother. We're debating which of many less than flattering terms we should apply to our father.

Doug is a retired contract administrator and naval officer.

Another voyage of discovery. Let us hope for a pleasant journey.

June 2010

Dylan Ratigan - Spelling Counts
- Viewpoint
Had to laugh. MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan's show today showed a promo in which a prop was a stack of books, one labeled "Arithmatic" (sorta like arithmetic, I guess).

When the segment actually aired, that book was missing from the stack. The theme of the segment was the low performance of US schools.

Spelling counts!

December 2009

Christmas in Yamanashi
- Genealogy
In Yamanashi one gets Xmas breakfast complete with a fruit tree. Highly recommended by RAKC. Yum!

March 2009

If I could choose any ten days...
- Geography
I recently rescued this item from another journal site after ten years. A good memory bears repeating.

Sep 27, 1999 -- When I was in the second grade in 1949-50, my two best friends at Longden School were Suzanne Holmes and Annette Blanchard. At the end of the day, I hated to get on the school bus to go home.

Suzanne and Annette and I have gone down mostly separate roads over the past few decades, but it's been my great joy to renew our friendship since a class reunion in 1990.

In August of 1998 they invited me to go canoing on the Green River in Utah, near Annette's home. Suzanne came from Southern California, and I came from Seattle. We camped out along the river for nine days, along with Rocky Mountain friends, Dion Corkins, Alene Watson and Sandy Dickinson. Pictured at right are Suzanne, Rees and Annette on the rainy first morning of the ten day excursion. Strangely, I'm the only one with white hair.

After nine days of paddling (see pix below), we were happy to let the jet boat carry us back up the Colorado to Moab. Guess what! Again a school bus.

It turns out that I was never so smart again as I was in the second grade. All things considered, I'd rather be in the canoe. Although I'm fairly sure I was invited for my ability to fling large bundles onto the bank from the canoes, I don't mind; the company made it all worthwhile -- no, wonderful. At the end of the trip, I hated to get on the school bus to go home. Plus ça change...

Here are some photos by Suzanne.

The Green River (shown here cleverly disguised as the brown river) descends through thousands of feet of sediments to its confluence with the Colorado. Our trip was about 120 miles.

We camped out each night. Two days of rain were followed by seven of sunshine.
Rees the amateur was lucky to have an experienced paddler like Dion Corkins to keep him pointed in the right direction.

The well-appointed resort-like facilities along the waterway. There were other guests: One morning I discovered within our camp the paw prints of a cat that had been drinking from a small tributary overnight. They were four inches across.

The shade was often the most beautiful part of the trip in the middle of the days. We asked Suzanne to photograph some spectacular scenery, but there wasn't any. (That's the understated humor; an understanding smile would be good right now.)

An experimental oil well drilled decades ago produced little oil, but it provided a source of mineral water that encrusts the surrounding rocks with orange, red, yellow and brown precipitates that support a variety of tiny organisms. (Here are two of the tiny organisms inspecting the others.)

A highlight of the trip was the opportunity to visit several cliff dwellings (approx. 1,000 years old).

The jetboat awaits alongside the Colorado. Hard to see in this pic, but the water one one side appears green by contrast and on the other it's red; thence the names Green and Colorado (red) rivers, one supposes.

The school bus; a metaphor for life. It comes too soon, and just in time.

The moral of the story is that if Annette Blanchard Rose ever shows you a picture she drew of a flower pot, say something nice. It may take 50 years, but there's a huge reward. (I could explain, but it's a whole other story.)

February 2009

Bobby Jindal: Not ready for prime time, or national office
- Viewpoint
Bobby Jindal's Republican response to Pres. Obama's quasi State of the Union address last night would have been totally forgettable if not for his gratuitous sop to Obama's race and a silly giveaway line about research expenditures that was emblematic of recent Republic views of science. Here's my comment from the Seattle Press.

Up yours, Bobby Jindal!

Seattle - 24 February 2009 - In his rejoinder to Pres. Barack Obama's Feb. 24 address to Congress, La. Gov. Bubba Bobby Jindal argued that the Federal budget should forego spending $140 million for "monitoring volcanoes," intoning the very words with disdain.

For the 3.5 million of us who live on and around the congealed mud flows of the largest volcanic eruptions known to North America during the last ten millennia, a few bucks for listening equipment seems like a good idea.

So, Bobby, if we're going to rebuke politicians for bad decisions, should we take the same attitude toward say, levee repairs for the 400,000 who live in a city that lies BELOW SEA LEVEL? We haven't; you shouldn't.

This is not the time to set Americans against one another for the crumbs of a shrinking pie. Let us not abandon all pretensions of generosity and shared purpose and simply have at it.

UPDATE: After searching for a calculator to confirm the arithmetic: The per capita cost of the said scandalous volcano monitoring, $0.47 (yep, 47 cents) per citizen. Not bad for the preservation of Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Hilo, Anchorage and 100 other population centers.

Keywords: Short-sighted, selfish, Republican, moron! (Our apologies to morons everywhere.)

Rees Clark, Publisher

YouTube has its benefits
- Viewpoint
Despite the welter of garbage on YouTube, it is technically a great service. May their tribe increase. Here's the littlest Clark practicing his customer service skills. He'll be managing our Tokyo office in a few years, just as soon as he's tall enough to reach the phone from the desk chair.

January 2009

Can you say 'Permelia'
- Genealogy
Today's news is from the genealogy front. I found a death record for my great-grandmother Belle Perry Clark, recorded in Everett, WA, following her death of cancer Jan. 24, 1903, at only 48 years of age. Perhaps it explains why my grandfather never spoke of her.

An interesting part of the record is the addition of a new great-great-grandmother, Permelia Woodin, Belle's mother, born in Connecticut. That removes a spelling quandary but not much more. Permelia PERRY is listed along with husband Ambrose and daughter Belle Perry in Berlin, WI, in the 1880 census and shown as 58 (my grandfather Perry Alexander Clark was born in Berlin in 1883 to Belle and Frank Alexander Clark). The Woodins or Woodens in CT in 1820 or 1830 censuses have only the name of the head of household. They are numerous enough that the presence of any daughters under 10 is not much of a clue. (The naming of other members of the household was still a couple of decades away.)

So if little Permelia Woodin b. 1822 is in your family tree, give me a shout.

Ya gotta be sad..
- In the news...
...when one of the Mousketeers leaves us. Yesterday it was Cheryl Holdridge at 67. If you are over 60 and honest, you must admit that you were once in love with each and every one of those girls at one time or another.

They aren't called The Happy Days for no reason. I wish I had a dollar for each Disney show I watched in the 50s with George, Angie, David, Alice and Mary (they know who they are).

L.A. Times Obituary

Today's vocabulary words: Jatropha, biofuel
- Viewpoint
According to CNET News' Green Tech, "Air New Zealand, along with Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell, retooled one of the four Rolls-Royce RB211 engines on a Boeing 747-400 to run on an unusually fruity blend of half Jet A1 fuel and half jatropha oil, according to Air New Zealand.

"Jatropha is a flowing succulent plant commonly grown in the semi-arid areas of India that produces seeds containing an oil which can be harvested and processed into a biofuel."

"International Air Transport Association (IATA) lists Jatropha a promising next-generation biojet fuel for the airline industry because the hardy plant can be grown in poor quality soil needing little water."

The experiment is truly impressive, and it blends the organizational capabilities of major industry with the use of an otherwise "useless" feedstock that can be grown by poorly capitalized farmers in areas now lacking commercial crops. I've been working for the past three years with a local biodiesel manufacturer whose feedstock is another waste material.

There is an important economic and political challenge in all this. Every project I've studied in this arena that has had any success has become a target of big business or other solely selfish interests, whose agenda is to own the technology or to destroy it to preserve a competing process or product.

The opportunity for mankind is to expand our energy resources in ways that allow more, not fewer, people and places to participate. We should enable the jatropha farmer and other producers of alternative crops yielding food and energy to visit our tourist attractions as we visit his, to study in our universities as we study abroad. The new fuel technologies, with lower capital requirements and greater sustainability, offer a path to more equitable distribution of the income and wealth that proceed from modern, energy-dependent economies. We should not waste this opportunity.

CNET article

Zune: Is the worst yet to come?
- In the news...
Early Wednesday, Dec. 31, a Y2K-like excursion created its own small-scale panic for some owners of Microsoft's Zune music player, leaving Hip Hoppers and other owners without their ration of trashin'.

Microsoft said that it had traced the problem to a bug “related to the way the device handles a leap year.” Apparently the Zune was expecting 2008 to have 365 days, not 366.*

Now normally we don't worry much about airy-fairy prophecy, but if the gods of Mt. Redmond could overlook this leap year, what dire events might the Zune trauma presage for the one in 2012 that's driving believers in the latest folly to wring their hands with trepidation over the forecast end of the Earth (after all the failure of one's Zune is surely almost the same thing).

Be afraid, be very afraid! The perspicacious might want to discard their Zunes now to let the aura dissipate.

* Now in actuality, the Zune cannot "expect" anything. It's a machine. The problem originated with the programmer(s) at Microsoft who are too young to understand the consequences awaiting those who ignore Leap Year. Had they grown up with a proper dose of Al Capp and Sadie Hawkins they'd have been more respectful of the date.

NYT Article and Microsoft Statement

December 2008

English: Not for the faint of heart
- Mailbag
You think English is easy? Try to explain these to a first-grader or your ESL class. Each sentence contains one word spelled the same with different pronunciation and meaning. Rules? What rules?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce .

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse refuse.

(We have a million of 'em. Sorta... )

4) Do the Polish polish their furniture?

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) A buck certainly does behave oddly when does appear.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese.

So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

English-speaking people have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which one fills in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

PS. - Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?

Let's Clear Something UP

(Or perhaps not.)

There is one two-letter word that may have more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is 'UP.'

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP ?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stoppedUP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP...

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so, is time to shut UP!

(An erstwhile correspondent sent this unattributed offering for the holidays. Then when he thought I might resent it, he resent it, OK, re-sent for you purists, but your time is coming. One can find it in infinite variation on the 'net, but always - so far - without and indication of the original author. Perhaps, like English itself, it just growed. RC)

What do I do first?
- Genealogy

Robin seems at a loss about what to "attack" first on Christmas day. Thanks to the Internet we get to chat frequently.

New England Storms May Bring Greater Democracy
- Viewpoint
A CNN headline asserts today that "Ice storms leave New England powerless" with exceptional snowfall and icy conditions. For those of us who live west of the Rockies, one can only hope that the weather will improve but the social and political symbolism will remain. They've been coasting on John Adams and Daniel Webster long enough.

'LappyToppy' - fun new project & product
- Viewpoint
I've been working with friends on a new laptop computer accessory called LappyToppy. It's a flexible plastic insert to separate the keyboard and screen when the cover is closed to prevent transfer of oil and dirt to the screen.

Buyers can upload any pictures, one for each side, to personalize the product. Advertisers can buy in bulk and can use both sides or make the personal side available as a promotional item. Lots of options.

See the link for more information.

LappyToppy Website

November 2008

Fans with thin skins
- Viewpoint
We host a website for a group of admirers of the American writer Betty MacDonald, 1908-1958 approx. MacDonald's breakout 1945 novel The Egg and I about her experience with an egg farm and a bad marriage reputedly left her with a visceral dislike of chickens. The following article, which notes the juxtaposition of that attitude and that of a certain recent candidate toward barnyard critters, was originally part of that site, but the sore losers in the group couldn't live with it's - of course wholly unintended - political message, so I've preserved it here for posterity, and perhaps the instillment of a sense of humor, perhaps by injection of stem cells.

And you thought Betty MacD hated fowl
By frankalexander - Nov 26, 2008

Betty MacDonald had nothing on AK Gov. Sarah Palin when it comes to bashing barnyard birds. At least Betty came right out and said she hated them. Ms. Palin, by contrast, asserted her benevolence by first "pardoning" one turkey and then - one assumes having lulled the others into a false sense of security - she doffed her sheep's clothing and posed next to the Exit as others met their fate, all with the same unflappable, unstoppable stream of (presumably turkey) baloney.

To those of you Americans inclined to vote for her for anything, please rethink. To others, remember the people of Alaska in your prayers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Travels to date
- Geography
Here's a map I got by clicking the names of states and countries visited. Visit the URL below to make your own. Then copy the text they give you to post your map to your site.


visited 48 states (96%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or try another Douwe Osinga project


visited 16 states (7.11%)
Create your own visited map of The World or try another Douwe Osinga project

October 2008

Finally a famous Clark
- In the news...
The accompanying photo shows a nonchalant Robin A.K. Clark apparently unaware of just who is pictured on the cover of the November issue of NHK's educational magazine, whose name I shall not attempt to translate. Popular opinion here in the Puget Sound region holds that RAKC was chosen for the cover because he's the world's best baby.

NHK is the major TV network in Japan, think the big three US networks and a bunch of cable networks rolled into one. As with most big Japanese firms they're also into other things, especially publishing.

(Click the image for a larger version, suitable as a handsome wall plaque.)

Sarah and the herd
- Viewpoint
Maureen Dowd, writing in the New York Times, points out that folksy "(Sarah) Palin, by contrast, uses a heck of a lot of language to praise herself as a fresh face with new ideas who has “joined this team that is a team of mavericks.”

Whar ah comes from, a "team of mavericks" would seem an oxymoron.

September 2008

Sarah and the economy...
- Viewpoint
Here are some links (below) expressing Sarah (Caribou Barbie) Palin's viewpoint on and understanding of the US economy.

Both articles allude to Ms. Palin's lack of understanding of how the mortgage system works. But it's OK, really! Only about half of US home mortgages are linked to FMFM, so if we all screw it up we'll only owe about a zillion dollars to overseas banks.

Now, I don't follow this any more closely than other citizens, but I've known since I bought my first house 30 years ago that FMFM are not government agencies. How can one be governor of a state and not know it?

What are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
More of the McSame

Verry skerry, you're probably thinking!


Don't tar me with that particular brush
- Viewpoint
It started with friends making a casual comment. Then the occasional stranger. Who do you see in the adjacent picture? (Click for larger view.)

July 2008

Wall Decoration?
- Viewpoint
And what does one do with a toddler when nature calls? In Tokyo, no problem. Just convert him into a handsome wall plaque and get on with one's life.

Juvenile Justice?
- Viewpoint
From the look of it, one must assume that young Master Robin C was caught speeding on a Tokyo street this month. Oh, the shame of it all. (Nice wheels, though.)

June 2008

They made me do it
- Mailbag
They made me take a bath. I'm not happy. So there.

Safety First!
- Mailbag
Washington State has implemented a "hands free" law for cell-phone-using drivers. A friend of mine has invented a low-cost way to comply. I can make the hands-free device available to you for only $25, plus shipping and handling, of course. (Click the image for a larger view.)

March 2008

Testing new album feature
- Guests/Demo
I'm testing a new album feature in the guise of a dedicated user ID, photog. Stay tuned.

The Doctor is In
- Mailbag
It seems young Robin Clark has taken an interest in anatomy. Could a medical career be in the offing? It may be just a bit early to predict.

Screen Cleaner
- Mailbag
A friend sent me a link to a convenient screen cleaner. Give it a try!

Screen Cleaner

Hops 'n' Ho's
- Viewpoint
A friend suggested that if Americans spend their forthcoming tax rebate at Wal-Mart it will just go to China and if at the gas pump it will just go to the Persian gulf oil states. His recommendation was that one spend the money on beer and prostitutes. Buy American!

Wikileaks Ban Falls: Score One for the US Constitution
- Viewpoint
Saying he may have violated free speech rights, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White reversed field Friday and lifted an injunction that had effectively shut down a website that publishes documents alleging corporate and government misdeeds, according to the LA Times. The judge acknowledged in court Friday that there were serious questions about whether his original order represented a "possible violation of the 1st Amendment."

The Bush appointee had previously assumed it was OK to shoot free speech first and ask questions later. No doubt the President's reaction was something like "Whitey, you're doin' a heckuva job!"

(If the embedded link above does not take you to Wikileaks, then there are still issues to be resolved. You can also find Wikileaks here.)

US Constitution, Bill of Rights and Subsequent Amendments

February 2008

Pick a better fight
- Geography
From 7,000 miles away, it appears there might be better things and better places for humanity to argue over than Israel and Palestine. Here's a not so random comparison of two areas at the same scale. At the scale of the western US, the "Holy Land" would stack up as a few moderate-size counties. (Click map for larger view.)

Israel has about 7.2 million ihabitants. The occupied territories (would-be Palestine) has about 5 to 6 million; there is no official census, and about as many persons living elsewhere consider themselves in part "Palestinians" though it is not clear how many would really move there if they could. So we're dealing with about 20 million people, about as many as the population of the Los Angeles - San Diego region.

The US has spent about $3 trillion on the war in Iraq. That is about $150,000 per person in the disputed lands of Israel and Palestine. It's also considerably more than the net worth of those folks on average. One wonders how many would rather have a nice condo in the Caribbean or elsewhere.

With the money planned for the war in the future one could even furnish them nicely, especially if the funds were used to leverage the investment instead of for outright purchase, thus leaving a few shekels and pounds to fund education, law enforcement, etc., for the relocated (volunteers, survivors, pick your noun) to increase opportunity and decrease fears of "the other" and memories of the bad things that happened way back when. My guess is that all 11 million have better things to do than fight over who gets the sand.

Yes, I know, the war was over something else, though the reason keeps shifting. And yes, I know, it's "holy." So are lots of other places. Pick your culture; pick your myth.

Every people has been enslaved, Every people has been displaced. Every people has endured the opprobrium of their neighbors. Get over it!

Another Relative from Wisconsin, B'gosh!
- Genealogy
I've managed to weakly link a new relative on the Clark side of the house. Unfortunately I'm too late to buy the t-shirt.

Read the WA archive article and a comment

Afflicting the Comfortable
- Viewpoint
If afflicting the comfortable is your goal, you might want to visit Wikileaks, an international cache for documents that have been "liberated" - in the 1960s sense of the word - from governments and corporations by persons who are either conscientious whistle blowers or dastardly assailants on privacy rights. You choose!

Recently an offshore concern managed to get G.W. Bush-appointed federal judge Jeffrey White effectively to unregister the domain of the organization by breaking its DNS-IP relationship and to display blank pages, forcing its readers to link directly to its server (, that's to read the latest allegedly purloined fare. The site is also still registered (mirrored) in other countries e.g., (One would, of course, have expected such a judge not to understand the organic and unconstrained nature of the 'net.)

The creators of Wikipedia state that their goal is to spread sunlight on activities of governments and corporations in the belief that transparency impels democracy. They are opposed, of course, by the keepers of the sacred secrets.

Wikileaks (for the moment)

- Viewpoint
I may have to move to Italy. There the afternoon television programming is so much more, well, informative. (Images courtesy our California correspondent Tom Stout.)

Ya gotta wonder...
- Viewpoint
The adjacent ad was posted via Google Ads. The author says he was scammed 27 times and then figured out how to make millions. Makes me wonder just how good his advice would be. After all, "fool me once..."

H. Katrina still affecting Delta region
- In the news...
Right after Hurricane Katrina we created a site to foster communication between affected people in the region and others elsewhere who might help. Our effort was surpassed by others with better resources, but we keep "Katrina Relief" alive for those who have found it useful.

This week's interesting item was an offer by a Delta fishing outfit to give away 160,000 surplus fiber bags. Suitable for all sorts of food or other bulk content, this could be your organization's chance to send commodities to some place that needs them. (They're not intended at this writing for sending materials to N.O.)

More Info

Health Care Analysis Favors Clinton Approach
- In the news...
Sen. Hillary Clinton's plan would go further than a similar approach by Sen. Barack Obama toward achieving universal health care, according to Jack Krugman of the Seattle P-I. The difference is mainly due to the required participation in the Clinton plan.

Krugman's sources find that a plan without mandates, broadly resembling the Obama plan, would cover 23 million of those currently uninsured, at a taxpayer cost of $102 billion per year. An otherwise identical plan with mandates would cover 45 million of the uninsured -- essentially everyone -- at a taxpayer cost of $124 billion. Overall, the Obama-type plan would cost $4,400 per newly insured person, the Clinton-type plan only $2,700.

An even cruder analysis that fell out of my calculator shows that $125 billion divided by 150 million (assume that half of all Americans pay a tax or other surcharge to cover the 45 million newly protected) would cost each of the taxed persons about $833 per year above their current tax and insurance burden. About $2.25 per day or about 20 minutes work at minimum wage. Seems cheap to me. Why do the right-wing crazies so vehemently resist? A more cynical person than I might wonder whether they own insurance stocks.

Read More

December 2007

Ho, ho, ho!
- Viewpoint

Vonage: Yes, but No
- Viewpoint
I've been using Vonage for a while, and though it is certainly less expensive than "the phone company" there are some issues they should address.

Email Option

One can have voicemail messages delivered in email. This is generally very useful, BUT

  • often too quiet even with output at maximum
  • no direct link to take action; needs

    • link to user's vonage voicemail page with brief login stop, not the whole home page
    • a way to mark the message as heard to stop the phone's indicator from blinking
    • a way to delete the message from the email - not "send to trash" but really delete, OR an option do choose one or the other disposition

  • in short if email receipt is enabled it should not be necessary to go to the website to take further action

Company Website

One embarks on a real wild goose chase to get a customer service phone number. They interpose a series of useless "help" options and NEVER display a customer service number. I finally had to call the sales number and demand a transfer.

Navigation is illogical and changes as one moves around the company site(s), often with no return link even to the home page.

New windows open for no apparent reason.

Voicemail management is painful.

  • "deleting" a message one has already heard on voicemail does not stop the phone indicator from blinking
  • I learned from a painful tooth-pulling session with customer service that "delete" is really "move to trash" - that changes the message's storage pointers but does not mark it as heard/deleted
  • if it said what it meant there would not be a problem.

Connecting Problem

There is a serious latency of up to two seconds when answering an incoming call. I have learned to pause one second before saying "Hello..., hello..., hello..." until the caller speaks.

Positive Features

Rock solid call forwarding and "find me follow me" features. I can forward to any phone including mobile and have virtual presence.

Live Service

"Halloo! This is Stephanie..." (subtext: I am in India, my real name is something else, and I've just finished a six week course in sounding like an American, with which I'm attempting to overcome twenty years of trying to sound British.)
[Dear Vonage; I made up "Stepanie;" please don't go to Bangalore and fire any real Stepanies there, who are probably doing their "bhery" best. ]

All very nice people with great patience (no doubt everyone they talk to is already angry due to the reasons enumerated above), but they're so highly scripted that they cannot take much initiative, and one suspects they don't have a clue about US geography or telephony expectations.

VOIP in General

Voice over IP telephone suffers from a duplexing problem. Think of talking on a CB radio and having to say "over" to allow the other person to talk. Same thing with VOIP: When one user has the channel, the other does not. If one is talking with say, Hugo Chávez, or someone else who won't "just shut up" one cannot get a word in edgewise.

On balance...

I'm sticking with it. Compared to other five-year-olds I know, it's fairly mature. They do have a customer bulletin board; I wish that senior management were participating instead of apologists, but maybe they have other things to do.

November 2007

The oil crisis explained
- Mailbag
A wag writes: A lot of folks can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in our country. Well, there's a very simple answer.

Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low.

The reason for that is purely geographical.

Our OIL is located in Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Our DIPSTICKS are located in Washington, DC !!!

Any Questions ??? NO? I didn't Think So.

Buy Now!
- Mailbag
The large text of the adjacent placard translates as "HUGE REDUCTIONS" - you be the judge. (Thanks to Gavin for spotting this.)

Monster Lobsters Invade Tokyo
- In the news...
We have received word that monster lobsters are invading the central Japanese island of Honshu. Early reports indicate that they are crawling over children in Tokyo.

The alarmed population - trained by years of Godzilla films - knew exactly what to do. The population ran through the streets; scientists whose lips moved out of synch with their lips debated the cause of the plague; military and civilian authorities dithered.

Finally a little boy, seen in the accompanying photograph (click it for larger view), swatted one of the lobsters, which fell at his feet. It was later discovered that lobsters don't live very long out of water. No additional cases have been reported. Monster patrols are in place along many east Asian coastlines, where large pots of boiling water, vegetable hors d'oeuvres and various entertainments have been assembled.

Explanations of the phenomenon abound. Global warming has been suggested, but of course that was denied by energy industry scientists during a hastily scheduled conference at a luxury hotel in the tropics. New age thinkers have asserted that the lobsters have voluntarily come out of the water, sacrificing themselves to show mankind that rising sea temperatures are not good for living things. They take as evidence the fact that the lobsters have donned sweaters in respect for human modesty. Unfortunately, in a classic example of counterintuitive results, the large pots of boiling water at the seacoasts have dulled the point of that message. Are we doomed?

More Pictures

October 2007

How I spent my October vacation
- Viewpoint
Robin Alexander Koshiro Clark turns out to be even more a joy than anticipated. He seems to be healthy and interested in his surroundings and responsive to people. He is the apple of Grandmother Shigeko-san's eye and gets attention wherever he goes, no doubt because he is the world's handsomest baby. He suffers only from the need to pose with interlopers trying to bask in his light.

Click images for larger views where available. Find more in the Gallery.

- Genealogy
Watch out for scary pumpkins on the 'net this October. Uncle Gavin got into the act from Seattle as we introduced him to Robin.

Baby Contest
- Genealogy
I attended a baby contest Tuesday. The winner by consensus was little Robin Clark of Tokyo. He won in the categories best baby and longest name (too long to post here; see earlier item).

Semper Fi!
- Mailbag
A guy is driving around the back woods of Tennessee and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house:

"Talking Dog for Sale "

He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks.

"Yep," the Lab replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says "So, what's your story?"

The Lab looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA and they had me sworn into the toughest branch of the armed services ... The United States Marine Corps... You know one of their nicknames is "The Devil Dogs."

In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders; because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.

I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running, but the jetting around really tired me out and I knew I wasn't getting any younger.

So, I decided to settle down. I retired from the Corps (8 dog years is 56 Corps years) and signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in."

"I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the guy says.

"Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"

"Because he's a f&^%$#n liar! He never did any of that shit. He was in the NAVY!"

(Disclaimer: Tom sent this to me. I had to post it; he is bigger than I am.)

- Viewpoint
Take control of your finances with this priceless information. Click the link and run the embedded video.

All you need to know

The Internet @ 15
- Geography

Since the popularization of the Internet in 1993 usage has spread worldwide, but a few areas still predominate. As the 'net approaches its 15th birthday, someone sent me this trace map of traffic. (Click it for a bigger verson.)

Your house is the one on the left of that dot in the middle, or is it? Follow the link below for a great site featuring visualizations of many kinds of data, including what appears to be a polar projection of this same 'net traffic.

In the map, the US and Europe are clearly the center of the action. I found a few minutes of fun trying to identify the places in Asia, Africa and South America.

Chris Harrison Web Site

Sitemaker upgrade testing
- Viewpoint
We're testing a new version of Sitemaker. Let's see if it still accepts blog posts and pix. OK. Text and graphics are OK. SFSG! Luckily we have great pix to share.

Wish I could sleep like this
- Mailbag
Don't you wish you were a baby? You could go visit grandma in your baby carrier and sleep and eat and sleep and eat. (Robin Clark at 45 days approx., courtesy H&A Productions, film at 11. Click for larger view.)

August 2007

In case you needed another reason for a change in DC...
- Viewpoint
A recent article in the Washington Post describes the enormous advantage in performance enjoyed by Japanese Internet users, who transmit and receive information over the 'net in their homes up to 17 times as fast as the best US services. No, it didn't just arise from the unseen hand of the market. It's all part of a long-term plan for linking up the whole country.

The article notes that indifference to the 'net by the Bush administration is a factor in the development lag. Policies of the administration favor the go-slow, don't-rock-the-boat approach of large US cable and phone companies. In Japan, key regulations have fostered the rise of innovative technologies that deliver world-leading Internet access to most urban Japanese and an expanding portion of the countryside.

In my own case, I recently listened in on the birth of my grandson in Tokyo via a high-speed hookup in the delivery room of a local birthing center. The hospital has a roof to basement, wireless broadband system through which my son connected me and other family members at various locations. We empathized with New Mom's pain and reveled in the joy of baby's first cry in real time with perfect sound and not a single dropped Kampai!

This experience confirms my belief that "net neutrality" in which service providers cannot give preference to selected content traveling on their networks is essential. Had the large providers and their desired multi-tier pricing existed last month, the ads for unneeded enhancements to body parts I don't have would have been coming in loud and clear, while we waited for the news of the birth after the fact.

Simpsonization Complete
- Viewpoint
Couldn't resist "simpsonizing" myself. Now we'll see whether they really keep my email confidential. One of the joys of owning one's own email server is creating identities and following the junk trail back to the perpetrators with sharpened pen and sharper vocabulary. You can simpsonize yourself below.

Go Yellow!

Introducing Robin Alexander Koshiro Clark
- In the news...
I'm happy to announce that my lovely daughter-in-law has delivered the next generation in the person of Robin Alexander Koshiro Clark, born today Aug. 15 (Thursday, Aug. 16 Tokyo time). Thanks to the marvels of the Internet, his grandmother Susan, Uncle Gavin and I listened in from our homes in Washington through the delivery on a three-site audio conference, with Andy occasionally popping in to translate and give an update. Looks like yet another redhead to me. Of course his first gift was his own email at Clark IP, but we'll give him a chance to practice a few other skills before hooking him up to the world. More news as soon as it comes in. Click the pic for a larger view. There is more on Andy's site and in my Gallery.

July 2007

The Perfect Husband
- Mailbag
Several men are in the locker room of a golf club. A cell phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands free speaker function and begins to talk. Everyone else in the room stops to listen.

MAN: "Hello"

WOMAN: "Honey, it's me. Are you at the club?" MAN: "Yes"

WOMAN: "I am at the mall now and found this beautiful leather coat. It's only $1,000. Is it OK if I buy it?"

MAN: "Sure, go ahead if you like it that much."

WOMAN: "I also stopped by the Mercedes dealership and saw the new 2006 models. I saw one I really liked."

MAN: "How much?"

WOMAN: "$90,000"

MAN: "OK, but for that price I want it with all the options."

WOMAN: "Great! Oh, and one more thing...the house I wanted last year is back on the market. They're asking $950,000"

MAN: "Well, then go ahead and give them an offer of $900,000. They will probably take it. If not, we can go the extra 50 thousand if it's really a pretty good price."

WOMAN: "OK. I'll see you later! I love you so much!"

MAN: "Bye! I love you, too."

The man hangs up. The other men in the locker room are staring at him in astonishment, mouths agape.

He turns and asks: "Anyone know whose phone this is?"

May 2007

Patent Reform Overdue
- In the news...
In recent decades many have argued that the US (and other) patent office(s) have awarded spurious patents based on weak claims. Wired News has created a forum and review of the question.

Wired News Article

Daily Bruin Alumni
- Viewpoint
It's been a joy recently to chat with old friends from the Daily Bruin. Such a joy, in fact, that it seemed others might like to do the same. If you were a Bruin staffer, please visit Daily Bruin Alumni News and reconnect. (The site is still in testing mode, so if you like, please send your name and email to my contact form, along with the years you attended UCLA, and I'll add you.) No cost, no spam.

And if you wish, send me six column inches on what you've been doing since graduation (or since you dropped out after the DB ruined your GPA).

Daily Bruin Alumni News

April 2007

Don Harrison
- Mailbag
I just found to my great delight a reference to my college roommate Don Harrison on the City of San Diego website. Read on.

"Donald H. Harrison is a journalist and author. A former politics writer for The San Diego Union, Don served as the last editor-in-chief and co-publisher of the San Diego Jewish Press-Heritage and now writes a regular column for the San Diego Jewish Times. He also publishes a website:

In addition, Harrison has broad experience in the fields of public relations and tourism. As communications director to Acting Mayor Bill Cleaator in 1983, Harrison coordinated local press aspects of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to San Diego. He and Cleator started the San Diego Cruise Industry Consortium, which Harrison directed for nine years. Harrison also was the start-up general manager, tour designer and scriptwriter for Old Town Trolley Tours of San Diego.

Harrison is the author of Louis Rose: San Diego's First Jewish Settler and Entrepreneur, and serves as the president of the Louis Rose Society for the Preservation of Jewish History. He was nominated to the Historical Resources Board by Councilmember Jim Madaffer and appointed by mayor Dick Murphy.

He and his wife Nancy have resided in the Mission Trails area of San Diego since 1972. They have two children and one grandson, all residents in San Diego County."

Don's site

March 2007

Wedding Day
- Viewpoint
Just a memento for A&H of their wedding day (click to enlarge). I figure the odds are about 50:50 that I got the kana and kanji right; not easy with a mouse. (Can be corrected if not.)

February 2007

War is Hell
- Viewpoint
I've just re-touched a photo that depicts a WWII event involving an enemy combatant. Things were tougher then if you were on the losing side.

Read More

January 2007

No Northern Exposure
- Viewpoint
A wag suggests that the "Wisconsin Border Patrol" shown here is the reason we have fewer illegal immigrants from Canada. Upon reflection, it might also be that Wisconsin has no land border with Canada.

December 2006

Scottish regiment faces kilt shortage
- Mailbag
According to the Everett Herald, the AP reports...

"LONDON - Great Scot! A shortage of ceremonial kilts could leave thousands of soldiers without a stitch of plaid to wear as they parade to the skirl of the bagpipes. Military officials said Monday that more than 5,000 Scottish soldiers are having to share their kilts because defense chiefs have not finalized a contract to buy enough of the garments to go around."

One ancipates heavy attendance at this year's Edinburgh Tattoo parades, and one assumes the sharing of kilts is sequential and not simultaneous.

UPDATE: I found a reference to the same story on a site called Wiccanweb. Presumbably they'll be able to conjure up more kilts for those unfortunate Scots.

Everett Herald Article

November 2006

- Viewpoint
My classmate Tom died last year of early onset Parkinson's disease, the same malady lampooned by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show this Fall, a performance that earned Limbaugh some much-deserved scorn.

Tom and I were not close friends; I knew him only to say hello to in high school, before his family moved to another town. I remembered him as a person interesting to talk with, someone with his head together. Tom went on to a career as a marine architect, designing systems for numerous shipbuilders. He was about adapting and applying technology to tie us together with transportation and commerce.

Rush and I could never be friends. Instead of carrying his fellow human beings forward, he makes a career of anchoring them to the bottom, feeding them hard tack and political swill with no thought that they are as he, on a voyage to the unknown, doing what they can with what they have. He is about using his medium to promote the perverted golden rule: that who has the gold makes the rules.

When I met Tom again after nearly fifty years in 2004, his hands and body shook, and he had to prop himself up on a walker. Our conversation ranged over childhood, careers, and transcendence, even of issues like Parkinson's. He hardly talked of his disease, preferring to discuss technology, friends and life.

I have never met Rush, whose hands and body shook in parody of the world's infirm, propped up by greedy advertisers and specious manipulators, paid to attack the weak to protect the money and position of the strong. He continues to speak up for the powerful, preferring to emphasize the social machinery that divides us into the weak and the strong, in perpetual admiration of the powerful.


The next time you sail on a vessel that is elegant and safe and takes you to a destination you have chosen, please think of Tom.

The next time you find yourself vomiting over the gunnels of life, think of Rush.

October 2006

Can You not see? We have big heads and big hats!
- Viewpoint

Got the attached in the mail. Too great not to elaborate; it's not just Kim Jong-il's head that's too big; the generals aren't far behind.

Becas y ayuda escolástica
- Miscelánea.esp
Para información sobre oportunidades y becas para estudios en escuelas de alta nivel, visite el sitio abajo.

LETI - Dollars for Scholars

Ex-Foley-ation Not Enough
- Viewpoint
Seems from here that the people of the 14th Congressional District of Illinois are best positioned to rule on Dennis Hastert et al. and their apparent delay in dealing with the Mark Foley matter. One hopes they will do their duty and bring Coach Hastert home to sit on the sidelines watching reruns of his old high school teams.

Now that Foley is gone, we're hearing from the Speaker that the problem is "who leaked it?"

Typical. In all the recent scandals since Jan. 20, 2001, there has been an attempt to shift the emphasis to the political outcome and benefit and lost. There must be a lot of dead messengers in Washington, D.C.

The Republicans who are coming out for full disclosure are to be congratulated. Maybe we'll get back our two party system and be able to take pride in whomever represents us.

August 2006

- Viewpoint
Buying a computer?

Everything you need to know before you buy.

A Valid Excuse
- Mailbag
A Florida senior citizen drove his brand new Corvette convertible out of the dealership. Taking off down the road, he floored it to 80 mph, enjoying the wind blowing through what little hair he had left.

"Amazing!" he thought as he flew down I-75, pushing the pedal to the metal even more. Looking in his rear view mirror, he saw the highway patrol behind him, blue lights flashing and siren blaring.

"I can get away from him. No problem!" thought the elderly nutcase as he floored it to 100, then 110, then 120 mph. Suddenly, he thought,"What on earth am I doing? I'm too old for this nonsense!", pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the trooper to catch up with him.

Pulling in behind him, the trooper walked up to the driver's side of the Corvette, looked at his watch and said, "Sir, my shift ends in 30 minutes. Today is Friday. If you can give me a reason why you were speeding that I've never heard before, I'll let you go."

The man, looking very seriously at the Trooper, said, "Years ago, my wife ran off with a Florida State trooper. I thought you were bringing her back."

"Have a good day, Sir," said the trooper.

June 2006

Lavinia McKee 1881-1883?
- Genealogy

When I was little my grandmother, who was the oldest girl in her family, told me of her older sisters Rachel and Lavinia, who were born in Scotland.

Today I was waiting for a phone call, and I decided to log into "Scotland's People" the web site of the Scottish national archive.

After a quick search I found a birth registration for Lavinia McKee from Ayrshire (SW of Glasgow) from 1881. (Hit a bug on the Rachel record.) It shows that her father was indeed Thomas McKee (he had not yet taken his mother's name Goodwin to make life easier as an immigrant), and her mother was Lavinia Fleming. Also present was Grandmother Rachel Fleming (Lavinia's older sister was also Rachel). (By coincidence the registrar's name was also Fleming; I have no reason to think there is a relationship.)

I have blown up the witness space and placed it at lower left Rachel Fleming apparently could not write her name; she signed with an X.

Rachel's daughter Lavinia Fleming McKee Goodwin is the person I have described elsewhere who began working at the Clark Thread Company in Paisley at age 6. The trade-off was that John Clark the threadmaker (as in Coates and Clark; no relation to the John Clark who was my paternal great-great-grandfather) was an adherent of Robert Owen, the British Utopian philosopher who held that industrial concerns and their owners owed a decent living to their workers and a chance at a better life for their children.

So off went little Lavinia Fleming to the mill every day. She worked half a day spinning thread or some such swell task, and the other half day in school. Unlike most British girls of her era and unlike her mother, she became literate. Since I put all this together during a visit to Paisley and Johnstone in 1986, I have conjectured that that bit of a leg up might have caused her eventually to have different criteria for husband hunting, perhaps to choose someone a bit more ambitious, a bit more promising.

So off went Lavinia Fleming McKee with her husband Thomas to America. And here I am sitting in a soft chair typing instead of hauling coal waste up to the slag heap.

Sadly, the younger Lavinia did not get to participate in the good life of the American west. After arriving in the US and establishing themselves in the coalfields around Braceville, Illinois, Mother and the girls made a trip back to Scotland. Grandmother Rachel had died, and there were details to manage. As the story came to me, Baby Lavinia did not survive her second Atlantic crossing and may have been buried at sea. I believe this was in 1883, as her next sibling was born in Illinois in 1884. Her legacy is her grandmother's inexpensive silver tea set and a few other trinkets.

When I was in college economics Professor Norby made us read the economic philosophers of the 18th Century. At the time it was drudgery. I now think the good prof. did me a favor. What a kick to understand the context of their times as well as to find the paperwork.

When I was in college economics Prof. Norby made us read the Utopian Philosophers, including Owen. "What a yawn," I thought then, but now "What a gift!"

I think this type of research should be required of all students in high school history. Putting one's family history into context can be fascinating; writing it down can be challenging; and sharing it with others helps us to appreciate our common humanity. I look forward to reading your story.

Some new Davis/Clark Info
- Genealogy
I did a couple of genealogy hours yesterday and found some interesting documentation of known facts. On the Davis side I found a copy of the birth registration of my maternal great-grandfather Thomas McKee/McKay Goodwin. ("You immigrants, there, stand in line for your new name!") On the Clark side I found index records for the 1805 birth of my paternal great-great-grandfather John Clark and his 1833 marriage to Catherine MacDonald, all in Scotland. They moved to Canada in 1837, and (many of) their children moved to Wisconsin USA by the 1870s. See the Clark and Davis pages under Genealogy.

Articles and Documents

May 2006

Buen Viaje
- Viewpoint

And it was a good trip! I'm just back from a week in Costa Rica. Driving around with son Andy along the west central coast was a great break from the routine. ASAP I will post a few pix in the Gallery. In the meantime click the one above for a view from the veranda. We found Costa Rica to be a lot like W. Washington: Trees, beaches, surf. However, we waited in vain for the drizzle and gray skies. (Actually the rainy season was starting, and we had a couple of drenching downpours; nothing like our gentle northwest rain.)

Natasha's Novel
- Viewpoint
I'm sorry to report that you are too late to purchase one of the first 100,000 copies of 'Perfect" by Natasha Friend.

Natasha was a childhood neighbor and friend of my kids in Hamilton, NY, way back when. Her very successful first novel - a second is to appear in October - is mainly aimed at twelve-ish girls and deals with eating disorders and family anxieties. I recommend it to all with teenagers.

March 2006

Danger Lurks, Say TSA Jerks
- Mailbag
At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, The US attorney general said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

Al-Gebra is a fearsome cult, the attorney general said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute values. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'there are 3 sides to every triangle'."

- Viewpoint
I've been training some new users of CIP Sitemaker™ over the phone. Generally it's pretty easy. Mainly the problems come from folks who don't have much general computer or Web experience or those experience is using a single platform or browser. We plan to introduce classroom training some time this year.

Lutefisk Redux
- Viewpoint
Just had to resurrect an item from "below the fold" in the old Seattle Press. "Someone" slipped it into the online edition back in '99. It still shows up in Google, so I realized I'd better claim it. R

The Awful Truth

Patricide or Folly?
- Viewpoint
There it was in the refrigerator: A full gallon of milk. Cool, refreshing, nutritious..., spoiled. I was about to take my second swallow when it hit me that this was milk unlike any other. It's now about an hour and a half later. We'll see...

My dear son's explanation was that he knew it was outdated and he had been meaning to throw it away, but didn't want to pour it down the drain for fear of smelling it.

Yes, I know. The date is printed plainly on the jug. Old habits die hard; harder still is acquiring new ones, even 20 years after the evil do-gooders forced the honest milk merchants to print them. (BTW, did any food purveyors ever really go out of business from the expense of date labels? Comments - and evidence - are welcome.)

I'll report again later, depending on the bacteria count.

February 2006

Shoot first and ask questions later!
- Viewpoint
One could ask infinite questions and write a treasure trove of one liners about Dickaquidick, but I'll refrain.

December 2005

- Viewpoint
Notice to all: I've decided that privacy laws protecting you don't apply to me. Therefore I've taken steps to install surveillance equipment in your home and place of business. I will be using the information garnered to control your life, and I will leave it lying around where people less well intentioned than I to use for their own purposes later when you least expect it and when the information, however dated, can be used to embarrass you or compel you to fealty to me.

G. W. Bush

October 2005

The third Blues Brother
- Viewpoint
It seems W is on a mission from God, too. Our staff psychologist suggests it may be a symptom of Obsessive Repulsive Disorder. The photo accompanying the news of the epiphany is too wonderful not to recommend you rush to see the full size original in The Guardian.

In other news, this week W stated in his nomination of Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court that he had sought a person who would never, never change her world view and would make exactly the same decisions now as in 20 years. One wonders how he might regard the career of St. Paul 20 years before the trip to Damascus. Had Paul been a candidate for president the day after his epiphany, would the Republican party have accused him of flip-flopping on the issues?
The third Blues Brother

Source: The Guardian

September 2005

Our H.Katrina Effort
- Guests/Demo
As a way to help push things in the right direction, we created a couple of days after the hurricane in the Gulf. Check out the Forums, the Directory and other features. The goal is to make it easy for peer relationships to form naturally between, for example, churches, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.

Katrina Relief

March 2005

Sitemaker Version 2
- Guests/Demo
Version 2.0 of CIP Sitemaker™ from Clark Internet Publishing is now active. It adds several new features - like the web log - and contains numerous structural improvements. With the change the entire system makes a clear distinction between structure and content. This means that one can write and store pages of text, graphics, and other information without regard to their eventual appearance. Such things as colors, fonts, and page layouts are separately defined.

This is all accompanied by a new "themes" feature that lets an editor store multiple themes for a site. The themes - combinations of color, layout, fonts, etc. - can be selected at any time to instantly change the appearance of the site. This allows business sites to have seasonal or promotional themes, and personal sites can just be more fun.

The web log feature is the first to offer "BBcode" to let users modify text without running the risk of compromising page layout. For example, one can italicize, colorize and embolden fonts. This capability will gradually be extended to all text elements of the system.

In fact, the new version is so much better that we probably don't know what all it can do. We look forward to having our users tell us.


February 2005

What a week!
- Guests/Demo
Our main web server's primary disk system died at age six last week, putting us off line and out of business for a while. The backups we'd cultivated so long paid off, and we were able to restore service to our clients in only a few hours. We've sustained over 99.9% availability of our systems over the past eight years.

National Secrets: A Modest Proposal
- Viewpoint
Suppose that everyone and every country had "stealth" technology? What would that do to "the military option?" Maybe it would make it too hard to be a realistic solution.

Occasional columnist Dr. Nate Sihulo has been thinking forward to the time when there are no tactical secrets. With images from space at one-meter resolution coming to every desktop in the next decade, how will the generals ever persuade the privates to sneak up to the border when everyone on the other side can see them coming on TV?

Read More

Max Schmeling
- Viewpoint
I'm no particular fan of boxing, but I happened to see this news today and looked up the record.

Max Schmeling, heavyweight champ of the 1930s died Wednesday, February 2 at 99. He's an example of the kind of men who used to be boxers, men like Schmeling, Louis, Patterson, Marciano; flawed but respectable. A far cry from the generation of dirtbags we've lately witnessed.

Max Schmeling Biography

January 2005

iCalendar Tool Upgrade
- Guests/Demo
Our erstwhile technical director has upgraded the CIP Sitemaker™ calendar editing tool. Administrators can now easily add on-time and recurring events to their calendars, either from the public view or the editing view.

The editor can also control how many options are available to users. For example, the editor can already decide whether visitors can add events, and if so whether they require approval before they are displayed.

As the Sitemaker member management system is extended to all the tools (it now works only for blogs), SAs will be able to apply various permissions to the calendar and even to individual events. So a whole calendar or individual events might be public or private in as you wish.

Very cool.

Our blog's better than your blog!
- Guests/Demo
We have just activated our web log tool in CIP Sitemaker. This blogging tool has some very cool features that set it off from the crowd.
  1. It's part of CIP Sitemaker™ and thus has a raft of exceptional companion tools. You can easily create and manage a wide variety of information. Some tools are included with every site.

    • contact form - receive email without publishing your address
    • a calendar - events can be public or private, and you can let readers add their own events
    • a photo gallery - show the world your new invention or pix of your family and friends

  2. You can expand a simple web log into a comprehensive site. Add, for example,

    • article list(s) - build a newsletter, case studies, reports
    • member management - sign up members and assign permissions

  3. The cost is very low. (Pricing is still to be determined. If advertising is present, right now it's free!).

A Celebration of Differences
- Guests/Demo
Michael Says... A celebration of differences is a celebration of life.

We must learn to celebrate our differences, although distracted by the need to belong to an immediate circle of friends and people of like mind. We are all similar, but different; equal, but not the same; unique, expressions of life. We have value. These truths endure our ignorance, eventually making fools of those who fail to accept them, and empowering all who are able to discern that mankind is more alike than different. By focusing on similarities rather than differences, we discover common ground on which to build relationships that facilitate communication, trust and mutual respect.

A Celebration of Differences challenges our most cherished opinions of how we relate to those around us.

A Celebration of Differences requires that we open ourselves to new ideas, customs, traditions and values without abandoning our own.

A Celebration of Differences helps us to recognize that what we may have learned about others may not be true - but simply what we have learned. The truth is - we all count. We matter. We can make a difference if we dare to give ourselves permission to consider new possibilities, and new ways of doing familiar things.

A Celebration of Differences demands that we abandon the preoccupation with skin-color as an indicator of individual character. Greatness doesn't come in colors. Neither does honesty, loyalty nor kindness - all desirable traits in most cultures. Yet, if you look closely, these traits share a common attribute. The fact that I am great, honest, loyal and kind does not keep you, or anyone else from being just as great, honest, loyal and kind. There will always be enough of these qualities to go around, as long as we value those individuals who exhibit them.

A Celebration of Differences is truly a celebration of life.

Michael Twiggs, Chief Consultant, Twiggs & Associates

Twiggs & Associates

December 2004

Major Geog
- Geography
This category is dedicated to the valiant Major Geog, whose exploits in the mystical Wumpus caves of Colgate University in the 1970s brightened many hours during my dissertation labors. Major Geog slew many a wumpus, but sadly met his end in 1978 when his biggest booster took his younger brother and moved to California. Dejected, Major Geog wandered into the caves and was never seen again.

Colgate University

New Ancestors in the Mist
- Viewpoint
A couple of happy accidents revealed the facts of a long-lost connection. My eye was caught by a reference during a web search and suddenly I verified the name of my great-grandmother Belle Perry and discovered the name of her father Ambrose, who adds another generation to that line of Perrys. My grandfather Perry A. Clark claimed a relationship to the nautical Perrys of the early US navy, but so far I haven't proven it.

Read the whole story

November 2004

Library of Congress Maps
- Geography
Library of Congress Maps

The Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress holds more than 4.5 million items, of which Map Collections represents only a small fraction, those that have been converted to digital form.

The focus of Map Collections is Americana and Cartographic Treasures of the Library of Congress. These images were created from maps and atlases and, in general, are restricted to items that are not covered by copyright protection.

Map Collections is organized according to seven major categories. Because a map will be assigned to only one category, unless it is part of more than one core collection, searching Map Collections at this level will provide the most complete results since the indexes for all categories are searched simultaneously.

L/C Map Collection

Web Deacon™ sites for churches and their members
- Guests/Demo
Web Deacon™ sites for churches and their members

This is a demo post connected to our new service, The Web Deacon™, which allows churches and other religious groups to publish sites and offer blogs to their members.


Alumni Lists
- Guests/Demo
I'm adding some folks to the TCHS alumni rolls who attended the TC schools anniversary celebration in October. It's just a few at a time, but there appear to be a couple of hundred new names.

Editing Posts & Comments
- Guests/Demo
Editing Posts & Comments
CIPI web logs allow one to embed either BBcode or HTML or both, and one can control line (paragraph) breaks separately, which means one need not worry about having paragraph tags. This post contains the effects of several freely mixed BBcode and HTML tags.

The posting interface consists of a text area for typing, code insertion buttons, and numerous settings lots of options. The user types text in the usual way. The user can insert the BBcode or HTML manually or by clicking one of the adjacent buttons after selecting a range of text.

The code insertion buttons work correctly on Firefox (Mozilla), and we think they should work correctly on other Gecko-based browsers. Resulting pages with posts containing BBcode or HTML has been shown to render correctly on numerous Mac and Windows browsers.


- Guests/Demo
I am at my neighbor Hermann's house. He and his wife Joy are kind enough to let me play with their computer from time to time, which gives me the opportunity to see my pages on a Windows computer, since I'm mostly a Maintosh user.

Ich bin bei meinem Nachbar Hermann. Er und seine Frau Joy erlauben mir ihren Computer manchmal zu benutzen, was mir die gunstige Gelegenheit gibt, meine Seiten auf Windows zu sehen, während Ich selbst meistens Macintosh benutze.
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