Thursday, July 31, 2008

Many Happy Returns, Harry (and Ms. Rowling)!


Who else, but Harry Potter (and Ms. Rowling) could inspire such enthusiasm in the young (staying up past midnight and in line for hours) and old (allowing aforementioned young to do such things) alike?

Thanks to Mariposario and Rational Jenn for the reminders.

And the rest...

There are five children in my daughter's swim class. On the first day, when there were only three children, the instructor really impressed me with his thoughtful, individual attention and judicious, appropriate use of each of the children's names. On the second day a new boy, Lewis, joined the group and I began to hear his name and the other boy's name, but the two girls had suddenly become "the girls". On the third day, a third boy, Kevin, joined the class. This not only solidified the girls' collective appellation of "the girls", but I began to hear "Kevin", "the boys", and "the girls".

Does this instructor's ability to differentiate names stop at the number 3? Is 4 his "crow busting" number? Shoud I be concerned that he is in charge of the safety and well-being of my quiet, nascent swimmer?

The instructor's name? I think it's...The Professor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Vestiges of Dog

Our dog, Izzy, the stogie-smokin'-man-faced Pug, is hanging on to "dog" status by a thread. As she walks around the house desperately searching for the very best place to bury her partially digested chewy thing (I suppose it used to be bone shaped), her behavior may reflect her wolf ancestry of old. However, it is not long before she finds a place, an open violin case, deposits her treasure and with a swipe of the paw places it perfectly, then sits back, tilts her head, and seems to wonder why the case won't close over said booty when her "bred for human companionship" gene pool reveals itself.

Exciting News in Teaching Science!

Thanks to a post on the History At Our House yahoo group, I just found out that David Harriman is creating an entire science program through Falling Apple Science Institute. From the website:

There is a necessary logical order to the history of scientific discoveries. Nobody would claim that it is possible to understand calculus before grasping the principles of geometry and algebra. Similarly, one cannot develop modern genetics or immunology without chemistry, or understand modern chemistry without the atomic theory of matter, or prove the atomic theory without first grasping the basic principles of physics and scientific method. Each discovery was made possible by the previous discoveries. The history of science reveals the order in which the principles had to be learned, and therefore the order in which they should be taught.

It seems the products will not be available for a while, but we've got time. How cool is that?

A Passing Glimpse

As someone with wacky vision (myopic in one eye/hyperopic in the other), I have often theorized that some artists, such as vanGogh perhaps, use their passing visual misinterpretations of reality as inspiration for their creativity. Without my glasses on, I often see odd shapes and colors and have to work to understand what things might really be or how they might really appear, because what I see doesn't reconcile with what I know. It’s rather amusing sometimes. I wish I could remember some examples right now, but in the meantime, please enjoy today’s poetry selection which touches upon this idea.

A Passing Glimpse
by Robert Frost

To Ridgely Torrence
On Last Looking into His 'Hesperides'

I often see flowers from a passing car
That are gone before I can tell what they are.

I want to get out of the train and go back
To see what they were beside the track.

I name all the flowers I am sure they weren't;
Not fireweed loving where woods have burnt--

Not bluebells gracing a tunnel mouth--
Not lupine living on sand and drouth.

Was something brushed across my mind
That no one on earth will ever find?

Heaven gives its glimpses only to those
Not in position to look too close.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Wanna Be Like You



I love Louis Prima's addition to this classic Disney movie.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Political Scruples

When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig'd to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.
- Ben Franklin in a letter to Richard Price 9 Oct 1780

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

Inasmuch as God was an inextricable part of colonial life, our founding fathers appreciated the importance of keeping religious beliefs outside of the realm of government force. Despite our ever advancing prosperity and scientific knowledge and access to a greater range of historical facts, why has our country seemingly turned its back on their wisdom?

Where are our bold statesmen who will speak out against the slippery slope of using government to force a religious agenda? As students of political science, not to mention Americans, they must know this is wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!

I have been pointed to this video (below in three parts) enough times that I thought I'd post it here. The fellas follow an all too familiar case in which some God-fearing townsfolk demand creationism be taught along side of evolution.

Warning: there are some cuss words, but remarkably few given the outrageous drive to kill science and fertilize religion in the minds of the young government school students.







What I find the most curious is that under the guise of teaching science, where evolution is just a "theory", the creationists claim that both evolution and creationism be taught and then let the children decide which is a better fit in their lives. What a good idea! Why didn't those pedagogues think of that earlier:

Johnny, here is a book. There are many words in here that must be learned through a consistent systematic approach starting with the letters of the alphabet, the sounds those letters make, alone and when blended with other letters before those words can be read. Then you must develop a vocabulary in which you understand the meaning of those words in order to read sentences without stopping to look up every word in a dictionary (another book with lots of words). You may find this book very difficult to understand at times and will need to focus very hard if you wish to finish it. Even then, you may not like what you learn when you read it, but in the end you will be empowered to make discoveries on your own.

Or...you can just sit back and listen to me tell you a nice, comfortable story that will confirm and perpetuate your current understanding. You choose.

I have no doubt that reality will prevail. I just wonder why the trend to return to the dark ages is so well tolerated and prevalent.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Soul Sucking

Has anyone out there found a way to make house cleaning less of a soul-sucking activity?

All suggestions are welcomed.










Poem of the Day

A Man's Requirements
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I
Love me Sweet, with all thou art,
Feeling, thinking, seeing;
Love me in the lightest part,
Love me in full being.

II
Love me with thine open youth
In its frank surrender;
With the vowing of thy mouth,
With its silence tender.

III
Love me with thine azure eyes,
Made for earnest grantings;
Taking colour from the skies,
Can Heaven's truth be wanting?

IV
Love me with their lids, that fall
Snow-like at first meeting;
Love me with thine heart, that all
Neighbours then see beating.

V
Love me with thine hand stretched out
Freely -- open-minded:
Love me with thy loitering foot, --
Hearing one behind it.

VI
Love me with thy voice, that turns
Sudden faint above me;
Love me with thy blush that burns
When I murmur 'Love me!'

VII
Love me with thy thinking soul,
Break it to love-sighing;
Love me with thy thoughts that roll
On through living -- dying.

VIII
Love me in thy gorgeous airs,
When the world has crowned thee;
Love me, kneeling at thy prayers,
With the angels round thee.

IX
Love me pure, as muses do,
Up the woodlands shady:
Love me gaily, fast and true,
As a winsome lady.

X
Through all hopes that keep us brave,
Farther off or nigher,
Love me for the house and grave,
And for something higher.

XI
Thus, if thou wilt prove me, Dear,
Woman's love no fable,
I will love thee -- half a year --
As a man is able.


I'm curious about other's reaction to this poem. Stephen thought it should have ended after the 10th stanza, while I laughed heartily at the unexpected end. Despite, or possibly because of the title, I read parts of it as impossible, intimate longing to the point of being uncomfortable. The end may have relieved my discomfort. He just thought the poem was ruined by her bitterness.

Most beautiful idea: "Love me with thy thinking soul".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Randy Pausch (1960-2008)



This is a ten-minute reprise of his Last Lecture.

I recommend it and his full lecture.

Oh My Gaia!

People seem to crave human imagery in explaining things that we have not yet been able to explain through science. That’s why I think Gaia substitutes so nicely in the lives of people who do not have God. However, as one who looks to neither God nor Gaia for reason, I have, on occasion, reviewed the science presented by Al Gore and his acolytes, with the help of many other scientists who also have reviewed the information and have nothing to gain (but much to lose) by respectfully disagreeing with his claim of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW).

I wish merely to point out that perhaps we shouldn’t swallow the idea of man-made global warming whole. As someone who devoted her professional life to writing, enforcing, and working with environmental regulations and policies and her academic life to environmental sciences (focusing on geology and water resources), I consider myself just knowledgeable enough to doubt that we have the data to support AGW or to understand what the full implications of GW might be. As must follow, I doubt we can we know if, let alone how, and certainly not at what price we should try to arrest it. I do know that more regulations guarantee only two things: more bureaucrats and more of everyone’s money given to government agencies – nothing else.

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize not the Prize for Chemistry or Physics, both of which figure strongly in climate science. It is a political movement, albeit one which has “reached across the aisle” as politicians like to say. But man-made global warming is not a scientific fact.

Accepting it as fact and asking the government to solve the problem is like looking at the soaring gas prices, corporate bailouts, and our ever-eroding liberties and saying, “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

Some dissention to Gore's argumentum ad populum (warning: scientists, for the most part, do not have sexy websites and there is a non-scientist – but don’t dismiss him before poking around on his website): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives one a good place to start looking at the data manipulation which has occurred in bringing us the Global Warming Crisis.

If "scientific consensus" is still an idea you rely upon, click here and here.

Finally, it is necessary to exploit the earth in order to live. Think about it. Where should our treading lightly stop: less burning of fossil fuels, fewer acres of forests to pastures for livestock, fewer roads, fewer houses, fewer humans? This is the natural progression of the idea that the lives of men are the disease, and lessening their impact is the cure for an ailing Mother Earth. Who gets to decide the carrying capacity or even the correct temperature of the earth? Based on what? Guesses, conjectures, politicized opinions, personal comfort?

I do not consider my own life, or those of my children, to be a disease on the earth. If and when there are incontrovertible facts that man’s life on earth as we know it will end unless we change our behaviors, we will. Until then, exchanging individual rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as protected by the government for a group discount rate of communal rights to be administered by the government is like committing suicide with a butter knife.

Private Property Rights

Here is an excellent free access article in the Summer 2008 edition of The Objective Standard. Through a look at the history of the electric grid, it elucidates the importance of private property rights even for something which seems so strongly to belong to the community as electricity transmission. It also does a great job explaining the seduction of regulations which promise, but do not deliver, the ability of private enterprises to move forward by permitting use of the commons rather than through private property agreements.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Driftwood Horses



I got this in an email from my brother today - apparently, it's going around. I thought some of these pieces made out of driftwood were really amazing. You can see more here.

Blue Man Hum

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Sights and Sounds of Music

I spent all of yesterday either watching The Sound of Music (first performance), or watching the children who bring the characters of The Sound of Music to life (kid wrangler for second performance – and me without a lasso). Really, with only four weeks and a widely varied group of child actors and singers, the well-rehearsed and tightly-stitched show they were able to produce was quite impressive!

Maria and the Captain were 16 and 15 year-olds, respectively, and they couldn’t have been better. The von Trapp children were aged 9 to 16 and they not only hit their lines, marks, and notes, they did it with clarity and sass. The singing nuns who made up the bulk of the cast (7-16) sang in beautiful four-part harmony, in Latin! I had my doubts with what these directors had to work with, but they managed to not only pull off an entertaining, fully staged musical production of a beloved classic in four weeks but they did so while using every child in the cast well.

Being unfamiliar with the original Broadway production, I really liked two of the songs that I had never heard before: No Way to Stop It and An Ordinary Couple. In No Way to Stop It, Max Detweiler and Elsa Schräder sing around Captain von Trapp urging him to accept the Anschluss because it there’s nothing he can do about it. That he becomes infuriated with them shows his strong character in a convincing way. Despite its title, An Ordinary Couple is much better at conveying a believable attraction between the two leads than Something Good which replaced it in the movie. They profess that all they want is to be together, as opposed to Something Good which implies that despite their failings, they deserve each other.

And here’s a little trivia. Did you know this?

During the Cold War, BBC planned to broadcast The Sound of Music on the radio in the event of a nuclear strike on the United Kingdom. The broadcast would be part of an emergency timetable of programs designed to "reassure" the public in the aftermath of the attack.

I found this interesting tidbit in Wikipedia , but have been unable to find the original source, an article in The Sunday Times. Of course it was one of many of the many pieces prepared for the event, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Best of all, when the ever elegant Baroness Schräder was introduced to us on the terrace she wore a beautiful pink silk flowered dress and jaunty sashed matching hat. Her lavish white silk with silver beading evening gown was even more striking. Why mention this? Her outfits were supplied from the closet of yours truly (people who see me frequently may find this unbelievable as it appears my closet is limited to shades of black). What can I say? I happen to love to dress-up – even 1930s style!

The Other Side of Global Warming



I thought it was funny.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mamma Mia!



If you love ABBA - it's just a rollicking good time - see it with friends - stay through the credits.

Good Things:

The scenery is gorgeous (Santorini, perhaps?).

I have a new respect for Pierce Brosnan who tried really, really hard and looked really, really good (especially compared to his compatriots).

The big musical numbers are hilarious and infectious (in a good way).

Julie Walters was great (Meryl Streep and Christine Baranski were good, too)!

ABBA (nuff said).

Fair Warnings:

If you don't love ABBA, or don't know ABBA, the story may cause confusion (if you do love ABBA, you won't care!).

Much to my chagrin, Colin Firth (that's right - the love god) looked a little like he had just been beached after too many days floating in the ocean.

Except for the above clip (into which two goofy guitar riffs were added) their take on the songs didn't bother me much. In fact, I could understand some words I had always just mumbled!

If you're not over 40, some scenes may cause gastric upset.

Despite our limited seat mobility, one of my friends starting clapping at the reprise of Dancing Queen at the end of the movie. The whole place started clapping and some people got up from their seats and starting dancing in the aisles!

But for the lack of a 40 foot screen and Dolby surround sound, I would have enjoyed this best at home - where I could really DANCE!!!

Even so, I was glad to see it on the big screen. It's just a really fun romp at the movie theatre. No more, no less.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

File Under Freaky-Looking



How cool is this BigDog robot from Boston Dynamics?

Thanks to a poster on HBL.

Remedial Respondent

Blogging is a fun activity because it gives me the opportunity to learn new skills and practice old ones. HTML coding, albeit limited to only the simplest of codes, is one of those skills which I am learning s l o w l y.

For reasons which I still do not quite comprehend, but most probably have to do with my impatience and (unexplainable in this particular situation) lack of attention to detail, I continue to post responses on other people’s blogs in which I misspell, misspeak, or just generally miss. I honestly think that when I decide, last minute, to add a word, a bracket, or a punctuation mark, my cursor, in direct correlation to the exigency of my fingers, jumps position to some other line. Because the addition is minor relative to the rest of the words, I never really notice the misplacement until after I hit “submit”.

If you, like me, need to improve the mechanics of your response skills, I have one word for you – tinyURL (yes, thanks to the wikiworld, it is one word). I know it’s been around for a long time, but if you’ve never used, you might want to think about using it.

I have found that instead of coding a hyperlink in a response (for which I have made the ugly mistake of hyperlinking an entire paragraph on more than one occasion), it’s more reliable to turn your incredibly long link into a tiny link. I know this is old hat to some, but I just started using it recently – and I like it as an alternative to the quirky hyperlink or incredibly long URL address.

For instance:

Should I wish to write a response on a post entitled “Guilty Pleasures”, I may want to link to the TBS site about Dawson’s Creek. I can do this by adding a hyperlink, but that involves me typing in all sorts of weird characters which provides a tremendous opportunity to make a stupid mistake, which, in turn, is even more embarrassing than divulging my mild obsession for the teen drama if you can believe it.

< href="http://www.blogger.com/“http:www.tbs.com/stories/story/0,,38710,00.html”">some related word or set of words, and then I need to close!!! the code < /a > (all without extra spaces that I needed to add in order to see the code).

[Note: In some situations, the quotation marks around the URL are unwarranted. Which situations? Sadly, I don’t know – another problem – but I have experienced it.]

Of course all this is doable, but I’d rather go to my favorites, open in a new window http://tinyurl.com/create.php, and paste in the too-long URL. It instantly generates a new smaller link http://tinyurl.com/6oeqeu which I can copy and paste directly into the response. Sure, the reader has to actually copy and paste the link in his address line, but it saves me from miscoding, or having one huge URL address that falls off the comments page.

I thought maybe someone else could use this little trick tutorial.

I ♥ Mike Rowe

It even says so on the tote bag my husband bought me for Christmas. Read an interesting interview with him in yesterday's Washington Post celebrity blog.

If you don’t know Mike Rowe, or his Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs, check them out. He’s funny, smart, respectful, and incredibly charismatic – and, oh – he can sing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Project Runway, a glass of wine, and thee.



Have a good night!

Out of the Mouths of Babes

"She looked like she needed a friend more than I."

This is not how I speak, but it is what my youngest daughter said to me today. She often speaks this way - and I love it so.

Do you think she's been reading Grammar Girl and is a firm conjunctivist? Did you know that "out of the mouths of babes" is a biblical verse? Me neither - on both counts.

Emotive Poetry of the Day

I'm signed up to receive a classic poem of the day through About.com. I really enjoy reading a poem each day, most of which are new to me.

In the past, I have often loved the beauty and passion of Emily Dickinson. But lately, she's just been bringing me down. Here is the sample of her work I received today:

A door just opened on a street--
I, lost, was passing by--
An instant's width of warmth disclosed
And wealth, and company.

The door as sudden shut, and I,
I, lost, was passing by,--
Lost doubly, but by contrast most,
Enlightening misery.

(953)

It's still beautiful, but sad and depressing.

It's a far cry from:

Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I but moor – Tonight –
In thee!


(249)

Passionate longing - in no way depressing.

And:

A Man may make a Remark—
In itself—a quiet thing
That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark
In dormant nature—lain—

Let us deport—with skill—
Let us discourse—with care—
Powder exists in Charcoal—
Before it exists in Fire.

(952)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fashion Update.

Maybe it's because I'm old, or maybe it's just my disdain for unofficial abbreviations (UA), but in the event that you too missed the fashion evolution of emo, I'm here to help.

Emo is a term originally and still applied to a type of music, but has since become synonymous with a fashion and personality type characterized by young emotional angst. It takes the form of whiny self-affliction, black rings around the eyes, tight pants, black glasses, lots of hair across the face, and emotional affectations. Here is a good description and here are some pictures and a tutorial on how to dress emo.

Looks like goth meets soft punk to me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What a Wonderful World.

This has been around for a while, and on my sidebar since I had a side bar, but really, if you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. If you have, it's worth a second look. This is just cool.

Friday nights in the formative years.





My fascination with fringe and white go-go boots is starting to make sense to me now.

Stabbed.

Or rather, jabbed.

I was at the vet this morning with my totally spastic Pug for her annual physical. In the commotion of having three people attempting to settle the little spaz-mo onto the steel table so the doctor could do her thing, said doctor plunged the needle, not into the furry beast, but me! I didn't know it was a clean needle, rather than one filled with some dog vaccine until the doctor started talking to the dog, in baby talk no less, that "luckily it was a clean needle" and "I don't think mommy liked that".

My dog is okay. She's kind of cute in a I've-stolen-Winston-Churchill's-face kind of way. And she actually seems rather smart, for a designer dog who snorts constantly and looks earnestly and quizzically at you when you say "NO - Get down from the Noguchi Table, you beast!" However, under no circumstances do I wish to be referred to as her "mommy". As if the stabbing weren't insulting enough.

For a mere $276.36 and an errant poke with a needle, I found out that Izzy "looked great" by the way (and the doctor hasn't even seen her in her boa). A small price to pay for the hours of dress up afforded to the small human in the family for whom I wear the name "mommy" happily.


Friday, July 11, 2008

And now for something completely different.

Sometimes, a girl gets to wondering....
what other paths could I have chosen?

EPA refuses unprecedented expansion

Well, it's something.

Today the EPA answered the Supreme Court's request that it determine whether or not global warming creates public health risks. The 1000 page report came to no conclusions but that the EPA was not the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Such an activity was better suited for the congress said the EPA chief Johnson.

Blame the current President and his administration, but what bureaucracy doesn't want to expand its base? What type of scientific evidence is so overwhelming that the Environmental Protection Agency thinks that the main legislative body of the country would do a better job in controlling and reversing the effects of that evidence. Instituting a regulatory and economic nightmare is bad business - particularly when the causal relationship between global warming and greenhouse gases has not been proven - not to mention the anthropogenic portion of those gases not clearly apportioned between sources or differentiated from natural sources.

Here's the NPR report about the President kicking the can down the road.

Frankly, I'm somewhat pleased to find that the Supreme Court still sees the need to tie environmental regulations to human health.

If carbon dioxide emissions are so harmful, but coal burning is so cheap and plentiful, let's let the market fix it at the source and not allow harm by degrees. We're just no where near understanding the big picture and determining that such extreme emission control measures make economic sense.

Breathe, but not too deeply.

Still substantively on page 8 of the 52 pages of Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008 of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, also known as the Green Communities Act, I did skim ahead and found that there are 124 Sections of the Act, at least 53 of which are just inserting sections or words into the existing laws, 25 of which are effective date related, and one actually repeals something!

SECTION 59. Subsection (f) of section 1A of chapter 164 of the Generals Laws is hereby repealed.


Well, that’s exciting. Let’s find out what has been repealed, shall we?

A quick glance (and careful number, letter, parenthesis, period, and italics following) yields that that there is no subsection (f) of Chapter 164 section 1A! The one ray of light in the entire document refers to the repeal of a non-existent subsection!

It’s really hard reading through the laws not only due to the convoluted, sub-sectioned, and awkwardly referential language, but mostly because it is a naked attempt to centralize electrical utilities which seems to have been accomplished with any possible dissent muffled under the warm and fuzzy Green blanket.

It’s another bureaucratic behemoth that feeds itself on the auction of allowances, defined as “an authorization to emit a fixed amount of carbon dioxide”. The auction/allowance program administered by the state under a gigantic amount of new regulations yet to be promulgated, calls for the a gigantic increase in the bureaucracy, including, but certainly not limited to a new office under the attorney general of “ratepayer advocacy”, an assistant attorney general whose “full time and attention” will be devoted to that new office, special consultants to help that assistant, not to mention the new staffing required for the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Energy Resources to push the papers (oops, maybe they’ve gone paperless – you know, save a tree or two) paid for by whom? You (me in this case).

The sheer increase in hoop-jumping the utilities must soon go through is truly staggering. In addition to a consumer tax per kilowatt hour to fund the energy programs, this Act strangles utilities in cost analysis and charges them with developing eight specific programs, but is not limited to such. All of this is done under the pretext of saving the consumer money. Again, I’m on page 8 of 52.

What will all this new state government accomplish? According to SECTION 7 of the Act which amends Chapter 21A of the MGL, the “Cap and trade program” will control emissions that will achieve the desired environmental effects. That’s it.

Before you non-Masssuicites get smug, you might want to take a look at that same SECTION 7, section 22 (e):

The responsibilities created by establishing a carbon dioxide cap and trade program shall be in addition to any other responsibilities imposed by any other general or special law or rule or regulation and shall not diminish or reduce any power of authority of the department, including the authority to adopt standards and regulation necessary for the commonwealth to join and fully participate in a multistate program at any stage in the development and implementation of such a program intended to control emissions of carbon dioxide or other substances that are determined by the department to be damaging or altering the climate.


This is just the beginning. The Memorandum of Understanding dated December 20, 2005 (a scant 20 pages and based on “growing scientific consensus”), and its subsequent Model Rule (a whopping 163 pages “designed to stabilize and then reduce anthropogenic emissions of CO2”, so the livestock have been spared) establishes these cap and trade programs within the northeast region of the United States and other regions established by the RGGI (a regional cooperative effort to reduce CO2 emissions – “a greenhouse gas which causes global warming”).

I hate to get all alea jacta est here, but this is pretty bad. The best we can hope for is that this program gets so heavy it suffocates under the weight of its own carbon dioxide load. If this shows us anything it's that once laws are made, they are seldom repealed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

While I was sleeping.

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide forthwith for renewable and alternative energy and energy efficiency in the commonwealth, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.


So begins An Act Relative To Green Communities signed into law on July 2nd by Governor Deval Patrick. In his press release, Governor Patrick displays Senator Obama-like enthusiasm for impacting the whole world with his green policies. The Act will invest (can the government invest taxpayer's money?), stabilize the markets, relieve homeowners by allowing them to sell back to energy to utilities at a very good rate, That sounds like a whole lotta government interference to me.

While I am only on page 3 of the 52 page Act (slogging through referenced Acts, Policies, and General Laws is quite confusing and tiring), I am most interested in the auctioning of carbon dioxide indulgences - the first in this country - in September. Once I understand how that works, I'll be sure to discuss it whilst eating my new diet of worms.

In the meantime, I'm so proud to be a member of the Greenest Community ever to be forced by government interference (about which the statists around me will no doubt turn around and scream "capitalism doesn't work" when this is representative of the free market system they rail against). I just can't remember where the Constitution states that "public convenience" is an American value. I must have been asleep. We must all be asleep.

Or drugged. That's my other thought. Drugs in the water. I'd better call in the community sewer diver.

Note: According to Massachusetts Legislative History:

Acts with emergency preambles usually provide for the measure to become effective immediately, but always in less than 90 days. Mass. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Ref. Pt. 2. An emergency preamble is standard language stating the general purpose of the act; the preamble concludes with the statement that this is an "emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience." The preamble must be adopted by both branches. In such cases, the act is effective upon the precise moment of the Governor's signature.

Well, that makes me feel much better.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dewey.

Almost everyday I get to learn something new (or, seems new to me if I’ve forgotten – effectively, the same) particularly when one of my children asks me a question.

Last night at the library, my daughter, apparently confounded by her inability to find a favorite Barbie fashion book in the non-fiction section, asked me “What do these mean?” She was referring to the posters at the end of each aisle which contained the list of numbers and subjects in accordance with the Dewey Decimal Classification system. With the ease of using the internet for research, and the lack of a physical card catalogue system to show her (a shocking discovery I made a few years back), I was more than happy to explain the DDC to her – in as much as I understood it. Much to my surprise, I didn’t even know this Dewey character’s first name was Melvil (as reported on the poster).

In looking a little further into the system, and Melvil Dewey’s background, I found some interesting information. The DDC rivals the Library of Congress Classification system, and is often thought to be better regarding ease of use and hierarchical abilities. By attempting to divide all knowledge into 10 main classes, each with 10 divisions, which in turn have 10 sections each, The Dewey Decimal system actually has an infinite ability to classify things by adding numbers after the decimal point. Fiction is included in the system (under literature, 810-900) it’s just usually put into a separate section of the library for convenience sake. Mr. Dewey parlayed an honorary job as an assistant librarian at Amherst College (where he attended school) into his life’s work. He developed his classification system there. He is also credited with the development of hanging vertical files. DDC is not generally used in academic libraries because of its top-down structure which is difficult to adopt new subject areas; however, it has been revised 22 times since its beginning and as a proprietary system, is now owned by Online Computer Library Center since 1988.

I find library sciences to be fascinating as they are basically how to collect, store, and integrate all the written information in the world. If you don't know something, you at least know where to look for the answer. That’s cool.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Leonardo DiCaprio is my friend.

At least that's how the Actor, Environmentalist greets me in his letter personally addressed to me and paid for by the Natural Resources Defense Council "The Earth's Best Defense". In this beseeching letter, Mr. DiCaprio, who is not really my friend, urges me to protect the polar bears. And I quote, "I'm proud to be counted as one of the nearly one million Americans who have already told the Bush Administration that polar bears desperately need -- and deserve -- full protection now."

In the accompanying letter by the NRDC, I am reminded of "...The muffled cries of newborn polar bear cubs as they are buried alive when their snowy den collapses from unseasonable rains." (bold, theirs)

It ends urging me to sign the Citizen Petition and tell the Interior Secretary the I object "to putting polluter profits before polar bear survival".

Not to be crass or callous, but WTF?

I do belong to some historic preservation trusts (private land trusts) so I understand why I get this type of mail. I just have to wonder, does this appeal to emotions about the false plight of a man-killing bear really generate a lot of cash?

I think I'll tally my religious (thanks homeschooling organizations) and environmental junk mail and tack on an extra $5 per piece to Man's Best Defense, ARI.

An Observation.

Have you ever noticed how those who would attempt to denigrate our exploitations of the earth by characterizing them as the "hubris of man" would never think to describe efforts to stop planetary cycles as such?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Challenge


Like the painters Bouguereau, and Sargent, singer Andrea Bocelli has been criticized as lacking talent in his chosen field. I challenge anyone who doesn’t speak Italian to listen to his version of Canto Della Terra. Does this man’s voice make anyone else cry?

(If you do speak Italian, all bets are off – I have no idea what he’s saying! It could be completely objectionable, but man, his voice is beautiful.)













Friday, July 4, 2008

They got it done.

Enjoy!



And this fun bit of non-PC pursuit of happiness!



This one is truly my favorite, but it is about the Preamble to the Constitution rather than the Declaration of Independence, so I'll leave it for you to follow on your own should you choose.

Thanks to Rational Jenn for reminding me of these gems.

The Declaration of Independence

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What do we do now?

In light of the recent conjoining of the wrong-headed ideology of both political candidates for POTUS, may I suggest the following course of action.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We're Jammin'

I spent the bulk of today with a few homeschool mother friends – jammin’.



Nope, not to Bob Marley, but with actual strawberries, rhubarb, sterilized jars, boiling with 1/8” of head space in the jar (really, my friend measured it), etc. It was really, really fun despite the incredible heat in the kitchen and our initial batch of strawberry rhubarb jam for which we forget to pre-cook the rhubarb but that mistake yielded a nonetheless delicious concoction we now lovingly refer to as Crunchy Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

From Whole Foods Market website, I found this funny tidbit about rhubarb:

Garden rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is an extremely hardy perennial herb closely related to garden sorrel. It is sometimes called "pie-plant" by Americans in deference to its eminence as a pastry filling. As an herb, rhubarb is botanically a vegetable but was officially ruled to be a fruit by the US Customs Court in 1947 because of its customary use in that capacity, an example, perhaps, of inappropriate judicial activism.

That’s funny.
And this:

A handful of sugar and a raw stalk of rhubarb is a pleasant memory for anyone fortunate enough to have had access to fresh rhubarb as a child.

I was one of those fortunate children. Rhubarb was my first lik-m-stix.

Tonight, after dinner, we enjoyed little crostinis with homemade butter topped with homemade strawberry rhubarb jam (the crunchy kind). YUM! And don't worry about our safety - one of us was an experienced jammer who was kind enough to share her expertise with the rest of us.

Blog Readability Test

blog readability test

Thanks to Kim, I submitted my blog for a "readability test".

That's an interesting idea, but I have to wonder, what words, or phrase combinations could I possibly have used to generate that "level of education required" to understand my blog?

Decisions, decisions

In researching whether or not shoddy safety practices in a germ warfare lab on an island off the northeast coast of the US unleashed a huge Lyme disease outbreak on us or not, I discovered this very interesting chat session between Tom Wolfe and Michael Gazzaniga regarding free will and the long path of neuroscience and the philosophy of the human condition. Being neither a philosopher nor a neuroscientist, but a rational human being, I found the discussion quite interesting.

Here they are chatting on video.

Just thought other “informavores” might want to check it out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Symbols

This afternoon as I was picking up our youngest daughter from theatre arts camp, I was accidently privy to an interesting conversation among the director of the play and three of the interns. As they are putting on a full musical production of Rogers and Hammerstein’s Sound of Music, they were discussing the use of the swastika. It seems that the management of the music school, out of which the play will be performed, is concerned that by using the symbol, they would be somehow promoting Nazism and offending Jewish people. The other side of the discussion supported the idea that by leaving out the swastika, they were, in effect, glossing over the Holocaust, which of course, was the entire conflict of the Sound of Music (sure – there’s the dead wife, the wild children, the forbidden love, and bad nunning, but you get the point).

I understood both sides of the discussion, but I had to agree that to leaving the swastika out of the production would be a mistake on many levels. First, it would dilute the main conflict of the play and squelch the triumph of good over evil. Secondly, it would be an attempt to sweep a horrendous historic event under the rug so that people are more comfortable, which makes no sense to me. Thirdly, and most importantly, it might make every child who is part of that company think that the “funny black spider” that "makes everyone nervous" (as they have all seen the 1965 Academy Award winner for Best Picture and know it is part of the story), is insignificant, when it is certainly not.

Each curious child should be informed of its meaning by his parents who can decide the right time, type, and amount of information to give that child. In the meantime, it should be enough to feel the audience (the adults in the room) tense when that symbol is worn or shown.

As an erstwhile graphic design student, I am extremely interested in symbols and icons and their importance. The swastika represents something that should never be ignored, glossed-over, or feared any longer. It should be seen as a symbol whose meaning is now synonymous with the Nazis reign of terror, the Holocaust. Anything less is an insult to the millions of innocent individuals who were systematically murdered under the ideology it represented.

My question: why doesn't the hammer and sickle evoke such an immediate reaction?