Friday, December 31, 2010

Twelve Months in Two Minutes 2010

I enjoyed making and viewing my video from last year so much that I decided to do it again.  You can't do much better for free music than the USAFB's rendition of Vivaldi's Winter!

Happy New Year, my friends.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sam Harris: A New Year of Magical Thinking

But I can't imagine that anyone seriously believes that the current level of wealth inequality in the United States is good and worth maintaining, or that our government's first priority should be to spare a privileged person like myself the slightest hardship as this once great nation falls into ruin.

This is a woefully wonderful encapsulation of the faulty logic and bad premises expressed throughout this piece of political, rather than principled, writing. The fact that it comes from a thinker I have truly admired makes it all the more disappointing. In it, Mr. Harris wrongly assumes that it is the proper role of government to grant rights and spare people hardships, rather than to protect individual rights (even those of rich people). He allows his political ideology to trump his thinking.
I can’t imagine that anyone seriously believes that someone is working to maintain wealth inequality!  People are striving to make and enjoy a certain lifestyle for themselves and their families through their own means and in accordance with their own values. Difference in wealth is not a matter of inequity or mere luck; to ignore the role of people’s actions as contributing to their own fortunes is to deny the existence of free will. This is something I am shocked to find supported by Mr. Harris. 
Throughout the article, he exposes his acceptance of magical thinking and original sin in inferring that those who have money are somehow guilty of trying to keep it.  By rightfully indicting wasteful government spending and failing public schools, but then suggesting that it is the duty of those with money to throw more of it into these systems for the children, Mr. Harris falls on the sword of altruism (living for others).  In true altruist fashion, he later impugns those same future children for consigning us all to oblivion if they don’t come up with new technologies, medical cures, and global industries. He suggests free college for all, so that they, too, may learn to rely on the largesse of government, feel the guilt of success, and sacrifice their values to others under the guidance of those whose better thinking can define the greater good for them rather than having to go through the bothersome process of deciding how to live best for themselves.
Finally, to equate one's appreciation for making his own decisions about his own life, i.e. the love of liberty, with a religious creed, the blind acceptance of something for which there is no evidence, is an abomination to this atheist.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Alleged Role of Government

On the short trip home from the gym this morning, I heard three interesting little tidbit news stories on our local “listener supported” classical radio station (listener supported is the heinous euphemism given to the classical station’s new owners: the government).

The first was about the chair lift accident at Sugarloaf Mountain.  In the brief, the radio announcer reported that the state safety inspectors had examined and approved the lift at the beginning of the year and that Sugarloaf staff allegedly inspected the lift each morning. 

Why the difference?  Are the state safety inspectors beyond reproach?  And what is the proof of their diligence? Official looking paperwork? Is the staff at Sugarloaf incompetent?  Are the workers all stoners who couldn’t possibly understand the proper working of a chair lift which contributes greatly not only to their incomes but also to their way of life? Did they lack the official paperwork?

The second story was about the apparently disconcerting color of the frozen Charles River. While we all know to not eat yellow snow, the appearance of yellow ice sparked a concern which could be calmed only by official government confirmation.  The state’s DEP tested the waters, found nothing irregular, and floated the theory that the high winds stirred up leaf detritus and tannins caused the water to freeze with a yellow tint.

Do we really need government confirmation for a phenomenon that we ought to be familiar with through general observation?  Are we that reliant on the “official” word that we have become a nation of people unable to do anything correctly, including think?

Finally, I heard, only partially, a story about the closing of some local courthouses. 

One of the very few things that our government was formed to do is to provide a framework to settle legal disputes. The courts are a necessary and proper role of government.  Allegedly, there isn’t enough money to fund them.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Middleton Family: My Kind of Propaganda

(From the Prelinger collection at

Don't bother hitting play unless you have an hour to spend on this delightful slice of 1939 America.  It was fun to watch even if I couldn't stand the kid protagonist.

From an original ad for the film,

Here's a family of folks you know - friends who live just around the corner from everyone. Doing the Fair - because that's what everyone is doing this year. Thrilled by its beauty . . . amazed at its wonders . . . the Middleton Family, from Everywhere, U.S.A.!

There are Babs and Bud, overflowing with the exuberance of 18 and 14 . . . romping through Wonderland like two kittens across a rug. There are Father Tom and Mother Jane, trying unsuccessfully to be calm and judicious about it all. And there's Grandma, whose eyes, bright with the memories of other Fairs, grow brighter still with the vision of a new Tomorrow for her dear ones.

Watch the pages of your favorite magazines for the diverting adventures of this lovable family. Better still, join them in person at the Great Court of the Westinghouse Building. A warm welcome awaits you - and a fascinating exhibit of electricity's greatest marvels.

Oh, yes. The entire film is one giant Westinghouse advertisement! But more than that, it lets us see some of the New York World's Fair of 1939 and, best of all, it pits the American spirit of capitalism and invention against the pseudo-intellectualism and hypocrisy of Marxism, both represented by two young suitors of the lovely, but confused Babs Middleton.

Don't worry, Babs makes out in the end, so to speak, by allowing her family to dispense with Mr. Makaroff, the scamming, sleazebag communist, and holding onto the arm of Jim, the Westinghouse engineer, as they gaze onto the singing tower of light. (I'm just not convinced that Babs'll be happy with the missionary position for the next 70 years.) 

Highlights include the exploration of the time capsule, Mrs. Modern vs. Mrs. Drudge dishwashing contest, and a WPA zinger from the 14 year-old.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Rifts

You can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

An old friend of mine used to say that and laugh hysterically afterward. Sure, it’s a goofy expression, but it has a point.  We have the ability to make important choices for ourselves. We can choose our friends based on a variety of reasons, we can choose how best to live our own lives, but we really can’t choose how others should live their lives.  In friendships, if conflicting values far outweigh the shared ones, we can choose to end the friendship or, if no clean break is necessary, simply let it fade away.

With family, it’s different. The same people keep coming around again making it nearly impossible to let it fade away, and a complete break with one person in a wider family is difficult to establish.  I was reminded of this problem recently. Within forty-eight hours I was an incidental party to two family rifts in two unrelated families.  While I’m one of the most intolerant people I know, and one who is seriously impressed with the principled fortitude required to initiate and maintain a major break with bad family members, I found that in both mentioned cases, no such principled stands were made.  Both prolonged breaks were based on the false morality of those supposedly offended.

What is more interesting to me is that after having witnessed passive-aggressive behavior of the wronged parties, with whom it appeared—through physical proximity—that I had sided by default, and genuine behavior of the would-be estranged parties, I have been able to come to some conclusions about both situations. These revelations certainly won’t change my daily life, but both situations did change the way I felt about the primary attackers who each made her immoral motivations clear by following her unjust actions with an attempt at obtaining my sanction of them.   

When your actions are just, you don't need to impress support for them. 

They are dead to me now. 

Okay, I’m only kidding about that part.  While I did not give my sanction to their unjust behaviors, I do not have enough motivation to attempt to set them straight. Their transgressions were not against me, or mankind in general, but both of them displayed that exact attitude toward the ones who supposedly offended them: because you have acted in a way contrary to my opinion, you are no longer a viable human being, let alone a member of my family. From my new vantage point, it appears that both estranged parties did nothing more than try to live their lives according to their own standards of value. It was those who held the “you’re dead to me now” attitudes who try to manipulate others to accept their petty prejudices and real injustices who were, and continue to be, wrong. Happily, the estranged parties have borne their alienation well; they have neither budged toward adopting the false moral codes attempted to be foisted upon them, nor have they run to hide in unearned shame.

Bully for them and not the bullies.  

As for my old friend, instead of her nose, she picked Jesus Christ, and chose to simply fade away. That is a decision I can respect.  

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What Christmas Cookie Hangover?

Is it possible for muscles to atrophy within seven days? 
I hadn’t been to the gym since Monday and I felt weak – weak, I tell you! The only lifting I’ve done in a week is moving those various, Christmas-shaped, half-ounce forms of brightly-colored, refined-sugar sweetened, processed wheat flour from the plate to my lips (frankly, I’m surprised I haven’t sustained a repetitive motion injury)! By this morning, I was clearly experiencing the effects of an over-indulgent, low-energy, bad-attitude cookie hangover.
Setting out for the gym during snow flurries this morning only contributed to my artificially-induced Christmas cookie high. Nearing the gym, however, I began to fear the particular manifestations of the loss of strength due to lack of practice and bad eating habits. I wondered if, while attempting a push-up, one’s wrists could actually snap under the hulking weight of additional Christmas cookies body mass.
I still don’t know if such snapping is possible, but I’m happy to report not only did my wrists not snap during push-ups, but I was able to accomplish two things I’d never done before!
  • Working up to 4x145# back squats!
  • Completing 3 double unders – oh, not in a row! (And I’m expending too much energy by jumping too high – but it’s a start!)
It may have been my new gym gear (shirt and water bottle), or perhaps, as suggested by the trainer, it was the week of rest. I know only that it wasn’t the cookies. Blech. (Don’t get me wrong – they were delicious, just left me feeling bloated and logy.)
Next year ( at the new digs!!!), I hope to attempt, if not get good at this and this and certainly much better at this.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

3 Good Things (More Merry Makers edition)

1. Snow. Finally.

Last night, while we decorated gingerbread cookies, we were treated to the sight of a lovely winter wonderland out of our back windows. We had to get out in it and stop the snow action with flash (in this photo I am sporting the magic scarf and ever-popular Seussian Santa hat).

2. Red Delicious. This holiday season’s cocktail of choice.

The red delicious is another Danny Meyer concoction straight out of last year's Mix Shake Stir: apple brandy, apple liqueur, apple cider, crème de cassis, lemon juice, cinnamon sugar rim, star anise garnish. It is as lovely to look at as it is delightful to drink. (Hint for entertaining: I divided the shaker contents into two and used small martini glasses.  A perfect potent potable present.)

3. Good ideas. Good work.

Upon seeing some cute glitter paintings at the American Textile History Museum  last week, I was struck by how reminiscent the paintings were of costumes from the Nutcracker. Having a niece who danced the part of Clara this year, I had an idea for a one of a kind Christmas present and a husband who was able to beautifully execute my vision. (It stressed him only mildly to not flesh-out the dancer.) What the picture lacks in contrast, the painting makes up for in ever-changing reflections of sparkly delight.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Health Insurance Mandates: Another In A Long Line Of Abuses & Usurpations

[I am pleased to offer today's post by guest blogger, Bettina Romberg. - Lynne]

The Governments of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have enacted laws mandating that health insurance plans pay for bone marrow donor testing. They passed this law with the intended purpose that bone marrow registries find more donors, and therefore, save more lives. The major donor registry operating in these three states is the Caitlin Raymond International Registry, a non-profit bone marrow donor registry organization at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center. The Registry was recently placed under investigation for allegedly charging above-average rates for testing claims to health insurance companies. Cities such as Manchester, New Hampshire have found that the city worker’s health insurance plan has been charged $4,000 per person. Harvard Pilgrim and Blue Cross Blue Shield also stated that the number of requests for the test had tripled in 2009 and is expected to triple again by the end of 2010. What is behind this story?

It turns out that these news stories are not stating that the Registry is being investigated for its charges or insurance fraud. It is being investigated for trying to increase the number of donors by hiring models to stand at their kiosks set up in shopping malls and sports venues to ask passers-by if they would like to register to become a donor and save a child’s life. The attorneys general of Massachusetts and New Hampshire are concerned about the use of models as donor recruiters because “they question whether people who sign up at a sports event or a mall, lured by a flirtatious model, are fully prepared to go through with the often painful transplant procedure if asked.” (Liz Kowalczyk,, December 18, 2010). In other words, the attorneys general offices allege that when people see an attractive woman speaking to them, they suspend all judgement and just sign anything.

The reason this investigation started is due to the insurance companies that saw a surge in these tests, and are forced to pay for them. But rather than questioning the wisdom of the law, and whether or not this kind of a law should have been enacted at all, the Government is conducting this investigation under the banner of “public safety”.

Which represents the violation of rights?

One has to ask-- why? Why would the government start an investigation on non-essential, peripheral issues?

Forcing health insurance to pay for donor testing evidently is just another in a long line of abuses and usurpations that our nanny Government has placed on the health insurance industry. Not only does my health insurance premium pay for bone marrow donor testing at the mall, but it also covers drug and alcohol abuse treatment and other bad lifestyle choices like cigarette smoking and the effects of driving drunk et cetera. My own choices of how I choose to live my life do not matter. I still have to pay for these abuses. The insurance companies are in fact forbidden by law to tailor insurance packages to the real requirements of its customers. This is so that Government remains empowered to issue arbitrary laws to make mandatory claims on insurance companies that are responsible for skyrocketing health insurance costs. In other words, rather than penalizing people for their unhealthy choices, the rest of us are forced to cover those who make these poor decisions about their lifestyles.

The story around the Registry points at the heart of the problem. First, it is an easily identified single target for a witchhunt. Further, it is interesting to note that the true meaning of the Government’s aim is carefully distorted and evaded by the investigation. What is cleverly disguised here are the results of Government meddling in the private decisions of private individuals into their own health and lives as if a citizen is a Government subject with no rights to his own life.


- Bettina Romberg

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Snow Paint

Streaking the streets
Daubing the yards
Highlighting the trees
Coating the roofs

A palette of white,
Opalescent in day,
Without animating light,
Turns shades of gray.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa Baby, Slip an ROUS* Under the Tree, For Me

It just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
Have you seen the fashion world’s new guilt-free fur source, the nutria? Once worn by such luminaries as Greta Garbo and Liz Taylor, it’s enjoying a resurgence due to rebranding.

The nutria, commonly known as a swamp rat, is now the poster pest of misguided efforts to square man’s use of his world with its jealous and cruel goddess, Gaia. Check out the Righteous Fur logo:
It seems the problem is that even with their attempts at making fur “guilt-free” by explaining the rodents’ environmentally destructive habits, the House of Yes, who hosted the Nutria Fashion Show in November received some uncomplimentary comments from those who abhor the non-furry's use of fur – period.
So they did what any self-respecting arts space and venue would do – they held a We’re Sorry – Let’s Get Naked party. 
While their tongue-in-cheek reasons for holding the follow-up event is somewhat amusing, I find the original concession of guilt-inducing fashion even more disturbing than the giant, orange-toothed rodents themselves.  
Size comparison of nutria and man
I truly can’t imagine a nutria pelt ever being as beautiful and luxurious as that of a silver fox, but I would certainly wear it if it were really soft, warm, and attractive. Provided, of course, that I could get the smell of the Fire Swamp out of it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

3 Good Things (Christmas Spirit Makers edition)

1. The Glee Christmas Album. The Island of Misfit Toys (aka: the Most Wonderful Day of the Year) is worth the price of admission.

2. White Christmas - on DVD!  Oh, yeah! Give it up for replacing VHS with DVD! (Let me live in my pre-Blu-Ray glory days for a moment, would you?)

3. Finding a magical scarf and buying one for every woman on my list (nearly - they were sold out when I went back for the third time, fifth scarf today).  What makes it magical? It glitters subtly and sounds a little like icy snow tinkling against the windows when it moves. Who could ask for anything more from a neck warmer?

Friday, December 17, 2010

That’s sad.

I could hardly believe it! That was my daughter’s initial reaction upon seeing that our local ski area had used snow machines to cover the “mountain” in white.

Instead of asking what she could have possibly meant by that, I began to lecture her on the achievement of man-made snow, about the business of running a ski area, and on the exceptional ingenuity of man. I then questioned her, rapid-fire of course, if she’d rather see cave people dancing naked around a campfire chanting to the snow gods, if she’d rather the ski area was boarded up and closed, how she could possibly see man-made snow as sad.

I like snow that comes down from the sky.  I like to walk around in it.


Still – I went on to explain the difference between the lovely serendipity of walking in the snow, which I also enjoy, and the business considerations of a ski area. I quickly began to question why I became so animated at her initial reaction.

There are too many people who hold the attitude that man-made is bad and nature is always better.  While we continue to use and study nature in order to discover how best to use it, there is nothing sacred about it. Nature is neither good nor bad, it just is.

There is something sacred, however, about man’s ability to use his mind in order to shape his environment.

The only thing sad about it is the relative scarcity of those of us who have that reverence.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Tree WOD

Scour every inch of 25 acre tree farm for the perfect tree, count RTR (rejected tree reps). Once found, take as many pictures of people you love in front of said tree. Try to exceed last year’s number.

Saw through tree trunk for time.  For added agility trial, don’t yell timber, see who gets clobbered and who can move like lightning.  Wrap and carry tree to car (men). Try to maneuver through stump-filled field without breaking ankle (women). Drag tree into house, throw in stand, screw the crap out of the four rusty stand screws into the stem for stability.


Wrap each child's new ornament with care and different color organza ribbon. Pull out all ornaments collected over twenty-eight years, hand-made and mass-marketed, handling all as if completely valuable. Using all your strength of character, pass out to children in equally metered fashion admiring each appropriately for time. Open new ornaments. Find schedule for tree-top angel placement within four seconds of when the bickering starts.

Cool Down
Recline on nearest soft horizontal surface and “oooh” when the lights are turned on. Listen to Lunar Rover Vehicle ornament recording and Tim Burton music over and over again.

This year, I’m proud to announce a PR in our Christmas Tree preparations. It is lovely and was completed in record time and with good cheer despite some harrowing circumstances.

Now if I could only get going with a mail merge envelope print and Holiday Newsletter WOD, we’d be all set.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dress Making Design Magic

Today I went with the girls and a friend to the American Textile History Museum to see an exhibit of Betsy Bloomingdale’s collection of haute couture. While fashion trends interest me because their sophistication, beauty, formality, playfulness, or lack thereof reflect social attitudes of a time, haute couture fascinates me because each dress is the physical embodiment of an original idea designed and created to dress a particular woman.   

While the dresses are fancy and pretty, I find the design illustrations very attractive.  But it is seeing the apparent transformation from an idea sketched on paper to a body wrapped in silk in the very form of that idea that gives me quite a thrill.

From this:

To this:

From this:
To this:

It’s a little bit of creative magic.
To read more about the exhibit, and to see a slide show from whence these pictures came, see this WSJ article.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

3 Good Things (Little Bits of Random Joy edition)

1.   If you Ask Jeeves why are children educated at home you see an immediate set of excellent reasons as eloquently expressed by Lisa VanDamme and as reported in this very blog.

2.   Field testing cold water wash-and-wear wool (they’re still working out some snags).

3.   I have recently discovered that the less I volunteer, the more I hug. Who would have guessed? Watch out world - this could get scary.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Since I might not get a chance to print and send in time this year, here's a little holiday greeting from me to you. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Memere: Lamentation and Celebration

Song for Athene was written for a young woman who died in an accident, and was used as the recessional in Princess Diana's funeral. 

I herein dedicate it to my mother-in-law who died Wednesday evening.

Nearly two years after having been told she had perhaps six months to live, she surpassed all expectations -- not by merely outlasting medical predictions, but by her determination to live every minute fully and bravely.

While the Tavener piece speaks of Christian afterlife, its spirituality lies in the grandeur of life itself: man's creative mind. For me, the slow, four-part harmony and droning mournful sound nearly perfectly express the wrenching sadness of dying and the finality of death.  

More importantly, however, I have terrific memories of this subtly feisty, quietly wise, and generously caring woman. And while I knew her from the time I was very young, I was not then privy to her thoughts and desires (she was known to me only as the library assitant at our Catholic elementary school and mother of those boys). Having since become one of those dear to her, I choose to celebrate her life by remembering her this way:


Happily held in the arms and eyes of her best friend.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crowding Out Individual Rights

In an egalitarian effort to level the playing field, statists make claims on any source of wealth imaginable as belonging, at least partially, to the government. These claims are not for themselves, of course, but so that all men may live equally.  This government-sponsored equality under all conditions rather than equal under the law creates legalized theft of private property and an effective denial of free will.

While Congress debates extending the Bush tax cuts, some strange commentary is coming out regarding those who do not think that grabbing more private funds to fuel public programs is a good way to get the economy back on track. What sounds the loudest gong in the cacophony is that the government can’t afford the tax cuts. What exactly does that mean?

The government does not create wealth; it operates by taking money from those who do.  But why should those who make more money (i.e. create more wealth) have to give a proportionally larger amount of their earnings to the government?  How are they being treated equally under the law?

They’re not. 

And yet it seems to satisfy a terrific portion of the population that those who earn over $250,000 a year can not only afford to pay the extra taxes, they should.  If not them, then certainly those who make over $1,000,000 – right? Who, but a millionaire, would deny that a millionaire could afford to pay a little extra into the kitty? And why should we non-millionaires care?

The real question is who has the right to determine when you have made enough money for yourself and now owe a greater debt to society?  It would seem that we, through the election of our congressmen, have consented to grant that determination to the government. 

Bombarded by the loose use of the word equal as it applies to legal status, we have fallen prey to the false idea that equal under the law is the same as equal under all conditions, regardless of whether or not we have chosen those conditions through our own actions.

Ask Mr. Brunvand, an attorney for a murder suspect who successfully argued to have the court pay for $125 a day make-up job for his client.  Why?  Because his client decorated himself with a swastika and other offensive tattoos on visible parts of his body. Mr. Brunvand says this makes it difficult for his client to receive a fair trial.

While the move to pretty up a man accused of murder might seem bizarre, defense lawyers like Mr. Brunvand say they fight an uphill battle every day in court: though the law requires that juries see every defendant as innocent until proved guilty, they say, jurors are generally more likely to see someone who has been arrested as guilty.

And if you make more than $250,000 a year, you are automatically guilty of having more money than you need, regardless of your efforts to earn it. 

When the government determines the limits of our aspirations, it leaves no room for liberty.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Little Holiday Bubbly

A different take on that delightful Anne Taintor style.

(via Bad Banana Blog)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

We’ll Always Have Lake Placid

This morning at our CrossFit gym, we did some crazy-ass, modified 4-station, 3-round Fight Gone Bad thing. (For definition of CrossFit Terms, see here – and while you’re there, check out some of the hero workouts.)
At each station, you did as many repetitions of the exercise as possible in one minute, then moved to the next station. After you hit all four in four minutes, you rested for one minute and did it all over again, and then again!  The stations were the push-press (a personal weakness and therefore something I had worked on during warm-ups just prior to reading the WOD on the whiteboard – that’ll teach me), sit-ups, dumbbell clean and squats, and a 10-lb. slam ball.
So I used the empty bar. So what? My arms were tired, I tell ya, and 45 lbs. is nothing to sneeze at when you have one functionally incompetent arm! Then I did sit-ups with the ABMAT, clean and squats with 20 lb. dumbbells, and then slammed the slam ball.  Frankly, for reasons I don’t even care to explore, I usually find the slam ball inordinately fun.  But after two rounds I could barely get the ball up to my head. With a little encouragement and some reminders to breathe, I finished all three rounds.
Wow! That was fun.
But the title of my post refers to the healthy competition I have going with my husband who joined me in this morning’s workout.  Happily, we were not partners because that might not have worked out so well as we both forgot the steps involved in a clean and squat. You see, first, there’s the clean (getting the weight to your shoulders), then, there’s the squat.  As simple as that seems, neither of us seemed to be able to remember it in real time. (Hypoxia’ll do that, said my trusty teammate, Tim, who modeled what I was supposed to be doing as he counted off my reps.)  In turn, I just jeered at Stephen when he forgot. (Tim is clearly a better man than I.)
When we totalled the reps I came in at 223 and Stephen a mere 222.  Oh well. If he had only known, he assured me, he would have been able to pull off another repetition of something!
On the way home he said, “It’s Lake Placid all over again.”  It took me a while to rolodex through my scant Lake Placid connections: 1980s USA Hockey Team? Bad horror flick?  Ah-ha! That time we shot a fake biathlon rifle at an old Olympic site and I hit 5/5 targets and he hit 4/5! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bring in the Face

Today’s post is prompted by this ad,
Coupled with this article.  So without further ado . . .
I am proud to introduce you to the face of electricity generation: My favorite scientist, the one, the only, Michael Faraday.
Just look at him.
A few years ago I became mildly obsessed with Mr. Faraday, requesting three books about him for Christmas, but that's a story for another time.

Mr. Faraday was a self-taught scientist who discovered the connection between electricity and magnetism, electromagnetic induction, which paved the way for all electric motors. He was of very high, albeit religious in foundation, moral character and maintained a tremendous drive to understand the natural world.  His tradition of giving children’s Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institution remains to this day.  In short, he is a scientific god (although I’m certain he would be displeased at the appellation).
But I would be remiss if I did not bring in another face: that of Sir Charles Algernon Parsons, inventor of the steam turbine.

While I’m barely warm towards the image of Sir Parsons, it in no way diminishes my appreciation of his achievement regarding the development of the heat engine used in generating over 80% of the world’s electricity.

Contrary to the exhortations of the politicians and greenies, let alone the horrific combination of the two, it’s not about the gloss of getting the message out, but rather about life-sustaining productive work.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Condoms on Cucumbers

It’s not just an exercise in health class anymore.  It’s for your own good.
The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act  bill (approved text starts on page 120) passed the Senate this week.  This bill, in addition to expanding the powers of the FDA and calling for more tax dollars to be used in effecting its provisions, is proposed to protect us from our dangerous, dangerous produce.  I’m not a farmer, a vegan, a healthy eating militant, or even a CSA member (yet), but even I know this is a very bad thing.
A few weeks ago, I wrote to my Senators to let them know that it really wasn’t their job to protect me from the slight possibility of food poisoning at the very real expense of food production and distribution in our country.  I thanked them for their service, but told them I would far prefer if they spent their time and efforts reeling in the crushing colossus of capricious government spending and protecting, rather than violating, my individual rights.
As one my Senators is John Kerry, I didn’t really expect much, and that’s what I got.  Senator Brown surprised me, however, by responding with the following:
    Recent news stories have brought to light the contamination of our food supply and illustrate the need to take steps to ensure the safety of the food we eat.  This is critically important not only for the people of our state, but also for the nation.

     On March 3, 2009, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.  This legislation gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authority and resources as well as updates standards, all to ensure the safety of our food supply.  Specifically, this legislation would increase the Commissioner of the FDA’s ability to allocate inspection resources for high risk food facilities and enhances food-borne illness surveillance systems.  In addition, S. 510 would require these facilities to develop and put in place plans to address identified hazards and prevent their spread.  The bill would also require food importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food.

     On December 18, 2009, S. 510 was reported out of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and currently awaits further consideration by the full Senate.   Please be assured that as the legislative process moves forward, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that S. 510 meets the needs of Massachusetts and carefully examine any amendments that are proposed.

What I get from his first paragraph is that based on anecdotal evidence, the FDA needs more power to stop the rampant food deaths I’ve not been hearing so much about. Most frightening is that the FDA doesn’t need proof, only “reason to believe” that something is of danger. (Thereby codifying tactics right out of the State Science Institute in Atlas Shrugged.)
23 (a) IN GENERAL. - Section 304(h)(1)(A) (21 U.S.C.24 334(h)(1)(A)) is amended by
(1) striking ''credible evidence or information indicating'' and inserting ''reason to believe'';
From the second paragraph, I understand the Act would “increase the ability to allocate inspection resources,” i.e. more tax dollars going toward more government jobs. I also understand that the “high risk food facilities” to be those not currently in bed with the government.
Meets the needs of Massachusetts?  Who does he think he’s kidding?
This is another naked power grab by a gigantic government bureaucracy, driven by fear, welcomed under the statist premise that we need the government to protect us from ourselves! 
More than that, if passed, this bill will crush some small farms, limit our food choices, and easily make criminals out of produce farmers who can’t meet the regulatory requirements, but continue to try to earn a living by selling their stock.  One thing is for sure: the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is not about food safety.  (Good article from Natural News.)

The proper function of government is limited to the protection our individual rights: to be free of force and fraud used against us. It is a violation of those rights when our government hands out prophylactics, regardless of whether they're to be used in our ardor or larder.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Because It's My Blog

This is a personal blog. Therefore, I am herein making some personal updates in reference to some past posts.
We are now totally smitten with Veronica Mars. Thanks, Kelly.
Marilyn Monroe’s dressing was the highlight of my Thanksgiving meal – and I don’t even like stuffing!  Perhaps I was better off without this newfound crunchy, crispy, savory, traditional Thanksgiving delight.
I have gotten stuck in a deep squat position under the weight bar, fallen backwards with the bar in a front rack position (I dropped it a little lower on the way back so I didn’t strangle myself), and tripped on my own feet onto the jump box (that happened this morning), all without hurting myself. These are all possible examples that my intensity stinks, or as I prefer to think of it, that CrossFit is fun!
And finally, because once it’s in there, Catholicism never dies –
Take this, all of you, and make t-shirts from it.  This is the work of my Adobe and it will be shared with you and all men so that values may be worn. Do this on mammary or lee (other side).

Thanks for the suggested addition, Jenn

Saturday, November 27, 2010

3 Good Things (Teenage Daughter edition)

1.   Will teach you how to Dougie, and the difference between it and some other thing you have no hope of remembering. (I didn’t say she was a good teacher, or that I am a good student.)
2.   Will introduce you to musical acts you never knew existed. (And some you may wish didn’t exist, at least not on her iPod.)
3.   Will drive you to the store with the confidence of veteran driver having over 25 years of experience. (Of course without the benefit of having even 25 months of actual driving experience to support said confidence.)
Yes, I know this is not the intended use of a Good Things list, but I really needed to explore these issues in a more positive form than periodically shouting expletives from the passenger’s seat.
Speaking of teenage daughters, this is the time of year that some high schools support the girls playing typically male-dominated sports under the Powderpuff  banner.  My daughter played on her senior powderpuff football team last week and grabbed three flags.  Her technique was impressive and can be best summed up something like this: if I stand here, they’re bound to pass by me, and I can just grab the flag then.  Sadly, it seemed to work for her.
Here is a brief exhibit of how teenage girls play football.  They don’t get fancy, they just get dance-y.

That is all.

You may return to your regular holiday weekend blog surfing now.