Saturday, December 31, 2011

Questions for the New Year

1. The Republican House of Representatives are not "obstructionists." Here is a link to their votes in the second half of December 2011. They've gotten more done in two weeks than President Obama has accomplished in three years. Why can't they communicate that effectively to the voting public?

2. Can you cash a check without identification? Neither can I. Requiring ID for voting, which is the most important act in a free society, should be a no-brainer. "Brain" being the operative word. Why is this hard?

3. President Obama has golfed for the equivalent of three months since taking office in January 2009. Yet he says Americans have gotten "soft and lazy." What's wrong with this picture?

Happy New Year. Can I vote now?

Friday, December 30, 2011


Unbroken was on my Christmas list, and I must have been a good girl this past year. I received it as one of my gifts and have been ripping through it since December 26.

Today I have less than one-third of the book to finish reading, and I can recommend it highly to anyone who has an interest in riveting stories, excellent writing, vivid history, wartime cruelty, the enduring strength of the human spirit, the brave actions of inspiring people, or any combination of the above.

There's a reason this book, published in 2010, continues to populate numerous best seller lists. The one-time Olympic runner Louie Zamperini's story, as told by the incomparable American author Laura Hillenbrand, will grip you from the first page of the preface and not let go. I've heard Mr. Zamperini interviewed on the radio--he's now a cheerful, chatty 94-year old whose sunny attitude and sense of humor belie the extensive horrors he endured nearly 70 years ago.

Unbroken is an American story, but it's also a universally appealing story of faith, determination, and triumph over evil's deepest darkness. If you aren't one of the millions of readers who have already done so, treat yourself to an enthralling read with Unbroken.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Prayer for Obama

I've heard there's an interesting bumper sticker showing up on the road, although I've not yet seen it. The sticker says "Pray for Obama" and cites a Bible verse: Psalm 109:8.

Curious about the cryptic message, I turned to the reference in my KJV Bible, and here's what I read in Psalm 109, verse 8:

"Let his days be few,
And let another take his office."


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tebow or Not Tebow?

It's a truism that we never know what the next day will bring. For two Long Island teenagers, a recent school day swept them up into a totally unexpected media hurricane.

Connor and Tyler Carroll, my nephews and godsons, are riding the whirlwind of overblown publicity that has engulfed what I view as a clear case of boys being boys.

The hallway prank at Riverhead High School took on "a life of its own," as Connor said. Dozens of classmates joined the fun, and the twins found themselves abruptly suspended for one day. Oops.

The school's justification, that the kneeling throngs were creating a safety hazard, is reasonable. But a heads up to the kids would have been the mature thing to do. The administrators are the grownups here. Why be so reactionary?

I spoke with the boys this morning, grateful that aunty could find a time slot available on their busy media interview schedule. I told them both to have fun with this unexpected adventure and also to try to fly under the radar for the rest of the school year. They're seniors, heading for college next year, and really don't need the aura of controversy surrounding the application process.

One never knows what the next day will bring. For Tyler and Connor, who knows? Maybe the first step to a career in sports.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Fading into History

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Bowing to the passage of time, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association disbands at the end of this month. This ending was inevitable, but it is still sad.

A living connection to such a historic event makes it seem more real and vivid. As the last of the Pearl Harbor survivors pass on, we will be left with second hand recountings that can never fully capture the impact.

"Remember Pearl Harbor!" will soon become a whispered plea from the past rather than a battle cry for the present. To all who died that day, may you ever rest in peace. To the few loyal survivors who still honor the memories of their fallen fellow servicemen, thank you always.

Photo: Hugh Gentry, Reuters
Video: YouTube

Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Obama Lessons

Victor Davis Hanson's recap of what President Obama has taught us--unintentionally--in the past three years is not to be missed. It's cheerless reading, but it's so important to note the primary source of our current national travails.

November 2012 can not come soon enough.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Preoccupied by Emotion

Being of a certain age, I remember the Vietnam War years well. So many people have remarked to me that the Occupy Wall Street (OSW) hoards are “like the 60s.”

I think not. There is at least one glaring difference between the grungy ‘60s war protestors and the current OSW crop--in the ‘60s, we knew what we were protesting.

Some of my contemporaries railed against the government; others fumed against the military itself. The personal approaches may have varied, but the result was the same: a protestor who had a grasp of his or her issue.

My objection was never to the military per se. Even in my ignorant youth, I respected our troops, although not with the soaring gratitude and appreciation I feel today. The source of my teen-aged protest was focused and specific.

Back then, we did not have a volunteer military force as we do today. Military service was compulsory during the Vietnam War. The draft age was eighteen, but the legal voting age was twenty-one. The fact that young men were being ordered to serve in the military by a political system that allowed them no voice in choosing their elected government representatives was outrageous to me. And so, I carried my candle and marched to the tune of “We Shall Overcome.” With the passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971, 18-year-olds were given the right to vote, and the vehemence of my opposition softened. We had overcome, so to speak. I still objected to the war, but I believed that some sense of fairness had been achieved.

Today’s protestors have a more nebulous case. In fact, I have yet to hear any of them coherently articulate any concrete source of their discontent. They're simply ticked off about the economy. Well, who isn't? Ask any working person with a 401(k) account how he or she likes how things are going financially. They're not happy, but they're not pitching personal tents on public property (probably because they need to get up and go to work in the morning).

The best interpretation I can make of the the OWS movement is that they are against “the rich,” “greed,” and “corporations.” I find it ironic that they spend their copious idle time surfing through their Androids, iPhones, iPads, and iPods--all produced by rich, greedy corporations. I also wonder how many of them grew up being housed, clothed, and fed by paychecks issued to one or both of their parents by rich, greedy corporations.

If there is a disconnect, obviously the Occupiers don’t see it. Has there been abuse of power by those at the top of large corporations? Have they been dishonest and greedy? Yes, absolutely, the guilty parties have without a doubt been abusive, dishonest, and greedy--and all of us have suffered mightily for it. We are still reeling from the corruption and unethical behavior of American financial and mortgage institutions. The offending organizations have not even begun to offer sufficient amends for the damage they have wrought. They just keep taking. On that point, I'm with the protestors.

But there are further questions worthy of consideration by any thinking OWS protestor--"thinking" being the operative word.

How many ordinary working people in the "99%" have been negatively affected by the OWS protests? I’m talking about fellow citizens who are working office jobs in the business districts of America, the middle class employees making an average salary, supporting a family, and facing a gauntlet of protestors each morning trying to reach their desks. How many mom-and-pop shops and cafes that used to serve busy workers have seen their business slow to a crawl and watched their incomes shrink or disappear because of the protestors’ obnoxious presence? Why do the OWS protestors assume that they have the "right" to cause difficulty, even harm, to small business owners and working fellow citizens with their noise, disruption, and mess? These are questions that every thoughtful person should examine on a rational--not an emotional--level.

One more question--how much taxpayer money is all the law enforcement and cleanup activities costing the working citizens?

The photo of Zuccotti Park in this post was taken by my niece, who works in Manhattan’s financial district. She told me that one day her boss walked into the park full of protestors, in his designer suit, to talk to them one-on-one. A particular young man impressed him as having intelligence and real potential. The executive gave his business card to the protestor and told him, “When you get over your daddy issues, give me a call.” Within days, the protestor did just that.

It's a reality of life that, sooner or later, all of the Wall Street Occupiers will need to grow up.

Honoring the Horse Soldiers

The statue is of a soldier in action, riding horseback in the line of duty. He's in uniform and outfitted in full gear. He appears to be turning to call to his fellow troops.

This monument is not commemorating the American conflict in the 18th century, the Revolutionary War, or the 19th century's War Between the States. This statue depicts a Green Beret ten years ago, at the start of the Afghanistan war following September 11, 2001.

It's true that we learn something new each day--if we pay attention. I had never known that the first troops in the current war rode horseback in the rugged landscape of Afghanistan.

"It was as if the Jetsons had met the Flintstones," said Captain Will Summers, former Special Forces team sergeant for the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), as his team linked up and operated with members of the Afghan Northern Alliance just weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

The horse soldiers are just one of the many quiet background stories that underscore the dedication and resourcefulness of our military heroes. It is gratifying to know that their story has been captured in bronze and positioned for all to see, standing close by the site of the Twin Towers that were destroyed on 9/11.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Remember Our Troops

As we enter the holiday season, please remember our heroes serving overseas. Visit Soldiers' Angels website to learn the many ways you can express your appreciation to one of our troops.

We don't hear much about the war today, but the members of the military who are fighting it still need our support. This week, as we celebrate freedom as one of our many blessings, we should pause to offer thanks for every man and woman serving in our U.S. Armed Forces.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Older is Better

The Catholic Church has a lot going on lately. For one thing, it's got a television mini-series this month. It looks like quite an involved production. I'm looking forward to watching "Catholicism" on PBS, which is a noble film-making effort that traces the history of the church. But wait, there's more.

The last Sunday in November, the Catholic Church will implement the third translation of the Roman missal. This has been a huge happening. Catholic parishes across the country have had their congregations "practicing" for months, learning the new translations of the ancient prayers said during Mass. The new translation is promised to be "more true to the original Latin."

Really? No kidding. I recognized the "new" verbiage immediately. All I had to do was open the St. Joseph Sunday Missal I received from my parents when I was in grade school; it was published in 1960. On the left side of each page appears the Latin prayer. On the right side, there's the English translation--and with very few exceptions, it's verbatim to the "new" translation being implemented this month.

So what's up? I'm no religious expert, but I think the Catholic Church took its eye off the ball forty years ago, when it "modernized" the Gospel and prayer translations for the interactive Mass. I remember my poor Dad was beside himself at the changes. He felt the trendy wording was a desecration and lost heart for going to church. And now, it turns out that father knew best. The Church is going back to the wording it used over fifty years ago.

My parish bulletin this week noted that, in our faith, Catholics accept that "these changes are inspired by the Holy Spirit." Yes, of course I accept that. But I can't help wondering if Dad had something to do with this...

(If the church starts talking about a return to the Latin Mass, I'll know for sure.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

With Thanks to Veterans

Happy Veterans Day to all the U.S. military veterans in my life, and thank you for your service.

U.S. Army: my friends Skip and Sgt. Kent

U.S. Marines: my brother Jim, my friends Bud, Robert, and Jimmy

U.S. Navy: my brother Ken, my friends Dave, Dwight, and Rick

To all my troops that I have supported through Soldiers' Angels, to all our troops deployed throughout the world, and to all those veterans who have served in the past ~ we would not be the great country we are without your courage and dedication.


Image: The Woodland Group

Monday, November 07, 2011

What's the News?

I remember when President Nixon claimed “executive privilegeover information relating to the Watergate scandal and refused to answer questions about the eighteen minutes gone missing from Oval Office tapes, among other negative situations.

The MSM was practically hysterical with outrage. Dan Rather, that bastion of journalistic integrity, led the media hordes in
demanding an explanation. The chorus of feverish indignation was everywhere—in the newspaper headlines, on television news, in Congress. After months of non-stop media coverage, the beleaguered Nixon was forced to resign from office.

How times have changed.

Today we have a president invoking executive privilege
by refusing to release documents that have been subpoenaed by House of Representatives Republicans in an investigation of the Solyndra scandal, which wasted over half a billion dollars of taxpayer money. The President of the United States is “not expected to comply,” according to The Hill.

You’d think that might be a big story, wouldn’t you? So, what are today’s headlines?

Well, let’s see. On Google News, the top story is that Michael Jackson’s doctor has been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, a decision evidently so vital to our national interest that it leads the news. Another woman has stepped forward to accuse Herman Cain of sexual harassment, a predictable development that must have enormous influence on the urgent issues of our day. Justin Bieber will take a paternity test--gee, that’s a load off my mind. An asteroid will pass close to Earth tomorrow. Stocks are up a bit. Obama would beat a GOP opponent, according to an NBC poll, which reminds me why I watch cable news.

Solyndra? Hmmm. Nope, don’t see it. Let’s enter it as a search word, shall we? Ah yes, here we go. There’s a link to NY Times Paul Krugman calling Solyndra “a victim of success.”
Even for Krugman, that’s a stretch. There is also news on the Solyndra inventory items being sold at auction and articles decrying “Solar Under Siege.”

I see nothing further about the president refusing to produce subpoenaed documents. What a surprise.

But wait! At the very bottom of the page of search results, there’s a link to a poll showing 63% of Americans think the White House should comply with the House request.
Well, duh.

Wasn’t this going to be “the most open and transparent” administration in history?
Good luck with that. I, for one, am waiting for next year with great “hope” that a gigantic “change” is coming on Election Day.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Surprises of Trust

I'm currently reading a book that a coworker loaned to me. He is a spiritual guy, and often when he finds a book that touches his soul, he asks me to read it, too, so we can talk about it.

The book is Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God, by Brennan Manning. It's a short book, less than two hundred pages, but it's very profound in presenting the premise that trust in God is the key to a happy life.

As I read, there have been a couple of surprises. In the early pages, I learned that the author attended seminary at my college. Since my school was a tiny Catholic institution tucked far away in rural mountains, that was somewhat startling. I'm in Chapter 10 now, which includes an excerpt from another book, Balancing Heaven and Earth by Robert Johnson.

It's the story of a monk who had been a tumbler in the circus before he joined the monastery. He was treated as a misfit by his fellow monks. As soon as I read this description, I recognized and remembered the story. My father had told me this tale as a bedtime story when I was a child.

The outcast monk was excluded from many of the formal ceremonies in the monastery. So each week during high mass, he would descend to the basement crypt, where there stood a statue of the Blessed Mother. Standing before the Virgin's statue, the monk would perform his circus act. It was his only talent and all he had to offer.

One of the other monks grew suspicious and one night followed him to the crypt to watch. He then informed the monastery's abbot and brought him to witness the next week. The two observers saw that at the end of the act, the Blessed Mother's statue came to life. She stepped down and blessed the monk. The stunned abbot turned to the informer and said, "More real worship goes on here than takes place upstairs."

Of course, Dad's retelling was a bit more dramatic. In my bedtime story, the tumbler became a juggler monk. He was struggling valiantly to complete his juggling act with perspiration flowing into his eyes, making it difficult for him to see. The Virgin, when she stepped down, took her mantle and wiped his brow so that he could finish successfully. Perhaps my father took dramatic license so that a four-year-old would remember the story more than half a century later. Well, what do you know, Dad--it worked.

So in reading this little book about trusting God, with a couple of chapters still ahead, I've had two very personal surprises. C.S. Lewis writes about being Surprised by Joy. Fair enough, but I think someone is trying to tell me that trust can be equally surprising.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

One of the Best

We all have our favorites among the many different people who cross our paths as we journey through life. At the top of my list is Bill Huse.

I worked at Bill's biotech company many years ago, at the time my husband was first hospitalized with cancer. That year was very hard, but it would have been even more difficult without Bill. Each day, when I returned from my lunch break, Bill would stop by my desk to ask, "How's Pete?" I would launch into the medical crisis of the day. This busy MD-PhD-CEO would then take the time to explain what was happening to Pete, why the doctors were doing what they were doing, and what we could expect to happen next. He always used simple language, sometimes drawing diagrams as he talked to help me understand his explanations.

Bill was probably the only true genius I've known. A graduate of M.I.T. and the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, he had also been a neurobiology professor at Yale. He was a scientific inventor with over 50 patents. He could discuss molecular biology and DNA sequencing with the ease I display when talking about my favorite movies. Yet he was completely unpretentious and down-to-earth. You could talk to Bill about anything. His sense of humor was mischievous and delightful and his kindness always close to the surface.

I moved on to many subsequent jobs in my career, but if I had to go back to work for any former boss and could choose which one, it would be Bill Huse.

Today I learned that Bill died in August. Upon reading the news, a heavy sadness settled over me. Although it has been three years since we last spoke, I always think of Bill fondly and with deep gratitude for his thoughtfulness to me at a time of personal crisis.

While we were working together, I once asked Bill if he believed in God. He told me he didn't. That's okay, Bill. I know that God believed in you. Rest in peace, dear friend.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Tides of Fate

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
~ William Shakespeare

Did you watch Game 6 of the World Series? If you did, and you're a baseball fan, you'll never forget it.

People who were lucky enough to be at that game will be talking about it for the rest of their lives. It was an epic tragedy/comedy, full of awful mistakes, remarkable recoveries, spectacular plays, and close calls. Commentators are ranking it with the most memorable World Series games of all times. Best ever or not, Game 6, 2011, was everything baseball should be.

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for their win in Game 7, even though my heart was with the Texas Rangers. I knew when the Rangers let that final strike to win Game 6 slip away not once, but twice, that their moment to grasp triumph had passed. I still hoped they would win in Game 7, but I felt they would lose. I hated to be right.

It will be a long winter in Texas as the Rangers, "bound in shallows and in miseries," relive what was so close and might have been. They are a great team, and I hope the Ranger's winning tide will rise again in a post season not too far distant.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Question of Timing

Here's a link to the countries where American military troops are currently deployed. As you can see, there are dozens of them, all over the world. American troops have been stationed in many of these countries for all of this century and half of the last century. Thanks to every single one of them for their service.

One dramatic example is Korea, where the U.S. military has kept the peace since the 1953 truce between North and South Korea. According to a report linked here, issued today, there are no plans to draw down the 28,500 American troops in Korea--budget cuts notwithstanding.

So, aside from political ideology and a flailing presidency, what is the reason for President Obama's big hurry to pull out of Iraq, a country that will most assuredly suffer mightily from our abrupt departure? This is, of course, a rhetorical question. After all, there's a presidential election coming up next year. Since he's already mucked up healthcare, the economy, unemployment rates, the debt, and the national deficit, it would be a glaring omission for Barack Obama to neglect screwing up foreign policy before the fourth quarter.

The president has got to work fast now. There are three years behind him and only one short year ahead for him to continue blaming George W. Bush. When it comes to grabbing the spotlight by making dramatic speeches about his latest jarring change to our national identity, time is beginning to run out on President Obama.

That's the good news. I can only hope and pray this game doesn't go into overtime.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Debatable Value

I don’t know about you, but I can’t watch the GOP candidate debates. I’ve tried, in occasional ten-minute segments and in news clips after the fact. Based on the various snippets of debate footage I’ve seen, the debates all seem to play out like one continuous slow motion train wreck.

According to the schedule, we’ve only got about 87 more debates to go (or so it seems).

I have a lot of questions about the debates. Why are MSM anchors hosting these disasters? Those chuckleheads aren’t going to ask any decent questions. Why are the candidates lunging at each other’s jugular veins? Why aren’t they presenting a united front by focusing on President Obama’s failures as a leader? There’s enough material on that topic alone for a few hundred debates.

Why are the candidates instead talking about apples, oranges, and gardeners? Why aren’t they talking about jobs, the economy, jobs, unemployment, jobs, the deficit, jobs, the debt, jobs, border security, jobs, national security, and did I mention jobs? Why aren’t they concentrating on that looming national catastrophe, Obamacare?

Why is Rick Santorum so whiney? Why is Ron Paul allowed to walk the streets unsupervised? Why can’t Mitt Romney ever seem unrehearsed? Why is Rick Perry always “fixin’ to” do something? Why is Michele Bachmann dressed like Lt. Uhura?

Watching the Republican debates is kind of like watching an Obama speech or press conference. You find yourself brimming with multiplying questions but hearing no real answers. You get bored with listening and shut off the television. You hope it doesn’t happen again—but you know it will.

I think I’ll try tuning out until the 2012 general election results. There’s no debate about the fact that those will be well worth watching.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Loved Lucy

It's impossible for me to calculate how many hours of my life have been spent watching "I Love Lucy" reruns. Rest assured that, had I devoted all that time to higher education, today I would probably hold several post-graduate degrees.

That doesn't mean earning an advanced education would have been time better spent. We've all got to have some fun in life, and nothing is more worthwhile fun that sitting down with a bowl of popcorn and a DVD full of "I Love Lucy" episodes. The woman was a comedic genius, a pure original, a one-and-only talent that we'll never enjoy again.

This weekend marked the 60th anniversary of the premiere of "I Love Lucy," and this year Lucille Ball would have celebrated her 100th birthday. Back when average life expectancies didn't extend past age sixty-something, this woman began a new career as a TV star at age 40. As we all know, her courage and daring was rewarded with worldwide fame and stunning success. That's an angle that gives this story from the vintage years of early television a very contemporary edge.

Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (or "Lucy and Ricky," as most TV viewers know them) was interviewed by TV Guide to commemorate her mother and the classic television comedy show. She said that although her mother was very different in real life, she loved playing the Lucy character.

Which was the best episode? I'd have a hard time choosing one over another. Each Lucy fan has his or her favorite, and the show keeps earning new fans among younger generations. "I Love Lucy" will always be top-rated entertainment as long as there's some form of media to watch it. Along with her many millions of fans down through the decades right up to today, I loved Lucy.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Lost in Location

Not to be a party pooper, so to speak, but guess who were the top contributers to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign?

Um, gee whiz. They're mostly corporations.

Let's take a look at the Top 20, linked here. In the finanical sector we've got Goldman Sachs, UBS, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and CitiGroup. In the high technology sector, there's Microsoft, Google, IBM, and GE. There are also the usual suspects in academia, such as Harvard, Columbia and Stanford University, which are no surprises. But the majority of Obama's top donors are from that evil death star, Corporate America.

So perhaps the "Occupy Wall Street" crowd is a bit off course. Maybe they should shift the primary base for their sitting butts from Wall Street to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. But of course, the OWS protestors are not exactly deep thinkers. Most of them are listening to their iPods, talking on their iPhones, or tinkering with their iPads--all very profitable products of one of history's most successful corporations, Apple.

One news report I saw showed an interviewer asking a guitar-strumming protestor why he was there. After a pregnant pause, because this evidently was a really tough question, he responded "I'm not really sure, but it's the most worthwhile thing I've ever done."

Oh, brother. The country is in more trouble than I thought.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

iNovator, iNventor, iCon

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

The death of Steve Jobs should give all of us pause for many reasons. Here was a college dropout from humble beginnings who revolutionized technology to the point that he literally changed the world, building a massive fortune in the process. We work, play, listen to music, talk on the phone, and communicate in entirely different ways today than we did before Jobs worked his computer magic.

Fifty-six years is not a long life. Yet Steve Jobs achieved amazing things in that abbreviated lifespan. As a human being, it appears he was not always at his best. Despite his enormous wealth, Jobs is not known as a charitable giver. He denied paternity of his first child, born out of wedlock, and he cut his partner out of a fair share of the bonus for developing the Atari video game. But throughout the decades of his life and career, in addition to his wondrous techological inventions, he built strong relationships with his colleagues and, most especially, his family. Jobs was very public about his "iLife," but fiercely protective of his family's privacy. This, to me, is perhaps the greatest evidence of his intelligence.

Steve Jobs gave a very wise and thoughtful commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. He knew he was playing his end game, and he was generous enough to share the wisdom he had gained about learning to die. A crowd of 20-something college graduates is a tough audience for such a profound message, but I think they will remember. They'll remember the dying genius who took precious time to speak to them, who was honest, brave, and continually productive as he counted down his days.

Steve Jobs gave those graduates a lesson more helpful than the iPhone, more memorable than iTunes, and more useful than the iPad. His message was that everyone ends up dead; what matters is what we do while we're here.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Remember the Angels

Today is the Feast of Guardian Angels, and Pope Benedict XVI took this occasion to remind us of the angels' constant presence in and protection over human lives.

When I think about the many attacks against the U.S. plotted by Islamist enemies but foiled before they could do us harm, I have to thank the angels as well as the Lord. After all, he gave them the task of watching over us, and I believe they are doing a stellar job.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. ~ Psalm 91

Image: Webshots, American Greetings

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scientific Surprise

"There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Neutrinos, tiny particles of universal matter
, have shaken up the scientific world. In one recent experiment, neutrinos seemed to move faster than the speed of light.

As one might imagine, this has world scientists in a bit of a tizzy. For all the tired memes about established religion being stodgy and unwilling to accept new ideas, nobody can dig in on traditional dogma like a scientist defending the status quo.

For example, take the declaration that "the science is settled" regarding global warming. That statement in itself is anti-scientific, and no true scientist would say such a thing. Science is never settled. Remember when Pluto was a planet? There are always new discoveries to be made. If you believe in settled science, you may as well throw in for the tooth fairy.

Imagine, the tiny little neutrino, causing all this fuss. Just more proof that, by its very nature, science will always be full of surprises.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lesson Plan

I received the story below in an e-mail message today, and whether it's truth or fiction, I thought it was so timely that it's worth posting:
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama's socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama's plan"..
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A....

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. Could not be any simpler than that.
Remember, there is a test coming up. The 2012 elections.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Not Very Sporting

Between the consistently disappointing performances of the San Diego Padres baseball and San Diego Chargers football teams, any American sports fan would find this town to be a sad and frustrating place.

While watching either hapless team, one feels a growing sense of dread and impending disaster. I find the experience of watching a San Diego game eerily similar to viewing a speech by President Obama. In either situation--watching one of my hometown teams trying to win a game or watching the president struggling to sell tax hikes--I know upfront that it's going to be a long, drawn-out, unpleasant ordeal that repeats numerous previous mistakes and leads to the same unsatisfactory conclusion.

It seems that none of them--the Padres, the Chargers, or the president--ever seems to learn their lessons.

Photo: AP, Charles Krupa

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Nation Changed

Southern California had a massive electrical power failure yesterday at 3:40 p.m. As I stood with my evacuated colleagues outside our office building, word spread within a few minutes that the blackout extended from Orange County to Ensenada, Mexico, and from Yuma, Arizona to Coronado Island.

Many of us shared the same thought. It was a thought that probably wouldn't have occurred to any American ten years ago. We suspected the power failure was a terrorist attack.

Employees were told to go home just before 4:00 p.m. On the chaotic, often gridlocked drive home, I listened to the emergency radio coverage and heard the first press conference. Almost immediately, reporters asked about possible terrorism. The SDG&E official would not rule it out, but said there was "nothing to indicate" a terrorist attack. However, at that time he had no reason yet to offer for the blackout. The follow-up question posed by the next reporter was, "If you don't know what it is, how can you rule out terrorism?"

It was a good question, and an obvious one. Since September 11, 2001, we live different lives. The automatic trust, goodwill, and acceptance that was the hallmark of the average American has checks and balances built into it now. We live on guard. A headscarf in the grocery store could mean a suicide bomber. An unfamiliar truck parked across the street raises suspicion. Crowded malls or public events can evoke an uneasy feeling of vulnerability. In short, through the horrific series of events that has come to be called simply "9/11," our innocence as a people was destroyed.

The official word now is that it was not terrorism that caused our blackout in California yesterday. But the ever-present possibility, even probability, of that eventuality keeps the question in the forefront of our minds. We can no longer avoid the constant trepidation of unexpected evil befalling us, not when the formerly mundane process of checking in at the airport now resembles being herded into a concentration camp.

There has been almost constant media attention to 9/11 for the past week. It is two days before the actual ten-year anniversary, so we have not even approached the crescendo of coverage. It is to be expected, and I'm sure I'll watch a good deal of it. As evil as 9/11 was, as sad and furious as it made me, as much as it changed as our nation, I'm proud of how America has risen above the ash and smoke of that terrible day. I'm proud of all our military men and women who are committed to protecting us. I honor all our citizens who died that day and all who have died since in the defense of our country. I respectfully acknowledge all Americans who have worked tirelessly throughout the past decade to rebuild and renew both our scarred landscape and our wounded spirit.

On the tenth annual commemoration of 9/11, I salute and give a grateful shout-out to the U.S.A. Through blood, sweat, fire, and tears, we've earned it. God knows, we've earned it.

...On I walked
In thankful blessedness, which yet survives.
~ William Wordsworth

Friday, September 02, 2011

Thoughts on Summer

With that harbinger of fall, Labor Day weekend, upon us, I take a fleeting moment to reflect on the highs and lows of summer. My daughter got married, bringing family and friends together in joy on an island paradise. Within days of the celebration, my uncle died and brought family together again, this time in sadness in my childhood home. In the midst of my all flights between California and the East Coast for these two dramatically opposite occasions, I began a career transition.

There’s a new patio surrounding my home since the start of summer. As much as my resultant diminished budget will allow, I’ve socialized with friends, gone to lunch and dinner, been to a few movies. I’ve enjoyed the outdoors, read half a dozen books and cleaned out one closet (five more to go), so I feel reasonably productive. Today would have been my 39th wedding anniversary, so I also feel correspondingly old.

The end of summer always brings a unique wistfulness and an awareness of time passing. The calendar is propelling us towards the holiday season, which concludes with the start of a new year. We’ll all be another year older, perhaps wiser, and already anticipating the arrival of next summer—whatever joys or sorrows it may bring.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Stuck on Stupid?

"Stupid is as stupid does.”
- Forrest Gump

President Obama is often touted by his ever-diminishing hoard of admirers as intellectually brilliant. Personally, I have never noticed any evidence of his purportedly awesome brain power, perhaps underscoring the fact that I’m too ignorant and stupid to appreciate his greatness. (Obama would certainly think so.) However, an increasing number of reasonably intelligent observers are voicing doubts about how truly smart the current president really is.

Think about it. Here is a man who doggedly insists and appears totally convinced that he has improved the economy. “Sunburned,” the story of a bankrupt solar panel company, tells a different tale. Here was a trendy green jobs operation that should have been roaring hot, buttressed by Obama loan guarantees (read “your tax dollars”), but it went down and took over one thousand American jobs with it. And that’s just a random sample from the Obamanomics files.

Now that his island resort vacation has concluded, Obama is itching to present his “urgent” jobs message. Always forgetting that he is not the king, only the president, Obama invited himself to address a joint session of Congress on a night he knew full well the constitutionally co-equal legislative branch of government would find inconvenient. Congress declined, so the president’s “major” speech (aren’t they all?) was rescheduled to football night.

Oh, what to watch on the evening of September 8? Rarely are Americans faced with such a challenging decision.

Watching the president, one must be prepared to hear a number of stock phrases rearranged for current impact. Obama will talk about “corporate jets” (without mentioning Air Force One), “fat cats” (with no reference to his 2008 campaign contributors), “a balanced approach,” “problems inherited,” and “obstructionists in Congress.” He’ll take credit for killing Osama bin Laden (again) and probably for lessening Hurricane Irene’s impact (is the planet healing yet?). And he’ll be supremely confident that on the night he speaks, the entire country will be sitting on the edge of their sofas, holding their collective breath in anticipation, ignoring the pretzels on the coffee table, gripping beer cans in hand.

He’ll be right about that last part, except the overwhelming majority of American TV viewers won't be in that hyper-attentive pose until his speech is over and they're watching the Saints-Packers game. It now appears that the president has been rescued by the NFL and NBC from conflicting with the kick-off. He will instead step all over the pre-game coverage. Now I ask you, is that smart?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Beyond Human Devotion

Hawkeye was the beloved chocolate labrador retriever of Navy SEAL Jon "J.T." Tumlinson, who was killed in the helicopter crash in Afghanistan on August 6.

Even though Hawkeye will be well looked after--Tumlinson willed Hawkeye to a good friend who cared for the dog during deployments--it looks as though Hawkeye's heart will always belong to J.T.

As any dog owner knows, nothing can wrench our hearts like losing a beloved dog. The photo of Hawkeye lying next to his master's casket during funeral services for the fallen hero seems to prove that the heartache works both ways.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Human beings tend to get cozy in our monotonous daily routines. We begin to feel a certain amount of control over our destinies and a rising level of confidence that each day will be just like yesterday, unless we decide to make it different. As we grow comfortable in this delusional state of complacency, it never fails that eventually, some major event will occur to remind us we are both mortal and at the mercy of much larger forces in the universe.

This week, our cosmic reminder took the form of a rare earthquake rattling the U.S.A.’s eastern coast. Now, being a California resident for more than thirty years, I understand that earthquakes are scary episodes—especially the first experience of one. But the panicked reactions depicted in photos from Washington D.C. to New York almost crossed the line from drama into comedy. I mean, really, people. It was an earthquake, not the Second Coming. And just think, it only measured 5.8 in severity. Pace yourselves. As anyone living in Japan can tell you, things can get much worse.

Who would have thought it, but this might be time for East Coasters to look into some basic earthquake preparedness drills. Running outdoors, where falling debris might be hurtling in your direction, is not the best course of action. And standing next to a damaged high-rise building, staring up at broken glass windows, is a definite no-no.

Yesterday’s earthquake serves as a stark reminder that we are not in control. Nature is vastly powerful, and we are often at its mercy. No matter how calm and uneventful our lives may seem, it’s best to be prepared for a disaster, be it natural or manmade. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring—or the rest of today, for that matter. As any Californian can confirm, it’s a good idea to have a few extra gallons of drinking water, some canned soup, and a couple jars of peanut butter in the house at all times. Don’t let your prescriptions run too low. Keep batteries in the flashlights. Stash a change of clothes and a pair of track shoes in the trunk of your car.

Do all this for peace of mind, if nothing else. Then, the next time life shocks you—as eventually, it will—at least you’ll be semi-prepared.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Ten-Step Solution

Dennis Prager’s article, “Still the Only Solution to the World’s Problems,” extols the benefits to society of following a simple set of rules recorded 3,000 years ago: the Ten Commandments.

It’s difficult to argue with Prager’s position. The Ten Commandments set a very high bar for human awareness, behavior, and social interaction, and logic will tell any thinking person that, if followed, they are a recipe for a peaceful world. Read them, with Prager’s insightful commentary on modern examples, and see if you aren’t compelled to agree.

When the influence of the Ten Commandments is absent from any society or civilization, what is the end result? Some tragic examples from the last century are Nazism, Communism and, currently, Islamism. The vast number of people who have suffered and died under these cruel regimes is incalculable.

A popular radio host and author, Prager is also a noted Hebrew scholar and teacher—quite an accomplished fellow. But he makes his case for the power of the Ten Commandments in plain language for anyone of any philosophy to read, learn from, and live by while in pursuit of a better world.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Picking and Choosing

Watching the presidential debate last night certainly helped me to narrow my choices for the Republican candidate. By the end of the debate, I had reached the following conclusions:

Who’s a No-Go?

Rick Santorum

The former senator from Pennsylvania is a crybaby. He made quite a show of complaining he wasn’t getting enough air time, although I think he was getting more than he deserved. Santorum is almost invisible in the polls. He couldn’t even get elected senator the last time he ran. What makes him think he can be president? Santorum lets people know when they’re getting under his skin. Since we already have a Whiner-in-Chief, Santorum needs to get over himself and move on.

Newt Gingrich

The former Speaker of the House wants to be president, but he takes umbrage at questions about why his campaign staff walked out on him. If you want to lead the country, you should be able to lead your employees first. Questions about why you can’t are fair and reasonable and deserve an honest and respectful answer. I don’t care how many fun facts and creative scenarios he can toss out in a split second. We already have an “I’m never wrong” president. Gingrich is too pompous for the job.

Ron Paul

I just wish he would go away. Please. Paul is like an eccentric, rambling uncle taking over the spare room. He makes John McCain look young, dynamic--and conservative. The anti-military Paul is sucking valuable airtime from the other candidates who actually have a chance, and he’s delusional if he thinks he will ever be president. Stop the madness and go home toTexas .

Tim Pawlenty

Remember Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment to never speak ill of a fellow Republican? Evidently Pawlenty doesn’t. With the rich mother lode of topics to address on why Obama should not be president and he should, Pawlenty chooses instead to attack a fellow candidate in the midst of the debate. That was bad judgment, and we already have too much of that in the White House. With his petty nonsense, Pawlenty proved he is not presidential timber.

Michele Bachmann

I like the congresswoman from Minnesota, but I want a candidate who can win. Bachmann embroiders her answers too much and has to backtrack too often. And she says too much that has nothing to do with being president. Did anyone really need to hear her private views on “submission”? That can of worms is going to be a recurring issue, especially with MSM nipping at her heels about it. It was totally avoidable if she had just kept quiet. What will fall out of her mouth next? Bachmann should stand by for a cabinet post (treasury secretary?) and bow out for now.

John Huntsman

The former Utah governor seemed lost in the sauce. I’m not sure what Huntsman is doing in the presidential race to begin with, and he didn't impress me last night. Sorry, Governor, there isn’t much else to say.

Who’s a Possibility?

Mitt Romney

The former Massachusetts governor has learned a lot since 2008. He’s smoother, quicker on his feet, and more informed. But Romney still sounds canned and carefully rehearsed. He picks his way through every response as if afraid an unexpected verbal bomb will detonate. However, his business and executive experience are his ticket, and I’ll vote for him if he is the candidate.

Herman Cain

It may not be practical of me, but I liked Cain the best. He has the business credentials the country needs, common sense, straightforwardness, and a sense of humor as an added bonus. He's also got many weak spots, but I think he’s sharp enough to learn fast. He's undoubtedly a long shot, but I’d vote for Cain in a heartbeat.

Rick Perry

No, he wasn’t in last night’s debate, but now that he’s announced he’s running, I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say.