Sunday, October 04, 2015

Syria & Russia: Truth or Lies

Or maybe somewhere in between? In regards my last post on Syria, we've seen since then statements in the news from western powers that the Russians are hardly hitting ISIS and are, in fact, just making things worse. According to this news report- from a source I've never heard from before- Russians have dealt devastating blows against ISIS. 

Good news, if true but, I do notice other pages from this web site seem to be strongly pro- Russian. Perhaps this is another Russian propaganda site? Still, that doesn't mean what they wrote is untrue. It just means they get to tell their side of the story. 

I'm not sure the United States needs its own web sites. We have CNN and the rest of the major news organizations to put our spin on things.

Hillary The Unlikable

The Daily Sheeple looks at what I'm guessing is a recently published book on the lives of Secret Service agents. According to the book agents consider being assigned to guarding Hillary Clinton to be a form of punishment. Believable to me as I've read similar sentiments elsewhere. 

I might have mentioned here before a commentary by a guy saying Hillary would never be elected because of the same sort of thing. He wrote, to paraphrase, "When husband Bill walks into the room, the place lights up because people liked him. When Hillary walks in, the room goes cold...".

Perhaps she's the most unlikable current politician, or at least most well known. Back in the day I read something about older presidents and agent's impression of them. Worst president to work for: Lyndon Johnson, him treating agents like servants and having them carry his bags and such. 

Best one to work for: Jimmy Carter, who let them stay in guest housing on his farm and them fish in his pond, among other things. A genuinely pleasant guy!

Friday, October 02, 2015

Putin & Syria: So?

Reason magazine knocks it out of the park again with a look at Russia's interest in Syria. A good case made that it really shouldn't concern us. About the only thing I disagree with is the second to last paragraph:

"Obama's critics portray him as weak and lost in the face of the bold Russian challenge. But the truth is he's engaged in geopolitical jujitsu, using the opponent's strengths against him. He's avoiding risks that carry no commensurate rewards. "

I don't think Obama is weak, but I'm not happy with the saber rattling I've heard from the U.S. government. I have a hard time believing he's being strategic with "geopolitical jujitsu". He seems to just be playing the the tough guy card as is often the U.S. role. 

In fairness, though, recent news reports of U.S./Russian dialogue don't sound quite as bad as they did earlier on.

Water Folks Agree With The Freddy

It's been frustrating to me to keep hearing people saying we need to conserve water in Eureka and the surrounding area. I've wrote here and elsewhere time and again we have plenty of water and water we don't use just goes out into the ocean.

Thus I was pleased to read in the Times- Standard this morning others are questioning the need to conserve water for the very same reasons I've brought up. Those quoted include the boss at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District:

In the rest of the state, where a lot of the supply is interconnected through a series of reservoirs and canals, conserving in one metropolitan area can benefit other large metropolitan areas,” he said. “In our situation up here, we’re isolated.

In other words, whatever water we use up here isn't at the expense of the parched areas.  We also have millions of gallons a day of water considered surplus.

When you think about it, if there was a need to conserve water in the greater Eureka area, it would make more sense to be drawing more water from the Mad River and storing it somehow rather than letting it just run out to the ocean.

No need to applaud, but you can be sure I'm basking in my greatness.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Neighbors and Local Ordinances

I've mentioned before the Nextdoor Neighborhood e-mail list. It's a relatively easy way to communicate with the rest of those in your neighborhood, although the neighborhood boundaries can be quite large. Most seem to use it for neighborhood watch activities.

I had my doubts about it when signing up with it again earlier this year. Could it be used by neighbors to snipe at each other? Yes, and it has been, at least once. Had a incident a couple months ago where one neighbor complained- perhaps falsely- that her neighbor was engaged in criminal behavior. That led to him posting about her and creating a rather difficult situation I got involved in which almost resulted in a physical fight on my front porch with one of them.

I thought maybe this sort of thing wasn't for me. It still might not be, but that died down. Today,  someone in the Eureka High Neighborhood posted something a bit different. She suggested the City of Eureka be more proactive in enforcing local ordinances. Here's just part of it:

"I don't agree with the laissez faire attitude the city seems to have. We live in an incorporated city, you can't just do whatever you want, otherwise, what is the point of municipal codes? I don't accept the excuse that it's this way because we live in Humboldt Co. That excuse has kept us from having nice things long enough. If a person wants to live outside of the municipal codes, then maybe some other unincorporated part of the county would be more to their liking. I pay property taxes, and I expect the city to enforce the codes that were passed for the benefit of its citizens.
These are just basic codes I'm talking about that are part of any modern community. And that's my point, neighbors wouldn't have to meddle if the city enforced its own codes."

That was in response to my reply to her where I suggested nothing wrong with complaint driven enforcement, but part of what I liked about the area since I moved here over 40 years ago was the live and live attitude of most people. We also don't need The City going around hassling everyone as a matter of course. Complaint driven enforcement should be the rule. 

This gal would have none of that. I can't help but wonder how long she's lived up here? Seems like someone that moved up here from the big city wanting to bring the big city mentality with her. To be fair, though, probably more than enough natives up here with that mindset.

Regardless, my main point in posting was the the Nextdoor Neighborhood list and the resulting block party held at Carson Park in August. Get to know your neighbors! What's to not like about it?

It might be a plus that you get to know your neighbors. On the other hand, you may find you don't like them. I can think of at least two I've found I don't.
On a related note, years ago when the late Tish Wilburn ran for Eureka City Council, she called me up- or did I call her(?)- wondering if the Libertarian Party of Humboldt County would endorse her candidacy. Her main campaign issue? Enforcing local ordinances.

I had to tell her that isn't the sort of issue I would think most libertarians would rally around, much less as an organization. She didn't understand that no matter how much I tried to explain it. Oh, well, at least she took it well.

My Last Time At Church

Speaking of church, I've never understood why any guy would want to go to church once he's old enough that he didn't have to. I had to go all the time, mostly at my mother's insistence, but quit around age 13 after getting in some trouble. My mom didn't argue about it. She just knew I didn't like it and realized it didn't seem to do any good for me.

I was a happy fellow on Sundays until '76ish when I went to basic training for the national guard. Off to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo I went. I'd asked a friend a lot about the army and basic training- he was a Viet Nam veteran. I asked about church, telling him how much I hated it. He said I'd want to go to church in basic as they'd put you on work details if you didn't go. I told him I'd rather be on details than go to church and never backed down from that.

The first week in training, Sunday came. The drill sergeant told the company we had the opportunity to go to church but, if you chose not to, just let them know and you wouldn't have to. He didn't say anything about work details, but that didn't matter to me. There was my opportunity, or so I thought.

Except then they ordered the company en masse onto buses and we were driven across post to some Catholic church. When was I supposed to opt out? No one ever asked. We get to the church and fall out of the buses into formation. I'm thinking this might be where they ask if you want to attend. Nope. Drill Sergeant calls out, "Files from the right, March", or some such, and we file into the church. 

Uh, oh. I'm trapped, and that early in the training cycle I was too intimidated to approach the drill sergeants while in formation about anything. Into the church I went. Oh, NO!

Once inside, nothing really new. I was raised Episcopalian, pretty much the same as Catholic except Episcopalian priests can get married. They had their little march down the aisle carrying the cross up to the pulpit, or whatever it's called up at the front. Then the prayers and songs. 

I didn't really participate. I stood up when everybody else stood up and knelt on cue, but I didn't say anything or sing. What really got me was the guy to my right seemed to be a church boy. When they'd do some song he'd move his hymnal over to me so I could read the words and join in. I didn't, but made it look like I was singing. I was hating it.

Finally, when I got the impression things were winding down, I'd had enough, got up and walked outside. Thank God that's over with was about the closest I got to saying a prayer.

That was the last time we did church en masse. After that they had it set up so troops could go to church but you went on your own. Not me, of course, and I have to wonder if I was the only one hating that first Sunday? As I recall after that, most everyone stayed in the barracks on Sundays having a nice, quiet day off reading the Sunday paper. Now that was pleasant.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Losing Faith In America

I watched a show on Fox News a couple nights ago called "Are We Losing Faith In America". The first few minutes showed it was about religion, not about faith in country as I first assumed.

The first twenty minutes or so they described fewer people having interest in church and documented a number of churches actually closing. That's good news to me and, no, I'm not saying I want to shut down the churches. I'm just glad to see them declining by people's own volition. Of course, the theme of the show overall was that this is a bad thing. Oh, well.

Last half hour or so of the show went into ways the church is trying to rebrand itself and find new ways to make the institution relevant to people's lives. Good for them. 

One interesting thing they showed later on was a baptist(?) church somewhere in the southeast. Can't remember the state, or for sure if it was baptist, but it was losing members. So much so they couldn't afford to keep it open. Who'da thunk that could happen in the Bible Belt?

Then came the Arabics to the rescue. Actually, I'm not sure if that was the exact word, but they were arabic speaking baptists (maybe protestants). There were enough of them and they bought out the church, took it over and the old congregation joined them in a mixed language church. The english speakers had a translator and used earpieces to understand what was being said.

Kinda neat the way they joined together, although the xenophobe in me didn't particularly like middle easterners taking over an American church, lol. 

Anyway, maybe something for both sides in that show. I found it interesting and good news that church in America seems to be declining. I'm also not all that sure it's a bad thing that the churches are trying to stay relevant. 

I believe the link above has video of the show for those interested in watching it, but the web site drives my computer nuts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Hate Neckties

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at this piece in The Telegraph over why neckties should be worn at work. Why would anyone advocate in favor of wearing neckties? As much as I dislike Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, he's a no tie guy that wears t- shirts and hoodies to even more formal events. I'll give him credit for that.

I was thinking about ties years ago and realized there probably is some....not sure what to call it...value to them. They give at least some people an air of respectability and competence. Back when I had a retirement account, the guy who managed it at Dean Witter was always dressed in a suit and tie. I liked and respected him, but had to admit I might not have as much respect if he wore sweat pants and a t- shirt when he saw me as I nearly always do. The tie helped him seem professional and worth listening to. 

I won't go so far with everyone else, though, and still think ties are crap for most of us. One of the few nice things to look forward to in the future might be the decline in people that feel the need to wear a necktie.

Monday, September 28, 2015

LInkedin, FB Friends, etc: Friend Requests

Just a short rant about something I've been annoyed with for some time. On all these social networks like Linkedin and Facebook you get these requests to be Friends or whatever. I don't believe they ever give a reason why you would want to add them. I don't know about Linkedin but Facebook doesn't have a space to add a reason.

Why would anyone, especially someone you don't otherwise know, expect you to just add them if they don't give you a reason or tell you who they are? Stupid.

Rant over.

Dems Work On Getting Out The Vote

I've wrote before I've never understood all the whining over low voter turnout. Who cares how many people show up to vote when the end result might well be the same? The only time I care is when I hear from like minded people that don't vote.

About the only reason I can come up with for wanting everyone to vote is it kinda justifies whatever happens after the vote: 50.5 people can elect candidates and pass legislation to screw the other 49.5% and it's ok because everyone voted. Hey, majority rules, right?

Over at the Sacramento Bee, Dan Walters looks at Democratic efforts to increase voter registration numbers and thus the Democratic majority. Never mind that it's easy enough to register to vote in this state as it is. But Dan comes up with a good point: "Certainly some of the new registrants would cast ballots, but raising overall registration numbers will likely mean a further decline in turnout percentages, perhaps markedly so.".

In other words, if you raise the number of registered voters, but most still stay away from the polls, that might actually give us lower participation statistically. Wouldn't that be something? 
As an aside, a similar article appeared in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat earlier this summer bemonaning low voter turnout and efforts to get more people registered. Regular contributor to the P-D comments section, and Democrat partisan, Rick O'Shay commented (as best I remember), "If all these people that aren't voting voted, you Republicans would never hold another office in this country again.".

I replied, "Thanks for your admission that if all the people who have no idea what's going on and have little, if any, interest in politics voted, the Democrats would gain an advantage".

That's about the only time I remember him not having some sort of comeback.

Read more here:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Those Old Vinyl Records

One of those things from Facebook. I believe it's a speed control from an old record turntable. The numbers are for the record's revolutions per minute. I remember there being a 33,45 and 78(?)rpm. For the life of me I don't recall ever seeing a 16. I don't remember ever playing a 78, although I might have seen one or two.

The Mars Announcement

CNN reports, and I heard it the radio yesterday, that NASA will make a big announcement Monday about finding something on planet Mars. My gut feeling says I'll be underwhelmed. I hope I'm wrong. I'm guessing finding water, or evidence of it. Anyone else want to take a guess?

Addendum: I've mentioned this book here before, but it's probably been a while. I read Mission To Mars by James Oberg back in the '80s. Oberg was a NASA guy and wrote about the concepts and plans for sending people to Mars.  

He had it all down, although I don't remember if he addressed current questions I have about its feasibility- a couple being solar radiation effects on people and a six month absence of gravity while enroute. He even got into making Mars more habitable by terraforming- introducing plant life to create more oxygen (hint: start with lichens).

Fascinating book, and the one review on Amazon says plans haven't changed much over the years. If I could sit down to read a book nowadays, I might well read it again.