Thursday, March 27, 2008

Civics Test

My friend Connie over at Pieces of Thought pointed me to a wonderful civics test.

I took it. I did miss one, and the irony is that I am not sure why I missed it. I didn't like the answers offered to number two. I knew Freedom of Religion was a correct choice. And I thought that the right to bear arms was one. I knew that the right to vote WAS NOT a correct choice. But my choices were all or just one, and I am not sure what logic or semantics they were using not to have that count as the Second Amendment.

Other than that - perfect score. So my total is 29. If you take the test feel free to come back and post your score. Of 43000 who have taken the test as of now, a little more than 1000 had perfect scores and about the same number missed only one (And I am curious how many missed question number 2 like I did).
About four thousand and change missed about 8 (a little more than one quarter of the questions) and the same missed nine of thirty. Missing nine would be a score of 70% -- passing when I went to school (versus 60 now).

The statistics were woefully lacking, only showing the mean for each age group that took the test.
But they did break out the curve for the total population.
30 1,066 Perfect Score
29 1,058
28 1,282
27 1,501
26 1,938
25 2,304
24 3,054
23 3,543
22 4,010
21 4,140
20 3,992
19 3,445
18 2,922
17 2,280
16 1,938
15 1,483
14 1,067
13 848
12 568
11 344
10 225
9 130
8 65
7 30
6 23
5 15
4 7
3 6
2 3
0 19


Friday, March 21, 2008

John Adams - Episode 2

At the end of the Continental Congress, Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government the delegates had made for the people. He responded "We have given you a Republic, if you can keep it."

At the end of the second episode of the HBO miniseries "John Adams", I found myself a little fogged up. There was a literal tear in my eye and I knew not from whence it came. I pondered why at this joyful point in the show I should involuntarily find myself sad.

Then I remembered Franklin's words of nearly ten years later. How we found these men of honor and integrity in one place at one time is an impossible congruity. I know of no member of our government of either of the major parties of the caliber of these our founding fathers. In fact most of them are either trying to exploit it to their own ends or to outright destroy the very principles of our Declarations of Independence and our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The one who came closest to being on a par with those who made our country ran as a Libertarian Party Presidential candidate in 1988 and a Republican candidate this year. But while he seems to recognize that it is not the purpose of our Federal Government to manage every facet of our lives, Ron Paul was flawed in not recognizing that the primary purpose of our Federal Government is protecting us from outside threat. Whether or not our Iraq involvement was wise is totally immaterial. All the wailing and blaming can not close Pandora's box. What is certain is that withdrawl after the fact without stabilizing that country will be a disaster that will haunt and threaten our safety in the future. Yet Representative Paul was as good as it got.

So a tear forms in my eye as think of the choices for President of this country that I will be offered this November, and that these are not on the caliber of Washington, Jefferson, or John Adams. We have the choice of three Senators with no executive experience, and dubious intent:
A man described as the most liberal in the Senate who wrote a book explaining how the rich (read those of us who work for a living) owe (the effort of our lives belong to others == slavery) the poor (those who won't);
A woman who is the definition of Fascist and the epitome of ego, telling the people what they want to hear;
A man who in the name of taking influence peddling out of politics has taken my freedom of speech in the process.

No wonder I had a tear in my eye. John Adams, where is your equal?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You are old ...

... if you remember when it was a Government of the People;
and we were not a People of the Government.

Luxomni 3/18/2008

The Law

In the Old Testament, Moses codified the many rules necessary for a good and healthy life. In Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, Moses enumerated law after law for the children of Isreal. But it was too much for the people to understand, much less observe;
So when Moses went up on the mountain, God appeared unto Moses and gave him something the people could understand and keep: Ten simple Commandments. These the people should be able to keep. In fact this set of rules should be understandable and beneficial to all - Jew, Christian Hindi, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist et al.
But, NO, we could not or would not understand nor keep even these laws;
So God, sent his Son, Jesus, down to walk among men with one simple message, one Golden Rule so simple that no one should be able to avoid it: no matter how your particular religion phrases it, the message is the same. Treat others as you would be treated.

But now fast forward to the twenty-first century.
Fast forward to a Government of lawyers.
Fast Forward to 15 feet of law books and seven more of Supreme Court decisions on a lawyer's book case.
Fast forward to a legal system that corrupts the simple laws of the ten commandments with definitions and boundaries that say "Thou shalt not steal, but it isn't stealing if..."
Fast forward to a Government where even displaying these simple Commandments is a violation in itself.
Fast forward to a system where Judges do not judge, but instead have minimum sentencing guidelines making them mere referees.
Fast forward to a system of laws that confusing and so contradictory that not only can no-one understand them but a lawyer can make them say anything he wants.
Fast forward to a Congressional system that does not feel that it is doing anything unless they are making more laws.
Fast forward to a system where they aren't done making laws yet.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Horror!

As I drove home this evening, Sean Hannity was playing the unedited Christmas sermon of Jeramiah Wright, Barack Obama's pastor and advisor. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. I do not remember ever hearing the shear volume of hate this man preached in his Christmas sermon in my life! I have never ever heard a white bigot with this amount of pure hate. I think I now understand his wife's comment and its origin. But will someone let him know that he will have to be the President of all the people of this country not just those of color.

I have always had a policy, no that's not the right word, practice? No. Habit. I have always had a habit of ignoring race until I was forced to acknowledge it. At the genetic level I am not sure that the taxonomy of race is even on a par with species. A very few minor differences in pigmentation, hair, and facial characteristics. No big deal really. But when my face is rubbed in it, I cannot help but notice.

Race to me had been more about culture. And in that culture, American people of African descent currently do have a very vocal anti-social and misogynistic sub-culture. But by my experience with most people of color, this was an embarrassing sub culture. Generally, I think it is the inexperience of age mixed with music and movies that glorify violence. Based on the Adults I encounter on a daily basis, I had presumed that we were finally making headway into becoming a society where people really were judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin; and that this sub-culture of sociopathic juveniles was a source of major disappointment to their parents who had aspirations of their children achieving even more than they did.

Up to this point I was worried about Barack Obama's reputation as the most liberal member of the U. S. Senate. That was then. Now as I hear his wife, and Dr. Wright, his pastor and spiritual adviser of twenty years, I realize that there is little chance he can be immune from their venom and hatred of America and in particular the white race. Since he is the presumptive candidate and therefore almost certainly our next President, I find myself wondering where this is going to lead.

Is his Presidency going to unite the country? Will he show all the minorities of this country that by working hard, being responsible, and making good decisions they can accomplish anything?
Or will he be President of the Black people in some sort of bizarre competitive sport that finally rends our society irreconcilably?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Mask

The Mask
Originally uploaded by luxomni
I am a few days late posting this to my blog.

This week marks the third anniversary of the start of my radiation and chemotherapy. The ninth of March 2005 was the date of my first radiation session under the mask that you see to the right. The mask pinned me to a hard plastic table under a gantry arm that bombarded the back of my mouth and throat with radiation. For twenty minutes, I could not move so much as an eyebrow. Before each session I spent two-and-a-half hours or so in the chemo clinic being given drips of various things like Atavan and especially Amifostine. I then had a half hour to commence my radiation at a clinic a half mile down the street. They literally moved me in front of whoever else was waiting.
On Fridays they add a few hours of chemotherapy as well.

My Radiologist, Dr. Hamilton Williams, and my Oncologist, Dr. Stephen Szabo literally saved my life. Buy my GP, Dr. Gerald Adler deserves the most credit for expediting my diagnosis and treatment. Remember, time is the enemy. If you have an suspicion, have it checked. Promptness may save your life.

My wife, Melinda, does not understand why I treasure this thing and will not part with it. But everyone I have known who ever had one either treasures it or wished they had.

Change - any change at all

A thought occurred to me while reading an old friends new blog. She describes herself as running on the conservative side of thought. It made me think of all the Conservative and all the Liberals I have ever known. Almost by definition, conservatives are happy with their station in life; they want to keep what the have. And as a result they are happy people.
And the contrapositive, the Liberals I know are not happy with the way things are or themselves.
Often they are not just sad, but angry. They think change - any change at all - will improve their lives. Hence, we have a presumptive Democratic candidate who promise merely change - unspecified change - and they crowd goes wild with anticipation.

I sit libertarian, so I don't know what that makes me other than someone who just wants the government to go away and leave me alone save for the true and proper policing powers of the state - protection from theft of life, liberty, or property.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Number 9 Number 9 Number 9

Eliot Spitzer paid what!

Does anybody know the going price for a hooker these days? I admit to being somewhat naive, but I had no idea that it was $4500 a session. And he got some kind of discount (professional?) at that.

And the word is that his total may be over $80,000! That means he made this deal 17 times before. One would think that after the first time he could figure out what a waste of money that was.

How come none of the TV news asks where he got eighty thousand dollars to blow on hookers?

Poor Geraldine Ferraro - victim of PC

I have to admit a little bemusement at the irony. Ms Ferraro meant well and was being honest (the antithesis of Politically correct). But she is correct. Barack Hussein Obama is getting a pass because of his race. A white Representative with his experience or lack thereof would be laughed off the ballot. But PC, like the Emporer's new clothes, says you can't see or acknowledge that fact.

The true irony is that as rough as they are treating Ms Ferraro, if she was a man, or worse yet a Republican, she would have been treated a lot worse.

On Bailing Out Mortgages

Our Congress-critters, in their omnipresent quest to relieve us of the responsibilities of our actions and buy our everlasting loyal servitude, want to relieve homeowners of the results of buying more home than they can afford. But what of the rest of us? I bought only as much as I could afford. And I paid for it responsibly and ten years ahead of time. Congress hates responsibility. These poor unfortunates bought their homes during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush when times were good and interest was low. They have had it easy.
I bought my home just after the reign of Jimmy Carter. Interest rates had just dropped from the 24% under Jimmy to 14.5% during the first year of Ronald Reagan. The press was everywhere decrying how Reagan was hurting poor people, but I finally bought a house after thinking through the Carter years that I would never ever be able to afford one. When interest came down to 10%, I refinanced. And again when interest dropped to 7% I did it again -- adding $5000 to my principal each time.
So I don't want to hear how someone is in financial trouble when interest rates climbed from 4.5% to 6.75%. And I sure as Hell do not want to hear that Congress wants to bail them out. If they can't pull off a mortgage in this day and age, maybe the don't deserve to own a house.

And while I have your ear(or rather, your eye) with the fall of the price of the dollar and its corollary the rise of the price of oil (and most everything else) and the imminent presidency of an inexperienced beginner, the stage is set for a repeat of the Carter years. Hang on tight!

On Media and Recessions

There is a story that goes back to the time of the Great Depression.

An old man ran a hot dog cart in Chicago. He pushed his cart through the city each day selling about a hundred hot dogs to the passersby. He was happy. And his customers loved him.
One day his son stopped by as he prepared the hot dogs for the next day's service. "Father" the son said horrified, "Don't you know there is a recession going on? You are spending too much money on hot dogs and buns." And the old man listened to his son for he was a journalist and knew these things.
So the next day the old man only bought three quarters as many hot dogs and buns as he had been buying. And that day he only sold seventy-five hot dogs. He went to see his other son who said "See, there is a Recession going on, and your sales are trending down, so you had better be even more careful." And the father listened to his other son for he had saved and scrimped to send his son to the University of Wisconsin for seven years so he would not be a poor pushcart vendor.
The next day he ordered only half as many hot dogs and buns as he did the preceding day. And surprise of surprises he only sold thirty-seven hot dogs.
The following day he sold his cart for the Depression was just too much for him to beat.

Does it strike you that our press and academics are doing their blooming best to convince us the there is or will be a recession. To me they sure seem to be trying awfully hard.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

I need a word created

I need a word for the ridiculous assumption that no matter how badly the government deals with any task, with just a little more money and a little more power, and a little more surrender of our sovereignty the next task will actually get done right.