Friday, October 31, 2008
Win One for Turner Campbell of Fort Collins, CO.
Alcuin (735-804),in a letter to Charlemagne
An 11-Year Old and His Classmates
- When Obama said: "I don't think the young people of America are a special interest—they are the future of this country," Turner perked up. He looked as if he were being addressed personally.
- "I'll make this deal with you," the candidate said. "You invest in America, America will invest in you, and together, we will move this country forward."
- It was the beginning of his speech's crescendo, the rhetorical trumpet-flourishing that built to the finale in which he reiterated the promise of America — "you and I, together, will change this country and change this world" — to a generation of its citizens who have never heard it uttered before, at least not outside the dusty confines of a textbook.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Twittering Outside 'Twitter'
Cold gray morning. Dense fog outside. It is the season of falling leaves; root vegetables; hot soup.
"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
-- Elizabeth Lawrence
The Angels Trumpet (Brugmansia) flowers are reported to be toxic and to have hallucinogenic properties.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
The October Surprise ?
Is it going to work? After what we learned about the Bush Administration's cooked up war against Iraq it would be unthinkable that the American public would fall for another con game. But for the McCain-Palin team it is the answer to their prayers. If some more of our young men and women lose their lives in the phony war they will say they died for a good cause -- to keep Republicans in office. Sickening.
BBC News 26 October 2008
Syria has said American troops carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people - if the claims are true then this will be the first military incursion by the US into Syrian territory from Iraq.
But its timing is curious, coming right at the end of the Bush administration's period of office and at a moment when many of America's European allies - like Britain and France - are trying to broaden their ties with Damascus.
Whatever the local military factors involved in this US operation, it would be unthinkable to imagine that an incursion into Syria would not require a policy decision at a high-level.
The movement of insurgents and foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq has long been a bone of contention between Damascus and Washington.
The US argument has always been that the Syrians are not doing enough to control the border. The Syrians have always countered that they are unfairly being blamed for turmoil inside Iraq that is not of their making.
Quite apart from their differences over Iraq, Washington sees Syria as unhelpful in Lebanon and as far too friendly with Iran.
"War hath no fury like a non-combatant."
Saturday, October 25, 2008
God of the Republicans
Has He Forsaken Them ? * Sexual Politics
The Bible thumpers are in panic. Suzanne Goldenberg of the Guardian reported on October 21st about her visit to Colorado Springs, CO.
- As the words to the Christian rock song fade from the giant screens at Mountain Springs church, Pastor Steve Holt steps forward to speak to his congregation. These are perilous times, he says, but he urges them not to despair.
- "There are still two weeks before the election," he says, before announcing a week of fasting and prayer in the run-up to polling day.
"Fasting and prayer", that is real desperation. How many of them will actually follow Pastor Holt's call for fasting is open to questions. But one can rest assured that they are praying. The Pentecostals are good in praying against satanic influence. To them Obama is a representative of satan. Sarah Palin has already gone through a blessing to protect her from witchcraft. John McCain might benefit from one. One gets the feeling that Republicans have been deserted by the god they claimed to have on their side. Makes me think of Mel Calman's cartoon (see below).
© Mel Calman - My God
Before the waves from reports about the Palin family's shopping spree subsided, news about her high paid traveling hair dresser/makeover artist became public. McCain campaign issued a statement that her clothes would be donated or auctioned for charity. Some kicking and screaming is inevitable. The Republicans still don't have a feel for the real world of working people. McCain's pet Joe the Plumber is too busy enjoying the media's attention to say anything about this. $150,000 would have been enough for him to get started on owning a plumbing business.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Dubaya's Last Laugh
Or The Midget's Revenge * Colin Powell's Atonement
The Last Mischief (Editorial,NY Times, Oct 18, 2008)
All presidents indulge in end-of-the-term environmental rule-making, partly to tie up bureaucratic loose ends but mainly to lock in policies that their successor will be hard pressed to reverse.
President Bill Clinton’s midnight regulations were mostly good, including a rule protecting 60 million acres of national forests from road-building and most commercial development. Not surprisingly, most of President Bush’s proposals are not.
Exhibit A is a set of six resource management plans covering 11 million acres of federal land in Utah. They would open millions of acres to oil and gas drilling and off-road vehicles, risking priceless cultural artifacts and some of the most breathtaking open spaces in America. The plans, each more than 1,000 pages, were dumped on an unsuspecting public in the last few weeks by the Bureau of Land Management.
The bureau claims that it wasn’t trying to pull a fast one and that drafts were available months ago. But the final documents are what count. The public now has only a few short weeks to register objections before the secretary of the interior makes them final.
Why the rush? The agency says it had to wrap things up before it ran out of planning money. What we are really seeing, though, is the last gasp of the Cheney drill-now, drill-everywhere energy strategy; one last favor to the oil and gas drillers and the off-road vehicle enthusiasts before a more conservation-minded president (both Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have far better records than Mr. Bush) comes to town.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Dignitas - Back in the News
The Right to Die * Daniel James
- Dr Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics and a retired GP, said the public may react differently to the idea of a young man with paralysis killing himself to an older person with a terminal illness such as cancer but from an ethical point of view the cases are similar.
- "Firstly it depends how you define a terminal condition," he said.
- "This young man had a condition which would eventually lead to his death and the timing of his death would be related to the level of medical intervention he had to keep him alive."
- He said that people do not usually expect people who are so young to want to kill themselves.
- "At that age, one would want to know if he was depressed and if that was adequately assessed and treated because that would be a very high probability for a young person, after an accident, becoming aware of how limited their life is."
- But Dr Nicholson added that from an ethical point of view he could not see much difference between the case of Daniel and an older person with a terminal, provided they were of "sound mind".
The group, based in Zurich, has caught the headlines as people with chronic diseases from around the world travel to Switzerland to ask for its help in committing suicide.
Dignitas was founded in 1998 by Swiss lawyer, Ludwig Minelli, who runs it as a non-profit organisation.
It takes advantage of Switzerland's liberal laws on assisted suicide, which suggest that a person can only be prosecuted if they are acting out of self-interest.
The law on suicide actually states:
"Whoever lures someone into suicide or provides assistance to commit suicide out of a self-interested motivation will, on completion of the suicide, be punished with up to five years' imprisonment".
Dignitas interprets this to mean that anyone who assists suicide altruistically cannot be punished.
Its specialist staff all work as volunteers to ensure there can be no conflict of interest.
If you are not a resident of Oregon and wish to avoid being hooked up to a life support system in case of terminal illness, be sure to execute an Advance Directive. The form can be downloaded, free, from Caring Connections. AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) is another source. Execution of the form will not mean assistance in dying; what it will do is to prevent being kept alive by hi-tech medical aids, quality of life be damned.
Efforts to pass ballot measure based on the Oregon law were defeated, twice, in California. Proponents of the measure were not able to fight the blizzard of ads put up by the Catholic Church, the American Medical Association, orthodox Jews, and evangelical Christian organizations.
- "Going forward, it is hard to know if and when another state or states will join Oregon. The only thing certain is that the debate over what is and is not an appropriate course of action when it comes to end-of-life decisions will continue for a long time to come." The Pew Forum
How We Die : Reflections on Life's Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland,MD, Vintage Paperback
On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, The MacMillan Co.
Final Exit by Derek Humphrey, Dell Publishing
Euthanasia and the Right to Die edited by A.B. Dowling, Peter Owen, London
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Playing the Race Card for All It Is Worth
"Violence in the voice is often only the death rattle of reason in the throat."
--John Frederick Boyes
Friday, October 10, 2008
McCain-Palin In A Malicious Gyre
The Youth Vote
Listening to: Le Voyage De Sahar (ECM Records)
Anouar Brahem - oud
Francois Couturier - piano
Jean-Louis Matinier - accordion
Morning chill fades plants,
Autumn cycles in for its
--Ginny Loeffler, Lone Tree
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Sarah Palin Didn't Blink, She Winked
If Palin, and the handlers who coached her for the debate, knew what Reagan was talking about then one can assume that they think that the program is another entitlement that should be done away with.
See Raising the White Flag of Surrender -- to Medicare
Friday, October 03, 2008
Autumn of Discontent
LONDON (MarketWatch) -- There can't have been a more ridiculous bit of legal fluff in recent memory. Yet there it is, in plain view, as part of the much-ballyhooed Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 that's been passed by the U.S. Senate. Namely, Section 503 -- "Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for children." The toy arrow provision, also dubbed the "William Tell amendment," was jointly introduced by Oregon's two U.S. senators: Ron Wyden, a Democrat, and Gordon Smith, a Republican.
It's hard to know which is more depressing: The fact that this provision found its way into the "urgently needed legislation" at all, or the fact that the U.S. tax code is littered with this kind of stuff.
Passage of the bill didn't do anything for financial markets today.
The First Walk in Autumn
mellow autumn days
the sun hides a stash of gold
from the thieving clouds
--© Beatrice V
One can hike up to the top Black Mountain (2800') from Monte Bello Open Space Preserve off Page Mill Road. Fairly easy to do. The other option is to take Rhus Ridge off Moody Road, Los Altos Hills, and, after a steep, almost a mile-long climb, follow the Black Mountain trail to the top, almost 10 miles round-trip from the parking lot. Arduous.
Last week JHL and I walked on the Black Mountain trail but not all the way to the top. We stopped for a picnic lunch, then went down to Adobe Creek (dry) and hiked back up Ewing Hill to Black Mountain Trail to return to the parking lot.
The leaves have not turned yet. In this area good displays of fall colors are not very common. It would be November before we see them.
Clematis (Pipestem) II
Clematis (Pipestem) III