9/29/12

The Foggy, Foggy Dew

An unusual foggy condition, 0700 09.29.2012 in The Holy Land:









9/28/12

Thunderstorm 09.27.2012

Three shots from last evening's thunderstorm:


Shot from Sierra Vista Overlook, on CO 71 near US 350. Looking at the storm as it passes over La Junta.
About 8:00 PM, from the hill just south of county road BB, on county road 24.5 (The Mount of Olives). Looking east at the storm over La Junta. All the light is from cloud-to-cloud lightning. Shot at 1/250 f:2.8 ISO 10000.

Ditto. Good blast of cloud-to-cloud lightning.

9/23/12

Airport Fun Day 09.22.2012

We have an Airport Fun Day gallery up on WritingPlaces.com:

Airport Fun Day

9/21/12

"Hecho en Chine" redux

We've been hearing a lot about 'Christian' businesses lately. 'All-American' businesses, whatever that means.Recently, we had the Chik-Fil-A dustup. They are a 'Christian' business, and 'All-American' business, owned by flag-waving 'real' Americans. Right now, we have a similar dustup over at Hobby Lobby, another 'Christian' business owned by an 'all-American' Christian family, who are presumably flag-wavers as well. Add to that the continuing just-below-the-surface 'shop local' thing, and we have a pretty interesting mix of mostly unreasoning emotions.

So here is a reprint of a post that first appeared here at BloggerCentral back on 3 Feb 2010:
+++++

In her speech to the Chamber of Commerce the other evening, Rachel Wallace observed:

There is a lot of talk about thinking and shopping local and what local is. Have every one of us gone to Pueblo to buy something. Yes. But we are missing the point. THINK local first. If you go to Pueblo 10 times a month, go seven and spend it here. Why? Because shopping is more than just grabbing a bargain. Shopping is an investment. It is a political action. It is a vote we are casting on the future of our community. There are choices to be made and we can all, to varying degrees, make those choices.

“Shopping is an investment …”.

We were in Hobby Lobby in Pueblo last week. Curious, I started picking up items of merchandise to check the country of origin labels. I found that from the cash register area all the way back to the art supplies, every single piece I checked – and I checked a lot of them – was “Made in China”. Well … hold on … there were some items that were made in Vietnam, and a few from India. In the entire store, we found a few artist’s canvases that were made in USA, and some of the fabric. Some of the oil paints were English.

Some of the labels were not even in English. Not even a little bit. “Hecho en China”, if you please. Or even if you don’t please.

Over in Sears, and in JC Penney, I found that almost all of the clothes and shoes were from China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, or Mexico, or El Salvador. Not the USA. Tools, electronics, lawn care equipment … you name it. Almost none of it was from the USA. Most of us are aware of this to some extent, but until you actually walk through a store checking item by item, the magnitude of it may well escape you.

Here’s the thing: I agree with Ms Wallace about that ‘community investment’ thing. But if America’s entrepreneurs … if America’s business ‘community’ … is so driven by the bottom dollar that it cannot invest in the national community in that quest for the bottom line … and if our local businesses are entitled to shop outside the local community in order to get the most for their dollars – that ‘bottom line’ again … what can I, the lowly customer do? As a customer, apparently I can’t even exercise my right to get the most for my dollar by shopping where my dollars stretch the most. If I do – and I’m vocal about it – why … I must hate the town and everyone in it, and I certainly should be canned because we all know who pays my salary, and … apparently … that makes it obligatory for me to shop where I’m told to shop. Or else. How does that attitude fit into the old ‘American entrepreneur’ view?

We moved here in 1978. “They” were running surveys about shopping downtown back then. Some other surveys have been run since. Oddly, in the thirty-odd years since we moved here, those surveys seem to indicate the same concerns … over and over again. Doesn’t that indicate that the customers’ concerns, the customers likes and dislikes, have been largely ignored? So why do they ask my opinion when they so obviously don’t want it? What it seems to boil down to is when the business community wants my opinion as a customer … they’ll give it to me. Isn’t that a strange way to respond to customers? Whatever happened to ‘the customer is always right’? When did it become the responsibility of the customer to make sure businesses survived? Where is that good ol’ all-American entrepreneurial spirit and drive?

A fellow who is a third generation La Juntan recently told me that ten years ago, if he went to Walmart to shop, he knew everyone he met there. Today, he says, he feels that he knows fewer than half of the people he will meet there. “There are a lot of new faces in the Valley,” he observed.

Yes. But the population here has declined, hasn’t it. So that means the percentage of ‘new faces’ is actually quite a bit higher relatively speaking. Is it possible that those ‘new faces’ have very different shopping patterns and shopping expectations than those of the crowd whose great grandpas played poker with T.T. Woodruff and Chuck Denney down at the Masonic Lodge, and who fondly remember ‘the way it was’? Is it possible that even some of the old crowd has changed shopping habits and expectations to fit an entirely different market model? What ever happened to the idea of ‘building a better mousetrap’, especially when the old mousetrap so obviously no longer works?

In reaction to the loss of what has traditionally been a Democrat’s seat in the senate, Barack H. Obama has vowed to keep on “fighting” for his so-called “health care reform”. Yet a considerable majority of Americans have come to oppose ObamaCare. So who is the president fighting? We the People? When did We the People become the president’s enemy?

Similarly, Ms. Wallace encourages the Chamber of Commerce not to yield. Yield to whom? The customers, whose opinions are expressed by their shopping habits and patterns? The larger business community, who are demonstrably not in the least interested in investing in America, and for whom ‘made in America” is a sad joke? An exhortation to ‘not to yield’ implies an adversarial relationship somewhere. My question here is … with whom does the Chamber perceive that adversarial relationship? And why?

Ralph Waldo Emerson didn’t really make that comment about better mousetraps. What he did say was this:

If a man has good corn or wood, or boards, or pigs, to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house, though it be in the woods.


Business owners who understand and apply that concept will do pretty well, in my observation. Unless, of course, Obama has any say in it. Or our friends and business partners, the Chinese.

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The 'issue' with Hobby Lobby has to do with ObamaCare and the requirement that birth control be provided. Or more precisely with Hobby Lobby, that the 'morning after' pill (the so-called 'slut pill') be provided.  Over on the Boycott Hobby Lobby Facebook page, the rightwing super-patriots are ripping the shorts off all those 'loose wimmin' who are protesting Hobby Lobby's position.

Yeah. All those red-blooded, 'this is a Christian nation', Glenn Beck-loving flag-wavers are supporting Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby, arguably America's largest storefront for Chinese goods.

Meanwhile ... if the employees are contributing a sizeable chunk of change to their health care insurance, why should they not be able to obtain those meds which they and their doctors believe that they require? The Hobby Lobby position is based on religious views, not on medical reasons, not even on fiscal reasons. Why is it up to the employer to unilaterally decide, based on irrational non-medical reasoning, what the plan participants may or may not have?


9/20/12

Hobby Lobby under the gun

Hobby Lobby is facing a furious backlash over their position regarding ObamaCare:

Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby filed the suit Sept. 12 in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, alleging that the ObamaCare mandate violates the religious beliefs of the company's owners. The suit followed similar suits by Catholic colleges and a Denver-based company whose owners also objected to the mandate on religious grounds. While a judge has not yet ruled on Hobby Lobby's suit, a Facebook page calling for a boycott of the company, which operates 500 stores in 41 states, has appeared online, and several other forums have featured posts urging customers to steer clear of Hobby Lobby.

and

Hobby Lobby owner David Green is a devout Baptist who owns one of the world's largest collections of Biblical artifacts. The Barret Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents Green in his suit, argued that compliance with the offending portion of the health care law  that the nature of their suit is “would force religiously-motivated business owners like plaintiffs to violate their faith under the threats of millions of dollars in fines.”

Green may be a devout Baptist, and he is clearly a smart, successful businessman, but he is making his millions running a store front for The Chinaman. Almost everything in the store is made in China. Even the little American-flag-waving patriotic figures are made in China. Most of that Fourth of July junk the store sells just before Independence Day is made in China. All you have to do to see this walk through the store looking at the labels on things.

How many American jobs have gone down the tubes because of outfits like Hobby Lobby?

Let's wave the flag some more, while thumping the Bible.

This ObamaCare thing is just another reason to shop elsewhere.

Related articles:

Hobby Lobby crafts lawsuit to keep employees from getting slut pills
Hobby Lobby sues over morning-after pill
 Hobby Lobby files suit opposing Affordable Healthcare Act

Keeping one's eyes on Jesus

The far right evangelicals are at it again:

Pastors pledge to defy IRS

The defiant move, they hope, will prompt the IRS to enforce a 1954 tax code amendment that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from making political endorsements. Alliance Defending Freedom, which is holding the October summit, said it wants the IRS to press the matter so it can be decided in court. The group believes the law violates the First Amendment by “muzzling” preachers.

and

“The purpose is to make sure that the pastor -- and not the IRS -- decides what is said from the pulpit,” Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for the group, told FoxNews.com. “It is a head-on constitutional challenge.”

One can only wonder where Stanley went to law school. Possibly the same place as our other Constitutional Scholar, Barack H. Obama.

No one is 'muzzling' these people. They're taking the king's shilling by accepting that tax exemption, and now they don't want to play by the rules.

All they have to do is not take the exemption, and they can rant and rave in the best Glenn Beck manner, as much as they want.

But they want their cake, and they want to eat it, too.They like that tax exemption. It is essentially free money for them. It's just another form of greed.

If I want politics on Sunday morning, there are all kinds of political analysts I can watch, across a wide range of political ideologies. I don't need fundie stegosaurus-hunting literalist  preachers telling me how I should vote. OTOH, perhaps the parishioners of these pastors are too stupid to figure it out for themselves?

“I’m very concerned about the spiritual side of this,” Garlow told FoxNews.com. “There’s a phenomenon occurring in America and that’s a loss of religious liberty.”

Actually, the only 'loss of religious liberty' stems from people like Garlow, who seem to think we should all attend churches approved by him and his cronies.

Sorry, Garlow. It doesn't work that way. And God willing, it won't.

Garlow would do better to keep his eyes on Jesus, rather than on his political agenda.

9/12/12

The jawbone of an ass ... 'timshel'

We've been watching season 1 of "Hell on Wheels"

Episode 9 was pretty good. It was titled 'Timshel.'

Now, if you have read 'East of Eden', you will recognize that. You'll remember the conversation about it, between Sam and Lee. It is described here as the best midrash on the matter, better even than those produced through the most exacting rabbinical argument - at least for we mere lay people.

The discussion is about Cain killing Abel, in Genesis, and the meaning of the word 'timshel.' It is, I think, one of the best arguments making the case for free will, and against predestination, as one will find.

During the fight scene at the river, which is linked from YouTube below, the music played is 'Timshel', by Mumford and Sons. You may have also heard it as 'As brothers we will stand.'

It's a brutal scene, where 'brother' is pitted against 'brother' in the figurative sense - one human against another ... and as Black Moon kills his brother Pawnee Killer near the end of the scene, in the literal sense.



But what stimulated a bit of discussion was the part where Bohannon, out of ammunition and with no other weaponry to hand, grabs the jawbone of some animal and bloodily dispatches a Cheyenne Dog Soldier.

'Timshel', the segment from 'East of Eden', and the nature of the song by Mumford and Sons would indicate the analogy here is Cain's killing of Abel, and the choices made both in launching the fight, and the choice to stand to. Timshel. "Thou mayest ..." which, as Steinbeck points out in his character Lee's explanation, offers the choice: "Thou mayest not...", leaving 'timshel' to be perhaps "...  the most important word in the world."

As we were discussing it, I mentioned Cain killing Abel with the jawbone of an ass. Leece took exception, remarking that the bible does not state how Cain killed Abel, and in any case, it was Samson who wielded the jawbone of an ass with considerable homicidal efficiency.

"But everyone knows he used the jawbone of an ass!" I argued.

"How? How does 'everyone' know that?" Leece asked.

"Well, it's in the bible!" I exclaimed. And almost instantly realized that if she said it wasn't, I was almost certainly whistling a heathenishly ignorant Dixie.

She's right, of course. The bible makes no mention of how Cain killed Abel.

But biblical art; classical art; is full of examples of Cain killing Abel, and in many of those works of art, he is shown wielding the jawbone of an ass.

In 'Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes Vol 35 1972', we find an article by A.A. Barb, which takes note of these works of art and their depiction of the weapon as the jawbone of some animal, and which further states:

"...from at least the 9th century AD, Irish and Anglo-Saxon literary tradition maintained that the jawbone was that of an ass. It has been established that both the literary tradition, and artistic representation of the jawbone as a weapon,originated in early medieval Hiberno-Saxon Insular art and spread thence to the continent, but so far there has been no satisfactory answer of where the idea for this curious weapon originated ...".

Barb goes on to discuss what other forms of weaponry might have been used by Cain.

"It's interesting how culture can color our perceptions of what the bible says, even when it doesn't say anything," Leece remarked, as she polished off the last of  her sopapilla, there in Mexico City.

Ain't it, though. Would that a fundamentalist or two were listening ... particular those of a political bent.

Speaking of choice of weaponry ... in the video, we see some fine representations of the Winchester Model of 1866. We see no mention in Genesis of these, either.

Update 09.19.2012: Leece has posted on this with How Cain Killed Abel and God is not logical.

9/7/12

Dropping the religious chalupa

The Republicans continue to use God as a political ping-pong ball, as though the Almighty were ... oh ... a military uniform one could flaunt, or a flag in which one could wrap oneself, thereby proving that one is worthy to hold office.

The Democrats apparently withdrew God's membership in their party. He wasn't mentioned in the 2012 platform. Nobody seemed to notice, or much care - I don't know what God thought about it, but I doubt that he really cared, considering that he is clearly a Republican anyway - nobody seemed to notice, until Mitt Romney noticed, and called the Dems on it.

Then, Obama scrambled to 'fix' the situation. Claiming shock and surprise at the omission of God, and of any mention of Jerusalem, Obama told 'em he wanted it fixed. But despite what The Big O thinks, he does not rule by fiat, and A Vote Had To Be Taken.

That didn't work out very well:


That was clearly a two-thirds vote in favor? Tony was clueless and called it three times, before calling it like The Big O wanted it.

OK, so ... are the Dems a collection of Godless pinkos, bent on the destruction of America as we have known and loved her?

Nah. Why, I know lots of Democrats who go to church on Sunday and who profess to believe in God, and even in Jesus.

Could it be that the Dems, for all their faults, recognize that many Americans are not Christians, are not adherents to faiths rooted in that oft-touted 'Judeo-Christian tradition', and come from such diverse backgrounds that a reference to 'God' in the political arena is a bit much?

The major fault with the Republicans is that they cannot separate religion from politics. That is clear from their own platform. That is why we have the likes of Huckabee, Santorum, Bachmann, Quist, and any number of others trying to shove their version of God down our throats. These people demonstrate that the government requires protection from the church, as much as the other way around.

Leece is of the opinion that if one is really a Christian, or at least one who is really trying to be a Christian, and embracing Christ's teachings, then this will show through in lifestyle and manner of personal conduct. And that will translate over to how a person behaves as a politician. There is no need to insert God into any political party platform.

But Obama, realizing how the Republicans play this, just had to react to his strings being pulled by Obama ... and now the Democrats look like bigger clowns than before, with Mayor Tony pulling that farce of a vote the other day. In their own way, the Dems are as big a collection of clowns as the Republicans.

How sad for America.Meanwhile, all the pathetic little political Chihuahuas are nipping away at the dropped religious chalupa.

9/3/12

Shootin' yerself in the foot

 University of Texas backs professor in battle with gay blogger

Gay blogger Scott Rose launched an attack on University of Texas associate professor Mark Regnerus, after Regnerus published a study comparing children of same-sex parents with those of heterosexual couples. Why? Because Rose didn't like Regnerus' findings.

That's all. He just didn't like the findings. Apparently, since Regnerus' findings didn't say what Rose wanted them to say, Regnerus must have cheated in his research, or must have been slovenly in putting the data together and analyzing it. Something like that. Because the findings didn't suit the gay 'community' Regnerus must be an academic liar and cheat.

After [the study] was published, blogger Scott Rose accused Regnerus of scientific misconduct in two letters to the school, first charging Regnerus with deviating from “ethical standards” for research and later accusing him of “possible falsification” of research. Rose, who is gay, claimed the study was compromised because it was funded by the conservative Witherspoon Institute and that Regnerus was unable to be impartial because he is Catholic.

Following Rose's logic, then, can we assume that he is taking exception with Regnerus not because of any improprieties in Regnerus' methodology, but simply because Rose is gay and therefore he is incapable of any objectivity? Is that not the basis of his "j'accuse" regarding Mark Regnerus? Or does Rose's goose not cook the same as his gander?

In this day and age, you would expect the University of Texas to recoil in shock and dismay at the heterophobic attack by Rose, and chastise Regnerus.

But they did not. Instead, they formed a panel to examine Rose's allegations about Regnerus and the study. And the panel found:

The University of Texas at Austin has determined that no formal investigation is warranted into the allegations of scientific misconduct lodged against associate professor Mark Regnerus regarding his July article in the journal Social Science Research," the school said in a statement. "As with much university research, Regnerus’ New Family Structures Study touches on a controversial and highly personal issue that is currently being debated by society at large.

"The university expects the scholarly community will continue to evaluate and report on the findings of the Regnerus article and supports such discussion,” the statement concluded.

In essence, Rose has demonstrated once again the intolerance of the gay community - at least that part of the gay community that writes, speaks, and publishes in the public venue. They are at least as intolerant, in their own way, as is the 'Christian' Right in theirs.

All Rose has accomplished is to provide more fodder for those who say - with a fair amount of accuracy - that the gay community is in fact intolerant, and would wallow in the same level of ignorance as do the 'Christian' Right with their 'droves of stegosauruses' and other Creationist nonsense.

In other words, Rose has shot himself, and his comrades, in both feet. It makes it difficult for moderates and independents, who don't care much one or the other about 'gay marriage' and other matters of importance to the gay 'community', to form any measure of support for people like Rose. They are moderates and independents because they don't care for extremes on either side of the aisle. When people like Rose raise their shrill, accusatory voices over something like Regnerus' study, they come across in the same vein as the likes of Bachmman, Quist, Huckabee, Santorum,and the rest of the far right whackjobs. Like it or not, Rose needs the moderates and independents. Too bad he hasn't figured that out.