Saturday, December 23, 2017

Adage in media feuds

I think this is highly amusing. What a dotard.

From the land of stupid is as stupid does #GOPTaxScam

So the gop managed to mash through their law and was trying to hold it off until next year so the more unpopular parts wouldn't go into effect until after mid-terms.

But the dotard signed it anyway.

I guess in the scheme of things this was amusing and shows a bit of hubris on their part.

Its not much, but seeing as how our congress will not listen to the constituents (by the people, for the people, and of the people indeed!), at least we can see them choking on their own shit. And laugh at their ineptitude.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dan Le Batard Went For Rob Manfred's Neck

This is all kinds of awesome. A commissioner takes one on the chin from a journalist.

It's cringe worthy and uncomfortable. But delightful.

Read about it here:

Watch the whole thing here:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Word of the day: hubris

As I listened to members of the gop talk about their "oh so wonderful" tax bill, this word cane to mind. 

This definition from Wikipedia is especially salient:

Hubris (/ˈhjuːbrɪs/ from ancient Greek ὕβρις) describes a personality quality of extreme or foolish pride or dangerous overconfidence,[1]often in combination with (or synonymous with) arrogance.[2] In its ancient Greek context, it typically describes behavior that defies the norms of behavior or challenges the gods, and which in turn brings about the downfall, or nemesis, of the perpetrator of hubris.

We need to get over ourselves and do more. 

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone. 

Star Trek: Discovery

I am finding this show to be most enjoyable.  Good sci-fi.  Good acting. Clever storylines within an episode.  Good story arc.  Interesting characters.  And, the people behind the show clearly know and understand Trek; the episodes all draw on what's known as cannon and they bring in aspects of TOS that are well thought out.

I like the twists and turns. The first two episodes took place aboard the Shenzhou, not Discovery.  And the reason was to set the tone, and to start with character development.

There is certainly some mystery in the show.  We are set 10 or so years before TOS, but nothing "feels" like TOS. The uniforms are different, much of the technology is different, and there is a cool spore drive that never gets mentioned.  Why is all of that true?

I mean, we can simply file it away as creative license.  Or its possible that this was an experimental part of star fleet that got locked up like the ark in the Indiana Jones movie. Its also possible we're in an alternate timeline of some sort. Or its possible that star fleet will get knocked backward somehow in terms of tech.

Of course, there's a fan theory that "Section 31" (which was introduced in DS9 as the shadow group that is chartered with protecting star fleet) is behind all of this.  Heck, the designation of Discovery is NCC-1031.  Could it be?

Here's a summary of the plot line:
  • A Klingon named T'Kuvma lights a beacon to unite the houses
  • He is martyred, but Voq steps in to take over as the leader, but he is abandoned by Kol who steals the cloaking technology
  • Voq is helped by another Klingon L'Rell; who is from a house of deceivers. She promises to help if he sacrifices everything
  • On Shenzhou, Michael Burnham explores an unknown object, winds up killing a klingon and starts a war
  • She commits mutiny and the klingons take out a bunch of star fleet ships.  
  • She and Captain Felipa try to capture T'Kuvma, but wind up killing him and Felipa gets killed too.
  • On her way to a penal colony, Burnham is found by Discovery and taken aboard and offered a job
  • We learn about the spore drive, how it works, and see it in action.  It is a game changer
  • Captain Lorca is captured by L'Rell and subjected to some torture
  • We meet a character named Ash on the klingon ship and he is an enigma, but Lorca trusts him
  • There is some storytelling to help us get up to speed with more details (and make for some interesting episodes)
  • And then as the season closes, Discovery wins the day, and is transported somewhere else.  Another dimension, perhaps?  That's the cliffhanger.

Its all very odd.  Now lets look at the main characters who have some interesting things about them:
  •  Michael Burnham. A woman with a mans name.  Raised by Spock's parents (Sarek and Amanda, and we see Sarek, cool?) on Vulcan.  She is logical and dispassionate.  She inadvertently stared a war and is a mutineer.  But Lorica wanted her on Discovery.  
  • Cadet Tilly.  She is Michael's roommate, and perhaps autistic.  But why is she there? And why does she have such a great job and earn so much trust?  Its another puzzle.
  • Lt. Staments.  He invented the spore drive, and is a scientist, not a soldier. He injected himself with alien DNA to control the drive; he is said to have used Eugenics...interesting.  And he is not himself ever since
  • Captain Lorca.  This guy is a crazy SOB. A war hawk.  We learned about his destroying his previous ship.  He is certainly a rogue character and enormously complicated.  He collects weapons of destruction and will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of winning the war.  He has a sensitivity to light, and keeps a tribble on his desk in early episodes.  Then, after his capture he has neither.  Odd....
  • Admiral Cornwell.  She appears and tries to get Lorca to give up his command, but is instead sent into a trap.  She is captured by the Klingons, but later returns.  Interesting story point here.  She was useful.  But why?
  • Harry Mudd.  Introducing a character from TOS was cute and clever.  But he was on the prison ship and knew a lot about Lorica and probably more. Later he torments the crew of Discovery.  Coincidence? 
  • Ash Tyler.  We met him on the prison ship.  He seems to appear out of nowhere, but Lorica instantly trusts him and they escape together.  His backstory is notably weak. which makes him a complete enigma. And everyone questions this blind loyalty. And she and Burnham have some feelings for each other to complicate things.
  • Kol.  He is the manipulative one in the klingon world. He steals cloaking tech, and gives it to anyone who helps his goals to lead the klingons
  • L'Rell.  She is quite the manipulator.  Her role is understated, but she is a master of cunning and manipulation.  She ran the prison and did tell Voq she could help him.  What will she do?
  • Voq.  The most interesting character who is likely going to play a critical role, or perhaps already is.  The show lists the actor playing him as "Javid Iqbal" but that person doesn't seem to exist.  So why the subterfuge?

So, that's where we are.  I have some thoughts on what it all means.  Here goes....
  • A fan theory is that Voq giving everything meant that the Klingons used eugenics (and cunning) to change Voq to be another being.  
  • If you watch "The Trouble With Tribbles" from TOS we see that this is the kind of thing is not far fetched as the assistant to the grain trasnporting guy turns out to be Klingon, but looks human.  We also learn that Tribbles squeal when confronted with Klingons
  • The popular wisdom suggests that Tyler is actually Voq.  One clue is that the actor who plays Tyler actually has the lastname Iqbal.  But that's too easy.  I think otherwise...
  • I see other clues.  Michael being a woman is one.  Cornwell being abducted, and returned is interesting. And don't miss that the episode where Cornwell is sent into the trap is called "Lethe"....Lethe is the name of a character on TOS "Dagger of the Mind" who came to a penal colony sometime before, after an interesting history that she won't speak of....
  • My theory is that Cornwell was captured, and disposed of in the penal colony.  And Voq is not actually a he, he's a she, and she becomes Cornwell.
  • And Discovery is part of a special bit of research in Section 31, not star fleet proper, and will be swept away at some point because something catastrophic will happen
  • We'll learn more about eugenics and the klingons
  •  Right now, Discovery is in an alternate universe -probably the same one from  TOS: "Mirror, Mirror" and DS9: "Through the Looking Glass", Plus others in Enterprise and DS9. And surely there will be new mysteries to explore
  • Tyler's appearance will have significance, because he gave up info about star fleet; and he may turn our to be a double agent, but not Voq.
  • Lorica's change may indicate he's some kind of double agent too.  Which would be an interesting twist. 
  • Probably one or both will die as a result of their conniving.

But finding out is going to be fun!  I honestly can't wait.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Today’s correspondence with “leader” McConnell


I don't live in your state, nor do I live in Alabama. But your decisions affect all of us.

It seems you have forgotten that the government is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Doug Jones was elected by the people, while mr sessions replacement was appointed to fill the role. The people have spoken and they must be heard. He should be seated before any further votes are taken.

You are so set on ramming through your absurd, and wildly unpopular "tax" bill that will increase the deficit by trillions (oh perhaps you were correct when you said it won't add to the deficit by "one penny;" it's a much larger get number) and harm everyday working Americans. All the while adding plenty of items that have nothing whatsoever to do with taxes.

If you had the gene, you would probably feel shame. But clearly you don't.

You will proceed as if somehow this is the most important thing ever in the history of the US with no debate, no CBO score, and really no time to review it.

All the while there are many much more important things that you should be focused on. Guns, climate change, Russian influence, and North Korea to name a few important ones.

But please waste your time trying to please your corporate donors.

Monday, December 11, 2017


America has always encouraged innovation. We've done amazing things as a nation. American exceptionalism really is all about *us* being better than everyone.

It's debatable who invented "the internet" but there is no doubt, no question, that the United States was the reason it took off. The US made the internet what it is today.

It's a place for free expression, collaboration, and commerce. Even a jackass person can freely express world views (even if those world views might lead the unhinged jackass to take us into WW III).

And now some douche who has the best interests of large telecom companies as his primary focus can undo it. All of it.

Essentially we've taken what we know as the internet and said "here are the keys. You decide what to do"

And you can guess it won't be good for any of us. We'll all pay the price (figuratively and literally) for his decision.

Thanks for nothing Congress! Way to give it all away. Y'all are awesome.

Read what it means here:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Summer sausage

Growing up, we always had summer sausage around this time of year. We'd sell it as a fundraiser. We'd buy it from hickory farms.

That and the port wine cheese spread were always awesome and a part of the holidays.

I don't eat beef anymore, so I haven't had it in years. When I saw it on sale today I was taken back in time....

But my question has always been this: why is summer sausage so popular in the late fall/early winter?

Monday, November 27, 2017

An open letter about #GOPTaxScam

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to the undecided GOP senators about the tax plan. Feel free to use as much of it as you like when you reach out to your senators -

I am not a resident of your state, however, I wanted to reach out to you about the tax bill currently being considered because it's breadth will affect all of us.

While I do applaud any attempt to simplify the tax code, this bill was hastily conceived and has not been fully scored by the CBO, and therefore is unlikely to do much for residents of your state, and surely will have unintended consequences.

What we do know about this bill isn't promising. For one thing, the removal of the individual mandate will cause 13 or so million nationwide (a portion of those in your state) to be uninsured, and will also raise premiums by around 10% for most people.

Meanwhile, Medicare Funding would be cut by $25 billion. That would disproportionately affect people with disabilities and the elderly – our friends and family members who need it the most.

Also, the "average tax cut" is just a myth. 50% or so of tax cuts would go to the top 5% wealthiest households in the country in the first year of the law, and gives 98% of millionaires a tax cut compared to just 27% of middle class Americans. Taxes will go up - on average - for people making under $75,000.

While some tout the potential for job creation, I think it's safe to say that the opposite is likely true: corporations will have no incentive to spend the additional tax savings, and will be more likely to move more money offshore and essentially hoard it. And the wording in the bill would encourage more outsourcing of jobs.

Furthermore, there will be cuts to infrastructure investment which would mean our roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate. And surely, when there is the inevitable next storm, less money will be available for aid and repairs.

With changes to federal aid and block grants, your state may have to increase taxes to cover the losses form federal funds.

But it doesn't stop there. Students with loans, those working on research at universities, people with medical expenses, and teachers will all be harmed by the changes to the tax code.

There are also items contained within that have nothing to do with taxation: allowing churches to have a political voice, and restricting abortion are a couple of examples that make this more than a simple change to the tax code.

In the end, the deficit will surely grow, based on the reduced taxation. The number will likely be in the trillions. We all know that many republicans believe that we should reduce the deficit; assuming you believe this as well, surely you can not find this acceptable.

And lest I forget, while Donald Trump assured us that he gets no benefit from this tax bill, but we can see this is utter nonsense. He, personally, will save tens of billions on his tax bill. This is totally self serving and should be treated accordingly. He is pushing legislation that will directly benefit him, and this is not acceptable.

I hope you will vote NO on what many call the GOP tax scam.

Thank you

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I think we’ve all taken stupid pills

We have definitely jumped yet another shark.

Once again we find ourselves looking at a huge piece of legislation that will adversely affect millions of Americans, our financial security, and a chunk of our economy.

And that future rests on, essentially, 3 people. Three freakin people represent the 350 million people and decide the future of some portion of this country.

So stupid.

It amazes me that the GOP has taken a position that they want what they want, and have changed the inner workings of congress to subvert normal order and not review any of these ginormous bills, hold no meaningful public hearings, and then put pressure on the elected people or to just vote yes.

And then, once congress has invariably voted yes, they use reconciliation to morph the bill into something even more harmful ... simply because they can.

So come on you three. Vote no!

You want changes to healthcare? To taxation? Then have at it. But make it an open process and listen to your constituents. Not just the wealthy donors. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

On guns, religion, and more....

I find it interesting that some assert their 2nd amendment right essentially is more important than anything else contained in the constitution.  And that "arms" refers to any/every thing that shoots bullets.

In the 1920s, our congress saw the use of machine guns as bad, and decided to restrict their sale to protect the citizens. But gun manufacturers figured out that by calling them "assault rifles" and making them "semi" automatic, they could essentially get around the law.  And then, others figured out that you could sell a kit that converted them to automatic, essentially skirting the law.  Aside: the word "assault" appears in the name.  What could it possibly be used for?

And this congress does nothing because "arms" means whatever you want.

The framers of the constitution had no idea what the future held for weaponry. A musket, like they had at the time, took anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute to load a single shot (depending on which type they were using and the the training of the person using it), and they were not mass produced in a factory - so only some people had them and they were mostly used to maintain order, frequently by slave owners.

And don't forget that they were wildly inaccurate.

So yes, the right to keep and bear arms should extend to anything that was developed in the 18th century. Or how about to simpler devices that don't have the ability to kill dozens in a few seconds?

That's the funny thing about the constitution.  Like many older documents, it has some things that don't really fit into today's world.

Another oddity is the 3/5ths compromise.  Some will tell you it's about black people being considered less of a person than a white person.  And that's true, but it's not.  Essentially, for the purposes of establishing representation that's how they do the math.  Remember representation is based on the population.  So, if you owned 100 slaves, they would only count as 60 people for this purpose.  And then, if a representative is assigned for every 1,000 people, this would matter.

But this law has been tweaked through amendments, because that's how we evolve.

And then, as I've pointed out before, we have the "Christian nation" argument.  It doesn't say that anywhere in the constitution.  And if the founders had tried to establish a religion, it would have been Anglican, because that's what most of them were - at least until it was time to pull away from the monarchy.

So in this case, we're interpreting the constitution to mean something it doesn't say.

My point is that it was written in a different time, and it serves as a good foundation, but it must be interpreted to be fully understood - so in one case. We take it literally, in another we misunderstand it but have amended it to make it clearer, and in the last we're assuming something that's not there.

I'm all for an amendment that clarifies what an "arm" is...

Sent from my iPad

Thursday, November 2, 2017

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain make a simple DIY particle detector!

This is a tad unusual, Ivanka edition

I get it.  We all make friends with people we have something in common with, and sometimes outsiders can't figure out why we might have such and such friend. 

At some point, ivanka made friends with Wendi Deng, who was the wife of Rupert Murdoch, the mogul who owns Fox News. That's interesting in a way, but not particularly newsworthy. 

But Deng divorced Murdoch in 2013, and is rumored to be dating .... Vladimir Putin.  And she has allegedly given ivanka access to Putin, or at least putins office because there's an email that suggests she (ivanka) had a chance to sit in Putins chair.  Whether it's actually true or not, it's not something most of us would ever do, have access to, or think about. Under normal circumstances, this might be met with a shrug.  But under the circumstances we have today, it should be rightly scrutinized. 

But wait, there's more! Deng at some point introduced ivanka to another socialite friend, Dasha Zhukova.  She is the wife of Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.  One person noted that "There's no oligarch among those still accepted in the West who's closer and more trusted by Putin than Abramovich."

Well, isn't that a remarkable coincidence?

There are photos of ivanka with dasha, of Jared and ivanka with the abramoviches at sporting events, and they have reportedly dined together. Again, nothing that unusual....except that in context it seems odd.  

Now they did disclose their relationship with abramovich on their federal forms, so in many ways there is "nothing to see here" .... except the company they are keeping appears to be closely tied to putin. And given the Russian influence, some of the timing, and the ongoing investigations, you kind of have to figure that there is more to this story.

These relationships can't be happenstance and unconnected to events we're hearing about. And el donaldo's recent (reported) rift with Jared, where he's saying that dear son-in-law led him to do things would lend credence to that.  Even if it's not connected, he's throwing shade to make it look like it's a possibility. 

You can read more about ivankas relationships here - 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Kneeling and the NFL

I'll start the conservation here because it's relevant. Tim Tebow knelt *during* games, and he was either lauded or no one cared. He was calling attention to himself for his cause: religion.

Meanwhile, black players kneel *before* the game to draw attention to their cause: social justice.  And there is much discussion and public outcry on every side of the issue. At least in part because the man in the Oval Office is race baiting. 

So the NFL is trying to decide what to do about all of this.  The only thing that really matters here is public perception and (more importantly) money.

And then the underlying race issue rears its head in the ensuing discussions. Old, white owners say really stupid things to the black players. I won't say it was intentional, but certainly the roots of racism run deep, because they said things they wanted to say, but which are at the very core of the issue.  Saying they can't let the inmates run the prison is exactly what the kneeling players are protesting in general.  Sure, it's an expression, but wrong in the context. And then to even comment on race at all for the owners isn't right.

Should the NFL do something? That's within their control and, as the workplace, they can.  But they have to ban kneeling to promote a cause, including prayer, in its entirety. And find a way to keep,it from being the focal point of games.  

Players can and should protest in their own way.  But stop saying it's about patriotism. And let's have an honest discussion about racism.  Perhaps the NFL could create a forum to let players express themselves, and let them not come out for the anthem if they so choose. And because this has become a hot button issue, maybe the players need to find a new way to express their views. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Dave’s take: Trump plans to release classified JFK documents

I see el donaldo wants to release all the JFK material. I suppose it's another attempt to distract and whatever.

And surely conspiracy theorists and some on the right will seize on excerpts to try and make some "deep state" linkage to try and tell us government is bad and to setup for the scenario that if trump face impeachment or removal then it's connected somehow.

That said, in spite of my interest in the assassination, I won't go through whatever is released.

I've waited this long. I can wait longer. The only focus should be on our hacked election and our incompetent fool in the Oval Office.

Once that's done, I'll have some reading to catch up on.

Still troubled

The ability to "micro target" and "influence voters" still troubles me. It's not so much that it happened because it probably did.

The question is about whether it helped sway the entire election.

I keep going back to the polling that was taking place. Near the end of September, the polls looked like this:
Clinton: 49%
Trump: 45%
Other: 3%
Undecided: 3%

Now to be fair, a month or so before, the undecided percentage was higher and looked something like this:
Clinton: 45%
Trump: 37%
Other: 9%
Undecided: 9%

So in essence, they each took some of the undecided and other voters.

But people are funny. Some of the ones who switched might have been single issue folks who could be swayed. But I can't see how it would be enough to swing the election, can you?

I doubt it. Especially since Clinton won the popular vote.

The more I consider it, look into it, and understand it, it seems much more likely that the effort required to affect the vote itself is much less than trying to influence voters and maybe get a result.

Think about the voter suppression efforts. The subtle attempts to change voting locations and times they were open for early voting. The mailers that went out that were intended to confuse voters. The ID requirements. The provisional ballots in some cases.

And then, of course, there is the VERY REAL prospect that votes were altered, or not counted properly.

Electronic voting is vulnerable, as and others have shown us.

Or maybe it was even simpler. We know that some election databases were hacked. To what aim? Whatever it is, it can't be good. Perhaps it was to target some voters so they would encounter issues and have to be provisional - and essentially uncounted.

Hopefully we'll know the truth one day. Our democracy depends on it. Let's simply go back to paper ballots and hand counting them until we find a better way.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Build that wall?!

I coach soccer. There is a term for when players stand in a line to prevent a good view of the goal and potentially block the kick. It's called a wall.

So we're playing today and the opposing coach tells his team to build a wall on a free kick. They do. My team cleverly passed the ball to a player near the end of that line and then that player took a shot on the goal and scored.

The opposing coach said something about the wall not moving.

And that's when the metaphor hit me: it's always possible to get around said wall.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Voting against your own self interests

I saw a recent report that el donaldos latest order which removes subsidies for the healthcare market will disproportionately impact people in 20 or so states that he won, and where people really supported him. And to be fair, these are states where people have been historically under insured - and who were helped by Obamacare.

Before Obamacare, there was money given to the state through various programs to fund public hospitals and support the states general health issues. So people could (and did) turn to the public care system when they got sick and didn't have insurance. But all that money was consolidated into the subsidy program, and its not being returned to the public health system.

So in effect, their support of this guy actually worked against their own best interests. And their own health and well being.

It makes no sense, and perhaps at some point, they will realize that they were conned.

So I have to ask "why are you hitting yourself?"

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A follow up. I know why...

While I can't understand how people are so easily influenced, I do know why the attempt was made: this was an effort to disrupt business as usual in the US. To sow seeds of civil discourse that would surely help to take the US off the world stage.

I don't think they ever imagined it work as well as it did. I think they wanted disinformation to aid the cause, but could only dream that we would be so petty, so stupid. And that it continues now is simply mind boggling.

People are still hung up on the contrived controversies like kneeling. Unbelievable.

Yes, Nelson, haha indeed.

What am I missing?

Vote hacking is one thing. That would actually change the outcome of an election.

But this whole discussion about how the voting public could be swayed by articles on Facebook, items on twitter, etc. That just baffles me.

Look, I get the technology of target ring and making people feel a certain way about a topic.

What I don't understand is the human nature of it. How is that people are so ambivalent about an election? How is it that a single issue - and a candidates position (or perceived position) on that issue - can sway you? How can a negative article about one of the candidates can push you?

Aren't we all adults here? Can't we make decision based on our own beliefs? Why do we need someone else to influence us?

I see the ads for cars and sodas, and I know people who would never, ever pick the competitor. Because they are a lifer for the one they prefer. People do the same with their sports teams.

And yet when it comes to things like an election, they can't decide and get swayed by an ad that targets them for something as simple as "so and so likes this soda better"...hey I like that soda! I need to vote for him/her!

It's amazing to me. I had a friend who used to tell me "people are dicks" and I guess she was proven to be right.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#MakeAmericaSmartAgain The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions (Address by Abraham Lincoln before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, January 27, 1838)

Lincoln had some powerful words. This speech still resonates, perhaps as much today as when he gave it in 1838. 

He was talking about abolition, and specifically about the burning of a black man. So context is important. But nevertheless, his words fit into today where there was an assault on our democracy and congress sits mostly in idle and lets it happen for their own agenda. 

The piece that of the speech I find interesting is this: 

How, then, shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years. 

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Short. Sweet. To the point. That's the beauty Dave's iPhone. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

That pesky first amendment, and religion

The first amendment to our constitution is pretty clear:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

I highlighted the relevant part to make it easy to spot. 

And yet there are some in this country (including the person in the attorney general role) who seem to think that we can allow for religious expression in government, prayer in public events, or the ability to discriminate based on religion, as a right.

Some even argue that we are some kind of Christian nation, based on the founding fathers having been moderately religious, and in part because Benjamin Franklin heavily influenced some of the thinking by helping to create the great seal and having made clear that obedience to god was a part of protecting against tyranny. Which really isn't so much about religion, as it is about protecting our fledgling nation. 

Besides, none of them was particularly devout, and they all held their faith close to their vest. Information here

So let's assume the religious folk are right. But where do we start? If we say we are "one nation under god," which god is that? In the history of humanity, there have been around 63,000 religions of some sort.  And among them, there have been an estimated 102 Billion (yes 9 zeros!) gods.  These include various forms, such as Zeus and the gods on mount Olympus, Roman gods, Egyptian gods, the thousands of Hindu gods, and so on.  

If we decide to agree on a single Christian god, then we are establishing a religion.  

Perhaps what some think is that the belief system should draw from what our founding fathers thought of as religion.

Let's explore that. 

There were three main religions in America at the time of the revolution: Anglican, Congregationalist, and Presbyterian. 

The Anglican Church was (and is) the official Church of England. It is based on the monarchy, and it had a fundamental problem in America, from Wikipedia:  
For these American patriots, even the forms of Anglican services were in doubt, since the Prayer Book rites of MatinsEvensong and Holy Communion, all included specific prayers for the British Royal Family. Consequently, the conclusion of the War of Independence eventually resulted in the creation of two new Anglican churches, the Episcopal Church in the United States in those states that had achieved independence

So should it be the episcopal church instead? Wikipedia notes that:
Embracing the symbols of the British presence in the American colonies, such as the monarchy, the episcopate, and even the language of the Book of Common Prayer, the Church of England almost drove itself to extinction during the upheaval of the American Revolution.[27] More than any other denomination, the War of Independence internally divided both clergy and laity of the Church of England in America, and opinions covered a wide spectrum of political views: patriots, conciliators, and loyalists. While many Patriots were suspicious of Loyalism in the church, about three-quarters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were nominally Anglican laymen, including Thomas JeffersonWilliam Paca, and George Wythe.[28] It was often assumed that persons considered "High Church" were Loyalists, whereas persons considered "Low Church" were Patriots; assumptions with possibly dangerous implications for the time.

So while it's reasonable to assume that episcopal works for this, its early version was very different than what we see today. Besides these factions would have neutered it as the one religion. Even if it was, do you think that everyone would accept that we are an episcopal nation?

The Congregational church was much more liberal.  Again from Wikipedia:
Within the United States, the model of Congregational churches was carried by migrating settlers from New England into New York, then into the Old North West, and further. With their insistence on independent local bodies, they became important in many social reformmovements, including abolitionismtemperance, and women's suffrage. Modern Congregationalism in the United States is largely split into three bodies: the United Church of Christ, the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, which is the most theologically conservative.

So this doesn't fit with the current view of Christianity, based on the shift being much more recent. 

The presbyterians were more complex, based on the teachings of Calvin and Knox, coming from the reformist Protestant movement.  The religion came from primarily Scotland, where there was an interest in not being beholden to the crown.  But in the Americas, there were many dissenting views, and several factions that wanted Presbyterianism to spread and grow in different ways.  Around the time of the revolution, they had come together, mostly, seeking moral purity, but the Scottish tried to sway and influence them more. So there is uncertainty about their cause and purpose.  They were led by a counsel of elders who tried to influence government as well. 

The problem here is that it was the smallest of the three main faiths, so it's unlikely to have been so influential in the direction of the founding fathers. 

And as I noted, we can add to this discussion that the points of view of the patriots, loyalists, and others would have been more puritanical in nature. And certainly not the form of Christianity we see practiced today. 

Maybe the religion was Judaism, because there was a small group that founded the first synagogues around the time of the revolution.  Or does that not fit with the point of view?

In summary, the founding fathers did not establish religion, rather they diverged from that notion. 

And so for anyone to say that we're a Christian Nation is either deluded or outright lying to you. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017


In context of the news this week where some of our elected officials give their only answer as "thoughts and prayers," perhaps the headline should read "where is the Calvary?"

That would be apt.

My recent (CR)APple experience

I do love my apple products. But sometimes it's absolutely painful to work with them.

Take my recent experience. We changed mobile carriers. Two of us were getting new iPhones, while the kids were keeping theirs. 

Of the 4 phones, how many do you think could be called an easy change?  None!  That's right, 100% of the devices had some sort of issue. 

We made sure to unlock both the phones we were moving. First off, what a stupid thing that is. Why are they locked?!   One of them didn't actually get unlocked, though we were told it did, and there's no way to actually for the consumer to tell...until you put the new SIM card in. We got a message that it couldn't be used on the new network. It actually said to contact apple for assistance. So I did. Except that Apple couldn't help me; it's the carriers issue. After much explanation, they finally figured it out and unlocked it.

But along the way, I had to back up the phone (a step the carrier recommended).  To restore the phone from iTunes, we were required to use the oh-so-stupid two-factor authentication. And the iPad attached to the account was locked and I didn't know the password (but my son did). So it took longer than it should have to restore. 

The second device we moved worked perfectly for about 12 hours, then it changed to "no service" and when I took the sim out and replaced it,  it changed to "invalid sim."  I realize this isn't technically an apple issue, but it was frustrating nevertheless. [edit: turns out it was an Apple issue not a SIM card issue. I had to plug the phone into my computer and let iTunes figure out that the phone needed an update. Once it ran, it worked on the new carrier again. Why didn’t anyone mention that?!]

Phone #3 was a new one.  First order of business, back the old one up.  For whatever reason, the machine I was using had many issues and it took several hours to create a backup.  I learned later it was a bug in iTunes.  So there's that.  But wouldn't you know, our internet went out, and so the restoration process was harder than it should have been...especially when I came to realize the new phones REQUIRED the latest version of iTunes ... Which I couldn't download because, no internet. 

Phone #4 was the real challenge. Another new phone. Now I had backed up the one it was replacing onto a computer a week or so before, because it wasn't working right and I didn't want to lose anything on it.  I had thought about backing it up to iCloud as well, but I'll be honest and say that I could figure out how, precisely, the iCloud backup works.  I find the documentation lacking. I also thought I backed up the photos to iCloud, but I missed a setting apparently, and didn't. So just as well.

I got the phone setup....and...where's the backup? It's not on the list to restore. So I selected one prior to that and restored. But where were my pictures, contacts, and other assorted items? Were they gone?

I poked around the Internet and learned some things. First, I learned that sometimes the backups via iTunes to a computer fail. More often than you might think.  Most people don't notice because they don't try and restore. But when it happens to you and you've already reset the device? Oops.  So the "pro tip" is to do the backup, and then to click the restore button to see if the backup is there. 

I also learned that when the backup fails, the data still exists in a backups folder on your computer, and it's not hard to find; It's just missing the plist and manifest files that act as the index. What I did was to copy the missing files from another backup into this folder and I ran one of (actually several) of the iTunes backup explorer tools that are available. It allowed me to see that everything was, in fact, there. 

But I didn't want to pay to recover everything. So instead I copied all the files >1MB to another folder and changed the extension to .jpg. Voila. There were my pictures. Yes the names are weird. And also yes, the exif data is missing. But I have pictures of the kids. 

I looked for any gaps in my contact list and half finished text messages and picked them up and re-added them to the device manually. 

It was work. Many hours of work. But it sure beat losing them. 

Along the way, by the way, I turned off two-factor authentication to make things easier. It was NOT easier, and proved even harder. Frustrated, I turned it back on.

In all, the simple migration to a new carrier and upgrade to two new phones took somewhere between 20-24 hours. And a lot of grit and frustration. 

And I ask again: why is this so freaking hard?!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kneeling athletes

Tell me again how this is *not* about racism?

It seems odd to me that fans turn a blind eye when a player assaults another person, whether it's beating up someone at a club, obstructing justice in someone's death, or dragging a woman out of an elevator by her hair.

But they suddenly draw the line when players don't stand for anthem. Where was the outrage before?

And now we hear from faux patriots saying the anthem and the flag are so important. And they now despise the nfl and football because they aren't doing something about it.

But where we these same people when the nfl and it's owners pretended to be patriotic, inviting vets to games at a cost to the military? When the nfl wanted us to believe they were patriotic but were really just in it for the bottom line?

IMHO that's 100x worse than a player who exercises their constitutional rights to a silent protest.

And please don't give me the crap about them being on the job. Their employers are allowing it and it's not while they are actually working.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The cowboys kneeling

Before last nights game, I heard reports that jerry jones had instructed players that they should not be disrespectful and kneel during the anthem, and there would be consequences if they did.

And then, in a surprise move that delighted many, the whole team locked arms and kneeled - with him - in a show of solidarity before the anthem started. The fans booed, and the commentators appreciated it. Afterward, it was the talk of the town.

But it bothered me. Because while it showed solidarity, it undercut the nature of the kneeling movement in large part. The owner had them kneel, but made it awkward because he was directing his players to do so. And then they stood with arms locked during the anthem so no one could deviate.

In the back of mind I thought, hey look the old white guy is controlling the message in a way that looks like he's taking on the issue, but really is him telling everyone what to do.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trump, russia, and collusion

A while ago, I suggested that perhaps the dotard (amusing nickname) wasn't complicit in the russia hack and he was a patsy / easy target.

But in reading more and listening to things that come out, I'm rethinking that. I now believe he was more than the recipient of Russia's efforts and sort of lucked into it. Rather, I am now thinking he was complicit.

Maybe I underestimated him and he's smarter than I thought (and he looks!) and realized what was going on and accepted it.

My rationale has to do with how he engaged with Russia along the way, and now he stirs the pot every time there's some connection made to Russia - in order to distract. The timing is too perfect and the distractions are exactly what you might expect from someone who comes across as clueless but is really conniving.

There are some folks that are following what russia is tracking on social media. And it's always related to things trump says. Coincidence? Doubtful.

I have no specific evidence at this point. But man russia is manipulating things so wildly and we just stand idly by and fight about race, the flag, and other issues that shouldn't be this divisive. Talk about them winning the Cold War...

Caption the photo as "Donald trump takes a knee"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Vote no on trumpcare

Please vote NO on the healthcare bill. It will destroy services for disabled children and adults. Please do the right thing again and stop it. I read the following in the newspaper. It "violates the precept of 'first do no harm'" and "would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage." – American Medical Association, which represents doctors.

It is "the worst healthcare bill yet." – American Nurses Association.

It "would erode key protections for patients and consumers." – American Hospital Association.

The "process [in the Senate] is just as bad as the substance. ... Most Americans wouldn't buy a used car with this little info." – AARP.

The bill will "weaken access to the care Americans need and deserve." – American Heart Association, jointly with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes and Lung associations, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the March of Dimes and others.

"This bill harms our most vulnerable patients." – American Psychiatric Association.

It would hurt "consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market; cutting Medicaid; pulling back on protections for pre-existing conditions." – America's Health Insurance Plans.

It "would lead to a loss of health insurance for at least 32 million people after 2026. ... By repealing the ACA's coverage expansions and cutting deeply into the Medicaid program, the Graham-Cassidy bill threatens the health care of as many as 100 million people, from newborns to the elderly." – Sara Collins, The Commonwealth Fund.

in NYT does all this plus destroy services for disabled

David Leonhardt

Op-Ed Columnist

Defenders of the new Trumpcare — the Graham-Cassidy bill — are telling Jimmy Kimmel to be quiet and leave the health policy debate to the experts. So I wanted to give you a quick rundown this morning of what the experts are saying about the bill:

It "violates the precept of 'first do no harm'" and "would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage." – American Medical Association, which represents doctors.

It is "the worst healthcare bill yet." – American Nurses Association.

It "would erode key protections for patients and consumers."  American Hospital Association.

The "process [in the Senate] is just as bad as the substance. ... Most Americans wouldn't buy a used car with this little info." – AARP.

The bill will "weaken access to the care Americans need and deserve." – American Heart Association, jointly with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Diabetes and Lung associations, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the March of Dimes and others.

"This bill harms our most vulnerable patients." – American Psychiatric Association.

It would hurt "consumers and patients by further destabilizing the individual market; cutting Medicaid; pulling back on protections for pre-existing conditions." – America's Health Insurance Plans.

It "would lead to a loss of health insurance for at least 32 million people after 2026. ... By repealing the ACA's coverage expansions and cutting deeply into the Medicaid program, the Graham-Cassidy bill threatens the health care of as many as 100 million people, from newborns to the elderly."  Sara Collins, The Commonwealth Fund.

Take that, Jimmy Kimmel. You're nothing but a late-night talk show host trying to prevent your fellow citizens from losing access to decent medical care.

In today's Times, Paul Krugman brings back the three-legged stool to explain Graham-Cassidy.