Saturday, June 27, 2015

A couple Thoughts on Confederate Battle Flag Hysteria

-The following text was begun as a comment on a thread to a liberal group I follow on Facebook.  As it got longer I realized it wasn’t appropriate for that venue and decided to post it here and invite a friend to read it and give me his feedback.  This post is not as complete as I would have written it if I had been writing expressly for this blog.  -thanks

Am I the only one that sees this flag uproar as a diversion? It's the same as saying "there's no racism, I’ve never seen a KKK burning cross"... or, we could say "you never see news reports of black folk getting lynched anymore, we can't be racists". Anyone who comments on the Confederate Battle Flag, IN MY OPINION, is aiding in diverting attention from the true issues/problems. White folk and black folk don't know each other. By avoiding each other we keep the walls of fear and ignorance high. The national sentiment that has swept the country to where most people support gay marriage, or at least enough folks to impact policy, is amazing, but it's troubling in that in the time this has swept our nation, we still don't understand each other across the races.

I have a few questions that can help. Someone says "I have a black friend", ask that person "when's the last time you had him over for dinner? Went to dinner? A picnic? Were there more than 1 of your black friends families at that picnic". Don’t leave it as a test but maybe ask "why not do it sometime". We need to socialize; we need to be able to ask questions of each other that matter. We need to learn, at a personal level, what we have in common and also what is different in our experiences and lives.

When I was a boy, my dad ran the company picnic. We had a group of his coworkers over for a planning meeting. One guy and his wife were there with their newborn baby (they were an African American family, Darryl and I can't remember the wives name) during the night my mom asked "why isn't the baby's hair curly, like yours" ... 5 white faces lost all expression. As if it were ridiculous to ask a person why they are different. Perhaps they feared Darryl would lose it. Darryl and his wife smiled and explained it takes some time to become curly, that babies’ hair is straight. And we moved on. It was no big deal to them. But I always remembered to looks on the faces of the white grownups in the room. It was like some secret rules existed that you don't ask about differences. We only learn, like and accept people by learning about them.

Not all of my friends are "like" me. One of my dearest friends holds the diametrically opposite political beliefs to what I have. We tease each other, we question each other. Our different viewpoints lead to learning from each other. Not every city/town in America is diverse enough for what I'm asking. WE really aren't very much developed when compared to where we were as a society in the 60s when change swept through the society. Martin Luther's dream, was a dream, he died, we all think the change has happened, that just shows how devoted we, AS A SOCIETY, NOT YOU READING THIS, are, and have been, to keeping the races separated. I could be wrong of course. the force that keeps our black and white Americans from understanding each other might just be that silly flag.

White America has found a way to avoid the real issue, hate, fear, and ignorance, and we've found a 150 year old piece of cloth to hide behind. If I were a black man, I'd be constantly slapping my forehead and shaking my head in disgust. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Zoupa di Pollo da Giovanucci D

I’ve been eating a lot of chicken soup lately. 
I’ve decided to skip the canned Campbell’s soup and try something else. 
So I bought a Jar of bullion and and followed the directions.  Not too bad.  But not great either. 
So I started adding things.   After that evening, I started thinking about other things I could do.  Here’s my first attempt at chicken soup.
1 Frozen Chicken Breast Fillet 5 cups water
1 can Campbells Chicken Soup 3 bullion cubes
1 C Penne Pasta / crumbled 4 Tbsp Butter
Zesty Italian Dressing Chives
Salt Pepper
Start 1 cup of water to boil
Put all the butter into a skillet and slice the chicken into quarters, cook on medium heat turning frequently.
Once you’ve browned the chicken breasts heat over low heat until the water boils.  Once the water boils add the water to the skillet of chicken. Set to simmer.
now boil the four cups of water.  Once it boils add the three bullion cubes.  reduce heat. 
About the time the chicken has simmered about 15 minutes turn the heat off. 
Add the can of chicken soup to the water/bullion.  Add about 1/4 cup of chives. Allow it to boil once again. Add Penne Pasta.
While the soup is heating to a boil remove the chicken from the pan, pour the butter/water into the soup pot.
Cube the chicken and put it into a food processor and process on high for 15 seconds. 
Add the processed chicken to the pot.  Along with a squirt or two of Italian dressing.
cook on low heat for at least 20 minutes.
add salt and pepper to taste.
FANTASTIC!

Friday, May 25, 2012

I’ve held this in long enough

Is anyone else tired of hearing about the First Amendment?  Is anyone else tired of the way that it’s twisted to mean more than (it seems) was originally intended?  Here is the text of the First Amendment.  I have not edited it at all. 

Amendment 1

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.

Allow me to explain why this is bothering me so much.  All day on the news today there is talk of how leaders of the Catholic religion are suing the United States government because Obamacare (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) requires that employer provided healthcare plans include coverage for birth control, the morning-after pill and surgical sterilization.  Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, MS said, “Never before in the history of our country has the federal government attempted to force citizens to directly purchase what violates their consciences and their freely chosen tenets of faith”.  To Bishop Morin I say,…. “It’s about time”.

Here’s my point.  Once you decide to open a business, and hire other Americans to do your work, you are not in a position, Bishop, to control that other person.  An example is where a religious group opens a hospital or a school.  The Catholics, up to and including now, have offered their employees healthcare that does not include these services.  Now, the churches don’t require you to be of their religion to work in their hospital.  Yet they do require you to accept benefits that abide their tenets, even if they don’t coincide with your personal beliefs.  It would seem that the Catholics only believe in their freedom as a church and not their employees freedoms as Americans. 

I do not find this to be a violation of the churches First Amendment rights.  Forcing the business that is the Catholic Religion to extend benefits to their employees does not force them to abandon their religious beliefs.  It does however prevent them from imposing their set of values upon employees.  Seems to me as this is a major victory for the employees.  Yet over 43 different Catholic organizations are filing suit against the United States Government.  Making employers extend insurance coverage to their employees does not “prohibit the free exercise of Religion”, that is what the first amendment says.  It does not say that “Catholics can do whatever they want and anyone that works for them must live their life as a Catholic.”

Hopefully, this will be the beginning of the First Amendment being interpreted correctly.  The Bishop said “We cannot sit by in silence.  We must be clear that we cannot comply and will not comply.”  Ooooh, sounds like the beginnings of a movement.  Just make sure Bishop that if your followers should decide to take to the streets and demonstrate or use your other first amendment right, the right to free speech, make sure you stand where you are told you are allowed to stand.  Make sure you don’t annoy anyone.  Because, the right to free speech is not granted the same far flung liberties as your religious rights have been granted. 

While the First amendment grants both the right to free speech and assembly and the right to “free exercise of religion”, we’ve seen, at least from the right, that the rights of those that want to assemble and protest are circumstantial.  We’ve seen this year, the Occupiers are only allowed to assemble and speak where they are told they can and only for as long as the mayors and city councils deem is convenient. 

How can the rights granted in the first amendment be interpreted so differently?  Bill O’Reilly on Fox News seems to believe, whole heartedly, that the rights granted to the Catholic Church allow them to withhold elementary medical coverage from their employees.  Yet he is totally fine with the rights of other Americans to assemble and voice their grievances to be narrowly interpreted.  I’m not saying that I disagree with the argument that the occupier should be denied the opportunity to  set up tent cities in our nations parks indefinitely, what I am saying is that if you believe that the first amendment grants the church the right to deny it’s employees birth control then you must also believe that the first amendment grants our citizens the unbridled right to assemble wherever and for as long as they like. 

In the end, I don’t believe that the Catholics should be allowed to withhold birth control benefits from their employees simply because it goes against their religion.  I also believe that the occupiers should be able to assemble and protest.  Yet I don’t believe that our parks should be used as campgrounds.  Come to the city in the morning, protest from 9 to 5 while the bankers are in their office.  Leave and come back.  It would seem that the Catholics want to paint themselves as martyrs.  The Fox News, Ditto head republicans want to scream that this is a blatant infringement on their first amendment rights.  I say that you are free to exercise your religion in your home and at your church, don’t impose the tenets of your religion upon your employees. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Political Ramblings: Bin Laden is Dead, Rich Folks Pay 35% Less In Taxes Than They Did Twenty Years ago

How strange is it that the United States government is helping the common folk of Middle Eastern countries stand up against their governments?  In this country, in the last 5 years, our government has robbed from its poor to prop up the rich.  Our working people have had their 401k funds destroyed, their mortgages foreclosed on while the mortgage holders are spending billions in bonuses.  Did our government send military to Wisconsin to make sure that the people were heard as they lobbied their state government to do what was in their interest?
Tonight Osama Bin Laden is apparently dead.  We will hear in the coming days how this is a victory.  A victory that has been paid for with the lives of thousands of Americans, at the expense of tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and at the expense of our American tax dollars in the hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars.  Yes, GW Bush will be heard from and will be lauded.  Yes, we should all be glad that this despicable man is no longer counted among the living.  We will all fear also the backlash of the faceless Al Qaeda and we will surely see radical Muslim's mourning the death of this Bin Laden. 
Myself, I feel numb.   It's almost ten years since the twin towers fell.  In those ten years our country has fallen in stature.  While 10 percent of our neighbors are unemployed the Dow Jones Industrial average continues to grow.  While the bankers tore our economy apart they've all been bailed out.  While the middle class has shrunken and the lower middle class of our country is sliding toward the poverty level, the richest parts of our country are still doing well. 
I read recently that the top 400 earners in America pay only 17% in income tax.  (http://bit.ly/richest400).  A friend of mine who earned less than 100k last year but more than 90k paid over 18% of his adjusted gross in taxes last year.  Further, that 17% in 2010 is down 9 percentage points since 1992.  That's a 35% decrease in taxes paid by our country’s richest individuals.  These people average $345,000,000 in yearly income.  In fairness, the average Americans taxes have also reduced from 9.9% to 9.3% over that same span.  Joe average has had his taxes reduced 6.06% over the same span where Joe Moneybags had his taxes cut 35%.  I guess that's fair.  NOT!!
As we all feel so patriotic this week, as we cheer on the republicans as they try to save our country money by closing down such federal programs as Planned Parenthood and as they cut funding for Public Broadcasting; as the funding for public transportation and education has trickled, we can all feel good knowing that the government has done a good job of two things.  1) We killed Bin Laden, and 2) we've saved the country’s richest individuals 35% of their tax burden.  Keep your eyes open America, it will continue.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

PC Mag reports best free software of 2011

Each year PC Mag puts together a list of the best free software available.  It’s an article that I bookmark every year because you never know when you might be looking for a specialized piece of software. Also I like to see how PC Mag rates software that I use.

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2381528,00.asp


ChromeJD

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NCAA Tournament 2011

NCAA-Mens-Basketball-Tournament-2011

March Madness is in full swing.  I thought I’d post my Bracket and share it with the Millions, and Millions of loyal followers of this blog.  My hometown Pitt panthers were awarded a #1 seed but I’m only picking them to make the Sweet 16.  They’re on tv right now and winning by 8 against UNC Asheville.  I am hoping they surprise me and make a long run, but I don’t think they have the personnel to make it to the final four.  Good luck to everyone, hope you all win your office pool.  Click on the image and you’ll open a larger image.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Our Planets, and Sun, Compared

8109363Tonight on the Science Channel I’m watching a TV show called “Wonders of the Solar System”. The host is a physics professor named Brian Cox.  I’m fascinated by the topic and I’m drawn to Mr. Cox’s enthusiasm.  Early in the show he showed us a simple science experiment involving a tin can, water, a thermometer and an umbrella.  This experiment shows you that the sun emits roughly a kilowatt of energy upon each square meter of the earth. He then explains that this information can lead to a rational guess at how much energy the sun provides.  He says 400 Million Million Million watts of power. 
As the show progresses he explains that with all the moons that exist in our solar system; Earth is the only one that can experience a solar eclipse. That’s because the sun is 400 times larger than our moon, and also, the sun is 400 times further away from Earth than our moon. 
The previous episode of this show Brian spent a great deal of time discussing the moons and rings of Saturn.  Naming the moons, like Titan as he tells the story of their involvement with Saturn’s rings. Perhaps the thought has hit you before, what is the name of our moon.  So, I go to Google and try to find an answer.  After looking at a few different sites I decided to go to NASA.com.  From there I found this excerpt by Dr. Eric Christian that can be found here:
“The Moon was called Selene or Artemis by the Greeks and Luna by the Romans. I'm sure other cultures also had names for the Moon. But in English, Moon (from Mona and Moone in Old and Middle English) was used before anyone had any idea that the other planets had moons. So it was more a case that the specific name for the Moon was extended to mean small bodies revolving around planets elsewhere. The Moon's name is the Moon.”
By now, my mind has begun to wander and I recall something I was told years ago about the relative size of the sun, and solar system.  If you’re from Pittsburgh you’ll understand this more readily….
If the sun were a 2 story tall yellow ball standing at the base of the Cathedral of Learning (University of Pittsburgh) the earth would be the size of a basketball at center ice of the Mellon Arena (1.93 miles away or 3.11 Km).  The Moon would be the size of a softball resting on the blue line.  The nearest star (Proxima Centauri) would be sitting on top of the moon.  With that story in mind I started googling and I came upon this site.  I really think you ought to SolarSystemcheck this site out. It’s filled with great photos like this one that shows  the relative sizes of planets, then suns that are out there in the universe.  I had no idea how much larger the largest suns were when compared with our own.
I really recommend you take a look. (here).  There’s another picture that shows our sun compared to Sirius, Pollux and Arcturus, three larger suns. 
One last interesting tidbit I learned today.  On Venus, a year is actually less than a day.  If I remember correctly, it takes 260 earth days for Venus to circle the Sun while it takes 280 days for Venus to rotate.