Friday, April 29, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Army Basic Training in 1975 was sorta fun - playing soldier! The entire goal of the training was to teach one how to maintain and accurately shoot an M16 assault rifle. The programme was well-designed - by the end of training one could, in fact, maintain and accurately shoot an M16! Most of the rifle training was in semi-automatic mode: you pull the trigger, it shoots one bullet. Every once in a while we got to use it on fully automatic mode: you pull the trigger, it just keeps firing. It could go through a 30-round magazine in about 10 seconds... pretty much a waste of ammunition. I've never fired an AK47. My understanding is that it's a more reliable but less accurate weapon. "More reliable" meaning that it jams much less frequently than an M16. "Less accurate" meaning that it's harder to hit what you aim at. ... ... but in combat you're never really aiming at anything, you're just putting projectiles in the air. ... as many as possible in as short a time as possible. Semi-automatic assault rifles are designed for war. They're not designed for hunting. Or for civilian personal defense. They're a lot of fun to shoot! - just like playing soldier as a kid... but with lethal ammunition. I am conflicted regarding the 2nd Amendment. Most of this conflict derives from the sad fact that the Second is one of the first 10 - "The Bill of Rights". If we mess with the 2nd, we are then free to mess with the other nine... and I really LIKE the other nine (well, maybe not Amendment 10 - the "State's Rights" bit). ... But I really don't want to challenge freedom of speech/press/assembly, or right to due process, or protection against self-incrimination. What would the Framers say today?
Dear Mr. Trump: You claim to be a “deal-maker”, and have written a popular book on the subject, The Art of the Deal. I’ve not read it, nor any other book dealing with negotiating to win-win, which I perhaps erroneously imagine to be the subject of your book. Ignorant of the formal process of negotiating, I would imagine it to involve some give-and-take, and leveraging both what we want and what we imagine the other party might also want. My model is to be found in a little book used in my 8th-grade civics class, Your Rugged Constitution. This text presents each article and clause of the U.S. Constitution verbatim, followed by a brief discussion that ends with two brief paragraphs: “What you give” and “What you get”. Yes, there is always a trade-off! In my professional career, from which I am now retired, I was a statistician working for a multi-national corporation. In this capacity I was involved in many negotiations with managers and engineers. The subject was always how best to leverage data to achieve bottom-line results. In one of these negotiations I employed a theorem from mathematics called Heron’s formula for the area of a triangle based on the length of the three sides. Heron’s formula had nothing to do with the specific issue at hand, but was useful as an analogy. It was a difficult negotiation. Eventually I succeeded, and convinced a very reluctant engineer that I had solved his problem. My solution was quickly adopted by the multi-national corporation for which I worked as THE best solution to what had been viewed as a nearly intractable problem. I relied on my professional expertise, mathematics, history, and wit to sell this solution. I never bullied anyone. My partner in negotiations, the reluctant engineer, was eventually won over. He saw the advantage of embedding his engineering insights into a solid mathematical model. Both of us benefitted from my solution to the problem. This was a win-win negotiation. Winning the Republican nomination for President seems to be the ultimate deal-making opportunity for you. You’re not succeeding. Where is “The Art of the Deal” in your appeal to the electorate? To date I have seen no evidence that you recognize your quest for the Presidency as a deal-making negotiation. Your brash trash-talking provides little evidence that you are seeking to make any kind of deal with the American electorate, or with their elected representatives in Congress. You assure us that you will be able to get Congress to do your bidding, but provide no evidence that you have any idea how to do this other than verbal bullying. You tell us you can get along with other political leaders, but do nothing but call them mocking names. You promise to deal with your perceived enemies, but do nothing but insult them, repeatedly. You call people mocking and insulting names. You present yourself as a victim of conspiracies. Where might we find any hint that you do, in fact, know how to make deals that involve mutually beneficial compromise? You assert, without providing any details, that you could re-negotiate deals involving trade and national defense to better advantage than those currently holding. While vehemently maintaining that we’ve given away the farm on every international deal, you suggest no incentives to our partners for them to reconsider re-negotiating existing treaties and mutual obligations. What might you offer to our partners for them to contribute what you call their fair share? Yes, you’ve made abundantly clear that you think we’ve been snookered, but you have yet to propose anything that might induce our trading and defense partners to re-negotiate existing treaties and obligations, presumably to our mutual advantage. While claiming to be your own man, self-funded, accountable only to yourself and to your supporters, you refuse to take responsibility for the actions of your supporters or for your own statements. You hesitate to condemn the ardent racism of your white nationalist supporters. You promise to provide legal assistance for your supporters who blatantly, on camera, assault protesters at your campaign events. You deny, repeatedly and consistently, your own statements in support of various controversial positions. “I never said that” is one of your refrains, even when confronted with video evidence. When backed into a corner you resort to bromides, “Yes, it’s a disaster!” – regardless of the specific topic. Whatever it is, it’s a “disaster”. Our prison system? “It’s a disaster!” The economy? “It’s a disaster!” Employment? “It’s a disaster!” Our response to ISIS? “It’s a disaster!” Trade with China? “It’s a disaster!” Do you provide any evidence that you understand any of these issues? No. Do you propose any specific remedies? No. You simply assert, “It’s a disaster!”, and move on to the next topic – which for you is invariably, “I’m a deal-maker”. Mr. Trump, I would LOVE to have a great deal-maker in the Oval Office. I would LOVE to have someone who truly understands the art of negotiation, to deal both with a recalcitrant Congress and with our international friends and enemies. I would love to have a President who clearly sees both our strengths and our weaknesses, who can leverage the former and mitigate the latter in honest hard-fought negotiation. You have yet to convince me that you are that deal-maker. Your presidential campaign has been built on petty peeves, paranoia, and petulance. I don’t want a candidate who ACTS presidential. I want a candidate who IS presidential. You are not that candidate.
Friday, April 22, 2016
TGIF: Thank G-d It's Friday! Friday:
The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the "day of Frige", a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures. [Wikipedia article on Friday]Yep - Friday is named for a PAGAN GODDESS! Saturday:
The Romans named Saturday Sāturni diēs ("Saturn's Day") no later than the 2nd century for the planet Saturn, which controlled the first hour of that day... [Wikipedia article, Saturday]Oops - another PAGAN reference in our calendar! Sunday. Well, this one is pretty straight-forward - no need for Wikipedia: SUNday - derived from Hellenistic astrology... not just a PAGAN reference, but a PAGAN reference implicating the evil, occult science of ASTROLOGY... and this on OUR LORD'S DAY! - talk about sacrilegious! Monday. Oh, no! Another one! - The MOON'S Day. Tuesday:
The name Tuesday derives from the Old English "Tiwesdæg" and literally means "Tiw's Day". Tiw is the Old English form of the Proto-Germanic god *Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war and law. [Wikipedia, Tuesday]... another one??? More PAGAN sources! Wednesday... hey, maybe we'll get lucky and find a good Biblical source!
The name is derived from Old English Wōdnesdæg and Middle English Wednesdei, "day of Woden", ultimately a calque of dies Mercurii "day of Mercury". [Wikipedia, Wednesday]Not just one, but TWO PAGAN sources - Woden & Mercury! One more chance. Thursday:
The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday meaning "Thor's Day". Thunor, Donar (German, Donnerstag) and Thor are derived from the name of the Germanic god of thunder. [Wikipedia, Thursday]Sigh. So why has the GOP not latched onto this issue? Our calendar - the days of the week we teach our CHILDREN - these are PAGAN! Even THE LORD'S DAY is named for a PAGAN god! The days of the week are lies straight from the pit of hell. We are unwittingly unleashing the POWERS OF EVIL on our civilization by retaining these PAGAN constructs!
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
I have tremendous respect for professional columnists & bloggers who are obligated to write something regularly. It's hard work, coming up with something entertaining or significant to say on a routine basis. ... well, at least I know I can't do it! My mind wanders. (... and I have no reliable lasso to help rein it in.) Once-upon-a-time I really enjoyed presidential election years. - Watching the campaign was FUN! Sadly, that time has passed. Now I just get depressed. I'm at a standstill on my hobby - documenting "H.M.S. Pinafore" in America. I've completed two YouTube vids, but have a third - final - one that is not yet even "in the works". Sigh. ... On the bright side, I gave a talk on "Pinafore" at Harvard a couple of weeks ago. ... well, it was given for the Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players, as part of their 60th anniversary celebration (at which Pinafore was presented). I'd like to write an article about Pinafore and the California gubernatorial election of 1879. ... the material is assembled, it's the WRITING thing that gets in the way. Current debate on immigration recalls America's long history of anti-immigrant paranoia: The Alien Acts of the late 18th century, "No Irish need apply", anti-Chinese hysteria, anti-Italian sentiment in the 1910s & '20s, the Espionage Act of 1917. For a country that promises this:
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"... we don't do so great. (... and even Benjamin Franklin railed against the indolent Germans in Philadelphia!) As mentioned above, I just get depressed. ... and I get distracted. Oooh! - Look at the kitty!!!
Thursday, April 14, 2016
81 years ago today: Black Sunday refers to a particularly severe dust storm that occurred on April 14, 1935, as part of the Dust Bowl. It was one of the worst dust storms in American history and it caused immense economic and agricultural damage. It is estimated to have displaced 300 million tons of topsoil from the prairie area in the US. [Black Sunday] (With thanks to TedTheCat!)
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Yeah, Trump lost in Wisconsin, with 37% of the vote. This is about the same percentage he's WON with previously. Makes me think 37% is what he's got. His campaign has been working to get Kasich out. I think this is a mistake. When GOP folks drop out, their supporters go to Cruz. Trump oughta fund Kashich.
We journeyed to the scenic northeast - Boston & Maine. Boston - well, Cambridge - to see Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players' production of H.M.S. Pinafore. (I got to deliver my talk on "Pinafore in America".) Maine to meet the woman who makes my suspenders. She fixed us a delicious seafood chowder, and we now have two new friends! This is SO much better than following politics!