Archive for February, 2008

The Forgotten American

February 29, 2008

Check out Victor Davis Hanson’s essay on the Forgotten American.

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Iranian Uprising

February 29, 2008

Pajamas Media has a story about a riot starting when the modesty police tried to arrest a young woman for not being properly dressed. The story is here.

When the police moved in to arrest the young woman, a young man tried to intervene. He was thrown by the police into a garbage can. That’s when the rest of the crowd got involved. When the riot broke out, the police hightailed it, but returned later in full riot gear. They fired warning shots into the air and threatened to shoot into the crowd.

A quote from the story:

In a report on the event that appeared on the Iran Press Service web site, student web sites are quoted as saying that “to disperse the angry mob, heavy police and anti-riot units that arrived fired into the air but were met with a crowd of more than 300 people, now chanting slogans against the regime and its leaders, mostly Ayatollah Ali Khameni and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, chanting ‘We don’t want dictatorship,’ ‘We don’t want emergency and martial law.’”

Iran is ripe for another revolution. Just as the 1979 revolution that lead to the overthrow of the Shah succeeded because of heavy student involvement, the students and other young people are now ready to overthrow the oppressive religious dictatorship. They should be encouraged and supported by the Western democracies. An internal revolution would be the best way to oust the crazies running that country. Something needs to be done before they obtain nuclear weapons.

Take a Flying Leap (Day)!

February 29, 2008

feb29-copy.jpg

Because our annual trip around the Sun takes 6 hours longer than the 365 days we normally think as a length of a year, we need to make periodic adjustments to keep the calendar straight. Today is that day.

We get a February 29th almost every 4 years. If a year is divisible by 100, no Leap Day, unless it is divisible by 400. With the exception of this rule, we in the United States elect our president in a Leap Year. That is probably so we have an extra day to figure who to vote for.

Adding Leap Day every four years will keep the calendar and the seasons straight for another 8000 years. By then, we will need to add another day. I don’t think I’m going to worry too much about that.

Foreclosures

February 27, 2008

Can someone please explain to me why anyone’s foreclosure problems should be a concern of the government? I just don’t understand. Is it because we are in an election year and anyone’s and everyone’s problems need to the addressed and then solved by those running for president?

We waited a very long time before we were able to purchase a home. When we made the deal, I needed to be confident that I would be able to pay the loan. We have refinanced a couple of times to take advantage of better interest rates. Each time, we had to determine what the monthly payments would be and decide how they would fit into our financial picture. If we can’t make the payments for whatever reason, that is a issue between the lender and my wife and me. No one else. I made the deal. I need to be responsible for it.

The guiding concept here is Choice and Accountability. We have the freedom to make choices. After we made the choices, we need to be accountable for them. If we make a bad choice, we need to take personal responsibility for it. We shouldn’t look for a bail out from the government. Government’s role should not be to protect us from the consequences of our bad decisions.

Graffiti

February 26, 2008

I read a good AP article on an effective graffiti removal system–get the vandal who did it to clean it. Here it is.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – A German tourist caught spraying graffiti on the rocks and ice face of New Zealand’s Franz Josef Glacier was forced to clean up his handiwork, local media reported Tuesday.

English tourists caught Jan Philip Scharbert on camera as he spray-painted the glacier last week, “The Press” newspaper reported. They handed their photos of the tagger to Department of Conservation staff, who informed police.

Scharbert, 28, who lives in Munich, was arrested boarding a bus to leave Franz Josef village, on South Island’s west coast, and ordered to clean up the graffiti under conservation staff supervision.

Whataroa village police constable Paul Gurney said Scharbert took 1 1/2 days to clean up his handiwork, and was reprimanded by other visitors as he chipped the paint off.

Graffiti seems to be the leading sign of urban blight. Once it is allowed to stay, more graffiti is spawned. The Los Angeles Police Department’s website says

A community’s first step in taking back its streets is getting rid of graffiti immediately. This power struggle cannot be won overnight, but persistent communities working in partnership with law enforcement almost always emerge as victors.

The LAPD’s policy focuses on the business or the homeowner victim of graffiti to be responsible for removing it. Wouldn’t it be nice if a strong enforcement policy was developed that focused on catching the vandals who make the graffiti and making them remove it. Perhaps the punks that are destroying our cities would think twice about breaking out that spray can if they knew there could be a good chance that they would have to clean up their, and others, messes.

“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, . . .”

February 22, 2008

George Washington’s Statue at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale

One of my favorite trivia questions to ask is, “Who was the first president of the United States?” The answer is invariably “George Washington,” and my response is, “No, it was John Hanson.” I have since learned the John Hanson was the third president, with Samuel Huntington serving as the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled. This was when our country was governed under the Articles of Confederation. A series of men held this position, which was a legislative position, similar to today’s Speaker of the House.

Why do we refer to George Washington as the country’s first president? Because he was the first president under the Constitution. Henry Lee eulogized Washington with the lines which because famous, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, . . .”

During his life, Washington was a figure larger than life. He was a war hero dating back to the French and Indian War. During the Revolutionary War, he lost most of his battles, but won the war. He was persuaded to attend and then to preside over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. Following the ratification of the new Constitution, Washington was elected unanimously by the Electoral College to be our first president of the new government.

Because of his stabilizing influence throughout his political career, our nation was able to develop, grow, prosper. Without George Washington, there is a good chance that there would be no US presidency today or perhaps not even the United States.

Happy Birthday, President Washington.

The Governor of Texas and the Boy Scouts of America

February 21, 2008

Rick Perry is the governor of Texas. He is an Eagle Scout and the father of an Eagle Scout. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D. C. on February 9th, he said, “The venerable institution of the Boy Scouts of America, with its clearly-stated belief in God, adherence to a strict moral code and steadfast focus on shaping young men, is the trophy buck that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and their friends would like to hang above the fireplace.”

Governor Perry has just written a book to defend the Boy Scouts against these attacks. The proceeds of the book, On My Honor, will go to the legal defense fund for the BSA. The lawsuits against the Boy Scouts cost both the citizens of America and the Boy Scouts millions of dollars. It costs the citizens money for bringing the suits against the Scouts and it costs the Scouts money to defend against them. All this wasted money could be used for much better activities, yet is wasted in the legal system.

Over the years, the BSA has not changed its positions, but the political climate has changed around it. Today, the challenges to the BSA are based on its position opposing openly gay and open atheist leaders. This is based on the core principles of the BSA–the Scout Oath and Law.

The City of Philadelphia is trying to evict the Boy Scouts from their headquarters building. The irony of this is that the BSA paid for and built the building their own money, then donated the building to the city. Now the city wants to kick them out of the building that the Scouts paid for themselves.

Last night, I sat on a Board of Review for two Eagle Scouts. Both young men were fine examples of what Scouting tries to do: develop character, fitness, and leadership in the young men of America.

This morning, Dennis Prager interviewed Governor Perry on his radio show. Dennis has mentioned many times how destructive these attacks on the Scouts are. He wondered how it would feel for being responsible for destroying a wonderful institution that does so much good.

As a society, we need to strengthen the institutions that strengthen us, not destroy them. The use of public accommodations to assist good organizations should be a given instead a target to threaten these organizations.

Total Lunar Eclipse

February 20, 2008

A total eclipse of the moon occurs tonight. The partial eclipse begins at 5:43 PST and the total eclipse begins at 7:01 PM PST.

There is an excellent description of lunar eclipses here: http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/LEprimer.html

Another good link, with animation, is here: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/13feb_lunareclipse.htm?list200204

This morning, it’s raining. Let’s hope for clear skies tonight.

UPDATE: Nope, too many clouds to see the eclipse very well. When it was in totality, it was totally hidden. I did get a clear view after totality, but it pretty much looks like a regular waxing moon by then.

Here is a time-lapse YouTube photo of the eclipse.

Happy Birthday, Josh!

February 19, 2008

Presidents Day

February 18, 2008

I’m not a big fan of Presidents Day. It started as a combination holiday celebrating the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. I would be OK with that. But the day has morphed into a general day to recognize all presidents. The problem I have with that is that many presidents don’t deserve special recognition.

Not to ignore the day completely, here are some quotes from some of our presidents. The list was compiled by Daniel Johnson, a blogger at Journey Inside My Mind Blog.

  • “Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written constitution.”Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America (1801-1809)
  • “The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”James Monroe, 5th President of the United States of America (1817-1825)
  • “It is easier to do a job right than to explain why you didn’t.”Martin van Buren, 8th President of the United States of America (1837-1841)
  • “An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.”Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States of America (1850-1853)
  • “Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.”Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America (1861-1865)
  • “It’s a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.”Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States of America (1865-1869)
  • “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my Administration has been minding my own business.”Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States of America (1923-1929)
  • “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States of America (1953-1961)
  • “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America (1961-1963)
  • “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States of America (2001-present)