"You either write your own script, or you become an actor in somebody else's script." -- John Taylor Gatto

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

“I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false hopes; Believe me, these are false hopes. Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.” – Judge Learned Hand

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kate Becoming

Author Gene Stratton-Porter was delightfully skilled in the art of character development.  She had a gift for walking a character right through the trials of life to be worked upon and end up reaching the full measure of their character – for good or for bad.  Her work is splendid.

Daughter of the Land is a story about Kate Bates, a woman with a dream.  She is a woman living in a man’s world with a mind for business and a strong work ethic, but life has a way of sending trials.  Kate Bates is so real, so fallible, and so strong.  One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “So Kate ‘cut that idea out’ at once, but the operation was painful, because when one turns mental surgeon and operates on the ugly spots in one’s disposition, there is no anesthetic, nor is the work done with skillful hands, so the wounds are numerous and leave ugly scars; but Kate was ruthless.”  I love Kate for it.  She sees her own weakness, and takes it head on.  She sees where she has made mistakes.  Mistakes that most people use as an excuse not to make anything of themselves, but Kate takes on her ‘ugly spots’ and makes them shine.

As often as not I wanted to throw this book across the room.  Reading about hard knocks can be painful.  But I hung in there and was rewarded with the final idea that “the more we get hurt in this world the decenter it makes us...it really seems as if failure and hardship make more of a human being of folks than success.”  I am enjoying pondering that idea.  All success and no failure or hardship doesn’t stretch us to become.  Kate is an example of becoming.

My one caution and warning is that the edition I purchased from Amazon is not edited well.  It can be irritating to read so many errors!  Stratton-Porter has written other marvelous books.  I can heartily recommend Laddie, Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost as well as A Daughter of the Land.  If you are in the mood for a lovely healing book, pick up something by Stratton-Porter.  Some of the most prevalent values in our country, once so common and now nearly extinct are oozing from her books.  It is a delight to spend some time reading about salt of the earth people who win at life in spite of adversity that seems nearly impossible to overcome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quote of the Day

“Waiting your turn is often the worst way to get what you want.” - John Taylor Gatto

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Glass Botto"n" Boats

I spent 2 years in Mexico from Dec 1990 thru Oct 1992. I loved it. If you had asked me back then, I would have guessed that I would have been back many times since. Odd thing is I never went back. Until now. Twenty years later (actually 17 1/2) I went back to Mexico for the first time. And guess what? I still love Mexico. Why? The regular-Jose’s (Joe), the regular-Juan’s (John) and regular-Maria’s (Mary) in Mexico are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

Oh sure the Canadians are nice, as Rick Reilly points out here http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=reilly_rick&id=4906756. I have been to Vancouver and the surrounding areas (Abbotsford, Victoria, Surrey) many times – even Kelowna. I lived in Montreal for four months, and have visited Toronto, Mississauga, Windsor, etc. Sure the people of Canada are nice. But they aren’t Mexican nice.

I lived in Brussels for a few months too – and I’ve visited (multiple times) many European countries. Spain is wonderful. Friendly too. There was a different level of friendliness on the subways in Spain than I experienced in, say, Austria, or Germany, or Switzerland. Even French people are surprisingly nice if you try to speak a little French…don’t boisterously walk around like you own the place…and show a little respect for their wonderful country. The same could be said for Great Britain, the Czech Republic, BeNeLux, etc. But there’s something a little more open and warm about Mexicans: Kindness.

I went to a store in Mexico named “Soriana” (think of an enormous Fred Meyer or Dominicks or Wallmart.) After I purchased my mangos, an older man approached me. He started asking me how to say certain things in English. Things like “I am a carpenter” and “I will fix your doors, your windows, tables”, etc. Where he lives, near Los Cabos, work has dried up, and lots of English-speaking people have built homes. He hopes to go door to door letting them know that he can do repairs or build them whatever they may need. He was having particular trouble with the word “fix.” The -cks sound at the end wouldn’t come off for him. But he kept at it. I wrote down some phrases for him on a piece of cardboard he was carrying. After we finished, and he had shaken my hand umpteen times, and invoked blessings from Heaven upon me, I tried to give him his pen back. He wouldn’t take it. He wanted me to have it. He said that I had given him help, and he wanted to give me his pen in return. Not in so many words, but the meaning was understood. A small gesture, to be sure, but one not lost on me.

Another time we took a taxi way out from the city. Past the pavement. Not only did the taxi driver come back for us on time; on our way back downtown, we realized we were out of baby wipes for our 10-month old. He took us way out of our way to get some more. He parked and went into the store and did some minor shopping while we did ours. Then he took us up and down a few streets to show us some interesting sites. And in the end he charged us the same fare as the first trip out of town. His reason? He said he wanted us to feel welcome in Mexico.

There was someone else in our group that needed to drive to a gated resort for a party, but didn’t have directions. She stopped and asked a Mexican guy on the street. He and his friends started talking – but realized there was no good way to tell her without getting her lost. So – he jumped in his own car and said, “follow me.” He drove her to the front gates. No pay.

I know Mexican people don’t have a corner on the kindness market. But how many of you can imagine these types of experiences in Germany, England, or France? It might happen. But it happened so often in Mexico that it appeared to be the rule rather than the exception.

I know we have major problems with Mexicans and the US Border. It drives me crazy and needs to be fixed. I also know there are little things that make us laugh a bit at Mexico. The many peso devaulations over the years. The crazy border crossing stories. The dusty roads and corrupt government officials. One snorkeling boat we were on was misspelled with “Glass Botton Boat” painted on the side. We saw “looby” for “lobby”, any many other funny signs.

These kinds of things make us laugh, and maybe cause us to look down on them a bit. It might even make us feel superior at times. But that would be a big miscalculation.

The people I lived among 20 years ago and for the last 2 weeks have one thing in common: they are helpful, cheerful and kind beyond measure — even in less than brilliant circumstances. I think having this kind of attitude toward our fellow human beings is one big lesson we can learn from them. Hopefully the lesson will not be lost on me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Great Global Warming..... Religion?

My first foray into speaking out against the global warming hoax was when I made CDs of a youtube video – the Great Global Warming Swindle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TqqWJugXzs) – back in 2006 and distributed them at my place of work in Portland, Oregon. It was a big hit. I did it anonymously on a bulletin board (the old school kind with cork and pins) and had fun listening to people talk about it in Cubicle-landia. A couple of people thought it was crap, but most of them – being software developers, engineers, and project managers accustomed to using logic and reason – seemed to enjoy the fact that they were beginning to understand the science involved, or lack thereof. Al Gore’s claims just didn’t add up, now matter how many inconvenient truths he claimed to have found.

I personally think that his biggest “inconvenient truth” was that the real-world data didn’t support his claims of impending doom, and he chose to ironically name his book on purpose. It was his way of getting back at the American People for not voting him into office in 2004. Some say.

Continuing in this personal vein, I have a brother who we lovingly refer to as “RESEARCH!” because if you ever want something found on the web, or anywhere else for that matter, he can do it. He even found a very hard to find clip of a soccer goal scored in an obscure indoor league in the upper Midwest of the USA after many others had attempted to do so and failed. Oh, and not only that, but he ended up with a new friend in the team’s front office. (Some people have it, others don’t.) But more on him in a second.

I made a discovery of my own recently, with help from my favorite British bloggers at the Telegraph, about the man behind a lot of the mis-information on Global Warming. Read about it here http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100020515/climategate-the-corruption-of-wikipedia/

Basically, the jist of it is that one man, Cambridge-based scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley, hijacked Wikipedia for his own Global Warming Doom Campaign. First, he edited thousands of articles to only include data that he and his political agenda agreed with. Then, he obtained administrator privileges on the site, and either removed articles or black-listed thousands of contributors that were trying to publish truly scientific information that was detrimental to his crusade. How is this possible on a supposedly open-community like Wikipedia claims to be? Furthermore, the company Connolley helped found, Real Climate, pumps out information about the realities of global warming, knowingly modifies and hides real scientific data, and vociferously attempts to discredit anyone who may disagree with their agenda.

You know, when I was a child, there were certain types of people that you trusted. The Police. Firefighters. Teachers. Parents. Pastors. And Scientists! These were the guys doing their best to understand our world, and make sense of it through true scientific discovery, uncluttered with politics and agendas. I remember idyllic trips to San Francisco, or the wetlands at the California coast, where we visited museums, planetariums, and marshlands to learn about new scientific discoveries. Well, we all know the dangers of Pastors now (thanks Catholic Church), and the Police (just type in police brutality on youtube). I’m not saying that we can’t trust them at all - of course not. But we need to be more wary than we once were…and, sadly, we need to add Scientists to this list. Why? Because of the politicization of the global warming debate, and any other debate where there are massive amounts of money to be “politicized” away from people like you and me.

Here's a quick time line on the Global Warming debate over the last nine weeks, courtesy of ... “RESEARCH!”

1.    World-leading British and US scientists get busted for fixing data, pressuring science publications, and breaking the law.  (They won't be prosecuted because the events are more than six months old and British authorities are claiming action needed to be quicker. The Brits are arguing about this now...

2.    Copenhagen Summit...TOTAL collapse.  Massive December snow storm that hasn't happened there in ~13 years.  (see Gore Effect)  Russia leaves early.  Obama shows up at the meeting only to find himself late.  China, India won't play ball...  The US Senate would need 67 Senate votes so this was all an exercise in futility anyway to placate Left-wing base...

January 2010

3.    An administrator in British climate office accidentally(?) blurts out in an email/blog that the way they test for warmest/coldest winter is to take the warmest 15 temperatures of the season. That's "15 *warmest* temps". Is this really the scientific method? C’mon….

4.    IPCC head (Rajendra Pachauri) admits the data for the Himalayan Glacier 'facts' are not based in science but on "comments" in a phone conversation made by a basic 'nobody' from almost 10 years before.
a.    Pachauri says he didn't know about this Himalayan error
b.    Asian sub-team that wrote that section admits to knowing the data wasn't there...but that they included for "political reasons".
c.    Due to FACTS coming out that prove Pachauri knew about the Himalayan error BEFORE Copenhagen, he admits he DID in fact know about it...

5.    Last week…another ‘oops’:  IPCC section written about Andes mountains losing snow/ice is actually based on a student’s anecdotal interviews with hikers/climbers and is published in a HIKING magazine…not a peer reviewed journal. 

6.   Just yesterday it came out (London Times) that the IPCC data ‘proving’ the S. American rainforests are in danger is bogus.  OOPS!

7.    Canada, Russia, New Zealand scientists have all come out this month saying the data collected in their country is probably ‘cherry picked’. 
a.    Example: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/uh-oh-raw-data-in-new-zealand-tells-a-different-story-than-the-official-one/
b.    Example:  http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Scientists+using+selective+temperature+data+skeptics/2468634/story.html

February 2010

8.    Published today…turns out the data from China used by an IPCC leading scientist – Phil Jones (see item #1 above) has been manipulated with, among other things, whole weather stations having been moved. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/01/dispute-weather-fraud

Combine these scientific shams with an obvious agenda that is being perpetrated by people like the William Connolleys and Al Gores of the world, and you have a massive mis-information propaganda machine. If you get stuck wondering what the propaganda is for, just think of the TRILLIONS of dollars that are going to be taxed, capped and traded! And to top it off, anyone that doesn’t believe in the “Religion” of Global Warming is a fool. Why religion? Where have you seen so much faith demonstrated in a world where participation in organized religion has fallen so far? It takes a lot of faith for the believers to believe in something that they cannot see, and the data does not support. The believers also defend their belief with a fanatical enthusiasm – in the face of mounting data against their claims. I wonder if the Christians that were persecuted for their faith in old Roman Empire times aren’t a little bit proud of the zealotry being displayed by these new "believers."