Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy First Blogoversary!

Today is the first anniversary of my blog. I’m pleased with the success I’ve had with it so far. For that, I first thank God and secondly all my readers around the world. That was probably the most surprising part of all.

I started the blog not simply because I wanted to write a blog; I tried that a few years earlier and it didn’t work out. Writing just to be able to say I was writing just wasn’t good enough. I wanted more and better than that. I wanted a reason to be writing.

Then along came the 2008 election and then the Tea Parties in 2009. The world was in trouble. Much as I’ve liked my job, I wanted to do more than just take funny photos. In a sane and decent world, I would have been happy just to “dance and sing”, as it were. These last 12 years have been wonderful. I’ve made a lot of friends and been to an incredible number of parties (and meetings and so forth). I’ve traveled from Boston to Pittsburgh (that’s as far you can go without flying). Until the Tea Parties, that was enough.

I helped one of the Tea Parties get started and that sat back and let those neighbors run it. They pretty much took my advice, which was all I could really give. Then I just sat back and watched the Tea Parties all across America succeed, and succeed, and succeed.

I’m no good in crowds though. I tend to get lost in teamwork. I do my best work quietly, on my own. That’s when I decided to start my own blog. This was a way I knew I could contribute to the effort to stand up for freedom.

To people who want to start their own blog, the first thing you must have is something to write about. You must have some message that you want to convey. Secondly, you must have an audience. Until you start writing, you won’t have one and then what you write must be something your audience wants to read about.

What you write about will determine the size of your audience. The amount of material available will determine how often you write. You might be interested in movies. There’s a vast number of movies and always a very interested audience.

On the other hand, you might want to about your kids. Your audience is going to be somewhat smaller – relatives and family friends – and it might garner more than a once a week or even once a month blog. If you have kids, you probably won’t have time to write about them more than once a month.

Cooking might be your interest. Or music. Or wine. Whatever your subject, you must be passionate about it. It’s going to be something that literally drags you to your computer, rather you dragging yourself over to force yourself to write. It’s got to be something you just can’t wait to write about and that you’re willing to put something else (though not too important, like feeding your kids) aside to devote that time to writing.

Nothing has ever interested me as much as history and politics, although it was English and Communications I studied in college. Being reasonably versed in Shakespeare is not a bad thing. But being knowledgeable about John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau (the dueling philosophers of freedom versus socialism) is pretty neat, too.

Knowing that America doesn’t have much time left is a great motivator for writing every day. So long as freedom is in danger, I’ll have no lack of material for my blog. The more I read and listen to broadcasters like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, Mark Levin and Mark Steyn, Judge Napolitano and Andrew McCarthy (Yay! If you haven’t read The Grand Jihad, you don’t know what you’re missing!), the more inspired I am to write myself and use my God-given freedom of speech.

Thank you, God, for giving me this forum for my spirit, and God Bless America! And thank you, readers!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Three Little Rileys

[A brief note on Wednesday’s blog, “The Big One”. My personal scientific consultant informs me that the name of the anti-radiation pill is potassium iodide, not sodium iodide. Potassium iodide, he says, is used to ward off radiation sickness; sodium iodide is used to detect radiation.]

If I haven’t mentioned it before, my parents encouraged reading. They were great readers themselves (Mom still is). In our household, my father was like the principal and my mother was the teacher. Dad would tell my mother what book he wanted me to read and she would have me read it.

Glenn Beck’s show last night brought back memories of The Three Little Pigs. I’d forgotten until the show jogged my memory. When I was little, before elementary school, my mother got us the sanitized, homogenized, Disney-version of the The Three Little Pigs.

Listening in, my father asked her what she was reading to me.

“’The Three Little Pigs’,” my mother answered.  She showed him the cover.

“That’s not ‘The Three Little Pigs’,” he said. “It’s not the real ‘The Three Little Pigs” by the Brothers Grimm. I want her to hear the real story of the ‘The Three Little Pigs.’”

Before I knew it, we were off to the local library. The version my father picked it out didn’t have any colorful illustrations of smiling pigs on the cover. The book was rather old and its small illustration faded.

In this version of “The Three Little Pigs,” just as Glenn told you, the pigs were under menace from the Big Bad Wolf. They were warned. The last little pig looked at his brothers’ handiwork and told them, “Don’t come crying to me when your houses of straw and wood collapse.”

I remember the singing, dancing pig very well. That was me, for sure. At that age, I wanted to be a Broadway star and wasn’t very inclined to memorize things or listen to instructions. The book had an illustration of a dancing pig, too.

The only trouble was, that little piggy never got a chance to run crying to his brother. On the next page, the wolf ate him. His wooden-headed, lazy brother met the same fate. I was distressed on all accounts. Why, that could have been me and my younger brother.

The third little pig built a house of brick and mortar, and his door wasn’t blown in. He felt bad about his brothers but his conscience was clear; he had warned them. I asked my mother why they couldn’t have just gone to the third pig’s house, like they did in the other versions? Why didn’t he help them?

Mom shrugged ruefully, “He did try to help them. They didn’t have a chance to run away, dear. The wolf blew down the doors of their houses and ate them. There’s nothing their brother could have done for them. They didn’t listen to their brother.”

“So if I don’t want the wolf to eat me…”

“Don’t worry. It was a fairy tale. No wolf is going to eat you,” Mom said.

“But what if one does try to eat me?” I persisted. “If I don’t want the wolf to eat me, then I have to work hard and do what I’m supposed to do when I’m supposed to do it, like Andy [my older brother] does?”

“That’s right.”

My father added, “Yes and you’re the little pig that sings and dances instead of doing her chores.”


“That’s why I wanted her to read the right version.”

“Your father’s right, though,” Mom added. “You spend too much time singing and dancing when you should be cleaning your room and picking up your clothes.”

“If I’m the first little pig, then is Charlie the lazy pig? And Andy’s the third pig?”

“Well, most of the time.”

“But what if I was really in trouble, if a wolf was going to eat me? He wouldn’t help me? I couldn’t go to his house?”

“Well of course Andy would help you and certainly you could go to his house. It’s only a story.”

It may only have been a story, but it was a scary one that made the impression upon me my father wanted it to make. If you don’t work hard and secure your future, you’ll be out of house and home, and the wolf will eat you.

Still, even into adulthood, the desire to sing and dance (which they say I inherited from a great-grandmother) clung on. I knew I didn’t want to live my whole life just working and never doing anything happy. I loved making music and my nocturnal activities would prevent me from succeeding in one of those climb-the-corporate-ladder careers.

I also knew I was too creative and outspoken for the corporate world. Andy was perfectly suited to it (he’s such a bowl of jello) and Charlie, not at all. To Charlie, an office building is just a great big cage.

So I secured my future my purchasing an affordable home (it’s brick) on the presumption that I wasn’t much better at being caged and bowing obsequiously than my younger brother. I just had to keep going until I found a job that would suit my personality and my personal mission in life – making other people laugh.

I found the place and the job. Well, the job isn’t going to last out another year. The wolf has huffed and puffed and blown the door down on happiness at my company. The whole reason I accepted a job there was because a friend who worked at the company assured me it was a happy company. The initial job was awful, but then I was accepted into an internal public relations job where I was to write happy stories and take happy photos at happy events (the few unhappy events they had, they didn’t want photos anyway).

But now the company has decided misery loves company and they’re going to join the rest of the business world in making their employees miserable. Which means I’m definitely out of a job by the end of the year (they’re laying off most but not all of the writers).

However, and here’s the twist on the Three Little Pigs – I didn’t listen to my brother, the third little pig when he said I should buy as big a house as I could get my hands on. I told him not a chance; I was going to buy a house that I could afford, maintain, and not (hopefully) lose in the event of bad luck or a lay-off. My mortgage, as of this month, is five years away from paying off. I could do it now if I really needed to, but all my financial experts say no, to just keep making the monthly payments as usual for as long as I can.

The third little pig, big brother, was given land by his in-laws. He then built the biggest house of wood that he could fit on the lot. Proud of his carpentry and other building skills that he learned from our grandfather, he built the house himself (with our help).

But then along came the Big Bad Wolf, a rich guy who lured my ex-sister-in-law away with the promise of a life of luxury. She’d never do housework again as long as she lived. As soon as my nephew reached his majority, she packed her bags and left. They couldn’t sell because it was just when the housing bubble burst. My brother bought her ought, but he had to take out a second mortgage to do it. The house was devalued considerably, which was good for big brother and bad for the big bad wolf.

Still, she huffed and she puffed and she blew his house and life in. My older brother will be in debt well into retirement. We told him not to build that house, but he wouldn’t listen.

Meanwhile, the second little pig doesn’t have his own house. He lives with Mom. He spends what little money he makes on who knows what. He wants the house, but my older brother and I don’t know what he thinks he’s going to buy us out with. We think he may insist that because he’s lived with and taken care of Mom all these years (he has, but he’s also annoyed her to death during that long spell) that he deserves the house without paying anything for it.

The second little pig can huff and puff until he’s blue in the face, but if he thinks the third little pig is going to agree to that, then I’m Little Red Riding Hood. Aren’t only children lucky? When that day comes, it’s going to be an interesting situation. I’ve begged Mom not to die before one of them does, but I don’t think she can hold out that long. These are the same brothers who had to share a bedroom when we were young and engaged in nightly boxing matches once their bedroom door shut and the parental footsteps died away. Too bad I didn’t sell tickets; I wouldn’t have to worry about being laid off.

Children need to be taught about reality, and not confuse fairy tales with the news, their stuffed animals with the real thing, and play money with real money. They should be made to earn their allowances through chores and later on, part-time jobs. Discipline and responsibility are lost values; we need to find them again, and soon.

The wolves aren’t just huffing and puffing at the door – they’re howling.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Big Bully

The internet video shows two kids – a scrawny, runt of a 12 year-old and a hefty, well-armored 16 year-old – in an incident at Chifley College High School in St. Mary’s, Australia. It’s the age-old scenario of a tormentor and a victim. The victim politely tells the tormentor to stop hitting him. The tormentor proceeds to hit him harder. Finally, the victim punches the tormentor in the face, then picks him up bodily and body-slams the bully to the ground.

Amazingly, the victim is the 16 year-old. Nobody intervenes while the little runt punches the bigger kid. Well, why would they? You would assume someone that big could take care of himself. When he finally does, an onlooker lectures him about walking away from a fight. What’s even more amazing is the little runt actually jumps up, although it looks like at least one leg is broken, and sneers into the camera, saying something on the order of: “Did you see what he did?”

We certainly did, and most people are cheering on the big kid, you little rat. In my opinion, he got what he deserved. According to Glenn Beck, this kid’s parents have already filed a lawsuit. You can imagine how the courtroom scene is going to play out. The judge and jury will say that while they sympathize with “Big Kid,” he should have been “big” enough to just walk away from “Little Kid.”

Unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger, with muscles of steel, getting punched hurts. It doesn’t matter whether your opponent is smaller than you. Men who are abused by their wives can tell you this. The women aren’t getting away with it as easily anymore. Nor should this little tormentor, who’s not only going to get away with it, but see some big money.

There’s “social justice” for you. Like any crime, the bullies don’t care about the rules. The schoolyard law is he who throws the last punch will be the one to get caught and punished. Schools don’t care who starts it – they care who finishes it. Our socialist schools don’t want their meek sheep getting the idea that it’s okay to fight back.

Kid: “Davey hit Billy! Then Billy hit Davey!”

Teacher: “Well I didn’t see Davey hit Billy, therefore it’s detention for Billy.”

That actually happened in the elementary school I went to. I was tormented for months by a kid who slammed his desk into the back of my chair. Eventually, I developed a tic which made me the butt of further jokes, and which I’ve never really conquered. I wanted to hit him back but he had a gang and I knew if I hit him in class, not only would I get detention but after it was over, they’d be waiting for me down the street just beyond sight of the school.

It ended when my mother burst into the classroom and told the teacher if my seat wasn’t changed, she would see to it that the boy was expelled and the teacher fired. Sometimes that’s what it takes.

Facebook took the video down for fear that bullied kids might get the idea that it’s okay to fight back instead of running like a coward (which is what the bully sees) or taking your lumps. Psychologists are nattering over the backlash. They fear their “message” of zero-tolerance for violence will be thrown under the school bus.

They say that’s what happened in Columbine. Reporters have feared to slant the story lest they create sympathy for these kids who committed murder. Yeah. Murder. Not a good way to get revenge, kids, you know? But it did call attention to the victims of bullying. Only, school psychologists obviously didn’t want victims making heroes of the Columbine killers.

However, their solutions were ridiculous. “Tell them to stop it.” That was the advice my parents gave me. Physically fighting back wasn’t an option for me. At the point, it was verbal abuse, anyway. Do you know what happened when I told them to “stop it”? They laughed derisively. Stop it. Yeah, that really worked.

Walking away isn’t really helpful when you’re alone, because they just follow you. When I was 13, the same bullies beat me up while I was trying to deliver papers on my newspaper route. They got hold of my paper sack and pulled me to the ground, kicking and punching me, and pelting with ice balls. My face was swollen for a week. I was rescued by one of my other customers.

Mom said that it wasn’t going to be solved by talking. The school wasn’t going to do anything, even though it did occur on school property. My mother sent my younger brother out after any member of the gang he could get hold of. Meanwhile, my older brother built me an arsenal of ice balls. My other brother dragged one of the brothers onto my battlefield. He hadn’t actually been there, but Mom said he would serve the purpose.

So I let the kid have it until his face was as red as mine. I gave him the message my mother told me to give him, “Tell your brothers: Never mess with the Joneses.” They never bothered me again. They want on to illustrious careers dealing drugs in the schoolyard. I went on to college.

My mother said that while violence is always wrong, self-defense isn’t. These other families had come from Hell’s Kitchen in New York City; violence was all they knew – or respected. Much like the Islamicists, anyone who doesn’t fight back is a coward who deserves what they get.

As a girl, while there wasn’t much I could do about physical abuse, I did sharpen my tongue against verbal abuse, much to my wordsmith father’s dismay. I learned the meaning of words like “reprobate” and “iniquitous.” They would just stare at me, dumb-founded. Then they would call the teacher over.

Kid: “Belle just called me a ‘reprobate.’ What does that mean?”

Teacher: “Just take her word for it. You are a reprobate.”

The schools and communities have a responsibility to do something about physical abuse. If someone on the street hit you, they’d be arrested. Why should there be a different set of laws for kids?

As for verbal abuse, that’s never going to go away, kids. That, you have to get used to. Sharpen your wits and vocabulary, but always keep your cool. Never go for profanity. You’ll also find that there are people you simply can’t talk back to, no matter what they do – strangers, bosses, co-workers, customers, law enforcement. Wives. Husbands. Democrats. And other assorted crazy people.

In those instances – just walk away.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Big One

Residents in earthquake-prone regions are said to be waiting for “The Big One.” There have only been three earthquakes registering 9.0 or higher on the Richter scale in recorded history:

• A 9.5 earth-shaker that struck southern Chile on May 21, 1960, killing 1,655 people and creating a tsunami that rode across the Pacific Ocean to Japan

• A 9.2 temblor that struck Prince William Sound, Alaska on Mar. 27, 1964, claiming 131 lives

• The 9.1 seaquake on Dec. 26, 2004, created a tsunami that struck 12 countries and killed 227,898 people.

The U.S. Geological Service has upgraded the quake from 8.9 to 9.0, so Japan now joins The Big Nine club.  The effects of this earthquake practically qualify as Biblical: a tsunami, fires, nuclear meltdown, subsequent power outages, famine, and possible radiation sickness. Does that mean that Japan experienced their “Big One”? Or are they holding out for even worse?

Smaller quakes have killed greater numbers. We can only estimate the death tolls of quakes in ancient times. A quake in Shaanxi, China, on Jan. 24, 1556, was said to have killed 830,000 people. A quake in Calcutta, India, in 1737, claimed 300,000 lives.

In modern times, a 1920 quake in Gansu, China, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, claimed 200,000 lives, while a 7.3 quake in Turkmenistan in 1948 killed 110,000. As architectural standards rise in industrialized nations where buildings are better able to withstand major earthquakes, death tolls are mercifully reduced.

A moderate earthquake would leave New York City, with its ancient water pipes and century-old brownstones, ripe for a disaster. The Ramapo fault line runs nearby (a section of which runs under the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River). Last year, an unexpected 4.5 earthquake struck out in the Atlantic near Long Island. I felt it in my office although my co-workers were totally oblivious. Once you’ve experienced one, you never forget what an earthquake like.

We had one back in the late Seventies in northern N.J. Our house was built on a huge boulder in a rocky, marshy cleft between two hillsides. It felt – and sounded - like we were in a rock tumbler. Last year, another one passed right under my feet, like a subway train. Our Northeast quakes are nothing to California’s though. There are two kinds: the ones that shift from side to side and the other kind that undulates up and down.

For the Liberals, the “Big One” is another one of those crises that they don’t intend to let go to waste. Look how terrible nuclear power plants are? You see what will happen if a really big, 9.1 earthquake strikes your area? Uh-oh. You’d better shut down Indian Point right away. Look how we Libs shut down Shoreham on Long Island, before it even got going. We picketed and rallied until they finally gave up.

And now look at the prices New Yorkers have to pay for their electricity. Obama has promised they’re electric bills will go even higher when he closes all the coal plants down. They’re dangerous, too. Just imagine if that 4.5 earthquake last summer had damaged Shoreham. Yeah. You’d better listen to us.

Indian Point, for all that it was built right on top of a known, active fault line around 1950, has had very few incidents. The few times they’ve had alarms – one bonafide evacuation – they’ve managed it with no radiation leaks. The residents have had plenty of notice. You can’t miss Indian Point’s alarm – you can literally hear it 50 miles down river, yowling away. The residents can get evacuate quickly because the area isn’t congested – it’s a rural area - and they’re right near a major highway.

Best of all, they don’t have outrageous electric bills. It would have been nice if they could have not built Indian Point right near the fault line, of course. Right on the bend in the river. They tried to claim that the glacier that created the Hudson River just lost its way and righted itself again. My mother reported on the building of Indian Point back in the day. She saw the original plans. She says it used to be a picnic area.

However, I don’t want to sound like I’m a Greenie, that I’m anti-nuke. The Greenies should research the number of times the Con Ed plant in New York has had problems. Or how dangerous it is when transformer boxes blow. If you’re going to worry about fault lines, you might as well not build anywhere. The earth is full of fault lines. They’re just more prolific in the Pacific where there’s more volcanic activity. They have plenty of earthquakes in the Middle East. But that doesn’t stop the Arabs from drilling for oil.

Japan is a hotbed of earthquakes. Indian Point? Our area gets hit by a 4 or 4.5 now and then, sometimes we feel it, sometimes we don’t. One answer is sodium iodide, although it is dangerous and should only be taken in an extreme emergency. If you start seeing squirrels glowing green, then take the stuff.  The sodium iodide tablets keep the radiation from hitching a ride on our RNA cells and attaching themselves to healthy cells in our bodies, destroying them. It’s not a cure-all. I worked for a company that hired nuclear power plant workers. The closer you are to the core, the bigger the blast of radiation you’re going to get. Sodium iodide is going to help a core worker who uses more than his one-day-a-year of exposure.

You’re more likely to get cancer from sitting out on a sunny beach too long (especially if you have fair skin) than you are from Indian Point. I wouldn’t recommend going for a picnic in Buchanan. And certainly if you feel the earth shake in one of those occasional Ramapo Fault quakes, that might be a good day to go for a picnic in, say, the Adirondacks or Pennsylvania Dutch country. By the time you come back, whatever radiation they couldn’t contain (and the newer plants have better containment systems) will have dissipated.

You don’t realize it but you’re surrounded by radiation every day from the original “Big One” – the Big Bang. The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) is a source of microwaves that supports the science of cosmology's Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe.

Every time you microwave a dinner, you’re giving your meal a very low dose of radiation. A microwave oven passes (non-ionizing – non-charging – but don’t ever put aluminum in your oven or it’ll catch fire) microwave radiation (at a frequency near 2.45 GHz) through food, causing dielectric heating by absorption of energy in the water, fats, and sugar contained in the food. Microwave ovens became popular in the late 1970s, following development of inexpensive cavity magnetrons (the “engine” that makes a microwave oven operate). Water in the liquid state possesses many molecular interactions which broaden the absorption peak. In the vapor phase, isolated water molecules absorb at around 22 GHz, almost ten times the frequency of the microwave oven.

Microwaves do not contain sufficient energy to chemically change substances by ionization, and so, are an example of non-ionizing radiation. The word “radiation” refers to the fact that energy can radiate. The term in this context is not to be confused with radioactivity. I t has not been shown conclusively that microwaves (or other non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation) have significant adverse biological effects at low levels. Some but not all studies suggest that long-term exposure may have a carcinogenic effect. This is separate from the risks associated with very high intensity exposure, which can cause heating and burns like any heat source, and not a unique property of microwaves specifically.

Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimeter, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz (0.3 GHz) and 300 GHz. This broad definition includes both UHF and EHF (millimeter waves), and various sources use different boundaries. In all cases, microwave includes the entire SHF band (3 to 30 GHz, or 10 to 1 cm) at minimum, with RF engineering often putting the lower boundary at 1 GHz (30 cm), and the upper around 100 GHz (3mm).

Here in America, it used to be that we also didn’t put all our energy resources in one basket. We have coal, water, natural gas, and nuclear. But if the Greenies have they’re way, we won’t be using any of those. We’ll be using the two most undependable, unreliable sources for energy on the planet earth – the sun and the wind.

So, if we’re going to tear down all our nuclear power plants for fear of radiation during a possible earthquake, and rely on gerbil power instead, we’ll have to nuke our microwave ovens as well, and our GPS devices, the police will have to surrender their radar guns, and we’ll have to give up our computers because the process used to make the semiconductors employs microwave technology. And the very electron microscopes that can may one day cure cancer use microwave technology.

Mother Nature killed more Japanese people with the tsunami than are likely to die of radiation exposure. Fifty Fukushima workers volunteered to stay behind to contain the leak, saving the lives of Japanese residents. Their sacrifice is amazing and should long be remembered in the annals of humankind, especially the humankind that believes humankind is evil.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Obamacare - Bad Medicine

It isn’t often that a patient gives their doctor the “bad news.” I’d brought the latest issue of Scientific American with me to my doctor’s appointment to have my meds refilled. The good news is my blood pressure is down and my weight hasn’t gone up.

The bad news for my doc was in an article about physicians’ assistants and how Congress may not be defunding Obamacare afterall. The article cheerily noted how we won’t be seeing that much of our doctors in the future; we’ll be seen primarily by nurses and physicians assistants. Not that I have anything against my doctor’s nurses or PAs – I enjoy chatting with them.

But I enjoy chatting with my doctor, too. First of all, he’s from the Dominican Republic. He has a great accent, and he was a physician attached to the U.S. Marines. And he’s a Conservative. He says his wife is always telling him to keep quiet about his politics lest he lose patients. With me, he gets to spout off freely.

The fact that nurse practitioners and physicians assistants are on the rise didn’t come as a surprise to him. But when I told him how the Socialists intend for his nurses and physicians assistants to be paid the same salary as he is, my usually cheerful, chatty doctor’s face fell and he didn’t speak for a full minute.

I suppose from a financial standpoint it makes sense to have the less well-trained staff members look after people with runny noses or tummy aches. A physician’s assistant examined my mother when she complained that her stomach hurt. He sent her home, telling her it was just constipation.

It was not. It was Mom’s aortic valve collapsing. She had an aortic aneurism. A triple A, as they call it. It was this doctor of mine who saved her life. It was his greater knowledge and analytical ability that allowed my mother to celebrate her 87th birthday in January and survive an ailment her husband did not.

The doctor pronounced his own treatment; if it was true, he was going to get out medicine. If the medical profession didn’t appreciate his intelligence and his education, maybe some other field would. He’s thinking about going into the financial services business.

“I have a good, analytical mind,” he said. “I’m good with numbers. I do well with my own stocks and investments. I love doing that kind of thing. I love medicine, too,” he added. “But I want to be able to put my daughters through college, pay for their weddings, travel with my wife.”

I don’t resent my doctor’s salary at all. He saved my mother’s life, after all. When I finally realized I needed a personal physician, he was my first and only choice.  As he spoke about working in the financial services industry, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the field of financial analysis is another at-risk profession with a very poor prognosis.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gaffe Heard 'Round the World

Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party supporter Michele Bachmann can perhaps be forgiven for a gaffe she made at a speech in Concord, N.H. Bachmann attended a private fundraiser Friday night and was meeting with members of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire on Saturday before headlining a state GOP fundraiser in Nashua later in the day.

Speaking at an event held by the Republican Liberty Caucus on Saturday, Bachmann invoked the founding fathers and offered an historical compliment for the Granite State.

“What I love about New Hampshire,” she stated, “and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord. And you put a marker in the ground and paid with the blood of your ancestors the very first price that had to be paid to make this the most magnificent nation that has ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history.”

Great speech. Wrong Concord. What she was referring to was the 1775 Battle of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the battle which marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It’s a fact that every school child usually knows.

However, Bachmann was raised in a Democrat family. She only converted to being a Republican during her senior year at Winona State University in Minnesota. In an interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, she said she’d been reading Gore Vidal’s 1973 novel, Burr, which mocks the Founding Fathers ,

“'I just remember reading the book and putting it in my lap, looking out the window and thinking, 'You know what? I don't think I am a Democrat. I must be a Republican.”

A lot of water had passed under the bridge since her 3rd grade American history lesson, in which she was probably discouraged by her family from retaining this “useless” piece of information beyond passing the test. If her school even taught her about the Revolution. Her Democrat family certainly would not have helped little Michele reinforce the knowledge by discussing the subject, except perhaps to deride it.

Bachmann was a supporter of Jimmy Carter and she and her husband Marcus worked on his campaign. During Carter's presidency, Bachmann became disappointed with his liberal approach to public policy, support for legalized abortion, and economic decisions that increased gas prices. In the next presidential election she voted for Ronald Reagan.

It’s just as well she made the speech in Concord, N.H., anyway. She’d never be able to invoke the Founding Fathers in the Communistwealth of Massachusetts, which is entirely Democrat. What a pity for those ancestors whose blood paid the very first price to make America the most magnificent nation that has ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Generation Electric

When Benjamin Franklin performed his kite experiments, he was testing a theory that lightning was electricity. He wasn’t trying to harness its power; he was trying to find a power to protect people’s homes from this deadly current.

Thomas Alva Edison began inventing the machines that would harness this power. If it weren’t for Edison, we’d still be trying to read by candlelight. We certainly wouldn’t be communicating through e-mails and Ipads.

As wonderful as our technology is, it still has its drawbacks, as we saw with the Japanese earthquake. It seems as though Japan is experiencing the seven modern plagues. First, the earthquake. Second, the tsunami. Then, the meltdown of its nuclear power plants. Followed by the shutdown of its all-electric mass transportation system. Thanks to the breakdown of the electrical system, people are running into food and water shortages, sewage breakdowns, and general power failures in their buildings and homes.

Are the Amish – the Pennsylvania Dutch – right? Is modern society too dependent upon electricity, provided a mass basis. They believe in electric power, but they refuse to go on the grid, to allow themselves to be connected to the general society.

I love my computer and cable television. I doubt I’ll ever convert over to being Amish. But I do keep a bicycle in my basement, flashlights, batteries, and other emergency supplies, just in case. One news report stated that stranded Tokyo commuters were trying to buy bicycles.

My last car had manual windows. My new car has electric. My brothers car had electric windows and until he could get an appointment to have them fixed, he had to ride around with the window, even in the rain, because that’s where it was stuck.

We’re good at crying “freedom.” But “independence” is a word we’re having trouble wrapping our heads around. Nobody wants to have to roll down their window anymore. If you don’t have electric windows, there’s something wrong with you. You’re stuck in the Edwardian Age. Nobody fixes their own cars, makes their own bread, although people do grow their own vegetables. So there is some hope for us.

We need to learn to be more resilient. The stranded Tokyo commuters have been sitting in their offices because the walk is too far and wintry at this time of year to make the trek home. I sure wouldn’t want to climb the hills between me and my office. I used to take the train and bus into work when I had a job in the city. At least the bus ran on its own fuel and while it could break down (all machines have the capability), another bus could be on its way.

But in Tokyo, millions and millions of people were stranded for days. That was the magnitude of the catastrophe. Another report said that Tokyo’s transportation system is one of the world’s most efficient. I don’t doubt it. But they also noted that when it breaks down in a major crisis, it really breaks down.

We need to remember to rely on our own resources and not put all our transportation and communications needs in one basket. Individual vehicles may not be the best option in a small island nation like Japan or in an island city like Manhattan. However, when the power goes out, it’s going to be a long walk unless you have other means. New York learned that during the 2003 blackout. New York’s ferry services were a great boon on that hot summer night.

When we build really tall buildings, and build suburbs so far away from the business centers, when we rely solely on mass transportation, with electric rather diesel trains, someone had better have a manual, roll-down window, a back-up plan, an alternative.

Because it could be a long time before you get that window rolled back up again.