Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Can you think if you can't remember? Do you think you think?

The sound of her silk skirt has stopped
On the marble pavement the dust grows.
Her empty room is cold and still.
Fallen leaves are piled against the doors.
How can I bring my aching heart to rest?
Han Wu - Ti 157 - 87 BC

Sixth emperor of the Han Dynasty (on the death of his mistress), it’s hard to believe that this is 2000 years old. Poetry is outside the scope of quotations and thoughts on thinking. I left this one in because it illustrates that “they were just like us” long ago and hardly “originally stupid”.

Chris says (and she’s in pretty good company):

Denial is the strongest force in the universe.
Christina Bolgiano 1948 -

Men willingly believe what they wish.
Julius Caesar 100 - 44 BC

To have died once is enough.
Virgil 70 - 19 BC

And Molier said much later: We die only once, and for such a long time!

Carpe Diem
Horace 65 - 8 BC

(The rest is “with little thought for posterity.” [although this one can get you into trouble...]). At least that’s what my self-taught Latin translation for “quam minimum credula postero.” is... If you know better feel free to set me straight.

Many receive advice, few profit from it.
Publius Syrus 1st century BC

He also said strike while the iron’s hot, and a rolling stone gathers no moss, and the same shoe doesn’t fit all, and practice makes perfect, and everything’s worth what someone will pay for it, and misery loves company. You get the picture. He was an adage compiler, it’s impossible to know for sure whether anything he said was original but they’re all good. They’re great little packets of obvious truth and they’re all clichés. But he did finish up with:

Everyday should be passed as if it were to be our last.

Whom they have injured they also hate.

Seneca 8 BC 65 AD

He was referring to the Romans and Carthage, but the sentiment is appropriate to so many more situations. We do tend to justify our cruelties either before or after the fact. Our victims deserved it because we hate them. And of course we hate them for good reasons.

A liar should have a good memory.
Quintillian 42 - 118 AD

The great God Pan is dead.
Plutarch 46 - 120 AD

Most folks think of all pre Christian Gods as Pagan, but Plutarch was probably referring to the demise of the Pagan Earth Goddess religion that fell to the Olympian tradition. Every religion that predates our (ONE TRUE) religion is “Pagan” And their Gods and Goddesses have become our Devils. (See my bolg on the Galactic Spaghetti Monster and the Cosmic Ravioli Being.: SO YOU RUE THE LOSS OF RELIGION IN OUR SCHOOLS?)

Plutarch also gave us:

When candles are out all women are fair.

I started reading Plutarch’s History (biography? Lives of Great Men) of Alexander... “Don’t break the furniture!” But I’ve been pulled away by Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. That’s partly how this all got started. Occasionally, I take a wild hair (hare?) to read something really challenging (the original version of these quotes is the result of one of those times. I lost my digital copy of my favorite quotes and had to retype them in order to send off a quote a day (it has mushroomed into this thing you’re reading). Unfortunately, I sure can’t remember them and pull them out when they’re most needed. Now I just recently read: “Never explain, your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.” And I can’t remember who said it....sounds like Dorothy Parker though. These quotes have been more or less in chronological order. But occasionally I’m going to mix them up, so here goes the cartoonist, Waterson: Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbs...says:

Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?

And who can argue with THAT? Not to be out done, Hobbes says:

It’s not the pace of life that worries me it’s that sudden stop at the end.

Back to the ancient past and a few Anonymous Latinisms which most folks know even if they never took Latin:

Flagrante Delicto Sic Semper Tyrannus
Caveat Emptor Errare Humanum Est
In Vino Veritas

I just wonder when these first became clichés (Alcaeus way back ca. 600 BC said, “Wine, dear boy, and truth.”). That’s the amazing thing about reading about the Greeks and the Romans, that they were so much like us. Somewhere I came across an essay about the “point” where/when Homo whatever became “like us”. At what level of cognition, language, and cooperation did we become people rather than “animals”? Whenever it was, I think that it’s cooperation (communication, using language) that’s important. It’s what has allowed us our mental “short cuts” and freed up a lot of brain power. Not to mention that we don’t all have to learn everything the hard way (even though we often do).

After all, 99% of us can’t invent or construct or even explain the workings of 99% of our manufactured goods. People that believe that the world is flat, and that the space aliens have taken over the Government, and that TV psychics can tell the future; still, when banded together and organized, can run a shipyard that builds ocean going vessels. Of course they’re getting information from thousands of wheres and whens and whos (people who know the world is round and even understand the need to plan for forces of shear, tension, compression, torque, friction, and a few million other things, not to mention correolus forces if you want to shoot a cannon at anything that isn’t due east or west). Most of what we know we learned by building on what was alreary known in the past. And we take it all for granted. However good or bad our memories and memory systems are, things would be vastly different if they happened to be more or less efficient. If we had better memories we might not have invented writing.

I look at some 19th century technology and am amazed. And of course the Romans constructed roads and aqueducts that are still in use today (and can you do long division in Roman numerals?). Still, most people today (at least those with stunted historical perspectives) subscribe to the theory of “Original Stupidity”. Many folks believe that people of long ago must have been stupid not to know things like germ caused disease and that a spherical earth revolves and orbits in a heliocentric solar system full of spherical planets (although, there are lots of folks who don’t believe this to this day). Yet most of these same people, even with what they think they know about the world, were they to be plopped on a island without their toys, couldn’t reconstruct a tiny fraction of the information base that the Romans (in their own turn) took for granted. We build on the past but forget that we do it. And what is history but our attempt to remember?

What fraction of the US population believes that every thing of importance has happened within the last few years (probably coinciding with their life spans)? What fraction of even those with some historical perspective essentially believe that everything important has happened since Jesus was born? And everybody who lived prior to Him was of no significant account. But that’s organized Christianity; don’t get me started on that.... So if the communication revolution changed man into the builder on the past, and the written word expanded this and augmented his faulty memory, and this has led to civilization and science and technology, what’s next? If we ever acquire the ability to “download” from one mind directly to another, it will be another revolution for Homo whatever. It will be a revolution in scale that is so great as to be a revolution in quality. Like the dog sized bumble bee that can’t fly or the inch long battleship that sinks, it will be a new thing not just a more efficient thing. Of course, that won’t happen if we decide that we’d rather see how many babies it takes to destroy the ecosystem. My guess is about twelve billion.

He listens well who takes notes.
Dante Alighieri 1265 - 1321

And the theme of memory comes back. But I’ve jumped from 1st century Latin to Dante. Now I know that there were millions of bon motes between errare humanum est and Dante, but I’ll be damned if I know why I haven’t got them here in my file. As I said, I was more or less systematically going through Bartlett’s quotes and they’re chronological, but he has lifted out the Bible as if it were something different than a collection of quotes. Either I skipped over a bunch, or the “Dark Ages” after the fall of Rome was worse than I thought (and still there’s the whole of the New Testament, and regardless of my opinions of organized Christianity, I know there are quite a few lines worth quoting in that. Plus there are the little things like quotes from Constantine, Augustine, Aquinas, Attila, Mohammed, The Venerable Bede, (whom I recently learned was ignorant of Hadrian’s Wall outside his window. He said it was just a hundred years old at the time of his musings. But it was every bit of 500 years old at the time.) Harold, Charlemagne, a slew of venial Popes with names like Innocent that must have said thousands of ironic things like, “You believe that the universe is infinite? Off with your head, right after we burn you!” (and the two Popes who excommunicated each other, if we only knew which one is in Hell now....), Frederick the Great. There’s Abelard, Saladin ( I more than recognize my ignorance of eastern civilization), Attila, and later Genghis, Mangu, and Kublai Khans...

I do recall a story about Kublai Khan: Rather than a slavering subhuman, he was an able and intelligent ruler and therefore a lover of knowledge. Apparently in 1269 he sent envoys (back with Polo the elder) to Theodosius asking to be sent the 100 “wisest men of the realm” for the purpose of exchange of wisdom. He was sent two Dominican priests who were then in a protracted debate about one of Christianity’s arcane heresies, not to mention the politics surrounding the election of the recent Pope. I don’t think that they ever even made it to the Khan.

I’m reminded of the period when Christian Doctrine was being codified into a unified structure (as opposed to being just another political battle ground.) Something about the Athanasian Creed, and the Arians, Sabellians, and Trinitarians who were into it about various “mysteries” concerning the nature of Jesus/God. The Trinitarians won [of course they would, they had the most ridiculous and presumptuous position concerning the nature of God’s relation to Himself; which is always an irrefutable point to argue from.] This was about when Attila the Hun was boss. He was probably correct not to waste his time talking to those bozos. The Church filled the vacuum of power due to the fall of Rome and they used it, abused it and defined it in their own terms, most of which make little or no sense to us no matter how hard we might try. But Hey! We’ve still got the Trinity; it’s no worse that waving a dead chicken over your head at midnight.

Anyway, I look forward to Gibbon’s discussion of this period, I’m sure he’ll fill me in on a lot that I’ve missed. Unfortunately, having read H. G. Wells two or three times, I still can’t keep it all straight, and his version is likely to be shorter and therefore easier to remember. So much for my own historical perspective. I guess that I have to be content with the fact that at least I know that I’m ignorant. [Socrates] And take solace in the fact that I’m not alone:

What experience and history teach us is this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.
G. W. F. Hegel 1770 - 1856

Those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it.
George Santayna 1863 - 1952

How can this be?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I don't pretend to understand

We all pretend so much more than we realize.   We pretend that we aren't pretending.

Perception, reality, what are we doing here? What am I doing here? What do we take for granted? Do we take for granted that we take many things for granted?  Yes! we do.  Do we take for granted that we aren't pretending (is that pretending?  Yes it is), Yes we do that too.

I can’t believe it. The paradigm is that we pretend to accept, during each and every conversation, every communication, every meeting of the bodies, that there almost always is a meeting of the minds.  We pretend that we are using words that have the same definitions for both speaker and listener. We accept and believe, or pretend to believe, what we hear – IN ORDER TO BE BELIEVED.  Or at least in order to pretend that we are believing. And we have to unless we want to be outcasts. We compromise our vocabulary and our standards of precision of communication.  Social interaction demands it.

Recall the myth, the "fairy tale" of the "honest man", the person that refuses to "lie", to tell a single falsehood? It always results in a tragedy. A bad end. An irony. A result that doesn’t seem to match the sentiments of the effort. The desires of the one striving to be "pure", honest, in other words – the one who stops pretending can't get along, can't be accepted.

More Heliose advice

Well Heloise, it’s been awhile since I last wrote to you but the other day I figured out something that might be of help to your readers. I’m sure that we’re all eager to add to our road kill skull collections but sometimes the "road kills" that we find are a little too far gone to handle. I’m sure that we’ve all passed up some nice specimens just because they were kinda "high". Well. Our neighbors, John and Janet, had some jerk shoot a really big bear on their property and the poor thing wasn’t found until 9 days later. It’d been warm here so you can imagine. But what a shame it would be to waste a perfectly good bear skull by letting the coyotes run off with it. Well I thought; some folks might not be able to do this (remove the head) and to tell the truth, I wasn’t sure that I could either. I mean it was a 400 pound bear and the smell of cadaverine and the buzzing of the flies, not to mention the heat and the pale seething mass of maggots... well you get the picture. We none of us know how we might react to these things once the flailing of the ax gets serious.
Well the hint is: get one of those dust masks (or even a rag) and put some of that good old Dr. Bronner’s Castille Peppermint Hemp soap on it. Wear that over your nose while you’re chopping and slicing and you’ll be just fine. I never even got close to that "Whoops" moment and I hardly sweated at all. I’m sure that this will be a help to your readers.

Your redneck friends R & D

Dear Heloise:
As you know, the milky spore dust that is effective against Japanese Beetle larvae is very expensive. If you read the list of ingredients you see that about 99% of the dust is inert filler. It’s just "dilution" to increase the volume and allow you to more easily handle the treatment. Besides, would we buy it if it cost the same and came in a one tenth ounce package? Well if dilution is the game, and ease of application is the goal and protection against drying is recommended (they tell you to apply prior to rain or to water it in), then why not just mix the dust with water? A few tablespoons of treatment in an old gallon milk jug well shaken is far easier to disperse around your lawn than any kind of dusting strategy. You just walk around and shake out the water. You can spread out your treatments and get far better coverage from the few ounces of dust if you apply it in this manner.
I hope this helps all your readers.

If you’ve ever had a problem with ants or other insects climbing down the hanger and getting into your humming bird feeder and contaminating the sugar water, here’s a trick that really works well.
Cut about a inch off the bottom of any plastic bottle that has the "champagne bottle" shaped bottom. This gives you a hollow half of a torus. Now just thread some fairly stiff copper wire (like # 14 gauge) through a hole in the high part in the middle of the half torus. By putting a knot or even twisting some lighter wire around this wire, you can support the torus in the middle and the wire passing through will be your hanger. By using soft copper, you can attach any kind of extension to the top or any kind of hook to the bottom and hang you feeder below the torus. Now all you have to do is put some oil in the torus and the ants would have to walk or swim through oil to get down the wire to you feeder. They won’t do it. I use chain saw bar oil. It doesn’t evaporate (I’ve used the same trap for three years without having to replenish it).
A good wheel barrel is a useful tool but we all tend to kind of abuse it. After all, it’s designed to have stuff piled into it and then dumped out. Rocks and dirt and concrete are pretty abrasive and then the metal can rust pretty badly. Well the front lip of the barrel where the majority of the wear takes place can be easily protected by slipping a length of old garden hose over the front lip. It also protects more fragile things like good lumber or anything you might want to move with the barrel from being scratched by the beat up front lip.

So Heloise, how YOU doin’?

The search for Truth

I am looking for an honest man.
Diogenes (the Cynic) 400 - 325 BC

Remember the chicken feathers? Here’s a story about Diogenes from a footnote in Bartlett’s: Plato having defined man to be a two legged animal without feathers, [Woody Allen!] Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it to the Academy, and said, “This is Plato’s man.” On which account this addition was made to the definition: “With broad flat nails.”

Talk about your bandaide fixes! No wonder he was a cynic. Even after having their lunch handed to them by Diogenes, the members of the Academy still didn’t get it. And they were supposed to be the wise guys. I suspect that this episode predates the time of Aristotle’s rigorous logic. Or more likely proves the point that just because the rules of logic have been explicated, doesn’t mean that the politicians will use them when flim flam and obscuration will work just as well.

I’m not sure that Diogenes actually said the honest man thing (Aesop did) but if he was wandering around with that lamp and didn’t ask, then he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. It’s a great image, the man with the lamp. A great many people will recognize it immediately. Our collective gestalt of images in our culture is another of the things we take for granted. But it allows us to communicate so much more effectively. I suppose that this is one of those things that translators and diplomats have to be cognizant of. If they’re not, then the risk of miscommunication is significant. So it really frightens me that diplomatic posts are political rewards passed out after the campaign has been successful. It’s documented that George W. passed out important posts to near idiot wet behind the ears Jesus freak idealogues in Iraq (the Iraqis are Moslems!). That really helped the cause (even if you WANT to convert them to Christianity, don’t send the least qualified people you can find). They were likely to have said something like:

If English was good enough for Jesus Christ it’s good enough for me.

This is a semi-quote I read somewhere. Unfortunately, I don’t know where I read it nor did the quoter reveal the quotee. But it was attributed to a US Congressman from the Bible Belt voicing his concerns about the erosion of our great Nation because some folks are so ignorant that they don’t speak English like he does. Which requires me to jump out of chronological order again to:

Against stupidity the very Gods Themselves contend in vain.
Freidrick Von Schiller 1759 - 1805

And coincidentally back to Diogenes’ on my list is:

QED Quod Erat Demonstradum (should I translate? That which was to be demonstrated [proven])
Euclid 300 BC

I think that I did too.

I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.
Chuang Tzu 369 - 286 BC

This one isn’t anything like an adage but it makes you think, and it moved me because I once had a dream wherein I dreamed that I was sleeping and dreaming that I was sleeping and dreaming. That night I was awakened from a vivid dream by lights and voices on my porch in the Broadway house. As I struggled to rise, I awoke and found myself in my bed in Fulks Run. I again tried to rise to go outside, only to awaken again in a different house in a different Fulks Run. I just lay there for a long time. I sometimes wonder if I’m still sleeping somewhere. I guess if you’re reading this, I’m not, unless you’re in my dream too.

Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.
Theophrastus D. 278 BC

When asked at a very advanced age why he was studying geometry, Lacydes said:

If I should not be learning now, when should I be?
Lacydes ca. 241 BC

Give me where to stand, and I will move the earth.
Archimedes 287 - 212 BC

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quotations from critical thinkers

Whoso neglects learning in his youth, loses the past and is dead to the future.
Euripides 485 - 406 BC

These really deep truisms like Aesop’s Morals, and fairy tales and nursery rhymes are so ingrained that they are not so much information themselves but actually systems of thought. Once you’ve proven 1 + 1 = 2, you can apply it in thousands of situations. It becomes a mental short cut.

This only is denied to God: the power to change the past.
Agathon 448 - 400 BC

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.
Socrates 469 - 400 BC

Life is short, art is long, timing is exact, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.
Hippocrates 460 - 400 BC

The life that is unexamined is not worth living.
Plato 428 - 348 BC

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.
Cicero 106 - 43 BC

I have to paraphrase Cicero here. Last Sunday in the Washington Post Fashion section there were some "haute couture" examples that beg the statement: "There is no dress so ridiculous that some designer won't show it, and some woman won't buy it." A few years back I predicted that a misshapen asymetrical hunchback prosthesis will be proposed as high fashion; sure enough, that exact thing turned up in Paris. At least it didn't become a mainstream fad.

I had to jump 250 years and insert Cicero here because Plato also said:

Seeing that the human race falls into the same classification as the feathered creatures, we must divide the biped class into featherless and feathered. (Hold this thought, it will become important later). Bartlett also quoted a rambling discourse on memory using an analogy of waxen impressions... It’s not very succinct but I think the discussion of memory (and by implication, our collective memory: History) is central to any consideration of “quotes”. Quotes may also be viewed as a distillation of the “AH HA!” moment. That “I SEE!” feeling we get on occasion. So someone else said it first, but when we hear it, it seems like we’re remembering it because it seems so true, obvious, profound, so right. Does anybody collect quotes that they hate? Try to think of one. I’d have to search my brain for something a bigot might say to come up with one.... Maybe Pat Robertson’s statement about equal rights for women:

Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.

Other than that, I don’t believe that he thinks it’s so bad... I have the feeling that it’s the capitalism part that bothers him the most. Like the Church of the middle ages, he’s been implying for years on TV that he has the power to sell you an indulgence. Or another stinker, the paragon of democratic logic and virtue that said:

America: love it or leave it. (This is actually a misquote; the real thing suggests the very opposite.)

I have gained this by philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear of the Law.
Aristotle 384 - 322 BC

And we could add “fear of Religion”, but of course, the religion of his day didn’t have that Judeo-Christian Heaven and Hell and sin and punishment in the afterlife dogma we have today. I also have these from Aristotle:

One swallow does not a summer make.
Man is by nature a political animal.
Well begun is half done.

More statements that have become clichés. That’s not too surprising. I am, after all, trying to remember things well said. If they’ve been said well enough, lots of people will have remembered them and they’ll have become clichés. The other thing about Aristotle is that he was the first systematic compiler of knowledge and facts. Apparently, prior to Alexander’s death, Aristotle had all the research grant money he could use. H. G. Wells says that at one time he had a thousand field representatives spread out over the known world collecting information. So, it’s likely that many of the things Aristotle said were recycled from others. This is not to belittle him in any way. After all, the about face he made from Plato’s armchair dreams of constructed utopias (not to mention feathered bipeds) to studying the real world as it existed, is an immense revolution. And the epithet “compiler” is inadequate. He organized. And with his mastery of logic, his organization of anything was instructive of the subject matter and the most useful system of thought at the same time. Mental onmonopoa again. We need only look at what passes for debate these days to see how much our modern hoipoloi don’t know about rational discriminating thought. Most of our arguments aren’t about apples versus oranges, they’re about apples versus orange trees, or orange groves, or the state of Florida. If man is a political animal, why have the demagogues seized the platform? Because the listeners can’t think straight. More later.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Near earth objects

Tunguska-sized explosions occur on Earth about once per century, and larger explosions the size of the largest H-bombs, occur about once per millennium. Many of these explode in the atmosphere and cause devastation over tens of kilometers, but don't leave long-lasting craters. If we want to imagine the effect of impacts we need to calculate the energy release of an A-bomb and compare it to the energy of a NEO impact.
First, we have to know the energy liberated by an A-bomb. The Hiroshima bomb expended the energy of roughly ten thousand tons of TNT, or 18 "kilotons" in military parlance. One kiloton (1 KT) is about 4.2 x 1012 joules (the joule is the unit of energy in the Standard International, or "SI," set of scientific units). The Hiroshima bomb thus represented roughly 8 x 1013 joules of energy.
Now all we have to do is calculate the energy of the meteoroid. In freshman physics courses, you learn that the kinetic energy of a moving object is 1/2mV2.
The trick in using any equation like this is to be sure to use the correct units. In SI, the units are meters, kilograms, and seconds, so that mass m must be in kilograms and velocity V must be in meters/second.
Thus, right away we can say that V in the equation will be V = 15 km/s or 1.5 x 104 m/s.
To get the mass, we have to figure out the mass of a 30-meter wide rock. Rock has a density of about 3000 kg per cubic meter, so we need to calculate the volume of the rock and multiply times this density. Thus we have,
m = (4/3) PI R3 (3000 kg/m3) = (4/3) PI (15 m)3 (3000) = 4.2 x 107 kg.
For a two kilometer asteroid going 28 km/sec:
m = (4/3) PI R3 (3000 kg/m3) = (4/3) PI (1000 m)3 (3000) = 1.3 x 1013 kg.
Thus the total energy is,
E=1/2 ( 1.3 x 1013 kg) (2.8 x 104 m/s)2 = 5.1 x 1021 joules.
To be safe, let's imagine that half the kinetic energy is lost to noise, heat, slowing, and fragmentation of the meteoroid before it explodes. That still leaves about 2 x 1021 joules for the Asteroid 2002 NT7 explosion, compared to about 3 x 1013 joules for the Hiroshima A-bomb.
Thus, my estimate is that the NT7 had an explosive energy roughly on order of 6.6 x 107 TIMES the A-bomb. That’s 66,000,000 Hiroshima bombs. All at once, all in the same place.
By the way, all those Sci-fi shows where folks look up and see the incoming? The speed of light electro magnetic output of the object in the atmosphere will instantly crisp all line of sight organic matter (you). You won’t see it because you won’t be, anymore, instantly, forever or for billions of years which ever is longer.

Vote with your wallet

Dear Sirs: (Add the company of your choice) August 21, 2009

It has often occurred to me that many people in the media who have been given a platform will say the most outrageous things just to stir things up and get attention (and therefore exposure), even though many of these things are demonstrably false, or slanderous, or just plain mean and hurtful: O'Reilly screaming at the son of a 9-11 victim "that I'm [O'Reilly] going to punch you out..." Lou Dobbs saying that the "Birthers" opinions "certainly ...are...views... that can't be discounted." Saying that "These questions will not go away." And then his CEO saying the same day:. "This... story is dead." Ann Coulter saying that she is being abused by the mothers of the dead in Iraq because the mothers have a "hidden" agenda. Then there's Glenn Beck, saying that Obama is a racist and that he hates white people (and then 30 seconds later saying that the President doesn't hate white people, but that he's a fascist). But, (he) Beck is a true patriot, and Democrats are fascists. Beck just opens his mouth to see what comes out. Free speech, yes, but maybe with consequences. It is my opinion that Beck is screaming "FIRE" in a crowded theater.
I have always wondered, who is paying these people? Why, it's YOU, Mr.Advertiser.

So the other night when I happen to catch Beck making one of his ridiculously inciteful (not to be confused with insightful) pronouncements; I thought that I'd make a list of his sponsors so that I wouldn't make the mistake of ever patronizing any of their products. I recorded every advertiser during his program (I didn't have to watch and listen to the crap; isn't Tevo grand?). You Mr. Advertizer are on that list.

I am sharing these observations and the information I have recorded with as many people as I can; as often as I can. I am establishing a Blog as well. You keep up the good work and maybe we'll see whether the likes of Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs really speak for the majority of Americans. But you're not getting any of my money.

Sincerely, (READACTED; feel free to copy any part, print and send to your favorite. A hand written name after "Sirs:" and a note added after "Sincerely," adds weight to any communication. P.S. I signed my letters, you should too.) The following are the sponsors of the Glen Beck program:

Jos. A. Bank, P.O. Box 1000, Hampstead, MD 21074-4000.
Charles Binder, Binder & Binder® National Headquarters, 33-00 Northern Blvd., Suite 7A, Long Island City, New York 11101, Telephone: 800.742.9696, Fax: 718.512.2424
Carbonite, 334 Boylston St - 3rd floor, Boston, MA 02116, 617-587-1100, Toll Free: 877-665-4466
Direct TV, (this was almost impossible to get: (1 800 531 5000) I get the feeling that they don't want to hear from you unless you're going to give them money.
Goldline International, 1601 Cloverfield Boulevard, 100 South Tower, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Lear Capital, Inc., 1990 S. Bundy Dr., Suite 600, Los Angeles, CA 90025 Phone: (800) 576-9355
Phone: (310) 571-0190 Fax: (310) 571-0194
Lend America, 520 Broadhollow Rd, Melville, NY 11747
Liberty Medical, Medco, Inc., (I could only find a web site e-mail address
Merit Financial, 1300 4th Street, Suite 303, Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone 310.394.7577
Metastock, Equis International, 90 South 400 West, Suite 620, Salt Lake City, UT 84101
New Max Magazine, P.O. Box 20989, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33416
Pearle Vision Luxottica Retail, 4000 Luxottica Place, Mason, OH 45040 1-800-732-7531
Sears Holdings Corp., Edward Lampert
Regions, 1-800-734-4667
Roseland Capital, 429 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 450, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Target, Corporate Info. # 1.800.440.0680
Wall St. Journal, 200 Burnett Road, Chicopee, MA 01020
Zero Technologies, LLC., 4510 Adams Circle, Unit G, Bensalem PA 19020

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Heloise Part 3

Dear (deer) Heloise;

Each year after a successful deer hunt, my brother Davis and I always make every effort to utilize every part of the animal, including the deer hide. Butchering is a big job and just like you, Heloise, we sometimes find ourselves hard pressed to do an adequate job of stretching and flensing the hide. After all, the priority work is the meat butchering job. When I shot my deer this last Thanksgiving Day, Davis wasn't here and I was sorely pressed for time (I still had the turkey to prepare).

After stripping the hide off I spread it out "butter side down" on the concrete floor of my workshop. An hour later you would have sworn that the deer skin had been carefully stretched and tacked down to the floor.

The action of the deer blood and the rough concrete was akin to an effective glue. The hide partially dried flat and smooth and I was able to remove the tail as if I had an extra pair of helping hands holding the hide flat. What a time saver! Next year I hope you and your readers get to try out this trick; it works great!

Well all that talk of butchering put me in the mind of another trick I learned at the doctor's office. I guess you could say that I'm a little accident prone because I tend to cut myself fairly often and I have a lot of experience bandaging those cuts. Well the other day I really laid myself open across the top of my index finger. Every time I bent my finger it pulled open and bled like a stuck pig. What to do? I didn't want to waste the day in the emergency room, not to mention the three or four hundred bucks they'd charge for a few stitches. So I improvised what 'Ole Doc Gamin did for me a few years back. I got out my bottle of skin glue and tore the plastic and gauze pad off a nice new cloth Band-Aid, TM. By holding the finger straight with a splint and squeezing hard I was able to get the blood stopped long enough to lay down a coat of glue. I quick slapped the thin "saran wrap" part of the bandage pad onto the wet glue and then applied a few more coats as it dried (all the while holding my hand way above my head. Well you wouldn't believe how nice that rig held everything together until it healed. Less than a week later I'm completely back in business. Doc Gamin had special glue and special sterile cloth material. He told me that I couldn't buy them for myself due to abuse of medications regulations. I guess that somebody knows how to have too much fun with stuff like that; you know, like prescription drugs. The government just has to regulate these things and protect us. My version will work just as good as the Doc's just as long has you don't get it infected. I guess the Government would prefer that you get infected while they complain about rising medical costs (emergency room). The good news is that lots of bleeding cleans out a cut pretty good. It made a real neat scar too.

That sounds about right. Part 1

If and apple a day keeps the doctor away, certainly a quote a day is as salutary for the mind. I’ve been thinking about memory and learning and what we think of as knowledge. What I’ve come up with is that we have these little pieces of what we’re pretty sure we know… somewhere in our minds. We use our direct memories to substantiate them whenever possible. But, we’ve got too much “processed” information in our heads to rely on our own experiences only (and we’d be cutting ourselves short of a huge resource if we tried). So we’ve “distilled” large volumes of stuff into fairly neat little packages; adages that are Internal Truisms. And this has all been done before by others, and they’ve done it better than we can, so we quote their truisms (even when they happen to be false). Or, we come across the quote that makes us see something that we haven’t thought about before. We may have thought all around it, or even been puzzled by it, then a quote explains it all in a flash. I wish I’d said that! The trick of making it into this document is to have said it the first time.

Right timing is in all things the most important factor.
Hesiod 700 BC

That’s well said, but Solon, who follows not only said:

I grow old ever learning many things.
Solon 638 - 559 BC

He also said:

Hesiod might as well have kept his breath to cool his pottage.
I don’t think that he was responding to that particular adage. You don’t have to agree with everything a guy says. Solon was among the “Seven Sages” to whom all adages were attributed back in the old days (pre 500 BC). So there’s some envy and competition among the sages, what’s new? These wise guys are all still human, and to err is human (I wish I’d said that). And later we’ll see what Jonathan Swift has to say about competing poets (wordsmiths). So you learn something new everyday. Writing this up has led me step by step through some wonderful moebius spirals back to the beginning. While focusing on these truisms, I keep finding myself back at where I started.

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot 1888 – 1965 AD,

Back to the really old stuff:
It takes a wise man to recognize a wise man.
Xenophanes 570 - 475 BC

There’s something else about Internal Truisms. Many, like the one above not only have been internalized, but they also contain an internal truth; they not only define themselves, they illustrate themselves as well. It’s a “good tautology”, like mental onomonopea. It takes a wise man to recognize a wise man and a wise man to write the adage that may be wasted on a man who isn’t wise. If you haven’t thought about Xenophanes’ adage before, doing so now helps you to be wise. And this gets back to the way our minds work. We feel we understand best when we hear something we already believe to be true, it is positive feedback. So these deeply planted truisms reinforce themselves every time we hear them. There needs to be a word for “good tautology”: “the internal truth that defines and illustrates itself”, that works on more than one level at a time. How about “eudox”, or “unparadox”, or “antiparadox”? I like the sound of the adjectival forms: eudoxal and eudoxic.

When I read Bartlett’s, I learned something about Diogenes Laertius. A lot of quotes appear with the footnote “from Diogenes Laertius, ca. 200 AD” (not to be confused with Diogenes the Cynic, ca. 375 BC). I’ve discovered that he did what I’m doing here (and Bartlett did it after him). He compiled his favorite quotes. So here I am distilling the distillate of the distilled, like nested Russian dolls.

What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
Confucius 551 - 479 BC

How many versions of the Golden Rule are there? Which one was first and why can’t we actually adhere to it? I seem to recall finding about a dozen variations of it (Matthew, Aristotle, and many others ).

I am sure the grapes were sour.
Aesop 550 BC

Oh boy! There is a wealth of human nature to be mined here, all from Aesop:

Don’t count your chickens...
Slow and steady...
Familiarity Breeds...
Cry Wolf...
God helps those who...
Who shall bell the cat...
Blow hot and cold...
Kill the goose that laid...

All so well known that you don’t have to finish the phrase, everybody has heard them. They’re in the special class of quotes that we can remember. So good they’re not quotes but part of the collective wisdom we take for granted. This will happen again. When an adage distills a Truth so evident to all, it gets a special place in the culture. Then, we’re surprised when someone can ignore it. It creates that sentiment; “what were you thinking?” Well, that will happen over and over again too.

It is not possible to step twice into the same river.
Heraclitus 540 - 480 BC

Nothing endures but change.

But how do we reconcile this with the following?

There is no new thing under the sun.
Ecclesiastes (ca. 950 BC? This is the time of Solomon, reported to be the author of 3,000 proverbs and a thousand songs. There were likely a few things worth quoting in there somewhere.)

Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.
Euripides 485 - 406 BC
(Remember the wise man?)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Heloise, part two

It's me again, Heloise:
Timely maintenance of good tools is always an important consideration so when I was changing the oil in my lovely new tractor, Myrtle, I thought of you, Heloise. It was that all important first 50 hour service and I really wanted it to be perfect. Well wouldn't you know it? I couldn't get the old oil filter off? I tried everything in the book. I've got all the tools, filter wrenches and everything but because of its location, I couldn't get it loose without resorting to the old "pound a screwdriver through it" last messy resort. I wasn't prepared to do that because I wasn't sure that my replacement filter was the right one (with new vehicles, parts don't always look the same as their replacements...) So if the filter was wrong, I might have been stuck with a lot of spilt oil and an unmovable tractor instead of a perfectly serviced one. So I tried a trick that has saved me several times before.

I wrapped a piece of rope around the filter counter clock wise about five times being sure to overlap the first few loops (I used parachute cord but any strong but slim rope will do, even a long belt in an emergency). Leaving enough cord to hold onto, I aligned myself perpendicularly to the threaded shaft of the filter and pulled firmly. The filter turned right off easily. I've used this trick on my pickup truck which has the filter in a spot where you can't get a good grip on it. So far this has never failed me no matter how stuck the filter has been. You know, I think that the dealership maintenance folks put 'em on too tight on purpose. They get to charge a $25 labor fee for twenty seconds of work that way.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

So you rue the loss of religion in our schools?

If you think that the belief in God should be taught in school, consider the following:
A few years back Martin Luther had a little problem with the Catholic (only) religion of the "Holy Roman Empire" His problem had to do with the "teaching" of this particular religion and its absolute, government sanction (remember there was no such thing as separation of Church and State) in all the schools (well, there were only "Sunday schools" then) Even though Martin would be the first to admit that religion was overall a good thing; he still had some reservations about exactly how it was being promoted among the relatively powerless masses (imposed, taught?, indoctrinated? Just how powerful are our children in school?) So he questioned just what kind of dogma should be taught. He didn't like what was being imposed so he nailed 49 "Theses" on the cathedral door.

So you may not like the "removal of religion from school"? Following is an exercise in the removal of concept of the separation of church and state and an argument for the teaching of religion in the United States of America's government (taxpayer) supported schools (Ah, but which religion, you ask?):

Exactly how much more (and/or better) evidence is there for the existence of Jesus or the Judeo-Christian God (or any other gods or elements of faith for that matter) than there is for the existence of the Galactic Spaghetti Monster? None. You say that TGSM is not a REAL religion? Please consider what would happen were you to convene a meeting of one representative of each of the approximately 15,000 religions of the world (there are thousands of "Protestant Christian" sects in the USA alone. That would be a harmonious meeting wouldn't it?) So TGSM religion is as real to its adherents as are other faiths of those who see Mary on toast, handle snakes, or swing chickens around (actually, some fundamentalist Hebrew sects do this, among others) So it should also be taught in schools, right? Well think again! Some religions (gasp! I bet you never thought of this) are opposed to one another. I heard from a Priest recently, he sent me the following screed:

The pejorative "monster part" of TGSM will be dropped shortly after Jesus has been declared to be the new "Satan" and the new Galactic Spaghetti God religion reigns supreme (unless other people who are even more certain of the "TRUTH" get there first. At that point no one will know who will be the new "Satan"). But wait! The Galactic Spaghetti Monster (God) has a new challenge. He will be the new, new "Satan" of the...

Newer Religion! THE COSMIC RAVIOLI BEING!!!! trumpets blare: TA DA!!!!
The CRB is the only true God. All other beliefs are nothing but the base, disgusting, blathering of the evil, wicked, stupid and unclean spewers of falsehood and filth. CRB brooks no dissent or disrespect. Those who do not believe in SHim (please; gender in a god?) deserve only death.
The Prophet of TCRB, Blessed be his name, Timnar Thuler speaks the only truth. He tells us: The GSM is the apostate Devil and TCRB is the one true GOD:
The priesthood of the galactic spaghetti monster (note lower case; from now on tgsm will be referred to as "pastafarians") has become corrupt, engaging in the following:
1) pastafarian authoritarian priests declaim dogma that is false with many arbitrary rules.
2) pastafarain authoritarian priests' rules are inconsistent and change the path(s) to salvation at the whim of each new head priest.
3) pastafarian authoritarian priests sell promises of salvation for cash and salacious services.
4) pastafarian authoritarian priests are militant and self-serving, supporting the subjugation of the weak, the poor, and all nonbelievers. Priests claim salvation alone for themselves and those of whom they approve.
5) pastafarian authoritarian priests are hyper militant and support violence and WAR. They believe that God's will is the end that justifies all means. If it is for the glory of God; it cannot be wrong.
6) pastafarian authoritarian priests are arrogant and falsely assume the mantle of omnipotence.
7) pastafarian authoritarian priests absolve the rich of burdensome responsibilities imposed on the poor, the powerless, and the weak.
8) pastafarain authoritarian priests wear sumptuous clothing and surround themselves with gold and luxurious things (some have jet planes!). They eat expensive and rare foods unavailable to the people. They live in palaces and are driven in limousines and are flown in luxurious jet planes (they really have their own jet planes!). They have many body guards and sychopantic servants, concubines, and unlimited access to your daughters and sons. They are hypocrites. Did I mention the jet planes?
(For the full list of the 49 false pastas see our web site: www://http: )
The Cosmic Ravioli Being, in contrast, is perfect in every way. HIS priests are all... ALL! paragons of virtue and pure intelligent truth. Every single one of the prophets of The Cosmic Ravioli Being have been lifted directly into the glittering Cosmos and are presently stars in the firmament for all to see. Can there be any doubt? That's PROOF! Only true believers will ascend thusly. Do you doubt the stars?
Only the wicked would object to the strict instruction of The Cosmic Ravioli Being's religion in all schools everywhere. People everywhere would be greatly improved by the experience of knowing SHIM. If you doubt it, you are evil. Your are an instrument of the Devil (I forget which one is current).
If you disagree with any of this; it PROVES that you are evil. All those who teach the truth will receive magnificent rewards. If you don't accede to the CRB truth, you are not even human and I and any of my servants may treat with you as if you were a worm. Nothing done to you can count as any sin or be subject to any secular Law.
Why do you persist in your false beliefs?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dear Tina;

Dear Tina,

As I look over your life from a distance, I am alarmed at the accumulating detritus. Here you are, the mother of a toddler just getting out of diapers and another child who just turned six in April, and your world is littered with dozens of empty Marlboro Light packs. That’s bad enough, but are those stronger Pal Malls driving you to use that Albuterol Sulfate Inhalant? Or does one of the kids have asthma?

You shop at Food Lion and buy far too much sugary processed stuff. Often, the king-sized enriched plain sandwich bread and some small yogurts are the closest thing to real food that you have in the house. You buy Kicks, Twix, Drumsticks ice-cream bars, Shake ‘n Bake, Toast Scrambles, X-Treme Jell-O, and instant mashed potatoes. Instant? Come on! You never finished filling out the ManPower application, so with no job, don’t you have the time to mash a few real spuds? They’re cheaper, too. And then there are the high sugar, high caffeine soft drinks: Classic Coke, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper (by the way, large plastic bottles are less expensive than the cans). And the Burger King take-out meals aren’t any better. Do you really need that much ketchup? All that junk food might explain your Gas-X habit. How much longer do you think that you can wear size six satin bikini panties? A few Nutri-grain bars aren’t exactly going to balance your diet. By now you realize that I also know what kind of shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, toothpaste, and feminine hygene protection you use; though I haven’t drawn any conclusions from that information (except that apparently, at least you're not pregnant again).

Apparently, your problem with the authorities last March resulted in a judgment of guilty of Breach of Peace and a fine of $160.00. You had to pay up or risk the loss of your driver’s license. Did you pay in time? With money so tight I can’t figure out why you didn’t bother to challenge the Medicaid cut-off date for your older child. How are you going to pay all those doctor’s bills?

And who am I to give advice? I’m just the guy who picked your garbage out of the bushes on my property. The bags were torn open and the junk was strewn around so I had to pick it all up piece by piece. That’s how I came across your name and address on the court papers and all that personal information about you. I could have turned you in to the county sheriff. But I have come to realize that the last thing you need right now is another court case, another fine, and more public humiliation. That obviously wouldn’t be a good thing for your little ones. Instead, all I ask, Tina, is that you get a better grip on your life and your garbage.

Sincerely yours, Mr. Landowner

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Past notes to Heloise, part one

An open letter to Heloise:
The other day, my brother Davis and I were thinking about some of the hints we’ve seen in your column. Of course, being country boys, we kinda feel like you’re a little too biased toward the "little old lady" kind of hint, but we decided to just keep trying with our more manly "redneck" hints. It was either that or try and start our own column; nah, too much like work.
Well here goes nothin’:
Most of us guys born prior to 1950 just are not comfortable wearing our hats indoors, even to just sit down in a diner to eat. But forgetful as we’re all getting, one of the easiest things to lose is a ball cap (and some of those have serious sentimental value to a guy). You can’t "check" your hat anywhere any more and most places don’t even have a hook on the wall, so what to do?
I take my hat off and tuck the brim into the back of my pants, you know, into the top of the waistband (even works if you wear suspenders). It’s out of the way, you look respectful of the circumstances and you’ll have your hat when you leave . You do have to remember it’s there if you happen to go into the men’s room and have to loosen your belt or takedown your pants for any reason (you know what I mean). Otherwise you just might have to flush it down no matter how much you love that hat.


An open letter to advertisers:
Ok, so maybe I' m a little weird. But, like most folks, I have my TV and radio on for significant periods of each day. I of course, see plenty of your ads. What you may be interested to learn is that I do not respond to your ads according to what your demographic marketing professionals tell you.
When I hear someone on the radio talk fast, I assume that what I am hearing is a lie. The faster the talk, the bigger the lie. When I see images on the TV flashing rapidity, I look out the window. I know that it must be a commercial and that I am most likely not only not interested but that I'm being inundated with stressful images and prejudicial opinions (more lies).
I especially try to buy products that are not advertised during high profile events such as the Super Bowl or the World Series. I know that the cost of ALL advertising is passed on to the consumer. All things being equal, I'm sure that the company that produces a bottle of pop and that doesn't pay a half a million dollars a minute for a commercial has to be a better value to me.
I am subjected to hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of ads for automobiles between the rare points in my life (once every eight or ten years) when I'm actually in the market to buy a car or truck. A new Ford or Chevy has to cost thousands of dollars over manufacturing costs just to pay for all the thousands of expensive radio, TV, print, and billboard ads that blight our lives (I was going to say consciousness, but it's unconscious too and "consciousnesses or collective consciousness" sounded funny).
Of course advertising has a legitimate function. We all need factual information as to what is available, where, when, at what cost. There really are differences in quality, environmental and social issues between products and companies. I’d like to know the differences. Of course, 99% of 99% of ads can be translated into one phrase: "We’re better than them." It’s like the two Popes that excommunicated each other. Which one is in Hell?
When a company decides to bathe the planet with incredibly expensive ads at saturation levels, I for one get the real message: This product is likely identical to its competitors, except maybe it costs more ... because of all the money wasted on over advertising.
The dentist asked me the other day whether I wanted any cosmetic work done on my teeth. I said, "No." I’m not likely to invest the GNP of the average African village of one hundred people to make my teeth a little prettier. It doesn’t take much to set me off.
I thought about the "Cosmetic Industry". Oh boy! We’ve got a "Cosmetic Industry", and an "Entertainment Industry", and probably the Associated Federation of Organizations "Industry" too. We are told that they are all important parts of our "vibrant" economy. Well, I concede that they at least move money around, I guess that anything that moves money around is an industry. So apparently the "Car Theft Industry" is also an important part of our economy; it sure moves money around. Mostly it moves money from relatively well off people who have cars and insurance to those people who have neither. "Industry" used to mean the hard work that resulted in the construction of something. Now it seems to mean anything at all. And some people will buy anything. Unfortunately, this broadening of the meaning hasn’t been accompanied by a qualification of the word’s positive connotation. We hear that all "industry" must be good, right? Anything that moves money around is productive. This brings me to the "Defense Industry".
Now since we are spending a few trillion dollars of Defense Industry money over in Iraq, it made me wonder about how that money is moving around. Well we pay for the bombs, we pay for transporting the bombs to Iraq, we pay the folks there to drop the bombs. But it doesn't end there. We have to pay to replace the bombs and apparently, we’ll pay to replace all the things that the bombs blew up (except for the bodies). There is a fallacious theory of economics (is THAT a redundancy?) that deals with the town glazier’s child who goes out at night and breaks windows so that his dad will have plenty of work replacing them. The theory goes on to posit that this is ultimately good for everyone since it keeps the money moving around, (the glazier buys glass from a wholesaler and meat from the butcher, the butcher buys grain from the miller, the miller buys... etc. Ad infi ni dum) . Our Defense Industry is the ultimate window breaker. Money that is spent on things that go BOOM and make other things disappear can’t be money well spent; I don’t care how fast it moves money around. The economic theory? An economist is to a mathematician what an astrologer is to an astronomer (or a cosmetic surgeon is to a doctor).
I’m not saying that we don’t need a Defense Industry, we do. I’d just like to see them defending us instead of Baghdad, especially our National Guard; they used to guard the Nation- ( rhymes with fashion al  Guard). Back when G. W. Bush joined the National Guard, NONE, not one of them went to the real war. So he wasn’t a draft dodger, he was a combat dodger. I was too. I just admit it.
So what am I to do with the money I’ll not be spending on my teeth? (Is this where it all started?)
As a cynic I believe that even if I were to send all that money (or even more, were I to do the "Jesus and Mother Theresa thing" and relinquish every bit of my resources) to Africa, or anywhere, there would surely be some scammer or consultant or government official on hand to skim off the majority of the good stuff for themselves. Then they’d probably figure out a way to get a US government grant to help them procure a permanent subsidy (paid for by the taxpayer) to help them maintain their pipeline to the money and property. I don’t know of ANY lobbyists that are protecting me and my money...
This hasn’t stopped me from giving. But I’m damn careful about how I give. After all, I get to give to the Defense Industry each and every pay check whether I want to or not. By the way my dentist is a pretty good musician, he sings along with the radio as he drills. I like that.


Please, please, please, everybody knows that the weather doesn’t start and stop at the international borders of the United States, Canada and Mexico. How would you like to live in south west New Mexico (the USA, in case you didn’t know)* where most of their weather comes from Mexico, and not be able to see what’s coming? Same for the folks in North Dakota where the fronts roll in from Canada. Toronto, Canada is south of a bunch of New England. Do you have a lawyerly prescription barring you from showing a forecast for Canada and Mexico? (And by the way; your graphics have gotten much worse since Jan. 2008 when I first wrote this.)
It’s bad enough that you can’t seem to keep your talking heads from standing right in front of the weather map while they point out to us (for the thousandth time) where Chicago is. And your graphics "editor?" won’t be happy until he/she has so cluttered the screen with ancillary factoids (it’s 68 in San Diego right now - fascinating for those of us in Virginia) and pretty yellow picture frames and the names of the talking head now up, that what little substantive information remaining is impossible to see or is flashed on the screen for less than a second and a half. Certainly, framing and wiggling the photos sent into you by viewers enhances them tremendously. And another thing: your legend at the top of the forecast map covers up about 4 million square miles of the USA. Do you think that it could be a little smaller and still inform all those "first time viewers" what the colors mean? The 99.9999% of the rest of us already know what the colors mean anyway; we’d be fine without any legend at all. The actual radar is the most useful thing you put up on the screen and although you do show it "on the eights" you run the three hour loop so briefly and quickly that it’s easy to miss. Your legend and your channel icon often cover up a large portion of the image. By the way, I’ve seen your "real-time" radar show a massive front still in the west over in West Virginia at the same time that I can see it out of my window 30 miles EAST of the state line moving easterly over the Massanutten Mountain. I’d never climb into a boat on the Chesapeake Bay based on your "up to the minute" information. Aren’t you afraid of being sued by some poor putz’s estate because he believed you? How about a clock on the radar screen that shows the real time of the loop? Oh and a six or twelve hour loop now and again would be nice, too. The truth is that only with "Tevo type" stop, slo mo and pause, is your show watchable. You can tell your advertizers** that most viewers aren’t seeing their ads either. And playing "faux pause" with alexandra’s face is a hoot!
During your regional coverage you often jump from New England to Atlanta as if Washington, DC, Virginia and West Virginia don’t even exist. Then when you get to the Mid West there you are standing in front of the map with your butt obscuring the part of the country where 60% of the people live. Just for grins, sit and watch for an hour and pretend that you live in Charlottesville, VA.
Finally, why not at least pretend that a few of your viewers actualy know what to expect from a cold front? Maybe you could actually show us the map with highs and lows and fronts on it more than once every few hours. You could make up the time lost by dropping some of those three hour too early "on the scene" reports by you traveling disaster team. Don’t you realize that commercials** for yourself are self defeating? I can only tune in as much as I am tuned in right now. You spend half of your air time telling us that you are going to tell us something, sometime (then you don’t till after the next ad). Do you think that noone notices when you do this? It’s insulting.
I’m ranting but that doesn't mean that my points aren’t valid and that if you modified your programming consistent with my observations your show would be far more informative and educational. But I can see that you are in the entertainment business, not the weather business. I can’t believe that somebody hasn’t come along and cleaned your clock for you. A little competition would sink you in a minute.
* New Mexico has an on going problem with folks who apparently believe that Texas and Arizona touch each other. You apparently don’t think that anyone lives between New York and Atlanta.
** Ads and "Telling us what you’re going to tell us" all wasted time; 90% of your program.


On August 4, 2011, gold closed at about $1650 per ounce. That's about 22% in six months. This is likely reflects the level of confidence so many folks have in our House of Representatives. Unfortunately for us little investors, the really big investors and Governments don't have to pay that 15% charge every time they buy or sell something (nor the tax on transactions), so they're in a position to push the price up and down to their advantage.

The financial pundits are always making fun of the "cash under the mattress" people. Burying stuff in your back yard ala Erskin Caldwell may seem dumb; right up until you pick up the paper and see that your NYSE stocks have lost thirty percent of their "value" in a week, and then they lose another 20 % over the next month or so... Don't we wish we had had all our money in gold in September 2008? (When it was about $700.)

We need to remember that those same pundits called "no money down, no principal paid the first year loans" for super over priced houses _SECURITIES_! (House prices propped up by Greenspan's super low interest rates. "Hey! I can afford to pay for more house than I can use for more money than I have because the Government has interest rates WAY below the inflation rate! And I get to deduct the payments from my taxes! And the house will double in value in three years.*" And the real estate people obliged by hawking the "no risk" investment potential of houses and there were TWO TV shows about "flipping houses" for big bucks.) Now let's bundle the loans and sell them to other banks! Oh Boy!

SECURITIES! Secured by what? A promise to pay made by someone who is spending 130% (average American family debt) of their income on restaurant meals, cars, and vacations? (Also "secured" by a home "equity" loan. Equity that only exists and only on paper because the real estate sales people SAID the house would sell for big bucks because *see above*). SO, does anyone ever ask just exactly where the big bucks sales commissions for Realtors come from? Or where the two billion dollars came from that the Sandler couple walked off with just prior to the implosion of their World Savings Bank? Their bank was so Ponzied with fake "securities" that it brought down Wachovia, the purchaser.

The worst thing in the world that can happen to you is for a realtor to tell you that your house is worth twice what you thought it was IF YOU AREN'T PLANNING ON MOVING! And maybe even if you are, because you have to live somewhere and you'll have to buy another house that's probably over priced by the realtors. "Everything is worth what someone will pay for it." said Publilius Syrus about 2100 years ago. But that is only true if there is money out there. How much money disappeared in the fall of 2008? Everything is worthless in dollar terms right up untill it's sold. A house (realestate) is two things; an investment and a place to live. don't confuse the two.

We give lip service to the fact that everything comes from somewhere and you don't get something for nothing, but if you're just buying and selling things, houses, and companies, you're not creating anything, you're just moving money around so fast you get to keep some of it (Ayn Rand). Now, just where did all those "profits" come from? It's too complicated, say the pundits, you wouldn't understand.
Back in the 17th century there was a bubble for tulip bulbs in Holland. You could buy two or three houses with the right kind of tulip bulb because the bulb was GOING TO BE WORTH SO MUCH MORE TOMORROW! Forever and ever.
I'm still reading that the housing industry isn't back to "normal". Normal like what was going on in Las Vegas? I wouldn't live there if you gave me a mansion.