Friday, May 25, 2007

Remembrance of Things Past

For those of you who want to probe the past, Ancestry.com has opened their files for a limited time (June 6) to search military records. You will have to register (guest) to see the actual documents, but it is well worth it. Even if your relatives never actually served in the military, they probably had to register.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Earth is a Rube

Are we all dupes? I don't watch American Idol and I really got tired of that Sanjaya guy, but what if this is true? Double dupe!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Heaven is A Cube


When my father was dying of prostate cancer spreading to his bones, Pastor Birner, our long-time minister in the Lutheran faith, came to visit. The family gathered in our parents bedroom, where Dad lived his last days.

Birner read from the Bible, Revelations 21:16.

21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
A furlong is 1/8 of a mile so that would be a cube 1500 miles on a side. Heaven is a giant cube.
Now some say the Bible (especially Revelations) is not to be taken literally. But if that’s true than what about the famous Water Into Wine episode? Maybe it was just red water.

I say this Revelation is to be taken literally. A giant cube 1500 miles on a side – floating in space. Crammed with billions of souls. Not good.

I always thought heaven was all of the universe, with the souls zooming along through giant rivers of plasma, streaming from one galaxy to the next. This little cube, about the size of the western US, seems very restricting. Why would god want to wall off all the good souls in a tiny cube?

Speaking of heaven (by way of a very well written blog –
The Human Race & Other Sports)

The most recent good news from the Vatican was Pope Benedict XVI’s approval of a
Vatican report released April 20 by the International Theological Commission that said there were “serious” grounds to hope that unbaptized children might get into heaven. Prior to this report it was believed that unbaptized children went to a place called “limbo”. Theologians (none of whom, I have it on good authority, has ever visited) describe “limbo” as a place where children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness. It almost certainly has enough teeter-totters and swings for everyone as well as cotton candy, lemonade, computer games and all the other things children enjoy. According to those in the know, the only thing lacking in limbo is communion with God which in the vernacular means the children there have no adult supervision, a condition that most of the children would find very much to their liking and in many cases probably comports with their idea of heaven.

If the International Theological Commission in its continuing studies of this issue concludes that the unbaptized can go straight to heaven without passing limbo and that view becomes church doctrine, there are two obvious questions. Will the new policy be retroactive and will there be an age or geographical cutoff?

With respect to the first question, it seems likely that in the divine order of things there are a certain number of unbaptized infants who die each year and if they are now permitted to enter heaven, their entry will occur in an orderly fashion. Those presently in limbo present an entirely different problem. There are surely billions of unbaptized infants cavorting about in unsupervised perfect happiness in limbo. Although all may not want to leave their perfectly happy state, others may welcome the chance to get to heaven which, even though none of them as been able to visit it, almost certainly enjoys as good a reputation in limbo as it enjoys here on earth. If billions decide all at once that they want to go to heaven, the question is can heaven accommodate what might be described in today’s parlance as a “surge”.

The second question is whether there is an age or geographical cutoff for invocation of the dispensation. At what age does failure to be baptized become an offense that
warrants limbo or, worse yet, hell, and is there consideration of where the child is located geographically. It is a lot easier to get baptized in Manhattan than in a remote village in Tibet. Those are questions that I, being a columnist and not a theologian, cannot hope to answer. I suspect the Vatican will appoint yet another commission with an appropriate Latin moniker to study the question and make appropriate recommendations to the Pope. The children in limbo as well those still on earth will eagerly await its conclusions.

Say hello to all the new babies, Dad. I hope it isn't too crowded up there.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The New "It"

Ever hear of the "It" girl? Google it yourself if you haven't.


My premise: There is a new web "it". It's a human connection over the internet. Hard to define, easy to recognize, and rare.

This lady has it. You may have seen her in the little "Take your mind off it." video to the left. Watch her sing a song or two and then check out her "it".



Update: As usual, I'm a bit behind. Catch up with Ysabella Brave - the true story - here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007



The Dow Is Crashing! A Story in Pictures by Mike Maloney


For your convenience, this article is written in three parts. You can skip down the page to any part by clicking these links
On October 4th 2006, the Dow broke its old high of 11,750 set back on January 14th 2000, and from then on all you heard from the financial press was "Dow sets a new, all time, record high"… at least that's all you heard until the correction on February 27th, 2007.

I just don't get it. How can anyone at this point in time (including the financial press) believe they are actually making gains being invested in general equities? On February 20th, the Dow hit its "brand new, all time, record high" of 12,795, and at the writing of this article hovers at 12,560, 6.9% above its 2000 high.

A 6.9% gain over the entire 7-year period… hasn't anyone heard of inflation? Don't investors know that if their portfolio doesn't outpace inflation they are actually losing ground?

The Dow is actually crashing, but if you have not yet educated yourself on the insidious ravages that inflation can have on your portfolio, you can't see it. This is a blind spot investors must be mindful of, and guard against, if they are to prosper.

Anytime that it looks like everything is going up, stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, and virtually every kind of investment there is, you have to stop and ask yourself, "why?" The only reason the Dow looks like it is going up is because the Fed has pumped so many more dollars into the currency supply, that all asset classes are rising.

Under these conditions, the only way to see where true value lies is to eliminate the dollar from the equation… you have to measure each asset class, not with the dollar, but against another asset class. continue reading with lots of graphs

No Exit




Published on Monday, April 30, 2007
by The San Francisco Chronicle

Why There Was No Exit Plan
by Dan Hamburg

There are people in Washington … who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they’re looking for 10, 20, 50 years in the future … the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region, and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that 10 years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq

former President Jimmy Carter, Feb. 3, 2006.


For all the talk about timetables and benchmarks, one might think that the United States will end the military occupation of Iraq within the lifetimes of the readers of this opinion editorial. Think again.

There is to be no withdrawal from Iraq, just as there has been no withdrawal from hundreds of places around the world that are outposts of the American empire. As UC San Diego professor emeritus Chalmers Johnson put it, “One of the reasons we had no exit plan from Iraq is that we didn’t intend to leave.”

The United States maintains 737 military bases in 130 countries across the globe. They exist for the purpose of defending the economic interests of the United States, what is euphemistically called “national security.” In order to secure favorable access to Iraq’s vast reserves of light crude, the United States is spending billions on the construction of at least five large permanent military bases throughout that country.

A new Iraq oil law, largely written by the Coalition Provisional Authority, is planned for ratification by June. This law cedes control of Iraq’s oil to western powers for 30 years . There is major opposition to the proposed law within Iraq, especially among the country’s five trade union federations that represent hundreds of thousands of oil workers. The United States is working hard to surmount this opposition by appealing directly to the al-Maliki government in Iraq.

The attack upon, and subsequent occupation of, Iraq can be seen as a direct result of the 2001 National Energy Policy Development Group (better known as vice president Cheney’s energy task force) that was comprised largely of oil and energy company executives. This task force — the proceedings of which have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of “executive privilege” — recommended that the U.S. government support initiatives in Middle Eastern countries “to open up areas of their energy sector to foreign investment.” As Antonio Juhasz, an analyst with Oil Change International wrote last month in the New York Times, “One invasion and a great deal of political engineering by the Bush administration later, this is exactly what the proposed Iraq oil law would achieve.”

The people of the United States have indicated, in the national election last November and in countless polls, that they no longer support the Bush administration’s war. The Scooter Libby trial revealed that top administration officials, including the vice president, “cherry-picked” and distorted intelligence in order to sell a “pre-emptive” war to a spooked public. The squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars, some billions of which, according to Seymour Hersh writing in the New Yorker, is being siphoned into “black-ops” programs being run out of Cheney’s office (a stunning redux of Iran-Contra carried out by many of the same actors), has also strained the patience and credulity of the American people.

Another betrayal is the “contracting out” of “war-related activities” to corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, Chemonics and Blackwater. Halliburton, Vice President Cheney’s previous employer, calls itself an “energy services company” but has tentacles reaching into nearly every aspect of the war (originally dubbed Operation Iraqi Liberation until some bright bulb among the Bushies realized that “OIL” might not be the best handle for this venture). Halliburton has also profited handsomely from no-bid government contracts awarded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the construction at the national embarrassment known as “Gitmo,” and most recently, from the fiasco at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, all this corruption, mayhem and death are good for some (or it wouldn’t go on).

The U.S. military budget, larger than the military budgets of the rest of the world’s nations combined, continues skyward, even without all the “supplementals” passed regularly by Congress to fight the “war on terror.”

The question we must ask as citizens is this: Is the United States a democratic republic or an empire? History demonstrates that it’s not possible to be both.

Dan Hamburg, a former U.S. representative, is executive director of Voice of the Environment.