Saturday, July 23, 2005

Google Earth and Moon

The up-to-date version of this post will be maintained at:

Fun, and practical! The latest from Google is Google Moon, which debuted on the 30th anniversary of "one giant step for mankind." Be sure to go to full magnification!

Next, a program you must download from Google (9MB, free):; Google Earth.

Available is a tool where you can overlay images on top of satellite photos. Try importing a plat map image on top of a satellite photo of the area where your ancestors lived, and you will be looking at a photographic map of your ancestors' property! Adjust the size, orientation, and the transparency level of the imported image, so you can match up the roads, rivers, or other landmarks of the satellite image to your transparency. Drag to toggle between the map and the satellite image. This idea is from an Ancestry Quick Tip by Scott Aaron. Thanks, Scott!

For $20, you can get Google Earth Plus, which allows you to integrate GPS information, and print higher-res maps.

On Eastman's I saw a link to a blog about using Google Earth for genealogy; and in particular, "Creating a Family History Tour" with GE. Start here:

What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists...and it becomes available only when you are in that state of mind in which you know exactly what you want...and are fully determined not to quit until you get it. - Alexander Graham Bell

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Latest Political Mess in Washington DC

President Bush's administration is under fire from both his own party and the Democrats because of his apparent shielding of Carl Rove who evidently conspired to commit TREASON. So instead of choosing a moderate woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court bench, he chooses a right-wing ideologue! Thus he guarantees that TREASON will be moved off the front page, since the national press can't seem to focus on more than one thing at a time -- if they can focus at all.

The latest from
Oppose John Roberts' Supreme Court Nomination

In the past weeks, Republicans and Democrats have called on President Bush to nominate a moderate for the Supreme Court –- someone who would honor the legacy of independent Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. But last night, President Bush nominated Judge John Roberts, a far-right lawyer and corporate lobbyist, to fill her post on the Supreme Court.

We’ve got to stop Roberts. He opposed clean air rules and worked to help coal companies strip-mine mountaintops. He worked with Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr), and tried to keep Congress from defending the Voting Rights Act. He wrote that Roe v. Wade should be “overruled,” and as a lawyer argued (and won) the case that stopped some doctors from even discussing abortion.

Join me in signing MoveOn’s petition to let our Senators know we expect them to oppose John Roberts right now at:

I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen. - Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, July 18, 2005

Scotch, Scots, or Scottish?

Oxford English Dictionary's commentary on Scotch (as short form of Scottish) and Scots entries; the etymology portion of Scotch:
Contracted var. of SCOTTISH.

The three forms of the adj., Scotch, Scottish, Scots, are still current, with some difference in use, which, however, is somewhat unsettled. Down to the middle of the 16th c. the only form used in southern English was Scottish; but in the dialect of Scotland (and in that of the north of England in the 14th and 15th c.) the form was Scottis (cf. Inglis = English), subsequently contracted to Scots. So far as our quotations show, the contraction of Scottish into Scotch is not recorded before 1570 (in the compound Scotchman), though the colloquial pronunciation which it represents may well be much older; instances of Scotch cap, Scotch jig occur in 1591-99, but the adj. did not become common in literature until the second half of the 17th c. From that time until the 19th c. Scotch has been the prevailing form in England, though Scottish has always been in use as a more formal synonym. In Scotland, the authors who wrote in dialect (down to Ramsay and Fergusson early in the 18th c.) used Scots, while those who anglicized adopted the form Scottish. But before the end of the 18th c. Scotch had been adopted into the northern vernacular; it is used regularly by Burns, and subsequently by Scott; still later, it appears even in official language in the title of the 'Scotch Education Office.' Since the mid 19th c. there has been in Scotland a growing tendency to discard this form altogether, Scottish, or less frequently Scots, being substituted. At the beginning of the 20th c., while in England Scotch was the ordinary colloquial word, the literary usage prefered Scottish in applications relating to the nation or the country at large or its institutions or characteristics. Thus it was usual to speak of 'Scottish literature,' 'Scottish history,' 'the Scottish character,' 'a Scottish lawyer,' 'the Scottish border.' On the other hand, it would have sounded affected to say 'a Scottish girl,' 'a Scottish gardener.' Although 'the Scottish dialect' is now the usual designation, it is seldom that Scottish is used as a n. instead of Scotch. Recent usage favours Scots in 'Scots law,' and it is now almost universal in historical references to money, as 'a pound Scots.'

In the 20th c. the word Scotch has been falling into disuse in England as well as in Scotland, out of deference to the Scotsman's supposed dislike of it; except for certain fixed collocations, (such as 'Scotch mist,' 'Scotch whisky') Scottish (less frequently Scots) is now the usual adjective, and to designate the inhabitants of Scotland the pl. n. Scots is preferred (see Gowers/Fowler Mod. Eng. Usage (1965)).
Thanks to James for posting this on the APG list.

Related link - Scotch-Irish Central:

Toleration is the greatest gift of mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. - Helen Keller

Monday, July 11, 2005

Kids Helping Kids

One of the major developments in the Twentieth Century was the non-religious mutual support and change movement, perhaps led by Alcoholics Anonymous. La Leche League began in a similar fashion, with moms who were having difficulty breast-feeding their babies meeting up at a picnic, and deciding to continue meeting and helping one another. In the early days of the modern women's movement, consciousness-raising groups started the same way, and eventually led to the establishment of women's health clinics, rape relief, abused women's shelters, Ms. Magazine and other fixtures of modern life.

So I'm glad to see young gay kids helping one another. Adolescence is difficult for most people, and our culture makes it even harder for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transexual youngsters. Look at The Mail Crew: GREAT site. Read the "How It Started" section.

Tiga found this group -- Thanks, Tiga! CAFETY.ORG, Care Not Coercion - Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth (CAFETY) is a volunteer youth-run effort, in support of protection for the human rights of youth in punitive behavior modification boot camps, wilderness programs, and 'therapeutic' boarding schools.

Oasis magazine online -- what a great place! Lots of great teen writers:

Another great site - SEX, ETC. by teens, for teens:

Here is a letter that a boy named Justin wrote to his friend, who was struggling with his sexuality: Generous of him to share with anyone else who is also struggling.

Here is the comic FreeZ, written by a young person, about the plight of another teen: This is one of a large number of projects on MySpace started by teens. Here are some I'm familiar with:
Free Z, a group started in dedication to Zach, a young man who was currently being held against his will and being forced to suffer acts of child abuse in the name of religion, started by Ben, age 16. This group has over 4000 members, and is very active, and creative! It has now expanded its reach to include all teens held against their will in these "ex-gay" camps.

Take Action to Legalize Gay Marriage, started by Melly, age 19.

Another, Support Gay Marriages! has almost 22,000 members, and was established by yoko, age 17!

Youth Guardian Services - created by 19 year-old Jason Hungerford who wanted to create a space for teens and young adults only. Monitored email lists for specific age groups; sexually explicit conversations are discouraged.

The Gay Youth Corner is managed by a 17-year-old student in the UK. He describes it as "an international resource, community, profile, and chat website for young gay, bisexual and lesbian people. Working to encourage gay youth to network and gay youth websites to propagate widely and wisely."

Young Gay America, while not started by teens, was created and is run by young people, for teens. They now publish YGA Magazine, too.

GayBoySupport is a site in The Netherlands for gay teen guys. Well-written, complete, and funny. GayGirlSupport is under construction.

Gay-Straight Alliances, while supported by GLSEN and having teacher-advisors, are started and run by teens, for teens. How To Start a GSA:

All big things in this world are done by people who are naive and have an idea that is obviously impossible. - Frank Richards

Is there a Tomorrow?

One thing that has always puzzled me, even when I was a fundy myself, was how my fellow Christians could ignore the Biblical injunction to be stewards of the Earth. Bill Moyers, who has recently become controversial because of attacks on him by the Right, has one answer, in a article published in The Star Tribune 30 Jan 2005. It was adapted from an article on Alternet. Thanks to Joan for sending it to me. Here are some excerpts:

There is no Tomorrow

One of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe,to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.

Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. ...

Remember James Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of the interior? ...James Watt told the U.S. Congress that protecting natural resources was unimportant in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. In public testimony he said, "after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back."... James Watt was serious.
[huge chunk removed]

So what does this mean for public policy and the environment? Go to Grist to read a remarkable work of reporting by the journalist Glenn Scherer -The Road to Environmental Apocalypse. Read it and you will see how millions of Christian fundamentalists may believe that environmental destruction is not only to be disregarded but actually welcomed - even hastened - as a sign of the coming apocalypse.... (

Forty-five senators and 186 members of the 108th Congress earned 80 to 100 percent approval ratings from the three most influential Christian right advocacy groups. They include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Assistant Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Conference Chair Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Policy Chair Jon Kyl of Arizona, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Whip Roy Blunt. ... Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia....

And why not? There's a constituency for it. A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"

...No wonder Karl Rove goes around the White House whistling that militant hymn, "Onward Christian Soldiers." He turned out millions of the foot soldiers on Nov. 2, including many who have made the apocalypse a powerful driving force in modern American politics.

[enormous snip]...I read all this and look up at the pictures on my desk, next to the computer - pictures of my grandchildren. I see the future looking back at me from those photographs and I say, "Father, forgive us, for we know not what we do." And then I am stopped short by the thought: "That's not right. We do know what we are doing. We are stealing their future. Betraying their trust. Despoiling their world."

....The news can be the truth that sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma - the science of the heart...the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.

Believe me, it does.

Bill Moyers was host until recently of the weekly public affairs series "NOW with Bill Moyers" on PBS. This article is adapted from AlterNet, where it first appeared. The text is taken from Moyers' remarks upon receiving the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. [This article has been drastically cut. Please see the original for supporting factual material. I have also added emphasis not in the original. -v]

Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. It is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryant, 1860-1925

Sunday, July 10, 2005


As you know, our country is about to engage in a very high-stakes Supreme Court Justice nomination and confirmation process.

You and I have so much at stake in this process. In fact, there is no more important decision for protecting the rights and freedoms of every American than choosing a Supreme Court Justice. Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life and they have the last word on our Constitutional rights. Their decisions affect us all.

That's why I joined the Human Rights Campaign's Supreme Court campaign, Team Supreme. Team Supreme is a group of hundreds of thousands of people who are committed to protecting and advancing individual rights and freedoms during the Supreme Court Justice nomination process. Please, join Team Supreme. It will only takea moment. Click here:

When you join Team Supreme, you will get:

:: an e-mail the hour after a nominee is announced with our initial reaction
:: an e-mail three hours after a nominee is announced with our analysis of his/her record on GLBT equality
:: action steps to tell you how to make a difference
:: a special invitation to an online chat with HRC President Joe Solmonese

Why Team Supreme?
From the constitutionality of hate crimes laws to the future course of marriage rights in our country, the Supreme Court will have a profound impact on the lives of every GLBT American in the years ahead. And we know that our ultra-conservative opponents are forming a "team" of their own. They are uniting behind one message: that President Bush fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a Justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- Justices whose ideals and decisions represent the most discriminatory, extreme views in our country today.

Their "team" includes people like Rev. Lou Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, and the American Family Association's James Dobson -- and it includes the millions of members that their groups represent.

Our team needs YOU -- you, and everyone you know who cares about GLBT equality. Please, join Team Supreme. Click here to be a part of this historical time, and a part of Team Supreme:

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before beginning to improve the world. - Anne Frank