Wednesday, October 05, 2011

When I was a kid, and now

When I was a kid, a Republican president proposed and got passed the Interstate Highway system. This was passed as a non-partisan issue, and has been the backbone of the rise of the modern United States.

Now, under a Democratic president, his tiny (by comparison) American Jobs bill can't even get a hearing.

Before I was born, a Democratic president decided that the long-postponed racial integration of the US Armed Forces would take place, whether his generals and the people of the United States agreed with it, or not. Simply because it was the right thing to do. And it worked.

Just this year, another Democratic president finally ended official discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers and sailors. While it seems to be a non-issue in the services, he's catching hell for it on the right-wing airwaves.

When I was a kid, a whole generation of young Americans were going to college, courtesy of the GI Bill. This was mostly men, but even so, American business was propelled ahead by the brightest and most-educated workforce ever. Even poor folks, however, were able to get to college if they really wanted to attend.

Now, we are burdening all but the richest and poorest with enormous debt to attend college. What the hell is wrong with us? The rest of the world has figured out how to do this better. So can we, if we want to.

When I was a kid, people didn't complain about their taxes. People knew that taxes paid for not just government, but also the armed forces, and the nation's infrastructure. They were proud to be able to contribute. The taxes on the rich were very high, and yet the US prospered and grew.

Now, the rich control most of the wealth and power in this country, and have the lowest tax rates in fifty years. Many corporations pay NO tax, using not only sleazy tax-dodges, but also off-shoring American jobs, impoverishing the country but still posting record profits. And now they are allowed, as "legal persons," to make unlimited political contributions. And our jobless rate hovers around 9%. The Republicans in Congress have almost all signed a pledge to NEVER raise taxes.

And the American Jobs bill still gets no hearing.

I grew up Republican, proud of the Party of Lincoln. President Lincoln kept the Union together, won the Civil War, which ended the horrible stain upon US honor, the agony of slavery. But I grew up to see Republicans vote against the Civil Rights Act, and oppose school desegregation.

I honored Teddy Roosevelt, who created the National Park System, forever protecting our most beautiful and pristine public lands. Now I see the Republicans try to sully the environment, yelling "drill baby drill!" My goodness, the Environmental Protection Agency was proposed and created by the Republican President Nixon! Now most of the Republican presidential candidates want to hobble or even disband it!

When the Republican Bob Dole was running for president, he proposed a near-universal healthcare plan, which was nearly identical to President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Yet NO Republicans supported or voted for it.

Republican President Ulysses S Grant established the Civil Service, to get graft out of government jobs. Now the Republicans are the ones attacking government employees, and trying to "privatize" as many government services as possible. What was different in 1872 and now? People have forgotten what graft is, and what it means. How many people know what Blackwater, Halliburton and Xie have done to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United States?

To be fair, Rupert Murdoch's FOX News and many years of one-sided (and dishonest) media pounding on the American public has had its effect. The Republican Party has responded by speaking up ONLY for the richest Americans. The Democrats have often retreated from support for the poor and middle class, minorities, children, as they lost power to the rich. But for the most part, they have done their part to protect the middle class. They have spoken up for health care for all, protection of the environment, repair of the US infrastructure, women's rights, education for all who want it.

But the money in politics is destroying us. I've signed the petition at and I hope it does some good. I worked for Pres. Obama and most of the local Democrats, and will do so again. But until we get the money our of the system, it will be much less than perfect. I've lobbied my local Congresspeople, and write and call all of them sometimes. But until we get the money out of politics, we aren't going to make the progress we really need to. I think the Occupy Wall Street movement shows that I'm not the only one who notices that something is wrong, and we need to get this turned around.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another Sad Anniversary

Just a few days ago, it was the third anniversary of Angel's death by suicide. Time has not eased our pain, although it is not so sharp and immediate. But as time goes on, I miss her more and more. There are more times when the family is all together, but we're missing her. The world is missing her strength, her smile, her laugh, her talent, her love.

We are all poorer for her loss. Just now I found a painful but wonderful page written by the mom of a son who committed suicide at age 21. Bruce took his life, as most people who commit suicide do, because the pain of living has become too great. He didn't realize that he could have found relief for that pain by sharing his heart with those who loved him. Instead, that pain has been magnified for those left behind, empty-handed. Bruce's mother Roz shared a poem that has helped her through the years, and I hope they will help any survivors of the pain of the suicide of a loved one.
A time will come when my life will cease.

But when that time comes I ask that you remember these things

Bury my body but don't bury my beliefs.

Bury my heart but don't bury my love.

Bury my eyes but not my vision.

Bury my feet but not the path of my life.

Bury my hands but don't bury my diligent efforts.

Bury my shoulders but not the concerns I carried.

Bury my voice but not my message.

Bury my mind but don't bury my dreams.

Bury me but don't bury my life.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults and my weaknesses'

but let my life continue on in you.

-by Ronald Rohr
From Remembering Bruce:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer! Not Official, but the Sun is Shining

And I'm back from Switzerland!

Today's best new thing is an old thing, TWENTY-FIVE YEARS-OLD, to be exact: Ferris Bueller's Day Off turns 25! How in the heck did that happen? In any case, the only thing that's dated is the hair and clothes, which add to the humor. What a great daydream!

Finally, someone perfectly sums up my thinking on ripped jeans: Other funny stuff there, too.

Excellent talk (about one hour) about Getting over embarrassment in order to get things done:

Listen to some fun music from the Diablo Swing Orchestra:

Very cool little film about capturing a swarm of bees, by Klaas Freitag (dragotin):

Gorgeous aurora photos/films:

Fun beer commercial:

Authors@Google: Tina Fey: (almost an hour).

Basic travel info on Switzerland, from which I've just returned:

Cool youtube: Time Lapse Sky Shows Earth Rotating Instead of Stars:

Check out the Vibram Five Fingers in action: I want some!

Cool song, Norwegian? maybe. Balstyrko - Jagten Paa Noget:

One of the strangest covers of Seven Nation Army I've seen, by Veto & Lucy Love:

Silly but fun. I remember playing this with the kids. The da Vinci Robot Plays "Operation" Board Game:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

End of Spring Links

I know I just did one, but a fresh start is good, too! Plus I want to clean up my tabs again before taking off for Switzerland

Not sure if a fan video has ever *taught* me, but this one did: The Fibonacci in Lateralus (Tool)

GREAT Add-on to FireFox, which preserves all your tabs, but does NOT reload them until you click on them. Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much faster my computer feels now! Thanks for this one, Himanshu. I'm using the beta version, by the way.

Wayne Besen explains Why Gay Cultural Progress Is Meeting Stiff Political Resistance:

On the other side, D. Ruth Bavosett calls for a different kind of activism: You are awesome, Ruth!

Can't beat Jon Stewart! Daily Show: The Global War in Your Pants - Jon and the correspondents offer a public service message to the kids about a third option to sex or abstinence. "Boys have a God stick, and girls have a shame cave." Exactly the issue, Jon.

Joe Brockmeier asks, Does Amazon "owe" open source? Maybe a little: I think that we all make choices about ideas and companies we choose to support. Let's consider the kind of a world we want, rather than looking for the cheapest price all the time. I'm willing to pay more for value, and part of value is how companies treat people, and how they treat the Earth.


*Excellent* article about the Tragedy of Sarah Palin. I remember being encouraged when I heard that John McCain had chosen her as his running mate. She had been a smart, popular Governor, and I thought maybe he was returning to his "maverick" roots, which made him one of my favorite Republicans. Instead -- horrors. I really think she could have had a wonderful effect on the United States, instead of the really negative influence she has become. Truly a tragedy.

So funny! Love The Onion:

This is so amazing! The mom or dad who created this marble run - genius!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

This Week in Links - April and May

Exciting to do this! This was supposed to be weekly, but time slid away from me. But there are so many tabs open FF is hardly working, so it's TIME.

Amazing article, highly recommended: 150 Years After Fort Sumter: Why We're Still Fighting the Civil War:,8599,2063679-1,00.html. 150 years later, it is high time to look back and learn the lessons of that horrible war, and the scourge of slavery which stained this country for so long. The racism which remains shows that we have NOT owned up to that full history, but have continued to ignore all the causes. We nearly lost our Union then, yet talk of secession still simmers now.

OMG, want: Freaking all-flash site, but that coffee-maker looks amazing!

Interesting old slideshow (2004), history of the beginning of KDE:

If ever I do write a thesis, this might come in handy!

Lots of cool videos of ants in action:

Amazing track by Johnny Cash. If only the radio preacher and all his suckered believers had listened to this, instead of to the radio: The Man Comes Around.

Yay, I had lost this link until someone posted it! Great online comic:

For those who are having Flash problems recently in Linux, this is supposed to help: What helped ME in Natty was removing and purging flashplugin-nonfree, then reinstalling flashplugin-installer.

Best reply to the idiots in the Tennessee Legislature who recently passed a bill banning the use of the word "gay" or "homosexual" by teachers in school: That is SO Takei!

A series of links I've found concerning my dead mic and headphone jack:,,,,

The great Bill Withers, Ain't No Sunshine While She's Gone:

John McCain regains his integrity? A bit late, but better late than never:

The cost of cowardice. I used to support Sojourners, but they have let me down, they have let gay Christians down, and in doing so, lost their integrity and value:

Nice explanation of Kubuntu repositories:

Eric Clapton, Tears in Heaven, live:

Cool project! Use the idle time on your computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) to cure diseases, study global warming, discover pulsars, and do many other types of scientific research. It's safe, secure, and easy: Thanks for the link, Himanshu.

Possible use for Alsachat?,

Fun link - my first computer! The Coleco ADAM:

Fascinating discussion of How Robber Barons hijacked the "Victorian Internet:

Discussion on reddit about how teams best manage artwork:

Quite funny, and a bit mind-bending for Americans, maybe:

Interesting discussion of religion and atheism (anti-religion?):

Obviously I like *this link, since I tried to raise my kids this way: Let Kids Play With Fire, and Other Rules for Good Parenting.

God Help The Girl
is a story written by Stuart Murdoch, which is in the process of being turned into a film, and which has already yielded a self-titled album, an EP (‘Stills’) and a handful of live shows.

So cute! Animals with Stuffed Animals. And

Important to remember: Also, after reading a biography of Marie Curie when I was young, I admired her so much. But I didn't want to BE her! The reason we are here on Earth, is to be our Selves, as much as possible. In my opinion.

Bizarre, and so opposite from the xkcd message, is: This might cheer you up, though: Clickety-click!

Interesting article about Nokia and open source.

World IPv6 Day. Get ready, people! Unlike the End of the World, this is actually happening.

Open Source Sewing
? Yeah, including this Teddy Pig pattern.

Why are there so many engineers in India? Interesting article about higher education in India, some of which is true in China too.

I had a blog with links about helpful travel sites, but I think it's way outdated. Easier to link to Hypatia's blog:

This sucks, but doesn't surprise me: It would discourage me, but I just got a nice card from Sen. Fayn as a response to an email I sent him. And he's a Republican. One of the good guys.

No idea if this works, is practical, etc. But it is interesting: Android, Chrome OS, and Ubuntu United in One Platform: A new option from Always Innovating adds a fourth Linux-based operating system for a quad-boot alternative. I don't have a Beagle board, but who knows the future?

Spreadsheet with Google Summer of Code students, and their distribution around the world:

If you didn't see it, President Obama at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner - now is as good a time as any!

From NPR: Size Matters: The Hidden Mathematics of Life.

That's quite enough, don't you think? I do too. More later, of course!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OK, New Plan

This blog has gone unused long enough. I looked into using Posterous, but this is already a Link Blog, so I'm going to use it that way! I'll collect links all week, then post them once.

Today, I'll simply clean out my tabs in Firefox.

Google Voice: My number is (206) 801-0165.

The Doctor [Who] is a Time-Lord:

The real hero of Colloden, Lord George Murray:, according to Hark, A Vagrant is always worth your time!

Extreme cuteness:

Riz Khan: Status anxiety in the age of austerity:

10 Charts About Sex:

Rick Steves' Europe: Budapest:,cFull%20Episodes,1,0

This cat named Potter could be Alice' twin:

Aaron Asiego, building brand together:

Word cloud illustrating which words are used most often in ads targeting boys (top) versus words used most often in ads targeting girls. Quite shocking:

So funny I cried with laughter:

The Story of Linux: Commemorating 20 Years of the Linux Operating System:

Airfare searches:,

OpenHatch just never stops with creative ways to make us better!,

Capturing SIGCSE conversation: Computer science professors discuss teaching open source:

MultiSystem – Create a MultiBoot USB from Linux (need to DO THIS):

Richard Feynman: Magnets and Why Questions:

Wonderful photos, mostly of NYC:

Sooooo many links possible here! Absolutely fabulous sex site for women.

Erik's show, Attention All Pickpockets:

The Vaselines on Sound Opinions:,

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Lyric for One Gone

Reading the book Song, about songwriting, one of the writers ends his interview with "don't say 'cuts like a knife.'* This morning I awoke with the beginning of a song, or a poem.

Lyric for one gone

I have a ginsu that cuts like a knife;
I have a rock that's as hard as stone.
But I no longer have you, and the empty place
   can't be described.

Darling, why did you leave me?
Why did you leave us?
Why are you gone, leaving only
   this emptiness behind?

I look at old pictures, at smiling faces, and I cry.
We could have had more pictures, more smiling faces.

* Song : the world's best songwriters on creating the music that moves us; Ed: J. Douglas Waterman, page 54, quoting Henry Paul.