Election Hindsight 2016

from my Facebook post …

Hindsight is always a cheap currency, but I think I should have seen this coming. It came to me while packing boxes of surplus household goods for donation to charity; go figure.

The new American “REDS” – populism, authoritarianism, threats to the established Constitution, promises of arrests and purges, and pogroms against minorities – what’s not to like here? Republicans will rush to assure us that nothing of the kind is going to happen, and let’s hope they’re right. But it’s a resurgent American phenomenon, which we have not seen since the McCarthy era. It bears watching, with sharp hawk eyes, by those of us on the left and right who still care what happens. Give us strength to get through this.



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“Around the corner” in the Mideast?

We had a Facebook discussion yesterday on the mistakes of 9/11, who “started it,” and whether it’s going to go on forever. Here was my prognosis:

I think, in some very unpredictable future, the Mideastern people themselves will get sick and tired of being pushed around, raped, murdered, incinerated and told what to do on pain of death by every warlord in the region (and by some foreign powers). At that time, they will, somehow, have to forge a better way that works for everyone instead of dividing and fighting. I call that “democracy” but they can call it anything they want. Democracy cannot be imposed, forced, rushed, or peddled like snake oil. It has to be chosen freely, and that is one thing no foreign power can do for a people. They have to do it themselves.

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What Employee Attitudes Reveal About Shopping Experience


from my Facebook post March 31, 2016

I have worked, briefly, at establishments where morale is low, and you can see it in the faces, slow movements and attitudes of the employees. Once you work in the same conditions yourself, you’ll never denigrate the employee. I blame the workplace, and the buck stops at the employer. I worked retail for 11 years. By just walking into a store and observing, I can be prepared to get no better treatment than the employees I see by just looking around. We are not just getting what the marketplace supports with bare-subsistence wages, we are also getting the employer’s attitude toward running its shop. I take that as nature’s way of telling me to shop elsewhere.

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“Perfect In Every Way”

We hear these politicians whining “Obama’s trying to change America.” Tell us then, would this suggest America is already perfect in every way? If there’s any room for improvement however small, do they have a proposal for that? If they do, isn’t that ‘trying to change America?” More to the point, isn’t this why we elect them in the first place – to do their jobs?

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Bird Feeder

BIRD FEEDER: Heavy rains coming. Took the feeder off the top of the porch table and put it underneath, providing a “roof” to keep the feeder and seed dry. The little birds figured it out in a couple of hours. The big birds never figured out how to get seed out of the little feeder slots, but the little birds are messy eaters, so the big birds got fat on the spillage. Today, I watched a puzzled big bird, perched on the rim of the bottom tray that holds the spilled seed. He was staring right at the relocated feeder. He couldn’t figure out what had happened. “DUUHHH, where did the food go, George, where did it go?”

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“The Interview” and Hacking of Sony

We’re getting a little tired of reading harebrained opinions by pundits and experts about Sony’s decision to yank its movie “The Interview” after Sony was hacked, apparently by the petulant North Korean regime.

1) It’s Sony’s movie. There is no “right to be shown a movie.”

2) By all accounts this was a B-grade comedy with very little artistry or other redeeming merit. There are very few right-to-free-speech issues here.

3) The movie is Sony property and Sony’s decision to run it or not, not the media’s, and not the so-called cybersecurity experts’.

4) If Sony decided to run the movie anyway, and even one of 18,000+ theater outlets had been victimized by a terrorism bombing attack, the media and the public wouldn’t be screaming “capitulation,” they’d be screaming for Sony’s head on a platter for risking public safety by inviting a terrorist response.

5) The only appropriate response to North Korea is beyond Sony’s expertise, and hopefully Anonymous is working on that now.

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Taking Back the ‘Redskins’ label

Patent office cancels Redskins trademarks

The U.S. Patent Office has canceled trademarks belonging to the Redskins football team, saying they are offensive to Native Americans.

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'”

Might we fancy ‘Redskin’ as a neutral or even positive label just because we always have? Think about history. We can recall usage as defamatory pejoratives, in funny popular songs like “Please Mr. Custer,” as stereotyping generalization, and as an epithet. We can’t recall one case where a speaker used the word in high praise and tribute. In America, we’ve already “taken back” the N word, G word, Q word and many others. I say, time for Native Americans to “take back” the R word.

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Good show, America, what’s happening to us?

Recommended reading, from Bill Moyers:

Study: Politically Engaged Liberals and Conservatives Don’t Want to Be Neighbors

Me: Well now, there we have it, don’t we?

We invite our neighbors belonging to the “other” Party over for drinks and BBQ, and we smile sweetly and thank them ever SO much for coming, just as if they were “real” human beings. And then we trot down to the polls and vote to expropriate their property, curb their speech, deny them civil rights and liberties, jail them on trumped-up charges in Soviet-style courts, steal their privacy, and then we scratch our heads and wonder why we all demonize each other. Good show, America, what’s happening to us?

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Driverless Cars: Who Gets the Ticket?

Slashdot reports: “Driverless Cars Could Cripple Law Enforcement Budgets.” If a car can drive itself 700,000 miles without a ticket, some fear this lucrative government revenue source could dry up. But, if a car DOES get a ticket. who should pay it? Some say the human operator should pay it. Google says the company that made the car should pay it, since automated systems should not fail.

Nonsense. Ask the commanders and crew of the Apollo missions. My reply:

Google is wrong. In matters of collision avoidance, safe navigation and busting regulations, one human is always designated as captain of the ship, pilot in command, or driver of the car. He or she is responsible for monitoring even the most highly automated systems, and for overriding them if necessary. Saying the company manufacturing the vehicle should get the speeding ticket is like saying Smith and Wesson should do the time in homicide convictions.


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McCain on Ukraine

I caught Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) on the Charlie Rose show today. As an ex-military man, McCain seems to understand Comrade Putin’s designs on Crimea quite well enough. On the domestic front, though, he joins the U.S. right-wing hue and cry that the Obama Administration is just sitting on its hands doing nothing, whereas every good ex-military officer know that tough retaliatory action is the only thing Putin understands.

Like so many in our minority party, McCain sees things through a special filter. This filter passes all the colors of the spectrum except Blue. It also picks up artifacts in the spectrum that won’t show in any bandpass filter, because they don’t exist.

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Putin and Crimea

If Putin had just waited, his Soviet Union probably could have gotten Crimea back without firing a shot. From Wikipedia:

The Cimmerians, Bulgars, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Khazars, the state of Kievan Rus’, Byzantine Greeks, Kipchaks, Ottoman Turks, Golden Horde Tatars and the Mongols each controlled Crimea in its earlier history. In the 13th century, it was partly controlled by the Venetians and by the Genoese; they were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire in the 15th to 18th centuries, the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th centuries, Germany during World War II and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and later the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, within the Soviet Union during the rest of the 20th century until Crimea became part of independent Ukraine with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Zimmerman Trial

“Stand your ground” means if someone wets their pants, literally or figuratively, someone else can end up dead. This trial was wrong on so many different levels. “Different mindset down there” is an understatement. This could have political ramifications for a generation, and should.

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Something Old and Something New

I’m declaring our site conversion to WestHost 4.0 to be officially over. I’ve pretty much run out of known bugs to fix and enhancements to older programs.

I was looking for a certain photo in my graphics collection and I found this screen shot instead, from 2002:


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nature.com: Conservatives Into Liberals?

In “Magic trick transforms conservatives into liberals,” Brian Owens in Nature magazine reviews a diabolical Swedish study that suggests many of us aren’t as politically hidebound as our friends in the opposite political party are so apt to charge. The study showed survey respondents could be tricked into changing conservative positions into liberal ones, and vice-versa.

On the other hand, what I also get out of this is, if we can be that manipulable,  many of us might not always have the foggiest why we hold the political beliefs we do, despite what we may think.


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Why Undecided Youth Should Vote Democratic in 2012

Maybe you’re thinking neither political party has a handle on the economy. Maybe you’re mad at Team Obama because he couldn’t reach out across a bipartisan aisle like he thought he could. Maybe you’re thinking you won’t even vote in the 2012 election.

Well, the GOP’s “social conservative” plank should be the deal breaker for you.

If you’re from a poor or middle income family, or you’re an ethnic or cultural minority, or a woman, or gay, you’re a target. If your civil rights are eroded or actually taken away by legislative fiat, you lose full civil equality. You lose your standing as a fully equal citizen to debate and argue the national issues, including both the economy, and your own right to have a fully enfranchised say in it.

No matter who you are, or what your background and upbringing was, maybe you just think it’s time we work together to put the “all” back in “all men are created equal.”

“Social conservatism” is, among other things, a cancerous code word for anti-gay, anti-women, anti-minority, anti-Islam and even anti-Semite.

Most Republicans don’t fit that description, and many are as nice as any other folks you’d hope to meet. Right now, though, if you vote Republican, you’re stuck with the “social conservatism” baggage a cult minority has imposed on the much bigger GOP.

As Chris Rock said, “If you vote against Obama because he can’t get anything done, it’s kind of like saying ‘This guy can’t cure cancer. I’m gonna vote for cancer.”

You can register for any political party you want, but vote for Obama so we can get on with the business of fixing our country.


If you liked this message, please feel free to email it to your friends, or post it to Facebook or other social media. Alex Forbes Sept 2012.

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Ship’s Clock!

I’m an Army vet, but I grew up with the sound of a big Chelsea ship’s clock in an elegant solid copper casting. I learned the hour and half-hour bells. Navy folks know these in their sleep. I can’t afford a real Chelsea, but I can afford the software, ’cause it’s free. This isn’t your typical tinny Sears “chime,” but an authentic ship’s bell sound. You can set it to “sleep” silently overnight. I’ve had a PC version for years, but found it for Mac on SourceForge, a developer’s site I trust. Mac or PC: http://sourceforge.net/projects/shipsclock/

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On Honoring the Opinion of Others

It is a fine thing to honor the opinion of friends with whom we disagree, and it is just and proper to recognize and defend the right of others of any walk of life to disagree with us.

But, no one has a moral right to call for the oppression or destruction of others whose greatest offense may be to try to live their own lives in peace. Expressing opinion must always be a protected right, but advocacy for the legal disenfranchisement of others is never an opinion — it is a call to force in disguise.

When we encounter such attacks on the edifice of rights, either individually or through the vote, it is always wrong to remain silent. It’s moral and spiritual treason to acquiesce to prejudice and oppression by pretending it to be mere ‘opinion.’

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More on Science Denial

My first comment post on the Huffington editorial From a Boy Who Loved NASA: How 49 Heroes Lost the Right Stuff and Sullied Their Names by Shawn Otto:

Thanks, Shawn Otto, for an exceptionally well written, interesting and well documented article. I know many cases where science denial is politically motivated, but many more where folks who are not fundamentally interested in science developments, and don’t follow science news, are genuinely confused about who to believe. For former NASA astronauts to pander to the political spin is absolutely shameful. We can debate how fast the ice sheets are melting, how high the oceans will rise, what species will be at risk first, how and where human food and water resources will be impacted, and what parts of the world may become uninhabitable first, but not the direction and implication of those trends. To an unknown extent, our planet is self-healing, but to gamble on inexhaustibility is suicidal.”

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On Science Denial

My comment on an editorial about the astronauts who came out against climate change:

huffingtonpost entry
From a Boy Who Loved NASA: How 49 Heroes Lost the Right Stuff and Sullied Their Names
Commented Apr 13, 2012 at 13:42:54 in Green

Even more pointedly, Earth (the planet) isn’t registered to vote, doesn’t care, isn’t listening to the debate, and just keeps doing her own thing based on chemical and thermodynamic equilibriums we “choose” to ignore.”

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“Repairing the Social Safety Net”

The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki, in “Call That A Budget?” commenting on the part of Paul Ryan’s draconian Tea Party budget proposal ingenuously called “Repairing the Social Safety Net” :

But when Ryan explains that he’s doing things like cutting Medicaid in order to help “the less fortunate get back on their feet” one hears echoes of Judge Smails, in “Caddyshack,” explaining that he sentenced young criminals to death because “I felt I owed it to them.”

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2012/04/09/120409ta_talk_surowiecki#ixzz1quFHGwGJ

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Pink Slime

No matter how medically safe “pink slime” may be, it’s disgusting. The consumer, not the meat processor plant, must be the final judge of what’s food and what’s chemically processed byproduct. The fact that “pink slime” has been quietly pushed to market without prominent WARNING! notices is even more disgusting.

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Affordable Health Care

It’s time to rethink the whole individual mandate business. I still think conservative objections based on a distinction between taxation and the individual mandate were self-serving, convenient and artificial. Still, the codeword “individual mandate” set off alarm bells for me from the very beginning. The Supreme Court, playing Solomon splitting the baby, will be the last straw in a series of crippling setbacks for Affordable Health Care.

The Administration’s original proposal at least seemed comprehensible and containable. Compromise, lobbying and bill riders spawned a three-headed monster, mostly favoring the health care lobby at the expense of the individual citizen. It’s time to formally dump what’s left of “Obamacare” and start over.

Of single-payer health care (medical care funded from a single insurance pool), Forbes Magazine said,”The constitutionality of single payer is basically uncontroversial (Medicare is single payer health care) and the politics of it would look a lot more appealing to moderates than they did before.”

Health care costs have hit 20% of US GDP and for this we’re getting third-world care. Let the debate for a serious single-payer begin.

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