Sunday, October 30, 2005

Word Verification - Please Read

To everyone -

I just took the step of turning on word verification for comments. This means that if you want to leave a comment, you will have to type in the characters you'll be presented with. This is to stop spam comments. It is in no way meant to discourage any real, honest comments; I fully encourage - and value those!

It's a shame that spammers always want to spoil things.

Happy Birthday, John Adams!

The Birthday Boy

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Today is the day to wish a happy birthday to John Adams - yes our second President! I never thought too much of him until the Adams Chronicles came on tv. I so enjoyed that mini-series and found out what a great person he was. Although he certainly wasn't a very good president (sorry...), he had lots of good sense and integrity, was anti-slavery,wasn't afraid to say what he thought, and was quite a liberated guy for the times!

Following the series, I fairly DEMANDED that my parents take me to see where he lived. So that summer we went to Quincy, MA. We visited the museum; went briefly by his birthplace and the house he moved into when he married Abigail - where son John Quincy was born. We took a tour of the main house. That was incredible - to actually see where they lived and all those family heirlooms. Most impressive was probably the library. That was a separate building lined wall to wall, floor to ceiling - three books deep. We also saw where he, Abigail, John Quincy and his wife Louisa were buried. This is in the basement of United First Parish Church in Quincy. I was actually able to touch the marble enclosing their coffins.

John Adams was a fairly quotable guy. To commemorate his day, here are some of my favorites:
First, three we should heed today:

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."

"Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence".

"Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak."

Another one to think about:
"Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and choice and power."

And here's one I wish our Supreme Court had believed:
"Property is surely a right of mankind as real as liberty."

Being an educator, I find his views on education stimulating:

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people."

"There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain."

Finally, some good advice for all of us:

"Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order."

Happy Birthday to you, John Adams; hopefully somehow in cosmology you're getting these vibes!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Vote of Shame

By now, most of you have probably heard that the U. S. House Agriculture Committee approved budget cuts that would cut food stamps entirely from around 300,000 people and cut school lunches and breakfasts for approximately 40,000 children. This comes as it was reported that the people who cannot afford enough food rose - to 38.2 million in 2004! Read about this shameful vote here and you can also read more details of the proposal at this site.

I ask, how in good conscience can these supposed representatives of the people vote to take food from those who need it so much? I ask, how did it get to this point? How did so many of us slip into poverty? How are we letting our representatives get away with cutting programs to aid them, yet vote tax cuts for the wealthy and tax breaks for corporations? I ask, why aren't we outraged?

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask that you get outraged. Find out where your representative stands on this issue. Let him or her know that you favor restoring these budget cuts that would hurt the most vulnerable among us. Don't stop there, but please spread word about this to as many people as you can. We need to put as much pressure on the House to restore these particular cuts as possible.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why are we even debating this?

How can anyone believe that it is somehow acceptable to torture in the name of our country? How can anyone think that we, as a supposedly civilized society, should do anything but condemn its use by any of our forces or agents?

Still, there is pressure from the White House and from the Vice-President to weaken language (by excluding overseas clandestine forces not under the Pentagon) in the defense bill, now in negotiations to reconcile differences in the Senate and House versions. The Senate version contains language from Sen. John McCain which would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U. S. government custody no matter where held.

How can we even pretend to lead the world toward freedom and democracy if we don't set the standard for civilized treatment of prisoners? How can we ignore international bans on such practices? How can we condemn such behaviors in other countries and not take steps to make sure that the abuses of Abu Gharib prison are never repeated by American forces or agents?

I urge everyone to contact their Senators and Representatives and urge them to support Sen. McCain's language and to vote against any weakening of it. In particular, you may wish to contact Sen. Stevens of Alaska and Rep. Young of Florida who are leading the negotiations.

Saturday, October 1, 2005

William Bennett

Will someone please tell William Bennett that this is the 21st Century, not the 19th. What he said was beyond reprehensible (if by some chance you have not heard about it, go here). What he was saying is that he equates blackness with criminality. What an affront to the law abiding, good citizens of every ethnicity. I'm truly angered and saddened that people still have such racist attitudes in their hearts.

What Mr. Bennett fails to understand is that for America to truly progress, we must stand as one people. We must support each other, mentor those who need it, and promote economic policies which help the middle, working and underclasses. We need to somehow stop fostering a culture of violence and to teach better ways of resolving conflicts - both in our entertainment (which many researchers do feel has an effect on our young people) and in our communities. We need to affirm that "American" refers to all of us and that we all have a stake in solving these problems.

Developments in China

Did you notice that China is placing new restrictions about what news can be posted on websites? Read about it here.

I'm dismayed that the Chinese government feels the need to restrict the access of its citizens to all information. Let's be vigilant and make sure that we keep access open here in the U. S.. Remember that what someone doesn't want you to read may very well be something you absolutely should read!