Saturday, December 31, 2016

Almost 2017

It is already 2017 in parts of this round, blue ball we call earth. In three hours and twenty minutes it will be officially the New Year here in Estacada, Oregon.

To all my family and friends, I wish you a very happy new year for 2017. May all your deepest desires come true in the new year. May you flourish in health, prosper in wealth, and increase in wisdom.

                           Happy 2017

Thursday, December 22, 2016

What is the Traditional Message at Christmas from the President?

John F. Kennedy
"For nearly 2,000 years the message of Christmas, the message of peace and good will towards all men, has been the guiding star of our endeavors ... (Christmas) is the day when we remind ourselves that man can and must live in peace with his neighbors and that it is the peacemakers who are truly blessed." Dec 17, 1962

Jimmy Carter
"Christmas is a time to remind us that even when we do suffer and are disappointed in the United States and live even a dismal life, compared to our own immediate neighbors, compared to most of the rest of the world, we indeed have a joyous life and a wonderful life." Dec 15, 1977

George H.W. Bush
"Christ's brief time on Earth was devoted to tending the physical and spiritual needs of His flock: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and illuminating the path to eternal salvation... Today, Christ's message of hope and redemption -- first delivered on that holy night in the City of David -- continues to bring peace and joy to millions of people around the world."  Dec 18, 1990

Bill Clinton
"The Christmas story is dear and familiar to us all—shepherds and angels, Wise Men and King Herod, Mary and Joseph, and, at the heart of it all, a Child. This Child was born into poverty in a city too crowded to offer Him shelter. He was sent to a region whose people had endured suffering, tyranny, and exile." Dec 20, 1995

George W Bush
"Christmastime reminds each of us that we have a duty to love our neighbor just as we would like to be loved ourselves."  Dec 23, 2003

Barack Obama
 "Christ... ministered to the poor. He embraced the outcast. He healed the sick. And in Him we see a living example of scripture that we ought to love others not only through our words, but also through our deeds."  Dec 13, 2013

Donald Trump at 8:50 a.m. this morning
" Defence stocks were little changed after Mr Trump's tweet, but shares of small uranium miners including Uranium Resources Inc and Uranium Energy Corp rose sharply." ABC News Online today

[Former presidents' quotes are excerpts from Deseret News Opinion Dec 13, 2014, online. President-elect Trump quoted from Twitter today]

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Weather Report for Wednesday Dec 14

An accumulation of three inches of snow fell on our driveway here in Estacada yesterday. This scientific number was determined by sticking a ruler into the snow. The high today, Thursday, is forecast to be 34 degrees, and it is predicted to warm up to a high of 45 degrees by next Tuesday.

This weather pattern, which is unusual for western Oregon in December (or even in February) has arrived thanks to La Nina, combined with a polar vortex sweeping down from Siberia. We had studded tires installed on the Matrix last week, and if you have ever seen our road down the hill into town, you'd understand why.

This is the second significant snowfall of the year, and more snow is predicted before the New Year. We lost our electricity both times, and expect it could happen frequently this winter. We have no alternative heat source, but the house is well insulated. This time the power was off for seven hours, but we only lost a degree per hour. If we'd fired up the BBQ on the deck, we could have had a hot meal, but since it was 27 degrees with wind blowing the snow horizontally, we were inspired to stay indoors.

Blessings and prayers for all who must venture out in this weather, and special thanks to the PGE workers who were out in the freezing cold, reconnecting our electricity.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Fake News Hurts Real People - and our Democracy

This is an educational story about conspiracy theories. It gives the type of clues that tip one off to a story being fake news. One quick way to tell is: ask yourself "What is the payoff for the person or group peddling this conspiracy theory?" (Hint: if the payoff is big towards destroying a political rival or party, that is an immediate red flag to dig further, and to not be credulous.)

A quick gut check on conspiracy theories is this: Does it require a group of conspirators bigger than the national debt to hide it and keep the perps from being investigated, charged and convicted? If "yes", you can be pretty certain it is a "fake news" event, not something that really happened. I truly empathize with those who have lost touch with reality enough to believe that the government, and all the ordinary police and teachers and firemen etc., are involved in vast conspiracies and cover-ups involving Hillary Clinton, Sandy Hook massacre, and the 9/11 attack in 2001, to name a few.

The irresponsible people who are making money off these despicable lies should not be tolerated. An open society does not give criminals a license to steal the good name of other citizens, to trick naive people into committing felonies, and to interfere with our elections. They are the ones who should be brought to justice -- and that is no conspiracy!

The real people referenced in fake news stories and conspiracies are harmed, even put in danger of their lives, because of unbalanced people acting on fake news.

Last Sunday a young man, Edgar Maddison Welch, of Salisbury, North Carolina, fired a rifle inside a neighborhood D. C. pizzaria, terrorizing the employees and customers. He was there because a fake news story (CBS NEWS, Dec 5, 2016), led him to believe that the business was a cover for a pedophile ring. Now there is a conspiracy theory that Edgar was a plant, (Washington Post, Dec 5, 2016), sent to cover up the crimes by pretending to investigate them. Edgar has been doubly victimized by Fake News. He will be facing criminal charges for his actions.

Lucy Richards, of Tampa, Florida, was arrested Monday because she believed the conspiracy news about Sandy Hook, and threatened to kill one of the bereaved parents. (USA TODAY, Dec 7, 2016). She is facing up to 20 years in prison. Len Ponzer, the parent she threatened to kill, has not only lost his child in a mass shooting, but has been terrorized by an unbalanced woman who acted on Fake News. 

For the sake of our own sanity, we need to check our credulity at the door when listening to a politician or an "alternate" news site that is spewing slander and hate at a popular figure. This is how mobs are created, who then go and lynch an innocent person, just because "someone said".

That is why we have courts, we have independent committees in Congress, we have independent law enforcement in several overlapping jurisdictions such as city police, county sheriffs, state police, federal investigators such as FBI, CIA, Dept. of Homeland Security, etc. A total loss of confidence in ALL of them at once is required to believe in any of the currently popular conspiracy theories. For a rational person, that is truly - unbelievable.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Reposted: Twitter storm from Evan McMullin

 Evan McMullin @Evan_McMullin
.@briankoppelman: If Trump governs as an authoritarian like he has promised, it will be critical that Americans do the following 10 things: https://twitter.com/briankoppelman/status/805440148905328640 

1. Read and learn the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Know that our basic rights are inalienable.
2. Identify and follow many credible sources of news. Be very well informed and learn to discern truth from untruth.
3. Watch every word, decision and action of Trump and his administration extremely closely, like we have never done before in America.
4. Be very vocal in every forum available to us when we observe Trump's violations of our rights and our democracy. Write, speak, act.
5. Support journalists, artists, academics, clergy and others who speak truth and who inform, inspire and unite us.
6. Build bridges with Americans from the other side of the traditional political spectrum and with members of diverse American communities.
7. Defend others who may be threatened by Trump even if they don't look, think or believe like us. An attack on one is an attack on all.
8. Organize online and in person with other Americans who understand the danger Trump poses and who are also willing to speak up.
9. Hold members of Congress accountable for protecting our rights and democracy through elections and by making public demands of them now.
10. And finally, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, have "malice toward none, with charity for all" and never ever lose hope!