War,Freedom, VITAL INTERESTS

SCOTUS lets the Greens (Hobby Lobby) redefine abortion based on their religious “beliefs” that preventing pregnancy IS abortion,  That’s a little to the right of Attilla the Hun, isn’t it?

Due to a wandering cursor and an inadvertent “enter” I lost a whole editorial on that subect, so i will proceed with the original intent of this post.  It is a copy of an email ( sent to some friends who are veterans of the Canadian military, and among my best friends.  (though I confess I am not as fond of soldiers as was my deceased sister,she married, in order, a captain in the reserves a Major who was a trainer for Special Forces, and a Colonel who was part of the command staff in the capital as well as former commander of the base where the Royal Military College is based,)  Anyway here’s the whole email.

Karen (and Doug)

I’ve met more than one Vietnam veteran who would be saluting the kid, and a few draft dodgers who had run away to Canada and were (smart enough?) not to trust the US Government that it meant what it said when it offered “amnesty”.  After all, one of the first things the American government does to someone who enlists (or is drafted) into the army here in the USA is to take away almost every civil right they ever had as a civilian, and substitute the “Uniform Code of Military Justice” for all laws and jurisdictions. That’s one of the main reasons they (the US military) couldn’t agree with the Iraqi government on a “status of forces” agreement to leave a residual force in Iraq.  The US military demanded immunity from local prosecution, in fact total immunity, so that only the “Uniform Code of Military Justice” was the governing law over US soldiers. (And the abuses of that immunity by the Blackwater contractors was one of the main reasons Iraq wasn’t having any of that shit from the US any more.) (Although they seemed to have “caved” on that issue to get US “advisors” back to help fight ISIS.)
The arguments are a lot more nuanced than the writer of this (original) message seems to think. (That email contained a cartoon of a the kid refusing to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and the disabled veteran who “fought for his right” to do so.)   Before the “Muslims” it was the Catholics (who couldn’t even hope to get a President elected for almost 200 years), not to mention the Irish, and the Negroes, and the Jews.  It is SUPPOSED to be for the freedoms of ALL, and especially the 14% who disagree with the 86% for whom the military are engaged in either “protection” or battle.
There is something “noble” about people like you, who (Karen and Doug) are willing to maintain watch, manning the barricades, as it were, against potential threats, willing to sacrifice all if need be.
It has been over 70 years since any of: the US, Canada or Britain; fought a war of aggression against their countries. Terrorism isn’t an ideology, it is a strategy.
Now, I don’t deny that Islamism and the Islamists do mean ill to all our “countries” (although only to the extent that we don’t want to submit to their religion, so the “we believe in ‘God'” really means, in the context of this email (the cartoon contained that phrase from the Teacher character) that we believe in the Christian “GOD”, not just “god” in general, because that would have to include believe in Buddha, or Allah, too.) But Muslims are not the same as Islamists.  Islamists are the UN-crusaders, they just took a thousand years to getting around to doing with the (mostly Catholic) Christians were doing on their crusades through (and especially on the way to and from) the “Holy Lands”, trying to rid the world of “infidels”, although they enjoyed a good slaughter and pillage without inquiring as to the beliefs of small towns before they burned and pillaged to obtain supplies for their massive (hundreds or thousands) or knights and logistical staff.
Unfortunately the Islamists are also a little too like the Inquisition; theoretically if you profess to follow the “true faith” you are “saved” and therefore not subject to death or imprisonment, but like the Inquisition, sometimes that wasn’t good enough and they lopped off your head anyway. Putting away your religious fervour is not quite as easy as taking off your cowboy hat and gun belt, especially if your sword is already drawn. Watching a good beheading was more popular than football in France for a while, and it drove the crowds wild when they combined the football and beheadings in Iran not so long ago. (I think it was Iran, although my memory never was as good as I thought it was.)
Islamists are a little like Jehovah’s Witnesses, except that when they come to your door, if you don’t want to let them in to talk about Allah, they grab you by the throat and say, “You MUST believe in Allah, or I will have to strangle you to death. Two simple choices, yes?”
Muslims are not all Islamists.  One guy I talk to, a writer, in Pakistan says about 10% are on the side of the radicals … wait, more on that in a minute.  I just remembered something.
About 80 or 90 years ago in New York city you could spit on people and not be very likely to be arrested if it was one of those women with the scarves over their heads and dark clothing, or their men who wore the funny hats and almost always had beards … ooops, sorry, that’s what a lot of Muslims look like today, but back then that was the Jews.  My mistake. Never mind.  Back to my story.
But even in Pakistan, only about 10% of the radical 10% are genuinely supporters of violent means of spreading Islam.
Islamists, at least the current violent crop in ISISIL (or ISIL, or ISIS) are almost all Sunnis, which is kind of like the “Catholics” among Christians, it’s the most popular subdivision, but many, if not most, of the Islamists are like the radial Evangelicals (in the USA at least) the literalists in bible interpretation (Islamist also emphasize a lot of “selective” use of the Qu’ran for motivation) and as I say, many from the Osama (or Usama if you like) bin Laden followers are from the Wahabi sect (the “Evangelicals” of the Moslem world), as are a lot of the rest of al Qaeda.
Anyway, if you had your state impose a religion on you, like Henry VIII did to a country of Catholics you’d probably grumble a bit, but when another ruler tried to reinstate Catholicism after a few generations, and well, say 86% were Catholic, there (might) have been some pretty bloody opposition (again).  For that matter, isn’t that what started the last 400 years of war in Ireland?
Okay, I’m getting in over my depth here, but my point is that yes, the Soldier in the previous email’s cartoon, actually ALSO fought for the right of the Moslems to pray in the streets, and the Jews to wear funny hats (not just the yamakas, but those flat black felt ones of the really devote sects too), but NOT for the 86% to impose their religious beliefs on “other people’s children” through state sponsored education, or courts, or city halls.  Us Jews (like Maggie) and atheists (like me, although we both are more “pantheists” than completely any organized religion) can stand up for our own beliefs, but little kids don’t know any better than going along with the crowd, and succumbing to peer pressure to be “Christians” too. Hey even my Jewish wife is a bigger fan of Christmas than I am (she loves to get presents, I was raised in a Protestant home) and I am the one who tries to keep her on the “straight and narrow” of using only blue and white lights consistent with the tradition of Chanukah (not always successfully, since some years I don’t want to participate in the light hanging at all).
Right now, the fighting in the Middle East is a religious war between Muslim sects, the Sunni against the Shia, it involves “the West” because we seem to believe that the political borders as they were drawn on a map by the British at the end of WW I are still “important”.  But that is not the main reason. Syria doesn’t have a lot of oil. Did you notice how “laissez faire” the US has been with regard to the largely religiously sectarian civil war in Syria between the Sunni rebels and the [Shia] Alawites (despite the obvious excesses of the dictator), though removing chemical weapons was a clever “coup”.  Now in Iraq it also involves the West,, i.e. USA, because Iraq is now the SECOND LARGEST EXPORTER of crude oil of all the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries (OPEC), and that’s a BIG economic interest, especially to the extent that a lot of the shareholders of the multinational oil companies are American citizens (and pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies and other “corporate citizens”), and thereby we are “protecting the vital strategic interests of the United States“, as we were in the first Gulf War.
Now that is not as patently clear as a political rant from Keith Olberman, or “lesson” from Rachel Maddow, but I hope it is a fairly balanced and factual account of how some of us come to our opinions based on more than jingoistic, xenophobic slogans.
So pass THIS along if you believe in religious freedom,or the “right” (??) to chose your foreign military entanglements.  (What was Canada doing in Laos in the mid-1960’s anyway?)
Love,
Doc Williamson
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Will the REAL Alan Greenspan, please, SHUT UP!!?!

When you get REALLY BIG, people have to pay attention when you start to, “throw your weight around.”  This is literally the way that elephant seals dominate a harem of females and prevent lesser males from invading their territory or their harem.  It is the way that very many of the largest species create dominance and leadership in their group.  It is the figurative or statutory value we place on certain people and the positions that they occupy that turn them into bellowing buffalo or benevolent bull elephants.

Unfortunately, like the reaction to bellowing buffalo and trumpeting elephants, the rest of the herd has a tendency to stampede.  This is too often the case on Wall Street.  Panic sets in very, very quickly in the stock market.  The bond market reacts to those panicky movements though by sheer size a “huge” influx of cash from a stock selloff is a relatively minor event, a mere “blip” on the radar of bond markets.  The debt markets are just so huge they dwarf Wall Street. 

There are, too, “whales” of comparatively behemoth sizes that also slow the turning of the equity market.  The mutual funds take hedges against any major movement in their portfolios, and it not only takes a cautious hand to protect the value of their assets, it takes a bit of unwinding to untangle the interdependencies to avoid being exposed by selling off assets that form a part of a complicated hedging strategy.  In all of these situations economic espionage is a huge advantage because advanced warning of impending news is a potential windfall, but more importantly, a chance to prepare to avoid undesirable consequences.

If all of that is just a dizzying earful of financialspeak, then perhaps I can simplify my point by pointing to a movie.  It is a rather good movie, even a favorite of mine.  The movie I am referring to is, Trading Places, starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, with delightful contributions from not only Jamie Lee Curtis, but also Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy (it must be one of my favorite movies, because I didn’t even have to look up the names of the stars as I often do, not because I don’t remember who they are, just because I can’t put the names I know perfectly well onto the faces I remember). 

In any case, the movie tells the story of a pair of financial moguls who toy with the lives of the Murphy and Aykroyd characters, but their own financial scheme is to corner the market on orange juice and profit from (illegally obtained) advance information from the official “crop reports” prior to their public release.  After being set against each other by the financial powerhouse Duke brothers (Bellamy and Ameche) Murphy and Aykroyd’s characters set about to take revenge on them by manipulating the impression of the news prior to it actually being released.  The panic in the trading pits quickly sets in, and then reverses, leaving the old fellows broke and their previous victims victorious.

Do you know what the problem with that is?  The problem is that the story is all too real.  Not the part about manipulating individual lives, although presumably the writers, producers and director of the film felt that big financial institutions and the heartless villains that control them have no care or concern for, “the little guy.”  The “real” part is that it closely resembles the real life instance of the Hunt brothers (from Texas) who, already being billionaires, decided more or less on a whim to try to corner the market in silver.  The good news was that they were not successful and it cost them dearly, but the “movements” of a few certainly sent shockwaves throughout the commodities industry.

The same kind of thing happens when “the Oracle of Omaha” (as they call billionaire Warren Buffet) makes a major move in his portfolio, or some other significant financial force surprises the financial world with either an actual major sell-off, or purchase, or even just a filing of “intent” documents with the Security and Exchange Commission.  If an “elephant” is going to lean in the direction of the tree you are sleeping in, you had better wake up and be prepared to shaken up a bit.

But sometimes, and this is one of them, when the elephant has given up its leadership role, it is time for the “herd” to stop twitching nervously with every flap of his ears.  Or in this case, the flap of his gums.  Alan Greenspan became such a heavyweight in financial markets that he even swayed the debt market’s course when he spoke, because as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, he controlled the money supply and financial policy (which indirectly, and in effect directly, controlled interest rates).  Alan Greenspan, when he was Chairman, spoke usually cautiously, but when he was too overt, the shockwaves were a financial tsunami. 

Greenspan’s pronouncement that the fantastic growth of wealth that corresponded with expansion of the economy at a tremendous rate was due to overly enthusiastic “irrational exuberance” over the internet, tech stocks and “dot com” boom.  That comment was essentially by itself the principal cause of the, “tech crash,” the loss of value of so many technology stocks and the absolute destruction of others in 1999 through 2001.

Greenspan recently admitted that the low interest rates implemented by “The Fed” (as the Federal Reserve Board is commonly known) “might” be partly responsible for the rapid expansion of home equity that has led to the “mortgage crisis” that is the current financial headache in America.  But now that he is retired, I do wish he would just shut up and enjoy his retirement.  But NOOooooo, he has to publicize the book he has written. 

Do you think it is because he “needs the money” from book sales?  I am pretty sure he and his wife, news reporter Andrea Mitchell, could live fairly comfortably on her salary alone.  Yet, Greenspan keeps talking and the market keeps reacting even though he is no longer Chairman.

Greenspan commented last weekend in an interview that we were in danger of “stagflation” in the American economy in the near future.  What he actually said was that the danger of stagflation was looming and what we needed was for the housing surplus to be absorbed quickly so that this kind of slowdown in the home building industry did not trigger a recessionary period.  The oracle had spoken, and the doomsayers were quick to quote him.

Newscasts on at least two major networks on Monday used Greenspan’s predictions to drum up interest in their broadcasts that night.  Even prior to the widespread reporting on Greenspan’s doom and gloom prediction the markets reacted with a triple digit decline in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.  But too much like the Duke brothers from Trading Places, I suspect, Greenspan already knew that housing starts were down significantly in November.  In fact, “down significantly” is putting it too mildly (not that I want to be known as a doomsayer myself).  MarketWatch, a Dow Jones web site, reports that housing permits reached a 14 year low in November of this year, and housing starts a 16 year low, down by 5.4%.  I somehow doubt that Mr. Greenspan was unaware of this, and thus, his criterion for avoiding recession was already inevitable.  His “prediction” is more or less guaranteed by a reduced supply in the housing market because fewer homes are being built.  The three month and six month supply of newly completed homes will be significantly lower, and Mr. Greenspan looks like a genius, again.

And the result of this was … Greenspan’s name is again in front of the public, his books sell better, and meanwhile, the little guy, investing in the stock market gets clobbered with a triple digit point drop in the Dow. 

It is not like Mr. Greenspan has the kind of influence he had when he was Chairman of the Fed.  Nor do I think he is malevolent in his intent.  But “the markets” (including the debt market) can’t seem to stop listening to him like he had some magical window into the future.  I know I can’t stop people from listening and making irrational decisions, so I am going to appeal directly to Mr. Greenspan.

My investment portfolio in my IRAs got KILLED in the tech stock decline thanks to Mr. Greenspan.  In 2000, my wife and I calculated we would have plenty of money to be able to retire (not that we actually planned on changing anything) by 2008.  Then came the “tech crash”.  We know you are a genius, Alan, and we owe you a great deal for your steering the financial ship for so many years, but can you please avoid any “loose lips” that might sink other people’s financial “ships”, please.

In other words, Mr. Greenspan, would you please just keep your big mouth shut?

 Love,

Stafford “Doc” Williamson

Why are you still paying retail for printer ink or toner?

http://www.Sav-Mor-On-Ink.com

WHY THIS IS THE SECOND MOST IMPORTANT PAGE ON THE INTERNET

You might not agree with me, and generally that’s okay with me.  There are certain to be no shortage of people who disagree this is, or ever will be, the second most important page on the internet.  And if you think that the title is the most egotistical title you have ever heard then you probably have never read my book, The Day I Changed the Shape of the Universe, have you?  Indeed if you decide to pick up a copy and read that book, that alone could eventually make this page THE most important page on the internet because some day some bright young (well, probably young, since young people seem more open to new ideas) person will read that book, and it will change the future of mankind because of the understanding it gives them about the nature of matter, energy and gravity.  But that is only incidental to the purpose of this page. It is my intent to make changes in the world.  Small and personal, bold and radical, evolutionary and revolutionary, changes that will make the world a better place and life less of a frightening battle between hunger, starvation and poverty, illness and death for at least a large number of people who see little else in their lives because that is the whole of the reality they live in.  I plan to bring some of that about as a direct result of what appears on this page (and I plan to put this page on more than one of the “social networking sites” to make it more widely available too). I am going to talk about things that you might not have thought about, some that have bothered you for years, and some that are on the tip of everybody’s tongues (because they are in the “news” at the time I write about them).  But, in particular, I want to help people whose children are having difficulty learning.  I have already written two books for students in the “middle school” grades (6th, 7th, and 8th) who are not reading up to their grade level.  These books are depicted in the “header” graphic for this page (on the wordpress.com blog at least) and have sold rather poorly thus far.  They use several techniques to “lure in” the poorer readers of middle school based on observations I personally made of that type of student in the classrooms.  They tend to gravitate toward books that are “picture books” and in particular look like they are written for the lower (primary) grades.  That is exactly what Puppyfish and Puppy Goes to Lambergarten do.  They are written at a reading level of an advanced 4th grade reader, so can also be used as challenging reading for very advanced 2nd or 3rd graders too.  But they are specifically designed to be used for middle schoolers by attracting them to the format of colorful illustrations of cartoon style animals on the cover, and continuing the illustrations in the pages of the book, yet introducing them to “chapter book” style content, not the one or two sentences they expected to find in primary grade reading materials.  The stories are simple and easy to follow, but the text is extensive.   One of the best ways to employ these books is to turn these children who are struggling themselves into the “tutors” for children in primary grades, especially using these books (or books like them)(I can’t write them all).  If the middle school students are given these books to read out loud to primary grade children as part of a mentoring program for those younger children, the responsibility of being chosen for this “honor” will strengthen the middle school student’s self-esteem.  It will help motivate them to learn to read better, and indeed in some cases, they may find that the younger students actually end up mentoring the middle schoolers on how to work out pronunciation through phoneme recognition or just having a more extensive established vocabulary. If you have a pre-teen who is struggling to keep up with school work because of their difficulty reading up to grade level, you might want to become a regular reader here.  Not everything on this blog will be just on that one subject, but it will probably serve as the freely available “newsletter” for http://helpkidsread.winfotech.com as well as http://remedialreaders.winfotech.com and http://whykidscantread.winfotech.com (which for the present at least, all point to the same content).   Those sites will also have suggestions for members on products to buy, reports to read, and techniques to help young readers to be better readers.   READING is FUNDAMENTAL to ALL SUCCESS.  Reading MORE is IMPORTANT so developing ENTHUSIASM for READING is almost more important than developing the mere reading skills.  The LOVE of READING will teach someone to read far faster and far better than any formal technique.  And that is why this page is so important.  We want to promote the LOVE of reading as well as the ABILITY to READ.    The “people of tomorrow” cannot be expected to make RESPONSIBLE, INFORMED and INTELLIGENT DECISIONS about themselves, their families and their future without being able to read and understand the choices and the arguments for both sides of any decision, as well as recognize the difference between an irrational emotional appeal and a logical convincing statement of an informative nature.  Any hope for democracy surviving as more than a sham, a mere appearance of participation in government will be lost unless we can raise both awareness and intelligence in the citizens who will be voting in elections in just a few years from now.   Those “people of tomorrow” are the students of today.  Imagine the horrifying prospect of the majority of citizens who have never had the benefit of reading books like BRAVE NEW WORLD, or 1984, or SOYLENT GREEN, being drawn into an emotional appeal to “save your children” by cutting off all social assistance programs to persons over the age of 80.  “What do you want, healthy children or drooling, grey-haired vegetables in wheelchairs?  Save the National School Lunch funding!  Vote for the New Neocratic Party candidate in your district.”   Think about it.READ. Love, Stafford “Doc” Williamson

READ – It’s IMPORTANT to READ

I didn’t want to do it, but someone has to speak out.

I am not good at speaking (or writing) briefly, so you will get to exercise your eyes if you decide to follow along here.  You are welcome to drop by any time.

love

Stafford “Doc” Williamson

Why are you still paying retail for printer ink or toner?

http://www.Sav-Mor-On-Ink.com

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