Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Progressive Thinking

Our country was founded because of the efforts of progressive thinkers. They had the audacity to suggest that all men are created equal. Since then, as a country, we've stumbled forward. We fought a civil war to ensure that no one was denied their rights as US citizens because of the color of their skin. We behaved atrociously to the indigenous population. Women didn't have the right to vote until the early 1900's.

Even with all the set-backs to basic human rights, there were still plenty of progressive thinkers in the US. From Ben Franklin to President Woodrow Wilson to President Kennedy, there was progressive thinking for the sciences as well.

Benjamin Franklin supposedly experimented by flying a kite to test the theory that electricity and lightening were the same. He was also a prolific inventor and his Franklin stove is still in use today.

I choose President Woodrew Wilson because of progressive thinking of the theory of evolution:

Of course, like every other man of intelligence and education I do believe in organic evolution. It surprises me that at this late date such questions should be raised.
Letter to Winterton C. Curtis (29 August 1922)

President Kennedy started one of the greatest periods of technological in the US when he vowed that we would send a man to the moon.

As a country, we were much more progressive in our thinking in the 1950's and the 1960's. Schools seemed to be geared to teaching US kids science and math courses that would help our country progress. Television shows like Watch Mr. Wizard are still fun to watch today.

When my son was growing up in the early 1990's, we watched Bill Nye, The Science Guy. It was awesome to watch the Space Shuttle and the Hubble Telescope. Those pictures are enough to see the value of progressive thinking.

The Space Shuttles have been grounded. The US must rely on Russia and other countries to get into space. This is something that would have been unthinkable 50 years ago. Progressive thinking led us into great discoveries and the lack now is leading us backwards. It doesn't help that the majority of Republican candidates for president have such a narrow view-point on science.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Over 235 years ago, a group of liberated thinkers got together and created something unique: the United States of America. Today, a lot of politicians running as Republicans and as members of the TEA Party seem bent on changing the very things that make the United States so unique. Gingrich, for now, the leader in the Republican race for president has openly stated that we should ignore those decisions of Federal courts we do not agree with. He rationale is the very stuff of tyrants and strikes me as being openly un-American.

Pictures are worth thousands of words:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vote No On Amendment 26

If you value taking personal responsibility in your life, then vote no on Amendment 26. Government should not interfere in health issues.

Friday, September 9, 2011

GOP & TEA Party: Party Before Country

I watched President Obama's speech last evening. I like it a lot because it gives more tax cuts to those who need it most: The middle class. The proposal would also pay for itself by closing tax loopholes that large corporations and billionaires currently enjoy on the backs of the middle and lower and middle classes. Some of those mega-corporations enjoy tax breaks for creating jobs. Too bad those jobs were created in China!!

Even though President Obama didn't name Grover Norquist by name, I'm glad that Obama brought up the stupid pledge some members of Congress made of not raising taxes. Too bad those same members(read GOP and TEA party) seem willing to increase the tax burden of the middle class. They bulk at raising taxes on the wealthy by 3% but seem to have no problem with raising taxes on the middle class and working poor.

Analysis has shown that President Obama's job plan would add over a million jobs in 2012.

But I doubt if the Republican and TEA Party members of Congress will pass the job bill. They put their party before country. They don't to care that the middle class and the working poor are suffering. In short, they care more about their buddies like the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist, and others, than they do about our country.

GOP and TEA Party prove that you care more about our country than the party you belong to and help pass President Obama's sensible job plan.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Impressions of The Help

I saw The Help yesterday. The overwhelming I've had is anger followed by disbelieve and horror. The reviews of this movie seem to imply that it is a feel good movie. To me, it just showed the hateful and willful ignorance of bigots. It also showed how a group mentality can very easily take hold. When some dared to to speak out against the horrible laws, they were murdered. Mississippi has a long, bloody history against those who try to uphold justice. No, this wasn't a feel good movie at all. It brought home to me in a way that reading of the murder of Edgar Mevers and the murders of Civil Rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwermer, and James Chaney never could.

It is the insidious and relentless message hammered home that you don't speak out against the injustice of the Jim Crow laws and the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission.

One scene that made me so damn angry was Minnie, one of the help, had to use the bathroom . It was very stormy. The old white woman was okay with her using the toilet inside but her daughter, Hilly, totally freaked out and wanted the maid to go outside and use the toilet built especially for the help. But her mother told Minnie it was okay to use the inside toilet. When Hilly realized Minnie has used the inside toilet, she fired her.

I don't know why this one shred of lack of human decency made me so angry. Perhaps it was the buildup to the scene. Hilly, the one who said no to Minnie, was trying to get new legislation passed that special toilets would have to be built for the help. It is the piecemeal by piecemeal taking away of a person's dignity that is so troublesome.

It is also the hive mind that such actions possible that gets to me. It is the inability to see someone as person and keep heaping on degradation after degradation.

Governor Barbour may think that the White Citizens Council was benign but it wasn't. The whole purpose of these laws were to further degrade blacks and to punish whites who seemed to be too friendly.

This cartoon was published by the Mississippi Citizens' Council. Click on the link and see if the cartoon doesn't remind you of some of the arguments we are hearing today. Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Tropical Storm Lee

Tropical Storm Lee is sitting off the coast of Louisiana dumping huge amounts of rainfall along the Louisiana and Mississippi coast. The rain is much needed as both states have been suffering through a drought. The rain has been light with periods of intense rain which is expected to last for three days or more. The winds have begun to pick up a little.

Winn Dixie alert in D'Iberville!!!! The store is out Lay's sour cream and onion chips.

Update: Declares state of emergency. State officials must do this in order to receive help from FEMA.

The expected rainfall totals will close heavy flooding.

Td Thirteen : Radar : Weather Underground

Time to get the umbrellas, boats, etc out. Three days of expected 10-12 inches of rain.

Td Thirteen : Radar : Weather Underground

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jews By Choice-We Do and We Will

Originally posted two years ago:

This evening begins the festival of Shavuot. It marks two things: The giving of the Torah and the harvest of first fruits. We accepted and committed ourselves to living the 613 mitzvot. By doing so, we harvested fruits for all generations to come. All of Israel stood at Har Sinai and made the commitment and obligation of "We accept and we will do". All became Jews by choice. A tribal people became the nation of Am Israel. This new nation consisted of those who were direct descendants of Abraham as well as those who left Egypt with them. All through the Torah there are many instances of those who join Am Israel out of love and awe of HaShem. The first was Abram. He rejected the idols of his father and was circumcised and then became Abraham. While in b'Midbar, Yithro is the most prominent of those who joined Am Israel. For Shavuot, the Megillah of Ruth is read. Her simple words of conversion: "Your people shall be my people, your HaShem, my HaShem".

I think the Megillah of Ruth is read not only to celebrate those who join Am Israel but to remind us that deep down, whether a Jew by birth or a Jew by choice, each of us has made the commitment and the obligation to live by Torah.

Last evening, after Havdalah, our rabbi gave us handouts on Rabbi Kook's The Fourfold Song. Each of us was asked to tell which resonated with us at this time. Mine was:

There is another who sings the song of his people. He leaves the circle of his own individual self, because he finds it without sufficient breadth, without an idealistic basis. He aspires towards the heights, and he attaches himself with a gentle love to the whole community of Israel. Together with her he sings her songs. He feels grieved in her afflictions and delights in her hopes. He contemplates noble and pure thoughts about her future and probes with love and wisdom her inner spiritual essence.

Each person's song adds to the whole of Am Israel and to creation and the end result will be:

May we all be blessed to hear the song of every facet of creation and integrate it into every fiber of our beings, until we become the music itself. Through this we come to realize our potential and accomplish our purpose in life, expressed through our own unique song. May we always strive to rectify and heal, fulfill and reveal the oneness of G-d, with the great joy that comes from serving Him. May our efforts be directed to redemption and the sounds of the tenth song, a new song to G-d, waiting to be revealed, quickly and in our days.

There are many voices that sing and the web-site Jews by Choice embraces Reform. Conservative, Orthodox, Ba'al Tehsuva and those who are going toward Har Sinai to become part of Am Israel. A great song allows for different harmonies, melodies, beats, and tones. It becomes pleasing to the ear when each harmony, melody, beat, and tone is allowed to be heard and respected.

Mystical Paths and The Muqata have posts about Shavuot.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hurricanes-Need to Prepare Now

June 1 marks the start of hurricane season. Now is the time to start preparing. It can take awhile to gather all the things needed whether you stay or evacuate.

The National Hurricane Center has a nice booklet that explains what a hurricane is.

Ready.gov has a list of items everyone should consider keeping in an emergency kit.

Recommended Items To Include In A Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional Items To Consider Adding To An Emergency Supply Kit:(My note: The following items are essential for preparing for a hurricane)

Prescription medications and glasses

Infant formula and diapers

Pet food and extra water for your pet

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

Cash or traveler's checks and change

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.(My note: If you live in an area close to beaches, rivers, etc take photo albums if evacuating and protect them in waterproof materials if staying)

Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov.

Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Fire Extinguisher

Matches in a waterproof container

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels

Paper and pencil

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Some additional recommendations by me:

Have a phone that can be plugged in directly to the phone jack. When the power is out, you can still get a dial tone as long as the phone lines haven't had too much damage.

Save bags from the grocery store. These can be very useful in many different ways.

If you are not evacuating, have a propane table top grill. This will be useful for boiling water and having warm meals. A charcoal grill is good as well but if your power is out for more than three days, you will have to have a lot of charcoal on hand.

Instead of a three day supply of food and water, I would recommend at the very minimum a week's supply. After Hurricane Katrina, many stores were not able to reopen. If roads and bridges are out, it could take longer than three days for state and federal emergency management to get to you.

Make sure to fill your gas tank up. I usually fill mine up when any tropical system hits the Gulf of Mexico.

The most important thing is to rely on what local officials tell you. If you live in an area that is ordered to evacuate, do so. Don't rely on bench marks from prior hurricanes. Many people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought they were safe when Hurricane Katrina hit because they lived in areas that didn't flood during Hurricane Camille's storm surge.

Each tropical system is different and unique. Even depressions can cause major problems if there's a great amount of rain. You need to prepare for a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane like you would if a major hurricane was making landfall.

Also, if you are under a tropical storm watch or warning, pick-up loose items outside. When squall lines come through, those items can become airborne and can damage your home.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seeking Justice or Relearning How to Share

One of the very first lessons earned as a child is that it is important to share even if we didn’t like the other child very much. It was our very first lesson in seeking justice. A squabble over a child’s toy doesn’t seem like it would be such a lesson. Think about it. To me, this lesson seems to teach many things other than giving over a toy for a short time.

In thinking about the many squabbles with my brothers and sisters and other kids over toys, I think sharing toys taught me that not everyone has what I have. Compared to other families, mine was just above the poverty line and so we didn’t have what some others had. We were fortunate to have food, water, shelter, medical care, and transportation. Some kids weren’t as lucky and I used to wonder what I could do to help.

When I was a child, I was glad we had programs in place to help those in need. As an adult, I’m glad my taxes help out programs such as WIC, Medicaid, Pell Grants, etc.

Sometimes I think the United States is becoming a country in which being poor is a crime.

The Torah’s depiction of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a cautionary tale of how not to treat the poor and needy. The prophet Ezekiel proclaims: “Behold the sin of Sodom….She and her daughters had pride, excess bread, and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.” Avot 5:10 in the Mishna describes as someone who has the attitude of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours” as a Sodomite.

Right now in Congress, Republicans are trying to pass legislation that strips many of the safety programs in place. These same Republicans want to do away with Social Security, the Department of Education, and the EPA. They want to do this on the backs of the poor and the middle class while increasing the wealth of the richest people in the country.

I believe in the essential decency of Americans. I know that most would willingly help their neighbors, friends and family in hard times. There are so many who fall through the cracks. My question is our we going to be a nation that “strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” or will be one that declares “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is your”?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Last Laugh

It is always hard to lose a Mom. It is also hard to watch her as day by day she becomes weaker and can no longer fight. It is hard to watch the monitors in the ICU room as your Mom's blood pressure drops hour by hour and is close to flat lining and then mercifully, the ICU staff shuts it off. It is hard to watch the face of your Mom as it changes from one full of health to the pastiness of illness and it doesn't get any better. It’s hard to listen to the doctor while he is holding back his own tears that there is no longer anything he can do for Mom.

It is hard to watch your younger sister, who has cared for Mom for almost 10 years burst into inconsolable tears as Mom's fight is long last over.

It is hard to do these things but it is much easier when you and your brothers and sisters are gathered together and surround Mom's bed. You hold hands with the brother or sister that you might have had arguments with but you grasp that hand tightly because you know each needs the strength of the other.

Each of us says goodbye to her. Each reassures her that we will take care of the youngest and each other.

We talk to one another and make apologies to one another and Mom can hear us. She tries to open her eyes. We talk about growing up and she can her us. We start sharing some of the funnier stories and we laugh quietly at first. Then my oldest sister tells a funny one and we burst out laughing. We hear Mom and it is her last breath and laugh.

And that is the thing I will always remember the most about Mom: her gift of laughter and humor. It wasn’t easy growing up. There were 5 of us and she and Dad managed to raise us on his military salary. Mom would get part-time jobs when times were tougher. But we had food, clothes, shelter, and love.

When we lived in Jackson, I remember in 1969 when Hurricane Camille was coming through. She was a West Virginal girl and had never experienced anything like it. Dad had been transferred to the Seabee base in Gulfport a few weeks before. She made us eat breakfast under the table that morning. I remember it being fun and an adventure, especially when the oak tree began losing branches.

She used to make the most wonderful dresses for us girls but she for ever had to repair mine. I exasperated her because I was a tom boy and tore those dresses climbing fences and trees. There are so many other memories. I remember one time when she went fishing. She had two poles lying on the pier. Before she could grab it, one pole was dragged into the water by a fish. She grabbed the other one, reeled it in and then recast it. After about 4 or 5 times of reeling and recasting, she actually hooked onto the other pole in the water and managed to lift it back up to the pier. She then reeled it in and wouldn’t you know it, the fish was still on.

Her greatest gift to each of us was to allow us to be who we were meant to be. She encouraged us in our endeavors and was pride of us.

But her greatest gift was the gift of laughter. My childhood was woven with the sounds of our laughter. And so it was fitting that her last breath would be a laugh and in her passing, she was still laughing with us.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Dear Little People, A Message From the GOP


Dinki 2011-02-22 09:59:42 AM
In these tough economic times, we need everyone to make a sacrifice. We need everyone to share the pain. We are all in this together, and everyone must be willing to suffer for the greater good. So we are going to make some cuts-

Poor people, we are going to cut food stamps, Medicaid, family services (including Planned parenthood), HEAP, and many if not all other programs that you use.

Teachers, social workers, Police, firemen - we will be cutting your numbers, pay and benefits.

Students (and parents of students), we will be cutting financial aid (and of course the above mentioned teachers).

Veterans, we will be cutting veteran services, health care and mental health assistance.

Disabled people, we will be cutting support services and staff used to provide those services.

Senior citizens, we will be cutting social security and Medicare, along with assisted living support and the above mentioned HEAP.

And finally, for the wealthy, we will be cutting your taxes. Everyone has to give up something in these trying times.


P.S. for our corporate friends, we will not just cut your taxes, but also cut many of those rules and regulations also. We appreciate your sacrifice.