Dressing the Emperor

July 30, 2014

As the co-founder of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore recently noted in a keynote speech at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change, that there has been, “no global warming for nearly 18 years.”

One wonders when political leaders will have the guts to stop labeling their own constituents who disagree with the dogma of “climate change” with the pejorative term “deniers”.

One non-scientist politician, trying to hold the political line on climate, says, “Science is science.”

However, a real scientist, Richard Feynman, said this:   “If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”

Once, there were people who denied the Holocaust.  Using the same terminology for those who disagree with the politically charged “science” surrounding Global Warming is disgraceful.

Fact is, climate IS change.  Always has been, and ever shall be.

Instead of intimidating people to accept a certain dogma, it’s time we cooled the hysteria, even as we in North America are experiencing one of the coldest summers on record.

Local Leadership

July 26, 2014

Looking back, the biggest difference in the aftermath related to 9/11 and Katrina came down to people.  In the former case, George Pataki and Rudy Giuliani were at the helm, while the latter debacle was facilitated by Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin.

Very recently, Mr. Nagin was convicted on 20 of 21 criminal charges involving things like wire fraud and bribery, with the levy of a 10 year sentence in Federal prison.  Yet, during the infamous hurricane, CNN protected Nagin and presented him as the beleaguered mayor who was being let down at the Federal level.  Everyone on site at the time seemed to know this was a ridiculous portrayal, but for some networks, disasters are to be framed, not dispassionately reported.  This goes a long way to explaining why the largest rescue effort in our history, successfully effected by the US Coast Guard, went broadly unnoticed.

Truth put aside, the notion that the primary victims of Katrina were poor was promoted by Larry King. In reality, the Los Angeles Times would come to publish the fact that the majority of those who lost their lives were middle class.  Indeed, the last individual my team recovered was in the backyard of a fairly palatial home not very far from the French Quarter.  Adding insult to injury, while Anderson Cooper allowed the mayor to boldly declare that the Convention Center was all cleaned up, recovery operations stationed there, just a few miles away, did so amidst left-over accumulations of human waste.

Hampering reasonable rebuilding strategies by introducing a crude concept of race, Nagin referred to New Orleans as a “Chocolate City”, politicking for the restoration of neighborhoods lying 20 feet below sea level that never should have been built to begin with.  The fact is, Mother Nature is color blind, and flying in the face of certain disaster isn’t a matter of ethnicity, it’s a matter of irresponsible, pandering stupidity.

Contrary to common sensibility, our national well-being is actually a matter of local management.  We are a Republic where State’s rights matter, the National Guard is under the Governor’s control, and FEMA is not a first responder.  Fundamentally, we are in the hands of our nearby police, firefighters, EMT’s and municipal staff.  If these folks are competent, we’ll be OK, but if, like Ray Nagin, they are manifestly corrupt, it’ll take a while before the Feds can offer a remedy, whether or not the media covers the facts. In the meantime, untold damage can be done.

The Early Church held the view that as Christians we need to respect those in authority.  Therefore, incumbent upon the men and women who hold office is the responsibility to be respectable in the exercise of their governance and power.  Personally, I think we have some fine people presently serving my small town.  The professionals and the volunteers who make our community go are the infrastructure of real health that we have a right to expect, and dare not take for granted.

So, we all need to offer our support in this critical endeavor, not only with our prayers and thanksgivings, but also with ourselves.  I believe the local Church is the most critical component in any village or city, and so the community in which we live isn’t just where we’re located.

It’s where we’re placed to serve.

Shuttle Diplomacy

April 29, 2014

What with the Ukraine encroachment by Russia, followed by the diplomatic sanctions levied by the Unites States, our decision to scuttle the Shuttle is set in a stark new light.

The US built the International Space Station, and the Space Shuttle was the best operational vehicle for blasting humans into orbit (still is, by far).  Under the current administration, the Orion program was nixed along with the Shuttle fleet.  The old was tossed aside with the new!  A novel approach to be sure.

Presently, we have nothing available to ferry American astronauts to the orbiting platform we designed and assembled.

It’s amazing how the shortsightedness of some policies becomes blatantly manifest.

When a US crew needs to get into space, it now has to be on a Russian rocket.

With Vladimir Putin doing the countdown.


AND AN UPDATE:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10828964/Russia-to-ban-US-from-using-Space-Station-over-Ukraine-sanctions.html


O’Reilly O’Wrong

April 4, 2014

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”    ♦The Gospel According to Luke

In reference to his bestselling tome, “Killing Jesus,” Bill O’Reilly told 60 Minutes that on the Cross, Jesus could not have said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He based his claim on the sense that, because of asphyxiation, such a statement would have been impossible.  Or, if it was spoken, it couldn’t have been heard.

Yet, in the same book, O’Reilly allows the possibility that at the very end, Jesus declared, “It is finished.”

Naturally, sound logic makes it likely that if someone at the end of an excruciatingly painful ordeal could speak, they should well be able to make intelligible utterance earlier on.  That’s not a religious wish, it’s just blatantly obvious.

What’s more elusive is the fact and faith that someone, anyone, under any circumstances, could extend mercy while nails were being mashed through their skin.  Yet, this “someone” wasn’t just anyone.  He was, and is, the Son of God.

Therefore, we must ask, if Jesus, the innocent victim, unjustly undergoing the most extreme emotional, physical and spiritual duress, was able to offer forgiveness for his direct tormentors, why is this salve for sin so difficult for many Christians to render apart from themselves?  Why do we still sometimes have trouble hearing and imparting the Lord’s words, even now?

Is it because we give assent to our Creeds, but can’t believe the affection?  Is the reason behind this that we retain some joy in being saved by holding onto the assumption that some others must be damned?  Perhaps, because we were sometimes scared toward Heaven, we are clung to in conscience by dusty, medieval notions of Hell.

Regardless of the root cause, while the Scripture clearly says God has “not counted their trespasses against them,” we commonly insist on keeping score.

In the end, as at the beginning, from a forensic/theology standpoint, the petition of forgiveness offered by the One paying for all sin wasn’t based in an ability to breathe.  It was always founded in an eternal and miraculous power to love.

Good Friday and Easter tell everyone that this Divine embrace, alive before the beginning of the world, cannot be killed.  The only question left behind for those who know and believe this Good News is whether or not it will be shared.

For if it is freely affirmed, it may then be fully heard.


March 30, 2014

Back in the day, I sold cameras for Macy’s while attending grad school. I loved doing this because I’d gotten an Olympus OM-1 as a college graduation gift, and photography was a passion.

This was also the time when nearby brick and mortar photo shops were starting to feel the pressure of big-city volume sales dealers operating successfully with no customer service personnel, but decidedly cheaper prices.

I remember selling a Minolta XG-M outfit to a customer, after spending an hour explaining the in’s and out’s of still photography, so that the desired purchase would be somewhat matched with competent use.

Upon completion of the sale, the customer said point blank that if she found the same gear in NYC for less, she’d be returning everything to Macy’s.  I informed her that indeed should could find a lower price in Manhattan, but the advice she’d received, for nothing, wouldn’t have been available.

The following week, the outfit was returned, for full-credit, and the mail-order, volume pricing won out.

Fast forward to Milford Photo, a brick and mortar establishment that manages to provide competitive pricing AND quality customer advice and service!

The huge mass merchants of “gear” have their place, and I use them too.

But the ability to shop locally and effectively still matters, and in an internet, Amazon world, Milford Photo, in Connecticut, has found a niche others would do well to emulate.

They don’t just sell the equipment, they share the love of the art.

Thus they have survived, and, indeed, thrived.







March 15, 2014

It is now being reported that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was deliberately diverted from its planned flight path, most likely indicating bad intent enacted on-board.

Perhaps the aircraft was purposely or even inadvertently crashed.  It is also entirely possible that the plane was landed, with a motive for using it and the passengers for purposes yet unknown.  Certainly, we would hope that for whatever reason, Flight 370 survived its disappearance.

Recalling the initial mystery in the events of 9/11, people couldn’t fathom that individuals would deliberately crash a jetliner into a building.  Prior to that, it was assumed that hijackings meant ransom demands, not suicide plans.

Truth is, sometimes good people can’t quite fathom what evil individuals are capable of.  It’s not easy for many of us to exercise sinister imagination.

In some ways this is a fine thing, but it does leave us a tad vulnerable, and one assumes the investigators looking for the missing plane will consider all possible motives related to the disappearance.

The families of those on that flight must be enduring tremendous anguish amidst the uncertainty, and I hope their loved ones will yet be found alive and unharmed.

The unknown is acutely painful, but as yet, it still leaves some tangible glimmer of hope.

It’s very sad when strong intellect is used for distorted purposes.  Yet good people can be just as creative as anyone bent on criminality, and those who are working overtime to solve this mystery may well need to do so by choosing to fully consider things they would never want to fathom.

Mayor Katrina

February 14, 2014

I remember working out of the Convention Center in New Orleans, immediately following Katrina.  The city was totally evacuated, and we were recovering the remains of folks across the region who’d perished during the storm, or following the failure of the levees.

The Convention Center itself was a cesspool of leftover and congealed human waste, and it was pretty obvious that ever thinking one could use that place for emergency shelter, in the summer, during a power outage, was a huge mistake.  It was actually a series of dangerous bungles made by the city at that fateful time.

Concurrently, CNN allowed Ray Nagin, the Mayor, live access as he proclaimed to whoever watched CNN at the time, that the Convention Center was all cleaned up, and that people should start coming back to New Orleans.

Irresponsible to declare, and perhaps even more irresponsible to broadcast without further enquiry that would only have necessitated a 10 block walk to where teams were stationed on a daily basis, from 7AM till dusk.

In one large expanse of the same venue, several Cadillac Escalades were parked, having been “recovered” by the NOPD.  The real story is they were stolen by members of the same organization so they could evacuate their own families.  Then, when they were no longer required, they were returned as “recovered”.

At the time, everyone knew about the widespread corruption that completely undermined a credible city and state response to Katrina.  CNN had their own narrative blaming the President, and even though that was provable nonsense, they stayed on that angle for the duration.

And now Mr. Nagin has been convicted on 20 counts of bribery and fraud.

I wonder if the handling of his administration by some in the press made him seem and feel invulnerable to scrutiny.  He sure was sacrosanct during our nation’s worst natural disaster, even as he ranted and railed against those who actually had zero jurisdiction.

For a time he got away with a great deal.  But the people he was responsible for lost at least as much.

He is not the only one to blame.


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