26 July 2012

Goodbye, old dog

My first very clear memory was of joy.  I recall that I felt wanted and part of something.  She held me in her arms and I looked at her.  I watched her as she watched me.  I suckled.  In that vivid picture I have no real way to describe what I see.  You see, I had no words so I had no way to describe my experience only pure memory.  But I see that picture.  I see her hair as it shined in the bright light, her face glowed as she smiled, and she made soft noises that comforted me.

I can see her eyes bright and feel her soft touch on my cheek.  And she looks happy.  I wish everyone could feel as welcome as I did.  Then the image drifts away.  Sometimes I long for those moments but I know those emotions are fantasy.  There are two types of regret one for those events that happened and one for those things that will never be again.  In my mind the regrets of moments I wish endured forever but are instead are transient are the most taxing regrets; they weigh me down because I know that with each breath I near my own end.

"Bupa, tell us more about your mommy, bupa, please."

She was a striking woman.

Ohh, I'm sorry, the pain, ooh, sometimes I will stop to moan I hope not to scream, ooh, don't mind me little ones ... it will pass ...

Now, there, see, it's gone. 

She was a woman of the highest character.  She always told me, "You are my little chocolate drop; no one is sweeter than you. "  I knew she meant it too because she kissed me constantly.  I was eleven years old, just beginning to feel independent, I had a girlfriend.  We would do our homework together.  And one day mother came in she couldn't help it she said.  "As cute as a drop of chocolate," she said and she kissed me all over my face, so many kisses.  I didn't care. I wanted more.  But the girl - my girlfriend - she was embarrassed.  Her face was red.  And mother brought us lemonade.  That was how it was with mother.  She was, as they say, a carefree waif but one of the soundest character and strength.

Sitting next to me one day she held my hand.  "Ach du lieber Gott, what will you be with yourself?" she wondered aloud as was her nature.  I had brought home my final report card for the sixth grade, another with all top scores.  I am not boasting.  I worked extremely hard for top of the class.  Mother would allow no alternative but I did not resist.  I wanted to make her as happy as she made me.  She sang softly each time I brought home my final marks cards.  Today was no different.  She loved to savor the moment.  She would make tea and add cinnamon to mine.  We'd sit and sing songs, talk about tomorrow and yesterday.  Then suddenly she'd tear open the envelope. "Ach du lieber Gott," she'd coo.  Strangely she would repeat the phrase when I'd be in trouble, too.  For if I did not clean my room, she'd exclaim, "Ach du lieber Gott! What will become of you?"  So I remember it well.  She kissed me as she was wont to do when she was pleased with me.  And I wished school were not on recess so I could earn high marks on the next tests.   Unlike many of my friends I loved school; I wanted to do well and I wanted to please. It was for this reason I studied and worked hard.  It did not come easy for me.  I never understood the faith of math but science and experiments were natural to me.  I realized that I was drawn to practical, utilitarian thought.   Later this would seem so remarkable to me because my mother was a dreamer and my very best friend.  But at that time, when I was a child, it all meant so very much to me.  My world was school and my mother.  I was so small and yet so large and proud.  I felt the center of the world was there in my home; my whole world revolved around her. 

That was her character. She was strong and devoted.  She remained that way through the war.  She became a walking skeleton.

Ooh, pain ... ooh ... please, pass me those pills there.  Yes, thank you. 

Now children you must come back later.  I am dying and I need rest now.  When you come back I will tell you about when I drowned in the old Brook pond.

Remind me later.  The pain is coming now.  Go quickly; take this money; bring us some ice cream for after supper.  Then I will tell you more.  Run along now, run ... along.

What is all of this about?  Why are we born to be put through so much misery?  If only all this could amount to something bigger, something unbelievable.  If only we could be unique.  But the real spectacle of our short lives is that it trickles down to a few disparate memories and growing pain - pain of dying, pain of forgetting and remembering.

I will close my eyes and there will be nothing or I will close my eyes and find myself in another world.  This is the only real mystery.  I cannot help think that one of these times I will close my eyes and reopen them to see her face, young and bright, her hair shining, and I suckle.

14 July 2012

Zune beats the iPod‏

From:Steve Ballmer (Steve.Ballmer@microsoft.com)
Sent:Sat 7/14/12 1:09 PM
To: Spinoza


From:  Spinoza
Sent: Friday, July 13, 2012 4:25 PM
To: Steve Ballmer; Bill Gates
Subject: Zune beats the iPod

Dear Mr. Ballmer and Mr Gates,

I know that Microsoft finds itself in a tough fight for supremacy with Apple, a new position for a revolutionary company.  I have two suggestions for MS.

Here they are:

The Zune is a better machine than the iPod. 

But not many know it.


Because the iPod successfully created an invasive program that could interact with and in the MS DOS platform. 

The Zune then created a rival platform after the fact.

Here's a better alternative.  Everyone who sees my Zune actually expresses adoration for it.  But they won't buy one.  They'll buy a new iPod.  They'd rather use iTunes than the Zune software.  Now, I think they're crazy but I also understand.

Here is where people stay interested in the Zune:

What if the Zune's interface was Windows Media Player?  Suddenly everyone's looking again.

That would be the key!  No new software to download, automatically link to all of your library.  It's brilliant.

Now I've grown used to using the Zune software instead of Media Player.  But it really makes no sense.  There are people using PCs who have downloaded iTunes. 

I think Microsoft really should focus on the Zune. 

Then get NFC compatibility in every new machine produced.

Game over.

Anyway, you're welcome to use these ideas.  They're totally free of charge just like Hotmail. 

Thank you for Hotmail.



On Repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Sent Wednesday, July 11, 2012.  No response as of 7/13/12

Representative Sensenbrenner,

I would like to try to understand why our House of Representatives has decided to spend an entire day voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

It seems to me that our country has bigger issues to deal with especially when we consider that most OECD member countries offer their citizens coverage comparable to what our elected officials receive.  In the US, however, perhaps one of the wealthiest nations in the history of civilization, our elected leaders refuse to look after the welfare of the people and instead expect the poor, the indigent, the uneducated, and everybody else to navigate the intentionally convoluted terms of private insurance companies that are out to maximize profits rather than offer medical coverage.  

Would it be so troubling to our elected officials if the type of medical coverage we, the people, provide for them, the people's representatives, were to be extended to us, the people?

Instead, it seems that our representatives would like to debate a law that has been passed and upheld by the highest court, and offer the public as a viable solution to the recession "voodoo economics" again - an economics system that does not work.   As we see today, luxury items sales are on the rise even while our economic woes continue to cascade millions into the pits of impoverished despair.

To me, and many others in this country, it would seem far more applicable to the people for elected officials to be more concerned about the levels of concentrated wealth over the past 40 years.  

In many countries, there are caps on executive pay.  It seems that the time has come for what Thomas Paine would have described as the necessary evil of government intervention.   When a society fails to function well on a fundamental level, we require government to intervene.  It is a fundamental truth of our Constitution that government provide for the welfare of the people.   This very central idea to our republic may be far more worthy to debate than attempting to repeal a law that many Americans need because they are living with pre-existing conditions and cannot get healthcare coverage without this legislation.

What we ought to be focusing our attention on in this country is reducing our military budget, an astronomical $700 billion, and its impact on the rest of the world, and rather concentrating on domestic development.  At no time should a child in the United States go without food nor should monetary gain take precedence over people.  That seems to be utterly reprehensible and immoral behavior from a country founded by great thinkers.

Shouldn't Congress be focused on raising the quality of life for all the citizens of the United States?  Afterall are we not the people written about in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  I would venture to guess that we are.

Voting for the repeal of a law that has already been enacted and deemed to be constitutional by the Supreme Court and also in many ways beneficial to many Americans seems utterly wasteful when a plethora of other challenges face this great nation.  

If there is a valid explanation for this time-wasting, I am sure I would not be the only citizen interested in hearing about it.


13 July 2012

On Diplomacy with Iran

As of 7/12/12 I received no responses from Senator Johnson or Rep Sensenbrenner regarding diplomacy with Iran.

To Senator Kohl in response to letter of 7/10/12 sent on 7/12/12:

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

While I appreciate the argument against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons capability and the danger that this presents to our allies in the region, I cannot agree with the approach we have seemingly unanimously decided as the best approach in our efforts to convince Iran to cease their nuclear development programs.

Sanctions and threats of war will not prevent nuclear scientists, many of whom have been trained in the west, from experimentation with nuclear reactions nor enrichment processes.  Indeed, threats and sanctions, while harming the Iranian people, may add fuel to the regime's fire against the west's so called "soft war".  The safest way to eliminate clandestine development is for greater exposure.  This is better achieved with wider visibility than with darker bluffs of violence.

As a matter of historical contention, I would also indicate that the nuclear Safeguards Agreement Iran signed in 1974 has remained honored even though 1979 witnessed the removal of the Shah's government and the rise of the Islamic Republic in it's stead.  The agreement with the IAEA according to Iranian officials has not been broken. 

Further, IAEA reports do not indicate that the Safeguards Agreement has been breached.  The reports only indicate that the agency cannot provide "credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."  The reports go on to point out that progress has been made toward resolving issues.  As you know a negative conclusion does not prove a positive assertion.  Although the IAEA cannot assure the global community that Iran is not developing weapons grade uranium, the IAEA cannot affirm that Iran is.

To many Americans, the last IAEA report was optimistic in its promises of cooperation by the Iranian government.

It's disheartening that US foreign policy for the duration of my life has come down to threats and coercion.  I recall vividly GW Bush referring to the Axis of Evil - immediately ceasing open talks toward diplomatic agreements.  I would hope we could break the cycles of violence we seem to be so stuck in as a country.

I also think that Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan or Libya.  They are far better equipped for war and have the ability to close the Strait of Hormuz.  Any acts of aggression by the US would lead to large numbers of fatalities and may lead to a wider conflict.  I do not believe the US would actually follow through.  Thus, I believe threats of open war against Iran are vacuous and reckless bombast.

Our goal for Iran should be to reemploy the US embassy closed now for over 20 years and reinvigorate US-Iranian relations.  This will never happen when threats of war cloud the air of open communications. 

In regards to the assassination attempt on the Saudi Arabian ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, there has been no evidence of a direct connection between those charged and the Iranian government.  It may be as similar as the connection between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers of the planes used in the World Trade Center attacks.

I would hope that our elected officials could exercise restraint and courage in order to cease the drum of a military campaign.  Instead the alternative path of peace is before us.  Let's venture toward peaceful negotiations and the best solution for secrecy is open accessibility.



Response from Senator Kohl 7/10/12:

Dear Mr. Bellin:
I appreciate your thoughts about U.S. policy toward Iran.  As you know, tensions between the United States and Iran have run deep for many years, and these tensions have only worsened recently. 
In 2008, the UN Security Council passed a resolution requiring Iran to cease all uranium enrichment and suspend its nuclear program.  The Iranian government did not cooperate, alleging that it was pursuing a peaceful, civilian nuclear program.  A November 2011 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cast doubt on this claim, and since then, international negotiations have broken down.  The United States and the UN Security Council have imposed numerous sanctions on Iran, particularly on its energy and financial sectors.  Most recently, Congress voted to sanction Iran's central bank, a measure I supported.
On top of this, there are widespread concerns about Iran's support for extremist groups throughout the Middle East.  The Iranian regime also has a dismal record on domestic human rights and brutally suppressed the type of popular demonstrations that swept through the region in 2011.  Other recent incidents include government-sponsored mob violence against the British embassy in Tehran, as well as an ill-fated plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
The Obama Administration is carefully evaluating the situation in Iran and is exploring all possible options.  It would be highly destabilizing for a fundamentalist regime like Iran to successfully build a nuclear weapon, and we cannot dismiss military action as a last resort.  However, we should do all we can to avoid another violent and expensive conflict in the Middle East.  We have important priorities to address here in America.
I am closely following developments in the region, and I will keep your views in mind when Iran policy comes before the Senate again.  Thanks very much for contacting me.


                                                                           Herb Kohl
                                                                           United States Senator
Response from Rep Moore on 7/10/12:

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me. Your views are important to me. Hearing from constituents like you helps me develop a more informed opinion on legislation and other federal matters pending before the House of Representatives. I would encourage you to check my website, http://gwenmoore.house.gov/ for news on various issues and their progress in Congress.

Again, thanks for writing.


Gwen Moore
Member of Congress

Sent to Senators Kohl and Johnson and Reps Moore and Sensenbrenner on 6/7/12: 

I am deeply concerned by the increasing prospects of a disastrous war between the United States and Iran. I strongly urge you to support a diplomatic resolution to the standoff and to make clear that there is no Congressional authorization for military action against Iran. 

A diplomatic solution is the only way to prevent war and to ensure Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons. I strongly urge you to support legislation in support of these goals, such as the Lee bill (H.R.4173 - the Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act). This legislation would advance diplomacy by lifting the "no contact policy" that bars U.S. diplomats from speaking with their Iranian counterparts. It would establish a special envoy to lead direct talks with Iran on issues like human rights, Afghanistan, and the nuclear program. And it would make clear that there is no authorization for war with Iran. 

Similarly, I urge you to oppose S.Res.380 and H.Res.568, which would make war far more likely and would obstruct a diplomatic, inspections-based solution. These resolutions effectively call for a military attack on Iran when it obtains a "nuclear weapons capability" -- an undefined term that, by some interpretations, could already apply to Iran and almost any other country with a civilian nuclear program. Congress should not stake questions of war and peace on such shaky foundations and contradict the Commander-in-Chief's existing red line by passing these resolutions. 

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently declared war with Iran would be a "catastrophe." Military and civilian leaders have unanimously echoed this assessment and cautioned that a military attack would ultimately make it more likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons. War would also dramatically increase gas prices and hurt our economy. And Iranian human rights leaders have warned that war would severely undermine the cause of human rights and democracy in Iran. 

We can avoid this catastrophe and resolve the standoff with Iran without going to war. Indeed, U.S. and Israeli intelligence agree that Iran has not decided to actually build a nuclear weapon. But to prevent war, leaders like you must stand against the slow march to war and support diplomacy. 



09 July 2012

Bill Moyers on our Plutocracy

Right on, Mr. Moyers.  This cat's got it and it ain't a fictional HBO show.  Maybe just the voice the Occupy movement needs ...