A Quick Question…

When did Russ Ortiz get traded back to the Giants, and why did nobody tell me?  I loved that pitcher ever since his debut; he’s a workhorse.

Oh yeah, and the Twins are still great, even if they only managed to win a couple games in the past week and a half.  Owning the Mariners is a good way of getting out of a slump.
Baseball is good for the soul.

A Small Renewal…

On Monday night, a pair of very powerful storms blew through our area.  80 mph wind shears, two inch hail, some flood and tornado watches, knocked out power, lightning and thunder, the whole kit and caboodle.  I really wanted to get out and see it, but my wife made me stay in the basement with her and the off their rockers cats.  The boy was actually staying the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s, and wound up sleeping through the whole thing.

It was exciting, and I was glad that I smartly did not water my lawn that day.  Actually, even though I have free water and an in-ground sprinkler that works occasionally, I refuse to water too much.  Most of the summer, we have been in a drought, and I let the lawn get yellow while neighbors were forcing the green.  I figure the plants can actually take being not watered for a while, and it’s good for them.  Then they’re not used to having daily doses of water, and when a big rain finally comes, it won’t drown them.
Our neighborhood at least wound up barely touched by the storms.  Other places saw lots of unfortunate action, but we got some rain, a little hail, and winds that didn’t even destroy the wind-susceptible dying tree in my yard.  As exciting as it would have been, I’m glad we didn’t get damaged.  Not much in this world would seem dumber than replacing glass on my rust bucket vehicle.
Following the storm, though, the rest of the week has been mild and beautiful.  And green.  Our world has been a little cleansed and woken up.  I feel like I’ve had the same renewal as well.  After over a week of no soda, my headaches are gone and I don’t feel so groggy in the mornings.  Of course, not being sick as a dog has helped that too, and not hurting when I speak is also a nice treat.
I’d still been antsy for the first half of this week, because it was leading up to an ultrasound last night.  Michelle and I were able to go together, and we were able to finally see the fetus and its heartbeat.  We couldn’t quite hear it yet, and I know Michelle would have really liked that reassurance, but I’m a happy camper.  She’s now seven weeks along and finally feeling sick, so I really think we’re in the clear, and I tell you, that’s a huge weight off my mind.
What was also great about last night, is that our neighbor was able to help us by watching the boy for a while.  She has a four year old boy of her own and the two of them are school chums.  She also teaches there, so she knows our boy well.  Living only a couple doors down makes it all very convenient, and she was able to relax a bit too.  The boys had dinner and played well together, and Michelle and I were able to talk to another actual adult in our home.  It was a lovely change of pace and it finally feels as though we’re progressing in our lives out here in the ‘over.  Of course, now all our boy wants is to go play with his friend.
So now it’s a beautiful Thursday morning.  I’m writing while sitting in my backyard, watching my boy turn into an Iguanadon (he knows a vast array of dinosaurs and their attributes) and roaming around the yard, roaring and eating leaves off my ash tree.  It’s not a bad life at all.  But I am eager to get back to work and teaching.  While most will disagree with me, I think summer vacation is too long and the school year is too short.

Ding Dong, the Devil’s Gone…

Karl Rove Quits

Now, I don’t condone what he did, but I also don’t give him full credit.  The realignment of the Republican party on almost solely religious and cultural grounds began its success with the Richard Nixon election campaign in 1968.  It was how he beat the Solid South out of being Democratic since the Civil War.  Mr Rove, though, was a part of maintaining a Republican majority across the board for over a decade.  Of course that changed in the past few years when people started thinking with their pocketbooks again (I don’t think the Democrats won, I think the Republicans lost their other, and far more principal, small-business, small-government, small-taxes base.)
Still, of all that’s happened, only one image springs to mind: rats fleeing a sinking ship.  So many of the primary staffers, and even more of the behind-the-scenes I’m sure, are quitting, resigning, or being asked to leave.  If I was in their shoes, now would be a great time to desert a lame duck, hoping that the awful that is guaranteed to happen in the rest of the decade will erase from our collective short-term memory their actions.  Lord knows being prosecuted for one’s actions would be a terribly unfair act.
What amazes me, and I have to remember, that back in 2000, had I had the opportunity to vote, I would have voted for President Bush.  After all, the man backing him, and the rest of his associates, were old veterans of classic world diplomacy since Nixon (who I still argue was our last qualified President).
(Found via Andrew Sullivan and attached is a great article by Scott Horton).
This is who I would have elected. It is most definitely not who is currently holding office.
So I bid, well, not farewell, but… um… I don’t know.  Not goodbye.  Not farewell.  Not even a cheeky ta.  Ah, I know, a curt bye.  I bid a curt bye to a man who manipulated the poor and the ignorant, who destroyed how many view good Christians, and a man who I will not forget.  I will not let history vindicate this man.  Bye.


Heretical Thoughts about Science and Society
By Freeman Dyson

Here is another heretical thought. Instead of calculating world-wide averages of biomass growth, we may prefer to look at the problem locally. Consider a possible future, with China continuing to develop an industrial economy based largely on the burning of coal, and the United States deciding to absorb the resulting carbon dioxide by increasing the biomass in our topsoil. The quantity of biomass that can be accumulated in living plants and trees is limited, but there is no limit to the quantity that can be stored in topsoil. To grow topsoil on a massive scale may or may not be practical, depending on the economics of farming and forestry. It is at least a possibility to be seriously considered, that China could become rich by burning coal, while the United States could become environmentally virtuous by accumulating topsoil, with transport of carbon from mine in China to soil in America provided free of charge by the atmosphere, and the inventory of carbon in the atmosphere remaining constant. We should take such possibilities into account when we listen to predictions about climate change and fossil fuels. If biotechnology takes over the planet in the next fifty years, as computer technology has taken it over in the last fifty years, the rules of the climate game will be radically changed.

When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories. Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet. When we are trying to take care of a planet, just as when we are taking care of a human patient, diseases must be diagnosed before they can be cured. We need to observe and measure what is going on in the biosphere, rather than relying on computer models.

Selling the First Amendment…

It has been a regular debate in my mind the past month as to whether or not to renew my subscription to the Wall Street Journal.  I love the paper, but hardly get a chance to read it daily, and usually only skim what I can before someone calls my name and I’m off to save the world yet again.  Plus, with money being the necessity to feed and clothe my son (I still say kids should just be wrapped in towels until they get to school age) those things might take precedence over my reading tidbits of one of the last good news sources in the United States.

Now since reading and watching Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp’s buyout of Dow Jones and, most importantly, its newspaper division.  While I am sure it was a tough decision for the Bancroft family that owns the majority of Dow Jones, I think it will be an even tougher decision for the millions of Journal readers whether or not to renew.  It is for me now, and I get a huge discount.
A big question about the Bancrofts is ‘do they really need that much more money?’  It was already a profitable business, albeit not in the realm of billions upon billions, but quite securely profitable by any measure.  It is a bit of a sad testament that every person has their price, and with my family to provide for, my morals might be a little loosened as well.
Another is, did they sell out journalistic integrity?  The Wall Street Journal, arguably, is one of the last great maintays of American news reporting.  With its specific business and politics scope, people assume it does not really apply to them, but it touches everyone’s lives, even my little one up here in the north.  Really, what part of an American’s life isn’t touched by either government actions or business plans?  Disney and Wal-Mart matter to us all.
But being an island of a business among the massive conglomerates of the world made the Journal special, and made it free.  Free to act and report as it sees fit, and really, its free enterprise has served it well.  Even when the world is turning away from print and even television media, Dow Jones is still turning a profit on its own.  It had to follow no other greater business plan beyond its very own.
That freedom is something it should not lose.  Having clean sources of news in the wireless world is a rare and valuable commodity.  And I will miss the Journal when it gets absorbed into whatever viewpoint sells.
Mark my words, my dear readers (both of you), that the Wall Street Journal will someday, most likely sooner than later, be tainted by Rupert Murdoch’s grimy hands.  It will be slow and imperceptible at first, but in the coming years, it will be hard to find that which doesn’t follow his views on each page.  Hopefully the terms that the Bancroft family insisted upon will at least keep it from looking like the crazy of Fox News.  I dread Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter printed in the Journal.  Those maniacs and their ilk need to be as far from authority and clout as oil and water.  That awful scenario might be more slick than one would think.  Since the opinions and editorials tend to have a more conservative tilt than the rest of the paper, that is where it would start slipping in.
Worst of all, I fear that this great newspaper will become another one of Mr Murdoch’s whores.  What all his tabloid papers and cable channels really do is pander.  That’s all giant conglomerates do.  Put out garbage that looks nice enough initially to buy into.  Some would argue that news and journalism work alongside all other forms of media and entertainment that it makes them just another choice.  But that is a rather dim view of the importance news and press have in maintaining a free society.
There is a very good reason that freedom of the press is in the very first of our Bill of Rights.  We citizens need a free press to help us keep an eye on the government (not necessarily be the ‘fourth branch’) so we may participate or even revolt if necessary.  If the press is not so different from watching videos on YouTube or voting for American Idol, then we do not even deserve our freedoms.
I still hold out a small hope that the Bancroft family will realize what they sold and renege on the deal.  I have a feeling that is why Mr Murdoch offered so much far and beyond the current stock value: so no one could buy it away.  I have hope, but then, I am a fool for hope.
Worst, though, I see Aldous Huxley and George Orwell in a great intellectual clash right now.  It is a battle in which there is no victor.

As of Late…

There have been other reasons for my lack of posting lately: I can’t seem to write a full thought anymore.  By the time my mind finally puts itself into a place where a topic has formed enough to explore, something comes up.  Even just now.  Always, something breaks, some timer goes off, some chore must be done, someone’s yelling at my from across the house, or some dumb animal gets themselves into trouble.

In that last paragraph, for example, Austin complained about me moving the ottoman, my sprinkler timer went off, the laundry needed to be switched, and Puma cornered himself behind the armoire.  I don’t even know how Puma got his stomach through the small gap between the furniture and the wall.  He’s a pudgy cat.
My mind is all over the place regularly too.  I can’t keep things in my head anymore, so I remember things piecemeal.  Little chores, emails that must be sent, work to be done.  I can no longer fit an actual list of things that get done.  I know I need to start writing to do lists down, but I can’t remember to do that either.
To top it off, I do feel like quite a failure and a bum for the summer.  I haven’t written, and work has been less than sparse.  What I thought I had did not pan out to be as extensive, and by the time that realization came around, it was halfway through the season and past the time for getting decent work.  Now we’ve pulled Austin out of daycare for most of the week, now going in three mornings a week.  So of course, I’m even less productive.  Partly it is my fault, since I refuse to let him sit before the television and become just another dull and rude child.
Oh yeah, and along with Michelle’s restrictions, I am doing my best to cut out alcohol and caffeine from my diet.  The alcohol is easy, it’s the caffeine that is the tough one.  I have already failed so many times in the past month that I am on only the start of day three of no Mountain Dew (my only real caffeine source).  The headaches, lack of energy, and irritability sucks to deal with, particularly when I really want to set a good example of being a level-headed fellow for Austin.  So I still may falter today or the next, I don’t know.
Sorry for all the complaints.  I’ve just been venting.