Friday, June 10, 2011

The Death of NATO?

In his bluntest warning in nearly five years as Pentagon head under two US presidents, Gates announced that Washington's fading commitment to European security could spell the death of the 60-year-old alliance.
                       Excerpt from the Guardian - June 10, 2011


Has the life of this alliance run its course? Where will America stand without Nato? What will our European allies do without a military tie to the United States? Will only going "cold turkey" force Europe to understand that only together we can make the world safe for Democracy? Are we returning to our isolationist past? Are we going back to being the sleeping giant that needs to be reawakened? This article presents many questions to me. As I reflect, I will find even more.


Most of us worry only about what we directly affect and what directly affects us. We do not worry about what is happening in the next state or certainly a state that is a thousand miles away. We are generally even less concerned about happenings in nations thousands of miles away. Unfortunately, we need to be aware and concerned because events both far and near affect us. 


The statements of Secretary Gates are not new. Most likely, his remarks will flow into the dust bin. America and Europe will continue to drift apart. A dream is that his remarks will spur action. Hopefully, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic understand the importance of our joint military strength as a force for good. Together we need to discuss Nato's continuing purpose and its function.


To read the entire article go to the following url:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/10/nato-dismal-future-pentagon-chief

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Self Promotion

Is it ok that I get to show off my 5 seconds of fame? Barry Mannis, an AIPAC National Board Member, honored me before 10,000 AIPAC attendees in his speech introducing Senator John Thune of South Dakota. You have to get through nearly 2 minutes of advertising for next year's AIPAC Policy Conference to get to the beginning of the introduction. Needless to say my head swelled for the credit given to me. Do I deserve this credit? I would love to think so but there have been many people who deserve credit for helping Senator Thune understand the unique US - Israel relationship.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Prediction

The White House announced today that President Obama will address the AIPAC Policy Conference this Sunday. The President has  rocky relations with the Pro-Israel community. As he looks to his Jewish supporters from the 2008 election, I believe that he will hold out an olive branch to the 1000's that will be at the speech. Many members of Congress from both parties are pushing the President to free Jonathan Pollard. My prediction is that he will announce during his speech that he will commute Pollard's sentence.

Obviously, I do not have any inside knowledge about this. The odds are certainly against me but I believe that President Obama has to do something special to excite this audience. I do not believe that he is coming if not to do something extraordinary. The AIPAC Pro-Israel activists will not be satisfied with words. Actions are important. This is one action that will sway the crowd and Pro-Israel activists everywhere.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Double Standard

Am I missing something? Where are the human rights group that want to deligitimize Israel for her treatment of the Palestinians? Where are the Western governments that demonize Israeli actions against people who bomb and shell them but only call upon the Syrians to be nice to her protesters?

Today we see the following headline by Reuters,
Ban Ki-moon urges Syria to halt arrests, let in UN

GENEVA May 11 (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Syria on Wednesday to halt mass arrests of anti-government protesters and to heed calls for reform.

In March 2010 we saw the following headline and quote from the International Middle East Media Center,

Ban Ki-moon Condemns Israeli New Settlers' Houses In Jerusalem
Wednesday March 10, 2010 16:10 by Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMC News

The United Nation secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, condemned the latest Israeli decision to build 1,600 new settlers homes in East Jerusalem.

You could say that I took these out of context and from limited sources. Fair argument until you Google "condemns israel" or "concerned syria."

To me, you must conclude that building houses is worse than imprisoning protestors or murdering people in cold blood. Israel gets global condemnation for building houses while the Syrians roll tanks into their cities, machine gun innocent civilians and arrest and imprison non-violent protesters. Israel is obviously held to a different standard.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Is Anybody There?

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make any noise? Syria and Iran seem to know that it does not. They have expelled all outside news reporters. Since there is no one there to report on the massacres of innocent civilians, the outside world does not notice or seem to care..

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Israeli Star Wars Operational

If you can remember ancient history, President Reagan in the 1980's proposed an American anti-missile missile system. The system took on the name Star Wars after the popular movies of that name. For many reasons both good and bad the idea has been mostly abandoned.

Because of the Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead against Gaza in 2008 with the thousands of rockets being fired indiscriminately into Israel by her antagonists, Israel decided to invest in its own anti-missile missile systems. Thanks to financial assistance from the United States and Israeli technological prowess, Iron Dome became operational today. The system shot down a Katyusha rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Star Wars worked!!

For the article in the Jerusalem Post, please go to the following url:
http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?ID=215635&R=R1

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mechanical Engineer Explains the Secrets of the Wiffle Ball

I know that I have not blogged in quite awhile. Maybe this article will get me going again. To think that the mechanics of a wiffle ball are important with all that is happening today in the world seems trivial. It is but we always need something to liven us up. Jenn Rossmann obviously takes the dynamics of this seriously. I just remember how that ball moves crazily. I never thought of why and probably never will again.


Enjoy the article, if you care to.


http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/02/st_alphageek_ballistics/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wired%2Findex+%28Wired%3A+Index+3+%28Top+Stories+2%29%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1984 Revisited

From: xcurmudgeon.blogspot.com

This article from Wired Magazine turns the conventional wisdom of the internet advancing freedom on its head. I do not know who is ahead in spying on their people but it seems all governments read our social inputs and listen to our phone conversations. If you read my blog you are already in trouble.



Why the Internet Is a Great Tool for Totalitarians


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Murphy's Law

Amazing what little tidbits of trivia you find when reading about brewing beer. This piece is included in John Palmer's book, How to Brew. I never knew where Murphy's Law came from so I thought this was interesting. I hope you do as well.

Did you ever wonder where Murphy's Law came from? Well back at work there was a photocopy of a short article from one of the aerospace trade journals on the wall of my friend's cubicle. It went something like this:

Captain Murphy was part of an engineering team out at Edward's Air Force Base in California. Their team was investigating the effects of high gravity de-accelerations on jet pilots back in the 1950's. One of their tests involved strapping a test pilot into a rocket chair equipped with strain gages and other sensors to help them quantify the effects of high G stopping. The responsibility for the placement of the various sensors was Capt. Murphy's. Well, the test was run (subjecting the pilot to something like 100 G's of deceleration) and he got pretty banged up.

Only after it was over did the team realize that of all the possible combinations of placing those sensors, Murphy had done it in the one configuration that resulted in useless data. They would have to run the test again. Upon realizing this, Murphy stated, "If there are two or more ways of doing something, and one of them can result in catastrophe, someone will do it that way." Upon hearing this the team leader said, "That's Murphy's Law." The next day at the test de-briefing the team leader shortened it to the now famous, "If anything can go wrong, it will." Murphy still likes his version better.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Real Ale Brewing, Handcrafted Ales from the Texas Hill Country

Brewing beer is my hobby. I enjoy brewing. You combine several ingredients, none of which you would consume on its own, mix them together, allow Mother Nature to process and produce a wonderful food. Yes, food and not a beverage. Budweiser, Miller, Coors and the like are beverages, barley pop. Good beer is food. Good beer has taste, aroma, calories, vitamins and active yeast.  The ancients considered beer a food for the masses.

Because of my interest, Deb and I drove to Blanco, Texas to Real Ale Brewing, http://realalebrewing.com/home, while I was visiting Austin. Real Ale was my first tour of a working microbrewery. I was impressed.

Before the tour, Real Ale lubricates you a bit. Deb, I and about 15 others congregated in their tasting room before the tour. We sampled many of their beers. My favorite was the Rio Blanco Pale Ale. This beer was smooth on the palette and a little hoppy.  Deb liked their Porter. We enjoyed all of their beers except one, Mystereum Verum – The Kraken. This beer is their barley wine, cask conditioned in wine barrels. The alcohol in the beer strips the wine residue from the oak barrel. I am not saying it was a bad beer. The Kraken was just not for me. 

Well slightly inebriated, we took the tour. I was fascinated. Tim, one of the brew masters, took us through their whole process. All of the technicalities presented might bore you. They interested me but I am into the process. Two highlights of interest are they do all they can to recycle and re-use as much as possible. The spent grains from the mash, after the sugars have been extracted, are used by local cattle ranchers for animal feed. The water used to chill the wort, now heated, is utilized in their next batch for brewing. Second, Tim paid great homage to the brew masters at the mass consumed beers. To paraphrase him, “They are great brewers to so consistently produce flavorless beer.” From the silo at the beginning where the malted grain is held to the bottling and kegging equipment at the end, I was wowed.

Before we left, Deb and I sampled of our favorite Real Ale Brews one more time. This tour was a great experience. Sadly, Real Ale only sells beer in Texas. Until they expand to South Dakota, I will find excuses to go back to Texas to enjoy their great beer.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Author and Professor: Dr. H.W. Brands

On a whim just a week before I left for Austin, I contacted Dr. H. W. Brands, http://www.hwbrands.com/, author and professor of history at the University of Texas, about possibly meeting him while there. Graciously he accepted my invitation and suggested that we meet for breakfast at an Austin classic, Austin Java.

Being a University of Texas history major, gives me additional reason to enjoy his books. I previously met Dr. Brands when he spoke at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Sioux Falls in 2004. By coincidence, I discovered two of his books, Lone Star Nation and The First American, just before the festival. The topics of these books, the birth of Texas and Ben Franklin are two of my favorite subjects. His talk in Sioux Falls was on an upcoming book on Andrew Jackson. Following his talk, he signed my copy of Lone Star Nation and we talked briefly about Austin and UT.

I do not know what Dr. Brands was expecting when he agreed to meet with me. Deb and I greeted him around 8:30 am. I did not bring books to sign or a written agenda. In my mind, I had two specific questions about his books, but mostly, I wanted to get a feel for his style, his opinions and his future books. You, also, have to understand that I am very jealous of people that are very knowledgeable and extremely articulate because they have so much to offer. As you can see from this blog, I am neither. In fact, I usually tell people that English is my second language and that I do not have a first.

To begin, we talked about North and South Dakota. He is on the advisory board of the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University, Dickinson, North Dakota. Dr. Brands has a basic understanding of East River versus West River as we know it in South Dakota. We discussed the new oil finds in North Dakota and how they are pumping large funds into North Dakota state government coffers. I told him about Hyperion Oil’s proposal to build a refinery in southeast South Dakota for oil from the Canadian Tar Sands. I presume North Dakota oil will find its way there, if the refinery is built.

So much for the ice breaker. We got down to talking about his books. He talked about a couple of books that are to be coming out next year but I will leave that for another time. Dr. Brands picked up on technology when I mentioned about listening to his books as well as reading them. Accordingly as an author, he considers digital formats such as Kindle or Nook and spoken formats as well as print when writing today. While the author and publisher have absolute control over how the words and pictures appear on a printed page, in digital format they have no control. The device owner chooses the font size and layout on their device. In the spoken or story format paragraphs lose their importance. He is very excited about the spoken format. Stories have been the way to pass information for millennium. Writing is a relatively recent invention. While I am aware of all of this technology and use it, I never contemplated how they differed from printed material. I do not know how a writer meets these challenges effectively in the same work.

We last discussed my questions about his books. Probably no one is interested in knowing why the Americans mostly settled between the Brazos and Colorado Rivers in Texas and did not colonize further south into present day Mexico. Or why Dr. Brands does not believe Masonry influenced Benjamin Franklin? His answer on the Americans in Texas convinced me. The area where they settled was fertile. Going south the soil quickly becomes very poor. His answer on Masonry left me thinking about which came first, the chicken or the egg. Ben Franklin was a person who did good deeds. Did he become a Mason because joining the fraternity was the popular thing to do? As we know, many of our founding fathers including George Washington were active Masons. Masonry teaches doing good deeds. Or by joining was he validated in doing those things? I want to think that Masonry was at least a partial influence. Being a Mason undoubtedly affects my judgment.

I want to thank Dr. Brands for taking the time to meet with Deb and me. This breakfast was truly one of the highlights of my trip. I look forward to reading his future books as well as several others that I have not yet read. I hope that when my travels again take me to Austin I can call my friend, Dr. Brands, and absorb more of his knowledge.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Give Till It Feels Good

I was on a conference call this morning as a member of the Projects Committee for the The Network of Independent Jewish Communities which is part of the Jewish Federations of North America. We were  asked by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as JDC or the Joint) to contribute $300,000 to assist elderly, poverty stricken Jews in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Documents have been circulating amongst the members of the committee for a week or so and today we had a presentation by several staff members from JDC. Following their presentation, we went into a closed session and unanimously passed providing this money. I have been associated with the Network for a long time but I can say today that I really feel good about the work that we do. Today, my small contributions along with many others are doing their part in Tikkun Olam or the Jewish commandment to repair the world.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Austin or Bust

Last week, Max, the wonder dog, and I took a road trip to Austin, Texas to deliver some goodies to daughter Deb, husband Josh and Stella the pug. After an overnight with son, Dave, wife Tina, grandson Drew and goldens Phog and Cooper, we headed for Austin. We hoped to escape, at least for a few days the cold and snow of Sioux Falls. 

Needless to say, this was a fantastic trip. Usually one dreams about a trip and the actual trip while great does not live up to the expectations. On this trip the events exceeded what I dreamed.

I left Sioux Falls earlier on Wednesday than originally planned because of potential weather. After a short 6 hour drive, I was in Lawrence, Kansas at the home of my children. I got to watch a little Sponge Bob with Drew and then it was out to eat with the family. We enjoyed just the usual typical quiet evening at dinner. We were home early to sit around and visit and play. Finally we were off to bed for an early start for the trip to Austin.

By 6:30 am on Thursday, we hit the road. Max just snuggled into his blanket in the back seat and I had an easy drive down to Fort Worth. We made a quick stop to visit with my high school best friend Robert and then back on the road to Austin.

As we drove into Austin, she lived up to her reputation for traffic. If the traffic were normal, the trip should take 3 hours but we were lucky in that it only took us 3 and a half to Deb and Josh’s house. For me Austin is about food. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, El Chile. Their cuisine was a bit different than my usual Tex-Mex. My enchiladas were fantastic.

Friday was just more than I could have expected. Before I left Sioux Falls, I emailed author and Professor of History at the University of Texas, H. W. Brands. He was kind enough to have breakfast with Deb and me. I cannot tell you what an enjoyable hour that we talked. I greatly enjoy his books and his insights on various topics were remarkable. I will hopefully write more about Dr. Brands in another post.

Breakfast was followed by taking my car in to have some service work and then we were off to lunch. Deb and Josh took me to one of their favorite places, Rudy’s Bar-B-Q http://www.rudys.com/. I was surprised that I really liked it. Let’s see. I had a little (or was it a lot) of sliced brisket on a sandwich and some smoked sausage. All of which was washed down by an IBC Root Beer. God it was good.

We said good-bye to Josh. Poor fellow had to go to work. Deb and I had decided to explore another passion of mine, brewing beer. Online we had found, Real Ale Brewing in Blanco, Texas http://realalebrewing.com/. Off we went the 50 miles to Blanco for the beer tasting and tour. Real Ale Brewing was just another great experience.

After a couple of hours in Blanco, we headed back to Austin. We got home and played with Max and Stella. Josh came home and then we were off to our next food establishment. A year or two ago, I saw a program on Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dive’s on a bar in Austin, Casino El Camino http://www.casinoelcamino.net/. Guy Fiery showcased the bar’s Amarillo Burger. Well, I wanted to have one. Fortunately, Deb and Josh agreed to indulge me. All I can say is that it was very good, just not fantastic. I would go back again however.

After a six thousand calorie day, we went home for a little TV and to bed. I needed my rest for Saturday’s excitement.

Believe it or not, Saturday began with food. We started with breakfast at the Counter Cafe http://www.countercafe.com/. My Breakfast Tacos were excellent. Of course you are supposed to start the day with a good breakfast and that is just what we did. Then we returned home. Josh went to work out and Deb and I just vegged.

When Josh returned, we headed to our next local to gorge ourselves. We headed for Smitty's in Lockhart, Texas http://www.smittysmarket.com/. Lockhart has been voted the Barbecue Capital of Texas by the state legislature and I have been going there since my student days at UT. Smitty's is the original home of Kreuz Market but after a split in the family changed its name. The barbecue is still out of this world. I only had a little for lunch. Let's see, a half pound of smoked brisket and a hot ring of sausage. Oh don't forget the Coke to enhance the meal.

We ended the tour with a drive through the UT Campus. The campus is obviously a great deal larger than when I graduated 37 years ago but I don't remember all the buildings that seem to have been there when I was. I did see some familiar ones which flooded my mind with super memories. Nostalgia is great.

We ended the day with ice cream from Amy's http://www.amysicecreams.com/2.0/#/home/. The Belgian Chocolate ice cream was just over the top. Can you believe that I wasn't hungry for dinner. Well after a relaxing evening with family and the puppies, Max and I turned in. We were up early for what turned out to be an 1100 mile drive on Sunday to return to Sioux Falls.

As I began, this trip went beyond my expectations. As you can tell, I love to eat and I went to one of the culinary centers of the world. Probably, it is a good thing that I don't live there as I would certainly weigh 300 pounds. But Austin is a wonderful place to visit. Maybe next time I will do the music scene for which Austin is famous as well.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Middle East Problem

Below is a video from Dennis Prager on "The Middle East Problem." I am so jealous when some people are so articulate that they can condense a seemingly complex subject into a short coherent statement. In the movie, 1776, Thomas Jefferson describes the reason for needing a document for the Declaration of Independence rather than just a motion similarly. Jefferson states the need, "To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent." I believe that this short video by Mr. Prager does just that. Please take the time and watch the video. As always, comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Israeli Pranksters Embarrass Iran

Photo by Google Earth

After over 30 years, a Google Earth photo reveals the Star of David atop Iran Air's headquarters. The symbol of the State of Israel must have been put up there during the time of the Shah. I find it humorous that it took an American company, Google, to reveal this artwork to the ayatollahs. The prank reminds me of the high school rivalry between my high school in Fort Worth, R. L Paschal and its main rival Arlington Heights. The two schools used to pull pranks on one another during homecoming week. The schools considered it vandalism when one school painted its colors on the other but the damage was minimal and usually done with good humor. I doubt the ayatollahs are laughing at this one.

The news of this event is covered in the Jerusalem Post. The article is entitled Google Earth reveals Star of David on roof of Iran Air HQ. 

For the entire article, please go to the following url:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beer - A Thanksgiving Tradition

From previous posts, you may know that I am a homebrewer and a history major. Somewhere I missed learning that our Pilgrim ancestors may have stopped at Plymouth Rock because they had run out of beer. This article presents the view and then dismisses it but leaves one with the knowledge that beer has been important to American history. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and toast it with a nectar from the gods - beer! 

From the article:
Brooks on Beer: The pilgrims, Thanksgiving and beer - San Jose Mercury - 11/24/2010

Legend has it that the Pilgrims decided to settle at Plymouth Rock, instead of continuing south to Virginia as originally planned, because they had run out of beer. There is a grain -- barley, perhaps -- of truth to the story, as evidenced by the oft-quoted "For we could not now take time for further search our victuals being pretty much spent especially our beer."

For the entire article:

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Find Causes Italy to Claim Jerusalem

Absurd that Italy would claim Jerusalem for its own? At least the Romans governed Jerusalem unlike some groups who claim her for their capital today.

Today it was announced that Israeli archeologists discovered an ancient Roman legion bathing facility in the Old City of Jerusalem.

If you are interested go to the article:
http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/roman-swimming-pool-found.html

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Education - Are We Finally Getting It?

Our education system continues in a downward spiral. This opinion piece by Tom Friedman of the New York Times gives me some hope. I come from a prejudice that our system is just a baby sitter for both teachers and students. We talk about the importance of education but reality shows that we are only paying it lip service. Performance seems to be dropping especially when compared to the rest of the world. Maybe Secretary of Education Duncan recognizes fundamentally what needs to be done. If the quote below is an indication, I salute him.

“We have to reward excellence,” he said. “We’ve been scared in education to talk about excellence. We treated everyone like interchangeable widgets. Just throw a kid in a class and throw a teacher in a class.” This ignored the variation between teachers who were changing students’ lives, and those who were not. “If you’re doing a great job with students,” he said, “we can’t pay you enough.”

For the entire opinion piece by Mr. Friedman, go to:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coming soon to a store near you!

I just read this short article and found its possibilities amazing. Will we find this material at the grocery store or the clothing store? Maybe both!

Cheap Carbon Cloth Can Zap Toxins, Kill Bacteria
http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/11/cheap-carbon-cloth-can-zap-toxins-kill-bacteria/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+GearFactor+(Blog+-+Gadget+Lab+(Gear+Factor))&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Monday, November 8, 2010

Is the Palestinian Authority a Partner for Peace?

I came across this little article from Palestinian Media Watch and just thought that it is worth noting and sharing.  Just a short article to remind people of the partner with whom the Israelis are negotiating.


From the article:
"Contrary to the PA's moderate statements to the West, its statements to its people in Arabic continue to delegitimize Israel's existence, deny Israel's right to exist, define the conflict with Israel in religious terms, promote hatred through demonization and libels, and glorify terror and violence:"


The link to the article:
http://palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=3503



Sunday, November 7, 2010

Interesting - A New Chinese Invasion

What implications does this article in today's (November 7, 2010) New York Times hold for America? Are these young Chinese planning on staying and getting jobs upon graduation? Are they going to be Americanized and take our values of freedom and democracy back to China? How is this experience going to affect them and can they bring China and America closer together?

The article does not answer my questions. It just brings them to the forefront. The article is long but I believe worth the read and thinking about its potential.

From the article:
After a year, Ms. Liu believes she is less of the quiet-Asian-nerd stereotype that she had felt followed her through Yale’s Gothic hallways. Now she wears makeup, raises her hand in class, and has a different perspective than her friends in China, according to whom “I’m contaminated by American culture and not Chinese anymore.”

Perhaps most unsettling to Chinese students is the robust activist culture on campus, where young Americans find their voices on issues like war, civil rights and immigration. In China, protests are illegal and vocal dissent forbidden, and on sensitive topics like Tibet and Taiwan a majority are in lockstep with their government. It can be especially painful hearing Westerners condemn China after growing up steeped in propaganda blaming the West for the suffering before Communism.

With China becoming a world power and so many American high-tech companies investing in China, I was under the impression that our great universities had taken a back seat to the Chinese. Maybe this is not the case. One thing that is obvious to me is the importance that these students' parents place on education. As heavy as the cost burden is for families here, without government assistance the cost for a Chinese family must be staggering.

For the entire article, click on the link below.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/07/education/07china-t.html?_r=1&ref=us

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oldest beer found on this day in 1992

From Wired's This Day in Tech





As a homebrewer, this article is a great reminder that I am following a tradition that goes back at least 5000 years. In today's world of change at the speed of high tech, I find comfort knowing that some things are just too difficult to improve upon. Great beer is just great beer! For all of my friends (I don't have many), and with those whom I have shared my efforts, enjoy the article and as Charles Papazian says in his book The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, "Relax and have a homebrew!"

http://www.wired.com/thisdayintech/2010/11/1105nature-5000-year-beer/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+wired/index+(Wired:+Index+3+(Top+Stories+2))&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It’s About Change

Wow, what an election; what a roller coaster ride. The excitement, the scares, the thrills are over and both the politicians and the public are back on earth. The time of yelling and screaming, of laughing and crying, of eyes wide open and eyes tightly shut ended. We must return to the real world and get to work.

In both South Dakota and the America, the people sent a strong message to our politicians. The message’s content is not a secret but I fear that our elected officials will not understand the message. The people voted for Change! Rather than continue playing the gotcha politics of the past, we want our government to work. Politicians need to find common ground. We want our elected officials to address the numerous problems facing families and Main Street. We want solutions that everyone can see and understand. We do not want secret deals to buy the votes. When the President tells us that Congressional committee hearings on health care should be held on C-Span, we expect that to happen. When the Speaker of the House tells us that any bill relating to an issue will be online for everyone to examine for at least 72 hours prior to their voting, we cannot understand why that simple promise does not happen.

The problems facing our country are enormous. Maybe they are too large to expect our government to solve. The number one issue is the economy. (Remember from past elections, “It’s the economy, stupid!”) Well having thrown trillions of dollars at the problem, unemployment stands at 10 percent. Economists are talking about a double-dip recession. Rather than calling the opposition ideas idiotic or dead on arrival, maybe both sides should sit down and seriously attempt to address the problem.

Health care is next. I already see that the Republicans are stating that they are going to repeal it. My opinion is that is not what the American people want. We want a system that is affordable and understandable. If the Republican leadership believes they can just throw it out, they got the wrong message. Even if a House bill were to pass the Senate which is doubtful, President Obama would certainly veto it. Why not examine what we passed this year and fix it to what the people want. To do that, Republicans and Democrats must work together. Talk about change. Can you imagine that happening?

My next issue is the deficit. Working class Americans understand the notion of a balanced budget. We understand that we cannot continue to borrow and borrow and borrow. We are leaving a huge burden on our children and future generations. Together our politicians must examine our budget figure out how to get back to balance and then to pay down our debt.

Lastly and the one issue who long term impacts our country the greatest is education. Like all of the other problems listed and those that are not, this one truly seems unsolvable. We have so many causes or maybe excuses as to why we cannot make our education system the absolute best in the world. We are losing out to so many countries that do not have the resources that we have. The big difference is they understand that education is the great equalizer. America, both the people and our leaders need to get that message.

We have a great deal of work to do in the next 2 years. If you listen to the political rhetoric of the campaign trail and even last night, our politicians admit that we have tremendous challenges but they tell us that we are bigger than them. If our legislature and executive branches do not meet them head on and soon, in 2012 we will likely see a new group of politicians heading to our state and national capitols.

To those who won yesterday, congratulations. Enjoy the euphoria of the ride that you just took for a day or two. Then get to work with an understanding that you represent more people than those who voted for you. The problems we face confront all of us. Those who voted for you and those who voted for someone else are proud of our democracy. We still have hope in our system of government. We hope for change in the way business is done. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, this is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That would certainly be a change.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Plentiful, Inexpensive Green Energy

The title of this blog post must be oxymoronic. The title is impossible. Solar, wind, and other green energy technologies are more expensive than our dirty coal, CO2 emitting natural gas and waste producing nuclear power plants. Last January, I posted a blog on Thorium. Frankly, I had forgotten all about it until an article, I just came across on Israel21c.com. Two scientists, one from Israel and one from the United States, are collaborating on a Thorium reactor. I recalled my previous post. I wanted to know more about this material and what we are doing to investigate it. The Wired Magazine article was so convincing to me, I felt there must be something wrong with the technology. You know when something seems too good to be true it usually is.

Needless to say, I am not a nuclear engineer or an electrical engineer or a scientist. I am just a small business owner. Our government and many social activists, talk about Global Warming and making our environment better. We have clean air laws and clean water laws. In the last congressional session a Cap and Trade Bill on carbon emissions was discussed. Because of waste by-products and potential meltdown, nuclear energy never seems to be seriously discussed. From my simplistic understanding, Thorium takes these issues off of the table.

Why are we waiting? Much of the rest of the developed world is not. Obviously, Israel is working on this. In my investigation, Russia, China, India and France are also. I would be surprised if others were not working on it as well. Apparently, Russia is working with an American firm and licensing its technology.

We need a huge push to get us started. Our leaders need to start leading. My guess is that there are several special interests that will work to poison this technology. The first group would be the coal companies. If Thorium reactors live up to even half of the potential represented, coal powered plants will be extinct dinosaurs in a decade or two. Natural Gas companies for many of the same reasons would be the next powerful group to be against these reactors. Lastly, even the utility companies themselves may line up against Thorium. They understand present technology, why change?

Below are listed several articles and websites on Thorium. If you are interested in learning more about this elements future, please look at these. If you Google “Thorium” you will find much more information. I look forward to any comments and please feel free to share this and any other information with friends and colleagues.

My original blog on Thorium with its link to the article in Wired Magazine.
Self-sustaining nuclear energy from IsraelIsrael 21C
Thorium Energy Alliance
Lightbridge Corporation – Nuclear Energy for the 21st Century
Energy Cheaper than from Coal
Lightbridge Enters Into Strategic Agreement With Russia-Based SOSNY
India to build prototype thorium reactor

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

South Dakota Budget Crisis Solved

Because of the economic impact that our university system has on the state, I propose that the state of South Dakota give all of its money to the Board of Regents. I do not know anywhere else we can get over a 1000% return on our investment. Just imagine how much our sales tax revenues will increase and the number of jobs that will be created.

Public universities generate $1.97 billion a year to South Dakota's economy, from a state investment of $176 million. That's 5.3 percent of the state's gross domestic product.
                                                                     -From the Argus Leader - September 21, 2010

To view the entire article, go to:

Unfortunately, the Argus Leader only keeps its articles posted for 7 days.

Sioux Falls is Number 1! AGAIN!

Our look at the best small American cities for business and careers is chock full of locales between the two coasts that offer low business costs and strong employment prospects. Leading the way for a seventh straight year is Sioux Falls, S.D. Credit business costs that are 26% below the national average, low crime rates and an economy that is expected to expand 4.1% annually over the next five years. Another enticement: South Dakota does not levy individual or corporate income taxes.


For the entire article go to:

America's Best Small Cities For Business And Careers


http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/americas-best-small-cities-for-business-and-careers

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rosh Hashanah 5771

As I sat in services during Rosh Hashanah this past week, my mind wandered as I listened to the prayers. When I heard he words Day of Remembrance, I was stirred. Somehow this small group of people whose influence on civilization over millennia seem to forget that we are all connected. All Jews who survived the Shoah knew that they were connected. The Nazis would not let them forget. They did not care whether a Jew was Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Secular or your family had converted to Christianity a generation or two before. They did not care whether a Jew was married to a Jew or non-Jew. A person meeting their qualifications was lower than human and a virus to be expunged. Following that horrific tragedy, we found that we are One people. The fate of the smallest of us is connected to the fate of all. Why after only 65 years do we not remember and understand that simple fact?

Why can we not remember Torah or what our prophets and sages said? Just a few quotes I recall. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:8. “What is it that the Lord your God requires of you? To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord your God? Micah 6:8. The story of the pagan who tells Hillel he will convert to Judaism if he teaches him the entire Torah while he stands on one foot. Hillel responds, “Do not do unto others what is hateful to you. All the rest is commentary. Now go and study.” Such straightforward precepts, that even I understand. They must be for some other group, not for us.

I know that I have previously blogged on the “Blind Men and the Elephant.” Maybe my thoughts here are similar. We Jews all have the same body of writings to teach us. Jewish tradition teaches us that debate is the proper forum to air our ideals. Instead of challenging ideals, we denigrate our opponents. We cast them as less than equals. Liberal Jews cast the Orthodox as evil fundamentalists and the Orthodox cast the Liberals as apostates. Rather than acknowledging that each has a large following and finding areas of cooperation, we prefer to fight.

What does it mean, when we say in our prayers the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? If the perfect view of God were so simple, we would say the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Midrash teaches us that each of our fore-fathers had a slightly differing view of God. Why should we be different? I am not asking any Jew to accept any other’s view are 100 percent correct. I ask only that they treat others with dignity. If we cannot make peace with ourselves, how can we continue to survive as a people? This is not the first time in history that we have bickered and attacked one another. Jewish historians blamed the destruction of the Second Temple and the Jewish dispersion into the Diaspora on similar actions. Wake up, O Israel, before such a calamity or worse befalls us.

As we begin 5771, let the piercing sound of the Shofar awaken us to our dilemma. I pray that we work together to insure that we continue as a people another 4000 years. In the outside world, we have great antagonists who promise our destruction. If we continue our self-hatred and demonization, we only assist them. If we embrace each other as brothers and sisters and stand united, no outside force can harm us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First, Deal With the Enemies of Peace - Khaled Abu Toameh








The major threat to the peace process is not an Israeli checkpoint or a new housing project in a West Bank settlement, but the threats coming from the evil forces in the Gaza Strip, Damascus, Beirut and Tehran.

For the remainder of the article go to:


I have previously posted some articles by Mr. Abu Toameh. Because of his background, he brings an interesting perspective to the Israeli - Palestinian Arab Conflict. I hope that you will take time to read the entire opinion piece.

Below is a short bio.

Khaled Abu Toameh
Journalist

Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is a veteran award-winning journalist who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades. He studied at Hebrew University and began his career as a reporter by working for a PLO-affiliated newspaper in Jerusalem. Abu Toameh currently works for the international media, serving as the eyes and ears' of foreign journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Abu Toameh's articles have appeared in numerous newspapers around the world, including The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report and The Sunday Times of London. Since 2002 he has been writing on Palestinian affairs for The Jerusalem Post. Abu Toameh has also been working as a producer and consultant for NBC News since 1989.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Must Be a Military Target

Mortar shell hits near school 30 minutes before class




No injuries reported at Sha'ar Hanegev kibbutz; building, only reinforced at the roof, sustains light damage; studies to continue as usual.


For the entire article:

http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=187532

Friday, September 3, 2010

Three Words

Just a little plug for my alma mater. Hook 'em Horns!