A-1

Tuesday, 1 September 2015 15:43
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
Things I Did Not Know

There are Interstate highways in Alaska.

A friend of mine was off to get the old teeth cleaned -- and Facebook's location cheerfully provided a map:

Clearly, more investigation was required...

Now sometimes maps get things wrong. Or the labels aren't sufficient. I've seen Grand Rapids downtown maps marked with I-296 where US-131 goes between I-96 and I-196. But we've been down here since the early 90s and I've never seen an I-296 marker. Turns out -- both are right:
Interstate 296 (I-296) is a part of the Interstate Highway System in the US state of Michigan. It is a state trunkline highway that runs for 3.43 miles (5.52 km) entirely within the Grand Rapids area. Its termini are I-96 on the north side of Grand Rapids in Walker and I-196 near downtown Grand Rapids. For most of its length, the Interstate is concurrent with U.S. Highway 131 (US 131), which continues as a freeway built to Interstate Highway standards north and south of the shorter I-296. The highway was first proposed in the late 1950s and opened in December 1962, but the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has since eliminated all signage for I-296 and removed the designation from their official state map. The designation is therefore unsigned, but still listed on the Interstate Highway System route log maintained by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).


Nor did I know that I-196 was once US-16, or that I-196 and I-96 designations were flipped:
The US 131 freeway was officially opened at 10 a.m. on December 17, 1962, between Pearl Street and (at the time) the I-196/US 16 freeway north of downtown. This freeway section encompassed all of I-296, which would connect I-196 north of town with I-96 downtown.[1] (The I-96 and I-196 designations were later flipped west of Grand Rapids.[10]) M-37 was relocated in Grand Rapids to utilize I-96 around the northeast side of town instead of I-296/US 131 in 1969.
This was presumably during some of the realignments to route the major trunk lines out of downtowns in some area? Or maybe just so I-96 would become a Muskegon-Detroit corridor, while I-196 would be a bridge between I-96 and I-94. (The early maps of Michigan's Interstates look very different than what we've got today.)

Growing up as a student of maps (DW) (LJ), the Hawaiian Interstates (H1, H2, H3) all on the island of O'ahu were always special. I mean, it wasn't like there weren't Interstate highways wholly in a single state (I-4 in Florida) or ones with letters (35E, 35W, 80N, 80S and even 69E, 69C and 69W near the Mexican border -- Texas has always been special). But the Hawaiian roads were magical -- out of reach of the casual driver. And they are "real" Interstate freeways, with signage (see below) and everything. There was a plan for H4, but they were cancelled.



However, there is a fourth Hawaiian Interstate -- H201. The Moanalua Freeway has been known as Route 78, but while designated an Interstate in 1989, it didn't get the Interstate shield signs until 2004. Why? In part because of the "inability to render the new route number in a legible manner (it is necessary to use the thinnest font to render the number, and the shield is wider than the standard Interstate shield)". Gee, only two widths of signs for 1- and 2-character Interstates and 3-character Interstates? It would kill you to make a wider shield? (shaking-head-grin) There's a part of me who thinks they missed a great opportunity -- they could have designated this auxiliary Interstate as H20 instead of H201. "H-two-oh", get it? Cause Hawaii is surrounded by... Oh forget it. Never mind.

Ahem.

So, back to Alaska. Turns out that there are four Alaskan Interstates (A1, A2, A3, A4). 1,082.22 miles. Some are freeways, some are two-lane highways -- they do not have to be built to full Interstate standards. Now, I can sort of see the Fed's idea here. Interstate highways mean something. But... Hell, A-1 beats H-1 by meeting up with the Alcan Highway and the Canadian border. An international crossing is as good as a state crossing in my book.

And certainly out east there are some miserable roads grandfathered into the Interstates. I-70 squished into the tunnel into Wheeling WV. The old I-40 through Winston-Salem NC. Many of the freeways and even toll roads in NY, PA, etc. Some have gotten downgraded designations, especially after newer bypasses were built -- Business I-40 in Winston-Salem now, for example -- but other places there just isn't room in the old built-up areas.

And then there were the two-lane interstates. I-95 in northern Maine I've been on, where they built half the Interstate, except for the overpasses and some of the exits. And they had 24-hour headlight rules, wide lanes and much wider shoulders. You could even pass. (grin) Great fun. Best two-lane road I've ever been on. And the old West Virginia Turnpike, had sections of I-77 with two- and three-lanes through the mountains. The new I-77/WV Turnpike is arguably a MUCH faster and safer road, but the old one was FUN and had real charm. (And a tunnel... which shot out onto a bridge from the side of a mountain.) I loved it. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing other two-lane sections of Interstates out west as I pored over the Rand McNally atlases... (ah-hhh, youth)

So personally, I think that Alaskans would embrace their rugged, more manly, Interstate highways. They've earned their shields. Get those signs up!

For completeness, I will add that Alaska was brought into the Interstate Highway System along with Puerto Rico, which has three Interstates (PR1, PR2, PR3) which, like Alaska, are unsigned as such and are not required to meet Interstate highway standards in order to receive the Federal funding. No doubt they remain unsigned as much as to stave off consideration of Puerto Rico as a "state", if it had Interstate highways. (evil-grin) NOTE: I am not dissing Puerto Rico by using such a tiny PR1 shield marker here -- the Wikipedia article on Puerto Rican Interstate highways doesn't include the same sized shields at the others. I had to use a tiny .PNG from a table. And it looked terrible blown up 3x to a comparable size. Not enough pixels.


So there you have it. All these years I thought there were Interstates only in 49 states. Now it's 50 states and 1 territory. Though to be truthful, the two added areas are in name only. Even if Google Maps seems to think otherwise.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

Revolutionary

Sunday, 5 July 2015 01:50
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-13)
Ah, the annual watching of 1776.

The movie version of the terrific musical play is a near perfect thing, with a stellar cast, very quotable lines and wonderful songs. There's some compression of characters, and "stuff", I'm sure. But as a discussion of the sausage making of a country, it is a worthy companion to the brats and potato salad of the day. Frankly, there really aren't many movies about the Revolutionary War, so it's no wonder that the faded single page document isn't better known or understood, let alone the Revolution or the first century of our country.

So, History Channel is doing Sons of Liberty right now. I can't help but think they have sexed up the cast. And the actual passage of the Declaration -- and I've only seen a few minutes of Part 3 of 3, mind -- is shown as less contentious. Or in TV parlance, they sped up the end. So they could cut to Washington reading to his troops. If the movie/play is focused on John Adams, it looks like this production zeroed in on Sam Adams. I suppose it's disingenuous of me to be suspicious of the Samuel Adams beer sponsorship... naw, not in 2015...

The Sons of Liberty might, in fact, be less problematic than my first impression. I'd need to investigate further. How old were these men? Did Patrick Henry address the Continental Congress? I shouldn't -- and have not -- felt that a musical should be considered canon. But History Channel simply can't be thought of an authoritative source these days, which is a terrible shame.

Oh... maybe I shouldn't be so generous. A quick Google search produced a lot of snark, so rather than quote the L.A. Times, I'll go with the more incendiary History Channel Presents Laughably Inaccurate 'Sons of Liberty'. (grin)
Okay, it wasn't quite as bad as "Sam Adams: Vampire Hunter" but it was close. I am referring to the History channel's series "The Sons of Liberty" in which the real life Sam Adams, who was a middle-aged portly guy by the time of the opening scene in 1765, comes off as a young athletic urban ninja hopping up to the rooftops of Boston to evade arrest by British troops. And that was just one of the many laughable inaccuracies of the History channel's presentation of the era leading up to the American Revolution.
And that article precarious other sources who end up calling it worthless.

Great. But, it's not like people today need to know any facts.

Anyway, it's after midnight and we are under mortar bombardment from the neighbors. Damned representative government in Michigan thought pulling most of the restrictions on fireworks in Michigan was a good idea. Hopefully the grasses aren't dry enough that they'll burn the house down.

Viva le Revolution!

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

239

Saturday, 4 July 2015 16:15
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-1776)
First, on this Fourth, is a comment on the Third. Two years ago, I heard about an attempt to create a British holiday, Independence Eve, celebrating the Third of July as the last day of British rule in the Colonies. I am amused by this, but it turns out to be a marketing campaign:
British brands, understandably, don't have much to say around the Fourth of July—until now. Newcastle Brown Ale, among the cheekiest of U.K. marketers, has turned America's most patriotic holiday to its advantage by inventing a new, completely made-up holiday: Independence Eve on July 3. The idea of the tongue-in-cheek campaign, created by Droga5, is to "honor all things British that Americans gave up when they signed the Declaration of Independence," Newcastle says.
I remember mentioning this to someone last year. I may be the only person in America still talking about Independence Eve. Though I will point out that in 2015, the Third of July was a Federal holiday. (grin)

Second, yesterday on Independence Eve, we heard a rebroadcast of a Diane Rehm Show about Danielle Allen: “Our Declaration”:
For the Fourth of July: A fresh reading of the Declaration of Independence, and how ideas of freedom and equality have been interpreted over the years.
One of the points Prof. Allen raised was the addition of a period in some of the printed versions of the Declaration -- and used in the Archives transcript I've been using on this blog for a number of years. The handwritten copies do not have this. Early printers did a lot of editing, just as Adams and Jefferson fought over "inalienable" versus "unalienable" rights -- a point made with some amusement in the movie 1776. (grin) I have made the "correction" as I see fit in the text below, as I think the text flows better without it. The period is removed right after "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". ***

We will have to dig out the DVD of 1776 for its annual viewing tonight. Alas, Netflix doesn't have it listed, which would be easier than looking for where we put the DVD. (grin)

So, without further ado...

_______________________


Meanwhile, in a sweltering hot Philadelphia, a Continental Congress did meet and through rancorous debate and terrible compromises, did finally solemnly swear together, unanimously...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett       William Hooper       John Hancock
Lyman Hall            Joseph Hewes         Samuel Chase
George Walton         John Penn            William Paca
                      Edward Rutledge      Thomas Stone
                      Thomas Heyward, Jr.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton
                      Thomas Lynch,Jr.     George Wythe
                      Arthur Middleton     Richard Henry Lee
                                           Thomas Jefferson
                                           Benjamin Harrison
                                           Thomas Nelson, Jr.
                                           Francis Lightfoot Lee
                                           Carter Braxton

Robert Morris         William Floyd        Josiah Bartlett
Benjamin Rush         Philip Livingston    William Whipple
Benjamin Franklin     Francis Lewis        Samuel Adams
John Morton           Lewis Morris         John Adams
George Clymer         Richard Stockton     Robert Treat Paine
James Smith           John Witherspoon     Elbridge Gerry
George Taylor         Francis Hopkinson    Stephen Hopkins
James Wilson          John Hart            William Ellery
George Ross           Abraham Clark        Roger Sherman
Caesar Rodney                              Samuel Huntington
George Read                                William Williams
Thomas McKean                              Oliver Wolcott
                                           Matthew Thornton



The 1823 Stone engraved version of the Declaration of Independence
at the National Archives


*** Last year I noted:
I'm not sure I noticed before that in the first line, "united" is not capitalized. A Ken Burns moment, as he had noted that before the Civil War we said "the United States are..." while after we spoke of "the United States is..."
We can still learn from our history. Happy Birthday US.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
dr_phil_physics: (lesbian-wedding-detroit)
So... The Supreme Court of the United States goes 2-2 over the last two days. And gay marriage is now the law of the land.

I am neither gay, nor lesbian -- or other factions beyond the traditional and oversimplified binary choices. But I have friends who are. And it's 2015. Hell, Ireland of all places actually voted for marriage equality, rather than doing it judicially.

But it turns out that I did have skin in this game.

Because one of the arguments against marriage equality is that marriage as an institution is ONLY about procreation. Which means the 31 years of marriage with Mrs. Dr. Phil isn't considered a marriage, because we have no children.

Justice Kennedy's majority opinion actually addressed this -- that there are many married couples who have no children, whether by choice or not, whose marriages are not defined by children. (I don't have the quote in front of me.)

What this decision does NOT do is destroy the sanctity of church marriages.

We were not married in a Catholic Church... because we were not Catholic.

We were not married in a Baptist Church... because we were not Baptist.

We were not married in a synagogue... because we were not Jewish.

There are TWO ways of marriage in this country -- secular and religious. What this ruling does is open up secular marriages to all. If your church doesn't support gay marriage, don't marry gays. But your religion does not get to tell everyone else what to do. That way leads to madness. We do not have a state religion in the United States. Period.

So... congratulations to all whose relationships are now allowed across the country. Gone are the days where you could be married in one state -- and have your marriage denied in another. Gone are the days where you could be married in one state -- and have the voters decide your marriage is invalid, even to the point of refunding your marriage license fee.

This is as much about death as about life. Gone are the legal disasters that will accompany committed people as they age and die, because now they can get spousal rights if they want.

My marriage is stronger today.

11,488 days later.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal

18,000

Tuesday, 23 December 2014 21:44
dr_phil_physics: (Default)
I don't spend a lot of time following the stock market.

Though I suspect that between NPR news and Marketplace, plus some newspaper columns by the Motley Fool and our NPR station's Saturday line up of news humor shows, I do better than most.

So I was amused to discover that Wall Street just pooped a nice Christmas present on itself, with the Dow closing above 18,000 for the first time.

18,024.17 to be exact.

Googling "dow jones" provided the following screenshot:

Wikipedia has updated its entry on the DJIA:
On May 3, 2013, the Dow surpassed the 15,000 mark for the first time, while later on November 18, it closed above the 16,000 level.[28] Following a strong jobs report on July 3, 2014, the Dow traded above the 17,000 mark for the first time.[29] On 23 December 2014 the Dow Jones industrial average traded above 18,000 for the first time after data showed the U.S. economy posted its strongest growth in more than a decade.
Okay, reality check. Yes, I know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is NOT the stock market, it isn't very industrial any more, it's an indexed average of a changing basket of stocks and it isn't the only index on Wall Street.

But it's famous. People quote it. It's important in that sense.

Okay, this is where it gets weird. Because just last Thursday we were talking to our financial guy, and I asked, was the Dow still over 16,000? And back on the Fourth of July I wrote:
Huh.

Just yesterday morning we were talking to our financial guy, and he made a comment about the Dow. And I pointed out I haven't been following it in a while -- was it still over 16,000?

Well, NPR just reported that yesterday's pre-holiday session had the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceed 17,000 for the first time.
I told you I didn't follow the stock market closely.

Following that pre-holiday theme, we had the week before Thanksgiving 2013:
So on Thursday I posted the following observation on Facebook:

4pm news lead stories: CNBC -- DJIA closes above 16,000 for first time. MSNBC -- the nuclear option in the Senate. FOX News -- McDonald's drops McRib from nation menu, many protest, is Michelle Obama to blame?
Well, you can't say all the news is the same... Dr. Phil

A little over four years ago I noted when "the stock market", i.e. the Dow Jones Industrial Average, broke 10,000+ (DW) for the first time in the recession. At the time I wrote:

Wednesday (14 October 2009) the NYSE surged above 10,000 again and stayed there. Happy days are here again. The Recession's back has been broken. We are on the path to recovery. Well, aren't we?

To some extent, I think the same sarcasm is due.
I missed the May 2013 breaking the 15,000 barrier, probably because I was in the hospital, having just got out of the ICU.

Yay. We're above 18,000. The Dow has jumped 3000 points just since I've been dealing with my heel.

But, as the Dow grows, a 1000 point gain ain't what it used to be. I was in junior high in White Plains NY, just north of New York City when it first topped 1000 points total. It's a matter of diminishing percentages, those thousand point records.

One of the reasons that I am not greatly excited about this, even as I note the historical value, is that it's a game. Sure, business needs investment money. And the value of a stock gives a gauge as to the health and wealth of a company. But past that... Most of the money made on Wall Street is a masturbatory fantasy game that Wall Street does to make Wall Street money. And an avenue for outsiders to come in and "invest" in a company by buying it up and changing that which had given it value in the first place. Chasing the tail of stock prices has fueled most of this raging drive towards short term gain at the expense of long term legacy and long term employment.

It has changed America in so many ways, and not all of them positive. For good or ill, many of our pensions are still tied into this game. And in the long term, it's a money maker. Mostly. But we don't retire in the long term, we're each on different countdown clocks. A lot of people were hurt when Wall Street screwed up the last time. And they're in the process of trying to get some of the controls enacted after that meltdown removed. Because these practices worked so well the last time.

So whoopee, here I am twirling a finger in the air.

It's just another big deal in a string of big deals.

And yet... I'm sure happier having a surging Wall Street than another market crash. If only some of this optimism and profits would actually trickle down far enough to do some good.

Dr. Phil

238

Friday, 4 July 2014 09:32
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-13)
Meanwhile, in a sweltering hot Philadelphia, a Continental Congress did meet and through rancorous debate and terrible compromises, did finally solemnly swear together, unanimously...

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, ***

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Button Gwinnett       William Hooper       John Hancock
Lyman Hall            Joseph Hewes         Samuel Chase
George Walton         John Penn            William Paca
                      Edward Rutledge      Thomas Stone
                      Thomas Heyward, Jr.  Charles Carroll of Carrollton
                      Thomas Lynch,Jr.     George Wythe
                      Arthur Middleton     Richard Henry Lee
                                           Thomas Jefferson
                                           Benjamin Harrison
                                           Thomas Nelson, Jr.
                                           Francis Lightfoot Lee
                                           Carter Braxton

Robert Morris         William Floyd        Josiah Bartlett
Benjamin Rush         Philip Livingston    William Whipple
Benjamin Franklin     Francis Lewis        Samuel Adams
John Morton           Lewis Morris         John Adams
George Clymer         Richard Stockton     Robert Treat Paine
James Smith           John Witherspoon     Elbridge Gerry
George Taylor         Francis Hopkinson    Stephen Hopkins
James Wilson          John Hart            William Ellery
George Ross           Abraham Clark        Roger Sherman
Caesar Rodney                              Samuel Huntington
George Read                                William Williams
Thomas McKean                              Oliver Wolcott
                                           Matthew Thornton



*** I'm not sure I noticed before that in the first line, "united" is not capitalized. A Ken Burns moment, as he had noted that before the Civil War we said "the United States are..." while after we spoke of "the United States is..."

We can still learn from our history. Happy Birthday US.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-13)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (DW).

Remember...

As family and friends gather and picnic, the grills run hot in the heat wave, neighbors threaten to burn down our houses with wild fires started by their fireworks, and we conveniently forget about our fellow citizens without power or serving in faraway lands and seas, it is hard to think about those who toiled to create this nation. Having recently seen The Patriot on TV, we'll probably bring out the DVD of 1776 and marvel at how close it was that America wasn't, and the seeds sowed in Philadelphia 236 years ago which spawned the action in the same colony/state of 149 years and a couple of days ago in Gettysburg -- and not the vampire battle.

A little reflective reading. First SF writer Elizabeth Moon on the disgraceful treatment of an amputee veteran for the sake of politics. Second an interview including Jim Wright, whose blog at Stonekettle Station is must-read material. You don't have to agree with Jim, but he writes reasoned, thoughtful and damned profoundly funny thoughts for adults about where we are and where we're going.

Finally you can click on the link at the top of this post and contemplate all the words I quoted two years ago, not just the sound bite top ten.

There'll be a quiz on this reading in a couple of months. (grin)

Dr. Phil

Yup -- 49 Stars

Thursday, 14 June 2012 16:06
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
Wikipedia Says It Flew From 7-4-1959 to 7-4-1960

In response to a question from a friend, oh yes, there was a 49-star flag. One wonders how rare a real, displayed 49-star flag is?

Of course 7 × 7 = 49 is one of the easier design concepts.

Sources: Wikipedia on The 49- and 50-star unions and illustrations of all the flags.

Dr. Phil

Flag Day

Thursday, 14 June 2012 14:46
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-48)
I've Lived Under Three Flags

Technically. Though the 49-star flag wasn't around for very long. (grin) But I was born before Alaska and Hawaii joined the Union as states, and the current 50-star flag was adopted on 4 July 1960, a couple of months before my second birthday. So the 48-star flag above is "one of mine". I do remember seeing some still being flown into the 1960s, but for the most part the 48-star flag always seems to me to belong to another generation. My generation begat that new-fangled 50-star flag and so far there've been no serious attempts to change that, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Northern California and the Upper Peninsula notwithstanding.

As an American who grew up with the flag, of course it's the flag. I've watched Canada change their flag, and any number of revolutions change the flags of countries 'round the world. But the Stars and Stripes have, with some variety and variation by custom and design, been around for over two hundred years. Having grown up with this flag and seeing it all over the place, it seems "right" to me, but that's a cultural bias and upbringing. I'm sure that those who have served their country, been rescued as Americans abroad, adopted the United States as their new home, been helped -- or hurt -- by the United States abroad, all these people probably have a different and at times more visceral reaction to seeing the American flag.

It still bothers me when I see people displaying the U.S. flag improperly, particularly flags in serious disrepair and distress. But then I've lived most of my life in small towns, where you often find people who think like that. (grin)

If you think about it, this country which has such a history of change, doesn't have a lot of universal symbols. We didn't have a formal national anthem for a long time. Indeed, at times the Battle Hymn of the Republic, America the Beautiful, My Country Tis of Thee and God Bless America have all had prominence even in addition to the Star Spangled Banner. But the U.S. flag is very much a representative symbol, even being the subject of our national anthem. And when the country fractured in a serious Civil War, the Confederacy adopted a flag with many of the same symbols.

Any damn fool can wave the flag and proclaim themselves to be a true patriot, but the fact is we all are -- or none of us are. America was founded on division and diversity, but united (not always successfully) in a common purpose.

I cannot fully express what seeing the flag does for me, but it triggers something inside that I recognize each and every time, no matter how large or small or isolated or numerous. It can fill me with pride or it can fill me with annoyance or even disgust when used to promote people and ideals I find disagreeable. But that's not the flag's fault.

The flag is the flag.

This one just happens to be mine.


Folding the U.S. flag -- from Wikipedia.

Dr. Phil

Memorial Day Musings

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 13:09
dr_phil_physics: (tomb-of-the-unknown)
What Sort of Holiday?

Memorial Day Weekend. The official start of summer. Memorial Day (Observed). Three-Day Weekend. No mail service on Monday. Garbage pickup delayed by one day all week.

What are we to make of Memorial Day? Well, I guess we do a better job of commemorating the official job of it than we do Veterans Day.

Of course not everyone makes it to parades. Or to cemeteries. Not everyone has served in the military, though my dad did and most of my uncles, a couple of cousins. Many, many friends. In the U.S. we give such short shrift to many working people in terms of vacation days and holidays, that making a big commercial deal of Memorial Day is inevitable.

It's the Indianapolis 500 -- won this year under caution as one driver tried a bold move on the start of the last lap and ended up crashing. It's baseball -- with the Cubs swept by the Pirates to complete a 12-game losing skid, mollified only by a dramatic 11-7 win on Monday against the Evil Padres. (If you don't know why they're evil, then you don't know Cubs history.) (grin)

It's the National Memorial Day Concert on the Mall in Washington DC, hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Senise, with dramatic readings of letters of those left behind by war, carried live by PBS... well up until the point that they had to switch to a tape of last year's concert, due to severe weather rolling in and having to clear the space.

Even were I to wish to go to any of the public celebrations, parking and my left leg and crowds would have made it difficult. We mostly stayed home.

War Movies

AMC in particular spent quite a lot of the weekend showing war movies -- it's how a lot of people who don't read, serve or talk to those who do, know anything about war. The weekend started, as I recalled, with Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, which we hadn't seen before. Wikipedia says it's "Tarantino's highest-grossing film to date." More than Kill Bill? Amazing. And quite an entertaining train wreck of a movie. Think of it as The Dirty Dozen but more improbable. (grin) Then there's Midway, which aside from some silly personal plotlines, I've always liked Midway more than Pearl Harbor's Tora! Tora! Tora! *** -- you can't beat not knowing how many carriers there are, or "sinking" the Yorktown twice, to turn an assured defeat into a great victory. And thank goodness no one seemed to be showing that stinker Pearl Harbor. Patton, always a personal favorite of mine and George C. Scott's greatest, gravelly role. Heartbreak Ridge, is also improbable and implausible, but there's very little else that covers the invasion of Grenada to free the American medical school students. Call it a guilty pleasure, especially to watch Clint & Co. chew up the scenery. The Great Escape, a romanticized version of an actual breakout during WW II. From the age of Big Epic Movies. I'm surprised it isn't paired up with Stalag 17 for a killer POW double-feature every time.

Then they ran Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Fathers followed by Letters From Iwo Jima, his bookend movies about Iwo Jima -- one about the American invasion and the using of the publicity machine regarding the raising of the flag(s) over Iwo Jima to sell War Bonds, and the other about the Japanese essentially abandoned in place and dug in to delay the Americans and die for the Emperor. I saw most of both, Mrs. Dr. Phil packed it in because the second was running into the early morning hours. We hadn't seen either in the theatres, particularly since (mostly) B&W films don't get booked much and I swear Letters From Iwo Jima was only shown for a couple of days shy of a week on one screen in one theatre-plex in Grand Rapids.

History Channel's six part/three-night miniseries Hatfields & McCoys also began airing on Monday, and given that the roots for the feud began during the American Civil War, which also prompted the historical roots for Memorial Day itself, I suppose it could also be grandfathered into the Memorial Day war movie filmfest.

So there you have it -- a day (or weekend) of Memorial and remembrance of those who have fallen, distilled down to a few public events and hours of movies. Thanks to all who have served, who are serving and who will someday sign up to serve.

From others in the UCF:
David on family who served.
Vince in a poignant Ken Burns moment.
Random Michelle starts with a WW I sad comment.
And then there's Jim Wright from last year, as only Jim can put it.

Dr. Phil

*** Ack! I knew it was Tora not Toro. Thanks! Corrected 5-31-2012.

Honors

Friday, 16 September 2011 18:24
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
The Next Medal of Honor Recipient

Sergeant Dakota L. Meyer, USMC.



The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

CORPORAL DAKOTA L. MEYER
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

For service as set forth in the following

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the repeated risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a member of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, Regional Corps Advisory Command 3-7, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on 8 September 2009. When the forward element of his combat team began to be hit by intense fire from roughly 50 Taliban insurgents dug-in and concealed on the slopes above Ganjgal village, Corporal Meyer mounted a gun-truck, enlisted a fellow Marine to drive, and raced to attack the ambushers and aid the trapped Marines and Afghan soldiers. During a six hour fire fight, Corporal Meyer single-handedly turned the tide of the battle, saved 36 Marines and soldiers and recovered the bodies of his fallen brothers. Four separate times he fought the kilometer up into the heart of a deadly U-shaped ambush. During the fight he killed at least eight Taliban, personally evacuated 12 friendly wounded, and provided cover for another 24 Marines and soldiers to escape likely death at the hands of a numerically superior and determined foe. On his first foray his lone vehicle drew machine gun, mortar, rocket grenade and small arms fire while he rescued five wounded soldiers. His second attack disrupted the enemy’s ambush and he evacuated four more wounded Marines. Switching to another gun-truck because his was too damaged they again sped in for a third time, and as turret gunner killed several Taliban attackers at point blank range and suppressed enemy fire so 24 Marines and soldiers could break-out. Despite being wounded, he made a fourth attack with three others to search for missing team members. Nearly surrounded and under heavy fire he dismounted the vehicle and searched house to house to recover the bodies of his fallen team members. By his extraordinary heroism, presence of mind amidst chaos and death, and unselfish devotion to his comrades in the face of great danger, Corporal Meyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Dr. Phil

Change

Monday, 12 September 2011 00:36
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
9/11 Ten Years Out

This past week and this weekend is filled with 9/11 remembrances. Some concentrate on the technical details. The failures or naivete of security. The extraordinary efforts by first responders. The recovery. The mess. The responses. The wars fought since that fateful day.

People say that everything's changed -- and to some extent that's true. But life also goes on and so life was going to change from 2001 to 2011 anyway.

I've talked here before about 9/11. This isn't about those stories. Instead I want to talk about change.

If you'd had enough 9/11 I won't mind if you go. I hope what follows is coherent.

Reset

On September 11th 2001, I'd just turned 43. Google was still fairly new -- Wikipedia had been up and running for nine months. Homeland Security had a vaguely fascist or Soviet feel to it and would never be the name for a U.S. department. In 2001, the Prius was first marketed beyond Japan -- you might not have known anyone who owned one or soon would. The last GM EV1 had been produced two years before and in two years they would all disappear. So much for electric cars or worrying about fuel.

We weren't expecting much beyond the new school year, the college and NFL seasons. The baseball playoffs. We just weren't thinking about what was going to happen. Building implosions were complicated works of demolition, not in the scope of terrorist attacks -- to be fair, I don't think Osama bin Laden expected both towers to fall. And I didn't even know there'd just been a big renovation of the Pentagon -- closest I'd ever been to the Pentagon was the underground Metro stop, though I guess my father was a secretary there at one point of WWII.

Living In The Future

As point of reference, I didn't get onto Gmail until June 2005. Facebook in November 2008. I got my first Windows XP machine in March 2005 -- and I'm still using it today. Mac users? There was no OS X. No iPhone either. No iPods either, not for another two months. Much of the tech we use every day wasn't in that form in 2001.

Undoing The Cobwebs

Because I learned of 9/11 during my long comute to/from WMU in Kalamazoo, for months afterward I had to have the news on the radio during the drive. No more CDs or Books On Tape. What if something happened?

I didn't write for a while.

And yet... a week after 9/11 a faculty piano recital was held on the campus of GVSU. The professor, a Van Cliburn medalist, was born in Israel. He felt it important for the recital to go on -- but he ditched the virtuoso program and instead gave us an hour of emotion and relief. Yes, life would go on.

Not quite a year later I started sending my stories out. Hiding from harsh reality? Realization life is short? I've talked to a lot of writers -- you can over analyze things and read too much into it. Perhaps it was just time.

What Makes This Different?

The second hit on the WTC happened live on TV and radio. The shutdown of the skies was nationwide. There is so much video.

What many forget is that Tuesday 11 September 2001 was a primary election day in NYC. And yet democracy did not fall that day. (Though there are forces trumpeting patriotism while threatening democracy today.)

We did not make 9/11 a holiday. Thank goodness. Imagine 9/11 Sales -- Don't Let The Terrorists Win! We Have Special Deals On Mattresses, Big Screen TVs And Many Chinese Made Products! -- and 9/11 "celebrated" on whatever Monday is convenient.

Finally, I think what made the difference on that day was United flight 93 -- Americans did not wait for someone to help them. They stopped the last plane themselves. This is what instant communications did.

Indeed, for those worried about overblown and intrusive hype, this may be the last big 9/11 commemoration. Ten years fits our historical sensibilities. The main memorials in New York, Washington and Shanksville have been dedicated. Rebuilding around the WTC site is happening. And some are already exhausted by the endless media coverage.

What Makes A National Event?

What's my point? Nick Mamatas wrote today that, "If you weren't local to the events ten years ago, or didn't have loved ones close to the events, I have to say that I really don't give a shit about your memories."

Of course that fails to realize the scope of the events. We were all affected. While I did not lose anyone directly in my circle, I know people who did and I know people there at the time. I am not about to compare my reactions to those in the direct path. Nor am I going to ignore it either.

Who "should" mourn 9/11? Who should remember? In terms of the entire population of the US, only a relatively few families were directly hurt that day -- and they live with it all the time. It's rather disingenuous to claim that now they have closure after this weekend's dedication. Few of us as a nation serve. The response to 9/11 has not been the national sacrifice of a WWII. And yet it was and still is a national event.

The fascination with 9/11 outside those directly affected isn't just the macabre, the real-life blockbuster movie images, the victims, the heroes. Or even the political, military and economic responses.

The Empire State Building survived being hit by a B-25 bomber in 1945. The WTC was designed to survive being hit by a 707. But by the time they were built, the airlines were flying the 747 and later the large fuel capacity 767 and 757 planes used by the hijackers. Design versus hubris? Are there things that my engineering students can learn here?

I've been avoiding the discussion of the Ground Zero memorial and rebuilding until something tangible was happening. Recently we started catching episodes of TDC's Rising : Rebuilding Ground Zero, which given that I grew up watching the original towers being built thirty miles south of us, has been a really interesting technological discussion.

This piece is already so long I shan't go into the rights and wrongs of the changes in security and law enforcement. Certainly on that morning there was a complacency -- there hadn't been a US hijacking in years.

So my point is that change happened. It was going to anyway. Some of the changes have nothing to do with 9/11 -- and some shouldn't have anything to do with 9/11 but somehow do.

The world has changed. For good, for ill, for reasons that have nothing to do with 9/11.

Tomorrow it will be September 12th. And life will go on. If we're smart.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (rachel-maddow)
Across The Lake Over The Weekend

We had to go to Milwaukee for a wedding over the weekend. The weather was incredibly gorgeous with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s, breezes and blue skies. Meanwhile, when we were at the hotel, we watched a lot of The Weather Channel and MSNBC going All Hurricane Irene All The Time -- several times I thought about the injustice of the contrasts in the weather, but no one at the wedding seemed inclined to talk about Irene.

The discussions on TV got silly when they debated whether it mattered if Irene was still a Category 1 hurricane or just a tropical storm when it hit New York City -- silly in the sense that (a) some people can't stand not being hit by a non-hurricane, while (b) mere TS Irene managed to dump a flood on Vermont alone without the h-word.

Words. People use them and abuse them and sometimes argue about the wrong thing.

Which brings me to today's topic:

Four Postings

This was in our Sunday 28 August 2011 GRPress: King fought for the poor and labor unions — today many Americans scorn both... columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. talking about the (now delayed by Irene) dedication of the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington DC. If you haven't seen a picture yet, it is an awesome work and I for one of proud of its addition to America's lawn. Will have to see it in person the next time I'm on DC.

But for me the money quote in this piece was...
Even if you put morality aside, there is still the question of enlightened self interest. If you are white, you may scorn black people and be reasonably certain you will never become one. If you are straight, you may scorn gay people and be reasonably certain you will never become one.

But any of us can become poor. Ann Coulter could become poor. How do you scorn what you might someday be?
Then friend Jim C. Hines wrote today on The Luxury of “Reasonable”, which I see more and more of -- the call of Do Not Call Me Names Because We Disagree Because I Am Being Reasonable Here About Our Disagreements.
In other words, be reasonable. Be calm. Be understanding and patient with those you disagree with. It’s a demand I’ve seen repeated elsewhere many times.

But there’s a reason Sanderson can be so reasonable. He’s not the one being spat on and beaten and burned (In front of a church, no less) and killed because of who he loves. He’s not being told he can’t bring his boyfriend to his own prom. Agents/editors aren’t rejecting his work because he wrote about LGBT characters. He’s not being denied basic rights, like the ability to visit his partner at the hospital. He’s not being told he can’t adopt a child he loves, a child who instead gets returned to an abusive home because the court feels that’s better than letting the child grow up with gay or lesbian parents.

...

But it’s easy to demand calm, “safe” discussion when you’re the one who’s safe and comfortable … it doesn’t strike me as a terribly reasonable demand.
In the comments thread was a link to a piece on being mean to "nice" people after they've posted something bigoted. Uh, right,
This "lovely person" just said they shouldn't get to worship as they please. This "generous, wonderful" human being just compared their relationships with other consenting adults to bestiality. This "great guy, really, when you know him" just said that they really wanted to be raped because look how they dress, or they deserve to go without medical coverage because they can't get a job.

Yeah.

And you think that me saying "boy howdy, that guy's a dick" is *me* being mean, or unnecessarily vitriolic, or whatever? I mean, I *am* mean, and I am vitriolic, and I wear those badges with a certain amount of pride, but...you're comparing "Hey, you're being a dipshit" with "Those people aren't fully human."
Finally in this political climate, friend Jim wright's Stonekettle Station trio of posts on America continue to go viral -- he's over a million hits. If you haven't read Jim before, have a stiff drink first -- but never have any food or beverage in your mouth while you're reading him. Because either humor or rage will decorate your screen and keyboard.

I Am Not A Perfect Human Being

But even I know that beating on people over who or what they are, and couching it in moral terms and God's love -- is neither moral nor very loving. Somehow wishing people of color or gayity or poverty would just disappear isn't going to happen. And politically, trying to paint 300 million Americans into your little corner of your choosing goes against the Declaration Of Independence and Constitution these people claim to love -- and cannot see that these were documents of compromise.

Meanwhile, soldiers of the Old Guard kept vigil at the Tomb of the Unknown throughout the storm of Irene, forsaking the nearby shelter as they always do. See, there are some people who still understand what honor and duty mean.

Somehow that means more to me than some asshat's ginned up attempt to use religion to justify their hatred and condone mistreatment based on race, language, sexual orientation, economic status, gender, country of origin, religion or any other flavor bigotry.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (writing-winslet-1-bw)
After The Surprise...

... of a magnitude 5.9 ± 0.1 earthquake in Virginia near Washington DC that was felt through much of the East, most places seem to be carrying on as if nothing major happened. Of course there are some large impressive buildings in DC which are closed pending engineering and structural examinations and repairs -- the National Cathedral and the Washington Monument prominently on the list. And for the record, though I saw a number of Tweets via Facebook from Michigan people in Lansing and Detroit, as well as people in downtown Grand Rapids' tall buildings saying that they felt it, I don't recall noticing anything around 2pm yesterday.

College Freshmen of the Class of 2015

Beloit College has released its annual "warnings" for us old fogies of the Mindset List for the Class of 2015, based on the assumption that the average college freshman was born in 1993. To which I could add personally:

76. Dr. Phil has always taught college Physics.

77. Dr. Phil has always had a WMU e-mail address.

Even if you don't teach college, you can do worse than take a romp through some of the historical and lifestyle changes which you might not always realized have been different for you youngsters out there. (grin)

Of course, I'm waiting for the Mindset List for the Class of 2020 in five years, which will "have always lived with a Beloit College Mindset report every year." (wry-grin)

Dr. Phil

Honors

Tuesday, 12 July 2011 14:38
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag)
A New Medal of Honor Recipient

Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, US Army 2nd Ranger Battalion.



Second living Medal of Honor recipient of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan.

That is all.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (solar-eclipse)
This Would Be Awesome

Ken Schneyer posted the following on Facebook and I totally have to shout this out to the world. Can't we make this happen? (grin)
Ken Schneyer
Total Eclipse WorldCon? In 2017 there'll be a total eclipse of the sun in late August, when Worldcon is usually held. It'll cut a swath along the entire contintental U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. It would be soooo nifty to hold Worldcon in one of the cities along the path of totality in order to coincide with the event. Just sayin'...
NASA - Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21
eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov
This is part of NASA's official eclipse home page. It plots solar eclipse paths on Google maps.

Monday 21 August 2017 Midday

Google Maps image from NASA's official eclipse home page - reduced view.

Larger, more detailed Google Maps view here. And detailed particulars here.

Note the list of cities (expanded) which fall in the zone of totality:
Salem OR, Corvalis OR, Idaho Falls ID, Scottsbluff NE, Aliance NE, North Platte NE, Grand Island NE, Lincoln NE, St. Joseph MO, Kansas City MO (barely), Columbia MO, St. Louis MO, Cape Girardeau MO, Clarksville TN, Nashville TN, Greenville SC, Charleston SC -- with Portland OR, Eugene OR, Boise ID, Knoxville TN, Chattanooga TN, Athens GA, Augusta GA, and even Atlanta GA within a hundred miles of totality.

Surely someone can come up with a bid in a place with access to good visibility, potentially good weather (grin), worthy of a WorldCon. It's not the greatest total solar eclipse ever at only 2 minutes 40 seconds maximum totality, but it's the last one on the continental U.S. for a while, I do believe, and how often do these things show up in the typical WorldCon summer window of opportunity?

Fact is, I've never seen a total solar eclipse. Hell, here in West Michigan we almost always get cloudy nights and rain for total lunar eclipses. Best we got was a 91% total annular eclipse in May of 1994. So I was planning to be on the road and hoping I'd find good weather in 2017 anyway... having a WorldCon to go to -- and having a large group of friends to commiserate with if the weather turns awful (evil grin) -- would be a huge plus.

Yeah, yeah, I haven't been to a WorldCon either, though I expect that to change with WorldCon 2012 being in Chicago next year.

So what say you, good people? Can we make this happen?

Dr. Phil

** UPDATE ** This has been crossposted to [livejournal.com profile] worldcons here. You might want to check the comments there, as well.
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-1776)
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I'm proud that I'm an American,
I'm glad that I am free,
But I worry the ignorant and the short-sighted,
Are a threat to the likes of me.


Happy 235th, America!

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (tomb-of-the-unknown)
The Dark And Healing Slash Of Granite In The Mall

Somewhere I have an essay on how I was introduced to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, when I was in DC for one of the Spring APS Meetings in the early 1990s, but I can't find it. The friend from college whom I was visiting, still playing clarinet in the Air Force, took me on a quickie tour of some of the area landmarks. But the Wall hadn't been in place when I had the odd day in Washington between trains during college. So I wanted to see it -- we ended up going twice. The first time was at night. If you've never been there, you cannot imagine descending into the earth and seeing the growing list of names suspended in the air against the reflection of the polished stone panels, towering overhead. And then coming out of it, reborn. We went back the next day, because I wanted to see it in light. And with people. A very different but also moving experience.

I remember the controversy over Maya Lin's design. It didn't fit with some people's traditional view of what a war memorial should be. Thankfully, her main design survived intact, because Vietnam didn't need a white marble column or other traditional war memorial.

So while I grew up in the Vietnam War era, I was too young to serve. But as I knew of people who were touched directly by the war -- and well as studying history and warfare more than most -- I have felt a personal connection to the Vietnam Memorial since I visited it about twenty years ago.

The National Memorial Day Concert

Tonight PBS ran a ninety minute program from near the U.S. Capitol with music and stories honoring those who have served, are serving and those who have given life and limb in their nation's service. It was through the story of a fatherless young woman and a friend of her father who came forward twenty years after his death, that I learned about an organization Sons and Daughters In Touch.

Every year members gather at The Wall on Father's Day. A thousand long stemmed rose are left: "Red roses represent those killed in action in Vietnam and yellow roses are for those who remain missing." Every five years they wash the Wall, a cathartic act of renewal.

I did not know this existed, but I am so thrilled for the families that it does.

And What Of The Future?

This year of 2011 has seen the last of the remaining World War I veterans and we are rapidly losing our World War II vets. Eventually a time will come where the surviving veterans and families of the Vietnam War will be gone. And what will be the relationship with the Vietnam Memorial? Of course there will be those families searching for ancestors, and historians searching for answers. And the polished black granite will still hold its power over visitors.

But it won't be the same.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (us-flag-33)
First Fire

On April 12th 1861, the U.S. Civil War formally began. As in the first shots fired at Fort Sumter. One can argue technicalities. Washington tried to resupply the fort on 9 January 1861, and the unarmed merchant ship was fired upon by South Carolina shore batteries. And even earlier "[o]n December 26, 1860, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surreptitiously moved his small command from the indefensible Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island to Fort Sumter" (Geeked from Wikipedia), so things were already in motion.

Some argue that the Civil War began with the election of Abraham Lincoln. Maybe. Or perhaps it was James Buchanan's failure to do anything. Personally, I think it goes deeper and earlier.

Watch 1776 -- you can see the seeds of conflict embedded in Philadelphia in July 1776. Take a look at the text, and look to see what's in it -- and what isn't.

And I'm not talking just about slavery. Some people say the Civil War was all about slavery. Some argue it was about state's rights. Some say it's about the union, and whether once assembled, it could be dissolved or seceded from. I suppose it's about all of these things. And what was important in 1861, changed and evolved over the years to 1865.

And as I mentioned the other day, we watched a number of episodes of the recent PBS rerun of Ken Burn's definitive The Civil War. After the series aired the first time, we went to two talks that Ken Burns gave locally. I was always struck by something he said then, and was also featured in his documentary. That before 1861 people said "The United States are..." And after 1865, people said "The United States is..."

Mention "The Civil War" to an American and they immediately link to 1861-1865.

This has happened with other events. Before 15 April 1912, it was "RMS Titanic" and after... "The Titanic".

One could argue that the Civil War was necessary to anneal and forge America. Alas, it did not rid us of the scourge of slavery. It only redistributed things, especially as an impatient nation threw itself into the work of rebuilding and expanding and blasting their way towards the 20th century.

There are some who would like to throw away much of what we've built since 1776 and 1865. Even some talk of a new round of secession. Sigh. We've been down that road, it wasn't pretty, and the people talking this talk are a majority only in their own minds. We don't need the Second Civil War, CW II, Civil War - The Sequel. We've moved our wars offshore. We don't want modern warfare inside these borders. Anyone who does is a fool. I'm pretty sure that North and South didn't know what they were getting into in 1860-1861.

Growing up in the North, upstate New York, the Civil War was more of historical interest. It took on a different meaning when we moved to North Carolina. As fascinating as it is intellectually, it was a traumatic event for those involved. A chunk of a generation killed. And to some, the adventure of a lifetime.

It is ironic that April 11th includes "the most boring day in the 20th century". And April 12th includes this event, albeit in the 19th century, and the anniversaries noted previously. Arbitrary to be sure, but that's history.

Dr. Phil
dr_phil_physics: (WWII-woman-aircraft-worker)
Yes, I've Been Very Quiet Here Lately

I just made it back from my third round-trip drive to Greensboro NC, after the ones on Thanksgiving and New Years. This one was less than scheduled, shall we say, but it was necessary. Thankfully I had good driving weather 3 of 4 days there and back. I'm sure I'll post more about my travels, because I took a lot of pictures along the way.

This Was Not Expected

The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a workhorse. No question. The four-engine military cargo hauler is one tough sonofabitch. I know that they've made carrier landings and take-offs. And...
In 2007, the C-130 became the fifth aircraft—after the English Electric Canberra, B-52 Stratofortress, Tupolev Tu-95, and KC-135 Stratotanker—to mark 50 years of continuous use with its original primary customer, in this case, the United States Air Force. The C-130 is also the only military aircraft to remain in continuous production for 50 years with its original customer, as the updated C-130J Super Hercules.

I used to regularly see C-130s flying around Chicago -- along with Navy P2 Orions -- and used to see C-130s taxiing at Chicago's O'Hare field.

But I've never thought about the size of them before, or thought about putting one on a flatbed and driving it around. Good thing I had a 20mm ultra wide angle handy for the Kodak DCS Pro SLR/n so I could get it all in one shot. (grin)

Click on photo for high res.

This was at a rest stop in Ohio on I-75. I was going to drive around in front and get a cockpit on face view -- but I couldn't pull off the exit road because there was no shoulder and I didn't like the one foot hard drop-off. (evil grin)

Now for my idea for a kick-ass RV conversion van...

Dr. Phil

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