Physics of the Squirt

I’m not sure whether we had to work this problem in physic class in high school, but I eventually had to do it at work. I will just post the solution here for future reference in case anybody else has to scratch around and come up with the right computations. It went like this:

I worked for a company that made ink jet printers. These were high-performance jobs that fit into machines that processed bank checks. The machine would feed 20 checks per second into a transport mechanism that would whisk them along at 200 inches per second past various stations. One of the stations was an MICR station that would read the magnetic characters along the bottom edge. Another station would read information off the check using OCR (optical character recognition) technology. A lot of useful information was captured from the speeding checks, and we wanted to immediately put it back onto the checks in various forms. One form was a bar code that could subsequently be read using cheaper technology. We also wrote in numbers and letters on the checks. All this writing was done by ink jet printers.

See the drawing. The printer had a reservoir of ink, and the ink was fed under pressure to a tiny glass nozzle. For simplicity I’m not showing how the stream was broken up into drops and how the drops were deflected to form the patterns printed on the checks. My problem was: “What pressure is needed to get an ink jet at 100 inches per second?”


So you know the velocity. Do you need to know anything else? Apparently only the density of the ink. It works like this. You have a number of parameters and variables:

  • v = velocity of the ink jet
  • A = cross sectional area of the jet
  • P = pressure in the ink reservoir

Where do you go from here? Start with a simple relationship between momentum, force and time:

mv = ft

Mass times velocity = force times time.

If you want a mass m to have a velocity v you can achieve this with a force f applied for a time t.

m is the mass of an arbitrary chunk of ink.

f is the force on this chunk of ink.

t is the time the force acts on this chunk of ink.

Then f = AP.

m = Axρ

x is the distance the ink moves while the force is acting on it.

ρ is the density of the ink.

v = x / t.

And there you have it. A little algebraic manipulation gives you


Any time you apply a pressure (pressure difference) P to a liquid of density ρ you can achieve a velocity v.


NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man

This is about my fourth post in a series about the TV documentary NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man. The show came out in February 1996 and was hosted by actor Charlton Heston. It’s one of those pseudo documentaries that are popular with viewers—lots of exciting stuff but little of any substance.

My previous post told of geologist Virginia Steen-McIntyre. She worked at an archaeological site in Mexico in 1966 and published results concerning human artifacts dated 250,000 years old. She mentions in the video that her career was ruined as a consequence.

Charlton Heston was no longer a young man in 1996, but he still projects a strong presence in the video. The wisdom of Moses is projected in his voice as he intones the awful facts of Steen-McIntyre’s case:

According to McIntyre, because she stuck to the facts all of her professional opportunities were closed off. She’s not worked in her chosen field since.

By “since” I am going to have to assume Heston means except for her subsequent publications, including one in 1981:

In 1981, the journal Quaternary Research published a paper by Steen-McIntyre, Fryxell and Malde that defended an anomalously distant age of human habitation at Hueyatlaco. The paper reported the results of four sophisticated, independent tests: uranium-thorium dating, fission track dating, tephra hydration dating and the studying of mineral weathering to determine the date of the artifacts. These tests, among other data, validated a date of 250,000ypb for the Hueyatlaco artifacts.

[Some links deleted]

As I mentioned in the previous post, that’s about the high point of this documentary. Next we get down to the good stuff.

We next meet one of the most outlandish frauds to ever insult the place of my birth.


This is an image of Carl Baugh, anthropologist, from the video. Actually, Baugh really is an anthropologist. In the same sense that I’m an astronaut.

Carl Baugh has been on the creationism scene in North Texas for three decades, and he operates a Creation Evidences Museum outside Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, just a few miles from where I was born. Back when Baugh was beginning to make a name for himself Glen Kuban contributed an analysis to the newsletter of the North Texas Skeptics, which I reproduce here in its entirety:

A follow-up on Carl Baugh’s science degrees

by Glen J. Kuban

I wish to bring to light some additional information regarding “man tracker” Carl Baugh’s alleged scientific degrees.

As pointed out by the authors of a recent Skeptic article, [1] the College of Advanced Education (CAE), from which Baugh claims a Ph.D. in anthropology, is not accredited, and has no science courses or facilities. Don Davis, administrator of CAE and pastor of the Baptist Church that houses it, told me that it is a “missions” school only. Davis explained that the degree was given through CAE, “under the auspices” of Clifford Wilson in Australia.[2] However, the reason for this curious arrangement was not explained, and the connection to Clifford Wilson (explained below) only further undermines the legitimacy of Baugh’s degree.

A copy of Baugh’s diploma (dated 1987) indicates that CAE is the “Graduate Division” of International Baptist College (IBC). As mentioned In the recent Skeptic article, IBC is incorporated in Missouri, but it is not certified there to grant degrees in any subject. Furthermore, IBC evidently is just as lacking in science facilities and classes as CAE. The phone receptionist at IBC stated that it was a correspondence school for religious studies based on tapes by Jerry Falwell.[3] Even more interesting, the letterhead of IBC listed Carl Baugh himself as president.[4] Thus, it appears that Baugh essentially granted himself a science degree from his own unaccredited Bible school.

Pacific College, Inc. (a.k.a. Pacific College of Graduate Studies) from which Baugh claims a masters degree in archaeology, traces to creationist Clifford Wilson in Australia. Wilson is the principal officer of PCI, which is a religious school with no accreditation or authority in Australia to grant degrees. [5]

Moreover,Wilson is (or was) a close associate of Baugh, [6] and evidently was a partner of Baugh in IBC. Wilson’s name was listed as “Vice President, International Studies” on the letterhead of IBC,[7] and the location of IBC was given as Australia on a plaque displayed at Baugh’s first “man track” site.[8]

Thus, all of Baugh’s alleged science degrees appear to trace directly or Indirectly back to himself and/or his partner Wilson, and to their own unaccredited Bible schools or “extensions” of them.

Last, it may be noted that there is no evidence that Baugh has even an undergraduate degree in any field of science. Not having a science degree is not a crime; however, misrepresenting one’s credentials is another matter. Baugh’s frequently claimed degrees in science appear to be as dubious as his “man track” claims, and ought to be of serious concern to his fellow creationists.


[1] Thomas, John, Ronnie Hastings, and Rick Neeley, “A Critical Look at Creationist Credentials,” The Skeptic, 3:4, July-Aug. 1989.

[2] Don Davis, personal communication, December31, 1989.

[3] Phone conversation, July 5, 1986.

[4] A letter from Carl Baugh to me, dated March 10, 1983, was written on International Baptist College letterhead.

[5] According to Australian paleontologist Ralph E. Molnar (personal correspondence, October, 1986), Pacific College of Theology was amalgamated with Pacific College of Graduate Studies to form Pacific College Incorporated. Australian Barry Williams stated that PCI appears to be a small, private Bible college headed by Wilson (correspondence to Ron Hastings, March 30, 1989). Ian Plimer, professor of geology at the University of Newcastle and member of the Australian Research Council, determined that PCI is unaccredited and stated, “Any ‘degrees’ from this ‘College’ are illegal in Australia (correspondence to Ron Hastings, March 1989).

[6] Wilson worked alongside Baugh on some Paluxy “man track” excavations, and coauthored a 1987 book with Baugh entitled Dinosaur (Promise Publishing, Orange, CA). Baugh’s supposed degrees are listed on the back of the book.

[7] Immediately under Baugh’s name on the letterhead (reference 4) was Wilson’s name and title, obscured with “white-out” but clearly visible when held to light.[8] In 1982 the metal plaque was mounted on a large rock at the “man track” site, but later was removed (reportedly by Wilson).

[8] (Reference missing in the original)

The previous article referenced was the July and August issue of the same year. I have written some stuff on Baugh, and I need to post it here. Watch for it in a few days. On one of the occasions I visited the “museum” in hopes of running into Baugh, I asked the person in charge about Baugh’s supposed degrees. I was informed that the “museum” made no claims for Baugh’s academic credentials.

Baugh’s enterprise in this video is the existence of human footprints in the Cretaceous limestone at the base of the Paluxy River in Somerville County, Texas. This area has long been known for dinosaur prints, but the claim is now that there are human prints in the same layer, even adjacent to dinosaur prints. This is a formation that is 115 million years old, 50 million years before dinosaurs went extinct and over 110 million years ago before anything resembling humans walked.


 What Carl Baugh, anthropologist, wants to tell you is these are 16-inch footprints left by people back when this limestone was soft mud. What geologists and real paleontologists want to tell you, and so do I, is these do not even look like human footprints. The best going idea is these prints, following along with the obvious dinosaur prints, are imprints of the dinosaur metatarsus.

But wait. “Dr.” Baugh has one more thing to show you. Here we see the very personage of Moses, Charlton (from my cold, dead fingers) Heston, look directly into the camera and tell us without a catch in his voice and without a wince in that famous face, “But Carl Baugh is in possession of one of the most compelling prints ever found.” And here it is:


It’s called the so called Burdick Print, named after Clifford C. Burdick, an early proponent of the man tracks claims:

According to [young Earth creationist] John Morris, the Burdick track (the right-foot slab) was purchased “years ago” by Burdick from a Rev. Beddoe of Arizona, who in turn had purchased the track from the late Pessee Hudson, proprietor of a knick- knack store in Glen Rose. Morris added that “many things were purchased in that store, including some of George Adams carvings.” Morris continued, “tracing the print proved impossible, but it was reported to have come from a tributary south of Glen Rose (1980, p. 117).

The citation is to Morris, John D., 1980, Tracking Those Incredible Dinosaurs and the People Who Knew Them, San Diego, CA., Creation-Life Publishers.

A big fan of the Burdick Print is young Earth creationist Don Patton, who now appears in the video. I have mentioned Patton already in two of my previous posts.


Here we have a geologist weighing in. I know that because I have a business card from Don Patton. It says, “Don Patton, Ph.D.,” and on the next line it says geologist. It is obvious to the most casual observer reading this that Don Patton has a Ph.D. in geology. Please spare me.

I have attended Patton’s presentations during which he showed us, as he does in the video, that this is not a carving. Creationists researching this artifact have made saw cuts (see the photo above) to expose the inner structure. Several cuts have been made, but Don has resisted showing any but the cross section shown below.


What he is pointing to, Don explains, are compression layers formed when the “foot” pressed down into the soft material. Whether these compression layers show up in any of the other cross sections we may never learn. This does, however, add a layer of mystery to the topic and also to the documentary.

If Carl Baugh, anthropologist, and Don Patton, geologist, do not bring enough credibility to this narrative, we are next introduced to a real doctor. At least now we have somebody with a college degree looking at this.


Dale Peterson, M.D., says he first saw the “print” when he visited Glen Rose in 1984. At first he thought it was too perfect to be a human print, but after closer examination he is now convinced it is. He points out significant anatomical features.

Never haven taken a course in human anatomy, I could only examine my own feet. The first thing I notice is the print is 15 inches long. My feet are considerably shorter. At its widest the print is seven and a half inches. Not so my feet. The print also has a mound in the middle where the human arch should be. When a human foot steps into soft clay it does not leave a mound in the middle. Also, when a human foot continues its stride and pulls out of the print, it takes some of the soft material with it, leaving a jagged perimeter—missing from this artifact.

And nobody is laughing. Baugh, Patton, Peterson, and most of all Charlton Heston are telling all of this with a straight face. I call that just short of wonderful. This is Academy Award material.

I will continue this narrative in a future post with another of the stories from the video. The story of Atlantis is coming, so be patient.

Odd Theorems

Here is the second of the odd theorems from The Futility Closet site:


A square inscribed in a semicircle has 2/5 the area of a square inscribed in a circle of the same radius.

The solution comes from some short calculations. The radius of the circle is R. From that compute the areas of the two squares.

For the area of the first square, the side of the square is S. Then:


For the second square, again using S as the side of the square:


Divide the small area by the large area, and the result is 2/5.


Gray America


Caught this on Movie Night at Greg’s Friday. I don’t have a copy, so I will have to pull details from Wikipedia. It’s Nebraska, and it’s not even black and white. It’s gray on gray, and it seems so fitting. I have not been to Nebraska, but this is how I always pictured it.

Small problem. The movie starts out in Billings, Montana, and it seems a long time before any action develops in Nebraska. Bruce Dern is old man Woody Grant. Friday night I let out that I first recall Bruce Dern from the Alfred Hitchcock film Marnie. I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that Dern played a sailor on liberty who gets killed by Marnie when Marnie is a young child. I have since seen Dern as a philandering husband in Middle Age Crazy and as a thieving, murdering cowpoke in The Cowboys (kills John Wayne, meets a bad end). This year Bruce Dern picked up an Oscar nomination for best actor.

Grant is a tottering, drunken old-timer, who thinks, based on the standard letter in the mail, that he has won $1 million, and he sets off on foot to Lincoln, Nebraska, to pick up his winnings. Woody’s sons intervene, and son David eventually takes Woody on an Odyssey through gray America. And it is Gray. About the liveliest scenery is a stopover visit at the Mount Rushmore monument, which looks just fine in gray.

It’s autumn (north of the 45th parallel) and the sky is gray, always. The scenery is gray. Even if the movie had been shot in Technicolor the scenery would still be gray. And the people are gray. There’s not a whisper of glamor in the entire movie. Readers, this is Duck Dynasty meets Forrest Gump.

On the way to Lincoln, Nebraska, David and Woody stop off in Hawthorne, a mythical town in Nebraska, their place of origin. There the movie develops some excitement. In a bar with friends from long ago Woody lets slip that he has won $1 million. Friends and relatives are at first congratulatory, but the congratulations are eventually overtaken by avarice, and the movie begins to develop shades of color. Here’s the cast.

  • Bruce Dern as Woody Grant
  • Will Forte as David Grant, Woody’s youngest son
  • June Squibb as Kate Grant, Woody’s wife, mother of Ross and David
  • Bob Odenkirk as Ross Grant, Woody’s oldest son
  • Stacy Keach as Ed Pegram, Woody’s old business partner
  • Mary Louise Wilson as Aunt Martha, Woody’s sister-in-law
  • Missy Doty as Noel, David’s girlfriend
  • Angela McEwan as Pegy Nagy, a former girlfriend of Woody’s
  • Rance Howard as Uncle Ray, one of Woody’s brothers
  • Devin Ratray as Cole, one of Woody’s nephews
  • Tim Driscoll as Bart, one of Woody’s nephews
  • Roger Stuckwisch as Karaoke Singer
  • Melinda Simonsen as the Receptionist in the contest office in Lincoln
  • Terry Kotrous as Sheriff
  • John Reynolds as Bernie Bowen

I won’t tell you how the movie ends. Hawthorne was shot in the real town of Plainview, Nebraska, which so reminds me of a couple of small Texas towns I have lived in. The people, too, are right out of my own past, which was pretty gray.

Hawthorne, Nebraska, or Granbury, Texas?

Hawthorne, Nebraska, or Granbury, Texas?


I have added screen shots from Amazon Prime Video to provide a better window into the movie.








Bad Joke of the Week

A small zoo in Georgia obtained a very rare species of gorilla.

Within a few weeks the gorilla, a female, became very difficult to handle. Upon examination, the veterinarian determined the problem. The gorilla was in heat. To make matters worse, there was no male gorilla available.Thinking about their problem, the Zoo Keeper thought of Bobby Lee Walton, a redneck part-time worker responsible for cleaning the animal cages. Bobby Lee, like most rednecks, had little sense but possessed ample ability to satisfy a female of any species.The Zoo Keeper thought they might have a solution. Bobby Lee was approached with a proposition. Would he be willing to mate with the gorilla for $500.00?

Bobby Lee showed some interest, but said he would have to think the matter over carefully. The following day, he announced that he would accept their offer, but only under five conditions:

“First”, Bobby Lee said, “I ain’t gonna kiss her on the lips.” The Keeper quickly agreed to this condition.

“Second”, he said, “She must wear a ‘Dale Earnhardt Forever’ T-Shirt.” The keeper again readily agreed to this condition.

“Third”, he said, “you can’t never tell no one about this.” The keeper again readily agreed to this condition.

“Fourth”, Bobby Lee said, “I want all the children raised Southern Baptist.”

Once again it was agreed.

And last,” Bobby Lee said, “I’m gonna need another week to come up with the $500.00.

Why you can never go home again

American novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote You Can’t Go Home Again, and I have never read it, but I like the title. It makes a great tag line.

It turns out the line is true, not only at the level Wolfe revealed in his novel but at the most basic level. You really can never, never ever, go home again. It was a few years ago that I figured this out and why it is so.

Years ago I worked for this company, and they were across the freeway from the legendary Texas Stadium, where the Dallas Cowboys football team used to play. So, on occasion, I was driving down the freeway, and I was thinking there would be a time when the stadium would no longer be there (now it is not). I also realized there would eventually be a time when the freeway would no longer be there. In fact, there will be a time when the planet Earth will no longer be there.

Texas Stadium (from Wikipedia)

So I began to consider what it meant to “be there.” To “be here.” What defines a place?

Of course, I realized, proximity to the stadium could not define a place, because the stadium was in no way permanent. But, what if I came back the very next day? The stadium would still be there tomorrow. Would I then be in the same place as before?

The answer turns out to be “no.” The stadium was big, and the stadium was famous, but the stadium alone did not define the place. There was that post beside the freeway. Suppose by the next day somebody removed the post. If I returned on the morrow would I actually be coming back to the same place? No, because it would not be the same place, because the post would no longer be there. Stadium, post—everything—all are required to define a place in space. And the conclusion is: To go back to the same place it will be necessary for you to go back to the same time. And this is something we cannot do. Yet.

With that in mind, return to this blog in the future and read more.

Which hand’s got the chocolate?

So I don’t drink coffee, but I do get a perk from cola, and I only drink the sugar free. People tell me these artificial sweeteners are associated with all kinds of health dangers, but I remind them that what dangers have been associated with artificial sweeteners no where compare with the known problems with consuming sugar. So, sugar-free it is for me. Especially when I can get two-liter diet cola for less than a buck at CVS Pharmacy.

The test

Anyhow, Barbara Jean and I were shopping at CVS and I was loading up my limit of 5 bottles, and Barbara Jean asked why I was getting the regular Diet Coke. Why not the Coca Cola Zero. It’s supposed to have “Real Coca Cola taste and zero calories.” Game on!

Real Coca Cola tast with zero calories

That sounded like a challenge to me, and a nice opportunity to show the benefits of scientific investigation. Proposed: Coca Cola Zero tastes better than regular Diet Coke. Confirm or refute the hypothesis.

To confirm or refute the hypothesis you need to have somebody taste the two and compare. I knew it was necessary to go an extra step. The first thing to determine is whether anybody can tell the difference between Zero and regular. If you can’t tell the difference, then you are certainly not going to be able to say that one tastes better than the other.

A classic scientific approach that’s employed for a test such as this is the so-called “blind test.” It works like this: If the person tasting the colas knows which cola she is tasting, then it’s possible for personal bias to filter in. She sees Coke Zero. She knows Coke Zero is suppose to have “Real Coca Cola taste.” She expects the Coke Zero to taste better. When she tastes the Coke Zero she feels it must be tasting better. She reports that Coke Zero tastes better.

But if she does not know which drink is regular and which is Zero, then this personal bias is eliminated, and hard science prevails. So, I arranged a test. Readers will, of course, know that an even better protocol than the blind test is the double-blind test. In a blind test it is only necessary for the subject to be kept in the dark about which is which. In a double-blind test everybody present at the test is kept in the dark. The idea of keeping both the experimenter and the subject in the dark is to prevent such as this: The experimenter hands a sample to the subject and says, “Now here taste one,” wink wink. And the subject is influenced by the experimenter’s actions.

Anyhow, I did not do the double blind test, and it turned out not to be necessary. I poured out three glasses of diet cola and brought them to Barbara Jean. She did not see me pour the samples, and she did not even know about the test until I brought her the samples. She thought it was a silly idea (of course), but she went along with the game. Two glasses had one kind of cola, and the other glass had the other kind. I kept which was which to myself. I asked Barbara Jean which cola was not like the other two. She could not tell the difference.

There should be no need for further testing. Nobody I know is as picky about tastes and smells as Barbara Jean. If she can’t tell the difference between Coke Zero and regular diet Coke, then it’s not worth anybody’s time to walk across the street to get Coke Zero. Unless, of course, you like the cool design of the Coke Zero bottle.

So, here are the samples. Which one is the Coke Zero? You can’t tell, can you.

Three Samples

Who’s queer, and who’s just plain weird?

I said it before, and I need to say it again. I really do. Sandy Rio is just the greatest.

Pray away the gay

I previously told readers how Rios and Erwin Lutzer warned us about the awful consequences of tolerating a homosexual lifestyle:

Lutzer said one reason he opposes marriage equality is because of Chicago’s crime rate: “We have such crime here in Chicago, young people being slaughtered every night, we wake up in the morning and there’s been another murder, another teenager has been killed. They said in the midst of a society that is so desperate and so high-crime ridden, do we really now need laid upon this the destruction of the family and the destruction of marriage?”

Thankfully we don’t have to tolerate homosexuals and their aberrant ways. There is a cure:

A former patient who sought help from the Christian counseling clinic owned by GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, told ABC News he was advised that prayer could rid him of his homosexual urges and he could eventually be “re-oriented.”

“[One counselor’s] path for my therapy would be to read the Bible, pray to God that I would no longer be gay,” said Andrew Ramirez, who was 17-years-old at the time he sought help from Bachmann & Associates in suburban Minneapolis in 2004. “And God would forgive me if I were straight.”

Jesus Christ! Michele Bachmann, too.

What we now know is possible is to cure gay people. As everybody knows, all gay people start out straight, and at some point in their lives they want to get even with their parents and they decide to start acting queer, and they go around dressing up like girls and kissing other men and buggering each other, and that makes their parents real mad, and their parents want to disown them and stuff. Well, sooner or later these queers decide that the gay life has some real disadvantages, and it’s better to be straight, because then all their friends will take their phone calls, and they can marry a cute girl and have babies and make their parents happy, so they decide to get over being queer. As we all know it is now possible to pray away the gay. Neat, eh?

So what you do if you don’t want to be queer anymore is you get with a Christian counselor who prays for you and turns your life around, and finally you’re not queer anymore. I mean, if praying to Jesus won’t do it then what will? All right, I admit there have been a few hitches:

Speaking for those who believe that Christianity and homosexuality are incompatible was Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, an ex-gay organization. Also interviewed were Janet Boynes, a woman who states she “walked away” from lesbianism eleven years earlier and who now runs her own ex-gay ministry, a man named Christian whom Janet has been counseling for the last four years and another man named Ethan, whom Ling met at an Exodus conference. Each of the men acknowledged that they still had feelings of attraction to the same sex. Only Boynes said she had no such feelings.

Ling also interviewed several people who had reconciled their sexuality and their faith. Among them was Michael Bussee, who had co-founded Exodus International in 1976 only to leave the group in 1979 when he found himself falling in love with another male founding member. Ling spotlighted The Naming Project, a summer camp program for gay and questioning Christian young people. Gay Lutheran and Naming Project co-founder Jay Wiesner was interviewed along with campers Chelsea, who went from being a closeted cheerleader to an openly lesbian prom queen, and Julian, who had been fired as a counselor-in-training at a Christian camp just two weeks before filming when his homosexuality was discovered.

Of course, that’s troubling news, to learn that sometimes you can pray and pray, and finally think you’re not queer anymore, but later on you find out you still are. What a BF!

Then, there’s more troubling news:

Exodus International: From ‘pray away the gay’ to acceptance
June 20, 2013|By Robin Abcarian

It’s really worth watching the heartfelt speech that Alan Manning Chambers gave Wednesday as he announced the demise of Exodus International, the controversial Christian ministry founded 38 years ago in Anaheim to — as one often hears — “pray away the gay.”

Chambers, who has led the Orlando, Fla.-based group for 11 years, said he thinks the church is becoming a more welcoming place for gays, and that Exodus, founded as a refuge for Christians battling their same-sex attractions, has simply done more harm than good.

Jesus, how can that be? I mean, this was such a great program, curing people who were queer by just praying and turning their lives around so they weren’t queer anymore and could live straight lives and get married and be right with the Lord again. This news is really so sad:

World’s Biggest ‘Pray Away the Gay’ Group Closes With an Apology
by Steve Williams

Exodus International, the world’s largest ex-gay therapy group, has apologized to the gay community for the harm it has caused and announced it will now close.

The apology, written by Exodus International president Alan Chambers, came in a statement issued Wednesday, June 20, under the title “I Am Sorry.”

Of course, this devastating turn of events was bound to have dire consequences. There’s still going to be a bunch of people out there who are going around being queer and messing up society for the rest of us. Kids in Chicago are going to keep on killing each other, people’s marriages are going to get wrecked and people like Ariel Castro are going to kidnap young girls and hold them prisoner for years and years and torture them and rape them, and all of this is never going to end. And, besides that, it’s going to rain on Christopher Doyle’s parade. Or lack of parade:

Yesterday, American Family Radio’s Sandy Rios spoke to Ex-Gay Pride Month organizer Christopher Doyle about today’s ex-gay lobby day on Capitol Hill. Doyle, who was organizing the since-canceled Ex-Gay Pride banquet at the Family Research Council, complained in an interview with the Christian Post that “un-American” LGBT rights advocates have “shut us out,” explaining that “because of all this homo-fascism and indoctrination in the media, ex-gays aren’t given a fair shake.”

Rios confidently predicted that “thousands of ex-gays are descending” on Washington for a press conference planned for today at the Supreme Court. She lamented that when she led Concerned Women for America the media refused to hear “our ex-gay friends” because it “undermined the whole effort of the homosexual lobby.”

Doyle told Rios that “tens of thousands” of ex-gays exist but are “in the closet because of fear, shame and threats from gay activists.”

Well, despite the expectation that “thousands of ex-gays” would partake in Ex-Gay Pride Month, fewer than ten people showed up for the big event. Besides Doyle, ex-gay activists Greg Quinlan of Parents and Friends of Gays and Ex-Gays (PFOX), Richard Cohen of the International Healing Foundation and Douglas McIntyre of Homosexuals Anonymous also participated.

Queer or not queer, that is the question.

So, it would appear that “because of all this homo-fascism and indoctrination in the media” the Ex-Gay Pride movement is never going to get a fair shake and is never going to be able to get its message out, and queers are going to keep on acting queer, and a bunch more kids in Chicago are going to get shot. And I tell you it’s a crying shame. Among other crying shames, of which I can name one.

The Root Of All Immorality

Every now and then comes along a special individual with the makings of a true national treasure. Such a person is Sandy Rios. With the rest of us, Rios is well aware that modern society is beset by myriad woes, including gang violence and random killings. We all wonder whether we have no recourse, whether are doomed to only endure without relief. We wonder if there is anything we can do to shake off this awful curse. Anything!

Fortunately there is. For one thing, we can start behiving ourselves. We can all quit being queer according to what I understand from Fox News contributor Rios.

Sandy Rios currently serves as a FOX News Channel (FNC) contributor. Rios is the vice president of Family-Pac Federal and is the host of “Sandy Rios in the Morning” on AFR Talk.

Previously, Rios hosted the WYLL-AM afternoon show “The Sandy Rios Show,” and also served as president of Culture Campaign, an Illinois-based non-profit dedicated to getting concerned citizens involved in public policy. Additionally, Rios served as president of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.

She is the recipient of a variety of awards including the 2005 Henry Hyde Leadership Award and the Eagle Forum’s Excellence Award.

Rios and Erwin Lutzer reminded listeners of the social devastation wracked by the sin of homosexuality and the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

Rios and Lutzer Link Homosexuality to Pedophilia, Crime and Cleveland Kidnapper Ariel Castro

Submitted by Brian Tashman on Friday, 8/2/2013 4:30 pm

American Family Association talk show host Sandy Rios chatted with prominent Chicago pastor Erwin Lutzer today about homosexuality and the unsuccessful same-sex marriage bill in Illinois. Lutzer said one reason he opposes marriage equality is because of Chicago’s crime rate: “We have such crime here in Chicago, young people being slaughtered every night, we wake up in the morning and there’s been another murder, another teenager has been killed. They said in the midst of a society that is so desperate and so high-crime ridden, do we really now need laid upon this the destruction of the family and the destruction of marriage?”

The connection is so obvious, even a child can grasp the concept. It’s like this: If it’s OK to bugger somebody, then it’s just one more step to the commission of murder. What could be more clear? Rios and Lutzer were additionally informative

The two also reiterated their belief that it is wrong to allow same-sex couples to marry just because they love each other. Lutzer, responding to a pro-gay marriage Facebook message, claimed that even pedophiles believe that they “love” the children they abuse. Rios added that even Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who kidnapped three women, claimed that he loved the women he held in captivity.

Ignoring for the moment that homosexual intercourse and same-sex marriage can involve consenting adults, it is obvious that Castro’s enslavement, torture and rape of these young women is the moral equivalent to a homosexual lifestyle.

Rios has gotten a reputation for her sage opinions and her sage advice on a number of topics. Her unique insight into our Democratic president is especially valuable:

Rios: People that didn’t grow up here don’t have the same kind of love for the country. I’m sorry, I think that includes our President, I don’t think he loves the country like people who were born and did grow up here. Now I’m not saying he wasn’t born here, I’m not even going to get into that, I think that’s certainly a question we can ask. But we do know that he spent a lot of his earlier years in Indonesia, in Hawaii, you know, it’s not the mainland, it’s very different.

I have always said from the time he was running that he doesn’t love this country enough to be its president. I stand by that, I said it a very long time ago, I stand by that statement. He’s not that offended when Americans are killed. He doesn’t have the same sense of protection and anger over it.

Rios is dead on about Hawaii. I mean, the place is way out in the middle of the ocean, and they don’t even have a decent major league baseball franchise. And if you ever go there, the place in no way resembles Kansas. I mean, those people don’t know anything about winter. How is a person growing up there ever going to have the same love for hot dogs and cold beer as a plumber from Ohio. Rios manifests a depth of thinking and a keen logic found in few 21st century minds. God bless you, Sandy Rios.

Rios has also spoken from her special knowledge into the president’s darker side. He is, in fact, an Enemy of the Faith.

We’re releasing a report with the Family Research Council on what’s happening in the military in regard to the loss of religious freedom. It really is stunning, it is absolutely angering and we’ve talked about it before, many of you are serving in the military and we are doing what we can to stop this and to help you, those of you that are Christ-followers serving in the military, to bring people to account, to stop this out of control—really it’s a reflection of this President. You do know that, don’t you? I long ago crossed the line in trying to be careful about how I speak about him because as far as I’m concerned he’s an enemy of the faith, I believe he is. He presses all things immoral, all things unbiblical and he claims to be a Christian which to me is even worse, it’s worse.

Well, call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want to, but I wholly agree with Rios on one point. Obama has in the past claimed to be a Christian, and I do recall he caught a lot of heat over his religious affiliation. In full disclosure, I voted twice for President Obama despite knowing about his religiosity, but I vow never to do that again.

The crisis in faith in the military is also real a matter of concern:

When an active-duty Marine was given a Marine Corps training document describing “potential risk indicators” commanders should look for to prevent loss of life among service members, he found one checkbox that didn’t seem to fit. Among warning signs like substance abuse and prior suicide attempts was “lack or loss of spiritual faith.”

It is well known that there are no atheists in foxholes, and I have often wondered at this strange fact. For instance, why don’t these atheists get in their foxholes. I mean, aren’t they afraid they’re going to get shot? Jesus Christ! We need to get them to cut this out.

So now we find out that even the Marine Corps brass are alarmed that some troops may not be carrying any religious faith into battle, exposing them to unnecessary risk from enemy fire. Thank God the Corps was working on plans to do something about this, and thank you, Sandy Rios, for bringing us this startling news.

We can only hope that Rios keeps dipping into her bottomless barrel of cultural kimchi in the years to come and continues to serve up her wondrous fountains of wisdom. Leno may grow stale, and Letterman may from time to time miss the mark, but I am comfortable that Sandy Rios will reliably surprise and amaze us until the End of Times. May the good Lord watch over Sandy Rios and keep her and guide her and never let her find her good sense.

The End of Times

It was the best of times, it was the end of times. Jesus, it seems I’m doing one of these End of Times posts about every six months. Is there something paradoxical about that?

Forget about the best of times. What about the end of times? The End of Times (EoT) sounds so ominous. I had always hoped we would have time forever, but if time is going to end, what then? It is so frightening. There should be something we can do to avoid disaster.

Cathie Adams may have a solution to our dilemma. But first a short introduction.

Cathie L. Adams (born 1950) is a conservative political figure from Dallas, Texas, who is the former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas (GOP). She won the post in a special meeting of the Republican State Executive Committee held on October 24, 2009, at party headquarters in Austin. She was unseated in the state convention held in Dallas on June 12, 2010, by Steve Munisteri (born 1958), a retired attorney and businessman from Houston.

Lest readers imagine for a moment that Adams is some kind of left-leaning communist sympathizer, Wikipedia elaborates on her political standards.

Adams has long been active in her party’s conservative wing. She started as a GOP election judge and has been a member of district, state, and national resolutions or platform committees. Since 1988, Adams has been a delegate to each state senatorial convention and each state party convention held the first weekend of June in even years. She was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions held in 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. At the 2008 state convention, she was named Republican national committeewoman from Texas. As state party chairman, she automatically remains a member of the RNC.[4]Robin Armstrong, an African American physician from Galveston County, continued as vice chairman of the RPT under Adams’ leadership. He was succeeded as vice chairman on June 12, 2010, by Melinda Fredricks.

Adams, strongly opposed to abortion, was the director of a crisis pregnancy center in Plano in Collin County, Texas, before she joined the board of the Dallas Eagle Forum in the middle 1980s. Adams was the president of DEF for five years until 1993, when she was named Texas state president by Phyllis Schlafly, the founder of the national organization based in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2005, as the Eagle Forum president, Adams questioned what she determined to be a lack of conservative state legislators even within the Republican Party. “Of the 181 elected Texas legislators [House and Senate] serving during the [79th] legislative session and special-called sessions in Austin, only eleven legislators were commended for their conservative voting record.”

All this is not to imply that political conservatism is all bad. Adams is an example of one of those conservative activists doing some good and providing a real service to all true Americans. Without Adams’ diligent work at getting the word out we might never know the horrific dangers of a relaxed and, what I might say, more liberal immigration policy:

Yesterday, End Times radio host Rick Wiles interviewed Cathie Adams, the former head of the Texas Republican Party and current president of the Texas Eagle Forum, in a wide-ranging discussion which included a warning that immigration reform would lead to biometric scanning which, as everyone knows, is a tool of Satan.

If only we had known earlier. We do have radio host Rick Wiles to thank for giving Cathie Adams the critical platform for getting the word out.

Like David vs. Goliath, Rick Wiles is a citizen reporter who decided to take on the Big News Media. Starting with a $7,500 donation in May 1999 to launch the first radio program, Rick’s faith in God and steadfast determination has overseen the growth and development of Trunews into an internationally recognized source of credible news and information in a world where nothing seems to make sense anymore. Rick’s professional career was in media marketing and advertising sales. Throughout his early years, God’s hand silently guided him to be in employed in the latest new media. While in his early 20′s, Rick’s first media job was with a new FM radio station in the days when AM was still king.

In the interview Adams got onto the subject of immigration from Mexico. She was a little disturbed about Mexicans and also people from Muslim countries coming across, supposedly illegally. She also talked about the consequences.

Wiles: Do you know where they’re taking us with this? Because they said the solution to all these lost foreigners in the country, the solution is biometric scanning. That’s where they’re taking us Cathy.

Adams: I do understand that. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard it. And, of course, we know in biblical prophecy that that is the End Times. That is going to be the brand either on our foreheads or on the back of our hands. That is demonic through and through. That is End Times prophecy. There is no question about that. But, you know, another group of people that are coming into our country as refugees are others that are mostly from [Muslim], Hindu, and Buddhist cultures. There are people who are not here because they love America but because they are fleeing countries, and yet, what kind of culture are they bringing here? They want sharia law, just like what they left that was causing them to be persecuted.

Well, I have to agree that having the Mark of the Beast (my phrase) branded on our foreheads or on the backs of our hands is just going to be awful and intolerable to most Americans, but it’s something we will all have to put up with if Adams is correct. And we have her to thank for alerting us to this danger.

But wait. I’m forgetting something. The End of Times business is a well-known packet of horse hockey. As I understand it, in one version of the EoT all true believers (or all without sin in some versions) will be transported to Heaven just like in Star Trek. The rest of us, and that includes us, will be left on this small blue marble in space wondering what happened to all those other people and what’s going to happen to us.

By now you have noticed there are a number of problems with this explanation, one being the very existence of Heaven. Heaven, as readers most likely already know, is a mythical place cooked up as a promised reward for those who agree to give up their souls. Its reality was always only promised and was never actually established. The lost city of Atlantis is more real than Heaven, and Atlantis is a well-known piece of fiction. So if the EoT is real, and true believers are going to be transported to Heaven, then where are they going to be transported to? Does anybody not see what’s wrong with this?

Wait, there’s more. Cathie Adams believes this stuff. That is Cathie Adams,  “former head of the Texas Republican Party and current president of the Texas Eagle Forum,” among other things. These are supposed to be positions of some responsibility, and the person holding or previously having held these positions, believes, truly believes, large expanses of well-established fiction. Oh my God! Maybe we are doomed.

Home with God

All right, here is another post about creationism. I am on the news feed (e-mail list) of the Texas Freedom Network. The TFN is a political action committee (PAC) set up to counter the influence of the religious right in Texas government. I have given them money, and I plan to give more on a regular basis in the future. You should too. Here is their Web site:

This is from a recent TFN post:

Creationist Tells Parents: Science Textbooks Must Acknowledge God’s Word

The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC), run by religious-right activist Tim Lambert, is promoting arch-creationist Ken Ham’s speech at the group’s convention in The Woodlands near Houston next month. An email to the group’s supporters today includes a link to a revealing essay on Ham’s Answers in Genesis website: “Should Homeschoolers Let Children Decide on Evolution?”

It’s revealing because it demonstrates the lengths to which anti-science extremists will go in undermining the education of children and handicapping their ability to succeed in the 21st century. That’s important to keep in mind as the State Board of Education prepares to adopt new science textbooks this year for Texas public schools. What those textbooks teach about evolution will be at the center of the adoption debate.

The author of the essay THSC is promoting, Elizabeth Mitchell, doesn’t argue that home-schooled students should learn about creationism as an alternative to evolution. She goes much further, arguing that students should simply be taught to reject evolution altogether and accept creationism[.]

Elizabeth Mitchell has an interesting background. Here is her biographical page from the Answers in Genesis Web site:

Talented AiG researcher and writer Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell received a bachelor of science in chemistry from Furman University in 1980, graduating summa cum laude. She graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville in 1984 and completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Affiliated Hospitals in 1988. She earned board certification and fellowship in the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Mitchell enjoyed practicing medicine in Gallatin, Tennessee (near Nashville), but in 1995 she retired from private practice to devote herself more fully to the needs of her three children. As a homeschooling parent for fifteen years, she particularly enjoyed making history come alive. Whether in her medical office, church, or home, Dr. Mitchell’s goal has always been to build knowledge and understanding by making information clear and interesting. She pursues that goal today as a writer for Answers in Genesis. Dr. Mitchell’s articles have covered topics ranging from Egyptian and biblical history to embryonic development and childbirth, from unicorns and aliens to science education and the Resurrection of Christ.

Dr. Mitchell is best known for authoring AiG’s weekly web feature “News to Note” since April 2011. The wife of popular AiG speaker Dr. Tommy Mitchell, Elizabeth operates under the conviction that accurate history never violates biblical history, that correct scientific understanding of our past will never contradict God’s eyewitness account in the Bible, and that genuine understanding of God’s Word builds faith in Jesus Christ.

I especially appreciate Mitchell’s view that “accurate history never violates biblical history,” and that “correct scientific understanding of our past will never contradict God’s eyewitness account in the Bible.” A 21st century citizen can get a lot of mileage out of this useful knowledge. Or not. If you follow up on the TFN post you can read Mitchell’s comments:

How should Christian homeschooling parents approach topics like biological evolution, big bang cosmology, and the age of the earth? Christianity Today’s recent article “A New Creation Story: Why do more homeschoolers want evolution in their textbooks?” suggests that science materials that present “all viewpoints” about origins are becoming more popular.

Mitchell speaks of a post in Christianity Today:

A New Creation Story
Why do more homeschoolers want evolution in their textbooks?
Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
[ posted 4/29/2013 7:21AM ]

Christian homeschool science textbooks have long taught young earth creationism (YEC) almost exclusively. But observers say a growing number of parents want texts that also teach evolution.

“Homeschooling has broadened so much, and now includes many Christian groups who have never adopted [YEC],” said homeschool pioneer Susan Wise Bauer, a history professor at Virginia’s College of William and Mary. “Also, there are a lot of younger evangelicals who have come to a different way of understanding Genesis, while still holding [on to their] evangelical roots.”

Numbers on the trend are hard to pin down. Still, BioLogos president Deborah Haarsma says that it’s “fairly common” for homeschooling families to request materials from her organization, which promotes theistic evolution. Some of these parents still believe in a young earth, says program director Kathryn Applegate, but they want their children exposed to different perspectives.

Mitchell explores the questions of whether denying modern biological science (evolution) will work to the detriment of students’ futures and whether accepting evolution will “hurt their relationship with God.” She goes on to probe the issue from the viewpoint of fundamentalist home schoolers:

Homeschoolers are a diverse group. Nevertheless, a 2007 U.S. Department of Education survey reported that 83 percent of parents who home educate consider passing on religious or moral instruction to be one of their goals, and 36 percent considered this to be the top reason they homeschool.

Because many homeschooling parents are Christians concerned about bringing up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), they prefer curricula that help them build strong foundations both academically and spiritually. Historically, once homeschooling became well established in the United States, textbook companies wishing to tap into that market developed materials that would help parents achieve these goals. The need for curricula with a Christian focus did not originate with the homeschool movement. Christian schools had the same needs. But materials better adapted to take advantage of individual learning styles and to encourage independent thinking became quite popular.

A lot of Mitchell’s thesis seems beside the point. The modern world is yearly becoming more fact-based and has been for several centuries. There is an increasing need in our lives to rely on what is true rather than what is wished. We can wish human activities were not causing global warming, but we still have to live with the consequences. If we chafe at the consequences then we also need to accept the human cause, else we will continue to grasp at alternative theories rather than fix the problem. We can ignore our common ancestry with other species but this will require we accept that science is subject to opinion rather than evidence. With science downgraded to the level of a political football in the eyes of today’s students, there will be little motivation by them to take future scientific findings seriously, only to the detriment of society as a whole.

As an aside, the news is not good for religious fundamentalists. The trend today and for the past several years is a movement away from religion. Church attendance is down, and young people are increasingly choosing “none of the above” when asked about religious preferences. Confronted with either the loss of faith or the loss of fact, facts are becoming more important than they may have been previously. Sooner or later the truth does matter.

Anyhow, forget about just creationism. The picture is much bigger. If you watch much Fox News or even listen to Rush Limbaugh you might soon get the idea that America’s conservative base could benefit from a science lesson. In fact, somebody has posted just that on YouTube. Watch it for your own amusement, but please don’t laugh too loudly. I need to get my sleep.

Jesus Christ, Reza Aslan

Judas: “My mind is clearer now – at last all too well. I can see where we all soon will be If you strip away the myth from the man.” Andrew Lloyd Webber put the question to song:

Jesus Christ Superstar
Do you think you’re what they say you are?

Of course, that’s only theater. Real life is something else. Or is it.

Fox News, after a pause, has come back fighting against criticism of their interview with Reza Aslan, a Muslim scholar who wrote a book about Jesus. And as the discussion about a book that’s more or less a William Manchester-style literary biography (that is, one steeped in scholarship, but written for the mainstream) of the historical Jesus spirals further and further away from, you know, the actual content of the book itself, what’s emerging is a deep, conservative fear, and anger, concerning the audacity and bias of non-Christians who discuss the content of the Bible.

Here’s what the fuss is all about:

Religious scholar Reza Aslan recently appeared on the show Spirited Debate and the host insisted that his being a Muslim somehow affects the quality of his new book about Jesus. The whole ordeal was embarrassing for Fox News, but things are only going to get better from here for the author.
Aslan appeared on the online show on Friday to promote his new book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, about how the environment Jesus grew up in shaped him. But host Lauren Green didn’t want to talk about the book so much as she wanted to talk about how Aslan is a Muslim. “You’re a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?” was Green’s very first question. “Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament, and fluency in biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades, who also just happens to be a Muslim,” Aslan politely replied. Green doesn’t give up, though, the interview goes downhill from there:

What seems to have happened is that a religious scholar, that is a person whose profession is the study of religion—not just a scholar who is also religious—has done some serious study of Jesus of Nazareth, and he’s catching flack from a right wing media mouth over it. Objections are coming on two counts: 1) Aslan is a Muslim, not a Christian, and 2) he does not fall all over himself glorifying a popular myth.

The Fox News interview has been making the Internet rounds for the past week, nourishing a flush of spirited comment from more nimble minds.

The whole ten minute appearance is embarrassing for the news network, even if it was an online show, for a number of reasons. As Uproxx’s Josh Kurp points out: “At no point does Fox News realize the irony of persecuting someone over their religion in a discussion about Jesus.” That’s probably the biggest one.

While Fox appeared to be scrambling to recover by dealing another hand from the same deck, the crowd this network caters to is all the while missing a more urgent reality: Aslan’s comments came closer to adoration than what an honest critic could have delivered: The god of the Muslims and the Christians and the Jews compares to a comic book character, such as Superman, in that comic book heroes have a slightly stronger basis in truth. An earnest and conscientious analyst would advise the listener that Jesus was not the offspring of a made up story. Fox News listeners and others who buy into this fable need to be thankful they are not being openly reminded of their foolishness on a daily basis. If the complainers would take a clear look at what happened they would realize they got an easy ride due to Aslan’s true religious bias. If Aslan needed to press religious bias, then as a Muslim he might be expected to support the virgin birth of Jesus:

Among the persons of Sacred History mentioned in the Koran, the Virgin Mary occupies an important position on the historical and dogmatic plane. In addition to being the object of as many as thirty-four direct or indirect references, Mary also gives Sura XIX its name and is its central figure as the mother of Jesus. The characteristic note of references to the Virgin in the Koran and, to an even greater extent, in Islamic tradition, can be seen both in the information about her genealogy and her childhood—a part of which is more detailed than in the four Gospels—and in the language and way of narration which are seen to be particularly significant. Without going deeply into the question of the validity of the information and of the vast Islamic exegetics or “Mariology” to which it has given rise, we will limit ourself here to recalling that the sources of Moslem tradition are, in this connection, the Arab Gospel of Childhood, the Protogospel of James, the Gospel of Pseudo Matthew, the traditions of judaizing Christians and the Hadith.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber may have penned the ultimate take on the mystery of Jesus:

I don’t know how to take this
I don’t see why he moves me
He’s a man he’s just a man
And I’ve had so many men before in very many ways.

“He’s just one more.”

Pork Chop War

Sixty years ago today an armistice ended the formal fighting in the so-called Korean War. The story goes back a way.

The first 200 years of Joseon were marked by relative peace and saw the creation of the Korean alphabet Hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14th century and the rise in influence of Confucianism in the country. During the later part of the dynasty, however, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the Western nickname the “Hermit kingdom”. By the late 19th century, the country became the object of the colonial designs of Japan. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and remained a colony until the end of World War II in August 1945.

In 1945, the Soviet Union and the United States agreed on the surrender of Japanese forces in Korea in the aftermath of World War II, leaving Korea partitioned along the 38th parallel, with the north under Soviet occupation and the south under U.S. occupation. These circumstances soon became the basis for the division of Korea by the two superpowers, exacerbated by their inability to agree on the terms of Korean independence. The two Cold War rivals then established governments centered around their own respective ideologies, leading to Korea’s division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.

The Soviet Union installed Kim Il-sung as head of a communist government in North Korea. All indications are that Kim was prime for the position, having lived in exile in the Soviet Union and having acquired strong communist sympathies. He joined the Communist Party in China in 1931. From the beginning he sought the unification of Korea under his communist government.

In the South Syngman Rhee was appointed by the United States to head up the Korean government, at least in the South. Rhee was a authoritarian strongman and ruled ruthlessly. He put down communist opposition with arrest, torture and summary executions. One goal of his was to attack the North and unite Korea under his rule.

Both the Soviet Union and the United States withdrew their military forces from the Korean peninsula as agreed, and the United States decided against arming the South, mainly due to Rhee’s known intent to attack the North. In the mean time Kim in the North worked diligently to build up a fighting force that made good use of his own experience with infiltration and guerrilla warfare. Soviet Union dictator Joseph Stalin at first refused to give his backing to Kim’s war plans, but a sympathetic communist government in China expressed support for the invasion, and Stalin’s intelligence indicated that American president Truman would not defend the South. Stalin gave his approval, and North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel on 25 June 1950.

Initially the forces of the South and the American forces that came to their defense were routed, and they retreated to a small pocket at the south end of the country. Then American General Douglas MacArthur launched an amphibious attack at Inchon, which resulted in the capture of the Korean capital of Seoul and turned the tide of the war. United Nations forces drove the North Koreans back almost to the Chinese border, creating both a sense of victory and also a serious military and political provocation.

Communist Chinese dictator Mao Zedong feared MacArthur’s plan was ultimately to invade China, and nothing that MacArthur did or said indicated otherwise. Chinese troops secretly crossed into North Korea and on 25 October 1950 attacked United Nations forces, driving them back to about the 38th parallel.

And that’s where the war stagnated from June 1951 to the present time. The remaining two years of active conflict involved holding ground and killing enemy forces. Approximately 12,000 American soldiers died during this stalemated conflict.

Logistically crippled and suffering heavy casualties, in early 1951 the Chinese began to make inquiries about a truce. MacArthur would have none of this, and his vocal disagreements with higher military authority and with the President led to his dismissal in April 1951. Truce negotiations with the Chinese began on 10 July 1951, a little more than a year after the war started and two years before the final cessation of fighting.

During the two years’ of negotiations the Chinese were obstinate, and, realizing the war was likely to remain static for some time to come, held out for the best deal they could get. And that’s what the movie is all about.

Movie poster from Wikipedia

Gregory Peck is Lieutenant Joe Clemons, who is ordered by his commanders to retake Pork Chop Hill, recently overrun by the Chinese. Nobody wants to do this, because the war is grinding to a halt and will likely be over in a few weeks, even days or hours. Nobody wants to be the last person shipped home in a body bag from this war that few Americans favor.

The movie is all about the April 1953 battle for Pork Chop Hill. It’s about how politics drive war, how wars and battles are mismanaged and about how soldiers at the cutting edge get through it all. Or not.

This was the first American war with a racially integrated fighting force, and in this movie we see black soldiers fighting along side Gregory Peck. We saw black soldiers in war movies before, such as Red Ball Express, but in these films the black troops were performing support roles. Here they are shooting rifles and charging machine gun nests.

Except one soldier is Private Franklen played by Woody Strode. Franklen is a shirker, and as his fellow troops charge up the hill in the dark he tries to lie down and play dead. Clemons orders him to his feet and threatens him with court martial if he doesn’t get with the program. Clemons ultimately puts Franklen under the watch of another black soldier, played by Clarence Williams III, and Franklen ultimately survives the movie and redeems himself.

There are other notables in the film, including Robert Blake, no longer a street urchin in Treasure of the Sierra Madre or the Indian sidekick to Bill Elliot in the Red Rider movies. Martin Landau has yet to play the bad man in North by Northwest or the ace undercover operative in the Mission Impossible series. There’s also Harry Guardino, Rip Torn, George Peppard, Norman Fell and Bill Wellman, Jr.

Anyhow, the men of Clemons’ company struggle up the hill in the dark, encountering concertina wire they had been assured was flattened by artillery, enduring being accidentally illuminated for the benefit of the Chinese by search light from their own side and a devastating artillery round the men are sure came from their own side. Communications are abysmal, and support the company is supposed to receive never materializes. Communication blunders give the upper command the false impression that Clemons’ company is not short on food or ammunition, and when the remnants of another company finally arrive to reinforce them at the top of the hill, that company is ordered to pull back in the mistaken belief that all is well on Pork Chop Hill.

Meanwhile the armistice negotiations drag on, with the Chinese negotiators being portrayed as obstinate, intransigent and insulting. One Chinese officer is shown smoking his cigarette in a holder, gazing toward the ceiling and taking off his head phones as an American admiral attempts to talk reason. What the American negotiators fail to comprehend is that the Chinese are politically motivated in a way the Americans can never be. The Chinese are willing to trade lives for small gains, up to a point as it turned out in real life.

When Clemons’ company regains the position previously overrun by the Chinese, they relieve a small band of American troops who have held out all this time. Then, when the Chinese counterattack, Clemons and his men are, themselves, forced to hole up and prepare for annihilation.

Anybody viewing this movie, as I just did, in 2013 is bound to ask the question, “Why didn’t the Air Force just come over and blast those Chinese into the hereafter?” In fact, our Air Force was all the while blasting North Korea regularly with B-29 bombing runs. Somebody quoted the figures to me that we dropped more tons of bombs on North Korea than we did on Nazi Germany. The fact is that close air support at the level expected by our troops today just was not available in the early 1950s. The movie depicts the reality of those days and is reported to be an accurate account of the April battle.

About this time the Americans at the armistice negotiations realize that the Chinese have figured the Americans are not willing to make sacrifices, so the Americans decide to reinforce their troops on Pork Chop Hill. Reinforcements arrive just as the Chinese are attacking the holed up troops with flame throwers, and the survivors of the original force trudge back down the hill. And that’s the end of the movie.

But that was not the end of the war. On 11 July 1953 the Chinese counterattacked, and American forces withdrew from Pork Chop Hill and left it in North Korean hands when the armistice was signed, sixty years ago today.

Still a virgin after all these years

I am impressed. Did I say “impressed?” I am really impressed. In this jaded era, blown free of purity and naivety by the relentless winds of instant communication and instant gratification, on a planet that shrinks daily to the width of a smart phone screen and with hard reality just a click away on the TV remote, I am impressed that even an ounce of mental innocence remains, let alone the buckets full that spilled at a recent gathering.

CPAC Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Whites Arrive

A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.

The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”

The event was CPAC 2013 held in National Harbor, Maryland, from 14 to 16 March 2013. CPAC is the Conservative Action Conference, and the March event was one of several scheduled this year. I don’t have a copy of the event program, but CBS News posted a summary. The theme was “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.”

So, you’re a conservative guy, and you believe in racial equality to a degree, but you are concerned that white guys are being moved to the back of the bus while black people are living off welfare at your expense. Where are you going to go? If you guessed the Democratic Party you are dead wrong. The Democrats are the party of entitlement and government give-aways, and discrimination against whites, like you. You may not feel completely at home in the Republican Party either, because those guys integrated public schools over 50 years ago, and they have continually sidled up to the Democrats as they handed privilege and power to the blacks. George Lincoln Rockwell is long dead, and the American Nazi Party no longer gets much political traction in this time of renewed national pride. Also there is an awful stench attached to the Ku Klux Klan, and besides you have to wear those silly-looking hoods. But wait, there is still the Tea Party movement.

While the movement is not all about white pride and racial discrimination, it seems to be the closest safe harbor for many of the radical right element who seek the sheen of respectability. So it happened that a number of the disaffected white pride showed up at CPAC 2013 in March. This was apparent at the “Trump The Race Card” session.

According to Talking Points Memo’s Benjy Sarlin, the trouble began at the “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” session when the black conservative leading it, K. Carl Smith, began describing the Democratic Party as the party of the KKK, and urging white conservatives to begin referring to themselves as “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”

For those who don’t read, Frederick Douglass was born a slave in the United States about 1818, and he later escaped from his owner and gained his freedom by obtaining the papers of a freed black seaman and fleeing to New York State. He had previously learned to read, a crime for slaves at the time, and with his freedom he became an eloquent speaker and writer for the abolition of slavery and for equal freedom to all. His last owner of record was Thomas Auld:

In 1833, Thomas Auld took Douglass back from Hugh after a dispute (“[a]s a means of punishing Hugh,” Douglass wrote). Dissatisfied with Douglass, Thomas Auld sent him to work for Edward Covey, a poor farmer who had a reputation as a “slave-breaker.” He whipped Douglass regularly. The sixteen-year-old Douglass was nearly broken psychologically by his ordeal under Covey, but he finally rebelled against the beatings and fought back. After losing a physical confrontation with Douglass, Covey never tried to beat him again.

Frederick Douglass (image from Wikipedia)

Free in 1848 Douglass wrote a letter to Auld that read in part:

I will now bring this letter to a close, you shall hear from me again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery—as a means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deepening their horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the American church and clergy—and as a means of bringing this guilty nation with yourself to repentance. In doing this I entertain no malice towards you personally. There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege, to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other. I am your fellow man, but not your slave,

So, this came up in the discussions at the March CPAC.

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

The ingratitude! Imagine that. Thomas Auld took Douglass in and housed him and clothed him and gave him food and steady employment at a time with jobs for poor black people were hard to come by. And Douglass was not grateful? Scott Terry finds that hard to comprehend. So do I.

What I find hard to comprehend is the intellectual poverty of somebody like Scott Terry, who fails to realize that the days of the Old South are over and have been for nearly 150 years, and that it’s not OK to buy and sell black folks anymore.

Well, at least Terry was not alone in his quaint view of the world. At CPAC he had come to the shining beacon of such views:

The exchange occurred after an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.

See, Terry is not such a maverick after all. He knows the exact place to bring his views. He is comfortable to know his freedom of expression would not be quite so welcome at a Democratic Party function. No sir.

But wait. Moderator Carl Smith had earlier made the point that respectable conservative should distance themselves from the Democratic Party:

Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.

“I don’t care how much the KKK improved,” he said. “I’m not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK.”

Smith is right. It was the Republican Party that abolished slavery 150 years ago, and it was the Democratic Party in the Old South that continued to support suppression of black citizens for nearly a hundred years until… Until Franklin Roosevelt was elected as a very liberal president in 1932, and Democratic President Harry Truman desegregated the United States armed services. The kicker came in the presidential election of 1964 when Barry Goldwater was nominated, and movie actor Ronald Reagan explained to Republicans at the nominating convention how bad and nonconservative had been the policies of Democratic presidents Kennedy and Johnson. In that year conservatives began to see the light and to make their shift from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. This day the Confederate flag never waves at a Democratic Party function, and the Old South is nearly wall to wall Republican.

If Carl Smith is concerned about the welfare of the KKK he can put his mind at ease. The KKK still has a small place in the hearts of some people, and he never had to look very far from his podium at the March CPAC to find that place.

Call Me Bwana

I first heard the term a long time ago, and it went like this. There was a standard feature in Reader’s Digest titled Humor in Uniform. It was about funny happenings related to military life, which can be quite humorous.

Anyhow, there was this story about a cadet pilot at Graham Air Force Base, which was a training field in Florida. A big milestone in pilot training is the first solo flight, the first time the trainee goes up alone, without an instructor along. So this trainee was up on his first solo flight, and the exuberance was overwhelming, and he needed to share the joy. He got on the radio in flagrant violation of procedure and announced, “Graham Tower, this is Graham Cracker. Eat me!” The tower came back with the bad news, “Consider yourself eaten. You’re the only one in the air.” That was the end of Graham Cracker’s flight training.

At the time I was not familiar with “cracker” in this context, but I later became acquainted with the term “Georgia Cracker,” and I began to get the idea. A cracker was some kind of southern country hick. OK, I can comprehend that.

The term has come up again recently. In February last year an unarmed teenager was shot to death in a scuffle with a resident of a housing community in Sanford, Florida. The dead person’s name was Trayvon Martin, and just before the altercation he was on his phone talking to his girlfriend and complaining about being stalked by a “creepy ass cracker.” The teenager was black, and the man with the gun, one George Zimmerman, was white. So, you get the idea. To this particular victim the idea of a creepy white man is a cracker.

George Zimmerman mug shot

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white man followed by no subsequent prosecution enraged Martin’s family, and many others. There was the consideration that racial profiling was involved in Zimmerman’s stalking Martin. Previous to the shooting Zimmerman had been on the phone to police saying he was following a black man, Martin, who had come into the neighborhood and was acting suspiciously. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, had a history of calling police about suspicious black characters. Anyhow, Zimmerman was subsequently prosecuted for the shooting and was acquitted. Zimmerman claimed Martin initiated the fight, and that was enough for a finding of self defense. The racial implications of the case linger, and there is a curious sidebar. A number of people have taken sides over who was at fault for the shooting, and Martin’s reference to Zimmerman is being tagged as racial by his detractors.

Rachel Jeantel, the troubled young woman who was speaking on the phone to Trayvon Martin just before he was killed, testified in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial that Martin called Zimmerman a “creepy [ass] cracka” before their violent confrontation.

The quote is not from one of Martin’s detractors but from the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, who says additionally:

I’ve been warning for the past 23 years that black racism is out-of-control – it appears black racism killed Trayvon Martin, and Paula Deen’s career!

Paula Deen, of course, is the TV chef who has been dumped by sponsors for perceived racial prejudice. Which gets us back to the word “cracker.” Americans, and I am sure others do, have a name for just about every type of person. We have Yankee, gringo, honky, cracker, Cajun, coon ass, injunCanuk, mick, wop, dago, kike, spic, Hun, jerry, kraut, Jap, gook, chink, and nigger. Most of these terms are derogatory and considered to be racial slurs. Some not so much so. Cajuns universally wear the appellation “coon ass” with pride.

I was explaining all these names to some French friends a few years ago, and one asked if we had a name for the French. Of course we do have a derisive name for the French (frog), but I told my friends I did not know of any such and we just called them French.

The origins of these names go way back, some starting out as pejorative but later rehabilitated. Others have innocent beginnings but ultimately became slurs. Yankee is from the Dutch term for “John Cheese,” a really stupid person. That’s what the Dutch colonists in what is now New York called the English who came in to take over. When American troops invaded Mexico about 1846 the Irish troops sang Green Grow the Violets, and the Mexicans translated this into gringo. When Italian immigrants showed up at Ellis  Island without papers their forms were stamped WOP. Jewish immigrants got a circle (kikel) placed on their forms. Irish immigrants were called mick for Michael. Arcadian settlers in Louisiana were soon called Cajuns. Negro is the Spanish word for black, and black Africans were called Negroes. Slave owners needed to dehumanize them to feel comfortable with the crime they were committing, and they called the slaves niggers. The term has never had a good meaning, and these days it is never pronounced in a polite context on television. News anchors have to use the term “N word” or lose their jobs.

It’s possible the issue of racially sensitive language has slipped downhill in the past 30 years. I keep getting back to this SNL clip featuring comedians Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor. It may be we can’t do this anymore.

Interviewer: Alright, Mr. Wilson, you’ve done just fine on the Rorshact.. your papers are in good order.. your file’s fine.. no difficulties with your motor skills.. And I think you’re probably ready for this job. We’ve got one more psychological test we always do here. It’s just a Word Association. I’ll throw you out a few words – anything that comes to your mind, just throw back at me, okay? It’s kind of an arbitrary thing. Like, if I say “dog”, you’d say..?

Mr. Wilson: “Tree”.

And then later:

Mr. Wilson: [ defensive ] “Cracker!”

Interviewer: [ aggressive ] “Spearchucker.”

Mr. Wilson: “White trash!”

Interviewer: “Jungle Bunny!”

Mr. Wilson: [ upset ] “Honky!”

Interviewer: “Spade!”

Mr. Wilson: [ really upset ] “Honky Honky!”

Interviewer: [ relentless ] “Nigger!”

Mr. Wilson: [ immediate ] “Dead honky!” [ face starts to flinch ]

It’s funny, of course, and you can watch a video on YouTube.

Americans have conjured up derisive terms for the enemy in various wars, because it makes it easier to kill somebody if you can first demote them in the chain of humanity. But nobody that night in February 2012 was calling anybody a nigger. Somebody called another person a cracker.

Cracker, sometimes white cracker or cracka, is a derogatory term for white people, especially poor rural whites in the Southern United States. In reference to a native of Florida or Georgia, however, it is sometimes used in a neutral or positive context and is sometimes used self-descriptively with pride.

The origins go way back:

The term “cracker” was in use during Elizabethan times to describe braggarts. The original root of this is the Middle English word crack meaning “entertaining conversation” (One may be said to “crack” a joke; a witty remark is a “wisecrack”). This term and the Gaelic spelling “craic” are still in use in Ireland and Scotland. It is documented in Shakespeare’s King John (1595): “What cracker is this… that deafes our eares / With this abundance of superfluous breath?”

One fault line in the Zimmerman case was along the issue of gun rights. Some on Zimmerman’s side saw this as a gun rights issue. What’s the use of have a right to carry a gun if you are going to be prosecuted the first time you kill somebody? Lacking any knowledge about motivation, I will cite a couple of remarks from Facebook postings. These apparently are in response to the Reverend Peterson’s post:

Shelly Phillips Biggs[:] Good article. I’m so sick of everyone (media, law enforcement, courts, etc) assuming when someone is referred to as a racist, they can hardly believe it may be someone other that whites! Liked this section: Whites have to overcome the fear of being called “racist.”

Chuck Tilbury[:] I used to flinch if someone called me a racist or a bigot. Not any more. I know who I am. (not a bigot) And, I know a liar when I see one. And if someone goes around telling lies about me, should I get all angry and try to get revenge? Nope. It only pl…See More

It would seem that learning Martin had called Zimmerman a cracker let’s some people salve their consciences. When I first read this on Facebook I wondered what these people had done to be called racist, but I never followed up on it. It would appear that some have recently become racially sensitive if they were not already. Here’s another item. Jason Easley posted an inflammatory comment about Texas governor Perry, and somebody on Facebook considered this pertinent to the discussion:

Rick ‘Niggerhead’ Perry Tells African Americans There’s No Racism In the Justice System On CNN today, Gov. Rick Perry took a break from stealing the rights of women to let African Americans know that there is no racism in the justice system. CROWLEY: Watching the action across the nation to the not guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s murder trial people have gathered in the streets of downtown Chicago. Federal and state officials are keeping a close eye but mostly things have been pretty calm. In just a moment I will talk to the governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn. I want to go first to Texas and Republican governor Rick Perry made a lot of news this weekend. Also a lot of news being made in Florida, governor. So let’s start there. What do you make of the Zimmerman verdict and the reaction to it? PERRY: Candy, without a doubt, a tragic event and as your experts you had on the previous segment they did a very good job of laying out the details of the case. And the issue boils down to you had two very, very capable teams, prosecutors and the defense teams laying out the evidence and the jury made the decision. And although, you know, there maybe people on either side of this that don’t agree with how it came out, the fact is that we have the best judicial system in the world and we respect it. And you know, that’s my position is that a very thoughtful case was made by each side, the jurors made the decision, and we will live with that.

I cannot find from the darkest reaches of my soul find any excuse for calling Perry “Niggerhead,” and the extreme racial slant of the post is completely uncalled for. However, my perception is that this link was posted on Facebook as a way of diluting the significance of an apparent racial bias in the Zimmerman case.

One thing that keeps being emphasized in the discussion is that Zimmerman is also a racial minority. Despite having a German surname he bills himself as Hispanic. So, where’s the white on black racism if Zimmerman is not white? Doesn’t that kind of diffuse the racist slant of this episode? I am guessing it does, else why would defenders of Zimmerman ever bring it up? Further, if Zimmerman is not, in fact, “white,” then where is the black on white racism?

Taking a closer look, Zimmerman’s father is of German ancestry (“white”), and his mother is from Peru, of part black African and part Spanish (white) ancestry. Call me color blind if you want, but from all appearances Zimmerman is white. I have seen snowflakes darker than Zimmerman. Anyhow, there was enough similarity to fool Martin, who told his girlfriend on the phone he was being stalked by a creepy ass Cracker, the source of claims for black on white racism.

From the words that have been flying back and forth on the issue it would appear there is a passel of white folks who identify with the term cracker and are lightly insulted and freshly self-righteous.

Which brings me around to the title of this post. I never did get to see the film when it first came out in 1963, and I have not been able to catch it since on Turner Classic Movies. It stars Bob Hope and its title is Call Me Bwana. I will do a review the next time I get a chance (need to watch it first), but I have always considered I had the title figured out.

As a youngster I saw many B movies at the local theater in my home town, and I could count on more than one a year being set in Africa with European hunters or such with a hired gang of local black Africans. In these movies the hired hands seemed to call all white people “Bwana.”

from Swahili, meaning an important person or safari leader

To me it always seemed that being called cracker was not all that far from being called Bwana. All you crackers out there can write in and let me know your preference.

The Wells Fargo Wagon

Ron Howard is one of the industry’s foremost motion picture directors, his notable works including Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. However, my favorite Ron Howard role was that of young child Winthrop Paroo in The Music Man. When the Wells Fargo wagon finally arrives bringing the musical instruments, the withdrawn Winthrop bursts out in song, although he does not sing this part of the famous melody:

O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ down the street,
Oh please let it be for me!
O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ down the street,
I wish, I wish I knew what it could be!

The entire town has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the instruments for the River City Boys Band, and the day has finally arrived. With that setting you can imagine the disappointment the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) when their Wells Fargo wagon was waylaid at the Panama Canal.

O-ho the Wells Fargo Wagon is a-comin’ now
Is it a prepaid surprise or C.O.D.
It could be curtains!
Or dishes!
Or a double boiler!
Or it could be
Yes, it could be
Yes, you’re right it surely could be
Somethin’ special
Somethin’ very, very special now
Just for me!

No, Democratic (I blush) People’s Republic of Korea. It was none of those.

COLON, Panama (Reuters) – Panamanian investigators unloading the cargo of a seized North Korean ship that carried arms from Cuba have found the two MiG-21 fighter jets the Cuban government had said were on board, the government said on Sunday.

Alongside the two supersonic planes, originally produced by the Soviet Union in the late 1950s, officials found two missile radar systems on board the Chong Chon Gang, President Ricardo Martinelli told reporters in the Atlantic port of Colon.

The discovery, which included cables and electrical equipment, was made inside containers on the ship Panama had feared might contain explosive material. None was found.

After stopping the vessel bound for North Korea last week, Panama revealed it had found weapons in the cargo hold late on Monday. In response, Cuba said the shipment contained a range of “obsolete” arms being sent to North Korea for repair.

Oh, my. Little Winthrop of the DPRK is going to be sorely disappointed when the Wells Fargo wagon, or rather the good ship Chong Chon Gang, arrives at the port of Wonsan without the musical instruments. That is, provided the good ship Chong Chon Gang arrives at all. There is a story behind that.

It was 60 years ago this month that the United Nations forces and the North Koreans hammered out an armistice that stopped the three-years Korean War, otherwise known as the police action to prevent dictator Kim Il-sung of the North and dictator Syngman Rhee of the South from strangling each other. There’s going to be another post about that later this week, along with a review of the movie Pork Chop Hill, which is all about the fighting that was pushed by both sides to gain fractional advantage during the closing hours of the armistice negotiations.

Anyhow, the armistice of 27 July 1953 left the communists dictator in charge in the North and the not so communist dictator in charge in the South with the result being that South Korea enjoyed burgeoning trade and economic relations with the capitalist powers of The West, including the United States, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and most of South and Central America. The South became an economic and industrial powerhouse.

North Korea was left to engage in business with the failing economies of the Soviet Union, the communist Easter Bloc states and ultimately the (not so democratic people’s) Republic of Cuba. The DPRK’s mentor, the People’s Republic of China eventually saw the capitalist road to prosperity but was never able to drag its southern cousin along into the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first. Ultimately the world of the DPRK came to embrace such beacons of enlightenment and prosperity as Iran, Syria, the failed Libyan dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi and Venezuela. You need only to view a satellite photo of the Korean Peninsula at night to see the difference. The south is a sea of light, and the North is a dark pit. The armistice line that marks the boundary between the two is obvious.

Anyhow, 27 July 1953 was only an armistice. There was never any peace treaty to end the war in Korea. We (the United States and the United Nations) are still at war with the DPRK. We could resume shooting at any time.

Since the armistice the DPRK has gone its self-delusional way, telling its people the world is against them (and making it so) and telling them they are so much better off than people in capitalistic countries, such as South Korea where they keep the lights on everywhere all night long.

By all accounts the DPRK is one of the most economically depressed areas in the world with little in the way of legitimate exports. Which brings us to illegitimate exports. One way the DPRK has found to make money is to develop and export missile and nuclear weapon technology. Western powers, even China, have frowned on this practice. As a result of the DPRK’s practices there is an embargo of DPRK arms trade that is enforced by the United Nations and other powers, including the United States. In violation of these restrictions, items of war from the DPRK have found their way into the hands of rogue powers in Libya (before Gaddafi was killed) and the Middle East. Apparently the Republic of Cuba is also a customer.

American agencies had been tracking the path of the Chong Chon Gang, which has a history of drug smuggling, and they advised Panamanian officials to inspect the ship before it transited the Panama Canal. Apparently the port authorities in Panama boarded the ship and asked to see the cargo manifest. When they wanted to see more the Korean crew rested, strongly.

When Panamanian officials began looking inside containers stuffed with over 250,000 100-kg (220-lb) bags of brown sugar, the captain became violent, Mulino said.

The captain, a North Korean citizen like the crew, tried to slit his throat with a knife, a police official said. The man was in hospital in stable condition, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ben Rhode, a North Korea security expert at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, suggested the captain’s suicide attempt might have been an effort to escape severe punishment by officials in North Korea for failing to carry out his mission.

All 35 members of the crew of the ship, which is called Chong Chon Gang, were arrested after resisting Panamanian orders and are now being questioned at Fort Sherman, a former U.S. Army Base on the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal, the official added.

The DPRK has protested and has demanded the ship be released and allowed to proceed to home port. Not likely. My guess is Winthrop of the DPRK is going to have to wait a long long time for the Wells Fargo Wagon.

O-ho the Wellth Fargo Wagon ith a-comin’ now,
I don’t know how I can ever wait to thee.
It could be thumpin’ for thumone who is
No relation but it could be thump’n thpethyul
Just for me!

Tangier, not Panama, but that’s the best I can do


Bad Joke of the Week

OK, this one is bad.

A man and a woman were sitting beside each other in the first class section
of the plane. The woman sneezed, took out a tissue, gently wiped her nose
and then shuddered quite violently for 10 or 15 seconds.

The man went back to his reading.

A few minutes later, the woman sneezed again, took a tissue, gently wiped
her nose and shuddered quite violently as before.

The man was becoming more and more curious about the shuddering.

A few more minutes passed and the woman sneezed one more time. Again she took a tissue, gently wiped her nose and shuddered violently.

The man couldn’t restrain his curiosity. He turned to the woman and said, “You’ve sneezed three times, wiped you nose with a tissue, then shuddered violently! Are you all right?”

“I’m sorry if I disturbed you,” the woman replied, “I have a rare condition- when I sneeze, I have an orgasm.”

The man was a little embarrassed but even more curious and said, “I’ve never heard of that before. What are you taking for it?”

The woman looked at him and said, “Pepper.”

Over Redundant

This is kind of crazy, but there is humor to compensate.

A little over 40 years ago I worked for this engineering company in Austin, and we submitted a bid on an Army contract to build a machine to unscramble 20mm ammunition. I can explain this best if I tell the story a little out of sequence.

Upon being awarded the contract three of us went to the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Missouri, just east of Kansas City. Anyhow, while we were there we got to see how they made the ammunition. What I found extremely interesting was the machine that spit out 7.62mm rounds. The plant was operated by Remington Arms, and there was this machine that made cartridges for rifles and machine guns. At the back end of the machine was a chute, and a steady stream of finished cartridges spewed out into a bin. Our tour guide advised us the production cost (1972) was about a penny a round. It was enough to give Wayne LaPierre a hard on.

Anyhow, another machine completed the process of assembling 20mm ammunition. Our tour guide advised us the production cost was about $1 each. The cartridges exited the process standing upright on their rear base on a flat metal plate. As more cartridges finished the assembly process and exited the machine they crowded the other cartridges already finished, and those previous cartridges eventually tumbled off the edge of the plate into a waiting cart.

Right away I saw the problem. The cartridges were already standing upright when they exited the machine. All that should have been necessary was to capture the product in this well-organized arrangement, and there would be no need for a subsequent unscrambling operation. But I kept my mouth closed, because if there was no need to unscramble the ammunition, then there would be no need for me to design the unscrambling machine, and I needed the job.

Anyhow, back when we first studied the government’s request for bid we got a good idea of what was needed. Ammunition is shipped to the area of operation in metal cases, each one containing in the order of 100 rounds of 20mm cartridges. This was machine gun ammunition, and before it could be used by the machine gun the cartridges needed to be chained together with metal links. This is something I had observed as a sailor on the Kitty Hawk. You line up all the ammunition in a tray, and the cartridges roll down into the machine where metal links were pressed onto the casings. Our job was to design a machine that would take cartridges that had been dumped out of their metal boxes and line them up in the linking machine feeder.

The first problem we saw was that our design needed to get all cartridges pointed in the same direction. But wait, I observed. This is a problem that has already been solved. Go to a bowling alley. You throw a strike, and the AMF pinsetter will sweep all the pins off the wood, line them up, and set them all base down on the alley. The pinsetter was performing exactly the job our machine needed to do.

We went down to a bowling alley and asked politely for permission to go back stage and observe the operation. The solution was obvious. The center of gravity of a bowling pin is not located halfway between the base and the tip. If a pin slides base first off a cliff, the tip will swing up. If the pin slides tip first, the tip will remain up much longer. If you install something to catch the tip as it hangs out over the edge of the drop off, then the pin will fall base first. The pin will fall base first regardless of whether it was base first or tip first.

Anyhow, we designed the machine, and it had a big hopper for 20mm cartridges up on top, and there was a loader for the bin. You dumped cartridges into the loader and ran the loader up to the top of its guide, where it tipped over and dumped its load into our hopper. And we all stood around and congratulated ourselves.

Then somebody asked, how can the operator tell when the hopper needs another load of cartridges? Standing on the floor you can’t see into the hopper. For engineers, every question requires an engineering solution. There was a suggestion for a built-in weight detector to determine when the hopper was nearly empty, and there was a suggestion for an electric eye that would detect when the hopper was nearly empty. I had to take a step back and shake my head. I felt we had just stepped through the looking glass into wonderland. We had exited reality and entered fantasy.

People, I said, all we need is to mount a mirror up above the hopper, and the operator can look up and see if the hopper needs another load of cartridges.

So, that’s my point. Often times improvement is not needed and only introduces extra sources of failure. I have discussed this before. Why does a fighter pilot take to the air with only one parachute, while a paratrooper heads off with two strapped to his body?

So, that’s what this post is all about. Useless redundancy. I will now get down to the topic.

Our house has the air conditioning unit in the attic, and that contains the air handler, which moves the air through the system, and it has the evaporator unit, where compressed gas is allowed to expand and become very cold. Warm air from the house passes over the coils of the evaporator unit, which are quite cold. However, the air is also quite moist, and a mass of watter is always condensing onto the coils, and it needs somewhere to go. Ta-daa! There is a water collection system that funnels the runoff down to the drain under the sink in the upstairs bathroom. Problem solved, right?

Maybe not. What if the drain becomes plugged? Where is the water going to go? Ta-daa! Problem solved. There is a pan under the unit that catches the water in case the collection tubing becomes clogged. That pan is above the ceiling, and it has its own drain, which runs into a tube which ultimately empties through a spout mounted above my back porch. Not only above my back porch, but right above the floor mat outside my back door. That way, when the main drain becomes clogged, and water starts draining into the catch pan and emptying onto my back porch I will know immediately when I step out the back door and onto a wet door mat. Which is what happened.

WTF? There was a puddle of water on the mat, and I wound up with wet feet. No missing that clue. Something was wrong? Call the A/C man.

The A/C man serviced the unit and unplugged the drain so the water resumed flowing down into the connection under the upstairs bathroom sink. And all was right in heaven and in my home. Except.

Except, what if the main drain became stopped up again, and then the backup drain became stopped up? What would happen? Why, the pan above my upstairs ceiling would overflow onto the sheet rock and ruin the ceiling. Bummer. But wait! There’s a solution. The A/C man offered to install a float switch in the backup drain pan. If that pan ever began to fill up the switch would shut off the A/C. The house would not cool off, but neither would the ceiling be ruined. It would be just a matter of holding out until the A/C man could come out again and fix the problem, and then the house would be cool again. Just $240. What a deal!

I don’t think so. I am thinking that enough redundancy is enough. So we install a float switch, and that, too, fails. What then? What’s the backup for the backup for the backup? I’m not going there. That’s a redundancy too far. My plan is much cheaper.

When the A/C runs and I am in the upstairs bathroom, doing whatever I do in the upstairs bathroom, I can hear the water running into the drain under the sink. If I hear the A/C running, and I do not hear the water running down the drain, then I take action. That’s my backup plan. And I get to spend the $240 on some neat accessory for my camera.

The backup. When the pan overflows water runs out this pipe onto my door mat.

Boys in the hood

I just love Fox News. I really do. This show and this network, I do declare, they are a gold mine, I tell you, a gold mine of wonderful information. For example, just the other day Geraldo Rivera reminded us that the way we dress could get us killed. Of course we all know that anyhow, but it’s nice for Geraldo to remind us from time to time.

On Fox News Sunday, Geraldo Rivera doubled down on his previous stereotypical comments about wearing hoodies and walking the streets at night. Back in March, Rivera said that a “hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman.”

This morning, he stood by his previous statement: “You Dress Like A Thug, People Are Going To Treat You Like A Thug. That’s True. I Stand By That.”

I read this amazing piece yesterday, and I remarked to Barbara Jean about how informative and helpful it was. I thought about it some more and mentioned it again at dinner, and Barbara Jean reminded me she had already heard my comments, and once was enough. Then last night as we were watching TV (not Fox News, unfortunately) I brought the subject up again, and Barbara Jean remarked, “Why don’t you put on your hoodie and go out to the store for some Skittles and ice tea?”

This man is dangerous (he only wishes so).

I am shocked

I tell you, really shocked.

I’m reading CNN news on the Internet. Here is what I see:

‘First thought was shock, disgust’
Trayvon Martin’s parents react

Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said she was shocked:

Fulton told “CBS This Morning” she was “in a bit of shock” after the verdict. “I thought surely that he would be found guilty of second-degree murder,” she said.

I am shocked. Woman, where have you been? You are shocked? You didn’t know a white man can gun down a black kid and walk away? Where have you been?

So, you want to sue? Forget it. If I understand current Florida law correctly, Zimmerman’s acquittal takes that option off the table.

(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

This is the law in Florida, but civil recourse is possible in other states. In 1994 O.J. Simpson (black person) apparently murdered two (white) people in a carefully planned and executed (almost carefully executed) ambush. Simpson walked, but survivors sued and won damages.

On February 5, 1997, a civil jury in Santa Monica, California unanimously found Simpson liable for the wrongful death of and battery against Goldman, and battery against Brown. Daniel Petrocelli represented plaintiff Fred Goldman, Ronald Goldman’s father. Simpson was ordered to pay $33,500,000 in damages. However, California law protects pensions from being used to satisfy judgments, so Simpson was able to continue much of his lifestyle based on his NFL pension. In February 1999, an auction of Simpson’s Heisman Trophy and other belongings netted almost $500,000. The money went to the Goldman family.

Simpson, apparently not having learned from his previous life style, is currently in prison for a subsequent offense.

Martin’s parents may be contemplating civil action, but I am not placing my bet on their success. And, I am not shocked.