Archives for the month of: May, 2012

This post is in response to something I wrote on teh Facebook.

I wrote “‎Responding to hateful bigotry with anger is like eating cake when someone calls you fat.” and a friend of mine asked me “How so?”

Well, here is my answer. (In case you are wondering, I have been driving my son’s car while my foot heals (it’s an automatic) and it has no radio. I have been spending a lot of time with my thoughts lately.)

I find that if I forget for a second that I love even the most vile of bigots, it does nothing but infect me with doubt. Doubt of the love I know I should feel, doubt in my belief in the inherent goodness of man. Doubt in my faith.

When we react to hate and ignorance with anger, we impair our ability to respond with reason. I will often say or think things I will later regret, or don’t fully mean, when I let anger speak.

My spiritual and emotional balance is as needful of attention as is my physical condition, except the “exercise” for my soul is to do that which my baser emotions do not want me to do. When I face a reversal at work, I step back and figure out what happened. When I face a threat to my sobriety, I contemplate what that cheap thrill will get me. When I hear someone say something hateful, I try to put myself in their place and progress backwards in their life, envisioning what they felt, saw, heard, or learned that caused them to be the way they are.

It is hard, particularly when I see friends or family getting hurt, but only constant vigilance and doing the mental equivalent of situps will let me continue to grow and maintain my positive outlook. It is only when I get comfortable with a particular attitude that it starts to fool me into a sense of righteousness.

It’s NOT okay to hate bigots. It’s NOT okay to hate even the worst criminal. These are the lowest of the low; irretrievably despicable, by human standards, but NOT by the standard set for me by Jesus.

As a human, I have no problem working to combat the influence of bigotry, even decrying it and calling  what it is, but once I descend into hate of the person, I fail not only myself, but the person I am hating.

I liken it to physical behavior that is not good for me, like over-eating or having a lethargic attitude toward exercise. It is easier, tastier, and more comfortable to be unhealthy, and with parallel results. So the equivalent to hating someone who behaves in a vile manner is ceding control of my diet to someone who calls me fat. In both cases I am lowering myself based on their actions.

So that is “How so”. I’m sure others are capable of channeling this anger healthfully. I can’t. I have to have faith that everyone out there is either a) doing what they think is right or b) aren’t competent to make the judgment between right and wrong.

The 34 sailors who died aboard the USS Liberty in 1967.

These sailors were cryptologic intercept operators, similar to what I did when I was in the Marine Corps, except aboard a ship that would travel to hotspots.

They were in international waters off Israel during the Six Days War.

The date was my birthday, June 8th, three years before I was born.

I almost hesitate to post about this, but it came up in the news today because a conspiracy theorist heckled John McCain at a Memorial Day ceremony. McCain called him a jerk, which was appropriate and funny. A great recovery and an appropriate reaction to the whackos who blame McCain and his father for the coverup.

What happened, and I will be stating some things as facts here that others challenge, is that the Israeli Air Force and Navy had the Liberty under surveillance for 9 hours (confirming it as an American vessel early on). After nine hours, the Israeli Air Force and Navy attacked the Liberty, killing 34 Sailors and wounding 174 out of 295.

This site is a factual, non-conspiratorial, not anti-semetic memorial to those men.

I first learned about the Liberty when I was working for the Center for Cryptologic History as a Marine Sergeant, research Radio Intelligence Platoons from World War II. I had just finished researching the 2nd RIP’s catastrophic tour during the invasion of Peleliu. They took 30% casualties and were subsequently disbanded. I mentioned this to a co-worker, thinking that it was the single worst attack on cryptologic troops. He responded oddly, just telling me to come with him. He took me to a memorial to the crew of the Liberty.

Let’s just say that moment informed my patriotism like none other. I, like most Americans, held a very possessive view of Israel. I grew up in a town in North Jersey that was about 1/3 Jewish, 1/3 Italian and then the rest of us.

I didn’t become a kook conspiracy theorist who became anti-semetic. I just realized that EVERY nation in the world has its own interests and will endeavor to advance them. As a Marine, those efforts often come at the cost of my brethren, or other services. Our strongest allies will consider us second, and a Marine’s  (or sailor’s)  life does not figure highly in their calculus unless they are in need.

Places like the Normandy graveyard or Iron Mike  are rare for their honest and persistent place in the hearts of those foreign nations that even have them. I would venture more French people know and respect the price Marines paid at Belleau Wood than Americans.

So I ask you to remember those sailors (who recieved a MOH, two Navy Crosses among many other awards) who died in the greatest catastrophe ever suffered by cryptologic troops. An attack by a supposed ally, coming when unexpected. I don’t try to figure out why the Israelis did it, and no more hold it emotionally against the state of Israel than I hold an irrational grudge against Japan for Wake Island in 1941 or the Bataan Death March.

But we can’t forget them, as much as it would be politically convenient to do so. Because they died for you just as much as those militiamen at Lexington and Concord, or Spec. Aaron D Fields, who was killed by Taliban last week.

USS Liberty, Napalmed, Rocketed, Bombed, Torpedoed, Machine-Gunned.

 

The President sure opened up the national debate with his endorsement of marriage equality. I’d love to talk about it, but if you tell me that because we are a Christian nation we must follow the example of the Bible as laid down by God, that marriage is between one man and one woman, I would ask that you keep the following in mind:

The bible indicates that marriage is between a man, up to several wives, concubines, and slave girls. If you modulate that in ANY way, or don’t own the other strictures listed along side of it(See the 99% of Leviticus we don’t recognize, and the New Testament strictures against divorce, etc), you allow that the moral code as represented by the bible is malleable for modern adaptation.

The question becomes: Who is the arbiter of that adaptation? God? The person you’re talking to, as informed by King James and his translators, or perhaps my church’s papal translators? That’s fine, as long as we recognizing it IS a change from clear instructions in the bible.

As to the argument that “a large section of the population advocating” for something as a validating factor, that isn’t really an indicator of either a) a correct result or b) a right result.

As an example, somewhat more easily compared, a majority of citizens (or at least those with the franchise) in the South thought interracial marriage should be a felony. Jim Crow was the law just 10 years before I was born. Are these popular assessments of “what is right” to be the law of the land? As a matter of personal pride, my honky ass would have qualifed as black in any of the states that required 4 generations of racial purity. (oddly enough, North Cackalackee only required 3)

That is the point of our system of checks and balances. It works for all sorts of our rights when states or the federal government step on them.

Overall, I think it was Vice President Biden who precipitated this, and in a sort of New Coke serendipity POTUS just laid this one out there. I am pleased that it made people start talking about it, and for the most part, the debate has been elevated. Good for us, America.

And just because I want to have a neat picture pop up on Facebook in the preview pane, here is the cover of John Irving’s latest novel. It discusses the metamorphasis of our country’s views on sexuality over the last 50 years in a really neat way, and perhaps it would be a good book to read if you are conflicted over marriage equality. Click the pic to buy the book.

 

This is the kind of data and analysis that really makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Modeled Behavior

New Claims out today and a big drop as many Easter seasonal advocates had argued. However, that’s not actually what interests me. If you look at Year-over-Year percent decline in Nonseasonally Adjusted Claims then they were running in a pretty tight band.

This suggested that despite the waviness in the week-to-week numbers the pace of improvement was essentially constant since last year.

Yet, there did seem to be a real slow down last year beginning in late April. What we would have hoped then is to see the year-over-year gap widen and we did in fact get that, at least for this one read.

FRED Graph

My best guess is the annualized 10% rate of improvement in initial claims continues to chug right along.

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I live with the most talented person I know, and I’m not talking about myself, people

StitchinGirlMary's Blog

My wonderful neighbor brought me another challenge this winter;  create a quilted piece of the Robert Strawbridge Shrine.   This site of the Birthplace of American Methodism and is located just a few miles from our properties.  My neighbor’s family is very active in the commemoration of this bit of history and she wanted to celebrate that fact with a quilt.  She gave me the beginnings of an idea, and then carte blanche, and this is what I came up with.  The vegetable stand is of particular importance because it is the one she and her husband operated with their boys when they were younger.  If you click on it, you can see the apples they used to sell, plus her famous floral arrangements and pussy-willows.

 

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