Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Liar, Liar... or Why We Believe Political Lies

I've come across an article that explains a bit more why we have a tendency to believe political lies.

One reason is that it takes more cognitive effort to reject false information that just to accept it as true. People are lazy and if something sounds possible to us, we'll just accept it more often than not.  Why take further effort to check it out?

Another factor may be the source of the statement.  In other words, as an Obama supporter, I am more likely to accept what the President says as true.  If Romney says something that doesn't sound right to me, I'm more likely to check it out.  

Another thing to consider is how much effort we put into considering the truthfulness of a statement or claim. We might not put too much effort into this if the statement seems to fit with things we've already decided were true. For example, if I already distrust Obama, I might believe the latest Romney ad in Ohio stating that he sold Chrysler to the Italians and that the now foreign owned company is planning to move production of Jeeps to China. (Please don't believe this.  Politifact has given this a Pants on Fire rating, it's so misleading!)

Attempts to correct false information might backfire, as well.  The article sites an example that happened back in September.  The Romney campaign had previously stated that unemployment wasn't going to drop below 8 percent.  Then it dropped to 7.8 percent. The administration, of course, mentioned that it had dropped in September as proof that their efforts are working.  Then the GOP decided that the figures were falsified by the administration to make the President look better.  It seems that no amount of facts to the contrary could make certain people believe that they were accurate. They had decided their own truth ahead of time so they wouldn't believe otherwise. As a result, undecided and unaffiliated voters may not have known what to believe with all the conspiracy theories being touted so they may have not believed the drop in unemployment was accurate.

Misinformation tends to be persistent - as history will tell us. Remember all those people - aided by members of the administration at the time - who believed that there were WMDs in Iraq even after we realized that there weren't.  Same thing with believing that Barack Obama is Muslim when he obviously is not. According to a Pew report back in July, 17% of Americans believe the absurd and unfounded claim that he is a Muslim.

I find it odd, personally, that more Americans don't have a problem with Romney's actual religion than Obama's perceived religion. Hint: Mormons aren't actually Christians. But I digress...

So, there are multiple reasons why we might believe political untruths.  I'm sure there are some I've fallen for over the years if I wasn't paying attention or it sounded like something that would be true.  We're only human.  What I take away from this article is that we need to pay attention and check out claims when possible.  The article also lists some different sites to fact-check statements made by the campaigns.  It's always good to have multiple places to check when a statement is made and, as always, don't believe everything you hear.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm blog - Hurricane Sandy

Because the meteorologists are unsure what to expect from Hurricane Sandy when she collides with other weather systems, we are preparing for the worst here.

My boyfriend and I decided to prepare as if we knew we would be out of power for several days. We bought camp fuel -which fuels our camp stove and lanterns (for outdoor use, only)- and lamp oil for our hurricane lamp.  We bought extra batteries for the radio and flashlights and we bought ice for our large cooler.  We bought a case of water. We filled the extra propane tank for the grill.

We filled two 5 gallon containers of water so we have usable water if there is flooding and a "boil water" advisory.  We froze 4 gallon ice cream containers full of water so we'll have more ice for the cooler if we need it.

We have candles, lighters and matches.  We have extra blankets. We have plenty of canned goods.  I even ground extra coffee this morning as I realized I would be unable to grind the beans if the power goes out.

We are as prepared as we can be.
I'm going to keep a running blog of how things are going here so friends and family can know how we are doing (as long as we don't lose power, but then I can try to use my phone to post) 

October 29, 9:41 am: The weather maps now show that Hurricane Sandy has turned and started to move inland. She is currently still a level one hurricane. I can hear the rain hitting the skylight and the wind is gusting - but it isn't bad.  Winds will be picking up this afternoon, we are told.

11:39 am:  The local radio station tells us that motorists are being urged to stay off the roads unless it is an emergency.  I hear that the small city south of us is basically shutting down - all businesses are closing around noon.  Most of the office workers are leaving around noon here as most of them have to travel at least 10 miles to get home. I'm playing it by ear.  Right now I intend to be here until 3:30 - my usual time to leave - but if the wind/rain picks up anymore, I might leave early.  The rain has gotten heavier and you can tell it's being blown a bit. An umbrella would be out of the question right now.

12:49 pm: My remaining co-workers are leaving at 1:00. I've decided I'll stay until 3:00. K will pick me up then.  I'd stay 'til 3:30 but then I'd have to walk home in the rain and I can't use my umbrella because of the wind. I guess I don't mind missing 1/2 hour work today.  We'll be watching my grandchildren when I get home as my daughter, who is a volunteer firefighter/medic, will be staying at the fire station.  We'll have to take a wait-and-see approach on how long to watch them.  I think they'll be fine as long as we don't lose power.  Then, they might get scared if it gets dark.  Like I said, we'll see.

5:17 pm: The winds have really picked up.  We lost a fairly large branch from our tree. It is now on the neighbor's fence.  Nothing can be done about it right now.  Still have power but I'm going to shut off the computer so my bf will stop pestering me to do so. Will try to blog from my phone later but not making any promises.

October 30, 7:21 am: Directly after I unplugged the computer last night, the electric went off.  Seriously.  As I was straightening up, out they went!  They stayed out for a little more than 2 hours, then we got power back. It's blinked off and on now and then since then but I think it's on to stay.  The other half of the village is out of power, though.  Sucks to be them!
Our cable is out at home and thus we have no TV, internet or phone.  Damn that bundling idea!  So, since my bf is home from work and does not know what to do with himself until daylight, I'm at work. Alone.  Turned on the radio for company.  Okay, then!  I have some work I can do...  Some of the network is out but I can still get something accomplished!

Who can you trust in the Presidential race?

There are several tools that a person can use to verify the truth of statements made by politicians - or PACs. One of the most unbiased sites I've found online is PolitiFact.  PolitiFact will look at a statement made by a candidate and rate the truthfulness of the statement on a scale.  The scale runs from True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire.

Now, I expect that a candidate for office might tell some half truths. After all, candidates for office are really salespeople, aren't  they?  The product they're hawking just happens to be themselves.  A good salesperson will tell you the positive aspects of a product but won't linger on the things you might not like about it, right? We see the same thing with candidates running for office.

PolitiFact has a nice feature where they've put all the rated statements from Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on individual pages and tallied up how many of each rating they earned. You can look at them by clicking the candidates name in the previous sentence as I've linked their pages.

Let's take a look at Obama's page.  72% of his rated statements received a rating of True, Mostly True and Half True. 28% were rated Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire.  Note that only 2% of his statements were rated Pants on Fire.

Now on Mitt Romney's page, we see that only 58% of his rated statements were rated True, Mostly True and Half True.  42% of his statements were rated Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire - with 9% of them receiving the Pants on Fire rating.

I was curious to know what statements received the Pants on Fire ratings for each candidate so I clicked the link next to the Pants on Fire ratio which takes me to a page showing the specific statements made by each that received this rating..

The first thing I notice on Obama's page is that Obama's ratings go back to when he ran for President the first time against John McCain.  Two of the Pants on Fire ratings are from statements made in 2008.  Another one is made in 2009, one in 2011 and the remaining 3 have occurred since January 2012.  I'll let you take a look yourself at what earned the rating but I will tell you that one of them is the statement that Romney plans to "fire" Big Bird.

On Romney's Pants on Fire page, I see he also has a rating from a statement made 2008 but the rest are from 2011 and 2012.  Many of them are repeats of the same lies. He said that America is moving away from a free market economy three times and that Obama went on an apology tour 4 times.  Someone might want to tell Mitt Romney that repeating a lie over and over again does not make it true. I'll let you take a look at the rest of them.

It's also interesting to take a look at the overall ratings for Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.  I'm quite a bit concerned to see that Ryan's evaluated statements show more Mostly False, False and Pants on Fire ratings than the True, Mostly True or Half True. I should also point out that there are fewer ratings for Ryan as he hasn't been in the national spotlight for quite as long as the others.

What I've taken away from this are several things.

  1. All politicians tell untruths at one point or another.  I think that some of them realize that they were less than honest and don't repeat the same misstatements and some seem to hunker down and repeat them over and over as if that will make them true. I'm encouraged by the former but not at all impressed by the latter.  
  2. We need to listen carefully to a candidate's statements and ask ourselves what they might be leaving out when they say something.  We need to be critical thinkers when it comes to politician's promises and statements.
  3. If it sounds too good to be true, then you should fact-check it.  It probably isn't true - or not entirely. This one should be applied to any statement made by anyone who is trying to sell something, as well.
Finally, I have to say that I feel like I'm getting more of a truthful campaign from Barack Obama and Joe Biden than I am from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Now, admittedly, I am biased as I'm a long-time Obama supporter, but I think that my opinion can be backed up by facts. Not only does it appear that the Obama campaign is more truthful, but Obama hasn't radically changed his views over the past 10 years and he doesn't waffle back and forth depending on who he is talking to.  Romney?  Not so much.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday Six - October 27,2012

1. H is for HABIT: Which habit would you most like to break? I guess the habit of eating when I get nervous. 

2. H is for HAIR: How long have you maintained your current hairstyle? Um...  I think I've had my hair this way for 10 years or so. 

3. H is for HAND: Are you right-handed or left-handed? Right-handed.

4. H is for HEAT: During winter, to what temperature do you normally set your thermostat? 68 degrees.  I don't like it too hot and I can always put on a layer if I get cold!

5. H is for HIGHWAY: When the speed limit is 55, how fast do you generally drive? About 60 mph. 

6. H is for HYPOCHONDRIA: Which illness do you most fear? Cancer.  It is a horrible disease and I've watched friends and family members suffer and die from it 

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, October 26, 2012

News Bits - October 26, 2012

I'm going to start off with the story that is all over the news here in the northeastern US - Hurricane Sandy (a.k.a. The Perfect Storm, a.k.a. Frankenstorm, etc.)  Our local newscasters/meteorologists are calling it The Perfect Storm. The news is that this hurricane could actually turn into more of a blizzard and just sit over the northeast for a while, grabbing moisture from the ocean and creating snow and winds and horrible conditions that we've never seen before!  I'm not panicking yet as the storm is still down in the Bahamas currently but I will be picking up a few extra supplies when I go shopping this weekend just in case.  We'll be fine as long as the electric doesn't go out.  If that happens and it's cold, we'll have no heat.  But!  We'll just wait and see what happens. It's really too early to be sure what will occur. Quite frankly, I think the newscasters are just happy to have something to talk about other than the upcoming election.  I do hope that they aren't getting us all excited over nothing!

Speaking of the election, I've come across yet another thing that outrages me about Mitt Romney!  I realized that he is against LGBT rights - well, recently, at least (it's one of those issues he's "changed his mind on") - but this week he stated that he feels that it should be up to the individual states to decide whether to allow gay/lesbian partners (and their children) to visit their dying spouses in the hospital! Oh sure, Mittens!  Tell us, again, how you support families! He says it's a "privilege" not a right!  I call bullshit! It most certainly is a right: The right to be treated as a human being! This sort of thing upsets me so much that I'm just going to move on to the next story before I explode.

Here's a story with a happy ending:  A paraplegic survived 3 days stranded in the desert in New Mexico! His story is a bit of a cautionary tale - he should have been more careful about who he hitched a ride with - but I'm just glad to know that he will be alright.  It could have turned out so much worse. I have to wonder about the people who drove past him by the side of the road and did nothing. Even if you didn't feel safe stopping yourself, wouldn't you contact the authorities to check it out? I guess, perhaps, people don't always think.

In science news, I have a story that makes a lot of sense to me - as I never personally experienced the effect. It appears that PMS - at least the mood-changing aspects of it - may be a myth! Sorry, folks. Scientists really can't find a link between a woman's period and mood swings so this one is all wet. This doesn't mean that one doesn't have other symptoms at that time of the month, but you can't blame that bad mood directly on the changing hormones.  There's just not enough evidence to make that connection.

Speaking of science news, I'm sure that most of us are familiar with the placebo effect. Well, scientists may have discovered why it works better for some than others: It might be genetic! This study was a smaller study and scientists will certainly have to continue to research this but this could really change how medication is prescribed!  It's an interesting hypothesis, in any case.

That's all I have this week. The lessons to take away are: Watch out for pending hurricanes and don't hitchhike! Stay safe, all!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney Betting On Stupidity Of Voters

As the Presidential election approaches, I find myself absolutely shocked that polls are showing that it is practically an even race.  I'm just appalled that anyone could even consider voting for Romney when we don't know what he truly believes or what he actually intends to accomplish! The man changes his opinion as often as he changes his magic underwear.

It seems abundantly clear that Mitt Romney will say whatever he feels is necessary to get himself elected. Don't believe me?  Let's look at his track record.

I'm going to start by taking a look at his stance on abortion because it is easy to track.
Now, I've no problem with a pro-life individual running as pro-life.  That's fine.  My problem is when a person pretends to hold different views than he does to get elected and that is exactly what Mitt Romney has done.  Don't believe me?  Ask his wife, Ann Romney. 
I’m happy to say that. Mitt has always been a pro-life person. He governed when he ran pro-choice--
Ann Romney might be alright with her husband's actions but I find it reprehensible - especially on such an important issue such as the rights of women.

Mitt Romney seems to think that the voters are stupid and that we won't check into whether his positions have changed or not over the years. Heck, the man doesn't even think that we will check into what he said last week to see if it is different than what he is saying this week! I say that the voters of this nation are savvy and that we can and will hold him accountable. Abortion is just one issue that he has waffled on.

  1. Romney has flip-flopped on gay rights.
  2. Romney supported the idea of an individual healthcare mandate before he decided he didn't.
  3. Romney does and doesn't support privatization of social security
  4. Romney has been a hunter all his life and isn't really a hunter.
  5. Romney supported amnesty for illegal immigrants, then didn't. 
And that's just a few! Who knows what the man believes or what he intends to try to do once in office?  The only thing I'm certain of is that when Mitt ran for office in Massachusetts, he leaned to the left and now that he is running for President, he is suddenly conservative.  I've no idea what he truly believes and I don't think he even does!

It is crystal clear that Mitt Romney feels that Americans stupid and easily mislead. It is obvious that the man will say anything to get into office and that makes him a very dangerous man, indeed.

Image found here

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Birthday Traditions

It's my birthday today and this made me think about some of the traditions associated with birthdays and birthday celebrations.

For example, did you know that the song Happy Birthday to You came from a song called Good Morning to All which was written by two sisters, Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893? (Wikipedia article) Hard to believe that song has been around for so long...  Isn't it about time for a new one?

Anyhoo... I was thinking of some of the odder birthday traditions.  Practically everyone has a birthday cake with candles they blow out and presents are given. People often send cards to the birthday boy or girl.  That's normal.  But what about pulling an earlobe once for each year with one extra "to grow on"?  That's something that my family has done for years. I looked it up and found that this is not unusual in certain parts of the world. (according to Wikipedia) I'm not sure how my family came to do this but we don't come from Brazil, Argentina, Hungary nor Italy so I'm not sure why we do this! The article also mention birthday punches, bumps and spanks!

I think I'll stick to gentle earlobe tugging.  It sounds less violent!

Does your family have any unusual birthday traditions?

Image found here

Monday, October 22, 2012

6 out of the ordinary ways to eat bacon

Many of you probably realize that I am a big fan of bacon. In fact, bacon might be the most mentioned food here on my blog. I eat if for breakfast with eggs, add it to sandwiches and occasionally coat it in chocolate or candy it!

Unfortunately, it is really not good for us so I don't indulge as much as I would like.

I have come across some ways to use bacon that I've not tried! What do you think of these ideas?

  1. Bacon vodka - This is something I think I might like to try sometime!  It's vodka infused with the flavor of bacon.  I think this would work especially well in a Bloody Mary.
  2. Maple Bacon Coffee - I'm not so sure about this one.  I love my coffee and I love bacon but...  I'm not sure this is a good combination. I think I'd have to try it if it were offered, though, just to see what it is like.
  3. Candied Bacon Ice Cream - I think this has to be one of the more unusual ways I've seen to serve bacon!  You could have bacon in your main dish and serve this for dessert!
  4. French toast and bacon cupcakes - This sounds like breakfast wrapped up in a cupcake.  
  5. Bacon cups - The creator of these calls them the BLT without the bread!  I think I would like this, though it would take some practice to get right.
  6. Bacon popcorn - Yep.  Even a healthy snack becomes less so with bacon!
Which of these are you most likely to try?

Image found here

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Saturday Six - October 20, 2012

1. G is for GAME: Which game were you best at playing when you were a child? I received the board game Whosit? for my birthday one year.  I enjoyed playing that one with my family and did pretty well. I also, if I recall, rocked at playing kick ball when I was in elementary school.
2. G is for GHOST: Do you believe that ghosts exist, whether you’ve seen one or not? Nope!  It's fun to pretend but no, I don't believe in ghosts.  There's simply not enough evidence for me to believe they exist.
3. G is for GLOBE: What country anywhere around the globe would you most like to visit? England!!  (but regulars here on my blog will already know that...)
4. G is for GRILL: What’s your favorite food to have grilled outdoors? Hmm... good question.  I do like chicken on the grill but corn on the cob and potatoes cook well that way, too.  Perhaps I'll just go with steak - as I really enjoy a good (occasional) steak!
5. G is for GRITS: Have you ever eaten grits, and if so, do you like them? I'm a true northerner - born and raised here - so I've never had them.  I am curious about them and almost bought some instant grits but I've been told the instant isn't very good by those who would know.  Maybe one of these days I'll try some.
6. G is for GUM: Which brand is your favorite chewing or bubble gum? I'm not much of a gum chewer but I do usually carry a pack in my purse.  I like Stride in spearmint or 5 gum in rain mostly because that size pack fits well in a particular pocket of my purse.  I'm really more of a breath mint person, however.

Join in over at Patrick's Place:

Friday, October 19, 2012

News Bits - October 19, 2012

Earlier this week, I mentioned that both of the Presidential candidates were concerned about how the moderator of Tuesday night's debate, Candy Crowley, would behave during the debate.  Well, now that the debate is over, the Republicans seem to have an issue with her. One has to wonder if they would have had a problem with her had their candidate clearly won the debate as he did the first one. It seems to me that clarifying what the President actually said, then acknowledging that Romney was right about there being no further mention of the term terrorism until weeks later seems even handed to me and moved the conversation along as she states she was intending to do.  But that's just my opinion.

There is one final debate coming up on Monday night.  This one will be held in Florida and moderated by Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation.  The topic will be foreign policy this time around. The format will be like the first debate, not a town hall meeting.  I'm looking forward to watching this last debate but I'll admit that foreign policy is not my strong point so I will be keeping an eye on the fact-checking groups' tweets during the debate to gauge the accuracy of statements made by the candidates. During the last debate, I discovered that PolitiFact and were fact-checking and posting their results on Twitter during the debate.  This was helpful when I wasn't sure how much spin was... being spun, for lack of a better term.

Have you purchased or are you considering purchasing the iPhone 5?  If so, you might want to read this article I found.  It seems that advertisers are able to track iPhone users with the new phone via the new operating system.  The good news is that, if this bothers you, you can turn it off.  The article shows you how to do so.
I was thinking about this feature and I realized that it really might not be a bad thing for the consumer.  After all, the advertisers are not able to know who you are, just your interests.  Using this information, they could tailor their ads to what you might actually be interested in.  Of course, with any technology there is the chance that it could be misused so I completely understand why some folks would be uncomfortable with this.  Like I stated before, you can turn off this feature if you don't want it but you should be aware that it is on by default.

In science news, there are some exciting developments for people who are especially affected by poison oak, ivy and sumac. Scientists have created a spray that glows under a fluorescent light when it comes in contact with urushiol, the oil found in these plants that causes our reaction.  The idea is that if you can see where the substance is - say, on your clothing, for example - you can avoid getting it on your skin until you are able to remove it.  The substance is still being tested and hopefully will be improved so you don't need a special light to see where the oils are but this is a terrific start!

Elsewhere, scientists have discovered yet another problem with not getting the proper amount of sleep:  It may affect how fat cells behave and put you at risk of weight gain and even diabetes or fatty liver disease. I'll let you read through the article itself for the details. The bottom line is that we are much healthier individuals when we get the proper amount of sleep - 7 to 9 hours a night.  So, turn off that TV and get to bed at a decent time!

Finally, I'm sure everyone has been waiting impatiently to find out what the actress Uma Thurman has named her baby who was born back in July. Her legal name is Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson but she is apparently called Luna by her family. This raises too many questions to go into here so I'll just leave you with that.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weekly News Magazine Goes All Digital

It is not uncommon for a news magazine to have a digital version.  I know that Time does, for example.  In fact, it isn't uncommon for any magazine now days to have a digital version.  It is, after all, the wave of the future.

Well, Newsweek has just announced that they will be discontinuing their print copy after 80 years in print! This will take place sometime early next year (2013).

I must admit that I'm rather shocked but not entirely surprised. With the popularity of tablet devices and electronic readers, the print copies of magazines and newspapers are not selling like they once were.  It is a new world, after all, and companies have to evolve to stay in business or they will fail.

Newsweek is quick to point out that their journalism will remain strong regardless of how their articles are published. The article quotes a Pew study from last month that indicates that 39% of us get our news online and say they are just moving with the times.

I have to wonder if Time magazine will be the next to follow Newsweek.  I've always preferred Time though I did finally discontinue my subscription to the magazine earlier this year after years of reading it.  I, too, have moved on and oftentimes get my news from other sources. (Online news sites and NPR radio are my main sources.)

When I was younger, there were 3 major weekly news magazines:  Time, Newsweek and US News and World Report.  US News is the one my parents subscribed to. It is now out of print and only available online. (since 2011)  Odd that I never even realized this until I Googled it.  I guess it had declined significantly over the years and I lost track.

Change can be difficult but we can't let fear keep us from moving forward.  I'm anxious to see if Newsweek's gamble will pay off.  I certainly will be rooting for them.

What do you think?  Is the Pew Study indicative of your habits?  Where do you get your news?  Radio? Television? Online?  Or in print?

Image found here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Presidential Debate 2

Last night, the second Presidential debate was held last night at Hofstra University on Long Island, New York.  It was a town hall style meeting with questions asked by people local to that area who state they are undecided as to who they will vote for.

If you missed it, you can catch the entire thing here.  I'm sure highlights and summaries are available all over the place.

The second Presidential debate sure was something else, to say the least!  What a slug fest!

Here are some of my observations:
  • If I were moderating the session, I'm sure I would have lost my temper at some point and told both candidates off! I realize that people who run for an office such as President of the United States must have larger than usual egos, but that doesn't mean that you have to be rude and disregard the rules of the debate!  I think Candy Crowley did a good job considering the circumstances.
  • Lorraine is not an uncommon name.  I can't believe that neither candidate got the woman's name right the first time!
  • The "binder full of women" remark certainly lit up the Twittersphere!  I have to admit that I did laugh about that unintentionally humorous phrase from Gov. Romney and the image it suggested!
  • Toward the end of the debate it appeared that Romney was attempting to link single parents homes to gun violence in some way.  This seriously pissed me off and I had to listen to the end of the debate this morning as I was so enraged I missed what was said after that remark last night! 
  • I hope that both candidates go back and watch their performances so that they can see how trying to talk over each other is detrimental to the audience who truly want to hear what they have to say!  I know that several times I just left the room for a minute or two because of this behavior.
  • An added advantage of this was that I got a load of laundry folded and did up a few dishes that were in the sink from after dinner snacks and drinks.  But I digress...
  • As an Obama supporter, I was pleased to see that  he did more than just stand by while Romney said things that may have been less than totally truthful.  I will admit that Obama did stretch the truth himself at times but -in my very biased opinion- I don't think that he was as misleading as Romney was. 
  • Side note: Wouldn't it be wonderful if a candidate for President could be completely honest?  I suppose I'll have to see pigs fly first. I don't think the public really wants to hear the truth if it is something they won't like.
Jonathan Capehart from the Washington Post feels that the debate was won by Obama while Joe Klein from Time magazine says there was no clear winner. My opinion is that Obama soundly beat Romney this time around.  Of course, as I've often stated, I am a confirmed Obama supporter so we have to take that bias into account.  

I'd be interested in seeing what others think about this! Let me know what you think!

Image obtained here

Monday, October 15, 2012

Both Candidates Concerned About Crowley

I'm sure that most of my readers already know that the second Presidential debate is scheduled for tomorrow night.  It is to be a "town hall" style debate with questions asked by the audience. I'll admit that this sort of situation isn't exactly what I would prefer for several reasons but it might show us how well the candidates interact with the public so it could be helpful.

I've seen several news articles indicating that both camps are concerned about how the moderator, Candy Crowley, will behave during the debate.  It appears that the candidates agreed to the town hall style setting with the understanding that the moderator would play a limited role allowing the audience to ask the questions themselves.  They understood that she would not rephrase questions, ask follow-up questions or even comment on the questions. In short, she is to behave like a  host:  Keep it moving but don't get involved in the interaction.  Frankly, this seems like a waste of Crowley's talents.  She is, after all, a reporter.

Well, it seems that Crowley's view of her role for the evening is a bit different. In an interview with the Huffington Post, she states, "I think it's always best when these guys engage with each other, but that doesn't mean I won't engage with them if that gets us closer to what we need."  

Even more interesting is the fact that, while the candidates have agreed to certain specifics concerning the debates, it appears that Crowley is not under any obligation to follow their rules. 

Well, now! These added circumstances have me a bit more interested in watching the debate than I was previously.  I hope that Crowley doesn't bow to the candidate's concerns and alter the way she behaves.  Wouldn't it be interesting if she insisted that they answer the questions that are asked?  I don't see them doing this, but still!  I'll be rooting for Candy Crowley in this debate. 

If you were attending a town hall meeting with these candidates, what question would you want them to answer?

Image obtained here

Sunday, October 14, 2012


It is currently 4:15 am.  I am not intentionally awake.  I would rather be sleeping.  Unfortunately all too often I am finding myself awake in the middle of the night.  At the moment I'm not sure what to do as I need to be up in the morning at 7:00 so I certainly cannot consider taking anything. I've thought of trying warm milk but I'm not sure I could drink it.  It sounds nasty.

I Googled my problem and I see that it is called middle-of-the-night insomnia.  I have no problem falling asleep - in fact I'm exhausted by 9:30 at night most nights - but then between 2:00 and 4:00 I wake up and can't get back to sleep.  This happens most nights now and then I feel tired during the day and I think it is starting to affect my productivity which is not good.

The Mayo clinic has an article about my problem. It lists some things one can do to resolve a sleep problem like mine.  Most of them are things I already do - avoid caffeine after noon, for example - in fact the only thing I don't have is a regular bedtime routine and I don't do yoga to relax.  I don't have a problem falling asleep, however, I have a problem staying asleep so I can't see a routine helping. Still, I suppose I'll try it just so I can say I did.  I'm not going to try the yoga, however.  It'll try moderate stretching.

I'm going to try to go back to sleep now. Maybe I can get a couple more hours in if I'm lucky.

Do any of you have a sleep problem?  Do you have any advice? Any advice from my readers would be greatly appreciated as I'm out of them besides those I mentioned above.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday Six - October 13, 2012

1. F is for FACE: Which part of your face would you most like to change if you had the money to do so? I'm not sure.  Maybe my nose, but it's my father's nose so maybe not.  I wonder if I could get my freckles removed!  That would be worth the money.  
2. F is for FAST: What’s the fastest speed you’ve ever traveled in a car? erm... Maybe 90-ish?  In my own defense, the going speed on the turnpike in the western part of the state is 75 or so and if you go to pass, you need to speed up more... and I was going downhill... and... okay. There's no excuse.  I just wasn't paying attention and I have a lead foot.
3. F is for FEAR: What single thing are you most afraid of? Wow.  I really don't know.  I'm not thrilled with heights but it's not really that bad.  I guess I'd have to say that it is it, though.  I've no major fears.
4. F is for FORK: In a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, do you prefer chopsticks or a real fork? I like using chopsticks!  It's challenging but I find it fun.
5. F is for FOWL: What is your favorite piece of chicken? The nugget.  Just kidding!  Actually, I like most parts of the chicken - other than odd parts like the heart, liver or gizzard - but I prefer the white meat.  If prepared incorrectly, the breast can be dry so I guess I'll go for the wing - preferably with the tip cut off, deep fried and doused in the hot garlic sauce the bar down the street uses. They are yummy! (and totally not in my diet but I like to dream)
6. F is for FRUIT: If you could only have one kind of fruit for the rest of  your life, which fruit would you choose? I'm not a big fruit fan.  I like raspberries but get annoyed at the seeds sometimes.  Perhaps blueberries are my favorite.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!  Feel free to visit Patrick and play along!

Friday, October 12, 2012

News Bits - October 12, 2012

First up is news concerning abortions that I think we all can agree is a positive change! A study in Missouri seems to indicate that providing birth control to women with no copay will reduce abortion rates! This is encouraging news as women across the nation are starting to obtain birth control at no cost due to the Affordable Care Act. Clearly the way to reduce abortions is to reduce unwanted pregnancies and it appears that easier access to birth control will do that! A woman will no longer have to chose between paying for food or paying for birth control no matter how poor she is. (at least once we are all covered by insurance or other medical program)  I hope that we see the same sort of results nationwide and perhaps we can even improve upon them with proper education.  I know I'm being awfully Pollyanna-like about this but I can't see the downside to fewer abortions!

Speaking of promising studies, researchers in California have study results that seem to indicate that a substance found in marijuana may stop metastasis in certain cancers! One of the scientists was studying ID-1, which is a gene that causes cancer to spread.  Another researcher was studying the effects of CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant.  When they combined the substances, it appeared that the CBD "turned off" the ID-1. The scientists first published a paper about positive results in 2007 but now have more extensive studies to back up those results.  They are ready to move on to human studies in the next stage and it's looking hopeful that we will have one more weapon against cancer to use down the road.  And yes. I'm turning into Pollyanna, again, but how can I not be optimistic about this news?

A new study from the Pew Research Center indicates that one in five adults in the US have no religious affiliation. 13 million of these are atheists and agnostic, the rest just don't identify with a particular religion.  I'm not sure if this means that they believe in something or nothing at all but don't identify themselves as atheists or agnostics. I guess it would include those who say they are "spiritual but not religious".  (I'm not sure I quite understand what is meant by that but if I run into one of these folks one day I'll ask!)  Still, it's an interesting study to say the least.

I was reminded of that study when I found myself asked the religion question during an automated political opinion poll yesterday I answered over the phone. I was given a choice of Protestant, Jewish, Catholic, other or none. (I think that was all.  They may have included Muslim and/or Hindu but I really don't think they did.)  I was disappointed that I could only choose "none" without being more specific but I guess that was enough information for the group conducting the poll.  I forget now who they said it was but I did Google it at the time and discovered that they identify as a conservative group. I don't think they will like my answers...

Did anyone catch the Vice Presidential debate last night?  I didn't but I've been listening to it this morning and reading some articles.  It appears that neither Ryan nor Biden made any major gaffes and that both sides came away looking positive - at least to their own people.  I have to say that I prefer this style of debate - both opponents at a table with the moderator - rather than the opponents up on a stage behind podiums as the Presidential debate was set up last week.  I think it is easier for the moderator to maintain control if he or she is sitting at table with the speakers rather than off the stage below them. I'm curious to see how the next Presidential debate is structured.

Finally, I came across this on CNN.  It is a series of photos of Joe Biden during the debate that they call "The many expressions of Joe Biden". It gave me a chuckle. He's certainly an expressive guy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cowardly Gunman Shoots Unarmed 14-year old Girl

I found out about this incident yesterday and I was so outraged that I couldn't see straight.  I've waited a day and I'm still outraged but I'm going to blog about it anyway.

There is a 14 year-old girl named Malal Yousafzai who lives in Pakistan.  She is an outspoken advocate for education rights for girls and bravely spoke out against the Taliban. She even has dreams of forming her own political party one day.

Yesterday while she was on a school bus with her friends, a gunman approached and shot her in the head and neck.

What kind of coward shoots an unarmed girl?!?

Ms. Yousafzai is in critical condition after surgery to remove the bullet from her skull. It appears that it did not penetrate the brain.

The Taliban has confirmed that she was a target and that she will remain so if she survives. A spokesman states that her campaign for education rights for women was an 'obscenity'.

In other words, if she lives through this, they will try to kill her again.

How can anyone think it is right to attempt to kill an unarmed 14 year-old girl?

Tell me again how Islam is a religion of peace...  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Pledge of Allegiance

There has been a recent controversy surrounding a Pennsylvania state representative's refusal to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Babette Josephs, who is retiring this year, states that she considers the pledge a prayer since the term "under God" was added in 1954 and states that she does not pray in public.  In fact, she has not said it since those words were added.

I have to say that, as an atheist, I don't feel those words belong in the pledge, either.  I do not know what Representative Josephs' beliefs are but it doesn't really matter.  She feels that the pledge is now a prayer and considers a public prayer inappropriate in a secular government such as ours, so she does not say it.

I simply omit the words "under God" when I say the Pledge and that is what other atheists I know generally do.  This has the added effect of confusing others who don't exclude the phrase as I don't pause but continue straight on to "indivisible" so I finish before they do. (And yes. This does make me chuckle. I'm simple that way.)

This whole thing made me curious about the origins of the Pledge so I Googled it.  The Pledge was written by a Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, in 1892 and it was worded a little differently:
"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 
 The word "to" was added later that year and was the first revision. The words "my flag" were replaced by "the flag of the United States of America" in 1923 - over the objections of Bellamy.

In 1951, the Knights of Columbus campaigned to add the words "under God" to the Pledge and in 1954, Congress voted to do so.

It seems a little odd that a religious organization like the Knights would be able to influence policies but we have to remember that Cold War tensions were utmost in the minds of our representatives in Congress and they felt that anything that separated us from the "godless" communists was a good thing.

I wonder how many other revisions the Pledge will undertake in the future. Bellamy originally thought "equality" should be included and I agree with that idea.  Personally, I'd like to see the words "under God" removed as the United States - regardless of the beliefs of its citizens - is a secular government.

What, if any, changes would you recommend?

Note: Much of the information contained here was obtained from this article by Dr. John W. Baer which contains quite a few more interesting details and links to excerpts  from his book, The Pledge of Allegiance, A Revised History and Analysis, 2007 

Image courtesy of and found here

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saturday Six - October 6, 2012

1. E is for E.S.P.: Which mental superpower would you rather have: the ability to read minds, the ability to change matter, or the ability to transport yourself from one place to another?  Easy.  I'd want to be able to transport myself from one place to another! Think of how much time it would save and I would be able to simply go visit a friend or family member no matter where they lived!

2. E is for Earth:  How much do you recycle to save the planet in a typical week? I'm not sure how to gauge how much we recycle but we do recycle glass, plastic, aluminum, metal, newspapers and cardboard.  We try to donate used, good clothing so they can be reused and we compost yard waste and kitchen waste.

3. E is for East: What is the farthest east you've traveled in the US?  Hard to say as I've gone to the east coast at various places but I'm guessing that Long Island is the farthest east point.

4. E is for Ellipsis: What kind of punctuation, other than the period or comma, do you use most often?  I'm afraid it might be the ellipsis but I'm trying to cut back.  It can easily be overused.

5. E is for Elliptical:  What is your favorite exercise in the gym?  Well, I don't go to a gym but I do use my treadmill at home so... walking?

6. E is for Empty: Most often, do you consider the glass half-empty or half-full? I think it is always completely full as the part that doesn't contain liquid is filled with air. But that's not what you really are asking, I suppose.  I guess I'm more of a half-full type of person.

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cliques and clicks

When I first started realizing that I could no longer believe in a god, I did a lot of searching online for resources and to find others like me.  I was surprised to find that not only were there some local groups of people who had the same or similar point of view but I found quite a few online communities as well.

It is comforting to know that there are others out there who have reached the same conclusion I have and it is nice to be able to converse with people who aren't going to judge me or look down on me because I'm a non-believer. I found it a relief to know that I was not alone.

I'm sure that everyone has had the experience of finding like-minded individuals - whether you agree on the same religious views or political views or have the same hobby.  We like to connect with others like us.  This is human nature.

The problem is that sometimes when we form these groups, we want to exclude those who disagree with us to the extent that we don't even want to hear their point of view. When we stop being open-minded enough to listen to differing positions, group polarization can occur.

We see this happening in the United States between the two major political parties.  Neither party wants to work with or consider the point of view of members of the other party and we see now that the parties are starting to get more and more extreme in their rhetoric.

I've been watching with horror as this has happened within a particular online atheist community. It started off innocently enough.  A group of atheists blogged on the same site and a community formed.  If one of the bloggers had a problem with a troll-like individual, the others would step in to help him or her. Over time, the regular readers would join in to help keep the discussion civil and to correct any misconceptions.  I enjoyed being part of this positive community and avidly read the blogs.

Then something happened.  There was a schism caused by various reactions to a single incident that snowballed into a major issue.  In short, a woman at a skeptic convention found herself in an uncomfortable situation and she blogged about it afterwards.  A major player in the atheist community belittled her problem to a certain extent basically calling it a 1st world problem. The person who voiced this opinion did seem to rethink his position after others jumped on him but the damage was done. Almost everyone over-reacted. (in my opinion) Names were called and outrage dispensed by community members and her online community started lining up with her.  It became such a horrific issue that anyone who dared to voice a different opinion was verbally beaten down by the aforementioned community members and readers.  It became an "us vs. them" issue.  You were either with them or against them and there is no middle ground!

Then a member of the community came up with an idea that they should create their own off-shoot of the atheism community and a safe place, she called it, where they could (I presume) communicate with each other without hearing dissenting views.  The group is something very much like secular humanism -to the extent that I and others questioned the need for a new name and group for something that already exists- but absolutely excluding those who did not fall in line and agree with every last bit of their point of view.

The clique started targeting individuals and demonizing them.  Those who opposed the clique, behaved badly as well.  Neither side wished to have an actual discussion to try to come to some sort of compromise - at least not at this point - and when they started walling themselves off from dissenting views, all they could hear were their own voices echoing back at them.  Before long, those views became more extreme. This sort of over reaction and radical actions on both sides is indicative of group polarization. It's a pity, really, because there are a lot of good people on both sides of this issue and they are wasting their time battling each other when we could be working together for the common good.

One can only hope that eventually there are enough of us who refuse to take sides and that some of those who are becoming more radical will realize the problem and work to resolve it.  I do hope that we don't have to get even more extreme before a solution is found.

Image found here

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A daughter's reflections

My 90 year-old mother has moved into assisted-living at a rather nice retirement community.  I'm relieved - as I feel it is best for her - but also feeling overwhelmed.  It has been an emotional transition for all the involved parties but it seems like it will work out.

My mother previously lived by herself in a double-wide trailer in a 55 and older community which she moved into from the 2-story family home we all grew up in.

When she moved into the double-wide we attempted to dispose of items she would have no use for that had no sentimental value and discovered that practically everything had sentimental value to her. Now my sisters and I are working on sorting through everything she left behind and it is quite a project.

First, you have to remember that my mother grew up during the Depression so she saved everything.  As she grew older and her mind became a bit less sharp, she still saved these things but forget where she kept them. So...  we are finding dozens upon dozens of plastic bags (neatly folded and sometimes in bags themselves), paper bags, rubber bands, twist-ties and flattened and folded pieces of aluminum foil in several different drawers, cabinets, under the sink, in with the china and in closets.

Secondly, my mother wants to know that some of the things she cherishes the most are going to other family members so they, too, can cherish them. Most of these items have been re-homed - thankfully - but we are having a hard time with some of them.  Her queen-sized bed, for one. Oddly her memory is quite sharp at the times when we really wish it would fail as she keeps asking us if we've found someone to take some of the items.

Finally, I have come to realize that I must have some of my mother in me.  Yes, I save plastic shopping bags and twist-ties and rubber bands but that's not what I'm talking about. I also feel compelled to hold onto the things that have been in the family for years even though there is no place for them.  Currently on my mind are some older pieces of glassware and china that originally came from my father's sister's husband's family.  My first instinct was to try to attempt to find someone from that family who might want them but we've realized we no longer know of any living members of that family.  Now we don't know what to do with them but I feel that we should not sell them and that someone should take them.  I really have no room for them but the little voice in my head is telling me to take them anyway and thus far I have resisted saying so.  I keep hoping one of my siblings will take them.  Or a niece or nephew.

Most of the items will be sold off in a yard sale when we have all gone through them.  I hope we are able to make a decent amount of money for mother but at the very least I hope that the useful items will find a new home.

For the time I am left contemplating just how many casserole dishes one person needs and how my mother came to own so many!  I'm not even going to mention the clothing.

Image courtesy of ForestWander and found here

Monday, October 1, 2012

Saturday Six - September 29, 2012

1. D is for Day: Which day of the week would you most like to have two of every week? I think I'd have to go with Sunday, though Saturday is a close second. The only thing I dislike about Sunday is having Monday follow it.  Otherwise, it is the day that most of the NFL games are played and various other sports are played.  I spend Saturday running around to various stores and doing housework so Sunday is more of a day off for me.
2. D is for Drama: What is your all-time favorite television drama? This is a tough one.  I enjoyed CSI for the longest time but there have been so many cast changes that it isn't the same show anymore so I don't watch it. I remember watching Dallas and those night-time soap operas but I can't say they are my all-time favorites.  I guess I'll go with Criminal Minds - though I don't make a point to watch it anymore.  If Grimm continues to keep me interested, it might surpass many of my previous favorites but I can't call it an "all-time" favorite as it is too new.
3. D is for Dog: What breed of dog that you've never owned would you most like to? This is easy:  a bull terrier!  I love the way they look!

4. D is for Drink: What single drink do you drink most often? Coffee.  Water would be a close second, though unsweetened iced tea might be second during the summer months.
5. D is for Dessert: What is your single favorite dessert? It used to be New York style cheesecake but I think I'm really growing more fond of a good, homemade blueberry or raspberry pie. (heated up with a scoop of a good vanilla ice cream!)
6. D is for Dime: What is the last thing you remember being able to buy for 10¢ or less? Wow. I'm stumped!  We used to buy penny candy that was actually a penny when I was young but I think there must have been something since then but I can't think of it!

These are the Saturday Six from Patrick's Place!