Thursday, January 22, 2015


"Those who are not Muslims, we respect their belief and if it's our belief, you have to respect our belief," he said. "That's all we want. Nothing more, nothing less."
Wait, what?  You respect our beliefs?  Since when?

Attention all Muslims.  It is our belief that every man is free and that the right to free speech is a part of being free.  If you don't like someone's speech, feel free to not do business with them, feel free to not socialize with them, feel free to cross the street when you see them coming.  Killing them, however, is not counted as respect.

Oh, and by the way, we don't have to respect your beliefs.  We will tolerate them (right up to the point where you stone a woman to death for committing adultery or pronounce a death sentence on someone because they decide not to believe in your religion any more) but we don't have to respect you at all.

You don't have to respect our beliefs either, come to think of it.  You can think we are all horrible people who are going to hell in some afterlife, but if you want to live in our countries then you get to accept that it isn't up to you to decide.  You don't get to make that decision for us.  You don't get to decide to put us to death because we don't believe in your religion.  You don't get to enslave us because we don't believe.  We will not be second class citizens in our own countries.  Here it is called freedom of religion and freedom of speech.  We believe that you can live your life but you don't get to impose it on the rest of us.

So if all you want is a little respect, how about vocally condemning Islamic suicide bombers?  How about marching in the streets to protest Islamic terrorists?  How about standing up and saying that it is wrong for Muslims to incite violence against non-Muslims?  How about standing up and calling for the Islamic countries around the world to implement freedom of religion?  How about standing up and calling for and end to fatwah and violent jihad?  How about rejecting that part of the Koran that says that it is OK for you to lie to a non-Muslim?

When you do, I might consider respecting your religion.  In the meantime I will tolerate your right to practice your religion but respect?  I think you are asking a bit much.

Shipping to Italy

Sold a Zippo lighter to a fellow in Italy.  It's a USS George Washington (CVN-73) lighter that I got in a batch I had purchased in order to get the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) lighter that I wanted for myself.  Took it down to the mail center and discovered the following list of "things you can't send to Italy".

A few things stood out:

Albums of any kind (of photographs, postcards, postage stamps, etc.).

Arms and weapons.

Articles of platinum or gold; jewelry; and other valuable articles unless sent as insured Priority Mail International parcels.

Artificial flowers and fruits and accessories for them.

Bells and other musical instruments and parts thereof.

Cartridge caps; cartridges.

Clocks and supplies for clocks.

Compound medicaments and medicines.

Coral mounted in any way.

Ether and chloroform.

Exposed photographic and cinematographic films.

Footwear of any kind.

Haberdashery and sewn articles of any kind, including trimmings and lace; handkerchiefs; scarves; shawls, needlework including stockings and gloves; bonnets, caps, and hats of any kind.

Hair and articles made of hair.

Human remains.

Leather goods.

Lighters and their parts, including lighter flints.

Lithium cells and batteries — including items containing lithium cells and batteries under 135.6.

Live bees, leeches, and silkworms.

Live plants and animals.

Nutmeg, vanilla; sea salt, rock salt; saffron.

Parasites and predators of harmful insects.

Perfumery goods of all kinds (except soap).

Playing cards of any kind.

Postage stamps in sealed or unsealed First-Class Mail International or First-Class Package International Service shipments.

Radioactive materials.

Ribbons for typewriters.

Roasted or ground coffee and its substitutes; roasted chicory.

Saccharine and all products containing saccharine.

Salted, smoked or otherwise prepared meats; fats; and lard.


Toys not made wholly of wood.

Treated skins and furs.

Weapons of any kind and spare parts for them.

Really?  Photo albums, toys not made of wood, footwear, typewriter ribbons, clocks, bells?  What on earth are they trying to prevent happening in Italy?  Wouldn't want people having access to clocks now.  Or maybe this has to do with some sort of trade war of which we had previously not been aware, but if that's the case, how odd that it applies to things that are being mailed versus importers of large quantities.  I can't imagine that it would be cost efficient to be mailing shoes to the Italians one pair at a time through the post office.

It's very strange.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Shut up, they argued

You are not to criticize.  You are to stay silent. 

Do you believe that there are issues with the religion of Islam?  Shut up. 

Do you have legitimate arguments backed up with facts that you hope Muslims will consider about their religion? Shut up.

Do you believe that Islam is a religion that institutionalizes violence and can you back your argument up with evidence from the Koran?  Shut up.

That is the argument of the honor brigade, an organized campaign to silence critics of Islam.  Their tactics include documenting and publicizing "slights" against the faith (Islamophobia Observatory), labeling critics as "Islamophobes" using a wide network of bloggers and pundits who attack anyone who questions Islam, and directing violence against anyone perceived as having insulted Islam.  Witness Charlie Hebdo staff being murdered; Ayaan Hirsi Ali living in fear of death for having dared to leave Islam (a death sentence under the Koran, by the way) and for criticizing some practices of the religion; Theo Van Gogh, filmmaker, murdered for daring to criticize; Salman Rushdie under sentence of death for writing a book that portrayed Mohammed in a negative light; the list goes on.

The counter-argument to criticism of Islam?  Shut up.

Maybe it's time that we didn't.

Observations on the national conversation

No, not that conversation.


More specifically, the Seahawks versus the Packers.  I feel the need to chime in given the substantial weight being thrown in on one side of the discussion.  Namely the idea that "the Seahawks didn't win, the Packers lost".  The comment that sparked this screed was that "the best team didn't win, the luckiest one did".

So let's analyze the game and see if the luckiest team or the best team won.

Item 1: The Seahawks turned over the ball five times.  Four interceptions by Russell Wilson, his worst game ever, college or professional, plus one fumble.  The Packers scored a total of 22 points against the Seahawks number 1 defense.

Item 2: The Packers were the number one offense in the league coming into the game.  The Seahawks defense held them to 22 points in spite of the Seahawks offense committing five turnovers.

Item 3: Aaron Rodgers, arguably the best quarterback in football and a shoe in for the Hall of Fame someday, had a passer rating of just 55.8 for the game.

Item 4: Everyone knows it isn't a good idea to test Richard Sherman.  But with an opportunity to score Aaron Rodgers made the decision to throw towards Sherman.  Sherman intercepted the ball in the end zone, preventing the touchdown.

Item 5: The Seahawks scored a touchdown on a perfectly executed fake field goal in the third quarter.  AJ Hawke, whose job it was to cover Gilliam, was left with the choice of leaving Gilliam open to cover Ryan running or give up the first down by staying with Gilliam.  There were no other Packer players outside to make a play.

Item 6: The Seahawks scored a touchdown on a 69 yard 7 play drive with  2:09 left in the game to make the score 19-14

Item 7: The Seahawks scored the go ahead touchdown with 1:25 left in the game on a beautiful 24 yard run by Marshawn Lynch.  The blocking was perfect, the run was typical Lynch.

Item 8: The Seahawks converted the two point conversion which resulted in Green Bay only being able to tie the game with their subsequent field goal.

Item 9: The Seahawks took the opening kickoff of overtime 87 yards in 6 plays to win the game, finishing with back to back 35 yard passing plays, one to Doug Baldwin at the Green Bay 35 and the second scoring pass to Jermaine Kearse for the touchdown.

On the flip side, what did Green Bay do to lose the game?

Item 1: Fumbled the on-side kick to allow Seattle to recover with 2:09 left in the game.

Item 2: Anyone?

Now you tell me.  Did the best team win or the luckiest? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

They can't kill us all

In support of Charlie Hebdo I am doing more than holding up a pen, an action that requires no moral courage.  No one, not even members of the lunatic religion of Islam, is going to come after you for holding up a pen at a vigil.  No one is going to attack you for saying how horrible it is that the staff at Charlie Hebdo was murdered.  They will, however, come after you for insulting their religion.  Mormons (The Book of Mormon) or Christians (Piss Christ) might express their sorrow that you feel the need to attack the beliefs of others, they might express disgust at your inability to live in a polite society without feeling the need to mock others, but they won't behead you, they won't attack you with AK-47s, they won't blow you up with a bomb.

Muslim's however, believe in a religion which requires that all convert or die.  The Dar al Islam, the House of Peace, will come when the last unbeliever is dead or has converted.  Like it or not, this is written into the Koran.  It is the cowardice of the western media that allows attacks like Charlie Hebdo to take place.  If every media outlet had printed the Danish cartoons when the protests started, the protesters would not have had a focus for their outrage.  If the major media outlets such as CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, NY Times, LA Times, etc would print just some of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, the protesters would have nothing.  Instead they get to murder twelve unarmed individuals who may be creating despicable cartoons, but who have a right to say or print whatever they want.

For the record, I find Charlie Hebdo's cartoons over the top.  But as Evelyn Beatrice Hall so eloquently wrote, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

In that vein, in solidarity with the murdered staff of Charlie Hebdo, and in defense of free speech everywhere, here are a few of the Danish and Charlie Hebdo cartoons. 

You don't have to look at these, by the way.  The beauty of a free country is the freedom to walk away.  I warn you now because if you look, and if you are offended, it is all on you.

You have been warned.  (Oh, and maybe it is time to bring back Everybody Draw Mohammed Day)

Oh, and I backed up my blog, just in case.  Just ask Professor Hale why.

Who trusts the Fourth Estate?

I don't have cable TV so I don't watch much television that isn't off Netflix or the internet so I don't see much CNN.  I heard a report however, that CNN's coverage of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks contained this tidbit.

While they were showing the video of the terrorist attacks, in which you could clearly hear the terrorists shouting "Allahu ackbar" and "Mohammed is avenged" there was a ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen that said "the gunmen's motive is unknown at this time".

This might be an incorrect report, but it fits, doesn't it.  This is par for the course.  Add this to "Three Israelis, two Palestinians dead in shooting" headline, failing to mention that the two Palestinians were the shooters and they were dead because the police killed them; or the Marysville High School shooting in Washington state, where the media constantly reports a "death toll of five" which includes the shooter who killed himself.  The media has also in the past counted the deaths of criminals who are killed by the police when listing gun violence statistics.  Anything to blur the lines, to cause confusion, to keep us from knowing what is really going on in the world.

A small piece of history

My aunt and uncle are downsizing.  Sold their house, moving into a nice condo just down the road.  Asked if I might be interested in a couple family things that none of my cousins have room or inclination for so I swung by yesterday.  Two small items had to come home with me, just because of the history.  The first is my great uncle Ernst's hand cranked grinding wheel. 

A little work with a soft toothbrush and some warm water and I discovered that this was made by the Prairie du Chien Tool Company.  The history of this company as available on line is a bit unclear.  Their corporate history states that they have been manufacturing tools since 1920, but it also says that Prairie Tool Company was acquired in 1920.  No mention of when the name was changed.  Anyway, there is a 1925 patent date on this particular model and since Uncle Ernst was born in 1921 I think it's safe to assume that he didn't acquire it until later than 1925.

I've never seen one of these before and am not quite sure how to use it since a grinding wheel always requires me to have two hand on the item being sharpened, but I am going to make an effort to figure it out, just because.  I am thinking that the slow speed of the wheel will keep the blade from being grabbed by the stone so less force would be needed to hold everything together.  I know that the advantage of a slow speed wheel is that it doesn't generate the heat that a high speed grinder does, meaning less loss of temper in the blade being sharpened.  That whole sentence has a weird tense but I think it makes sense.

Second interesting item, my grandfather's pitchfork.  How do we know it is his?  Just check out the initials carved into the handle.

Howard Sherman A.  Totally cool, it is a short fork with big flat metal tines.  I probably won't use it much but what a great piece of family history to have.  Sad to see my dad's generation getting older and slowing down, but I'm pretty pleased (as they seem to be) to keep some of this history in the family and maybe have an opportunity to some day pass it on to another generation.