The Saddest Sentence…

I’ve ever heard was just reported on the News Hour
a few minutes ago.
“A sixth young girl was sent home, she is not expected to live.”
This is of course in reference to the shooting in Pennsylvania.
“..sent home. She is not expected to live.”
She is being sent home to die with her family. Maybe in the scope of things, a better situation than finding your daughter already dead. The family will be by her side if death comes. But how horrible is that?
To see those horse drawn carriages that most of us think of a quaint bringing the parents to the funerals of their children I can only think, “How unfair”.
I don’t care for fairness anymore. The NRA is wrong and needs to be fought at every level. Charleston Heston can stay in his mansion grasping his flintlock as his poor brain turns to goo. Guns kill people, people with guns kill children.
Stop it.

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1892 The Pledge of Allegiance and the salute are devised.

1898 First flag salute in New York State.

1919 Washington is the first state to make the pledge mandatory.

1924 “Of America” is added to the pledge.

1935 Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse to say the pledge.

1940 U.S. Supreme Court rules that public school students may be expelled if they don’t say the pledge.

1942 Congress strikes the extended arm salute and codifies that the pledge be said with the right hand over the heart.

1943 U.S. Supreme Court reverses itself, ruling that students have a constitutional right not to say the pledge.

1954 “Under God” is added to the pledge.

2002 The 9th U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals rules that “Under God” is unconstitutional.

2004 U.S. Supreme Court throws out the 2002 federal court decision.

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The Saudi’s – Oil – & Funding Terrorism

Ran across this article in US News & World Report. Not a publication I normally read but this article was interesting.

The Saudi Connection
How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network
By David E. Kaplan

It traces the money Bin Laden and Al Qaeda use to fund their terrorist activities.
Here are just a few quotes;

"The team soon realized that its most basic assumptions about the source of bin Laden's money--his personal fortune and businesses in Sudan--were wrong. Dead wrong…

And where did it raise most of those funds? The evidence was indisputable: Saudi Arabia. America's longtime ally and the world's largest oil producer had somehow become, as a senior Treasury Department official put it, "the epicenter" of terrorist financing.

Starting in the late 1980s--after the dual shocks of the Iranian revolution and the Soviet war in Afghanistan--Saudi Arabia's quasi-official charities became the primary source of funds for the fast-growing jihad movement. In some 20 countries, the money was used to run paramilitary training camps, purchase weapons, and recruit new members.
The charities were part of an extraordinary $70 billion Saudi campaign to spread their fundamentalist Wahhabi sect worldwide. “

It goes on to say;

“Saudi largess encouraged U.S. officials to look the other way, some veteran intelligence officers say. Billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries have gone to a broad range of former U.S. officials who had dealt with the Saudis: ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, even cabinet secretaries….
Washington's unwillingness to confront the Saudis over terrorism was part of a broader strategic failure to sound the alarm on the rise of the global jihad movement. During the 1990s…”

Give it a read. It gets scarier and the reporting seems to be indepth.

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An E-mail From Marty

To the gang at No Land Grab, Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and Curbed I got an e-mail from Marty Markowitz. today.
He writes;

“Thanks John.a pleasure to meet you and yes, Atlantic Yards will become a reality in just a few years.”

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A Little More on the Atlantic Yards

I am reluctant turn this blog into a one issue blog so I will get back to art sailing and politics soon.
But first a little more on the Atlantic Yards, the development of the Nets Arena, Housing and shopping at Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. in Brooklyn.
The bloggers and readers of No Land Grab, Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and Curbed have come to this blog and expressed their anti Atlantic Yards, views in the comments area. I moderate the comments but am willing to post them all as long the language is appropriate. So far most are passionate but polite.
So… Comment away.
I do have to say they totally wasted their time and energies. The Atlantic Yards, are going to happen. All the blogs and endless hours posting, marching and campaigning are to no avail.
I happen to be eating in a new local restaurant this weekend and met Marty Markowitz. The man is of course a Brooklyn cheerleader but there is no doubt in the man’s mind that the Atlantic Yards will happen.
So this Tuesday vote for candidates that support the project and lets get Brooklyn growing.

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Comments from the people at No Land Grab Are Shrill And Desperate

It seems the bloggers of No Land Grab saw fit to comment on my “Build The Arena” post below.

They wrote;

Anonymous said...
dear blogger. there happens to be a little thing called the Constitution and another little thing called democracy which you seem to have forgotten.

It’s nonsense of course. There is nothing in my post that advocates suppressing free speech and/or protesting against something that troubles you. Also my call to vote for candidates that support the Project is what every voter has the right to do.
It seems the people at No Land Grab do not want to see anyone support candidates that are for the Atlantic Yards Project and they use the Bush technique of calling anyone anti American who disagrees with them.
The fact is the Atlantic Yards Project will be a very positive project for Brooklyn that will not only brighten a dismal corner of the borough but shops and restaurants will grow up to service the visitors to the Arena, and the new residents of the apartments. The entire area will grow and many new businesses will come to life.
I lived in the village when the Westway project was fought and defeated. That was a colossal mistake. Now instead of being able to have safe access the water development that is beautiful, we have six lanes of roaring traffic between the neighborhood and the promenade that would have been hidden under ground.
Don’t allow this opportunity to slip away, support the Atlantic Yards Project and support candidates that will enable the Project.

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Build The Arena

Over at No Land Grab they are working hard to stop the Atlantic Yards Development that will include the Nets Arena, housing, shops and turn a dismal area of Brooklyn into a vibrant exciting area to visit. All desiged by one of the hottest architects in the world right now, Frank Gehry.

There are many in the sports media that are looking forward to the jobs that will be created and the transportation hub of the subway and LIRR will fill the arena and the shops and restaurants.
Brooklyn is on fire right now and needs this project. Should the displaced people be compensated, yes and the smart ones took the money and bought homes, in Brooklyn.
This election, please only vote for candidates that support the arena.

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Click on the photo to view full size.


I.D. Vs. Evolution

The last post on the Vatican’s article rebuking Intelligent Design netted a couple of responses one of which is here in part.

“While the curriculum proposed by the proponents of ID in the Pennsylvania case was questionable as to whether it was more religious than scientific, there are numerous counter examples in the geological record, fossil evidence, and other fields of science that call into question many of the assumptions drawn from theory of evolution.

Good scientific method (which by the way was originated by Grosseteste, a Catholic priest) and intellectual honesty demands that all evidence be considered and taught in order to discover and understand the laws governing God's creation. However, current evidence calling aspects of evolution and uniformitariansm into question are not taught in our schools. It's important to remember that science never proves anything; it only investigates and must accept that even one counter-example can call into question a theory that has been accepted for centuries.

Thus, Copernicus and Galileo should have been accepted. So too, should Michael Behe's (a Catholic) work in "Darwin's Black Box", as well as other scientists' work that demonstrates evidence of Intelligent design as opposed to random chance behind the origin of life and the universe, be examined honestly and taught since it adheres to the scientific method.

Aristotle's theory of spontaneous generation and Ptolemy's geocentric model of the solar system was held onto for centuries despite evidence to the contrary simply because of the scientists' reputations and because their theories were accepted by the culture. Our current society is permeated with attitudes derived from Darwin's work (e.g. social Darwinism), uniformitarianism and the so-called enlightenment that pits religion against science when it was the world view of Christianity that gave birth to the scientific method during the middle ages (i.e that we can know God better by understanding His creation). It has been the work of devout Christians that have made great advances in science. (e.g. Bacon, Mendel, Pascal, Einstein, etc.) Will we fall into the trap again of rejecting scientific evidence and thought simply because it bucks established cultural norms that claim that faith and scientific reason are at odds with each other?“

The sentence that most telling is “So too, should Michael Behe's (a Catholic) work in "Darwin's Black Box", as well as other scientists' work that demonstrates evidence of Intelligent design as opposed to random chance behind the origin of life and the universe, be examined honestly and taught since it adheres to the scientific method.

I would refer anyone interested to Michael Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box” which seems to be the main text of the proponents of Intelligent Design.
Unfortunately it is published by a science teacher as a scientific text. Reading any of the reviews reveals it is not supported by any proofs what so ever.
My reply to the letter above follows.

Thank you for your thoughtful response. It has challenged me to formulate my thoughts on the subject.
Please indulge me a little time to reply.

I want to review Dava Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter"

"In 1609, when Suor Maria Celeste (his daughter) was still a child in Padua, Galileo had set a telescope in the garden behind his house and turned it skyward. Never-before-seen stars leaped out of the darkness to enhance familiar constellations; the nebulous Milky Way resolved into a swath of densely packed stars; mountains and valleys pockmarked the storied perfection of the Moon; and a retinue of four attendant bodies traveled regularly around Jupiter like a planetary system in miniature.
"I render infinite thanks to God," Galileo intoned after those nights of wonder, "for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries."
If you haven't read this book it is a wonderful account of Galileo and his daughters faith.
Also I refer to this article in Physics Web that discusses the "proofs" of Pythagoras. Pythagoras is, of course, known for the "proof "of the right triangle. The concept of the formula was know well before Pythagoras but it was his "proofs" that set the rigorous scientific standards that were used by Galileo and are still used by our scientific benchmarks today. The right triangle is in some ways an easier "theory" to explore than the more emotional challenge of evolution.
"Thomas Hobbes (1588- 1679) saw a display copy of Euclid's Elements opened to Book I Proposition 47, Pythagoras's theorem. Pythagoras's theorem is important for its content as well as for its proof. But the fact that lines of specific lengths (3, 4 and 5 units, say) create a right-angled triangle was empirically discovered in different lands long before Pythagoras. Another empirical discovery was the rule for calculating the length of the long side of a right triangle (c) knowing the lengths of the others (a and b), namely c2 = a2 + b2. A Babylonian tablet from about 1800 BC shows that this rule was known in ancient Iraq more than 1000 years before Pythagoras, who lived in the sixth century BC. Ancient Indian texts accompanying the Sutras, from between 100 and 500 BC but clearly passing on information of much earlier times, also show a knowledge of this rule. An early Chinese work suggests that scholars there used the calculation at about the same time as Pythagoras, if not before.
But what we do not find in these works are proofs - demonstrations of the general validity of a result based on first principles and without regard for practical application. Proof was itself a concept that had to be discovered. In Euclid's Elements we find the first attempt to present a more or less complete body of knowledge explicitly via proofs."
There are no scientific and there cannot be scientific "proofs" applied to belief. We believe because it resides in our "souls".
There can only be "proofs" applied to scientific tenets. Can evolution be "proven" NO! Are "proofs" available to keep the "theory" of evolution the most viable explanation of the origin of species, YES! Should they be challenged vigorously YES!
Do such "proofs" exist for I.D.? I'm sorry no such "proofs" exist, nor does Mr. Behe attempt to provide any. His book is devoid of any scientific "proofs", only opinions that cannot be challenged. The phrase "irreducibly complex" that he uses to define his "theory" merely says "we can't know so we shouldn't try to know".
My thesis is not a debate of evolution vs. I.D. but how believers reconcile their belief in the modern world in the face of scientific exploration. Just as Pope Urban VII censored Galileo's realistic observations of the solar system unjustly, I.D. tries to deny realistic observations of the origins of life. How then do we find God in this? Intelligent Design denies any belief in GOD.
I will argue that belief is not denied by scientific exploration and that observation of the majestic wonder of life will only make our beliefs stronger. I believe that is why Professor Fiorenzo Facchini wrote in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper 'It is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science," calling intelligent design unscientific. "It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious."
In other words IMHO I.D. is a philosophical/religious discussion NOT a scientific one and should be separated from science classrooms. It is this philosophical/religious discussion that should be engaged in the appropriate forum.

Here is food for thought. In the quest for the origins of our species it is widely believed that we (humans) first appeared in central Africa from one common ancestor. Fifty thousand years ago central Africa could have easily been called an Eden. The Leakey's "Lucy" (or one of the early homo-sapiens) could be the "Eve" that we are all descended from. Discounting whether I am a monkeys uncle (sorry) hasn't "science" taken a step towards verifying a crucial part of the first book of the Torah (known to us as Genesis)? Could it be that sound "science" will lead us to our origins rather than an a denial of the real world around us? Could it be that God, who created this so very real world, will in his own time and wisdom reveal it to us through our vigorous scientific exploration?

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The Vatican Gets It Right

In an article in the NY Times the official Vatican newspaper takes the side of evolution.
It reads in part;

ROME, Jan. 18
The official Vatican newspaper published an article this week labeling as "correct" the recent decision by a judge in Pennsylvania that intelligent design should not be taught as a scientific alternative to evolution.

"If the model proposed by Darwin is not considered sufficient, one should search for another," Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, wrote in the Jan. 16-17 edition of the paper, L'Osservatore Romano.
"But it is not correct from a methodological point of view to stray from the field of science while pretending to do science," he wrote, calling intelligent design unscientific. "It only creates confusion between the scientific plane and those that are philosophical or religious."

The article was not presented as an official church position. But in the subtle and purposely ambiguous world of the Vatican, the comments seemed notable, given their strength on a delicate question much debated under the new pope, Benedict XVI. "

I am glad to see the Vatican step away from Intelligent Design as non-science. It was, after all, Pope John II who pardoned Galileo after 400 years. The trial in Pennsylvania and the school board in Kansas shows just much our education system is under attack by people who cannot reconcile their faith with modern science.
Pope Benedict has taken an important step for Catholics to study science in the real world.

The New York Times articles require registration but are free.

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My life is complete. I have seen the goat with a tire around it's middle.

The Robert Rauschenberg show at the Met is a very worthwhile show. It concentrates on the period between 1954 and 59 and has most of the most well known "combines". There are some canvases that are clearly cashing in on his popularity, the summer house series, but most are unique.
I didn't know about Black Mountain and his studying under Joseph Albers. Again the Bauhaus influences our culture. It also becomes clear that Jasper Johns was close to him, the coca cola piece could have been made by Johns, and there are hints at what Louise Nevelson was doing.
What is remarkable is the fact that he was a very good abstract expressionist without all the goodies hanging off the canvases.

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