Friday, February 22, 2008

Zoomed by a Satellite?

We have been seeing the news reports of how the Navy performed a wonderful feat, by destroying a disabled spy satellite with a missile shot from the USS Lake Erie. If our troops did that, they deserve a "high five". I support our troops. Its a shame that the civilian part of the government casts such a large shadow of incredibility that it touches on our guys and gals in the trenches.

Maybe I've been watching too much TV, but I am skeptical of anything that our current government tells us. With the erosion of civil rights for our native citizens in the guise of 911 reprisals, and the cascade of lies that have been thrown at us, I am more likely to believe one of the following scenarios than the one publicized :

A. A foreign power has placed an offensive military satellite with a nuclear or biological payload into orbit. The US decides to destroy it; or

B. The US has botched up something very badly in a scientific NASA project, and decided to shoot it down rather than become embarrassed by it.

The story presented by the goverment portrays the government in a responsible, eco-friendly, light, cleaning up some cold war mess. It portrays a highly effective missile defense system, that most assuredly will need more funding in the near future.

The portrayal just doesn't jive with the government that I have come to know. I love our country. I served in the armed forces. But I hate being treated like a mushroom. GW has been spreading manure around us for so long now, I expect this is just another load.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Adventures of a New Homeowner

Last month I went to settlement on my first home. It was not a brand new house of my dreams, but rather an older home with tons of potential. Now it is up to me to take it from home with potential to home of my dreams. Perhaps I am being overly optimistic, but I think I can do it. However, every time I look at my little castle, all I can see is a list of things to be done. This is the tale of the first item on the list—dealing with the old paneling that is EVERYWHERE in my house. I understand that there was a time period when wood paneling was all the rage, but it is even on the ceiling in my dining room. How could anyone have ever thought that wood paneling on a ceiling was a good idea???

This weekend, hammer and pry bar in hand, I started the task of pulling down the heinous GREEN paneling that was on one wall of my office. Two boo-boos, lots of cursing, and 4 hours later my room was liberated of the nasty green paneling. The job itself was not bad. However, looking at the walls under the paneling with the 5 or 6 layers of old wallpaper dating back to the 1950s, all of the nail holes, and the remaining glue that held the paneling up, I am rethinking my strategy. Since applying new drywall to every room of the house is not an option for me (nasty drywall allergy and big swollen cartoon hands), I did some researching to see what else could be done.

In the course of my research I came across three methods that did not seem so bad:
1. Covering Paneling With Drywall Compound
2. Paint Wood Paneling
3. Transform wood paneling using wallpaper to cover grooves

I was wondering, though, if anyone reading this had any good suggestions (short of blowing up the house and starting again) for dealing with hideous wood paneling.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Old Documents - With Current Relevance

Inspired by reading a News Journal article this morning, about the oldest documents in the State Archives (letters and such of a Swedish settler, also bearing signatures of Governor Printz), I dug into the back of the vault to pull out some of my most favorite reading materials.

I have several old books from the colonial period, bearing owner signatures of historical significance. Last year I tried to donate them the the University of Delaware Library because I saw what a nice facility they have for maintaining fragile old documents. But alas, the UD was so awash with its own cumbersome bureaucratic self-important inefficiency, that I could never get a call back from the right department.

My favorite read is not my oldest book. It is Principles of Revolution (that's the short title for the actual Title... Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America: or, an attempt to Collect and Preserve Some of the Speeches, Orations, & Proceedings, With Sketches and Remarks on Men and Things, and other Fugitive or Neglected Pieces, Belonging to the Revolutionary Period in the United States; Which Happily, Terminated in the Establishment of their Liberties: With a view to represent the feelings that prevailed in the "Times that Tried Men's Souls," to Excite a Love of Freedom, and Lead the People to Vigilance, as the Condition on Which it is Granted, By H. Niles).

Just the long version of the title to the book alone inspires me. They sure had a way with words. This is an 1822 book with inscriptions by such familiar people as Commegys; Polk, and the like.

Today I will attempt to transcribe a letter from His Excellency George Washington to General Gage, from Caimbridge, August 11, 1775:

Sir - I understand that the officers, engaged in the cause of liberty and their country, who by the fortune of war, have fallen into your hands, have been thrown indiscriminately into a common jail appropriated for felons - that no consideration has been had for those of the most respectable rank, when languishing with wounds and sickness- that some of them have been even amputated in this unworthy situation.

Let your opinion, sir, of the principle which actuates them, be what it may, they suppose they act from the noblest of all principles, a love of freedom and their country. But political opinions, I conceive, are foreign to this point. The obligations arising from the rights of humanity, and claims of rank, are universally binding and extensive, except in the case of retaliation. These, I should have hoped, would have dictated a more tender treatment of those individuals, whom chance or war had put in your power. Nor can I forbear suggesting its fatal tendency to widen that unhappy breach, which you, and those ministers under who you act, have repeatedly declared you wish to see forever closed.

My duty now makes it necessary to apprise you, that, for the future, I shall regulate my conduct towards those gentlemen of your army, who are, or may be in our possessioin, exactly by the rule you shall observe towards those of ours who may be in your custody.

If severity and hardship mark the line of your conduct (painful as it may be to me) your prisoners will feel its effect; but if kindness and humanity are shown to ours, I shall, with pleasure, consider those in our hands only as unfortunate, and they shall receive from me that treatment to which the unfortunate are ever entitled.

I beg to be favored with an answer as soon as possible, and am, sir, your very humble servant.
G. Washington

Friday, February 08, 2008

$100 Reward! -- Anybody But Brady

I don't usually get involved in politics, mostly because it disgusts me. But once in a while I get spurred to speak, like now.

I noticed in today's News Journal that John F Brady has announced his candidacy for Insurance Commissioner. Oh my gosh. Please no.

My personal opinion, from having directly observed his behaviour and work product, is that he is not fit for the public service. I was duly unimpressed with his professionalism, ethics, and the quality of his work.

So with concern and a sense of desperate urgency, I say... "Anybody But Brady".

I pledge to contribute $100 each unto the first five legitimate candidates for Insurance Commissioner who oppose Mr. Brady. The first five to be determined by the time and date that they contact me by email at Legitimate is to be defined for these purposes as candidates who have formally filed their candidacy. This pledge is valid only for this election year.

I challenge other concerned citizens and businesses to match my pledge.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Government Crook Steals Millions In Time/Warner Fraud

According to the News Journal this morning, Anthony J Lofink plead guilty to stealing millions from Delaware's unclaimed property account (called escheat), largely by use of fraudulent documents involving the Time/Warner merger.

Lofink is shown here (on the right) leaving the federal courthouse in clothing bought with stolen funds. Photo by John Randolph/ Special to the News Journal.