Stone of Remembrance

February 25, 2009

Everything Vibrates, Apparently

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 13:18

But in Utah, a city can’t be compelled to tell you so.

A small religious group called Summum wanted to force Pleasant Grove City, Utah to place a marker containing its seven principles. The Supreme Court today rejected its claim that the city could not pick and choose which religious or philosophical statements could be displayed as public speech in a public setting. A Summum victory in this case would have forced governments and communities to permit any group to place any statement if any others were already in place.

I think it’s the right decision. Governments should be able to permit what they like in public places, without violating the Establishment Clause.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me if Summum’s web site will need some more horsepower – they’re probably going to get lots of hits. So everybody wins.

What do these guys believe? Well, their web site says:

The mission of Summum is simply this:
To help you liberate and emancipate you from yourself
and turn you into an Overcomer

Yeah. They claim that early Christian philosophers, particularly Gnostics, believed what they believe. I have to read a bunch to talk intelligently about this, so I’ll just list the seven main “principles of creation”:

  3. THE PRINCIPLE OF VIBRATION (My personal favorite.)

They also believe in mummification and the divine proportion.

A perusal of the web site makes me think that it’s two armfuls of books from the New Age section of a discount bookstore thrown in a Cuisinart® and poured into nice frosty glasses. Well, whatever works. (But not in Pleasant Grove City.)

Cool! Jesus brought some donut holes. (from the Summum web site.)

February 23, 2009

Simple Wikipedia

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 08:21

As if we need this.

One of my favorite web comics recently posted this cartoon:

Actually, I think if all higher math professors had to write for the Simple English Wikipedia for a year, we'd be much better shape academically.

Check the mouseover text.

While I wasn’t paying attention, the Simple English Wikipedia has actually come into existence. I look at the normal one like most internet users: for most subjects, it’s usually on the first page of a google search. But I find it annoyingly simple as it is.

From its front page, it presents the following manifesto:

We only use simple English words and grammar here. The Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone! That includes children and adults who are learning English.
. . .

When writing articles here:

  • Use easy words and shorter sentences. This lets people who know little English read them.
  • Write good pages. The best encyclopedia pages have useful, well written information.
  • Use the pages to learn and teach. These pages can help people learn English. You can also use them to make a new Wikipedia to help other people.
  • Simple doesn’t mean little. Writing in Simple English means that simple words are used. It does not mean readers want simple information. Articles don’t have to be short to be simple; expand articles, include a lot of information, but use basic vocabulary.
  • Be bold! Your article does not have to be perfect, because other editors will fix it and make it better. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to start and make articles better yourself.

Simple English. Simple words. Basic vocabulary.

I am comfortable with the idea that people for whom English is not a native language, or for whom it’s a challenge, should not be overwhelmed. I speak at schools, at grade levels from kindergarten through high school, and they get various levels of presentation. But I don’t dumb down; I don’t talk down; and I respect and appreciate the beauty of my own language.

But, seriously, I am that grammarian. (And may have to buy that t-shirt. People who don’t know the difference between “fewer” and “less” (i.e., “12 items or less”) and who should know better really annoy me. English is a wonderful language. Why do we have to engage in class warfare just because it’s a challenge to use it correctly?

February 17, 2009

Travel in Europe

Filed under: Travel, Walter\'s Schedule — admin @ 08:21

We will be at DortCon and will be visiting Amsterdam and Cologne.

February 10, 2009

Moonbat Helen

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 09:27

I heard some of the President’s press conference last night. There was a lot of blah blah, but one of the questions almost made me drive off the road.

It was from Helen Thomas, as lefty moonbat-ish as they come. She asked President Obama about safe havens for “so-called terrorists”. It’s true that Mr. Obama didn’t stuff the adjective back down her throat (though he didn’t say “so-called” in his reply), but as the link indicates, he also avoided answering the part of the question (about who has nuclear weapons) with “Israel”, so she could give a nasty followup.

I know, and he knew, what the question was intended to do. No news here. It’s the “so-called” that bugs the crap out of me. The people in the caves that killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 and thousands since, and would be happy to kill more in the name of their twisted view of Islam, are, in fact, terrorists.

Pick your ideology of choice, and espouse your opinion. But 9/11 happened, the world contains people who want to kill us, and some of them are hanging out in the mountains in Pakistan. Not “so-called” terrorists.


Recession Wire

Filed under: Commentary — admin @ 09:05

It made it to CNN’s morning program – a short interview with the founders of Recession Wire, “a pop-up site™, ready and willing to die,” as they put it. It’s organized, forward-looking, and not at all snarky. And as the founders say, it’s a place for people to share common experiences and concerns.

The current economic situation worries everyone, and I think that the worst thing people can do is to be ostriches – to put our heads down and pretend that it only affects others. I’ve been laid off a few times and dodged the bullet a few times, and ignoring the situation never made it go away.

Hopefully the site will get to shuffle off soon to its just reward. In the meanwhile, it’s interesting to read.

February 8, 2009

Bone Marrow Registry

Filed under: Commentary, Freemasonry — admin @ 23:27

Today I was at the Blood Drive in my home Masonic District, and had the opportunity to spend five minutes getting a quick cheek swab so that I could be added to the Caitlin Raymond International Registry for bone marrow donors. This absolutely painless procedure is used in searches for bone marrow or cord blood donors for those in need of bone marrow transplants.

The need for people to participate in this life-saving procedure was brought home recently when a dear friend I’ve known for 35 years was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Her life was turned upside down – and though she’s apparently found a match, it underlines the need for more people to be added to the database to save more lives. I don’t know if my particular marrow will ever match anyone’s need, but if it saves one life, it’s more than worthwhile.

And it really didn’t hurt a bit.

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