Thursday, December 4, 2008

A humble suggestion to our new president

I have one new idea (at least I haven't seen it elsewhere) which I would love to see our new administration implement. The President could introduce it as the Obama Doctrine, and it could be stated quite simply: It is not the policy of the United States to establish a permanent military presence in any other country, except at the invitation of the people (NOT the government) of that country. This is a hard world. Sometimes a temporary military presence may be necessary, or it may be the least evil option available. But our country will never have any permanent bases outside our territory, except at the invitation, by impartially observed popular election, of the people of that country. And that presence will end if a subsequent election revokes that invitation. It will not be sufficient for the government of a country to approve: a government might be controlled by a powerful minority, or not be representative of the actual people.
Why this policy? I think that throughout the world, the actions of the current U. S. regime have inspired a fear of a revival of colonialism: the nineteenth-century practice of the great powers of taking over a country and extracting its resources, with no real benefit to the people already living there. This is particularly true in the Middle East and, obviously, in Iraq. People there fear that the West in general and the USA in particular is tempted to take over, extract all their petroleum and leave them with little or nothing. The actions of the Bush administration have done next to nothing to allay these fears, and much to inflame them. This has been the Islamofascists' most potent weapon. They can exploit this fear to silence many ordinary people who might support us, or at least want to just live their peaceful lives. Anyone who speaks or acts against the terrorists is tarred as a supporter of the neocolonialists. No people who love their country want to seem like that to their neighbors. We need to make it plain that this is not our intention, not now and not ever.
I really believe that one short paragraph like that one can do more for peace in Iraq, and indeed most of the world, than every soldier we could send.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A New President

Well, we have a new president, and the first non-white-male president.  Hooray for us and all that!  Still, I hope (probably in vain) that the new administration will not assume that the whole country is overwhelmingly in favor of a hard left turn.  If so, he will be repeating the mistakes of previous administrations.  Mr. Obama, please remember that a lot of us were voting less for you and your policies than against the Republican policies of the last eight years.  George W. came in and installed a ton of hard-right policies that many people hated.  The distraction of 9/11 is the only reason the Republicans were not bounced out of Congress two years later, as the Democrats were in 1994.  If our country keeps swinging from far left to far right every four to eight years, sooner or later it will rip us apart.  There are a lot of us who would like to see our country steer a middle path when one is available. We are feeling disenfranchised and increasingly bitter at both the direction and the tone of life in our country these days. For a worst case example, I greatly fear that the first new policy will be an executive order declaring open season on the unborn. May God forgive us.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Kent State, May 4, 1970

This was originally a post to the KSU mailing list in response to a report on the Graduate Student Senate which included a mention of a memorial for the students killed and wounded by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State on May 4, 1970. Having composed the piece, I thought it could go here too.

Wow, the reference to May 4, 1970 took me back. Currently I am a graduate student of KSU at the Columbus extension, working towards a MLIS degree and hoping to become a librarian. But on that day, I had recently dropped out of Miami University as a Systems Analysis major for financial reasons. At MU I had been a leftist radical, burning my draft card and the whole nine yards. Seeing those news reports, especially the picture, now everything was different. The Selective Service System in its wisdom had given me a I-Y rating, eligible in case of war or national emergency (like Vietnam wasn’t?) so I was not in personal danger of being shipped off to Nam to get my a** shot up. But now I could have that privilege right here at home. What had been an abstract, academic political opinion instantly turned into real life. Even Miami U., stolid, upper-class, Republican Miami, where we radicals had felt like a tiny minority, was shut down by “student unrest.” Even the frat boys felt the fear of war: this could be me, not just the lower orders. I went back as soon as I could, and found my friends mostly at Hueston Woods State Park, relaxing and hoping that Miami was not next on the list. Of course hippies had our own strains of elitism and arrogance, sneering that revolution was this year’s fraternity party. But something fundamental had changed. We had enjoyed parading our fear of the government, but now it wasn’t a pose anymore. Strange days, they were. May 4th changed the world for us Baby Boomers, like nothing since JFK was killed, like nothing until 9/11. Ask your parents, how did they react to the news?
And now here I am 38 years later, a student of that same University. As the poet said, what a long strange trip it’s been. I am grateful to God for finally getting me to a place where, in many ways, I have always wanted to go. I may get the Master’s degree I always wanted, and get into a profession that is a vocation, not just a job, just a source of income. How interesting that it will come from a school with such a huge influence on my generation.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Why I am Pro-Life

Why I am Pro-Life

Even in my street-freak atheist-agnostic days, I was not comfortable with abortion. It was hard to publicly oppose it; such opposition was “pro-establishment”, the politically incorrect attitude to have at those times. But I didn’t like it. It just didn’t seem to fit in with a pacifistic approach to the rest of life. I could, of course, understand the reasons given. I knew what a trauma a “late” girlfriend could be. Children can be so bloody inconvenient! Thank God I never had to deal with that; there’s no way of knowing what I might have done, or wanted to do, before I knew Jesus.
After returning to faith and, somewhat depressingly, the straight life, I married a wonderful woman. Our two sons are grown now, but they are not our only children. Our first child, as it turned out our only girl, was born 13 weeks premature. We had her for 5 weeks before she died. Betty has what our OB-Gyn diagnosed as an incompetent cervix; at the time (1978) there was no reliable test. Once her condition was known, the doctor could reinforce her cervix surgically; that is how we got our two boys. But I held Katie, caressed her, loved her. And the very thought that someone like our Katie, except for being born, has the same legal status and protection as toenail clippings, is INTOLERABLE! You just don’t draw lines; you can’t say these humans are people and those humans are not. That is what Roe v. Wade did, what Dred Scott v. Sanford did and what the Nazis did. That is the part of the German half of my ancestry I am really ashamed of. I have studied American history, particularly the Civil War, and lived through most of the civil rights movement. Having seen the price we paid and are still paying for racial slavery, I don’t want to be here when the bill comes due for abortion.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Whole Wheat pretzel recipe

for Chris Hunter - bake well, young friend!

Whole Wheat Pretzels

2/3 cup water
1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur brand Traditional)
1 tablespoon molasses {I like blackstrap or full-flavor)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast

If using a bread machine, follow machine directions for “Dough” setting. In bread machine check for right texture (see below) when ball is formed and smooth but before first rise cycle starts, and add flour or water if needed. (You may need to start the bread machine over.) When the rise cycle starts I like to put a damp cloth inside the machine over but not touching the dough (keeps a crust from forming on the dough.)

To do by hand, mix all ingredients in a bowl, till it forms into a ball. Knead dough 5 to 10 minutes by hand. It should not be too sticky; if it comes away on your fingers add a bit more flour and knead some more. If it doesn’t feel at all sticky, add water but no more than a teaspoon at a time. Set the bowl in a warm place and let the dough ball rise in the bowl, covered with a damp cloth or towel, for about an hour. It should be noticeably larger; most baking books say it should be doubled in bulk, but the exact size may vary.

When dough is ready, put some pretzel salt in a small plate and grease or spray-oil a large cookie sheet. Get little bits of dough and roll between your hands into a little log shape. Dip the pretzel in the salt, shake off any excess, and place salt side up on the cookie sheet. Leave the width of a pretzel between pretzels. Allow to rise in a warm place about another hour. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven 12-14 minutes. Makes about 20-24 pretzels, depending on how large or small you make them.

Jim S.

one more time

Well, that worked out better than I had expected. I didn't lose points for snarkiness, and aced the course. Thank you, Dr. Boon! Thank you especially for telling me that I am a good writer. In my career as a computer nerd, I knew that I was one of the best writers around. That was pretty faint praise; most techno-geeks can't put a coherent sentence together. In library school, where the majority of students are either English or History majors, I expected to be well out of my league. But getting compliments from someone who sees lots of student writing was really good to hear. So, I may actually start writing stuff here.

Friday, February 29, 2008

BlogPost the First

Okay, here is my first post on my first blog. This is not my idea; I am doing it as an assignment for a course in the KSU School of Library and Information Science. Personally, I don't see the point of blogs and blogging. If I don't know a writer, or have any reason to think that a writer is in some way worth reading, I am probably wasting my time. And if only my friends read it, what am I doing that I was not already doing with e-mail? Oh well, this should be enough for the assignment, though I may lose points for snarkiness.

Jim S.