Monday, March 2, 2015

Loving a Different America

[From Billlifka, reproduced by prior permission]

Past NYC Mayor and Presidential Candidate, Rudy Giuliani, has many speaking engagements. I’ve heard him and he’s good.

However, he goofed in a recent oration by expressing his belief that President Obama doesn’t love America. 

A firestorm erupted, especially in the media and in hastily organized interviews of Liberal politicians.

A few Conservative pundits and politicians went beyond a concerned tut-tut when cornered by the media. In saying bad things about Obama any speaker will be called unpatriotic and, in consideration of his skin color, a racist.

I think the Mayor was in error for saying what he said but I think he was half right.

Giuliani’s problem was he failed to define his terms properly, a common custom of politicians. I agree with the many indignant leftists that it’s impossible to know what’s in a person’s heart. On the other hand, I think a person’s words and actions provide compelling clues to cardio-content.

I believe Mr. Obama loves the America he knows. 

I believe he has no liking at all for the America that I know and is doing his best (or worst) to eliminate that America. 

In that intent, he has many powerful forces as his allies, along with many dupes. Many of the allies don’t love my America and many of the dupes haven’t a clue. Mr. Obama’s America was defined by associates who hated my America, from his boyhood through college and his years in Chicago before becoming U.S. Senator. They guaranteed his America would be very different than mine. In the White House, he’s surrounded by sycophants who have experienced an America similar to his and, certainly, would not oppose their idol’s viewpoint on anything. He has been coddled by the intelligentsia, media, entertainment industry, race profiteers, some professional black athletes and leaders of various organizations aiming to get special presidential favors from him. These include the usual activist groups and the heads of large unions and large corporations. Mr. Obama has never had to take responsibility for his lies, deceptions, obfuscations, illegal acts or mistakes, a few of which have been catastrophic in impact. He is protected from punishment by his political team, ideological admirers and the complicit media. ...

Regardless of their feelings toward him and his policies, Generals and Admirals kowtow to him as if their jobs depend on it, which they do.

It appears Mr. Obama leads an exemplary family life. 

This provides deniability for charges that his frequent White House guests are foul-mouthed rappers who denigrate women and other entertainment industry celebrities who achieve fame by presenting immorality as acceptable and commonplace behavior. He socializes with multimillionaires whose patronage will guarantee his own economic well-being after white House years while pushing for higher taxation, knowing he will grant offsetting favors for these rich friends in return for political contributions. He transfers the property of hard-working middle class citizens to make life more pleasant for needy folks, a goodly number of whom could jettison their neediness if they’d work.

All-in-all, Mr. Obama has a pleasant life in his America; it’s no mystery that he loves it. 

The America I know is very different but I love it too. 

As a Cub Scout saluting the America flag, I learned that war clouds were gathering over the rest of the world and our nation was relatively safe from war on its continent. My father’s salary placed us slightly above the poverty level (if there had been such distinctions at that time) but we were happy he had remained employed though the Great Depression years. We suspected the hard times didn’t come from some defect in America (it was worse in other parts of the world). There were crazies who ranted against the banks and corporations but normal people didn’t listen to them; banks were the source of loans and corporations provided the jobs. As kids we understood that, as poor as we were, we had a good shot at personal prosperity if we qualified for a good job and worked hard at it. This chance had nothing to do with our economic or social class. It did depend on a good education and we had an equal shot at that also. We learned to be good people (morally) if we were to advance ourselves and were motivated in that direction by the carrot of heaven and the stick of hell.

I began to understand one price of Americanism as older cousins returned home to recuperate from war wounds. It was our responsibility to go to the aid of friendly countries as two of them had come to America’s aid in its founding war. In the smaller war to follow, I donned a uniform of my country and was proud to serve on active duty. That pride is one element of my love. In all the armed engagements since, I am reminded of that pride and love by the exploits of our troops. Freedom is not free. There will be future wars to test our pride in and our love for America.

I had studied history in school and read many history texts for personal interest and enjoyment. Whether American, European, Modern, Medieval or Ancient, all readings increased my love for a country which was so unique to all locations and all time. I learned more about America, how it came to be and what it is. It’s a place, of course. More than that, it’s a group of people. Since the people are all colors, religions and descended from all parts of the globe, it’s more than people. I concluded that America is a concept expressed in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States and the first ten amendments to that Constitution and put into practice by very ordinary people.

These ordinary people have implemented the concept in an extraordinary manner which is not to say their execution has been without faults. There’ve been many, including the manner in which African/American citizens eventually were granted the equality to which they were entitled.

Underlying the concept and implementation of America were three societal foundations:

  • JudeoChristian morality (behavior),
  • A market economy and
  • Representative democracy. 

These are the major ingredients of the America I love along with the limited central government that is defined in the body of the U.S. Constitution. I’m quite certain that Mr. Obama and his cohorts (including the mostly Progressive bureaucrats in the Executive Branch) have been intentionally attacking each of these in major ways and with dismaying success and turning the America I love into the America that Mr. Obama loves. Extremist Muslims have formed brigades of believers willing to die for their religious/political ideology by repetitive and restrictive teaching of their young. So also, Progressives are in the majority in American professions that influence the young (ages one to thirty). Mr. Obama’s America is at war with my America and I wonder which America you choose to love?


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Which Way Is UP?

Based on a prescient suggestion by my wife, Vi, I've come up with a simple way to quickly figure out which way is UP on the connector when you plug a cable into your Cellphone, Tablet, PC, or other device. And, it even works in the dark!
Unless you have extraordinarily sharp eyes and look very closely for the special symbol embossed on the connector, it is impossible to figure out which side of these flat connectors should be UP when you connect it to your Cellphone, Tablet, or PC. I asked my wife if she had some nail polish that I could dab on the UP sides of these connectors and she suggested that a small strip of tape would be easier to see and perhaps even feel.

BINGO!!! I happened to have some Velcro tape that comes with very powerful adhesive. Velcro works because there are two types of surfaces involved. Paraphrasing Wikipedia, the word Velcro is a Portmanteau of two French words:
  • Velour ("velvet"), LOOPS - A mat of tiny hair-like loops that feel smooth to the touch, and
  • Crochet ("hook"), HOOKS - Tiny plastic hooks that feel rough to the touch.
As the first three photos show, I cut small rectangles of Velcro HOOK tape and pasted them onto the UP-facing sides of the Cellphone, Tablet, HDMI, and USB connectors. Even if it is dark or I don't have my reading glasses on, a quick touch tells me the rough side should face upwards.

There is a strong visual cue if you use light-colored Velcro tape on black connectors, and dark-colored Velcro tape on white connectors. However, even if (as the second photo shows) the connector and the Velcro tape are white, you can generally see the glint of the rough texture of the Velcro HOOKs. Of course, Velcro comes in white and black and and other colors so you have your choice.

As the fourth photo indicates, you can paste a strip of the Velcro LOOP tape onto the surface of your charger, so you can easily wrap the cord and secure the connector. I'm sure you will find interesting places to paste the Velcro LOOP material to hold your Velcro HOOK material connectors.

I hope manufacturers of flat connectors will catch onto this idea and include Velcro HOOK pads on their products.


Here is a great idea* I offer free to any manufacturer who may wish to use it.
In addition to adding a Velcro HOOK pad to flat connectors, why not also provide a micro-spotlight?

Manufacturers could design an Adapter Tip for Cellphone, Tablet, HDMI, and USB connectors with both a Velcro HOOK pad and a micro-light, and sell them for a couple dollars each.

When you plug your connector into the Adapter Tip, the micro-light will confirm that the connector is "live" (that is, the charger or PC or other device attached to the connector is on and working) . In addition, the tiny spot-light will help you locate the socket. After the Adapter Tip is connected to your device, it could be designed to extinguish the micro-light, which will confirm that it is plugged in securely. Alternatively, there could be a micro-switch to turn the light on when desired.

Of course, the best implementation of this idea would be if manufacturers included both the Velcro pad and a micro-light on all connectors for all new devices.

Ira Glickstein

*I did a Google on "lighted connector" but could only find power cords with a light feature. Furthermore, the lights appeared to be designed to indicate that the power cord was "live" and not to help the user find the socket and plug it in.

Monday, January 19, 2015

I am Charlie - Je Suis Charlie

The most recent issue of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has sold over 5,000,000 copies, amid great controversy, yet, as far as I know, an image of the cover has NOT yet been published by many major US TV news organizations! The cover image has been shown on TV by Fox News and CBS, but not yet by CNN, MSNBC, NBC, or ABC as far as I have been able to confirm.
The graphic shows the original French edition (left) and my English translation (right), with Voltaire's famous quotation superimposed.

By its own admission, Charlie Hebdo (Charlie Weekly) is a "Journal Irresponsable" ("Irresponsible Journal") and its stock in trade is satire of various religions and other deeply held beliefs. I certainly do not wish to encourage publication of such divisive material, yet, along with Voltaire, I have to defend the right of publication of such material in a free society.

What do you think?

Ira Glickstein

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Moral Foundations - "The Righteous Mind" by Jonathan Haidt

[From Billlifka, Graphics by Ira. Click HERE for previous Blog postings about Jonathan Haidt's work on moral foundations and how they differ for "liberals" and "conservatives". In his earlier work, Haidt had only five "channels of morality". Here, he has added a sixth: "Loyalty/Subversion". He seems also to have changed "Liberals" to "Progressives." NOTE: When you click, you will see this current posting on top, so please scroll down to the others. They have some sparkling back and forth discussion in the Comments sections. ENJOY! and THANKS Bill! Ira.]

Continuing their attempts to teach an old guy new tricks, a young relative gave me a book by Jonathan Haidt, “The Righteous Mind; Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion" 2012, Pantheon Books.

A few words about the author may encourage Liberals and discourage Conservatives. Such preliminary thoughts should be dispelled as Haidt’s findings are revealed. Haidt’s grandparents were Russian Jews who worked in New York’s garment district sweatshops and were drawn thereby to Socialism, FDR and the Democratic Party. Haidt attended Yale where he became a Liberal and an atheist. The Yale culture convinced him that Liberalism was absolutely ethical and the Republican Party was for war, big business, racism and Evangelical Christianity. Clearly, it was the Party of evil.

His continuing studies at the Universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania only verified this opinion. His specialty is Moral Psychology and it seems most of his associates in this field are of the Progressive and atheistic persuasions. One might ask why he has pursued a life of research and teaching on morals and be surprised that it has led him to conclusions that aren't exactly what one might expect.

His book is a long plod through research projects but the author’s writing style is appealing and he almost convinces readers of the possibility that Progressives and Conservatives could act together in a constructive manner and that atheists and religionists might coexist and even talk to each other civilly. Most of the book is devoted to the evolution of morality. Regardless of the true source of morality or differing moral views from group to group, Haidt concludes there are six foundations (categories) to all moral codes: Care/Harm, Liberty/Oppression, Fairness/Cheating, Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sanctity/Degradation.

After reading the definitions, I concluded the divisions were reasonable. The surprising thing was Haidt’s conclusion from his research into how three political beliefs (and believers) rate in each of these moral foundations. The following array illustrates the contrasting moral focuses of Progressives, Conservatives and Libertarians based on Haidt’s research:

Foundation................. Progressive Conservative Libertarian
Care/Harm................. 45% .......... 16.66% .......   5%
Liberty/Oppression..... 25% .......... 16.66% ......... 65%
Fairness/Cheating....... 15% .......... 16.66% ......... 15%
Loyalty/Betrayal.........   5% .......... 16.66% .......... 5%
Authority/Subversion...  5% ...........16.66% .......... 5%
Sanctity/Degradation....  5% .......... 16.66% .......... 5%

The differences in moral focus of the three political groups provide a good explanation for why respective group members fail to reach agreement on national policy. If 45% of Progressive thought is having concern for the downtrodden, they will propose welfare actions much more than Conservatives think is rational. Conservatives aren't heartless; one sixth of their moral code is focused on care or absence of harm to the downtrodden. However, they value other moral aspects equally and fear lesser focus on these will destroy the “Social Capital” of America. If 65% of a Libertarian’s political concern is for individual freedom, he may well appear to be a rabble-rouser to a Conservative, although both may vote as Republicans.

Some of Haidt’s research aimed at finding the extent to which Progressives, Moderates and Conservatives could empathize with members of the other groups. He found that Moderates and Conservatives could imagine themselves inside each other’s head and also within the heads of Progressives. Progressives could not do the same for either Moderates or Conservatives. Haidt didn’t include Libertarians in these particular studies but I believe they, like Progressives, would find it extremely difficult to empathize with the other groups, they’re having such a high focus on one or two moral foundations to the near exclusion of the remainder.

It shouldn't be understood that every Progressive will be 45% focused on Care/Harm nor will every
Conservative be exactly balanced across the moral range. Some Progressives have more equal balance
and some Conservatives will be somewhat unbalanced. (That’s a straight line for the loyal opposition.)

However, Haidt used an averaging of individual scores and I accept his characterization of the groups as a whole. The finding doesn't mean that Progressives are good because they are overly focused on Care/Harm nor does it mean they are bad because they have little focus on three of the six moral categories. It just means that the respective moral codes of different political groups vary and this should be considered in any attempt to attain bipartisan action on policy and process.

In theory, one can visualize how this could be done with numbers. Imagine if Progressives want to push through legislation that is very strong on category one rationale. Conservatives may well be repelled by such a proposal quantitatively, if not qualitatively. One response would be to deny all parts of the Progressive proposal. Lines would be drawn causing much talk and no results except hard feelings.

Another approach might be a compromise proposal by Conservatives to support the Progressive ideas if they accepted Conservative proposals in moral categories four, five and six, each having about one third the impact of the Progressive proposal in category one. If quantified so neatly, the math is obvious but the point is by “horse-trading” on issues not directly opposed, agreement might be reached in a spirit of accommodation.

Some lawmakers and some citizens believe compromising with the opposition is fundamentally wrong. That may be a correct point of view, at times, but such times and issues should be few and far between. If large percentages of the American population are directly opposed on a key issue, the only options are: 1. Reach an accommodation. 2. Avoid going either way. 3. Fight it out; violently, if necessary. A #2 choice may not be possible, given the situation. If #3 is an only resort, American society will have failed. Political implications of differing emphases in moral codes will be continued in future notes and essays.

Grampa Bill

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn

Stewart Denenberg would like to stay in touch on LinkedIn.
I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.
- Stewart
Confirm that you know Stewart
Stewart Denenberg
Retired Professor of Computer Science
Burlington, Vermont Area
You received an invitation to connect. LinkedIn will use your email address to make suggestions to our members in features like People You May Know. Unsubscribe
Learn why we included this.
If you need assistance or have questions, please contact LinkedIn Customer Service.
© 2014, LinkedIn Corporation. 2029 Stierlin Ct. Mountain View, CA 94043, USA

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Chanukah (and why I transliterate the Hebrew this way)

On 23 December 2014 we light the final Chanukah candles to celebrate a great victory for religious freedom that occurred some 22 centuries ago. As I wish a very Happy Chanukah to all, I beg you to indulge me for a relatively minor complaint, namely, how some people mispronounce the name of our holiday and how it is, IMHO, misspelled by the major media!

Too many people (including some in my Jewish congregation who should know better) say "Hanaka" as if it is "Canada" in disguise, with an "H" for a "C" and a "k" for a "d"!

And, if that isn't bad enough, the media and Wikipedia (and sometimes even the newsletter of my Jewish congregation) spell it with an "H" at the beginning and a double "kk" in the middle, which, if you know anything about the Hebrew spelling, makes no sense at all.

In Hebrew, the name of our holiday is written with vowel points as "חֲנֻכָּה" (or as "חנוכה" without vowel points).

As my graphic above demonstrates, the first letter "חֲ" is the Hebrew Chet, which is a back-of-the-throat guttural sound (like the "ch" in the Scottish "loch") that has no directly equivalent English letter representation. There have been efforts to represent that sound as "Kh" (which I find ugly) or "" (a dot or line under the letter "H"), but, why not stick with what, until the past decade or so, has been traditional, "Ch"? The vowel points under the letter stand for the short "ah" sound.

The second letter "נֻ" is the Hebrew Nun, which sounds like the English "n". The vowel points beneath it are sounded like the English "u" (or the "oo" in "too").

The third letter "כָּ" is the Hebrew Kaf, which sounds like the English "k". (Please note there is only ONE "כָּ", so there is no basis for the double "kk" misused by the media nowadays.)The vowel points under it are sounded like the English long "aw" in the traditional Ashkenazim pronunciation my wife and I learned as children, or "ah" in the Sephardi pronunciation that was adopted by the time our daughters went to Hebrew school.

The final letter "ה" is the Hebrew Hey, which sounds like the English "h".

Put them all together and you get Chanukah!

This past Sunday our Jewish congregation hosted a ceremonial lighting of the large Chanukah Menorah in the Spanish Springs Town Square in The Villages, FL. Despite some scattered showers, we had a huge turnout and a good time was had by all. The Chanukah spelling conflict is nicely illustrated in the songbook we prepared for the occasion, where "Chanukah" appears some 27 times, and the "kk" version appears only 10 times!

Ira Glickstein

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Squat Toilet ("Squatty Potty" on "Shark Tank")

Want to "POOP BETTER"? The squat position helps me get GOing more easily and finish more completely. A recent episode of Shark Tank (ABC TV) featured a squat toilet product you may purchase at the Squatty Potty website - or you may use my alternative solution inspired by that product (see images below).
I got the black folding step-stool at my local Walmart. It is about 12 inches high. They have smaller ones available in different colors. Images above: 1) Folding step-stool in position. 2) Folded and tucked away, only two inches thick. 3) Unfold the stool. 4) Stool in position with one leg lifted, 5) Both legs up and ready to GO (of course, remember to pull your pants down :^).

The images below, from the official Squatty Potty website, illustrate why a squat toilet works so well.
Your dog and all humans -until relatively recently- naturally squat to fully relax their puborectalis muscles and thereby POOP BETTER. It is amazing to me that the modern toilet allows only partial relaxation of the muscle that prevents you from pooping freely. Despite my positive experiences with the squat position while pooping in the woods, and with squat toilets in Egypt and on other foreign travels, I never thought to try to approximate that position at home. Now that I've adopted the squat position, I cannot GO back :^)


Ira Glickstein