Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Good New Year's Resolution

The following poem would be a good one for a new year's resolution.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The NSA…men who found the needle…and the haystack

“Most people look for the needle in the haystack. The NSA takes the whole haystack home.”

Terre Haute – Indiana Not too many months ago I read a major newspaper’s article about “the most powerful man you have never heard of.” General Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency, more commonly known as the NSA, had a large clandestine program. They had told the public they did not do large collections of metadata. But we have since found out that that was the “least untruthful answer” possible. It was a very kind way of saying they had lied.
But earlier this year, in one of the biggest stories of the decade, Edward Snowden, security contractor, hacked some fire walls, did some things we are still not sure of, stole a still unspecified amount of documents, possibly 1.7 million according to some, and told the world that the American government was tracking millions of calls daily, keeping tabs on allies, bugging headquarters of European Nations, and even bugging the phone of the head of Germany. It reminds one of the Cold War.
The official story is that this is to protect the nation against acts of terrorism. According to the Washington Post, one of the first to report the story, we still do not know of a single time when terrorism was actually stopped or stalled because of it. It was also declared, under the official story, to be constitutional.
A judge in Washington DC recently declared it “almost certainly unconstitutional” while another just yesterday declared it to not fall without of the realm of “unreasonable,” and thus to be indeed constitutional.
The one who said it was constitutional was a George Bush appointee, the one who said it was not was a Bill Clinton appointee.
Although the president is in Hawaii, during the holidays he is reading a 304 page report with almost fifty resolutions for an overhaul, by a committee of five. In an opinion piece one of them said
“Several news outlets have reported that the review group had called for an end to the program, but we did not do that. We called for a change in approach rather than a wholesale rejection… But make no mistake: The review group reaffirmed that the program should remain a tool of our government in the fight against terrorism…It has the potential to prevent the next 9/11.”
When the president comes back to Washington the debate will begin about the overhaul. The only thing we know for sure will happen is that the president will be nice to the press when he talks about it, and that, he said, is one of his New Year resolutions.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Collage of Quotes

All taken from memory…. “Quotes taken from memory are a wonderful thing, they allow you to add your own words to someone else’s to make your point better, and then leave someone else with all the blame, and yourself all the credit.” –Sir Walter Scott.

“If Moses had thought of it, Moses would have said it!” Peppermint Patty, Peanuts comic strip.

“Quotes are the raisins we season our oatmeal with.” -Gerry Spence.

“Great men are forged in fire. It is for lesser men to light the flame.” –British script writer Steven Moffit.

“I have never made a mistake while working, I have only discovered 50,000 things that do not work.” -Attributed in various forms to Thomas Edison.

“If it happened, I would never know.” –American worker, when asked if he was afraid of the high level explosives he was working on for the Manhattan (A-bomb) Project.

“Everybody’s got a plan, until they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson.

“Strategy without tactics is a slow course to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” –Sun Tzu: Art of War.

“If the Federal Government was put in charge of the Sahara Desert, within five years there would be a shortage of sand there.” –Milton Friedman, Economist.

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why what he predicted yesterday did not happen today.” –Lawrence J. Peters.

"The shrewdest observer of human nature ever, invented the eraser." Peppermint Patty.

Nathan Bedford Forrest, when asked what his strategy was during the Civil War replied “Get there the fastest with the mostest.”

“Don’t duck men, they couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist…” last words of an officer before being shot during I believe the Civil War.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Spirit of Christmas: Part 1

Terre Haute, Indiana – There have been times, in the history of the world, when the clouds of prejudice, hatred, unkindness, and selfishness fade away for a moment, and the truth of enlightenment pushes away the mists. Some of those have been in forming unity, such as when the European Union was formed.

Others have been in law and government, such as when the constitution was written, and America was formed with its system of checks and balances. There are great moments in human history, such as the discovery of gravity, the first climbing of Everest, the invention of the computer, the Rise of Rome, the writing of great books.
But the greatest event in human history, after its completion, the one so important that we form the way we measure time and years of everyone else relative to it, was the life of Jesus Christ.
He was born during the reign of Rome’s first emperor, when memories of civil war were fresh in everyone's minds, and unrest from the zealots over the census was beginning.

Christ's birth disproved many statements by apostates and others throughout the world. He did not come as a warrior, as some thought, but as a child. He did not come as a king, but was born in a child. He disproved men like Hitler, a man filled with more hate than nearly anyone else in history. God did not hate the Jews. His Son was a Jew.

Many who claim to be his followers would not have recognized the Christ they claim to worship. A man who ate with both the rich and the poor, sat with the intellectuals and the fishermen, was popular with many, and hated by many. He came not to condemn the world, for it was condemned already. He came to save it.

He exhibited the spirit of Christmas.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Washinton Irving

Below is the ling to Washington Irving's Christmas tale. One even better than some of Dicken's stories. And this one is true.

Old Christmas: A tale of happieness

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Top of the Mountian

Chicago, Illinois – A friend of mine once, told me of a mountain he had climbed which had taken him many hours. He stated that, while climbing, he many times thought that he saw the top, but when he got there, he found what looked to be the summit was still ahead, and when he got there, there was another up above him.

I myself have experienced this. In fact, I have even encouraged others who were about to give out and stop that “the summit is right up there,” we found that we still had a third of the mountain to go when we got there.
In 1894, at the opening of the laboratory of the University of Chicago, the new director stated that all the important discoveries of science had already been made and that in the future, we would just be perfecting theories out “to the sixth decimal place.” The problem for that statement was that Albert Einstein was only just growing up, but in a few years he would come out with Relativity. This theory only bent space and time, overthrew, with proof and evidence, nearly six thousand years of scientific thought, and shook up entire branches of science.
Besides that he also reformed our idea of energy, and gave us e=mc2.
So it often is in science, man thinks that they now know everything there is to know. The ancients postulated the Sun was about a foot wide. That was taught as fact. Then we were told the earth was flat and everything revolved around us. At another time it was stated that no rational person would ever state that there were other galaxies. Now every fourth grader knows that.
It was once stated different objects fall at different speeds, and this held up for a thousand years, until somebody bothered to drop something and find out-the idea was wrong.
Now, it is accepted in science that the universe began with a big bang. The textbooks, the scientists, the History Channel all proclaim it. It must be true.
While currently the great majority of scientists believe in the big bang, that does not make it true. Not even the fact there is a book called The End of Science, proclaiming that the current ideas of our modern world will never be changed, just worked out to the sixth decimal point, can alter the fact that in the end, science will move on.
And when science does move on, we will come a little closer to doing what Johannes Kepler, the astronomer, said science was all about. “Thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

Andrew C. Abbott

Friday, December 13, 2013

People v. President, Ukraine

The nation was once a Soviet Satellite, its grain fields being fought over during the Second World War by Russia and Germany. Although it is now free of Russia, the rich and powerful oligarchs still find it better for their pockets to remain in close economic ties with them, rather than with the European Union, which is what the people want. The president, Viktor Yanukovych, did not sign a recent deal bringing the nation in closer alignment with the EU, and the people have begun protesting.
Kiev, the capitol city, has become the focal point of the unrest. The square where the demonstrations are being held is named Independence Square. They seem to have chosen well.
But there is a history with men who wish to hold on to power. It is a history of anxiety attacks about free speech. Whether the president has such an attack is unclear, but someone did. Thousands of riot police stormed the square and knocked down the barricades.
But the police did not have as much resolution as the people, and the barricades are back, according to the British newspaper the Guardian, they are now twice as high as they were before the attack. The people retain control of city hall, and apparently the center of the city. Organizers are claiming that as many as 50,000 are on their way to join them.
The opposition is demanding the president sack the prime minister. One of their three leaders is a former heavy-weight boxing champion. Meetings between him and his compatriots with the president have brought nothing. Now, in Independence square a tent city has sprung up, as the people wait for justice. The city statue of Lenin has been torn down.
The president has promised the end of violence, but some are not so sure.
The government is now planning to hold their own weekend rallies, sending people in by train. There is an established law of physics, known as the Pauli Exclusion Principle. It states that no two pieces of matter can be at the same place at the same time. It is the same with massive groups of politically high-strung people. In Ukraine, it will be a very interesting weekend.
In Kiev it is after all Christmastime, and what a very merry Christmas it is turning out to be.
Andrew C. Abbott

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Man of the Year

He was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, but few people know that name. He was elected head of the world’s largest Christian denomination. This church’s membership is around a sixth of the population of planet earth. At 1.2 billion, according to Wikipedia. He spoke, not long ago, to a crowd which, according to one report, topped three million. But he sometimes sneaks out at night to visit the poor. He has been named Time magazine’s person of the year, but he could not at first be convinced to move into his suites because he was enjoying holding daily devotions with the hotel staff.

He is best known as Pope Francis I.
In the fifteen hundreds, Martin Luther nailed, on Halloween, to the door of the church at Wittenberg, his ninety-five thesis. At that time he had to go into hiding for his descent of the church. He could have been burned at the stake, as the theologians Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were, nearly thirty later, simply for disagreeing.
Things have changed since then within the Catholic Church. They now have their first South American pope ever. And the first that was not from Europe since the before the Normans invaded England. You are absolved from some of the years of purgatory simply by following His Holiness on twitter these days. Even atheists, it appears, are now assured a place in heaven.
The “Papal See” continues to reflect the movements of thought and change in popular opinion. The early church father’s would have been mortified. They refused to change their minds for even the emperor. But without force, the people have slowly brought about change since the purging and killings. But the Catholic Church, in the words of one “has moved on.”

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, December 2, 2013

To Outer Space

Calvert City, Kentucky – Yesterday, China, once a nation which seemed frozen in time, sent Chang’e-3 lunar lander and Yutu rover to the moon. It will be the first unmanned landing on the moon in nearly forty years.

On their way to Mars right now are two unmanned ships, one from America, another from India. A study has begun to make a sort of PayPal for the universe, a galactic form of payment, usable on all planets. Recently I saw for the first time a commercial for private space-travel, the company even has a catchphrase, “Let us help you make your dreams come true.”
All those years ago, when Galileo pointed a ship’s spyglass at the stars, it is impossible to believe he ever thought it would become this. A spaceport America is already being built, possibly to be done by next year, to send man beyond the atmosphere.
Built for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, it is costing nearly 300,000,000. Not too long ago, as measured by the grand scope of human history, mankind still thought the earth was the center of the solar system, it was only after they understood that they did not understand, that they could begin to explore.
Of course, the time lines could be off, and it might still be another decade before Spaceport America becomes functional. Things could happen, there could be complications. Yet it appears that man could soon begin to explore the planets near him. An unmanned craft has already left the solar system. Things are being prepared to move on mars. Man is finally realizing a dream Adam must have had. To walk among the stars.
Andrew C. Abbott