2013 BLOGS

(Blogs from 2007 - 2012 can be accessed under Stuff 2 Read
Click here for the latest blog

Dec. 31, 2013 - Happy New Year!
Oct. 31, 2013 - Halloween
Oct. 30, 2013 - Lonegan for Governor
Aug. 19, 2013 - Postscript to the postscript of my May 9 blog
Aug. 19, 2013 - NJ DMV and Boats Don't mix!
Aug. 19, 2013 - Who was Richard Somers?
May 10, 2013 - Postscript to last blog
May 9, 2013 - Taxed Enough Already!
Apr. 12, 2013 - Modern Advertising
Apr. 7, 2013 - 50 Years - The Thresher Tragedy
Apr. 4, 2013 - School Math
Mar. 28, 2013 - Too Much Time
Feb. 12, 2013 - The New Media
Jan. 22, 2013 - Roe v. Wade, 40 Years
Jan. 19, 2013 - Hacker Victim - Almost!

January 19, 2013

The internet is a wonderful invention (thank you Al Gore?) but it can give you headaches and sleepless nights (probably George W. Bush's fault?).

I spent close to two hours on the phone yesterday trying to resolve a problem with my eBay account. Some clever dude hacked into my account and offered an $8,000-dollar wristwatch without me knowing it. Apparently someone figured the watch was worth the money and sent payment via PayPal. Unfortunately for both of us, the money disappeared and the watch was never delivered. The hacker even gave the buyer positive feedback using my account and eBay ID!

Neither I nor techies at eBay could figure out how this was accomplished. The buyer complained to eBay that I had gotten his money but never delivered. My eBay account records stated emphatically that there had been no activity whatsoever during the past several months. My PayPal account was also empty - not a cent, let alone eight grand! Still, eBay automatically charged me a seller fee of $206 for the watch sale and the buyer wanted either the watch or his $8,000 back!

In my first call to eBay Support, a rep found one lonely reference to the exclusive and elusive watch in my account. It was in my "Deleted" folder. I immediately changed my password and sometime before daybreak, eBay cleared me of all guilt and reinstated my good standing. It was obvious that an unauthorized person had illegally accessed my account.

Now supposing I had sold a car, boat or several other items during the time period in question. I might not have noticed the $206 fee and it would have been paid automatically. Unfortunately, eBay doesn't itemize fees and if I had not noticed and contested it, that could have been viewed as an admission that I sold the item. The man I talked to said that a second PayPal account had apparently been attached to my account for the payment. Doing business on the internet can be scary!

January 22, 2013 - Roe v. Wade, 40 Years

Time magazine's cover story for the January 14, 2013, issue claims, "40 Years Ago, Abortion-Rights Activists Won an Epic Victory with Roe v. Wade; They've Been Losing Ever Since."

Pro-life activists have succeeded in forcing the closures of hundreds of abortion clinics. They protested and picketed clinics; they offered counseling and literature to women who came to the clinics for abortions, and they publicized the ugly side of abortions. More recently, closures have been linked to lawsuits. Many women who get legal abortions are injured or are not treated properly. Knowledgeable lawyers have successfully sued doctors and clinics in such cases. Abortion may be legal, but malpractice is not!

In spite of these successes, I contend that the abortion industry is still alive and well. It is true that many abortion clinics have been closed, but the number of babies murdered has hardly decreased.

The pro-choice people have become more adept at keeping abortions and related health records secret. The number of legal abortions in the US is reported by the abortionists themselves to the Center for Disease Control and the Guttmacher Institute. There seems to be good reason to suspect the accuracy of such numbers. California, one of the most liberal and populous States, does not provide statistics, other States as well.

Have abortion rights activists really been losing the battle to kill babies? Consider the following facts and decide for yourself!

Roe v. Wade - Abortion legalized (1973)
Abortion commercialized (stem cells, transplants, medical experiments etc.)
Abortion subsidized by taxpayers
Abortion mandated by Obama Care
Christian business owners mandated to offer abortions to employees against their beliefs
Coming very soon: religious organizations will be forced to offer abortions to employees
It will soon become unlawful to speak out against abortion

After the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut, Obama issued executive gun control actions to protect the "most vulnerable" (children) in what is supposed to be the "safest place" (schools).

The most dangerous place in America is in a mother's womb. Since Roe v. Wade, 55 million of the really most vulnerable - defenseless and innocent babies - have been brutally slaughtered. The perpetrators are protected by law and championed by Obama and liberal Democrats.

February 13, 2013


September 24, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle covered an anti-war protest. One photo of a girl participating in the rally was used for the front page article. She carried a poster that read, "People of Color say 'No to War!'"

Someone else also took photos of the rally including one of the girl pictured. But his pictures showed more of the surroundings that the SF Chronicle didn't want readers to see. The protest contingent in which the teenage girl participated also wore bandannas and carried Palestinian flags and obscene placards. Another photo showed the girls being stage-managed by a woman wearing a T-shirt with the flag of Communist Vietnam. She was a member of one of several Communist groups that organized the rally.

That was eight years ago. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor the photograph. It simply cropped out what readers were not supposed to see, but when the whole truth became known, there was public uproar.

With modern digital photography and PhotoShop, pictures can be doctored to say whatever the media wants, and no one seems to care. As we all know, "a picture is worth a thousand words," even a misrepresentation.

England was angry at Rupert Murdoch in 2011 because employees at one of his many newspapers hacked into people's private emails to get scoops, making their findings public.

Unlike Murdoch's papers, the American media seldom goes out to find scoops. Journalists sit in air-conditioned offices and scan Facebook or check with the police. Or they get their scoops straight from some liberal politician. In the doggie world we call that a "pooper scooper."

We have hundreds of TV programs to chose from today but few are worth watching. Most networks promote immorality and unethical conduct. Profanity is common and viewers are fed a steady diet of sexual perversion, violence and erratic behavior.

After the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, the liberal media went all out in support of a largely Democratic campaign to ban guns. That is of course an impossibility at this time, but steps are being taken to accomplish this in stages.

A few timid voices were raised suggesting that violence in television might play a role in such tragedies. Nearly all major networks responded in chorus: "There is no evidence that the media has any influence on such behavior."

I wonder why companies spent $3-4 million for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl if television has little or no influence on the viewers.

Rupert Murdoch should be lauded. He at least apologized.

March 28, 2013

Too Much Time!

Several friends have asked what happened to my blog. My last post was February 13. The answer is "too much time"!

I have spent too much time coughing for one. This is the seventh week already and it's not much better. But as my mother used to say, "It's not the cough that carries you off; it's the coffin they carry you off in."

One of our church's missionaries was returning to America for a year and needed a car. Because I've spent a lot of time messing with cars and even more time in missions, I was asked to look for a good car for not much money. Since I am retired, it seemed like I was the right person for the task. Retirees have too much time and not enough to do.

I spent too much time running down false leads (there are a lot of crooks and cheats in the used car business), but I finally found just what I was looking for. The car was built 17 years ago, and that's a long time, but it was not driven much, never smoked in, ran and looked great. It was always garaged and well cared for by the original owner. This '96 Buick Regal also had the economical and tough 3.8-liter V6 engine.

The former owner hit his lawnmower when parking and broke the parking light and grill, both made of plastic of course! The grill had been purchased and shipped and I only needed to install it. I found several new parking lights on eBay, ranging in price from $14 to $29. Only the cheap one included free shipping, so I bought it. Two days later, I received a package with two new parking lights!

Right after finalizing the purchase, the ABS warning light came on. The ABS and the Check Engine lights are the most ignored parts of a car. If you take your car to a mechanic every time one of these lights stays on, you will load up all your credit cards, but the light will come back on, guaranteed! The brakes worked fine, there was sufficient brake fluid, and the pads were good, so I disconnected the battery for a while to reset the computer. When our missionary got his car, it wouldn't start! I knew immediately what was wrong. I had not tightened the ground cable on the battery! One good turn with the wrench did the job. That didn't take too much time.

It was windy when I went to install the parking light. Large sheets of automotive paint, one piece the size of a basketball had blown off the trunk lid, leaving the gray underground exposed! An internet search revealed that the '96 Revel had been recalled due to defective paint. Because the car had always been kept in a garage, there were no problems, but 17 years was too much time to take advantage of the recall! Alternating hot and cold weather plus strong winds triggered the strip tease. I got the trunk lid repainted and warned the missionary.

I was born on March 8, 1938. It must have been a difficult birth because my mother was in the hospital for nine days! The bill came to twenty-eight Dollars and fifty cents. We got married March 9, 1963 and spent one night in Niagara Falls, Canada. The motel bill was four Dollars. Seventy-five years is too much time and fifty years of marriage is not enough, but we decided to celebrate both. I won't tell you how much three nights in a Lancaster bed & breakfast cost!

Most readers know that I created a website about Professor Marvin Creamer's famous circumnavigation without instruments. Creamer is the only person in history who can make that claim. Of course people sailed the oceans long before navigational tools were invented, but it is doubtful that anyone including Noah circled the entire globe.

We organized a 25-year celebration of Creamer's voyage in 2009, and Rowan University organized the 30-year celebration, which was held March 23. It would take me too much time to tell you everything, so you can read about it on the website but at 97 years of age, Marvin Creamer kept the crowd spellbound for an hour, telling of his voyage in great detail. He had no teleprompter and used no notes! And nobody thought he took too much time!

April 4, 2013

School Math

In 1900 only half of American children went to school. By 1950, the average student spent 9 years in public schools and by 1980, it was 12.5 years. In 2010, roughly 59 million students were enrolled in US schools K-12. About 90% or 49.2 million attended public schools, while 5.2 million attended private schools, 1.9 million went to charter schools and 1.5 million were home schooled.

Without consideration of cost and quality, I would venture to say that American kids have never gotten so much schooling as they get today. This is perhaps also true of higher education, but I didn't research that.

I want to write a few lines about what the kids in public schools are learning that I pay for and that affect my life. It seems to me that the curriculum is divided into three major parts, and it isn't "readin, riten n' rithmatik" (educated school kids would spell that differently today. They do texting).

In addition to the three "R"s, students used to get a generous portion of common sense. Now kids get "sensitivity training." They learn to detect bullying, prejudice and hate crimes in others and rat on them. We called that "tattle-tailing" in my day.

The three parts of the modern public school curriculum are Diversity, Ecology and Sex. Kids learn, for instance, that everything is equal in diversity. And if you scold them for tossing their candy wrapper on the ground, they will explain that the wrapper is manufactured according to ecological standards and will decay and make good compost. If you ask them to turn out the light when they leave the room, they begin a dialog about the need for constructing off-shore windmills. They know all about sex, but don't discuss that topic with us old folk because we are bigoted and wouldn't understand anyway.

The object of modern schooling is obviously to divide Americans into two classes, "the privileged" and "the entitled."

We worked with young people all our lives and even though our own grandchildren are thousands of miles from us, we are still around kids a lot more than most people our age. We try to communicate and connect with them and find that they are no different from kids we went to school with. They are just taught differently. And like all kids, they are eager learners.

They have learned, for example, that we are the privileged and they are the entitled. They never ask why we don't have an i-phone, i-pod or i-pad. They just assume that we are too old-fashioned for modern electronics.

My wife and I have to somehow make ends meet, live within our means, cut corners, pinch pennies and moonlight to pay bills. We are trying to live on Social Security. They have learned nothing about such things. That is not part of the entitlement curriculum.

April 7, 2013

Fifty Years ago was the SS Thresher Disaster.

On Wednesday, it will be 50 years since the Atomic Submarine Thresher disaster, which claimed 133 lives. The complete list of the dead, including 16 officers, 96 enlisted men and 21 civilians, can be found on the Arlington Cemetery website:

The Captain of the Thresher was Lt. Commander John W. Harvey, who took command of the ill-fated Thresher on January 18, 1963. Although we share the same family name, I doubt if I am related, but I happen to have a brother named John W. Harvey. That is just a coincidence of course, but there is more to the story. In the same issue of the Bridgeton Evening News that reported on the Thresher tragedy, there was a small article that involved my brother John.

John was washing his Volkswagen Beetle at the lake, something that would be forbidden today. He neglected to engage the hand brake and his car rolled into the lake. John had to go find someone to pull his car out, and when he returned, the police had ticketed him for failing to report an accident! It is seldom that a small-town newspaper reports on two vehicles sinking in the same issue. That the "captains" were both named John W. Harvey is even rarer!

There was another bit of trivia in connection with the Thresher incident of local interest.

A sailor named John W. Shakelton III was reported among the deceased sailors. His mother, Ruth L Shakelton, lived at 18 Walnut Street, Bridgeton, NJ. She received an express letter of condolences from the US Navy. The letter thanked the next of kin for the supreme sacrifice that John W. Shakelton III had made for his country. John had served in the Navy 16 years (since 1947).

But John W. Shakelton III was alive and well. His wife had just given birth to their first child on April 8th, and John was granted a leave of absence five hours prior to the Thresher's departure. Due to a clerical error, Shakelton's name was still on the crew list.

When Mrs. Shakelton recieved the death notice, a member of the family quickly telephoned the presumed widow at the Portsmouth Naval base in Kittery, Maine and learned that John was alive and well.

I did some research of my own and found that John W. Shakelton III was born October 6, 1930 and died September 4, 1966, three years after the Thresher tragedy. He was only 35. Their son Charles was born two days before the Thresher tragedy. He later married and had two children, but like his father, Charles also died young. He passed away in 1997 at 34 years of age.

April 14, 2013

Modern Advertising

I have always been an avid reader and still subscribe to a daily paper and a couple of magazines. Most publications contain advertising but they could hardly exist without subscriptions and sales.

I used to buy newspapers just for the ads and comics, but both have changed so much that I now largely ignore them.

We don't watch much TV, but television advertising is not much different. Some people have electronic ad killers like the TIVO. We just have a mute button. You need good eyesight to find it on our new Comcast remote, but we have used it so often that we can now mute with our eyes closed. There are times that our eyes stay closed until the program is long over.

Advertisers used to assume that buyers were intelligent, sensible thinkers and the ads were formulated accordingly. People got the information they needed and wanted in order to make an intelligent decision. Today most advertisers assume that buyers are naive, gullible and downright stupid.

Apparently, most of them are.

Businesses seldom give the price of anything anymore. They just tell you that it's on sale, or 60% off, or it's what you always dreamed of owning. You pay nothing down, no interest, and there are no monthly installments for three years. One TV commercial trying to sell after-school help to students has been telling us for years that "Meghan is still failing in school" - in spite of her mother trying everything, apparently including the after school tutoring they advertise. Dumb kids have dumb Moms that watch dumb commercials.

There is also advertising on the internet. When watching a news video, you first have to watch an ad. Sometimes the ad pops up in the middle of whatever you are watching or reading. That intrusive interruption irritates me and I resolve to never purchase the product. Sometimes I even vow to never open that website again. But apparently, irritating people is a good sales tactic.

I think I am beginning to understand how our politicians got elected.

May 9, 2013

Taxed Enough Already!

This blog is my safety valve when I get upset about something. It is better than throwing my hammer at the wall or picking on people around me. Things have been going fairly well recently because my last blog entry is three weeks old.

Today was different.

We got our new property assessment on March 28 and the 45-day window to appeal runs out Monday. I admit to putting this off until the last minute, but there was reason for it. I have been researching, taking pictures and asking others for advice. Some say we need a lawyer, but others say it's not necessary. You can never get an intelligent answer from a public official on any level; their job is apparently confusing, frustrating and angering tax-payers. Answering questions is not in their interest.

I am still uncertain about the procedure and an appeal won't be cheap, but I decided to bite the bullet. If our property taxes are raised any more, we will have to move out of the state. With high property taxes, however, our house will be difficult to sell. We have never had any problem with the septic system, but the government routinely forces sellers to have a new one installed. And if it doesn't sell, it will join a dozen other deserted houses within a hundred yards of our doorstep. I feel like crying every time I walk by them. Once nice homes with happy families inside, they now sit empty, desolate and rapidly deteriorating. When we bought our house ten years ago, the economy was good, but now we just have "hope and change."

Property taxes on our small 3-bedroom, single bath rancher came to $2,400 in 2003, but last year our tax was $4,112 -- three months of Social Security. And we are also making mortgage payments. In spite of all the foreclosures and a stagnant real estate market, our property assessment went from $92,300 to $146,500, a 50% increase!

I don't normally include photos in my blog, but am making an exception. The county tax office gave me appeal papers today with several pages of instructions. I was told to check for home sales in our neighborhood in the year 2012. My Firefox browser warned me not to open the site (see second photo). I disregarded the warning and tried to open it anyway, but got a second warning message (photo #3).

To read the entire article, click here.

Since I was biting the bullet, I insisted on opening the site anyway. The link led to the Monmouth County, NJ website. I only have until Monday and offices are closed over the weekend, so if I can't solve this puzzle tomorrow, I must concede defeat.

POSTSCRIPT, May 10, 2013:
Yesterday, for the first time, I discovered that websites beginning with WWW. and HTTPS:// do NOT always lead to the same website! If you type into the browser and then you get different sites. I just can't figure out why a government agency would want to confuse users!

For all who had a sleepless night worrying about our tax woes (I am joking of course), let me assure you that the tide has changed -- I hope. I told you yesterday that we still had hope and change.

This morning, we drove to our Township Tax Collector to ask some questions. He was friendly and assured us that our property taxes would NOT go up in relation to the home assessment. He had no exact numbers, but said it would increase only about $200 a year. By canceling our newspaper subscription, we can handle that.

One friend who read yesterday's blog proved to be a true friend by springing into action. He made several phone calls including one with a fifteen minute wait until nine callers before him had signed off. He wrote emails and checked websites looking for help. He even drove to the tax office this morning to pick up the 2012 Form PTR-1, delivering it personally to our door!

We studied our options and decided that it would make no sense to appeal our home assessment. That would involve a $25 fee and trip to Trenton (another $25 for gas). It is doubtful that the assessed value would change because several homes in our neighborhood recently sold for about that amount.

All three of us agreed that it just wasn't fair that most senior citizens can get a tax freeze on their property, but we can't because we have been foreign missionaries. Our friend suggested calling the NJ Tax Reimbursement Office again and ask to speak to a Supervisor. We called the 800 number, and after listening to their music for 20 minutes, a friendly gentleman took our call. He listened to our story and checked with his superior. The office assured us that we could legally declare that our official residence was in New Jersey prior to December 31, 2001. We both have had NJ drivers licenses for over 50 years and the required American address in our passports was my parent's address in New Jersey. We made frequent trips to America and always considered New Jersey our home.

We were denied a property tax freeze for ten years because we didn't qualify. Now we suddenly qualify after all, but our taxes will freeze at $4,112 rather than $2,400 that we paid in 2003. We are still happy campers -- but fortunately not in a tent!

August 19, 2013
I haven't written a blog for over three months, but today I am posting three! That breaks two records!

I should explain the long pause. We were married 50 years on March 9, but didn't celebrate because our grandkids had school. In July, all three of our children, two spouses and seven grandchildren came from Pennsylvania, California and Austria to help us celebrate. My siblings decided that this would also be a good time and excuse to have a family reunion. We have been VERY busy and that made us VERY tired.

The first blog entry in over three months is a follow-up of the follow-up of my May 9th blog entry (all clear?).

Property Tax, August 19, 2013

We haven't received confirmation about the promised property tax freeze and we won't hold our breath until we do. We did, however, get a rebate check from the 2012 taxes we paid. The following photos tell the rest of the story.

We decided to put the $7.38 towards our next quarterly payment of over $1,000. It definitely cost the Property Tax Reimbursement Program more than that amount for labor, health and retirement costs, building upkeep, air conditioning (it was hot on July 15), postage, paper, archiving and other costs.

NJ DMV and Boats don't mix!, August 19, 2013

I belong to a number of sailing forums and check in periodically to read postings of interest. This one caught my eye because I am from New Jersey and have repeatedly complained about our incompetent government officials and the waste of tax-payer money.

I thought that small boat sailors might enjoy this exchange on the Yahoo Sunfish Forum -- unless they live in New Jersey.

(Yahoo Sunfish Forum; names deleted and a few typos corrected).

Original post from someone in New Jersey:

I just spent 2 hours at the DMV trying to title and register My new Sunfish. They placed two calls to the state who said that It does not need to be titled or registered, yet I have seen several at the reservoir registered. I have all my paper work in order for both registration and title. I am going to be really ticked if a ranger at the reservoir tells me I have to register it and I get stuck with a late fee at DMV or a ticket.

I wish I could get away with that one. The NJ State Marine Police do not agree.

The only thing to do is try to sail it around unregistered and hope you don't run into a jerk water cop. Most are decent guys.

If operating for less than 180 consecutive days (and in NJ, I'm sure you are) it appears by the link John provided that your boat must be titled, but is exempt from registration. They certainly make it confusing, though.

Go to sunfish class site and ask the secretary; she lives in NJ. Or call Brant Beach Yacht Club; they might be able to answer.

Response from original poster:
Next week I will go to another agency where they deal with more boats and see what happens. The agent told me to keep my bill of sale with me when I use the boat. I guess I should keep the receipt with me when I ride my bicycle and maybe the receipt from Lowes when I use my new wheel barrow in the yard in case I get pulled over raking leaves.

I just emailed the NJ State Police Marine Division they have an "ask a question tab" on their site. If they respond and say I don't have to register my boat I will print the reply, laminate it, and carry it with me in the boat.

Let us know their response. Ten to one they just refer you back to the confusing link you've already seen.

I believe the cut off in NJ is 12 ft, perhaps the folks at the DMV thought the sunfish was a bit smaller.

I guess they don't know how to read their own paper work because the length is clearly marked, I can hardly wait to try and register my canoe! Or I could take it to Pennsylvania every 179 days lol. Its sad when you know more about the laws than the people who are paid to run the DMV with your tax dollars.

I've had my sunfish registered for years in NJ. I went to the office in Washington, Warren County and had no problems. Remember, this is NJ, if there's a way to extract $$ from us, they will.

I am thinking of telling them that I put a trolling motor on it when there is no wind. I know I am going to get hassled by the rangers if it's not registered. I have been boarded several times in my Dad's bass boat to have my fishing license checked.

UPDATE from original post:
I received a return E-Mail from a State Trooper in the Marine Division. Here is the rule: All power vessels and any vessel longer than 12' must be registered by the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission. He apologized for any inconvenience and thanked me for my inquiry. I am going to print the E-Mail and take it with me tomorrow and register my Fish before it times out and I get a late fee!

Very prudent to comply with the authorities on these matters. This was me and the USCG last summer on Biscayne bay (true story):

Coast Guard (through a bullhorn, on one of their weird pontoon boats with 3-300hp Mercs after racing at me from 2 miles away): "Ahoy captain...captain... you cannot sail your vessel within the limits of the buoy"
Me: "Me?"
CG: "Yes you, captain"
Me: "The buoy reads 'No Motor Boats' and I, sir, am not, (ahem,) commanding a motor boat"
CG: "Captain, you cannot sail your vessel within the limits of the buoy - do I make myself clear?"
Me: "Really!? - no one for the last 18 years of sailing a Sunfish has either referred to me as captain nor objected to a beach launch from Hobie Beach which, I daresay, is specifically designated for launching sailboats. And sir, my boat is small enough that it need not be registered as a vessel in Florida. You might think of it as a beach toy."
CG: "Captain - this is your last warning - we will intervene."
Me: [tacked my sunfish to be on a course outside the limits of the buoy]
CG: [left the scene]
Me: [muttered curse words under my breath about how my tax dollars were being spent.]

I don't know what "intervening" means, but I'm sure it would have involved me face down in the sand and zip ties on my wrists followed by a lecture at my arraignment by a judge on the importance of the rule of maritime law... and probably a stiff fine.

August 14, from the original poster:
Finally Victory ! I went back today with my freshly printed E-mail from the State Police Marine Division with a phone number on it to call, they just could not fathom this transaction but after a conference call and a group huddle they produced my shiny new title, annual registration sticker, and Issued me a registration number. I next have to get a bill of sale for my canoe and repeat this exercise. It should be easier for the canoe because I have a small outboard for that.

The following article appeared yesterday on the website, where you can find a wealth of other interesting information.

Who was Richard Somers?, August 19, 2013:

This Labor Day Monday, September 2, you may be one of thousands of visitors who will pass through Somers Point on the way home from the Boardwalk and beaches of Ocean City, New Jersey. If so, take a look at the 300 year old house on the hill to your right as you get off the bridge. And think about Richard Somers, the grandson of the man who built that house.

I invite you to join me and dozens of local residents at 1:30 P.M. that day when we gather again by that old house to hear the remarkable story of America's first war against Jihad that brought Somers and 12 other young Americans to their deaths in Tripoli on September 4, 1804.

Few high school or college textbooks today even mention that war today. In the 1960's, I was taught this basic story:

In 1801, President Thomas Jefferson sent the American fleet to the "Barbary Coast" of North Africa to fight pirates who were attacking American ships, stealing their cargoes, and holding their crews for ransom. Three years later, Richard Somers and his crew were killed when their explosive packed ship Intrepid detonated prematurely while on a daring mission to destroy the last remaining pirate ships in Tripoli".

But over the years, I learned these important new details at the September ceremonies in Somers Point.

While a handful of inexperienced young Americans fought and died alone 5,000 miles away from home, the most powerful sea powers of Europe paid "tribute" or bribes to make peace with these "pirates".

The Barbary "Pirates" were recognized and protected by the Europeans as "corsairs" or "privateers" who were licensed and employed by Muslim governments that had legally declared "holy war" or "Jihad" against America.

In 1785, the Europeans set up a meeting in London between American ambassadors John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and the ambassador for Tripoli, so that we could also pay tribute and make peace.

At this meeting, the Tripoli ambassador gave this response when Adams and Jefferson asked why his country was attacking us:

"It is written in our Koran, that all nations which have not acknowledged the Prophet are sinners. It is the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave them. Every Muslim who is killed in this warfare is sure to go to paradise".

This is why Thomas Jefferson immediately bought an English translation of the Koran for his library.

After the meeting, both Jefferson and Adams strongly urged Congress to build a navy and go to war. They said paying bribes would only make these Muslim kingdoms stronger and more dangerous.

But in 1785, America had no Constitution, and the 13 separate states were unwilling to pay for a navy. For the next 15 years, Americans joined the Europeans and paid tribute to the Barbary Kingdoms.

But by 1798, Americans had enough. We built a navy to fight French pirates in the Caribbean. Then in 1801, we sent our fleet to North Africa.

At first, the Europeans laughed at us. Most of our ships were commanded by men like Richard Somers who were just over 20 years old.

But these young Americans shocked the world. They quickly destroyed Muslim fleets that had defied the strongest European navies for centuries.

At that time, most Americans mastered reading, mathematics, and basic science when they finished school by age 16. A booming economy with low taxes, few permits, and unlimited opportunities gave them years of skills and leadership experience running farms, ships, and businesses by age 21.

A final detail is that the war that killed Richard Somers was America's first war to end slavery.

For some 300 years, the powerful Muslim kingdoms of North Africa captured more than a million Europeans and 12 million Africans, and sold them as slaves around the world.

America's war against them brought this to an end. And it made many white Americans aware of the evil of slavery - and the need to abolish it in this nation of liberty.

Before leaving the Jersey Shore for the summer, bring your family to the Somers Mansion in Somers Point at at 1:30 P.M. on Labor Day Monday, September 2.

Admission is free. You are also invited to help sponsor events like this by attending a fundraising cash-bar buffet to pay expenses. That will be at Gregory's Restaurant, 900 Shore Road in Somers Point immediately afterwards. Tickets are $25 per person, $35 per couple. [Written by Seth Grossman]

October 30, 2013 - Steve Lonegan for Governor!

Several friends have asked if I have given up writing my blogs. They actually missed reading them in the 10 weeks since my last entry!

Today's blog is just for residents of New Jersey, so others can stop reading and devote their time to their own local politics and issues.

I was born in NJ, reared in NJ (literally -- my father knew that rears were not just for sitting!) and after 38 years in Europe, I am living in my home state again. But New Jersey is not the great state that it was four decades ago. We can blame both political parties and the stupidity of voters and non-voters who permitted politicians to ruin our state.

Several years ago, before Christie was elected Governor of NJ, I posted a page on this website about the tragic economical decline of my home state. The numbers have gotten worse under Christie.

Here in New Jersey, we are gearing up for another election and I have already decided to write in my choice for Governor rather than vote for the lesser of two evils. I am voting for Steve Lonegan, who is not even on the ballot.

I campaigned hard for Steve Lonegan when he was running against Chris Christie in the Republican Primary as candidate for Governor of New Jersey. Even though the GOP gave Christie all its support and most ads were directed against Lonegan rather than the incumbant Democratic Governor, Lonegan garnered 42% of the Republican Primary vote. Because few citizens of NJ were enchanted with Corzine, Chris Christie won the job of Governor easily.

More recently, Steve Lonegan ran as GOP candidate against the Democratic Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker for the US Senate seat vacated by the death of Democrat Frank Lautenberg. Booker out-spent Lonegan 8 to 1 and had the support of labor unions, Hollywood celebrities and Democratic politicians across the nation. Even President Obama felt it necessary to throw his full support behind Booker. Unfortunately, Lonegan came closer to winning than any Republican Senate candidate in decades!

If those Republican voters who voted for Lonegan in other elections would write in his name, it would send a powerful message to those at the top of the GOP and to Democrats as well!

October 31, 2013 - Halloween

Today is Halloween and American kids are going from door to door, collecting tons of candy that will keep doctors and dentists in business for another year. When one group of children knocked on our door, I opened and they shouted in chorus, "Trick or treat!" Wanting to have some fun with them, I replied that I would choose a trick. The kids didn't know how to respond to that at first, but then a little girl of about seven countered, "No, we want treats!"

Halloween is scary! American kids are learning about entitlements. They will soon be voters - or even politicians! That is the worst trick I can think of!

December 31, 2013 - Happy New Year!

I haven't written many blogs this year, but when I do write, people respond. In fact, hardly a week goes by without someone contacting me about a blog, a boat or something else they find on my websites.

Many people buy a boat that needs repairs or parts, or they need help with the rigging. If they Google the boat name, my site is often one of the first to come up. I get some unique requests and comments from all over the world - literally!

In late summer, an older fisherman who lives in a coastal region of the Philippines wrote and asked about a tiny trolling motor that I was selling. He said that he was crippled and can no longer operate a boat, but he still wants to fish. He built a small 4-foot boat that he can operate by remote control. He sends it out into deep water and drops a baited hook and line. A flag signals when a fish is on the line. He then has the boat return to shore dragging the fish. All the trolling motors he could find were either too big and heavy or too small to do the job properly, but he thought the one I was selling was perfect. I sent him the motor and made him happy.

In mid November, a typhoon struck that region of the Philippines causing over 4,000 confirmed deaths, 1,500 missing and 18,000 injured. Entire cities were wiped out! Communication is still poor but I have been praying for my new friend.

I received another email from someone in July who happened on my website while looking for information on a Sea Witch sailboat that he was refurbishing. A witch is no saint and the Sea Witch sailboat that someone had given me was pretty bad! I tried to convert it with some success and finally sold it for a few dollars profit.

This gentleman wrote:
"From the little you had on your homepage, I can tell we would agree on much; probably because we are of similar age. I don't generally feel good about missionaries of any religious persuasion, but I have found wisdom in far stranger individuals; so I don't consider that a reason for skepticism, if you won't find the fact that I am a physician a reason for skepticism on your side of this communication."

That last comment makes me think that the doctor might have read my satirical article "Medical Unmentionables." It is not the kind of literature that doctors would want patients to read in their waiting rooms!

I wrote back:
"I have several good friends in the medical profession and a couple of them are, like me, Christians. One sold his lucrative clinic and moved to Ft. Yukon, Alaska to take over a clinic that no one else wanted. He sees this as his mission work. A second Doctor friend is a missionary in Togo, W. Africa and a third is a missionary in Papua New Guinea. After reading your self diagnosis 'I don't generally feel good about missionaries of any religious persuasion', I would advise you to seek spiritual help. When I don't feel good, I seek medical help, so that should seem like reasonable advice. What doctors do to their patients doesn't often make them feel good right away, but it hopefully helps to cure them. We missionaries seldom make people feel good but we hope that we can help their spiritual condition. We don't charge for our services."

I concluded by wishing him lots of success in restoring the Sea Witch and offered to help in any way I could.

I am just a missionary and do not claim to be a prophet, but here are ten predictions for 2014:

1) The Bible will still have the best advice.
2) God will still answer prayer.
3) God will still bless his followers.
4) God will still receive thanks from his people.
5) There will still be Christians who are faithful to God.
6) God's people will still sing his praises.
7) The Holy Spirit will still convict of sin.
8) There will still be room at the cross.
9) Jesus will still love and forgive repentant sinners.
10) God will still keep his promises.