2014 BLOGS

(Blogs from 2007 - 2013 can be accessed under Stuff 2 Read
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January 17, 2014 - LESSER OF TWO EVILS
January 29, 2014 - WHAT IS FROSTBITING?
January 30, 2014 - THE DATE IS THE TITLE
February 21, 2014 - GOVERNMENT LOGIC
June 28, 2014 - WORLD WARS
November 27, 2014 - NO THANKS!

Sorry, not many entries this year!

January 17, 2013

The two party system in America is dead and rotting. Unfortunately, no one is willing or authorized to bury the corpse, so we have to live with the stench.

The main problem is not the electoral system or even the candidates, but rather the voters and non-voters who were involved in the euthanasia process. Many citizens who should vote, don't and many who do shouldn't. Of all those who go to the polls, most vote for whomever promises the most entitlements. The rest vote for the lesser of two evils.

Adding a third party, even the TEA-Party, would not help. One of the chief aims of Tea Party groups is reducing entitlements and achieving fiscal responsibility. That can only be accomplished by cutting costs and/or raising taxes.  Nobody votes for that!

Another aim of teapartiers is honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, whoever tells the most and biggest lies always seems to win elections. This is also the fault of voters who elect and re-elect dishonest politicians.

January 20, 2013

If there is any hope at all in breathing life into the present electoral system, it is through the Primaries and local elections. At least in small towns, there is a chance that voters know a couple of the people running for office. And there is a good chance that everyone knows somebody who knows someone on the ballot.

I have a good friend named Charlie, who was elected against all the "normal" rules of politics.

Charlie barely made it through High School and dropped out of college after one year. He got a job pumping gas in various service stations. Before long, he had his own station, gradually building up a solid customer base. A towing service was added, then tire sales and car repairs of every kind. He was robbed and his life was threatened, but he soon learned to deal with such individuals as human beings rather than enemies. Once, someone tried to rob him and in typical Charlie fashion, he asked, "You need money? I'll hire you!" The guy not only became a good worker, he let it be known in the local underworld that Charlie was not to be messed with!

As customers got to know Charlie, he made many friends who respected him for his Christian testimony, his generosity, helpfulness and down-to-earth logic. He became active in community affairs. In choosing a church, he didn't just look for the one that suited his tastes, but one where he could serve in some humble fashion.

While pumping gas, Charlie often had to listen to citizens griping about corrupt politics und unfair laws. Charlie encouraged them to vote for good politicians, but they would sigh and say, "There is no such thing!" Charlie tried a different tactic and asked, "Why don't you run for office; I'll campaign for you." Most had some kind of lame excuse or expressed a fear of negative consequences. Their business, family or reputation could suffer. One day, a customer was complaining about corruption in the local school system. Charlie suggested he run for a position on the School Board. The customer responded by saying, "You run, Charlie! Everyone would vote for you!" Charlie had never given that a thought but was not one to back away from a challenge. With his limited education and having no wife or family, he hardly seemed a likely candidate, but Charlie ran for election and won. He spoke up when it was called for and refused to back down or keep his mouth shut if he felt a matter was important. Most of the citizens liked his straightforward, simple and logical argumentations, often punctuated with humorous anecdotes.

A few years later, Charlie decided to run for the office of Township Supervisor. Many citizens were elated and gave him full campaign support. The incumbent Supervisor was confident that Charlie didn't have a chance to win. He had plenty of experience, money, influence and an earned doctorate, while Charlie simply pumped gas and drove a tow truck.

Early in the campaign, the Supervisor challenged Charlie to a public debate and Charlie accepted. The hall was filled to capacity, and Charlie was pleased to see that his supporters were clearly in the majority. The Supervisor began with a barrage of questions designed to make Charlie look ridiculous, but it all backfired on him. "What are your educational qualifications for the position of Township Supervisor?" he demanded. Without a moment's hesitation, Charlie responded, "I am a graduate of the school of hard knocks." After a few degrading comments, the Supervisor asked for his campaign platform. Charlie replied, "If elected, I promise to carry out my duties as Township Supervisor to the best of my abilities on a platform of good old common sense." The incumbent Supervisor fired back, "Common sense? What is that supposed to mean?" Charlie turned to the expectant audience with a mischievous grin for which he was well known, and then directed his reply to the Supervisor. "You have a doctorate and are serving as Township Supervisor and don't even know what common sense is?" The crowd burst out into laughter followed by seemingly endless applause. The Supervisor attempted to recover terrain, but soon gave up in disgust, claiming that his opponent was not prepared or able to give intelligent answers to his questions.

Soon after that debate, Charlie was hospitalized with internal bleeding. Lying in the emergency ward, Charlie received one transfusion after another, but nothing seemed to help. While Doctors gave him little chance to survive, Charlie was receiving countless letters and cards from anxious and caring citizens. The incumbent Supervisor saw his chance and churned out endless attack flyers, wrote articles for the newspaper and used every ploy to get votes. Charlie's condition improved and he was moved to a hospital room where he was able to receive visitors. One of the first was a reporter who wanted to know how he would answer his opponent. Charlie told him, "The wonderful citizens of this town have shown me so much kindness, concern and prayers. There are many hard-working, tax-paying people in town, and I am confident that they know how to vote." Charlie won hands down, but it never went to his head. He continued pumping gas and towing wrecks for the duration of his tenure.

Charlie also ran for County Commissioner, but lost that election. He said that was really a blessing, for he was getting older and didn't feel competent to clean up politics on the county level. Charlie never married, but everyone, including the ladies, loved him!

January 22, 2014

On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that Jane Roe (her real name was Norma McCorvey) and any other pregnant woman in America was legally entitled to have her unborn baby killed. The court deliberations took more than two years, so McCorvey's baby was born and adopted by someone who wanted it. That baby would now be 42-43 years old, is probably married with children, working and paying taxes. I don't really know for certain, but neither do I know what those 55 million aborted persons might be doing today if they had been allowed to live. We can statistically calculate the cost of the abortion industry on our economy, however.

In September, 2013, a Catholic study calculated the cost of the abortion industry in America. An estimated 48 million "missing Americans" were not contributing to the nation's economy in 2007 (the latest year official abortion figures are available). Half of those aborted would have been females that likely would have had at least one child by age 25. These additional missing persons would bring the total to about 55 million missing persons, who would have added $37 trillion to the economy. But not just tax payers are missing.

The report says, "Because of abortion we have lost millions of successful entrepreneurs, inventors, business owners, physicians, lawyers, teachers, venture capitalists, investors, artists, and, of course, mothers and fathers who would have birthed children whose descendants would have become productive citizens contributing to a robust economy." Because the abortion stats are seven years old, the number of abortions and fiscal impact is significantly higher.

Incidentally, Norma McCorvey became a staunch pro-life proponent, even writing a book about her change of heart.

Before 1973, King Herod the Great was probably the most widely known baby killer, but Herod only had the boys in the area of Bethlehem killed. Most abortion doctors have killed more babies than Herod.

January 29, 2014 - WHAT IS FROSTBITING?

I have owned several boats that are often used in what has become known as frostbite sailing or simply frostbiting. Friends have asked me, "What is frostbiting?"

Frostbite is a noun and normally refers to a skin condition resulting from over exposure to cold. Although the word "bite" is both a noun and a verb, the verbalized form of "frostbite" first appeared around 1932. I understand that a reporter who watched a bunch of guys sailing in a snow storm called them "frostbiters" in a newspaper article. The name stuck.

It might have been William Taylor, yachting correspondent for The New York Herald, who coined that name. He covered the first New Year's Day Frostbite Regatta on Manhasset Bay, Long Island Sound in 1932. Weather conditions were ideal for these hardy sailors. There was rain, hail and snow, and most importantly, there was wind. When Taylor reported on the event, he captured the spirit that has driven frostbiters for decades. "The idea of a Frostbite Regatta," he wrote, "is to prove that some people are crazier than others and those who are craziest sail races in 11-foot boats in the middle of snowstorms -- and enjoy it."

Long before teenagers did snowboarding, their grandparents raced horse-drawn carriages and sailors raced boats. In commerce as well as in war, it is important to have the biggest, most durable or fastest vehicle. The skills and physical condition of people who drive, ride or sail is equally important.

It should not surprise anyone that such competitiveness would birth sporting events. The Egyptians had their chariot races, Greeks invented the Olympic games and Eskimos had dog sled races.

Modern sports is baffling if not downright weird. People who drive fast cars in circles, shoot basketballs, hit baseballs, kick soccer balls, and fight over footballs or hockey pucks, get paid millions. Spectators fill stadiums, paying big bucks to watch.

People also pay a few dollars to watch rodeos, but the bull and bronc riders, who take greater risks than NASCAR drivers and football players, get no pay and even cover their own expenses.

When kids dream up some new sport like skateboarding or hot dogging, TV networks fight to obtain the exclusive rights to cover these events, but frostbiting hardly earns a yawn.

A videotographer named Thurston Smith has been working on a frostbiting documentary and uploaded a trailer on YouTube a year ago, but it's apparently not finished yet. When the weather is ideal for frostbiting, it is worst for filming. Pity the poor photographer, who tries to operate his camera with frozen fingers and shivering limbs. And the sky is usually overcast.

The action takes place out there on the water in tiny sailboats with iced rigging and frozen sailors. Because you never know which boat is going to tip over when, the photographer would need a camera on every boat to catch the action. Can you imagine trying to film a frostbite regatta from the beach?

The rising popularity of extreme sports is powered by many factors, recognition, fame, popularity or money. Or people just want to be the best on the planet. People who frostbite do it  for fun and don't care if others are watching.

Frostbiting is hardly a spectator sport. The spouse of a frostbiter can't bear to watch and others prefer sitting in their warm living room or den watching other sporting events. Spectators of frostbiting would have to endure everything the photographer has to deal with, but in the end, there are no winners! On the other hand, every sailor feels like a winner, even if he or she (yes, there are girls who frostbite) got an unscheduled icy bath. Thawing out around a fireplace in the clubhouse, there are no losers!

In eight decades of frostbite sailing, there has never been a recorded death, but then few people are crazy enough to try it and even fewer interested in watching and recording the results.

If I wasn't past my prime (I'm 76), I too would be out there having fun. I have owned several boats used for frostbiting, an Inter Club, an O'day Sprite, a Laser and an Iota. The latter is sitting on a trailer ready to go. I'm tempted to try it, but my wife doesn't want me to become the first fatal statistic in frostbite sailing history.

Old Frostbite Photos

Modern frostbiter regatta in less than ideal weather conditions (no snow!)

January 30, 2014 - Today's date is the title of this blog.

Some followers of my blogs may recall the December 6, 2012 entry, when I wrote of an experience with Nina, the fifth puppy we raised for The Seeing Eye. Incidentally, Nina is now in training to be a guide dog. I want to share another experience I had with Pippi, TSE puppy #6.

Eleven years ago today was the first full day that we spent in our house in Malaga, and to celebrate, this morning was the coldest we have had since moving. It actually got down to minus 1 degree!

And wouldn't you know it, our 10-week old Pippi picked last night to get diarhea!

I had to get out of bed as fast as possible, put on my winter coat, hat and boots, hook the puppy on her leash and get her out the door before she exploded.

Repeat that scenario four times between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM and you get the picture.

At first, I was feeling sorry for myself and jealous that my wife can sleep through all that commotion. Add to this the fact that my dermatologist cut a "pound of flesh" from near my heart yesterday (basil cell skin cancer). It bend over.

After the first trip, I began to feel fortunate and pittied Pippi instead. Picture a fuzzball puppy over her head in snow trying to "eliminate" (Seeing Eye language). I thought she would be empty after the first outing, but all four excursions were just as urgent and productive.

At 5:00 AM Pippi was full of vim and vigor, but otherwise empty and ravenously hungry. My wife had to hurry to make her a warm meal of rice and chicken broth. I took my meds with coffee and granola. I would have gone back to bed, but our car was scheduled for a service at 8:00 AM.

February 21, 2014 - Government Logic

The 5-mile beach in Wildwood, NJ is now so wide that visitors complain it takes half an hour to reach the water, but with every storm, the ocean recedes even further. The federal environmentalists make no exceptions, however, and demand that 16-foot dunes be built to protect the town. Such dunes have already been built in Atlantic City and beach cities. People used to walk the Boardwalk to see the waves. Now, like desert nomads, they see only sand. Federal and State officials refuse to honor pleas of residents' for a compromise to build 12' dunes.

When the first 17-mile Bay Bridge Tunnel opened In 1964, the Delaware-NJ Bridge Authority bought ferry boats from Virginia. They planned to operate the ferries temporarily until their own 17-mile Delaware Bay Bridge-Tunnel could be constructed.

Virginia built a second 17-mile Bay Bridge Tunnel in 1997 for $197 million, one third of the $600 million NJ paid to build a 2.5 mile bridge and causeway between Ocean City and Somers Point. Both of the Virginia bridge/tunnel projects have paid for themselves, but New Jersey and Delaware never built their bridge-tunnel and kept running (weather permitting) the money-losing ferries 17 miles between Cape May, NJ and Lewes, DE for 50 years.

NJ also planned to make Route 40 a 4-lane highway and finish Route 55 to Cape May, but there are not enough Virginians in our government. Also, the EPA fears such projects could endanger the environment. They believe that the money would be better spent on windmill farms off the coast.

Followers of my blog have been asking why it is so quiet lately. It has been more than three months since my last entry; did I run out of stuff to write? Hardly! One reason is priorities. I only have 24 hours a day and seven days in a week. I am 76, so a lot of time is spent in the doctor's offices or visiting sick friends, only interrupted by funerals. If you are younger and looking forward to retirement, let this be a warning!

Seriously, in spite of open heart surgery (4 bypasses) and many lesser operations, I enjoy relatively good health and can do almost anything I want. We are raising puppies for The Seeing Eye and I am webmaster for our club website (see "Links"). If you visit that site, you will see that we have many activities! I do at least half a dozen other websites too. Then just to preserve my sanity and marriage, I need to busy myself with repairing, refurbishing and ultimately selling some of the boats in our yard. Thinking too much about the political state of our nation would send me to the asylum. When I think about it though, that might be a peaceful and quiet reprieve! Most of the inmates are in Washington running the country.

Today, I am breaking the silence and writing. It is raining and too wet to do much outside.

June 5, 2014, Outing of CIA "Chief of Station" and Prisoner Exchange

I know it won't happen no matter what the man in the White House does to the country we love, but I think he should be impeached. The only one who ever deserved to be worshipped was crucified two millenniums ago, but many Americans now worship Barabbas.

I am disgusted by the President's recent actions that not only jeopardize our troops, but make targets of all American citizens.

On Memorial Day weekend, White House staff presented a long list of important people that Obama was to meet with during his short visit in in Afghanistan. The information was reportedly sent to 6,000 international press agencies. Can anyone explain what purpose this could have had other than to make Obama look important? The list "inadvertently" outed CIA's top official in Kabul.

When a kid decides to play baseball with a raw egg, the damage done to the egg is not "inadvertent" and when White House staff gives that kind of information to foreign nations, there is no viable excuse!

Over ten years ago, in June, 2003, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage mentioned in conversations with journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Novak that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA. More than two years later, November 15, 2005, Woodward published the information in his column, leading to the end of Plame-Wilson's CIA career. Democrats and the press quickly accused the G.W.Bush White House of being behind the outing of Plame-Wilson as an act of revenge because her husband had come out in opposition to the war in Iraq. Democrats kept the issue in the headlines for years even though no one was ever convicted of outing Plame-Wilson.

After White House staff outed the name of CIA "Chief of Station" during Obama's Memorial Day stint in Afghanistan, the Washington Post called it "inadvertant" and then used the opportunity to drag out the debunked "Plamegate" episode again. It wrote, "...Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq." There was no mention of the fact that it was Richard Armitage, who outed Plame for entirely different reasons under different circumstances two years earlier. And Plame-Wilson was not serving in a war zone either.

The exchange of five dangerous Taliban terrorists for Army Sergeant Bergdahl, who was captured and held after leaving his post (called AWOL), show whose side the President is on.

My wife and I served as missionaries for 38 years and our mission has a policy of never conceding to terrorists who might take us captive and hold us for ransom or offer us in a prisoner exchange. We are in wholehearted agreement with that policy. Anyone who enters military service is well-informed of the risks involved and even though every reasonable effort should be expended to free captives, making concessions to terrorists only encourages them to repeat their atrocities and puts others at risk.

June 28, 2014 WORLD WARS
Exactly one century ago, on June 28, 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Austria retaliated on July 28 by declaring war on Serbia. The material devastation and number of lives lost in World War I is hardly fathomable even today, yet the disastrous consequences of World War II exceeded those of the first World War by far.

The first war, called "The war to end all wars," lasted four years, from 1914- 1918. The second world war was precipitated twenty years later on March 11, 1938 (I was three days old). The Austrian-born Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler, rode triumphantly into his homeland and the city of his birth, Braunau, announcing to millions of cheering Austrians that the German people were once again a united nation. The annexation of Austria was forbidden under the peace agreements of 1919.

There were an estimated 10 million military and 7 million civilian deaths in the First World War. The second World War claimed 22-25 million military and 38-55 million civilian lives, or a total of 60-85 million deaths. Material devastation was many times greater in WW II due to the emergence of more sophisticated and powerful weapons.

We lived and worked nearly four decades in Austria and grew to love the people and country. It seems inconceivable to me that both World Wars began with Austria, yet it is a fact of history that can not be erased.

People who know me well call me an incurable optimist. At age 15, I bought a Model T Ford for $30. The former owner rubbed his hands in delight at getting that much money for a piece of junk. I restored the car and sold it for 10 times what I paid. It is probably still being admired at classic car shows 60 years later. I got my drivers license in 1955 and bought a wrecked 1946 Ford convertible from a junkyard for $50. The V8 engine and other parts had been stripped and sold. When I towed it home, a neighbor who was knowledgeable and experienced in repairing cars, told me that I was nuts. A few months later, the car was pictured in a Car Magazine. I worked in an art gallery restoring paintings and spent most of my life working with kids that society had given up on. In retirement, I repair and restore small sailboats that others discard as irreparable.

Considering all these optimistic efforts, how could I be making such a pessimistic and terrifying statement? Am I nuts? I will let readers decide and time will show who is right. I am not the type of guy to gloat "I told you so!" I will be in tears when it happens if I am still alive, for I am convinced that the deaths and destruction caused by the next World War will be much greater than the first two World Wars combined.

Consider the following facts:
1) The world's military potential dwarfs that of WW II. They measure it's potential for destruction with vocabulary like "overkills." Only one nation had nuclear capacity towards the end of WW II. Today there are ten. America and Russia alone have over 15,000 known nuclear warheads. Because WW II was the last time nuclear weaponry was used in battle, no one can estimate the possible damage a nuclear war could inflict. Nor is there any way to forecast the devastating effects of chemical and cyber warfare, but these too will definitely be used in a third world war.

2) Many nations will be involved and their only choice in the matter will be to decide on which side to fight. Most nations will choose the side they believe will win. Very few will choose the side that they think is the proper moral choice. Switzerland may choose to follow its historical tradition and attempt to remain neutral. Such a choice will be very chancy in a third world war. It assumes that the good guys will win and be nice to those who remained neutral.

3) What about the United States? After the First World War broke out, the German federation was able to celebrate victory after victory for nearly four years. Only after German submarines began sinking American merchant ships in 1918, did America finally get involved in World War I.

After Hitler's annexation of Austria, he began to systematically destroy the Jews and build his Third Reich (empire). The United States watched events in Europe from a safe distance for three years. Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, but the United States became involved in World War II only after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.

4) When our boys fought in two World Wars, people back home stood behind them in any way possible. Each victory on the battlefield was a victory for those back home, and every loss of life touched the lives and hearts of all Americans. There are war memorials in most larger American towns, honoring those who gave their lives. Today. however, there is little empathy for members of the military among the younger generations. Those under 50 have little knowledge or understanding of what war is like.

The USA has been involved in a number of wars and peace-keeping operations since WWII, but most of these ended miserably. Our military often had orders not to win and the situation in many of the countries where our men died is hardly better today. The recent "purging" of high ranking military officers who question presidential decrees or who don't show absolute allegiance to the Commander in Chief is alarming. Military service is now voluntary and many soldiers enlist rather than serve time in prison for various criminal and domestic offences. America relies heavily on high tech which is vulnerable to EMPs and cyber attacks. In a third world war, we will be forced to use our nuclear arsenal for survival.

If you study US history, you learn about the American Revolution and Civil War. These events are important but war is not what made America the greatest nation on earth.

American history is the story of men and women who were determined to build a nation where citizens could live and worship in freedom from despotism. The colonists wanted a government that could not dictate a citizen's religious beliefs. Nearly every school and university was founded upon biblical principles and designed to provide an education that included Christian values. They sought an environment that permitted people with differing religious beliefs and political positions to live peaceably with each other, but all agreed that the ten commandments and teachings of Christ should provide the basis for this peaceful co-existence. The founding documents and even the wars fought on American soil had these goals clearly in mind.

A gifted and hard-working team of construction workers may labor for a year to build a magnificent house that is admired by all. But any kid with a match can destroy it in a few minutes. If a kid burns a house down, it's front page news but few builders make the headlines.

Ralph V Harvey, June 28, 2014

November 26, 2014, No Thanks!

School children learn that the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth in 1621. Actually, the Puritans celebrated the English Harvest Festival, but they did eat turkey and they were thankful.

American school children also learn that the first permanent settlement in North America was established in 1565 when the Spanish Admiral, Pedro MenÚndez de AvilÚs, founded St. Augustine. What few history students are told, is the fact that there was a special urgency in the Admiral's mission. In the previous year, a group of French Huguenots (followers of John Calvin) had landed in Florida and founded Ft. Caroline. They, and not the pilgrims of Rhode Island, celebrated the first Thanksgiving on American soil June 30, 1564, more than half a century before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth. They hoped to establish a safe haven for other Huguenots who would follow, but their hopes were short-lived. One year later, Spaniards under the leadership of de AvilÚs landed in Florida and slaughtered the Huguenots in a great massacre. They established St. Augustine near where Ft. Caroline had stood.

When around 80 Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth aboard the Mayflower, modern Americans would say that they had little to be thankful for. They certainly didn't have much of this world's goods and half of the original colony died that first winter. At one time, only seven persons were well enough to care for the sick.

The Pilgrims suffered many hardships, but they were thankful. They thanked God for his mercy and grace.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America but many citizens don't seem to be thankful for anything, nor do they feel indebted to thank anyone, least of all, God.

We are one of the wealthiest nations on earth. Even the so-called "poor Americans" have homes with central heating and air conditioning. They drive nice cars that 70-80% of the world's population can only dream about and spend many hours each day in front of their giant flat-screen TVs or talking on i-Phones.

But are Americans thankful? Hardly! There is much complaining, grumbling and criticism about nearly everything. How often do you hear someone say "thank you" or give thanks for their food? The popular terms today are "rights" and "entitlements".