Thursday, June 28, 2007

Patriotism follow-up

As an aside to my last post I wanted to briefly touch on a related topic. I am a staunch believer in the rights granted to us by the Constitution. Nothing gets me going like a good free speech case such as the one the Supreme Court recently decided. This supreme court decision was a travesty, but I wanted to touch on a different topic; flag-burning.

As I mentioned before, the flag of the United States of America is an important symbol of our country, and even of the Constitution on which it was founded and which grants us rights such as free speech. This is why I feel it would be poetically wrong, a fiasco even, to ever ban flag burning.

See, when a flag is worn and no longer suitable for display, one proper way to dispose of it is to burn it. This is in the federal code dealing with proper display and care of the flag. So any law that forbids flag burning would have to differentiate between the proper, reverent type of flag burning used to dispose of worn flags, and any other type of flag burning, such as that done in protest of U.S. policy or actions.

The differentiating factor here is intent. Therefore, any law that bans flag-burning is outlawing intent, and is therefore a form of thought control.


This news story made my blood boil. The article is rather short, so you can read it yourself, but the headline punned "U.S. Patriotism is Flagging" while the article leads thusly:

Fewer Americans are showing their colors these days.

A new survey finds 62 percent of Americans display the flag at home, in the office, or on their car. That's down from 75 percent in August 2002, a year after the 9/11 attacks.

It continues with statistics about percentages of republicans and democrats who respond to a survey as saying they are "very patriotic" and concludes with statistics of the percentage of different demographic groups who say they display the flag.

My question; since when has displaying the flag had anything to do with patriotism? Allow me to be disingenuous for a minute. My good friends Merriam and Webster define patriotism as "love for or devotion to one's country." Their definition says nothing of flags.

The flag of the United States of America is, by definition, an important symbol of our nation, and should be treated with respect. The mindless, jingoistic displaying of the flag, such as on an automobile or a lapel pin, only serves to demean the symbol. Likewise the many establishments that fly the flag from their business premises but then fail to properly illuminate it at night.

As I write this I have a copy of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America in my breast pocket. I get it out every once in a while because it is, especially The Declaration, truly inspiring prose. I swore an oath to protect and defend this country and the constitution when I became a commissioned officer. I have a certificate on my wall from the President of the United States that reads "that reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, fidelity and abilities of Matthew R. Ringel I do appoint him, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, an Ensign...(emphasis added)". I considered it an honor when I was chosen to raise the flag on NOAA Ship THOMAS JEFFERSON during it's commissioning ceremony as an Ensign serving aboard. But I have never, personally, displayed the flag from my house or car, or any other property personally belonging to me.

So, according to this news article, I am unpatriotic.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Little Tuesday Math Humor.

I love math humor.
Rhymes with Orange - Swearing in Math

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Camping at Peaceful Valley

Last weekend I, along with a few others, went car camping at Peaceful Valley Campground, between Ward and Allenspark. We drove up Friday night and set up camp before dusk. Most of Saturday was spent in a marathon hike up the middle St. Vrain Creek, which was rushing and overflowing with snowmelt. We probably hiked close to 18 miles in a there-and-back. The original plan was to take a truck up a 4WD road to a trailhead to cut some of the miles off, but the road wasn't open, so we hiked the full distance.

It certainly is gorgeous up there. Click here to see the full set of pictures from the trip. Here's my favorite shot. Or maybe this one.

The picture at right was taken with my Nalgene Camera Mount. I set the Nalgene on top of a cooler and had the camera attached to the Nalgene to give me a stable platform with which to shoot such long exposures. This one is six seconds, with a rear fill flash. The trick was to get the flash setting just right so everything was lit well enough so everything was visible, but not overpowering so that it still looked like we were illuminated by the glow of the fire.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Goodbye Mr. Wizard

Television's 'Mr. Wizard' dies at 89 -

Don Herbert, who played Mr. Wizard in "Mr. Wizard's World" died today. I fondly remember watching the show with my sister in the 80's. In one episode, he showed viewers how to make a sort of green slime that seemed solid if struck, but would ooze through your fingers if interacted with in a more gentle fashion. It was simple to make, consisting mostly of corn starch if I remember correctly. My sister and I immediately decided that we shall make some, right then and there. We searched the kitchen for the corn starch and just as we fished it out of the cupboard there was a knock on the door. It turned out be our neighbor, about my sister's age, who had come over to borrow some corn starch so that she could make this cool slime stuff she had just seen on "Mr. Wizard's World."

Sesame Street - The National Association of W Lovers

This song was on a mix tape that an old friend made for me many, many years ago. It just popped up in an Onion AV club best of list. Oh, the memories.

And I disagree. This should be the best one, not the runner up.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Did Pirates Really Say "Arrrr"?

Did pirates really say "arrrr"? - By Christopher Bonanos - Slate Magazine

Turns out no. My favorite line of the article: "On the myth-confirming side, pirates were known to dress in loose clothing, guzzle rum and smash the empty bottles, and chase busty wenches through Caribbean ports."

Ahh, the life of a pirate.

Happy National Yo-Yo Day!

Today, June 6th, is National Yo-Yo day, chosen to coincide with Donald Duncan Sr.'s Birthday. So everyone get out yer yo-yo and help me celebrate National Yo-Yo Day!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Roomba Philosophy, or what I learned from someone else's Roomba

This is how my friend S. described his new Roomba:

i know there is a method to the madness, but it really looks like it is thinking: ok, just, like... GO. and then, like, if you hit something, like... go in SOME OTHER DIRECTION.
and then, when you run out of battery power, go home.

It then occurred to me that this is a pretty good philosophy to live one's life by.