Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Before Sunset

I just happened on a spellbinding movie video this afternoon and watched it with my daughter. The movie is called Before Sunset and stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I didn't realize it but this was the sequel to a movie they made together in 1994 called Before Sunrise. Although a story of love once lost, the movie is filled with dialog about life. It had my head spinning with long-lost hopes and dreams and memories from my own life. Filmed in quaint little streets and places in Paris, the entire movie takes place in real time. The cameras don't miss a single second of this exciting encounter between these two former lovers.

Worth Having

There is nothing spiritually worth having in death that is not a million times more worth having in life.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Greenspan on Current Accounts

On November 7, I posted a link to a chart that showed the increasingly alarming decline in the Balance on Current Accounts, the quarterly reporting of the trade deficit:
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/NETFI/108/10yrs
My question was whether anyone could show me how that figure is good news and how that money finds its way back into the US.
Those questions were answered in this weekend's Bangor Daily News in an article about warnings FED chief Alan Greenspan gave concerning the weakening dollar. He explained how this alarming increase in the trade deficit, currently being offset by countries such as Japan, China, and England buying US Treasury Securities and foreign investment in stocks and bonds, could lead to financial problems for the US economy.
Now here's something to think about. Americans love to spend money on foreign-made products. A show I watched last week said WalMart is increasing its demand for Chinese-made products, I think to the tune of 80%. That trade imbalance comes back in the form of investments in US securities and in the stock and bond markets, not in the form of purchases of American made goods. According to Greenspan, this is weakening the value of the dollar overseas. This in turn is threatening the appetite of foreigners to invest in America. If investors lose their appetite, that could significantly reduce the value of US bonds, driving interest rates on the US debt potentially through the roof.
Considering that the whole stock market is based on perceived demand and availability of capital, this decline in appetite could also undermine the stock market in a major way, if it should some day happen.
Is it any wonder Bush is giving tax breaks to the rich so they can invest their wealth overseas?
Is it any wonder Americans are embracing the principles of empire now, principles of a strong and overbearing military?
Is it any wonder we have jeopardized our freedom, sacrificed our trusted image around the world, compromised our values and principles, and prostituted our military and our representative government to the wealthy?
All because we love shopping at WalMart...

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Grace

Grace is the consciousness that nature itself has of God. This is a thought that just ran through my head as I lay tossing and turning in bed attempting to fall back asleep this morning.
Does it seem strange to you that there are these words used in religion that none of us really seem to understand? Grace is one of them. Most people don't even use that word in the religious sense, but it is a big one in Christianity. Man "fell from grace" when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Also, man is "saved by grace" in Christianity. But what is grace? Nobody ever told me what it is.
Nobody ever told me what the soul is either, and for that matter, nobody ever distinguished for me the difference in definition between the words soul and spirit. All my life people have used those two words virtually interchangeably. Why? Don't they mean different things? Why don't I know the difference between them? Even the meaning of the word God is elusive. Does anybody know? Are people trying to tell me and I'm too out of touch to realize it?
Going to the dictionary doesn't help. The dictionary leaves religious terms with fuzzy definitions very similar to my own fuzzy notions before my consultation with Webster's. But the same holds true if I read into religious or "spiritual" source material. There just doesn't seem to be a consensus of opinion on the meaning of any of these words. What I tend to do now to compensate is to give these words definition based on my own experience of them and of life and nature. In other words, I come to my own consensus.
With the soul and spirit, I have decided that in my vocabulary, the soul will be that part of life's existence that exists beyond the existence of the body and mind, but possesses or entails the past, present, and future. It encompasses all of our enduring memories as well as all of our possibilities, but in a timeless sense. Our soul is not that part of our thinking which reflects on our past and future from a point of reference of right now, this moment in time. The soul is timeless.
Yet through the power of life, the soul has control over physical reality, over our body and our mind and our rational thinking and our feelings and even over how we are using all of these capacities in the reality of our world and universe. The soul is somehow in contact with the here and now. That contact is what I have come to call spirit. To me, the word spirit refers to the energy in the universe that is being guided by our soul. That energy is being projected into the universe by everything we do. Even physics attests to that fact. Our spirit is the measure of all of the physical energy that is under our control at any given moment. Our soul is a measure both of what that control of nature's energy has done and of what that energy could do if we used it for that purpose. Because everything we do is projected into nature by energy, everything in the universe is interrelated in time by this energy. The whole universe is affected by everything we choose to do. Time is the structure through which all of the universe is related.
I think I have often expressed my thoughts on the meaning of the word God. God is, after all, a word that refers to some sort of concept, some set of ideas that we express whenever we say the word. To me, God refers to the concept of truth, the idea that there is a truth larger than our "human" imaginations and illusions. It is my contention that if we were somehow able to raise our own consciousness to its fullest potential, what we would discover is the fact that this truth exists. We would rise into a consciousness of truth, of God. We would arrive at a level of thought where all truth is knowable and all illusion is exposed.
I have long been aware that such a level of thought does in fact exist. I tend to believe that such consciousness is part of life by design. In other words, I believe that it is natural to have this consciousness. I tend to think that if we could somehow reach this level of full natural consciousness, what we would discover is that the creatures and processes of nature are already at this consciousness. We would wind up asking ourselves why we have been asleep to it all our lives.
The story of Adam and Eve tells of how mankind fell from this consciousness, fell from God's grace, forgot spiritual truth. That forbidden fruit, that "knowledge of good and evil," somehow caused us to die to the consciousness of God and nature's truth. The fall from grace is a fall from consciousness. Yet the promise of the "New Testament" is that by grace we can find salvation. Is this the very same grace? Is that actually telling us that if there is a salvation for mankind, it is this consciousness, this grace? Is this a promise that we can regain that which we have lost, that we can regain this consciousness?

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Audacity

Doesn't it seem strange that the White House would want a Secretary of State who has to be known around the world now as someone whose every word is subject to distrust? The record she established as National Security Advisor for in-your-face lying should be enough to demote her to a street-walker, but no, it wins her a prize trophy. Is there any limit to the audacity of this White House? And the audacity of Congress if they let her into this position! If my father hadn't been such a staunch Republican he'd roll over in his grave.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Cultural Relativism

Here's an interesting term that I just came across in a weblog that was pointing out the weakness of the Democratic Party in the wake of this election. The context of that term appeared this way:
However, having a "D" next to your name in a huge swath of America is a liability. Simply put, the "brand" in those parts is perceived by many as standing for weakness on defense and cultural relativism.
From: http://www.bullmooseblog.com/2004/11/red-hot-for-red-senators.html
Of course, the perception of liberals being cultural relativists is strong. Not many people would doubt that. Many liberals spend endless hours writing about how each of us owns our individual reality, basically letting the idea of an objective reality be claimed almost exclusively by the conservatives in our country. It's an interesting trend in perception and it is probably THE main reason for the success of the Republican Party in recent years. The whole notion of Kerry flip-flopping was to convince Americans that Kerry's vision of what is right and wrong changes with the cultural tides.
One could present a strong argument to suggest that as long as this perception remains, the idea that liberals are cultural relativists while conservatives are absolutists in service to God, Republicans will retain and even gain more power in America. That perceptual divide is nothing less than huge and growing larger every year. It is fueled by the conservative media, Fox News and right-wing talk radio, but it is believed by nearly all in right-wing religion. It is virtually impossible to get fundamentalist evangelical Christians to vote liberal, yet more and more Americans are becoming evangelized.
But I see a fallacy in all of this. I see it differently.
I think the reason many liberals are turned off on absolutism is that they have personally experienced hypocrisy in absolutism. There is a lot of absolutist hypocrisy being pumped into American and world culture and it isn't a new thing either. Absolutist hypocrisy has been around for thousands of years. If you read the Bible, the only rants Jesus made were toward absolutist hypocrisy. Over and over in the Old Testament, prophets warned of the dire consequences of the hypocrisy of misguided absolutists. It is a direct result of this hypocrisy that many in our time refuse to even consider the notion of God being absolute.
Socrates used reason to challenge Greek absolutism. Jesus used love to shatter entrenched Jewish absolutism. Galileo used truth and science and mathematics to shatter Catholic absolutist notions.
Yet there is a common thread binding these people's works together. Each of them used truth and reality to shatter false notions of the absolute. The real enemy isn't change, it isn't shifting culture. The real enemy is false absolutes.
Bringing this into our time and American politics and religion, the question is this: Are the moral and cultural absolutes of the conservative "right" based on anything more than fallacy? Are they anything more than temporary cultural standards?
When the whole world changed on September 11, 2004, as claimed by President Bush during the buildup to the 2004 campaign, was that a sign of absolute cultural and moral values or was that change proof of a cultural shift?
When President Bush, who claims to have a special connection to God, sent Colin Powell to the United Nations with his portfolio of known facts, and then led America to war in Iraq based on claims of huge existing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons only to discover that the threat was only real in our imaginations of the future, was that a sign of absolutism or was that a cultural shift to a new vision of reality? Was it cultural relativity?
When conservative "pundits" declare the need to escalate the war in Iraq even to the extent of using weapons of mass destruction against the Iraqi people, is that cultural relativity?
When we passed the Patriot Act and put our own liberty at risk, was that cultural relativity?
When we suspended the ban on nuclear weapons testing and engaged ourselves in the process of creating a whole new genre of usable nuclear weapons and thus shattered the claim that nuclear weapons were a deterrent to war, was that cultural relativity?
When we declared that prisoners of the War on Terror were not to be accorded rights under the Geneva Conventions, was that cultural relativity?
When prison abuse and torture in Iraq elicits voices of support from the conservatives in America, is that cultural relativity?
When anti-war protesters across the country dare to speak out despite their fear of being punished by the conservatives in power, is that cultural relativity?
When electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail, programmed with software protected by intellectual property laws that make the machines completely unverifiable and designed and built by defense contractors, place the entire election process at risk, is this cultural relativity?
When American reaction to the looming threat of oil shortages is to bribe world leaders, topple leaders when they won't accept bribes, and even wage war to dominate the oil fields of the world, is that cultural relativity?
When the world's largest Communist country becomes one of the most favored trade nations because of the huge low-wage workforce, thus leading to low inflation in the United States and huge corporate profits despite the huge trade deficit and the destructive effect on American workers' incomes, is that cultural relativity?
I could easily go on, but I think my point is clear enough. There is nothing at all absolute about the conservative "Right." Their governing is as relative as any left-wing government. Their claim on absolutism and their criticism of Democratic Party cultural relativism are fallacies.
But so what? Liberals know this already. It's the conservatives in America who are in denial. It is the conservatives who hide behind the smokescreen of absolute moral values while their leaders impose true cultural relativism on this nation and the world. The question isn't how can liberals embrace moral values, the question is how are we going to stop these conservative leaders from changing our culture so much that we no longer have the liberty we cherish?

Friday, November 12, 2004

Don't Believe It

A family is sitting around the supper table.The son asks his father,"Dad, how many kinds of breasts are there?" the father, surprised, but answers, "Well, son, there are three kinds of breasts. In her twenties, a woman's breasts are like melons,round and Firm. In her thirties to forties, they are like pears, still nice but Hanging a bit. After fifty, they are like onions."
"Onions?"
"Yes, see them and they make you cry."
This infuriated the wife and daughter so the daughter said, "Mum, how many kind of penises are there?" The mother, surprised, smiles, and looks at her husband and answers,"Well, dear, a man goes through three phases. In a man's twenties, his penis is like an oak, mighty and hard. In his thirties and forties, it is like a birch, flexible but reliable. After his fifties, it is like a Christmas tree."
"A Christmas tree?"
"Yes, dead from the root up &the balls are there for decoration only!

Fear and Loathing

I am listening to Public Radio and they were just talking about a 1998 Johnny Depp movie that I would love to have seen in the theater but didn't even know about till it was out on video. When I watched it a couple years ago, I related so strongly to it that it was without doubt the funniest movie I had ever seen. It had me rolling in uncontrollable laughter with tears running from my eyes. The movie is called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But I fear that to relate to the hilarity of this movie, you have to either have been insane or else experienced without fear the effects of LSD. Public Radio used this movie to demonstrate how an actor reacts to the failure of a movie, but I give this movie an A+

A Pill

I've had a thought in recent months that has resurfaced quite a few times but I haven't written about it yet. Let me see if I can express it this morning. It relates to a topic that has surfaced several times in Dacia's blog, sometimes by her and sometimes by replies others and I have made.
We seek in life a meaning for our lives. We don't seem to be able to find it, though. Even those who proactively seek it don't find anything they are willing or able to give to the rest of us. Some claim to find it, witness the rhetoric of evangelical Christians. Their claim is that the answer to our seeking lies in salvation. They say the reason we don't all understand is because we are unwilling to accept and submit to the truth. Yet when a person does accept and submit to evangelical Christianity, that person is hit on the head with the Bible, dragged in through the church's door, baptized, and persuaded to let the church tap into their paycheck for the 10% tithe. Since baptism doesn't merely represent a cleansing but rather the drowning death of our old self and the resurrection into Christian conformity, it isn't hard to understand why we might resist.
Most other religious solutions to the problem bear baggage at least as heavy as this, though. Imagine the changes you would be required to go through before you would be acceptable in Islam. Look at the pressure for conformity within the Catholic Church. And are there any significant effects on our lives or our understanding of the meaning of life if we do join a religion but hang onto our old self, our old beliefs and values? The baggage is unavoidable, yet is the promise of religion born out objectively in our lives? Does religion actually open up the treasures and secrets of life? Personally, I think not. I think that for the most part, religion is a social structure, not an enlightenment.
So the search for the meaning of life continues and the answers are not to be easily found.
I have a challenge for my readers.
Suppose that modern science through biological and chemical research discovered a chemical that unleashed our minds. We have all heard that we use only a small percentage of the mental capacity of our own minds. Suppose that tomorrow it was announced that a pill has now become available that would open our minds completely and reliably to an understanding of who we are and why we are here. For the sake of this argument, suspend your doubts about the possibility of this happening and just imagine this actually happened and that pill were offered to you. How would you react?
Suppose you had read reports or even met people who had taken this new pill and their testimony supported the claim, that this miracle pill had completely opened their eyes to the reality of human nature and the reality of all of nature. Suppose they told you that you can't even begin to imagine how much this little pill would expand your mind and change who you are. Suppose some of these people were even claiming that you would meet God if you took this pill and that your understanding of what is meant by "God" would finally become clear to you. And suppose above all, your taking of this pill were both safe and legal. Would you take that pill?
Now, suppose you chose to take this pill and everything you had heard about the experience turned out to be true. Suppose that for the very first time in your life, you knew the real meaning of life. Suppose you really did come to enlightenment, you reached the light within your own soul, you met your spirit. Suppose that in that light you finally understood the concept of God, of absolute truth and reality. But suppose that along with this enlightenment you also discovered the real you. Suppose you could remember and review your own life up to this point and see your own life history, your actions, your beliefs, your values, in light of what you were now able to understand. Suppose you could remember and understand all of the times you had hurt yourself and others. Suppose you could not avoid seeing your own self-centeredness. Suppose you could see the pain we all cause one another and know the real reasons why we cause others this pain. Suppose you could view your life from a perspective of the whole truth and you were no longer able to deceive yourself... no longer able...
Now suppose that the effects of this pill lasted for only a day. Suppose you slept as usual and when you awoke the next day, your life had returned to something close to normal. Suppose that your experience with enlightenment had been significant enough to make a lasting impression on you, but you were no longer enlightened. But suppose that you were now able to see that the promise of this new medicine was real and that the taking of this pill was safe. Would you take it again?

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Calling All Progressives!

The Maine Progressive Caucus will hold a founding meeting on Sunday, November 14, at the UMaine Augusta Auditorium. We will enact bylaws, elect a statewide steering committee and discuss upcoming party elections and program.
Please register online at http://www.mainecaucus.net/, if at all possible. Proposed by-laws will also be posted there. Submit any proposed amendments in writing beforehand.
Registration and coffee 9-10. Meeting begins at 10. Lunch 12-1. Adjourn at 4.
Please bring sandwiches (no hot dishes) and desserts to share for lunch. Coffee, cider and water provided.
Directions: Take I-95 to UMA/Civic Center (old exit #31) and follow signs to UMA.
We look forward to working together to further the progressive agenda here in Maine!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


This picture was also on the front page of today's Bangor Daily News. I got it from Rush Limbaugh's site. Rush spoke of this man as a "real man" smoking a Marlboro. Rush says that this Marine is willing to do what 99% of Americans are unwilling to do, fight and risk his life for our country.

Rush Today

I made a trip over to my brother-in-law's place today to do some Yankee trading with him. I had an old brush-cutting saw (an overgrown string trimmer type of thing) and he had a new overhead garage door with rails. We made it an even trade. On the way over there I caught most of the last hour of Rush Limbaugh's reality for today talk radio show. Mind you now I just caught a piece of it but in that brief period I discovered that there is now scientific proof that global warming is not happening. That's great news for SUV owners who have been victimized by liberals in the liberal media. Rush's vehicle, he didn't mention what he drives, gets eight to ten miles per gallon on the highway, he boasted. The scientific evidence is in the form of a presentation given by some Canadian scientist who, if I heard it right, has a computer model that predicts that every 50 or so years there is a shift in the ice sheet up north caused by the winds. The ice up there has repositioned itself, not melted, according to this scientist's predictions. If Rush mentioned any actual field experiments to support this computer model, I didn't catch it. But for Rush Limbaugh conservatives, I guess that wouldn't really be needed. All one needs to do is change the consensus.
It certainly must be nice to live in a world where anything that challenges your preferred perception of reality can be whisked away in minutes by your favorite radio talk show host. It doesn't matter what it is either. If it challenges the conservative consensus of today's reality, Rush can simply brush it right off the canvas with one wide brush stroke. That probably isn't a good analogy, though, since Rush seems to despise the liberal art appreciating types.
Oh and then there was the report on philanthropy that puts the blue states near the bottom of the list despite the fact that blue states are home to the wealthiest Americans. It seems that many of the southern states are at the top of that list, states like Mississippi and Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee... Bible belt states. I wonder if tithing is considered philanthropy in this survey. Is tithing philanthropic?
I listened to a little bit of Howie Carr on the way back home. Howie is out of Boston, a red in a blue state. He seems to find no end to red callers from these blue northeastern states too.
After I had changed the station over to Steven King's classic rock station in Bangor, an interesting thought came to me. I've had quite a few discussions recently with conservative-minded people. One thing seems to be nearly universal with those discussions. I think we all know that any one of us could go into a home for the mentally challenged and strike up a conversation about the current state of affairs in the world. We might even be able to win an argument and convince one of these people that our own vision of reality is more likely than theirs. But what is the point? Even if we did manage to do that, how long would that reality last for them? That's what it's like talking with conservatives.
Conservative reality is based on the conservative consensus. It has very little to do with objective reasoning. It is a reality of the moment based on what is most convenient at that moment. If, God forbid, it becomes necessary to change that consensus, to change reality, it is done in quantum leaps so the change is almost unseen, unexperienced. The reality of Iraq prior to March 2003 was hugely different from the reality of Iraq in February 2003 as we now see it. Prior to the war, Saddam had huge stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and was on the verge of producing nuclear weapons which he could share with terrorists. That was our reality based on the Bush/Cheney administration's assertions. But now the reality is that there were no such stockpiles. However, there didn't need to be any. The danger was that Saddam would have had the money and the freedom to create them if he had been allowed to stay in power. That is a major reality shift and there are many Americans left of Bush/Cheney who realized it. But the conservatives made that shift without losing stride. Conservatives made a quantum shift from pre-2003 reality to post-2003 reality without ever even looking back. It's almost as though pre-2003 never even existed. It's Orwellian. It's nuts! But it happens every day in conservative consensus driven American reality.
It happened several times over with the controversy over the missing 380 tons of explosives in Iraq. It happened with Bush's military records. It happened with Kerry's Vietnam service. It happened on 9/11. It happened with Abu Ghurayb, Zarqawi, bin Laden, Valerie Plame... It happened with the Pentagon colonel who was caught by the FBI transferring Iraq War plans to the Israelis. Where is the outrage over that? Where is the outrage over any of these scandals? In every case, conservatives shifted their consensus to create a new reality in which none of these were scandalous. Did you catch what I just said? Conservatives changed the reality that we live in and almost nobody took notice.
The funniest part of all of this is that it is the people who do notice the change who are seen as the crazy ones. 1984 anyone?

Old Computers New Computers

I never get my hands on any really awesome computers. That's probably a very good thing too since I am basically a simple man. I'm not sure I'd be capable of even running a power house computer. But so far, that's worked out fine for me. Only the simplest of computers fit my budget and the same holds true for the few folks who ask me to help them with theirs. But I find even the simplest of computers daunting at times. Yesterday was a case in point.
On Monday, I went to the big city (Bangor is big here in Maine) and bought the components of a basic home network to expand on my recent addition of DSL to our home. I bought a basic "Wireless -B" router with 4-port Ethernet switch, wireless PCI card, and wireless USB adapter, all three made by Linksys. Monday night I found that I couldn't get the router configured without tech support from Verizon. Nothing in the Verizon documentation that came with the DSL modem related to the technicalities of hooking up a router for home networking and I couldn't find anything at the Verizon website about it either. Tuesday morning I called the Verizon tech support line and was walked through the router setup. It's simple if you know the settings, impossible if you don't.
Then it was time for the wireless adapters. I installed the wireless PCI card first in my daughter's Windows 98 computer. What seemed like it should be a simple operation, install the card, install the drivers from the CD, turned out to be something close to impossible. First, if I had read the instructions, it was 1, install the software and then 2, install the card. So I had to undo what I had done and do it the Linksys way. But that failed too because after the card was installed the second time, Windows "found new hardware" and demanded that I give it the Windows 98 CD which is nowhere to be found. I don't think there ever was one for this PC. It came with a restore disk instead and the install wizard doesn't know what to do with that disk. But despite my failure, the wireless link does occasionally work. My task, though, is to obtain a Windows 98 SE CD and attempt the driver installation again.
After that, I attempted to hook up the USB wireless adapter to my own computer. I got this adapter to free my computer from the DSL modem but also to allow me to connect any computer that I might bring home to work on to the DSL modem. It appears that this isn't as easy as it seems it should be. The router won't connect this adapter to the Internet unless I set a fixed IP address and state the router's network IP address in the TCP/IP properties control panel for this adapter. Obtaining an IP address automatically just doesn't seem to work on this thing. But with those settings I was finally able to connect to the Internet using the wireless USB adapter.
Then I had trouble when I disconnected that adapter and reconnected the Ethernet card to the router's 4-port switch. It took a few runs through the Internet Explorer "Internet Connection Wizard" and at least one reboot of the computer to get that back in operation and even then the Internet was slow for awhile before the dust finally settled. I suppose there must be some way to set the TCP/IP addresses, DNS, Gateway, fixed network IP, all that jazz. But it looks like maybe I'll need to make a call to the Linksys tech support to get it all figured out. I won't do it, though, until I have a good solid shopping list of problems needing solutions. There seem to be enough problems to warrant a list.
Then there are the struggles I'm having at the public library. One is simple enough. I replaced an old computer that is used to check books in and out at the front desk. The first problem I encountered was that I couldn't seem to locate a driver for the 15-inch flat panel display. Nothing I tried worked including drivers downloaded from the Samsung website. Somehow I managed to get the computer in a condition where I couldn't switch out of VGA 16 color mode no matter what I did. The solution, wipe the hard drive clean and start over. Fortunately I had another hard drive to copy so that was easy enough.
But then another problem surfaced. Neither the original nor the replacement computers had sound cards but the library software uses bleeping sounds at critical moments of the barcode scanning process. The sounds are made by the system speaker. Unfortunately, the new computer didn't have an actual on-board speaker, only a weak little transducer soldered to the motherboard. It wasn't loud enough for the librarians to hear the warning bleeps.
I got the bright idea that if I installed a sound card and speakers in the new PC, the library catalog software would use that instead of the internal system sound. But even with the sound card installed, configured, and operating, the library software wouldn't pick it up and I couldn't fine any setup to switch it over. So that meant a call for technical assistance. After a quarter hour or more on the phone, we concluded that, as we say here in Maine, "You can't get theyah from heyah." It isn't supported.
My solution, take out the new PC and box it up in the storage room and put the old one back. The librarians are happy. I am happy. Problem solved. But I haven't discussed the solution with the library administrator yet. Maybe it isn't solved quite yet. Is there any way to get Windows to send all the low-level system sounds over to the sound card?
Then there's the Outlook Express or Outlook email client problem. I want to set up a system where the head librarian can access her email on two or more computers, accessing her mail from a common source, a secure shared folder on the main server. Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, forbids this in Outlook Express. According to all sources that I have found, it just can't be done even if the shared folder is mapped to a drive letter. Apparently the Outlook Express designers did this deliberately.
So I needed to find some way to export from Outlook Express, or Import in Outlook, all of the mail, then place the Outlook .pst file in the shared folder and see if Outlook would access that file across the network. I had problems:
1. Figuring out how to export/import to do the upgrade. It is possible but burried several layers deep in Outlook. God forbid that anyone should have more than one profile in Outlook Express too since the Import wizard doesn't seem to provide any navigation tools to locate the desired hard drive location and file set. It just locates a set and does the import no questions asked.
2. Figuring out how to relocate the Outlook mail file, the .pst file, to move it into the shared folder. Once again, Outlook just doesn't have the built in navigation tools to work with file locations. The solution is to move the .pst file in Windows with Outlook not running. Next time Outlook is run it says, to the effect, "Hey I can't find the file. What did you do with it?" Then it lets you browse Windows-style to find the file. What a clever way to accomplish things. Messy too!
3. Figuring out why, after I had succeeded in sharing the one common mailbox location with two computers across this network share, Outlook would not allow me to send or receive mail on the workstation. It keeps complaining that there is some registry problem with Internet Mail and I should remove and reinstall Internet Mail. Huh? Just how do I go about doing that? Neither Windows nor Outlook nor the books I have about these products nor the help systems give me even a hint what this is talking about or how to solve it. I moved the .pst file onto the workstation's hard drive, but that didn't solve the problem. I deleted and recreated the mail account but that didn't solve it. So it goes deeper than that. I am thinking that I might need to uninstall and reinstall Outlook itself. Can I do that without having to reinstall the whole Microsoft Office package? Time will tell. Meanwhile, that problem simmers.
So you see, it's probably a good thing that I don't have complex computer systems to tangle with. Even the simple ones challenge me beyond belief.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Balance on Current Account

Looking at this chart, can any financial guru out there explain to me what there is about this chart that registers good news for the US? How does this money get back into circulation in the US?
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/NETFI/108/10yrs

Witness

Guess what I did this morning? It's Sunday... is that a hint? Yeah, I went to church. Can you believe it? I rarely go to church, but I got the notion this morning that I wanted to see if the church was gloating in their moral victory with the re-election of Bush/Cheney. Little did I know that I was about to witness something of historic proportions!
When my wife and I walked in the church door, the first thing I noticed was the electric chatter of a happy gathering of people. They seemed more excited than usual but I thought maybe that's just because I hadn't been to church in awhile. Maybe they are a happier bunch than when I was last there. By the way, this is a Bible-thumping independent fundamentalist Christian church.
When the service began, there was the usual systematic self-gratifying singing and prayer. By systematic I mean that they do it the same way every Sunday morning and they do it in a way recognizable by members of nearly all such churches. By self-gratifying I mean that their attitude is primarily one of thank you God for loving me so much and for giving me so much and for protecting me so much. Thank you God for all the wonderful things You do for me and for being there whenever I need You.
There was the usual systematized "fellowship" programmed into the service where all the people get to get up and walk around and greet everyone and smile and hug and shake hands and say nice things and briefly chat for maybe five minutes.
But then it was the pastor's turn to talk. He had been away for a couple of weeks, actually at some church thing in England and Wales. This was his first Sunday back from that. The first thing he did was to explain that this wasn't his usual message, that he had something very different to say. He asked us to bear with him till he was done before we took anything he said out of context. He explained that while he was over in England he spent a lot of time driving around the country, a thousand miles of driving on gasoline costing $7.00 a gallon, time when he was free to think about the past couple of years. Then he dropped the bomb shell.
It seems that this shepherd pastor had been encouraging his flock to support the re-election of Bush/Cheney because they represented the moral Right. But, for some reason, he had changed his mind about Bush. (I'm thinking, oh, how convenient that he changes his mind within five days after the successful re-election!) So anyway, from a prepared list, he went on to explain all the reasons why he believes that Bush is embracing worshipers of false gods and false religions and even homosexuals. The congregation sat there dumbfounded...
Basically the message I got from this sermon was that the pastor was apologizing to the congregation for getting them to believe in Bush. Then he went on to explain that Bush just doesn't seem to be moral enough. He isn't as righteous as we are here in this church. He went on to explain how we have become comfortable in the world, how we have become like the world. He even ranted about how there are young women who come to church in short shorts and skimpy tops and how hard it is for a man to keep his eyes lifted upward when faced with that. Everyone in the church was either sitting completely still or nodding in conformity but the pastor saw me shaking my head no. I'm thinking, what next, burkas for the women in church? Isn't it time that men learned to control their emotions around beautiful women?
My first impression of the sermon was that there was something fishy about the whole session, but I didn't see through it right away. At first, I was thinking that the pastor had told the people that they had been blind to the truth, had been misled. In fact he had told them that they had been slumbering, not paying attention to the truth about Bush and our government. He did say, though, that he wasn't "Bush bashing" because Kerry wouldn't have been any better. But was he saying that his flock was somehow no better than the demon-worshipping unsaved? Was he saying that what is really important is for all of us to seek out the truth? Although at first I was wishing that was what he meant, after thinking about it for awhile I don't think that's what he was saying at all.
I think that what he was actually doing was teaching his people to disassociate themselves from the government that they had just worked so diligently to empower. He sees an approaching Nazi-like oppression coming, a day when we lose religious freedom, and he sees the current US government working toward that end. Apparently, up until just after the election he had not seen that danger, but now he does. His answer isn't to discover the truth, however. His answer is to rise above the fray. Bush isn't far enough to the right for us Christians. He isn't righteous enough. So our solution is to rise up out of the gutter and let the light of our own Christian righteousness shine. Those weren't his words, but when I think about it, that's the only thing I took away from this sermon.
There are times when I think the only thing lily white about Christians is their bullshit.
This is one of those times.
How convenient it is that a pastor can lead his church to support a satanic president's re-election and then not even a week after the victory have the entire congregation wash its hands of responsibility for anything bad that president might then do. How lily white pure of us, the righteous!
How arrogant and self-serving can a preacher get!!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Dogville

I rented a movie this evening and watched it with my wife and daughter. Nicole Kidman stars in it. It's an extremely strange and disturbing movie called Dogville. Very disturbing...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Baghdad Burning

Read the entry in this blog for Monday November 1 under the subheading "Some Terrorists..."
http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Low

There is something I need to get off my chest. It's something I have been intending to say for quite awhile, but now seems to be an appropriate time.
For all of my life I have been aware of an important principle and here it is. In this world there are no human beings any lower than men who profit from wars but are not willing to fight such wars themselves. Since most fighting men are best recruited for training when still young, ages 18 to around 26, that principle applies to them more than to anyone else.
Young men who profess the just cause of the Iraq war but are too cowardly or too full of self worth or self interest to risk their own lives for that cause will spend the rest of their lives crawling on their bellies. They are as cowardly as humanity gets.
If you think that I am being personal against you, forget it. First, this principle didn't originate with me. Second, you are far from alone in your cowardice. Many of the 59 million voters who approved of Bush/Cheney in 2004 are exactly your type of creep.
If you are of fighting age and you want to support the troops, then sign up or shut up.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Dark Time in America

Maybe it's just the November weather in Maine. Maybe that's why I am so depressed. Maybe I should be out hunting today rather than wallowing in dark thoughts about the future of America. Maybe that's the answer.
One thing I will do today is take that Kerry/Edwards sticker off the tailgate of my truck. I'll take the yellow Support Our Troops magnet off too, save it until there is a glimmer of hope that America might stop the war. I don't support the war and don't want anyone thinking I do.
There were calls from both candidates, the winner and the loser, to unite again as a country. Bullshit.
So where will I go from here. Where is the hope for sanity now? Where will my energies make a difference?
America declared on November 2 that truth and sanity are not welcome here. Lies, deceptions, greed in its many disguises... these are the rulers of the land and the majority of Americans have now shown that that's the way they want it. So where do I fit in this dark new America?
There is every reason to believe that America will dive deeply into the waters of war now. Our economy is already "recovering" as a wartime economy. War is good for business. Outsourcing of manufacturing jobs is leaving many young Americans in need of an income, enough need to get them to enlist in the wars. We all heard the promises not to use the draft to enlist our soldiers. If we actually do go ahead and engage Islam in the Holy War, if we follow that with the war to finally rid the world of socialism, as long as we outsource most of our low-skill manufacturing jobs, we should have no problem finding enough soldiers to die for our cause.
What I don't get is how the conservatives see that as something "bright." To me it looks incredibly dark and depressing.
Maybe I just need to take my gun and go shoot something. It's deer season in Maine.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Alien

I feel now like I am an alien in my own country.