Archive for January 2015

You’re Kidding, Right?   3 comments

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/nyregion/new-york-blizzard.html?_r=0

 

They shut down New York City for five inches of snow. They threatened people with arrest if they left their homes. Not only did they ban driving altogether, but they also banned walking.

For the record, it is -35* here in Fairbanks, Alaska . Yes, that is 35 degrees below zero, which is 67 degrees below freezing. It’s the coldest it’s been all winter (this being one of the mildest winters on record). Some of us were late getting to work because our cars don’t enjoy these temperatures, but everyone is here. Our kids went to school. Businesses are open. A lot of people will order-in for lunch today, which means the takeout guys will be working. I let the Labrador stay inside today because she’s not an Arctic breed, but the husky was curled up on her old armchair in the woodshed, happy as a husky in cold weather.

Fairbanks, unlike (say) Valdez, does not get huge amounts of snow most years, but occasionally we get two feet in a 24-hour period (Valdez has gotten two feet in a hour). When it snows here, traffic moves slower, but it moves. I work for Department of Transportation and all hands have to be on deck because we’re the ones who make the roads passable. Same when it decides to rain after winter has started. We have to get to work and we do.

DOT here in Alaska never tells people that they cannot drive. We occasionally close specific roads for specific reasons — avalanche danger, for example. We issue travel advisories suggesting extreme caution in certain conditions. State Troopers occasionally ask us to tell people not to drive. We decline and they wimp out on doing it themselves and people drive anyway. Then for a while, the Troopers will suggest that people “stay home if able”, until they get a new watch commander from the Lower 48 who has to learn the Alaskan way. He’ll request/demand, we’ll decline, his Public Information Officer will explain the nightmare of government ordering Alaskans to do (or not do) anything, and he’ll learn to suggest rather than order.

And absolutely no government agency here would ever think they had the authority to tell people they could not walk in the snow. Is there an occasional death of someone who drove their car off the road or fell in the snow and couldn’t get up? Yes … and that is the acceptable cost of freedom.

The shutting down of New York City for five inches of snow is a clear example of out-of-control government and people who do not push back when they should. It’s one thing for government to suggest you stay off the roads and even to warn that they won’t rescue you if you get yourself into trouble. That’s fair. But to order you to do it on pain of arrest … ???

You’re kidding, right?

Lela Markham Interviewed with Read Freely   Leave a comment

DSC01494http://www.readfree.ly/archives/12593/Kindle-eBook/must-read-lela-markhams-willow-branch/

Your Opinions, Please!   Leave a comment

Let’s discuss this. What do you think?

Medium & Message   Leave a comment

Marshall Mcluhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message”; a concept that revolves around the idea that the content of a communication product  is far less important than the medium under which it is produced. Mr. Mcluhan died in 1980s, so didn’t have the opportunity to see his philosophy writ large on the modern stage.

With the advent of instantaneous communication, we have become a generation of individuals who see all information as equally relevant and conversely irrelevant, often at the same time. Far too many of us lack the cognitive ability to discern the immaterial from the material. We have allowed the least talented amongst our populous to direct the course of our society and civilization through little more than the click of a button.

Listen carefully and you can hear Mcluhan laughing hysterically between bouts of grieving sobs.

What the hell is wrong with us?

When Mcluhan made his observation in the 1960s, television was replacing newspapers and magazines as the primary source of news and information for most of society. He was concerned to see that people were turning from indepth news coverage — available in print to one-minute segments of broadcast news. He recognized that the medium of broadcast was far more attractive than the message that it carried, no matter how stripped down and shallow that message had to be to meet the demands of the medium.  Mcluhan contended that print, by presenting information in ordered small bits, gave consumers the power to separate thought from feeling and led to the compartmentalization of knowledge that enabled Western man to specialize and mechanize. He saw promise in broadcast for engaging senses other than the visual, but worried that it would encourage emotional thinking while interfering with critical thinking.

I wonder if he would criticize how today’s massive cluster of impersonal notifications generated by social media sites has effectively desensitized us to the human condition. On any given day, my timeline is clogged dozens of personal causes and flag-bearers who have no active stance to take on a plethora of issues. Half the time, they clicked “Share” because they liked the picture and never gave any thought to the content. But if you try to point out any inconsistencies in whatever stance is portrayed, you quickly discover that this medium kills intelligent debate!  The moment an individual decides to set their words upon the infinite aether that is the online community, it becomes more fact than opinion. It’s as if we can no longer distinguish the two.

We live in a world of information bubbles and what we know about the world is largely self-selected, which is made possible by the power of the Internet. When we encounter someone we disagree with, we no longer assume that they lack knowledge that might change their opinion, but we now assert with great confidence that they are crazy, evil, stupid or in some other way defective. This allows us to adhere to our own opinions and not let any contravening facts get in the way of our certainty on any given subject.

Examples abound and some of these may be worth exploring in future posts.

Another Colorado Baker Faces Discrimination Charges   5 comments

I predicted this, by the way.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/01/22/this-colorado-baker-refused-to-put-an-anti-gay-message-on-cakes-now-she-is-facing-a-civil-rights-complaint/

I don’t know Bill Jack, the man who ordered the cake, but I suspect this was a set up to do exactly what he is doing, pushing this into the courts to force Colorado courts to a major decision.

The Masterpiece Cake case last year involved a Christian who refused to bake a “wedding” cake for a same-sex couple because he believes God does not want him to participate in homosexual activities even to this degree. Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission with the backing of Colorado courts ruled that Jack Phillips had no right to exercise his freedom of religion and opt out of same- sex weddings. He has since stopped baking wedding cakes altogether.

On the surface, Bill Jack did a deplorable thing. He asked the baker to bake a wedding cake that said “God Hates Gays”. You’ll have to look back in my blog for my full position on this, but God does not hate gays, only the sexual behavior gays participate in, and Christians are not called to hate, but to live in love with God, which will sometimes put us at odds with the world. While I fully support Jack Phillips’ right to practice freedom of religion and refuse to bake a “wedding” cake for a same-sex couple, I call Bill Jack a sinner for the hateful nature of what he requested. And I fully support Marjorie Silva’s right to refuse to participate in his act of hate.

But I suspect Mr. Jack is pushing an issue that needs to be pushed. I don’t think this is about hatred of homosexuals at all. I think this is about civil rights — the right of Christians not to participate in objectionable activities through our businesses.

Jack Phillips, the Masterpiece Cake baker, chose not to bake a cake because he believes God does not approve of homosexual lifestyles, including same-sex “marriage”. He further believes that he as a Christian should not participate in homosexual lifestyles, even by giving them the tacit approval of baking a cake for a same-sex “wedding. So he refused to bake a “wedding” cake. In doing so, he stood firmly on the 1st Amendment and the Bible. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission chose to ignore the long-established definition of “freedom” and forced him and his employees to submit to “reeducation” classes and promise to be the go-to bakery for gay wedding cakes.

Now Marjorie Silva is making a stand on her right not to inscribe a hateful message on a cake. I fully support that decision and for the same reason. If Mr. Jack wanted his anti-gay cake, he could have found another baker willing to do it for him or taken Silva up on her offer to provide the tools for him to do it himself. Instead, he filed a civil rights complaint. The article I am posting insists the cases are different. I would argue that they are not. It really comes down to this:

If Christians can be forced to participate in the activities of the world that we consider to be sin — if we have no freedom of conscience to refuse — than we have no freedom of religion and we might as well be living under a totalitarian state.

In fact, I would argue that we are living in a totalitarian state and just haven’t acknowledged it yet. If you belong to a marginalized minority — which is what Christians have become in this nation — you do not have the same standing before the courts as someone who is a member of a protected class of citizens.

This case is going to prove that.

I predict the Human Rights Commission and the Colorado courts will rule in favor of Marjorie Silva, the owner of Azucar Bakery. They will pontificate that Silva was exercising the correct sort of conscience and therefore had every freedom to deny Bill Jack service. In doing so, they will make it clear that Christians are no longer considered equal citizens who have a right of conscience unless they align their beliefs with the current worldview.

See also —

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/supreme-court-wont-review-new-mexico-gay-commitment-ceremony-photo-case/2014/04/07/f9246cb2-bc3a-11e3-9a05-c739f29ccb08_story.html

 

Wine Cellar by Paul Militaru   Leave a comment

wine cellarhttp://photopaulm.com/2015/01/24/wine-cellar/

http://photopaulm.com/

How I wish Alaska had such beautiful architecture!

Posted January 24, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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The Jewel of Jordan   Leave a comment

Jane Bwye

We trudge for two and a half miles through the dramatic Siq, leading to the ancient Nabataean town of Petra. A narrow passage through the rock.

119 Horse and trap

Mohamed urges us from one talking point to another, barely waiting for stragglers before starting his spiel.

124 First sight of the Treasury125 Pinker

The Treasury appears, rose-red between the rocks. Awesome. Photographs cannot do it justice… nor words describe.

The locals ply a great trade with horses, carriages, donkeys, mules and camels up and down the pathway, kicking up red dust, and creating a bustle with their bargaining.

128 Beyond the Treasury133 A veritable treasure

We come to the Theatre, and the Colonnaded Street. Intriguing caves, and rock tombs look down on us. I don’t have the energy to explore up there; I know I won’t be able to face the laborious uphill slope back to the entrance. Towards the end, a young lad latches onto me, offering his grey donkey for the return journey.

“Shouldn’t you…

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Posted January 24, 2015 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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