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I have spent more than twenty years of my career helping human services and early education agencies all around the country with administration of childcare programs and everything related to it.

My customers are child advocates who have dedicated their lives to breaking the cycle of poverty in our country, and helping young children get out from under the yoke of economic oppression and sometimes misfortune. They are dedicated to the welfare and safe-keeping of young children, and they are passionate about it. Their work means everything to them.

I cannot imagine what it must feel like for them to be forced to be complicit with state-organized and state-created child abuse and human trafficking, because that is exactly what I think is going on in our country now.

These child advocates are now finding themselves in a position to have to search for care and safety for thousands of children who should be with their parents, but have been kidnapped by our government. This is a crisis entirely of our own making.

We have lost our moral authority.

The United States used to be John Winthrop’s Shining City upon a Hill, and we came after countries for human rights violations. Then it started to get shaky when Bush and Cheney started openly torturing people. McCain, a torture victim himself, spoke out against the practice. Once we tortured our prisoners, every American soldier, upon capture anywhere, would then have to fear to be tortured him or herself.

Now, with open racism, and state-enacted kidnapping, child abuse and human trafficking, taking children, even babies, away for their parents with no hope of reunification, we have lost all moral authority for decades to come.

It will be a very long time before the United States can lecture a rogue dictator for human rights violations. It will be a very long time before we can justify invading a country because it abuses its own citizens. We have given up this bargaining chip. It will be generations before our representatives, our presidents, can walk into a room again and command moral authority, and stand on the principle that the United States does the right thing.

I am disgusted with my government that commits crimes against humanity. I am disappointed with my fellow citizens who support these practices by propping up the Little Man in the White House.

Make America Great Again?

Right now, I am ashamed for my country!

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“Hey, he is the head of a country and I mean he is the strong head,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Steve Doocy on the White House lawn Friday. “Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”

— President Donald Trump

It is obvious that our president is impressed with dictators. I wonder who he thinks “my people” are. I hope the doesn’t think I am “his people.”

It is simple, Mr. President: All you have to do is arrest and execute a few of “your people” when they don’t sit up at attention when you speak, and you’ll quickly see changes.

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Trump and Crimea

Trump Told World Leaders Crimea Is Russian Because Everyone There Speaks Russian.

Maybe that means that the United States and Canada, except for Quebec, should belong to England, since we all speak English!

Yeah! Go Trump!

 

 

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In 1939, they called places like this Concentration Camps. What do we call them now?

To be fair, this picture is from 2014, when Obama was still president. We have done this for a while.

I wonder what the conditions are like now?

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Browsing Facebook this morning I found that there was a Fahenweihe this weekend in Illkofen, my childhood village in Bavaria. The word Fahenweihe means the “ordination of the flag” or “blessing of the flag.” This usually takes place at significant anniversaries of clubs, mostly of the volunteer fire department.

Here is their brochure and program for the weekend. Illkofen, when I grew up, was a little village in the heart of Bavaria with perhaps 250 souls. Today it may be 400 or 500. For a Fahnenweihe they have a serious program of religious services, dances, a parade, and lots of beer and Bratwurst. The celebrations go on all weekend, and as I am writing this post, the beer tent is probably teeming with serious music and drinking.

The beer tent is a tent put up for the weekend, similar to those we’ll find at county fairs in the U.S. They have a band stand at the end, a dance floor in the middle, and rows of picnic tables on both sides.

In the picture above you can see the ceremonial tapping of the first keg. The people in uniform in the back are not soldiers. These are firemen in their dress uniforms. It’s all about the 150th anniversary of the Freiwillige Feuerwehr Illkofen (volunteer fire department of Illkofen).

One of the highlights of the event is the parade, which takes place on Sunday afternoon. The local village invites the fire departments from many surrounding villages for the parade. A small village may send a handful of people. Large villages can send dozens of them. They come with all their pomp and glory, in full uniform. The parade, of course has a marching band, and then, one by one, the clubs march by. Each club brings their flags which are carried in front of the group by one of the members. Then, in front of each club, a boy is assigned to carry the “sign” identifying the club, usually the village name.

And now comes the part about reminiscing about my childhood.

I came about this Facebook post of the 150th anniversary by accident, but in the summer of 1968, when I was just going on 12 years old, the Freiwillige Feuerwehr Illkofen had its 100th anniversary, and I was there.

The interesting and exciting part for the local boys at a Fahnenweihe is this: the boys get assigned villages for which to carry the signs. They are called Taferlbuam, which is a Bavarian slang term for sign boys. You won’t find that in any dictionary. It is tradition that the visiting club tips the Taferlbuam for their services of carrying the sign, and invite them to eat and drink with them after the parade in the festival tent. The larger the club you are assigned to, the larger the likey tip, since they just pass one of their hats around the membership and collect. So if each person of a large club just puts a few bills into the collection, it can make for a massive tip for a 12 year old boy. There was quite some competition amongst us boys for the assignment. Everyone wanted to be assigned to a large club. I don’t know who does the assignment, probably the fire captain, and I don’t remember the name of the club I was assigned to. It was medium sized and I remember having a pocket full of money and being happy.

The sign boy gets to sit with the club in the festival tent and celebrate. Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and a roll are consumed, all paid for by the club. And the beer flows freely.

And now, my American reader, you have to set aside your customary puritan views about alcohol and youth drinking, as it is tradition in Bavaria that the poor sign boy not only walks away with a pocket full of cash, but that he is also completely and thoroughly drunk. In fact, I may venture to say that a Fahnenweihe could well be the first introduction to serious alcoholic consumption to young Bavarian boys.

It was certainly so for me. I don’t remember much about the festival tent. It does not take too much beer to make a 12 year old drunk. I remember somehow making it home, which was only a few hundred yards away. I remember throwing up violently. I remember wallowing and writhing in pain in the grass in the yard of my house in the sunny afternoon, with my sisters and mother looking over me. I remember being so sick, so wasted, that I was sure I was going to die. I remember begging my sisters not to leave me alone, because dying alone would be too frightening.

Eventually, somehow, I got over it and I am sure I slept a long time. I could not even smell beer without gagging for years afterwards. I may have made it to age 15 or so before I took another sip.

Interestingly, an American reader might be shocked and worried about the abuse of alcohol by youth, but I can assure you after inductions like these, there is no mystery about alcohol.  Alcoholic binging that occurs with American young people when they finally reach legal drinking age does no happen there. It’s all too common and by then many have lost interest. As a result, by young people getting acclimated to alcohol as they grow up, the lure is less intense. I am not saying one system is better than the other, but I can say that my experience contributed to very modest alcohol use over the course my own life.

And this was my childhood reminiscence that was prompted by an innoccuous Facebook post about the Fahenweihe in Illkofen 2018 that took me back into my childhood to the summer of 1968.

 

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Due to the wedding there has been a spotlight on the British royal family. I have absolutely no interest in things royal, and I have not paid any attention to the wedding. However, one of the blogs I follow – Know it All – published some interesting rules the royal family has to follow. That, I found, was interesting enough for me to reblog here. You can click on the link below to get to the original post.

 

1 – When the Queen stands, you stand. When the Queen stands, it’s protocol for everyone to follow. 2 – No one can eat after the Queen has finished her meal. When dining as a family, after the Queen has taken her last bite, everyone needs to stop eating. 3 – Bowing and curtsying is […]

via 50 Strict Rules The British Royal Family Has to Follow — Know-It-All

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Back during the campaign days in the summer of 2016, Trump accused Clinton of being crooked because the FBI was investigating her use of email, in particular as it related to classified information being stored on a private server. Trump then said Clinton was not eligible to be president because she was under investigation.

Now Trump found out that the FBI, approximately at the same time, was investigating people in his own campaign for what appeared to be improper connections with a foreign adversary. For that he calls the FBI crooked. In tweets he blames the FBI and Obama for not coming to him and letting him know.

Really?

First, should the FBI, an agency charged with protecting the American people from criminal activity really go to every suspect and warn him that he might be under investigation? At the time, Trump was one of many candidates. He just had some bad apples in his campaign, many of which have meanwhile plead guilty. There was smoke, and now we have proof that there was fire.

Second, what’s the bigger potential crime? Being careless with classified email or purposely colluding with a foreign adversary to subvert the American election system? Regardless of the size of the crime, the FBI did its job properly, investigating both leads.

Third, the FBI, charged with protecting the American people, did exactly what its mission is: to investigate suspicious activity. Trump’s people, his children, his employees, and possibly himself, conducted what now looks like illegal activity. Rather than dealing with the cause of why the FBI was checking into his campaign at the time, he distracts us and points to the FBI as being crooked and conducting illegal activity.

I only see deliberate deception by Trump.

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I have always been interested in illusions, mostly optical ones. In recent days, the auditory illusion of Laurel and Yanni has swept the Internet.

The control below does not work in some older browsers, like IE11, but it does work in Chrome. If you can’t use the control, just click on the link below it, and it will launch your audio player.

Audio Player Version of Yanni and Laurel

What do you hear?

Some people hear “Yanni” and others hear “Laurel.” I mostly hear Yanni.

You can play it over and over again, and it’s always the same.

Well, almost.

And this is what freaked me out completely: Yesterday, when I first found this link and played it on my iPhone, I heard Yanni EVERY TIME. Trisha heard Laurel EVERY TIME.

Then, for kicks, while I was reading in bed some hours later, I heard Laurel. Every time. I could not unhear Laurel and go back to Yanni. I have discovered, two days in a row now, that during the day I year Yanni, and late at night I hear Laurel. Consistently. I cannot “switch” to the other when I am in one mode.

I am a Yanni and Laurel bipolar.

I found this tool, published by the New York Times, where you can slide a bar and hear the change. Using it, I could find the transition and then slowly force my brain to hear the other side.

This makes me think about testifying in court. One person will say they swear the suspect said his name was Yanni, and the other Laurel, and both are right.

Scientists explain that this is due to the frequencies being right between the two, and the brain is trying to make sense of it. So it picks one or the other. It’s equivalent to the visual illusion where you see two vases or two faces silhouetted. Or even the old 3D illusions that were popular some 20 years ago, where you see 3D objects floating in front of a field of grainy colors. The brain constructs something that makes sense and it works.

Fascinating indeed.

 

 

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Here is an insightful essay about Michelle Wolf’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner – the one that Trump didn’t have the guts to attend two years in a row, written by one of my favorite Alaskans. Here is the punchline:

The Republican Party didn’t have to put a living joke in the White House; they didn’t have to support a man so corrupt and so incompetent that every spokesperson for him has had to bend over backwards lying for him only to find the man debunking their own spin even as they spin it. They didn’t have to make themselves so contemptible.

For the rest of his post, click on the link below.

The second most memorable thing Michelle Wolf said at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was that; “people are saying America is more divided than ever.” Okay, at face value, the line itself isn’t all that memorable, but her speech and the reaction to it fairly illustrate the very point, which is memorable in my book. […]

via Hypocrisy Howled at the Wolf — northierthanthou

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This is me. I just discovered that Facebook has labeled me “liberal” (red arrow). I never told it what I considered myself to be. It just decided that. I am sure it used this when it sold my information to the Trump Campaign through Cambridge Analytica.

It also knows I have an iPhone 6 Plus (green arrow). Never told it that, either.

And most scary, it knows I am a frequent traveler (purple arrows) and that I just came back from a trip two weeks ago.

What I want to know: What does it know and track that it does NOT tell me on the site?

If you want to check out what it thinks about you, go to:

Account Settings ~ Ads ~ Your Information ~ Your Categories ~ US Politics

Maybe it’s time to get off of Facebook?

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Contraband in my House

Some time ago I posted this about a disallowed showerhead in my house in California. And several years before that, here is the story about Sorpresa Huevos, also too dangerous to ship to us.

Well, here is another one:

We wanted to get a nice set of fireplace tools for our fireplaces. I went to the local Home Depot and couldn’t find anything. They told me I had to buy them online. Amazon had a nice selection, and when I tried to order, it didn’t allow me to ship it to California. Neither my work nor my home address worked. I figured out that there must be some kind of regulation against fireplace paraphernalia in California. I can only assume that the state wants to discourage the use of fireplaces (and burning of wood), so they figured they’d make it hard or impossible to buy fireplace tools.

I tried to google for answers, but could not find anything.

I ended up having the set shipped to our office in Ohio, and then I picked it up on my next trip there and checked it as luggage.

If only I had asked to have AR-15s shipped to me, I am sure that my constitutional rights for firearms would have ensured delivery. But “fire” arms is a different thing than a dangerous and insidious set of “fire” place tools.

Now there is contraband in my house.

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The Inverse of a Concept Does Not a Concept Make

What would you do if you were confronted with this icon – without context:

If you are anything like me, you would be bewildered. I would have no idea what this icon is trying to tell me.

The problem is, it is the inverse of a concept, and unfortunately, the inverse of a concept is not a concept in itself.

Scroll down for the solution to this mystery

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Ah, one of the trash cans is a recycle bin, and the other one has the recycle indicator crossed out.

That one trashcan alone would not make any sense.

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Here is a worthwhile post from a conservative blogger I follow. There are some things I appreciate about Trump — did I really just say that? — but this is one of them. We need  to stop sending American money by the container-load overseas, where it provides fodder for corruption, and where it creates its own subculture of dependencies.

Read the Chiefio’s post and marvel for yourself!

$Billion to Palestine? For what? Dear Mr. Trump: Just stop sending our money to people who hate us. Please.

via $3/4 Billion for Palestine? WTF? — Musings from the Chiefio

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I have never liked the ubiquitous supermarket reward programs we have in this country.

When I go to the supermarket, I want to pick my groceries at the posted prices, go to the cash register, pay and leave.

Instead, many of our local stores, like Vons and Ralphs (and many others) ask whether I have my rewards card with me. When I say I don’t, they ask for my phone number, because my number is associated with my account, and presumably me, and they can use that to look me up. Of course, since I don’t have an account, my phone number won’t work either.

So I do not get the best price. I pay more, sometimes significantly more, for my articles.

Why?

I do not pretend to know all that is behind this strategy, but obviously the stores want to know my identity to they can track my buying habits. I don’t cooperate because I am not a card-carrier and I object to being tracked. (Yes, I know, it’s  ridiculous, since I conform in many other areas…)

But here is my point: Whatever the stores are intending with this is not working. That I know for sure.

When I was at Ralphs the other day buying Christmas wrapping goods, my bill came out to be $10.58. The cashier asked me for my rewards card. I didn’t have one. He was nice to me, so he pulled out his own key chain and scanned his card for me. That reduced my bill by a total of $2.00. Not an insignificant percentage, just for carrying a card!

I was happy. I “saved” $2.00.

When I left the store I looked at the receipt:

My friendly checkout clerk has a rewards number ending in 8826 (blue box). By giving me my discount of $2.00 (green box) he added 8 points to his own rewards account (red box). I don’t know what that means, but I am sure it eventually results in some discount or other benefit.

This cannot be the intent of the Ralphs rewards program. They have no idea who I was and what I bought, but they gave me the discount, and they gave their employee the rewards points.

I prefer grocery stores that give everyone a good price without these crazy games.

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