Archive for March, 2013

I have written before about the concept of setting aside a week to reflect back on a series of events that all happened to have occurred in that calendar week, but in different years.

At the end of January, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) honors those astronauts lost during the Apollo I fire (1967), the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion (1986) , and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster (2003).

My previous post postulated creating a Loss and Remembrance Week during April 16 through 22 to remember those taken away and affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech (2007), the siege at Waco (1993), the bombing in Oklahoma City (1995), and the shootings at Columbine High School (1999).

This post is to offer up this current seven-day period as War Week (March 19 – 25) where we can reflect on the meanings, morality, consequences, etc., of the armed conflicts entered into by the United States of America. This week was picked because of a trio of anniversaries that fall within this timeframe:

…March 19, 2011 – The United States (along with others) begins military action against Libya;
…March 20, 2003 – The United States begins military action against Iraq; and
…March 24, 1999 – The United States (along with NATO allies) begins military action against Yugoslavia.

I understand that allies help allies because that’s what friends are for. However, I can hope that in the future that the next time some provocation comes our way that instead of firing up the troops, maybe we can just walk on by and avoid the deja vu of deaths upon deaths. For that hope, perhaps I will say a little prayer during this War Week.

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For those of you who haven’t checked your tickets yet, all of you who selected the “March 5” slot on your “When Will Hugo Die?” sweepstakes card can collect your winnings courtesy of last week’s announcement.

I have written before about how a certain ex-news anchor made a prediction about when the Venezuelan leader would pass and about how far off the mark Mr. Rather was.

This is a follow-on post to document the results of another person who predicted when Hugo Chavez would succumb to his cancer. Our subject for today’s veridiction (my completely fabricated name for the process of verifying predictions) is Venezuelan doctor Jose Marquina (who works in the United States). In December of last year, Dr. Marquina told a Florida radio station that Chavez had “between two and three months to live”.

When Dan Rather made his prediction, his source also said that Chavez had between sixty and ninety days left on the planet. However, that was guess was made back in May of 2012 and Chavez continued on far past that milestone.

So how did Dr. Marquina do? His timeframe of morbidity places Chavez’s expiration between February and March of 2013.

It appears that Dr. Marquina was spot on.

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The controversy has been out of the news of late – Mitt Romney hasn’t been talking about firing Big Bird and National Public Radio hasn’t fired anyone for their views – but I wanted to write about federal funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB).

First, though, some givens that I want to set up front for this piece. According to this October 2012 article from ProPublica, the CPB was set to $445 million over two years. For simplicity sake, I will cut that number in half and assert that the CPB was scheduled to receive $222.5 million for a fiscal year.

Second, funding cuts both ways. When the government hands out money – as in the case with CPB or any other organization or agency, it can be said to be funding that entity. Likewise, if the government grants a tax break to an organization or agency, it is in essence funding that entity also because the government is letting that group keep money that it would have paid out. If the feds grant me a tax credit or exemption of $100 on for IRS 1040 form, it is the same as if they had given me $100. So, the federal government can subsidize something by giving it money or by not taking away money that other groups have to pay.

While doing a bit of research for this post, I came across this piece by David McElroy. One part of his argument about government funding for CPB is “…the problem would be that government is funding a mechanism that influences our culture.”

Okay, so the feds should be out the business of funding those groups that influence culture. Check.

Another line of reasoning follows the thread that federal funding should not go towards groups and organizations that espouse views different from the author’s. Mostly this thread comes from conservative or right-wing writers who see National Public Radio and other CPB outlets as having a leftist or liberal bias (here and here and here).

Okay, so the feds should be out the business of funding organizations with an obvious bias and holds views that I do not believe in. Check.

With the above “checks” in mind, let me propose a fair swap of funding subsidies.

I will gladly trade CPB’s annual $222.5 million and I will do by utmost to pick up the tab for the programs I enjoy (Marketplace, Studio 360, Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, etc.)…

…if you agree that the federal government should stop subsidizing religion to the tune of $71 billion (yes, with a “B”) per year as determined by this study. The federal government funds religious organizations by giving them tax credits in the form of deductions for charitable donations and for exemptions from paying property taxes.

Religion influences culture. Check.
Religion – especially the non-Jewish ones – have a bias and hold views different from my own. Check.

Religion fits both criteria above as held by those authors who want the federal government to stop funding CPB.

I realize this means that my synagogue will have to come up with some extra funds, but just like NPR’s Morning Edition, I will be there to help them out during their annual pledge drives.

If you don’t think this plan would work, you should have more faith.

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Following on the news that President Obama has named Ernest J. Moniz to be the new head of the Department of Energy, I thought I would take this opportunity to traipse through the DoE website.

One of the items I found on the Department’s “Maps” section was the Alternative Fueling Station Locator.

If perhaps you are interesting in purchasing an electric car and want to see how many charging stations are in your ZIP code, this map will help out. In my old stomping grounds of Northern Virginia, this map shows that there are ten battery recharging stations within ten miles.

I also found out that in my older stomping grounds (Southern California), there are only eight places to refuel in all of Los Angeles and Orange Counties if your vehicle runs on liquified natural gas (LNG).

However, if your car of choice runs on hydrogen, then you only have ten (there’s your number for the day) stations throughout the entire country.

Take your pick of these ten

Take your pick of these ten

So, please, plan your trip with your hydrogen car carefully.

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…using the elevator to go up or down only one floor will be prohibited.

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