Sunday, October 31, 2010

These bombs were placed in Photo Copiers with PETN explosive in the Toner Cartridge and the electronics as a circuit board in a printer being shipped.

Investigators examining explosives found in packages intercepted in Britain and Dubai suspect the material, preliminarily identified as PETN, points not only to the role of an al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen but to a sophisticated bomb-maker who last year sent his brother to his death in an effort to kill a Saudi prince.

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a 28-year-old Saudi national who is on that country's most-wanted list, secreted a PETN-based bomb in a body cavity of his younger brother, Abdullah, who pretended to be turning himself in. The bomb killed his brother and wounded Mohammed bin Nayef, a top counterterrorism official and Saudi royal.

Asiri, who is based in Yemen, is also believed to have built the underwear bomb that a Nigerian man trained in Yemen attempted to detonate last Christmas Day on a commercial aircraft approaching Detroit. That device also contained PETN, or pentaerythritol trinitrate. "He is certainly someone we are focused on," a U.S. official said of Asiri.

Both packages were shipped from Yemen, where officials said Saturday that they had arrested a woman suspected of mailing them. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told reporters in the capital, Sanaa, that the United States and the United Arab Emirates had provided information that helped identify the woman, who was arrested at her home in Sanaa. Yemeni officials told the Reuters news agency that the woman, who was not named, is a medical student in her 20s.

A British minister said Saturday that the bomb, found in a package destined for a Chicago synagogue, was "viable," and could have exploded and brought down the UPS plane that was carrying it. "We do not believe that the perpetrators of the attack would have known the location of the device when they planned for it to explode," said British Home Secretary Theresa May. That suggests the device could have exploded automatically rather than be detonated remotely.

Officials, however, declined to describe the trigger mechanism, and noted that a forensic investigation continues. A second package was found at a FedEx facility in Dubai, and authorities there said the device, skillfully built inside a printer cartridge, contained an electric circuit and a cellphone chip. The powerful devices were designed to beat airport scanners, officials said. "The targeting manner carries characteristics similar to methods previously carried out by terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda," authorities in Dubai said in a statement. U.S. officials said the packages were intercepted following a tip from intelligence officials in Saudi Arabia.

An official from a country involved in the investigation said the Saudis first warned the United States that dangerous packages had just left Yemen, and that officials in several countries then reacted with great speed. The official contrasted that with the investigation of the Christmas Day bombing, in which communications failed at numerous levels. The White House said that President Obama called Saudi King Abdullah Saturday to thank him for his country's "critical role" in breaking up the plot.

The president also spoke to British Prime Minister David Cameron. Speaking to reporters at his country residence outside London, Cameron said: "We believe the device was designed to go off on the aeroplane. We cannot be sure about the timing when that was meant to take place." Both packages were addressed to synagogues in Chicago. U.S. officials said they were not yet certain where the bombs were designed to explode or whether the synagogues were, in fact, the intended targets.

U.S. officials said they also didn't know whether the synagogues were chosen because they are located in Obama's hometown, or how they were selected at all. A number of U.S. citizens hold prominent roles in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, including the American-born cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, a leading ideologist and operational planner. The group has proven to be very media-savvy, producing an online English-language magazine called "Inspire" and uploading video with English subtitles to YouTube.

The al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen is largely autonomous from the group's central leadership, now believed to be headquartered in the lawless tribal region of Pakistan near the Afghan border, when it comes to making operational decisions. U.S. officials said the Yemeni group is viewed as an increasingly potent threat, open to all tactics in order to strike a blow against the United States.

Since the attempted Christmas Day bombing, the U.S. has announced it will significantly increase military aid to a government that does not control large tracts of its own country. In addition to the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen's weak central government is dealing with a secessionist movement in the south of the country and a civil war against Shiite rebels in the north U.S. officials have debated whether to deploy armed CIA drones to the country, but Saleh, in a brief news conference Saturday, rejected any foreign intervention

. "We do not want anyone to interfere in Yemeni affairs by hunting down al-Qaeda," said Saleh, whose 32-year-long rule has been marked by authoritarianism and human rights abuses, according to Western groups such as Human Rights Watch. Authorities in Yemen said Saturday that they continued to search for other suspicious packages. A U.S. law enforcement official said authorities here now believe they have identified and cleared all packages mailed from Yemen in the same period as the bombs.

The U.S. Postal Service announced Saturday that it has temporarily suspended acceptance of inbound international mail originating in Yemen. Britain and France also suspended air freight from YemenHomeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on CBS's "Early Show" Saturday morning that the "plot does have the hallmarks" of an attack by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. She also said on CNN that the parcel bombs appeared to contain PETN.

We know aviation continues to be a target, we know the system continues to be looked at by our adversaries," said Napolitano. Current and former officials who have worked with explosives said the bomb-makers showed skill at their task. "There is some sophistication, as far as the knowledge of being able to put it together," said David Williams, a retired FBI agent and explosives expert who investigated the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

He said the PETN explosive was probably stripped out of a commercial product like a detonating cord. But it is also possible the bombers made a batch of PETN themselves, said Williams, who now runs the International Counter Terrorism Consulting Group, based in Harwood, Md. "If you could make moonshine, you could make PETN," he added, noting it involved distillation, the combination of various chemicals, and a chilling process.

One federal law-enforcement official said the bomb-maker could have obtained the PETN from a government munitions program or a mining company, or could have figured out how to manufacture it. Richard Reid, the British "shoe bomber," also carried a device made with PETN when he attempted to bring down a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001. Williams said the latest bombs sent from Yemen differed from the device carried by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the alleged "underwear bomber," because they used electronics rather than a chemical reaction to detonate the explosives.

The mail bombs had circuit boards, and a cellphone battery could have been the power source for the blast, Williams said. If al-Qaeda is the culprit, it appears to be the first time the group has attempted to use the mail to deliver an explosive, Williams said. "It seems like a logical progression," he added, saying the bomb-makers figured out that there was less screening of packages than of passengers.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Looks like Deborah McAlister Holland found a simple solution... well, done!

For a while, the carbon amplifier patented by Siemens played a major role in hearing aid technology and significantly raised the volume of hearing aids.

The electrical energy controlled by the carbon microphone was not fed to the receiver directly. It first drove the diaphragm of an electromagnetic system connected to a carbon-granule chamber. Current was transmitted across this chamber from the vibrating diaphragm electrode to the fixed electrode plate.

The amplified current produced mechanical vibrations in the electromagnetic hearing diaphragm that were then transmitted to the ear as sound.

My old Neighbors in Fort Worth: Shirley and Dr. John E. Johnson ... went to school with my father Dr. V.M. Holland

Fort Worth Library Archives
M. Shirley Johnson Papers
Mary Shirley Jimerson Johnson, 1924-2007. Mary Shirley Jimerson attended school in Auburn, Nebraska where her father was superintendent of public schools. In 1943 she attended the University of Texas at Austin, Texas where she met her future husband of 61 years, John E. Johnson. In 1969 Shirley and John moved to Fort Worth where she was not only socially and civically active, but received numerous awards and recognitions. Her many accolades include president of the League of Women Voters of Tarrant County, Texas; she served a term on the Fort Worth City Council; in 1993 she was named as an Outstanding Woman of the Year of Fort Worth; served on the Community Action Agency; and the Community Development Council. For most of her adult life Shirley was involved in politics and the Democratic Party. She began the Wednesday Lunch Bunch, a politically conscientious watch group, which met in the Johnson home for many years. Shirley was an active member of First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth and she and John served as sponsors and mentors to the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Fort Worth on international trips.

The M. Shirley Johnson Papers were donated to Fort Worth Library Archives September 19, 2008 by her husband, John E. Johnson, Jr., Tarrant County, Texas.

Scope and Description
The Johnson Papers consists of 16 boxes or 6.5 linear feet of materials. The collection is divided into seven series: Biographical; Subject; Travel; Journal Articles / Newspaper Clippings; Photographs; Memorabilia; and Oversize. When possible the collection was left in the original order received and using the folder titles established by daughters who organized the Johnson papers before donation. Comprehensive dates for the collection are 1945-2007 with the bulk of the materials 1960-2005.


The Biographical series contains awards and recognition materials; career and professional documents; correspondence; greeting cards; Delphi Study legislative materials; and vital records.


Included in the Subject series are documents on campaigns; the City of Fort Worth; civic organizations; the Democratic Party; Texas Women for the Eighties; Wednesday Lunch Bunch; and Women to Remember.


Contained in the Travel series are materials and photographs on trips with the Youth Symphony of Fort Worth to Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; trips to Acapulco; Australia / New Zealand; Canada; Colorado; Germany; Hawaii; Mississippi; and Russia.


Newspaper clippings and journal article topics include City of Fort Worth council actions and personnel issues; political and campaign articles; and cultural pieces.


The Photograph series topics include campaign; politics; Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church; and family friends. Photographs related to trips are located in the Travel Series.


The Memorabilia series consists of badges; membership cards; and campaign and miscellaneous buttons.


Included in the Oversize series are a scrapbook / photograph album; a chalk and watercolor sketch; campaign signs; North Fort Worth Architectural / Historical Survey and Adaptive Reuse Studies; and bumper stickers.


Story Blog of a New Zealand Mantis named Leftina....

On March 08 2009 I came home to find this mantis in my kitchen . I noticed it had a bad left claw so I called it "Lefty" assuming it was male . I decided to help 'him' and offered a moth which was snatched out of my fingers and devoured .

Ok. You got your picture, so take me down now...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

R.I.P. Paul the octopus: Tentacled World Cup prognosticator passes away in German aquarium

Paul, the octopus whose correct predictions of the outcomes of eight World Cup 2010 games fueled his meteoric rise to stardom, has died at the ripe old age of 2 1/2.

"He appears to passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes, and we are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here and that the care provided him by our dedicated displays team could not have been bettered," Stefan Porwoll, manager of the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, said in a statement.

Paul, who was born in the U.K. but spent most of his life at the German aquarium, made his famous predictions by selecting a mussel from one of two clear plastic boxes, each marked with the flag of one of the teams playing in a World Cup match.

His knack for picking the winning team earned him the adoration of legions of soccer fans, but he became especially popular in Spain after he picked the country's national team to beat Germany in a semifinal matchup. Later, he chose Spain as the winner of the final game against the Netherlands.

The Madrid Zoo even attempted to convince the Oberhausen aquarium to let Paul move to Spain, either temporarily or permanently, but the request was denied. The Sea Life aquarium also turned down a number of offers of further publicity for Paul, such as opportunities to expand his prognosticating career into other realms. "He won't give any more oracle predictions -- either in football, nor in politics, lifestyle or economy," Sea Life spokesperson Tanja Munzig told the Associated Press after the World Cup. "Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh."

It's unclear how the aquarium will memorialize the invertebrate.
"We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within out grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine," Porwoll said. "While this may seem a curious thing to do for a sea creature, Paul achieved such popularity during his short life that it may be deemed the most appropriate course of action."

Paul's fame will help other marine life; donations made in his name are helping to fund the construction of a sea turtle rehabilitation center on the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Another octopus, also named Paul, will take his place on display in Oberhausen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Conservative-Progressive and an ode to the Compassionate Conservative we never saw in President George W. Bush...

Interesting monograph on the Theme of Conservative - Progressive


The following poem is composed entirely of actual quotes from George W. Bush. The quotes have been arranged for aesthetic purposes by Washington Post writer Richard Thompson. Too good (or too excruciatingly bad) not to share.

by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses.
Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize Society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

More George W. fumbles:
I think we agree, the past is over.--President George W. Bush, Dallas Morning News, May 10, 2000
I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question—President George W. Bush, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, October 4, 2000
They misunderestimated me. –President George W. Bush, Bentonville, Ark., Nov. 6, 2000

And a political classic:
I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.--Robert McCloskey, State Department spokesman

Friday, October 22, 2010

Groundbreaking on the presidential library is set for Nov. 16, and the building is expected to open in 2013.

SMU's Meadows Museum will preview Bush library artifacts

The exhibit, which is free, will run through Feb. 6.

Saddam Hussein's pistol and the bullhorn used by former President George W. Bush at Ground Zero are among the artifacts that go on public display this weekend at a new exhibit at Southern Methodist University.

The show at the Meadows Museum, which opens Saturday, is designed to provide a glimpse of some of the items that will eventually be part of the Bush presidential library center at SMU.

The 20-minute preview showcases some of the thousands of items – and millions of pages of documents – that are temporarily warehoused in Lewisville until the library is built.

National archives officials searched through crates to find exhibit items that they said had become icons associated with the Bush administration, such as the bullhorn he used to talk to rescue workers in New York three days after the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

"His first visit – a very memorable moment," Alan Lowe, director of the George W. Bush presidential library, said while pointing to the bullhorn at a media preview Thursday.

Other items on display, which were chosen for their historic significance, include:

• The unloaded pistol U.S. forces confiscated from Saddam Hussein's lap when he was pulled out of a spider hole near Tikrit, Iraq, in 2003.

• The fleece sweatshirt Bush wore when he threw out the ceremonial opening pitch at Game 3 of the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium, just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. The moment was considered a symbol of the nation's desire to return to normalcy, and spectators chanted "U-S-A!" as Bush left the pitcher's mound.

• A sapphire and diamond jewelry set given to Laura Bush from Saudi Arabia.

• Barney and Miss Beazley's Air Force One dog bowls, complete with presidential seals.

• A letter from U2 lead singer Bono (with a handwritten note to first daughters Barbara and Jenna) thanking Bush for his work to relieve suffering and poverty in Africa.

• The silk dress and Oscar de la Renta bolero jacket worn by Laura Bush at a White House dinner with Queen Elizabeth II.

• Painted wood White House Easter eggs.

• Handwritten notes made by Bush as he prepared to make a statement immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Yesterday we watched George W. Bush's gripping book trailer. And this weekend on the campus of Southern Methodist University, a preview exhibit of his presidential library opens. It will show just how much ass he kicked while in office.

The exhibit at the university's Meadows Museum, called "Breaking New Ground: Presenting the George W. Bush Presidential Center," will feature mementos from the Little Bush presidency like the bullhorn he used to address rescue workers at Ground Zero, and a pistol that Saddam Hussein was carrying when he was apprehended in 2003. And really, that shit in Iraq is totally over, so what's wrong with showing off some spoils of war?

A lot, actually, says Tex Sample, a Methodist Church elder:

"I hope that a bullhorn will not become the symbol for the entry of the United States into an unjustified war and that a pistol of Saddam Hussein's is not seen as some strange symbol of victory in that horrendous misjudgment. That these should be the symbols of the values and commitments of the Bush administration and should now become the face of Southern Methodist University is cause for alarm."

Tex ain't happy, but the student body VP told the Times that Bush choosing the university for the site of the library is "an incredible honor."

The exhibit will serve as a preview for the upcoming George W. Bush Presidential Library, which will break ground at Southern Methodist University on November 16.

We can't wait to see what else makes it into the museum.

Road trip?

A RESPONSE to the George W. Bush Library & Policy Institute Groundbreaking

A peaceful, nonviolent march and rally will coincide with and protest the George W. Bush Presidential Center groundbreaking in Dallas on November 16, 2010. Join us for a series of events that will move us toward accountability for the past and democracy for the future!

Accountability is the hallmark of a mature democracy: no one is above the law! Remind past, present and future administrations that the truth cannot be buried or changed, and warn the public that the same ideologues who crafted the Bush policies of the last decade will be writing a script for our future. Will this think-tank develop the same kinds of policies that brought us pre-emptive war, economic crisis, environmental disaster, unprecedented presidential power, and diminished civil and human rights? Act now! History is already repeating itself!

Events are planned in Dallas for November 14 -17, 2010, with the march and rally on the 16th. Join us!

Speakers will include: Col. Ann Wright, Dr. Robert Jensen, Ray McGovern, Rev. Dr. William McElvaney, Hadi Jawad, Representative Lon Burnam, Diane Wilson, Marjorie Cohn, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, and Debra Sweet.

Sponsors and endorsers include: Texans for Peace, North Texas Progressive, The Dallas Peace Center, North Texas Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Denton, Code Pink Greater Dallas, The Peace Center, Arlington, Code Pink Ft Worth, After Downing Street/War Is A Crime, Waco Friends of Peace, Code Pink Houston, Austin Veterans for Peace, The Austin Center for Peace and Justice, Code Pink Austin, Progressive Democrats of America, the Robert Jackson Steering Committee, Dallas ISO, United for Peace and Justice, World Can't Wait, Under the Hood Cafe.

Disastrous Programs Already Launched by the Bush Institute Pre-Groundbreaking

•A plan to put retired military personnel and others with no teacher training or experience in charge of running U.S. public schools.
•Promotion on the Bush Center website of the supposed need for a federal law preempting state restrictions on oil and gas drilling.
•Bush is giving speeches saying his greatest failure was not privatizing Social Security, even though that would have meant destitution for millions of elderly Americans.

Items Unlikely to Be Found in the Bush LIE-bury

Dick Cheney's papers
The 35 Articles of Impeachment
Video of Congressman Dennis Kucinich reading all 35 articles
Statements in support of Bush's impeachment
The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush
The 269 War Crimes
U.S. v. Bush
Historians' ranking of Bush as worst president ever
The Downing Street Minutes
The White House Memo

Quotes That May Not Be Carved into the Bush Center's Walls

“I’d take ’em out, take out the weapons of mass destruction . . . I’m surprised he’s still there." -- Bush in December 1999.

"Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy." -- Minutes recording British spy chief's understanding of White House policy. July 23, 2002.

"The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach." -- Minutes recording Bush's suggestion to Prime Minister Tony Blair of a way to start a war. January 31, 2003.

“What’s the difference? The possibility that [Saddam] could acquire weapons, if he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger.” -- Bush to ABC News. December 16, 2003.

"I'd do it again to save lives." -- Bush on torturing a man nearly 200 times with waterboarding. June 2, 2010.

“History? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.”

-- Bush on how history will judge the War on Iraq.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Mystery of Edison's Light Bulb and how it got screwed... Or was it Lewis Latimer that got screwed?

As I was growing up in East Texas, my father (Dr. V.M. Holland) made it a point to show me the importance of learning history.

When this could be related to invention and tools, that really got his passions stirred up, "Fred, what do you think that tool was used for on a farm?", he would ask me as we walked through a museum or sat down at at a cafe table and looked up a the old farming tools pegged to the walls. "That is a _______, and I used to use it to _______, when I was going up. Notice the _________, that made it easier to ______________."

As a high science teacher, I lived out my dreams of being a scientific researcher or a great inventor like Thomas Edison, who was one of my childhood heros.

In science, there is a distinction made between "science" and "technology", technology being only the application of true science. It is implied that technology is some how less than science, which encompasses the actual discovery of the knowledge that leads to the practical application of that knowledge, which is invention. Invention is technology. Most of my life has been around the promotion of technology and not it's invention.

One of classroom assignments given a science teacher is the promotion of monthly education history months, like National Black History Month, for my example here.

Most high school science teachers blow off this task as "too elementary for high school instruction... grade school stuff... they should all ready know that...".

Some truth to that, Middle school science teachers get all the fun stuff to do with real kids:

It appealed to my historical interests , so I used it as a "warm up" or "bell ringer" activity at the start of a class during the month with some historical theme to the scientific fact or an inventor who might have the nationality of the month's theme. This is how I first learned about Mr. Lewis Latimer.

I found Lewis Latimer, while I was teaching at Ole South High School, Home of the Colonels, in Garland, Texas, which is actually only one street away from Dallas, Texas. I pulled him up with a Google search on the key words "black inventors" and up popped this guy named Lewis Latimer, whom I had never heard of in my life. It seems that he invented the screw fitting on the bottom of Edison's incondescent light bulb. What I found more interesting is that he was a practical sort of inventor, and that fits well with my Scottish ancestory, whch prides itself on being both practical and inventive as well as thrifty

Lewis Latimer developed the screw in base and socket while working to install the first electrical lighting projects in major American cities. Imagine for a moment having to tie in or solder thousands of light bulbs to light streets, public buildings, and private homes.... then, imagine the nightmare of having to go back and re-wire or re-solder the ones that would eventually burn out, and at this time, they burned out too frequently. His mother of invention for both the filament improvement and the screw in base fittings was his actual field experience doing the wiring and repairs for lighting for public and private customers. Good concept and a good story to tell, so I used it.

"So, when you tell a "How many _____ does it take to screw in a light bulb" joke, you are actually joking about a Latimer screw-in light bulb... " was the conclusion to my warm up on that class day.


1. Thomas Edison’s Incandescent Light Bulb

“The Wizard of Menlo Park” has many inventions to his credit—an electric vote recorder, the phonograph, a telephone transmitter—but his most famous was the light bulb. He scribbled more than 40,000 pages full of notes and tested more than 1,600 materials, everything from hairs from man’s beard to coconut fiber, in his attempts to find the perfect filament. In 1879, he finally landed on carbonized bamboo and created the first modern-looking light bulb—filament, glass bulb, screw base and all. The light bulb was manufactured by Corning, a leader in glass and ceramics for the last 159 years.

(Negro Classic?)

1. Lewis Latimer's Light Bulb Screw Type Base Design

(and improved filament for refinement of Edison's Light Bulb)

Lewis Latimer is considered one of the 10 most important Black inventors of all time, not only for the sheer number of inventions created and patents secured but also for the magnitude of importance for his most famous discovery. Latimer was born on September 4, 1848 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. His parents were George and Rebecca Latimer, both runaway slaves who migrated to Massachusetts in 1842 from Virginia. George Latimer was captured by his slave owner, who was determined to take him back to Virginia. His situation gained great notoriety, even reaching the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Eventually George was purchased by abolition supporters who set him free.

In 1876, Latimer was sought out as a draftsman by a teacher for deaf children. The teacher had created a device and wanted Lewis to draft the drawing necessary for a patent application. The teacher was Alexander Graham Bell and the device was the telephone. Working late into the night, Latimer worked hard to finish the patent application, which was submitted on February 14, 1876, just hours before another application was submitted by Elisha Gray for a similar device.

In 1880, after moving to Bridgeport, Connecticut, Latimer was hired as the assistant manager and draftsman* for U.S. Electric Lighting Company owned by Hiram Maxim. Maxim was the chief rival to Thomas Edison, the man who invented the electric light bulb. The light was composed of a glass bulb which surrounded a carbon wire filament, generally made of bamboo, paper or thread. When the filament was burned inside of the bulb (which contained almost no air), it became so hot that it actually glowed.

Thus by passing electricity into the bulb, Edison had been able to cause the glowing bright light to emanate within a room. Before this time most lighting was delivered either through candles or through gas lamps or kerosene lanterns. Maxim greatly desired to improve on Edison's light bulb and focused on the main weakness of Edison's bulb - their short life span (generally only a few days.) Latimer set out to make a longer lasting bulb.

Latimer devised a way of encasing the filament within an cardboard envelope which prevented the carbon from breaking and thereby provided a much longer life to the bulb and hence made the bulbs less expensive and more efficient. This enabled electric lighting to be installed within homes and throughout streets.

Latimer's abilities in electric lighting became well known and soon he was sought after to continue to improve on incandescent lighting as well as arc lighting. Eventually, as more major cities began wiring their streets for electric lighting, Latimer was dispatched to lead the planning team. He helped to install the first electric plants in Philadelphia, New York City and Montreal and oversaw the installation of lighting in railroad stations, government building and major thoroughfares in Canada, New England and London.

In 1890, Latimer, having been hired by Thomas Edison, began working in the legal department of Edison Electric Light Company, serving as the chief draftsman and patent expert*. In this capacity he drafted drawings* and documents related to Edison patents, inspected plants in search of infringers of Edison's patents, conducted patent searches and testified in court proceeding on Edison's behalf. Later that year wrote the worlds most thorough book on electric lighting, "Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System."

Lewis Latimer was named one of the charter members of the Edison Pioneers, a distinguished group of people deemed responsible for creating the electrical industry. The Edison Electric Lighting would eventually evolve into what is now known as the General Electric Company

But today if you google "Black Inventors" you find another, newer website called:

Black Invention Myths

(We want our ALL WHITE American Myths Back?)

Perhaps you've heard the claims:

Were it not for the genius and energy of African-American inventors, we might find ourselves in a world without traffic lights, peanut butter, blood banks, light bulb filaments, and a vast number of other things we now take for granted but could hardly imagine life without.

Such beliefs usually originate in books or articles about black history. Since many of the authors have little interest in the history of technology outside of advertising black contributions to it, their stories tend to be fraught with misunderstandings, wishful thinking, or fanciful embellishments with no historical basis. The lack of historical perspective leads to extravagant overestimations of originality and importance: sometimes a slightly modified version of a pre-existing piece of technology is mistaken for the first invention of its type; sometimes a patent or innovation with little or no lasting value is portrayed as a major advance, even if there's no real evidence it was ever used.

Unfortunately, some of the errors and exaggerations have acquired an illusion of credibility by repetition in mainstream outlets, especially during Black History Month (see examples for the traffic light and ironing board). When myths go unchallenged for too long, they begin to eclipse the truth. Thus I decided to put some records straight. Although this page does not cover every dubious invention claim floating around out there, it should at least serve as a warning never to take any such claim for granted.

Each item below is listed with its supposed black originator beneath it along with the year it was supposedly invented, followed by something about the real origin of the invention or at least an earlier instance of it

Not Now. Not Ever School of Thought

1. Lewis Latimer's Screw Socket for Edison's Light Bulb


The earliest evidence for a light bulb screw base design is a drawing in a Thomas Edison notebook dated Sept. 11, 1880.

It is not the work of Latimer, though:

Edison's long-time associates, Edward H. Johnson and John Ott, were principally responsible for designing fixtures in the fall of 1880. Their work resulted in the screw socket and base very much like those widely used today.

R. Friedel and P. Israel, Edison's Electric Light: Biography of an Invention, (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1986).

The 1880 sketch of the screw socket is reproduced in the book cited above*.

* Something tells me that 1880 sketch might have the initials of Lewis Latimer on it in the legend or the margins, as more than just the drawsman that drew it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I spend a bit too much time on FaceBook these days, but I did find this one intersting.....

Things obama has done

I'm sick and tired of people asking "What has Obama done?" So here's a list of things he's done since he's been in office.

Remember: He was elected President. He wasn't elected Jesus!

The list is still growing. Let me know if I missed anything.!/pages/Things-Obama-has-done/457458970505?v=wall

1. Saved the collapse of the American automotive industry by making GM restructure before bailing them out, and putting incentive money to help the industry

2. Shifted the focus of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan, and putting the emphasis on reducing terrorism where it should have been all along

3. Relaxed Anti-American tensions throughout the world

4. Signed order to close the prisoner “torture camp” at Guantanamo Bay

5. Has made the environment a national priority, and a primary source for job creation

6. Has made education a national priority by putting emphasis and money behind new ideas like charter schools, but speaking directly to school children in telling them they have to do their part.

7. Won the Nobel Peace Prize

8. $789 billion economic stimulus plan

9. Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court

10. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles

11. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans

12. Renewed dialogue with NATO and other allies and partners on strategic issues.

13. Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force… this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.

14. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops

15. “Cash for clunkers” program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulates auto sales

16. Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan

17. Closed offshore tax safe havens

18. Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan

19. Ended media “blackout” on war casualties; reporting full information

20. Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts

21. . Ended media blackout on war casualties and the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB.

22. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules

23. Ended previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings

24. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports

25. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created 2.1 million jobs (as of 12/31/09).

26. Ended previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions

27. Ended previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back

28. Ended previous policy on torture; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards

29. . Launched to track spending from the Recovery Act, an unprecedented step to provide transparency and accountability through technology.

30. Ended previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry’s predatory practices

31. Ended previous “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date

32. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources

33. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient

34. Established a new cyber security office

35. Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children

36. Expanding vaccination programs

37. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses

38. . Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans.

39. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research

40. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools

41. Responded with compassion and leadership to the earthquake in Haiti

42. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters

43. . Launched – enabling conversation and online collaboration between small business owners, government representatives and industry experts in discussion forums relevant to starting and managing a business. Great for the economy.

44. Improved housing for military personnel

45. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals

46. Changed failing war strategy in Afghanistan.

47. Improving benefits for veterans

48. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) after years of neglect

49. Donated his $1.4 million Nobel Prize to nonprofits.

50. Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program

51. Provided tax credits to first-time home buyers through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 to revitalize the U.S. housing market.

52. Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel

53. Increasing student loans

54. Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit loved ones

55. Cracked down on companies that deny sick pay, vacation and health insurance to workers by abusing the employee classification of independent contractor. Such companies also avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers.

56. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000

57. Limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House

58. Protected 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors through the Recovery Act that would have otherwise been lost.

59. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration

60. Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act on February 4, 2009, provides quality health care to 11 million kids – 4 million who were previously uninsured.

61. Lower drug costs for seniors

62. Making more loans available to small businesses

63. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration

64. . Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis

65. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals

66. New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans

67. Announced creation of a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for members of the U.S. Armed Forces to improve quality of medical care.

68. New federal funding for science and research labs

69. New funds for school construction

70. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending

71. Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices

72. . Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals.

73. Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren’t even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan

74. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions

75. Provided tax credit to workers thus cutting taxes for 95% of America's working families.

76. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic

77. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research

78. . Helped reverse a downward spiral of the stock market. On January 19, 2009, the last day of President Bush's presidency, the Dow closed at 8,218.22. In February 2010, the Dow closed at 10,309.24 In October 1010, the Dow closed above 11,000...

79. Renewed loan guarantees for Israel

80. Restarted the nuclear non-proliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols

81. Provided attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles.

82. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters

83. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy

84. Unveiled a program on Earth Day 2009 to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our ocean’s vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner.

85. Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program

86. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards

87. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced

88. Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job

89. The FDA is now regulating tobacco

90. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date.

91. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010

92. The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying

93. The “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed

94. US financial and banking rescue plan

95. US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast

96. . Signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop fraud and wasteful spending in the defense procurement and contracting system.

97. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office

98. Improved relations with Iran

99. Improved U.S. policy on climate change

100. Set timetable for exiting Iraq (already started removing troops)

101. Improved relations with Russia

102. Improved relations with the Islamic World

103. Made progress towards grater cooperation on limiting nuclear proliferation

104. Economic stimulus plan has created jobs. (Unemployment rate decreasing)

105. Drastically slowed down the recession

106. Saved Wall Street

107. Passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act (equal work for equal pay)


Once again, this is a lot to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
He was elected President, he wasn't elected Jesus!/pages/Things-Obama-has-done/457458970505?v=wall

What did you say? THE Dallas Morning News Endorses Bill White for Texas Governor...what about Gov. Good Hair?

Texas' longest-serving governor is so certain his tenure should be extended that Perry has glided through this re-election bid with an impervious air, shrugging off tough questions and offering few specifics. Trust me, Perry tells voters, I know what I'm doing.

But in fact, Perry, 60, has done relatively little during a decade at the helm of state government. He can lay claim to few signature achievements. He lacks allies in the Legislature, and whether the issue is school finance, transportation or juvenile justice, he has not managed to see needed reforms through to conclusion.

The Republican governor is counting on the state's relatively strong economy to secure his third full term in office. But Texas' business-friendly environment predates Perry and will extend beyond his time in office. And now, with a deficit of up to $21 billion looming, more than budget bravado and a "taxes bad" mantra will be required to keep Texas on solid financial footing.

The state needs a solutions-oriented leader who is focused on bolstering Texas – not on doing battle with Washington.

Record of pragmatism
Democrat Bill White is better-suited to steer this ship of state through the challenges ahead.

The former mayor of Houston is a fiscal conservative with a progressive bent. He's more pragmatic than partisan. He's proven himself competent in business and in public office. Indeed, he's a bit of a throwback – in the best Texas tradition of the businessman governor.

We don't make this recommendation lightly. This newspaper has a long history of recommending Rick Perry for office against Democrats ­ from agriculture commissioner to the governor's office. But Texas requires a different kind of leadership at this important juncture.

Bill White is an entrepreneur and an energy expert who succeeded in the private sector before branching out into public service. White, 56, has no use for Perry's swashbuckling, coyote-shooting style. The Democratic candidate is meticulous and analytical, hesitant to overpromise but determined to solve Texas' most pressing problems.

As Houston's mayor, White proved himself to be adept at balancing budgets, managing to cut property tax rates repeatedly. He drew national acclaim for his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

And White laid waste to the idea that environmentally friendly policies inevitably were bad for business – a myth that Perry perpetuates as he fights to maintain Texas' right to pollute with impunity. In Houston, White struck a careful balance, proving that a city could go green and still be open for business.

As governor, White would be well-positioned to deliver in areas where Perry has fallen short.

For example, Texas' transportation infrastructure needs are daunting and urgent. Yet Perry seems to be stumped when it comes to offering workable funding options for building roads. The governor's go-to move is to blame Washington – and he does, for not sending more money. That's a fine lament, but it won't pay for any new lane miles.

White recognizes the need for new revenue sources and supports allowing counties to call elections to raise funds for transportation projects. This local-option approach has the support of North Texas transportation leaders but would stand a better chance in the Legislature with the backing of the governor.

The blurring of lines
During Perry's decades in elected office and two-plus terms as governor, ethical lines have slowly blurred as more and more high-dollar campaign donors have received appointments or state funds. Perry surrounds himself with a sea of people echoing his views. And he wields his power forcefully, making clear that those who dare to disagree with him can be replaced. When a Texas Tech regent endorsed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison in the GOP gubernatorial primary, he said he was pressured to resign by a Perry emissary delivering a definitive message: The governor expects loyalty.

Even more troubling is the governor's apparent loyalty to campaign donors. Perry has played a pivotal role in awarding millions of taxpayer dollars from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund to companies with investors or officers who also happen to be the governor's campaign donors – an uncomfortable and unacceptable arrangement that cries out for an overhaul.

Fortunately, White has outlined a number of ethics reforms that would change the way the governor's office operates. His common-sense proposals include limiting contributions from appointees, extending the waiting period before governor's staff members can work as lobbyists and requiring gubernatorial staffers to file personal financial statements.

While White is better-equipped to navigate the state's budget woes and handle a number of other difficult tasks, his ideas about education have disappointed thus far. He has complained about the emphasis on high-stakes testing but failed to offer a specific alternative that would hold schools accountable. White's views may yet evolve in the realm of education, and this one point of disagreement does not outweigh the Democrat's many other good ideas.

Perry's strident, tea party tone and strong-arm style won't serve Texas well for another four years. While White's focus has been on finding solutions in Austin, Perry has done little more than rail against Washington's problems. The governor's gaze seems to have drifted from the tasks at hand, as he openly discusses his aspirations of elevating his national profile.

White is right when he says that leadership has little to do with delivering a speech and much more to do with having a sense of mission. White is a man with a mission, a leader who will bring a purposeful determination to the governor's office.

Libertarian Kathie Glass, 57, a lawyer, and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto, 71, a retired teacher and business owner, also are on the ballot. But White's broad base of expertise and modern managerial style make him the best choice for governor and earn him our recommendation.

Dallas seems to be having a major out break of MRSA with school kids...

MRSA Cleaning Tips
As soon as you get home from the doctor with the diagnosis:
 Wash EVERYTHING that has touched the patient’s skin in hot water.
 Sheets, pillowcases, blankets, bedding. Add a plastic zipper-cover to the mattress in case MRSA is in the mattress.
 Clothing. Yes, even dark clothing. Then dry EVERYTHING to get that extra heat to kill the germs the wash didn’t get. Bleach EVERYTHING! This goes for the darks as well here. Use color safe bleach if it’s antibacterial. Throw away (in a sealed plastic container) any clothing or accessories (slippers, scarves, mittens, hats, ANYTHING) that can’t be washed and bleached.
 Shoes. (Spray inside and out with Lysol.)
 Bath mats, shower curtains, towels, washcloths, etc.
 Wash the infected person’s clothes, sheets, towels and wash cloths separately from others in the home. Do NOT put them into the same laundry hamper, or into any laundry hamper with holes (plastic or wicker). Use a SEALED air-tight laundry hamper until you launder the items, and always wash them in HOT water. (Yes, the darks, too, even if it ruins them. Not doing so can spread MRSA.) Clean the washer AND dryer after you wash their clothes. Use bleach or Lysol. If you use a laundry basket, CLEAN IT after you transport the person’s clothes to the washer (BEFORE you put clean, dried clothes into it.)
 Bedding needs to be washed and or at least changed every day when having an outbreak, and at least twice times a week when not having an outbreak. It’s important.
 Clean make-up brushes with bleach. Throw away anything you can’t clean with bleach (mascara wands, eye-liner pencils, lipstick or chap stick, etc.). Do not share cosmetics.
 Throw away that bar soap. Germs stay on bar soap, and can be passed along. Lever 2000 or Cetaphil are liquids that are safe and gentle on skin. Clean the dispenser every time it’s used with an antibacterial wipe or Lysol.
 Clean every surface in the home with bleach or spray with Lysol. No exceptions. Run the dishwasher at very high heat (with nothing in it except bleach). From floors to walls, every surface – including electronics – in the house has to be cleaned. If you can’t use bleach, use Lysol. If you can’t use Lysol or bleach, use anti-bacterial wipes (this works for computer keyboards, DVD players and other electronics you don’t want to get too wet.) Wear gloves, and THROW AWAY the sponge you use (in a plastic bag) after you use it. Do this once a week for at least a month.
 Spray the shower, toilet, bathroom and kitchen sinks, doorknobs, light switches, TV remote controls, bathroom scale, toothpaste tube, bathroom taps and faucets, towel racks, bookshelf, mailbox, house keys – any solid surface that the person with MRSA comes into contact with -- with bleach and let it sit for about 15 minutes before you clean it. This needs to be done after each time the MRSA patient uses the shower (or other solid-surface place) even when they are not broken out for at least 30 days after an outbreak. NO MORE BATHS. It spreads MRSA from one place to another on the infected person’s body. If you have a pool or Jacuzzi, drain it, wash it with bleach, and the infected person should not use it for 30 days after a physician says that they are disease free and not subject to future outbreaks.
 Soak combs and hairbrushes and any hair accessories (barrettes, pony-tail ties, clips, etc.) for at least 20 minutes in a sink filled with HOT water and at least one cup of bleach. DO NOT share hair accessories.
While the person is healing, and for at least 60 days afterwards:
 Dust the home daily. Dust carries dead skin cells and in turn these dead skin cells carry MRSA.
 DO NOT share razors, clothes, towels, wash cloths, drinks, food and so on with anyone who has had MRSA. (Just don’t do it.)
 Use Lysol like it’s going out of style. Spray down the phone, light switches, the key board and mouse, fridge door handle, door knobs, furniture, toilet, remotes, and so on. This needs to be done daily.
 Buy some antibacterial wipes and clean off the toilet and toilet handle after EACH use. They also should be used on shopping cart handles, books, TV remotes, on and off switches, refrigerator doors, and anything else you can think of that you touch with bare skin.
 Keep the sores covered at ALL times.
 While a person is broken out it might be a good idea to designate one seat in the living room just for them. Sharing that seat or part of the couch might be asking for problems. When they are done using it, spray it with Lysol.
 Take hand sanitizer EVERYWHERE. Use it when you sneeze or cough if you can’t get to a sink to wash. Sneezing or coughing is a smooth ride out for MRSA. MRSA is also airborne, so make sure you cover when sneezing and coughing.
 Carpets have to be cleaned after a MRSA outbreak. Rent a machine at the grocery store if you don’t own one, and add antibacterial soap to the mix.
 Don’t share or use roll-on deodorant. (It can pass MRSA from one arm to the other, and underarm lesions are painful.) Spray deodorant is a must. Don’t share even an aerosol spray with another person.

It can be ugly, Folks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

All PolitFact Check for Statements Regarding Bill White

All PolitFact Check for Statements Regarding Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry told the Newspapers of Texas: "You have out lived your usefulness ... I don't need your endorsements or your reporting..."

Candidates for high political office usually grovel for newspaper endorsements. Not Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Breaking from a decades-old tradition, the governor isn’t even bothering to meet with editorial writers, much less ask for their blessing.

The way Perry sees it, newspapers are old news and have lost much of their influence. In a rapidly changing media climate, Perry said he decided before the March primaries that seeking their endorsements was a waste of time. After winning by 20 percentage points, the governor said he sees no reason to switch strategies in his race against Democrat Bill White.

“The most prized resource that you have is the candidate’s time, and what is the best return on your investment that you can get with a candidate’s time,” Perry told The Associated Press. “It was a calculated decision, but you know the world is really changing, I mean, the way people get their information, who they listen to, etc. Put it all on the balance beam and the balance was toward not doing the editorial boards.”

Newspaper editorialists have responded to Perry’s snub with fury, accusing him of doing a disservice to voters by refusing to submit to unscripted questioning.

The staunchly conservative Tyler Morning Telegraph, which Perry once called his “favorite” paper, slapped the longest-serving Texas governor with a blistering front-page editorial on Sunday.

“Your position to not visit with the editorial boards of Texas newspapers may be astute politically, but it demonstrates a disregard for newspaper readers and voters across the state, who deserve to hear substance rather than silence,” the editorial said.

White — the former Houston mayor who has been endorsed by The Houston Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman, two of the state’s largest dailies in Democratic-leaning cities — said Tuesday that Perry’s “handlers are afraid of what he’ll say unscripted.”

Perry also drew an unusual rebuke from the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which called him “disingenuous” for saying he didn’t have time to take questions from its members when he spoke to their annual conference last month in Dallas.

“If the governor can’t take questions from the editorial board, from the press, on behalf of the public, it makes you wonder if they’re fit for office,” said Tom Waseleski of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, former president of the conference. “To out and out refuse to meet with editorial boards is cowardly and reprehensible.”

GOP voters are more inclined to view the media as hostile while general election swing voters may be more influenced by newspaper endorsements, said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Conn.

At least one other candidate, Florida GOP gubernatorial nominee Rick Scott, shunned editorial boards in the primary and has yet to schedule any meetings as he faces Democrat Alex Sink.

Brown said that candidates have previously avoided editorial boards during the primaries, but ignoring them entirely throughout an election could represent a new trend in the world of 24-hour news channels and Internet dominance.

“Before the Internet, newspapers in general were a bigger deal and their endorsements mattered more,” he said.

Seeking endorsements from the newspaper boards, made up of opinion writers, columnists and senior editors, is a traditional campaign ritual. It generally is done in a meeting that lasts an hour or more, and it’s not always a walk in the park. Republican political consultant Mark Sanders called it the “second most stressful thing a campaign has to go through,” behind debate preparation.

“You’re meeting with a lot of very smart, opinionated people who are just not going to take any guff off of the candidate,” Sanders said. “You’ve got to be very, very well prepared to go into an editorial board meeting.”

The intentional snub of the newspapers fits squarely with Perry’s damn-the-torpedoes style. He also has refused to debate White, and he hasn’t hesitated to break from other traditional campaign strategies. For example, Perry doesn’t send out direct mail and he will sell — but not give away — yard signs to supporters.

An independent group funded by an emerging Democratic money man has released a second full-page newspaper ad, capitalizing on Perry’s refusal to debate. The ad demands that Perry “FACE US.” The words appear over a dark, shadowy silhouette of Perry with his head down.

Someone suggested that this might be a California Voter going to the polls to vote FOR PROP 19

Don't Let Anything Stop You From Voting ...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Well, Folks, I have decided how I am going to vote... interesting piece in one of the local papers this week.

City Hall's Debate Over the Tax Hike Was About More Than Curtailing City Services.
By Jim Schutze

So, just for grins, let's do this. Let's take off our war helmets, put down our skull flails for maybe 10 minutes on this whole Dallas property tax hike issue and talk about something bigger.

So maybe if there's really such a thing as a culture war we can declare a culture truce. Let's bury the hatchet just long enough to ask the larger question: What do we want local government to do? What is it for?

Tax hike, no tax hike, whatever: Once local government gets our money, what should it spend it on?

In a way, the most important argument and presentation in the whole debate got passed over and sort of smushed out of view because people were so focused on the tax hike itself. I'm talking about the analysis city council member Angela Hunt presented on her website and again at the council horseshoe dealing with where the money goes.

Not how much money City Hall gets total. More a question of how City Hall divvies up the dollar bill once the dollar bill gets into City Hall's hands.

And before we get all wonky here, allow me to tell you in advance what we're going to see in Hunt's analysis: From 2001 to 2011 (projected), we will see a steep fall-off—almost off the edge of a cliff—in City Hall's budget for basic stuff like streets, parks and libraries. But, wait, that's only half the story.

We're also going to see a real spike—a growth by half again—in the amount of debt in the budget.

Let me point out another thing, before we get into the numbers. The question of debt and new construction was the one area where I thought the two sides probably exchanged the most truth and candor with each other.

I watched the debate at City Hall the day they voted. Hunt was forceful in making the case that borrowing for big-ticket items over the years has seriously eroded the city's ability to provide basic services.

Mayor Tom Leppert was equally forthright in saying he thinks debt and big-ticket items are the real determinants of the city's destiny, not the money the city spends to provide services and maintain the basic plant day-to-day:

"The choice is very clear," Leppert said. "We can put resources into short-term, into operating dollars that don't produce returns, that don't build the city, that are shortsighted." Or, he said, the city can invest in big long-range projects.

That may sound reasonable or unreasonable to you, I don't know. But in order to know what he's even talking about, we have to look to Hunt's numbers.

She did some real work. She searched city budgets back 10 years. She consulted the city's chief financial officer for advice on how to adjust the numbers—not with a common consumer-oriented inflation algorithm but with a formula devised especially for local government.

So with the numbers adjusted to reflect inflation, what Hunt found—and showed on charts last week at the council horseshoe—was that the total amount of money City Hall has on hand each year to spend on operations decreased by 17 percent from the 2001 budget to the 2011 upcoming budget.

But now look within that: The amount of money the city spends on street repair and maintenance decreased by 50 percent in 10 years. Half! Do you feel the warm glow of a great big light bulb going off behind your head?

Look, you have to think what I think, what everybody thinks when we drive down Dallas streets anywhere but in North Dallas residential areas. What the hell! How can it be this bad?

But there is the answer right there. We've cut the streets budget in half. We've cut the budget for parks and recreation by almost 40 percent, Hunt found. Libraries are down by almost the same amount.

This is the stuff that Leppert calls "operating dollars that don't produce returns, that don't build the city, that are shortsighted."

Where did that money go? The city didn't give it back to us. Hunt also showed that Mayor Leppert, in his first two years in office, presided over hefty tax hikes. So what did they do with the money they took out of streets, libraries and parks?

It went to debt. The share of the local tax dollar soaked up by debt repayment grew by half, from 14 percent of the total to 21 percent.

I believe I did begin this exercise by saying we would slip our blood-stained ball-peen hammers into our belt-loops and try to be fair to both sides, so I guess that means I have to be fair to Leppert.

He pointed out that the lion's share of the 2006 bond issue, which produced a lot of this debt, went to projects in the southern sector. It's not as if every penny of it went to rich-people playthings like the arts district.

But here is where it all does go. It all goes to construction. It all goes to building new stuff, not taking care of old stuff.

Leppert is the former CEO of an international construction company. He was a candidate with no experience in politics or public leadership, brought forward from political nowhere by the Dallas Citizens Council, a private group with strong ties to public works construction interests.

Mayor Tom Leppert sincerely believes that street repairs and library improvements are shortsighted goals for the city, but big construction projects are worthy investments in the future. It's really a cultural thing.
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July 22, 2010More About
Angela HuntTom LeppertDallas (Texas)TaxesPublic FinanceHe honestly believes that pothole repairs are "short-sighted." Libraries are "short-term." Recreation centers "don't build the city."

What does? Construction.

Leppert's point of view—the Citizens Council point of view—is not absent of merit. There is a value in new construction. But how much value? How should that value be balanced against the worth of a healthy and sound community?

One of the more compelling citizen speakers at an earlier City Hall hearing on the tax rate reminded the city council that in 2001 The Boeing Company chose Chicago over Dallas as its new corporate headquarters, going to a city with higher taxes than Dallas. As the speaker pointed out, Boeing cited basic amenities and cultural life as reasons for its decision.

I almost hate to mention that, however, because I am sure the Citizens Council types will say we took care of all that with the Calatrava fake suspension bridge. I don't think that's what Boeing was looking for.

This same larger question is beginning to be very important to the public school system. There is a keen awareness in the new anti-establishment coalition on the board that the school district has been too dominated for too long by people whose main interest is building new buildings.

This moment in the city's history may well be a kind of tectonic divide between two legitimate worldviews. On the one hand, you've got the people who agree with me. And then you have the screwballs.

Oh, no, wait, that was totally wrong. I'm trying to be fair. It doesn't come naturally. I can do better than that.

On the one hand, you've got people who really believe that quality of life is about new stuff. (Better? A little better? I'm not even going for 100 percent fair, anyway. Just fairly fair.) And then you have people who believe that the future, the glory and the destiny of the city are in rec centers, in libraries and, dare I say it? Potholes.

How do you do things their way, the pothole way? You take scabby old school buildings. Maybe fix them up a little. You hire great teachers and pile the classrooms full of books. You provide clean, open, safe parks where a working-class family can spread a blanket on the weekend, grill sausage and fly kites.

You keep lots of good cops around. You create well-stocked and staffed libraries that kids and adults and senior citizens can think of as extensions of their own private personal realms.

You put teeth and personnel behind code enforcement (and make it fair, so it can't be used as a political goon squad). And, by God, you fix the damn streets, so people aren't ashamed to drive through their own neighborhoods.

Those values do not make Mayor Leppert's values illegitimate. Values are seldom a zero-sum contest. Nor do those values diminish the importance of having people with business experience at the table.

What Hunt's analysis shows, I think, is not that the values of Tom Leppert and the Citizens Council are no good. It shows that things around here are seriously out of balance.

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, in the final debate, tried to explain how expensive new big-ticket luxury items such as the Calatrava Bridge and the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park look to people in neighborhoods where the infrastructure is falling down around their ears.

"When you look at Woodall Rodgers in that direction," he said, gesturing north, "it's beautiful. When you look at it in this direction (gesturing south), it's not."

Notice that Caraway didn't say the Woodall Rodgers Deck Park sucks (the line that came to my own mind). He didn't say people who like the deck park are stupid. He really only asked that they have some respect and a little understanding for people who do not see the city's destiny as determined by deck parks.

When all the dust and blood of the tax hike battle has fallen to the ground and the ground is quiet, then we should look at City Hall from arm's length. We should look at the school system. And we should ask ourselves if maybe we need a change of balance.

And then? Grab those skull-flails back up, people!