Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas and Gift Shopping and Blogging

The following is my response to a few comments that seem to be suggesting gifts or advertising time for their own products. A few of the comments have simply been denied posting. Some are not necessarily spam, but a real desire to communicate in a dialog. In the spirit of dialog, I posted this comment response. Then I thought I would share it with all Soapbox readers.

Comment Post

Commerce on a political opinion blog post? As moderator, I delete what appears to be spam--obvious advertising--maybe a blog that collects spam would be interesting to some? As the webmaster of an estore, I must, for my own profit, invite you to visit my website, VCCTI or my cafepress sites entered from the first one: Valerie's Memes

What can you buy from me? Lots. I am affiliated with numerous merchants from whose shopping carts you will actually buy the products.

My own products are educational templates/forms, and PowerPoint design templates. I offer some free examples. My Design Template Sets are suitable for personal, small friendly churches and businesses, and educational use. The images in the templates can be use as backgrounds and clipart for personal stationery and such by the purchaser or gift receiver.

End of original comment post

Might I add that my essays at VCCTI each contain special items for sale?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Brigitte Gabriel on Booktv

I watched the rerun of Brigitte Gabriel's talk to The Heritage Foundation on this Sunday. In this presentation she reminds us that saving our way of life in America requires the action of its citizens and constant diligence.

This talk is a must for all people who want to save modern civilization. She makes some telling points. (As you read this list of her points, please be aware that I heard her words and responded so emotionally that instead of limiting my list to what she said, I could be also adding my own words to hers.)

1. The Jihad is a real war and will end only when the world is completely converted to the Jihadists version of Islam.
2. The Jihadists are converting members in the United States as actively as they are in other nations.
3. The moderate Muslims of the American mosques must speak out to stop the movement and stop protecting the movement or the Jihadists will take over.
4. The texts fostering the Jihadist movement in American mosques are from Saudi Arabia.
5. Threats made by the leader(s) of Iran should be believed.
6. The Jihadists do not respect modern values or modern civilization--in fact they abhor them.
7. By being politically correct, we Americans are preventing ourselves from stating the truth about radical beliefs and goals.
8. Stopping terrorism on American soil requires some invasions of privacy by intelligence gatherers.
9. Moderate Muslims must speak out against the Jihadists.
10. All Americans must contact their congressmen to let them know that this threat is real and that we must fight it.

Ms. Gabriel is not against the Muslim religion of Islam. She does not believe that all Muslims are fanatics. She calls on all moderate Muslims to stop the fanatics in their mosques by speaking out and notifying the proper authorities of terrorist tendencies and activities.

I often asked myself how a parent would not know that his/her child was an alcoholic or drug abuser. How could a parent turn a blind eye to the child's self-destruction? It happens. All the time. Parents make money available to their children so their children can destroy themsleves. Americans give their children hours of unsupervised time so their children are not protected from the evils of the world. We American must be great enablers or so many children would not be destroying their own lives.

By the same token, the moderate Muslims are enabling the growth of Jihad on American soil.

To preserve freedom of religion, the religions must police their own. To preserve America, all of us must realize that we are at war with an idea that will destroy us if we do conquer it. Ms. Gabriel is right about the danger of allowing a movement as dangerous today as Hitler was to Europe in the mid-1900's. Our way of life will be no more if the Jihadists win.

Make no mistake. This is not a battle against a religion. This is a battle for the future of civilization. Islam has a place in the future of the world, just as other religions do. The Jihad is not a religious war. It is a war of a dictatorial group hoping to control the lives of all persons on earth. What these fanatics do is for their own glory and power, not any god's. A god of destruction such as they protray would destroy the entire human race in very little time.

I for one do not want any religious group dictating how I must act and what decisions I must make. That is unAmerican and undemocratic. I definitely do not want a religion that is not of my choosing to dictate my life. I want my grandchildren to be free to choose.

The mp3 presentation of this talk is available from The Heritage Foundation. The streaming video is available from

Her book, Because they Hate, is available from Amazon or at her website,

When I was googling urls for this post, I came across this blog, From the Beltway, that talks about the issues of the Lebanese- Americans and the Lebanese people. It links to dozens more.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Images of Global Warming

Memes are so cool, especially the visual kind. I just went searching through Fotolia for images on global warming for my website. Smokestacks and melting glaciers abounded. So did globes drawn amid flames. But this one is my favorite. Says it all, don't you think. I can't wait to place it within a lesson.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A New Democracy under Bush

Imagine what could happen when a high Al Qaeda official gets arrested under the The Military Commissions Act of 2006, and the evidence against him is strong. He sues the government. The Supreme Court rules the law unconstitutonal, and the terrorist is freed with apologies for trampling on his rights. Will Americans even have to pay punitive damages to the man? Will we have to cover the expense for sending him back home to fight another day?

Passing a law that will assuredly be overturned by the Supreme Court-- if, that is the Supreme Court can legally review this "law"-- is endangering our security. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 meets all the criteria of vagueness and trampling of rights that the Supreme Court has invalidated in the past.

More frightening is the assertion in the "law" that no court can consider its legality. Bush and the Republicans are trying to redefine The Constitution of the United States.

In my last post I generously did not say that Bush would trample on the rights of others. I fear that I must have been overly generous in not naming him a potential abuser of human rights. His response in having the lawyer Lt. Commander Charles Swift forced into retirement, after his having any press member that criticizes him fired as he did to the coherts of Dan Rather, after his denunciation of anyone who dares criticize him as anti-American, I now believe the man to be a severely dangerous threat to American Democracy and to The Constitution of the United States. The Separation of Powers in our Constitution and the Freedom of Speech Americans once enjoyed are key factors in preserving Democracy. Bush tramples both. I do hope for the sake of all bloggers and editorialists that the The Military Commissions Act of 2006 doesn't become Bush's weapon to stop the criticism that he so abhors. He is potentially more scary than McCarthy ever was.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Horrors of Current Politics is Torture to Me, and Should be to Bush and all of Congress

We signed the Geneva Convention to protect our own soldiers from torture and to state to the world that Americans are not monstrous; that we believe in human rights.

Now we are fighting an enemy that does not agree with the rules of the Geneva Convention or with the tenents of human rights. What to do? What to do?

We do not abrogate the human and constitutional rights of our nation and its people just to fight this enemy. We do not place the powers of all three branches of our government in the hands of one president for all time. Did we learn nothing from the McCarthy Era? Did the lessons of Hitler's Gestapo and its tactics teach us nothing? Maybe Bushcan be trusted with such power, but no believer in strictly good/evil or God/Godless morality can be. Such power is an instrument for forcing one opinion onto the will and behavior of all others.

War itself is as monstrous as any torture. So war makes monsters of us anyway. There are no human rights in our treatment of an enemy on the battlefield--until they become prisoners. So let's get real. Sticking to the Geneva Convention while fighting against an enemy not tied into the pact does not protect our soldiers. I say, rewrite the Geneva Convention. When fighting an enemy that agrees with this pact, respect the rules of the Geneva Convention so that such an enemy will treat our soldiers--its prisoners of war--humanely.

When the other side of the conflict doesn't uphold the tenets of the Geneva Convention, then the rules are forfeited. After all, the enemy is already treating its prisoners--our brethren and soldiers--with torture and inhumanely. What better way to show them punishment than to fight back equally? What better way to convince them to enter into the same pact agreement as the Geneva Convention than to convince them that it would be to their benefit to do so?

Face facts. War is inhumane. Soldiers are monstrous in battle. Sugar-coating the issue with platitudes does not change the ugliness of war.

What must be protected is the nature of our monstrous selves. We do not rape and pillage. We do not treat the civilians and non-combatants with anthing but the respect and dignity of their human rights. We weep over collateral damage and try to prevent it as much as humanly possible.

But against the enemy we go as far towards evil as they do themselves. If they torture, so do we. If they maime, so do we. Otherwise, we will lose the war.

However, before torture, one must have evidence that the prisoner is actually a member of the enemy forces. A military tribunal is ok for judging the membership of the individual. A clear investigation into how and why the person is believed to be the enemy is necessary before the torture begins--not necessarily identification of an individual, but clear evidence of being one of the enemy. Circumstantial evidence is not enough for torture, only for detainment--temporarily--say duration the war itself or 2 years, whichever is feasible and shortest; or until evidence is presented that the person is not an enemy with the proviso that any such evidence must be immediately reviewed by a military panel which will simultaneously review the circumstantial evidence against the person, also. ANYONE deemed guiltless BY THE EVIDENCE will be released to the regional location of his choice.

Then torture for information of (1) the location of other enemy, (2) future attack plans, (3) information about how attacks can be stopped or prevented, and (4) locations of weapons caches. What other information would we need to know from anyone? Beyond that--confessions, etc., are not important. He is ENEMY. Nothing else matters. When the war is over, he will be repatriated. Once we discover what he knows about the necessary points, let him be (in his prison, with humane care). After all, we need not become total barbarians. We do not decapitate our prisoners just because the enemy does.

And what is so bad about using drugs in interrogation? Seems to me that whatever chemicals work as truth serum these days would be much more humane than torture. We have a duty to protect our people and those peoples under our protective wing. Let us use our modern arsenal of weapons--both psychological and physical.

What we must do is be certain that what we obtain with these techniques is truth. Duress is not the issue, but falsehood offered under the guise of truth under duress is not good. This factor of torture alone should make interrogators careful about how much harm and humiliation they bring to bear on a prisoner. True information must always be the goal, never punishment.

I believe that we Americans can maintain our beliefs in human rights and still be the monsters that fight wars. I believe that we must limit our monstrosities in times of war. I believe that the enemy has rights, but that the artificial dignities of the Geneva Convention were not set in place to protect the enemy. Rather, the Geneva Convention was put in place to protect our own soldiers who were captured by an enemy who is a member nation. When an enemy does not uphold the pact, then the pact is null and void against such an enemy, leaving only our own souls to protect.

What we are left with is a code of conduct that protects our own soldiers from a slide into barbarism and keeps them sane enough to return home as still civilized men with self-pride. The Geneva Convention was written and agreed upon to protect the men and the souls of the men that a nation sent to war. When such protections are not working, then the convention is not being upheld. The rules change. The combatants are left with only the protection of man's souls.

Today we fight a war in which only one side upholds the memes of the Geneva Convention. Today we must protect the souls, the humanity, of our soldiers. That is the sole value of rules against torture in the war against this enemy. Therefore I say, set rules for torture that we as Americans can live with. Call it what it is: torture. And go about our business.

Will we then be tried for war crimes by the UN? Is that the consequences of not sticking strictly to the Geneva Convention? Does the UN mean to apply the war crimes punishment to the enemy? We need to discuss a new interpretation of rules of war and responses to terrorism with the UN. We need to discuss whether the old rules are outdated. Or does anyone believe that we could convince the enemy nations to join the Geneva Convention? Would the insurgents? Will we accept a body of combatants that are not a nation to be a political entity worthy of joining?

Throwing away a meme is complicated. What would replace it? We must take care, for there will be complications.

Another thought: We do not need new rules for dealing with Americans or with legal aliens abiding in the US. If an American associates with terrorists or donates money to terrorists causes, try him for treason (a crime that can be redefined by lawmakers with punishments that can be redefined, too). If he is guilty, send him to jail. Legal aliens can simply be tried and deported. If the person is not found guilty, then he is simply practicing his rights of free speech and association that is part of our Constitutional Rights. DO NOT MESS WITH THE CONSTITUTION or the BILL OF RIGHTS.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Beauty of World Music

I woke up early this morning and switched on the TV. Being so early, my choices of what to watch were limited to a few movies, documentaries, news and paid programming. So I stumbled onto the show World Music on LinkTV. Wow! At 6:00 CST I found myself listening to the most beautiful African and Haitian music with expressive music videos as accompaniment.

This particular program offered a set of political songs in the vein of U2. The music was as richly textured and melodious as anything by Enya. The videos with the love songs were sensuous without being embarrassing. Beautiful music, provocative videos.

The political nature of the songs reminded me of the stories about nursery rhymes being used in England to express ideas about the repressive practices of the reigning monarch of the day, the poem of Paul Revere with its “One if by land, two if by sea,” and the Negro spirituals from the days of slavery in the US. The songs reminded me of the “America the Beautiful,” our national anthem, “The Battle of New Orleans” and other songs of the celebration of victory and love of country. The power of music in uniting people and informing culture is so awesome.

The other aspects that struck me were the similarity of the music to modern new age, reggae, and adult rock music in the US, and the sophistication of the music videos. Surely we do live in a small world, a global neighborhood, with cultures mutually enhancing, influencing, and relating to each other.

Link TV, a satellite and cable channel, bills itself as “Television without Borders”. It has a set of internet links, one of which is; will take you there, too. Songs from the World Music show can be purchased at the Linktv Music Store. Unfortunately, there is no consistent indication on site about which songs go with which broadcast, so keep a notepad and pen or keyboard handy to write down artist, song title, and album title for the songs you want. Singles and albums are available.

A free song is offered for download. Streaming music allows you to listen to sample songs from an album. As with other television network sites, some of their documentaries and political commentary are also available as streaming video and for download.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Thoughts Inspired by Take this Job and Ship It by Senator Byron Dorgan

Senator Dorgan has addressed an issue of prime importance to all Americans: the inept control of the American economy by corporate interests rather than the needs of the American people, in my words—not his.

One of the realizations that struck me while listening to his presentation on Book tv C-SPAN2 today is that the world is so different that maybe we should think of a way to re-visualize our economic realities. Old insights won’t work. The issue is not the loss of American jobs, per se, but how do we retool ourselves to live in the new economic realities. I would like to make a few comments about what the retooling might require.

  1. If an American company is outsourcing its jobs, then it should be contributing to the economic welfare of its employees. The income paid to the foreign labor should be a livable wage with benefits equivalent, in local terms, to the same required in our country. No American corporation should be allowed to run a sweat shop. Workers should make enough during a reasonable 8-hour workday, 5 days a week to support themselves and their children, no matter in what country the worker lives. Workers the world over should be allowed time to spend with families and in the pursuit of their own happiness and dreams.
  2. American corporations, or any corporation that does business in America, even if only by selling products to be imported to America, should pay taxes to the American government. If a company doesn’t pay taxes, none of its employees or owners should live anywhere on American soil. The country of a corporate ownership should be determined by the nationality of its owners, not its corporate address. Foreign-owned corporations should pay an American tax on all property owned or rented within the United States and its territories, on all imported supplies and products, and on all income earned by its employees during any time-span, even temporary visits, during which they were living in the United States.
  3. Workers who have lost jobs through out-sourcing should take their expertise, unite, and form a co-op corporation to continue producing similar or other products like they know how to make. The manufacture and sales of the products would be done by peoples who own the company, since everyone working there would be a co-owner. Co-ops could band together in an entity that could contract for all forms of insurance needed by the companies and the workers. Consultants to assist in the paperwork and decisions formerly done by the owners who closed down the original company and out-sourced the original jobs could be hired at rates more reasonable than the salaries made by the former CEO’s and owner profits. The downside to this is that there would be conflicts between members with different goals and visions. Who would lead? There would be lots to learn from such companies that began in this or similar ways in the past: Southwest Airlines, Winnebago, and maybe Gateway come to mind. Government business loans should foster this kind of restructuring.
  4. American job opportunities could change to reflect our position in the global neighborhood. Our world has changed. We can change to survive in the new reality. What jobs and what training will actually mesh with the new economy? We should identify the jobs that even with outsourcing must still be done on American soil and define our economy in ways that support those jobs.
  5. We should examine service jobs. We should encourage our citizens that make enough money to hire domestic workers to do so. We should spread the wealth—and relieve some of the stress in families trying to work and run a household. Many Americans are burning the candle at both ends with trying to do it all and play to boot. Mothers, for example, work both in and out of the home and have little time or energy to spare for themselves or their children for just enjoying each other.
  6. It is OK for workers to be alien, if they are paying American taxes. These taxpayers would thus have a right to access to services such as public health services while supporting and not draining the community coffers. So drop the concept of illegal aliens. Open the borders and make all workers legal, paid at least minimum wages, paying taxes, and working openly so that they are not exploited. There will be jobs to go around if Americans get creative and invent more jobs.
  7. We should make trade agreements work for Americans and for the global community. We do live in an interconnected world. Withdrawing from that world will cost us in influence, power, and safety.
  8. All foreign students should be required to take a course in American civics and history before they take technical courses for an American degree program. They should understand our viewpoint before they learn our expertise. These classes must not be taught by foreigners or cynics. All Americans should take the same courses with the same requirements. And all should be made to write deep discussion questions about the process, not just pay lip-service to multiple-choice facts before passing the course.
  9. We need the wealth of the big corporations. But, the greed of these entities must be balanced by national concerns and by the needs of the American people. People like Bill Gates should be consulted on how to make this happen.
  10. Americans must want to see this country and its economy remain strong and be willing to work towards that end even if we must make sacrifices to do so. We need a new vision of what careers will sustain us. We need common visions of what it means to be American. We need patriotism. We do not need to blindly let our policy-makers and political leaders decide for us. We should foster all the safeguards that our country offers to make the admittedly compromising decisions that enable this country to function for all of its diverse citizenry: free press, free religion, separation of church and state, tolerance of others, voting, demanding accountability and true service of our law-makers and political leaders, etc.
This is a complex country with no easy solutions to any of its problems. This is also, currently, a highly successful country with its people in charge. We, the People, can loose that privileged position if we do not guard it. That control must be examined with an eye to what threatens it and what should be done about it now in this new day and age. Maybe we should pay more attention to the Think Tanks as they debate each other on what solutions would be best.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

An Ode to Dolly (Concerning Dolly's Role in Global Warming)

(a science poem about the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep clone, and the nature of the culture wars between religion and science)

This photo of a sheep and her lamb is NOT Dolly, but is from Fotolia foto.fritz - FOTOLIA
fotolia_397073 sheep with lamb and full wool coat.jpg] Get more from this photographer.
schaf 7 © foto.fritz

An Ode to Dolly
Re: Global Warming

Dolly had a little lamb.
It came the natural way.
Now everything that Mary’s can
A clone can do today.

“To clone,” you say, ”is playing God.
‘Tis sacrilegious. Nay.
We’ll lose our Faith, you know we will,
If we use tech that way.”

But “He helps him who helps himself”
Encourages men to plan
The use of nature in wondrous ways
To accomplish all we can.

What matters most in this age
Of stress from hotter days,
Is saving genes that work for us
No matter what the ways.

By Valerie Coskrey © 2006

You may share this poem with others if you give me credit for it. It is copyrighted. Publication requires my permission, although I will most likely be happy to give it. If you wish to place it in your blog or website, please link-back to here or to , and tell me in the comment that you did so, please.

This posting was modified 31Dec08. Originally posted in 2006.
Cloning: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides (Oneworld))After Dolly: The Promise and Perils of Cloning

Monday, July 31, 2006

Michael Crichton's State of Fear

I am reading the book State of Fear now. Crichton writes a fictional story that pushes the idea that Global Warming is still not a certain occurance. He presents arguments against many opinions I have expressed in my postings to date. At the end of the novel he has included an essay on the dangers of politicized science and lots of references about the politics and philosophy of science and about geoscience data. I do love to read.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Censorship of Science through Government Censorship of Scientific Reports

Censorship—a powerful meme in America. We argue voraciously for freedom of speech. Yet some of us believe that censorship is important to protecting the interests of …Who? McCarthy thought he was protecting us from communism when he fostered his witch-hunt on everyone who spoke against the status quo and gutted Hollywood of its talent. Of course, the actual, centuries-earlier witch hunts of the “actual” witches was censorship at its burning cruelest.

Today censorship is directed towards science. It does not matter what the evidence. What counts is the political message. This I say based on the words of Dr. Hansen of NASA-Goddard Space Center on Sixty Minutes on CBS this Sunday evening, July 30, 2006, and the evidence produced on the show. (I am, of course, trusting the journalists.)

The willingness to be censored is seen in the push for a constitutional amendment against burning the flag. This bothers me because I do not think that patriotism and respect for this country can be legislated. Although I would not personally burn our flag, I recognize that flag-burning is a powerful meme for people with a gripe to use to get other Americans to notice them, and by implication their message. Let freedom ring.

But, the censorship of science does not affect just the notice of the public. It affects the credibility of this nation in its interpretation of evidence. It affects the credibility of science itself. But, then, the Creationist movement has convinced many Americans that science is not creditable, anyway. The anti-science fostered by the political censorship of a scientific report makes me not trust my government. After all, if it will lie about science, what else will it lie about?

Science prides itself in its attempt to let the evidence speak for itself, in attempting to remain objective in its interpretation of the evidence. The methods used in scientific research are scrutinized by scientists and philosophers alike as to science’s ability to produce trustworthy results. Using these methods, science performed under the scrutiny of the scientific community becomes self-correcting when given enough time. Truth will out. But, only if the truth is what is reported.

Censorship of science such as what was reported on Sixty Minutes today is tantamount to fraudulent science. Thank goodness, some scientists are not willing to tolerate fraud—even if our elected officials strongly encourage it.

Censorship is a meme that provokes powerful negative emotions in this patriotic believer in the Constitution of the United States, as it should in all Americans. Censorship must be used with extreme care and its use should be monitored carefully by us all.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Home Sweet Home

I love those extreme homes on HGTV. Now the Travel Channel is showing unsual homes. Today's show, Top Ten Outrageous Homes, featured a steel home on steel legs, a concrete dome built over a balloon, and hand-built homes in Sun City, NM, that included a convection-current heating system made from glass-bottle walls.

The domes are billed as storm-proof. Do you think any of the designs will be used in the rebuilding of the coastal areas? Several hurricane-proof designs are out there, but the homes are unconventional. If only they were more popular. It might save a lot of future grief.

See more images of the steel house at this site. Read what a forum community has to say about this houes.

Dome homes are among the list of eco-friendly houses listed here.

The geodesic dome and the concrete dome house are both listed in a google search of dome houses.

The concrete dome is discussed here.

Do you think housework would be more fun if the home was extremely unsual? I wish!

Please note: links as written are truncated for space in this column. The underlying hyperlink is much longer in most cases.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Living Machines

An explanation of living machines technology was presented by Penn State in 2002,, but I came across it after Googling living machines because I had just watched a show on lime TV.

Googling also took me to the site of an architectural/bioengineering firm that designs and constructs buildings, both commercial and home, that incorporate both solar energy and living machines with other green building strategies. Surely this is the way to go.

In fact the show on lime claimed such technology to be (1) sustainable, and (2) paradigmatic. Yes, a paradigm shift is in the works. Get information about the program from The program that aired was called The Next Industrial Revolution, and profiled the work of Bill McDonough, architect, and Michael Braungart, chemist. In fact, the show claimed that these two were instigating a paradigm shift in architecture.

You can get information and free videos about lots of green ideas from

Grammar in a Tech Society

I have ideas about how to make typing info easier in today’s tech savvy world.

(1) Webpage and website should be one word. That makes them easier to type, and to read in bookmark sites such as my account at (I invite to share my bookmarks on science, education, on-line learning, and other topics I collect for my blog and website.)

(2) Maybe I just do not know the right shortcuts, but how do you type the sentence punctuation after a link? For example, look at the sentences in Living Machines above. I placed periods and commas after making the link, spacing, then backspacing to place the punctuation. Since the typing was originally in Word, the link was hyperlinked automatically once I spaced after typing.

(3) Typing chemistry formulas such as CO2 is not actually correct. But, I see it often in .pdf and other files where it is just too cumbersome to use subscripts. Superscripts are also difficult. Will a new grammar rule result?

War -- Israel vs Hezbollah

I hate war. But, I must say that Israel must be allowed to defend itself. Why should anyone believe that a people who have been given what they desired-- when the Palestinians were given the West Bank and Gaza Strip-- should be dealt with diplomatically when their response to autonomy was to still attack Israel again and again. Diplomacy doesn’t work, obviously.

Lebanon was a hope for a modern future in the mid-east, but that was the problem. The militants do not want to live in the modern world. It is sad that the Hezbollah has destroyed this beautiful country, but they attacked Israel -- and probably the US in Afghanistan and Iraq -- so I say we should let Israel do what is necessary to protect itself -- and by serendipity, us.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Marriage and other Partnerships

Today I was watching Dr. Phil, and the guest was claiming that polyfidelity is his preferred lifestyle. Now I disagree with the guest in that he is trying to force this lifestyle on his wife and his family. But I do have remarks to make on the issue.

I am aware of the rationale behind marriage:
(1) historically, as a means of formalizing the care of the young, ensuring inheritance of property and authority,and defining ownership of property;
(2) hopefully, today, binding two committed people in a caring relationship over long periods of time;
(3) practically regulating the responsibilities inherent in childcare, healthcare, and other family responsibilitie;
and (4) practically regulating the responsibilities for finances, taxes, and property ownership.

According to historians, the role of love in marriage is a concept that was not always important to the success or requirements of marriage. The term "traditional marriage" has so many different meanings that anyone using the term should really specify for which ethnic group and during which historical era the term applies.
I assume that when an American mentions the term today, the reference is to The Donna Reed Show and The Dick van Dyke Show. The Jeffersons, Good Times and The Cosby Show also present this view of a traditional marriage. It would be wonderful if all of us came from such backgrounds of strong family commitments. Unfortunately, many do not.

In America today, the range of living arrangements is diverse. Widows and other women left behind to care for children, and men in the same boat have found that alternate living arrangements have enabled them to raise the children. People who have not found the "love of their lives" have found alternate living arrangements to enable them to handle the stresses of living. Sometimes partnership arrangements enable these people to get the emotional, physical, and financial help needed. By physical, I refer to the means to get done all the work that needs to be done in the time allowable: watch the kids, cut the grass, fix the roof, help out when one is ill,etc.

In America, the live-and-let-live ethic prevents us from closely examining the lifestyles of those with whom one's has no real personal involvement. If the person is not a member of one's church, an influence over one's children, and not a noticible cause of decreasing neighborhood property values, then we Amearicans tend to let be. That is, unless there is a religious mandate to change the lives of others to fit the definitions of one's own religion.

The problem that I see with the current American life-styles is that there are no legal protections for partners in households that are not married, but that share responsibilities and expenses, to obtain health care and property protections that only married couples enjoy. The other problem is that when partnerships break-up, there is no financial protection as in divorce. It would seem that partners that would share the expenses of a home--property, food, insurance, taxes, maintenance--should enter into the relationship with an agreement similar to a prenup. The need is possibly greater than it would be for marriage since there are no laws of protection as there are in divorce. There should be legal protections of the members of such a partnership during the partnership to cover the difficult times of when one member is unable to contribute equally for a time. Also, the common ownership should be protected when one member of the partnership is mentally incapacitated or dies.

Currently, our marriage laws provide these protections--althought not always fairly. But what about those who choose to travel the rodes of live with a partner outside of marriage. What about those who find that a partnership that works in one stage of life doesn't work for another stage of life? I say that partners in home-building relationships that provide stable environments for children, emotional support for all in the home, and maintenance care for property and personal environment should be nurtured and sustained. These partnerships should have social and legal support.

It is for these reasons that I cannot support a movement for a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union for life between one man and one woman, or as just a union between a man and a woman. There are many ways to build a nurturing home and many ways to define family and friends. Literature, movies and TV through soaps, science fiction, situational comedies, and the examples of numerous celebrities have examined the ins-and-outs of diverse family and partnership relationships. Let's accept the solutions that work to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids with strong ethical values and needed competencies. Let's accept the partnerships that allow members to find healthy emotional, financial, and physical support without trampling the rights and needs of any member of the partnership. These homes will help maintain a stable society if protected.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Andrew Sullivan and The Conservative Soul

There are days when I want to bury myself in escapist television and watch adventure movies or cops and robbers. This Sunday past would have been such a day except I looked at what my husband was watching. He, geek that he is (I am a nerd, and proud of it) watches Book TV C-SPAN each weekend. Now I have to add the book The Conservative Soul by Andrew Sullivan to my Read This Now list.

On this day I found myself listening to the words of Andrew Sullivan as he spoke about the need for doubt in religion and in government. What I heard was an excellent statement of the use of doubt (a meme) in fostering a personal examination of faith; in guarding the limits on governmental power so important to a democracy; and in the necessity of not blindly accepting someone’s claim to know THE ANSWER or THE TRUTH, since –he seemed to implying or at least I think that--these are unknowable and each must seek the knowledge in his own way and thereby guard the honesty of the search. He did not use these words. His message was much more eloquent and meaningful. But now, the meme of necessary doubt is richer for me.

I tried to access the show for links or for viewing. These are the links to C-SPAN and information about the show that you can use to discover this talk for yourself. Basic link for the Book TV shows. Here you can get schedules and view the archives. Show featuring Anderson. The show: 2006 Book Expo America-Saturday Coverage originally broadcast at 8:00 am EST on May 20, 2006. This show presented a panel discussion after the talks by Anderson with Pat Buchanan, Frank Rich, Arianna Huffington and Lynn Shearr (spelling? I was not quick enough to catch her name!) The discussion was thought provoking and ranged from the War in Iraq to the artificiality of the Red vs. Blue States dichotomy to the culture wars of America as understood by the Babyboomers and by the newer generations. The blog of Andrew Sullivan. In a visit to this blog I found at least two postings that were part of a dialogue related to the talk on Book TV mentioned in this posting

I emailed Mr. Sullivan and asked for a link to a copy of his talk that I could post. When I get it, I will add it to this blog. Watch for it. He will make you think as much as William Raspberry of Gannet News does.

Watch for his articles in Time Magazine, too. I will from now on. (At home, we get The Week; guess I will need to start a subscription to Time.)


I want to make a list of memes that influence us and shape society, past, present and future. I have mine. Gaia is one; evolution is another; sustainablity and Spaceship Earth are two more; as are social darwinism, and a new one I just came across: Christianism. I know of 100s that I plan to consider in detail some day.

The power of a meme comes not from general agreement with its message. I do not subscribe to social darwinism. However, the meme forces me to think about society and culture in ways that I would not have perceived if I had never known the term.

But what memes are important or controversial or anathema to you? Send in your list, comments, or links to your ideas on the subject.

From high school history I know that our beliefs in and about democracy grew out of the Magna Carta, and are shaped by the expressions in The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States. In fact, when I think of our nation, the promises of The Declaration of Independence seem as binding as any law or the Constitution could ever be.

What memes do you believe shape American culture today? No, this is not a school assignment. But ideas influence us all. Which ones are important to you?
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A List of Major Scientific Theories

I sometimes try to think of the theories that shape science today—you know, the ones that provide the underpinnings for our modern understanding of the world; those big ideas that we all just know and through which we interpret the world, or try to deny.

Today I even made a Google search for “major science theories.” This poor choice of words produced little useful information on the first two pages of search results. Consequently, I turned my attention elsewhere and tried to locate a good download counter for my html files that would work on a Windows server. That’s another story.

These are the theories with which I am familiar.
Primarily, we must theorize that we live in a material world. You laugh. Galileo might have been tried for heresey for a belief in materialism. Yep, his cosmological beliefs were a smokescreen for this more dangerous idea that would threaten the spiritualism of the Church. So says P. Redondi in Galileo Heretic.
1. The Atomic Theory
2. The Theory of Matter and Energy: Conservation of Matter and Energy
3. The Cell Theory
4. The Germ Theory
5. The Theory of Plate Tectonics
6. The Theory of Evolution
7. The Big Bang Theory
8. Chaos Theory
9. The “Gaia” Theory of a Sustainable Earth which is illustrated with the idea of Spaceship Earth
10. The Theory of Quantum Mechanics
11. The Theory of Special Relativity which subsumes The Theory of General Relativity which subsumes Newtonian theories of motion
12. The Photon Theory of Light Energy and its speed of light
13. The Theory of Electromagnetism as begun by Maxwell and continued with the work of others
14. The Theory of Radioactivity or Nuclear Theory
15. The Theory of Molecular Bonds
16. The Theory of States of Matter—or is this part of the Atomic Theory and the Molecular Bond Theory?
17. The Theory of Thermodynamics—hey, I guess this theory takes care of the States of Matter and the Molecular Bond theories.
18. The Theory of Homeostasis within Living Organisms
19. The Constructivist Theory of Learning
20. The theories of self and development of mental processes in the brain.
21. Theory of Gravity

Well, I managed to name more than the 10 I vaguely thought I would be able to list. There are more. Each of them explains a major aspect of our world. I have not mentioned theories that deal with weather or population stresses or social and cultural behavior or even the idea that the universe is huge. Maybe some of you can critique the list, add to it, and eventually maybe pare it down to the essential major theories. Mmm. Back to Google.

Anyone care to speculate with me?

According to scientists, the proof is in the pudding. If a theory makes a prediction and the prediction holds up, then there must be something correct about the theory.

Friday, April 28, 2006


What has impressed me this week? Lucy Liu's account of the ethnic cleansing/holocaust in Africa and the children kidnapped to be soldiers in the fight as reported on the Oprah show; the work of other actors in Africa in building public awareness for the plight of the warrior children, the women who have clittoral removal, the ethnic cleansing, AIDS, and the extreme poverty. The world is so full of horror. We in the USA are so lucky.

It is sad that the worst cases of man's disasters all result from activity that man does to man. I know it is politically correct to respect all cultures and, romantically, to desire to preserve indigeneous cultures. But the modern countries today are more peaceful and more comfortable to live within. It is the modern countries that will be called upon to solve the problems of these people that are powerless to solve the problems themselves.

I have not much to say today. Everyday living is absorbing all of my attention and energy right now.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Formation of a New Art Community

Formation of a New Art Community

A new book on classical fables is out—and it is a winner. Some of the art is in the Primitive Folk Art tradition, some in Romantic Watercolor tradition. The work has a charm that is enduring. All art was produced by mentally and physically challenged individuals in a special art education program, but that fact doesn’t diminish the quality of the book’s illustrations.

Some of the images reach out and grab your fancy in the ways of all good art. Some characterizations are so real that you can see the personality of the person or animal drawn shine through so that you know exactly what it is thinking or planning or whether you can expect mischief from it. Kids will love these pictures. I already do. Visit
for a view of the group’s website*. Look for the book Disabled Fables.

On Today (NBC) members of LA Goal were interviewed about their new book Disabled Fables. Members are disabled: legally blind, autistic, mentally and physically challenged, etc. The organization provides them with art education. Chosen art has been used to illustrate a retelling of Aesop’s Fables.

You can find out more about the group at

Look under the Resources section and the article Disabled Fables. Clicking there will take you to the link for Inside Out Productions in the 3rd above paragraph.

I have recently run across other art that I love. One artist that I discovered last week, Kay Schlagel, has allowed me to use one of her digital art abstracts in my PowerPoint® Template Design Series. Visit my website to see more of this artist’s work in the near future. You can see more of her work at

This link takes you straight to my favorite image. Browse for the others. Beautiful stuff.

Anything that makes us joyful extends our lifetime. That's what the research is saying, anyway, so I offer you beautiful images on which to gaze and smile. Sustaining, huh?

Sorry about the typos today, but I really must run to other tasks and have no time to fix stuff. Bear with me please.

*Personally, I want web site and web page to be one word. It saves on word counts and on typing. I will use them as one word here to encourage others to do so. The e-vocabulary words all need standardizing, too. Another blog? Estore, eshop, elearn?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Letter to True Believers

Dear Pro-Lifers,

I might be willing to deny the right of a woman to have an abortion if the society in which I lived would meet certain conditions. These conditions were not met in the past when women felt the need for abortion so strongly that many would get one in dangerously clandestine ways.

In the past women got abortions because

1. Her pregnancy would result in social stigma that made it impossible for her to continue as a respected member of society and continue her education, and hold down a decent job and marry a good man.

2. The child of a single mother was deemed illegitimate and faced social stigma as severe as the mother’s.

3. A child with severe birth defects or genetic predisposition to debilitating illness would suffer needlessly and would require expensive medical care that would have little real effect on relieving the suffering that the child would face.

4. The father refused to be responsible for the child.

5. The community refused to assist the mother in caring for the child.

So under what conditions would I be willing to disallow abortions?
1. The community churches would pay for all medical care for a child born with a birth defect or genetic predisposition to a severe medical condition. The churches would do this without demanding that the child or his mother accept as truth the precepts of the church or regularly attend services or make any claim to Christianity. The church would do this simply because the members voted against aborting this child and so have some responsibility in insuring that this child be cared for properly.
2. The community churches and all of its members would make a single mother feel welcome in their communities, not ostracize her, not prevent her from supporting her child by denying her a job in the community.
3. The community churches and all of its members would encourage employers to hire women that have illegitimate children.
4. The churches and all of their members would assist women, especially single mothers with low income, in obtaining low-cost, quality child care so that she can work to support the children. Religion must not be forced on these children as a condition of the child care assistance.
5. The churches and all of their members would make the child welcome in the community, would prevent its own children from teasing a child and bullying a child based on its status as illegitimate, would not stigmatize the child for its origins, and would not in any make the child wish it had never been born.
6. The churches will pay all fees for adoption by anyone willing to offer the unwanted children a good home, a home not necessarily Christian, but one where the child is not abused, where the child will be loved, and where the child has at least one parent that wants him or her.

If the churches and or their members push for an abortion ban, then the churches and their members must make the changes in its attitudes towards illegitimate and defective children that forced many women to get abortions to begin with. If the churches that push for an abortion ban insist that life is precious, then they should take responsibility for making sure that the child has a chance to realize that his life is precious. The social ostracism of the past does not affirm life. The bankruptcy of family by medical bills does not affirm life. The bullying by other children and even by members of community churches does not affirm life.

Once again Mississippians want to demand that all people live according to their own church doctrines. But this is a country of religious freedom. Such demands go against every principle on which this country was established. Forcing religion-based morality on Americans is the same thing that is happening in Afghanistan where a Christian convert faces the death penalty.

And if your argument is that abortion is murder, then outlaw all murder: self-defense of property, self-defense against sexual assault and rape, and war. These are all just as murderous. Why should abortion be singled out as wrong? Write a law that is completely fair and expresses your opposition against all murder. If you insist that you can defend yourself, that you can send your fellow citizens to war, then you are not against murder. Get real.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sustainable Stuff can be very Practical

I just came across a new word, for me, and a new idea. Arborsculpture. Richard Reames, an arborsculpturer, has written a book about the subject. Arborsculpture is the process of shaping growing plants into usable objects such as chairs, table surfaces, hedges to make rooms, etc. There is a history of such practices in the book, a history related to Bonsai, and it goes back centuries. Who knew?

The book is Arborsculpter: Solutions for a Small Planet by Richard Reames (Arborsmith Studios)

I discovered this idea in Utne, March-April 2006 issue.

I also came across this word: biomedia. I think it is what a tree sculptured for use by man would either be or become. This word belongs in lists that contain the word bioremediation, using living organisms to clean up waste or fix problems. Both words go with sustainability and sustainable solutions, wouldn't you say?

This month's Utne also mentioned other biomedia: plastic bottles made from corn and a veggie-leather totebag sold at the Utne store . I offer this to you not so much as an advertisement but as an exploration into practical sustainability.

I do have to ask, because I do not approve of illegal drugs, is the hemp used for rope and cloth really never usable for smoking? Does support of the hemp industry not support the growing of marijuana? Will someone please explain the relationship of these two products to me.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dolly and Pony

Much is being said about the new industry for cloning horses. Two champion geldings, Royal Blue Boon and Tap O Lena, just became proud fathers of clones born to them by surrogate mares. ViaGen, a Texas company, is pioneering the cloning of champions for commercial purposes.

Expensive, yes, but even horses need an alternative to a reversable vasectomy.

Read my poem about cloning in Culture Star Reader.
After enjoying the art on the first page, link to Poetry and then to A Tribute to Dolly.
I have written a longer version of the poem. Look for a reference to it in the future.

Two references to news articles on the cloning of champion horses are found here:
(you may have to go to the home page, register, and search for cloned poney.)
There are 2 associated story links at the bottom of this article. Both are well worth reading.

What is unique here is the commercial enterprise applied to champion horses. The first cloned horse was born in Italy in 2002. Farm animals have been cloned for years now, especially cows, sheep, and pigs. There is even a company interested in cloning your pet dog or cat when it dies.

Several blogs have commentary and comments about the mammal cloning enterprise this week.
which has just moved to a new site.
Visit there to read additional comments about cloning.
This site has interesting comments.

Til next time. You copy?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Original Atmospheric Scrubbers

The True Crime of Illegal Immigration

I have no problems with illegal immigrants. If they paid taxes on their wages, then they should receive the state services that hospital rooms and schools complain are underfunded. But they do not pay taxes because the employers that give the illegal immigrants jobs do not claim them or set aside the taxable contributions of their wages.

But even the dearth of taxes to cover free medical services and public schooling is not the biggest crime of illegal immigration. The worst of criminal acts here is exploitation. Illegal aliens forgo legal protection in order to find work and provide their children with the American Dream. American employers then exploit them in extremely low paying jobs and sweat shops. Yes, I know we have such laws. But all our energies and outrage seem to be focused on the bordercrossing poor, not on the well off American voters who flaunt the law and deserve--but escape--the punishment.

Charitable organizations, churches and generous people enable this exploitation by protecting the illegal alien from discovery by the INS, all the while keeping them for the use of the slavers--ah--exploiters, the employers. Why are these same organizations, churches and generous people not sponsoring the people they help work visas and green cards? Why set these aliens up for abuse?

If we want to get serious about preventing illegal immigration, enforce the laws that require employers to pay minimum wage, at least, and to check citizenship and visa status. Convict the real criminals: those American employers that exploit the immigrants and virtually own the lives of these exploited people.

Illegal immigrations occur because the poor of other countries know that in the United States they can find work, health care and an education. Convict the employers and give them meaningful prison terms. Soon these aliens will get their student and work visas in order, and probably pay their taxes, too.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Introducing Valerie's Soapbox

Yep. I actually decided to start a blog on April Fool's Day. Yes, I do read The Journal of Irreproducible Results. In fact a subscription to this mag is on my wish list of Gifts Just Because. Anyone feel generous? AND yes, I do believe that Murphy's Law has tremendous control over my life. Do you think Dr. Phil could really help me?

I have an interest in lots of things and opininions about most. The power of memes fascinate me. That is why I chose them as my cleaning tools, although someone is bound to consider some to be the dirt.

Want to share your views with us? If you do not want me to feature your comments in future posts, please say so when you post. Dialog is what this blogger enjoys. If you say something that you think I would want to share on the main page, add the words feature this to your comments.

My main interests are science education, sustainability, education, memes, philosophy, philosophy of science, and science fiction. My influences are esoteric and leanings are probably more liberal than not. I am a skeptic and and a humanist of sorts. With this in mind I plan to orate.

I also plan to mine the web for interesting and or useful sites. These I will share with you from time to time.

I invite you to visit my website Valerie Coskrey's Classroom Tools and Ideas.