28 June 2007

And the answer is...

Well, I am officially one year older. There is no real celebration, although Citizen Une provided a superior Angel Food cake. The proto-citizens also contributed their share of booty. A lovely version of Microsoft’s flight simulator (X), a notebook and a Milky Way Midnite (formerly MW Dark). Ah, the benefit of age. It is hard to believe myself at this point in my life. I feel more engaged and more alive than at any previous period in my existence. Okay, there was that one time in a Cessna 120 with Jill Weaver – but I won’t bother to elaborate.

As I sit here, the rain is falling mercifully in Atlanta. My opposite number is preparing for his great adventure to the UK and my two beloved boys are at hand.

Life is good.

26 June 2007

What the...

Holy perfidious delay!

I haven't posted anything on a LONG time. I am surprised I haven't received a number of threats from Maggie. Perhaps she is too busy planning the fete for her friend who was newly selected as a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy.

It is undoubtedly, the hardest rank to make in the Navy. The transition from E6 (petty officer first class) to E7 is a grueling all day exam, a culling from all the potential candidates and then a selection board presided over by senior chiefs, officers and an admiral. To give you an example, in my former unit one of my sailors made chief. He was an Interior Communicationsman (IC). He was also the first IC chief, designated ICC, in twenty-one (21) years!

The Chief is the primary supervisor / leader among the enlisted ranks in the Navy. He is also the individual charged with training the new ensigns. It can be truly said that the Chiefs run the Navy. Some of the best people I have met have worn the anchors. Many chiefs move on to officer positions through various commissioning routes. They tend to be technical experts and uniquely qualified to perform their duties.

I am reminded of an old sea story. A young ensign is talking to his chief in the spaces aboard a destroyer.

Ensign: "I don't understand it Chief, you can move on to warrant or ensign, but an ensign can't become a chief."

Chief: "We have our standards, sir."

Go Navy.

14 June 2007

Uh huh...

Fatah and Hamas are at each other’s throats. The rival Palestinian parties have taken up arms in the Gaza Strip and initiated a full scale civil war. This is the flashover from the Lebanese conflict of less than a year ago. Hamas, an Islamic, militant group, infuriated with the position taken by the PLO and Fatah towards Israel, is seeking the complete rout of the government of Mahmoud Abbas.

Holy crap. Somewhere someone will bemoan the fact that we haven’t engaged with these groups or dialogued with their leadership. The Islamists have proven time and time again their unwillingness to enter diplomatic discussions, their disregard for non-Muslims and their utter lack of concern for their own people. The people who are being shot and killed are not IDF soldiers but helpless Palestinians!

Let’s review.

1) All recent terrorist attacks have come largely (<90%) from Islamic militants.
2) All present instability in the world is due to Islamic extremists
3) Islamic extremists have publicly voiced their desire to eliminate Western thought and establish Sharia as global law.


1) Are we at war?
2) Does a negotiated settlement seem likely?
3) If so, who (precisely) do we negotiate with?
4) What are our options?
5) Are any short term?

In my opinion, short of deploying troops across the globe to clamp down on these actions, there is no short term fix. The Islamic problem is rooted in the restrictive and oppressive nature of its own philosophy. It has not undergone any reformation – akin to Judaism or Christianity – and it did not start out as a benign philosophy – as Buddhist or Hinduism.

It seeks conflict with those who differ in belief.

It seeks subjugation over the females of its faith.

In order for the world to resolve this crisis, the change must come from within Islam and from without. The change from without would be for the West to demand adherence to some basic principles of human dignity. It would require us to aggressively confront separatism in all its forms – thought, gender, race, etc.
It would require us to acknowledge that while someone may have a faith based upon certain values – that faith does not trump the rights if individuals to freedom of thought, belief and life.

08 June 2007

What the...

Didn't you...wasn't there...I could of sworn...

Hey, Wasn't There Some Sort Of National Tragedy A Few Months Back?

Wait a minute. I could swear that I was recently shocked and outraged about something that felt really significant. But now I can't for the life...

Yes, Virginia, you did and there was. Our feeble little minds have let slip a previous "tragic event". That event (I presume) was the shootings at Virginia Tech. But this simply underscores the trivial nature of most of these events. Even the tsunami which slapped Indonesia like a fading pro-wrestler is largely excluded from our memories.

Take a moment and write down the top five recent disasters or tragedies, in terms of loss of life.

Okay, pencil's down - how did you do? Did you include the Frisco quake? What about the heat wave in Europe? If we expand to manmade disasters, did you include Rwanda, Bosnia, or Cambodia? There is, of course, a site which catalogs these events for you.

In fact during 2006 alone almost 40,000 people perished in disasters. They included Transport Accident - 7009; Epidemic - 6248 (almost exclusively Africa); Flood - 6020 (largely Asia); Earthquake - 5890. China leads the world in industrial accidents. With at least 702 reported in 2006. Who knows how many more are actually lost.

The bottom line is that most of the "terrible events" in the United States are trivial when weighed against this toll. Even the awful shooting in Blacksburg, dreadful in any measure, is hard to compare to the loss of 2500 innocents in one Phillipine flood.

We are bombarded with so much information and events so quickly, we can not even recall some of the most simple information about our recent past. People count on this fact. They count on the fact we can not remember.

Some of this inability is a good thing. Otherwise I predict we would be paralyzed by fear and simply curl up in a corner. But the less savory of our populations (and I mean folks like politicians) count on us not recalling when promises are broken or scandals emerge.

I don't know about you, but I'm gonna start writing this stuff down.

Now, where did my pencil go?

04 June 2007

Doomed, or not…

Those nutty physicists are at it again! In a typical, overly erudite article in the New Yorker magazine, scientists at CERN have built a machine to destroy the world!

Well, maybe not. The issue at hand is probability versus possibility. Possibility is the set of events encompassing all outcomes. It may be time limited or not. For example, it may be said that all things are possible. And in the strictest sense of the definition this is true. The world ending outcomes of certain experiments at the LHC at CERN are possible. However, as you may have surmised, the probability is exponentially low. It is probability which drives most of our decision making. If I exceed the speed limit here, I will probably not be caught, although there is a possibility of being ticketed.

Probability, I contend is the root of all evil.

The unlikely and improbable are worth exploring. I am a big fan of the unknown. I enjoy watching shows like Ghost Hunters and applaud the semi-scientific approach used by itinerant Rhode Island, plumbers Jason and Grant.

Like David Duchovny’s character on the X-files, Fox Mulder – I want to believe. But I am not a fan of self delusion. When a subject is moves from the realm of improbable to the realm of wholly unlikely, I tend to lose interest. A prior favorite topic of interest was crop circles. M. Night Shyamalan made these popular in his very entertaining science fiction / horror flick Signs.

After that film a lot of attention was paid to the phenomenon. There are some very serious people looking at the fringes of our knowledge and understanding. Some of these people are in the group CSICOP. Some of these people are as serious, just not too diligent.

Some circle fans have worked hard to stitch the occurrence of crop circles to aliens and UFOs. Others attribute “earth energy” and paranormal origins to these “manifestations”. For example, the images represented on the BLT (no relation to the tasty sandwich) site are the result of too much wishful thinking and some clear manipulation of images. On the other hand, several folks spend a lot of time documenting the first circle of the season.

At times their attachment is seemingly harmless, and yet their zealous adherence to non-rational explanations is curious. Although the reality of these designs is far more mundane (great revelation from the BBC Inside Out Crop Circles Revealed), the tenacity with which people cling to clearly improbable beliefs is the real subject of my curiosity. On the Circlemakers page resides a good work of the treatise on the philosophy of circles. It speaks to powerful cultural forces and how humans construct their inner worlds.

As evidence I share with you an e-mail exchange with one Dr. Johan Carl Calleman. Dr. Calleman is (was) a biologist who conducted serious research for a period of time. At some point he became fascinated with the Mayans and the writings of individuals who attributed a variety of extra-normal abilities, particularly in regard to their calendar. Dr. Calleman wrote his own book and now leads a sect(?) of believers who contend that global change will occur in 2012.


I actually like him, he has never shied away from debate, answers his own e-mail and is pleasant. However, on this topic I felt compelled to challenge him. He gratuitously linked a crop circle to his interpretation of the Mayan calendar.
From: Carl Johan Calleman [mailto:cjcalleman@swipnet.se]
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2007 4:11 PM
Subject: Crop Circle marks the midpoint of the Fifth DAY (May 22, 2007, 5
Please feel free to post and disseminate!

Crop Circle marks the midpoint of the Fifth DAY (May 22, 2007, 5 Ahau) A
possible link between the Mayan calendar and the crop circles has for long been
a matter of discussion. Around the critical midpoint of the Galactic Underworld
(May 22, 2007, 5 Ahau in the Sacred Mayan Calendar) several hundred thousand
people have been gathering around the planet for celebrations and peace
meditations (The Breakthrough Celebration, see http://www.commonpassion.org/).

Significant ceremonies being part of this world wide movement are the
Oneness day of May 20 (3 Edznab), the Jerusalem Hug of May 21 (4 Cauac) and The
World Tree (Medicine Wheel) of May 22 (5 Ahau). All of these themes seem to have
been reflected in a crop circle that was reported in Wiltshire, early in the
season, on the exact midpoint of the Fifth DAY of the Galactic Underworld, http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2007/wexford/wexford2007.html
a day when also elders in Guatemala performed ceremonies to honor the four
directions. This is one of the most amazing associations seen to date between
the crop circle phenomenon and the Mayan calendar. It raises the question
whether this crop circle was somehow a reflection of the collective
consciousness of humanity as manifested in the themes of this breakthrough
celebration or if it comes out of a cosmic level of intelligence.

Namaste and In Lak'ech
Carl Johan
Carl Johan Calleman

From: CD
To: Carl Johan Calleman
Subject: Crop Circles

Dr. Calleman,

I am concerned as the
crop circle phenomenon has been largely debunked. I see no connection, other
than some intrepid individuals creating this agri-art. http://www.circlemakers.org/. You risk
continued distraction from your message by associating with known frauds.

Best regards,


From: Carl Johan Calleman [mailto:cjcalleman@swipnet.se]
Sent: Saturday, June 02, 2007 4:43 PM
To: Citizen DeuxSubject:
Re: Crop Circle marks the midpoint of the Fifth DAY (May 22, 2007, 5 Ahau)
Dear CD,

Few experts on Crop Circlesw would agree with you. Even though a few might
have been made by humans it seems most our not.

Carl Johan 2 jun 2007 kl. 22.39 skrev:

From: Citizen Deux Sent: Saturday, June 02, 2007 4:59 PM
To: Carl Johan CallemanSubject:
RE: Crop Circle marks the midpoint of the Fifth DAY (May 22, 2007, 5 Ahau)

Dr. Calleman,

I would be interested to understand the CV of the "experts" you quote. The
crop circle phenomenon is clearly man made. The localized geography (England,
parts of the US and the Netherlands - areas with advanced systems to detect and
analyze such "events"), commercial demonstrations and lack of substantive
evidence belies any unearthly genesis.

May I suggest · The Field Guide: The Art, History and Philosophy of Crop
Circle Making by Rob Irving and John Lundberg, edited by Mark Pilkington
(Strange Attractor 2006) ISBN
A solid treatise on the popular culture phenomenon of circles.


Perhaps not surprisingly, this is a pretty loose connection. The crop circle “season” begins in the Wiltshire area of England and runs through the harvest in the fall. But more interesting is the desire of Dr. Calleman, and others, to divine some greater purpose from the seemingly unpredictable existence in which we reside.

This continual pull between reason and faith lives today in the myriad of beliefs which one can find (with ease) online. These beliefs range from the CERN catastrophe about to take place, to the 2012 theorists and of course to all the political conspiracies one can name.


I remain open to the possible, but will commit my energies to the probable.
UPDATE: E-mail edited for chronology.