Friday, June 26, 2009

Dragons in the Mist

Everywhere you go in the world Dragon Whole and Dragon Hole are at each others' throats. But their long drawn-out contest is nothing new.

For ages and ages they had grappled in fierce contentions; then along came new inventions, so they debated with fierce intentions.

"Yada, yada, yada," roared Dragon Whole.
"Blah, blah, blah," Dragon Hole retaliated.
DW: "You're outmoded and irrelevant."
DH: "You'fe outlandish and irresponsible."
DW: "You would forever tolerate the haves taking advantage of the have-nots."
DH: "You want the government to do everything."
DW: "Only the public sector can clean up this mess you've made."
DH: "Who are you kidding? Fanny and Freddy started the whole dam thing."
"Yeah? Well the dam burst because you overloaded it with derivatives and CDSs."
"No. The dam burst because you've got everybody expecting a handout."
"Yeah, right. BofA and Citi."
"Uh, no. They'll pay that back. It's UAW and Acorn that got this economy hog-tied."
"Yada, yada, yada," roared Dragon Whole.
"Blah, blah, blah," Dragon Hole retaliated.
DW: "You never found those WMD, did ya?"
DH: "Don't go changing the subject. You don't even know what a balanced budget looks like."
DW: "Excuse me. It was Billy bob who had a balanced budget before you started throwing money at the eternal Sunni-Shiite bone of contention."

There's another Dragon Whole vs. Dragon Hole thing going on. Anyway,

DH: "Don't forget 9/11."
DW: "How can I? That's all you ever talk about."
DH: "It never happened again, did it? We chased their terrorist asses out into the desert."
DW: "Uh, more like, into a hole. A bottomless cave in Afghanistan that--"
DH: "Bottomless? Bottomless is what the dollar will be when Bill and Ben crank up those government printing presses."
Dragon Whole: "It's all relative. As a percentage of GDP it's nowhere near what it was after WWII, and we recovered from that well enough."

Dragon Hole sighed and cast an exasperated eye upon his nemesis."You know, that's your problem. You think everything is relative. You have no absolute values, no moral compass."
Dragon Whole: "Oh yeah? Don't go changing the subject on me now. Besides, who are you to claim the moral high ground? You should have given your boys on Wall Street a little moral instruction before they ran the capitalist system aground on the rocks of greed. Now we have to bail them out."
DH: "No, you don't. We don't want your money."
DW: "What are you talking about? It was your man Hank who cut the deal. The fox guardin' the chicken house is what that was. Furthermore, don't give me that 'We don't want your money' crap. That's what your man San said before he took his little state-financed holiday makin' whoopee in Argentina. No, you guys are so, like, totally without a leg to stand. It's time for you to abdicate, just get out of the way, and we'll take care of everything from here on out. We'll clean up this mess.

Dragon Hole hung his head in shame, let his tail fall between his legs and started to walk away. Red scales fell like rain. Hole no longer went to play along the merry lane.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...To be continued...

Carey Rowland, author of Glass Chimera

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Plea to Messers Hu and Wen

Please, please, please Mr. Chinese airport man,
allow me in your Republic if you can.
As we approach your Middle Kingdom shore
we'll thank you for the open door.

I have a passport and a visa too.
I hope it's sufficient between me and you.
And if to our US Treasury you will lend,
I'll bring some dollars for us to spend.

And while you're at it tell Mr. censor man
to unblock my website if he can;
release my TPM and blogspot too.
Please do it for me, Mr. Wen and Mr. Hu.

Please and, Xie Xie, thank you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pray for Iran

Pray  today, Saturday June 20 2009, for the people of Iran, especially for those brave souls who have placed their lives in jeopardy by taking a public stand for accountability in government.

Who can know the mind and heart of the opposition leader, Mir-Hossein Mousavi?  Not me. Not anyone in west. Maybe not even the Iranian people.  Perhaps they are being manipulated by a demagogue who will prove to be as unfriendly toward open government as Ahmadinejad has been.

I don't think so.  But that's not the issue. The point here is that the people of Iran want to select their number one guy in a free and fair election. That's what they are saying with their bold presence in the streets of Teheran and other cities. 

We need to stand with them in prayer. Yes, I know that their battle cry is "Allah Akbar." But what would you say if you were a Muslim? That's like a Brit saying "God save the queen," or a Frenchman saying "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite." 

It's like an American saying, "In God we trust."  

Pray for the people of Iran.  Pray that their stand against tyranny can prevail. Pray for their safety.  Pray that the heart of  Ayatollah Khameini and  the mullahs will be moved with compassion, and that those leaders will not foolishly call for police or military action against the people. 

Pray for an open an free society in Iran where people can vote in legitimate elections to select their own leaders.

Carey Rowland, author of  Glass half-Full   

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Between heaven and the deep dark hole

Recently I picked up an old copy of National Geographic (May, 2005) from the school where I work.  In that May 2005 edition is a fascinating article by Marcia Bartusiak about  Albert Einstein, antimatter, and our expanding universe.

The groundbreaking physicist figured out quite few things about our universe. He posited that time is relative, that matter and energy are interchangeable, and, get this, space can stretch and warp. 

Even though he revealed his general theory of relativity in 1915 which would later revolutionize the way we think of the cosmos, he held on, for a while, to an old concept that the universe is static.  He had a feeling, however, that maybe that immutability was not the case.  There was this notion floating around the scientific world that maybe the galaxies were  in some kind of motion, just like everything else—the planets and their moons, the beings that populate those planets, and the molecules and atoms within them. And, although he had postulated, by mathematics, some amazing things that were later proven by Arthur Eddington, he could not get his mind around this motion idea enough to accept and prove it.  So he just agreed with the prevailing opinion among his colleagues and predecessors that the galaxies, whatever they are, were just there, pretty much in their respective same places all the time.


About a decade later, Edwin Hubble did some more quantitative studies and was able to prove that other galaxies are racing away from ours. As Bartusiak reported in her National Geographic article, Einstein said in 1931: “The red shift of distant nebulae has smashed my old construction like a hammer blow.”  He accepted proof that the universe is in a mode of  continuous expansion. His “mistake” about immutability also showed that, well,  not even the brightest star of the physics universe has the whole thing figured out. 


There is no one who really has the whole big picture figured out.  Einstein broke theoretical ground with his proof of relativity and the interchangeability of energy and matter.  But it took others to bring his far-reaching concepts into the realm of proof.  About a decade after Einstein announced his general theory of relativity, Edwin Hubble  grasped the implications of these newly discovered principles  and  took them to the next level by providing measurable evidence. A few years after that a Belgian, Georges Lemaitre, figured out the big bang that we hear so much about today.


Science is like that, you know.  It’s collaborative.  People—even the best and the brightest—veer somewhat from the paths of actuality.  Others come along contemporarily or later and analyze their results, run new experiments, and then form better hypotheses that produce  better conclusions, while themselves making mistakes that still others will later improve or correct.


In the early 20th century, there was this Einstein/Hubble work  plodding along in the world of physics; it lead to, among other things (like nuclear power), our discovery that the universe is expanding. The history of science is full of  similarly productive exchanges that produce revelatory results: Watson-Crick/Pauling and the structure of DNA, Darwin/Wallace in evolution, Lavoisier/Priestley in chemistry. Newton/Leibniz in calculus. There are many others.


People working in physics these days have more and more data all the time by which to form new hypotheses and concepts about what’s going on out there in the expanse of space. A big part of that information we have today is gathered through the Hubble telescope, which is named after the scientist mentioned above who proved universal expansion.


The guys and gals who are working on these problems have been taking a long, hard look in recent years at “black holes” and “dark matter.” According to National Geographic, “Something out there holds swarms of galaxies together and keeps their stars from flying apart, but scientists still haven’t learned what this invisible substance is.” They call it "dark matter." As near as we can figure, this stuff keeps the gravity in the universe from sucking everything back into the original pre-big-bang primordial atom.


An odd characteristic of this mysteriously dark entity is that it bends light rays.  Black holes attract light in a way similar to earth attracting a ball that you might throw.  You can throw the thing as hard as you want to, but eventually the earth will pull it, in a curving arc, all the way down until its hits the ground.  Light in space follows a similarly curved path. It leaves earth; we might think that  its wave configuration travels forever in a straight path. But it appears now that eventually it will be sucked into a black hole somewhere in deep space. The cosmos is not a big flat plane, but a huge ever-expanding lumpy collection of matter, energy and dark matter. It’s complicated, I know, so I’ll wind this thing down. 


I was ruminating on some these phenomena—the big bang, which is thought to have begun with an incredibly dense presence of dark matter, and the black holes that we now detect and/or hypothesize in space, and how they suck stuff (light and matter) into themselves.


I thought about myself, too.  I have a body, which is composed of matter and energy. Someday my body  will die and decay.  The matter will deteriorate and become part of the earth from which it originated, and be recycled; the energy will be recycled too. And according to Einstein, there will be a little back-and-forth action going on between the matter and energy.

But there’s another thing.  Have you heard of it?  We call it the soul. It was discovered before we had the benefit of scientific explanation. Moses was one pioneer of soul research.  What is a soul?

Here’s my hypothesis: (And I cannot prove this but I believe it and so it becomes my faith.) Soul is essence of  me, who I am, probably has a lot to do with that energy that becomes a part of the cosmos.  When my body is no longer useful, the soul  will jettison it.  At that moment, my soul—my essence, what I have become in this life--will be sucked out of this eartlhly configuration.


I’ll lighten up in a major way, and begin my journey to antimatter.  One of those black holes out there will draw my little soul essence right into itself as fast as the speed of light.  Goodbye cruel world.  One of those dark matter warps in the universe is one hell of a place. Another is heavenly; I’m sure of it.  I’ll choose the latter, thank you. Beam me up, Jesus.

But, please, not until it’s my time to go.


Monday, June 15, 2009

" And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, 
     and the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
  And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
     and a little child shall lead them.
  And the cow and the bear will graze;
     their young will lie down together,
  And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
  The nursing child will play
     by the hole of the cobra;
  And the weaned child will
     put his hand on the viper's den.
  They will not hurt or destroy
     in all my holy mountain..."

Friday, June 12, 2009

hijab, hoochycoochy, young lady or Yentl?

Well, I'm a father with two daughters, both of them trained as journalists at the University of North Carolina.  I encouraged them in the pursuit of that adventuresome profession; I did not hold them back in any way from attaining education and proficiency. 

This morning, I found myself comparing my two young ladies to a female personage of a different sort. It was the mental image of a  Muslim woman with face half-covered  and typical Muslim female garb.

This visage  had entered my mind while reading MJ Rosenberg's post. I had checked out his link to Rabbi Pomerantz's statements, which had been provoked by our honorable President's  recent speech in Cairo.  Dr. Pomerantz mentioned the Muslim practice of requiring women to wear the hijab, or face veil.

I'm glad my daughters are not required to wear that getup, and I'm sure they were, are, pleased that it was not part of their growing-up restrictions. (There were some restrictions.)

But you know how the mind skips around a bit. The next thing you know, while making this mental comparison between my girls and the sharia-clad gals, I'm thinking about Britney Spears. She was prancing in some video that I saw online way back whenever, a year or so ago, I don't know.

Anyway, here's something to think about: a comparison of three female images: 1.) a Muslim woman in traditional clothing.  2.) a typically modern, relaxed American girl in a dress or pansuit, and 3.) Britney Spears in...

Then I'm thinking about the difference between these three.  And so I raised a few analytical questions about them, to whit: 
1.) The image of the Muslim woman in traditional garb is a standard that is set forth by much of the Muslim culture. (T or F?)
2.) The image of the typical American gal is...she is what she is, free to be what she wants to be. (T or F?)
3.) The image of Britney scantily clad and writhing while millions watch is a standard set forth by: a.) American culture? b.) MSM? c.) her promoters? d.) right wing extremists? e.) left-wing libertines? f.) American foreign policy (de facto)?

Another image I encountered during this imaginative tour was: Barbra Streisand as Yentl serving tea and/or gefilte fish to a yeshiva student...  neither here nor there

The culmination of this subliminal slide show is this:  If you compare these three images of a womanhood, perhaps you'll understand why many in the Muslim world hate us and our exported American anything-goes attitudes. 

Finally, one little question, food for thought.  Dr. Suess might ask it this way:  What would you do if your mother asked you?

Carey Rowlnd, author of Glass half-Full 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

His last full measure of devotion

We honor the life and  service of Stephen T. Johns, who was killed today (Wednesday, June 10, 2009) while performing his duty at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington. 

We live and prosper in a free nation because men and women like Mr. Johns are willing, every day, to stand in our defense. Today he paid the dearest price of all, as he offered up the "last full measure of devotion." He gave his life on our behalf, so that human freedom and dignity might be preserved and extended.

Our condolences are offered to his family and friends.

The Most Creative Number


23 chromosomes + 23 more chromosomes = new creation.
The most precious art of all.

But it's Fragile.  Handle with care.

Carey Rowland, author of Glass half-Full

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


We Americans will not condone  (thank God) the torture of war prisoners; yet we allow unborn children to be tortured to death.

Go figure.