Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Location: California, United States

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Moderate View of Abortion

I’m going to write this post today and I’ll comment on it, but then I’ll be through writing about this issue until the Senate Judicial Committee begins to question Roberts for the Supreme Court appointment.

The abortion issue may be the hottest of the hot button issues that we have in America today. Some people will avoid a group of people talking about the abortion issue no matter which side of the fence they are on, because they just don’t want people to know what they really feel about this issue. This is because most people in America today realize that abortion is not pretty, but they also don’t want the government telling women what they can and can’t do with their body.

As I wrote in a comment earlier this week is the main issue with abortion isn’t whether it should be legal, but when does a fetus become protected as a human being under the law. Extremists on the right contend that the moment of conception is that moment and therefore any abortion is murder. Extremists on the left contend that the moment of birth is that moment and abortion should not be illegal under any case. Most Americans have some feelings in the middle of these two extremes.

If we listen to what God tells the pregnant women through her thoughts and feelings we would find that a pregnant women generally becomes more attached to the fetus as it grows in the womb. This attachment is God’s way of having the woman bond with the child before it is even born. In this way giving the woman the choice to have an abortion determines when her bond with the child has exceeded that of a family pet. I say this, because only a cruel person could find it in her own heart the ability to kill the family pet. If a woman could find it in her heart the ability to terminate a pregnancy she has not bonded with the fetus yet and the status of the fetus must be less than that of the family pet. So, it only makes sense to leave this major decision to the woman who is pregnant.

One wise conservative blogger responded to this insight by saying that not all women will bond to the fetus in the same way. Some may never bond to the fetus. This certainly could be true, but if a woman does not have the ability to bond with the fetus what makes you think that government imposed pregnancy will make that woman bond with her child after birth? I would argue that if a woman realizes that she has no other option than to terminate the pregnancy and she is willing to do this she should be allowed to do it as soon as possible. In fact, women who know in advance that they don’t want to have children should obviously avoid getting pregnant. Therefore the first line of defense would be to avoid having sex. When this fails they should use contraception. If this fails they should consider having the child and giving it up for adoption. Obviously abortion should be the last resort in the line of defense against women who will resent their child and raise a sociopath. It is strange that a conservative that would suggest that a death row inmate could never reform and therefore should be put to death would expect that a woman who is forced into baring a child by the government would somehow be able to reform that resentment of her child. Either people can be reformed or they can’t, but it is certainly strange to take both sides of this issue.

I would like to conclude that most Americans actually couldn’t personally have an abortion because of personal beliefs or feelings. However, just because they can not personally find the need in themselves does not mean that they should not allow those in our society who have found themselves in the situation of being pregnant and they know in their heart that they could not provide the environment necessary to raise the child to have an abortion. Most people actually agree with this idea. The problem with this issue is the small group of extremists that have a warped ideology compared to reality. They should be put in the same category as the Islamic extremists who believe in their ideology to the point that they are willing to kill for it. This is why we have extremists who obstruct abortion clinics and blow them up.

Those are my thoughts on this subject; calling me a murderer or worse are certainly not going to change my mind.

, and

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sex and Violence

I wasn’t surprised by the reaction to the uproar over “Grand Theft Auto.” Here is a game where the object is to steal cars and kill people. Obviously these are values that we shouldn’t be teaching our children, or even adults for that matter. But, with the aid of a download from the Internet the once extremely violent game now becomes an extremely violent game with cartoon sex in it. Suddenly the rating of the game must be raised one level higher, making it virtually unsellable.

What the hell is going on here? American values somehow allow quite disgusting violence that would result in people going to jail if done in real life. However, two people having sex, which is currently legal in at least 48 states raises the level of vulgarity to a level that is unacceptable for decent people. Isn’t this at bit irrational?

Well, as I said I wasn’t surprised by this because I have witnessed this bizarre behaviour in real life as well.

I am on the board of directors for an organization that invites artists to present their work. (I shouldn’t go into to much detail here, even though some of my fellow board members do read this blog I shouldn’t make it to obvious for those involved.) In the process of inviting an artist to perform we generally review some of the previous work of the artist to get an idea of what they could present. Of course we also encourage them to present new work that we haven’t seen as well.

About one week before the exhibition the artist told us that there would be some violence and nudity in his presentation. A couple of folks get upset about the nudity, but never mentioned any opposition to the violence. They argued that the nudity would create an unwanted reputation on our organization. But somehow the violent theme which pertained to Marxist rebels overthrowing a government in the 1960s didn’t really phase the group very much.

My attitude was to warn people before they bought tickets and let it go. People can make decisions based on information, but censoring the artist goes against my belief in freedom of expression.

Well, it turned out that these objectors just didn’t show up for the event, and they missed a very good and tastefully done presentation. But, that is their loss.

So, in order to understand this bizarre behaviour in America we need to understand that the root of this issue is based in Religion. The problem is found in the writings of St. Paul and his stoic ideas that found there way into Christianity. This same tragic infusion from St. Paul is also responsible for the pro-punishment philosophy of conservatives that I wrote about yesterday.

The idea stems from the idea that punishment is good. Now, we should realize from the start that when something is good it doesn’t mean that more of the same is always better. Candy may be good, but eating it for every meal is bound to be a problem. Similarly cutting down on salt may be good for blood pressure, but cutting it out of your diet completely could make you lethargic. Cutting fat from a obese person’s diet could be healthy for them, but cutting fat from a developing child’s diet could prevent their brain from developing properly. Hopefully I have given enough examples to show that moderation in most things leads to success, while extreme reactions often lead to tragedy.

So, St. Paul writes his stoic ideas into the Bible he tells us “But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” 1 Tim 5:6 The reader gets the idea that pleasure must not be good. Pain on the other hand is viewed as good when Paul tells us, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,” Galatians 4:19. With enough of this imagery readers are persuaded that pain is good and pleasure is bad.

This is not a new thing, the Franciscans, an order of priests who followed the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, often used a metal tool to beat their backs until they bled. They became addicted to pain for pain’s sake. The stoic idea however is that hard work is not easy and working hard will pay off in the end even if you suffer along the way. St. Paul was trying to make this point, but his readers tend to take the point to extreme ends. Similarly, the stoic idea is to avoid being lazy, because taking time off from work often results in not having your basic needs later in the year. If you run out of firewood at the end of February and March is still cold you may get sick and die. But, if you push the pain idea to it’s illogical conclusion you should praise God for having the opportunity to suffer through the Cold March without firewood. Or, you could just forget about the wood for the entire winter and suffer right on through.

So, when conservatives get this warped idea of pain and pleasure in their minds they praise the pain and they punish the pleasure. So, once again the illogical conclusion is that violence is good because it is needed to inflect the needed pain on those who will be thankful for it. However, the sex is the forbidden pleasure that no one should know about. Knowing about this pleasure will obviously result in the people opting out of the pain idea in favor of the pleasure. And, maybe you can prevent children from this by using threat of punishment it is much more difficult to prevent adults from knowing about this. So, instead the adults must be shamed into guilt of even thinking about these things.

The strength of these two human drives is derived from the need for these two drives. The sex drive is so powerful because it is the drive that ensures the continuation of the human race. Pain is right up there as well, because pain prevents us from doing stupid things like burning our hands, dropping rocks on our feet and working to hard for to long.

After all this I hope that you will realize that American culture has a warped idea of both sex and violence. Violence is praised and tolerated while sex is shunned. However, most violent acts are illegal at some level and sex between consenting adults is legal in most states.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Pro-Punishment Conservatives

Once again, the anti-abortion folks come out of the woodwork to bolster their argument that they are pro-life. I will continue to disagree with their assertion, because they show no action to prove it. As I have pointed out in my previous post the majority of conservatives come down on the pro-death side of eight issues I have shown.

Well, I would propose that they are not pro-life, but pro-punishment. This is easy to see in the case of the death penalty, conservatives argue that the criminal deserves death for his crime. This is a pro-punishment argument, not a pro-life argument. Someone who is truly pro-life believes that a life is sacred and no matter what the history of that life is. Criminals can still use their life for good, because they still have free will. A person that believes in the sacredness of life could not take a life no matter what the crime, because God loves every person and who are we to choose when the life should be taken. Arguing that the person must pay the penalty for the crime makes no sense to a pro-life person, because the law may be a God given law, but it is a human made penalty. The penalty can be changed. Not only that, but surely even the most simple minded person should be able to see that a person serving a life sentence suffers every day in remembering the crime and pain they caused, while the person put to death no longer thinks about it.

But, the other issues can also be framed in the pro-punishment framework. For example, abortion is also a pro-punishment stance for radical right conservatives. We should remember forty or fifty years ago before abortion and birth control God punished women for having sex out of wedlock. The punishment was pregnancy. The radical right longs for the day when God’s punishment is still meted down on those who have sex out of matrimony. These radical conservatives not only want an end to abortion rights, but they also want an end to access to birth control for those who are not married. Of course they fight these battles one at a time and this isn’t the top of the agenda. But look at the cases we know about. Conservatives oppose the distribution of condoms in public schools. The Catholic Church opposes birth control of any kind even for married people. The evidence points to the pro-punishment view of this issue. Women should be forced to bare the fruit of their womb because it is punishment for having sex when they should have refused. Never mind the details of each case where women are raped, or coerced into having sex. Of course, the women are punished as God wants, but because of man’s nature men are not held responsible.

Other issues can also be seen in the same light of pro-punishment conservatives. The poor are lazy and they deserve the lack of material goods as punishment for not working hard enough. Of course the tax issue can also be viewed in this light. Taxes are like fines, which of course are a form of punishment. Why should God-fearing Americans be punished with taxes? The idea of funding a government for the good of all people makes no sense to pro-punishment conservatives. So, if you take taxes to help the poor you are punishing the wealthy for working hard and rewarding the poor for being lazy. This logic falls apart when you look at the reality of the situations where the poor get trapped into economic strata as a very recent study has shown.

And, the idea of universal health care falls into this pro-punishment idea that dates back to the days of Jesus. Unfortunately the radical right falls on the opposite side of the fence from Jesus here. Jesus tells us that sin has nothing to do with the illness that one suffers. But, the radical right has been heard saying in the 1980s that homosexuals were being punished by God for their lifestyle. Health care for all would give healthcare to those that God wants to suffer based on the radical rights witness. The weak are weak because God punishes these people.

And, who can forget War. Obviously war is a punishment enacted on another nation. In the case of Iraq the Radical Right conservatives in the White House decided that Saddam Hussein deserved to be punished for having nuclear weapons, even though he didn’t have them. Surely this is more pro-punishment and less pro-life, because going into a war everyone involved knows that lives will be lost. Then they decided to punish Joe Wilson for telling the American people that Iraq didn’t have any nuclear weapons, or even the uranium needed to make the weapons. Obviously the punishment theme runs deep here.

It seems to me that at least the radical right conservatives are not pro-life, but instead they are pro-punishment and they use the pro-life label to hide their true intentions.

, and

Friday, July 22, 2005

Add Yourself to the Pro-Life Category

Conservative Republicans claim to be Pro-Life, but some of them are only anti-Abortion but not truly Pro-Life. I am willing to accept the few Pro-Life conservatives to wear the Pro-Life label if they live up to the Pro-Life standard. So here is the challenge:

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to defend not only the rights of the unborn, but also the rights of death row inmates.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to protect other species lives that are endangered or about to go extinct even if the protection may delay economic development.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to sacrifice your lifestyle to help those who are homeless and unprotected even if they live in a poor area of town.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to sacrifice some of your money to insure that there is healthcare for all people, not just those who can pay for it out of their own paycheck.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to go into the poor areas of town to help those that are addicted to drugs.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to pass laws and enforce the laws that help keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of kids.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to protest against the senseless killing in wars throughout the world including the needless killing of the US government in Iraq.

Add yourself to the Pro-Life category if you are willing to fund research to make life worth living by using the latest research on Stem Cells.

If you can even live up to six of these eight challenges then:

Add Yourself to the Pro-Life Category

, and


Our family vacation through Colorado took us to Leadville and Aspen. I mention these two cities in the same sentence because these two cities are both high in the mountains near 10,000 feet above sea level, but they are at the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the economic spectrum. Aspen is a thriving winter home of the wealthy, while Leadville is an old mining town with slagheaps piled around the outskirts of town. Leadville has a downtown area that hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years. Pictures of the main street taken 100 years apart are on display in Healy House, a museum home, showing just how little has changed.

I made the detour to Leadville because I have connections with that town. My great grandfather immigrated initially to Leadville in the late 1800’s. He found a job working in the silver mines around Leadville as many immigrants did. Working in the mines was hard and dangerous work and only those in desperate need of work were willing to take the risks of this dangerous work. It wasn’t much different then as it is today - Immigrants are the only people willing to do the least desirable jobs.

While touring Healy House I learned that the person in which the Unsinkable Molly Brown was based on came from Leadville. For those of you who don’t know the story, Molly Brown was a poor uncouth woman who came into wealth when her father discovered silver. When she came into money she was hard pressed to learn manners. She found her way in high society by travelling to Europe where she learned culture. She was a passenger on the Titanic’s maiden voyage and survived the ordeal. It turned out that her father was the founder of Leadville.

Well, my great grandfather spent a few years working in Leadville experiencing the culture of the “old West.” This must have been a culture shock for him after his arrival from Europe. And while he was in this country he realized that there were safer opportunities as well. So, he left the silver mines of Leadville to travel back East to Pennsylvania. With his mining skills he decided that working in the Pennsylvanian coal mines was a much safer occupation. All, I could think was, “Wow! Those silver mines must have been pretty bad. When you see all the slagheaps you certainly know that they weren’t very environmentally conscience either.

It turned out that my great grandfather had gone to Leadville without a wife. But he sent for his wife to join him in Pennsylvania where my grandmother was born a Coal Miner’s Daughter. And, she didn’t even like country music.

I was thinking about some of my ancestors. I have written about Daniel Forbes who came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony around 1654. He was a prisoner of Oliver Cromwell’s purge of Scotland. He was sold to the brother of a Barkeep and the brother transferred him to his brother. So, he worked as an indentured servant, a type of slavery, for several years serving up drinks in Puritan Massachusetts. Since Daniel was an illiterate rural Scotsman he had no idea that his thick brogue caused people to write Forbush from the phonetic pronouncement “For Beez” which was the common way to pronounce Forbes in those days. Only one of Daniel’s children went to University where he became a literate preacher and changed the spelling of his last name back to Forbes. It seems strange that he didn’t communicate this to the rest of his siblings, but it is most likely that they just didn’t care. They were mainly farmers who were more concerned with getting food on the table than the spelling of their last name.

There are many of these immigration stories that I don’t know. But, I imagine that there are many individuals that made that leap of faith into the unknown, or they were forced away from what they did know. Either way, it takes guts to make it in a new and unusual place under the worst conditions that the new society offers.

I have experienced this feeling when I lived in Germany for three years. There was so much to learn about the environment, people and culture in the new land. And, I am sure that every person who came from “the old country” had to deal with this in the same way. Similarly I have empathy for those who are coming to America even today. There is so much more to learn and it comes so fast. For many immigrants there is also the difficulty in learning a new language as well as the new customs. And, there are those who are willing to take advantage of these people while they are most vulnerable. If only these people would think of their own ancestor’s tribulations suffered while coming to this country and they might be a bit nicer to the newest immigrants.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Politics on the Road

As I have said before, I have seen a cross-section of America on our family vacation this year.

For example, I have seen quite a few soldiers and Iraqi vets on my travels. In Colorado we stopped at a rest stop and I went into a little gift shop. In the gift shop the cashier asked the people purchasing things where they came from. When a soldier who was driving to his new base told her this she asked him if he had been “over there.” His response was, “Over where?” She said, “you know, Iraq.” He responded proudly that he had been in on the first wave. But, he didn’t say anything more so the cashier asked if he was going back. And the proud smugness fell away and he responded with a demure, “Yep.” So, the cashier pushed a little harder, “When are you going back?” The soldier just said, “I’ll go back when they tell me I’m going back.”

Obviously this soldier wasn’t anxious to get back to the battle.

But, I saw other vets on my travels. I saw two young guys on separate occasions that had missing legs. These were young strong guys that had certainly been in good shape. It was quite sad thinking about how unnecessary Bush’s war in Iraq was and what these people had paid for his selfishness.

When I drove through Utah one day I thought that I would wear my liberal attire. I put a large earring in my ear and I wore my tie dye “peace sign” T-shirt. Since Utah went nearly 80% for Bush I thought that I might get a response from someone. When I stopped by another rest area on that day I saw a vet on crutches. He hadn’t lost his leg, but was certainly twisted in an unnatural way. I thought that I might get a hostile reaction from him as I passed him going into the restroom. He managed to pause and flash me a peace sign as I went into the restroom. An older gentleman was in the restroom. He stood there and watched me. He gave me a hard stare when I looked up at him. As I went over to wash my hands I thought that he might say something to me or even obstruct my exit from the restroom. I just walked by him and left, but I could tell that he was displeased.

I thought that it was quite interesting that a vet who actually had suffered damage to his leg was willing to flash the peace sign, but the older guy who wasn’t involved in the conflict was upset about what I was wearing. It’s too bad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Scandals and Such

Scandal has always been a part of Washington. Teapot Dome and Watergate come to mind. When the scandals are real and the people are guilty then the scandal serves the purpose of raising awareness of the public and keeping politicians in line. But scandals are also dangerous to honest politicians. Look back at March 2000. John McCain had just won the New Hampshire primary by 20 points over Karl Rove and his buddy George Bush. But Karl Rove didn’t panic, instead he talked to some key people in South Carolina. Of course we don’t know exactly what he said, but the result was a “push poll” in South Carolina where people posing as pollsters call up unsuspecting people and ask questions like: “Were you aware that John McCain is a very unstable person? Should an unstable person like John McCain be given the responsibility of the President of the United States? How do you feel if a person like John McCain who could have a mental break down under pressure had the responsibility of defending the United States? Etc…

The effect of this misinformation was a victory for Karl “Bush’s Brain” Rove in the South Carolina primary and clear sailing to the Republican Party nomination. Strangely the accusations against John McCain were never heard of again.

Well, the type of smear is the modus operandi of Karl Rove - Discredit the opposition by any method possible.

Joe Scarborough is quoted in the latest Newsweek as saying that the president should fire Rove. He has been voicing his opposition to Rove on his radio show in Florida. Having a former Republican standing up against the administration is more powerful than a dozen leftists telling Bush to fire Rove. Obviously he is a target.

So, yesterday when I saw this post on a liberal blog I was wondering why this would suddenly surface. And, when I got home and read my Newsweek my suspicions were aroused even further. Maybe Karl is innocent in this particular case. But he has done worse in the past, so I wouldn’t put it past him. But creating a scandal around a former congressman certainly doesn’t hurt Karl Rove. And, when the scandal discredits an enemy of Karl Rove, it actually helps him.

Please be careful not to be a pawn for Karl Rove in spreading this kind of information.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Death in Iraq

A new study has been completed in which a survey of civilian deaths in Iraq have been counted. Since the US armed forces have refused to count the dead other organizations and institutions have been left to do these important exercises without their help. This study has concluded that nearly 25,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since 2003.

This is an important number, because it helps us understand just what this war has done to humans regardless of their nationality.

For example, when president Bush tells the American people that the war in Iraq is worth it because we are killing terrorists in response to the attacks on 9/11/2001. Regardless of this whether this justification is valid or not we are now able to say that George W Bush says that because terrorists killed 3,000 civilians on 9/11 we have started a war that has killed 25,000 civilians. These are not soldiers, these are civilians.

Now, not only has this study told us how many civilians have been killed by this war, but it also tells us how many of these civilians have been killed by insurgents and how many have been killed by US troops. It turns out that 37% or 9,250 civilians have been killed by US troops. And, insurgents have killed 9.5% or 2375 civilians. So, it is clear that US troops have killed three times as many civilians as the insurgents we are fighting. The remaining civilian deaths have been attributed to the lawlessness that was a result of over throwing the government of Iraq.

Read about this report at: link

Dr. Forbush Thinks - Life - Podcast

Life is more than abortion. Anti-Abortion Conservatives loose perspective when they paint the world as black and white. Life has to do with the quality of life. Life has to do with health. Life even has to do with other species that exist on our planet. If the conservative Christians were truly pro-life as their slogan promotes they would certainly have different attitudes toward the environment, the poor, the handicapped, the sick and elderly and even nuclear weapons. How can these people who claim to be pro-life when it comes to abortion be so anti-Life when it comes to these critical issues?

Editorial Opinion: (click here to download the mp3 file) Life

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Arches National Park

A few years ago we found ourselves driving through Utah on Interstate 70 and we considered going to Arches National Park because it isn’t that far off the road. We hesitated and decided to continue on instead. This year’s vacation almost ended in the same situation. This time we were driving on the road that goes past the entrance to the park, state route 191. Arches was actually a destination after we had left Mesa Verde National Park in CO.

As a short aside I should mention another influence of the Christian Right that may be so obvious to the casual observer. In 1993 there was a state route numbered 666. On the map that I had, which was published in 1993 the road is labeled 666. Some people with a knowledge of Revelations may recognize this number as the sign of the Devil or some similar name. I find it interesting that the route has been renamed. Of course I don’t know when or why this was done, but it caused us some delay, because we drove 5 miles past our turn while we continued to look for route 666. Since this number is mentioned as the sign of the Devil in the Book of Revelations which is taken most seriously by the Fundamentalist Christians I can only surmise that this religious group had a hand in it. However, if anyone knows that true story of why the name was changed I’d love to hear about it. Yahoo maps hasn’t updated their map yet:

Map of 666 on Yahoo

Anyway, we were on route 191 heading north toward Arches National Park when I discovered a huge natural Arch on the side of the road. A natural arch is a huge stone structure that has been eroded by wind, rain and ice in such a way to leave a hole through the center. The great thing About this Arch was that it was right on the side of the road and people could climb a path up to the arch where you could have your picture taken while standing in it. This was a very short and easy climb and I took my digital camera with me to capture the moment. Under the arch the stone is very smooth, and if you have sand on your feet the stone actually becomes slippery. I saw quite a few people slip and fall on their bums when their feet gave way. I took some cute pictures of the kids that I lost to digital heaven. But I’ll get to that later.

We took some pictures with our standard film camera, but from a slightly further distance, because my wife didn’t want to chance slipping on the rock when she saw some people get hurt falling. So, when we actually got to the entrance to the Park my kids were no longer excited about going to the park. They were happy that they had already climbed an Arch and they didn’t need to see any more. So, we drove by the park for a second time.

We went on to Boulder, visited our friends and headed back to California. On the way back I suggested that we go to Arches National Park to a quiet groan that only teenage children can make. Part of the problem was that the temperature was approaching 100 degrees and it was only 10:00 AM, but we took a vote and the teenagers were out voted 3 to 2. We entered the park, got the map and decided that we would hike to Delicate Arch which was only about a mile and a half each way. We packed a quart of water for each of us and took off on the hike.

It was hot. This was the hottest of all the hikes we took on our entire trip. This is mainly because it was over 100 degrees by the time we got to the trail head and it was high noon. At the trail head there is a small stream where some idiot decided to live. We all thought he must have been an idiot to live here in the 100 degree dry desert heat, but he was a Civil War veteran who couldn’t stand the cold Ohio winters and had moved there after the War. He built a shack out of the little wood he could find growing along the stream. It was interesting to see this shack reconstructed the way it must have been in the late 1800s.

Delicate Arch is the famous Arch that is pictured on many of the Utah license plates. When you take the hike to the Arch you can also get right under the Arch and take your picture. The only restriction in the park was that you could not climb any of the “named” arches. Arches National Park has 233 arches in the park, and a much smaller number of them are named. The nifty thing about Delicate Arch is the view behind the arch. There are snow-capped mountains off in the distance while you are dying of heat from the 1.5-mile hike to the Arch.

Then once we got to the Arch disaster struck. Well, it wasn’t exactly disaster, but it was disappointing. I pulled my camera out of my pocket and tried to take a picture. However, the switch on the camera had been flipped to video. This was an option that I had never used. Suddenly the video filled up my memory and I couldn’t take any more pictures. So, I thought, I’ll just delete the video file and I’ll be off and running. Well, when I got to the delete panel I had the following option - Delete Frame or Delete All Frames. Seeing that a video is made up of multiple frames I opted for delete all frames and suddenly I realized I had made a grave error. I had deleted all of my pictures from the beginning of the trip. It was about 80 pictures that had been lost to digital heaven. I was extremely upset and there was nothing I could do.

My first reaction was to at least re-take all the pictures that I had taken on the hike out to the Delicate Arch. But, of course that was futile. How could you get hot and tired teenagers to pose again for the same picture. They actually just wanted to get back to the car and eat something. Fortunately we still had some pictures on the film camera. And I just got them back from the developer. So, I’ll end this post with a picture of our family at Delicate Arch, Utah. And this is actually the first picture I have ever posted on my blog that includes a real picture of me…

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Rare License Plates

As I mentioned in my Vacation post we attempted to collect license plates from all 50 states on our vacation. This activity was mainly a way to keep the kids occupied as we drove for hours through the desert. However, as we found out, we collected most of the tags in the parking lots where we stopped. We had a small map of the US that we marked whenever we found a plate, and we had at least one other member of the party verify the plate to eliminate cheating.

Some of you may have expected that Alaska and Hawaii would be the most difficult, but we actually found multiple plates from Hawaii. We also found two plates from Alaska.

During the last few days we were continuously hunting for five plates that were the most difficult to find. They were Rhode Island, South Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut. To our surprise on the second to the last day of our travels we found three of these plates. In fact while we were parked in the Arches National Park we found South Carolina and Connecticut parked next to each other. And, as we were pulling out of the park a car from Maine pulled into the park.

This means that the two remaining plates that we never found were Rhode Island and New Hampshire. I assume the reason for this would be that people from these eastern states would rather fly west and rent a car to drive around.

We also never saw the rare District of Columbia plate. Of course this is my favorite US license plate, especially the version that says: “Taxation without Representation” on it. Of course this is because the District of Columbia has no representation in Congress. This is ironic since we actually based the Revolutionary War on this principle.

In addition we did see plates from both Canada and Mexico. Mexican plates are now more common since the rules allowing Mexican vehicles to cross the border have been eased. I believe we saw Chihuahua and Sonora. From Canada we saw British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.


Dr. Forbush Thinks - Denial - Podcast

Editorial Opinion: (click here to download the mp3 file) Denial

Radical Republicans believe that George W Bush can not be wrong. George W Bush told us that anyone involved in the CIA name leak scandal would be fired. Today George W Bush has changed his official stand to “anyone who has broken the law will be fired.” Well, this requires an investigation and a trial, which will not be completed before George W Bush is out of office. Isn’t that convent?

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Honesty in Reporting

I don't understand the media, but that isn't anything new for me. I read: "In May, the regular army lowered its recruiting goal to 6700 and still missed it by 25 per cent, while the reserve missed its monthly goal by 18 per cent and the guard fell 29 per cent short." at link

Maybe it's garbage or maybe it's true, it was published in New Zealand. But then a paper in South Carolina publishes this information: "The Army Reserve got as close as 95 percent of its monthly recruiting goal in November but has declined since then, making 53 percent in March and 66 percent in April before jumping back to 82 percent in May, according to the Department of Defense."

If you lower the goals can anyone be surprised that the percentage jumped?

Do you think that the Southern Conservative Paper might have an agenda?

Do you think that this is Liberal Media Bias?

Can't anyone be honest with the facts?

The 700 Club Redux

Yesterday I posted a tongue in cheek look at what the 700 Club is telling it’s members and viewers about the next nuclear war. I made fun of the 700 Club by saying that the name was based on only 700 Christians being saved at the “End of the World.” Obviously this has no basis in fact and was said based on the Radical Christian idea that one can only be saved if they find Christ and follow him. Based on the number on Christians in the world and the number of Radical Right Christians that espouse this philosophy I was joking that the number was quite low.

Apparently many Christians thought that I might have been right, because they went to the 700 Club Web page and found that the 700 Club was founded by 700 people who contributed $10.00 each to get the scam off the ground. I have posted a disclaimer in the previous post to make sure that no Christian could be tricked into believing otherwise.

Commenters also pointed out that the 700 Club should be free to be fervent in their belief in the End of the World being around the corner. If you read my post yesterday you should have realized that I did not say that they shouldn’t say these things. Obviously we live in America and we have freedom of speech. But, we should also remember that freedom of speech goes both ways. Also, even with freedom of speech it is still illegal to shout fire in a crowded theater when the fire doesn’t exist.

Therefore, yesterday when I pointed out that The 700 Club was pumping up its viewers with the certainty of a Nuclear Armageddon we should be aware that this is dangerous. When Condi and George told us of the certainty that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons the American people were duped into attacking Iraq preemptively. Can the American people be duped again?

We should look at other religions that preach Armageddon as a central theme. For example Jim Jones took his cult to South America. But, when the Armageddon didn’t happen he decided to make it happen. With ritual he was able to persuade his followers to create their own little Armageddon. We can look at David Koresh as well. He preached Armageddon. David and his followers prepared for Armageddon by stockpiling weapons. When Federal Authorities came in to confiscate the illegal weapons David’s followers believed that the Armageddon was under way. With the preparation David Koresh had persuaded his followers to die for Christ.

The 700 Club is even more dangerous than Jim Jones or David Koresh. The 700 Club preaches Armageddon and they use it to take money from people who believe the end is near. After all, if the end is near why do I need that retirement nest egg? But, with the seed of Armageddon in the minds of these people they can be manipulated in many ways just like Jim Jones’ or David Koresh’s followers. But with the 700 Club the number of people effected is much larger. In fact some people in the White House, or with ties to the White House have expressed belief in Armageddon. Tim LaHaye for example has written a series of books on the subject. Where do you think he got these ideas?

So, this influential cult of Armageddon is well now taking money from those it has convinced of Armageddon. But, what happens when a “true believer” decides that it isn’t coming quick enough? What happens if that true believer is in the White House and he has the power to bring Armageddon to fruition?

Well, even though the 700 Club isn’t the only group preaching this, they may be the group reaching the most people. Other leaders of the Radical Right have said similar things.

For examople, Jerry Falwell predicted in January 1999 that Jesus could return within ten years. But before that can happen, he said that the Antichrist must appear. Referring to the Antichrist, Falwell said: "Is he alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish. Of course he'll pretend to be Christ. And if in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll be an adult at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere today."

My main point still is with or without the sarcasm: The theology of Armageddon is dangerous because its followers find that they have no earthly reason to live. We can not solve earthly problems without the motivation to solve them. Without a will to live we have no motivation to solve problems. And, when impatient true believers of this philosophy or theology come to power they have the power to make Armageddon happen.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

The 700 Club

I am a glutton for punishment. I try to swim two to three miles every morning. On days that I don’t swim I try to run, or at least do some yoga to stay flexible. But physical torture isn’t always enough so I turned on “The 700 Club” for some mental torture today.

That statement was a lie. The swimming, running and yoga were true, but watching “The 700 Club” was a lie. Actually when we went to the gym this morning I went to the pool and my wife went to run on the treadmill. While she was on the treadmill she started watching the TVs hanging from the ceiling. In our gym there are multiple TVs hanging from the ceiling and you need to tune your radio to an FM frequency to pick up the sound. For the last few days the TV with the comedy shows being broadcast had trouble broadcasting the sound, so my wife began to watch “The 700 Club” on another TV.

After our workouts she brought me the news. She told me that The 700 Club is now telling its viewers to prepare for Nuclear War. Well, if you don’t know, the 700 Club is a TV show where they tell their viewers to be saved by Jesus Christ because the end of the World is at hand. Sometimes they tell you other things, but it is usually because they are trying to get to the main point along the way.

The problem is that they have millions of people watching their show, but only 700 are going to be saved. Hence the name. [As a disclaimer to those Christians who thought that the 700 Club actually did mean that only 700 people would be saved and went to the 700 Club web page I will point out that this is meant to be sarcasm. The 700 club was actually founded by 700 members who invested $10.00 each to get the scam ...er program off the ground. The idea was that they could run a scam where they would tell viewers that the end of the world was near and they should donate all their worldly possessions to the 700 Club. Obviously the 700 Club wasn’t very creative, just look at the name. Anyway, Pat Robertson was heard saying, “If only one millionaire were to donate to us we would get, uh… a lot of money each. Just think about it.” (sorry, that was satire.)] Of course their viewers are all convinced that they are the saved ones. The shows producers think that the 700 should be chosen based on the number of viewer hours each person has, therefore the 700 with the highest number of viewer hours are the saved ones. I’m guessing that God doesn’t see eye to eye with the producers.

So, why is this interesting?

This is interesting because the 700 club is now telling their viewers that Iran is the new nuclear threat. Of course twenty-five years ago it was the Russians. And three years ago it was Iraq. Now it’s Iran.

So, this means that the Radical Right who are the faithful viewers of this extremist show are now being told that they are subject to the wrath of Iran. Does everyone remember what happened when Condi and George told their Radical Right Followers that Iraq was going to cause mushroom clouds to appear over our cities? Of course, we invaded Iraq and we killed over 100,000 Iraqis, and nearly 2000 Americans.

Are we ready to do this again?

Well, I think that we should know what the enemy is thinking. It doesn’t matter if the enemy is coming from outside of the US, or from within. We should all be prepared to fight the enemy within with the Democratic war of words. And, we should know that “The 700 Club” is one aspect of the enemy within.


How Extreme Should We Be?

I realized that I was a libertarian way back. Less government in social issues as well as fiscal issues. But, sometimes government investment makes a lot of sense. Moderation in most political ideas seems to make much more sense in the long run. If we let extremists of any ilk gain control of government we are bound to suffer.

Imagine the religious right pulling our society further to the social conservative direction we will have more and more laws that reflect the moral beliefs of one religious group. This isn't any worse than environmental extremists shutting down US business in order to restructure the entire US infrastructure with tight government controls.

If it wasn’t for the current administration’s lack of fiscal control while demanding social control on moral issues I could be tempted to vote for the occasional Republican. Back in the day that Republicans believed that America should defend American soil but not venture off into foreign lands to fight other people’s battles the Republicans could have had a few of my votes. Before the Republicans decided that abortion should be the government’s choice and not a personal choice they could have had a few more of my votes. Back in the day when Republicans thought that the government should only spend the money that they take in they could have had a few more of my votes.

Today the Bush administration has decided that Republicans are the party of borrow and spend. In this way they government doesn’t have to raise taxes in our time. Instead the current administration is passing the burden of these debts to our children and grandchildren. In the scheme of things a Democratic Congress will be elected and perhaps this congress will be fiscally responsible and opt to pay down this debt. This would be beneficial because money that we are using to pay on this loan will be freed to be used in investing in our future instead of being used to pay off our past. However, if Democrats opt to do this they would be labeled as Tax and Spend Democrats for being responsible. So, instead we are bound to pay at least twice as much for the War in Iraq than if we were to just raise taxes to pay for it.

While this is happing we have less and less money for education. However, investment in education for our children will surely pay off in the long run. It has been shown in several American and Swedish studies that early intervention results in less government spending in the future. One study says that one dollar invested in early intervention results in eight fewer dollars spent on prisons, and other social services in the future.

The libertarian model for education would suggest a private education model. Privatization of education has been a failure because the output is not tangible in the same way a manufactured product is. Only the companies that hire the graduates can judge whether the education was a success, and they aren't going to report the salaries offered to these people. Therefore there is a true hole in the method needed to measure whether a school is performing up to an acceptable standard. After all, the school is doing it’s job if the graduates make desirable employees.

Of course, education isn’t only important for employment as some people may think. Education also defines the background for political discussion. The conservatives know this, because they have made it a major goal to redefine education based on religious morals and perceived American culture. The problem with this redefinition is that it is based on perceived ideas rather than scientific observation. A change to education in this way could lead to problems with basic assumptions in future political debate. If these changes became part of the national education system truth of scientific observation could become secondary in political debate.

My point is that carrying one ideology to absurd extremes is bound to cause more trouble that it will fix. However, we also need to curb the extremists that are currently in office before they do more damage than they have already done.

How extreme should we be?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Dr. Forbush Thinks - As They See It - Podcast

Editorial Opinion: (click here to download the mp3 file) As They See It

Even though Christians have harped on “Liberals” for having relative morality they have not come down on this president for dealing with relative truth. Where I come from truth is not relative to your objective. The truth is the reality of the situation and the way things really happened. This president does not believe that at all. Instead the truth in the Bush administration has more to do with the objective of a statement and not the reality of the situation.

, and

Hiking the Grand Canyon

National Parks are generally thought of as the place to go witness the beauty of America. But, if you think about it National Parks are also the place to go to witness the cross section of American people as well. Demonstrated by the diversity of license plates we saw I believe that we probably saw people from every state in the union. We identified license plates from 48 of the 50 states, four Canadian Provinces, and two Mexican states. When you consider that many of these people flew to nearby airports and rented cars I am guessing that even people from the remaining two states were among the crowds we saw.

First of all I can attest to the fact that America is physically out of shape. We hiked from the rim of the Grand Canyon three miles into the Canyon then we turned around and walked three miles back out. Since the hike was nine miles to the bottom it wasn’t considered wise to attempt the 18-mile hike in one day. Instead, it is recommended that you hike to the bottom, camp overnight, then hike out the following day. We were not prepared to do that with the three kids, and without sleeping bags or food. Maybe we’ll do that at another time.

As we walked down the trail people coming up the trail continuously passed us. These people were panting and breathing hard. Some people were sitting on rocks and they looked as if they were dying. Some people stopped on their way down because the trip down was too difficult. We were preparing for the worst, assuming that the trail back was going to take twice as long. We took our time going down the trail and took many pictures along the way. (Many of these pictures are lost, but I write about that later.) It took us about an hour and fifteen minutes to get to Cedar Ridge, which is a large horizontal piece of land sticking out of the otherwise vertical canyon walls. We drank some water and talked to some people who were also taking a breather at this point. We watched some people snapping breathtaking photos out on the nearby rocks. We were no where near tired, but we had expected the return trip to take twice as long as the decent, so we opted to walk back up to the top of the Canyon.

As we walked up the trail people now coming down the trail passed us. These people didn’t seem to be any less tired than the ones we had met as we were going down the trail. The only conclusion I can come to is the America is certainly physically out of shape. I should know, because a couple of years ago I was in much worse shape than I am today. When I was out of shape our family opted to visit Lassen National Park which is the home of several volcanoes. One large cinder cone is on a hiking trail at the park. When I climbed this cinder cone I thought that I was going to die. Climbing something that steep is one thing, but having the cinders fall away on every step makes the trip even further. After that long hard climb I pledged to exercise and get myself back into shape. And, that’s how I lost thirty pounds. So, maybe these Americans who find themselves out of breath climbing the walls of the Grand Canyon will have an epiphany and go home and exercise themselves back into shape like I did.

Well, as we climbed out of the Canyon the kids began to get hungry. In an effort to get them to stop complaining we told them that they could eat as soon as we got back to the car. This really did the trick, because they began to climb up the trail at a quite fast pace. It took less than an hour to climb that three miles up out of the Canyon, a hike in which we had budgeted three hours.

Later that week someone told us that it took them two hours to hike into the Canyon and it took them five hours to hike out. I assume they must have run down the trail quite a distance further than we had and then struggled to make the same distance walking back after they were tired. But, then again you never know how far into the Canyon they went.

Denial is Not a River in Africa

Denial is a state of mind where one refuses to acknowledge reality. In other words, once one refuses to acknowledge reality then by definition the person is living in a fantasy world. But, why would one choose to live in the denial of reality?

In the 1960s people chose to live in other realities because they believed them to be better than the world they were currently living in. In the 1960s the leaders had duped the public into believing that fighting a war in Vietnam was a worthwhile fight for American values. In the 1960s the leaders were convinced that there was a place for racial discrimination in America. But people found it difficult to deny reality and they constantly found themselves looking for new ways to change reality. The mantra of the age was "find a better world."

Some people took drugs. Some people made up new rules to live their lives by. Others chose to collect people together and create new paradigms. Some people chose political action which lead to changes in culture and the world became a better place for the average person.

Not all of these approaches make sense today when we look back on the 1960s and we remember the consequences of these attempts to make a better world.

Today the world is a different place. They leaders of the country have different ideas. Some of the ideas don’t make a lot of sense just like the 1960s. The leaders of our country have duped some of the people in America into believing that fighting a war in Iraq will somehow make America a better place. Slowly the American public is waking up to the truth behind these lies.

One of the threads that has been unraveling has to do with the build up to the Iraq War. Joe Wilson has been telling us since day one that George W Bush used false information that the CIA knew was false to scare the American public and the Congress into supporting the effort in Iraq. George W Bush and Condoleesa Rice painted vivid pictures of mushroom clouds appearing over American cities which couldn’t have been further from the truth. And, the administration knew that it wasn’t true.

When Joe Wilson came forward we now know that Karl Rove, Bush’s right hand man, chose to take revenge by outing Joe Wilson’s wife as a CIA agent. This is a crime based on a 1982 law that explicitly makes it a crime to expose a CIA agent’s identity. This crime is actually treason against the government of the United States, because it attempts to undermine the security of the US by undermining the security of a CIA agent. It also guaranteed that Joe Wilson’s wife lost her value as an undercover agent and would never be able to work in that capability again.

Today some people choose to make the world a better place in much the same way as the as they did in the 1960s. But people no longer choose to use drugs as they once did. Instead people are attempting to use political action, create new paradigms and a third new way to change the world. Some people have chosen denial as a method to ignore the facts and ignore the lies of the administration. People have chosen to believe that the leaders know what is good and “good Americans” should not question their leaders. Denial has become more pervasive in our country than the drugs of the 1960s. And, anyone who has lived through the 1960s knows how rampant they were. Denial has become the new drug of America. It is cheaper than any of the previous drugs and it makes you feel good too! If you just ignore the facts then you can live in any world you want to see. When you have leaders that tell you what you should see and you live in a world of denial the false reality they preach becomes your false reality. If you don’t question this false reality you are being duped to live your life in a fantasy world.

Think about it!

Monday, July 11, 2005

What is Truth? - Audio File

President Bush sent Scotty McClellan out to the wolves today. The wolves are obviously the liberal media reporters that are part of the White House Press pool. In the past the White House has been accused of taking revenge on reporters who venture to far off into the briar patch of difficult questioning. But today one lone reporter, David Gegory, ventured off into pushing the White House Press Secretary Scotty McClellan to answer some tough questions.

In the past the White House could count on the politeness of the White House press pool, because these reporters wanted to keep their jobs. When all the hard questions about the run up to the Iraq War were being asked on blogs and on the Internet, the press pool would refuse to push the issues. But, today David Gegory pushed Scotty McClellan enough to show how the White House is actually covering up its sins with deception and stalling. If we could see more of this, the public would begin to see the truth about this administration.

If you haven’t seen or heard this exchange I have a link to an audio file that every honest American should listen to as they wonder whether this administration is being honest with the American people.

Audio: (click here to download the mp3 file) White House Press Briefing – July 11, 2005

My Odeo Channel

Colorado Moderation

One of the benefits of travel is the opportunity to empathize with people who live in different regions of the country or even different countries. I have seen a bit more of the country on my summer trip and I have come to the conclusion that there still is hope for our country.

I don't generally go out on the Internet and read papers from all over the country every day. The first reason that I don't do that is because most stories in the papers are from the AP or Reuters anyway. The second reason is because most newspapers require payment to read the entire column or story. The third reason is just the difficulty in finding different newspapers with interesting columnists.

While visiting Colorado I was reading some Denver Post editorials, opinions, and commentaries. The refreshing moderate writing expressed by these writers surprised me. The Denver Post had a conservative columnist writing about the perils of conservatives support for the Fundamentalist Christian agenda. It would be nice to hear this expressed on the national political stage.

David Harsani, a conservative expressed an interesting moderate view on flag burning were he writes that freedom of speech is more important than protecting our sensibility to the sacredness of the American Flag.

Diane Carman wrote a very interesting piece on Sandra Day O'Connor.

George McClure, a Liberal, wrote a sarcastic piece on FOX and the Liberal Media.

There were many more opinions too numerous to name, but all very different from the extremist views we hear too often today. It was nice to be able to read some top-notch insightful writing, which must be published on a daily basis.

All of these voices whether they were conservative or liberal came from a practical common sense perspective. This was much different than many of voices I have been reading over the last couple of years. In the past, before the Newt Gingrich take over of Congress these types of opinions were more common place. The extremists have always been around, and I am not saying that they didn’t exist in bygone years, but they were moderated with common sense views of those in the middle of the political spectrum. In some small towns across the country it has become worthy of a scarlet letter to express even moderate Liberal views.

After reading these very interesting and insightful opinions I’d like to challenge the moderates from around the country and use their imagination and creativity to at least match the columns that are being published in Denver.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Vacation comes from the word vacate. As in "to vacate" your home for a couple of weeks in the summer. Vacation is the word used in the United States to describe the act of taking a couple of weeks off and leave the house to go somewhere else. In England the general term is "Holiday." "Holiday" makes the typical American think of having a party or celebration, and most American vacations are actually more like vacating your house for a couple of weeks.

When I grew up in the 1960s vacations were more about leaving your home and going off to see the world. Somehow in the last 15 years the type of vacations my friends and acquaintances seem to talk about are more along the lines of vacating your house and living in a hotel for couple of weeks. People vacate their houses and live on big floating hotels that travel up and down the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. People vacate their homes and live in hotels in foreign countries. And, people vacate their homes and live in fancy hotels in fancy places like Aspen, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and Orlando. In all these cases it seems that people are looking for a chance to live in a different place away from were they normally live and to do so in an upscale pampered way.

Well, we've done the cruise thing and the Las Vegas thing and aside from our actual location the two vacations didn't seem to be much different. The idea was to go off to a fancy hotel, and live a lifestyle that you could never afford on your current salary. And, you can gamble some of those dollars that you have saved away for your trip in an effort to win enough money to make the lifestyle permanent. The people living the fantasy are not being capitalists; they are dreamers hoping to fulfill the desire to live in a fantasy world without putting in the effort to earn the fantasy. The real capitalists in this picture are the people who have invested in keeping the American peoples eyes covered by continuously telling them that perhaps they could "win" the lifestyle of their dreams by taking a chance. All the while these "capitalists" take the sucker's money and create their own fantasy lifestyle with this money.

This year we opted for the 1960s style "visit America" type vacation. We loaded up the family car and set off to visit America. We decided that we would have minimal plans and we would let karma and the wind guide us on our trip. We actually did very little planning before our trip. We expected to visit two of our friends – one lives in Longmont, Colorado and the other lives in Tucson, Arizona. Other than those two plans we decided that we would merely stop at places along the way, learn about the place and experience America. Most of our trip entailed visiting National Parks and museums, but even meeting people along the way expanded our visit of America. We also visited the history of America in a more subtle way. I had recorded mp3s of old time radio programs first broadcast in the 1930s – 1950s and we listened to these programs while we drove the 6 to 10 hours of driving each day.

In future blog entries I hope to go into some of the details of our adventure. Our family ended up collecting the license plates of the cars we saw along the way. We "saw" 48 of the 50 US states on our trip. I'd like to invite you to guess which two states we didn't see. We found three on the last day, so if anyone wants to guess the last five that would be fine as well. I'll give the answer in the comments in a couple of weeks. Since we saw so many license plates I assume that we actually saw and talked to a good cross section of the country as well. We talked to people and we eavesdropped on people as well, and I'll write about some of that as well.

The main point is – I'm back and I'll be writing once again.