Wednesday, August 14, 2019

DEGREES OF KNOWLEDGE



This is a mind-boggling (at least, to me) essay that my grandson Branch Tanner Archer IV wrote last year for his Philosophy class at UT.

          



DEGREES OF KNOWLEDGE

Image result for Doubt public domainWhile on a vacation in a foreign land, you find yourself lost on the way to the beach. A local says to you, “I know the directions to the closest beach.” Normally, you would not hesitate to trust the local. However, this is the last day of your vacation, and you want to bask in the tropical sun as long as possible. In order to not waste time and make the most of your hard-earned trip, you want to know the directions without even a sliver of doubt. Upon reflection, you realize that this may not even be possible. For, quite obviously, you cannot be completely certain that anyone knows the location of the closest beach. This deeply bothers you, so you decide to sit down and ruminate about what is needed to truly know something without a doubt (for you did not know the dangers of philosophical inquiry). You realize that you may not know anything at all. After all, you must doubt everything to some degree – “What if an all-powerful God is tricking me with a cruel illusion? How do I know that my body even exists? Egads!” You have stumbled upon Descartes’ grand doubt-generator.

To cease this existential crisis, I propose that we define knowledge as a spectrum of information that holds true when held to a varying degree of doubt specified by the certainty one requires. I will partition this spectrum of knowledge into different stratifications according to the rigorousness of doubt one must apply. With each successive stratification, one must accept a greater level of doubt to make a knowledge claim (which is a necessary cost to be explained later). This hierarchy of knowledge will allow one to differentiate between the kind of doubt a scientist can have and still know something and the kind of doubt a philosopher can have and still know something.

To perform this partition, I will use a similar technique to the one simulated in the introduction to this essay – the very same technique that RenĂ© Descartes uses in his work Meditations on First Philosophy. In Meditations, Descartes seeks to find what he can know without doubt (if he can know anything at all). To do this, he needs a doubt-generating “machine” – some philosophical consideration that allows one to doubt as much “knowledge” as possible. He considers the possibility that an omnipotent, evil god is seeking to deceive him with a host of illusions and false realities. I will use this evil god to ascertain the qualifications for the purest form of knowledge, the information one cannot doubt at all. First, let us examine what Descartes learned from his meditation. Descartes claimed that the possibility of the evil god’s existence allowed him to doubt most things. For example, one cannot be completely certain the physical world exists because the evil god could be simply plugging one’s brain into a machine that generates various sensations and perceptions. 
Image result for evil god public domain
However, Descartes later concluded that, despite the efforts of the evil god, “I am, I exist, is necessarily true whenever I utter it or conceive it in my mind”. I disagree with this notion. It seems to me that the evil god, if it is truly omnipotent, could warp the rules of logic to make something that does not exist at the same time exist. An all-powerful evil god could defy the rules of mathematics by making a four-sided triangle or summing one and four to find seven. Without this fundamental structure of logic, one cannot know anything without a doubt. The only being that could have this pure knowledge would be the omniscient, omnipotent God. I will call this God’s knowledge “ideal knowledge.” Each form of knowledge below ideal knowledge is subject to some degree of doubt as a result of the evil god’s logic-bending powers. 

Already it seems we must digest a hard truth: humans can never know anything without a doubt. Though it may make the hurried vacationer uncomfortable, we must be willing to accept some sliver of doubt and carry on with lesser knowledge. If everyone felt they could not know the laws of gravity because of the lingering doubt that the possibility of a logic-bending god introduces, no one could feel safe knowing they would not float off into space when they jumped out of bed. So, for practical reasons and the perpetuity of societal growth, we must accept some doubt in what we consider knowledge.

Image result for ladder public domainOne rung down this ladder of knowledge, we must accept some criterion that rids us of the doubt generated by a logic-bending god. This criterion is the assumption that even an omnipotent god is bound by the rules of logic, and I will call this type of knowledge “logical-ideal knowledge.” In this realm, mathematicians can rest easy in their analytic truths and know that a triangle has three sides, for we no longer consider the possibility that an evil god can change this. However, we still know very little, and what we might know is controversial. According to Descartes, by thinking “I exist,” I can prove to myself that I, a thinking thing, exist. If I subject my existence to doubt, the very act of doubting is in itself a thought, and I confirm even further that I exist. However, some philosophers, like Pierre Gassendi, disagree. Among other concerns, Gassendi explains that the cogito argument presupposes “I,” and that the only thing one cannot doubt is that a thinking thing exists. In conclusion, it seems that logical-ideal knowledge can definitely certify the existence of mathematics, analytic truths, and that some thinking thing exists. 






Image result for descending a ladder public domain images
One step down the ladder, we must again add another criterion and accept a little more doubt. Since we have validated analytic truths, ostensibly the next move should be to make room for synthetic truths and the scientific body of knowledge on which society relies on so frequently. Thus, the next criterion requires that anything considered knowledge must be testable and have a rational justification. Thus, I will call this rung “justified knowledge.” We will essentially assume that the universe operates on immutable laws that can be observed and tested. If there is no testable reason to believe that something is true, we cannot consider it justified knowledge. For example, we will accept doubt originating from the possibility that an evil god is deceiving us, for there is no way for us to test this as a possibility or rationally prove its existence. 

What belongs in justified knowledge? We can accept certain synthetic claims as part of justified knowledge. For example, the scientific method, when used properly, can be used to gather substantial evidence to accept or reject a piece of knowledge and its justification. However, one might counter this suggestion with some of Hume’s thoughts about causality. Just because the fire from a match burned my finger last week, how do I know a fire from another match under the exact same circumstances will burn my finger this week? Well, we must acknowledge that all the evidence collected so far indicates that the fire will burn me, and we also must recognize that we have a detailed justification for the mechanics of heat and fire. Since we can cannot test the laws governing pain and heat forever to see if they spontaneously change, we can accept that we know the fire will burn me (at least to the degree of certainty justified knowledge can provide).
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One rung down and we have reached what I call “courtroom knowledge,” named after the circumstance for which it is supremely important to society. For this rung, we must once again add an additional criterion. We shall consider claims true so long as they can be proven beyond a “reasonable” doubt. This is the most ambiguous form of knowledge because the conditions for reasonable doubt varies from person to person. This form of knowledge may be testimonial or built upon probabilities. For example, consider a man working at a convenience store in South Africa charged with a murder in China on a particular night. An array of video evidence proves that the man, on that particular night, was working at the South African convenience store. We do not know for certain that the man did not commit the murder in China by the principles of justified knowledge. We can conceivably construct a rational justification for how he committed the murder. Perhaps he flew a supersonic plane there and back. However, if there is no way to test this claim, we cannot say we know he is innocent with the certainty of justified knowledge. Courtroom knowledge allows us to determine truth in situations just like this, situations where justified knowledge can fail to produce a claim. In this case, the man most likely does not have the means to fly a supersonic plane to China, so we can safely conclude that we know he did not commit the murder.
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Though this is not an exhaustive collection of all types of knowledge, this essay demonstrates how the partitioning of knowledge into degrees of applied doubt has great utility. The process shows that ideal knowledge may never be attainable. That and a deep understanding of the criteria in each section can allow one to know how much information is required to know something with a certain degree of permitted doubt. For example, I know that the heat from a match will burn my finger if it is too close, and I know how much doubt I am accepting in my knowledge claim. With this construction, a philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and a lawyer can safely make knowledge claims on their proper rung of the knowledge ladder, and a hurried vacationer can decide how much doubt to accept when making a navigational decision – no existential crisis required... Branch Tanner Archer IV
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 I feel slightly enlightened - I think. Therefore, I am - I think..

Peace,
Marilyn

Friday, August 9, 2019

GUNS IN AMERICA II

"Seventy to 80 percent of NRA members support a universal background check." Tim Ryan on Tuesday, February 20th, 2018 in an interview on CNN

This is a very interesting article by an NRA member: "More than 60% of Americans support a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons.." Enough is Enough

The horrendous mass shootings over this past weekend have promoted more and more interest in gun control. Even in 2018, NRA members approved of background checks. Now more than ever not only background checks, but new laws are needed banning bump stocks, large capacity magazines, and especially military style weapons of all kinds. Recent newscasts have indicated that the NRA's main sources of revenue today come from the gun manufacturers rather than the members. That's no surprise, is it? Corporations and their lobbyists are doing their best -- and in many cases, succeeding, to control laws being passed in Congress.

I couldn't help but remember a Letter to the Editor written by my late friend, Jack Garner in regards to Guns in America. I posted it here in 2017, but I know he would now have this much or more to say about the recent massacres. I thought that in honor of his fierce opinions on the subject I would post it again. (He's probably cheering me on!) Here it is in its entirety.
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Long-time good friend, Jack Garner stays so busy writing letters to the Editor of the Denton Record-Chronicle they ought to give him his own column. After the recent deadly massacre in Las Vegas, he wrote this which they published:
"Addictive Sense of Power"

"Fifty-nine people dead; over 500 injured. Even in your worst nightmares, did you believe such an occurrence could materialize? Fifty-nine people dead and more than 500 injured.

"Did this horror melt the icy hearts and bulging pockets of the Washington political establishment? How heartrending that elected House and Senate members have declared this is not the time to publicly discuss gun control!

"If the NRA has them in their money-lined pockets, there will be no political discussion of gun control.

"While they wait for that mythical time, bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire like fully automatic rifles are selling faster than Trump can commit another political faux pas.

"After all the bloodletting in Las Vegas, why would a sane person pay triple the price that bump stocks have jumped to after their potential power was publicized with the eradication of innocent life.
"Truth is, the 'gun nut' who will spare nothing to raise the cash to turn weapons in their  collection into the equivalent of a submachine gun, may have a mental problem.

"He does not intend to hunt deer, rabbits or squirrels with a fully automatic rifle. He releases their destructive power at gun ranges.

"Jack"
"Perhaps you have a mental problem if the sound of guns popping, the smell of gunpowder in your nostrils, and the recoil digging into your shoulder gives you an addictive sense of power, which in turn makes you feel more like a man."...John Nance Garner, V

If not now....when? Gun control for a safer America!

Peace,
Marilyn

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Where have YOU lived?

I recently asked some of my family and friends to share their "stories" with me for posting here. This first one I said I would publish "anonymously". However, I'm pretty certain some of you will recognize her.

"Let's see, places I have lived, a '54 Chevy, an earth-sheltered house, a boarding house in Tennessee run by a lady of the night, who didn't let her renters have visitors in their rooms, and a mobile home with a crazy person who tried to kill herself. 

"I saved her by putting a tourniquet on her, using the hose off the douche bag. The doctor said he had seen many things used, but never a thing like that. I told him that she had just got my newly-cleaned bathroom dirty and it was handy. As mad as I was that she should pull such a stupid stunt...she was lucky I didn't just leave her in the mess!

"The crazy lady, Ruby, I met in Nashville, TN and worked with her in Charlie's Bar and Grill. Charlie had got in some financial problems and had to close it for a while. So, we went to another town to find a job. This town was closer to where her mom and her two little girls lived. 
(Pinterest)
"It was basically a two-horse town. Two cafes that sold beer and kept the hard stuff in the back. I worked the day shift and Ruby worked the night, except on Saturday and then we both worked. 

"The food we sold was not very much. Chicken and dumplings and sandwiches. Roast beef stew and sandwiches, except the roast beef was goat! Chips, cookies, etc. Mostly beer.

"We made a good pair. She had raven hair and I had red! She was worldly wise, about 32 years old, and I was 21 - and not as smart as I once thought I was. Maybe smart for McKinney....just not beyond that!

"Oh, and since it was a very little town, and the cops got involved, we both lost our jobs and had to move! All because Ruby had been sleeping with our boss and got mad at him....he had several other women on the side and she found out about them. If she was mad when she started drinking...the madder she would get!
"I would watch her work men and they would nearly give her the world. I never learned that skill. Somehow, my sense of good didn't acquire that skill. Needless to say I learned a lot from her about the lower rim of life!"

(Years passed. Marriages. Children. Grandchildren. Different occupations. When her youngest daughter married, life changed for her as well.)

"I thought that since I was making good money now and they had this extra land that had an extra power pole and access to the septic tank...that maybe I could get an old building from the house movers and have it moved to their place. (A new and different kind of residence!)

"In the meantime...I could move into the 12' x 16' building. So, I put my stuff in storage and I did. I had a twin-size bed, an old portable closet, some shelves, my stereo, and my microwave sat on an old table saw. I relieved myself in a quart jar and dumped it in a hole at the far back of the house, near where the neighbor had goats. Other things and showering I did inside her house.

"The old man down the street (he is now over 100) raised ducks and geese. He gave me five orphan ducklings. I kept the ducks in a cage. During the day they got to get in a plastic pond. When I got home from work, of course, they would all wake up, soooo to relax all of us, I would put on a CD of Pachelbel's Canon that had the sound of ocean waves in the background and we would all go to sleep."

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This story came about when my friend and I got into a discussion about
"funky" places we had lived. I thought my time at The Barn would win hands-down for the funkiest place until she started sending me the above info on her different "homes". Most of the earlier residences she lived in long before we met. I left out pertinent information about her line of work and other interesting facets about her life for fear of giving her identity away! That's a story for another time.

Needless to say, she won our contest as to who lived in the funkiest places. However, I never told her about the time when I was a child that my mother, sister and I lived in the rear of a cleaners. And THAT'S a story for another time.

Send me YOUR stories!

Peace,
Marilyn

Monday, August 5, 2019

CHOCOLATE TO BLOOD

The headlines are filled with tragedy again. Some days you wish you had never turned on the news at all. And then there are the days when you are privy to so much good and heartwarming items that they bring tears of joy instead of pain. We forget sometimes that there are so many good people in the world doing so many good things. And so many new discoveries to improve and enlighten our world and it's problems.

This shows dark chocolate
(Public Domain)
I love to read about the good news online. And I love to share them. Today I read an interesting article explaining how "dark chocolate" reduces depression. I was thrilled to hear something positive about my sweet tooth and my love of chocolate. (Two packages of dark chocolate candy in my fridge right now!) Of course, I shared the article. Most of us chocolate lovers would think about the benefits for ourselves. Then I got the following response from my friend and neighbor, April:

"Since depression is so widespread, if I were Hershey’s or a manufacturer, I would figure out a charity that would deliver large quantities of dark chocolate worldwide to promote peace and understanding! Maybe a way to get Congress to chill and work together!"

Even though April put a smiley emoticon beside it, her idea is not a joke. Wouldn't we all love something so simple to bring peace to our world?

Deepak Chopra said the following in  Peace Is the Way: "Right now there are 21.3 million soldiers serving in armies around the world. Can't we recruit a peace brigade ten times larger? A hundred times larger? The project begins now, with you."



Did you hear about the mother in Arkansas who bought out an entire Payless Shoes store that was closing? She was there to buy shoes for her daughter, who then asked her to buy a pair for her classmate whose shoes were too small. Not only did the mother buy shoes for the classmate, she ended up buying the 1,500 pairs of shoes left in stock. Since then, she and her family have been giving away shoes to needy children. What a beautiful example she is setting, not only for her own children, but also for those who are recipients of her generosity.


Did you know this?
"..The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90% of the electrical flow in the state, released a report earlier this month stating that—during the first half of 2019—wind power generated 22% of the state’s electrical usage while coal only generated 21%.."Good News

Let's hope the coal usage continues to drop and wind turbines continue to take over the role coal has played for too long. Wind turbines don't contribute to climate change. (I took the above photo on my way to Amarillo in May 2007. There are probably many, many more of these around Texas today.) The majority of electricity in Texas is produced by natural gas, and a small percentage from nuclear energy. Although when natural gas is burned, it produces 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, 30 percent less than oil, and 15 percent less than wood, we still need to reduce its usage and replace it with wind power and solar energy farms. (At one point in time, the city of Denton, Texas produced as much as 30% of its electricity from its landfill. I don't know if that is still the case.)

We have all seen the pitiful photos of sea creatures found dead or dying with plastic of all kinds in or entangled on their bodies. While strides have been made in reducing the amount of plastic being used for various things from straws to plastic bags and containers to the plastic that holds together your six-pack cans of favorite soft drinks (really dangerous in the oceans), we still have a long way to go. I was pleased to read the following in an article on Good News..
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"..Greenpeace, alongside other investors and organizations, have urged companies like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to reject the Plastics Industry Association’s secretive lobbying against plastic bans. The association uses a front group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), and works side by side with ALEC to push state legislators to prohibit plastic bans across the country. Thus far, 15 states with a combined total of 88 million people have passed these pro-pollution preemption laws.."

We haven't yet passed statewide legislation banning some plastic uses in Texas, however, the City of Austin now prohibits plastic bag usage. This is particularly helpful for use as grocery bags. Most people now carry the reusable cloth bags, some heavy-duty reusable plastic bags, or in my case, paper. I buy my groceries online now for my son to pick up for me. Once unloaded, he takes them to his apartment to put in their "recycle" bin. I live outside the city limits and recycling bins aren't available here. A good article on the issue is at The End of Recycling on The Atlantic website.

China used to take so much of our recycled materials, but now they don't. We are being faced with a bigger problem than just getting rid of plastic bags and such. We Americans are a consumer society and accumulate more "stuff" than we'll ever need. One solution to our landfill problems is to "buy less". Reusable containers are another.  I'm proud of my children and grandchildren who carry their drinks in stainless steel cups and glasses (most of them do anyway). As for buying less, just think of all the money you can put away for your golden years if you adopt this habit of buying less.

View image on Twitter
KXAN News
But I digress. More good things are happening when we hear of the heroic efforts of those affected by the recent mass shootings who risked their lives saving some of the victims. And the hordes of people showing up all over the country to donate blood for those victims. These are folks from Austin lining up to give blood today:

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Houston Chronicle
From chocolate to blood! Isn't there a movie by that title? (No, it's "Blood & Chocolate). May you all become more aware of the good -- even when it's precursed by something bad. Sometimes it takes one to make us appreciate the other. Hold onto the idea that the recent mass shootings are now precursors to something good. Surely our law makers are now going to take heed and make changes to our national gun laws.

Peace,
Marilyn

Thursday, July 25, 2019

THE MUELLER HEARINGS (As some of us heard.)

(The second paragraph has been corrected to read "No one can deny that what the report revealed was true.) (There is also an additional response from Dr. Carin Horn.) As I am continuing to receive responses from my readers, I will try to add them directly to the text. The newest is one from Truman Conner. All of the respondents are currently Texas residents unless otherwise noted.. Thanks for your understanding.

Although I downloaded the complete Mueller Report, I have to admit I did not read it. I relied on news reports that detailed the important points as they understood them. Then, my son sent me a remarkable, hour-long video that contained readings by some well-known stars in the entertainment industry. Of course, they had to edit it and only read the highlights, but it is well worth watching even now. The Mueller Report That and all of the news pundits leading up to yesterday's Congressional hearings prepared me for them - I thought. 

Like many others that I've heard from, I was disappointed in the way Robert Mueller came across - a lot of it was due to the accusations of some of the Congressional members, notably the Republicans, and their rapid-fire delivery of the questions in the first session, which made it very difficult for anyone to understand them. Thus, Mueller sometimes stumbled over his answers. I guess I also expected some outrageous discovery that we weren't privy to beforehand. No one can deny that what the report revealed was true. The Republicans spent their time trying to destroy Mueller's reputation and integrity as well as that of others involved in gathering the damning evidence. But they never once gave evidence that the conclusions of the report were untrue.

Once all of the investigations are completed, and we are entitled to view Trump's finances - and their possible entanglement with foreign entities that are holding him hostage - I don't think anyone in the United States can refute the truth that he is the most corrupt, and absolutely the most incompetent president the United States has ever had. He and his administration have done their best to destroy our democracy, and have placed us in a dangerous position in the world. 

I agree with Nancy Pelosi that impeachment is not the answer as long as the Senate is Republican-controlled. The most obvious solution is to vote Trump and the Senators who are supporting him out of office.

The following views were sent to me at my request by some of my long-time friends as well as my son.

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The following is from C. Denson Hill (Denny), a professor of mathematics at Stony Brook University in New York. He has a second home in Poland where he lives when school is not in session. He was the first to converse with me on the hearings via email.

"I watched the whole thing live from Warsaw, and it was very tiring. During the first part, before I became fatigued, I wrote down these names:

Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-TX 4th Dist.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX 1st Dist.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio 4th Dist.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FLorida
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Florida

"Then I got too tired to continue.. To Texas, Ohio and Florida, I would say: It is unbelievable that you could be so stupid as to elect these baboons to represent you!!! Better to choose a random w**** from a house of ill repute, then at least you might find a modicum of honesty, integrity, and someone who does not vastly underestimate average human intelligence."..Denny

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My answer:
"I agree with you. Needless to say, I would like to kick the Reps from Texas in their respective rears. John Ratcliffe in particular was full of hate.. I noticed when he finished his tirade he couldn't get out of the chambers fast enough! He doesn't represent our district, but I'd still like to tell him off. Same is true of Gohmert. However, he graduated from Baylor, so he is probably a good Baptist. This may account for his support of Trump. He probably is an anti-vaxxer, an anti-abortionist, and thinks that if he is wrong and Trump is ousted, he'd love to see Pence in office! In my humble opinion!

"In the first session, I thought Mueller came across as old and confused. He redeemed himself somewhat in the second session. The interviewers in the first were rushing through their questions due to their five-minute time limits. I had a hard time understanding their questions as well.

"I thought the summations at the end were pretty easy for most to understand. Also, there are still ongoing investigations..perhaps/likely more indictments. So much is going on that Mueller was unable to speak of (due to ongoing investigations or classified material) that will possibly help indict the POTUS, hopefully all will come out before the election."..Marilyn
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"I fear that the vast majority of the people in the U.S. do not have the
attention span, or the patience, to glean the damaging info there. Barr and Company have muddied the waters way too much.

"And I also fear that, partly due to the corrosive effect of talk radio, (FOX News), etc., the GOP can still win simply by repeating over and over the words, 'socialist' and 'communist', independent of all other considerations. (To say nothing about Gerrymandering and the electoral college.) Sad.."
..C. Denson Hill
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"My very first impression is that Mueller does not enjoy speaking in public! He also has a very developed vocabulary and it seemed to go over the heads of some. Can y'all not retire Grandpa Gohmert??? Lord he is a nut ball!"...Rita Bauknight (North Carolina)

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"I am very disappointed in Mr. Mueller’s performance yesterday. He did confirm that Trump is the liar we all know, but did not really present any smoking guns after two years (at least that he was willing to talk about). I had put my hopes on much, much more."... June Curry (Oklahoma)

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This next one is from my Number One Son, Craig Young. He wrote this while in a spirited debate on his Facebook site:

"During his testimony today, Vietnam war hero Robert Mueller affirmed
that Cadet Bone Spurs Trump could be prosecuted for crimes (there will be more than just obstruction - there is still a counterintelligence investigation ongoing) once he leaves office. I take comfort in that.

"Mueller made it clear that because of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion, he was precluded from indicting a sitting president. The report indicates the Constitution provides the only remedy, which is impeachment by the House and removal by the Senate. Mueller gave overwhelming evidence of 10 instances of obstruction of justice in his report. In fact, those of us outside the Fox News bubble know that almost 1,000 former federal prosecutors (both Republican and Democrat) signed a letter saying that any citizen other than a sitting president would easily be indicted for felonious obstruction.

"The bottom line? The Russians interfered (attacked us) in the 2016 presidential election to aid candidate Trump and harm candidate Clinton. The Trump campaign welcomed their help and even provided them with campaign polling data and battleground state strategies. Trump lied about having business dealings with Russia during the campaign (Trump Tower Moscow). Trump has demonstrated fealty to Vladimir Putin and denigrated our intelligence agencies. The Republican Party is aiding and abetting the most corrupt, dishonest, and incompetent president in the history of this nation."...Craig Young

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"Saw an interesting Internet 'headline' that said something along the lines of Mueller’s hearing was a Republican victory if you didn’t listen to it!!!!! Sure would be nice if we could all put the politics aside and honor each other as Americans.

ADDENDUM:
"My comment about putting politics aside was not intended to disparage anyone about  his/her political passion. I am a Registered Independent, (because it) is not allowed by the State of Texas to vote in a primary election without declaring a political party preference!!!! Some of your readers may not know that. Anyway, I follow world news and global opinions, especially those concerning our current administration. Unfortunately we appear to be a country of nonthinking idiots that lack the willpower to overcome the negativity that prevails and is the signature of the Trump administration.

"I don’t have an answer as to how we can fix our political differences but I know that the 2020 Democratic candidates for President must stop taking Trump’s confrontational bait and build a united policy that promotes our greatest good as individuals and a nation. Without a strong front for positive change and right human relations, Trump will win a second term.".. Dr. Carin Horn 
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"I did not watch the hearings, but instead monitored twitter and then read recaps/opinions in The Times this morning. My (VERY DISAPPOINTED) takeaway from the investigation and the hearings is that they were the product of a stand-up guy who understands that we are in some warped environment where it does not matter if the leader commits crimes."...Kevin Curry (Mexico ex-pat)


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"I watched about 90% of it and I feel like Mr. Mueller was set up as a patsy. All those words in that document! That in itself, was enough to drive someone crazy!

"And, now that they have done all this...what are they going to do?  No matter what one's party that they attach themselves to...what do we know that is going to better an everyday person's life?"
..Mary Smith Hendricks

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"Yes to all of the above regarding Mueller.  The Democratic Judiciary Committee's primary goal was to bring public awareness of Mueller's report to American people who either have not read the report, nor appreciate the gravity of the Trump administration's flagrant violation of the pertinent articles of the U.S. Constitution. Even after this six hours of testimony from Mueller, I think it is highly probable that a large element of non-educated don't have any idea about the consequences of Trump's presidency. Much of our citizenry don't have critical thinking ability, and you have no further to look than Ballinger, typical of today's voting demographics. 

"I don't recall who said, 'You can fool some of the people all of the time; all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.' (It was Lincoln.) First time in my life I am seeing these words of wisdom questionable as so many of our people, and members of U.S. Senate and House are unwilling to stand up for our democracy. What a sad commentary, isn't it?"..Truman Samuel Conner
(Truman's first response is listed in the "comments" section below.)

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The fallout from yesterday's hearings will continue. The appeal cases to force the witnesses who have been held in contempt for Trump forbidding them to testify, should enlighten us more. Especially his attorney Don McGhan's testimony.

I would still like to hear from more of you regarding your feelings about this subject. Do you believe what's been given to us in the Report so far? Do you agree with the characterization of Trump and his campaign (assisted by the Russians)? Let me know.

Peace,
Marilyn

An excellent review of Mueller's testimony:
Actually, Robert Mueller Was Awesome

Sunday, July 21, 2019

TIME MARCHES ON

Today is a special day. It is my youngest child's 50th birthday. Since the following post was written 11 years ago, he's changed a bit. No longer scaring me to death on dirt bikes or scuba diving or bungee jumping, and instead of vacations spent in Big Bend to ride dirt bikes with his friends, he now goes there to golf with his friends. Today he is relaxing in the mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico with his family - wife Amy, son Travis, and daughter Kelly. I think he plans to play a little golf while there as well.

Matthew is not only a great son, but also a wonderful family man. He allowed me to post the following on my class blog way back when - and he's quite the story teller. Even as a little boy he could spin a yarn.


FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2008

"I don't know why I'm not gray..."

This guy has been my son for 39 years now. I don't know why I am still surprised when he does things that scare me half to death. Bungee jumping, dirt bike riding (photo at left), scuba diving, jet skis... He's always involved in something that should turn my hair gray! He has two children now, and I was beginning to think I could relax. His call from Arizona last week telling me the following "little tale" assures me my days of worrying for his safety are not over.

When he told me about his adventure, I was getting confused. I said, "Why don't you write about it, Matthew?" He hesitated, then told me he already had. Seems he subscribes to a blog for off-road riders, either on motorcycles or four-wheel drive vehicles. He had asked them about good roads to go off road on while he was on a business trip to Prescott, as he had some time to kill and decided to explore the mountains around Jerome. For some reason, he didn't rent a four-wheel drive Jeep as he planned. But the weather was beautiful when he started out, as you can see in the first photo. He made me promise not to leave a comment on the off-road blog (like, Oh, my gosh Matthew, you could have been killed!). I promised.

I got his permission to put this on our blog. And I was the mother who was scared when he was scuba diving with sharks and giant stingrays all over the Caribbean! He sent beautiful underwater pictures from those expeditions.

       
"I found FR413. Unfortunately, two-wheel drive Chevy Trailblazers, serious thunderstorms,  
 6300' elevations, rock slides, and mud do not mix.

When I got almost to the top, I was surrounded by serious storms, 40 mph winds, rain, and more rain. I was screwed. The road had started to wash out and I was losing traction. A three foot boulder came tumbling down, bouncing like a super ball about five yards in front of me as I approached the top of the pass. My rental two-wheel drive was pelted with pea- and golf-ball size rocks.

I will never forget that image of the boulder bouncing down the hill, thinking of the damage that it could have done to me and the rental.


I gassed it as there was no place to turn around and I could see blue skies in the distance. Then I saw this:

No place to turn around. After I backed out of the slot, there was a wall on one side and a 1000'+ drop on the other. And it was steep and muddy and raining cats and dogs.

I had to back out about a half a mile to find a place that I could "barely turn around". I had to inch up to the drop-off and then pull forward to the wall several times until I was pointed back down. I would get out of the truck each time to judge my distance to the drop. I was concerned with getting stuck and the side of the road collapsing sending me over the edge.

Remember the three-foot boulder from my trip up the pass? Now, the road back down (where I had just come from), was completely blocked from the rock slides. I got out of the truck and could hear the rocks still falling around me and it was still raining like no tomorrow.

I was trapped. Nowhere to go, up or down. Rocks falling all around me, on the side of a mountain in a thunderstorm.

I was ready to abandon the truck and call 911 for help. I grabbed my cell phone. No coverage. I was thinking about waiting the storm out (I had enough water and snacks to last a few days), but I was not comfortable with the thought of riding a landslide off the side of the mountain.

I kept thinking about my wonderful kids and wife. And how long it would take for someone to find me.

I got out of the truck and somehow managed to clear a path through the landslide. I would not be surprised if I did not move a rock that weighed at least 300 pounds. It kept rolling and bouncing all the way down. I could not see it hit the bottom because of the clouds, but I could still hear it crashing for what seemed like an eternity.

I made it back down to Jerome and then to Prescott, and I am currently sitting in my hotel room nursing a six-pack.

I am flying home tomorrow and had a route picked out that would take me to Crown King and then down in to Phoenix. I'll stick to the pavement for the rest of this trip.

Somewhere on the mountain. Note the water running next to the wall.

This is a ghost town/old mine on the way up. I would like to have spent some time here.
~ Matthew Rider

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You know what? I'm still not gray. Finally, a few gray hairs sprinkled here and there, but certainly not put there by his antics. Now it's my grandchildren putting the fear in me! 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY BOY!
WITH LOVE,
MOM