What color is a mirror?

What color is a mirror? It’s a very interesting little educational article I found by accident on YouTube. I disbelieve their assertion about “green” for mirrors, feeling it to be caused by the composition of the glass made to make the mirror (look at the glass edge on and it looks green), but other than that the information is quite good.

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Emergency Contraception after Rape should be a Right for All Women

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock stated the opinion that women who were impregnated by rape must carry their children because he believes all life is sacred, but he’s only looking at the life of the child and not the life of the woman. For him to think the pregnancies from rape are “something that God intended to happen” is just not viewing the statistics, remembering that a woman of childbearing age (not on birth control) has a 20-25% chance of being of being fertile when raped.

Does he know the statistics of suicide among rape victims? How about suicide among pregnant rape victims with no options?

There’s an awesome article in CNN today titled When ‘God’s will,’ rape and pregnancy collide. It contains discussions with many religious leaders who do not share Mr. Mourdock’s stance on “God’s intent.” On of my favorite quotes was, “Someone getting pregnant through rape simply means biology continues to function,” Father Tom Reese said. “That doesn’t mean God wills it.”

Then again, maybe this is my favorite quote: Paul Root Wolpe, the director for the Center of Ethics at Emory University, said Mourdock’s comments were the equivalent “of saying you shouldn’t pull people out of the rubble because God intended the earthquake to happen or we shouldn’t try to cure disease because it’s God who gave us the disease,” Wolpe said. “That perspective was theologically rejected by virtually every major religion a long, long time ago,” Wolpe added.

This brings me to emergency contraception. So many fundamentalist, scare-tactic, fear-mongering, people have been hyping it as abortion. It is not abortion. All it does is cause a woman to start her period early. That means that something the size of, at most, a few cells would end up on a sanitary product as the endometrial lining of the woman leaves her body. Assuming it was there at all. It should be a right for all women following rape. Some people want it to be a requirement to give it to all rape victims. I don’t know about “requirement.

I think it should be a requirement to offer it, but a woman’s right to refuse. There. That covers it.

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PBS is not a bargaining chip

The more I think about Governor Romney’s comments about cancelling funding for PBS, the more angry I get.  He makes it sound as if so much money will be saved, as if it will go so far to balance to budget, as if it will make the tax burden on Americans so much lighter.

The truth is far from that and anyone who buys it isn’t paying attention to facts.

I found a CNN article written by LeVar Burton and Mark Wolfe. It’s an opinion article, but I can’t gainsay anything in the article. There are a lot of good hard truths in it.

The number one truth in it is that PBS provides free educational programming with no commercials to households across the country. It promotes literacy, early childhood education, and provides resource materials for teachers of all grades of public schools. We all know that public schools are hurting for funding, so this gives them additional assistance.

According to the article, PBS funding is $1.35 per person per year. That’s less than the cost of two cans of soda from a vending machine and it pays for programming for a year.

Talk to your Legislators. Make them know it is important to fund it. Don’t let the hard work of those who have gone before be swept away by one misguided, misinformed, out-of-touch politician who thinks the middle class starts at a 6-digit annual income or by others in his party who think those who aren’t rich are just lazy.

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Separation of Church and State

Just a couple of quick opinions here.

If you accept governmental funds, you are subject to governmental oversight and rules. No exceptions. This goes for parochial schools and religious-run businesses and hospitals.

If you are a house of religion and claim tax-exempt status for it, using the church to further business or governmental interests is breaking the covenant that allowed you to be free from taxation. Giving inflammatory sermons and then sending them directly to the IRS to dare them to do something about it just to get press for it is not what Jesus would do.

Then again, when asked about taxation, He said “Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” [NRSV translation]

If school vouchers may be used for religious schools, they may be used for schools of all religions. To limit it would be discriminatory. But a religious school that accepts them falls under governmental guidelines, as earlier stated.

It is OK to wish someone Merry Christmas, Happy Easter, Blessed Samhain, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever the appropriate greetings are for Ramadan, the festival for Ganesh, the holidays of Santeria or any of a thousand other religions. We don’t have to scrub all religious references from the world to live in harmony. That’s what diversity is for. We celebrate it and learn from those who are different what they worship and grow from the new experiences. If people want to use their personal time and funds to decorate their office for a holiday, even if it is a governmental office, more power to them. Just don’t use governmental funds to buy religious decorations.

And the final festival day for Ganesh is wonderful fun. If you haven’t seen Ganesh thrown in the lake/river/ocean, ask a Hindu friend if you can join next fall. And if you hadn’t heard (I just recently learned this), Hinduism is not polytheistic. They just have one god. That god just has many aspects, each of which has been given a name. Christians have one God. He has three aspects: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

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Promising one thing during the campaign, but doing the opposite after election

I found an article talking about Mitt Romney performing seriously extreme acts in the name of his faith. Later he made serious promises when on the campaign trail for Governor, but completely reversed those stances after election, even cutting short a vacation “in order to veto a bill requiring hospitals to give emergency contraception to rape victims.” He has extreme religious beliefs and anyone who doesn’t think he will try to use his influence to get those beliefs enacted into law is fooling themselves.

Here’s a copy of the article. Research it for yourself. If the facts are wrong, quote me sources and I’ll go do more investigating. I’d be delighted to be wrong, but I don’t think I am.

Please don’t think I am maligning Governor Romney for his faith. I am not. What he does with his faith on his own time is his own business. This country founded with a separation between church and state. When he goes to work, he needs to keep his faith out of the legislation.

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Remembering Veterans

I try to make it a habit on Veterans Day and Memorial Day to watch movies or go to monuments that will help me remember those who have died in the service of our country.  One year I saw Saving Private Ryan.  Another I saw was We Were Soldiers and it is about this one I am writing.  It is about the first major American conflict in Vietnam and very much worth the watch.

After I left the movie, I was talking to my good friends John and Margaret Adams, both Army veterans, about the larger-than-life character played by Sam Elliot, Sgt Major Basil Plumley.  Among the scenes I recounted was a wonderful scene where the unit gets into their first firefight, and the photojournalist, Galloway, attached to the unit, dives into the bottom of a foxhole.  The young servicemen are using machine guns and mortars and laying down an impressive field of fire, showing great skill and training, but also nervousness.  The Sgt Major, on the other hand, is standing straight up, holding his service pistol, and firing single shots as targets present.  He glances down at Galloway and says, “You can’t take any pictures from down there, sonny.”  Galloway gets up and is handed a rifle.  “I’m a non-combatant.”  “Ain’t no such thing today,” Plumley replies.

John told me, “I’ve met him!  Not him specifically, but yeah, that’s a Sgt Major!”

The movie inspired me to go read the book.  We Were Soldiers Once… And Young was written by Lt Gen Harold G. Moore (ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway.  The movie was almost exactly the first half of the book.  I had to wait for a month to get it from the library because the waiting list was so long.  It was worth the wait.  If you are not a movie-goer, read the book.  Or do both. In it I discovered, if anything, they’d toned down the reality of the Sgt Major.

These memories were brought to mind by the fact that the real Basil Plumley passed away this week at the age of 92. CNN had a lovely article which details some details of Command Sgt Major Plumley’s career, from when he joined the Army on March 31, 1942, to his retirement on December 31, 1974. It included the fact that he fought at the Battle of Normandy and other notable WWII battles. His Army awards included the Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster and the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster.

We are a better nation for having people like this serving our country.  Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are not just a day for us to skip work and party.  They are times for us to remember our history and think on how we can personally be better.

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Just for something lighthearted

Bohemian Rhapsody – the Polka. Thank you, Weird Al.

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Accusing the victim: international version

I don’t think the police expected her to file a complaint, but after she was raped by two policemen in her car in Tunis, while a third policeman dragged her fiance to an ATM to extort money from them, the young woman did exactly that.  She did what so many women don’t do and reported the rape and extortion to authorities.

Once that became part of the public record, the police countered with a public indecency charge against her and her fiance saying they’d been found in an “immoral position,” though the police have refused to define what that means.  Maybe because she was being raped?  It’s been escalated to “intentional indecent behavior” which can carry a 6 month prison sentence in that country.

The people are not happy and they are protesting.  Meanwhile, many are fearful that further violence against women will go unreported because of the legal attack against this victim. See more on this story here.

Internal jukebox: Church anthem that mentions a mustard seed growing into a tree. Can’t remember the title.

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It makes my soul soar!

Chorus Austin’s Austin Civic Chorus is working on Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil. We will be performing it twice, on October 20 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church at 8 p.m. and on October 21st at St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at 4 p.m. This beautiful, ethereal piece of music is one of the most soul-healing works I’ve ever studied. Once I quit having to struggle to get the Russian to fit the notes (a matter of more rehearsal time on my part), I’ll be close to rapture.

It’s performed a cappella. Ryan Heller leading 140 singers, no instruments. We’ve been working hard. Come give us a listen! If you’re Christian, you know all the words, even if we’re not saying them in a language with which you’re familiar. The translations will be in the program. My current favorite is The Great Doxology (movement number 12). The fact that is starts with the altos singing solo has nothing to do with it [she said innocently].

If you love being transported by great music, come join us. You can get tickets from me or go to http://ChorusAustin.org) to order online. We also have season tickets available.

Internal Jukebox: Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, No. 12, “The Great Doxology”

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Are you registered to vote? Are you sure?

Thanks to our lovely friends at the World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Parlor, we have knowledge of the website where one can check to see if you are registered to vote in Texas.  Since voter rolls are purged all the time for people suspected of passing away, and they don’t always get it right, be sure to check.  Also, the time is running out to register for the November election, so get your friends registered who haven’t done it yet.  Time’s short.

Here’s the link: https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/Introduction.jsp

Thanks to Ms Juanita Jean and the girls at The World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon, Inc. for bringing this to my attention.

Internal Jukebox: Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, No. 12, “The Great Doxology” (We’re performing the All-Night Vigil on October 20 and 21. See me for tickets or go to http://ChorusAustin.org)

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