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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

i'm woke, you're woke, we all are "WOKE"


     It seems that often the loudest voices are the ones that are trying to divide people into different groups.  They do it to benefit themselves and not to enlighten us.  The need to identify enemies is a sign of personal weakness and prejudice.
    When I hear someone use the term "woke" I want to ask them what woke means.  They probably don't realize what it really means.  Webster defines it as "aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice"  To use the word in a pejorative manner just shows your comfortableness with your own prejudices.  It also shows that you are angry that the modern norms are moving away from a past time when discrimination against certain groups was accepted by the broader society.  Those norms are being challenged because of our changing demographics and we now hear the screaming from those who see the change as them losing their privileged position.  
    The next time you hear someone using the word ask them to define it and bring the discussion around to why they are uncomfortable with our changing world and ask when they want to go back to a world where prejudice was accepted as the way the world works.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The silver lining of the pandemic


     The pandemic gave us an opportunity to slow down and re-examine our "work-life" existence.  Even for those of us that are "retired" our over-scheduled daily life suddenly stopped in many ways. Even casual trips to the grocery store pushed us to trying Instacart.  Group meetings shifted to the newly discovered Zoom.   Closed libraries caused us to use online e-books.  Some of these changes have returned to pre-pandemic patterns and others have become permanent changes.

      No where has these changes impacted our world than with how people choose to work.  Having been given the opportunity to dramatically and suddenly change the work-life balance, employees have been given the flexibility work from home in a way that didn't exist before the pandemic.  Having an extra amount of time to have breakfast and read the news rather than fighting traffic for 30 or 60 minutes each morning became wonderful.  To say nothing of not paying for gas and parking.   Business attire was replaced with working in pajamas.

      In moving from 2020 to 2023 we are experiencing the business world thinking that employees are willing to return to a pre-pandemic work world and are experiencing the employee push back.  This is taking two forms.  One is the compromise of flex time with in office work only being 2-3 days a week with the other days still being work from home.  The second is the reality that employees are only looking at working for companies that permit complete work from home.  This type of work allows employees to live wherever they like and are not tied to living in an expensive city where their emplorer is located.  The online technology is constantly developing to make work from home increasingly possible for more professions.  Just stop and think how many things you have to go to a place to transact something that you now do online.  When was the last time you went into a bank to do a bank transaction?  When did you last mail a check to pay a bill?  To say nothing about going online at 1 am to buy something online instead of driving 10 miles to a store the next day.

      The pandemic changed the world expondentially and those employers who don't recognize this reality will go the way that businesses that didn't change with the times have always gone---DOWN.  Think how the digital world destroyed Kodak and Blockbuster who got stuck in an outdated reality.

Monday, March 13, 2023

How to get light and airy pizza crust


 One of the ways to judge a good pizza crust is how light and airy it is.  The secret to this type of crust is how you inject air into the crust by kneading the dough.  This video shows how to do this.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Twelve years in on this blog---maybe a time to change

    Today marks 12 years since I have written this blog.  The average blogger I am sure quits much sooner than 12 years.  The bloggers I met when I started writing this blog stopped years ago.

     I started writing this blog to reconnect with Howard County events.  After working in the County for 26 years I had spent 10 years working outside of the County and saw this blog as an attempt to reconnect with what is happening locally.   The blog connected me in so many ways and has brought me 2 new jobs during that time.

    I thought of grouping 3 of my interests and calling the blog "Politics, Pickleball, and Pizza" but that seemed too scattered.  After some thought, I decided to increasingly focus on pizza.  Anyone who knows me knows my passion for pizza.  The perfect food except if you are trying to lose weight.  A guilty pleasure if you eat it only once a week and diet the rest of the week.

     I will focus on making the perfect pizza, unusual pizzas, and probably reviews of local pizza places even though my favorite pizzas are the ones I make. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

At this time it is important to look at President Carter's overlooked Presidential accomplishments


     For many years the feeling has been that Carter accomplished more in retirement than he did as President.  While he certainly set a high bar for what a former president can accomplish, his accomplishments during his presidency are often overlooked because he only served one term.  Here are just some of those accomplishments:

1) Camp David Accords - The Camp David Accords are usually seen as Jimmy Carter's greatest foreign policy success and as one of the main accomplishments of his presidency. The Camp David Accords were a series of meetings and peace treaties between Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Anwar Menachem Begin. These treaties ended a bitter rivalry between the countries that were made worse by the Six-Day War in 1967. The peace between Israel and Egypt proved to be a lasting one and shaped Middle Eastern politics for decades
2) He created the Department of Energy and established and passed the first national energy package that began moving the country away from fossil fuels. 
3) Created the Department of  Education which set the first national standards for education and greatly increased federal funding targeted to states with underfunded education.
4)  He signed several bills which aimed to improve the environment. On August 3, 1977, he signed into law the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The SMCRA regulated the environmental effects of coal mining in the U.S. through the creation of two programs: one for regulating active coal mines and a second for reclaiming abandoned mine lands. On December 2, 1980, President Carter signed into law the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Act doubled the amount of public land set aside for national parks and wildlife refuges. Jimmy Carter also established the Superfund through the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. The Superfund is a United States federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants.
 5) In 1903, Panama signed a treaty with the United States that gave the U.S. rights to the Panama Canal Zone. Since the 1960s, Panama wanted to re-negotiate this treaty and thus the Panama Canal had become a subject of dispute between Panama and the United States. Believing that it was morally right, President Carter wanted to return the Panama Canal to Panama. On September 7, 1977, the Torrijos–Carter Treaties were signed by the United States and Panama. The treaties were named after Jimmy Carter and the Commander of Panama’s National Guard, General Omar Torrijos. The first treaty gave the United States the permanent right to defend the Panama Canal from any threat that might interfere with its continued neutral service to ships of all nations. The second treaty gave Panama full control of the canal from 12:00 on December 31, 1999.
6) Announces normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China
7) Signed the agreement with the Soviet Union on SALT II
8) Signed the International Covenant on Human Rights
9) He worked to require seatbelts or airbags, which would go on to save 9,000 American lives each year.
10)  He signed the Alaska Land Act, tripling the size of the nation’s protected wilderness areas.
11) He deregulated the airline industry, paving the way for middle-class Americans to fly for the first time in large numbers, and he deregulated natural gas, laying the groundwork for our current energy independence.
     Finally, he set the United States' position on human rights as an important element of our foreign policy.  This position made the United States the world leader in the promotion of democracy around the world.  He continued this work post-presidency through the Carter Center. Carter may not have been elected to a second term but he used his post-presidency time to implement much of what he hoped to accomplish in a second term through the Carter Center. This contrasts dramatically with Trump's love affair with dictators and his need to try to rerun the outcome of his defeat.
     At this time it is important to recognize how consequential his presidency was in addition to his post-presidency accomplishments. 
Carter was one of four US Presidents to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.  Can you name the other 3?

     I was fortunate to have a front-row seat at his Inauguration. I sat 3 rows back from Billy Carter's family.  How I got that seat is a whole other story but it involves a secretary in Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt's office.  He also was the only President I ever shook hands with on a visit to the Air and Space Museum.

Columbia at 55: Are we becoming more segregated?

  There is an interesting report on whether Columbia is becoming more segregated

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Racism by a different name is still racism


    The Republican Party has made a deal with Southern racist politicians since Nixon's "Southern Strategy" from the late 1960s.  While the Southern racist politicians from 50 years ago were able to be more overtly racist, today's racists have to speak in coded language.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with Florida's governor Ron DeSantis.  DeSantis' tactic of slamming African American studies programs, Critical Race Theory (CRT), and the 1619 Project is a way to tap into the fears of white racists who are concerned that their control of our Country is slipping away from them.  "Make America Great Again" wants to go back to a time when racism could be more overt.  Maybe something subtler than separate drinking fountains for the races but still means the superiority of the white race.


      Racism has also shown up in Rep. Marjorie Green's call for a separation of the "red" states from the "blue" states.  While this doesn't indicate that this would be done forcibly I am not sure how she would propose it would be done peaceably.  

    And after the January 6th insurrection it is fair to assume that the right-wing racist activists would be willing to go to war to accomplish it. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Most interesting thing to watch during the State of the Union address


    It is always awkward to sit behind the President at the State of the Union when you are in the opposition party.  Everyone is going to be watching to see your reaction to what the President is proposing.  Speaker McCarthy had to decide if he would sit stone-faced, applaud sitting down, or applaud standing up.  Would he applaud when Biden condemned the attack on the Capitol? Nope.  When Biden bragged about lowering the cost of insulin for Medicare recipients? Nope.  Support for Ukraine? Just applaud.  Buying American? Standing applause.   Members of his party seemed to wait to see what his reaction would be before deciding what they should do.

    Maybe it is time to just have the State of the Union just something that is sent up to Congress the way it used to be before it evolved into the circus it is now.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Is it time for Columbia to join Rockville and Annapolis to be an incorporated city?

     The situation this past week that had the CA President resigning after a dispute with the CA Board has once again led to a discussion of whether Columbia would be better off becoming an incorporated city like Rockville and Annapolis.  Columbia has a population that is more than double Annapolis and 50% more than Rockville.   Columbia has changed the nature of what Howard County is as a county.  Columbia has changed Howard County from a rural county to the 6th most populated county in Maryland.  Rouse certainly didn't plan for Columbia to be a suburb but a city.  While we still have a mixed suburban/city feel we will always have the potential to have the attributes of a city.  

    Our present Columbia Association providing many of the services of a city may need to be revised for our current size.  Mayors and city councils don't always agree but their relationship as duly elected officials is different relationship that of the President of CA and the CA Board. It may be time that we elected a mayor rather than the CA Board hiring a CA President.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

CA Board accepts President's resignation

Contact: Dannika Rynes

Sr. Media Relations & Communications Manager

The following is a joint statement from Lakey Boyd and CA's Board of Directors. There will be no further comments at this time.
The Columbia Association Board of Directors announced today that it has accepted the resignation of Lakey Boyd as President and CEO effective immediately. The Board thanks Lakey for her service and contributions and wishes her well in the future."

Looks like it is impossible to hire from outside of Columbia and last very long.   Maggie Brown seems like the last President that the Board worked well with.


Saturday, January 21, 2023

How the contentious 2021 counting of the electoral ballots happened once before

       In the reading of the Lincoln biography by Jon Meacham called "And then there was Light," I hadn't realized that what we saw on January 6th had happened once before in 1861 with the certification of Lincoln's election.  Here is a NY Times article that explains the story.

"In the confusion that followed Wednesday’s desecration of the Capitol, it was widely reported that the last time the building was stormed was in 1814. That overlooked a desperate day in 1861, nearly as lethal to democracy. On Feb. 13, a mob gathered outside the Capitol and tried to force its way in to disrupt the counting of the electoral certificates that would confirm Abraham Lincoln’s election three months earlier.

The key difference between then and now is that the building was guarded by men who were prepared for the onslaught. Nerves were on edge as the day began, with all eyes on Washington, and families trying to get into the galleries to watch the proceedings. In the days before the count, rumors had been spreading across the capital that armed militias might sweep in from Virginia and take over the Capitol or the entire District of Columbia.

Virginia’s former governor Henry Wise was openly calling for an invasion, and many diary accounts and newspaper articles of the time expressed fear that some kind of takeover was imminent. In The New York Times, a reporter mentioned: “plots to take the city, blow up the public buildings, and prevent the inauguration of Lincoln.” Another article described “the blowing up of the Capitol” as a distinct possibility. The central edifice of the government — home to Congress, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and all federal records — was a tinder box waiting for a match.

But the militias had not reckoned with the determination of Gen. Winfield Scott, an aging war hero charged with the defense of the capital. Scott was a proud Southerner, born near Petersburg, Va., seven years before the cornerstone of the Capitol was laid in 1793, well before there was a city surrounding it. But above all, he was a patriot, in the original sense of a word that has been abused in recent days.

Scott had served his country since the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, who personally interviewed him for his first commission, and even if infirm (he could no longer ride a horse), he knew treason when he saw it. With military dispatch, he stationed soldiers around the Capitol and left no doubt about what he would do to any violent miscreant who tried to come into the building to spoil the electoral count.

Colorfully, Scott warned that any such intruder would “be lashed to the muzzle of a twelve-pounder and fired out the window of the Capitol.” He added, “I would manure the hills of Arlington with the fragments of his body.”

On the morning of Feb. 13, large numbers of people streamed into Washington, determined to prevent the ceremony that would confirm Lincoln’s election. Already, they seemed dangerous, “a caldron of inflammable material,” ready for “revolution,” as one observer noted. But when they reached the Capitol, they were prevented from entering unless they had a special pass.

Blocked by the soldiers, the anti-Lincoln crowd grew angry and taunted Scott with insults: “Free state pimp!” “Old dotard!” “Traitor to the state of his birth!” But to be accused of “treason” by thugs who were contemptuous of the electoral process was a price Scott was quite willing to pay. Through his careful preparation, he may have saved the Republic, even before Lincoln arrived to save it in his own way.

Though the worst of the crowd was kept outside, tempers nonetheless flared inside the House chamber. Pro-Southern members of Congress were in a foul mood and tried to vent their unhappiness in any way they could. When a secessionist senator from Texas, Louis Wigfall, asked Scott if he would dare to arrest a senator for treason, Scott exploded: “No! I will blow him to hell!”

Still, the murmurs continued. A Virginia congressman, Muscoe Garnett, kept accusing Lincoln of “tyranny,” even though Lincoln had not even arrived yet. While the chaplain was praying, Garnett stormed out, loudly denouncing the proceedings and stamping his feet.

Hauntingly, a reporter in The Times said that the tantrum resembled the histrionics of a famous Shakespearean actor, Junius Booth, celebrated for portraying the title character in “Richard III” (a favorite play of both his son, John Wilkes Booth, and of the incoming president). The younger Booth would play the role 115 times over his career. Lincoln’s love of the play was so profound that he left visitors dazzled by his impromptu performances from memory.

There were reasons Americans felt a special tie to “Richard III,” with its cautionary tale of a cunning schemer, willing to be “subtle, false and treacherous” in his desperate pursuit of power and popularity: Democracy was already turning up demagogues with depressing regularity; Lincoln’s earliest speeches had denounced this defect.

For all of their virtues, the American people were not immune to the charm of would-be autocrats, ready to promise anything. There was no shortage of such types among the leading secessionists, which is why governing the Confederacy proved to be far more difficult than launching it. Lincoln’s rhetorical modesty — he hardly ever referred to himself — was a breath of fresh air after the most overheated decade in memory.

In 1861 as in 2021, the actual documents were important. On Wednesday, quick-thinking staffers grabbed the boxes holding the electoral certificates during the tumult. In 1861, the boxes were preserved as well, despite the fact that they were entrusted to the person most likely to benefit from their destruction.

Each of the state electoral certificates had been duly sent to the president of the Senate — the vice president of the United States, Kentucky’s John C. Breckinridge. Breckinridge was also the defeated candidate in the presidential election, and the one who had carried the hopes of the Deep South. If he had chosen to misplace the certificates, the election might have been thrown into Congress, where Lincoln, as a stranger to Washington, was at a disadvantage.

The crucial moment came when the certificates were delivered from the Senate to the House, where the ceremony was held. Several commentators mentioned how fragile democracy seemed at this moment, with two ordinary boxes holding the hopes of the nation. Many in the room were waiting for a spark — a witness felt “hot treason … seething beneath the quiet exterior.”

To his credit, Breckinridge behaved honorably and delivered the certificates, presiding over his own defeat. He would go on to serve the Confederacy, but on this day he remembered his older duty to the United States, much as Vice President Mike Pence did this week.

It had been a close call. For hours afterward, “a howling, angry mob” prowled the streets of Washington, issuing streams of profanity. In New York, a lawyer, George Templeton Strong, confided to his diary: “This was the critical day for the peace of the capital. A foray of Virginia gents … could have done infinite mischief by destroying the legal evidence of Lincoln’s election.” Because of another Virginian, they were prevented from doing so.

Three weeks later, Lincoln was able to enter the same building and deliver the words from the East Portico that we never tire of quoting, about “the mystic chords of memory” that unite all Americans, especially when we are touched by “the better angels of our nature.” Without a firm stand on Feb. 13, it is unlikely he would have arrived."

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Quiz for the day. What are the only 3 things the Republicans want to have funded in our government?

       What I learned back in the 1960s about what conservatives believe are legitimate government functions still holds true today.  Back decades ago I meet with a group of John Birch supporters and asked them if the government that they opposed had any legitimate functions and they only mentioned three--defense, printing money, and border security.  They felt that anything else was socialism.   Come 50 years later and the Republican Party has been taken over by people who hold the same beliefs as the John Birchers of the past.  Back then the Birchers were denounced even by conservatives like Barry Goldwater but today they effectively control the House of Representatives.  The next two years will see a battle in Congress on how much these conservatives will be successful in defunding every social program that the Birchers 50 years ago wanted to defund.  Even if the Democrats hold the White House and the Senate the conservatives in the House can stall any Congressional action in a number of ways and for them, inaction in the government is a win as long as they protect the three government areas they support.


    Quote of the day from newly elected Representative George Santos: "In my 30 years in the House I have never seen such dysfunction!"

Saturday, January 7, 2023

How to get your relatives talking


Try sending your Christmas card that includes a couple of your neighbor kids and a pregnant belly.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

A party that only stands for power


      The Republicans in the House yesterday played out their power struggle in full view of the public.  There seems to be no policy basis for the way the Republicans voted other than a power struggle among a few members.   The 20 members that voted for Jim Jordan are a rogue gallery of dysfunctional members that are elected from districts that are fine with having wacko people representing them.  20 districts can hold the House hostage.  As the Republicans fail to broaden their voting base the crazies make up more of their party.  I have never understood why you would vote for a party that has no interest in governing.  The dysfunction will be played out until the Democrats regain power.


 The last 4 Republican Speakers were driven out of the job by their dysfunctional members. Soon to add a 5th.