Moving On

We have been blogging for many years, sharing our likes and dislikes, triumphs and disappointments, passions, adventures, and discoveries. And it has indeed been an adventure. We appreciate your comments, concerns, ideas, suggestions, and support.

But now it’s time for us to move on to other pursuits, of which there are many in our busy lives. So this will be the last post on the Buck and Mike Blog. We still love to hear from our friends and family, so you can find us individually on Facebook or contact us by e-mail at the links below.

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Mike's E-mail address Mike's E-mail address
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Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Know Your Religion

Symbols of the world's major religionsAmericans wave the religion banner every time they want to justify their opinions on practically anything nowadays, especially when condemning the political or religious beliefs of others. But the truth is that as a group they are largely illiterate when it comes to understanding religious history, belief systems, and moral codes.

A recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that atheists consistently outperformed believers when asked particulars about various religious denominations—including their own. (Atheists and agnostics, Jews, and Mormons outperformed evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, and Catholics.)

Religion is such a vital part of many of our lives. Religion gives believers their moral compass, provides answers to the great existential questions, and makes available comfort in times of stress and need. It often colors our stand on social issues, helping us define our relationship and responsibility to others in our communities, country, and the world. Believers and nonbelievers alike should understand the role of religion in world history and philosophy. Without that basic knowledge, there is little chance that we will come close to understanding each other. This is one case where ignorance is truly dangerous.

Just for fun, take the Pew U.S. Religious Knowledge Quiz. Then review the full study.

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Posted in Religion, Social Justice | Tagged | 1 Comment

Street Art: Joshua Allen Harris

The inflatable street art of Joshua Allen Harris is one of my favorite examples of Guerilla Art. Using trash bags, duct tape, and the air movements from within the bowels of New York City, he creates fantastic creatures to delight even the most jaded pedestrians.

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Posted in Art & Artists | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New Budget Approach

Budget Menu from The Oregonian, Sept. 25, 2010.I like the approach taken by The Oregonian, Portland’s daily newspaper, in an article published yesterday. In an effort to gain public opinions on how the state should close its $3.2 billion budget shortfall, the newspaper published a menu for readers to check and submit.

What I like most about it is that it takes the wind out of the sails of the simpletons who are constantly saying, “Cut the fat and we won’t have a deficit.” It’s the federal version of “If we didn’t give all our hard-earned dollars in foreign aid, we wouldn’t have a deficit,” or “We could balance the budget by cutting support for the National Endowment for the Humanities.”

So how about it? Where would you find $3.2 billion? (Click to enlarge the photo enough to read.)

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Posted in Politics, Portlandia, Social Justice | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Fox and Our Muslim President

Cartoon by Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.comI was criticized for calling out Fox as a contributor to the myth that Obama is Muslim. As the cartoon above shows, I’m not the only one who sees it. It’s easy to prove. If history has shown us nothing, it has at least shown us the danger of invoking God–in any form–for our peceived righteous political views.

The earliest, and not the only, occasion I remember hearing of was on Fox & Friends during the presidential primary campaign. Host Steve Doocy and Fox anchor Brian Kilmeade say it all.

Transcript:

DOOCY: Why didn’t anybody ever mention that that man spent the first decade of his life, raised by his Muslim father as a Muslim and was educated in a madrassa?

We should also point out that Barack Obama’s father is the one who gave him the middle name of Hussein. And the thing about the madrassa, and you know, let’s just be honest about this, in the last number of years, madrassas have been, we’ve learned a lot about them, financed by Saudis, they teach this Wahhabism which pretty much hates us. The big question is was that on the curriculum back then? Probably not, but it was a madrassa and the big question is whether or not any of these revelations about the fact that he was a Muslim right now I understand he does go to the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, although not a regular parishioner but raised as a Muslim, went to a madrassa.

DOOCY: Is it ancient history or do you think madrassa matters. [phone ringing] Josh joins us from Colorado. Good morning to you Josh.

CALLER: What’s up?

DOOCY: What do you think?

CALLER: I think that ultimately this will probably be one of the main reasons is he not elected.

DOOCY: Just the fact that his father was a Muslim, he was raised as a Muslim for awhile, and went to a madrassa school in Jakarta?

CALLER: Right. I mean, you think that would possibly give him better insight on the enemy, maybe he doesn’t consider terrorists the enemy.

KILMEADE: Well, we’ll see about that. Yeah, Josh says that.

CALLER: Hi, good morning. Yes, I think it does matter. The fact that he omitted it must mean that he feels that somebody is going to have an opinion. And President Bush certainly comes under scrutiny, so why shouldn’t he?

KILMEADE: Well, he didn’t admit it. I mean that’s the issue. I was over in Indonesia for five years, or roughly five years, went to a madrassa and there is some reports that Wahhabism was the curriculum there, which is a problem because they start with “We hate America” and work their way back from there.

DOOCY: Well, the way it was framed in one of his biographies, he said, “I was sent first,” this is in Indonesia,” to a catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school. He doesn’t say, “I went to a madrassa, where they taught Wahhabism.” He simply says, “I went to a predominantly Muslim school.”

CARLSON: Alright, Jim from Alabama, what do you think?

DOOCY: Jim?

CALLER: Yeah.

CARLSON: What do you think?

CALLER: I think a Muslim would be fine in the presidency, better than Hillary. At least you know what the Muslims are up to.
[Laughter]
- – - – -
Of course the President actually spent from ages 4-8 (not a decade) with his father and did not attend a madrassa. When this was pointed out to be a complete lie, John Moody, a senior vice president at Fox News, said its commentators had erred by citing the report. “The hosts violated one of our general rules, which is know what you are talking about,” Mr. Moody said.

It is not a left-wing conspiracy that thinks Fox is biased toward right-wing policies. All you have to do is watch the news and commentators. Fox has had to apologize so many times for the false things its hosts say, that if this “genereal rule” were a policy there would be some very quiet air waves around Fox.

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Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Big Lie

Cartoon by Nate Beeler, Washington Examiner

18% Believe Obama is a Muslim

A poll conducted last month by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press showed that a growing percentage of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim. The percentages are up from polls conducted in the past.

Is it my imagination, or are Americans just getting stupider by the day?

For the record, President Obama is a Christian, always has been, and never was a Muslim. He has attended Christian churches his entire life. He was raised a Christian, married a Christian, and has raised two Christian daughters. Their dog is probably a Christian.

When asked how they learned that Obama is a Muslim, 60% said they learned it from the media, mostly from television. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN? Of course not. They learned it from Fox.

The group with the highest percentage of Obama Muslim believers is conservative Republicans (43%). It should be the responsibility of the Republican leadership to step up and correct this gross lie. Somehow I don’t think they will. As my father used to tell me (speaking then of Communism’s hold on people), “The Big Lie is the most effective because only those who think for themselves will recognize it.”

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Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Recession is Over!

Lot for sale in Cannon Beach

Site of our Vacation Home

The news this week from Washington is that the recession ended in June of last year. Hmmm. Why doesn’t it feel any better?

Oh, well, never mind reality. When we were in Cannon Beach a few weeks ago we spotted this lot for sale. It is on a very steep slope, but has a beautiful view. Since the recession is now over, surely there is someone out there who wants to invest in a vacation property. Let me know and we’ll help you design a nice vacation house, and we’d be happy to house-sit as many weekends as possible.

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Posted in Portlandia, Travel & Vacation | Tagged | Comments Off

Scapegoats

DADT cartoon by Matt Davies, Journal News

**Latest News: As expected, Republicans in the Senate successfully blocked repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell today. As one Republican told the BBC on a broadcast I heard, “Sure, it may be the right thing to do, but we aren’t about to let Obama win anything during an election year.”

The Senate today debates repealing the 17-year-old Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) law, which bans gays from serving openly in the military. The GOP has decided to make it an issue in their ongoing attempt to stop Congress from getting virtually anything done. Hopefully, Americans can see through the ruse.

Since the law took effect in 1993, the military forces have discharged about 13,000 people. Some of the best and brightest have been booted. Besides frontline soldiers, the discharged troops have included many translators, intelligence officers, pilots, drivers, doctors, and other professionals. Often they are the targets of vindictive co-workers over some petty dispute, rarely anything having to do with being gay. Troops have been endangered because their Arabic translator has been unceremoniously jerked from the front lines, wounded soldiers have waited because an emergency room doctor wasn’t available. These 13,000 people had to be replaced by soldiers doing extra tours of duty.

A federal judge has declared DADT unconstitutional, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen both support the repeal of the law. The American public favors allowing gays to serve openly by a margin of two to one and growing. The House of Representatives passed repeal legislation months ago.

Openly gay troops from other countries already serve alongside American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries. Twenty-four countries, including Israel (which can hardly be accused of having an ineffective military) allow gay citizens to serve openly. All American soldiers know gay people they serve with and most could care less.

So why is it still an issue? Because Republicans can use it to block legislation just before the mid-term elections just over a month away. Sadly, it has nothing to do with whether gays can do their job. Senate Republicans are singling out a particular group of people for blame they do not deserve in an attempt to divert attention from real issues. That is the definition of scapegoating. As history has shown, scapegoating is a strategy that ultimately does not work. It just leaves damage in its wake.

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Posted in Politics, Social Justice | Tagged | Comments Off

Pirates Everywhere

Skull and crossbonesSunday, September 19, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. While not yet an official national holiday deserving of a day off for federal and state workers, it is nevertheless fun.

On my first weekend in Portland over two years ago, I was held up in traffic because a pirate parade. Pirates have a special place in Portland history. This weekend is the Portland Pirate Festival, one of the largest such events in the world. In fact, it held the record for largest attendence until it was broken by the Brixham Pirate Festival in England. Portland is trying to beat the world attendence record this year, reclaiming it’s place in pirate history.

Pirates and their stories are popular everywhere, especially near the seaside. Last night we saw the 1980′s movie Goonies, filmed here on the Oregon coast. (In a couple scenes you can see Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, in a photo from a post a few weeks ago.) It is the ultimate kids’ pirate fantasy movie.

Face it, pirates rock. We may grow up and put away the plastic dinosaurs and Superman capes, but we’re never too old to be pirates. Tomorrow you can get away with calling a woman a fiesty wench without being considered too eccentric. That doesn’t happen often.

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Posted in Portlandia | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Homer & Langley

Homer & Langley: A NovelI just finished reading E.L. Doctorow’s newest novel, Homer & Langley, and am again convinced that he is our foremost chronicler of the American myth.

His weaving of historical places, people, and events just gets sharper with every new book, and the latest is indeed a fine tapestry. He first came to the attention of readers with The Book of Daniel, which is set in mid-20th century America and deals with the Communist scares and the execution of the Rosenbergs. But it was his bestseller Ragtime that propelled him into the American literary consciousness. The novel opens in 1902 and ends with World War I. The New Rochelle, NY, family seems to be at the crossroads of everything important that happens during those years. Magician Harry Houdini’s car breaks down in front of their house, the father runs off on an Arctic exploration with Admiral Peary, and the famous and infamous cross paths with each other and the family at every turn: Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Emma Goldman, Booker T. Washington. Doctorow weaves a great American myth-history that is sweeping while at the same time intimate. After devouring Ragtime nearly 35 years ago I was hooked. My favorites since then are Loon Lake, Billy Bathgate, and City of God.

In Homer & Langley, Doctorow takes a story that both fascinated and horrified New York City in the 1930s and 1940s and endows it with myth and introspection. The Collyer Brothers, Homer and Langley, were notorious eccentrics who lived together in a Fifth Avenue brownstone that had belonged to their wealthy parents. New York was captivated when the brothers died in 1947 and the full extent of their hoarding and paranoia became apparent. By the time the place was emptied, police had found hundreds of yards of silk fabrics, over 25,000 books, a Model T Ford, 14 pianos, stacks of newspapers and magazines that reached the ceilings, and over 100 tons of other junk and garbage. The ceilings had crashed down in some rooms, victims of a leaking roof. The house could not be salvaged and was eventually demolished. In its place is a small park, Collyer Brothers Park.

The story, narrated by Homer, extends beyond those dates well into the 1970s. Facts like dates don’t matter, of course. This is a novel, after all. The first-person narrative allows us to see the passage of time, current events, and personal relationships through the mind of the most sane of the brothers. Homer is blind, so his sense of the world differs from ours. He is at first a keen observer, then eventually a devoted brother and complicit eccentric. The novel begins with the sentence, “I’m Homer, the blind brother.” But it is the second sentence that proves to be prophetic: “I didn’t lose my sight all at once, it was like the movies, a slow fade-out.” That is, of course, the only way the novel can end. Slowly, carefully, moving toward a conclusion that is as inevitable as history.

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Posted in Art & Artists | Tagged , | 1 Comment