Monthly Archives: November 2007
At my family reunion in San Antonio – my cousin Amantha showed me her web store site on the web – Signing for Little Hands. It is quite nice!
Christmas special event highlights at Longwood:
Organ sing alongs every day at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30, 7, 8 until Friday Dec 28
Organ waltzes 7PM, 8PM Dec 29,30 Jan 5,6
ice skating performances including Olympians Tiffany Scott, Philip Dulebohn, Alexei Beltsky, Cheun Gun Lee, and US National medalist Kendra Goodwin daily (weather permitting)
choral concerts (7 PM, 8PM) almost nightly
Special concerts and performances:
Finish Dance Performance Dec 3, 7 PM 8PM
Chanukah Celebration and Menorah Lighting Dec 8, 7 PM 8PM
Reverse Hand-painting demonstration 1-4 PM artis paints inside mouth-blown glass ornaments
New Years Eve Celebration with Fireworks (9:15) and a strolling barbershop quartet (8-10PM) and many other special events.
so here is my grades for the Longwood Holiday Display:
Indoor Children’s Garden – A
see comments below
The new ice skating show – B-
Longwood has a new ice skating rink with an outdoor grandstand. This show costs $3 for members, $4 for non-members. The show is short and Christmassy, but the kids find it boring – but the mom’s are entranced, causing friction between kids and moms. The skater’s should fall on their knees during “Oh Holy Night” when it says fall on your knees! This show should be included in the price of admission.
The holiday fountain show – A-
This has been redone from last year. They took out the aaah-aaahs, and put in sleigh ride music, including the sound of a horse being hit with a whip. This is a magical show and is included in the price of admission.
The lights – A+
The trees look beautiful with thousands of lights transforming Longwood into a magical place. They even put lights on the grounds to simulate decorating flowers. But the flowers are dead.
Thanksgiving 2007 started out with the sun shining and unseasonably warm. A perfect fall day. So Gretchen suggested we go to Longwood Gardens– so Sam and Katie, Ben, and Gretchen and I dutifully piled into the car. It seemed like a better option than watching all those fantasy football points popping up against my fantasy football team, while listening to comments about how I only care about certain football players rather than who wins or loses (my fantasy team mainly plays on Sunday). I thought Longwood’s huge parking lot would be packed – but it was only a quarter full! We are going back tonight for the Bring in the Holidays at Longwood Gardens with special guests Boyz II Men – and fireworks.This will all be on TV, and I suspect that the parking lot will be full. Longwood becomes a winter wonderland with millions of lights in all the trees, a beautiful fountain show every half hour, and a new ice skating show. The conservatory is all done up with beautiful Christmas trees designed by the local school children in the area. But the major attraction is the new indoor Longwood Gardens Children Garden, which has finally opened! It took ten years and cost 18 million dollars and features and they did a very good job!
The main feature of this garden is fountains that burp, drool, spit, shoot up in arcs, and drools out of dragons all along this maze of secret rooms and paths. There certainly are some head knockers for tall people – so you have to duck a lot, and watch your head if you want to play in the fountains. Here are some of the fountains:
- A small dungeon with snakes spitting water into a cauldron of water that emit steam
- A rain pavillion
- A huge dragon with water shooting down its throat
- Two arcs of water shooting upward with lights making the water look like plastic
- water raining down out of the noses of elegantly done creatures
The gardeners did a lot of research in what children like in gardens. Adults think that drooling dragons and spitting snakes may be too scary for little children – but the children’s reactions were “Oh, no, that’s great! That should be drooling red water.” They were all about the scary stuff. link
So I am thankful about the beautiful fall weather, my wonderful family, and now I am supposed to rake leaves.
Two separate research teams – one in Japan and the other in Wisconsin – both announced that they can reprogram ordinary human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells.
This is a major breakthrough in the dream of understanding regenerative medicine by reprogramming cells – but it also means that scientists may not need to destroy human embryos to isolate cells that can spin off other cell types in the body!
To read more about this breakthrough:
Conservative Praise Stem Cell Breakthrough by the Christian Post 11-21-2007
Stem Cell Research web site that discusses moral implications of stem cell research
Tons of pounds of these precious metal coins were seized by secret service and FBI agents as illegal currency. Here is the Liberty Dollar Web Site where you can no longer buy this coin for$20 and a $5 contribution to Ron Paul.
But if you search for this coin on ebay – you can buy it for probably more than its weight in gold and silver! The ebay price has gone through the roof.
So what does Ron Paul believe about the gold standard? Here is a fascinating non-sound byte speech by Ron Paul –
Here is my “To The Moon” summary of Ron Paul’s February 15, 2006 speech before the U.S. House of Representatives:
People used to barter – but this turned out to be inefficient, so people started to exchange something of real value and that had universal appeal – gold for goods.
There was a limited amount of gold so empires developed who would conquer other nations for their gold and slaves so that their own people could live beyond their means (circuses and bread).
US Money used to be based on the Gold Standard. This began to change when Congress created the Federal Reserve System in 1913.
The federal reserve could expand the money supply at will for financing war or manipulating the economy. This systematically undermined US currency. The US continued to print dollars with no gold backing – and no one questioned it until the late sixties when France and others demanded that we fulfill our promise to pay one ounce of gold for each $35 that they returned to the treasury.
It all ended on August 15, 1971, when Nixon closed the gold window and refused to pay out any of our remaining 280 million ounces of gold. In essence, we declared our insolvency and everyone recognized some other monetary system had to be devised in order to bring stability to the markets.
Amazingly, a new system was devised which allowed the U.S. to operate the printing presses for the world reserve currency with no restraints placed on it– not even a pretense of gold convertibility, none whatsoever! Though the new policy was even more deeply flawed, it nevertheless opened the door for dollar hegemony to spread.
Realizing the world was embarking on something new and mind boggling, elite money managers, with especially strong support from U.S. authorities, struck an agreement with OPEC to price oil in U.S. dollars exclusively for all worldwide transactions. This gave the dollar a special place among world currencies and in essence backed the dollar with oil. In return, the U.S. promised to protect the various oil-rich kingdoms in the Persian Gulf against threat of invasion or domestic coup. This arrangement helped ignite the radical Islamic movement among those who resented our influence in the region. The arrangement gave the dollar artificial strength, with tremendous financial benefits for the United States. It allowed us to export our monetary inflation by buying oil and other goods at a great discount as dollar influence flourished.
In the 1970s the price of gold jumped from$35 an ounce to $800 an ounce. There was a great need to stabilize the dollar – so there was a general agreement that the dollar would become the new gold. OPEC agreed in the 1970s to price oil in terms of dollars – this created a universal demand for the dollar.
Most importantly, the dollar/oil relationship has to be maintained to keep the dollar as a preeminent currency. Any attack on this relationship will be forcefully challenged as it already has been.
In November 2000 Saddam Hussein demanded Euros for his oil. His arrogance was a threat to the dollar; his lack of any military might was never a threat. At the first cabinet meeting with the new administration in 2001, as reported by Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, the major topic was how we would get rid of Saddam Hussein– though there was no evidence whatsoever he posed a threat to us. This deep concern for Saddam Hussein surprised and shocked O’Neill.
It now is common knowledge that the immediate reaction of the administration after 9/11 revolved around how they could connect Saddam Hussein to the attacks, to justify an invasion and overthrow of his government. Even with no evidence of any connection to 9/11, or evidence of weapons of mass destruction, public and congressional support was generated through distortions and flat out misrepresentation of the facts to justify overthrowing Saddam Hussein.
There was no public talk of removing Saddam Hussein because of his attack on the integrity of the dollar as a reserve currency by selling oil in Euros. Many believe this was the real reason for our obsession with Iraq. I doubt it was the only reason, but it may well have played a significant role in our motivation to wage war. Within a very short period after the military victory, all Iraqi oil sales were carried out in dollars. The Euro was abandoned.
In 2001, Venezuela�s ambassador to Russia spoke of Venezuela switching to the Euro for all their oil sales. Within a year there was a coup attempt against Chavez, reportedly with assistance from our CIA.
After these attempts to nudge the Euro toward replacing the dollar as the world�s reserve currency were met with resistance, the sharp fall of the dollar against the Euro was reversed. These events may well have played a significant role in maintaining dollar dominance.
It’s become clear the U.S. administration was sympathetic to those who plotted the overthrow of Chavez, and was embarrassed by its failure. The fact that Chavez was democratically elected had little influence on which side we supported.
Now, a new attempt is being made against the petrodollar system. Iran, another member of the axis of evil, has announced her plans to initiate an oil bourse in March of this year. Guess what, the oil sales will be priced Euros, not dollars.
So the United States, according to this speech, has become a new empire builder – not by conquering and taking possession of other people’s gold and labor – but by printing more and more paper money and exchanging it for goods and defending our right to do so by military force. Perhaps our economy will be crucified upon a cross of Gold – as William Jennings Bryan said shouldn’t happen in his famous 1896 speech at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Using force to compel people to accept money without real value can only work in the short run. It ultimately leads to economic dislocation, both domestic and international, and always ends with a price to be paid.
– Ron Paul