Friday, September 30, 2011

New "Do Ask Do Tell" booklet available; new home page look for "" announced; notes about my own "identity integrity" and nicknames

They say that the most important news (to blog about) is the “events” you personally witness or initiate (in a constructive sense).  So here we go.

I have something to announce!

Yesterday, Thursday September 29, 2011 I changed the “look” of my home page for my main website  For policy reasons, I’ll invite the visitor to just type it into the browser line (it’s not that hard to do).

And on Monday, September 19, 2011 I had uploaded a copy of my new E-book, “Do Ask Do Tell III: Speech Is a Fundamental Right; Being ‘Listened To’ Is a Privilege”. It can also be called “Do Ask Do Tell 3” (like a movie sequel).

I’ll discuss soon on my Books blog how I am distributing it.

As for the web page, I decided a “simpler look” was appropriate, and particularly a setup that would tell visitors what I have done more recently and what I am working on “now” – which is, so to speak, mainly to market my screenplays and resurrect some music I had composed as a teenager and young adult.  I am not yet offering separate mobile access, and I think that a simple tabular (and columnar) approach to the page (readily  accomplished in Microsoft Expression Web) was appropriate.

This may a good time to note that I have two “names”:  A legal name, of John William Boushka or John W.. Boushka, and a nickname (given at birth in 1943 by my parents) of Bill Boushka, with the “Bill” derived from the middle name “William” (sorry, not England’s prince, but I went bald early, just like “he” has). 

I have used “Bill Boushka” as a quasi-pseudonym, and it is the name I publish my books under.  

Besides the blogs (16 on Blogger and one other), I have three domains:  

“” is the main site, with links to the blogs and all my books, including e-commerce information, book text online, and various supporting materials.  These have accumulated over the years and become voluminous.  It runs on a Windows Server platform, share-hosted by Verio.  There is still a possibility that I may use the Windows SQL Server features there for a database project on “Opposing Viewpoints” or to cross-reference my media reviews.  

“” is an experimental site, with reduced content but a special “Technical-Legal Confluence News” blog, which I have not updated as faithfully as “The Fab 16” on Blogger. It runs on a Unix platform, share-hosted by Verio. It’s main practical value, besides the Wordpress blog, is that it hosts an experimental “Opposing Viewpoints” database in MySQL.

“”  hosts my “professional” resume, with respect to my previous career in “mostly mainframe” information technology. It is hosted by Network Solutions (I presume on Unix).  The need for such a site is less evident now, given my recent shift in emphasis. But generally I don’t give up domains.  However, until 2006 it had been hosted by a different provider (which failed) where I tried some java experiments. 

Much of the material on “” was at one time (until 2005) on a domain called “”, an acronym for “High Productivity Publishing”, under which I had self-published my first two books before 2000, which I switched to iUniverse.  I had established “” in 1999.  I merged hppub into in the summer of 2005.  Now I use “” as the name of the publishing entity, on an informal basis.

It has been common for authors, especially those with difficult-to-spell “foreign” names, to write under nicknames or pseudonyms (in the 19th Century, women took on the names of men).  In recent years, both Facebook and now Google+ have insisted that people use “real names” and maintain singular identities, as evidence of “integrity” and to prevent abuse of anonymity and security problems on their social networking sites.  On Facebook I use my legal name “John W Boushka”.  I don’t use the Myspace entry now much, but it looks like I have used both the names “Bill” and “JBoushka” there.  On Twitter I’m “JBoushka”.  My Facebook and Twitter links are on the contact page accessible from the home page (top row). 

My loose usage of my “name” had developed well before the more recent concerns about “online reputation” had developed, and before social networking sites started insisting on integrity in the use of personal names.  It had long been accepted practice in the “Web 1.0” world under which I had “come of age”.   Electronic Frontier Foundation and the ACLU have vigorously defended anonymous and pseudonymous speech (which overseas is sometimes absolutely necessary to stay out of prison).  I will have to think carefully about my further self-identification policy, and may have to contact the various providers.  It is not easy to make them consistent across all service providers, when I joined up at widely different times and when they have differing corporate policies on the matter.  I have placed BOTH by nickname and now my legal name on my home page at the bottom so that search engines can try to link them as equivalent.

I am not yet removing any content, since it is embedded in the search engines (and even the Internet Archive, which also shows materials).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can Facebook's "Timeline" affect "online reputation"?

Linked In, not really a full rival of Facebook, is warning users that misuse of Facebook’s new Timeline feature could affect online reputation.

If you honor a Facebook Timeline icon on any app or website offering it, any friends could see you had visited it.  Of course, Facebook will say you can fine-tune exactly which kinds of friends can see what.

The story is here

Generally, I’m not in a hurry to let the public know where I have surfed, even though I haven’t turned off tracking in Mozilla, yet.  I can tell from comments who visited my blogs, and can garner some ideas from statistics (bounce rates) in Analytics (or Urchin), but expecting to know exactly who saw what you wrote sounds a bit like wanting to know who bought your book on Amazon or BN (or even iUniverse).

“Publication” to me means, anyone can read it, without anyone else knowing he or she read it. Like the (horror) movie "Pieces", "Publication" is exactly what you think it is. 

NBC Washington says today, all you have to do is "like" the station on Facebook to enter a contest for prizes. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quotes at new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial inspire thought or debate

I visited the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial (url), and then the Korean War Memorial today.

There is a separate site explaining the "Dedicate the Dream" ceremony, rescheduled to Oct. 16 from the hurricane, here.

In the distance, one could still see the rappelling on the Washington Monument.  My own mother used to say "You're not a climber."  True. 

It would seem that some of King’s quotes comport with Josh Groban’s song “War at Home”, which was so moving at the Capitol Fourth celebration this July.  The quote that our loyalties must become ecumenical is certainly interesting.  It certainly needs to transcend tribalism, yet sometimes love needs to be focused on specific people to have generate any energy to start with.

Somehow I had always overlooked the Korean War Memorial. I like the “Freedom is not free” plaque. 
The dedication of this bouquet, from the "Republic of Korea", is interesting.

Monday, September 26, 2011

FL Teacher fired when others film, post and mail her "behavior"

I've posted here about teachers fired for their blog or Facebook postings, but it's pretty easy to get fired for what others post about you, or even mail to school officials. Old school!

A teacher in Florida, Natalie Santagata, was fired from her fourth grade job after videos of her in compromising behavior briefly appeared on YouTube were sent to parents and the school district by “amateur paparazzi”. The Huffington Post has this video:

The activities were carried out with consenting adults in private. The debate over the incident goes on at Gawker here. This is more like a case we could have had twenty years ago.

While we’re discussing teachers’ job security, it’s worth noting another story today on MSNBC, the increase in the percentage of teachers in their first year or two of teaching. Studies show that teachers with at least three years’ experience do get better test results. But so many people leaving teaching within five years.  Given the first part of this posting, is it any wonder why?

The MSN link is here

Sunday, September 25, 2011

It's easy for Facebook to emulate others' ideas, for now

Farhad Manjoo has some articles about Facebook’s “innovation by copying” on Slate, the latest, reprinted on p. G4, “Technology & Innovation” in the Washington Post today, is “Great Social Networks Steal: In praise of Facebook’s thievery” (as if this were emulating the new wave movie “In Praise of Love”). In print, it’s called “’Smart Lists’: Facebook shows that the real skill is knowing what to take”, Slate link here

Manjoo discusses the litigiousness of the mobile app world, related to patent law and perhaps patent trolling, driven by the fiduciary mentality of publicly trade companies.  He says, however, that the legal culture of the web software world isn’t the same. For now, “Facebook is free to grab “what it wants with both fists”. That we, Manjoo says, you don't need anything else and you can let Facebook "rule your world" (or "rule The World").  It's not clear on the face whether web apps are more about copyright or trademark. But he believes that the web app world is more lenient about these things than the mobile world. That wouldn't necessarily hold forever. 

I remember back in the 90s that employers were in dread of audits from the “Software Publishers Association”, to the point that it wasn’t OK to give associates copies of virus scans to take home before dialing in with Procomm for on-call mainframe production work.

As for more recent years, Manjoo should read the saga of Righthaven. Oh, maybe it’s over. 

Picture: wait for Stephen King's Langoliers

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Facebook introduces its "personalized newspaper", called Timeline. What's a "top story"?

There’s a lot of flak out there about Facebook’s additional changes today. Facebook says it will try to make your news feed into a personalized online newspaper, by putting the “top stories” first when you log on. It probably would affect users who log on less frequently more.

Here is Facebook’s own explanation, "Interesting News Anytime You Visit". 

The (trademarked?) buzzword to describe the concept seems to be “TimeLine” (replacing the Profile), but it seems as though Facebook Timelines are out-of-sequence, like dreams in “Inception”.  However, Facebook expects the Timeline to be able to show you your own "Tree of Life", connecting everything related to you it has. 

Now, as I’ve said, I’m not so keen about a third party “ruling the World” deciding what is most important to me.  Still, if a tornado is approaching my area and I find out about it from Facebook first, that’s fine. As I’ve noted before, I’m, at age 68 (the same as National’s Manager Davey Johnson) not so keen about grading my friends in public as to who is “closest” (or as to who I want sitting next to me in a dugout as a particularly hairy-chested pinch hitter – if you remember Johnson’s comment after a particular Nats’ walkoff win).
There are other ways to garner “important” personalized news.  Following Next Blog on Google sort of can do that.  And AOL, MSN, and CNN all group their news stories so you can sort them quickly when you visit their sites.  I suppose Adrianna Huffington could opine on how to decide what is “top news”, even when personalized.

ABC News has a detailed story on Timeline, and indicates that SNL star Andy Samberg (but not Jesse Eisenberg) helped with the presentation, link. Zuckerberg was pretty impressive himself on SNL last January.  (How about Taylor Lautner on SNL?)

Here is Wilson Rothman’s story on MSNBC, “this is your life”, link here

MSNBC is offering a “Short Film by Mark Zuckerberg” (37 minutes), where he gives a "functional decomposition" of Timeline. Maybe it belongs on my Movies blog.

I tried a post on Facebook a while ago -- about a generically important topic -- the effects on the floods of a couple weeks ago on a Maryland town (Ellicott City). It got marked as a top story. But I didn't need an announcement that the sister of someone I don't really know is going into labor to jump as a top story. 

If the Nationals sweep the Phillies tonight “On The Road”, that deserves to be a Facebook Top News story.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Implosion of Righthaven said to bode well for future of progressive digital media

Electronic Frontier Foundation has an important (but hard to find) article dated Sept. 12, by Rainey Reitman and Kurt Opshahl, “From the Ashes of Righthaven, the Promising Future of Digital Media, link (website url) here

EFF points out a promising development in the formation of a company called Digital First, that will try to monetize digital media and blogging in a modern matter.  There is an official press release from the Journal Register Company here, which will be merged with Media News Group.  The Wordpress blog announcement is (website url) here. John Paton writes that in the new world “digital dimes can pay for news rooms”  and can “replace print dollars”.  EFF notes that paywalls and turf-protecting copyright “enforcement” will become necessary in this brave new world. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tech Crunch situation is a classic "conflict of interest" for journalists and bloggers

A new controversy over “conflict of interest” has erupted at Tech Crunch. Mike Arrington was reportedly forced out after investing in companies that he wrote about, and then starting his “Crunch Fund”.

Zdnet has a basic news story here. Adriana Huffington reportedly tried to carve out an “exception” for Mike for a while and let him do this. AOL’s press statements were euphemistic, as in the letter.
Paul Carr wrote a piece on Tech Crunch, often republished, as to why he was resigning, here. Paul appeared on CNN before Candy Crowley Sunday morning.

As I have written before, back in 1997 I transferred to an acquiring company in Minneapolis to avoid a potential conflict of interest over writing about gays in the military. That would cause potential complications in my life later with the family back in Arlington. But I had also come to feel that I should not depend on a source close to the military given the political tension over “don’t ask don’t tell”. That’s how I had felt.
Here is CNN’s story

Friday, September 16, 2011

Maybe the soul can teleport itself -- as information "only"

Here’s a little ditty by Dr. Chris Monroe at the University of Maryland on teleportation,
Courtesy of AOL and Adrianna Huffington.

If you want to go to other planets, you don’t have to get in a spaceship. All you need is to move the information that describes you completely to the other world, and some physicists say that the movement of “information” (a reverse of entropy) isn’t bound by the speed of light (as in Jeffrey Mishlove’s 1978 treatise “The Roots of Consciouness”.  Your sense of identity or soul will be reproduced on the other planet (as long as it’s deleted here first). Go listen to Ralph Vaughn Williams and "Toward the Unknown Region", or Charles Ives "The Unanswered Question". 

It’s pretty sobering as to life after death.  Maybe your soul never goes away. If you don’t get things right on this world, you’ll be born into the equivalent of Somalia on the next.

Here’s something from ACLU Massachusetts by Nancy Murray and Kade Crockford, about the American “surveillance state”, reproduced on AlterNet, link.  Once you’re suspect, there’s no way off.  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Facebook fine-tunes the "Friends" concept: do you really want to know what kind of "friend" you are of person X?

Facebook is enabling users to fine-tune their Friends’ lists into various categories, such as “close”, “acquaintances”, “workplace”, etc.  I suspect there will develop the ability for users to give names to their own categories. Also possible it seems is to "follow" people without friending at all (as on Twitter).  

Facebook’s own explanation is here

I suppose that this could have ramifications in the social world of relationships.  People could tell how others feel about them (“close” or “acquaintance”) by the "friend category" they get.  I remember a conversation at Julius’s in New York City back in the late 1970s where someone said “You’re just a friend.”  I can imagine the sitcom situations that comedy writers will come up with this.  

This enhancement also places more emphasis on “social networking” for its own sake, as opposed to self-publishing or self-broadcast, which back in the late 1990s in a Web 1.0 environment resulted in pretty effective social networking for me.  Older people are likely to report that sort of experience.  And this could even have legal significance as the concept of “online reputation” evolves in the law.

If you search for “Mark Zuckerberg” in Facebook you get a variety of pages, some of which have the sweater-blazer thumbnail picture with the designation “Public Figure”.   This usually shows up under “Pages” whereas under “Profile” you see his Harvard profile (which sometimes gets linked to anyway by other  search results.)  All of that is interesting legally (and psychologically), for someone to call himself a “public figure”:  in common law, a “public figure” has a greater expectation of “right of publicity” but a lower threshold for “right of privacy”.   Mark  has had some great photos out there from trips to India and Brazil; I hope he keeps them up in “Public”. And, sorry, digital camera flashes sometime bounce off people's eyes and give that "extraterrestrial alien anthropologist" look (remember the Time Mag piece).  But digital photos of me in bars do that, too.  Maybe I'm an ET, too. and don't know it.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Redskins owner drops SLAPP "libel" suit against DC City Paper

Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has dropped his libel lawsuit against the Washington City Paper. The news story that broke on Sept. 10 is rendered by CP’s own account (reported Mike Madden) here

City Paper has characterized this as a SLAPP lawsuit, (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation), for which California has some effective laws but the nation as a whole does not (and certain the DC area doesn’t).

Interesting that all this happens as the Redskins sparkle in their season opener against the Giants, 28-14, at FedEx Field (in PG County).

Here's a "Public Citizen Inc"  (link) YouTube video (47 min) "Stopping SLAPP Suits" May 2010):

The Redskins have equipped FedEx Field with solar panels, and can sometimes sell power back to the grid. They also have electric car charging stations on the FedEx property now.  Snyder says he is proud that the team is going green. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bloggers and writers should beware of poor attribution as well as plagiarism

Washington Post ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton has another piece Sunday Sept. 11 on the high standards newspapers must demand of external submissions, “Giving credit where credit is due”, p A13, link. The online title is more specific, “Plagiarism, or poor attribution?”

When the substance of a submission to a paper leaned heavily on one older source, especially one more difficult to find online, clear attribution is a must.  Bloggers “get away with” hyperlinks without much other bibliographic information, but newspapers cannot print links, and even online versions of stories sometimes don’t have all of them.

The problem in the piece refers to a Post article by a freelancer (Anna Lewis) about the early role of women in computer science.  A University of Texas professor maintains that he was not properly credited.

I did notice early in my own IT career that women did get hired into well-paying jobs much more than outside society at the time.  Sperry Univac was particularly progressive with women as managers in the early 1970s (as it competed with IBM in the mainframe market).

Pexton asks at the end, “So, plagiarism and theft? No, but sloppy attribution, yes.”  Bloggers who accept assignments even with “online newspapers” should bear this in mind.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On 9/11: an obituary with a troubling note about personal honor

On Sept. 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times has a story on p 22, important to me, an obituary about the death of actor Cliff Robertson, who was blacklisted for four years in the late 1970s after exposing a Columbia Pictures executive for embezzlement. His wife criticized him for his “independence”.  I’ve written about blacklists during the McCarthy era on my movies blog (Dalton Trumbo, etc).  But that something like this was still happening as late as 1978 is shocking.

The obituary, by Peter Keepnews and Richard Severo, is here

I’ve covered my own morning of Sept. 11, 2001 before.  A few memories really stand out.  I had shut off the TV about 7:44 AM CDT in my Minneapolis apartment.  I took a moment to print a couple of items, before shutting off the Sony Vaio computer and walking to work at ING-Reliastar along the Skyway.  I arrived at about 7:55 AM.  I immediately went to work and resolved two internal customer support tickets and closed them.  At 8:25 AM CDT, a female coworker stood in my cubicle and told me what had happened.  I tried to get on to the Internet and couldn’t.

I walked downstairs to computer operations and saw a picture of the Pentagon, just struck on the Jumbotron TV in operations.  I walked back to the apartment, turned on the TV just in time to see the South Tower fall behind Tom Brokaw.  For a moment, we didn’t realize that a tower had fallen.

I walked back to work. We had a team-building cruise and lunch in the St. Croix River along the Wisconsin border that day.  We held it anyway.  The director even mentioned an earlier conversation that I  was going to make a push to learn java.

During that day, with perfectly blue skies and warm temperatures up north, we could get no information, except the Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania.  I knew they would ground all the airplanes and everything would be on the ground soon so there could be no more crashes.    There was a rumor that a plane had missed the Washington Monument, but we didn’t know about the threats to the White House and the Capitol, but both would have been long evacuated.  As we proved with the Pentagon, public buildings can be restored or rebuilt very quickly after all the lives have been saved.

No one mentioned Osama bin Laden that morning on the river boat. Some one did mention Bosnia and Serbia.  At the time, despite the USS Cole, generally Americans in the heartland did not fully grasp the existential threat that had been developing with the most radical elements of Islam.  We would have seen radical Islam as like extreme right-wing style fundamentalism in Christianity.  Extremism generally shares common explanations.

In replayed accounts on CNN, Aaron Brown would say, "There are no words."

Back in Arlington, my mother (now deceased in late 2010) was alone in a house about 5 miles from the Pentagon.  I suppose the plane could have crashed here.  She did not have the television on and said she did not learn about it until after noon.  She would have heard a boom from the crash into the Pentagon. Another cousin in Alexandria (from a hilltop above the downtown area) says he did hear it, and actually could see the plume of smoke.  

That night, I still attended a screening of "L.I.E." ("Long Island Expressway" with Brian Cox) and director Michael Cuesta got stranded in Minneapolis after the post-screening party. Later versions of the film would edit out the WTC towers. In Minenapolis that evening, gas stations gouged for one night.

My job at ING-ReliaStar would last 92 days after 9/11.  Had this not happened, it probably would have gone on much longer. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Righthaven might file for bankruptcy

What? Righthaven might itself declare bankruptcy?  That’s what Steve Green of the Las Vegas Sun is reporting now, story here.

A judgment of about $34000 to pay attorney’s fees to one successful defendant seems to break its spinal cord (excuse me, just a notochord).

 Another case, however, a judge did not rule that they would be paid.

Also Righthaven is reported as unable to renew its arrangement with the Denver Post.

Let’s hope this whole sorry episode of copyright trolling is fading away into  Internet archives.  I wonder if other planets have their own Righthavens. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Surviving the DC area's "Rain Train" from the (straight) marriage of Lee and Katia

Well, knock on wood, Arlington VA may be luckier than many communities after Rain-a-geddon.  It helps Arlingtonians that most of the northern part of the little remnant of Washington DC (split off because of the Civil War) is on high ground, 300-500 feet above sea  (and river) level.  Sometimes there can be 6 inches of snow here and only rain in Foggy Bottom.  300 feet of elevation can make that much difference in the winter.

Around 5 AM, the electricity flickered once, not long enough to kick on the generator. The Comcast Cable went out, came back, went out, and is back on again. Probably won’t be reliable until a downed old tree three blocks away is cleared off.  Washington Boulevard, a main artery, is closed near Westover as a grand old tree ended its life and fell across completely, even in 5 mph winds.  Police are really on this one, diverting motorists for blocks around.  Trees near streets and sidewalks are usually the first to go in heavy rain events.

There was a ferocious thunderstorm at about 1:30 AM, that lasted about twenty minutes. Lots of lightning, little wind. I have never seen it rain so hard.

One should never be complacent. I’m told that an old stream was tunneled underground nearby during the late 1940s when the homes in the area were built.   I suppose ten inches of rain could rupture it, and certainly affect foundations or sewage systems.  Floods can also rupture natural gas lines.

The cause of this “Event” is that Tropical Storm Lee, the remnants of which, stalled in Ohio, pulling up a jet from off the South Carolina Coast.  Hurricane Katia in the Atlantic interacts with it to keep the line of storms training over the same areas.

The hardest hit areas seem to be southern Maryland (it always is the most exposed), and the wonderful railroad town of Ellicott City SW of Baltimore.  Charles County, MD had 11.5 inches of rain in 12 hours.

Here’s another thing.  A roof doesn’t have to be flat to leak. I still have a pail in the living room “protecting” the sofa.

Let’s hope that Nate moves up into Texas.  I lived in Dallas 1979-1988, and had a town house in “the Grove” for a long time.  

Is all of this part of Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth"?  I'm afraid I'm inclined to think so.  I don't remember so many near disasters when I grew up here in the 50s.  But then, the area was less built up and there was less infrastructure that could fail, and the trees were younger and smaller. We used to sit on the porch and watch thunderstorms.  They were fun, not enemies.  And every summer in Ohio, we had at least one storm bigger than any we ever have here.  Without fail.  
Here’s the MLB video interview of Nationals Pitcher Stephen Strasburg, link. The Nationals should be ashamed of losing that game Tuesday night after his five shutout innings.

View more videos at:

WARNING:  NBC just reported that the town of Binghamton NY is closed and that a massive flood is eminent. Follow news stories carefully anywhere on the Easy Coast, from NC northward, for sudden floods. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A well-known columnist breaks down and joins Facebook, because not doing so is "rude"; and is it morally wrong to have multiple identities on the Web?

Author and columnist Curtis Sittenfeld (“Prep” and “American Wife”) has a humorous confession on p 4 of the New York Times Sunday Review Sept. 4, “I’m on Facebook. It’s over”, link here

Check her public Facebook page here which gives a pretty good example of how to handle “online reputation”.

But she says she was taken aback by Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophical edict, “Having two identifies for yourself is an example of lack of integrity” (as reported in the Time "person of the year" coverage in December 2010).  Where does that take us with “conflict of interest”?

She also said she found out from feedback from friends that email was coming to be regarded as a cumbersome way to keep up (as with the arrival of other people’s babies, or “OPC – ‘other people’s children’”), and not being on Facebook was seen as “rude”.

We have really come full circle.   Although the circle may open, because, as she notes, the number of Facebook users may be shrinking for the first time, and there is “competition” from Google+.  But she is indeed on Facebook. 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Paterson teacher suspended for derogatory Facebook comments about her students

A teacher in Paterson, NJ was suspended for 120 days without pay and faces a hearing that could result in her firing, after a Facebook posting in which she wrote about her students “I’m a warden of future criminals.”  The post was visible to about 330 Friends but immediately went viral.

Part of the issue was that she was a white teacher perceived as making derogatory comments about minority students.

Paterson (recently in the news over Irene’s floods) is near Newark, which is getting a donation from Facebook founded Mark Zuckerberg.

The North Jersey News has the story by Leslie Brody, here.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A "accidental find" in Ocean City: Doubt is reconciled with Faith, and the Heiseneberg Uncertainty Principle is doing well, thank you

Today, at Ocean City MD, I found a loose page from the Sept. 18 USA Today, p. 6A, with the captioning under Letters “Questioning God can reaffirm and strengthen one’s faith”.   Maybe it was meant for me to find (call it a "freebie for CM", as if I earned it; my former Army buddies will know what I'm talking about). The letters (to the Editor) refer to an earlier article in USA Today Forums by Dean Nelson, “Why certainty about God is overrated”, and talks about the comeback of “doubt”.   The link is here

I remember even at MCC Dallas, the old church on Reagan St. before there was a Cathedral of Hope, that one of the elders there back in the 1980s (Jim Norwood) used to chant “I’m a believer, not a doubter”.  And I remember a particular member ("Skip") who tried to probe me about where “God” was in my own life.  I remember a particular lunch at the Lucas B&B on Oak Lawn, and a particular thunderstorm on a camping trip on the West Texas prairie back in 1979. And I remember that in August of 1979, after Jim’s partner Terry sung “He’s Alive” with his concert guitar on a Sunday night service, a particular member walked for the first time in ten years, and we all celebrated afterward at the Bell Pepper.  How well I remember Dallas in those pre-Moral-Majority days.

Perhaps we’re not talking so much about “doubt” as “paradox” or “duality”.  Call it the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle if you like. It just might explain how one could jump to another Universe and find Heaven. (Remember that wonderful play and PBS film about it by Michael Frayn, called "Copenhagen", often shown to AP physics or chemistry classes in high schools.)

I had a bizarre dream last night about a possible preview of the Afterlife. I was told it was a particular planet around a particular sun about 40 light years from Earth. Sorry, not in a parallel universe. It was a real place, with oceans, a mild climate, and a lot of embedded holographic worlds to live in. You could access Facebook there.  I wonder if, when we go, we get stuck in a last moment of space-time and stay there permanently, unless we really want to live forever, with what and whom we’ve got.

In a Sunday school class a few months ago, a woman talked about dealing with the need to "fear God".  Sometimes things seem that way.

Here is the Wikipedia attribution link for image of the Cathedral of Hope, which I have visited several times; should make another visit this year. I believe it is separate from UFMCC.