April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

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How it feels at the pump

April 4, 2011 Leave a comment
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Youth, Movements and The Muslim Brotherhood

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

The other day, a really smart, well educated and conventional 20 something—call him John—wrote to me about developments in Egypt and said that he, like young people everywhere, has an optimistic view that given the opportunity the youth of the world would end all this conflict. He said he believes that Washington propaganda is keeping the War on Terror going. He felt that somehow this causes repression of the people, creating hatred that fuels terrorism. “Let freedom ring!” he said.

I recognized my own words in his message. I understood his remarks about Egypt. All of these movements are inspiring. Think of Prague, Berlin and all of fall of the Soviet Union. Tiananmen Square (was there this fall–amazing!). It’s always youth who lay it on the line for change. I’m all for it!

Even though JOhn grew up with my kids, he didn’t know about my radical youth. So, I told him that I had a fair amount of experience in “changing the world”. I got “clean for Gene” and campaigned for Jerry. I marched in sympathy during Mississippi Summer in 1964. I marched on Washington in 1969. I witnessed the Six Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. I was in the Student Strike in 1970. I voted for Carter. I remember when Sadat made peace with Israel. And I watched it fall apart when the PLO and Yasser Arafat arrived, and Hamas and Hezbollah were born.

Through it all, I learned a few things about idealism, movements and politics. When I participated in civil rights marches, anti Vietnam War marches, and the student strike of 1970, I chillingly observed that behind the scenes were the professional organizers, who were usually the people from Communist League or the Socialist Workers Party, or offshoots like the Weathermen. They were professional “community organizers”. They had an infrastructure to produce flyers and organize rallies and provide speakers. It was sickening to see them take over our little strike at Wesleyan. Eventually, they were irrelevant—and we all went home for summer break. The Left is a vast and well-organized movement that exploits youth. It “never lets a good crisis go to waste”. Believe me, the Left is in Egypt, too.

I started to change my mind about liberal politics by the time I had a family and saw the destruction of the Carter years and the glory of the Reagan Revolution, but I’ve grown more conservative since 911 and the rise of socialism. Not that they are related, especially.

Who represses Arab youth? Mullahs, sheiks, socialists, terrorists, dictators, etc. Who sponsors terrorism? Same answer. Who exploits Arab youth? Same answer. This certainly creates hatred, and that is manipulated by…same answer. When Arab youth overthrow dictators, the Mullahs, terrorists, sheiks, socialists and (replacement) dictators are laughing because they will step in to fill the vacuum. The Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. This whole situation is special and the stakes are quite high. The Arab/Muslim situation is about as bad as it can get because there is almost no hope. Everyone is so poor and the land is so barren. They don’t really have a lot going for them. They don’t have the up side that, say, China has.

On top of that, theocratic Muslim society is doomed because the religion is laced with a dark side. Unlike Christianity which certainly had its dark side, Islam is still in the dark ages. Until Islam joins the modern world, the cycle will continue. Puzzled by all of this, I read the Koran and some very good books about Muslim Society. (See, What Went Wrong, by Princeton scholar Bernard Lewis http://www.amazon.com/What-Went-Wrong-Between-Modernity/dp/0060516054).

The teachings of the Koran are not homogenous. There is the “kinder, gentler” Koran (Meccan), full of peace and admiration for Jews and Christians, that Mohammed wrote when he imagined they would recognize him as the Prophet. Then, there is the hateful, violent part (Medinan). When the Jews and Christians didn’t embrace Mohammed as The Messiah, he raised and army and slaughtered them at Medina. Then he wrote the part of the Koran that instructs Muslims to murder the infidel and establish the world-wide Caliphate. After that comes the Hadith, which is part of a tradition of manipulation of Islamic doctrine to suit the political purposes of the Muslim world as it developed, also encompassing Sharia. Until Islam can move beyond these Medieval traditions, the cycle of violence is likely to continue. Arab youth are just cannon fodder, kept uneducated and poor by those in power. Islam, as a theocracy, has a long tradition of manipulating its people in the name of divine interpretation of scripture.

Western society beat back Islamic aggression, eventually, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire. But Modern Western leaders have squandered their resources on social programs, so now they have no choice but to stand by on a platform of political correctness and watch as Islam destroys itself. I hope it doesn’t destroy the rest of us in the process. One thing for sure, China isn’t going to let this hopeless foolishness happen over there, even though there are many Muslims in China.

George W. Bush may turn out to have been correct in believing that by establishing a democracy in Iraq, Arab youth everywhere else might look on and say, “Gee whiz, I want some of that, too!” Ironically, the Arab youth who are leading the early stages of the upheaval in Egypt want a democratic, secular solution, it would appear—perhaps they like the idea of elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, it is likely that democratic developments in Egypt might not last for long because of…the Muslim Brotherhood.

If Ronald Reagan were president now, things would be different. You weren’t around then, but on the day he took office in 1981, the Ayatollah decided to release the American hostages who had been held by Iranian thugs for 444 days. Why? Because Reagan stood for freedom and was willing to defend it. I can’t say that about our current inexperienced and misguided leadership.

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Haines, Aftershock and Vince Flynn

March 25, 2010 1 comment

What do Aftershock, by Weidemer, et al., Term Limits, by Vince Flynn, and Haines AK have in common?  Just tags with a temporal link.  This is not deep.  Random reading I took to Haines for heliskiing (That’s deep!).

Notice the gun pointed at my head!

So, we are hanging around Haines today, as we did yesterday.  Some of the guests took that gun and others up to a range to do some shooting yesterday, but Emily and I missed the fun due to a laundromat run.  Today, after a 28 inch storm (That’s right–at sea level!), the outlook is for more snow, mixed with rain at sea level.  We are going to stay here until Friday, at least, even though I’ve hit my 90K vert limit and Emily is already at 109K.  There’s no point in going home early, since Delta will charge us $750 to change our tickets and we’d rather hang here than in Juneau or Seattle.

This morning (Wednesday), there is still a low ceiling at 9am, but it’s due to lift later and we may get some tree skiing in.  Not like it was over the weekend, when there was plenty of blue sky, as can be seen from the photos posted below.  There are so many good ones, it’s hard to choose, not to mention the video, which I’m still sorting through.

This one is typical of the soft, consistent and cold stuff we found all the way down.  We got here from a face above and just farmed it on down to the spines underneath.  Notice the spray is big enough to cast its own shadow. Also, notice the blue sky, which we had all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday and most of Monday.  I was skiing Czars at this point, since my Folsoms went to their grave, but more on that later.

It’s hard to feel the aftershock up here, but it will likely impact many who come to AK or aspire to.  It’s possible that when the dollar bubble pops, those who might otherwise go to Canada for their powder fix will look to a dollar friendly alternative, but the cost of fuel will likely make it too expensive for most folks, even those who can afford it.  Enough!

So, what follows are two more.  The first is what might be found higher up and the second is the spiney stuff below, although there are spines up high, too.

That’s it for now!

Observe tiny skier for scale


June 18, 2006 1 comment


This was the scene that awaited me the evening after I flew back into Utah after a week in Baltimore. Not that Baltimore isn't nice, but the renewing quality of light in the mountains gets me frequently and easily. It washes off the world sometimes. Nietzsche said that the constraints of society are imposed and locked down on us with dragon-like intensity, and that it takes a lionesque effort to break them down. The mountain lion was lurking this morning. All I had to do was sit down in the red chair and watch the show, like a child.

March 23, 2006

April 3, 2006 2 comments

On March 25 we held my father’s funeral services in Baltimore. Most of the family and his friends were able to make it to the services and the reception afterwards, and it was really a pretty nice experience.

My father was a simple guy. He was more comfortable in a blue blazer, gray flannels and loafers than wing tips and a suit. He helped me to memorize that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrift, brave, clean and reverent. And that is just about how thought a man should be. A man of few words and was fond of saying, “A closed mouth gathers no feet.” I keep this in mind as I think about all the things I could say about my Dad, his accomplishments, his challenges, and the way he died.

My Dad taught me to value fundamental things like accountability, punctuality, frugality and good execution—that is, trying always to do things well. He taught me to always question and analyze, but not be paralyzed. He summed this up by quoting Abraham Lincoln, who said, “First be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”

My Dad wasn’t entirely with us in the last few years. There was a lot of speculation about the reasons that led to his problems. I don’t know why, but he was ravaged by alcohol and seemed to have no willingness to fight it. For a while I used to think he was raging against the darkness, as Dylan Thomas advised. I reread Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night a few times, and came to understand it better. But raging doesn’t explain how alcohol seemed to amplify his loneliness and despair. In the end, it only made him weaker.

It took percolation to get to where I am now. I do not want to dive again into his personal dark world. I’d rather concentrate on the aspects of his life that inspire and teach. For a while, I felt the need to talk about addiction, darkness and all of that, but Sandy helped me to see that this is not what other people want to hear. I can see now that there is very little meaning in despair and it makes for horrible conversation. So, in remembrance of him, I am working on some pages that include photos and other documents, including some fantastic photos he kept from his war days.

I had plenty of time to prepare for this experience and so I felt pretty comfortable, in an ironic way. My advice is to remember it is not too early to begin preparations. Most of us have a huge role to play in the drama of death. The more details out of the way in advance, the more you will be open to the experience, which is quite moving and powerful.

Thanks to all who have been so kind and caring to my father and to our family.

Categories: Death, Dying, Fathers

Comment posted to the “to all” post

March 18, 2006 1 comment

In addition to Larry Gubb’s comment to the US Ski Team Post, there’s another good comment from Al Hobart on the same subject, but it’s posted to the previous section entitled “to all.” Thanks, Al.

Categories: Alpine Skiing