Friday, March 17, 2006

A Word About the Pike Company

It seems Pike CO. is causing Union problems in building the Malone WalMart big box. This is not surprising at all. Pike Co. is probably one of the largest groups of corporate liars in NYS.

Pike CO. was hired by the Saranac Lake School Board back in the late 1990's as construction managers to oversee and manage building and renovations at the high school, Petrova school, Lake Clear school and Bloomingdale school. Hire us, they said, and we guarantee that you will save money and get quality buildings.

Unfortunately, Pike CO. is directly responsible, in my opinion, for the problems with the new buildings that we are now seeing. To the tune of over 8 million dollars. It was their job to see that proper fill was used in the building foundations. I believe there is an ongoing lawsuit by the SL school district against Pike CO.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

SL School Board Rejects Artificial Turf Proposition

A group of SL school district residents want artificial turf on one of the playing fields at a cost of $1.5 million dollars. The board basically said we couldn't afford it this year and refused to put up a proposition to public vote. The artificial turf supporters submitted a petition requesting a proposition be put up for a public vote. However, they did not follow the law closely enough. A school board may refuse to place a proposition on the ballot if the petition submitted to the board is ambiguous. The actual site that the artificial turf would be installed was not specified. This also made the proposition ineligible for State Aid.

Question. If a group of residents were savey enough to know they could submit a petition to get a proposition up for a public vote, how is it they didn't know about the 'ambiguity' clause? It's right there on page 84 of the School Law handbook (28th edition). There are only two sports groups with the will or means to request artificial turf. Football or Lacrosse. Moreover, the football field is probably the only field on which artificial turf could be installed without a lot of drainage work first. So who were the interested citizens?

Lastly, the School Board President didn't have enough time to further research the proposal. In other words, you need to see which way the wind is blowing before you have an opinion.

It's Official - We All Owe $30,000 Each

The National Debt limit has been raised to $9,000,000,000,000. Each one of us, every man, woman and child in the USA, now owe $30,000. Mostly to Japan and China.

To be more precise it's actually $8,965,000,000. And, the bill passed with a vote of 52-48 along party lines with the fiscally conservative Republicans voting against...oops, what to hell am I saying the Republicans are no longer fiscally conservative.

Wal-Mart Prank

I find this story a little hard to believe but it's somewhat amusing. Not because it's Wal-Mart per se, but because haven't we all dreamed about getting the kind of revenge described in this story.

Don't Swear in Canandaigua, NY

Don't Swear in Canandaigua, NY, at least not when Pres. Bush is in town. Read about it here.

One Word Descriptions of Bush

From latest Pew Poll.

Positive: Good; Christian; Honest 28%

Negative: Incompetent; Idiot; Liar 48%

I'm a Liberal - But I knew that already

Find out what your political typology is by taking a short test here.

Liberals represent 17 percent of the American public, and 19 percent of registered voters. Predominantly white, most highly educated group, least religious group, 59% Democrat; 40% Independent. Liberals are second only to Enterprisers in following news about government and public affairs most of the time (60%). Liberals’ use of the internet to get news is the highest among all groups (37%).

What's your typology? I'm guessing Brandon will be a 'disaffected', can't guess about Sara but there is a group called 'upbeat' so I'll go with that one.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Justice Dept. and Rep. John Sweeney

People are wondering why the US Justice Department has investigated the financial records of Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY 20). According to this article in the Post Star, Rep. Sweeney's records were examined on the same day as those pols involved with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Of course, Rep. Sweeney does not now, nor has he ever had any involvement with Jack Abramoff (along with most congressional Republicans). At least Mr. Sweeney was in good company because the records of Rep. Burns (R-MT), Tom Delay (R-TX), and Bob Ney (R-OH) were examined on the same day. If you don't know the history of those 3 guys you really are out of it.

Thanks to 20TrueBlue for bringing this to our attention because it sure isn't getting much national press.

Also see comments on this topic posted by The 10,000 Things.

Rich State, Poor State, Blue State, Red State

Reading E.J. Dionne Jr. in the Washington Post put me on to this paper. Rich State, Poor State, Blue State, Red State: What's the matter with Connecticut? by A. Gelman, B. Shor, J. Bafumi and D. Park, 2005, Dept. of Statistics and Department of Political Science, Columbia University. A link to a pdf of the paper is here.

The paper asks how Democrats do so well in wealthy regions of the country but still are not the party of the rich. The authors conclude that rich people in poor (Red) states are much more likely to vote Republican than poor people in those states. But in rich states (Blue), income has almost no correlation with vote preference.

E.J. Dionne concludes that "The divide in American politics is about more than the ideological distance between the two parties. Right now red-staters and blue-staters live in two different political universes."

The paper is somewhat technical and heavy on statistics, but at least look at Figure 12.

Precise SL Weather

I've added a link to Precise SL Weather for you out of town and overseas readers. It's based out of Petrova Elementary School in SL.

Heligmosomoides polygyrus

Thanks to sitemeter I can now see that alot of people arrive at this blog because they google "Heligmosomoides polygyrus". They probably want the cool picture that I posted, so I've posted it again. This is a picture of a male and female worm. The female is the larger worm and you can see the eggs inside her at the tail end. The male worm has the distinctive bursae at the tail end. This picture was taken for me by Dr. Jay R. Georgi DVM when I was working at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Georgi had this wonderful microscope that he loved more than anything. He was given money to purchase the microscope when a downed powerline killed one of his best sources of a parasite. I can't remember if the animal was a sheep or a pony. Here it is again and if you use it please remember Dr. Georgi, one of the best veterinary parasitologists ever.

NOTE: I should point out that this nematode was once named Nematospiroides dubius.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Saint Pope John Paul

How do we make Pope John Paul a saint as rapidly as possible? Well, first, while you are Pope, change the 1000 year old Canon Law to make it easier to attain sainthood. Specifically, do away with the 'devils advocate' position. This was the person whose job it was to attack the evidence in favor of sainthood. Next, it's really good if your successor waives the 5 yr waiting period before launching the canonization process. Those two things completed, the last thing you have to do is find someone that swears they were the recipient of a mircle after praying to JP. This also appears to have happened. Is there really any question that JP is on the fast track to sainthood?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Todays Pravda Online Editorial

George W. Bush is not evil. He is just stupid. By David R. Hoffman, Legal Editor of Pravda.RU.

The Christian Gospels

I'm reading 'The Last Templar' by Raymond Khoury. It's sort of a da Vinci Code type book, the major theme being the lies of the Catholic Church. In this case, the lie that Jesus of Nazareth was divine. The heroine and hero of this book are looking for the lost 'treasure' of the Knights Templar. The 'treasure' turns out to be a book written by Jesus which instructs us to look inward for the meaning of God. No church or priests required. The book is no where near as good as the da Vinci Code although it does tell you a bit about the Templars.

Of course, reading these types of books always makes me want to know more. Stuff that 12 yrs of Catholic school doesn't teach you. For instance, Arianism: Arius (250 - 336 CE) proposed that Jesus and God were very separate and different entities: Jesus was closer to God than any other human being, but he was born a man, had no prior existence, and was not a god. On the other hand, God has been in existence forever. Arius felt that any attempt to recognize the deity of Christ would blur the lines between Christianity and the Pagan religions. If Christianity recognized two separate gods, the Father and Jesus, it would become a polytheistic religion. Arianism was put to rest at the Council of Nicea in 325 CE.

Then you have the question of how gospels were chosen to be included in the Christian bible. The hero of 'The Last Templar' is a devout catholic. But he did not know that the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke and John were not written by Jesus' disciples. In fact, no one knows who wrote them. Many scholars believe that the author of one gospel copied passages from another gospel. The hero of 'The Last Templar', an FBI agent, also does not know that the first gospel written by Mark (although many argue Matthew was written first), was written about 40 years after the death of Jesus. This at a time when there were no newspapers, no books and no google, only oral tradition. I didn't realize that some church scholars believe in the existance of the gospel of Q, a hypothetical book of 'sayings' of Jesus written about 20 years after his death.

Then there are the gospels that were written around the same time but not included in the Christian Bible. The Gospel of Thomas for instance. Thomas is the record of a Christian community creatively accommodating influences from Gnosticism. It could not be included because of its Gnostic content.

The Gospel of Mary is another rejected book. This is a gospel that contains many Gnostic ideas, including the concept that evil powers in the world were attempting to keep people ignorant of their true spiritual nature. This gospel also tells of the leadership that women gave during the early Christian movement.

Two gospels I was unaware of include: The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, where as a young boy, Jesus curses one of his playmates causing him to wither up. This gospel also describes Jesus visit to the Temple, the same as Luke 2:41. It was probably written sometime in the second century CE. The Infancy Gospel of James describes the life of Mary, Jesus' mother. James of course is supposedly the brother of Jesus, however it is more likely this gospel was written in the 2 nd century CE.

One of my favorite sources for all things concerning religion is here.