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Gender: Female
Current location: New Hampshire
Member since: Sat Jan 10, 2004, 06:50 AM
Number of posts: 34,024

Journal Archives

I received this email from Joe's campaign yesterday

It is so typical of the many stories I have read about him. So many people don't realize what kind of person he really is.

The story I’m about to share with you about Joe Biden is special -- in fact, I’m fairly certain I’m the only living person left who actually witnessed it firsthand.

It was about 16 years ago, and I was a young rabbi, brand-new to Delaware, on my way to lead a shiva minyan -- a worship service following a death of a Jewish person. I was from California. Back then, I didn’t know Claymont, Delaware from Scranton, Pennsylvania.

A quick bit of background: When someone passes away in the Jewish faith, we observe seven days of mourning, called shiva. We gather a group of ten Jewish adults together -- a minyan -- to say the Mourners’ Kaddish. It usually happens in a person’s home -- somewhere intimate.

In this case, the deceased individual -- her name was Mrs. Greenhouse, of blessed memory -- had not been a person of means. She had lived in rent-controlled senior housing in a tall high-rise building off of Namaans Road. Her apartment had been too small to fit everyone into, so we conducted our worship service in the building’s communal laundry room, in the basement of the high-rise.

We assembled the ten elders together, and it was in this most humble of places that I began to lead the kaddish. Toward the end of the service, a door at the back of the laundry room opened, and who walks in but Senator Joe Biden, his head lowered, all by himself.

I nearly dropped my prayer book in shock.

Senator Biden stood quietly in the back of the room for the duration of the service.

At the close of the kaddish, I walked over to him and asked the same question that must have been on everyone else’s mind: “Senator Biden -- what are you doing here?”

And he said to me: “Listen, back in 1972, when I first ran for Senate, Mrs. Greenhouse gave $18 to my first campaign. Because that’s what she could afford. And every six years, when I’d run for reelection, she’d give another $18. She did it her whole life. I’m here to show my respect and gratitude.”

Now, the number 18 is significant in the Jewish faith -- its numbers spell out the Hebrew word chai, as in “to life, to life, l’chayim!” But it’s also a humble amount. Joe Biden knew that. And he respected that.

There were no news outlets at our service that day -- no Jewish reporters or important dignitaries. Just a few elderly mourners in a basement laundry room.

Joe Biden didn’t come to that service for political gain. He came to that service because he has character. He came to that service because he’s a mensch.

And if we need anything right now when it comes to the leadership of our country -- we need a mensch.

I know this is such a simple, small story. But I tell it to as many people as will listen to me.

Because I think that, in their heart of hearts, when people are trying to think about the decision they’ll make this year -- this is the kind of story that matters.

Joe Biden is a mensch. We need a mensch.

Thanks for reading.

I would hate to see the Trump administration

become a precedent for future administrations, rather than the bizarre anomaly that it is. If we accept this as the new norm-slinging insults, win at all costs, and never give an inch-we will begin to resemble third world countries, where civility and decorum are cast aside to make room for political blood sport.

All the changes that you hope your candidate will accomplish will become faded dreams, not because they weren't feasible or doable, but because the democratic process requires time and reasonable compromise. We did not wake up one day and have Social Security or Medicare as we know them today. It took planning, negotiation, and great political skill to make them a reality.

We need our thinkers and idealists to inspire us to be better, but we also need our capable pragmatists to bring about a tangible version of those ideas. Lofty rhetoric and great ideas are part of the process, but they will only take us so far. Then the politicians have to do the dirty work and produce a real life manifestation of those dreams. Not everyone is going to like the end product, but it is a step forward, opening the way for many more steps.

And we only have to look to this White House

to confirm that.

This is about more than winning an election. The next president is going to have to mend fences worldwide and use diplomacy to win back our friends and allies. No one is going to take a petty, vindictive president seriously.

There are ways to deal with obstructionists and flame throwers in congress, but it needs to be in a statesman like fashion. I don't want another insulting, playground bully president, even if he/she agrees with me. I want my president to act like a president and be an example to my grandchildren.

If the principles and objectives

of the republican party had not been flawed to begin with, it probably wouldn't have morphed into what it is today. For years now, republican politicians have been deceptive and self-serving in their attempt to win at any cost. They did the bidding of powerful special interests, while proclaiming they were the true patriots. They were willing to make false accusations about their opponents of wrong doing that they were often guilty of, all while waving the flag in one hand and the bible in the other.

It is no surprise that such people would devolve into sycophants to a vulgar, corrupt tyrant. They are the kind of people that brutal dictators recruit and use in their quest for power. All their years of self-serving has been turned back against them, revealing who and what they really are. It was only a matter of time.

I guess everyone's experience with Facebook is different

I know some people who have left or have threatened to leave and I do understand why. I've been thinking about why it hasn't affected me the same way. I believe one of the biggest differences is the smartphone. I don't have one, not because I am technology averse, but because at this point in my life, I really have no need for one. Meanwhile, I've watched gatherings of intelligent, personable individuals sitting around staring at their phones when they could be engaged in conversation.

How you use Facebook, what you expect from it, and who you choose to "friend" could affect the overall experience. I accept very few friend requests and I keep my politics primarily in private groups. One is a handful of friends I met at Democratic Underground years ago and another is actually called Democratic Underground. I don't discuss politics in my newsfeed and don't engage with relatives who want to debate politics. I have unfriended or blocked a few friends who's politics I found offensive or racist.

My friends list is well under 100, many are long lost cousins and friends that I would not have found any other way. I have a quote from an Audrey Hepburn movie on my page, "I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else." Reggie Lampert, Charade. Sadly, some of my friends have passed away and their pages have become sort of a memorial to them.

I spend more time as a rule on Flickr than I do on Facebook, but my Vintage Photos in Color page on Facebook gets far more traffic. Even if I chose to quick using Facebook, I wouldn't want to give up that page, as photography is such a big part of my life right now and I've engaged with a diverse group of people, I'd have never met otherwise. That's long story for another time.

I am not defending Facebook. I wish there was a better alternative for people like me or that Facebook were better regulated, but I don't see it ever going away. So in the meantime, I use it very consciously, do a lot of fact checking, correct false narratives when I find them, and keep any personal identifying information minimal. Being it will probably always be there, it would be better to work to change it through legislation and public pressure, at least from my perspective.

Mark Zuckerberg: Why is Facebook still using Kaspersky Lab?

I am familiar with Kaspersky. I remember hearing Rachel talking about him and I saw Richard Engel interview the former KGB student a couple months ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has banned the use of Kaspersky Lab software and the FBI is advising private businesses to discontinue using it. Possibly too little, too late I suppose, considering all that has transpired the past two years.

Today Facebook logged me out, something which has happened on occasion, but this time it would not let me login unless I downloaded the Kaspersky scanner to "clean" my computer. After I screamed "No" to my computer, I did an anti virus scan with my own software. Then I went to Google to see if this was happening to other people as well. It appears this has been happening for over two years, often with very negative consequences, including removing existing anti virus programs.

In order to get into my Facebook account, I had to use my laptop. I am not ready to give up Facebook, as I keep in touch with family and friends there, but I absolutely will not use Kaspersky software on my computer.

Here is the message I received this morning when I tried to login to Facebook:

Let's Check Your Device for Malicious Software

Hi Pat, we're continuously working to keep you account secure. We've noticed that this device may be infected with malicious software. To continue to use Facebook, you can either use other devices or clean this device by downloading the scanner provided by Facebook and Kaspersky Lab.

I did clear my cache and restarted my computer, but still can't get in. Meanwhile, I wonder how much damage has been done throughout the world with this tactic.

New Peer-reviewed Paper's Bold Statement

One of the benchmark moments in the movement for GMO transparency came in 2012 when professor Gilles-Eric Séralini of France and his team published a study showing the toxic, carcinogenic effects of Monsanto’s Roundup and Roundup-Ready corn on lab rats.

The study was retracted, however, amid a firestorm of controversy and questionable ethics surrounding the Biotech industry and its role in getting the paper taken out of the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.

Eventually, Séralini and his study were able to resurface as it was later published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe, a development that was far less covered in the mainstream media than the retraction of the paper, and the controversy surrounding Monsanto’s role in that process as well.

Now, yet another peer-reviewed paper is once again backing the Séralini study and asking deeper questions about what has become of science in an era where commercial and corporate interests are taking an active role in deciding what results should be deemed acceptable.


Science must be defended against commercial interests that attempt to get important papers on GMOs and pesticides retracted rather than encouraging further research to clarify any uncertainties, says an important new peer-reviewed paper published in Environmental Sciences Europe.

The paper, authored by Drs John Fagan, Terje Traavik and Thomas Bøhn, details the events that followed the publication of the research study led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini on GM maize NK603 and Roundup. The Séralini study found toxic effects in rats, notably liver and kidney damage, from NK603 maize and Roundup, both individually and in combination.

The paper was attacked by pro-GMO scientists, who argued that it should be retracted. Eventually the journal editor capitulated and retracted the paper, though it was subsequently republished in Environmental Sciences Europe.

The authors of the new paper comment on this row, lamenting the growth of “a trend in which disputes, between interest groups vying for retraction and republication of papers that report controversial results, overshadow the normal scientific process in which peer-reviewed publication stimulates new research, generating new empirical evidence that drives the evolution of scientific understanding”.


You might want to give this whole "peer-reviewed" meme a break.
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