Dogs – Barkers and Neighbors

The ‘barkers’ never get the idea that I’m a friendly neighbor.

Mostly, my neighbors’ dogs have gotten used to my presence. In one case, for instance, I lived in an apartment where I shared a landing with a neighbor. I had to pass her door every time that I entered and left my apartment.

I wasn’t surprised that her dog barked as I climbed the stairway up to the landing when she first moved in.

Soon enough, though, this dog recognized my footfalls, not to mention my smell. It would still run to the door to check out what was going on, but it didn’t bark.

If this dog had had any doubt whether I was friend or foe, I greeted my neighbor with a friendly “Hi” and a friendly face.

Contrast this with a ‘barker’. The driveway of the family home abutted our neighbor’s driveway. Nearby, starting at the end of the driveway, my new neighbor had three dogs. (That’s a story by itself.)

I hadn’t yet learned the lesson of this post – that some dogs never stop greeting a neighbor with barking.

I had some friendly conversations with my new neighbor, visible to the dogs. In order to stop the barking, I naively asked my neighbor if she minded whether I bring over some dog biscuit crumbs to share with the dogs through their chain link fence. She told me that it was fine.

The dogs got used to the idea that I might have some biscuits. Two of them were well trained. They eagerly sat down. Sometimes, I gave them nothing, though; sometimes some biscuit crumbs. Regardless they didn’t bark.

The ‘barker’ never stopped barking – whether I fed him or not. He was actually so high-strung that try as he would, he couldn’t really sit. He’d lower his rear end, and then up it would pop.

Where I live now, I pass a neighbor’s doorway on my way to a laundry room. His/her ‘barker’ still won’t stop barking at me. At times, this dog even barks when hearing the building’s front door open.

It looks like I have a ‘barker’ as a non-neighbor.

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Return Envelopes

Until recently, return envelopes in bills,* for instance, have been inserted in mailings with the flaps turned forward.

Not an especially big deal.

I take out a bill and want to replace it in the mailing that I received, but the flap gets in the way.

This should be the worse thing that ever happens to anyone.

Then all of a sudden, I received a few bills from the same businesses, and the return envelope has been inserted turned around in a sensible way.

What happened?

Is the Vast Eternal Plan changing?


  • bills in the mail – Why not? I often pay them electronically, but I like the offline paper copy. Among other things, the paper copies remind me to enter the electronic debits into the register of my checking account. If I were a rich man, perhaps I wouldn’t bother to balance my checkbook.
  • Actually, I am a “rich man.” My riches include children and grandchildren who live practically around the corner, good health (for my age, having reached the milestone of 64 years old as I write this), and on and on.

A dialogue line that could have been

In Plain Sight – TV Series (2008–2012)

In an early episode – perhaps even in the pilot – U.S. Marshall Mary Shannon wants to relax next to her pool. She has tried to leave behind her boorish, hick background, but her mooching mother and sister have run away from a jammed-up situation to stay with her “awhile.”

Mary tries to be the adult in a relationship with a mother who has never grown up. Mary’s negotiating with Jinx (her mother) develops into a noisy squabble.

Jinx realizes that neighbors might hear their raised voices, and their poor behavior may reflect badly on them.

“Shhh.” Jinx tries to lower the noise level – which is really her own noise level.

“People will think that we’re trailer trash,” Jinx squawks.

Mary’s rejoinder is lame. The writers were having a bad day.

Mary’s telling response could have been, “But Mom, we are trailer trash.”

Sirius – the Star

Recently, I was awake before sunrise, and I spotted the constellation Orion in the southeast just before sunrise. This was at Kansas City’s Kosher Barbecue Competition and Festival, Sunday, August 21, 2016.

Follow Orion’s belt Earthward and you see the star Sirius, apparently the brightest star in the sky (in the Northern hemisphere, at least, where I am).

The constellation Orion has been “behind” the Sun until recently. Before that, it was blotted out by the daytime sky. Even Sirius is too faint to be seen (with the naked eye, at least) during daytime.

Sirius skims the horizon. It’s not part of a zodiacal constellation as Orion is. Sirius is not in the path of the Moon or the planets, for example.

I noticed the distinctive Orion and located Sirius by 5:45 AM Daylight Time. Sirius was in an east-southeast direction while the sun was rising in the northeast. Sirius was visible until 6:15 AM or so. By that time, the sky was too bright for the naked eye to detect Sirius. The sun actually rose at about 6:38 AM.

When I first noticed Sirius, is was about a handbreadth above the horizon but finally reached about another handbreadth higher.

Who cares? What difference does it make?

Besides interesting me – a star that is easily seen and that skims the horizon – the first sighting of Sirius marked the beginning of the ancient Egyptian year. Sirius first reappears from “behind” the sun during the inundation season of the Nile River. In the near future, the Nile’s waters recede from having flooded Egypt’s agricultural land, and have deposited fresh silt. Egyptian agriculture begins again.

This fresh silt is the source of Egypt’s agricultural fertility. Egyptians harvested at least two crops during the growing season. With irrigation from the Nile, they often harvested a third crop. Egypt had been the breadbasket of the region. Egyptians regularly exported surplus wheat.

Awake, O Egypt, awake.

The Oslo Accord

Doesn’t anyone remember the Oslo Accord of 1995 (known as Oslo II)?

The State of Israel signed a treaty with the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinians. Palestinians had officially decided that only Yasser Arafat and his Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) were authorized to negotiate on their behalf.

Both sides to the treaty signed, with several nations adding their authorized signatures as witnesses. The signing ceremony was televised and received plenty of air-time.

Israel’s military occupation remains intact on land that was designated Area C. Area C’s status has remained virtually the same as it had been since the Six-Day War in 1967.

The Oslo process since 1995 has failed, though. Nevertheless, the Oslo Accord of 1995 is the law of the region.

There has ceased to be a “Green Line” except in terms of defining the extent of the Accord. The Green Line had been the cease-fire line between Jordan’s military, the Arab Legion, and the State of Israel. Since the Oslo Accord, the Kingdom of Jordan signed a treaty with Israel and thereby renounced its illegal annexation of the West Bank (after 1949). Jordan has committed itself not to violate its international border by sending troops across this border.

Since its treaty with Israel, Jordan has conducted itself according to international law.

When Israel builds security barriers, it builds them within Area C where its military makes security decisions in accordance with the Oslo Accord.

Plaintiffs have brought a few cases before Israel’s High Court of Justice. This court has consistently ruled that the principle behind the security barriers is legal. On a couple of occasions, this court has elaborated stipulations that barriers not create undue or unnecessary hardships for Palestinians.

A couple of rulings of Israel’s High Court of Justice have ordered Israel’s military to develop plans for relocating a barrier according to the court’s stipulations. The court has exercised its authority to examine and approve the revised plans.

Palestinians still don’t recognize the legitimacy of the designation Area C. It is, according to them, “their land” even before any future negotiations with Israel.

The international community, especially the United Nations, have blithely ignored articles in the Oslo Accord. When Israel tears down new Palestinian construction, this construction is in Area C.

A popular refrain from Palestinians has been how hard it is for them to get building permits. This is not surprising since they have no standing to receive permits to build  anything in Area C at all.

Most journalists are blissfully ignorant of law when they cover issues, wherever in the world an issue arises. Even Israelis who receive information from domestic journalistic sources seem to remain ignorant of the terms of the Oslo Accord.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “there are lies, damn lies, and journalism.”

Reading Books about Physics

It’s not unusual for me to go through a phase of reading about the particles and forces that make up our universe.

I have one measure to prejudge the author’s content, though. Is there an entry in the index for ‘plasma’?

Plasma is a state of matter just as solid, liquid, and gas are. At high energies, atoms lose some coherence and separate into positive and negative ions. Freed electrons and negatively charged particles can flow like electricity.

In our experience, electricity flows through wires. The flows in the plasma state resemble descriptions of liquid flows. For us, the most common flow of a liquid is flowing water.

Apparently, there is an affinity between studying fluid dynamics and studying plasma physics.

I’ve written the previous three paragraphs as a layperson who has some understanding but plenty of misunderstanding about the subject. Be that as it may –

About 98% of the universe exists in the plasma state.

Nevertheless, authors of popular works about physics often fail to mention the subject of plasma altogether. I take a look at the index of such books and regularly find an entry for ‘Planck’ followed by an entry for ‘Plato’ or ‘Pluto’. What this tells me is that the author is married to an orthodoxy.

“The primary force in the universe is gravity.” Really? Perhaps electromagnetism is as important if not more important.

Granted that us Earth-bound creatures a very aware of gravity. Granted that the human race had little knowledge about electricity until fairly recently. Certainly, using electricity was not part of the human toolkit until recently.

I expect more from physicists. Their orthodoxy is earth-bound where gravity prevails – unless a lightning storm is passing through.

I look forward to a time when earth-bound physics is as outmoded and quaint as saying scientifically that the Earth is the center of our solar system or not.


Geocentricism is a tenet of the Torah, of religious revelation. According to the theory of relativity, though, no scientific verification exists to determine if one body is stationary and another is moving, or vice versa, or that both are moving.

We’ve seen this before

In the last months of the U.S. President’s last term in office, he wants to leave a legacy of having negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (June 27, 2016, in Italy). They discussed a range of issues including efforts to advance a two state solution, Syria, and developments in the region.

Of course, Mr. Netanyahu would want to discuss events in Syria and “developments in the region” – whatever this refers to.

As for a “two state solution” – that boat sailed about ten years ago.

Jews evacuated Gaza during August and September 2005. This was an Israeli disengagement – Gaza was no longer occupied by the Israeli military.

Gazans regularly had been firing Qassam rockets before the Israeli withdrawal, and the frequency of Qassam attacks increased after the withdrawal.

Neither the U.S. or the UN paid attention to how each rocket was a violation of Israel’s sovereignty. I’m not researching the details of other violations such as tunnels and incursions by terrorist troops.

Israel attacked Gaza with full force several times since 2005 between periods of patience over Gaza’s aggression.

On what basis does Gaza deserve to be a nation state?

Now let’s examine the possibility of a pluralistic Palestinian state. Just as Israel has Arab citizens, a pluralistic Palestine would have Jewish citizens.

This is unimaginable for Palestinians. Jews must go.

What this amounts to is an evacuation of 100-120 Jewish villages (called settlements) whose combined population was about 104,000 (as of 2011). We see that the average population of each village is about 1,000 Jews.

Israel on its part has no intention of evacuating the handful of cities along the east side of the 1949 cease-fire line. The Camp David negotiations proposed that these cities or blocs of towns would become part of Israel, be annexed. Since then, no diplomatic proposals have considered anything other than annexing these urban regions to Israel. The population of these blocs of cities is about an additional 148,000 (as of 2010).

The idea of a Palestinian state – the two state solution – was never a proposal for peace. It has been a resolve by Palestinians to reverse time, moving back almost 50 years. Each American president knew this or should have understood this.

In the last months of President Obama’s last term in office, it seems that he wants to leave a legacy of having negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In the last months of President Clinton’s last term in office, he wanted to leave a legacy of having negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. That was the abortive Camp David Summit of July 2000 – an effort to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

For some reason, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel agreed to attend this summit. What was he thinking?

Now, 16 years later, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

What are Mr. Kerry and PM Netanyahu thinking? A new president will be elected in a little more than four months from the time of the Kerry-Netanyahu talks (as I write this).

In a little more than four months from now, Mr. Kerry will be transitioning the State Department for a new administration.

Every Representative in Congress faces an election except for the few who have chosen not to run for reelection.

One third of the Senators face an election except for the few who have chosen not to run.

For Mr. Clinton, in his time, the summer until the election and then the period before the inauguration the next winter were his play time.

President Obama hasn’t been much of a player, and he and Mr. Netanyahu don’t play well together. But, Secretary of State John Kerry discussed efforts to advance a two state solution.

Haven’t we been here before?