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Monday, June 18, 2012

Fathers day picnic

We had a big picnic to celebrate Fathers Day for my grandfather who is almost 91. Lots of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all came out for the nice weather and lots of food (yes, we snuck in a vegan cake on them...shhhh). It was great fun to see everyone again after all this time!

Flying through the air

On our way to see the Amish area in Pennsylvania we passed a race track of sorts. The dust caught my attention but the cars flying 8 feet off the tabletop jump made me stop the car. Have you ever seen anything like this? Some of these drivers were quite good considering they have to steer from platform and the cars twist and turn and jump in all different directions.

Washington DC

What trip to Maryland would be complete without a stop at the Capitol? We've been there before the 9/11 rules went into place and toured the inner workings in detail. This time we stuck to looking at things from the outside for the most part and saw parks and monuments we've never seen before. We saw the MLK memorial, the FDR memorial, the White House, the Congress (the house was in session--note the flag flying over the house side of congress), several of the statues (Grant, etc.) along with a quick tour of the Smithsonian Vistor's Center. Did you know that Mr. James Smithsonian was English and never once set foot in America? He gave his entire estate to the US valued at $500,000 or 1/66 of the US budget at the time. Quite a legacy he started.

Cape May New Jersey

We spent a few great days in Cape May.  An old sea captain town where these captains built fancy homes with their new found wealth.  It's a town full of history and beautiful beaches.

Baltimore Sailabration

Here's a slide show of the Sailabration!  We got a chance to tour ships from all the countries that we have sailed: Indonesia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, USA. It was quite a show down on at the harbour and tons of people came out to see the boats.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

All things controversial

While on the boat we see a lot of documentaries which helps keep us informed on the bigger issues going on in the world and the US. We've seen some good PBS programs as well and they are all viewable on-line. So I thought I would post a "collage of controversies" that contain the most thought provoking material. They run the full spectrum of all things you don't talk about at dinner parties: politics, taxes, religion, and now health care.

Wiki Leaks Decrypted Video (April 2010)
In 2007 when a Reuter's photographer's camera is mistaken for an RPG, the military responded in a cold video game like fashion killing 11 people (including 2 journalists). If the initial attack wasn't bad enough, a family on their way to school saw an injured man and tried to help him into the car to take him to the hospital when the helicopters opened fire on them as well injuring 2 young girls in the car. This video is hard to watch for multiple reasons and frustrating because of all the cover-up lies told by the military prior to this video being leaked to the public in 2010 that showed how the event really unfolded.

As a side video, Frontline's 2011 episode, Kill/Capture explores America's duality of winning them over vs killing and capturing. Warning: The cultural barriers in this video are stomach turning.

The Warning (Oct. 20, 2009)
Long before the crisis of 2008, one woman in the CFTC fought to warn and stop the secret over-the-counter derivatives practices that broke our economy. Her efforts ruined her career and the CFTC was legally barred from regulating derivatives by the millionaires & billionaires pulling the strings. Her story and the players involved are fascinating (follow up this documentary with the movie Inside Job).

Sick Around America (March 31, 2009)
The number one cause of bankruptcy in the US is from medical costs and over 50% of those bankruptcy victims were insured. This program looks at health care issues around the US. As people who are disqualified from insurance in the US due to pre-existing conditions we get it, but many people who have never had to deal with the cracks in the system this might help you understand:

Sick Around the World (April 15, 2008)
Lean about the health care systems of England, Germany, Japan and Tawian in comparison to the US Health Care systems. A must watch for those who don't like the latest attempts at health care reform.

The Mormons (April 30, 2007)
With Mitt Romney in the spotlight there's no time like the present to learn about one of the richest and fastest growing religions in the world. With 14 million takers, they equal the number of Jews in the world and are establishing them as the 4th Abrahamic Religion and are referred to in religious scholarly circles as the “American Religion”.

Private Warriors (2005)
America is moving more and more towards hired guns. Spending well over $11 billion (2002-2005) on private companies who don't have to follow the rules of war or lawful oversight. This growing industry of outsourced killing with little or no accountability is a disturbing trend. But learn about the situation and decide for yourself from the people involved:

Is WalMart Good for America? (Nov. 16, 2004)
Job loss or job creation? Small business destroyer or improving quality of life for poor? An in depth look at the largest employer in the world might give you some food for thought.

The Secret History of the Credit Card (Nov. 13, 2004)
Thought you knew all you needed to know about the plastic in your pocket? Think again.