Thursday, January 21, 2010

'Scuse Me: Is That a Bomb You're Wearing
Or Just a Prayer Box?

Oh dear. Just when you thought it was safe to get back on the plane...

Let's not delude ourselves into thinking that common sense will ever hold sway over any religion or religious belief. Christians have Pat Robertson and his deals with the devil, Muslims have fanatics who are hijacking the religion itself, and now the Jews have prayer boxes that look like little bombs strapped to their heads and arms. Jesus!

And to think we are debating whether to profile passengers in the never ending quest for airline safety during this "war on terror".

I refer to the story today about a 17 year old Jewish passenger who was reported to have "inadvertently" created a bomb scare on board a US Airways flight from New York to Louisville on Thursday, January 21, 2010. An alarmed passenger alerted the crew and the plane was diverted to Philadelphia. If you're interested read the story on Yahoo's The Buzz Log, January 21, 2010. (link:

In short, the young Orthodox Jew was wearing said prayer boxes (pictured above) called a "tefillin" in Hebrew, or a "phylactery" in Greek. And no, "phylactery" isn't the name of a dinosaur, although in my not so humble opinion, some religious beliefs in ALL religions are dinosaurs.

Now one should assume that airport security in New York would have diligently inspected the strapped-on contraption and determined, as was determined in Philly after inconveniencing a few hundred passengers and airline/airport staff members, that the tefillin was not a bomb.

However, we shouldn't be too hasty. If there are bombs that look like shoes, and airport security can't identify them as bombs, then what makes us think that airport security could determine that a prayer box that looks like a bomb, isn't a bomb? Maybe security simply thought that NO ONE would be bold enough to actually wear a bomb in plain sight, so they just let the young man go through without inspection.

Or maybe they DID inspect the tefillin and let the youth go through without, you know, informing the airline crew that the bomb-looking thingy strapped to a young Hebrew man wasn't actually a bomb.

But that would have required common sense on the part of airport security.

Rabbi Benjamin Blech, assistant professor of Talmud At Yeshiva University in New York told the Associated Press that the incident was a "...wake-up call for religious sensitivity." Here we go again with the drunken diversity and sensitivity nonsense I wrote about November 30, 2009 in my essay "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Mosque."

"We should," he stated, "be aware of ignorance just as much as we should be aware of terrorism."

NO. We should be much more aware of terrorism than we are of terrorism! By his logic of religious "sensitivity", we should be sensitive to shoe and underwear bombers for their religious beliefs. Sensitivity is a two way street, Rabbi.

Will this mental feast of diversity and sensitivity never stop?

Come on everyone! Let's just use some common sense from now on, religious beliefs notwithstanding. Is it too much to ask that if you can't tell bomb jokes at an airport ("Hi, Jack!!!") then you should refrain for an hour and a half flight from wearing anything that resembles a bomb?

Next time you fly, SAY your prayers: Don't strap them in black boxes on your head and arms!

Rick B. Baker
January 21, 2010
Rochester, NY

© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What A Crotch...Err, Crock

Let's set this part of the record straight right off the bat:  I was not a supporter of Barack Hussein Obama, nor am I currently a supporter of the Obama administration. 

But let's be fair where fair is due.  I suppose this photo has been circulating by email and on blogs and websites since early November, but it just crossed my tiny little space of internet lala land.  It has popularly been titled "The Crotch Salute".  I've seen a couple of different captions attached to this photo, but the upshot is that the captions state that President Obama was not saluting or placing his hand over his heart while the national anthem played on November 11, 2009 during a memorial for those killed in the Ft. Hood terrorist shooting. 

That is a lie. 

This photo was taken during the Memorial Day service on May 25, 2009, in Washington, DC. President Obama had just walked onto the stage during the playing of "Hail To The Chief", and stepped into line as the song finished.  It's that simple. 

Here is a link for the C-Span video of the event:
Or go to C-Span and search the video link tab:

I don't care two craps for Republicans OR Democrats.  I think they're all a bunch of scoundrels, liars, egomaniacs, and some are outright criminals.  But if any individual, group, organization, or political party wants to stop the rapid socialization of this country, as well as the stripping of our constitutional rights, then actions, words, and images MUST be based in fact and on truth. 

Republicans:  You will not win elections by wallowing in lies and then circulating them through all forms of media. 

Democrats:  You will not maintain your control over the Executive and Legislative branches of government by wallowing in lies and then circulating them through all forms of media.  

Citizens and voters:  You will not regain control of our Constitution and Bill of Rights if you fall for every P.T. Barnum side show no matter how convincing the carnival barker may be.

Those of us who read all of this stuff online must carefully exercise due diligence before we hit the delete buttons of credibility.  We should all develop better habits of researching what we read, before we absolutely believe. 

If we don't at least attempt to find credibility in these stories, then we will all be left standing around scratching our crotches.  

Rick B. Baker
January 13, 2010
Rochester, NY 

© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 


Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Art Of Health Care

Sometimes when and where you least expect it, answers to our most complicated questions are revealed and we are left to wonder why we didn't think of them sooner.

For the Obama administration and all of our "elected" legislators, the plan for our so-called national health care issue has been found in Italy.  

The Italians, (who have not been able to maintain a stable government in decades, if ever) just might be able to provide the United States, (where a stable government can't seem to find and maintain answers to fairly direct issues), guidance for dealing with our national health care dilemma.  
Sicilian professor of pathological anatomy, Vito Franco of the University of Palermo, is a medical expert in the "study of famous subjects of Renaissance artworks", according to a story by Jeff Israely on, January 9, 2010.  Professor Franco studies the characters in famous master paintings and presented his conclusions of their illnesses at a congress on human pathology last fall in Florence, Italy.  

Professor Franco has concluded that Mona Lisa suffered from xanthelasma, which is the accumulation of cholesterol under the skin. Who knew?  From the painting he determined that she had a fatty tissue tumor called lipoma on her right hand.  And that diagnosis without x-ray! 

Think of all the money the health care industry could save with more "medical experts" like the good Professor Franco.  Imagine the savings workers could enjoy with lower insurance costs. Corporations could save millions (billions?) of dollars each year on 
coverage for workers. All it would require is a canvas, a brush, oil paints, a trained eye and good glasses! 

Now if Professor Franco could only tell us how to diagnose a bloated bureaucracy.

Rick B. Baker 
January 10, 2010
Rochester, NY 

© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker
Bottom painting:  "Mona Lisa at 12" by Fernando Botero, 1978

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Can You Remember Me Now??
I'm beginning to wonder if there are any real scientists left, or any real scientific studies being conducted in the world today.  I think back on studies I've heard about over the past 20 years or so that were reported in the press then never heard about again:  A Scandinavian study suggesting that human breast milk was killing cancer cells in lab rats.  Chili pepper juice made into a cream that was supposedly killing skin cancer cells.  Bee venom therapy for MS sufferers. All reported, yet never heard about again.  

And today the latest "unusual" scientific story was reported by Stephen Nohlgren in the St. Petersburg Times about a new study conducted by Professor Gary Arendash at the University of South Florida suggesting that cell phone radiation appeared to "cure" or at least mitigate dementia in "Alzheimer's mice".  Something to do with these little radiated rodents having fewer of the sticky protein lumps in their brains associated with Alzheimer's disease. 

Now I'm all for anything that will cure cancer, MS, Alzheimer's and any other horrible disease. But sometimes I have to wonder.  I mean isn't the scientific world and the general cell phone using public still studying, debating, and generally fretting over cell phone radiation causing brain cancer?  One group says it does, another says it doesn't.
I suppose it all depends on who is lobbying and paying for what. Basically, we're all left to wonder who to believe about anything and everything we read, whether it's health care, politics, global warming, or any other subject.  

Ultimately, all these issues are about politics.  But let's not get into that now.  I'm just somewhat amused today about rats, Alzheimer's, and cell phones.  Even more amusing, good 'ol fair and balanced Fox News had a pretty blond bimbette interviewing Professor Arendash about his findings which were published Wednesday in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.  Near the end of her interview she asked Professor Arendash, with a nearly straight face if we should all think about strapping cell phones to our heads!  Yep!  She sounded almost serious!  Of course he gave a stifled laugh and said "no".  But still.  She did ask.  

So, I just can't help but shake my head in wonderment and amusement. Science:  Global warming scientists (politicians) are measuring temperatures and sea levels in tenths of degrees and inches and forecasting the climate 50 years into the future, but the National Weather Service has complained recently to the government that they are underfunded, and  cannot acquire the updated equipment needed to hopefully give an accurate 3-day forecast.
And now one group of scientists think that cell phone radiation could cure Alzheimer's disease, while others believe it will cause brain cancer.  

I'd strap a phone to my head, but think it might be safer to hold it further away from my ear. But imagine, if you will, further research finally determining that cell phone radiation actually does  prevent or cure Alzheimer's.  I can almost hear the advertising from Verizon:  "Can you remember me now??" 

Rick B. Baker 
Rochester, NY
January 7, 2010 

© 2010 by R. Burnett Baker 
Rat with cell phone sculpture by graffiti artist Bansky.
Xray photo borrowed from
Hands free cell phone photo from