The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Adventures in Live Streaming

Lord, I have a lot to learn! Take a look at where we are so far. Join us for the adventure:

Concerned About Our Culture: Will It Survive?

Here's the definition of culture as anthropologists understand it: Most anthropologists would define culture as the shared set of (implicit and explicit) values, ideas, concepts, and rules of behaviour that allow a social group to function and perpetuate itself. Rather than simply the presence or absence of a particular attribute, culture is understood as the dynamic and evolving socially constructed reality that exists in the minds of social group members. It is the ‘normative glue’ [8] that allows group members to communicate and work effectively together. (Here's the source article for this:

Basically, shared ideas, shared values, and shared rules create culture, allowing us all to work together. I have to say, recent experiences on Facebook and Twitter make me worry for our culture. I know myself to be in an information bubble, largely of my own making admittedly. I consume moderate to liberal sources (that admission will probably cost me a few more G+ followers, sigh) out of preference. But I try to keep conservative sources in the loop to keep at least a little in touch with others as I have beloved and respected family and friends who are quite conservative. Cutting to the chase: the other day, I saw posts railing about things I had never heard of (and I'm a news junkie). Their adherents were strongly expressing views that left me flat footed wondering, "What in the world are you talking about? Never heard of this." 

We see this talking past each other every day in our online interactions. We need to find ways to connect, to reestablish shared values, ideas, concepts and rules of behavior while we still can. How about we start with respect and love for each other, for friends and enemies alike. Let's listen to each other, not to argue but to learn, and see if we can rebuild some bridges we've burned. What do you say? Before we descend into violence and civil war. What say you? 


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

N Scale Railroad Tunnel Portals

The two tunnel portals are now complete, shown here with some of the graveled track. This gives some suggestion of what these portals will look like in place. The 1909 portal was created first. They were made from balsa wood, primed, painted and overcoated. There is significance to me to the two dates. That's one of the joys of creating your own railroad, all the little details and sly references you can include.

I may replace these portals later with something more sophisticated. For now, however, these allow me to move forward building the landscape once the track ballast is all in place.

Right now, working on this hobby is a lifeline for me. The news lately has left me enraged.

Victoria DeFrancesco on Trump Administration's "Tender Age Shelters" for...

We, the people of the United States, are now allowing the President to create baby incarceration centers. There are three, soon to be four. This is a moral obscenity. Some of these babies will never be reunited with their parents, who will be deported well in advance of the children. This reckless policy is not keeping track of who belongs with whom and so many families will not be reunited. Call, email, mail congress people and senators. Call, email, write Donald Trump. Demand this policy be brought to an immediate end and families reunited at once. This is pure evil.

For a thoroughly appropriate response to this foul news, see:

Say NO In Dehumanizing

Every time humans bump up against humans who thwart their will, their desires, their goals, humans so thwarted turn to the same playbook. We dehumanize those who stand in our way. We call them animals, monsters, subhuman. We tell toxic tales of how awful they are, how they do not think, feel, believe as we do. From there it is an easy thing to cage, enslave, or kill those who have been dehumanized.

We cannot allow this to happen. We live together in a complicated and ever smaller world. If we are to live together and work together to make this world a better place for all, we can no longer reference this ancient and primitive playbook. We have to update our thinking. My faith tells me all people are children of God, much loved by God, sought after by God to live in a community of love, justice, mercy and faith. I chucked the old playbook when I came to understand and believe God's desire for all humanity.

We start to follow this new path by no longer believing the old stories about the "other." We no longer listen to the snake oil salesmen who tell us other people are subhuman. We place no trust in media outlets that tell us never to listen to another perspective. We place no trust in individuals who claim that only that person can solve all our problems. We refuse to follow a fellow who cannot, ever, admit to being wrong and apologize for errors made, who will never learn from a mistake and be better for it.

We are living in such a time. We must stand up against the tide of dehumanization that has children caged, split from parents with no plan to return them, children held hostage for a wall most of us do not want. We must speak out in favor of God's view of humanity and act. Vote those who feel not all people are people out of office. Vote out those who know better but will not speak for fear of their careers. We need to march, to write our representatives and demand they do better. We need to shout down spineless officials who misuse the Bible to say we must all sit down, shut up, and mindlessly follow corrupt regimes and their immoral policies. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Senator Bob Casey on Separating Children

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the separation of immigrant families by the Trump Administration. I vehemently oppose this policy, and I appreciate hearing from you about this issue.

I have heard from many Pennsylvanians who are opposed to the Trump Administration’s policy regarding the apprehension and detention of immigrant families upon their arrival in the U.S. On May 7, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a so-called “zero tolerance” policy toward individuals apprehended crossing the U.S. border between official ports of entry. Through this policy, border officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are told to refer every individual apprehended near the border who did not present at an official port of entry to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution for illegal entry or illegal re-entry. Furthermore, the Trump Administration has made clear these referrals for prosecution may include individuals seeking asylum. This also means that adults traveling with children will be separated. Although the policy focuses on prosecution, it is clearly a de facto family separation policy.

Hundreds of immigrant children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border since October of 2017, and this policy is causing a steep increase in family separations. Once families are separated, adults will go to the custody of the U.S. Marshals and/or to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Children considered “unaccompanied,” either because they arrived alone or because they are separated from their parents, are transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is often impossible for children and parents to find each other and to reunite, even when one is deported.

I am opposed to the arbitrary separation of parents and children. Not only is tearing families apart unconscionable on a moral level, it is also damaging to the development of children. Studies show that the separation of children from parental figures during their youth and adolescence is detrimental to the child’s development of social and cognitive skills. Trump Administration officials, including Attorney General Sessions, have stated that this proposal is intended to deter families from crossing the border into the U.S. I believe this policy is inhumane and intentionally cruel, and there is no evidence to support the assertion that it would act as a deterrent. 

I am proud to have joined with many of my Senate colleagues in the minority in cosponsoring legislation that would end this practice and in sending letters to the Trump Administration urging it to end this inhumane practice immediately.Before the policy of family separation was officially announced by the Trump Administration, I sent two letters to DHS asking for more information about rumors of family separation practices and demanding that DHS refrain from implementing such a policy. The first letter, which I signed in February of 2018, was also signed by 32 of my Senate colleagues and condemned the potential proposal to systematically separate families crossing the U.S. border. The letter asked DHS to unequivocally reject this measure. In addition, in March of 2018,sent a letter to John Kelly, in his role as Acting Inspector General of DHS, asking him to investigate reports at the time that DHS was separating the children of asylum-seekers from their parents. This letter was signed by 23 of my Senate colleagues and asked the Inspector General’s office to open an investigation into whether DHS was separating children of asylum-seekers from their parents and to investigate other questions about the status of children who had been separated from their parents.

After Attorney General Sessions announced in early April the new Trump Administration immigration policy, I sent a letter in early June along with 39 of my Senate colleagues to President Trump demanding that his administration end the abhorrent policy of separating immigrant children from their parents. This letter cites research describing the short-term and long-term harm these traumatic separations can do to children and their families and repeatedly asks President Trump to end his practice of family separation. 

Additionally, I have cosponsored two bills in the Senate that would expand the rights of children whose families are affected by immigration enforcement proceedings. The first bill, S. 2937, the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act, aims to protect children affected by immigration enforcement actions taken against their parents. Through this bill, if a parent is having immigration enforcement actions taken against them, the parent would first be allowed to make calls to arrange for the care of their children and ensure that children can call and visit their parents while they are detained. It also allows parents to participate in family court proceedings affecting their children, ensures that parents can coordinate their departures with their children and requires ICE to consider the best interests of children during detention, release and transfer decisions affecting their parents. These protections will provide some small peace of mind for parents and children as they go through immigration proceedings. 

Furthermore, I am a proud cosponsor of S. 3036, the Keep Families Together Act. This bill is a direct counter to the Trump Administration’s policy of family separation. It prohibits DHS officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances. In these limited circumstances, separation could not occur unless parental rights have been terminated, a child welfare agency has issued a best interest determination or the Port Director or the Chief Border Patrol agent of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) hasapproved separation due to trafficking indicators or other concerns of risk to the child. In addition, this legislation establishes a preference for family unity, discourages the separation of siblings and creates a presumption that detention is not in the best interests of families and children. The bill also requires DHS to develop policies and procedures allowing parents and children to locate each other and reunite if they have been separated. 

The Trump Administration’s systematic and blanket policy of family separation is inhumane and is inflicting trauma every day on children, parents and families. I am vehemently opposed to the arbitrary separation of immigrant children from their parents. I have been vocal in my opposition to the policy and will continue to speak out against this practice and hold the Trump Administration accountable for its cruelty. President Trump has the ability to end this cruel practice immediately, and I will not stop demanding an end to this practice until he does so.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or any other matter of importance to you.

For more information on this or other issues, I encourage you to visit my website, . I hope you will find this online office a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Bob Casey
United States Senator

Weather Channel App with Watson

I don't know if this has happened to anyone else, but once my Weather Channel App updated and declared itself powered by IBM's Watson, it's personality changed. It is far more declarative now. I received a message from it shortly after the morning update that had Watson decreeing in the most certain terms that rain would start falling at 8:08 a.m. in my area. Does that seem to be a wee bit too precise to anyone else? Later in the day, The Weather Channel app firmly stated that rain again would fall at 2:02 p.m. It was like having Star Trek TOS's Mr. Spock giving you the time or your odds on some adventure. I'm not complaining, mind you. But it is startling.

Welcome to Summer Carnival Season 2018

Took me back to all sorts of carnivals when the kids were small.
I'll admit it. I have always been a sucker for the brightly colored lights of a carnival at night. So, for Father's Day, the family indulged me and off we went to the local carnival. The lights did not disappoint ... but the lack of bumper cars was disturbing to me.

Should a kiddie ride character look quite this ambivalent?

Williams Deluxe Cabins Construction June 2018

Eastern most edge of construction.
I have been keeping track of the work on the Williams Deluxe Cabins, long left to rot beside Lincoln Highway in Exton, PA. The building work continues, with a new single room structure with two doors added beside what was once the gas station and office for the cabins. We have to wait and see what the fate of that final structure will be. Since the rest of the cabins were torn down and built anew in the style of the Deluxe Cabins of years gone by, I'm assuming that will be the fate of the office and gas station. I wonder if they will put a retro gas station in its place to resemble the original or not.

My wife took the pictures as we drove along the highway heading east to west. With these photos you get a good look at the continuing construction and the three homes where the work first began.
Moving west, seeing most of the newly constructed cabins

Newest small structure up front.
Better view of the newest structure behind the remains
of an old sign

Will the office & gas station stay or go?
Far western edge of the Williams Deluxe Cabins property
For more on this ongoing project, see this post & links:

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father’s Day 2018

Happy Father’s Day to all the good and loving dads out there and to all the loving souls who have stepped in to fulfill that role for someone in need. Take a moment to enjoy the day ... by yourself, with family, with friends ...