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Thursday, June 27th 2002

I am not surprised to find that I am in the minority regarding the illegal government instituted, 'under god' version of the pledge of allegiance, but I am crushingly disappointed that our lawmakers are blind to the unconstitutionality of it.

Here are the arguments so far:

Its no big deal to have god mentioned.

If it's no big deal, then take it out and be true to the greatest principals of our country. The truth is that it is exceedingly important issue because it underminds the basic protections and ideas of freedom that this country is meant to stand for. If we abandon our ideals then we have nothing to guide us to greater achievement. We will never reach perfection but we must continue along the path as truly as we are able.

It just says, 'god', it could be any 'god'.

No, it is in reference to the Christian god. Muslims refer to god as Allah, Buddhists have their own spirituality, Hindus have multiple gods, Wiccans have goddesses, agnostics and atheists have no god, etc.

In 'god we trust' is on our money. So it doesn't hurt if its in the pledge of allegiance.

It is also wrong to have it on our money. Our currency use to have our country motto, "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One), which was very carefully selected by our founders. Two wrongs do not make a right.

What difference does it make? Its already been that way for a long time?

It doesn't matter how long it has been unconstitutional, a federal court had the courage to correct the situation but our politicians do not. Because a crime has been committed for years does not make that crime right.

There are more important issues, (we should just keep it as it is).

No. There are few issues as important as the Bill of Rights.

Concern for other issues (corporate avarice, health care and poverty) and constitutional issues are not mutually exclusive. And because one doesn't act on any specific, given issue doesn't mean they should not act at all on another given, specific issue.
Because we can not single handily address every wrong in the world, some people use this as an excuse to do nothing.

The shame of the matter is that the much of the public and our representatives don't clearly see the basic right and wrong of the matter. And because of that, we are now distracted from other pressing issues. It is a shame that our politicians are grand standing on the issue - an issue, that shouldn't be an issue at all, not because it isn't important but because it should be self evident to freedom loving people.

But the majority of people believe in god.

Laws are established to protect the rights of the minority. Everyone has equal rights.

If we love our country, it should not be because of the wars we fought, the geography, the 'people', our flag, or the bald eagle. None of this makes this country truly great. Our greatness comes from the principles that our country was based on.

The well spring of our patriotism should be founded on our constitution, the constitution is perhaps the finest document conceived by man and it is offers us excellence.
And within the constitution the highest principals are towards individual liberty. Chief among those liberties are freedom of speech and freedom to worship (or not worship) as we see fit. Therefore, it should not be law and a measure of freedom to pledge allegiance under (any) god.

I've written my senators and congressman, I encourage you to write yours. This is no small issue, it is of extraordinary importance. Already, some congressmen are threatening to make an amendment that would create a law respecting an establishment of religion by including 'under god' as part of our pledge of allegiance.

Here are links to the Senate and House of Representatives. Feel free to use this letter in whole or in part:


As you will no doubt be feeling the media and political pressure to succumb to a reactionary, unconstitutional actions, I remind you of the bill of rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

If those in congress attempt to create an amendment that would make, "in god we trust" part of the pledge of allegiance and acceptable by the constitution, I trust that you will have the courage to vote against it. History will not forgive you for doing otherwise.

Your Name

Lastly, I encourage you to check out Teddy Carroll's excellent June 27th essay on the matter.

Wednesday, June 26th 2002

Good news today. A federal judge had the courage and intellect to recognize that the present Pledge of Allegiance in schools is unconstitutional.

President Bush called the ruling "ridiculous."

But here now are the facts:

The original pledge of Allegiance (1892) never had a reference to god. It read, "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one nation indivisible, with liberty and Justice for all."

During 1924 the words "the flag of the United States of America" were substituted for "my Flag."

In 1942 the government officially recognizes the Pledge of Allegiance.

During the McCarthy witch-hunt era (1954), it was changed to, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

It was around this same fevered time that "In God we Trust" replaced our countries motto "E Pluribus Unum" (Out of Many, One) on our currency. It was an ironic change if ever there was one.

The first amendment of the Bill of Rights states,

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

If you like the religious freedom you enjoy in this country, you would be wise to find this a good ruling and one that will hopefully be upheld (as it will no doubt be appealed). Because as you have a choice of a religion to your liking, so do others, even if that choice is no religion at all. And as you would not want to be asked to pledge an allegiance to a religion you do not hold to, so it is that we should not ask others to pledge such an allegiance.

From Reuters;

'The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned a 1954 Act of Congress that added "under God" to the pledge, saying the words violated the basic Constitutional tenet of separation of church and state.

"The text of the official Pledge, codified in federal law, impermissibly takes a position with respect to the purely religious question of the existence and identity of God," the court's three judge panel wrote.

"A profession that we are a nation 'under God' is identical ... to a profession that we are a nation 'under Jesus,' a nation 'under Vishnu,' a nation 'under Zeus,' or a nation 'under no god,"' it said.

The court's ruling, the first of its kind in the country, overturned a lower court ruling that dismissed a case against the Pledge brought by the father of a school girl.'

Learn more about separation of church and state.

Tuesday, June 25th 2002

su·per·sti·tion (spr-stshn)

1) An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.

2) A belief, practice, or rite irrationally maintained by ignorance of the laws of nature or by faith in magic or chance.

3) A fearful or abject state of mind resulting from such ignorance or irrationality.

Superstitious people will often defend beliefs in things like psychics and horoscopes as reasonable because they are fun. They will often follow this argument up with an accusation that skeptics aren't 'fun' people and have no imagination.

The irony for me is that my skeptical friends often demonstrate the most imagination and a love of fantasy. My most skeptical friends are artists, film makers, writers and musicians who love role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, movies like 6th sense and activities like a good 'haunted house'.

Almost everyone I know, skeptic or otherwise, reads their fortune cookies from Chinese restaurants. If you chuckle at them and are amused, no harm done. If, however, you start making life decisions based on your fortune cookie, then there is a problem.

It's a serious issue, from the individual who makes any decision on horoscopes, to the credulous individual who submits their health issue to some homeopathic 'therapy', to the president who consults a psychic to create public policy. As humans, are survival has always depended on our ability to reason. If we forego our free will and rational thought then our very survival as a species may one day be in jeopardy, or at least the quality of our lives.

So, by all means, laugh at the horoscope, but believe it at your peril.

Friday, June 21st 2002

At 9:24 am, Eastern Standard Time the summer solstice occurred. The summer solstice is the moment that the sun reaches its highest point in the northern hemisphere, making it the longest day of the year. (Of course in the southern hemisphere it is the winter solstice.)

I love summer.

Wednesday, June 19th 2002

After much rain we are finally due for some beautiful sunny weather here in Pittsburgh.

So on my walk to work today I really enjoyed the beautiful views.

Here is one view from the recently refurbished Smithfield Street Bridge. (The oldest standing bridge in town [1883]).

Pittsburgh from Smithfield Street Bridge

Here is another stunning image I encountered on my walk across the bridge on this beautiful morning.

cigarettes on Smithfield

And unless you think this wonderful sight is just a fluke, here are a couple

.cigarettes and trash on Smithfield:

"An estimated 4.5 trillion non-biodegradable cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. That's billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, beaches, nature trails, gardens, and other public places every single day. In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world."

Read more at Cigarettelitter.org.

Everyday I watch people flick their trash onto the ground (even if they are one foot from a trash can). I've heard people actually state that cigarettes aren't littering. I even heard this comment recently in a state park were we can only imagine the person was there to enjoy some semblance of nature and beauty.

Don't kid yourself. If you flick even a cigarette butt on the ground you are either ignorant, rude or stupid and quite probably some combination of all three. But fear not, the first two are curable! Start by not littering.

Tueday, June 18th 2002

I watched a DVD of the 1951 film The Lost Continent last week.

I can imagine that the movie might have captured my imagination in my youth but in the post Jurassic Park age the few shots of stop motion animated dinosaurs doesn't do much to eliminate the pain of watching over an hour of tedious scenes. Much of the movie was spent on scenes of the protagonists climbing to a lost rocket, past poison gas clouds (that do little but induce one coughing fit), onto a uranium rich plateau. The movie is good for laughs but only if you have your finger over the fast forward button of the remote control.

Lost Continent movie art

Monday June 17th, 2002


Heavy duty road construction has been going on outside my window at work for the last several months. For the last few weeks they've been in the hitting things with other big heavy things phase. Jack hammers are like the sweet sound of song birds compared to the incessant POUND, POUND, POUNDING of the heavy machines. The only compensation is that we get to watch the construction. Men like watching other men build things. It's all the more fun when there are cranes involved. To bad I may have to kill some of the construction workers to make the noise stop.

Construction view from my window


Friday June 14th, 2002

Welcome one and all to the spectacular redesign of the Amazing GlenGreenDotCom!

Hyperbole aside, I've given the old site a new face lift. My thanks to friends and colleagues who helped me through some technical issues (such as the new ASP contact page).

The new design won't set the world on fire but at least I don't feel the need to apologize for the look as much anymore. More than just a new look, I've reworked the site so that it will be easier for me to make changes. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the changes. I expect I won't tire of it for a whole month!
More important than any look, I'm most happy that I've done a reasonable job of posting to the site several times a month.

It is going to take some tedious work to get the old articles and photos switched over but I hope to crack down and get it done soon.

My password functionality is now more robust and will make the site much easier to manage. What does this mean to you? Well, you'll have to contact me for the new username and password. While you are there, let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 6th 2002

Operation Overlord.

On June 6th, 1944, 58 years ago, soldiers from Canada, England, and America with the aid of French resistance stormed the beaches of Normandy on a rainy, overcast day. D-Day.

I've often tried to imagine what it must have been like riding over the ocean to the beach as bombardments rained down around you. Or perhaps worse yet, I've tried the terror of the door to LCC opening as machine gun fire ripped everything in its path to pieces.

Like all wars, there were great injustices and atrocities committed by all sides but the bravery of these men is doubtless and the goals of the Allies on that day were just.

On this rainy day in Pittsburgh, my thoughts and gratitude go out to those men who were very young 58 years ago. I imagine the world that might have been if Hitler and the axis had succeeded. I hope that we are capable of learning lessons from the past. Humanity needs to learn to behave better. Another World War will not be survivable.

Monday, June 3rd 2002

If you've never seen a Cirque du Soleil show, your really owe it to yourself. I've seen three shows (some a few times), "O", "Mystere" and now the traveling show "Quidam" for the second time.

The shows are technically 'romantic circuses' but to me, there is very little that actually smacks of what the average person thinks of when they hear 'circus'. Chief among the differences is that they have no animals, (beside humans). As another example, "O" is played in one theater in Bellagio, Las Vegas and involves a 1.5 million gallon tank of water that serves as the 'stage'.

It is almost hard to believe that the Cirque du Soleil performers are the same species as the rest of us. But of course they are, and they achieve wonders without a fakirs mysticism or a call to some supposed Zen state of mind. The shows are spectacular and remind us that humans can truly reach excellence by and of themselves. I find the shows to be pure art in motion that reminds me that we are still capable of beauty.

I know where I'll be on July 30th. Bruce Springsteen will be releasing his new album (with the E-Street Band), "The Rising". Wahoo!

The final track listing:

1. Lonesome Day
2. Into the Fire
3. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
4. Nothing Man
5. Countin' on a Miracle
6. Empty Sky
7. Worlds Apart
8. Let's Be Friends
9. Further On (Up the Road)
10. The Fuse
11. Mary's Place
12. You're Missing
13. The Rising
14. Paradise
15. My City of Ruins

As Backstreets.com wrote, "Whether you're counting from 1984 (the last full E Street studio effort), 1992 (Springsteen's last studio rock album) or 1995 (Springsteen's last new studio album)... it's been a long time!"

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