Monday, January 30, 2012

Occupy DC: no confrontation with Park Police yet, and some people comply; protesters fear action at night; UPDATE: Park raided early Sat. AM

Today, I arrived “late” (because of Metro problems) to witness a possible confrontation between Occupy DC and Park Police at McPherson Square, but found nothing going on. The protesters had draped a large "Tent of Dreams" around the central statue (of Gen. McPherson), underneath which were some other little tents, making a kind of synecdoche.  A few tents did have the “illegal” sleeping bags. 

I spoke to one young man, who said he knew someone sleeping there and who feared the police would come back at night, after the media stations and particularly the bloggers with cameras were gone.  The police don’t seem to want videos of their actions to go viral.

One young woman had a laptop and sound equipment to play music. 

Other media report that cooking facilities have been removed. Occupants would have to depend on volunteers to bring them food and put them up.

I also walked down to Freedom Plaza, and it seemed more people were still “living there”.

I liked the “Gandhi’s list of sins”, including “wealth without work” and “knowledge without character”, and a couple others, “science without humanity” and “worship without sacrifice”, the later reminding me of the Israelites while Moses was on the mountain.

There was some bad grammar (“Who’s tent?!” should be “whose tent?!”; the symbol  “?!” means “dubious move” in chess annotations).

It sounds like things got ugly in Oakland, CA.  There is plenty of indignation. 
I even saw a new word coined, "volunteeritory".
A federal judged ruled Jan. 31 that protesters have an opportunity to appeal evictions, WJLA story here.  On Wednesday Park Police were checking tents to make sure no one was sleeping in them.

Update: Saturday, Feb. 4

US Park Police raided the McPherson Square Occupy encampment before dawn Saturday and removed hardware associated with sleeping and cooking.  Many streets around the encampment are closed or barricade. A few people were arrested.  Station WJLA has this story. According to NBC Washington, the "tent of dreams" tarp has been removed, story

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fairfax County VA restores some honors classes for high school humanities

Fairfax County Public Schools is returning Honors course in some English and social studies classes in 11th and 12th classes, with curricula in a middle ground between regular and AP or IB classes.

View more videos at:

When I was subbing, honors classes were common in ninth and tenth grades. Honors chemistry was taught in tenth grade and the course was quite well conceived.  Examinations, while multiple choice, required the student to give a reason for his or her answer.  The work I saw was impressive, better than when I was in high school 1958-1961. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

"The Sub" winds up in kid's photo sleeping in class, but kid gets suspended

On AOL-Huffington’s “wake-up call”, there is a video story of a student getting suspended for taking a cell phone picture of a substitute teacher sleeping in class.

The location of the "Wake-Up call" video is here. (It's also called "Morning Rush".) Oddly, it offered embed code but then was blocked from direct viewing on Blogger.  I've never seen that before.

The picture wound up on Facebook.  The student had violated a policy against using cell phones on school property for non-emergency reasons.  (Isn’t a teacher’s sleeping an emergency?)

The school was going to take action to blacklist “The Sub”.   They call it “do not send” or “do not use” and maybe, “fired”. (See my main blog, July 25, 2007.)

Many sub assignments the lesson plans just call for classwork.  (In ninth grade algebra back in 1958, a “classwork” was a ten-problem quiz, particularly when it came to polynomial factoring.  These days, a favorite for English teachers is the “reading quiz” [on the night’s homework on “Lord of the Flies”] or a video worksheet [particularly if they watch “To Kill a Mockingbird”].)   Actually, novelists should learn to write reading quizzes on their own work. It’s a good way to check for loose ends.  The same goes for screenplay submissions – write a “video worksheet” before submitting it to an agent. 

Here's a YouTube video by "ApplePi", "Tips for Substitute Teachers".

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wall Street Journal on Obama's surtax on millionaires -- WSJ makes sense today (as it usually does)

The Wall Street Journal Thursday takes up President Obama on his proposal that “anyone earning more than $1 million pay at least 30% of that income to Uncle Barack”, in a leading editorial called “The Buffett Ruse”, link here, page A16 in print.

By the way, I’ll add that I found a complimentary WSJ on my lawn this morning at reveille, double wrapped in unwanted plastic bags. I am a digital subscriber to get around the paywall (it’s not that expensive).

Of course, taken literally, “Mr. President” (‘s) words don’t compute.  If someone makes exactly $1 million in taxable income, does his rate suddenly jump on the entire amount? Better to make a penny less.  What about accumulated assets? What about inherited wealth (which western countries subsidize to promote “family values”)?   The “death tax” is still a political football and still inspires ire among conservatives, but it allows quite an exemption on the bottom. 

Also, what about the alternative minimum tax, which I thought Congress was going to abolish?

The WSJ makes a good argument about double taxation on investment income, because corporate income taxes have been paid already, and because losses in prior years can’t be subtracted.
“Millionaires” often have family businesses that employ other people.  It’s important to keep separate money put back into the economy.  Every time I go to a locally owned hardware store (to take care of an old “inherited” house) here in Arlington, I feel reminded of that point.  Sometimes people work on projects alone that don’t employ others now but are likely to later. I would like to think that’s my position.

Billionaires, well, Buffett, Soros, Zuckerberg all say they have no problem with paying more taxes on money that is not invested back into the economy.  That’s where to draw the line.

I still keep thinking that we equate tax policy to moral debate.  When I was growing up (in the 50s), “morality” wasn’t much about personal responsibility accompanying voluntary choices, as it was about socialization and sharing the sacrifices and risks that a community (or family) needs to forge ahead.  The male-only draft was a leading moral issue in my day.  By the late 60s and 70s (after the publicity following Mao’s Cultural Revolution), “fairness” began to shift from personal and “chore sharing” ares back to economic fairness, with the far Left seeing morality in terms of limiting maximum wealth and expropriation.  That gradually changed as individualism grew, however slowly at first.  Today we seem to be coming full trigonometric circle. Money alone won't keep our world together after pandemics or supervolcano eruptions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The "sin" of overlooking local special elections

Is all politics local?  I felt “guilty” yesterday when I checked my messages on my main land line, not used much, and found messages from three local Arlington County VA politicians about an “election” Saturday Jan 21. 

I finally tracked down that it was “only” a Democratic Party “caucus” for a County Board special election Tuesday, March 27; and it was hard to find much about it online. Finally I did locate it on the local Sun, (website url) here

I checked the messages after a brief land-line outage that, as I wrote yesterday, may have been related to the solar storm (the land-line is connected to the cable for digital phone service).

When I get a landline call, I hang up if it is a politician’ recording. I just don’t have time for a two minute speech.  And politicians are exempt from “do not call”. 

Yet, it’s important to pay attention to local events.  Local boards can pass zoning rules, which (as I have documented here right around the end of 2007) can become controversial or onerous to some people’s plans.  No, we haven’t had any treehouses cited in Arlington (and there are some). 

It’s odd that the caucus was so poorly advertised.  I never saw it on social media or email.  The only way I would hear about it was to listen to a recorded land-line call.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Coronal Mass Ejection from Sunday solar flare may affect communications on Earth Tuesday

NASA is advising that a coronal mass ejection from the Sun occurred Sunday night, and that the “space storm line” (by analogy to thunderstorms) should cross the Earth around 9 AM Tuesday Jan 24, give or take up to seven hours. 

Disruption of satellites is possible, and there is at least a remote threat of power outages or grid disruptions, particularly in more northerly or polar latitudes.

The flare was the largest since 2005.

A CME in 1989 caused a huge 24 hour power outage in much of Quebec.  A Carrington-sized (1859) event could cause catastrophic, prolonged power failures throughout much of the world.

Here is NASA’s story.  The stills and videos are downloadable and in public domain.

The Weather channel and Associated Press have a bigger story with a non-embeddable video here

Major newspapers and broadcast networks have not emphasized the story.

If will be interesting to see if the president discusses hardening of infrastructure tonight in the State of the Union speech, or if the GOP candidates (besides doomsday-obsessed New Gingrich) predict it. It would be ironic of a solar flare cause power outages that disrupted primaries, debates, or major speeches. 

Solar Watcher has this video on YouTube:

Later:  Starting about 11 PM last night, Comcast cable dropped very briefly a few times, and the Internet reset itself those times.  Then, this morning (around 10 AM), the XFinity digital phone was out even though Internet and cable were working. The problem started when the phone rang and no one was on the other end. In about five minutes, I was able to fix the problem by simply dialing the number from my cell phone and making it ring once (and playing through three unread messages from politicians).  I suspect this could all be solar-flare related.  I am in the DC area, at just moderate latitude (39 degrees).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

WebMD explains the proposed narrowing of "autism" definition

Here’s a WebMD story explaining the proposed change in the definition of autism, in a update written by the American Psychiatric Association, to the DSM, to be completed by the end of 2012.

The consolidation of several disorders had already started, but most kids with higher functioning and Asperger’s syndrome would not be included, which would mean they would not get services.   75% of those with Asperger’s would no longer be included.  I suspect that as a boy, under modern diagnosis, I would have fit within the 75%.  It’s not clear how this would affect the gender distribution. Under today’s classification, almost 80% of the autism spectrum disorder diagnoses are for boys.

But certainly there comes a point where Asperger-like traits are not pathological, and merely, even if genetically influenced, are more appropriately viewed as personality traits.  At the higher end, some very introverted kids are highly gifted and successful in their specialized areas (like the arts or music, or computer programming), even prodigies, when allowed to be.

The WebMD page is here

Update: Jan. 30

The Huffington Post has reproduced a Scientific American article by Ferris Jabr that gives more details explaining the pattern change in definitions from DSM-IV to DSM-5.  I like the word "kerfuffle". There is some "grandfathering" of previous patients. The link to the story is here.

Here's a long piece in the Los Angeles Times by Alan Zarembo about autistic adults "hiding in plain sight", Dec. 16, 2011, link.

Here's another video I took from Occupy Congress Tuesday:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Earthquakes raise questions about safety of natural gas fracking, at least in Ohio

Some small earthquakes in eastern Ohio, in the Youngstown area and more or less around the northern extension of the West Virginia panhandle, could raise questions about the expected boom in natural gas drilling in the region. (ABC had a story about the jobs in Stuebenville Oct. 18, 2011 here.)  The Dec. 31 4.0 quake was 40 times as powerful as any others in 2011, which could have been pre-shocks.

As a result, some injection wells cannot open now, as in this CNN  (website url) story

The fluid injection wells are supposed to act as a repository for wastes generated by fracking, our hydraulic drilling, to locate deep but plentiful natural gas reserves.

Actually, much of Ohio has long had a natural gas industry.  The mother’s side of my family has earned income in the past from owning a natural gas well in the Wellington area.   The well-being of a family in retirement can be made much safer by even a relatively modest well on its land, and in a perverse way, higher fuel prices could be desirable.   But the discovery of much more natural gas in the US available by fracking may well lead to a drop in price and increase in supply, leading many such as Pickens to suggest that natural gas can be an effective way to deal with oil supply problems and producing much cleaner energy.  Natural gas service prices in many areas have dropped during the past year.

This scientist found a quarry next to the site of a 2.5 earthquake on Dec. 29.

Here, citizens around Youngstown, OH talk about the problems cause by fracking:

Youngstown is near the crossover into Ohio from the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Ohio Turnpike, which as a boy I rode through umpteen times as a boy on family trips.  The area has experienced serious economic downturns in the loss of manufacturing, especially autos and auto parts. 

My father had business interests (Imperial Glass) in Bellaire, somewhat to the south, where we often stopped.  We also used to enter Ohio at East Liverpool in the days before the Ohio Turnpike was built.  Even in my IT career, I once worked with a client in Weirton, WVA, the steel company, and I’ve actually driven through the city once. 

Yesterday, the president denied immediate approval to the Keystone Pipeline project, saying regulators needed more time for environmental studies. He left open the idea of a revised route.  But given the situation in Iran, the president could wind up looking to be on the wrong side of energy policy, given this election year.  (See posts Dec. 12 and Nov. 6, 2011).  

Wikipedia attribution link for Bellaire Ohio bridge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Salvation Army, Good Will donation procedures are quick

I do have a number of warm overcoats from an estate, and today found that giving them away through the Salvation Army was a quick process, at least near Alexandria, VA.  You drive through and around the donation site, and clerks empty the car quickly and give you a receipt quickly. No time, no red tape.

The donation center was closed Martin Luther King Day, Monday, however. This was a surprise on a “National Day of Service”.

Good Will had picked up some unwanted furniture.  But it would not pick up a group of coats counted one at a time, because it required 8 bags of items tightly packed.  And an animal welfare charity picked up an old car that had trouble running.

I’m still not much for joining other people’s “agendas” or “asking for money” for them.  I look at these matters pragmatically, one situation at a time.  Where can I do the most good?  Maybe in the area of Internet reputation. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Occupy Congress" takes over the Capitol West Lawn

This afternoon, I visited the Occupy Congress demonstrations on the West Lawn of the Capitol.  The weather was breezy and mild, as a warm front had moved through. 

Although police were present anywhere, I did not witness anything disorderly. Media however has reported arrests earlier today. 

At one point, a leader of the demonstrations had the participants chanting their instructions, but I had a hard time understanding exactly what he was saying. It sounded as though they were having difficulty getting admitted into the buildings, and that their proposals were not very specific. The demonstrators tended to sound like obedient robots. 

 I saw plenty of “flags”, and variations of the mask worn in the movie “V for Vendetta”, a symbol for th hacker group Anonymous.

One sign read “words are never only words…”

Another sign complained that the “Dems sold us out.”

Still another demonstrator bore a sign reading “defeat Bush”.  Wrong election!

To leave the grounds and get to the Capitol South Metro, I “marched” in the crowd to get across Independence Ave.  I almost collided physically with a Park policeman.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

NBC4 holds Health Fair at Washington DC convention center

Saturday, Jan 14, I visited the 19th Health and Fitness Expo at the Washington DC Convention Center, sponsored by NBC4 (NBCWashington, Channel 4), link.

There were a lot of companies selling their services, to say the least.

I saw one blood drive, to benefit children, and the qualification signs did not mention the exclusion of MSM. 

There was also a station to sign up for marrow donation.

There were “soccer” and tennis courts set up for kids.  There was a one mile jogging track (eight laps).

There was a walk-through of the inside of a human leg, with diagrams of bone and joint structures, but there was no mention of deterioration in circulation with age because of atherosclerosis.

There were plenty of testing stations and people walked around with elbow bandages.

There was a fitness contest. 

But the most interesting station was a panel discussion of getting kids not to use cell phones while driving, and another simulation of DUI, both sponsored by ATT.

Also, I didn't see it, but there is an Alzheimer's booth.  Alzheimer's is now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (link), the biggest caregiving challenge the country faces. See  Booth 1039.

Note: NBC4's link says 2012 (19th Annual event), but the url still has "2011" in it.    

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Supreme Court rules on discrimination in church-related jobs; EEOC warns on disparate impact in background checks

The Supreme Court didn’t surprise anyone by ruling that Church employees with religious leadership duties are generally not protected by federal discrimination laws.  The case, “Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission et al”, has a slip opinion at the Court’s website, PDF (website url) here.

The outcome probably sounds “libertarian”.  The practical effect of such a decision might occur if more people get vouchers and go to parochial schools.  I have known of teachers fired from such schools for “being gay”.  There is a tendency in many schools to expect teachers to take on religious duties and profess a calling.  The employee in this case may have done so.

Without going into personal details, I know of people who have been caught in "political battles" or social struggles within churches (both mainstream churches and "gay" ones) and lost jobs, after painful and messy investigative processes (sometimes starting with anonymous accusations).  Church employment is a world of its own for the "called", but it gets to be like other jobs -- subject to every human jealousy. 
There’s also some interest in the problem of denial of employment to people for minor convictions decades ago.  The Employers Association of New Jersey has a Jan. 2012 posting warning employers that disparate impact analysis applies with respect to race when using criminal background checks, especially with older records, link here

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Man on DC Metro asks other passengers, as individuals rather than "corporations", to hire him

I didn’t have my camera with me to record the incident, but today on the Orange Line in Arlington, late morning, going into the City, a man, African American, walked on to the subway care and actually begged to be hired in a job.  Only after two or three minutes of talking about a job search did he beg for money for food. No one responded.

It’s a bit interesting to hear pleas to individuals to hire people, rather than to companies.  Yes, individuals have become much more “efficient” in creating and distributing content (including composed music) without having to hire people.  It raises some questions.

Last night, on CNN, candidate Ron Paul blamed the nation’s economic problems on the Federal Reserve, inflation, and the ability of government to get kids to fight wars being policeman of the world. 

Other GOP candidates, especially Mitt Romney, have been blamed for participating in “corporate raiding” leading to job loss.  But in many cases, jobs lost to raiders really are redundant and are being done inefficiently.

CNN is reporting on the fact that children of middle class parents are falling below middle class themselves.   In 1979, a family of four needed about $33000 to be middle class (I made $26000 but was single, a big difference.)   The video on "The New Poor" (a theme that was actually a book in 1974, an earlier recession) from CNN

Monday, January 09, 2012

New York Post story on Irene victim provides warning to homeowners about asbestos, FEMA

I wanted to pass along a link to a story on p 39 of the Jan. 5 New York Post, about the difficulties a homeowner had in a well-inland area of Rockland County NY recovering from basement flooding after Hurricane Irene in August, link here. The story is "After the Storm" by Don Kaplan. 

 In an older house, he found that he had a lot of asbestos, which made it very difficult to get repairs done properly. This could happen with a lot of homes built a number of decades ago.

It seems that homes with sump systems can just get overwhelmed by huge amounts of rain per hour.  And why keep so many valuables in the basement.

The story of the way FEMA worked is important, recalling the days I volunteered taking calls for Katrina victims in 2005 at the Red Cross in Falls Church, VA.  Most were directed to an 800 FEMA number that took 24 hours to get through. 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The non-winter of 2011-2012: climate change at an inflection point of no return?

Has climate change reached an inflection point?

In the DC area, this year’s early winter seems like the warmest ever.  Yet, we had the freak one inch (at least in Arlington) the last Saturday in October, the day of the freak Noreaster that clobbered New England.
Recently, the media has reported on release of methane from the permafrost in Siberia and other places. Methane has much more heat retaining capacity that carbon dioxide. Relative small warming in the arctic could conceivably trigger runaway greenhouse effects.

Well, DC had a winter similar to this in 1972-1973, with some freak snow in October, and none for the rest of the winter.  In 1997-1998 supposedly there was no recorded snow around DC.  I think it was warm enough even in Quebec in January, 1998 to have an ice storm. 

And some reports do say that extremely cold air is bottled up in Alaska and Eastern Siberia (where the permafrost is). The reason it doesn’t move south is that the usual high pressure is missing over Greenland.  Once it settles in there, low pressure systems tend to track farther south, resulting in much more snow (as in 2009-2010). Curiously, there's been more snow than usual in West Texas, New Mexico, and northern Arizona. 

And there have been a few winters where February is colder than January.  That sometimes happens in areas with a large exposure to water.

In 1995-1996, the winter started out mild, but five big storms came January to March.  In 1977-1978, when I lived in NYC, the winter was mild until Jan. 20, when there were three massive blizzards, one per month.

In 1957, there was one heavy snow and brief cold spell around Dec. 4, and no more winter weather until Feb. 15, when there was a massive blizzard, and then another one on March 20, leading to the only extended power outage in my high school days.

Statistically, the coldest day in DC is Jan. 20.  The hottest is July 21.

Still, this winter seems scary. The snow pack is almost at a record minimum, and the lack of snow can accelerate the warming and not allow cold to settle in as the Sun gradually returns to higher positions in the sky, especially after mid February.

There other natural hazards to watch.  Sunspot activity is expected to increase 2012-2014, leading increased risk that a massive solar storm could overwhelm the Earth’s magnetic field and power grid, leading to a “Carrington Event” as in 1859, when a solar flare actually started wildfires.  Power in some areas could be out for months.  Utilities should learn how to protect their transformers and generating equipment with Faraday cages (as shown in the recent film “The Darkest Hour”).

A supervolcano could erupt. There is some concern not only about Yellowstone (due after 600000 years) but also the supervolcano around Vesuvius and Naples, Italy.

Or the Cumbre Vieja volcano could avalanche, sending a 200-foot-tsunami across the Atlantic to the US East Coast.

And are Americans, with weakened social structures, ready to deal with the physical hardships caused by our planet?  It might not even be our fault.

But don’t believe the Dec 21, 2012 crowd. It might not take that long. 

Friday, January 06, 2012

Washington DC schools now debate whether all students should aim for college; should teens (and tweens) blog?

Here are a couple of educations stories:

Should all high school students in Washington DC (or any city) be forced or expected to take college admission tests and pursue higher education?  The story Jan. 3 by Tim Craig and Emma Brown is (website url) here about the DC school system in a post-Michelle-Rhee world. Her legacy remains.  (Remember, she didn't care what people other  thought; she "knew" she was right!) 

I can remember teaching at the University of Kansas as a graduate assistant 1966-1967 when many students had to take “remedial algebra”, the taking of which added to the hours required for graduation. This happened during the years of the Vietnam era draft, for men at least, and student deferments, where going to college could become a matter of survival – and social inequality.

On the other end, there are people who skip college and do very well at something, like acting, or starting businesses.  Mark Zuckerberg, after all, dropped out of Harvard at 20 to start Facebook. On the other hand (as shown on a Dr. Phil episode that I recall), people have dropped out of school, had babies and then tried things like flipping real estate to make “a fortune”. Welcome to the crash of 2008.

It’s true, more education (even community college) could mean a more stable economy in the long run.

Here’s another story, in favor of teen blogging, on “mom’s MSN”, link here.  The story title says "Boost your teens' self-esteem: let them blog!" In 2006, a Fairfax County English teacher (and college English professor at George Mason University simultaneously) tried a blogging assignment, all “rated G” with her seniors, and made the school administration nervous.  But it went very well.  Should teens (and tweens) blog in "public mode" (for "everyone")? 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Self-defense case in Oklahoma with young mother heightens attention to "Castle Doctrine", and Second Amendment rights

A young widow caring for her baby in Oklahoma, shot an intruder after calling 9-1-1 and asking “permission” and getting a non-committal answer.

Oklahoma is one of thirty states with the “Castle Doctrine” (wiki information link) allowing the use of deadly force to protect property from invasion.  In other states a person must attempt retreat.  It seems unrealistic to expect someone to abandon property. Another term for this situation is "Make My Day" laws. 

The incident also makes an argument for recognizing Second Amendment rights as applying to individuals.
In a case in Texas, a man shot a burglar trying to break into a neighbor’s home, and a grand jury refused to indict.

In the Oklahoma incident, a young mother was defending her child. Nothing could get more sympathy from a potential jury. 

But in the past some people have actually been sued for defending their homes. In Wisconsin, a man was charged and sued both after setting up a retaliatory device to harm a repeat burglar.  But in Florida a store owner was not prosecuted after setting up an electric trap on a roof entrance that electrocuted an intruder. 

Recently, CNN's Fisher and Herman have discussed also "Stand your Ground" laws in 17 states. In Florida, a teenager knifed and killed a bully who came after him, and will not be prosecuted.

Sunday, Jan. 8:  A burglar was shot trying to break-in to an apartment in Temple Hills, MD.  The legal consequences have not yet been reported.  (Source: NBC Washington).

Generally, the crimes have been more brazen, perhaps out of existential anger than desperation, than they had been even fifteen years.  There has been a real change since 9/11.  That increases the argument for the "Castle Doctrine". 

Picture: Arbuckle Mts, south of Oklahoma City, recent trip

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Iowa caucuses prove that every vote counts; Santorum scary with anti-gay views; the concept of "subsidiarity"

Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum in the Republican Iowa caucuses by a mere eight votes, according to the AP and many other stories, such as this report in AOL’s Huffington Post Wednesday morning, link. That means that Romney carries one more delegate than Santorum; it’s not “winner take all”. Ron Paul performed, well, respectfully. 
So, don’t think "your" votes don’t count.  A few countries, like Australia, I think, require voting. But probably not in primaries.

And Iowa caucuses require real “participation”.  People congregate in what sound like Tupperware parties.
The media has made a lot of the Evangelical vote, and it’s not clear why it would prefer a “Catholic” to a “Mormon”, to me at least.  Mitt Romney has promised to leave religion out of his policy decisions. (“Nice try” he keeps saying.)  Santorum will not.  I would be much more concerned that Santorum would not only undo the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” but would reimpose the old ban on gays in the military with asking.

Wikipedia has an article on Santorum’s anti-gay remarks here

He seems to echo the Vatican position that engagement of sexuality in any way requires openness to taking the “risk” or procreation. Look at his position even on contraception.  He seems to regard homosexuality as unwelcome"competition" or for or detraction from the "natural family". But Scalia's views on the Supreme Court sound similar (his dissent in 2003 Lawrence v. Texas).

On the LA arson incident, it’s interesting that the arrest was made by a “volunteer deputy sheriff” who gets paid $1 a year.  How many of us could “volunteer” for domestic law enforcement duty, in a world of influential police unions.  As far of the defendant himself, he sounds like a mini-McVeigh.  What he did should be prosecuted as terrorism.  He should wind up in SuperMax in Pueblo, CO. Same for what happened in Arizona a year ago (with Congresswoman Giffords).

Update: Jan 6:

Michael Gerson has an op-ed in the Washington Post "Rick Santorum and the return of compassionate conservatism", link here. Gerson talks about the idea that people need stable social institutions (the family) which are easily distracted by hyperindividualism, and defines the concept of "subsidiarity"  (a Catholic concept here, but intuitive).  The problem is that "subsidiarity" will lead to unequal "personal sacrifices" in an environment that otherwise stresses individual autonomy and equality, taken as far in the abstract as possible.  This certainly impacts LGBT people.

On the other hand. AlterNet has a piece "Rick Santorum's 10 most outrageous campaign statements" and they sound like "reasoning" drawn into false metaphors, here