Thursday, May 25, 2023

Test post

 I don't post much on my blog these days.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021


 It's been a while since I made a new post here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Let's keep government out of the football business

This is a message I just emailed to one of the Indiana state representatives that I know personally.

From: Bill Starr
To: Representative Milo Smith
Cc: Representative Sean Eberhart; Senator Chip Perfect; Senator Greg Walker; Representative Eric Allan Koch
Subject: Mandated refunds for offended NFL fans
Date: Wednesday, December 27, 2017, 9:31:23 PM EST

Hi Milo.

I saw the article in today's paper that you are considering submitting legislation that spectators offended by professional athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem would be entitled to request a full ticket price refund during the first quarter.

Of course the implication is that government would force the team owners to make good on such a refund.

I urge you to reconsider this idea.

This seems to me like a matter best handled privately between the business and the consumer. Most fans who attend an NFL game these days must be aware of the possibility that they may witness an athlete taking a knee during the National Anthem. It seems that if they're not willing to take that risk, they might as well spend their recreational dollars in some other way. That decision would certainly send a message to team owners as to what the fans are expecting when they attend a game.

While the NFL club owner is certainly welcome to offer a full or partial refund to anyone they like, for any reason they like, that decision seems to me best left to the business owner, and not made the subject of legislation.

As you are of course aware, any time a law is passed, that means that the use or threat of physical force is being authorized to enforce it. As long as the team owners are not fraudulently offering any sort of promise that there is no risk of a fan's being offended by something he observes at the game, I don't see any need for government to be involved in this issue.

Sincerely, Bill Starr
Wed, 27 Dec 2017, 9:31 pm


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sharpening the saw for liberty

In recent discussions, the questions has been raised as to the best actions a person living in the United States can take to improve our society.

For those with a bent to liberty, it is important to remember that sharpening the saw is as important as using it. (Thanks to Stephen Covey).

One of the advocates for freedom whose writings have been influential on me is Leonard Read, and in particular, his book "Elements of Libertarian Leadership". I highly recommend this book to any who would make themselves more effective in the cause of liberty in this world. In his closing remarks, Read says:

Those who have been liberated can and do help one another — the educable aiding the educable! That we need more liberated individuals is self-evident; for among the non-liberated are, unquestionably, some of the greatest potential writers, thinkers, talkers of the freedom philosophy. But what can any of us do about it? How can we liberate them?

At the outset, it might be well to consider some of our limitations. The individual not yet liberated is no more educable as to the free market, private property, limited government philosophy than you or I are educable on subjects in which we have no interest. Thus, it is patently absurd to scold or rant at them, to be impatient, to regard them as not bright, to try poking our ideas down their necks. Such tactics will only send them scurrying.

The best counsel is to take it easy. First, we must recognize that most of the individuals among our personal contacts... have no aptitudes whatever for this subject... Work naturally; make freely available such insights as you possess, but do not entertain any notions about setting someone else straight. Go only where called, but qualify to be called.

The few within your orbit who are susceptible to the freedom philosophy will find you out. We need never worry about that, only about our own qualifications. In this manner we will liberate as many minds as will open to our own keys.

Some will complain that this approach is too slow, but I think that it is the best hope for the long run.

It is somewhat akin to the history lesson of the conquest of Jericho by the Israelites. As the Israelites marched round the walls of Jericho the first twelve times, there was no outward evidence of any progress being made toward their goal. But the foundation was being laid for the last time around, and when the victory came, it was dramatic.

The battle for more liberty is first won inwardly, in the minds of men, and only later is it visible outwardly.

"It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." ~ Samuel Adams

"The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable." ~ H.L. Mencken

" One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas." ~ Victor Hugo

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Some thoughts on the Jim Irsay arrest

I read an Associated Press article in the paper today that says police found multiple prescription drugs in the vehicle of Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay, during a Sunday night traffic stop.

The AP also reports that Irsay acknowledged a painkiller dependency more than a decade ago.

I know little about Mr. Irsay, but I have trouble understanding why either of these things amounts to a case for government action against Mr. Irsay.

The article gives no indication that the prescription medicines were not legally obtained, nor whether Mr. Irsay caused any injury or property damage while driving, or seemed to be at any significant risk of doing so.

I don't see why what a person voluntarily puts into his own body, whether for pleasure or for pain or for some other illness or condition, is any business of the those we pay in government to help safeguard our life, liberty, and property.

In our culture, the government requires a recommendation from a government-approved medical specialist (aka doctor) in order for a person to legally acquire certain medicines. Whether that is a good idea in a free society is a matter for another time.

Presumable, Mr. Irsay received such a recommendation, and he then made the decision to see whether the benefits of taking such medicine seem to outweigh the drawbacks for him.

That is the same type of decision that we all make on a daily basis, whether it has to do with the amount of sugar in our foods or beverages, taking medicine to control cholesterol, medicine to control blood pressure, medicine to control pain, medicine to control anxiety or depression, recreational use of alcoholic beverages, etc.

Other than listening to whatever advice we choose to from specialists and other parties affected by our choices, such as family, friends, and business associates, these decisions are, in the end, individual choices that each of us make, in our pursuit of happiness.

Unless our choices result in injury to others or damage to their property, there is no proper role for government in deciding whether our choices are allowed or forbidden.

I concur heartily with Lysander Spooner on this subject.

"Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property. Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another. Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property. In vices, the very essence of crime --- that is, the design to injure the person or property of another --- is wanting."

"It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practices a vice with any such criminal intent. He practices his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others."

"Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property. For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth."

I also concur with Ron Paul, who write in "Liberty Defined", "Laws that prohibit the use of certain substances -- food, drugs, or alcohol -- by  adults is a dangerous intrusion on personal liberty."

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Two Hours Before the Sun, Jim Burdsall

A shorten version of the following was published in today's Sunday Indianapolis Star newspaper.

Two Hours Before the Sun

What are Senate President Pro Tempore David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma afraid of? Why won’t they permit a summer study to review Indiana’s time zone? Is it because there is no social, commercial, or geographical reason for any portion of Indiana to be in the Eastern Time Zone? In 2005, the leadership of the General Assembly killed a proposal for a time zone referendum to be placed on the 2006 ballot. It is obvious that Big Brother believes Big Brother knows what is best for us. In a more perfect world, acts of government would be reviewed periodically to determine if they had achieved their original purposes and free of unintended consequences.

The proposed summer study would not be a rehash of the Daylight Saving Time debacle of 2005 in which the time zone issue was conveniently ignored. The Central Time Coalition is not opposed to Central Daylight Time. 4:15 AM sunrises in June with Central Standard Time don’t make any more sense than post 8 AM sunrises in January, March, October, November, and December do with Eastern Time.

Time zones are based on geography and by geography all of Indiana is located in the Central Time Zone. During the 1960s, federal agencies relocated most of the Central-Eastern time zone boundary from the Indiana-Ohio border to the Illinois-Indiana border. 6 northwestern and 6 southwestern Indiana counties remain in the Central Time Zone. In 1971, the Eastern counties were granted an exemption from Eastern Daylight Time because they were in effect observing Central Daylight Time the year round.

If they were to observe EDT their clocks would be two hours ahead of the sun. The 2005 Indiana General Assembly voted to surrender the exemption from EDT and now Hoosiers in the 80 Eastern zone counties set their clocks to the same as Atlantic Standard Time 34 weeks of the year and to Eastern Standard Time the remaining 18 weeks. This results in most of Indiana having on average the latest sunrises and darkest mornings of any location in the 48 adjacent states.

For Hoosier kids on their way to school the difference between Eastern Time and Central Time is the same as the difference between night and day. Eastern morning darkness amounts to an insidious type of child abuse. Strong words? Yes, but probably not strong enough. The Central Time Coalition has compiled a list of recent incidents in which students have been robbed, raped, beaten or killed. All of these unnecessary tragedies occurred in the dark while on the way to school. This list is available on request. The harm done by Eastern Time to our children’s education is not nearly as apparent but it has nevertheless done so. This damage cannot be repaired by more tax dollars or more school days.

It is our responsibility as adults to provide a safe environment where the young can learn and grow and achieve. Instead, we needlessly force them out into the dark where they are placed at unnecessary risk. We give our children an unnatural clock that tends to deprive them of sleep then we agonize over their low test scores and poor attitudes. More money, a longer school year, and innovations such as charter schools, have barely made a dent in the problem.

The Central Time Coalition believes the Eastern morning darkness is part of the problem and Central morning daylight is part of the solution. Brighter Central mornings should make for safer, brighter students. Resetting our clocks to a more Hoosier friendly time will provide the most educational improvement for the dollar. We shouldn’t just request Central Time. We should demand it. After all, Central Time is every Hoosier’s birthright that has been taken from us by a federal bureaucracy without our permission.

Jim Burdsall
Central Time Coalition

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tragic accident related to Indiana's time zone

From: Bill Starr
To: Tom Jekel <tjekel at>
Cc: Susannah H. Dillon <shdillon at>; Dr. John B. Quick <bcscsupt at>; Barry Wright -- WCSI News <news at>
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 8:24 AM
Subject: Fw: News release

Hello, Mr. Jekel.

This is not a letter to the editor for publication, but I encourage you to run the attached letter from my friend, Sue Dillon, as a guest column. Sue is president of the Central Time Coalition, an organization of Hoosiers, including myself, who would like to see Indiana restored to the central time zone.

In some ways, it might be a bit late, but in light of yesterday's tragic accident involving 13-year-old student, Jaden Lee, who was struck in traffic in Columbus yesterday while walking to catch his school bus, it could hardly be more timely.

Boy, 13, in critical but stable condition

The article says that the accident occurred about 7:04 am. On Eastern Daylight Time, that's quite dark -- about an hour before sunrise. The natural clock time for sunrise in Columbus yesterday is about 6:15 am. If Indiana were restored to our natural time zone of central time, sunrise yesterday would have been 7:01 am. The article says "Investigators think the dark conditions — daylight saving time went into effect over the weekend, making it darker than usual at that time of the morning — and rainy weather played a role in the accident."

Even with DST starting so early in the year now, if Indiana were on Central Daylight Time the sun would have been almost up, making a big difference in visibility for both students and drivers. And for those who like extra daylight in the evenings, Central Daylight Time still shifts about 45 minutes of daylight from morning to evening.

Sincerely, Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Tue, 12 Mar 2013, 8:24 am EST

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Susannah Dillon <shdillon at>
Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2013 11:32 AM
Subject: News release

Eastern Time in Indiana Defies Common Sense

Nobody complains more than Hoosiers about changing their clocks.  And there’s a valid reason – DST in Indiana’s Eastern Time Zone is painful!  Just as we are beginning to be cheered by morning sunshine after coming out of a long, dark winter, Hoosiers in Indiana’s Eastern Time counties will be plunged back into dark mornings on Sunday, March 10.  It’s depressing!  In contrast, Hoosiers in Indiana’s Central Time counties will barely notice the switch to DST because it will be daylight when most of them get out of bed this Sunday.

It wasn’t always this way.  When time zones were established, Indiana was a Central Time state.  Portions of Indiana were switched to the Eastern Time Zone in the 1960s to facilitate communications with financial centers and network television in New York.   Today’s instantaneous information transfer through e-technology has negated “perceived” advantages of Eastern Time in Indiana.  In the meantime, Eastern Time is causing many “inconveniences to commerce”.  The demand for nationwide same-day delivery of specialized products and parts is forcing Indiana manufacturers to relocate to logistics hubs in the Central Time Zone.  Eastern Time hubs can’t meet that demand.  The 3-hour time difference with the West Coast is now a year-round inconvenience for direct communications and a deterrent to business interaction with Indiana.  Late broadcast of nationally televised sports and cultural events is inconvenient for Hoosier audiences and reduces the viewership.  Indiana is not taking advantage of its natural Central Time location.

At the same time, when it doesn’t get dark until around 10 p.m., Eastern Time has stolen the darkness from summer evenings.   Darkness brings the magic to campfires, allows stars to be visible, brings focus to the music at summer concerts, and provides intimacy for evening chats.  The late sunlight of Eastern Time is family-unfriendly when it comes to bedtime and July 4th fireworks.

20,000 Hoosiers and 42 school districts have signed petitions and resolutions in support of restoring Indiana to its original, geographically correct Central Time Zone.  The General Assembly is being asked to appoint a study committee to examine the consequences of Indiana’s split time zone designations and to evaluate their effects on Hoosiers.   Time Zone issues have never been vetted by our legislators.  Hoosiers are saying that this discussion is overdue.

Susannah H. Dillon, President
Central Time Coalition
shdillon at

Saturday, March 09, 2013

My two cents on Indiana's quirky time zone

Wow. A year since my last blog post, and this one is the same subject as the last one.

Indiana's quirky time zone

Monday, March 05, 2012

Time to restore Indiana to central time?

I just submitted the following letter to the editor to my local newspaper in Columbus, Indiana.

The sunrise time this Saturday (March 10) in Columbus is 7:02 am. On Sunday (March 11), it is 8:01 am.

The natural clock time for sunrise in Columbus this Saturday, and for all points due east and west of us, is 6:18 am. This is easy to confirm by looking at the sunrise time in cities east and west of Indiana which are at the middle of their natural time zone. Sunrise times in these cities of Philadelphia, St. Louis, Denver, and Reno are 6:19, 6:19, 6:18, and 6:18, respectively.

If you would prefer a more normal amount of your daylight in the mornings, and prefer to have a sunrise of 6:02 am on the last day of standard time and 7:01 am on the first day of daylight saving time, then you may want to consider lending your support to the Central Time Coalition (CTC).

The CTC is working with Indiana legislators to urge the U.S. Department of Transportation restore Indiana to central time -- Indiana's natural time zone.

Bill Starr

Online version

As published, Thu, 8 Mar 2012, Page A6 ( View, Newspaper View )

Friday, April 22, 2011

Microsoft Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe) phone scammers

The local newspaper ran an article about the recent spate of scam telephone calls who tell you your computer is infected with a virus and offer to "help" you get it disinfected.

Internet scam reports increase

Since reading this article, I have taken three calls from these folks, two on Saturday, 16 April 2011 and one today (Fri, 22 April 2011). Each time it is a man with an Indian accent -- "Ronnie", "Shane", and "Jack". Each asked if I have a computer with an internet connection and told me it is downloading viruses and infecting my hard drive. Ronnie and Shane said they were from the "Technical Department of Computer" in Newark, New Jersey. Jack said he was from "Tech 4 PC Support" and gave me a phone number of 631-456-4455, which appears to be an unlisted number in Suffolk County, New York on Long Island.

All three calls had the Caller ID information blocked. The first two hung up after I asked them for their phone number. After each call, I hung up and phoned *57 to capture the caller information at Comcast for potential use by law enforcement.

After the first call, I phoned the county sheriff and filed a report and also filed a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, as recommended in the newspaper article.

I kept the third caller on the line a bit longer to find out more about the scam. He had me use Windows-R to pull up the Microsoft "Run" dialog and then "eventvwr" to open the Microsoft Event Viewer. Then he had me go to the "Windows Logs", "Application" pane and look at all of the "Error" and "Warning" lines.

These are all pretty normal entries in an uninfected Windows system, but the scammers hope that the user has never had occasion to use Event Viewer before and is awed that the scammer would know about these errors on their computer.

The third caller asked me to open Internet Explorer and go to "", which I declined to do.

On the next call, I may try putting the phone on speaker and recording it, as these folks have done.

Fake tech support call scam

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Finished reading "Freedom and Federalism"

I just finished reading "Freedom and Federalism" today. This book was written by Felix Morley and published in 1959. I have had it on my "to read" list since at least October 2003. Ron Paul cites it favorably in his book, "The Manifesto: A Manifesto."

It sat on my bookshelf for several years until I began to read it in earnest in June 2010. I read a chapter here, and chapter there, intermingled with reading many other things that caught my fancy along the way.

I thought I'd quote a few thoughts from the final few pages that jumped out at me.

"Individualized liberty... is an elusive flame, continuously rekindling, in unexpected places and among all sorts of 'trouble makers,' regardless of the will and generally contrary to the wishes of Big Government. And to seek the source of this flame is to find it, with Saint Paul, 'where the spirit of the Lord is.' "

"... the founding fathers put restraints on government so that the governed might be free."

"Without faith, the Constitution falls. Whether or not our Federal Republic will be maintained is therefore at bottom a moral issue. It depends as much on the churches and synagogues as on the legislatures and the law courts. The growth of Big Government goes hand in hand with the loss of Big Conviction."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A letter from the Battle of the Bulge (1944)

My father's artillery unit shipped to Europe and engaged Hitler's armies in the Battle of the Bulge. Fortunately for my family, my father did not deploy with his unit due to a minor medical condition, so he missed being involved in this battle.

According to Wikipedia, "The Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes Mountains region of Wallonia in Belgium... For the Americans, with about 500,000 to 840,000 men committed and some 70,000 to 89,000 casualties, including 19,000 killed, the Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest battle that they fought in World War II."

Battle of the Bulge, Wikipedia

I just read for the first time today a letter written to my father, George Starr, by an army colleague, Jim, from Belgium on Friday, 29 December 1944, about two weeks into the six-week Battle of the Bulge.

I know nothing about the author, except that he served with my father, but it seemed to me that his firsthand words on the glory and horrors of war are worth sharing with the world.
Dear George:

Received your letter today in the first mail we have had in days...

We have been in combat for some time now and have met with some measure of success, and, up to the present, a share of the glory that goes with it.

Ours was the first Division of the Third Army to penetrate the Reich... and we played no little part in the fall of Metz [France]. After that affair we fought our way across the Moselle [River] and clean to the Saar River near Mertzic, and that turned out to be a rough little party. If any of your friends have any idea the Siegfried Line is a pushover, take it from one who has been there, it's plenty rough going.

Well, George, we have sat in on some pretty rugged scraps since we started, but the one we are on now turned out to be the granddaddy of them all. We marched up here to Belgium to help throw a kink in Von Rundstedt plans to sweep all before him and drive on to the coast... We stopped him in front of us... For two days we held and then an airborne division moved in to help us...

Before any reinforcements could get to us, we were encircled but good and we were given an ultimatum and two hours in which to surrender. With the American spirit, it was rejected and the fight was on.

Right now what is left of us are Heroes and our praises are sung to the skies, but take it from me our Bn [Battalion] paid a terrific price for that piece of Glory.

I've been under counter-battery fire before, but never hope to be subjected to what we went through ever again. There are scenes seared in my mind that will take time to erase.

At one time, besides being under artillery fire, the Krauts were putting mortar fire down on us from a patch of woods about 500 yards away. I had the battery broke into two platoons of two guns each, firing them in different sectors to plug a break through. At the same time, we were swapping machine gun fire with the Kraut infantry with our 58s, and at the same time Captain McCain and I each were directing fire from an M7 [howitzer] apiece on four Mark IV tanks and an 88 [mm] AT [anti-tank] gun that were firing direct fire at us at a scant 200 yards. The 88 and three of the tanks are burned-out hulks -- mute testimony of the accuracy of my gunners.

Then came Heinic [Heinkel?] bombers and fighters and they bombed and strafed us, but we are still here and a supply route has been opened and troops are coming in to bolster and relieve us. For six long days, we were cut off and the Krauts threw everything in the book at us. Our ammunition was dropped to us by parachutes once. I was down to five rounds of H.E. [high-explosive] and it's an awful feeling.

Right now as I sit here writing to you we are being bombed, not right on us but all around us the fragmentation and incendiary bombs are falling. I guess as soon as sufficient forces get here we will be relieved to go to some quiet place and lick our wounds and reorganize and fill in the gaps and perhaps get a rest.

You can be proud of your old outfit now, George. We have made a place in history for ourselves, but while some will be telling their friends that they have a son or husband in the 420th or CCB, there will be many nursing a broken heart cause some of the officers you knew are not coming back, and likewise many of the men you knew -- five of my best sergeants are gone.

Maybe I seem like a crank, George, but my mind and heart are full of what is around me.

Regards to the Boys -- Jim

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Let's restore Indiana to central time

These abnormally dark March mornings are depressing. Natural sunrise time here today is 6:01 am (Local Apparent Time). Actual sunrise is 7:54 am on eastern DST -- virtually double daylight saving time. Let's restore Indiana to the central time zone and get some of our morning daylight back. That would give us a sunrise today of 6:54 am -- "only" 53 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening.

Updated Thu, 17 Mar 2011 to add some options for action on this issue.

If you live in Indiana, and you'd like to get back one of your two hours or so of missing morning daylight, you can contact your state representative and state senator and let them know you'd like them to support Representative Phillip Hinkle's 2011 HCR 0011 to restore Indiana to the central time zone.

How to contact your Indiana state legislators

In addition, you can register your support at the Hoosiers for Central Time grassroots organizing website and ask them how you can help advance the cause of restoring Indiana to central time.

Central Time Coalition

If you live in Indiana, or anywhere in the United States, and don't like the recently-darkened mornings of March and November, you can contact your U.S. representative and senators and let them know that you'd like to see the DST period reduced from 8 months back to 6 or 7 months again. Or, if you're feeling really radical, let them know about the recent study that shows DST results in higher, not reduced, energy usage, and ask them to repeal DST entirely -- no more switching clocks forward and back twice a year.

2008 study concludes DST increases residential electricity demand
How to contact your U.S. Representative
How to contact your U.S. Senator

Friday, February 04, 2011

Greencards North Vernon Sat, 5 March 2011

I'm a big fan of the Greencards. I'm really looking forward to hearing them live.

You can check out some samples of their music at

A couple of my favorites are Six White Horses (Movin' On) and Lonesome Side of Town (Viridian).

You can RSVP on the Facebook page if you think you'll be attending.

The Greencards will be headlining the 8th annual Granville Johnson Bluegrass Festival at the Park Theatre, 25 N. Madison Avenue in North Vernon, Indiana on Saturday, March 5, and we hope you can come to the show. For early ticket pre-sales call Tracy Thompson (812) 592-3003 or Bill at The Park (812) 346-0330. Show time: 7pm. Box Office Hours: Tuesday & Thursday - 3:00 - 6:00pm; Saturday - 10:00am - 1:00pm

================ About The Greencards ============

North VernonThis critically acclaimed Austin-formed / Nashville-based band’s love and respect for Americana, folk and bluegrass brought them together in 2003. The Greencards have:
  • Toured multiple dates with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Kasey Chambers, Shawn Colvin and Tim O'Brien just to name a few;
  • Landed Grammy nominations for "Best Country Instrumental" in 2008 and 2010; and
  • Earned the Americana Music Association Award in 2006 for “Emerging Artist of the Year”
The Greencards appeared at several festivals in past years such as Austin City Limits, Telluride, Walnut Valley (Winfield), MerleFest, Newgrass, Grey Fox, Lollapalooza and the Cayamo Cruise.

Originally from Australia, an urge to challenge themselves and test the limits of any established genre has guided singer / bassist Carol Young, and mandolin master Kym Warner (accompanied by fiddle and guitar) on their first three albums.

The Greencards released their fourth album in April 2009. Fascination is the band’s most daring project to date. Meticulously crafted arrangements serve as springboards for exhilarating improvisations. While technically breathtaking and acoustically driven, The Greencards have consistently moved towards a sound of their own. A new record will be released in May 2011.
To receive updates, please consider joining the band's email list:

Visit The Greencards' CD Baby page to hear samples from of their various projects -

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Debby's memory of Edith Schaeffer

I am enjoying my read of Frank Schaeffer's memoirs, "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (Or Almost All) of it Back."

One of the most powerful pieces so far for me has been the end of the letter Frank's older sister, Debby, sent him for inclusion in the book.

"My mother's legacy was in stark contrast, as she single-mindedly pursued her ideals, often blinded to the realities of life or of our lives. As a dreamer and a highly artistic individual my mother created her own life with passion and hard work. I compare her to early discoverer's of the North Pole. She pursued her objectives with determination, though bits of bodies all around her were lost to frostbite. The havoc she caused to all around her, as they were dragged in to help her meet self-imposed deadlines and goals, was phenomenal and scarring to me as a child. The force of her personality was such that I, at least, never even thought of refusing. Also, I would say, that though my father taught me the love of the Real, my mother's idealism has taken years to peel away."

Friday, January 07, 2011

Let's repeal the incandescent light bulb ban

I just sent the following message to my U.S. Representative, Mike Pence.

I urge you to join with Representatives Joe Barton, Dan Burton, Ron Paul, and others as a cosponsor of the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act or BULB Act, H.R. 91.

It may be a relatively minor matter, but it is symbolic of what is wrong with government at all levels, that those elected to serve us in government would try to influence our consumer choices through coercion, rather than trusting education and the free market to be our reliable guide in matters of this sort.

Thank you for your service to Hoosiers and Americans in the U.S. Congress.

Barton leads effort in U.S. Congress to repeal light bulb ban

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tom Mullen's Blog: Jesus Christ, Libertarian

Great post from Tom Mullen.

Tom Mullen's Blog: Jesus Christ, Libertarian

Following are some of the passages I particularly like.

The freedom to follow the dictates of one’s conscience was the first inalienable right recognized by the founders of our nation...

However, no one has a right to use violence against those who engage in behavior that does not harm another person...

With the exception of cases in which one human being has done injury to another, the right to punish human behavior is reserved for God.

With flawless libertarian reasoning, Jesus teaches us the true meaning of freedom: that God grants us the liberty to do as we wish, even to reject him and his laws, but that we also bear the full consequences of our actions. If we harm another person, then we are subject to the laws of men. However, it is otherwise left to each individual to determine the will of God according to his conscience and to choose whether to act accordingly or not...

By attempting to use the law to enforce their morality, social conservatives violate the very principles that they say that they cherish most. Social conservatives decry Islam because it attempts to “propagate the faith by the sword.” However, there is only a cosmetic difference between promoting your religious views through acts of terrorism and doing likewise through passing unjust laws against minorities who have no recourse but to obey or suffer violence. In both cases, it is the sword that compels the victim rather than the mind or the heart. Neither can social conservatives rely on the argument that their laws are passed by an elected body representing the people. If that justifies socially conservative laws, then what is their objection to the welfare state? ...

If we are truly a free country and we meant what we said in the first amendment to our Constitution, then every individual, whether the most fundamentalist Christian or the most libertine atheist, should have the right to speak freely, even if what they say offends another person. For many devout Christians, it is their sacred duty to try to persuade their fellow man to repent of his sins and embrace Jesus as his savior.

However, there is an ocean of difference between persuasion and coercion. The minute that we say, “there ought to be a law,” we are picking up the sword. If we do so in defense of the inalienable human rights of life, liberty, and property, we are within our rightful authority. If we do so to supplant the authority of God, we become the very type of people that Jesus spent his life fighting against. To truly be Christian, we must recognize the need for “a wall of separation between church and state.” ...

Salvation must be chosen; God did not create a race of slaves.

As we celebrate the birth of this great libertarian, let us not forget the lesson of his life and death... Let us follow his example of speaking our minds according to our consciences but never raising our hand to save our brothers’ souls. Each one of us will ultimately find that our understanding of the will of God is imperfect, as we are imperfect. Therefore, we must follow Jesus’ example of tolerance and forgiveness, lest we find that we ourselves have mistakenly punished the innocent. Our laws should keep us from harming each other, and leave each person’s soul to the judgment of God.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Trying to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes

Some days it feels as if I am living two lives.

In one life, I'm William G. Starr, program writer for a _respectable_ company... The other life is lived in computers... in wonderland... trying to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

The Matrix -- Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How to change Washington's culture of spending

I just submitted the following idea to Republican Whip Eric Cantor, to assist Congress in identifying which program and spending cuts will help change Washington's culture of spending into a culture of savings.

Eric Cantor || Republican Whip || YouCut

Cut the defense budget. Get our per-capita spending on national defense in line with the rest of the world's developed nations. Close the overseas U.S. bases and bring our troops home and let them get to work in the private sector, providing goods and services that people are willing to pay for voluntarily.

Remember the wise counsel of John Quincy Adams:

"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

"She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom."

John Quincy Adams on U.S. Foreign Policy (1821)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Help restore Indiana to central time zone

I just sent the following message to my Indiana legislators and encourage others who would like to see Indiana restored to its natural time zone to do likewise.

From: Bill Starr
To: Senator Greg Walker; Representative Sean Eberhart
Cc: Representative Eric Allan Koch; Representative Milo Smith; Representative Phil Hinkle; BCSC Superintendent John Quick
Sent: Sun, September 5, 2010 6:14:20 PM
Subject: Help restore Indiana to central time zone

I want to encourage you to support measures to help restore Indiana to the central time zone.

One practical way to do this would be to support the resolution which Representative Phil Hinkle plans to introduce in the 2011 session to request the U.S. DOT to restore Indiana to its geographically correct time zone, as we were until 1961.

While a handful of sparsely-populated counties in southeast Indiana will probably continue observing the same time as Cincinnati and Louisville no matter what the rest of the state does, we could at least see the remaining 95% of the state restored to a single time zone once again.

Besides more equitably balancing the available daylight between those who prefer more light in the evenings and those who prefer more in the mornings, returning to central time also has the potential to improve morning safety and alertness for school children.

I noticed last Tuesday (August 31) that the school bus goes by our house at 6:37 am. Sunrise in Columbus that day was 7:11 am, so pickup time was prior to civil twilight and it was already quite dark out, and only getting worse as the fall progresses.

With DST, the natural sunrise time at Columbus latitude that day is about 6:28 am (e.g., see Philadelphia or St. Louis at the middle of the eastern and central time zones respectively).

On central time, the sunrise in Columbus Tuesday would have been 6:11 am, a lot closer to 6:28 am than 7:11 am is.

Central time would give Indiana school children a lot more days of waiting for the bus and walking to school in daylight rather than darkness.

And as long as Indiana continues observing DST with the rest of the country, the impact on business of switching from eastern back to central time is likely to be minimal, if not actually positive.

Thank you for your service to the citizens of Indiana.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 5 Sep 2010, 6:14 pm EDT

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Indiana time zone battle back in spotlight

Mark Ambrogi has a nice article at on the statewide meeting of the Central Time Coalition (CTC) at Monon Center in Carmel on Saturday, 28 August 2010.

Indiana time zone battle back in spotlight --

Judging by the quick posting of over 300 comments already since the article went up this morning, the time zone is still a matter of much interest to many Hoosiers.

In skimming through some of the comments, I see that there is still some misunderstanding over the difference between the separate, but related, issues of Daylight Saving Time (DST) and the time zone.

Just to be very clear, the CTC proposes continuing to observe DST along with most of the rest of the country and world, but restoring most of all of the state to the central time zone (with individual counties able to request continuing to observe eastern time, such as those in the Cincinnati and Louisville metropolitan areas).

The geographic center of the central time zone is 90 degrees west longitude, running north-south nearly through Peoria, Illinois -- about 215 miles due west of Indianapolis.

The geographic center of eastern time is 75 degrees west longitude, running through Philadelphia -- about 645 miles due east of Indy.

The natural dividing line between eastern and central time is 82.5 degrees, running through the middle of Ohio and down the eastern borders of Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Geographically, there is not a square inch of Indiana anywhere near the eastern time zone, the natural western edge of which lies near Columbus, Ohio -- about 175 miles east of Indy and about 100 miles east of Indiana's eastern border.

Before observing DST, Hoosiers on eastern standard time already had about 45 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening year-round. During the 7.8 months of DST, those Hoosiers on eastern time now have an additional 60 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening, resulting in unnaturally late sunrises and sunsets compared to most other locations at our latitude.

Some folks talk about wanting to put a time zone referendum on the Indiana ballot. According to the following IndyStar article, a non-binding statewide referendum was conducted in 1956, asking voters their preference on Eastern versus Central time and whether to use daylight-saving time in the summer months.

A Brief History of Time (in Indiana)

"The only clear consensus that emerges is that most oppose the 'double-fast time' that would result from being on Eastern Standard Time and switching to Eastern Daylight Time in the summer."

Ironically, this is exactly what we ended up with some 50 years later.

Some who favor staying on eastern time are concerned about the early winter darkness we would have with central time. On central time, the earliest sunset in Indy would be 4:20 pm for the first two weeks of December. When it actually gets dark is around civil twilight, which is about 4:45 pm.

This only seems earlier than normal because the eastern time zone Indiana counties have not experienced "normal" winter sunsets since about 1961. "Normal" for Indiana's latitude is what you see at the middle of any time zone due east or west of us. At those locations, the "normal" early December sunset time is about 4:30 to 4:35 pm (Philadelphia, Peoria, Denver, Reno). So a 4:20 sunset on central time is more nearly normal for our latitude than 5:20.

The problem with eastern time for farmers is not the farming itself, but the evening activities such as childrens' sports, school board meetings, etc. that cut into the farmer's work day an hour more on eastern time than they would on central time.

On the 23rd page of comments, josefK wrote (perhaps tongue in cheek) that he supports Newfoundland time. Ironically, everyone whose clocks are set to Eastern Daylight Time (UTC - 4 hours) is observing the natural clock time (Local Mean Time) of Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada (60 degrees longitude).

One thing never much mentioned is that many people have the schedule flexibility to shift more of their daylight to the end of the day regardless of what time the government tells us to set our clocks to. For example, the city of Columbus, Indiana has an 8 am to 5 pm schedule during the school year and switches to a 7-to-4 schedule during the summer break. Many businesses could do the same thing, effectively doing the same thing DST does, but on a voluntary, local basis, for those that want less daylight in the morning and more in the evening.

If or when Indiana is restored to its natural time zone of Central, any business whose employees want to have the same amount of evening daylight as they have now can simply move their day shift schedule an hour earlier. So instead of working 8 to 5 eastern daylight time, they can work 7 to 4 central daylight time and employees can have the exact same amount of daylight after work as they have now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Musings on old books, bookstores, and phone numbers

Wow. Way too long since I've been here. Twitter and Facebook seem to capture most of my online writing efforts recently.

I was just making a note in a Facebook comment about thinking that I have a copy of "The Law" by Frédéric Bastiat when I got up to check my bookshelf.

I didn't find "The Law", but realized that I have two paperback copies of "None Dare Call it Treason" by John Stormer (1964).

The covers look identical. One is a used copy I bought somewhere (probably online) on 19 October 2002. It was the 20th printing, one of a run of 1,000,000 in October 1964.

The other is more interesting. It has my dad's name inside the front cover, in his own hand. It is the 11th printing, one of 400,000 in the third printing of July 1964. I see by my penciled notation that I finished reading it on 3 December 1995.

The faded inked stamps on the title page indicate it was distributed by American Opinion Library at 1514 North Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, Indiana. I believe that American Opinion libraries and bookstores were an early distribution method for John Birch Society materials.

The phone number was MElrose 5-2891 = ME 5-2891. Today, we would know it as 635-3891, but that was back in the days when the first two characters were letters that stood for some recognizable geographical feature of the neighborhood with those phone numbers. Maybe this was associated with Melrose Avenue not far away.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Princess Bride" and Obama's press conference on oil spill cleanup

The following parallel came to mind today while listening to the President's press conference on the Gulf oil spill.

Princess Bride excerpt

Prince Humperdinck: Every ship in my armada waits to accompany us on our honeymoon.
Buttercup: Every ship but your four fastest, you mean. Every ship but the four you sent.
Humperdinck: Yes. Yes, of course. Naturally not those four.
Buttercup:  You never sent the ships. Don't bother lying. Doesn't matter.

Thu, 27 May 2010 Obama press conference excerpt

President Obama: We will hold BP accountable for every last penny of damages.
Injured parties: Every penny except for the billions of dollars that exceed the $75 million cap on liability the U.S. government grants to oil companies, you mean. Every penny but the ones you excluded.
Obama: Yes. Yes, of course. Naturally not the billions of dollars we excluded by the federal cap on liability.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dr. Brester and the value of professional licensing

Following is a letter to the editor I just submitted.

For additional background, the following Google search links to a handful of current news articles on this story.

brester "bean blossom" OR "brown co OR county" incompetence - Google Search

From:  Bill Starr
To: Bob Gustin;
Sent: Sun, May 23, 2010 8:40:04 PM
Subject: Letter to the editor: Brester and professional licensing

From a pro-liberty perspective, most of the recent articles I have read about the beleaguered Brown County veterinarian, Dr. Brester, have served to reinforce questions I have about the role of professional licensing in today's society.

Specifically, why have we as a society vested so much weight on professional licensing?

In the practice of veterinary medicine, as with just about any other business venture, the power of word-of-mouth referrals and complaints is about as powerful a form of business regulation as one could imagine or hope for.

The businesses that provide a useful and desirable product or service at a reasonable price quickly enjoy new and repeat business, as long as they continue to please their customers. Conversely, those which are perceived to provide an inferior or overpriced service are apt to receive less new and repeat business. This voluntary, free-market form of regulation is a great alternative to that which government proposes to furnish us at our expense.

As have many animal owners, our family has made use of Dr. Brester's services for our pet cats and dog on multiple occasions. Based on word-of-mouth referrals from friends, and then on our own experience, we have voluntarily exchanged payment for services that we have found to be worth our money.

It seems odd that, as a society, we would place more weight on the opinion of a handful of people working on behalf of the government than we would on the cumulative opinion of all of the past and present satisfied customers who have been very pleased with the value they have received in exchange for the money they voluntarily exchanged for Dr. Brester's service.

A simple Google search reveals a number of convincing articles that show that state regulation, licensing, and certification is often as much about protecting established businesses from competition as about genuine concern for the welfare of customers of would-be new, competing businesses.

As just one example, the following article points out, "while the promise of occupational regulation is great, research shows that it is rarely fulfilled... These regulations typically raise the price of services without significantly raising service quality... One of the most well-known effects of occupational licensing and regulation is reduced competition."

Does Occupational Licensing Protect Consumers? | The Freeman | Ideas On Liberty

The closing line from this article expresses my convictions on the matter quite well.

"The best way to protect consumer health and safety would be to let them choose their own services in a free market."

It's time to ask our state legislators to consider rolling back overzealous occupational licensing.

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 23 May 2010, 8:40 pm EDT

You have my permission and encouragement to publish this as a letter to the editor.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My input to the Indiana GOP 2010 platform committee

The Indiana Republican Party is soliciting input from Hoosiers on the content of their 2010 platform, at the following web page (up to 10,000 characters).

Online Platform Committee Testimony

Following is the testimony I just submitted.

Following are my recommendations of things that would be worthwhile to consider keeping, dropping, adding, or modifying in the 2010 Indiana Republican Party platform.

It would make the platform more consistent from one election year to the next to focus less on specific Republican candidates and officeholders and more on issues.

Put in a plank calling for the general assembly and governor to petition the U.S. DOT to return Indiana to the central time zone. This would align well with Governor Daniels' efforts to protect children, by reducing the number of fall, winter, and spring days our state's children have to walk to school or wait for school buses in the morning darkness.

Urge the state government to get out of picking winners and losers in the energy business through tax incentives and subsidies. Let the free market lead the way to the best solutions, as directed by consumers, and private entrepreneurs and investors. Let ethanol and other biofuels stand or fall on their own merits in the free market.

It may be time to recognize that stiff laws against private adult use of recreational drugs has been a great waste of taxpayer money and otherwise productive lives. Let's look back to our country's failed history with prohibition of the recreational drug of alcohol and follow the lead of our forefathers who made peace with the peaceful, private, adult use of this drug.

Let's acknowledge that our country can ill afford the costs of global empire, and urge our federal government to follow the foreign policy advice of John Quincy Adams:

"Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." --John Quincy Adams (1821)

It seems time to start floating the concept of separation of marriage and state. Government approval and licensure of marriage is a relatively recent development, with a somewhat sordid history of being instituted to try to prohibit interracial marriages by the force of government. If government started getting itself out of the business of dictating who can and cannot marry, and returned the responsibility of authorizing marriage back to God and the church, this could help to defuse the present divisive discourse over whose definition of marriage gets official government approval.

Ensure that all Indiana citizens serving on criminal juries are reminded that Article 1, Section 19 of the Indiana constitution provides that "in all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts."

It would be good to add support for the concept of free markets.

It might be worthwhile to consider expanding the Indiana platform to address some of the following issues addressed by the 2008 Texas GOP platform. This would help provide more detailed guidance to local, state, and national elected officials and candidates on the expectations Hoosier Republicans have for them.

We respect and cherish the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and our Founders’ intent to restrict the power of the federal government over the states and the people.

We believe that a well-educated population is fundamental to the continued success of our Republic; and that parents have the right, as well as the duty, to direct their children’s education. This right should include choices among public, private, home and religious schools. Competition improves education. We support choice in public education and believe that quality education is best achieved by encouraging parental involvement, protecting parental rights, and maximizing local control.

We encourage the Governor and the Legislature to enact child-centered school funding options – which fund the student, not schools or districts – to allow maximum freedom of choice in public, private or parochial education for all children.

The Federal Government has no constitutional jurisdiction over education. We call for abolition of the U. S. Department of Education and prohibition of transfer of any of its functions to any other agency.

We urge the Legislature to require cities and counties to exempt private school students from daytime curfew ordinances. We oppose Juvenile Daytime Curfew which puts undue stress on students who have a legitimate reason to be out of school and their parents.

We support objective teaching and equal treatment of strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories, including Intelligent Design. We believe theories of life origins and environmental theories should be taught as scientific theory, not scientific law. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind.

We support state sovereignty reserved under the Tenth Amendment and oppose mandates beyond the scope of federal authority. We further support abolition of federal agencies involved in activities not originally delegated to the federal government under a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

We understand most crime is local, and the states reserve law enforcement authority under the Tenth Amendment.

We oppose any constitutional convention [ aka con-con ] to rewrite the United States Constitution. We demand the Legislature rescind its 1977 call for such a convention. We call upon other states to rescind their votes for such a convention. [ Indiana’s call for a con-con may have been a different year. ]

The Republican Party believes in equal opportunity for all American citizens without regard to race or gender. To that end, we oppose affirmative action.

We support limiting the definition of eminent domain to exclude seizing private property for public or private economic development or for increased tax revenues.

We oppose a mandatory national animal identification system requiring registration of all animals, of animal owners and their properties, including GPS coordinates. We urge repeal of HB 1361.

We urge change of the Internal Revenue Code to allow a religious organization to address issues without fear of losing its tax-exempt status. We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send government any personal information about their contributors.

We support judges who strictly interpret the law based on its original intent. We oppose judges who assume for themselves legislative powers.

We support the Electoral College.

We urge immediate repeal of the McCain-Feingold [campaign finance "reform"] Act.

We support reducing the time, bureaucratic interference and cost of adoption.

We support market-based, private sector initiatives to improve the portability, quality and affordability of healthcare. We support consumer choice of providers. Free market principles and competition shall be encouraged in health care, especially allowing each trained health care professional to practice to the extent of their education.

We deplore any efforts to mandate that vitamins and other natural supplements be on a prescription–only basis, and we oppose any efforts to remove vitamins and other nutritional supplements from public sale. We support the rights of all adults to their choice of nutritional products.

All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. We oppose any effort by any authority to mandate such vaccines or any medical database that would contain personal records of citizens without their consent.

We urge repeal of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Law. Those who assault peaceful protesters acting under the Constitution should be vigorously prosecuted. Picketing and literature distribution do not fall under the RICO Act.

We oppose seizure of private property without due process. Neither law enforcement agencies nor their parent organizations should be allowed to benefit from such seizures.

We support downsizing of the federal government in order to re-establish states’ rights. We further support abolishing agencies whose activities are not delegated to them under original intent of the Constitution.

We oppose taxes levied and regulations imposed based on the alleged threat of global warming.

Every worker should have freedom to work in their preferred job without being forced to join or pay dues to any organization.

We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

We support having only local control over our police forces.

We favor fair international trade. We oppose taxation and regulation of American industry that makes American products uncompetitive. We oppose free trade expansion at the expense of national security and sovereignty. We call for withdrawal from agreements that compromise our sovereignty and security.

We believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of the United States that we immediately rescind our membership in, as well as all financial and military contributions to, the United Nations.

Respectfully submitted,
Bill Starr
Bartholomew County
Columbus, Indiana
Sun, 25 Apr 2010, 9:58 pm EDT

For reference, following are pages which have links to the 2008 Indiana and Texas GOP platforms.

The Indiana Republican Party - Documents

Republican Party of Texas - Strength. Freedom. Prosperity.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

What's on my Sony e-book reader so far

Perhaps some might find it of interest to know which 244 free e-books I have found it worthwhile so far to load onto my Sony PRS-300 digital book reader since Christmas 2009.

I have often renamed the original file. Sometimes the author's name is before the title and sometimes after.

If anyone is interested in tracking down the source of any of these free e-books, just let me know and I'll try to remember.

dir /s /b f:\*.epub f:\*.pdf | sort | perl -lpe " s{^.*\\}{}; "

Adams - The Education of Henry Adams.epub
Bastiat - The Law.epub
Cooper - The Last of the Mohicans.epub
Franklin - The Articles of Confederation.epub
Jefferson - Declaration of Independence.epub
Madison - The United States Constitution.epub
Marx - Manifesto of the Communist Party.epub
Mill - On Liberty.epub
Mill - Utilitarianism.epub
Paine - Common Sense.epub
Publius - The Federalist Papers.epub
Rand - Anthem.epub
Raymond - The Cathedral and the Bazaar.epub
Smith - An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.epub
Sun Tzu - The Art of War.epub
Thoreau - On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.epub
Thoreau - Walden.epub
Williams - Free As In Freedom.epub

04/08/2010, 18:20:39.98 

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Common Core State Standards Initiative

If you have any thoughts on the Common Core State [educational] Standards initiative, they are open for public comment until Friday, 2 April 2010.

Common Core State Standards Initiative

Here are the comments I provided.

I am opposed to national standards for education, no matter how well thought out, from a couple of perspectives.

From a Constitutional perspective, education is not one of the enumerated powers of the federal government, and is clearly one of the many areas for which the entire responsibility falls to the states and the people.

Second, in any area, including education, in which the federal government sets standards, we lose some of the benefit of having 50 or more varying approaches in a real-life laboratory, so to speak, competing with each other to see which best serves the educational needs of students.

Third, and perhaps related to the second, the more that school curricula are driven by the people who are the primary stakeholders in all education -- the parents and the local communities -- the better.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) also has some thoughts here:

HSLDA: Common Core State Standards Initiative

and here:

HSLDA—Is Congress Moving Toward Nationalized Standards?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Letter to Wal-Mart regarding employee firing for medical marijuana use

I just submitted the following message to Wal-Mart via their corporate website ( Feedback).


My family and I are very regular customers of your store at 735 Whitfield Drive in Columbus, Indiana.

I was disappointed to read the following stories of your firing of Joseph Casias, 2008 Associate of the Year at your store in Battle Creek, Michigan, because he used medical marijuana for the relief of pain from his sinus cancer and brain tumor.

Wal-Mart Fires Associate Of Year, Cancer Patient For Medical Marijuana

Let’s Teach Wal-Mart A Lesson About Medical Marijuana

It would not surprise me if there is more to this situation than was reported in those stories, but the following points nevertheless apply.

I have never used marijuana in my life, but it bothers me no more to hear that one of your associates uses marijuana for pain relief than it would to hear that they were on any other form of prescription pain medicine.

As long as they serve me safely, courteously, and efficiently while at work, I care about as little whether Wal-Mart associates use marijuana in the privacy of their own home as I do about whether they have a glass of wine with their dinner or smoke a cigarette on their break.

I urge you to consider re-evaluating your corporate policies on this matter.

Bill Starr
Sat, 27 Mar 2010, 4:04 pm EDT

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Letter to the editor: Time to consider central time again

I just submitted the following letter to the editor of "The Republic" in Columbus, Indiana.

Exclusive extra online example at the end.

By the way, I see that this is my 1,800th blog post.

Published Tuesday, 16 March 2010.

Solar transit reveals DST problems (bottom of page; subscription may be required to view)

To: Bob Gustin
Sent: Sun, March 14, 2010 3:07:34 PM
Subject: Letter to the editor: Time to consider central time again

It would be interesting to have the solar transit listed with the daily sun/moon times in the daily paper.

The transit occurs at midday, when the sun is most directly overhead. Half the daylight for the day is behind and half remains.

This time also represents the amount of additional evening daylight that day due to the combined effect of daylight saving time and observing eastern time.

For example, on the first day of eastern DST (Sunday, 14 March 2010), the solar transit [ for Columbus, Indiana ] is at 1:53 pm. That's one hour and 53 minutes daylight shifted from morning to evening. 60 minutes is the nominal amount of daylight shifted by DST from morning to evening.

If we were back on central time with DST (which Indiana observed till the early 1960s), we'd still have 53 minutes of daylight shifted from morning to evening today. I'm among those who feel that 53 minutes of extra evening daylight is quite close enough to 60, without having to give up almost a second hour of daylight in the mornings.

If you feel likewise, I encourage you to join me in urging Indiana's legislators and governor to petition the USDOT to put Indiana back on central time.

If the paper decides not to add the midday time to its daily stats, here is a link to the U.S. Naval Observatory page where you can check the transit time for yourself.
Complete Sun and Moon Data for One Day: U.S. Cities and Towns — Naval Oceanography Portal

Bill Starr
Columbus, Indiana

Extra example for the online edition.

There are 11 hours 52 minutes from sunrise to sunset in Indianapolis today (Sun, 14 Mar 2010).

Dividing that in half would give 5 hours 56 minutes before midday and the same after.

If midday were at noon, that would give a sunrise time of 6:04 am and a sunset time of 5:56 pm.

If one hour of sun were shifted from morning to evening, that would give Indy a sunrise time of 7:04 am, transit (sun overhead) at 1:00 pm and sunset at 6:56 pm.

Now let's see which time zone puts us closer to these figures.

On central daylight time, the sun would rise and set at 6:58 am and 6:50 pm, only 6 minutes short of the nominal shift of 60 minutes of daylight from morning to evening.

On eastern daylight time, the sun rises and sets at 7:58 am and 7:50 pm. This is nearly two hours of daylight shifted from morning to evening. No wonder our grandparents called EDT "double-fast time".