Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Saturday, 2024.07.13
Vote anarchist.


The Last Post

Colorado Sunset
(Click on image for larger version.)

This is likely my last post to Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud.

I’m not capping the inkwell for good, blogging is just too intoxicating for that to happen. But it is time to take a bit of a break from blogging and ponder the move to other interests -  written and otherwise. It has served the purpose I intended, namely to help me hone my thinking and writing, experiment with ideas, sort out interests and find my voice.

The genesis of this blog goes back to a time before things called blogs even existed. Starting with the “Friday Humor Break” in the late ’90, these were once a week snippets sent out by email meant to put a smile on a small circle of friends and family. As the distribution list grew, it became unwieldy and posts to web pages became the logical extension. Then, a more efficient way to post became necessary. By that time, blogs were happening and a number of content management systems tailored to blogging were available. And so here we are, Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud on WordPress.

For the most part, this has been a lot of fun. I’m certain a few visitors have benefited from the posts here at JZ:TOL, particularly in regard to the posts related to my late wife, Janet. But I must say, I have been the principle beneficiary. I have learned more than I thought I would and gained unexpected insights in more ways than can be counted. Perhaps most important among these are that blogs are indeed powerful platforms from which to speak and, because of that power, demand a great deal of responsibility from the authors.

By the posts here on JZ:TOL, I was able to shine light on the incompetent dealings of Cherubim Foundation’s board of directors and recoup $2,000 from a sloppy businessman that otherwise would have been permanently lost. While crafting each of the posts related to these and other issues, I was challenged to think clearly and carefully, for what I wrote could, and did, effect the lives of quite a few other people.

I’ve always considered myself to be honest and truthful. Even so, deciding to do battle on the web where it’s easy to acquire a false sense of righteousness, anonymity and immunity, such ideals are put to the test. It is tempting to throw mud and, on occasion, I’ve thrown such mud in unpublished posts. Patience and the ability to cool down have been two more lessons from my experience with this blog.

So what is next? The plan is to create a new blog location and focus on essays and longer posts which develop ideas. I don’t follow the news close enough to be successful at hit-and-get posting. There are many other blogs which excel with that approach. My writing is more suited to deeper analysis than it is to responding to current events. Too many times, something exciting would be happening, my mind would be fully engaged in joining the fray and by the time I actually had time to post, the event was old news. And I’m talking here about days, not months. Such is the way of the Internet. Things change fast and the focus of interest shifts.

When I’ve figured out where I’ve landed, I’ll add an update to this post. Well, that’s enough for now. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Be Well and C’ya,

Gregory Engel


Changes to the Blog Roll

I’ve endeavored to include on my blog roll a diverse spectrum which represents (that is to say, isn’t comprehensive) the various points on the blogosphere compass I scan. I certainly don’t agree with all the points of view expressed by the links on my blog roll. However, experience has taught me that familiarity with multiple points of view on a particular subject is the basis for what qualifies as “well informed.”

There are, however, positions for which I have no tolerance and several of the links on my blog roll have crossed the line into this zone.

The first to go is Ann Coulter. While I’ve admired her chutzpah and irreverent tenacity for saying out loud what I hear many people whispering in private, she crossed the line with her inane defense of a white supremacist hate group and whining about the “racist” tag with which they’ve been labeled.

The second to go is Robert Spencer. I’ve appreciated the insights from several of his books and numerous blog posts on But his failure to unequivocally dissociate himself from a group of white nationalists advocating the expulsion of all Muslims from Turkey is a step across the line. There are other odd behaviors on display by Mr. Spencer which precipitated his removal from my blog roll here at JZ:TOL. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Spencer appears to be undermining his own previous good works.

I believe we are challenged with finding solutions to many brutal and barbaric threats both here and abroad. However, the successful solutions WILL NOT involve regressing to the point of replicating past atrocities and implementing equally barbaric “solutions” via a “means justify the ends” paradigm. They don’t.

Race supremacy and genocide are not the lessons a healthy, free and civilized nation finds in history and chooses to carry forward. They are as far to one side of the spectrum of solutions as “diplomatic” solutions are to the other. Finding, and acting on, a solution will require creativity and backbone. Sliding back into the mire of dark age thinking is not something I can support, regardless the point on the compass from which it originates.

[Edit History]

2009.02.20 – 09:40

Received the following email purporting to be from Robert Spencer:

Subject: Message from Java Zen:TOL Visitor
From: “Robert Spencer” <>
Date: Thu, February 19, 2009 2:33 pm

Robert Spencer wrote:
To whom it may concern: Please be aware that the material you have repeated here
from “Guftafs”, Charles Johnson and Kejda Gjermani is false and
libelous. I have no ties to white nationalist or Turkish irredentist groups, and
am investigating the possibility of legal action against the parties named

Robert Spencer


I certainly hope clarity is brought to this situation. I’ll be watching…

2009.02.20 – 11:35

Fixed an error in Spencer’s email introduced when I stripped out the HTML escape codes for double quotes.

It appears this post has been linked on LGF (Thanks?) and I’m receiving email with some interesting points and questions. I’ll respond when I have more time. The irony is receiving a decent burst of traffic on a dormant blog after I take something away. Idea for next post: a blank page!

2009.02.20 – 14:40

I’ve had a little time to look deeper into the message purportedly sent by Robert Spencer. While I’ve taken measures to guard against spoofed messages, I certainly can’t claim such measures are perfect. What I’ve found in the server logs looks to be rather straightforward, however, the IP address captured by WordPress has left some doubt and I want to be certain. So I’ve attempted to follow up with Mr. Spencer in regard to the authenticity of the email received yesterday. I’ll post any findings.

Also, fixed several spelling errors and cleaned up some grammar.

2009.02.20 – 16:37

Well, so much for that…

Subject: Re: Message received at Java Zen Blog
From: “Robert Spencer”
Date: Fri, February 20, 2009 4:12 pm

Please contact my attorney:

The Becker Law Firm
11500 Olympic Blvd., Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 636-1018
Fax: (310) 765-6328

On Feb 20, 2009, at 4:39 PM, Gregory Engel wrote:

> Hello,
> I received the following message yesterday via the contact form on my
> blog, “Thinking Out Loud.” The message author claims to be Robert
> Spencer.
> While I have taken measures to filter out spoofed messages, I never
> assume
> the filters to be perfect. Can this message be confirmed as having
> come
> from Robert Spencer at
> Regards,
> Gregory Engel

(The message shown previously was attached.)

I have no plans to contact Mr. Spencer’s attorney. Neither do I plan to pursue this issue further. What I will say is that Mr. Spencer’s statement that he has “no ties to white nationalist or Turkish irredentist groups” is not the same as rejecting the methods and goals of such groups. I have no ties to any groups or organizations who deify the color purple, but that does little to clarify whether I support or oppose the color purple.

As I said, I’ll continue to watch how events unfold.

2009.02.23 – 05:00

The header from the email received from Mr. Spencer in response to my confirmation request shows:

Received: by (Postfix, from userid 2005)
id D676878269E; Fri, 20 Feb 2009 16:12:38 -0700 (MST)
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.2.5 (2008-06-10) on
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-2.0 required=5.0 tests=BAYES_00,RDNS_NONE,
WHOIS_DMNBYPROXY autolearn=no version=3.2.5
Received: from (unknown [])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 6356978269E
for ; Fri, 20 Feb 2009 16:12:38 -0700 (MST)
Received: from ([]:63377 helo=new-host.home)
by with esmtpa (Exim 4.69)
(envelope-from )
id 1LaeXn-0001oL-Oo; Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:12:31 -0500
From: Robert Spencer
In-Reply-To: <>
Subject: Re: Message received at Java Zen Blog
X-Priority: 3 (Normal)
References: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v930.3)
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2009 18:12:37 -0500
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.930.3)
X-AntiAbuse: This header was added to track abuse, please include it with any abuse report
X-AntiAbuse: Primary Hostname –
X-AntiAbuse: Original Domain –
X-AntiAbuse: Originator/Caller UID/GID – [47 12] / [47 12]
X-AntiAbuse: Sender Address Domain –

It contains the same IP address as captured by WordPress from the original email message sent via the contact form on JZ:TOL, namely, This increases my confidence that the original email message was indeed from Mr. Spencer.

Now, to respond to several emails received from visitors…

Mel Sherwood writes,

“It seems to me that Spencer [sic] defense was more than adequate. It was an oversight on his part, a bit of carelessness, that is all. You never did something careless, eh?”

It is a silly syllogism to excuse Mr. Spencer’s specific “carelessness” of allowing himself to be associated with groups espousing repulsive goals to the notion that I have been careless at any point within the context of my entire life. There are degrees of carelessness to consider. Carelessly leaving the bathroom light on all day hardly compares with carelessly leaving a loaded handgun on the merry-go-round at an elementary school playground.

Yes, I’ve been careless in the past, but such acts have not been egregious and most likely have occurred in contexts where I am ignorant, inadequately trained or do not claim to be an expert. In contexts where I have training or claim to be a professional or expert, carelessness is virtually nonexistent. And if it does occur in such contexts, it is trivial. This is what is puzzling about Mr. Spencer’s behavior. He definitely should know better and if he has been “careless” then his refutation should be commensurate with the magnitude of his “carelessness.” If Mr. Sherwood is comfortable excusing Mr. Spencer’s behavior as careless, then that reveals much about Mr. Sherwood. The fire of responsibility to which I choose to hold people (myself included) accountable, it would seem, is much hotter than Mr. Sherwood finds comfortable. In this case, “Ooops” doesn’t withstand the heat. Mr. Sherwood and I will have to agree to disagree. I find Mr. Spencer’s explanation, at least so far, less than adequate. And I do hope that changes.

Anti Jihad writes:

“Let me ask you a question. Your blog has a link to the Democratic Underground, which has had posters that have supported terrorist attacks in Iraq, and it also has a link to the Daily Kos which has had articles by groups that appease jihad and apologize for Jihadist groups. Should we judge Java Zen based on that? I think your attacks on Robert Spencer are pointless and contradictory on the larger challenge that we need in defending equality and liberty. I am just pointing out that someone could easily smear your web site the same way, using the same tactics. And it would be wrong then too.”

Geesh. Well, this is my blog and Anti Jihad can cry if he wants to. If the simple act of removing a link to a web site qualifies as an “attack” or “smearing” in Anti Jihad’s mind, then I can only hope he develops thicker skin over time.

Mr. Spencer has positioned himself as an expert in Islam and jihad. The content and message of his web site is under his control. This is not the case with Democratic Underground or Daily Kos. There are no experts running those sites, except of the self-proclaimed variety, and they appear to be little more than sounding boards for the Left/Far Left’s position. And that’s why they’re on the blog roll. (Hint: you find similar links for the Right/Far Right.) The blog roll on JZ:TOL contains a mix of both broad and specific viewpoints from both individuals and organizations. That’s how I chose to structure it. It isn’t all one thing and Anti Jihad’s narrow reaction serves as an example for why that’s the case.

Let me try illustrating it this way. Let’s say I had a link to an automobile safety web site run by a race car driver, Speedy Joe. He has excellent advice, knows his stuff, doesn’t pull punches and writes well. Then one day he “carelessly” associates with a group advocating the immediate roadside execution of careless drivers who take up two parking spaces. Well, I may or may not choose to read Speedy Joe’s web site in the future, but I will certainly no longer recommend his site to others. (Note for those currently pumped up on adrenaline: This is an intentionally absurd example for the benefit of black and white thinkers needing help with shades of gray.)

And remember, I removed the link to Ann Coulter’s site as well for similar reasons. She is in control of the content and message of her web site. If Anti Jihad wishes to take exception to a falsely perceived contradiction on JZ:TOL’s blog roll, then where is his defense of Ann Coulter? I don’t expect one to be forthcoming. As he said, it is the “larger challenge that we need in defending equality and liberty” that counts. But as I said before, the ends do not justify the means.

I can assure my readers, if any other individuals with sites are currently linked on the JZ:TOL blog roll cross such a line, they, too, will be unlinked.


Blog Haiku #29

Watching the stars, shine.
Warm Summer evening air, still.
Dog wants to play, NOW!


What A Difference A Door Makes


I’ve wanted a new front door for 14 years. It was always on the plan…for next year. It closed. It locked…mostly. And there was always some other priority. Usually something cancer related. So it stayed. Today, that changed. Before…

And after (but still untrimmed and unpainted)…

For the first time ever, my front hall is filled with natural light in the evening. It makes it look and feel more like a home than it has in near 4 years. Maybe there is hope yet for this house of busted dreams.

[Edit History]


Fixed typos and grammar.


You Know It’s Summer When…

…you’ve spent the day with excellent friends, grilling burgers, drinking beer, sailing at 9,000 feet in the heart of the Rockies, watching Bald Eagles fly and celebrating this great nations birthday.

To get things going, no Fourth of July is off to a proper start without first giving room to the obligatory flag wearing, skateboard riding pit bull to show his stuff.

And there must be a parade.

Then it’s time for an afternoon of sailing on the Tangent (many, Many, MANY thanks to Bruce and Angie!)

And non-stop, drop your jaw, Rocky Mountain Awesomeness…

Of course, the day could only be finished with an awesome fireworks display over Dillon Reservoir.


Blog Haiku #28

This, a pristine tear
Made for a cheek, blushed and raw
To find a way home.


What’s Wrong With This Picture

I really liked this framed set of prints:

But something about the piano really bugged me. Something didn’t look right and it took a minute to key into it (hint, there.) First I thought the guy playing the piano was inordinately small. Then it struck me (another hint). The keyboard is too big. Looking at the enlarged print…

…reveals 117 keys, plus or minus one, and not the usual 88 keys. OK, so it’s “art”, but I’m a musician and things like this have to be closer to accurate than not if the mood of the image in this particular case is to be believable. Picasso or Salvador Dali can go all cubie and bendy to their artistic heart’s delight. But that’s not the style here. I have to wonder if the artist ever really saw a piano in person. Unfortunately, with something like 30 extra keys, it makes the print look a bit cartoonish. No sale.


Wednesday Morning Rose Explosion


The Bungee Email Safety Feature

I proposed this idea in various conversations something like 10 years ago, before there were blogs and such. Perhaps it’s time to voice it again in this forum where any techno-entrepreneur can stumble upon it and, if we’re all lucky, run with it to some success.

Today, for the third time in as many weeks, I was the recipient of an email regretfully sent just nanoseconds after the “Send” button had been clicked. (Today’s blunder, it must be stated, was exacerbated by the “Reply All” button, but I don’t have a solution to that problem.) None rose above the level of “Major Oooops”, but we’ve all heard stories where such events have ended careers, relationships and governments to small countries. (Just kidding about that last one.)

For people caught up in the anger of the moment, too drunk to practice self restraint in front of a keyboard or those who just can’t get the hang of thinking about consequences, I propose The Bungee Email Safety Feature.

It’s simple. If you’re one of those people who feel a strong, irresistible urge to defiantly, compulsively, decidedly or with malice of forethought click the “Send” button regardless (you know who you are), then this safety feature is for you. The way it works is the email client would have a setting whereby a user could specify a number of minutes/hours/days (depending on a particular users safety threshold) that have to pass before any and all email messages they “send” are actually released into the wild. After clicking the “Send” button, their messages would sit safely in the send queue until such time the wait period had passed.

With this feature, once the sender has cooled off, found wisdom or sobered up, he can easily open up his send queue and disarm the ticking time bomb placed there prior to having attained enlightenment. And, of course, if he decides to send that message anyway, he can always cut the bungee chord. Sometimes, there’s satisfaction in that as well.


Who’s Boat Is This, Anyway?

“Running your own blog” is a relative phrase. For most bloggers, the meaning doesn’t go beyond authoring the posts and monitoring the comments. Having the password to the admin page constitutes “running their own blog.” But if you’re hosting your blog with some vendor, such as blogspot or wordpress, that’s a bit like renting a cabin on a cruse ship and feeling like it’s your boat to command. If the crew decides they don’t like you, they just might lock you in your cabin. Perhaps even throw you overboard.

This looks to be what is happening to several pro-Hillary, anti-Obama blogs over at Google’s blogspot. Assuming some other explanation doesn’t emerge from these suspicious coincidences, it’s another showing of Google’s increasingly obvious political bias. Their anti-American bend has long been on display since they acquired YouTube – jihadist and US soldier snuff videos a-plenty, pro-American videos…not so much.

Stories such as this serve as a reminder as to why I accept the extra work required to run the server on which this blog is hosted. It’s my boat. And if some pouty elitists with a leash to a Google Goon get tied up in knots over the content, best they can do is sail on by…or break the law.

[Edit History]


More on this from the New York Times which, oddly, has this in the “Technology” section.


Lily Of The Day


Paper Wars

Turns out Eric Scheie and I are fighting the same battle today. My efforts are far more modest than Eric’s, involving one puny schredder and a few garbage bags. Still, there is a lot of paper I HAVE to keep, mostly related to Janet’s psychotherapy practice. Stuff I can’t distroy for a few years yet due to some rather vague legal reason. Ack. Nonetheless, I toss what I can.

What’s interesting about the battle in Eric’s trench is he apperently gets far mor junk mail than I. He quotes from these folks:

“The amount of paper junk mail sent each year in the USA is staggering — some 4 million tons, nearly half of which is never opened.”

The most staggering thing about that statistic, assuming it’s true, is that of those 4 million tons, over half of it actually is opened.

Who are these people?


Mythological Facts In Dispute

I’m not a believer in astrology, in the sense that I find it at all useful for solving problems. But it is entertaining and kinda fun. Stumbled upon this entry in Wikipedia this morning, actually captures the essence:

It’s the “factual accuracy” that is disputed. I’ve been wanting to ask an astrologist what happened to the art when Pluto was downgraded? Or what about the other planets that were discovered in the galaxy. And arn’t they neglecting the influence of other large objects moving about in vacuums like astroids and Michael Moore?

I’m just askin’…


Blog Haiku #27

Brilliant rays shine
Summer solstice marks the shift
Cold wind bites my cheek


Blog Haiku #26

Fierce and ferocious,
The sky pummels a thirsty road.
Flowers bloom with thanks.

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