Lake Superior, in the United States, is considered the largest fresh-water lake in the world, when considering total surface area (31,700 square miles) . It is not only the largest lake in North America, but its water volume exceeds the total of all the other Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan & Erie) combined.
The name Lake Superior was Anglicized by the British from the French designation “le lac superieur” meaning “the highest lake.” French explorers gave it that appellation since it extended geographically North of the others.
The true name of this massive glacial inland sea is, in Ojibwa Gichigami, or to the Anishaabe, Gichiami, depending on which group of the Ojibwa/Algonquin people you consult. I first heard this as a wee lad when my mother would read to me of a hero who live with his grandmother, Nokomis.
Illustration by Felix Octavius Carr “F. O. C.” Darley (June 23, 1822 – March 27, 1888)
From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha
By the shore of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him, through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
We are individuals, each our own person in various ways. We perceive pain differently. What may be agony to one person is, for another, a tolerable discomfort to be conquered.
While I do some cycling for exercise, I look at what the riders on each year’s version of the Tour de France endure (2,000+ miles over 23 days; sprints at 50-60 MPH mixed with endless rides up the mountains of the Alps and the Pyrenees) and I simply don’t see how they do it.
We have different tolerances for alcohol, noise, crowds, disorder. This is all part of what makes us a species with remarkably varied levels of tolerance.
Today, when checking the news wires, I was struck by another area in which we seemingly have vast differences in taste and tolerance – the level at which we judge someone to be a stark-raving lunatic.
Perpetually orange/tan Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told a group of Florida real estate agents last Friday that he has been personally placing, or having someone else place, a prayer in the Western Wall of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem once a year since he became Florida’s governor.
Commonly referred to as “The Wailing Wall” the structure in question is the only remaining portion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Originally built around 960 BC by King Solomon, according to the Bible (and numerous non-religious sources, as well), the “First Temple” was destroyed by the Babylonians in the war leading to the Babylonian Captivity which dominates a good segment of the Old Testament.
Around 516 BC, Persian Emperor Cyrus the Great, in a move heretofor unique in history, set the Hebrews free and underwrote, out of his treasury, much of the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem AND the Temple. Amazing! The gift of freedom and economic support to a former enemy by an absolute monarch of a completely different ethnic culture and religion. A burst of generosity and peace completely unprecedented in human history. And never equaled except, perhaps, when Pres. Harry Truman created the plan to rebuild Europe and named it for his Secretary of State Gen. George C. Marshall. (Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1953.)
Rebuilt over several hundred years, the Temple was again destroyed in 70 AD, this time by the Romans. Never since reconstructed, the only portion of the original (2nd) structure is the wall on the Western side, hence the Western Wall. The sobriquet “Wailing Wall” comes from the tradition of offering prayers, in the form of chants to Yahweh while facing the Temple Wall, most often from a standing position while rocking back-and-forth. Particularly important prayers are commonly written out on tiny “scrolls” of paper and inserted in the crevasses between the stones of the wall. It is this tradition, the written prayer inserted in the Western wall, that Gov. Crist, a Methodist, was referring to.
What does this have to do with hurricanes? That is exactly what the governor was purporting to explain to the meeting of agents. He noted that in the two years before his elevation to the governor’s chair, Florida had been hit by a total of eight hurricanes.
“Do you know the last time it was we had a hurricane in Florida? It’s been awhile. In 2007, I took my first trade mission. Do you know where I went?” said Crist, a Methodist, referring to a trip to Israel.
He then told of going to the Western Wall and inserting a note with a prayer. He said it read, “Dear God, please protect our Florida from storms and other difficulties. Charlie.”
Crist had a friend, Sen. Nan Rich, place the same prayer in the Wall on a trip to Israel during 2008. This year, in May, another friend repeated the same task.
“May, June, July, August — we’re getting closer,” Crist said. “Knock on wood. I would ask you all to say a prayer.”
Afterward, he said he’s not taking credit for the lack of storms in this hurricane-prone state.
“I give that to God,” Crist said. “But it’s nice.”
Nice that Charlie doesn’t want to hog all the credit. But here’s my question. Is God, in all his bloodthirstiness, sitting out there just itching to blast significant portions of Florida away, killing a few of his beloved subjects in the process, and only held in check as long as Orange Charlie keeps sticking scrolls in the wall?
Follow up question: Given the state of the real estate market throughout Florida, do you think that what the agents most wanted to hear was about how Charlie is in good with The Lord?
Here is another example of how misunderstood or, more likely, misconstrued the details get in the debate over health care reform. In a post dated Wednesday, August 19, 2009 on a blog called StandByLiberty.com, BLW wrote:
What is one thing sure to come from the government option, how about government employees, unionized government employees to be more exact. To give you some idea of what I’m talking about, the British National Health Administration is the worlds third largest employer, behind only the Communist Chinese Army and the Indian National Rail Road. We are just a hair bigger than Britain don’t you think? So how many new government employees do you think we will have? This is simply a way to feed the democratic/liberal cause with union members and the dues they pay. They will be depending on the government for their jobs. Bigger government just for you, don’t worry they can just raise taxes to pay for them. But don’t fret, the new government employees won’t have to endure the same health care as you as they will not be included in the new government option.
So, what’s wrong with that? Practically everything.
The British National Health Administration owns almost all of the hospitals, clinics, medical offices and diagnostic facilities. There are a very, very few private medical practices and facilities that cater to an extremely wealthy clientele that can pay totally out-of-pocket for what is typically called “Concierge” medical care.
What that means is that the entire British health care industry operates like the VA does. veterans go to a government-owned, VA operated facility and receive treatment from physicians who are either in the military, on payroll to the VA, or hired under a specific contract to work within a VA facility.
Anybody who thinks this is being proposed in the profferred legislation, or is even in the current discussion either doesn’t (or can’t) read, or is purposely distorting the facts.
Take out the administrators, doctors, nurses, nurses aides, lab technicians, radiology techs, cashiers, secretaries, cafeteria workers, supply personnel, janitors, maintenance staff and parking lot attendants and I bet the employee count in the British system would be quite small.
This is NUTS!!
Myth 1 – Reform will create “rationing” which does not exist in the present system: It’s a myth that reform will mean a “government takeover” of health care or lead to “rationing.” To the contrary, reform will forbid many forms of rationing that are currently being used by insurance companies.
Myth 2 – We can’t afford reform: It’s the status quo we can’t afford. It’s a myth that reform will bust the budget. To the contrary, the President has identified ways to pay for the vast majority of the up-front costs by cutting waste, fraud, and abuse within existing government health programs; ending big subsidies to insurance companies; and increasing efficiency with such steps as coordinating care and streamlining paperwork. In the long term, reform can help bring down costs that will otherwise lead to a fiscal crisis.
Myth 3 – Reform would encourage “euthanasia“: It does not. It’s a malicious myth that reform would encourage or even require euthanasia for seniors. For seniors who want to consult with their family and physicians about end-of life decisions, reform will help to cover these voluntary, private consultations for those who want help with these personal and difficult family decisions.
Myth 4 – Vets’ health care is threatened: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will affect veterans’ access to the care they get now. To the contrary, the President’s budget significantly expands coverage under the VA, extending care to 500,000 more veterans who were previously excluded. The VA Healthcare system will continue to be available for all eligible veterans.
Myth 5 – Reform will hurt small business, and their employees: It’s a myth that health insurance reform will hurt small businesses. To the contrary, reform will ease the burdens on small businesses, provide tax credits to help them pay for employee coverage and help level the playing field with big firms who pay much less to cover their employees on average.
Myth 6 –Your Medicare is in jeapordy: It’s myth that Health Insurance Reform would be financed by cutting Medicare benefits. To the contrary, reform will improve the long-term financial health of Medicare, ensure better coordination, eliminate waste and unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies, and help to close the Medicare “doughnut” hole to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors.
Myth 7 – You must drop your current insurance: It’s myth that reform will force you out of your current insurance plan or force you to change doctors. To the contrary, reform will expand your choices, not eliminate them.
Myth 8 – The new plan authorizes the government to make withdrawals from your bank account: It is an absurd myth that government will be in charge of your bank accounts. Health insurance reform will simplify administration, making it easier and more convenient for you to pay bills in a method that you choose. Just like paying a phone bill or a utility bill, you can pay by traditional check, or by a direct electronic payment. And forms will be standardized so they will be easier to understand. The choice is up to you – and the same rules of privacy will apply as they do for all other electronic payments that people make.