Just junk that I get into

June 25, 2016

Here’s the mimosa that

grows wild near our

front door. I keep prun-

ing it to keep it exactly

where I want it.

June 25, 2016

I’m accepting the idea that the Tennessean will not print my Letters, so I keep sending them -- like this one: Great! They printed it June 28 !

Brexit is the symptom

The past 40 years have been the years that democracy failed. People are looking for a way to get even with their failed governments and Brexit is the first indicator. People are angry at their failed governments so they are voting against their governments in any way that they can. It turns out that many who voted for the exit in Britain actually did not know exactly what they were exiting from.

What’s gone wrong? Why are voters angry? Here’s a partial list:

The rich have gotten unreasonably richer. The middle class can accept the rich being paid one hundred times more but not a thousand times.

There's almost no way a wage earner can accumulate enough money for his retirement.

Honest speaking has given way to political correctness.

Companies are no longer run to provide long term dividends and dependability but are run to show quarterly statements that will make their stocks temporarily go up.

There is no longer an understanding of mutual  commitment between workers and their employers.

Congress can no longer make the compromises necessary to operate our national government.  Obstinate refusals are now advertised to be a sign of remaining true to one's principles instead of a refusal to run the nation.

There is no longer a draft of young people into armed services so politicians can now make dangerous and stupid forays into international nonsense without voters worrying about losing a child.

We are wondering if democracy is failing as we get candidates who excite our worst enthusiasms instead of our brains.

The vote for Brexit was a cry for change instead of wanting a disconnect from Europe.

June 18, 2016

Just a thought about what God isn’t

In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that an action performed on one affects the other, instantly, even when the particles are separated by great distances. The phenomenon so riled Albert Einstein he called it "spooky action at a distance." Entanglement occurs when a pair of particles, such as photons, interact physically. A laser beam fired through a certain type of crystal can cause individual photons to be split into pairs of entangled photons.

The rules of quantum physics state that an unobserved photon exists in all possible states simultaneously but, when observed or measured, exhibits only one state.  And in entanglement  the distant partner is instantly affected.

The photons can be separated by a large distance, hundreds of miles or even more.

The communication between the two particles takes place at a speed of at least 10,000 times the speed of light, possibly even instantaneously, regardless of distance.

When, in our ignorance, we tried  to describe God,  we used what knowledge we had at the moment. In the Bible God is described as a vengeful or benevolent super man who, strangely, needs us to praise him. Our created God could perform simple magic stunts like converting water into wine and feeding thousands by magically creating fishes and loaves of bread. But we didn't have a clue to the nature of this God.  Our churches maintain the fiction that this man-created God is the real God. It is not.

The real God can entangle two tiny particles in such a way that when they are separated by any distance -- possibly even by the multi-billion light year width of the universe -- and when the nearby particle is simply observed then its partner will be instantly affected.

Now that is God-like.  This humanly-impossible ability suggests to me that the real God is the universe itself and much more. It is not distant. It is reality. And we are a part of it.

June 14, 2016

Another letter to the Editor of The Tennessean (I’m mad...)

“This just doesn’t happen in other countries,” said our President after the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado. He's right. Other countries are more advanced and they prohibit the ownership of automatic weapons.

We unfortunates in the USA are governed by people of such low intelligence that they have failed to make weapons of mass destruction illegal in our country.  Maybe this neglect by our law-makers simply indicates that we in the USA are some sort of lower life form that will shoot itself into extinction.

June 12, 2016

Another letter to the Editor of The Tennessean

Killing 50 people in a nightclub, and 20 children and 6 adults in a school and 12 people in a theater would not have been possible if machine guns were totally banned with severe penalties for their ownership.

Allowing ownership of weapons such as the AK-47 which can fire about 600 rounds per minute is totally different from the direction of the Constitution’s 2nd amendment which says: “ … the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”  The “arms” at that time were single shot muskets. After all, will we next allow nerve gas as “arms”?

Congress has rejected (because of a Republican filibuster) a measure which would have expanded background checks for the purchase of firearms, but Congress needs to do much more and ban the ownership of automatic guns that can shoot more than one bullet with each pull of the trigger.   Plus the penalties for ownership of these automatic weapons must involve both jail time and large fines.

Jim Martin

June 11, 2016

My letter to the Editor to The Tennessean

I used to be a Republican

The Republicans lost me when they refused to pass on the vacant federal judgeships — not just the failure to address the Supreme Court vacancy.  Justice will be denied to millions because of the federal vacancies.  They lost me when they refused to accept scientific opinion that global weather change is at least partly caused by human activity.  They lost me when 46 Republican Senators wrote Iran to announce that they, the Republican Senators — would override the President’s nuclear deal with Iran. Unbelievable that a President might be shot down in foreign relations by our own Senators.  They lost me when in 2013 they let the government shut down by attaching their opposition to the Affordable Care Act to the Federal budget.  They lost me when they failed to knock Donald Trump’s attacks on President Obama’s birth place instead of blasting it as the racism that it was.  They lost me when the Republicans who ran against Trump in the primaries offered to support him when it became obvious that Trump would be the nominee.  They lost me when they had control of Congress and failed to address the overwhelming national deficit, the rotting national infrastructure, the business-killing rot of the corporate tax system, and the failure to punish Wall Street executives with prison terms for the 2008 depression.

Maybe I’ll just write myself in on the next Presidential election.

Jim Martin

May 30, 2016

My sister Anne sent this unusual short video. I liked it and I think you will too. It has a short commercial that you can skip:


May 29, 2016

My letter to the Editor printed today in The Tennessean

It isn't so much a choice between Trump and Clinton as it is a choice between a functioning government and a non-functioning government.  It is Congress that is broken not the Presidency.

A recent example in an article about a Congressman named Tom Periello described a bill that both parties had almost agreed on. The bill only needed minor adjustments but it was stalled by the other party. The congressman approached an opposition party leader to see what could possibly be done to get the bill passed.

“The person said, ‘You’re asking the wrong question,’” Perriello recalled. “‘The question is if it works, Obama is gonna get all the credit for it. And if it doesn’t work we don’t want any part of it.’”

And that's the way our nation is governed.

Jim Martin


June 30, 2016

After judging the DECA event a couple of months ago I thought that it would be interesting and fun to judge the TSA event at Opryland Hotel. TSA is Technical Students of America and is a program to increase technical knowledge and training among young people. The TSA event is poorly organized compared to DECA, but the worst problem (for me) was the poor description TSA gave for the bridge-building task. It was full of tiny regulations and overlooked the usual test of a bridge’s success which is the test to see what the breaking point is at the weakest point -- the  center.

My fellow judges are two of the nicest guys I’ve ever met:

Gordon, center, the head judge, and Naveen on the right. Gordon owns a software company and Naveen is a teacher. Gordon volunteered because his own kid had gotten a bad judge at another TSA event.

Here’s one of the kids with his bridge. It’s constructed of balsa wood and glue and it’s required to have a full scale 3-view drawing, and affirmation from a teacher, tech description, etc. But, I think that no one got the point across to these kids that their bridges would have to survive a crush test of the entire structure. And why no one complained about this part escapes me. The objections were over nit-picking details.

I am sure that you can see that the photo on the right was staged. I asked Gordon to act like the Monster Bridge Crusher to give me a photograph opportunity.  He did and it is, of course, a joke, BUT. . .

  the sad part of this photo and of the competition is (in my mind) that the task of building a successful bridge was lost when that long 12” plank was put on top of the 16” long structures to CRUSH them instead of applying the weight at ONLY the CENTER OF THE BRIDGE which is the normal way to test a bridge structure.

Anyway, all of the bridges got smashed and not broken by pressure in the middle of the span. Not one was tested in the way that I recalled from my cursory acquaintance of civil engineering many years ago.

  And then there were complaints. See the photos below. These fathers are complaining about such things as the definition of “laminating”, the lack of a 1 to 1 drawing, or a missing piece of paper that was supposed to do with the bridge models.

And, guess what: NO ONE complained about the testing method!

   One more comment: Gaylord Opryland is an incredible place. It it complicated beyond belief and surprisingly there are absolutely NO clear maps or drawings available to show you where such things as “Ryman Hall 6” and “Presidential Boardroom A” might be located.  I might have been flattered to think that I was in a place with the pompous name of “Presidential Boardroom A” but I’ve never walked so far in my life! And I’ll have to do it again on Friday July 1.

It was mostly calm at the

end of the judging

except for a small incid-

ent when the Judges lost

it over the spelling of

the word “bridge” by

one of the contestants.

Then all was peaceful.

July 6, 2016

    Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean

The cashier made me pull my drivers license out of my wallet to show my age when I bought beer at the grocery store.  I was flattered. I’m 82. Then it hit me that there is NO minimum age to buy a gun which means that I will probably not be shot by a drunken 12 year old. One more thing to be grateful for.

July 10, 2016

Watch LIVE ACTION bears catching salmon in Alaskan river:


July 12, 2016

   Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean

News item July 11: "Republican delegates unanimously adopted an amendment to their draft platform Monday morning that called pornography 'a public health crisis' and a 'public menace' that is destroying lives." 

They haven't put gun control on their platform.  Interesting thinking: they think that masturbation is more dangerous than mass murder.

July 13, 2016

Lou Bottiggi sent me this with the comment that it would “freak you out”.  It did.  I almost hate to let you see this illusionist. (I HOPE he is just an illusionist):


July 27, 2016

      Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean:

  Donald Trump just lost the election for President. His brash, non-politically-correct way of speaking, and his decisiveness were appealing, but inviting the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails went ‘way over the edge.

  Trump’s out: you do not invite a foreign government to get involved in your election campaign to be President of the USA. Goodbye Donald! And good riddance!

Back to Main Page

July 28, 2016

      Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean:

Research from the Human Cooperation Laboratory at Yale may answer why Donald Trump is more popular than Hillary Clinton.  Trump may actually be more popular because of his thoughtless and impromptu remarks. The Yale study suggests that being seen as non-calculating and less thoughtful makes people trust you.

Hillary Clinton is the opposite — she’s more thoughtful and calculating. We may think these are strengths in a person who would be President, but we tend to not trust that person as much as we do the impulsive one.  Individuals who are more calculating seem to us to be liable to sell out if the reward is high.

August 3, 2016

JoAnne’s Birthday

Here’s to the incredible girl that had the misfortune of marrying an average guy like me..JoAnne has made my life better than I ever hoped it could be.

I won’t ask why I was this lucky, I’ll just accept it and be grateful.  Happy Birthday JoAnne!


August 5, 2016

Letter to the Editor, The Tennessean:

I appreciate your article about TNPromise scholarship program. It is a super program and the article was excellent.

I have a complaint about the TNPromise program. I’m  a TNPromise mentor. I have 3 students this year  who will go to local 2 year colleges. My students are a super group.  They are from families of limited incomes and all three have full time jobs in addition to attending high school (and later, college).  The 8 hour community service requirement — during each semester — is a burden to these students and should be done away with.  My students have done the community service and it was tough for for them to schedule and then do it.  A similar situation occurred with my students last year.

TN Promise should do away with the community service requirement.  It detracts from the main intent of this program which is supposed to be for the specific benefit of the student. The scholarship program has a direct and well-aimed target — the education of the student so that he can have a profitable working career that will support him and his family.  The 8 hour community service is a non-sensical and hard-to-schedule detail that detracts from the purpose of the TNPromise program and which is one more difficult scheduling problem for the kids and mentors.  TNPromise should get rid of the 8 hour community service part of this scholarship program.

Jim Martin

September 10 , 2016


I think Bill Cole and I are friends if Bill is the fellow Yalie I know, but Bill is wrong.  The greatest generation is our kids who are now in their 40’s and 50’s.

We’ve left them an economy where they can’t find a job.  We’ve left them in an economy that their education didn’t prepare them for.  We’ve left them with a government that thinks that deadlock is the same as governing.  We’ve left them with an election that offers only poor choices.  We’ve left them without the ability to support themselves in retirement.

If they manage to survive in the situation we’e left them in it will be a miracle.  I nominate my kids to be “the greatest generation”.

Jim Martin

October 14 , 2016

This is such an unbelievable magic trick that even Penn and Teller couldn’t figure it out:


March 3, 2017

To the Editor, Tennessean,

Our President “tweeted” the following:

"How low has President Obama gone to tapp (sic) my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

If President Trump’s statement is misunderstanding on his part, or even if it is a willful lie on his part these are not impeachable offenses.  If he has been misinformed by his advisors this statement is still not an impeachable offense.

But, if he truly believes his statement and if it turns out to be untrue then he is not intelligent enough to be our President. And if the statement is not true then I have to wait four frightening years to vote against him.

Jim Martin

March 6, 2017

March 23, 2017

To the Editor, Tennessean,

It’s right to show respect for the US Presidency, but there must be some limit to the displays of respect. When President Trump’s motorcade rolled into downtown Nashville did respect necessitate a phalanx of 30 motorcycles to lead the motorcade?  I don’t think so; he’s only our President, after all, not our king.

Jim Martin

To the Editor, Tennessean,

Congress has forgotten the words; compromise, negotiate, and discussion and is occupied by two opposing political parties that have given us the worst “governing” in my (long) lifetime. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see that our Senator Lamar Alexander with the support of Senator Corker proposed a modification to the opposing party’s health care plan that would solve an insurance problem in the plan. Alexander did not say “scrap Obamacare”.  Instead he said “I may not like Obamacare but I want to fix a fault in it.”

We have the ridiculous situation where the Democrats and the Republicans insist that only their particular party can come up with a health care plan. The existing plan is Obamacare. There are things wrong with it. Why can’t our politicos work to improve Obamacare instead of scrapping it and starting over with another defective plan to fight over?

March 30, 2017

June 9, 2017

Our Backyard

at night

This may strike you as kind of a sillty thing for me to put on this blog page, but...


We spend more time outside in our little postage stamp of a yard than we do inside.

And...we use it year round.

The yard was absolutely bare when we bought the house in 1984.  We dug the holes and we planted ALL the trees.

JoAnne keeps improving the decoration of the yard and it’s different every time I step out the door.

You gotta admit: this is pretty good!

June 16, 2017

This may strike you as silly and I can assure that it is, BUT...above is my FIRST photo from my drone. I am a lousy drone pilot and I think I need one that has an autopilot but I did manage to get this priceless shot of me without crashing.

Jim Martin: lousy drone pilot’s first photo

Jim’s Blog

Back to
Main PageJims_Main_Page_1.html