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Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution

Please read this, the text of Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution VERY carefully, then I am going to try to explain Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution, also very carefully. I have found that too many people, including some conservatives, are spreading a serious misunderstanding concerning it.

Article 5
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

This article defines exactly TWO avenues for amendments to be PROPOSED to the constitution.
1) Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by 2/3 of the Congress (i.e. 2/3 of the House and 2/3 of the Senate must agree to do so.)
2) Amendments to the constitution may be proposed by the States when 2/3 of the state legislatures agree to call a convention for the purpose of proposing amendments.
3) Please note that in either case amendments are only being PROPOSED. The second method via the States is only to bring together a convention for the purpose of PROPOSING amendments, not for in fact amending the constitution.
4) There is nothing in Article 5 even suggesting a mechanism for calling an actual constitutional convention by which the constitution would be directly amended. People are suggesting that an Article 5 States convention would or could do this, this is FALSE and to spread such an idea is either a deliberate lie or a serious misunderstanding.
5) There is also nothing in this amendment to suggest that Congress can deny the rights of the States to PROPOSE amendments via the States route. The States do not need Congress’ approval and if States proposed amendments are then also ratified by the States as set forth in Article 5, the U.S. Constitution is duly amended – PERIOD.
6) By either route of PROPOSING amendments, the PROPOSED amendments must still be RATIFIED by 3/4 of the States in order to become actual amendments to the U.S. constitution. Neither the Congress nor the States can do it other that through the TWO STEPS of PROPOSING amendments and then the States RATIFYING them.
5) Amendments are RATIFIED by either 3/4 of the State legislatures OR by 3/4 of State conventions. Which ratification mode, state legislatures or state conventions, is determined by the congress Congress. However, just because the Congress may determine which ratification mode is used, it may not ignore the fact that the states are by the necessary proportions proposing amendments and thwart ratification. Article 5 does not give Congress that power.

So, please LIKE and SHARE this as broadly as you can so as to help put aside the fear and uncertainty being spread concerning the power that the States do in fact posses to amend the Constitution per Article 5.

Also, see this additional comment:  Congress cannot legally block this process by the states.

Also, see this article:  The Myth of a Runaway Amendments Convention

Also, see this article:   Jurisprudence of the Amendment Process

Vote for Danny Pelton!

My name is Bill Allen. I am the Republican Precinct 23 Chairman for Erath Co. TX and I endorse Danny Pelton for the Texas House of Representatives, District 59. He is the Conservative Republican candidate, and you can trust him to truly represent our values and interests in Austin.

The Commandline Bible program is released!

My previous post concerned a little program I wrote one evening to process a bible text file and produce a database from it using Python.   That evening project took on a life of its own, so I have removed the archive download from that blog post as it is now very obsolete.   I now introduce and release to the public my Commandline Bible program.  It is a capable bible search and study program designed for use from the Linux or Windows commandline.  Both are writen in Python and require the installation of the Python 2x (currently 2.7.3) interpreter.   The program should work fine for any Python 2.5 or later 2x installation.  In both versions, extract the archive to folder.   For Linux, run python at the commandline.   For Windows, run the bible.bat batch file which ensures that the needed ANSI character support is loaded and then runs the Python interpreter and the program.   Many thanks to my good friend Larry D. Barr for many suggestions and beta testing support.  This is version 1.0.  Enjoy!


  • high quality KJV Pure Cambridge Edition (PCE) text is used
  • case sensitive single word or words found in series search
  • search can be for whole bible or limitied to Old Testament, New Testmant, or single Book of the Bible
  • verse display by reference
  • display of the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge (TSK) references for verses
  • a simple ANSI color text interactive command line program not requiring any graphical interface at all
  • SQLite3 database and other associated datafiles made freely available
  • all software distributed via the free MIT lincese and other applicable free licneses
  • very low system resource usage and very fast


Using Python to create a Bible database program

The programming bug bit me this evening and I did something I have wanted to do for a really long time, write my own code to create a useable bible database.   So, I took an indexed bible text available in the public domain, wrote the code to parse it properly and then package the parsed bible into a Sqlite3 database file that can then be querried.  Basically, the heart of any bible search program.  I cannot believe how fast it runs!  That is a whole lot of text, but Python excells in the text processing domain.   The link is to an archive containing the bible text file that gets processed and the Python program.   When run, the database is created from scratch.

The code is Python 2.x style.   You may use this code in anyway you wish. NOTE: the following code is obsolete and has been removed.  Please see this blog post for the fully featured program!

The code has good examples of:
1)reading a text file, line by line
2)text parsing and regular expressions
3)error handling
4)Sqlite3 database handling

My first 5k race!

To put a bow on having lost 80 pounds from a year ago this month, I ran in my first 5k race!   I ran in the Faith 5k which was a fund raiser for the Faith Lutheran Church elementary school.  They put on a very nice event using a professional timing company.   They even emailed us our results following the race, mine are below.   I really just hoped to be able to finish the race so my result greatly surpassed my expectations.   Now I have a time to beat for my next race.   What a fun way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning in Stephenville, Texas.

The email I received following the race:

Congratulations on finishing the Running with Faith 5K on March 31, 2012.

There were 8 finishers in the Male 40 to 44 age group and 147 finishers in the race.

Your overall finish place was 79 and your age group finish place was 6.  Your overall finish percentile was 54 while your age group percentile was 75.  Your time of 30:36.18 gave you a  9:52 pace per mile.

Full results, as well as upcoming races can be found at  Be sure to like us on Facebook for up-to-date information about all local running events.

We hope to see you again next year.

Steve Jobs passes away

Steve Jobs, the Thomas Edison of our day, has passed away.  He dreamed of bringing computing to the masses, and he succeeded.  But he did much, much more than that.  He brought to us a revolution.  From the Apple computer, to the Mac, to the IPod, and then the IPhone and IPad all the other the great gadgets he and his company created,  our lives have been more fun and more productive.   He founded the company, Apple, in a garage then stepped aside for a time to pursue other technical interests, such as the NeXT systems and OS.  But then he returned to Apple to rescue and revive a company that has lost its way.  Oh, but he did much more that just revive Apple.  He had the vision to embrace other technologies and put his unique touch to them.  He spearheaded the creation of wonderful personal entertainment and communications devices and then married those to computing technologies, advanced operating systems and Internet content delivery; which turned Apple into a computing, communications and internet Juggernaut.  Steve Jobs was an inventor, businessman and visionary.  Most of all, he was a great man who gave his all, and even the last of his health, in pursuit of his dreams which have enriched all our lives.

Steve Jobs, RIP

February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011.

Getting aquainted with the M1911

This is a different sort of blog post for me.  No code snippets or anything like that.   I have recently become the owner of a handgun, a M1911-A1 CS, .45 cal.  It is the short barrel, 3.5″, version of the classic M1911-A1.  While I have had other types of firearms all my life:  shotguns and riffles, this is the first time I have owned a handgun.   I guess I was waiting for the kids to grow up and basically be out of the house?  Not sure if that was really the reason, but I do know that I really like this gun!  It feels great in my hand and is a size that will simplify concealed carry capabilities.  Today I went out shooting with friends who who are quite a bit more experienced with handguns than I am, one of which is a veteran with combat experience.  I sure appreciated the opportunity to learn and improve my shooting.   It was also a lot of fun!  I am going to have to do more of this.

Stephenville Lions Spooktacular Half Marathon

Attentions all you running enthusiasts! Please come out to the Stephenville Lions Club 5k-10k-Half Marathon race fund raiser on Oct. 22, 2011. It is a great and fun race. All proceeds go to fund the charitable endeavors of the Stephenville, TX Lions Club.

Stephenville Lions Halloween Spooktacular Half~10K~5K | Stephenville, Texas 76401 | Saturday, October 22, 2011 @ 8:00 AM

Stephenville Lions Club

A geek celebration of Easter

def EasterDate(y):


# y is a 4 digit year 1583 to 4099
# d returns the day of the month of Easter
# m returns the month of Easter

# Easter Sunday is the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon
# (PFM) date for the year

# This algorithm is an arithmetic interpretation of the 3 step
# Easter Dating Method developed by Ron Mallen 1985, as a vast
# improvement on the method described in the Common Prayer Book

# Because this algorithm is a direct translation of the
# official tables, it can be easily proved to be 100% correct

# This algorithm derives values by sequential inter-dependent

# The / operator may be unfamiliar – it means integer division
# for example, 30 / 7 = 4 (the remainder is ignored)

#The % operator is for the Modulus operation

# All variables are integer data types

# It’s free! Please do not modify code or comments!
# ==========================================================
#The following is a translation of the BASIC code for the calculation
#of Easter dates to Python 2x. The comments from that code and
#variable names have been preserved. The preceding comments
#have also been preserved with only slight modification and additions
#that are necessary for properly understanding this Python version
#of the program. I encourage the reader to visit following website
#and compare the original BASIC code with the Python code presented
#The original documentation and code may be found at:
#Many thanks to the Astronomical Society of South Australia for
#the information that made this possible.
#FirstDig, Remain19, temp are intermediate results
#tA, tB, tC, tD, tE are table A to E results

FirstDig = y / 100 #first 2 digits of year
Remain19 = y % 19 #remainder of year / 19

#calculate PFM date
temp = (FirstDig – 15)/2 + 202 -11 * Remain19

case1 = (21,24,25,27,28,29,30,31,32,34,35,38)
case2 = (33,36,37,39,40)

if FirstDig in case1:
temp = temp – 1
elif FirstDig in case2:
temp = temp – 2

temp = temp % 30

tA = temp + 21
if temp == 29:
tA = tA -1
if temp == 28 and Remain19 > 10:
tA = tA -1

tB = (tA -19) % 7

tC = (40 – FirstDig) % 4
if tC == 3:
tC = tC + 1
if tC > 1:
tC = tC + 1

temp = y % 100
tD = (temp + temp/4) % 7

tE = ((20 – tB – tC – tD) % 7) + 1
d = tA + tE

if d > 31:
d = d – 31
m = 4
m = 3

return (m,d)

#A simple program using the EasterDate funtcion
year = int(raw_input(“Find the date of Easter for which year(1582-4099)? “))
month_day = EasterDate(year)
months = (‘January’, ‘February’, ‘March’, ‘April’, ‘May’, ‘June’, ‘July’,
‘August’, ‘September’, ‘October’, ‘November’, ‘December’)
print “For the year {0}, Easter will fall on {1} {2}”.format(year, months[month_day[0]-1],month_day[1])


electronics experimentation

There are lots of ways to experiment with electronics.  One way is to use a programmable testbed system.  There are several available at various costs.  One that I am looking at that seems interesting is the Arduino UNO, which sells for about $30.   I was shown this one at work by our electronics engineer.   I may get one for myself to play with.  It looks like a very inexpensive way to experiment with programmable electronics.  Such system can be used for data output and display, data collection, motor control, ham radio applications, and much more.

The main website.

A hands on turtorial.

Another programmable testbed system that is quite popular is the Parallax Basic Stamp.

The Arduino UNO

K5WLF – Electricity 101

Fellow SDFer, K5WLF , has posted a really good refresher on the basics of electricity.  Check it out.

PyFITS Cheat Sheet

PyFITS is a Python module to facilitate the reading, editing and creation of Flexible Image Transfer System (FITS) files.  FITS is a common data interchange medium in the astronomical community.

PyFITS Cheat Sheet, working with the FITS file Header Data Unit(HDU)

extracted from The PyFITS Handbook

see also:  A Primer on the FITS Data Format

#load the pyfits module into Python
import pyfits

#initialize a fits file object
hdulist =‘input.fits’)

#when finished close the file object

#get info from the fits file

#get the value of a particular keyword in the HDU

#get the value of a particular keyword index in the HDU

#assign new values to keywords or indexes in the HDU
prihdr = hdulist[0].header
prihdr[’targname’] = ’NGC121-a’
prihdr[27] = 99

#view the entire HDU contents
prihdr = hdulist[0].header

#update (add) the HDU with a new keyword and value
prihdr.update(’observer’, ’Edwin Hubble’)

#add history or comment records to HDU
prihdr.add_history(’I updated this file 2/26/09’)
prihdr.add_comment(’Edwin Hubble really knew his stuff’)

#access the HDU as Cards, display first three cards of HDU
print prihdr.ascardlist()[:3]
SIMPLE =    T / file does conform to FITS standard
BITPIX =    16 / number of bits per data pixel
NAXIS =     0 / number of data axes

#list all the keywords of the HDU

#write out the changes made to the in memory fits object

#saving changes to fits file using update mode
f =’original.fits’, mode=’update’)
… # making changes in data and/or header
f.flush() # changes are written back to original.fits

Python – the new BASIC

I recently read a good blog on the subject of the Python programming language being the new BASIC, and that being a good thing. I very much agree, and it IS a good thing. I got my start in computing and programming just as the age of the home computer was coming to be, i.e. days of the Sinclair, Atari, TRS 80 type home systems. BASIC was the mainstay on these systems and usually came bundled in the system. In those days, home computer users were not looking to just surf the web (which did not exist yet as we know it) or other entirely enduser type activities that are so common today. Back in the day, late 70’s & early 80’s, home computer users were most difinately hobbyists and enthusiasts. Most folks were looking to discover just what they could do with this computer technology now that it was feasible to have it in the home without spending too much of a fortune. Part of this experience for most was learning the version of the BASIC programming language that was bundled, or built into, their computer. There was not much software available back then and the folks were willing and eager to write their own. I’ll never forget the very first computer that our family purchased and on which I first hacked out in BASIC a program. I was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Pocket Computer. It had a HUGE 8Kbytes of RAM! It plugged into and interface that let you print to adding machine roll paper and save programs to an external cassett tape. I learned BASIC and so did my Dad. Those were the days! BASIC was the gateway into programming because it had two fundamental features – it was simple and highly accessible. It came with nearly ALL home computing systems. BASIC spread like wildfire. Today, there is a great need for the same thing. A programming language that is both simple and accessible. While I have mastered several programming languages over the years, the only one that harkens me back to the good old days of BASIC is Python. This is a GOOD thing! Python is both totally free and available for most any computer system and it is simple to learn. It is interpreted and highly portable, just like BASIC was, yet is powerful. Any newbie programmer can pick it up and get it to spit out “Hello World” in just one simple line of code and then within mere days (maybe even hours) be creating useful Object Orientated code using the most modern programming paradigms (usually with even realizing it!). Also, it is not some toy programming language. There is a huge body of high end programs written in it which is growing everyday. Python is the NEW BASIC, without the design shortcomings of BASIC. It is what we have needed.

GIMP – a deskew plugin

GIMP (the GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a great product.  It provides many advanced image editing options and is available on both the Linux and Windows platforms.  Of course, it is FREE.  One capability that is noticed to be missing from its sizable suite of tools is a “deskew” function.   As the name suggests,  a deskew function straightens up a somewhat crooked picture.  This is often needed to straighten up a scanned image that did not pass through the scanner in a perfectly straight manner.   After quite a lot of searching on the web, I found that there is a plugin (an add-on) that provides this function for GIMP.   For the typical user, getting ones hands on the deskew plugin is not as easy nor is installing it intuitive, so I will provide links to both the Linux and Windows versions of the deskew plugin and instructions how to install each.

First download the plugin for your OS:

GIMP-deskew-plugin for Windows
GIMP-deskew-plugin for Linux

To install in the plugin into GIMP for Windows, unzip the plugin from the file you downloaded and place the deskew.exe file in the c:\program files\gimp\lib\2.0\lib\plug-ins\ folder.

To install the pluging into GIMP for Linux, simply place the pluging you downloaded, the deskew file, into the /usr/lib/gimp/2.0/plug-ins/ folder.

Now, either open GIMP or close and restart the program if you already had it open. You will now find a new entry in the Filters menu called Misc. The plugin is selected via the menu path Filters>Misc>Deskew.

NOTE: I did not write the GIMP deskew plugin, and thus cannot provide any support for it. I just want to make it easily available to other GIMP users since it took me some time to find both versions.

The Night Sky

I have always been a person of the countryside. I grew up in small Texas towns, usually outside of town in the countryside. Currently, I have the pleasure of living on the eastern edge of the Greens Creek valley here in Erath County, TX. It affords me a wonderful horizon from the South West to the West. Lately, I have taken notice of what a good location I have for star gazing. Several times in the last few weeks I have had exceptionally clear skies and the Milky Way seemed to be exploding across the sky. I have even seen a couple nice shooting stars. Nothing like a beautiful night sky to open up the wonders of creation before you. The majesty of the Creator seems to be made manifest at such times. I have taken an interest in star gazing and am beginning to pursue it now. I guess it was probably inevitable and a lot of factors have contributed to that. First, living in such a good viewing area. Second, having a good friend who is the manager of the planetarium at Tarleton State University and also the tech at the university observatory. He takes students and members of the public out on star watching parties at the observatory. Finally, I have installed a very nice astronomy program on my Ubuntu laptop called Stellarium. While not highly complex, it is an entirely useful and elegant free program. It is a very good guide to the night sky which helps as I am a complete novice at this. I have decided for now to just work on naked-eye astronomy, no external optics. I want to learn the sky as man learned it for eons. I want to see what they saw and notice what they noticed. I want to understand how men have found their way by the stars from time immemorial. I want to learn the sky for the times and the seasons and to look up and see the constellations come into view as the procession of the stars passes overhead. The night sky, such a beautiful thing.

Science Day at TSU

Today was the annual Science Day at TSU (Tarleton State UniversityStephenville, TX). The amateur radio club, Tarleton Area ARC, takes the opportunity to set up our emergency power solar array and operate a ham radio station outside as a demonstration of both solar energy and radio technology. This same day is the day that new students and parents tour the campus, so we have lots of foot traffic passing by us. It is a good opportunity to educate the public about the solar energy and stir up some interest in amateur radio. We had quite a few people stop by to visit and it was a very successful event I felt. We operated from my Elecraft K2 QRP radio to a half-wave dipole for the 20 meter band. Very good contacts were made to Indiana and Iowa via SSB and PSK31. The only difficulty for the day was with a laptop running Ubuntu 10.10, which I have blogged about here. Many thanks to Larry Barr, K5WLF, for providing the solar energy setup and being my operating partner on the air.


Lately, I have heard several political candidates and commentators use the phrat a se “man up!”  Of course, this is not a new phase.  On the milder side, it means “get a grip”, while on the meaner side it means “grow a pair!” (I do not think an explanation is necessary…).   Today I ran across a website that is devoted to helping men to MAN UP!    I think you will enjoy it.  Many men need it.  Many women just might understand men a bit better after reading it.    The Art of Manliness

Benoit Mandelbrot dies, aged 85

As regular readers of my blog will know, I have been a fan and enthusiast of the mathematically derived images know as Fractals for many years after having been first exposed to the concept in an issue of Scientific American in the Mathematical Recreations column. I began writing programs to generate these beautiful images and even today still tinker around with these. Benoit Mandelbrot, the man who started it all and for whom the iconic fractal image is named, has passed way at age 85. The impact of his work went far beyond just some pretty pictures.   He fundamentally added to our understanding of nature and brought order to what had always been thought to have been random chaos in complex systems such as meteorology and reaching even into the fields of economics and the social sciences. His work was the genesis of what we now know as Chaos Theory. The impact of the revelation that Benoit Mandelbrot brought to human understanding of the world around us and of complex systems has already been felt.  It will continue to be felt as we delve deeper and deeper into the exploration of nature.  We are now assured that there will always be more beauty to be found as the self-similar and endlessly complex world unfolds before us. To me, Benoit Mandelbrot opened a door to us into the beauty and complexity of nature and into the mind of nature’s Creator. He will be missed.

The Mandelbrot Set

MRI, not fun…

Today I had a VERY unpleasant experience.  I have never considered myself claustrophobic, but after having a MRI today I am really beginning to think I might be.  That was a very tight space and the sounds the MRI machine makes are terrible.  I was getting the MRI for a back problem and laying flat on my back is one of the positions that hurt me worst, so of course I had to lay in there that way and be perfectly still.  The space was so tight that I could not move very much even if I wanted to.   I became quite anxious and my blood sugar plummeted.  Generally, just a bad experience.  That was only 25 minutes in that infernal machine!  I now understand what a trapped animal feels like.   Yet, I got a reminder when I turned on the TV how much I should actually consider myself blessed.   They are preparing to rescue the trapped miners in Chile via a capsule only 21 one inches in diameter through a hole they drilled from the surface down to the location of the miners.  It will take a whole hour just to pull each one out and after so many days trapped underground.  Those are truly courageous men and all the people involved in the rescue are just awesome.   My hat is off to them all.   I feel like such a dope for letting that experience with the MRI machine get to me…

A Blessing

Tonight, while familiarizing myself with SQLite3, I did what I often do when learning a new item or subject, that is I looked into its history and background. I even sought to read the licensing for SQLite. I found that the code for this remarkable database system has been utterly released to the public domain. Instead of a copyright or license, it offers this blessing, which I find very touching and in turn offer it to the kind readers of my blog. This is one of those rare times that the geek realm and spirituality intersect.

May you do good and not evil
May you find forgiveness for yourself and forgive others
May you share freely, never taking more than you give.

Please, also read this interview with Dr. Richard Hipp, the author of the above blessing and inventor of SQLite.,-geek-of-the-week/