Tuesday, September 30, 2008

BSA court case is headed in right direction

While not as good as I had hoped, a Federal judge ruled the Philadelphia council's case against the City has merit on First Amendment grounds.

The suit was filed in federal district court in May by Cradle of Liberty, the local chapter, just before the city decided to evict the Scouts from a rent-free building it owns on the Ben Franklin Parkway if they didn't fork over $200,000 in annual rent or agree to rescind their national membership policy.

The Boy Scouts' membership policy doesn't permit openly gay people in leadership positions, which the city said is discriminatory and violates its Fair Practices Ordinance.

The local chapter claimed in its suit that the city violated its First Amendment rights, engaging in viewpoint discrimination and conditioning its subsidized rent on giving up its right to associate with whomever it wants.

U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter said the complaint provided "sufficient allegations" to conclude the city's actions "may have compromised" the chapter's First Amendment rights.
This is certainly good news; while the judge ruled the Council was not entitled to compensation should the City prevail with it's eviction - and should the eviction go forward I do hope there's an appeal - their case on First Amendment grounds is certainly strong (see my take on the specific issue here)


h/t WRIGHTMARSH

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Who is responsible?

A quick review of the times attempted to reign in the mess at /.

I look forward to those who oppose Sen. McCain's campaign to speak about 's comments.



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Monday, September 29, 2008

Random Tunes

I came across MixWit after reading/hearing Michele's tape late last night.


MixwitMixwit make a mixtapeMixwit mixtapes


Come on, admit: who among us (over, say 30 years of age) didn't spend many hours of our youth making mix tapes? Did those under 30 ever make mix-CDs, I wonder? With the advent of MP3 players, does anyone even care about this stuff anymore?

Regardless, many a night I spent with my TDK D-90s, and my brother's vast LP collection, pulling stuff from so many different tastes: having 3 older brothers, there was a lot to choose from... which explains why I never bought many LPs myself!

While I have been a fan of SeeqPod for sometime, their player is dull in comparison to MixWit (I confess: the old audio cassette is the big draw for me). So I pulled my lone SeeqPod play-list and ported to MixIt whatever songs it could find.

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Creeping Socialism

The more I read about the plan to rescue the economy, the more I hate it more.

First, we should dissolve the s; they never should have existed to begin with. Then let the market fix itself.

Will there be pain? Of course.

But which is the lesser of two evils?

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What price for a farewell?

The big boss, the present Division Head who was once the Project Lead that rescued me from the hell that was my last job (why I called it hell can be read about  here, or here) announced last week he's leaving the company.  He's recently divorced, has 4 kids - the oldest of whom is 16, so college is not far - so he's decided to move on to make more money.

My hat's off to him.  The man has been more than fair over the last 4 years, and has been a good buddy (as far as any manager can/should be).   I wish him well, and hope to remain in touch with him (hey! he may have a position for me soon!)

Here's the dilemma: the farewell lunch.

I don't enjoy these sort of events, because they're contrived.  The guest of honor is given a lunch by a dozen or more of his peers (or in this case, subordinates) wherein if you aren't sitting adjacent to the person, she/he can't converse with you, so you may as well NOT be there.

When I left my last job (not the one I left for this one, but rather the one that I was laid-off from), I went out to lunch with 3 times, with a group of no more than 3, because that way we could all converse and laugh and enjoy ourselves.  Now I realize that not everyone can manage such a feat when you have about 2 dozen subordinates, but in the case of peers it makes sense to me.

And it does in my boss' case as well. 

That, plus the lunch is planned to cost $25.  Um, excuse me, this guy is leaving for a better job!  He should be taking us out to lunch!  

Ultimately, because I do respect the man, I may resort to cutting into my budget and buying in, but I certainly won't enjoy it...

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Too much to read

I never thought I'd say it, but I am really overloaded with info.



While this represents only my unreads since Friday, it is an awful lot. I can't completely blame that on my lack of home PC alone. I did prune a lot last week, but I clearly have more to go.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Court of Honor

I had the privilege of attending a Eagle Court of Honor this afternoon.  It is a solemn ceremony, one convened for those who have met the requirements: a mere 2% of all Scouts. 
Becoming an is a great accomplishment; being an Eagle Scout is a great responsibility. As an Eagle, the Scout Oath and Scout Law should take on new meaning for you; the motto and slogan take on new urgency.

As an Eagle, your first obligation is to live with honor. You are a marked man, a leader; for good or ill, people will follow the example you set. Give up anything before you give up your reputation and good name. As Shakespeare said, Mine honour is my life; both grow in one. Take honour from me, and my life is done. Let the white of the Eagle badge remind you of honor.

Your second obligation as an Eagle Scout is to be loyal. As a follower, you promised to be loyal to those above you. Now, as a leader, you must be loyal to those below you, treating them as you would want to be treated.  And you must also be loyal to your ideals, not letting others sway you from your course. Let the blue of the Eagle badge remind you of loyalty.
Your third obligation as an Eagle Scout is to be courageous. Stepping into your new role as a leader, you will face many challenges and obstacles. A ship in the harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for. You must have the courage to do what is right, whatever other people do or say. Let the red of the Eagle badge remind you of courage.

Your fourth obligation is to serve others, for a leader is above all a servant. Let the practice of the daily good turn become a lifetime of service, for only in giving of yourself do you give anything of value. Just as it always has, let the scroll on your badge remind you of service.

Your final obligation as an Eagle Scout is to have vision. As a leader, you must know blaze your own trail. Just as a bald eagle soaring high above the ground can look far into the distance, so too must you look far into the future. Many people will follow you; only with vision will you lead them in the right direction. Let the silver eagle hanging from your badge remind you of vision.

These then are your obligations as an Eagle Scout: honor, loyalty, courage, service, and vision. By meeting those obligations, you can lead your troop, your community, your nation toward a better tomorrow.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Debate one in the books

The first Presidential Debate for the 2008 election is in the books.


Sen. John McCain did better than many expected against Sen. Barack Obama, who did quite well, himself.


Sen. Obama struck first a decisive blow, in my mind, in the opening question - possibly due to the toss of the coin - with his handling of the economic issue currently facing the banking and financial industry.  That's not to say I agree with Sen. Obama's position - far from it! - but he presented his position, I believe, marginally better than Sen. McCain did.  For much of the first 30-40 minutes, Sen. Obama often had Sen. McCain on defense.

Throughout the rest of the evening, Sen. McCain countered every false claim Sen. Obama made, and several times McCain caught Obama with his own words.  And over a half-dozen times, Sen. Obama conceded he agreed with Sen. McCain - look for those sound-bites to be repeated.

And if nothing else, on the issue of pure class, Sen. McCain repeatedly referred to his opponent as Sen. Obama, whereas Sen. Obama called his opponent by his first name, over and over. 

It wasn't a slam dunk, by any means.   Both candidates did very well.

But I would be interested in reading/hearing from those who disagree that Sen. McCain walked away having won the debate.

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The bane of local TV, now online

What's that you say?  You can't get enough of those lame, obnoxious, used car dealers advertising on local TV?


Booya!



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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Long overdue: THE GREAT MINIVAN TRADE UP

Long ago I was asked to promote THE GREAT MINIVAN TRADE UP and am only doing so today!


Dad of Divas is trying to trade his way up to a minivan for his wife and kidlets (can you guess they're all girls?).  Certainly a noble cause, indeed.  He's just got his 6th trade, and you, too, can play a part!


Click your way over and see if you can help him out!


What are you waiting for?  Go now!

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So where have I been?

I am still largely offline, both at home and at the office.  Access to my GMail is still available, but technically in violation of company rules.   So we'll see what happens.

Work is going fairly well, altho lots of changes in the management layer just over my head.   Not terribly worried about it, but it is still on my RADAR.

Home PC is still dead, now entering its third week.  So I use MBH's when she isn't online, so my time at home is short.

Practically speaking, I am trying to get a 2nd hand motherboard for a +6 year old Dell.  Yeah, I know, I can replace the whole damn box for ~$500 (and please, with all due respect, no more suggestions for a Mac.  Mac is a very reliable desktop, but completely incompatible with my kid's cyberschool, my employment, and pretty much my career).  But if I can get one, cheap, it will get me back to where I was in very short-order.  Yes, my old hard drive is intact, and I have back-ups, but I would much rather plan a migration to a new box rather than force the issue.

I could just order another PC, but I have to watch the ol' bottom line; fuel prices are moderating  - $3.329 this afternoon - but I still average 8 gallons a day, so it's still pricy.  And Christmas is just around the corner.

Of course, I do literally need the PC for my job, so something will be resolved this weekend.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

I'll drink to that!

A pity I won't be able to meet the bus tour....








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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Halloween, Scarecrows, Wedding Receptions

I attended a meeting last night of a committee that is planning an outdoor Halloween event for a group of deserving kids (the exact details of the group, the plan, etc. are too numerous for a quick post).

The discussion came to decorations, and one of the members asked if there was a budget for those 3' tall scarecrows on stakes, the kind that could be easily inserted into the grass.

The executive director of the group smiled broadly and replied:

I know just the kind you mean! I have 3 dozen scarecrows I am going to use for my wedding reception!

The entire group fell silent for a moment, until I added I bet there's not another woman in the world who has ever strung those words together in a single sentence.

I later learned the gal really, really likes Autumn.

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Time for serious pruning

And just last night there were only 220 unreads! I can't possibly keep up this pace, and work +40 hrs, while competing with the Corp. IT, and still without my personal PC at home.

Time for serious house-cleaning...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bush Proposal to Oversee Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

Check out this article from the NY Times regarding the mortgage crisis we're in:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry...

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.
Now before you jump up and scream Well, it is about time President Bush did something about this issue, let me direct you to the full story which was publish in the NY Times on September 11 ... 2003

The story continues (emphasis mine):
Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,” Mr. Watt said.
Now I would be the first to stand-up and say Sure, the Democrats were against the Bush bill, but weren't the Republicans in the majority?    And yes, they were. 

It comes down to the point I've driven home in this humble blog time and time again: Conservatives - particularly Fiscal Conservatives - know best.  Far too many members of Congress who are Republicans consistently forget this, and that's why they've lost their majority.

But do note the main complaint from Reps. Frank and Watt:  poorer families would not be able to buy homes.   Excuse me: but I couldn't afford my home until I reached a point in my life/career where I could sustain one!  The fact that these people couldn't afford a home is the precise reason WHY they should have stayed in an apartment, or a smaller home, until such time the could.

Clearly, President Bush knew this dark day was on the horizon.  Too bad he couldn't count on his own party.  They've paid the price, and now so do the rest of us.

h/t Macsmind

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Separating Fact from Opinion

This blog strives to never blur the lines between fact and opinion.  When I make a claim to a fact, I back it up (or, in rare instances, state that I cannot verify the claim, but... yeah, that is catty, and that's why it is rare).

Isn't a pity 's campaign can't do the same?   Visit this ad from the Obama Campaign - titled Deception -  and note the names that follow each of the mastheads for the various pull-quotes.

  • Joe Klein - Time Magazine
  • E.J. Dionne - Washington Post
  • Christopher Orr - New Republic
  • Steve Benen - CBS News
  • Frank James - Chicago Tribune
With a listing of sources like Time, WaPo, CBS News, ChicTrib, you'd think these were all news stories.   Further investigation finds that each of these authors are opinion writers.   Political talking-heads - not that being one is a bad thing, but that is quite different from hard news reporting.

I suppose if you can't beat on the facts, you need to find certain opinions to make your case.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Offline

Last week, my home PC crashed. With little warning it It won't boot, no video, no POST beep, none of the USB peripherals power-up.

After securing the services of one of office IT guys (one of the cool ones, as opposed to the Corp-IT group), it was determined that either the motherboard or the CPU had bitten the dust.    The upside, the hard drive is intact and safe.

A friend's husband is looking to see if he can set me up with a replacement motherboard.  Seeing how eBay sells them from $20-$200, I am a little leery rolling the dice in that regard.  If all else fails, I'll buy another Dell (this one was bought Feb-02, so it really doesn't owe me much).

So my postings have been few this week, and will continue as such until I correct this situation.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remember

And where the offense is, let the great axe fall.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
(
Act IV. Scene V.)


A list of the fallen of September 11, 2001.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Uniform? WHAT uniform?

I posted a few years ago about a bunch of over zealous parents threatening a lawsuit at a school district over a new school uniform which was in fact a dress code (big difference).    Today I hear the term being misused again:


When will the lawsuits be filed in this case?

Oh yeah... that kid who wears a set of clothes under his dress-code clothes?   He must sweat a lot during the day, no?

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Memories

I've been slammed this week, and while this week has a monumental anniversary of that tragic day in 2001, there is another notable day that occured 8 years ago: the day closed on Broadway.


While I wish I could say I saw it on Broadway, it has been far, far too long since I have been to the theater.

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Friday, September 05, 2008

So Charlie... whatever happened to that Challenge??

Wrapping up the HUNDRED PUSH-UP CHALLENGE .... (see results of week one, week two, week three, week four and week five )

Wow... I can't believe my first post on this topic was in July.   Yeah, I can read a calendar, and I can count 6 weeks, but it seems so much more time has passed.

The last 2 weeks have been hectic, not in the least because I've stayed up later than usual because of the Conventions.   So on top of my crazy work/commute hours, Boy Scouts, Karate, and Baseball, I have been getting ~4 hours of sleep each night (M-F),  I've been striving to perform 100 push-ups in a row.

Oh yeah.  

Last week, was the end of week 6, and I was supposed to be kick-butt, big time, with the push-ups. 

I did ok.

Unlike the end of week 5, I did not fail meeting the required number of reps in each set.  I did, I confess, take longer rest breaks than I was supposed to - not that doing so is wrong, but it isn't in line with the recommended plan.   After completing the 3rd day last Friday, I was supposed to rest for 2-3 days and test myself at performing 100 consecutive push-ups.

Well .... I haven't taken that test yet.  I had debated retaking weeks 5 & 6 over, since I believed I should have been hitting the numbers in each set a lot better than I had been.    I pondered it over the last weekend, and decided I would see how well I could do my test.

Monday was a holiday (lame excuse), and in spite of my personal pledge, I didn't do it at home.   Then the rest of week was a wash-out from exhaustion (another lame excuse).   I do my push-ups at work, because I leave the house before 05:00, and am not likely to do a work-out before my coffee!  And since I do my taekwondo work-out at least 2x each week, I am not likely to work-out at home in the evenings.  So I will see to the 100 push-up test this weekend, tomorrow in fact, and decide accordingly if I should retake weeks 5 & 6.

HOWEVER,  I did this challenge at the suggestion of Derek Semmler (who hosts a terrific blog),  and so I used the promotion of his Push-Up Challenge as one of those carrot-and-stick methods to keep myself dedicated to the task since I blogged about it.

It never once occurred to me I could win his challenge.    But I did.   No one is more surprised than I am!   Many thanks go to for his inspiration (passive or otherwise) and for being so magnanimous as to offer such a competition with prizes!

The problem I now face is that I have strictly maintained my anonymity in my blog.      

I'll need to think about how I will handle this.... but by all means, please pay a visit to Derek's very fine blog.

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Thought Question: Bristol Palin

I have resisted posting this question, but have decided the discussion potential is worth raising:

We know that the 17 year old daughter of is pregnant, and we've been introduced to the daughter's fiance', Levi Johnson.

A lot of buzz in media circles around how Bristol is proof that abstinence-only education doesn't work.

Now I have no inside information, no connection to the Palin family, so make no assumption after you read this question:

Imagine Bristol Palin gives an interview, say in a magazine.  Say she tells the interviewer (and, by extension, the world) that her mom and she had the talk.  That her mom did tell her to save herself for marriage, that abstinence is best.  But then Bristol says that she was in love, and she was 17, so she threw caution to the wind.

Now here's the kicker:

Can you imagine the firestorm if Bristol says So we used a condom we got from the School Nurse, but it obviously didn't work.  What would be the media reaction?

Your thoughts are welcome; please comment.

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Sen. Obama needs to fight the smears his supportors spread

WHEN you point a finger, the old say ing goes, three fingers point back at you. When it comes to accusing his opponents of spreading vicious rumors, needs to pull back his finger and follow the other three.

Told of accusations that members of his team facilitated the avalanche of smears against GOP veep nominee Sarah Palin, he scoffed: “I am offended by that statement; there is no evidence at all that any of this involved us.” Obama insisted: “We don’t go after people’s families, we don’t get them involved in the politics. It is not appropriate and it is not relevant. Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be.”

Hmm. Depends on the meaning of “our people.” The new issue of Us Weekly hits newsstands Friday - hitting millions of readers with a smirk-attack on Gov. Palin, shown with her youngest son, Trig, in a photo plainly chosen to make her look weird.

Read more at Michelle Malkin

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Maverick from Alaska


To be fair ... to be fair! .... is from one of two other states (of 57!) hasn't been allowed to visit yet

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin, candidate for Vice President

brought a considerable buzz to 's campaign this weekend. Some say it was a much needed spark, and I would agree to a point. With many positive factors - some outside of the campaign, itself - and his campaign had a particularly terrific 7 day news cycle last week.

For starters, Political Conventions are great media draws. Add to that a slow week, and the routine wall-to-wall coverage (enhanced by the unmistakable media bias) and the buzz was quite loud. And that's not counting the spectacular stadium speech by Sen. Obama Thursday night. So without even discussing the message of the campaign, itself, it's easy to see what kind of attention Obama had last week.

So on Friday, McCain introduced Sarah Palin to the nation (some already knew of her, as I mentioned last week). A palpable jolt was felt across the union. She's certainly not a Washington, DC insider. She's capable. She's accomplished. And while it has been said in many places before, it's worth saying again: any mother of 5 is skilled in getting things done.

But as the nation became excited about her background, the threat of Hurricane Gustav started to dampen the spirits of all .... (well, maybe not all, see: here, here and here ). The GOP correctly tuned-down Monday's events at the Convention, but they've ramped up for a restart today.

On Monday, Team McCain reported Palin's 17 year old daughter was pregnant. This, after a weekend of smears from the Left daring to accuse Gov. Palin of faking her recent birth to her youngest son as that belonging to her daughter. Immediately after this news, rags began to call Bristol Palin a slut (please remember, this blog frequently asks which political party is the one always accused of being mean-spirited!).

The way the Palin family has embraced their daughter (and soon to be grandchild) speaks volumes to all people, young and old. While I am can imagine there were tense moments some 2-3 months ago, I am willing to bet any money the use of the terms punished for a mistake. That her daughter is pregnant is, of course, an issue that cannot be simply overlooked. Yet the media has a responsibility not to stalk her, to follow her every step of every day. The media have already spent far, far too much time over this issue, ignoring all of the historical limits on the invasion of privacy to other children of presidents. The difference here, of course, is that the same biased media is hoping to derail the McCain/Palin ticket.

None of this, mind you, will cloud the overall accomplishments of Sarah Palin, or deter her from serving as Vice President. Her skills as an executive trump any Sen. Obama claims to have. Her ability to negotiate - on.her.terms - with Oil Companies (a/k/a Big Oil) shows she is a serious player. Her push for ethics in state politics have actually led her to one of the few controversies in her administration, one she could have avoided had she wanted to take an easier path. Her political career was self-built, not relying on any one's coat-tails.

The front page of today's NY TIMES has three different stories on Gov. Palin's daughter, alleged exposes, yet precious little coverage on the background of Sen. Obama; this is indicative of the concern the Left has over the McCain/Palin ticket. And how they will not stop at any limits to keep them out of office.

A big concern the Liberals should have: my colleague in the office, with whom I've had more than a few heated discussions debates, who has been a steadfast supporter of Sen. Obama, has conceded he's now leaning towards to Sen. McCain. While he found parity in Sen. McCain's & Obama's platform (I'm still scratching my head on that one), he was dismayed at Sen. Biden's selection for VP. He sees Palin as the change Washington, DC really needs, and that her suggested inexperience trumps Obama's, as she would be #2, learning the role, whereas Obama would be starting at a loss from day 1. Who knew he'd ever consider not voting for Obama?

This blogger is backing Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin, and will do what I can to point out the extreme media bias and mean-spirited coverage, while also continuing to expose the Obama Campaign's clouded (at best) message, and damaging proposals.

63 days to go; it's only going to get worse before it gets better; buckle up!





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Sen. Joe Biden's place of birth

If you've never read my blog before, you may not realize I was born and raised in NYC, about 1 mile from .   I left Queens at age 26, at which time I relocated to NE Pennsylvania.   Which means more than half of my life was spent growing up in NYC. 

was, indeed, born in Scranton, PA.   His family moved when he was 10. Sen. Biden is 65.

I can't point to anything specific that says when you've lived x years away from your place of birth, you can no longer state you're from that place.   However, if you've lived 55 years in one state, that pretty much trumps the 10 years of your youth spent in another state.

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