The reason I'm bringing this up is that I've noticed a disturbingly repetitive mantra going around for the last few years concerning closing borders and (like the title says) keeping out "those immigrants mucking up our country". From where I'm sitting, the immigrants that are "mucking up the country" are the descendents of the European immigrants (those pesky 'white' people) who seem bound and determined to destroy liberty in the name of security.
I'd just like to point out that, unless you are a brown-skinned 'native' (what the average 'white' American thinks of as 'Mexican' but are most likely people who aren't from Mexico at all; merely true 'Native Americans', those pesky 'indians' that white settlers have never been able to get rid of, or the native populations of America that the Spanish subjugated and abused for hundreds of years. Chicanos, Hispanics, whatever you want to call yourselves) then you are the descendant of an immigrant. You have no more right to be here than those being called 'illegal aliens' today because they crossed some line drawn on a map by people who have never been to the area in question.
And "closing the border" is an impossibility. You can patrol it, and turn back the migrants, but truly closing it can't be feasibly done. Nor do I think that it's desirable in the long run to do the limited amount of patrolling that can be done. Why? Because migrant workers do most of the 'work' in the South and Midwest, and not just because they work cheap. I don't know any immigrant (white) guys who are willing to work out in the sun all day, every day for a living; but I can't count the number of 'natives' that I've worked with over the years who don't even blink at doing so. If the border could be effectively closed, the resulting price spikes for construction and food production (not to mention manufacturing) would probably devastate the economy.
So what would work? Allowing in and documenting anybody who was willing to work (one of the only things the sitting president has said that I have ever agreed with) Ending 9/10's of the welfare programs (including corporate welfare) that act as a lure, and a crutch, for people who aren't willing to work. Ending the empire building and military meddling around the globe that the US is engaged in. Get back to the core of what this country was about to begin with (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and stop thinking that we have the 'right' to demand whatever we want of the world.
And the Terrorists? Frankly, the only terrorists that we've seen on our own soil were trained by terrorists that we trained in Afghanistan. We seem to be our own worst enemy, or as people more poetical than me have said "We get the best enemies money can buy". I think we should stop buying them.
I'm sure the mantra will go on. It's a mindset that sells in this day and age; fear of 'others', fear of those 'outside'. However, if you are going to go raging on about 'closed borders' and 'true Americans', you are going to eventually look like an idiot, because the reality of the situation won't be corrected by that type of rhetoric. But then I think that time has come and gone when it comes to Boortz. Mighty Whitey, indeed.
[I'm apparently breaking some rule or other by letting the little voices in my head out; they're supposed to be my secret or something]
...Links directing me to sites detailing the "History of Christmas" and the like. Good natured people trying to make sure I understand the Christian intent of the holiday. I seem to have opened a can of worms here.
So I guess I'll offer further explanation. For What It's Worth, I'm a purist on the subject of religion...
[and not much else. I figure religion is one of those types of things where you can afford to be a purist or idealist. After all, if your own beliefs can't be your own beliefs, what's the point of claiming anything as being your own]
...either I agree with the main tenets of the faith, philosophy, whatever, or I don't. If I don't, then I don't claim to agree just to put myself in the 'right' group. It's one of the reasons I'm no longer a (practicing or otherwise) Christian. In my experience, most people who call themselves Christian do so because it's expected of them, and go to church for 'fellowship' (What those of us in SF circles get from a good convention) not because they have a 'belief' in god. Few of the remainder read the bible, or attempt to find out what it really means to be Christian.
At one point in the past, I was one of 'the few'. I took the teachings of the church to heart and tried to make sense of what was expected of me as a Christian. I have read a majority of the Bible (can't say I've read it cover to cover) and I've read the scriptures of other religions as well. I was one of those 'born agains' once; I consider myself fortunate to have fallen off of that wagon.
So, please harbor no illusions about 'saving' me (I've got a GOOHF card for that) or thinking that perhaps I just don't get it.
As I pointed out before; Christmas, as a religious holiday, is a Catholic creation. I'll defer to them as to what that means within a religious context (I ran across an interesting site discussing the twelve days of Christmas while looking around for that site) Yule is also a religious holiday, with it's own customs.
I celebrate the secularized solstice holiday referred to in the US as 'Christmas', which involves a jolly fat guy who delivers presents dressed in a red suit. We spend the holiday with family and friends, giving gifts and trying to brighten the 'Winter' (Winter in central Texas is a frame of mind more than anything else; it certainly doesn't have much to do with the weather) I also spend time reflecting on what the passing of this year means to me, and preparing to celebrate the New Year.
I guess, in a way, I still hearken back to the original 'holiday', the classic 12 days. But mine is more like 7 days (or 10 days, from the actual solstice to the end of the year) Maybe I'll have to make up my own mnemonic song...
[But has since been moved. Here's a link to the author's site]
...It just happens that the version of White Christmas being used to back up the animation is one that I have always liked since I heard it featured on The Santa Clause a few years back. Me being the curious foot chewer that I am, I wrote the following:
So who is singing that version of the song? I don't recognize the singer.Should have known what response I would get:
not sure who that is????....sounded/looked like santa to me, with a reindeer accompaniment???????? :-) but i realize there are a lot of santa impostors out there....nothing is sacred anymore it seems....everyone trying to cash in on holy-days seasons.....alohaYeah, really set myself up for that one, didn't I?
So who is the voice behind the big red guy? Well, I tracked down the singers on my own. It would be The Drifters. I'm going to put it on my to buy list for next year. Have a Funky Christmas.
I have a different kind of list in mind. A list of standard rants that I just want to get off my chest. The opportunity for them occurs nearly every "Holiday Season". So let's just get to it, shall we?
Every year, I hear the same thing. "Holiday this" and "Holiday that" and the counter mantra "they're taking god out of Christmas". There seems to be some confusion about the origin of 'Christmas'. Let's see if we can clear this up, eh?
Christmas is a 'bastardization' of "Christ's Mass", which is a Catholic celebration. The Catholics, being the earliest example of 'admen' on the planet, realized that they could more easily sell their religion if they simply adopted the holidays in the areas that they wished to convert. When they moved into Northern Europe, they took on the holiday known as Yule and incorporated it into their religion as the day of Christ's birth (even though it's considered most likely that the date would have been in spring) ergo, "Christ's Mass". (Mass being what a protestant refers to as a 'sermon') What I'm getting at is, if you are calling the holiday 'Christmas' and you aren't a Catholic, you are referring to the secularized holiday formerly known as Yule. There is no need to further secularize it by calling it a "Holiday".
(I was at a charter school the other day that is hosted at a Catholic Church, and they actually used the phrase "Holiday Party" to describe the Christmas Party. If there's one group that should be using the word "Christmas" it's the Catholics)
So, if you hear me wish you a "Merry Christmas", it's because "May your feast of the Winter Solstice be enjoyable" is too cumbersome to say repeatedly.
"Jesus is the reason for the season". See the above rant. Axis tilt (22.5 degrees) is the reason for the season. Lack of sunlight causing depression is the reason for the celebration. Marketing is the reason that Jesus is associated with the season.
Admen everywhere should give thanks for their unique heritage; and I really don't understand a protestants insistance on associating Jesus and the Holiday formerly known as Yule. I thought they wanted to get away from Papal edict?
For some reason, the last few Christmas seasons have occasioned messages in my inbox exhorting us to rediscover our 'Christian roots', telling us to hold tight to our language and our culture. Most of them have declarative statements similar to the following:
"...Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented."
Anyone who has done more than a cursory hours worth of work on the subject KNOWS that this is incorrect. If you are talking about the 'Founding fathers', then you are talking about educated men for whom the dogma of organized religion represented the belief system of the past. True men of the enlightenment age (most of them) while they still professed a belief in god, they were not 'Christians'. Fully half of them were acknowledged 'Deists', which is the belief system of the true 'father' of the philosophy that is enshrined in the founding documents, John Locke, who first wrote the famous phrase as life, liberty, and estate (Jefferson changed the last to "Pursuit of Happiness" for various reasons)
But, the basis for this (country and philosophy) is not Christianity!
If, however, you are talking about the average people who founded this country...
...Then you would also be mistaken. From Buddhism to Zoroastrianism America has been host to every religion known to man, and those who came here weren't told to "check their religion at the door". We don't even "Speak English" as some of the posts assert (the British would attest to that quite readily) walk into any major city and see how many languages you run across.
While I despise the word "multiculturalism" as much as the next guy (the next guy probably being blissfully ignorant of Postmodernism and it's adherent's dismissal of objective reality and reason. Reason being the basis for Humanism and the Enlightenment, this country's REAL foundations) the "Melting pot" that is America isn't something that happens instantaneously; and as with any alloy, the base material is changed by what is added.
Yes, I know, I've ruined Christmas for you. I'm sorry but, the world isn't as simple as you want it to be, it won't change just because you think it should, and like those toys you bought for the kids, it won't go back in the !@#$%^&*! box so that you can return it to the pimply clerk that sold it to you so that you can just get the preassembled one that has all the pieces in the right place! The kid will be happy for the gift anyway, he probably won't notice the missing parts, and the world will continue to spin on it's (tilted) axis whether we will it or not.
Just relax, sit back, and have some more eggnog (or whatever your beverage of choice is) it's just a few more weeks and then we'll have a whole new year of problems to deal with. Now isn't that a refreshing outlook?
...Oh, and Merry Christmas!
So too with the Eagles, which I could have sworn have been doing farewell tours the last two years running. I guess it's one of those extended goodbyes. Like the slow dances to their songs with high school girlfriends, you just don't want those moments to be over. The next thing you know you're 40 and have a gut that you wouldn't want to show on stage. I noticed none of them seem to have that problem.
Coming in 9th is Jimmy Buffett. Way back in '76 I can remember singing "lost shaker of salt" and wondering why you would need one for a place called "Margauritaville". That guy started when the Eagles did, released albums and toured through the entire 14 years that they "went their separate ways", was probably touring when Bono decided he was only going to have one name, and he's still grossing in the top 10 acts of 2005.
I knew I was a parrothead for a reason. Or maybe it's the other way around...
The quote is:
"For some reason, apart from my general opposition to capital punishment (which pretty much comes down to "I can't trust politicians to deliver mail on time; why the hell would I trust them to decide who needs killin'?"), I didn't find "Tookie's" case exceptionally compelling. Maybe if I'd studied the case more closely I would have, but I let it go by because ... well, pretty much because a lot of people more prominent, more educated in the facts of the case and more interested had already taken it up. So. Anyway. Another state-sanctioned killing under the bridge."(emphasis added)
I can define my opposition to the death penalty quite easily. The government should not be allowed to do anything that individuals within the society are not allowed to do. Killing in self defense is allowed, and cops and prison guards should be armed (and forgiven) for actions taken in 'self defense' of themselves and 'society'.
But, I have a hard time believing that an unarmed prisoner strapped to a gurney (or a chair, depending on your states murder predilection) presents any kind of a threat. And the killing of that person can only be counted as murder, making us no better than the murderer that we have exacted justice upon.
Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is preferable, in my opinion, than making myself party to murder; even if the man that we are killing "needed it".
Mea culpa review 2017. I know I'm not a libertarian anymore because I feel no need to utter the word state when I mean government. When you need special words to describe the thing you hate, so that people like you can understand what you mean, you have started down the road to mass hallucination. However, the subject of killing in cold blood remains largely the same for me as it was back in the 90's when I convinced myself I was a libertarian.
I believed in the death penalty as a child, I took the pro-death penalty side in our high school debate team. We patted ourselves on the back for discovering the pat notion that beyond a shadow of a doubt meant the convicted were guilty. As a child I knew everything and it was certain. What a comfort it was then, absolute certainty of truth. That kind of thinking went out the window for me with my health. I know so little now, it is a wonder that I find the certainty to set words to paper.
When I realized that people were fallible, that government was frequently in error, that majority opinion had no more connection to reality than the flipping of a coin, I backed away from believing that we were ever going to be smart enough to know who really needs killing. I have a challenge for those who hold fast to the belief that the death penalty is right and good. Listen to this podcast about people who are present at hundreds of executions, and then imagine yourself in their shoes, if you can.
For me, I recognize hell when I hear it described. I can hear eternal torment in every voice that speaks, especially the ones that say how much they believe in the death penalty still. I would not willingly stand in any of their shoes even for one execution.
I've lived in East Austin for about 15 years now, and I prefer it to any other portion of Austin. Imagine my mirth when I stumbled across this site today: http://www.incidentlog.com
In case you are wondering, the big blank spot on the East side of Austin is my 'neighborhood'. Ah, I really love being right sometimes. Wish it happened more often.
It contains a simple statement about value and how to retain it.
Pretty innocuous, don't you think?
Looks can be deceiving....
One of the members to the list this image was a part of wrote:
The statement is false. $30,000.00 in silver 1 .oz at time will not buy a house in my market...won't even touch it besides the fact no one would take payment for a house in silver liberty. Just an evaluation.Being bored, and wanting to make a few people think, I wrote the following:
If you had saved 30,000 dollars in silver dollars, as minted by the US prior to the 60's (which was 1 dollar for 1 ounce) you would have 300,000 dollars in silver coins (at least) today. Enough to buy a house in almost any market. That was the point being made; silver retains value, which makes the statement true. I would be willing to bet that a deal could be made in which silver can be exchanged for property. Most people who own property understand what real value is.
Then this flew out of the peanut gallery:
The math is off here... Most US silver dollars (Morgan's, Peace) have a net silver content of .77344 per $1(This is a higher content than the pre-65 dimes, quarters and halfs). 30,000 times .77344 equals 23,203.2 ounces of silver times $7oz equals $162,422.40. This amount is further contingent on someone actually giving you spot.My response "whatever, enough to buy a house" lead to a rather lengthy exchange concerning house values, the definition of "return", the definition of "Dream House", the questionable parental blood lines of parties to the argument, the sexual practices of those involved, etc. and ad nauseam (the average flame war) which then ended up with this:
Return on investment(real inflation maybe?)
Annualized Return: 4.31%
Return for the entire period: 440.80%
Starting date: 9/8/1965
Starting value: $30,000.00
Ending date: 9/8/2005
Ending value: $162,422.40
I'm beating a dead horse here, but I like horse paste, I guess. All the bitching about what the value of silver coins from 40 years ago would be today lead me to investigate what was available 40 years ago, and what it would be worth today.
If you go here there is a description of what was available, coinage wise, and why, during the period being referenced.
So the coins that were available (and at face value then) were the Morgan and Peace dollars. Referencing the price guides at the links above, and going with the lowest price listed (15 dollars, if I'm not mistaken) for a silver dollar of that era, we get a rough value for 30,000 silver dollars being something in the realm of 450,000 dollars, not the 300,000 thousand that I originally estimated. As you can see, I was being conservative in my estimate.
Of course, the coins would probably have to be sold at auction, and so the value might be lower, but then there would be the odd coin that would have a greater value, and so the value might also be higher.
...BUT, even given the (inflated) average value for a house in the US as stated by others, 225,000 dollars, you could clearly buy a 'better than average' house (a 'dream house' in the estimation of the average person) with 30,000 silver dollars saved for 40 years.
With that argument, gentlemen, I rest my case. ;-)
There was, of course, another explosion from the peanut gallery (something about my mother, I'm sure) but I consider the case closed. I'm probably mistaken though.
Why? Because this sort of stuff can just keep cropping up:
This might provide a more easily comprehensible example to those of us who have not been 29 for 35 or so years.I mean, it never ends, does it? Now I have to go fight a vampire federal government, when all I was worried about was some newbies question about a t-shirt design involving using US silver dollars to buy a house...
When I was in high school, (58, 59, 60, and 61) you could go into any bank and exchange Federal Reserve Notes in any denomination for Silver Dollars (also known at the time as "Cartwheels". They contain 371.?? grains of fine silver and some other metals to make them wear better as circulating coins. They were therefore 90% silver as required by the U.S. Constitution and the 1792 Coinage Act made in pursuance thereof. They were honest weights and measures.Convertibility into silver was stopped in 1964.
Had you, in 1963 placed 3,000 Silver Dollars into one Safe Deposit Box and 3000 one-dollar Federal Reserve Notes in another Safe Deposit Box, and still had them today, you could make this comparison.
In 1963, If memory serves, you could buy a fully loaded mid-line Chevy for about $3000.00. (remember, you could convert paper to silver and silver to paper then one-for-one)
If you went to your Safe Deposit Boxes today, and drew out those two stashes of $3000.00, the 3000.00 silver dollars would still buy you a brand new mid line Chevy (because you could convert them into $30,000.00 in Federal reserve notes by selling them at current market prices.)
However, the 3000 Federal Reserve Note "dollars" that you took out of the other Safety Deposit Box, would probably scarcely buy you much more than a nice set of wheels, tires and wheel covers.
The U.S. "Government" has become the greatest enemy of Freedom and Prosperity ever to exist on this planet. It smashes and crushes Liberty everywhere; like a plague of Locusts it consumes everything its path, leaving "scorched earth" and rotting bodies behind, all the while, grinning like some evil clown and proclaiming that it is trying to "Spread Freedom" to all peoples.
It is effectively a parasite which is like a vampire that has learned not to immediately kill the host; but simply drink it's blood a little at a time, keeping it weak and emaciated but still retaining it as a food source.
The Federal Reserve admits that the income tax is NOT to raise revenue to run the government, but is primarily to facilitate the "re-distribution of income." What do they mean by that? What they mean by that in plain English is that it's purpose is to raise money to buy votes with and thereby enable it to continue it's consumption of all that is good in America.
America today is like a once robust, but gaunt, weak and sickly "Paul Bunyan", lumbering along - unaware of the giant vampire bat attached to the back of his neck. The Vampire (U.S. Government) grows bigger and stronger by the day and will soon be larger than the host. It, like any parasite, will continue to feed until the host dies, unless the gentle giant awakens to his plight and removes the Vampire from his neck.
ScoT contact info
Computer redistricting. Anything else is Gerrymandering.
Strangely enough, this is old news. What I want to know is, why didn't the state act on the following two years ago?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE JON ROLAND 512-374-9585
TESTIMONY FOR NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING
Austin, Texas, July 2, 2003 -- The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Redistricting heard testimony today from members of the Coalition for Non-partisan Redistricting, Robert Howard, Jon Roland, and Patrick Dixon.
A video clip of the testimony can be viewed online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/committee78/30702p38.ram. To view it you will need a viewer such as RealPlayer from http://www.real.com. See also http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/redistricting.php.
In their testimony, the witnesses rejected not just the proposed new redistricting map, but the map used in the last election as well, and asked the Legislature to adopt a new method of obtaining district maps that is impersonal and not subject to human tampering or political manipulation. Instead of debating and adopting particular maps, the act would provide the specifications for the computer program, called Target, to use in drawing the map, and whatever map the computer produced would be the official map to be used in the next election.
The witnesses explained that each time the computer program is run, it produces a different map. The process is random. But all of the maps will meet the specifications. If anyone doesn't like the maps, they should advocate different specifications. But any such specifications would be explicit and subject to public debate and judicial scrutiny.
Roland suggested that if the Legislature is concerned about the computer producing anomalous maps, the proposal could be modified to have the computer generate, say, a dozen maps, and then have a certain number of "strikes", as are used to exclude prospective jurors during jury selection, to be applied by various members of the Legislature to eliminate some maps. The final selection would then be made from among the remaining maps by random lot.
Roland emphasized that this controversy threatens the precious bipartisan collegiality that has prevailed in Texas for more than a century, which allows legislative proposals from all parties and factions to be considered on their merits. If we allow such devisive issues to shatter that tradition, the result may be that only proposals by the leaders of the dominant party will have any chance of being heard. The result would not favor good or efficient government.
The proposal is at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/tx/redistrict/cnpr_proposal.htm.
The Texas Legislative Council site is http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/
For a demonstration of the computer software see
Our efforts depend on donations from people like you. Directions for donors are at http://www.constitution.org/whatucando.htm Constitution Society 7793 Burnet Road #37, Austin, TX 78757 512/374-9585 www.constitution.org firstname.lastname@example.org
Concerning "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeleiver" which I finished re-reading for the 4th time recently.
I stumbled across several words that seemed, well, obscure at best this time around. I was trying to explore the unexplored with this reading (in preparation for the next series of books) so I've been taking time to research a few of the more impenetrable words on the 'net. I was pleased when I Google'd up this thread online. In fact, it was the only reference for the word "unhermeneuticable", which was how I found it in the first place. Words like "Formication" (a feeling like insects crawling under your skin) can be found there as well.
For those who might be interested (they never corrected the definition at Kevin's Watch) "Unhermeneuticable" would derive it's definition from it's root:
Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
: the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of
the Bible) (from www.m-w.com)
Which, as "unhermeneuticable" would be something like "a non-methodological principle of interpretation". Basically an "inexplicable conclusion", most likely with religious overtones.
[The author himself has answered this question, here]
A few words on the proper reading of Donaldson, from an expert:
* Unless you are reading the first Covenant trilogy, prepare your brain to be stretched to new proportions. SRD writes on a college level. He pulls no punches, and he doesn't explain obscure concepts unless they are key to the novel's progression. You are expected to keep up.
The first Covenant Trilogy was written under extreme editorial pressure. They sliced out whole chapters, and re-edited much of the writing to make it appeal to less-educated and younger people. He himself has commented on this, and included one of the chapters that was removed in the short story collection "Daughter of Regals".
Every other set of books that he's written has been longer and far more difficult to understand than the first Covenant trilogy.
* Plot progression can be slow. Glacially slow in some books. That's OK, because plot isn't what you read Donaldson for. As an example, the first two books of the Gap series are merely an intro to the story that the Gap series tells. It doesn't really get rolling until the third book and the introduction of the grafted Thermopyle (pronounced "Ther-MOP-i-lee, BTW) character.
* Donaldson is obsessed with exploring the concept of redemption. Because of this, pretty much every character he creates suffers horribly through a good portion of the story. I've had several people tell me that they couldn't get past the descriptions of leprosy in the first few chapters of "Lord Foul's Bane". But if you don't understand the suffering of the character, you won't appreciate the monumental task of redeeming that character. Exploring the world of leprosy
brings you face to face with the impossibility of Covenant's ever accepting himself in the role of hero. Reliving the crimes of the characters in the Gap series (explored in the first two books) gives you an idea of what those characters face when the true nature of the threat to humanity is revealed in the later novels.
That pretty much covers it. I finished the second book in "Gap" and went "that's it? The next one better get better" and doggedly went on. I was rewarded with a pretty decent story from that point onward. It was a lot like reading "Dune Messiah" and "Children of Dune". Doesn't make any sense unless you read "God Emperor of Dune". That's where the payoff is.
"Stone and Sea are deep in life,two unalterable symbols of the worldpermanence at rest and permanence in motion:participants in the Power that remains..." Giantish truism
[heard a pretty funny quote from one of the Highway maintenance people. They were going to apply a special chemical "prophylactically" (his exact word, I kid you not) to keep ice off the roads. He had the guys at the radio station scratching their heads about it for about an hour.]
...Covering all the bridges and generally creating a confused mess. In the midst of all this, I try and make my way home. Nearly there, I come across one of the helpful public servants who has parked his neon yellow vehicle across the 4 lane bridge and is directing traffic...
...Directing traffic onto the FLY-OVER RAMP! Single lane, 30 feet higher in the air than the bridge he had so helpfully closed with his vehicle. And he couldn't figure out why I wouldn't follow his directions, if you can believe that.
I did finally make it home (obviously) but it makes a great point about government assistance, doesn't it? Really guys, I appreciate the thought, but I'd like to be allowed to make my own decisions. If it isn't too much trouble. OK?
Well actually I'm going to do it anyway, just thought I would ask first.
With the passage of Prop. 2 here in Texas, the majority has officially endorsed the end of "equality before the law". What do I mean by that? Quite simply, they have stated that certain individuals have more rights than others, according to law. That if you cohabitate with 'A' member of the opposite sex, you can declare what you have a 'marriage', and claim the privilege that come along with it. Things like tax exemptions, health insurance coverage for 'family members', etc. Things not available to people who happen to cohabitate with any number of other people (no matter what sex they are) for whatever reason. Prop. 2 writes into the Texas Constitution that a household formed of one man and one woman has rights that others in the state don't have, setting up preferential treatment for a specific portion of the population. Some of us (and since I'm one of the special people who happens to cohabitate with a woman, I'm one of 'us'. Go figure) have more rights than others, and it's written right into the 'law of the land'. Equal before the law? Not any more.
How dare they put their faith above everything else? "Marriage is Sacred" they say. Then why can it be performed by a judge? It's just another contractual arrangement now, no matter what it was in ancient times. If they wanted to retain the 'sacred' rites of marriage, then they should never have allowed the government to take part in the rites at all. It should only be performed in a church.
Back at the dawn of the internet, I used to spend time arguing on various forums on CompuServe (back when I was simply known as 71613,email@example.com, before AOL bought the company and gutted it of it's hardware) on the Gay and Lesbian forum I had several arguments with well intentioned people who were convinced that they needed special laws to protect them. I only ceased arguing with them when they provided proof that they were still persecuted in modern day America. I ceased to argue with them, but my views have not changed. There should not be 'special' laws for any group in America. Not for Gays, not for Women, not for Minorities; and most definitely not for 'Marriage'.
I was, and still am outraged at this; especially in light of the 'straight' majority in Texas having now added one more misbegotten and meaningless amendment to the Texas constitution (a document that with each passing election shouts it's need for complete replacement; just try reading it sometime) that will most likely backfire as have most of the ones before it. And I really hope it does. Just waiting for that case that opens the can of worms. "What do you mean, no marriages are 'legal' in the state of Texas? How could that be..."
AUSTIN, Texas — The owner of six dogs that fatally mauled an elderly woman as she worked in her yard will likely not be charged with a serious crime, Milam County Sheriff Charlie West said Monday.
West said that he has consulted with District Attorney Kerry Spears and that they have been unable to conclude that owner Jose Hernandez committed a felony.
"There are no laws that apply," West said. "We are still looking, but it is going to be hard to make anybody responsible for it."
Five of the dogs were euthanized Monday; the victim's husband shot the other dog.
West has said that Hernandez apparently kept the six pit bull-Rottweiler mixed-breed dogs in a pen behind a 3-foot chain-link fence. It was not clear how they got out of the pen.
Hernandez could not be reached Monday, two days after the dogs attacked and killed Lillian Stiles, 76, as she was tending her yard and flowers atop a riding lawn mower. Her body was taken to Dallas for an autopsy, which officials said had not been completed Monday.
Stiles' husband Jack was inside their house north of Thorndale, Texas, about 50 miles northeast of Austin, watching a football game when the attack occurred. Two passersby, Weldon and Maurita Smith, saw Lillian Stiles' body in her yard and tried to help.
Weldon Smith also was attacked and injured before Jack Stiles shot one of the dogs.
West said the euthanized dogs were sent to the Texas Department of State Health Services for rabies and other testing.
West said Hernandez is cooperating with the investigation and has said that his knee-high grandchildren have played with the dogs.
He said investigators have no indication that the dogs were being used for fighting and that a veterinarian who examined them said they had no signs of "war-like injuries," such as cuts or broken bones.
"To him (Hernandez), the dogs weren't vicious," West said. "They were just pets."
In 2003, the most recent year with available statistics, 288 people were hospitalized for dog bites and one person died, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Hernandez's house, down a dirt driveway from the road that runs in front of the Stiles' property, appeared empty Monday afternoon. A nearly full 50-pound bag of dog kibble sat on the screened porch and the gate one the fenced yard had a metal "T" painted with the visage of a bulldog — the Thorndale school district mascot.
The Stiles' next-door neighbors reported seeing a big black dog near Lillian Stiles around 3:40 p.m. Saturday as they returned from Cameron.
"Oh, they've got a new dog," Lauren Shumaker said she told her husband, Don. The couple said they had never seen a pack of dogs along the road.
Jimmy Hinistroza, pastor at San Gabriel Evangelistic Christian Church, lives immediately north of Hernandez's house and said he saw two of the six dogs at the church's property line early Saturday afternoon. He shooed a black Rottweiler away, he said, but the other one — a pit bull — "kept staring at me."
"I've seen those two dogs many a time," Hinistroza said. "I'd never seen the pack. I never knew this man had other pit bulls. If I'd have known, I would have talked to him because I know what pit bulls can do."
Children routinely hike several acres of turf behind the church on Sunday afternoons, he said, but he temporarily barred anyone from going outside Sunday because the shot dog had yet to be found; the dog's body turned up in the Stiles' back yard.
"It could have been worse if all those children were out there," Hinistroza said.
Hinistroza dedicated his Sunday sermon to Lillian Stiles, whom he described as a fixture on her rider mower, tending a lawn and garden that "looks like a little paradise," Hinistroza said. "We all loved her."
To: Kerry Spears [District attorney for Milam County]
This is an outrage. According to the reports that I have heard, the dogs were kept behind a fence that was just over 3 feet tall, they attacked in a coordinated pack (as if they were used to hunting together) and they killed a woman in her own front yard. They also attacked a would-be rescuer.
...and there isn't anything to charge the dog owner with? Manslaughter? Criminal negligance? Anything? The fence was of insuffcient height to keep the animals contained, they had been trained to attack in a pack (or had been foraging enough to have learned the behavior) and they have a registered owner. I don't know what else is needed to charge the man with SOMETHING.
I for one am sick and tired of this mantra that we "don't have a law to cover this" (as if dog attacks are something new to the 21st century) You are tasked with upholding the law and seeing that justice is done in your county. This woman's death will be on your heads as much as the dog owners if nothing is done about it now.
If you also feel the urge to send a comment to the District attorney in Milam county, you'll have to send it by fax or snail mail. Only the Sherriff's office has a working e-mail address. Even the commissioners court is without internet service, apparently. Talk about not being in the 21st century.
Crossed the teenager today. During a discussion, I suggested in an overly loud voice that perhaps thinking about the situation at hand was what was needed, rather than attempting to make something work that wasn't going to. What followed was a "I hate you", and a steadfast insistence that all parents wish to make their (teenage) children suffer. No amount of reason (yeah, funny. Reasoning with a child, right? Sometimes I kill even myself) made the slightest dent. I was being unfair, and being unfair is an unforgivable sin. The hated one was not going to be given an inch of respite, no matter how many hours the argument drug out too.
Fine. As an 'old guy', I have a emotional investment cap that I set for myself. At some point I just have to say "do I really care that much about X?" ('X' being whatever the child, or whoever, is raging about at the moment) If the answer is 'no', I don't make the investment in working up a decent rant, and I walk away none the worse and not feeling any regrets. In the ever more infrequent instances that the answer is 'yes', then I have to make a stand.
So here it is. It's 'not' unfair to expect teenagers to pull their weight and do household chores; and I really 'hate' it when someone thinks they are exempt from doing them, whether they get paid or not.
Yes, I know. A radical stand, and a serious emotional investment in working up such a lengthy rant as well. Sometimes you just have to draw the line.
A few years back I responded to a survey that the NRA sent me and ever since then they've decided that I'm a great untapped fiscal resource. While I think it's sweet that they thought of me, I have a little problem with them, and here it is. The NRA wants to protect hunting. Not the right to keep and bear arms, hunting. For the NRA the argument is only about the rights of gun owners to go out and shoot at animals as a sport, not about maintaining an adequate defense of the nation from enemies foreign and domestic. And that is a problem for me.
I'd give to the NRA if they only had the balls that they act like they have. If you want to know what I mean, drop by the GOA (Gun Owners of America) site and take a look at what they have to say on the issue of guns and gun possession, and then go and read the documents that formed the republic that was the US. Once you've done this you'll probably begin to understand that hunting was never an issue for the framers. Oh, hunting was part of the deal, while you were out drilling with the militia you had to eat something; but they didn't want the average person to have guns so that they could hunt deer on the weekends. The reason is, that an armed and trained population is a force to be reckoned with all on it's own. The ability to stand up and say no when push comes to shove is something that keeps the power hungry at bay. Or it should.
(And this is the real problem with focusing on the right to bear arms as the key issue right here and now)
The average man not just having, but being trained in the use of weapons is key to the deterrent effect. Outside of a few active militias, that training is sadly lacking. Without the training, guns in the hands of average citizens is a minor deterrent at best, which probably does more to explain the current state of the union than anything else. Without education, without an understanding of how and why things work the way they do, all our potential is wasted. A loaded gun just waiting to be misused. And misused it most likely will be.
This is the first post I wrote on the subject of guns for the blog. While I've owned guns for as long as I can remember, I never felt much of a need to write about them. Living in the small towns that have been home for most of my life, I never met anyone who didn't own a gun. In Texas there are few people, even in the cities, who don't own firearms.
It was Austin where I met my first gunphobe (as opposed to a gunnut or ammosexual) someone with a pathological fear of firearms. Over the years I've met many of them, so I don't doubt they exist.
But like christians insisting that they are persecuted when they can't promote their religion everywhere they want to, gunnuts are convinced that they have to be allowed to display their favored fetish everywhere or they are being disarmed. This is the problem that has developed with the NRA in the years after writing this post. This always was a problem with the GOA (which has rightly run afoul of watchdog organizations that track hate groups) it just wasn't recognizable until after the court decision that allowed citizens to defend themselves with firearms wasn't enough. After a dozen states and more had passed Stand Your Ground laws that have been shown to be horribly flawed pieces of racist legislation.
Disarming the population isn't a solution to the violence problem, although it will reduce the number of gun deaths. People will still beat each other to death with bats, stab each other to death with knives. On The Other Hand, giving everyone a gun will actually lead to more gun deaths, this is a statistically unavoidable outcome. It will happen as a simple side effect of there being more weapons in more hands.
No, the firearm problem is best addressed with something like what Jim Wright offers over at Stonekettle Station in his piece Bang, Bang Sanity. Solutions based on the NRA's own gun safety guidelines.
If we pursued liability for gun miscreants as Jim outlines, mass shootings would rapidly become a rare occurrence again. It is too bad that not even the NRA can recognize their own rules anymore.
Seems to me you wouldn't want to punish the people who pay you money for your product, something I've meticulously done when music that I like is available on disk. You know, plan A: follow the law, reward the creative types with the money they deserve for creating the music we enjoy; doing the "right thing". After Sony's little fiasco, I think I'll go with plan "B" from now on.
As someone who does computer maintenance as a sideline, I've seen what it takes to clean up a hijacked system like they are describing. It's called "Fdisk, format, reinstall". If that's what you get for following the rules and purchasing music from the RIAA supporting music vendors, then I think I'm a rule breaker from here on out.
This is what you get for letting the corporations dictate policy for you, as the link under the RIAA above points out. Snooping bastards poking around in all the nooks and crannies on your system just to make sure you don't have a secret copy of Bob Dylan's version of "Watchtower" (or heaven forbid anything by Metallica) out there that you didn't actually pay for.
Do any of us need that?
I'm thinking of digging out all my old vinyl and re-mastering the content to MP3 just for the hell of it now. All those old Barry Manilow and Earth, Wind and Fire albums in fresh new MP3 format. That'll show 'em, right?
The Sony BMG rootkit scandal is finally winding down.
The settlement that Sony has agreed to includes a payment of 150 dollars to anyone who can show damage due to the rootkit, as well as replacement of any CD's which contain the rootkit. I hope the rest of the media companies are paying attention to this.
Yahoo story, ARS story
She's never completed the sentence. Actually, I do know what it means to me. It means it's getting colder outside and I want to keep my chin warm. It means I hate shaving and jump at the chance to avoid it (even though 'beard' is a loose term for what actually grows) It means I like to try growing a beard every fall. Don't know what it means to her. Don't think I actually want to know. Which is, in fact, the reason for shaving in the first place.
If I can't get an all in one guide to "what things mean", then I'd just as soon be spared the tortuous process of figuring out why something means something else to the person who is offended. And since I can't avoid family, I'll just shave and avoid the process altogether. It's the least I can do.
I wonder what she would think if I told her I once had an ear pierced? That I shared earrings with my female friends when we would go to clubs? "Well, you know what that means..."
If such a thing did occur (sudden collapse of the economy due to lack of oil) there wouldn't be much left that is worth living for, much less investing in. Thankfully, there are replacements for natural oil that are making headway in the marketplace.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel is one example.
When I first stumbled across the doom and gloom mantra being preached by modern 'environmentalists' (I was recycling when recycling wasn't cool, BTW. I don't think much of today's crop) I did some research into the subject of shortages and what has happened through history when they occurred.
The one that seemed most similar was the period when we shifted from whale oil to crude oil (the IMHO misnomered 'fossil fuel') there were similar predictions of doom and gloom, none of which came to pass because the markets simply shifted to crude oil.
I was unable to track down the articles I originally referenced for these facts, they have been covered up by thousands of repetitive articles on 'Peak Oil'. That fact says more than any number of historical links. It's the 'in' idea of the moment, and that's all they are talking about. But it isn't convincing to me.
"Why would Peak Oil be different?" (not my blog, but a good entry) quotes Steven Levitt:What most of these doomsday scenarios have gotten wrong is the fundamental idea of economics: people respond to incentives. If the price of a good goes up, people demand less of it, the companies that make it figure out how to make more of it, and everyone tries to figure out how to produce substitutes for it. Add to that the march of technological innovation (like the green revolution, birth control, etc.). The end result: markets figure out how to deal with problems of supply and demand.Pretty much sums it up for me. I just don't have time to contemplate end of the world scenarios, I guess.
Was I coming on too strong?
I was introduced to ALD about 4 years ago by Michael Badnarik, back when he was just a computer programmer looking for work, and not the most recognizable Libertarian on the face of the planet. If I only knew then what I know now...
I'd have bought more silver, that's for sure.
I'm enjoying the fall chest crud. I'm crawling back off to bed.
It's funny looking back on it now. Begging friends to watch our 7 year old daughter (but Mom! what about Halloween?!?) Rushing to the hospital in a mad panic. Worrying that the baby would be too early. The disgusted look on the Neonatal's face when there wasn't anything for him to do after all. The argument between the delivering doctor and the Neonatal specialist on just 'how' early our son was ("He's not 6 weeks early!" "Yes, he is!") The thankfulness on both his mother's and my part that there wasn't anything for the specialist to do.
...Mom being bound and determined to get out of that hospital as soon as she could walk again. Tickles me to this day.
This one's for you son (and you too Hon) Happy Birthday.
What does this mean? For the life of me, I'm sitting there wondering to myself, what is it like to feel like "death warmed over"? The British say "death warmed up" but that just brings the image of a hot corpse to mind. Not very entertaining, that.
But, "death warmed over" could be something like death leftovers, perhaps. The box for the last dead guys coffin. The trash from somebody else's mourners; already wet tissues and crumpled programs with somebody else's name on them. Wilted flowers not deemed good enough to transport to the gravesite. The empty bottles and food trays from the 'really great wake' that somebody else had.
Death leftovers. Yeah, I don't think I want to feel that bad.
It was the muffling of sound that I noticed first, like I had a blown speaker in my head instead of in my car. This was in 1987 [actually, after further musing, I've come to the conclusion that my first vertigo attack was in 1983-4, when I lived in Abilene. I just didn't know what was happening to me then, and it didn't repeat until 1987] I was in my late 20's and still deeply into music. If it wasn't the constant ringing, then it was the echo chamber effect, a distortion of sound that occasionally made conversation difficult. Allergies, I thought. Allergies that are making my ears give me problems. I tried everything to get rid of the 'pressure' in my ears. The sauna worked best, at that time I had access to one. I would sit in that little wooden box until I couldn't stand it anymore, but the ringing and distortion would be temporarily eased by it. I also had some luck with hot showers, but that treatment brought on my first few vertigo attacks, I just never understood what they were.
Then I thought I was having a recurrence of ear infections related to allergies that had plagued me as a child. This was what I told the doctors that I would go see on a seasonal basis, and they obliged me by prescribing me allergy medicine; or antibiotics if I happened to be extra convincing that day. I popped antihistamines trying to relieve allergic reactions (sort of the right track, I guess) I've tried nearly every one on the market, none of which really had or still have any effect. I finally settled on Pseudoephedrine and Guafenesin, which I took nearly everyday for several weeks at a stretch, They seemed to be the only things that worked predictably every spring and fall when my ears would start acting up.
In retrospect, it seems odd that I just stumbled across what is a common treatment for the disease I now have been diagnosed with, Meniere's. I probably would not know what it was now if I had not been diagnosed with high blood pressure a few years ago. One of the things that they tell you when you go on the blood pressure medication is "do not take Decongestants, especially Pseudophed". So I quit, even though I knew the fall and spring season would be hell.
They were. In fact, it was a hell I had never even come close to experiencing before. I couldn't make the world hold still, sometimes for several days. The disorientation was bad enough, but the vertigo was disabling; and it just got worse. The attacks would hit me from out of nowhere. I would just have had a good meal, or I might just be holding my head the wrong way and the world would just take off spinning. I discovered Bonine about that time and I still carry Meclizine everywhere with me. I went to see my first ENT about that time as well, a totally useless individual who ran rather expensive tests on me, and then told me there was nothing wrong with me. Great, just the answer I wanted.
I love the Internet. If you want to know something, and can find your way to a search engine, you can find what you are looking for. The internet is quiet if you want it to be, too. Nothing that you need listen to other than the ringing in the ears. So I searched. One condition kept popping up that matched my symptoms. That couldn't be it though, surely. My wife thought it was the blood pressure medication, but through experimentation we determined that there was no real correlation between the two.
Fall rolled around again, and with it the serious vertigo attacks (This was 2002) attacks that had gotten so bad that I occasionally would end up passing out next to the toilet on the bathroom floor, like some teenage kid who didn't know what his alcohol limits ought to be. I decided to go to a different ENT (Ear Nose & Throat, for the uninitiated) one that a friend had recommended. I had determined that I was just going to discuss symptoms this time, and let him confirm what my suspicions were. After running through virtually the same tests that I had been through before, he asked me "have you ever heard of Meniere's disease?" OK, so I was right then.
I went through some sinus surgery over Christmas. Corrected a deviated septum, and they cleaned out the sinus passages to see if that reduced my allergic reactions. It seems to have worked somewhat, although the disorientation still bothers me on occasion, the serious vertigo attacks are becoming fewer now. The ringing and the pressure remain, however. I could go see a neurologist, I have a card for one currently in my wallet. It's something I'm thinking about. I think I'll go to an allergist first, I'm certain that if I can just get the allergies in check, the other symptoms will fade without the need for further surgery. Maybe it's just a dream, however.
Anyway, I'm turning 40 this year. Still don't know where the time went. Music is harder to listen to now, but I still plug in the odd disk and give it a listen over the tinnitis. I have to turn my right ear to conversations now, the left ear is nearly useless. I occasionally wish it would just stop working altogether, I would probably hear better then. I wonder if Van Gogh was a fellow sufferer sometimes. I could imagine doing something nearly as nutty as he did, just to get the ringing to stop.
I've been meaning to write this for some time now. I hate having to rely on somebody else when I 'should be' able to get by on my own. Needing to write this down and post it felt similar to me, needing somebody to know what I was going through, so I didn't do it. But I sat down tonight and WANTED to write this, so I did.
I hope somebody out there gets something positive from this. You aren't alone any more than I am. I have friends and family that are looking out for me (the wife seems to be too protective sometimes) so I try not to worry. But I wish it had been 'just an ear infection'. I wouldn't wish this disease on anybody.
Today, October 26th, 2005 -
Created this Blog. Pretty good day today. Don't know why I think that. The Wife lost her job last night. We did oversleep this morning. I slept with my good ear against the pillow and was consequently unable to hear the alarm this morning. The children got off to school OK, the Wife is back in bed asleep, and I'm up here (as usual) in front of the square headed girlfriend, typing my little fingers off. At least the world isn't spinning today.
Couldn't say that yesterday. Yesterday I couldn't stand up without nearly fainting each time from a “near vertigo attack” (the world snaps and starts to spin, but I focus on a single point until it goes away, or at least recedes) at least a full attack didn't surface. Can't say that for most of the rest of this year. Started out well enough. I had a job, I had an employer whom (I thought) understood my limitations, I had taken the time to explain Meniere's to him, and what I thought set it off, and the fact that I might miss work, sometimes a couple of days, and that I would do my best to make it up. I'd been there about 9 months in February when he called me into his office to inform me that he was letting me go because "I was sick too much". (NEWS FLASH, I think I know this!) This was the second employer to use this reason in letting me go, in about as many years. I decided that I would not seek another full time employment position, and would instead take on the odd contract job that I might be able to land. Unfortunately there hasn't been enough of that work.
Not that I've felt well enough to pursue much work this year. I have had more attacks this year than any year since I started keeping track. I was down with constant dizziness and occasional vertigo for 8 weeks this summer, which is something that has never happened. The few times that I have worked have been restricted by an attack at some point during the term of the contract. That's not good. When someone contracts time sensitive work to you, they don't want to hear about medical problems.
So here I am. Holidays approaching, no work in sight, wife not working at the moment, retirement money almost gone. But, I got up today and wasn't dizzy. I'm going to go walk the dogs and enjoy the sunshine. If I come back and I'm still not dizzy, life is good. We'll see.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Loneliness is the worst part of suffering from Meniere's. I generally don't need much attention, and even I find myself craving conversation. I might go a whole month with just the family and suddenly the urge to run out and talk to people becomes almost overwhelming.
This is understandable. As much as we like to pretend we are inviolate individuals, we are actually amalgams, a sampling of all the influences we are exposed to each day.
Being alone too much is destructive to the human animal. Go out and find people you can trust, if your family isn't supportive or attentive, and spend time in their presence. Don't wither and die alone, please.
I mentioned Menieres.org at the beginning of this post. That site has long since ceased to be updated. But it isn't the only resource. I would like to just mention a few that I am currently spending time on;
Facebook.com/Meniere's Resources which is associated with menieresresources.org I've been aware of this group for awhile and only recently found them on Facebook. I got sideways with a moderator in that group and so we're no longer on speaking terms. Probably just as well. I've had enough chirpy, syrupy optimism to last me for awhile now. However if that is your thing, drop by and say hi. Nothing but love, as the saying goes.
Facebook is where everything seems to happen these days, so it is no coincidence that there is more than one group for Meniere's there. The other one I frequent is called Spin Cycle.
Reddit.com/Meniere's - On a whim I decided to see if Reddit had a Meniere's group and they did. Not a lot of posts there, but if you post a message you'll generally get an answer within a day.
There is also a G+ group for Meniere's, but there isn't much traffic on it that I've noticed.
I do have a treatment regimen that I follow. I detail it here. If you want to do your own research and decide what is right for you, I highly recommend the Meniere's Disease Information Center. Don't let their critical writing style put you off, they're just trying to adhere to a proper level of skepticism when it comes to treatment claims. Everyone can profit from applying a little critical thinking to the problems they face.
A friend and fellow blogger has put together a decent list of resources here. Drop by and say HI! to him as well.
I describe how I got disability here. If you suffer from frequent vertigo and are unable to work full time on a regular basis as I was, then disability is just about your only option in the US.
The text of the page Me, Architecture and Meniere's Disease stands as record of how I came to suffer so many symptoms while pursuing my dreams of an architectural career. A dream which has sadly come to an end. I keep hoping I'll find another pursuit, or find a way to get back into architecture, but productivity and concentration remain limited and elusive.