Immigrants mucking up our country

Listening to Boortz today (Yeah, I know it was a repeat, so what?) He goes raging on about closing our borders so as to deflect terrorists and preserve "our way of life". I like to listen to the guy, but a libertarian he is not.

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.

Christmas, day Two

I keep getting comments on the "Lists" post, and I also get comments in my e-mail from people too bashful to comment publicly...

[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...

Christmas Card humor

So, I got the inevitable link to a flash Christmas card again this year. This one was hiding out on the servers at Reuters, for some reason...

[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.....aloha
Yeah, 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.

Christmas lists...

"Dear Buddha, I would like a pony and a plastic rocket..." says Mal

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?

First.
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.

Second.

"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?

Third.

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!

U2, The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett

The top Tour acts of 05 have just been reported. I'm not sure how this should be interpreted. I've always been a fan of U2, but I thought they were going to retire a few years back. I guess the lucrative concert tours have made them change their minds.

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...

Killing in cold blood

Reading Knappster today ("Surf Naked for Jesus" why did you change that?) Ran across his entry on the 1000th death penalty victim. I don't shed tears for murderers, whether they work for themselves or the state, but I do have one point I'd like to make.

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".

East of "the Great Wall"

I always bristle when the average Austinite speaks up and disparages the East side of Austin. There's this general impression of the East side (East of I-35, the "Great Wall") as being a trouble spot, where criminals run rampant and the residents cower in terror.

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/lookup.pl?Src=81

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.

30,000 silver dollars for a house?

The image to the right is intended to be placed on a t-shirt.
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.

-RAnthony


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.
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
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:

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. ;-)

-RAnthony


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.
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.
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...

Supreme Court to Review Texas Redistricting

Statesman news story

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
http://txliberty.dyndns.org/inetpub/wwwroot/webfiles/LL030517H.rm

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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 jon.roland@constitution.org
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"Vertiginous Air"

While struggling with a vertigo attack today, I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors Stephen R. Donaldson, a portion of which titles this compilation of previous postings on the topic. When I visited his site today looking for the release date for the next book, I discovered that I'm going to be waiting a long time. 2007, is the best guess; and the quartet of books isn't due to be finished until 2013. This could be a new test of patience on my part. And I thought waiting on Harry Potter books was hard...

----

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:

her·me·neu·tics
Pronunciation: -tiks
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 pay off is.

"Stone and Sea are deep in life,
two unalterable symbols of the world

permanence at rest and permanence in motion:
participants in the Power
that remains..." Giantish truism
--Stephen R.Donaldson

Out of the frying pan...

So, we had a freeze last night that involved ice on the roads. In Austin, this is nearly a freak occurrence; something that only happens once every few years. They had the cops and emergency services out in force...

[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.

A day... That won't be my son's birthday!

We had originally been told that this would be pumpkin boy's birthday. It may have been this information that inspired the early arrival, at least according to The Wife.

Damnable Meniere's

Finally getting a chance at some paying work again, and the Meniere's attacks are resurfacing. Yeah, it's the stress, I know. Trying to take that in stride. Still, sitting and spinning at lunch and then all through the evening doesn't lessen the stress levels, if you know what I mean.

"Righteous indignation"

I've been meaning to write this one for awhile. I dragged myself out to vote November Eighth. I do this every time an election rolls around, not because I think my vote will be counted properly (another rant in the making) and not because I think it will change anything (most of the issues go the other direction by hefty majorities. I blame it on education) I do it because it gives me a license to bitch when the will of the majority goes awry. As it has in the past. As it will this time around too.

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 71613,115@compuserve.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..."

Charges in fatal dog attack not likely, sheriff says

The story as it appeared in the Austin American Statesman (which has since removed it from the archive):

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.



Additional -

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.