DownsizeDC - 20 Minutes, 422 Pages

The latest post on the subject of the Read the Bills Act concerns the passage of this bill:
...the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 introduced on Wednesday, September 19: "Final bill text released twenty minutes before floor consideration." That's bad. What makes it worse is, this bill is 422 pages long. Is it just me, or does 20 minutes seem like not quite enough time to read 422 pages? - Downsize DC Blog, 20 Minutes, 422 Pages
The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R.3580) contains, amongst it's other unread passages, a provision to create a new reporting agency within the FDA, which allows them the ability to remove a product from public access based on a single reported instance of harm; even if the harmed person doesn't report the harm his or herself.

Considering that the FDA has been wanting to restrict access to supplements for a few years now (purportedly at the request of the AMA) this looks like granting the FDA the ability to do this one supplement at a time; essentially a back door approach to do the same thing that public feed back has stymied up to this point. Considering the hassles that we now have to go through to get former OTC medicines like Pseudoephedrine and Ephedrine, as well as the cluster fuck that was last year's spinach debacle. Never mind that simply irradiating the food would have removed any possible chance of infection. Don't even get me started on the pseudo-science behind the banning of that process in the US. This does not bode well for future access to all kinds of products that the FDA will find objectionable under the new reporting rules.

Mea Culpa review 2018, the review continues. I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.
“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.” -Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (Federalist No. 62, 1788)
That is probably the quote that got me to post this dispatch to the blog. I find it interesting that the full context of the quote bears an ominous warning for the every day inconsistency that we've seen since the Orange Hate-Monkey took office at the beginning of last year. here is the quote in context,
Fourthly. The mutability in the public councils arising from a rapid succession of new members, however qualified they may be, points out, in the strongest manner, the necessity of some stable institution in the government. Every new election in the States is found to change one half of the representatives. From this change of men must proceed a change of opinions; and from a change of opinions, a change of measures. But a continual change even of good measures is inconsistent with every rule of prudence and every prospect of success. The remark is verified in private life, and becomes more just, as well as more important, in national transactions.

To trace the mischievous effects of a mutable government would fill a volume. I will hint a few only, each of which will be perceived to be a source of innumerable others.

In the first place, it forfeits the respect and confidence of other nations, and all the advantages connected with national character. An individual who is observed to be inconstant to his plans, or perhaps to carry on his affairs without any plan at all, is marked at once, by all prudent people, as a speedy victim to his own unsteadiness and folly. His more friendly neighbors may pity him, but all will decline to connect their fortunes with his; and not a few will seize the opportunity of making their fortunes out of his. One nation is to another what one individual is to another; with this melancholy distinction perhaps, that the former, with fewer of the benevolent emotions than the latter, are under fewer restraints also from taking undue advantage from the indiscretions of each other. Every nation, consequently, whose affairs betray a want of wisdom and stability, may calculate on every loss which can be sustained from the more systematic policy of their wiser neighbors. But the best instruction on this subject is unhappily conveyed to America by the example of her own situation. She finds that she is held in no respect by her friends; that she is the derision of her enemies; and that she is a prey to every nation which has an interest in speculating on her fluctuating councils and embarrassed affairs.

The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?

Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the FEW, not for the MANY.

In another point of view, great injury results from an unstable government. The want of confidence in the public councils damps every useful undertaking, the success and profit of which may depend on a continuance of existing arrangements. What prudent merchant will hazard his fortunes in any new branch of commerce when he knows not but that his plans may be rendered unlawful before they can be executed? What farmer or manufacturer will lay himself out for the encouragement given to any particular cultivation or establishment, when he can have no assurance that his preparatory labors and advances will not render him a victim to an inconstant government? In a word, no great improvement or laudable enterprise can go forward which requires the auspices of a steady system of national policy.

But the most deplorable effect of all is that diminution of attachment and reverence which steals into the hearts of the people, towards a political system which betrays so many marks of infirmity, and disappoints so many of their flattering hopes. No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and stability.
Alexander Hamilton and James Madison are describing the US government as it exists under the OHM currently. What prudent person would hazard their wealth under the rule of this capricious man? When any act of independence is seen as an act of betrayal? This passage speaks volumes about Caudillo Trump and his administration, none of it good.

But that wasn't the subject of the article in question. The subject was The Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 (H.R.3580) and what is now obvious to me, a lack of understanding how meticulous the reconciliation process between the two houses of congress is, on the part of the editors of the Downsize DC blog and the average libertarian like yours truly. Either I believe they don't understand the process, or I believe that they knowingly lead their readers and supporters astray by relying on Republican sources of information without actually checking the validity of the information that was being passed on to them.

I'm sanguine with the FDA itself these days. If anything, they are too forgiving of the supplement industry and far, far too willing to let Americans harm themselves with quack cures and snake oil. A good portion of the population are now either actively participating in MLM schemes to sell each other fake cures, or are the victims of same. Sometimes both at the same time. In the end we have to rely on rigorous testing and science to be able to tell if a product is safe and works as promised. And that means we have to accept that science tells us truth things about the world around us, something that about 50% of the population doesn't agree is true.

That is the scariest thing of all.

Attention Chocoholics

M&M's Dark Chocolate. Now in Peanut. There really isn't anything else to say on the subject. The only question is, can I get 'em in a 5 pound bag? At the theater?

Can't seem to find these at the store anymore.  You can still buy them online.  Here's a link to them at Amazon.  Five pound bag?  You can get that here

Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them

I routinely get into arguments (in Texas, this is a serious issue) with people who seem to think that there is some way the government can control immigration; as in, the government can somehow stop native Americans who were born South of the Rio Grande from moving North of the Rio Grande in search of work. I was dreading having to write up a long winded rant on the hows and whys of the impossibility of stopping the immigration that white America seems to think is such a threat (Such as, you build a fence across the entire southern border, and then what? They swim around in the gulf? Sail around on the Pacific coast? What about the rest of the coastline, are we going to patrol that as well? Do you hear the sucking sound of billions of poorly spent dollars being flushed down the toilet? I do.) Luckily, I don't have to spend the time; and you don't have to read the flaming diatribe. Phillippe Legrain has stepped forward and penned the wok for me (and he's much more civil in his discourse than I would have been) Here's an excerpt from an interview with TCS daily:
Illegal immigrants are not the problem, they are the symptom of the real problem: immigration restrictions that are economically stupid, politically unsustainable and morally wrong. Far from protecting society, immigration controls undermine law and order, just as Prohibition did more damage to America than drinking ever has.
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For those of you who would rather watch or listen to an interview, CATO has Audio and Video on their site.

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(There's also a Daily Podcast at CATO on the subject)

Or you could just buy the book. I know I'm going to. I might buy several of them and hand them out to my friends the next time the subject comes up. My doctor would probably appreciate that. He's always more worried about my blood pressure than I am...

New 7 Wonders vs. Ancient 7 Wonders

From the Article at National Geographic:

The contest was organized by the New7Wonders Foundation—the brainchild of Swiss filmmaker and museum curator Bernard Weber—in order to "protect humankind's heritage across the globe." The foundation says the poll attracted almost a hundred million votes.

Yet the competition has proved controversial, drawing criticism from the United Nations' cultural organization UNESCO, which administers the World Heritage sites program (pictures of the newest World Heritage sites).

"This initiative cannot, in any significant and sustainable manner, contribute to the preservation of sites elected by [the] public," UNESCO said in a statement.

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New wonders should, in fact, be new.

Space Station Alpha, for example, would be a new wonder; or perhaps the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Of the seven, only one of them was constructed in the modern age, and it's just a very large ancient religious symbol in Brazil. Not exactly the kind of wonders that I would think of as 'new'.

Check out these other wonders:

7 Underground Wonders
7 Underwater Wonders
7 Abandoned Wonders part I
7 Abandoned Wonders part II

Every one of them more impressive than the 7 new wonders that were voted on. Your questions answered

I'm always a sucker for an Orwell quote:
"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
~ George Orwell
Shining a little light on the proof behind assertions made by DownsizeDC dispatches of late. Read more if you need proof concerning our meddling in the Middle East, or the true nature of relations with Iran, or who really runs the Iranian gov't.

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Sick(o) in America

John Stossel picks up the gauntlet that Micheal Moore threw down, and slaps him silly with it; in less time than it takes to watch the over-rated 'documentary' Sicko. Here's a quote from the online article:

There are many problems with health insurance, but that doesn't mean we should put the government in control. If it's decided that health care should be paid for with tax dollars, then it's up to the government to decide how that money should be spent. There's only so much money to go around, so the inevitable result is rationing.

It's just the law of supply and demand. Lowering prices increases demand. Lowering the price to nothing pushes demand through the roof. Author P.J. O'Rourke said it best: "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free."

When health care is free, governments deal with all that increased demand by limiting what's available.

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I have watched both Sicko and Stossel's 20/20 special. While the interviews with the individuals struggling with the problems of the healthcare system were emotionally compelling in Sicko; as usual, the emotional argument is used to blind the viewer to the real culprit in the problem.

Sick in America, John Stossel's response to Sicko, lacks none of the passion that Micheal Moore pours into his film, and yet deals in clear truths and verifiable facts. He discovers the real culprit behind the healthcare crisis. The real culprit is government.

The Canadians lamenting the lack of insurance coverage in the US is a classic example of using emotion to obscure the real problem. Why doesn't the Canadian socialized system pay for services rendered in the US? Or any other country? If it was truly free service for their citizens, it would be free wherever the need arose. This is true of all the socialized healthcare systems across the world. There is no charge to the end user, provided he goes to a funded provider; and that's the catch. The government pays for the service through taxes, and rations the healthcare that is available based on the funds that are provided.

[this is also why drugs are cheaper in other countries. Prices are artificially lowered through agreements with those countries single payer systems. This should explain why the pharmaceutical companies don't want to you to import Canadian drugs into the US. At some point they will simply stop providing the medication at reduced prices, since they can no longer profit from it's production. Profit is why anyone engages in business in the first place, and healthcare is a business.]

The one thing Moore got correct in Sicko was the scathing criticism of the current health insurance system. Once again, he missed the real culprit. Government regulation has created the current health insurance system. HMO, PPO, etc; just more three letter acronyms for government created systems. If you agree to be covered by an HMO, then they, like the government in other countries, tell you who can treat you and for what.

I love the fact that he spent so much time in Europe. What a beacon of economic health France and the other European economies are. I also love the way he never addresses how much they pay in taxes for the lavish services provided. Sadly, it's not that much more than we do here in the US for the lack of services that we have. That doesn't mean we should pay more for better service. Logic should dictate that we demand to pay less, and provide our own 'safety net'.

Let's make something clear here; we are not Kaiser Permanente (Moore's whipping boy of choice) In fact, the health care industry itself is not Kaiser Permanente. Based on the criminal behavior documented concerning Kaiser Permanente, I would think there would be charges filed somewhere against them. But then, their behavior is regulated and endorsed by the government. The same government that Moore thinks we should hand over the rest of healthcare to.

Only a dedicated socialist, like Micheal Moore, would consider it an indictment that we provide healthcare to prisoners, people held against their will (and as far as Gitmo detainees are concerned, held without charges) prisoners have no ability to provide for themselves, while citizens of the US do without healthcare; and, of course, the Cuban government bent over backward at Moore's request to treat his boatload of sick people. What a media coup that is. Cuba heals the sick overlooked by America's evil capitalist system; especially the neglected Ground Zero workers.

[My sister spent several years at Ground Zero, helping with the clean up effort. She, along with thousands of others still suffer from the after effects of being exposed to the air around Ground Zero; health problems that the government still denies has anything to do with working at Ground Zero. The government has lead the way towards disenfranchising those heroes of Ground Zero. The insurance companies are simply following the government's lead, just like they always have.]

Except, of course, that the system might be evil, but it most certainly isn't capitalist. All of the government managed systems are no different from the fascist corporatism of Il Duce's Italy; just another variant of socialism. Yes, the system currently in place is already a compromise. See how well it's working? Don't you want more of the same?

I'd like to speak for a significant portion of America's uninsured. We don't want universal health care. Some of us are uninsured by choice. The cost of insurance outweighs the benefit provided by insurance. (The only way the cost is justifiable is if a family member has some long term expensive-to-treat disease, and then the insurance company disallows coverage based on some obscure clause in the policy. I have seen this happen before) Forcing us to contribute to a universal system through a greater tax burden will simply drive us further into poverty. We want the freedom to choose what we want insured, and to get the same tax benefits as any other insurance provider. We want to negotiate prices directly with our doctors and hospitals, and we want the choice to remain uninsured if we deem it necessary.

Let charity provide the 'free' services. Only charity really can. All other arrangements involve the use of force on one or another of various groups. This is unacceptable to those of us who believe force should not be involved in normal social relationships.

It's worth mentioning that I followed the sentiment of Micheal Moore in his film, and refused to pay for the privilege of viewing his film, just as he does not wish to pay for the privilege of getting healthcare service. Instead I found an alternative source for the material. Anybody with access to a torrent program may do the same. I don't reward thieves for promoting government as their method of choice.

John Stossel's special has been broken into segments and is available on YouTube. Let him know you support his views by contacting him at ABC.

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There's also a blog entry over at Downsize DC on the subject of the healthcare system, as well as an entire section of the website over at CATO.

CATO Weekly Video on the subject of "Sicko"

There really is no excuse to be uninformed on the subject.

Dollar continues to decline

So much for the two Canadian dollars to one US dollar that we've been accustomed to for the last 30 years; and the Euro hits an all time high against the dollar. Not a good day in the financial world if you are holding dollars.

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Maybe more of us should be buying and exchanging silver, eh?

The Beancounter Mentality

A quote from the Article "iPhone & iPod: contain or disengage?":
"Apple has to always remember that simply making money CANNOT be its point of existence. The point of any company should be to make customers want to give it money, NOT to get money from customers. It's a subtle distinction that is the difference between good and evil."
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This is a subtle but important error that most of corporate America commits, on a regular basis. Nothing longer than the end of the next quarter matters to the average accountant in a large corporation (which gets back to my previous observation about large corporations and innovation) I have watched this particular progression occur over and over in the corporate world, as the accountants convince the managers that their distorted view of the bottom line is the only view that counts.

...and then the finger pointing concerning who's to blame for the company loosing market share begins. Blog | Cal Ripken Way

Short, sweet and to the point:
We like one-page bills. They are the next best thing to no bills at all. They are short and to the point. But there's something odd about this process.
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Which is the way the spending bills ought to be. Short, sweet and to the point. But they aren't. They are generally multi-hundred page documents that no one is going to read, and no one will refuse to vote for. This has to stop.

We need action on the Read the Bills Act.

Today's Beef: 'Schedule' Should Mean 'Reliable'

This is a purposely amorphous beef, got it?

Work schedules. I hate 'em. I've always hated 'em. Ditto for television schedules. Hell, just include event planning of any kind. When you say you're going to do something on a particular date and time, then that something should occur on that date, at that time. And, if you're going to change the date and time, you really ought to warn the people who might be anticipating the occurrence of same. Getting my drift?

Let's say, you really want to watch that new show on Scifi channel, and they've told you it's going to premiere on thus and such a date. Now, you know this is Sciffy, and you don't want to record the hundred or so other airings of the same program, so you set the DVR (don't have one? Get one. There's two kinds of TV watching; before you have a DVR, and after. There is no going back from the experience) to restrict itself to the announced time and date of the program.

...and then they change it! No warning, no nothing. If the program is part of SciFi Friday, if you promote it as being part of SciFi Friday, doesn't it make sense to leave it as a part of SciFi Friday, to aviod confusion. SciFi is just an example. ABC, NBC and CBS are worse; especially with the not-so-popular shows that tend to get shuffled around. Don't even get me started on the subject of Fox and Firefly; or TVLand and their inability to actually start shows within 10 minutes of scheduled showtimes. What's the point of an announced schedule if you aren't going to adhere to it?

Or the family event that you're expected to attend. Someone else does the planning, you're just along for the ride. Tell me when to show up, and I'll be there. Then they change it, never tell you they changed it, and are actually puzzled when this annoys you. "No, really, I like driving an hour for no reason, and then waiting for the rest of you clowns to show up. I want to do that more often" Common courtesy, ever heard of it?

Then there's work schedules. Cast in stone, never to be altered, work schedules. You never have the days off that you want. Somebody else has always got better days off than you. And if you are setting the schedule, no one ever wants to work shifts outside of 8am to 6pm; and even in a 24 hour 365 day business, no one wants to work holidays at any time. They all whine incessantly. But you can't change the schedule, because it's the schedule that everyone has agreed to abide by.

Or at least, that's the way it ought to be. Reliable scheduling, at least at work.

(here's a thought, try offering cash incentives for holiday work and after hours work; and make sure the employee's understand it's an incentive. Or perhaps you should axe a few of the whiners just as an example to the rest of the crew. I just wish I could do that when it comes to family outings...)

The immediate mortal danger of attacking Iran

While our buffoons in Washington are distracted by the scarecrow of Akmadinejad and his antics, They have failed to notice the very real offers coming from those who control the Iranian gov't:
  • The Iranian government has repeatedly said that the main thing it wants from the U.S. is respect
  • The Iranians have offered to defund Hezbollah as part of a broader settlement with the U.S.
  • The Iranians have offered to help us against the Taliban in Afghanistan, which they also dislike
  • The Afghanistan government favors Iranian aid against the Taliban, but we have blocked it

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I predicted, 4 years ago when the President commanded the invasion of Iraq, that this was simply the first step in the eventual pacification of the entire Middle East. Never have I wished I was more wrong than I am today, hearing the rumors that this loose cannon that we call President is planning on starting a war over Iran's purported development of nuclear weapons.

Starting a war with Iran is the last thing we need to be doing right now. We need to be engaging Iran in direct talks, not alienating the entire population by attempting a revisit of the 1953 coup that we instigated.

The warmongering and empire building needs to be stopped now. You must act to stop it, or our children and grandchildren will grow up knowing of the failure of representatives to act when the need was greatest; failed to stop a President who clearly has no understanding of the constitutional limits placed on his office.

Micro$oft gets spanked twice in one week

The behemoth from Redmond has apparently finally discovered an arena in which its strong-arm tactics do not work: international governing bodies.

read more | digg story Blog | The Future

The Future of the US in Iraq, that is. I predicted the permanence of our involvement in Iraq on the day that GWB invaded the country (and it didn't take a crystal ball to see that development in advance) Downsize DC doesn't think permanent occupation of Iraq is a good idea. Neither do I. Here's a quote:
President Bush wants us to stay in Iraq forever, like we have in Korea. He may get his way, no matter who wins the election in 2008. The same dynamics will still be at work on January 20, 2009. The new President will be afraid to be the one who lost Iraq. We have been here before.

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My I'm not afraid letter:

I refuse to sacrifice my rights (any of them) on the pretext that the next attack can be stopped. The next 'real' attack (I do not count faux attacks, such as the one purported to smuggle explosive liquids onto airliners, to be real attacks. That was a media event, not a potential attack) does not face any better chance of being stopped by any of the current procedures than the 9-11 attacks could have been stopped.

The war on terror is not a winnable war, because there is no definable point at which we can be said to be victorious; it is a war on a tactic, which can be employed by anyone willing to use those means to achieve an end. The result is a never ending war that drains the treasury and debilitates the military and the spirit of America.

Bring the troops home. All of them. End the war on terror. Re-formulate our foreign policy so as to eliminate the chance of blowback. Only then will we be truly safe from terrorism, because there will be no need for terrorists to target us. | Make Congress Read the Bills Campaign

Yeah, I know, You've seen this all before. I just love this line though:
We hold this truth to be self-evident, that those in Congress who vote on legislation they have not read, have not represented their constituents. They have misrepresented them.
Time to agitate the congresscritters again.

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Alamo Drafthouse, 9/20: Monty Python & the Holy Grail Ale

...And now for something completely different.

Live improvisation, good beer and a Monty Python film. I can't think of anything else I'd rather be doing.

Click for showtimes.

...and today I get the response:
Howzcom you have a different date for this?

I was planning on going Wed Sep 26th (Village).
(It was sold-out for Wed Sep 12)
I know! You are trying to keep the *real* date from
getting sold-out, right? Sneaky!

Wanna get a mob together and go?
Well Actually, I have a different date because, rather than go to the trouble of going to the Alamo Drafthouse website and clicking on the very prominent advertisement on the front page, I decided to search the web and went to the drafthouse link I found there. The fact that I might stumble across a showing that wasn't in Austin never even crossed my mind until Barbara pointed out the date discrepancy. When I checked with the ticket seller, I realized that I probably should have dug a little deeper before posting the info. My bad.

(In hindsight I probably should have gone with the "'it's all a clever plan" defense. It would have made me look clever, at least)

So, the show date is actually 9/26 at the Alamo Village, if you would rather go to a local showing, rather than driving all the way to San Antonio. I'll leave that up to you.

Pledging Allegiance is contrary to Freedom

Below is the text of a letter I sent to the local school district (and my state reps) in response to a notice informing me that my children would be required to recite the pledge of allegiance, and observe a minute of silent prayer.

To Whom It May Concern:

I received a flyer amongst several other pieces of documentation sent home from school with my child yesterday; a flyer informing me that Texas has taken another step down the path towards worshiping the omnipotent state (and the christian god that walks hand in hand with it here in the US) and will be requiring all students to mouth the words of the United States pledge of allegiance, as well as the newly revised Texas pledge of allegiance (HB 1034) in addition to observing a moment of silence once each day (SB 83) a practice that is obviously intended to re-introduce morning prayer into the public schools.

I don't recall ever seeing this particular notice (even though the requirement to recite the pledges has been on the books since 2003) but having noticed it, I now feel compelled to respond to it. Dictators and cult leaders require the slaves under their rule to swear allegiance to them, because power is jealous of rivals. It is far more than mere coincidence that the author of the United States Pledge was a self-proclaimed socialist, and that most pledges currently in existence came into being at about the same time; a time before the discrediting of socialism. They are an outgrowth of socialist sentiment, the elevation of The State above the individual. In a free society, pledges of allegiance should not be required, because individuals are free of any allegiance other than to rational self interest. Additionally, pledges required of the public are contrary to the sentiments of the founders of the United States, as it reverses the role of the subservient state and places it above We The People.

Obviously, from the tone of this letter, you will be able to discern that I am hereby notifying you in writing that my children will be exempted from this practice. They will not be required to recite any pledges, nor will they be required to observe a minute of silence. This notice is given pro forma, because my children have abstained from reciting the pledges for the entire time that they have attended school; and they have done this without asking me or the omnipotent state for permission to do so. They have remained silent during pledges even in my presence, when I have recited the pledge autonomically; and I applaud them for their strength of will.

If it was possible, I would extend this exemption to any student of AISD, of any school district in Texas, or of any state in the United States, who wished to abstain from reciting the pledge, but lacks the permission that the state requires.

Finally, I'd like to add this tidbit of information. The sponsor of HB 1034, when queried on the subject of religion, had this to say (source, Capitol Annex: More HB 1034 Exchanges):
BURNAM: Are you aware that Governor Perry has recently said, “Freedom of religion should not be taken as freedom from religion.” And my question is, do you agree with that statement, Ms. Riddle?
RIDDLE: I would say, Amen.
Which pretty much sums up the intent of the modification of the pledge, and the accompanying minute of silence; a blatant attempt to force religion back into the government schools. It also shows the utter contempt the governor and the majority of the legislature has for anyone who doesn't share their particular christian beliefs. Freedom of religion is a meaningless concept unless it includes freedom from religion; requiring someone to have a religion places constraints upon the person, negating any freedom that might be present.

R. Anthony Steele

As I sit here in 2015 looking back on this letter, I wonder how the leadership of the school read this letter when they received it.  I hope they had protective face shields for the spittle-flecked rant they were about to embark on.

The sad thing is that the bogeyman of the omnipotent state has faded away, yet the insistence by the blindly religious that we should all be christian remains.  If anything the Religious Right have simply become more strident over the years, not less.  They do not appear to have learned anything from the many battles they have engaged in and lost when it comes to the subject of making the US a christian nation against the will of the majority who like it just the way it is.

Socialism is not a bad word, and socialists are not bad people as long as they aren't state socialists.  State socialists like the ones who wanted to get children to say pledges before they understood what pledging really means.  Another bogeyman that really should be retired, since the mindset that inspired the pledges now looks as alien to us as most of the other concepts of the time do. 

Relatively Humorous

Wandered out to Cap City Comedy Club last night. This is the first time I've ever gone to Cap City and been disappointed with the headliner comic. Maybe it was the scant audience, but I doubt it. I don't think Brent Weinbach would know what funny was if it hit him over the head. I have a hard time understanding how anyone could think he was funny. Clever in his ability to shift from one characterization to another, but definitely not funny.

The two warm up comics for the Headliner were both better than he was. Tom Segura (whose name was misspelled on the Cap City website) should have been the headliner himself. He managed to riff on both Larry Craig and Lauren Caitlin Upton during his set. Being able to work current events into a set, the mark of a good comic. Brent could have swept floors after the show was over, about all the comedy he's good for. "Some people criticize me for being a self-centered asshole." That should have been one of Brent's lines. It might even have been funny.

[The wife suggests that "egotistical prick" is a more apt description. Egotistical is a requirement for someone to think himself as funny as Brent must have thought he was. Him and the drunk female in the back. That made two people. I would say that the rest of us weren't drunk enough, I know I wasn't; but I think it would have taken more than a few drinks to make up the humor gap. I'm thinking of something more along the lines of 2 or 3 sharp blows to the forehead with a ballpeen hammer. Whose forehead to apply the treatment to; that is the real question.]

Speaking of something that might have been funny, Last Comic Standing has ceased to be amusing with the elimination of Amy Schumer and Gerry Dee. It might turn out alright if Lavell wins, but if the Jeff Foxworthy clone wins, I'm giving up on the show. Not that I've followed it for the full 5 year length of it's run; in fact, this is only the second year I've caught it. If I had known it was on I might have watched it more regularly; as usual, life gets in the way of my television viewing.

It figures that the LA resident who grew up in Hickory (with the accompanying neck spasm) ended up winning LCS. Foxworthy has completely mined out the subject of southern humor as far as I'm concerned, making fun of his former fellow southerners while safely living in tinsel town. I really don't have the stomach for another comic that mines in the same vein.

I think there's a fatal flaw present in the way the final five are judged on LCS. All the other stages of the competition are judged by groups of people who have heard more than a few minutes of each comics performance; they get to hear the whole act. The final five you only get to hear five or 10 minute sets at best, and that's what you are expected to vote on. I don't believe it's possible to judge a comic's relative talent (once you get beyond, "can you tell a joke and be funny?") based on a 10 minute set. Some of the early drop outs were funnier, in the 10 minutes that we got to see (clipped from the acts performed in front of live audiences) than the final five were doing 10 minutes straight.

[and what was the deal with that final episode? Carrottop? Who are these people? Might as well have brought on Gallagher]

As for giving up on LCS, it depends on what it's up against next year. If there are some good shows coming out on DVD, I just might not have time for it.

Are we not clever enough to withstand Apple's spin?

Steve Jobs has a mind control ray? It would explain a great many things.
Today's papers are full of the announcements, all buying into Jobs' "seven wonders of the world" line about the new touchscreen iPod. There's no doubt it looks great but DO YOU REALLY NEED IT! And yes, I know you can say that about all technology but it's a serious point where iPods are concerned.
Apple feeds off the hype that follows its announcements and I am surprised they still get away with it. I mean how often do you change your washing machine? Or you oven? Or your TV? Or your digital camera?
We buy those expecting them to last years but far too many people seem happy to splash out a couple of hundred quid or more on an iPod only to "trade up" six months later when Steve appears on a big screen presumably sending out some sort of psychic wave. I can't think of any other explanation for the cultish behaviour that sees millions seemingly brainwashed into replacing a product that's perfectly good for one that doesn't really do anything different to what they hold in their hands.  
Jonathan Weinberg, TECHDIGEST; Opinion: Are we not clever enough to withstand Apple's spin
I've never owned an iPod. Even though my first exposure to computers was on a Mac (the original) I've never had the need to own any of Steve Job's new gizmo's.

I've carried a Palm device since Handspring was formed; years before Jobs had his vision of the iPod. The first add-on I bought was a 64 meg MP3 player, which I used for several years as my only MP3 player. I've currently got a Treo 650 (which is two iterations behind the latest and greatest Palm device) and I have no need to upgrade to a newer Palm, much less a use restricted MP3 player that doesn't include a phone.

When I first decided to invest in Palm devices, I did so based on the concept of one device that performs the functions of several devices I might need to carry; phone, camera, data, music and video. The first Handspring with add-ons could live up to this expectation. The current Treo does it with nothing more than an SD card for additional memory.

The iPod is just a walkman that plays MP3s, and now it plays video. Nothing new there. The iPhone is just another cell phone with a really cool interface. Also nothing new. Palm was the innovator of handheld devices, Apple is just the copycat. They lost their cutting edge when they lost the Woz.

I don't know who the next innovator will be, but it won't be Apple. Perhaps Google has something up thier sleeve? Ever heard of Archos? Who knows what the future holds; history, however, has shown that giant corporations do not produce innovations.