The End of a Long Day

...and after they finished a three hour argument about who was playing what computer game when, I read them to sleep with Princess Bride, then I enjoyed some Daily Show before finally allowing myself some sleep.

Facebook status (2) backdated to the blog.

Those Were the Days

FFrF Radio: Mike Christensen; Archive: Emily Lyons & Scopes II: Alvin Harris

Podcast Link.
July 26, 2008 - Mike Christensen, Seattle "Imagine No Religion" Billboard Booster

Gershwin's Summertime introduces the show, followed by a clip from Letting Go of God.

Theocracy Alert. Lieberman courting the religious right, Grassly bounced by them.

Mike Christensen sponsored an "Imagine No Religion" billboard in Seattle. He changed his definition of agnostic, and that's why he's now an atheist. Sounds familiar. It's interesting to hear from a member of a younger generation on a thoughtful subject; like the impact of religion on the world.

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” -Steven Weinberg

2007 Archive episode.
July 28, 2007 - Emily Lyons, survivor of religious antiabortion terrorism

Theocracy Alert. CNN YouTube debate snippets and related editorializing. This is how the hosts always get in trouble, and they do it again. One of the question dealt with candidate support for "public" schools, which Annie Laurie lamented were being robbed of funds by "parochial schools" in rigged voucher systems.

I've said this several times before, but it bears repeating. They aren't public schools, they are government or state schools; not much better than prisons in their current form. The alternative to government schools isn't religious schools (as Annie Laurie has implied more than once) it's competition for the best education to be had for the least amount of tax burden. The alternative to a top down Soviet-styled federal education bureaucracy (what we have now, or are moving towards) is a real education marketplace.

Far more important than establishing godless money (the question that followed the school question) is establishing a separation of school and state.

Echoing Steven Marsh's question;

Am I wrong to fear the dogma of the left/socialist as much as I fear the dogma of the right/fascist? Why can't we throw out all the dirty bathwater, and just embrace American liberty? Take all the funds from the overfunded government schools, and force them to compete in an education marketplace, let the best educators win.

While I am concerned (as the hosts are) about the religious test imposed by the public on their candidates; I'm more concerned with the imposition of outdated state structures on today's youth. (more school related rants)

Emily Lyons was injured in a clinic bombing by a Right-to-Lifer (how can one kill and support a "right to life"? It's an unsupportable conflict, and no counter-arguments will be accepted) terrorist, Eric Robert Rudolph. Truthfully, the interview is hard to listen to, for me. I have an almost uncontrollable rage response when it comes to people who are willing to kill for their peaceful religions.

Raging Grannies sing, and then loving messages from christian fans closes out the show.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction." -Blaise Pascal

2006 Archive episode.
July 26, 2006 - Scopes II: Alvin Harris

Theocracy Alert this week features a listing of theocracies advances, counter pointed with theocracies defeats (they ought to try this more often) The verdict in the Andrea Yeats trial is discussed, along with the impact on someone else who hears voices in his head, George Bush.

Alvin Harris' interview revolved around his representation of FFrF in a case concerning Bryan college and the legacy of the scopes trial (FFrF vs. Rhea County School System) Evangelicals who wish to promote their religion in the government schools should remember the lessons of the founders, and their experience with state mandated religious education. What happens when the government adopts a flavor of christianity that you don't agree with?

Dan Barker performs I Ain't Afraid

Ron Paul on the Fed. Who was the better candidate?

Want to know why you keep loosing money on the stock market?

Did the best man win?

Yeah, I know, I just felt like posting on the subject of Ron Paul.

Suddenly Everyone Agrees With Ron Paul!

So, Joe, what was B5 going to be, originally?

...and the word is finally out.

From TrekBBS and thanks to chrisspringob for condensing the arc. I've read the outline in the Scripts book 15. couldn't afford a copy myself. This is pretty close to what is there.
***This thread includes huge spoilers for the entire 5 year arc of Babylon 5, including the details of JMS's earlier draft of the story, as of the start of production on the series.***

OK, doing this in reverse order: I've already written the rest of this post (so my fingers are getting rather tired), and am now writing this, the lead paragraph. I have in my possession Babylon 5 Script Book #15, but I'm too exhausted to explain what that is for those who don't already know, so read this thread if you want to know:

And here is a shameless plug for all of the B5 script books:

The most talked about feature of Script Book #15 is JMS's 7 page, single spaced synopsis of “the original story arc”, with Sinclair in place during the whole story. It's a bit of a misnomer to call this the “original arc”, as there were in fact earlier iterations of the story, before it got to this point, but this is where things stood in JMS's head at the time Season 1 was going into production (but after “The Gathering” was filmed). He wrote the document as sort of a memo to himself, so he could keep the big picture straight. The arc was written out in much greater detail on over 100 3x5 notecards, and on an encrypted file he had on his computer. But this was his summary.

Somehow or other, I volunteered to write out a detailed synopsis of JMS's 7 page story outline, and post it here for your benefit. That's what this thread is. I haven't quoted any of the outline directly. Just explained it in my own words. AFAIK, my synopsizing of JMS's synopsis is not in violation of his wishes. But if anyone wants to argue for why I should edit / delete this post, I'll hear you out.

A few things about the synopsis:

I do not actually believe that this is what the show would have looked like if O'Hare had stayed on. There are too many divergences from the story we got that have nothing much to do with Sinclair/Sheridan, that I think JMS decided to change certain things around for reasons having nothing to do with the identity of the lead character, and that would have happened just as easily if O'Hare had stayed.

The story is so big, that there's a lot left out here, and I'm sure some of the “missing” story elements were in fact included in JMS's huge pile of index cards. Most of the 7 page synopsis focuses as much on the big picture as it does on the individual characters. The only characters mentioned by name are: Sinclair, Garibaldi, Delenn, Londo, G'Kar, Kosh, and Catherine Sakai. (Notice a trend? Excepting Sakai, all of these are characters who appeared in “The Gathering”, and continued as main characters in the series. It's possible that this was written when JMS knew that the actors who played Takashima, Dr. Kyle, and Lyta were going to be unavailable, and he hadn't yet figured out how the replacement characters would fit into the story.) The characters of Santiago, Clark, and Sinclair/Delenn's son are mentioned, but no names are given for them.

One of the weirdest things is that the series seems to end on a cliffhanger, and the last page and a half of the synopsis details the storyline of a potential spinoff series, Babylon Prime, which resolves most of the major plot threads. The events in the outline seem to be in quasi-chronological order, though it's sometimes hard to tell, as there's a lot of jumping back and forth between the various threads. I've split up my synopsis of JMS's synopsis into four parts: Seasons 1 & 2, Seasons 3 & 4, Season 5, and Babylon Prime.

Here we go:


Much of the stuff on the first two seasons matches what we actually saw on screen, including:

-Sinclair trying to figure out the hole in his mind from the Battle of the Line
-The “Babylon Squared” story
-Santiago assassination and Clark taking over
-Delenn undergoing transformation
-The Shadows slowly making their presence felt, and Londo allying with them, and Londo using them to gain influence with the Centauri
-Kosh revealing himself to all when he saves Sinclair's life at the end of Season 2

Main divergences from what we saw on screen:

-Sinclair stays on, and remains commander of the station throughout the series
-Unclear exactly when this is revealed, but the secret behind Sinclair & the Battle of the Line is not that he becomes Valen (Valen is never mentioned in this outline), but that he is the person who has been prophesied to save the Minbari from dying off. In order to fulfill the prophesy, Delenn must transform to become human and mate with Sinclair. Their son will be some kind of chosen one who will save the Minbari race from extinction(???). Some of the Minbari (warrior caste?) interpret prophesy differently, and think that Sinclair will actually lead the Minbari to doom.
-Not 100% certain on this, but it looks like the Centauri conquest of the Narn doesn't happen until early/mid-Season 3. It's also not completely clear whether there is even a Narn/Centauri war as such. The Shadows aid Londo's ascension by secretly staging a number of incidents, but does this involve a full blown Narn/Centauri war that lasts a season? Not clear. Rather, some time by mid-Season 3, the Shadows help the Centauri conquer the Narn homeworld and decapitate their empire, but I'm not sure if that's actually the culmination of a lengthy war.


-The Centauri conquer the Narn Empire with the help of the Shadows.
-After the Narn surrender, G'Kar briefly stays on B5 and tries to rally allies against the Centauri, but it doesn't work. So he returns to the Narn homeworld to join the resistance.
-Catherine Sakai is “mind-raped”, and all memory of her relationship with Sinclair is erased, and this crushes Sinclair. [This seems like some early iteration of the Anna Sheridan / Z'ha'dum story, but there's no explicit indication of how this happens to Sakai, or who's responsible.]
-Sinclair & Delenn become romantically involved, and Delenn is pregnant by the end of Season 4.
-Garibaldi returns to drinking, and resigns as chief of security. During Season 4, he's a mercenary operating out of B5, but there's no mention of the Psi Corps sleeper / William Edgars / Lise Hampton story.
-There is no mention of an overt war between the Shadows & Vorlons. But they are fighting each other by manipulating the younger races. There is no mention of an order vs. chaos ideological conflict between the two. Just that the Vorlons manipulated the younger races throughout history, and the Shadows rebel against that, and try to set themselves up as rulers of the galaxy.


-The Minbari warrior caste overthrows the Grey Council, and orders the resumption of hostilities with Earth. They also want Sinclair and Delenn dead.
-The Centauri try to move in on B5's sector of space.
-Londo & the Centauri's longtime involvement with the Shadows is publicly revealed.
-The Shadows destroy a huge Vorlon ship (hundreds of miles long) which contains a large segment of their population.
-The series ends with the Minbari attacking B5 and destroying it. Sinclair & Delenn escape with their newborn baby. Everyone in the galaxy is after them for one reason or another....including Earth, which has been given info which makes them believe Sinclair is a traitor.


-Sinclair, Delenn, and their allies go back in time to steal Babylon 4, pulling it into the future in order to use it as a base to build a new alliance (army of light?). B4 is renamed Babylon Prime. B Prime can move through space like a starship, and they go off on a mission to clear their names and build the alliance to bring peace to the galaxy.
-The time traveling causes Sinclair, Delenn, and their baby to age rapidly. (I'll call the baby David, even though his name is never mentioned here.) David grows all the way to adulthood within a few years.
-Londo is Emperor, but controlled by a Keeper, as in the actual show.
-Londo & the Centauri capture Sinclair & Delenn, and are supposed to turn them over to the Shadows, but Londo rebels against the Keeper & the Shadows “at terrible personal cost” (doesn't say exactly what that cost is).
-David becomes a revered religious symbol.
-Conclusion of the story: B Prime and the Army of Light defeat the Shadows (but there's nothing about the Shadows leaving the galaxy). No mention of what happens to the Vorlons. Earth defeats the Minbari, and Sinclair's name is cleared. Delenn leaves Sinclair, in order to return to the Grey Council. David becomes the leader of a new interstellar alliance. Final scene is Sinclair, retired, alone on an otherwise uninhabited

Plot points that are noticeably absent:

There is no mention of an Earth Civil War, or B5 seceding from Earth in Season 3 (though obviously, a lot of that storyline is transplanted into Babylon Prime). While Clark is said to be controlled by the Psi Corps, and Psi Corps is said to be a nefarious group at odds with Sinclair and B5, there's no mention of the Earth Alliance being transformed into some kind of Orwellian police state. There's no mention of the Shadows working with Psi Corps or anyone in EarthGov. There's no mention of any larger teep/normal conflict, beyond Psi Corps just wanting power for itself.

There's no mention of Sinclair going to Z'ha'dum (and in fact, no mention of Z'ha'dum), and dying there. (Though, as I speculated earlier, some of this storyline may have been there as part of the Sakai mindwipe story, but there are no details given.) There's no mention of Lorien or any other First Ones beyond the Shadows and Vorlons. There's no mention of Kosh mentoring Sinclair, or Kosh sacrificing his life. There's no mention of Marcus, or Morden, or Bester, or any other characters who I haven't already mentioned.

Still, just because something wasn't mentioned in this synopsis, doesn't mean it didn't exist in some form in JMS's lengthier treatment of the series that he kept to himself.

The Revolution Evolves: Happy (Belated) Cost of Government Day

Knew I was wrong.

Ron Paul's revolution has morphed into the Campaign for Liberty. The 16th was the Cost of Government Day.
Congratulations, dear reader. Cost of Government Day was last Wednesday, July 16th. This means that after slaving away for over half the year to pay state, local and federal taxes, you’re finally working for yourself.

This year’s Cost of Government Day fell four days later than last year’s, and sixteen days later than in 2000. Ironically, the biggest increases in government spending took place during the “conservative” administrations of George Bush 41 & 43.

It’s up to us to take back what it means to be “conservative” once again. A good place to start will be our upcoming rally in Minneapolis!

Cost of Government Day is sponsored by Americans for Taxpayer Reform, which is led by Grover Norquist.
I hate to break this to the revolutionaries, but this is what comes of defining yourselves with a term as mutable as Conservative (I'm sure that Senator Goldwater is rolling in his grave seeing what his idea of Conservatism has come to) which has no real meaning politically other than "resistant to change".

Time to break the mold, reinvent the system.

SBOE Approves Bible Course Guidelines

Gotta love this. The Leg, not satisfied with simply raping the Texas State pledge and making her say god during newly mandatory daily pledge recitations (god twice, if you count the mandatory federal pledge recitations. Could be even three times if you choose to pray during your mandatory moment of silence. I don't like pledging, in case you hadn't heard) has also decided that Texas students need more indoctrination into the already pervasive christian religion; so they have passed a law that all but mandates bible school classes be offered in Texas public high schools.

...And the SBOE, run by ID supporter Don McLeroy has dutifully passed guidelines, clearing the way for these courses to be taught.

Board members approved the new class, which will be in some high schools this fall, even though officials are awaiting an opinion from the attorney general on whether the state law authorizing the course requires all school districts to offer it.

The board adopted general guidelines for the course on a 10-5 vote, disregarding the advice of several members of the House Public Education Committee who urged approval of more specific requirements to head off the possibility of constitutional violations and lawsuits.

"It's better for us to go ahead and do something now," said board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond. "We have met the requirements of the legislation. We don't want to stifle what they [school districts] are doing in classrooms."

Attorney General Greg Abbott has told the board that although the state standards for the Bible class appear to be in compliance with the First Amendment, his office can't guarantee that the courses taught in high schools will be constitutional because they haven't been reviewed.

Critics contend that the standards – based on old guidelines for independent studies in English and social studies – are so vague and general that many schools might unknowingly create unconstitutional Bible classes that either promote the religious views of teachers or disparage the religious beliefs of some students.

Earlier this year, the Ector County school board agreed to quit using a Bible course curriculum at two high schools in Odessa that the American Civil Liberties Union said promoted Protestant religious beliefs not shared by Jews, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and many Protestants.

However, state board members supporting the Bible course rule adopted Friday said such lawsuits are rare and should not be a problem for most school districts.

Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who voted against the proposal, said teachers of the course would be given far less direction from the state than they receive in most other subjects.

"We need to do more work on this instead of jumping off into the abyss," she said.

The course is supposed to be geared to academic, nondevotional study of the Bible, and cover such things as the influence of the New Testament on law, literature, history and culture.

read more | digg story

So, we in Texas can look forward to turning out students who erroneously think that murder is illegal because the Ten Commandments say you shouldn't do it. How long before they start teaching a nondevotional course on the Qur'an or the Talmud? Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? I wouldn't hold my breath.

For me, the solution is simple. Take the Bible Class Challenge.

read more | digg story

If the schools know that they are going to face hostile students in these classes, very few of them will want to offer them in the first place. If the schools offer the classes, and don't respect the contrary opinions, they can be shut down through lawsuits. It's an expense we the taxpayers should not have to face, but then we elected these idiots to do this to us, apparently.

FFrF Radio: Webster Cook; Archive: Brian Flemming & George Daly

Podcast Link.
July 19, 2008 - Webster Cook, student senator and non-eater of communion wafers

Sarah Braasch returns to talk about prayer imposed on senior citizens. If I was restricted to use of federally funded services, I think I'd take exception to being forced to pray in order to eat. Which is what Sarah's report was about. FAQ at

Dan waxes poetic on the subject of reincarnation.

Webster Cook attended a mass recently because a friend was curious about what actually occurs during a Catholic mass. During the mass, he received communion but failed to eat the wafer (he was, in fact, raised Catholic) He's now being charged with a hate crime, and possible expulsion from school. Go figure. It's hard to imagine how anything more ridiculous could have evolved out of this situation.

Excuse me if I find this entire subject laughable. I've talked to several Catholics over the years who have told me that they never eat the communion wafers. "You never know where those things have been".

2007 Archive episode.
July 21, 2007 - The God Who Wasn't There

The episode opens with a tribute to the Harry Potter stories. The seventh Harry Potter book was released at midnight the day of the broadcast. I was out there with the rest of the fans, myself.

Theocracy alert deals with a disruption during the Senate invocation prayer. (Why we as taxpayers pay for Senate chaplains is beyond me. I thought they were all sworn to poverty?)
and a discussion of the sad state of affairs when it comes to Catholic priests and child abuse.

(Why not advertise Trojans on TV? Can't be any worse than ED treatments or female hygiene products)

Brian Flemming produced "The God Who Wasn't There".

I've seen it (and I won't go see the Passion of the Christ. Talk about Torture Porn) I hate to say this, but I think the interview was better than the film. I haven't had the chance to watch the entire DVD, but I understand that there is more information on the DVD than is included in the film itself.

The film inspired the Blasphemy Challenge (I first heard about this on FTL) which has 1509 video responses as of this writing; 508 of whom signed a ticket to hell (unless they have one of these; I have a whole box of them) and didn't even get a DVD.

2006 Archive episode.
July 22, 2006 - "Gideons and Guantanamo"

For legal buffs, George Daly represented FFrF in their objection to a bible distribution day. He has also represented clients held at Gitmo.

[It's frightening to think this was two years ago, and they have just now granted that these prisoners have a right to a hearing under US law. These prisoners will be waiting at least another year before they even get their hearing, and it could be another couple of years before any of them could be released. That's over a decade of imprisonment for some of these guys, some of them simply swept up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 3650 days versus one day for a US citizen accused of a real crime. What a joke our laws are]

Pagan pulpit and Dan's Battle of Church and State close out the episode.

Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders

I don't think I could have said it better myself. We are all immigrants here, as I've pointed out elsewhere.

The wife and I get into the occasional heated discussion concerning immigration. She rightly points out the depressed nature of commerce in border areas, as well as the impact of an oversupply of labor throughout border regions, like most of South Texas as a problem with immigration. But that doesn't go far enough. It is an effect of state interference in immigration; it is an effect of illegal immigration, and the restrictions placed on legal immigration; not a problem with immigration itself.

Jason L. Riley defends the rightness of allowing all immigrants who want to come to the US to work, to do just that, in his book Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders and in this CATO event. (right click here and "save as" for the audio) One by one, he takes on and shoots down all the objections that the Dobbites in the US raise when it comes to immigrants and their effects on the US economy. Here's a shorter video version:

ReasonTV, Jason L. Riley - Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, Aug 4, 2008

Immigrants are statistically the smallest group when it comes to measuring their presence in welfare roles and prisons. Immigrants have always been treated as pariah's in the US, and blamed for all manner of social problems. The Irish, the Germans, the Chinese and the Italians were all discriminated against, unnecessarily, when their immigration numbers were the highest (the story of the plight of the Irish escaping the potato famine is quite moving) and they have all gone on to either integrate themselves into the American society, or they returned (like a good portion of the Italians) to their country after they had made their fortunes.

I posted this today because I caught the Dobbs-O-Meter on The Daily Show yesterday.


People should learn to laugh at their irrational fears; or the rest of us will be laughing at you when you display them.

On the other hand, the comments from Michael Barone that follow up Jason Riley's presentation show the naivete of the average person when it comes to centrally established state controls, and the reasons they pass laws. Whether or not they intended their actions to have the effects they had, the effects are the only way to measure the harm that immigration quotas have caused. Continuing quotas on immigration is nothing more than pointless.

Barr on Fannie/Freddie Bailout

The more this guy talks, the more I like him. The wife has gone into several uncharacteristic rants lately, concerning the unfairness of taxing us for other peoples inability to actually read their mortgage documents (she drove the mortgage brokers crazy and read every page before signing off on all our mortgages. I can't even begin to read that fast) before signing them.

Check out what Bob Barr has to say on the subject:

Fannie & Freddie Bailout Bad for Taxpayers -Barr on FXN 7/14

You won't catch Obama or McCain sounding this type of note. The federal government shouldn't be involved in bailing out private, for profit industries that break the basic rules of finance and contract. The mortgage industry should be left to hang in the breeze.

This all comes of legalized theft (codified as Fractional Reserve Banking) which is what modern banking systems are based on.

Maybe the Beer will Finally be Drinkable

InBev's offer to buy Budweiser was accepted today. If I hear one more person tell me how this is a sign of weakness in the American economy, and that it must be prevented, I think my head will explode.

What this is a sign of is how many dollars are out there in the world in circulation that need investing; and how much faith Europeans have in American's love of beer.

...and who knows; with a Belgian company in charge of Anheuser-Busch, they might finally produce a beer that's worth drinking...

FFrF Radio: David Mills; Archive: Hope Knutsson & Dan Barker

Podcast Link.
July 12, 2008 - Guest: David Mills

The episode starts with a brief discussion of the upcoming FFrF National Convention October 10-12th 2008. I've been to the Hyatt in Chicago before. I doubt that FFrF will have attendance equivalent to a Worldcon, but I wish them luck. Sounds like an interesting event. (Clift's book link)

The audio from a video interview with Jeremy Hall on CNN was played. This video:

Jeremy Hall has been on Freethought Radio before.

Freethinkers Almanac makes a reappearance in this episode. Robert A. Heinlein is a July freethinker (check out JOB: a Comedy of Justice if you have any doubts)

David Mills is on to plug his new book Atheist Universe. His objection, that religious parents and teachers use the ultimate club "you'll go to hell if you don't believe like I do" to manipulate children, is something that rings a bell with me. Fear of hell was the most motivating part of my belief. In the end, it wasn't enough.
"Fundamentalists are imposing themselves on our reality"

2007 Archive episode.
July 14, 2007 - Religion-Free Iceland

Odd, this episode also starts with a promo for an annual convention. I think I see a pattern.

A painful segment from the BBC on priestly abuse of children follows. Not for the squeamish. Followed by proof that Pope Benedict isn't in touch with reality (neither is the sitting Texas governor for that matter) declaring that Jesus formed only one church.

Hope Knutsson is President of Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association.
Icelanders go to church 4 times in their lives; and two of those they have to be carried in. (Icelandic humor)
Phone calls (pro and con) wind up the episode.

2006 Archive episode.
July 15, 2006 - Losing Faith in Faith: Dan Barker

Theocracy alert leads off with this nightmarish figure.

What I said about this episode, previously;
I neglected to mention the two episodes in the archive in which you can learn more about the hosts. Two of the earliest episodes feature one of the co-hosts interviewing the other. Both are memorable. One is Losing Faith in Faith in which we hear more about the history of the former pastor Dan Barker. The other is Religion's Harm to Women and the history of Annie Laurie Gaylor. If I had to pick my favorite of the two, Ms. Gaylor is a more interesting interview subject (sorry Dan) although there is much to learn from Dan's trip from believer to non-believer.
Dan's song Blood Brothers always chokes me up, having to give up the beliefs of youth. Life was so much simpler then; but this life is real, trying to hold on to those illusions would not be.

Dan's book, Losing Faith in Faith has been in print since 1991.

Freethinkers Almanac finishes up the episode. (Han Solo was a freethinker? Well, I don't know about Han, but Harrison Ford...)

Thank you Aaron Burr.

If only Aaron Burr had shot Alexander Hamilton BEFORE he started the destruction of the Constitution with the first Bank of the United States, we might actually owe him thanks.

"With the aid of the doctrine of implied powers," Rossiter wrote approvingly, Hamilton "converted the . . . powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8 into firm foundations for whatever prodigious feats of legislation any future Congress might contemplate." He established the foundations for unlimited government, in other words.

It was Hamilton who first advocated the broadest possible interpretation of the General Welfare Clause of the Constitution so that he could make his case for corporate welfare in his 1791 Report on Manufactures. "It is . . . of necessity left to the discretion of the National Legislature, to pronounce upon the objects, which concern the general Welfare," he wrote. Naturally, the legislature would be eager to define every piece of special-interest legislation to be serving "the general welfare."

Hamilton was also likely to be the first to twist the meaning of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which gave the central government the ability to regulate interstate commerce, supposedly to promote free trade between the states. Hamilton argued that the Clause was really a license for the government to regulate all commerce, intrastate as well as interstate. For "What regulation of [interstate] commerce does not extend to the internal commerce of every State?" he asked. His political compatriots were all too happy to carry this argument forward in order to give themselves the ability to regulate all commerce in America.

read more | digg story
So the Neo-Cons and the Socialist Democrats have the same favorite founding father. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

I may have to pick up Thomas J. DiLorenzo's new book, Hamilton’s Curse; should be controversial reading. Will it be a controversial as his last book The Real Lincoln? We'll just have to see.

Star Trek: The Experience is closing

I guess I put off going for too long.
Offering a sad commentary on the state of the Star Trek franchise, the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas will shut down Star Trek : The Experience this fall.

Part simulator, part environment, part museum and (of course) part gift shop/restaurant, the Experience opened 10 years ago during the height of popularity for the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies. The exhibit gave fans a chance to examine a Trek time line with a collection of sci-fi relics. Then visitors could talk to a Klingon over a drink after strolling across the bridge of the Enterprise.

But, the exhibit isn't drawing the fans it once did -- just as the franchise is fading off the public radar. While J.J. Abrams is hustling to save Star Trek on the big screen, it's too late to save it in Vegas.

The collection of props, costumed "aliens" and adventure simulators was a welcome, nerd-friendly escape from the hustling sleaze and nonstop pinging of slot machines filling the rest of the town. There's no word what will be done with the emptied retail space in the Hilton, but the museum props, ship mock-ups and other bits of Trek history will be returned to Paramount.

CBS/Paramount statements indicate the search is on for the Experience's new home.

read more | digg story

All of my friends who were lucky enough to be able to visit Vegas and the Experience told me (in no uncertain terms) that I really needed to go see it. Now it will close, never to be seen by me. Can I be a true fan without the Experience?

Still, I don't think it would be as powerful to me as it was to one former cast member:

The Experience will always be special to me, because, as I wrote in the Geek in Review (excerpted from Dancing Barefoot):

The Transporter Chief says, “Welcome to the 24th century. You are aboard the starship Enterprise.”

She could have said to me, “Welcome to 1987, Wil. You are on Stage 9.”

She touches her communicator and says, “I have them, Commander.”

We leave the transporter room and walk down a long corridor which is identical to the ones I walked down every day. I realize as we walk that, in my mind, I'm filling in the rest of the sound stage. I'm surprised when we don't end up in engineering at the end of the corridor. Instead, we are herded into a turbolift, where we enjoy some more special effects. The turbolift shakes and hums . . . it's infinitely cooler than the real ones we would stand in for the show.

When the turbolift doors open, and reveal the bridge of the Enterprise, I gasp.

The bridge is a nearly-perfect replica of ours, with a few minor differences that are probably imperceptible to anyone who didn't spend the better part of five years on it. The hum of the engines, which had only existed in my imagination on Stage 8, is now real. I stare at the view screen, where a beautiful starfield gives the appearance of motion. I remember how much I hated doing blue screen shots on the bridge and how much I loved it when they'd lower the starfield. When I looked at those thousands of tiny mirrors, glued onto a screen of black velvet, I could lose myself in the wonderful fantasy that this spaceship was as real as the view.

I am consumed by hypernostalgia.

I am 14-years-old, walking out of the turbolift during Encounter at Farpoint. Corey Allen, the director, excitedly tells me, “Picard controls the sky, man! He controls the sky!”

I am 15-years-old, sitting in my ugly grey spacesuit at the CONN. My fake muscle suit bunches up around my arms. I feel awkward and unsure, a child who desperately wants to be a man.

I am 16-years-old, working on an episode where I say little more than, “Aye, sir.” I want to be anywhere but here.

I am 17-years-old, wearing a security uniform for Yesterday's Enterprise. I am excited to stand in a different place on the bridge, wear a different uniform, and push different imaginary buttons.

I hear the voices of our crew, recall the cool fog that hung around our trailers each morning from Autumn until Spring.

I recall walking to the Paramount commissary with the cast, on our way to have lunch meetings with Gene before he died.

I have an epiphany.

Until this moment, all I have been able to remember is the pain that came with Star Trek. I'd forgotten the joy.

It's obviously an important place to me, though I don't expect it be nearly as important to anyone else in the world. I've always said that it's something every Star Trek fan should, uh, experience, at least once.
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To have been on the show at the age of 15, even if it was as Wesley Crusher (whom everyone loved to hate. At the time) now that would have been an Experience.

Dee's Annie Passes

Stumbled across this Obit The Wife wrote for our friend Ann. We'll miss her.
Mary Ann Johnson was born October 23, 1942 in San Antonio, Texas and died July 7, 2008 in Austin, Texas. The daughter of Solomon Wilson Johnson and Betty Marie (Hutton) Johnson, she lived in many locations around the world while her father was in the air force, including Japan, Bermuda, and Alaska.
Ann overcame significant physical challenges and graduated from Southwest Texas University before completing a career as a Disability Examiner for the Social Security Administration in Austin.
Ann was an avid “Trekkie” which led her to a vast circle of friends around the country. She helped in establishing at least two Austin Star Trek Fan Clubs: IDIC and The Star Trek Austin Regulars (STAR) in the 1980’s and 1990’s. She is a current member of the Eastern Star and any donations can be made in her name to the Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital, Dallas, Texas.
Ann is survived by cousins and many friends. Funeral service will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, July 12, 2008 at Cook Walden Funeral Home, 6100 N. Lamar, Austin (Viewing permitted one hour before services). Graveside service will follow at Live Oak Cemetery, Manchaca, Texas.
I suggest this for a poem. It is the original theme for Star Trek as written by Gene Roddenberry. If this doesn't work for you let me know. I have other options I can come up with that would be meaningful for her.
Beyond the rim of the starlight,
my love is wandering in star flight.
I know he'll find
In star clustered reaches
Love, strange love
A starwoman teaches.

I know his journey ends never.
His Star Trek will go on forever.
But tell him while
He wanders his starry sea,
Remember me.

Ann Johnson: October 23,1942 - July 7th, 2008

I was woken from a dead sleep this morning at 7:00 am to be told that Ann Johnson had passed away during the night from respiratory complications.

Several years ago when she left her townhome for an assisted living facility she asked me to oversee the moving of her stuff. It took me far longer than any reasonable person should expect; about a year all told. The delay was on my end, not hers. Patience was never one of Ann's virtues, but she showed far more patience with me than I had any right to expect.

During the course of sifting through the volumes of video tapes housing the most cherished memories of her lifetime, the crates of magazines and fanzines for the various shows and groups she was following or was a member of; and, of course, the tons of collectibles and artwork that she had amassed through a lifetime of collecting, I found the following photograph.

I thought at the time "this is the way I want to remember Ann." I'm glad that I was able to dredge up a copy from the records so that I could post it here.

The word is given, Ann. Warpspeed.

Here's a link to her journal page at AOL. [ Link altered to point to Donations for their tireless work are appreciated.]Yes, she was an AOLer, but I never held it against her.

FFrF Radio: Nica Lalli; Archive: Darrell Lambert & Rep. Berceau

I don't know what happened, but what went over the air this Saturday was a repeat of Stolen Innocence from two weeks ago. It was worth a second listen (I generally listen to them three times by the time I get a review written) and Elissa Wall's story is one that everyone who is following the story of the FLDS in Texas should hear.

The California Gay Marriage humor brings the messed up state of marriage in Texas to the forebrain again. Not content in just discriminating against gays when it comes to giving out tax bennies (lets call a spade a spade here. This is why gays want to get married. It should be available to anyone in a long term relationship) now, one of our state reps wants to make divorce more difficult to obtain. This is what you get when you let the state get involved in these sorts of personal decisions.

Warren Chisum. Someone else that should be looking for paying work instead of wasting my tax dollars.

The website published the announced episode, however, so I'll link to it and discuss it.

Podcast Link.
July 5, 2008 - Guest: Nica Lalli

The episode begins with a long discussion of Obama's newfound support for Bush's failed faith-based initiative program. Considering his flip-flop on the FISA spying bill, and his shifting foreign policy, I'm beginning to wonder if his campaign for change is going to include any.

There was a brief discussion of the annual independence day weekend bash in Lake Hypatia, Alabama, and the atheists in foxholes monument that is located there.

Nica Lalli was the featured guest. Her interview is primarily geared towards raising children outside of faith, but finished up with her experiences as a believer in nothing.

2007 Archive episode.
July 7, 2007 - Special Guest: Darrell Lambert, expelled atheist Eagle Scout

It bears mentioning that news articles concerning FFrF can be found at FFrF Media coverage.

Darrell Lambert highlights one of the most disturbing things to have occurred in recent years, at least as relates to my own childhood. I was a Cub Scout, Webelo and Boy Scout. I used to love to camp, when I could tolerate pollen, and Boy Scout camp outs were some of the best memories.

To have the current leadership of the Boy Scouts be so blind as to exclude atheists and gays from their ranks is almost too painful to contemplate. Some of the more disturbing memories involve attempts at religious conversion by the zealots in the troops I was a part of. I'd rather have a camp fire and a good ghost story any day.

The episode ended with a discussion concerning the lack of god in the founding US documents. It's something I've noted before.

2006 Archive episode.
July 8, 2006 - Fighting Creationism: Rep. Berceau

Rep. Berceau on her Integrity of Science Education Act; Eugenie Scott from NCSE discusses evolution defense within the public schools. I found it rather entertaining that the second guest disagreed with the stance of the first guest, when it came to legislating what is science. I'd say that Eugenie Scott understands the nature of bureaucracy better than Dan and Laurie do.

No-Billed Joe Horn says, "I'm No Hero"

After learning as many of the facts of the case as I could back in November, I came to the conclusion that a no-bill from the grand jury concerning Joe Horn was the only result that would make sense under current law. Justice being what it is these days, it took 6 months to get here.

As with most things, the proof is in what his neighbors are saying, and they are pretty supportive. Of course, that might have more to do with the more recent killings in the area, rather than a specific desire to vindicate Joe Horn.

The broader picture was always my perspective. In order to protect against home invasion, it's important that a property owner be confident that they will not be prosecuted if they use lethal force against intruders. Even to the point of shooting home invaders who simply walk across your property after breaking into somebody else's house.

Horn, in his interview with the Houston Chronicle said;
"I would never advocate anyone doing what I did"
Yes. I would not bother calling 911 next time. Not if you are determined to use lethal force. Clearly that evidence can be used against you. In hindsight, it's regrettable that the undercover police officer did not inform the 911 operator that he had arrived on the scene until after Horn had already exited the house to confront the burglars. Had Horn been assured that there were police on the scene, I'm quite certain he would have stayed in the house, and the two men would be serving time in prison instead of being dead today. But that's not how it worked out, and reality is a bitch when it comes to 20/20 hindsight.

I called in to the Jeff Ward show myself (Dirty Harry was a cop, Jeff. Just FYI) when the subject of the no-bill came up Monday. Here's the clip.

I'll freely admit to being wrong (or at least unable to verify the facts) concerning the neighbors and permission to protect their property. If I was away on vacation, I'd appreciate someone like Joe keeping an eye on the place.

A 911 operator is not an officer of the law. You are not required to follow their instructions (remember the strip search calls?) Nor do we want to be.

Mr. Horn was not informed of the officer's presence in the area until after he had already fired the shots and was requesting assistance. The police are not required to protect you or your property; "protect and serve" is written on the vehicles, but they have no duty to protect you personally. Look it up. This is why the DC gun ban was overturned last week; the individual is ultimately responsible for protecting his or herself.

Finally, addressing the audio clip, Ed baited me several times trying to get me to go "Dirty Harry" and say killing someone over a property dispute is OK. His final scenario (the one before they cut me off. No hard feelings, it's entertainment) was "what if you were a security guard patrolling the property of a convenience store, and happened across two men stealing beer and Cheetos from the store after it was closed." I think it's safe to say that shooting someone in that scenario isn't problematic. It's dark and you don't know if the men are armed. You are armed, and they are criminals who have just destroyed property and are making off with their ill-gotten gains. I daresay that exact scenario has happened within the last 24 hours somewhere in the country. At most the last month.

One of the neighbors in Pasadena said it best. Hang up the phone. There wouldn't have been a problem in that case.

Ol' Joey gets 400 mil

The news that Limbaugh, or Ol' Joey as I like to think of him, has signed a contract worth 400 million really comes as no surprise. It's hard to argue with success. AM radio was relatively ignored as a media outlet before Limbaugh re-invented talk radio. Populated by largely local call-in shows during the day, and low-budget national call-in shows in the evening and overnight, the idea that one person might be able to do a three hour monologue on a daily basis was probably considered crazy when he proposed it.

That I listened to the content that Limbaugh replaced, the level-headed local content that actually reflected the opinions of the people being broadcast to, probably explains why I rejected Limbaugh's intrusion on my airwaves. His strident rabble-rousing has never played well in my household.

His views are no more the views of the people who listen to his show, any more than any other entertainer's audience agrees with him. Limbaugh can strut around and pretend otherwise, but an entertainer is what he is, and an entertainer is all he will ever be.

Now he is an over-payed, drug abusing entertainer. He's hardly the first.

Steroid Testing Boondoggle

David Dewhurst should be run out of town on a rail after this fiasco.
"I pushed this important legislation through the Legislature because I knew it would deter our young people from wrecking their bodies and putting their lives at risk by using illegal steroids," Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said in Tuesday's editions of the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.
3 million dollars later, and we have nothing to show for it. Two positives out of 10,000 tests administered. That's a statistical equivalent of ZERO atheletes on steroids in Texas.

[Never mind that if I wanted to do steroids as an athelete, I'd be sure that it was documented that I had sinus allergies; the treatment for which is generally steroids. Whatever]

The OLS host repeats it frequently "The Largest Steriod Testing Program in the Nation". Drug testing is an invasion of privacy. If you want to test your own children, knock yourselves out. Leave my children alone.

...and fire David Dewhurst. Even if you think testing is OK, how is this program not a complete waste of funds?

On a related note, our children are getting fatter.
"Our children's health is in jeopardy," said state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville. "We cannot allow an entire generation of Texans to grow up and live a shorter life than previous generations."
Maybe we should stop discouraging them from engaging in extra-curricular activities. Discouragement like testing them for drugs if they want to play sports, for example. Or maybe you should just turn off the TV and take the kid for a walk.

When a Representative of the State mentions children and jeopardy, watch your wallets. There's going to be additional theft-by-taxes proposed shortly following those words.

Poetry vs. Philosophy

Historical musings from the "hey I'll hit publish later" archive. The comments were a response to Dan Carlin's Common Sense episode #127 but they had almost nothing to do with the episode.

The song Dan is thinking of, unless I am mistaken, is a Don Henley song from his first solo album. Not the Eagles.

Although, as the video above shows, the Eagles are not above cashing in on Don Henley's solo efforts, any more than they are above cashing in on Joe Walsh's or any other band members work that will gain them a few more bucks. Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down. Pretty much covers the rise and fall of any candidate, including Barack Obama.

The problem is there isn't a single person who can fix the problems this country faces. Everyone wants to vote and be done with it. Doesn't work that way. You have to roll up your sleeves and get to work yourself if you want to see change.

As a general rule I hate music videos. I link them only because there isn't an easy way to share a song without video attached. The greatest music video is the one running in my head when I'm listening to my favorite music. Having someone else interpret what the sound means ruins the entire concept of 'music'.

Take it Easy has a specific meaning for me, related to the time and place in my life where the poetry spoke to me. Supplanting that with surfed up images is faking real meaning.

Develop an appreciation for classical music, and you'll know what I'm talking about. 
There's a world of difference between a poet and philosopher. Ayn Rand was a philosopher. John Lennon was a poet. Immanuel Kant was a philosopher (just not a good one) Ludwig van Beethoven was a poet (one of the best ever) There is no question what a philosopher means when he attempts to define reality. A poet's every word is open to interpretation, and yet the emotion should ring clearly through the words and/or music.

Mistaking poetry for philosophy highlights a key reason why society is still mired in prehistoric superstition and saddled with problems that can't be solved on anything other than a personal level. Rational legal structures cannot satisfy emotional needs. Wanting to feel safe is not a reason to enslave the medical profession and force me to contribute. Needing to feel cared for is not a reason to steal my retirement savings.

Wanting to save the earth has no bearing on whether your actions will actually improve the environment, or simply destroy property rights; and through their destruction, the fabric of western society itself. If it can be objectively proven that humans are destroying the planet, then either we can be counted upon to act rationally and alter our behaviors for our own good, or the hard-core environmentalists will get their fondest wish. Destroying property rights just improves the hand of the power seeker, who has no more of a clue than you do what will improve the environment.

Wanting to save another's soul from eternal damnation by outlawing questionable behaviors like prostitution and recreational drug use has proven to go farther towards creating hell on earth than doing nothing at all might have. Allowing individuals the freedom to live their own lives, whether you approve of their choices or not, underscores the value of liberty. Poor choices serve as their own correction mechanism; there is no need for further punishment, it just clouds the issue bringing in a layer of paternalism when none is warranted.

Poetry appeals to your emotion, comforting or crying out for redress. Philosophy informs your mind, and outlines the possibilities in life. Clarifying whether someone is being philosophical or poetical is the first step in understanding whether they are trying to avoid reason, or attempting to motivate with emotion. And the difference is crucial.

ALD: DOJ Bombs Liberty Dollar

I have been posting most of Bernard's Alerts on the blog. If you want all of them, they can be found here (Liberty Dollar News is here) This one is more time critical than most.

Alert #20: July 1st, 2008

Unfortunately, out of the blue… the US government aka the DOJ lobbed a bomb (in the form of a Complaint) against the Liberty Dollar's seized property last Thursday, June 29. The civil forfeiture complaint, filed in the US District Court in Asheville NC, definitely moves your gold and silver closer to auction and the outright theft of your legal property. Fortunately, in a bizarre move, it was stayed for six months pending the ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI. Go figure.

Please click HERE to read the whole 52 page Complaint and TAKE ACTION BELOW!

Of course, nobody outside of government wants the DOJ to steal your $3.5 million Liberty Dollars in gold and silver. And a good number, almost 5,000 have signed up for the Class Action Lawsuit. But I would like to get "5,000 people involved"… so I am giving all late comers 48 hours… until 7:00 PM EDT on Wednesday… to add your name to the list.

Want to get your name in history? Well the attorney has agreed to include everybody's name in our response. That's right, we are going to list all the names in what might be the largest case in history. Please note this will NOT be a "Class Action Lawsuit" as that takes too much time and money. No, you will be personally represented by the attorney - if you sign up for the "Class Action Lawsuit" before 7:00 PM EDT on Wednesday.

Shortly after Wednesday, you will receive an "engagement letter" via email from the attorney. It will specify that you want him to represent you at no cost to you, except ten percent duty on all returned material. All you have to do is confirm your contact info, the approximate amount of paper and digital currency you wish to redeem, sign it and click send!

It can't get any easier, better or cheaper! Please send this Last Call to everybody on your email list. This is your opportunity to stand tall for your monetary values.

Click HERE to sign up… if you have not done so.

Thanks for your support. I will continue to keep you informed as the big case shapes up.

Bernard von NotHaus
Monetary Architect / Editor