Good Day, and Welcome to Day 12

Every year about this time I contemplate doing a blog entry a day, in spoof of the 12 days of Christmas. And every year I remember I wanted to do it about halfway to New Years Day. I remembered it a little sooner this year, since we're on day 3, one day after the dual French hens and the day before 4 collie birds (blackbirds), the 3 French Toasts day...


Decent animation. Not sure what I think of an animated show based on The Great White North. It apparently aired while I wasn't watching, somewhere in the great white north...

Christmas: Santa Claus, the Spirit of Giving

Re-publishing this one from 2006. Brought a tear to me eye...

I celebrate the secularized solstice holiday referred to in the US as 'Christmas', which involves a jolly fat guy who delivers presents dressed in a red suit. We spend the holiday with family and friends, giving gifts and trying to brighten the 'Winter' (Winter in central Texas is a frame of mind more than anything else; it certainly doesn't have much to do with the weather) I also spend time reflecting on what the passing of this year means to me, and preparing to celebrate the New Year.

The Wife and I discussed whether or not to share the myth of Santa Claus with our children before they were born. I was all for bursting that bubble; better yet, just not even going there. My memories of Santa Claus are anything but pleasant. My mother and father did Christmas to the hilt. Large tree, Santa decorations, pictures with Santa, the works. Once, when we were staying at our grandfather's house in Sacramento, my sister and I heard a noise in the living room. We nearly made it to the door before our fear of being discovered, and not getting any presents, sent us scurrying back under our covers where we finally fell back to sleep. When we awoke the next morning, there were snow footprints on the fireplace hearth. That was the best year. The next to worst was the year when we were particularly nasty to mom and dad, and got switches (sticks to get spankings with, for the uninitiated) in our stockings instead of candy.

Why is that the next to worst? Because the worst year was when we found out that there was no Santa, and suddenly the magic was gone from the Holiday. Santa never came to our house again. Not too long after that, there was divorce and hardship of an all too real nature as the family was torn apart, and there was no more talk of silly little things like Santa Claus. So you can imagine the mindset that I carried with me to the discussion.

For her part, The Wife never experienced an end to the myth. Even after she knew there was no physical person named Santa Claus that visited her house on Christmas eve, the presents from Santa still showed up. The stockings still were filled, even for mom and dad. It wasn't until I met and married her that there was any magic during the Holidays for me, and then only because of her.

She presented an argument that I couldn't defeat. That there was something good in nurturing a sense of wonder in the children. That perhaps Santa isn't a person, but is instead the charitable spirit that lives inside all of us. That the giving (and receiving) doesn't have to end at all.

So, I tell my children that Santa comes to our house, and there is no lie involved in that statement. Santa Claus is the Spirit of Giving, the anonymous benefactor who gives out of the kindness of his heart and doesn't seek to be recognized for his charity. He leaves presents that are from no one, and fills stockings for the people sleeping under our roof, no matter the age. His is a kindly old soul that doesn't get recognized enough these days.

The Daughter figured out that spirit meant just that, a feeling that comes from within, a few years ago. I know that she has figured it out, because gifts appear under the tree, or in the stockings, that The Wife and I have never seen before. Santa Claus lives on in my house.

Oh, you can point to the Wiki entry on Santa Claus, and tell me how he's actually St. Nicholas, and how his gifts were given personally. That he was a real person and he is really, very dead now. Or you can say that he's the mythological figure, Father Christmas, and that as a mythological figure he never existed at all. It's all fine by me, I love a good story. The Red Ranger came calling is an excellent story about Santa Claus, and it's just about as true as any of the rest of them.

You just go right on believing whatever suits you. I know Santa will visit this house on Christmas Eve, no matter what anybody else believes.

...And that's real magic.

Merry Christmas!

Cataclysm is Not the Game That I Loved

(From a series of posts at Blizzard forums)

But it might become that game. That fate remains unclear though.

What I am disturbed by most in this new flashy WoW world, is this insistence on the part of the developers to discredit any quest progress that was generated in previous versions of the game. I don't care at the bottom of which locked file cabinet the notice was posted that all of the old game quests would be deleted, and the quest count reset, because I wouldn't have agreed with that decision from day one, and would have argued then just as vehemently as I will now. The only difference is that we will have the conversation now.

My only regret in playing World of Warcraft is that I didn't sign on when it was rolled out to start with. Then I would have had a chance to track down King Wryn's kidnappers. I would have been able to do the jailbreak quest. I would have been there when Eastern Plaguelands was a PvP region that was populated with players intent on game progression. I would have been able to confront Onyxia, and liberate the King from her. I could have been part of the opening of Ahn'Qiraj, confronting Eranikus in Moonglade. Instead I signed on when Karazhan was the raid of choice, and a good portion of the classic game was already a cricket chirping wasteland.

Still, it was fun exploring the old world. was irreplaceable when it came to looking up arcane bits of lore that the game no longer explained, things like who Onyxia was and why we wanted to kill her; or how King Wryn could at the same time both be in Stormwind and be kidnapped. It made me appreciate the size of the game and amount of programming that went into creation of a world this detailed.

Then I noticed that Varimathras disappeared from Undercity, and some upstart Orc took his place giving out the same quests he did, even though he claimed that he was going to put a stop to what Varimathras had done. The (always disturbing) apothecary quests still continue, right under the Orc overseer's nose, leading inexorably to the confrontation at the Wrathgate, even though they claim to want to stop it. Then I had to ask myself, "what do these guys not understand about storytelling?" the content doesn't make sense without Varimathras giving out the quests, and Putress directing the apothecaries from the depths of Undercity.

When the new maps rolled out last week, I took the time to make a new toon for each race, listen to the intro cinematic, and play the first 5 levels. Again I had to ask myself if the developers understood motivations of the players, and proper storytelling. The intro cinematic was all about events that lead to the Cataclysm, and talk about events that occur in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King as if they had already happened; as if the players making the new characters would not spend the next few months finding these things out for themselves. "The Draenei retake Outland? Then why am I playing one? The Blood Elves stabilize the Sunwell? Guess I don't need to play that race. Deathknights defeat the Lich King? Then what am I rolling up a DK for, and why would I play Northrend?" Spoilers is what we are talking about here. Yes, the content is out there if you want to know about this stuff, but why throw it in the face of a new player? Just so they can be reminded that their next few months will be completely occupied with game content everyone else has done before? Not what I call positive motivation.

However, it was when I took my Loremaster out into the "New, Flashy" world of Cataclysm, trying to asses the changes that what was disturbing me really hit home. As somebody else noted "it's like Cataclysm is the new toy, programmed by a child. And they can't wait to let you see it" and nothing that came before Cataclysm counts. All of the quest counts are reset, with the exception of Silithus (the one area they could have nuked into oblivion and it wouldn't have offended me. That one they keep. At least I don't have to go back there) I've checked, and a good portion of the quests are identical in goals and locations. They aren't "new" quests. But I'm expected to happily do them again, with no acknowledgement that I'd done the exact quest before. As if there was no WoW before Cataclysm (here's a thought, if I wasn't playing the game, then I shouldn't have been paying for it. Perhaps a refund is in order...?) and that, as the intro blurbs hint at "all that other old stuff we've already done. This Cataclysm is all new" Well, it's not new, it's just been rehashed.

There is new content, yes. Lovely new content. I'd like to be able to distinguish between the old and the new content. I"m not allowed to do that because of this insistence that "all the old quests have been reset" and I have to do all of the content over again. I can't say that I'm interested in doing that. I will say that insisting that I've wasted two years playing a game that the developers no longer want to acknowledge existed isn't going to motivate me to re-up the 4 subscriptions my family maintains. Judging from the feedback on this site I daresay I'm not the only one.

From a player's standpoint, the quest counts should never have been deducted. It wasn't me that started counting the quests, it was Blizzard that introduced achievements for numbers of quests done. Just because the developers think the old game was embarrassing doesn't mean the rest of us agree. We'd like our deleted quests back, at least in the count. What was done, from a players standpoint, always counts. Rather than rolling the Loremaster into a Cataclysm achievement, there should be a special set of achievements denoting just how long some of us have put up with disappearing content. How about a "Jailbreak" achievement? "I liberated King Wryn and all I got was this lousy achievement" achievement? "Varimatharas? I've seen him!" achievement? The "I knew Naxxramas when..." achievement? "Hey, where'd the dam go?!?" for having worked the previous version of Loch Modan. "Watch your step" for falling to your death in the new gulf in the map. How about we acknowledge the real changes, rather than hiding the sameness.

Here's a thought. How about a new set of quest chains poking fun at game developers that don't understand the motivations of the players after all? If they did, they would have understood that discrediting the players past work was going to make a good portion of us very mad.

Again, I'm not the one that decided that there should be achievements, Blizzard did. I happily played the game for a year before these things rolled out. Were there not achievements, I would still be offended by the insistence that something I had done before wasn't something I had done before. I may be curmudgeon, but the brain still works, and I know when I'm being fed a line of bull.

The count should never have been deducted. That this was even entertained, much less followed through on is a mistake of such gigantic proportions from a motivational standpoint that I doubt I can communicate the impact of this. No amount of promises about all the "cool new" stuff that is too come will offset the disgust that I feel at people attempting to sell me on a game that I've already willingly paid for for nearly three years now (4 accounts even) none of which would have been necessary had the developers understood the first thing about player motivation.

The two issues in tandem make playing the "new flashy" regions of the classic game a prospect that I actually dread. Probably not the response that the sales department at Blizzard was looking for (yes I have canceled pre-orders of the game. I offer that up to the sales department for their information) when they go about promoting their new product.

I would like to look forward to playing the new game. Clueless game developers have negated that possibility.

The real core problem here, is I expected more of a change. What I didn't expect is they would reduce the quest tallies as if I never did the quests; as if I hadn't been playing for 3 years; and if I haven't been playing, but I've been paying, then they owe me a considerable sum of money (I mention this because corporate types only pay attention when there are dollar signs attached to the problem) What I didn't expect is they would reset quests that are functionally the exact same quests, and then expect me to happily just do them again on toons that had already done them. To get the exact same quest credit that they took off for doing the exact same quest, previously. I have 18 toons over level 40 and only two of those are DK's. I've done the old content to death. I like the new content, when it's new. Just don't tell me it's new, when it's not.

Quest History! I'm telling you, put the old quests back, build a quest history into the quest log, and let the quests we've done show up there and be tallied but not be in the game anymore. This isn't rocket science.

The other issue is phasing and storyline. While I agree that not all areas of the game can be phased, I'd be willing to bet that the lowbies (especially on PvP servers) would prefer that the higher levels couldn't see them anymore. That should be doable and be done, in my opinion. The voice over intros are horrible and should be redone. There should be more of an explanation as to why there's a new Bronzebeard on the throne in IF. I hope there's more to be done about the Tauren and their leaders death at the hands of... Well, roll a Tauren and find out. It's in the voice over. About the only one I liked. Undercity should be phased. Varimatharas should be there until the toon in question does wrathgate. My level 5 undead hunter was just in the city. The NPC's there are telling her about the Wrathgate. That's BS from a storytelling perspective, especially since there are plague tanks all over Tirisfal now. These Kor'Kron types never go to Brill? It's just silly. If the King Wryn Abduction chain is still in the game, he should be phased for people on that chain. That's the problem with storytelling that I was alluding to, without getting into detail before. I expected phasing, to assist with the storytelling. We were basically told there would be phasing. I expected my Gnome to be able to hearth to Gnomeregan, but now he doesn't even have a place to come back to at all, other than tents set up in Dun Morough. No evidence of phasing for that in the game.

Perhaps I'm jumping the gun on the story issues, the full game isn't out yet. Still, they were so clueless as to think that players wouldn't get pissed off (or even notice) at having their quest tallies reduced, I'm not holding my breath on storyline.

Ancient Loremaster achievement with title "The Curmudgeon" for anyone who had Loremaster in Old Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, and I'll shut up and go away.

Would like to note that the major offense, the reduction of quest tallies, seems to have been corrected. Thanks to the programmers that corrected that oversight.

Would love to see some achievements for those of us who loved and took the time to play the old game, to the point that fellow players would ask "but why are you doing that?" (Never did manage to get a fired seal of ascension. Does the quest still exist? and why? Not listed on wowhead anymore) But I'm not going to hold my breath on that count.

I would really suggest that the voiceovers be changed. They are buzzcrushers, not invitations to explore the world of Azeroth; including Outland and Northrend, not just the shiny new areas. Of course the average gamer will quest until they can dungeon or hit the battlegrounds, then will power level to 85 and only then begin to wonder where the fun is. That would be their problem. I have always enjoyed playing the different areas at level, and will try to overlook things like plaguetanks in Tirisfal glades, just outside of UC, a city occupied by Orc guards who talk about the incident at Wrathgate as if it already happened...

...hmm, guess I'll need to work on that last bit. But seriously, at least I can continue down the road to the new quests without having to contemplate -1301, -1300,-1299 at each step. That does make it possible to enjoy the process again. Here's hoping I can re-suspend disbelief.

I have now been told by three GM's that the lowered quest tallies are intentional. Were I a programmer or a developer for this game I would be backpedaling from any statements that this punishment of the long time players was in any way intentional, and would instead treat it as a bug that will be corrected (by raising the numbers back to the correct level, the higher level) ASAP.

"So you care about a number? How does another player even see that?" There's a function in game to compare stats, but you don't even need to go there, it's right on the forum now.

Isn't that nice? The correct number is 2384, BTW.

This is the really insulting one.

The correct number is 3083.

Or this one.

The real number here is 1865.

This reduction, this punishment is going to cost Blizzard money. My money, for starters.

For what it's worth, I know how to make the Cataclysm expansion work with the superseded previous expansions as a continuous narrative. The BE's and Draenei starting areas could be tricky to fit into the scheme, but the voice-over could be tweaked to mention the Bronze dragonflight placing them back in time to relive blah, blah, blah... which would then tie into the fix for the previous two expansions that weren't revisited (DK's don't need any work other than to have them go straight to BC after the beginning area) they could even write in Chromie to introduce the newbs to the fact that outside the beginning area the world has changed, when they 'graduate' from the beginning areas.

Now for the unedited expansions. Redirect the portals in the cities that lead to blasted lands to the CoT, and have the starting area for BC and WotLK placed there, with a leader quest in the capitols (much like the one for Cataclysm at 80 now) directing 58's (and 68's for WotLK) to go there to speak to the Bronze's about problems in the past needing to be addressed, yada, yada, yada.

Tie the required visits to the past to the already established time travel work done in CoT, it really is that simple. They could even poke fun at the anachronism at the different boat and zepplin landings. Have the NPC's talk about the strange rumors of the ships traveling to the past, and that Arthas still sits on the frozen throne according to the people who return from Northrend...

They may have already thought of something like this and are ready to implement it. Considering how much programming work remains to be done on the game, I wouldn't be surprised at much of anything that would emerge over the next month or so.

Something needs to change. The way things are now is too jarring. I would have preferred that they wrote in new content for levels 60 thru 80 (as the original announcement stated they were going to, "new content for levels 1 to 85") that would have provided an alternate for going through the superseded expansions. I can see that was never going to happen, though. What I described above would at least allow the player to pretend it all makes sense...

So, here I am. Two weeks out from Cataclysm release, and faced with having nothing else to do in the game but endlessly rerun dungeons for gear, the only way in game to realistically gear up toons, once again. I was bored with that in Wrath of the Lich King two weeks ago. New dungeons? Sure, 5 of them, and those 5 are all that's available in the dungeon finder (the only way anyone does group efforts that aren't raids, anymore) and with no way to get to the old content except fly, those 5 is all anyone will be doing. I don't know how else to define "even more boring" than 5 instead of 16 possible dungeons in random. I don't know if I'll ever find out how many dungeons are available in heroic. Since I'm not going to endlessly repeat dungeons looking for gear, I may never get to heroic level dungeons. I would have hoped that they would have updated all the previous 'heroic' dungeons (they are as useless as 'tits on a bull' as the saying goes, now. Providing gear that is surpassed by any measure of the game other than vanity) so that a random was as likely to send you to Hellfire as it is to send you to Blackrock Caverns. But I'm not bothering with hope anymore, considering how much possibility with this expansion was just left lying on the table.

Would have loved a mage portal to summoning stone locations ability, that would have made it possible to get to the old content easily. Ah, well. So many things that "could have been done" but weren't done. Things like real professions for gearing purposes, instead of profession limited buffs being the focus of every profession in endgame.

I'm going to winge on about professions here for a bit, professions being one of the major stumbling blocks in the game as currently structured. The worst off is strangely enough the most recent addition, Inscription. Sixty of the glyphs for this profession are only learnable by finding a Book of Glyph Mastery, and they are a rare dungeon drop in Wrath of the Lich King dungeons only. Consequently the supply of these has dried up of late, since no one runs those dungeons anymore. The 450 to 525 levels don't even concern the making of new glyphs. Since they've made scroll effects duplicates of potion effects, they've made glyphs permanently learnable; and the trinkets, off hands and 'ranged' are all surpassed at level 85 heroic, the only reason to do inscription is the shoulder buff. Big woop. Leatherworking is in a similar fix, I've gone on long enough about that one elsewhere (seriously? 5 for one Heavy Savage Leather? Not reasonable) Complaints about blacksmithing are similar to those with Leatherworking, being only in slightly less of a fix because the mats are at least reasonably farmable on off hours. Extra buffs for wrists and legs, or wrists and belts. Not motivational as far as maintaining the profession goes. Tailoring? Haven't even looked. Two more slots on bags isn't enough to motivate me to worry about it. Engineering? Gave up on that before even getting past Outland level. The cost of the vanity bike at the end of WotLK was enough to do that. Seriously, how much gold? Unless that's my focus in game, I won't ever have it for that, unless I go to a gold reseller, which will potentially get my account banned. Enchanting, Jewelcrafting and Alchemy remain the only professions that have relevance in endgame, because they have buffs that can be given to other players at raid level.

Rare mats once again seems to be the rule, scarcity being the motivator of choice to keep people occupied in the game.

I would spend some time exploring the updated content, but since they've chosen to punish old players with reduced quest tallies, I'll have to do that with a new toon; and a new toon will have to play through the bypassed areas of Outland and Northrend, 20 of the longest levels of work, in content that serves no purpose in the current storyline, just so I can once again face those interminable last 5 levels of new content, and the same gearing roadblock. Strangely, I'm not hyped up for that journey.

Perhaps it is time to find another game. I always said I'd quit playing when I wasn't having fun. I can't say that I'm having fun playing WoW right now...

World of Warcraft Endgame Professions Critique

Actually, it's mostly about leatherworking in WoW. But it applies generally to the other secondary WoW professions.
Having now leveled every profession except Engineering through the functional end of WotLK (425+) I have some basic complaints about the endgame LW in WotLK that weren't present in any of the previous incarnations of the game; things I would like to see not happen again in Cataclysm.

The first one is mats. None of the professions require you to initiate a sequence 100 times in order for you to make one item of 'epic' quality, other than LW. Heavy Borean Leather, which is manufactured at a rate of 6 to 1 from Borean Leather (twice as much as Heavy Knothide Leather, and there is no classic equivalent to this process that I know of) the skinner/Leatherworker if they want to make level 78 to 80 items, takes Borean Leather skinning drops and combine them to make Heavy Borean leather, which does not drop. One item for about a stack of 20 Heavy Borean Leather. Crafted epic items which are promptly replaced as soon as Heroic dungeon level gear is available because that gear is superior. This bottleneck of mats has literally caused me to abandon the practice of making gear for my alts, in favor of simply repetitavely running dungeons in order to obtain badges and points for gear that is far superior, and cheaper from a time/gold spent perspective.

The other issue is patterns. There aren't enough of them, especially at endgame. Full sets of mail, leather (and plate for BS) should be available every 10 levels or so (and they should be able to be worn at vaguely the same time, unlike the patterns in BC) When new content is added to endgame, trainer patterns for the gear that drops there (or similar to that) should be made available. Doing this would actually stimulate profession usage, and gameplay at endgame levels, broadening the already tending to narrow focus of endgame play.

I'd really like to see a blue post that addresses my concerns here. I see this as a serious flaw in game design, that the profs are left out of the endgame play, other than vanity items like engineering choppers and the like. Please, please make Blacksmithing and Leatherworking(and tailoring! tailoring at least has bags to make. Leveled a mage to 80 just farming mats and making bags for my other alts) relevant at endgame. Reduce the boredom repetitive dungeoning brings. Please.

New World of Warcraft forum location the post above can be found here.

I'm working through Cataclysm Leatherworking profession now, and I just hit the leather roadblock again. 50 kills to make one item? Bloodied Wyrmhide Shoulders, just as an example. Not to mention the rare as all hell volatile water? 10 of them? For shoulders that will be replaced as soon as you get a heroic drop?

Did you people think about drop rates and relative work to create items before you programmed it? Or just pull numbers out of a convenient orifice? Because if point systems are structured as they were in Wrath of the Lich King, I'm once again going to be (borrrriiiinnnnnng!) endlessly repeating dungeons in order to gear toons rather than doing the even more (borrrriiiinnnng!) lengthy work of farming leather for gear. Ya'll are making me think I need to find another game.

If a pattern of a particular level requires a particular weight of leather, then skinnables of that level should drop that item. Basic rule of thumb in game design. It's strange that I need to remind the programmers at Blizzard about this.

FIX THIS!! It's a simple thing to change the skinning drops, so change them!

Looking back from 8 years in the future, I find my frustration at endgame crafting amusing. In every single expansion after this one, endgame crafting has been utterly ridiculous when it comes to the amount of mats necessary to craft an item of endgame gear. I'm sure this is done to make it as hard to get superior gear as it is to get it through working dungeon and group instances. It's actually much harder to make your own gear in endgame than it is to keep running instances to get it, and the crafted gear is never the best in game for long, nor is it usually upgraded to match the latter parts of an expansion. The only time it has been upgradable and useful in my experience was during the end of the last expansion, Broken Isles, and then only for things like alchemy trinkets. So, not worth the time to maintain most of the professions.

I still obsess about them, but I frequently wonder why these days.  

Stossel and Prop 19

Content of a letter I just wrote. Let's see if I get a response.

Watched this segment when it aired. My wife had to make me turn it off. It started playing in the background just now, and I found myself yelling at the screen again "shut up you #@$%^&!" I do actually despise Bill O'Reilly. He's a religious zealot that is only slightly more in touch with reality than Glenn Beck, which makes him that much more of a problem, frankly.

Why did you air this segment, and his outright lies, without challenging him on them? If you really want to know why the proposition failed, try watching this video. Contact these people, get their facts and set the record straight. I've followed you to FOX because I respect your integrity. You're being at FOX and not having to argue with ABC's management about libertarian ideas has made you lax, IMO. Either that, or you are under constraints not to talk back to FOX's big baby, Bill O'Reilly.
Those who profit from the current system (cops, pharmaceutical growers, the governments of several nations) lined up against this measure. It was very clear to anyone paying attention what the real motivation against 19 was.

Gaming's Potential Contribution to the World

People ask me all the time "Why do you spend so much time playing that game" Warcraft is but the latest in a long line of game obsessions of mine (been working on that post for awhile now. That one and a religion one and a citizenship one and a disability one...) This is the first explanation of why that ever rang true to me. It's also an explanation of what gaming might be able to do for the world.

Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century

CATO event. Here's the Podcast link.
But that's not all! There's an hour of video too!

If a person names as his three favorites of my books; Stranger, Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers, then I know that he has groked what I meant. -RAH

If you'd rather just purchase the biography of Heinlein that this event is about, here is the link for that.

MSNBC spanks Olbermann for Forgetting he Doesn't Work for FOX

In the For What It's Worth department, we have the following;

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
MSNBC Suspends Keith Olbermann
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Here we have Jon Stewart making fun of MSNBC for slapping Olbermann's wrist over something that FOX does all the time. As illustrated in this segment;

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Yes, that's right. FOX fabricated the entire story (and I have to watch The Daily Show to get this news!?!) MSNBC, of course, pretending to still be a journalistic news source, while FOX is simply the video version of the National Enquirer. Quite literally.

October 21st at the Saxon Pub

That's the date and place that I finally got to see Tom Cochrane in person. I've been a fan of his for more years than I can remember, and this one set at the Saxon Pub in Austin has made all the years melt away. ready to go dig out the albums again and give them all a listen.

The bar was full, probably 30 people. Tiny little place. Nice music venue, as small clubs go. When I asked if Tom was in the house, the doorman waved me over toward the stage, where Tom was in a conversation with another fan. Tom was warm and friendly, wanted to know what I would like to hear. I know, Life is a Highway is the song you get if you ask for Tom Cochrane at a radio station (it's his Stairway to Heaven equivalent) but, Life is a Highway has a special place in my heart because my children demanded I play it over and over again in the car, when it was a new song. I asked for something off of Neruda too, because Neruda remains my favorite album of his. He left the table after that, and we sat down to enjoy some front row seats for the set. I started reflecting on "what I wanted to hear" at that point. Then it hit me, and I had to wander over to his manager's table where he was waiting to take the stage, and ask if he could play Beautiful Day, the last new song of his that really spoke to me. He actually laughed and said something to the effect “that was four years ago, my memory doesn’t go back that far” although he said he liked Stonecutter’s Arms from the same album X-ray Sierra (another one of my favorites) I discovered he has some new material out, an album called No Stranger (same name as a local band that I used to follow, oddly enough, No Strangers) I look forward to giving it a listen soon.

When they took the stage...
[Tom, obviously as lead singer/guitar, Ken Greer on steel guitar, Shawn Pander played rhythm guitar and sang back up vocals on the last three songs. Didn’t catch the drummer’s name. The Wife played percussion for years, so she probably knows. They talked for a good 10 minutes about the wooden drum that he was playing. (This looks like him, but surely not..?) Two horn players too. All part of Shawn’s band, from what I understood]
...they played Lunatic Fringe, White Hot, Northern Star, White Horse and finished up with Life is a Highway.

Shawn started his set with a unique take on Lonely People, and a quip about Tom being harder to follow than a Beatlemania band. I was there to see Tom, but Shawn’s music warrants a listen to. Hard to say what I thought of his act, since I was so psyched about getting to see Tom for the first time.

We talked for awhile between Shawn’s set and the next band’s start time. Complimented Ken on his guitar work. I never realized just what an impact his presence in the band was, until he sat in for one of Shawn’s songs. Completely changed the feel of the music. The man can make a guitar speak, in ways that very few people can come close to mastering. A true artist.

Then it was over. All too soon. Got a hug from Tom. The Wife did too. I hope to see them all again sometime, including Shawn. It was an interesting evening. One for the long term memory files, if only I can find the key to those...

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of federalizing Texas law enforcement

Downsize DC sent out an alert yesterday in response to the announcement by the Attorney General that he intends to enforce federal drug laws in California even if the people there vote to legalize Marijuana.

War on Drugs: How the Attorney General Will Waste Your Money and Trash the Constitution

Being the slacktivist that I am these days, I copied the content of the letter in the alert, and posted it as my own, changing the text to reflect my state instead of James Wilson's. It went like this;

If California's Prop 19 passes, it will mean the voters believe the War on Pot is unjust, ineffective, unworkable, and too expensive.

If Texas passed something like Prop 19, how would you react? Would you follow the will of the people? Or would you want the DEA to randomly terrorize law-abiding Texans?

Attorney General Holder wants to do the latter. If Prop 19 passes, Holder promises to "vigorously enforce" federal marijuana laws in California.

This would be a complete waste of my tax dollars! There won't be enough DEA agents to effectively enforce the federal laws.

More importantly, most federal marijuana laws - as with most federal drug laws in general - violate the Tenth Amendment. This means that the fraction of pot growers and users who do get arrested in CA will be law-abiding citizens singled out arbitrarily or maliciously by the DEA.

Please speak out against Holder's plan. Please do so before the election, so I know where you stand.

Cornyn's mail server, being the mail server for the savvy politician that he is, just auto-responded that he got the letter. I'm sure he won't have much to say before the election. Senator Hutchison though...

...Her office sent out a letter of a completely different nature. Her reply follows.
Dear Friend:

Thank you for contacting me regarding efforts to legalize marijuana. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

As drug use continues to rise in our country, especially among our youths, I believe we need to send a message that all illegal drug use is dangerous. We can win the war on drugs, but we will not do so by legalizing marijuana or encouraging its use for any purpose.

Researchers have found that marijuana use can adversely affect brain activity and the respiratory system, lead to increases in heart rate and blood pressure, and impair critical skills related to attention, memory, and learning. In addition, the harmful chemical in marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been linked to low birth weight and impaired motor development in children whose mother used marijuana.

I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you.

Kay Bailey Hutchison
United States Senator

284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-5922 (tel)
202-224-0776 (fax)
Dear friend. Such a personal response too. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. Yes it's a form letter, but it's a form letter that her office felt addressed my concerns. Let's parse this so that we understand what this response means.

First off, she says "we can win the drug war" a claim that is patently absurd based on the multi-decades long attempt to outlaw drug use, as can be demonstrated by the briefest perusal of the content over at To truly understand the magnitude of the folly we are engaged in, one need look no farther than the history that documents alcohol prohibition, and what a success that endeavor was. Which is why alcohol remain illegal to this day, right?

Then she goes on to list out the harmful effects of marijuana use, the claims of which are highly exaggerated, to say the least. Even so, the harmful effects of alcohol consumption are far greater, not to mention tobacco use. Good thing neither of those can be consumed legally, either.

All of this is beside the point that motivated me to write. While the drug warriors won't admit it, the writing is on the wall; the War on Drugs is a failure. It's all over but the crying. I'd like to limit the harm inflicted on the population at large by grandstanding politicians, greedy state and city police forces that see dollar signs every time they confiscate another families entire list of assets if they can only be shown to be dealing drugs, and the ignorant population that doesn't read up on subjects that they think they have valid opinions on. (that's right. If you disagree with me, your opinion is invalid. Have a Nice Day!) What motivated me to write was the news that the Federal government (those guys in Washington that our state leaders here in Texas are always whining about) is going to go out of it's way to victimize Californians that dare to engage in legal activities within the State of California.

...And Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in favor of federalizing Texas law enforcement as well, apparently. If we dare to pass laws that the feds don't like, that is. Time for a new Senator or two. Perhaps an entirely new Senate is in order. I hear-tell that there's a movement afoot to repeal the 17th amendment. Perhaps it's time to reverse that one, just like the one that was reversed and should have stopped all drug enforcement operations in the US. If only they had gone that far then.

Sunset the SBOE. It's the Only Viable Solution.

Textbooks from ten years ago the subject of a current resolution; and even at that, erroneous conclusions from 10 year old textbooks. Why hasn't the SBOE been sunset yet? Clearly, they don't have enough real work to keep them busy.

Attacking Religious Freedom: The Anti-Islam Resolution

After recklessly politicizing new social studies curriculum standards just months ago, the Texas State Board of Education wasted no time manufacturing another political controversy instead of focusing on the education of public school students. In July a failed state board candidate, Randy Rives of Odessa, asked the board to adopt a resolution condemning what he alleges are “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias” in social studies textbooks. Here is a short clip of Rives introducing his resolution in July, comparaing the “pro-Islam” agenda in textbooks to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s declaration that he would take over America without firing a shot:

The proposed resolution, now championed by far-right members of the board, includes a variety of disingenuous claims designed to demonstrate the alleged bias in high school world history textbooks published in 1999. A Texas Freedom Network analysis shows that the resolution and its supporting materials are based on claims that are superficial and grossly misleading. Further, examples cited in the resolution come from world history books no longer used in Texas schools. Yet the board is set to consider the measure at its September 22-24 meeting in Austin.

This resolution is another example of state board members putting politics ahead of expertise and refusing to consider the advice of real scholars before doing something provocative and divisive. Indeed, the board has asked no scholars or other experts for public advice about the resolution. Moreoever, the resolution insists that the board has the authority to reject any proposed textbooks that do not deal with Christianity and Islam as board members desire. As a result, this measure represents and end-run around Texas law barring the board from editing or censoring textbooks.

The Texas Freedom Network believes textbooks should treat all religions with respect and dignity. This ill-considered resolution, however, is simply a thinly veiled attempt to generate fear and promote religious intolerance. And more than this, it involves our children in a divisive political debate that has no place in Texas classrooms.

Take This Map, It's Why You're Wrong About the "Ground Zero Mosque"

Article in the Village Voice

Dear Rest-of-America: Take This Map, It's Why You're Wrong About the "Ground Zero Mosque"
According to a recent Siena Research Institute poll, over half of New Yorkers polled think that the "Ground Zero Mosque" will promote racial and religious tolerance, or are open to the idea of it. Yet: 68% of Americans oppose it, despite the endorsements of New York City's mayor and the President of the United States of America. But that's not why you're wrong, America. This, however, is. 
What's more offensive: Having a....
* "Ground Zero Burger King."
* Memorial that's never happened because of hyper-capitalist conflicts.
* Bunch of tacky souvenir tables.
* Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia.
* Bunch of tacky souvenir tables that profit off of cheap, China-made 9-11 memorabilia when they're not selling fake Rolexes to the same Americans coming to New York, buying from them, going home, and telling New Yorkers where to put our Mosques.

or an Islamic Cultural Center with a 9/11 Memorial (more than what's actually been put to paper for an official 9/11 Memorial) two and a half blocks away?

Reminder: Muslims were victims of 9/11, too. Sorry, but it's true. And one was an NYPD cadet.

Maybe we'll care what you have to say when you stop bothering us for directions in the subway on how to get to Ground Zero so you can go there and buy some dumb, tacky knickknack you can take home and give to friends to let them know that you spent money on a shake-a-snow where a few thousand people died. Maybe then. But probably not. Shut up, go away, and also, stop lying, or at least tell your politicians to stop lying. It might help you recognize the truth, which is that you're wrong, and you're attacking vital American freedoms by going against this Mosque. The truth is that you're terrorists in your own right. You are striking against America by going against this mosque. You are, in effect, almost as bad as the ones who killed people on 9/11. Okay, not quite, not really, but kind of, because you're fighting against what 9/11 victims died for: religious freedom, which said terrorists don't have and don't want anyone else to have.

But now you have a map to see how wrong you are, okay? Now: Fuck you. Fuck you and shut up, you assholes. Shut up and leave New York alone.
Here's something else. Ron Paul says MYOB
It is repeatedly said that 64% of the people, after listening to the political demagogues, don't want the mosque to be built. What would we do if 75% of the people insist that no more Catholic churches be built in New York City? The point being is that majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as well as individual dictators. Statistics of support are irrelevant when it comes to the purpose of government in a free society -- protecting liberty.

The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on 9/11 spoke for all Muslims. This is like blaming all Christians for the wars of aggression and occupation because some Christians supported the neo-conservatives' aggressive wars.

The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding an investigation -- a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law -- in order to look tough against Islam.

This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
I've personally been a member of since it was founded. I've never understood why we would be expected to set aside a huge section of the most expensive real estate in the world, just for the purpose of remembering the tragedy. Wouldn't the largest building complex in the world be a fitting memorial, and a statement to the terrorists that we don't give a damn about what they want?

If you lost somebody close to you on 9-11, my heart goes out to you. That's a permanent hole in your life that you'll always be aware of. May you find some way to be at peace with yourself, and others, concerning the events of that day.

If you didn't loose somebody, if all you have to deal with is the shock of being attacked by people we provoked for several years before they thought to strike us on our own soil; to you losers I say: It's been 9 years. Get over it already.

Help Prevent Political Interference with Curriculum Standards

H. RES. 1593

Supporting academically based social studies curriculum standards for the Nation's elementary and secondary education public school textbooks.


July 30, 2010

Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas (for herself, Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. HINOJOSA, Mr. REYES, and Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor


Supporting academically based social studies curriculum standards for the Nation's elementary and secondary education public school textbooks.

Whereas the National Council for the Social Studies believes that State social studies standards should be developed by consulting scholars for their expertise, soliciting input from community members and educators, and having master social studies educators write standards to ensure that they are effective and grade appropriate;

Whereas the Texas State Board of Education appointed teachers and scholars to serve on writing teams and tasked them to use their expertise and professional judgment to draft curriculum standards for each subject or grade level;

Whereas elected officials at the Texas State Board of Education disregarded many academically based recommendations and approved politically biased standards within the curriculum that are outside of mainstream scholarship;

Whereas due to the size and influence of the Texas textbook market, curriculum standards adopted in Texas have long exerted a strong influence on public school textbooks used around the United States;

Whereas changes made by the Texas State Board of Education, such as downplaying the struggle leading up to and during the civil rights movement and undermining basic concepts of the constitutionally mandated boundaries between institutions of religion and government are outside the mainstream of historical scholarship;

Whereas over 1,200 history scholars from universities across Texas and the Nation signed a letter stating that Texas' social studies curriculum revisions would undermine the study of the social sciences in public schools by misrepresenting and even distorting the historical record and the functioning of United States society; and

Whereas civil rights organizations expressed concern that the curriculum standards adopted by the Texas State Board of Education do not accurately portray the struggle by minorities and women to achieve civil and equal rights in the United States: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) supports standards that guide curriculum development, instruction, and assessment in classrooms that are developed by experts and not subject to political biases;

(2) supports social studies curriculum standards that reflect current historical scholarship to accurately present vocabulary and content-specific knowledge to students, help students acquire the analytical skills to understand chronology, and engage in comprehension, interpretation, problem-solving, and decisionmaking required for college readiness and the 21st century workforce;

(3) supports social studies curriculum standards that accurately address the fundamental conflicts and triumphs that have shaped the Nation's past and influence its future; and

(4) supports social studies curriculum standards that are clear, informed, and inclusive to allow students to be knowledgeable of the Nation's diverse history and culture, just as our diversity represents an integral part of the Nation as a whole.

Those who are concerned about the impact of the SBOE in Texas' effect on national textbooks should write their congressperson in support of this resolution.

...or you could use this link.
Be warned, it goes to CFI.

Evolution in America

A good discussion on evolution/creationism debate. However, just listen to the first 5 mins or so of the presentation and...

40 percent of Americans accept "young earth creationism" but 78 percent accept "continental drift". This should be a bright red warning flag on the (lack of) thought processes of the average American.

Can people that ignorant be trusted to open cans properly, much more be trusted to point guns (or ballots) in the right direction before using them? I think it's a valid question.

Bernard is Jailed - Part I

Reformatted in his usual style. The block text transmission that I got earlier today was a pain to read, and not the way that I know Bernard likes his communications to look.

Just passing this along.

June 2010 email: (sent August 1, 2010)
Bernard is Jailed - Part I

Table of Contents:

1. Two Exciting Newscasts Regarding Money
2. Kevin the Beautiful
3. Liberty Dollar Site Is Closed Thank you for your inquiry…

Bernard is Jailed - Part I

First, please note the format changes to this email reply to your inquiry about the me and your property that was confiscated during the ongoing legal battles regarding the Liberty Dollar. It would appear that the once great First Amendment and the concept of innocent until proven guilty do not apply to anyone who is out on an Appearance Bond.

Second, I apologize for this relayed email regarding June development and that now I can't write my usual monthly "Newsletter." While I have been late a few times with the chronicle of the Liberty Dollar since October 1998, I have never missed a month. I trust being in jail, defending the Liberty Dollar is a good reason.

Third, I hereby confirm the rumors that I was jailed, but not re-arrested. I was incarcerated when I appeared to answer charges that I violated the terms of my Appearance Bond before Magistrate Judge Cayer, Federal District Count in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, July 14. There is much to disclose about that hearing and my next five plus days and five nights in Mecklenburg County and Catawba County Jails but I don't have the time right now. But stay tune. I promise to tell all in my next email for July.

Contained in this email are links for two excellent video newscasts Part I and Part II that aired while I was in jail that features Dave Gillie and Jeff Kotchounian using a value based currency. Most importantly is the quote from the US Treasury website that merchants can use anything they want for money. And equally noteworthy is one of Kevin's letters that was recently posted on the site and forwarded to me.

PLEASE read this letter and marvel at the exulted space that Kevin occupies while standing firm for the Liberty Dollar after 14 MONTHS behind bars. Like Kevin, we have an extremely strong, winnable case and the government is going to lose dearly for this shortsighted misadventure.

Item #1: Two Exciting Newscasts Regarding Money

These two video newscasts speak for themselves. I neither indorse nor support these two brave American patriot's efforts. I fact, I was surprised when the URLs were sent to me. But I was not surprised by the US Treasury site that proves 'a private business, a person or an organization…are free to develop their own policies...' for money. In part the government site says:
"There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept [US] currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise."
The complete quote for the very first question on the US Treasury's FAQ site is found here: Now watch these two newscasts and decide who is going to win this case: Part I: Part II:

Item #2: Kevin the Beautiful

I know you are busy and you may not even know Kevin but I hope you will take a moment to ravel in Kevin's amazing jailhouse consciousness and hopefully send him a note of support and/or a few dollars, as he can't eat the slop that passed as food in jail. And I know that all too well!

From Kevin to a supporter - July 2010:
I continue to consider my time here as an opportunity for some intense independent training so that I can be more effective at helping society when I get out, helps me redirect my thoughts. From all of the wonderful experiences I am missing out on by being here, back to the hear-and-now and my self-imposed tasks. "The Now" is truly all that I can experience "in Technicolor" - all else is just a hazy "black and white" dream.

By being true to what I know to be right and honest I can more easily infuse the present with the enthusiasm and with the awareness that Gold is right here with me. Bliss, God and the Now are One. Standing firm in my convictions and my truth is fundamental to my evolving success, not only spiritually, but also in a worldly sense.

In contrast, there is nowhere I can go for relief if I am in conflict with myself. Yes, this has already taken a very long time and I might only be part-way through it but thinking in terms of time only increases the suffering. When we are One with the timeless inner Self there is really nothing to fear. The more we can connect our light with that wonderful Light that is also in others, especially among those who remind us of this, like you and I, the more we can warm to each other's glowing.

It is great to hear you are drawing loving people to you. How can they resist?
Please write to Kevin:

William K. Innes
2351 Morganton Blvd. SW
Lenoir, NC 28645

Please send Money to Kevin:

C/O Julia Gaunt
16 Norman Austin Dr.
Asheville, NC 28804

Item #3: Liberty Dollar site is now closed due to court action.

And last but not least, the Liberty Dollar site is now down. Hope you got a copy before all that great info was taken down or know how to find it. I will explain this regretful development in my email to you for July.

Closing Remarks:

That's it short and sweet. I promise to disclose all regarding my jail experiences and the latest on the Liberty Dollar Four in my next email for July. There are amazing develops with Liberty Dollar Four case, so please stay tune for all the details and an exciting trial! I remain convinced and dedicated to the ideals of the Liberty Dollar and that the only way for us to have a free society is by banding together and adopting a free and independent currency that provides us with "just weights and measures" to throw off the yoke of a manipulated monetary/tax system. Thank you for your inquiry and efforts to return America to value - one dollar at a time!

Bernard von NotHaus
Monetary Architect/Editor

Can't Pirate Starcraft II? Says who?

From Structured Dream
I just read a review by Matt Peckham mentioning the lack of free "pirated" versions of the long-anticipated game, StarCraft II, which he sums up as: "PC gaming 1, pirates 0". In his view, "PC gaming" is pitted against players who want to play, but are resistant to being forced to pay $60 or more, in advance, to a secretive corporation, which is part of an even more secretive, corporate, profit-maximizing conglomerate.

Pirates 85, actually. That's the count on for Starcraft II. I paid for my copy, as I pay for my WoW usage (I want to play on the official servers, not the private ones that are free) but it's hardly the case that the game(s) can't be pirated.

But I think you've hit the nail on the head. The question then becomes, how do these entertainment employees make money if they can't charge for their product? Fee for service (as in the WoW public servers) shouldn't be a problem, but that's what kept me from playing the game for years. What bothers me is they still charge for the game (and they still charge for 10 year old games on the battlenet site, BTW) even though they will charge you to use their servers as well. That feels like double billing to me.

Stupidity moves South for the Summer.

Stupidity moves South for the Summer.

School Board might OK teaching creationism
LIVINGSTON — The Livingston Parish School Board will begin exploring the possibility of incorporating the teaching of “creationism” in the public school system’s science classes.

During the board’s meeting Thursday, several board members expressed an interest in the teaching of creationism, an alternative to the study of the theory of evolution, in Livingston Parish public school classrooms.

Board Member David Tate quickly responded: “We let them teach evolution to our children, but I think all of us sitting up here on this School Board believe in creationism. Why can’t we get someone with religious beliefs to teach creationism?”

“We shouldn’t just jump into this thing, but we do need to look at it,” Martin said. “The American Civil Liberties Union and even some of our principals would not be pleased with us, but we shouldn’t worry about the ACLU. It’s more important that we do the correct thing for the children we educate.”

...The correct thing would be to teach science in science class, and religion in Sunday School.


What? No Paisley!?!?

Found the new Blogger tools today. Can you tell? Discovered that the background patterns are seriously lacking. Kinda like this cubist thing, though.

DRM with a catchy title is still DRM

Although truthfully, I made this blog entry just because I find this kind of humor hilarious.

More at

TED talks about the Oil Spill

I was watching Deadliest Catch on Tuesday (We'll miss you Phil) and during "After the Catch" they brought on fishermen from the gulf to talk about the impact of the oil spill. During that discussion, the captain of the Time Bandit pointed out that 25 years later, the fisheries affected by the Exxon Valdez have still not recovered.

This does not bode well for the future of the gulf. Here's a TED talk on the subject.

TEDxOilSpill June 2010 Carl Safina The oil spill's unseen villains — and victims

It's been my opinion that "the other shoe" hasn't dropped yet as far as the gulf spill goes. No one knows what the long term impact of this event will be, but judging from the aftermath of the much smaller Alaska spill I'd be surprised if there's much fishing left in the gulf, at all. Which begs the question, what are we going to eat, and how are those people going to make a living? Something to think about.

A new twist on "Mowing the Grass"

This is a Treo photo. Here's a better one.

...I had to drive by this thing three times before it clicked what they were advertising for. Yes, I think I'm generally slow on the uptake.

Star Trek by the Minute, the Last Minute

With minute 117, STBTM has come to a close. I think this quote from the comments pretty well covers it.
I believe the point that this film was shamefully sexist, religious, ignorant, inconsistent, and poorly written in ways I never would have imagined...
...all have been made sufficiently by the detailed qualitative assessments in each segment.

I haven't done an exact count, but the number of minutes with women speaking or appearing in this film amounts to less than a quarter. Considering that the only 'person of color' in the film also happens to be the only woman with a significant speaking role is just a further indictment of the film.

I stand by my original assessment. RIP Star Trek. I won't be wasting any more money participating in fannish activities that would force me to acknowledge this horribly flawed film.

Two Party Commentary

Our Two Party System is...

A bowl of shit looking in the mirror at itself.

Sums it all up. Catch the video. It's worth it.

Player vs. Player, the Newb Curse?

We were in a Warsong Gulch Battleground tonight. Started off pretty good, we got a capture right out of the box. Looked like a quick victory. Then two different (I think) idiot toons from Jubei'Thos server picked up the flag, two different times. Both of them went afk long enough together for the timer to expire on the battleground. We killed the horde flag carriers at least 10 times, and these (two?) idiots were never around to capture the flag a second time, which would have insured we won the BG. Finally, with about 30 seconds to go, the second one chats "What do I do with the flag?" and drops it. Luckily another ally picked it up, and the timer expired before the horde could return their flag and capture ours. Is it possible that someone could be that ignorant of gameplay at level 80? I find that hard to believe.

Facebook status posted in the Frosty Wyrm Riders guild group. I'm revising it to be a general fandom group (August 7th, 2018) and adding my old Star Trek club members to it, as well as fan friends who know how to play nice with others. All the old posts are leaving us. 

Red dragons over Northrend. Frosty Wyrm Riders Group Cover Photo

Not a Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles

Make no mistake what the goals of the SBOE are.

Christian Land Governed by Christian Principles

Even before the Texas State Board of Education took up its expected debate today over what students will learn about separation about church and state in their social studies classrooms, board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, made her position clear. She offered the board’s opening prayer this morning and removed any doubt about what she and other far-right board members want students to learn: America’s laws and government should be based on the Christian Bible.

Stop what you are doing and watch this video now -- you have to see it to believe it.

Laying out in blunt language the “Christian nation” vision of American history that the board’s powerful bloc of social conservatives espouses, Dunbar threw down the gauntlet:

“I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses.”

“Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia, or the charter of New England…the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles.”

“I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.”

You will recall that Dunbar, in her 2008 book, One Nation Under God, argued that the Founders created “an emphatically Christian government” (page 18 of her book) and that government should be guided by a “biblical litmus test” (page 47). Even more damning, this State Board of Education member wrote that public education is a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion,” tyrannical and unconstitutional.

And today she will help decide what the next generation of Texas students will learn about separation of church and state in their public school classrooms.

You can follow the conclusion to this embarrassing saga on our liveblog at And look for an e-mail later today with the final decision of the board -- and what we can do now to restore sanity and respectability to Texas education.

...and while these members have been handed their hats over this embarrassing situation they've created, they are bound and determined to force this farce into the next generation of Texas textbooks.

If you aren't clear on why the US isn't a Christian nation, Just look at the constitution. Notice the word 'god' is not present in the document.

Check out this entry on the Bad Astronomy blog. Here, I'll save you the time and just post the bus sign here. This pretty much says it all.