To read the tribute to SFC Marcus Muralles, please click here
Saturday, July 30, 2005
A Brief Interruption
Check out the blogroll. Or, better yet, spend some time away from the computer. You know you can.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Messing With the Space-Time Continuum
Daylight-saving time would start three weeks earlier and run through Halloween under a change included in an energy bill approved Thursday by the House.As some Congress Critters pointed out, how much is that really going to save? In the long run? I'm all for saving energy. I'm also about it making sense. I'll be all for it, if you can prove it will work...
The energy legislation was expected to be passed by the Senate, probably Friday, and sent to President Bush.
The time change is supposed to save energy because people have more daylight in the evening and do not have to turn on lights.
What I think is funny is some of the opposition to extending DST.
But that was scaled back after airline officials complained that the extension would cause problems with intentional flight schedules.Uh... I think they meant "international" flights. And yeah, it will cause a problem... for about a week until they redo all the schedules. That's what computers are for.
Then there are the farmers.
Farmers said the change would adversely affect livestock.Uh... since when do cows know how to tell time? I think that it's just a little inconvenient for the farmers, and so they're projecting onto the animals. Silly, really.
Like I said, it's fine with me, as long as it works. How about some research first, ok?
Al Gets It Right... Kinda
Al Sharpton spoke at the National Urban League's annual conference, and he made some startlingly intelligent comments. He got the reasoning wrong, but the initial statement was valid nonetheless.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton blasted blacks Thursday for what he described as their blind support of the Democratic Party without demanding anything in return.Like I said, at first glance, it looks like Al finally figured it out. The DNC has been taking the African-American community for granted since Day 1 (the GOP has been their best friend, but they seem to forget who freed the slaves and who voted for and against Civil Rights legislation back in the 60's), and I'm happy that someone finally started to take notice.
Sharpton, during his remarks at the National Urban League's annual conference in Washington, noted that his fellow Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, have taken African-American voters for granted and failed to act in the best interests of the black community.
Unfortunately, he didn't quite get it right.
"The whole network of incarceration (of African-American men) happened under this president and the last president. So it wasn't just George Bush. Bill Clinton -- I wish Hillary had hung around -- Bill Clinton built a lot of jails and passed the omnibus crime bill," Sharpton said.Uh... Rev. ... the omnibus crime bill is not the problem. I seriously doubt the black men incarcerated (African-American males make up 6% of the US population, but 44% of the prison population) are all innocent and are just being targeted unfairly. (No, I'm not saying it doesn't happen- I just doubt that it's epidemic in society today.) There has to be a reason why that happens. I don't believe that African-Americans are any less civil or any more violent, so... what causes it?
If I had to guess, I'd put the blame partially in the lap of do-gooders who tried to do the "right thing" with welfare. They saw poor people (black and white) who needed help, and what could be more caring than to give people what they need, right? But this started a chain of events that they couldn't predict- a culture of entitlement, where people expect to get their benefits just because they walk in the door. (You think I'm making this overly simplistic? I've sat in WIC offices and seen it happen, and my aunt works in an aid office. It happens far too often.)
But, it's not just that. Men in that culture are, in a way, emasculated. There is no need for them, except as a sperm donor. If you're married, you have less access to welfare, so you don't get married. If the father of your children is contributing to their welfare, then you don't get as much money. Then, those kids are raised (not always, but with terrifying frequency) without a father (or with a father with no clear purpose and little or no moral compass), so the boys don't learn what it really means to be a man (to provide for a family, to make committments) and girls don't have a positive model for the right kind of guy to look for. And the cycle continues.
No, this isn't a "black thing". There are plenty of white people (and other minorities, for that matter) who are in the same boat. It's a poverty thing. Liberals, thinking they were doing something good for the downtrodden, set up this system. And now, you have cultural divides as large as the Grand Canyon, and those who speak out in favor of making a better life for their children are racists or traitors (just ask Bill Cosby).
You're right, Al. The Democratic Party has let African-Americans down. They've taken you for granted. But not by putting your young men in jail. They let you down by thinking that throwing money and not solutions at your problems is enough. And, honestly, the GOP won't be much better. This might sound cruel and unfeeling, but... take care of your own. Convince the young men that they need to take responsibility, not the easy way out. Teach your young women to wait for a good man who is willing to commit. Provide a moral framework that is uplifting and encouraging. Discourage anything that drags people down.
Rev. Sharpton gets this part.
Sharpton concluded his discussion with a call for the black community to help itself and return churches to "the center of our community."And that's not just good advice for the African-American community. Our entire society is falling down that well... that marriage is not important... that Mom and Dad don't do a better job of raising kids than just Mom... We all have a lot to learn.
"Even if we [are] not responsible for being down, we [are] responsible for getting up," he said. "And if we wait on those who knocked us down to lift us up we'll never get up 'cause if they wanted us up we would have never been down," he said.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Dhimmitude... at CBS
Does this disturb anyone else as much as it disturbs me?
Obviously, Dan's little "Memogate" was the least of their problems. Who scares me more? The Islamofacists, or the MSM who cover for them?
Update on the Fatwa
In short, it is a fake fatwa designed merely to deceive the American public into believing that these groups are moderate. In fact, officials of both organizations have been directly linked to and associated with Islamic terrorist groups and Islamic extremist organizations.I should have known better. Oh, well...
Snippits in the News
- First, NASA has once again grounded the Shuttle fleet. Their (valid) concern is due to insulating foam falling off of the ET and hitting the Shuttle and damaging the most important tiles on the leading edge of the Shuttle wing and belly. We now have proof that it has fallen off twice- logical to bet that bits and pieces have been falling off during every launch (at least since they went to the new non-asbestos foam). Now, I'm not an expert (but I played one at Space Camp- twice), but I see a couple of possible solutions. #1- go back to the old ET design (yes, with the asbestos)... #2- use the special paint on the tank that they used for the first 5 STS missions (remember when the tanks were white?)- the paint would offer an additional level of protection, possibly keeping the foam attached to the tank. Just my $.02... (UPDATE: my bad. The old foam had Freon, not asbestos. Still not good if you're an environut.)
- American Muslim scholars have declared a fatwa... and I agree with them.
In the statement, called a fatwa, the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America wrote that people who commit terrorism in the name of Islam were "criminals, not 'martyrs.'"Like I said... I agree with them. Then again, I also know, that they've tried this before, and it didn't stop the radicals from spreading hatred of America in the mosques in this country. Maybe they need to open the doors of the mosques and let us hear what they're preaching on Fridays. We might believe them then.
"There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism," the scholars wrote. "Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram - or forbidden."
- A 73 year-old woman is in trouble with the police because she didn't believe the nice police officer who showed up at her door at 10:30 at night, asking about a neighbor's fence, and shut the door in his face and called 9-1-1 for verification of who he was. Granted, he was in uniform, but still... a little old lady has to be careful. She did the right thing, and the guy was a jerk. (And, anyway... was there any reason why he couldn't have come back during daylight hours to ask her about her neighbor's fence? From what she said, he was being rude.)
- Evidently, the group charged with drafting the Iraqi constitution have a bit of a problem with Israelis. Go figure.
- A woman is under arrest for dumping her 4 year old son on the side of a busy highway and driving off, injuring him in the process. According to her son, she did it because she "was angry" at him. If she ever gets custody of him back, I will be beyond upset.
- All I can say about this story is... "ew."
Fortunately for Ezekiel Rubottom, there’s no law against keeping your severed foot in a bucket on the front porch.Like I said... "ew."
Rubottom, a 21-year-old Lawrence resident, ex-pressed relief Monday after police gave him back his left foot, which he began storing in a five-gallon bucket of formaldehyde on the porch after it was amputated three weeks ago.
- And, finally, in science news, a dinner and a movie might be better strategy for getting the girl than diamonds and other high-priced trinkets.
Using mathematical modelling, Peter Sozou and Robert Seymour at University College London, UK, found that wooing girls with costly, but essentially worthless gifts – such as theatre tickets or expensive dinners out – is a winning courtship strategy for both sexes.Yeah... that sounds about right... except... I agree with the one psychologist who believes that theatre tickets and dinners out are not "worthless" - experiences count for a lot.
Females can assess how serious or committed a male plans to be and males can ensure they are not just seducing 'gold-diggers' – girls who take valuable presents with no intention of accepting subsequent dates.
Shut Up and Rule
Case in point:
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour said the successful prosecution of Ahmed Ressam should serve not only as a warning to terrorists, but as a statement to the Bush administration about its terrorism-fighting tactics.Uh... Judge... Ressam wasn't caught on the battlefield in a far away land... he was arrested as he arrived in the United States, planning a terrorist attack on US soil (prior to 9/11). That's a bit different than the fine, upstanding gentlemen who are vacationing at Club Gitmo (after 9/11).
"We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant or deny the defendant the right to counsel," he said Wednesday. "The message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart."
So... I'm angry enough with this judge for taking a jab at Bush Administration policies concerning enemy combatents. But, wait... there's more.
Facing up to 130 years in prison after being convicted of terrorist conspiracy and explosives charges in 2001, Ressam began cooperating with authorities in hopes of winning a reduced sentence... he received 22 years for plotting to bomb the Los Angeles airport on the eve of the millennium... With credit for time served and three years off for good behavior, Ressam could be out of prison in 14 years.That's a successful prosecution? Not in my book. We thank him for turning into a stool pigeon, but, in a perfect world he'd sit in jail and rot, not get out in 14 years for "good behavior."
Judge Coughenour, you have a job. Your job is to rule on the cases before you based on the merits of the case. Your job is not to provide political commentary from the bench.
Judging the Judge
Senator Teddy Kennedy recently said that Judge Roberts' wife should be off limits in the hearing (bully for him). But, he also said this:
Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts "will be expected to answer fully" any questions about his views on controversial issues that could come before the court in the future.Now, Senator Kennedy has been in the Senate... a while. I'm sure (not) that he remembers the confirmation hearings of Justice Ginsberg, where she refused to answer any questions about how she might vote in the future. Hmmm... and maybe he's forgotten what he said when Justice Marshall was going through his confirmation hearings:
"We have to respect that any nominee to the Supreme Court would have to defer any comments on any matters, which are either before the court or very likely to be before the court," Kennedy said during a 1967 press conference. "This has been a procedure which has been followed in the past and is one which I think is based upon sound legal precedent."So, Senator, which one is it? Should he be expected to answer those questions, or not? Personally, I'd vote "not", but I don't get a say.
Senator Kennedy isn't the only Senator getting bent out of shape and confused by the whole confirmation process.
In an interview broadcast Tuesday on Vermont Public Radio's "Switchboard" program, Leahy said he would vote against the appeals court judge if it seemed as if he would pursue an activist agenda on the court.First off, the President said that he was going to choose a nominee that would not legislate from the bench. That's appears to be the tendency of more liberal judges, anyway. But wait... there's more...
"They've knocked down all these, basically writing the law themselves," Leahy added. "I want to find out if he's going to be as active as this — as people like Justice (Antonin) Scalia and Justice (Clarence) Thomas, who have almost willy-nilly overruled things."You know, Senator, I guess you would think that Justices Thomas and Scalia overruled things willy-nilly. That comes from never actually studying the Constitution. That's their job, Senator- to determine whether law is Constitutional or not, based only on the Constitution. Not on international law, or what feels good, or the way they think it "should be." If that's your definition of "willy-nilly", then I'm fine with that.
Leahy also said any Supreme Court nominee who doesn't agree that Roe v. Wade is established legal precedent would have difficulty getting confirmed.So... Dredd Scott is settled law, right, Senator? Just checking... And, by the way... Attorney General Gonzales isn't so sure about that whole "settled law" thing, anyway...
"Just as you would not have a justice nominee who said, ‘Well I wouldn't consider Brown vs. Board of Education settled law,' I don't see how they could get confirmed," Leahy said. "I don't see how somebody who said that they didn't consider Roe vs. Wade settled law ... I don't see how they get confirmed."
The Senate should be concerned about his judicial philosophy, not his views on any one topic. His judicial philosophy is simple- he's an originalist who has little patience for judicial activism. Any more questions?
The American Electorate
While looking at a house, my brother asked the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained, he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, "Does the sun rise in the North?" When my brother explained that the sun rises in the east, (and has for some time), she shook her head and said, "Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff.". . .She also votes!I'm not sure what scares me more- that these people vote, or that these people can run for office someday. Considering some of the stuff I've heard come out of the mouths of politicians... I think they already have!
I used to work in technical support for a 24x7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked what hours the call center was open. I told him, "The number you dialed is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." He responded, "Is that Eastern or Pacific time?" Wanting to end the call quickly, I said, "Uh, Pacific." . . . . . . He also votes!.
My colleague & I were eating our lunch in our cafeteria, when we overheard 1 of the admin. assistants talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the shore. She drove down in a convertible, but "didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving." . . . . She also votes!
My friend has a lifesaving tool in her car. It's designed to cut through a seatbelt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the trunk. . . . . . . My friend also votes!
My friends & I were on a beer run & noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% & gave us a 20% discount. . . . He also votes!
I was hanging out with a friend when we saw a woman with a nose ring attached to an earring by a chain. My friend said, "Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her head?" I explained that a person's nose and ear remain the same distance apart no matter which way the head is turned.. . . . . My friend also votes!
My girlfriend and I were picking up some sandwiches from the sub place last week and she asked the clerk which of two sandwiches was better. The clerk didn't have an opinion but did say that the first sandwich was more expensive. My girlfriend got a quizzical look on her face and asked, "If that's the case, why are they both listed with the same price on the menu?" To this, the clerk responded, "I don't think we add tax to the turkey.". . . . The clerk also votes!
I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area. So I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. "Now," she asked me, "has your plane arrived yet?". . . . . . She also votes.
Submitted by John P.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Religion in the News
- First, we have this story about Michael's Graham's assertion on his radio show that Islam is a "terror organization at war with America", which CAIR evidently took exception to.
Graham suggested the fault lies with Muslims generally because religious leaders and followers haven't done enough to condemn and root out extreme elements. "The problem is not extremism," Graham said, according to both CAIR and the station. "The problem is Islam." He also said, "We are at war with a terrorist organization named Islam." CAIR denounced the comments yesterday as "hate-filled" and "Islamophobic" and asked its members to contact the station's advertisers to express their dismay.Let's get a couple of things straight with the fine folks from CAIR. Yes, we are hate-filled when it comes to people killing our friends and family. We're kind of funny that way. And, speaking personally, I'm quite phobic where philosophies that preach the destruction of my way of life are concerned. So... until CAIR and Muslims in general prove him wrong, I'll have to side with Mr. Graham.
- The Church of England is a little... daft.
The Church of England is to allow gay clergy to enter into civil partnerships but only if they promise to abstain from sex, according to guidance issued yesterday. (emphasis mine- B)Uh... um... sorry... ain't gonna happen. Maybe they should look at the Roman Catholic Church and what happens when you make sex a big no-no (and I'm not just talking about the scandals... I'm talking about the stories through the centuries about priests- popes, even- having mistresses and children). Just a thought. They need to make a decision- either homosexuality in toto is acceptable or not to their faith. (Do I even have to tell you where I fall on this one?)
- Computer game developers are getting religion. Goodbye Resident Evil, hello Armagedon?
That emerging market segment will be in focus at the fourth annual Christian Game Developers Conference (July 28-30, Portland, Ore.), which hands out awards for the best Christian games of the year and looks to "equip game developers to glorify God." ...Sector insiders suggest that like the Christian music market, the religious gaming market has strong potential.I wish them luck. If they make quality products, I'll be buying them for my kids. I'm just afraid of what I call the "cheese factor". Many times, in an effort to be wholesome and good, Christians get so sappy and cheesy that they're hard to take seriously. (Yes, I know we're not supposed to be of this world, but... can you show me where it says we're supposed to be sticky sweet?)
- From the "Choose another Denomination, Ladies" Department, we have this:
Nine Roman Catholic women were unofficially ordained Monday as priests and deacons, undeterred by the threat of excommunication from their church...The ordinations are not valid within the Catholic Church and seven women who tried it in 2002 were excommunicated by the Vatican.There are how many denominations within Christianity? And how many of them allow women into ministry? Why do these women feel the need to break the rules of the Church they claim to love? Considering the fact that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger signed the statement of excommunication, do you really think he'll be more lenient now that he's changed his name and gets to wear the funny hat? If you want to be a priest, Ladies, I'd suggest you check out the Anglicans.
- And, finally, from the "Get Over Yourself" File, we have this group of whiners:
Nicole Ward grew tired of having to pray during the hot activity-filled days of her summer camp experience; especially since she comes from a family that doesn't believe in God. "I really didn't enjoy having to say a million prayers a day at other camps," said Ward. Thanks to Camp Quest, she no longer has to. Camp Quest is a secular camp operated in Butler County, Ohio, by a group incorporated in Kentucky. It is for kids who come from families who are atheist or agnostic. For these kids, Camp Quest provides a refuge from a society where God feels omnipresent.A million prayers a day? A society where God feels omnipresent? Sign me up. But seriously... they can't really mean to say that there weren't any non-religious summer camps for them to choose from. Sports camps... science camps... other academic camps... there are plenty of places in this country to get far away from God. But... capitalism rules... I guess there was a market for atheist kids to learn the dictates of their religion (don't even tell me atheism isn't a religion- it takes more faith to believe that God doesn't exist than to believe that He does.) Here's an idea... a Christian church camp should take this camp on as a prayer request. Their campers could pray daily for the kids at Camp Quest. I mean... if Camp Quest is right, then there's no harm, right? But... if they're wrong... think of the impact those prayers could have (God willing).
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Return to Flight
T-3:00 repositioning the Main engines (to make sure you can)
T-2:00 the Beanie Cap is moved out of the way
t-1:00 sound suspression armed (all that smoke you see isn't smoke, it's steam from the noise system)
T- :31 shuttle computers have control
Liftoff of Discovery. The vehicle has cleared the tower.
Good luck and God speed. Have a great flight.
Monday, July 25, 2005
There ceremony was, like I said, short and sweet. And surprising. It was at the county annex, officiated by a JP. Therefore, I had some (I'm happy to say "false") preconceptions, the most important one being that God wouldn't be brought up.
We arrived at the annex, and the happy couple signed in. We were led into the court room, and then the JP came in. She introduced herself, and everyone made their introductions. I guess when it was mentioned that we're all part of the same Bible study group, that was her green light to bring the Bible into the ceremony.
It was amazing. That woman could be a preacher if she wanted to be. She read a passage from the Bible (1 Cor. 13... go figure), led the couple in exchanging vows, and led us in a prayer. It was wonderful. I expected a very vanilla ceremony with not a lot of emotion on the part of the JP, but she got into it. She said that she loves being able to perform Christian weddings, and you really could tell.
Now, before any of you start in on the whole "separation of Church and State" argument (please don't- you'll lose), remember that this is Texas. To paraphrase Brad Stine, "People in Texas don't care." It's not about what's PC... it's about what's right. Bringing God into a wedding, and into the marriage, is always right.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Light Posting... Again
So... go check out the blogroll or something...
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Here They Go Again
One witness at Warren Street said that a "suspicious" person got onto the Tube, there seemed to be an explosion in his ruck sack, the person exclaimed, and there was smoke.
There is some mention of a nail bomb, but I'd like to mention that, if it was a nail bomb, it didn't go off, 'cause I don't think the guy would be able to exclaim.
One more thing, people are saying they heard shots fired on the platform at Warren Street and they saw someone running from the scene. (Scotland Yard is saying that it was detonators and not gun fire.) Earlier this week, it was reported that police in London were given "shoot to kill" orders if they came upon a terrorist that they feared would detonate another bomb.
Interesting... this is early... I hope they can grab someone this time. And I hope they get a lot of information from him.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Everyone's Wild About Harry
That being said, I'm going to share a few observations about Harry (and yes, you're not going to agree with me... I've talked to several people about some of this, and... well... me thinks I'm almost a lone wolf on some of this... )
- As for as the religious arguments that pop up every time a new HP book comes out, I'm not sure that I would go as far as Pope Benedict XVI did (back when he was still a cardinal).
"It is good that you enlighten people about Harry Potter because these are subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly," Benedict XVI wrote.If read on its own, the Pope may have a point. If a child (or anyone) reads those books without guidance or discussion, it can provide a positive spin on what the Bible says is wrong. (If you want to look it up, start with Deuteronomy 18 and go on from there.) That being said... used as a teaching tool, the Harry Potter series can be a great help. A parent, reading the books with their child, can use it as an opportunity to talk about good versus evil, doing the right thing (even if it is dangerous), their personal religious beliefs, fact versus fiction, reality versus fantasy.
- On the day the book was released, I was listening to the top-of-the-hour news on the radio. They interviewed a girl (she sounded like a teenager, but I have NO idea) who said that "Harry Potter is the greatest epic ever." Huh? She's joking, right? What about The Illiad and The Odysssey? Beowulf? Lord of the Rings? The Chronicles of Narnia? The Belgariad and The Mallorian? (OK, that one's obscure.) This does not give me much confidence in the public school system. Granted, I was reminded that this is one girl's (wrong) opinion, and she is entitled to her (wrong) opinion. While true, I can't help but cringe at the thought. Greatest? Nah...
- One final tidbit. There's an audio clip floating around that is pretty childish. ( DO NOT click on the link unless you want to hear a major spoiler from the new book!) This clip is of some jerk walking down the line at a bookstore (while all the faithful are waiting to get the book) yelling the big spoiler. (oh, yeah... mild language warning on the clip, too.) This is just plain wrong. Why would someone stoop so low as to yell out the surprise ending like that?
Sorry 'Bout That...
Took T1 for a follow-up with his eye doctor. He has a sore right smack dab in the middle of his cornea. More eye drops, less swimming for a while. If all goes well, he'll get to change to a different eye drop on Thursday when he goes back. Yips. Really.
Tonight is small group, and... well, we're going on the road. We're going to the Funnel Cake Carnival. Hope they don't mind us having a Bible study there. Oh, well...
Tomorrow... not much of a chance of posting, most likely. The boys and I are headed to Tinyville to visit the clan TwoDragon. You never know, though... I might be inspired.
So... check out the blogroll in the meantime.
Our hostesses this week are:
Sunday, July 17, 2005
Haloscan, We Have a Problem...
UPDATE: I guess they fixed it.
The Blog Sabbath
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Uh... Um... I'll Be Right Back
In the meantime, check out my guest post on Andy's site. I'll be back later.
UPDATE: T1 has a corneal abrasion... probably because he forgets to take out his contacts at bedtime. Maybe he'll remember now...
Friday, July 15, 2005
Keeping Promises... NOT
The intelligence overhaul bill that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in December called for 2,000 new agents and 8,000 new detention beds every year for the next five years in order to meet a threat posed by illegal aliens.The reason why both of those amendments was pretty sound- they wanted to pull funding from first responders. Oh, yeah... that makes sense. But... I bet... if the Senators looked, they could have found the money somewhere.
Yesterday's votes were on amendments to the Department of Homeland Security spending bill, which funds only 1,000 more agents and 2,240 more detention beds in fiscal 2006.
Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, had called for another 1,000 agents, and Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, called for 5,760 more beds in order to meet the goals set by last year's bill, with both increases being paid for by reducing grants to state and local governments.
Instead of enforcing cuts of almost 1 percent on domestic programs whose budgets Congress passes each year - as these lawmakers promised when voting for the budget in April - the Senate Appropriations Committee has actually increased their budgets by about 2 percent.Ummm... isn't the majority party (the Republicans) supposed to be party of smaller government and lower budgets? Aren't they supposed to be putting an end to pork barrel spending and waste? Oh, well... nice to know our elected officials are mavericks who won't "go along to get along."
What is more important, Senators? Your pet projects or national security? Don't bother answering... your votes tell the tale.
Do us a favor... do what you were elected to do or get out of the way and let someone else (someone who CARES about the future of our nation and the safety of our citizens) do it.
Protecting Our Children...
Several parents saw a registered sex offender videotaping children at a Raleigh pool last month, but police told NBC-17 that the man wasn't doing anything wrong.There's no law against having a video camera in a public park. If that was the case, parents videotaping their children's antics on the playground would be arrested left and right. So... technically, William Spurgeon Johnson III, convicted in 2003 of sexual exploitation of a minor, wasn't breaking the law.
Carrie Seck said she spotted a suspicious man at the Ridge Road Pool a few weeks ago.
"I saw him secretly taping -- he had a camera hidden -- kids in the pool," Seck told NBC-17, adding that another parent confronted him about it.
"He just said something to the effect of how he liked to tape children in their natural environment, specifically little boys," she said.
That being said... we can probably guess why he was videotaping little boys, and it's not because he is a budding artist. Best case scenario, he's using the video tapes of innocent activities to satify his... urges without hurting anyone. Worst case? I'm not even going to think about it.
This is just another reminder to parents to watch out for your children. Teach them well. Warn them of the dangers. Scare them, if necessary. Protect them.
No Sense of Humor...
So... you faithful listen to the morning show, and you track the progress of the 2 H2s. You hire a babysitter so you can be at the radio station bright and early, hoping to win. And the DJs show up... and hand you a remote-controlled Hummer. Look at the calendar... what's the day's date?
April 1sr, of course.
A listener is suing a radio station she said promised her a new Hummer H2 and instead gave her a remote-controlled model as an April Fools' Day prank.She's joking, right? Radio stations (morning shows, in particular) are always humiliating people on the air- especially on April Fools Day. It's their jobs, for goodness sake.
..."They put us on the radio all week long, just portraying how they couldn't believe that we believed they were actually giving away real cars," said Castillo, a Bakersfield housewife. "I just couldn't believe that they would actually humiliate someone like that."
Castillo's lawyer, Scott Perlman, said the station's misrepresentation of the prizes being offered violated state law and Federal Communications Commission regulations. The lawsuit, filed June 21, seeks $60,000, about the cost of a real H2.OK... if they were running a real contest, then the lawyer would have had a point. But they weren't running a contest- it was a joke. Nothing more. Nothing less than a practical joke.
"Any time you conduct a contest you have to be brutally honest about how you're conducting the contest and what you're giving away," Perlman said.
It seems as if we've lost our sense of humor. There is such an atmosphere of entitlement that people can't just take things in stride anymore. We're too serious... too touchy... too quick to claim victim status... too quick to sue to get "our fair share."
Maybe we should outlaw practical jokes. Or April Fools Day, at least. It's only fair, right?
Today in History
The Apollo-Soyuz (ASTP) mission proved that U.S. and Soviet spacecraft were compatible, despite different measuring systems and air pressure standards. It also more symbolically proved U.S.-Soviet cooperation was possible despite diplomatic tensions.I was only 5 when this happened, so I don't really remember it. But I do remember reading about it when I did get interested in space flight (when I was 7 or 8). I was interested in current events enough that I knew that we didn't get along with the Russians. The whole idea seemed crazy- us? working with them? Nah...
"It was the very heights of the Cold War, with thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at each country," said retired Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, who manned the Apollo with Vance Brand and the late Donald Slayton. "Yet both superpowers had great accomplishments in space, so we decided to work together."
"We were able to succeed because we never got into politics," said Valeriy Kubasov, Soyuz' other cosmonaut of the 1975 flight.
When the historical handshake occured, there was hope of future joint missions (and some even hoped for peace between our countries). The next joint mission did not occur for almost 19 years, however, when Sergei K. Krikalev was a mission specialist on Discovery. One year later, on the twentieth anniversary of the ASTP, Atlantis docked with Mir for the first of several joint US/Russian missions to the Russian space station, paving the way for cooperation on the International Space Station.
Today, we're partners with Russia (along with Japan, Canada, and the European Space Agency) on the ISS. Looks like we've come a long way since a wary handshake thirty years ago.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
From what I can tell, the players got the raw end of the deal, and the owners got all the breaks. Whether or not the fans will care enough to come back remains to be seen.
One of the bad things about living in Austin is that we don't have any major league sports teams. We have hockey, baseball, and Arena football, but no big leagues. The good news is that we have sports teams that actually play for the love of the game (and a shot at the big leagues). Minor league games are great (stupid contests during breaks not withstanding). There is a passion for the sport that is sometimes missing when the players (and owners) start getting paid the big bucks.
The NHL has a rough road ahead of them. They need to prove to their fans that they care about the sport and about their fans. They left them out in the cold for over a year (pun intended). They shouldn't be surprised if they get an icy reception.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Some Kids Never Learn
Kids... they never learn...
Drinking Makes You Stupid
A drunk Ukrainian who boasted to friends of his amazing strength was left fighting for his life when he picked a fight with a 42 stone grizzly bear.For those of you not familiar with the term "stone"- one stone is equal to fourteen pounds. So... to translate... this yay-hoo climbed into a cage with a 600 pound bear (approx. weight). Rocket science, I tell you!
The 22 year-old man, not named, had been drinking with friends in the town of Cherkask when he decided to show them how strong he was by wrestling with the biggest animal he could find.
They went to the local zoo where he climbed over the railings into the bear cage and started to hit one of them on the leg.
The bear pushed the man away with a swipe of his paw but when the man hit him again the bear pinned him to the ground and began mauling him.
What's amazing is that the guy is alive. What's even more amazing is that, once he's out of the hospital, he'll probably do this again.
There's a lesson in this for everyone. Friends don't let friends do stupid stuff like this when they're drunk out of their gourd. Or, at least, they SHOULDN'T.
A Quick Movie Review
All in all, it wasn't a bad movie. Not a great movie, but definitely not a bad movie. A bit of a weak script, but the actors did really well with what they had. Special effects were great (duh... if a movie doesn't have good effects, someone should be fired immediately). I'm not sure I'd want to see it again in the theaters, but if the boys get the dvd at some point, I wouldn't leave the room, either.
Speaking of the boys... T1 asked if they were going to make Fantastic 4-2 (only he said "Fantastic Forty-Two"... I thought it was funny.)
Go see it (at a matinee). Not bad for older kids (the bad guy really has some sociopathic tendencies that might freak out little kids). It's worth the cost of the popcorn.
10 Creatures You Didn't Know Were Poisonous
1. Hooded Pitohui: The hooded pitohui* of New Guinea is the only documented example of a poisonous bird (yes, a bird). In 1992 researchers discovered that the feathers and skin of the hooded pitohui contain a powerful neurotoxin called homobatrachotoxin, which causes numbness and tingling skin in people who touched the birds. (This one is not completely accurate. Two cousins of the Hooded Pitohui, the and the , are also poisonous. Couldn't find a photo of any of them, though.)
2. Stonefish: The stonefish (which looks like--guess what?--a stone) is one of the most venomous vertebrates known. Its sharp dorsal spines contain enough poison to kill an adult human who is unfortunate enough to step on one.
3. Platypus: Will the oddness of this creature ever stop? Adult male platypuses have a poison gland in their hind legs. They can eject poison out of a hollow, horny spur on their ankle. (Ah, yes... the platypus... proof positive that God has an awesome sense of humor. "Evolution, eh? Hey, Darwin! Figure this one out!")
4. Browntail Moth: The browntail moth caterpillar is covered with white and brown hairs. The brown hairs are the ones you have to look out for: They are barbed and contain a poisonous substance, and are frequently carried by the wind after the caterpillars molt. These hairs can cause human respiratory problems and an irritating skin rash.
5. Centipede: One of a centipede's many pairs of legs have especially strong joints and end in a sharp claw into which a poison gland opens. These legs are used for seizing and killing prey. In some species, the bite is poisonous to humans.
6. Stingrays: Believe it or not, stingrays are the most common cause of severe fish stings. They have whip-like tails that have sharp, sometimes barbed spines at the base. Through the spines, they can inflict severe wounds, injecting venom from poison glands. Stingrays are bottom-dwellers usually found in warm, shallow waters, so watch where you walk in the water. (Uh... if they're poisonous, why in the world do people want to swim with them?)
7. Salamander: Some salamanders have poison-secreting glands in their skin. The ones equipped with poison-producing skin glands are often brightly colored with conspicuous markings. This warns predators to stay away. (So is THAT why they want us to leave the Barton Creek salamander alone? That's all they needed to tell us.)
8. Shrew: Some species of the small, shy shrew have poisonous saliva that they use to immobilize their prey. Humans don't have to worry too much, however. These venomous shrews usually eat fish, frogs, small mice, and newts--not people.
9. Catfish: The dorsal and pectoral fins of many species of catfish are edged with poisonous spines. The spines are used for defense and can inflict severe wounds. This fish is no pussycat. (Thus explaining why the only time I'm around catfish is when it's battered and fried.)
10. Poison Arrow Frog: OK, the name kind of gives it away, but the poison arrow frog is only one of several amphibious species that secrete toxins from glands in its skin. The poison arrow frog uses its poison to kill potential predators. Native people of Central and South America use the toxin to poison the tips of arrows.
There you go. Your biology lesson for today. Glad I could help.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Children ≠ Luggage
Here's a hint- you DON'T put your kids in the frickin' trunk!
A mother has been charged with felony child abuse and child cruelty after she allegedly forced two of her children to take turns riding in the trunk of a car on an eight-hour drive from Alabama to Virginia.Well, let's see... one of the five children was a family friend- that one could have stayed HOME. The oldest of the remaining children could have been seat-belted in the front seat. (Yeah, I know- the oldest is 10- illegal to have in the front seat. Well, so is sticking your kid in the TRUNK!) Then there would have been plenty of room for the other three in the back.
Cheryl Ann Schoonmaker, 38, forced the two girls, ages 8 and 10, to take turns in the trunk July 1 because there wasn't enough room in the car, according to Curtis Schoonmaker, her ex-husband.
The woman was driving five children, including an infant, to her ex-husband's home outside Washington, D.C. None of the children was injured during the trip. The girls told their father what happened the next day and he called police.
Yeah, I'm a little upset about this. A friend of mine has joked that you should be required to have a license before you have children. I'm very much against that. But there are some days...
I ran my kids' lives through my head, and I'm pretty darn convinced that I've never done anything remotely close to this. I'm not a perfect parent- far from it. But... I would never endanger my children's lives (or anyone else's kids, for that matter) like this DNA donor did. I mean, I remember when the boys were babies- I was panicky because we had the boys facing forward from Day One (because the car seats wouldn't fit into the car the other way). I felt terribly guilty when I blew off T2's headaches as just allergies when they were really migraines (because I didn't think that little boys could get them). The idea of putting them intentionally in harm's way is just beyond me.
This woman... well, first of all, she should have her parental rights terminated if she is convicted (because, granted, we only have the kids' side of the story so far.) And not just for the 3 she had with the ex-husband. The baby should be taken away, too. And, then... she should have to do community service in the morgue... seeing the damage that car wrecks can do to little bodies.
Children are a gift... a blessing. Not a piece of luggage.
Let's Look at the News
- A team is going to try to make it around the world... by glider.
Vladislav Zejda, 71, head of the Sport Aviation Association in the Czech town of Brno, is planning the record attempt.Call me a chicken, but if I'm flying across the ocean, I want something powering said flight besides a strong breeze.
He said: "Until now the only round the world flight in a craft without any form of engine power has been in a balloon, never in a glider."
A team from the association is currently finishing construction of a new glider to be used for the flight. The association said its plans are top secret and has refused to release further information about the craft.
- The Space Shuttle Discovery returns to space tomorrow (if the weather cooperates). Yeah... I'll be watching it. Duh...
- Members of the Wounded Warrior Project are making their way across the country.
Missing two legs he lost in the Iraq war, Heath Calhoun is nearing the end of a 4,200-mile cross-county journey by hand-propelled bicycle. His goal: to remind Americans the war is not over and that wounded soldiers are returning home with their lives changed forever.Maybe some of those who are against the war could support WWP... without politicizing it... or is that asking too much? (Yeah, I know there are a lot of anti-war folks who do support projects like this, and I think that is awesome. I also know that some- not most, just a few- of them use the wounded soldiers as tools in their anti-war campaign.)
"More than anything, we just want people to know that their troops are coming back and they need your support, whether you support the war or not," Calhoun said as he and a band of fellow Iraq veterans arrived in Annapolis Monday.
- The head of an Islamic Center in London says that it's ok to kill civilians.
Al-Siba'i, in an interview with the Arab news channel al-Jazeera, elaborated, "There is no such term as 'civilians' in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not."How nice. And we're trying to play by the rules with these people? If they don't like the West, if they're against everything we stand for... WHY IN THE WORLD are they in our countries? There has to be a place where they'd feel more comfortable, more at home.
Dar Al-Harb refers to the Muslim concept of the world being divided into two "houses," the House of Islam and the remaining territories, the House of War, or Dar Al-Harb.
- AP had to retract yet another story because... well... it was WRONG.
The AP quickly released a statement retracting its false reporting: "The Associated Press erroneously reported that he spoke of easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Blair did not specifically mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his interview with the British Broadcasting Corp."And they wonder why we don't trust them? Because they can't write the truth.
The original AP article briefly ignited a political firestorm.
- Carnegie Mellon University researchers/inventors/computer- geeks- with- WAY- too- much- time- on- their- hands have built a robotic Hummer for a competition.
The Sandstorm vehicle uses sensors to see and computers to drive. During the test, it covered 131 laps on a 1.5-mile racecourse at the BeaveRun MotorSports Complex 4near Pittsburgh. It averaged 28 mph and hit a top speed of 36 mph.Hmmm... this is for a DoD competition. Think of how awesome it could be if they could send in a robot first to get rid of IEDs. This is cool...
- In other science news, scientists warn about accidently making "super monkeys." Yeah... you read correctly... super monkeys.
Scientists warn that new experiments could create monkeys with brains more human than animal.Why do I get the feeling that Darth Monkeybone has been working on this for years now???
It says the outcome of such studies cannot be predicted and could produce subjects with 'super-animal' intelligence.
- And now for something serious... and disturbing.
One out of every three children is having sex at the age of 10, and 17 out of 100 will deliberately spread the virus if they know they are HIV-positive.Granted, this is in South Africa (I would have been completely shocked if it was in the States). I just can't believe that children are throwing their childhoods away like this. I asked someone if I was naive... yeah, I guess I am. And I like my little world where kids are kids and you know exactly who the bad guys are because they look like villians.
Well... that's it for now.
Taking a Turn Around the Dance Floor
Monday, July 11, 2005
And They Wonder Why Therapy is Suspect?
A German man has been arrested after a marriage guidance counsellor advised him to run around naked shouting at trees. Dieter Braun, 43, from Recklinghausen said the stress release technique had worked perfectly until he was arrested. He told police that venting his anger on the trees had stopped him shouting at his wife.Causing a public nuisance? How about Dieter pay for therapy for all the people exposed to his "relaxation therapy"? And... if his wife hasn't left him already, she might need some help, too.
"If I didn't go to the woods and scream at the trees then my marriage would probably be over," he said. He added taking his clothes off at the same time made him feel more relaxed.
"For me it's a type of relaxation therapy. Feeling the breeze on my naked skin really calms me down."
But local police said other visitors to the forest did not find his behaviour relaxing and have now charged him with causing a public nuisance.
Therapy can help people. I have nothing against genuine counseling to get to the root cause of a patient's problems. It's just stuff like "yell at trees" that gives genuine counselors a bad name. (And, before you start harping on me... sometimes yelling at inanimate objects can release stress. Then again, so does hitting a punching bag- and... um... you don't have to do that nekkid.)
Saturday, July 09, 2005
I Could Have Told You That
Identical twins are not all that identical.
First, I guess I need to provide my credentials to prove I'm an expert, right? Well, here:
T1 (in blue) and T2 when they were about 3
The boys at age 8 or 9 (T1 on left)
They look identical to me! Granted, I've never had their DNA tested- I don't think I really need to. Given their looks, and some specific mirror qualities, I'm pretty confident that they're identical. (More on that later...)
Now, on to our "news".
Identical twins are not quite as identical as once thought, according to a new study of DNA.I actually know of one set of identical twins (DNA test to prove it) where the twins had different color hair and eyes. That mutation occured before they were born. As for my own person research subjects... T2 used to get migraines (I cannot say enough wonderful things about the fine folks at Austin Childrens' Hospital- they fixed him!) and T1 never got them. T1 has a weird allergy that affects his eye, but T2 has standard issue respiratory allergies. And personality? They are very different.
Life, it seems, changes everyone in unique ways.
One twin might get cancer while the the other is not susceptible, for example. Many identical twins clearly behave differently as they grow older, and some even grow to look less alike.
Such differences have to do not with the twins' identical DNA, which is the software of life, but in how genes express themselves, the research found. The differences stem from chemical modifications in the genes over the years.
These epigenetic effects, as they are called, are the result of chemical exposure, dietary habits and other environmental factors, the scientists believe.
A lot of the studies done on identical twins concentrate on twins that grew up separated from each other at birth (or shortly after.)
In 2001, scientists documented that identical twins with different diets had corresponding differences in blood cholesterol measures. A study in 2002 found that identical twins tend to differ greatly in their levels of emotional distress, depending on how close each was to their mother or whether they attended church, among other social factors.But, I can see a lot of the same differences between T1 and T2, and, well... they're always together. Same food, same caregivers, etc. Because of T2's migraines, he didn't eat as much as T1 for a few months (any of you with migraines understand completely), and he's never really caught up. He's about an inch shorter than T1, and about 15 pounds lighter. T1 has a much more cautious personality (I'm resisting the urge to say "more responsible"- Iguess it's a first born thing, even if it was just over a minute's difference). T2 is far more "jump off the cliff then check for a parachute". (That goes back to when they were babies- T1 just sat there and watched T2 fall all over the place, trying to walk. Once T2 had figured it out, T1 just got up and walked. From what I could tell, he was learning from his brother's mistakes.) T1 is pretty reserved, pretty quiet, and T2 is... not. They even sound different on the phone.
But then there are the very identical (well mirror) things about them. Their hair parts on opposite sides. They lost their baby teeth in the same order, but on opposite sides (it makes sense if you think about it). They each had an "extra tooth" over their front teeth that had to be removed (on opposite sides, but it's still very rare- kind of freaked out their dentist).
There was one thing in the article that caught me off guard, although, after I thought about it, it makes perfect sense.
The youngest set of twins had the most identical genomes. Genetically, the oldest twins were the least alike.Like I said, it makes sense. The boys were very close to identical when they were babies (I kept T2's ankle bracelet from the hospital on for as long as possible, just to tell them apart). But, as they've gotten older, little differences become more obvious. (Right now, their size difference makes it pretty easy to tell them apart.) So, I can see how their genomes will alter even more over time.
But, this makes me wonder. How much do the average singleton's genomes change throughout one's life? How many mutations do our bodies experience in the course of our days? Which ones are pre-programed, and which ones are caused by circumstance? What can we learn from this?
I understand the "need" for research like this- it helps scientists determine nature/nurture (in a lot of cases) and it helps look at genetic predispositions for some diseases. All I'm saying is that parents of identical twins could have told you most of that for the price of a phone call.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Honoring Last Requests
A while bad, some of us were sitting around, and the subject of funerals came up. Kind of bizarre conversation, really. In the end, we agreed (I guess) that viewings are just plain weird (but probably necessary) and that there had to be a better way of celebrating the deceased's life. Throw a party. Play some games. Yes, there needs to be a time for grieving, but there needs to be a time to rejoice for the person they were and the better life they've gone on to.
So... fast forward to today and this article about one person's unique last request.
In silk black-and-gold pajamas, velvety black robe and slippers, James Henry Smith is at rest.His feet are crossed, his pack of cigarettes and a beer by his side. Steelers highlights are playing on a high-definition TV screen nearby. With the TV remote in his hand, leaning back in his recliner, a Steelers blanket across his legs, it's like a game-day Sunday.
Except that it's not.
It was last night at Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home in Lincoln-Lemington, and family and friends were filing in to pay their final respects to Smith, whom they called one of the biggest Steelers fans in the universe.
Smith, 55, of Garfield, had been ill for two years with prostate cancer. He died last Thursday at the VA Medical Center in Oakland.
A week before, his wife, Denise Finn Smith, had called Coston's to ask if something special could be done to celebrate her husband's life. He wanted to be at home, in the living room, surrounded by photos of family and watching football.
Like I said, this is kind of cool. I think it's great that the funeral home was able to honor this man's wishes. It honored his life and his loves (his family and football). It gave the mourners a reason to smile.
I'm sure that some people would think this was frivolous and making light of a serious subject. And I'm sure that not all people would want that, or that all families would be able to handle it. Even I think the recliner was a little over the top.But that's ok. It wasn't my funeral or the funeral of anyone in my family. And the funeral director did day it was an unusual request.
Where am I going with all of this? Love people while they're with you. Honor them when they're gone. Tears will fall, but smile through them, and celebrate their lives.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
London Terror Attacks
One thing that struck me was the calm of the Londoners caught up in this. They rushed out of the Tube stations, but they were calm and in control. Obviously the monsters who organized these attacks weren't watching the news before they issued this statement:
"Our mujahideen have carried out a blessed invasion in London and here is Britain now burning with fear and terror... We have repeatedly warned Britain and have kept our promise."No... they are not burning with fear and terror. They're level-headed and unflappable. You might have succeeded in killing innocents (your typical M.O.), but that's all you've accomplished. They're not afraid of you. They survived German bombing during WWII and years of terrorist attacks by the IRA. The only new thing you bring to the table is your personal brand of evil. They'll get through this. It's what they do.
After 9/11, the English stood by us. For just a moment, they were American, too. Bull Moose suggests that, in a show of solidarity with our allies, the ones who have stood by us, we are all Brits now.
This is a time that should force our own leaders to acquire perspective. Whatever partisan differences we have between us, our nation continues to face a terrorist threat. ...The fight against terrorism is this generation's "1776". Paradoxically, though, perhaps a public display of the Union Jack in America is in order.This isn't a progressive thing or a conservative thing. Standing by our friends when they need us is simply the right thing to do.
If I had a Union Jack, I'd fly it. Maybe I'll try to find one. Where would I get one in Austin?
Tell Me Something I Didn't Know
If you'll excuse me, I need to go alphabetize something.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
A New Take on Spiritual Warfare
According to some beliefs, spiritual warfare is the interaction of persons with the angelic and demonic realms in positive or negative ways (e.g. exorcism). Spiritual warfare is a prominent feature in some pentecostal and charismatic churches. Spiritual conflict (less than "war") exists thoughout Christianity (e.g.prayer).
The concept of spiritual warfare is based on the understanding that Satan and demons are real beings whose primary mission is to thwart God's purposes on earth, specifically to prevent non-believers from placing faith in Christ and to prevent Christians from being effective disciples of Jesus . The Scriptural basis of spritual warfare is found in Christ's commissioning of the disciples to cast out demons in the gospels and the Apostle Paul's exhortation to don the armor of God in the Epistle to the Ephesians. St. Paul tells us there that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the principalities and powers (fallen angels).
What does this have to do with anything? Well, there's a church in Rocester, NY, that's taking spiritual warfare to a whole new level.
You have probably never seen an army missile used in a church service or a pastor dressed in fatigues, but that is exactly what you'll find Sundays at New Born Fellowship Christian Center in Rochester, where church leaders have decided to conduct a new program called Spiritual Warfare.
...Pastor Meeks said, "We take our liberty for granted. A price was paid. So we want to assist them spiritually in prayer."...The program focuses on prayer for American soldiers and for city teenagers who are fighting temptions of drugs and gangs.
OK... so it might sound a little cheesy. But... if it's energizing his congregation and encouraging them to pray for those who need it, I say more power to him.
Sometimes we need a reminder to help us focus on God and prayer. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge, and sometimes we need a missile in church. Whatever works, I guess.
Old Fuddy Duddies
Whitestown and New York Mills police have received complaints of loud music played by the Albany-based ice cream vendor Mr. Ding-a-Ling, which has routes in and around Utica.
As a result, a manager for the company said the ice cream truck won't drive through New York Mills until a compromise is reached.
....On May 20 in Whitestown, the driver was charged with using a noise device to sell ice cream and selling after permitted hours.
....New York Mills Police Chief Bradley Frankland said the village has a law that prevents peddlers and solicitors from using noise to sell their goods.
"This has been going on for three years," Frankland said. "It's not a thing against Mr. Ding-a-Ling or private enterprise. It's that these are the rules."
New York Mills noise laws prohibit "noise from any sound reproduction system ... that reproduces or amplifies sound in a manner as to be heard 60 feet from its sources or over any property line," according to the village code book.
The law is similar in Whitestown: A peddler such as Mr. Ding-a-Ling cannot "blow a horn, ring a bell or use any other noisy device to attract public attention to his or her wares," the town code book says.
....In Whitestown, a number of residents complained about too much noise and the hours of operation, Police Chief Donald Wolanin said.
"Some were concerned the ice cream man might come at 9 p.m. and it might be getting too late for a 10-year-kid to be going over to an ice cream truck," Wolanin said.
Come on, people! Ice cream guys (or the "Bomb Pop Man" as my grandpa used to call him) don't drive around after dark. They understand that the parents make or break them. They're the ones who give their kids the money to spend on the yummies in the truck. They're not going to do anything to blow it.
Getting goodies from the Bomb Pop Man is part of growing up. Way to go, folks. Ruin it for your kids. Yeah, the songs are annoying (but think of the poor guy who gets to hear it 10-12 hours a day every day). But... they're just trying to make a living, the same way they have for decades.
mmm... bomb pops... dang... now I'm hungry.
An Honest Scientist
Scientists are going to try to recreate the Neanderthal genome. (Why they couldn't just go to a sports bar is beyond me, but I digress... ) Why would they do that?
In an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit, Rubin said the research would amount to more than just a spectacular display of science.Like I said... an honest scientist. I mean, you don't really think they tossed a washing machine into space into the path of a comet for purely scientific purposes, do you?
"Firstly, we will learn a lot about the Neanderthals. Secondly, we will learn a lot about the uniqueness of human beings. And thirdly, it's simply cool," Rubin said. (emphasis mine)
Why Beauty Pageants?
Hmm... why are there so many pageants? Girls are entered into Miss Cupcake pageants at the age or 3 or 4, and they just go from one to the next. They have everything from Miss Watermelon at some county festival to Miss X County to the states, Miss USA, Miss America, Mrs. America, every country (well, every country without burka rules), Miss World AND Miss Universe. And we can't forget Miss Earth. What's the deal?
Beauty pageants might be able to trace their roots back to May Day festivals in Europe. P.T. Barnum tried to have one in the 1850s, but it was shut down due to public outcry. "Bathing beauty pageants" began in 1880 to promote business in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Over the years, the pageants developed into what we know today, but they didn't gain respectability until World War II.
But... why are there so many today? I, honestly, cannot think of any reasons. They have no moral, social, or economic value. It could easily be argued that they actually have a negative impact socially and morally. They teach young, impressionable girls (and their stage-parents) that their only value is how they look, not who they are. They teach young, impressionable guys that ogling women and judging them on their looks is perfectly acceptable. Sure, the girls in the pageants have to be of a certain moral and academic caliber (although you'd never know it based on some of their interview answers), but the kids who watch the pageants on tv don't know or care about that.
So... what do you think? Why are there so many pageants these days? And... do I really need to tell y'all to keep it clean?
The Weekly Dance Lesson
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Winning the Lottery
How about a new life? In 1998, the United States offered a lottery for Cubans who were not officially eligible for refugee or immigration status. Recently, a family, winners of that visa lotto, were finally allowed to come to America. Yesterday was their first 4th of July. Val tells a little of their story, and of the culture shock they must be experiencing.
I cant imagine what thoughts were bouncing around in his head after having just brought his wife and daughter to a new country, one where he knows but what the government of his old country had told him about. I cant imagine what it was like for he and his wife to walk into a Publix supermarket here for the first time. Or what it is to them to be able to sleep with air conditioning every night and always have some stuff in the icebox. Or to swim in a pool owned by a family member and not a hotel.This made me think. We take so much here for granted. It's sad, really. We won the lottery, just by being born here. But often, we don't realize just how rich we are, because we never knew how bad it could be (and is) for so many others. I'm not just talking about material things- that's obvious. We have so many freedoms and so many opportunities... things that would never even enter the minds of people in some nations. It's humbling when you really think about it. We are truly blessed.
It was rather appropriate, I thought, that this family that just arrived from Cuba a few days ago was able to join us in celebrating not only Pat's birthday, but Independence Day. And while they knew yesterday was a national holiday, they didnt really know exactly what was being celebrated. I gave them a brief explanation on the significance of the day. Told them about the Declaration of Independence and what it means to this country.
I want to wish this family a warm welcome and the best of wishes. Welcome home!
As Val said, - La vida, la libertad y la busqueda de la felicidad. (Do I really need to translate that for everyone?)
In a nutshell... yes, he visited the hospital. Yes, he supports the troops. Yes, he did make a sizable contribution to the Fisher House. No, he did not whip out his checkbook on the spot and write a check to cover the cost of building one.
So... an e-rumor wasn't quite right. In this case, that's ok- he's still a good guy in my book.
|You Are 86% American|
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!
Hmmm... oh, wait... I know... I should have checked "NASCAR and wrestling" unstead of "football and baseball"... I guess... but, I'll take it!!! (What's weird is that the explanation sounds like 100% American, not 86%... weird... )
Monday, July 04, 2005
Things That Go Bump In The Night
Yeah, I stayed up to watch Tempel 1 run over the Impactor. So did the boys. They even woke their dad up for the festivities. That was so cool!
Here's a video of images taken by the Impactor as it came face to face with its destiny. I wonder if it had that "deer-in-the-headlights" look right before it went splat on the surface...
A Military Ball
So... I'm wandering through the MilBlogs Community, and come across a few names I hadn't heard before... Graham's Journal... Going Down Range... Firepower Forward... Click on a few links... hey, why have I NOT heard of these guys? They're good...
Graham recently gave a moving tribute to three men from Bravo Battery. So often, for those of us who are Stateside, it's difficult to put a personal touch to the losses in war. But, as he points out, we shouldn't forget...
Everyone in America should know that these three were good guys who really deserved better. I know it's hard for average Joe American to find room in his heart for sympathy for three guys when the death toll for this war tops sixteen hundred. But one shouldn't give into the temptation to dwell only on numbers and forget the individual sacrifices made.B from Going Down Range has some very cool photos from Afghanistan, as well as some very good commentary. And I love his quotes!!
Quote: “It might develop into a JDAM party.”Firepower 5 is also in Afghanistan. His description of "Stalag 17" and his obvious... um... dislike for certain other branches of the military...
Quote: When you run out a whooa, call an air strike.
I have come to make peace. I hereby retract every evil, mean, or snide comment I have made about the Air Force. I will hereby render proper respect to our Nomex clad brethren and will no longer use the term “Crew Rest” in a disparaging manner. I now see the true mastery of their evil genius and stand in awe of their diabolical ways. I truly did not appreciate the breadth and depth of the vindictive power of his unholiness, the Evil Flight Planning Voo-Doo Witchdoctor until I saw Short the Great wither, reduced to near madness at the stroke of a button....well, his posts swing from hilarious to serious and hit everything in between.
Gentlemen, thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for putting your lives on the line so that we can be free.
A Little Bit of Science History in the Making...
For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Deep Impact smashed into the Tempel 1 comet exactly as planned, spraying space dust all over the place. As far as I can tell, JPL nailed it. The photos coming back from the Impactor as it closed in on the comet were amazing, and those was just the raw data. Then the impact photos from the flybycraft started coming in, and JPL's control center went bonkers.
The photos that will come in during the next few minutes will be run through filters for the best possible resolution. Then they'll all be examined again and again until scientists (and space junkies) learn all there is about this particular comet.
Congrats, JPL! You got another one right! Peanuts all around!
Saturday, July 02, 2005
A Loss in the Cotillion Family...
As any blogger can tell you, eventually blogging becomes a community and some bloggers become family. You look forward to seeing your favorites each day and hearing what they have to say. One of our "sisters", An American Housewife, recently suffered the loss of her husband. Although we can't be there physically to hold her hand; we would like to help her family. Please click here to contribute:Our thoughts and prayers are with Carol and her family.
Donations for Carol and her children