Sunday, January 30, 2005

Let it go, already!

Let me start by saying I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat. I vote based on what I read and hear and try to make an objective decision on who I think best matches my sentiments on policy. For all that, if the person I vote for wins the election, great. If not, great. It doesn't matter who comes out on top, the one who gets more electoral votes will be President.
That being said, here it is, the end of January, and I still read sites where people encourage acts of defiance against the President, lack of support for our elected Executive. People claim that "he shouldn't" have won, or that Ohio should have gone a different way, or whatever. Give it up. The election came and went. After all was said and done, George W. Bush retained the office of the President. Just because your pony didn't come in first doesn't mean that you can disregard what the populace chose. That's the idea of the system. You got to speak your piece, and by voting, you did that. I don't ask that you like his policies; I don't even ask that you like him. Odds are, I'll criticize many of his policies while he's in office, just as I would had Kerry won, or Nader, or Badnarak, or whomever you may have written in. What I believe is that you have an obligation, if you consider yourself an American, you have an obligation to accept the results of the election and support the country and the leader the country chose.
There are no losers in an election except for the ones who can't support the one who would lead us.

Is there any talent left out there?

I like the Smothers Brothers, even though they went off the air 5 years before I was born. I like Gordon Lightfoot and Simon and Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan. I appreciate the comedy of Drew Carey and Bernie Mac.
What I don't like is hearing a comedian telling the same sex joke I've heard over a thousand times by over a thousand other comedians who have never fared better than one gig at the improv. There's a reason that those comedians never made it. For as humorous as I find the Smothers Brothers, what I really appreciate about them how much work they put into their jokes and their songs.
And as far as singers go... Singers like Beyonce may have a good singing voice; I wouldn't really know. The songs I've heard her sing (Crazy in Love, Bootylicious) aren't exactly sung, as they are one or two lines cut and pasted ad infinitum. When you do that, you don't have to be able to sing in tune for more than the one or two lines you need to copy and paste. I don't consider that music. Beyonce's not the only one, just the one that comes most readily to mind, as I always hear about how talented she is.

Perhaps it's our fault. We're so anxious as a society for the next big thing, we encourage entertainers to take short cuts. That would explain why Friends was such a success. It wasn't terribly well written, after the third season, but we knew the people, and they were as shallow as we were.
I miss the days of well written shows, like Cheers, Newhart (the 80's one), M*A*S*H, and All in the Family. With all the television on now days, why can't anyone make shows like those anymore? Why do they have to stop at the easy joke, instead of working for one? And why don't we demand that from them?
For all that, I do admit there are a couple shows I do like. I think that Everybody Loves Raymond is quite well done. Doris Roberts plays her part as exquisitely as Larry Linville did with Frank Burns on M*A*S*H - that is to say, she never takes the easy way out, and that is commendable. I think Bernie Mac is a great exercise in promoting family values, and I really enjoy how well the cast in 2 1/2 men work together. So, perhaps all is not lost in the world of entertainment.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Just Coincidence?

Is it just me, or does anyone else see a resemblance between Kathryn Morris from "Cold Case" and Macauley Culkin?

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

I was watching TV this morning while my son was falling asleep again, I think we had the Early Show on, but I can't remember for sure. At any rate, they had this report of a company in Michigan (A fine state where I hope to return someday) who fired employees who smoked.
The situation is like this: for the sake of decreased health care costs, the boss gave his employees one year to quit smoking or else he'd can them. Of the (I think they said) 200 employees, only 4 quit, rather than go through this.
Now, I understand not allowing your employees to smoke at work. It smells better, and they are typically more productive, since they don't go out for smoke breaks every 45-50 minutes. I can even understand hiring non-smokers for the same purpose. What upset me about this report was that the boss was doing breath tests on his employees to make sure they weren't smoking at all.
I'm a big fan of civil liberties. I really don't like the idea of a boss telling me what I can and can't do with my property when I'm not at work. And I really have a hard time believing that any of these employees consented to smoke-breath tests as a condition of employment when they were first hired, so to tell them that, if they don't quit smoking altogether, their position at their place of employment is forfeit sort of bugs me.
Bosses: If you don't want smokers at work, advertise that you are looking for non-smokers. There's nothing wrong with that. But don't tell your current employees that they must surrender a liberty for the sake of their job. When you take the first one, all the others get that much easier.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Searching For Bobby Fischer

You know, it's been a year since I played any chess. It's been a long time since I've played in a tournament - last January, I tied for second in the "Houston Open." I do miss playing in the tournaments, but with school and kids and wife, well, something had to give. Maybe in a couple years when the kids are interested, I can take all of us out... We'll have to see.
I still like watching Searching for Bobby Fischer. That twelve move combo to finish the tournament, though I can't believe someone would see that that quickly, not even Bruce, was brilliant. I'd like to be able to, though. However, I'll just keep up my patzer ways probably.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Interesting little thought exercise

This came to mind today while I was driving home from class. Don't ask me why; it just did.
Suppose there's a person (man or woman) who is a fervent right-to-lifer, someone who thinks that abortion is immoral and should be illegal, that it's wrong to deny a living person the opportunity to live, and that abortionists and the women having abortions are murderers. This person is on the way to a planned parenthood clinic to protest its continued existence. While she's driving on the street where the clinic is located, he or she momentarily looks away from the road, and in that instance, rear-ends a woman who is there for an abortion appointment. As a result of the rear-end collision, the pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage.
The issue to consider is, in this right-to-lifer's mind, is he or she a murderer or manslaughterer? If this person stands by the mantra that "life begins at conception," then, the unintended death of the fetus via miscarriage as a result of the rear-end collision would (I think) have to be declared involuntary manslaughter. If the fetus is not actually "alive" in the legal sense (as it's currently defined), then, the miscarriage is an unfortunate accident, and one that had the same effect that the abortion she tried to stop would have had.

New interpretation of the Fourth Amendment

Thanks to searching through gritsforbreakfast's blogspot, I found the following information:
The Supreme Court, in deciding Illinois v. Caballes, revealed that police use of drug sniffing dogs at traffic stops doesn't constitute a search under the Fourth Amendent. The argument is that "A dog sniff conducted during a concededly lawful traffic stop that reveals no information other than the location of a substance that no individual has any right to possess does not violate the Fourth Amendment." (SCOTUS Blog).
I confess, I agree with gritforbreakfast on this one. It doesn't make any sense to me that, just because you may or may not possess contraband in your vehicle, which I concede is against the law, that your right to be searched with little more than a hunch, and I doubt the police would even need that, is forfeit. It seems to contradict what the Fourth Amendment says, which is: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
It's hard for me to conceive that there would be occasion on a "routine traffic stop" to have probable cause to search for contraband.
For those who say "well, I don't have contraband in my car, so I don't object to them searching and finding it in criminals' cars," I fear you're missing the point. There is a reasonable expectation of privacy that all people enjoy, and there appears to be a fine line now between searching a car, just because, and searching a house, or a business, or a person him or herself.

Happy Birthday, Alicia Keys

According the the running footnote on the news this morning, today, Alicia Keys turns 24. I'm 30, and she's already made more money than I ever will. I don't begrudge her that, she has a tremendous singing voice, and people are willing to spend the money to hear her. If I could get someone to spend money to hear me sing, I'd do it, too, though I can't imagine they'd like what they hear. I just wonder, when it comes to monetary success for entertainers, is it more a matter of talent, or is it more marketing and luck?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Why I am quitting fantasy football

Once upon a time, I thought fantasy football was fabulous, as I'm sure many still do. But this season, I noticed something interesting. I was watching a football game, the Lions vs. the Falcons, and I found myself rooting for the Lions but hoping that Michael Vick had a great game. On the last week of the season, the ball was on the 1 yard line, and Seattle ran a QB sneak, and I got mad, because that meant that Sean Alexander missed out on 6 points, which hurt my team.
The point is, I reached a point where, rather than enjoying the game and rooting for my team, I was cheering for individual players and hoping my teams didn't run plays for other players. What a waste of a season, where I can't even root for the home team because the other team has "one of 'my' players" on it.
This seems to exemplify a bigger problem in sports. People are more possessive of players than ever and feel as though because they own a fantasy team that has a player, they own a piece of that player as well. This doesn't bode well for one's enjoyment of sport. Additionally, it empowers the players even more, because it celebrates the individual in the sport, instead of the team.
For the record, I hope that New England wins the Super Bowl, because they appear to appreciate the object of team play in a way that should be celebrated, not derided. I also think that one of the worst things that could happen to football is that Philadelphia loses the Super Bowl this year and they win next year with a healthy Terrell Owens, because that would simply justify his contention that he is "that good," and encourage his me-first antics.
I'm not ready to give up sports, because, quite frankly, I enjoy the diversion they provide, but I am done with my fantasy involvement.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Now THIS is purple prose!

This is how they refer to their second-largest supplier of oil and food aid, and defend their acts. Note how they make reference to the acts for which they've been admonished, and then, rather than deny or defend their acts, they attack the organization that created the report. brilliant!

KCNA Refutes U.S. Accusations against DPRK
Pyongyang, January 20 (KCNA) -- The Human Rights Watch, which claims to be a U.S. non-governmental human rights organization, in an "annual report on human rights" released on Jan. 13 dealing with human rights performances in at least 60 countries once again pulled up the DPRK over "the issues of political offenders" and "defectors from the north". This is nothing surprising to us as it used to let loose a string of trite vituperations against the DPRK as a tool serving the successive U.S. administrations in the implementation of their "human rights policies." We term the Human Rights Watch's malignant mud-slinging at the DPRK over its human rights performance as sheer sophism fully representing the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK. It is beyond doubt that it cannot act otherwise away from the U.S. stand as it came into being in America. But it would be well advised to take issue with human rights abuses in its own country before saying this or that about other countries as it put up the signboard of "defense of human rights". The U.S., styling itself a "human rights judge", has no right to talk about human rights as it is the graveyard of human rights and the worst human rights abuser in the world. The political freedom, democracy and vital rights of the popular masses are abridged in the U.S. legally and institutionally. The U.S. election law restricts as strictly as possible the people's right to elect and bars the popular masses from freely taking part in the political life by putting up various preconditions such as sex, occupation, level of education, length of residence, property status, age, political view and religious belief. More than 10 intelligence institutions covering the whole area of the U.S. with a dense intelligence network are gathering specific information about the inhabitants who account for 90 percent of the population. On this basis they are encroaching upon the political activities and freedom of speech of the popular masses while gathering and analyzing the data about their political life and ideological trend by Internet and precision monitoring and wiretapping means. The total number of the poor is more than 34.6 million, that of the jobless goes beyond 8.6 million and industrial barons earn 400 times as much as ordinary workers in the U.S. where people are denied vital rights. The poor mental and cultural life is being institutionally encouraged there, driving many people into degeneration, despair and crimes. Ethnic and gender discrimination is growing more intolerable day by day. A total of 235 million weapons of various types are in use in the U.S., a cesspool of crimes. In consequence tens of thousands of people fall victim to gun-related crimes every year. The U.S. is a wrecker of democracy as it ruthlessly infringes upon the sovereignty of other countries and human rights of their peoples for the mere reason that they are different from it in ideology, system and religious belief. The U.S. invasion of Iraq in disregard of the United Nations and international law, its massacre of at least 100,000 civilians and use of depleted uranium bombs and abuses of prisoners go to clearly prove that it is the typical human rights abuser at present. It is preposterous, indeed, for the U.S. to take issue with other's human rights performance though it is censured for its poor human rights situation at home and abroad. The army and the people in the DPRK regard their socialist system as their life and soul and boundlessly value and absolutely support it. No matter how desperately the U.S. may work to vilify the DPRK's system, man-centered socialism of Korean style remains stable.

Random Thought for the Day

Mark Twain once said that there were three kinds of people, common people, remarkable people, and lunatics. My guess is that there's really a fine line between Remarkable People and lunatics, and the challenge is to skate as close to that line as possible.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

U.S. History they don't want you to know

When I was in the Air Force, I served as an instructor at Goodfellow AFB, which is in San Angelo Texas. If you want to know how to get to San Angelo, and you've never been, take I-10 west from San Antonio (or East from El Paso) and drive for about 5 billion Texas Highway Years (which equates to about 2 Hours of standard time) until you are out of reach of EVERYTHING. Then you turn north and drive another hour and a half.
While taking a history class, I was given the assignment of researching the history of the city. San Angelo is located in the Concho Valley, which is right smack in the middle of Texas; it's east of the Llano Estacado and west of the Hill Country. The Native Americans who lived in Texas at the time would hunt in the area, but wouldn't establish any settlements out there because they considered this area with no trees, little water, and even less shrubbage uninhabitable. The spanish explorers who explored the area pretty much listened to the Native Americans, and decided that this (rather large, about the size of Rhode Island) area was not something they wanted to settle in.
Then come the Americans. The Americans were told "don't try to settle this area, it's uninhabitable." And the Americans said, essentially, "Yeah, right." They first established an army post a little north of San Angelo, Fort Chadbourne, to protect against Indian Attacks, but they abandoned that after a while. Undaunted by common sense and probably suffering a little hurt pride by the "I told you so's," the Americans decided to build another fort, Fort Concho, at the confluence of the North and Middle Concho Rivers. And to prove that this was indeed an inhabitable location, they sent the 9th Cavalry, buffalo soldiers (the Black Army Cavalry) there to live. Given the typical military and social perception of African Americans in the 1870's, you can imagine what a vote of confidence this was to the area.
Of course, every post has to have it's boom town nearby, and very soon, there were gambling halls, bars, and brothels all ready to take the money of the military folks who lived there. That is the birth of San Angelo.
Looking back through the history of the founding of the city, it really appears that San Angelo was founded basically on a "Trading Places" type of dare... What a wonderful, colorful city history.

Friday, January 21, 2005

By the People, For the People

I heard on the radio this morning DJs complaining about the proposed legislature here in Texas that would grade students based on their obesity. The idea is that it will encourage health. These DJs and the people calling in complained that there were too many vending machines in class and that children are going to make unhealthy choices given the option, and that grading fat would only hurt the self esteem of those husky children. They also argued that there should be a greater PE requirement than the current 1.5 years that the state requires from high school.

All this is fine and good, but, I want to know why the children would choose the unhealthy stuff over the healthy stuff? Is it nature? Or is it because that's what they have access to with fast food parenting and the like, so that's what they're most familiar with?

Also, can't the schoolboard decide to remove the vending machines? And if they do, how much does that hurt the respective school district economically? And if they don't, these people who complain about the vending machines, are they going to be responsible enough to vote out the school board members who allow them to return? Or are they just going to complain?

My rant for Friday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

And nobody was left to say anything for me...

We learned in class today the Justice Scalia is an example of a textualist. This means, essentially, that, everything governmental should be covered in the Constitution, and if it isn't in there, it's not the Government's place to enforce acts...
He believes that the people of the country will hold the Congresspeople accountable, and if they (the Congresspeople) pass laws that the public disapproves of, then the people will vote in new congresspeople to replace them.
I must admit, I like that idea. It signifies exactly how I imagine a republic should work. Unfortunately, there was a greater voter turnout for the last American Idol than for the last election. Yes, I'm aware that children and non-citizens (and felons) are allowed to vote for the American Idol. Still, that's a shame.
Maybe things will change and people will hold their Congresspeople accountable for their actions, but until that time, I am thankful that there is a Judiciary in place to keep them from placing too much power in the Legislative or Executive Branches.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

First time for everything

And today is a first for a couple. This marks my first blog entry in my own blog, more or less just something so I have "something." Let's see where this goes.
Additionally, this is the first day of the second semester of law school. That's a whole different beast. Let the excitement and anxiety begin!