Sunday, February 27, 2005

Wanted - someone who wants the unwanted

China, in an effort to control their human population, instituted a program some years back limiting the amount of children a family could have to one. Whether that is a good or bad idea is something up to independent debate, there is a more profound problem involved with it.
You see, there is no social security program in the PRC; the senior citizens of the country are cared for by their oldest son. A program that limits childbirth to one has with it the burden of limiting the ability to care for the elderly. The result of this is that many families reject their daughters, since they are unable to keep the family or care for the parents after growing up, and sending them to orphanages.
The social policy that drives this also is something open to debate, but there is something available to those who are willing. The People's Republic of China has an adoption program that will allow these otherwise unwanted girls (and some developmentally challenged boys) to be adopted by families in other parts of the world, such as here in the United States. I know a couple agencies who work with China to facilitate the process for families who either can't have children of their own, or desire to provide a home to a girl who otherwise wouldn't have one.
Should anyone have any interest in this, or wish to debate the Chinese policy, feel free to comment or you can e-mail me at for more information.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Ya gotta have Faith

Benny Hinn is in town, and he's performing at the Toyota Center, which happens to be where I park for classes. This means that for the last 2 days I've had to maneuver my way through the Benny Hinnions to get out of the garage and head home. And I must say, there are a bunch of them. They were lined up around the corner waiting to get in, healthy looking people, people who looked ill, people in wheelchairs, on crutches, children, you name them, they were there.
Which leads me to my rant for the day. All these people are waiting for Benny Hinn to call them on stage, say a prayer, touch their head, and heal them of their affliction. Some of these people have been suffering for years, and some spent whatever meager savings they had for the opportunity to be near the great one. (He always enters the stage to "How Great Thou Art")
I don't begrudge Benny for making a living, and I don't really begrudge him for making a living by taking people's money. PT Barnum did it for years, as do most people who sell time wasting devices.
My issue stems from the way he does it. As I mentioned above, many of these people have little to give, and they give it all in hopes that Benny can cure them. I would be a little more apt to believe him, if there was some documented proof that what he said was true. His antics seem more along the lines of a carnie psychic, "There's someone over here in the fifth row who's suffering from cancer. God has given me the power to cure you, if you are faithful. I can feel your faith, and God has answered your prayer, you are cured."
I remember a show that 60 minutes, or some other show; they took a sample of 5 people Benny had "cured" and tracked them for a year. One of them, a woman suffering from emphysema until Benny cured her, stopped her medicine (Didn't need it, she was cured) and died within a year. The others all were either still suffering from their illness or had died, as well.
This gives me problems. While I don't object to taking people's money per se, I do object to profiting from people's false hopes of survival. For a lot of these people, Benny is their last hope, their last chance. And for him to profit off their desparate bid to not die, especially when he can't show that he can save them, really offends me.
No, I'm not on Benny Hinn's mailing list.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Benefits, Shmenefits

When you enlist in the military, about 3 weeks into basic training, you are ushered into a room full of other 18-25 year olds and offered the opportunity to invest a portion of your paycheck for the first year of your service into the Montgomery G.I. Bill. The payoff is that after you're honorably discharged, you may use the 1200 dollars you invested plus the phenomenal interest it creates to help defray the cost of your higher education. I decided to finance my own bachelor's degree (See Excelsior College) and save my G.I. Bill for law school.

I've been in class for 6 weeks now, as have all the other folks in school with me. During this time, I've had to pay for tuition, books, rent, food, utilities, gas, insurance, daycare, and diapers. During this semester, I've received no money from the G.I. Bill. Apparently there is a backlog at the Okmulgee branch, which services my school, and they've been unable to process accounts. During a normal month, I'll be paid approximately $1000 from the G.I. Bill, which would go towards the daycare part of my finances (pretty much covers all of daycare for 3 children). For January and February, however, we've had to find other means, which is quite difficult.

It leads me to my hypothesis: The Veteran's Administration wants to make using the G.I. Bill as painfully inconvenient as possible to discourage people from actually using it as an educational finance tool. Consider the following:
1. There is a huge paper trail that must be filed at the outset, indicating your desire to use the G.I. Bill, including an application and your filing of your DD-214, which is your discharge paperwork (If you don't have that, you're SOL and have to wait about a year to get a copy).
2. The funds are not transferred at the outset of class. The basic idea, I think, is that this will discourage people from enrolling in the program then dropping out of school, although I doubt that is going to run rampant, as the efforts to simply get into the program are such a pain.
3. When the funds are transferred, it's month by month. This means that if you have tuition that is due up front, and can't afford to pay it and are relying on the G.I. Bill to help out, then you won't be able to enroll, and thus won't need the G.I. Bill.

Now I completely understand the need to be meticulous, but I also know that the Government is quick to overspend on several things. I remember when I lived in Maryland reading a report that the government spent several hundred thousand dollars to buy a property that they had purchased 80 years prior. If the government can be that sloppy about a piece of property, why do they have such stringent requirements to benefit the fewer than 20% of people that actually use their G.I. Bill benefits?

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wednesday - Haiku Day

Watching morning news
I just saw a young rooster
really need more sleep

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Assisted Suicide

In addition to hearing on Eminent Domain, the Supreme Court To Decide On Assisted Suicide . The case to be heard is a challenge to the Oregon law allowing assisted suicide. Currently, Oregon's the only state that does allow it, and the Bush administration (I wonder why it's the Bush administration and the Hussein regime... well, that's for another post) is adamantly opposed to allowing the terminally ill to die, at least, to die with help from someone else.
At any rate, I don't know that I agree with helping someone die, even if you are a doctor. I don't know that I can really say that I'm for or against the right, other than to say that I don't think I'd want to do that as a personal opinion. I can completely see the argument for assisted suicide. It's cheaper in the long run, it ends someone's suffering, it brings closure to a family that otherwise would have to wait years and years watching as a loved one decays while hooked up to machines that keep them breathing.

I'll keep y'all posted on the Supreme Courts decision, of course, but in the meantime, I wonder what other positions and rationales might be out there?

High Court to Decide on Domain

By The Associated Press
FIGHTING CITY HALL: Seven families remaining in a New London, Conn., neighborhood are asking the U.S. Supreme Court (news - web sites) to stop the city from seizing their property.

WHAT'S AT ISSUE? Does the principle of eminent domain allowing governments to take private property for "public use" also let them take land to encourage private economic development?
IN DEFENSE: New London officials say taxes generated by redeveloping the area ultimately will benefit the public. The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed.

I pulled this off of Yahoo! just a couple of minutes ago.
The idea of eminent domain is that, for the better of the community and citizens at large, a government can take land that belongs to private citizens for public use, so long as they give "just compensation" (Fifth Amendment).

Critics have said that the local governments have misused the doctrine in recent years; tearing down nice, older houses to make parking lots for casinos, breaking up large estates to force subdivisions, etc.
I'm not sure which side I'm on. I tend to lean towards the individual rights side, where I would support the individual trying to keep their property, but I can easily see how the sacrifice of a few individuals to create a renewed urban center can benefit the majority, such as the Kansas City Speedway...
What do you think?

Monday, February 21, 2005

What's really important

For those of you who have never done so, I highly recommend the act of watching children playing organized sports. This weekend, I got to see my son's first soccer game. His team won, 3-0, which is good, even though irrelevant when you're 5-6. My son even had a chance to score a goal; he had the ball at the net all by himself and proceeded to kick over the ball (his foot went over and the ball stayed there).
At any rate, the best part of the game was watching 14 kids running in the general direction of where the ball used to be before it rolled somewhere else, and that is more entertaining than anything I've seen this year.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

I'm in the mood for love

The wonderful things Science can do. According to an article I just read, Scientists Capture Roach Mating Scent. This is a wonderful thing, apparently, in that it can help us control the roaches.
I just read that headline, though, and all I can think of is one of those "romance" ads in the back of magazines.

Wednesday is Haiku Day!

I know it's Thursday, but my phone lines at home were acting up so I couldn't get online to post this.

Reading for Con Law
Once, twice, three times and then some
I miss Nintendo

Please post your own!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Saeng Il Chukha Hamnida!

Happy Birthday Chonger!
That's right! The Great General, the Dear Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has celebrated his 63rd Birthday among a feast of pheasant and venison!
This while his country has suffered yet another year of negative population growth, and claims on his government's part that they are a nuclear power and must be treated accordingly.

But at least he was unanimously selected as the leader of the nation, beating out such opponents as Chong-Il Kim, The Son of Kim Il-Sung, and the Man with the T.C. Sunglasses and hair that would make Donald Trump proud!

Sick Child

One of the best things about my kids is that they all share everything. Unfortunately, like most kids, they share their sicknesses with each other as well. This means that the flu/cold thing that my oldest son got passed to my youngest son, and now has moved on to my daughter. It's just really painful to see a little ball of energy reduced to a fetal blob laying on the bed, just asking for water and Aladdin.
Poor little thing

Monday, February 14, 2005

Class Inaction

According to an article from the Contra costa times, the Senate has approved a limit on class action lawsuits. Essentially, the multistate class action lawsuits must now be heard in Federal Court, as opposed to state courts. It says: "Under the legislation, long sought by big business, large multistate class action lawsuits could no longer be heard in small state courts. Such courts have handed out multimillion-dollar verdicts.
Instead, the cases would be heard by federal judges, who have not proven as open to those type of lawsuits."
The article further states: "Bush and other bill supporters - who have pushed for the legislation for almost six years - say it is needed because greedy lawyers have taken advantage of the state system by filing frivolous lawsuits in state courts where they know they can get big verdicts.
Senators who back the bill say lawyers make more money from such cases than do the actual victims, and that lawyers sometimes threaten companies with class action lawsuits just to get quick financial settlements. Regular people, they assure, will not lose their day in court."
Unfortunately, this seems to me to be more a case of the supporters trying to spin big business agenda in a manner that will please the general populace. The basic idea behind a class action is that one person represents several for the sake of ease of litigation. This person takes the case, and the result of that case stands for everyone involved in the class. The desired effect of the class action suit is not to fill one's pockets, but rather to elicit change on the part of big businesses who are profiting by their own actions.
The article continues: "Opponents say Bush and other bill supporters are trying to help businesses escape proper judgments for their wrongdoing - and also to hurt the trial lawyers who litigate the cases, some of whom are big Democratic contributors.
'Are there bad lawyers that bring meritless cases? Sure there are, and we should crack down on them,' said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, a former trial lawyer. 'But this bill is not about punishing bad lawyers. It is about hurting consumers and helping corporations avoid liability for misconduct.'"
Nevertheless, Big Business won a big victory this time, if only because of where they'll be heard.

Friday, February 11, 2005

In the desert

I found this wonderful little story in one of my favorite books. It's a story of a phone booth that had been sitting at a crossroads in the Mojave desert that was placed by miners who worked in the area in the 1960's. After they left, the phone stayed. In 1997, a guy named Deuce called the phone number, and kept doing so, until a woman named Lorene answered. Deuce then put that story on the internet (much like I'm doing), and the word spread as more and more people called the number and more and more people went to answer the phone.
I find this whimsical, that so many people would take the time to call and speak with someone that they had never, and proably would never meet. That in spite of all the things that go on in the world, people would want to spend the time and effort to extend a greeting to a stranger.

btw, the phone number is 760-733-9969, but the phone booth was torn down in 2000 due to environmental concerns.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The best kept secret on the penninsula

As I've seen reported on Television and the newspapers, Yahoo! provides the link that states North Korea Has Nukes. Now, I imagine this revealed "secret" is really about as much a secret as Dolly Parton's augmentations, but it's still worth noting. I remember reading a Time or Newsweek article in the late '90s that said the DPRK had one and possibly two nuclear weapons. Of course, this is slightly different than what the DPRK is saying now, namely that they have developed the weapons to counter the "growing threat" that President Bush presents to the peace on the penninsula.
The timing on this is the part that's most interesting. North Korea has spurned continued 6-way talks regarding stabilization in the region, and now they bring up the nuclear issue again. Watch the news closely, North Korea is probably posturing for more at the bargaining table, and the nuclear weapons is all they have. Since that's the case, they will use it anytime they feel they need to get us to make more concessions, and since it's worked in the past - see Clinton's approach to NK, providing oil and food in exchange for their suspension of a nuclear program while we help them develop light water reactors for power, which NK said they'd do, until the time came for them to tell us, essentially, that we could take the deal, after we gave them the food and oil, and shove it, since they'd been continuing with their program all along.
The Chonger is not someone who should be accomodated in this manner, in my opinion, which is based on his treatment of his people, who are kept at near-starvation levels, and various other nefarious deeds.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A quick plug for my Alma Mater

For those of you who've never heard of it, Excelsior College ( is a great way for working adults to continue their education. There's no campus; you send in your credits from other institutions and CLEP tests, and they compile everything and help you figure out the best way to finish your degree. Military members can use this to transfer their tech school credits and any DANTES tests that they may have taken, and then finish the degree with some Excelsior exams. The best part is, it's inexpensive, so you can finish your degree for about $1200, and then save your GI bill for your Master's degree, or law degree (Like I'm doing), or what have you.
The best part is, they're part of the State University System of New York, which means that they are regionally accredited, not like those "diploma mills" that keep showing up in Wyoming.
Anyway, I'm not getting paid for this plug, though if any of the regents at the university wish to give me an advertising commission, I'd be willing to talk... Law school's expensive!

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Max Schnelling

I admit I'm not a big boxing fan, and I'm only somewhat familiar with Max Schnelling and what he did. He was quoted once as saying he most wanted to be remembered as a decent human being, which is interesting considering how his country wanted to use him. This site: Max Schmeling provides a pretty good synopsis of his life story, though it leaves out the part where he helped Joe Louis out when Joe had his IRS problems.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Where's the Dental General Warning?

According to recent studies, Meth addiction leads to rotting teeth. Apparently, the drug dries out your mouth, and the lack of saliva facilitates the buildup of bacteria. As if there weren't already enough good reasons to avoid Meth. Perhaps the fear of the dentist will keep those meth labs closed, where the police failed...

Does Gordon know about this?

While I was shopping for groceries today, I happened to pass by the salmon section, and briefly considered getting some. Then I noticed the sign on the package that said "color added." For some reason I found that slightly disturbing. I suppose I shouldn't worry about it, as it's not that much different than adding broth or hormones to the chicken, but it really struck me as odd...

Friday, February 04, 2005


South Korean War Plan

I can see the North Korean paper now:
"This action can't but be taken as an attack on our sovereignty and the inflammatory language of the south Korean puppets has put our peaceful people on a war footing"

Basically, anything that happens in South Korea or anything the U.S. says puts North Korea and the Korean penninsula on a war footing, and has done so for ever.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Funk Jazz for everyone!
I've had the opportunity to hear these guys play on a couple occasions here in Houston, and I must say, they're unique. I won't say that they're for everyone, but I do enjoy how well they work their music together, and especially how much fun they have playing. If you get the chance, I do recommend checking them out.
And I'm not just posting this because I'm friends with the Nuje, I do dig the music.


I played this game a couple of years ago. I ended up losing pretty quickly, but I think I had good chances, at least, I would have, had I been a decent chess player. I played Black:

(Ruy Lopez)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Bc5 6. c3 0-0 7. Re1 Ng4 8. d4 3xd4 9. cxd4 nxd4(!?) 10. Nxd4 Qh4 11. Be3 Qxh2+ 12. Kf1 Qh5?? 13. Nd2 f5 14. Bb3+ Kh8 15. eXf5 Bxd4 16. Bxd4 Rxf5 17 Qxg4 Black resigns.

I think if I'd kept pressing, and not withdrawn my queen, in about 15 moves, I end up clearing out (slightly) better...
I need to start playing again.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

By the People, For the People

For all the civics minded out there in blogland, I encourage you to look over the proposed bill named H.R.3799 in the House of Representatives and S. 2082 in the Senate that was entered into the house last year. Afterwards, look at this Statement of Arthur D. Hellman, a professor at University of Pittsburgh into his interpretation of the statute.
Essentially, the sponsors of the bill, under the auspices of keeping the judiciary from removing bibles from courthouses and "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, want to limit the power of the Judiciary branch and make them less powerful to act as oversight into the acts of the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
I don't care what your opinion is on prayer in school, or bibles in court, or whatever is. This is exactly the type of proposition that the judiciary is here to protect us against, keeping any one branch from becoming more powerful than any other, and I encourage you (if you interpret this the way I do) then do more than just complain, actually write your representative and demand they do their job and represent your wishes. If you don't agree with my interpretation, then, please, write them and tell them how much you support the proposed bill.

Thought for the day

Thomas Jefferson once said "If you sacrifice liberty for security, you end up with neither."
What does this mean to you, and how does it apply in the USA Patriot Act America of today?