Thursday, June 30, 2005


A recent Zogby Poll indicates that President Bush's approval ratings did not improve as a result of his speech the other night. Even more interesting is that 42% of Americans polled said they believe Congress should use its impeachment power if it's proven the President lied about the reasons for invading Iraq.

Here's my problem with the idea of impeachment: it's a horrible thing to put the country through, and at a time when we're split on so many issues, this would just further polarize the masses. The President urged us to look beyond what's happening right now and asked for sacrifice. I don't agree with the invasion of Iraq because I disagree with the rationale. We are there however, and for the run of it, it appears the Iraqi people are going to be better off for it (At least I hope so).

President Clinton should not have been impeached for his acts in the White House; it was something that should have stayed small scale. This is decidedly a more important issue, as it's not about receiving sexual favors, but rather about people dying for what could potentially be a made up reason. This would indicate that if the President did lie, then we should start impeachment proceedings. I personally think that this would be a dangerous attack on the Office at a time when, whether we like him or not, or like what he did or not, we need to support the leader...

Ask not to whom the toll goes...

Congress is currently looking to set up a procedure to encourage privately owned toll roads. The idea is that they'll pass legislature that would allow private comanies to raise up to $15 billion for highway projects using tax-exempt bonds.

When I first read this, I was a little disturbed. After all, the government usually is responsible for building and maintaining roads. The Federal government works the interstate highway system (I think), the states do the state highways, and the counties and cities do their roads.

But, the article explains that some smaller states already do this, as a means of easing their taxes and keep the pressure off the budgets (my interpretation). I can see pros to this, as it would ease taxpayer costs across the board; but it would burden those who use the roads most often.

Probably the biggest argument against it is that the Federal government is a non-profit organization, whereas the private companies would have to stay in business. This could potentially mean a price inflation that we wouldn't otherwise see, but I think in the end, it would cost us less that people fear.

The wife wants some help

In picking out a graduate program online. She's at One Step Sideways and is currently looking into various online MBA or other Master's programs. If anyone has any input, I'm sure she'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Late haiku this Wednesday

It's 9:20 now
my kids, who should be asleep
Are sharing stories

contributions always appreciated.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The newest activist

What with all the celebrities these days speaking out on the major issues that plague us, a new star has stepped up to fight strongly for what we believe in: Paula Abdul. She's taking on the fierce underbelly of one of the most inflammatory issues of our time, yes, you guessed it, NAIL SALONS!

Apparently, she went to one that used unsanitary equipment and got an infection. Now she is urging the California Senate (of course) to pass legislation that would force the salons to use clean equipment.

I don't want to undermine the importance of clean manicure equipment, but this is a state that elected the Governator because they were all but bankrupt and had no faith in Gov. Davis. There are quite a few issues out there that need to be dealt with - I seem to remember blackouts scourging the San Jose area a couple years ago - before celebrities' nails get fixed. Buy a home manicure set and don't worry about it. There, I fixed it. I'm ready for my check from the lobbyists.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Where your insurance dollar goes

I'm not the only one who's complained about the cost of medical care - insurance costs are too much, etc, etc. But it might not be the doctor's fault, rather, we might blame the insurance companies. For one restaurant here, the Red Onion, it would cost the owner 45,000 a month to cover his employees, and it's not that many people... really. The report on the link above gives cost increases for different families, etc. While these costs go up, the money doesn't go to the doctors. You'll read,

The average doctor gets 18 percent of every dollar spent on medical care. But family practitioners aren't average... [a]nd family practioners in small practices ... are being run out of the business.
The doctor the news interviewed here, Dr. Van Zant, said that one of their major insurance carriers gave them an ultimatum: 25% cut back across the board.

Where does that money go? Apparently to the boss. One of the insurance companies, the one Dr. Van Zant referred to as the "worst payer," is part of a corporation that paid its CEO $46 million in compensation last year.

United Health paid their CEO $94 million ON TOP of his $639 million in stock options.

Affordable health care is available, if companies didn't pay their executives more in one year than most people spend in their entire life.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Yugiyoh, the real meaning is June 25.

Fifty-five years ago today, North Korean soldiers, with backing from the Soviet Union and PRC, crossed over the 38th parallel and invaded the First Republic of Korea. The DPRK soldiers caught the ROK soldiers completely off-guard, and began routing the South Korean army and the few Americans left in country. After three years of bitter fighting, leaving approximately 900,000 Chinese, 520,000 North Korean, 400,000 UN and ROK, and 155,000 US soldiers either killed or wounded, a Cease-fire was declared, with the line being approximately where it was before the fighting began. To this day, no treaty has been signed, and these two countries are still technically at war.
Take a moment to remember those who died protecting those who couldn't protect themselves from the yoke of tyranny.

Friday, June 24, 2005

This just in: Americans oppose the draft.

I thought this was somewhat common knowledge, but the AP decided they needed a poll to determine that this was in fact the case. In said poll, 70 percent of those asked said they opposed a reinstatement of the draft, with nearly half of all pollers being strongly opposed.
Some of the interesting things: Women were more likely to be opposed than men, people over 50 were more likely to favor the draft than younger people, and Republicans were more likely to favor the draft than Democrats. So, a 50 year old republican male is more likely to support a draft that would take people under the age of 28. Don't read so much into that, though. Many of those people were draftees themselves, and they view it as a one's duty as an American citizen to serve their country, and thus would be more likely to support a draft.
I would bet, if you polled military members, there'd be a stronger support for a draft than against, for similar reasons.
The problem is that we are currently in a struggle that is costing American lives and has no visible end, and as it becomes more and more unpopular, fewer and fewer Americans will volunteer for service. This will strain an already stretched military infrastructure even more than it already is.
I can't tell you whether I would support a draft or not. I volunteered to serve, and I think it's important for people to give to their country, but I'm not sure I subscribe to the idea of conscription again. I'm afraid that's the best personal answer I can forward. All opinions are welcome, perhaps I can lean more towards one side of the fence...

As far as the strain on the military... Our President has said we won't withdraw anytime soon, so the relief from that end isn't coming. I suspect that recruitment woes are going to continue as this drags on with no conclusion in sight. Perhaps the only way to ensure a properly functioning military is to reinstate a draft, for the sake of American lives and the continued American way of life...?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Strip Malls

The Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision (with O'Connor as a dissenter, even), that cities and municipalities may take private land for commercial development, with Justice Stevens saying local officials, not federal judges, know best in deciding whether a development project will benefit the community. I have a lot of trouble with this. I am a strong believer in the right to own property, and when I see a government of any size taking one person's property against their wishes when that person is not in default of a loan or something similar, I shudder. This tells me that I do not own my own property, rather I get to stay there until someone with more money and a more appealing plan on what to do with that land comes along and sweet talks the people in power. This was a bad decision.
Prior to this decision, municipalities could only use the takings clause for a reason related to a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas, the article notes. Now, the city can take your property to open a Wal-Mart, to increase the tax base and create more money for the city, in the meantime, running you out of your home, and destroying all the memories that you and your family built in that little piece of the American Dream. Bad Decision. Bad.

Bookworm also recently posted on this same issue. Her comments are here.

Burning up the charts

In national news, the House of Representatives passed a Anti-Flag burning bill with a vote of 286-130. You remember flag burning, that issue that has enflamed so many Americans recently, enough that we must galvanize the government to push through this proposed Amendment.

I like what the folks at the moderate voice had to say about this, as well as their quotes by Citizen Smash. Real quickly, they abhor flag burning (so do I) think it's quite distasteful (as do I), but they also disapprove of a flag-burning amendment. The Moderate Voice looks at this as nothing short of partisan politics, a group trying to find an issue they can rally around and cause a stir over - is it free speech, or is it a desecration of an American Symbol? I can't help but agree with that synopsis. I'd not heard much in the news since about this in several years, and can't think of any good reason to bring it up now when there are so many other issues that can and should be handled first.

I'm not really the best one to bring clear issue to this, so I recommend reading the moderate voice's post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"Congress Shall Make No Law..."

in 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that public high schools can censor and restrict what is printed in school papers. On Monday, the 7th Court of Appeals ruled that Publicly funded Colleges can do the same, effectively restricting the freedom of the college press.

I'm a bit torn on this issue. I like the idea that colleges are venues for younger Americans to learn and discover themselves, and I like that they want to challenge authority. Change doesn't come by balancing the line, it comes by crossing it. If a student wants to publish something inflammatory, I can understand.

The reason I lean more towards supporting the decision comes from a practical standpoint. These schools are learning centers, where young Americans need to learn the skills to succeed in the adult world. With the daily weakening of the value of a high school diploma, a serious college education is more and more important. Schools want to attract strong candidates, and, because they are publicly funded, they have to be answerable to the citizens of their state. In that respect, I find it important that a school be able to have veto power over what a student posts in a school supported forum.

The schools aren't saying that the student can't publish their ideas; the schools are saying that the student can't publish what is deemed inappropriate by the school in the school's paper. The student can still find other ways to publish their wares. Look at Life's Little Instruction Book - it's author, H. Jackson Brown, couldn't find a publisher originally, so he published it himself. It wasn't until some time later that he picked up a publisher. That option is available to a college student, as well. Because I don't think this is an abridgment of Free Speech, I wouldn't consider this a First Amendment Issue, and thus tend to support the Court's decision.

Wednesday, June 22

Adios, MoFo
Is what our governor said
but who really cares?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The right conclusion

The folks in Mississippi got the right answer in their trial against a former KKK member. While I don't disparage anybody for thinking or believing (yes, even thinking like a Klansman is OK), acting on those beliefs when it requires or begets violence against a group is worse than most other crimes. Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter, which is not murder, but at least he's going to answer for his sins.
I'm not saying this as powerfully as I could, but you get the general idea. Good Job, Mississippi.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Geena Davis for President

ABC is advertising one of its new shows for the fall, Commander-In-Chief, where Geena Davis plays a VP who takes over the office of the President, thus becoming the first female President. I like the idea, and hope that this is a good show. I fear, however, that it won't be.
Remember back in the mid to late 90s, when Ellen decided to come out of the closet? Suddenly her show, which had been a good sitcom, became all about what it's like to be gay. This is what I'm afraid is going to happen to Commander-In-Chief - the show is going to dote on the fact that it's a woman president, and focus less on a story line itself. That would be a shame.

Good Ideas

Pardon my ire here, but, if we invaded Afghanistan specifically because we wanted to catch Osama Bin Laden, and Intelligence has a good idea where he is, then wouldn't it make sense to send our folks there to get him? Or at least cooperate with that country's government to get the guy? Americans are not just dying every day because of this, but thousands of soldiers are away from their homes and families. We support our troops and thank them for being over there, but our leadership also needs to do what they can to get them BACK from over there, and that means catching the man we attacked a neutral country four years ago to catch.
If he knows, then he needs to let the warfighters know.
If he doesn't know, then he needs to stifle it and keep trying to find out.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

One year ago today

I was in the hospital pacing up and down, waiting for my wife to get her epidural. Then, at 8:24 a.m., my youngest son was born. Happy Birthday, son!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The unforseen dangers of sleeping loudly

If you click here, you will get a link to one of the more disturbing stories in recent days. Apparently, a woman got tired of her husband's snoring and, rather than leave the room or deal with it, took the decisive and well-planned approach of stabbing him with a pen. She stabbed him twice, and then, after he fell asleep again (as is wont to happen in the middle of the night), she hit him with a dumbbell.

Now, perhaps you're thinking, well, newlyweds often don't know about their partner's sleeping habits, and maybe he snores REALLY loud. (I've heard loud snoring before, but I've never heard anyone snore loud enough for me to want to stab them with a pen.) And perhaps that would help explain it. The problem is, this woman is 45 years old. The article doesn't say how long they've been married, but the age itself would lend one to think the woman could use a little more sense.

Lord knows if I ever snore, I'd not want to be awaken by a pen in the chest, or a dumbbell to the head.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A prosecutor's dream

I heard on a program, can't remember which news program, but it's not on cable, that when some of the detainees are put on trial, they will be tried with evidence that they will not be allowed to see, nor will their counsel be allowed to cross-examine on. The reason given was that some of this evidence is either itself classified, or comes from classified sources, and if divulged, it could either endanger American life in the field or cause the loss of that source of intelligence.

Nutshell: We're going to try you using evidence you can't see, and you don't get to defend yourself from it.

That just doesn't sound like a fair trial to me. I understand that this is going to be a war crimes trial, and international law runs the show, not American law, but, something stinks really rotten here. If a person is put on trial, be it an enemy or an ally, it seems to be of utmost importance that the person be given the best opportunity to defend himself or herself. Otherwise, the appearance of impropriety at the very least will seep in. Lord knows, if I were to be put on trial for something, I'd want to be able to confront those who accuse me, and know not just what I'm being tried for, but what types of proof they have...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A hollywood ending.

This is an example of what I dislike about Hollywood. Apparently there are talks going on concerning a movie deal with the "runaway bride." The woman fakes her own kidnapping, breaking a few laws in the process, and yet she gets to profit from the whole situation. Welcome to America. It's kind of like that stupid family in the 90's who took a shortcut after all the warnings and road closures told them not to and then they got stuck in the snow and lost a few toes due to frostbite. They got a made for tv movie starring Doogie Howser and several million dollars from it.
The secret to success in America isn't hard work and dedication a la Horatio Alger; it's doing something so phenomenally stupid that people are willing to shell out millions of dollars to tell it over and over again.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Eat Fresh?

In my neverending quest to get back into fighting shape, we decided to eat out for dinner tonight. We chose James Coney Island because it met my son's strict criteria. 1. It had balloons. 2. It was open. Case closed.

Wednesday, June 15

One thousand classic
recipes in a cookbook
and I'll eat just eight

Contributions welcome!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

All right, I'm officially sick of hearing about the Michael Jackson trial

Not that I wasn't sick about it before, but now that the verdict has come out, it seems to be the only thing the news can talk about. He's a singer. He was charged. He had a trial, and was found not guilty. That SHOULD be the end of the story. Instead, we have roving reporters going to shelters throughout Houston saying "we just hope that victims of child molestation don't stop coming forward." Well, I hope so, as well. However, in this case, it appears the victim lied about being molested. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, even though he was acquitted, Jacko is going to be as guilty as OJ.
The case was going to be a difficult one for the prosecution. It turned out to be too difficult, and thus he walked free. There is no need to post news crews over at his ranch to report on how tired he is.
People have talked about how if it was a poor man, the outcome could have been different. Perhaps. I'm sure, though, that there wouldn't be such a media frenzy if it were a poor person. Shut up and find a new flavor of the week to cover.

What kind of friend are you?

Warren Buffet once asked a woman who survived Auschwitz what kind of person she'd consider a friend. The woman replied: "Would they hide me?"

I've been meme'd

So I'll give my answers:
(1) Number of books I own: I own about 100-150. I don't buy a lot of books, and when I'm done, I like to donate them or let friends have them to read.

(2) Last book bought: The last books I bought were for my wife; Tom Robbins' "Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates" and Marian Keyes' "The Other Side of the Story." The last book I bought for myself was Sun Tzu's The Art of War as presented by Ralph Sawyer.

(3) Last book I read: The last book I finished was probably Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," but I'm currently reading the aforementioned Art of War, and Federal Income Taxation, Examples and Explanations, riveting stuff.

(4) Five books that mean a lot to me:
a. King Bidgood's in the Bathtub is probably a favorite because my daughter (age 3) is "reading" it daily, as did her brother when he was 3.
b. "Tuesdays with Morrie," it's just a fantastic book.
c. "The Two Koreas" by Don Oberdorfer. This chronicles the situation on the Korean Peninsula quite well, and helps explain my concern for the region.
d. The Sun Never Rises: a Rainthology - This is a collection of short stories and poems written by my mom's writing group; I'm proud of her for getting herself published.
e. I Had Trouble In Getting To Solla-Sallew, by Dr. Seuss. It's not his best selling book, nor is it his most famous, but, the message is clear: You can't run from your problems, you have to deal with them sometime.

Now, I'm supposed to pass this on, but I think instead I'll leave it open here for everyone so inclined to post on. Thank you Bookworm for tagging me!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Thou shalt not...

I saw on the running foot under the news this morning that the Supreme Court may soon reach a decision on whether or not the 10 Commandments can be displayed.

This has become a bit of a hot issue for so many people. I personally don't see the big deal about having a collection of laws posted at a courthouse. Would people complain if someone posted a copy of the Rosetta stone at a library?

Some say that it's a symbol of Judeo-Christianity. If you think it is, then perhaps to you it is. To some people, Ashlee Simpson is a talented singer who entertains with her powerful vocals. That doesn't make it a truth, it's just a truth from one's perspective.

I also wouldn't object to a courthouse posting Hammurabi's code, Draco's laws, laws from China or India or the Quran, whatever. So long as they are laws, then it should be ok.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Useless trivia of the day

The word avocado comes from a native american word that means "testicle."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Oh, the humanity!

I get done at the Y and decide to take my kids to the Golden Arches (despite my better judgment). We go through the drive through, and the kids get happy meals with apple juice. My son wanted Sprite. I ordered the apple juice anyway, since it's marginally better for him. He got mad and started a temper tantrum with the words "This is the worst day of my entire life!"

How I wish my worst day was not getting the drink I wanted with my happy meal.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Wednesday, June 8

Bittersweet turnips
lashed out angrily at five
drunk rutabagas

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

no title

Well, I had my first job interview in about 13 years yesterday. I thought it went fairly well. The lawyer with whom I interviewed was rather nice and approachable. I didn't get the job, though. I'm a little bummed, but not really surprised. I'm glad for the opportunity to interview. Still, it would've been nice to get the 15/hr that he paid. Anyway, I'm going to play the bummed man for a little bit, and then get back on the bike.

Opinion Day

Yesterday, the news rang out that the Supreme Court outlawed medical marijuana - to some a blow to states' rights, to others a blow to legalized pot.

The opinion question today is, should marijuana be legalized or not? I think it's safe to say it won't be made legal anytime soon, but still, input is encouraged.

Pistons in the Finals!

I said it at the beginning of the playoffs, Pistons and Spurs in the finals. Pardon my gloating, but I'm so rarely right with my predictions that I have to relish the rare occasion where I'm right.

There are going to be plenty of people who will say that Detroit doesn't deserve to be in the finals. Tommyrot. If they didn't deserve to be in the finals, they wouldn't be in the finals. Injuries happen in sports; that's one of the reasons they require physicals. It's a shame that Dwayne Wade was hurt, but, that wasn't the fault of the Pistons, and it wasn't guaranteed that the Heat would have won had Wade been 100%, anyway.

At any rate, these look to be an exciting finals, with the Detroit "We won't work our hardest until we're discredited in the media some way" Pistons and the San Antonio "Manu's got the hair, Tony's got the tongue, and Tim's the coolest big man outside of Detroit" Spurs.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Sequel Me This

Bambi is on TV tonight. Disney's classic motion picture. I don't care for it myself, but my kids love it. They like all Disney movies. And I admit, the art is phenomenal, artists working on miniature cels for months on end just to put something together that would look nice on screen, very impressive.

However, Disney has this weird thing about it. It seems to believe that if one movie was a timeless classic made 50 years ago, then a sequel made now will generate a ton of money, regardless of the story, much like a Vin Diesel movie makes money even though he has no discernable talent. And of course, it makes money.

Here's my problem. The artists that made the first Disney movies were artists. They created classics. These movies are appreciated as much for the animation as they are for the (generally) child-friendly stories. Every time they make a sequel of one of these movies, they tear away at that magic that made the original so special. I don't care what happened to Cinderella after the glass slipper fit, the story was great with "And they lived happily ever after." Same thing goes with Bambi. There's absolutely no reason to make a sequel based on these characters.

Perhaps I'd gripe less about this if the sequels were even marginally watchable, but do you remember anything good about Jungle Book 2? I didn't think so.

Disney, stop it. Keep the good things good. Don't cheapen the stock with watered-down money-grabbers based on the same characters and nothing else.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What's the Korean word for Dinosaur-sexer?

The term for Chicken-sexer is Byungaree Kambyolsa, which doesn't do a lot of good for the following article, here. The link will tell you that researchers have found a medullary bone inside a dinosaur skeleton, which apparently is a calcium deposit created by egg-laying creatures such as birds. The deposit is used to help make the egg shells hard, which is unique to birds.

So we now know that there is a dead female Tyrannosaurus Rex at a museum at the North Carolina State University. I will sleep better for knowing that!

Prick them, do they not bleed?

Remember President Bush? He's the guy who invaded Iraq because we "know they have nucular (sic) weapons" when they didn't? This is the man who says he will champion diplomacy with North Korea because the other option is military. Interesting, no?

North Korea recently said that VP Dick Cheney is a "bloodthirsty beast," and is using his comments that the Dear Leader, General Kim Chong-Il is irresponsible as a reason to stall in the 6 party talks that have been stalling for eons. "What Cheney uttered at a time when the issue of the six-party talks is high on the agenda is little short of telling (North Korea) not to come out for the talks," an unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency, according to what I picked up Here. This country is like a 5 year old who doesn't want to go to bed. They will pretend to do what you want, and then, right when you think they're behaving, there they are in the playroom with their toy rockets; only, in this case, the rockets aren't toys.

If we're so deadset on diplomacy, as we have been with other countries that have called us the enemy by name, then perhaps we need to use a little, uh, persuasive diplomacy, to get them to talk... Perhaps they'll understand something a little more persuasive than us giving them gas and food (thanks a lot, Bill).

Of course, North Korea is different than Iraq. They believe in their leader religiously, and because of that, they are willing to die to protect their utopia. Plus, the country is largely mountainous, with caves everywhere. It would not be a conventional war whatsoever. And then, of course, there's the problem with China. If North Korea attacks first, China doesn't get involved, but if we, or the ROK, or whoever, attacks first, then China will view it as a threat and would likely come to the aid.

Things aren't going to change in East Asia. We have too much at stake in China, South Korea, and Japan's economies to risk a war that would kill any of their markets. We'll probably keep saying nice doggy and trying to keep the DPRK on the back burner for as long as we can.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

No EU for now?

bookworm posted the other day that the French rejected the proposed EU constitution. Of course, people who pay more attention to current events than I already knew that, but the Dutch rejected it as well, which is news today, so I'm not that far off!

Like Bookworm, I'm glad they rejected the Constitution, because I see a united Europe as a potential threat in the future. The one thing that the great (pejoratively speaking) leaders wanted was a united Europe, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, et al. They failed through use of force, and it looked like diplomacy might succeed where the sword failed. The problem that a unified Europe poses is that they would immediately become a superpower, and the squabbling between the states would be no different than New Jersey bitching about all the pollution coming from New York, or Ohio's constant complaining about it's inferiority as compared to Michigan. That means that they could concentrate all their resources on external affairs.

Granted, I don't have the knowledge base on European happenings that I do Northeast Asia, I do, however, think that this rejection is a good thing.

It's Wednesday!

Dew on morning grass
The vague scent of honeydew
And of two wet cats

Hit me with your best shot!