Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Things I never thought I'd say

To my daughter: "Don't eat that stick of butter!"
To my toddler: "Don't lick the computer!"
To the boy: "flowers aren't food"
To my wife: "Carpet shampooer is funny!"

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Family Law Final
Friday is my first. I'm stressed.
But I will prevail.

Y'all are welcome to contribute till the cows come home.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pomp and Circumstance

Earlier this year, I made my sister make me a promise: that she'd finish her last class for her AS by the end of the year. True to her word, she took Astronomy this quarter and scored a B-, the last credit she needed to finish her degree. My sister is a college graduate. I'm very proud of her for finishing, and if you want to congratulate her yourself, you can find her at Jack's Mama.

Now, for her Bachelor's Degree, I've got a few good ideas, but I will wait until after Christmas before I start nagging her about it.

Good Job, Cassie. I'm proud of you!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wal Mart and the economy

I'm not really a fan of Wal-Mart. I know they sell things on the cheap and as such allow people to afford to buy things tehy otherwise couldn't. However, I believe Wal-Mart and its ilk are bad for the economy in the long run.

And apparently, I'm not alone. Last night while I was up for 4 hours with my insomniac toddler son, we caught a program on PBS that discussed Wal-Mart's effect on the economy. While I can't remember much in detail (it was 2 in the morning), I can go over the gist of it here.

First - Wal-Mart attracts itself to municipalities by advertising new jobs and lower prices. This comes at a cost, though. According to the program, in many of the places where Wal-Mart markets itself, Wal-Mart won't open unless they have considerable help from the community. They claim they need the community to help by subsidizing the cost and providing tax breaks to the company in order for the community (who banks on the future returns) to have the store. In more than one location, once the subsidies that Wal-Mart gets (in one instance, a ten year break) ends, Wal-Mart will leave the store and move somewhere else, leaving an empty shell that nobody else can fill.

Second - New Jobs - Wal Mart advertises that it creates new jobs with many benefits for the community. What they don't mention is that in order to keep the prices as low as they do, they have to pay at or near minimum wage for the jobs they create. They do offer medical benefits, but they come at a price that most of the employees can't afford. The program noted that in one community, 68% of the people who worked retail were covered by insurance, but when Wal-Mart came in, that number dropped to somewhere around 35% (I think, but it was low). One man who worked for Wal-Mart stated that he worked full time for $1200/month, and the insurance that Wal-Mart offered cost $210/month, about 20% of his total pay. He couldn't afford that, and neither can many of the working poor, who end up eschewing insurance for free clinics, a cost that is passed on to the taxpayers in the community not to mention a drain on the medical community, taking away the customers that the doctors need to stay in business.

Third - revenues. Wal-Mart advertises that it creates much in terms of revenue for the community - one of the major selling points. However, market research shows that instead of the gain in revenues, there is an average loss of 10% in community revenues in a city where a Wal-Mart opens. This is due to a couple things. First, the money comes from the same people. Just because a new store opens doesn't mean that people will start spending more money. Combine this with the fact that Wal-Mart charges less than local businesses, and you end up with less revenue for the same amount spent.

Fourth - Impact on the community. Wal-Mart is headquartered in Arkansas. Their businesses are all over the country. The money that Wal-Mart makes goes back to Arkansas, as opposed to local businesses, especially mom and pop businesses, who keep the money in the locality. This ends up being a drain on the local economy. Since they're taking businesses away from the local stores, those stores go out of business. This results in a dearth of jobs in the community, and a drop in average income because now the workers are at Wal-Mart making minimum wage. This gives the consumer less money to spend and thus less money goes toward revenue, which hurts the community.

It's time to start looking beyond the few dollars and cents that you save by shopping at Wal-Mart and think about what's better for the economy. More money in fewer hands is good for the few who are getting the money, but bad for the nation as a whole. Spend that extra couple of dollars and make sure that people keep working.

What is victory?

When we invaded (sorry, liberated) Iraq, our intent was to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime, establish a democracy, and not leave until there was a stable bastion of freedom in the Middle East. A short time back, Congressman Murtha was criticized (later retracted) for demanding a withdrawal from Iraq. Now the Democrats are being accused of wanting to "cut and run" while the Republicans are accused of wanting to "stay the course," despite a lack of tangible progress in Iraq. Strangely, most of those spouting out on one side or the other have no vested interest in what happens in Iraq; instead, they care about spouting out party talking points and declaring the other side ignorant. While this is an admirable trait in some venues (here I'm thinking of a schoolyard with dares and double dares), it's extremely childish for our nation's leaders to engage in such behavior.

Now, in the wake of cut and run talk, often by people who don't really know what it means, we hear that the President intends a withdrawal of forces in Iraq next year. This after the Republicans criticize requests for withdrawal of forces by the Democrats. The Republicans defend this action by saying it was part of the plan all along to withdraw some forces after the elections in Iraq. I don't buy that, to be honest. If that were the real case, then the Republicans could have said as much immediately after Murtha's comments and scored a bit of a coup. Instead, they chose to engage in namecalling and deceit. Now, it's possible that the Congresspeople and republicans who engaged in such behavior didn't know about the plan, but if that's the case, then the Republicans can't now say "that was the plan all along."

So this means it's a victory for the Anti-war and Democrat crowds, right? Not quite. Calling for a withdrawal doesn't mean it's going to happen. That the President indicated he intends to withdraw some forces doesn't mean much, especially if the goals aren't met. In this case, substituting "an election and police force" for a safe, secure bastion of freedom is not a victory. It seems more akin to inviting disaster. Had we not gotten involved at all, exercised some more discretion before invading, then perhaps the Democrats could have claimed a victory, but that didn't happen.

I fear for Iraq after we leave. The situation there isn't as tenuous as many would have us believe - people aren't cowering in trenches every night praying that they don't get bombed. It is, however not as secure as it should be for our withdrawal. I'm afraid that what we've done, more than anything else, is set up a large nation in the middle east for a serious civil war, one that we can't prevent, we can only delay.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Random Trivia, Thanksgiving Edition

Every year, Americans gather together with their families to celebrate the bounty of the year and to give thanks for all that we have on the Fourth Thursday in November with a huge Turkey and all the fixin's, a tradition that started in 1621 with the Pilgrims, Squanto, and the Wampanoag Indians, right? Well, not exactly. We'll look at some of the history of the holiday today.

First, it's true that there was a day of Thanksgiving in 1621, but, it doesn't look as though there was one in 1622. The harvest wasn't as good, there were many new settlers that needed housing and whatnot. The Pilgrims probably weren't in the best of moods for celebrating.

Second, The First Thanksgiving most likely wasn't in November. It was probably much closer to the harvest in September/October. Anyone who has spent any time in Massachussetts in November would tell you it's not exactly the best weather for celebrating.

Third, the Pilgrims didn't call themselves Pilgrims. They called themselves Saints.

Fourth, The letters and journals of the time indicate that Turkeys were not the big ticket item. The colonists came from England, where the lords greatly restricted hunting, and thus most people had never had venison before. In the states, where deer was plentiful, venison was very prominent at the first Thanksgiving.
- So where did Turkey come from? It appears as though it was a product of marketing in the late 1800s. Turkey was a much more profitable than other birds, so the lobbyists advertised immensely, showing pictures of a family gathering around a table with a big turkey in the middle. It caught on, and the picture printers (Think Currier and Ives) followed suit, with pictures of Pilgrims and a big Turkey.

So, if there was no second Thanksgiving, how the the 4th Thursday become the day? Well, Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, after the victory at Gettysburg, President Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November. In 1864, after the victory at Antietam, they had another Day of Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday. In 1865, President Lincoln was shot and killed. President Johnson decided to follow the Thanksgiving tradition set up by President Lincoln, and it became the holiday it is now.

Everything is fine and dandy right? Not quite. You see, in the 1930s one year, There were five Thursdays in November. Since Thanksgiving had traditionally been the last Thursday, (usually there are only 4), this posed a problem. The lobbyists for the big department stores wanted Turkey Day to be the 4th Thursday, because it gave people more time for Christmas shopping. Traditionalists felt that this undermined the historical significance (unaware as to the actual history of the holiday), and pushed for it to be on the Last Thursday. There was some fallout from that, with some states going on the 4th Thursday, and some going on the last. Colorado had a Thanksgiving Week, and another state had 2 thankgsivings. Thankfully, Congress intervened, and passed a law in 1941 signed by President Roosevelt that established Thanksgiving as the 4th Thursday in November. And The Lions have been playing ever since.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

No Child Left Behind

A federal district court judge in Michigan today issued a ruling on the No Child Left Behind Act according to this article in the Detroit Free Press:

"U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Wednesday that had Congress intended to fully fund the programs it required in the law, it would have said so in the legislation."

Now, I'm just a second year law student, and thus not terribly well versed in the mores of Constitutional Law, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that if Congress is going to require the states to do something, they can't require the states to pay for it. In other words, if Congress wants to set up Federal Education guidelines, Congress has to provide the states with the adequate means with which to achieve those guidelines, which would mean funding.

The No Child Left Behind Act reminds me of Prinz v. United States, where the Brady Act required a waiting period before someone could buy a handgun, but then Congress required the states to employ someone to do the background check - a state official performing a federal job. Combine that with South Dakota v. Dole, which says that the Federal Government can apply incentives to follow a Federal standard, but they can't make the "apple" they dangle so much that the states have to rely on the funds, thus compelling the states to comply, and it seems as though No Child Left Behind is a healthy center, where it looks as though Congress is mandating compliance without providing means with which to do so. This strikes me as a blow against states' rights. Bad Decision by the judge, IMHO.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Were each day a hol-
iday, then rest would be as
tedious as work

OK, this is not an original, rather, it's a paraphrase of someone else. I want to say it's Shakespear, but I don't know for sure. At any rate, I don't claim credit for this poem, but I am the one who fit it into Haiku form, so I get some props.

"I once buried a man and it was good. I ate fully that day."

As we gear up here in the States for Thanksgiving (random trivia to follow tomorrow on point), it behooves us to remember those who are unable to engage in the annual gorging contest coinciding with the annual Detroit Lions Home Loss.

Kim Chol-Soo, a North Korean defector who survived the Yodok Prison Camp, gave a speech the other day where he reported that prisoners in the gulag received 21 ounces of food per day. He spoke of how 34 of his fellow prisoners were people who had tried to defect and another 82 were former senior beaurocrats. We talk about providing freedom and a voice to people over the world and decry WMD. North Korea has a distinct lack of freedom for those who aren't spouting the party line - Kim reported about one man who was tortured to death for trying to contact Christian representatives in China. They continuously discuss their nuclear development program. Yet, this regime is allowed to continue.

For a more in-depth look at life in North Korea, including the prison at Yodok, I recommend reading Aquariums of Pyongyang, Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, by Kang Chol Hwan, another defector. It's truly chilling.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What is it?

No, I'm not referring to the "charming" mascot from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Rather, I'm referring to White Phosphorous. You see, President Bush admitted recently that we used White Phosphorous as a weapon against insurgent strongholds last year after originally denying said use, according to this CNN article I found reading the Reaction. The debate in the Reaction turned on whether or not WP is, in fact, a chemical weapon. Considering we invaded Iraq based primarily on evidence that they had WMDs, which includes Chemical, Biological, and Radiological weapons, determining whether or not WP use constitutes the employment of a chemical weapon might be somewhat important.

Now, here's the kicker: In a recently declassified document, the Intelligence Community reported that in the war against the Kurds after the first Gulf War, Saddam Hussein "may have possibly used White Phosphorous (WP) chemical weapons." The above cite from a link at the Moderate Voice

So I guess it comes down to what the definition of is is in this scenario. I don't know what to say here. It strikes me as insanely irresponsible to decry the possession of WMDs and then use them against the person you claim has them. What will come of this, if anything?


I got home from my last class at about 9:30 last night (Thomas, class was fine. The Prof seemed to want to be out of there as quickly as possible). Being that I'd been at school for about 13 hours by that time, I was a little hungry. So I sat down at the table and had a snack. As I munched on my corn chips and queso, I noticed a piece of scratch paper on the table next to me. On it were the following:

62397 61723 56823
+ 2963 + 7213 +31359
64121510 68936 88182

Now, I know that that first answer is way off, but those other two are completely right. As impressive as it is, what's more impressive to me is that these were calculated by my 6 year old first grader. The boy is smart.

Monday, November 21, 2005

November 21, 1995

On the above date, I was in Seattle, wearing a red shirt and blue jeans, sitting in a MEPS station, along with over 200 other men and women. After most of a day of processing, we were taken in groups of twenty-five into a room with an American Flag, as well as the flags of every branch of the military (Marine Corps, Army, Navy, then Air Force). We stood in a makeshift formation while an officer entered the room. We all raised our right hands, and said:

"I, (our name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

A few hours after that, nine of us got on a bus to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where we loaded onto a plane and flew to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. After eight years of faithful service that resulted in my service in Operation Allied Force and service on the DMZ in Korea, among other places, I left the military, bringing with me the experience and pride of knowing I gave back. Service gave me a new language, three college degrees, travel around the world and the country, the opportunity to teach and to learn, and ultimately, a wife and three children I otherwise wouldn't have had. It also gave me the Montomery GI Bill, a $1200 investment that has provided (so far) almost $12,000 towards law school.

I still believe that military service is a good thing. I firmly believe that most Americans would benefit from it. I urge those who haven't yet served who are of age to consider signing up and seeing what it's like to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Speaking Out Against Alito

One large religious group has decided against supporting Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito. The Union For Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish organization in America, adopted a resolution that said Alito would "shif the ideological balance of the Supreme Court on matters of core concern to the reform movement" on abortion rights, women's rights, civil rights, and the scope of federal power, according to this article. I don't know how much sway this has, as this group has criticized the religious right in the past, but it shows that Alito won't be an automatic acceptance...

I thought it was the turnip truck?

A truckload of live turkeys fell off their truck in New Jersey on Friday in what a spokesman for the Jersey Turnpike Authority jokingly dubbed an "escape attempt."

This apparently is not the only animal-related traffic incident in recent turnpike memory. The article notes that last year, a tractor-trailer carrying 40,000 pounds of frozen chickens collided with a truck carrying sheep, killing twenty of the animals (the sheep, not the chickens).

It's interesting that these turkeys got off the turnpike a week before Thanksgiving, but I'm sure that's just coincidence.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Long Day

Today was one of the longer days in my law school life. I started the day as I do most Saturdays, at school at 7:30 to finish reading for DTPA (excellent class, though I'm not sold on the Saturday, 3 hour commitment). Then we have class. Due to the hurricane, and two other missed days for various reasons, we have had to cover extra material the last couple of weeks. This means a slightly more cursory examination of the material, and of course, more time between classes. We should still do all right though, for the final. I'm hoping for a B or a B+, but we'll see. Then, after an hour break where I got to see the first part of the Michigan/Ohio State Game (the most important game in College Football), I have to go upstairs for three hours of Federal Income Taxation. Now here's the strange part: I like tax. I'm not necessarily the best at it, but I like it. That being said, three hours of class at the heels of three hours of Deceptive Trade Practices Act material is not exactly what I'd consider prime Saturday Fare. I hung on for the first hour and a half of Tax, but after that, my focus was pretty much gone. I hate to say that, but, I was typing what he said, but there was no pause in my brain to process what the Prof was saying. I just hope I gisted well; I need to do well in Tax.

Then I get home and send my wife out to a movie, because, well, while I was spending 10 hours at school, she had all three kids, who were in rare form. She needed a break. So, she's watching Pride and Prejudice right now, starring the inimitable Keira Knightley, the kids are in bed, and I'm taking a break from the books. Have to unwind, after all.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Bad Joke

A man goes to a costume party carrying a woman on his back.

Several people inquire as to what's going on, "This is a costume party, what's your costume?"

"I'm a turtle."

"A turtle? What do you mean? You're not wearing a costume, and all you have is that woman you're carrying piggyback."

"Oh her? That's Michelle."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Kelo looming

Tomorrow, we will discuss the recent decision rendered in Kelo v. the City of New London, where the Court ruled that it was proper for the city to take private land for development purposes, and where some of that land would be resold to private corporations.

In Kelo, there was a massive redevelopment program proposed to renovate the city, which had fallen on hard times. The naval station had closed; the city's unemployment rate was double that of the state, and much of the land was in disrepair. On one of the parcels situated for the redevelopment project were 9 families who owned 13 lots. They sued against the taking on the ground that the land was being taken for private use, not public.

I'm having a hard time coming to a personal conclusion on the issue. On the one hand, I can see how a major redevelopment program that can revitalize an entire city and bring in new jobs to an area that has been suffering from a glut of jobs and in a state with limited land area available is an important thing and brings good to the mass of people. On the other hand, this is personal property. I'm very big on the concept of personal property and the right to own that property freely without fear of taking from the government, or anyone else. I don't know. What do you think?

Random Trivia

Thomas Edison felt that the one flaw in the telephone was that it had no recording device, so you couldn't keep track of what was said. Therefore, he spent years trying to perfect an answering machine-type machine. He failed, and his failure became the phonograph.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

President Bush on North Korea

President Bush is currently in Pusan (I know the current trend is to spell it Busan, but to an old school korling, that just looks wrong, as does Gyeongju, which should be Kyeongju), where he announced the importance of a showing of unity among Asian leaders to get North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. It should be noted that he mentioned the importance of patience. You see, North Korea agreed to halt its nuclear weapons program in the 1990s in exchange for help building a light water reactor for power, a bunch of oil, and a ton of food. We gave them food, and oil, and started working on a plan for a nuclear reactor, when it became evident that North Korea had NOT, in fact, abandoned its nuclear weapons program. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice mentioned that the jury was out on what the North Koreans were prepared to do.

Well, let's parse this out for a moment, shall we? North Korea has lost over 2 million people, population-wise, in the last decade or so. They repeatedly promise to cut back on their nuclear program in exchange for concessions, which we continuously make, and then break their promise. Every time there appears to be a major diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea, some crisis comes up (crab war, submarine incident, poplar tree, tunnels, etc.).

The case to invade North Korea appears to be much stronger in terms of stabilizing a region, removing a megalomaniac from power, and freeing an oppressed people. Yet, we don't invade. We don't call for UN Sanctions (although South Korea opposes the sanctions, so that is probably a big factor there). We don't cut off aid. Instead, we treat Kim Chong-Il as a bad parent treats a spoiled kid. We tell him, "I'm sick of you eating candy bars in the living room at bedtime" while handing him a Snickers while he's sitting at the sofa. It doesn't work with a 6 year old, how could it work against the leader of a nation whose people worship him and his father?

Kim Chong-Il needs to be out of power in North Korea.

Almost There

My stat counter is showing me very close to that wonderful 10,000 hit mark. For those of you who cannot read chinese characters, that thing that looks a little like a cursive "r" is a nine, which means, that as of posting this, I have 9,913 hits. Only 87 to go! Tell your friends! Invite your family! Come back often! The haiku and random trivia will continue, but ten thousand will only happen once!

Friday, Nov. 18, 2005 - I got on the computer this morning to note that I had 10,002 hits on my blog. As of this update, I'm at 10,018, and counting. Figures I'd be asleep for such a momentous occasion.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

"No thank you" is how
My daughter replied to my
"Clean your room." She's cute.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In ___ We Trust

Michael Newdow, the athiest lawyer who tried for years to ban recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, is now trying to remove the word "God" from our nation's currency. He claims it's an endorsement of religion and "excludes people who don't believe in God" according to this article.

Newdow's attempt to remove the Pledge went up to the Supreme Court, where he lost because he didn't have standing to represent his daughter, because he didn't have custody.

His argument for removing God from currency is that it's unconstitutional, and dismisses any claims that the reference is to the country's religious roots, "It's not the history that counts, it's patriotism. What it is, is these people want to get their religious views in our government."

Though I can see an argument against reciting the Pledge in schools, I'm afraid I'm missing the key point in removing God from currency. I can't see a harm in holding a piece of paper, or zinc, or nickel that has a word on it. I can't see that as an endorsement of any one religion, and I can't see it as trying to foist one's religious beliefs on another. This really sounds more like an extremist with an agenda who's not going to be happy until he finds some way to stick it to the system.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Rewrite, revisited

President Bush again attacked the Democrats today. This time, he accused the Democrats of being irresponsible. "Reasonable people can disagree about the war, but it is irresponsible of the Democrats to claim that we misled them and the American People," Bush said in prepared remarks that you can read here.

Point of order. The american people were misled. The President's admission through his National Security Advisor yesterday that we were wrong about WMDs in Iraq - the primary impetus for our invasion of the country - can stand as nothing less than an admission that the american people were misled by the President. What stands to be seen is whether the American people were DELIBERATELY misled. This would take Congressional hearings - something that the President doesn't want to see.

He doesn't defend his actions so much as he criticizes the Democrats for questioning them. He claims that it's dangerous for the soldiers who are fighting overseas to have Democrats (though he doesn't mention the Republicans who have asked for a Congressional hearing) making claims against the war. Apparently, what needs to happen is the Democratic Party needs to shut the hell up until the war is over (remember the end of hostilities some time back?) and give the troops unwavering support. The mindset is that we can't be critical of the leadership and demand accountability from one who's credibility is in the toilet while we have troops fighting a war that his leadership got us into because it might lower their morale. Pointedly, the troops' morale would be painfully lower (not to mention a ton of egg on our collective faces) if there were to be congressional hearings into the intelligence situation and it turned out that we were deliberately misled. Bear in mind that last part is a hypothetical, but consider the worst case scenario if it were the case.

I think the President is right on one part. Democrats should NOT be charging that the President and his administration deliberately misled us - not now. That is irresponsible and improper. What Congress needs to do is accept that the President admitted errors in intelligence and demand an inquiry into the situation to see what the truth is. Then, depending on what happens, history will be written. Anything that happens before an in-depth inquiry is premature.

As a closing point, I can't accept the President's line of the week that the Democrats are trying to "rewrite history." It was the President and his staff that switched tactics on invasion rationale from being primarily a WMD issue to a terrorism issue to a "make the middle east safe for democracy" issue. That is rewriting history. Mr. Kettle, meet Mr. Pot.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Remember Pete Rose?

Pete Rose was forefer banned from Major League Baseball for betting on games. He denied he bet on the games for years. Some time back, though, Pete made a confession, of sorts. He said that what he did was wrong. The comments he made, though, didn't resonate too strongly, because baseball fans across the country already knew what he did was wrong.

President Bush, through his National Security Advisor, admitted that we were wrong about the WMDs in Iraq. He also insisted that there was no disinformation or withholding of intelligence designed to mislead or deceive the American people. This confession, that Iraq had no WMDs and our intelligence was wrong is quite similar to Pete Rose. It doesn't help very much, because we already know what they're saying. It provides a scant bit of assistance to the credibility factor for the administration, as they are admitting that they did err, and chose not to change the story or the party line. For that, they deserve credit. However, that's only part of the equation. This is a necessary first step at damage control; there are many more that need to follow.

One good next step would be an apology to those Veterans whsoe service he forsook in exchange for a partisan speech last Friday. Somehow, I doubt that will come any time soon.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

How much do I love my wife?

I love my wife. I love her dearly. She is a wonderful woman who puts up with me on almost a daily basis. She works full time while I go to school. She watches the children during my evening classes. She does the laundry. She's pretty phenomenal. So, I'm going to help her out a little.

My wife sells Mary Kay cosmetics. Apparently, Mary Kay stuff is not too shabby. They sell makeup, body washes, spa kits, and gift baskets. All the guys out there who have a significant other this holiday season, the gift baskets are neat, and the women out there who might need something, she's got quite the collection. Take a moment and check out what she has. If you need something, she'd be more than happy to help you out!

OK, I've done my husbandly duty for the decade.

A time to attack

President Bush yesterday chose to attack those who question the decisions for going to war in Iraq, suggesting that they are undermining the war effort (and, presumably, less American). I have some problems with this speech he gave.

First, it was Veteran's Day. This is a day to honor, remember, and thank those who donned the uniform and defended this country. It was a day for ALL Americans to show their respect and thanks. The decision to attack one demographic on this national holiday suggests that President Bush, who promised to be a uniter, not a divider, has foregone that promise and chosen to pander to his partisan baseline. Personally, I'm offended by this decision and strongly disagree with the choice to attack on the day he did. He could have chosen any day for shameless politicking, and not detracted from the sacrifices made by the millions of Americans who have served over the years.

Second, his speech was inaccurate. He said that Congress had the same access to intelligence that the Executive staff had - hinting that Congress should look in the mirror before looking at the Commander in Chief. His statement is partly true. The overwhelming amount of information suggested that Iraq had weapons of mass destriction. However, as the holder of the intelligence information, the executive branch had exclusive control over dissemination of said intelligence. This means that Congress certainly did NOT have the same amount of access to intelligence as the President and his advisors had. It means that whatever they got was a selected group of information, not unlike a trial brief, showing the strongest argument for one side of the argument.

Third, the President suggests that Democrats are the only ones who want hearings into this, and suggest that they are trying to "rewrite history," calling such an act "deeply irresponsible." This conveniently ignores the Republicans who want inquiries, or who suggest there were problems. To dismiss those people are "RINOs" would be to further the rift that has grown at a clip faster than at any point in the last 20 years.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

This is a day for remembering. For thanking the millions of Americans past and present who have put their country before themselves and donned a uniform and taken up arms to defend it. This is a day to thank those who did what so many wouldn't do, or would do "but for" whatever reason. We're free today because these men and women were willing to preserve that freedom. As a veteran of Operation Allied Force, I would like to thank those who have served before me, including my father, both grandfathers, and my great grandfather, all of whom served during significant times in World history (Vietnam, WWII and Korea, and the Spanish American War). I want to thank my comrades in arms, for having the courage to continue to defend this country.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Random Trivia

Lord Horatio Nelson of the British Royal Navy lost sight in one eye. He was involved in the Battle of Copenhagen (April 2, 1801). During that battle, Rear Admiral Nelson received a signal from his commanding officer, Sir Hyde Parker, to stop the attack. Admiral Nelson heard about the order, then lifted his telescope to the eye in which he'd lost sight, said "I don't see anything," in reference to the order, and continued his attack. The British won the battle, and Admiral Nelson added the phrase "To turn a blind eye" to English Vernacular.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Let's pause for ten seconds for some shameless namedropping

I read on my friend heatherfeather's site a couple kudos she gave to some friends of hers and I quickly realized that the way to get friends is to pander to them. So, Heatherfeather, we at the binjo ditch think you rock.

Now to sit back and wait for the kudos...

Wednesday is Haiku Day

and a quick recap for those who are gunshy - A haiku is a japanese poem that follows a syllabic form. the first line has five syllables, the second has seven and the third has five. The trick is in how much you can convey in those 17 syllables.

And now:

On my kitchen hutch
I have a bottle of oil -
Pennzoil for my car.

As always, audience participation is encouraged!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Democratic Process

I'm pleased to say I voted today. It's not a Presidential or Congressional election year, but it was election day, and I got to vote for Mayor (who knew there were people running against Bill White, you couldn't tell by the campaigning).

There was a fairly important proposition on the ballot this year. Proposition 2 is Texas' attempt to add a definition to the Constitution that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Basically, the amendment would bar all gay marriages in Texas. I voted against the proposition, but it will probably pass.

Let me explain why I oppose this legislature:
1. I don't see how this really passes any equal protection standards. I've played the advocate and argued both sides from time to time, but right down where it counts, I can't see how this really is not an equal protection violation.

2. If we want to pass an amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, presumably it's because gay is a sin. If it's a sin, then won't God punish the gays when they die. It doesn't seem necessary to ban gay down here, as it seems on its face a victimless sin (you're gay to yourself; it's not like stealing or murder, which happens against someone else).

3. Texas already bans gay marriage. It's against the law in Texas for same sex couples to get married. This includes transgenders (a man who had a sex-change to become a woman and now wants to marry a man). If it's already against the law for gay couples to marry, why do we need an amendment defining marriage as an act between a man and a woman? It seems to painfully unnecessary.

Of course, the argument is that if the Amendment passes, then nobody can repeal the law; we'd have to repeal the amendment, which is more difficult. I just don't see the necessity of it. Much like tort reform, I think it's more geared for the lawmakers to say "look what we did," as opposed to actually doing anything.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Computer Problems

apparently, the notebook I own has a problem with the AC input on the motherboard. This seems to be a documented problem among this model. The company from whom I bought the computer no longer makes this model, likely due to this problem.

Anyway, the motherboard needed replacing, which left me sans computer for the last few days. It was kind of nice to be away from the computer; I didn't miss it nearly as much as I thought I might.

My delays in posting will probably continue though as we near finals. I need to make sure I'm ready for tests, so that I can get my dream job over the summer. So, I'll continue the Wednesday haiku and the Thursday random trivia, but the run of the mill posting might take a bit of a hit. bear with me, Winter break will be here soon!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Random Trivia

The phrase "Not for all the tea in China" is a misnomer.

China only grows about 10% of the world's supply. India supplies about 1/3.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Terrell Owens, football player for the Philadelphia Eagles, injured his ankle and is unsure as to his availability for upcoming games against the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins.

I don't laugh at injuries, especially ankle injuries. I broke my tibia and fibula at the ankle and dislocated my foot 9 years ago. It's not fun.

However, sometimes reporting injuries can be.

"[Eagles spokesman Derek] Boyko confirmed [the ankle injury] was on the same right leg he broke a year ago ..."

Seriously, was the adjective "right" completely necessary there? How many right legs does any human have? ahh, humor.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

On this Halloween
It rained and poured but the kids
still dressed and got loot.

I look forward to your contributions

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

One Small Step For DeLay

Rep. Tom DeLay and his attorneys succeeding in removing the sitting judge in his trial. The rationale his attorneys argued was that Judge Perkins' contributions to democratic candidates (that's allowed here in Texas) might create the appearance of a bias. His attorneys are still trying to get the trial moved from Austin, "one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas."

I can't say that I disagree with the removal of the judge. Even though judges are supposed to be impartial, we know that in practicality, it's mostly impossible to be completely impartial (I commented on this yesterday), and a judge who contributed to MoveOn.Org presiding over a case in which Tom DeLay is a defendant is rather similar to an NRA member judge presiding over a Brady case.

I don't buy the argument that the trial needs to be removed from Austin though, especially if the rationale given is taht it's "one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas." If the premise is that he wouldn't get a fair trial because Austin is liberal, then how could they reasonably argue that he'd get a fair trial in any Republican-controlled county? Reading between the lines, it appears what he wants is to be in a place where his acquittal is closer to a guarantee, whether he's guilty or not. I do think, however, that whatever the outcome of his trial, he's veering very close to OJ/Jacko territory, where he'll be viewed as guilty in the court of public opinion regardless of his culpability in the instant case.


This month marks the ten year anniversary of my enlistment in the Air Force - a move that made me what I am today. I thank the Air Force for helping me get where I am, it's a program that can benefit many people, the armed services, I mean. Try it, you might like it.