Thursday, December 31, 2009

Funiculi, Funicula

It's the end of the year.

Sorry for the dearth of posts, though I can see that my audience is rather smaller recently, too.

The computer's been acting a bit hinky lately, and as such, we've been wanting for internet access for a while. I've just (sort of) fixed the wireless, though it's unsecured now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

For the Rest of Us

Happy Festivus!

I got a lot of problems with you people*




(* in this context, "you people" refers to the discourse/level of maturity in this country)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What is it about mornings

that make my kids not want to get ready? I think it has something to do with their not being happy until I'm sufficiently angry.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kudos to Bill

I'm not a big fan of Bill O'Reilly, but he deserves credit for dressing down Laura Ingraham here for being unable to accept a compliment directed at the First Lady:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/yglesias-award-nominee-3.html#more

Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Biblical Trivia

Noah invented wine.

Friday Afternoon

So we got the afternoon off of work today - it was nice. We didn't get bonuses this year - that wasn't so nice. Still, we work for the paycheck and the internal reward, not the bonuses, right? After all, I don't have benefits or insurance or profit sharing or any semblance of job security...

I sometimes wonder if being a school teacher would somehow be less stressful, but I think it's more the grass is greener syndrome. I'm generally in a bit more of a cantankerous mood in the Christmastime, anyway...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Like having a Kidney Returned

For the 3 of you who still occasionally view this blog, you'll be happy to know that I have gotten my computer back, which means that I have the ability to waste a few moments of your time with my drivel from time to time again!

The holidays are wearing on me. I'm tired, I'm irritable, and I am ready for time off. How are you?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Nearing Christmas

We had brunch yesterday with the Photogs. It was rather fun, and a habit that needs to happen more often. I've still not got my computer back - not that I'm having withdrawals or anything.
Oh, and I still hate CSI Miami.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From the Urban Dictionary

Misogynist. - a man who wins an argument with a feminist.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday

So, my first day off since returning from Rome and I start the day by working. I only put in a couple hours, though so it wasn't too bad. Then off to run errands. Had to drop off the laptop for a diagnostic and see if we can get it up and running again. Then to the Korean market to buy some bulgoki fixings for the party tomorrow. After that, I had to run to the mall to get some books for the kids to take to school, a couple gifts, and then to Kroger for some groceries. I also bought a new desktop computer today, which should be delivered by mid January.
It'll be nice to have. What a day off.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Busy week

Discovery is due on our case tomorrow. As such, we have been quite busy with discovery. Depo cuts took a lot longer than the powers that be anticipated. I have worked no less than 12 hours per day for the last 8days, and really have been worn down. The wife has been phenomenal with watching the kids and holding down the fort.
Our laptop died this week, which made work somewhat more difficult, and puts us in the market for a new desktop. I'm looking to upgrade - it's been nearly six years, we're due.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sorry for the Absence

But discovery's due on Friday and we've been cranking in the overtime to try to get it all done.

I should have more time next week.

And while I have nothing against Time Tebow as an individual (he seems like a class act and carries himself well, and really, who wouldn't want him as a captain on their team?), I'm so tired of hearing about Florida and Urban Meyer that I'm glad to see them lose. Even to a Nick Saban team.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Afghan Surge

The parts of President Obama's speech that I heard last night (I was working and helping deal with kids) sounded much like President Bush's surge speech. I'd considered copying and pasting my post on his surge here, but instead decided I'd just echo my thoughts then - I referred to it as "hopeful pessimism."

I do hope the surge works to create some stability in Afghanistan, and I hope that it will give us the space to be able to withdraw safely and with some dignity - a la Nixon. But I'm unconvinced because we're dealing with a country that does not appreciate foreign influence and who has no stable centralized government.

I believe the invasion of Afghanistan was justified - more so than the invasion of Iraq (which the President had the authority to do based on the 1991 AUMF and subsequent cease-fire), and I think it's important to do our best to create some stability out of the mess we've helped make through several years of neglect and half-hearted commitment. For that, I am hopeful.

We'll see how it goes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Last Episode of Monk

Will be playing this Friday. It saddens me to think that this show will be over, as I think it's one of my favorite shows on television. Clever writing, good characters who you like (though I'm not terribly fond of Natalie's new boyfriend - I'd kind of hoped that she and Monk would end up together, though that was always a long shot), and stories that more often than not required a little thought to figure out.

Fortunately, I have several seasons on DVD and we also have Psych to keep us occupied, so while there will be a void, it won't be quite as big as it could have been.

Also available in Rome

At the Castel Sant'Angelo - Nutella Pizza. We did not partake.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

At Least One Republican Has the Guts to Tell it Straight

One GOP Senator has openly called for the Health Care Reform issue to be delayed. Senator Luger of Indiana has said that it's more important to figure out how to pay for Barack Obama's plans for Afghanistan and thus we should consider shelving health care reform.

For anyone who's been paying attention, it's clear that this has been one of the GOP's central plans with regard to health care from the beginning. After announcing over and over during the previous election cycle that health care was in "crisis," they decided to delay, bitch and moan. and shout vitriolic rhetoric over the past year to avoid giving any honest debate on the matter or allow health care reform to come to an up or down vote - the very same thing that they hoped the farce of a Supreme Court candidate Harriet Miers deserved (I agree that she deserved a vote, but truly believe that any serious politician would vote no on her candidacy, though given the number of Republicans in Senate at the time, that doesn't mean that she wouldn't have been approved). Not that Republicans would be hypocritical about something (and yes, I know Democrats are hypocrites as well - they're politicians - but there's something about the holier-than-thou approach to governing that Republicans took during the Bush administration that is in opposition to how they act in the minority.

Anyone looking for a serious political party to follow needs to look away from the GOP.

Sunday Afternoon

I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow. A week off was rather nice. I'd like it to continue, but I also like getting paid.

More on Rome

So, while we were on our trip to Naples and Pompeii, we were fortunate enough to find another couple, a husband and wife who work for the WHO in the Congo. Great couple, lots of fun and good conversations all around. This was the couple with whom we had dinner at Ristochicco twice (totally recommend, if you haven't figured that part out yet). Apparently, during one of these dinners, Jim and I got to discussing where to go on vacations for next time. They were planning on Greece, while I have been making tentative plans to try to take the kids to England in a couple years (good place for a first trip overseas inasmuch as they have English-speakers there).

Somehow during the course of dinner, Jim and I managed to agree that we would go to Spain next summer. Not just Spain, but Pamplona. To run with the bulls.

I still am not entirely sure how we came to this agreement, but I think it's already planned.

The spouse was nonplussed, apparently.

It's No Exaggeration

To say that there's plenty to see and do while in Rome. Fortunately, the city is very compact, and you can get to most of the sites with relative ease just by walking. We spent 2 full days in Rome and managed to get to most of the big sites without too much worry.

The Pantheon was the wife's favorite site. It's hard to disagree, as the building is just astounding. It's dome is as high as it is wide, and has been used for multiple religious activities over its existence.

I don't know that I could say what my favorite was, as there was just so much to see there. I did enjoy Hadrian's mausoleum/Castel Sant'Angelo (the castle is built around the mausoleum), as it offered a tremendous view of the city. We managed to get there after dark and saw the city as it was lit up for the evening. That said, the Colosseum and the Forum were both pretty amazing, as were the city walls. The artwork in the museums of the Vatican, including the Vexullum Regis (rumoured to have pieces of the Cross in it) were unbelievable. The detail found in the frescoes and sculptures were beyond what one might seem possible.

We didn't get to the Borghese Galleries, which is somewhat unfortunate, as I understand the artwork there is also tremendous. And we missed out on Trastevere, and most of Campo dei Fiori. But what we did see was pretty amazing. Piazza Navona was chock full of painters hawking their wares, some of it rather nice, but nothing we were going to spend money on. The fountains there were pretty interesting, though not as spectacular as Trevi Fountain. Another set of fountains that were really interesting were the Quattro Fontane, which we happened by on accident. The detail in these wall fountains were also somewhat spectacular.

It was a very interesting trip, and one that I hope to make again someday, perhaps with a little more time to move around and see things (and a little more cash, too).

All Right

I really need to start sleeping in past 4 a.m. This is rather annoying.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pray for President Obama

I would suggest that those who don't particularly care for President Obama should pray for his safety as well. Like him or not, just like President Bush was, he is our President. This is why it concerns me that the "Pray for Obama Psalm 109:8" T-shirts have been made and sold.

The verse by itself ("May his days be few; may another seize his position.") seems somewhat benign, but the intent behind it is anything but. The entire psalm can be found at this link, but for those who aren't much for clicking links, an extended portion of the prayer reads:

Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor. Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children. Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

I first heard about this prayer, known as an Imprecatory Prayer about 2 years ago. The context in which I first heard it was that it was being invoked by a Baptist Minister (a Reverend Drake) against Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU). The reason was that he felt that AU was an enemy of God because AU "asked the IRS to probe the tax-exempt status of Drake's congregation. You see, generally, churches are tax-exempt, which carries with it the burden of not being able to campaign for political candidates. It turns out that Rev. Drake issued a statement endorsing Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate," (from my post linked above).

The problem then, as now, is that the concept of imprecatory prayer is being misapplied. The original intent for imprecatory prayers are to ask God to intervene against His enemies. There is no call in the prayer for enemies of individuals, and there's no evidence whatsoever that President Obama, himself a Christian, is an enemy of God.

While I can only speculate that the majority of people who would purchase this are members of the Religious Right, or the Right in general, it seems likely that these would be the individuals who came up with the idea of putting this clever little line on a t-shirt. This is interesting, because it wasn't too long ago that this group of individuals (the Right) had among their number people who openly called for sedition trials for those who opposed the President or his policies (see comments), or advocated sedition against the Democrats. I remember very clearly reading several comments on blogs that I followed where individuals were calling for sedition trials for anyone who opposed the Iraq war or other Bush policies. My question, then, is why would this type of act not be considered a form of sedition? Or do First Amendment rights only apply when it's a Republican or "Right" individual doing the talking? (FTR - I believe that the idea of protected speech is a good one, and don't advocate sedition charges, but think the hypocrisy is astounding.)

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this is that this type of inflammatory rhetoric by itself might seem shrewdly humorous, but the concern for me is that, much like what happened with Dr. Tiller's murderer or Charles Guiteau, all it takes is one person to determine that it was his calling to carry out this action to really wreak havoc, and I think that this lack of foresight by the makers of these shirts is appalling (and if that's their plausibly deniable intent, then its downright evil and nothing my God would ever approve of).

Friday, November 27, 2009

When in Rome

Eat at Ristochicco. It's at Borgo Pio 186, between the Vatican and Castel Sant'Angelo. The place is outstanding, and a terrific value. It's quite easy to overspend while in Rome, particularly on the food, but this place will fill your belly with some of the best food I've ever tasted (the gnocchi was phenomenal) and fill your heart with some very engaging and kind service. This place was fantastic, and without question the best meals we had in Rome (we ate there twice, we enjoyed it so).

I would also suggest trying La Famiglia, near the Terminii on Via Gaeta. It's a good restaurant, though it seemed more of a tourist place to me. Still, their pasta was very good, in my opinion. I had a stuffed tortelini in a great cheese sauce. All things considered, quite good.

And while we were there, I found that I wasn't as hungry as I tend to get at home, though I was moving a whole lot more - we walked like it was going out of style. Plan on lots of hills when going to Rome, and streets that are not terribly smooth - they pave with basalt cobblestones called "sampietrini" by the locals - literally "Little stones of St. Peter." You'll be tired at the end of the day, but you'll have seen quite a bit.

The Day After Thanksgiving

I can now say that I'm no longer going to root for the Packers as long as their current head coach is the head coach. Challenging that play with just over 2 minutes left and a 20 point lead was bad form. You've got the win, there was no sense in that challenge but to try to pad your lead/stats.

I ate entirely too much last night. It's been a long time since I've overeaten like that, but it was Turkey day, and the wife makes an outstanding turkey, as my kids will agree.

I think exhaustion from the trip set in last night, as I fell asleep around 6:30-ish, and really didn't move after that. I feel a lot better this morning, though I've already been up a couple of hours.

All things considered, I've had a good week, and I think the kids really enjoyed spending the week with their grandparents.

I'll post a bit about Rome here shortly, but to satiate you a little, here's a picture of the Colosseum:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wine in Rome

I'm not a big fan of wine, generally speaking. I more or less stopped drinking several years ago, however, I do occasionally imbibe - a glass of beer from time to time. I can't exactly say why I never developed a taste for wine, but, I think it has something to do with the reds and whites that I drank. They always had a bitter taste with them that I couldn't get around.

While we were in Rome, though, I tried a few different house wines. Far and away, the best house wine that I found was called Villa Cervia. This was a house red that we had at the fantastic Ristorante Ristochicco, at Borgo Pio 186, just between the Vatican and Castle Sant'Angelo. This wine was quite smooth, with no bitterness that I could detect at all. It drank easily, and tasted terrific with our meals there. While I've looked on the website, it doesn't appear that we would be able to pick up a bottle here in Houston, though that would be nice. We do have one bottle that we brought home with us, and perhaps we'll use that to ring in the new year.

Random Trivia, Happy Thanksgiving Style

I first posted this on Thanksgiving in 2005.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

We just got back from Rome, and the trip was fantastic. I didn't eat nearly as much as I thought I would, though what we did eat generally was fantastic. The walking will get your legs in shape in no time, as there are hills all over (yes, I'm aware of the Seven Hills). I'll write more about the trip here shortly. Today I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On blogging

I'm losing my motivation lately. I miss the days of respectful disagreement with another's position. To my recollection, I've not targeted a private individual on a post, though I have been critical of some politicians and Sarah Palin. While more often than not my take on a topic has met with polite discourse, there have been enough ad hominem assaults to sour my taste for this. That I have less time than in days past to devote to a regular contribution of better-suported posts and my comments have been wanting of late,leads me to my thought that perhaps it's time for a break. I don't think I can quit altogether, but I feel the urge to submit my time as I had. We'll see what happens after my trip.

What do these religiously-motivated terrorist acts tell us?

What do these religiously-motivated terrorist acts tell us?

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

This is a day for Veterans. It's a day to honor and pay respects to those who have served, and are serving. It's not a day for politics, for politicians, for political speeches. It's not a day for divisiveness between parties, as Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and many others serve and have served. It's not a day for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Hindus, Athiests, or Agnostics, as all of these religious beliefs (or disbelief) are represented among those who serve or have served.

Let today be filled with honor for those who have sworn to defend this country and our way of life. A day to celebrate the freedoms that we enjoy because of the liberties these men and women have sacrificed, including, for far too many, trading their lives for ours.

To those with whom I served, those who served before me, and after me, to my Father, my Father-in-law, my brothers-in-law, my grandfathers, my great-grandfather, thank you for your sacrifice. Two days a year are but reminders - your service is appreciated every day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

11 Days

And then we'll be in Rome. I'll try to remember to take pictures. I know you'll want to see them.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

CLE is Done

I've finished my hours for the year. And I've gotten a pretty good start on next year's hours (I've done 2.5 and have another 3.5 paid for). I just need to sit through another 3.5 hours tomorrow and I'll be in pretty good shape.

Things like this give me the desire to do one of those CLE cruises in the Gulf - get out in the water and enjoy my mandatory hours.

My wife asked me what I want for our Anniversary. I'm taking her to Rome. I'm not sure what else I need/want.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Three kids and dad

At James Coney island. Good dinner. Wife working late. I'll be working tomorrow

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Brwakfast

I prefer ihop to Denny's, but Cliff's is superior to both.

A Small Victory for Consumers

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an en banc hearing on Stormans v. Selecky, according to this article from Religion Clause Blogspot. This is the case ruling on whether or not a law passed requiring pharmacists to hand out prescribed medications regardless of whether it ran in controversion to their religious beliefs was kosher.

The Court basically denied an en banc rehearing, but did authorize a rehearing by the panel, which reached the same conclusion it did before (in a nutshell - the law is not unlawful, nor could any reasonable person believe it to be).

The allegedly aggrieved pharmacists' argument is that by forcing them to hand out prescriptions they disagree with (i.e. the morning after pill), then the State is forcing them to violate their religious principles. This, as I've mentioned before, is a load of crap. The state isn't forcing these pharmacists to do anything. Rather, the state is giving them a quid pro quo - you want the license to dispence phamaceuticals and make the copious amounts of money associated therewith, then you agree to obey the laws of the state and follow the requirements set out for you. If you don't want to do what the state (who dispenses the licenses) asks, then you don't have to do it, but you will not be able to dispense drugs.

Again, the state isn't forcing the pharmacists to do anything. They knew when they got involved in the pharmaceutical business what that business would entail (the Birth Control pill, condoms, and other prophylactic devices were available long before the current crop of pharmacists got their start), and they knew that their job included dispencing said items. Just because a new form of birth control doesn't jibe with what they decide is ok does not make it all right for them to ignore what is required of their job.

You don't like it, do something else. Period.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

trick or treat

My wireless is on the fritz. Joy. But we still can get a couple things done. Just about time to change some money.

Yglesias Award Nominee - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Good on the president. Yglesias Award Nominee - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

mmm, scones.

Twenty days. I should probably start thinking about changing some money to euros.

Happy Halloween

Trick or treating here we come

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And not that I'm counting or anything,

But in 22 days, I'll be on a plane crossing the Atlantic with my beautiful wife, who I plan to bring back at the end of the trip. Probably.

Some Things Confuse Me

Like how, in the face of all that has happened over the past 14 months, people can still think Sarah Palin is Presidential material? These must be the same people who think "I could be President." Much like you or I thought when we were 20. Except some of us get a larger grasp of things as we get older...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Interesting story in the San Antonio News Courant - apparently a man is going to trial after being arrested earlier this year for malicious mischief at Sea World. He reportedly took a Sharpie and drew all over the dolphins at the dolphin tank. His lawyer's statement makes it look like his defense is going to be an accidental occurance - he claims his client "didn't do it on porpoise."

Advocating Holy War?

That seems to be what Ross Douthat was advocating in his recent NY Times Article that was lambasted by Glenn Greenwald here.
Glenn writes:

It's obviously true that some Islamic extremists are inherently incompatible "with the Western way of reason," but that's just as true of Christian extremists and Jewish extremists and a whole array of other kinds of extremists. And some measures taken in the name of accommodating Islam are in tension with core liberties -- just as laws enacted in order to impose Judeo-Christian dogma are.

But the claim that Islam itself -- and the world's 1.5 billion Muslims -- cannot be accommodated by, or peacefully co-exist with, Western values or Christianity specifically is bigotry in its purest and most dangerous form. It's hard to imagine anything more inflammatory, hostile and outright threatening than a call for Christians of all denominations to unite behind the common cause of fighting against Islam as Christianity's most "enduring and impressive foe." No more "conciliation" or appeasement. What, exactly, does Douthat have in mind for vanquishing the Islamic menace from Europe? What weapons will this "united Anglican-Catholic front" employ against its reason-hating enemy? Which "accommodations" of Islam exactly should cease?

Read the whole article, and read Douthat's first. But understand that this is a dangerous opinion - "Muslim Extremists are bad." "Some Muslims are extremists." "Therefore we must wage war against all Muslims," and ask yourself how this is compatible with Jesus' teachings ("Love your neighbor as yourself," "Turn the other cheek," "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," etc.)?

BTW, Glenn's updates show western Christian examples that are not necessarily compatible with "the Western way of reason."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Anatomy of Propaganda

Mudflats dispels some myths being perpetuated via e-mail about Michelle Obama, particularly with regard to staffers, and the source of the myth.

You might be surprised to find out the source is a hardcore Christian Conservative...

Where did the Month go?

I turn around, and it's Oct. 27. In 4 weeks, I'll be waking up in Rome on my anniversary, enjoying my last full day in Europe (hopefully just for this trip, not for ever).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Lions didn't Lose

Of course, they had a bye this week, but still - small victories.

Very tired. Another busy week ahead of me.

Cocacola update

I've now gone 9 days since I've switched to Diet Coke, and I've not cheated yet. I may have cut down my caffeine intake slightly, as well (it's possible, but it wouldn't be by much). My Coca-cola habit was pretty bad, I'd say generally speaking I have cut about 900 calories a day from my diet by switching from Coca-cola classic. That's over 2 pounds fewer calories over the past 9 days (though I don't think I've actually lost 2 pounds).

I have also changed my diet a little (it's a slight change, not a "diet"). I am doing the Subway for lunch thing - I walk through the downtown tunnels to the subway by Beck's Prime (best burgers in Downtown, but definitely expensive) and I get a six inch sub from their "Low-fat" menu. I do still get cheese on the sub (so it's not the "less than 6 grams of fat"), but not the mayonnaise, oil, or vinegar. I also am only eating a 6 inch instead of the foot longs that I used to have.

Dinner I do the same. For Breakfast, I'm actually eating a little now, instead of purely a liquid breakfast. I don't know how much help that is, but it's probably better than nothing.

At any rate, I'd venture to say I've managed to cut close to 3 pounds' worth of calories from my diet by making these little changes. If that's the case, then maybe I'll be a little trimmer when I fly out in 26 days.

Friday, October 23, 2009

It's the Constitution, Stupid!

A bill to cut off all funding to ACORN is unconstitutional. A bill to deny funding to any contractor who works with the DOD who denies the right of rape victims to sue in court for their injuries is constitutional. These are different situations.

The difference is key - one (cutting off funding) is designed to make illegal actions that affect ONE entity - ACORN. This is called a bill of attainder and is expressly prohibited in the Constitution. The other (allowing rapists to sue their rapers) effects ALL entities that would contract with the government and is perfectly legitimate. It doesn't make actions that happened before the bill illegal - that is to say Jamie Leigh Jones still won't be able to sue Halliburton or her rapists (alleged) over her ordeal. That would be unconstitutional as an ex-post facto law. But going forward, unless Inouye gets his way, then future injuries of this kind would be viewed in court. It doesn't require that defense contractors quit putting rape arbitration clauses in their contracts. Rather it says that defense contractors who don't take these clauses out will not be able to contract with the government. (He who pays the piper calls the tune).

I've been having troble with embedding video recently on here, so I'm going to direct you to Glenn Greenwald's site, where you can watch a video of a congressman being educated on what you would hope he would already know (though he's a Republican congressman, so perhaps ignorance of the Constitution is allowed?)

The unconstitutionality of the Congressional GOP's ACORN obsession

The unconstitutionality of the Congressional GOP's ACORN obsession

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Four Weeks

Until my trip. I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I'm taking the wife to Italy for our anniversary. I'm kind of looking forward to it.

At home, all seems well. At work, we're rather busy.

And this is my seventh day Coca-cola free. I've possibly made the successful switch to Diet Coke, which, if I calculate correctly, is saving me about 900 calories a day. I've not changed my eating habits other than to eat less - with less fat - during lunch. I eat the same amount at dinner.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday is Haiku Day

It's been four long months
But, in just thirty more days
We're going to Rome!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Making the Switch

I quit smoking in 2003 about a day or two after passing out on the interstate feeder road while taking the family to Chuck E. Cheese's. While the passing out certainly played a role in the quitting, it wasn't "the" reason I quit. It was time.

I firmly believe that when it comes to quitting something, you need to be physically and mentally ready to quit, both on a conscious and subconscious level. I think there are several people who "want" to quit but are not ready and therefore their attempts to quit will not be fruitful. Once you're ready to quit, though, then it is rather easy - you essentially just stop.

I had a similar situation happen to me yesterday - I made the switch from regular Coca-cola, which I've had virtually every day since 1995 (and a whole lot before that, as well, but '95 was the last time I stopped drinking it), to diet Coke. While I don't expect merely making this switch is going to result in my losing copious amounts of weight, I do think it will help stem the tide of weight gain I've been noticing over the last couple of months.

I still need to exercise more (I looked at Bikram yoga, but I'm a little too Middle Class Midwestern at heart to make that plunge, especially at $140/month), and might start running in the mornings, or something to get on the way down...

But it's a start.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Friday

And I wouldn't mind grilling tonight. Though it depends on the weather.

Definitely have to cut the grass this weekend.

And we missed the second Sunday - so may need to try to get in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Photog...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fear and Governning in Austin Texas

Some of you may have already heard about the Cameron Todd Willingham case. In a nutshell, Willingham was convicted of arson and murdering his wife and children in said arson. Since the conviction (which Willingham maintained his innocence), and even during the trial, where he turned down a plea offer for life in prison, new evidence has come out suggesting that the fire was NOT arson. This new evidence led to Willingham's attorneys asking for a stay of execution for their client. In fact, they submitted a request on the day of Willingham's scheduled execution at 4:52pm. At just after 5pm that same day Texas Governor Rick Perry stated that he wouldn't intervene. Willingham was executed about an hour later.

There was to be an inquiry into the execution of Willingham, particularly to the question of whether or not the State of Texas executed an innocent man. The board was set to convene, when Governor Perry fired 3 of the panel members (including the chair). The new board, with a chair appointed by Governor Perry consequently cancelled the hearing. Governor Perry has now canned a fourth member of the committee (he can only remove four, the remaining five are appointed by other state officials). Governor Perry has essentially stated that the inquiry is unnecessary because he's convinced Willingham is guilty. As Publius wrote in the article linked above,

Of course, his motive is fairly clear. Perry contributed to the execution of an innocent person. And the formal recognition that Texas executed an innocent man would trigger a massive political earthquake -- one that would clarify to an inattentive public the utter barbarity and immorality of Texas's criminal justice system.

So yes, I can understand Perry's motives. But it doesn't change the fact that he is acting in a profoundly immoral way. The whole thing reminds me of a banana republic dictator clumsily covering up his crimes.

But in addition to making me mad, I'm hopeful that this story will change some "hearts and minds." Specifically, I hope that social conservatives (particularly in Texas) take some time to reflect on the implications of the fact that Texas executed an innocent person -- and that Rick Perry is trying to cover it up. It's hard to think of something that more directly contradicts the "culture of life."
The problem in this instance isn't that the Death Penalty exists. While I am reluctant to advocate its use, I believe that its presence in and of itself does serve as a deterrent. There are enough criminals who manage to lead very productive lives even in prison and enough violent crimes that take place in prison to suggest that merely putting someone in prison for the rest of their life might not be sufficient as a deterrent, and the presence of capital punishment as a possible sentence might affect actions that otherwise might have occurred. The problem comes with its utilization - in order for it to be defensible as a sentencing tool, it needs to be rare and reserved only for the most clearly brazenly guilty.

No, the issues isn't with the existence of capital punishment, rather the issue is with Governor Perry's brazen cover up of his mistake. He knows that he did something completely and utterly indefensible and he's trying to deflect attention. He has gone on the record stating that he believes Willingham was guilty, so the execution was justified. However, the key piece of evidence of the murder (the arson) has been called into legitimate question by renowned arson experts such as Austin forensics expert Gerald Hurst and Baltimore Forensics expert Craig Beyler, and Governor Perry doesn't want this information getting out. This cover-up is what is at issue. As far as I know, nobody is calling Cameron Todd Willingham an angel - they're merely stating that he likely didn't commit the murder for which he was executed - he was innocent. He was not convicted of any other heinous acts, and to execute him for reasons for which he wasn't convicted laughs in the face of our criminal justice system and our Constitution. He may have been a "monster" as Governor Perry refers to him, but that doesn't mean he was a murderer. And an inquiry that could have brought this to a final conclusion has been quashed by the person who could most benefit from its potential conclusion.

Kay Bailey Hutchison (a gubernatorial candidate) piles on in an eerily partisan manner.

About Freaking Time

Orly Taitz has been sanctioned by a judge for her outrageous refusal to accept that President Obama is actually president and her "clients" don't have "standing." A federal judge in Georgia slapped her down, saying (quoted from the article linked above): "The absolute absence of any legitimate legal argument, combined with the political diatribe in her motions, demonstrates that Ms. Taitz's purpose is to advance a political agenda and not to pursue a legitimate legal cause of action," and, "[that while Taitz's speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution,] the federal courts are reserved for hearing genuine legal disputes, not as a platform for political rhetoric and insults."

Orly Taitz claims that this sanction is just an attempt to intimidate and make her stop. She's half right.

My Two Cents' on Obama's Peace Prize

I agree with the sentiment that it's premature. I also agree that President Obama's not done enough (e.g. investigations into violations of laws of war perpetrated by the previous administration or under its watch, continued policy of preventive detention, etc.), though he's done a bit.

What I think, more than anything else, is that his name was the one placed on the award, yet the award was for the American people, who elected to remove a blight from office (yes, he was on his way out anyway, but we could very easily have chosen John McCain, who basically vowed to continue with Bush's techniques), and we chose to look a different direction. I think this was our award, rather than the President's, and it speaks to how the international community views us on the leaderboard.

Like I said - it's my 2 cents' worth - so it's not too profound, maybe I'll expound later...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obama's Administration - continuing the wrongs of the Bush Administration?

They're the Worst of the Worst, right? Check out Andrew Sullivan.

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"Sarah Palin" has arrived

"She" did the Run to Nowhere!
As much as I can't stand these stupid "I can haz" posters, this one made me laugh.


From Obsidian Wings, who posted this poster with some commentary on what led to President Obama's nomination/win (it wasn't for what he did, it was what we as a country did in electing him after 8 years of the alternative - though imho the jury is still out on just how much better President Obama has been/will be on indefin

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homemade Chicken N' Dumplin's

I have been very tired lately. Listless, almost. I think some of it has to do with work, and some of it has to due with the season change, and some of it has to do with the seeming lack of an outlet for myself. I've lost a lot of my motivation to blog, and I'm worried about time for other activities, such as bowling or something to that effect.

But I do have a good dinner waiting to be eaten. I have some solace there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Saturday Morning

And I'm sort of watching football. I'm somewhat tired - it's been a long summer.

I haven't read the new Conservative Bible yet, though I have seen a couple suggested amendments - use "Liberals" for "Pharisees," etc.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

"Objectively Pro Rape"

That's the headline given to the Balloon Juice post where I found the link to this Think Progress article. The article discusses Senator Al Franken's bill amendment that was recently voted on: "Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) proposed an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR 'if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.'" This amendment stems in part from what Think Progress reports as a gang rape of Jamie Leigh Jones, who was "prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration."

The amendment passed Senate Vote by a vote of 68-30 with Senators Byrd (D) and Specter (D) not voting. The 30 nays?

NAYs ---30
Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Apparently, for these Republicans, it's ok for contractors to go overseas and help in the fight to defend our constitution from the menace of those marauding insurgents that we created, but it would be ghastly to allow the employees of these agencies the benefits guaranteed by the Constitution...

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Liberal Bias

It's infected religion! That's why there is such a huge faction of the Religious Left!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Boy What a Weekend

I didn't do nearly as much as I could have. I'm beat. Just completely exhausted. It's been a busy, strange week at work, not so much with me, but with co-workers. It could have been much worse, though.

We're having Shrimp Boil tonight - there is little in the world better than a good old shrimp boil.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Huskies and Wolverines Lose

It's a bad weekend for fans of storied football teams.

So I got my finger checked out

I have had this sore on there for about 3 months, and didn't think much of it - it kicked up last year for about a month then went away, and I figured it would do the same thing this year, however it didn't.

3 months and much cajoling later, I finally yielded to the lamentations of my wife and co-workers and went to get it checked out. Let me first say that I was not terribly impressed with the clinic at which I was seen. The wait was over 2 hours just to get in to the room, and then another 25 minutes after that. I saw a Nurse Practitioner for all of about 3 minutes, who looked at my finger, didn't know what it was, and decided to give me steroids and antibiotics. I don't feel at all uneased about this situation.

Still, I'll take the medicine and hope it all clears up for my trip to Rome in 48 days.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Apparently, there's not much Michele Bachmann won't say in the interest of being heard. Here, she preys upon the concerns of the pro life crowd with the absurd notion that Health Care reform will mean that your kids are going to be getting abortions at school while you can do nothing about it. Never mind that there's nothing in any proposed bill that would say that, or that Federal and State laws requiring notice would still apply, we need to make the most outrageous, Beck-esque statement we can think of so that we can really fire up the opposition. The link below is from The Moderate Voice.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

The more that comes out, the worse it looks

And the former president KNEW, and Dick Cheney KNEW, and the staff knew, and they all knew they were torturing an innocent man -unconscionable.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Fifty-one more days
Then we fly to Rome - what an
anniversary!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

52 days and a wakeup

Until we fly to Rome.

Be jealous.

Words Fail

Someone is now in print openly advocating the overthrow of the President via military coup...

When did this kind of talk become acceptable? I understand the option is there if a leader decides to hijack the country, but outside of wingnutville, rational people see a rational president making rational (if not always popular) decisions.

Warranless wiretapping, indefinite detention, torture and the alleged referring to the Constitution as a "goddamn piece of paper?" - fine and dandy. Attempting to dig the country out of massive debt the result of 8 years of deficit spending, decreased oversight, wild speculation and government expansion the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Great Society - coup-worthy?

First read on Balloon Juice.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Directelevising

I'm currently sitting at home while the satellite guy is upstairs installing our satellite service. We finally broke down and got a service (it's only been 6 years). While it will be nice to be able to do crazy little things like watch college football, the History Channel, ESPN, TLC, CBS, ABC, and PBS, I don't particularly care to spend $30/month to do so. Still, it's probably time we had something to watch other than Fox, NBC, and 30 Trillion Bible networks.

Anyway, maybe now I can see what the big deal is about The Daily Show - apparently Jon Stewart might be kind of a liberal???

Friday, September 25, 2009

Big Pharma

They have their hands in just about everything - and they consider anything to be a marketing opportunity.

These companies hire "authors" to write "articles" about their medicines, touting the efficacy/effectiveness of the drugs while minimizing the side effects that might come out. They then publish these "articles" with the backing of the "authors'" name recognition highlighting the positives. The problem is that these "authors" don't write the articles, rather company-paid ghostwriters do. What ends up happening is a 6000 word article written by pharmaceuticals with data-mined information pulling one or two positives from a study and skewing the results in favor of the company paying for the article.

This isn't a new development, though it's arguably a more recent one. Here's a blog post from January 2008 discussing issues with a published article from 2006 highlighting data-mined information. This is but one example, and if you look, you can find several more.

Let's hope Sen. Grassley is serious about his inquiries into this major effort to advertise through "information."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I hadn't heard about this in the news...

First off, it's unfortunate when anybody is found dead, but the facts that are known at this time according to this Huffington Post article, is that a 51 year old Census worker and part-time teacher was found hanged near a cemetary in southeastern Kentucky, and reportedly the word "Fed" was scrawled on his chest.

The FBI is investigating the matter and have reportedly ruled it "an apparent homicide," but haven't given any more details.

As Dougj at Balloon Juice writes, it's too early to jump to conclusions, though it does seem interesting to speculate what would be on Rush had this happened to a census worker in New Orleans or Detroit... If one taped incident of a fight on a school bus (that turned out to not be racially motivated) was the result of "Obama's America," then with the same limited facts in this situation, couldn't Rush just as easily say that this type of violence against the Federal Census is the result of Bachmann and Beck's America? I prefer to wait until we know what's actually happened, though the MSM blackout of this incident might keep that from happening...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Not OK

I know exactly what the congresscritters in MA are doing, and it's not right. You don't play games with the electoral process just for the sake of making it easier for one of your own to get back in office. Here's the post on Balloon Juice.

It's Fall

And we're not a socialist Muslim Fascist nation yet.

Clearly the tea partiers saved us.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Very Very Tired

The good news is that we got to eat lunch with Mr. and Mrs. Photog and Photog's sister today - a very fine lunch indeed, climaxed by a visit to Mama's Cafe by the Oath Keepers - who were a little unsettling to see, as they reminded me ever so slightly of what I imagine a militia group might be (I don't know the Oath Keepers at all and therefore can't speak to what they actually are, rather I can touch on the appearance). Much fun was had by all.

Then I got home and started working. And working. And then I took a break for dinner and am going to start getting back to work. These collections are not pleasant, to say the least. And they just keep coming.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Utter Nonsense

The headline reads "Palin Emerges as Facebook Phenom" on Yahoo. I am unconvinced, after seeing her first post and hearing her speak that her subsequent posts are written by her, and believe, rather, that they are the work of a ghostwriter.

Arrhhh, and Avast!

It's talk like a Pirate day, ye Scalawags! Now go and plunder!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday night

I'm tired. It's been a long week, and I had to bring work home again. This is probably going to continue for the next 2-3 months, which brings me endless joy and plenty of stress.

I'm definitely ready for this trial to be done, and it's not even starting until early next year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rush and Malkin: Race Baiting politics

Regardless of what the facts are. It's more important to vilify and divide than make even the slightest attempt at being factually accurate.

Rush states:
"In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on... I wonder if Obama's going to come to come to the defense of the assailants the way he did his friend Skip Gates up there at Harvard."
I won't link to Malkin, but she runs with the "racially motivated" theme, and then claims that the police officer's recanting of his original hypothesis is not surprising "given the explosive consequences of candor about such matters." - Because it couldn't POSSIBLY be because the more complete picture told a different story...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Very Tired

Gotta make up for a holiday and a sick day last week. This, plus drying out the living room carpet, finishing the lawn which I couldn't finish yesterday due to the flood that caused the aforementioned carpet to be covered in water, and having to reconnect the propane to the grill - this is what I need to do this week.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fiscal Conservatism Lives in the Democratic Party?

I have not gone to check these facts, but they are pretty complete - from the comments section of this post on Forbes.com:
The last Republican who left the office of the presidency with the federal public debt as a percentage of GDP less than when he entered was Richard Nixon (FY 1975). The last Republican who left the office of the presidency with a federal deficit less than 2.7% of GDP was Dwight Eisenhower (FY 1961).

Since WW II no Democratic president has ever left office with the federal public debt as a percentage of GDP more than when he entered. And since WW II no Democratic president has ever left office with a federal deficit more than 2.6% of GDP.
And:
In my opinion, fiscal responsibility mainly involves reducing the public debt as a percentage of GDP. (Anything less is unsustainable.) Since the end of WW II we've had 63 Federal budgets (FY 1947-FY 2009). If you consider the FY 2002 budget the product of a united Republican government (a Republican congress passed the tax cut) and FY 2003 the product of a divided government you have the following breakdown. Thirtynine budgets were the product of a divided government with 31 having Republican presidents and 8 having Democratic presidents. Twentyfour budgets were the product of united government with 19 having Democratic presidents and 5 having Republican presidents.

The Federal public debt increased as a percentage of GDP in 24 of those fiscal years.(It did not increase during the transitional quarter in 1977.) Eighteen of these budgets were the product of divided government and the remaining six were the product of united government. So although 38.1% of all of the budgets were a product of united governments only 25% of the budgets which resulted in an increase in the public debt were the product of a united government. It seems if reducing the public debt is your goal, then a united government is at least slightly preferable to a divided government.

The worst possible combination is a united Republican government. Three out of the five budgets passed by a united Republican government (60%), an admittedly small sample, resulted in an increase in the Federal public debt as a percent of GDP. The next worst combination was divided government with a Republican president. Eighteen out of 31 budgets passed (58.1%) increased the public debt. Only 3 out of the 19 budgets that were the product of united Democratic government (15.8%) increased the public debt. And none of the 8 budgets passed by a divided government with a Democratic president increased the public debt.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More Class from the Right

I'll link to Andrew Sullivan here, becauseI don't want the images on my blog, but it's hard to make an argument that ignorance or bigotry isn't playing a role in the hysteria surrounding President Obama.

I'm aware that there are those on the Right who don't view life though hate-colored lenses, but they aren't the people are showing up to Glenn Beck's rallies...

Can someone give me a cogent argument in favor of an alternative to the current healthcare plan being discussed? Please? Instead of Nazi equivocations (again - they were wrong when said about Bush, they're just as wrong when said about Obama.

Can't watch the Wolverines

Because we don't have Cable and President Bush signed that stupid freaking digital law back when he first entered the White House. Tomorrow I'll be forced to watch Fox for football. Joy.

Stay Classy, Glenn Beck

Hey Right Wingers, why do you listen to this guy? From Politico, via Andrew Sullivan:


The Cat's Out of the Bag

So I've been planning, for the past 3 months, to surprise my wife for our anniversary in November.

What I had told my wife was that we needed to take a vacation around Thanksgiving and drive up to Indiana to spend Turkey day with her parents. We'd spend about a week there, catch up on old times, etc, etc. I had hoped that this carrot would be enough to convince her to ask for 4 days off before Thanksgiving. This way she'd have to think about packing and clearing time and whatnot.

Unbeknownst to her, though, I had conspired with her parents. What we were REALLY doing was that while my wife was getting ready to drive up to Indiana, her parents would really be coming down here. At the last minute, I was going to tell her that we had had a change of plans and that instead of going to Indiana, she and I were going to Rome for our anniversary. Her parents would be here to watch after the kids for those few days we'd be gone, and everyone would be happy.

With her parents' help, we booked a flight, hotel room, and two tours, one a walking tour of Rome and another day trip to Naples and Pompeii. I'd basically thought of everything (including the idea of driving to Indiana thus necessitating the concept of packing). Unfortunately, due to circumstances that were beyond my control, yesterday I had to tell her of the plans. I'm proud to say she was completely in the dark (the in-laws willingness to front the cost of the trip with my reimbursing them later was a big part of that), and since we've been working on this for 3 months, I'm particularly excited about our operations security. However, the secret it out, and while it would have been nice to see her excitement when I told her, it was also very nice to hear her voice when she found out.

So, we'll be in Rome this November. Let me know if you need anythign that I can fit in my carry-on (I don't think Gladiators will fit).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sick Day

I can't remember the last time I missed work due to my own illness, but it happened today. I feel awful, congested, nauseated, upset stomach, headache, fever... This is not much fun.

What's worse is that when I'm laying down, I feel fine, but if I get up, within about 20 seconds, I start feeling like crap again. Stupid colds.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Off to work

Have a great day, and remember: "Some days you win, some days you lose, some days get rained out, but you have to dress for all of them" (Satchel Paige).

The President's Speech

I thought he did pretty well. He managed to make a case that made sense, though I disagree with tort reform (if you want to lower the number of medical malpractice cases, then commit less malpractice - you know, eliminate the source).

I also agree that the cat calls during the appropriate calling a spade of a spade with regard to "death panels" was in bad form, as was Rep. Joe Wilson's shouting of "liar," though I'm sure that will make him a hero to many on the Right.

What do you think, oh 4 of you left who stop by?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Another GOP Flip-Flopper

Apparently, Sarah Palin was for end-of-life counseling before she was against them (of COURSE it's a good idea when it comes from a Republican and death panels when suggested by a Democrat-controlled congress)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama's Speech to the Children

It's innocuous - except to a few super-paranoid Right Wingers. The speech can be found here, which I found at this post at Balloon Juice.

Laura Bush noted that it's important to let your children hear the President speak, as she noted - it's important to respect the President. I made a slightly different statement, which I view as a little more accurate, in that I believe that it's important to respect the Office of the President - whether you like him or not, he was the duly elected Chief Executive.

I heard Newt Gingrich this morning stating he thought every American should let their children hear the President speak, noting that Bush and Reagan both addressed children directly without the backlash we've seen directed at our Democrat president.

My children will listen, and they will determine for themselves what information to accept and what to reject. I think it's important for them to hear the President speak to them directly - it helps instill a sense of ownership in our nation to know that our country's leaders think enough of them to do so. I would think that would help raise a future generation of proud Americans.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Speaking Engagements

Next weekend, on Sept. 12, one of the expert witnesses from Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District will be in Houston. You can read the details on this post from Americans United, but to add a bit to who she is here - she's a "co-author ... of Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (Oxford University Press, 2004), which details the political and religious aims of the intelligent design creationist movement."

It should make for an interesting discussion.

College Football Season

And already Oklahoma fans are disappointed.

On a related note, the family and I went to see the UH Cougars play last night at Robertson stadium. It was a blowout win against Northwestern State. I rather enjoyed the college atmosphere, though, and wouldn't mind seeing another game or two. Though I do wish (sort of) that I had a school to which I had a "vested" interest, like most of my friends with undergrad degrees.

I still kick around the idea of getting a teacher's certificate at (say) Rice or UH, and parlaying that into a teaching gig in the local school district, though I would be willing to bet that my near center viewpoints would be viewed as left fringe...

There are some advantages to teaching, though - I would take a bit of a pay cut, particularly with the absence of overtime, but I would have fixed (and much fewer) hours, I'd have the summers off, and I'd have the advantage of job security - plus benefits - you know, government provided healthcare. Additionally, there would still be time for me to get some use of my law license - drafting wills, POAs, other such items...

I don't know how seriously I would consider a switch like this, but it's fun to kick around the idea - having summers off would make vacation planning much easier.

Friday, September 04, 2009

This is just embarrassing

That's the only word I can think of to describe the divisive nature of the current Republican party - the talking heads on the radio and television are riling up the ignorant masses about a threat of President Obama going after the children to try to indoctrinate them into his socialist agenda, like some sort of evil pied piper.

Of course, these same people didn't raise a peep when President Bush implored our nation's children to support the war in Afghanistan or the clusterfuck of mangled "facts" and rhetoric that became the "liberation" of Iraq...

Nor did I hear anything in 1991 when President George H.W. Bush addressed the children, of course, I was in school then, and wasn't aware that I had the opportunity to choose to not listen, just as in 1988 when President Reagan addressed us about the importance of education, low taxes, and the line item veto. (Much of the information provided above is covered in this post at Salon.com).

What's more embarrassing than the fact that the governor of our state is "troubled" by the President of the United States addressing American Citizens is that many people are actually going to NOT allow their children to hear the address, because they're afraid he "might" use it to spout left-wing, socialist rhetoric, and we can't have that happen to our children. God forbid a dissenting opinion be heard, another viewpoint be allowed to be conveyed - discourse is dangerous for democracy, apparently.

This makes me ill.

This is most unfortunate news

According to this post on ESPN.com, Ernie Harwell, the radio voice of the Detroit Tigers for so many years and a fixture in Detroit since long before I was born, has an inoperable tumor near his bile duct - he has terminal cancer.

I don't know that there's a Tigers fan around that isn't familiar with Harwell and his memorial play calling. This is a sad moment for me - a piece of my childhood is becoming a memory, and I'm going to have to watch it happen.

Godspeed, Ernie.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Absurdity of it All

I'm not sure how to respond to this other than say that this came to me just hours after my wife heard griping on Fox News that the President "might use this time to use the children as a conduit to push his platform":

On Tuesday, September 8th, 2009, the President will address school children on the importance of education. It will be broadcast live from the White House website, www.whitehouse.gov. at 11:00am central time. [REDACTED] will be showing this address during advisement time at 3:10 p.m.

If you request that your child not participate in this broadcast, please send a note to your child's teacher and your child will be provided with an alternate activity.

A hard copy of this message will also be sent home with students on Thursday, September 3rd.

Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or concerns.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dreary Posting

I've been in a bit of a rut lately, and I don't see myself breaking out of it anytime soon.

At some point I'll be inspired to write the next great work of blog, but for now it's probably going to be piecemeal.

To give you some interesting reading material, though, I present you with this post at Obsidian Wings displaying the fallacy of Cheney's argument that because Kalid Sheikh Muhammad gave us information after he was tortured, then the torture was what made him cooperate. In a nutshell, it would be like saying that since all serial killers drank milk at some point in their lives that the drinking of milk made them serial killers.

Additionally, my good friend Just Wondering at Vim and Vinegar has a good post here calling out the attorney general for his recent (in)action.

Glenn Greenwald has a very important post here about the recently released torture memos (note that Dick Cheney ended up back on the TV just a week after these new pieces of information came out - this is not a coincidence).

Any of the links on my blog are well worth checking out - but I wanted to bring a couple to the forefront today. Good day, and good reading.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stupid liberal media

Chris Wallace, A Teenage Girl Interviewing The Jonas Brothers - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

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Going to the Zoo

There's only so much Conservative pundit/politician defending of torture I can take, and the kids need a day of break.

We'll share our experience later, I'm sure.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dinnertime

Just wanted to let you all know, Psych is a really good show.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Morning

It's a tough thing to wake up realizing that you're not happy with your job, you have few people there with whom to relate, and you're tired of driving 2 hours a day to go do it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy is Dead

I don't think I have any real emotion here. It happened.

I've also had a very busy couple of days, which might have played a part in this... (lack of emotion, not Kennedy's passing).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Let's see if they can get it right again

I posted, nearly two years ago, on Activist Judges attacking Christianity in California.

Fortunately (he said sardonically), the Supreme Court has the opportunity to fix this snafu, by hearing the case and engaging in blatant judicial activism by legislating from the bench and ignoring stare decisis, and can reverse this opinion once and for all.

Barry Lynn of Americans United has filed an amicus brief in favor of the removal of the cross and continued adherence to the 1st Amendment barrier between church and state (plus the bill of attainder that would benefit the constructors of the Cross in question.

I encourage you to click on all the links above to see what the hubbub is.

Hyperbole and Rhetoric

John McCain is part of it. Of course, in the world of the Republicans, as this provision has been taken out, even if it was "ambiguous," it's old news, and thus doesn't warrant discussion.

new phone

So I have a new phone. I picked up a mytouch 3G for T-Mobile. It's rather nice, but I'm still figuring out the bells and whistles.

For example, it's apparently equipped with adobe flash, yet I've been unable to figure out which plugin I need to download in order to play flash...

More later, I'm sure.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I got Nothing

So I'll post a quote from a very evil person, but the quote seems apropos: "The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

They've Got Moxie, if not Facts

From TFN Insider:

The religious right’s tactics seem to have become ever more extreme in the past year. Today an organization with the credible-sounding name of The Center For Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) used the Christian Newswire service to blast out a press release suggesting President Obama is a deranged murderer of “preborn children.”

Of course, it's not really Religious Right unless it has inflammatory rhetoric:

“Americans don’t want to pay for mandatory insurance which defines baby-killing as ‘essential care.’ They are turning against ‘end-of-life’ counseling which is more coercive than consultative. It is becoming increasingly clear that this horrifying plan is designed to reduce the numbers of preborn children who could ruin their parents’ careers and the numbers of elderly parents who might spoil their children’s retirements.”

And Group Director Greg Cunningham has apparently encouraged supporters to send e-mails with an image of Barack Obama made up as the Joker (which is fine, in and of itself, I suppose), but they apparently have adapted it somewhat to include a bloody hand holding a scalpel over a dismembered fetus, clearly not interested in rational dialogue, but rather relying on carnal, gutteral imagery to create discomfort in those who view the debate contrary to their position.

I don't completely understand what it is about the anti-choice crowd that they so often have to rely on this gimmick to try to make their point instead of coherent, rational debate. I suppose it's akin to those who were deeply moved by The Passion of the Christ - it has to be as basic and primal as possible to evoke the strongest emotions in hopes that (perhaps) by making people just uncomfortable enough, they will change their position. But I digress.

I don't understand groups like CBR, and I disagree with their methods. It would appear that in this instance, they are more interested in vile rhetoric than a frank discussion of the facts, a trait that more broadly applies to many on the Religious Right.

Wednesday is Haiku Day

Five more days until
School starts and daycare expense
drops dramatically.

- not that we're counting.

As always, I look forward to your submissions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sherlock Holmes and the Crucifer of Blood

Great show. I mean, outstanding. Good dialogue, excellent acting, terrific pacing... you could hardly ask for more in a play. The play itself was based on the Sign of the Four, the second Sherlock Holmes mystery. However, it wasn't the same as the story, it took just enough of a turn to make it a different story (an enjoyable one) and keep you from the direct answer.

Todd Waite, who has impeccable comedic timing and a countenance similar to Jim Parsons (Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory), was perfectly cast as Sherlock Holmes, but then again, all the roles were very well cast.

The show is done now - they're moving on to the next play (whatever that might be - I can't recall at this time), but should this show make a return to Houston, I think I would find a way to see it again.

The next play I want to see is The 39 Steps. Cross our fingers.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

All the World's a Stage

At least, the Alley Theater is. Tonight we get to see "Sherlock Holmes and the Crucifer of Blood," which I understand to be a version of the Sign of the Four in play form.

I'm looking forward to it. And I'll be sure to let you all know how it came out.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Insomnia

I just realized that, what with NFL preseason kicking in, for the next few precious weeks, even the Lions are still not mathematically eliminated from the playoff race.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Question That Needs to be Answered

The Republicans, through their leadership both in Congress and on the airwaves, have come out overwhelmingly against "Obamacare." They don't deny that health care reform is necessary, they simply oppose anything the Obama camp proposes (even stuff thrown in there by Republicans).

I think it's a fair question to ask "What is their alternative? What do they propose instead? If you don't have an alternative solution, then why not work with the administration to figure out a reasonable compromise?"

As far as I can figure, the opposition's position is "we don't like anything proposed by the Democrats, but rather than try to come up with our own ideas, we're going to to oppose this until it's in the dirt and then use the fact that there's been no health care reform as a launchpad for the midterm elections." Am I wrong? Other than saying "this isn't right," what else has the Right offered?

So confused

I just watched a 6 minute clip of a Fox News interview posted on Andrew Sullivan's site where the reporter was harassing the White House spokesman about the request the White House issued for e-mails with questions about Health Care reform be forwarded to the White House where these questions can be answered with the facts about Health Care reform.

The Fox News spin is that this is an enemies list, and the reporter made a pointed effort in using the phrase enemies list several times throughout the interview, even after this idea had been refuted by the spokesman.

The question then moved to "are you keeping these records of e-mails" that you claim aren't an enemies list (leaving the doubt in the mind of the listener)? The spokesman then answered in the negative, adding "why would we?" This led the reporter to castigate the spokesman, noting that there's a law in place that prohibits the President from deleting records he received (planting seeds of nefariousness), apparently forgetting the millions of deleted/lost e-mails from the Bush administration, which, to my knowledge still haven't been recovered...

The whole interview was a transparent attack on the White House and a specious implication that the White House is assaulting our 1st Amendment/Civil Liberties rights. The same rights that didn't matter too much under the previous administration (remember the poo-pooing of the warrantless wiretaps?) are apparently being "assaulted" by a request to answer legitimate misconceptions about what is being proposed. Strangely, it would seem that the Fox News interview is more geared towards silencing the reformers from getting their message out with an attenuated claim on loss of 1st amendment rights, as opposed to what they are claiming.

I would put the interview on here, but I don't want to give Fox News any more bandwidth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wednesday is Haiku Day

"Attorneys serve at
Pleasure of the President"
But don't piss off Rove.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Don't Take My Private Insurance Away!!!!

I don't want the government setting up death squads and killing babies and old people! I know it's going to happen because Obama is a fascist and only Sarah Palin truly understands the health care debate - she understands it so well, I'm not even convinced she's read it. Unless she's just outright lying (could it be?)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

School Days

So we got a letter in the mail from the Boy's intermediate school (5th and 6th Grade). Essentially, it's a welcome letter explaining what the school is like and a few tips and whatnot.

On the back page is listed a dress code. Two things struck me: 1. no "satanic" shirts and 2: No shirts with obscenities on it .

These two issues are a little problematic because as I understand it, it makes the school dress code Unconstitutional. Let me explain: first, the district is banning "satanic" shirts, however, no mention is made of a restriction of "Christian," "Muslim," "Jewish," "Hindu," or shirts of any other religion (satanism is a religion). In other words, the state (via the public school district) is adopting a policy that disfavors one religion over all others. This is a clear violation of the Lemon Test, the three prongs of which are: 1. a legitimate secular purpose (I'm not certain what the secular purpose of this might be), 2. a pimary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion (this CLEARLY inhibits religion as it's an outright ban on one religion), and 3. te statute must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion (which it probably doesn't). In order to be a legitimate code, the rule must pass muster on all three prongs of the test. Just by plain reading of the code, and then of Lemon, it is painfull obvious that this rule is violative of the 1st Amendment.

The second issue is a little less of an issue, and may very well be just fine. We know that a student's Constitutional rights do not end when they enter a schoolhouse, but we also know that a student's Constitutional rights are not as encompassing as a public citizen's outside of school. That said, it's been ruled in Des Moines that a student may wear an armband in protest, and we know that Bong Hits for Jesus resulted in a suspension upheld by the Supreme Court with Chief Justice Roberts writing the opinion (surprise - he supported the State!). It's possible that this is entirely kosher, but it's likewise possible that my child can wear a shirt with political speech that might be protected.

Of course, neither I nor any of my family to my knowledge is a practicing satanist, and I doubt that anyone in my family is going to wear a shirt that says "Fuck the End of Days war in Iraq entered into by President GW Bush" to school, but that's not the point, really. The point is that these rights need to be protected for those who DO want to do so, or who DO believe the way they do.

Anyway, what do y'all think? Particularly with regard to the second point, which is much fuzzier in my mind as to its Constitutionality...

Ahh, that Liberal Media

If it weren't for them we'd never hear anything from Republicans (except through blogs, like below).

Such as Sarah Palin's new diatribe against President Obama's Healthcare Reform.

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
Nowhere does she point to an actual section of any proposed healthcare bill that would subject ANYONE to this (it doesn't exist), but what's more surprising is that thousands of people will hang on her every word as though it's gospel, even when she's spouting a rejected "Outer Limits" story plot.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Unrelated Thoughts

I'm unconvinced that Paula Abdul won't be back on American Idol - she's very popular among the fans and the performers, and the show's ratings have been slipping the last couple of years. Having a mini-scandal about whether or not she's going to return is just the ticket they could use to have people talking about the show during the lean months that nobody is thinking about it. I would not be surprised in the least if she comes to some agreement at the 11th hour and the show is "saved."

Michael Vick is out of jail and is reportedly looking for a team to play football for. Roger Goodell has given him partial reinstatement and will reconsider full reinstatement to the NFL after training camp. I'm surprised (very) to not see Vick get suspended by the league. He was convicted of a felony - of raising dogs to fight, and of violating state laws. On top of that, when asked about his complicity by Goodell, he denied any involvement. In other words, he lied to the boss. That in and of itself, even without the conviction should be grounds for suspension. I don't buy the canard that he served his suspension while he was in prison - he was suspended by the league then, he was serving his debt to society, these are not concurrent acts. He continues to owe a debt to the league, in my opinion. I'm not one of those guys who says he shouldn't be allowed back in the NFL at all - though I don't particularly want to see him making the millions he made before the conviction. However, I do think that it's inconsistent to reinstate him with no suspension given the league's recent history of suspending all players convicted of crimes.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Conceding the Argument, Cont'd

Glenn Greenwald again - Rush Limbaugh comparing Obama to Hitler and Pelosi to Nazis

How anyone can seriously listen to Rush and consider him legitimate about anything is beyond me.

I don't expect the same level of outrage and noise denouncing Rush that the Republicans heaped on MoveOn.org back in 2004, but it SHOULD be there.

Is This Even Possible?

We know that President Bush is a born-again Christian, and that he depends on his faith to guide him. These are laudable, and there is nothing inherently wrong with this position.

What is wrong is this article from the Council for Secular Humanism.

I'm not even sure where to start with this. Let's consider this paragraph:
Incredibly, President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.
The article continues:
Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
This is disturbing on several counts. First, it's that the President seems to believe that the End of Days are occurring on his watch and that it's his duty as a Christian to cast out the evil that is the sovereign state of Iraq. Even more concerning is that he apparently used this belief as the crux of his argument in attempting to garner support for his invasion of Iraq. But perhaps the most confounding of this is that this was never mentioned as one of the "justifications" for the invasion to the American people back in 2003, thus denying us the opportunity to see how his faith "guided" him.

This was all reported by former French President Chirac, who confirmed it, according to the article linked above. While this hasn't been confirmed by the Bush White House, and I doubt it will be because of the hyper level of fanatical nonsense involved, perhaps an actual denial from Bush and company might be necessary to at least give a counter-point - though with all the other "reasons" for the invasion holding no water, it's unlikely a denial will ring terribly true.

And the religious Right, who are attempting to vilify President Obama as a Muslim now, were all up in arms about his connections to (Christian) pastor Jeremiah Wright. Wright is a loudmouthed boor, but to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't attempted to convince anyone that he is on a mission from God to relieve the world of Gog and Magog.

The Reporters in North Korean prison

While I am happy to see them released, and bemused that Bolton is criticizing the means by which we secured their release, I must say I think the point that people need to remember is that these two reporters illegally entered North Korea willingly and knowingly, aware of the reputation of their "hosts." They brought their fate upon themselves, and really owe President Clinton et al more than they will ever realize.

The coup of all this is not that North Korea is going to get some sort of quid pro quo out of this - that was going to happen regardless as we weren't going to let these two young women sit in jail for over a decade no matter who was president. No, the coup was that they were stupid enough to go into North Korea and give this nation of syphillic leaders leverage to negotiate. A stupid voluntary act by Americans that makes those we purport to be our enemies some power at the bargaining table.

At least this time the idiots were just journalists and not the Executive Branch.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Bush-Nixon ideal

Nixon and Bush both made little secret of their desire for the Supreme Court - "Strict Constructionists" who would only participate in judicial activism when it suited their interests, not others.

I wish I could remember right offhand who said it and what the exact quote was, but someone once made a reference to the importance of several mindsets on the judiciary and how reaching a majority in such a manner was very important.

What we see right now is evidence of single-mindedness, particularly with regard to the Bush-appointed justices, Roberts and Alito, who according to the National Law Journal, ruled with each other in 92% of the cases heard by the Court last year. These same two justices also ruled with Justice Scalia 87% of the time.

The voting records for the justices are all (un)surprisingly high along the idealogical lines, but there is clear evidence that the triumvirate stick together...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Rare Glimpse - Birthers in Action!

See how they act here!

Ahhh, good times

John McCain - where would we be without him? The man who supported President Bush through his 8 years of executive branch power grab, who NOMINATED SARAH PALIN for Vice President, and who still came exceedingly close to the office of the President, just showing how well-oiled the Republican machine is... is undecided on Sotomayor because he's not certain she understands the limits of judicial power...

I'm not certain Senator McCain understands the limits of Judicial Power, but more importantly, I'm concerned the Senator McCain is seemingly more interested in constraining the mythical "activist judiciary" than he is in containing the aggressive federal expansion that took place during the Bush administration - the USA PATRIOT Act, the 4th amendment violations, the unitary executive theory, the premise that a sitting president could order the crushing of a child's testicles if he (in his own counsel) determined it necessary for "national security," the holding of non-combatants as "the worst of the worst" indeterminately with no trial, no access to the evidence against them, and not even a charge - even AFTER they've been cleared of any wrongdoing (sometimes before they were detained by us, even), the record deficits in a period of growth, etc.

But we gotta watch out for that activist Bush-appointed (Bush 41) "wise latina." She's going to destroy the country.

"See? He's Failing!"

That seems to be the message that the Republicans wanted all along - that Barack Obama was a partisan who wasn't *really* interested in cooperation. In fact, it's the message Senator McCain spouted on CNN, according to this Politico article.

Now, granted, I've not been paying 100% perfect attention to the goings-on in Washington, but what I have noticed is that the Republican Party's goal appears to be "reject ANYTHING President Obama puts forward regardless of merit or need so that we can undermine his claim to be bipartisan." The stark difference between this and the previous administration's position of "you're either with us or against us" is confounding.

It's come to the point that I have a hard time believing I could ever vote for a Republican again on the national stage, because it seems very clear to me that they are only interested in making others look bad, while the actual result is that they appear the whiny, petulant, petty children who think that Sarah Palin was a good choice for VP.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Worst of the Worst

Except when they're innocent. The Bush Administration was a pox. Read this Glenn Greenwald article. I can't summarize - too ticked.

Happy Birthday Enoch Eller

I don't have much today.

But I do have money again - yay payday.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Gotta draft some Wills

I will be drafting at least 2, one medical power of attorney, and possibly 2 living wills.

Can't wait.

In other news, I'm about ready for a barbeque, y'all are invited.

To the "Birthers"

What proof is going to be sufficient? The birth certificate has been produced and reviewed by an independent panel. The State of Hawaii has gone on record affirming it as true and correct. The Supreme Court denied cert on a challenge...

My guess is there will never be sufficient proof for this particular brand of numbskullery. I think this is going to persist until he's out of office, and even then there will be whispers.

Get over it. There are several legitimate reasons to malign the president, such as his shameful embrace of Bush administration detention tactics that this trumped up tripe is a total timewaster.