Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Pope Gets a Feeding Tube

From the Vatican: It appeared that the Pope has been complaining about being uncomfortable, something associated with the insertion of a feeding tube which is quite common. According to a reliable source the Pope smiled and added another comment, patted the physicians arm and bowed his head. It took some time to understand what he had said, understandable under the circumstances; it was later found that the Pope had indeed complained about the irritation caused by the feeding tube. He then had stopped and said, “Thank God this isn’t Florida and you’re name isn’t Greer!”, again, according to a reliable source.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Comment Sections are Way Fun!

I had plenty of time to blog today, business was one step below slow. I had time to read lots of blogs and then comment. I have to admit, that is way fun!

I would never have written a blog about being hearing impaired ;but then Carpe Bonum had a great blog about whether or not it’s a handicap or some kind of ethnicity thing. I’m not deaf; I just can’t hear worth a damn so I wrote about some of my “ethnicity” in his comment section.

Then Aaron, the Roseville Conservative, has some guy giving him some grief about his neat looking over priced Mustang hot rod that guzzles mass quantities of petroleum products. I got a chance to explain about my own curious spending habits in the comment section; way too much fun. It’s a shame it didn’t show up.

You would have enjoyed the way I explained to one of my old Bishop’s that the reason we bought our little green BMW Z3 coupe was for that day when we check our selves into the assisted living center. “We won’t have to buy a motorized wheel chair because our little Z will fit down the halls and looks a lot better.”

Now, not only does he think we bought an expensive car that’s impractical for folks “our age”, now he believes I’m crazy on top of that. I wish the comment section had kept the whole thing. All the same, commenting is way fun!

I almost forgot about the blog that Brad posted to Unrepentant Individual about testing taser weapons on pigs. Zap those little piggies was only part of my comment.

Courts Got One Right

In a headline story from the Associated Press this morning I read where the Colorado Supreme Courts actually came to the correct decision in a case where some jurors had opened a Bible to help in understanding what they should do. The press is having a field day because they seem to feel that this is another victory over the Religious Right, Death sentence by jury that discussed Bible thrown out”.

“DENVER, Colorado (AP) -- Ruling that juries cannot turn to the Bible for advice during deliberations, a divided Colorado Supreme Court threw out the death penalty for a convicted murderer because jurors discussed Bible verses.”

"Jay Horowitz, a former assistant U.S. attorney and former University of Denver law professor, said the law bars jurors from considering evidence not presented at trial."

"But he noted it was unreasonable to expect them to set aside moral standards when they step into a jury room, though there must be limits. "In fact, people do bring their background and thoughts and impressions, and you can't separate from that, and shouldn't try to," he said.”

It would appear that the Colorado Supreme Court actually got it right, even though it was a split decision 3 -2. The law clearly does state that jurors are barred from considering evidence not presented at trial and so the opening of a text book to be used in consideration while deliberating the fate of a defendant violates the law. I know that the prosecutor had to be disappointed in the ruling, a ruling that overturned a death penalty into “life without parole”; however, it’s not as if the courts had thrown out the conviction and turned the self confessed murderer loose.

I am concerned that 2 Colorado Supreme Court Justices would follow their “feelings” on this matter rather than the law. They did not rule that the juror’s backgrounds, that of being raised Christians who read the Bible for advice on a regular basis, was the reason for the reversal; only that they had used the Bible while in the jury deliberation process. It would have been just as wrong for them to have been reading any book that had not been entered into the record on that particular case as evidence. Jurors may ask the court for clarification of previously admitted evidence but they are strictly advised to limit their discussion to facts and opinions that have been introduced within the process of legal testimony at that trial and only from that testimony.

I’ll bet many of you who read my blog on a regular basis are wondering what is wrong with me today. There is nothing in my interpretation of this particular ruling; not being a lawyer does not discount my desire to understand the workings of the law, that would run counter to my overall belief and core value system. We are a country that has been defined, for the most part, by our laws and voluntary compliance with those laws. It is unfortunate indeed when our courts fail to work within the structured guidelines and limits of those laws.

I would hope that jurors are given final instructions that include the reminder to come to a decision based solely on information obtained in the trial. This does not prohibit jurors from having the ability to think, or to draw on their many years of experience. The instructions from the judge are a simple reminder not to introduce facts or testimony that has not previously been part of the trial proceedings. It does not prohibit an individual juror from comparing facts and testimony that were presented in the courtroom with his own understanding based on his overall character makeup; to include religious beliefs.

This decision does not limit jurors who have a Christian background any more than it would limit Atheists, Buddhists or "whatever" from providing service in the community based on their individual beliefs. In spite of the news media ejaculations; those who read the Bible are still U. S. Citizens, their votes still count and they still are permitted to serve on juries.

The door swings both ways, I am just as concerned that the Supreme Court of the United States of America considers their own “feelings” on matters that come before the court rather than the law as set forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I am an “originalist” when it comes to the interpretation of law and the interpretation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents while not “written in stone” are not periodicals that are subject to change on a month to month issuance.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Does God Still Have Prophets?

I remember watching Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments as he went up on God’s Mountain. He was told to remove his sandals because the ground he was standing on was sacred. He talked with God as a man talks to another man. Have you ever, even for a moment, felt that it would have been wonderful to have stood in Moses’ place; to have talked with God as one man talks to another? Maybe it would have been enough to have talked with Moses, to ask him what it was like to know the will of God.

How would it have been to listen to Matthew, Mark, Luke or John; have them give their testimonies in person, rather than having to settle for their words as recorded in the Bible? Is that too much of a stretch; to imagine that such could be done, to listen to a Prophet of God? Does God still have Prophets, even today?

I heard a conversation some time back. It was between a very successful business executive who lives in London. He was talking to a close friend on this very subject. He turned to his friend who had posed the same question, “Does God still have Prophets and does He still extend His guidance to mankind?” The answer has stayed with me over the years as he replied, “I don’t know; but we surely need His help in this world of ours today. I would like to hear such a man, a man who has God’s words for us.” There was a pleading tonal quality in his voice as he answered, a desire that it could be true. I have paraphrased because I don’t have that conversation written down anywhere except in my memory, which has faded with time.

I think most of us would take off from our daily chores if we could hear a Prophet speak to us, something that would apply to our times. Saturday April 2nd and Sunday April 3rd you will have the opportunity to listen to a Prophet’s voice. The Annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is this weekend. You can listen live via the internet by visiting the official web site.

Follow the links that will provide you with details as to times and languages available. Try to set aside the adult, the cynical non-believer. Let the child in you, the part that still wants to believe that God cares enough about you that he still talks to His Prophets, let that part of you take this invitation to heart.

Would you take the time to listen to the State of the Union Address? On the outside chance that such a Prophet will talk this weekend, wouldn’t those words be at least as important?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Four Songs

This past week I wrote a blog in which I quoted from an old song, “Is that all there is?”, and then realized it had been so long since I had listened to it that I wasn’t sure of all the lyrics; enough, so that I went to the “iTune” store and looked it up and then purchased it. I listened to it a couple of times and reassured myself that, yes, I had gotten most of it right.

I suppose it might be interesting that I have only purchased four individual songs over a two year period from the “iTune” store. Most of my music comes from a CD that I have already purchased, stored on my computer’s hard drive and then placed onto my iPod device as a convenience. I have several books on tape; The Martian Chronicles, Contact, The Thirty Nine Steps, Rainbow Six and even the Book of Mormon. I have the Beatles to Beethoven with a wide mix in the middle, all full length albums with the exception of the four individual songs that were purchased from iTunes.

My Casey Cason countdown continues as I reveal the other individual purchased songs. I have a Neil Diamond version of “If you go away”, that I wanted to learn how to play on the piano. It turns out I am much better at writing blogs and short stories than I will ever be playing the piano. ( Please; out of courtesy, refrain from posting a comment if you wish to express anything that might indicate that you feel I should stick to piano and leave blogging to the more capable)

The first tune I ever purchased was “Take me on”, which might well be the only tune that “ah-ha” recorded worth the effort. It has a great beat and makes me happy.

The number one song on the list I first heard as the closing credits splashed past at the end of “Finding Forester”. It’s a Calypso version of “Somewhere over the rainbow” played by a Hawaiian, Israel Kamakawiwo-ole. I sure hope he gets paid by the letter. I’ve since heard it in other movies, couldn’t say which at the moment. This is a great tune and I recommend that you go over to iTunes and purchase it as soon as you get a chance. Israel Kamakawiwo-ole has to be compensated for learning how to spell his own name, much less to sing such a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”

I wonder when I will be prompted to buy another single tune, what it might be and what earth shaking development will have taken place. I don’t think I am helping the economy with my single tune purchases.

It’s not that I’m cheap, frugal is a good word. You know those little door view things you install so you can check out who’s on the other side of the front door; the fellow who taught me to be a locksmith accused me of installing one on my refrigerator just so I would be sure that the light bulb was really off when the door closed. He was mistaken, the refrigerator I bought already had one built in.

Check out The Funnies. I posted a couple of chapters to Pecaw's Gift. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Other Side of the Coin

I have been keeping up with Mover Mike and his stock market information; so much so that I have begun investing a small portion in gold coins; making my first purchase today. I know almost nothing about gold coins so I asked a lot of questions before deciding on whether to buy American Eagles, Canadian coins or Swiss ingots. I ended up buying the American Eagle to lessen the chance of scratching the coins surface. It seems that such a scratch lessens the value, not to mention the beauty of the artwork.

I forgot to ask what image was on the other side of the coin, not that it would have influenced my purchase decision, just wondering. I will get my first coin via insured parcel post in a couple of weeks and then I will know, like I said, just wondering.

You didn’t think I was going to devote an entire blog to what might be inscribed on the back of the coin, now did you? Quite some time back I listen to Dr. John Lienhard’s radio show, “The Engines of Our Ingenuity”, when he was explaining about how these inscriptions on our coinage is a reflection of our culture. His five minute dialogue was very informative and the message has stayed with me over the years.

Rush Limbaugh was commenting today about an article in the New York Post written by John Podhoretz (linked via title bar). Come to think of it, Mover Mike had the same article linked in his blog, a double tip of the hat. The basic point of the Podhoretz editorial was to point out that there was a division of thought between those who were praying to save the life of Terri Shiavo and those who were comfortable with permitting the woman’s life to expire. I would agree with his assessment, that on the one side are those who have strong religious belief at the core of their being while on the other side are those who “…by contrast, view life as a natural phenomenon…and so there isn't anything necessarily transcendent about it…This is the view of life shared by most secular people, who are uncomfortable with the idea of a divine spark within all of us and prefer to think that science is the best explanation for everything.”

As I return to my idea, “What’s on the other side of the coin”, the context of the question has been expanded. I heard a very sad song that was sung by Peggy Lee, at least if memory serves she sang, “Is that all there is?” She sang about a very unhappy woman who watched as different things in her life went badly as she explained the rotten empty feeling that had come over her she would ask, “Is that all there is?..." to whatever it was, a failed marriage, a house burned down leaving them without shelter and then as it all came down to it; she began to wonder about suicide; just ending it all, “Oh no, I’m not ready for that final disappointment, because I know, as surely as I’m sitting here…I’ll look at what my life was all about and have to say, Is that all there is, Is that all there is to life?”

It’s been a long time since I heard the lyrics to the song and I apologize to the artists who are rolling their eyes at my butcher job, even so, it takes my “What’s on the other side of the coin?” question in the direction that I want to go.

I have to ask the secular people a question they might not feel too comfortable about; “After this life is over and the body is used up and cast into a hole in the ground to be forever covered with soil, or incinerated and nothing remains of that once “most spectacular machine”, what happens to the creative being who once resided in that frame?”

Maybe I should have asked the coin dealer more questions about what’s on the other side. I do not believe that it’s blank or without form; no, there is more to it; just as I believe that once mortality has run its course my soul will continue its progression and be joined to its perfected body. My faith permits these transcendental thoughts and at the same time gives me hope that my continued attempts to improve will not end at the grave; instead I am part of something that has eternal ties with my Creator.

How sad it must be for the secular being, having no such hope of a grand progression to look forward to, all the while wondering to themselves as old age approaches and their bodies begin to wear out, “Is that all there is, if that’s all there is my friend, then let’s keep dancing, let’s break out the booze, and have a ball, if that’s all there is?”

One Bowl Brownies

Today's blog is by Lucy

You’ll never make a box mix again, predicts Betsy Larsen of the Woodlands. She found this recipe when she needed an offering for a school bake sale. Tastes better than a mix and cleanup is a breeze, she promises. During holidays, she uses M&M’s instead of chocolate chips.

2 cups granulated sugar
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or plain M&M’s

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, eggs oil and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. (I like using mini chocolate chips.) Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan. Makes about 3 dozen.

Note: TF likes to stir the chocolate chips into the mix instead of sprinkling them on top. 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts are great added to the mix.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Ya' gotta' love the approach to low income prisons this sheriff has taken. Posted by Hello

Supply is Not Endless

I wrote a blog back in February, “Texas is Running out of Prisons, Again” ( link via title bar ). It was about how a Sheriff in Arizona had saved the citizens a fortune, not a small one, a large one; by housing prisoners in tents. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure up how much money could be saved with such a program across the nation; I’ll settle for Texas at the moment.

I read this past week where the State of Texas is going to implement a “back door” income tax. They aren’t calling it an Income Tax; it’s a payroll tax that is paid “only” by the employer “before the employee is ever paid”. What’s the difference between a tax that is associated with an employee and a tax that is taken out as withholding? Texans have voted down the introduction of any form of Income Tax and the back door political move by “JoeBob Crabdick” is an insult and a slap in the face to all Texans. What do you think, Govna’ Perry?? I suppose you guys think we all fell off a turnip truck and this is the first time in the big city.

Before I forget to say it, “You guys in Austin make me want to puke in a bucket!” So, this is Austin’s idea of how to generate enough money to keep the great State of Texas solvent; taxing the hard working folks half to death today, then later on you can increase “this non income tax – income tax” so that it shows up on the other half of the pay stub. Like I said a moment ago, “You guys in Austin make me want to puke in a bucket!” I have a better idea, CUT SPENDING and use a big pencil as you go through the budget. You don’t have to turn off the faucet; you can turn it back a few turns, the supply is not endless

This morning I got one of those “pass this along if you agree” emails from a friend of mine. It appears to have originated from Robert Arnold, with a moniker “Factotum”.
I happen to agree so here is what he wrote:


Sheriff Joe Arpaio (in Arizona) who created the "tent city jail":

He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.

He stopped smoking and porno magazines in the jails. Took away their weights.

Cut off all but "G" movies.He started chain gangs so the inmates could do free work on county and city projects.Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.

He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again only let in the Disney channel and the weather channel.When asked why the weather channel he replied, so they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.

He cut off coffee since it has zero nutritional value.When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back."

He bought Newt Gingrich' lecture series on videotape that he pipes into the jails.When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series might explain why a lot of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.

More on the Arizona Sheriff:

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record), the Associated Press reports: About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before.Many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their pink socks.

"It feels like we are in a furnace," said James Zanzot, an inmate who has lived in the tents for 1 year. "It's inhumane."

Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic He said Wednesday that he told all of the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to wear full battle gear, but they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!" (emphisis added)

Way to go, Sheriff! Maybe if all prisons were like this one there would be a lot less crime and/or repeat offenders. Criminals should be punished for their crimes - not live in luxury until it's time for their parole, only to go out and commit another crime so they can get back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things taxpayers can't afford to have for themselves.

If you agree, pass this on. If not, just delete it.

Sheriff Joe was just reelected Sheriff in Maricopa County

The Mortality Quiz

I am going to die at 74. When are you? Click here to find out!

Tip of the hat to Ethne and Brad, both have this "mind numbing challenge" posted today

Why stand we here idle?

I am angry and frustrated with how the judiciary branch of government has handled the case of Terri Shiavo and somewhat ashamed of feelings I find myself expressing that run contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ that I ascribe to. My spiritual self is at war with my intellectual self. I am reminded of important instruction contained in the scriptures. Our Savior was suffering at Calvary and one of his final requests was recorded in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. I am a “work in progress” and I still have a long way to go before reaching that level of perfection; all the same I am working on it.

Does this mean we are to stand by silently while one of our citizen’s Inalienable Rights, the right to life, is hijacked by a judiciary that refuses to obey the will of the majority as expressed by the legislative and executive branches of government? I’m referring to the unresolved matter of how to end the life of Terri Shiavo; regardless of whether or not you feel she is “merely existing” in a “permanent vegetative state”, a severely handicapped individual, a terminal patient with no chance for recovery or any of the angles that might crop up. The Judiciary has taken it upon themselves to condemn a citizen to a death sentence; claiming starvation is a natural cause of death, setting aside the intentional neglect necessary to cause that starvation to occur. We have laws that prohibit such neglect and hold individuals accountable for such forms of neglect, although this far surpasses neglect and could easily be considered murder.

The abuse of power, a usurped power since no such power has ever been granted to them by We The People, has far exceeded the checks and balances outlined when our country was formed. I would also include and refer to the 9th Circuit Court that threw away the overwhelming demand expressed by the voters in California when they passed Proposition 187. I refer to the Supreme Court’s decision to abandon the Constitution and in its place, substitute in its stead, their “feelings”, as they declared that 17 year old convicted murderers cannot be sentenced to die and are exempt from Capitol Crimes. The list of judiciary abuse is too long to include in this simple article.

I fear that our country’s foundations have been eroded, nearly entirely, and the weight of responsibility Now rests on how We The People proceed from here. Now, instead of it being only the life of Terri Shiavo being threatened; the life of Liberty is in jeopardy. This is the time when We The People must take back our country from a runaway judiciary, a judiciary that has imposed its will contrary to that of its citizenry. The judiciary has declared itself to be the final arbitrator of our collective national agency. They have done this without the consent of the “governed”, literally hijacking the democratic process in such a way as to remove the legislative and executive branches from their rightfully shared powers, powers that reflect the desires of We The People.

To borrow a few lines from Patrick Henry, “Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me: Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Are we not similarly engaged in a great struggle, a war, if you will, for the right to be governed by a representative form of government? I believe that we are.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Simple Thank You

I get quite a few of my retail customers as referrals from many different sources. I have folks who work in service departments and parts departments of various car dealerships all over town. They give my name and phone number out when a locksmith is needed. Hopefully it’s because they know that I will do my level best to satisfy their customer’s locksmith need, based on the quality of work I have done in the past. There is another reason why they remember my name; I make sure to say, “Thank you for the referral”.

Saying, “Thank you”, doesn’t cost me anything. It does require a conscious effort on my part to remember that these calls could just as easily been given to some other locksmith. Every once in a while I will take them a berry or apple pie that Lucy has set aside, or take them a half gallon of Blue Bell Ice Cream as a way of putting an exclamation mark on the meaning of “Thank You”. I know who likes blue berry pie, Oreo cookies, chocolate ice cream and make it a point to drop off that confectionary delight when the time is right. During Baseball season I will often hand out some tickets to an Astros game; mind you, these will be in the “nose bleed” section; I’m not rich. The interesting thing is that none of these people expect these extra tokens of appreciation; they would have done the same thing without them.

That brings me to my “tip of the hat” to Mover Mike who has been teaching me how to use the trackback function. It took a while longer than it took to teach the cows how to use the VCR functions to record in the movie, “City Slickers”. Then Mover Mike gave me an introductory lesson on HTML commands, “Geek talk”. Some of the tool icons in Blogger don’t always function, the one that I get frustrated at the most lets you hide a URL within the text of your blog; that is when it works. I just wanted to say, “Thanks Mike”, formally so that the rest of the blogging community would know who to blame when I hide URL’s and link to them or place a trackback under a blog.

Okay Freeport, Texas – Votes Do Count

Here’s a news flash out of ESTES PARK, Colo. —“A town trustee who refused to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance during board meetings was voted out of office.”, from a Fox news internet article dated March 23, 2005. (linked via title bar)

There is an important opportunity to vote in Freeport, Texas; to either keep or replace the current members of city council, those “Wiley Waskles” who have flaunted their elitist attitude of who should or shouldn’t have basic privilege or right of land ownership. The abuse of Eminent Domain is at least as important as standing up to show respect for your country during the Pledge of Allegiance.

It would seem fairly important, in your upcoming elections on May 7th, to place people into positions of TRUST who will not steal your next door neighbors land our from under them and say it’s “for the public good or benefit”. If you believe in the basic right of property ownership make that part of your voting decision process. This is not the same as voting for Prom Queen or Prom King; city council members need to Stand Up for Private Property Rights. The entire country is watching and waiting to see how the citizens of Freeport, Texas votes because it will affect everyone across the country.

To read my last related Eminent Domain Abuse article:

or visit Yahoo and search key words: Eminent Domain, for a long list of abuses.

trackbacked link:

Inalienable Right to Life

Here in Texas when a husband or wife ASSISTS in the expiration of their spouse they are charged with murder and put on trial. In Florida…well, you see where this is going…

RICHMOND - A woman was given a 30-year prison term Tuesday for murdering her quadriplegic husband, whose badly charred body was found in a house fire she is accused of starting. ( read the entire Houston Chronicle article linked via title bar )

The autopsy showed Poche was dead before the fire started and that he likely died either from smothering or strangulation.

… Assistant District Attorney Michael Elliott asked for a life sentence, saying Tara Poche killed a defenseless man.

"How do we protect the next Sterling Poche she may come into contact with? That is your job," Elliott told jurors.

Poche showed no reaction when the verdict was read. However, after the trial Poche sobbed, saying the verdict was wrong and she did not kill her husband.

"I love him and I miss him and I just wish he were still here so he could tell people this is ridiculous. It is not fair, it is not fair," she said.

There is a question begging to be asked of the judges in Florida, all of the judges who failed to protect Terri Shaivo’s “inalienable right to life”. In Texas we send murderer to prison rather than letting them get away with it. The reason, so succinctly worded by District Attorney Elliott, “How do we protect the next Sterling Posche?”. So, your honor, little “h” this time, “How do we protect the next Terri Shiavo, the next …?”

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

But Dad, I look good in green Posted by Hello

Judge with the Wisdom of Solomon

I see where a Federal Judge has decided not to overturn Judge Greer and that Terri Shiavo will be permitted to “expire”. I don’t know of anyway to express how disappointed I am with the mentality of a civilized culture that would starve a handicapped person to death and have the audacity to compare the willful destruction of a living being to that of one who dies from natural causes.

In the Old Testament there is an interesting story that ties in with today’s modern judicial blundering of the Terri Shiavo case; the exception being that in that story Wisdom prevailed. Please take a moment to look it up in the book of 1st Kings, chapter 3 starting in verse 17 and ending with verse 28. There you will find a “story” or a “parable” that instructs us all on how to determine who really has “the best interests of an individual” at heart. Solomon was able to determine which of the two women, both who claimed to be the rightful mother, was the true mother “who deserved the care and custody” of another human being. How sad that our society has determined that the Bible is of so little value as to be relegated to the back shelf; opting instead for more wholesome enlightenment with teaching moments found in shows like, “The Simpsons”, “Fear Factor”, “Desperate Housewives” and let’s not forget, “Queer eye for the straight guy”. What is being “written in our book”, on the outside chance that some future civilization happens upon the history we are making? Have we shown the wisdom of Solomon; I think not.

In a modern day example that could compare with the plight of Terri, I would turn to the movie based on a true story, “Awakenings”. The similarities to the Terri Shiavo case are quite remarkable; except instead of just one individual who is considerably handicapped there are several who are “living stones”. This remarkable story attempts to explain the quality of life from the standpoint of those who have been confined within a body which does not permit them to express those characteristics which most of the human race take for granted; the ability to move about at will, the ability to have a conversation and articulate thoughts or any number of human desires. I remember a couple of important ideas which the movie was able to convey.

The first was, “What do these “living stones” think about?” The old retired doctor had taken for granted that, “they don’t think, their higher intellectual capacities were destroyed by the disease.” (paraphrased, but close enough for government work) Then as one of them is attempting to “awaken” from years of having been locked away inside of one of the “living stones”; having been the recipient of some wonder drug, he explains that his life has been similar to that of a caged leopard at the zoo, ever pacing behind the bars of his confinement, always trapped with seemingly no hope of escape. The caring doctor played by Robin Williams reads the story and comes to the realization that these people are aware of their surroundings, that they are thinking about all manner of things, that they are not vegetables taking up space. This bold conclusion flew in the face of the medical community, those who had much more experience than did he. Who are we, any of us, to play God and determine that our presumed “quality of life” parameters justify drawing a line which determines who should continue in life or who should not. Isn’t that the criteria used by the Third Reich to build a superior race worthy of notice? I believe that we are following in those footsteps; maybe not intentionally, all the same, this is a defining moment for our civilization and our country.

I have one last entry into the realm of human quality of life; the right to life, the campaign being pursued for right to death and the court battles that are being played out before us. I wrote a novel, “Pecaw’s Gift” many years ago. I had not thought that the subject of taking care of a comatose human being would be quite so controversial; and yet I did include a glimpse, by way of a cold natured nurse character, of how some regard a comatose human form to be a waste of time and effort. Mind you, this was a piece of fiction that sprang from my head as a form of entertainment rather than as an op-ed piece; all the same the ideas are presented in such a way as to illustrate the need for permitting the concept of “endure to the end”, regardless of any perceived quality of life or lack thereof. I extend an invitation to review my efforts.

I have been transferring a chapter at a time on weekends as time permits. When I started writing “Pecaw’s” Gift, word processing programs where not nearly as efficient as they are today. I have transferred from Word Star, to Works and then to Word; each time doing what I could to maintain the appearance of intelligent design; however upon transferring each chapter to Blogger I have noticed that there are embedded printer commands that I have been unable to remove. Rather than get in a funk over these anomalies I have learned to turn a blind eye and ignore them.

trackback links:

Monday, March 21, 2005

History Being Rewritten, BCE / CE

I was reading a post by
Mover Mike and noticed that yet another portion of history was being rewritten in order to avoid any reference to Jesus Christ.

“The artifacts from indians on the Columbia river and later artifacts from the Etruscan and Roman empires are all dated "BCE" or "CE". We asked one of the curators as we were leaving, "What's with the BCE and CE?" Didn't it used to be "BC" and "AD"? Turns out it did. Seems some groups were upset with "Before Christ" and "Anno Domino - In the year of our Lord" . Now artifacts are labeled Before the Common Era (BCE) or Common Era (CE). It's the same dividing line between BCE and CE as BC and AD. I don't know how they explain that!”

Two of my nephews are in the Air Force. They were visiting on a short leave from duty and doing some family catching up. These young men are polite and had been brought up in the old school of being respectful of their elders. All that being said, they couldn’t resist making fun of my “retirement home sunglasses”; calling them, “BCD’s”. My eyes are very sensitive to light and I wear the kind often worn my very old people, they fit over my regular glasses and have side panes too. These are great since I do so much freeway driving and these sunglasses reduce the forward and the side glare while permitting a full panoramic view. So, you might ask, “What do the letters BCD stand for?” Well, I didn’t know either and had to ask, “Birth Control Devices”. It seems that if you want to guarantee never to get a date with a pretty woman you could wear a pair of sunglasses like mine. I am also hard of hearing, so they may have said, “BCG’s”, for “Birth Control Glasses”, in either case it would be a waste of time to go strutting my stuff. My son put in his two cents worth by asking, more of a pleading, “Dad, tell me you don’t wear those when you’re not driving.” I suppose I still embarrass my kids by being me.

At no time did it ever occur to me that the initials BCG might stand for “sunglasses made before the birth of Christ”, not once. Now, I have been asked if some of the tools in my locksmith truck were hand me downs from when I got off of Noah’s ark; in which case these tools would have been BCLT’s, which don’t taste quite as good as a BLT. I quit eating tomatoes this past year when I found that they were related to problems I have with psoriasis so what good is a bacon and lettuce sandwich?

I think the curators who removed the reference of BC and AD have taken the liberty of rewriting history. I will continue to use BC and AD.

Now, they might be able to convince me that the time period starting around the 1960’s, that time when our judiciary saw fit to start removing any and all references to religion in our schools; that could easily be referred to as a “common era”, “common” as characterized by a lack of privilege because our children no longer may pray, lacking refinement, and completely unprincipled as can be demonstrated by a great many youth who have no ties to our great heritage. Surely our society has taken a course that will eventually be devoid of any relationship with the Author of our rights, our privileges if you will, if we permit these minor alterations of facts to continue.

I think it would be a good time to send off a short letter to our local museum curators to remind them that funding for their work comes from a lot of us who wear BCG’s and have a deep and unfailing memory of what the Meridian of Time stands for. If I put it in the mailbox by noon it might get there before the Second Coming.

I have added links for blogs that I wrote back to back on rewriting history:

Here is a copy of the letter sent out via the "snail":

March 21, 2005

Houston Museum of Natural History
One Hermann Circle Drive
Houston, Texas 77030

Subject: The use of BCE / CE versus BC / AD

To: Director or Curator

Dear Sir,

I will keep this short, having attached my sentiments on the matter in the form of a blog that I wrote and posted this same day. Until today I was unaware that the use of the date system BC / AD had been abandoned by most museums; it having been replaced with the more “politically correct” BCE / CE. I find that such a change is nothing less than an attempt to rewrite history by eliminating any and all reference to Jesus Christ’s birth being the meridian of time. I would hope that people of character were in charge of the sacred honor of preserving history at a museum rather than bowing to the “PC” mentality that has taken overtaken so many other aspects of our society.

Please take a moment to read the articles that are available via the URL links that I have supplied within the text of the attached “blog”. My family has long supported the arts, either through anonymous monetary contributions or through our favorable remarks.


T. F. Stern
******* *************
Houston, Texas *****


CC: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Burglary at a Furniture Store

I could have called this, "Adrenaline Rush # 246", but that would have been just a number made up out of thin air. Reflecting on my choice of being a cop only meant that I had a certain penchant for high energy “rush” situations. Some folks like to jump out of airplanes, some just . . .I’m getting ahead of the story. A tip of the hat to Brad, The Unrepentant Individual, a fellow Adrenaline Junkie for giving me today’s topic. ( linked via title bar)

I was working evening shift patrol out of Central (downtown). This happened so long ago that I can’t even remember what my unit number was. I was riding with R. C. (Bob) Kersten, my regular partner, and it was late into the shift; close to getting off time. We ran an alarm on a furniture store at the edge of downtown, close to where the Eastex Freeway elevated section crossed Franklin Street.

We found entry had been gained and called for a back up unit. When the other two man unit arrived we started going through the warehouse section of the building. The more we searched the more it looked like we might get lucky and catch some bad guys. We didn’t want to leave any “leaf” unturned; climbing a ladder that took our search into the crawl spaces above the furniture store showroom. We were most careful while making our way across supports that were only there to hold up the false ceiling and lighting fixtures; not all of us were as careful as we should have been.

Officer Villareal, I leave off the first name or initials in the event that it might embarrass him, found that there was a weak spot. The light from his flashlight disappeared as he used gravity to propel him to the level below. As luck would have it, his leg wrapped around some of the wiring and slowed his motion. It also didn’t hurt that he landed on top of a soft sofa. It’s a shame that so much of the ceiling, not to mention all the years of collected dust and insulation, had to fall all over those plush white sofas.

The really good luck was that Office Villareal landed right where the burglary suspect had landed. Where’s a VCR camera when you need one? The arrest was made, full credit to officer Villareal, for following the suspects trail, and all the reports were completed. Needless to say all the damage was listed as a result of the suspects falling through the ceiling, no need in complicating matters.

Adrenaline Junkie Too

I was reading Brad’s post,
The Unrepentant Individual, about his being addicted to high energy situations. I think I have had almost all of those that I can handle. I used to ride motorcycles, Lucy on the back. That is a neat feeling, no arguing that one. I’d refer to Lucy as Mrs. T. F. except that it would come off the same as in the movie, “Forget Paris”. Now we get our kicks cruising around in our little BMW Z-3 coupe; not as much wind in our faces, a lot of fun all the same.

Having served as a police officer I had the opportunity to have the adrenaline rush on way too many occasions. I could write for hours recounting the most vivid; some were funny while others are still part of the nightmares revisited brand, the kind that pop up when I’m supposed to be having “sweet dreams”. For my own benefit I will list a few, just to get them written down; who knows, maybe I will expand on these later.

Pouncing on a drugged up teenager and taking a pistol away from him
Checking for burglary suspects at a furniture store ( Mover Mike would like this one )
Checking for burglary suspects at Rico’s Fried Chicken
Checking for burglary suspects in a warehouse while training a rookie
High Speed chase of stolen truck with burglary suspects
Chasing down a DWI suspect; on foot, a very slow speed chase ( not a misprint )
Checking for burglary suspects on roof of warehouse ( mild to moderate fear of heights)
Checking for burglary suspects on roof of restaurant ( ditto )
Putting a flare pattern out on freeway one evening
One on one fight in jail
Brawl in the DWI room where I slammed a chair over Lt. Smith
Patrolling for man with a gun, surprising him and taking it away on night shift
Doing a 180 on police three wheeler motorcycle, on purpose
Toy gun pointed at me on freeway
Taking pistol away from woman threatening her daughter
Tiger Mathews and the courtyard pistol ( ongoing nightmare )
Slow speed chase with “guest rider” on a Sunday afternoon
Chasing auto theft suspect through apartments at night ( already blogged )
Code 1 through a parking garage downtown to save 3 blocks travel time
Telling 3 Assistant Chiefs to stick it where the sun don’t shine ( insubordination )
Florida trip route, I thought you wanted Oklahoma
Taking pistol away on “routine traffic stop” while rookie admired the moon
Drawing down on priest/track coach
Big dog in back yard
The time clock at the brake shop
Rick Ashwood and the Shadow
Kicking in a door, a bathroom door
Drugged up suspect on Dowling where it took 6 officers to get him down
Arresting shooter at small club on a Sunday afternoon a block from Black Panther HQ

This is a very partial list of adrenaline junkie stories. It doesn’t include my need for speed addiction and sports cars I have either owned or still own. It doesn’t include many of the “kid” stuff that caused my parents to either lose their hair or have it turn grey.

Blowing out the center support of dad’s garage with a home made bomb
Taking down the electric power lines with a home made boomerang
Hitching rides on freight trains just to jump off and do it again
Riding on the storm water run off as it gushed out in to the bayou
Stealing golf balls that landed on the green to piss off golfers
Blowing all the windows out of a house under construction to test our bomb skills
Catching my bedroom on fire while learning the art of bomb making
Throwing snow balls at passing cars just to watch the brake lights come on
Throwing a snow ball at a police car, accidentally, and scoring
Swimming across the entrance to the marina in front of boats
Doing stupid acrobatic diving into shallow water
Playing catch with a hog snake
Setting a bridge on fire and putting it out

My daughter, Bonnie, decided she wanted to go skydiving last year. She went with my other daughter, Jennifer, Justin (son in law) and two of his brothers. They had a wonderful time. Bonnie spent the extra money to have it documented on film so that she could play the short movie for mom and dad to watch. JJ, my grandson got a real kick out of watching Bonnie jump out of the airplane. Bonnie travels all the time and we tell JJ that Bonnie had to go far away on the airplane. JJ then adds, “Bonnie jumps out of airplanes”. His eyes light up thinking that he one day can go jump out, all his family members along for the “rush”. I think we all have a little adrenaline junkie in us, some more than others. I think I’ll watch.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Go back to sleep

I found it difficult to sleep last night; so much going on in my mind that I kept wondering what more could I have done to express those thoughts. I would venture a guess that quite a few of you may have the same issues invading your sleep.

On the lighter side; there was an added factor that caused some tossing and turning all on its own; that is if you believe that one thought is totally removed from another. From a grammatical standpoint, is tossing and turning redundant; not that it will alter anything, it's just that you never hear about tossing all night with out the turning too?

I had a portion of a tune running in the background of my dream, the dream's setting I have no conscious memory of; however, that little bit of the tune bothered me. I remember listening, in my dream that is, to the notes up until it became obvious that I had forgotten the rest of the tune. I kept going back to get one more group of notes, add that one extra line that would identify the tune. It went on and on, here an extra set of notes and then; bang, I finally figured out that I had been listening to Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto, played by Van Cliburn as opposed to some of the other versions I have enjoyed. I even recall the feeling of relief that I had been able to figure it out, even to the point of telling my self that I could now go back to sleep; in my dream I was telling myself it was okay to go back to sleep.

We are a fascinating species, mankind as a whole. We worry about how life, with all its variables, will turn out for us while at the same time our awareness of the plight of others enters our thoughts. I read a blog Fearless Philosohpy For Free Minds, about the "Virtue of Selfishness" ( link via title bar) where he came to the conclusion "There are no selfless acts". I don't want to get into a word semantics debate, which is basically how he came to such a conclusion; but I think there is a piece to his puzzle of words missing. Other than a few minor sticking points I would agree with a good deal of how he approached the topic.

Without beating the Terri Shiavo issue to death, pardon the poor choice of words, it would be safe to say that most of us have been troubled by our thoughts whether or not we agree or disagree on how it is being presented as an issue, those thoughts are present in our minds. How could we better explain our reasons, our justifications, the laws involved and every other translucent "fact" in such a way as to be assured that we have done everything we can before going off for our own rest each night? These unfinished thoughts are what dreams and nightmares area made of.

In the movie, "The Green Mile", there is a scene where the Tom Hank's character is troubled by his responsibilities as the prison guard on death row; a man who knows in his heart and mind that the State is about to execute one of "God's Miracles". While he is explaining those feelings to his wife he realizes that on the day of his own judgment he will be brought before the bar of God and have to explain his actions. I wish I could recall the exact line, "I have done many things over the course of my life, some of which I am not too proud; but this, this is the first time I have felt that my eternal soul was at risk." A tip of the hat to Stephen King for being sensitive to such deep human qualities and the ability to express them; I was not that big a fan of his until he evolved from raw shock value writing and evolved into "Shawshank Redemption" and "Green Mile" writing abilities. I had not intended to turn this into a book review column, my apologies.

In my previous posting I shared "Happy Little Mountains", an oil on canvass that I painted. This newer posting is an acrylic on canvass (untitled), painted back before we had children ( BC ). I have included it with this particular blog for a reason. The picture started out as a vision in my dreams; the kind where you want to wake up, turn on the light and jot the thought down so you don't forget it and then go back to sleep. The interesting part was that the vision was similar to what you see when you turn on a light after having been asleep; that blinding light with the fog of sleep around the edges. I sketched the vision, pencil on a piece of typing paper, and in the morning I was happily surprised to find that I really had drawn what I had wanted, rather than a few scribbles falling off a piece of paper. I then transferred that, along with my memory of the colors, to canvass. (circa 1975)

If I start having dreams on where to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I'll be sure to write that down and share it in another blog. Until then, may our hearts and minds find peace in the knowledge that we are not a selfish people, not by my definition of selfish.

Picture Worth a Thousand Words

Eagle 1 started off his blog, “I like an honest debate. However, something is amiss in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge matter.” ( linked via title bar, still having trouble hiding URL links )

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words; then you need to go look at the TWO pictures that he has, the one that is the reality and the one that the environmental wacko’s would have us believe in. Since most of us won’t have the chance or the desire to go visit such an extremely hostile place as the ANWR, I suggest that we not be fooled by pictures of Bambi and Thumper sniffing fields of lush flowers with “happy little mountains” in the background.

I used to love watching the fellow on the PBS channel who could paint mountain scenes, oil on canvass from start to finish in half an hour. I think he may have been drinking some of the paint thinner or the fumes had gotten to him, not that there was anything wrong with it, he just was having a better time talking about those happy little mountains further along in the show.

The environmental wacko’s would have us believe the fuzzy little critters are going to be cast out of some kind of Garden of Eden and into the frozen waste after those nasty oil drilling companies destroy their homes. Guess what folks, it already is a frozen waste and those fuzzy little critters, those imaginary fuzzy little critters are about as real as the happy little mountains on that PBS show. Now, go visit EagleSpeak’s blog and get informed. He has a great link to REAL facts on ANWR.

Then you can come back and admire my art work. I thought it would be fun to put my father in law on that happy little lake near the happy little mountains; he would have liked that.

trackback linked:

Friday, March 18, 2005

The tragic Case of Terri Schiavo

From: Governor Jeb Bush []

Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 3:41 PM
To: Governor Jeb Bush
Subject: Regarding the tragic case of Terri Schiavo

Thank you for writing me regarding the tragic case of Terri Schiavo. People on all sides of this issue know that Terri has been severely impaired since 1990, and that she unfortunately left no written directive detailing her wishes regarding actions taken by her doctors to keep her alive. Her condition has been the focus of an emotional and lengthy legal battle. On more than one occasion, the courts have ordered that she starve to death.

Many Floridians, like the Schiavo and Schindler families, disagree about what should be done. However, I believe that we should err on the side of life. I am therefore committed to use all lawful means to keep Terri Schiavo alive and to work with the Florida Legislature on appropriate legislation to expand those lawful means as necessary. I also applaud the efforts of Florida Congressman Dave Weldon and Senator Mel Martinez for sponsoring legislation to address these issues at the federal level.

Please know that I respect the opinions of those who disagree with the actions I have taken. This is a heart-wrenching case, and I have not taken any action without thought, reflection and an appreciation for other points of view.


Jeb Bush

From: Thomas Stern Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 4:06 PM

To: 'Governor Jeb Bush'Subject:
RE: Regarding the tragic case of Terri Schiavo

Governor Bush,

I hope you are able to use your influence to support Terri Shiavo’s “right to life”, regardless of the hoops you need to go through, regardless of the fences you have to jump over and regardless of any asinine “laws” that would prevent one human being from supporting another in the right to be fed in order to survive.

In the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, there is a scene where Mr. Holland is giving the local school board his piece of mind. The board has reminded him that they are doing the best that they can to fund the fine arts programs. Mr. Holland fires back, and this is what you need to hear, “Well, your best isn’t good enough!”, or something very close, not having the script in front of me. If the governor of Florida cannot find a way to protect the rights of one citizen, then all your good intentions aren’t worth a plug nickel.


T. F. Stern

( Second letter sent half an hour later)

Governor Bush Here is What to Do
March 18, 2005

My first reply, the one where I compared the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus and the line that implied that, “Your efforts aren’t enough”, neglected to offer ways in which you might have a successful closure to the Terri Shiavo fiasco.

You have the power as Governor of Florida to order a special session of both houses of government; at least I would hope you do. If I am wrong, then today is a good day to start such a program. Congress has the power to subpoena anyone as a witness. Direct these embattled folks to a special session while at the same time directing them to subpoena all of the parties directly involved with the Terri Shiavo case. The list would have to include Judger Greer and all the members of the Florida Supreme Court so that they could be questioned regarding any and all opinions that they have espoused regarding Terri Shaivo, death by starvation, and the right to life. Also to be on the subpoena list would be all the doctors who have treated Terri or anyone else involved.

Once all of these fine folks have been screened for weapons prior to being permitted to enter the chambers they would be led to a room where they could await their turn to testify before all those representatives and senators who have, up until now, only gotten their information second hand. Did I mention that there were to be no snacks, no water and no meals permitted once anyone entered the building; to include the representatives, the senators, the lawyers, the doctors, the judges and even the governor of the great state of Florida. The doors to the building would not open until these fine folks had gone without food or water for however long it takes for them to agree that starving anyone to death, for whatever reason they originally may have thought was permissible, is a crime in and of itself. At that point it should be fairly easy to have at least a majority vote to write a law that would cover any and all Floridians, to include Terri Shiavo, from the threat of being starved to death for her own good or for the good of society.


T. F. Stern

trackback link:

Strike Three, You're Out!

I have to wonder about the priorities of our Congress when they spend all their time setting up the cameras and microphones so that they can publicly humiliate baseball players just to make it look like Congress has the public’s interest as an agenda item. While they were pandering for a chance to be in some news media vignette, a few seconds for their constituents, to “save our national pastime, save our kids and…”; excuse me while I put my head in the bucket for a quick barf. I have to agree with the sentiments expressed by Rush Limbaugh, “Is this the purpose of Congress?”

So what could have been done by Congress during the hours they Wasted trying to make themselves look good while attempting to tear down the baseball players. This is a perfect example of something I heard Jim Rohn explaining in one of his seminars. He was teaching the principle of growth, personal or business, it didn’t matter. “Some people…”, I can hear his voice in my head, the words being drawn out for effect, “…some people think that the only way they can look better is to make someone else look bad.” Then he continued, “The problem with that is that while you are tearing down someone else’s building . . .” a deliberate pause while he sets the hammer above the nail, “ That’s right, you no longer are working on your own building.” If you can’t see how this applies to the abuse of congressmen pointing fingers in accusation at baseball players then you need not read any further.

Congress could have been working; should have been working, to secure the basic “right to life” for Terri Schiavo, something that was not important; at least not enough to keep them working into their “Easter break”. Granted, the house passed “their version” and the senate passed “their version”; but what good are either if Terri Schiavo is “permitted to die of starvation” because it wasn’t important enough to work out the details so that a “finished version” could be sent to the president for signature? ( Excuse me, that should be a “Rights of Spring Break” if we are to keep that imaginary wall solid and firm. ) So these congressmen needed a chance to get away from the cares of duty, replenish their minds and bodies and then return to the service of their country. I’m sure that is exactly what Terri Schiavo would prefer to be doing. Instead, her parents are being torn asunder (wow, I always wanted to use that word in a sentence) while waiting for congress to do their job and secure the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that We the People fought a war over 200 years ago, to establish that defining issue. Strike ONE!

Congress could have been working to secure the basic “property rights” of citizens by having hearings on the abuse of Eminent Domain by all manner of governmental representatives from Georgia to Texas. So, Senator Joseph Biden, would you convene a congressional investigation, issue subpoenas to all of those rotten no good so and so’s who have been trampling on individual citizen’s property rights in the name of Eminent Domain? Would you, as you so eloquently stated on Good Morning America, when asked about the use of steroids; would you extend that same interest on something that really does matter? “I think we should make it clear that we think it's a big deal and embarrass the living hell out of these people and hope they begin to act like solid, upstanding people”. Strike TWO!

“The thing about this that's strange is that it looks like there is an agreement of some kind and the players and owners have come to some sort of thing. You've got Canseco's book out there, you've got Canseco and Jason Giambi who have now admitted that this has gone on. So it just strikes me that a bunch of congressmen want to come in at the tail end of the process and get in on the bandwagon, take some credit for what has already been done, make it look like it happened because they want it to happen, and Biden says, "We want to bring them up there, we want to embarrass the living hell out of them." As I said earlier this week, I think baseball ought to have a hearing. I would chair the hearing of baseball players on how Congress has botched a whole bunch of social programs. I mean, wouldn't it be fair to sort of turn the tables? Let's grandstand just to illustrate the point. Illustrate absurdity by being absurd.”, Rush Limbaugh's
closing statement ( linked via title bar) on the absurdity, the gall of having Congressional hearings to publicly humiliate baseball player they suspect have used steroids.

I say, its time to have a hearing to remove Judge Greer from the bench. Somewhere he has placed the issue of “Parental rights VS Husband rights” above that of an individuals “right to life”. Yes, I am well aware of the need to define custody, as it pertains to children, even grown children who cannot speak for themselves. At what point in time does it become important to step in and stop a process that has abandoned basic human rights? I would have to say that judgment, that quality necessary for Judge Greer to accomplish his duties, is missing from his arsenal. Maybe congress could hold that hearing; except that it is out of their area of responsibility; but no more so than holding hearings on ball players who may or may not have used steroids. Strike THREE, YOU”RE OUT!

trackback link

trackback link

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Eminent Domain in Freeport Texas

Updated March 17, 2005

Before I get into the topic of eminent domain, it would be helpful to understand something about how Americans view ownership of property. We believe that the right to ownership of property exists and that laws were instituted to protect those rights. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that many of our representatives in government would prefer that citizens did not have property rights; believing instead, that government holds claim to all property and that citizens have temporary custody at best.

To provide proof of my claim that government believes that they hold title to all property is a simple matter of looking at property tax laws. Other than providing a regular source of income to support local government and school districts, these tax laws also serve to remind us that just because a piece of property has been paid for, referring only to the agreement between one citizen and another over an agreed transfer of use privilege, does not preclude the on going and never ending tax burden for the “right” to continue in the delusion that the property is actually owned by anyone other than the government. Whew, I might have been a lawyer except I have to breathe at the end of each sentence and regain a regular heart beat. The point is that the tax burden associated with any property leaves final title holding ability to the government, not the citizen.

All that being said, most citizens still would argue that property rights are sacred to Americans and that we will “fight” to keep those rights. That sounds wonderful; but, tell me, how is that going to happen?

In Freeport, Texas there is a shrimp company business that “owns” (remember the definition of property that I just explained) a prime piece of real estate along the Gulf coast. The company has been in operation for a very long time, going out to catch the shrimp, bringing the shrimp back to port for processing, selling that shrimp and then repeating the process over and over. There is another private interest who would like to use that very same piece of prime real estate; except they want to build a marina. They offered to buy the property and were turned down. Instead of looking elsewhere for a different piece of property they decided to convince the Freeport City Council to expand the power of eminent domain in order to obtain the shrimp company’s land. I don’t think I have abused the privilege of over simplification with my short version of the facts.

I know a lot of you are feeling the veins swell in your neck, shouting vague obscenities about how terrible or rotten those no good … "Just let those no good so’s and so try to take my land… you just try!” Since this piece of editorial is to be published I have used the “no good so and so’s” rather than something more natural for me. I hope you will understand my true feelings have been repressed in this matter. Well, you have a chance to stand up against those no good rotten so and so’s.

There is an election in Freeport on May 7th where you can decide who is going to represent your side of “property rights” and how the power of eminent domain will be used. Will you vote to have property rights further eroded by permitting the current City Council steal your neighbor’s property; only to hand it over to yet a different group of citizens simply on the notion that the second group of citizens has a better idea for how to use that land? I say, “Vote the scoundrels out of office on May 7th and make sure they understand why”. Scoundrels is still too nice a word; but, I think you get my drift.

You might ask, “Why is someone in Houston, Texas so interested in what goes on in a small town like Freeport”? Glad you asked. The abuse of eminent domain as a power by one governmental agency to determine user privilege of land based on arbitrary whims; if permitted to go unchecked or challenged affects every American citizen.

The Supreme Court of the United States has so many activist judges sitting in their black robes; appointed for life with no real strings to attach them to the citizen’s whose lives are affected by their decisions, and interpreting “their feelings” rather than interpreting “constitutional issues”; that they have become unreliable as a source of justice. We, as citizens who hold the foundations of our country to be sacred, need to hold our elected officials feet to the fire at every opportunity. When we find that they no longer exhibit our shared basic beliefs; vote them out and replace them with someone who does. We cannot expect to win any battles in the court system, a system that has been corrupted and has very little hope of returning to the originally prescribed course, at least no time soon. We are depending on the good citizens of Freeport Texas to draw a line in the sand, no different than the one drawn in front of the Alamo. Now get to it!

trackback links :


Here are a couple of links to privious Eminent Domain Blogs:

But the BEST source for information about the issue is the Institute for Justice. Try this:

Thanks to all who have jumped in with their help.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

What’s a locksmith?

I am a big fan of Sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury’s story, "Fahrenheit 451". He took me to see the future, a future where firemen didn’t put out fires; instead, they burned books. A little boy standing with his father pointed to a fire truck going down the road, “Oh look, there’s going to be a fire!” The houses all had to be made of non-flammable material and the older houses were condemned; their owners forced into the newer structures.

The locksmith industry is very similar to that story. I started out in the 70’s learning how locks were put together so that I could figure out how to defeat them; picking them, impressioning a key to take the place of one that may have been lost or taking them apart to change the combination so that an old existing key would no longer operate that lock. Over the years my skills improved, as did the manner in which locks worked. I felt confident that my abilities as a locksmith would match up with my competitors. Not to be boastful, I had acquired a sense of pride that I was a fairly good locksmith.

At some point in time the manufacturers of locks began to change from mechanical operations to electronic mechanisms. In some systems the two work side by side, such as the transponder keys in many of today’s automobiles. I not only had to figure out the mechanical combination that would permit the key to turn within the lock cylinder, I also had to match wits with the electronic package that was controlled by the vehicle’s computer. The technology that made the key turn I have been able to understand since it is not so different than earlier generations that sprang from Linus Yale’s creativity, or for that matter, the ancient lock designs of the orient. I use a fancy electronic gizmo that hooks up to the vehicle’s computer and permits me to complete the programming necessary for the vehicle to start; how it does what it does, I have no idea. This I do know, where I used to get $ 35 dollars to fit a key that would make a Ford F-150 work; I now get $ 150 to fit the original plus one duplicate along with the programming. I make a lot more money for very little extra effort. The problem, at least as I see it; I make most of my money off of an electronic system that someone else knows much more about than I do.

This is where I begin to see the future, a future where locksmiths, at least the mechanically proficient tradesmen ( professional, if it makes you feel any better ) that I have become, no longer are needed. I have watched as the electronic industry has taken hold of, to the point of taking over, most of what used to be the locksmith industry. I am not saying this is good or bad, it just is.

The job skills that made it possible for me to make a very decent living are being moved to the museum, the one next door to the dinosaur exhibit. Instead of a tool box that has a Swiss #4 impression file, the locksmith now has a software program or an optical scanner. Where a thorough knowledge of mechanical systems was important, and still is to some extent, the valuable information has gone towards the electronics and computerized end.

I used to think that “sidewinder” keys or Medco high security locks were the future, I was mistaken; those are Jurassic compared to the electronic gadgets out there now. The newest cars on the market have no keys, none at all. They use electronics, entirely electronic gadgetry to disable the opening of the doors and the accomplishment of starting the vehicle’s engine. If I had not seen the future, like the little boy pointing to the fire truck and shouting out in excitement, “Oh look, there’s going to be a fire!”, then this would have troubled me more than it does now. About the only problem for me is that I have no desire to become that electronic wizard who tricks all those electrons into lining up at the “atomic sheer line” and letting some servo unit do its thing. Oh, there are still enough of the old fashioned style locks to keep me in business for a while longer. I’m part of the past now, wondering if Linus Yale and Hank Spicer will let me sit down on the bench to rest my bones when I put away my tool box.

Donation or Tax Demand

To start off, here’s a tip of the hat to Brad the Unrepentant Individual for his
blog “Separate the Wheat from the Chaff” I might not have started today’s blog had it not been for the comment section, which had a familiar leftist vibration from some guy under the alias “dadahead”.

Talk about an attitude problem; “We are FORCING you to be altruistic, so to speak. I know you libertarian/conservative types don’t like that. But too damn bad!” I should walk away and use the line, “That’s interesting”, a truly civilized person with a difference of opinion might draw from experience to extricate himself from a foolish and time wasting bit of chatter. I have not reached that point, at least not yet.

I could go on for quite a while pointing out the difference between making a “donation”, something which comes from the heart first and then the wallet, with “distribution of wealth” which is the process of government reaching into my wallet to tell me how much better I have it and that they will help to correct that problem. If that isn’t a run on sentence; my apologies to all the English teachers who ever had the misfortune of having me in their class, then what is?

My sister, bless her liberal heart, and I have gone around and around on the false notion that if you follow the teachings of Jesus, then it should not be a problem paying taxes to redistribute wealth to those less fortunate. She then reminds me that I “claim” to be a Christian and follows with “But, what Jesus would do?”, attempting to equate the scripture, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”, with the heavenly doctrine of charity. I have to say, BUNK to that particular argument.

The dear woman, and she is a sweet natured bone head, (did I say bone head, sorry, it must have just slipped out), has not figured out that there is no “Christian Reward”, so to speak, if you are forced to be “generous”. It is the same as giving up your sins, what is known as repentance ( take notes here Brad the Unrepentant ); there is no “giving up” the sin if you do it under duress, only if you willingly turn away from it, never to return. There is a huge difference between folks who have to be held in prison to keep them from committing crimes and those who live outside those prison walls as members of the civilized society and are able to refrain from acts of aggression toward their fellow citizens on their own. My sister can see no difference at all between the money that I willingly give to charity via my church donations and the money that the government takes from me in the form of taxes. I have since avoided the topic, at least with her, so that we might enjoy other less caustic matters.

I suppose there are plenty of “dadaheads” out there who have never been able to understand what I have just explained, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear”.

I did, I married an angel

The votes have been counted, Mrs. Stern has been verified to be an angel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tuesday must be personality test day

I suppose I should be happy that it didn’t come out, On the Water Front, I can’t picture myself out on the front yard yelling, “Stella! Stella!”

Thanks to Brad at Unrepentant Individual for jogging my memory, it wasn't on the Water Front, it was Street Car Named Desire; so what's that line from Gigi, "Ah, yes, I remember it well!"

A penny for your thoughts… This is Brad’s fault too.

Mrs. Stern is from Saturn

You Are From Saturn

You're steady, organizes, and determined to achieve your dreams.
You tend to play it conservative, going by the rules (at least the practical ones).
You'll likely reach the top. And when you do, you'll be honorable and responsible.
Focus on happiness. Don't let your goals distract you from fun!
Don't be too set in your ways, and you'll be more of a success than you ever dreamed of.

Sounds like a winner to me.
Again, Thanks to Ethne at Autumnal Fire

Better than Middle Earth

You Are From the Moon

You can vibe with the steady rhythms of the Moon.
You're in touch with your emotions and intuition.
You possess a great, unmatched imagination - and an infinite memory.
Ultra-sensitive, you feel at home anywhere (or with anyone).
A total healer, you light the way in the dark for many.

A tip of the hat to Ethne at Autumnal Fire for this.

"Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars..." Okay, which version was I thinking of; Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr. or Tony Bennett?

"Oohhhh I'm bein' followed by a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow", Cat Stevens AKA Mohammed Shake My Butt or something like that. I still like the song, just don't let him sit next to me on the airplane.