Monday, October 31, 2005

When did we forget to be civil?

I must have fallen off the “turnip truck” yesterday; isn’t that what they say about some hick who hasn’t figured out how the world works? I haven’t always been tuned into the political scene and I’ve just now come to notice, maybe it’s always gone on this way and I was ignorant, how downright ugly people are to each other.

I enjoy watching movies when I can’t find a good baseball game, call me one of the boys of summer. I’ve got a couple of really good political movies in mind, The Manchurian Candidate ( both the one with Frank Sinatra in black and white and the newer version with Densel Washington ), and Seven Days in May come to mind when I think of the lengths some folks will go in order to move an agenda along. Maybe I’ve already answered my question, “has it always been this ugly?”, probably.

I remember watching the State of the Union Address as President Bush spoke in front of the combined houses of government. It struck me as particularly “in bad form” as Senator Hillary Clinton displayed her contempt by rolling her eyes in such exaggeration as to become a distraction to those working the television cameras. I’m sure that at some time during her upbringing and professional training that Senator Clinton must have been taught how to endure with a polite or cordial manner, a simple blank expression at the very least instead of muscular contortions to express indignation.

I picked that particular lack of civility because it has remained fresh in my mind over time. It seems to characterize a trend, something which does nothing to bolster a working relationship between rival political parties. The “loyal opposition”, an interesting term since they are in no way loyal, at least not to the Union of citizens we call the United States of America, these loyal opponents who for one reason or another are in the minority with the political numbers have seen fit to dedicate their energies toward bringing down the Union in order to express their dissatisfaction with the current majority and administration.

I’d like to ask Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said Monday that he is "disappointed" in the pick of ( Samuel ) Alito in that he is not a "consensus nominee" and said one day earlier that that nominee would "create a lot of problems.", exactly what is a “consensus nominee? Maybe over in Nevada they have some secret scientific laboratory where they are turning our Compilation People; the sinister brow of Ted Kennedy, the shrill screeching… you get the idea. In any case, I’d prefer an individual, someone who can stand up and explain his/her own thoughts rather than some milk toast “yes man” who marches to multiple voices. Did you, Senator Reid, when you began spouting off in front of the public, ever consider the damage you might be doing to this great country? Is it acceptable for anyone, much less an elected official who sits in the Senate to carry on character assassinations of men who are known to be honorable, regardless of their political leanings?

Did you mean that if Samuel Alito were to be confirmed and take a position on the Supreme Court that his quiet and thoughtful approach, his careful and methodical process of weighing points of law and how each case is compared to the rule of law as outlined in the Constitution, that his track record of being fair minded would “create a lot of problems”; is that what you meant? Or did I hear incorrectly?

I’d like to ask Bob Beckel, a top Democratic strategist why he believes, “There are perhaps only two other people in the country who would cause Democrats to be "more disturbed" than Alito”. According to Beckel, "He runs counter to everything we believe in," then Beckel added, "Let me congratulate the right wing. They beat the president back and they got somebody they wanted."

I must have missed part of Bob Beckel’s tirade, who are the two other people in the country who would cause the Democrats to be more disturbed? Let me take a couple of wild guesses; hummmmmm, Rush Limbaugh?, “Talent on Loan from God!”, or maybe some other hard hitting conservative, Sean Hannity?, “Let Freedom Ring…” I can see where the Democrats might be shaking in their boots at the thought of having an up front and honorable justice sitting on the Supreme Court; someone who would actually hold his right hand to the square and mean it when he promised to uphold the Constitution rather than impose his personal views and legislate from the bench.

I’d like to ask Senator Schumer D-NY, exactly why he thinks, "The president seems to want to hunker down in his bunker" and "soothe the ruffled feathers of the extreme wing of his party," Schumer also said, "This controversial nominee, who would make the court less diverse and far more conservative, will get very careful scrutiny from the Senate and from the American people."

When I hear people focus credibility because a certain group is “diverse” when talking about an individual’s character instead of detailing qualifications little red flags and fireworks alert me to a particular agenda of the left which is Anti-American in all of its forms. It is the philosophy which pretends to offer fairness and equality regardless of effort and ability. It is the lie which pretends to justify discrimination against qualified individuals in favor of privileged handouts based on race or gender; either of which destroy the Spirit which has made America the greatest country in the world. Make no mistake, the Socialist Progressive, oh hell, just call them the Democratic segment of our country are intent on having us believe that it is a group of diverse peoples who make the difference rather than any individual’s efforts to improve his/her position in life. I suppose that makes it okay to destroy individuals one at a time through character assassination in order to improve the group.

The best line I’ve been able to come up with, one that would bother almost any of the Progressives and Socialist; pardon the slip, the Democrats, came from Samuel Alito. In a May 2005 profile in the Newark Star-Ledger, Alito said, "Most of the labels people use to talk about judges, and the way judges decide (cases) aren't too descriptive. ... Judges should be judges. They shouldn't be legislators, they shouldn't be administrators."

No doubt about it, Samuel Alito is a problem for the opposition party, the party that believes it can “get around” the Constitution by having justices who have deep feelings rather than justices who have deep thoughts. I hardly knew about Samuel Alito before hearing and reading about his accomplishments today. Why did President Bush waste so much time with old’ what’s her name?

Note: I've borrowed some quotes from Fox News web site which is linked via title bar. I also borrowed some quotes from the CNN web site, which link has since vanished.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Constitution as a Living Document?

My thoughts today turn to both the past and the future as I contemplate the many blessings of living in the United States of America. It is no accident that I include the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in my list of blessings as I consider them to be inspired documents which provide a means of accomplishing divinely planned purposes. Without the Declaration of Independence there would have been no need for any of the other documents because we would have continued in direct servitude to the King of England, nothing more.

I have heard so many intellectuals carry on that while the Declaration of Independence is a well written document, one that expressed necessary and fundamental issues relevant to the dissolution of political and national bindings, that there is no reason to include divinity as a functionary or inclusive part of the process. To that I can only say, poppycock; other terms come to mind which are crude and so poppycock will suffice.

The same has been said regarding the Constitution as a means of establishing our form of government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The history leading up to the formation of the document we call the Constitution is nothing short of a miracle. Those folks involved in the wording of each and every aspect of the Constitution were strong willed and highly volatile individuals with varied reasons for desiring any union, much less one which compromised so much power from their home state’s powers. The fact remains that there were several compromises worked out, eventually forming what we have accepted as the Constitution.

Have we accepted it as a foundation for government, one that is solid and worth keeping or have we altered our language to such an extent as to render it meaningless? What is meant when I hear that the Constitution is a living breathing document, something which serves only as a guide, not written in stone? I read a statement, one written quite a long time ago which might be worth considering.

“We cannot brook the thought of it (the Constitution) being torn into shreds, or destroyed, or trampled under foot and ignored by men. We cannot tolerate the sentiment, at one time expressed, by a man high in authority in the nation. He said: "The constitution be damned; the popular sentiment of the people is the constitution!" That is the sentiment of anarchism, and has spread to a certain extent, and is spreading over "the land of liberty and the home of the brave."

Joseph F. Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a talk given in 1939 criticized such as he addressed the issue, “…the popular sentiment of the people is the constitution!”, isn’t that the same as claiming that the Constitution is a flexible document, a living breathing work in progress? I have to hand it to Joseph F. Smith, a man who could barely contain his outrage at hearing the words of anarchy when spoken, a direct assault on the “land of liberty” which he loved and which he also knew to be a gift from God.

I have entered into this discussion in the past, that being whether or not the United States of America was the result of divine intervention, whether or not Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are gifts from God or did they simply address some sectarian notion of right and wrong. It is my belief that we humans are made in the image of our Creator, that same Creator who has granted unto his children certain unalienable rights; those being Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. For us to deny the Author of Rights ( link via title bar) is to abandon claim to them.

I invite you to read from the Book of Mormon, specifically the book of 2nd Nephi chapter 10 where the promises of the Lord are made unto a faithful people. The whole chapter is devoted to the promise of a land of inheritance, this particular “isle of the sea” being what we now call North America.

“And this land shall be a land of liberty unto the Gentiles, and there shall be no kings upon the land, who shall raise up unto the Gentiles.” (2 Nep 10:11 )

I cannot accept the arguments which eliminate God and the promises of His blessings from the working government of the United States of America. History has been written and then rewritten to accommodate those changes necessary to complete such an abomination of expressed thought. There is a huge difference between separation of church and state, a fantasy worked out to accommodate a particular agenda, and separation of truth from fiction.

Anyone with a rudimentary ability to explore the history of our nation should be able to uncover those attempts to remove and destroy all concepts which link our relationship to the Judeo/Christian God, the same God mentioned in the Bible as being Alpha and Omega, the Prince of Peace or any of the established names by which He is acknowledged and then make the connection that He is also responsible for establishing this particular piece of land as promised for a specific purpose; that being the land where Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness could prevail. “We cannot brook the thought of it”, covers it so well.

This is my entry for this coming Tuesday's Carnival of Liberty. This is a great place to take the pulse of the blogging community on a wide range of subjects. Stephen Littau will host the Carnival at Fearless Philosophy (

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Saturday Morning Thougths

I noticed that I’d missed reading a couple of regulars on my blog list as they were highlighted in red, at least I think that’s what that means. Maybe it means something else and I should avoid those red ones; too late, I already visited those sites. I hope my anti-virus is working.

I had breakfast, peanut butter and jelly on toasted English muffins. I’d planned to have it on whole wheat bread except there was something growing on the edges. We only buy a small loaf with the kids being away and even then some of it goes to waste. The puppies hang around hoping for a shared piece, long strings of drool form as Roxie patiently awaits whatever portion I decide to reward her with while Puppy carefully sizes up the amounts allocated for each of them.

I’ve been on a Gershwin jag all week and have that going in the background. Al from over at Old Whig mentioned that he had a version of Rhapsody in Blue that left him flat after I’d commented that I had a disk of interest. I got to thinking, something rare as my kids would have jumped on such a lead in, I have another disk that I got off one of those clearance tables at Best Buy or some other electronic place. This was years ago and I paid a dollar or two for it just because it had Gershwin on the label. “Virtuoso Piano Music”, played by Mario-Ratko Delorko on a Point Classics Disk. (265041-2, if you want to try and find it somewhere.) This fellow played the piano like it was a machine gun, forgive my non musical terminology, bursts of notes to express the music in a way that Gershwin might have liked or even approved.

( Updated information: Check the title bar for a link to purchase Virtuoso Piano Music for only $ 2.99, if you don't like it you're not out that much )

When I was away to college, learning how to shoot pool and avoid studies, I found another treasure on a clearance table. This was an archived production of Gershwin playing his own music on an old 33 1/3 record. I eventually gave it away, not because it wasn’t any good; but because it was a perfect gift for an old musician who couldn’t believe his ears at having heard it when he was over visiting one day. That was a neat thing to do; don’t go around thinking I’m nice guy, it would ruin my reputation.

Roxie is over here trying to get some attention as I sit in my favorite chair and type. Bubba Kitty would like a piece of that too. It has taken Bubba several years to get used to Puppy, our little black rug with legs; how long will it take for Bubba to accept Roxie, maybe never. Bubba sits around corners waiting for a chance to hiss and spit ugly incantations while Roxie flinches past her. Roxie could swallow Bubba whole if she were so inclined; but somewhere in that pea brain of hers Bubba is a full size Mountain Lion who has gone without raw meat for a few days.

I started off with something about visiting blog sites and got distracted. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you locked a cat, say for example, Bubba, in a room with the movie, Home Alone, playing in a continuous loop for a few days? There’s a scene where the boy scares off the bad guys by playing a sequence from an old gangster movie.
“I’m gonna’ count to ten. One, two…” The gangster cuts loose with his Tommy Gun at the victim, never getting to three, laughing as the bullets cut him to shreds. I found a snippet that covers that thought over at
Resistance is Futile. “Take that you filthy…”

Roxie had better pay closer attention when going from room to room or those silly looking ears, her JarJar Binx ears will be shredded spindled and mutilated.

When I was growing up, a term that I have used and which does not especially match my lack of maturity, we had a similar situation. Walter was the new dog, a hound mix about half way between Beagle and whatever. Topsey was the Senior Cat, a Russian Blue with an attitude. Topsey would find ways to make life difficult for everyone, especially for Walter. Topsey would lie on her back as if asleep, her eye slits barely open and alert. Walter would notice the limp grey form of Topsey in the middle of the floor and go over to investigate, not quite sure why she would leave her defenses down. Walter would lean over quietly to sniff the gray fur, not intending any harm and not at all prepared for the trap which had been set. Topsey would then grab Walter with both paws outstretched and claws bare so that they could hold onto his ears. Walter was dead meat as Topsey would bite him on the nose and spit terrible obscenities as to his up bringing. It would only last a moment or two as Walter would go howling off into a corner to lick his wounds, all the while we all would be laughing for his having been duped once again.

We are off to Chuck E. Cheese this afternoon to celebrate JJ’s 4th birthday. That’s a great place for young kids, the younger the better. Bonnie had a birthday there once, back before she became high maintenance and started asking for steak and fancy deserts. We were all walking toward the front door for Bonnie’s party; but it was Jennifer who was bursting at the seams. She was about three or so; hard to remember it’s been so long ago. I had Jennifer in hand as we crossed the parking lot when I noticed how much she was into the party mode, singing little bursts and dancing in a Rumba step, “Chuck…E… Cheese….yea,…Chuck…. E… Cheese… oh yea!” Kids know that’s the place, kids know.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

From Gershwin's Time

From Gershwin's Time

I’ve had a relaxed day listening to some of the music stored away in my computer under the iTune program. I took every disc we own and copied it onto the computer and then onto my iPod so I could take it with me while driving all over town. We’ve had a good week business wise and so I don’t mind when I have a chance to sit in my favorite chair and doze off while listening to my music.

Last night after watching the White Sox blow away the Astros in the 4th and final game of the World Series I stayed up and watched some old Twilight Zone re-runs. There was one about an old fellow who found an antique radio that would pick up tunes from a radio station long since defunct but none of his friends at the retirement home believed him. I was enjoying the Benny Goodman music along with Rod Serling’s black and white show.

I have a great collection of Gershwin music, some of it played by the man himself via the miracle of digital reconstruction. One of the discs we purchased several years ago is from the Sony Masterworks Heritage Series, “From Gershwin’s Time”. I looked it up on a Yahoo search and found that it’s still available if you’re looking for something different.

“Problem with listening to Gershwin tunes these days: all we ever hear is the new interpreters, the crooners who always boast a thick sheen of polish. Of course, there was a time--back before jazz became 'smooth' and airline commercials picked up on 'Rhapsody in Blue'--when Gershwin's tunes were pop music. You know, fun songs heard everywhere--in the concert halls, at the movies, on the radio--by young and old alike. These tunes comprise From Gershwin's Time, a collection of music recorded (mostly) while the composer was still alive, between 1920 and 1945 (George died in '37). Vintage Gershwin cuts by Al Jolson, Ukulele Ike, Fred Astaire, and Tom Patricola (from
the original George White's Sandals Broadway cast) are interspersed with more novel acts: the Singing Sophomores, the Ipana Troubadours, and Borah Minnevitch & His Harmonica Rascals. The second CD features several tracks of Gershwin's own piano work, but it's the oddballs that make this disc so special. Of all the Gershwin compilations out there, none are so varied in performers and scope--from Broadway tunes to Rhapsody--nor are any this fun. A must-have for
Gershwin fans. --Jason Verlinde”

I should get some kind of sales commission for plugging this CD. I had to agree with his comment, “It’s the oddballs that make this disc so special”. One of my favorite oddball cuts is a Novelty Abridgement of Rhapsody in Blue performed on harmonica; no, that’s for real, on harmonica. Take a chance on this one, just buy it, close your eyes and enjoy a trip in the time machine. I wouldn’t wait too long since it’s out of print and the only ones out there are collector’s items now. (link in title bar) Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 24, 2005

Chokin’ Dog Syndrome

I’m really into the World Series, especially with the Houston Astros making it there this year. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with the way the first two games have turned out; but that’s why it’s a best of 7, not a best of 3 series.

Last night I saw some of the wheels fall off the Astro’s defense. It started with a hot smash past Ensberg at third; a ball that maybe should have been caught. That was followed by a long fly ball that was playable and should have been caught in left field. Then, in the same inning, there was a short pop fly into medium right field. Biggio drifted back from his position at second while Lane was running in from left, all the while Biggio was calling for it. There was a runner on third waiting to tag and so I thought Lane should have fielded the ball since he would have the momentum along with the arm to make a play at the plate. Biggio ended up dropping the ball and the run scored easily. I found myself screaming at the television, “You chokin’ dog!”

Several years ago when I was playing softball with the police department we had some interesting games. We may all have worn blue uniforms while at work; but on the field we became fierce competitors. I remember a fellow patrol officer from one of the other teams running over to catch a pop fly, not unlike the one that Biggio had called for last night. Dale had a good bead on the ball when he got called off by another player, Lt. Driver. When the ball found a hole in the Lt.’s glove and fell to the ground, Dale let out his frustration, “You chokin’ dog!.... Sir.” There was just enough time for Dale to recognize that rank still needed a proper salutation. There was an awkward acknowledgement of the blown pop fly and the game continued. Things like that probably don’t happen elsewhere.

There’s a bit of the “chokin’ dog” in all of us, things we could have done better or would have been better off letting somebody else take care of only our blind driven need to do it ourselves got in the way. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the game of baseball so much; gives me a chance to see what could have been, what might have been with all the chances to have done it better and make it come out in our favor. Here’s looking forward to game 3 where the Astros get it done right.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I wouldn't know a Donkey from a Mule

For the "rest of the story" Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Houston Astros - National League Champions 2005

Roy Oswalt pitched a gem to clinch the National League Pennant. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Lucy and I got to pop the top on our bottle of sparkling grape soda (Mormon Champagne) after the Astros finished off the Cardinals tonight. Saturday will be the first ever World Series for our Astros. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Can we ignore the truth?

I was reading an essay written by William Leggett during the Jacksonian era. The form of government that we now have is so far removed from that which was ever intended as to be nearly unrecognizable. I stumbled upon this through my blog roamings. Please visit Hamstermotor to catch the complete essay.

“Our own Government, most especially, has assumed and exercised an authority over the people, not unlike that of weak and vacillating parents over their children, and with about the same degree of impartiality…”


“…Our Government has thus exercised the right of dispensing favours to one or another class of citizens at will; of directing its patronage first here and then there; of bestowing one day and taking back the next; of giving to the few and denying to the many; of investing wealth with new and exclusive privileges, and distributing, as it were at random, and with a capricious policy, in unequal portions, what it ought not to bestow, or what, if given away, should be equally the portion of all.”
There was another line in the essay which, if taken to task holds the key to establishing that form of government upon which all freedoms depend and upon which the future also may depend.

“Time will remedy the departures which have already been made from this sound republican system, if the people but jealously watch and indignantly frown on any future attempts to invade their equal rights, or appropriate to the few what belongs to all alike.”

Unfortunately William Leggett has been proven incorrect when he concluded, “Time will remedy the departure”; instead, time has only given wings to the nightmare of socialism with unbridled fury and propelled it to a level and scope that he could hardly have imagined possible. I say that he could hardly have imagined such as possible only because he had no idea that our current populace of citizenry has been asleep, in a deep fog which has left them distanced from those important aspects of the America founded on sound principles and established with divine purpose. Are we willing to remedy the departures which have already been made?

That would mean doing away with an income tax system which penalizes success, abandoning affirmative action in all its various forms and discarding nearly every form of welfare. These programs have all been set up to redistribute wealth under the guise of assisting the needy or to make up for past injustices. These, our Congressmen and Senators, have established themselves as a new ruling class, that being contrary to the defining principles of our Republic, by usurping powers never granted unto them. Permitting government to usurp and then hold onto and manipulate the strings of prosperity, those powers originally reserved for individual citizens, has transformed freedom into servitude. Isn’t it time to wake up from this induced euphoria, that state of mind which supposes and assumes “something for nothing” without regard for consequences?

Let me warn you; as soon as you mention any of those sacred cows as possible sacrificial lambs you will be labeled as being without compassion, racist and mean spirited. Still up for the challenge?

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Player of the Game is …

With two outs in the 9th and the Astros ahead on a 3 run homer by Lance Berkman the announcer put the double hex on our first bid to go to the big dance. They started talking about how there would be no more games played at the stadium up in St. Louis as it was to be demolished, started giving out the closing credits to wrap up as the last pitch was being delivered. “Our player of the game is Lance Berkman!”. The next batter was the pesky Eckstein who managed to stay alive, behind in the count with two strikes against him, he hits a seeing eye single through the left side. Edmunds followed with a walk which brings up Albert Puhols.

I’ve never been in a train wreck, a plane crash or had a grenade blow up in my stomach; at least not until I watched a Brad Lidge slider flatten out on its way through the hitting zone and was redirected into a trajectory that would take it across the tracks and out of the park. Had the roof been open it would have crossed Crawford street and made it back to St. Louis all on its own.

I just walked the dogs around the block; they say that doing something normal helps to bring about normalcy when things are going badly. I’m not sure that helps to be totally honest about the range of emotions that have been running around here. I know; the Astros are still ahead and only have to win one of two games to get to the Series, just let me alone for a few minutes while I get a handle here.

Okay, Game 6 on Wednesday in St. Louis. Why do I feel like it’s the Astros who have their backs against the wall?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Fat Lady is Warming Up

Taveras scores go ahead run ( photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated web site)

The Astros squeaked by the Cardinals to take a 3 – 1 advantage into their best of 7 series this afternoon. I say squeaked because nothing was certain until the last out had been recorded on a double play, which if not completed would have permitted the tying run to score.

The Astros have never been to the World Series and it looks like this might be a first. Pettit, Oswalt and Clemens are lined up as needed; the fat lady was seen warming up in the bull pen next to Lidge. ( special note: this was not a weight challenged woman or any other PC term intended to portray excessively large builds as anything other than fat; she's there to sing, not to look at ) While this may not constitute a “spiritual” blog, something I normally reserve for Sunday; there is no doubt that our spirits are soaring here in Houston. Go Astros!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Weighing in on Charges against Tom Delay

The ugliness of politics continues to abound here in the Great State of Texas. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert on politics; far from it, I am simply an observer. Up until now I have held back my opinion of this latest bizarre, and that is the best word I can come up with, this bizarre set of circumstances which has blossomed into Indictments against a United States Senator.

In this morning’s Houston Chronicle I read an article ( link in title bar) by R. G. Ratcliffe where it seems that a key piece of evidence necessary for the State to make it’s case against Tom Delay or any of the other named “conspirators” is not to be had.

“But prosecutors said Friday in court that they only had a "similar" list and not the one allegedly received by then-RNC Deputy Director Terry Nelson. Late in the day, they released a list of 17 Republican candidates, but only seven are alleged to have received money in the scheme.”


“"Despite the fact that the state cannot conclusively prove that the said document is a duplicate (or copy thereof)" of the document given to Nelson, the "state believes that the document is at least factually related" to the document mentioned in the indictment, Reed said in a court brief filed after the hearing.”

I find it strikingly similar to those “original documents” that Dan Rather had, the ones he claimed proved without a question of a doubt that Bush was AWOL, the documents which were almost immediately proven to be fraudulent. It’s a sad day when the people who head up the prosecutor’s office unabashedly attempt to push through a very weak case at best that is based on nothing more than “similar to the original”, “duplicate” and then comes out and defends such an incredibly poor foundation by saying that, “the document is at least factually related”. "Factually related?", isn’t that the same as saying we have NO evidence; But, we “feel” certain that if we had some it would prove our case?

Here in America it’s okay to file charges against anyone, attempt to destroy their careers, destroy their name and all on some politically oriented scheme that has no evidence to back it up. I’m not saying that something illegal “may” or may not have gone on or that an investigation of those events was not in order; only that when the path leads to a dead end with no hard evidence, official charges cannot be permitted to be filed. Now the district attorney’s office claims that “if only we can have some more time to find evidence; fishing through private telephone billing receipts of anyone who might be the key to our case…”, sorry, that won’t float.

Carnival of Liberty XVI is coming soon, next Tuesday to be precise,

Thursday, October 13, 2005

So, how was that apple?

This has to make you wonder... ( click on comic to enlarge )

Follow this link to read more. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Zero Tolerance Mentality

I was reading the Houston Chronicle website this morning and came across a story that probably won’t stir up much on the national media scene. A local school bus driver accidentally ran over and killed a young girl back in August, a tragedy which forced the system to charge him with negligent homicide. Assistant District Attorney Warren Diepraam wants to make a clear statement and so the bus driver, Jerry Michael Cook, 41, was charged with murder following a probable cause hearing before state District Judge Marc Carter. Cook also was charged with negligent homicide, said Warren Diepraam, an assistant Harris County district attorney. (emphasis added)

“Diepraam said he chose to seek a murder charge and not just the criminal negligent homicide because the law provides extra protection for children.”

According to the article blood tests taken after the accident did not reveal the use of alcohol or any illegal drugs; something that would have justified such an upgrade in criminal charges.

“Cook's attorney Robert Fickman said his client would plead not guilty at the time of trial.

"We simply believe it was a tragic accident," Fickman said”

{ … }

But Diepraam said, "accidents are against the law, too."

I would like to point out the trend in our society of “over kill” when dealing with otherwise minor lapses that fall under various conditions of the human condition. This trend of going all out to enforce rules and laws that ignore the fact that life happens along the way, accidents happen along the way; that “save our children” as an idea will make us a better society, does nothing to bring back those children lost already and only brings about rigidity to an already inflexible society.

What about the other victim, the bus driver? Here is a human being who has to live with the memory of that day. For what ever reason, he momentarily was not alert; whether it was due to some disturbance on the bus, a speck of dust landing in his eyes, the sun bouncing off the windshield of another vehicle; that will remain with him all his life. One thing we do know, the accident was not the result of his having ingested alcohol or some illegal drug. He didn’t put gun sights on the front of his bus and line up that little girl in the cross hairs, drool forming in the corner of his lips as he thought to himself, “Now I’ve got you my pretty. Those ruby slippers are mine!”

The State of Texas has decided that not only did he have a tragic accident, one that took the life of a young girl; but that somewhere down the road, IF the State of Texas can destroy this bus driver, drag his good name across the pavement leaving raw meat and fresh blood for all to see that it will serve as a sufficient warning to never ever again permit any future accidents. With logic like that we all need to stay in bed until we die.

I heard a motivational talk one time that covers chance, that part of life of which we are all subjected to. The example used was of a man who missed out on life’s opportunities because he was afraid that something might not go perfectly. The man wouldn’t leave home until all the traffic lights along his projected route were all green.

In a mock job interview where the applicant was holding back on his commitment to sign up with his future employer he was reluctant; sitting on a fence as it were. “Well, what if on my way to work I have an accident, my leg gets broken and I end up in the hospital for an extended period of time; would that be covered under your company insurance benefit policy?”

The interviewer pondered the question and then asked one of his own, “Okay, so you have a bad accident, only instead of breaking your leg, your neck is broken and you become paralyzed for the rest of your natural life; isn’t that just as possible in a bad accident? What then?”

“You’re making fun of me”, the applicant replied and squirmed in his seat for having opened up a Pandora’s Box, the old, “what if game”.

Is the example I put here related to the bus driver accidentally running over and killing a young girl? What about the nature of government officials attempting to overcome the laws of nature by establishing a set of rules to prevent the unpreventable?

Here are some extensions of that form of logic. From this day forth NASA has the responsibility of stopping all meteors from crashing into the Earth. Should a meteor actually cause damage, either from tidal wave after impacting the oceans or by landing on an inhabited area and causing loss of life; at that time criminal charges of Murder will be brought to bear on those in charge. Laugh if you will; but it is no more ridiculous than the State of Texas going for Jerry Cook’s jugular when other alternatives with less impact would have sufficed.

By the way, there will likely be an opening for the position of bus driver. Now that we have a better understanding of the risk involved in that particular endeavor; anybody want to apply for that position? Great benefits package; sign up today.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Probable Cause

My BMW Z- 3 Coupe

I got stopped the other night on the way home from Minute Maid Park where the Astros ate up the Braves on the way to winning a Divisional playoff. Lucy and I were in the little green Z going home the back roads.

We had waited a fair amount of time sitting with the engine off on the second floor of a parking garage while 43 thousand baseball fans were in gridlock trying to leave downtown. The sports talk show had intermittent breaks to update the freeways and how they were handling the crowd. There was a report of a major accident on I-45 headed north near Parker with a car on fire; the way we had planned to go, and so we decided to head over to Shepherd via Memorial.

It was a good choice as we had almost no traffic to contend with once we crossed Main all the way to Shepherd and points north. We then took Stuebner-Airline rather than get on the freeway, again to avoid the ball game crowd. I could see some kind of emergency vehicle lights up ahead about half a mile. It was a Sheriff’s Department vehicle off on the shoulder and I could see the Deputy standing next to the vehicle he’d pulled over. I let a car pass me so I could move over one lane and get past. I had gotten about half a mile on down the road when I saw emergency lights pulling up behind me. I pulled off to the side and waited for the officer to walk up where I was prepared and had my license and my insurance card ready.

“Good evening, officer. May I help you?” I knew I hadn’t been speeding as I waited for some explanation for having been stopped.

“State law requires you to slow to 15mph when approaching a police unit with its emergency lights flashing or move over a full lane…” The officer recited the exact wording of the law as if I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Sir, I did move over to the other lane and did not get back into the other lane until well after passing you.” He took my license and insurance card back to his patrol unit where I can only assume that he ran all the regular checks to see if I had outstanding warrants and check on my driving history. I did comment to Lucy that he was the kind of asshole ( a technical term reserved for brash young patrolmen who overstep their legal limits ) that makes cops look bad; stopping folks for no real reason and having to rely on a bluff. Five minutes later he handed me my license and insurance card back; warning me to slow it down, no traffic ticket since no violation had occurred to begin with.

My guess was that he saw a hot looking sports car and decided that driving a hot looking sports car was probable cause enough and that something would happen the moment he turned on his light bar. He was right; I got angry and decided to blog about it.
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Sunday, October 09, 2005

“Pinch Hitting for Wheeler....., Roger Clemens”

I just got through watching one of the best baseball games of all time as the Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves to win their Divisional Playoff Series and move on to the National League Playoffs in St. Louis. The game had all kinds of records to put in the books, the most obvious was that it took 18 innings and just shy of 6 full hours to find out which team was going to win, that’s a new record for Post Season games.

Then there was the fact that there were two Grand Slam Home Runs hit in the same ball game, one by each side; another record. The Braves blew a 6 – 1 lead when Lance Berkman blasted a Grand Slam in the 8th to move within a run followed by Brad Ausmus who hit one half an inch over the yellow stripe with 2 out in the bottom of the ninth sending the game into extra innings.

It tied a record when the Astros used 23 of 25 available players; the only ones not inserted into the game were Roy Oswalt who pitched last night’s game and Andie Petite, scheduled to pitch the next game as a starter. Those on the field had to play it out to the end, “last man standing” baseball can be brutal. Each missed opportunity to score was torture knowing that so much was at stake; an Astros win meant that the Braves season was over while on the other hand a Braves win would mean yet another trip back to Atlanta for a 5th and deciding game there.

The relief pitchers were used up quickly leaving only Wheeler, who came in and pitched scoreless ball until it was his turn to bat in the 15th. Roger Clemens had volunteered to be used as a relief pitcher, had already completed his warm up tosses and had come in to sit on the bench. In his 21 years in the Major League Roger Clemens had only been used as a relief pitcher one time; a couple of innings when he was with Boston his first year. Roger had never been called upon to pick up a bat to pinch hit, never! He put down a sacrifice bunt and headed back to the dugout to slap some high fives; but the team didn’t score for him.

Roger pitched 3 scoreless innings as he closed out the top of the 18th and was scheduled to lead off. There were no other players, no relief pitchers to take his place and so he stood there and took a couple of nasty rips; who knows, maybe one would clear the fence on the fly and he could set another record, 1st home run. That didn’t happen. A young fellow, Chris Burke ripped a walk off home run over the Crawford Boxes and that’s how the game ended.

The last “great game” that came even close was in the playoffs between the New York Mets and the Astros back in 1986. The difference between that one and this was that this time the Astros won and by doing so get to continue playing in October baseball.

Friday, October 07, 2005

You got bullet proof glass?

Mercedes Benz 500 C

It’s funny how some things catch your attention while driving down the road just minding your own business. Take today example; I happened to look off to my left at a very nice looking Mercedes 500 C all polished and sparkling to the 9’s. The fellow driving must have watched way too many reruns of the Sopranos. He was mid to late 50’s with his hair all pulled back close to the scalp ending with a neat looking pony tail hanging just above the top of his thousand dollar dark grey pin strip suit. Instead of a standard white shirt and tie he wore a dark grey or black pull over. I could tell it was expensive by the way it fit, not some cheap off the rack suit; this spoke “custom fitted” even from my limited view it was that nice looking.

I was tempted to roll my window down and motion for him to do the same, “Hey, tough guy, yea you tough guy.”

When he rolled his window down, “Hey, you talkin’ ta’ me?”, or something like that.

“Yea, tough guy. Just wonderin’; is that bullet proof glass?”

“Yea, why you askin, punk?”

“Maybe you shoulda’ kept it rolled up is all.”, as I line up the sights in my 357 and pop his butt into the next freakin’ dimension of time and space.

I gotta’ wonder, what someone who dresses like that does for a living. Nice car and an interesting get up he was wearing had me wondering what he did, other than watch a couple of hoodlum movies and spend a lot of money. I gotta’ clean my pistol and get ready for my next trip down the road; be seein’ ya’.
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Prime Numbers

B.C. Comic courtesy of Houston Chronicle ( click on comic to enlarge )

It’s Friday morning and I’m sitting around waiting for the computer wizard repairman to show up. He’s supposed to be here between 9 and 11 to make the wireless cable modem work so I don’t have to go upstairs and access the internet via my daughter’s computer. I find myself avoiding the internet because it’s so awkward, the way my daughter has all her computer gadgets set up. I like to read so many news sources and blogs, comment or come up with my own blog and that has not been happening.

I read the comics this morning; part of my daily routine, and came across one that I could share. Actually, it made me think of my friend Tony, Red Mind in a Blue State, and so I scanned and cropped it for him. He must be very busy because I haven’t seen a post from him in quite a while; looking forward to his Friday Quickies has become as much a habit as reading the comics each morning.

Time Warner/Road Runner put me on hold for thirty minutes while I was attempting to verify the scheduled appointment. According to their records the appointment for sometime between 10 and 11am; so what’s another hour wasted as long as the job gets done? I had to punch a number each time, “For English push 1”, “If this is for new television, telephone or high speed internet push 1, for downgrading service push 2, for a chance to date Britney Spears push 3”, and so on until I finally got into a loop that kept telling me to hold because all of the human beings were currently assisting other customers.

I learned all about Prime Numbers from the movie Contact; well, actually, I heard about them before that and just never considered them all that relevant to everyday life as a locksmith. I deal with key codes; depth of cut and their respective spaces along the blade of a specific key blank in order to obtain a factory cut key which will operate when inserted into a keyhole. Numbers are numbers until they are assigned meaning and so calling one Prime while all the others are relegated into some other order; well, that just isn’t the American Way of doing things. I’m thinking ACLU about now and how to rectify wholesale discrimination of minority numbers.

I tried to call the 1-800 number listed for the folks who build and service the camper shell on my service truck. I was driving down the freeway and happened to see it on the back of another vehicle. I must have punched in one digit incorrectly while attempting to travel within the lane markers; the provocative female voice on the other end asked for my Master Card number, “ To talk with Bridgett – push 1, Noel – push 2, for Yolanda – push 3 ...,”

The repairman just finished; took all of 5 minutes to install the proper driver from a CD, a CD that should have been given us at the time the wireless system was installed. I had him burn me a copy so that the next time it happens, not if, when, I can fetch the disk and install the drivers. I just checked my email and there were only 144 new ones along with a message telling me to update my Anti-Virus program, now that’s important
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Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's Only a Game

The Astros are in the first round of playoffs battling the Braves in a best of 5 series. I found my blood pressure elevating with each pitched ball. Lucy would remind me, “It’s only a game!” as the Astros left the bases loaded and missed yet another golden opportunity to blow the game wide open early on.

In the 8th inning the Astros jumped all over Atlanta with 5 runs to give them a 10-3 lead with only 6 outs to go. I relaxed for a few moments knowing that even the fierce Atlanta Braves would be hard pressed to come up with 7 runs. Two runs came in and I could feel a slight uneasiness welling inside when two more batters reached safely. Worse than that, they had turned the lineup over and were now strutting their heavy hitters at us. The Astros had a 10-5 lead with only 2 outs left and I felt as if we were hanging on to a slim margin of a lead. Lucy was pacing her steps in a small circle in front of the television as I reminded her, “It’s only a game.” Neither of us believe that line, at least not when the Astros are involved.

Football, basketball, hockey; yes, “It’s only a game” applies to those sports. “Baseball is life” is printed on a pull over shirt I saw at the mall. Game 2 is this evening and I hope I’m up for it. I was physically exhausted and went to bed early; but, “It’s only a game.”

Bonnie bought a couple of tickets for game 3 at Minute Maid Park this Saturday. It would have been nice to go together; but, she is in California working this week.
Lucy and I will force ourselves to sit up in the nose bleed section, something I have grown to love over the years since that’s where you find the true baseball fans. I’ll have my newly purchased Astros’jersey on, my Astros’ ball cap along with my ball glove for that limited chance to catch a pop fly.

Wouldn’t it be great to have them come home two games up with a chance to clinch on Saturday? We could be watching an historic event as the Astros make a run for the pennant and a chance to take on the World Series. I keep telling myself, “It’s only a game” and that life goes on win or lose. If you believe that I have some land in West Texas I could sell you. Go Astros, Go Roger The Rocket Clemens and the Killer B”s!

Here are the Killer B’s:
Biggio, TaBeras, Bagwell, Bruntlett, Berkman, EnsBerg, Bane, Balmeiro, EBerett, AusBus, and Bizcaino.

( Just a note: The folks at Road Runner/Time Warner are scheduled to fix the LAN thingy that makes wireless internet work sometime Friday. At that time I will be back to regular blogging; reading my favorites and posting my own. )

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

This weekend is General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We have the opportunity to hear from the leadership and other chosen speakers on topics relating to our temporal and spiritual welfare.

Have you ever contemplated what it would have been like to sit down at the feet of one of the Prophets of old; Isaiah, Job, Malachi or Matthew. What would they have said that might alter the manner in which you live your life? My guess is that they would have said pretty much the same things as are written in the Holy Scriptures; obey the commandments, trust in God and be of good cheer for the Gospel is true.

Come listen to a Prophet’s Voice is a favorite hymn of mine. (click on the title bar to listen. click on "words and music" for best results.) Now, Click on the link below and hear what is important. There are 4 sessions of General Conference available via the internet and can be listened to in the comfort of your home. You may be disappointed when you find that the leaders of the Church have their feet firmly on the ground, that the talks given might not sound any different than; obey the commandments, trust in God and be of good cheer for the Gospel is true.

In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen,5161,6148,00.html