Friday, August 31, 2007

Not Funny. Not Funny At All

I don't like bugs.

I can handle most of them, but not spiders. Spiders just plain freak me out.

But you have to read this story. Yeah ... 200 yards of spider web.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Gay or Republican? The Liberal Conundrum

Lots of liberals are confused, and I can't stop laughing.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, is involved in some big scandal concerning whether or not he tried to get it on with another guy in an airport bathroom. There are also other allegations from people saying he hit on them, and even one guy who says he had sex with the senator.

He just says he's "not gay," but I guess the jury is still out on that one.

So, because he always acted and voted along conservative lines, there are some liberals going nutty about the hypocrisy of it all, and how shameful his behavior was, yada yada yada.

And if he did all that stuff, then yeah, it is shameful, because that's just nasty stuff.

Note to liberals: Conservatives have been saying that for a while now.

Republicans immediately began calling for this guy to get out, tossed him off committees and telling him to resign.

OK, so that part's not really funny.

But this part is: How can liberals truly criticize Craig if all these actions turn out to be those of a closeted homosexual trying to hide his true self from everyone around him? Isn't that one of their "things," encouraging people with "alternative lifestyles" to live openly instead of hiding in shame?

Come on, it's funny. Liberals may have to decide whether they should take the opportunity to blast a Republican, or to help a persecuted gay person.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hackers Are Your Friends

Over-the-top consumerism is pretty crazy, but the way companies exploit that consumerism can be downright disgusting.

Let's take a look at Apple's iPhone.

It looks pretty cool, but it's really expensive, and Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T means that in order to buy and use the $500+ phone you also have to subscribe to AT&T's $50+ per month iPhone plan.

It's a sweet deal, with 2 companies keeping technology to themselves in order to retain a monopoly at the expense of you and I.

But a New Jersey teenager spent a whole lot of time working with other hackers and crackers to modify the iPhone so that people who use other cell phone companies can use an iPhone. His efforts have earned him news time and a new Nissan roadster.

Now, other people who were working on ways to hack the iPhone, with the goal of selling the information to the public, are catching heat from AT&T.

Regardless of the legal mumbo-jumbo these giant companies spit out, if you go buy an iPhone, or any other gadget, does anyone have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with the item?

Can you imagine buying a car and then not being "allowed" to put in your own car stereo, because the you could have bought one from the car company? Or the Gap telling you that you're not allowed to make shorts out of your jeans because they already sell shorts?

To me, once I buy something, it's mine to do with as I please.

Today, when companies routinely say "to Hell with the consumer," the hacking community is an asset to the rest of us: When flaws were discovered in Verizon's Razr phone software, the hackers on the Net had it fixed in 2 days, while Verizon's response to complaining customers was basically "Oh well."

When early Apple iPods had file transfer problems, the hackers fixed that, too, long before Apple thought it important.

So, embrace hackers -- Sure, once in a while a hacker might do something bad, like break into secure information with the intention of misusing that info, but that's no reason to generalize against all hackers.

One last thing that I find interesting in all this ... Apple, a company hailed by many people as the alternative to the evil empire Microsoft, isn't all that concerned with the regular folks after all if it means less profit.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Poverty and the Government

Here's an interesting story about some proposed changes in subsidized health care.

What struck me in this article was this:

"In Maryland, a family of four with an income of up to $61,950 is now eligible
for the program. But the Bush administration wants to limit the benefit to those
families that have incomes between $20,650 and $41,300, or between one and two
times the federal poverty level."

The whole things confuses me, especially in terms of the "poverty level."

OK -- if you have a set "poverty level," then people whose income is in that range are "poor." That much I understand. But if someone's income level is higher than that number, then those people are no longer "poor," right?

So, if someone is not "poor," then why would taxpayer monies be used to provide them with anything?

It raises interesting questions about what we consider necessities, what things we as a country seem to just assume people should have.

Think about all the things you have, all the things you do, that are really technically luxuries:
  • Cable TV vs. free network TV
  • Internet service vs. using the library
  • Clothing from stores like the Gap, vs. Wal-Mart and Target
  • Going to the movies
  • Dining out or take-out, vs. home cooked meals
  • Cell phones with texting, vs. an emergency only pay-as-you-go phone
  • State-of-the-art toys and video games, vs. older, less expensive models
  • Air conditioning

There are many things that we seem to just consider necessities that people didn't all used to have.

And I'm guilty of it, too. Whenever I fret about not having a lot of money after paying bills, I stop and think about the bills that are completely my choice to have.

Just something to think about -- if you really cut back and lived very simply, how much money would you end up saving each month? And, how many things do you pay for now to have private access to that are also available for free if you used community property?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Deserving of Death -- Now, Not Later

John Couey was sentenced to death and 3 consecutive life sentences today for the kidnapping, rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford in Florida.

Couey saw the girl playing in her yard one day. He went back to her home at night, broke in, kidnapped her and brought her to his trailer, where for 3 days he kept her in a closet and raped her.

After police began closing in on the location and looking at Couey as a suspect, he told the girl he was going to take her back to her father. He told the girl that she had to hide in a garbage bag so he would not be seen with her. She complied.

Binding her wrists with wire, Couey tied her in the first garbage bag, then in a second garbage bag. He dig a hole, put the girl in the hole and buried her alive.

Couey then had a relative buy him a bus ticket, which he used to flee to Georgia. When apprehended in Georgia, he denied any involvement in the girl's disappearance.

Couey's defense lawyers offered several mitigating factors to the court: his mother was only 16 when he was born; he was born with deformed ears, which were later surgically corrected; he has a low IQ; he had a history of drug use; his mother could not care for him and he was raised by relatives; he behaved well in court; he behaved well in prison. ...

I'm not kidding. That's what these lawyers actually presented as "evidence" to why Couey should be spared a death sentence.

They tried to say that he is so mentally slow that he is technically retarded. Neither the judge nor jury bought it, seeing as he was smart enough to hatch a plan, smart enough to know to hide the girl, smart enough to kill the girl, and smart enough to flee.

If you honestly think a bad childhood, low IQ or floppy ears should somehow remove culpability for the premeditated kidnap, rape and murder of a child, then you are not only as dumb as a brick, but should be removed from society yourself for being a liability to the rest of us.

My only problem with this sentence is that it could take 10 years of appeals before Couey is actually sentenced, and in that time he will not be mixed with the general prison population, who would almost certainly kill him. It's not fair that taxpayers -- including the family of the dead girl -- should have to feed, clothe and house this guy for a single day.

This poor excuse for a human should have been shot dead on the spot, and his body thrown into the nearest landfill -- no shroud, no service, no grave -- for the birds and bugs to consume.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Don't Believe Polls

Every day you can find a news story citing a poll -- how feel about politicians, or soda, or TV, or drinking ... you can find stories about polls that detail "America's" attitude toward sex, love, marriage, eating, drinking ...

And every one of these stories uses the poll to make a conclusion -- approval ratings, election picks -- and then that conclusion is presented to us, the public, as if it were truth.

Problem is, polls are pure crap.

Tonight's example: here's a story about a poll that tell us that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a book last year. It also details who reads what and how often.

This is a nationwide poll, that is supposed to represent 302,666,681 Americans (July 2007 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau). Stop, and read that number again. Three hundred and two million people ... and this poll is based on the responses of 1,003 people.

The population of Connecticut was 3,510,297 in 2005 ... for God's sake, the population in West Haven was 52,721!

I don't care how many formulas or algorithms you use, you simply cannot judge what a million people think by asking only a thousand of them, let alone the numbers these polls really use.

1,003 = 302,666,681 ??

I'm not even going to go into all the "conclusions" this particular poll found, because it would drive me mad and I'd end up swearing, which I'm told I can't do here -- but I don't think you can draw any conclusions about anything by asking a thousand people, other than what those thousand people think.

If each state was represented evenly, which already would skew the results, each would have about what, 20 people, representing the whole state?

Just think -- in your daily travels, how many total morons do you see? With a sample rate of only 1,003 ... hell, 5 morons from each state could throw the numbers way off.

And you're supposed to consider that kind of information valid?

It just gets under my skin, is all, because then these polls are put in newspapers as if they're some kind of true statements. As far as I'm concerned, polls belong on the Op-Ed page.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Worthwhile Research?

Here's a story about researchers who say that a virus may contribute to some people's obesity.

It's an interesting read. ... Although at the end of the story, Dr. Barbara B. Kahn, chief of the division of endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said, "In general, to become obese there has to be some sort of mismatch between energy intake and energy expenditure."

Kind of negates the need for all the research.

So, what do you think? Is this kind of research just wasted time? I mean, to me, with all the people getting cancer or AIDS or other really bad diseases, it seems silly to spend time and money on research like this.

Dogfighting - Biting the Hand That Feeds

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick says he will plead guilty to federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, an admission that likely will mean prison time. Here's the full story.

This is one of those stories that just makes me cringe. It's just so wrong. Even worse than the idea of training the dogs to fight is what happens after the fight -- losing dogs, I guess, are killed by drowning, hanging, shooting ...

What makes this particular story more appalling is that Vick is a guy with money and fame ... and this is what he contributes to society?

I don't want to generalize too much here ... but I can't help but wonder if this is the kind of stuff that happens when you take ignorant, bad people and make them filthy rich because they can throw a ball. We see lots of bad behavior in basketball, football and some other sports, committed by people who, were it not for their ability to play a game well, would otherwise be toward the bottom of the societal food chain.

It's the "Paris Hilton" effect -- take someone who really has no tangible worth to society, make them rich and famous, and then watch as they act like idiots. The sad part is that we are the ones who give them that power.

Ah, Technology

So you've got a new cell phone with a built-in digital camera; maybe you've even snapped a photo or two of something you saw while you were out.

Here's a story about a guy who gives new meaning to the phrase "embracing technology."

Monday, August 20, 2007

No Matter Who Wrote It, It's Good

I received this in my e-mail. After all the spam and chain letters, it was good to read something like this for a change. I don't know who wrote it, but it's good!



"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other mealy-mouthed bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but NO ONE is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; But the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful, do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, or intentionally maim or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.

ARTICLE VII : You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an over abundance of idiotic laws created by those who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X: This is an English-speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all, with no fear of persecution. The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part of our heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!!!!

Pretty smart stuff. I Googled it and some say it was written by state Rep. Mitchell Kaye of Georgia, others say it was Lewis Napper, a Mississippi man who ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2000 as a Libertarian.
Personally, I don't care who wrote it -- it's good. If you read it and think it's hateful, or discriminatory or anything other than common sense, then it's probably meant for you!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

New Haven Advocate - Slant, Bias & Deception

I just finished reading the current issue of the New Haven Advocate, and I had to post something about it or I was going to crack a tooth from grinding my jaw so hard.

Now, keep in mind that the paper has always been a pretty liberal publication. While they've poked fun at all sorts of people, they tended to pretty much toe the left-wing line.

But the current issue has a whole spread on the flap over New Haven handing out municipal ID cards to everyone, including illegal aliens, complete with the life stories of a handful of the people scooped up in the infamous immigration raids in the Elm City recently.

I read the article (and you should, too) and it wasn't bad. I mean, once you put aside the whole concept of immigration policy, these are OK people with some heavy issues. (Unfortunately, once you put aside the concept of thievery, people who steal are OK, too.)

The argument over illegal immigration is a classic example of how liberals argue -- they ignore the basic fact that makes their argument moot (that someone is here illegally), and then they can portray that person as a victim of unsympathetic hatemongers (e.g., conservatives).

But that's not even what irked me -- I knew what to expect before I opened the paper.

No, what got my goat was the alleged reprints of angry e-mails city aldermen had supposedly received from around the country, bashing New Haven and its municipal ID program. It would have been amusing, because some of the people that sent these e-mails must be total mouth-breathers, but it irked me because it was a sly way of accusing anyone who disagrees with the liberal stance of being among those loons.

The whole idea of a newspaper is to present all views so your readers can make informed decisions, and I suppose technically the Advocate did that -- only they cherry-picked the most moronic folks they could find to represent the opposition, slanting the "news" and making their agenda seen like the only real intelligent view.

I'm not a moron, or a redneck, or a hatemonger or Klansman, yet I don't support unlawful behavior -- but you would think after reading the Advocate that the only smart people in the state are the ones that subscribe wholeheartedly to the liberal agenda. (Funny, though, that Democrat DeStefano lost the gubernatorial election by such a huge margin to a Republican -- which I guess proves that (a) at least us rednecks can figure out how to get to a voting booth on Election Day and (b) courting people who can't legally vote isn't a great political plan.)

Anyway, back to the bias ... I've seen it all too often before among liberal outlets, so I'm not surprised, but still ticked off.

The Advocate bills itself as a "News & Arts Weekly" -- well, this week it's a "New & Arts Weekly" thanks to some crack editing -- but editorialized slant pieces are not news.

It makes me especially sad because the editor of the Advocate is a former co-worker of mine, and one of the better reporters I have known in my 10 years as a newsperson.

I guess I expected him to lead the paper in a new direction, one of debate and information.

I guess I was wrong.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I was all freaked out this week because a woman was murdered 4 houses away from my apartment in West Haven.

Immediately I started to question whether I had moved to as good a neighborhood as I thought. (I moved recently because my old apartment was in front of a housing project full of trashy people that threw trash everywhere and stole anything that wasn't nailed down.)

I thought maybe I should have spent some extra dough and moved to Milford or Orange or Branford.

Then they arrested a suspect in the murder, and he lives in a pretty nice part of Branford.

So I guess it doesn't matter where you live, undesirable people are everywhere.

More Edwards vs. Coulter

Here's a neat story ...

John Edwards was giving a speech and he referred to Ann Coulter as a "she-devil" ... and then said she uses hateful language.

So, even though Edwards has a great head of hair, the head itself is empty. "She-devil" is somehow not "hateful language" ... ?

But, it doesn't even matter. That was just part of the fun of this story. If you read the story, coming off ABC News, you'll see that yet another reporter misquotes Coulter and takes her words out of context in order to slant the story. (Refer to my earlier Edwards vs. Coulter posts.)

And the beauty, the part that makes me happiest, is that in the reader comments to that story, they all noticed it, the ABC liberal bias.

Well, the smart ones noticed it, the stupid ones just said Edwards would make a good president.

Edwards is just ... icky. Any guy that uses his wife's cancer to score sympathy points with the public is not only a shameful man, he's not a man at all.

What he should have done when his wife's cancer came back, if he was even half a man, would have been to quit the campaign and take care of her. Period. Don't give me any crap about a noble mission or about how his wife wants him to forge ahead ... he's so rich he doesn't have to work, he could have just quit and taken care of the woman he supposedly loves.

Purely because of that, I would rather live in Cuba than under an Edwards presidency, because at least Castro is a man with principles.

Canadian Newspapers Lie, Too

I was reading an article in the Montreal Gazette about Jenna Bush's engagement, and it confused me.

It starts off with this: "Jenna Bush's hard-drinking, hard-partying days as one of the most eligible bachelorettes in the United States appear to be over."


I know there had a been a story about her getting caught trying to use a fake ID to get into a dance party at Toad's Place when she was in New Haven, and another where she was caught with a beer while still underage, but "hard-drinking" and "hard-partying" ... ?

What a joke. Even if you hate George Bush with all your soul, you still have to admit that this is just shoddy journalism. I used to be a serious drinker, and believe me, Jenna Bush -- at least as far as the public has been informed so far -- is nowhere near "hard-drinking" status.

The article also says, "Jenna and her twin sister, Barbara, have for years provided gossip columnists with fodder thanks to a string of highly publicized run-ins with the law and a fondness for late-night partying in the nightclubs of Manhattan and Georgetown."

I don't think I would call Jenna Bush's past "a string of run-ins with the law," or try to make her out to be Paris Hilton, Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. The article notes JB was "once cited for underage drinking." Once? So that's what Canadian news considers "hard-drinking" now?

It's obviously slanted "news" ... or just an attempt at sensationalist writing. Even the title of the piece, "Party girl Jenna Bush settles for the bridal path," is misleading. The incidents of her trying to drink while underage are already years-old (and weren't even that juicy when they were fresh!), and in the recent past the only news we've heard is of her work with charitable organizations and humanitarian efforts.

So, to refer to her as a "party girl" and to say that her engagement is "settling" is just poor writing, and, to a critical reader, brings into question the validity of any reporting by writer Sheldon Alberts of the CanWest News Service.

Charitable Misgivings

I donate regularly to the American Cancer Society and the ASPCA, and somehow wound up on "the list."

So, now, I get calls and mailers for every charity under the sun: cops, cops' families. kids, retarded kids, blind kids, blind veterans.

I was uncomfortable. I don't like telephone solicitations to begin with, and the fact that they were obscure charities I'd never heard of made me more leery. I would usually tell the person I just wasn't interested.

But then I started looking into some of them online and I was shocked at what I saw.

Almost all of these charities were indeed charitable organizations, listed with the state -- they were legitimate.

Problem is, they were only legitimate in terms of being a registered organization; how they actually spend the money is nothing but a sham.

The majority of the funds collected -- in many cases 80 percent to 90 percent -- go to "administrative costs."


You know that the only costs should be?

A desk. A chair. ... A telephone, pads, pens, envelopes and stamps. That's it. Volunteers should make the calls, get the cash, send it to the veterans.

If I donate a buck to a veterans group, and only a dime goes to the veterans, that's a worthless, losing situation. What the hell good is a dime going to do? The Fund for American Veterans gives like 4-5 percent to veterans, the rest disappears.

Not all charities work this way -- Google anyone that asks you for money, and you'll find something somewhere that tells you how much of your donation they pocket. It's disgusting.

So now, when they call, I ask them flat out how much goes to the intended recipient.

If they tell me and it's too low, I tell them they're bad people and that they can go fall in a hole.

If they say they don't know, I tell them to mail me a letter and I'll look it up, and if I find out it's too low then they, too, are bad people that should go fall in a hole.

If I want to give money away, I'm better off making a local donation in person, in cash. You should, too. It's good to give something to someone who needs it. But do it right.

If you want to help animals, find your nearest animal shelter, find out what they feed the animals, and go buy some food for them. Or cat toys. Anything.

If you want to help kids in the city, go give money to the library, or buy books at yard sales and donate them. Books are good for people, and free use of books is always a plus.

The best kind of charitable giving is when you actually give something to someone. When you give money to a group and the actual people in need don't get anything from it, you're not being charitable, you're just making yourself feel better.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Check This Out

A pretty good column from Ann Coulter about false information embraced by media outlets who would really, really like it to be true.

Lost Miners: Rescuers in Danger

As the search for 6 trapped miners continues in Utah, 3 rescue workers were killed and 6 others injured last night in what news reports say was a cave-in. Here's a story.

It's interesting -- and sad -- to think about: You've got a rescue operation that, in its 10th or 11th day, is looking more like a recovery operation, and then rescue workers start getting killed in the process.

What do you do? I don't think anyone would just want to assume that the original 6 miners are dead and stop looking, but at the same time should you keep putting additional people in harm's way to find them, especially when enough time has passed that the chances of the original guys still being alive are vastly lower?

Or, does the fact that so much time has passed make it even more important to continue to try and find them?

It's a crazy mixture of hope and empathy ... we want to hope they're still alive, so we look for them, and we continue to look for them even as time passes because we think how awful we would feel to not have been killed by the original collapse and instead spend day after day just waiting to die.

I'm sure there are some people that would just have assumed them dead after the initial collapse, called it a tragedy and then worked toward recovering the bodies in a slow, safe manner.

It's a tough call, one I'm glad I don't have to make - I don't know how many additional lives I would risk for something so uncertain. I guess it depends on the connection to the trapped miners -- if I knew them personally then maybe I would throw caution to the wind and make every effort to get to them, regardless of the risk.

But for someone who has to look at it from a position of responsibility, it must be a tough spot to be in because of society's need for a blame game. Mining is dangerous, and there always have been casualties. But I don't think people today can be satisfied with chalking something up to natural chance, they need to be able to pin the blame on someone, so they can feel like there is a way these things can be prevented. Pat Buchanan has a column that takes a look at this.

So, for that person, it's a question of how many bodies he wants to be responsible for.

The only starting point I can think of right now would be to increase the equipment miners have with them -- more food, water, lights, GPS and communication units -- to at least give them a better chance should they become trapped.

But I think the only way to prevent this kind of thing from happening would be to stop mining, and pursue other forms of energy.

Another View of VH

I came across this column by Michael Deeds on the Idaho Statesman site, comparing the upcoming Van Halen reunion tour to a Beyonce concert.

When I saw the title of the column I was pretty bent - how do you even compare the two? - but after reading it I have to admit, Deeds has some points here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


It's not a huge deal, but it is still cool.

David Lee Roth and Van Halen are going to do a reunion tour of North America!

As far as I'm concerned, musically, Van Halen was never as good without DLR on vocals and on stage, so this should be a fun show.

The original bass player, Michael Anthony, is not going to be there (his spot is going to be filled by Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang). Not that it matters - maybe die-hard VH fans will blast me for it, but Anthony and drummer Alex Van Halen always seemed to be pretty inconsequential, at least in terms of performance. (I think they had a had in the songwriting, so they deserve kudos for that.) But the whole draw was DLR's stage presence and EVH's guitar wizardry. The other guys could be anyone, for all I care.

I just like seeing bands I used to listen to reunite for some shows -- maybe it's just for the money, or maybe it's some philosophical thing, but either way it's a promising show.

So. Korean Hostages - Update

After a meeting between So. Korean officials and members of the Taliban, the Taliban released 2 of the 23 So. Korean aid workers it had earlier taken hostage.

The Taliban already has killed 2 of the hostages, so there are still 19 being held.

Here's a story.

Something interesting to note in this story: The Taliban kidnapped the So. Koreans in an attempt to barter for the release of captured Taliban militants. But in this particular story, from al Jazeera, the writer refers to the captured Taliban also as "hostages."

That's interesting, and is a good lesson for readers -- you have to know where your info is coming from, because perception is everything. Al Jazeera calls the detained Taliban "hostages" while other news outlets call them "captured militants."

You have to recognize these things, because they show important differences in perception, and how the information you read can be presented differently depending on who is presenting it.

It's no wonder the area is in such turmoil if the basic thought process there so easily blurs the lines between soldier and civilian.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How Am I So Bad?

I was having dinner with a friend this weekend, and I told them about a couple of e-mails I've received through this blog; some folks wrote me to tell me I was a racist, homophobic, and an all-around jerk.

He looked at me and asked, "Have you read your blog?"

I just let it drop, but it bugged me. I have read it, and I don't get how it could be construed as anything other than completely fair. I consider myself to be based on logic and compromise; I don't blindly follow any one political party. I do not judge people based on anything other than their actions and their character.

Really, his remark confused me. Granted, we're at opposite ends on a lot of social issues, so I have to consider that he might just be coming from the same place as the people that wrote to me.

I've thought about this constantly since then, and I think they -- and my friend -- are wrong. The scary part is the differences in how we view what I post here. I pretty much think that, no matter who you are, life in America is this:

You go to school, you try hard, you learn. You decide on a career path, you work hard, you succeed. You should go through life working hard and trying to be a good, considerate person.

And that's it. It's that simple. I expect from people what I expect from myself: work hard, don't commit crimes, be considerate of others, clean up after yourself, support yourself without taking from other people, teach your kids to be good people, and stand up for what is right and fair.

People that don't do those things, those are the people I don't like.

People that advocate for people who don't do those things aren't helping anyone, they're just helping to make things worse for everyone.

I don't see how expecting people to behave well makes me such a bad person.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Same-Sex Marriage Debate

As candidates continue to stump, one issue coming to forefront of the races is same-sex marriage.

Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to get married; several other states have "civil union" laws that allow same-sex couples to legally join as a couple, giving them all the rights as male-female couples.

Sen. Barack Obama has now voiced his opinion, stating the need for nationwide civil union laws, but not going so far as to call for same-sex marriage. Here's a story about it.

I like Obama's position so far; it echoes my own.

Nature intended for opposite genders to join in order to procreate. Logically and scientifically, that has to be accepted. You can't look at the mechanics involved and deny it.

I don't understand what makes people attracted to people of the same sex, seeing as how it contradicts nature's plan. But, if that's the way someone is, then that's the way they are. I don't have to understand it, and I don't have to like it -- to me, there is no debate on whether people should be allowed to be gay, if they are, they are.

But at the same time, I think it's abnormal, in the literal sense of the word. That doesn't mean I think gay people are bad, or somehow less human, or that they should be persecuted -- it just means I think it's not normal in terms of nature.

In terms of emotion, I don't think it's up to me who should be in love with who. I'm 36 and I still don't understand "love" in general, so I surely can't comprehend at what point loving a male friend as a brother turns into something romantic. So I just stay out of that -- love whoever you want. Makes no difference to my life.

Regarding pleasure/attraction ... again, I don't see how the whole same-sex attraction works. I really like women, and I have no attraction to men, and I guess I just figure that because of the whole procreation thing that's the way nature's perfect cycle meant it to be. But I do know that I've had girlfriends that I thought were totally hot but that everyone I knew thought were ugly (Hi, Sue!), so I guess taste is a personal thing. If you can have fun with someone of the same sex, knock your socks off. Doesn't impact me, so I don't care.

As far as religion goes, even people of the same faith will interpret their religion how they see fit, so I just look at it this way: If you believe your religion says same-sex action is wrong, then keep it to yourself and be happy in the fact that you have faith.

All that being said, I do oppose certain things.

I don't think little kids should be taught about sexuality in school -- straight or gay. That should be a family thing. If we're talking about rights here, I think parents have the right to raise their children how they see fit. Period. If a kid learns truly dangerous things at home, deal with that. But the public has no right to intervene in child-rearing. This includes telling kids anything about lifestyles, not just sexual relations. If a teacher is gay or straight, little kids don't need to know that. I've come to learn that 2 of my grammar school teachers are gay. They are great teachers, and I really liked them. One was an English teacher and one was a science teacher. You know what I learned from them? English and science. I didn't know they were gay because they never said anything about it. Why should they have? I wasn't there to learn about adult social issues, I was there to learn ... English and science.

This isn't really part of the issue, but I think some of the gay pride parades are a little much. You know, if you're a guy and you like guys, fine, whatever. But do you really have to dress up like a hooker and boogie down the street half-naked? That's what you're proud of? Why not grab your same-sex family and march and sing and show everyone that you're no different than they are? Some of the displays at these parades would be disgusting no matter who was doing it. Please, just knock it off, it's weird and gross, and whether you like it or not, it makes lots of straight people think there's something wrong with you.

Anyway ...

I also don't think same-sex "marriage" should be allowed. Not so much because I actually care, but because I think that civil union has to be the compromise. You simply can't ban the legal joining of same-sex couples to get the legal rights any other couple can get. It just wouldn't be fair. But it's also not fair to try and change something pre-existing just to suit your own views. The ceremony of marriage is a ceremony about a man and a woman following a certain course dictated by nature.

You may not like that, but that's what a compromise is -- parties at odds finding a middle ground where each group gets some of what they want and gives the other groups some of what they want. No one is ever going to be 100% pleased in a compromise, or else it wouldn't be a compromise.

I get mad when same-sex marriage advocates refuse to accept the compromise, because it's a no-win fight over nothing more than a word -- they get everything that goes with the word, but traditional folks get to keep the word.

I really, truly think that's fair.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Chris Dodd - Occupation: Foole

Chris Dodd, unfortunately still a U.S. senator and still running for the Democratic nomination as if he has a snowball's chance in Hell, was shown on TV telling fellow left-wingers how he "stood up to Bill O'Reilly."

I watched his face-to-face with O'Reilly. In fact, I taped it and watched it three times, just to see if I missed something.

But I didn't miss a thing.

Dodd didn't "stand up" to anyone -- all he did was show that (a) he had no idea what Daily Kos is, even as he defended it as a glorious forum of "real Americans," and (b) that he truly thinks that if he puts his "Chris Dodd angry!" face on to anyone with a conservative bend that he's going to woo all the 20-something liberals who have yet to learn what it takes to survive in the real world (a.k.a., not the Internet!) without their parents' help -- and their money.

Dodd is a two-faced, know-nothing dinosaur. He lives in one part of society and pretends to know how we in the other part are forced to live. The very fact that he's wasting this much time and money is proof that he's out of touch. The only reason he's still a Senator is because no one worthwhile has challenged him, not because he's been chosen as the best.

I wish I wasn't a social misfit, or I would run against him myself. I mean, if you think this country is in shambles, just realize that Dodd's been an integral part in making it that way for years.

Geez, this isn't rocket science. ... If you think things are bad, get rid of everyone who's been helping to make it so. Kick them out and start anew.

Voting is important!

And yes, I stole "Occupation: Foole" from George Carlin, back in the days when he was actually funny. Now he just makes up interesting swear words.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

My Graveyard

My father passed away almost 5 years ago, and my mom is selling the family house.

Everyone has memories of the homestead, so I'm not unique. But, because my dad is gone now, they strike even harder. That house is something tangible, made of his sweat and blood, and that's all that's left.

I can recall being an awestruck 7-year-old watching him build the rock walls around the house, cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve, swinging a sledgehammer like it was as light as a feather. I would hand him stones the size of baseballs, while he hurled mammoth boulders that I knew no other man on earth could have even carried.

I watched him landscape every inch of the yard, build a deck, cut trees ... it was those moments that I learned to aspire to something. I was just the fat kid at school that people would pick on, but someday I would be a man, like that, and I knew I would make good.

My dad was only 22 or 23 when I was born. The man gave his entire youth to create something for his family, from the time he was 19 until he died at 54.

I sometimes think about where he was in life when he was my age, and it shames me. Not just because I have no house or children at 36, but because of why, because of the selfishness and foolishness and flat-out cowardice that has left me so far behind.

That house would be -- should be -- my redemption, a way to maintain and add to what he began, to show him, wherever he may be, that I can carry those stones now.

And all that only adds to my bitterness, because the market is much different than in 1974, and the lot in Ansonia that he built that house on is worth a hundred times more now, way out of my reach.

And I think that's just wrong.

You know, this post originally started as my recollection of all the pets I had buried in woods at the edge of the back yard, and how I would feel weird not having them be part of the family anymore ... but now I realize, there's a whole lot more in that soil.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A Question About Equality

I was looking at the ads on tonight, just looking for some part-time work, and I came across an ad seeking a tutor in the New Haven area.

Unfortunately, the ad states that the preferred applicant would be black. Well, African American, they say.

Being white, or Italian-Polish-American, if you prefer, I figure I'm right out.

And that's OK. This post isn't going to be me ranting about how that's discriminatory, even though it is, because I think that sometimes discrimination is OK.

This person is looking for someone to hang out and teach their kid, so they should be able to hire anyone they want, and if they are more comfortable with someone black, that's fine with me.

It's a little freaky that someone would directly state the color of the preferred applicant, but not the education level of the applicant.

But, still, I'm fine with that. I love freedom. I think most people would not have any problem with this ad, and that's a good thing.

The one question I have for you, though, is this: Do you think people would be OK with the ad if the person specified that they wanted a white applicant?

Basically, I think that if you took all the groups that some folks make it a point to safeguard -- blacks, Hispanics, gays, Muslims, etc. -- and left all those out and advertised a job that none of them would fit, people would flip out.

Think about it. If I wanted a tutor for my kid, and I posted an ad saying I preferred applicants be English-speaking heterosexual white Christian males, I think it's safe to say that I would be called everything from homophobic to a racist to a plain old hater.

I just find that weird, that inequality.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Good Point From Newt Gingrich

You should read this story.

Newt Gingrich is criticizing Republicans and the "war on terror" -- and with good cause.

Basically, as you'll read in the story, Gingrich says that it's silly to go and fight terrorists while still funding them through the purchase of their oil.

The terrorists can only be defeated, he says, by starting here at home, not sending money there, and working on our defense.

It's a good read.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Two Books You Should Read

In the constant battle between liberals and conservatives on bookstore shelves, I found something very interesting.

From the far right, Ann Coulter, in her book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," puts forth her theory that liberals have for decades done all they can to remove faith-based religion from every aspect of public life, replacing it with a doctrine of secular-progressive ideology. Her point, throughout the book, is that liberals have created their own "religion" out of this, complete with a hierarchy and "don't question, just believe" attitude that mimics faith-based religion.

Coulter's book attacks the ideology of the far left by citing specific actions and attitudes to back up her claims.

In response, far-left author Susan Estrich copied Coulter's book cover to the last detail, and put out "Soulless: Ann Coulter and the Right-Wing Church of Hate," in which she puts forth her theory that Ann Coulter is mean.

It's a great example of how liberals argue when they can't defend their position -- they call you mean and accuse you of being a "hater." They can't say you're wrong, just that you're mean.

And, I have to say this: Estrich copied Coulter's book cover, complete with hairstyle and black dress. ... The only problem is that someone ran over Estrich's face with a tractor, so I suggest not looking at it on a full stomach.

So, head to your local library and get both of these books and see for yourself. You'll have an easier time getting Estrich's book, seeing as the majority of left-wing authors can't give their work away, but you might be able to put your name on the waiting list for Coulter's in the meantime.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Get Rid of Sen. Christopher Dodd

U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

If you don't know who he is, he is one of Connecticut's 2 U.S. senators, has been for a long time. He's a Democrat, not usually to the far left, who tends to be pretty much of a Party guy.

He's also running for president -- or at least the Democratic nomination to run for president.

And, I believe, he should be removed from office.

Here's why:

  • When Dodd's colleague, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., was running for re-election, Dodd criticized Lieberman for missing so many votes in the Senate when previously running for president, but now he's doing the exact same thing, campaigning for president and blowing off his job while still collecting his paycheck.
  • Speaking of Dodd and Lieberman ... Lieberman was in a primary race for the Dem nomination for his Senate seat against rich Greenwich businessman Ned Lamont, Dodd backed Lamont, essentially trying to get his colleague thrown out of office. The whole Lamont thing was a joke, and when Lieberman went Independent after losing the Dem race to Lamont, the general public got it's chance to speak and showed that Dodd and other Lamont supporters were the far left fringe, and Lamont got buried. What that showed me was that Dodd was out of touch with the people, and was showing that it wasn't the middle ground that he cared about, but rather the far left "cool kids."
  • When all the Dem presidential hopefuls decided to boycott a debate that was to be hosted by Fox New Channel, saying the network is far right, Dodd also refused to participate in the debate. Any time a politician refuses to talk to the public, the public should be concerned. It's Fox, not a KKK rally. Regardless if whether you think Fox is biased, it was a debate, not interviews. It was simply a move on Dodd's part to do whatever the candidates who actually stand a chance were doing. By not participating in the debate, Dodd showed clearly that he is the one who is biased. By not participating, Dodd has essentially said that if you watch Fox, he doesn't care about you.
  • There's a Web site, the Daily Kos. Go ahead, read the site. It's not bad, it's just really far left. But like I said earlier, you should read everything so you can decide for yourself. Anyway, Dodd and the other Dems are going to an event sponsored by Daily Kos. Granted, there's some really whacked out, offensive stuff on Kos, but I wouldn't have minded Dodd's participation if he hadn't pulled the whole anti-Fox thing. It's a superior show of hypocrisy, and that alone shows much about Dodd.

I e-mailed Dodd to let make him aware of my disappointment in him concerning these items. I suggest you do, too, and you can do it here. You should always write and e-mail your legislators when you disagree -- and agree -- with what they are doing, because you are the boss.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Another Thought About S. Korean Hostages

The debate over what to do about the remaining South Koreans held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan continues. Here's a good story about it.

The Taliban is demanding the release of 23 terrorists in exchange for the South Korean hostages.

They say they'll keep killing hostages if their demand is not met.

What I propose is this:

Let's show off our technology and ingenuity -- take the 23 terrorists the Taliban wants released, implant microchip tracking devices in them and send them back to their buddies. Let them work for us without even knowing it. (If any of them have dental work, we could utilize that as a place for the tracking device.)

Or, we could get really sci-fi and make some of the 23 into human bombs, so that after the trade is made, we could blow them up by remote, taking with them a few extra Taliban yahoos. (I don't know why I'm stuck on dental work, but plastic explosives could be disguised as fillings, perhaps.)

Granted, the idea is a little rough around the edges, but the concept is workable, I think. With all our scientific know-how, and our enemies' lack of it, we could easily pull it off.