Saturday, April 14, 2007

Big Brother is Watching YOU

Your Tax Dollars At Work

from Chris Weigant on Huffington Post

. . . I have no way to verify this story, but if it's true it's horrifying.

A respected Princeton professor had some trouble getting permission to fly on a commercial plane recently. The whole blog post is worth reading, but here's the heart of the matter, in the professor's own words:

One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said.

Get the rest of the story here ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

We'd be better off without Religion

In London's Westminster Central Hall on March 27, 2007, some 2,000 people turned out to hear Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and philosopher A.C. Grayling debate a trio of religious authorities on the question "We'd be better off without Religion."

(The motion carried, 1,205 to 778.)

Listen to the debate here ...

Musing on Beauty

When Cute sauntered into the room, all the boys stomped their feet and whistled.

When Pretty made her entrance, all the men and boys turned and sighed.

But when Beauty came into the room, EVERYONE turned to admire her in hushed appreciation.

Silly me ... thinking the big difference might be character when so many seem to think you can measure it with a ruler or a cup size. But, I've been wrong before.

I wonder if you can't measure the difference between men and boys (or girls and women) with a ruler? I know for sure that you can't measure the differences with a calendar.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Only in America

The following was passed along to me by a friend. I though it worthy of sharing.

Charlotte, North Carolina.

A lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, the insured them against among other things, fire.

Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company.

In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost "in a series of small fires".

The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason, that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion. The lawyer sued ... and WON!

Delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer held a policy from the company, which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire,without defining what is considered to be "unacceptable fire" and was obligated to pay the claim.

Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid$15,000 to the lawyer for his loss of the cigars lost in the "fires".


After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!!

With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 month is jail and a $24,000 fine.

This is a true story and was the First Place winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.


Now, I haven't vetted this properly for validity ... it might not be true. But even if it's an urban myth, I think it's a really good story.

War Czar?

The Washington Post reports that the White House wants to appoint a War Czar to run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, so far, three generals have taken a pass when they were offered the position.

Actually, I thought War Czar used to be called "Commander in Chief". Must be that managing the botched wars he started isn't any fun anymore.

Perhaps it's just another attempt on the part of this administration to put the blame on someone else for the Iraq War "clusterfuck" while they keep it going long enough to come to the end of their term ... so that someone else has to clean up the mess they've made.

The Wisdom of Woody Allen

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

Strikes me as particularly prophetic.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Don Imus?

Maybe firing Don Imus is the right thing to do. I don't know. I'm not particularly a fan of his - though he's about the best thing on at four in the morning in Tucson. I certainly wouldn't want to attempt to defend him or what he said.

What I do know is that if they bring about the firing Don Imus for his remarks without holding one hell of a lot of black comedians, hip-hop and rap "singers" to the same standard they'll be making a joke of the "race card" and pro-feminist posturing.

Who invented the term "ho"? Who refers to women as "bitches"? Who has literally hours worth of jokes made at the expense of races not one's own? Who is making millions on misogyny?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What do these people see that we're missing?

Photographed in a store
window in South America.

So I read the other end of this link trying to find out. It's a piece that was written in 1944 when we were fighting Fascism in Europe.

Let's Review

I probably said it before but ... what the heck ... I'll say it again ...

I think we were perhaps the lucky generations, those of us who were born in the 40s and 50s, came of age during the 60s and 70s, experienced our prime in the 80s and 90s ...

Now we get to witness the downfall of great society:
  • Personal freedoms are under attack
  • The intellectual aspirations are being undermined by superstition
  • Hope has been replaced by petty fears and xenophobia
  • Scientific inquiry is being stifled by religious dogma and
  • the politics of democratic pluralism is being replaced by a Big Brother totalitarian schema.
We are facing a new Dark Age.

Orwell was right in everything but his timing ... he was a pessimist, imagining it would have all been over twenty years ago... but then EVERYTHING costs more and takes longer than one imagines on the way in.

My money is on China and India (literally). It's becoming harder and harder to invest in the corruption of American corporations - though I've placed what I believe are some sure bets on segments of the Military-Industrial Complex Eisenhower warned us about.

Australia and New Zealand are looking better and better as a place to dig in for the golden years ... though I think nostalgia gets in the way of making the move.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Conundrum

There are at least four wars going on in Iraq at the moment:

  • al Qaeda (primarily Sunni) vs. the West, centered primarily in Anbar Provence in the western part of Iraq.
  • Sunni vs. Shiite, centered primarily in Baghdad because it is the one place where the Sunni and Shiite live in overlapping communities.
  • Shiite militia vs. Shiite militia as the various militias vie for power with each other
  • Sunni Insurgency (but nationalistic and opposed to al Qaeda) vs. the government and coalition forces

I'd love to hear a strategy:

  • that can resolve those 4 separate issues
  • that can provide stability enough for the Iraqi government (primarily Shiite) to function
  • that can provide sufficient time for the Iraqi military (primarily Shiite) to properly train to a point where they can defend themselves and their country
  • that can do so without working at cross purposes.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Our Soldiers Are Not Toys


Jackie and Candy

Candy, my wife, and her sister, going through the events section of the newspaper in Jackie's kitchen, figuring what we're all going to do.

I love the colors and the verticals. It's a very "linear' image.

It Brought Tears to My Eyes

Reading and article on Slate titled "Bangkok Vice: Buddhas, Boxers, and Bar Girls" I came across a sentence therein, prompted by an account of a visit to the River Kwai War Museum:

"The toughest decision for any atrocity museum is what to put in the gift shop."

It left me breathless! One of those secrets of the universe revealed moments where one seems to glimpse true enlightenment.

It's not quite on par with Honami-san telling me in a quasi-Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas to "never order sushi in the desert", but certainly right up there.