Monday, July 30, 2007

The bridge to nowhere gets someplace

Ted Stevens is best known as the Alaskan congressman with the King of Pork title he acquired when the Feds financed a bridge to nowhere in Alaska.

Now it seems the FBI is interested in some of his bussiness relationship with Alaskan oil exploration and some construction contractors. Good for them.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Enforcing speeding laws

When did liquor control agents start enforcing speeding laws? Does a liquor control agent have any training at all in vehicle pursuit? Even a 5 minute training film in high school? Any?

Of course the cops won't say a word about what happened, who it was or what the hell the guy was thinking. That would violate the liquor agents privacy or something. If he'd have been the one that crashed his car in the chase you can be damn sure they'd be releasing every negative thing they could find about the other guy, including how many times he got detention in the 7th grade.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The Desperate Hours

I'll never understand why they don't make movies like this one any more.

There's nothing special about the movie, it's just an old Bogart movie. He's one of a group of 3 escaped convicts holed up in a house with the standard nuclear family of 1955, mom, dad, big sister, and little brother.

The movie was based on an event that actually occured in 1952. In 1953 it was a mystery writer's award winning novel. In 1954 it was a Tony winning play. Then this movie in 1955. They didn't waste any time back then.

It had to have been cheap to make, no special sets needed, no special effects, just riveting drama.

It's worth the time. It was remade in 1990 and the reviews aren't good for the remake, but I havn't seen that one. The 1955 version is well worth it.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Leaving Italy

A group flying on a Brtish Airways flight from Italy to Qatur caused a commotion on the runway because they didn't like the assigned seats. They caused an over 2 hour delay before they got booted off.
Three Arab princesses were thrown off a packed British Airways flight after refusing to sit next to male passengers they didn't know.

The dispute - in which the three princesses from the ultra-conservative Qatar royal family demanded segregated seating - left the London-bound plane delayed on a baking Italian runway for nearly three hours.

The women, all relatives of the oil-rich emir of Qatar, Bader Bin Khalifa Al Thani, were booked into business class in a party of eight which included the emir and an entourage of cooks, servants and other staff.

After passengers had fastened their seat-belts and the plane had taxied on to the runway, two male passengers in the entourage got up to protest about where the women were sitting.

It's somewhat reminiscent of the "I can't ring that up" story from a Target store. But not exactly.

The story is very different in that the women didn't complain, some male muslim
nutcase (who probably could have just switched seats with her) complained.

The interpersonal dynamics going on in this story makes this story actually
interesting. Those muslim nutcases remind me so much of rednecks "defending their womenfolks".

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lindsay Lohan

I guess I'm just slow to figure out this stuff. I just found out that Lindsay Lohan plays a stripper in her movie in current release.

That explains what's been going on. She's researching her role, it's just that the research got her so stoned that she didn't know the filming was over. It's the directors fault for not telling her that she'd finished the movie and could stop the research. It's not her job to know those things.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

A Nice Afternoon

I wrote this a while back and it's been on my website, buried in one of the offtopic pages. I thought I'd move it to the blog

It was really nice spring afternoon. The sun was bright; there were just a few white, puffy clouds in the sky but not enough to block the warmth of the bright sun. The winter months had been dreary, rainy, and overcast, with a cold, bitter wind. This spring day was a welcome change of pace. The sky was a pale blue, much lighter than the blue of the ocean. The sandy beach was about a mile away, the white sand sparkling from the rays of the sun. I don’t know what the temperature was, but those rays of the sun weren’t too warm, because I was comfortable wearing a flak jacket while standing on the wing of a destroyer patrolling the waters of the Vietnam DMZ. It was 1968.

I was standing on that bridge wing with Daniel James, a LT(jg), supply. He was the ship’s junior supply officer but since the ship was chronically short handed he stood line watches while the ship was on the gun line. The gun line was what the Navy called a one mile strip of beach along the northern end of the DMZ. That mile was constantly patrolled by two destroyers and a cruiser, all of them outfitted with big guns rather than missiles. The Navy had plenty of guided missile frigates back in 1968 but they didn’t use them on the gun line. The gun line was for guns.

We had a dual mission. We were the artillery support for units of the 3rd Marine Division that were operating close to the beach in the north end of the DMZ and we provided harassment and interdiction fire along suspected supply routes of the bad guys. The harassment and interdiction fire was mostly making a lot of noise. The Marine fire support was almost always emergency calls for fire support. So we had guns manned constantly, whether we were shooting or not. Back and forth, up and down, go south a mile, turn around and go north a mile. Over and over. That was our patrol path.

We patrolled anywhere from about a half mile to a couple of miles from the beach, each of the three ships in the task force somewhat staggered, following parallel tracks. This particular afternoon we were closest to the beach, probably a little less than a mile. The beach was clearly visible, providing a scenic panorama to the two of us standing on the wing taking it in.

Lt(jg) James was not my favorite person, and not someone I would have chosen to enjoy that afternoon with. But, I was the starboard lookout and couldn't leave my station and he was standing the junior officer of the deck watch and could pretty much walk around the bridge and bridge wings as he pleased. The consensus of most of the enlisted men was that James was a worthless jerk. He bummed cigarettes from enlisted men, he was an all around cheapskate with only two pairs of khaki uniform pants. We could tell when he changed to a clean pair of pants because one of them had a small burn from a cigarette. Probably not a cigarette he'd purchased himself.

In the Navy, officers have to pay a wardroom fee for meals they eat in the wardroom. Being a supply officer Lt(jg) James was responsible for periodically “inspecting” the enlisted chow. That meant he was required to eat enlisted chow every once in a while. Once a quarter would have been sufficient. But, he didn’t pay for meals in the mess deck, and wasn’t billed for missed meals in the wardroom. Lieutenant junior grade James ate in the mess deck 3-4 times a week. He wasn’t just a jerk, he was a cheap bastard.

Another habit James had was that he got picky about his coffee. On the gun line we stood 6 hour bridge watches. We had two watch sections, standing 6 hours on then 6 hours off. So, we’d go the entire length of a 45 day patrol without ever once actually getting a full nights sleep at one time. We drank a lot of coffee.

It was the custom of the watch messenger to begin each watch by filling a 5 gallon thermos with coffee from the very large urns of coffee on the mess decks. It was not good coffee. Those urns were scrubbed daily with kitchen cleanser and a residual taste of the cleanser permeated the coffee. But, it’s what we had.

Everyone on the bridge drank that coffee. The watch crew, the Officer of the Deck, the Executive Officer, the ship’s Captain, and when we were temporarily serving as a Commodore’s flag ship, the Commodore drank that rank mess deck coffee. But not LT(jg) James.

The wardroom had a small percolator. Whenever James wanted a cup of coffee he’d send the bridge messenger down to the wardroom to have the stewards brew a fresh pot and pour him a cup of coffee.

I guess you had to have been there to understand the level of resentment that sort of behavior built. We used to piss in his coffee.

If I’d been on the wing that day with anybody other than James I’d have probably been having a conversation and might not have even noticed the fisherman. As it was I was watching the beach intently, pretending to look for enemy troop movement or enemy gun emplacements hidden back in the brush and scrub trees in the sand dunes. Anything to keep from actually having to talk to that jerk James. I noticed the small solitary figure rise from the brush in the dunes. After adjusting the binoculars I could clearly make him out to be an old man carrying a bag of some sort. Coming out of the dunes he crossed the beach and went straight to the water line.

His bag contained a large throw net and he matter-of-factly pulled it out and started net fishing the surf. After he’d made 3-4 casts I put the binoculars down and noticed two Navy jet fighters, coming out of the north north-west, apparently returning from a bombing run in North Vietnam. Yankee Station, the area in the South China Sea our aircraft carriers habituated, was to the south of us and returning aircraft found it safer to return home over water rather than over land.

But these two planes didn’t behave exactly like I’d seen previous planes behave. As soon as they got over water they looped back, going back to the beach, no longer in formation – one headed down the beach from the north, the other up the beach from the south. The plane coming form the north took a dive just as he approached the fisherman, who was still casting his nets.

Suddenly the fisherman was surrounded by small splashes of water in front of him and sand kicking up on the beach behind him. The aircraft was firing at him with his wing guns.

When the plane finished his dive he pulled up and the second plane made a dive, kicking up more sand and water with his wing guns. Both pilots missed the fisherman who dropped his net and took off running across the beach.

I’d heard stories about Navy pilots who made $20 bets among themselves about who could take out a farmer’s water buffalo, but I’d never heard such a story about them taking out a man who was obviously a non-combatant, a fisherman, for sport.

Now I was seeing it.

They continued to take turns diving at him, kicking up sand all up and down the beach from the bullets in their wing guns. Each of them made 3-4 passes. The fisherman took a zig on his run down the beach every time one of them started a pass. For reasons I still don’t understand he ran straight down the beach instead of into the brushy dunes. I guess the fear he must have been experiencing just fogged his thinking processes.

I glanced over to LT(jg) James and he was watching the scene unfold just as intently as I was.

Finally one of the pilots got tired of chasing the old man and made a pass without firing his wing guns. Just as he got over the old man he dropped something then quickly made a very sharp turn up. I’d never seen Napalm before, but I knew that the resulting orange and black ball of flame was Napalm. A huge ball, the brightest orange I’ve ever seen, with a thick cloud of black smoke.

The pilots didn’t even wait to inspect the damage, they just headed out to sea, enroute to Yankee Station.

There wasn’t much to see after the explosion. I stared at it until the flame and smoke dissipated. The old man didn’t even leave a grease spot, just his bag and net lying near the water line up the beach from the explosion.

I glanced at LT(jg) James. He didn’t look at me. He just turned around and walked into the pilot house.

The officer in charge had witnessed the same thing I had. Who was I supposed to report it to? I didn't know, so I didn't.

But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have reported it to anyone anyway. That's probably bothered me over the years more than what the pilots did. Not that I didn't report it to anyone, but that I really didn't care. I certianly remembered the event, it did make an impression on me, but my immediate reaction was a nothing, I felt nothing, it just seemed mundane and unimportant.

That's what happens to people in a war zone, and that's what's always bothered me. Having pissed in Lt(jg) Jame's coffee never bothered me, but not having any feelings about that dead fisherman did bother me and still does.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, July 27, 2007

1954 Chevy convertible

My first car was a 1954 Chevy convertible. I'm pretty sure I've never seen another one with the same original color -- until I ran across this photo of one. This isn't my old car, but it's the same model and the same ugly shade of orange.

1954 Chevrolet convertible


They took that photo down. Here's another one that's almost the same color. I think this one is just polished up a lot more than mine ever was.

1954 Chevrolet convertibel


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

More prosecutors who should be in prison

You have a prescription for those drugs? That's not a defense for possession, at least not in Tampa. There was not even an accusation that the pills were intented for anything other than personal use.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Business appropriate clothing

Growing up I never really learned anything about how to dress appropriately. I'm not sure why, I just didn't. As an adult I've always relied on the women in my life to teach me how to dress. For the most part I think they've done a pretty good job and I think I can mostly figure out what is or isn't appropriate dress for a situation on my own at this point in my life.

That wasn't always the case, and there were times when the woman in my life let me down. I got fired from a job once because I couldn't figure out how to dress appropriately.

In January 1972 I graduated from college and started graduate school. At the end of that first semester we were having a little bit of financial difficulties and I got a job offer (I didn't seek it out, they sought me out) with a local bank consulting firm. It was a pretty small operation, with 3 principles and an office manager. I was their first junior consultant level hire.

I didn't own a suit, I didn't even wear a suit to the interview. I knew I'd have to wear a suit to work though. Or maybe I didn't know, I don't really remember, maybe my wife told me I'd have to wear a suit. In any event, my wife and I went to a local department store in Baton Rouge and bought two suits. This was 1972. We bought what she thought was fashionable. What I discovered was that the style of suit that a 23 year old redneck woman in 1972 thought was a fashionable suit was not appropriate attire for a banking consultant.

I was fired the first week, part of the reason they told me I wasn't going to work out was that I didn't seem to know how to dress appropriately.

A few years later when I'd spent a few more years in graduate school (and that wife was gone) I interviewe with a money center bank in Chicago. I did get advice about what to wear from a woman, the headhunter who'd arranged the interview. On her advice I bought a grey pinstriped wool blend suit. It seemed to work out better than the psychedlic two-toned blue polyester of 1972.

I thought of this when I wrote of the new law firm hire who had to ask whether it was okay if she didn't wear a bra to the office.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Albert Ellis died

Albert Ellis has died.

His work in the 1950's on what he called Rational Emotive Therapy eventually lead Beck to develop what he called Cognitive Therapy. Most of Ellis's emphasis was just in pointing out how intellectually empty Freud was, and he was eventually successful in bringing the mainstream psychiatric community around to rational thinking.

Beck's work in Cognitive Therapy, combined with Zoloft, probably saved my life. I'm not exaggerating.

I don't think Cognitive Therapy would have been conceived if Ellis hadn't lead the way.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The new direction of MSNBC

Most MSNBC hosts have been turning into pandering fools. Tucker Carlson with his pandering to anyone who thinks phobic control of anybody no "like us" is a good idea. Mathews and his booking loudmouths with no intellectual capacity just for the value of sensationalism. Even my favorite MSNBC host, Keith Olbermann, panders to the loony left with his attacks on O'Reilly and his calls for Bush to resign.

When Olbermann recently attacked O'Reilly for pointing out that Dateline is really bad journalism I pretty much gave up on the whole cable channel. Trying to rationalize Dateline's "To Catch a Predator" is pretty much as low as you can get. Olbermann lost a lot of my respect when he did that.

MSNBC needs some new programming management.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Immigration reform

The history of the idea of immigration reform in the US is basically a history of applied racism and class bias.

My mother's experience with an FBI raid on a Kansas farmhouse is an example of an ethnic form of racism towards immigrants -- German's simply were not to be trusted. She worked with the US Army as a translator from 1945 (when she was 18) to 1948 (when she married an American soldier). At one time she even spent some time alone in a room with Eisenhower. Once she was in the US she followed the immigration laws diligently. Almost all the evidence pointed towards her being someone who followed the law.

The only negative thing on her record was childhood membership in Hitler Youth which had been investigated by the US Army before my father was allowed to marry her. She did have one Uncle who had been an early member of the Nazi Party but he became disillusioned and left the party in 1938.

But all the evidence that she was an honest, law-abiding immigrant was not nearly as important as the fact that she her cultural background was German, not American. That was the only evidence needed to justify an FBI raid on her home.

As for the three native born Texans targeted in that raid, well, there were associating with a Known German.

That's the kind of thinking that too often drives our immigration policy.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Will they need it after high school

The question How many students will need algebra after they get out of high school? is one that really irritates me.

How many will need American Literature, or Civics, or Chemistry, or Texas History, or World Geography, or any other damn course they take in high school.

What a pointless question.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

But we don't torture

From the San Francisco Chronicle
The White House said Friday that it has given the CIA approval to resume its use of some severe interrogation methods for questioning terrorism suspects in secret prisons overseas.

With the new authority, Bush administration officials said, the CIA now could proceed with an interrogation program that has been in limbo since the Supreme Court ruled last year that all prisoners in American captivity be treated in accordance with Geneva Convention prohibitions against humiliating and degrading treatment.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Opening the secret prisons

Maybe our secret prisons will become just a little less secret.
A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. government on Friday to turn over virtually all its information on Guantanamo detainees who are challenging their detention, rejecting a bid by the Justice Department to limit disclosures. ...

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Our Military is falling apart

It really is. Read this from the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Pentagon, scrambling to maintain 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, has ordered growing numbers of Air Force and Navy personnel into combat-related assignments with front-line Army and Marine Corps units.

The decision to send thousands of airmen and sailors into nontraditional assignments such as convoy duty reflects growing personnel shortages as the armed forces try to sustain the highest troop levels of the war.

The Air Force has steadily increased the number of personnel in Iraq in place of soldiers or Marines -- from 1,905 in 2004 to about 5,000 this year and 6,000 next year.

The Navy is sending roughly 2,200 of what the service calls "individual augmentees" this year to handle combat-related duties with Army and Marine units. ...


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Racial and class composition of the military

According to the Heritage Foundation
--"The typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is,"

Ted Rall points out that's complete nonsense.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wires and batteries

I have lot's of stuff around the house with wires and batteries. In the house a clock radio, cell phone, etc. In the yard I have a solar powered yard light. And, of course, my pickup up has lot's of wires and even a battery.

Luckily, I don't live in Ohio so the risk of having the police blow up my house is small.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Another cop gets a pass

A cop in Alabama drove his squad car to NY to go to a K9 school, taking his dog with him.

While in NY, driving his police car, he get arrested for DWI and leaving the scence of an accident.

NY allowed him to plead it down to a failure to control the vehicle, dismissed the leaving the scene charge and he paid a fine.

In Alabama DWI's are not allowed to plead down.

He's still a cop in Alabama.

Don't you feel safe?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Experience? Or just another version of Imperial Presidency?

The cable news channals are talking about the Hillary and Obama difference on the willingness to commit to meeting to rogue countries.

Obama says he would.

Not Hillary. She would not agree without first establishing pre-conditions.

Hillary says Obama is being niave and irresponsible. the idiot talking heads are claiming Hillary wins that part of the debate because it makes her come off as the more experienced of the two.


To me she's just coming off as self-important.

Althouse gives the whole thing a much more detailed look. I agree that Obama hasn't handled it well, but I still think Hillary is just being self-important.

I'm not impressed by either one of them.

Psotd seems to agree with me.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Condi the hack

Condi Rice writes an oped on Lebanon and it's such a weak piece of hack work that nobody will publish it. The Secretary of State.

What kind of people do we have running things? The requirement for any newspaper to publish an oped by the Secretary of State is never more than two sentences that contain some substance. That she can't bet over that bar says so much about the lack of depth of the people running American.

You should be scared.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Paid Informants

I don't think information from paid informants should ever be considered reliable by a court. Not ever. It should not be admitted as evidence at trial, it should not be relied on to establish probable cause for a warrent.

If investigators want to use paid informants for informatin which might help point them in a good direction for an investigation, even though that information itself probably isn't reliable, then I think that's okay.

But, no way should it be considered reliable enough for a court to rely on it to actually take adverse action against a citizen.

Paid informants should always be presumed unreliable. Always.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Spam blog

Blogspot has decided they think this blog is a spam blog. Part of their definition of that is that it contains a lot of nonsensical posts.

They are letting me write new posts and save them, just not publish them until they complete a review.

If my posts are nonsensical to them I'm not sure there's anything I can do about it.

Oh, well, I guess it's the price I have to pay for using a free service.

The twits.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Just ask the question

Andrea Mitchell is fielding questions from callers to MSNBC to ask various Presidential candidates.

One woman asked a question about the No Child Left Behind Program. She asked the candidate (I don't remember who it was) what he'd do as President instead of continueing with that failed program.

Rather than just let the guy answer the questionk Andrea rephrased it. She added the phrase, "While still maintianing accountabiity ...".

Whoa. The caller didn't say one word about maintaining accountability. Not even a hint of it. From the simple question asked it's not even possible to be clear that the caller thinks that local schools should be accountable to the Feds. In fact, some of us think that adding that requirement is what automatically makes any program a failure.

These pompous, self-absorbed TV news people are worse than the empty suit candidates most of the time. If you want to let callers ask a question, then let the caller ask the question. Don't re-frame the question. If that's what you're going to do then don't insult my intelligence by pretending you're taking questions from callers.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, July 23, 2007


I don't know, maybe this shouldn't bother me.
Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper loves the sight of an honor guard.
The crisp uniforms, the patriotic flags, the precision, the pride.

But, it does bother me.

There's something about the pretense of militarization that just seems out of place in a senior civil servant.

I don't really trust cops much, especially when they think a crisp uniform is the true mark of professionalism. When image is what's important to them I start having doubts about whether or not there's any substance underneath the nonsense.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Start with prosecutors

If we insist on filling up our prisons for no reason other than we can, prosecutors should be high up on the list and we can start with this one.

While still not admitting he overreacted in a huge way, the weasel DA is starting to back down to public pressure.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

History of Immigration in the United States

Harvard has a nice little website on the History of Immigration to the United States 1789-1930.

Some interesting things in the timeline.

1. We first defined the path to naturalization in 1790, the year after ratification of the constitution.

2. There was no restriction on immigration but the residency requirement for naturalization bounced between 2 years and 14 years for a few years.

3. We did pass an immigration law in 1798 that gave the President authority to deport foreigners deemed to be dangerous. There was no restriction on entering the country, just on residency.

4. In 1819 we started counting immigrants comming in via ship.

5. The early 1840's brought large numbers of Irish immigrants because of the potatoe famine and the Gold Rush brought large numbers of Chinese because of the Gold Rush.

6. In 1850, mostly as a response to fears that Irish Catholics would elect the Pope as President or something, the census starting keeping track of country of origin of residents. During the 1850's politicians who campainged on issues of a need for restrictions on immigration got elected.

7. In 1862 Congress put the Civil War on the backburner long enough to pass a law restricting naturalization rights of Chinese. During the war many Irish went West to work on railroad construction, which eased the political pressures to restrict them.

8. Starting in 1882 new immigrants had to pay a 50c entry tax.

You can see more of the timeline here.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The circus is in town.

When UTube starts sponsoring a political debate you know the circus is in town.

It's all about flash and gimmick.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Is this guy typical?

In a newspaper story in the Boston Globe about a soldier who had a website that provided answers for Army correspondence courses (needed for promotion) the accused soldier says some things that I find it hard to believe that a soldier really thinks.

When he was stationed in Korea he had a run-in with a platoon leader that caused him to get Article 15 punishement which included a reduction in rank from E5 (Sargeant) to E4 (Specialist 4). Then when he was later transfered back to the States, he put his Sargeant strips back on and got in trouble for that. He explains
At Fort Campbell, his troubles continued. He was charged with "impersonating a noncommissioned officer," he said, after putting his sergeant's stripes back on. He contends he wasn't aware that his punishment in South Korea carried over.

How in the hell somebody that stupid ever made Sargeant in the first place is a mystery for the ages.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Identification of the homeless

There's a really interesting comment on a post at PokerWorks that refers to homeless.

The post makes reference to two different people (actually 1 person and 1 couple) that are identified as homeless. The first is a beggar in front of an Albertson's. in Las Vegas.
... to an Albertsons store that I usually frequent when I need things. When I parked and left the truck, I could see an older, heavy, black woman sitting in a motorized wheelchair at the entrance to the store She had a cup in her hand and obviously she was looking for some type of monetary help. As I approached she said, “could you spare a little change so I can buy groceries?”

That's clearly a beggar. Homeless? Maybe. Maybe not. Frankly, I doubt it. Albertson's is one of the more expensive grocery stores around vegas. It's not the store a homeless person would choose to shop at in most cases. But, it is the store that a beggar would pick, becuase the customers of Albertson's have demonstrated they aren't that concerned about a few cents per item just by shopping there.

The couple that was identified as homeless is
I saw a young man and woman and what appeared to be all of their worldly goods, stacked in the corner of the Budget Suites parking lot right behind the bus stop bench that borders Boulder Highway. There were a few suitcases and some plastic bags that looked like they held bedding and other goods and the guy was laying on the plastic bags as the woman sat next to him on one of the suitcases.

Homeless? Again, I don't know. They're certianly transients of some sort. I'm suspecting they aren't homeless though. They have a lot of stuff with them. My guess would be that they just moved out of a furnished apartment at Budget Suites and are enroute to a new place of lodging. Maybe it's a step down in status. Maybe a step up. Possible they have no where to go. But if that was the case they'd be more likely to have those worldly possessions spread out on a blanket on the grass to hold in impromtu tag sale.

It's possible that both the beggar and the trainsient are homeless. I doubt it though. They are going through tough times though, and I think that's more the point of the original post.

But there's a mindset that many tend to have when thinking about the homeless that's really judgemental and doesn't serve to help anybody. That mindset is demonstrated by one of the comments to that blog post.
I understand the angst. We’ve all walked past the obvious junky and the true person in need. We don’t have the ability to differentiate. What to do?

Is a homeless junkie any less in need than a homeless depressed person? Will you fail to give a junkie some money because he'll just spend it on drugs? What if that homeless depressed person will just spend it on Hostess Twinkies?

Neither of them are going to starve if you don't give them money, they can find soup kitchens. I've been homeless, soup kitchens aren't really that hard to find.

This game of some homeless are deserving of help and some aren't is just a bunch of moralistic crap. Every homeless person I've ever meet was homeless because of some bad life choices of some kind. Some are smart people with mental disorders. Some are just really stupid people. Some have drug problems. Some have drinking problems. Some drink and/or do drugs but that helps control the mental disorder and they'd be worse off if they didn't drink or do drugs.

You aren't going to be able to distinguish which of the homeless are going to be able to "better themselves" with an extra $5 and which won't. So don't try. You also won't be able to distinuish the homeless from those just having a tough time.

The solution on a personal level is actually easy. If you see someone who needs help and you can help, then help them. It's not rocket science. Don't judge them, don't classify them, just help them out. Maybe they just need a ride to their new house with all their worldly possessions in a bunch of plastic bags.

And if you live in Las Vegas don't ever vote for or even have a nice word to say about a mayor who thinks giving a homeless person a bottle of water just encourages them to be lazy.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs


I knew a bunch of guys who looked forward to a second tour in Vietnam. Everyone of them was nuts.

I meet Rudy when I was teaching some junior college courses on a Navy warship in the early 80's. He was a mustang Lieutenant who had been a bosun's mate for a few years before he got a commission as an LDO (Limited Duty Officer). He told me a story about one such guy, a Gunners Mate who did 8 tours between 63 and 75 (some of them 6 month tours shipboard, most of them in-country). He was an early advisor, spent some time on PBR's, was part of Operation Phoenix, spent a tour on a tincan on the Gunline, etc, etc. A regular John Wayne in blue.

In 1975 he and Rudy (a BM1 at the time) who were on the fo'c's'le (the forward portion of the main deck) of a ship that had just sent some swimmers in to plant explosives on a bunch of river boats that we'd abandoned. Not to let them fall into the hands of the evil commies, Rudy and the Gunners Mate watched them from a distance as they started exploding.

The Gunners Mate turned to Rudy with actual tears in his eyes and said, "It's over Rudy. The war's over. What the hell we gonna do now?"

Yes, there are men who can't think of anything better to do than blow stuff up and kill people. We need those men when it's time for war. But we really don't need to pay attention to what they think.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

A Few Bad Apples

Everybody knows that bad cops are really just a few bad apples that make the rest of them look bad.

Now, from the Chicago Police Department, we have an estimate of what a few means. Well, not directly from the Chicago Police Department, a court had to tell them that they had to make public the number of cops that they considered bad guys, but they don't have to tell us the names of those bad apples. After all, that wouldn't be fair.

A few means something more than 5%.

Don't you feel safer already?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schools and silence

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has an editorial pointing fingers at some Pennsylvania school administrators who try to use their power over students withing the school setting to squelch speech outside the school that's critical of their martinet approach to doing their jobs.
Mr. Layshock mocked his Hickory High School principal by creating a fictitious and unflattering profile of him on an Internet site in December 2005. The then-high school senior's sophomoric parody, which caused no disruption in class, was created outside of school and on his grandmother's computer.

He wasn't even making fun of the school policy against drugs, he was just making fun of a pompous ass of a principal. We kow the principal is a pompous ass because
Nonetheless, the Mercer County public school system suspended him for 10 days, ordered the honors student to enroll in a program for troublesome students -- and prohibited him from attending the prom or graduation ceremony.

You'd think the people who run our schools actually have important things to do that would take up most of their days. But you'd be wrong, they don't really have anything to do except protect their own fragile egos.

When my generation was in school the same jerks ran the schools, and if you laughed at them they'd hit you with a big piece of wood. Now they suspend you.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rednecks and Country Music

There's a perception that country music fans don't like the Dixie Chicks. I'm not sure that's true myself, I think country music radio owners dont like the Dixie Chicks and I think that's a very different things. CMT kind of avoid them, and they don't get any country music radio play, but they're still selling records.

I guess there are some country music fans that don't care for the Dixie Chicks because of the attitude, there are country music fans who actually think it's cool to be a stupid, reactionary redneck.

The Dixie Chicks are pretty much as redneck you can get in Texas outside of those living out in the woods in East Texas.

Natalie Maines was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas. West Texas has spawned a lot of country music names Buddy Holly (Lubbock), Mac Davis (Lubbock), Waylon Jennings (Littlefield), Jimmy Dean (Plainview), Tanya Tucker (Seminole), Roy Orbison (Wink), Bob Wills (Turkey). Joe Ely (Lubbock) to name just a few.

How much more country can you get than Lubbock, Texas?

But West Texas rednecks are different, I think. I think they tend to be more progressive than the typical southern redneck or rural midwestern redneck. I'm not sure why. I think it's because they don't have the civil war related violent racial history that places as diverse as Kansas and Alabama share. West Texas had nothing to do with any of that stuff. When the Klan was being formed in post Civil War Tennessee West Texas was ruled by Comanche Indians.

Natalie is the one who made the on stage crack about Bush and Texas that set the whole thing with the Dixie Chicks off.

The New York Times seems to think that Natalie, and the rest of the Dixie Chicks, are in trouble with country music fans because they look down their noses at them.
Country fans are loyal, but they're not low-maintenance. By the time Ms. Maines made her statement in 2003, many were already questioning the trio's commitment: would they leave their old supporters behind?

For mistrustful listeners in search of an answer, Ms. Maines's comments provided one. Forget about President Bush: she had used the words "ashamed" and "Texas" in the same sentence, and she had done it on foreign soil. She meant to insult the president, but some former fans thought they heard her insulting Texans, and therefore Southerners, and therefore nonmetropolitan listeners everywhere.

This interpretation may seem specious. And yet Ms. Maines and her band mates seem to be going out of their way to prove their detractors right. Instead of fighting for their old fans, the Dixie Chicks seem to be dismissing them.

On "60 Minutes" Ms. Maguire told Steve Kroft that their concerts weren't typical country concerts. "When I looked out in the audience, I didn't see rednecks," she said. (Did her lip curl slightly as she pronounced the r-word?) "I saw a more progressive crowd."

There's probably some truth to that among the true trailer park rednecks of country music fans. I just don't think that segement is really all that large a portion of the market for country music sales. Not all country music fans spend their evenings throwing beer cans out the car window and shooting deer rifles at road signs.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Easy Rider

I caught the tail end of Easy Rider on AMC the other night. I'd forgotten what the redneck in the pickup says as he sticks the shotgun out the window.

I don't remember the exact words, but it was along the line of "Dontcha think you need to get a haircut". Something like that. I should have written it down.

The movie was released in 1969, but those kinds of words were chilling to me two years before the movie was released.

I'm not sure where that scene in the movie was set, but the overview looks like the River Road in South Louisiana, running alongside the levee on the Mississippi River. In 1967 I was a high school senior living in Baton Rouge, on the North end of where the River Road takes you. Just to the East of Baton Rouge is Denham Springs, a Klan town at the time. They had an annual Klan rodeo where Deputies would pin a badge on their Klan sheets, strap on a gun belt, and direct traffic for parking to the rodeo. I'm not making that up.

One afternoon myself and a friend, Joe Doody, were driving back to Baton Rouge from Covington, where we'd been visiting some girls. We stopped at a roadside bar in Denham Springs. We went to an empty end of the bar and ordered two beers. A handful of locals were congregated at the other end of the bar.

"Where you boys from", one of them asked with a very deep redneck drawl.

"Baton Rouge", I said, trying to put a little bit of a coon-ass french twinge in my pronunciation.

Then another voice rang out, "Ain't they got no barbershops in Baton Rouge?"

The accent was redneck. The tone was mocking. We did not have long hair. You could not be a high school student in Louisiana in 1967 and have long hair. But clearly we were not local boys, and just as clearly the redneck Klan supporters in Denham Springs didn't like outsiders, even if they were only from the other side of the bridge over the Amite River.

The movie Deliverance was still 5 years in the future. But I could hear that Banjo music anyway.

Joe or I, neither one, had touched our beer. I turned to Joe and said, "You ready to go". I said it quietly.

He nodded yes. We paid for the two beers, got up and left.

In the telling the story doesn't sound all that chilling. I guess you had to have been there to understand what the Klan was in small (and small time) Southern towns in early 1967. I was nervous. Real nervous.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Hardball just keeps getting worse

MSNBC's hardball is on a downward spiral of booking cartoonish guests in ploys for ratings. Ann Coulter, Al Sharpton, and more recently Judith Miller. Nutcases with nothing of substance to say, no reliability, but a promise that they'll say something provocative.

Provocative has become the Hardball keyword, not informative.

Today (Friday) they had a couple of segments on Hillary. The first was a focus on the horrors of her showing a very trivial amount of cleavage in the Senate (See just how trivial). The second was an examination of the question of whether she's engaging in excessively masculine posturing in her position on Iraq.

Too much cleavage? Too much masculinity?

Which is it, boys? Did you have a guest who actually made a comment about the color of Hillary Clinton's pearls? Or was I dreaming.

It's really become a pathetic excuse for a TV show.

Update: Added a link to a photo of the cleavage. Hattip to Althouse for the photo link

Update. More comments on the Hillary cleavage nonsense. TigerHawk Firedoglake hat tip to Instapundit for these links

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bad sheriff

I don't know if this Texas sheriff is going to jail or not, but the charges keep piling up.

The one I think is funny is having jail inmates build BBQ grills for him.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

There's something wrong with this story

This is a story about a jail guard in Travis County Texas who beat his pregnant ex-wife (actually divorce in progress) to near death while killing a male friend of hers.

It's this little sentence buried in the story that causes a "Huh?"
Round Rock police had been to the Conley home 10 times in four months preceding the attacks, but police said there were never allegations of violence made.

Then what were they doing there?

btw, I have a former girlfriend who works as a teacher in the same jail this clown worked at


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Prosecutorial discretions

Sometimes prosecutors just shouldn't be allowed loose on the streets without supervision.

A complete nutcase in Utah charged both a 12 year old boy and a 13 year old girl with child molestation because they had consensual sex. That prosecutor is just insanse and is still in office.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Nerds, Jocks, Cool Kids, and the Bullpen

There's some cross discussion going on among a handful of political/economics blogs about a Nerd v. Jocks theory of government based on ideas of high school social classes.

It's a Marxist sort of class conflict theory, sometimes talking about two groups in conflict -- Nerds v. Jocks, sometimes talking about three groups -- Nerds v. Cool Kids in conflict with Jocks just observers.

When I was in high school I wasn't a member of any of those three groups, unlike most political/economics bloggers who seem to have all been nerds. I was part of the bullpen, the boys who hung around the area of the high school campus set aside for smokers.

Yes, Virginia, we smoked on campus when I was in high school. Different schools had different rules about smoking, but there was always some sort of designated area for smoking, even if the official rules said No Smoking. I went to 4 different high schools, in 4 cities, in 2 states, so I was never around long enough to become a member of the cool kids, and I didn't care enough about education to be a nerd nor was I athletic enough to be a jock. All you needed to be a member of the bullpen was a pack of cigarettes and a match. It was always boys, I can't remember any girls smoking in the bullpen.

My senior year was at Robert E. Lee High School in Baton Rouge. There was a very large tree away from the buildings that was called the bullpen. Between classes or during lunch or before school the delinquent types would gather under the branches of that tree and smoke (the branches were thick enough to even provide shelter during a rain).

That was the only spot on campus we could smoke, and only between classes.

I was a little behind academically my senior year and was taking an 11th grade social studies class. We had to write a paper and the teacher would allow us to go to the library during class time to research our paper. One day me and another slow senior in the class (Joe was his name) got a hall pass to go to the library. We sprinted out to the parking lot and went down the road to a bar and had a beer instead (actually I think we had 2 each). Eighteen was the drinking age, we were both 18. We got back to campus in time for our next class.

The next day our social studies teacher said she wanted to see us out in the hall. She told us that she knew we hadn't gone to the library the previous day.

"Where did you go".

I couldn't believe what happened next. Joe just confessed. Right off the bat.

"We went to the Highland Road Inn and had a beer", he said.

"Oh, shit", I thought, "We're screwed".

But, her face turned purple, the veins on her forehead bulged out, she screamed at him, "Don't you get smart with me young man and don't you lie to me. I know exactly what you did, I see you two out in the Bullpen every day. You went behind the gym and smoked cigarettes yesterday, that's what you did".

Quickly I said, "Yes ma'am, you caught us".

"Don't do it again" she said, and the three of us went back into the classroom.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

New Mexico strikes a blow against secret police

I've always been bothered by the idea that it's okay for police to use force to hide the identity of undercover cops (doing things like breaking camaras).

Now a New Mexico court agrees with me.

This country does not need to provide special protections to secret police. If we can't do our policing openly then there's something wrong with whatever it is that the police are trying to accomplish.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The South Really Just Hasn't Changed

There really is two Americas. We should be sending more prosecutors to prison, there's no reason for a modern country to tolerate this kind of government behavior.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Another cop who likes little girls

This one beat up his wife, got away with it, then had sex with a 14 year old runaway.

Truely America's finest.
The victim’s mother called police on June 16 to report her (14 year old) daugther had run away, a statement by Lt. Andrew Kaho said in a Delta Democrat Times article. Roberson responded to the call and, after finding the girl, took her to the department for booking. A youth court judge ordered her released to her parents.

Kaho said the girl’s mother and police investigators were in Jackson on Tuesday to interview the child, who was at Brentwood Treatment Center.

The girl told investigators that Roberson had sex with her on the ride to her house, the statement said.

When questioned, Roberson said he had consensual sex with the girl, Kaho said. The girl is too young to consent to sex under state law.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Should stores be allowed to hire cops as hit men?

Should a business get a pass when they hire cops to do store security and the cop then over-reacts to a situation?
Off-duty officers can bring certain perks to the private companies that hire them, including protection by real law-enforcement officials and patrons who feel more secure.

But in a new court case, a Houston civil rights lawyer argues that establishments hire off-duty officers for another reason: zero liability if an officer's actions switch from private to professional.

A legal tangle
So far, Texas Court of Appeals judges in Houston have decided that businesses have no liability for an officer working private detail but performing a public duty. And in many cases, the agency the officer works for is also protected from lawsuits through government immunity.

A legal question is emerging in the lawsuits filed on behalf of a shoplifter who was shot three times by Harris County Deputy William Wilkinson outside a Dillard's in Humble three years ago.

The legal tangle includes a federal case on appeal and a new state court lawsuit about the shooting injuries of Robert Barkley. Barkley pleaded guilty to theft; an aggravated assault charge was dismissed.

Barkley's lawyer, Randall Kallinen, believes private employers, not just police agencies, should be liable for an off-duty officer who hurts somebody when he or she springs into official action. Kallinen says that when Dillard's directed Wilkinson to pursue Barkley into the parking lot, the store overstepped by taking a government action.

When Barkley ran out of the store, Wilkinson followed. Barkley jumped into his car and tried to drive away. In Wilkinson's account of the incident, Barkley tried to ram him with the vehicle and pinned him between parked cars. The deputy opened fire.

Barkley, who lives in Florida, sued Dillard's, Wilkinson and Harris County in federal court for excessive force and civil rights violations, but that portion of the case was dismissed.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Houston mailmen

What going on in Houston Post Offices?

They just sent a Houston mailman to prison for stealing DVD's from the mail, now they've indicted 3 more for stealing mail.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Who's in bed with who?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Mental Illness and guns

If you've ever had a mental disorder that caused an irrational fear of spiders the Maryland State Police want to know about it so they can make sure you don't get access to a gun.

There's just too much risk if we let those kind of people have guns.

Past episodes of mental illness do not predict future violence. It just has no predictive value at all.

Past violent behavior does have some predictive value. But, it's not very strong. If the Maryland State Police actually thinks past violent behavior can predict future irrational violence then maybe they should be automatically disarming any cop who is invovled in an incidence of violence?

I think the head of the Maryland State Police is insane.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Vitter wife

In the news conference she said "I made the decision to love him".

Since when is being in love a decision?

Cool dress though. The last time I saw a dress like that was on a street corner in the San Francisco Tenderloin.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Merle as surrender monkey

When Merle Haggard turns surrender monkey maybe it's time to think about bring the troops home.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Poker runs are illegal?

This is an old link, but give me a break

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Yale, Oklahoma

I live in Cushing, Oklahoma, which is on highway 33, between Guthrie and Tulsa. About 10 miles to the north is Yale, Oklahoma, which is on highway 51 between Stillwater and Tulsa.

I've moved around a lot, lived in a lot of places. Austin TX, Corpus Christi TX, Sinton TX, Port Aransas TX, Victoria TX, Killeen TX, Cleveland TX, Huntsville TX, Baton Rouge LA, Biloxi MS, Robinsonville MS, Chicago IL, Evanston IL, Arlington Heights IL, San Francisco CA, San Diego CA, Reno NV, Seattle WA. A lot of places. That's not counting over 40 towns I lived in as a baby, when my daddy was doing oil field seismograph work from Alice TX to Billings MT.

I like to think I know how to fit in pretty much anywhere.

The other night I stopped by my bank ATM to get some cash. They have a little foyer with the ATM and there's a bulletin board there. They had a sign up announcing a team cow milking tournament on June 9th in Yale, OK.

I'd already made travel plans and will be in Las Vegas that weekend. I've never seen a cow milking team competition and I'm really sorry I'd missed it.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Depression and rational thought

I was watching the O'Reilly show with BillO commenting on the prosecutor who killed himself inside his house as police and Dateline surrounded his house after a failed sting attempt.

I say it was a failed sting attempt because the guy did not show up to meet what he thought was an underage girl. Dateline had hired Perverted Justice to entice the guy to meet a 13 year old, he agreed to meet her, but turned around and went home.

Police were watching and when they saw the enticement didn't work they took Dateline along to raid his home and arrest him anyway.

They didn't get a chance, the guy killed himself.

The guy's family is sueing. Good for them, I think.

BillO doesn't seem to agree.

It's a sure thing that a guy who commits suicide is not thinking rationally. Maybe BillO is right and the guy was guilty and the suicide was because of his shame from the guilt. Or maybe that guy thought he was part of an X-files episode and he was following the script, thinking the gun was simply a stage prop. But, whatever the guy was thinking, it was not a rational thought. That part is certain.

The idea that depression is about mood and feelings rather than a disorder of thought is what tends to lead idiots like BillO to try to analyze suicide as if the person who killed himself was being rational. That's just not the way depression and suicide works.

If you actually watch those Dateline shows and think that Dateline (or the Police) are actually giving you an honest protrayal of any of it, keep this in mind.
As for the rest of the cases, he said neither police nor NBC could guarantee the chat logs were authentic and complete.

Dateline should go back to blowing up pickup trucks.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

A new front

It's not a new war, just a new front on the War for Access to Oil on Terror.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, July 16, 2007

Immigrants aren't criminals

Illegal immigrants are usually hot criminals. Not all violations of law are violations of criminal law, not all law is criminal law.

But it's the policy of the US government to treat them as criminals even when they are not criminals and are not charged with a crime.

There is something very wrong with he kind of people we've become in America. Really wrong.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Popular misconceptions about depression

Mangans has an old post on depression with some new comments. The post is about depression and IQ and the popular misconception that high IQ people tend to be have a higher tendency to depression then others while the science says the opposite -- that high IQ actually improves coping skills and helps mediate any occurrence of depression.

That's all true and it's a nice post.

But the comments expound on some nonsense about depression being caused by your daddy making you feel bad.
And it was clear to me and to the many psychologists and psychiatrists I saw over the next fifteen years that my depression problems were (and are) the result of the way my father treated me as I grew up, and how I tried to deal with this, given my high IQ and my "artistic imagination."

Depression is called a Mood Disorder because it's an extreme change in mood and irrational moods that are observed. But that's not what depression is about. It's not about feeling bad.

The fundementals of depression are based on irrational thought. It's a disorder of thought. Shrinks tend to not focus on that as much because it's more difficult for them to observe. People, even professionals, tend to shy away from things that are hard and tend to grab onto things that are easy. Mood is easy to deal with (at least easy to recognize). Thought is hard to deal with and hard to see.

But just becuase working with depression as a thought disorder is hard doesn't mean it's not what the reality of the disorder is all about.

The reason the commenter spent 15 years with analysts and was still depressed was that he dropped the keys in the dark alley but went under the light post to look for them.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Money Magazine's Top 100 Places to Live

Jenks, Oklahoma, a suburb of Tulsa made the top 100 at number 44.
Located just outside of Tulsa, Jenks is fast becoming more than just a suburb. While it maintains small town charm, Jenks also has many of the conveniences of a growing city, including the Oklahoma Aquarium, which opened in 2003. The city sits on the banks of the Arkansas River, where the Riverwalk Crossing provides shopping, restaurants, a concert venue and more. Jenks' quaint downtown is also known as the "antiques capital of Oklahoma," and is a shopping destination for residents and visitors alike.

I don't live far from there and, although I've been nearby a few times, I've never actually been to Jenks. I'll have to check it out one of these days.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Chicken and the egg

Dr. Helen does an Ask Dr. Helen column on Pajamas Media.

I'm not going to comment on the content of the column, but on the turn of a phrase that she uses. It's one I often see and it really irritates me.

As a right-leaning
libertarian, I believe that people should be able to enter into whatever
relationship they wish with other competent adults without state

So she has a simple label she uses as a self-identification and that somehow determines what she thinks.

I just think it should be the other way around -- what you think should determine the label.

I don't know why this particular usage bothers me. It's pretty common. But it just seems wrong and it does bother me.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

County hospitals

I know from experience that Texas has county hospitals pretty much everywhere which have a mandate to provide emergency treatment to anyone who walks in. It's health care of the last resort but it's health care for everyone.

USA Today has a story about the crowded Emergency Room at the public hospital in Harris County (Houston).

Although I lived in Houston for a while, and didn't have health insurance when I was living there, I don't think I've ever been to that emergency room.

Things aren't as crowded in the more rural counties in Texas. And if you're looking for a heart transplant you probably want to go to Houston, but for other medical treatment you'll probably get pretty good treatment at the smaller hospitals.

I did go to the emergency room in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas is right in the middle of a triangle formed by Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi) once. I was having some severe stomach pains. I'd been having some sharp pains for a while but I didn't have insurance, didn't have a regular doctor, and the pains never lasted long, so I did the American thing and ignored the pains. That is until they got so severe I was doubled over so bad I could barely walk and couldn't drive and the pain didn't go away.

My girlfriend drove me to the hospital. They sent me for xrays. They had me laying in a gurney and after a while some surgeon came up to me with a clipboard and said, "we don't see anything on the x-rays". "We need to cut you open and look arouhd, but first you have to sign this release".

I was hurting, not really thinking very clearly. "What if I don't sign it?"

He said, "We'll roll you into that corner right over there and leave you there until you're dead".

I signed it.

They ended up removing a gall bladder, whatever the hell that is.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Iraqi housing

Why does the UN security council pay for the housing of the Iraqi Amabassador to the UN?

This is just strange.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

This Film is Not Yet Rated

A film by Kirby Dick.

I'm sorry, but Kieby Dick just sounds like the screen name of a porn star.

It's a documentary about the MPAA, that secret organization that attaches ratings to movies.

That the group that says that the term "fuck you" is acceptable once in a movie to be given a PG13, but not the term "May I please fuck you?". Politeness is too offensive.

MPAA is a studio trade organization. Ratings are basically a tool used to make independent movies difficult to distributed. Walmart and Blockbuster will not distribute NC17 movies. TV and newspapers won't run ads for NC17 movies.

When the producers of South Park did an independent movie and got an NC17 rating the MPAA told them that they really couldn't help them with suggestions about what to do to re-edit the movie and get an R rating, a rating that would help them get distribution. But when the same producers made a movie funded by a major studie that got an NC17 rating the MPAA gave them a detailed, scence-by-scence list of how they could re-edit and get an R rating.

No, that's not a system that's rigged in favor of major studios.

The documentary tells us about the experiences of that nature that a few film-makers have had, then shows us some attempts they made to actually get inside the building that houses the MPAA to try and interview some employees. It's a walled compound. This Film is Not Yet Rated even went so far as to hire a PI to try to get a low level job for the MPAA so he could get inside.

The people who actually see the movies and assign the ratings have secret identities. Like some kind of parent super hero or something. They did manage to out a few of them with the undercover information they were able to find.

They did interview two former raters that were willing to talk to them. Only two.

Jack Valenti, the guy who ran the MPAA when it came up with the ratings, was a PR Hack, a political lobbyist who's previous job had been to keep LBJ out of trouble with the press.

Valenti just makes stuff up when asked about the raters and ratings. He says most NC17 ratings are becuase of violence. Not true at all, most are becuase of sex. He says all the raters are parents. Not true. At least one is a divorced man in his 40's who doesn't have and never has had any kids.

This is a good film. It held my interest and showed the MPAA for the evil trade and industry groups that it is.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The Killer Shrews

I'm watching the Animal Channel (I have no life) and they ran a preview clip from the 1959 thriller The Killer Shrews.

I remember seeing the movie when it came out. I looked it up on IMDB (above) and noticed it was filmed in Dallas. Maybe I saw the world premier? I saw it in Dallas.

The movie took place on some island where a scientific experiment had gone bad and created all these Killer Shrews running around the forest (actually dogs with some kind of weird hair pasted around their necks).

My grandaddy had just gotten a job at a restaurant in Dallas and I was visiting during the summer. As she often did, my grandmother was working as a hostess at the restaurant (my grandaddy was the chef) and I was home alone for a few hours some nights. (My grandaddy was kind of a hot head and had lots of different chef jobs at various spots around Austin, Dallas, Corpus Christi, Laredo, Colorado Springs, Temple and other outposts of fine dining).

I went to the movies. There was a movie house within walking distance of the house they were renting. It was a fun movie. Walking back I had to go down a block with a line of high hedges near the sidewalk. Close enough and large enough to hide Killer Shrews. I ran down that block.

Part of the plot line of the movie involved some guy running around the island with a pistol, shooting Killer Shrews.

When I got home I played out some of those scenes with a water pistol (I was 10 years old in 1959). The house had an enclosed back porch (a wash room) with an exposed light bulb in the ceiling fixture. Before that night I didn't really know what happened when cold water hit the surface of a hot, thin, glass bulb. It shatters.

I didn't know what to do so I put away the water gun and sat down to read a Reader's Digest until my grandparents got home. My grandfather noticed the shattered light bulb and asked me what happened.

"Huh?". I said. "What are you talking about"?

I didn't know much about hot light bulbs and cold water but I knew better than to admit to anything.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Those damn terrosits

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Journalists can be worthless twits too

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Good Catholics

Hat tip to RaiderFan of for this one.

The Catholic Church in Los Angeles is paying for their sins.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles reached a settlement agreement Saturday with more than 500 people who allege they were sexually abused by clergy, the main plaintiff's attorney said.

RaiderFan noted that it doesn't say anything about anybody getting fired.

Of course nobody will get fired. The only reason those boys were abused is that God used the abuse to show them the consequences of failing to be good Catholics. If they'd been good Catholics to start with then it never would have happened. Priests are simply the instrument of God.

If our courts hadn't been taken over by secular humanists none of this would be happening to the Church. We need more Catholic judges to give a layer of protection to these Men of God.

I like the Landover Baptist Church approach to the problem.

The pope seems to agree with me. He thinks people who aren't good catholics suffer from defects.

Is there actually a reason to put up with these people? Are we afraid that they'll burn us at the stake if we laugh at them?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Don't Fence Me In

CMT is running a show on the top 20 cowboy songs. Songs like Don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys by Waylon and Willie. And the Dixie Chicks Cowboy take me away. And Cool Water by the Sons of the Pioneers.

But my all time favorite cowboy song isn't on the list. Gene Autry has two on the list, Home on the Range and Back in the Saddle Again.

When I was a kid, a very young kid, I had a little green plastic 45 rpm record with Gene Autry singing Don't Fence me in.

I played it over and over. That song really spoke to me, even when I was as young as 5. I'd sit on the floor in my room, put that record on and play it. Then I'd have to lift it up and put it back on the record changer and hit the switch again to play it a second time.

Listen to it.

I have no idea what that song said to me. But it said something, and when I was 5 I knew what it was.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Today's Movie - Team America

When the previews of this movie started running on TV a few years ago, right before it came out, it looked like a movie I wanted to see. But for some reason I didn't get around to seeing it.

I wasn't sure why I never saw it, but now that its reached the top of my NetFlix queue and I've seen it I think I know why. It sucked and didn't stay in the theatres long enough for me to get around to it.

This movie just couldn't hold my attention. Some stuff was funny. The love trapozoidal relationships were kind of funny. FAG, the actors council for world peace (or whatever it was called) was funny. But a couple of very short, very superficial jokes don't make for much of a movie.

I had a really hard time paying attention enough to get through it. I should have watched a re-run of Shawn of the Dead on Comedy Central instead.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Motivating kids to learn math

Every once in a while I look at what search terms people are using that ends up at this site. The title of this post is one of the recent ones, motivating kids to learn math. I didn't show up on the first page for that term so I'm not sure which post got that hit.

But motivating kids to learn math is a topic I do have a little to say about.

For parents, the way to help motivate your kids to learn math is to play games with them and encourage them to read stories like "The Gold Bug".

My parents tought me and my younger sister to play Pinocle as soon as she was old enough to count meld (she was about 5 and I was 8).

For a kid the realization that math can help them solve interesting puzzles and help learn to improve their performance in playing games is a huge motivation. It certianly worked for me.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Checking for weapons

The modern version of a security weapons check
In a section entitled "Preventing Demonstrators," the document says: "All Presidential events must be ticketed or accessed by a name list. This is the best method for preventing demonstrators. People who are obviously going to try to disrupt the event can be denied entrance at least to the VIP area between the stage and the main camera platform. ... It is important to have your volunteers at a checkpoint before the Magnetometers in order to stop a demonstrator from getting into the event. Look for signs they may be carrying, and if need be, have volunteers check for folded cloth signs that demonstrators may be bringing."

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, July 13, 2007


I never knew this
(Lyndon Johnson) was, after all, the only Southern congressman to vote for an anti-lynching bill in 1938.

Can you imagine George Bush ever having that kind of guts?


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Buying trucks

How do you get to the point where you've bought two trucks from a dealership you've never had a good experience with?

Some things are just way beyond my ability to understand.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

More on beer and ID

A few weeks ago I made a short comment on an article in the blog at the Knoxville News about merchants collecting DL scans when you bought beer.

I think that's really bad stuff. In a later blog entry where they collected a few comments by other bloggers like me a commenter said
Posted by: Michael Silence at July 2, 2007 09:31 AM

A U.S. passport is a valid photo ID. It doesn't have a barcode, nor does it have your address on it.

While that's true, it's not really helpful.
A state does not have to accept ID from elsewhere to verify age to sell booze. They have to accept another state's DL for purposes of checking authorization to drive, or a passport for purposes of allowing you on an airplane. But for purposes of buying beer each state can require that you have an ID issued by them.

Beer is special. And I guess beer bought at a 7/11 is very special.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

The slumlord

When I was a slumlord in Chicago in the 1970's I didn't own a gun. I should

One night, about midnight, the first floor of a two flat in Humbolt Park called
me to tell me that some kids had broken into the basement and would I please call the police. They weren't going to call the police because they didn't trust the cops to not tell the kids who called (a Puerto Rican neighborhood with a lot of street gang activity).

So I called the cops.

They argued with me, since I was calling from another address, how did I know anything? I explained to them. They said they'd send a car but I would have to be there. I said, Okay, I'll drive over.

It was snowing. I lived at 2900 N on Halsted. It was only about 5 Miles to Humbolt Park. But it was snowing.

I drove over. It took me a while becuase the snow was fresh and the street was slick (it was the first snow of the year). No cops waiting when I got there.

I didn't want to check out the basement by myself. I had no flashlight. No gun. I was tired. It was snowing. I was not happy. I sat on the front porch to wait for the cops.

Three kids, who apparantly had gotten bored with trashing my basement, came walking around the front of the house. They walked right in front of my (the basement had a door on the side of the house).

By the time the third one was in front of me I was really disgusted. I grabbed him by the collar of his jacket and headbutted him up against the porch. The other two ran off.

We got into it, knocked a chain link fence down in the process (that belonged to a neighbor). Nobody got hurt. Both of us had heavy jackets on and were moving in a kind of cumbersome way, it was mostly more like a comedy routine. He did pull a knife and cut my jacket, but I knocked it out of his hand and it got buried in the snow.

I didn't chase him, I just sat back down on the porch. I didn't want to go down
and secure the basement door until I was sure everybody was gone.

I waited. Waited. Did I tell you it was snowing?

A cop pulled up. He sat in his car. He didn't get out. It was snowing. He might get wet if he got out of his patrol car. He waved to me to come out to the car.

It was still snowing. I walked to his car. He rolled his window down, and asked me if I was the building owner and what was going on.

I told him that the kids who'd broken into the basement appeared to have left but I needed him to go to the basement and check it out just to make sure.

"It's snowing", he said.

"Yes, I'm aware of that", I said. I stared at him. He didn't budge.

He said, "If you think they're gone I dont really need to check it out".

"Look, I said, I know three of them left. I don't know how many there are to start with. One of the three did this (I showed him the cut on my coat) when I tried to detain him. I need the lock the place up. I don't have a gun. You do. Get off your fat, lazy ass with your gun and your flashlight and make sure the basement is empty or I'll take your fucking gun away from you and do it myself".

I have no idea why I was not arrested.

I think he realized that I was an irate citizen who was giving serious, rational
thought to just killing him for the fun of it.

He got out of his car. Went to the basement. Said it was empty. "Thank you, officer". He left. I had some stuff in the bed of my pickup that I was able to use to board up the door. (I did most of my own maintenece work on my buildings and kept various stuff in my truck at all times). It never stopped snowing.

I went home. It was after 3 am by the time I got home. I couldn't find a parking place. So I parked in the bus stop in front of my condo. I had to go to work the next morning. I got a $20 parking ticket for parking in the bus stop.

Cops. To serve and protect. Unless it's snowing and you're parked in a bus stop.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Airport security find a bottle of water in a bag with bomb parts.

In your gut, do you feel safer?


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

What's going on in Pakistan?

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, July 09, 2007

Civil war and a spillover is possible.

I'm not sure you can get any funnier than this.
Iraq's foreign minister warned on Monday that a quick American military withdrawal from the country could lead to a full-scale civil war, the collapse of the government and spillover conflicts across the region.

It's not like they have a civil war now, or that the Iraqi government isn't in control, or nothing happening in Iraq has spiled over to Iran (Shiite) or Saidi Arabia (Sunni) or Turkey (Kurd). But those terrible things might happen if the US wasn't there to stop them.

The world is run by idiots.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, July 08, 2007


I was skipping through my RSS feeds this morning (I have close to 500 of them but don't really look at most of them very often) and I read Danny Boy's new blog entry about meeting celebrities.

Right after that I read the comic strip Luann's thoughts on the life of celebrities.

I think it's striking how much Danny Boy's thoughts coincide with that of a fictional 16 year old girl.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Be a man, wave that big gun around

I found a link to this police department recruiting video at The Agitator.

Garner, NC is a town you should go around, not drive through. Be careful getting off of I40 South of Raleigh. I'm serious. They have cops who are just insane.

Wow. I put up this short post about police department recruiting in Garland North Carolina and Google Adsense pops up with a couple of ads about legal defense for traffic tickets. I wonder what the hell that's all about.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Willie and Faron

Watching a Hee-Haw rerun with Willie Nelson and Faron Young. They didn't have them do a duet of "Hello Walls" (a song Willie wrote and Faron Young recorded and made them both rich).

They did do a duet of another Willie Nelson song, "Funny How Time Slips Away".

I guess they didn't do "Hello Walls" because Willie didn't want to do a song that was initially recorded and made famous by someone else, even though he's the guy who wrote it and it's a song that paid for a lot of Willie Nelson cocaine partys at Austin's Driscoll Hotel with it's royalty checks.

All those drugs sure did age Willie though. Faron Young looked younger than Willie.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

On Picking a husband

As I've mentioned in the past, I often read feminist blogs. I'm not sure how much of a supporter of feminism I am because I'm not even sure what feminism is any more. It used to be about legal and social rights of women. At least that's what I think it was about.

Today, if the blogs I read are any indication, it's more about getting attention with the use of extreme left wing politics and Marxist social theory than it is about women.

Feministing is one of the more outrageous (and entertaining) blogs that self-identify as feminist. Not only that the bloggers self-identify as professional feminists. That's who they make their living. By being feminists. Whatever it means to be a feminist these days, being a professional feminists is a whole different ballgame. That requires using all the tools available to get attention. Getting attention is the goal, not improving the legal and social rights of women.

Feministing is very good at their chosen profession. They know how to play to their audience. If by doing so they're just mumbling incoherent, internally inconsistent nonsense, well, they're professionals.

They seem to have mastered the achievement of politically correct, internally inconsistent nonsense with a recent post commenting on some comments made by an editor of Money Magazine.

Marlys Harris wrote a story for MSNBC on how to marry money. The story is somewhat serious, somewhat tongue in cheek. She at least warns us that
Before you start making repeated visits to your target's golf club or home, remember that stalking is a crime in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

To most of us that kind of language is a clue that this article is mostly intended to
entertain, that informing is only a secondary consideration in the article. But, Jessica of Feministing is a professional feminist, on a serious mission, and doesn't have time to notice such little cues to the read

Harris doesn't even mention gender until paragraph 14, when she says
First, some bad news. Forbes magazine, which has made a cottage industry of compiling lists of wealthy folks, declared this year that there are a paltry 946 billionaires in the entire world. Worse, most of them are currently married (though that does not necessarily discourage the most determined gold diggers).

The picture gets even grimmer for men. A scant 38 women appear on the list of U.S. billionaires. Average age: 63.

So, most of the article has a focus of women marrying very rich men simply because that's actually the way things tend to work, there just aren't enough very rich single women to go around. But that's not good enough for Jessica. In her commentary she starts out with
Well this is just lovely. What's the best advice that Marlys Harris, Senior Editor of Money Magazine, has for women? "Snag" yourself a "Richie Rich."

I'm not sure where the quote marks around Richie Rich comes from, Harris never makes a reference to Richie Rich in her story that I can find. And the story doesn't say that trying to snag a rich guy is the best route to success for women, in fact it says it's a tough goal to achieve. The story gives advice on how to find a really rich spouse for those who have that as a goal. The story doesn't suggest that would make a good goal.

Maybe that's a distinction that's hard for some to grasp.

Jessica also gets the rest of her criticism wrong. Pretty much her entire post is based on either miss-representation. Is that what feminism is these days?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Friday, July 06, 2007

Schools run by the asylum escapees

It appears that those running the schools in Canada are no more sane than those idiots running the Bong Hits 4 Jesus school.

God forbid that these kids might ever actually learn something in school other than if they don't bow down to authority they'll be crushed.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Neuter that dog

... or go to jail.

I think more people should neuter their pets, but I'm not so sure that we need to be sending pet owners to jail for not doing it.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chris Matthews and Ann Coulter

I lost every bit of respect I ever had for Chris Matthews when he gave Ann Coulter an hour of his show to promote the paperback edition of her latest book. There was just no reason for that, she has nothing to offer to political discourse. At least no reason that I could see.

Well, The Supreme Irony of Life thinks he's found a reason. It's a payola type reason, but it's a reason.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Parking ticket at the Glasgow airport

A cab driver who kicked one of the car bomb terrorists at the Glasgow airport got a parking ticket during the encounter.

Maybe George Bush can get the fine commuted for him.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs


Competition. Winning. That's America. It's what it's all about whether we're talking about Presidential elections or about real horseraces.

The first bet I ever made was at a quarter horse race at the racetrack in Ruidoso New Mexico. My grandmother's family was having a family reunion that weekend and I went to the race track Saturday afternoon with a bunch of relatives. The men always had a golf tournament on reunion Saturdays and at 13 I'd already tried golf and decided I had no interest in it at all. So I always did something with the women (I was pretty much the only male over the age of 12 who didn't play golf, even my daddy played golf this one time a year).

I wanted to bet on the races. My Aunt told me to pick out a horse and give her $2 and she'd place a bet for me. So I went down to the paddock area and took a look at the horses in the next race. I saw one I liked. That's the only handicapping I did (I was the school champ in FFA livestock judging competitions). I gave her the $2 and told her the horse. She went and bought me a ticket.

The horse won.

She had bought me a show ticket, it paid something like $2.40. A win ticket (what I thought she was going to buy me) would have paid something like $12.

That Aunt died about 10 years ago, but that doesn't matter, I still havn't forgiven her.

But I learned two things that afternoon. 1. If you want to place a bet, do it yourself. 2. Winning is fun. Being among the top 3 sucks.

Pretty soon we'll be seeing the start of the 2007 World Series of Poker. A competition to see who gets to be declared this years champion poker player. It's hard to find a list of the second place finishers in the WSOP results list.

We have champion poker players, champion coffee shop clerks, and the championship belt for hot dog eating has just returned to America.

What a country.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Driving while feeling bad

This is just insane.

From The severe symptoms of a hangover -- piercing headaches, body aches, dry mouth and upset stomach -- should no longer be your only concern after a night of drinking in New Jersey. Now there is the law.

In a ruling that expands the legal meaning of "under the influence," a state appeals court Thursday ruled a hangover is also an impairment -- whether it's from drinking alcohol, taking cocaine or other substances.

The judges, in a 3-0 decision, ruled a Cape May County driver, who had taken cocaine but was not intoxicated when police stopped him, was still a danger to other drivers. While the cocaine was no longer active it was the "proximate cause of his impaired behavior," the judges found.
Simply: drivers who are hung over from using cocaine can be considered impaired even if the drug is no longer in their systems.

If driving with a headache that is induced by having drank to much, or taken cocaine yesterday when is it going to become a crime to simply drive with a headache? You're just as impaired if the headache is caused by bright sun as you are if it was caused by a hangover.

Does New Jersey have some kind of bar exam requirement that requires lawyers be insane?

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, July 02, 2007

DARE and low IQ

I had to go to the VA hospital in Muskogee this morning and on the way backed I stopped for a late lunch in Bristow, OK.

The Taco Mayo had a typed announcement posted on the wall next to the cash register, something like this one from
The police officer that works with the DARE program at an elementary school passed this warning on.... If you're ever driving after dark and see an on-coming car with no headlights turned on, DO NOT flash your lights at them! This is a common gang member "initiation game" that goes like this: the new gang member under initiation drives along with no headlights and the first car to flash their headlights at him is now his "target". He is now required to turn around and chase that car and shoot at or into the car in order to complete his initiation requirements.

It is, of course, an urban legend, possibly dating as far back as 1983.

Cops make stuff up all the time. But DARE cops seem to even lack the imagination for that, they just copy stuff somebody else made up 20 years ago.

Of course Bristow Oklahoma is well; known for it's problems with Bloods street gangs.

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Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What fourth amendment?

Now, you'll be subject to a police warrant check whenever you buy a six-pack. You better make sure that traffic ticket is paid.

Hat tip to Instapundit.
isn't real impressed by this either.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Cops protecting us from renegade skateboarders

The agitator has a link to some cook video about out of control cops and skateboards. It's all pretty funny.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

pregnant criminals

Lawyers, guns, and money has an interesting post about the absurdity of prosecuting pregnant women for things like drug delivery to a fetus. Or even dumber prosecutions.
A good example is the punishment of pregnant women. My common sense indicates that prosecuting pregnant women for anything and everything they do during pregnancy that might -- or might not -- affect fetal development is a bad idea. Take, by way of example, the case of Theresa Hernandez. Ms. Hernandez, who lives in Oklahoma, is being tried for first degree murder for suffering a stillbirth at 32 weeks of pregnancy. The prosecution is based on a "highly questionable" (according to NAPW) claim that Ms. Hernandez's use of illicit drugs during her pregnancy caused the pregnancy loss.


Lifestyle and Political Blogs

When cops go bad

Atlanta had a drug raid recently that really went bad.
On Nov. 21, plainclothes narcotics officers burst into Johnston's home, using a no-knock warrant they obtained by falsely telling a judge an informant had confirmed drug dealing there, according to government prosecutors. Johnston, 92, was killed during the raid in a hail of nearly 40 police gunshots.

The agitator is following the story closely.

So far it seems that two of the cops involved in the shooting have plead guilty to manslaughter and other crimes, one more cop at the scene has been charged with related crimes (so far he's pleading not guilty) and now 3 have been suspended for acts related to false statements in getting the warrant and/or covering up the killing.

Deep, deep problems in the Atlanta police department.

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