Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seeing Red

The use of photo-red still irks me. I wish I could find where I read this, but I thought we were told that if you weren't the driver of the vehicle you could contest the citation. But according to the Spokane Police Department's web site that's only true under certain conditions.

3. Submit an Affidavit stating you were not driving the car.

You may only submit a Affidavit of Non-liability if at the time of the violation one of the following was true:
1. Vehicle was stolen (must provide police report)
2. Vehicle was sold (must provide valid proof of sale)
3. Your company is in the business of leasing or renting vehicles and the vehicle was leased or rented at the time of the violation (must provide lease or rental agreement)

Which is probably why it's a civil infraction and not reported to your insurance company. It doesn't matter who is driving, the registered vehicle owner is financially liable for the citation. Time to get a business license for Hank's Rental Car and have my son fill out a rental agreement.

The SPD also lists the web site to go to if you want to view the video of your infraction. That got me wondering. How does American Traffic Solutions, the contractor, predict who will run the red light? Obviously they can't. They leave the video cameras running 24/7 and the still cameras take the photos we were told about. Learning this concerned at least one member of the Tucson city council. This tidbit from that article bothers me.

"It's well known. It's in the contract. The police department is aware. There's nothing that surprises. It's been done like this across the country for years," ATS's Josh Weiss told Fox 11. He also claimed the video is not high enough quality for it to be a privacy issue.
But Weiss did say his company is developing a system where the cameras would be able to read license plate numbers and notify police of any wanted vehicle which passes through the intersection.

I don't know. I don't care for the idea of a surveillance capability that could be abused. More incentive to ride a bike, I guess.

Something To Make You Go "Hmmmmm"

A thought-provoking article in which the author asks, "Why do people believe in God?"

If there is no God, what is morality, where does it come from, and will it work without God? What is spirituality? How is it different than religion? Does it have value if God is a mere myth and legend? Why are there atheists? Why gods, and then a God? Why is monotheism successful in some societies and not in others? Why is belief more prevalent among some groups and cultures than in others? Why are we willing to kill and die for this particular idea?

Danger, Will Robinson!

During my a walk at lunch yesterday and spotted this Ural motorcycle and sidecar. I'd never heard of Ural motorcycles. It turns out they're made in Russia. Well, it certainly looks like a hardy piece of machinery. When looking up "ural motorcycle" I was amazed at how many sites returned by Google carried this warning.

I thought, wow, those bikes must be really dangerous. Then while searching for "dangerous motorcycles" I noticed the same warning on sites that merely had information about dangers associated with motorcycling. So then I searched for "kittens". More dangerous sites! The Google is becoming Skynet!

Time For A "Paranoid" Tag?

Maybe there's something to the tin foil hat warning at the end of my earlier post. I received this email from Cathy McMorris Rodgers this morning:

Your request has been successfully processed.

You have been successfully unsubscribed.

If you have been unsubscribed by mistake, please click here

I clicked on the link and now:

Thank You
Thank you for subscribing.

Your request has been successfully processed.

Like I said. I'm just saying.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kettle, Meet Pot

Apparently there were people not only offended by the inclusion of religious prayers and references in Obama's inauguration ceremony, but his inclusion of non-believers in his speech. I'm reminded how impossible it is to make everybody happy. This comment really struck me. I'm guessing the author of these words does not see the irony in them.

Why can't atheists keep their incessant whining to themselves instead of continuously denigrating believers who outnumber them? I personally don't give a hoot what atheists believe, and I wish they would just shut up and stop belittling those who don't see things the way they do. Things are not going to change because of their continuous grousing and ridiculing.

Nope, for this person, they're not gonna change at all.

The View This Evening

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just General Complaining

Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted against the stimulus bill but I don't think it unreasonable to expect her to articulate her reasons for doing so. I'd like to see some specifics, please. If you read the bill you should be able to tell us what parts were so disagreeable to you. And how cool would it be if you provided links to those parts so we could read for ourselves?

Update: I guess I should provide a link to the text of the bill myself. Here it is.

I subscribe to her newsletter and this morning she sent one out entitled, "In Case You Missed It..." It was just a reprint of a Wall Street Journal editorial that enumerated the wrongs in the stimulus bill. Well, heck, any hack can copy an op-ed piece from a newspaper, Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. I do it all the time. I'm interested in knowing what you think.

As an interesting aside, the last two times I wrote about our Congresswoman I received an automated email stating I was now unsubscribed from her mailing list. Both times I promptly went to her web site and subscribed again which was confirmed by another email.

Now I have lived long enough to have seen some remarkable coincidences, but if this happens know...I'm just sayin'.

Colbert Serves Up Another Ace

Quick On The Draw But Hit Lots Of Bystanders

The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed last summer in response to the potentially harmful toys made in China and sold in the U.S. The law requires testing and certification for products designed for children under 12 years of age. It looks like another example of a law with unintended consequences. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is ironing out how the rules apply. I wonder if anyone in Spokane making hand-crafted items for children has heard of this and, if so, what do they plan to do? What do thrift stores and other resellers plan to do?

Forbes magazine has a series of three (1,2,3) articles supporting a position for scrapping the law.

How Do Others See You?

Angelle Guyette has an interesting perspective in the Pittsburgh Gazette in which she asks that question.

Sinner! God himself will judge you," a fellow snarled as I passed. Angry men and women stared me down, posturing, as I made my way through the crowd.

I was scared.

The Allegheny County Council met two weeks ago to hear testimony about whether to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons among those against whom it would be unlawful to discriminate.

I'm straight but I support the legislation and wore a "Fairness to All" sticker, so some of the opponents made certain assumptions about me.

I've attended hearings on many topics where people angrily voiced their opinions, but the hatred evident at this gathering stunned me -- not only because of its ferocity, but also because of who was expressing it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dariya Dry Dreams

Back in September I received this email in my Hotmail account:

hey name is Sally i just moved here from Russia.. i noticed your profile online and thought i would contact you i am now living about 25miles from you and i am 2 years younger so i thought right away this could be good..i would love to talk with you please email me back

Love Sally

Knowing it's a scam I waited a month before replying. And I threw in a little bait.

Hi Sally,

Sorry I haven't responded earlier. I just got out of the hospital
after getting hit by a car. I'm suing the guy because he didn't even
stop for the red light. He just blew right through it and hit me.
Anyway, I'm recovering well. So what can I do for you?


(As an aside, my name on the hotmail account is Borga Rigme. It has it's roots in a George Carlin joke. The sound your stomach makes when it's hungry is borborigme.)

And "she" answered:

Hi my new friend
Im glad to see that you have decided to reply,I see it is very short letter.
It is all right because you are astonished to get my letter.
I want you to know that I have only good intentions and I have not any secrets.
The thing is that I will work in your country for three months or so and
I would like to meet a nice man to fall in love or just be closest friends.
I don't want to live in Russia because I have not any chances here,
it is hardly possible to explain from first time but I want you to know my plans.
I will work in any shop, bar or restaurant the agency that i am going through will suggest me some locations.
It will be my choice in the end as to what option to go for.
So I will have a simple work till I improve my English. And I can choose any
town of your area,agency will only help me to get a visa and all travel documents + some suggested placed to work in.
My best friend last year met the man from the USA when she worked there for three months, too.
She had two jobs. From morning till 4 pm she worked in amusement park and after it she worked as a waitress in some bar till midnight.
She was very tired of course but made very good money there.
It is special programm for young people who wants to work abroad and I think it is the right way for me ,
I am lost here,and I think that I look pretty enough to find a better place .I want to repeat the same way,it is
only my chance to meet a nice man.I want to work in USA or in Europe or any
nice country. I am full of plans and different dreams and I want to share my
life with good man because I'm also full of love and tenderness,I know that
I am not so beautiful like Hollywood Princess but I do hope to meet my Prince and
I am sure he will be not be disappoined to meet me in the real life! This is why I am going to go through the same way.
Well,I will close this letter and I do hope to get your reply.
I will leave russia in two weeks or so (I can't tell you everything exactly
right now) and I would like tobe sure that I have the man who waits for me there. I will work all day and I want to find a man to spend all free time
together to get to know each other better.if you have any interest to meet me I will be more than happy to meet you too.
I will tell you all details about me and my life if you like my pictures and
want to meet me! please send picture of you too!!!
I write to you with my new mailbox, please write
letters now only on this mailbox.
I will wait your next letter.
Kiss you , Dariya (this is my name)!

Seeing how astonished "she" was, comfortable that "she" didn't have any secrets and tempted by "her" new name, I thought I'd string "her" along and see how far I could go before "she" realized I wasn't falling for it. Of course, I posted about it. I didn't go into great detail on the email exchanges, but I think I posted enough for everyone to enjoy. Barb said I should put the links in one post to make it easier to read. Good idea. So here they are in chronological order.





A Missing Ingredient

I sat in on the public hearing for the Master Bike Plan this evening. I hadn't planned on speaking and apparently quite a few other attendees didn't either. Only four or five people offered up any public testimony and all, except for the last young man, were part of one organization or another. But that young man's impromptu talk got me thinking. The commission should hear from people who ride on the roads and use the current bike routes and let them know what their experience is like.

The commission will meet on Feb 11 to make their decision. But they voted to hold the paper record open until Feb 6. So we cyclists have an opportunity for some input.

I'm going to write a letter about the route I take to and from work and how the wide roads, bike lanes, and quiet residential roadways on this dedicated bike route allow me to safely ride from Northpoint to downtown and back. I'll let them know how much I enjoy and appreciate the ride and how adopting the master bike plan will provide that opportunity for many others who don't have the luxury of a dedicated bike route.

If you're interested in doing so--and you should if you're a cyclist--send a letter to Pat Hall and make sure it gets there before Feb 6. Let her know you're submitting testimony for the Plan Commission's deliberation on the Master Bike Plan.

Pat Hall
Planning Services Department
808 West Spokane Falls Blvd
Spokane, WA 99201

Something To Think About

Glenn Greenwald has a great article about the effect mandatory minimum sentences on our legal system and how you and I are treated by that system in contrast to the political elite.

Our political class has embraced mandatory minimum sentencing schemes as a way to eliminate mercy and sentencing flexibility for ordinary people who break the law (as opposed to Bush officials who do). The advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums details just some of the grotesque injustices here, including decades of imprisonment for petty drug dealing which even many judges who are forced to impose the sentences find disgraceful. Currently in the U.S., close to 7,000 people are serving sentences of 25 years to life under our merciless "three-strikes-and-out" laws -- which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in a 5-4 ruling -- including half for nonviolent offenses and many for petty theft.


Our political class has embraced mandatory minimum sentencing schemes as a way to eliminate mercy and sentencing flexibility for ordinary people who break the law (as opposed to Bush officials who do). The advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums details just some of the grotesque injustices here, including decades of imprisonment for petty drug dealing which even many judges who are forced to impose the sentences find disgraceful. Currently in the U.S., close to 7,000 people are serving sentences of 25 years to life under our merciless "three-strikes-and-out" laws -- which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in a 5-4 ruling -- including half for nonviolent offenses and many for petty theft.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where Is Dariya?

She doesn't write. She doesn't call.
I haven't heard a word at all.
Ain't she cute? My Russian beaut
In whose dreamy eyes my heart will fall.
Perhaps the scam's too much to bear
For one so blond with skin so fair.
Or when she saw the fake receipt
She knew she was dealing with another cheat.

The Suspect Allegedly Used A Throwing Motion To Cause A Stone-Like Object To Strike The Window Resulting In A Breakage Of The Glass

This article brought back memories of my military law enforcement days back in the 70's and 80's. When I wrote incident reports I had to make them sound "official" and clear, plain English--while being very clear and quite plain--did not sound official and was not allowed.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Know He's Gone Now But...

I found this comment on a letter to the editor at the Bangor Daily News.

So to keep busy in the meantime Mr. Wilson, you can get busy with the huge task of helping to build the "Dubbya" Presidential library. Here is a to-do list for you and your ilk to consider:

The Library will include:

1. The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction.

2. The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won't be able to remember anything.

3. The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don't even have to show up.

4. The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don't let you in.

5. The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don't let you out.

6. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find.

7. The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling.

8. The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy.

9. The Economy Room, which is in the toilet.

10. The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)

11. The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shooting gallery.

12. The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty.

13. The Supreme Gift Shop, where you can buy an election.

14. The Airport Men's Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators.

15. The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws.

Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President's accomplishments.

The library will also include many famous Quotes by George W.Bush:

1. 'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'

2. 'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'

3. 'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.'

4. 'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.'

5. 'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'

6. 'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'

7. 'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'

8. 'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'

9. 'The future will be better tomorrow.'

10. 'We're going to have the best educated American people in the world.. 'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)

12. 'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'

13. 'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'

14. 'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'

15. 'I stand by all the misstatements that I've made.'...George W.Bush to Sam Donaldson

Good Politicking And Bad Law

Back on January 9th Rep Peter King (R-NY) submitted a bill entitled the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act.

Not that this has a serious chance of being enacted, but let's have a look at it.

Congress finds that children and adolescents have been exploited by photographs taken in dressing rooms and public places with the use of a camera phone.

If Congress has made such a finding I sure would appreciate some references. I haven't heard much in the way of cell phone camera intrusions in dressing rooms. If my child were in a dressing room and I saw someone walk up with a cell phone or anything else trying to take pictures, I'd do something about it. But that's just me. A parent. Keeping an eye on my kid.

I was not aware there is a market for pictures of children and adolescents in public places, especially those high quality photos we associate with cell phone cameras. I see people holding their phone at arm's length in public places all the time. Thanks to Congressman King I now know what these sick people are up to.

(a) Requirement- Beginning 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, any mobile phone containing a digital camera that is manufactured for sale in the United States shall sound a tone or other sound audible within a reasonable radius of the phone whenever a photograph is taken with the camera in such phone. A mobile phone manufactured after such date shall not be equipped with a means of disabling or silencing such tone or sound.
(b) Enforcement by Consumer Product Safety Commission- The requirement in subsection (a) shall be treated as a consumer product safety standard promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under section 7 of the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 2056). A violation of subsection (a) shall be enforced by the Commission under section 19 of such Act (15 U.S.C. 2068).

It will be up to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to determine a "reasonable radius" and what sound the phone will make when it takes a picture. Aside from that, if surreptitious photos are the problem why doesn't he address everything that takes pictures? Small digital cameras can have their sound disabled. Should silent video cameras be made to go clickety-clickety like the Super 8 movie cameras of old?

Being able to tell your constituents you have submitted a bill called the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act sounds hard on crime and good for society. And that appears to be what's important in this case.

And You're Writing This Because...

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently put forth some advice concerning appointments to four empty seats on the Fourth Circuit.

Overall, I found it confusing. He describes how judges realize and understand their role yet hints that the judges that will be nominated by the Democratic party will somehow not fit in.

With four vacancies on our 15-member court, the 4th Circuit may be the best game in town. With the new numbers in the Senate, the temptation is there to go for an ideological makeover.

Yet the tempting course would prove a misguided one.

What is "the tempting course"? He doesn't exactly say other than ideology should not be the main factor for selecting judges.

"I don't understand how someone so nice and so smart can be so wrong," I have told my wife. Her reply? "And did you stop to think, Jay, that they could be saying the same -- or worse -- about you?"

It seems to me that a judge, someone I would expect to be introspective, wouldn't need someone to ask that question.

The 4th Circuit has never prided itself on ideology but on the collegiality that takes minds out of concrete and prevents personal animosities from clouding and distorting the essential act of judgment.

As does any court. Is he implying that the minds of Democratic-appointed judges are mired in concrete and they're unable to keep their personal animosities in check?

Today, the misadventures of the third branch can, like the miscalculations of elected bodies, place tens or hundreds of thousands at risk or, conversely, hasten the loss of our priceless heritage of personal liberty.

Be afraid! Yes, fear has worked wonders for us over the years. Many could be placed at risk--or even die. And then there's our priceless heritage of personal liberty he's apparently very concerned about. This from the judge who wrote the majority opinion upholding the right of the United States government to detain Yaser Esam Hamdi indefinitely without access to counsel or a court. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen captured during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The decision was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Our country faces deep and endemic difficulties, and the need for a successful presidency has seldom been so great.

I can't argue with that. For someone who supposed to be politically neutral he sure is living on the edge.

But I still have to ask, "What's your point, Your Honor?"

New Categories At The 4-H

While I understand we have crossbred various foods in the past in order to get the most desired qualities, genetically modified crops don't appeal to me and I avoid them if I know they are there. (That's a whole 'nuther issue.) But the idea of eating transgenic animals appeals to me even less. It doesn't take a lot of research to understand the effect an industrialized food supply has had on our food as well as us.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Worst Lies

Mitch Albom has a great column about lies over on The Detroit Free Press.

There is news every day of how banks that received money from the Troubled Assets Relief Program are failing to lend it, or never should have gotten it in the first place. We were told that without it, the banks would fail and credit would never loosen. But with it, credit has not loosened, and some banks have used the money to simply enrich themselves and purchase more assets.

A business lie.


Now, I'm not saying we never get upset at such things. But we get much angrier over a football coach not getting fired or a New York governor hiring a prostitute. We will argue that stuff on the airwaves, over watercoolers. We'll scream until we're blue.

But celebrity lies or sports lies don't affect our lives. Business lies do. They affect many aspects of it. And yet we seem to shrug and sigh, "Ah, what are you gonna do?"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I'm A Bad Boy

So I'm registering myself on a newspaper site and I notice the terms of service are lengthy. That made me curious enough to read them. Here's one part that caught my interest.

You shall not copy or adapt the HTML code that the Company creates to generate any Web Site Content or the pages making up any BDN Site. It is also protected by the Company's copyright.

Dang, I violated the terms already and I haven't even confirmed my registration yet.

Life In An Alternate Universe

Thank you George W. Bush for the free air I get to breathe.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Abe

Photo by Lee Ann

The West Valley High School band played Civil War era songs at the statue of Lincoln today. (Said statue was known as "the frozen man" when my kids were younger.) I happened across the students as they were loading back up on the buses and asked what the occasion was. It was in recognition of Lincoln's forthcoming 200th birthday. Cool beans!

Why Guantanamo Needs To Be Closed

Have a look at this investigation by the McClatchy news organization and I think you'll have a better understanding why our country's reputation was tarnished so badly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"I Very Much Love You"

Well, my Russian bride to be is so eager to see me.

Hello my lovely Borga
How are you today?

I miss you very much ((((

I think minutes when I can see you,
I would like to collect the things right now and
to sit and the plane and to fly to you now.
To see you and to calm down in your hands.
Thank for that that you want to help me.
It is possible to send " Western Union ". When you
You will send money, send me the full information on
and MTCN or Money Gramm
The darling, write, please, number MTCN or Money Gramm and all data,
That I could tell them in bank.
When I close eyes I all time I present
our meeting with you. And you imagine our meeting?
I very much love you, my heart is ready to jump out of a breast
when I think of you. I feel that wanted such husband all
the life. I die without you. I never before was not so is in love

I will go down with this ship
and I won't put my arms up and surrender
there will be no white flag above my door

Your Dariya

P/S Customer copy
First Name sender:
Last Name sender:
Country sender:
City sender:

She sent me another picture and yet she teases me about calming down my hands. Naughty Dariya!

And she included specific instructions for sending her the money so she can fly here and be with me. How thoughtful of her. How great it will be to have a woman in my life who pays such attention to detail. This wonderful woman I've exchanged eight romantic emails with over three months says she will die without me. She is so dedicated to me that I decided we will sail this ship together! I can't have a white flag above my door signifying the loss of my warm lips--or my uncalmed hands.

I imagine...her warm lips...on mine...mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

I decided to do everything possible to help this young lady. I found a copy of a blank Western Union form. I printed it, filled it out, scanned it...

...and sent it to my darling Dariya. I just know she's going to be so surprised.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some People Have All The Fun

Can you imagine a No Pants Day on the STA buses? Unlike other cities, it would probably make the news here. And to think some people don't think highly of Spokane's (lack of) culture.

Somebody Didn't Clean Up After Themselves

There was a story in the New Scientist today about some early weapons-grade plutonium found in a safe in a waste pit at Hanford in the Tri-Cities area.

Two things popped into my mind when I read this. This irreverant song from the Cold War era by one of the best song writers you've probably never heard of, Steve Goodman.

Watching Joey Glow

Down here in the shelter, we've got everything we need.
Mom put up her peach preserves, Pa's got a book to read.
Sister knits some bandages, and we turn the lights down low
And play some Scrabble, watching Joey glow.

At breakfast Mom hands Joe the bread, and he turns it into toast.
Last night he hugged a leg of lamb, and soon we had a roast.
You should see him heat the coffee up when he stirs it with his toe.
We all get hungry, watching Joey glow.


You have to wear dark glasses if you look at him a while,
Or he'll fry your little eyes out with his incandescent smile.

At Christmastime, it sure felt strange, but it was great to see
The way we decorated Joe as if he was our tree,
And his star was shining brightly underneath the mistletoe,
So we blew him kisses, watching Joey glow.


I hope the world's not over, for my sake and for his.
I'd love for everyone to know how brilliant Joey is.

We've been down here for six months now, and we're proud to be alive.
We owe it to America to sit here and survive.
So we listen to the static on the short wave radio
And count the shock waves, watching Joey glow.

And on a more serious note, I was reminded of Atomic Farmgirl: Growing Up Right In The Wrong Place, an excellent story about growing up in eastern Washington downwind of Hanford. It's a touching story about rural and small town life and how it was affected by radioactive poisons released by the Hanford site.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We Are A Nation Of Laws

In one of his last acts in office, George W. Bush, commuted the sentences of two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a suspected drug smuggler in 2005.

Alex Koppelman wrote an in-depth article about the case in back in 2007.

From the article:

[I]n the Texas desert southeast of El Paso, two U.S. Border Patrol agents fired 15 bullets at a suspected drug dealer who was fleeing on foot toward the border. The man, a Mexican national, was hit once in the buttocks but made it across the Rio Grande. The agents who fired their weapons, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, were sentenced to more than a decade in prison for firing on an unarmed man and then trying to cover up the crime.

For the prosecutors and the jury, the shooting of Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila near Fabens, Texas, was a clearly unlawful use of force. But the conviction of Ramos and Compean was just the beginning of the agents' story. Within months, they had become the center of a dubious political crusade that would energize the furthest reaches of the right, dominate one of CNN's most popular news programs, and persuade a quarter of the U.S. House of Representatives -- and one prominent Democratic senator -- to reject the findings of a federal court.


At trial in the federal courthouse in El Paso, Border Patrol agents from the Fabens station took the stand to testify against Ramos and Compean. Fellow agents, including one who had observed the shooting, contradicted Compean's story about where he was and how he was positioned when he fired his weapon. The agent who had helped Compean hide shell casings admitted it under oath. Prosecutors showed that Compean had repeatedly changed his story about the shooting and that it didn't match Ramos' account. They were also able to show that although Compean had discussed the shooting with other agents after it happened, it wasn't until his arrest that he began claiming that Aldrete-Davila had had a gun.

The prosecution's version of events was convincing enough for the jury, in March 2006, to find Ramos and Compean guilty of all but assault with intent to commit murder. Most media coverage of the case was local, and it comported with the jury's verdict: a bad shooting, a coverup and damning testimony from fellow agents that led to an uncontroversial conviction. Seven months later, a judge sentenced Ramos and Compean to 11 and 12 years in prison, respectively.

But by the time of their sentencing, the right wing had discovered the agents and begun constructing a new narrative. Ramos and Compean's newfound supporters soon settled on a radically different version of the shooting, cobbled together from speculation, rumors, misstatements of fact and various unproven assertions cherry-picked from the case the defense presented at trial.

In the right-wing version of the Aldrete-Davila case, the officers shot at the suspect because they feared for their safety. The agents' supporters say the fleeing suspect may, in fact, have been armed. In their scenario, Compean fell to one knee after trying to restrain Aldrete-Davila with the shotgun, and the suspect ran away. Compean then chased Aldrete-Davila and tackled him. Aldrete-Davila got away again. As Aldrete-Davila ran toward the border, he extended a gun behind him as if to fire, and Compean started shooting in self-defense. Ramos saw Compean on the ground, heard the shots and, believing his fellow agent shot or in danger, fired the bullet that hit Aldrete-Davila. Once the case went to trial, federal prosecutors supposedly manipulated witnesses and covered up Aldrete-Davila's misdeeds -- actually quashing a sealed indictment for drug smuggling -- in order to secure convictions of the two agents.

The story that Ramos and Compean's supporters constructed was essentially unchallenged by the mainstream media -- because the mainstream media wasn't paying attention. When traditional news outlets did cover Ramos and Compean, it was to comment on the right's fascination with the case, but not to examine or debunk the right's reporting.

Here are the US Code violations Ramos was charged with and the sentence for each crime he was found guilty of:

12 months and 1 day imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
12 months and 1 day imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and a $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 120 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
12 months and 1 day imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and a $100.00 Special Assessment

And here are Compean's charges and sentences:

Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and a $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 120 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment
Sentenced to 24 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years supervised release and $100.00 Special Assessment

Regardless of the findings of the jury and the fact sheet released by the U.S. Attorney, George W. Bush, the man who admitted to Brit Hume, "“I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are...probably read the news themselves,” did not bother to find out the real story and acceded to the false hue and cry of justice miscarried.

From the McClatchy article:

"Our prayers have been answered!" [Representative Dana] Rohrabacher [R. CA] said in a statement Monday. "This is not just a day of celebration for the families but it is a victory for all Americans, while acknowledging our system is flawed, to see that if they are involved, if they speak up and utilize their freedom, injustices can be corrected."


"I am very pleased to learn that the president has commuted the sentences," [Senator Dianne] Feinstein [D. CA] said in a statement. "Senator Cornyn [R. Tx] and I held an extensive hearing that looked deeply into this case, and I believe this commutation is deserved."

Our justice system has its flaws, but this case was not of them. In this case the injustices were setting the truth aside and commuting the sentences. As you can see from the Congressional support, Bush wasn't the only one who failed in his duty as a public servant. Sometimes justice is blind because she gets a thumb poked in her eyes.

Gelded By A Whack Job

Remember my post about Krispy Kreme offering free donuts and screaming about their use of of the word "choice"?

Judie Brown on the American Life League is jubilant because Krispy Kreme released another statement clarifying their promotion.

From the American Life League:

After communicating with Krispy Kreme staffers and explaining why we were so concerned about their poor choice of words, the company’s public statement went from this:

"Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies -- just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet "free" can be."

to this:

"Krispy Kreme Doughnuts' Inauguration Day promotion on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, is offering one, free doughnut of a customer’s choice at participating Krispy Kreme locations nationwide. No purchase is necessary. The promotion allows customers to commemorate Inauguration Day by selecting one free doughnut of any variety at local participating stores. On Election Day, November 4, 2008, Krispy Kreme ran a promotion that provided customers with one free star-shaped doughnut at stores nationwide. The Inauguration Day promotion is not about any social or political issue."

We understand that Krispy Kreme is not nor has it ever been aligned with either side of the hotly debated "abortion issue," but that does not excuse it from inadvertently using a phrase that suggested to us that it was, in fact, very much in support of abortion rights in America.

Following that line of reasoning, using the word "choice" and the phrase "freedom of choice" in any context leads to pro-choice which leads to abortions.

From the ALL again:

And, if I may say, it was also an eye-opener for me, as never before in my 37 years of pro-life activity have I been described in so many unflattering ways. Practically every epithet, from “wing nut,” to “nut case,” was used, including a few I cannot repeat. It seems some people just didn’t appreciate the fact that we take our work seriously, especially when it comes to helping others see the power of words.

I'd say "nut case" hit the nail on the head. Krispy Kreme's promotion obviously had no hidden intentions or meanings and the company need not have provided clarification just because someone is trying to co-opt the word "choice" and the phrase "freedom of choice". Krispy Kreme's actions merely gave credence to Brown's claim.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Crystal City

The freezing fog created some cool ice crystal structures on everything. The gray morning light wasn't very helpful. Had I been thinking I could've added a touch of flash to this one.

The sun finally peeked out for a little bit this afternoon allowing me to take some nicer shots. Walking around on top of the deep snow was pretty cool. I stepped on some thin crust and fell through twice so that wasn't bad.

There's more cool stuff about snow, frost, and ice crystals at

House Of Charity Visit

Last Saturday I spotted an open house invitation on 7,000 so Steph and I went today. A Jesuit volunteer named John showed us around. John was graduated from Santa Clara last year and decided to commit to working for a year as a Jesuit volunteer. He said he still trying to figure out what he's going to do when he finishes in August.

Along with housing assistance and medical care from volunteer doctors, the House of Charity provides clothing and food for the homeless and other people in need. Although they do prepare a small breakfast and a modest dinner, the main meal they provide is lunch during which they serve 150-200 people. The kitchen is the primary volunteer opportunity in which you can help prepare the food, serve it, and clean up afterwards.

They also have 114 beds for men. It's a real interesting system. The men are awakened at 6:45 am. They turn in their pajamas, put their own clothes back on, retrieve their property and clothing from their locker, and go outside. The house opens at 7:30 am and the men who just went outside can come back in and sign up for a bed. Those that had a bed get priority, so as long as they sign back up every morning they can have a warm and safe place to sleep for as long as they want. Some people have done so for over a year. At 7:30 pm, those that have a bed lock up everything they have in a locker, take a shower, put on the pajamas provided for them and go to bed. No personal property whatsoever is allowed in the bed area to prevent disturbances as well as theft.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Show Me The Money

Remember my "Russian girlfriend"? Well, it's crunch time.

Hey my love,I have got all the info and resend to you, you see I am after visit to consulate and agency and I am so happy to say that we will meet in a few days!!!! I am really lucky girl to meet you.Honey the thing is that I booked nearest possible flight .I need only your help. there is only a small problem but I am sure we will be able to solve... I think it is not great problem for you to help me.I even think that maybe it will give you the pleasure to help me because you are my knight,rught? after all payments here and travel by plane I have about 300 dollars my own money and I need about 990 dollars from your side, because I have to pay for ticket and a few thigs yet,and I have to pay in advance about 1290 dollars and if the tickets will cost less i will get some money back. when we meet I will return this sum and some extra money because to send thransfer costs money too.I have to be sure that I will be able to book it or I will lose all the money I gave them in advance.I'm not going to ask one more time for your help,you see I am in hard situation.

She presents a pretty convincing case, eh? I wonder how I can get the money to her.

Million Kisses, Your poor Dariya you know my rent address here is Russia, Moscow, Komsomol prospect,home 37 flat 39. Remember that my full name is TRUKHINA -(last name) .DARIYA - (first name) it is right writting in English, and you should put it on western union list and you can choice any bank in Moscow,they tell it is international service and I can get money in any bank of Moscow. they tell I can get western union transfer or money gramm because I have not any bank accounts in Moscow and I have only passport and it is enough to get it!

Well if I send the money, what's in it for me?

I dream about our first meeting,our first night and I have some sexy night dress with me!

Oh, baby! I'm off to Western Union.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Maybe We Will, Too

Earlier I mentioned the decriminalization of marijuana in Massachusetts. Our interminable war on drugs is a popular issue on Barack Obama's site as well. Well, now a bill has been submitted in the Washington legislature which will reclassify possession of forty grams or less of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a class 2 civil infraction.

It's a start.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Free Donuts Mean More Abortions

Some people will go all out to twist the meaning of something to suit their purpose. Here's a notice that came out yesterday from the folks at LifeSiteNews.

The next time you stare down a conveyor belt of slow-moving, hot, sugary glazed donuts at your local Krispy Kreme you just might be supporting President-elect Barack Obama's radical support for abortion on demand – including his sweeping promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as soon as he steps in the Oval Office, Jan. 20.
A misconstrued concept of "choice" has killed over 50 million preborn children since Jan. 22, 1973. Does Krispy Kreme really want their free doughnuts to celebrate this "freedom"?

What are they upset about? On Jan 14, Krispy Kreme made this announcement:

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. (NYSE: KKD) is honoring American's sense of pride and freedom of choice on Inauguration Day, by offering a free doughnut of choice to every customer on this historic day, Jan. 20. By doing so, participating Krispy Kreme stores nationwide are making an oath to tasty goodies -- just another reminder of how oh-so-sweet "free" can be.

"Krispy Kreme is taking the inaugural festivities nationwide," said Ron Rupocinski, executive chef for Krispy Kreme. "We're inviting our fans in cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., to commemorate this historic day with a favorite American treat."

The nerve of those Krispy Kreme people!

Make Your Own Bike Lane

I doubt this idea would be legally enforceable as far as establishing a bike lane, but it's worth doing for the cool factor alone.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

One of the duties I remember from my twenty-three years in the Air Force was writing the performance reports on the people I supervised. Every enlisted person received an Airman Performance Report (later named Enlisted Performance Report) at least once per year. I took the job seriously and did my best to write fair and honest reports on my people. Some (not so good) supervisors put the onus of writing the report on the person receiving it. Well, whenever a person is told to write their own evaluation you can bet they're going to make it look as good as possible. They'll ignore the mistakes and poor judgment and highlight every scrap of anything positive they can find. Often, the main positive point was repeated in different language because there wasn't much more to say. It was easy for me to recognize these types of evaluations and the first thing I would do was start cutting out all the bullshit.

President Bush's farewell address tonight brought all that back to my mind. To me he was trying hard to put the brightest positive light on his presidency, repeating much of the The Bush Record and begging us not to hold him in disdain.

I have to admit he's successful at one thing--failure.

If It Had Been A Snake...

Kathy had some periodontal surgery done yesterday and last night she was pretty miserable. (Tip: If you want your kids to go to bed, just have mom start vomiting into a bowl in the family room. It really works!) I stayed home today to take care of her. This morning she asked for a chocolate and banana milkshake and I was only too happy to make that for her. Gathering the ingredients together on the kitchen counter, I tried to remember where the blender was. I hadn't used it in ages and I couldn't recall seeing or putting it anywhere. In typical husband form I had to ask and consequently got the "look". You know, the look that says, "You mean the blender on the counter right in front of you?"

Yeah, that look.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Moment Of Zen

Recently, I and several family members and friends were standing outside a locked building waiting for someone who knew the combination to show up and let us in. The door had a five-button lock on it. (I'm not going to identify the building or our purpose for being there so I don't embarrass the building owner or give away the building you're about to learn the combination to.) The buttons were numbered 1 through 5. Talk amongst a couple people who claimed some familiarity with the combination said there were three or four numbers in it. Stephanie spoke up and said she once guessed the combination on the side door to the building. She couldn't remember what it was other than it had 3's and 4's in it.

Years ago, a friend of mine taught me to look at the buttons on cypher locks and check for wear and cleanliness. Unused buttons tend to be dull and dirty. Used buttons tend to be clean and shiny. I took a close look and saw that 1 and 5 appeared to have received less usage than 2, 3, and 4. I stepped back and thought a moment. That selection jibed with Stephanie's story. Since each number can only be used once, it was most likely a three-digit combo. That combination has only six possibilities so if it truly was a three-digit combo it wouldn't to take long to get in. As predictable as humans are, I figured it was not 2-3-4 because those numbers are in sequence. We usually try to mix things up. So after this short period of deliberation, rumination (Bear with me. I'm trying to get back to genius level), and cogitation (How often do you get to use that word?) I stepped up to the door, punched 3-4-2, turned the handle and pulled. To the amazement of everyone--even I was surprised--and to a chorus of "Whoa! How'd you do that?" I opened the door.

So that was pretty cool.

Recipe For Success And Disaster

When I look back at my serious posts--and by serious I mean the ones I intended to be thoughtful or thought provoking--I find my best ones stewed in my mind for a good length of time. Much as a chef prepares a new dish more than once in order to get it right, good writing involves lots of rewriting. (Not that I claim to be a good writer, but please let me enjoy my delusion.) When I look at the posts I've done in haste or without the fermentation necessary for the desired result, I find they lack texture and substance. Their flavor is all wrong and they confuse the palate. That's because all too often I'm yanking the pan off the stove when the contents have come to a boil and calling it done--like this morning--when, in fact, it needs to simmer. Or be thrown out and started anew.

I'm dealing with two issues here. First, when working from scratch not only does it help to have a well-stocked pantry, but it serves well to know where all the ingredients are and how they're best used. Secondly, placing a toque next to the keyboard could remind me to refrain from dishing it up until it's ready and properly done.

So that's what I'm working on.

Help Preserve The Sanctity Of Marriage

This video is too funny in a not so funny kind of way. I've mentioned how some people feel about this before. Again, anyone can pick and choose from the Bible in order to argue that a point is valid. Most pick only the good parts and stress those and that's fine. Inspiration, hope and love are natural human traits to promote. Besides, it's not like there isn't any wisdom in the Bible. But we tend to not address things such as incest and murder in the good book. If you bring those up you're either attacked for not believing in the inerrant word or politely informed that you just don't understand.

A marriage is as hallowed as the two people make it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Remembering What I Remembered To Do

We have a lot of passwords to keep track of and if you're using a computer you probably already knew that. Between multiple email accounts, computer and network passwords at work and at home, online banking, forums, blogs, social networks, video and photo sites we end up with a lot of accounts. I recently went through the tedious process of changing my passwords for everything that's important to me. I did not change my password for every account because there are some that aren't that important. One example is my Hotmail account with which I converse with my soon-to-be Russian wife once I help pay her way here. For the unimportant accounts like that I use the same, easy-to-remember medium-strength password because I don't care if they get compromised.

If you're on a computer at your work you probably have security policies in effect that force you to change your password(s) on a regular basis. But do you do that for your personal accounts? Most people don't. Here's an interesting exercise. Make a list of every account you have that requires a password. I ended up with thirty-seven on my list and I'm sure I'm missing a couple of infrequently used sites. That's a lot of passwords to remember. When we have such a large number to keep track of it's easy to understand why we usually switch between a small number of passwords. Throwing a wrench into the works is the odd site that forces you to use a strong password of a minimum length that contains upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. It's usually the one where you end up clicking the "I forgot my password" link. Oh, crap! Now I have to remember how I answered the security question!

So where was I going with this? Oh yeah. I recently went through the process of changing my passwords for all the important stuff. It was funny how just doing things I was very comfortable with would trigger my mind to change to another password that I hadn't thought about. Being a creature of habit it would take me a moment to realize that I had just typed in a login and password. "Oh, I need to change that one, too." After changing many passwords I reached the point where I was going to change my Lotus Notes password at work. As with many applications, to change the password in Notes you have to enter your current password. Notes was open. I selected the required menu items and I was prompted for my current password. I entered it and clicked OK. It was wrong. Huh? I tried again. It was still wrong. I tried again and this time slowly typed each character to make sure the lowercase letters were lowercase, the uppercase letters were uppercase, and each number and special character was correct. It was still wrong. What the heck? I know I haven't changed it yet, but to make sure I exhaust all possibilities I tried my new password.

It worked. Apparently I had already changed it and yet I have no memory of doing so.

It looks like remembering my passwords is the least of my problems.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's All In Your Head

I should say, "Use your head."

Last week there was an Reuters article about cyclists not using helmets. This was already discussed elsewhere so I'm not going to go into detail, but one part in particular caught my attention.

The risks of cycling without a helmet are even higher -- the group cited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as saying 92 percent of bicyclists killed in 2007 were not wearing helmets. Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.

Throwing numbers out like that can fool people into thinking that a vast majority of the 92 percent of killed cyclists would have lived had they been wearing a helmet. What they don't tell you is how many of those cyclists died of head injuries that a helmet would have protected them from. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't wear a helmet--you can ride safely with or without one--but don't let statements like this go without challenge.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Oh, What A Lucky Man He Was

So this girl from Russia emails me and she says her name is Sally. Then her name is really Dariya. And she just moved here from Moscow and she only lives 25 miles away from me. And then she lives in Irkutsk and she's moving to Moscow. And then she lives somewhere else and she's going first to Irkutsk and then to Moscow. And after she gets all her documents she going to come to me! Wow! And she sends me all these pictures of her and she's a dancer and then she's a waitress. Oh, and she's a great cook, too. She loves Mexican, Italian, Russian, and pizza. Talk about having it all in one package. And then she says her mother is so happy that I'm a nice man and that I will take such good care of Dariya.

On a lark I searched the Internet for Dariya's email address and found her pictures on other sites. Whaaaaaaaaaat!!! She's been writing other guys?! My spider senses are tingling and it occurs to me that maybe something isn't quite right. I'm thinking that possibly--and I realize there's an outside chance of this--someone stole her identity. Yeah, and they're trying to pass themselves of as her to these other people, probably in a scheme to rip them off or something. I should warn her about what's going on. I bet she'll be eternally grateful.

Those boots sure do make her look tall. I wonder if she's going to need any help coming here from Moscow.

He Told Me So

It really bothers me when people purport to know what their god thinks and says. A lot of the killing in the world would be avoided if people would just stop claiming to have and acting upon said knowledge.

I did not have the opportunity to learn exactly what God is upset about. If I ever get the opportunity I'm going to ask. In my experience they're always eager to tell you and they have the strangest look in their eyes when they do.

Killing Is Cheap

The eloquent Bill Moyers talked about violence in the Middle East last night.

Are You Going To Let Him Talk To You Like That?

The issues about investigating Presidential abuse of power, authorizing torture, violating the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act, etc., are gaining ground.

Rep. John Conyers has submitted a bill to establish a National Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties. Its purpose is to establish a Blue Ribbon Commission comprised of experts outside government service to investigate the broad range of policies of the Bush administration that were undertaken under claims of unreviewable war powers.

On Barack Obama's (click on Additional Issues), the question about appointing a special prosecutor to investigate alleged authorization of torture and illegal surveillance has received the most votes of any question on the site.

Let your senators and representative know how you feel about this.

If we do nothing, then future presidents have established precedents on which to base decisions in which they can violate the law. It's like not doing anything the first time your child back-sasses you--but on a far, far greater scale.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sometimes I Even Amaze Myself

There is a site that rates the reading level of blogs. (Of course, this is absolutely meaningless and yet important enough for me to mention since I got a fairly high reading level.) I have no idea what criteria they use to determine that, but here is what they say for mine.

blog readability test

Yeah, it's a little disappointing. Back when I first started I was at genius level. But, hey, this doesn't really mean anything, right?

I suppose I should thesaurus and dictionary reference and increase more bigger words to make my level go upper.

You probably don't need to be a genius to understand what I just expectorated.

Wow, It's Like He Was Reading My Mind

I mentioned Dawn Johnsen earlier today. John Dean has an excellent article about her on Findlaw. He includes links to several papers she's written. Some of the papers are on the Social Science Research Network.

By the way, setting up an account on the Social Science Research Network is easy and it's free. Many papers on the site are free, too, including the ones linked to by Dean.

As I Was Walking Down The Street One Day

I went to the Fairchild Clinic yesterday and while sitting in the room with the doctor I noticed the clock on the wall had "Radio Controlled" printed on its face. I've never seen that before--I know, I know, I don't get out much--so I had to ask, "Why does the clock have 'radio controlled' on it?" He explained that the clocks have a receiver and at 4:00 pm every day they sync up to the atomic clock in Denver. I assume he meant the National Institute of Standards and Technology cesium clock in Boulder, CO.

He said that if the clock is incorrect then it kicks into high gear. The hands spin around and the clock cycles forward until it reaches the correct time. What's funny is that the Fairchild Clinic (formerly known as a hospital) is three stories of cinderblock construction and the radio signal doesn't reach some of the inner rooms. In those cases someone moves the clock to where it can receive the signal and returns it after it's correctly set. How crazy is that? I wonder how this precision timing has affected the quality and quantity of medical care they provide.

Where I work we have those cheap wall clocks that take one AA battery every year. Twice a year we have to adjust them for Daylight Savings/Wasting Time. Those types of clocks have served us well for many years. Never in my life have I required a clock that was accurate within a second at all times.

Digression time. When I was stationed on Guam back in '94, I had a super-anal-retentive guy working for me who set his watch every morning to the exact time. When you asked him the time he would give it to you to the second, something like, "It's 1314 and twenty-five seconds." I would look at my watch and say something like, "Are you sure? Because I have 1314 and twenty-three seconds." He would vehemently insist he had the right time because he had synchronized his watch that very morning and his watch was never ever off by more than a tenth of a second. Pulling his chain was so easy. Once I put the password "obvious" on his screensaver and changed the screensaver to say, "The password is obvious." After two hours of guessing he called me. I said, "The password is 'obvious', Scott." And he would reply,"I KNOW, Sergeant Greer, but I just can't figure it out." Dang! My digression time is up.

Now I can understand having the exact time if you're running trains, launching satellites, docking space stations, flying planes, etc. But for the vast majority of us we hardly need the sort of accuracy where we need to be within a second. Of course, I've been wrong before. Yeah, I know, lots.

If you find it necessary to have the exact time at all times, feel free to check out the clocks available for your precision chronological needs.

Does anybody really know what time it is?

What The U.S. Media Doesn't Show Us

The ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is far more complex than the pundits tell us and cannot be easily explained with something as simple as a cartoon.

Missing from the news is the harsh reality of what is going on there. You can see some of boths sides here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Neither side can claim the moral high ground.

Keeping The President Honest

Indiana University law professor Dawn Johnsen is Barack Obama's pick to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. The Office of Legal Counsel is supposed to make sure the President obeys the law.

This is from an article she wrote last April about the memos that came from said Office of Legal Counsel authorizing the president to use torture.

But we must regain our ability to feel outrage whenever our government acts lawlessly and devises bogus constitutional arguments for outlandishly expansive presidential power. Otherwise, our own deep cynicism, about the possibility for a President and presidential lawyers to respect legal constraints, itself will threaten the rule of law--and not just for the remaining nine months of this administration, but for years and administrations to come.

I like her already.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Anybody Catch That Sunset?

I was driving home from a doctor's appointment and had to take this shot, which doesn't do nature justice, from the vehicle. The most unusual shade of blue was presented during the sunset.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It Was A Very Good Year

I have a great fondness for old books, mostly because they're so entertaining. I have some medical books that are shockingly hilarious today but were serious texts at the turn of the last century.

My brother Robert found a Boy Scout Handbook that was printed in the year of my birth. One of the things that struck me were the advertisements. This is the back cover. I wonder what a built-in skid chain is/was.

Along with Raleigh bikes there are ads for things that would appeal to every young man age 11-18: Winchester rifles, Remington rifles, Lionel trains, Kodak Brownie Bulls-Eye camera, Baby Ruth candy bar, RC Cola, Coca-Cola, Bendix brakes, and Bike athletic supporters (It protects you where you need it the most).

Some of the merit badges are for things many of us never have done: rabbit raising, hog and pork production, railroading, and poultry keeping to name a few.

These were the cycling merit badge requirements. Remember, most kids had single speed bikes back then. Compare these with the current requirements.

There's even an ad for Schrader valves which makes me wonder what other types of valves they had to choose from in the 1950's. Did they have Presta back then? Were there Schrader copycats horning in on the tire valve market?

Ah, the good ol' days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And The Hits Just Keep On Coming

With the repairs completed we got the van back today and it looks great. Kathy took Josh to the shop and he drove it home. On the way home Kathy decided to stop by the bank. She was driving by the now closed Old Country Buffet at Northpoint and BAM! The windshield was covered in snow and it sounded like something very large landed on the car. Kathy stopped and found a snow clearing crew was on the roof. One of them had chucked a load onto the car leaving a large dent in the hood. So we're going back to the body shop with the other car.

And the word that describes Kathy: Angry, furious, annoyed, pissed, infuriated, displeased, or riled?

I'd say all of the above.

Hey, I Know That Guy

I'm browsing through today's Spokesman-Review and see this article about the shortage of family doctors and there's my brother-in-law. Chip is pretty cool. He's a hell of a mountain biker yet he's always considerate enough to wait for me so I don't get left behind for the cougars and bears. He's probably a good doctor, too. I can't say for sure because I don't ask him medical stuff. He returns in kind by not asking me computer stuff. (In all fairness, though, I think he needs more help computer-wise than I do medical-wise. Just my biased, professional opinion.)

Chip is one of those rare doctors who did not go for the money. He's done a ton of work for the poor and indigent over the years. And the only way you would know that is if someone else told you.

The STA Experience

I was back to work after my "vacation" yesterday and I rode the bus home. Traffic was moving as fast as an earthworm in heat but our driver was great. Every few minutes he was cracking a joke and keeping the spirits up as our normally 25-minute ride was going to last over an hour. The heat built up and people were removing their hats and loosening their coats to get more comfortable. A woman in front of me turned around and pointed her arm at me. Her sleeve was slightly extended past her hand. "Will you pull my sleeve?" she asked. I looked at her. "It this a trick?" Everybody in earshot busted out laughing. I pulled her sleeve and she got her arm out of her coat without any inconsiderate sounds or odors.

Waning Poetic

Every time that we brush and with every flush
We tend to waste precious H2O.

But there is a way each and every day
To save ourselves water as well as dough.

To add to our plan and do what we can
Saving some water for the rest of us,

I say if it is yellow, just let it mellow.
(Unless you've been eating asparagus.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Question Is...

Check out the top two questions being posed to Barack Obama in the Additional Issues section at Once you register on the site you can add your own questions as well as vote for others.

Will he listen? Will he act? Or will change we can believe in become more difficult than he believed?


Last November, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Getting caught with less than an ounce of pot is now punishable by a civil fine of $100. The state issued guidelines concerning the law and it went into effect on Jan 2.

I remember back when President Nixon established a commission to study marijuana. Their recommendation was to legalize it. He was so mad. Decriminalizing an ounce or less is a great step forward. It's a shame so many states are afraid to take that step. It's more of a shame that at the federal level marijuana is a Schedule I drug meaning:

* The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
* The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
* There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

Sounds a lot like alcohol, doesn't it? Heck, even methamphetamine is a Schedule II drug.

A Linguistic Experience

Kathy and I decided to have a look at the kids' grade online. As with any system, it's only as accurate as the data entered. Stephanie's grade in Art was listed as an "F". Her teacher hadn't entered anything for a while so her grade isn't correct. But that's not what this post is about.

Kathy asked Steph, "Why do you have an 'F' in Art?" Steph, Josh and I exchanged knowing looks and smirked to ourselves. Kathy, not getting what we were getting, saw the smile on Stephanie's face and said, "This isn't funny. Why do you have an 'F' in Art?" The kids and I started laughing when I playfully told Kathy, "Stephanie doesn't have an Art."

The OMG look Kathy got on her face when she realized the phonetically similar interpretation of her remarks was priceless.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Theory Is Put To The Test

Kathy's been asking me to repaint a bathroom for quite some time now. The walls are two colors separated by white molding and she just wanted the top half redone. (Mind you I don't pick the colors and there's a very good reason for that. I'm safe and comfortable with painting everything white.) So after my bike ride I went to Home Depot and picked up the few supplies I needed. Then I took a nap. Afterwards I removed all the pictures, towel racks, switch plate covers, etc. I taped off the door frame, the molding, and the mirror. With the cut in work done I broke out the roller and finished up. Kathy expressed her heart felt thanks for a job well done and after carefully studying the room a couple of times informed me, "I don't like it. It's too dark."

I've mentioned this before. The work never ends. But here's the kicker. Kathy volunteered to do the painting.

I think I'll let her.

Something To Think About

Civilizations can only be understood by those who are civilized.

Alfred North Whitehead

There's talk about increasing the federal tax on fuel. We're not buying as much so tax revenues are down. Since these are hard times all around several states are considering the same move. There's even talk about taxing the mileage you drive. Yikes! Taxes are necessary but also politically volatile so they're a touchy subject. Pointing out government waste is just as easy as noting crumbling roads and bridges.

As much as I would like to, it's not like I will completely stop driving. But I do use public transportation, walk, or ride a bicycle as much as I can. In an ideal world we'd live near our workplace, stores and schools but that is extremely difficult for most people. Sometimes I just don't understand it.

Riding In The Sun

I took the ice bike out this morning and rode around the neighborhood streets between Mead High School and Pattison's Roller Rink. It was 2 degrees Fahrenheit with just a touch of wind chill. It was easier riding than yesterday since the roads were frozen. I had to let some air out of the tires so the studs would get a better grip on the extra glazed parts of the road. I realized that when my tires started sliding out from under me on one spot. My speed was barely that of a fast walker so I thought I could save it. I was hopping on one leg while sliding sideways across the road. The thought didn't occur to me that if the tires weren't gripping my boots probably wouldn't either--until my boot let me in on the secret. I rather inelegantly laid down on the road. Fortunately, no other souls were outside to witness my embarrassment. So I bled some air out of the tires giving them a better grip but increasing the rolling resistance. Well, it's not like I was going anywhere fast anyway.

Stopped by the Rocket Bakery on Hastings and treated myself to an oatmeal raisin cookie because I deserved it.