RantFever 4

I pontificate but not in the pejorative sense of the word.

Archive of Rant Fever 3, 2, 1, & Beta

Posts in December 2004

Laser Attacks on Aircraft

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-31 00:00:00
I'm sure mose of you have heard about the attacks on airplanes using lasers. Apparently some people are tracking planes with lasers, and also shining the lasers into the cockpit in an attempt to blind pilots.

Rodger has what is probably the most [extensive blog post] on the subject, and it even includes a timeline.

Rodger writes:

November 9. Flight crews on four aircraft in the vicinity of Houston International Airport observe a green laser light shining into the air near the Conroe, Texas area, about 25 miles northwest of the airport.

The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer article suggests that such incidents have become quite common in recent years. "The Federal Aviation Administration has found hundreds of cases in which lasers have been pointed at planes since 1997, according to an agency report. In April 2003, the FBI said in a report that lasers are being pointed at planes 'at an alarming rate.'"

Speculation about the incidents has been escalating, especially regarding the types of lasers being used. In the recent Cleveland incident, the pilots reported a green laser beam, suggesting that it could something as simple as a laser pointer like this, or this. (As one ad says, "the intensity of the green beam is unbelievable, so powerful it can project a beam up to 3000 meters or 10,000 + ft. even under lighted conditions.") Other possibilities include commercially-available lasers for surveying and construction.

A more frightening scenario is that terrorists may have obtained a Chinese-produced ZM-87 laser blinder which is specifically designed to blind eyesight. The Japanese terrorist cult Aum Shinrikyo—which launched the infamous Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995—was discovered to have experimented with the use of lasers as weapons.According to The Asian Pacific Post, "Cult members apparently obtained laser design information from Russian institutes they visited and built a laser weapon mounted on a truck. They had planned to use the laser against Tokyo policemen, but the plan failed when the laser malfunctioned during the testing stage."

If it's true that terrorists have gotten their hands on military lasers, it's possible that they haven't used them yet. Many of these incidents might be attributed to practice runs before they actually try to use the big guy. But the only real problem with that idea is that they somehow have to get the military laser into American and into their hands without the U.S. knowing about it.

Rodger points out that the lasers themselves can't actually do much to a pilot or the plane. But he later notes that Michelle Malkin, appearing on Fox News, suggested that the lasers might be used as trainers for ground-based systems. Perhaps so, but there's a lot of issues at hand. Unguided systems like an RPG-7 (which is only effective to roughly 1,000 feet) would actually require you to lead the airplane, the size of the lead being dependent on how far away from the plane you are and how fast the plane is traveling.

Question: why would the terrorists target airliners for mere explosion? What terrorist would be happy following up 9/11 with "simply" destroying an airliner? I'm not trying to minimize the importance of a destroyed airliner, but one airliner wouldn't live up to the "glory" they achieved from the 9/11 attack. That leads me to believe that IF the lasers are terrorist related, and IF the terrorists are planning an attack, then the attack will be big. The only way I can see them making a major-attack, based on that, is to try to bring down multiple planes all in one night.

Mind you, this is all conjecture. The other likely explanation is that a bunch of no-good teenagers got their hands on lasers and are farting around with them by shining them at helicopters and planes. Of course, that doesn't explain the recent, pre-news story upturn in laser "attacks."

If you can learn one thing from this post, learn this: almost anything anybody says at this point will be no more than conjecture.

If anybody else has any ideas, feel free to share, because I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this one. So far, I'm not that worried.

UPDATE: Another [good post] from Rodger. I agree with him that this is improbable behavior for Islamic terrorists. That doesn't rule it out, and it doesn't rule out an attack by another group either.

Ukraine News Round-Up

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-31 00:00:00
As y'all have surely noticed by now, I have been following the news from the Ukraine and the Russian Federation with much interest.

This first article comes from the Baltimore Sun, and chronicles the unrest and [uncertainty in the Ukraine].

Here's the best quote of this article:

Inna Radchenko, 22, one of the museum's tour guides, is a student at the Kiev-Myhola Academy majoring in environmental studies. The day after the disputed Nov. 21 presidential runoff, the academy's dean announced in Independence Square that the university was on strike. Radchenko spent the next 10 days in the square, and she housed other demonstrators in her apartment.

"We Ukrainians are not sure about tomorrow," she said. "Anything can happen here. It's not a stable situation. But it's really interesting."

Interesting? What an understatement.

Meanwhile, Yanukvych [refuses] to [admit defeat] in the presidential elecion, despite two of his appeals being [rejected] by the Supreme Court in Ukraine.

And for those who have speculated whether Yushchenko was poisoned or not... well, dioxin poisoning at a level high enough to do this...

Pictures taken from [President 2004] and [CNN.com], respectively.

Washington Inks Deal with MLB

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-30 00:00:00
Washington Mayor Anthony Williams [inked the deal] for a new stadium. This ensures the team will play in Washington. Until the new stadium can be built, the Nationals will play in the aging RFK Stadium.

Washington city government is claiming two things that I take issue with:

"Baseball is a powerful economic engine," Williams said when signing the bill. "It will bring in about $450 million in resources for city health clinics, recreation centers and police cars -- that's money we don't have now and money we wouldn't have without baseball."

and

The new stadium will be located by the Anacostia water front, a move that city officials hope will help spark economic development in that area, which has struggled for years.

As for the first quote, this is a common promise to citizens who are having to foot the bill on a new stadium. The problem is that local governments always act like a new stadium magically puts money into the city's coffers for no apparent reason. If Washington actually sees any of that money Mayor Williams promised, it will be through taxes paid by citizens and not through some magical cash-generating machine in the basement of the new stadium.

As for the second quote: of course they want to put the new stadium at Anacostia. That's the prevailing logic of city management these days. "New stadium? Put it in the struggling slums and maybe we can bring that area back to life." And then, forty years later when the area around the ballpark is still a slum, everybody scratches their head and wonders why it didn't work. And on the offchance that it does work, it may take over forty years for any significant improvement in the area to occur.

A new stadium is not a magic wand to rejuvenate a neighborhood. A new stadium cannot be the keystone idea in the rejuvenation of a neighborhood. It can be part of a package, but you can't depend on it. To all the city governments in the nation, I say this: if you want to rejuvenate a neighborhood... LOWER TAXES in that area.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Diamondbacks - New York Yankees trade is [nearing completion]. The trade would send [Randy Johnson] to the Yanks. In return, the D-backs will get [Javier Vazquez], minor league prospects, and some cash (between 5 and 15 million dollars).

The Evil Empire strikes back.

Putin Grabs More Power

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-30 00:00:00
Tom at Houston's Clear Thinkers has posted a piece about the [oil company troubles] in Russia. Read it, because it explains the situation pretty well. Essentially what has happened is that a Russian oil company has gone bankrupt, and instead of other Russian oil companies buying it out, the Russian Federation is taking direct control of the bankrupt oil companies assets. Also, Russia is selling about 20% to the Chinese government.

To those of you who read my posts (if any), this won't be a surprise to you. I've [ranted] a [couple] of times about Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and his grabs for power. Gaining control of Russian oil production is one step towards Putin's ultimate goal.

Granted, I'm not sure how far-reaching Putin's goals are. Perhaps he'll be satisfied by merely destroying democracy in Russia itself. Given his behavior towards the former Soviet blocs, however, it is my opinion that he will stop nothing short of the re-unification of the former Soviet states under the banner of the Russian Federation. That does not necessarily mean a return to Communism, but it's not impossible.

Despite Putin's overt attacks on democracy and freedom in the Russian Federation, U.S. President Bush still calls Putin "a good friend." Much like FDR and Truman called Josef Stalin "Uncle Joe."

Fantasy Football Season Ends

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-28 00:00:00
Well, the fantasy football playoffs are over. I lost in the semi-finals to the San Antonio Bulldogs. That knocked me out of the championship game, but I did play another team for the third place spot and. So the Baytown Barracudas finished third in a league of ten (not bad, I think). I scored the second highest total points with 913, right behind the SA Bulldogs (who, in case you're wondering, finished second).

This is the first time I've every seriously participated in a fantasy league, so third place isn't bad. I've learned a few lessons, like sometimes it's a good idea to give your stud quarterback the benefit of the doubt even when the sports pundits predict he'll have a bad game. Having learned these lessons, I'm confident I can bring pride and a championship back home to Baytown (and to Rant Fever), next year.

In Defense of Rumsfeld

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-28 00:00:00
Victor Davis Hanson has on article on NRO that helps exculpate [SecDef Rumsfeld].

I suggest you all read it, because it really puts things in context.

Ukrainian Politics Heat Up

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-28 00:00:00
Viktor Yushchenko has been [declared the winner] in the Ukraine's re-run of an earlier rigged election (that one declaring Yanukovych the winner). Despite his earlier promises, pro-Russian Yanukovych has vowed that the second election was rigged too, and is [fighting the results]. Yuschenko has called on all of his supporters, the "orange revolution," to [blockade the government building] to prevent Yanukovych and his administration from making plans to steal this election too.

Meanwhile, the Council of Europe is [urging Yanukovych to concede].

And to really complicate matters, a member of Yanukovych's administration was found [shot to death]. Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters relates this mess to the [Vincent Foster fiasco] of the Clinton Administration.

So far it seems as if Russian President Vladimir Putin is keeping his promise to accept the outcome of this election. But that doesn't mean he hasn't [tried] [to influence] [Ukrainian] [politics].

I'll be watching with great interest Putin's grab for power in Russia and the former Soviet blocs.

Susan Sontag Dead at 71

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-28 00:00:00
Please refrain from celebratory dances. Captain Ed over at Captain's Quarters gives her a [proper send-off]. Cheers to Captain Ed for remembering Sontag as she was: a traitor, as defined by Ann Coulter.

I don't wish suffering on anyone, but as the Good Book says, it's appointed unto everyone to die. Forgive me if I'm not shaken to tears over certain people fulfilling that appointment. Not too many people expressed regret over Arafat's passing, and Sontag doesn't get special treatment just because she's never held a gun or set off a bomb herself.

My one wish is this: that before they died they got right with God.

I told you so

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-27 00:00:00
I caught a picture of the puppy of the Great Danes that live around me. When he is full grown he will be very scary:

I'll get a picture of one of the full grown ones soon.

Christmas Song by DMB

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-26 00:00:00
Dave Matthews did a Christmas carol a few years back..

“She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She be his wife; take him as her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came, three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love is all around..”

…and it goes on. That was just the beginning. I played this one on repeat today as I was thinking about the faith we put in the Savior. Then I thought about the faith we put in other people. We have faith in that they’ll come through, that they’ll be there, faith in their abilities to learn, to love. Next, I thought about the pressures and expectations we face each day. I thought, “Well, maybe I have these pressures because that person or that group of people knows with this certain surety that I can do what they’ve asked me to do or say or be.” They recognize my potential and how much they need me to show them theirs.

When you look at it in the sense of someone having this incomparable faith in who you are or what they’d like to see happen, it changes your outlook. You want it just as well, and you, in turn, put faith in their words and their love. I think we get so distracted with our own preoccupations and insecurities that we miss the simple things that can erase all that. We doubt that our faith can really take hold so we can let go. Let go of unnecessary baggage and exhaustion that comes from the misunderstandings we’ve had with others who can see what more there is to us that we’ve blinded our own selves from.

And once we realize how great our little tabernacles of clay really are and what special spirits they house, it all then cycles back to faith in the Savior and a stronger, more fervent love for Him and all mankind.

Hello, Goodbye

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-26 00:00:00
My "almost boyfriend" called on Christmas Day. After a slight bad connection on my cell, I was finally able to hear his "Hello".

There's something about a voice. His, in particular, incites a couple twinges of nervousness initially when first heard, but one that is familiar enough to pull in a sense of "home".

We talked about Baytown's white christmas, how many waffles he's gonna make for me and countless other subjects we danced around for a good 34 minutes.

It will be nice when he's not an "almost" anymore.

;o)

Cold cold cold

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-24 00:00:00
Old man winter decided to rest his head on the greater Dallas area for a while.

Cold: I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues, and winter.

AFL: The Night Before Christmas

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-23 00:00:00
‘Twas the night before Christmas, in a house made of logs
Evil Glenn was up stirring some liquefied dogs;
No stockings were hung for the red-suited man,
It was all just a part of a diabolical plan;

All over the world, people snug in their beds,
While visions of blogging careened in their heads;
And Harvey of [Bad Example], and FrankJ of [SarahK],
Had readied themselves for the holiday fray,

When out of Glenn’s house there arose such a din
That, heavily armed, Harvey and FrankJ ran in.
When the got to the porch, they still heard the roar
So Harvey posed like a pimp while Frank kicked in the door.

Into the dark cabin with the door opened wide,
Went our brave heroes, their fear cast aside,
When what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a little old man, shouting in Evil Glenn’s ear;

"The Alliance of Free Bloggers is simply the best!
In the words of their motto, Instapundo Delanda Est!"
With wise words that came so lively and quick,
They knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.

Santa spoke no more words, but went straight to his work,
Giving presents to our heroes, then he turned with a jerk,
Giving coal to Evil Glenn, but ere took he to flight,
Shouted, "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

So, boys and girls and all you believers,
The lesson that comes from this post on [Rant Fever],
Is to fight evil, wherever it lies
Just like Santa does, no matter what Evil Glenn tries.

Back to the drawing board for Palestine

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-23 00:00:00
There is a new leader of the Fatah movement. That's right, Arafat has been replaced by a guy named Farouk Khaddoumi. Now, the transference of power from Arafat was an opportunity for change and new policy for the Palestinians. Instead of moving forward, however, Farouk Khaddoumi has decided to say the very thing that will impede progress for his people. I quote from [the World Tribune]:

Fatah chief Farouk Khaddoumi said the Palestinian strategy toward Israel was two-fold. In the first stage, he said, the Palestinians would accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In the second stage, the Palestinians would seek to eliminate the Jewish state.

...

"At this stage there will be two states," Khaddoumi told Iran's Al Aram television. "Many years from now, there will be only one."

Well, I guess it is back to suicide bombers and a lost people. Eventually, hopefully, the Palestinians will get a leader with enough pragmatic understanding that something might actually get down towards solving their very complicated problem.

Why the Ukraine is Important

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-22 00:00:00
Ukrainian politics has gotten out of hand of late, and has received much press. Why is it so important, though? Well, the entire problem stems from the Cold War-era political arena. The Ukraine is a former Soviet-bloc, and it shows. The southern half of the Ukraine, which borders the Black Seas, speaks mostly Russian, while the northern half speaks mostly Ukrainian. This is the main source of contention within the Ukraine itself, as the southern half supports current prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoys the endorsement of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, while the northern half supports opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko, who enjoys the support of most Western nations, including the United States.

In case you missed something over the past few weeks, here's a review of what's happened. The first election was very close and Russian-backed Yanukovych won. Western-backed Yushchenko's campaign disputed the results, and mass protests were staged by Yushchenko's supporters. A new election was set up, and it will occur soon. Recently it has come to light that opposition leader Yuschenko was poisoned with a world-record level of Dioxin, which has severely scarred his face.

Now that you're caught up on what happened, let's go over why this election is so important to the West. Really, there's one main reason: because it's so important to Russia, and specifically important to Vladimir Putin.

Putin has recently been making power plays in the Russian Federation. For instance, he has recently kicked all the elected governors out of office and replaced them with his own appointees. He's also perpetrating government buyouts of utilities, which places all the resources at the direct control of the federal government.

He's also sponsored a law that will allow the FSB, which is the successor to the dreaded KGB, to literally suspend the Constitution at will if they deem a terrorist threat is imminent. According to Garry Kasparov, in an editorial in the December 21 edition of the Wall Street Journal:

To criticism [Russia replies] that America is "doing the same." Do no think for a moment that this is a fair comparison; equating the recent actions of the Russian parliament with the Patriot Act is like saying that chopping off your hand is similar to trimming your nails.

Kasparov continues by criticizing the Western leaders for saying nothing about Putin's moves to centralize power. He specifically takes umbrage at President Bush still calling Putin a "good friend." That brings to mind how FDR used to call Joseph Stalin "Uncle Joe."

As it is, the West is opposing pro-Russia Yanukovych in an effort to deny Putin the ability to gobble up the Ukraine and make it a bloc nation again. That's the only reason I can come up with, unless there's some economic reason that nobody's caught on to. Even if Western leaders are only interested in money and not in opposing Russia when it comes to the Ukraine, we should be interested in it for opposing Russia.

What we are seeing here is historic for our generation. We are actually seeing one man guide one nation into a fascist dictatorship. Putin has been siezing power and control and sooner or later it will result in a new Russia, controlled by one man and bent on opposing the West. This whole issue with Ukrainan politics is about Putin's grab for power in the East. Our first goal should be denying Putin's land grabs, and keeping other nations from falling under his control. If Yushchenko wins this election, we can avoid that. If Yanukovych wins, I don't think it will take too long for the Russian Federation to sieze control of the Ukraine.

Iran Wants Next

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-22 00:00:00
Apparently, Iran wants to have their butts handed to them in a ZipLoc just like Iraq. Emperor Darth Misha I has a post concerning [Iran's idiocy]. Enjoy.

National ID Cards in UK

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-22 00:00:00

Hat tip to [Kim du Toit]

According to the Telegraph, the House of Commons just passed a bill [approving national ID cards]. Kim du Toit has likened it to [Jews being tattooed] in Nazi Germany, and Perry de Havilland of samizdata.net has decided to [move to the United States] by 2007.

How freaking stupid do you have to be to think that this is NOT a bad idea? What levels of idiocy they've achieved over there in UK. Somebody call Guiness's Book of World Records, because I think they've finally broken the record for shoving one's head up one's butt the farthest.

Having gotten that out of my system, I want to point in all seriousness that we in the U.S. must take great care not to let our civil liberties be trampled. They already are, to some extent, but we have to work hard to make sure this does not happen to us. Just like Mr. du Toit, this a line in the sand for me.

Washington Changes Mind

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-22 00:00:00
The stadium financing fiasco in Washington was [cleared up] when the city council decided reverse it's decision. Fifty percent of the funds for the stadium no longer need to be private.

I'm disappointed. I was kind of hoping the team would be sent to Monterrey just so the Astros could play the Monterrey Chupacabras every years. And since almost every team's name is shortened by fans, we could call them the Chupas. Get it? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

What to get the troops for Christmas

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-22 00:00:00
To: the US forces in Iraq

From: Rant Fever, with love and appreciation. (This is what we would get each and every one of you, if we could.)

  • cookies
  • harmonica
  • a USO show featuring Jennifer Lopez (not singing) and Angelina Jolie (also not singing)
  • beef jerky
  • the trial and convictment of one Saddam Hussein
  • sun glasses

Merry Christmas from Texas!

Beltran Decision by January 8

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-22 00:00:00
Let the [nail-biting begin]. Star outfielder Carlos Beltran and his agent, Scott Boras, met with Owner Drayton McLane and General Manager Tim Purpura of the Astros today (he met with Yankees management yesterday). The Astros have only until January 8 to sign Beltran, so his decision will likely come on or before that date even if he does not sign with the Astros.

In 17 days, there will either be thousands of Astros fans shouting with joy or crying in disappointment. If we lose Beltran and Clemens, you can expect me to pull a Job, rending my clothes and lying in ashes.

Oh, the waiting... the waiting.

Shades of 1984

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-21 00:00:00
The Houston Chronicle ran an article today about a smoking ban in Italy. The new law bans all smoking in indoor spaces unless there is a separate smoking area with continuous floor to ceiling walls and a ventilation system. It also requires that restaurant owners and operators report to the police when one of their customers violates the law.

The requirement of restaurateurs to inform on their diners is something straight out of Orwell's 1984. Just the idea that a government would require citizens to take up the job of spying on each other and policing each other's behavior makes me shudder.

Despite the obvious Ingsoc characteristics, a law like this is just plain wrong. First of all, the Italian government is regulating behavior on property that does not belong to the government. Secondly the government is forcing restaurateurs to make changes to their establishments that could cost thousands of dollars just to avoid losing business. Also, the government is almost pushing smokers into a position of being an undesirable section of the population.

I would generally say "thank goodness that's in Italy and not here," but guess what? New York has laws very similar to these already.

I think the root problem is that individual citizens no longer know how to solve their own problems without the government stepping in. This is due largely to the fact that the government has made itself pretty much the only legal way to solve problems through extensive criminal and civil laws. So, many times, even if someone did try to solve a problem on their own they'd get in trouble with some agency or other. This smoker/non-smoker problem in restaurants and places of business could easily be solved without the government, but since people either aren't allowed -- or don't know how -- to solve their own problems, we now have more oppressive laws.

MLB Offseason Trades

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-21 00:00:00
According to ESPN.com, the three way deal between [Los Angeles, Arizona, and the New York Yankees] that would have resulted in [Randy "Big Unit" Johnson] being sent from the Diamondbacks to the Yankees fell through, thanks to the Dodgers general manager. This leaves Randy Johnson stranded in Arizona, a place he doesn't want to be, and understandably so. Since the Diamondbacks beat the evil Yankees in the 2001 World Series, the Diamondbacks have appeared in one postseason, in which they were swept out by St. Louis. Their last two seasons have ended disappointingly.

The Diamondbacks are allegedly looking for a team to replace the Dodgers in their three way deal. Since the Big Unit is one of my all-time favorite pitchers, I hope for two things: 1) that he gets out of Arizona, and 2) that he doesn't go to the Yankees.

[Pedro Martinez], a major component to the Champion Boston Red Sox team last year, has decided to sign a contract with the New York Mets. Apparently the Mets are welcoming Martinez's [fiery personality] as a way to come out from under the shadow of the Yankees's wings. The Mets have been making some interesting moves and offers. Maybe they can put up a run to the World Series.

Meanwhile, the Astros have made [no moves] in the Winter Meetings, they've decided to not offer [Wade Miller] a [new contract], though that doesn't mean he won't be back in an Astros uniform next year.

The Astros have offered [Carlos Beltran] a contract of seventy million dollars over five years. Unless Carlos Beltran really likes playing for the Astros, look for him to suit up in Yankees pinstripes next year, as they're likely to offer him much, much more.

[Craig Biggio] has asked to be move from the outfield to play 2nd Base, since the Astros [passed on resigning] [Jeff Kent], who has signed with the Dodgers.

[Roger Clemens] agreed to [arbitration] with the Astros, which prevents him from returning next season with another team. It's either Astros or retire for Clemens, who has said he'll make a decision around the first of the year.

Bottom line, I am not worried about the Astros contending for a playoff spot next season. They've contended for a playoff spot or won a playoff spot every season since 1997 save for two. In 2000, they finished 23 games out of a playoff spot. In 2002, they finished 13 games out. In 2003, the only other year they didn't make the playoffs, they contended for a spot till the end of the season, finishing 1 game out of the playoffs. This is because Drayton McLane, owner of the Astros will spend as much money as it takes to contend for a playoff spot. But he doesn't spend enough on payroll to actually win in the playoffs. The only reason McLane was able to sign Clemens and [Andy Pettite] was because they offered to play for significantly less than they were worth.

Now, if Clemens comes back, and we can get Wade Miller back, our starting rotation will be stacked deep. We'll have Clemens, Pettite, [Roy Oswalt], Wade Miller, and [Brandon Backe]. Absolutely scary. But where does that leave our bullpen? So far, we have pretty much the same bullpen that blew our World Series hopes this year.

And with the departure of Jeff Kent to the Dodgers, and the probable departure of Carlos Beltran, the offense will rest solely on the shoulders of [Lance Berkman] who will miss the first month of play due to a torn ACL, an aging Craig Biggio, and an aging [Jeff Bagwell] with a bad shoulder from years of playing longball. Murderer's Row this is not.

Collectivist Brainwashing

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-20 00:00:00
Over at Kim du Toit's place, there's a [post about national identificaion cards] and a link to a blog titled "Fish Or Man." Fish Or Man has post about being harassed and arrested for [carrying a gun] legally. Within that horrifyng tale, there is a link to another Fish Or Man post, which discusses [police harassment] in another jurisdiction. In that post a quick comment is made (it's a quote from the blogger's wife):

"...people have been brainwashed against seeing a gun and open carrying.

Now, out of the three posts I linked to, there's plenty of issues and topics that I could discuss. But I won't. I'll stick to the brainwashing statement. Because this is something I have thought about before.

I believe that this nation has already mentally disarmed itself. No matter what state you go to, even our Glorious Texas, many citizens would be alarmed to see another citizen openly carrying a firearm. I can't say all, because there are people like Kim du Toit, and Jason of Fish or Man, and even myself, who would actually delight in seeing another armed person. But there are quite a few people who are brainwashed against guns. How has this happened?

Well, it all started when FDR was elected. Thank the Lord for his warring abilities, but the man was a collectivist and statist. That he was is evident in all of his New Deal programs. He represented a major shift in American thought. No longer was the federal government merely an extension of the people aimed at taking care of matters of state, common defense and trade issues. FDR would have the government be above the people, superior in wisdom and always morally justifiable in it's actions (no matter what those actions were). Simply put, he changed the relationship of goverment so that government officials and employees ceased to be public servants but public masters. In legal terms this is summed up in the doctrine of parens patriae. In english that simply means that the state is the parent of citizens. I can't think of a worse view of government-citizen relations as parens patriae.

Now all of this was achieved without complaints because people thought FDR pulled them out of the Depression (which is untrue), and since FDR had done such great things with World War II, I reckon people just trusted him. Even so, all of this collectivist nonsense may not have lasted long if it weren't for the media. By which I do not mean just the big news networks, but books, and movies, and television programs. The media industry has historically been led by the extreme Left, so once FDR jumped on their pink collectivist bandwagon, they began pumping out the propoganda. From way back in the late 30s till now, the Leftist media have pursued their agenda and inculcated millions of people with Leftist hogwash, and often so subtly that most people don't notice.

But the media could not have done it alone, and they didn't. The education establishment also pursued the same agenda. Year after year American children were forcefed collectivist ideology, reaching an obvious and ridiculous climax today. The federal government as parent, the media, and the education establishment formed a hegemony of thought that overwhelmed the citizenry.

All along though, there was a movement to counter the collectivism of the Left. The conservative movement, led by folks like William F. Buckley and Ronald W. Reagan. We've reached the point where things are getting dirty. More and more people are coming around and seeing that consveratism is the answer and that the collectivism of the Left leads nowhere. We've won major victories in the House, Senate, Governerships, and the Presidency. The Left is on the decline. People are waiting for us to make our move and accomplish something. And yet, despite our rout of the Democrats, we act like we lost by trying to accommodate them.

We can overcome the brainwashing, but it takes effort from everybody. We as individuals need to do our part and the President needs to do his part. If he's got the courage I think he has, he'll step up to the plate. But as for the right to carry, we can't keep going to the polls to vote for conservatives who'll accept status quo on the issue simply because the collectivists are trying to enact more restrictive laws. We have to demand action from our elected officials to stop this nonsense that citizens like Jason from Fish Or Man are subjected to.

Washington Nationals Deadline

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-20 00:00:00
Major League Baseball will [not extend] the December 31st deadline they gave Washington to come through on the promised deal.

"We have no intention of extending the deadline," said Bob DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer. "We have a few options, but we're not even going to look at that until the deadline comes and goes."

MLB seemed bound to return to the nation's capital for the first time since the expansion Senators left for Texas after the 1971 season until a dissident faction in the D.C. Council altered the agreement MLB and Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams had signed on Sept. 29. [...]

The same article discusses other possible destinations for the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals. The possible alternate homes are Norfolk, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, and Monterrey, Mexico (for at least one season so they can work on a permanent bid).

Those sources told the Post that Norfolk is attractive because it is in the same time zone as Washington and more easily accessible to other National League East cities.

Sure it is. But the problem with Norfolk is that it is still so close to Baltimore, home of the Orioles. The Orioles were not happy about the team moving to Washington because it might cause them to lose some of their market. Sure, Norfolk is farther away from Baltimore than D.C., but it's still pretty close.

Portland and Monterrey might make better places. I'm wary of sending the team across borders again because it hardly ever works out. But baseball is very popular in Central and South America.

Couric to Replace Rather?

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-20 00:00:00
According to FoxNews.com, CBS might want [Katie Couric to replace Dan Rather] as head anchor.

Great. Let's replace one flaming liberal who can barely disguise his bias and hatred for the right with another flaming liberal who can barely disguise her bias and hatred for the right. And at least Rather was amusing. He had all those Texas witticisms. If Couric is the best CBS can do in replacing Rather, I want Rather back.

Jesus is the reason for the season

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-20 00:00:00
Personally, I have not heard many liberals who don't like the idea of Christmas in schools or in public buildings, but I have heard much talk about such liberals on talk radio and in the news. I don't understand what the big deal is, really. Somehow, the notion of "separation of church and state" has gotten into the collective conscious of liberal America. First of all, the US constitution never mentions the separation of church and state. All it says is that congress shall not establish a religion. Somehow, we have perverted the decidedly christian, founding father's original meaning.

In the words of the conservative talk radio host, [Mark Davis]:

There is a difference between acknowledgment and advocacy. Brief immersion in the customs and culture of a religious holiday doesn't rise to the level of constitutionally proscribed proselytizing.

That being said, I think it is not only acceptable but a good idea to remember that the holiday is a religious one to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It is okay to say that out loud. It is okay to know it. Accepting the origin of the holiday does not mean that you are accepting any religion or that the government is imposing a religion on you. Silly liberals.

The Anti-Boycott List

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-19 00:00:00
Some [weirdo liberal Canadian] says we shouldn't buy from these companies. We should all make it a point to buy one product from these companies in the next year.

At the end of this list there appears a comment, which reads: "I'm sure it's just a coincidence that the top 20 donors to George Bush's campaign are almost all on the 'avoid' list above, for either social or environmental irresponsibility." Blah blah blah.

Hippies stink.

Yahoo & my Home-slice

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-16 00:00:00

Meet Andrew "Yahoo" Maddox. He's a lil' bit of an actor. And all actors need "groupies". And all "groupies" need sporty t-shirts showing their support for the lil' bit of an actors. Made them in my sweatshop with the help of my home-piece Laura.

Gets My Goat

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-16 00:00:00
Ya know, I hate it when the school messes me up. I need a class that the school is not offering. They made the class a requirement and now they aren't even offering it! I'm sorry, but that is just retarded. Plain and simple.

Washington Nationals No More?

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-16 00:00:00
Since the Montreal Expos went bankrupt about two years ago and the other 30 team owners took temporary control, Major League Baseball (MLB) management has been searching endlessly for two things: one, a buyer, and two, a new home for the Expos.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig thought he had a solution for the second. Earlier this year Selig worked out a deal with Washington, D.C. city council to move the Expos to their city and rename them the "Nationals." The plan was to have them play in RFK Stadium until a new stadium could be built.

Today, the Washington, D.C., city council [threw the commissioner a curve ball]. In what has to be the only sensible move that Washington, D.C., government has made ever, the city council amended legislation to require at least half of the cost of all new stadiums to be built with private funds.

Historically, the citizens of a sports town foot the bill through bonds, property taxes, and especially hotel and restaraunt taxes. Jim Caple of ESPN.com describes [why this deal is bad] specifically in the case of the Washington Nationals and does a good job of it, so I won't try and do it here. What I will do is commend the Washington, D.C., government for doing what every other city should have done in the past.

Houston is a prime example of cities getting screwed on stadium deals. We've had three new stadiums open since 2000 (Reliant Stadium, Minute Maid Park, and the Toyota Center). Economic growth has been slow around the oldest stadium, Minute Maid. Just drive down there and see for yourself. Toyota Center is still pretty new, but so far the only thing happening is a renovation of next door George R. Brown Convention Center. Houstonians are paying for that, too. As for Reliant Stadium, well, it did bring us a Super Bowl. Big deal, though. Where's the benefits now? A month of great business doesn't have very long-lasting effects. The only tangible thing Reliant Stadium has given us is a seven-mile long piece of crap light rail system on one of the least used roads in Downtown. And now METRO wants to replace it with a subway system. I reckon they never heard that Houston is at sea level.

Nuptials and Love Lost

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-15 00:00:00
An ex-girlfriend of mine is getting married this month. I'll be honest, it is weird for me to think about. I am not going to the wedding shower that I was invited to. I won't attend the wedding either. I really wish her the best of everything, but I think it would easier on everyone if I weren't there.

The really weird thing is that this is the third ex-girlfriend that has gotten married right after breaking up with me.

First was Jenny. I have fond memories of Jenny. She up and married Chris after we broke up. Then there was Sarah. There aren't as many fond memories, but she up and married Jason right after we broke up. And now my friend, I won't write her name, is about to get married, and we broke up only a few months ago.

What does this all mean? Is this a curse or a blessing? Perhaps I am a jinx. That's right, date me and get married. Step right up.

Big Brother Is Watching

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-14 00:00:00
Well, it's come to this. The stupidity of the Houston voters over the past eight years has put those of us in the greater Houston area in many predicaments. But this time, they've gone too far. After voting the inept moron Lee Brown to three terms (Oh Lord, what were they thinking?), they voted for Bill White, who Lee Brown endorsed (why oh why?). At first, people thought White wasn't doing so bad. He made some good decisions, I'll admit. But now... Hizzoner has stepped to the other side and has become a Leftist Fascist.

As I write, the City of Houston is discussing the [installation of cameras] to monitor stoplights downtown. People who run red lights will have their photo taken and receive a ticket in the mail. Welcome to Nazi Houston. Please don't agitate the Traffic Gestapo or we'll all suffer.

The plan is to treat red light violations like mere parking violations. The fine will be reduced from $215 to $75, and the violation will not be reported on the driving record. In other words, running a red light will no longer be a moving violation. How retarded is that? Insurance companies are against this plan, saying that since they can't accurately tell who's been running red lights, insurance premiums will rise across the board and since drivers won't be denied licenses after too many moving violations, safety will decrease.

Conservatives in the area are livid, and rightly so. Claiming issues of privacy and the like, even the ACLU has joined in the anti-camera movement. It's a cold day in you-know-where when the ACLU and conservatives can actually agree on something.

But check this out:

"Even though the mayor's office had still not released the proposed ordinance, the Council's Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee on Monday unanimously agreed to recommend its passage on Wednesday."

This is not the way government is supposed to operate. I tell you what, it's like government has become one big machine that strips away rights and freedoms. Hizzoner pulls a lever and all the gears just start turning to screw us all.

"City Attorney Arturo Michel said the proposed civil citation would not prevent the issuance of a criminal citation for the same incident because they are technically different violations. But he said the city only intends to issue one or the other.

In 2003, the state Legislature said cities could not use cameras to issue criminal citations for red light violations."

How does somebody get the job of City Attorney? By displaying the most idiocy out of all those interviewed? Perhaps Mr. Michel means to say that IF a person runs a red light and IF there is a camera that takes that person's picture and sends him a ticket and IF a police officer sees the person run the red light at the same time, THEN the police officer may issue a criminal citation. I hope he does not think he can issue a criminal citation through the camera system since, as we've seen, the State Legislature has barred that practice. If the City Attorney can't get the state's laws right, then we need a new attorney.

And as a student of criminal justice and law, I disagree with this idea that it will be okay to issue whichever citation you wish. A person has the right to know exactly what punishment he or she will pay when they commit a misdemeanor. Ambiguity in definitions of offenses and ambiguity in punishments assigned to those offenses will further lead to the infringement of people's rights. I can see it now: hundreds of people across the greater Houston area subjected to Kafka-esque torture straight out of The Trial.

But Hizzoner Mayor White stands by his proposal despite a lack of support. It's reported that at a press conference when someone complained about an individual's right to privacy, Hizzoner retorted "Yeah, but you don't have a right to run a red light." Despite all the leftists and statist freaks giggling at Hizzoner's comment, that has to be one of the least wittiest retorts in all of history, ranking right along with "Oh, YEAH?!", "Your MOMMA!", and "I know you are but what am I!" Besides it's lack of wit, it's also evident of the syndrome attacking too many a contemporary American: securitism. That's a word I just invented. Unless somebody else has already said it, but that would be an odd coincidence. Anyway, I define securitism as the idea that any action taken by the government is justifiable if the action tends to or seems to increase security, no matter how miniscule or non-existent the increase in security actually is.

Working under that definition, many people have good cause to be scared of our future. In a criminal justice class at Sam Houston, a professor began discussing things like national identification cards and GPS sensors in cars to track people and the like. Out of a class of thirty five people, the professor, the girl who sat in front of me, and myself were the only people who had fears and objections about governmental intrusion into our daily lives. The others didn't care because, they said, "they didn't have anything to hide." I don't have anything to hide either. That doesn't mean I want some bureaucrat monitoring my every move. Apparently these others have had no history lessons. Almost all major dictatorships have started by a growing distrust of the populace within the government, evidenced by small intrusions into the privacy and anonymity of the individual citizen.

Folks, security means nothing if you're not free. I leave you with this thought: Ben Franklin once said, and I'm paraphrasing, that "he who would give up freedom for security deserves neither."

Meyer or Mayer or Mayar or Something

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-13 00:00:00
I think his name is John Meyer. I'm not too sure. All I know is that he is the funniest man alive.

Oh, and his music is okay. More or less.

The Washington Diet

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-13 00:00:00
I think it's time to put the federal government on a diet. Thanks to the overeating habits of former presidents F. D. Roosevelt, H. Truman, and L. B. Johnson, the government has gotten a bit heavy. It's not healthy, really, as evidenced by how much money the United States spends each year.

So, here's a simple diet for the federal government: simply disband the following departments and/or agencies and then the United States can enjoy the benefits of greater freedom, more economic power, and a healthier budget.

Disband the Following:

  • Department of Agriculture and all subsidiary agencies.
  • Department of Commerce and all subsidiary agencies.
  • Department of Education and all subsidiary agencies.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • Department of Labor and all subsidiary agencies.
  • Department of Transportation and all subsidiary agencies.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (an agency within the Department of Justice).
  • Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • Corporation for National Service.
  • Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Farm Credit Administration.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
  • Federal Labor Relations Authority.
  • Federal Trade Commission.
  • National Credit Union Administration.
  • National Endowment for the Arts.
  • National Indian Gaming Commission.
  • National Mediation Board.
  • National Science Foundation.
  • National Transportation Safety Board.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.
  • Office of Special Counsel.
  • Small Business Administration.
  • Social Security Administration.
  • United States Agency for International Development.
  • United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
  • United States Office of Government Ethics (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That's a joke, right?).

I think once we get the weight off, we can keep it off.

Paying It Forward

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-12 00:00:00
The Savior stooped down to kneel beside me one day and whispered real close to my ear so no one else would know what He was up to.

He said, "Rebecca, here's something I need you to take special care in delivering", and placed it in my unsteady hands. I cupped it close to my chest knowing it's exact value. I looked down at his worn hands and questioned inside,"Why me? His hands are much more capable. They've done so much already."

"Now, you can't hand it over too soon or wait too long",He went on, "it's got to be right on time. It's going to test your faith when you're lonely. You may feel like I took it back, but it's still with you. And no sooner when you feel discouraged, will the worth of such a gift increase so that you know why I asked you to send it on.".

I tried to hand it back a few times and fussed a little about my assignment when I thought He wasn't listening. He said there's specific people that have to know how He feels about them. He sent me on my way.

I've stubbed my toe a few times since then racing to hurry the venture along. I've tried to toss it others I thought were the ones He intended it for. But I've learned a little more each day to be a little more patient about the where?, when?, who?, and how?.

It's hard sometimes and frustrating a bit, but never more than in this instant have I felt such surity that I'm not the only that's been sent on such a quest.

Once upon a time He knelt down beside someone (quite like myself) and whispered the same thing. He knew who it would take to remind me of what I had, too soon, forgotten He had left in my unsteady hands to pass on...His love.

A Joke a Minute

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-10 00:00:00
The other morning, my dad chips his molar while eating breakfast.

That night, he calls out to my brother and me, "Boys," says he, "I think that brushing my teeth is a lot faster since I chipped that tooth."

Post Thanksgiving Thankfulness

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-10 00:00:00
The lesson in my scripture study class (that's institute, for all you LDS out there) was on being thankful. The teacher, Brother B., asked for examples of things that cause us to be thankful. I told him that the Thanksgiving holiday helped me to be more thankful. He tied the thoughts into the story of the ten lepers ... you know, how only one of the ten returned and thanked Christ for healing him.

Brother B. also told us that ingratitude is one of the most common sins. I suppose that I'd never considered it to be so ubiquitous, or rather, I never really considered it. Then Brother B. told us that we should be grateful in all situations in our lives.

(It was at this point that I was suddenly struck by a keen sense of guilt.)

How do I find something to be grateful about the eight Great Danes that surround my dwelling? I am positive that those beasts are possessed by some bad spirit that likes to eat small, brown men.

Parade Mania

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-10 00:00:00
I do not like this cartoon. I think that SpongeBob is a bafoon.

I mean, really. What the heck is this?

Boycott Liberal Colleges

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-09 00:00:00
Kim du Toit makes a good point abotu conservative students going to [liberal colleges].

It's a simple matter of economics, folks. If the liberal colleges start losing too many students, things will change.

Where do we draw the line, though? University of Texas is obviously more liberal than Texas A&M, but is UT liberal enough to boycott? Certainly UT is no Berkely.

I can't forgo UT Law School for A&M because A&M has no law school. Texas Tech does, though. Decisions, decisions.

Thursday's not lookin' so good.

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-09 00:00:00
So this guy comes in for an interview just now and takes a seat next to a small table by the wall. In about a few seconds time of him sitting there, one of our plaques falls from the easel it's perched on, and on to the floor. The gentleman then says, "It wasn't me!", smiles and leaves the plaque, of a child's baseball team no less, on the cold, hard floor.

I hesitated in my chair as I turned to see my boss walk up and exclaim to the man, "Is that you making all that racket?" in a joshing tone. AGAIN, the man says, "It wasn't me!!", laughs again, gets up from his chair, looks at the plaque and walks away!

I hope my face didn't show how badly I wanted to sock him in the nose.

Consideration 101, brotha. Get a clue!

Opens December 10th

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-09 00:00:00

You can catch him (if you can) in the sequel to Ocean's 11
...Ocean's 12!

I'm so glad I know the secret to posting pictures now.

I Told You So

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-09 00:00:00
As if to prove my point in the post Corvair: A Tale of Free Markets, the Houston Chronicle published an article titled "New vehicle safety rules issued."

I tell you what, I just about hit the roof when I saw the title. Reading on, the article said things like...

All passenger vehicles sold in the United States must have shoulder and lap belts in the rear center seat by the 2008 model year under a federal rule issued Wednesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new rule requires 80 percent of vehicles to have shoulder belts by the 2007 model year and 100 percent the next year.

The article also points out that the rule will cost the automitive industry up to 240 million dollars.

This law is also supposed to save 23 lives and prevent 495 injuries per year. Does anybody realize how insignificant that number is? Any death is tragic, I admit. However, the same 23 people will just go out and get hit by a bus or something.

Really, there are two issues here. One, this is not the responsibility of the federal government as outlined by the Constitution. It is just another abuse of the Interstate Commerce Clause (ICC). That clause was meant to allow Congress to set up rules governing trade between states that were supposed to be semi-autonomous. Instead, those power-hungry sleazeballs in D.C. have abused the ICC to regulate the eyeballs off of people and even make federal rape laws.

The second issue is that the rule is made by the NHTSA. This is what's called administrative law. Congress sets up these bureacracies, appoints people to manage them, and then tells them to create a bunch of rules that effect our everyday lives. This is wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. That isn't what Congress was intended for. This isn't the system we're promised in the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, and isn't the system I agree to when I vote. I vote to send a man (or woman) to make their vote. I don't send him or her to go delegate all of the power I granted him to somebody else.

I'm getting tired of government excess. It's making my blood boil.

Texas Wisdom Rings True

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-09 00:00:00
A Texan, in years gone by, when asked why the Texas legislature only met every other year responded "Neither man nor beast is safe when the legislature is in session."

How quickly we have forgotten what excesses of government power can do. The Wall Street Journal ran an article today concerning a water rights fight in West Texas.

To make a long story short, several ranchers near El Paso sit above a massive aquifer. A legal battle developed over water rights when one rancher began negotiating to sell water to the county to be piped into El Paso. The way Texas law has generally worked, it's first come, first serve, so the county water district need only negotiate with one rancher and then they can suck the aquifer dry without having to negotiate with other ranchers.

Amidst all the legal battles some property changed hands to a corporation, some people got mad, and the corporation trying to develop land, pushed for the county government to legislate some changes. So the water district decided to change it's rules. They decided to "allow only landowners who conducted irrigated farming in the previous 10 years to take more than a token amount of water from under the ground in the district."

But it didn't end there. See, some of the land owned by the ranchers fell outside of the county's water district. This gave those ranchers virtually unrestricted access to the water anyway, following the first come, first serve rule, because the district's rules don't apply there.

Well! The government couldn't have that, could they? So the state legislature, backed by the farming corporation, just decided to expand their water district to include all of the ranchers' land, thereby tying their hands in respect to what they can do with their water rights since they are ranchers, not farmers. One State Senator, Frank Madla, admitted that he had no idea what the consequences would be when he voted for the bill.

Jeers for the state legislature, for a) voting on things they know nothing about and b) letting themselves be swayed by special interest groups. Jeers all around for just generally screwing with individuals and their property.

11:48am

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-08 00:00:00
Sandwiches taste better when they're cut in to triangles.

8 Minute Dating

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-07 00:00:00
Yeah, you heard me right! 8 Minute Dating is the latest craze to meet new people and find possible romance!

A friend of mine in the Houston area tried it. It wasn't magical the first go around, but I think she should give it another shot.

Check [it] out!!

Read [here] to find out how Baltimore kicks it!

I hear it's not a meat market. It's a well oiled machine with the quickness! You don't like 'em, you only have to suffer through 8 minutes. You like 'em you get their contact info at the end of the night and hook up on your own!

"Time is such a commodity these days, everyone is so busy," comments one of the bystanders, just for dinner but watching with interest. "This is the perfect way to fit meeting new people into your schedule."

Fit people in to your schedule?? That, I find is sad, but the 8 minute dating idea has potential.

I Heart Ann Coulter

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-07 00:00:00
Ann Coulter rocks.

She's smart and funny:

"When Madeline Albright was appointed the FIRST WOMAN secretary of state, the media was euphoric. (And if memory serves, Monica Lewinsky was the first Jewish female to occupy her various positions on the president's, uh, staff.)"

I, with my dirty mind, find that to be a knee-slapper.

But more than that, she brings up a good point about the media's hypocrisy over diversity issues.

Read and enjoy [Ann's column].

Meanwhile, I'd like to post Ms. Coulter's best all-time quote. Concerning the Middle East, she said:

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

This actually got her fired from National Review. When you get sacked from one of the most conservative magazines around for being too far to the right... you automatically become my hero. Well, in this case, heroine. I love you Ann!

My Friends

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-06 00:00:00
I have made some really great friends in the McKinney/Plano area.

Two of their names are Chris and Maggie.

They make me feel loved and appreciated.

Corvair: A Tale of Free Markets

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-06 00:00:00
So, here begins another plea for free markets. Today's plea will deal with the automotive industry.

To begin with, let me point out that I do not believe that the U.S. has a real free market economy. While it is more free than others, it is not entirely free. It's never more evident than when you look at the automotive industry. Just listen to my story.

Once upon a time, certain people called "Americans" were free. They were free to make their own decisions. They were free to eat anything they wanted, say anything they wanted, go anywhere they wanted, carry any weapon they wanted, and buy any car they wanted. And these "Americans" were happy. They had cars like Corvettes and Thunderbirds, and Impalas and Fairlanes, Barracudas and Chevelles and Torinos. They even had a car named Corvair.

The Corvair was different than other American cars. It's engine was placed, oddly enough, in the back. Most American cars placed the engine in the front. But I digress. The Corvair enjoyed much popularity until one day a man appeared as if from nowhere. He wrote an evil book of lies about the Corvair, and he called it Unsafe At Any Speed. This evil man was named... Ralph Nader, also known as Darth Nader.

After Darth Nader wrote his book, an evil group of people in the American government known as Philistines Pharisees Communist Trash Democrats read the book and they began to make unconstitutional laws. They abused the mystical Insterstate Commerce Clause and bent it and shaped it to do their evil bidding and when they were done... no one could buy a Corvair anymore. Americans who had always been free to buy the car they wanted were no longer able to. The maker of Corvair, the Great and Wonderful General Motors, was forced to kill Corvair.

Then a dark period of market tyranny settled over the land known as America. The Democrats ruled with an iron fist, and their opposition, the Republicans, were brainwashed into believing in the necessity of the Democrats' evil actions. The Democrats and Republicans together, called Congress, made more and more regulations for Makers to follow. The Congress told the Great and Wonderful General Motors "you must build cars with this kind of bumper!" The Congress told the Powerful and Invincible Chrysler "you must add seat belts!" They even told the Pathetic Ford, who should always receive pity and not unkindness, "you must add crumple zones!"

Horrible, Horrible Crumple Zones

Then Makers from other lands began to sell their cars in America. But The Congress said "NO! You cannot sell your cars here unless you follow our rules." And so the other Makers followed those rules.

No longer were the Big Three and other Makers able to build cars like the people truly wanted, and no longer were the people able to buy the cars they truly wanted. And the new rules that The Congress made drove up the cost of each car the Makers made, thereby making each American pay more and more for each car.

Then disaster struck. A fuel crisis drove the Americans into despair, and their Leader, a peanut farmer who was supposed to bring peace to the world, failed them miserably in a whirlwind of inaction. And The Congress created a special team of jackbooted tyrannists named the EPA. The EPA descended upon the American landscape and devoured the hearts of all motorists everywhere.

For years the American people lived like this. Their only option was to buy ugly, slow cars. Then the Big Three and the other Makers began to break free from the The Congress and EPA. New technology and magicks allowed them to create better looking, faster cars within the confines of the The Congress' and EPA's tyranny. Their cars were faster, but were still stifled by draconian emission laws. Their cars were prettier, but they still had to work around butt-ugly 5-mph bumpers. But as the Makers made a collective push to break free of the tyranny, The Congress and EPA made new rules and laws, that forced the Makers to research new types of cars called "Electric Cars" and "Hybrid Cars" that nobody worth being a person was remotely interested in.

And so the battle continues. The Makers try to provide what the people want and The Congress stops them. And the majority of people are unhappy, but either don't know why they're unhappy or don't do anything about it. The Republicans have begun to make a push for the true values of America, like limited government and free markets, but many within their movement dissent, and the Democrats fight tooth and nail.

And so, you cannot buy the car you want. You cannot make the decision to save money by not having a bumper, or an airbag. Because you, like me, are not free.

Understanding Her

by: Becca Gardner | on: 2004-12-06 00:00:00
My dad. His name is Tony. I think his birthday was this past Saturday the 4th. He's 56yrs old. Where he's at, I don't know. About the time I was 16 he was gone. It was devastating at first, only because he was breaking up the "nuclear family unit", so they called it. I never said it, but I felt it..I was glad to see him go.

One night this past week I laid awake thinking about Nick, who lost his father a year and 1/2 ago. I don't know Nick well at all, just of his circumstances some days that I hear about from a friend. I thought about Nicoli and his loss compared to my own.

"Which is worse?", I said aloud, "to lose a father by no choice of his own to disease or to know your father is still out there alive, yet he's somewhat "dead" to you?".

You mourn either way. There really is no comparison here you can make as to which of us is "worse off". It was more of a passing thought when I was thinking about the whole plan of salvation/eternal family thing and how death and broken homes play in to it.

My dad was always buying us things, though we never had much money ever, at all, really. He would spend his mornings at garage sales and flea markets, coming home with garbage bags full of hand-me-downs and nickel and dime toys. He could bargain shop with the best of 'em and could talk anyone down from any one price.

When you're growing up young and blonde, a bit of a "Curly Sue" and free as a bird, you don't think where he got the money and what the toys actually symbolized. As far as my adult brain can figure now, is that he bought us "things" to make up for what he couldn't give us emotionally or spiritually. He took what scraps he had and made us a "playland". He gave to us what we couldn't get for ourselves.

Well, until Blake got a job at McDonald's and I caught rides to High School in my best friend's car, material things surfaced above all his other thoughts to be some type of "glue" to secure his safety as our father.

I can stomp around shouting, "It's not fair!" or "I had a bad childhood!". But that's not me. I'm not sure if it's Nick. But that's not me.

Over 10 1/2 years you learn the gospel better. You slip those spiritual twinges and hand squeezes from your mother under your belt and grow. You move on to know that your dad is being taken care of in the best light that the Lord sees fit. God needed to see these 5 Gardiner kids explore His creation and not be hendered by someone else's agency. I was blessed with insight enough to understand the plan of happiness and how I fit into it with or without Tony.

It used to be hard. It used to be frustrating introducing my "step dad", let alone celebrating Father's Day. No matter who your dad is or what he's done, you're loyal to him and hold a bit of spite for the next guy that tries to fill his shoes.

But that's changed now. My mom doesn't cry anymore when I play the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack. My stepdad hugs me like I'm one of his own. It's a nice setup we got here in the, now, Vincent residence.

I have this feeling inside that I manifest in literal ribbons and bows. I can't ever seem to ignore it. I want my sweet peas to have what they can't find in a shop-around-the-corner themselves. Kinda like my dad, yeah?

My Point: I love my dad in a "pick and choose" sort of way. But I love that I inherited the pleasure I find in giving "nickel and dime toys" to the ones I keep close in my front coat pocket.

What good is money or love if you never give it away? I always have enough of both to fit my needs. The rest? It goes on "backorders" and "online specials" if that's where the wind blows me.

"On behalf of every man
looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world
So fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too"
--John Mayer's "Daughters"

Thanks, Dad.

Second Amendment Rights

by: Justin Mills | on: 2004-12-02 00:00:00
In last Friday's (November 26) Wall Street Journal there was an article concerning second amendment rights. My paper was thrown away before I got around to posting this, but the gist of the article is this: a man was working on his ranch and had to shoot a dying cow. He then threw his rifle behind the seat of his truck. Not long after, he proceeded to his job at a mill. The mill that day performed a random search of the employees's cars for drugs and weapons. The dogs signalled the vehicles of the man with the rifle and also three others, and their vehicles were searched. When the search turned up firearms, the owners of the four cars were promptly fired.

Those fired are now filing lawsuits for wrongful termination. The mill claims that although the zero-tolerance policy is new it was announced months ago. The employees say they were never told of the policy, and besides that, they have a Second Amendment Right to carry weapons in their car. The mill fired back that they have a right to keep weapons off their property.

My first instinct is to argue in favor of the employees. I waited to post this in order to think about it, and now that I have, I will argue in favor of the employees anyway.

I agree that the mill has the right to run their property as they wish. However, they do not have the right to interfere with an individual's rights as guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment gaurantees our rights to bear arms, but this right has been infringed upon over and over again by the federal government, the state governments, and now corporations. This mill's policy not only interferes with their right to have a weapon on that property, but it also means that all the way to and from work, those employees cannot carry a weapon. That policy works against their rights before and after they even get on the property.

I understand the motive behind the zero-tolerance weapons policy on company property. They want to protect themselves and their workers from an irate, disgruntled employee. Even so, the policy is still wrong. Those types of problems are few and far between. Also, the more people who are armed, the better our society will be. Robert Heinlen once said that an armed society is a polite society and I believe him.

If we want to have a better society we need to roll back all of these unconstitutional laws (for instance, it's illegal to openly carry a pistol in Texas), and prevent companies from infringing on our rights. Then we'll have the freedom we were guaranteed and a safe, respectful society.

For more information on "[the gun thing]," visit [Kim du Toit]'s site.

Much Ado About Nothing

by: Abinadi Ayerdis | on: 2004-12-02 00:00:00
The AP, in its infinite wisdom {read: silliness}, has decided to report on the current going ons of the United Methodist Church. While I am not personally a member of this 8.3 million strong religion, I think that tradition is an integral part of Christianity and should not be lightly tossed aside. That being said, here is the gist of [the article]:

PUGHTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A jury made up of United Methodist Church clergy convicted a lesbian minister Thursday of violating church law by openly living with her partner in a committed relationship.

I wonder why the AP wanted to run this story. It seems that the United Methodist Church is only taking care of its own business. Why, then, is this news-worthy? Perhaps because it involves lesbians. Well, let's be honest, that is exactly why they are making a big deal about this.

I think that since, "Methodist law bars 'self-avowed, practicing homosexuals' from ministry," the case is open and shut. The offender, Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud, admittedly broke the rules and thus merits the assosiated punishment: defrockment.

The judge wisely noted that this case was not about the Church's constitution, but rather, about breaking the established rules for the clergy. He wouldn't let them use his court to legislate. How refreshing. I assume that she will be defrocked soon. You can see a picture of her reaction to all this [here]. It looks like someone is sad, sad, sad.

I think that the right judgement was made. Tradition should be maintained and upheld. Otherwise, the church is doomed to vacillate in the wind before the slightest fashion or trend.