Friday, August 31, 2007

HOAs and Their Evil Twin

I'm starting to think that HOA stands for Hall of Asses or perhaps Holes of Asses rather than the nearly ubiquitous Homeowners Association. In fact, given that I just wrote about them yesterday, there must be something to my thinking.

My own HOA has a message forum where, one would think, intelligent dialogue would take place amongst neighbors. Hang on. ROF LMAO LOL, still ROF . . . hang on . . . sorry . . . Did I just say intelligent and HOA in the same sentence? I've clearly had too much to drink already. At any rate, I've discovered that the Board members like to use the so-called forum as their bully pulpit and demonstrate their general lack of knowledge on that which they claim to administer. It's really sadly amusing that there is such collective stupidity and at the same time, they can hold jobs that allow them to afford a mortgage. Is it just me, or have you noticed how there's never been a statue of a committee in a park? It's always a leader - someone who stood above the rest and made a real difference with his (or her) heart in the right place. I suppose that explains why we haven't seen too many such statues of late. But I digress.

I think my earlier conclusions (see previous post) were accurate. Or they were abused children. Or, since this is Florida, perhaps their family tree lacked branches. Did you know that palm trees had pretty shallow root systems? That's why they topple in windstorms. As such, I am hopeful that the windstorm of law and logic that I have lobbied at my HOA will result in a collective toppling of dead and/or shallow-rooted wood.

Two counties away, this very day, in a deed restricted, gated community also governed by a self-proclaimed omnipotent HOA, my firm was asked to deliver some material at the behest of a realtor. Little did we know that the realtor's office was within the Town Centre (yes, they spell it that way to sound all uppity) and thus BEHIND the proverbial gates of Hades. "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." The GED-holder who manned the gate would not let my driver pass without the name of the realtor and obviously the realtor failed to alert the portcullis keeper that we'd be bringing his order. So, she would not let my driver pass. He had to radio the office for the particulars of the realtor to bring the material to his doorstep. If I didn't have a desire to keep my job another day, I would've suggested pouring it over the gate pawn's head and leaving the receipt, but alas, I played by their silly rules. In the words of Shakespeare, much ado about nothing.

But that must be one snazzy place that even their town centre is off limits to the riff raff peasants of the neighboring communities. Being somewhat familiar with customs of the Middle Ages, the only real difference I see is a lack of the plague. Beyond that, all these residents are merely subjects to their respective Feudal Lords and the moneylender who lets them live in their house.

With all that said, apart from a desire to not live next to a trailer with four junk cars in the lawn, what benefit do we find in this forced homogenization of our neighborhoods? While it may not be quite like the segregation my parents knew, it's still segregation of the haves and have-less and have-nots.

Don't misunderstand, I'm all about free markets and capitalism, but segregation for the sake of living under the protection of a Feudal Lord seems less than liberating. We have made our lives so complicated by trying to make them so comfortable. And we've accomplished little comfort.

But there again, if common sense were to prevail, I'd have little to discuss. And so I go on crying out, a voice in the wilderness.

The PoPo Must Be LoCo

My morning commute was seasoned today with a Florida State Trooper on a motorcycle blasting past me and riding aggressively. Initially, I figured he was running down a speeding motorist as the State prepares for its part in the national CARE initiative ( or, perhaps he was speeding to the aid of another officer. I watched him disappear into the distance for nearly six miles (the roads are pretty straight here and those of us who ride can spot another bike for miles). Then, to my surprise, he joined a cadre of Troopers in the median (eight in all) obviously preparing to begin ruining people's days. OK, I will grant you that law enforcement does do more good than harm and I have had my share of well-deserved speeding tickets over the years. Nevertheless, it irks me to no end when law enforcement behaves in the same manner as those they will later cite.

Having waited a while for my blood to cool to a mild simmer, I ended up calling *347 and asking for the troop's shift commander. I had to leave a message - insert your own donut remark here. He called me back within the hour and I related my tale of woe. I was assured that he would "address this matter firmly" with the offending officer. He continued to offer these assurances after I asked if it was mere lip service or if, in fact, he believed that no one was above the law. Riiiigggghhhhttttt . . .

Over beers tonight, I'm sure those good ol' boys are having a hearty laugh at the bitter civilian who wished he could flash a badge and drive with immunity.

I've been around the block enough times to know that this guy was as full of methane-producing particulate as the cattle and moose I've discussed previously. So, I wrote a letter to the Troop Commander, the Director of the FHP, the local traffic court judge (she's a regular Judge Judy without the humor), and the Lt. Governor. I kinda figured Mr. Crist was too tied up kissing Awnold's Austrian arse and posturing himself for a national position. It basically captured all the elements I've mentioned here without the vitriol. Then I suggested that one of the four might try to change my cynical perspective by explaining how I am wrong in my assessments.

At the least, I killed 30 minutes of boredom and lowered my BP a few points feeling that I had at least had a small voice in something. In truth, I probably just lost thirty minutes of my life and damn near $2.00 in postage for nothing. But hey, that was 200 calories of Pepsi that I didn't get to drink. So maybe my 34s will fit another week more.

Be safe out there. Yes, even you among the Loco Popo class.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Punks, Bullies, and HOAs

I heard once that the kids that were bullied in school ended up becoming cops so they could return the favor to society-at-large. Perhaps there is some truth to that, but I suspect that it is more true among homeowners & condo associations nationwide.

If ever there were a place for gestapo mentalities, it's these associations supposedly charged with protecting the interests and property values of the homeowners they are said to represent. However, my experience with them, both personally and in business, is anything but positive.

In business, they will summon you to their property to bid a job or prepare specifications for bidders. Upon arrival, every old fogie/condonazi will inquire as to why you're there. Not satisfied with your response, they'll call security and the property management firm and the association president only to discover that their Board did in fact ask you to be there. (Because apparently people show up all the time making notes about the condition of the facility in work attire.)

Personally, I have found that they do not require any form of education on the part of the elected Board, which largely consists of busy-bodies who are more concerned with asserting their assumed power than with actually improving the overall neighborhood. Where I live, they are more concerned with exercising vendettas and personal agendas under the guise of protecting home values, when in fact their efforts should be applied to homes that indeed have issues (e.g., foreclosures, overgrown lawns, general disrepair, etc.). Instead, these overgrown (some literally), under-matured bullies would rather disregard the State statutes and use their message boards to snipe and pick and allude. If they didn't hold their so-called office, they'd be no different from anyone else. But they do, so they suck from the HOA teet as though they were never weaned from their mommies. They create commotion but achieve nothing. They fight improvement and tolerate mediocrity.

I suspect that the State was well-intentioned when it legislated the concept of such associations. Sadly, they failed to legislate standards by which such organizations would govern themselves and/or accountability to the homeowners. The homeowners, by and large, are so consumed with the more important matters of life (work, kids, schools, sports, etc.) that HOA involvement seems unimportant; then, when Boards behave as the ignorant masses that they do, homeowners feel muted and powerless unless they are willing to research the Statutes or hire private counsel. But then the Board feels threatened and they circle their wagons and use their message boards to offer solace to each other and badger the peasants of their fiefdoms.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. When I look at those who comprise my board, I see a lot of stained clothes, junk food, and gossip. Sadly, I don't see much class or taste which would prevent much of the angst and negative connotation associated with these unofficial officials. Like politicians, if they had the interest of their constituents at heart, they would listen to them. But they don't. And like politicians, they will one day fall under the weight of their own pride and prejudice and another group of ne'er-do-goods will assume their place.

And the cycle will continue. Those homeowners with adequate resources and intelligence will move away and acquire property absent of moronic control; the rest will be forced to tolerate the celebration of mediocrity brought about by the lowest common denominator of their neighborhood.

I wonder who pays for all the chips and cookies at those meetings . . . it's certainly clear who eats them.

Hermits Don't Belong in Dorms

Even without the insightful study reported by the AP with regard to Seung-Hui Cho, I posit that any 10-year-old could tell you that anti-social people with severe anxiety issues don't belong away from home in a dorm environment.

Of course, hindsight is always 50/50 (or is that 20/20? - depends on who you ask), and it's easy to look back and "see" the warning signs that would have warranted help had anyone paid adequate attention.

By now, mental illness is understood - at least to the extent that it is not a rarity and that it can be treated in many instances. Like any illness, the sufferers should not bear the stigma once associated with it. They didn't ask for it. They didn't expose themselves to it. But with that understanding comes responsibility. Ultimately, Cho is at fault and fully responsible for his deadly actions on that overcast early-Spring day. But how many others crossed his path saw the red flags, the flashing lights, and the warning signs that all was not well?

At the least, his parents had to realize that something was amiss when he stopped writing home. They knew he had problems - they spent nearly 14 years addressing them in various ways. His high school teachers were overly accommodating enabling his anti-social tendencies later masked under the guise of selective mutism. He wrote two papers and drew pictures that clearly identified pain, angst, depression, and the desire to hurt others; these papers were separated by a gulf spanning seven years. However, any person that could celebrate the Columbine massacre as he did should warrant closer attention to determine the root cause of their elation.

All too often, our society (and perhaps even more so, Asian society) will focus on IQ; Cho was a very intelligent individual. Ted Bundy was intelligent too. Sadly, inadequate emphasis is placed on EQ, or emotional quotient. What Cho had in intelligence, he lacked in emotional skills. As time progressed, this became a larger issue resulting in the anger and rage that erupted with enough violence to create a murderer.

The warning signs were all around. Too many people saw too many things to have ignored it as they did. Sadly, no amount of hindsight or investigative panels will restore the life and the innocence that was lost on that college campus in Virginia. But, this doesn't warrant the typical knee jerk reaction that causes the pendulum to crash into the opposite side of the clock either. No. People need to raise their concerns when they have them. We have become a nation paralyzed by political correctness. Ten years ago, the media was ready to send Jewell to the gallows for a crime he didn't commit. Today, suspicious-looking imams on a plane will sue if you question their actions. Thirty years ago, God was removed from the classroom. Today, Allah has to be tolerated. It defies all manner of logic and common sense.

How many more people must die and how many more panels will be convened simply because society was afraid to speak-up? I would rather say I'm sorry for someone being asked a few questions than mourning the needless loss of my children to a troubled soul.

Fast and Furious - Clearwater Drift

Oh, Hulk. You seem like such a nice guy; I went to school with your niece (when she showed up for school). But dude, what's up with your parental skills? I'm no parenting expert - just ask my kids - but Nick would be riding a Schwinn before I let him drive again. I'm no driving expert either - I've had my share of speeding tickets.

Somewhere along the line, I think that you wound up with more dollars than sense. And with that kind of coin, you could afford a sweet truck and trailer for him to take his car(s) to the track. I don't recall hearing of any NASCAR drivers routinely abusing the highways and city streets. I do recall hearing of a South American race car driver who lost his license for being an habitual offender.

Given Nick's age, I would think that the State would have to conclude that he's also habitual. He bragged about being pulled over three times within an hour on the same road!! His speeds should have all mandated court appearances. At what point, Hulk, are you going to man-up and parent this kid? He's your kid, not your pal. And it's time he knew who was in charge. As his father, you can also control his purse-strings and his privileges.

But now, aside from putting countless others at risk by letting him continue to show-boat, you've placed a US Marine in the hospital with a less than promising prognosis. Sure, it was Nick's fault. But it IS your responsibility. His blood is on YOUR hands for not having taken charge when you should have. To an extent, I think you realize that between having lawyered-up and having commented on your show about his driving being worrisome. Ya think?!

Even if you and yours manage to weasel out of this one too, and hopefully his friend survives and recovers fully, no amount of money can replace good parenting. If your kid wants to race, help him do so safely and responsibly on a track; maybe he can make a career of it. That presumes that this all works out. If not, he may be stamping license plates that say "Dad E $$" or "2FAST4U."

In the meantime, you might suggest that your daughter wear less revealing clothes. If her voice is her asset, then the other "assets" can be kept under wraps for a wee bit longer, BRUTHHERRRRRR!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Best of the Worst?

By now, who has not heard Miss Teen South Carolina's so-called answer to a question about a portion of Americans not being able to locate the US on a world map? If you haven't, you can find it on your Internet search engine of choice.

Frankly, I'm not certain what alarms me more:

1) That she was the best overall choice from an entire state,
2) That she likely is among those "US Americans" who cannot locate their nation on a map, or
3) That 50 teen girls prance around on a stage in various stages of undress and are then asked a question and expected to give an answer in a complete sentence.

Todd Schnitt, a syndicated radio host stationed in Tampa, FL said it best: "it sounded like someone took a sentence and threw it up in the air and the words all just came down . . ." It was like a sentence embolism; a grammar earthquake of 8.2 on the Richter. Such as . . .

I tried to text message with my best friend yesterday in Miss South Carolinaese and am not sure either of us achieved her level of mediocrity. If you are her parent, sitting in the audience, watching your daughter strut across the stage for every pervert in America to enjoy, what do you say to her when she asks how her answer sounded? "Well, gosh honey, we didn't know English was a second language for you." Or, "If you were a stroke victim, that was really good. We're so proud." I truly believe that I would have walked up on the stage and told the other girls that their odds of winning just improved to to 1:49 because this knucklehead is going to Sylvan. Of course, I'm not so sure the others would've quite gotten the ratio reference, but I can only tolerate so much "dumbing down" before my head explodes and orange light emanates from my ears.

I personally believe (sorry, Miss South Carolina said that), that this is another example of Dr. Spock and political correctness mentalities run amok. We have become a nation that celebrates mediocrity with a passion. Our children now graduate with cap and gown from preschool and kindergarten and third grade. They all get trophies and certificates for showing up to play soccer despite how badly they perform. In one program, they get some sort of recognition following each game - talk about throwing something up in the air and seeing where it lands. When I coached this league of little ones, bless their hearts, I could've just as easily thrown the colored reward stars into the cluster of kids, soccer ball, and cloud of dust and let chaos theory determine who got what. They're seven years old, how good can they really be?!?! Hmmm, I just had an epiphany: with the exception of one kid on that team, they could all complete a cogent compound sentence. That's more than Miss SC did. Such as.

I remember a time in school when we would tease the Asian kids about being so smart and not watching TV and never playing outside. In 9th grade, I had already had 12 months too many of the Chen twins - they could recite the periodic table like the alphabet. I would rather play with the Bunsen burner. In hindsight, I wish I had shared their passion for education and learning. They're probably working on some top secret government project or managing a new technology in the private sector driving an S500, enjoying fine wines and gourmet foods, and helping their child prodigies follow in their brilliant footsteps. It's unfortunate that "US Americans" do not share this work-ethic and education-ethic. We have become a nation of big, fat, lazy slobs. Today's news reports that Mississippi is the fattest state in the nation. I can only hope that taxpayer money didn't fund the study for that blinding flash of the obvious result.

Miss SC is merely one example of a nation of poorly educated people more concerned with the superficial (e.g., looks) than with substance. I don't quote the late Dr. Martin Luther King often, but when he dreamed of a day that his children were judged not by their skin color but by the content of their character, he dreamed big. Yet today, forty-odd years later, we are still focused on the outward appearance. No doubt that Miss SC is a pretty girl; but when those looks fade, she will just be another has-been, unattractive, moron gracing the isles of Wal*Mart. And no one will be the wiser. I hear rumor that she's being given another chance to answer that question in a public forum; were I her, I'm not sure I'd take that chance no matter how well-rehearsed I was. If she errs again, then there will be no room for doubt as to the content of her person. She'll be like my Lemon-Lawed Pontiac Fiero - all form and no function.

And US Americans will celebrate her regardless . . . such as.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Beware of Dawg

Yo. Iz time I speak to m'peeps from da heart 'bout dis Micha'Vick nonsense. No mo sittin' roun' da crib an' bein' all quiet, yo.

I like Bill Cosby, and no, not because he's black and I feel the need to compensate for this rant on Michael Vick. I like what he said about the worst beating he ever got; paraphrasing, it was something like: ". . . the worst beating I ever got was when my mother said 'I am sick' and I added 'AND TIRED'. . ."

Well, I am sick . . . AND TIRED . . . of hearing about this multi-million dollar waste of flesh and his fall from grace. First, we all have our opportunities in the sun, usually followed by our proverbial (or literal) fall from grace. Heaven knows I've had mine. So the man can run. So the man can throw a football with a sniper's accuracy. But at the end of the day, if that's all that can be said good of him, dare I suggest that there isn't much to discuss? Once again, I can show you 130 million reasons why money does not change people's hearts. Mike Tyson. Paris Hilton. Lindsay Lohan. That Bay Watch dude. OJ Simpson. Show me a celebrity with lots of money and I'll show you someone who basically got lucky at the ol' Game O'Life. Sure, there's a few good eggs out there, like, um, well, hmmm, ok, gimme a minute . . . well, any way, I hear now that Michael is sorry for his "mistakes" and I have even heard rumblings that he, like Paris, has found Jesus. I think that's a reference to the Messiah, the Christ, and not the Mexican drywall contractor from Loma Linda. At any rate, I didn't know that Jesus was lost much less in need of being found. Quite frankly, I'm thinking that Jesus might not be too happy with the way Vick has treated His canine creations. But He probably wasn't too happy with Paris' after-jail afterglow party either. (I'm not saying I'm on the A-list either, folks, but at least I'm not a poser.)

I need not go into the gory details of how Vick disposed of his poor performers in the dog fighting ring, nor of how his partners in crime rolled over like $10 crack whores when confronted with the sins of their brother. Nevertheless, it would be amusing to see how quickly his fans and defenders would be up in arms if other human athletes were eliminated in a similar fashion. Psychologists have long said that the way we treat animals is how we are capable of treating fellow humans. To suggest that this is just a "normal" activity for the black man is akin to saying that bum fights are "normal" for the white man. Or cock fights are "normal" for the Hispanic man. Call a spade, a spade, people. It's animal cruelty being exacted by someone who is at least paid enough to know better. Ah, but therein lies the rub: no amount of money changes the heart of a man. Therefore, he is nothing more than an overpaid thug. And his supporters need to look beyond his performance on the football field and the color of his skin and denounce his barbaric behavior. Period. Set a positive example for your children - at least this time.

As though the Ron Mexico debacle was not shameful enough, stop glorifying this clown's bad behavior.

Oh, and a few role models have come to me: Ronde and Tiki Barber, Mike Alstott, John Lynch, Peyton Manning, and Tony Dungy. My apologies to the countless others I failed to mention. Sadly, these folks don't get the air-time that their misbehaving contemporaries receive. But, a wise young woman schooled in broadcasting taught me something very telling about the media: "if it bleeds, it leads." Which is really too bad . . .

But there again, if it were any other way, then it would mean that Common Sense isn't extinct.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inkless in Key West

In 1966, an apparently-not-so-astute Naval Commander insisted that Key West prohibit tattoo parlors from its island paradise. Why? Because they were "too accessible" for drunken sailors.

Where do I even begin on this one? First, thank God (or Allah or Jimmy Buffett or Hemingway - depending on your spiritual swing) that it only took 40 years for someone to conclude that it was unconstitutional for a city to ban a practice permitted by the sovereign state of which it's a part, especially at the behest of a DoD employee. Oddly, the US military is constitutionally prohibited from taking any form of police or law enforcement action on US soil, yet a commander can tell a city to ban an entire industry because said commander cannot control his own charges.

Let's peel another layer off this onion, shall we? A sailor in the US Navy gets drunk and gets inked - and apparently this happens with some frequency. Really, who hasn't seen some surly old guy greeting you at Wal*Mart or staggering out of the package store with some blurry image of a pin-up girl, neatly covered with liver spots and gray arm hair? It would seem that such behavior was relatively ubiquitous "back in the day" regardless of what our grandparents would like us to think. So, to keep this from happening, an officer of the US military tells a city what it can, or in this case, CANNOT do. Granted, there are countless reasons why the culture of Key West might make one think twice about being a tattoo artist or getting inked in that particular locale, but drunken sailors on shore-leave shouldn't be among them.

Instead, this commander (or heck, the entire US Navy) should take better control of those sailors which it otherwise considers to be property. Here's a few simple rules that shouldn't be too hard to execute if you are a good custodian of your enlisted personnel:
1) You will not get intoxicated off-base.
2) You will not get tattoos in form or any place on your body without written permission.
3) You will not disgrace the US Navy by wandering the streets of cities, American or otherwise, in a drunken stupor.
4) Doing any of the above will result in disciplinary action up to and including dishonorable discharge.

It took forty years for common sense to prevail and only after litigation. Why just Key West? Why not New Orleans? Jacksonville Beach? Tokyo? Ho Chi Minh? Pensacola? Miramar?

Yet again, I am amazed that the US government got away with this action and a local government wasn't smart enough to prevent it, yet a bunch of artists were able to demonstrate the inanity of it all. But while I am amazed, I am not surprised . . . after all, look at all the rocket surgeons and brain scientists we re-elect.

Gotta run, Miami Ink is coming on! Soon to be followed by American Chopper - nothing like a loud bike to wake up that surly Wal*Mart former-party-boy greeter.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who Goosed the Moose?

In today's so-called news, the AFP reports from Oslo that a grown moose annually belches out more methane than the CO2 emissions of a round-trip flight from Oslo to Santiago, Chile!;_ylt=AoQ2dldm5IEmWlyIhmLmEpsDW7oF

Apparently, this comes as breaking news that eating grass as the staple of one's diet creates flatulence and intestinal distress. With 140,000 head of moose in Norway alone, that's some serious gas! Of course, this gas contributes to the global warming frenzy yet the article cautions against killing off the flatulent forest critters as they serve a purpose in Nature. Ya think?!?!?! But wait, moose have been around far longer than the demonized internal combustion engine so why are we looking at them? Why did we look at cattle last year? Why do we only address the non-issues? China and India are the scourge of the planet with their lack of environmental controls, yet they get a pass. But 140,000 moose and their off-gassing is of concern.

Here's my latest dilemma: we won't seek oil, wind, or water power in certain areas because of the potential impact on surrounding wildlife. Perhaps a migrating crane will be minced in a windmill, or a rare woodland mouse would fall into an oil rig, or the occassional salmon could not swim to its native water to spawn. Yet one would think that all of these critters, at one time or another, would (let's call it for what it is) fart. Yes, fart. Woodland critter toots. My dog produces toxic flatulence that could kill a herd of moose yet thus far, no one has sought to measure it. I hypothesize that if I could bottle that stuff, I'd have enough to power my gas grill for several years of grilling moose porterhouse. So, if reducing the methane output of a few critters could ebb the global warming tide, then perhaps we should make a happy trail of dams, wind farms, and oil rigs from Key West to ANWR. In the meantime, gas prices fall 50% and more cars are on the road. The economy booms resulting in more expendable income resulting in more travel. Voila!! More deer are hit by motorists and more birds are sucked into jet engines! Net/Net, right?!?!

What puzzles me though is how these moose toots are causing the polar ice caps to melt on Mars. Did they somehow get captured in the tiny electronics of the Mars ROVER and have been unleashed on an unwitting and defenseless planet??!! Or maybe, just MAYBE, global warming is a pile of moose poo. Not that the globe isn't getting warmer - I just spent a few days in the Gulf of Mexico and could never tell a difference when I relieved myself in the water. That's warm, friends. Likewise, driving my big Diesel SUV home on Tuesday, with only one of eight seats occupied, it was 99 degrees outside. I smiled to think that I did my part to contribute to global oceanic pee water. Damn the torpedos and the glaciers! I can't afford waterfront, so I will facilitate it coming to me. Or perhaps the reason I cannot hear my bedtime friend George Noory on the AM dial at midnight is that increased solar activity is messing with my trusty AM signal as well as warming the third rock from the sun. Not to mention the first two and the fourth.

But, if the global warming clerics are so right about this, then surely they're right about evolution and it's cousin "survival of the fittest" too. As such, should the critters that are supposedly threatened by our dams, oil rigs, and windmills not be capable of adapting to these new "threats" to their well-being? If not, why not? Surely if humanity (can I still use that term since it has the word "man" in it?) can adapt and change and cause the entire globe to change in a mere 100 years, then the animals can change too, right?

All this thinking has made me hungry for some baked beans and cabbage! But gosh, what happens when the Oslo scientists realize that high fiber diets in humans create methane?


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pit Vipers Do Not Make Good Pets

So I was thinking today that I would get my kids a Timber Rattler as an early Christmas present. But I won't call it a Rattler. That's too ominous. No, I think I'll call it a fuzzy bunny. I mean, it has venom sacks and fangs and rattles. And it's meaner than me on a good day, but if I call it a fuzzy bunny, I think I can improve relations and reduce hostilities. Ok, so maybe the kids still get bit and die, but hey, fuzzy bunny didn't know any better. He's still a viper, after all.

Of course, I guess I could also convert to Catholicism and have a priest, padre, pedophile, whatever they want to be called, sprinkle me with some holy tap water from a wooden salt shaker and tell me that I was once a protestant and am now a Catholic. But on Friday night, it'll still be a steak on the barbie because I've yet to find a biblical prohibition to it.

Which brings me to Bishop Tiny Muskens in the Netherlands. At the risk of going straight to Hades, do not pass Purgatory, do not collect $200, what the "hell" is he thinking? Let's call God "Allah" because it'll help make nice with the Muslims? Call me crazy - folks often do - but somehow I don't think that what Westerners call God is the real catalyst for jihad. In fact, I suspect that those most set in their intention to destroy the West will find this as another "blasphemy" worthy of their crusade to rid the world of the Infidel virus.

As I understand it, priests and bishops are reasonably educated people. In theory, they are taught to think critically and to analyze what they see, hear, and read. Heck, if a man is able to pardon my sins on behalf of God, er, I mean Allah, shouldn't he also be smart enough (i.e., omnipotent enough) to know that whether we call Him Jehovah, Allah, Yahweh, God, Jesus, or Hank is of nominal consequence to those who seek to kill us? I do not mean to seem blasphemous with the Hank comment . . . nay, my point is to stimulate reflection on the outcome of the good bishop's suggestion. He is still on the A-List for those that the radical Islamists wish to kill.

As the world crumbles around us, why are we content to sit back and think of words that will make the crazies feel better? The US economy is leading the global economy into a possible recession or depression, Iran is buddying up with Al Qaeda, and China is trying to poison our children when they aren't flooding the market with US dollars . . . but let's call God "Allah." That'll make it all better.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Valet Parking for Your Brain

Apparently, when one goes to work for the government (don't worry, we're here to help), the lobotomy is free. Indeed, sometime between the civil service exam (or election) and when your name is added to the payroll, your brain is parked in some secret underground lot near Langley never to be heard from again.

As though ample evidence is not provided on a daily basis that government and its officials are utterly inept and cannot wipe themselves without a 400-page technical manual with an 800-page addenda, we learn today that they've discovered that it costs more to make pennies and nickels than the coins are worth.

Copper prices continue to skyrocket such that the metal has become a hot commodity among thieves. Epiphany Alert: No wonder the government is so fond of it! At any rate, pennies are made of zinc with a copper plating at a cost $.017 per unit. Nickels are made of a copper/nickel alloy at a cost of $.10 each. In the private sector, a company that discovered its end product manufacturing cost was 1.7 to two times the value of the finished product would quickly re-evaluate the manufacturing process - especially if the value of the finished product was fixed. But not the government. It literally requires a Congressional review to initiate any form of action. But since it's not their money being wasted, the sense of urgency is non-existent.

Ironically, this is but one example of how your government works for . . . well, I'm not so sure they work, much less do so for you. So forget that . . . Well, it's one more example of how government can take a mole-hill, make it into a mountain, then charge you to see it despite the fact that it was made with your money.

So now I'm not sure whose smarter. Them or those of us who elected them.

In WWII, there was a quick solution to the copper issue: make pennies out of steel. And it didn't take until the Korean War to enact it. So if they could figure it out 60 years ago, it stands to reason that they can do it again. Ahh, but reason, like common sense, is extinct. Were it not, I'd have no need for this blog.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Memo Malfunction

Somewhere along the line, I think I misplaced a memo. I tend to do that with paper - but then I find it again not even realizing it was lost. Or maybe it was lost in the mail, filtered out as SPAM. And much like SPAM, mechanically separated pig parts (which, where I come from, anything that's mechanically separated is "roadkill"), some parts of this memo are going to prove hard to swallow.

I'm just guessing, but I think the memo went something like this:

"Dear John,

Hereinafter, you shall be called Juan. Esta bien. Having established your new identity as a former American citizen to a subject of the Mucho Grande Estado de MexAmerica, it is my pleasure to inform you that you are now a minority and will be treated as such. We are renaming Washington DC after our favorite side dish, Pico de Gallo, and May 5 will be your favorite nationale holiday. Bien. Restaurants that once touted Mexican fare will now be standard issue and our new nation will feature classic restaurants of yesteryear serving hamburgers and hot dogs. If you lease real estate for your business and you are not bilingual and/or Hispanic-friendly, your lease will be terminated. Our vision is to cater to the unique needs of the Hispanic community therefore if you aren't doing that, well, as they say in France: Ce qui sera sera.

Hasta la vista,

Jorge Miguel de Santos Rodriguez
Executivo Director de Assimilation"

How exactly does one cater to the unique needs of the Hispanic community? Sell old shoes? International calling cards? Write a book titled "The Idiots Guide to Fitting 14 People in an F150, en espanol"? When I last checked, irrespective of skin color and language, we are all of one race: human. Therefore, catering to the needs of a particular clientele amounts to little more than discrimination under the guise of niche marketing.

While the US does not have an official language, the language of business is still English. And I am insulted that it's virtually being mandated that I should have to learn another tongue in order to communicate with immigrants. Again, if I immigrated elsewhere, like, oh, SWEDEN, I'd have to learn their tongue. I could not expect them to learn English on my account. The French, especially in and around Paris, consider Americans to be arrogant slobs because the tourists expect to be catered to in English. Which reminds me of the adage, "when in Rome . . . do as the Romans do." Therefore, if America is so great and so worthy of you either A) jumping through all the legal hoops to lawfully immigrate, or B) jumping, running, and swimming through the illegal barriers, then it should be worth you learning the tongue. It's been said that history is written by the victors of war. Granted, the Native Americans didn't do so well against the European settlers. But unless the Hispanic community is planning a hostile takeover, they should be reading and discussing the US Constitution in English.

All of this leads me to Stuart, Florida, where a local businessman essentially gets evicted from his leased space because his business no longer fits the landlord's Hispanic-friendly profile. Perhaps there is more to this story; maybe the rent was woefully late. But at face value, it seems that the landlord has a soft spot for the otherwise disenfranchised Mexican community.

And this leads me back to my original comment: are we not all human? Why must lines be drawn among race, language, creed, and gender? And when they are drawn, why is it OK to draw them one way but not the other? Reverse this story and imagine the outcry. Or what about a local NAAWP? Or maybe a White-American club to counter the Jewish-American, Italian-American, Hispanic-American, and Irish-American clubs? No? At one time, this country was segregated amongst nationality, but after two hundred years of homogenization, it would seem that uniting simply as Americans would be adequate, if not ideal.

But if you're not willing to do that, then maybe I need to add another foreign expression to my ever-growing repertoire: GO HOME.

And when you get there, know that back in America, zendagi migzara . . . life goes on.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed

Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it! Humpty didn't fall - he was pushed. And the king's men apparently weren't too bright since they let their horses try to fix him. Which leads me to this week's ongoing news of the bridge collapse in Minnesota.

Fox News, et al (that's "and others" for those in Wimauma) has milked this cow dry. Greta got an entire hour out of it on the night it happened. No doubt Nancy Grace will dramatize it to the point that a bridge engineer commits suicide because he approved the bolt that held the guardrails together. It's fairly common knowledge that mechanical engineers build bombs and civil engineers build targets. And, as with anything that is built by human hands, human error and time will take their toll. And sometimes, things fall down. Tragic? Yes. Newsworthy for days or weeks on end? Not always.

Seventeen years had passed since this particular bridge was first noted as being structurally unsound. Presumably, those seventeen years were uneventful or someone would have addressed the issue sooner. Not too many years ago, the Tampa Expressway Authority added an elevated, reversible deck to the over-burdened Crosstown Expressway. In the process of building it, part of it fell down. Traffic and progress were snarled for months. The project languished while someone was sought to be thrown beneath the proverbial bus o'blame. Fortunately, the Tampa incident didn't result in deaths, but it serves as a perfect example. Even the best laid plans can fail. So what makes the MN bridge failure newsworthy? What are news editors overlooking to make this the lead story? The reality is that people die every day. Motor vehicle accidents, disease, starvation, old age, murder, war, and yes, stuff falling down.

I posit that this event conveniently draws attention away from the more pressing matters of the day. The recent House vote that went awry and somehow didn't get recorded. The good news of what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of America's hotly debated presence. And at the same time, it gives partisan lawmakers the opportunity to assign blame for this unnecessary "disaster." Years of tax cuts will be criticized, despite the fact that MN had several years of budget surplus. Government budget surplus can be summed up in a word: over-taxation. The tax cut was to allow the surplus to be absorbed. Surely the government was competent enough to know that it could reallocate some or all of this so-called surplus to critical projects in the interest of human safety. Even if they had to find a method to recoup the allocation, it would be better than allowing an infrastructure failure. The only logical conclusion is that no one believed the problem to be great enough to warrant an intervention seventeen years after it was identified.

Could it be that a combination of factors simply worked against mankind and the laws of physics played themselves out? A freight train rumbling beneath the bridge creating seismic activity. Traffic isolated to one side of the structure while the other lanes were closed. Workers using jackhammers. Forty years of wear and tear. Perhaps this was the "perfect storm" for this bridge. Perhaps blame need not be assigned. Perhaps the knee-jerk reaction of politicians and appointed officials mandating the inspection of every bridge in America is just that: knee jerk.

A levee fails and we have to check them all. A kid gets head lice and we have to check them all. A dog gets fleas and we check them all. A citrus tree gets canker and we burn them all. The concept of an isolated incident is lost in America today. Sure, some things require constant vigilance. Things like terrorism. Pedophiles. Nuclear power plants. But just because one 40 year old bridge falls down doesn't mean every other bridge in the world is now a threatened species.

For once, could we employ a little bit of common sense? Someone? Please? The media gets whipped into a fury, then the politicians do. Yet all it amounts to is a national-scale CYA.

I'm off to go read about a boy who cried wolf. I hear his actions led to his demise. I wonder which political party he joined . . .

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Junk Science

It was 1983 - 1984 and I won 2nd place (aka: the first loser) in the school's Science Fair. I had continued a project I began in 1982 - 1983. The premise was sound enough, I suppose. But the outcome and my promotion to the State competition was akin to global warming: junk science.

As a kid, we often went boating in the local river. And each time, the propeller would get clogged with anacharis, a common river grass. Being a teenager, I knew that the solution to that problem was simple: eliminate all river grass. But take advantage of it - ferment it and use it to fuel a harvesting machine to result in a net-zero operation cost. One container contained water, grasses, and sugar. The other contained water, grasses, sugar, and yeast. Obviously the yeast additive resulted in more rapid fermentation and, I vaguely recall being able to substantiate the position that the byproduct was indeed flammable. Today, I reflect back and wonder two things: 1) what was I thinking, and 2) what were the teachers thinking? Fortunately, at State, I was disqualified on a technicality that no living organism would be part of the display. They didn't consider the plants living, but the yeast.

Even today, I have a tendency to both over-think and over-simplify things; indeed, that might seem counter intuitive and it's probably just the first of several steps en route to the Happy Place in the woods with nice rocking chairs and padded walls to keep us safe from all you "normal" folk. But I digress.

At no point did my study consider the environmental impact of the grass removal. I didn't consider the filtering benefit that the grass afforded to the river. Nor did I consider the food and shelter it provided to countless aquatic life. I did not consider the potential for the downstream (no pun intended) effects of altering the aquatic environment in this way. Nay, I didn't even consider the fact that there was no internal combustion engine presently designed to run on fermented river grass nor did I assess the potential BTU output of the fermented byproduct. It was all theory - and a bad one at that.

Yet, I took 2nd place and proudly displayed that silly ribbon in my room for several years. Today, I'd like to give it back. I want no part of that so-called honor. Not because the teachers failed to see my short-sightedness, but with the benefit of 20+ years of hindsight, I failed to see my own myopia.

But let this serve as a warning to those who so willingly embrace the notion of global warming, or its latest politically correct term, global climate change. Perhaps it IS getting hotter; perhaps sea temperatures are rising. But science suggests that it's getting hotter on Mars too. Science also tells us that our sun is going through an extended period of increased solar activity. As such, perhaps human activity and cow flatulence are not the most significant contributors to this change. As yet, we have not learned how to control the weather, despite China's insistence that they can prevent rain during the Olympics . . . riiiiiggghhhhtt. But, whether you embrace "intelligent design" or not, the Earth is able to manage itself, even with an excess of 6 billion human viruses running about. Indeed, warmer seas mean more intense hurricanes and typhoons. These storms are nature's way of releasing energy; they also result in death and destruction. Call that "natural population control." The internal combustion engine has only existed for 100 years. Yet science informs us that the global climate has changed multiple times in both micro and macro cycles. Science also told us that the world's oil supply would run out by 1980. Then 1990. Then 2000.

With such uncertainty within the scientific community as to cause and effect, it would seem to be as much a leap of faith to embrace global warming as a human-borne event as, say, the fact that humans are an accident of Nature. Did Nature not realize that we would destroy it? Or is this, like my science projects, a pile of cow manure?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Public Screwal System

Let's just call these things for what they are: Government Indoctrination Camps. Those who pay property taxes already see a portion of their annual mandatory "contribution" funding schools, whether they have kids in them or not. Singles, retirees, families - it's paid as part of the infrastructure that has made this state too expensive to live in already. (Don't get me started on insurance.)

When a new school is built, it is built without some of the more basic components one would think to be "standard" for a school. Things like: a sign, Band supplies when the school offers a Band class, playground equipment, etc. Indeed, it is up to the PTA to raise the necessary funds to acquire these necessities.

But wait, there's more! Every school year begins with a list of necessary school supplies that goes well beyond the 4 Ps: pen, paper, pencils, and paste. It's four boxes of crayons, two bottles of glue, five notebooks. And, "please don't write your child's name on the supplies." Even the kid who likes to eat the glue won't go through two bottles! Translation: not only are we inadequately or unwisely funded, but we realize that there will be those among our student base to whom we will have to provide the basics. I can only conclude that this will be a small percentage of the legitimately needy and a larger portion of those spawned by illegals or barely legals. And how odd, the only supply lists available at Wal*Mart are those written in espanol - which says to me that only those who speak and read English are buying the supplies and hence why we are buying extras for the aliens (and not the extra-terrestial ones).

Conveniently, these lists all say "optional" at the top. Perhaps they should be optional for the taxpayers who already contribute but mandatory for the societal leeches sucking the lifeblood out of our social programs.

For as much sense as this fails to make, the so-called uniform policies are hardly uniform. It should be dubbed something like "mandatory suggested attire maybe if you want to wear it or maybe not." Polo shirts in virtually every color of the rainbow, school t-shirts, denim, khaki, blue, polka-dot, striped bottoms. Last time I checked, uniform was a fairly limiting term. One or two shirt options and one or two bottom options. That's what makes it UNIFORM. I suspect the idea is to limit distractions by some kids being dressed inappropriately or indecently or wearing inflammatory t-shirts. However, the wheat can still be separated from the chaff based on personal grooming and how the children carry themselves.

When, WHEN!! are we going to wake up and realize that we're not-so-slowly watching our personal freedoms erode at the hand of socialism and wealth re-distribution? When will we shut down the borders and "alienate" the illegal aliens by precluding them access to social programs and public education? Proof of citizenship should be validated when registering for school. Law enforcement should be standing by ready to detain, arrest, and deport anyone who is non-compliant. Alternatively, when the children are discovered truant, the same should take place.

The laws of this land should be applied more uniformly than the school uniforms; if that means more people have to perform more menial work, so be it. At least the jobs will be available for those willing to do them.