Thursday, November 15, 2007

But Islam Is The Religion Of Peace...

So, if I'm to believe the apologists for the wonderful religion of Islam, it's a peaceful religion. I don't call violently punishing the victim of an already unthinkably violent crime "peaceful."

Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail.

From AFP:

The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media."

Makes me sick. Yet, we're supposed to be 'tolerant' and 'inclusive' -- and we are not to think that one 'culture' is better than another... remember, Christianity brought us the Crusades, right? Oh, wait. Islam brought on the Crusades. I keep forgetting, since no one in a US high school or University will tell you that. I do wonder what the endgame is of all of the anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, anti-American elites that constantly work to undermine Judeo-Christian values, any sort of personal responsibility, and the very existence of the USA. If they get their way, Islamicists WILL take over our country, and these very elites will be the first ones to feel the sword. Careening down a suicidal path tends to make me agree with Michael Savage: Liberalism is a mental disorder.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

WOW. Sometimes Things Go Right.

I am a flat-magnet.

Err, what that means is, I get flat tires a lot. At least I think it is more than the average driver. Not sure what the deal is. I've had to buy a replacement lug wrench (I completely destroyed the wimpy folding one that came with the car trying to remove lug nuts that were impact-wrenched on as if the Space Shuttle depended on it). I've had to replace tires multiple times because when I get a flat, it typically is some crazy shard of IED that rips through the sidewall.
Some time back, I noticed that I was getting some vibration, but it started RIGHT before I made a trip to Dallas and back. So, on a bad alignment, I put about 500 miles on the tires and wore one of them pretty badly on the outside edge. Fast forward to about 2 months ago. This worn tire picks up a nail and starts leaking. I get it fixed. In the meantime, I'm starting to notice vibration again at higher speeds. Oh, and I have a trip to Dallas impending (tomorrow). Now about a week ago, I notice the SAME tire has a nice new nail in it. It's not leaking, but needs to be fixed before a Dallas trip, right? Today (yep, waiting until the last minute), I take the car to the Sears near work. Tell them I need the tire fixed.
"Can't do it - not enough tread".
Great. I have to buy a new tire. But, probably the wise thing to do. It's not that expensive of a tire.
Then the guy says "Your alignment is probably out for this to be so worn down."
"Well, most of that happened before I got it aligned a while back."
"Where did you get it aligned?"
"When was it? The alignment is warrantied."
"I'm not sure. How long is the warranty?"
"Six thousand miles or six months, whichever comes first."
"Psshh, it was probably more than six thousand miles ago, but let me look."
I have the receipt in the glove compartment. I look. I do the math.
"OH man, check this out. It was May 1st, and I'm under 6k by... about 100 miles."
"OK, then it's free."

Hallelujah! You can't tell me God wasn't protecting this fool on this one. Even if I were staying town, another 2 days and I'd have been over 6,000 miles. And also under by six days? Insane.

So, now I have a fresh new tire and a new alignment... AND, they were slow so they did all of it while I was there. Less than an hour. That's awesome.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What a Difference... revised

OK, I will equate this fire thing with Katrina. It's gotten totally huge since I wrote my last post. Good grief. I pray that they'll be able to control these things soon. Nature is NOT on our side.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What a Difference a Governor Makes?

I can't help but notice that in San Diego, CA thousands upon thousands of people, fleeing a natural disaster, have gathered at Qualcomm Stadium (the NFL Stadium there) to wait out the fires, worried sick about their homes and futures.

Sound familiar?

However, instead of crimes being committed, people becoming mini-celebrities by complaining, rumors of beatings, robbery and rape, it's a civil, almost festive atmosphere. Food and water are in abundance, the governor of the state is there, talking to people one-on-one, and the mood, while apprehensive, is calm.

Now, I'm not trying to equate wildfires in a relatively small area to a hurricane that covers an entire city. However, it does show some stark differences. In an environment run by Democrats, who claim to be 'for the little guy', no help came, organization was nil, buses that could have evacuated neighborhoods were left to sink under rising water, and thousands of people with a mindset of entitlement (again, thanks to... well, I won't keep repeating the obvious) just asked "where's mine, when am I going to get it, and dang, I think I'll take this plasma tv".

Dare I mention that the governor of California is a Republican? I wonder if that might have had anything to do with the way the evacuees are being managed. Just wondering.

Granted, California is a bastion of Liberalism, but it's a different kind. This is the elitist snob kind of Liberalism. The kind that shows that when a wildfire strikes, the homes in danger are the multi-million-dollar variety (wildfires indicate forest, and living near a beautiful wooded area is expensive, kids). The kind that through onerous "open space laws" has artificially created a housing shortage, driving the price of the existing homes through the roof (no pun intended), where only the well-heeled can afford to live. Convenient, eh? No worries about "those people" moving in near you - they can't ever afford to. Sure, you're at the ballot box, pushing for this racist, elitist, separatist agenda in the name of "The Environment", because that makes it sound noble and "green". But the "green" in this case is your protected property values. And you don't have to come out and say that when you push for government programs to help "the poor", what you really mean is "just as long as they don't come near me, except to clean the pool."

What happened in New Orleans was a travesty on many levels. The "Blame Bush First" crowd tried to make it be about the federal government failures, but the state has to first officially ask for the federal government's help. That's the way it works. Locally, the mayor was caught like a deer in headlights and did nothing (until he began panicking and blaming Bush). The governor did next to nothing (until it was too late, so she too blamed Bush). The president didn't help the cause with his usual foot-in-mouth sound bites ("Heckuva job, Brownie!"), but the failures of NOLA began many decades ago, when corrupt Democrat officials enjoyed a tradition of siphoning federal levee money into pet projects (and pockets), and made damned sure that the poor stayed that way so they could always get reelected on promises of better days ahead.

It's a sickening idea, but think about it: if minorities and 'poor folk' actually shook off the empty promises and table scraps of the welfare state, rolled up their sleeves, worked hard, saved their money & thus built a better life for themselves and their children... why would they vote Democrat? So they could pay more in taxes? They've been told all their lives that "the rich" owe them something. Why would they want to become rich and then have their hard-earned money confiscated via taxes to give to people who didn't get off their butt and make something of themselves? Much easier to continue to listen to the lies, platitudes and empty promises of the party machine. Stay resentful of the 'haves' -- remain a 'have not' and sing "We Shall Overcome" on MLK day.

The West Coast Liberals have figured out a way to keep their enclaves free of "the common people" while claiming to care about them. Southern Liberals have just flat-out exploited their poor -- and even when the curtain was pulled aside after Katrina and the Great Oz was unmasked, these poor misguided people chose to stay asleep and not get back to Kansas and see reality. Hmmm, actually, a lot of them did flee to Kansas -- But I digress. I can only hope that some day the voting bloc that is the "African-American Community" (since when does your race make you a community?) will wake up and realize they are being used. Katrina should have been a clarion call, but the brainwashing is even more entrenched than I thought. And that's just sad.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hate Crimes Update

As ridiculous as the concept of a "hate crime" is, here's evidence that hate crime laws are so poorly written that... get this... you don't even have to be a hater to get convicted of a hate crime. What?

In New York, Anthony Fortunato was just convicted of a hate crime against a gay man. That conjures up images of some homophobe violently attacking a homosexual, some old-fashioned gay-bashing, with a flurry of anti-gay epithets thrown in just to seal the deal. But is that what happened? Nope, not even close. Anthony Fortunato is himself gay, or at least bisexual.

He and some friends were low on money and dope and Fortunato had an idea to troll a gay chat room and find someone looking for a date. They lured Michael Sandy to some place and Fortunato's friends attacked him. He ran and as they chased him, he ran into the path of an oncoming car. Fortunato claims that he had no intention of beating the guy, only to try to get him to share some pot, and then maybe taking some money from him.

Well, here's the rub: Apparently in New York, you don't have to prove that the perpetrator hates gays, only that the victim was chosen based on his sexual orientation. So Fortunato was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime.

So if you were thinking about stealing someones CD collection of show tunes, you may want to think twice. Could be a hate crime.

Logically, shouldn't this make all targeted robberies hate crimes? You might not hate old ladies, but you targeted one for purse-snatching because of her age and assumed frailty... You don't hate rich white folks leaving the opera, but you targeted them for their race and their assumed wealth...

It's bad enough we're creating thought police. If hate crimes laws are going to exist, the bar better be set pretty freakin' high - because the State is miraculously going to prosecute you for what they cannot know... what you are thinking. Merely "choosing a victim based on sexual preference" may involve stereotyping, but that hardly rises to the level of statutory "hate".

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Object Lessons and Slaps in the Face

So, right now there is a bible study going on at my church on Tuesdays. We're watching a series of talks by Louie Giglio. If you don't know anything about Louie, the nutshell is that he has a very visually-oriented, casual ministry style but manages to drive home the truths of the Gospel in a very profound way.

This series is "Christ In You" and focuses on Colossians. This Tuesday, he spent some time talking about the difference in what is actually true vs. what we feel like, or feel is true. He said that sadly, most people live based on their feelings instead of what God has said is true (the point here being, in case you are a little slow, that God's word can be trusted).

Although I've heard this teaching before, it really whacked me upside the head this week, because I'd just gotten through enduring a situation that truthfully was nothing... but it felt like hell. And, acting on the feeling and not the reality, I pushed the first domino over.



click click

click click click

click click clickclickclickclick...thunk! <--(the sound of someone jamming their hand in between the dominoes)

Thank God that before the whole domino arrangement fell over (it's barely started getting set up!), cooler heads prevailed, the voice of reason (and reality) intervened, and a friendship was not destroyed.

Louie, even though you just happened to be cued up in the DVD player on Tuesday, I thank God that you were there to make the analogy painfully clear. Although the issue was already being resolved, I now have a wonderful picture of how ridiculously far away from the truth (and The Truth) we can get when we base our reactions on our feelings and not reality. Whether in the interpersonal moments in day to day life or the infinitely more important and eternal ramifications of our salvation, how we may feel about something is nothing upon which to stand. May I always remember this the next time my feelings get in the way... the enemy sure knows how to manipulate feelings, but cannot change the truth!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Must-Read of the Day

I can't wait to read this one.
Of course, at the rate I'm going, it will be next year before I can post any sort of review...
Anyway, I feel confident in recommending this to any and all. This man has been maligned by so many, simply because he doesn't fall into the Left's definition of what an African-American is assumed to be. Instead of being held up as a role model, he (along with Colin Powell, J.C. Watts, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, and others) is derided as an "Uncle Tom", "not in touch with his blackness" (whatever that means), and other such baseless name-calling.
Any time I've had the good fortune to catch a speech by Justice Thomas, I've been captivated by his clarity, conviction and honesty. It breaks my heart that there are probably no more than a handful of young African-American boys thinking "Someday, I want to be like Clarence Thomas". Maybe, just maybe, this book will open the eyes of some -- although I'm sure the NYT Book Review and all the usual suspects in the race-baiting business will trash the book out of hand and unfortunately help limit its success.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Workin' at the Car Wash

Today started out fairly lazy -- washing dishes, catching up on some email, etc. After finally getting off my "blessed assurance" and going to wash my car, I noticed it was sprinkling a little. Great timing. Anyway, I decided to wash the car anyway because it was pretty dirty.
I go to a coin-op car wash that is always a cultural experience, I get to catch up on all the latest in Tejano, Nortena, Merengue music, basically anything with rip-roaring accordions blaring out of car stereos. I feel badly for the people who live in the apartments adjoining the car wash!
Anyway, as I was lathering up the Saturn in the vend-o-squirt, I noticed that all of the stalls had filled up and a few people were waiting. So I slowed way down. Just kidding! I tried to finish up quickly and get out of the stall for the next person. I jumped in the car and maneuvered to one of the vacuum stations (several slots down, as the one directly in front of me was occupied. As I was knocking the water off the car with my trusty California Water Blade, in the corner of my eye I noticed a guy walking up to me. This happens a lot, where someone 'volunteers' to wash or dry your car for a few bucks... so as I was formulating my polite but firm refusal in my head, I turned and noticed that this guy was (a) on the phone, (b) not really paying attention to me at all, and (c) had a ziplock bag of quarters in his hand... the bag of quarters I'd left at the control panel/coin receiver in my stall. I thanked him somewhat profusely as he handed them to me, and he never even paused in his phone conversation as he turned and and went back to his truck.
I have to say, that was a very pleasant and unexpected surprise! I am a little sad that it was so unexpected for two reasons: (1)-it's just today's reality, but (2)- it probably says something about my attitude towards others. So, while being very happy about the return of my quarters, I was a little disappointed in my initial reaction to noticing the approach of this stranger. Maybe next time I'll extend the benefit of the doubt a little more graciously. At least I'd like to think I will.
Oh, and it started raining while I was typing this.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Trying to get the old fire back

Once upon a time, I thought I was going to be an artist. Over the years, the creative bug has had long periods of hibernation, but sometimes it wakes up, walks outside the cave and takes a look around.

The latest urge was to do something mixed media, sort of an 'altered' piece/collage/painted... well, whatever. I have these old red 45rpm records that were my mother's (let's just say they don't play so good nowadays), they are actually opera records. There are a lot of singers in my family (yours truly is not one of them), and my niece just started school at Berklee in Boston. I thought if I could put something together around the singing theme and incorporate one of the old records, I'd send it to her to put in her dorm room.

There are different ways to approach a painting or any art project, you can plan it out painstakingly, sketch it out, etc.... or you can just wing it. I chose the latter on this one. Therefore, it took some weird turns along the way. I think this is done, but I'm not thrilled with it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Michael Vick Revisited

Today after his guilty plea, Michael Vick did what I think is the right thing: Took responsibility for his actions.

In this day and age, that is somewhat astounding. Instead of making a bunch of excuses, he apologized to his teammates, the team management, and most importantly, kids that might look at him as a role model.

He didn't seem to be trying to get out of whatever punishment will come his way, and mentioned that he had to work on "Michael Vick the person", not "Michael Vick the football player".

I can only hope that he is sincere and will learn/grow from the experience. I also think that if the NFL bans him for life, that's the consequence of messing with gambling of any sort when you are in a sport that is bet on.

I also still think that the comments from the NAACP leader were ludicrous. The road to redemption for Vick will be tough, but he will deal with it himself. His personal growth will be between him and God. His professional fate is in the hands of the NFL. His criminal punishment is in the hands of a judge. His fate with the public is up to us, the public. Where does the NAACP come in to this? It doesn't. It can't give Michael Vick his job back, spring him from jail, make him a better man, or convince us to love him. There may be no more irrelevant organization on the planet (except for the hundreds of federal government organizations, I suppose!).

Michael Vick is no victim. He engaged in thug-like & criminal behavior, got caught, and will pay a price. It remains to be seen if he has learned his lesson. I pray that he will turn the corner and use his fame to warn other would-be scofflaws that even the high and mighty can't just do what they want.

One of the headlines contained a quote "I've found Jesus", but I didn't see it in the body of the article. I sure hope that this is true and sincere, and that Michael will take his punishment and return as a warrior for Christ and not just the Atlanta Falcons. That would be a great story of redemption. Jesus Christ changes lives, changes hearts. Not race-baiting organizations that have to trade in poverty-pimping and victimhood to keep themselves in existence. I anxiously await the next chapters of this guy's life.

Friday, August 24, 2007

When's the Darwinist Reformation?

This quote jumped out at me from an article on entitled "Fossil Find Pushes Human-Ape Split Back Millions of Years"

"We know nothing about how the human line actually emerged from apes," the authors of the paper noted.

But, if anyone dare suggest that the human line DIDN'T emerge from apes... you're a religious extremist. Way to go, science! Posit your theory as fact and spend the next 150 years twisting, turning, spinning and forcing "evidence" to support it.

Wow. I thought a theory was just that: A theory. Until PROVEN. Silly me. I'm sure this latest hole in the 'theory' won't deter the religious extremists of Darwinism, however. :::yawn:::

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Michael Vick: Get Out The Violins

OK, I have to get this off my chest.
Michael Vick is about to plead guilty to felony offenses related to the dogfighting indictments against him. FELONY OFFENSES.
However, as I predicted to many of my friends, Mr. Vick is now being portrayed as a victim and the NAACP (what is the relevance of this organization in 2007?) is "pleading" with the NFL to reinstate Vick once he's out of jail. Here's the quote:

"As a society, we should aid in his rehabilitation and welcome a new Michael Vick back into the community without a permanent loss of his career in football," said R.L. White, president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter. "We further ask the NFL, Falcons, and the sponsors not to permanently ban Mr. Vick from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country."

WHAT THE !#$%#$^???!!!

Michael Vick is about to plead guilty to animal cruelty, interstate illegal gambling, and Lord knows what else. These are CRIMES. CRIMES.

However, Don Imus, a curmudgeon of talk radio... called some people names. But HE is supposed to pay with his career. He's even being sued by one of the players involved (after, I might add, she and the rest of the team FORMALLY accepted his apology -- but I'm sure it isn't about money, oh no). What about banning Mr. Imus from his ability to bring hours of enjoyment to fans all over this country?

Hmm, sure. It's only fair. White guy calls black people some names, we can't have that! OH no. We'll even muster up new definitions of those names to make them sound more derogatory than they were ever intended, just to make SURE no one will touch the guy with a 10-foot pole.

But, if a black guy exhibits the most extreme stupidity and takes his position of wealth and fame and throws it away on thug-like criminal behavior, builds a facility intended for ILLEGAL activities, tortures and kills helpless animals in brutal and disgusting ways, gets caught, is pleading GUILTY... we're supposed to look the other way, extend the olive branch, focus on his redeeming qualities, and let him have his multi-million-dollar job back AFTER HE SERVES TIME(!)...

OK, I know I'm pointing out the obvious (at least I HOPE it's obvious). The blatant racist hypocrisy exhibited by so-called "Leaders of the African-American Community" is setting back "The Struggle" by decades, if not centuries.

Let's talk about redeeming qualities for a minute. You may think Don Imus is a disgusting sack of human flotsam, but he and his wife, Deidre, run a ranch for kids with cancer. They don't just "fund a foundation", they RUN it. WORK it. Hands on, with the kids, every year. Giving them hope and a season of life-changing activities. They are raising awareness and money for the cause of Autism - calling out politicians who flip-flop or are soft on the issue (Don used to be able to lambaste them live on the air). They've invented a line of cleaning products that get the carcinogenic and otherwise toxic chemicals out of homes and hospitals. He's a staunch advocate for veterans, and was instrumental in the building of the Veteran's Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio. Hey, I may think the guy is a flaming liberal, but at least he is taking ACTION where so many others spout off about how the government needs to run our lives. This guy puts his money where his sizable mouth is and I will say has a lot more redeeming qualities than a man gifted with athletic prowess who can't see past his own ego.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I Want My MTV (moment to do over)!

The year was 1990. I was the Music Director at a venue called ClubLand in Detroit, MI. ClubLand was a concept created by Steve Jarvis. The idea was to take an existing theater space and turn it into a nightclub and multipurpose venue. The main physical things were to remove the sloped theater seating on the ground floor, put in stepped levels and add cabaret-style seating. The stage itself, and the area immediately in front of the stage would become dance floor. A large video wall would be installed upstage to create a dynamic multimedia backdrop for the night's activities. Three large projection screens would then be installed above that, which enabled many different visual pieces to happen consecutively. Those large screens were retractable so that they could also act as a curtain for performers on a platform atop the video wall. Add in a killer sound system and light show, and a bunch of bars...
The first ClubLand was in Chicago at the Vic Theater, then Houston's Tower Theater followed, with Detroit (in the State Theater, now the Detroit Fillmore) being the third and largest by far. They tried Worcester, MA (now the Palladium) and Key West, FL as well, to less success. The State Theater in Detroit was a historic theater built in 1925 and was just beautiful.

The entertainment concept was unique among nightclubs: Sure, you had programmed music (a DJ - that was me), but there was a lot more. Since the stage was a natural focal point for the crowd (and not everyone is a dancer, many preferring to people-watch), we actually had an MC, a dance troupe, and guest musicians. This in addition to all sorts of video 'bits' that could be something as simple as text scrolling on the big screens, to pre-taped comedy bits, live camera interaction, and of course, music videos. We had an elaborate DJ booth that housed lighting control, the audio gear/records/videotapes, and the video switching and routing command center. Pretty high tech for its day, I must say.
The dance troupe consisted of usually 6 dancers that constantly worked up routines to either various songs of the day. There was a professional choreographer who worked with them and they actually did a great job, considering 90% of their routines were performed on a 6' deep platform with no front railing to keep them from plunging off the top of the video wall. OSHA who? The guest musicians would also perform up there, usually a guitarist or sax player who would jam over pre-determined songs 3 times during the night. We got pretty creative sometimes, though, and had a trombone player (Bugs Beddow! Still remember that guy - he could wail. On flute, too!) and even a drummer (Dennis White)[2] with an electronic kit -- that was great fun. He and I would "trade eights" like live musicians do, me scratching in and out of records, him playing all sorts of cools stuff (he had a lot of sample triggers & such).
Most of these entertainment elements were 'seamless' to the clubgoers as to not disrupt dance floor activity, you could watch and/or pay attention, or you could just dance your butt off. Occasionally, though, we'd do some sort of skit that stopped the action and turned the place into a theater for a couple of minutes (our "Mandatory Union Break" was pretty funny). All in all, it was very successful, as it was varied enough that most everyone found something to really like about it.
When the nightclub wasn't in operation, we'd use the venue for concerts, corporate events, fashion shows, beauty pageants, whatever. I still remember Ford debuting the Escort there (whee!)-- they even had the lady who sang the jingle "Have you driven a Ford... lately?" come sing it live as a surprise to the Ford execs. The wild stories of the "urban" Hair Shows will have to wait.
Anyway, during this same time, MTV was running a show they called "24-Hour Street Party", where Downtown Julie Brown would visit some club in America, they'd tape some segments, and then edit them into a show for broadcast (she'd intro videos 'live' from the club, chat with various people, etc.). They came to ClubLand on November 1 (no, I don't remember that date, someone very nice at Clubland made me a 'scrapbook' of sorts with xeroxes of nearly every event flier and ad we ever had - thanks, Wendy!) and we had SNAP! in concert that night as well as the usual club madness (no, SNAP! wasn't a real band, but they pulled together enough musicians to pull off a tour, just like Inner City and other house music outfits). So, Julie and her camera crew were shooting intros/outros from various places in the club, and also getting quick interviews with bartenders, patrons, and of course... the DJ. Well, I was thinking about what glib and funny things I might say, and Julie came down to the booth to talk to me before recording. She asked me if I had a "handle" as many DJs do (I never used one), and said "OK, we'll be back in a little while to roll tape". Keep in mind, this is in the middle of a screamingly loud room, SNAP! wasn't on stage at the time so I was busy spinning records. Apparently when Julie said "in a little while" she meant "now". She basically turned around, waved her cameraman in, and came right back to me. Her first question, of course, was about "what crazy, cool DJ handle" I used, to which I had to answer "Clay" -- first dork moment of the evening. Then, she says, "Well, CLAY..have you..." and then she turned away from me towards the camera and I couldn't hear what she said. Next thing I know, she has turned back around with the mic in my face... and I got nuthin'. Not to mention, my record is running out and I've got to get the next one going. So I kind of went "...Heh-heh... well..." and had to grab for the turntable. She said some sort of goodbye and they went on to the next bit. Horrible! I was pretty red-faced over it, and had NO idea what she'd said. Much later, after the episode aired and someone got a tape, I found out she'd said "Well, CLAY, have you seen anything really funky go on around here?" -- which I'm not sure I would have had much of an answer for anyway... what kind of a question is that? I guess I could have told her of all the times we'd caught people in flagrante delicto up in the balcony...
Luckily, not that many people really watch MTV. I did have one old girlfriend from Pittsburgh (5 years earlier) call and tell me she saw it, but that was it.
All in all, my 15 minutes seconds of fame was a bust! I did get to spend a little time with DJB though, and she was very friendly and down-to-earth (a refreshing change from TV-types, including one of her predecessors, Mark Goodman, who was a total jerk when I met him years prior).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Six Degrees part II

OK, I promised to mention what got me on my Atlanta kick. A few months ago, I was able to find and purchase a copy of the very first Mother's Finest album (self-titled, RCA from 1972... not to be confused with a second "debut", on CBS in 1976, also self-titled) . This is a rare record that was never released on CD. More recently, I'd decided to record it into my computer & burn it onto CD so I could listen to it wherever. Also, randomly, I came across a copy of The Producers' "You Make the Heat" album at a thrift store. It was in really good shape and now I had more motivation to get the recording done (this album is also unavailable on CD). So, I got to tracking. There were some technical difficulties, however, and I was getting a weird noise on the files. I thought that maybe my cartridge/stylus had something to do with it and began looking for another that I knew I had somewhere. That turned into about a 2-hour search. While I was looking for the needle in the haystack (pun fully intended), I came across a very old address book that had my old Atlanta names/numbers in it.
So here I am recording LPs of Atlanta bands, and find my Atlanta address book. It was all just a little weird. Flipping through, I just started reminiscing a little and wondering about some of the people I'd worked with & been friends with so many years ago.
I decided to "Google" one of my friends, expecting to come up empty (happens with the females, they tend to change last names at some point in life for some reason). Anyway, a hit did come up on a "friends of animals"-type website. She had answered someone's post about how to humanely trap feral cats. I was able to get a message to her through that kittie-pal website and it was indeed my friend, and we have corresponded a little since.
Having moved so many times during my 20s & 30s, it's pretty much impossible to keep up with everyone (and considering I'm terrible at it to begin with, it is a lost cause). So it's always a big deal when I re-connect with someone. Lately, I've re-established some other friendships as well, mostly from Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, it took the death of one of our friends to get us talking again. Some folks are doing great, others have had hard times with illnesses, loss of family members, that sort of thing. Makes me wish I'd been around for them.
Everyone has a story. I guess that's one reason why these blogs are so popular. Even if no one else cares or even reads, you can tell your story. You can tell it when you want, how you want, when the urge strikes. I suppose that's a good thing.

I need to remember to write about the time I got on MTV. Not terribly exciting (and actually a little embarrassing), but fun.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"On The Prowl" (1984)

I figured I'd get my 1984 class project video up on YouTube... it's what you do nowadays, is it not? Some history of the video is on the previous entry. It looks like the audio got way out of sync with the video when this got processed by YouTube (and the video quality is pretty bad -- started with a low-res .wmv file)... but what can you do.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation, Atlanta-Style

I've recently had some nostalgic "deja-vu" moments, all going back to my time in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1983, after getting an AA from St. Petersburg Jr. College (FL), I attended The Music Business Institute in Atlanta. At the time, this school was an independent program founded by Mert Paul, a former CBS executive to give people an overview and real-world instruction in the ways of the music business (It was purchased by the Art Institutes and developed into their recording/production track). One of the "guest lecturers" that came to speak to us during my tenure was Wyzard (Jerry Seay), who was currently the touring bass player for Stevie Nicks. However, Wyz was also a member of Mother's Finest [2], an Atlanta act that had regional success in the 70's and enjoys a cult following today.
That was the first time I'd heard of Mother's Finest. File away "Mother's Finest" in your head.
Also in school, for our video production class, we had to do a project and no one in my class was very pro-active. I'd been listening to a local band called "Bareback", headed by keyboardist Doug Bare.

I approached them and asked if they'd let us shoot a music video with them for our project. They thought it sounded like a hoot, and they'd get a free video out of the deal! The video turned out OK (it was early '84 at the time and MTV was just out of its infancy, remember), and got some play on a local UHF music video channel. My only directing credit!
The guitar player for Bareback was Tommy Strain, who'd been in the one-hit wonder 70s group Starbuck ("Moonlight Feels Right). He is still playing in Atlanta and the "On The Prowl" video is actually available on his website! Thanks, Tommy! You are a sick puppy.
Both Doug and Tommy had toured with Mother's Finest, I believe in 1983. So, another connection.
As another school project, in our Concert Production class, some of us actually did a little field trip for extra credit. The Atlanta Music Awards show was going on and somehow one of our teachers got us to be stagehands for the show. There were some live acts playing, the headliners being The Producers. These guys were phenomenal. Sadly, bad management pretty much robbed them of their stardom. In our Artist Management class, they were the poster children for a raw deal. They too have a huge cult following today and I am a proud fan. The bass player/vocalist for The Producers is Kyle Henderson. Little did I know, Kyle had been in a band called "Whiteface" with Doug Bare back in the late 70s. Ain't this convoluted?

A little later, I found myself working for a nightclub called Confetti and there were a couple of Mother's Finest songs that would always raise the roof off the place ("Baby Love" and "Piece of the Rock"). Now, the nightclub gig wasn't paying the bills at the time, so I picked up a part time job filling phoned-in ticket orders for a venue called Chastain Park. We'd get a pile of credit card slips from the answering service and would verify the cards, pull the tickets, stuff the envelopes, and mail them to the customers. Sounds incredibly exciting, doesn't it? Anyway, one of my coworkers was a lady named Terra Moore. It turns out, she was the wife of Gary "Moses Mo" Moore, the guitar player in, you guessed it, Mother's Finest (MySpace page here). OK, that's enough for the moment. I'll get to the current stuff next time.

Mind-Reading Websites

I use NetFlix for renting movies, as do 5 kajillion others. Anyway, like Tivo, Netflix takes a look at what you've rented/watched in the past and tries to make recommendations of other movies/shows you might like. Netflix doesn't doo too bad of a job, but this one struck me as funny.

According to Netflix, since I enjoyed:
The Passion of the Christ
Coach Carter

They thought they'd recommend:

Of Course! Who wouldn't? Seriously, though -- what's the connection? None of the above were comedies, that's for sure. This just don't make no sense.

Friday, August 10, 2007


OK, this is too cool. You'll need an uploadable photo of yourself and a few minutes for 'tweaking', but this is genius!

Here's me:

And here's the site:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Anyone Need A House In Florida?


It has now been over one year and my parents still can't sell their house in St. Petersburg.
My heart just aches for them, I know that they are not enjoying this one little bit. But, at the same time, I am frustrated.
Many of the problems that have occurred during the saga stem from their trusting nature (or is it Naivety?) plus the fact that they, for some reason, decided to sell their old home by themselves. No fixing up, no improvements, no consideration of curb appeal, etc. So now the house sits looking "unlived in" without a lick of furniture inside, and nothing to help the looks of the outside either. I'll spare you the details of the debacle involving the people who they let move in, on a "promise" that they could qualify for a loan (hint: it didn't end well).
My take (and that of my siblings) is that if they are serious, they need to invest a little money and update the bathrooms and kitchen... OR just cut their price to make the place attractive to someone looking for a 'fixer-upper'. Of course, they think they should get appraised value (well, they did -- just got word that they've dropped the price some).
The good news is that this house is long since paid for, so at least there's not a payment. But taxes, the new mortgage on their new house, etc. are putting the squeeze on them. If I lived closer, I might swipe their keys and go do some work on the place. But from here, there's nothing I can do. I don't have the cash to buy the place or even pay for remodeling. If I could, I'd buy it and rent it out. But that's just a fantasy. With my prestigious, high-paying job, I can't even buy a house for myself to LIVE in, much less take on a rental property.
As much as this eats at me, I can only imagine what they are going through. They do finally have a Realtor, but I don't think he's lifted a finger to actually try to move the house (case in point: He had a lame open house on Father's Day! Who does that?).
I know they love the house and neighborhood they are in now, so that's some consolation, but this selling problem just grows slowly more painful every day.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Duckling Responsibility

Here's a story from my childhood. It came to mind the other day -- why, I do not know.

I grew up in St. Petersburg, FL in a neighborhood that was near a golf course. This golf course was built with a connected network of ponds and creeks that fed into (or were fed by) Lake Maggiore. Most of the bodies of water were created as water hazards for the golfers, and also served as some decent fishing for a little kid with a cane pole. There were lots of bream, catfish and even a few bass to catch. In addition to the fish, several other wildlife species were in abundance. Turtles, ducks, cranes, herons, alligators, snakes, etc. could all be found.

One Summer day, I was fishing and generally bumping around when I noticed a little duckling in the creek that was by itself, swimming around peeping its little heart out. I realized that he had somehow gotten separated from his family, as mama duck and several other ducklings were actually in the larger pond across the street.
An older kid from the neighborhood was riding by on his bike and had stopped to ask me if I was catching anything. I pointed out the situation. We decided, as kids will do, that it was our duty, our mission, to reunite this lone peeper with his family.
Johnny (Harell, of the Harrell brothers) told me that we couldn't touch the duckling or the mother would reject it. So, we were in a quandary as to what to do. We decided that we would just sort of corral the little guy and drive him towards his mama. This involved a trip under the street in one of two culverts, but they were plenty big enough for us to navigate and the water level was low enough that we'd only be ankle deep or so as we went through. So, we jumped into the creek and started making a little racket as we approached the intrepid yellow fuzzball. He began swimming away from us and towards the culvert as planned. We continued the duckling drive for probably 15 minutes (ducklings don't cover a lot of ground... err, water, very quickly) as he made his way under the street. Once he came through on the other side, he caught sight of his mom and siblings. We were feeling pretty happy about our good deed as he sped up his efforts and started off in their direction. The family convoy was cruising across the pond and was headed to the far side in their instinctive single-file platoon, with Mom leading the way. Our little hero was paddling furiously to catch up. As he was gaining on them, and the whole posse was getting fairly close to shore, we were actually cheering him on while putting our shoes back on. Then our mood was suddenly destroyed as we saw the ominous black lump break the surface several yards behind the group. Alligator! The ducks noticed the predator as well and Mama started quacking like crazy and picked up the pace. Our little guy was still catching up as the reptilian beast began slowly cruising up behind. We were screaming at the gator and throwing rocks at it, but it was out of our range and wasn't deterred. It maintained its leisurely pace. The ducks were really stepping on it, and finally Mama, then the first duckling reached shore. All of the others were close behind, and even our buddy was just about caught up to the last one in line. Sometimes I think the alligator was showing off. He just kept cruising at altitude, slowly gaining on the train of web-footed flappers. One by one, the ducklings were making it to shore as Mama frantically quacked her head off. I don't know if she was trying to egg them on or to distract the gator, perhaps both. Now all of the ducklings but our prodigal son had made it to shore. And with perfect, deadly timing, just as this helpless little trooper was about to jump up onto dry land... chomp. One quick snap of prehistoric jaws and that was it.
Johnny, who was sort of a tough kid, started cussing the alligator out with tears in his eyes as it slipped below the surface with utter nonchalance. I was inconsolable. I sobbed my little heart out for what seemed like hours, walking home, trying to tell my mom what had happened in that wracked, hitching, way that only kids can achieve when their nascent sense of justice, fair play and altruism has just been crushed along with the tiny body of one of God's cutest creatures. That freakin' hurt. My parents told me how proud they were that Johnny and I had worked so hard and so smartly to reunite the duckling with his mother, and I think they tried to tell me a little about nature and food chains and stuff, but I wasn't having any of it. It just wasn't right.
That was a crappy day. I wish I had some silver lining to this story, how it steeled my resolve to always help the downtrodden no matter what, or that I awoke to the wonders of the circle of life or something, but I didn't. It's just one of those painful childhood memories. Stupid alligator.

The Madness Continues

If the ice cream were not bad enough, now Starbucks is going to raise their prices due to the increase in dairy costs.
Where's Susan Powter when you need her?

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Ethanol Stupidity

I am not supposed to call the ethanol lobby "Raca", but I will say their actions are not brilliant. The latest casualty in the corn-fuel madness? Ice Cream. Yep, our favorite dessert is likely going to cost more... why? The cost of corn is skyrocketing as more and more is being used for ethanol instead of feeding cattle. If you remember 2nd grade chemistry, you know that ice cream is made from, well, cream. Cream, comes from cows. Cows eat (wait for it)... corn. We could debate the wisdom of using corn for cattle feed, since a "free range" cow would eat grass, as God intended. However, in the commercial dairy industry, the cows basically stand still all day, feeding on corn, and vacuum hoses are connected to the nether regions to extract milk. A little biological factory. So, if the cost of feed corn rises, the cost of milk rises. The ice cream makers are stuck.

Here's a quick quote from an article, the rest of which can be found here:
This month, the price of milk in the United States surged to a near-record in part because of the increasing costs of feeding a dairy herd. The corn feed used to feed cattle has almost doubled in price in a year as demand has grown for the grain to produce ethanol.

If Bill Clinton were still president, I'm sure he'd do something about all this now that ice cream is feeling the pressure.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

I Are Smart!

Well, this is a relief. Crazy quizzes! I apparently deserve my high school diploma. Sweet validation!

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Is this blandness?

Taking a suggestion from my friend Rebecca, I tried this little quiz. I think our results are quite similar! We apparently don't have much of an accent. Does that sound boring? Hmmm, no. I would rather have the Midland (whatever that is) sound than a complete hillbilly, or worse, Ted Kennedy. Hahdy hah hah (that's Hardy har har in Bostonian). Their little description is fairly accurate, however -- I was born & raised in Florida, have lived in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Detroit, Chicago and now Houston... so maybe all that moving around has erased any accent I once may have had. Who knows!

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The South
The Inland North
The West
The Northeast
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Thursday, July 12, 2007


OH my goodness. Sometimes you see a movie that is so bad, it's good.
This is the case with 1985's Rappin', starring Mario Van Peebles and featuring a pre-ER Eriq LaSalle and a pre-A Different World Kadeem Hardison, and even an uncredited Ice-T (isn't that reason enough to put this in your Netflix queue?). Now, this may be a cult favorite for all I know, but I managed to miss it the first time around (But I did see Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo!). It must have some street cred, as it features the Force MD's performing "Itchin' for a Scratch", and Claudja Barry performing "Born to Love".

Anyway, how did I come to watch this little chestnut? Well, a few weeks ago, I went to see Spamalot with some good friends. Reading the playbill, I noticed that the understudy for "The Lady of the Lake" was Lyn Philistine, someone I'd worked with briefly in San Antonio back in 1998 (that's a whole 'nother story, believe me!). I didn't get a chance to find Lyn, as Spamalot was in its final days in Houston.

Anyway, this sparked my curiosity to see if this lovely and talented songbird had been involved in other productions over the years. Gotta love Google!. I saw that she was credited with a non-speaking role in Rappin', simply listed as "girl". Naturally, I had to get the movie.

Well, Lyn looked as cute as ever as a (I'm guessing) 12-year-old in the few minutes of film she got, but the experience of watching the rest of the movie was, well, hilarious. This movie has some elements that were 80's staples: A reformed street hoodlum (Van Peebles, imaginatively cast as -- I'm not kidding -- John Hood), dance-offs, urban kids using music (rap in this case) to combat societal ills and stick it to The Man, and a record contract in the balance. The actual raps, even for 1985, were so corny that they had to be written by 40+ year old white guys (You haven't lived until you've heard "Snack Attack", where Van Peeble's gang taunts their overweight comrade -- possible inspiration for the Fat Boys?). The acting is pretty horrible, as one might expect, but works as unintentional self-parody in these later years. The script doesn't qualify this as a "blaxploitation" flick, but it does have the similar "story of the ghetto written by someone who's never seen one" feel. Hood's gang rival, Duane (if that ain't a gangsta name, I dont' know what is), gets to say "Two's company, three's a crowd" AND "Hey? Hay is for horses" within seconds of each other during a very tense club scene... and it just keeps getting better.

My recommendation? Get some friends together and do your own version of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It's worth it. Spoiler alert: The coolest (only?) car in the movie other than cop cars is a Chrysler LeBaron.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Happy birthday, America!
Hope you don't get so senile in your 200's that you forget that you really are special.

Shady People

Good grief.As if there aren't any real issues out there to get all hot & bothered about. Now some busybody has decided that humans take too much of the sun's energy (which, of course, deprives other species of this horribly limited resource). I'm scared!
Now, if there were some way to predict that the sun, after disappearing during the time we call "night" would come back again, perhaps we could relax a little. But until that happens, I'm afraid that our greed in utilizing what could be the last known rays of light and energy may, at any time, doom us all.
By the way, I hope you aren't drinking water, because the fish need it to swim in. You greedy human, you.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Hiding Behind the Skirt of Mommy... err, Wifey

It's only June (well, July once I finish this, perhaps) of 2007 yet the talk radio shows, news programs, "debate shows" (or whatever you call the "two-sides-of-an-issue-yelling-
at-each-other-with-no-resolution" shows) and opinion info-tainment shows seem to be obsessed with the presidential race. OH wait, that's because the candidates are already full steam ahead. I suppose if I had the energy or desire to go check the records, it may be that this isn't ridiculously early to be diving into the circus that is our electoral process, but it sure seems like we're a long ways out.
Anyway, I have a bone to pick with the lone "good hair" candidate on the Democrat side, John Edwards. Some months ago, I blogged about Ann Coulter and her now infamous "the other f-word" remark (post here). She was making an attempt at a joke shortly after the Isiah Washington debacle (and see how that turned out!). Anyway, after that, the Edwards camp used her "hate speech" (hey, didn't I talk about that, too?) to raise money for his campaign.
Well, fast forward a little and you may recall that Mr. Edwards was too much of a sissy to attend a debate hosted by Fox News (along with other "D" candidates). Apparently the abject fear of hard questions (and not completely controlling the debate) was just too much. Boo hoo. Didn't the Republicans appear on MSNBC? Hmmm...
Now, just the other night, Ann Coulter actually appeared on "Hardball" with Chris Matthews. This showed a lot of spunk, but Ann realizes that any publicity may help sell books, of which she has penned several best-sellers. Now, while she is smartly parrying with the manic Matthews, a "spontaneous" call comes in (it wasn't a call-in show, and no one else called in... so you think it was really spontaneous? Ha!). Who is it on the line? John Edwards, Ann's "arch enemy" and "victim" of her "personal attacks"? No, it's his wife, Elizabeth. HUH? The WIFE of the candidate? What the heck is that? So, Elizabeth goes into this long-winded explanation of how she wants to take this opportunity to "politely ask" Ann to "Stop it with the personal attacks". Apparently the only people allowed to make personal attacks are Democrats in Congress (e.g. John Murtha), Left-wing TV hosts (e.g. Bill Maher), and Hollywood liberals (e.g. Spike Lee). Ann reminded Mrs. Edwards that they are making money due to her so-called attack, and defended her (now three year old) column about Edwards using the tragedy of his son's death for political points. None of this matters, of course, Ann isn't in Congress or running for office.
What kills me though, is that Mrs. Edwards actually blamed Ann and others (all conservatives, of course) for the dwindling percentage of voters!! Here's the coffee, lady, SMELL IT. People are fed up with OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS, not talk radio or Fox News. Congress' approval rating is at 14%!!! I think people are fed up with hypocrisy, lies and inaction, not shrill commentators.
One other point -- why didn't sissy John have the stones to call in and confront Ann? Sending your cancer-stricken wife to do your dirty work is the lowest and weakest thing I think I've ever seen from someone who actually considers himself fit to lead the last Superpower on Earth. Even when Ann is sitting in the lion's den, taking the best Matthews could dish out with her usual sarcastic (but truthful) wit. I especially enjoyed it when Mrs. Edwards said "...I want to use the opportunity, which I don‘t get much, because Ann and I don‘t hang out with the same people..." to which Ann snuck in "I don't have enough money" -- Brilliant.
Folks, you could lock up Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and any other famous conservative with a microphone, and guess what -- Congress would still suck. People will still be fed up. If the "mean-spirited" (read: not mouthpieces for the left) talkers are silenced, that won't change the fact that the "new era of responsibility" that was supposed to be realized when the Democrats took control has simply NOT happened. More earmarks, another pay raise (what, you didn't hear about that?), more attempts to bilk us out of our money, and a ridiculous bill on illegal immigration are what is turning people off.
I weep for the future of this country. I really do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ethanol or Tequila?


The ridiculous push for Ethanol has even driven Mexican Agave farmers to burn off their tequila-producing agave land and plant it with corn so they can cash in on the ethanol craze.

Here's a little insight into the ethanol hoax, reprinted without any permission or anything from The American Enterprise Online:

The most perverse aspect of subsidized ethanol production was uncovered by David Pimentel. He calculates that it actually consumes more energy to produce a gallon of ethanol than the ethanol itself provides. While a 2002 report from the Department of Agriculture claims that increased corn yields have converted ethanol from a net energy waste to a net energy gain, Pimentel’s 2003 study maintains that ethanol uses 29 percent more energy than it creates due to tractor fuel, irrigation pumps, and other inputs. According to Pimentel, 99,119 BTUs of energy are expended to create the 77,000 BTUs in a gallon of ethanol. In other words, the government is keeping farmers busy by paying them to waste energy.

Of course, the other fun thing is that our government (read: Senators in corn-producing states) has decided to subsidize the corn farmers, since if the "playing field were level" (hey, wait - aren't liberals always bitching about uneven playing fields?) the cost of growing corn would make ethanol more expensive than gasoline. So now Archer-Daniels-Midland gets something about $400 Million a year from the government to grow corn in South Dakota and Iowa (hmm, they have primaries in Iowa, don't they?). Land that should be left alone as forest or meadow is now being stripped and fertilized for corn crops, which adds tons of nitrate contamination (another baddie according to all the greenies!) to groundwater. And burning ethanol, far from being "cleaner" than petrol actually adds more crap to the air, water, and soil when you factor in the fertilizing, farming equipment, irrigation, production and the ethanol exhaust itself.
And don't forget, many states have mandated ethanol content in their gas (and therefore mandated subsidies) - which, if eliminated, would actually help the environment, not hurt it.

But, hey. Don't let facts get in the way of feel-good greenspeak! Corn is renewable! Who cares how much it costs to produce! Who cares if it artificially drives the cost of feed corn and food corn (that'd be corn for animals and people to eat, respectively) through the roof! The mamacitas in Mexico aren't going to be able to afford to make tortillas! But who cares! Poverty and starvation in Mexico ain't our problem, we have to quit burning oil!

Jeez. Does it ever end? Here is a good article with more scholarly presentation than my venting.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fat Lazy Americans, Indeed!

And I thought I was a couch potato. Jeez.

nicked from LiveJournal

Monday, May 21, 2007

Insect Slapstick

Pretty cool. Apparently it is a Samsung commercial for very thin phones...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Three Amigos Trivia

After viewing the comedy classic "The Three Amigos" this weekend, I was digging around for information on one of the kids in the movie ("...can I have your watch when you are dead?"). He looks familiar, like he may be "someone" now. Anyway, I couldn't find anything. But I did see that Sam Kinison actually had a cameo role but it got cut. Wikipedia says:

He had a supporting role as a Mexican bandit in the 1986 movie ¡Three Amigos!, but his scene was cut. Kinison believed this was due to Chevy Chase being jealous of how Kinison stole several scenes in Back to School.

I also wonder, knowing Sam's "colorful" vocabulary, if his scene might have garnered the film an "R" rating instead of the more socially acceptable "PG-13". Incidentally, the descripion of PG-13 might read: "Some material may not be suitable for viewers under 13, or your Baptist Singles Department gathering". Is there a movie made for grown-ups that is actually funny without resorting to locker-room humor? I wonder...

Hate Crime Update

Sometimes you have to wonder at the blatant pandering of our wonderful elected officials. I mentioned HR 1592 in a previous post, and the House actually passed it. Unbelievable.
Thankfully, President Bush has pledged to veto it (this would only be his third or fourth, I believe).
In an email newsletter, Congressman Ron Paul summed up the unconstitutionality (hey, don't let that old piece of paper get in the way of pandering to gays and minorities! We got votes to buy!) of the resolution, and it bears reading:

May 7, 2007

Last week, the House of Representatives acted with disdain for the Constitution and individual liberty by passing HR 1592, a bill creating new federal programs to combat so-called “hate crimes.” The legislation defines a hate crime as an act of violence committed against an individual because of the victim’s race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. Federal hate crime laws violate the Tenth Amendment’s limitations on federal power. Hate crime laws may also violate the First Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech and religion by criminalizing speech federal bureaucrats define as “hateful.”

There is no evidence that local governments are failing to apprehend and prosecute criminals motivated by prejudice, in comparison to the apprehension and conviction rates of other crimes. Therefore, new hate crime laws will not significantly reduce crime. Instead of increasing the effectiveness of law enforcement, hate crime laws undermine equal justice under the law by requiring law enforcement and judicial system officers to give priority to investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. Of course, all decent people should condemn criminal acts motivated by prejudice. But why should an assault victim be treated by the legal system as a second-class citizen because his assailant was motivated by greed instead of hate?

HR 1592, like all hate crime laws, imposes a longer sentence on a criminal motivated by hate than on someone who commits the same crime with a different motivation. Increasing sentences because of motivation goes beyond criminalizing acts; it makes it a crime to think certain thoughts. Criminalizing even the vilest hateful thoughts--as opposed to willful criminal acts--is inconsistent with a free society.

HR 1592 could lead to federal censorship of religious or political speech on the grounds that the speech incites hate. Hate crime laws have been used to silence free speech and even the free exercise of religion. For example, a Pennsylvania hate crime law has been used to prosecute peaceful religious demonstrators on the grounds that their public Bible readings could incite violence. One of HR 1592’s supporters admitted that this legislation could allow the government to silence a preacher if one of the preacher’s parishioners commits a hate crime. More evidence that hate crime laws lead to censorship came recently when one member of Congress suggested that the Federal Communications Commission ban hate speech from the airwaves.

Hate crime laws not only violate the First Amendment, they also violate the Tenth Amendment. Under the United States Constitution, there are only three federal crimes: piracy, treason, and counterfeiting. All other criminal matters are left to the individual states. Any federal legislation dealing with criminal matters not related to these three issues usurps state authority over criminal law and takes a step toward turning the states into mere administrative units of the federal government.

Because federal hate crime laws criminalize thoughts, they are incompatible with a free society. Fortunately, President Bush has pledged to veto HR 1592. Of course, I would vote to uphold the president’s veto.

As much as I think Bush has messed up, he gets some things right. This is definitely one of them. Texans may recall that he wouldn't sign hate crime legislation into law in this great state - and the NAACP created one of the most disgusting, polarizing, divisive, race-baiting commercials ever to air on the "public airwaves" (but Imus had to lose his job... I digress). They ran "re-enactment" video of the James Byrd dragging incident while his daughter provided the voiceover: "(I)t was like my father was killed all over again." because Governor Bush wouldn't sign the hate crime bill. Hmmm. Two of the three perpetrators got the death penalty and the third got life in prison. What more is there? You get killed "extra good" if it's a hate crime? Besides, I thought the NAACP was against the death penalty because too many blacks get death sentences. Oh wait... if it's white guys, they're all for it (and then some!), apparently.

Friday, May 04, 2007

For Noelle

Cibo Matto - "Sugar Water" video

I was reminded of this while watching Bajo Fondo's "Perfume" video over at Noelle's blog. Lots of split/multiple screen stuff!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How is This Not "Hate Speech"?

Well, we can all rest easier now. Rage Against The Machine has reunited. Lead singer Zack de la Rocha apparently missed the Imus debacle:

Stomping, shouting into his microphone, grabbing his curly hair and inciting the audience to "keep fighting," de la Rocha powered through songs ranging from the bass heavy "Bulls on Parade" to the anthem "Killing in the Name."

He also railed against the war in Iraq and likened Bush administration officials to Nazi war criminals.

"This current administration is no exception. They should be tried and hung and shot," he said.

So, if you make an idiotic comment about some basketball players, you pay with your career. If you compare your President and his administration to Nazis, then call for their death... what, you're some kind of visionary? A hero? A role model?

If he had said it "on the public airwaves", would that been a problem? That's the excuse for the "Imus outrage". Somehow, I doubt it. After all, why would we care what a rapper/singer says when we let sitting members of Congress compare the administration and even our troops to Nazis & Commmunists and call them (in the case of the military) terrorists (Kerry) and cold-blooded murderers (Murtha). We obviously have higher expectations of our shock-jocks than our elected officials.

By the way, keep your ears open for the latest "if we repeat it often enough, people will believe it's official" term: "Hate Speech". It's been used somewhat in the past, but there's going to be a full-court press to shove it into the American lexicon as a catch-phrase, hopefully leading to sweeping unconstitutional legislation violating the 1st amendment. Just like "Separation of Church and State", or "Hate Crimes", it will be in so many sound bites that people will start parroting "Hey, that's hate speech" and assume that somehow it's illegal. Then will come the laws. Check out HR 1592. It's coming.

Of course, "hate speech" will only refer to white male conservatives saying things that any non-white, non-male, or non-conservative finds unpleasant. Calling the President a Nazi is Free Speech, saying he and his administration should be shot is Free Speech... but asking to be seated with English-speaking students in your elementary school is Hate Speech. See the difference?

Hey kids, open wide! Here comes another heapin' fork full of Double Standard Pie! Yum!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stick Control!! Stick Control!

I just read that in Brooklyn, an 12-year-old boy was "impaled in the head" with a stick by an 11-yr-old boy. The victim is clinging to life in the hospital. This is a blatant indictment of our "stick culture" and raises serious social questions:
1. How was the male child able to get his hands on a stick?
2. Why have we made it so easy to acquire sticks?
3. Was this not a stick-free zone?

Clearly, by restricting access to sticks, we could avoid such ruthless attacks. Had it not been so easy for this troubled pre-teen (surely we'll soon find that this 11-yr-old was "teased" and likely "pushed down" by others in his short life) to get a stick, perhaps he would have "used his words", not only for the "give me your change" part of the attack, but also the last part of the confrontation after the victim refused.

Why didn't the victim simply quickly surrender?

According to Tom Plate, former editor of the editorial pages at the Los Angeles Times, quickly responding to the assailant's requests (surrendering) would have been the thing to do, as he did when mugged at gunpoint recently.

Mr. Plate also points out that in his opinion, the "NRA mantra" of "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" is flat out wrong. He asserts that the people at VATech were, in fact, killed by a 9 mm handgun and a .22 caliber handgun.

So, by Mr. Plate's esteemed logic, the 12-yr-old boy has been attacked by a STICK. Not a crazy 11-year-old. People don't impale people in the head, sticks impale people in the head.

I say then it is high time we get sticks off of our streets. Perhaps law enforcement may be permitted to carry sticks. If Teddy Roosevelt were still alive, he might be afforded a stick, although probably not a big one, as those are scary and can only be meant for one thing: Impaling someone in the head.

No one needs to have a stick. We certainly don't need to allow for people to keep a stick on them in a public place. It's also time to go after the stick manufacturers. This would include the Louisville Slugger people, and, well... trees. If we could remove those menaces to society, we need never read such a tragic tale again.

Oh, and Mr. Plate... I'll humor you for a moment and remove all blame from the psycopath who loaded, pointed, and pulled the trigger... and place the blame on the hardware. However, even in your idiotic assertion, you should be condemning the BULLETS, which actually entered the bodies of the victims, causing the wounds that in 33 cases lead to death. Even in your twisted logic, Guns don't kill people, bullets kill people. If you're going to misplace your anger, at least misplace it properly.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


So, for some reason I haven't been feeling real well lately. I think if this were 18th century England it might be described as "a general malaise".

I'm finishing up a book called "This Beautiful Mess" (My friend Camille said "Oh, is it your biography?" - cracked me up!) by Rick McKinley. The subtitle is "Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God". It's the kind of book that bears a second read and some serious study. Go get it.

Someone smashed the window of an SUV two cars away from mine at the apartment complex. Don't know whose it was. Don't know if it was an attempted theft of stuff inside the vehicle or the vehicle itself. Makes me a little more paranoid, yet glad I drive a cheap car.

When I moved into this apartment complex, I think I was about the youngest person here. That's changing, however, not just because I'm getting older, but there is a different 'element' starting to move in. A little more hanging out in the parking lot, a lot more extremely loud stereos in cars, more "thugwear", more skateboards, etc. More mess in the laundry rooms. More noise late at night. Great.

I haven't really talked to anyone in almost two weeks. What's up with that? I mean, I still speak to people at work, when I'm amongst people, and all... but haven't really initiated a conversation with anyone. I think it's part of the 'general malaise'.

Why does everything have a ton of sugar in it? There's ONE cereal that isn't loaded with sugar -- shredded wheat. Great. Tasty. Need a snack in the middle of the afternoon? Sugar. Starbucks has all of these convenience store items, "frappucino", "double shot"... why don't they make a sugar-free or unsweetened version?

Sleep now.

Friday, April 20, 2007

We're Raising a Nation of Babies

In all of the ridiculous coverage of the Virginia Tech murders, I have wondered just how this guy roamed up and down the halls, even RETURNING to classrooms he previously entered and was able to shoot so many people. Is the 76-year old Liviu Librescu the only person there who thought to try to do something about it? We have emasculated our boys, telling them that "violence is never the answer", "use your words", "use your inside voice", "here is some medicine called Ritalin to make you feel better", "fighting is wrong - you can always walk away", ad nauseum. Where was the guy who says "enough" and whips a backpack full of college textbooks at this psychopath and jumps his scrawny ass? No one thought to pick up a desk and rush him? No one came up behind him and brained him with a fire extinguisher?

Of course, sadly, the real answer here would have been a responsible citizen carrying a gun. Oh, sure, guns are scary. Especially in the hands of a mentally deranged moron in a full break with reality. But the gun in the hand of a trained, responsible CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA would have looked like HEAVEN to these now dead and wounded people. The proverbial knight on the white horse. A person who, with practiced discipline, could have taken this piece of scum OUT, saving who knows how many lives.

But no. We are to cower and wait for the authorities. Dial 911 and "stay on the line, let me try to decide if your call rates a response." Let the 'trained professionals' deal with an "alleged perpetrator." Believe me, when a crazy killer is emptying his magazine and reloading, you can safely assume that (a) he's not going to reason with anyone, (b) he's not going to wait until the police arrive, and (c) you are next.

I don't fault anyone for diving out a window. Self-preservation is a powerful instinct. But where was the person who takes to heart "and this is Love, that a man lay down his life for his friends"? Where was the person to say "Not in MY school, you don't"... where was the action? Are we really raising a generation of soft, "it's not my place to judge, therefore I can't take action" wusses? It surely seems so at VaTech. Hokie Pride apparently doesn't extend to protecting your Hokie brothers and sisters.

This column below points out the heroism of ordinary citizens.Nicely Done. Maybe former actors make the best presidents. I'm about ready to see if Fred Thompson would be as good as Reagan... Check it out -- Spot on!

April 20, 2007, 0:31 a.m.

Signs of Intelligence?

By Fred Thompson

One of the things that's got to be going through a lot of peoples' minds now is how one man with two handguns, that he had to reload time and time again, could go from classroom to classroom on the Virginia Tech campus without being stopped. Much of the answer can be found in policies put in place by the university itself.

Virginia, like 39 other states, allows citizens with training and legal permits to carry concealed weapons. That means that Virginians regularly sit in movie theaters and eat in restaurants among armed citizens. They walk, joke, and rub shoulders everyday with people who responsibly carry firearms — and are far safer than they would be in San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit, Chicago, New York City, or Washington, D.C., where such permits are difficult or impossible to obtain.

The statistics are clear. Communities that recognize and grant Second Amendment rights to responsible adults have a significantly lower incidence of violent crime than those that do not. More to the point, incarcerated criminals tell criminologists that they consider local gun laws when they decide what sort of crime they will commit, and where they will do so.

Still, there are a lot of people who are just offended by the notion that people can carry guns around. They view everybody, or at least many of us, as potential murderers prevented only by the lack of a convenient weapon. Virginia Tech administrators overrode Virginia state law and threatened to expel or fire anybody who brings a weapon onto campus.

In recent years, however, armed Americans — not on-duty police officers — have successfully prevented a number of attempted mass murders. Evidence from Israel, where many teachers have weapons and have stopped serious terror attacks, has been documented. Supporting, though contrary, evidence from Great Britain, where strict gun controls have led to violent crime rates far higher than ours, is also common knowledge.

So Virginians asked their legislators to change the university's "concealed carry" policy to exempt people 21 years of age or older who have passed background checks and taken training classes. The university, however, lobbied against that bill, and a top administrator subsequently praised the legislature for blocking the measure.

The logic behind this attitude baffles me, but I suspect it has to do with a basic difference in worldviews. Some people think that power should exist only at the top, and everybody else should rely on "the authorities" for protection.

Despite such attitudes, average Americans have always made up the front line against crime. Through programs like Neighborhood Watch and Amber Alert, we are stopping and catching criminals daily. Normal people tackled "shoe bomber" Richard Reid as he was trying to blow up an airliner. It was a truck driver who found the D.C. snipers. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that civilians use firearms to prevent at least a half million crimes annually.

When people capable of performing acts of heroism are discouraged or denied the opportunity, our society is all the poorer. And from the selfless examples of the passengers on Flight 93 on 9/11 to Virginia Tech professor Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who sacrificed himself to save his students earlier this week, we know what extraordinary acts of heroism ordinary citizens are capable of.

Many other universities have been swayed by an anti-gun, anti-self defense ideology. I respect their right to hold those views, but I challenge their decision to deny Americans the right to protect themselves on their campuses — and then proudly advertise that fact to any and all.

Whenever I've seen one of those "Gun-free Zone" signs, especially outside of a school filled with our youngest and most vulnerable citizens, I've always wondered exactly who these signs are directed at. Obviously, they don't mean much to the sort of man who murdered 32 people just a few days ago.

— Fred Thompson is an actor and former United States senator from Tennessee.

National Review Online -

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This is Brilliant!

Forget my incoherent ramblings. Check out Jason Whitlock's comments:

Quoted from the Kansas City Star, 4/11/07:

Imus isn’t the real bad guy
Instead of wasting time on irrelevant shock jock, black leaders need to be fighting a growing gangster culture.

Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.

You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.

You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.

Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.

The bigots win again.

While we’re fixated on a bad joke cracked by an irrelevant, bad shock jock, I’m sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent’s or Snoop Dogg’s or Young Jeezy’s latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos.

I ain’t saying Jesse, Al and Vivian are gold-diggas, but they don’t have the heart to mount a legitimate campaign against the real black-folk killas.

It is us. At this time, we are our own worst enemies. We have allowed our youths to buy into a culture (hip hop) that has been perverted, corrupted and overtaken by prison culture. The music, attitude and behavior expressed in this culture is anti-black, anti-education, demeaning, self-destructive, pro-drug dealing and violent.

Rather than confront this heinous enemy from within, we sit back and wait for someone like Imus to have a slip of the tongue and make the mistake of repeating the things we say about ourselves.

It’s embarrassing. Dave Chappelle was offered $50 million to make racially insensitive jokes about black and white people on TV. He was hailed as a genius. Black comedians routinely crack jokes about white and black people, and we all laugh out loud.

I’m no Don Imus apologist. He and his tiny companion Mike Lupica blasted me after I fell out with ESPN. Imus is a hack.

But, in my view, he didn’t do anything outside the norm for shock jocks and comedians. He also offered an apology. That should’ve been the end of this whole affair. Instead, it’s only the beginning. It’s an opportunity for Stringer, Jackson and Sharpton to step on victim platforms and elevate themselves and their agenda$.

I watched the Rutgers news conference and was ashamed.

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke for eight minutes in 1963 at the March on Washington. At the time, black people could be lynched and denied fundamental rights with little thought. With the comments of a talk-show host most of her players had never heard of before last week serving as her excuse, Vivian Stringer rambled on for 30 minutes about the amazing season her team had.

Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that the comments of a man with virtually no connection to the sports world ruined Rutgers’ wonderful season. Had a broadcaster with credibility and a platform in the sports world uttered the words Imus did, I could understand a level of outrage.

But an hourlong press conference over a man who has already apologized, already been suspended and is already insignificant is just plain intellectually dishonest. This is opportunism. This is a distraction.

In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.

No. We all know where the real battleground is. We know that the gangsta rappers and their followers in the athletic world have far bigger platforms to negatively define us than some old white man with a bad radio show. There’s no money and lots of danger in that battle, so Jesse and Al are going to sit it out.