I wonder if those applauding the recent Supreme Court decision to expand the meaning of the right to privacy will support efforts in California to protect another small piece of individual privacy? Probably not. It doesn't fit in with their political agendas. If the sodomy-for-everyone crowd can use personal privacy as a reason strike down silly laws in Texas then why can't the who-wants-to-know-what-race-I-am crowd use privacy to eliminate a silly requirement on most government applications?
Looking at who is lined up against this California initiative and the reasons they give for their opposition makes me wonder if the definition of racism has changed while I was asleep. I always thought that the KKK and the like were the only ones who favored making laws and governmental rules and regulations that were race-based. These organizations that are against the initiative are almost always against police using racial profiling as well but always favor using racial profiling in other situations when it benefits them.
College admissions policies seem to resemble, in a way, the white and 'colored' drinking fountains I saw as a kid. I secretly drank out of the 'forbidden' one once just to see if it was different or if I would die or someone would pop out of the bushes and arrest me. The fountains were like that to make someone feel good and not for any practical purpose.
I have, for years, been checking race boxes on applications randomly as a protest of the racial profiling stupidity. Is it really necessary for me to declare a race on an application for a mortgage? Does that tell the lender whether or not am I credit-worthy? I hope not. It is none of the bank's business what race I am. It doesn't matter and I don't really know anyway. Do you?
The Federation for American Immigration Reform group writes:
As currently written, the Gephardt amnesty would: » Grant immediate green cards to not only the estimated 8 to 11 million illegal aliens currently residing in the U.S., but also to their spouses and minor children who may be living outside the country. In addition they would become immediately eligible for all federal and state welfare benefits available to legal immigrants. » Give the relatives of illegal aliens admission priority over the relatives of legal immigrants. » Accept attestations of continuous presence and/or employment in the U.S. in lieu of proof of the fact that an applicant has lived in this country long enough to be eligible for amnesty. » Bar the INS from deporting illegal aliens who might qualify for amnesty until final regulations are written - a period which could take years. » Qualify illegal aliens who have been deported and who subsequently returned to the U.S. Moreover, the period during which they were outside the U.S. will count towards the requirement of continuous presence. » Designate nongovernmental organizations to process applications. This is an open invitation to fraud since both the government and the public will be barred from access to their records. Among the fraudulent recipients of the 1986 amnesty was one of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. » Broadly allow denials of amnesty to be challenged in federal courts, creating the potential for years of delay and unimaginable litigation costs.This is a very bad idea.
Over the years I have seen lots of odd things happen while seated at a blackjack table. I could fill this page up with stories about Louise, Hot Damn Harry, and the kid with a million dollars in bills that was neatly stacked next to him on a cart. Rather than do that I am going to let some of you benefit from my years of experience. No hot tips on how to beat the game. No big insights about strategy or money management. Just one piece of advice for those of you who have never gambled before or have been doing it for a short time. Write this down. LEARN HOW TO PLAY!!
Everytime I play somewhere I see someone who has no idea what the game is about sit down and literally give their money away. If you really want to give money away give it to me or some worthy charity, don't give it to the nice people at the casino. Find someone who knows what is called the basic strategy and have them teach it to you as you learn how to play. There are even computer programs that can teach you. It is not hard.
Sometimes you will see people at the blackjack table smiling at you after you have asked for a hit or told the dealer you want to stay. It is not because they are friendly. It is because they think that you are a fool. If you do not know the basic strategy of blackjack they know that you are giving your money away.
I have seen people who do not know squat about blackjack win serious money because they have an incredible lucky streak. One beautiful young lady (blonde, of course), who had just turned 21 the night before and was very drunk and had no idea what she was doing let alone where she was, won thousands of dollars at a table where I was playing. She started with $20. She made every bad play in the book but she was about as lucky as anyone I had ever seen. It can happen but if you play blackjack very long without knowing the basic strategy most of the time you will leave one heck of a lot poorer than when you sat down. Those will be some very expensive lessons.
Rather than learning how to play at the table with real money, it would be cheaper and smarter for you to pay me or some other knowledgeable person, $200 to teach you to play using the basic strategy. You would be completely helpless in your friendly local casino without the basic strategy guiding your playing. Money goes fast when you hit 13's against the dealer's 6 showing or you sandbag with 12 or 13 when the dealer has a 10 or face up. I could tell you why those plays are bad mathematically but if you learn the basic strategy then you do not have to worry about the math. There are small pocket cards that most casinos or bookstores sell that show what the basic strategy is for each situtation at the table. Casinos have no problem with you using them at the table. The casinos will always have an edge even if you and everyone else uses the basic strategy. Using the basic strategy makes their edge over you smaller.
There are a lot of different basic strategies that call for slightly different actions in different situations. If you are a casual player there is no need to learn every one of these. Any one of them will help you. For example the house edge for the two deck strategy is .2% and for the six deck strategy .36%.
Notes: try to play against 1 or 2 decks. 6 decks might give you long runs of unfavorable situations (lots of small cards in the deck is extremely unfavorable to a player). I would never play against on-line casinos because they are unregulated and the geniuses that program these websites could easily program card sequences that would be dependent on your betting levels and who knows what else and you would never know. I haven't read of cases of this happening but it could. Relatively easily. Insurance: never take insurance unless you know there are a lot of 10s or face cards left in the deck.
As a lifelong member of the I Really Hate Telemarketing Club I am pleased to make this public service announcement: The national Do Not Call Registry is open for business at www.donotcall.gov. Register today and on October 1 your phone will go magically silent at mealtimes. If it doesn't, you can complain. It will not screen all calls. Of course, the direct marketing people are not happy about this service and have sued to kill it because it is predicted that it will cause them to lose half of their audience.
Of course, the cynical among us will think that the government will secretly sell our phone numbers and email addresses to telemarketers in order to balance the budget. I am willing to gamble and signed up today for Do Not Call. It is easy. And if it is a scam and helps to balance the budget, I am willing to do my part and go back into my telemarketing harassment mode. Not really because the people on the other end are just normal folks trying to make a living like everyone else.
The state of Colorado archives has a lot of interesting material on Mr. Packer. There is a historical site, the Alferd Packer Massacre Site, in Colorado dedicated to Mr. Packer. It might be a good place to stop by with the kids this summer if you happen to be going through Colorado. There is a song about Mr. Packer as well. The chorus goes this way: "They called him a murderer, a cannibal, a thief; It just doesn't pay to eat anything but Government-inspected beef." The University of Colorado honors Mr. Packer by naming its largest food service facility after him - the Alferd Packer Grill. A monument to bad taste?
When Packer was convicted of cannibalism and was sentenced to hang by Judge Melville B. Gerry. The judge said, "Stand up, yah voracious man-eatin' sonofabitch, and receive your sentence! Thar were only seven Democrats in all of Hinsdale County and you ate five of them!" The Republicans have been recently been supporting efforts to clone poor old Alferd. Packer was eventually freed from jail in 1901 and died in 1907. Of natural causes.
A couple of years ago I went to the Tampa area to visit my sister and her husband who had just retired. Everywhere we went in the Tampa area there were signs saying "Cubans sold here" so I had to ask "Do they really sell Cubans?". Not really. I actually asked "What's a Cuban?". So we went and got a real pressed Cuban sandwich (media noche). It was the best sandwich I have ever tasted. Bar none.
Pressed Cubans can be made many ways. Most people will tell you you need this or that for a Cuban. Not necessarily so. I can make a decent (real media noche lovers are laughing very hard now) pressed Cuban using hogie rolls I get from Sam's Club with muenster cheese, dill pickles, roast pork, mustard, mayo and ham. There is no Cuban bread in Phoenix that I know of so I had to improvise. There are lots of variations of this sandwich that you can try. Some people use swiss cheese. Some use turkey instead of ham. Some add genoa sausage. Some add lettuce and/or tomatoes. No matter what the ingredients they always come out great! The crust will be warm and crunchy and everything inside will be nice and gooey. Note: if you order a pressed Cuban in a restaurant that serves authentic Cubans be prepared for some hostility if you ask them to hold the pickles. One further warning: DO NOT USE KETCHUP on this sandwich. The sandwich will explode and you will be seriously injured.
Black Hawk Down was a good, shoot-em up war movie based on an ill-fated military mission in Somalia. It was subtitled "Leave no man behind". It was just a movie. I just read a good Wall Street Journal story by Dorthy Rabinowitz about the real one day battle in Mogadishu that had wide-ranging political implications as well as personal ones for the families of the participants. Rabinowitz's story points out that two of the soldiers, Master Sgt. Gary I. Gordon and Sgt. First Class Randall D. Shughart, involved in the battle were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for their bravery in Mogadishu on Oct. 3, 1993.
The events that day in Mogadishu were a defining moment for the Clinton administration. From that point on in Rwanda, Iraq, Bosnia/Kosovo, and Haiti, the administration's priority was to conduct casualty-free operations. Clinton was reluctant to commit US ground forces to back up his rhetoric and bombed instead. Clinton said one of the worst moments of his administration came when Randall Shughart's father, at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor for his son, told President Clinton that he was not fit to be president and that he was responsible for his son's death. This dramatic event did not get a lot of media attention. The battle in Mogadishu aggravated the already bad relationship Clinton had with the military.
Many anti-war groups used the failure of the US military in Somalia as an argument for opposing the war in Iraq. There were even suggestions that Saddam Hussein used the book/movie as an motivational tool.
Stu Bykofsky writes in Philly.com:
No royalties from BaghdadSaddam Hussein reportedly is a fan of Mark Bowden, who writes "The Point" column for the Sunday Yawn. Well, not Bowden himself, but of his Inky series-turned-book, "Black Hawk Down," which later became a movie. Before the war, some sources report, the Butcher of Baghdad supplied his commanders with the book, which details the 1993 firefight in Mogadishu, Somalia, in which 18 Army Rangers were killed while serving as peace-keepers. (We were there helping Muslims, by the way.) Other sources say Saddam told his commanders to see the movie, to inspire them to use guerrilla tactics that worked against the Americans. I asked Bowden how he felt about that, and if he's getting royalties from book sales in Baghdad. To his knowledge the book hasn't been translated into Arabic. Bowden doubts the entire report, but says "it might be true in terms of the film, because Saddam is a film buff." Bowden says he wouldn't be surprised if Saddam saw "Black Hawk Down" and "it wouldn't surprise me if he misinterpreted it. The lesson of Somalia for many people around the world is if you can kill a few soldiers, the massive American military will give up and go home." While that was politically true - then - after 9/11 everything changed, says Bowden, adding that the battle itself - in which hundreds of Somali irregulars died - proved the "courage and tenacity of the American military, who did not give up."
Rabinowitz writes in her Wall Street Journal piece:
"It has been said of Osama bin Laden that the main lesson he derived from the war in Somalia was that the infliction of heavy casualties was all that was needed to cause Americans to turn and run. Americans, he suggested, are weak that way, and soft."
Ostriches are interesting and somewhat frightening to me. Reading the Best of the Web today I was shocked to learn that they do not bury their heads in the sand. A blogger, Cecil Adams aka The Straight Dope, laid out some interesting facts about ostriches and debunked of the head in the sand myth.
Instructions for feeding an ostrich: Leave the ostrich kibbles, United Bird Food's Ostrich Kibble 102 is good, in a container by the edge of the ostrich's pen. Feed once a day with ample water. NOTE: Ostriches do not like being watched while eating, and may attack you if you stand too close. We recommend leaving your ostrich to eat in peace. The same goes for grizzlies and hungry lions.
A few facts about this remarkable animal from Ostriches Online:
The ostrich is a member of the ratite family of birds. Ostriches cannot fly. There are 3 main species of ostriches of which only one, the Struthio Camelus Domesticus (the African Black), is found in captivity. Ostriches skeletons and fossils have been found which date back over 120 million years; ostriches are a true dinosaur. Ostriches produce the strongest commercially available leather in the world and some of the most beautiful feathers. Ostrich meat is a red meat and is very low in cholesterol, calories and is almost fat free. Ostrich meat resembles beef in its appearance and is cooked almost the same way. Ostrich meat tastes just like... well, it tastes just like ostrich meat. Ostriches are not an endangered species; there are at least 2 million worldwide. Ostriches have the best feed to weight ratio gain of any land animal in the world. They are successfully farmed in at least 50 countries; from the coldest climates of Alaska to the equatorial areas of central Africa. When fully grown an ostrich has one of the most advanced immune systems known to mankind. Ostriches are the second fastest animal in the world, and the fastest 2 legged animal. Ostriches can reach anywhere from 16 to 23 feet per stride and run as fast as 30 and 50 miles per hour. They can maintain this speed for at least 30 minutes. Ostriches do not bury their head in the sand. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain. In captivity Ostriches normally live from 30 to 70 years Ostrich farming is one of the most open, free range farming alternatives available anywhere in the world today. On average, a trio of ostriches require about two thirds of an acre (0.25 hectares) to breed and run around in. Ostriches are an extremely resourceful species and are recognized as one of the only environmentally friendly animals in the world.
There is even a section on eBay with 795 ostrich things.
What is the hardest school in the world for a student to get into? Harvard? Yale? Duke? Columbia? Stanford? Northwestern? University of Arizona? No, none of the above. IIT is the answer. IIT stands for the India Institute of Technology. Watching CBS's 60 Minutes tonight I saw an interesting article about IIT. The United States needs an IIT. Or maybe it doesn't because 80% of IIT's graduates come to the United States to work and most do not return home. The US could never have an IIT. IIT admits all of its students based strictly on on the results of a rigorous 6 hour exam. No legacies, no minority preferences, no fudging of any kind. Only 2% of all applicants are accepted. If you are good enough, you get in and if you are not, you don't. This type of system is totally unacceptable in the US as we all know. Our colleges and universities have to be fair to all. Accepting only the best qualified is not the American idea of being fair. Our colleges, even the best ones, let underqualified students in then give them remedial work to help them catch up with those that are qualified. Our universities cannot never reach the bar set by IIT in India because our educational systems will bend the bar to let in those who would not make it otherwise. To be fair. There can be a lot said for our educational system's willingness to do this. But on the other hand when those that are underqualified are accepted along with the qualified then it contaminates the educational environment in such a way where standards throughout the system are compromised. Teachers seem to naturally teach to the least able in their class rooms so if the least abled are allowed into an institution they will lower standards everywhere they show up.
In the US our technological unversities have an ideal of developing a well-rounded person and, therefore, subject this person to humanities requirements. When a student is in a humanities class, they are not in a class studying a technolgical subject that will prepare them for a career in science or engineering. Look at IIT's curriculum. No history, no language arts, etc., just math, engineering and science. Look at course descriptions. Math I? OMG! And I was a math major. There are no humanities departments at IIT. The IIT graduates have no problems finding jobs even though they are not, what we call, well-rounded by US educational standards. US Corporations stand in line to hire IIT graduates. At my daughter's graduation ceremony at Northwestern, the engineering graduates were standing and jeering the Liberal Arts graduates with the chat "We have jobs. We have jobs." In a way it was funny and in another way it was very sad because I just closed the checkbook on a $30-$40,000 investment in my daughter's Liberal Arts education.
We have to wake up in the United States. We have to develop and fund elite unversities devoted to technical education of those that can meet the most rigorous qualifications. Those who cannot meet those qualifications can go to Harvard.
You can see where this book is headed 15 pages into the book when he labels conservatives as indifferent, passive, complacent, nostalgic, and enemies of the wonderful progressives (a word increasingly being used by Democrats to replaced the ugly word, liberal). Blumenthal uses the book to give every Republican and Republican group a nasty label. As if we can not separate out the enemy from the allies without a scorecard. There is no doubt whose side Blumenthal is on in this war.
Blumenthal is an extremely bright person who writes logically and coherently. His problem is that he cannot shed his passion for conspiracy or his partisan outlook that leads him to misrepresent many, many facts. For example, this might be petty but the information is common knowledge to anyone in the least bit familar with Florida vote imbroglio, he says that Judge Sanders Saul is a conservative. This would lead the reader to believe that Judge Saul, an appeals judge in Florida, issued his ruling (unfavorable to Gore) based on his political inclinations. This is not true. He is a Democrat. Just one of many incorrect statements Blumenthal makes throughout the book.
Another device Blumenthal uses is the selective ignore. For example, he mentions Gore's military experience and the fact that he briefly served in Vietnam in one short sentence while he does not ignore the controversial aspects of President Bush's experiences and goes in to detail about those. On the impeachment proceedings he ignores so many things it is laughable. Blumenthal picks up from where he left off while working in the White House with his demonization of Ken Starr who, according to Blumenthal, is one of the most evil people in the world. He and others were so successful at this tactic during the OIC's investigation that they made the investigation about Ken Starr and not about President Clinton's felonious activities. He does this a lot to keep from discussing unpleasant things about the Clintons. This tactic is so common throughout the book it sticks out like a sore thumb.
There are some good parts to the book. The best, my view, was his description of a personal meeting he had with President Clinton where the President denied having an affair with a 22 year old intern in the Oval Office. I could feel the sense of saddness that Blumenthal must of felt at that time. Blumenthal, and you can feel it on every page of this book, actually worships the Clintons so it must have hurt him deeply. He knew what the President telling him wasn't true but he wanted to believe the President. He does, however, later defend the President to the hilt with the old, tired argument that President Clinton lied and covered up to protect his family. President Clinton was a very intelligent, mature (in some ways) lawyer that could, when called on, make lawyerly arguments about the meaning of the word is, and Blumenthal seems to want us to believe that this super intelligent human commited at felony to protect his wife and daughter from knowing something that they certainly knew he was guilty of in the past. Sure, Sidney, I believe that.
Is the book worth reading? As an insight into Sidney Blumenthal's mind, yes, because he was a key player in the last years of the Clinton administration. As an insight as to what really went on during those years, no, it is not worth reading in my opinion. He goes deeply into real and imagine conspiracies too much and after awhile you might begin to say to yourself "Is this guy really that paranoid?". You might also pause and reflect "Are the Clinton's really that wonderful?" Sure, Sidney.
I do not take any prescription or recreational drugs for that matter. I cannot remember when the last time I did. I do take an asprin each day along with my vitamins for mature adults. Cleaning out the cabinet where we keep my wife's medicines I was shocked at the number of bottles I found there. She takes a number of different medicines that I wasn't aware of. Some of the bottles contained medicines she had taken in the past. Since we no longer have kids running around I do clean the bottles out as religiously as I used to. Bottles of drugs are like loaded guns as far as I concerned when you have children.I watched a very good FrontLine report tonight on the issues surrounding the drug industry. I worked for an animal pharmaceutical company for 21 years so I have some knowledge of how the business works. Most people do not. It seems like if a company is big, the tendency is to hate it. Companies need a certain mass to be able to afford and conduct the research necessary to bring drugs to market. Research costs a lot of money and it takes a lot of time. In my company we spent 7 years and millions of dollars developing an antibiotic that was not approved by the FDA. We had many many false starts during the research process. Our success rate was probably one out of 20 new compounds that made it through to a final product. Those drugs that were finally marketed were very expensive. Being a cost accountant I knew what the production costs were for our products. One had a cost of goods sold of less than $4 a bottle. We sold it to veterarians for $45 a bottle and they, in turn, sold it to their customers for $120/bottle. It was the only drug of its kind at the time. While I was there the drug went 'off patent' and generic manufacturers began making it and selling it for $9-10/bottle. We dropped our prices to $18/bottle to the vets and still sold a lot of it. That drug paid for a lot of successful and unsuccessful research while it was on patent.
I think that most people think that new drugs appear like magic. The process for developing a new drug is demanding. The FDA has stringent requirements for new drug approvals in order to protect the public. Some of our submissions for approval were at least 4 feet thick representing millions of dollars and years of research. It would take the FDA at least 3 years to review our submissions. For human drugs the approval process is probably even more difficult.The high cost of drugs is a puzzle to the average person. Everyone knows that drugs in Canada and Europe are a lot less expensive for the same drug. The difference is that they have price controls on their drugs. We do not. If we did research for new products would dry up like it did in France after they put in price controls. Drug companies could not recover their research costs so they cut out research. France went from being #2 in new drug discoveries to being #9. We are basically supporting drug research for most of the world with our high drug prices. Those who are advocating drug price controls do not realize what will happen to the drug industry if that happens in the US. It will stop conducting research. If that is what these advocates want then they will reap what they sow for a short term gain. Most drug prices do come down when the drug goes off patent if the manufacturing process is simple for the drug because the generic manufacturers will jump into the market. Prozac went off patent and its generic price was 85%-90% less than the brand name drug. Same drug, same efficacy, different name.Two states have developed two different approaches to soaring drug prices. Maine has chosen a price control route while Oregon has developed a consumer based approach that gives the consumer of drugs and the doctors information about the efficacy and the price for various drugs and allows them to make the choices based on professional comparsions between the alternatives. I like the Oregon model. The drug industry fought both approaches. The Maine approach went all the way to the Supreme Court where it was upheld.One of the reasons why heathcare cost are out of whack is because there is virtually no real competition between different brands of drugs. Individuals do not make choices to buy drugs. They accept the recommendations of their doctor or HMO. The HMO, doctor or patient does not care what the drugs cost because the insurance company or government will pay for the drugs. If the patients paid for them they would be looking for cheaper alternatives. The seniors without healtcare coverage in Maine do that when they take buses to Canada to buy their medicines The Oregon law restores a measure of competition to pricing of medicines.The general public should get off the we-them approach to drug pricing. The hatred that people have for large companies will get them nowhere. We need large companies that can do the expensive long-term research. These companies will not survive without vital research departments that reliably come up with new products that benefit us all. The mom and pop drug companies operating out of someone's garage cannot compete with the giant companies because of the cost for development so we are stuck with what we have.
You can buy shares of my weblog on I am very new at this so I have no idea how it works yet. I spent considerable time getting it set up. It looks like fun thing so why not check it out? I bought some shares this evening in a blog called Clarence Blog. I wanted to try out the trading system so I bought this blog's stock. I just can't give you a rational explanation why ......... Sorry.
There are have been some guffaws about the cartoon. There are even some people asserting the cartoon is racist.
"I see two white males, one white female, one Hispanic male, and one African-American male being used to make "the perfect Supreme Court justice, a right-wing extremist the likes of which have never been seen before." And what parts of which does the DNC use? The vision and brains of the white males, the teeth of the white female, the sneakiness of the Hispanic male and the arms of the African-American male. Isn't this extremely racist and sexist? And don't let them say they're trying to depict what goes on in Bush's mind. No Republican wrote that garbage. Bush is actively supporting women, Hispanics and African-Americans based on their conservative principles. This trash comes from the same party that recently tried to fire about 10 African-Americans so that their party could be more competitive in future races, and that refused to give sufficient support to Carl McCall's candidacy for New York governor. I think the ad is an outrage, and should be considered a scandal. " a reader, Opinion Page - Best of the Web for Wed, June 18, 2003
I do not agree with all that. It is silly, not racist. It would be racist if the Republicans were showing the cartoon.Discuss A Very Expensive Cartoon
I came across a very good weblog called Electrolite that contained a discussion about the new amendment to the constitution that will allow Congress to pass laws prohibiting desecration of the flag. The amendment does not define what a flag is or what is meant by desecration. Could the image of the flag printed on someone's boxer shorts be considered a flag? What a flag is is open ended in this amendment. As is the word desecration. Disrespectful treatment of the flag or desecrating the flag could mean almost anything. The amendment is a bad idea and it is poorly written. I am not in favor of the amendment. In my opinion the passage of the amendment gives politicians a chance to wrap themselves in the flag and do a little grandstanding for the folks back home. I pity the poor souls who honestly voted against it. My congressman, Jeff Flake (D-AZ) did. They will pay for their honesty.
The author of the weblog agreed with this article by Andrew Reding that thought that word desecrate was a used by the amendment's authors in religious sense and started making all kinds of, what I thought were silly, statements about the separation of church and state in order to take some cheap shots at Republicans. I posted a comment saying that I disagreed with Reding's analysis as logical and well written as it was. Rudeness is not permitted on this weblog evidently because my post was 'disemvoweled' - all the vowels were removed from it making it impossible to read. I was rude. I am used to posting things on rough and tumble discussion boards where the posters call each other names. In the process of explaining all this to me the boards moderator was rude to me. I didn't have the capabilities to disemvowel her.
There are lots of sources of information about this issue. Most of what I have found is against the amendment. The arguments usually are based on the conflict between flag desecration and free speech. Colin Powell's 1999 letter to Senator Leahy. Senator Hatch authored the amendment. Survey about flag desecration amendments (read the link within the link titled called continuum activity. It helpfully tells teachers how to brainwash their students using 'facts' while 'teaching' them about controversial issues.). Senator Levin's speech about the 2000 flag desecration amendment. Texas v Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), is an important Supreme Court decision concerning flag desecration and is the reason why the constitutional amendment is being pushed. Cartoons, all against the flag amendment, from 1995.Discuss The Flag Desecration Amendment to the Constitution
Picture: The floral flag at Lompoc, CA
What do you want for Father's Day? The question isn't in the same league as 'Do you want to be hung or shot?' but for someone not facing that particular situation it is almost as bad. Do I 'need' anything for Father's Day? The little pleasure I will get denying some mega-corporation that has spent untold millions on ads that inject a little bit of guilt into the back of everyone's mind another Father's Day sale will be enough, thank you. But, of course, that little pleasure I selfishly get is not without consequences. If I do not 'need' something that someone produces then that thing will not be produced. Because it is not produced someone will be denied the opportunity to work and earn an honest day's wages and their child will go to bed hungry tonight. In that case, I 'need' a new cordless electric drill. Don't wrap it. Our landfills are full of torn and crumpled gift wrap. Let the gift wrap factory and the landfill workers' children go hungry tonight. I can't be responsible for feeding everyone can I? I am just a dad.
For me personally, a nice call from my daughter who is far away but always close to my heart is a nice Father's Day gift.
Still in Saigon
I ran across the words to this song today. It was sung by the Charlie Daniels Band. When I read things like this I think of my buddy Al. Al was the Best Man (by far) at my wedding. I remember hearing Al, a Vietnam vet, crying and yelling in his sleep almost nightly in the little house where we lived with 4 other guys during college. I have lost track of him through the years and hope he and Janet are doing well. I was lucky. I got out of Marine Corps right before they stopped asking for volunteers to go over there to kill and be killed. Yes, people did, believe it or not, volunteer to go to Vietnam. The words 'gung-ho', brave, and courageous never applied to me. Brave and courageous certainly applied to Al.
Trial by a jury of your politically correct, racially diverse peers
A judge in Pittsburgh postponed a trial because there were not enough black prospective jurors in the jury pool. This raises some interesting questions that are covered in an article about it. Read about it here.
I think there should be an equal opportunity for all citizens in a community to get selected for jury duty. As long as that situation exists the racial makeup of the jury pool should not be a factor in the selection of the jury for a particular trial no more than, say, the number of bald headed men in the jury pool should be. If our system starts using some kind of jury quota system to determine whether an individual gets a fair trial our system of justice is in trouble. If black citizens can demand black juries, then Hispanics, Asians, Croats, Slavs, overweight people, white people, bald men, etc. can too in my opinion.
Betcha that you can't guess what this
is used for. It costs $200,000. Read about it here.
Twenty Questions Online
Did you like to play 20 Questions as a child? We used to play 20 Questions all the time when we were on trips with the kids in the car. Here is an online version of it. The program is hard to beat. I beat it with 'water filter', but it did not like my answers. The program analyzes your answers at the end of the game so you can't cheat. If you say "Yes" when you answer its question "is it made out of wood" when your word is rubber band it will politely point out your lies to you at the end of the game. The program won when I had 'rubber band' as the word. As if you have some time to waste .......
The existence of WMD: everyone prior to the war agreed that they existed in Iraq. France, Germany, the Clinton administration, etc. all agreed that Iraq had weapons and a weapons program. If Iraq did not have them, why did the UN pass a resolution 15-0 demanding that Iraq disarm? Why did the UN send inspection teams, not to find the weapons, but to verify that Iraq was destroying weapons that everyone knew that they had? Why was Iraq acting like they were hiding something?
It was not only the US intelligence agencies saying that Iraq had WMD.
The liberal media and the Democrats are trying to fog up this pseudo-issue. The issue is not whether Iraq had weapons, but where did they go. There is no question that Iraq had them.
Why WMD haven't been found? 1. They have been destroyed. 2. They have been dispersed to other countries. 3. They have been hidden. 4. All the above.
I personally favor #3. The Iraqis have been very good at hiding weapons previously. It is easy to hide things - bulldoze a hole large enough for a semi-trailer in the desert, drive the trailer into the hole, and cover it. A one day job. 40,000 lbs of chemicals hidden. That trailer will never be found unless those who did it left a paper trail or will tell where it is. Same thing could be done with equipment.
Saddam Hussein needed chemical and biological weapons because he knew that his military was not a match for any modern army. That is why he held on to them and why he was willing to risk going to war with the US to keep them. Iraq has/had WMD.
Another interesting thing is - what if the US forces have already found the WMD stockpiles and are keeping it secret until closer to the election? The Democrats are gambling that the WMD have and will not be found and are using the fact that nothing has been found as a really big factor in their campaigns. This whole pseudo-issue could very well backfire on them. Bigtime.
Do you like really quirky stuff? This website is truly odd. It is fascinating because people are fascinating. Take a look at the human clock website. I have given some thought to a picture to submit for the clock. I am going to make some numbers out of rocks on the bottom of the pool.
The other day I ran across this web site that contained stories by a Las Vegas pit boss, Ed Walters. The author worked in the Sands Casino when Frank Sinatra played there. He became friends with Frank and a lot of other entertainers. The stories are about Frank, Dean, Sammy, etc. but they tell you a lot about the author as well. The Sands Hotel and Casino is gone now. Most of the entertainers he talks about are gone too. It was an interesting time in Las Vegas. Las Vegas began changing at the time the author worked there. Howard Hughes bought a number of casinos at that time and forever changed the nature of the Las Vegas gambling business. Walters is not a professional writer but tells fascinating stories.
Photos from UNLV Library Special Collections
Searchlight, Nevada is a small town on US 95 south of Las Vegas that is tucked into a small range of mountains in the desert of southern Nevada. It has a few touristy things and gas stations. It was the boyhood home of Senator Harry Reid. who wrote a book about the town. Searchlight inspired a ragtime song by Scott Joplin. Searchlight has a lot speed limit signs that say 25 MPH. I have never ever seen anyone go faster than 25 MPH, yet I have never seen any police cruisers either. There a lots of places they could easily hide though and maybe I missed them. I always go through the town riding my brake pedal.
We always stop in Searchlight to get one of our $10 cans of pop. One of the main buildings in town is the little itty bitty wornout casino/restaurant called the Golden Nugget(no business relationship to the beautitul Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, I'm sure). The Nugget has 2 blackjack tables, about 50 slot machines, a restaurant, a bar with dance floor and lots of room in its parking lot. We have never seen anyone dancing there and we have never seen that second blackjack table being used and I doubt anyone has won a nickle playing those slot machines. The restaurant is supposed to be quite good. A lot of local people eat there.
Our routine, when we stop there, is to go to the bathroom then go over and play a few hands of blackjack with the guys. The two blackjack dealers at this place, when you compare them to dealers in a luxurious casino/palace like the Caesar's in LV, are somewhat grungy in appearance and lackadaisical in their official duties. They were not wearing costumes - just what they did chores in that morning. One of them once paused during a game, leaned over and took at drag off of his cigarette. As a former pit boss in a real bigtime casino, my wife was appalled. One guy served as a dealer and other could have been the pit boss or a second dealer for the second table if the first table ever got full or may be a relief dealer for the first one if he happened to have a medical or bathroom emergency. Since only one table is ever open the pit boss/2nd dealer always either watches the game with intense interest or reads the newspaper. This morning he was eating breakfast at the 2nd blackjack table when we got there. The pit boss/relief dealer then watched the action at the table like he had never seen a blackjack game in his life.
Once we sit down at the table we always order a free pop from the ancient cocktail waitress. The pop is served ice cold in a can. We also always play blackjack until we lose $10.00 each. That's why we call them $10 cans of pop. This time we only lost $8.00 between the two of us. We think that we are personally supporting that town by losing $20.00 at the casino everytime we pass through it. Maybe we are paying for those 25 MPH speed limit signs.
Our tablemates were 3 happy young sunburned guys in faded swimwear. They were pulling a boat from California down to Cottonwood Cove on the Colorado River for a day of skiing. One pulled out $300 and lost it in about 5 minutes. His two buddies gamely kept playing on with some success. They were placing bets for the dealer which made the dealer's day and maybe his month. Every once in a while one of young men would do something silly and the other would say in a deep voice "we'd better get security over here". I said that I bet that they don't have any security in here. So one of guys asked the dealer who was working security today. He said it was the cocktail waitress. She was a frail 65 years old at least. We fell out of our chairs laughing. She probably could swing a mean serving tray if someone got out of line.
We drove on to Las Vegas with a smile on our face and eight dollars poorer.
Why I have a smile today.