One man's view of the world, from the top of this great big rock somewhere in the middle of God's Country, with an eye toward freedom....or at least some way to get back down without goin' over the edge.

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Location: West Virginia, United States

Former U.S. Army, SPC E-4, Veteran of Operation Desert Storm. If you are or have ever been a soldier, you have friends in my house.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Resistance is Futile (Just Ask My Cat)

Seeing as how I promised a while ago to start getting a little more personal here, now seems a good time to do so.

And so, may it please the court, I now humbly introduce a member of my family whose august presence has been heretofore unannounced.

Ladies and gentlemen...

Image hosted by Greebo. (He's the handsome fellow on the left.)

Anyone who has ever read the various Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett knows that Greebo is named for one of the most magnificently malevolent examples of feline superiority ever to grace the written page. Our own cat's personality does not miss the mark by much.

Pursuant to this, here is a summarization (as near as we can tell, anyway) of "Greebo's Laws of the Universe":

First Law: A litter box is a mere formality which may be ignored at any convenient opportunity.
Second Law: Anything not nailed down is to be considered fair game for being knocked around the floor, torn to shreds, sat on, eaten, or taken away for storage in the aforementioned litter box.
Third Law: Anything which can be removed from its current position, by whatever means at paw, is to be considered "not nailed down".
Fourth Law: Anything or anyone currently in motion throughout the house, under its own power or otherwise, is also to be considered "not nailed down".

Despite this rather selfish world view, an apparent IQ approaching that of a rather badly bruised eggplant, and the self-preservation instinct of a stunned lemming, we have pretty much decided to keep him around. (He amuses us so.)

Indeed, he does occasionally show signs of intellect. That is to say, he seems to recognize when it is time to not get underfoot (usually when no one is walking around the house in any case), and when it is time for some serious sucking-up (usually when he has just been caught observing "Greebo's First Law").

Well, that...and he has a knack for looking really cool perched on your shoulder. Can't argue with that.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bloggin' Around: Thursday, September 22

The good Captain Ed introduces us to Chuck Schumer's staff vacation plan, Air America's desperate attempts to find another cookie jar to put their hands into, and the impending return of South Dakota's favorite obstructionist. (He's BAAAaaack...)

Courtesy of GNN (the Goomba News Network) -- Nawlins mayor Ray "Negligence" Nagin has another GREAT idea (yes, he's kidding, folks...but, judging by Nagin's previous performance, probably not by much), and Star Jones does her part to provide shelter for...well, quite a few people, apparently. (Insensitive, I know...but still funny.)

Les hommes du Wizbang put us on notice to bug the f[EEEP] out of the Gulf Coast area (again), and show us yet another Stupid Union Trick (three words, guys...location, location, location).

Finally, Lawrence Simon takes the Wizbangers' advice....but first, he rigs up his Rita-cam, and provides us with a pretty comprehensive list of local coverage and information for those who need it.


One last note....My own family is in the Houston area.
My mom lives (or, anticipating what's coming, "lived") in Seabrook, but she started beating feet last night, and rightly (thankfully) so. Hopefully my brother and his family will follow suit soon.

I probably shouldn't have to say it, but I will anyway.
If you still have people in the Houston-Galveston area....PRAY for them. HARD.

I am.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Good People: Hurricane Katrina Edition

It occurred to me this morning that it's been WAY too long since I revisited this part of my little virtual rumbleseat.

It is so easy to get caught up in all the negativity surrounding Hurricane Katrina, and all the things that went wrong with the efforts to save the population of New Orleans....and forget all about those times when good things are done by good people, regardless of the result.

So I did a little looking around...and found out about a lot of people, from all walks of life and every kind of belief, who don't have time to point fingers and blame their neighbors and leaders for their troubles, because they're too busy giving of themselves and their abilities to lend a hand to total strangers who desperately need it.

You'd be surprised just how easy they were to find, too, with just a little effort.

Here are just a handful of them.


Katrina's Angels, a 501c non-profit organization licensed in Florida and founded by Tony Coolidge of ATAYAL, a group normally dedicated to the promotion and education of the culture and people of Taiwan. Tony was driven to suspend his normal efforts to help folks from the Gulf Coast get resettled and re-employed.
The above web site was designed by Collin Yeadon, head of the Yeadon Group, who is the Katrina's Angels Technology Director and donates his time and talents to this project.


A man named John, who had an old military buddy from the Air Force that he couldn't get hold of, and so decided to truck on down in his own deuce-and-a-half to see what was what, and lend a hand to others in the process....


Jim Lodoen, an attorney from Minneapolis, who was originally going down just to see to his mother, who was ill. And, since he would be staying at a Holiday Inn which was being used as a shelter for displaced families, he decided that he might treat a few people to a shopping trip, or maybe a nice dinner at a restaurant while he was there....


Several members of KVR Audio, an online community and forum dedicated to electronic music and computerized instrumentation, got together on a whim to create a 2-disc CD of music, with 100% of the proceeds to be split between the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity.

The "KVR Audio" link above is to the last page of the forum thread which was set up so that participating musicians could download tracks for submission to the project, as well as for general commo related to the project. This was actually started back on Sept. 2, and at this writing the thread is 106 pages long (last post made Sept. 21). I provided this link to show how much effort was put into this. Feel free to browse as you will.


Some slightly more well-known angels:

Shane Helms, better known as the WWE professional wrestler "Hurricane"
Trenyce, from 'American Idol 2'
A listing of local community projects headed up by the teams of the NBA and WNBA professional basketball leagues
Harry Connick, Jr.
Bill Cosby, Wynton Marsalis, and the jazz community at Lincoln Center
Steven Spielberg


That's just to scratch the surface. I don't have nearly the kind of time to sink my teeth into this the way I would like to, but I think you get the idea.

With all the blaming going on, it's good to remember that there are a lot of good people out there who are driven by the need to reach out and help their neighbors when it's needed.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Taking One For The Farm Team (or, Unnatural Acts And The People Who Love Them)

Fair warning: The following post has to do with subjects which are not appropriate for children and/or animals to may unnecessarily confuse and upset the children, and the animals might start getting ideas.

Tip o'the rock to the esteemed Jim Quinn.


Folks, I've never been to Seattle, or Spokane, or anywhere else in the state of Washington, and I've never really had the urge to give it a try. That used to be because I didn't think I was missing much of anything that went on there.

Apparently, I was wrong. I mean, check out THIS night life:

King County sheriff's detectives are investigating the owners of an
Enumclaw-area farm after a Seattle man died from injuries sustained while having sex with a horse boarded on the property.
Investigators first learned of the
farm after the man died at Enumclaw Community Hospital July 2. The county Medical Examiner's Office ruled that the death was accidental and the result of having sex with a horse.

Strangely enough, the article goes on to say, no charges have been filed from this man's death:
Deputies don't believe a crime occurred because bestiality is not illegal in Washington state and the horse was uninjured, said [sheriff's Sgt. John] Urquhart.

You heard right, folks. Apparently, in this case at least, the welfare of a horse residing in the state of Washington takes precedence over the welfare of a human being.

As one might expect from any sane person in a position of power, State Senator Pam Roach is in the process of trying to have bestiality banned in the state.

The amazing thing about this, though, is not just that it took a man's death to inspire this action.
And, stunning though this is, it's not the fact that she actually has to TRY to make this happen.
And, even more stunning, it's not that I have finally found something that PETA and I actually agree on.

The amazing thing about all this, in my humble opinion, is that the subject of bestiality actually has legal implications AT ALL. And I'm not even taking in health considerations here.
Would not ANY human being in their right mind look at something like else and say (at the very least) "Why the hell would anyone WANT to do that?"

Who do we have to thank for this state of affairs, I hear you ask?
Well, among others....this gentleman.

According to his official bio, Peter Singer is currently "Laureate Professor, University of Melbourne, Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, part-time 2005- ".
He has held several academic positions in several academic institutions---including, rather recently, the Bioethics Chair at Princeton University.
(That's right...the CHAIR. Parents currently paying tuition at Princeton, take note.)
His appointment there was fought rather vociferously because of his attitudes towards disabled infants.

But he has some interesting views about bestiality, too. From his essay, "Heavy Petting" (no, that's not my phrase -- that's actually his own title):

...there are many ways in which we cannot help behaving just as animals do — or mammals, anyway — and sex is one of the most obvious ones. We copulate, as they do. They have penises and vaginas, as we do, and the fact that the vagina of a calf can be sexually satisfying to a man shows how similar these organs are. The taboo on sex with animals may, as I have already suggested, have originated as part of a broader rejection of non-reproductive sex. But the vehemence with which this prohibition continues to be held, its persistence while other non-reproductive sexual acts have become acceptable, suggests that there is another powerful force at work: our desire to differentiate ourselves, erotically and in every other way, from animals....

But sex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop.
"Mutually satisfying activities"? Please tell me he just meant playing Catch with a tennis ball.

Sadly, he is but one of several others who have put forth such opinions. Those of you willing to peruse this subject further are invited to do so at their leisure. (The name Ingrid Newkirk also comes to mind.)

Now, y'all know I'm not one to pry into what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms.
But come on...isn't "screwing the pooch" supposed to be something you want to AVOID doing?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

O Flock, Where Is Thy Shepherd: Behind the Big Easy's Backyard Brawl

Before anyone says it...Awright, awright. I said I would try to steer away from being particularly political here in the future. Mea culpa, all right?

But then I saw this....and decided that acquiring a taste for crow would be a small price to pay for sharing it with my loyal readership (yes, all three of you).

And I am fully aware that, once again, I am arriving late to the party. Everyone who is anyone in the blogosphere with two working neurons to bang together has certainly done this one up already.
That does not matter.

If you have friends, relatives, or acquaintances who are unsure where they stand in the human race as people....refer them to the following article RIGHT NOW. No kidding. I mean it. Go get them. I'll wait. Read on when you've got 'em all gathered 'round. This is REQUIRED material.

DISCLAIMER: There's gonna be some rough language here, friends. I have chosen not to edit this out in the sections I have quoted, but to leave them EXACTLY as they were originally written. You have been notified.

As has happened so often, the tip o'the rock goes to the good ol' SNN for the initial hand-off. (What would I do without you, dearie?)


Ever wanted to say something so bad you could taste it...but you just couldn't find the right words, no matter how hard you fried your brain-pan trying?

Ever had the perfect concept for a valid, cohesive argument shoot into your brain like a fastball from the gods...but just couldn't make your mouth form the words the right way?

Well, I think I now know who to blame for that...Bill Whittle.
He's got just about every single damned one of them nailed up on a wall in his workshop. No lie.

Don't believe me? See for yourself.

This piece is arguably one of the most important, well-constructed, and above all BANG-ON analyses of human nature that I have ever laid eyes on.

Think about this for a few minutes, says Whittle. Forget about race, culture, class and status...just for a few minutes.

Let's talk, says he...about "Tribes":
Only a few minutes ago, I had the delightful opportunity to
read the comment of a fellow who said he wished that white, middle-class,
racist, conservative cocksuckers like myself could have been herded into the
Superdome Concentration Camp to see how much we like it. Absent, of course, was
the fundamental truth of what he plainly does not have the eyes or the
imagination to see, namely, that if the Superdome had been filled with white,
middle-class, racist, conservative cocksuckers like myself, it would not have
been a refinery of horror, but rather a citadel of hope and order and restraint
and compassion.
That has nothing to do with me being white. If the blacks
and Hispanics and Jews and gays that I work with and associate with were there
with me, it would have been that much better. That’s because the people I
associate with – my Tribe – consists not of blacks and whites and gays and
Hispanics and Asians, but of individuals who do not rape, murder, or

My Tribe doesn’t fire on people risking their lives, coming to help us. My Tribe doesn’t curse such people because they arrived on Day Four, when we felt they should have been here before breakfast on Day One. We are grateful, not to say indebted, that they have come at all. My Tribe can’t eat Nike’s and we don’t know how to feed seven by boiling a wide-screen TV. My
Tribe doesn’t give a sweet God Damn about what color the looters are, or what
color the rescuers are, because we can plainly see before our very eyes that
both those Tribes have colors enough to cover everyone in glory or in shame. My
Tribe doesn’t see black and white skins. My Tribe only sees black and white
hats, and the hat we choose to wear is the most personal decision we can

A little further down, he goes on about "colors" -- but not the ones you might be thinking about:

Let’s not talk about Black and White tribes… I know too many
pathetic, hateful, racists and more decent, capable and kind people of both
colors for that to make any sense at all. Do you not? Do you not know corrupt,
ignorant, violent people, both black and white, to cure you of this elementary
idiocy? Have you not met and talked and laughed with people who were funny,
decent, upright, honest and honorable of every shade so that the very idea of
racial politics should just seem like a desperate and divisive and just plain
evil tactic to hold power?

If such a thing is not self-evident to you, please get off my property. Right now. I should tell you I own a gun and I know how to use it. I assure you that the pleasure I would take in shooting you would be temporary, minimal, and deeply regretted later.

Now, for the rest of you, let’s get past Republican and Democrat, Red and Blue, too. Let’s talk about these two Tribes: Pink, the color of bunny ears, and Grey, the color of a
mechanical pencil lead.....

Further on, he references something he learned from a piece of work by LTC Dave Grossman entitled The Bulletproof Mind. Therein, three more Tribes are discussed: the Sheep, the Sheepdogs, and the Wolves:

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf.
But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
Bill takes the concept a bit further, using the example of 9/11 to illustrate that one need not necessarily be an elected public servant to be a sheepdog --- or vice versa:

Much has been said regarding how much more massive an event Katrina
is relative to lower Manhattan. But the fact remains that firemen went up the
stairs when people were coming down, and one ordinary group of people on an
ordinary flight on an ordinary day defeated the very best that the global terror
network could put together. Our ladies junior varsity squad whipped the living
shit out of their Super Bowl A-team over Pennsylvania that day, and they did it
because for one brief shining moment enough passengers on that airplane went Grey.

And in Louisiana last week the governor cried and the mayor blamed
everyone but himself, and half the country bought every single stinking Pink lie
about global warming and missing National Guard units and blamed the sheepdogs
while the wolves raped and pillaged and looted everything in sight.

Hundreds of New York firemen and policemen never came home, never came home, but New Orleans Police Chief P. Edwin Compass III said, of his men, "If I put you out on the street and made you get into gun battles all day with no place to urinate
and no place to defecate, I don’t think you’d be too happy either… Our vehicles
can’t get any gas. The water in the street is contaminated. My officers are
walking around in wet shoes."

Well, Chief, I’m sorry your men’s feet are wet, but getting their feet wet is part of their fucking job. New York’s Finest aren’t complaining about wet feet or places to pee because they died doing their jobs. They were sheepdogs.

This was followed in the text by a link to a video clip that you have to see to believe. It takes a bit to load, but it needs to be seen.
He also makes a point that apparently no Social Studies or American Government teacher in the country is telling our kids about anymore, if they ever really did....exactly how the escalation of response is supposed to work---and why:
A person of some modest education might have remembered that the
worship and adulation fostered after 9/11 was for the NYPD and the FDNY. No one
was buying FEMA hats after 9/11, because FEMA is essentially a mop-up agency.
It's the first responders, the local governments, that will determine if a city
will live or die. The State -- that means, the "governor"-- has the sole
authority to mobilize the National Guard, and the governor of the state of
Louisana was not only slow to do that, she turned down NG assistance from
several OTHER states as well. The President does not have the authority to drop
precious egg salad sandwiches from Michael Moore's missing helicopters. We do
this ON PURPOSE. We limit the power of the federal government, as those of us
fortunate enough to have spent time in Civics, rather than Self Esteem classes,
are aware. This is so that we do not develop a central power so strong that
eventually we end up with idiot inbred royals, or Presidentes for life, on the
face of OUR money.
Folks, there is so much more in this essay that fairly BEGS to be read by anyone who truly wants to know some of the real reasons why things went down the way they did in the first days after Katrina did the Big Easy....and, for that matter, why there is such a big difference between that and how things went down in New York around this time four years ago.

Read on, o faithful ones. And then ask yourselves:

If worse ever came to worse in my life....
If everything I knew were suddenly blown to ash, and the only thing left was the survival of my family and/or my community....
What would I become? That which I always thought I was....or something totally different?
How would I act? What would I do?
What tribe would I find myself in?


P.S. Several people who commented on this article also left appropriate articles of their own, bouncing the topic in other directions. Here's one that fits Bill's description almost seamlessly.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

An Overdue Apology...

As is plainly obvious, I haven't posted anything for a while.

For this heinous transgression, I can only offer my heartfelt apologies. Times have been a bit rough in our house lately. Bills have gotten bigger, paychecks seem quite a bit smaller, and I find I just don't have the time and/or energy to do much in the way of pontificating on things.

Well, that...and I've been doing some thinking.

It seems to me that trying to become something of a political blogger is a bit more work than I expected and, frankly, a bit monotonous at times. Especially when all there seems to be to say is, "Gee, look what those knuckleheads on the other side are doing today."

And now, of all times, when there are SO many more important things going on in the world than mere political bare-knuckling, it all seems pretty much pointless.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm a little burned out on the whole thing.

And so....from here on out, this little chunk of the blogosphere is going to be changing its focus a bit.
Now and then, I may still point something out in the political scene if it seems interesting.
But from now on, I will try to concentrate more on personal observations on...well, pretty much anything else. Music, movies, kids, laughter, life in general....whatever.

I am sorry if I disappoint. But then I suppose, to borrow a phrase from a musician named Vinx (look him up), this was always supposed to be me beating on a rock and singing the story of my life anyway.

I'll get back on the rock soon, friends. I guess I just had to climb down for a while and get some more solid ground underneath me first.