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.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Move In With 'Em: The Continuing Adventures of Hurricane Cindy

I've said it before, fellas, and I'll say it again.

If you really want to know how to score with the chicks... Dubya is your man. Seriously. They meet him once, and they just can't stay away.

I mean, look at the hoops he's got this righteous babe jumping through just for the chance to meet him...for at least the third time:
"We decided to buy property in Crawford to use until George's resignation or impeachment, which we all hope is soon for the sake of the world," Sheehan said in a newsletter set to be sent to supporters Thursday. "I can't think of a better way to use Casey's insurance money than for peace, and I am sure that Casey approves."
That's right...he's got her so flustered that she's willing to drop a big ol' chunk of change just to buy a little ol' chunk of land, on which to pitch a big ol' tent she won't be spending more than a couple weeks at a time in.

The only problem is....well, she's really shy. So much so that she just can't quite bring herself to approach her prospective new neighbors on her own. (I wonder why.)

In fact, she's so afraid of the spotlight, she had to send in one of her little buddies to buy the land for her:

Gerry Fonseca, a fellow war protester who acted as Sheehan's agent, said he recently bought the vacant lot about a mile from downtown Crawford -- and about 7 miles from Bush's ranch -- for $52,500. About half the land is pasture, and the other half is woods, he said.
"If Cindy Sheehan came to town, I don't think anybody would have sold her any property," Fonseca, of Eagle Rock, Missouri, said Thursday.

But that's not all. She knew that if she was going to pull this off, her little buddy would need to put a really good sob story together. If he didn't, none of those bad ol' Republican-Texan-white-guy types would want to sell the land to him, and she'd never gaze into Georgie's loving eyes again except for that big poster on the wall of her bedroom.

How convenient that her little buddy already had one:
[Crawford resident Bobby D.] Ramsey, who soon may find unexpected neighbors when protesters move into a huge tent on the property he sold, said he was unaware before the sale that it would be used by Sheehan to host Camp Casey in August.
"(Fonseca) said he was going to build a home and, one day, a shop (on the land)," Ramsey said Thursday, speaking from his adjacent property in Crawford. "He told me that Katrina wiped him out.. . . . It didn’t even occur to me that he could use it for this."
Fonseca confirmed he never indicated to his new neighbors that the land would be transferred to Sheehan, but he said that was always the plan. He said the $52,500 used to pay for the property — a spread of rustic, wooded prairie with no houses — came from Sheehan and her Gold Star Families for Peace.
Yes, she is even willing to exploit the Hurricane Katrina tragedy in one more sad attempt to borrow another 15 minutes of attention from the guy she's stalking the object of her ardent affections.

Man, if that's not love, what is?

I tell ya, though...I'm starting to get a little worried. I mean, if pretending to starve herself on national television didn't do the trick, and this "new neighbor" ploy doesn't work.... we have something like this to look forward to?

Dear Lord, I hope not.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"An American Civilization": Chapter One -- The Web of Trust

I've posted on the writings of Bill Whittle before. Anyone who is anyone knows who I'm talking about.

Well, he's been away for a while, but he's back...and the view I'm looking at is GREAT from up here.

He has written the first chapter of a large project entitled An American Civilization....

Chapter One: The Web of Trust which he peels back the layers of how human beings interact with each other.

Here's just one little gem for you:

Every time two people come together and trade, wealth is created. Out of thin air. By magic. Every trade, every bit of work done by every human on the planet increases the complexity and order of the whole, and thus makes it more valuable. This is a rich subject, one we will return to in a following chapter. But for now, suffice it to say that if I, as a member of a hunter tribe, make great spears and crappy baskets, and you, as a gatherer, make beautiful baskets and miserable spears, then when we exchange my spear for your basket both of us walk away richer.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Sure it does.
But I was surprised at how I needed to be reminded of this one little aspect of human society.

Just a little further down, he offers a rather off-the-wall example of just how reliant we are upon our own interconnectedness:

Let’s look at Western Civilization at its naked pinnacle, at the height of its sheer fabulousness: Oscar night! It’s almost time for the Best Supporting Actor award!

Let’s start with the obvious: The amazing set, the stunning lighting, the beautiful people – not just American stars, but world-wide phee-noms. This culture reaches around the world. It’s a fair bet that every other crazed Jihadi getting lathered up for a good round of beheadings in Iraq or Afghanistan or Malaysia is wearing a Spider-man T-shirt or a Miami Dolphins cap or a pair of shorts with a Nike slash or one of the millions of other little trinkets mass-produced as easily as skin cells falling of the body of a sleeping Goliath.

But let’s peel away layers, shall we? One by one?

I won't spoil this article for you any further. Read it. ALL of it. It's long, but it's worth it.

Seriously. Turn off the ringer on your phone. Grab your favorite blanky from off the couch, grab some hot cocoa, and grab the rails. This guy will take you places that most of us (my humble self included) have likely forgotten about altogether.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Parents in Fantasyland, Part II: Some Kids Who Got Lucky

Just a quick followup to my previous post.

Allow me the pleasure of presenting four examples of what can happen when parents get it right...

Angela Lipsman, a 15-year-old who was apparently too smart for the Albany (New York) Supreme Court in 2003 to allow her to receive the two COLLEGE degrees she'd been working on since she was eleven years old. (She is now completing her master's thesis at age 17, and her father is battling the New York education system in hopes of preventing this kind of bull from happening again.)

Bianca Ryan, an 11-year-old Shirley-Temple-lookin' baby doll with a voice that can punch a hole in the back wall of any arena you could name. (Tip o'the rock to Jason of CounterColumn for the hookup.)

Subham Prakhar, a 12-year-old boy from India's poorest and roughest part of town who beat out over 16,000 other kids to win the coveted title of "India's Child Genius" in 2004.

And finally, meet little Tony Royster Jr. My wife saw this, and gleefully tugged me over to the computer with the full knowledge that seeing it would make me, a closet drummer who thinks he's better than he is, puke all over my shoes. (If she had waited until after dinner, I would have.)

I can't help but wonder how many other such talented children never see the spotlight because they got stuck with trolls for parents.

(P.S. I forgot to mention...the video of Tony Royster Jr. was taken when he was, oh, around 12 years old. Here's where he is today, at age 21.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

...And Not a Glass Slipper in Sight: Parents in Fantasyland

CHILD WARNING: Don't let your little ones see upset the hell out of me, so I figure it will knock them for a loop, too.


Okay, quick show of hands, folks...

Who out there knows someone who still wishes their life was like a fairy tale?

Raise 'em up high so's I can see 'em now....
One, two, three....okay, there's a few of you. (Yes, you in the back, I counted you. Siddown, whydoncha.)

Certainly, most of us have daydreamed about something like that at least once or twice in our lives. Being rescued from our drab existences by a knight in shining armor, finding a beautiful princess to wake with a kiss and live happily ever after with, yadda-yadda-yadda...
Don't lie, now. You know you have. Hey, I've done it. (Stick with me, kiddies...I really am going somewhere with this.)

But the modern world doesn't have much room for fairy tales. Something always seems to get lost in the translation.
Unfortunately, that something almost always ends up being the "happily ever after" part.

What's that I hear....I'm talking outta my ass? Blowing smoke, you say? Just blathering on about damsels in distress and some such for a quick blog filler, am I?

Friends, I really wish I was...but I'm not.

From the AP story (emphasis mine):
WICHITA, Kan. - Two emaciated girls who told police they ate only when their father wasn’t traveling on business were hospitalized after police found them in an advanced state of starvation.
"It’s the worst case of malnutrition I’ve ever seen," said police Lt. E.J. Bastian. The 6- and 7-year-old girls were found Friday in a home’s basement, were (sic) they were kept.
The girls’ stepmother, whose biological children were found
healthy and well-fed upstairs
, was taken in for questioning. Their father, traveling on business, was to be questioned when he returned, police said.

Sound familiar?

As I read that, my eyes actually bugged for a second. To think that there are actually people out there who can look a child in the eye, and do something like this...

Sit for a minute, folks. Just relax, and let it sink in.

Then try to imagine the look on my face when I found ANOTHER one just like the same week, no less.

From (again, with my emphasis):

LYMAN, S.C. - A couple was jailed on felony charges after police discovered their three adopted sons were severely malnourished, including a 5-year-old boy who weighed less than 20 pounds.
An 8-year-old brother weighed less than 40 pounds and a 7-year-old brother weighed about 32 pounds when police found them Thursday. The boys also were treated for bruises, scratches, burns and head lice.
Two of the boys told officers they were tied up to be kept from
in the mobile home.

"Okay," I hear you cry, "but where's the stepmother angle?" Read on....

A fourth child, Molly McCurry's 10-year-old biological daughter, was found to have head lice but was not malnourished, police said."It appeared that mom, dad and daughter ate one way, and the boys ate another way," Spartanburg County sheriff's Sgt. Kevin Bobo said.

All together now, folks...say it with me..."WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!?"

Well, your guess is as good as mine....and, sadly, there's a lot more where those came from. More than I would care to ponder.

How can these people -- well, hell, how can ANYONE -- possibly think that something like this is the way to raise a child?

When I look at my 10-year-old son (Good God, has it really been ten years already?), I see myself. I see MY handsome prince.
I see my future buried deep in his smirky brown eyes, his cocky little grin. Today, a house full of Lego's....tomorrow, who knows?

You know what my kid wants to be when he grows up? One of the Imagineers at Walt Disney World. No lie. He said so himself. My kid knows what an Imagineer is. My kid is the coolest kid on the planet.

What parents can look at their children -- biological or otherwise -- and not want to do everything in their power to help them grow strong and proud and wise and smart enough to make their own dreams come true?

I don't get it. I just don't get it.

Tell ya what, though...I sure hope the "parents" in these two fairy tales "get it".

I hope they get it where it hurts...HARD.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Points of Interest: July 15 - July 22

The Smallest Minority, enemy to proponents of political and personal pussification everywhere, shares an interesting viewpoint espoused by someone who thinks they know EXACTLY why gun ownership is not for everyone....and a surprisingly large number of people who seem to agree. (Personally, I agree as well. If this is how one views oneself, one has no business handling firearms.)

The indefatigable Iowahawk shows us how to give a Humvee a tattoo the easy way (LOTS of 'em, in fact), announces the winner of the Hawkeye Hoosegow Honey Of The Year (jailbait never looked so good), waxes poetic on those crazy kids of yesteryear, and drools over a hot rod with the balls of a tank....literally. (Treestumps? Please. This thing could probably rip out your basement.)

I'm not sure, but I think Val Prieto and friends over at Babalu Blog had so much stuff to talk about that they couldn't make up their minds, so they just let loose. I'll let you peruse most of them yourself, but you should definitely feast your eyes on this one, which contains arguably the most painful pimp-slapping the ACLU and/or the Miami-Dade school district have ever received in public. (MAN, that had to hurt.)

James Lileks, one of the most skillful and just-plain-fun-to-read Internet writers I have yet come across, offers a look at how that whole Israel-Palestine-peace-talks thing might be going right now if...oh, say, Howard Dean was in charge. (Hint: make sure you get your parking validated BEFORE you enter the building.)

And finally, Dr. Mike Adams, professor of criminology at UNC-Wilmington, shares with us a few reasons why flipping burgers at McDonald's is by no means the most humiliating and demeaning way to earn some extra bucks for school. Aspiring pretty young coeds...take note. (Any guys out there with little sisters planning for college should read this, too. "An ounce of prevention", et cetera.)

You have your orders. Stander out.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Sorry, folks...experiencing an unusual issue with my Comments. For some reason that I haven't figured out yet, there are now TWO Comments links in my posts instead of just one. They would appear to lead to two completely separate threads.

Don't know how it happened, but I'm working on it. I will try to preserve everyone's comments as best I can. If for any reason some of your comments are eliminated from previous posts in the process, I sincerely apologize. But please keep 'em coming, so I can see how things are working.

Thank you in advance for your patience.


UPDATE: Okay, I think I figured it out. It looks like the coding for my new Trackback function was responsible for adding the extra Comment link. Anyone care to test it for me? Thanks in advance.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bringing a Knife to a Gun Fight 101: The Ballad of Jimbo & Geoff

Having been a soldier once upon a time, it really raises my wolf hairs when I hear someone dumping on one. That's probably a no-brainer to both of my readers, of course (hi hunny i love you *SWAK*), but I can't help it. It just gets to me.

As you might expect, I've been getting mad a lot lately. Especially when the one doing the dumping is clearly only doing so for his own aggrandizement.

A case in point follows.

First, let me introduce you to Uncle Jimbo. Those of you more experienced in the blogosphere than I doubtless already know him. He is a former soldier who served in the Special Forces for 14 years, and has more than enough mileage in those years to have earned some serious talking rights...and he exercises them religiously. Rarely have I heard a more ferociously straight-forward defender of his comrades past and present.

He has his own virtual column at the link noted above, but it is a post or two he made in his capacity as a guest blogger of the esteemed Blackfive that I wish to point out today.

Recently, Jimbo posted a video tirade on YouTube in response to a recently-pulled Democratic Congressional Campaign commercial, which used a picture of flag-draped caskets as a political tool to denounce the current Republican administration. (At this point, I would copy the link to the ad in question here, but it has already been yanked out by the roots.)
To put it mildly, this rather stuck in Jim's craw, and he gave 'em a good carpet-bombing for it. (Profanity Warning: Carpets ain't the only bombs Jim dropped.)

Now comes the aggrandizement part. It would appear that an attention-deprived oxygen thief named Geoff decided that Jim's piece stuck in HIS craw, and commented as such therein under the moniker "RadioLeft" (and helpfully provided the rest of us with a copy of the ad itself in the process -- the Internet's a wonderful thing, ain't it?). Apparently, he decided it fell to him to pick up where the ad left off, and started denouncing....well, pretty much everything in sight, including (oh, the poor fool) Jimbo's own service record.

Thus follows Jim's rebuttal.

I will leave it to you, dear reader, to decide which of these gentlemen brought the knife.
(Hint: It ain't the guy who knows better.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Somewhere There's A Dinner Waiting....

R.I.P. -- Red Buttons: 1919-2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Take a bow, Ruby.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Two Degrees of Separation: Knowledge and Faith in America

My beloved wife mentioned something to me the other day about the whole "separation of church and state" debate that's been going on lately, and a lot of what she said makes sense. (Bear with me, folks---I'm a-fixing to ramble, I am...)

In a nutshell: There's a big difference between religion and science...or, to put a slightly finer point on it, between knowledge and faith.

See, any true scientist will tell you point-blank that he doesn't really KNOW anything. All he can really do is take a thought, develop a hypothesis, and set out to either prove or disprove that hypothesis.
Once he does that, he has a theory -- which is to say, he thinks he knows something that he didn't know before.

But when you get right down to it, a theory is just that. A theory. It's not a fact.
We do not scientifically know for a fact, for example, that the universe started its existence with a great big explosion. That's why they call it the Big Bang Theory.
Oh, sure...we have evidence that points to it. But one thing we don't have is the benefit of prolonged observation. We have not been sitting watching the universe for millions of years. We have thousands of years' fieldwork on this subject at best...which, on a universal scale, amounts to about *SNAP* that much.

A fact is a piece of information that needs no further proof or denial.
And anyone who knows anything about science and human nature knows about how long THAT lasts.

Two hundred years ago, the idea that I could type these words on a keyboard in the USA, and have these very same words read by someone in Mosul during breakfast that same day, would be laughed out of court. Among the things our founding fathers might say..."That's impossible!", or "It goes against reason!", or "It can't be done, and that's a fact!", or "Who the hell is Moe Sool?"

But then someone like, say, Ben Franklin would maybe say, "It can't be done...RIGHT NOW." And then goes out into a storm with a kite and a key and gets his hair straightened.
And then some guy in Milwaukee starts getting REAL tired of having writer's cramp all the time....
....and then some other guy finds himself in need of a helping hand from his assistant, and decides that just yelling at the wall would be rude....
....and then this OTHER nutball uses some of Ben's hair straightener to light his room with something other than fire....
....put 'em all together, and here we are.
Let's face it, folks...a weblog is really just the result of working on an electronic printing press.

And none of this would have happened if people had just taken "That's impossible" as FACT.
That's what scientists are for....the accumulation of enough knowledge to make things happen that couldn't happen before they started accumulating knowledge.

As for religion, here's where Faith steps in....and makes things a bit tricky.

First, a definition. From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to
one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions2 a (1) : belief and trust in and
loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) :
firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust3 :
something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a
system of religious beliefs synonym see BELIEF - on faith : without question

As shown above, faith can mean different things depending on what you're talking about.

For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to focus on this one:
"Firm belief in something for which there is no proof."

In this context, faith means KNOWING something is true...regardless of any input to the contrary.

Faith has been known to shore up a man's courage to sacrifice everything for what he believes in, because he has faith in himself. He KNOWS where his path may lead him, and drives on in spite of it.
Soldiers have pushed themselves to the limit and beyond, because they have faith in their comrades. They KNOW that their buddies are right there with them, ready to back them up or save their ass when it counts.

And, has sometimes led people to do things like this ...and say things like this....because they have faith in their cause.
They KNOW they're right...whether they really are or not.

Now, see? Y'all just KNEW I was gonna bring politics into it, dintcha? There it is again. You had faith that I was going to do that eventually, and so you waited around to see when it would happen. (I do so hate to disappoint my faithful readers.)

Here's the sticky part...that word "KNOW" keeps creeping into the conversation, doesn't it?
Those who truly believe aren't interested in proof or debate. They already KNOW that what they believe is right. How could it not be?

How does all this relate to "separation of church and state", you ask? Well, how about this....

It seems to me the Founding Fathers knew that, for a free society to find its best way in the world, freedom of religion was vital. A man who can worship as he pleases, generally speaking, is more able to make an asset of himself to society at large without detracting from it in the process.
Conversely, the more you restrict the way people can express their connection to the "Great Unknown", the more you restrict their possibilities for personal and societal growth.

And so, they put "In God We Trust" on the dollar bill, because they did....and they also made it so YOU didn't have to.

The problem is this...there are now, as there have likely always been, those who seem to confuse "freedom OF religion" with "freedom FROM religion".

Thus, they don't want there to be ANY place in society where it appears that one religion or another is being "endorsed" or "suppressed" by the government...and wish nothing more than to tear at this country's foundations, piece by piece, until America becomes a kind of soul vacuum where no one really knows what they believe in.

In short....until America becomes un-American.

Here's the crux of my point, friends:
In my view, one of the things that has made America the most vital, dynamic and powerful nation on the planet in the spheres of technology, medicine, military prowess and the freedom to believe in, or doubt, pretty much anything we wish.
It is the freedom to question, prod, prove, disprove, debate, and discuss damn near any topic under the sun, without having the spectre of "heretic" or "unbeliever" (or "infidel") hanging over our heads.

It is also my view that this puts a great responsibility in our hands....
That while we enjoy this freedom of faith, we must also allow our neighbors and fellow citizens to enjoy theirs....
That while we enjoy this abundant fount of scientific knowledge, we must use it and expand it to the best interest of all people whenever possible....

And that while we enjoy this freedom to live, work, worship and explore our world in our own ways...we forever remember those who came before us who argued and debated, and those who came before us who fought and died, and carved out a shelter in the world for people who had once gone without some or all of these freedoms.... that those who come after us won't have to.