Monday, April 30, 2007

From School to Jail: You're Only a Few Steps Away

Today I'm going to go on a very short rant, because the most exciting thing to talk about is Alec Baldwin, and that means there's nothing much to talk about in the news.

So instead I'm going to bring up a question that's been bothering me for some time: Why would you locate a school across the street from the county jail? It was done in Clearwater three years ago. The name of the school is Bayside High School.

As is noted in Wikipedia, Bayside has 65 surveillance cameras. However, you are only as good as your staff and your defenses. I doubt they have 65 guards watching the monitors at all times. It wouldn't be difficult for a newly-released sex offender or murderer, intent on doing harm, to acquire a weapon and head across the street.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

It could be argued that this same sex offender or murderer could drive to yet another school and be just as dangerous, but the truth is that the close proximity definately adds to the possibility.

And say that the ex-felon is even smarter than that. These are high school students, after all. That means that they drive. Many students will stop by a nearby convenience store for gas and snacks before or after school. How difficult would it be for an ex-felon to hang out there for a little while before or after school?

If a lion has two options; travel far across the Savannah for dinner or catch his supper in his own backyard; he will be looking close to home. All predators behave similarly. Do we expect our own predators to behave differently?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

How To Tell if Your Poodle is a Lamb

Yesterday it was mentioned in our local paper that many people in Japan are getting huckstered because they've never seen a lamb OR a poodle. Apparently poodles are the Hot Pet in Japan right now, and people are willing to pay upwards of $3000 to get one.

However, since most Japanese people haven't seen either poodles or lambs, some unhappy people have been sold "poodles" that turn out to be more prone to bleating instead of barking. One Japanese couple recently purchased their "poodle", and when they brought it in to get it's claws trimmed, they were informed that that part at the tip of the foot is called a HOOF. Needless to say, they weren't happy.

I am left wondering why these people are purchasing something without researching it. I was initially tempted to start my own "poodle" export business, with a lovely site devoted to lambs-in-poodle-clothing. However, my better nature got the best of me and I am now going to make it very simple for those of you in Japan that are thinking of purchasing a poodle:

P.S. Thanks to the alert readers who brought it to my attention that this is happening in JAPAN, not China. I've changed the post but am too lazy to change the pic.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Local Minister Screws Around, Pays the Price

Pastor Manuel Sykes, after 2 failed marriages (he's now on marriage #3) and a couple of kids, has suddenly been forced to disclose that he's just another babydaddy to a year-old son born out of wedlock.

Apparently Sykes was catting around in-between marriages and when he found out that one of his flings was pregnant, he implied that she needed to get an abortion (he even admits to this). The mother refused to do so, and now he's dealing with the repercussions.

Pastor Sykes is African American. Now, why is this an important detail? My friend Rosie is also AA (though she prefers the term "black"). She has told me for years that "black men are dogs, and black preachers are WORSE."

Rosie has countless stories of black preachers that sleep around, and she says this is the reason she despises all organized religion. She says (in her vast experience) that most black churches are filled with hypocrites, which is why so many black people attend church yet continue selling or doing drugs or other gang activities, whoring around, and siring plenty of out-of-wedlock children. These double standards injure the black community, keep them from being productive and acceptable members of society, and they're encouraged by their leaders through example!

This is obviously not a politically correct stance. There will certainly be an ignorant reader that accuses me of prejudice, even though I've dated people of all races and Rosie, one of my best friends, is not only black but proud to be so!

No, this is not an issue of color, but an issue of CULTURE. As Thomas Sowell wrote in his immensely important book "Black Rednecks, White Liberals", this current black culture is actually based on the white Irish immigrant culture in the late 1800s/early 1900s. (I'd quote him exactly, but Rosie has my book right now). So: White or black, such behavior allowed by a permissive culture is unhealthy and poisonous.

Manuel Sykes should immediately resign and step away from the pulpit. However, he should've stepped down years ago (most apparently) since Baptists usually frown on multiple marriages and sex partners. He is setting a bad example for his congregation and his community. Unfortunately, he is not the exception but he SHOULD be.

Someone in the black community needs to finally say "This is enough." It should start at Bethel Community Baptist Church.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

When is an 18 Year Old a Child?

Once more, I am embarassed to admit that a fellow Republican is trying to chip away at our rights. Republican Rep. Tim Murphy says that he will "... introduce a bill that would allow a university to notify a student's parents without fear of violating privacy laws if that student is deemed to be at risk of committing suicide, homicide or physical assault."

When a child becomes an adult at 18, they are entitled to the same privacy that any other adult has. How will they handle the married college students: Do they get special dispensation? Are the spouses notified before the parents? Are the parents notified at all?

We already covertly tell our 18 year olds that they're not full-fledged adults when we refuse to allow them to do the same thing that most adults do: Drink alcohol. Are we going to further muddy the definition by declaring them to be still subject to their parents?

And if we go that far, will we also reduce their criminal sentencing guidelines since they're not fully legally competant? How accountable will their parents be? What if a parent is notified, and, since the child is a legal adult, that parent can do nothing? What if that child becomes a mass murderer like Cho? Would Cho's parents be liable under the new guidelines?

We must make up our minds immediately: Are 18 year olds adults or are they not?

I am more than happy to move the age of adulthood to 21, as it once was. And since studies show that the brain isn't fully developed until age 25, I wouldn't argue moving the age up to even that! But whatever we choose, let us choose wisely and declare a certain age when a child is viewed as an adult both legally and societally.

There needs to be an age where we become a full-adult - not simply a partial one. If an 18 year old can join the military, get married, and be legally fully responsible for herself, then she also needs to be given the other rights that go along with adulthood. To do less is to question both her and ourselves.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Florida's Current Economic Woes

The most recent statistics are out, and Florida is far behind the nation's housing decline. Property sales are down, values have plummeted, and new business is declining. Another local guy with a very pretty blog called Sticks of Fire has declared that this isn't anything to be concerned about, and I'm sure he means well. But it is PRECISELY this type of rah-rah attitude that has placed us where we are today.

Floridians (particularly their leaders) are always too quick to say "let another administration handle it". Well, Bill Clinton's administration said that and we ended up with 9/11. Passing the buck or playing ostrich does not benefit Floridians. It allows the problem to accelerate like an out-of-control race car: Eventually everything will come to a screeching halt.

So, although I hate to rain on his parade, I must disagree with my fellow blogger.

Yes, Florida may still be a great place for business (even though new entries are in decline). However, it’s increasingly becoming a rotten place to live. Taxes are up, water shortages are common, land is at a premium, and the economy’s not the best.

So many people wanted a taste of our Paradise that they’ve bitten off too much and left us with too little. For instance, we now even pay to visit our own beaches, and pay a premium, at that. Natives are being forced to move away because taxes and insurance have been driven up by the carpetbaggers. Water is a scarcity and all politicians are seriously discussing the merits of desalinization plants versus the reverse osmosis process in a land where water was once plentiful and the city of Clearwater was named for it's clear water, which is no more.

Florida is a “Right to Work” state, which means that we are used, abused, drained by employers and easily discarded. I am happy that I own my own business, and I never exploited my employees, but there are so many businesses that do.

We pay high taxes, because the vast majority of businesses DON’T. We give them corporate welfare to entice them to come here and take advantage of us, and we pay the difference. Oh yes: Someone always pays. You see, 98% of all businesses in Florida do NOT pay taxes. That's right: NINETY EIGHT PERCENT.

Something is wrong in the balance.

Our economy and way of life will continue to suffer until we begin addressing our quality of living and worker’s rights. People and businesses will be forced to leave. Because, you see, quality businesses need quality workers. And both are in decline.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cheryl Crow: Crud Butt

Cheryl Crow, in typical Hollywood style, is beginning to think of herself as royalty. This is evident in her recent exchange with Carl Rove:

"As he turned to leave, Crow reached out to touch his arm. "Karl swung around and spat, 'Don't touch me'," recounted Crow and fellow eco-celebrity Laurie David in another blog. "How hardened and removed from reality must a person be to refuse to be touched by Sheryl Crow?"

But the singer was not deterred. "You can't speak to us like that, you work for us," she thundered to the departing Mr Rove, who responded, "I don't work for you, I work for the American people."

"We ARE the American people," the singer shot back."

You know, I've always wanted to actually speak for the American people like that, and use the royal "we". I think I'll start it first thing this morning at the McDonald's drive-thru:

Saur: We will have a baconeggcheesebiscuit with a diet Coke.

Pimply Drive-Thru Person: Very good. Anything else?

Saur: That completes our order, my good man. We ARE the American people, so get on with it quickly - spit spot!

Pimply Drive-Thru Person (in quavering voice): If you are the American people, shouldn't your order be a little bigger?

And how about Cheryl's latest statement: The Toilet Paper Rant? In her website, she recently proclaimed that everyone should use only one square of toilet paper unless absolute necessity drove them to three squares.

I think that this, in and of itself, completely explains her break-up with Lance Armstrong.

And if Cheryl uses so little toilet paper, does she smell like Jerry Seinfeld's infamous date that smelled like soup? Or is she even more rancid than THAT?

We can only hope that Cheryl carries a portable bidet around with her. But that leads to my next question: What does she wipe herself with when she's done?

And now something from Nadiya, an Algerian rock star who is decidedly NOT Cheryl Crow:

Monday, April 23, 2007

News of the Weird

Hamburger Meat Recalled

Due to E. coli recently discovered in a batch of hamburger meat, it's been decided to recall all meat produced last year. Wait a minute! Last YEAR? I'd say that if you're willing to eat meat that's a year old, all bets are off anyway.

Students Ask to Carry Handguns

Due to the Virginia Tech murders, some college students are clamoring to be allowed to carry guns on campus. Just what we need: Teenagers in hormonal overdrive carrying lethal weapons.

Publix Supermarkets Cut Wages

Southern premier supermarket Publix has a new performance review in which their employees may be doing a good job and still get docked pay. Many of their employees are retirees who simply want to supplement their income by bagging groceries and retrieving carts part time. Now these retirees are being told that they're not being competitive enough to merit retaining their current pay. What do they want: AARP Shopping Cart Roller Derbies?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sick This Weekend

I am so sorry that I won't be able to post this weekend, but I'm battling a bad cold and, as a chronic asthmatic, I have to take it seriously. Have a wonderful weekend and I'll "see" you on Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Your Mail and Homeland Security

I recently ordered 200 feet of quality line for my new catamaran. I didn't pay much attention to where the guy was located: I simply paid for it and waited. And waited. And waited.

Although it's been a week and a half, I still haven't received my line. Good thing that I decided against taking it out on its maiden voyage this weekend!

It turns out that the package was coming from Canada. The U.S. Postal Service was able to track it all the way until it hit Homeland Security. Apparently Homeland Security is where everything stops at a screeching halt.

The local Postmaster says that once a package arrives at Homeland Security, it can take up to three weeks to clear. Three weeks?! I can't imagine what they're doing that takes so long! Don't they just put the packages on a conveyer belt and run them through Xray? At this rate, they must have a pack of trained monkeys that fall on the packages and chew the tape off, slowly, before they poke around inside.

If Homeland Security now screens all our mail, we should be warned that they also delay it. And worse, we have no idea where it is if even the U.S. Post Office can't find it. Where is the accountability? We need to set a system in place that causes Homeland Security to be more accountable. The more they do and the less we know about it, the more I grow uneasy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Aetna's Lack of Customer Service

I am beginning to think that Aetna is deliberately avoiding me.

I was on COBRA for 18 months through my former employer. COBRA allows anyone who was on an employer's healthplan continue their coverage under that plan for another 18 months. Although you have to pay for it yourself, it's a wonderful option to have when you're starting your own business.

When COBRA runs out, you have two choices: Apply for a conversion plan (which is expensive but the chances are supposedly excellent) and an individual one (cheaper, but they judge you more strictly). I decided to apply for BOTH, reasoning that if I didn't get the individual plan, I would at least get the conversion plan.

When I called Aetna and asked to be sent paperwork for the conversion plan, it was near the beginning of March so that I could continue to have health insurance coverage, uninterrupted, when my Cobra expired at the end of March.

However, I never received a packet. A couple of weeks later, I called again and complained, and was told ANOTHER packet would be sent out. I received it, filled out the information, and mailed it back again.

A couple weeks after that, I received notice that I was denied the individual plan, which I had applied for through an agent. However, I heard nothing about the conversion plan, so I called. Aetna had no idea what I was talking about - they claim they never received it!!!

Since I didn't keep a copy of the conversion application (but had a copy of the application for the individual plan), they are sending the conversion paperwork to me AGAIN! They said they weren't "sure" if the information needed for both packets was the same. I asked if they could simply check and see, but no: It was against procedure.

I am now in the middle of April, sweating bullets, hoping that I'll get it soon, but it was supposed to arrive early this week and now it's THURSDAY!

Will I get it at all? Is Aetna interested in me whatsoever? And if I DO get it and send it out immediately, what then? Will they let even MORE time lapse until I'm officially uninsured?!

I suspect that this is their standard policy for people that they don't wish to deal with, since I have health problems. Probably most people get discouraged and leave. I'm the one annoying beggar that keeps knocking at the door.


A special thank-you to
Billy at "Critique My Blog", who recently wrote:

When given saur grapes...make wine. goes something like that...thank God this blog is a premium vintage with some of the wittiest and thought provoking writing I've come across in a while. You will find some very strong opinion here...especially about blogs in her post, Boring Blogs, where you will quickly find that this blogger knows what she does and doesn't like. I liked the style of this blogger...the stories are interesting and some have a hint of sarcasm, which I like. It is set up with no flashy widgets to take away from content and the blog is bursting with material. Nice job and you've gained a repeat visitor.


I am beginning to think that Aetna is deliberately avoiding me.

I was on COBRA for 18 months through my former employer. COBRA allows anyone who was on an employer's healthplan continue their coverage under that plan for another 18 months. Although you have to pay for it yourself, it's a wonderful option to have when you're starting your own business.

When COBRA runs out, you have two choices: Apply for a conversion plan (which is expensive but the chances are supposedly excellent) and an individual one (cheaper, but they judge you more strictly). I decided to apply for BOTH, reasoning that if I didn't get the individual plan, I would at least get the conversion plan.

When I called Aetna and asked to be sent paperwork for the conversion plan, it was near the beginning of March so that I could continue to have health insurance coverage, uninterrupted, when my Cobra expired at the end of March.

However, I never received a packet. A couple of weeks later, I called again and complained, and was told ANOTHER packet would be sent out. I received it, filled out the information, and mailed it back again.

A couple weeks after that, I received notice that I was denied the individual plan, which I had applied for through an agent. However, I heard nothing about the conversion plan, so I called. Aetna had no idea what I was talking about - they claim they never received it!!!

Since I didn't keep a copy of the conversion application (but had a copy of the application for the individual plan), they are sending the conversion paperwork to me AGAIN! They said they weren't "sure" if the information needed for both packets was the same. I asked if they could simply check and see, but no: It was against procedure.

I am now in the middle of April, sweating bullets, hoping that I'll get it soon, but it was supposed to arrive early this week and now it's THURSDAY!

Will I get it at all? Is Aetna interested in me whatsoever? And if I DO get it and send it out immediately, what then? Will they let even MORE time lapse until I'm officially uninsured?!

I suspect that this is their standard policy for people that they don't wish to deal with, since I have health problems. Probably most people get discouraged and leave. I'm the one annoying beggar that keeps knocking at the door.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cho Seung-hui: Were There Warning Signs?

I'm reading and hearing a lot about the "warning signs" that abounded for Cho Seung-hui (the Virginia Tech murderer). However, in any tragedy, hindsight is always 20/20. The instances that people mention are not any scarier than we might see in a young John Carpenter, for example. There are many angst-ridden, quiet, artistic types that do NOT go off the handle and kill innocents.

No, the warning signs were NOT clear. And that is a shame. It would be easier for us to say "Ahhh, so THAT is what we need to look for in the future".

Yes, there is an English teacher who is now triumphantly getting her 15 minutes of fame by declaring that she had recommended the boy get counseling. And perhaps she saw more than just his violent writings, although his writings are the reason she claims she grew concerned. But the writings alone mean very little: He comes across as an immature Stephen King wannabe. (I DO hope she graded him harshly, though. His play Richard McBeef is VERY badly written. It reads as if a 9th grader wrote it. Doesn't she have higher standards?!)

Everyone who encountered Cho agrees that NO one knew him. He was a quiet loner who was a little strange. No recountings of threats or previous violence have surfaced.

However, Cho WAS recently accused of stalking girls and setting a fire in a dorm room. Now THAT should have sent up warning flares, if it were true. But there are many claims made by excited college kids who are high on the adrenaline and press coverage. The truth may be a more watered-down version (Cho may have accidentally started a fire, for instance). And if these allegations weren't substantiated at the time of the occurrences, there was little that could have been done.

Since Cho's writings were obsessed with murder and pedophilia, it is very logical to assume that he was molested as a child. Now that IS a powerful warning sign. However, there are many people who were molested as children who go on to live productive, non-violent lives. Finding a creative outlet through writing would be healthier than acting upon such impulses... unless the writing was the test run.

Here Was The Warning Sign That Was Ignored

Cho initially murdered two students before 8 AM that day. If the school administration had been more concerned about their students and less concerned about their image, they would have immediately taken steps to save those additional 30 lives and 20+ wounded.

The Administration whines that students were on their way and couldn't be reached by email at that time. Really?! Have they never heard of the old-fashioned little invention called The Radio which is present in every car? A quick call to the most-listened-to radio stations would have got the word out immediately. And for the students on campus, using the school's intercom system would have solved everything.

And why were the campus police the only ones conducting a MURDER investigation? When were they planning on alerting the city police that a murderer was on the loose?

The Administration is solely responsible. THEY had the warning sign spelled out in blood, and refused to read it.

NEW DEVELOPMENT AS OF 11 AM TODAY: From ABC News: "Virginia Tech police say Seung-hui Cho was sent to a nearby mental health hospital for evaluation in December 2005, after two female schoolmates said they received threatening messages from him and school officials became concerned that he might be suicidal."

This is interesting. Still, when we are concerned with individual rights, little could have been done, regardless. However, it definately shows that Cho was a real mess.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ismail Ax

In a recent development, it's been released that the murderer who killed 32 people so far and wounded over 20 more at Virginia Tech, had the words "Ismail Ax" written in ghoulish red pen on his arm, and had left a very bitter note also signed "Ismail Ax".

Who or what is Ismail Ax? is a domain that was registered through This is all we know of the domain: Whether it's related to the murderer (South Korean immigrant Cho Seung-Hui) we don't know.

We also know that Ismail is an alternative name for Ishmael, the father of the Muslims (as Isaac is supposedly the father of the Jews). So did the murderer somehow identify with Muslim terrorists a.k.a extremists? Does Ismail Ax mean that Seung-Hui felt he was Allah's hitman? In South Korea, the Muslim population has been steadily increasing since the introduction of the faith shortly after the Korean War.

In the USA, we commonly spell "Ax" as axe. Is there a purpose to this unconventional spelling?

Ax also stands for the girl's sorority Alpha Chi Omega. Since it's rumored that the shooting spree began with Seung-Hui's girlfriend, could she have been a member of this sorority? The Virginia Tech campus DOES have a chapter. If there's a connection, it's ironic at best: Their foundation helps victims of domestic violence.

How Do We Protect Our Schools?

Yesterday's carnage at Virginia Tech was a grim reminder that there is almost no escaping a truly determined murderer. At least, that's the case at this time. However, is there anything we can do to protect our schools in the future?

Obviously the administration at Virginia Tech made a terrible blunder when they didn't alert the media, their staff, and their students when the murderer made his first kills before 8 AM. They claim that they thought he'd left the campus and that they had believed the kills were due to a domestic dispute. Of course their underlying motive was that they didn't want the bad publicity. Remember, universities are intensely political.

Two hours after that, the murderer struck again in a different part of campus, killing another 30 people in addition to his first two victims. And, of course, wounding over 20 others. We are indeed lucky that he stopped at this number. It could have been twice that and / or he could have had an accomplice.

But what else could have been done? I heard a student calling a local radio show, suggesting that anyone with a license to carry a gun should be allowed to do so on campus, from now on.

What a terrible idea! I can certainly see older, wiser faculty carrying guns as long as they're in good shape and it's not likely that a student could wrest the gun from them. But the problem is that we're dealing with teenagers: Simply because they're attending college doesn't make them any more mature than when they were attending high school. They still have the raging hormones, the inflated passions, and the lack of self control. Remember, studies show that the human brain isn't fully developed until age 25, and the part that remains undeveloped is the part which is responsible for self control and decision making.

I've also heard it suggested that armed policemen should roam the campus. Perhaps that might help, but unless there are policemen blanketing the campus, the same scenario could still be repeated.

The answer is sad, but very simple. We need to enclose every campus with a fence tall enough that it can't be scaled, and solid enough that it can't be cut or rammed through. We need to have several gates positioned along the walls, with metal detectors embedded in each entrance. We need armed guards at each entrance, screening the students as they come and go.

In other words, in order to effectively protect ourselves, we need to go back to the feudal solutions of yesteryear and create fortresses once more.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Saur's Exclusive Peek at Anna Nicole Smith's Diaries!

In one of the greatest coups of journalism, I have been exclusively granted a peek at both of the Anna Nicole Smith diaries up for auction here. Some fascinating quotes include (as you will see): "Someone ran over my cat yesterday I was real sad", "Clay came over last nite to give me some sleeping pills", and "I hate for men to want sex all the time. I hate sex anyway".

However, there are entries that are NOT shown. I am about to share them with you now. Please: Do not ask me how I got these. I must protect my sources.

June 6, 1992

Dear Diary: I think MC Hammer is cute. Shh! Don't tell anybody! ...Guess what? I met this guy named Bill Clinton today. he is running for president! I hope he gets it. His wife sure is an awful sourpuss! she kept staring at my boobys. I wanted to ask her What? you can't aford plastic surgery? I told Bill that I always wanted to sing that Happy Birthday song to a president, just like Marilyn did for JFK. that wife of his REALLY looked pissed off, then! I don't get it? Maybe its cuz I got the cover of Playboy this year. lots of girls are pissed off about that.

August 22, 1994

Dear Diary: Last nite I tried a new sleeping pill. it was good! so I took 5 more. I couldn't sleep becuz I was very mad. I found out that I am on the cover of New york magazine with a picture of me squatting in a white cowboy skirt eating potato chips. the title is White Trash Nation! I am going to sue them! I NEVER really eat potato chips. It was just for the photo shoot! well - maybe I eat them sometimes. but I didn't look good in that skirt, either. hey! guess what? the president's birthday was a couple of days ago and I STILL didnt get called to come sing for him. Must be that wife of his. I never liked her. she reminds me of my third grade teacher - the one that was always trying to teach me to read and write and other stuff I never needed.

There are many more titilating entries like this. I recommend you check out the site so that you, too, can be privy to Anna Nicole's deepest and most scintillating thoughts.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Abstinence Education Doesn't Work? Why?

Somehow, at one time, our nation didn't need classes on sex education. Miraculously, babies still were born, sex still flourished, and so did diseases and unwanted pregnancies. It was the negative aspects that caused us, ultimately, to rethink sex education. It was believed at that time that sex education in public schools would solve such problems.

The Bush administration (and other conservative groups) decided that if they were going to be forced to discuss sex in the classroom, abstinence would be the superior method. Yet, a recent and long-awaited study claims that abstinence-themed sex ed does no more to stop teen sexual practices than the alternative.

Has no one taken societal change into the equation? In some ways, as Karl Marx once wrote, religion IS the opiate of the masses. However, believe in it or not, religion usually DOES give people that internal "Big Brother" that prevents destructive behavior. Without it, we are prey to our more base animal instincts.

Despite the fact that roughly 91% of Americans say they believe in a god, only 18.7% take him or her seriously enough to participate regularly in their faith by attending church, synagogue, mosque, or what-have-you. Obviously a belief in a god doesn't translate into taking his or her precepts seriously.

It is interesting to note that many children in abstinence-only programs initially were more against sex outside of marriage, until they aged and found themselves in the same set of social circumstances that other teens were in. Again, without that moral compass, standards are merely words that haven't been internalized.

In my family, all the children are told about what sex is around the age of 5. Knowing about sex is as natural as knowing where chicken eggs come from. It is not a taboo subject. However, it IS presented within the light of moral standards and beliefs, backed by a belief in God and HIS standards. Although none of us are perfect, most remained virgins until marriage.

The problem doesn't lie in sex education: No matter WHAT the method is. The problem is the rot within our society and our lack of conscience. And no education in the world will remedy that.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Has the Florida Legislature Lost Their MINDS?

From today's St. Pete Times article:

"State Rep. Don Brown thought he was being "cute." His fellow Republicans in the Florida House had another word for it: racist.

Brown, a DeFuniak Springs Republican, apologized Thursday for sending an e-mail to his colleagues that noted the April 17 federal income tax deadline.

"Don't forget to pay your taxes -- 12-million illegal aliens are depending on you!" Brown wrote in a message to his colleagues on a state-issued email account.

What Brown meant as a joke wasn't interpreted that way. The strongest criticism came from his fellow Republicans -- Hispanics with large immigrant constituencies in South Florida."

The article goes on to name the legislators who had decided to complain about the email: House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-Miami; Rep. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah; Rep. Juan-Carlos Planas.

Now Brown is actually apologizing!!! For WHAT?! Telling the truth? Dear God, has it come to that? Must we apologize for the unpleasant truth?

Look, I know that Florida Republicans love illegal immigrants. They're what keep our resort and restaurant owners happy, and what's good for them is great for tourism! You can hire 2 illegal immigrants for the price of one legal one.

However, isn't this going to extremes? Brown had made it perfectly clear that he was talking about ILLEGAL immigrants, and it's true that we spend massive tax dollars on them. They may be good for BUSINESS, but they're eating us alive in healthcare, social security costs, and other taxes. WE are paying for their free ride.

This has to stop! The responses that Rubio, Garcia, and Planas have had are reprehensible! Isn't anyone else in the legislature going to stand up to them?

Don Brown: Get a backbone! Stand up for what you believe! With any luck, you may have some influence in Tallahassee, where they're supposed to be representing the LEGAL residents of Florida.

Readers: Now it's YOUR turn. Do something about this! Write to the Florida House of Representatives today!


This letter was sent to EVERYONE in the Florida House. Of all the recipients, the ONLY one who took the time to read it and have a staff member discuss it with me was Rep. Michael J. Grant of District 71. A special thanks to him, and Maureen Garrard, his Senior Legislative Aide.

Maureen says, "Rep. Grant doesn't believe in canned responses- he actually reads the comments from citizens, too. What can I say- he understands what a republic is!" Apparently, he does. We need more politicians like Rep. Grant.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Two Great Men

Kurt Vonnegut: Dead at 84

Kurt Vonnegut, well-known novelist, is dead. This will sadden many of us. To me, his writing was always varied. I've been told that my fiction reads as his, but I had never read a Vonnegut novel until I read the marvellous "Hocus Pocus". Interestingly, this was very different from his novel "The Sirens of Titan", which had been recommended to me by Paul.

Vonnegut obviously strongly influenced Douglas Adams, author of the fantastic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, and I'm sure his influence is seen among many other authors as well. Vonnegut is most famous for a novel I never read: Slaughterhouse Five. I think it's time to go out and buy it, in memory of a genius.

Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson revealed yesterday that he had been diagnosed three years ago with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (a type of cancer). However, he has added that he's in remission.

This is good news to many who are hoping that Thompson may run for President of the United States. He is the only Republican candidate capable of winning, and he is truly an old-fashioned Reagan Republican.

Thompson still hasn't announced his intentions, but there is a tremendous grass roots campaign to get him to run, and many of us old dogs will come out of retirement to help him. It seems obvious that his recent admission is a way to test the waters subtly. Savvy journalists are watching him closely.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We're Halfway There!

Today's Wednesday, which means we're halfway to the weekend. Frankly, I need it. I've been burning the candle at both ends: I even worked all day on Easter, getting things up on Ebay. Currently I'm juggling my job, Ebay, my everyday duties (which are being sorely neglected), and my friends and family (also sorely neglected). I am looking in despair at my toes, which are usually flawless. Right now the paint is chipped and there is no repair work planned today.

Still, I can't resist weighing in on a few items:

1. Imus: Because I despise the old crypt keeper, I am having a hard time remaining unbiased. Still, even from an impartial viewpoint, I must ask why in the HECK would someone who is supposedly liberal make such terrible statements? I realize it could have been worse, but not by much. He deserves the 2 week suspension, and he needs to sit down, shut up, and take it with grace. He'll be lucky if the 2 week suspension doesn't turn into a lifetime one.

2. Dannielynn's Dad: The long and agonizing dispute has finally been resolved and we know that Larry Birkhead is Anna Nicole's babydaddy. This is widely hailed as a better alternative than her former attorney Howard Stern, who was most apparently manipulating the situation to the best of his advantage. Since his slurring meal ticket had just died, Dannielynn was Stern's last hope to live in the manner he'd like to be accustomed.

The only question now is: How genuine is Birkhead? Will he become the father that Dannielynn needs, or does he only see her as potentially the heiress of millions? If this little girl grows up in boarding schools or among nannies, it would be no worse than she would have experienced with Anna Nicole. Never the less, as with all children, Dannielynn deserves love.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Government Bows to Business Over Manatee Issue

The manatee is in danger of being wiped out completely, because the manatee may be declared un-endangered soon. I've written about this problem before.

"The manatee is about to be declared un-endangered?" you ask. "Well then, doesn't that mean that it IS?"

No. It simply means that the big business of Tourism has won.

You see, it's just so darned inconvenient to have to worry about manatees when you're boating in our lovely Floridian waters. So, if you want to rev things up, Florida must declare the manatee to be just fine. That means you have to get the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in on the con, and you have to throw out the standards which are used to evaluate such situations.

" reach that conclusion, federal wildlife officials had to ignore scientific criteria they put in place in 2001 and assume the threats facing manatees will not increase," reports an article in the St. Pete Times today. However, threats will certainly increase as our population continues to rise and boaters are once allowed to speed throughout the waters in which the manatees live in. As a portent of things to come, the Times reported "Last year, speeding boaters killed 86 manatees, a 43 percent increase over the number killed 10 years before."

Any fool could see that this is a bad idea, and scientists are very alarmed. However, that won't stop Tourism; no sirree! Florida, land of chads and Katherine Wilson, puts tourists first. Who needs manatees, anyway? They just become speed bumps in the water.

This is a far cry from Florida's "Alligator Problem" that we had in the 1970s. Back then, it was politically correct to declare the alligators endangered (when they weren't) because environmentalism was the Fad of the Moment and it didn't impact Big Business. But now, the Bush administration has set the tone: Environmental issues are for sissies. Big Business reigns supreme: Long live the King.

Why did environmental issues get hijacked by the left? How come conservatives can't take it seriously? Do they forget that mankind was given charge over the earth (or so it says in Genesis, in the Bible). Of course I suppose they could argue that since they're in charge of the earth, manatees be damned. But is that truly good stewardship? When tourism can live peacefully alongside the manatees, do we really need to change the status? Why fix it if it isn't broken?

The state wildlife commission is expected to downgrade the manatees's status to "threatened" this summer. Unless we write to our legislators and demand that they do something about it.


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Monday, April 09, 2007

No Writing Today, Sorry!

I am so sorry... I kept trying to get back to my initial diatribe but I'm too swamped to write today, apparently.

Word to the wise: Watch Pakistan. Our future lies in the outcome of the current unrest.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Not Blogging This Weekend

I'm so sorry to disappoint any of you, but I'm not going to be blogging this weekend. It's Easter Weekend and it's too gorgeous and fun and wonderful and I am currently suffering from Spring Fever.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Felons Granted Civil Rights in Florida

Yesterday Florida decided to come out of the dark ages and grant civil rights to ex-felons. Florida was only one of 5 remaining states that did not restore civil rights after time served.

Some of my fellow Republicans disagree with this. They vocally fear that this will allow the lawless to make the laws, and grant them the ability to get certain licenses that will admit them into our homes. But privately, they're worried that these ex-felons will vote Democrat.

Truthfully, the likelihood that ex-felons could sway the vote is ridiculous. Most of the ex-felons I've run into could not care less. And, neither could the American public. Only about 60% of us turn out to vote during our biggest election: The Presidential race.

But more importantly, we have to ask ourselves why we should impose additional punishments and restrictions upon someone who has already served their time. If we feel that those punishments and restrictions were not enough, then we need to revise our laws instead of denying them their constitutional rights.

Granted, recidivism (return to criminal behavior) is at 45% in the state of Florida. However, that is far better than the national rate of 67.5% (as reported by the Department of Justice based on statistics culled from 1994).

I would argue that some recidivism can often be attributed to the experience of ex-felons who, when returning to society, find that they cannot get a job because they were convicted of a past crime. Some ex-felons cannot return to any skilled labor whatsoever. And, as a result, they are either forced into a life of poverty (which also consigns their families to poverty) or they go back to the lucrative life of crime.

It is time that we allow ex-felons to prove themselves. It is not fair that we continue to treat them with the assumption that they will continue to do the wrong things. It is hypocritical to not want other people to judge us by our mistakes, and yet assume that ex-felons will never learn.

This move now gives ex-felons in Florida the chance to live as other human beings. And if they choose to repeat their crimes, they can repeat their time. Otherwise, they have served their sentences, and now it's time for them to move on.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Make Your Own Pet Food


Due to the continuing pet deaths we're seeing, I am considering making my own dog food. I decided to do some research, and was surprised to find that some people are submitting ideas and recipes that include foods which are poisonous to dogs such as GARLIC, ONIONS, and CHIVES. These contain thiosulfate, which causes Heinz body anemia, a condition that could cause circulating blood cells to burst.


ANIMAL FAT & FRIED FOODS: Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis. It's wise to keep fat to a minimal, as it can easily pack the pounds onto your dog and cause further health issues.

AVOCADOS: The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart.

BONES: Despite the fact that our parents always saved a soup bone for Rover, bones can splinter and damage a dog's internal organs. The most dangerous are chicken bones, and fish bones come second. However, it's recommended that you avoid ALL animal bones.

CHOCOLATE: Chocolate contains theobromides, which can cause seizures, coma and death. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromides as humans can do.

COFFEE & TEA: Drinks and foods containing caffeine cause many of the same symptoms chocolate causes.

DAIRY: Use sparingly. Because of it's high fat content, it creates the same problems that animal fat does. However, non-fat or low-fat products are acceptable in small quantities.

GRAPES & RAISINS: Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill a dog.

MACADAMIA NUTS: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis.

NUTMEG: Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and can lead to death.

PORK: This is a meat that is not easily digested by dogs.

RAW EGGS: Raw eggs can cause salmonella poisoning. Since there's no need for raw eggs in a dog's diet, this is easily avoided.

SALT: Excessive salt intake can cause kidney problems. Since dogs really don't need salt in their food to begin with, it's a needless ingredient.

SEEDS OF APPLES, CHERRIES, PEACHES & SIMILAR FRUIT: The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide, so if you're going to give your dog fruit, make sure there are no seeds present.

TOMATOES: Tomatoes can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias.


Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not carnivores. In fact, like people, they are omnivores. A dog's natural diet should be 40% meat, 30% vegetables, and 30% starch. Meats should NOT be prime cuts such as humans eat. It's a simple waste of money when dogs thrive on the stuff we usually throw away; organ meats. Of course it's fine to use ground turkey, chicken, or beef. But it's important to avoid large cuts that a dog could choke on, and it's unnecessary to spend money on sirloin when low-fat ground beef is as acceptable.

If your dog has a delicate stomach, try a more digestible combination of ground lamb/mutton, boiled and finely mashed vegetables, and rice. Otherwise, any combination of cooked meats, cooked vegetables, and starches (such as ground oats, rice, flour, cornmeal) is a good choice.


I know The Lazy Iguana will want a cat food recipe, but cats are carnivores and so the recipe is very simple: Meat.

Although some cat foods contain things other than pure meat, they are not as good for your cats as a pure meat diet. If you are going to make your own cat food, some veterinarians recommend including digestive enzyme supplements in a homemade diet, so check with your vet first.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Forced Quarantine

Yesterday several news sources reported on a man (Robert Daniels) who has a particularly nasty antibiotic-resistant strain of tuberculosis, and was jailed because he continued to expose the public to the disease. Since the man had been ordered to wear a mask in public, but had opted not to, he has been confined to a sickroom equipped to handle his disease and keep him in isolation.

From the report, it appears that he is not getting optimal treatment. He has to clean himself with wet wipes, and has no access to computer or TV. Let's try to work up some sympathy for this man: ...Try not to strain yourself.

What? You can't feel much sympathy? Me either! Since Daniels was hell-bent on being an "individual" with no regard to his fellow man, his fellow man should have no further regard for HIM. We're just lucky he didn't infect an innocent bystander.

This is merely a prelude of things to come.

As diseases become more virulent, we will need to take more drastic measures. We haven't seen a serious flu since the Pandemic of 1918. And since that was almost a century ago, there aren't many people that remember it at all. We have forgotten what it is like to see our loved ones die in front of us, within hours or days. Because we have forgotten this, we may be doomed to repeat it if we don't prepare ourselves for the worst.

In the 80s, people clamored for AIDS patients to be isolated, too (just as Typhoid Mary was). The only reason it didn't happen is that it wasn't politically correct, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) was PRETTY sure it was only sexually transmitted (which is how it remains for now, until it mutates again).

However, with the Ebola virus, the Bird Flu, and Smallpox waiting in the wings (along with a variety of other diseases), it's only a matter of time before we are in the same situation that we were in during the Pandemic of 1918.

This time, we COULD be better prepared, but I am very concerned because I believe that we are not. We are so hampered by worrying over individual freedoms that we will be too busy wringing our hands in indecision while the disease overtakes our nation.

Robert Daniels is preparing to petition the courts to let him go. I assume he's going to promise to do the right thing THIS time, and wear a mask when he's out in public. Are we going to take his word for it? Do people who are walking death merchants deserve a second chance? And, more importantly, do they even deserve a FIRST one? Remember, these are our lives, and the lives of our families, at stake.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Chocolate Christ

A naked chocolate man might be received differently if it were a sculpture of a movie celebrity accustomed to being regularly stripped by the media.

However, the Catholic church recently grew incensed when a nude, life-sized sculpture of Jesus Christ (made completely of milk chocolate) was put on display in Manhattan. Titled "My Sweet Lord," the sculpture was created by the notorious artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who is known for using foodstuffs to create what is believed to be art.

Perhaps if Cavallaro had supplied the sculpture with a loin cloth, this controversy wouldn't have happened. However, Mark 15:24 makes it very clear that Jesus Christ WAS crucified naked. If Cavallaro intended to create shock, he certainly did. However, he also (intentionally or unintentionally) was very accurate in his depiction.

As a born-again Christian, I had no objection to this sculpture since, for one thing, we have no earthly idea what Jesus Christ looked like. And, Jesus Christ has been depicted nude before.

Leo Steinberg, author of "The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and In Modern Oblivion", names numerous nude depictions of Jesus Christ both as a child and a full-grown man. He believes these representations were made to drive home both the humanity and vulnerability of Jesus Christ, since his divinity had already been established by medieval times.

Michelangelo's lesser-known sculpture and drawing of "The Risen Christ" show a triumphant Jesus Christ, arms outstretched upwards and completely naked. This is a compelling presentation full of joy and celebration of life. The Catholic Church did not object strenuously THEN. In fact, the sculpture still resides in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva and Michelangelo went on to be commissioned to do the Sistine Chapel and numerous other works for the Catholic Church.

Apparently the real problem with "My Sweet Lord" seems to stem from the medium involved. If it had been sculpted of marble, it would be hailed as a masterpiece. But the milk chocolate (and the obvious pun in the title of the piece) seems to have created a bittersweet taste in the mouths of the viewers. This is a pity, since the actual sculpture is beautifully executed.

Shockingly, people who are supposedly followers of Jesus Christ have made death threats to the artist. The same Jesus Christ who healed the ear of one of his enemies (Luke 22:50-51) would not condone such behavior.

This is the Easter season, when thoughts turn to both Jesus Christ's resurrection and chocolate bunnies. Cavallaro combined the two into a work of art. We are a nation of chocoholics: Why not combine our almost sacred worship of the confection with a sacred moment in history?

We should merely be glad that Cavallaro didn't use jellybeans.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Alternatives to Diamond Engagement Rings

Because I am hearing of recent engagements in my circle of friends, I want to discuss some alternatives to the classic engagement ring.

Diamonds are a girl's worst enemy! Since I have written about the problems with the diamond industry before (here and here), I won't bore you with any of the details here. However, suffice it to say that even if diamonds WERE a marvelous choice, they're also an expensive one. Most couples that are starting out would be wiser to save the money for a honeymoon or household expenses. Going into debt for a small, clear rock is a poor choice when faced with other bills that quickly mount up because, I assure you, two can NOT live as cheaply as one.

Many people will be surprised to hear that the diamond engagement ring has only been a tradition over the last 100 years or so. As Wikipedia rightly states, "The establishment of the diamond engagement ring as a standard in Western culture is a result of one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history..."

So, what are the alternatives to the diamond engagement ring?


There are some lovely, flawless CZs available in gold or platinum settings. Such rings mimic the diamond but give you more bang for your buck. A $5,000 diamond ring becomes a $200 CZ ring, and can be purchased with ease through Ebay or the Home Shopping Network.


When she was engaged in the early 1980s, Princess Diana was given a lovely sapphire engagement ring. Suddenly everyone realized that diamonds weren't the only option.

Colored gemstones are a wonderful way to stand out and proclaim that YOUR union is exceptional. A Note of Caution: Make sure that this is the ring and color that you can live with because, with any luck, you'll wear that ring for as long as you live.

Gemstones that make durable and beautiful engagement stones are the "hard" gemstones such as alexandrite, amethyst, aquamarine, citrine, garnet, morganite, rubies, sapphires, topaz, prasiolite, tanzanite, tourmaline, iolite, quartz (rose, smoky or green), spinel, and zircons (which are not the same as cubic zirconia).

I recommend against "soft" gemstones such as emeralds, pearls, or opals, because they are not durable enough for everyday wear. Also, stay away from the "mystic" stones such as mystic topaz. They're treated with a fine metallic mist which gives them their unusual color. Over time, if they're worn continually, they will lose their finish.


The Irish Claddagh ring (two hands encircling a crowned heart) is a classically symbolic ring meaning "Let love and friendship reign together." If it is worn as an engagement ring, it is traditional to wear it with the heart and crown facing away from the wearer.

Other decorations could include celtic knots (indicating you are permanently intertwined with each other), the eternity symbol, or connected hearts.

Birthstones are also a wonderful way to decorate your ring with representations of each other. And, of course, rings can always be engraved with names and promises.


Men now wear engagement rings, too. Sometimes his engagement ring becomes his wedding ring, sometimes it becomes his right hand ring when he's married, or sometimes he will double up the rings on his ring finger.

Just like your wedding plans, don't feel so bound by tradition that you don't do what you wish to do. This is YOUR life, YOUR wedding, YOUR rings.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Dangerous Dog Breeds Should be Eliminated

I am shocked by how many people equate dogs with humans. This is apparently a growing phenomena, as a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association found that more than half the pet owners surveyed would choose the companionship of their pet over another human if they were to be stranded on a deserted island.

However, unlike humans, dogs are still merely animals. And, unlike humans, dangerous breeds have been BRED to be dangerous. To the best of my knowlege, we are not practicing selective breeding of humans yet.

Since there are certain dogs that have been created to be more vicious than others, it stands to reason that not all breeds are alike. For instance, the American Pit Bull Terrier was specifically bred to be an aggressive dog for dogfighting in the ring or "pit". Their "best" traits include tenacity, large wide jaws, stubbornness, aggressiveness, and a high pain tolerance. The tough ones made it in the pit; the weak ones didn't.

Sure, American Pit Bull Terriers might make fine pets...until they snap and show another side. Because they've got such violence bred deep into the bone, these traits can appear at any time. A sweet family dog can be perfect one moment, and tearing up a newborn baby the next. Is it the owner's fault? Do we REALLY believe that aggressive dogs are ALWAYS the result of an abusive owner?!

Rottweilers are definately as dangerous as pit bulls. In 2000, CNN reported on a study that claimed Rottweilers had surpassed pit bulls as America's deadliest dog breed. Their reputation has been known for a long while in the U.K., where Rotties have the same reputation that pit bulls have here.

Like American Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers were bred for traits that make them incompatible in domestic homes. Although their origins are shrouded in mystery, we know that they were used as guard dogs and also in dog fighting: They hardly share the same traits with a Poodle or even a German Shepherd!

I have heard it said that such breeds, though aggressive toward other dogs, haven't been bred to be aggressive to humans. Never the less, their general aggressive behavior easily extends towards humans. Whether it starts with a dog-on-dog attack or dog-on-human attack, there are (on average) 340 dog attacks on humans in the U.S.A. per year; of which (on average) 17 result in the death of a man, woman, or child.

If we truly believe that a dog attack is the result of the owner and not the breed, then all owners of such dogs should be given mandatory prison sentences when their dogs attack.

Otherwise, we need to realize that such dogs have been created over many generations and merely wishing that it wasn't so won't change the fact that they're bad to the bone.

The answer is simple: We don't have to euthanize these animals. We merely need to demand mandatory sterilization, and the problem will take care of itself within this generation.