Thursday, May 24, 2007

My Guest Writers!

I'm going on vacation for a week. That's right! A whole week! I'm going to North Carolina with my son to spend some time sightseeing and visiting with my parents. When I come back, I'm sure I'll have great stories to tell. But in the meantime, I would hate to see you sit there, languishing away... possibly not eating or sleeping because you miss your daily dose of SaurKraut.

(OK, I'm kidding. I'm not that egotistical yet. When I start using the royal "WE" like Cheryl Crow does, you can start worrying. But not yet.)

Still, there are some of you that have flattered me with daily attention and I'd love to continue to entertain you while I'm gone. So, I enlisted the help of 7 fellow bloggers who are SURE to entertain and enlighten you... And maybe raise your blood pressure just a tad, too. They come from all different backgrounds and walks of life and many have little to nothing in common with each other except for one thing: They're highly intelligent and VERY interesting.

So without further ado, let me introduce the schedule for the next week (NOTE: You'll have to go to THEIR site on that particular day):

FRIDAY 5/25: United We Lay (on The Least Known-About Stories for 2006-2007)

SATURDAY 5/26: Dr. Paul (Undoubtedly a relationship debacle since he's The Love Doctor)

SUNDAY 5/27: The Lazy Iguana (Topic unannounced but something Florida-y)

MONDAY 5/28: Mike Althouse (Topic unannounced)

TUESDAY 5/29: Eddo (on House Shopping Horrors)

WEDNESDAY 5/30: Mr. Gray Ghost (Topic unannounced)

THURSDAY 5/31: TS (on Biblical Perspectives on Illegal Immigration. This will be a video blog!)

Now let me tell you a little about each of my guests:

United We Lay (UWL) is a teacher in the northeastern USA. She originally hails from the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, which is where I met her years ago through the school blog that I share with Michelle. She's a new mom, but motherhood hasn't softened her at all. She remains fiercely passionate about many issues and, although we don't always agree, I highly respect her.

Dr. Paul is a relationship guru. He has an ongoing online radio show on relationship issues, and for years had a relationship show in the Tampa Bay Area as well as in other major metropolitan areas throughout the USA. He happens to be a personal friend whom I've known for many years. He is hardly Dr. Phil! He tackles problems with a keen sense of humor and an open mind.

The Lazy Iguana has had a variety of interesting jobs, ranging from teaching to being a liason for famous foreign diplomats on American soil. He has a marvelous dry wit and, although he doesn't have a southern accent, he speaks with a decided Floridian flavor. He is a wonderful tour-guide, and if YOU get a chance to go to Miami, you really must look him up! Trust me! Like me, he has a variety of pets and experiences and shares my love of the truth, boating, and fish n' chips.

Mike Althouse is a journalism student at California State University. He decided to go back to college late in life after some life-altering experiences. He recently won the Thinking Blogger Award and it was very well-deserved. He is a fascinating man with incredible insights, whose talents and interests are so wide-ranging that I don't have the ability to begin to list them all. Find out for yourself by visiting his various blogs!

Eddo lives in Texas. He is a brilliant website designer on the side, though he has another job during the day. He is a former Mavs Maniac (which is basically a male cheerleader for the Dallas Mavericks). He is very energetic and funny, but he also has an amazing soft side which can be seen in his Marry Me blog. That's right! He's single and available, ladies! (As are... well... most of us. Perhaps I need to blog a little less.)

Mr. Gray Ghost describes himself as a "Student of Life, lover of God, Black, Democrat, scribe, conservative, believer in self-responsibility, procrastinator, son of Nora, resident of Brooklyn, New York." Despite being a Democrat, Gray tends toward the conservative viewpoint. And like many of us, he's not easily pigeonholed: He enjoys a wide variety of music, literature, and entertainment. Gray is never afraid to tell it like it is, but his bluntness is tempered with style.

TS is a married Christian Charasmatic preacher. He's the father of an absolutely gorgeous little girl: We've seen her grow up through his blog. He has a great burden in his heart for the oppressed Chinese people and is a very thoughtful, loving writer. When he speaks of the issues of today, he is not condemnatory, but saddened by some of the horrors that we all see. He is also extremely tech-savvy, and interested in anything that I couldn't possibly understand.

Why wasn't *I* picked?!

Please understand that if I didn't approach you about this project, you were not neglected because I don't like you or find you to be of no interest! You are listed in my links for a reason (I don't merely do link-exchanges). However, there were only 7 days and therefore I am limited to only 7 writers. If I get lucky enough to go on another vacation this year, I may be asking YOU for help, next!

Wish me safety and lots of fun! I will "see" you here next Friday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Child Support Scam: BEWARE!

(click on the picture to see an enlarged version)

A friend just brought this letter to my attention today. It gave him days of unrest, and you can see why! It's a pretty scary, threatening missive full of dire legal threats. He had thought his child support was all paid up and everything was OK until he saw this! In a panic, he left Lisa Culp repeated messages, trying to find out what was going on. For two days she didn't return his calls. Today he finally got through.

At first, she told him that he needs to pay his child support but she is no longer on his case. (Well THAT sounded very efficient and official, didn't it?) She also added that he needed to contact the State of Florida.

"Why?" My friend asked. "This letter says that I owe $500 and I know that this is not my exact payment. There's a discrepancy in your amount." She hemmed and hawed a little.

He said "I told her "I'd like to know where you got this information from! It's tied to my name! I have a legally binding court order that tells me when my child support is due." I then asked her if SHE had the legal State of Florida paperwork. She wouldn't really answer. That's when a lightbulb went off in my head and I realized that I had the answer: This wasn't on official State of Florida stationary!!! I said "You're not really The State of Florida, are you?"

She finally admitted "Well... we're a third party collection agency..."

He said "So you're a company that has absolutely nothing to do with the State of Florida, you're threatening ME with license revocation and attorneys, when you actually have NO power whatsoever." She couldn't deny it. Then he asked her where she got off asking for $500 when his child support was only $375. She told him that there were additional fees for THEIR "services".

Not a bad scam, huh? Send out nasty letters to people who owe child support and net MAJOR bucks per collection. Notice that their company name is "Child Support Enforcement" and is a division of "SupportKids, Inc." Both names come very close to the State of Florida programs.

My friend went to to investigate further. Upon entering a fictitious name and account, he found out what their fees are (after having to answer a lot of very personal and potentially embarassing questions). As they say (thus implying this could be solving a court case for you) "Since we are only paid out of the money we collect for you, our success is your success... We don't win unless you do!" It also admits that the fees are 25% of what is collected! Therefore, they would have netted $125 from the $500, would have passed on only $375 to the State of Florida, and the mother would have only received that $375. Both families would suffer and be out the $125, for NO reason whatsoever.

Do you know how many people must pay this??? Not only does this company give the impression that THEY have the ability to take away your license, they also give the impression that they have the ability to help you KEEP your license.

This company certainly can't guarantee all other enforcement will stop (since they're not a governing authority), so they will send your check on but they don't give a crap as to whether you'll actually be in compliance or not, nor can they intervene if there are difficulties!

I don't know if they could be held liable or not, but I fear for those people that are ignorant enough to fall for this. You know that there are still people who fall for all those Nigerian scams! How much more believable is THIS one?!

They must make a FORTUNE off their unfortunate victims.

P.S. My friend received a call from ANOTHER person from that company, who hadn't realized that he'd already spoken with Lisa Culp. THIS person actually lied to him and told him that the additional $125 was for back-child support. When he confronted her with this lie, she told him that they were simply trying to provide a service as a courtesy to him. "A COURTESY?" he asked. "This is an attempt at INTIMIDATION! You are trying to strong-arm unfortunates, giving someone the illusion that you can prevent legal action in an attempt to get money."

My Space

My Space, the hot n' trendy teenybopper mini-version of Blogger is popular with the 20-and-under crowd. It's easy to use, requires no thought (which quickly becomes obvious) and relatively amoral if not downright immoral. This is due, of course, to its ease of use which allows anyone easy access to others and gives them the ability to participate anonymously.

However, I was somewhat surprised that My Space has agreed to give over the names of all suspected child molestors to different State Attorneys in at least 8 states. To read more as to their reasons, and the complications, go to this article at Mac News.

We all hate child molestors (I can't think of a stronger word than "hate"). It's one of those perversions that even angers a hardened convict sitting in prison. As most of us know, child molestors and murderers often have to get locked away outside of the general population, because if they don't, their days are numbered (remember Jeffrey Dahmer?)

Never the less, many people are wondering today: If My Space so easily turns over personal information, who will be next?

In my humble opinion, My Space is an abomination. Most of the contributions range from the inane to the dowright repulsive. A random scan today brought up posts on partying naked and vomiting all over yourself, porn, and other crap. But when it comes to privacy on the internet, where do we draw the line? Happily it's child molestors today, but what about tomorrow?

Many people turn to Blogger for freedom of expression in an anonymous format. We currently feel secure because Google has refused governmental fishing expeditions before. But obviously My Space may not have the same standards. And for people who have accounts both with My Space AND with Blogger: Your identity may be safe with Blogger for now. But if you're somehow linked to My Space, it may not be for long.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Florida's Movin' On Up (in the Primaries)

Our new governor, Charlie Crist, has just signed a bill that puts Florida right behind Iowa and Nevada caucuses and the New Hampshire primary and on the same day as South Carolina's Democratic primary. I think the belief is that this will force candidates to take Florida seriously. Goodness knows no one ELSE does.

If we are so anxious to put ourselves out there, I want to know WHY. I'll grant you that we've developed a very large population. In fact, so many Cubans, Mexicans, and northerners have moved here that we're in danger of tipping over and sinking. (NO: That's not a racist statement. I'm speaking the truth. These are the demographics.)

But our large population consists of many illegals, and certainly THEY aren't able to vote. Yet.

And our state is well-known for it's political debacles. Think chads. Think Katherine Harris. And more importantly, our electronic vote systems aren't fool-proof and we don't back them up with paper. In fact, some cynics might wonder why Crist bothered. What's the point? After all, any election can be easily rigged now: These electronic voting machines are hardly fool-proof (as studies and experience have shown - go to Black Box Voting for more info).

And of course we have the Electoral College. Most people actually believe that their vote counts! (Well, it might to a small extent). Our votes don't actually elect the President of the United States, but they tell the Electoral College what we'd LIKE to see happen. It's up to them to agree with us or disagree. Most of the time they agree, but they certainly have the option to go against our wishes, too. It's rather ironic that so many people are urged to get out and vote, and that their vote counts when ... it doesn't count for much at all. And during the last couple of Presidential elections in Florida, the Electoral College may have gone against the popular vote - there is some debate on that.

So with all this knowlege and past experience, we are now making Florida a state for the media to focus on. Again.

As I've always said, Florida is the Pamela Anderson of the United States. We just aren't finished trolling for our photo opportunity, and we're happy to get it (no matter what form it comes in). Just please realize that not ALL of us here are blithering idiots: Although it's hard to tell underneath all that pancake makeup.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Restaurant Etiquette

I hate bad customers. I eat out almost every day, and I have plenty of opportunities to see them. Sometimes they don't intend to be bad, but they still drive me as crazy as a bedbug.

CUSTOMER TO WAITRESS: "I will have..."

Now, how imperious does that sound? If I were the waitress, I'd say "Will you, Your Royal Highness? Great! And how is that getting to your table? OH! You mean "MAY I have..."


I want to turn around and say, "How does it feel to want? OH! You mean "MAY I have..."

And whatever happened to good old 'please' and 'thank you'? What: Because they're waiters or waitresses they are simply doing their job and don't deserve either? Remind your boss of that when you get into work tomorrow morning: No more 'pleases' and 'thank yous', they're totally unnecessary. Just doing our jobs, ma'am.

The other day I took a friend out for dinner. It was very late and they kindly let us be the last people seated. Apparently there was another couple seated just before us, and they were in the booth next to us. After the waitress took our order, one began griping VERY snottily and loudly about how THEY were there before us and still hadn't been waited on. Then he summoned the waitress with a crook of his finger and proceeded to complain to HER.

The waitress apologized graciously and took their order. When she left, he then went ON and ON and ON to his companion about how she needed a come-uppance and how DARE she wait on someone before THEY were waited on.

When the food was brought out, he then griped about the FOOD: Didn't she KNOW that it wasn't made this way? THIS was wrong, that SAUCE was wrong... and finally exploded in exasperation: "Oh, take it all away!"

When the waitress whisked the plate off with a promise to do better the next time, he then said some very nasty things about how incompetent she was.

My dining companion and I took it all in coolly, watching the entire scene play out. We would joke a little with the harried waitress (who gave excellent service and was actually VERY competent) and enjoyed our meal as we were entertained by the fool next to us.

At the end of dinner, we asked to speak to the manager. Within a short period of time, the manager came up to us, looking inquisitive.

"We just want to say," I began loudly, "that your waitress is JUST AMAZING! This woman is FANTASTIC! Where ever did you find her? She is graceful under pressure, can juggle multiple tasks and keep her cool, and is so very pleasant!" The waitress beamed from ear to ear as the table next to us fell silent.

The manager was delighted! He thanked us greatly for everything, said he wished we'd come again soon, and left to do whatever restaurant managers do. The waitress was so grateful she snuck us a free t-shirt and some Mardi Gras-type beads for our kids.

The man at the other table never said another word.

I tipped the waitress 30%. She deserved a gold medal.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jerry Falwell

Many years ago, one of my friends graduated from highschool and, coming from a Christian Fundamentalist family, made the choice to continue her education at Jerry Falwell's college; Liberty University.

My friend "Lori" was the typical beautiful, bubbly cheerleader type. Our parents had often forced us to be together since our parents were very close, but Lori and I had little in common. I was a sarcastic punk rocker; she was more worried about what type of lace socks she could wear with her school uniform. I laughed when something was funny; she giggled all the time. Strangely, we were both very popular, but with two completely different sets of people. Obviously we lost touch as soon as we possibly could.

Many years later, we ended up attending the same church. By then, Lori had sobered up considerably. We never grew very close, but over that period of time we had moments that we spent together and enjoyed each other's company in moderation.

One day, over lunch, Lori leaned forward conspiratorily and said, "You know that I dated one of Jerry Falwell's sons when I was going to Liberty University, don't you?" I hadn't. She laughed, then said, "Let me tell you a story..."

Lori was a sexy blond bombshell when she entered Liberty University as a freshman. She obviously attracted much attention. One of Falwell's sons had noticed her immediately and, within a short amount of time, they started dating.

During the time they were dating, Lori met his friends and family, including his famous father. She was very excited to be affiliated with such powerful people, and took great pride in it. They were NOT sexually intimate, but enjoyed each other's company and could always find something fun to do. She was having the time of her life!

One night after an evening out, Lori and her boyfriend decided to park at a certain spot in the mountains which overlooked Liberty University. They had just parked and settled in, when they saw a car coming up the mountain.

Suddenly deciding that she was going to be funny, Lori hastily lay down on the seat, draping herself over her boyfriend, and waved her legs vigorously out the window of the car.

The car coming up the mountain slowed to a stop. To Lori's horror, it was Jerry Falwell's limousine! Jerry Falwell was inside, and had recognized his son's car. The evening didn't end well.

Lori was packed off in dishonor and had to spend the rest of the semester, suspended, until she could return (much chastened) the next semester. I have no idea what, if anything, was done to Falwell's son. Obviously she never dated him again.

Years later, Lori can laugh over the incident, although I never understood why she returned. Never the less, she has fond memories of Liberty University and the education that she received there; both in knowlege and in life.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Atrocious Senate Illegal Immigration Bill

I was going to tell a funny little anecdote about Jerry Falwell today, who was more good than he was bad, despite what some might say. However, that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Today I must address one of the worst atrocities visited recently upon the American public: The Senate Illegal Immigrant Bill which was passed yesterday. As reported in the Houston Chronicle:

"The Senate deal would:

• Grant the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants legal status with an indefinitely renewable "Z" visa, and allow many to eventually apply for citizenship. They would have to pay $5,000 in fines to get the visa, and those seeking legal permanent residence would have to return to their home country to apply."

What illegal immigrant in their right mind will want citizenship in a country where they get to stay and work? Most of them don't even LIKE the USA. They're here for JOBS, not citizenship. Many of them actually believe that Texas, California, and other parts of the country belong to Mexico and should be re-assimilated into Mexico. The LAST thing they care about is the USA when they consider Mexico to be their true home.

And I doubt they'll be expected to pay the entire $5,000 up front. If they only make a partial payment, lots of luck getting the rest: They're ILLEGAL. That means they don't follow THE LAW. And what is $5,000? It's a slap on their wrist and our face.

• "Establish a temporary worker program admitting 400,000 workers yearly for a two-year visa after which they world be required to return home for a year and then re-apply. The vast majority of the temporary workers would not be eligible to stay in the U.S. permanently."

Oh great. So we don't have ENOUGH right now: We need MORE! The news stories today tell us that Mexicans are ALREADY lining up at the border!

There is an untrue little saying that illegal immigrant supporters love to spout: "Illegals do the work that Americans don't want to do." How would YOU know? Are you there when John Doe is turned away because Juan Valdez is cheaper? There are an increasing amount of personal stories of Americans who can't get work because the illegals are cheaper to hire.

Why aren't we hearing those stories? Because the Americans that are losing work are low-income, blue collar: They don't make interesting press. And not everyone can prove that they've lost a job to an illegal, either: It's as tough as proving a discrimination lawsuit. Unless someone SAYS something, you just can't know for sure.

• "Add 6,000 more Border Patrol agents, establish an employment verification system mandatory for employers to check the status of new hires, and toughen interior enforcement."

Wow. So that means we're finally going to do what we were ALREADY supposed to be doing because illegal immigrants are... dare we say it? ILLEGAL!

• "Tip the legal immigration system more towards rewarding high-skilled, educated immigrants, though it also would continue to allow U.S. residents to bring in relatives, though on a more limited basis."

So even the government admits our current mix isn't doing much for us as a culture. Many parts of California and other towns where illegals have taken up residence have been reduced to filthy, crime-ridden barios. Not-so-surprisingly, a recent study "discovered" that illegal immigrants are not the cream of Mexico's crop. In fact, most of the criminals wanted in the USA are illegal immigrants. Gee, what a shocker: An illegal immigrant behaving illegally!

Look: This is a failed experiment before it starts. We are so busy kissing the illegal immigrant's butt that we have neglected our friends, our families, our children and our future. WHY do we owe them ANYthing but a boot in the butt out the door?

If we want IMMIGRANTS, then fine! Let's do it the right way, the LEGAL way. Send them ALL back and start the process. If they are free of any other criminal acts (other than illegally sneaking across the border the first time) then sure! Give them the same thing any OTHER immigrant gets: A green card!

We have a system in place. We need to UTILIZE it.

Write to your Representatives in the House of Representatives. Tell them: NO WAY JOSE! And if you want to shoot off an angry letter to the moronic Senators who passed this abortion of a bill, it couldn't hurt (though it's too late). Let everyone know that your vote depends on this! Because, I assure you, your children and your children's children depend on what YOU do now.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Durant on Morality and Immorality

As you may recall, I recently discovered a first edition of Will Durant's "The Mansions of Glory", published in 1929. I was fascinated to find that much of what this forward-thinking philosopher predicted has come true, or is seen today. Equally fascinating are his mistakes. This is the last in my trilogy of posts.

In order to understand some of the following quotes today by Durant, it is necessary to understand he was an atheist. As an atheist, he could not refer to any religion or belief system as his guide to morality and immorality. In my personal opinion, there is much that follows which can be easily argued and I shudder at the thought of "one world order," but I am going to let him speak for himself.


"Aristotle and Bacon were right; man was by nature social, because societies had existed long before man, and humanity had inherited social habits - had carried sociability in its blood - along with the individualistic impulses to compete and kill. ...Evolution ceased to be physical, it became social; survival came not by individual power, but by group coherence and ability."

"The development of external danger and competition unified the members of a group into some measure of fellow-feeling (sympathy), group-feeling (kindness), sociability, and mutual aid; those simple virtues... were really social necessities for group survival; and the strange paradox appeared that the very violence of competition and strife among societies was the cause of cooperation and peace within; it was war, or the possibility of war, that make morality, as it made morale. ...In the light of this biological approach it becomes sufficiently obvious that the natural and inevitable basis and definition of morality is the cooperation of the part with the whole."

"(Once grown up) we discover that the "society" which we scorned (as teenagers), and to which we opposed... consists of nothing else than individuals too, each as precious as our incomparable selves. After long resistance we admit that morality can never be defined in terms of the individual, and that we must accept the good of the whole as the ultimate criterion by which to judge (when we must judge) the behavior of the part."

"How often must we judge? As the best government is still that which governs least, so the best morality is that which forbids least; freedom of life is so great a boon that those who wish to make morals for their neighbors are rightly considered enemies of the human race. We have seen how precarious every moral judgement is..."

In regards to geniuses and intellectuals: "...Such persons are set aside by nature, so to speak, to experiment with new ways of action, feeling, and thought; and to subject them to our normal and necessary "herd morality" is to frustrate the very purpose of their coming. We need not be much more severe with them than Pope Paul III, who, when advised to imprison Cellini for various acts of homicidal enthusiasm, replied: "You should know that men like Bevenuto, unique in their profession, stand above the law." Let us extend to our geniuses something of the leniency which we offer to our millionaires."

"...heroism is heroic precisely because it is so rare."

"Nothing is immoral unless it injures one's fellows; therefore, under certain circumstances, suicide is sinless."

"Again, if instinct or pleasure calls us, we shall not be wrong in following it, provided that no fellow-being is thereby harmed, and we ourselves suffer no hurt, of body or mind, to the detriment of the race. "Sin" ceases to have meaning except where the good of the whole is involved."

"Slowly trade and common interest merge nations into vast national groups, and provide the basis for an international morality. Soon all the world will agree that patriotism is not enough."

"If the state has grown like a leviathan, and has absorbed one parental right and function after another, it is not merely because our economic life has developed complex interrelations and contradictions which demand at the center of the community a coordinating and adjudicating authority; it is also because the individualism of industry has disintigrated paternal authority, and shorn the family of its ancient roles."

"...Until an international order is a reality, and humanity is organized to use and protect the allegiance of the individual, an ideally perfect morality - a cooperation of the part with the completest whole - will be but a counsel of perfection, like the command to resist not evil; what order there is in the world must be supported until a larger community comes."

"Of all the non-sexual difficulties that confront morality today, the only one that catches our concern is the absorbing problem of getting alcohol. Doubtless there is an ethical issue there, and the lawlessness that stems from a questionable law weakens the moral fibre of the whole community." (This was written during Prohibition)

"But alas, the only instrument now open to us for the control of industry within communal good is the state; and the state is not a moral entity, but a perpetually changing assortment of elected persons. The reformer longs for an omnipotent government, forgetting that this merely means omnipotent politicians. Better a hundred times that men should build up their own methods of cooperation and control, than that they should rely upon aldermen and policemen!" (In later years, Durant refused to press charges against thieves who had broken into his home and stolen jewelry. Of course, one wonders if he initially reported it to the police since they were the ones that apprehended the thieves!)

"When we have an economic world-order we shall begin to have a political world-order; when we have a political world-order we shall begin to have an international morality. ...Therefore let every experiment and tentative towards the new world-order be applauded and encouraged." (This was written pre-World War II)

"It is not in strong but in weak governments that the danger to freedom lies; it is when a state is imperiled that it puts an end to liberty."

"...Our sexual ambitions must submit to certain moral limitations. We may be tolerant of our inventive immorality, we may wish to study homosexuality, zooeroticism, ...scatophilia, on the stage we may smile at these audacious tentatives as guideless gropings towards another moral code. But we cannot satisfy our own hearts with any ethic that ignores the group..."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Durant on The Breakdown of Marriage

As you may recall from yesterday's post, I recently discovered a first edition of Will Durant's "The Mansions of Glory", published in 1929. I was fascinated to find that much of what this forward-thinking philosopher predicted has come true, or is seen today. Equally fascinating are his mistakes. I intend to share some excerpts from this book for a short time (since the comments are minimal at best), as I haven't seen any reprints of this book on the internet; not even a mere quote from it!


"The family was invented by nature to bind the male in service to the female whom nature had bound in service to the child. Men are by nature slaves to women, and women are by nature slaves to children and the race; in that natural slavery is the secret of their deepest and most durable content."

"...Marriage is not a relation between a man and a woman, designed to legalize desire; it is a relation between parents and children, designed to preserve and strengthen the race."

"It is clear enough, God knows, that marriage was never intended for the happiness of the mates, but for the rearing of children... Only with the modern lengthening of life, the superabundance of humanity, ...and the reduction of parentage to a phase rather than the sole content of marriage, has the individual raised the query whether his own happiness in mating is not to be considered along with the continuance and elevation of the race."

"...As war decreased in frequency, and life and health became more secure, the numerical superiority of women was reduced, and monogamy began. It was an advantage to the children, who had now a united care, a concentrated love, and more food to eat since there were fewer mouths to feed. It was an advantage to the man, for it enabled him to... found a family instead of scattering his wealth, like his seed, among a horde of progeny. He found himself still free to satisfy his variegated appetites in secret, while he could surround his wife's fidelity with all the guards of custom and power, and so secure the transmission of his property to children probably his own."

"The rest of the history of marriage has been between woman and property, between wealth and love."

"(As mankind evolved) wealth brought education, education soothed the savage breast of the male, and after centuries of evolution the simple lust of body for body was replaced... by romantic love."

In regards to romantic fiction: "Who can say how far this ocean of fiction cleansed away something of the coarser aspects of modern love, making incipiently real that hunger of soul for soul...?"

"Youth, which is braver and more conceited than before, is materially helpless and economically ignorant beyond anything in the past. Love comes, and youth, finding its pockets empty, dares not marry: love comes again, more weakly (years have passed), and yet the pockets do not bulge enough for marriage; love comes once more, with half of its early freshness and power (years have passed), and now the pockets are full, and marriage celebrates the death of love."

On the modern girl's sex life: "The terrific compulsion is on her, she feels, of getting attention, entertainment, stockings, and champagne - everything except a wedding-ring - through sexual favors or display. ...She is no longer dependant on the male and may therefore risk the male's increasing distaste for marrying a lady as learned as himself in the arts of love. Her very capacity to earn a good income makes the possible suitor hesitate; how can his modest wage suffice to keep both at their present standard?"

On the modern man after marriage: "...Slowly it comes to him that these rooms are precisely like those in which he had brooded as a lonely bachelor, that his relations with his wife are prosaically like those which he has had for years with women of undiscriminating receptivity."

On a childless marriage: "Their marriage being no marriage - being a sexual instead of a parental association - it decays for lack of root and sustenance; it dies because it is detached from the life of the race. ...The natural varietism of the man reappears; familiarty has bred contempt; through her very generosity the woman has nothing new to give. ...If there is any sexual incompatibility between them it becomes an insuperable barrier, because they conceive of marriage as a purely sexual relation. ...If they are modern, they play at equality; and a tug of war ensues till one or the other has established an irritating mastery."

"Soon no man will go down the hill of life with a woman who has climbed it with him, and a divorceless marriage will be as rare as a maiden bride."

On how to save marriage: "Perhaps we should abandon the problem and say, with the oldest of the Christian religions: Close every door of escape, and the prisoners will forget that they are in jail. If marriage is for children and the race, and not for individuals and mates, then for the children's sake let marriage be irrevocable... There is, after all, so little difference between one of us and the next, that if we can not get along with the mate we have, we shall soon find like difficulties with another. Man was not made for happiness; he is born for suffering; let him marry then, and hold his peace."

"Out of our individualistic age comes an opposite theory, more interesting and as extreme; and how attractively it is named! - "Free Love." Since vows are made to be broken, why make any vows at all? Since marriages are now made to be dissolved, why bother a thousand courts with a million matings and separations? If love is the best motive for marriage, its death is sufficient reason for divorce; how can love be real if it is not free? ...This solution of the marriage problem is gathering new popularity every year. Judge Lindsay, reporting that marriage licenses fell 25% from 1921 to 1922, explains the decrease as due to the spread of unlicensed (unions). These free unions would offer an admirable exit from the difficulties of our current code were it not for the continued economic dependence of woman upon man..."

"Periodic disabilities, and the possibility of pregnancy, reduce the woman's earning power; unless she can secure a home and some fairly permanent protection in return for the risks she runs, the advantage of "freedom" is all on the side of the male. ...All that will change, perhaps, when the woman's economic independence is complete, and contraceptives have quite differentiated mating from parentage..."

"...Companionate marriage provides that until maternity is in the offing, the wife shall go to work. Here hides the joker by which the liberation of women shall be made complete: she shall be privileged henceforth to pay her fare from A to Z. The Industrial Revolution is to be carried out to its logical and merciless conclusion; woman is to join her husband in the factory..."

"It is true that youth is blind, and cannot judge; but age is old, and cannot love."

"Perhaps at no time should we be permitted or required to make irrevocable decisions."

"(Who knows) that the compulsory association of distrustful and alienated mates is any better for their children than the allotment or alteration of the children between two households separate and at peace?"

"Without doubt, companionate marriage will be more and more condoned where there is no intent to reproduce. Free unions, sanctioned or not, will multiply; and though their freedom will be chiefly for the male, women will take them as a lesser evil than the sterile loneliness of uncourted days. The "double standard" will be broken down, and woman, having imitated man in all things else, will emulate his premarital experience. Divorce will grow, and every city will be crowded with the derelicts of shipwrecked unions. The entire institution of marriage will be recast into newer and looser forms."

"Emancipate as we will, free ourselves as much as we can from the prejudices of our past, the voluntarily childless woman still fills us with a sense of something abnormal and disagreeable. ...The modern girl will laugh at this old-fashioned suggestion, and will remind the world that the day is gone when she can be used as a maternity machine."

"The last word, however, must be for monogamy. The lifelong union remains the loftiest conception of human marriage; and it is still the goal which the complete lover will set himself when he pledges his troth. There is something cowardly in divorce, like flight from the field of war; and something unstable and superficial in the one who flits from mate to mate. Men and women of character will solve these difficulties as they arise, kowing that difficulties as great would meet them on any battleground."

TOMORROW: Durant's views on morality and immorality.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Mansions of Philosophy by Durant

Yesterday I stopped by a thrift store on my way home from errands in another city. It was a little hole-in-the-wall place, smelling of old, unwashed clothes and filled with unmatched dishware and grimy knicknacks.

At the very back of the store was a bookshelf piled high with books wantonly tossed there. I started going through the books to see if I could find anything of interest, and among them was a very old, tattered original first edition of "The Mansions of Philosophy" written in 1929 by Will Durant, who is most famous for his work in the multi-volumed "The Story of Civilization." He was an incredible man with a brilliant mind who was very respected during his own time as well as today. In fact, "The Mansions of Philosophy" was one of the top 10 bestsellers in 1929.

Although my edition is more beat-up than the one pictured here, the content is the same. I find it fascinating to hear a voice from beyond the grave concerning societal issues. Some of it is shockingly predictive and dead-on, perhaps due to his progressive thinking (he was strongly pro women's rights and racial equality, equal wages and good labor conditions).

Perhaps it's only me, and you won't find it of interest, but over the next couple of days I intend to share some of his thoughts with you. If you find it deadly dull, please warn me so that I don't expend too much energy on the project.


"That woman should be anything but a household slave, a social ornament, or a sexual convenience, was a phenomenon known to other centuries than ours, but only as a phenomenon, as an immoral exception worthy of universal notice and surprise."

"It is to woman's credit that she went out of the home into the factory; she sought the work that had gone from her hands; she knew that without it she would become a meaningless parasite, an impossible luxury for any but economically established or physiologically decadent men."

"Through work in the factory, or lack of work at home, the modern woman had become physiologically weaker than her ancestors. The decadent esthetic sense of the modern male had made matters worse by idolizing the slenderest and frailest figure; such women as Rubens knew, or such mothers as Bonaparte's Laetitia, were not to the taste of our artists or men about town, who judged beauty in terms of transient sexual lure rather than as a promise of robust maternity."

"One by one the new woman took over the habits, good or bad, of the traditional and old-fashioned male; she imitated his cigarettes, his profanity, his agnosticism, his hair-dress, and his trousers. The new diurnal propinquity made men effeminate and women masculine... Within a generation it will be necessary to label them with distinguishing badges to prevent regrettable complications. Already one cannot be quite sure."

"In industry she is adapting herself with an astounding versatility, with an unsuspected flexibility of mind. Most of the tricks and habits of intelligence which a fairly recent psychology pronounced innately male, turn out to be superficial acquisitions which women can take on as readily as rouge."

"There is no telling how far this feminine permeation of industry will go; the time may come when the superior tact of women, and their skill in the manipulation of details, will all but balance the greater strength and bolder initiative of men."

"In politics our daughters will not be so fortunate. No doubt the industrialized woman had to enter this sorry game to protect herself against man-made decrees and contemporary discrimination... The bravery of embattled men drunk with the sound and fury of war could not outmatch the courage of these women marching to the polls, knocking at the gates of power, knocking till the doors were opened and democracy was forced to take them in. Fifty years from now they will realize how completely they have been taken in... Some of them understand it now, and perceive that nose-counting is not emancipation, and that freedom is not political, but of the mind."

"What will come of all this education? Will it... give her an intelligence capable of coping with this changing world? ...Will this new intelligence in woman disturb and frighten off the possible suitor, and make it difficult for the educated woman to find a mate? ...the girl whose culture is of knowledge and ideas rather than of natural charm and half-unconscious skill, is at a disadvantage in the pursuit of a mate; she is trespassing upon fields which men have for centuries reserved for men. Sixty percent of women college graduates remain unmarried. ...A clever lass will conceal her mental superiority until it is too late."

"Once a woman of forty was old, decrepit, and trustworthy; today there is nothing so dangerous."

"Short skirts are a boon to all the world except the tailors."

"Recently, as a respectable Baltimore periodical informs us, "an unidentified man was brought to a hospital here in a critical condition, suffering from painful injuries said to have been inflicted by three girls in a wood near Hurlock. The man was walking... when the girls, in an auto, offered him a 'lift.' He accepted. After riding a short distance, he said, the girls stopped the car on a lonely road. During a petting party which followed... one of the girls became enraged at his lack of ardour. A scuffle ensued. While two held him, the third stabbed him with a hatpin. The girls fled, leaving him helpless on the ground." After this can we any longer doubt the emancipation of women?" (Note: hatpins weren't ordinary pins. They were very large and sharp)

"Shaw was wrong: matrimony is not a maximum of temptation combined with a maximum of opportunity. The opportunity endures; but the temptation is soon reduced to a minimum... Soon, doubtless, we shall have polyandry, and masterful women will collect harems of industrious males, guarded by lady eunuchs who will stand for no nonsense."

"Perhaps in the future we will have three sexes, as among the ants and bees; some women will procreate the race, and others will give themselves so completely to economic activity as to lose their first desire, and then the capacity, for motherhood."

"Behold... the parasitic woman. Freed from domestic toil by the withdrawal of industry from the home, and freed from the burden of motherhood by contraceptives or nurses and maids, she is left with hands, head and heart restlessly idle, a rich soil for alien seed. And by a natural development, the less she has to do the lazier she becomes, and the less willing she is to perform what remains of the work which once made her a helpmate instead of a doll. No insult is offered here to the woman who works, at home or in the shop, as a producer of human life or of humanly valuable goods. The insult is offered... to the woman who commercializes her beauty, in marriage or without; who drives hard bargains in luxury and finery for her love; who spends her days in resting, primping, powdering, curling, and (at last) dressing, and her nights in amusement and flirtation." (This sounds like all the names in Hollywood!)


Monday, May 14, 2007

Our Food Supply

I am very, very concerned about our food supply. Over the last couple of years, we've found out that not only are American bees dying in an alarming plague, but that they're also being killed off by African killer bees, which are a serious threat to the human population as well. And without bees polinating our crops, there will be NO more crops.

As I wrote in March of last year, the FDA is criminally negligent in it's governance of the American food supply. As I said then, the FDA is "...only able to inspect 2% of all imported fresh seafood. They are not even able to enforce restrictions on the cattle feed supply, which can cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) in cattle which is easily passed on to humans (that's right; our beef is STILL not safe). Their attempt at preventative inspections for cattle with BSE is criminally negligent. And Consumer Reports Agency researchers ruffled feathers in January 2004 when they reported in Environmental Health Perspectives that young chickens contain three to four times more arsenic than other poultry and meat."

Nothing has changed: Our meat supply is still threatened.

Now we have just found out that "The deadly fish virus, viral hemorrhagic septicemia, or VHS previously found in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was detected in the Lake Winnebago chain of lakes, the first such infection confirmed in inland Wisconsin waters, according to media reports Sunday."* To sum it up: This virus is fish Ebola.

And, of course, there is the bird flu.

This brings me to another question: Since diseases are known to adapt and jump to other species, and the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) think that it's only a matter of time for the bird flu to adapt to humans, what might happen with this new fish Ebola?

In July of 2005, Consumer Reports issued a warning (that they haven't rescinded) about deer and elk meat:

"Chronic wasting disease (CWD), an animal disorder similar to mad cow disease, is spreading in deer and elk populations across North America, particularly in the Rocky Mountain states and Wisconsin. Unlike the experience with infected cows, there is as yet no direct evidence that eating the meat of deer or elk with CWD actually causes disease in people. Still, test-tube experiments with prions have shown that human infection is theoretically possible. And researchers are investigating the deaths of several people who hunted or regularly ate venison and subsequently succumbed to brain-wasting disease. Should consumers avoid eating deer and elk meat? Until more is known, the answer to that question depends on your personal risk tolerance."

I hate to sound the trumpet of doom early on a Monday morning, but these are valid questions I'm raising and I'm not happy with the possibilities. Just because nothing has happened YET doesn't mean that it won't.

We Americans tend to live very placidly. We have had so many long years of peace an prosperity that even the attacks on 9/11/01 have not affected our complacency. This is evident in so many matters: We don't save money, we don't vote in elections, we keep living as if there is a lifetime of ease ahead of us. What will we do when (not if) we're faced with disaster? I am worried for us, for our children, and for our country.

We cannot even stop eating beef, when we know that it's potentially lethal! I go to restaurants and see overweight Americans everywhere, gorging on steaks, hamburgers, and pot roast. I want to stand up and scream "Don't you know you're playing Russian roulette?!" But too many people disregard this, in the mistaken belief that the government has it covered.

The reality is that the government lost control of this a long time ago. And it's just a matter of time before the American public is taught this in a very terrible way.

* You can read more about it here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007



Your Love is like an island
In life's ocean, vast and wide,
A peaceful quiet shelter
From the wind and rain and tide.
Above it like a beacon light
Shone faith and truth and prayer;
And through the changing scenes of life,
I find a haven there.
- Author Unknown

Mothers come from all walks of life, and are as unique and individual as each of us. The only thing that they usually have in common is a vast love for their child(ren). I think my biggest mistake as a child was to evaluate my Mother as a "grown-up", using that standardized "mom" that we grew up seeing: A mythical blend of June Cleaver and June Lockhart (from the TV series "Lost in Space"). Only years later have I realized that moms are not a pat, perfected species. We never stop growing up or changing: That is, if we're doing the right things.

In my teen years, I judged my mother as one would judge a piece of art pottery. For those of you that aren't familiar with pottery, let me explain:

Pottery goes through many processes, which include the initial design and the initial firing. When it comes time to apply the paint, you can use a pencil first to outline exactly what you want, and then paint over it. The pencil still shows through, which causes some rookies to panic, but it fires off in the second firing process. The paint also looks funny: It can be lumpy, a different color, or look poorly applied. However, it's only after the second firing process that we see what we truly have.

We are all like art pottery: None of us will see the second firing process in our lifetime. But as a teenager, I believed my mom to be the final product and judged her accordingly. I took for granted all the wonderful things she was, and instead focused on the pencil marks.

I am happy that I still have the opportunity to spoil my mom on Mother's Day.

If you're one of those unfortunates who cringes at the word "Mom", then use her as an example of what NOT to be, and become what she should have been. But if you've been evaluating your Mom from the perspective of an art collector, and you're focusing merely on the pencil marks, give her a break and remember that these pencil marks are common in this stage. I know that I'm sporting many of them, myself.

P.S. There is a very nice program in the U.K. which allows you to "adopt" a mom in India. Check it out!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Your Weekend Forecast: Smoky!
Don't Be Such a Ham!


The Florida wildfires continue to be out of control. One firefighter recently said: "This is probably the worst fire I've seen in the South. The way it's moving, the way we can't catch it. Every time we think we've got it, it jumps out on us. We've been running for three or four days now, pretty much nonstop."

The haze down here has lifted again, but if the winds turn, we'll be back to being smothered once more.
(photo courtesy of the St. Pete Times)


My parents unexpectedly lost their second dog yesterday. Both of the dogs had grown very old, and (if you recall) the first one died a little while ago. Yesterday the second one had to be put to sleep because he'd gone into sudden kidney failure. Although my parents realized their dogs were living on borrowed time, they'd become a part of their family. As my father said heavily yesterday, Kipling once wrote that you should never give your heart to a dog, because it will break every time. Mom was destroyed. I am trying to convince them that they need to get another one ASAP: They are dog people and should never be without one.


On May 10th, a man opened a fresh package of ham (which comes prepackaged and sealed to the grocery stores) only to find a large man's diamond ring nestled on top of the meat. He decided he was going to call the press and the company that manufactures the lunch meat in an attempt to find the owner of the ring. The video shows him happily munching away on a ham sandwich made from that package. Let's hope he's not dining on the ring's owner.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Keep Trying!

I keep TRYING to blog but keep getting called out on various missions. Currently my car has developed a couple of annoying little problems and I'm being forced to go see my mechanic. So, here are a couple of points of interest:


Some of you may remember one of my best friends: Giselle, the attorney. She was just promoted to Lead Counsel for a MAJOR firm and SaurKid and I went over to have a cookout at her house last night to celebrate. She went on a major shopping spree and now owns more power suits than Hillary Clinton.


The smoke is coming back this way now. It looks as if all outdoor activities over an otherwise gorgeous weekend will be shot. Florida is about to call for help: Our firefighters are overextended and we are going to need backup soon.

This morning my car was covered in so many particles, I thought someone had been blowing leaves around or perhaps been using a woodchipper early in the morning: It was the fallout from the fires. It covers EVERYthing. Right now our area is listed as being dangerous for people who are "sensitive". That means: If you aren't used to breathing unfiltered smoke non-stop, you're sensitive.

Visibility is only 1/4 of a mile in some places here. I can see maybe 1/2 a mile away right now. Thick, corrosive smoke is everywhere, seeping into our homes and businesses and into our lungs.


Although Rosie has chosen to not seek chemotherapy for her bone cancer, she remains in good spirits and continues to take other medications to ease the pain. She refuses to stay home and stew over it: She's currently happily working at a new job and enjoying life.


Mothers Day is my favorite holiday. I would like to wish a special "Happy Mothers Day" to every mother (or primary caregiver)!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Romney vs. Al Sharpton

CNN reports: "During a debate on religion and politics at the New York Public Library with atheist author Christopher Hitchens, Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that. That's a temporary situation."

This reference was, of course, in reference to Mitt Romney, lackluster candidate of the Republican party. Romney then accused Sharpton of bigotry.

But... was Sharpton wrong to make that comment?


Sharpton could have made that comment about ANY faith without being bigoted. After all, the reason that he isn't Mormon is that he doesn't believe that Mormonism is correct.

Besides that, Sharpton also has a bone to pick with the Mormon faith: Until recently, the Mormons taught that black people were the result of a terrible curse. This tenet in their faith never endeared them to blacks. As the years went by and the tenet grew even less popular, it was revised. However, it still sticks in the craw of many black people who have not forgotten the original insult.

However, let's return to Sharpton's comment. What if Sharpton had said the Jewish faith was wrong: Would that be bigoted? NO. But if he had said the Jewish PEOPLE were bad, it would be.

What if he said the Muslim faith was wrong: Would THAT be bigoted? NO. But if he said all middle eastern people were evil, he WOULD be.

Mirriam Webster defines a bigot as "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance."

Since when does religion qualify?! Are we no longer allowed to say "What you believe is wrong?" Socrates would be rolling in his grave! All great philosophers through the ages have debated ideas. It's hard to debate an idea when we are throttled by such new-found rules.

The Catholic Church once tried to stifle any other religious opinions. We see how well THAT worked out.

A bigot is someone how UNREASONABLY takes a dislike to a widespread group of PEOPLE: Not their ideas.

If we go by Mitt Romney's definition, we are already doomed.

I doubt that Romney is truly upset by this. It's the most press coverage he's received yet. He may have already privately called Al to thank him.

As for us, we need to realize that most lives are intrinsicly interwoven with a life's philosophy (i.e. religious or anti-religious beliefs). To deny everyone the ability to discuss and thus examine what they believe is to deny us TRUE freedom of religion. And since freedom of religion is guaranteed in the Constitution, we still have the right to debate it.

As for Romney, he would have done much better if he'd handled the controversy with Ronald Reagan's style and grace. A quip or a sly nod to Sharpton would have increased his credibility as a candidate. However, if we're looking for another Reagan, we may find him in Fred Thompson... but we will never find him in Romney.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Fort Dix Terrorists

It is very sad to say that the only reason the terrorists were stopped from attacking Fort Dix soldiers yesterday was due to a clerk who worked in a video store.

That's not to say that the clerk doesn't deserve kudos. Of COURSE he does. He deserves dinner at the White House with a reception in the Rose Garden, at the very least. Well, I wouldn't wish that on anyone... but you understand what I mean.

However, if those terrorists hadn't been the equivalent of Laurel and Hardy in the terrorist ranks, they would've been successful.

That should give us all pause for thought.

This bunch of buffoons had a tape of them haring around screaming "Allah Akbar" and firing weapons. They took it to their local video store to have it made into a CD format. Perhaps they were trying to raise funds and they needed good marketing materials: Who knows? But when the clerk saw the video, he grew alarmed and called the Feds. The Feds made the pinch and... case closed.

Or is it?

The truth is that if they hadn't been that egregiously stupid, these morons may have been successful. I think of the recent Virginia Tech shootings: The killer Whatsisname was hell-bent on notoriety but he was also just plain weird. Lots of people thought he was weird. After the shootings, some students even speculated it was him before anyone knew: THAT's how weird he was. And yet, nothing was done until it was too late.

We need to be more aggressive in sounding the alarm when we see someone acting suspiciously.

Of course the Muslim terrorists are hoping that they'll be able to pressure us to keep quiet. There are many factions that are hiding under a friendly turban, gently (or not so gently) scolding us to be politically correct and question our instincts.

One recent case that comes to mind is the case of the Muslim men on the airplane: They were acting very suspiciously (on purpose). When alarmed passengers alerted the pilot, they were ejected and questioned. They grew very indignant and began threatening the passengers with lawsuits because (they claimed) the passengers were racially profiling them. Whether or not the lawsuits work, you have to admit it was a good bluff.

We cannot let ourselves be bullied by such tactics. We have to stand strong, and keep alert.

The truth is that there are many opportunities for terrorists to strike, and we shouldn't be complacent. On the other hand, we need to remember that the government is not God. They're not even our daddy. We must never be willing to cede any of our liberties in exchange for possible protection. We need to be our OWN protection.

And the best way to do that is to keep our eyes and ears open, and be unafraid to speak of our concerns.


Thank you for your well-wishes. I'm not certain how they're progressing, but the day is clear and bright today. The smoke finally lifted in the evening. As the sun set, you could see a vast band of smoke in the upper atmosphere, with clear, fresh air underneath it. Where that band went, I don't know. Since the smoke even reached the Miami area where Lazy Iguana lives (see his comment in yesterday's post), I assume he's still dealing with it. We had winds blowing southerly all day.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Due to a drought we're having, Florida has erupted into wildfires in central and east Florida (that means the Tampa Bay Area is severely affected). I'm sitting here in a face mask while I blog at my computer.

It's so odd to experience this: Forest fires in Florida are a rarity, and because we are so flat, with water bordering on all sides, any type of pollutants blow away quickly. They say that this will be gone by about 10AM this morning.

Some of this probably originated in Georgia, where the state's largest recorded wildfire has consumed over 100,000 acres. Many people near the Georgia border in Tallahassee (our capital) have been evacuated. Evacuations have also been ordered in the Gainesville area (home of the University of Florida) and in the Lake County area in the center of the state.

Right now conditions are critical. We have a bad mix of very windy conditions and very dry land. I was excited about the winds yesterday (I planned to sail today) but this morning it isn't fit to be outdoors.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monday's Mix

Carrots: France is waving a very tempting carrot our way: Do we dare to hope? Nicolas Sarkozy has been elected as the new President. He is an astonishingly conservative man who idolizes America. Sarkozy has ambitious plans that include encouraging business and discouraging taxes. He was elected in an overwhelmingly large turnout, so the French people took this quite seriously. It will be interesting to see what he will do about their alarming Muslim Extremist population, which is the largest (and most dangerous) in the free world.

Corn: My ex-fiance has finally decided to do the right thing, as corny as that sounds. He became a born-again Christian some time ago, but has recently entered into a serious drug program and has been clean for over 2 1/2 months. He has a nice place of his own, and he's doing what he can to make things right with everyone that he has wronged. I congratulate him, and I highly recommend the old-fashioned no-nonsense tough love attitude. All the "it's not you, it's the disease" talk that he got from others, as well as the morons who gave him money, only slowed down his getting true help.

Peas: OK, this has nothing to do with peas and I can't think of any puns here unless I talk about pea-ing, which is really stretching it. So instead I'll tell you about the auction I attended this weekend. It was like a thrift shop with an audience. I was amazed at what good prices you can get for some items! Rings and coins went for much more than what you could get for them on Ebay, but furniture went for much less. I ended up purchasing a gorgeous front-entry table of carved mahogany and Italian marble for only $82 total! So, if you're in the market for quality furniture at less-than-thrift-store prices, check out your local auctions. They're fun, different, and you get to wave a card at people when you bid on something: What more could you ask?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Have a Wonderful Weekend

In Florida, most of the weekends are gorgeous and this one is no exception. I'm going to be "out" more than I'll be "in." I'll fill you in on it later. Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Florida's Corrupt Police

Yesterday the news discussed an incident that happened in Tampa five months ago. Melissa Langston was in a rush to get to the emergency room because her father was having a heart attack and DRIVING HIMSELF to the hospital. In a panic, she broke the speed limit in an attempt to get to him before anything worse happened.

A Tampa police officer pulled her over and, when she explained in a panicky voice, he was rude, ignored her pleas, and coldly asked for her license and registration, instead. When he got back in his car, she took off again (the hospital was right there) to scan the parking lot and see if her father had made it.

NOW Deputy Kevin Stabins was REALLY angry. Why, that upstart woman was defying him! She had the nerve to drive a couple of feet away, through the parking lot, looking for her potentially dying father! How DARE she?!

So, Stabins dragged her out of her car, threw her onto it, roughly cuffed her, and dragged her to jail. Her poor father saw the entire thing happening through his hospital window. Her mom went to bail HER out, while her sister stayed with her dad. In the car on the way to the jail Stabins still ignored her pleas, telling his partner that he didn't care if her story was true or not.

Stabins has been suspended: Too bad he can't be flogged. Luckily the entire family survived the ordeal and we all can see it on video, since police cars now automatically tape such scenes. To read more about it, go here.

Sadly, Stabins is NOT the exception. I lived in Tampa years ago, and had an acquaintace that was a waitress near Bush Gardens. Her restaurant was a favorite hangout for their police officers, and so was she (if you get what I mean). She had so many affairs with married cops that she didn't have time to date any eligible guys. For anyone who is morally bankrupt and wants to try the argument that what a cop does on his own time is his own business: Tell it to his wife. And if a cop is willing to leave his morals at the door of a restaurant, where else might he leave them?

On the other side of Tampa Bay, the city of Largo has the dirtiest cops on record. There are attorneys at the local Court House who have countless stories about clients who struck drug deals with the Largo undercover cops so that they could get a reduced sentence. They go out with the Largo cops, set up drug deals, the cops make the subsequent arrests and then deny all knowlege of the co-operating addict. The co-operating addict can't complain publicly, because the guys who got arrested will know who to come after: And the Largo undercover cops get to rake in all the glory. Now you know what you get if you work with the police in Largo: It's a lesson to be learned. Sadly, I have a friend (who is a good man) who works there, and he's tarred with the same brush.

Of course all police organizations will have crooked cops: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. But when they're allowed to overrun the good cops, we have a police force that is out of control. Tampa should never have waited 5 months to suspend Deputy Stabins. When police department administrators turn a blind eye to the rot in their own ranks, the entire police force becomes rank.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Florida's Property Tax Debate

Right now there are many cities debating whether to lay staff off or give them a raise. It all hinges on the property tax issue.

Local governments have grown fat and greedy. In addition to escalating insurance, they have decided to escalate property taxes as well. Perhaps their reasoning is that if you can afford to buy a home, you can certainly afford at least $2000 or more a year in property taxes. In combination with high homeowner's insurance (another $2000), many people are being driven out of Florida all together and homes are now beginning to sit on the market. Real estate brokers are getting nervous. So is the Governor. That is why Florida's legislature is toying with the idea of revoking ALL property taxes and increasing sales tax, instead.

Why sales tax instead of property tax? It would be an asset in so many ways. First, it might encourage savings, and the fact that the American people aren't saving has been a great worry to many politicos and pundits.

Second, it would tax fairly, across the board. What you use is what you pay for. Home and property owners still pass their increases on in rent: That's true to a certain extent. But this would ensure that our many visitors and tourists would also help us with our taxes: You play, you pay.

Of course there are the sticky situations we must also be willing to face: What about the people who start to buy everything out of state? We aren't merely a mobile community anymore: We are a GLOBAL one. We can turn to the internet and buy that expensive emerald ring on Ebay and pay no taxes whatsoever.

For the majority of Floridians, spending will go on as it always has. But if we don't remove those crippling property taxes, there will be such an economic slump that there will be much less prey to feed on. As we know, parasites need hosts.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Bush's Mission Accomplished Speech

It's funny how a picture or sound bite can shape or affect the thoughts of the American people. I had always believed that I was immune to it, but apparently I am not.

You see, the showdown between Congress and President Bush recently (in which Bush made only the second veto in his entire career) happened on the anniversary of his famous 4 year old speech known as the "Mission Accomplished" speech, which he made on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and was televised to us and the world.

You remember the Mission Accomplished speech, don't you? You know, the one in which he said "Mission Accomplished"? Right! So do I! Except that... he never said it. At least, he never said it in his speech, which can be found here on the CBS news site. I even did a word search on it after I'd thoroughly combed through it and nope, those words are no where to be found. In fact, the speech makes it very clear that he didn't believe that we were close to being done at that time.

So why do we know it as his "Mission Accomplished" speech? Obviously because that's what wishful thinking, response to visual cues, and a press that revels in sound and picture bites, will do to us. We all vaguely recall there was a banner that hung behind Bush which said "Mission Accomplished". It is that particular feature that permanently branded this as his "Mission Accomplished" speech.

As Wikipedia states, "The banner stating "Mission Accomplished" was the main source of controversy and criticism. Navy Commander and Pentagon spokesman Conrad Chun said the banner referred specifically to the aircraft carrier's 10-month deployment (which was the longest deployment of a carrier since the Vietnam War) and not the war itself, saying "It truly did signify a mission accomplished for the crew."

The White House claimed that the banner was requested by the crew of the ship. Afterwards, the administration and naval sources stated that the banner was the Navy's idea, White House staff members made the banner, and it was hung by the U.S. Navy personnel. White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN "We took care of the production of it. We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up."[3] According to John Dickerson of TIME magazine, the White House later conceded that they actually hung the banner but still insists it had been done at the request of the crewmembers.[4]"

Of course as we now understand it, Bush had never believed that we had accomplished our mission: It is four years later and the mission may never be accomplished.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Crazy Day

I am sorry, but today's shaping up into a hellaciously crazy day and I have to forgo blogging. See you tomorrow!