Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Symptoms of Decay

I may wander around a bit before stumbling onto how I want to cover my unassembled thoughts which have to do with my observations on our ever decaying social structure here in America and around the world. I started the morning reading the Houston Chronicle website, an article by Michael Hedges and James Pinkerton, “Images of dying soldier renew war coverage debate” ( linked via title bar). The New York Times, well known for its desire to supply a story without thinking of the consequences, printed pictures of Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija as he lay dying from a wound to the head during combat in Iraq.

“A photograph and videotape of a Texas soldier dying in Iraq published by the New York Times have triggered anger from his relatives and Army colleagues and revived a long-standing debate about which images of war are proper to show.”

I said that the New York Times prints stories without thinking of the consequences; more accurately that should have been that they might have thought about it, they just disregard decency, moral obligations to those involved and leaking sensitive information to our enemies all in the name of obtaining a dollar. The New York Times, as are most large media outlets, are not in the business of providing news; they are in the business of providing entertainment to a customer base which requires instant gratification.

Before going on I’d like to point out that Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija was an honor student and a member of the football team at his local high school; not some drop out who couldn’t get a job other than flipping burgers or emptying waste baskets. I continue to hear blanket insinuations that the military seeks the lowest, the dregs of society, to fill its quota of bodies. This past week one our local NBC affiliates, KPRC, had a special teaser, a short piece of film intended to spark interest in a more detailed documentary that would air at later time. It was included at the end of each news broadcast, something to do with how Army recruiters were able to side step the qualification process to get less than qualified and possibly dangerous individuals past certain check points.

This past week Stephen Littau of Fearless Philosophy For Free Minds wrote and posted, ”Old Media VS New Media”, having to do with the way the media covered certain stories in a haphazard and sloppy manner, or worse, intentionally slanted information in order to sway public opinion. Stephen had many good points that were brought out and I left a comment, some of which I will print here:

“You are correct, “Yes, you and I are the main problem. Far too often, we do not think critically about the news and receive it passively.” You continued to identify the issue when you asserted that we need to ask the proper questions, “As consumers of the news, we should ask the same questions journalists are supposed to ask: who, what, when, where, how, and why.””It is not enough to ask the proper questions, I believe that we are not waiting long enough for the process of questions and answers to run its proper course. We are geared for instant gratification, so much so that we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We have no time to follow up on a story that caught our interest on Monday, desiring instead to hear something different or new on Tuesday. The news media, at all levels, caters to instant gratification, not news.”

Our society has been on a constant rate of decay, sometimes taking huge leaps toward unbridled depravity under the delusion that any and all is fair game and covered under the constitutional right “freedom of expression”. We have been lowering the bar of what is acceptable in news, entertainment, representative government and social order in general. How’s that for rocking the boat in one sentence?

Our Bill of Rights prohibits our government from making laws that limit the free exercise of or abridging our freedom of speech or of the press and there are many who would have us believe that to mean “anything goes”. I’m reminded of specific exclusions to freedom of speech, yelling “Fire” in a crowded theatre simply to create chaos being one; thanks to DL at TMH Bacon Bits for the thought he left in a comment this past week.

Our televisions are full of reality shows, an odd assortment of survival situations staged to show scantily clad bronzed beauties running through the jungle attempting to capture the flag. Our movies splatter the screen with enough blood and gore to fill a cesspool to overflowing while portraying our society as devoid of morality or social order, at least nothing worthy of redemption. Is it any wonder that the New York Times had few if any qualms when it decided to proceed with its coverage in the death of Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija?

A friend of mine from way back in junior high, that’s middle school for the newer generation, Alan McClung, ( spelling not guaranteed correct ) had some insight regarding the proper way to honor the dead. Alan and I didn’t get along much in the 8th grade but; thinking in retrospect, we were really two of a kind, smaller than most and the target of bullies. Alan grew up to be a veterinarian and I found him quite by accident one night when my black Labrador Retriever, Oscar, got hit by a car, having jumped the fence one night, his last night.

The lady whose car struck Oscar stopped and read the information on his tags, giving us a chance to learn of his need for immediate treatment. We found a late night animal hospital and that’s how I was reunited with Alan, now Dr. McClung.

Alan took Oscar in the back room to see what could be done. I waited in the empty lobby for what seemed forever. Alan eventually came back to let me know that there was nothing he could do to save Oscar and asked if I would let him take care of the disposal. I asked Alan if I could go see Oscar, a farewell to an old friend. Alan’s thoughtful advice has stayed with me all these years, “You shouldn’t look at him the way he is now. You’re better off remembering him the way he was before the accident.”

I’ve wandered around quite a bit while trying to put my finger on why the New York Times printing of some war photographs ate at me this morning. I won’t even go into another story I read about, some young man’s demented video that ended up on MySpace showing how he staked a stray cat to the ground just so he could tape his pit bull tearing it to shreds. We have to decide what we watch, what we listen to, what we think about, with whom we associate along with and all the other choices that go along with the freedoms afforded each and every citizen here in America. I’m afraid that far too many are making poor choices, the kind that drag an entire society into the gutter to be swept down the drain; but isn’t that what drains are for, to receive the remnants of decay left exposed to the light?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lt. Larry Smith - a final tribute

I read where an old friend of mine passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer. I never worked with him directly, at least not under his command while I was in the Department. He’s the nicest guy I ever hit with a folding metal chair, accidentally and without malice. I suppose I should explain that last line.

Back in the old days, before the DWI folks had taken over the bottom floor of the old police academy building behind 61 Riesner at the main police station, DWI suspects were taken to the second floor roll call room to be processed. There was a cubby hole of a room where they had a breathalyzer and a couple of long work tables where we would fill out all the necessary forms. There were supervisor’s offices around the perimeter of the room, Accident, Traffic Enforcement and Point Control.

My partner, R. C. Kersten, and I had arrested a rather large fellow, think of the Green Mile and John Koffee, “like the drink only spelled with a K”. We’d arrested him after he’d driven several miles the wrong way down the outbound lanes of the Katy freeway when he exited downtown and stopped him after he traveled another fifteen blocks or so. His wrists were so large that I don’t think even leg irons would have worked, much less a pair of plain handcuffs so we were more than grateful that he was “peaceable” when he finally figured out we wanted him to stop. This was before all the police cars had Plexiglas or even a mesh cage to separate the front seat from the back. My partner and I had little if any seniority and were driving an older unit, one without a divider, so the prisoner was placed in the passenger seat up front with only a seat belt to hold him in place.

I was pretty good at talking softly and kept things light and easy all the way to the station while Bob drove the suspect’s vehicle to the impound lot; yes, a lot of things changed over the years. We had the suspect sitting in one of the metal folding chairs under those ugly fluorescent lights that illuminated the large roll call room. He was looking all around and started to become upset when it dawned on him that he’d been arrested and was going to jail. When he got up; rather, he exploded in rage it took a room full of young police officers to tackle him to the floor. Chairs and tables were being knocked around and folks from their private offices came out to see the small scale riot.

Lt. Smith was in one of those offices and came to jump into the fray just as I was letting fly with a chair aimed at the suspect who had managed to get back to his feet, several officers clinging as he dragged them across mid field. The chair glanced off Lt. Smith’s shoulder as I attempted to stop it once I realized what was about to happen. I don’t think it got him too badly, at least he didn’t complain; facts be known, I think he even smiled for having been able to join in a good fight. Once everything was under control we escorted the suspect down to the jail and finished the paper work later. Funny how something from so long ago would be the first thing I thought of when I heard of his passing. Farewell and peace be with you for having fought the good fight.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tell me I’m mistaken…

I was reading Greg’s article, “Rev. Robert Drinan – RIP”, at his blog, Rhymes with Right where he brought to light how the Vatican forced him from public office rather than have a priest in the public spot light (link via title bar)

I immediately thought of another highly outspoken religious figure who served in public office, Ezra Taft Benson. I had recently posted a short piece on the right to peacefully assemble and was aware of how strongly Ezra Taft Benson felt regarding the Constitution and individual rights. I went to the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to search the archives for references, then went to Wikipedia to obtain a brief biography, an overview of how the secular world perceived his efforts. Here is what Ezra Taft Benson, Secretary of Agriculture under Dwight D. Eisenhower and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, had to say regarding communism.

“I have talked face to face with the godless communist leaders. It may surprise you to learn that I was host to Mr. Kyrushchev for a half day when he visited the United States, not that I’m proud of it. I opposed his coming then, and I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor. But, according to President Eisenhower, Khrushchev had expressed a desire to learn something of American Agriculture — and after seeing Russian agriculture I can understand why. As we talked face to face, he indicated that my grandchildren would live under communism. After assuring him that I expected to do all in my power to assure that his and all other grandchildren will live under freedom, he arrogantly declared in substance:

“‘You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you’ll fall like overripe fruit into our hands.’

“And they’re ahead of schedule in their devilish scheme.” (Ezra Taft Benson “Our Immediate Responsibility.” Devotional Address at Brigham Young University. circa 1968.”)

Our elected Congress and Senate must not have read the warning as they constantly sugar coat the poison of socialism and spoon feed it to us in ever increasing amounts. They sound so sincere as they stand up in front of the microphones pandering for votes, “It’s for the children” or “We need to make sure that everyone gets what they’re entitled to in this land of opportunity”, never stopping to consider the irreparable damage done to a once free people by shackling everyone to permanent socialism and yes, communism. What is the cost of their programs to redistribute earned wealth through taxation and confiscation? “And they’re ahead of schedule in their devilish scheme.” There is no doubt in my mind that Ezra Taft Benson was indeed a Prophet, Seer and Revelator; tell me I’m mistaken.

The Right to Peacefully Assemble

The Right to Peacefully Assemble

I read an AP article on the Foxnews website, “Moscow Mayor Calls Gay Rights Parade 'Satanic'”. The gay rights activists have demanded the opportunity to hold a parade and the mayor has staunchly denied permission ( link provided in title bar )

In America we have the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; I know, just a piece of paper to some folks, that provide a means of recognizing specific individual rights. One day it might be nice if we all took a few moments to read those documents. I can’t fathom why any individual or group of individuals who live a life style that I can only call a “deviant expression”, deviant as pertaining to those actions declared so by our Father in Heaven, why these folks would want the spot light turned on them as they wallow in their filth.

That having been said, our First Amendment clearly defines the rights of such deviants to express themselves in group protestation against the very society from which they have strayed; provided that the celebration or grievance is done in a peaceable manner. What constitutes “peaceable manner”; does that mean threat of violence either by those involved in the march or does it imply that those who deplore the deviant life style might not be able to contain their loathing and become violent against the marchers?

I have no idea what kind of individual rights are set down in law over in Russia; don’t really give a hoot either, I live in America. All things being equal, or if Moscow were here in America I’d have to side against the mayor and proceed on the assumption that all marches are peaceful assemblies on face value; to imply otherwise chips away at the foundation of our most basic belief that all are innocent until proven otherwise. It is lawful to be a homosexual, even if such deviant behavior is an abomination before God; the consequences are of an eternal nature and should be left to God when judgment is exacted. By extension it is lawful for a group of homosexuals to gather in groups, to march and to glorify their deviant life style in the face of those who have chosen a more conservative path, one which they believe to be in accordance with the will of God.

I would require safe conduct be provided by law enforcement; both to protect those involved in the march and to enforce laws which outline proper conduct in public. I have observed many marches in my twenty years as a police officer, many times while I was assigned in exactly that capacity, to provide a safe environment when hostilities run high.

I have had the opportunity, a modest alteration of how I might have expressed such an assignment earlier in my life, to provide police protection for all manner of unpleasant marches; KKK, Iranian protests and even against Dung Chiow Ping (spelling optional, lol). We had a special squad of officers to provide pre-march security measures; removal of strategically placed weapons along the parade route such as sacks of rocks stored in newspaper sales boxes, clubs that had the appearance of being picket signs and such.

On only one march did we as a specialized group of police officers have to (get to) storm the “minority” marchers and remove several of them when it was determined that they were holding “clubs” rather than banners on sticks. I’m not sure what the difference is between a tomato stake pole with a flag and a club with a flag; but the march had turned particularly ugly and it might have been the best way to put a lid on it and that was a command decision made higher up the chain. It gave us a chance to use the riot tactics we had practiced for years; not to mention a chance to remove some human slime from the side walks of Houston, even if it was just for a little while it felt good.

We need to remember that the rights that we claim for ourselves are evenly distributed with the rest of those we share this country with; the rain falls on the just and the unjust. While I cannot accept the deviant life styles put on display by the “gay rights” individuals or groups, they should not be denied freedom of expression as long as such expression does not cross over the fine line between civil and one that is patently offensive with the intention of causing harm.

I have written in the past, mostly in the form of comments to articles I have read by others, on how ironic it must seem that the use of God given rights can be heralded by those intent on defiance of those restrictions placed on mortals by that very same God. It is not logical that the Creator of Heaven and Earth, that God who provided the inspiration to pen such magnificent documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have given those individual freedoms and rights, the necessary “agency of man” intended to permit his/her return to His presence once mortality had finished, to be perverted in meaning as to include such bizarre expressions as homosexual “rights”, abortion or as it has been called by the politically correct, “women’s right of choice”, pornographic displays in the name of “free speech” and so on down the line of depravity.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Home Repairs and Outlets

Lucy loves to watch television shows that deal with fixing up houses; total makeovers, landscape overhauls, one room paint jobs and things like that. I can watch for awhile; just not for hours as Lucy will. This morning when I got out of bed; my early meetings at church having been canceled so I could sleep in, they were changing the front of a house to make it look more appealing; a curved retaining wall on a slope complete with new plants and sod, a new front door, flower boxes and a weather vane on the roof.

The second fix it up show started with a home built at the turn of the century; no, not 2000. The house had been built before electricity was in common use so the new owners had electrical cords like spider veins hooked to the few outlets available. The fellow who came to inspect the house opened the electric box on the outside; it had maybe four or five breakers, none of which worked the way they’re supposed to work. They were going to have to replace the entire electrical system of the house to bring it up to present expectations both for safety and convenience.

I had seen enough as I remarked that it reminded me of our first house, built to accommodate the post WWII boom. I suppose they figured that most folks were poor and only needed a basic structure with few closets and a few electrical outlets, maybe one per room. With each successive owner the house had been altered to meet the demands of time; an addition of a large den nearly doubled the size of the house was added just prior to our purchase and the entry cut the kitchen in half. Lucy cried when I told her we would buy that house in spite of my promising to make some changes that would make it look nice. It was our chance to get out of apartment living and the strange woman who lived above us and took baths at all hours of the night all night long.

One of the first things we did was to cut a door to the den where a window had been, where it should have been from the start, and seal up the other so the kitchen was whole again. Then we tore the gold flocked wall paper from the dining room, wall paper which had been painted a sickly pale yellow ocher. Once that was painted and paneled with a maple wainscot we found a chandelier hanging in the middle of the room that we hadn’t taken notice of before, the room having been so depressing; Lucy stopped crying as the house began to look better.

We took on the job of completing the den which had been poorly done, more like a large cluttered storage room, by learning how to put sheet rock on the ceiling and walls. I went to plug my power tools into the outlet only to find that it didn’t work. I took the face plate off to see if the wires had worked loose only to find that there were no wires, never had been. They had cut a hole for an electric outlet just to make it look like there was electricity in that room.

We had an electrician install power to that room and continued to make other improvements. I cut an archway between our bedroom and the adjoining room and installed closets with a window seat between them. That was the weekend that I blew out a lung and ended up in the hospital for a few days; they called it a collapsed lung. I won’t go into detail other than to say it was not any fun, none at all.

We partitioned the formal living room into a parlor with the other half being turned into a huge food storage closet and work area. I put in an old fashioned wheat grinder, the kind with the stones that were turned with external pulley belts that I’d hooked to an electric motor. It was hypnotizing to watch the wheat berries work their way down a large funnel on top as the stones ground them into flour; slowly and inefficiently but it got the job done. Lucy later replaced that with a fancy self contained unit that sounds like an airplane taking off when the last of the wheat berries run out of the funnel; grinds the wheat twenty times faster and can be adjusted to almost any desired consistency of flour.

We had the wood floors repaired and resurfaced, a dark oak that had been covered with cheap carpet and neglected for years. I guess that’s why they call your first home a “fixer upper”. We learned how to do basic carpentry, dry wall, electrical, painting and when we were done the house looked really nice.

In the back yard I put in a chain link dog run for our Labrador. Then I put in a curved brick planter box next to it to make it look nice. There was a dead pine tree, maybe 75 foot tall that had to come down. Someone smarter than me would have let a professional come over; but I was working on a limited budget and decided to become a tree monkey.

I remember my neighbor lady watching as I climbed ever higher with my bow saw, the tree swaying in the light breeze, “Should I call an ambulance now or wait?” That was funny, yea, say something else encouraging. I got about two thirds up the tree before my fear of heights kicked in. I cut a wedge into the trunk in such a way as to aim the top portion away from the house and the dog run; luck was with me and it fell without killing me or hitting anything, glad I watched that show on lumberjacks. Once the tree was down we used it as a border for the garden.

That about does it, don’t know if I’d be up to that kind of challenge today. I’m sitting in my favorite chair in my living room. We just had wood floors installed, a nice looking oriental carpet to bring out the colors of the freshly painted walls and the new curtains that we installed last week; no, I don’t think I’m up to that kind of stuff any more.

Here are links to show some of the work that went into this latest improvement. I hope to find photos of that first house and scan them so I can eventually show those also.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I could have been a…

Big White Hat wrote that his company laid off the entire section of workers, himself included, in spite of their having achieved production levels above and beyond what had been asked of them (linked via title bar) Here’s wishing them all well as they embark on finding a way to satisfy their economic responsibilities as well as providing them with meaningful work opportunities.

My dad once told me about an elderly fellow who’d worked for the Church of England most of his years in what we would call a janitor or custodial position. I’m not all that familiar with their formal names; but I have been told that every job has a title attached, regardless of the duties.

The hierarchy decided that everyone with a position of title would be required to meet certain minimum standards; to include the ability to read and write, as a means of presenting the Church as a progressive leader in the community. They called the janitor into the Bishop’s office and explained the new requirements while at the same time releasing him to the ranks of the unemployed.

Being up in years and finding himself walking home on a dismal winter’s evening he reached into his coat pocket for his favorite pipe and then for some tobacco only to find that he was out of pipe tobacco. He immediately set about finding a tobacconist as he wandered through the ever darkening streets. Block after block he walked in search of some tobacco for his pipe until he came to the realization that there just weren’t any.

He decided to open a tobacco shop; after all, some others might not wish to travel clear across town for fresh tobacco and it might prove to be a profitable venture. It took a bit of doing but after a while his shop became successful, enough so that he had to hire employees to help out.

In the afternoon he would leave the shop and walk the streets of London looking for other areas of town that might support additional tobacco shops. Years went by and he had shops all over London and had amassed quite a bit of money. He worried about keeping such large sums in his home and decided to put it into the local bank.

The banker sat in his chair going over the information and was startled to hear that this very accomplished businessman had been storing all that money in suit cases and storage bins around the house. “If you’ll fill out this form I will put that money to work for you, investing it and creating even more wealth for you.”

The old man hung his head in shame as he explained that he could neither read nor write and asked the banker to fill in the form for him. Blind sided by the revelation, “Just think what you could have done if you had learned to read and write”, the banker stammered.

“Yea, I could have been a janitor.”

Hard to explain

I read an article written by Eric Hanson in the Houston Chronicle “Woman's survival of house blast called 'miracle'” (linked via title bar).

“Fire investigators and Quail Valley residents used the words "amazing," "unbelievable" and "miracle" to describe the survival of a 69-year-old woman after an explosion destroyed her brick house early Thursday.”

{. . .}

“The only thing left standing on the smoldering concrete foundation was the brick fireplace. A dazed Smith stood clad in her pajamas amid the debris and suffered only minor burns.”

While it is believed that the explosion was caused by a gas leak the investigation is on going. Several neighboring homes were damaged; mostly broken windows from the blast.

Reading about the woman standing there in her pajamas, a bit dazed and confused as to what had happened reminded me of a call I ran as a police officer on night shift to investigate an accident where a car had flipped and caught fire. My partner and I arrived and saw the car was upside down with the roof collapsed down so far that it rested on the lower window edges; there was no way anyone inside could have gotten out with the doors wedged shut. We fully expected the worst as we waited for the fire department. A man, presumably a neighbor, was holding a garden hose trying to put out the flames that had engulfed the car to keep the flames from advancing on a huge oak tree in the front yard.

The fire department arrived a few minutes later and extinguished the flames and was about to use the “jaws of life” to make it possible to retrieve who ever might be inside the crushed vehicle. It was then that the fellow holding the garden hose told us that nobody else had been in the car. My partner and I looked at each other and asked him to elaborate; which would be difficult since he was pretty much “spiffed”.

We figured out what had happened, or filled in most of the blanks based on the skid marks and the first impact point which was on the other side of the street corner in a low level drainage ditch. The car left the roadway at a pretty good clip and went head on into the wall of the ditch at which point the driver was ejected from the vehicle through the windshield. The entire windshield broke free and wrapped the driver, sort of like a blanket as he was hurled across the street and landed on the damp lawn and skidded safely to a halt.

The car apparently did an end over end flip and landed on its roof, collapsed the roof and caught fire at the base of the tree which awoke the folks inside the house. They came out and found the wreckage on fire along with some stranger holding their garden hose. My partner and I arrived in short order and since nobody could witness the “alleged“ drunk driving stunt, we had the survivor transported to the hospital in an ambulance to be checked out. Aside from a few minor scratches the driver had escaped certain death; nothing short of a miracle, standing in the middle of a strange yard holding a garden hose and not quite sure how he got there.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lightning Sensors

This morning’s Houston Chronicle featured an article written by Eric Berger, “Scientists hope sensors will improve strike predictions” (linked via title bar). According to the story, Houston leads Texas with the number of lightning strikes and is second only to Florida in lightning strikes per square mile.

“Scientists now believe they can improve their predictions of which thunderstorms will produce lightning by studying the meteorological seeds within clouds that lead to ground strikes.”

I work outside making keys, often times during inclement weather at the leading edge of a thunderstorm’s wrath. The wind picks up or changes direction and I wonder how much time I have to finish a job before the sky falls. I don’t like working in the rain and I sure don’t like pushing my luck when there’s a chance of lightning; holding my favorite impression file as a lightning rod. This is supposed to be a technically oriented article so I must have been holding my 8 inch Swiss Grobet # 4 round impression file with matching wood handle.

When my son William was very young I could take him along on jobs. One afternoon I was fitting a trunk key to a Crown Victoria on the back lot of Scott & Sons, a small car lot on Shepherd where it intersects with Parker. The weather was moving in quickly so I had William get inside the truck while I raced to finish making the impression key. William pleaded with me to get in with each clap of thunder, flinching as he watched the pink fingers streak out from the ominous dark skies.

I could feel the hair on the back of my neck reacting to the electricity in the air, similar to when I unloaded warm dry towels from the dryer and watched as the hair on my hands follow the static clinging between the folds of cloth. I had an uneasy feeling; that it was time to get inside and out of harms way. I was pressing my luck standing with my lightning rod “sensor” in one hand, my shoulders drawn together in anticipation of the next lightning strike and working as fast as I knew how. The key turned and I polished the ramps for it to enter and exit properly, ran off a finished key on my duplicator and got inside the cab of the truck.

Within a heartbeat of having shut the door lightning struck the telephone pole next to the car I had just finished making keys for. I watched it dance down the telephone lines headed north for several hundred yards, jumping over the poles in the distances until it evaporated.

You know how they say time stands still when you become part of a life threatening event; maybe that’s a chance to understand the eternities, that existence when we have no need for the observance of time. How else could I have witnessed lightning strike so close and travel across the wires and never hear the thunder clap that surely must have accompanied it? William and I acknowledged the close call as we swallowed and gulped simultaneously.

I suppose scientists could place fancy electronic equipment all over the city. They can study how, when and where lightning strikes and learn a great deal; they might even improve forecasting dangerous storms; but nothing will take the place of common sense, things like my mother would ask, “Don’t you have sense enough to get in out of the rain?” “Getting older does not automatically guarantee getting wiser”, mom has lots of these little sayings; her favorite has become, “Hang up and drive”.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New World Order

I watched Decoding the Past on the History Channel, , “Secrets of the Dollar Bill”, the meanings behind the symbols and numbers on the U.S. dollar bill. I enjoyed the show; wondering at times if the folks interviewed could be considered seriously as they seemed a bit over the top in either their manner of dress or level of paranoia. The narration tended to lean toward a conspiracy to entwine cult or religious symbols into everyday money in such a way as to hide some dark plan that would eventually lead to a New World Order; no, I’m not making this up as I go.

One of the folks interviewed, Dr. Robert Hieronimus, was sitting behind a desk wearing an intense American flag shirt along with a biker style black leather vest; yup, that’s exactly what I’d have picked knowing I was being interviewed for a show to be seen by millions. Dr. Hieronimus is the author of Founding Fathers, Secret Societies. He went on to explain about both sides of the Great Seal used on our dollar bill; the front side with the eagle holding an olive branch with 13 leaves, 13 arrows and 13 stars forming a circle above the eagle and 13 stripes and bars. All those number 13’s may have had to do with the original 13 colonies; supposedly; change an octave lower as the music warns us not to be so sure, doubt is inserted and reference is made to Satan’s number.

The flip side of the Great Seal was talked about, the unfinished pyramid with the “all seeing eye” floating above and the inscriptions written in Latin. There was a sinister plot, something that shouldn’t be revealed, at least not to anyone who wasn’t in the elite circle of the founding fathers or the Masons. Quite a bit was mentioned about the Masons, mostly an inference that they must be evil and subversive because, as A. Ralph Epperson, author of, The New World Order, implied, the Masons claim that it’s not secret; it’s sacred. He comes right out and tells us, “I can’t go in to observe their secret meetings, you can’t go in, what’s the big secret?” or something close. “It must be evil”, the Masonic symbols are on our money, secret symbols that can only be understood by their members, is that not to be feared?

Somewhere in the program the idea was brought up that Free Masons were some kind of secret religion, not necessarily anti-Christian; but a religion that would bring about a New World Order. What kind of New World Order, was it a political union such as the EU is attempting, doing away with individual countries and their independent governments or was the New World Order more of a religious order, one that would precede the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? These speculative possibilities floated around but no concrete accusations were ever made, only implied as various rituals of Free Masonry were depicted; secret or sacred in nature can only be my guess. This is all one huge conspiracy, at least to hear them tell it, a plot hatched by our founding fathers; George Washington being one of the most visible Free Masons, with a full compliment of co-conspirator Masons picked as his inner circle.

So who were these evil men, the hidden cult of Masons that were going to infiltrate our society and hide diabolic symbols in our money to bring about a New World Order? George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Adams and possibly Thomas Jefferson; but no proof that Jefferson was a member has been substantiated. As soon as I saw that list of names I immediately thought of them as evil minded men intent on destroying the Christian values of this new nation.

The unfinished pyramid was talked about; the idea that it was a symbol for some kind of a temple where “secret” Masonic ordinances would be performed; oh yes, and that this temple would be a house for their God, the Great Architect of the Universe, their Creator to call home. I realize that they meant this in an unpleasant or even sinister way since the implication was that the Mason’s must have their own God, a different One than the rest of Christians here in America; however, being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I couldn’t help but think of how each of our temples is built and dedicated as a House of the Lord, a place where He can dwell here on earth. It is a place where sacred ordinances are performed, so sacred that details are not shared openly outside the walls of the temple. I can assure you, such sacredness should not be considered secret or sinister in any way; but I suppose anything not totally exposed to the public could be interpreted as sinister simply because it’s unknown and anything unknown must be evil.

The “all seeing eye” that floats above the unfinished pyramid was talked about, having many possible meanings, some of which could be Masonic or even Egyptian in origin. It was suggested that it represented the “yet to be finished” or the capstone that would lead to the New World Order. These symbols were created within six years, give or take, from our day of independence; well before the Book of Mormon was translated and given to the world as a Second Witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is often called the “capstone” of our religion. I felt a buzzing in my head as all these ideas came bouncing through my thoughts.

Here’s what I have so far; all speculation mind you. The Masons might well have their sacred symbols etched on the dollar bill. The Masons might have been something like a John the Baptist for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; a huge jump if ever there was one, preparing a way before the Fullness of the Gospel would be restored. Instead of the New World Order being some kind of political system full of crooked elitists, could they be laying the foundation for the House of Order, a government that will have Jesus Christ at the head? Could all of the history of the American people be about making those events come to pass which would permit the freedom of religion, enough to permit the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, the building up of the Kingdom on earth, the building of holy temples where God’s children could be instructed and obtain those eternal ordinances promised? That’s quite a bit of speculation; but I’d prefer my questions to those who seek to alarm or discredit by virtue of the unknown, and we all know that what we don’t understand must be evil…

I’ve linked with Angel over at Woman Honor Thyself where she has Daydream Believers Open Trackback Weekend. This article just might fit with the topic, huh?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Art Contest

Bonnie sent me an entry form for The National Space Society (link via title bar ) as a means of sharing one of my paintings, Moonfish, in which I showed an astronaut holding a fishing pole next to a small pool, a ripple in the water where the line went in. I’d never thought of submitting any of my paintings to a contest, having used that medium of self expression for my own amusement. Wow, that would be neat, one of my pictures in a national calendar.

Here are links to other paintings I’ve posted on my site:

Outer Limits is Real

We control the horizontal, the images you see…or something like that is the way the Outer Limits started, an annoying electronic assault on your ears prior to the first scene of the show. I thought it was all just Sci-fi entertainment until I read about “Franken-fungus” (linked via title bar) in a Houston Chronicle article written by John Otis this morning.

Some members of congress think the war on drugs isn’t working and they want to up the ante by spraying the illegal crops with “mycoherbicides, weed killers made from toxic, mold-like fungi that they believe could be used to eliminate illegal drug crops for good.” There is a chance that the toxic mycoherbicides could mutate and destroy the world’s food supply; but that is only a small possibility, something that only happens in a worst case scenario. ( Just a guess; but that probably should be micro herbicides )

The first thing I thought of after reading the article was a group of folks out in the middle of the ocean on a large cruise ship. One of the passengers is threatening to share his illegal drugs with all the other passengers from his cabin and locks himself in. Most of the passengers avoid going near that area of the ship; but a few are upset and demand that particular passenger be gotten rid of to make the ship safe for everyone.

These few narrow minded passengers devise a sinister plan which involves cutting a hole in the bottom of the ship directly beneath the locked cabin containing the threat. “If everything goes well that one cabin will flood and leave us in peace.” They ignore the protests of the other passengers, the ones who point out the dangers of cutting holes in the bottom of the ship and the idea is presented to the captain who wants to be rid of the threatening passenger as much as anyone. The captain gives his permission to sink that part of the ship; but only that part of the ship.

I suppose it would be too simple to leave the threat alone; just don’t buy illegal drugs. This isn’t much different than the advice of abstaining from sexual relations until marriage to avoid sexually transmitted diseases and the epidemic which is destroying lives in record numbers.

We now return control of your set until the next time…

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dentists - people we love to hate

Ted, who writes Musings of an Old Man posted one, “Teeth Problems”, and reminded me of how much going to the dentist traumatized me. I’ve linked to his article (via title bar) but add a cautionary line for the squeamish, it might hit a nerve.

Dentist, the mention of the word sends my nervous system into Defcom 3. When I was growing up I went to one who took lessons from Boris Karloff on how to scare children through the use of psychological and actual pain. He understood the concept of pending doom, fear created in the dark corners of a child’s mind, the kind that works out details of the “yet to be experienced”; just the opposite of unbridled joy that builds prior to going to Disney World or looking forward to a birthday party.

Ted has a picture of an antique dentist drill, an apparatus of ingenious design from an earlier era; possibly taken from an old Vincent Price horror movie set. My dentist, the one from childhood, had one that put an exclamation mark on the word terror. I had plenty of time to study the mechanical monster, pulleys and elbow joints of metal with a handle that resembled a Jedi hand saber on the end. Instead of rubber banding as a means of driving the pulleys, at least if memory serves, there were some kind of flexible metal tubes, like a smooth serrated stainless steel chain that might be used as a necklace except long enough to extend from one end of the apparatus to the other.

He would test the machine, prime the fear mechanism in my brain; a low roar was produced as the floor absorbed its vibration and transferred it to the chair in which I was sitting. There was a mechanical noise that accompanied the vibration from the motor that drove the spinning pulleys, the blur of an endless linked tube of driving belts adjusting as the elbows aligned to match the desired angle of attack. “Open a little wider, there, now hold it.”

Once the drill came in contact with the tooth surface there was a noticeable drain on the entire system causing it to change sounds and vibration; a system which now produced an ominous pulse, a slowed chunking sound as if the drill bit was tearing bits of my tooth off rather than carefully passing through and removing the decayed portions. I could feel bits and pieces that had been cast onto the sides of my tongue awaiting removal.

Child protection folks would have brought him up on charges except dentists are on the list of untouchables. I watched a movie the other day, “Nanny McPhee”, an excellent children’s film with Emma Thompson. Somehow I could see Nanny McPhee taking the children to a dentist, one very much like the dentist I had to endure, as a means of getting their attention, maybe calling it lesson “Two”.

I can see the tip of her walking stick being lifted slightly, the children catching a whiff of danger about to befall them as static electricity gathered from around the floor directly beneath Nanny McPhee; then, thump, all of them would be helplessly restrained from exiting dentist’s chairs that miraculously appeared in their house. Each child would have to watch and wait while a clumsy man poked and prodded; rubber gloved hands covered with slime in their mouths, never washing as he attended each child one after another, drilling here and there until the lesson was over. “Please, Nanny McPhee, may we brush our teeth after each meal?” Nanny McPhee smiles as the children notice yet another blemish disappear from her cheek.

I don’t recall my dentist’s name; just as well since I have the ability to hire a reasonably expensive lawyer now. I’m not a big fan of horror movies, the Stephen King crowd with macabre creatures lurking behind the bathroom closet door drooling translucent green slime from their nostrils while sharpening their razor sharp clanking claws prior to an innocent humanoid entering to brush his/her teeth. There would be dark visions cast across the mirror above an old fashioned stand alone sink; shadowy figures of doom in red and black just prior to the beasts skulking out from behind the bathroom closet door that was slowly creaking open, only a little opening at first, just enough to cause a subtle change in the room’s ever chilling temperature. If only for a moment, the briefest of cognizance prior to the beast sinking those claws into the victim, in that moment there would be a likeness of my childhood dentist manifested, a final reminder that none of this would have to have happened if only he/she had brushed more often and had taken the time to floss.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Social Security and the Promise of Retirement

Retirement on Social Security, the pot of gold at the end of a long awaited journey; yea and if you believe that one I have some land in West Texas you might be interested in. I wouldn’t have brought the subject up had it not been for an article I read on CNN’s website. According to Ruben Navarrette Jr, “imagine the burden on younger workers of having to keep legions of aging flower children in a comfy retirement”; comfy retirement; really?

I’m approaching that golden number where I can submit a form, sit back and watch the money roll in from my social security checks. I can see the grapes growing row upon row as Lucy and I relax from our vantage point on the hill, naked as the day we were born in our individual old fashioned bathtubs, holding hands and waiting for “just the right moment”, the sunset fading; sorry, wrong commercial. Maybe our grandchildren are worrying about us as we have a fling at Disney World; golfing, playing tennis, up all hours dancing and drinking. I suppose that might be a tall order since neither of us golf, play tennis or drink. Just how far does Ruben think we’ll get on a social security check of $ 1600 a month?

The dollar amount might be off; but not more than a hundred either way. Is that enough for a comfy retirement? I better do some quick computations before hunkering down in that tub to watch the grapes grow. Thank goodness the house and cars will be paid for and those vehicles had better last another twenty years because a car note will be out of the question. Then there’s auto and health insurance, property and school taxes, utilities, food and a little for the never ending list of things that wear out or break when you least expect it. That $ 1600.00 is looking pretty thin and Alice, you remember Alice, that lady who owns the grape vineyard, the one who told us we could spend our golden years on the top of her hill; I can’t even see Alice.

I know how to make it all work, retire in Mexico. I’ve heard that many folks are living very comfortably down there, complete with house servants. The advantage to being in Mexico; those house servants would be legal down there. It would help if I spoke Spanish and learned how to assimilate into their culture; I wonder, do they grow grapes down in Mexico?

Friday, January 12, 2007

One of those looks

I realized as I was about to post this article that I just started my third year of blogging; before that it was simply called writing. I read about fellow bloggers getting burned out or getting their priorities out of whack and closing down to regroup. “Balance, Daniel san, balance in all things” as Mr. Miagee would say in the Karate Kid movie. I hope to keep my balance and entertain myself for a long time; if anyone else happens to enjoy it, well that’s even better.

I finished watching the movie Parenthood a while ago, one of those shows that gets better the more times you watch. It’s an interesting mix of brutally honest and delightfully funny that’s hard to appreciate without having experienced parenthood firsthand.

Lucy was about to have one of our children, I think it was Jennifer, almost positive on that. I walked with her past the maternity waiting room and noticed a fellow, WWII generation or there about as he had the same number of deep furrows in his forehead as my own father. I could tell that he was looking me over, kind of checking the oil of the next generation as I walked with Lucy and smiled; our own pending addition getting closer by the moment. There was the briefest of eye contact between us and he nodded approvingly; I could imagine him saying, “Now there’s a young man doing the right thing, carefully taking care of his pregnant wife, raising up a family here in these United States of America.” I have a pretty good imagination; but he might have been thinking something else, just my opinion the way he nodded and smiled.

Lucy was led away to a room where they kept track of vitals and the nurse told me that it might be a while so I returned to the maternity waiting room where I was met by my partner’s wife. Sharon was about 8 months pregnant as she gave me a friendly hug and I noticed the change in that other fellow’s countenance, definitely soured as I returned the hug carefully. I could hear his thoughts clear across the room, “One’s not enough, you had to knock up another one; you rotten no good philanderer.”

We sat and talked on the other side of the room for a while before Lucy’s sister showed up to lend support; Barbara was about 8 months pregnant too. We all hugged and Barbara was happy to meet Sharon as they compared pregnancy notes. I glanced over at the older fellow; pure disgust had consumed him as he walked out of the room shaking his head and muttering to himself. “The whole damn country’s gone to hell in a hand basket…” or something.

I have a warped sense of humor and if I’d had a Book of Mormon I’d have walked over and asked if he’d ever read the book; probably just as well I didn’t. I just grinned back at him as he hurriedly exited the room.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

You talkin’ ta me?

I put off writing this particular article for nearly a week, having been advised of some changes in the way the State of Texas has decided to further destroy individual freedoms as they relate to the locksmith industry. In case you missed it, my attitude adjustment knob has been yanked around, again. I’ll print this rant on T. F. Stern & Co. letterhead and place it in my service truck; that should accomplish some of the new requirements.

I wrote about my feelings regarding the licensing of my industry a while back, “Business licenses - Jump for joy” ( linked via title bar ) and then again when more Lilliputian hoops and hurdles were imposed via mandatory hours in classes intended to upgrade our professional skills, “Mandatory Continuing Education in Texas” (linked below in tiny print)

I received my monthly newsletter from the Greater Houston Locksmith Association last week and it had an official looking page explaining the newest information from the State of Texas, section 35.36, Consumer Information and Vehicle Signage.

(a) A licensee shall, either orally or in writing, notify all consumers or recipients of services of the license number and the name, address, and telephone numbers of the Private Security Bureau on each written contract for service for the purpose of directing complaints.
(b) If a licensee chooses to provide the notice required by subsection (a) in written form, the notification shall contain their license number, the name, mailing address and telephone number of the Bureau, in a type-face of the same size as that which appears in the document as a whole, but in no case less than 10 point type. ( that phone number is: 512-424-7710 )
(c) (b) A licensed company must display prominently conspicuously in the principle place of business and any branch office, a sign containing the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the Bureau, and a statement informing consumers or recipients of services that complaints against licensees can be directed to the Bureau.
(d) The company license number must be in letters and numbers at least one inch high and permanently affixed or magnetically attached to each side of the vehicle in a color contrasting with the background color.
(e) Vehicles operated by private investigators or personal protection officers are exempt and vehicles operated for administrative purposes are exempt.
These changes were intended to enhance the requirements related to the provision of consumer complaint information and to facilitate such complaint, as required by statute.

I’m sure they mean well, after all they want to protect the poor ignorant public from dangerous locksmiths, a public that the State of Texas must have assumed couldn’t find their anus with a funnel, pardon the crude comparison. Way back when common sense and humor were still permitted; I know, that’s too far fetched to believe possible; where was I, back when I was a police officer in a Department that had yet to start down the road to a mandated division called Internal Affairs.

I can remember an unhappy citizen walking into the office to complain about some officer saying something crude to him while handing him a traffic ticket. The Sergeant smiled and nodded while listening and reached into his desk where he retrieved a roll of toilet paper. He handed that roll of toilet paper to the hostile citizen, “Fill this form out and leave it on my desk when you leave”. Now you and I know that handling of complaints in such a way as to provoke additional anger was the wrong way to “satisfy” citizen complaints; a tally on the card for why Internal Affairs was established later on down the road. Somewhere between, “Who gives a hoot and don’t let the door hit you on the way out” and bending over backwards to accommodate the whiners, common sense and the right answer might lie.

In our organization of licensed locksmiths (GHLA) we talked in depth about following the established guidelines, to include displaying our license number on service vehicles. The law provided that any stationary which advanced or advertised the business, such as company letterhead, work orders, business cards and side panels on service trucks would fall into the category which mandated display of the company’s license number. I suppose I will have to generate a magnetic sign to place on each side of my truck to let my customers know that I’m a licensed locksmith parked in their driveway making a key to their car; not a plumber or electrician, house painter or some other vendor making a key without proper license information. Have you seen that attitude adjustment knob; I think it may have fallen on the floor and rolled under the sofa?

On rare occasion when my work isn’t done to perfection, I guess I could explain to an unhappy customer that they could call me back and request that I make it right; that would be novel. If that didn’t solve the problem I could tell them to call a different locksmith and send me the bill if that other locksmith could verify that my work had been done improperly. The customer could take me to small claims court and let a judge or jury determine the outcome; but those kinds of solutions only happen in a country where freedom exists, kind of like the way America used to be. No, now we have to notify our comrades in Austin, the watchdogs of our new social order. That phone number, in case you missed it, 512-424-7710.

Play it again Sam

Why would anyone in their right mind want to go to New Orleans much less live there? I know, I’m not saying it properly, the fashion being to slur it so badly as to sound casual and trendy, Nawlens. My mother, bless her southern upbringin’, was born there but had sense enough to get the heck out. I enjoy the way she pronounces that city’s name, a southern sweetness that takes the edges off; New with the “ew” tricklin’ off to a taper followed by a soft “Or” with an almost invisible “L” ending with “yens”. Mom cringes when she hears some damn Yankee butcher it OR-LEANs, a harsh insult to the ear; but that’s not why I have no use for that city.

New Orleans forgot that it’s part of the United States of America, a place where citizens have the right to protect themselves while in their homes. Their mayor, Ray Nagin, tried to disarm law abiding individuals by confiscating handguns right there in their homes following Hurricane Katrina. Now good ole’ Ray Nagin wants to set up check points to stop murderers from murdering; wow, why didn’t we think of that before? (link via title bar)

“"We're sending a signal that the system that used to allow you to commit a murder and there were no consequences is over. It has been easier to commit a murder than another crime in New Orleans," Nagin said.”

Does Ray Nagin realize what he said? He sent a signal alright, “the system that used to…”, it used to be a free country where citizens used to be under the delusion of having a Constitution to protect basic rights; after all, it “used to”. Ray must not want to get hung up with all that founding father nonsense; after all, confiscating guns from ignorant homeowners was for their own protection and locking down their ability to move freely is for their own protection as well.

I’d stop there except “Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to share more information on trailer residents with police, especially in New Orleans.” The good Senata’ wants to see into private files, see who’s messin’ ‘round based on privileged information. Maybe I’m reading more into this than there is; has New Orleans turned into a police state? I envision pictures of crossing gates on roads leading into town, boarder crossing guards standing next to their gate houses going through the trunk of your car looking for god only knows what as they check the list of known hooligans and round up the usual suspects. Fog shrouds the airport as Ingrid Bergman escapes leaving Bogart talking with…

If ever I was thinking about visiting that cesspool they call a city just to see the lowlife on Bourbon Street and get fleeced in the French Quarter I’d have to say no; or is that naw to Nawlins. I suppose a statement like that might hurt my chances of running for office on the national scene; maybe not, I don’t think those folks can read anyway, look who they put in office.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

If there is no law there is no sin

I’ve been keeping up with Mover Mike’s dialogue, at least the two he’s published with the start of this new year. The first article entitled, New Year’s Party Conversation, came down to explaining the difference between a Democracy and Socialism. The following from Mike’s post said it best:

“In 1944 Friedrich A. Hayek wrote the book The Road to Serfdom. A classic warning against the dangers to freedom inherent in social planning. I have always loved this paragraph:

"Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom," he (De Tocqueville) said in 1848; "socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible values to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude."”

The second article of Mike’s that fit nicely with the first, “The Elites Stand Naked Before Us!”, where he explained how convenient it is for those in power to decide what truth is by redefining everything on a regular basis.

“A Sophist was a person who could argue eloquently – and could prove a position whether that position was correct or incorrect. In other words, what mattered was persuasion and not truth. The Sophists were also relativists. They believed that there was no such thing as a universal or absolute truth, valid at all times. According to Protagoras (c.485-c.411 B.C.), "Man is the measure of all things." Everything is relative and there are no values because man, individual man, is the measure of all things. Nothing is good or bad since everything depends on the individual.”

I looked up an article from my files obtained from Meridian Magazine written by Robert Bork, “The State of American Culture and What can be Done about It”, in which he explained how it was possible for the Supreme Court to destroy the meaning of the Constitution through manipulation and interpretation on an ever changing definition of once constant terminology.

“The Supreme Court is particularly potent because when it speaks in the name of the Constitution, whether it speaks truly or not, as to that issue the democratic process is at an end. That is why so many interest groups that cannot get their cultural agenda through any legislature, appeal to the justices to make up new and previously unimagined rights. And the justices do just that.

The intellectual seeks in various ways... to endow his life with pervasive meaning, and thus to find unity with himself, with his fellow men, and with the cosmos.... As a consequence, there is a growing demand that the world and the total pattern of life be subject to an order that is significant and meaningful.

The only transcendental alternative after the decline of religion was socialism. Conservatism cannot compete on those terms. If the dream of socialism was equality in all aspects of life, conservatism had no alternative dream, no transcendent principle that can make life significant and meaningful to secular intellectuals. It seeks to see the wisdom and benefits of existing practices and institutions and to think carefully before adopting suggested improvement.”

I would turn to the Scriptures, specifically those found in the Book of Mormon, to simplify the building blocks that at one time were the accepted foundation upon which this country was established; bearing in mind the varied Christian organizations and churches which hold the Book of Mormon in ridicule or contempt, does not alter the information found within as truthful and useful.

In the Book of 2 Nephi, chapter 2 starting in verse 5:

“And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.”

While this verse is intended to explain a relationship with God on eternal platitudes it works well in establishing smaller truths, such as the idea that men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil or right from wrong, that they should understand the concept of rewards based on properly following such laws or the opposite, penalties for violating those same laws. Read a little further down in verse 13 of that same chapter and an interesting line of thought is brought to bear:

“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.”

I recommend reading the entire chapter, for that matter the entire Book of Mormon to consider the information, weather it is for the good of any man who might endeavor to know those truths which our Father in Heaven has prepared for us from the beginning, or if the information is of no value and should be abandoned as useless.

The Book of Alma, chapter 42 covers the same basic pattern and explains further about the basic concept of eternal principals which govern all mankind. I hesitate to include religious doctrine in what might easily be considered a secular train of thought except that it is my contention that all things which are relevant to the secular can also be explained spiritually, the two being inseparable in the overall scheme of things.

“And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin.
And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?”

Once again the verses supplied are part of a wonderful explanation on what has been called the Great Plan of Salvation, that plan in which mankind is supplied with a Savior in order to meet the demands of justice in order to return to the presence of God. Read the entire chapter; I challenge anyone with a knowledge of Christian beliefs as found in the Bible not to agree with each and every idea provided.

I make no apologies for including Latter Day Saint scripture as a foundation for establishing one specific fact; that fact being that in our present day Socialism has become the religion which supplants and removes the original foundation upon which our nation was established, those principles, once generally understood and accepted, have been deemed archaic, too ridiculous to be considered worthy of inclusion in any rational discussion on most any subject, let alone a discussion involving the operation of our country, its political systems or justice as found in the courts.

Robert Bork wrote:

“I will necessarily refer to the Supreme Court because it is both a cause and a symptom of movements in our culture. As John Derbyshire recently put it, "We Americans are heading into a 'crisis of foundations'..... Our judicial elites, with politicians and pundits close behind, are already at work deconstructing our most fundamental institutions -- marriage, the family, religion, equality under the law."

I found the following, also written by Robert Bork, to be illuminating and relevant to our current cultural situation:

“First, that radical individualism is, in moral matters, coming close to nihilism. If each individual defines meaning for himself, there can be no allowable community judgment as to moral truth. This is postmodernism, which has been defined as an uneasy alliance between nihilism and left-wing politics. The public is not allowed the final say on moral truth, but the Olympians are. The result is that the Court-enforced "moral truth" is always to the left of the American center.

Second, the sense of the sacred is becoming a mocked and withered virtue. It is worth recalling what John Stuart Mill wrote.

"In all political societies which have had a durable existence, there has been some fixed point; something which men agreed in holding sacred..... But when the questioning of these fundamental principles is (not an occasional disease but) the habitual condition of the body politic; the state is virtually in a position of civil war; and can never long remain free from it in act or fact.” (emphasis added)

Is it any wonder, with sound statements such as I have provided from his basic character and beliefs, that the liberal left wanted nothing close to a Robert Bork sitting on the Supreme Court? The character assassination of Robert Bork was nothing short of a crucifixion in terms of their desire to totally annihilate his reputation in such a way as to assure his being tossed from consideration to the Supreme Court, much less be listened to in any serious venue on a national issue.

Character assassination is the tool used by secularists to manipulate the course of nearly any discussion by eliminating those who do not bow to their secular god, the god of intellectually superior pundits reared by the book of limited responsibility. Since there are no eternal laws it follows that there is no such thing as eternal consequences, no hope of rewards that cannot exist except in the minds of deluded individuals brainwashed by religious fanatics. They have declared religion a crutch for the weak minded, for surely there is no God, nothing so inexplicable as the Eternities; why even consider information obtained or offered by those who are so gullible.

Lastly, and I promise to end with a quote from Lemuel Calhoon, who wrote an article entitled, “Cultural Suicide”, posted on his site, Hillbilly White Trash.

“Western society, what used to be called Christendom, may be the first great culture in the history of the world to fall not because of invasion, plague, geological or climatic disaster but because of willfully embraced delusion.”

Tokyo Rose ( from a Navy guy )

I received this from my good friend Richard Sutton and I’m just passing this along for thought :

She had the best music on her station and most people just laughed. The ship I was on was sunk no less than five times but each time Davey Jones threw her back up.

Tokyo Rose During World War II -- the Japanese developed a way to demoralize the American forces. Psychological warfare experts developed a message they felt would work. They gave the script to their famous broadcaster "Tokyo Rose" and every day she would broadcast this same message packaged in different ways, hoping it would have a negative impact on American GI's morale.

What was that demoralizing message?

It had three main points:

1. Your President is lying to you.

2. This war is illegal.

3. You cannot win the war.

Does this sound familiar?

Is it because Tokyo Hillary, Tokyo Harry, Tokyo John, Tokyo Teddy, Tokyo Nancy, etc. have picked up the same message and are broadcasting it on Tokyo CNN, Tokyo ABC, Tokyo CBS, Tokyo NBC, etc., to our troops?

Tokyo Kennedy this very day called Iraq, “Bush’s Vietnam”. (linked via title bar )

The only difference is that they claim to support our troops before they demoralize them, and every other American within ear shot. Come to think of it, Tokyo Rose told the troops she was on their side, too!

No Threat, None, Nada and Zip

I read Peggy O’Hare’s Houston Chronicle story this morning of an unfortunate incident regarding the shooting death of a citizen by a Houston Police Officer. The title, “HPD facing criticism in mentally ill man's death” followed by a secondary line, “Family says the 21-year-old shot by police posed no threat”. (linked via title bar)

I have several questions, some of which should only be asked after the investigation has been completed and presented to the public in a proper forum; however, I feel it important to ask, “If the family claims, as the story has been reported, that he “posed no threat”, then why did they feel it necessary to exit the house to get away from him, why did they call for police to intervene rather than call their family doctor?” Is it possible that “some” threat existed rather than no threat?

Did the family expect the police officers to simply walk away and tell them, “Hey, it’s your son, your hammer; you take it away from him. We see no threat of any kind here either.”, and then get back into their blue and white police cars so they could go to the local donut shop for a snack break?

I find it convenient for local activists, those who have no authority or responsibility to the public, to offer inflammatory remarks which defame an entire police department without having any established facts. “The local activist criticizing the handling of the incident said that families should never call Houston police to help deal with a mentally ill loved one. "If they can't solve something from a distance with their toys, the guns come out," said Arlene Kelly, co-founder of Civilians Down, an activist group for families and friends of people killed by police.”

I have been accused in the past of being in “lockstep” with what ever the police department comes out with to defend their actions. Those who have read my articles over the past couple of years here on my blog site or any of the internal letters, those directed through the chain of command while I was an active member of the Houston Police Department need to wipe away that grin.

I’m a member of the post WWII generation, those infuriating individuals who ask “why” at the drop of a hat; a character trait which did not endear me to my “superior officers”, or more properly stated, those who out ranked my position within the Department, and used up several yellow legal pads worth of paper to explain what appeared to be an insubordinate attitude. In each instance I was called to justify my “opinion”, something which is fine as long as you are in a command position; an opinion which required my justification for articulating any dissatisfaction with the Department on standard operating procedures which appeared either out dated, inefficient or improper. The fact that I survived twenty years with that Department and reached retirement speaks volumes.

For the record, I was suspended only once for insubordination; but that was a lulu, costing me forty days pay. I won’t go into details; suffice to say that they won and I lost, or did they? My supervisors had tried to get me fired for questioning their integrity, “indefinite suspension” was the official term, and that didn’t float in spite of my helping them when I asked several of my supervisors to clime up my …; they wouldn’t all fit so it only cost me forty days. The rest of my folder must have been interesting to read as well, a collection of official documents regarding my confrontations with supervisors and the public in general; it having been handed around on more than one occasion for the amusement of my immediate supervisors, in direct violation of Departmental Rules and Regulations.

I thought it was a bit over the top to show a picture of the victim wearing a tuxedo as if he were headed out to pick up his prom date. I wasn’t there, maybe that’s what he was wearing while holding the hammer, sitting peacefully on the sofa in the middle of the living room while the “Gestapo”, my apologies, the insurgents dressed to look like police officers, armed with machine guns, cannons and atomic weapons stormed the walls; as he posed no threat to anyone and called his prom date to explain the delay.

My questions regarding the presentation in Peggy O’Hare’s article would include the racial identification of the police officers involved in this particular incident; or more importantly, the lack of such reporting. Nothing much was said about any of the police officer’s ethnic backgrounds. The public should be told that the police department maintains more than an even mix of Asian, Black, Hispanic and even Anglo ethnically oriented individuals who are aware of the need to be sensitive to the law and to properly discharge their duties, especially the use of deadly force.

I worked with some officers, brothers in the truest sense, named Chaison before I retired, likely relatives of Rodney D. Chaison Jr., named as the officer who shot the suspect. The Chaison family has supplied Houston with some exemplary Black police officers, officers who showed Christian values and a healthy respect for human rights, to include the right to life itself. I’m quite certain that the Chaison family and those who know them really appreciated Arlene Kelly’s comments, “If they can't solve something from a distance with their toys, the guns come out”.

I wrote about a similar article last week ( link provided below ) when an activist attempting to rally anti SWAT team sentiment published photographs and above each photograph had pasted his opinion, “Someone will die tonight”, because the SWAT team had been called into use. I resented the implication then and I resent it now; the police department, contrary to some malcontents with a microphone and a camera to widen their platform, the police department represents it citizenry, its desire to obey the laws conceived to protect everyone without inference of racial, social or otherwise impartial means. I expect the highest standards of those who wear the “Blue”, and continue to respect the individuals who face dangers, dangers that we normal citizens avoid and rely on those police officers to face on a daily basis. I consider Arlene Kelly’s remarks slanderous and to print them as if she were some kind of expert equally malicious.

The public has every right to question each and every incident that involves their police department, those individuals who represent the public’s desire to maintain the peace and dignity of their particular corner of the world. That does not include distorting facts by slanting an article in such a way as to pour gasoline on an already inflamed situation; but of course, this article poses no threat to our perfect social order here in Houston, where everyone trusts and appreciates the finest level of law enforcement available, no threat at all, none, nada and zip.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Odds and Ends

Saturday my son in law’s younger brother got married and my grandson JJ got to be the ring bearer. He was very serious about getting the job done properly as he stood motionless until asked for the rings. He held the heart shaped pillow up and knew right away that his part was over; looking over his shoulder at me with a huge smile and then popping a thumb’s up sign as he winked. I never notice stuff like that, never.

Somehow I was involved in a conversation about magic shows and performers. I happen to mention that I’d seen plenty of good magicians; but one of the most memorable was a kid trying to show off a fairly simple trick. Just a guess on his age, put him somewhere between 8 – 11 years old as he stood by himself in front of the audience with perfect confidence.

“I’m going to make this ketchup bottle disappear right before your eyes.”, holding the familiar shaped bottle for all to see. He then took an everyday brown lunch sack and carefully introduced the ketchup bottle into the inverted bag.

We wanted the boy to enjoy his “magic”, holding a straight face, all the while observing the shape of the ketchup bottle cloaked within the brown paper bag. Everyone started clapping and the young magician smiled and bowed, carefully maintaining a grip on the sack. He crushed the empty sack into a ball providing the real end of his performance; the ketchup bottle wasn’t in the sack and we never figured out how he fooled us, great close up magic.

Our Sunday School instructor was getting us off and running as we begin a course of study in the New Testament this year. He went over the basic outline and showed us a King James Bible on CD ( link via title bar ) that’s available through the LDS distribution center for about 6 dollars. He said that most of what’s on the disc is available via the internet; then went on to say that for the serious scholars they could read the Bible in Hebrew, Greek or Spanish with the English version on one side of the screen along side the language of choice. It might be fun looking at such a display side by side; of course I’d be lost as a goose since I speak neither Spanish, Greek and for sure not Hebrew. I enjoy the ease of looking up Scripture on the Church website; all the same it might be worth sending $ 6 just to say I had the fancy one next time anyone asked what I was studying this year at Sunday School; that and an hour a day spent studying the New Testament might impress the instructor.

Extra points if you identify the challenge and correctly record it in the comment section.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Hey take a look at this

I’ve explained to my kids not to open attachments that come to them via email or to visit internet sites which cater to carnal interests because of the increased possibility of exposing my computer to hostile virus packages. This past week I sat down and noticed that my desktop icons looked different, something that happens quite often when my grandson JJ moves them around; except this time I didn’t recognize several of the icons. Immediately I suspected something was wrong and ran my antivirus program to verify my suspicions.

A friend of my son wanted him to look at some interesting video clips, or at least that’s what I was told. I shook my head and bit my lip, at least for a few moments prior to explaining that this is my business computer, that I expect those who are permitted to use it for pleasure to follow my rules without any variance to those rules. That’s hard for my son to accept, maybe it’s a generational thing that I’m unable to understand; things like being responsible for your actions, following rules and all that. I hope he enjoys going to the public library to use the computer from now on.

Fortunately all my data is backed up regularly; my business data is backed up anytime an entry is made and my personal folders are backed up at least monthly depending on how much has been added. My iTunes and all my movies are on a removable hard drive so I won’t lose anything other than the time it takes to reload all my programs, that and the down time for repairs.

I now will have the pleasure of taking my computer in for service, under warranty hopefully since it is so new, to have the hard drive reformatted or what ever it is they have to do. I will have them reinstall Office and everything that gave me headaches when I first loaded those programs; some kind of issue between Outlook and Norton made for a wonderful time ( linked via title bar ). I have to wonder why I have Norton and pay for a program that let the virus get past anyway. The screen saver thing has never worked the way it should, some kind of driver that can’t be found turns off my internet connection when I should see fish swimming after a few minutes and I have to reboot to establish a connection.

I feel like the space shuttle astronauts having to go around the far side of the moon and being out of contact with mission control for however many minutes they are in radio silence mode. Keep those fingers crossed for my computer and I’ll be back with more rants as soon as I am able.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I walked in on a movie that was playing this afternoon, a chic flick from what I could gather in the short few minutes, a bunch of girls going on and on about a pair of magical blue jeans. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was the movie, I had to look it up to be sure of the title.

I was ready to leave when, as the movie progressed, one of the young women went to visit a friend in the hospital. There in the hospital bed was a young girl, her ashen complexion was very convincing; but that’s not what got to me. I looked at her eyes, little lumps of black coal set against the darkened shadowed sockets with only the faintest reflection from the light in the room on her pupils.

“She’s dying, isn’t she?” I asked my wife since she had been paying attention to the story line of the movie whereas I had barely noticed.

“Leukemia.”, she said. I’d have to give an award to the make up artist involved in that particular scene. I felt my emotions overflow with memories of Tim Andersen, a dear friend of mine who died of leukemia several years ago.

I visited Tim a couple of days before he died at the hospital. I’d known him for years; a vibrant young man, full of life and a spirit worth knowing. It hurt, deep inside, as I looked into his eyes and noticed the fires going out even as I stood there. That was the first time I’d ever watched death working in an active way, at least on someone I cared about. That may sound strange, my being a police officer all those years and dealing with the dead or the dying on numerous occasions; but that was part of the job, I never really knew any of those people.

I once was at the scene of a domestic violence shooting; a husband had beaten his wife to a fair thee well. The only thing that saved her was a small pistol that she used to shoot him several times in the chest; that was her story and she had the black eyes, the bruises and the look of a life wasted living in fear as proof. It took a few moments for us to determine what had gone on, making the scene safe and only then noticing the man sitting in the chair had been mortally wounded, a couple of gasps and he was gone; not that we didn’t call for an ambulance, just that it didn’t take a doctor to see that he wasn’t going to beat up on his wife ever again.

That kind of death didn’t get to me; Tim’s living inside that empty shell looking out at me through those lumps of coal, that bothered me and seeing such a similar image on the television set me “trippin”. I made a “crispy critter”, on the Pierce Elevated one time; a fatality accident where the car caught on fire and . . .; you get the idea, no need to go into details. I couldn’t eat barbeque for a long time after that; but even that was abstract compared to those darkened eyes looking at me from the edge of the veil when I knew the person, the remains of that person leaving this mortality.

I was ten years old when my grandfather died of cancer. I wasn’t old enough and hospital rules made it so I couldn’t visit him. I never saw the worn out old body; all I remember is the healthy version, the man who took a shine to me, an awkward kid. Maybe the hospital rules were a blessing in disguise, keeping me from seeing death at work left me with an innocence, a lack of reality that keep my childhood in place a bit longer.

I know, “trippin”, that’s a 60’s term. We keep a box of Kleenex on the end table to manage emotional disturbances while watching movies; Lucy tends to cry, just about anything will set her off. Somehow the box was empty and I had to fetch a new box from stock. I wiped away some tears, an allergy reaction or something ‘cause movies never get to me; must be time to get the sofa cleaned. I may watch a movie tonight, The Dirty Dozen or maybe Aliens; no chic flicks, please.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Kick in that door

I was reading Adam Selene’s post on the use of SWAT teams over at The Liberty Papers ( linked via title bar ). I’ll resist jumping on as a critic, either the manner in which a police operation was handled or, having picked up the familiar odor of a police bashing, becoming defensive. I wasn’t there and those who had responsibility for that job have to justify their actions in each and every incident at all levels of the justice system. Police officers are human beings, even SWAT officers, who have eternal souls and will forever be searching that soul hoping they did the right thing as they approach God’s bar of justice.

Instead I’ll relate a police war story from my night shift experience, something that I have first hand knowledge of. My partner ( so long ago that I couldn’t tell you which rookie I was training that night ) and I were dispatched to an apartment on a “disturbance with a weapon”. Upon arrival, that’s technical police talk for “When we got there”, we were met by a man claiming that his son was in the bathroom, messed up on drugs, armed with a pistol and possibly suicidal.

We carefully positioned ourselves on either side of the door and attempted to talk to the young man. This went on for several minutes without any coherent remarks from the other side of the door, a door which had been locked from the inside.

“Can’t you kick the door in?” The father’s suggestion was within reason and, after all, it was his idea rather than ours, it was the same as if he’d instructed us to destroy the door to save his son and get that pistol away from him. We didn’t count out loud like you see in the movies, “A one and a two”, no; that sounds more like the old Lawrence Welk Show anyway. My partner and I thrust our feet forward simultaneously and the door simply exploded into the small bathroom as fragments of the flimsy simulated wood product disintegrated.

The young man sitting on the toilet reacted by covering his head to protect his face from the pieces of door that crashed in on him as he; how to put it, was attempting to “let nature take its course”. He had no weapon of any kind and his mind had been clouded by some unknown substance which is why he never responded through the door.

I won’t pretend that we solved any problems that may have existed prior to arrival, to include the course of nature being hastened after our scaring the bejebers out of the young man sitting on the toilet ( substitute the more common phrase if you like ). We cleared the call as “unfounded”, yet another police term for situations that don’t match up with the nature of the original call and in no way should be considered part of the justice system; the digestive system possibly, not the justice system.

At no time did the thought occur to me, “Hey, this would be a great training opportunity for the rookie. Let’s kick in a door for practice so that some day down the road he can put on his training resume, “I kicked in a door”. Now, to set the record straight, I did watch an ER doctor perform an “emergency” tracheotomy on a fellow who had already been declared dead while being instructed on technique by the senior doctor. I figure I’d rather have him learn the first time when a mistake wouldn’t be such a big deal; after all, the next time it might be me he was working on. So, kicking in the door ended up being a great training exercise and would add to the ability of the rookie police officer’s bag of tools.

I don’t believe that SWAT teams are called out to exercise their particular abilities unless the list of “unknowns” justifies their being on location; to promote that line of thought might be considered paranoid, like saying, “The guy was only going to kill himself, why did SWAT have to help him?” There are many suicidal folks who lack the internal ability to finish the “job” themselves and have learned that, if you scare a cop at just the right moment, the cop will do the job for you; it’s call “police assisted suicide”. Who’s to say that no danger really existed, we didn’t need SWAT? When a person claims to have a weapon, visible or not, has shown mental instability, is acting in such a manner as to convince a rational person to consider there is eminent danger action must be taken. The danger is real, not only that individual; but to those in close proximity. The police officer is not permitted the luxury of inaction and I sure wouldn’t want any armchair soda sucking nincompoop to make the call based on paranoia and libertarian distrust of governmental agencies.

There is a tendency to use hind sight, “If we only knew …”, “. . .he really wasn’t a danger to anyone else”, or, “we could have talked him out of suicide if only we had given him an extra half hour to think about it…”; that kind of revisionist mentality attempts to cast doubt on previous rational conclusions in favor of a fairy tale existence which never was nor could be. Police officers make split second decisions based on a smattering of details with the hope that all the training and experience they have gained up to that point will guide them to a proper, legal and safe conclusion on each call.

I take back what I said in the opening paragraph, I’ve been retired from the police department since 1992; but I felt the defensive hair stand up on the back of my neck and I will criticize the police bashing remarks linked to in Adam Selene’s article, the ones that come right out and say, “Someone will die tonight”, implying that the police SWAT team was called so automatically there will have to be blood supplied for them to feel as if they did the job properly. Statements like that will not get you invited over for New Years dinner at my home.