Archive for April 2007

Getting Fleeced

April 30, 2007

Like I said, I don’t like applying the Bible’s shepherd-sheep imagery to the relationship between government and governed. But that doesn’t mean the image is wrong as a descriptive matter.


Wal Mart Has Customer Service?

April 30, 2007

News to me.

Government And Sheep

April 30, 2007

Sheep and shepherds were the subject of the readings in yesterday’s mass, in particular, Jesus saying this:

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

That’s a fine image if applied to God’s relationship to people, or a parent’s relationship to his kids. But when the deacon prayed something like:

And may all government leaders remember to treat the people as a sheperd does his sheep,

I did not respond with “Lord, hear our prayer.”

I kept silent, because I think the shepherd-sheep image is a very bad way of looking at the relationship between government and citizens. In my view, government does not exist to meet all my needs, protect me from all harms, and raise me to be an obedient little sheep. No, it exists to do the bare minimum necessary to keep us all from killing each other. That’s it.

Unfortunately, my view is not the dominant view. Or even a popular view, as I am reminded by this story in the paper today:

State Rep. Pat Moore, R-Pleasant Grove, says some of her friends have been hurt as back-seat passengers of vehicles involved in accidents.

That’s one reason she’s sponsoring a bill that would require occupants of of a car, pickup truck, van or other motor vehicle, including people in a back seat, to wear a seat belt while the vehicle is moving.

“We need to be as secure as we can in the car, so that if it does suddenly stop, or there’s an accident, we’re protected more,” Moore said.

Right. This is the Shepherd-sheep mentality. The sheep – Moore’s friends and the rest of us – are too stupid to take care of themselves, hence the good shepherd – Moore – will protect us from ourselves.

Give me a break. I realize the costs of this legislation won’t be high, but still, doesn’t anyone care that Moore is telling us we are too stupid to act in our own best interests?


April 28, 2007

From today’s bike ride; of the babies; and for the new contest.

Alabama the beautiful.

Uhmm, O.K.

Looking south over Sloss towards downtown.

St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Brookside. So far as I know, the only onion dome in Jefferson County, maybe even in all Alabama.

Another view.

The ball fields in Brookside.

Five Mile Creek Canoe & Company.

The launch into Five Mile Creek.

Directions for the creek.

When I was in college, I  worked at a sporting goods store that outfitted just about every local baseball and softball team. For every team that was made of males over thirteen, there would always be one guy who, when asked what number he wanted, would reply “Heh, heh, 69 man.” I don’t think the same idea was behind the choice of this number:

Now some baby pics.

“Look, we’ve got feet!”

Mom and Malcolm snoozin.

Dad too.

Happy Omi.

Finally, the contest. We had multiple winners of the last one: The patio at Joe Muggs in English Village. The new one is much more challenging. In fact, I’m going to use two pictures. The first is the actual contest; the second is a clue.

If you looked south out of that window, this is what you’d see.

E-mail me your guesses.

Now That’s A Resolution

April 27, 2007

Maybe this one would have an easier time than did the slavery apology:

The devil is sticking his pitchfork into the nation’s immigration politics.

At least that’s what one of Utah County’s Republican delegates thinks.

Don Larsen, a district chairman, has submitted a resolution equating illegal immigration to “Satan’s plan to destroy the U.S. by stealth invasion” for debate at Saturday’s Utah County Republican Party Convention.

Referring to a plan by the devil for a “New World Order … as predicted in the Scriptures,” the resolution calls for the Utah County Republican Party to support “closing the national borders to illegal immigration to prevent the destruction of the U.S. by stealth invasion.”

Concurring Opinions has already made the obvious joke about the resolution coming too late to keep Satan out of Utah:

Brigham Young University students stood and showered Vice President Dick Cheney with applause after his 15-minute speech that encouraged them to approach life with flexibility, persistence and gratitude.

In related news:

Immigration issues are fueling a rise of hate groups in the United States, with their numbers increasing 40 percent in six years, according to statistics released Thursday by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery.

Gosh, I can’t imagine why people would react irrationally and violently to the problem of illegals, what with responsible and intelligent people like the Republican from Utah out there offering sage leadership on the issue.

But hey, look at this:

Alabama has 22 reported hate groups, the lowest of surrounding states, Potok said. California, with 63, and Texas with 55, have the highest numbers of reported hate groups in the country.

Hah. Those pot-smokin, free-lovin, Muhrica-hatin hippes are three times as hateful as we are. Sweet Home Alabama, baby!

This is my favorite part:

One of the most popular groups in the country, Council of Conservative Citizens, denounces its label as a hate group, said Gordon Lee Baum, a spokesman for the organization, which has active chapters in 28 states, including five in Alabama.

Clearly, that label is inapplicable. Just listen to the good sense exhibited by the grand wizard leader of the CCC:

“That is ridiculous,” he said. “The Southern Poverty Law Center is in the business of finding hate groups and has made millions off of so-called outing right-wing groups.”

Baum said his members, who he says represent different races and religions, do have strong views about issues such as illegal immigration, Baum said.

“Not everyone is for this rampant runaway immigration,” he said. “Diversity is not our strength, it is our calamity, our downfall. That is a recipe for disaster. The Hispanics coming here have no intention of coming to the melting pot. They want a Mexico North. They want the Southwest to become nonwhite.”

Ethno-centric delusional rants, anyone? Here’s a suggestion, if the CCC wants to be considered as anything other than what they are – a bunch of sorry assed racist pieces of s**t – maybe they ought to find a better spokesman.

House Upholds Important Judicial Campaign Tool

April 27, 2007

Story here:

The state House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a bill that would have let juries, not judges, decide whether people convicted of capital murder should be put to death or serve life in prison without parole.

Under current law, juries give advisory verdicts in capital cases, but judges can override.

If a jury recommends the death penalty, a judge can impose a sentence of life in prison without parole. If a jury recommends life in prison without parole, a judge can impose a death sentence.

What the story does not mention is that when judges use override, nine times out of ten they use it to reject the jury’s life recommendation and impose a death sentence.

Whether or not to impose a death sentence is a serious question, one that ought to be answered by a person who is completely free of any outside influences. In a state that chooses judges through partisan elections, that person is not the judge.


April 27, 2007

Three new ones.

The first two aren’t much worth reading for anything other than a good laugh, being propaganda machines. Besides, neither of them have me on their blogroll, so obviously they are clueless. (Joking, really I’m not that full of myself). Anyway, here’s the Alabama Democratic Party’s blog, and here’s the Alabama Republican Party’s blog.

The third one is Bessemer Opinions. Good stuff, there, especially all the flower pictures. Also, I discovered after reading this post that a favorite bike ride of mine takes me past the author’s house. Small world.