Pass me the duct tape!

Kudos to NASA, who released this statement, “NASA: No Flights Until Foam Issue Fixed “. That should be a comforting thought, right? Well, when the article that it leads to is This one, I am not so sure. The last time an American shuttle left the ground heading for space some foam tore away from it, that led directly to the deaths of a bunch of people. What on earth were the people on the ground doing after that? I ask only because,

SPACE CENTER, Houston – NASA grounded future shuttle flights Wednesday because a big chunk of insulating foam flew off Discovery’s fuel tank during liftoff — as it did with Columbia — but this time apparently missed the spacecraft.


So they went ahead and investigated the whole spacecraft, yet neglected to look at the weird foam flying off issue? As if they didn’t have any knowledge that the foam would rip right off of the craft as it ascended towards the heavens (heavens meant as the clouds)? They had warning, it happened the very last time they tried to go to space…And people died.

This time was going way better though:

The chunk of foam flew off Discovery’s redesigned tank just two minutes after what initially looked like a perfect liftoff Tuesday morning. But in less than an hour NASA had spotted images of a mysterious object whirling away from the tank.

Wow, it took only two minutes for this mission to go horribly wrong. Is that a record? Probably not. As I recall the complete annihilation of the crew of the Challenger took only about, what, a minute? Technology is certainly making for better space flight (at least until they want me to board that death trap).

Was something done wrong to make the foam blow away? Were therulterioror motives behind the actions of those involved? I really don’t think so. Beyond that, I am pretty sure that it was good old ignorance that caused the problem, as opposed to terrorism. I certainly hopre that the crew make it back alive, yet, it would be a stern, in-your-face moment if they didn’t. That may sound crass, but the guy said:

“You have to admit when you’re wrong. We were wrong,” Parsons said. “We need to do some work here, and so we’re telling you right now that the … foam should not have come off. It came off. We’ve got to go do something about that.”

I didn’t put those words into his mouth. Though I would try crazy glue or duct tape before I sent the damn thing out again. It is a death trap as it is, not a lot of people going gung ho to jump on. I might, but I don’t really care whether I live or die. Perhaps that should be on thquestionnairere that you fill out. If you would rather live you are not qualified.

Stupid teen ruins it for everyone

I must admit that when I was in my teens I would often fantasize about having sex with one of my friend’s Mother. Of course nothing came of it, not that I didn’t try, I even busted out the “I don’t bite either but I swing a pretty mean tongue” line. Still she wouldn’t succumb to my blatant sexual advances. She missed out on the greatest thirty seconds of her life.

But enough about me.

It seems that one mother was into fulfilling fantasies. She invited all the boys over for parties with alcohol, drugs, and sex! The trifecta! I am not sure that it is such a good idea to be giving the juveniles drugs, probably not alcohol either, for those offenses she should be punished, but the sex?


Johnson, who is free on bail, held parties for the boys almost weekly between October 2003 and October 2004, authorities said. She was accused of providing drugs and alcohol to eight boys and having sex with five of them.

Seriously now, those boys are in their teens, they have probably tried to masturbate with anything that they find laying around that has a hole in it. They have probably tried to buy sex from girls in their neighborhood, maybe even ruined an apple pie or two, who knows. Then someone just offers them sex, what are they gonna do? Damn right they are gonna take it. They don’t care if they have to fight off the crabs with a machete or scrape the puss away before they dive in, it is sex, the ‘Holy Grail’ of the teen boy.

As per usual, one of the kids had a big mouth and screwed it up for everybody.

Police said the investigation began after one of the boys told his mother about the encounters, and she reported it to authorities.

I’m sure that these boys have been traumatized by the experience, you know the no strings attached sex with an older woman. They are probably shells of the boys they used to be. That or they are so giddy about the whole experience that they went back for more every week for a whole damn year. I am pretty sure that the sex was consensual, if anyone was coerced into it it was likely not the boys.

Supplying drugs and alcohol to the kids was pretty stupid, but not unheard of. Better judgment could have been used there. But the sex, I am all for it. The woman did nothing more than give them what they wanted, is that such a crime (well I mean it is a crime, I was meaning that to be rhetorical).

An aside about teens and drinking. In my High School one student died as a result of driving drunk. The parents of the rest of the students decided that the best way to keep that from happening again would be to host (supervise really) the parties that they knew were going to occur (homecoming night and the such). There was alcohol at the parties, no illegal drugs though, and everyone in attendance was forced to surrender their car keys upon entering. Everyone had to stay in the designated house the entire night. The parents that were hosting the party had to get notice, in writing, from the parents’ of each of the teens in attendance. There were no more deaths due to drunk driving while I was in High School.

That plan (even though I doubt whether it was actually legal, yet everyone knew they were doing it, including the police) had the major problem of requiring the kids to tell their parents that they would be drinking, then the parents had to sign a paper allowing it. No one in my group would dare to tell their parents they would be drinking, much less ask for their approval. Instead we would just take our beer out into the wilderness (there is much of that in Oregon) to get wasted while camping out. In retrospect I am pretty sure that our parents knew what we were up to but thought it better that we do it while camping out than to try to drive home after. Probably a good call.

The same was true of lots of the other groups in my school though. I am not sure exactly how many people ever showed up to one of the supervised parties, but I can tell you that there were times when I saw half the school at a party on the hill. I have rather a humorous anecdote about the hill parties but I will save that for later. I have gone way off topic as it is.

My dogs are getting screwed again!

I am getting so damn sick of people punishing dogs for the ignorance of their owners. It’s not like we punish children just because they go around killing other people as a result of poor supervision, well, actually, that might be a really bad parallel to draw. When children go bad and start killing people they get punished, and the parents are looked down on by society (as they should be), while when a dog kills someone, the dog is put to death (without question), and the owner is looked down on by society.

The thing is that in both cases it is the lack of proper supervision that leads to the end. Had anyone spent any time with junior (as he was accumulating a cache of weapons in his bedroom) that tragedy might have been avoided. Of course the “might” on this one is up in the air. Similarly, the dog would NEVER have killed a damn thing if it had been raised in a loving home.

You can talk all damn day about how vicious dogs are, I am gonna turn a deaf ear to it. Dogs, like children, are a product of the environment they grow up in. When taken care of and disciplined they will behave just as you want/hope/expect them to. Leave a dog, or a child, to fend for itself for the majority of a couple of months and you are going to end up with quite a different animal.

I think that the owner (in the case of the dog) and the parent (in the case of the child) are far more responsible for the actions than the child or dog. What we really need to do is put some stringent guidelines down regarding the responsibility of parents/pet owners. Failure to control your child/dog, and any subsequent deaths resulting from that failure, will mean your ass is the one in jail. You are the one in charge, after all. You have to beat them into submission while they are young (or use positive reinforcement, yeah, like that works…) to make sure that they fear you more than they fear god. That is how you make a good dog/child.

That all aside, the reason I am up in arms is a Story from Brazil.

It is short so I will just quote the whole thing:

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) – Pit bulls were banned from Rio de Janeiro’s famous beaches and other public places in the Brazilian city on Wednesday under new regulations that could eventually make the sometimes aggressive breed extinct in the area.

Many residents own the fearless, sturdy dogs for protection in a city where murder rates are among the highest in the world.

The ban, issued by the state of Rio de Janeiro after more than six years of debate, follows numerous cases of maulings by pit bulls, especially of children. Last year, a pit bull badly injured a 4-year-old girl in the city, while a year earlier another pit bull mauled a 72-year-old woman to death.

Gov. Rosinha Matheus announced a ban on breeding, importing and selling pit bulls and made the registration and sterilization of existing dogs compulsory within the next four months.

In addition, pit bulls, rottweilers, dobermans and fila brasileiro dogs — purebred as well as mongrel — can only appear in the streets between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m, and away from public parks and squares.

They can only be walked by a person older than 18 and always on a leash, with a muzzle when in the street. Owners who do not comply can face charges while their dogs will be taken away by police.

According to the Brazilian Pit Bull Club, there are some 30,000 pit bulls in the state.

So, that all being said, can you seriously look at the faces of my spoiled little dogs and think that they could kill anything? Come on, they are little cuties. Sure the little green eyes make them look a bit more vicious, but so vicious that they would waste the energy to get up off of the floor? Probably not. Hell they barely even wasted the time to look up at the camera for this shot, and that is the most they will ever do, outside of licking you or barking at people that they can’t get at. Once the people can be reached they immediately either run away or begin to lick like their is no tomorrow. Guard dogs they are not.

Still my life is better for having them, so keep you damn dog on a leash if you can’t control, same with your child, and quit spoiling it for the rest of us.

I have never had so much Pi(e)

I had long thought that my knowledge of pi to the twelfth number was pretty impressive, those numbers being 3.14159265359 (rounded of course). It turns out that I am really just a slack-jawed country boy.

The headline reads:

Man recites pi from memory to 83,431 places;
Japanese counselor breaks his own personal best

I don’t really know whether to react with fear or awe. Through a bit of cursory research however, I did find that most people do not count the 3 when talking about how far they have gotten with Pi. That means that my meager 12 digits is really only eleven digits (damn those old twelve digit calculators!). On the up side I do have Pi memorized about 1/7,585th as far as that guy, so, woo-hoo, top 10,000 baby!

I have never really understood the importance of pi in the first place. Sure it is a computational tool that you can use with circles and arcs, but it has been for thousands of years. In fact the Egyptians just gave up on computing it, noting that 22/7ths was close enough. We still use it today for computational purposes but, regardless of how many decimals you go out, it is still about 3.14. Why the hell do we continue to try? Is the theory that the ten-millionth number will round every number before it until we have a ‘real’ number true? No. That is evidenced by the fact that there are sections of Pi that go on for fifty or more numbers without hitting anything above a 4.

Will the world end once the human race actually factors out Pi? If we make it that long we are likely clinging to threads, but, I do hope so.

Now, just for fun, I offer you the first 50,000 numbers in Pi, as offered by Ball and Claw:

3.
141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944
592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647
093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559
644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165
271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273
724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360
011330530548820466521384146951941511609433057270365759591953
092186117381932611793105118548074462379962749567351885752724
891227938183011949129833673362440656643086021394946395224737
190702179860943702770539217176293176752384674818467669405132
000568127145263560827785771342757789609173637178721468440901
224953430146549585371050792279689258923542019956112129021960
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059731732816096318595024459455346908302642522308253344685035
261931188171010003137838752886587533208381420617177669147303
598253490428755468731159562863882353787593751957781857780532
171226806613001927876611195909216420198938095257201065485863
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005370614680674919278191197939952061419663428754440643745123
718192179998391015919561814675142691239748940907186494231961
567945208095146550225231603881930142093762137855956638937787
083039069792077346722182562599661501421503068038447734549202
605414665925201497442850732518666002132434088190710486331734
649651453905796268561005508106658796998163574736384052571459
102897064140110971206280439039759515677157700420337869936007
230558763176359421873125147120532928191826186125867321579198
414848829164470609575270695722091756711672291098169091528017
350671274858322287183520935396572512108357915136988209144421
006751033467110314126711136990865851639831501970165151168517
143765761835155650884909989859982387345528331635507647918535
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637180270981994309924488957571282890592323326097299712084433
573265489382391193259746366730583604142813883032038249037589
852437441702913276561809377344403070746921120191302033038019
762110110044929321516084244485963766983895228684783123552658
213144957685726243344189303968642624341077322697802807318915
441101044682325271620105265227211166039666557309254711055785
376346682065310989652691862056476931257058635662018558100729
360659876486117910453348850346113657686753249441668039626579
787718556084552965412665408530614344431858676975145661406800
700237877659134401712749470420562230538994561314071127000407
854733269939081454664645880797270826683063432858785698305235
808933065757406795457163775254202114955761581400250126228594
130216471550979259230990796547376125517656751357517829666454
779174501129961489030463994713296210734043751895735961458901
938971311179042978285647503203198691514028708085990480109412
147221317947647772622414254854540332157185306142288137585043
063321751829798662237172159160771669254748738986654949450114
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036751590673502350728354056704038674351362222477158915049530
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403701416314965897940924323789690706977942236250822168895738
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207545654532207770921201905166096280490926360197598828161332
316663652861932668633606273567630354477628035045077723554710
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Isn’t there a typo in the third line? Hell, who cares. That is a lot of numbers.

Proud to be an American?

So it turns out that the state of Mississippi is no longer racist. Really. Check out the headline:

Ex-KKK Member Convicted in 1964 Killings

So, forty-one years after the crime they finally came up with enough evidence to convict one of the killers! That is great news! Unfortunately that is not the news at all. According to the article the same man was tried for the much lesser crime of violating the civil liberties of the victims in 1967 and walked away without a conviction.

I know this all happened a long time ago, at a point where the south was still pretty pissed off about the abolition of slavery and certainly not ready to treat people of color as equals. I will go one step further to say that I don’t think they are any better today than they were in the ’60s. That being said, you would think that there was some sort of concrete proof in this trial, right? Nope. Most of the people who testified in the ’67 trial are dead so their statements, from the court records in that trial, were the only thing that it took to convince a contemporary jury of his guilt.

The thing that really pisses me off is that the asshole isn’t being put to death, in fact he was not even convicted of murder. Why? It seems that, ” Killen, a bald figure with owlish bifocals, sat impassively in his wheelchair, an oxygen tube up his nose, as he listened to the verdict.” Yeah, he is an old dude, he used to be in the KKK, he killed (or had a hand in killing) three people (two white, one black) but, he is/was a preacher, therefore it never really happened? I guess the jury must have conceded that it did happen but would the charges have been reduced to manslaughter if he happened to be younger, or, heaven forbid, a man of color?

Another wonderful quote comes from some guy that doesn’t live anywhere near Mississippi (like me), but who also doesn’t seem to know the story, “On the one hand, this guy needs to be convicted. And on the other hand, the state needed to present better evidence,” said Paprocki, 54, of Philadelphia. Great sentiment, except that they had all of the evidence when the thing went to trial in 1967, since they had to use the testimony of dead people to get a conviction today.

I am just a bit skeptical about whether Mississippi is really trying to show that they are now an equal races state. If they really are, why didn’t they try the guy again years ago, you know, before he appeared to be a decrepit old man? Do you think that maybe, just maybe, they were figuring that no jury would convict someone in that condition?

Would you, if you are/were (a la Michael Jackson) not white, be comfortable walking down the streets in any town in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia or the rest of the deeply racist states after dark? I for one know that I wouldn’t be. Hell, I might not even be safe since I am 1/4 Native American, makes for darker skin you know.

As George W. Bush would likely say, “God bless America, and all the white people who live here.”

You steal the pizza, you do the time

Much like every other time I have made ultimatums regarding this site, today I had no intention of making a post, then along comes the following headline:

Elderly woman jailed over pizza delivery complaints

I can feel her pain, I really can. Pizza is made to order and then deliverd to your house. If the pizza joint doesn’t deliver then 1) they aren’t gonna have a whole hell of a lot of business, 2) They are going to rely solely on ‘walk-in’ customers, since 3) Why would you advertise in the yellow pages if people had to walk/drive to your place, while every other pizza joint on earth delivers. The woman in question, however, might have been a bit too nit-picky. (I am going to quote the whole story since it is short.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – An 86-year-old North Carolina woman spent two nights in jail after police said she repeatedly called 911 to complain about pizza delivery.
Dorothy Densmore was charged with misusing the 911 system after she allegedly called the emergency line 20 times in about half an hour.

Densmore told police dispatchers Sunday she was angry that her local pizza parlour wouldn’t deliver to her apartment and demanded that they arrest the restaurant owner.

Instead, they arrested her.

But the five-foot, 98-pound woman wasn’t about to go quietly. She scratched, kicked and bit the hand of the police officer who came to arrest her, said officer Mandy Giannini.

Densmore is also charged with resisting arrest.

While it’s rare for someone to be charged for abusing the emergency line, Densmore kept calling even after she was asked to stop, said Giannini.

Giannini said the woman also complained to police that someone at the shop called her a “crazy old coot.”

Okay, seriously, the woman is well into her eighties (senility has probably kicked in a long time ago), but why didn’t she just call a Dominoes or Pizza Hut? If you call the loca pizza joint, and they say that they don’t deliver, they simply don’t deliver. Maybe if she was 22 and offering sex for a pizza delivery (and if she was you should be quite suspicious of S.T.D’s or A.I.D.S.) then the guy would think about making an exception.

The problem here is that the woman took on the whole ‘I am old, do my bidding’ persona. It might work with her family, but there is no sapient being on this planet that will do as she asks just because she is old…It seems to work inversely, in fact. Think about the options here, on the one hand you have the old lady that is mad that she can’t get a pizza delivered to her. On the other hand you have a nuclear (no it is not NUCULAR!) physicist who is trying to design a more efficient nuclear engine. Which person is more likely to get the pizza delivered to them? If you guessed Grandma you would be wrong.

Grandma needs to either put it back into her pants or show why she is the better bet for the long term. Unfortunately, Grandma just wants pizza, but they don’t deliver.

Old people suck. They vote Republican, almost invariably, then wonder why they actually have to pay for their meds. I guess, in a perfect world, once you are either diagnosed with a ‘condition’, or become really sick, you should definitely move to Sweden. Either that or vote for the guy that wants to help you. Never happens though…That damn, elusive, perfect world.

Feedback; Terri Schiavo; Dinner

The screwy work schedule went about as predicted in the last post. However, it was my wife’s birthday yesterday, so even though I was off work at a very reasonable hour I was not able to post. Her parents, her brother, and her brother’s significant other took us out to dinner. More on that later.

•I got an actual email! An email based on the content of the website, praising the site, and most of all completely unsolicited! I will quote it in its entirety, suppressing the name of course:

I like your site! I have spent much of my work day trying to read as much as I can. I really enjoyed Meeting Arthur Witles! Can’t wait to read more!
Keep up the great work!

I know that my wife played a role in getting the web address to this person, but still, isn’t it this type of simple praise that keeps me typing away? Well, of course it is, else I might have just skipped out on posting tonight. I do appreciate any feedback, as I am sure anyone with their own webpage does, but it seems that few people ever actually take the time to send an email whether they agree/disagree with what you are saying. In my case I know that I usually just never send emails to websites assuming that they will never be read, responded to, or taken seriously. If that is what is keeping you from emailing me, I can assure you that I read all the email, respond to all of the email, and take all praise in stride. I do assume that any criticism is coming from completely whacked out psycopaths (if you think my opinions are wrong then you are obviously clinically insane), but I answer them as well.

There was a bit of a mistake in that last paragrah. When I said that I read and respond to all emails I forgot to mention that I don’t really read the ones that come in with subject lines that read like V|I|A|G|R|A.

(A lengthy phone call from a friend ended the post here yesterday. I am going to continue it today on the same page, if I can get back aboard the train that my thoughts were riding yesterday).

•The wife’s birthday was on Wednesday and her parents had arranged for us all to go out to dinner. We just went to the place we always go to, only this time we, or I really, opted for the outdoor seating since it was a pretty warm evening, not to mention that it put us in the section of our favorite server. The food was excellent and a good time was had by all.

At the start of the dinner, I asked the waiter to bring me a beer, but to put it onto a separate ticket. I was not entirely sure who was going to be paying for the meal or how it might be split up, so I didn’t want anyone else to have to pay for my beer, when the beer is four dollars a pop. When it came time to pay I looked at the check while everyone else was talking and decided to pay for it myself, both everyone’s meals and my beer tab (as the meals added up to about sixty dollars, which was just what I had gotten paid to install a couple of sinks in one of the rentals that my boss owns). I asked my brother-in-law if he would cover the tip if I paid for the meal, and while he offered to split the meal many times, he finally agreed. I did force him to tip a full 20% (which seems excessive to a lot of people, but you must understand that servers in the state of Arizona get paid less than minimum wage and have to claim that they were tipped at least 10% by every customer, lots of people don’t tip even 10% which really screws the server over. When I get good service the tip is always 20%).

The thing that I found funny about this was that then the parents-in-law offered to pay for the meal. I remember a Father’s Day meal that I had planned to pay for, but when I returned to my seat from the restroom, they had a calculator out to figure out who owed what (which was why I bought the beer separate this time, makes those calculations easier). This time I didn’t decide I was going to pay for it until right at the last minute, and, as I found out later, my wife’s parents really did want to pay for it -both because it was their daughter’s birthday and to thank me for fixing their pc several weeks ago. Oh well, I decided to use the money I had made on the side to pay for the meal and I feel pretty good about it. There will be many other opportunities for someone else to snatch the check away from me in the future.

It seems that paying for the dinner was observed by the gods of monetary karma. The next day I bought a lottery scratch ticket, something I do maybe once a month or so usually and purely for entertainment; I really don’t consider it my retirement plan. The ticket I bought was of the three-dollar variety, going by the name of Slingo(on the occasions when I do buy scratch tickets I usually always buy the two or three dollar ones since there is so much more to scratch off, some like crossword puzzles, some like bingo, it takes you a few minutes of anticipation before you eventually lose your money). I scratched that ticket off a little bit at a time while I was reading web sites, it was a twenty dollar winner. Soon after scratching the ticket I realized that I had forgotten to buy cancer sticks while I was out earlier, so I took that scratch ticket and another ticket that I have had laying around for months and went to a different store than where I bought the initial ticket. I tucked the twenty bucks from the ticket into my pocket, but used the three dollars from the other ticket to buy yet another Slingo ticket. Which turned out to be a ten dollar winner. It seems that the gods of monetary karma really did want me to split that dinner bill with someone since they gave me back half of the money the next day. At any rate, it sure was nice to scratch off two tickets and end up with actual cash. Usually I just end up saying “well there went three bucks”.

•The aforementioned lengthy phone call, the one that cut yesterday’s post so short, was with a friend that I talk to kind of infrequently, yet who is the closest of all of my friends. What made the call go so lengthy was our discussion of the Terri Schiavo fiasco.

I had my mind made up on this a long time ago. The woman had been immobile and virtually brain dead for a decade. Let her die for God’s sake. I know that I wouldn’t want to be kept alive in that state, and certainly not to be paraded around as a political wedge tool. Of course the only person in the entire universe that knew of her actual wishes died when she did. The whole issue just seems such a non issue to me that I couldn’t understand why any rational human being could oppose letting her die. Then my friend brought up a few issues (a couple of which I don’t want to get into) that I had never actually thought about.

The first issue is that maybe she never told either her husband or her parents anything about what she would want if she became so horribly disabled. I can see that as a possibility. Then each side invents conversations where her will was spoken when it never actually was. While I see that as a possibility, I still think that it would be more humane to let her die than to fight about the legalities of it, especially since her conditon hadn’t improved in a decade.

The second issue is one that is extremely complex, far too complex for me to try to delve into, but I will just scratch at the surface. My friend’s contention is that the brain damage had completely wiped out any memory of her former self; that she was alive without knowing that she had ever been an active, walking, talking, functioning person. She is alive, she is not in pain, she has no memory of a “better time” in her life, this is her reality. This could all be completely true, the only way that you will ever know is to end up in the condition that she was in. Perhaps you really do have a mind like a newborn child where everything seems so new and wonderfull, unfortunately you will only know this once you get to the state she was in and at that point you no longer have the capacity to make a decision about your life or death.

The third issue is about moving on. My friend’s assertion is that since she wasn’t in pain it was doing no harm to keep her alive. Her husband had finally given up hope and started to move on with his life, while her parents had not yet made that decision. Again, this is a pretty deep philosophical issue, but, on the surface it is a selfish issue on both sides. If the husband has truly come to terms with the fact that his wife is never going to get better, that she is going to be in this state until her life is taken by some process of aging, why doesn’t he stand by her side and let her live? On that same note, if her parents have reached that same conclusion, why not just stand by her side and let her die? In the case of the parents I am sure that the reason they want her to live is simply love; they love their daughter unconditionally and want her to be there as long as possible (regardless of mental or physical capacity). In the case of the husband I am pretty sure that the reason he wants to let her die is out of mercy; he knew her when she was a vivacious young lady with a thirst for life and simply can’t stand to see her like this. The husband was able to make the decision to just let her go, the parents can’t. Does that make either of them right or wrong? If so, who should be the judge of that?

The fourth issue is where my mind started to itch a little bit. Have you ever read a “living will”? I have, my mother made one when she saw her mother slowly dying in a hospital room, and gave copies of it to all three of her sons. While I am sure that there are no surviving copies of that sheet of paper, I am pretty sure that we will all remember exactly what it said. One of the lines in it read, roughly, “In the case of serious injury affecting brain or nervous system function no extraordinary means should be used to prolong my life.” That line is saying, in effect, that if she is ever in a coma and not able to live on her own that she doesn’t want a bunch of machines hooked up to her to keep her alive. But, should a little tube that gives you food and water be considered extraordinary means?

I am currently not sure just how to judge this one. Making a person starve to death/die of thirst over a 13 day period seems inhumane, but, keeping that person alive for a decade without any sort of cognizant existance seems wrong also.

Shootout in Florence

Well, such as is the way of the universe, yesterday’s really short post went on to be within the top ten of my longest posts ever. I would like to attribute that all to my crack writing ability, as well as a good subject to write about, unfortunately, neither of those were actually the case. It seems that I am just a lot better at bitching about past experiences than current ones. I really don’t think that anyone out there is a bit different than me in that respect; it takes you years of thinking about an experience to get it etched into your long term memory.

Whether that experience was good or bad, it ceratinly left a mark on me. Do you remember what you got for your birthday in 1983? If you do, I would certainly like to know why, which is why I put the ’email me’ link on the bottom of the page in the first place.

Now, on to other stuff.

• It turns out that really freaky, weird news can happen right where you live…Even if you live in an extremely small town. I am going to quote the entire article from the Arizona Republic Web Site , as it might not be there tomorrow.

70-year-old dies after 12-hour police standoff in Florence
Liikely died of self-inflicted wound, authorities say
Dec. 14, 2004 02:40 PM:
Schools and several businesses in Florence were shut down Tuesday morning as a 70-year-old man held police at bay in a 12-hour standoff before he was fatally wounded by what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

At one point in the standoff, around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Robert Schultz allegedly used an AK47-like weapon to fire 50 to 60 rounds at an armored vehicle with SWAT team members from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office inside, said Cmdr. Jerald Monahan.

Deputies returned fire but it was unclear whether they hit Schultz. None of the deputies was injured.

Schultz barricaded himself after a conflict with his son escalated, authorities said.

The standoff forced the evacuation of a number of homes in an area south of the center of town near the residence on Circle Drive where the conflict took place.

Robert Schultz barricaded himself inside a bus-like RV in his back yard shortly after 8 p.m. Monday night and was pulled out by police shortly after 8 on Tuesday morning.

Following sunrise, police could see Schultz lying down inside the RV from which he fired at the armored vehicle. Police took Schultz into custody and he was flown to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn, where he died around 11:30 a.m., Monahan said.

Florence High School along with the town’s middle school and elementary school canceled classes.

Florence police Chief Robert Ingulli said a number of students travel through the area where the standoff took place to get to the schools.

“The fear was that they would be in danger if gun fire erupted,” Monahan said.

The Florence Unified School District administrative office, located on the other side of a parking lot behind Schultz’s residence, was shut down along with four main roadways encompassing the evacuated sector of town.

After Schultz barricaded himself inside the RV, Schultz’s wife called 911, Monahan said. She told police that Schultz had a number of weapons inside, and when authorities contacted Schultz on a cellphone, he threatened to harm police, Monahan said.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team responded and later called in the Chandler Police Department’s SWAT team to provide relief for its deputies.

Now, I do know the guy involved, it is a very small town. While I would like to think that there is some way to keep Assault Rifles out of the little town, I guess this is pretty much proof that anyone, anywhere can gain access to one. While you wouldn’t think that the guy, who is 70 years old would have one, I think this proves that he just might.

My question is, what did his son say to piss him off so much that he was ready to kill the world, or die trying? I suppose they will uncover more of what actually transpired during the standoff as time moves on, but, still, I really think it must have been something ‘earth-shattering’ to send him over the edge.

I really don’t know what happened to make him snap, I am not even sure if I want to know. What I do know is that I don’t want to piss off anyone in the family, or the in-laws for a very long time. Funny how I have become so attached to this life.

I guess that is pretty much normal logic though; Sure you hate your life, but, would you trade it for your death? Me, I have only x amount of years to be on this earth, and I plan to live every damn one of them! As far as going senile when I am seventy, talk to me in forty years…At which point I might bludgeon your children when you are not looking, then snap and start doing really hostile things. Only time will tell.

The most unfortunate part of this whole thing is that there is now a widow, the wife of the guy that died, who has no husband, no guns, no ammunition, but, a laundry list of things to be taken care of. I feel for her far more than I try to feel for him. Imagine being elderly, then having to pay for an unsuspected funeral, though if you have a ‘cache’ of weapons (which inludes an AK-47), I suppose you would be foolish to think that ‘natural causes’ would be the killer…..Yet,I guess the police probably did steal (I mean remove from the home) anything that had a hole in one end of it.

I seem to be a bit too upset about this issue to get involved.

Commercial law, Games, and Bad Santa

I decided to take a week off of updating this page, and for no damn reason whatsoever. This should lead to one of two responses; either you are angry that I didn’t mention I would be taking the time off, or you didn’t even notice. Most likely the latter I suspect.

Fear not, nothing terrible has happened to myself or my family. I don’t have intentions of shutting down the page. I just didn’t feel like typing much over the last week. Not to mention that I didn’t find much of use in the news. I instead spent my computer time like I always did before I started this site, I played a lot of video games. And not even very good ones!

• Here is one of those things that I could not believe when I saw it, but when I clicked through to read the article I found out that it is true. Congress is sitting on legislation that would make it illegal to fast-forward through commercials on shows that you have recorded. How true that is, or how likely the legislation is to pass, remains a mystery.

While reading through the article linked to above, and having read a couple of other articles about the issue, it seems like what they are actually trying to get rid off is peer to peer file sharing software. How that has anything to do with fast forwarding through a commercial is beyond me. The thing is that this is just exactly how a lot of really stupid laws get passed. It starts with a fairly decent idea like banning peer to peer movie sharing software. Then someone in the advertising lobby says, “And while we are at it let’s make it illegal to fast forward through the commercials if they record the movie from tv.” Everyone laughs, but no one reads the fine print. Next thing you know you are in prison for skipping a kotex commercial.

Democracy in action. How sad is that.

• So I finally got around to buying Roller Coaster Tycoon. That is something that I had been thinking aobut doing since it came out, at which point I was pretty seriously into SimCity. So five or six years later, I actually boosted the nine bucks for the game. The first thing I gotta say is what a difference half a decade can make in system requirements. I have every one of the major requirements beat by 500%. Even the so-called ‘optimal’ ones. So, at the very least I don’t have to screw around with the choppy gameplay I would have had I bought it when it first came out.

As for the game itself, it is pretty fun. It is certainly not the type of game that you want to sit there and play. You really just want to get the park set up fairly well and then let it run in the background while you are off surfing porn sites and what not. Check back in once in a while to build new attractions as funds become available. That’s about it. Much like any simulation type game, you really have to have a taste for it in the first place. The type of micro management that you have to do is all a bit tedious, sometimes borderline boring. But it is fun to be able to quadruple the price of umbrellas when the weather forecast shows rain. It is good to be the king.

There are two things about the game that really annoy me. The first is that it is called Roller Coaster Tycoon, while it seems (at least early on) that roller coasters are far from the meat of succeeding in your objectives. They have some prefabricated coasters that you can put up, which cost a ton of money, that can attract a crowd. That is great for just getting started, but I want to build some really monsterous ones. Which I did. And while it costs me about 350 dollars an hour to operate it, it routinely goes through the course empty, almost all of the park goers say that it is too intense for them. Honestly now, most good theme parks are built around one very intense roller coaster. Some people will travel thousands of miles just to try out the next big one. Why is it that no one wants to ride the monster that I built? Oh well, it was a lesson learned.

The other annoying thing about it is that there are four different angles that you can view the park from. Depending on which view you have it on it will make it look like your coaster is a complete circuit, while if you rotate the view it turns out that you are off on the height or distance of a couple of sections of the track. This really only happens after you build one freestyle only to find out that one of the hills is too steep to make it up, thus forcing you to cut the section, tone it down, and try to reconnect later. I spent a good half an hour fucking with that problem yesterday, quite annoying. It is possible that this was all covered in the instruction booklet, however the game didn’t actually come with one, only a blurry version of it in .pdf format, which is quite the annoyance in and of itself.

These problems were likely solved in the second roller coaster tycoon game, who knows maybe I will buy that one in another five or six years.

• My wife and I took the time to watch the movie Bad Santa over the weekend. I found it pretty amusing. It was sort of the type of low brow humor I was expecting, while it did have moments that were damn near touching. The funniest part of the movie though was when Billie Bob Thorntons character said that the north pole was like the suburbs. When asked which one, he replied “Apache Junction”. You would really have to live in the Phoenix area to understand just how funny that is. A.J. is the butt of every joke ever made about rednecks, hispanics and indians. Of course it is deservedly so, there is nowhere else in the valley that has so few teeth, and so many non-functioning cars, per capita.

As far as Billie Bob, I don’t know that I had ever seen a movie with him in it. At least if I did he left so little impression on me that I am blanking it. I only knew who he was because of his previous relationship with Angelina Jolie. I can say this much for Billy Bob, he sure does play a convincing drunk. Whether that is the skill of a finely hones actor, or the easiest role of his life since it was not an act at all…Who knows?

Funny thing about my wife renting the movie was that the other movie she wanted to rent was not available that day. The other movie was ‘Elf’. I am just guessing here, but those two movies seem to be on opposite sides of the holiday film universe. Of course it could be that watching Elf after Bad Santa would negate some of the horrible Christmas thoughts that I now have in my head, but I guess I will never know.

I am pretty sure that the only reason that she was looking to rent Elf was that it has Will Ferrell in it. I like Will Ferrell as much as the next guy, but I am afraid that he is going down the same road that Jim Carey did early in his career. They put them in movies to get butts in the seats, then just make them basically do the same comedy routine that we have already seen hundreds of times. Then it just starts to get tired and boring. Hopefully this won’t be the case with Ferrell, or if it is he will overcome it as well as Carey did. Of course I don’t really care, so this is kind of moot anyway.

Well that is about it for today.

Religion in the News

So let us start off with some fun with maps, shall we?

This is a humorous little map that the wife emailed to me the other day. Well, it would be humorous were it not so close to reality. I post it here mostly only because of a piece that I was reading at the Washington Monthly about red and blue states, and how the colors for the parties seem to have switched recently -which I might add was explained in more detail on that site today, if that is something that you really care about-. While the colors in this map aren’t the correct colors for the way the election shook down, it sure doesn’t take a genius to figure out why it is divided the way that it is.

My only regret is that I live in part of Jesusland in that picture. And I mean it, seriously, my only regret in the entire world is that.

Which leads nicely into today’s ‘What the Fuck is Wrong With You People?’ segment. Yet another one of those stories that makes me wonder just what century we are supposed to be in. The headline reads Judge to Rule on Georgia Evolution Disclaimers. Here to quote a bit from the story:

A public school board in Georgia violated the U.S. Constitution when it placed stickers that challenge the theory of evolution on biology textbooks two years ago, a lawyer for a group of parents said on Friday.

That part makes sense to me. This is the United States, after all, and there is supposed to be a separation between church and state (although that seems a bit clouded judging by the current administration, and the half the country that voted for it). Challenging the theory of evolution in textbooks seems to go a bit beyond a child praying during a recess break, that is the administration knowingly forcing religion onto the students. That is a violation of their rights, right?

The U.S. Supreme Court (news – web sites) ruled in 1987 that creationism could not be taught in public schools alongside evolution.

Seems pretty black and white doesn’t it? I mean honestly, even if you are religious, and you really believe that the earth is really only a few thousand years old, and that God personally created Adam, etc. None of that changes the fact that it is illegal to be teaching it in schools. It is absolutely fine for you to tell your own child that the idea of evolution is such nonsense and holds no merit whatsoever, then show them the first few passages of the Bible which state in no uncertain terms that God created man. Explain to them that it must be true since it was written a really long time ago; That they should count their lucky stars that God spared Noah and his wife when he flooded the entire world, else humanity would have been extinct; Anything that anyone else tries to say is the devil talking. That is all your choice, to do as you wish at home, not force it on others in school.

Off topic, how do people who believe in creationism explain things like dogs? There are hundreds of different kinds of dogs. The ones that live where it is cold have really thick fur and are usually pretty stocky, while the ones that live where it is warm tend to have very thin, short fur and are more athletic. Did God create all of them like that in his infinite wisdom? If so, how can the breeds of dogs that man himself created be explained away? I have seen a few shows on the discovery channel showing some of the strange breeding that kennels have done to make a dog more suitable for a certain task. Is it really believed that God decides that since the kennels are fucking with the purity of his creations he will reward their efforts by divining a brand new breed of dog? Does that really make more sense than evolution to them?

Digressions aside, I guess I am getting a bit too worked up over the whole thing. I am not religious, don’t plan on ever being religious, don’t plan on ever having children who could have religion forced on them, and when I read the disclaimer that was on the books I guess it might not have been as bad as I had thought. It merely says,

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

While reading that I guess it doesn’t actually say anything about religion at all. What I do find a bit disturbing is that it says that the material should be approached with an open mind. Isn’t that sort of the polar opposite of how religion approaches things? If someone religious were to read the bible with an open mind, I am pretty sure that they would come away with a far different view of it than they currently have. The problem seems to be that really religious people have selective amnesia about the bible. That is pretty easily evidenced in the fact that when you are at church (if you have ever been there), you will be instructed to open your bible to certain passages, not certain chapters, just one line, from one chapter, from one book, from the bible. Were you to read the passage before it, or after it, you might be in for a nasty surprise. It is that sort of reading between the lines and taking things totally out of context that makes religion seem so frightening to me. You can grab any random book off of the shelf and open it up to four different pages, pick a line, then throw them together to make a seemingly good point.

“They appeared abruptly from behind every tree and statue.”
“Then the Emporor smiled.”
“He’d walk through the city on that first great day and the people would be silent when they saw their natural leader.”
“And then someone hit him again.”

Just for fun, I did just grab a book off of the shelf (which happened to be Terry Pratchett’s novel Interesting Times) and opened it to four random pages. I didn’t take the first line that I saw on each of the pages, but they were each from the page that I randomly opened it to. It really does read almost like I remember the church services from my childhood. In this scenario it would likely have been making a point that arrogance brought down the mighty emporor, while the penitent were spared. Hmmm. I like that story. Maybe I should become religious. If I can extrapolate a moral from four random lines in a humorous fantasy novel just imagane what I could do with the power of God behind me…I could be the richest televangelist ever! But I don’t think I would like to rape prepubescent boys, so I guess I am out. Oh well, it was a thought.
That’s about it for today. Tune in next time to see where my convoluted mind takes me.