Okay, deep breath...
So Ted Cruz made a very mild jab at Joe Biden this last week. "Joe Biden... no punch line necessary"
And now has apologized since Joe recently lost his son to brain cancer.
The jab in no way denigrated the son, brain cancer, or Joe's loss. It took aim at a legitimate public figure. (MY first thought when I heard the son died of brain cancer was, "the kid must have inherited that organ from his mother...")
Moreover, Joe himself has NEVER wasted a chance to capitalize on a political opponent's misfortune in his entire political career. This guy is the definition of "creepy old guy," and regularly makes tone deaf remarks along the lines of Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake."
Remember during the post 9/11 scares, when then VP Cheney was at a 'undisclosed location' to protect from terrorists? After the first scare when Joe was Veep, he told a dinner party where the location was. HE ENDANGERED HIS OWN LIFE, along with those assigned to protect him, and forever removed that site from such use. This cost taxpayers millions because Joe had to be the big man at the party. He is just clueless.
This list goes on and on, ranging from the inane to the plain stupid ("[when attacked by an intruder,] get a double barrel shotgun, and shoot both barrels into the air from a balcony" Which disarms the home owner, is illegal in most municipalities, and assumes the EVERYONE HAS A BALCONY to retreat to)
BUT because Biden is a Demo-rat, and we no longer have real journalists in the Main Stream (liberal) Media, Ted must apologize.
Had the remark gone the other way, no apology would have been necessary. No one would have cared that a conservative was smeared, unfair or otherwise.
Monday, June 1, 2015
Everyone know the story of former Speaker Hastert, who was being blackmailed for something in his past that may or may not be a true crime in the state of Illinois.
He is under indictment for... uhm, taking his own money out of his account in amounts our federal overlords do not approve of, and not telling the FBI why when asked. Note that this occurs while the Clinton openly are taking huge bribes while nothing is said.
In fact, this obscure law seems to be invoked as a gotcha today, for when the government want to a) take a citizen's money when no crime has been committed other than making deposits or withdrawals from your own bank account, or b) pursue a political opponent. For examples, google 'civil forfeiture abuse' and read a few stories for option a), and google 'Tom DeLay campaign finance trial' for option b).
What I cannot believe is that no one has played the go-to card of the day. The media is discussing this story based in the context of the Patriot Act expiring, and because he is Republican. No discussions about the blackmailer, or his possible crimes that led to the blackmail. No talk about motives or anything.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
So my daughter got flu this spring. The doctor said that the flu shot is only 23% effective this year in North America. The 'NORTH' part intrigued me.
I research things routinely on the Internet. Last night I read up on what the CDC has on flu strains and how vaccines are created. It turns out that vaccines are regional, based on flu strains expected in that region. So if type A strain H1N1 ("swine flu") is expected in in North America, that will be included in three or four strains included in that vaccine.
The problem is that the predominant strain showed up in late August and September, after production started. This is a H3N7 variant, which can cause more deaths statistically than the ones in the vaccine, 'extra' deaths. Not only that, it suddenly appeared in geographically diverse locations at the same time.
This variant is well know to scientists, and has been tracked for years. In fact, it WAS included in the cocktail for another region... Central and South America. In other words, this deadlier strain was expected this year in that region, but not here.
So how did it get here? In the late August and September time frame?
Who came to this country at that time from that region? The illegal immigrant children! They were then dispersed across the fruited plain by the Administration.
Does this mean that the extra deaths from this flu season can be traced to the politics of the regime?
Or did I just qualify for my tinfoil hat?
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Growing up we did not have lots of ‘extra’ money: we were not starving (dad was a public school teacher in Texas, which is still today not a get rich scheme) and did not consider ourselves poor, but we did not eat out every night, or have expensive electronics like today. I wore Sears Rustler jeans, when Wrangler and Jordache were the style.
My first vehicle was an old 1968 Chevy pick up. This truck was two tone: algae green and rust. Zero to sixty in 50 seconds, if you pushed her. But made of steel and relatively safe for an inexperienced rural driver. I was allowed to sell this truck to get cash for a new(er) used car. I also borrowed most of the money from my grandmother (thanks Mimi!) who did not want interest on her investment.
I bought a 1979 Chevy Chevette 5 speed manual transmission much like the one shown above. This car had literally been used by the proverbial little old lady to go to church on Sunday, and had the scratches on the passenger side door where her lap dog rode. The scratches were there because the dog put its head out the window. Why was the window down? This car did not have an air conditioner. My truck did not have AC either, so I was used to riding with the windows down anyway. This car had the smallest domestic engine to date: a 1.6 liter 4 cylinder. This all meant I would get 35 miles per gallon, though.
I installed a heavy duty stereo system (I could not outrun anyone to the party, but the party started when the music and beer showed up anyway, and I was the music.) and had a very efficient form of transportation that fit my minuscule budget. I also worked every day from before dawn to after sunset to pay that car off between my junior and senior years.
Being a teenager, though, I still lacked the brain cells to avoid many stupid stunts in my new car. While I might be outclassed on the highway by the average soccer mom (I could offer to race the Amish in their horse drawn buggy, but that would be rude), on dirt county roads too much engine was a liability. Like European rode rallies, control is more important than horsepower. In fact, my friends with the horsepower did not need to learn control (they thought) and thus visited the ditches of rural roads regularly, allowing my little modest granny mobile to carry the day.
I learned the roads in our county, planning out the possible race courses in advance. I learned where I could ‘drift’ around a turn to keep my momentum high, and where it was better to slow down instead. I even learned how to manipulate the hand brake, the clutch and gas to spin a 180 degree turn around (a ‘drug runner’s turn’) so that I could meet my opponent on the way back (that always got to them). I am not saying that I won every time, but I should not have won at all given the disparity in vehicles.
This turn involved hard breaking, working the clutch, steering wheel, and hand brake together to make the car spin, then counter spinning the steering wheel and shifting into first while feathering the clutch to move the other direction. Gravel goes everywhere, and you are moving the other way faster than if you used the brakes to stop your suddenly reversed momentum. That point is important later in this story.
Now, the things we did on the roads give the parent in me chills today, and today is a different world where such antics would land you in jail, but in that time and place the local law practiced a ‘no harm done, no foul’ policy as long as they did not see us with other (adult) witnesses. If we took out a fence, we fixed it. Most of my friends were kin to almost every land owner so no one even thought of not owning up to property damage of that sort. (We used to say that our parents would know where we were if we traveled through town on the highway at midnight going 60 miles per hour with the windows rolled up: that was how efficient the gossip network was)
My friends without cars would (of course) ride to parties with those who did. Since I had the least cool ride, I often traveled alone. However, several friends got curious as to how they could see me take the turn ahead, then be coming the other way so quickly. I explained that I did not stop to turn around. So one of them rode with me to see what I did. He was impressed enough to talk it up at the next party.
That was how I got talked into loading five big teenage boys into a car made for three (two front seats and a tiny back seat) to show how this stunt worked. (Did you feel those chills? Parents reading this all just cringed, and childless dead physicists rolled in their graves)
You see, I had not taken several variables into account (those undeveloped brain cells, no doubt). I had never done this stunt with more than one other person and they were always in the front seat. High school physics did not cover the concept of center of gravity, leaving me ignorant of my folly. I had also never done this on a paved road. You see, the skid I was to induce depended on the dirt and gravel under my wheels; oh, it could be done on pavement, but I had never tried before, a little fact which escaped me in the heady high created by peer pressure (never underestimate the stupidity of teen boys in small groups.) I did not have a ‘feel’ for the surface, which is important to timing the required maneuvers.
Let me digress a moment to describe the road we were about to attempt this upon. This was a paved county road, going down a gentle grade into a cross roads. The crossroads widened enough to make such a turn, and was my target area. The cattle fences on each corner of the crossroads were braced at 90 degrees, to support the fence in both directions, and to survive careless drivers who might miss the turn and destroy the fence. These corners were stout: railroad ties with angle iron bracing, sunk deep into the earth by ranchers who wanted to be sure the malefactor did not drive away from a wrecked fence.
So I picked up speed down the hill, being goaded by my friends in the timeless manner of all teens raising a hoorah, and therefore hit the intersection with a bit too much momentum. When I started the skid, I immediately knew I was in trouble. The tires did skid, leaving rubber behind, but the three 180 pound boys in the back seat threw off my control. NOW the fight began. We passed the first 180 and continued into a 360, followed by another 180 degree spin. I managed to regain control enough to stop the spin facing the right, reverse direction, but doing so used up all my cushion, and that fence corner loomed large in my rear-view mirror. I jammed the car into first gear and popped the clutch, causing the transmission and tires to howl in protest as we left the road and crossed the right of way (thankfully there was no ditch) and drifted to a stop with the rear bumper kissing the fence. Rubber smoke was laced with another peculiar smell I had encountered during road racing but never so strong. The car was very quiet (the extra spin scared my passengers) as I attempted to head back up the road. The car kind of leaned forward and refused to move. This identified the new smell: burned clutch plate. No clutch, no motion. I explained to my friends that they were pushing and I was steering back to their cars, and that I needed a tow to Alvin’s shop, our local mechanic.
Not sure what my dad thought about a burned out transmission, but he did not say much: I paid for the repair, and these things had to be replaced every so often anyway, so maybe he figured it was just time. I was out a car for two weeks, since Alvin worked tractors first (he knew who paid his bills with steady work, and it was not a 17 year old with a granny mobile!)
I lost that car on my 18th birthday when I was broadsided by a semi-tractor trailer, but that is another story.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015
As I have written about before, my cousins, brother and I were somewhat unsupervised in rural Texas in the early 1980s. Our parents worked several miles away, and we were watched, in the early years, by teen babysitters who were, shall we say, less than motivated to execute their assigned observational duties in the strictest sense of the term. We frequently wandered the country side to entertain ourselves, with whatever came to hand.
One thing that was ‘at hand’ was our little brothers. These kids were only guilty of wishing to tag along, to join us in our tree house, and bask in the ultimate levels of cool pre-teen older brothers exude in the eyes of younger siblings. And as we became good at giving them the slip, they annoyed the babysitter enough to bring down parental edicts to ‘play with the little kids.’ This is how it came to be that one of our babysitters was labeled with the nick name ‘sandwich.’
Sandra was a typical teen girl, likely 17 or 18 at that time (‘old’ from the viewpoint of 10 and 11 year olds) who stayed with us during the day on summer vacation. My aunt’s house sported a window unit AC in the living room, which usually could drown out a reasonably sized thunderstorm, and thus let us make all the noise we wished. One favorite activity was the awesome tree swing at Jerry’s house, with a rope that went up 20 or 30 feet. Of course, another parental edict was to share a tree swing with the siblings, so we took turns pushing each other on the 20 foot high rope swing. The goal, of course, was to see how high you could go.
One sweltering Texas day in July, Jerry’s little brother Bo refused to give up the swing. After tiring of attempting to reason with someone of obviously diminished mental capacity, Jerry and I thought up a cool twist on the game: we took a one by eight and ‘paddled’ him on each pass of the swing. See, he was standing up in the swing to keep it going (against yet another parental edict; but to be fair, he was not the first to do so) and so presented a great ‘target of opportunity’ on each pass. If he leaned his nether regions out to gain momentum, we got in a swat, never mind that our contact was limited by the fact that our swing had to catch up to him as he went by: he presented no target on the return arc. This was brilliant on our part (so we thought): we got to paddle him unless Bo stopped swinging.
Meanwhile, Bo was caterwauling at the top of his lungs for quasi adult intervention. Did I mention that it was a hot day? That the window unit was blowing like a jet engine, drowning everything from the yard into the house in white noise? That we took that into account in our nefarious plan? So Bo was yelling “Sandraaaaa!” and “OW!” every pass, we were laughing so hard we really could not land a solid blow, and Sandra continued watching ‘The Young and the Restless.’ At one point Jerry got a particularly good hit and Bo yelled for “SANDWICH!!!” which pretty much broke up the party, as none of us could stand up, being helpless on the ground gasping for air.
Anyway, a few years later we were no longer supervised at all (!) and had heard of the concept of Paint Ball. As you can imagine, this captured the imagination of 13 and 14 year old boys: running around the woods, setting ambushes for the enemy, and shooting each other. The problems were a) paintball guns and ammo were very expensive, b) it required safety equipment we did not have, and c) we were broke.
Not to worry: we had baseball catcher’s equipment and BB guns. However, we soon discovered how hot running through the woods in catchers equipment was, so settled on just the BB guns. What could go wrong?
Another problem was lack of arms. Jerry had his pump up BB/Pellet rifle, and I had a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun. Note that I quickly learned to keep my distance from Jerry, as his gun hurt on the rare times he hit. This advantage was negated by the fact that my Red Ryder could shoot much faster (if less powerfully and accurately: it still stung), which precluded a rush attack from Jerry. For all of the ammo we expended, we never did hit each other much.
One exception was at the old cattle tank. A cattle tank, for you urban readers, is what you might call a pond, if a muddy hole in the ground infested with turtles, frogs, snakes, various bugs and random thirsty bovines meets that definition. This particular tank was ‘seeded’ with fish which were hand fed by Jerry’s father, in the futile hope of catching fish one day. Why futile, you ask? You see, one of the wonders of BB guns and glass bottles (everything was in glass bottles those days: mayo to shampoo to ketchup) is that bottles float, and you can sink them with said BB guns. Aluminum cans were harder targets requiring Jerry’s rifle, but they too offered sport. Sometimes almost empty cans or jugs of household chemicals fished out of the trash substituted when glass or soda cans were scarce, having already been sent to a watery grave. My uncle never could figure out why that fishing bit never seemed to take off…
Jerry got peeved at me one day when I did not go along with whatever plan he had just dreamed up (by age 13 I was learning about Jerry’s plans, and the consequences I paid that he somehow escaped) so he took a shot at me with his rifle. He missed and I quickly was on the other side of the tank, which he would not cross (we knew what was on the bottom of that tank, and it was chest deep). So he shot at me across the tank. And the BB went plop into the water by my side of the tank.
Time to digress. Texas boys in those days learned many useful things from their fathers: how to skin a deer, squirrel or dove; not to urinate into the wind; not to talk back to their mother; the finer points of college football; and how to skip a flat stone across a body of somewhat still water. You take a relatively flat rock (think deck of cards or thinner) between the size of a fifty cent piece and the palm of your hand, grip it like you would a hand gun (trigger finger around the curve of the rock) and sidearm throw it at a low trajectory angle to the water. If the angle and power of the throw combined with the spin imparted to the stone just so, the stone would bounce off of the surface of the water, more than once if you were particularly skilled. We had contests to see how many skips a single throw would produce (no smart phones in those days).
So when Jerry’s shot fell short, I realized my lower powered gun would never reach him. Unless I could skip the BB! Surprisingly, this worked better than I could have dreamed. Physics dictated that all my shots were between his ankle and the middle of his calf, but they were bona fide hits. Jerry also had to reload (22 shots to my 600 plus) giving me time to pour it to him. He left the field of battle that day a bit the worse for wear, having worn deck shoes, shorts and no socks on our outing.
My aunt never did figure out where he got all of the tiny bruises, and nowhere but on his lower legs. Much to my delight, she made him go to his room to strip for a health inspection while I almost vibrated off of the couch with suppressed laughter.
Nor did she understand why he wore a long sleeve shirt in the late summer after another such encounter. On an unsupervised weekend (!) Bo insisted on joining the action, and prevailed in his petition with the threat of parental disclosure of the (supposedly unsanctioned, who was gonna ask?) BB gun combat. His terms specified staying in the yard (Bo had learned not to get alone in the woods with Jerry without some means of defense) and equal time to shoot. I observed that Bo did not have a BB gun, which seemed to nullify his argument until Jerry threw me under the bus. Since my Red Ryder shot faster, Bo and I could be on the same team.
NOW I had motivation to shoot Jerry, and a highly motivated ally with which to do so. So we began the stalk. Bo and I had to stay together, which at first limited cover possibilities until we started baiting traps for Jerry. This involved presenting Jerry a target to induce him to revealing his position to the armed comrade. Bo got popped a few times before we abandoned that strategy (you did not think I was gonna be bait, did you?).
Then Bo got a great idea: we could climb up the TV antenna to the roof of the house, and shoot down on Jerry anywhere on the yard, as long as we used the peak of the rook for cover. This violated yet another parental edict, but if you are already doing what you suspect any sane adult would frown on, you might as well chuck all the rules. This worked until Jerry holed up on top of a long unused dog house against the trunk of a large oak tree, where he could punch through the leaves while our lower powered gun could not. We countered with hiding behind the chimney, which gave us an unimpeded shot. We were now well within the ‘ouch’ range of Jerry’s gun (his shots nicked brick dust and shrapnel onto us) until I realized that he had a delay between shots, to pump up his rifle.
At his next shot, I jumped out and nailed him there on the dog house, causing him to take refuge behind the tree trunk. At short range I was a crack shot with my Daisy, and could fire several times in succession. So we traded shots for a while, Bo and I waiting for his shot and him ducking back behind the tree to power up.
Then I made a discovery: the tree was too small to cover his arm while pumping the rifle. Between his shots his arm was briefly visible from the other end of the chimney! So I timed my next shot to his pumping and got him on the elbow from my new vantage point. In the heat of battle Jerry did not think, just adjusted his position so he was covered… and exposed his arm to Bo who had remained in our original position. Bo quickly got the Daisy from me and plinked Jerry from that angle, again around the elbow. This went on for quite some time, as Jerry was convinced he had us pinned while we gleefully nailed his arm once or twice between his shots.
Thus it was that the next day, Jerry insisted on wearing a long sleeve shirt to church (to cover the bruises), telling my aunt he was cold (in 80 degree weather.)
And Jerry got back at me years later by telling my future wife of our exploits as kids, during those unsupervised summers. My kids rarely get to do anything good outdoors.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
I had a thought on how our society has changed. Or perhaps the change is in me?
My grandfather grew up on a farm, using a homemade slingshot during the depression era (in Texas, that era lasted from 1920 to 1945, it seems). They had guns, but could not afford bullets as much. He wandered pretty much where he wanted and no one minded.
My dad grew up around farms and in rural areas, and ran around unsupervised with a .22 rifle. He shot bullfrogs, turtles, and probably anything else he wanted to aim at. We are talking about a pre-10 year old, if I understand the stories right. And it was okay at that time: low population density, lots of space and lingering pioneer attitude, I guess.
I grew up with BB guns. We did not buy pellets very often, and the first BB guns did not fire them anyway. (But my dad did not let me have one myself pre-10 years old: Jerry’s dad did <wink>) We shot anything that moved, and quite a few things that did not. Including each other, when the best gun we had was the Daisy Red Rider spring gun. I’ll get into those stories another time. We also wandered wherever we could walk to.
When my son turned ten, he had never, to my knowledge, fired a sling shot, a BB gun, or a Pellet gun, much less run the countryside with one. (He HAD fired a .22 and various pistols, rifles, and shotguns, but never unsupervised) The only gun we left to his discretion is a water pistol, and not in the house!
Is it me, or have we gotten so protective that some great experiences are now lost? Sure, society is more crowded, and in this era when anyone sues for anything we have to be more careful, but why do I have a vague sense of loss about this, for his sake?
Yes, I was considering giving him a pellet gun for Christmas, but it would be locked away unless he is supervised. It is to teach him proper gun range technique and safe gun handling, not for him to range the woods like I did at his age. Of course, we do not have access to land like I did growing up (not that small matters like property ownership, vicious dogs, barbed wire fences, or armed residents ever slowed my cousins or me down…)
Maybe I simply know what CAN happen now, and that stops me from telling him to run free. I dunno. I just have a vague sense of loss over the whole situation.
Monday, April 13, 2015
from August 28, 2006
I had a really bad day when I commuted 30 miles into San Antonio by motorcycle, and thought I might brighten someone else’s day by sharing it.
Got up this morning early to get a good start on the work day. Helped the wife get the kids dressed, fed, etc. and ready for school.
Oldest child (9) was so tired I gave him caffeine to wake up; the youngest (4) drank most of the Dr. Pepper I gave the oldest.
Yes, sugar and caffeine will wake up a four year old. Getting her off of the ceiling is another matter.
Went out to start the motorcycle: noticed a strange glow from the bike barn.
I left the motorcycle tail light on all night, draining the motorcycle battery. However, the battery is new, so the bike starts. As I warm the bike up, I note that gas is a bit low, but should be more than enough to make town and the gas station.
Three miles from edge of town, traffic is stopped cold due to a short cycling traffic light. (Why do they put traffic lights across US freeways anyway? Isn’t that why God invented overpasses? Oh yeah, TxDOT does not believe in God.) Go into reserve tank while in traffic.
Traffic moves one car length at a time, causing cramps in my clutch hand. I use neutral and coast to massage my clutch hand against my leg. (Motorcycle riders know what I’m talking about)
Half an hour later when I cross the light, I note that I can still make work in time even though I need to stop for gas.
Run out of gas in heavy traffic at 65 miles per hour. You have not LIVED until you navigate a dead motorcycle across three lanes of traffic while coasting. No longer need caffeine to wake up at this point: pure adrenalin, baby. (Note to self: a half hour in traffic will drain motorcycle reserve tank)
Gas station is still a mile away, uphill. Call my boss to ask for help. Boss is stuck in traffic and is bumming a ride in any case; suggests I call my coworker, who we will call Fred as I am sure he does not want to be associated with this story in any way.
Fred goes off looking for a gas can to buy and fill with one gallon of premium (never use anything else in a motorcycle!) gasoline.
Although my bike is four or five feet from the actual traffic, I opt to sit on the concrete barrier that separates the freeway for the access road. The blazing heat from the morning sun is cooled by the steady breeze created by hurling semi-tractor trailers just missing the narrow shoulder I am sitting on.
As I keep watch for any inattentive drivers who might make me hurdle the concrete barrier to avoid bodily injury, I notice that several ants are attempting to climb said barrier. They get so far, and then the wind from a passing truck knocks them back to the bottom of the barrier. They never stop climbing, even though there is nothing at the top of the barrier that could conceivably interest an ant. I try not to ruminate on possible parallels with my work at the office. (Just kidding, boss!)
An hour later, Fred comes walking up the freeway with the gas can. (How can they charge $12 for a 1.5 gallon plastic container?!?). Fred assumed, quite correctly, that it was unsafe to pull a car off of the road where I have been sitting, and so parked up the access road. As we assemble the nozzle to the $12 gas can (I still cannot believe the can cost more than the gas!), I notice the can claims to be spill and leak proof.
The gas can leaks…
…and does not pour out gas when inverted.
After much exclamation, I note that the now gasoline-soaked sticker on the can has a small ‘peel here’ arrow. It won’t peel, of course.
Finally, instructions are revealed under the sticker, along with many warnings of all of the dire things that can happen when you buy a gas can at a convenience store at 7:45 am. Ignoring the warnings (what else can go wrong?) we find out that THIS gas can is for cars only, and you have to perform surgery on the nozzle to seal it to ‘prevent possible leakage.’ So we attempt to follow the directions while any part we happen to set down are blown into traffic by those hurling semi-trucks. We also discover that you have to pull back on the nozzle valve (as if you were inserting the nozzle into a car gas tank) to get the gas flowing. On a more positive note, this 1.5 gallon gas can boasts a ‘two gallon per minute flow rate!’
So I get the now not-leaking can into position and pull back the nozzle valve.
Two gallons per minute into a three inch deep metal hole produces one heck of a splash. I am now covered in gasoline along with my bike, the freeway, and Fred. Fred happened to move my helmet away from the bike just before this (thanks Fred!) so one item I will be wearing does not stink of gas.
The motorcycle still does not have any gas in it. We figure out how to rig the silly thing well enough to fill the bike, and Fred takes the gas can back up the road with my profuse thanks and the cash contents of my wallet to compensate him for the trouble and expense.
I make it to the gas station, where I fill the bike and go inside to clean up. The door to the Men’s room is locked, so I wait. My exposed skin is burning from the gasoline when, 10 minutes later, a lady approaches with a key that says ‘Lady’s room’ and unlocks that door.
I get the key to the Men’s, (strangely enough, attached to an 8 by 10 picture frame) and clean up.
I am now over an hour late for work. I get back on the freeway… and notice that traffic is stopped again. Not wasting any thoughts on the ironic fact that my former squatting spot is now not getting any breeze, I duck off down an exit ramp, and take an alternate route to work.
At work, my boss, who sold me the bike, razzes me about him owning that motorcycle for 13 years and never running out of gas… I refrain from committing homicide by reminding myself that killing your boss will most likely get you fired.
The rest of the day went well, since so many have asked…
Thursday, April 9, 2015
It would seem that certain ‘people of indefinite nationality’ would like to assert that the United States, or large portions thereof, belong to a certain ethnic group, and the Caucasians should leave, or at least shut up. We are just immigrants, they say, and stole the land for the true owners, the ‘native americans.’ These folks want much of the United States to be returned to Mexico (who has done SUCH a good job with what they have already… /sarcasm)
Yes, my great-great-blah blah grandparents came to this country as immigrants, but their children were NATIVE American Citizens. Not native American as in teepees and buffalo hunts, but in terms of citizenship in the United States of America.
If you want to start the game of saying that makes ME an immigrant, we can do that too.
It all just depends on how far back you wish to go…
My family started showing up in the 1600s.
Most Hispanics have European blood from Spain starting back in the 1500s: that makes them immigrants to the entire new world just as I am.
According to the Smithsonian, the ‘Native Americans’ (Incans, Aztecs, Apache, you name ‘em) invaded the new world via land bridge around 7,000 years ago, and were not the first to do so. They were Asian Steppe people (for the most part) following the wild game; those already here (Clovis people, with European skull characteristics) were either destroyed, enslaved, or died out.
The Clovis people arrived as much as 12,000 years ago, and could still be considered immigrants, since man ‘evolved’ in Africa and NOBODY originated in the new world!
Since 99.999% of the Hispanic and Indian inhabitants of the new world have ancestors showing up as recently as 7,000 years ago, they are also 'immigrants by this standard.'
Heck, the Arabs and the Jews are STILL arguing over land disputes from 5,000 years ago: who is an immigrant there?
Back on point: What does it matter if your family arrived in America 400, 600, or 7,000 years ago? We are not talking about ancient history, but about civilized nation states, who sign treaties, make war, conquer, or cede land to each other.
Mexico gave up her rights north of the border when she scrapped the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, telling the INVITED gringo Mexican citizens in Texas that they were no longer citizens and had none of the rights promised them when they moved there. You see, the gringos were asked to settle in Texas, because they would be loyal to Mexico and were industrious. Ads were placed in newspapers along the east coast to bring them in.
Yes, they were lured in, granted citizenship, developed infrastructure and farms, but suddenly must leave or be subject to lawlessness by the Mexican government. That action led directly to the loss of Mexico’s northern provinces (remember the Alamo?), and is binding to this day. The Mexican regime of that time showed a substantial lack of good faith in dealings with other nations, and (like many other nations before and since) paid for their arrogance.
Let’s look at each side of the border today: deserts to the north bloom, highways promote commerce, and the rule of law (mostly) protects the innocent. South of that border? Not so much. Deserts are still arid wastelands. Gangs kill without consequences, many times with the blessing of the corrupt government. Citizens are serfs, and the rule of law is a joke. And groups like La Raza (and how is a group calling itself ‘the race’ not racist?) want to return whole states to that system…
The great Southwest is far better off with the border where it is.
And the ‘norteamericanos’ (aka ‘gringos’) will fight to keep it that way.
Okay, I had to get this one out this morning... too good to sit on.
Normally I write stories offline and paste them here, but this will be the exception.
Living Rural has advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes the advantage can become a disadvantage.
So my father lives in a place so remote that maps show roads that no longer exist. UPS truck drivers get lost, and he does not get mail delivery. When he still had a land line phone, it did not work when it rained.
Well, he broke his one and only toilet. Don't ask, too long a story, just accept that it is unusable. The advantage is that he has plenty of privacy on his 20 acres, so digging a cat hole to do his business is not a problem. Of course, 'number one' does not require more than stepping into his yard, which is really pasture land anyway. The other business, what we will call 'acts of congress' require a stroll away from the house into the woods, where he has pre-positioned little holes for the purpose, as sometimes 'acts of congress' have a sense of urgency, especially when a pot of morning coffee comes calling.
This morning, at just after Oh-Dark-Thirty, congress is 'in session,' so to speak, when a "hissing growl" comes from six feet away under a cedar tree. Needless to say, a motion for a recess was entertained after urgent business was hurriedly concluded. The advantage just became a disadvantage: wild animals tend to leave suburbanites alone.
While the offended animal species remains a mystery, speculation by anonymous sources familiar with the location run from feral house cat, through pissed bobcat, and on up to cougar (mountain lion.)
When congress reconvened an hour later to continue business, certain precautions had been added to the 'legislative routine.'
Dad reports that performing an 'act of congress' while holding a shotgun complicates an already delicate operation.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Every Christmas growing up in Texas we had some traditions that are somewhat rare these days, even here:
· We eat Mexican food (technically Tex-Mex) on Christmas Eve, usually enchiladas (but I think that is just my father’s preference.) I do not know where this came from, but know of many Texans who follow the same tradition. I did find a story on the Web that says this derives from the Mexican tamale making family event called la tamalada, wherein the families caught up, resolved arguments, and aired differences prior to the meal, thus allowing everyone to enjoy the holiday. Tamales are easy to make, easy to store, and are inexpensive for large gatherings. Enchiladas, not so much
· My grand-parents seemed to think Santa owned a citrus grove in south Florida, I think. For some reason, they filled a large portion of our Christmas stocking with oranges. As kids, we thought this was a waste of space that could have been better used for candy, but who was gonna argue with the big man in Red? He had this list, see… Anyway, citrus was sometimes augmented by apples and (gasp!) a banana (now we were talking!) This actually was my first inkling that all was not as it seemed, Santa-wise: I recognized a blemish on an orange that was in the fruit dish the day before, and wondered why Santa gave us our own fruit? I asked Mimi about this fruit fetish not too long ago, and it seems that this comes out of their experiences during the Great Depression, when fruits were a luxury in North Texas farm country, and yet were inexpensive enough that they were available for Christmas. In their childhood, fruit (presumably from The Rio Grande Valley) was a rare treat, and thus fondly remembered. On the other hand, fruit was common in my childhood, and I was less than impressed (sorry, Mimi!)
· Mimi and my mother both made chocolate fudge at different times for Christmas, many involving so-called ‘help’ from the kids. I will admit that my motivation was to the same as making cookies: sneaking (like they did not know) a taste, and eventually getting to lick a beater or the bowl (beaters were a sure deal, but the bowl depended on if Dad was out of the house or perchance taking a nap!) I remember dropping fudge into a cup of cold water to tell if it was done, and I remember scorched batches that no one liked. This could be a disaster of biblical proportions, as we might not have the ingredients for a second batch (and/or the cook might have not been motivated again by that point)
· In later years (the middle eighties) we would all pile into a car and drive around to look at Christmas lights. Sometimes we even drove to remote towns if there was a particularly good (read: bright and colorful) display offered. Family visited and discussed lives in these car rides: there were no cell phones, after all!
· Christmas usually involved hunting at one point or another. This was for the big game: Texas White Tailed Deer. In our family, we were what you might call subsistence hunters: we hunted for food and somewhat less for sport. You see, the total cost of a deer you process yourself might be a single bullet, the way we hunted. You usually hunted for free (although we did have deer leases at times), and waited until you had a sure shot. Many a deer were brought to the table with Grandad’s 300 Savage (Model 99 lever action) and a well-timed and well-aimed single bullet. (I killed two deer at different times last season with that same gun, but took three bullets… must be slipping in my old age!) We would choose our deer carefully, if there was more than one offered, as no one wanted to field dress and process two deer at once. You see, we gutted the deer and divided the meat into quarters. This meat went into ice chests where we kept it cool (draining the bloody water periodically and refilling the ice) to get rid of the wild taste. (You northerners might be wondering why we would put a deer on ice: just consult an online almanac as to average December temperatures in Texas for your explanation) Then we cut the deer up ourselves. Early on this required butcher paper, but Ziploc freezer bags revolutionized the process. Then we ate the meat from the freezer throughout the year
· My wife’s family does the Christmas ‘Tree’ present distribution by handing out all the gifts, with recipients tearing into wrapping as soon as possible, everyone at once. I was always confused by this practice: how do you get to see what everyone got? (I now believe that in the Tex-Deutch German culture the point is that ‘what they got’ is none of your business: if they want to show you what they got they will make a point of it!) Not in our house. We methodically handed out all of the gifts, and everyone waited to begin the unwrapping process. Then we determined who would start, and which direction around the living room we would proceed, one person and one gift at a time. Sometimes the oldest in the room went first, but often this was determined by largest number of gifts (the kids) going first. Then everyone viewed the gift, made appropriate comments and expressed appreciation, all in order. Then the paper was either preserved for future gifting, or (if a child opened the gift) thrown into a 30 gallon garbage bag strategically pre-positioned in the center of the room for the purpose. This process proceeded until the last gift was opened and the last scrap of paper thrown away. Once I had my own kids, this started the annual battery installation activities, as it seems that anything anyone gives a small child requires power. Usually in a type of battery we just ran out of. Many years I raided small appliances, flashlights and garage door openers to keep the peace and quiet required for another Christmas tradition: football on TV
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
The Modified Golden Rule Policy
Got a bee in my bonnet several years ago, and though you might enjoy a little rant… This is not serious, and I did not come NEAR to going after everyone I could have (the GOP should be very afraid). I am SOOOO tired of other countries (and the domestic liars) holding the USA to standards they themselves have no intention of meeting. This is a proposed principle for our laws and dealings with others, shortened to MGRP.
I would like to propose a new policy in our dealings around the world: Let us call it the ‘Modified Golden Rule Policy.’ Under MGRP, the USA will treat others exactly as we are treated. Simple and direct. This policy has the bonus that if the ‘bad actor’ gets caught and convicted, they KNOW that they will get the same as they gave out.
For example, terrorists who are shooting at our troops will be shot at, regardless of where they are hiding, be it a Mosque, Church, Holy Ground, Indian Burial site, or civilian home. If you shoot out the window, we will flatten the building. Hiding your rockets in the local UN school? The UN better find another place to meet. (Wonder how much cooperation ‘innocent’ civilians would be willing to give at that point, knowing that there will be consequences?) Collateral damage? Under MGRP, we will take the same caution as our opponents to prevent any: in this case, none. War is h3ll, get used to it.
Mexico: we put troops, tanks, fences and land mines on the border (like they do their own southern border) and shoot to kill, as they do. We violate their territorial integrity at will in pursuit of criminals (or anyone we feel like, as they do today when guarding drug shipments into the USA), and reduce their foreign aid by $10,000 for every citizen of theirs we catch within our borders (wonder how long it would take for Mexico to guard their own northern border as well?)
Saudi Arabia: All their women must wear bikinis in public when in the USA, and the Koran is prohibited (just being funny on this one)
UN: Percent of annual dues paid will be the same as percentage of votes we win, or maybe the percentage of countries who support our initiatives. They bite the hand that feeds them a bit too often, methinks. Have to think about them a bit more…
Iran: Every rocket launched into Israel equals one conventional bomb dropped randomly in Tehran. Every IED exploded in Iraq equals another bomb in a major Iranian city. Every US soldier killed by state backed terrorists who’s funding comes from Iran equals one cruise missile into a power generating facility. Let them try to refine uranium by donkey treadmill!
North Korea: every nuclear bomb exploded or missile tested means the USA will hunt down and sink one military submarine, ship, or airplane. Every assertion that we are declaring war on them will be met with the sinking or capture of one non-military ship. They have declared war on us, after all…
All two-bit banana republics who rail against the USA (Yes, Hugo Chavez wanna-be, this means you): Foreign aid reduced $10,000 by number of citizens caught illegally in USA, plus by $1,000,000 every time they voted against us in the UN within the past two years. This means Venezuela might actually owe us some refunds…
Closer to home, we might want to try out MGRP on the Main Stream Liberal Media: for every slanted news report they lose one station license for a month. For every op-ed piece they foist on the airwaves as news, they lose a station license permanently. Report the facts and keep your agenda to yourself!
For Elitist Liberals (think Mikey Moore): for every capitalist pig company that they rail against but actually own stock in, loss of the right to live in the USA for one month, going back five years.
For the democrats: for every unfounded accusation, one child loses a government provided school lunch for one day (this one could really cause hunger in America: After all, they accuse the GOP of this anyway). Every time they vote to tax the elderly, or limit Social Security, they lose a like percentage of their own retirement benefits (this one works for all politicians, come to think of it). Every time they break a law, they actually get punished for it (what a concept) instead of merely correcting the fraudulent paperwork once caught (Yes, dirty harry, this means you).
For the Supreme Court: every house taken for private development results in the loss of one house owned by a member of that body for the same purpose… starting with those that voted in favor of that law.
While on the topic of Eminent Domain:
For every politician who votes to take houses from citizens to give to private companies: they are the first to lose their houses at the same percentage of market value to that developer.
For every developer who wants to take land using Eminent Domain: Force them to pay 150% of market value (as determined by the sales in that area just like any real estate transaction) to the owners they would like to steal from. If they cannot make a profit at that rate, do not take the land! Why should the municipality be paying for this property? The developer is the one making the real profits! /soapbox
Smokers: never mind, they are already doing it to themselves
Criminals: Rapists: you guessed it… in whatever orifice they violated or closest by proximity. This would have to follow a below the waist/above the waist rule…Hit and run drivers or DWI: same injuries as their victims, with the same wait for medical services as their victims. Murderers: In Texas, we already ‘do unto,’ we would just use whatever implement the criminal used and cut the appeals process much shorter.
Enron type executives: confiscation of assets (and distribution to the victims), and a life relegated (after prison) to social security.
NSA: public publishing of every phone call, email and text (public and private) back to the day they started collecting ours.
IRS: Loss of taxpayer provided pension for personally targeting someone to persecute; loss of $100,000 in budget for every political target pursued in violation of the law.
Executive Administration: loss of one member in their future protection detail once out of office for every executive order issued to violate the Constitution and/or circumvent the other branches of Government.
Anti-Second Amendment public servants (Senators, Congressmen, Mayors, etc.): loss of the right to have armed guards in a protection detail, since guns are not needed by anyone. Look, if their job was as dangerous as they pretend, all of their armed guards could not protect them from a criminal who is willing to shoot and get caught. Since there is not a long line of dead politicians, it just ain’t so. This is about power and control from socialists who realize they cannot force their ideology on an armed populace.
Militarized Police: loss of one year’s pension for every SWAT like home invasion that is due to either incorrect intelligence (do your homework before the raid!) or simply done to justify the existence of the team, prosecuting non-criminal (civil) offences. A person disputing his property taxes cannot be intimidated by governmental employees with automatic weapons breaking down his door in a free society; it is not free if this occurs. And loss of a month’s pension and a month’s pay for every secured dog shot in its own yard... this is another form of intimidation.
Professional Race Baiters (Al, Jessie, etc…): pay the victim’s (accused) family $1,000,000 every time they whip up a race story in the press, vilifying someone based on the race of the citizens involved, and the jury does not indict or the victim is exonerated in trial because the evidence does not in any way show the accused did anything wrong. This could be called the ‘Wilson’ or ‘Zimmerman’ rule.
I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the idea…
Monday, April 6, 2015
Things are not the same from when I grew up, in rural central Texas circa 1980. Boys were given BB guns almost as soon as they understood which way not to point it, and given free rein to explore the great outdoors. Today this is not possible, since it involved such recently frowned upon things as trespassing, misdemeanor ‘destruction of property,’ vagrancy, and general juvenile delinquency. Many was the day when I would take my trusty dog Poncho, a sack lunch (sandwich, chips in Ziploc bag, apple or orange, bottle of water), a BB gun (and a wonderfully naïve understanding of the Texas jurisprudence system of property law) and spend the afternoon exploring the fields, pastures and woods surrounding my or my cousin’s homes.
You encountered wildlife, not the least of which included the bull in charge of some farmer’s cattle herd who happened to dispute your right of passage, and made their point vigorously (that is why the dog started to go with me: a border collie instinctively works cattle, giving his 10 year old master time to get back to the fence line).
Once, during a drought, the local creek hosted a snake convention at a small spring outlet. Poncho and I watched from a healthy distance as dozens of snakes gathered at the spring to drink. More on snakes in a minute.
Another time, we discovered an armadillo somehow still out in the daylight. That was when I first learned that these slow armored beasts have a defense mechanism (or Poncho learned, anyway): they jump straight up into the air, three to four feet. Given their general bowling ball shape and armored back, anything above them got gob-smacked, and this also can deprive small boys hovering close by of a year’s growth!
Let me digress a bit at this point. Armadillos inhabit from South America through portions of the United States. They are generally inoffensive nocturnal insect eaters (unless they dig up your garden looking for a meal) who will usually try to burrow their way out of trouble. They also can ‘run’ by hopping like a kangaroo for short distances. However, they tire quickly, and if caught away from soft soil, curl into an armored ball. Rolling into an armored ball only will protect you so long against a determined predator, say a hungry coyote. So then the aforementioned defense mechanism comes into play: they mimic a bowling ball and then, when the coyote (or dog, in Poncho’s case) is above them, using their rabbit-like hind legs to jump straight up and into the canine mouth. Most dogs and coyotes (one assumes, given the proliferation of armadillos versus the coyote population: coyotes will eat anything) learn this lesson after the first encounter, similar to how porcupines and skunks have earned canine respect, one dog at a time.
Which digresses once again, into an interesting (and somewhat relevant) study from the Texas A&M University School of Veterinary Medicine, which spent federal tax dollars (Motto: spending your tax dollars to satisfy idle curiosity) to discover why so many armadillos die when hit by cars. Seems someone noticed that armadillos died dis-proportionally on Texas roadways compared to other small animals, like squirrels. They determined that (and I am not making this up) armadillos die more often on bright, sunny days than in cloudy or night time conditions. (Do not ask me how they determined that one: I imagine scenes where college graduate students traverse country roads counting and tagging dead animal bodies…)
They discovered that armadillos are conditioned to hunker down into a ball when surprised instead of running, as a squirrel would. Then, the defense mechanism of jumping into the predator’s face is triggered by sensing said predator hovering over the armadillo’s back.
Armadillos are not terribly bright (don’t need much brains to dig up grubs) and are very near sighted (almost blind in direct daylight). Thus the reaction to a car passing overhead causes that unfortunate jump into the undercarriage of the speeding vehicle, with results not unlike that of a football off the toe of a collegiate kicker on Saturday afternoon. Scratch one armadillo.
Anyway, my ‘cousin’ Jerry owned a Daisy Red Rider BB gun when we moved into the area. These can still be had today, where politics and population pressure still allow. Back then, they were famous for rapid fire (Lever Action! said the butt stock), spring loaded low power (thus safer for 10 year olds) and an enormous capacity (over 600 BBs). These spring loaded rifles represented the pinnacle in pre-teen arms races, trumping sling shots, homemade bow and arrows, and plain old thrown rocks. The muzzle velocity was so low, you could see the BB leave the barrel (but the same can be said of the model 1911 Colt 45 as well… just sayin’).
A year later, Jerry graduated to an air powered pump rifle (shoots pellets or BBs! on the box). This only held 22 BBs (or a single pellet) and required 10 to 20 strokes to pressurize the chamber for each shot. But that shot was several times more powerful than the Daisy. Jerry could knock a wasp nest down with it, whereas the Daisy only ticked the little beggars off. (This, we discovered, was not a good strategy: shooting a wasp nest with anything short of a shotgun will get you your exercise… running away from angered insects. Yes, the shotgun comment is from life experience several years down the line. Poison is preferred… or gasoline)
So Jerry got the new rifle and I got the Daisy when we went exploring. I actually did not mind, as given how inaccurate both guns were, I preferred volume of fire to power of shot. One day in early spring (cool enough for jackets in the mornings) we were out and about, running from the Bad Guys (imaginary) across a cow pasture which was bisected by a very small stream. As we reached the muddy cow crossing, I was in the lead when I looked down and saw a SNAKE (!) stretched across a patch of sunshine in my path. I levitated over the snake, and warned Jerry to stop. He took an alternate route around the offending reptile, and it occurred to us that here was a sanctioned Bad Guy that adults would not object to killing.
So I started popping BBs at the snake (who was only trying to soak up enough sunshine to get his day started, like an office worker at Starbucks). Now, this was a three and a half foot long snake that was moving very slowly due to the ambient chill, so he did not escape very fast. In fact, he ignored my Daisy shots (when they hit) until Jerry got a good shot in with his rifle. THAT got the snakes attention, who turned on us and opened its mouth to threaten us.
This produced several realizations at once: that the snake was too slow in the cool air to chase us; that it had an extremely bright white mouth; and that this mouth was a target when opened. Thus, Jerry would pop the snake (doing no damage externally) and when the snake hissed at us, I would pump BBs down its throat, past those very large fangs.
Did I note that this snake had a peculiar trait we had not seen before, in our previous encounters with garden snakes, chicken snakes, and so on? The head was like a triangle. Yes, you guessed it: we were fighting a water moccasin. God protects drunks and ignorant little boys: we messed with that snake for a good 20 minutes until it finally got away, and in that time its white mouth was bloody with BB hits. (It was several years later before I realized what we had fought!)
And I always wondered if the hundred or so BBs I put down its throat killed it, or did it leave BBs mixed with snake poo everywhere it went for weeks after?