Archive for July, 2009

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at this…

July 28, 2009

…but still, I find it rather disheartening (emphasis mine — ed.):

Many Republicans point to Sotomayor’s stance on gun rights as a key reason they’re voting against her. They complain that she refused to weigh in during her confirmation hearings on whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to states as well as the federal government, a question on which the high court has yet to rule. Sotomayor was part of an appeals court panel that said this year that the amendment doesn’t restrict state laws, citing previous Supreme Court precedent.
The National Rifle Association, which was slow to announce its opposition to Sotomayor and initially hung back from threatening senators against voting for her, announced last week that it would “score” her confirmation vote, calling her “hostile” to the Second Amendment. That means the NRA will include the vote on Sotomayor in its annual candidate ratings, which heavily influence voters in key battleground states.
Republicans and Democrats from conservative-leaning states generally fear bucking the NRA, and strategists speculate that the group’s opposition has tipped the balance for some GOP senators who might otherwise have considered supporting Sotomayor. No Democrat has announced plans to vote no.
A group of Hispanic House Democrats wrote to NRA leaders Monday urging the group to reconsider its stance, saying it was putting some senators in an untenable position by forcing them to choose between defying the gun lobby and infuriating Hispanic constituents.

Wow. The NRA is actually going to grade senators this time around based on their votes for an anti-gun Supreme Court pick, and these Hispanic House Dems are asking them not to do that — not based on her actual position, but on her race. And you know that’s exactly the reason for this when you cut through the crap. Sotomayor shouldn’t get a pass on her positions any more than a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male would, and these Hispanic lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves for basically telling the NRA that she should. It just goes to show, I guess, that certain members of other racial groups don’t really mind discrimination if it works for them as opposed to against them. Like I say, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it’s still rather disgusting.


Texas Democratic Candidate for Senate Calls Out Houston Mayor…

July 27, 2009

for supporting Mike Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Guns:

(AUSTIN) — United States Senate candidate John Sharp today called on opponent Bill White to immediately denounce his position in a national anti-gun coalition founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saying that the Houston Mayor’s continued membership in the group is a threat to the rights of law-abiding Texans to own guns.
“Mr. White’s war on guns is already making it impossible for him to be elected statewide in Texas,” Sharp said. “He should immediately disassociate himself from this anti-gun group so he doesn’t also hurt the chances of other Democrats running for public office.”
Sharp said a measure in the U.S. Senate last week that would have allowed legal gun owners with valid permits to carry concealed weapons from one state to another failed by just two votes after fierce opposition from the group, known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Maybe it is just a political move, but it’s still good to see. I hope if Sharp gets elected he sticks to his guns, so to speak.

In which I sing the praises of social networking sites

July 27, 2009

You might remember me ruminating on the use of a certain social-networking site not long ago in this space. But as you’ll see, I don’t think all of those type sites are for, as I referred to them, narcissistic blowhards.
I set up a MySpace account not long ago, and I’ve had a Facebook account for close to 4 years now. Well, late last week on Facebook I reconnected with an old teacher whose act of kindness when I was in about the third grade stuck with me all through the years. I was in the first few days at a new school, alone and quite bashful. I remember she was watching me those days, and she eventually called me over, asked me my name, introduced herself and talked to me. I don’t remember what all was said (remember now, this was a good 20-plus years ago), but that stuck with me. I remembered she left the school not long after that, and I remember I hated that because she was so nice to me. Every so often between then and now I’d wonder whatever became of her. When I saw her picture on Facebook I thought, “I’d recognize that face anywhere.” So I contacted her and wonder of wonders, she did remember me, and those days at the new school. I thought that was amazing.
And just yesterday, on MySpace, I reconnected with an old friend from the hometown that I hadn’t spoken with in almost three years, and hadn’t seen for longer than that. She actually said she still spoke of me often and wondered whatever became of me. It made me feel really good to know that, especially with all the crap that’s been going on here in the last few months. I needed it. So yeah, those social networking sites do have a use…though I still don’t get Twitter, with its obvious limitations.

You knew it would be ‘for teh childrenses’…

July 27, 2009

…but still…

Police will be allowed to order blood drawn from a person suspected of driving while intoxicated without judicial review under certain circumstances, including instances in which the suspect is a repeat offender, a passenger died or in which a child under 15 was a passenger in the vehicle.

…isn’t this sort of thing blatantly unconstitutional? See the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I am not usually sympathetic to what a defense attorney has to say, but Doug Murphy is exactly right when he says that if you put too much power in one agency it will run amok. (see: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)
And of course the prosecutor would cite public safety as the overriding concern here. One wonders what other parts of the Bill of Rights he would suspend in the name of that. The Second Amendment immediately comes to mind, especially considering that certain other cities have done just that. And then I’m sure the Fifth Amendment has caused him all sorts of trouble too.
Then there’s the law prof’s mention that the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that this sort of thing is hunky-dory. Tell me again, the value of following the stare decisis doctrine…?

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More illegal drug-related death…

July 27, 2009

in Austin:

AUSTIN — A 19-year-old accused marijuana dealer told Austin police that he fatally shot a young couple from Houston in their condominium near the University of Texas last week to avoid paying the male victim thousands of dollars in drug money.
Police charged James Richard “Ricky” Thompson, from the Austin area, with two counts of capital murder in the July 21 shooting deaths of Stacy Marie Barnett, 22, and John Forest Goosey, 21, a young Houston couple that had just earned degrees from UT.

But remember, friends, it’s better that popular mind-altering substances less dangerous than alcohol remain illegal, because, well, drugs’r’bad, hmkayy?
I really do wonder though, how many people look at this and blame the “easy availability of guns” as opposed to the insane drug laws in place in this country today. That couple might well have still have gotten shot, but it does deserve to be pointed out that if weed was legal and the guy who shot the couple had worked in a legit distribution channel he’d have had some form of legal recourse. I don’t mean for that to sound as though I would justify his actions, though. For what he did he deserves to die and it’s just that simple to me. But I don’t see anything wrong with pointing out the circumstances, how they didn’t have to be the way they were, and that they’re only this way because our elected officials are either ignorant, a bunch of chickenshits, or both.

Ted, you’re my hero, dude…

July 27, 2009

…because of comments like this:

I’m not at all surprised that B. Woodman is doing better with his 2 year Electronics degree than someone who went to Wellesley for a 4 year Medieval Lit degree.

I’m discussing with the Mrs. sending them to Vo-tech, and spotting them the difference in education cost to start their own business. Not sure if this is what we’ll do, but it looks like the big universities are very near pulling every penny in future added salary out of their students. Not bad for a bunch of Marxists who all hate capitalism …

and this:

I’m happy to explain it to the European Union “President”:

Unlike the EU, we have an actual government, which is actually elected by the people. Since the people think that scum like these should not be around to be released from prison by a bunch of noblesse-oblige bureaucrats, we still use the – very popular – death penalty.

The scandal in the USA is that only 1000 of these animals have met justice.

The scandal in the EU is that unelected bureaucrats feel free to flout the very popular death penalty. Since the phony EU government is unelected in any meaningful way, the people in the EU get shafted. That’s the scandal there.

And since the EU “president” is president of a phony government with about as much legitimacy as the local Kiwanis, we’ll give his statement precisely as much attention as it deserves.

Apologies to the Kiwanis who, unlike the EU, actually do some good in the world.

No need to thank me, I was happy to help.

If you did not have a blog, friend, I’d hound you till you started one…LOLOL

A harbinger of things to come, maybe…

July 26, 2009

…in colleges and universities across the nation

A record number of Houston ISD students are now classified as “gifted and talented” — an increase spurred by changes in how the school district tests and enrolls children in so-called Vanguard programs.

Some parents said this recent round of changes has watered down the Vanguard program. The district’s brightest children are opting for private school because they aren’t given seats in HISD’s top programs or they don’t find the classes rigorous enough.
In this era of standardized testing, many school districts have struggled to serve gifted children, Courtright said.
“Most teachers have given up some of their most creative activities and learning experiences because they’re focused on doing the drills to prepare students for the test,” Courtright said. “They know what they would like to do, but they can’t take the risk of the children not performing well on the test.”

Wouldn’t they call this sort of thing “creative accounting” if it was done with money instead of kids? Hell, maybe even “Enron-style accounting” if the company in question failed big enough. I wonder if this is how they’re going to try to get more kids in college too. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least — but a worthy question, again, is how many of those kids would be better off learning a trade. That may be where their true talents lie, and with programs that work like this those talents won’t be nurtured and who knows what’s going to happen? It’ll be interesting to see what the college dropout rate looks like as the education changes get rolling on the state and federal level.

(Full disclosure time: I am by no means saying trade schools are for dummies — far from it. Hell, you can look at some of the skills required for welders, plumbers, pipefitters and the like and it’s quite obvious they all require a great modicum of intelligence and common sense. And you know what else? I have a college degree and with some of the salaries some of these trades pay I wish I had gone the trade school route because what I do doesn’t pay shit. And if you’ll remember, reader K.D. had this to say just yesterday:
“Those of us in the ‘trenches’ encourage our kids to get training after high school and many times, I suggest schools such as the electrical lineman school or the truck driving school at LIT. These kids now make more than I do, and I hold a master’s.”
That pretty much speaks for itself. Now, back to your regularly scheduled rant…)

And as far as the Houston program is concerned it would be fun to find out what college administrators who read this story will be thinking when they come upon an app from a student who graduated from this program….
…i.e., “This kid graduated from a gifted-and-talented program that administrators changed from the traditional method just to get more people in it to eliminate certain discrepancies whose only relevance was sociopolitical, not necessarily just because that traditional method wasn’t working. They eliminated preferential admission for top-scoring gifted students, and we have parents here transferring their kids out of the program because they didn’t feel the classes were demanding enough anymore after those changes were made.”
I hate to call it “affirmative action,” because that says something blatantly unfair and untrue about the kids who didn’t make it in before. But this sort of thing just reeks of affirmative action’s very worst stereotype. I could be way the hell off base, but it just doesn’t seem to me that they’re doing the GT program or the kids any favors. Again, I don’t mean to say the kids that didn’t make it in before the changes were made were stupid. They’re just likely smart in ways the traditional GT curriculum wasn’t meant to nurture, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. I don’t understand why Houston ISD administrators couldn’t have found a better way to serve those kids.

Yet another lesson, maybe…

July 25, 2009

I find myself watching NCIS yet again, the episode in which Special Agent Caitlin Todd meets her demise at the hands of a sniper — using a bolt-action .308 Winchester, perhaps not one that much different than Grandpa’s old deer rifle the gun-control advocates say they don’t want to take away. And, of course, said sniper has the shit scared out of everyone in the agency as he’s stalking them. Jim Zumbo, way back when, said, “an assault rifle is a terrifying thing.” How terrifying is it, though, to be stalked by someone who can put lead between your eyes from 300-plus yards away? And were such a campaign undertaken in the wake of some confiscation scheme, how long would it take for the, shall we say, more tame gun-control groups to start demanding their confiscation too?

Random hits from being out ‘n’ about….

July 25, 2009

When you’re wondering why you don’t have frigid air coming out of your truck’s A/C vent, it helps to check the temp control — and even more to flip it all the way to cold.
I hadn’t been to Chick-Fil-A in years before today. It was expensive for fast food, but really good. I could get used to those waffle fries.
I saw something today I didn’t expect to see. I’m sure you all know the stereotype of the Mac user, right? Tree-hugging pinkos and the like? Well, I went to one of the authorized Apple service providers in Beaumont today, to inquire about a new battery for my MacBook. I pulled up beside a Toyota truck, and it had an Apple decal in one corner of the back window…and an NRA sticker in the other corner. That was something I never thought I’d see. I bet the driver and I would get along well if we ever met. 😉

"My intentions are true, won’t you take me with you…"

July 25, 2009

“…and baby, you can sleep while I drive…”
I remember that Melissa Etheridge song being a very minor hit for Trisha Yearwood about 14 years ago. Well, I say minor hit…I think the only place I heard it was on Country Music Television when they played the video. And I just heard the original on Sirius. Not bad at all, but I still like the Trisha Yearwood version better.