Do de doooo…

Last night was Ethan’s 4th Birthday Bash. There was one helluva turn out – Ethan is loved. 🙂 The boy got some amazing presents, including a Wii from Papa Chuck, UP from Samantha and, my favorite (because I got it for him) an Erector set which I expect to be building from with him every week for a while.

The night prior, Sam, my mom, Ethan and I all went to the Red Wings game. It was Ethan and Sam’s first, so that was extra cool. We lost in OT, for no good reason, but it was still an awesome game.

Otherwise, my life is still filled with homework. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a “caught up” time before the end of the semester. Next semester I need to pre-load as much of my work as I can as early as possible so that I’m not feeling like I have to scramble come the end of the semester. But, my work ethic has gone up the last couple of weeks (thanks to a patient and understanding girlfriend) and hopefully I can skate through the flames of this semester unsinged.

So much to do, so little sanity!

I’m trying desperately to organize the things in my life that must be accomplished. My delightful girlfriend feels that I compartmentalize my life too greatly, but I’m not sure if that’s the case. Either way, something needs to be fixed.

None of my classes this year have a typical final exam. All of them are project-based, and I need to start working on them now (or last week, better yet). This on top of the assignments that are still due the rest of the semester: final essay for creative nonfiction (along with my oral presentation due next week which I have not started), oral history transcript for HST (plus the first 2 of 3 parts of our final I can begin writing, which I also have not done), a boatload of smaller assignments for business writing, a couple of photographic projects (plus two extra credit assignments I would be remiss to pass on). All of this plus Ethan time, Samantha time, life time. And some fun time… I’ve found that sneaking in 10-15 minutes of Xbox now and then actually improves my ability to study. So that’s a true winner in my book.

Besides these items, I feel like something is amiss. Nothing major, mind you, but something that I would like to hunt down and squash. Maybe it’ll turn out to be a snipe hunt after all is said and done, but I hope not.

Studying + Facebook + chatting with Sam + Xbox + music = hectic but productive. *sigh*

Ahhh, kids!

Of course, most parents hold this same sentiment, but mine are truly the best.

Ethan, a soon-to-be four year old, is a constant source of amazement and wonder. Smart as a whip (and going into Kindergarten a year early), spunky as all get out, hilarious, sweet and adorable. If he asks me for a sister again, I may have to sew his mouth shut, but otherwise, he’s just a gem!

Brett is now 43, or so it feels like. My god I’m old! He’s also sweet and smart and wonderful. Any teenage boy that still offers an unsolicited “I love you” now and then is certainly worth keeping around. Plus he’s an excellent partner for Xbox gaming. I couldn’t be happier!

*sigh* I love my boys!

Life…

…it just keeps going. Sometimes I feel like the attendant of this particular roller coaster forgot to verify that my safety bar was firmly in my lap. As I sway about on each turn, swerve or loop-de-loop, I curse him for his incompetence. School, work (well, not so much right now), friends, family, life, liberty, pursuit of… hmmm.

It is safe to say that this semester in school has been revitalizing. I’ve had a few downs (my history class may very well be my undoing, GPA-wise), but overall my classes are amazing, my profs are great, and my newly found school spirit has led me to become the Vice President of two student organizations: The Student Veterans of Oakland University and The Writing and Rhetoric Club. Oh, and I also was admitted to the Honors College. It think this will all be dandy, but if I don’t post again by 2011, these items may be the cause of my demise. Please email me to make sure I’m okay?! (And yes, I’m aware that I should have written “I was also admitted”, keeping my subject and verb together. But I’m a writing and rhetoric rebel!)

My currently state of joblessness is uplifting, more than perhaps it should be. Living on unemployment checks and GI Bill money has a certain socialistic flair I’m not particularly fond of. But hey, as far as I’m concered it’s all money that I’ve earned, especially the latter part. It can’t last forever, but it’s a wave I’m fully willing to commit to riding for the next few months.

2009 has been, on all accounts, quite a year — and it ain’t over yet! I’m counting on a victory for the home team (that’s me), but an upset isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

Eerie Similarities Found Between School Shooters, Youth Violence

On January 29th, 2009, Erik Salvador Ayala allegedly shot nine people outside of a nightclub called The Zone. It was noted in many news stories that Ayala was an avid video game player.

In February 2008, Stephen Kazmierczak shot students at North Illinois University. He allegedly trained by playing Counter-Strike, a violent “First Person Shooter” that many young people play.

In April 2007, Seung-Hui Cho opened fire on the unsuspecting students at Virginia Tech and again it was noted that he played violent video games, possibly including Counter-Strike.

With these horrible similarities in mind, the greatest minds at the West Winds Think Tank Institute decided it was time to delve more deeply into these and many other violent scenarios plaguing the youth of America. Video games have often been blamed for creating violent young monsters intent on causing death and destruction.

“We wanted to find the correlation to video games between many of these cases. We began looking at similar cases globally and putting the pieces together,” said Dr. James K. Tiberius, head of the institute. “The closer we looked, the more frightened we became of the data we collected.”

Beginning on New Year’s Day 2009 the team, which included experts across many disciplines, began to tear apart each situation and compare every aspect with one another. The data, compiled into a custom-designed computer system started the automated process of determining similarities.

“Almost immediately, the computer began churning out impressive data about each case, each shooter, each situation,” remarked Dr. Horatio L. McCoy, Director of Medicine and Physiosocial Sciences at the institute. “James and I were flabbergasted at the results.”

“We started adding information from other violent events, and the data continued to come back with the same answers,” said Tiberius of the continued weeks of research. “We can undoubtedly say that each individual had a common thread, a common background item, even when we entered information from other events.”

The common item in question? Oxygen. Oxygen, called ‘air’ on the streets, is a highly addictive gas that can be inhaled in a variety of ways. Each shooter was found to have ‘air’ in their lungs during medical testing. ‘Air’ has also been found in the lungs of autopsied suicide bombers from Al-Quida and is expected to have been present in the lungs, blood and tissue of Former President George W. Bush during the time he ordered the United States military to action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It would seem that oxygen is present in each of these situation, and appears to correlate to a high level of violence in individuals under its influence,” said McCoy after continued research.

Other less likely, but potentially serious risk factors include ‘food’ and ‘water’. In the case of the latter, parents should be warned that their children may be able to purchase water, bottled and in a relatively pure form, over the counter across the nation.

“We believe the FDA needs to step in and evaluate the safety of food and water before it is too late,” said Pavel Chekhov, an intern at the institute.

This marks the beginning of another round of critical investigation into the recent outbreak of violence around the globe. With further research, the men and women at West Winds hope to find a cure for the afflicted and possibly prescribe warning signs for parents. Things to watch for and be wary of to prevent oxygen, food or water from becoming a problem for their children.

Constitution and Popular Consent

So, here is the article (or read in full after the break).

The argument the Republicans have is valid. Article 1, Section 6 of the US Constitution states the following:

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time.

When President Bush signed an executive order increasing certain Cabinet salaries, Hillary Clinton became ineligible since she was in office when the raise took effect. Other political commentators point to exceptions that have been made in the past where Congress reduced that positions salary to its original amount or where the appointee took the lower salary, sidestepping this issue.

At hand are two issues, in my opinion. First, can Constitutional Law be sidestepped? Second, when does popular opinion override the Constitution?

In the case of the former, I believe that you can view it both ways. If you are going to say that, to the letter of the law the Constitution must be upheld, then you are shooting everyone in the foot based on precedent, including judgments made in the past by the US Supreme Court. This could also be argued to foil amendments in the future if such an argument were to stick. Conversely, by allowing it, you open a can of worms that could lead to abuse. Personally, I’m still on the fence regarding this aspect of the argument.

In the latter issue, I believe wholeheartedly that YES, the American people should be allowed (by popular vote) to override Constitutional issues. If we are to truly be a Democratic society (which we admittedly are not… Democratic Republic is not quite the same) then the people’s voice must be heard on ALL issues pertaining to the nation. Of course this brings up issues of when a vote can take place, how it would take place and how secure the methods of voting were. Regardless, I think taking issues such as this directly to the people at large is the absolute best possible option.

Any thoughts?

Continue reading “Constitution and Popular Consent”

Blind Faith Justice is Worse Than Blind Justice

As usual, I will start with a news article. *LINK*

KTVU.com

Suspect, Mother Killed In Home Invasion Robbery

POSTED: 12:36 pm PST November 25, 2008
UPDATED: 7:37 am PST November 26, 2008

SAN MATEO, Calif. — A gunman shot and killed 24-year-old Loan Kim Nguyen as she lifted her young children to safety through a window Tuesday morning during a failed home invasion robbery attempt. The gunman was then killed in an ensuing gun battle with responding SWAT officers, according to authorities.

San Mateo police said they received a call from a man at about 9:40 a.m. about an armed robbery underway at a home on Hobart Avenue near South El Camino Real. The caller told police his wife and children — aged 1 and 3 — were in the house and had barricaded themselves in a bedroom, police Deputy Chief Mike Callagy said. The man wasn’t home at the time, but had received a text message from his wife about the invader, according to officers.

Officers arrived at the scene and set up a perimeter around the house. The male suspect was observed inside the residence with a handgun, according to officers. After a shot was heard fired inside the home, a Special Weapons and Tactics team was summoned. Hostage negotiators were also brought in to attempt contact with the suspect in an effort to get him to surrender, Callagy said.

SWAT officers surrounded the house and were able to get in telephone contact with Nguyen. She reported that the suspect was trying to gain entry into the bedroom where she was barricaded with her children and that she wanted to lower the children out of the bedroom window so officers could get them to safety.

At an early evening press conference to address the incident, San Mateo Police Chief Manheimer said Nguyen was struck as she was lowering her children to officers standing on a van in the driveway of the home when the suspect began firing blindly through the walls of the bedroom.

She said police returned fire as one child was safely taken away. Nguyen handed the second child to an officer before crumpling to floor of the bedroom, Manheimer said.

She was taken to Stanford Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The children were not harmed.

“The victim in this case is nothing short of a hero for saving the lives of her two small children from the crazed gunman,” Manheimer said.

She said it’s not clear yet who fired the bullets that killed Nguyen or the suspected intruder. But she said police were not shooting when Nguyen was hit.

San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said investigators will perform a ballistics comparison to try to answer that question. It is also unclear how the suspect died. Manheimer said suicide has not been ruled out.

The children were uninjured in the incident and Manheimer commended the officers “who at great risk to their own safety and also under fire” saved them.

She said one officer jumped off the top of the van holding one of the children after the suspect began shooting. She said some officers may have suffered minor injuries but nothing serious.

Police are still investigating whether the suspect knew the victim or her family. A car was towed from across the street that Manheimer say may be related.

In addition to the criminal investigation by the San Mateo Police Department, the department will conduct an internal investigation into the officers’ actions. The District Attorney’s Office will also investigate that aspect.

Manheimer said there were several points at which gunfire was exchanged but that the details are still unclear. Officers from eight agencies responded.

Larry Schieser, a real estate agent who works at the nearby Prudential California Realty, said he was having a normal morning at work around 9 a.m. when he saw a couple of police cars.

A steady stream of patrol cars then followed, and a SWAT team arrived.

He said he then heard numerous gunshots.

“Once the shots were fired it became very quiet in our office, surreal almost,” he said. “We realized something serious was taking place.”

He said he and his coworkers were told to stay inside the office while police investigated.

The home where the shooting happened is across the street from a Montessori preschool called Bright Beginnings Toddler.

Jerry Adan, who answered the phone at the school, said staff members Tuesday afternoon were focused on making sure their preschoolers were OK.

Copyright 2008 by KTVU.com and Bay City News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

First of all, that mother is truly a hero. Frankly, I believe that it’s a parents duty to protect their children, but so few parents are any good at it these days that a woman like that truly does deserve praise, may she rest in peace. Her children are very lucky to have had her and damned well better honor her memory down the road.

Now, on to the issue at hand. Getting a bullet to the skull is not a horrible enough fate for people like this. Cases of this nature lead me to sometimes wish we did not have the no cruel or unusual punishment clause in our justice system. I understand that clauses benefits, but my problem is this: If there is no god, no afterlife, no heaven and hell, this person did not receive what justice was meant for him.

Therefore, in cases like this, where there is 100% proven guilt witnessed by many, this clause should be sidestepped. If the shooter was captured alive he should go to prison and have a SodomBotâ„¢ as a roommate. If it was a sexually related violent act, he should get two of them. If it was against a woman or a child, he should get four. These should be his lifelong pals. Sort of a manmade version of Dante’s Inferno.

Additionally, I think more people should believe in vigilantism. The power of mobs is an amazing deterrent.

Hilarity in Drug Education

First of all, read the article below or at this link

A User’s Guide to Speed brochure available to teens at anti-drug program in Toronto

By Bruce McDougall

The Daily Telegraph

November 24, 2008 01:46am

Controversy … a brochure displayed to up to 100 Year 8 students at a community information day contains “tips to avoid getting bad speed”.

* Drug brochure available to teens
* It advises users to get a good dealer
* Anti-drug advocates outraged

TEENAGE school students have been given access to a controversial brochure called A User’s Guide to Speed while attending a NSW Government-promoted anti-drug and alcohol program.

The 35-page booklet, included among drugs literature displayed to up to 100 Year 8 students and parents during a community information day, contains a section on “tips to avoid getting bad speed”.

In it, teenage readers are told: “If you don’t already have a reliable dealer, try to find one and stick with them.

“When you’re using a new batch, only try a little at first … you can always use the rest later if you need to.”

The booklet’s availability during workshops at the Toronto Courthouse near Newcastle – along with another on “Choosing to use” that was ordered to be pulped in June by former Health Minister Reba Meagher – has outraged anti-drugs campaigners.

Produced by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, the user’s guide tells teens amphetamine-related speed can suppress appetite and help in weight loss.

Users are urged to take breaks from using speed, allow time to “come down” so it doesn’t interfere with work or study and to carry the phone number of a legal aid solicitor with them.

One of the authors, drugs educator Paul Dillon, said yesterday the brochure’s presence at the community day was an “unfortunate mistake”.

Mr Dillon said the resource, produced to help amphetamine users cut down or quit the habit, was inappropriate for 14 and 15-year-old high school students.

“You have got to be very careful about the message you are delivering to young people,” he said.

Mr Dillon, who had no involvement in the community day, said the booklet probably was among a selection of material provided by an agency asked to exhibit.

In promoting the community day Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said high school students would learn about the damaging effects of alcohol and other drugs.

Last night a spokesman for Mr Hatzistergos said the Government did not condone the use of illegal drugs.

“The Attorney-General’s Department is looking into if, how and why this brochure turned up at a court open day,” he said.

No Way campaigner Darren Marton, one of the guest speakers at the education event, said the material should never have been seen by teenagers.

“Those who ran the community day are at no fault in this – it is material produced from harm minimisation (advocates) and put there by others,” he said.

“One lady who was helping out on the day was physically shaken and had to go outside in tears after reading the brochure.”

Opposition education spokesman Andrew Stoner said a drugs guide was the last thing parents and their children needed.

“Students would be better served being in the classroom rather than at a workshop on drugs,” Mr Stoner said yesterday.

Okay, so first… that is hilarious. I’m sure plenty of people think it is horrible, but I’m just tickled at the whole idea behind this. I mean, I doubt any of the students had never heard of speed before. Now they can use it safely. LOL… so awesome.

Also, added points for having a drug opposition spokesman named Mr. Stoner. w00t!

*THIS* is Why I Hate Americans Much of the Time

First, in case you don’t actually know me, let me say that I love America. I love my country. I’ve fought for my country. I vote! I love America. But lately, I’m not terribly fond of Americans. Political correctness, racial oversensitivity and the feeling that America must repent for its ways are no longer amusing anecdotes, but troublesome realities. Take for instance this article.

The basics of the story are as follows. A student at a high school in Florida was suspended for ten days because he showed off a knotted rope. Okay, I’ll bite. Apparently it was tied in a slip knot and potentially could have been a noose. While school officials stated that there are no racial tensions, they also mention another incident where police were called in because students were cheering the Obama win. Paranoid much? I’m pretty sure I learned how to tie a hangman’s noose when I was maybe ten years old. Boy Scouts didn’t fool around. You needed to know a LOT of knots. But I’d like to call into question the following items… Was it a rope, or a “rope”? Was it a hangman’s noose knot or a simple slip knot? Was he forming a noose, or a simple loop with a slip knot? Was he talking about hanging someone, harming someone or otherwise being racially or physically harmful to anyone? So far the answer appears to be “no” to the latter, so WTF is the big deal?

The quotes from the NAACP rep that was interviewed for the news item are priceless. I shall put them here:

For many, the display of a noose is symbolic of earlier times in the nation’s history when blacks were hanged and mutilated by mobs or hooded Ku Klux Klansmen across the South. Charles Favors, president of the South Brevard NAACP, said the school district must remain firm in meting out punishment in the case.

“It’s very serious. We lost so many lives behind the noose,” Favors said.

“It could start something that could get out of control. The real factor now should be that any disregard of race must be met with consequences,” Favors said.

God help us if a black man sees a white man docking his boat. The poor boater might go to jail. Seriously people… get over yourselves! I’m not racist, I hate everyone equally. And from that perspective I can firmly and positively say that if you are black, and everything is still colored by slavery to you, you are wrong. Likewise, if you are white, and everything seems worse since slavery ended, you are also wrong. I’m tired of the double standards. I’m tired of the racial oversensitivty. I’m tired of being made to feel bad because I’m a white American male. So, to those of you who think I’m an asshat right now, picture both of my middle fingers firmly raised and facing you.

Thank you!

Hey Pakistan…

…guess what? You can kiss my lily white American ass!

You want us to stop bombing your country? You feel that we are violating your sovereignty? Act like a damned sovereign nation, take control of the entirety of the land within your borders and the people that are there.

Sure, we might have some crazy Mormons in the desert building camps and practicing polygamy. Sure, we might have crazy hillbillies in the Apalachians sharing the family tooth. You know what we DON’T have? We don’t have those same people getting into plans and mangling shit in your country. The only reason the US military is there doing that is because you don’t have the balls, the smarts or the ability to do it your own damned selves.

So, grow a pair and be a real country, or prepare for things to get far worse than a few bombs being dropped on a few mud huts. Besides, India is just itching to have a reason to beat the hell out of your country. If we gave them the green light, you’d have Hindus and Elephants so far up your asses, you’d start praying for Vishnu to come to your aid.