Random Stew It seemed like a good idea at the time.

24Feb/092

Great Expectations

Wow. It's been over a month since I last posted an article. I apologize to all those readers who have been anxiously awaiting my next postChange we can believe in.When I posted my last article, the world was aglow with Obamania. The Big Change was coming and with it a new world order. The overwhelming response around the world to Barack Obama's inauguration was one of hope and excitement. Our new president was the media darling and had practically been deified by Oprah and her fawning hordes. Change we can believe in. A New Hope. Abraham Lincoln, F.D.R., and J.F.K. all rolled into one.

A New HopePresidents are judged by the effectiveness with which they met challenges and adversity. Barack Obama has the opportunity to become one of the greatest presidents ever to serve our country. We're facing the greatest economic crisis since the Depression. Our military occupies two countries on the other side of the world. We must deal with a madman in North Korea who may have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons to our soil. Much of the world regards us as overbearing imperialists and even our staunchest allies seem to view us with suspicion.

Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion. --Calvin Coolidge

So, into this minefield of challenges steps a great new hope. A man who has fired the fervor of much of America. A man who represents change and a new era. A man who, much of the world believes, can meet these challenges and reaffirm the idea of an America dedicated not to power but to ideals. But can he? How can he possibly meet the expectation level set for him? The bar seems to be incredibly high. What happens if he doesn't meet these impossibly lofty expectations? Will he be considered a failure? Will it harm his ability to accomplish great things? Will the fanatic fervor of his supporters be transformed into a bitter backlash of disappointment?

Being a hero is about the shortest lived profession on earth. --Will Rogers

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. President Obama must make some very hard decisions that will be unpopular with a lot of people. He's a man, not a messiah. And we're a culture that loves to tear down its heroes -- as witnessed by the recent news frenzies about athletic heroes Michael Phelps and Alex Rodriguez. We can't resist tipping the pedestal upon which our heroes stand. And the higher the pedestal, the more we rock it. It's going to be an interesting ride.

24Jul/080

To Boldly Go…

I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth. --President John F. Kennedy to a special joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961

On this date 39 years ago, the national goal set to us by Kennedy was accomplished when Apollo 11, carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean. Over eight years of singularly focused scientific and engineering discovery was realized in this achievement. Many people say it's still the greatest achievement of mankind.

Kennedy's challenge to the nation became a calling for a Cause and fired our national imagination. It forged the will within the nation such that nothing could stop the Cause. 1968 Democratic Convention in ChicagoNot the daunting technical challenges. Not the tragic deaths of the Apollo 1 crew in a capsule fire during testing. Not the naysayers who cried the project was too expensive. Not the turbulent social upheaval of the 1960's. Not the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not the Vietnam War. Not the murder of John F. Kennedy, nor Martin Luther King, nor Robert Kennedy.

World War II was unquestionably the greatest focal period of the nation's collective spirit during the 20th century, but the Apollo program of the 1960's was surely the second. German soldiers goosestepping in Warsaw.And at least during WWII, the need of singular focus on winning the war was obvious. And while the Apollo program was partially driven by Russianphobia, the benefits were certainly less nebulous than winning a war against the Axis Powers.

And the costs! According to Project Apollo article on Wikipedia, the final cost of the project was about $23 Billion in 1969 dollars ($135 Billion in 2005 dollars)! Again, other than war, when has any country committed itself to such an endeavor?

Kennedy knew the magnitude of the task he was setting, but as he said in his famous speech at Rice University:

Kennedy speaking at Rice UniversiteWe choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Setting such a bold goal for the country was a sign of great leadership. Somehow inspiring the public imagination and national will to actually accomplish the single greatest peacetime achievement in history, is, most assuredly, leadership truly worthy of being called presidential.

Something to think about in this election year.

24Jun/080

Politics Happens

Ewww!! What's that SMELL?!?

In a recent article, Faux Fox News disclosed that political activists planning to protest at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver will have to contend with the Crap Cannon, a sonic weapon that generates an infrasound frequency causing victims to involuntarily defecate! Supposedly, this weapon generates a brown note, a low frequency sound that causes people to lose control of their bowels due to resonance.

According to Faux Fox News, some activists are scared shitless concerned that the Denver police department is armed with such a diabolical device.

We know this weapon and weapons like it have been used at other large protests before. --Mark Cohen, co-founder of the activist group Re-create 68

A fly and some, er, ointment.There's just one small fly in their, er, ointment; the existence of the brown note has never been scientifically proven. In fact, this urban myth has even been recently busted on the popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters.

Still, the concept of such a weapon has seeped into popular culture and has been featured in an episode of Southpark as a sound played in a world wide recorder concert that caused the entire population of Earth to suddenly defecate. In the popular comic strip Transmetropolitan, the main character, Spider Jerusalem, totes a pistol-shaped "Bowel Disruptor" used to defeat and otherwise humiliate his enemies.

It's almost as if we want the brown note myth to be true.

doodyBut what has me rumbling is that Faux Fox News published this story at all. Given their right-wing conservativism and well-known pandering to the lowest common societal denominator, I suppose it's no wonder they're gushing over the opportunity to spin a story so that the evil Democrats will be using a defecation weapon on brave protesters. I think their editors are combining their metaphors, throwing something at a fan to see what sticks on the wall.

And it smells like doody.

9Apr/081

Get Your Gunn…update

Less than two hours after I originally posted Get Your Gunn (April 8, 2008 at 10:40 PM), the following comment was left on this site:

Don | Glory2Jesus@ArmyofGod.com | IP: 72.218.37.151

I’m glad those babykilling abortionists were stopped from murdering any more innocent children in their mother’s womb.

Apr 9, 12:23 AM

Donald SpitzA quick search of Wikipedia reveals that the Army of God "is a radical anti-abortion terrorist organization that advocates the use of violence to combat abortion". It also reveals that Don is likely Donald Spitz.

8Apr/081

Get Your Gunn

The year was 1976. While the nation was gearing for a bicentennial celebration, a young obstetrics and gynecology resident at Vanderbilt University successfully performed the first Zavanelli maneuver -- a last resort treatment used when an infant's shoulders become stuck during delivery. When a baby's shoulders became stuck after its head had emerged, David Gunn, the young resident, gently pushed the baby back into the mother's vagina and then immediately delivered the baby via Caesarean section. The procedure is more appropriately known as the Gunn Zavanelli-O'Leary maneuver, named after the doctors who developed and performed it.

Dr. David GunnAfter graduating from Vanderbilt University and the University of Kentucky Medical School, the Dr. Gunn went to work as an ob/gyn at a public hospital in Brewton, AL. The idealistic Gunn elected to live in a poor, rural community where no other OB/GYN was practicing because, according to The New York Times, it had the highest infant-mortality rate in the United States. A statistic he hoped to change. Although he was initially a specialist in infertility, when a local clinic asked for his help because it couldn't find a doctor who would perform abortions, Gunn agreed.

His empathy for the young mothers and because virtually no other doctors were willing the help them, led Gunn to eventually focus his medical practice solely on abortions. He traveled across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida -- often 1000 miles per week -- providing an unpopular service in communities that lacked reliable abortion providers. He practiced medicine across the Southeast, seeing patients in Mobile, Fort Walton, Columbus, Pensacola, Montgomery, Birmingham, Tallahassee, Savannah, and Orlando.

Pensacola was called "the Selma of the abortion rights movement", notable for its pro-life violence. In the spring of 1984, an abortion clinic was bombed and then, six months later, was bombed again on Christmas Day. The offices of two Pensacola doctors were also bombed that same Christmas. The bomber called it "a gift to Jesus on his birthday".

John Burt -- a former KKK member and founder of Our Father's House, a shelter for unwed mothers -- was the local pro-life extremist leader in Pensacola. In 1986, John Burt invaded the Ladies Center, slamming the clinic's director, Linda Taggart, against a wall before trashing the clinic with three accomplices. In 1988, Burt and John Brockhoeft, a man convicted of arson against a clinic in Columbus, OH, were apprehended with a trunkful of pipe bomb materials after parking in a lot across the street from the Ladies Center. Burt served jail time for these incidents. He also demonstrated in support of two young couples who bombed three clinics.

Michael GriffinFast forward to March 10, 1993. John Burt is leading a right-to-life demonstration, sponsored by Rescue America, in front of the Pensacola Women's Medical Service Clinic. Inflamed by Burt's rhetoric, Michael F. Griffin lurked near the back door of the clinic. As Dr. Gunn entered the clinic via this door, Michael Griffin rushed up behind Dr. Gunn and shot him three times in the back. Gunn died two hours later during emergency surgery. Griffin immediately surrendered to police.

Within an hour of the killing, Rescue America, a Houston-based group for which Mr. Burt served as the Florida leader, issued a statement requesting that donations for Mr. Griffin's family be sent to Our Father's House, another of Mr. Burt's organizations. Don Treshman, the group's national director, said:

We don't condone killing an abortionist, but we don't condemn it either.

Matt Trewhella, a pro-life extremist involved with the group Missionaries to the Unborn, said he:

would not condemn someone who killed Hitler's doctors ... and neither will I condemn Michael Griffin.

The NY Times had a different perspective in their editorial.

This murder was the latest escalation in a crescendo of violence by anti-abortion activists. In the name of "life," the anti-abortion army has bombed or set fire to more than 100 clinics over the past 15 years, invaded more than 300 and vandalized more than 400. Last month in Corpus Christi, Tex., its arsonists leveled a clinic and three nearby buildings. It has stalked medical personnel, used their photographs on "Wanted for Murder" posters, forced physicians to wear bulletproof vests and work behind steel shutters. It has also driven many doctors out of their abortion practice.

Gunn was a recognizable figure partly because Operation Rescue, another anti-abortion extremist group, had put his face and phone number on a "Wanted" poster and displayed it at a rally in Alabama.

John Burt became a central figure in Michael Griffin's trial. In fact, Griffin's defense was that Burt brainwashed him with videos, books, prayer sessions, use of an effigy of Dr. Gunn, and even a funeral for a pair of aborted fetuses. Burt's response?

I've shown those videos and literature to thousands of people who never killed anyone. I would respect Michael a lot more if he had stuck with his original defense, which was that he acted for God when he shot Dr. Gunn.

Paul HillPaul Hill would often participate in protests with John Burt. Hill went on the Phil Donahue Show and called Dr. Gunn's murder a "justifiable homicide". A little over a year after Dr. Gunn's murder, Hill got into the act himself, killing Dr. John Britton (who took over as clinic doctor after Gunn's death) and James Barrett in Pensacola in July 1994. Hill was sentenced to death but never expressed remorse for his crime.

John BurtIn June 2003, Burt's faithful were left in disbelief, when the 65-year-old was charged with molesting a 15-year-old resident of Our Father's House, the shelter he ran for unwed mothers. A month later, Burt pleaded not guilty to five counts of criminal conduct: four lewd or lascivious molestation counts, and another for slipping the 15-year-old a handwritten invitation to have sex with him. Local authorities said that after Burt's arrest, other residents of Our Father's House -- a Christian-based boarding school for pregnant teens -- came forward with similar stories of sexual abuse.

In May 2004, Burt was sentenced to 18 years in prison. In January of this year, Burt lost his final appeal in the Florida 1st District Court of Appeal.

Hallelujah.

BTW, Get Your Gunn was the first official single from Marilyn Manson. The song was inspired by the killing of Dr. Gunn, which the band called "the ultimate hypocrisy".

19Oct/070

Parents Behaving Badly

Warning: this is a rant.

I have a vice of absolutely loving good coffee so I'm familar with Starbucks' The Way I See It campaign, which is, in their words

a collection of thoughts, opinions and expressions provided by notable figures that now appear on our widely shared cups.

And I admit, I've seen more than my fair share of Starbucks' cups. The cup I received yesterday had the following thought on it.

The Way I See It #252
Give me world politics, gender politics, party politics or small-town politics ... I'll take them all over the politics of youth sports.

Brenda Stonecipher
City council member and Starbucks customer in Everett, Washington.

This cup's communiqué conveyed a colossal conjunction of coincidence (I couldn't resist the alliteration). My son's football team has been the stage for truly ugly politics this season.

Before I begin truly ranting, let me say that all of the coaches in his league are purely volunteers and --having been a youth sport coach myself-- I applaud them for their huge commitments of time and energy to what is largely a thankless job.

OK, now let the rant begin.

My son plays football in a league for 11-13 year olds; his team is a brand new, expansion team in the league. Before the season, all new players participated in workouts so that the coaches could grade them. The coaches then held a draft, allotting new players to each team. Normally, this would be a fair system.

But it's not.