Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hangin up the hammer

Well folks, the time has come for me to hang up the virtual hammer and pick up a real one. My family and I have some positive opportunities that will require blood, sweat and tear equity to bring to fruition and as I am sure you have noticed -my posts have been sporadic and half-assed at best.

If I can't commit the time to do it right, I'll commit no time at all. Thanks for stopping by and good luck to you.

Keep your powder dry,

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Universal Health Care Part II

In continuing from my previous post concerning Universal Health Care, I want to quickly post my views from a philosophical standpoint and question how Universal Health Care relates to a moral principle.

Back to my dictionary moral is defined as – “1. Relating to, concerned with, the difference between right and wrong in matters of conduct” skipping down to “3. Teaching, inculcating, principles of good conduct; proper, seemly...”

To consider if Universal Health Care is a moral principle, we have to look at what it is, how it's derived and finally how it is applied. Universal Health Care, even to a slow redneck, appears to be health care for all. Every man, woman, and child would be provided the benefit of well, health care. We have to draw some correlation to the benefit and a moral tenet. Is it proper and correct that every living, breathing, human be afforded health care? Is health care a right? Are we entitled? Is it Life, Liberty, the pursuit of happiness and free medicine for all who can't buy it on their own? Do you have a right to what you can earn? If you can't or won't earn it, shouldn't you have to depend on whatever charity and good will you can find? Why not Universal Food Care, Universal Habitat, Universal Transportation?

Let's talk about the means to provide Universal Health Care. I won't go into specifics on the financial ramifications of providing this “benefit”; at least not in this installment. How would the government provide Universal Health Care? It has to cost something, where does the money come from? Who pays and who rides for free? Does compulsory enrollment sound unequivocally moral? How about dispensation of entitlements through additional taxation? Is it moral to take from one who has and give to another who hasn't?

So let me see if I have the supporting structures of this moral principle straight. Mandatory enrollment; artificial price controls; those that do pay into the system pay on a sliding scale – the more successful pay more. Am I missing the boat here? How does making slaves of the working class, suppressing a free market, and punishing some of the brightest minds in the world equate to anything moral?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Don't mess with Texas

Straight from an email I received, and copied directly to 10 Pounder, unedited (With the exception of changing "sh*t" to shit. I always thought that crazy and a piss poor attempt at politcally correct cursing which is complete B*ll Sh*t) This is for all the ladies out there who say I don't have a sensitive side...

This is an actual letter from an Austin woman sent to American company Proctor and Gamble regarding their feminine products. She really gets rolling after the first paragraph. It's PC Magazine's 2007 editors' choice for best webmail-award-winning letter.

Dear Mr. Thatcher,I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from the curse'? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.' Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customers' monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying, jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants... Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.'

Are you freaking kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless you're some kind of sick S&M freak girl, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you just have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the Hammer' or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong', or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bull shit. And that's a promise I will keep. Always.

Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX

Somebody buy this woman a beer!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Universal Health Care Part I

When the reward for diligence is servitude, what will be the incentive to strive? When man's struggles for success are bought with blood, sweat and tears and he arrives at the finish line only to find a smiling jailer with shackles tailor-made for wrist and ankle, will he fall to his knees and shout with elation? Will he even start the race knowing what awaits him? When the juggernauts tire of persecution, who will push the millstone? When Peter quits, who exactly will Paul turn too?

Examples are plentiful, just pick up a paper and read what plans are being made to herald this and the next generation of Americans. Here is the example I chose to pick: Clinton May Garnish Wages to Achieve Universal Health Care.

I am going to take snippets of the article here, but you can read the entire article above.
Clinton on Sunday described universal health care as "a core Democratic value and a moral principle, and I'm absolutely going to do everything I can to achieve that."

Let's take a look at the statement above and determine what it means. First there is the statement that universal health care is a “core Democratic value”. Democracy (From demos and -cracy) is defined by my Little and Ives Complete Standard Universal Dictionary as – a. A form of government in which all classes, including the lowest, have a voice in government, directly or through their chosen representatives.

From the definition it is difficult to tie universal health care to the word democracy in a strict relationship. More likely Mrs. Clinton is artfully using a bit of verbal misdirection. The word democracy has been used synonymously and incorrectly, by most politicians regardless of the letters following their names, with “American Government”. If this is the case and Mrs. Clinton is using democracy as a substitution for “American Government” and calling universal health care one of its core values, it could easily be used as emotional ammunition if a logical line of questioning were introduced. This line of thought is further supported by the second part of her statement calling universal health care a “moral principle”. Therefore if universal health care is a core American value and a moral principle on top of that, dissenters can immediately be labeled as anti-American, morally bankrupt and dismissed out of hand. Or perhaps she really meant a core democratic value connected directly to her political affiliation and a “moral principle”, then by inference her political party's stance is moral, the opposition is not.

If we remove the middle portion of the statement, we are left with - universal health care is a moral principle...

And that my friend is a philosophical question that will have to wait because I am out of time.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Greek Comedy

As I was doing a bit of blog-surfing the other day, I came across a post from Ms. West (soon to be Mrs. Bean) and I just had to share. It is titled "Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA)". Laugh when you read it, sit back and think on it and grab a box of tissues.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If You Don't Vote, You Can't Bitch

Florida primaries are all but over here. I cast my vote for Ron Paul, along with what appears to be three to four percent of the rest of the republican voting population. Mccain looks to be running away with the republican votes. He may win the republican nomination; he may even win the presidency. But, he will have to do both without my vote. If Ron Paul doesn't make it to the ticket as an independent, it looks like I will have to write him in.

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” - John Quincy Adams

“I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reason to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates ... as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue. His vote is of no more worth than that of any unprincipled foreigner or hireling native, who may have been bought.” - Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, January 27, 2008


It is a good feeling to be completely physically spent. I just got back from my judo class and it was great. I don't think there is a single muscle that wasn't taxed during the session. I have been learning judo for nearly a year now and still enjoy it as much as the first day. It hasn't been an easy road, as anything to do with martial skills should not be. “Train like you fight and fight like you train” and all those other little pearls of wisdom. I am fortunate to have remained healthy and relatively uninjured. A chipped bone here, a broken toe there and a couple of dislocated ribs were the highest price I have had to pay for my mistakes in the dojo. They didn't stop me from continuing; they merely slowed me down (and forced a change in tactics) until they healed. And guess which lessons seem to be burned into my brain?

Sensei and I have become friends and he has turned out to be a great guy both on and off the mat. Part of our training is to visit other schools. Training for a day under a different judo instructor(s) gives you different perspectives on the same style as well as allows you to test your skills against other judoka that you are not used to training with. Today was one of those days. I met my sensai in front of the local rec center and we went up to class. Class began as I suppose most do with an introduction of the visitors and a bowing in. Class kicked off with a drill that was new to me; they affectionately called it “Cat Drills”. What an innocent name for medieval torture.

Cat drills start with a man in the middle of the mat who gets to sit on his butt. All other judoka line up along a wall and smile (optional). Why were they smiling? Well that would be because visitors have the honor of being among the first men in the middle and who do you suppose got to start off in the middle? You got it, “Tell'em what he wins, Bob!” Me.

One of the sensei picks out a participant to step forward, bow, and then try to make you a skid-mark on the mat. Ah friend, I can here you now, “Sounds like wraslen to me you big sissy.” You would be correct, with one major exception – most southern "wraslen" matches start with both opponents standing, or both in some position comprised of hands and knees; not so the Cat Drill. Remember I said the man in the middle gets to sit on his rosy red? His opponent starts the match standing. Matches are two minutes per opponent and go until either one of the gentleman chokes, arm-bars, or pins the other. Once one of the previously mentioned occurs or time runs out, the man in the middle stays and faces another without more than a ten to fifteen second breather. This continues until you either die, pass out, face every judoka in the dojo, or ask for a break. With even a basic grasp of the principles of leverage, momentum, stamina, and weight one should be able to figure which of the two judoka is at a serious disadvantage. When you are the sap in the middle, it forces you to change your strategy considerably – and as I understand it, the point of the exercise.

I had done something similar to this in a different martial art, but there were two minute breaks in between. Oh, and if you ever find yourself in just such a situation at the dojo, allow me you give you a little advice - don't bite; they'll figure it out from the teeth-marks. Just take my word for it. Yes ya yuppie, that was a joke. Where was I? Ah yes, breathing like a bull, muscles quivering like jello, I only just made it through them all without a break. After fair showing with the first two, I had my arse handed to me by the rest. The last three were of the instructor variety, but they were nice enough to make me work a bit before they painted the dojo with my forehead. If you have any doubts as to your level of physical fitness, try this drill and you will know exactly where you stand.

Once we were finished with Cat Drills, we moved on to standing randori. They asked for volunteers to have the first go. My sensai is a quick thinker because as I was catching my breath and mulling over the risk vs. reward ratio of just such a proposition he volunteered me. Well didn't that just make things much easier? No choice now but to step up, bow, and wait for “Hajime” (begin). I circled and fought for a hand grip, and in a flash went from thinking that I had my opponent out of balance and in a perfect position for a koshi guruma to wondering how my feet got so far above my head. It's times like these that you truly appreciate ukemi drills. Ukemi is a small group of techniques that teaches you to fall safely. No one said it was comfortable, but at least things are less likely to go snap-crackle-pop when you are hit with the earth. So where was I...ah yeah, flat on my back on the mat. Nothing to do but jump up and try again and then again. Randori is full force, neither holds back in his attempts to defeat his opponent. This is one of the reasons that I really enjoy judo. It's full contact and there is little danger that you will maim, seriously injure or kill your opponent inside the dojo. I can grab my opponent and attempt to throw him, choke him, joint lock him, and or control him with 100% effort. This translates well to “live fire” situations.

Now before anyone sends me a ridiculous mail telling me how judo sucks or how their martial art is the be all, end all, have a long drink from this tall can of shut-the-hell-up. Judo, like every other martial art, is a tool or set of tools. It is a tool that fits me and it is a tool that has many applications. It is not the only tool, nor does it fit everyone. There are techniques practiced on the sport side of judo that I believe would bring me serious harm were I to employ them in a life situation. Guess what? I don't practice those few techniques. But, I am not training to be a samurai warrior of the ninth circle; I have no visions of being a master judoku, surrounded in a dank alley by twenty assailants, gleefully disarming gang members left and right and cracking arms and legs, heads and necks with my all powerful judo throws and deadly atemi techniques. But I would be the guy to stay the hell out of that alley. I would be the guy to attempt to maintain an awareness of my surroundings. Because, you silly one, avoidance-fu is the best art to master; for nearly everyone else, the rest is insurance.

A great day at the dojo. I learned a lot and I look forward to the next.