Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Crack in Budda's Smile?

All six of you that regularly submit yourselves to this blog's blatherings know that the only thing that lights my lamp faster than a good Commerce Clause kerfuffel is an old fashioned tea spitting over the Hobbs Act.Can there be anything more exciting than deep legal ruminations as to whether federal law preempts local prohibitions on extortion and racketeering? Heck no! At least not during baseball season. It becomes especially titilating when the question presented involves both "a woman's right to choose" and the reach of federal power. I must admit that when the Supreme Court of the United States hands down a unanimous decision involving abortion rights, the Hobbs Act AND the Commerce Cluase, well, I just just get all sticky.

Mind you, this post is not about abortion rights, but then neither is today's decision in Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc. , despite the early hand-wringing from the main stream media. Honest to God, the New York Times' front page headline read "Supreme Court Rules For Anti-Abortion Groups." An hour later (no doubt after the Times' editorial board read the decision) the story dropped to page 3 and began fading under the banner "Abortion Foes Win Dispute." And rightly so, as this case (which has now been up to the Black Nine three times over the last 20 years) is not about abortion, but whether the Hobbs Act prohibitions encompass the "threat of physical violence" where there is no concomittant attempt of "robbery or extortion."

In what must be one of the most succinct opinions ever drafted by Justice Breyer, eight of The Nine agreed (Alito did not take part) that the plain language of the Hobbs Act requires that "threats" of violence be accompanied by attempts of robbery and/or extortion; proof of which N.O.W. simply could not produce.

All of which raises an interesting question as to "property rights" under Roe v. Wade. As you no doubt recall, under the Hobbs Act, it is necessary that there be both a deprivation to the victim and an acquisition of property by another for extortion to exist under the Act. The erstwhile extortionist must “obtain” something of value that he can “exercise, transfer, or sell.” United States v. Nardello 393 U.S. 286, 290 (1969); see also, Scheidler v. National Organization For Women, Inc. , 537 U.S. 393 (2005) (predecessor to today's decision, holding that merely depriving a person of their property right of exclusive control of their business assets was insufficient to constitute extortion under the Hobbs Act where the official could not exercise the property right so deprived). Today's decision further narrows the fHobbs Act's context to require that the deprivation of rights under the Hobbs Act be tied, in some fashion, to "robbery or extortion."

When taken at face value, today's decision in Scheidler does not significantly alter the Court's somewhat fatalistic stance towards Roe. It does, however, serve as backhanded recognition from the bench that the sole foundation for abortion rights currently rests upon the sands of "penumbras and emanations" that drift with society to form a constitutional "right to privacy." Viewed through a longer lens, however, the Court's repeated refusal to extend federal statutory protection to abortion rights (beyond that explicitly stated by Congress) significantly reduces the avenues of argument available in support of a woman's right to choose. In other words, by rejecting argument after argument that federal law (as opposed to Constitutional right) protects abortion on demand, the Supreme Court is satisfied to let the entire matter rest on the issue of constitutional "privacy."

Of course, no sane lawyer would choose to advance such an argument if he had a statute in his pocket. So.....

Court to Congress: "Here's the ball. Now shoot."
Congress: *hic*

And there you go.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Osama bin Cuddlin'

Perhaps we're mistaken about Osama bin Laden being a vicious mass-murdering pyscopath. According to one Australian taxi driver, Osama is nothing more than a big, lovable teddy bear who likes his beard scratched.

The former Melbourne taxi driver convicted this week of receiving cash from al-Qaeda has told of his meetings with Osama bin Laden, and how the world's most-wanted man had a softer side.

"You know, he didn't mind being hugged, but kisses he didn't like," says Jack Thomas, the 32-year-old Werribee father of three who trained under the al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan just months before the September 11, 2001, strike on the United States.


But then, we already
know that everybody
needs a hug...

Don't we ever.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Alpine Fool's Gold

This weekend the rdr family celebrates our annual ski trip to Brokeleg Mountain. Nothing can beat taking the whole family and some dozen or so college and high school age hangers-on to a small condominium high in the snowy Appalachians where they can fight over who swiped whose hats/gloves/bibs because whose whose hats/golves/bibs were put away wet the night before. The beer does, however, always taste better up here.

Really, nothing could interfere with the joy I feel at racing down the Double Diamonds, showing off such patented moves as "The Break Dancing Triple Head Spin and Royal Kristie," shown at left. I was the first to attempt this show-stopping manuver back in 1983, accompanied to "Maniac" from the "Flashdance" soundtrack. Although many have attempted to recreate the feat in Olympic competititon, the pure silk of my original moves has never been duplicated. Without question, every chair lift within sighting distance cheers when I emerge unscathed from this death-defying stunt.

Another patented move that reflects my life long passsion with basball is "The Pete Rose," shown at left. Pete, as you will remember, was famous for his head first slide into the bases, which probably hepled him gain "The Dirtiest Uniform Award" year after year. I have loving recreated Mr. Rose's spirited enthusiasm with my own special tribute to "Charlie Hustle." Of course, there is insuffficient dirt on the ski slopes to fully apprciate the selfless efforts of this deserving player, but I make up for that by pointing my face towards a chairlift station, snow maker, or small child learning to do the snow plow. Needless to say, it's a real crowd pleaser.

But it's important that someone of my stature in the world of alpine sport should give back to the skiing community. This is one of my strongest principles, and I routinely hold "yard sales" on the slopes to raise awareness of crippling diseases. At left is pictured this year's effort, which brought in such sizable donations that I was not required to perform for the rest of the day.

Night skiing begins in 15 minutes.

And I be in fine form, as usual.
You're on Notice.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Gone Fishing

It's one of those days.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Baddest White Dude With A Slide On His Pinky, EVER

Today is the 62nd birthday of Texas Bluesman extraordinaire John Dawson Winter, III. Johnny Winter to us. I first saw him with Jeff Beck at the Filmore East when I was like 15 or 16. Voice that growled like a wildcat, and the meanest damned finger slide I'd ever witnessed. I was blown away.

He also performed at one of the concerts that I will forever kick myself for missing. Stupid. Just plain stupid.

It's good to know that some things just get better with age, and Johnny's one of them. Catch him if he comes near your town. He is an American treasure.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Appreciation - Curt Gowdy

"There is no doubt that sports is a part of American history. The great moments of the past are firmly anchored in the country's memory. ... They live on as they should, preserved because they aroused interest and excitement in a nation that has always cherished its sports."
-Curt Gowdy
"The Way It Was"

"Everybody quiet now here at Fenway Park after they gave him a standing ovation of two minutes knowing that this is probably his last time at bat. One out, nobody on, last of the eighth inning. Jack Fisher into his windup, here's the pitch. Williams swings — and there's a long drive to deep right! The ball is going and it is gone! A home run for Ted Williams in his last time at bat in the major leagues!"

-Curt Gowdy
-Fenway Park, September 28, 1960

"Here's Mantle. He's grounded to short, he's walked, he's doubled to right. Facing 38-year-old Barney Schultz. The big Yankee crowd roaring now for some action.... There's a high drive to deep right! And...forget about it! It is gone. The ball game's over.... Mantle has just broken a World Series record. He now has 16 World Series home runs. He and Babe Ruth were tied with 15 apiece."
-Curt Gowdy
-Yankee Stadium, October 10, 1964

There's a fly ball out to left. Cleon Jones is waiting...the Mets are the World Champions! Jerry Koosman is being mobbed! Look at this scene!"
-Curt Gowdy
Shea Stadium, October 16, 1969

"The ball's hit deep... deep... it is gone! He did it! He did it! Henry Aaron... is the all-time home run... leader now!"
-Curt Gowdy
- Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, April 8, 1974

16 World Series, 12 Rose Bowls, 7 Olympic Games, and 8 Super Bowls.

Thanks for the memories, Cowboy.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Parents' Weekend At Sendmomony U.

Things got better after the traditional Greek greeting.
But not by much.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Heigh-ho Ho Hum

Bored German ties himself to bed
February 18, 2006 - 9:24AM

A German youth who tied himself to a foldaway bed because he was bored was rescued by police after becoming trapped in its mechanism, officials said on Tuesday.

Neighbours alerted the police in the western German town of Schwelm after hearing the 16-year-old's cries for help late on Monday night.

When police entered the apartment, they found the bed had folded itself away and the red-faced youth was tied upside down to it with a tow-rope and wire and unable to free himself.


There is no sin worse in life than being boring. ~ Paris Hilton, Confessions, 2004

Ever since Caine clocked Abel 16 year-olds have exercised their God given right to be bored. There's nothing, nothing at all to do when you are 16. Zero. It's a pathetic life, made all that more oppressive by the fact that clueless adults are always pestering you with their "ideas" of what to do so that you won't be bored. Please. What 16 year-old wants to "read a book" or "draw a picture" or "bake a cake." How boring is that? It's just one miserable boring minute after another.

Ha. Teens don't realize that we adults wrote the book on boredom! Our adult lives are nothing but waiting for the end in endless boredom!

I am now completely bored with this post.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Popular Mechanics, 1954

In 1954, this is what scientists predicted a home computer would look like in fifty years time. Pretty close, except for the steering wheel. (Click pic for bigger)

Now what do you say we stop beating ourselves up over past bullshit and start talking about Social Security again. I have a feeling that we might have underestimated the possiblities, as usual.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Question

Does anybody doubt that there are certain people out there that are praying that Mr. Wittington dies of his wounds? Just asking.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why Taking Your Medication Is Important

I read the comics every day. I read them all (except "Doonesbury," which I gave up last year to lower my blood pressure, and "Cathy," which just plain sucks). The comic at left is "Funky Winkerbean" which has around since 1972. I am convinced that the creator of this strip, one Tom Batiuk, is in serious need of some counseling and better medication. This strip is the most depressing theater I've ever come across. So depressing in fact, that it's now predicatable. Let's do a quick run-down on the panel above, and see if you don't agree with me.

The fellow on the right is "Wally Winkerbean," Funky Winkerbean's younger nephew. He ran off to the Army after he was involved in a drunk driving accident on the evening of his high school graduation. The accident claimed the left arm of his then girlfriend, Becky, to whom he is now married. Becky, seen here about to blow lunch, was a aspiring concert violinist who had just been offered a scholarship to Juliard. Wally got sent to Afghanistan, where his squad's helicopter was shot down apparently killing all aboard. Wally was reported as missing for about a year, during which time his Uncle Funky's marriage to the girl of his dreams, TV reporter Cindy Summers, crashed and burned due to his alcoholism and her manic-obsessive devotion to her work.

When Wally is finally brought back to the strip after being secreted in caves by the good Afghanis, he marries Becky, to whom the comic book store owner and weird loner was about to propose after he had sold all of his collection to purchase a ring.

Upon his return, Wally immediately suffered post-tramatic stress disorder, which he fortunately was able to overcome once he realized that what he really needed was to go back to Afghanistan to dig up and disable anti-personnel mines. Becky insists on joining him, even though it means that she will have to surrender her rights as a free woman. While roaming around looking for mines, Wally stepped on one and would have been blown to bits but for Khan, a one-time Afghani arms merchant who is now about to open a restaurant next store to Funky. Meanwhile, a large car bomb exploded in the village where Becky was administering to women and children. The bomb destroys the house of the little girl pictured here, killing her entire family. Wally and Becky instantly adopt the girl and bring her back to the States.

Hillarity ensues when Cindy Summers spends the holidays alone drinking in bars and wishing she could exchange her fame and fortune for a life that wasn't so awful and lonely.

The latest bit of bad news has just arrived in the form of a letter from the Army stating the Wally is going to be reactivated in because he was released two days before his enlistment ended. Hence, the "Happy Effing Valentines Day." Tomorrow, Wally will start binge drinking and beating Becky with his belt.

Now, do you agree that this is the most depresssing comic strip ever? No? Do you want me to tell you about the breast cancer incident? How about the pornography charge? It just never seems to get better for these poor characters. Well, maybe once in while somebody will smile and joke, but you can be sure that in a day or two the cosmic gloom will descend once more upon the wretched of Westview.

So, Mr. Batuik? Please. Take your medication, and seek out professional help. Don't make me go all doonesbury on your ass.

And Happy *&^%@*# Valentines Day yourself.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Come Back To Me, Darling

I was looking for something appropriate with which to trash Valentines Day... because I hate it. We'll not go into that here, because I found something fun instead.

(Click here for jumbo pic.)

Is this cool or what? "Cupid" is a richly deserved a name for a boomerang, isn't it?
My Spanish is awful, so I don't know what any of this has to do with " o bien a mode de sandwich" ("A good way to make a sandwich?" The Mind boggles at its own debasement.*) But what makes this especially cool, and thus deserving of a Heigh-ho Post, is that there's a whole collection of strange boomerangs at the site where I found Cupid. These are artworks, made with everything from glass and carbon fiber, to exotic woods and metals. Indeed, there is evidently a whole gaggle of boomerang aficionados spread across the globe.

Why make beautiful boomerangs? How the hell should I know? The only thing I know about boomerangs is that in the hands of an eleven-year old boy a boomerang can take out Mrs. Schenke's dining room window from about twenty yards away and never be seen of again.

Of course whenever I get intrigued by something stupid from my childhood, I immediately run over to the Bad Fads Museum to see if it's been registered yet. Sure enough, boomerangs are right there sandwiched between accupunture and Charles Atlas.**

But some folks take their boomeranging seriously. Over at "The Amazing World of Boomeranging" Mr. Fizzix (get it?) explains in depth how the things work - or in my case - not work. You should read it when you have trouble sleeping.

Getting back to the point of this point will be difficult, as it started out without one. But the word "boomerang" and "love" seem to have an affinity for each other. As a pairing this couplet can be used to generate wonderful imagery, all of which is, of course, sappy as hell, and deserving of nothing better than as a title to a Jimmy Buffet song.

To prove this theory, I checked out the lyrics to an old ABBA song entitled "Bang A Boomerang." Now, ABBA was a band from someplace where they don't speak English as a first language, so they can be forgiven for writing proto-Bjork type lyrics. But seriously, doesn't this just make you want to slit your wrists?

Like a bang, a boom-a-boomerang....Dum-be-dum-dum be-dum-be-dum-dum.......Oh bang, a boom-a-boomerang........Love is a tune you hum-de-hum-hum......So give it away, I think you'll learn.........You'll get love in return......So bang, a boom-a-boomerang is love......A boom-a-boomerang is love

With all the banging and booming going on, it's tough for a guy to get any sleep. So what to do about it? Write a book about it, of course! "Boomerang Love" is the title of a self-help book about, guess what, relationships. Ohhhh! My favorite target topic. Excerpt:

So back and forth we go in our grief. We're like a boomerang catapulting
ourselves out the door of our relationship and then turning around and going
back through that door again. "I'm leaving him today, but we have such a sweet
love relationship, how can I walk away from that?" Or,"Ive left and he'll
never rage at me again, but I still love him, what's wrong with me?"

Here's a clue, Doris: You're as dumb as a door mat!!!

Well, having once again done my part to make Valentines Day a special day of love for all, I'll leave you with this thought from Wikipedia:

The boomerang should flatten out on its own and arc around, sometimes coming to
rest a little in front of the thrower or behind the thrower, but ideally should
hover in gently allowing the thrower to catch it as a sort of "boomerang
" between the thrower's hands.

I kid you not.

*"Love Sandwich" is the title of a song by Nerf Herder, the lyrics of which have nothing to do with cold cuts.

**Extra blogger bonus points for using "sandwich" three four five times in the same post.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rock On


The Stain

As regards the disgusting display of rudeness and partisan theater by certain individuals at the memorial service yesterday for Correta Scott King, I will be brief


Mr. President, I wouldn't blame you if you never went to another Democrat's funeral, including Jimmy Carter's.*

* Whose legacy will be that of the single worst President of the Twentieth Century.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Reasonable People Can Still Disagree

Once again, somebody has gone and offended the Muslims. And once again Muslim mobs are burning things down in the name of their religion.

It's hard for me to understand this kind of violent reaction over a couple of cartoons, of course. For the most part, we westerners are far more likely to riot and burn things down when our football team wins (or loses) the championship than because of some perceived religious slight.

So we'll once again scratch our heads in wonder, evacuate those in harm's way, and wait for the furor to blow itself out. And, quietly, we'll think to ourselves that perhaps Islam truly is incompatable with anything other than Islam... including the very tenets of modern democracy, such as freedom of expression and freedom of worship.

But, before we do, I think it would be worthwhile to listen to those small voices trying to be heard over the din of fundmentalist jihad. Sheila Musaji is one such voice. Writing in the online journal alt.muslim Ms. Musaji provides a cool-headed look at the Muslim reaction towards the 12 Danish cartoons that have sparked the latest round of Islamic outrage.

When honor killings, suicide bombings, attacks on Christian churches, destruction of Buddhist statues, insults towards other religions are carried out anywhere in the world by individuals claiming an Islamic justification for such acts - then as Muslims, we need to speak out just as strongly for justice.
When anyone, anywhere (whether Muslim or not) is treated unjustly because of their religion, race, sex, or ethnicity by anyone (whether Muslim or not) Muslims should be the first to speak out for justice. If any prophet is maligned, or any place of worship is profaned, if any scripture is treated disrespectfully, then Muslims should be the first to speak out in their defence.

How is it possible that we can even consider exceeding the bounds of justice in response to such incidents as the Qur'an incident a few years ago, and this current incident of a few dumb cartoons in a relatively small newspaper in a country of only 5 million people. The excessive response is causing more harm to Islam and Muslim than the cartoons ever would have (and, in fact they would probably have gone unnoticed by the rest of the world if such attention had not been called to them).

The cartoons are a repeat of old anti-Semitic drawings, complete with hooked noses and swarthy complexions. The cartoons ARE offensive - but the response by many Muslims is more than offensive. Death threats, armed men taking over offices, threats against places of worship, etc. ARE offensive, illegal, immoral, unjust, and against the very spirit of Islam. Threatening to blow up churches in Palestine because a newspaper in Denmark (which is a predominantly Christian country) ran offensive cartoons means that these clowns are saying that every Christian in the world is responsible for the actions of anyone in the Christian world. This is madness just as much as those who hold the same attitude towards Muslims and Islam.

This sort of criminal, insane behavior plays right into the hands of the Islamaphobes and those who want to bring about a clash of civilizations. Even a just cause does not give anyone the right to use illegitimate means or deny others their rights.

There have been individual Muslims who have committed injustices against people of other faiths. There have been newspapers in Muslim countries that have carried offensive cartoons about Jews. There have been Muslims who have carried out violent acts against people of other faiths. As Muslims we need to be even more strong and outspoken in our objections to this perversion of Islam. We need to do everything we can do to reign in our own extremists.

If, as Muslims, we want to show respect for the Prophet, for the Qur'an, and for Islam, then we need to set a noble example of justice, tolerance, and respect. If we want respect from others we need to show them equal respect.
Ms. Musaji isn't proposing that the Muslim community let the latest (and truly stupid) insult from Europe go unanswered. Rather she is proposing that Muslims show their displeasure in the same manner as do other cultures - boycott them, and shame them. In short, respond righteously, but reasonably.

Take issues to court under the laws of the country in which you live - cancel your subscription - organize boycotts to exert economic pressure - send your message out peacefully - explain your position - lobby to enforce or change existing laws - take concerted action within the law - use legitimate, peaceful means - remain calm so that you can act and not simply react - get your own house in order - demand the same rights and privileges for ALL - engage in respectful dialogue.

This kind of responsible reaction would be welcomed in the West, I should think. But is any such dialog possible if the values Ms. Musaji espousees are not impressed upon young Muslims by their teachers and clergy? If all that is taught is the lesson of the sword, then our paths will wind inexorably deeper into the dark pit of cultural hatred.
"Muslims of the world, be reasonable," said the editor-in-chief of the weekly independent newspaper Al-Shihan in Jordan in an editorial alongside some of the cartoons, including the one showing the Muslim religion's founder wearing a bomb-shaped turban. "What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" wrote Jihad Momani.

What indeed.

You should read the whole of Ms. Massji's article. In fact, you should bookmark alt.muslim.
It may wind up being the last refuge for the "reasonable" Muslim in the whole Islamic world.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Things To Do With Your Computer When You Finally Quit Blogging For Good

My favorite Texan, and educator, Professsor Pile On, has decided that the longer he keeps blogging, the further away we are from a cure for hangovers. And so the good Professor will turn his full attention to the issue, and hopefully, publish his findings within my lifetime.

Faced with such a void in the advancement of public amusement, please allow me to suggest alternative uses for Prof. On's computer. First may I recommend the Apple G3 Beer Convertor Kit, pictured at left, and available for most Intel Powered processors running Windows XP. It's a great way to chill out while waiting for your next random thought to gel into something worth writing about, or wait for windows to reboot after a hard freeze.

And, of course, we don't want to forget our recovering friends, either.

(Hint: Always pick the one in the middle.)

Let's not forget that even though after blogging a computer is no longer a necessary implement in your life, its components still can provide a valuable everyday service.

You'll be slicing tomatoes and onions paper-thin in mere minutes!

But what about that monitor? It's now nothing more than a big hunk of junk squatting in the middle of your desk. And, hey, now that you're not blogging any more, you're going to need that desk space for scrapbooking! Well here's a handy use for that useless fat sucka!

Separation, however is key to prevent cross-channel interference.

Of course, never forget that all those software discs you've saved ofver the years make great surprise gifts to facially unimpaired.

(I like the brunette...a lot.)

There's a point to all this lurking somewhere, but its buried beneath the lame bullshit that is the whole point of Heigh-ho.

Let's just say that my bud Pile On will be...missed...by those of us that couldn't hit a broad barnside with a 105 MM snark cannon.

But let it also be said that he'd better damned well not go missing.

Later, Tex.
Happy trails.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Another busy day.

You're on your own.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Training Day

What does this remind you of?

(click pic to enlarge)