Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Surrounded by Cacti

Seriously, I cannot move left or right for fear of a prick from a cactus plant. This is my first trip to Tucson and I have to tell you it's a lot like Phoenix, except it's smaller, and has no large buildings. I am staying at a resort on the edge of town and I swear I am hearing coyotes or something howl in the distance. A sign on my screen door says "For you own protection from desert animals, please keep screen door closed at all times." I wondering what animal is going to make it to the third floor, but I don't want to find out. Actually, I've had a lifelong phobia of scorpions and I don't want to encounter one of those at any cost.

Random travel thoughts:

Was in the Houston airport today. I've spent some time in Houston before. I looked for signs of obesity since they are "The fattest city in America". The people really didn't look any different than they are in the 13th fattest city in America--Indianapolis.

Do you really need to recline your airplane seat on a 2 hour flight? I am almost 6'2" and I cannot afford first class. My knees requested that I ask the citizens of the world to think before they recline.

Americans really need to learn the fine art of forming a proper queue.

No one should eat the sausage egg breakfast sandwich from Subway.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Out of town

I'll be in Arizona for a conference until Sunday. I may post if I get the chance.

In the meantime check out the book of a good friend of mine. It's called Fire Me, Please! 101 Ways to Get Fired from Your Miserable Job

Read about it in Intake

Buy it at Amazon.com

The Indy 500

I missed the race for the first time in several years. In a remarkable display of filial piety I chose to go home to see my family in beautiful Bicknell, Indiana. I was able to watch the race live on television. It was nice to see even my 87 year old grandfather cheering for Danica Patrick. She has quite a bit of talent, but Dan Wheldon is even better and will probably have a ride in Formula One next year.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sacre Bleu!

French Reject Europe's First Constitution

PARIS - French voters rejected the European Union's first constitution Sunday, President Jacques Chirac said — a stinging repudiation of his leadership and the ambitious, decades-long effort to further unite the continent.

Chirac, who urged voters to approve the charter, announced the result in a brief, televised address. He said the process of ratifying the treaty would continue in other EU countries.

Friday, May 27, 2005

You can quote NWA lyrics to law enforcement officers

F--- tha police
Comin' straight from the underground

No matter how offensive speech is, I believe it the right to tell an authority figure to f-- off is a cornerstone of democratic freedom.

Profanity toward police ruled protected

A teen who shouted obscenities at a police officer was exercising his right to free speech, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

The three-judge panel voted unanimously Thursday to overturn the youth’s juvenile conviction for disorderly conduct, ruling that his comments in reaction to the officer’s treatment of his companion were protected political speech.

“Although we do not agree with the manner in which U.M. conducted himself ... U.M. was expressing himself regarding the legality and appropriateness of police conduct toward his companion,” Senior Judge George B. Hoffman Jr. wrote in the order reversing the youth’s adjudication in Marion Superior Court.

Indianapolis Star

Here is the actual judicial opinion (it's short)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Welcome to Iran-dianapolis!

Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Link to Indianapolis Star

Stem Cell Research

Although President Bush has threatened to veto stem cell legislation, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to expand research in that area. Fifty Republicans defied the President and voted alongside the Democrat minority.*

The bill is now headed to the Senate where its passage looks promising. Now, in the chutzpah department, Republican Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas has already threatened to use the filibuster to block this legislation.

*14 Democrats opposed.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Breaking the Law

It is still illegal for unmarried couples to live together in seven states, surely this law is not enforced in 2005, right? Wrong.

Sheriff Carson Smith of Pender County, North Carolina, recently relied on a 1805 law banning the cohabitation of unmarried persons to give one of his employees an ultimatum.

He told Deborah Hobbs she could either marry her boyfriend, move out of the house they were living in together or get fired. Hobbs, 40, quit and went to the American Civil Liberties Union, which launched a legal challenge to the law.


Here is the North Carolina statute § 14-184:

If any man and woman, not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(hey, at least gays get a free pass in this law)

According to the article, there have been 36 people charged under this law in North Carolina and 7 convictions. North Carolina is not the only state still in the 19th century as Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi and North Dakota have similar laws as well. Also, four states (Illinois, Minnesota, South Carolina and Utah) still have laws against fornication.

The morality police are definitely out there. I doubt that many companies have moral fitness committees to come and inspect employees' homes like Henry Ford did, but I have spoken to people here in Indiana who have lost jobs because they were either dating someone while their divorce was pending or cohabiting. I think it is best that not to share details of your personal life with coworkers.

More information on Ms. Hobbs' case

Thurl Ravenscroft Dies...


Yeah, I didn't recognize the name either, but I knew the voice. He was probably most famous as the voice of Tony the Tiger. "Kellogg's Frosted Flakes...They're Grrrrrrrrrreat!!"

He did other voiceovers and had a singing career as well. You've probably heard him sing too. In Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch stole Christmas, he sang the unforgettable:

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

You really are a heel.

You're as cuddly as a cactus,

You're as charming as an eel.

Mr. Grinch.

Listen to tribute at NPR.org

Monday, May 23, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

Ok, I saw it this weekend as is mandatory for every 33 year old with even a modest appreciation of pop culture. I was five years old when Star Wars debuted, which was the perfect age to nag my parents for some Kenner action figures. I never had the Millenium Falcon or the X-Wing fighter. I just had the various characters and I still have them somewhere locked away.

Here are some various comments about the movie. There may be a few mild spoilers (but don't we all know what happened anyway?), so read at your own risk:

It's obvious from the "Love" scenes in this movie between Anakin and Padme that not only has George Lucas never been in love, I don't think he has even kissed a girl.

Jar Jar Binks doesn't open his very annoying mouth in this movie, but is seen twice on film.

I am sure someone has pointed this out before, but in this galaxy far, far away, there are laser guns, advanced droids, jedi mind tricks, space travel at greater than the speed of light, bionic body parts and many other advances. On the other hand, they must not have sonograms as Padme did not even know she was carrying twins.

I don't know if the Jedis were stupid or full of hubris (most likely), but they were fooled so easily. It's really almost hard to feel sorry for them. If I were Anakin, I think I'd want to be a Sith as well.

Did R2D2 lose some of his capabilities? He was more of a badass in episode 3 than he ever was in later years.

Anyway, the movie was well done in spite of its few flaws. It was visually stunning and the score as always was great.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Besterberg release

It's been almost 15 years since Paul Westerberg left the greatest band that never made it big--The Replacements. In those 15 years Paul Westerberg has flitted back and forth between messy punk and being a singer/songwriter. His solo work is chronicled on the album entitled "Besterberg".

Buy it from Amazon

I saw him play last month in Chicago. There were moments during the show where I cringed, but I realized it was just him being Paul, like back in the 80s when he'd get upset, and the Replacements would just sit around and play cards while the crowd booed. There are two types of Paul fans, those that love his songs and want to see him play and those who want to see a messy disaster that is often brilliant and sometimes rubbish. I think both groups of fans were satisfied with the show.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Books, Books, Books

I took this meme from Lemming's Progress' blog

1. Total Number of Books I've Owned: I have no idea. If you count all of the children’s books my parents bought for me it would be well over 1,000. As for now, I own four full bookcases and I have several stored in boxes.

2. Last Book I Bought: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (the guy who wrote The Virgin Suicides). Why? Well, because I am in a book discussion group and this is what we’re reading. A group of us at work agreed some time ago to tackle the Random House List of top 100 English language books of the 20th century. Well, we got bored along the way and decided to read a “modern classic”. Middlesex won a Pulitzer, so it was nominated. It’s a very interesting book and probably the best book I’ve read where the lead character was a hermaphrodite.

3. Last Book I Read: Hmmm, ok well, I must be honest. It was The Da Vinci Code. I picked it up at my uncle’s house a couple weeks ago and finished it later that night. It was very interesting but also very poorly written. I think I could write better dialogue than Dan Brown. Well, ok, I could write it just as poorly.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

A. The People’s History of the United States –by Howard Zinn – This is the one book that every American should read. It gives an honest portrayal of American history and one that we’re not taught by the mythmakers in school. I think if this were required reading at the high school level, we’d have a lot less jingoism in this country, which would be a very good thing.

B. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger It’s still my all time favorite book, a lament on the loss of the innocence of youth and the nervous breakdown caused by impending adulthood.

C. Breakfast of Champions -- Kurt Vonnegut Ok, so I cheated. I choose two books one author. The first book is an explanation of our modern American (particularly Midwestern) lifestyle by an omniscient narrator to apparent alien to our planet. It’s only when we step outside of pattern and tradition and look at our lives through a fresh perspective, do we realize how absurd our lives really can be.
Slaughterhouse 5 -- Kurt Vonnegut Vonnegut survived the senseless and horrific Dresden bombings as a prisoner of war and then succeeded in writing one of the best anti-war novels of all time.

D. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald Simply put, this is the greatest American novel.

E. The Other America – Michael Harrington I found this book on my parent’ s bookshelf when I was 12 years old. Even though the book was over twenty years old at the time, I still saw the other America all around me. This book definitely shaped my worldview.

5. Tag 5 people and have them do this on their blog:

Any and all who would like to answer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In Just about 36 hours

Monday, May 16, 2005

Deliver Us from Wal-Mart?

Christians are among those sounding the alarm about the ethics of this retail giant.

The cavernous hallway outside Chicago City Council chambers is echoing with the sound of 150 people chanting, "We're fed up, we won't take it no mo'!"

The lady with the megaphone is leading a mix of union workers and community reform activists shouting slogans against the world's largest retailer. One of the protesters, Ella Hereth of the advocacy group Jobs with Justice, tells CT that Wal-Mart is the "poster boy for corporate exploitation."

She ticks off the complaints: low pay, scant benefits, race and sex discrimination, and profiting from mistreated workers in foreign "sweatshops." Before the Chicago City Council votes to block one store but allow another, aldermen label Wal-Mart "the worst company in America" and an "evildoer."

Christianity Today Magazine

Sunday, May 15, 2005


I saw Crash yesterday. It's another one of those ensembles set in Los Angeles where a group of strangers' lives from very different walks of life become intertwined through coincidence. There are several films out there that have done this before and they are all set in Los Angeles. Some examples are: Robert Altman's Short Cuts, Grand Canyon, Magnolias, or even Pulp Fiction. I am not sure if any of the fine films did a better job with that type of storytelling device than what Paul Haggis accomplished with Crash.

I don't know what it is about Los Angeles. It is ugly and beautiful all at once. It has no central meeting place, ugly storefronts, sunny weather and palm trees. I remember watching one beautiful sunset there and was amazed by the beauty of the orange sky, yet all of the while I knew that an unhealthy level of smog was responsible for that lovely sight.

As for living in the city, one character remarks, "The city isn't a city at all, but a vast expanse of isolated communities, a melting pot where nothing ever melts except for the psyches of its residents." However, the line that struck me the most was in the opening where Don Cheadle's character said, "In any real city, you walk. We're always behind this metal and glass. It's the sense of touch. I think we miss that touch so much, we crash into each other just so we can feel something."

I won't divulge much more so not to spoil the movie. However, the movie focuses (perhaps too earnestly at times) upon race relations in this country. All of the ingredients are there, the racist LAPD cop, the uppity "uncle tom" black man, the iranian immigrants, Chinese, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, young black criminals, and a white politician who tries to use race to his advantage. Race is a character in every scene of this film and Los Angeles provides the perfect milieu.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

US towns brace for base-closing wave


Indiana officials are confident they have done all they could to lobby for the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center to remain open, but some predict the center might face some jobs losses

I grew up in southern Indiana and it always seemed that the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center was in danger of base closure. I cannot imagine what would happen if it did. Crane is the third largest Navy installation in the world, the twelfth largest employer in Indiana and the second largest in Southwest Indiana.

If Crane would close it would leave these rural Indiana communities without a major employer. I am afraid that these small counties would have little more than trailers and meth labs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Nevada Brothels Want to Be Good Neighbor

The bordellos are practically begging the state of Nevada to tax them, hoping the extra revenue for schools, parks and health care will endear them to the public and give them more political security and, ultimately, more business


Still smokin' in Indy

The social libertarian streak in me is quite pleased. I think the council is just trying to delay this proposal so that it will lose steam and die before they have to reach a controversial vote. I don't think the anti-smoking lobby will go away though as they have bought several full page ads in the Star.

Smokers get indefinite reprieve

Close council vote sends proposed ban back to committee for additional study.

A proposed smoking ban for Indianapolis was sent back to the City-County Council's Children's Health and Environment Committee.

No date has been scheduled for the next committee hearing on the measure, but a council official said it probably would take at least two months to bring it back for a vote.

Ashtrays can stay on the tables at Indianapolis restaurants for at least a few more months after officials delayed a decision Monday on whether to impose a workplace smoking ban.


Sunday, May 8, 2005

V-E Day

Sixty years ago

It's interesting to see how V-E Day was recognized. There were celebrations in the US, Western Europe and Russia. On the other hand, many former Eastern bloc countries viewed the day in a more solemn fashion as they were left to face over 50 years of Soviet domination.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

No regular post today

Random comments in a not so Larry King column fashion...

I had a trial today. I spent 12 hours hard at work while we enjoyed the best weather in weeks. Oh yeah, to top it off--I lost.

The Pacers lost.

I suppose Tony Blair will remain Prime Minister. Labour most likely lost some seats to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats though. I am glad that Labour retained its majority even if it is Tony Blair's watered down version of "Labour Lite"

Why didn't I invent those little plastic bracelets (livestrong, support the cure, etc) and those stupid effing magnetic ribbons that are on every car but mine?

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Wal-mart Woes

Can't Wal-Mart, a Retail Behemoth, Pay More?

BENTONVILLE, Ark. - With most of Wal-Mart's workers earning less than $19,000 a year, a number of community groups and lawmakers have recently teamed up with labor unions in mounting an intensive campaign aimed at prodding Wal-Mart into paying its 1.3 million employees higher wages.

A new group of Wal-Mart critics ran a full-page advertisement on April 20 contending that the company's low pay had forced tens of thousands of its workers to resort to food stamps and Medicaid, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. On April 26, as part of a campaign called "Love Mom, Not Wal-Mart," five members of Congress joined women's advocates and labor leaders to assail the company for not paying its female employees more.

And in a book to be published this fall, a group of scholars will argue that Wal-Mart Stores, having replaced General Motors as the nation's largest company, has an obligation to treat its employees better.

Link to NYTimes

Five brave members of Congress joined the advertising campaign. That's 5 out of 535 members. What cowards.

This is an excellent site:


Tuesday, May 3, 2005

BMV to close 12 branches

The Governor is closing down 12 BMV branches and reorganizing the opening hours again. This is in an effort to "improve efficiency" for Hoosiers. Apparently, the governor has never spent 90 minutes in line to renew his driver's license. I am sure that the closure of the twelve branches will only serve to lengthen these lines.

In another act of wisdom, the governor has changed the office hours of the BMV for the second time in five months. This was after they spent tens of thousands of dollars in a marketing blitz which listed the new hours on refrigerator magnets which were distributed across the state.

Lastly, the new director of the BMV was interviewed on television yesterday and he stated that they are scrapping plans to use new computers at the BMV. Well, that's fine because the state is in a budget crunch, right? Wrong. The BMV has already purchased the computers and cannot return them. The BMV claims they are already outdated.

Monday, May 2, 2005

It's ok to discriminate against gays in Indianapolis

Last week the city-council of the 13th largest city in America chose not to protect gays in the workplace and in the housing market. There have been measures to protect homosexuals in the workplace in 152 other cities in the United States including fellow Hoosier cities Bloomington and Lafayette.

The measure was killed by an 18-11 vote even though the Democrats hold a 15-14 majority on the council. One brave Republican voted "yes" and five Democrats voted against the measure. Four of the five Democrats who voted against the proposal were African-American. One of the councilman, Patrice Abdullah, was quoted as saying, "I don't think that I should be forced to compromise my integrity and my beliefs as to what God put here for us to obey and to accept." Do these black council members realize that the Ku Klux Klan once quoted the Bible to justify slavery? I doubt that we've come so far in society that they have forgotten what it is like to be discriminated against.

The Indianapolis Star ran an article on Sunday which attributed the success to an email barrage by conservative groups. Advance America, a fundamentalist Christian group had members send 12,000 emails to council members. As many as four or five Councillors may have been persuaded by this tactic even though polls suggested that the public supported the measure.

Many gays do not feel welcome here and will leave to the multitude of cities that will embrace them with open arms. The rest of us straight and gay will stay in a stagnant Indianapolis that is held hostage by fundamentalist bigots.

This reminds me of the Indianapolis that Dan Wakefield wrote about. Wakefield was an Indianapolis author who fled Indianapolis in the 1950s because he could not deal with a city whose morals were dictated by the John Birch Society. He detailed his displeasure and he detailed in his autobiographical novel Going all the way. Kurt Vonnegut left too for the same reason.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Flags with the image of 'Che Guevara' are seen during May Day parade in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, May 1, 2005.

May Day:

Another May Day has come and gone in the United States without incident. This international holiday associated with the laboring class passes without notice in the United States while the rest of the world celebrates the achievement of Labor. Of course we have our own Labor Day in September. It comes and goes in an innocuous picnic fashion each year. It's the last blast of summer, but rarely do we pause and think about the plight of the worker.

Strangely, the association of May Day and Labor had its roots here in the United States. The May 1st date is used because in 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States, to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This led to the general strike and the U.S. Haymarket Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.

The rest of the world now celebrates May 1st as a day to honor labor? Why did the US government move Labor Day away from the May 1st date? Was it to avoid commemoration of our own first bloody May Day?
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