Thursday, June 30, 2005

Discrimination in Indianapolis

I have seen this on other blogs and I think it merits repeating here.

If you live or work in the greater Indianapolis/Marion County area and have experienced housing or workplace discrimination because you are gay, lesbian, or transgendered, please consider visiting this site. Sharing your story, even anonymously, just may help raise awareness to have this issue heard again.

Look at the size of this thing!

646 pound catfish caught in Thailand. It is believed to be the largest known freshwater fish.

Now, I realize there are different species of catfish, but the Indiana record for a blue catfish is 79 pounds. My grandfather's brother "Splut" (I love those old nicknames) once wrestled a catfish out of the White River that weighed 82 pounds, but alas, he did not qualify for the record because he did not catch it with the proper fishing equipment.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Things that I learned in Cub Scouts

I was reminded of this law the other night while watching
The Jon Stewart Show.

Federal Flag code

36 U.S.C. 171-178 (k) The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Kangaroo on the Loose Near Indiana Airport

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - At first glance, Walt Temple thought the animal he saw hopping through the city was a deer. "But then, why would it be on its back legs?" he wondered.

It turns out a deer wouldn't be hopping on its hind legs. But a kangaroo would. So he called South Bend Animal Care and Control on Monday to let them know he thought he just saw a kangaroo, not far from the South Bend Regional Airport.

"I didn't believe him," animal control officer Sumyr Springfield said.

Then Springfield, who was first on the scene, saw the top of the kangaroo's head. It was time to call for backup.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

La Cheque est dans la poste

Michelin offered a full refund to U.S. Grand Prix ticket holders today, a gesture that also includes 20,000 tickets to next year’s race.

The French-based tire manufacturer announced its plans independent of Wednesday’s hearing in Paris where the seven Formula One teams that boycotted the June 19 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will answer to the sport’s governing body.

“Michelin deeply regrets that the public was deprived of an exciting race and therefore wishes to be the first among the different groups ... to make a strong gesture towards the spectators,” a statement read.


Bush: Iraq War "worth it"

That's easy for him to say. He has not directly suffered like the families of 100,000 dead Iraqis or of the 1750 servicemen who have died in this war.

I knew the President would resort to the empty platitudes like "freedom" and "liberty". What good is "freedom" when you're dead? I cannot believe that he still mentions 9/11 six times in a speech about the war in Iraq. What is worse is that it seems to be effective.

Wake me up in November 2008.

There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say
On my heartstrings freedom sings
All day everyday.

There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry.
If you had known what I know
You would know why.

--Langston Hughes

Monday, June 27, 2005

Thou shalt not have the Ten Commandments in Courthouses

WASHINGTON - In a narrowly drawn ruling, the Supreme Court struck down Ten Commandments displays in courthouses Monday, holding that two exhibits in Kentucky crossed the line between separation of church and state because they promoted a religious message.

The 5-4 decision, first of two seeking to mediate the bitter culture war over religion's place in public life, took a case-by-case approach to this vexing issue. In the decision, the court declined to prohibit all displays in court buildings or on government property.

The justices left themselves legal wiggle room on this issue, however, saying that some displays — like their own courtroom frieze — would be permissible if they're portrayed neutrally in order to honor the nation's legal history.

But framed copies in two Kentucky courthouses went too far in endorsing religion, the court held.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Even my Yahoo mailbox disrespects John Kerry

You know I haven't seen much of the Senator since the election. He's sort of faded away. This afternoon I opened up my spam folder of my Yahoo account and noticed that I had a couple of emails from him. I barely glanced through it, but I remember an exhortation for me to protest the recent disgusting comments by Karl Rove. I remember during the campaign I would receive one or these mass generated mailings every other day and they'd pop up in my general mail. Now, even Yahoo mail doesn't even seem to care as they automatically filter him the spam dustbin. I am sure he has Al Gore to keep him company there.

Justice For Janitors (click for link)

Employees of Group Services France (GSF) have been struggling to make a change in the contract cleaning industry, and GSF has been fighting them with a campaign of threats and intimidation. On June 15th, 12 brave janitors working for GSF at Duke Realty’s headquarters and the One North Capital Building announced a one day strike to call attention to their plight.

“I work for GSF cleaning Duke Realty’s headquarters. I’m paid $6.50 per hour, but if I miss a day of work GSF cuts my pay by $1.00 per hour for the entire pay period. I don’t have any health insurance. This is no way to raise a family.”

— Erika Ramirez, a striking worker from Duke Realty’s headquarters building

Friday, June 24, 2005

The politics of car buying

It's time.

My household's fleet of vehicles consists of two 1998 automobiles both with 130,000 plus mileage. As I have mentioned before, cars are functional and do not represent a lifestyle for me. I have never been mechanically inclined and the only thing I know how to do is to check my oil level.

Even with that preface, there are many options for me to consider. I grew up in southern Indiana where people drove Chevrolets and Fords. Even a Chrysler was exotic change that would attract that wide-eyed stare from the locals. We didn't buy furrin' cars where I came from. I remember my stepsister had an Audi Fox (against my parent's advice) and we had to take it halfway to St. Louis just to be able to find a mechanic to work on it. Japanese cars? Forget about it. Those were "riceburners". You were either too poor to buy a Monte Carlo and/or just not a good American to buy those cars. Remember, we fought a war against them.

I realized how silly these prejudices were then and I certainly do so now. On the other hand, I have never owned a car that was not named Ford or Buick. I do not have any idea as to what my next purchase will be, but I am mindful of the union apprentices who make up the majority of my college course that I teach. They notice what car I drive and I am sure that I'll never be able to show up to class in a shiny, new Honda Accord. I am loyal to unions, but my anarcho-syndicalist worldview doesn't have much in common with the business unionism that is the UAW. I have little sympathy for the workers who looked the other way while management made tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. Why did they look away? The workers were making ridiculously high wages, too. The only losers were American consumers.

I won't buy GM or Ford or German-American Chrysler solely out of patriotic duty either. That's silly. These lines are blurred anyway through globalization, partnerships and transational corporations. If I were base my purchase on those terms, I have more reason to buy a Toyota than any traditionally American automotive company. Toyota has a major manufacturing plant near where I grew up that provides relatively highly paid jobs for thousands of people in my former community. The community desperately needs any type of boost and Toyota has made a tremendous difference in the standard of living for many southern Indiana workers. On the other hand, I am mindful that the same corporation that I praise here did choose to come to my community because they knew that the economic state would allow them to pay lower wages than almost anywhere else in the country.

So this is a lot of navel-gazing over a automobile purchase, but these concepts are foremost in my mind when I step into a dealership. These things I understand far better than meaningless (to me) designations such as 2.0 liter, hp, GT, SS, etc.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Meme from Lemming

States in which I've lived:

Washington D.C. (ok, I know it's not a state, but what is it?)

United Kingdom (ok, that's a different country)

States in which I have spent lots of vacation time:
New York

States I've just visited overnight more than once, for various reasons:
West Virginia
New Hampshire
Rhode Island

States I've Driven or Flown Through:
North Carolina
Rhode Island
New Hampshire

Dear Readers

I have been away for a few days preparing for and participating in a three day jury trial. It's over (and I won). My brain feels a bit addled right now, but I am sure I'll have something to write soon.

In the meantime, I cannot believe that this issue has surfaced again. What an obvious appeal to mindless, kneejerk patriotism, but what can say? It works. It's amazing though when there are dozens of important issues and dare I say impending crises that beg for discussion, yet we're still playing around with a flag burning amendment. Nevermind that the flag is merely a symbol of the freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution. Why change the actual core values of our freedom just to protect a symbol?

Newsview: GOP Using Flag-Burning Issue

WASHINGTON - Symbols are everything in politics. They can get you elected — or defeated. That's why Democrats fear getting singed by a proposed flag-burning ban, forced into a vote that Republicans will cast as a test of patriotism.

Yahoo News

Friday, June 17, 2005

Summer Reading List

Well, I don't really have one, but these are the books that I've managed to read thus far. It helps that I had a conference as I was able to knock out three books whilst there:

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides This book about a hermaphrodite who was raised as a girl but lived as a male adult won the pulitzer in 2003. It's quite a lengthy novel and one that begins with the narrator's grandparents in post world war I Asia Minor and their journey to prohibition era Detroit, through race riots in the 1960s and to present day Berlin. I read it as part of my monthly book discussion group.

2. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway -- This is another book discussion group selection. It's the novel that made the running of the bulls in Pamplona famous. This is a typical Hemingway book: short, choppy sentences, man's existential conflict with nature/animal, and flat, static female characters.

3. The Silent Angel by Heinrich Boll -- This was an unpublished novel by the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature author. It is quite an interesting book about a German soldier who somehow escapes execution for desertion and flees home to the ruined city of Cologne(although it is never mentioned by name). Highly recommended.

4. Poker Nation: A High-Stakes, Low-Life Adventure into the Heart of a Gambling Country by Andy Bellin -- A journalist and avid poker player gives a very honest account on the nation's obsession with gambling.
This is a book which is difficult to describe. Within it there are tips, "war stories" about particular poker games, interviews with professional poker players and several down and out stories about some of the pathetic gamblers and low-lifes
who play the new national pastime.

On Race in America

Study: Black Men, White Ex-Cons Have Equal Job Prospects

NEW YORK -- A new study says black men with no criminal histories are about as likely to be offered jobs in New York City as white men with felony convictions.

The study, released by the city Commission on Human Rights, finds employers call back black men who present resumes with no criminal background 16 percent of the time -- about as often as white men who report criminal histories.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Those crazy Public Defenders

Woman sends crude message after pay error

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) -- Kootenai County commissioners have suspended a public defender who allegedly sent them a crude message in a greeting card about a mistake in her pay increase.

Public defender Linda Payne delivered the missive after the county miscalculated pay benefits and told county attorneys they could expect about $5,000 more per year than was actually approved - then retracted it the next day.

Payne's hand-delivered greeting card was accompanied by a jar of petroleum jelly and a tube of red lipstick.

"The next time you choose to give us something please lubricate and/or kiss first," she wrote in the June 9 note.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Governor targets 24 more BMV branches

This list includes my beloved hometown branch, which for its size is one of the more efficient branches.


The Supreme Court Messes With Texas

Texas has executed over 1/3 of the 900 persons who have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Race has often been a factor in Texas' death penalty decisions. Statistics show that of the people executed in Texas, 88 percent were executed for the murder of a white victim. Yet approximately 58 percent of murder victims in Texas are from ethnic minorities.

The Supreme Court today overturned a death penalty conviction. In doing so, they cited the longstanding practice of Dallas prosecutors to try and keep blacks off of juries. Even as late as the 1980s, the office had training manuals advising prosecutors to remove blacks and Jews from death penalty cases because those groups would be more sympathetic to the defendant.

Clarence Thomas wrote the dissent in this case.

Death Row Conviction Overturned Over Race

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a black death row inmate who said Texas prosecutors unfairly stacked his jury with whites, issuing a harsh rebuke to the state that executes more people than any other.

The 6-3 ruling Monday ordered a new trial for Thomas Miller-El, who challenged his conviction for the 1985 murder of a 25-year-old Dallas motel clerk. It was the second time justices reviewed the case after a lower court refused to reconsider Miller-El's claims


"At least two of the jury shuffles conducted by the state make no sense except as efforts to delay consideration of black jury panelists," Souter said, adding that it "blinks reality" to deny jurors were struck because they were black.

Link to story

Thursday, June 9, 2005

I noticed that yesterday's article in the Star left this piece of information out. A friend of mind told me the other day that these fires were the work of a white supremacist gang.

Police: Fire was racially motivated

5 in white gang thought blacks were moving in, officials say

Five gang members, including a man with ties to a white supremacist group, set fire to a Near-Southside home last month to keep a black family from moving in, police and fire investigators said Wednesday.


Monday, June 6, 2005

Tiananmen Square

I was away for a few days so I missed the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. I have this photograph on my office wall to inspire and remind me of all struggles.

Shock Mom and Dad: Become a Neo-Nazi

Liberal parents who tolerate sex, drugs, and rock are hard to shock. Here’s an idea: why not become a Neo-Nazi?...

German young people, faced with liberal parents who are tolerant about sex, drugs and rock and roll, are increasingly rebelling by turning to right-wing extremism. Neo-nazi fashion, music and ideology have become an ever important part of German youth culture.

Where did this "German" image come from? It's hard to say who the first person was to show up to a party in a Lonsdale shirt, curse "the Russians" or download the latest CDs by Bremen's Germanic renegade heavy metal band Kategorie C.

But Christian, Stefan and Andy don't really care how it all started. They see just themselves as good kids, living in decent families in a small city west of Munich. They're in their late teens, about to graduate from high school. And they say that there are too many foreigners "in our country." They say that "they" should leave, and that then things would be sure to get better.


The EU and Germany have attempted to ban certain symbols such as the swastika. I think this actually creates more harm than good for many reasons. One concern is who determines what is acceptable or not. In the United States, we have freedom of speech and this guarantees the KKK the right to look like the silly rednecks that they are when they parade around town in their bedsheets. I think this excerpt underscores the argument that one cannot ban symbols or organizations. This only serves to mystify them and make them alluring. Germany's heart is in the right place, but they're creating a monster.

Torsten Lemmer, from Dusseldorf, the former head of publishing house Rock Nord, says that kids are most strongly drawn by anything illegal. In the past it was drugs, but now, says Lemmer, "it's banned CDs." The NPD has replaced LSD as the drug of choice.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Now the Dutch have said "nee" as well...

This can mean many things:

Such as the fear of a strong central power government
Many Europeans are put off the expansionist EU
Western Europe is put off by immigration of its poorer eastern members
Smaller nations like the Netherlands fear being a junior member to France and Germany
Resentment because of the Euro (the dutch voted against the Euro yet it still became their currency)
And several other issues...

But most importantly, it means that the Euro is finally using value against the dollar and I will be able to afford to travel to Europe again! So vote "no", "non", "nee", "nein" whatever it takes!
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