« June 2003 | Main | August 2003 »

July 29, 2003

English as a First Language

I was an unwilling party in one of the least intelligent conversations that I have ever heard today. Unwilling in the fact that I had to sit by and listen to this young woman spew garbage from her mouth while I waited for my food to finish microwaving.

For three minutes, I was subjected to this person telling a story that was frequently punctuated by words such as "fuuk'n" and "like" and sentences ending in "...and shit."

English is not an extremely complicated language and it really doesn't take a rocket scientist to speak it well. In fact, I have several friends that have learned English as a second language and can speak it very well.

I will admit that I am not always the most well spoken person on the planet. I do try, though, to avoid filling my conversations with junk that doesn't need to be there. I also admit that I throw in the occasional swear word, but I even try to keep most of that out.

People fill their speech with garbage when they have nothing truly intelligent to say. Excessively swearing does not make your speech more powerful, it only shows how ignorant you are.

I can only hope that the English language does not digress to the point where I have to listen to this type of thing long term. After three minutes, I was ready to beat my head against a wall. Any longer than that and I may have to learn how to speak Japanese.

July 28, 2003

Thanks for the memories...

This is an aside from the normal rants and raves that I have, but this event warrants a pause...

Bob Hope, one of the most prolific entertainers ever and the master of the one-liner died today at the age of 100. Mr. Hope was an institution in Hollywood and did quite a bit to lift the spirits of the military, and I can say that he will be missed.

Bob... Thanks for the memories.

July 22, 2003

Still no cure for cancer...

Just an update, there is still no cure for cancer.

While that may not surprise you, it does me. Especially when you have idiots that are spending precious research dollars figuring out such mundane things such as how Kansas is flatter than a pancake. Yes, that is right. There are morons somewhere that have actually figured out that, on average, Kansas is flatter than a pancake.

Ok, not particularly morons. When I read their research, these guys come off as really smart. I guess the thing that irks me is that, while the science behind what they are doing is sound, it is still bogus and really doesn't amount to anything. Who cares that Kansas is flatter than a pancake? For one, I could care less.

In fact, since I live in Kansas, I can categorically say that Kansas isn't flat. In fact, for anyone that says it is, I challenge you to ride through parts of it on a bike. If you can do it without breaking a sweat, then I will let you get away with saying that. Until then, you should just believe me... Kansas isn't flat.

One other thing... based on the scale, I would think that the Hemilayas would be flatter than a pancake. Take for instance a small crevasse in a pancake... It may measure a millimeter in actual size, but when blown up millions or billions of times to be in similar scale with Tibet, that same crevasse could probably reach to the moon.

Don't we have better things to spend our research money on than stupid things like this?

July 20, 2003

Mislabeling

With all of the turmoil going on in the world today, CNN and other news outlets have to spend a lot of time reporting on the latest skirmish somewhere. They are also spending a lot of time telling us who is right and wrong and how we should feel about it. Take, for example, the following story that could have run on CNN if the time was right...


Earlier today, a group of about 150 masked and well-armed rebels overpowered the guards at the docks, broke in to three cargo ships there and destroyed the cargo that had yet to be unloaded. As the cargo was being destroyed a large group of onlookers cheered. The cargo, which was primarily staple supplies, was destined for the people of the small struggling country.
The leader of the rebels was quoted as saying that the they were merely attempting to ensure that their point was heard and to let the world know that the occupying government was not welcome.
In response, the leader of the administration said that the rebels were not doing anything but hurting themselves.

This story could have happened in Iraq. It could have happened in Afganistan. The leader of the rebel group could be any villainous person that thrives on disorder and chaos.

Most people seeing this story would definitely think that these rebels are terrorists. That is what the commentators on CNN or any of the major media outlets would probably say. These people, whether it be the Iraqis or the Afgans, are only hurting themselves. At least that is what we are led to believe...

In reality, that story is about the Boston Teaparty. The rebel leader was Samual Adams, a prominent journalist of the time. The leader of the administration was King George III of England.

That kinda puts the whole thing in a different light, doesn't it? One simple twist and the good guys become the bad guys and the bad guys are suddenly the benevolent protectors that are coming in to save the world.

What irks me is that the media is quick to label anyone who doesn't see things the way that they think we should a fanatic or militant. They label anyone in civilian clothes that shoots at a soldier in a combat area a terrorist. While they may be right, that person could be a fanatic or could be a terrorist, they are quick to throw the label around. And it is the labels that are the hardest thing to get past.

Were the American colonists terrorists? If the current media were reporting on the situation, then the answer would be yes. The British stood in straight lines in bright red uniforms and the American militia, who were mostly farmers in civilian clothes, stood behind trees and shot at them. They were practicing the best warfare that they could against a much better armed and organized army. Sounds a lot like what is going on in Iraq right now. That doesn't necessarily make them terrorists.

"You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way." - Will Rogers, Dec. 23, 1929

July 11, 2003

You have to be kidding!

First it was Jessie Ventura. Then it was Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now, CNN is reporting that Jerry Springer is going to file to run on the Democratic ticket for the Senate race in Ohio. Yes, that Jerry Springer.

Currently Springer is running infomercials in various states trying to gather money and support for his bid. One of the humorous things is that he isn't running them in Ohio. He will run them in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, Tennessee, New Orleans, San Antonio and New York. He says he isn't running them in Ohio because of equal time laws, but the Federal Communication Act of 1934 only specifies that stations that run the political ads have to offer the same amount of time for the same price to all candidates. If his competitors want to buy half-hour infomercials, so be it. I wonder if it is more along the lines that he wants to see how much money he can raise before he really throws his hat in the ring.

When I first heard about this, my first thought is that even the most liberal Democrats had to be thinking, "Oh, crap." This man is known as the ring master for the biggest trailer trash freakshow on the planet and he may actually have a chance of becoming a Senator. Hey, it worked for Jessie Ventura. I am not sure that anyone other than Ventura actually thought he had a chance to win and look what he did. Not only did he win, but he won convincingly.

Then, after some time, I got to thinking about it. Who better than Jerry Springer to join the United States Senate? He has been used to dealing with large groups of unruly people who are unwilling to work together. He has spent a lot of time working with some of the most disfunctional human beings on the planet. Sounds like this experience should help him out quite a bit if should actually win his bid to become a senator. The only thing that would be missing in this case is his buddy Steve running around and knocking heads together when people start getting a little too riled up.

All kidding aside, it would not surprise me if Jerry doesn't get elected. It would scare the hell out of me, but it wouldn't surprise me. In my opinion, Jerry Springer is not the type of person that should be elected to the senate, but what I think really doesn't matter. What matters is the people who vote in Ohio, and who better that Springer to get the vote out.

"You have all the characteristics of a popular politician: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner." -Aristophanes in 424 B.C.

July 08, 2003

Flash in the Pan

For some time I have been trying to understand the situation going on in the middle east in regards to Israel and Palestine. One of the most baffling phenomenon that has come out of this whole situation is the fact that people have become willing to blow them selves up to make a point.

This is something that I really don't understand. I can't see how a person can wake up one day and come to the realization that they need to strap on a vest that contains 50 pounds of explosives, shrapnel and rat poison and then go blow themselves up on a bus or in a mall. I suppose you could say that I am apathetic, but I can't think of any cause that I care enough about that would make me even come close to doing that. I may volunteer some time or donate some money, but that is about the extent of it.

In my case, I suppose that part of my apathy is because I have a pretty good life. I have a beautiful wife, a wonderful child, a good job and opportunity ahead of me. From what I have read, most Palestinian people feel that they have no opportunity. Nothing to look forward to in life. If you have read any information on this ongoing conflict, you can see that the Palestinian people are living in such an atmosphere of oppression that there are very few avenues for escape.

What makes it worse, is there is someone to blame. There is a face that can be associated with the pain and frustration that these people feel. The Israeli government hasn't been doing much to help alleviate the situation. either. In the United States, or most other countries in the world, if a citizen throws a rock at a cop, they will get arrested. In the Gaza Strip, if a Palestinian throws a rock at an Israeli cop, the Israeli cop throws a grenade back.

This level of frustration and overwhelming firepower could lead someone to believe that they have nothing to lose by blowing themselves up and everything to gain by taking some of the people that are associated with their pain with them. In some cases, they are successful. Successful in the fact that they are dead and feeling no more pain. They have escaped. Successful in the fact that they may have taken someone with them. They have caused pain in return. It is a quick hit. A flash in the pan.

In reality, though, what have they accomplished? Escalating pain and tension. After these bombings the Isreali government goes into Palestinian neighborhoods with gunships and bulldozers to destroy the homes of those suspected of being involved. Palestinians die, thus creating more poeple in pain. The the cycle starts again. Death leads to pain which leads back to more death. It is a circular reference.

I don't know what the solution is, or if there really is a solution at all. There has always been conflict in this region. People have been fighting over that land for hundreds of years. The balance of power has shifted back and forth throughout that time. One group is stronger and better armed than the other, which leads to the opression of other groups.

One thing that we can hope for is that the current attempt at peace works and that the cycle can be broken.

July 07, 2003

If you can't drive 55...

I was almost killed last week. I know that this will be very disturbing to my loyal fan, but it is true. Now this is different from most of the times that I have almost been killed... this one wasn't my fault. I was minding my own business, driving down the interstate to a client meeting when a woman driving a very large car decided that she needed to exit right here, right now. The problem was, she had to cross five lanes of traffic to go where she needed, and I was in the way. The one thing that I did notice while I was avoiding the ditch at the side of the road was that she had to be at least 80 years old.

I know that this woman did not even recognize the fact that anyone else was on the road. She had someplace to go, pointed her car in that direction and went.

To me, this poses an interesting question. Why was this woman driving? At its simplest, because she could. No one could stand in her way. At least in Kansas, this is the case. When it comes time to renew your license, the state sends you the test and the answer booklet. All you have to do is fill out the test, take it to the DMV, pay your $25 and you have a license. It can't be much easier than that. The state does not make sure that you have the mobility, strength or mental capacity to operate a vehicle; only that you can produce a completed test and pay the required fee. It seems to me that this could create a situation where a lot of people that don't have the ability to drive are on the road when they really shouldn't.

Now, I am sure that everyone has seen people that shouldn't drive on the road. There are bad drivers that are 25 and there are bad drivers that are 75. It just seems to me that there are a great deal of elderly drivers that really do not have the ability do drive a car that do because they can.

Now, I am not advocating that every elderly driver have their license removed. I know that being able do drive gives people mobility and freedom that they are not afforded without a car and those who can should be afforded that freedom. My thought is that those who do not have the physical or mental ability should not be allowed to have a license. Not that this will stop people from driving, but it is a start. Then, make sure that a licensed driver is the registered owner of the car.

So, how do we keep people who shouldn't be driving off the road? Simple. Instead of giving away licenses to anyone who can pay the fee, force people to take a driving test. Not just the elderly. Everyone. This has been tried before in Kansas. It shouldn't surprise you that the AARP was the biggest lobby against this legislation. They want to make sure that the people that they represent stay happy. The state also felt as though it would cost too much to implement.

This again is an easy solution. To put it simply, driving is a privelege not a right. It is a right that you should have to pay for. In order to support the testing structure, make people pay for it. Then, you create a self supporting structure that is not a revenue drain. In the end, you create a self supporting revenue structure that makes the roads safer.

All-in-all, I'm for it. Especially if it means I live another day to write another post.