Thursday, May 10, 2012

Same-sex marriage espoused by President

09 MAY 2012
President Obama made an announcement in which he stated that he has decided to back the legality of marriage for same-sex couples.  There is resistance, the idea of legalizing same-sex marriage being a political football these days.  There's a lot of backlash in the press and from the more hardline religious right; which ought to surprise nobody, some of them are against anything Obama could do.

Religious or political conservatives often cite various Bible passages from the Old and New Testaments as their justification for opposing gay rights. Regionally, opposition to the gay rights movement has been strongest in the South and in other states with a large rural population. The Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, KS has used biblical injunctions against homosexuals and homosexual acts as the justification for a campaign against the United States and the US military, which continues with picketing of military burials and other confrontational activities.

It seems to me that we have more than enough instances in which people, usually young female people, are forced or coerced into having sex with someone they don't want for it to more than absorb all that righteous indignation and holy activism; and that after we solve that problem, then, if there's energy left and concern left, we can discuss why we're worried about what consenting adults do to one another.

The President, in essence has said that he is siding with logic and with the direction of social thought in the country.  And, of course, he is.  If you go back a few years, to the 1960s or so, and you look at US law and sentiment, we were a country in which there was, in many jurisdictions, a tacit open hunting season on homosexual males (especially).  Some people went out actively seeking gay men, certainly not using that term for them, for the purpose of beating and robbing them.

I'm not making this up. I remember, in Southern California in 1962, being invited to go along on an expedition to West Hollywood for the purpose of raising money by "rolling queers". There was some danger involved, I was told, because California law actually protected "them".   I declined, and although I'm a well-known coward, that wasn't the reason... 

I'd like to say that I was morally outraged enough to do something about it and notified the police of the planned activity; but that's not what happened, instead I backed away from associating with the people involved but otherwise did nothing.

I was young, I didn't actually know anyone (as far as I was aware, then) who was homosexual and hadn't even had the concept until I left home to go into the military a few months earlier.  There were some jokes and accusations going around in high school, just nothing that I took seriously or even, really, understood.

There was no public discussion of homosexuality back then, basically, it just was not mentioned by most people.  I would say that, while less well known, it was considered to be on par with heroin addiction in the public mind. Something dirty and disgusting that only evil losers would stoop to doing, to put it nicely.

But, in San Diego, there were a few men who were publicly gay.  Once in a while I would see a couple or a small group on Broadway; the guys wore their hair wrong - obviously not military, some wore facial make-up, and they dressed wrongly - maybe they weren't gay at all, maybe they were in a show or something - I have no idea.

Then in August of '62 a guy that was in my technical school at the Naval Training Center was arrested, in the barracks, by CID and taken away in handcuffs.  A little later the word went around that he had become "involved" with a "bad crowd" and was booted out of the service; the "bad crowd" was gay men.  Then, from September of 1962 until January of 1966 I wasn't in the country much, just short visits between deployments. 

As far as I know, there were no openly gay men in the US military in those days and probably very few closet gays, either.  The environment on shipboard would probably have been intolerable and being homosexual was strictly illegal; while performance of any homosexual acts would get you many years in prison if discovered, with a strong possibility of being fatal instead.

In June of 1967, we - my wife & 2 very young daughters and I, moved to Portland, Oregon and then the job I had taken caused us to move around a lot for the next four years; but in June of 1971 we were back in Portland.  My wife got a job managing a fish and chips restaurant that belonged to a small local Northwest chain.

We found that one of the restaurant managers in town was a gay man.   Portland has - and had, then - a fairly large population of gay men, and he seemed like a nice enough guy and was a pretty good manager.  A little later my wife hired a young man to work in her store whom we got to know and found out that he had moved from some little town in Montana to Portland because he was gay and the gay community in the city was well known.

Being gay and participating in gay sex was still illegal in most places in the country.  In 1972, a Tacoma, Washington teacher of twelve years with a perfect record was terminated after a former student outed him to the vice-principal. The courts upheld the firing as being just.  On June 30, 1986, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick, that homosexual sex was not protected under the citizen's right to privacy. 

At the end of 1989 there were still 24 states where any homosexual activity was likely to be illegal and some definitely was, the penalties weren't slight either.  There were thirteen states left in 2003, where homosexual acts were illegal,  when the US supreme court decided that all state sodomy laws were unconstitutional.

Since 1970 we have gone from a situation where any and all homosexual activity was illegal in every state except Illinois to a situation where, as of nine years ago, it is legal in all states between consenting adults in a private home. It only took 33 years.  But; as you might have noticed, the journey to extending normal privileges of citizenship, along with those fragile and often hotly contested things which the founding fathers were pleased to label as "rights" in the first ten amendments to our supreme law, to gays, has neither been without controversy nor blessed with universal acceptance as being the right thing to have done.

For several years I have favored the path that some other countries have used wherein the civil ceremony/contract is distinct from the religious contract.  A couple needs both in some countries in order to satisfy both the priest and the law. So I found it comfortable to suggest that the civil union was one thing and had little to do with marriage in a religious sense and therefore we could sidestep the issue by making the civil union unrelated to gender.  That, of course, satisfied almost nobody and I've decided that it's not about my comfort, anyway, and in reality has nothing at all to do with me.

Now, again, about all that outrage: how about doing something about all the sexual assault and sexual trafficking of young women against their will?  After you get that stuff stopped, then I'm willing to discuss the issue of homosexual equality - actually; I'm not, but I can find you some folks who would love to talk with you about it...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A deadly combination -- guns and 'stand your ground'

A deadly combination
By Mark NeJame

Mark NeJame is a CNN legal analyst and contributor and has practiced law, mainly as a criminal defense attorney, for more than 30 years. He is the founder and senior partner of NeJame, LaFay, Jancha, Ahmed, Barker and Joshi, P.A., in Orlando, Florida.

The famous, or infamous, Florida "Stand your ground" law:
Florida Statute 776.013 (3) states:
"A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

Mr. NeJame makes some interesting and, I think, valid points regarding the Florida statute; there's a lot more in his article at, but here's a quick look at his view of the problem with the law as it's written.

"This law applies a confusing blend of subjective and objective standards. Stand your ground is appropriate in many circumstances, but the lack of clarity in the statute needs to be addressed and re-evaluated, particularly when firearms are so readily accessible in public places.

The way the statute is written, an individual who observes a fistfight could conceivably shoot and kill the dominator in the fight if they reasonably believed that person was going to cause "great bodily harm" to the other.

Even if the two combatants knew that the fight was nothing more than a "good ol' boy" disagreement, the way the statute is written could allow a gun to be used if the observer reasonably and actually believed that great bodily harm could occur.

Moreover, merging the statute with overly relaxed gun laws could open the door for the guilty to walk away without consequence. Consider another gun-toting observer of the hypothetical fist fight, who is an enemy of one of the combatants."

I think it's worth considering the simple fact that in most states and U.S. jurisdictions a sworn peace officer does not have that amount of personal discretion over the use of deadly force, nor in my opinion should they. Do you want your police officers empowered legally to walk up to an altercation in progress and shoot one of the fighters without regard to the existence of a real deadly threat? Even more important, do you want everyone who can pass the legal requirements and monetary requirements for possessing a firearm to have that power by legal privilege. Our soldiers in Afghanistan don't have that degree of discretion over the use of deadly force.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Westboro Baptist Sewer

    Ordinarily I wouldn't hot link to someone else's graphics, but WBS says it's OK with them.
 "1955-2011 © Copyright Westboro Baptist Sewer. You may use any of our material free of charge for any reason."   Straight from the horse's a$$.

These folks, in my - as it's said these days - humble opinion, have gone far beyond the bounds of decency.  Apparently one of their leaders believes he has a direct line to the celestial throne and is privy to God's attitudes concerning us stupid and evil sinners.  I'm not here about the GL stuff except to note that these people are engaging in "hate speech" on a wholesale basis and if I did it I would be arrested.  I'm here about the disgusting and outrageous treatment that the so-called Christians are inflicting upon the families of our fallen service people.  Check out the friendly list below, taken directly from their website.

    6445 - soldiers that God has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    47,949 - pickets conducted by WBC.
    858 - cities that have been visited by WBC.
    1089 - weeks that WBC has held daily pickets on the mean streets of doomed america.
    117 - people whom God has cast into hell since you loaded this page. [this is a timed counter]*
    218,400,000+ - gallons of oil that God poured in the Gulf.
    $15.68 trillion+ - national debt of doomed america.
    8 - people that God saved in the flood.
    16,000,000,000 - people that God killed in the flood.
    144,000 - Jews that will be saved in these last days.
    0 - nanoseconds of sleep that WBC members lose over your opinions and feeeeellllliiiiiings.

I thought the Limbaughesque distortion of the word feelings was particularly infantile, and then failing - pointedly - to capitalize America while capitalizing Afghanistan and Iraq is another infantile touch.  It's not surprising that they've confused British Petroleum with God, it's obvious that they aren't tuned in to God... 
* It's a timed counter unless they really do have a direct link to the celestial throne, in which case it might be an actual count...
They apparently have several websites, there's a list of links on the GHF index page. 

The thing about them, the thing which brought them to my attention, is their disgusting behavior in picketing military funerals and their bragging about praying for the deaths of our service members.

And, just so we're communicating, I do not give a flying f*** about the opinions of a bunch of bigoted psuedo-Christian semi-humans like these sweethearts.  It's not about disagreement with their opinions, it's about believing that their actions are unconscionable!  And, I'll go a step farther; it's about believing that their actions in invading funerals in order to spew hatred and stupid incorrect religious nonsense should be illegal and should be stopped.

I do not accept that free exercise of their (or your, or my) protected religious freedom includes getting into my face and refusing to leave me alone.  It is time we reinstitute reasonable boundaries
for public actions by people.  The level of civility in this republic has degraded seriously over the past few decades.  Good manners are the lubrication for the gears of society.  Not that Westboro Baptist Sewer would know anything about good manners.

They hang out around 3701 SW 12th St. in Topeka, KS 66604 (for these folks the first three numbers of the zipcode make an apt statement) Phone: 785-273-0325, just in case you'd want to call or drop them a line.

That makes me think of the old "High-Brow" greeting card from the 1950s, it had a picture of a toilet with a guy using his fishing pole to dangle a hook in the water in the toilet bowl.  The caption was: "Thought I'd drop you a line."

I sometimes think that it was a mistake to repeal the anti-sedition laws.

 Westboro's GHF website 

 The link below should take you to one of their fliers, among other choice dreck it says:
"Thank God for 22 more dead troops.  We are praying for 22,000 more."

Apparently they have been making these fliers weekly and praying for the deaths of many thousands of our military members.  You can access their archive from their website, they're overweaningly prideful about their constant spitting onto the graves of our deceased warriors and into the faces of the bereaved families.

They have a campaign planned for Brownville, TX on the 20th

Another of their outrages: 

"obama is the antichrist

Any fair study of the scriptures coupled with the study of the signs of the times will convince almost anybody with a modicum of intelligence that the end of the world is drawing nigh. This is amazing stuff going on here, right before our eyes, unprecedented in the history of the world - and it fits the pattern set out in Revelation 13, when there’s a great beast supposed to rise out of the worldwide sea of troubled humanity. He’s arisen out of that filthy sea of restless humanity and captured the imagination of the nation and the world.  Barack Obama is the Antichrist, and is leading doomed america to her final destruction and the destruction of the world! We're not talking some vague, nebulus postulation, we're talking plain, straight BIble talk backed up by an overwhelming amount of real evidence - on the ground! Watch this fascinating, three-part documentary and check out the rest of the site for Bible perspective on the rise of Antichrist in the last hours of these last, dark days."

I know that some of my friends and family are not exactly what you might call "vigorous supporters" of President Obama, but don't you think this is just a bit overboard?  It's my considered opinion that the driving force behind Westboro Baptist Sewer is a lot more like the antichrist than is President Obama.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark died on May 1 while serving in Tarin Kowt

A U.S. Army captain in Afghanistan did not indicate any unease when he suddenly fell forward while on a video chat with his wife, who then spotted what appeared to be a bullet hole in a closet behind him, his widow said Sunday.

Susan Orellana-Clark's husband, Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, died last week while serving in Tarin Kowt, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) north of Kandahar. His widow's account offers new detail about what she saw happen from some 7,500 miles away, while also raising fresh questions as to how he died and why, according to her, it took two hours for anyone to come to his aid.

Orellana-Clark said in a statement that, when the two were chatting on Skype last Monday, "there was no sign that Capt. Clark was in any discomfort, nor did he indicate any alarm."
Then, Clark was "suddenly knocked forward," she said. Orellana-Clark said she saw what she described as a bullet hole behind her husband, as did several other individuals -- one of them a military member -- who came over and could still see the scene over the continuing Skype session.

Good ridense to bad rubbish,this followers a growing trend of terrorizing occupiers killing themselves

This story is soooo funny!

Dont Skype. Wear your helmet. Be alert for the enemy. Wondering why you are still in Afghanistan and will be until 2014? Blame Obama.

That all depends on the type of camera you're using.  A good HD camera can be had for under $100.

isu: nope I mean Obama--- Bush hasnt been President for 3 years now FYI and Obama said the plan is for us to withdraw from Afghanistan but not until 2014

obama started this war and now hundereds of thousands of  american citezins have died in the war. vote for romney to make it better here.

Ah, you five, I'm going to guess, and hope, that the lady won't read your comments. I did.  I just want you to know, there are people who find you creeps disgusting. 

Really, blame Obama? a better camera? funny? good riddance? Apparently you haven't a gram of humanity among you.  There's a reason we call you 'trolls' - inhuman monsters would be the reason.

Rickyjen, you are a complete idiot, the others are simply disgusting, evil and nasty, you are all of that and an idiot as well.  Still, you give me hope; at your level of brilliance some Republican idiots won't be able to find the polling place!

Ragging on newly bereaved widows and orphaned children of service people puts you squarely in the pit of the outhouse wallowing in and consuming the offal.


Philosophical issues regarding the concept of : 'blaming the victim'

Philosophical issues regarding the concept of : 'blaming the victim'

Some quoted thought from an interesting blog post:
Posted by Conner  at Out Of Darkness,  Alien abduction: 
"... I don’t feel it [abduction] is the greatest word to describe what is going on but it is still the best term we have at the moment.
Whether a person’s experience is positive, negative, neutral, a combination of all of these, or something else entirely, the person is still removed from their environment.
Even if an abductee is taken from one part of the house to the other, the person is controlled and removed from where they were.
Free will is taken away.
There is always some level of control [by the abductor] during an abduction.
How is this co-participating?
How is this empowering [me] exactly?
Isn’t co-participating a mutual agreement between parties on what activities will be taking place and when?  It’s not like the aliens call me up on my cell and say they are stopping by such and such a night and they are going to be doing this and that so I better get good sleep beforehand and make sure I don’t have a big day planned for the next day after they come around.
They never ask me if I want to participate in what they are doing.
It’s their ballgame and the game is rigged.
The idea that I agreed to abductions from a former life (soul contract) is insulting.
Did victims of crime or natural disasters agree to a soul contract?
Do people really believe that they would sign a contract that would condemn their family to misery, confusion, and helplessness?
Alien abduction does not happen in a vacuum, you know.
This religious concept [soul contract] conveniently puts all the blame squarely upon the abductee.
How spiritually enlightening is this?
Think about it.
"It’s your fault you got mugged because you were wearing that expensive watch."
It’s expedient to blame the victim so nobody has to think or deal with the problem.
It’s interesting to me that so many experiencers and contactees focus on their perceived religious aspects of the alien abduction phenomenon.
This tells me a great deal because whoever these aliens are, they don’t care about our religious beliefs. ..."

His point is, I think, well made as it refers to an instance, or repeated instances, of abduction by extraterrestrial entities. 

Never mind what I, or you, might believe concerning the objective reality of contacts with or abductions by extraterrestrials.

The questions about the reality of ET visiting the Earth aren't germane to this paper, that issue is for another time.

What he's expressing, the frustrations exhibited, seem authentic and reasonable when applied, both, to the entities doing the abducting and the humans writing about 'abductions' but ascribing some 'feel good' new age 'sweetness and light' to the motives of the ET abductors.

But that's not really my point here and now it's, instead, two lines Conner used as a throw-away analogy:

"It’s your fault you got mugged because you were wearing that expensive watch.
It’s expedient to blame the victim so nobody has to think or deal with the problem."

I've noticed that we older folks and especially we paternal type older folks are held guilty of "blaming the victim" almost any time we're unwise [now commonly thought to be a normal characteristic of the aged] enough to comment on a criminal assault upon a young woman committed by a male.

I have a couple of thoughts on that - to mention and to attempt to explain and, probably, to defend.

The first thing is; when a young woman informs you (or me) that she has been insulted, verbally assaulted or, God forbid, physically assaulted in a sexually oriented way by a male, no matter what your first thought is, the first response should always be something in the nature of, "Are you alright", or if she has been assaulted, "Have you seen a doctor, is there anything I can do to help you?" and in all cases there should follow, when the time seems reasonable some expression of outrage [or at the least, anger] that some man would treat her so badly.

Never respond with, "What ever possessed YOU to go THERE dressed like THAT?" nor any variation on the thought.

In fact, it would be best never to ask that question nor any variant of it of anyone with reference to her, never.

I know that asking that question does not imply that you think the victim is at fault for having asked to be assaulted; but that is what young women these days have been conditioned to infer from the question. 

If you ask it you will be labeling yourself as stupid and insensitive to female gender issues and unconcerned about women's rights, and did I mention STUPID. 

The young woman, or at least the vast majority of young women, believes that she should be free to go absolutely anywhere, wearing absolutely anything - or nothing, should she so desire!

And, of course, she is absolutely correct in so believing.  She should be able to go anywhere dressed any way she likes.  It really is that simple.

But; I should be able to park my car in any legal parking place and leave the key in the ignition and the windows down and the doors unlocked, too.  In fact, I can do that.  The problem is that if I do, there is a very small liklihood that my car will be there when I return; and that tends to be very inconvenient.

Overstating the obvious, I should be able to leave my home to go on a trip [whether to the corner store or to Brazil for a month] without concerning myself about locking the doors, too.

In plain point of fact, up until the summer of 1969, I used to park my car and leave the windows down and, sometimes, leave the key in the ignition.  And until that summer, I often didn't lock the house - and when I did, I knew that anybody who still had a skeleton key could unlock it.

During my childhood, up until 1958 anyway, we never locked the house and the cars parked in the driveway usually had the key in the ignition. 

Older GM cars had a little lever on the bezel of the ignition-lock, you could take out the key without locking the ignition and turn it on by turning that bezel, you didn't need a key unless someone had locked it.

When we moved into a newly built house in 1958 the doors actually had functional locks which took keys that you could not walk into the dime-store and buy over the counter. We still didn't lock it up very much and almost never locked the garage door.

In the summer of 1969 someone stole a few items from the unlocked glove-box in my unlocked car and one of our neighbors had some things stolen from their house.  We all [our neighbors and the people at our church] started locking doors and just never stopped doing so after that.

Still, we should be able to not lock our cars and our houses and expect people to stay out, shouldn't we?

'He was right, dead right, as he sped along; but he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong.'

I don't want to belabor the point, and I'm 90% certain that not a single, solitary woman of the paradigm I'm complaining about, ever will read this post.  [he said; but]
There's an old saying, I've heard it used all my life - you know, since the dark ages - it goes like this:
"Discretion is the better part of valor."

And that's all I'm saying, here.  We don't want our girls, our daughters, granddaughters and our friends to be afraid, we don't want them to feel that they have to ugly-down. Youth and beauty are, as we old folks know all too well, transient.  They're a gift of God to humankind, given to us for our joy.  

My point here is only that it's not an ideal society that we live in, we should be free and unafraid; but we have among us an unknown quantity of unidentified people who pervert and destroy, who take and befoul, who steal, assault and rape and even worse.

So, to the young people: Be free, enjoy your youth and beauty but be aware, be alert and practice discretion that your days may be long upon the Earth.  L'Chaim.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rods From God

There's an urban legend about a woman killed by a shaft of frozen urine fallen from a plane's leaking toilet.

Then there's the one about pennies dropped from the top of the Empire State Building, passing through pedestrians' skulls like bullets.

Then there's the one about telephone pole-sized tungsten rods dropping from an orbital weapons platform at 36,000 feet per second to impact the earth below with the force of a meteor strike.
Guess which one you won't find on Snopes under "stupid bullsh*t?"

Yes, enormous Swords of Damocles hanging in space are one more reason to lie awake at night, thinking about how much safer we feel thanks to science.

The so-called Rods From God system would have two satellites placed in orbit, one to control communication and targeting, the other containing the rods.

When released, nothing but gravity and a little remote guidance is needed to bring them down on target like the wrath of Zeus.

The brute force of hundred-kilogram rods traveling over 7,000 MPH makes them ideal for penetrating underground bunkers, your mother, and hardened nuclear missile silos.

You know, things you might find in a rogue state, in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Such treaties don't apply to hypervelocity rods, though they strike with the force of a tactical nuke, they produce no radioactive (and far less political) fallout.

The US Space Command (where we always claimed our Dad worked even before we knew it existed) says they plan to have this capability by 2025.

While on the subject of interesting approaches to weapons of, not exactly, mass destruction; have you heard about "rail-guns"?

A rail-gun, it seems isn't a big cannon that shoots old hardware from the local RR right-of-way.  Instead, it's an electric weapon which uses huge amounts of electric power (around 10 to 60 megajoules) for a few microseconds or so to create an extreme amount of magnetic repulsion between the weapon and its projectile. 

The net result is an extremely motivated projectile, perhaps a few pounds of aluminum (aluminium, for our British cousins) in the form of a gnarly big dart, proceeding targetward at around mach 10 or so.

The extreme acceleration and correspondingly over-the-top velocity mean that the projectile tends to be accompanied by a short column of flaming, overheated air as it pops out for a couple of hundred nautical miles in a few heartbeat's length before annihilating its unfortunate target in a violent outburst of energy caused by the irresistible force running dead-on into the immoveable object.

Perhaps some of this stuff interests me more than it will others because long-long ago I was a gunner in the Navy, and the rail-gun - for now, at any rate, will be a naval weapons system.  Or, it could be land-based. 

Because of its rather huge electrical current needs, a land-based system or one on a large ship, which has its own electrical generation equipment, will be the first uses.  As a shipboard system, it has some advantages which might not be obvious to people who've not been involved in naval gunnery and its logistics.

The projectiles are functional without the two liabilities which most burden navy ships as gun or missile platforms: no explosive propellant needed, and no bursting charges nor explosive warheads to be hauled around.

The rail-gun's projectile is inert, it's just a hunk of metal.  What makes it into a killer and a high-explosive is the kinetic energy imparted by the velocity with which it strikes the target.   If you think getting run into by a 500 grain bullet doing 2000 MPH is bad, and it is, consider the energy involved in stopping that great flaming slug from the rail-gun!

Of course, they're developing a discarding tungsten sabot round and working toward accelerations in the 60000 G range for a system with accuracy within three meters at two hundred nautical miles with a ten shots per minute cycle rate.  With that high a cycle speed it would be usable as an anti-aircraft system as well.

I know their fire-control systems are considerably advanced from the old days when we used vacuum-tubes in our target designation system and in our fire-control radar sets.  But we could only shoot about fifteen miles in those days and accuracy was about ten meters at ten miles, which meant the plane might get by the detonation without much, or any, damage.

So, we had to keep hitting him until he exploded.  Even with a twin mount and fairly rapid cycle rate it could take too long.  Even at mach 1 it doesn't take long to cover ten miles...   Maybe a minute.
Closing straight at you at around eight-hundred knots and flying at wave-top level, a jet fighter is an awesome beast.  You don't get to miss very many times on each run in by an enemy aircraft.