Friday, June 30, 2006

Enforcing the Double Standard

The other night at work, I heard this girl talking incessantly about one of her friends. She nattered on about how this other girl was such a slut, then discussed some of the guys she'd been with, wondering if one in particular was number twenty or number twenty one. She also asked one of the guys in there why in the world he'd been with her if he'd known how many other men she'd been with. Not satisfied with discussing her "friend's" sex life with everyone within earshot, she also said the girl didn't know how to behave in public, which I took to me that the girl was too enthusiastic about things from how this one described it.

After ripping her up one side and down the other, she said, "But I'm still her friend; she's a lot of fun to be with." I gave her an incredulous look, as if to say, "With 'friends' like you, who needs enemies?"

When she called her libertine friend a "slut", I had to control myself from asking her, "You know, a 'slut' is just someone who gets more sex than you do!"

The other guys there didn't seem to know just how to respond, either. Though the young guys were laughing a bit at the appropriate pauses, I saw that they were mainly just letting her talk and vent, particularly the one that had been with the girl under discussion.

This is but one example of why I believe that while men may have instituted the double standard, nowadays, it is more often women who are the ones enforcing and perpetuating it. During the entire time this girl was cutting the other one down for being a slut, she never once spoke disparagingly of the twenty plus guys the "slut" had been with. What's up with that? No one is a "slut" all by themselves in a vacuum. As for me, I'm very appreciative of all the "sluts" in the world, the ones who believe that sexual freedom is for both men and women.

The gossiping girl knew that her friend was more "fun" that most of her other friends, but couldn't quite grasp the idea that part of what made her friend uniquely so was her libertine attitude.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Taking Young Children Out in Public

As most of you know, I raised my son alone from the time before he was a year old. I really had no idea on how to go about it, except to do things the way I remember my parents did with me, and to ask my father for advice, when I couldn't remember.

The other day, I was waiting in line at the grocery store. In the little seat of the grocery cart in front of me, was a little boy, somewhere between one and two years old, with his mother. The boy was wearing nothing at all, except for a disposable diaper: no shirt, no pants, no socks, no shoes; nothing. While we stood waiting for our respective turns at the register, the mother opened a pack of Juicy Fruit gum she'd had yet to pay for and gave a stick to the child to chew.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing -- didn't the woman know better than to give gum to such a young child, just barely old enough to walk? Didn't she realize he could choke on that?

I'd already been looking at the mother askance because she'd brought him out in public with nothing more on than a diaper. I can remember well my father making comments about people who let their kids run around barefoot in stores, and other places in public. He pointed out that he and my mother had never done that with us, as they worried about things we could step in that would hurt our feet while out in public; glass, hot tar, sharp objects, etc. I remember being allowed to run around barefoot at home in the yard when I was a kid, but when we went out, I had to have something on my feet, even if just a pair of flip flops.

And even though it was a hot day, the kid should have had some shorts on over his diaper and a tshirt -- it had to be hot sitting in his car seat with no shirt to protect his back from the hot vinyl of the seat.

I looked closely at the mother, who looked like an extra from the movie Deliverance and figured she just didn't know any better.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Senate Distractions

As I write this entry, the Senate is preparing to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban the burning or desecration of the U.S. flag. Not long ago, it voted on legislation to "protect" marriage, by legally defining it as being between one man and one woman only.

This is what the Senate considers worthy of its time, while millions of Americans are unemployed/underemployed, our soldiers are dying on a fool's errand in Iraq, and other important, pressing issues too numerous to mention. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

While I personally would never burn a flag, because I consider doing so on the lines of burning books, I don't think we need an amendment protecting a symbol that is, after all, only a piece of cloth. While burning a flag is in bad taste and an extreme form of expressing one's opinion, doing so is simply a gesture. It hurts no real people, except maybe their feelings.

We've got real issues affecting millions of real people in the country to concern ourselves with. Let's concentrate on those and not be distracted by emotional hot button issues such as flag burning and "protecting" legal heterosexual monogamous marriage when we go to the polls in November.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Thoughts on the JonBenet Ramsey Murder

Patsy Ramsey, mother of murder victim JonBenet Ramsey, died over the weekend of ovarian cancer. She was 49.

After reading about this, I thought again of the murder of six year old JonBenet. Though she was killed ten years ago, no arrests were ever made.

I believe that JonBenet's murder was connected to her participation in child beauty pageants. Patsy Ramsey, a former beauty queen herself, had entered JonBenet into these pageants from a very young age, before she was even old enough to decide for herself whether she wanted to participate in them.

At the time of her murder, photos of JonBenet appeared everywhere in the media, along with videos of her performing during some of these pageants. Every photo of the six year old girl, without exception, showed her fully made up, wearing more makeup than most adult women wear. Her facial expression, no doubt carefully coached, was that of pouty sensuality. Never once was a photo shown of her without makeup, wearing play clothes, or ever looking remotely like the six year old little girl she was.

Watching the video of her performing during a pageant was even worse. She wore a suggestive outfit and her routine was equally suggestive, complete with bump and grind moves.

Seeing the photos and the pageant footage made me realize that the children's pageant industry is nothing more than a source of soft core pedophilia porn. I have no doubt that the audiences of such pageants, in addition to the family and friends of these little girls, also contain not more than a few pedophiles out for a cheap fix.

It's quite possible that JonBenet's killer was one of these pedophiles in the audience.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hoooooold It!

My uncle, my mother's youngest brother, was born when she was twenty years old and already married to my father. He and my brother are only one year apart in age.

When my brother started kindergarten, he went to the same school where our uncle would be starting the first grade. The school was in the neighborhood they both lived in, so they walked to school.

My brother was apprehensive, to say the least, about starting school, and being away from his parents for so many hours in a day. But he went to school because he had to and tried to make the best of it.

He managed fairly well until he realized he had to go to the bathroom; he needed to go number two. He'd been in the bathrooms once before and had been frightened by the loud noise the school toilets made when being flushed. Not wanting to deal with that, he decided to simply hold it until he got home.

But he wasn't able to do so, and rather than face the loud toilets, he messed his pants. My uncle was called out of his first grade class to walk my brother home to get cleaned up.

I can remember my mother telling me this story, laughing her ass off, remembering how funny it looked when my brother got home, walking all spraddle-legged, with the load in his pants swaying back and forth as he walked.

Glad I never did anything like that.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bride or Crime Victim?

Last night, while listening to talk radio, the host mentioned a Colorado case involving a young woman who had entered into a common law marriage at the age of 15 with a 38 year old man. The state court of appeals ruled that she was old enough to marry, based on English common law, reversing a lower court decision that she was too young to marry at 15.

While the three-judge panel did not set a specific minimum age for such marriages, it said they could be legal for girls at 12 and boys at 14 under English common law, which Colorado recognizes.

I googled marrigeable age for other states, and came up with a few states that allow marriage under certain circumstances for very young people: Massachusetts with 12 for females, 14 for males, New Hampshire with 13 for females, 14 for males, and New York and Alabama with 14 for both sexes.

This left me scratching my head in puzzlement. With all the recent attention and focus on laws against pedophilia, molestation, and sexual predation, this ruling doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, especially considering that the groom in this case is serving a prison term for a sexual assault on a child, unrelated to this case.

This is also contrary to the PROTECT Act of 2003 signed by President Bush, which defines
illicit sexual conduct as including commercial sex with anyone under 18, and all sex with anyone under 16. Previous US law was less strict, only punishing those having sex either in contravention of local laws OR in commerce (prostitution); but did not prohibit non-commercial sex with, for example, a 14 year-old if such sex was legal in the foreign territory.

The sources I googled also noted that marriageable age and age of consent differ in many jurisdictions, with the marrigeable age sometimes being lower than the age of consent.

I don't get it. A marriage license magically nullifies what would otherwise be considered pedophilia, molestation, and/or statutory rape?
This doesn't make any sense; if you're considered old enough to get married, you're old enough to consent to sex, married or not.

In a country that's jumped on the "stamp out sexual predators" bandwagon, some courts convict 18 year old boys who have sex with their 15 year old girlfriends, but it's OK with them if a 38 year old convicted sex offender has sex with a 15 year old because they say they're "married". You can't have it both ways. Either a 15 year old is capable of consenting to sex or she isn't. Whether or not she is married should be a moot point.

Some have called for life imprisonment and even the death sentence for those convicted of sexual crimes. Many of these same people make little distinction between violent offenses, discrepancy in age between those involved, or consent given in the case of statutory offenses.

I'm sorry, but an 18 year old having consensual sex with his 15 year old girlfriend isn't a crime in my book and shouldn't even be compared with a 40 year old man who brutally rapes a ten year old girl. Yet, in many jurisdictions both men would have to register as "sex offenders", and potential employers and landlords would not take the time to distinguish between the two before refusing both men employment and lodging.

While it is absolutely essential to protect children from sexual assault by adults, it is a mistake to apply a broad brush to this issue. Because this is such an emotionally charged issue, it is of vital importance that laws and penalties enacted for such offenses be based on rational principles with a sound legal footing, and not based on emotion. It is essential to classify different forms of sexual offenses and to assign penalties that fit the crime.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Remembering My Father

It's Father's Day again, the 11th I've had without my father. I've not really celebrated the holiday since his death. Father's Day was always about my Dad, not me, though I've been a father myself for the last 25 years.

The role of father has always felt like an ill-fitting suit of clothes on me -- something that's never been quite natural or comfortable to me. I feel ill at ease with Father's Day for myself, as parenthood wasn't anything I ever sought out; rather, I was dragged kicking and screaming into fatherhood. And though I stepped up to the plate and did what was necessary when I became a single custodial parent by default, I did so mainly out of duty and never with much enthusiasm. I was just very lucky that my father was there by my side, willing to do whatever he could for my son and I.

I couldn't have done it without my father. He was there for my son when I worked swing shifts as a police officer and when I was off doing my own thing. When I couldn't afford everything my son needed, my father made up the difference. He went to parent/teacher meetings, to doctor appointments, took my son and his friends places, made his home the house on the block where all my son's friends could come to play, spent hours with him just hanging out, you name it. He had the time, he had the patience, and most importantly, he had the desire to raise my son.

Indeed, everything good my son is, is because of my father, not because of me. I spent most of his childhood as a detached father, to say the least. I am a selfish man -- I was a selfish father, too. Though I saw to my son's needs as best as I could, my own needs always still came first. My father put my son first, me second, and himself last.

My son was the only one of the four grandchildren who got to know my father well on a daily basis. To this day, he knows he was the luckiest one of the grandchildren.

Thank you, Dad. For everything.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Living a Lie?

I've frequently heard the idea put forth that gay people should have equal rights to marry because they did not choose to be gay; that they were "born that way" and cannot choose who they love. Whether or not this is true, I cannot say one way or the other. However, it shouldn't matter why a person is gay; it's not something they should have to justify first before they can have the right to legal marriage

But some of the same people advocating gay marriage say that the option of legal marriage should not extend to nonmonogamous people. Indeed, conservative pro gay marriage advocate, Jonathan Rauch has categorically stated, "Anyone who can love two women can love one of them". In other words, he wants marriage to expand for gay people, but nonmonogamous people simply need to cut off one of their toes if the current marriage shoe doesn't fit.

Some gay people, trying desperately to be straight, have entered into heterosexual marriages, hoping this will "cure" them of homosexuality. This, with few exceptions, never works. Some suffer in silence with all the desperation that comes with living a lie, while others live one life publicly with their straight spouses and family while at at the same time expressing their true selves in secret. Eventually, many cannot stand either being a martyr or living a double life, so they finally come out of the closet, disrupting the lives of all around them, such as with former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who came out two years ago and resigned his post, after living for years in a heterosexual marriage and fathering children.

Happily, however, most gay and lesbian people nowadays no longer try to deny their basic natures nor enter into unions that go against their true sexual orientation.

I submit that this should become more prevalent with those whose natures are essentially nonmonogamous. Nonmonogamous people in monogamous marriages experience many of the same things as gay people in heterosexual marriages do: living as martyrs, or much more often, living a dishonest, double life.

Most nonmonogamous people enter into monogamous marriages. One difference the nonmonogamous have with monogamous gays is that there isn't really much of a movement pushing for the civil rights of nonmonogamous people. Further clouding the issue is that most NMs have not taken a good look at themselves and self identified as such.

But make no mistake about it; there are millions of people who are more suited for honest and open nonmonogamous relationships of various types. The high rates of adultery and multiple serial monogamous marriages leave no doubt in my mind that this is so

Such people would be happier by openly entering into nonmonogamous relationships of various types than by trying to deny their true inclinations and trying to squeeze themselves into the "one size fits all" model of monogamous marriage. And so would their monogamous spouses and families hurt by adultery, divorce, and multiple remarriages.

With both gays and nonmonogamous people free to openly enter into relationships of their own choosing, heterosexual, monogamous marriage would finally truly be a choice for those who are actually heterosexual and/or monogamous.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's Not What You Say, But How You Say It

Over the last few days, I've been thinking about Ann Coulter and others like her on both sides of the political aisle. I've noticed that no one is lukewarm about her: people either love or hate her. There's very little indifference. She's an extremist and the reactions to her are likewise extreme.

I have no problem with her or anyone else expressing their opinions, no matter how extreme they may be. Freedom of speech is a core American value that cannot be abridged and it is never more apparent when we are confronted by those as deliberately offensive as Coulter and her clones.

But there is such a thing as responsible journalism. We have to question what the purpose of a person's words are, what they seek to elicit. In all her books and media appearances, Coulter is seeking to inflame, incite, insult, and most importantly, to divide. She's not presenting her ideas in a reasonable, respectful manner to try to persuade. She cannot write or speak without frequently resorting to ad hominems. She seeks to strengthen the "Us against Them" mentality with every word she writes or speaks.

I've written about a lot of controversial topics on my blogs over the last two years, with opinions that are decidely not in the mainstream. But I've strived to do so in a non-judgemental manner, without belittling those who hold opposing viewpoints as much as I can.

But that is because my primary goal is to make people think outside the box and to consider new ideas -- or old ideas in a new light. I do not seek to insult or to divide; I seek to find common threads on which we can all agree and to build from.

Instead of an us against them mentality, I strive to remind people that "different strokes for different folks" is a good thing, and illustrate that we all don't have to be or think the same in order to work together and be united as a nation.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Political Roots

Were you interested in politics when you were growing up?

I grew up in a family that regularly discussed politics and current events at the dinner table and at family gatherings. I remember hearing issues being discussed from my earliest years, when I'd be playing under the table as my parents and other older family members talked.

I spent the first ten years of my life in New England, then, as now, a strongly Democratic region of blue states. My parents, like a good many people in our area, were yellow dog Democrats; that is, they'd rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican. So, it's not surprising that I grew up to share my parents' liberal values, though, admittedly, I've taken them further than they did, adding some libertarian ideas into the mix as well.

I can remember watching election returns on TV as a kid, probably from the 1968 election onwards. 1968 was a turbulent political year, with the King and Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam war and its protesters, women's rights, and other controversial issues often being in the forefront of the news.

We discussed all these things in school, and we even had a mock election in my fifth grade class. Like my parents were to do in the real election, I voted for Hubert Humphrey. I remember being totally appalled to find out that my best friend's family was Republican and would be voting for Richard Nixon.

I remember that even in our art class, the election was covered. They had us to design political signs for the candidates. My best friend and I each did one for our respective candidates, then we got together and did a parody sign for the George Wallace campaign, covering it with swastikas. Naturally, we didn't show this one to the teacher, but took it home as a shared private joke.

I continued to follow the elections throughout the rest of my childhood and couldn't wait until I could vote for real. I was lucky enough to turn 18 in an election year, 1976, when I proudly cast my first vote for Jimmy Carter.

My siblings were largely indifferent to politics for most of their lives. My sister had never voted until 2004, until George Bush's abysmal first term shook her out of her apathy and she finally cast her first vote at the age of 56.

My son has been similarly apathetic, but, he, too took an interest in the issues in 2004, discussing them with me and watching the returns, though he doggedly refused to vote. He told me his vote would be "wasted" in the red state we live in, simply one blue drop into a red sea. Even though I told him that if everyone who felt that way voted anyway they could make a difference, he still refused to vote. Pity.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Love the Sin?: Review

Love the Sin : Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance

Janet R. Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini

Date: 15 April, 2004 — $11.05 — Book

product page


Review of Love the Sin : Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance

This book tackles the issue of sexual freedom from the interesting perspective of comparing the freedom of sexual expression to that of religious freedom. While the book's main focus is on the rights of gays and lesbians, the viewpoints presented in this book apply just as well to all sexual minorities.

The authors point out that the basis for all state and federal laws regulating consensual adult activity are religious in origin. Civil laws regulating American marriage are a place where religious ideas about the "proper" form of intimate relationships have been enforced as "secular" law.

Marriage was a religious institution until the evolution of civil law. The authors address the question of whether it would be best to offer everyone the right to marry, or does our constitutional commitment to religious freedom actually require that the government get out of the marriage business altogether?

The First Amendment requires both the disestablishment of religion and protection for the free exercise of religion, which includes all religions and the right not to practice religion as well. If marriage is based on religion, it too, should be disestablished, thus protecting the free exercise of sexuality.

The authors also question why religion is considered to be an appropriate basis for public policies concerning sex, but wonder why this religious base isn't extended to other moral issues such as poverty, the death penalty, environmental issues, etc. What makes sex different?

They note that on one hand, sex is seen as a private matter by many people but that it's also seen as having amazing powers that can either make or break the entire nations's well being.

To those who take the second view, it seems logical that sex must be regulated, controlled -- domesticated. Seeing sex as a potentially destructive power justifies to them extensive regulations concerning sex that otherwise go against the high value in which freedom is placed in this country,

The authors point out that by regulating sex, the state also attempts to regulate family life. This is because such regulations actually define what legally counts as family.

Advocates of gay and lesbian rights often appeal to nature, saying that homosexuals are "born that way", in much the same way that people cannot choose their race. The authors assert that it shouldn't matter why someone is homosexual, that to say one is gay because they can't help it is tantamount to saying it's like they don't know any better, as if there's something inherently wrong with being gay.

They believe it is better to link sexual freedom not to race, but rather to relgious freedom. That is, we aren't born any particular religion that we cannot change -- we choose what, if any, religion we will practice and the right to do so is protected by the Constitution. Likewise, people shouldn't have to justify why they're gay in order to enjoy the same freedom in regards to sexual practices.

The authors also discuss the pitfalls of the idea of "tolerance". They point out that "tolerance" is extended to homosexuals on the conditions they become "just like everyone else", such as entering into a monogamous marriage. However, tolerance doesn't include sexual minorities, gay and straight, who don't want to be "like everybody else" and who value and want something else.

These ideas and more are explored in depth in this well written and timely book. It will make many people think differently that will give a new perspective on the gay marriage issue and that of sexual freedom in general.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Immigration Issues: Past and Present

In recent weeks, I've heard a lot of talk about the issue of illegal immigration. I read that the number of illegal aliens in this country, mainly of Hispanic origin, is 12 million and steadily increasing.

This is a troubling statistic. While I don't blame the illegals personally for wanting to come here and make a better life for themselves, I do blame the companies that bring them here as cheap labor into a job market already overburdened with unemployed and underemployed American citizens. The idea of our southern border being about as secure as Stalag 13's barbed wire fences is another alarming thought, considering our recent and ongoing problems with terrorism.

Recalling my history classes, I remember that in the late 1930s and early 1940s, thousands of Jews fled Germany looking for refuge safe from the reach of the Nazis. Like most countries at the time, the United States refused almost all of them entry, doggedly sticking to the immigration quotas that existed at that time. Never mind that our government no doubt knew of the extermination camps through aerial reconnaissance and other sources.

Rules were rules, and as a result, many people who could have been saved, were rounded up by the Nazis and exterminated. Why the US and the UK could not offer these people, fleeing for their lives, at least temporary refuge until the war was over, I cannot fathom.

But today's illegal aliens are not running for their very lives. They may be fleeing hopeless economic conditions, but that's not enough of a reason to allow them to bypass the accepted legal procedures to legally immigrate to the US. They need to file their forms, wait their turn and do it the right way


Thursday, June 8, 2006

Making Money From the Grief of Others

Extremist reactionary author Ann Coulter has stuck her bony foot in her mouth again.

In her newest book "Godless Liberals", Coulter reviles four women made widows on September 11, 2001 in the World Trade bombing, calling them "witches" who "reveled" in their status as "celebrities". "
I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much," Coulter wrote in the book.

To paraphrase Barbara Bush, the only "witch" I see here is Coulter. And it really starts with a B.

Coulter's attack on these particular women no doubt stems from the simple fact that they've publicly criticized President Bush's handling of the incident and that they formed a group urging investigation of the events of September 11th. And let's not forget they committed the unpardonable sin of supporting John Kerry in 2004.

She criticized them for making a campaign advertisement for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry in 2004, and added: "By the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy..."

For shame. Shame on Ann Coulter for writing this incendiary, sensationalist garbage, and using the grief of these women to line her own pockets. Shame to the buyers who have made this book presently number one on the Amazon best seller list.

Every good American, liberal, conservative, and otherwise, ought to stop giving her the attention she so desperately craves, and maybe she'll soon fade into oblivion, along with her ideological compatriot, Fred Phelps.


Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Up and Down

There are many phrases in the English language that contain words implying direction, when no direction is implied in the meaning.

We say "slow up" and "slow down" to convey the same meaning, though one isn't necessarily slowing with a particular direction in mind. Nor would we ever say "slow sideways".

But though we urge people to "hurry up", we never urge them to "hurry down" in the same sense, unless they read an ad urges them to "hurry down to the XYZ store for great savings!"

"Sit up" and "sit down" have complementary meanings that do involve direction. "Stand up" is the opposite movement from "sit down", but "stand down" isn't the opposite of "sit up".

We "wake up", but we don't "sleep down".

Parents tell their children to "settle down", but they never tell them to "settle up" -- unless the kids owe their parents money!

People "boogie down", but they never "boogie up". They also "fuck up", but never "fuck down", though I'd be willing to give it a try!

We "put people down", to insult them, but to "put people up", is to offer them lodging and hospitality.

One can "put up with" something or someone, but we can't "put down with" the same thing. And then there's "Put in" and "put out", which can both involve the sex act, but that's for another post on "in and out"!


Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Some Old Journal Entries

Last night, I found an old journal I'd written during my years on the police force. Following are some entries from that journal:

July 18, 1988

I had an interesting female shoplifter from the supermarket last night. I took her to the jail, where the female jailer took her to the bathroom to search her for any other shoplifted items she might have had hidden about her person.

The jailer had her to lift her skirt, which revealed some kind of bloomer type pants underneath. There was a rip about where the leg met the torso and the suspect had a package of barbecue beef wrapped like hamburger meat, half-eaten, that she'd stuffed up there. And she wasn't wearing any panties, either. At first, the jailer thought she was having her period and that the pad had slipped.

I'm surprised that I didn't smell anything in the police car because when the woman pulled the package out from between her legs, the stench almost made the jailer faint -- it would have knocked a buzzard off a carcass!

I may never eat barbecue beef ever again.

August 3, 1988

Yesterday, one of our regular winos was found dead down on the viaduct. One of the cab drivers down there called it in, saying they saw someone they thought might be dead lying on the railroad tracks. It turned out that he'd slipped and hit his head, but that isn't what killed him. It turned out when he fell, he got his head wedged between two concrete pillars and it had caved in the side of his head and probably broke his neck. He had been dead for some time as rigor had completely set in and EMS had quite a time dislodging him from the spot.

August 5, 1988

The county had a funny call the other night. They came upon a man along the side of the road, wearing nothing but a pair of briefs. He was not drunk, but he could not remember -- or so he said -- how he got there, how he happened to be in that state of undress, only that he wanted to go back to his home town 30 miles away in the next county.

It seems to me that he must have taken a header out some woman's window when her husband came home, or something of that nature.

They were planning to take him to the county line, but the next county's officers didn't want to take him without any clothes. They tried to find him some pants, but were unable to do so. The other county eventually agreed to take him as is. A strange twist to this story was when a woman called and asked about him and her husband. The two were supposed to be somewhere together on an errand. The guy in the underwear didn't have a clue about what she was talking about, however.

A screwy story all around.

August 16, 1988

I had a funny arrest the other night. I brought in two drunks from a local bar. They were both laughing and joking during the entire booking process. As I put them in their cells, one guy walked into a cell and pulled the door closed on himself, as I locked the other one in. I got a big kick out of how willingly he went into the cell.

August 22, 1988

One of our regular winos got out of jail on Friday and got right back in again on Saturday. A call came in describing a white male standing out in the middle of the road. I knew right away that it was "Tippy Toes". He was yelling and screaming by the time I got him to the jail, saying he was going to kill me. As we got out of the car, he knocked the ticket book out of my hands and sent his own glasses skittering across the pavement. Even though he was handcuffed from behind, he kept raising those chicken wings he has for arms to try to hit me. I was laughing my ass off at this pathetic spectacle, saying, "You're a real tough guy, huh?" Once I got him inside, his pants fell down to his ankles and I marched him to his cell this way.

September 2, 1988

On one call last night, a domestic call, one officer called out to another on the radio warning him that it was possible that the suspect had a gun on him. The second officer replied, "That will make two of us!"

October 5, 1988

One of the jailers did something funny last night. He counted the prisoners and kept coming up with one extra. After counting three or four times, it suddenly dawned on him that he'd been counting himself!

That's it for now. I'll post more from this journal on another entry.

Monday, June 5, 2006

"Defenseless" Women and Children or Unarmed Noncombatants

I was listening to talk radio last night in the car and when I turned on the radio, the host and the caller were talking about Marines killing 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq in November, 2005.

The caller lamented the fact that "defenseless women and children" were among those killed, specifically mentioning a three year old who allegedly got a "bullet between the eyes".

While I agree with the basic sentiment that killing unarmed civilians is wrong, particularly young children, I don't agree with dividing the civilians into two groups, "adult men of all ages" and "women and children". If I were to divide them, it would be "fit adults" and "disabled adults and children".

It assumes that unarmed male civilians, no matter how old, are still capable of defending themselves against armed soldiers, thus minimizes the wrongness of killing them. It also assumes that adult women, no matter how fit, are as defenseless as young children in any situation.

Indeed, many of the American troops in Iraq are women who are anything but "defenseless" or have anything in common with three year olds when it comes to defending themselves. Similarly, for the last 30 years, American women have been protecting and defending the public on the streets as fully certified police officers.

When I was at the police academy, they told us one of the biggest mistakes an officer could make was to underestimate any opponent and write them off as defenseless.

Why could not the caller have said it was wrong of the Marines to kill all 24 unarmed civilian noncombatants and left it at that?


Sunday, June 4, 2006

If You Don't Have Time to Do It Right, You'd Better Have Time to Do It Over

People forget how fast you did a job - but they remember how well you did it.
--Howard Newton

Over the years, I've worked in a few factories. While all gave lip service to the idea of safety and quality first, their prime focus was always speed, which was motivated by greed. Every policy change was designed to increase production numbers and do so in a shorter amount of time than previously. Frequently such demands were accompanied by a reduction in personnel. In other words, they wanted fewer people to produce more in less time.

While there's no point in running a manfacturing plant if you're not going to make money, putting speed first has some major drawbacks. As I see it, safety should come first, then quality, and running a distant third should be speed.

When ever-increasing speed is the goal, especially with insufficent workers to reasonable meet the production goals, at some point, safety will go out the window. When plant supervisors say "faster", they don't mean "as fast as you can safely go"; they want it yesterday. I've seen people get their fingers chopped off, hands caught in machinery, etc, as workers get sloppy while trying to meet quotas, which, in many cases, means keeping their jobs.

No employer should expect any job to be done faster than can be done in a consistently safe manner. It goes without saying.

And to put speed in front of quality is short-sighted, to say the least. Quality should be the first consideration after safety. What's the point of doing it at all if it isn't done right. Producing a quality product gives a company a good reputation, thus increasing sales.

To put speed ahead of quality reminds me of two old sayings: "Haste Makes Waste" and "If You Don't Have Time to Do It Right, You'd Better Have Time to Do It Over". Not only does safety go out the window beyond a reasonable speed, so does quality. Not taking the time to pay close attention to how one is doing a job tends to generate a high percentage of defective product, which must be reworked, sometimes more than once, before it can be shipped to stores. This wastes money, which cancels out any benefits working faster might produce.

A focus on speed also is hard on machinery. In the push to produce more in less time often doesn't allow mechanics to properly maintain machinery, which results in frequent breakdowns, which is downtime when nothing is being produced. Naturally, after an extended period of downtime, supervisors want workers to go even faster to make up for lost time, which starts the vicious circle over again. Not incidentally, this also contributes to more overtime, which costs the company money.

One would think that the idea that operating at a moderate, steady speed, paying close attention to safety and quality will ultimately produce more, with less wear and tear on workers and machinery wouldn't be such a difficult concept for companies to discover.

Apparently, however, it is.


Saturday, June 3, 2006

Comments on Quotes

Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.
-- Tom Robbins

Conformity and conventional thinking only serves to maintain the status quo.

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.
-- Christopher Morley

Similar to the quote above. Unanimity is stagnation.

It is a curious truth that many cats enjoy warmer, more convivial, even affectionate relationships with humans than they could ever do with fellow felines.
-- Bruce Fogle, DVM, "The Cat's Mind", 1991

This is certainly true of my cats. They both like me and my son much better than they like each other.

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Hear that, George Bush and Homeland Security?

Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.
-- Walter Lippmann

The capacity for original thought is one of the big things that separates us from the lower animals.

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
-- Abraham Lincoln

I seem to be a nice mix of both.

When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?'
--Don Marquis

Those who do most of the work, tend to get the least of the credit.

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.

The more time I have to spend on my job, the more it invades my mind and saps my energy for doing the things that really matter to me.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Political Opinions: Purist or Eclectic?

Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be.
-- Jim Horning

When listening to or reading about contentious political issues, I often encounter simplistic finger-pointing tactics geared toward finding a simple cause for such issues, finding someone to blame. Conservatives blame liberals for every problem...."All liberals are....", and liberals likewise do the same: "We'd not have this problem in the conservatives hadn't....." There are dozens of books written by those on both sides of the political aisle who paint everyone on the other side as deluded at best, evil at worse, and their own side as completely altruistic saints. Such books sell like hotcakes, as many unsophisticated readers apparently love to see complex political issues presented as having simple causes and solutions, showing their opponents as cardboard cutout one-note bad guys..

But it's not that easy. Few of us are purists when it comes to our political opinions. Most of us lean to one side or the other, but many of us also hold opinions that are more common of those on the other wing. It may be extremists writing and reading the books, but most voters tend to be more eclectic to varying degrees..

I'm a hybrid between liberalism and libertarianism. My opinions are largely libertarian, but I temper the most extreme forms of libertarian ideas with a liberal "safety net". I'm a big believer in the right of people to live their private lives as they see fit, unhindered by government meddling, particularly when it comes to social issues.

However, I also believe that the weaker members of society need to be protected from the worst excesses of greed in a capitalist society with certain protections -- and that we all have the potential to be a "weaker" member of society from time to time in our lives for whatever reason. I think the government's role should be to keep us safe, healthy, and ensure that everyone has at minimum basic sustenance needs met: food and shelter. It's also in a country's best interest to make sure that all citizens have access to a quality education.

I even hold a few opinions that are generally seen on the conservative side of the aisle. I believe that something needs to be done to secure our borders and to stem the tide of illegal immigration into this country. Those who come to this country need to do it through proper channels, and I believe learning English should be a part of becoming an American citizen. From my years on the police force, my views on gun control lean somewhat to the conservative side -- I believe that, as the police cannot be everywhere, that people should have the right to defend themselves with guns. It's like the old saying goes, "If the worms had guns, the birds would leave them alone". Statistics bear this out -- the highest crime areas also tend to be the same areas with the strictest gun laws. But unlike an extreme purist neocon, I can also understand why some people hold the opposing opinion.

I know many other people whose political opinions don't all fit neatly under one label, even though most of their opinions could place them in one group or another. Usually such people, on both sides of the aisle can be reasoned with. It's the purists of all stripes, the extremists, the black and white thinkers, that worry me.

Not everything is simple and neatly divided into categories, nor should it be. Complex issues deserve complex solutions.