12/31/07

Noodling in The Holy Land

"Yo Billy!" I hollered, as Leece and I slid to a stop outside The Holy Land's Quickee's. Billy was sitting on the rail slurping at a steaming hot cup of noodles.

"Why are you outside, Billy?" asked Leece, "it's cold out here."

"Yeah. Yeah. But I was gittin' steemed so I came out here," he replied.

"Steamed over what?" she asked.

"Well. You know about the 'pocket veto' and the 'real veto' over the Defense Authorization Act, right?" he asked.

"Yep." We both nodded in 'agreeance'.

"The Dems are going nuts, accusing Dubya of witholding pay raises from the troops," he said.

"Well, the military did have a three percent pay raise riding on the Authorization," Leece noted.

"Three-and-a-half. There's another half percent in the Act," he corrected, "but do you see the duplicity?"

"Not really," I chipped in.

"Well, they knew he was going to veto it. He's telegraphed that over the Iraq funding for quite some time. There's no surprise there. Except maybe down in the Pinon Canyon area, where everything seems to be a surprise these days," Billy observed, somewhat snarkily, I thought.

"The Brothers Salazar are expressing disappointment," he went on, "leading us to believe that they are shocked and surprised by yet another example of a Republican president trodding upon the little people. It's probably connected to Halliburton."

"No, Halliburton would be Cheney," corrected Leece, "that's his contribution to the grand conspiracy."

"Uh huh. So meanwhile, while appearing to be riding the moral high horse, the Senate remains in pro forma session for the sole purpose of blocking any one-year appointments by Dubya. So we have the Senate buttin' heads with the Prez over one appointment in particular, and keeping the Senate 'open' so he can't do that."

"Well, it's perfectly legal, Billy, it's even in the Constitution, isn't it?" asked Leece.

"Don't you try to cornfuse me with facts," said Billy, indignantly.

"Well, they want to block the appointment of Steve Bradbury to the Office of Legal Counsel at DoJ," I explained, "they don't like his legal views on interrogating terrorists."

"Oh. So it's all part of political reprisal, going back and forth?"

"I'm sure there's a good measure of that, but some of it may actually be valid," I said.

"I see. So how's it doon with that Pinon Canyon thing. You still bein' hung in effigy?"

"I dunno. Probably the effigy is buried in cow poop. Beats me. But the thinking is the same way. You have to buy into their whole doctrine, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, or else you must be The Enemy. It isn't enough to be against the use of eminent domain and governmental takings. You have to sign on to the whole moonbat mess."

"Hey. Hey. You could get into their good graces by doing what that one Good Neighbor wanted. You could start gathering evidence that the gummint is sending out subliminal messages over cable TV. Or that aliens from UFO's are using the Federal income tax to subvert the Constitution," Billy advised, as he reached up and adjusted his tinfoil hat.

"Are you sure aliens were involved?" asked Leece.

"Mebbe not. Mebbe it was just yuppies using the income tax to undermine the Constitution and make us all One Worlders," he mused.

"Shoot, Billy, all you gotta do to be a 'One Worlder' is shop Walmart," I suggested.

We all had a good laugh and went inside to warm up.

12/29/07

Getting the bird

Some of today's photos:











12/27/07

"Cow pie stoopid..."

We were lounging on the bench in front of Ringo's. We had some steaming cups of crappacino from Loaf West. It was that English toffee stuff. It was pretty good, especially in the damp cold.

"Hey. Hey. I see them ranchers down south got the wind up over some a yer stuff," Billy observed, "and so does Brother Bob."

"Yup," I replied, somewhat noncommittally.

"Do ya think they akshully reed wutcha write?" he asked.

"If they do, they demonstrate a remarkable lack of comprehension," chipped in Tookie. She was having a crappie with us before hieing off to the Primary School.

"How so?"

"Well...lookit one of their favorite piss-moans," Toot Sweet said, earning a glare from Leece, "that light colonel, whatsisname, Rick...no...Rich...that's it. They asked him if he'd ever been down to the country that is up for grabs, and he said he had not but he'd flown over it. Just a simple comment by a guy who is just doing the mission the Army assigned him."

"I remember that," I said.

"So now what they do is go off about how that shows the ignorance and the arrogance of the Army, and in particular this Rich guy," she said.

"Yep. They do that. I'm kind of wondering when whatsername will work that on into 'Ridin Fence', to demonstrate how stupid city slicker Army troops are compared to the brilliance of the True Americans who live free, ridin' range, like the Marlboro Man."

"She's too busy killin' off the potential tourist market by telling everyone how stupid civilian city slickers are, to mess with the Army. She's also too busy finding reasons why tourism farming won't work," tossed in Billy, "so anyone who reeds the paper will think, 'Huh. They think I'm an idiot. Why should I go there and spend my money? I could use the cash for my Sierra Club dues."

Tookie snorted some crappacino up her snoot.

"Hah. So when is she going to run for city council or county commissioner? She seems to pass the political astuteness test," Toots contributed after her nasal passages were cleared.

Billy snorted some crappacino up his ample snoot. It was an epidemic of Convenience Store Crappacino Snoot-snorting. Perhaps the CDC would be getting involved. Our tax bux at work...

"Back to the Army...isn't it a bit counterproductive to sit there and insult the people you really should be trying to work with to kill this expansion?" Tookie asked.

"Well...that's the way they work, you see. They understand and respond it to very well. That's how they deal with people. Look at that Sylvester character and Brother Bob. They don't like my tone, but they have no compunctions about replying in what they think is 'in kind'. And they babble a lot, too, which makes it hard to follow. They aren't very good researchers," I said. "But I don't think you can kill the expansion," I continued, "especially since they are going to move another heavy combat brigade into Fort Carson. You'll notice that Brother Ken was going on about how that would really help the economies up in El Paso County and Pueblo."

"Didn't say much about out here in Hicksville, though, did he?" noted Billy.

"Nope. Why bother. Anything he says will have them foaming at the mouth."

"Huh. I find it innerestin' that in Germany for all those years we were able to run REFORGER without startin' World War III with our NATO allies," said Billy.

"I didn't know you spent any time in Germany," Leece said.

"Some, deploying with REFORGER oncet before I went off to the Far East to meet interestin' and exotic people and kill them," Billy explained.

Billy had a point. REFORGER was a large scale military maneuver, "REturn of FORces to GERmany". It was designed to rapidly reinforce the garrisons by airlift from the US along with concurrent ship-borne reinforcements in the event the Soviet Army punched into Central Europe through the Fulda Gap. Or that was the usual scenario.

"Them Germans have a cow if'n you toss a candy wrapper on the street," said Billy, accurately describing the Teutonic penchant for neatness, "much less tear up the place with heavy armor."

"Oh...I remember every REFORGER some young trooper would turn too short and take out Herman's new Beemer or a buttress on a thousand-year-old cathedral or somesuch," I reminisced.

"Yeah. Yeah. But they had procedures and processes in place to deal with all that, with conflict, to keep damage down, and to reimburse property owners for damages. It was a...compromise...between a full-scale John Wayne maneuver and 'The Sound of Music' cuteness," Billy explained.

"Compromise...huh. That's a word that I don't think you will find in southeast Colorado," I mused, "though it was oddly present in working out agreements between nations, foreign communities, local foreign governments, and the military forces of several nations. Huh. I guess this local expansion thing must be much more complex than that. No, I don't think it would apply here. Just ask anyone associated with the expansion opposition."

"Nope. They goes on about the Constitution, but do they unnerstand any of the thinking of the people what wrote it? Nope. It involves that "C" word again. They's too busy with that 'you don't agree with my silly-assed, iggerant, childish, cow pie stoopid outlook, so you must be agin me,' " noted Billy, earning a raised eyebrow from Leece, but no comment along with it."What I wants ta know is what did them ranchers ever do to you?" Billy grinned at me. Tookie snickered. Leece just shook her head, grinning a bit.

"Ah. Yes. Well, first, the Constitution is apparently a situational reference for those guys. They like to cite it when defending their own property rights but they are perfectly willing to use it as a foot-wipe when it comes to someone else's property rights. And, I disagree with the silly-assed, iggerant, childish, parochial, limited, narrow, cow-pie stoopid outlook that is going to eventually lead to the Army coming in, taking it all, and pretty much destroying the local economy that I depend on, blowing property values into the toilet even more than they already are, killing off tax revenues, wiping out jobs. Yep. Hey. Maybe that's what those ranchers are doing to me," I threw back, "them, and our local political leadership that seems perennially focused on inconsequential nonsense. Meanwhile, the ranchers who stand to lose their property want we townsfolk to write our Congresscritters and join with them...so long as we keep our mouths shut and agree with whatever half-assed approach they take. That's a dog that don't hunt. I have a stake in this too. A major stake. Needlessly aggravating the Army with that Mayberry RFD/Marlboro Man combo act doesn't resonate with me. Those boys need to tighten up their group."

This earned a giggle from Leece. 'Resonate' is one of those buzz words her master's cohort overuses. Every idea and concept 'resonates' or 'doesn't resonate.' It's an inside joke with us.

"Yes. Well. Hey. Hey. Let's go up an feed the geese!" This from Tookie.

"Sure. That resonates with me," chortled Billy.

"You better stay off the ice, young lady," Leece told her.

"Oh...they have the aerators back on, I think. Maybe not. I'm not sure if that will require a Continuing Resolution or not. It may even be tied to the Salazar-Musgrave amendment," Tookie kicked back, walking up toward the park with Billy, laughing maniacally. She is good at that maniacal laughter.

Historical footnote:

REFORGER

and...while Wikipedia has some 'issues' at times, here is a really good explanation of the term "compromise":

Compromise
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In arguments, compromise is a concept of finding agreement through communication, through a mutual acceptance of terms—often involving variations from an original goal or desire. Extremism is often considered as antonym to compromise, which, depending on context, may be associated with concepts of balance, tolerance. In the negative connotation, compromise may be referred to as capitulation, referring to a "surrender" of objectives, principles, or materiale, in the process of negotiating an agreement.

According cultural background and influences, the meaning and perception of the word "compromise" may be different: In the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth countries the word "compromise" has a positive meaning (as a consent, an agreement where both parties win something); in the USA it may rather have negative connotations (as both parties lose something). In the former Soviet Union, the word was rather unknown. (See Intercultural competence.)

Studies in compromise

Defining and finding the best possible compromise is an important problem in fields like game theory and the voting system. For example, the Modified Borda Count seeks to identify which of several options has the highest average preference among voters.

Research has indicated that suboptimal compromises are often the result of fallacies such as the fixed sum error and the incompatibility error, leading to the misperception that the other side's interests are directly opposed. Mutually better outcomes can be found by careful investigation of both parties' interests.

12/26/07

The "Kowpoop Kanoo"

Billy was snuffling from a bag of WonderRoast chicken, sitting on the bench in front of Ringo's. We had cups of steaming latte from The Barista. We sat down next to Billy.

"Merry Christmas, Billy," said Leece.

"Merry Christmas to you, too," responded Billy, "woodja like some WonderRoast?" He held out a drumstick.

"Ummmmm...no...no, I think I'll pass," said Leece, eyeing the congealed grease on the bottom of the bag. The bag had other stains as well. It didn't look like it was fresh from the store. Besides, cold WonderRoast didn't sound all that appetizing at 7:45 AM.

"Hey. Hey. You gice wanna invest in a new venture?" Billy asked.

"Maybe," I told him, "what does it involve?"

"Well, you heard a that feedlot over to Ordway that's lookin' to find good use for the manure?"

"Yep."

"You heard a that guy who processes the manure into those starter cups for seedlings?"

"Yes. We used some of those last spring," Leece advised him,"and they worked very well. They are very biodegradable."

"Uh huh. You gice heard a that outfit up in Portland what's offerin' biodegradable burials?"

"What?" This was a new one for Leece. For me, too.

"Yeah. Yeah. They's gots a coffin made a recycled newspapers. They call it "the Ecopod". You kin git buried in it, and it falls apart, and then so do you. This is after yer dead, naturally."

"Naturally," I agreed, "but what does that have to do with Ordway's feedlot?"

"Well, they runs 45,000 cows a year through there. That's a lotta cow crap. It's enough for a PhD, in fact."

"PhD?" asked Leece, puzzled.

"Yeah. 'Piled Higher and Deeper'," he said, snerking madly and nearly choking on his chicken.

"I see," I said, "you intend to process the cow poop in the same manner as they use for pressing it into pot shapes for starter cups, only you're going to shape it into bio-degradable coffins."

"Pre-zackly," he said.

"Huh. Sounds like a good idea. Where you gonna plant yer customers?" I asked.

"I gots 40 acres south a Fowler," Billy confided, "I'm gonna plant 'em in the Kowpoop Kanoo and let 'em compost the field. Then I'm gonna break it down into large garden plots and lease 'em to city slickers. They can experience the down-home satisfaction a growin' their own veggies."

"Kowpoop Kanoo?"

"Yeah. Yeah. That 'Ecopod' thing looks somethin' like a kayak. I figger 'Ecopod' ain't very catchy, like 'Kowpoop Kanoo'. Wutcha think?" he asked.

"Well...that guy who is selling the manure for starter pots is making a killing. But it requires some forward thinking. Do you think you'll find it around here?"

"Good question. I think some of the farmers can see it, but will any of the local banks loan 'em the money to get it goin'? That's the question."

It was, too.

"Well, we'll give it some thought, Billy,"Leece said, standing up and sipping the last of her latte before tossing the cup in the recycle bin, "but right now we're going up to City Park to check out the ice on the pond."

"There ain't no ice on the pond," he said, "they leaves the aerator on. They don't want it freezin'. Kids'll go out on that ice and the ice ain't thick enough most days. Ever since Joe Clay saved that kid what fell through the ice they ain't wanted that pond to freeze over."

"So you say, Billy. So you say."

We bid Billy adieu and walked on up to feed the geese some stale donut holes from Daylight Donuts.

"A different Christmas poem"

This just in from Ted Barker of the Korean War Project:

A Different Christmas Poem

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30t h Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One Al Taqqadum, Iraq

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know.

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,

"I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my father’s before me.

My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son.

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

12/20/07

Care packages for the troops

From Kathleen Foster:

Let's take a moment to talk about care packages. The troops love them. The big bases are teeming with junk food sent from back home. But the smaller Forward Operating Bases or FOBs could use more, especially since they can't just hit the PX for toiletries. But there are some things the guys at the FOBs want and need more than others.

Here's what they say they want:
• Coffee
• Cup O'Noodles
• Packaged tuna in the pouches
• DVD movies
• Magazines (not just the dirty ones)
• Drink Mixes like Chrystal Light and iced tea
• Cleaning supplies (sponges, Lysol wipes and Windex)

The guys at the FOBs are the ones who go into towns and interact with the Iraqis. A lot of the candy you send to them gets passed out to elated children. The Marines ask that you send lollipops instead of hard candies, so there is less chance of children choking.

Also, keep in mind that everyone is sending care packages to the troops at the holidays. That stuff starts to trickle off around March, so if you really want to make a difference the guys say send them stuff in the spring and summer (especially those drink mixes!)

Send them to any of the following addresses:

Al Qaim Bn 3/2
Attn: 1stLt Albert W. Culbreth, III
3/2 H&S Co S-3
UNIT 73130
FPO AE 09509-3130

Hadithah Triad: Bn 3/23
Capt Manny Munoz
3/23 H&S Co Section
Unit 73142
FPO AE 09509-3142

Hit: Bn 1/7
COMMANDING OFFICER
1ST BN 7TH MAR
UNIT 41510
FPO AP 96426-1510

Negativism

"Ain't it funny what some peeple consider 'negative', and what they don't even consider at all," observed DinkyDau Billy, as he snuffled a deep-fried porkchop while we sat on the bench in front of Ringo's.

"Explain what you mean, Billy," suggested Leece.

"Well. Well. Here we gots all these tightasses runnin' around in an uproar over the picked on and downtrodden ranchers, who themselves seem to be chasin' tails in circles while the Army does whatever the Army is gonna do, and thanks for your time anyway, Marilyn," he said, "and when we play the Emperor's New Clothes an' question all that self-servin' crap, we's 'negative'. Or worse. Possibly even heretical, pickin' on the fundies like that."

"And?" Leece queried.

"But you gots bidnesses here in town that gots ta go outside a town for bidness loans, cuz they can't git one from the local banks. What's that say?" he asked.

"Well, if you ask me..." I started...

"He did, " Tookie interrupted.

"If you ask me, I'd say it looks like the local banks think a local business expanding operations or starting up something new is a poor risk."

"Yep. Yep. That's the way I sees it, too, "Billy agreed, "so ain't it the strangest kinda hypocrisy when they go on about we hoi polloi, we unwashed masses, need to shop local, but local bidness can't even git a bidness loan?"

"I agree," said Tookie, agreeably, "and when you add all those branch banks they are opening along the Front Range, it looks to me like they're at least hedging their bets if not getting ready to bail when the Pinon Canyon expansion finally goes through."

"But that's not 'negative'. That's jist good bidness."

"What about those fundies? Think you'll catch any flack for picking on them?" Billy asked.

"One can only hope. You know, we put up with their insufferably self-righteous crap day in and day out. They whine and moan about everything from the latest movie to the Godless pinkos taking "In God We Trust" off our nickels. They whine about the 'political correctness' that caters to every allegedly godless special interest outfit, yet they are the first in line to whine to the courts about whatever bug is up their butts at any given moment. And they are awfully eager to jam their version of God down everyone else's throats. If I get one more of those stupid fundie emails I think I will just vomit."

"Which version?" Billy asked.

"Huh?"

"Which version of God?"

"Whoever gets elected will choose which version," Tookie replied, "can you imagine if those crazies managed to circumvent the First Amendment?"

"It wouldn't matter, Toots, not to the rest of us. We'd just have to stay out of the way while they killed each other off. They'd do that before turnin' on us heathens."

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Well, lookit what happened in the lead-up to the Council of Chalcedon, which o-fishully approved the divinity levels of Jesus Christ himself. Check the Chalcedonian Creed. Before that, they spent a lot of time killing each other. They's as bad as Shi'ites versus Sunnis. Lookit the Eutychian controversy. Lookit Nestorianism. Lookit all that arguin' and killin' over that. That was all Christian killing Christian. Yep. Lookit all that Christian-on-Christian killin' since. Lookit those first four Ecumenical councils. You wanna talk about a buncha politically correct conveniences? Jeez."

"Speaking of Christian-on-Christian violence," I said,"I think it's real interesting that the Fundies are so worried about atheists taking God off nickels, and returning us to being a 'Christian' nation..."

"Hah!" interrupted Billy, "they need to go back and read what the founders had to say about religion and gummint."

"...that they completely miss the point that this nation was founded by people whose ancestors - Jamestown and the Mayflower colonists coming immediately to mind - who were fleeing persecution from other Christians. Not atheists. Christians. It is other Christians who have always been the threat to freedom of religion in this country. Not atheists."

"Huh. Worst possible thing what could happen is for Fundies to take over. The rest of us would be dog meat, I think," Toots Sweet observed.

"Well. At least you wouldn't be negative."

Joint session of city council and the utilities board

There will be a joint work session between city council and the utilities board on 7 January 2008 immediately following the regular meeting of city council.

Here is the notice:

Notice of Work Session


12/19/07

Crowley County DSS Report

Here is the Crowley County DSS Report:

Crowley County Department of Social Services Report

"This isn't brain surgery..."

Here is a perfect example of the kind of thinking we Hicks from the Sticks are up against in dealing with the Army. Note some of the comments. The M4 jammed up like a pile of toast down at the Copper Kitchen, on average every 68 rounds. The Army's response? "...soldiers rarely fire more than 140 rounds in an engagement...". The Army also says the Aberdeen test center's dust test is 'unrealistic'. It is interesting to note that it is not the Sarah Brady Aberdeen test center; it is the Army Aberdeen test center. That sure gives me some flashbacks. If you don't like the test results, change the test till you get what you want to hear. Meanwhile, Sergeant Rock and the Combat Happy Joes of Easy Company are having a grand ol' time clearing malfunctions while dancing with the fedayeen out yonder. Oh...and the best one: "...except for some grumbling about the stopping power of its 5.56mm round...". It vexes one so when you pop Achmed a couple or three times and he still manages to kill you. The troops have been complaining about this for years. The Armchair Commandos who spend their days talking to the press have been spinning it for years.

M4 Carbine Fairs Poorly in Dust Test

The primary weapon carried by most soldiers into battle in Iraq and Afghanistan performed the worst in a recent series of tests designed to see how it stacked up against three other top carbines in sandy environments.

After firing 6,000 rounds through ten M4s in a dust chamber at the Army's Aberdeen test center in Maryland this fall, the weapons experienced a tot al of 863 minor stoppages and 19 that would have required the armorer to fix the problem. Stacked up against the M4 during the side-by-side tests were two other weapons popular with special operations forces, including the Heckler and Koch 416 and the FN USA Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle, or Mk16.

Another carbine involved in the tests that had been rejected by the Army two years ago, the H&K XM8, came out the winner, with a total of 116 minor stoppages and 11 major ones. The Mk16 experienced a total of 226 stoppages, the 416 had 233.

The Army was quick to point out that even with 863 minor stoppages -- termed "class one" stoppages which require 10 seconds or less to clear and "class two" stoppages which require more than ten seconds to clear -- the M4 functioned well, with over 98 percent of the 60,000 total rounds firing without a problem.

"The M4 carbine is a world-class weapon," said Brig. Gen. Mark Brown, the Army's top equipment buyer, in a Dec. 17 briefing at the Pentagon. Soldiers "have high confidence in that weapon, and that high confidence level is justified, in our view, as a result of all test data and all investigations we have made."

Though Army testers and engineers are still evaluating the data, officials with the Army's Infantry Center based in Fort Benning, Ga., said they planned to issue new requirements for the standard-issue carbine in about 18 months that could include a wholesale replacement of the M4. But the Army has been resistant to replace the M4, which has been in the Army inventory for over 18 years, until there's enough of a performance leap to justify buying a new carbine.

"We know there are some pretty exciting things on the horizon with technology ... so maybe what we do is stick with the M4 for now and let technologies mature enough that we can spin them into a new carbine," said Col. Robert Radcliffe, director of combat development at the Army's Infantry Center.

"It's just not ready yet. But it can be ready relatively rapidly."

That's not good enough for some on Capitol Hill who've pushed hard for the so-called "extreme dust test" since last spring. Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn placed a hold on the nomination of Army Secretary Pete Geren earlier this year to force the Army to take another look at the M4 and its reliability.

In an April 12 letter to the still unconfirmed Geren, Coburn wrote that "considering the long standing reliability and lethality problems withthe M16 design, of which the M4 is based, I am afraid that our troops in combat might not have the best weapon." He insisted the Army conduct a side-by-side test to verify his contention that more reliable designs existed and could be fielded soon.

Despite the 98 percent reliability argument now being pushed by the Army, one congressional staffer familiar with the extreme dust tests is skeptical of the service's conclusions.

"This isn't brain surgery -- a rifle needs to do three things: shoot when you pull the trigger, put bullets where you aim them and deliver enough energy to stop what's attacking you," the staffer told Military.com in an email. "If the M4 can't be depended on to shoot then everything else is irrelevant."

The staffer offered a different perspective of how to view the Army's result. If you look at the numbers, he reasoned, the M4's 882 total stoppages averages out to a jam every 68 rounds. There are about 30 rounds per magazine in the M4.

By comparison, the XM8 jammed once every 472 rounds, the Mk16 every 265 rounds and the 416 every 257 rounds. Army officials contend soldiers rarely fire more than 140 rounds in an engagement.

"These results are stunning, and frankly they are significantly more dramatic than most weapons experts expected," the staffer said.

Army officials say the staffer's comparison is "misleading" since the extreme dust test did not represent a typical combat environment and did not include the regular weapons cleaning soldiers typically perform in the field.

So the Army is sticking by the M4 and has recently signed another contract with manufacturer Colt Defense to outfit several more brigade combat teams with the compact weapon. Service officials say feedback from the field on the M4 has been universally positive -- except for some grumbling about the stopping power of its 5.56mm round. And as long as soldiers take the time to clean their weapons properly, even the "extreme" dust testing showed the weapon performed as advertised.

"The force will tell you the weapon system is reliable, they're confident in it, they understand that the key to making that weapon system effective on the battlefield and killing the enemy is a solid maintenance program and, just as important, is a marksmanship program," said Sgt. Maj. Tom Coleman, sergeant major for PEO Soldier and the Natick Soldier Systems Center. "So, you can't start talking about a weapon system without bringing in all the other pieces that come into
play."

That's not enough for some who say the technology is out there to field a better, more reliable rifle to troops in contact now.

"It's time to stop making excuses and just conduct a competition for a new weapon," the congressional staffer said.

12/18/07

"Preach it, sister!"

"Good morning, Billy!" Leece cheerfully greeted DinkyDau Billy. We had just come into Daylight Donuts for an apple fritter and a cappie.

"Hey! Hey! Howzitdoon?" he asked, as he dunked a chunk of one of those heart-stoppers in his cappie, then slurped and snuffled it down.

"Pretty good," I replied, "Did you know they did the Pledge of Allegiance last night at the city council meeting?"

"No! Really? I wuz wunderin' about that. I was wunderin' if they dint do the Pledge cuz they wuz afraid of offendin' somebody."

"Who knows. But it's the first time in over thirty years. And...Terilynn did an invocation, too," I told him.

"Really! Wow. Do you think they'll get sued?" he asked.

"I dunno. But the chaplain of the Congress gives invocations before they start their sessions, so I don't see why there would be a problem," I answered.

"I guess the difference is between just giving an invocation, and trying to jam your version of God down everyone else's throats," he observed.

"Yep. That would seem to be the key. Council isn't doing anything even remotely like that. And the majority, if not everyone there, was OK with it," Leece pointed out.

"Democracy. You gotta love it," Billy snerked, "Hey. Hey. Leece. When are you gonna do an invocation for Council?"

"Me?"

"You."

"I think you have to be on the approved pastoral list. They're having the Ministerial Association do the invocations," she replied.

"Ain't you a licensed minister of the Nazarene church?" he asked.

"Well...yes," she replied.

"Ain't you working towards formal ordination with that master's thingie you're in?" he asked.

"Well...yes," she replied.

"Ain't you on the pastoral staff of the Naz?" he asked.

"Well...yes," she replied.

"Ain't you gonna be holdin' services for the shut-ins? Administerin' communion and all that?" he asked.

"Well...yes," she replied.

"Ain't the Naz in the Ministerial Association?" he asked.

"Well...yes," she replied.

"Then it seems to be you must be an 'approved pastor.'

"Ummmmm...." Leece ruminated, pensively.

"Whaddya think, yay-hoo?" he asked me.

"Me? Shoot. She oughta go for it. Preach it, sister!" I poked her in the ribs. Bad move. Leece is real ticklish. She tossed her cappie straight up in the air.

We moved over a couple of tables so the cashier could mop up.

12/14/07

Blackman and Robin

Robin is dead. He died back in June. What with all the other things going on, I missed it.

Gene Ponce's site, "Ubon RTAFB - USAF during the Vietnam War and today - has a direct link embedded on his front page:

Legendary fighter pilot Robin Olds dies

An excerpt:

"General Olds, rated a triple ace for having shot down a total of 16 enemy aircraft during World War II and the Vietnam War, served his country in assignments to England, Germany, Libya, Thailand and the United States, in positions of squadron, base, group and wing commander, and assignments to Headquarters U.S. Air Force and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Triple-ace Robin Olds' legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom have been an inspiration to our nation and our Air Force," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley. "He is one of our 'great captains' and a pioneer of air power.

"He became an ace with 12 aerial victories during World War II, flying P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs, and later shot down 4 MiGs in Vietnam to bring his total to 16. He also led the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing -- the famed "Wolfpack" -- to a record 24 aerial victories, a total unsurpassed by any other wing during the war in Southeast Asia," the general said."

Robin Olds flew as one of Wolfpack's pilots as well as its commander. His number two, his vice commander, was Chappie James, who would rise to full general, four stars, the first black man to do so in the Air Force. James is noted for having a black panther painted on his helmet, and for referring to his association with Olds as "Blackman and Robin".

Those of us who served at Ubon Royal Thai Air Base recall all those red stars over at the Wolfpack's den, signifying MiG shootdowns by the 'pack's gunslingers. There was more of that later on at the famed "Triple Nickle", the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn RTAB. The Triple Nickle was part of the Wolfpack.

Another of America's great heroes has passed.

12/13/07

More fundie foolishness

The fundies have tried once again to censor what you and I and our kids read.

The Chieftain has an article here:

Children's book back on bookshelf

An excerpt from the article:

"Of all the district personnel involved in the decision to remove and then reinstate the book, [Alamosa High School Librarian] Skinner was the only one to have read it.

"I have a hard time with anyone who wants to pull a book, who hasn't read it," he said."

You and me both, Mr. Skinner. And even if they have read it, who are they to decide what should be on the shelf or not?

Polls show that many, if not most, Christian fundies are Republicans. Yet it is the Democrats who have gained the well-deserved reputation of being the party that thinks we should all be wards of the government.

Fundies. Not only are they not confused by fact, but they also want to do your thinking for you.

12/5/07

Refocused

"Hah! Good one!" Billy said, as he folded up his Pebbler Chieftain and tossed it on the table.

"How so?" asked Leece.

"Well...think about it. First the ranchers complained that the Army never really said why they need to expand Pinon Canyon."

"OK." We both nodded.

"Then they got that Musgrave-Salazar amendment to the House bill that stopped funding on the expansion."

"OK." We both nodded again.

"And then the other Salazar and that Allard feller got the amendments in the Senate requirin' the Army to come up with their reasons."

"OK." We were beginning to feel like bobble-heads.

"But then the ranchers complained about Salazar and Allard givin' the Army another chance."

"Well, there is some merit to that complaint, don't you think?" I asked, "you would think they'd be able to give those reasons if they had planned the program out."

"Yeah, but c'mon. We're talkin' about the Army here. Internally the left hand don't know what the right is doin'."

He had a point. The disparity between the Army combat commands and the staff weenies who worked with BRAC certainly illustrated that.

"OK...so's they is doin' what the ranchers asked for. They's gonna give 'em their reasons. In fact they are going to use a professional PR consultant they already had on board to pimp it to the public. Since that consultant already knows pretty much everything there is to know about Pinon Canyon, why not use 'em?"

"OK." We were back to nodding our heads again.

"But Marilyn is havin' a hissy fit over it," Billy explained, "she seems to think all that comes under the ban on spending on the expansion."

"Isn't it?" Leece asked.

"Kinda looks like it, but then, like that Rice feller says, he's just doin' what the Senate tole him to do."

"Ummmhummm...yep. That makes sense," quoth I.

"Best part of the article is this: 'Federal lawmakers who thought they had stopped the Army from doing any planning next year on expanding the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site might be surprised how little Army planners feel constrained by the congressional ban.', "Billy shared.

We both kind of giggled. We had been talking about this earlier. Like the Army couldn't maneuver around a couple of Congresscritters.

"Marilynn hasn't figured out she's playing with the Big Kids, has she?" I asked.

"Nope. And then Rice says, 'I think we've been refocused (by the Musgrave-Salazar legislation), but not constrained.' Do you really believe some light cunnel is going to be making that kind of decision?"

"Oh, no, of course not. That came from way up the chain-of-command," I agreed.

"'Ree-fo-cussed'," Billy snickered, " ...'not constrained'...that's a real hoot. I wonder what they'll pull next. Betcha it'll be a good one."

We all nodded.

12/3/07

DinkyDau Billy goes Wilde

Leece and I walked into The Holy Land Quickee. We were there to fetch our lottery tickets and pick up a cappie.

DinkyDau Billy was there, sitting at one of the tables, one of those really good Juan Ortega burgers in front of him. He was scribbling furiously.

"What's up, Billy?" asked Leece, as she topped off her cappie.

"I found one a my favrite pomes," he said, "and I'm inscribin' it into your Chrismus present."

"You are?"

"Yeah. Yeah. I gotcha a really nice edition of 'The Inferno of Dante Alighieri '. Akshully, it's the whole Comedy. Every aspirin' young pastor such as yersef should have a copy a that, and also Sun Tzu's 'Art of War' and Machiavelli's 'The Prince.' which helps ya deal with some congregational 'issues'. But 'The Inferno' helps you unnerstand spirichul stuff. "

"Well gosh, Billy, you didn't have to do that," she exclaimed.

"No. I didn't. But I wanted to. You already got 'Art of War' and 'The Prince' from Yay-hoo there," he said, pointing at me. It was true. I had gotten those for Leece some time back. Also 'The Inferno', but not nearly as nice a copy as Billy's gift, which was the Birk and Sanders version.

"So what are you writing, Billy?" she asked.

"I'm inscribing Oscar Wilde's E Tenebris," he said, "you want me to reed it?"

"Sure. I'm not all that familiar with it."

"OK. Here goes:

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy
hand,
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee:
The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
My heart is as some famine-murdered land
Whence all good things have perished utterly,
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
If I this night before God's throne should stand.
'He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
From morn to noon on Carmel's smitten height.'
Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night,
The feet of brass, the robe more white than
flame,
The wounded hands, the weary human face.

"That's quite intense, Billy," she opined, "how does that apply to you?"

"I coulda wrote that myself," he said, "cuz that's where I was before you found me. Now I ain't no more, cuz you found me. I thunk'd about 'I once was lost but now I'm found,' but that ain't the half of it. Merry Christmas."

He handed her the book and, turning abruptly, left Quickee's.

"Think he'll be OK?" I asked Leece.

"I think so. Where it counts, he'll be fine."

"He left his burger. Shall we snuffle?"

I got the raised eyebrow look.

11/30/07

"By soul, by blood, I will fight for the Prophet Mohammad!"

Who are the offending miscreants who have the Sudanese rioting in the streets, screaming for blood in the name of The Religion of Peace?

Here they are:






"KHARTOUM, Sudan — Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad.""

What's really surprising is that these religious zealots/fundamentalists/psychos aren't screaming for the heads of the children as well.

The Lies have it

"That was an interesting article by Michael Medved, don't you think?" asked Leece.

We were down at The Holy Land Quickee's, having a ...quick...morning cappie. Billy was snuffling some kind of burrito-like thing. I wasn't sure if it was from Juan Diego, or Mickey D, or some other place. From the looks of it, the health department might have had a professional interest.

"Yeah. Yeah. But his assumption that Americans are going to church in increasing numbers is based on faulty polling," Billy said.

"I think you're probably right," she responded, "I think the pollsters need to get up off their butts and actually start correlating physical attendance with their poll responses. Most church populations in the US are decreasing."

"Yep. Yep. Take a look at the ones here in The Smile Hi City. Based over the last ten years, most of them have seen significant decreases. Talk to pastors around the country, and you'll get the same thing," Billy agreed.

"The megachurches, those non-denominational things, especially the ones with the 'prosperity preachers', are doing a lot better. If you interview members of those churches you'll find they jumped ship from more conventional congregations," I added.

"How does 'prosperity preaching' fit in with Christianity?" Tookie asked.

"Good question. They seem to emphasize accruing more and more material wealth," I observed.

"Sure. And of course, the more the congregation members make, the more tithing goes to the church," said Leece.

"And that's why you see the likes of Joel Osteen and his brethren driving around in fancy cars, wearing those high-end Italian silk suits. And you won't see them taking lunch at the local fast food joint, trying to save a few bucks," Billy sniffed, somewhat indignantly.

"They say they preach Christ's message," Tookie said, "but their actions show otherwise. That's the church that refused the service for the Navy vet that turned out to be gay. Do you think Christ would have turned him away?"

"Absolutely not," said Leece, "and nor should the church...if the church is truly the 'Bride of Christ'; the 'Body of Christ'."

"Used to be in the old days, you'd see Jesus hangin' out with the sinners. Even tax collectors, who were among the worst of the scum..."

"Wasn't Matthew a tax collector to begin with?" interrupted Tookie.

"...yet Matthew was a tax collector and look at the effect Jesus had on him," continued Leece, giving Toot Sweet the raised eyebrow.

"So the poll figures don't match what you will see in most churches,"Tookie said, "what about the rest of what he has to say about 'the end is near!'?"

"Well, gen'rully, he's right. Things aren't near as bad as Pitchfork Pat and the rest would have us believe. People in American tend to be quite spiritual. Just ask them, face-to-face, not over the phone with some canned list of questions. But then, ask them what they think about Christ, and then ask them what they think about Christians, and why, and you will have the answer to why church populations are declining. The question then becomes, what do you do about it?," Billy pontificated.

"It isn't that people don't like, or even don't believe in, God and Christ," pointed out Tookie, "it's that they can't stand Christians. You'll hear it time and time again. Jesus hung around with dirtbags and tried to reach them while the Pharisees, the establishment, sneered at him for it. Today the churches have become fortresses for the righteous...or the self-righteous...while the downtrodden seek spiritual sustenance elsewhere."

"You don't think all churches, or everyone in church, is like that, do you?" asked Billy.

"No. Of course not. But it's enough that it drives people away from churches, or keeps them way in the first place," she said.

"So what's to be done about it?" Billy asked.

"Aye. There's the question, now, ain't it, matey?" Toots asked, "Let me ask you this. How much effort is put forth by churches for overseas ministries, and how much is put forth by churches for local ministries? Ministries to help those in our communities who most need it?"

"Well, some. There's outfits that run the soup kitchens and shelters and so on," Billy pointed out.

"Yep. But most congregations like what I call "The Sally Struthers Effect", Tookie explained, "which is where you can send some money off every month to some urchin in some Third World sewer somewhere, and you don't have to get your hands dirty; you don't have to mingle with the scum of the earth."

"What about these outfits that send working parties out to build new churches in far off lands?"

"That's a little better, but they are already dealing with the committed and the converted," she pointed out, "how many pastors do you see going down to the local bars, for example, to see if they can reach anyone there? There's a lot of sad souls drowning sins and sorrows, draped over a bar somewhere, but what do you think would happen if one of the local pastors were to be seen in the local gin mill?"

"Huh. Huh. Good point."

Lies in church polling (1998)

How many North Americans go regularly to church - and how many lie about going?

Google 'church attendance' and 'church decline' for more than you ever wanted to know.

11/29/07

Hillary: Zero for Three

Ralph Reiland has a good editorial here:

Hillary: Zero for Three

an excerpt:

"It's true that things aren't perfect in this country, or in medical care, but to put Hillary in charge of fixing the holes is like putting Mussolini in charge in order to get the trains running on time.

What Mrs. Clinton seems to not understand is that markets, however imperfect, generally and automatically do a better job of organizing an economy than any set of government planners or political appointees. What the record shows, over time and in every region of the world, is that millions of people, pursuing their own interests in their own way, are better than government at running an economy, both in terms of delivering the goods and maximizing individual freedom.

Simply put, government is no match for markets when it comes to developing a culture in which creativity, liberty, competition, incentives, efficiency and commerce flourish."

And of course, we have the recent episodes with the press, with planted questions and questioners, and both Clintons standing up before the press claiming things that are absolutely false. Like their positions on the war in Iraq. Bill and Hillary may not understand how to Google, but most of we hoi polloi certainly do.

Wrong on 'moral collapse', or, The End Of American Civilization As We Know It

So we continue to listen to self-righteous Christian fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, "Pitchfork Pat" Buchanan, the 'prosperity preachers' who want you to send them more money, presumably on the premise that you can buy your way to salvation, and all the rest, tell us how America is doomed.

Here is an interesting article that has a somewhat different take on The End Of American Civilization As We Know It. (TEOACAWKI):

Wrong on moral collapse

and has this to say about the Doom-and-Gloomers:

"While activists and academics on the political left have always played the lead role in passionately promoting the many pernicious lies about America’s allegedly guilty past, it's mostly commentators on the cultural right who enthusiastically embrace the lies about the nation’s guilty present and doomed future. Looking down on previous generations and condemning our Founding Fathers as Indian-slaughtering, slave-owning, Euro-centrist, money-grubbing elitists can bring obvious psychic rewards to those who endorse such caricatures. If our ancestors deserve more condemnation than reverence, we face little obligation to live up to their ideals or examples and can feel free to make our rules, shape our own values, with an unshakable sense of greater wisdom and moral superiority. It’s much harder, however, to see the emotional or practical payoffs in apocalyptic hysteria about our current condition.

Smearing prior generations can enhance our sense of unique and unprecedented excellence (“Never trust anyone over thirty,” the notorious Baby Boomers once declared). Perhaps, in the same sense, the militant alarmism about our current moral state can promote the conviction that confirmed gloom-and-doomers are much smarter, more righteous, more attuned to horrifying realities than the obtuse people (or “sheepel,” as they are derisively designated) who refuse to acknowledge looming disaster."

and then goes on to discuss, in interesting detail, the whole self-fulfilling prophesy, while dismantling it at the same time.

"Iraq- Very interesting. Did you know?"

Here is a prime example of the kind of crap that circulates around the Internet in the guise of 'Christian awareness':

Christians and Urban Legends

You gotta love the threat at the end of the Iraq email:

" I BETTER NOT HEAR OF ANYONE BREAKING THIS ONE OR SEE DELETED This is a ribbon for soldiers fighting in Iraq. Pass it on to everyone and pray. Something good will happen to you tonight at 11:11 PM. This is not a joke. Someone will either call you or will talk to you online and say that they love you. Do not break this chain. Send this to 13 people in the next 15 minutes. Go."

Doesn't that just make you want to go out and find a Christian church, right now? Yet this is the kind of moronic nonsense that is being pandered about as 'Christian'.

Actually, it really makes me want to go forth, withdraw my life savings, and send it all to Joel Osteen or Pat Robertson. Or maybe Rude Rudy's campaign fund, because Pat and Rudy are going to make sure they never take "In God We Trust" off our nickels, and return us to being a "Christian nation".

But first, I guess I need to find out which version of 'the inerrant Biblical truth' is approved for instructing heathens in The One True Way, and whose version of Christ is the One True Version. Meself, I find the Tanakh and the NRSV to be perfectly adequate, but then, I'm apparently an unwitting heathen...or perhaps a witless heathen, depending on your source.

11/28/07

White man speak with forked tongue

"So, I see that some of the supporters of PCEOC have taken to using 'broken promises' and 'failure of compromise' as examples of how the Army is not to be trusted," observed Tookie. We were sitting on the rail of The Holy Land Bridge Over the Arkansas, sipping cappies from Quickee's and watching the sunset.

"Yep," I agreed.

"I really liked the one about failed compromises," said DinkyDau Billy.

"How so?" asked Leece.

"Well...it's a dog that don't hunt in this application, much like the ranchers trying to use access to all them archaeological and environmental treasures as a bargaining chip or rallying point after so many years of denying access," he said.

"Explain that," demanded Tookie.

"Hah. Well. Where did the ranchers get all this land?" asked Billy, "from the local real estate agent?"

"Ummmm..." ruminated Leece.

"White man speak with forked tongue," said Billy, "ask the Injuns what were here before whose land it is. I don't think you will hear them saying it belonged to a bunch of white meat. Seems to me that they's bein' ...'culturally selective' in how they remember stuff and how they apply it to the current sitchy-ashun. Hey. Hey. Snag the kid!"

Tookie was giggling so hard at Billy's comment she had slipped off the rail and was on the way into the river. He made a grab for her and got her by the scruff of her jacket.

Setting her back on the rail, he snickered, "That was a pretty good one, hey?"

"Sure was. Amazing, ain't it, how one Injun's goose can become a white man's gander? I can't believe they are that oblivious that they would use that argument. They got their hooks into it through outright theft and 'failed compromise'. So I guess they oughta know about all that, huh?"

"There's a lot of emotional pukery goin' on," Billy observed, "and it's makin' the Army's job a lot easier. These guys is spinnin' their wheels and the Army's gonna come in an' pick 'em off. Hope you gots an alternative means a makin' a livin' planned out."

"We're going to work from home, sending out subscriptions to Christian newsletters based on parking lot theology, emotion, and bad scholarship," explained Tookie.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. I figger we can send out newsletters like those chain e-mails that keep going around. Like that one about Eye-rack and that '9-11' verse out of the Koran. People will actually sign up for that stuff and pay money for it. We can sit at home and come up with all kinds of biblical interpretations and sell it as 'Christian news'. The fundies will go nuts over it."

"No, you will do no such thing, young lady," Leece rather emphatically stated.

Billy and Tookie put on their best kicked puppy looks.

"Oh, I dunno, Leece, " I said, "there's good money to be made in selling evangelical goods. Look at all those 'prosperity preachers'. Shoot. A good laptop and a copy of a Bible...the KJV would be best, I think, the NRSV would be way too liberal for most and why would we want to use the version most used by scholars...yeah, we could make some bucks off this!"

I got that raised eyebrow look.

Billy, Tookie, and I sat there looking like kicked puppies.

"I think we should do it on the sly," Tookie whispered.

"Shhhh...".

More on schools and safety compliance

Until recently, Colorado's fire departments had no authority to inspect schools. Fire departments conduct fire safety programs for kids in the schools, such as the smoke wagon exercises we see the La Junta Fire Department/Rural Fire District conducting every year. Fire departments can inspect if the school district allows them to, and some of ours have.

Fire inspections come under the Department of Labor's Division of Oil and Public Safety. This has been a bone sticking in the fire chiefs' collective craws:

"The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association, which represents about 300 chiefs, says it has been trying for years to transfer responsibility for school inspections from the state Oil and Public Safety Division in the Department of Labor to either local officials or the Fire Safety Division in the Department of Public Safety. But they were rebuffed, caught in a turf war between the state and local school boards.

The Department of Labor, meanwhile, acknowledged it didn’t have enough inspectors, but still insisted on retaining control."

and:

"
“I haven’t seen a state inspector in 20 years,” Deputy Lake Dillon Fire Chief Jeff Berino, who is responsible for schools in Frisco and Silverthorne, complained recently."

and then we have that old bureaucratic standby, 'the personnel matter':

"
State building official Eric Gillespie, who replaced Horn, told The Associated Press that his boss, Richard Piper, took away his authority to issue occupancy certificates earlier this year after he ordered students in an Aurora charter school to move out when he found numerous fire code violations.

He said Piper allowed the Lotus School for Excellence, with about 150 middle school students and teachers, to remain open in February despite violations such as a lack of fire escapes, fire alarms and sprinkler systems. He also said Piper issued the certificate of occupancy, even though he is not certified as an inspector.

Piper refused to discuss his relationship with Gillespie and referred all other questions to the attorney general’s office because, he said, it involved a personnel matter."


Schools are notorious for non-compliance with building and other codes as well.

Is all this why we saw such interesting slides to justify 3A?

What kind of product are we going to get for the $2.5 million bond, that is going to end up costing us, when all is said and done, in excess of $4 million? We have already seen that the old gym was in non-compliance across the board - electrical, fire, plumbing, construction.

What can we expect with the new gym?

For more, see this article:

http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20070810/NEWS/70810055

11/27/07

Mo' free munny

Colorado's Office of Smart Growth:

Smart Growth

It's run out of DOLA, Dept of Local Affairs - same outfit that brought in the CAP assessment/forums - and last year, OSG handed out $400,000 in Smart Growth grants.

They maintain a listserv:

Smart Growth Listserv

in order to "to help keep Colorado communities up to date on the latest conferences, workshops, grant programs, position vacancies, RFQs and RFPs, and more."

They have a staff of two: a director, and a minion.

How did I come across this?

Well, it seems that one of our Boulder Democrats in the Gen'rul Assembly wants you to feel more of the pain of owning a gas-guzzler:

"Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, says she's considering legislation that would impose a one-time "gas guzzler" tax — probably in the range of $80 to $100 — on the purchase of vehicles that get poor gas mileage. Levy said she's still working on the specifics but that she'll probably set the threshold at 20 or 25 miles per gallon."

What would she do with that munny so collected?

"Levy's proposal would take the money that results and give it to the state's Office of Smart Growth. That office today only has two employees — Levy said they jokingly refer to themselves as the "cubicle of smart growth" — but she hopes her bill would fix that.

That office could, through workshops or grants, help local governments do a better job of planning growth that doesn't rely so heavily on cars, Levy said. Last year, the office handed out $400,000 in smart-growth grants."

Boulder lawmaker targets gas guzzlers

So...we want to add a surcharge...tax... to vehicle prices, to collect mo' munny from the taxpayers, so we can hire more state employees to give away mo' munny collected from the taxpayers.

Yep. Sounds like the answer to all our troubles. I wonder...perhaps we could collect a surcharge from city utility users. The more they use, the higher the surcharge, and we could create an Office of Utilities Management to award grants to people who will be adversely affected by the inevitable rate hikes coming down the pike. Not rich people, of course. They already have enough money. I mean people on fixed income. Because, you see, once the gummint takes the money, it becomes ...The People's Money! and then we can give it back to The People. The only bone of contention, of course, is which people, but I'm sure we can settle that as efficiently and as effectively as with any other government-run program.

11/25/07

Roll Call

So we were sitting around the table, having polished off a rather large pot of ham and bean soup, with homemade yeast biscuits. The thuglets were all downstairs watching something educational. "Big Trouble in Little China", I think it was. Learning about Chinese economics or some such thing. Crazy Bob had hied off to Colorado Springs, where he was to meet his One True Love, a biker babe who ran a tattoo parlor behind a liquor store and pawn shop over in the Sand Creek district.

"Hey. Hey. I wuz lookin' at that City Charter," Billy announced. He sat there looking pleased with himself.

"And?" Leece asked.

"Well, they's required to do a roll call vote on things like ordinances," Billy said.

"That's my understanding of it, " said I.

"But they don't," Billy said, "What they do is flip those switches all together and that's that."

"What are they supposed to do?" I asked.

"Well, they's adopted Robert's Rules of Order," Billy said, "so they have to call each member by name, in turn, with the presiding officer last, and each member has to give a "Yea" or "Nay" vote by voice. If they use an electronic method, they are still supposed to do it by roll call in the same way. And that secret ballot thing is a pile a horse crap. That dog don't hunt. If'n they got a legitimate reason fer goin' to executive session, that's what they should do."

"What does Robert's Rules have to say about electronic voting?" I asked.

"Same deal. If they use electronic voting they are supposed to follow the rules for regular, conventional voting as closely as possible. In other words, there is still supposed to be a roll call, but they can flip red or green rather than answer verbally. Hey. Hey. Don't you think if the Congress of these United States wanted to install a buncha lights they would? But they still have to show up for roll call votes, and they still have to answer a roll call by name. And here's another thing...every meetin' in every other city other than The Smile Hi City starts off with the Pledge of Allegiance. I bin to council meetins in Fowler, and The Holy Land, and Rocky Vegas, and school board meetins', and other public bodies, and that's what they do. But not in La Junta. Huh. Huh. And ya know what? It's summa them characters from La Junta what's circulatin' that Obama pitcher, too. Talk about a pot callin' a kettle black. No racial overtones intended." Billy paused for breath.

"Obama? Picture?" Tookie asked.

"Yeah. Yeah. The one where he is standing there and he doesn't have his hand over his heart while The Hill and Richards and some other hack all do, for the Star Spangled Banner. Then the copy with the pitcher asks, "Is this guy fit to be commander-in-chief?", and then it goes on about him refusin' to ree-cite the pledge. Even though it's the Star Spangled Banner that's at issue. Dumb stuff."

"Ah. Another example of flag-waving pin-wearers coming to grips with the vital issues of the day," Toot Sweet said, sagely.

"Yeah. Yeah."

"Well, there's a lot of that going around, " observed Leece.

Indeed there is.

Schools and fires

From The Vail Daily:

Neglected schools no surprise, Colo. firefighters say

Similar articles appear in several other Colorado newspapers.

Bedfellows

We were having a post-Thanksgiving cappie over at The Holy Land Quickee's.

"Purty innerestin', some of the stuff that goes on around here," observed DinkyDau Billy.

"How so?" asked Leece, as she sprinkled a bit of nutmeg over her English Toffee cappie.

"Well, when I used to ride around down south, sometimes I'd ask them ranchers if'n I could ride my bike out on those lands, you know, to just look at all them archaeological and environmental treasures. It was jist me and...lemme see...I was on my Cannondale back then. Yep. Jist me on a bicycle," he explained.

"And?" she asked.

"They all tole me to git. It was private land and I wasn't welcome," he explained.

"That was always my experience, too," I said, "when some years ago I was doing some articles on the pit houses down those parts. It's all private land. If they wanted people knowing about those archaeological and environmental treasures, they'd do their own articles, you see."

"Uh. Changed their tune somewhat, huh?" Billy noted.

"You betcha. Well, it is, of course, private land. And yes, they can, of course, deny access to pretty much anyone they want to. Private property. It really isn't up for a lot of debate, I'm sure we will all agree," Tookie said.

She was right.

But now, the ranchers are playing a different tune. Now, they want everyone to jump on their bandwagon, even the environmental groups they have ridiculed in the past as leftie pinko 'tree-huggers'. And according to the latest from The Sierra Club, that particular group is snuggled up in the sack with the ranchers.

You gotta wonder at what deals have been cut behind closed doors over that one.

"Nah, I think it's pretty simple," said Toot Sweet,"the ranchers really don't want we hoi polloi sniffing around down there. They want us to write our Congress critters and Senators and stick up for 'em, but when it comes down to it, they don't want anything else to do with us. Their attitude towards we townie types has always been 'screw you and the horse/bike/Jeep you rode in on.' Take a look at that thing in the paper by that whatsername from Cheraw if you want to see what they think of city types. Certainly, they do not want us down there among all those archaeological and environmental treasures. And neither does The Sierra Club. I would not be surprised to see that the ranchers have cut a deal with the Sierra Club, giving their members access in return for this sudden support."

"Really. Do you know that to be the case?"

"Nope. Just conjecture. But it sure does fit, doesn't it? The Sierra Club is a fairly high end group of yuppies and wealthy people who can afford nice jaunts down to the Purgatoire and Pinon area ranches. Shoot. Those ranchers might even make some money off 'em, putting them up, feeding them, renting them horses, guides, and all that. And, the Sierra Club types won't have to mingle with we commoners. It's a win-win for them." Toots was on a roll.

"Wow. How's that fit with all those 'Good Neighbor' values and principles they were going on about a couple of months ago?" Billy asked.

Tookie got some cappaccino up her nose, she laughed so hard.

Really strange bedfellows

A couple of months ago, a number of ranchers from the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site area attended a "Good Neighbors" forum at OJC.

Kimmi Lewis, who ranches down that way, was a key player in getting the word out about the forum. At the forum, she and other ranchers espoused their conspiracy theories about The Nature Conservancy and other environmental groups. Listening to them, one can easily walk away thinking that such groups are all whoring for the Federal government in some intertwined, convoluted manner.

Now, PCEOC is pimping The Sierra Club as an ally. In their latest online newsletter distribution, they are circulating the editorial by Robb Vincent, in the Pueblo Chieftain. That editorial lambastes the Army over land use. Vincent is a senior policy advisor for...The Sierra Club.

I would really like for someone to explain to me the apparent disparity, in how PCEOC and/or the landowners down that way can on the one hand rant and rave against the environmentalist groups as part of a vast governmental consipiracy, and on the other, embrace them in their newsletter as allies.

Here is an interesting excerpt from some editorial work in another land and access issue, over in Hidalgo County:

"David Brower, Sierra Club’s first executive director, and supporter of the Wildlands Project, explained in 'E' magazine how environmental organizations have built their system to make their agenda appear main stream: “The Sierra Club made the Nature Conservancy look reasonable. Then I founded Friends of the Earth to make the Sierra Club look reasonable. Then I founded Earth Island Institute to make Friends of the Earth look reasonable. Earth First! now makes us look reasonable. We’re still looking for a group to come along and make Earth First! look reasonable.”

This statement was made in 1990. Today, we have the Wildlands Project, Center for Biological Diversity, Forest Guardians, Range Net, and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF!) among approximately 1400 other “environmental” organizations that are massaging the public into believing their claims. Some of these organizations tend to make other environmental organizations appear moderate in comparison to their extremist positions. Many are supported by large foundation and government grants."

The Wildlands Project Comes to Hidalgo County - Part 7

Judi Keeler, who wrote that, sounds a lot like Kimmi Lewis at that "Good Neighbor" forum.

So what's the deal?

Political opportunism makes strange bedfellows indeed. Our Sons of the Soil down in the Pinon Canyon area do not seem to be immune to this.

11/24/07

From the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal

Guns and the Constitution

Is the Second Amendment an individual, or collective, right?

Saturday, November 24, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

In recent decades, the Supreme Court has discovered any number of new rights not in the explicit text of the Constitution. Now it has the opportunity to validate a right that resides in plain sight--"the right of the people to keep and bear arms" in the Second Amendment.

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. In March, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declared unconstitutional the District's near-total ban on handgun possession. That 2-1 ruling, written by Judge Laurence Silberman, found that when the Second Amendment spoke of the "right of the people," it meant the right of "individuals," and not some "collective right" held only by state governments or the National Guard.

That stirring conclusion was enough to prompt the D.C. government to declare Judge Silberman outside "the mainstream of American jurisprudence" in its petition to the Supreme Court. We've certainly come to an interesting legal place if asserting principles that appear nowhere in the Constitution is considered normal, but it's beyond the pale to interpret the words that are in the Constitution to mean what they say.

However, it is true that, despite our vitriolic policy fights over gun control, the Supreme Court has rarely ruled on the Second Amendment. The Court last spoke in detail in 1939, in U.S. v. Miller, involving a bootlegger who claimed the right to transport an unregistered sawed-off shotgun across state lines. That opinion was sufficiently complicated that both sides now claim it as a precedent.

The dispute arises from the first four words of the Second Amendment, the full text of which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." If the first two clauses were omitted, there would be no room for ambiguity. But part of the legal controversy has centered around what a "well regulated militia" means.

Judge Silberman's opinion argued, with convincing historical evidence, that the "militia" the Framers had in mind was not the National Guard of the present, but referred to all able-bodied male citizens who might be called upon to defend their country. The notion that the average American urbanite might today go to his gun locker, grab his rifle and sidearm and rush, Minuteman-like, to his nation's defense might seem quaint. But at stake is whether the "militia" of the Second Amendment is some small, discreet group of people acting under government control, or all of us.

The phrase "the right of the people" or some variation of it appears repeatedly in the Bill of Rights, and nowhere does it actually mean "the right of the government." When the Bill of Rights was written and adopted, the rights that mattered politically were of one sort--an individual's, or a minority's, right to be free from interference from the state. Today, rights are most often thought of as an entitlement to receive something from the state, as opposed to a freedom from interference by the state. The Second Amendment is, in our view, clearly a right of the latter sort.

As a practical matter on the Court, the outcome in D.C. v. Heller might well be decided by one man: Anthony Kennedy, the most protean of Justices. However, in recent years he has also been one of the most aggressive Justices in asserting any number of other rights to justify his opinions on various social issues. It would seriously harm the Court's credibility if Justice Kennedy and the Court's liberal wing now turned around and declared the right "to keep and bear arms" a dead letter because it didn't comport with their current policy views on gun control. This potential contradiction may explain why no less a liberal legal theorist than Harvard's Laurence Tribe has come around to an "individual rights" understanding of the Second Amendment.

By the way, a victory for gun rights in Heller would not ban all gun regulation, any more than the Court's support for the First Amendment bars every restraint on free speech. The Supreme Court has allowed limits on speech inciting violence or disrupting civil order. In the same way, a judgment that the Second Amendment is an individual right could allow reasonable limits on gun use, such as to protect public safety.

Here's hoping the Justices will put aside today's gun control passions and look to the plain language of the Bill of Rights for instruction in this case, as Judge Silberman had the courage to do.

11/23/07

School fire inspections

Anyone who sat through the presentations for Amendment 3A, which was the bond issue to fund a new gym, had to wonder at what's been going on regarding maintenance and upkeep in the old gym. We were treated to slide after slide of images showing substandard wiring, substandard structural repairs, substandard plumbing, and indifferent routine maintenance.

I wondered, "Who inspects these repairs? Who is responsible for such shoddy, slipshod work? Have we the taxpayer actually had to pay for this crap? Who handles oversight for these matters? When they repair this mess, are they going to use the same incompetent morons who created the mess that we now see before us?"

Velva Addington said the district has a budget for this stuff. She also said that the fire district had inspected the building within the last year. Both statements appear to be false.

At the last Swink school board meeting, I asked if the repairs for the old gym had been prioritized and budgeted for in the next year's budget. I was told that they were waiting to see how 3A went. In other words, they did not.

That begged the question. In each of the presentations, we the taxpayers, the people who are now going to have our taxes jacked to pay for the 3A bond issue, were told that the old gym would continue to be used, at least at the same level as it is now, possibly even more so.

So would it not seem logical to assume that the district would have some plan in place to correct the fire and other safety problems? I could understand no action being planned or budgeted if the old building were going to be taken out of service. But it was going to continue in service no matter the outcome of 3A.

So that was the next question. "Did you have a plan and budget prior to 3A?"

The answer was, they did not. It's no wonder the old building is in such sorry shape. So where does that leave us?

At this point, there is no answer to that. In addition to there not being any plan in place now or previously to correct all the deficiencies, the fire department advises that there has been no inspection in the time frame cited by Addington.

Meanwhile, here is an interesting article. Given the discrepancies illustrated by the 3A presentations, and the confusion within the school district about fire inspections, repairs, and budgeting therefore, one can only wonder at the condition of the rest of the school buildings and how well they comply with the fire and building codes:

Call7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta investigates school fire safety after a recent school fire put students at risk (aired Thursday night on 7NEWS at 10) . . .

Fire Inspectors Call Schools 'Unsafe'

Dozens of Code Violations Found

Theresa Marchetta, 7NEWS Anchor

November 8, 2007

Jefferson County – School fires happen. There are nearly 15,000 every year in the U.S. Who is checking to make sure our schools are safe?

Call7 Investigator Theresa Marchetta went along on school inspections with West Metro Fire Rescue. Its inspectors said time and time again they find schools that are unsafe or have unsafe practices.

Teacher Linda Grotzke has seen the destruction school fires can cause firsthand. "When I walked through the door, I almost cried. This was the only time I cried. I looked at the walls; the wires were hanging out of the ceiling," Grotzke recalled.

She and her students moved back into Weber Elementary in Arvada last month after an arson fire damaged or destroyed much of the school, including her fourth-grade classroom.

More than 30 years of her teaching materials and mementos were destroyed.

West Metro fire investigators want to prevent that type of destruction. "I need to see in every room, every locker," said Lt. Shawn Bowman.

He was inspecting Dennison Elementary when Jefferson County Schools gave us total access to their fire inspection. Immediately, a violation was found.

Plants cannot be hung from the ceiling because the tiles are designed to slow the spread of fire. Any buckling or breaks in the seams, and you lose that protection.

It also violates the fire code to have wires running through holes in the ceiling since those holes provide another path for fire to spread quickly.

Inspectors said wires are not allowed through ceilings, floors, doors or walls, but they found this time and time again.

A 2-foot clearance to the ceiling is also required in every room of the school, but inspectors found boxes stacked all the way up. The stacks of boxes provide a fuel-filled ladder for fire to climb.

Inspectors found emergency lights out and exits blocked.

Even too much art on the walls, more than 50 percent, is a violation because it provides fuel for a fire to burn up the walls.

West Metro said what it found at Dennison is the norm, not the exception. They found 11 general violations but have found hundreds of other hazards at schools across the district.

A new law passed in July of this year gave local fire departments the authority to enforce the fire code in schools.

Now, if schools do not correct violations, fire departments can issue fines, stop work orders and mandatory evacuations. Schools can even be shut down if they are deemed unsafe.

Although all departments have the authority to enforce the fire code in schools, that does not guarantee they will use it.

Inspectors recommend you check with your local fire department to learn more about its school inspection program.

____________________________________

Colorado State Fire Chiefs' Association
Paul L. Cooke, Executive Director
PO Box
3945
Englewood
, CO 80155
Phone: (720) 874-8116
Fax: (720) 862-2181

www.colofirechiefs.org

11/21/07

"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. "

DinkyDau Billy and Crazy Bob were sitting at the dining room table. They were slurping feaux-feaux coffee with some kind of flavored - as Billy put it - 'light on the skids' creamer. They were snuffling some hot-out-of-the-oven pumpkin bread with chopped walnuts sprinkled on top. Leece was putting the finishing kneads on some bread dough.

"Hey. Hey. This is pretty good stuff," Billy said, as he polished off his second mini-loaf.

"Yeah. Sure is. I ain't had nuthin' like this in a long time, Leece," Bob added.

"Well, you guys snuffle all you want; there's lots more where that came from," she told them.

Tookie refilled their coffee cups, then made herself another triple 'spresso. I shuddered to think at the impending levels of hyperactivity. Well, we could always send her home about the time she started swinging from the ceiling fans.

"Hey. Hey. Wuttabout that 'secret vote' the other night?" Billy asked.

"Yeah, I noticed that too, " said Bob, "what's the deal? It's supposed to be an open meeting, under the Open Records/Sunshine laws. It wasn't an executive session. So what was up with that?"

"You'll notice Councilman Bob rather genteely raised the question," Leece noted.

"Yeah, he did, and he got told that was the way they always do it," Billy flipped back.

"I'm sure that the city attorney would not let the council do anything that wasn't on the up-and-up," Leece observed.

"Tell that one to Vic Aldea and the voters," snickered Billy.

There was a general commotion as we all mopped up spilled coffee and Bob shook about half a cup out of his beard, where it had sprayed. "Billy! Man! Don't do that while I'm drinkin' hot coffee!" He was somewhat perturbed.

"Why don't you guys go out and baste the turkey," Leece suggested. The big roaster with the first turkey was in the garage. Putting it out there gave her more room in the kitchen. Me too, since I was her scullery maid. I have many talents other than heathen photographer and general factotum. Of course, we were deprived of the deliciously savory smell of roasting turkey, but at least we had some elbow room.

"And don't shoot the dogs and cats," she said. The neighborhood critters were all sitting around the door to the garage workshop wherein reposed the roaster. They suffered no olfactory deprivation.

"If you do, toss 'em in the neighbor's yard," I advised.

I got the raised eyebrow look.

"And Bob. No basting with Jack Daniel's," she warned.

The rest of us were crestfallen. Even Tookie. She loves the Jack Daniel's sauce up at TGIF. So does Froggy.

"Oh. Sure. Right. You betcha, Leece," Bob acquiesced. There was a surreptitious series of 'wink wink nudge nudge' all around.



"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right."

- Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine, for the uninitiated, is the author of Common Sense (1776), The Crisis (1776-77), The Rights of Man (1791-92), Age of Reason (1794, 1796) among others.

Common Sense became the best-selling work in America in the 18th century. It was crucial in stirring up the colonists sufficiently to launch the revolution. Washington ordered it read to the Continental Army on Christmas Day, 1776, just before the crossing of the Delaware River and the subsequent major asswhuppin' the patriots administered to the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton the next day.