Proposed Utility Rate Change Notice

From the city's website:


The City of La Junta Board of Utilities Commissioners will be considering rate changes in water and sewer at their May 13, 2008 regular board meeting. Copies of the proposed rate changes are available in the Municipal Building at 601 Colorado Avenue. Persons interested in providing written comments concerning the proposed rate changes may leave them in the City Clerk's office. Deadline for receiving written comments is 5:00 PM on May 8.


Social Services needs help

That's the title of an editorial by Lola Shrimplin over on the online version of the fishwrapper.

You can read it here:

Social Services needs help

Swink website

Click here:

The Holy Land


Birds of Otero County

Eurasian collared dove, 500 block of Lincoln. This species has been migrating through the southeastern US, after having been accidentally introduced to the Bahamas back in the mid-70's. It now ranges up the Arkansas Valley at least as far as Salida and Canon City, and is common in La Junta. It has a distinctive square tail and a black half-collar on its neck, both of which are visible in this photo.

This bird was snapped a couple of miles west of Swink, swooping in over a freshly plowed field from which a mirage effect rises from the earth warmed by the sun. This one is commonly seen over farm fields around The Holy Land every Spring.


Ann Coulter, Bill Ayers, and Bernadine Dohrn

I generally don't have much use for Ann Coulter. But every once in a while, she comes up with a real pearl. This one is in reference to Bill Ayers:

""If he had only said he bombed the building in Oklahoma City to protest American "imperialism," [Timothy] McVeigh, too, could be teaching at Northwestern University, sitting on a board with and holding fundraisers for presidential candidate B. Hussein Obama."

Who is Bill Ayers? Glad you asked:

Bill Ayers

Note that his henchwoman from way back then, Bernadine Dohrn, is an associate professor of law at Northwestern, and is the director of Northwestern's Children and Family Justice Center.

"Academic freedom" is a wonderful thing. Since the Air Force Academy is really into that, perhaps USAFA should invite Bill and Bernadine to team teach a special program on "America, My Country 'tis of Thee...".

The empty lot

I was cycling over on the east side today, feeling pretty good about being back on a bike and being very mindful of my wounded wing, and passed an empty corner lot. Years ago, there had been a two-story house on the lot. One day the people that lived there moved away, and shortly thereafter, the house was bulldozed into scrap, and the lot was cleared.

I didn't lament its passing.

One cold night a couple of years before that, we had a call over there, to do a welfare check on some kids.

We found the mother there with several kids. I don't recall how many.

I do recall the stench in the house, and the heaving mass of roaches on the kitchen counter, and even more roaches in the cabinets under the sink. Rotten food was lying about. Rotten garbage spilled out onto the kitchen floor. The bathrooms were filled with waste. Urine- and feces-soaked diapers. Unflushed toilet. Wet, mildewing, dirty laundry heaped higher, it seemed, than Pikes Peak. Filthy sinks. Filthier toilet, lack of flushing aside.

I noticed a puppy lying on the couch in the living room. It was emaciated, and looked dead. I walked over to it to check, and found that it was lying in a pool of liquid feces - on the couch - and it looked weakly up at me. It didn't move otherwise.

Upstairs I found a child, oh, about three-ish, hiding under a large pile of dirty laundry. The other kids were standing around, snot-nosed and dirty. And hungry.

Mom had nothing much to say. She was a stand out real life illustration for that award-winning poster, "Defeated by Life".

Roscoe put in a call for Social Services.

A short time later one of the workers showed up. She had been around awhile and we were used to working with her. She wasn't one of those liberal hand-ringers. She knew the score. As she walked through the house, she got greener and greener around the gills. In the kitchen, she had had enough, and bolted for the back door. I went out on the back porch with her, and watched her puke up her guts into the filthy snow and frozen mud. Filthy? It was loaded with frozen dog crap. There isn't much to say, and not a lot of comfort to be offered, other than perhaps, "Would you like a sanitary wipe? They're mine. I didn't get them from the house."

It was unquestionably the filthiest place I had ever seen. It surpassed even the trailer over in the 400 block of Hayes, the one where the landlord refused to fix the plumbing, and the single mom who lived there was washing dishes in the bathroom sink - the only one that worked - next to a toilet plugged with ...well...with shit. "Feces" is too genteel a word for it. That was fairly typical of that slumlord. There was no one to rein him in. What he needed was a baton across the kneecaps. But we are a civilized nation, and we don't do that. We don't even do that to murdering terrorists, the Democrats' whines to the contrary notwithstanding.

I asked that single mom, a young Hispanic girl, if her church could offer any help. I wasn't a church goer at that time, but I knew what churches were supposed to do. Sort of. I wasn't a church goer at that because in my experience, most churches didn't do what they were supposed to do. I had to ask, though. She told me that she didn't go to any churches, because she was the wrong kind of people. She had tattoos. Yes, she did, chola tats. She had three or four kids - it was hard to tell with 'em running around like they were - with a couple of different guys. She had never formally married. She was the wrong kind of people for the church, she said. She wasn't whining. She wasn't accusatory. Quite the contrary. She was very matter of fact about it. It was just the way things are.

So I knew better than to ask this mom, in this house, the one with the social worker tossing her cookies in the backyard, about getting help from a church.

And then Dad came home. He was a trucker. He pulled up in his rig and bounced out of the cab and confronted Roscoe on the front porch. "What the &(@_^%& are yew doon heah! You needs a warnt!" he hollered, in his best white trash, hillbilly, redneck-married-to-his-first-cousin accent. Judgmental! I can hear you saying it now.

Yes. Judgmental. Some days, that's just the way it is. An occupational hazard, as it were.

Roscoe was in no mood to do much more than grab the guy by the throat and shake him a bit. A little bit. Not much. Not as much as he needed to be shaken. And not nearly as tightly.

"Warrant? We doan need no steenkeeng warrant!" Roscoe hissed back at him. Roscoe was a fan of Humphrey Bogart and he loved that line from "Treasure of the Sierra Madre".

I watched Roscoe carefully, ready to cool him down a bit. This piece of human trash wasn't worth us getting canned or worse. The social worker came out on the front porch, saw the 'personal interaction' taking place, and walked away.

Roscoe was OK. He let go of the guy, who, like most of his type, was a coward. He quailed and shrank away to the corner of the porch.

We took the kids out of the house that evening. Roscoe was right. Exigent circumstances, safety of the children. We didn't need no steenkeeng warrant.

But the kids went back to the house, and it didn't take long for it to happen. And soon after, they all packed up and moved away.

Every time I pass by that empty lot, I wonder what ever happened to those kids. I wonder what happened to a lot of kids. The little ones, especially. The ones who Pat Benatar so eloquently sang about in "Hell is for children".

Jesus weeps, you see, in spite of the fact that we are a 'civilized nation'. Or perhaps he weeps because we are.

Environmental activism

We were sitting on the rail of The Holy Land's bridge over the Arkansas. We were snuffling fudgesicles. Tookie was swinging her feet and licking drips before they ran down her fudgesicle's stick.

"That was an interesting reference to Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Billy, " Toot Sweet noted, adding, "you know he was in thick with the Nazis, right?"

"Hey. Hey. I was just quoting from 'Rats, Lice, and History,' and besides the author was being real tongue in cheek on that one. He has a very dryly sarcastic sensa humah," Billy retorted, somewhat defensively.

"Chamberlain was a Nazi?" I asked.

"He was actually British-born, but he denounced England and became pretty much a German. The Nazis fawned all over him," Tookie explained.

"Huh. Huh. Ain't it cool how you can take all these rabbit trails and find out all kindsa innerestin' stuff just from one read?" Billy was amazed.

"Yes. Like that offshoot from your discussion on Job, following Bill Long's comment. That's how you traced down Hilma, and Gruber, and Roger Short. All of which was very interesting, and which stemmed from looking up info on the author of an essay in the Tanakh. I love this stuff," said Leece, "are there any more fudgesicles?"

Tookie handed her one.

"I think we should go carp fishing soon," Tookie said.

"Carp fishing?" asked Leece.

"Sure. It should be the county fish. The state has a fish. I think we should have a county fish. I think it should be the carp." Tookie was insistent.

"Let's get up a petition and send it to Governor Ritter," suggested Billy.

We all sat there, swinging our feet, nibbling on fudgesicles, and watching the sunset, thinking about becoming environmental activists.

"You heard about that cougar they shot in Chicago, right?" asked Toots.

"Um. The one where the fellow took the cops to task for not sending in the 'cougar squad'?" I asked.


"Cougar squad?" asked Leece.

"Yep. The guy said that since the cops knew about the cougar for some time, they should have formed a cougar squad, kind of like a specialized SWAT crew, and got him."

"They a little short on mental health resources in Chikaga?" asked Billy.

"Well, the cat was armed with a Glock, according to super secret lawnforcement photos I've seen, and he drew on the officers as they approached," said Tookie.

"I saw those pictures," I said,"and I gotta tell you, that looks like a plant. I know a drop gun when I see one."

Leece looked at us like we had lost our minds. She may have been right. But...here's the photo. It speaks for itself:

"Wow," exclaimed Billy, "pictures don't like, lie, hey wot?"

"Well...ask Rodney King about that," Toots retorted.


Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Taskforce

Working together to preserve and promote our heritage, culture, and natural resources.

For Immediate Release: April 23, 2008
Contact for more information: Jeanne Fenter, Chairperson, 719-826-2060

The Canyons & Plains: Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Task Force (SECORHT) will hold its Monthly Regional Meeting at Otero Junior College on Thursday, May 1, 2008, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., lunch and a special program at 1:00 p.m.

The Regional Heritage Task Force, formerly known as the Southeast Colorado Regional Tourism Group, is launching the Southeast Colorado Heritage Tourism Website, featuring the initial Four Heritage Tourism Pilot Projects of the Colorado Tourism Office with Chris Crownhart, MMG, during the morning meeting followed by lunch and a special program at 1:00 p.m. with Debra Goodman, Executive Director, Alamosa Convention and Visitors Bureau. Goodman will discuss the various tourism tax structures that fund Alamosa’s tourism marketing and industry development and how they can be used in the Southeast Region. She is also involved with the San Luis Valley Heritage Tourism Regional Pilot Project.

SECORHT successes since 2003 include discovering that our heritage, cultural, and natural assets are linked regionally:
 Developing partnerships to sustain programs that promote and preserve our assets
 Annually expanding the regional presence in the Audubon magazine since 2005
 Birding begins to mean business: Arena Dust Tours, Bent’s Fort Inn birding trail & event
 Raising over $400,000 for heritage tourism development
 Obtaining Preserve America Community designation for all 6 counties
 Becoming a 501c3
 Providing workshops in marketing, historic preservation, museum management, historic theaters & agritourism industry
 Technical assistance
 Creating materials that provide an image, accessibility, and educational interpretation for the region
 Adding value to our agriculture: Horseshoe Bend Ranch Lodging, Heritage Journey Tours, Southeast Colorado Birding Trail

The meeting is open to the public with a $10.00 fee for lunch and refreshments please RSVP by April 29, 2008
Sandy Bemiss, Secretary, sandykb13@gmail.com.

"Go on home and try it...."

An illustration of the cultural divide that explains why we in the United States will never understand the Third World

Rats, Lice, and History in The Holy Land's Quickee's

We wandered into The Holy Land's Quickee's, as we are wont to do of a fine Spring morning. Leece made a beeline for the cappie machine, pausing only long enough for a waved greeting to DinkyDau Billy, who was taking up an entire table with his laptop, study references, and notes. Billy was apparently seriously considering his previously stated plan to go back to school.

"Hi Billy," Leece greeted him, cheerfully as always. For someone who claims not to be a morning person, Leece can be very cheerful.

"Hey. Hey. Howzitdoon?" he greeted back.

"Hey Billy," I sort of hollered from the cappie machine, "Want one?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Hey, thanks," he replied.


"What are you doing, Billy?" Leece asked him.

"Reedin. You know, I bin thinkin' about you goin' ta school and havin' such a good time with it. You guys are already talkin' 'bout where you gonna do your doctorate. I bin thinkin', I already gots a masters and a buncha credits toward an M-Div."

"Yes, you do. What are you thinking of doing?" she asked, as I sat down and slid Billy's cappie through the piled papers and books.

"I bin lookin' at it. I bin thinkin', maybe I oughta just skip the M-Div and see what they have goin' in doctoral programs. Wutcha think?" he asked.

We stared at him. DinkyDau Billy, PhD? Well, why not. Billy, despite appearances, was very intelligent, very well read, and very well educated already. If he wanted to go for a Phud, why not?

"Why not?" Leece asked. She does that a lot.

"Wuddya think of DU-Iliff?" he asked, referring to Denver U's joint Phud program in religious and theological studies.

"Pretty liberal outfit, I've heard," Leece said, "especially considering you're an Old Testament kinda guy. On the other hand, you tend to vote either Democrat or Libertarian, so you might fit right in. Especially with those dreadlocks. Can you get into a Phud program in theology with a Masters in Political Science?"

"Huh. Huh. Mebbe. Hey. It's from Berkley. That oughta be librul enough for 'em. What about Fuller Seminary?" he asked.

"Good one, I think, that's one we're looking at," she replied, "and they have a campus in Colorado Springs, though they do not yet offer their PhD program through that one."

"Huh. Huh. Hey. Hey. I heerd you gice talkin' about Manchester. I dint know you like soccer. Wuts up with that?"

"That's another Phud program," she replied, "requiring a month's residency per year over in Manchester, England. That's one of the Nazarene church's schools."

"Ah. Cool." He slurped from his cappie, and dunked a Granma's 'choklit' fudge cookie in it. It takes a stout heart to sit with Billy when he is in slurp mode.

"So what are you reading now, Billy?" she asked.

"I gots "Rats, Lice, and History" from the liberry," he said, "cuz it has some innerestin' stuff about Biblical diseases and plagues and stuff. It's akshully a study of the typhus bacillus in a historical sense. The author is a real hoot."

"I read that one, quite some years ago," I interjected. I was a little tired of being a silent audience of one.

"Yeah. Yeah. Lissen: 'There is repeated evidence in Biblical history that the fair competition of other nations with the Jews was always rendered a triumph for the Hebrews by the interference of what, to others, must have seemed a biased and relentless God. We wonder at whether this does not lend a great deal of justice to the opinion of Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who explains anti-Semitism entirely on the basis of a clash of religions. Jewish teachings were widely spread in the ancient world, and if the atrocious vengeance of God on all who opposed the Jews - who apparently were no lilies in their relations with others - were believed, hatred and resentment would be easily understood.' Wuddya think?"

"I think you really should go back to school, Billy," Leece told him.

"Then he talks about them 'emerods' mentioned Biblically," he went on, "like...'and then He smote the men of the city (this being the Philistines) both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. The hand of God was very heavy there. And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods.' He explains that literally, an 'emerod' is a hemorrhoid, but notes that it is unlikely that even the Philistines could have had a fatal epidemic of hemorrhoids. It goes back to translations, again, and in the original language a more scholarly reading shows that the original words meant 'swellings', or 'rounded eminences' - and I don't mean fat Cardinals there, either. They's talkin' about the swellings, the buboes, related to plague." Billy sat back and grinned at us.

"I think you really should go back to school, Billy," Leece repeated.

"Yeah. Yeah. I'm thinkin' on it."

I looked over at Billy's cycling helmet, lying on the other chair. He had added a new sticker to it. This one read, "In case of Rapture, can I have your car?" Billy was on a roll.


Putting away childish things

This is from "Putting Away Childish Things", by Uta Ranke-Heinemann. If they went nuts over Constantine's Sword, check this:

Uta Ranke-Heinemann was a fellow student of Josef Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI and became the first female professor for theology in the world. She was stripped of her departmental chair by the Cardinal of Essen after she publicly had doubted Mary's virginity.

You can read reviews of "Putting Away Childish Things" here:

Putting Away Childish Things.

The copy I have now was loaned to me by one of our local pastors. The Woodruff can get you a copy via interlibrary loan. It's well worth a read.

"...the Church isn't interested in understanding or enlightenment: every variety of enlightenment strikes it as suspicious, if not worthy of damnation. The Church speaks only about the hurt done to its religious feelings. It closely monitors such hurts and is often running to the courts. Unfortunately it pays too little attention to the hurt done to our religious intelligence, which has no legal protection..."

And this, about the nature of church leadership and the pastoral community:

"Human beings want to believe. People are therefore the ideal soil for the seed of religion. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as they're dealing with God himself, because people can trust God not to hoodwink them. But we humans deal not so much with God as with his authorized deputies. Since they assure us that it's all for our eternal happiness and salvation, we let them tell us many tales. Believers accept without question what they're taught to believe and do, because when authority comes forward bearing a mandate from God, doubt seems to be a sin."

Gruber, Granqvist, and Short, et al

It would appear that some of our more...fundamentalist...readers really have their panties in a tight wedgie over DinkyDau Billy's debunking of the Biblical fecundity myth.

In point of fact, Billy didn't do it. He's just citing references from the heathen academics who did.

For starts, try this:

Roger V. Short

which lists some of Roger V. Short's research into the issue of breastfeeding and birth control, and

Hilma Granqvist

which briefly discusses Hilma Granqvist's contributions to the overall 'issue'.

Professor Gruber, we have already discussed.

Constantine's Sword

"Hi Billy!" Leece greeted Our Stalwart as we were walking up Colorado by Ringo's. Billy was sitting on his favorite bench in front of the store, snuffling from a bag of WondeRoast. There was no doubt this one had come from the dumpster; it had some strange looking sauces on the side of the bag.

"Hey! Hey! Wanna chicken laig?" he cheerfully asked, holding one out to Leece in his grimy paw.

"Um..." Leece turned a bit green about the gills. So did I, truth be known. I can be somewhat unparticular at times, but the biological stains on the bag kind of put me off.

"No biggie," he said, slurping the feathermeat off the bone like it was spaghetti.

"Hey! Hey! Nice editorial on that dustup at USAFA with the Catholic League," he told Leece.

"Why, thank you, Billy, I appreciate your comment," she smiled back.

"I read that 'Constantine's Sword' back when," Billy told us, "and that Catholic League is dead wrong about it being 'widely discredited'."


"Yeah. Yeah. If'n you goes to Amazon and check the reviews, you'll see about half of the readers loved it, and about half of 'em hated it. Guess who hated it?" he asked.

"I can't imagine," I said, snickering, "certainly not the members of The One True Church?"

"Huh," he said.

"So USAFA waffled on the deal. So much for 'academic freedom'," Leece said, "it sounds good in a press release, but when it comes to the fundies backing 'em against the wall, they fold like everybody else."

"You gotta understand," I said, "the Air Force is good at putting GPS-guided bombs up the butts of Muslim fundies, but they are somewhat restricted in doing that to Christian fundies, though there is little if any difference in mindset between the two groups. Fundies of any ilk are hateful people, spreading that hate in the name of whatever deity blows their dresses up. Look at the Islamic republics, where religious law holds sway. The fundies can do whatever they want to whomever they want. Civil law is the only thing that holds our own home-grown fundies in check..."

"They'd be burnin' people at the stake otherwise,"interrupted Billy.

"...literally or figuratively," I picked up, "though it's particularly nasty with Christians, given the...um...uh...dare I say it...'fundamental' precepts of Christ's teachings. There is no connection between Christ's teachings and the fundamentalist mentality. If you are a Christian fundie, you can crap all over anyone in Christ's name and praise the Lord while doing it. And they frequently do. That's why my favorite verses in the Bible are Matthew 23 in its entirety."

"Yeah. Yeah. Jesus was feelin' a bit testy that day, huh? Maybe our fundie friends should pay more attention to Matthew 7:21-27. Just because they think they's been 'saved' doesn't really mean they have been," noted Billy, "for example, these self-styled 'Christians' - an oxymoron if ever there was one - will call to boycott a business in retaliation for someone holding a different theological view. Look at what they did to Walmart. They didn't care if they cost all those low-paid workers their jobs. By God, they were going to put 'Christ' back in Christmas no matter who they had to shit on to make it so. Matthew 7:21-27 applies perfectly. We see the same thing here in La Junta. You get a business owner who dares to express an opinion the fundies don't like, they gang up to screw that business owner over. It's hateful and it's downright sinful." Billy was incensed. He was ready to throw the money changers out of the temple. In a manner of speaking.

We sat there on the bench, sipping from DinkyDau Billy's Diet Dr. Pepper cup. Leece very discreetly dug her own straw out of her bag. Leece doesn't carry a purse. She has more reporter stuff in that bag than Dana Priest. We looked down the street at that Baptist church, and the sign that was up, the one about the 'pair' below the tree. Looks like we have more than one 'pair' in The Smile Hi City.


Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

That is probably the most laughable title for an organization that I have come across in a long time.

If you visit their website, you will find that they whine and complain about anyone who has the temerity to question anything about The One True Church. They even see the State of Colorado as 'anti-Catholic'. Why? From one of their press releases: "Colorado lawmaker Gwyn Green has introduced a bill that would lift the statute of limitations on all future cases involving the sexual abuse of children; it would also grant a two-year period that allows those who are currently barred from doing so the chance to file a lawsuit."

Holy moly. Now why would the Catholic League oppose something like that? They say it is because the bill targeted only private institutions. I don't believe that. Public school teachers who engage in pedophiliac behaviors are rarely protected by the school district or the state. Quite the contrary; they are dumped so fast you wonder whatever happened to 'innocent until proven guilty'. And, public school districts hardly have the funds to buy silence from the victims. So could it possibly be that the Church still harbors pedophiles in the priesthood? Are they more interested in serving as the Bride of Christ, or are they more interested in protecting the church coffers? Or the church's already besmirched and soiled reputation? Do they serve Christ? Or do they serve an institution that must be protected at all costs? "The politics of sexual abuse", indeed.

This organization seems to want to gag anyone who would speak out against the Catholic church. Look at the stuff they publish.

That they call themselves a league for 'religious and civil rights' is an intellectual insult of the first order. Look at their press releases. They enjoy the protection of the First Amendment, yet their purpose seems to be to gag others, to deny others that same protection, the same right to speak out.

Recently, the Catholic League threw another hissy fit, this time at the Air Force Academy for including a speaker who used clips from the video, "Constantine's Sword".


Air Force Academy Hosts Catholic Bashing Film

The Air Force Academy, displaying a shocking lack of moral courage, quailed before this insufferable organization of intolerance, and canceled the presentation:

Air Force Academy Cancels Presentation

The League had called for 'investigation' into the Air Force Academy. And a three-star general in the United States Air Force wet his pants and threw in the towel.

Fundamentalists. No matter what church they claim, they all preach intolerance. They are intellectual bullies. Intellectual jack-booted thugs with their own version of Kristal Nacht.

Leece has written an editorial on this:

Catholic League


Parks and Recs Soccer

The Smile Hi City's Parks and Recs Soccer started off this past Saturday. Here, La Junta's Marvels take on the Swinkian 'mean machine'. Games are held at the Middle School every Saturday morning. Photos by Leece.


Birds of Boggsville

Leece and I were out to Boggsville earlier this week. Here are some foe-toes. I believe the quackers are Northern Shovelers:

This, of course, is not a bird. It's a horse. He was very interested in our doings and kept an eye on us the whole time. It should be self-evident that it's a horse and not some kind of bird, but after seeing that Big R has labels on the chick tanks: "Roosters (male chickens)" I thought maybe I had better make sure everyone knew the difference.

And this isn't at Boggsville. It's at the Pueblo Nature Center, and it's Leece's shot of the bald eagle, back by popular demand:


Billy Busts the Old Testament Fecundity Myth

"Hi Billy," Leece cheerfully greeted Billy as we went into The Holy Land Quickee's for a cappie. Billy was sitting at his usual table, all his study references spread out before him.

"Hey! Hey! Howzitdoon?" he asked, also cheerfully.

"Very well," she replied, "could we interest you in a cappie?"

"Yeah. Yeah. All this reedin' about Hebrew breastfeedin' has me vapor-lockin'. I could use a cappie," he told us.

Hebrew breastfeeding? Now what?

We settled in at Billy's table with our cappies.

"So what are you talking about, Billy?" Leece asked our stalwart.

"Well, you know how they's always begattin' in the Old Testament. Begattin' here and begattin' there. Seems like them wimmin ain't doin' nuthin but begattin'. And that's the impression most everyone has. Ask any Sunday school teacher. Them wimmin was droppin' kids like a buncha rednecks spittin' watermelon seeds off the front porch on a hot summer day." Billy was, as always, given to colorful descriptiveness.

"Yes. It seems that way. What have you found?" Leece asked.

"Mayer Gruber, the feller what done the intro essay to Job in the Tanakh? He's done a lot a research and writin'. He has this paper titled 'Breastfeeding practices in Biblical Israel and in Old Babylonian Mesopotamia'," Billy told us.

Raised eyebrows all around on that one.

"He opens with this statement, 'It has almost been taken for granted that ancient Israel was characterized by large families and that ancient Israelite women were valued in direct proportion to the number of children they bore'," Billy went on.

"Well, there are Scriptural references like 1 Samuel 1:8 and Genesis 29 that certainly seem to make that so, albeit as exceptions proving the rule," Leece observed.

"Yeah. Yeah. Funny you should cite that. Gruber does too."

"OK. So what's the deal?" I asked.

"Then he goes on to cite Granqvist's 'Child problems among the Arabs', which she did somethin' like forty years ago."

"OK. So?"

"Granqvist sets the stage when she expresses skepticism about the assumption that the wimmin of Israel had lots a kids," he went on, "and she's a hoot when she notes, '...that Jacob required four wives to present him with thirteen children cannot be considered impressive.' Then she goes on to say that she cannot find anywhere in the Hebrew Bible any woman with a great many children."

"Ummm..." ruminated Leece.

"It's true. I done been researchin' that. It's true. Anytime you gots a guy with a buncha kids you find all that begattin' is always with a buncha wives. I got his paper here, along with the cites outa Granqvist," he announced.

"So what does that all have to do with breastfeeding?" I asked, somewhat befuddled, not an unusual state of affairs these days.

"Well, then he draws on R.V. Short's 'classic study', Gruber calls it that, on breastfeeding, where Short studies contemporary third world agricultural societies and their breastfeeding cultures and how that affects fecundity. He looks at the manner of breastfeeding and the effect it has on 'lactational amennhorrea'..."

"Amenorrhea, Billy, not amennhorrea," Leece interjected.

Billy was puzzled. So was I for that matter. How did she know how he spelled it? It sounded the same.

"Never mind. Go on with your tale,"she said.

"Um. Yeah. So then he compares Short's findings in his study with what can be confirmed from Biblical Hebrew days and Babylonian Mesopotamian days and concludes that the Israelite wimmin were long-term breastfeeders and that this served as a kind of birth control cuz a that 'lactational...um......menopausal or um...'...

"Amenorrhea," Leece interjected. Again.

"...um...thanks...and that they weren't nearly as 'productive' as you might infer from the Bible. Wuddya think about that?"he asked.

"I'm thinking first that some of the academics of the world have way too much time on their hands, but then on the other hand, it's kind of interesting in that it gives a much greater insight into ancient life and culture, and it certainly affects how we examine Biblical readings. There's good science behind Short's findings, too. Good one, Billy," Leece told him.

Billy grinned, and then slurped his cappie.

"Hmmm. I gotta git summa them Granma's choklit cookies, the fudgies," he said.

Leece reached into her bag and pulled out a pack and gave them to him.

Taking one out of the package, he dipped it in his cappie, and then even more noisily slurped it up.

DinkyDau Billy's Bible Studies will continue...

Irrefutable evidence

Hemispherical warming has arrived, and with a vengeance!

Al Gore and other prominent scientists announced today that today's temperature was the highest ever recorded since the last time it was as warm as it was today. They now predict that average hemispherical temperatures will rise by double digits by the end of August. They also forecast that several large mammal species will likely become extinct by then, including the iconic Minnetonka Iceangler and the beloved Backyard Hockeyer.

Responsibility for accelerating hemispherical warming is placed squarely on the shoulders of President George W. Bush, who has refused to join in international efforts to reduce or eliminate the tilt in the earth's rotational axis that has led to the current crisis.


Let's surge some more...

From the Wall Street Journal:

Visit Michael Yon's website

April 11, 2008


Let's 'Surge' Some More
April 11, 2008; Page A17

It is said that generals always fight the last war. But when David Petraeus came to town it was senators – on both sides of the aisle – who battled over the Iraq war of 2004-2006. That war has little in common with the war we are fighting today.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.

The change goes far beyond the statistical decline in casualties or incidents of violence. A young Iraqi translator, wounded in battle and fearing death, asked an American commander to bury his heart in America. Iraqi special forces units took to the streets to track down terrorists who killed American soldiers. The U.S. military is the most respected institution in Iraq, and many Iraqi boys dream of becoming American soldiers. Yes, young Iraqi boys know about "GoArmy.com."

As the outrages of Abu Ghraib faded in memory – and paled in comparison to al Qaeda's brutalities – and our soldiers under the Petraeus strategy got off their big bases and out of their tanks and deeper into the neighborhoods, American values began to win the war.

Iraqis came to respect American soldiers as warriors who would protect them from terror gangs. But Iraqis also discovered that these great warriors are even happier helping rebuild a clinic, school or a neighborhood. They learned that the American soldier is not only the most dangerous enemy in the world, but one of the best friends a neighborhood can have.

Some people charge that we have merely "rented" the Sunni tribesmen, the former insurgents who now fight by our side. This implies that because we pay these people, their loyalty must be for sale to the highest bidder. But as Gen. Petraeus demonstrated in Nineveh province in 2003 to 2004, many of the Iraqis who filled the ranks of the Sunni insurgency from 2003 into 2007 could have been working with us all along, had we treated them intelligently and respectfully. In Nineveh in 2003, under then Maj. Gen. Petraeus's leadership, these men – many of them veterans of the Iraqi army – played a crucial role in restoring civil order. Yet due to excessive de-Baathification and the administration's attempt to marginalize powerful tribal sheiks in Anbar and other provinces – including men even Saddam dared not ignore – we transformed potential partners into dreaded enemies in less than a year.

Then al Qaeda in Iraq, which helped fund and tried to control the Sunni insurgency for its own ends, raped too many women and boys, cut off too many heads, and brought drugs into too many neighborhoods. By outraging the tribes, it gave birth to the Sunni "awakening." We – and Iraq – got a second chance. Powerful tribes in Anbar province cooperate with us now because they came to see al Qaeda for what it is – and to see Americans for what we truly are.

Soldiers everywhere are paid, and good generals know it is dangerous to mess with a soldier's money. The shoeless heroes who froze at Valley Forge were paid, and when their pay did not come they threatened to leave – and some did. Soldiers have families and will not fight for a nation that allows their families to starve. But to say that the tribes who fight with us are "rented" is perhaps as vile a slander as to say that George Washington's men would have left him if the British offered a better deal.

Equally misguided were some senators' attempts to use Gen. Petraeus's statement, that there could be no purely military solution in Iraq, to dismiss our soldiers' achievements as "merely" military. In a successful counterinsurgency it is impossible to separate military and political success. The Sunni "awakening" was not primarily a military event any more than it was "bribery." It was a political event with enormous military benefits.

The huge drop in roadside bombings is also a political success – because the bombings were political events. It is not possible to bury a tank-busting 1,500-pound bomb in a neighborhood street without the neighbors noticing. Since the military cannot watch every road during every hour of the day (that would be a purely military solution), whether the bomb kills soldiers depends on whether the neighbors warn the soldiers or cover for the terrorists. Once they mostly stood silent; today they tend to pick up their cell phones and call the Americans. Even in big "kinetic" military operations like the taking of Baqubah in June 2007, politics was crucial. Casualties were a fraction of what we expected because, block-by-block, the citizens told our guys where to find the bad guys. I was there; I saw it.

The Iraqi central government is unsatisfactory at best. But the grass-roots political progress of the past year has been extraordinary – and is directly measurable in the drop in casualties.

This leads us to the most out-of-date aspect of the Senate debate: the argument about the pace of troop withdrawals. Precisely because we have made so much political progress in the past year, rather than talking about force reduction, Congress should be figuring ways and means to increase troop levels. For all our successes, we still do not have enough troops. This makes the fight longer and more lethal for the troops who are fighting. To give one example, I just returned this week from Nineveh province, where I have spent probably eight months between 2005 to 2008, and it is clear that we remain stretched very thin from the Syrian border and through Mosul. Vast swaths of Nineveh are patrolled mostly by occasional overflights.

We know now that we can pull off a successful counterinsurgency in Iraq. We know that we are working with an increasingly willing citizenry. But counterinsurgency, like community policing, requires lots of boots on the ground. You can't do it from inside a jet or a tank.

Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory – and a democracy in the Arab world – is within our grasp. But it could yet slip away if our leaders remain transfixed by the war we almost lost, rather than focusing on the war we are winning today.

Mr. Yon is author of the just-published "Moment of Truth in Iraq" (Richard Vigilante Books). He has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.

'Splain it to me...

Over the weekend, Brother Barack stuck his foot in his mouth when he said:

"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them...And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

What an arrogant horse's ass. Is that his answer to the gun control issue? People who have jobs don't 'cling' to guns? Make sure everyone has a job and guns will go away? Why would not having a job make you 'cling' to a gun? What kind of gun? A Citori over and under? A nice Remington pump? A Benelli semi-auto? A Ruger M77? Or one of those evil black rifles? Or worst of all, a ...handgun? Do you move through the firearms scale, sinking lower and lower as your unemployment benefits run out? As your benefits run out, do you become...stupid?

If you have a job, do you eschew church? When you lose your job do you start hopping up and down and hollering "Praise JEEEEEZUZ!"? Well...when times are hard, people do tend to become more church-going, but is that only in Smallville?

If you have a job, do you like illegal immigrants? If you have a job, do you support NAFTA? If you lose your job, do you roam the streets with a baseball bat looking for Mojados to bash?

How does it all work, Brother Barack? 'Splain it all to me.

More on Job

DinkyDau Billy was sitting at one of the tables in The Holy Land Quickee's. He was in what we call his "M-Div" mode. He had several bibles and commentaries spread out on the table, as well as his laptop. I noticed he had his Tanakh and his New Interpreter's Study edition of the New Revised Standard Version open to Job. He was scribbling furiously, and then he'd start tapping on his laptop's keys.

"Hi Billy," Leece greeted him cheerily, "What are you up to?"

"Hey. Hey. I got into a debate kinda with a Fundie over that thing you put up on Job," he explained, "and so's I'm researchin' my position on it."

"Do you agree or disagree with Bill Long's assessment?" I asked.

"Oh, I agree. I have always thought Job got the crappy end of the stick. First, Satan kinda taunts God over Job, tempts, if you will...and even if you won't, that's what it was...and God goes along with it: 'OK, dude...screw with him all you want, you just can't kill him.' What kinda deal is that?"

"Not much, I think," I said, "so what's your NRSV say about it?"

"Well, in the preceding verses, they boil it down to some confusion over translation of the Hebrew, particularly 'emas, which here is not in its reflexive form. Here, it is translated as 'I despise myself', but all its other uses are in simple form, meaning 'I hate/reject'. And the second Hebrew verb, nikhamti, is translated as 'repent' but other uses argue for a meaning of 'rue' or 'regret'. "

Billy was reading directly from the scholar's notes.

"So a more accurate rendition of this verse could read 'I reject dust and ashes' rather than 'repent in dust and ashes'. So the scholar concludes that Job is not sorry for confronting God - making Job either the ballsiest SOB in six counties, or downhome cow-pie stoopid, but he is accepting that God will never give him the apology he wants," Billy was on a roll.

"Then we get into the really cool stuff," Billy went on, "where in verse 7 God essentially admits that Job was correct in his accusations against the deity. God tells Eliphaz and his two homies that he is mightily sore at 'em, and the scholar thinks this is not because they were wrong in what they said about God to Job, but because they failed utterly to minister to Job in his time of need. Now they have to make burnt offerings and have Job - and only Job - pray for them. Job is now playing the role of intercessor as described in 33:23-25. This suggests that Job has been restored to good standing with God, despite Job's previous railings. In other words, God is admitting that he done Job wrong."

"That oughta get the fundies vapor-locking," I observed, "but I gotta tell you, that's the way I've always seen it. If we assign God a paternalistic role - and we always do - then it's exactly like a father sending the neighborhood bully over to beat up on his son just to see what happens. That never made much sense to me. What kind of father would do that? And so Dr. Bill's assessment...resonates, as they say in Leece's cohort...with me. What's it say in the Tanakh?"

"Different perspective. I'm finding some significantly different wording, and they are more concerned with the legalisms behind the bulls, the rams, and what kind of offerings they are correctly associated with. At least in the scholar's notes."

"Who was the scholar?" I asked.

"Mayer Gruber does the introductory essay," said Billy, "and he says, 'when in the canonical book of Job God says to Job's three friends, 'You have not spoken the truth about me as did my servant Job', God is in effect agreeing with Job's contention, among others, 'He destroys the blameless and the guilty.' His opening essay is quite interesting."

"Mayer Gruber? Well, what would he know compared to your basic Bob Jones U. graduate?" I asked, dripping sarcasm.

"Hey. Hey. Wanna split a Juan Diego pizza? I'll buy."

There was one baking over in the kitchen. Resistance was futile. "You betcha. Shall I call Leece? I think she went home."

"You betcha."

So while Billy placed the order, I called Leece, looking forward to her arguments pro and con about Billy's findings. We also had to bring this up with the bald-headed preacherman...

Mayer Gruber


The 3 AM Call

Billy was sitting on the bench outside The Holy Land Quickee's. He was slurping on a Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich.

"Hey! Hey!" he hollered, as we walked up to the store.

"Hey yourself, Billy," replied Leece, "that sure looks good."

"Wanna lick?" he asked, holding the mudwich out to her.

"No thanks, I think I'll pass," she told him, "but I appreciate the thought."

"Hey. Hey. Didja see the latest Clinton foot-in-mouth episode?" he asked.

"Nope. I don't think so. Nothing comes to mind," I said, Leece shaking her head to indicate that she, too, had heard nothing.

"Seems Bill was on a roll," Billy explained, "down in Booneville, Indiana. He was 'defending' her 'mis-statement' about ducking from sniper fire in Bosnia."

"Oh?" We waited for more details.

"Yeah. Yeah. He said, "You would have thought, you know, that she'd robbed a bank the way they carried on about this,and some of them, when they're 60, they'll forget something when they're tired at 11 at night, too."

"Really." Leece seemed a bit surprised at that.

"Um..." I ruminated, "but if being 60 and being tired at 11 at night is an excuse...what about that campaign plug about 'who would you want answering the phone at 3 in the morning?"

"Really." Leece was holding it steady.

"Well, yeah, that's the question, ain't it? So The Hill called Bill and told him to put a sock in it. Or words to that effect, " Billy went on.

"So I guess the message is to go with the younger guy, good ol' Obama, because he isn't 60 and doesn't get so tired that he starts babbling nonsense and falsehoods?" I was curious.

"So it would seem," Leece observed, "Say, I'm going to get one of those mudwiches. Would you like one?"

"Sure," I said.

"Me too," chimed in Billy.

"You've already had one, " Leece told him.

"Naw. I done had two awready. You kin git me number three. Please."

Shaking her head in amused resignation, Leece went after the mudwiches.


On Job 42:7

"Thank God that He is big enough to admit His mistakes."

- Bill Long

Thanx and a tip of the hat to Anonymous for posting a link to Bill Long's website.


Luke 4:22-30 and the Christian spirit

Leece has a book by Beth Moore, entitled "Jesus-90 days with the one and only". It's kind of a journal. Moore likes to do a bit of exegetic examination of different biblical verses in the original language. In the case of the subject verse, that is Koine Greek.

One of Moore's commentaries in that book is worth excerpting and sharing:

"The translation 'spoke well of' in Luke 4:22 comes from the Greek word martureo, meaning 'to be a witness, bear witness...to be able or ready to testify.' 'Amazed' is the Greek word thaumazo, meaning 'struck with admiration'. Either of these words could be used by spectators after attending any rock concert and being impressed by a talent. The wording suggests that they were impressed by Christ's delivery -not so much what he said, but how he said it.

Let me draw on my experience and offer a possible explanation. After delivering a message, nothing hits me like cold water more than someone saying, 'You are a great speaker.' First of all, I know better than that. I have a thick accent and use tons of country colloquialisms. Far more importantly, though, if someone makes a statement like that, I know I either I failed miserably or the person didn't get it. In the case of Jesus' teaching, we know he can't fail, so obviously, they didn't get it. In Jesus' seemingly harsh words (vv. 24-27), he may have been responding to their grading his speech rather than receiving his message.

Notice also the second consideration: the velocity of the crowd's change of mood. The crowd's mood went from admiration to a murderous rage in the moments of Christ's confrontation. Luke describes them as furious (v. 28). The word in the text for 'furious' comes from the word thuo, meaning 'to move impetuously, particularly as the air or wind, a violent motion or a passion of the mind.' The north wind of their admiration suddenly reversed into a south wind of tornadic proportions. When a mood can change in a matter of moments from admiration to murderous fury, something is amiss.

The types of crowds Christ encountered two thousand years ago still fill many churches today. Many congregations want to hear impression A+ messages, but the messenger better keep his confrontational thoughts to himself. The same committee that throws out the red carpet to a new preacher may eventually roll him out the door in it! Meaness at church sometimes exceeds anything that occurs in secular surroundings. As James 3:10 says, 'My brethren, these things ought not to be so'. (KJV)."

That's pretty good.

I think Moore has something with her evaluation of those few verses out of Luke.


Republicans, wedding dresses, and altar calls

We were still sitting on the bench by the library. Tookie had pedaled up on her Hot Rock and was munching chocolate covered 'spresso beans. She was as wound up as that bald-headed preacherman when he's been sucking down Mountain Dew.

"So you think the Repubs are the salvation of the country?" she asked DinkyDau Billy, drawing from his recent tirade about the Democratic Convention back in '68.

"Nope. Nope. No way," Billy replied, "the Republicans have their own pitfalls."

"Like what?" Toot Sweet queried.

"Well, you've heard the one about the wedding dress?" asked Billy.

"Yes, I have. That was funny," replied Toots.

"I haven't heard it," interjected Leece.

"I can't tell you, cuz yer such a Nancy Nazarene," said Billy, earning him a raised eyebrow and causing Tookie to cough up a 'spresso bean.

"Oh, Unca Billy," Toots said, "you really have that wrong. 'Cita has a really warped sensa humah. She thinks the cops are funny when they get on a roll in dispatch, and that's as weird as it gets. You missed the boat on that one."

"You have a sense of humor?" Billy asked Leece.

Another raised eyebrow. Actually, Leece has a very droll sense of humor, but she is just better at restraining it than most of us.

"OK. Well, this woman went to a wedding dress dealer. She tole the dealer she was gittin married for the fourth time and wanted a nice white dress with a veil. The dealer kinda raised her eyebrow, much in the same manner as our companion here, and advised the lady that white dresses were generally thought to apply to ...less experienced...wimmin, and suggested an ivory or sky blue gown. 'Well,' replied the lady, a little peeved at the dealer's directness, 'I can assure you that a white gown would be quite appropriate. Believe it or not, despite all my marriages, I remain as innocent as a first-time bride. You see, my first husband was so excited about our wedding, he died as we were checking into our hotel. My second husband and I got into such a terrible fight in the limo on our way to our honeymoon that we had that wedding annulled immediately and never spoke to each other again.' 'What about your third husband?' asked the wedding dress dealer. 'That one was a Republican,' said the woman, 'and every night for four years, he just sat on the edge of the bed and told me how good it was going to be, but nothing ever happened.'

Leece was sipping from Billy's cup of diet Dr. Pepper. She snorted some up her snoot. Tookie started pounding her on her back. "Dignity and decorum, Cita," she said, "Dignity and decorum. Let's try to be at least a little bit lady-like, huh?" That's what Leece is always telling Tookie. Tookie is good at rubbing it in.

Leece recovered, and Toot Sweet gave her a chocolate covered 'spresso bean to help the recovery.

"Yep. On the other hand, at least Repubs ain't like them people what interrupt at altar calls. They's more like Democrats. They always know what's best fer ya, even if they are clueless about why you's there in the first place."

"What do you mean, Billy?" asked Leece, blowing her nose, actually honking it in decidely unlady-like manner.

"Them people's why I don't do altar calls any more," he said.

"You don't even go to church anymore," Tookie observed. Billy is from Virginia, where as a kid he attended the same Presbyterian church as had Stonewall Jackson, way back when.

"Yeah. Yeah. They's a lot of the reason fer that, too," Billy said, "Well, one day I was having a bad time of it, thinkin' about when I had to shoot all them ARVN's off the skids an I was rememberin' the looks on their faces. I had demons in my head. So when the preacher man invited people to come to the altar and talk ta God, I did it. But a bunch a them wimmin saw me, and came down and grabbed me by the hand and started prayin' over me about my Harley and them beers they saw me drinkin' at the Hogswill Saloon and Steakhouse, an' I couldn't git a word in edgewise. God wasn't even listenin' to all the jabber. I couldn't even feel him there. I had demons in my head an they was goin' on about stupid stuff that don't matter."

On one flight into Tchepone, when the ARVN, the South Vietnamese Army, was getting slaughtered by the North Vietnamese, the ARVN troopers were in such a panic they were trying to climb into the Hueys. The Hueys were so overweight because of that they couldn't lift off. There are pictures of ARVN's hanging by their hands on the chopper skids, and falling off. Billy's pilot couldn't get off the ground, and as fast as Billy and his other gunner were throwing the ARVN's out, more would climb aboard. The North Vietnamese were coming in by the hundreds, bayoneting the ARVN's and shooting them in the backs as they fled. So Billy pulled out his pistol and started shooting ARVN's. Billy's Huey had a load of wounded aboard. Billy was one of them, though he didn't know it yet. He's still paying for that day.

"Yes, I know what you mean, Unca Billy, I think an altar call is a private matter. Like that Josh Turner song, 'Me and God'. I won't do altar calls for the same reason. Why don't people see how rude it is to interrupt like that? If I want someone to pray with me I'll ask 'em," Tookie said, explaining her own views on the subject.

"So they's like Democrats. They know what's best for you, even if they are clueless," said Billy.

"Don't you think they are just trying to be helpful?" I asked.

"Don't matter. It's still rude. Hey. If you and I was sittin' there in The Barista havin' a conversation and some dude jist came up uninvited and interrupted, tossin' in his viewpoint as to what we was talkin' about, how would you take that?" he bounced back.

"Good point," I agreed.

We sat there pondering the mental processes involved in such doings.

"You know, the first few times I heard that song I thought he was singing 'Mean God'. It seemed very strange to me," I shared.

I got some of 'those' looks. No one said anything. They went back to pondering.

Historical note:

Gilbert Alvarado's account of 3 March 1971, from the Comancheros website.

The Comancheros' main Lam Son 719 page is here.  Recordings of radio transmissions between crews play when the page is launched.



We were walking up Colorado and there was DinkyDau Billy, snuffling a bag of WondeRoast. This time he was on the bench by the library. He was throwing his chicken bones on the sidewalk. He seemed...discomfited.

"Hey! Hey!" he hollered, as we approached. He held up a 'chicken laig' for Leece's inspection, eyebrows raised in query.

"What the heck," she said, taking the proferred morsel. She didn't even ask about the source. She too was somewhat discomfited.

"What's bugging you two?" I asked.

"It's them Democrats again," said Billy, "they's still snappin' at each other's guts like a pack a mongrel dogs. And now Hillary has another blooper."

"Which one is that?" I asked.

"Oh, that hospital story. It's as bad as running for the cars 'under sniper fire'," explained Leece,"that woman wouldn't know reality if it hit her in the face like a dead fish."

"Why would anyone want to smack The Hill with a dead fish?" I asked. I was doing a lot of asking today.

"Never mind," Leece said, somewhat testily.

"Yeah. Yeah. And they's still goin' at it over Flor-i-day and Mishergin," muttered Billy, shaking his head ruefully, "not ta mention them superdelegates, who could completely steal the nomination from the people. Think about it. They could easily take the nomination away from Obama. Then what would happen?"

"I remember what happened up in Chicago in 1968 when the Democrats nominated Hubert Humphrey. He hadn't even run in the primaries. The delegates stole the nomination from the people, from McCarthy. They was a lotta very aggervated people then," Billy went on, answering his own question.

That was an understatement. The Democrats brought us one of the worst riots this country has ever seen, because of their sleazy shenanigans.

"And then Hillary's top dog in the campaign has quit," observed Leece, "he's been blowing hot and cold over free trade. On the one hand, Hillary is speaking against it, and on the other, her chief campaign advisor is negotiating a trade deal with the Colombians. Talk about having your hands in both pockets."

"Well, they's Democrats, so that comes natural for 'em. They's got their hands in your pockets and my pockets and even your pockets," he said, pointing at me with that last one.

"Speaking of which, how much of an economic stimulus do you think you'll be receiving," I asked Billy.

"I think I'm going to have to pay the gummint," he said, "cuz I made too much off'n my Vanguards. So I make too much money and obviously don't pay enough taxes so I don't need no economic incentive. See, if I didn't make enough to pay much or any taxes I'd get the full amount, which is a lot more than I paid into taxes. If I made enough not to qualify for any gummint bennies, other than my GI disability, I'd break even. It's kinda nuts. It follers the same logic as the Democrat nominating process."

We sat there marveling at that logic.


Southeast Ag Appreciation Day Planned at State Capitol

From Economic Development and Events Coordinator:

Southeast Ag Appreciation Day Planned at State Capitol

LA JUNTA, COLO. – April 2, 2008 – The first Southeast Ag Appreciation Day, sponsored by Colorado State Representative Wes McKinley, Colorado State Senator Ken Kester, The Ag Journal and the City of La Junta, is planned for Friday, April 18 at the State Capitol in Denver. The event is in appreciation of agriculture and the value it provides to the Southeast region of the State.

“ This is a great event that we put together to highlight the many values agriculture brings not only to the state of Colorado but the contribution agriculture makes to the quality of life in Southeast Colorado,” says McKinley.

The public is invited to attend the casual event on the State Capitol lawn from 11 am – 4 pm and a BBQ meal will be served.

For questions or additional information, contact Pamela Denahy, City of La Junta Events Coordinator, pam.denahy@ojc.edu or 719.384.6977 or Ron Davis, La Junta Economic Development Director, ron.davis@ojc.edu or 719.384.6965.
Pamela Denahy
Events Coordinator


Here is a video of a backdraft/flashover set up at a fire fighting training facility:

See how the fire has been starved of oxygen, as in a house with a smoldering fire that has used up most of the available oxygen. When the firefighters open the door - as they did on the house fire yesterday - fresh air and oxygen rushes in and the smoke and gases ignite quite forcefully. This is why the firefighters were crouched down and crawled in. When or if a backdraft or flashover occurs, or how violent it may be, is highly variable.

Here's a real one that is a little different:


Hoser action

La Junta FD answered a residential fire call just before lunchtime today. More pictures and more details are forthcoming on the T-D website and print edition tomorrow morning. Click on these images for a larger view.


Photo by Ark Valley Independent
The initial entry team checks gear before going in. Black smoke can be seen pouring out the top of the door. This smoke presents a flash hazard when the door is opened and a fresh supply of oxygen hits it. There is great potential for a flash of almost explosive proportions. Fortunately that did not occur this time.

Photo by Ark Valley Independent
Volunteer firefighter Jeremy Candelario gulps down some fresh air while telling others of what he observed inside the house.

Photo by Ark Valley Independent
Candelario goes down on all fours while his comrades change his air bottle for him.

Photo by Ark Valley Independent
Volunteer firefighters cut a vent into the roof of the burning house. This gives an escape route to hot gases and helps reduce the heat in the structure.

Photo by Ark Valley Independent
Another view of the venting crew at work.

Stepping back

Debbie Shank used to be a Walmart employee. She signed up for their health care insurance.

Then she was run over by a semi, and ended up with brain damage.

She and her husband sued the trucking company and won a million bux.

Then Walmart sued Debbie to recover the money that had been paid for by the Walmart health insurance, for her care as the result of the accident.

Walmart's reasoning, and it really wasn't flawed reasoning, was that since Shanks sued the trucking company and won, that was the money that should have been used for her medical care.

But a million bux, especially whatever is left after lawyer, legal, and other fees, doesn't go far for medical care these days, especially long term.

Here is a statement from Walmart:

"Occasionally, others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times," Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Pat Curran said in a letter.

In other words, Walmart is dropping its suit against the Starks.

The others that helped them 'step back' were the bloggers and others who pointed out that Walmart corporate HQ was a collection of cold-hearted bloodsuckers, overpaid like almost all other CEO's and high-level execs, and out of touch with reality. There was another move to boycott Walmart. A couple of such moves.

Yes, it is quite true that occasionally, others help us step back and look at situations in a different way. Most, if not all, of us have experienced that. That said, is there anyone who really thinks that Pat Curran and his Bentonville homies were moved to do this out of the goodness of their hearts?

Meanwhile, as of noon on Tuesday, Walmart remains America's Favorite Place to Stand in Line, and they are still selling Holy Pita Bread mislabled as "Italian bread".


He's right

During today's Congressional lambasting of oil executives, said lambasting being mostly at the hands of Democrats who now control Congress, Shell Oil Company president John Hofmeister, said that the energy supply outlook was "sobering" and that the U.S. needed to tackle the energy quandary with programs akin to the Manhattan Project, or Apollo moon launch.

He's right.

That is exactly what needs to happen. It needs to be a great national scientific and economic effort on a par with those two epic projects.

Will it happen?

or will our Congressional 'leadership' continue to point fingers and take useless rhetorical shots - well deserved but still useless and rhetorical shots - at Big Oil. Posturing for the public, appearing to be on the side of We the Hoi Polloi, looks good in sound bytes, but what good does it do otherwise?

Was anyone listening to Hofmeister?

Obama's a pimp Mac Daddy?

Here is the latest Christian viewpoint on Barack Obama. This guy could teach the Fundies a thing or two about character assassination:

Well, what can you say? The pastor has "the Word of God in his mouth". He said so himself. How can you doubt that?

Here is more about this particular pastor:

ATLAH World Ministries: All Jesus, All the Time