Thursday, March 31, 2005

In Vita Veritas

Ladies and Gentlemen, I request your undivided attention for the next few moments. What I wish to discuss if of vital importance to every human being alive or yet to be born. I have very strong feelings about this subject, although some of you may be surprised, once you have read this post.

Terri Schindler Schiavo has passed away.

Passed Away, an interesting turn of phrase. Conceived to soften the blow of this, the most final of all life events.

Now, don’t mis-understand me, I don’t intend to regale you with the myriad details of my personal opinion on this particular case. Quite frankly, my thoughts on this matter are complex, which should be expected, as this is a important and complex issue. The Cliff notes version:

This is NOT a Black/White, Right/Wrong issue. It is NOT obvious, as some on either side would have you believe.

It is NOT a matter of Ms. Schindler-Schiavo’s right to choose the way she leaves this mortal world. (She has that right.) It is rather whether, given her incapability of expressing that choice in her present condition, her actual wishes can be ascertained.

It is also not a matter of whether a legal guardian bearing power of attorney can make such a decision in situations such as this. As Mr. Schiavo’s attorney has said many times over the past two weeks, “feeding tubes are removed every day in this country”. Personal experience within my family has braced me to the bleak necessity of such decisions and I have the responsibility to make such decisions in the future, should the need arise. Where I do have a problem is in the demeanor and motivations of her legal husband/guardian. I am no attorney, but I do have what I like to believe is a keen reasoning ability. From all I have been able to discern from listening intently to both sides of this particular issue, I would sum-up by using a legal phrase: reasonable doubt.

And given any doubt in this matter, one MUST err on the side of the preservation of life.

But, as stated before, that is not my primary purpose for this entry.

This is not over. In point of fact, the really difficult part is just beginning.

We, as a society, have to decide what the true outcome of this decision will be.

Whether you like it or not, precedent has been set. Legal, moral, ethical and societal precedent.

The question is: Are we willing to walk down this particular path, or will we take steps to remedy the situation?

And this, my friends, is not just the much-invoked slippery-slope. This is a narrow and winding path along the edge of a very deep yawning chasm. You know the place of which I speak. If you have ever been profoundly depressed or deeply despairing you have seen it. It is there buried deep in your psyche. That hopeless void. That cliff at the edge of a meaningless futility that would pull you into itself like a black-hole of non-existence if it were not for a single spark. A will to turn from it’s threat of meaninglessness and live. A spark of life. A sense of hope. A will to experience everything this existence has to offer, before we step across the portal into whatever lies beyond.

The prime directive. The source. The reason for all that is reasonable.

Your very existence.

This is why we, YOU (whether you want it/realize it/recognize it/desire it) and I, form into what we have come to call society. If you are deprived of this primal right, you have no redress, save my action to right that wrong. Every other right that stems from this fount of every blessing, this in-estimable gift, can be at least addressed should that right be infringed. All save this. This is why we surrender some of those rights to the entity we call government. Granting said government authority to adjudicate this most important decision. To make decisions of life and death. Because we, as a society, have this most solemn responsibility to one another.

Many in agreement with the legal decision allowing the removal of food and water claimed that this should be a private matter and when elected representatives passed legislation on this matter, that the ‘government’ had no business intruding. As if the court systems are not an integral branch of government.

I personally heard others, opposed to these legal actions, make comments on the radio that were shockingly callous. This is not a political decision and political consequences are negated by the primacy of this issue. Likewise, the commentator who continually asked “how much are you willing to pay in taxes to support people in this condition” just does not GET IT.

My question to you is, do you get it?

Do you have a reasoned informed opinion of this matter?

Have you truly thought this through?

How far do we go? What constitutes a life not worth living? It is not surprising at all to me that disabled people rallied to the side of Terri’s parent’s. They fear where this decision could lead. If you do not fear this, you are a fool. We often hear that we are all one or two paychecks away from homelessness. Every time you leave your home. No, every time you get out of bed. No, even lying in bed, you could fall ill. No matter what life-style you live. No matter what your age.

My oldest daughter has Type-1 Diabetes. She is dependent on multiple daily injections in order to live. For the foreseeable future this is her fate. Is she being kept alive by ‘artificial’ means? Yes, she is, as the latest, most modern insulins are all synthetic. Too far fetched? Really? How many of you would feel squeamish when presented with a similar need to endure multiple injections and pricking your fingers for blood tests before every meal?

There is a continuum that starts with Terri’s condition and ends with people with various treatable diseases on the other.

Where along that continuum do we land?

Do you think that non-elected judges are immune to legislation passed by elected officials?

That any branch of government is immune to the will of the governed?

When the founders of this nation found themselves in profound dis-agreement with the British crown, they signed a document that was both a Declaration of their Independence, but also a covenant of what that new independence would entail.

We are all members of that covenant.

Need I remind you of some of the key points?

“truths to be self-evident”

“in-alienable rights”

“that AMONG these rights are LIFE, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

Note they enumerated SOME, not all of the rights. And notice the choices. It all begins with LIFE.

So, What is your position? Why? On What Basis? What Circumstances?

Where exactly do you stand?

And finally:

I don’t really expect any of you to be still reading this blog, let alone this particular post, but in the unlikely event you are:

Some of you may be saying “Oh, I’m not political…”

Listen to me very carefully, I am totally serious.

You are a leech. You are willing to partake of the many benefits and enjoy the myriad rights afforded you by virtue of your citizenship in this great country, but refuse the responsibilities.

But in this particular matter you don’t GET to pass the buck.

If you can’t be bothered to participate in this debate you don’t DESERVE to live within this largesse.


Monday, March 28, 2005

Where N Da Woild is MrG? OR Texas N Da Spring

This week I am in Houston. Houston is one of two major American cities directly adjacent to the NW reaches of that Heat and Humidity juggernaut, more commonly known as the Gulf of Mexico. Unlike certain people whom I both love and respect, in spite of their crazy notions of why it makes any sense to live in that OTHER city, I having experienced the Sauna-is-my-life experience that is life-by-gulf and am just as happy that this trip takes place during the latter days of the all-to-pleasant Winter-mode that somehow convinces these lunatics that humans were actually intended to endure the torment that IS May-September around these parts. (That self-same person's background as an English major and teacher should REALLY appreciate that run-on monstrosity I just concocted... ;->)

Houston is, however a nice place to visit during these more tolerable months, although I have been constantly reminded of just how CRAZY the traffic is in this town. (Permanent Heat Induced DeMentia? I should think so!)

First night (Monday) I had dinner at an excellent Cajun Seafood emporium, Jimmy G's half a block from my temporary digs, the Marriott Greenspoint.

The special entree, a stuffed fish smothered in etouffee was excellent. It was, however, the appetizers that truly shined. Oyster's on the half-shell cooked with garlic butter.

This Client is way up North in the greater (and I so mean GREATER) Houston area, just two exits away from the George Herbert Walker Bush Intercontinental Airport. This is my first time spent centered this far North and my more familiar haunts are a LONG way away. A quick appraisal or free WiFi access does not look promising. But then again even for-fee locations are not that plentiful.

Oh, well, occasional stints of dial-up access from the hotel room help us to appreciate high-speed access all the more...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Easter Poem

Like me, you may have heard/sung this hymn a thousand times.
For now, don't think of the tune, but concentrate on the words themselves.
(Emphasis is mine.)

I serve a risen Saviour,
He's in the world today;
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He's always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.

Holy Shabbat

Holy Saturday a time to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice, the eve of the Highest of Holy-Days for Christians.

I offer this insight, totally new to me when it was the message of a Wednesday evening Lenten sermon delivered by our assistant pastor.


If I say "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." What document immediately comes to mind?

If you hear the words "Four Score and Seven Years Ago..." Whom do you think of?

How about "I have a Dream..."?

Keep that in mind as you read this...

Matthew 27:45-46

45 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.

46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli, lema
sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

Psalm 22 (New Living Translation)

1 My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?
Why do you remain so distant?
Why do you ignore my cries for help?

2 Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer.
Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

3 Yet you are holy.
The praises of Israel surround your throne.

4 Our ancestors trusted in you,
and you rescued them.

5 You heard their cries for help and saved them.
They put their trust in you and were never disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man.
I am scorned and despised by all!

7 Everyone who sees me mocks me.
They sneer and shake their heads, saying,

8 "Is this the one who relies on the LORD?
Then let the LORD save him! If the LORD loves him so much,
let the LORD rescue him!"

9 Yet you brought me safely from my mother's womb
and led me to trust you when I was a nursing infant.

10 I was thrust upon you at my birth.
You have been my God from the moment I was born.

11 Do not stay so far from me,
for trouble is near,
and no one else can help me.

12 My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls;
fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in!

13 Like roaring lions attacking their prey,
they come at me with open mouths.

14 My life is poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax,
melting within me.

15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay.
My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.
You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.

16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs;
an evil gang closes in on me.
They have pierced my hands and feet.

17 I can count every bone in my body.
My enemies stare at me and gloat.

18 They divide my clothes among themselves
and throw dice[a] for my garments.

19 O LORD, do not stay away!
You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!

20 Rescue me from a violent death;
spare my precious life from these dogs.

21 Snatch me from the lions' jaws,
and from the horns of these wild oxen.

22 Then I will declare the wonder of your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among all your people.

23 Praise the LORD, all you who fear him!
Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob!
Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel!

24 For he has not ignored the suffering of the needy.
He has not turned and walked away.
He has listened to their cries for help.

25 I will praise you among all the people;
I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you.

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied.
All who seek the LORD will praise him.
Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy.

27 The whole earth will acknowledge the LORD and return to him.
People from every nation will bow down before him.

28 For the LORD is king!
He rules all the nations.

29 Let the rich of the earth feast and worship.
Let all mortals--those born to die--bow down in his presence.

30 Future generations will also serve him.
Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord.

31 His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn.
They will hear about everything he has done.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Via Dolorosa

Isaiah 53

4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Deo Venia
Deo Gratias
Gloria in excelsis Deo,

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

College Basketball History in the making

My father is a huge high-school basketball fan. He played basketball for his high school, (back then his 6'1" frame was considered tall, just shows how nutrition has improved...)

I have not much followed the sport, following my graduation from one of the power-houses among Missouri high-schools.

While I did attend a few games during my college years, it was because I knew people in the pep-band. Back then they had not attempted to join the big-time and sports were practically a second-thought.

I recognize the names a few professional b-ball players.

My interest in March Madness is limited to regional team participation. This years run by the alma-mater was nice to see, but never actually got me to change the channel.

So, you may be surprised how I spent my last few waking hours in Boston on Tuesday evening.

Watching the Lady Volunteers of the University of Tennessee make sports history.

I was on the road last year and ran across a documentary on Pat Summit and her team.

I like Coach Summit, (I would love to meet her and have permission to call her Pat) her story, her program, the values she instills in her student-athletes.

It is worth noting that this program has a 100% graduation rate.

It is worth lamenting that it is the only program I know of that can claim such.

And at 52, she's hardly done.

You go girl...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

American Diabetes Awareness Day

Today is American Diabetes Awareness Day.

My oldest daughter has had Type I diabetes (Insulin dependent) since first grade. When she was younger we were very active with the local chapters of the JDF and the ADA.

You will hear PSA's and many newspapers will run articles like this one. You, like most people who suffer from this malady may no longer be juvenile, but are susseptible to the more common Type II diabetes.

Just in case, here are the classic warning symptoms:

Very thirsty
Frequent urination
Losing weight without trying

More information in the various links. Here is another link I stumbled upon, yet another reason not to be tea-total. (As if you REALLY needed one... ;->)

Monday, March 21, 2005

Back N Bean-Town

Back in Boston, this time down in the Quincy/Braintree/Stoughton in the South of the metro area.

Flight into Logan was un-event-full, save for the delay in the parking-lot waiting for the driver to seemingly wait for every driver in the KC area before delivering me to the United gates.

The Ted Williams Tunnel has been opened to non-commercial traffic in recent years, tipping the scales in favor of traveling into the much busier Logan airport, rather than TF Green down in Providence and driving up to the Southern reaches of Boston, as I have on other trips.

I plan on dining at my family's favorite restaurant in the Braintree area. OK! OK! I know, I know, what the heck am I thinking? Yet another steak-house in Boston being frequented by a KC home-town boy? Yes, but I am going for the yummy Lobster Pie. (Scroll to the bottom of the Seafood.)

I will rest my weary bones at the Marriott Courtyard in Stoughton, as they offer free high-speed internet. (How long until the full-line Marriotts have to start offering free internet?)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

All Things Being Equal, Astronomically Speaking OR Fun Calendar Facts

Today marks the Astronomical event known as the Vernal Equinox, an event of both Scientific and Religious importance. The tracking and noting of this event has been passed down to us in the modern era from ancient times.

It is when we turn to our Calendar that the ancient world is so very prevalent in on modern daily lives. And the inherent practical decisions made to smooth the way for conversion of the Pagans to Christianity.

Witness Easter. When growing up in the Baptist faith, I was perplexed as to the unique aspect of Easters seemingly random meanderings about the Spring season. I attributed it to the lunar nature of the Hebrew calendar and chalked it up to tracking with pass-over. (Seemed logical at the time, after all, the time-line is right there in all the Gospels for any-one willing to pay attention.)

Turns out I was all wet.

Seems that the Spring festival was more than just a Pagan ritual, it was an ingrained and important marker in the planting cycles of a il-literate agrarian society. And so the annual celebration of renewal and fertility was co-opted by the new Christian faith. This explains all of the non-sequiter traditions associated with the pent-ultimate event of the Christian year.

I am not one to challenge the wisdom or this decision. I think it was brilliant.

I like-wise see no great evil in the egg-hunt I observed the Baptists were holding this morning in their play-ground next to their church.

Others have different opinions and are welcome to them.

I would welcome yours:

Happy Holy Week.

Back-Dated Entries OR Better Late Than Never

I can't believe I let this one slip past. Here is a brief entry marking the 1st Anniversary of this Blog.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Colour of Feast Day

I am told that Orange is the new pink. As I have no pink clothing (More likely Rose, I suppose, as I am a manly-man...) it was not that surprising to me that I had no Orange.

As a young man with little actual knowledge of my heritage, I vocally protested that my Protestant status would dictate Orange as more appropriate than Green as my colour for today. My Oldest friend has had several great postings related to our mutual Scotch-Irish heritage as well as consumables o' the Emerald Isle.

I suppose my adopted small-c catholic faith makes my 'warin O the Green appropriate.

So whatever your colour of choice, Happy Feast of St. Patrick, history's first documented Scots-Irishman!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Scholarship - Character - Leadership - Service

Tenents that we should all hold dear and practice daily.

This is the third such ceremony I have had the privilege to attend, one as a participant.

Lift high the torch of Knowledge to light the darkness.

This Day in History


Sunday, March 13, 2005

Multi-Tasking Multi-Media

A local radio talk-show host brought up the topic of teen-agers and their penchant for seeming information-overload while studying. Multiple-IM windows, along with music and television. This according to this study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The host was expressing dis-belief that this practice would surely lead to poor results in whatever studies were persued. Having personally observed this behavior in my own teen-agers, I wrote hime this e-mail:

Hi Jerry,
As anyone who knows me will attest, I am hardly the norm, but I regularly multi-task media.
I am, at present, listening to music and your radio show on headphones by feeding the radio headphone out through
my laptop soundcard input.  This while I am working on documentation for our latest server.
I have had friends note my un-usual ability to handle multiple inputs.  I have, at times, cobbled together input cables to allow me
to listen to two different talk-shows in each ear of a set of stereo headphones.  I suppose I would IM, but my friends are not into
that techie.
Back in the dark ages, when I was in school, I always had the TV on while studying.
I have two daughters who have exhibited the exact behavior you mentioned.  My oldest graduated in the top 5% of her class and my youngest, a Junior, will be in the top 5%.  Both participated heavily in weighted classes with high work-loads (Inter-National
Baccalaureate.) at the best high school in, arguably, the best school district in the state of Missouri.  Both of their boy-friends received/will receive International Baccalaureate degrees.  The one who graduated last year from the same school is now in the six-year med program at UMKC.  The other, who will graduate in May has also interviewed for the UMKC med school, but may decide to go into gene research instead.  (I know, I know, every fathers nightmare...  ;->)  Both of these young men do exactly the same thing you describe while studying.  I have another young man presently residing in my home who also participates in the extra-load of International Baccalaureate classes.  Ditto on his study habits.
BTW, I guess I am in the vanguard here.  I will turn 50 this October.
Keep up the good work!
BB better known as MrGadgets

Thursday, March 10, 2005

God save whomever and God save us from ourselves.

Michael Covington mentioned that Chuck and Cammie might not be tying the not so soon after all. Wow, Imagine that. The church that was at least partially founded on the issue of divorce for the sovereign of yore has the gumption to question the future modern-day sovereign on that very issue. Will wonders never cease? I tend to go with the crowd that thinks Chuck is out of the running for ever taking over the family business anyway. The boys will take over from grand-ma. At least that was the plan.

But maybe not.

Michael thinks this would be as good a time as any to give up the whole antiquated Monarch thing and follow the lead of the rest of the Western world.

I do find it fascinating that one generation after the last (??)English King adbicated over the scandal of divorce, both heirs to the next reigning Monarch had broken marriages...

This other post on Michael's blog discusses the root cause to this whole sorry affair (pardon the pun). In fact, this concept sums up the whole Red State/Blue State schism here in the former colonies. This is the Universal-Theory of the "Values Thing"...

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

One Year Old

One year ago today I started this blog.

It has been quite a year.

Hope this finds you still interested in my ramblings.

Enough dwelling on the past, let's get on with it, shall we? ;-)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Fw: Security Sense - Son of Phishing: ‘Pharming’ Phacts

Just when we were growing accustomed to phishing, along comes a spin-off security threat that has been dubbed ‘pharming.’

Phishing, as most computer users know by now, uses spam e-mail or pop-up messages to trick recipients into disclosing credit card numbers, bank account information, and other sensitive data.  According to experts, pharming may be worse — more intuitive, less intrusive, and more likely to succeed.  Here’s an early heads-up on how pharming works and how you can protect yourself.

How it works.  In pharming, hackers use one of two techniques (domain hijacking or malicious code) to reroute a victim’s browser to a phony Web site.  Any personal data then entered by the victim is “harvested” by the criminals and used to commit identity fraud.

Why it’s worse than phishing.  While phishing requires active participation on the part of the victim (who must first fall for a phony e-mail, then click to be taken to a new site), pharming scams can hit passive victims – even experienced, sophisticated computer users may be snared.

Why it’s growing.  The phishing threat grew by orders of magnitude in 2003 and 2004, but consumers have grown wary of the scam.  Thus, in the never-ending battle between law enforcement and criminals, the bad guys have been forced to come up with an even more insidious threat.

What’s being done.  Cutting-edge security specialists are taking on pharming.  It’s now possible to order plug-in software programs that let users see the geographic locations of the Internet domains they are going to.  This could alert a potential pharming victim who, for example, thinks she is typing in the name of her bank but is actually being sent to a site in Russia.  Additionally, some industries in which security is critical are beginning to adopt “two-factor” authentication, which would help prevent one of the major pharming techniques.

If you'd like to learn more about things you can do to enhance your authentication security and strong authentication, please visit http:security.

Carmen Banks
DST Information Security

© National Security Institute, Inc.

This e-mail and any attachments are intended only for the individual or company to which it is addressed and may contain information which is privileged, confidential and prohibited from disclosure or unauthorized use under applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, you are hereby notified that any use, dissemination, or copying of this e-mail or the information contained in this e-mail is strictly prohibited by the sender. If you have received this transmission in error, please return the material received to the sender and delete all copies from your system.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Yahoo! Yahoo! is 10 Years Old!

Man the time sure flys when you're having fun!
That was never ten years just then...

Want to celebrate?

Do a little dance and EAT some FREE Ice Cream!!

Yahoo! 10th Anniversary Ice Cream Giveaway!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Even the great one's can't live forever

The leader of the team of creative technologists that started the wild-fire revolution of the GUI User Interface you are using to read this posting right now has passed into the beyond. BBC NEWS | Technology | Creator of first Apple Mac dies Jef Raskin was a brilliant innovator in UI design. This article's title says it all:Jef Raskin: He Thought Different.

Archy, his final software project, was an implementation of the ideas in his siminal book The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems. Here the man himself talk about this project, music and art at: Jef Raskin the Movie.

61 is WAY to young.

He was a good one.

RIP and God Bless.

A Day which SHOULD Live in Infamy

On this day in 1913 the Amendment XVI to the Constitution of the United States became law, forming the basis for everybody's FAVORITE set of revenuers, the Internal Revenue Service. (The ATF being the second favorite target of scorn.) Some claim it was NOT properly ratified on February 3rd, but I won't go into that here. The fact remains that the people who control the funding of the thermo-nuclear weapons say it did, so it did.

Here is a brief history of taxes here in the good 'ol USA:

The thing to remember is that we ELECT those people who fund the well-armed agents (Yes, the IRS has ARMED agents.) so said agents can go out and gather more 'revenue' so the self-same people can BUY your VOTE with Federal programs funded by YOUR INCOME. And you WONDER why the Federal budget keeps going up and up?

Given enough intelligent voters, we can elect a new set that get RID of this BS with something more rational.

God help us.