I Just Wanted To Say...

What is your problem?

Name:
Location: Georgia, United States

I am me. More than I was, less than I will be. This is difficult. Facts-female, southern, mother and grandmother. Abstract-a Christian, a loner, intelligent, somewhat arrogant, impatient with stupidity, an unusual sense of humor.

10/27/2005

Gritting my teeth.

Had to attend a mandatory HIPPA(Health Insurance and Portability Privacy Act) training class yesterday and I thought my eyeballs would explode out of my head before it was over.

The conference room was full of upper level police and fire department personnel, court staff, investigators, computer center staff and sundry supervisory personnel from all over the county. Mature and responsible adults.

This sweet young thing from personnel steps up to the podium and begins:

"Now my name is M--- and I am going to talk to you about HIPPA and how important it is and I really want you to pay attention to me, because nobody here wants to get into trouble, do they?" Giggle, giggle. She proceeds to inform us that while HIPPA guidelines are federal, the local county governing body has decided to "improve and refine" those guidelines. Which amounts to the typical, we're going to cover our asses scenario, so that almost anything becomes illegal if they determine it to be so. It was a long, downhill slide from that point on. Her presentation was an incredibly patronizing, condescending piece of tripe.

Care for a few gems?

"Gossip is a bad thing because it hurts people!" Giggle, giggle.

"It's important for you to know your password in order to get onto your computer." Giggle, giggle.

"If an employee calls in sick and doesn't want to tell you what the sickness is, don't push it , because that information could be covered under the HIPPA act and you might not have a need to know." Giggle, giggle.
This was in response to a supervisor asking for a clarification of an item in the handout referring to an employee's right to privacy. When the supervisor protested and asked how was she supposed to determine if the employee was being factual, the reply was:
"If you have any questions about health privacy issues, you can contact the Deputy Privacy Director for guidance." Giggle, giggle

I found the training class irritating on a personal level, because of the way it was presented. But underneath that there was a level of disquiet that grew once I got over my irritation. First, because it is further proof to me that the idiots have indeed taken over the asylum and now exchanging information about a co-worker's health can cause you problems on your job. Second, because that term "Deputy Privacy Director" evokes in me shadowy images of communism and group-speak from Orwell's 1984. But last and the thing that worries me the most, is that in spite of her inane giggles and moronic presentation, she was completely serious about "improper exchanges of information" causing trouble. That and the fact that she and her bosses are the final determinant as to what constitutes an "improper exchange of information".
Gulags, anyone?

10/21/2005

Which Historic General Are You?

I found this test on okcupid and thought it would be fun to take it. To my surprise, based on my answers, I am most like Julius Caesar. I took four years of Latin and of course, studied Julius Caesar during those years. As a general, his leadership was exceptional. However, I consider his political leadership to be of the dangerous sort--a lust for power combined with a willingness to do whatever was politically expedient in order to gain that power. He very cleverly parlayed his popularity as a triumphant general with the general populace into a mandate to change whatever laws and rules that would aid him in consolidating his grip on political power. Even this test acknowledges that one of his greatest strengths was his tactical ability and he used that tactical genius in his political life as well as on the battlefield.

Julius Caesar

You scored 55 Wisdom, 81 Tactics, 56 Guts, and 41 Ruthlessness!

Roman military and political leader. He was instrumental in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His conquest of Gallia Comata extended the Roman world all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, introducing Roman influence into what has become modern France, an accomplishment of which direct consequences are visible to this day. In 55 BC Caesar launched the first Roman invasion of Britain. Caesar fought and won a civil war which left him undisputed master of the Roman world, and began extensive reforms of Roman society and government. He was proclaimed dictator for life, and heavily centralized the already faltering government of the weak Republic. Caesar's friend Marcus Brutus conspired with others to assassinate Caesar in hopes of saving the Republic. The dramatic assassination on the Ides of March was the catalyst for a second set of civil wars, which marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire under Caesar's grand-nephew and adopted son Octavian, later known as Caesar Augustus. Caesar's military campaigns are known in detail from his own written Commentaries (Commentarii), and many details of his life are recorded by later historians such as Suetonius, Plutarch, and Cassius Dio.

I see a lot of parallels between Rome and America. The birth and rise of the Roman republic mirrors the birth and rise of the United States in a number of basic ways. One of the major foundations of the Roman republic was in allowing everyone who was qualified to vote on leadership and the establishment of governing bodies, because they feared giving one man too much power. The early Romans were a strong, simple, hard-working, religious, agrarian people. As the Republic developed and flourished, it became apparent they would need protection, so a strong military became an integral part of the Republic. I could go on, but the basic premise is established.


Julius Caesar was the last leader of the Roman Republic. The republic had changed; people from conquered countries had come to Rome, bringing their gods and their cultures. Julius Caesar granted many of these people citizenship in order to expand his base. Politicians became panderers, gaining votes by promising their constituents bread and circuses. Caesar established "land reforms" to take power away from the wealthy. Faith was openly mocked. Sports figures and courtesans were the heroes of the days. The concept of personal responsibility=personal freedom began to be overtaken by the desire to be taken care of by a strong and powerful government. [The first step towards governmental dictatorship(under whatever name) is the same first step an abuser takes in a domestic relationship- the destruction of a person's belief in themselves and their abilities. If a person or group of persons believes themselves to be weak and needy and incapable, then they will willingly, though perhaps not happily, accept whatever abuses may come as long as they believe they need someone more powerful to take care of them and provide for them, particularly if that belief has as it's foundation the idea that the abuser really "cares" about them.]

Shakespeare's portrayal of Julius Caesar is somewhat sympathetic and I guess I can understand that, because in some respects, Caesar does come across as a heroic figure. I can't help but consider Marcus Brutus, though. His name has become synonymous with the concept of a backstabbing friend. But he was Caesar friend. Brutus's father had been murdered by Pompey, who was Caesar's enemy. What would cause such a friend to put aside years of friendship and induce a willingness to commit not only murder, but a very public murder?

Perhaps Marcus Brutus, who knew Caesar, came to believe that his country deserved better than what it was getting. According to Plutarch, Brutus was a person who "acted upon motives of right reason and deliberate moral choice". Plutarch spoke of him as a man of education and manners, strong beliefs and an even stronger love of his country. He participated in the murder of Julius Caesar in a effort to save his republic from a man he thought was destroying it. Unfortunately, the death of Julius Caesar provoked another civil war, with the result that Rome became a pseudo-monarchy, though it was called an empire with Caesar Augustus as emperor. So the republic failed anyway.

A republic's survival depends on the people who make it up and if they no longer care to maintain it, then it will fail. Even the willingness of a good and rational man to commit murder will not sustain it.

10/19/2005

The Hammer Falls Again

I am no slouch in the intellect department, but Charles Krauthammer (aka The Hammer) rises above pretty much everyone else and never fails to inspire awe and perhaps a little jealousy. The link is to an article written by him and published recently in the WaPo. I am including some excerpts-- It was announced last week that U.S. scientists have just created a living, killing copy of the 1918 "Spanish" flu. This is big. Very big.

He talks about three separate elements. He first speaks highly of the scientific achievement, of the "enterprise, ingenuity, serendipity, hard work and brilliance" in finding tissue samples from victims of the Spanish influenza, then the resurrection of of a once dead and deadly pathogen.

The second element for him is sheer terror, because the Spanish influenza was the deadliest pandemic in recorded history. The Bubonic Plague killed 137 million people during three separate outbreaks in three different centuries. It works out to about 2 million people a year. The Spanish influenza killed more 25 million people in a single year. 28 % of the entire United States population was infected, with approximately 800,000 dying from it. One of most frightening things about that particular flu strain is that it breaks the usual virus protocol of attacking the old, the ill and the very young. For some reason, adolescents and young healthy adults were the most likely to become infected and the least likely to survive. The mortality rate for 15 to 34 years olds rose 20 times higher in 1918 than any year before. One physician reported that it was simply a struggle for one more breath of air until they suffocated. From a report by the Division of Molecular Pathology, Department of Cellular Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC---The surface proteins of influenza viruses, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, play important roles in virulence, host specificity, and the human immune response. The virus was speculated to be of bird origin which recombined with swine flu which then recombined with human influenza to mutate and produce a whole new virus that targeted the least likely of victims, the young and healthy.

Krauthammer then goes on--Now that I have your attention, consider, with appropriate trepidation, the third element of this story: What to do with this knowledge? Not only has the virus been physically re-created, but its entire genome has also now been published for the whole world, good people and very bad, to see. The decision to publish was a very close call, terrifyingly close. On the one hand, we need the knowledge disseminated. We've learned from this research that the 1918 flu was bird flu, "the most bird-like of all mammalian flu viruses," says Jeffery Taubenberger, lead researcher in unraveling the genome. There is a bird flu epidemic right now in Asia that has infected 117 people and killed 60. It has already developed a few of the genomic changes that permit transmission to humans. Therefore, you want to put out the knowledge of the structure of the 1918 flu, which made the full jump from birds to humans, so that every researcher in the world can immediately start looking for ways to anticipate, monitor, prevent and counteract similar changes in today's bird flu.

But researchers aren't the only people who will be paying attention, reading, studying and planning.

My last excerpt from his article says everything that needs to be said and says it succinctly, particularly the third sentence -- Why try to steal loose nukes in Russia? A nuke can only destroy a city. The flu virus, properly evolved, is potentially a destroyer of civilizations.
We might have just given it to our enemies.
Have a nice day.

I think about the world and the way it was in 1918. World travel in 1918 wasn't common or easy. No airlines, just slow moving ships and trains. The majority of travel was done by the very wealthy or troops heading to and from the conflict in Europe. And yet the virus spread rapidly and easily over Europe, Asia, Africa, Brazil, the South Pacific, America.

I think about the world as it is now. The Atlanta airport alone handles about 7 million passengers a month. Even cutting that number in half to account for round trip flights, that is an incredible number of people who are coming and going to and from every part of the world. A deadly, untreatable pathogen exists once again in it's original lethal form and it isn't difficult to imagine how fast it would be able to spread if a human ever became infectious again.

Children, with their peculiar ability to adapt to horrific situations, used to jump-rope to this rhyme--

I had a little bird

It's name was Enza

I opened up the window

And in-flu-enza.

I will admit that in a small corner of my heart and mind, I am afraid.

10/17/2005

Casual Curiosity

the art of Pablo Picasso - There is bad art, that just about anyone can do. There is good art, that gives momentary pleasure and enjoyment to the viewer; then there is great art, that not only gives, but demands something from you in return, pulls something out of you. Picasso's art doesn't even rise to the level on good art for me.

Health insurance - a necessary evil, that I'm glad I have.

the year 1937 - the calm before the storm. The Spanish Civil War is on going. Hitler's power is on the rise and state-sponsored persecution of Jews has begun. Stalin's purges are also ongoing. Roosevelt signs the third U.S. Neutrality act. Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain. The Japanese begin their conquest of China. Mussolini rules Italy.

Ants - annoying but necessary.

Ballroom dancing - I've watched some of the competitive ballroom dancing competitions when I've come across them, but they're nothing I'd deliberately plan to watch.

10/15/2005

One misses the dead

Rupert Brooke spent the years between 1913 and 1914 wandering in North America and the South Seas, and depicted the impressions in his LETTERS FROM AMERICA (published posthumously 1916).

Brooke describes the wilderness of Canada, the beauty and majesty of it. And then he goes on with an impression—

A European can find nothing to satisfy the hunger of his heart. The air is too thin to breathe. He requires haunted woods, and the friendly presence of ghosts. The immaterial soil of England is heavy and fertile with the decaying stuff of past seasons and generations. Here is the floor of a new wood, yet uncumbered by one year’s autumn fall. We Europeans find the Orient stale and too luxuriantly fetid by reason of the multitude of bygone lives and thoughts, oppressive with the crowded presence of the dead, both men and gods. So, I imagine, a Canadian would feel our woods and fields heavy with the past and the invisible, and suffer claustrophobia in an English countryside beneath the dreadful pressure of immortals. For his own forests and wild places are windswept and empty. That is their charm, and their terror. You may lie awake all night and never feel the passing of evil presences, nor hear printless feet; neither do you lapse into slumber with the comfortable consciousness of those friendly watchers who sit invisibly by a lonely sleeper under an English sky. The maple and the birch conceal no dryads, and Pan has never been heard amongst these reed beds. Look as long as you like upon a cataract of the New World, you shall not see a white arm in the foam. A godless place. And the dead do not return. That is why there is nothing lurking in the heart of the shadows, and no human mystery in the colours, and neither the same joy nor the kind of peace in dawn and sunset that older lands know. It is, indeed, a new world. How far away seem those grassy, moonlit places in England that have been Roman camps or roads, where there is always serenity, and the spirit of a purpose at rest, and the sunlight flashes upon more than flint! Here one is perpetually a first_comer. The land is virginal, the wind cleaner than elsewhere, and every lake new_born, and each day is the first day. The flowers are less conscious than English flowers, the breezes have nothing to remember, and everything to promise. There walk, as yet,no ghosts of lovers in Canadian lanes. This is the essence of the grey freshness and brisk melancholy of this land. And for all the charm of those qualities, it is also the secret of a European’s discontent. For it is possible, at a pinch, to do without gods.
But one misses the dead.

As an American, I understand his description of the physical nature of the Americas. As an American, I might not have understood his more esoteric description of what the Americas lack if I had not spent time in Europe and Asia.

While we were stationed in Turkey, we took a number of trips to different areas. Ephesus was one of my favorite places. The city has multiple layers, one city built on the last. It has been excavated down to the city of the Roman era. You can sit in the ampitheatre and marvel at the acoustics, see what’s left of the shops, the public baths. Walk down the streets.

We visited there with a group of about thirty. There were few other tourists there that day, so we had the place pretty much to our selves. It was beautiful and fascinating. I've never been much of a group follower, so I wandered around on my own once we left the ampitheatre.

I walked down a marble street, not really going anywhere in particular. The street sloped slightly downward and to the left around a small hill. When I came around the corner, the road sloped down a little more toward what had been the harbor about a half mile away. I stopped there. The harbor was a semi-circle of dark blue. The sky was a pale blue. In front of me, the road was pale white through green.

It was so quiet.
Then suddenly, I was aware of other presences and other times. Not time travel, not ghosts or spirits. Just an awareness of the reality that something remained of times and people past. Remnants and residue of layer over layer, just like the physical city. It wasn't frightening or unsettling, but rather pleasant and peaceful and comfortable. Even if no other corporeal person were around, this wasn't a place you would feel lonely in. There was a sense of the normalcy of everyday life that goes on year after year. After years, I can still feel what I felt then. What Brooke describes as "the friendly presence of ghosts".

I felt something when we were in Rome at the Coliseum. I was standing by myself looking down into the areas underneath, where men and animals were kept until the time for them to enter the arena. Again came the awareness of presences from the past, but the feelings that came with that awareness were filled with anguish and hopelessness and resignation. Feelings that even the animals kept there smelled the blood and fear and their own death. We visited Rome a number of times after that, but I never again went into the Coliseum. On an ironic note, a tour of Vatican City didn't bring on feelings of piety and peace, but a heightened sense of intrigue and lust for power and a caution that made you want to look over your shoulder.

So many places in Europe are like that, whether in a city or on a country road. Brooke was right. Once you have experienced their presence in that rather peculiar way, you do miss the dead.

10/14/2005

Can you wrap your imagination around this?

There is a speaker in my office that lets me hear what is going on in the courtroom. I have learned to tune out most of it, at least to the level where it is just background noise. But occasionally, I will hear a comment that gets my full and immediate attention. This morning, it was from a defendant being charged with public drunkenness--

"Well, your Honor, it was Trivia night at Hooters."

My first thought? "Well, that must have been intellectually challenging."

10/12/2005

The Banned Book Meme

Found this at The Everlasting Phelps

Bold what you've read completely. Italic for partial reads. Continue to ignore the rest
Asterisk those you enjoy and comment where you see fit.
*#1 The Bible--I have read it through numerous times. But I don't believe that I will ever read it enough to understand all of it. There is just too much.
*#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain --I like Twain. Not necessarily everything he wrote, but the majority.
*#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
*#5 Arabian Nights -escapist literature with something edgy.
*#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
*#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift --a lovely fantasy, but with an underlying morality tale
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer - annoying, but I slogged through certain stories
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne-- required reading
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman--pretentious
*#11 Prince by Niccollo Machiavelli --fascinating insight into the human mind and heart
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe --required reading
*#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank --read it as part of my fascination with World War II
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert --required reading
*#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens --have read almost all of Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo -- found it a little tedious in parts
*#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker --loved it.
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
*#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding --one of my first forays into "risque" writings
*#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne --again, a fascinating insight into the past
*#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck --read a lot of Steinbeck, too. Some think this is his best, I disagree
*#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon --four years of Latin, I learned a great deal from this.
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy --required reading
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin --required reading
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce- another one that had to be slogged through
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio --interesting, but needs to be taken in small doses
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell --required reading
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell --required reading
#29 Candide by Voltaire --required reading
*#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee --oddly enough my favorite character is Boo Radley. But I always admire people who rise above their limitations when the need arises
*#31 Analects by Confucius -some of it is a little to esoteric or perhaps a little to oriental for my occidental mind to wrap around. But there are parts I admire--My associate must be the man who proceeds to action full of solicitude, who is fond of adjusting his plans, and then carries them into execution.
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce --tedious
*#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck --required reading and depressing
*#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway -required reading
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
*#36 Das Kapital by Karl Marx -tedious, short-sighted, socialist bullshit
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire --a truly wacked-out hedonist
*#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle --I love books I have to work at
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence --required reading
*#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley --required reading, one of the few I enjoyed
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser --required reading-interesting in a off-putting way
*#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell --I live in Georgia; you can bet this is required reading, but not necessarily for a curriculum.
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair --reference my comment upon Marx's Das Kapital
*#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque -I actually have a blog entry on the movie made from this book. My take on it's underlying theme is a little different from reading this as an anti-war book.
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx -- required reading -too simplistic, "capitalism is the source of all evil, the State will take care of you instead." Again, bullshit
*#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding --required reading and incredibly depressing, but it exposes human nature in a way that a great many people don't want to see.
*#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys --fascinating look into a different time
*#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway --required reading-okay, but too much machismo for me. When I hear about the running of the bulls, I root for the bulls
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy --required reading and too depressing
*#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury --required reading, but not because of a particular class. Any book lover needs to read this one.
*#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak --read it after seeing the movie with Omar Shariff and Julie Christie; oh, the romance and angst.
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant --extremely hard to keep up. A little too technical for real reading.
*#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey-Nurse Ratched has become a cliche, but what a great one.
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus --this is another one to be read in bits and pieces
*#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller --funny, sad and ironic, sometimes all at the same time.
*#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X --lots of bullshit in this one too.
*#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker --not too bad. Even when the characters irritate by their stupid choices, you can get caught up in them.
*#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger --bad words(gasp)
*#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke --some I agree with, some I don't and it can be tedious
#60 Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
*#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe --not too bad
*#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn --a small pebble that helped begin the avalanche that overtook communism in the Soviet Union.
*#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck --my favorite Steinbeck. I was in love with both the brothers.
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison --a little too much "it's somebody else's fault"
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou --some of it is good, some is just tedious
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau --I disagree too much with his point of view to try to get through this. "People are good, but commerce and property corrupt them." More socialist bullshit.
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes --another slogger
#69 The Talmud- read parts as an adjunct to my Bible studies
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
*#71 Bridge to Terabinthia by Katherine Paterson --supposedly a children's novel, but I have re-read it a couple of times.
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence -- elevated writing with a soap-opera plot
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser --not too bad, but a little predictable
*#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler --in spite of all that came from it-this is interesting to read in hindsight. The seeds of his megalomania are there even at the beginning. A similarity I found in Mein Kampf and Das Kapital was the opinion that the "masses" are really stupid and need someone to take care of them. (Sound familiar, liberals?)
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath --I think Plath was trying to evoke sympathy for poor, misunderstood females.
Didn't work with me.
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
*#80 Satyricon by Petronius -- read it for the shock value and the Roman background
*#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov -- not too bad, but not all that fascinating to me
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder --I read and re-read the series
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
*#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse --required reading
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood -disingenuous
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown -noble Indian, ignoble white man. Whatever.
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess- very, very strange
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines -reasonable
#102 Emile by Jean Jacques Rousseau -got irritated and bored
#103 Nana by Emile Zola -gets a little predictable
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin -also edges over into "it's somebody else's fault"
*#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn -fascinating
**#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein -one of my great loves
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck -strange, but sweet. I'm not that much into sweet though.
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes-a little on the emotional "aww, isn't this sweet" side

Looking back over the list at the ones I listed as required reading from advanced high school and college courses, most of them are depressing and full of unhappiness. Just what hormonally unstable, socially inept, emotionally immature geeks need to be reading. Stories that are truly uplifting.

10/08/2005

Pictures from the Rehearsal Dinner

The girls at the rehearsal dinner. September 30, 2005

They started a tradition of wearing the same outfit to the rehearsal dinner for each of their weddings when the oldest one married. Perhaps a bit of bias on my part, but they are so lovely, inside and out. And they have a good relationship with each other, even though there are three distinct personalities involved. They had such fun while I was taking these pictures. I took a whole role of them goofing around on this bench. I didn't pose any of these shots, I just let them play around and almost all of them turn out great.

Agie's wedding


A beautiful day for a wedding. My youngest daughter. October 1, 2005.
This picture was taken by my aunt with a digital camera. If the professional pictures look anywhere near this good, they will be spectacular.

Castle Rock v. Gonzales

Working in the court system, I come across things that the general public doesn't hear about. The following story and the link is an example.

Castle Rock v. Gonzales
The background- a woman has a protective order for herself and limited visitation order pertaining to her children against her estranged abusive husband. Husband abducts the three girls. She calls the police repeatedly and they do nothing, not believing the husband to be a threat to the girls. Even after he has violated the terms of his limited visitation, they still do nothing to try and recover the girls. The next morning, he drives to a police station and shoots repeatedly through the windows. Suicide by cop. After the police kill him, they find the three girls in his truck, murdered. Mother sues the police department for failing to protect her and the children.

Case goes to court, mother wins; there is an appeal by the department, mother wins in the appellate court; department appeals higher and mother loses.

Why? Because police have no constitutional obligation to protect individuals from private individuals.

Read the excerpt:
http://www.kscourts.org/ca10/cases/2002/10/01-1053a.htm
In rejecting the substantive due process argument, the Court pointed out that "nothing in the language of the Due Process Clause itself requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against invasion by private actors." Id. at 195.
If the Due Process Clause does not require the State to provide its citizens with particular protective services, it follows that the State cannot be held liable under the Clause for injuries that could have been averted had it chosen to provide them. As a general matter, then, we conclude that a State's failure to protect an individual against private violence simply does not constitute a violation of the Due Process Clause.
The Court also pointed out that although the state may have been aware of the dangers faced by the plaintiff in DeShaney, "it played no part in their creation, nor did it do anything to render him any more vulnerable to them." Id. at 201.

This decision was not a fluke. There are a number cases dating as far back as 1856. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of South v. Maryland found that law enforcement officials have no affirmative duty to proactively protect an individual.

So the police are not obligated under the law to protect me against another individual. Which leads me around to the subject of gun-control. If the police are not obligated to protect me, then do I not have the obligation, the right, to protect myself and what is mine? Should I not be allowed the opportunity to protect myself?

I don't know if knowledge of the fact that the police have no obligation to protect you from a known threat would have any effect on the mind-set of people who advocate that no private citizens be allowed to have weapons, but it might be interesting to find out. Maybe I'll bring it up among people that I know are gun-control advocates and just see.

10/07/2005

Autumnal Equinox

We have had a long lovely summer in the South this year. One of the best in about a decade. No extremely high temperatures (for us that's over 100), enough rain to keep the weather people from whining about drought conditions, but not so much that you consider building an ark.

But for the last two days, there has been a low, gray cloud cover. The rain coming from it has varied from a soft mist to a moderately heavy downpour. Forecasters here are saying it is the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy. But beyond that, I can feel a difference in the air, in the temperature. I think we have seen the last of summer here, even though the trees haven't really begun to change.

On one level, I find myself responding to it with some nostalgia. Hot apple cider, rich soups and stews, flannel lounging pajamas, breathing crisp air, not having to push myself to go out in the yard and work. There are a number of pleasures for the senses in the fall. Spring is my favorite season, but fall comes in a close second.

On another level, I find myself interested in the scientific aspect of the change of seasons. I was looking at different sites and found one that has a fascinating short movie that shows the tilt of the Earth as it goes through a year. I knew that the Earth tilting on it's axis was the cause of the seasons, but I did not realize how much of a tilt it was until I watched the movie on this site. If you're curious enough, (and patient enough) link to the site and click on Astronomy on the first page, click on Observational Astronomy on the second page, click on Seasons on the third page, then click on Autumnal Equinox on the fourth page. Go down that page and after the chart, there is a link for a QuickTime movie.

Gee, Guess What?

It really is white and has been for about 20 years.

Your Hair Should Be White

Classy, stylish, and eloquent.
You've got a way about you that floors everyone you meet.

Some Days--

My five-year old granddaughter began kindergarten this year. When my daughter went to pick her up Wednesday, her teacher said she had a story to tell her.

The teacher and her aide had taken the class for a bathroom break. All the other kids had come out, so the teacher stuck her head in the bathroom and asked Livy if she was finished. Livy told her in a minute, so the teacher asked the aide to take the others back to the classroom and she would wait on Livy.
The principal and another teacher stopped to talk to Livy's teacher for a minute and Livy finally came out of the bathroom. Her teacher asked her if everything was okay and Livy said,

"Yes, some days it's just harder to wipe your butt.

10/04/2005

Idiosyncrasies

I realized yesterday while I was eating lunch that I use baked potatoes as a delivery system for butter and sour cream. Lots and lots of butter and sour cream. Lots.

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