Friday, September 23, 2016

And now for something completely different...

Terry Jones (AP photo)
I saw something that made me quite sad today. USA Today reports that Monty Python founding member Terry Jones has been diagnosed with dementia.
In a statement released by Britain's film academy (BAFTA), a representative says the 74-year-old has primary progressive aphasia, which erodes the ability to use language. As a result, Jones can no longer give interviews.

News of Jones' illness came in a statement announcing he is to receive an award for outstanding contribution to film and television from the academy's Welsh branch.
I met him, sort of, in Atlanta a year or two ago. Yes, it was at DragonCon, but I didn't see him in a panel. I ran into him walking down a street in Atlanta.

I was on Courtland, walking toward the Sheraton for an event -- or to wait in a long line for an event. And Terry Jones was coming the other way, toward the Hilton/Marriott area, walking at a fairly brisk pace. I saw him when I was about, oh, 20 or 30 feet away. I knew I was reacting to seeing him, but lost all control of my facial features.

I could feel the smile spreading across my face and I knew my eyes were opening wide, but I couldn't do anything about it. I mean, it was Terry Jones.

He noticed. He looked me in the eye and grinned. As we passed, I said, "Good afternoon, Mr. Jones." Only it probably came out something like "derp durr hurr."

I so wanted to shake his hand, to hear him speak, but he had somewhere he was going, and there were opportunities to see him in panels and at autograph sessions. I regret not scheduling something like that. And, so it appears, I'll never have the opportunity.

It's sad to hear of his health issues. It's a joy to remember all the great entertainment he's provided. I wish him well.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day (2016)

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Happy 241st, Army

My son-in-law
during his service days.
Just a quick note to remind you it's the 241st anniversary of the founding of the fighting force that is now the United States Army.

Thanks to the soldiers that came before us, and the ones wearing our country's uniform today.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Department of Defense
Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. Photo by Department of Defense
Remember those that gave all.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Party Time

My car
Well I finally did it. For the first time in my life, I actually joined a political party.

I'm a conservative (lower case, indicating a philosophy, not upper case to indicate a proper noun, as the name of a group or party). But now, I'm also a Libertarian (upper case, as in the Libertarian Party and as in the Libertarian Party of Georgia). Let me explain why I joined the party.

In recent years, I've increased contributions to some candidates running for office. I've not always been happy with the candidate I was financially supporting. Or the party, quite honestly.

The Republican Party has shown time and again it's unwillingness to hold to conservative principles. And I've had enough. I'm done giving money to them. I'm cutting them off. Writing them out of my will. Moving on. Looking ahead. Kinda like a divorce. Some of you know what I mean.

I don't have piles of money lying around just begging to be given away. But, I do occasionally send money to help in election years. This year, I've given to two candidates, and I'm all out of candidates. Republican ones, that is.

Anyway, I sat down one day recently and went over my options.

Democrats? I have no use for them. I have refused to vote for local Democrats, who were otherwise good people, because all that does is strengthen the Democrat Party. And anyone who strengthens the Democrat Party nationally needs to be beat with a stick. Several sticks.

Republicans? Well, they talk good. They act bad. During elections, they've taken two approaches. One approach is to assume the conservative base is there and run to the left. That pisses off the conservative base. The other approach is to campaign to the right, and then govern to the left. That pisses off the conservative base.

As a pissed off conservative, I've had enough. I'm looking elsewhere. Or was. I found the Libertarian Party.

I've read the national Libertarian Party Platform. I don't agree with all of it. A lot of it, sure. But not all. However, looking at what the three major parties say and do -- don't forget about what they actually do -- the Libertarian Party is closest to me.

So, I'm still a conservative. That hasn't changed. And I'm now associating with a national (and state) political party that is closest to my beliefs and values.

I'm not urging you to join the Libertarian Party. I'm not asking you to vote Libertarian in November. I just want you to know that if you are fed up with how the Republican Party has treated you, there are options. This is the one I chose.

Monday, May 9, 2016

How we got into this mess

So, just how did we get to where we are today? We have two major political parties that seem to exist for the sole purpose of staying in power. That's not really anything new, but this year, things seem ... different. The number and intensity of people dissatisfied by both the presumptive nominees of the two major parties is greater than I can remember ever happening before.

Now, not everyone is dissatisfied by those expected to get their party's nomination. Otherwise, they wouldn't get the nomination. But, many are unhappy. Heck, many are just plain pissed, at the nominees, at their supporters, at the parties, and at the process.

So, how did we get here?

Well, I think it all began in 1804. Let me give the background to that, what happened after, and how that caused what we have today.

The first thing to remember -- or learn, if you never knew this -- is that the selection of those in government today isn't exactly how the Founding Fathers set it up. Things changed. The first big change was in 1804. More about that in a minute.

When the Founding Fathers were setting up our Constitution, there was a great disagreement on how to lay out the government. They broke the functions up into three main branches, which we still have today: the Legislative branch, the Executive branch, and the Judicial branch. Let's start with the Legislative branch.