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1/29/2004

A sudden outburst after the silence

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:35 am

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Georgia’s Schools Superintendent, Republican Kathy Cox, makes a strong case for homeschooling our future child by striking evolution from the curriculum for both middle and high schools.

Do you grow poppies in your garden? That’s a crime, you know, no matter what the seed packets or your local extention agent or sheriff says. And just by your reading of this facinating article, your poppies become felonious.

America as a One Party State: “Today’s hard right seeks total dominion. It’s packing the courts and rigging the rules. The target is not the Democrats but democracy itself.

And if that didn’t scare you, have a look at this lengthy, ultra in-depth report from People for the American Way speculating on how life would be different if the Supreme Court majority consisted of justices who voted like Scalia and Thomas have in the past.

Out of North Korea: possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen. A three year old girl playing the xylophone like you won’t believe.

How about some spectacularly sobering photography? For Time Magazine, photographer Anthony Suau has documented the Soviet Block after the fall, from 1989 to 1999. If seeing those images doesn’t make you think of possible disastrous events, you’ve got an rosy outlook indeed.

And for some literally other-worldly pictures, have some newly restored photos from the surface of Venus (that’s right… Venus), courtesy of the Russian Venera probes that landed in 1975.

And, to complete the circle, and expose on the “Texas Miracle”, the basis for our current “No Child Left Behind Act”. How did the Tesax schools do so well? The same way Enron did so well, of course. Nothing bosts your test scores like finding ways for your low-performing students to not take the tests, and nothing lowers your drop-out rates like reporting all of your drop-outs actually got their GEDs.

Happy reading! And sorry for the silence. I think I’m coming out of a rut. I certainly haven’t been suffering from the Midnight Disease.

1/27/2004

Hot Chicks

Filed under:General — @ 9:12 am

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1/24/2004

Albino Bowler!

Filed under:General — @ 12:01 pm

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1/23/2004

Going Swimming

Filed under:General — @ 8:37 am

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1/10/2004

Buy my stuff

Filed under:General — eric @ 8:26 am

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After being asked about it many times, I’ve finally gotten off my duff and created a CafePress store that features the most popular photos from last year’s “Farm Photo of the Day” series.

I’m still tweaking the layout, but it’s fully operational and located at www.cafeshops.com/boann. So if you’ve got Christmas cash you’re wanting to get rid of, take a look! Oh… if there was a photo you really liked that isn’t included, or you want any of the other items CafePress offers that I didn’t list (like clothing, for example), just let me know and I’ll take care of it for you.

1/9/2004

Care for a game?

Filed under:General — @ 8:31 am

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Presidential Poetry

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:43 am

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One more…

Recall that lovely poem the president wrote to his wife, Laura? Laura stated at the National Book Festival Gala (full text here at the White House website):

We delight in great works of literature and especially in the works of budding new artists. President Bush is a great leader and husband - but I bet you didn’t know, he is also quite the poet. Upon returning home last night from my long trip, I found a lovely poem waiting for me. Normally, I wouldn’t share something so personal, but since we’re celebrating great writers, I can’t resist.

Dear Laura,
Roses are red, violets are blue, oh my lump in the bed, how I’ve missed you.
Roses are redder, bluer am I, seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat they miss you too, Barney’s still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe.
The distance my dear has been such a barrier, next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

I’m happy to be the inspiration behind this poem.

Well… Laura was on “Meet the Press” two weekends ago, and when Tim Russert went to ask Laura about the poem, she had a different story:

Well, of course, he didn’t really write the poem. But a lot of people really believed that he did. That evening at the dinner, what some woman from across the table said: “You just don’t know how great it is to have a husband who would write a poem for you.”

I guess the woman at dinner was right. Laura really doesn’t know.

More excesses

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:32 am

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Two more news stories came across my desk that point out further excesses being taken by the federal government.

The first is a biggie. You may have heard about the draft of the “PATRIOT II” legislation that leaked early last year, and the public outcry that resulted. It contained provisions that expanded on the government’s erosion of due-process rights we all have that began under the first PATRIOT Act. (You do know that the government can get a record of your patronage at your local library, and that the library can’t even tell you the feds were there, right?) Most of the really controversial provisions were stripped out of the sequel legislation, but they’ve found their way back in, in other bills. For example, on the same day that the army announced it had captured Saddam, President Bush signed into law that allows the FBI to obtain records about you from your financial institution, without having to go to a judge first. In addition, the law expands the definition of “financial institution” to include travel agents, car dealerships, insurance companies, casinos, jewelry stores, real estate agents, hotels, and even the post office. And, just like with the libraries, those businesses cannot mention to anyone, especially not the subject of the investigation, that the records were taken. I’d like to think that much if not all of this would get overturned in courts, but it’s hard to file suit when you don’t even know that the law is being used against you. Remember also that this is not some executive order issued by the White House. This law, just like the original PATRIOT Act, was approved by a majority of our legislators. Likely, yours was among them.

The second one is just odd. There are new labor rules in place that expand the rights of workers to overtime pay. You probably know someone who was switched to salary instead of hourly and thus lost out on overtime pay. It happens a lot, and one of the new rules says that you can’t do this to workers who make under $22,100 a year. The labor department says with one breath the new rules will increase net American wages by $895 million, and nearly all of that will go to lower-income positions. But with the next breath, the department spells out to employers how to get around the rules. For example: “cut workers’ hourly wages and add the overtime to equal the original salary” or, more simply, make them work the same amount of money for more hours of work. Labor department spokesman Ed Frank says, “We’re not saying anybody should do any of this,” but there you go.

1/7/2004

Classical Bulldog

Filed under:General — @ 8:04 am

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1/6/2004

Where’s the outrage?

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:42 pm

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I’ve been too busy lately to care much about politics. It’s an election year, so I was going to get caught back up in a hurry, but at present, it just wasn’t something I had time for.

My mistake. Take a look at this article in American Conservative Magazine (if you’re a conservative) or the San Francisco Gate (if you’re liberal). It documents the White House’s practice of setting up “Free Speech Zones” in cities where the president is visiting, and putting anyone with signs critical to the administration within those zones. The zones are (of course) no where near the president, so all he sees are those praising him. Those who manage to slip critical signs along the “parade routes” have been arrested on charges including trespassing, obstructing without violence, and disorderly conduct. In one case, a mother and her crying five year old daughter were arrested and taken away in separate squad cars. One man in South Carolina, Brett Bursey, was arrested for holding a “No Blood for Oil” sign amid hundreds of pro-Bush signs on the roadside and charged him with trespassing. Five months later, a South Carolina judge threw out the charges, saying that you can’t charge someone on public property with trespassing. Right away, US Attorney Strom Thurmond, Jr. filed charges against him for the Justice Department. The charge: “entering a restricted area around the president of the United States”. (Never mind that he was one of hundreds there.) If convicted, he faced six months in prison and a $5000 fine. The federal judge denied Bursey’s request for a jury trial, stating that this was merely a petty offense. The verdict in Bursey’s trial is expected this afternoon, and you can find most of the court documents thus far and links to news sources here.

You may want to specifically look at the two latest briefs from the trial. Bursey filed a brief claiming he is the victim of illegal selective prosecution. Seems straightforward enough — he is the only one of “thousands” of people within the so-called restricted area to be prosecuted. The Justice Department’s response is beyond maddening. More so than perhaps anything else in the last two years, my government has embarrassed me with this filing. In short, it claims that the prosecution is not selective because since Bursey was told he was in the restricted area and told he had to leave but didn’t, he knowingly violated the restricted area and thus committed a crime. The other thousands of people didn’t know they were in a restricted area, and thus had no intent and thus committed no crime. I can’t fathom how Strom can sign his name to such a brief and feel good about it.

I’ll stop here, at least until the verdict gets announced today.

UPDATE: He’s been found guilty. Nothing good can come of this.

1/5/2004

Forbidden Thought

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:51 am

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You know those things you think but don’t say because society frowns upon those sorts of things? Paul Grahm has a nice essay about such heresies titled What You Can’t Say.

New farm pictures

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:52 am

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With the new year comes a slow revival of the farm. Unusually good weather (for a weekend) allowed me to get an early start on bed prepwork, and tomorrow will bring a return to the farm photo of the day. That’s right… the random repeat is over!