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Archive for November 2009

Four Lakewood officers identified…

 Good evening, Netizens…

Updating the message posted by Jeanie earlier today…

(Info and pictures courtesy of the Seattle Times)

Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards were identified as the Lakewood Police officers killed this morning in the coffee shop in Parkland.

Renninger, 39, with 13 years of law-enforcement experience, is survived by his wife and three children.

Owens, 37, who spent 12 years in law enforcement, is survived by a former wife and a daughter.

Griswold, 40, a 14-year veteran officer, is survived by her husband and two children.

Richards, 42, who had eight years of law-enforcement experience, is survived by his wife and three children.

Our hearts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones.


Four Police Officers Ambushed and Killed

Breaking news in Lakewood, WA – four on-duty police officers were ambushed and killed at a popular coffee house in Parkland, Washington - The Forza Coffee Shop – located near McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma.   The officers, three men and one women, were working on their laptops before beginning their shifts – all in uniform with police cars parked in front of the coffee shop.   The murderer fled the scene and it is unknown if there was more than one attacker.

This is a heinous crime.  Here in Spokane, with all our troubles and complaints, we still must contend that the majority of our police force includes top of the line, courageous and stalwart, fine men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe.   This is egregious in every way. 

We at Community Comment extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families, friends, and the Lakewood Police Department.


Tax Lien on the Governor?


Good morning, Netizens…

[Partial credit LA Times]

I have ignored this news-byte until now because I did not see any of the news wire services pick the story up. However, as of this morning, I was able to verify the unthinkable.

No, this is not about Tiger Woods’ car crash, or even the other hot news stories. The IRS has filed an approximate $80,000 tax lien against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The lien was filed May 11 at the Los Angeles County recorder’s office for $79,064, according to a record in an electronic database that includes lien filings. The record does not indicate what property the lien was placed on, but it lists the debtor as Arnold Schwarzenegger with the governor’s home address in Brentwood.

Oh, dear.

Schwarzenegger’s spokesman, Aaron McLear, said in a statement that the “governor has paid his taxes in full and on time.”

Maybe. Maybe not.


Things I am thankful for…

 Good evening, Netizens…

After some prolonged introspection, a bit of meditation and some considerable prayer, I have belatedly come up with the things for which I am most-thankful in 2009. They are presented in no particular order, but are submitted more for the sake of clarity than anything else.

I am always and forever thankful for my wife, without whose stern guidance, gentle reminders, seductive mind and tremendous insight into what it means to be a woman in modern society I could easily become a pompous, uninformed and highly-opinionated ass. No, she did not bribe me to make this statement, for it is a statement of historically-provable fact.

I have been and still am thankful for the rich cornucopia of friends and loved ones who constantly render me guidance, allegiance and wisdom. My attempts at acumen and my purported intelligence would be a wasted affair were it not for those to whom I listen most-closely, whose opinions and ideas help shape me, give me focus and more often than not set me on the right track.

I am and will continue to be an unapologetic American, thankful for my heritage and hopeful for our nation’s future. We, as a nation, have screwed up royally throughout history, for we have totally ignored the lessons of history at times. Yet despite all our dimples and warts we still stand tall as one of the greatest nations in the world. Our two greatest freedoms, freedom of speech and freedom of the press still stand tall and those two gifts of history few can equal.

Despite numerous brushes with death in all its permutations, and despite the fact I soon will be turning 64 years of age, I am thankful my health remains about what one could hope for from a sinner who has pushed the envelope of life about as far as one could while still remaining on his feet.

Having said that, perhaps I am thankful for the gifts of history most of all. I have seen television in the day of its infancy when it was awe-inspiring at times and even funny; it has been transformed into a wasteland of laugh tracks. I have seen computers as big as a house owned by mega-corporations change over time to where well-kept homes all have the power of the Internet and let it become as a play land for dolts. More sadly perhaps I have seen the ancient and spacious beauty of our land transformed where beauteous ancient orchards once stood, where a human could stand in the evening mist among the aroma of freshly-budding trees, to where only tract homes now exist. I possess all this in my memory’s store and more.

What are you most thankful for?


US Citizenship test…

Good morning, Netizens…

Here is the old pre-October 2008 questions for citizenship of the United States. How many can you accurately answer?

Put on your thinking caps…

Good morning, Netizens…

It is early on a Saturday morning, and while the fog hovers near the brackish river while we sit, high and dry, above the worst of it all. Our lives move onward, nonetheless, as we have jobs and businesses to maintain, bills to pay and thus the day begins pretty much as any other day.

What I am following this morning are two entirely different sets of opinions, each from a far-different camps of political thought. I first heard of these from cartoonist-columnist David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and like any self-respecting fish in the river, the minute I watched the first video, I was hooked.

The first video is of group of Obama supporters who were polled about President Obama’s policies and the his history prior to being elected President of the United States. While I cannot swear authoritatively that there is no attempt on the part of the interviewer to sway or lead those whom he interviews one way or the other, I submit the video rests as a troubling document nonetheless. This video was shot on election day last year.

On the other hand here we have the people recently interviewed at a Sarah Palin book signing. Once again, I cannot make any claims that this video is untainted by the videographer’s personal opinions; only that the opinions of the public themselves, are equally troublesome.

The truly troublesome aspects of both videos are that Americans perceive our country’s foreign policies as viewed from whatever news source(s) they happen to watch/hear, but overall at least the people being interviewed in both these videos appear to not understand how government works, is supposed to work or who is actually in charge. Nobody has a clue about what Sarah Palin would do if she were elected President of the United States. As history shows us, the voters who elected President Barak Obama in a landslide vote apparently had no idea what his foreign and domestic policies were going to be, either.

My opinions are that Sarah Palin as a Presidential candidate is very troublesome, for it exploits the underlying ignorance of mainstream Americans. But before anyone points to that statement as proof of a hidden bias, I will go further and state that most the people who elected President Obama into office were as ignorant in as many ways as those who support Sarah Palin.

I located a copy of the citizenship test that all newly-arrived U.S. Citizens are required to take prior to becoming citizens this morning, and took and passed the test easily. Since it is rather lengthy (100 questions) I will post it in its entirety in a separate message. I should note that the test questions I am using are the original questions, not the revised questions in use since October 1, 2008. That, too, is troublesome. If you go to you can comparatively examine the two sets of questions. Then it up to you to decide why the questions were changed.


Early morning madness?

Good morning, Netizens…

[Picture credit: KREM-TV]

If you think I am going to drive to my nearest shopping center to capture a live picture of insensibly insane people willing to stand in long lines in the rain for hours, waiting for the doors to open on Black Friday at 5:00 AM, guess again. First, I have a long-term allergy to huge crowds, especially if they are standing in the rain, and second, I have a TV card in my PC that allows me to capture television pictures, which is a valuable tool in this case.

According to KREM-2 TV this morning there were over 400 people standing in a cold rain in front of Target for the doors to open at 5:00 AM. Lines were worse at Best Buy, according to KREM, but the question stands.

It’s raining outside, the temperature hovering near 40 degrees, which is pretty chilly if you are wet to the bone, and all this for what? Were you among the crowds that flocked to the Big Box stores this morning? If so, what was your motivation? Was it worth it? Or did you sit in your chair watching the early morning debacle, amused at the mayhem?

Shopper or no? Which are you?


Horsey speaks on religion…

Good morning, Netizens…

I don’t know why David Horsey chose today, Black Friday, of all days to write about a history of religion, but so be it. It is a hot enough button, and it is done well enough that it should inspire either some in-depth conversation or controversy, depending upon one’s relative point of view.

One of my favorite books, The Comparative History of Religion, an out-of-date tome that delves pretty deeply into how the various religions have evolved, including not only the various permutations of Christianity but pretty much all the other religious factions from Islamic Faith to the more esoteric and Eastern belief systems. Yet another excellent study in belief, the eleven volume set of The History of Philosophy by Will and Ariel Durant, exposes much of how religions evolved.

Nearly all the religions of the world proclaim loudly they are religions of peace. When you stop to think of it, most of the significant wars and strife in the world have been fomented or at least abetted by religion, beginning with the Birth of Christ, continuing up to modern times.

Some say religion and politics are often quite parallel to one another throughout history. Of course, some others suggest that religion shaped politics or vice-versa. It all depends upon one’s perspective.

We have been dragged back and forth into various wars throughout history by our faiths and our political points of view, so it comes as no surprise that in our generation we are fighting wars, once again, with two religions, or factions thereof, most of which proclaim they have only peaceful beliefs.

To see the logic of this all we must do is study history, for its unblinking eye tends to tell us wars and religions are inevitable. Of course, your opinions may differ.


My involvement with turkeys…

Good morning, Netizens…

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all whom you hold dear.

Over the last week I have been distracted from any proper celebration of Thanksgiving Day, although in my quiet time each day I have been increasingly mindful of how many wonderful things I have to be thankful for. Today, Thanksgiving Day, arrived, as always, well before the dawn with a damp gray blanket of fog extending from the banks of the Spokane River to my house. Tiny tendrils of mist, which is about all the fog that reached this far, tentatively reached out and caressed last summer’s lilac bush that once blossomed in sweetness so early in the morning, and for now is slumbering for the winter yet to come. By the time daylight arrived, the fog tiptoed away on its silent feet, retreating back to the river from which is appears to have been borne.

Each year about this time of year I always remember the birds that went before this time, the free-range turkeys I had raised by hand in Stevens County, and how their peculiarities made them more and more difficult to kill each year for the annual feasting. I submit that everyone who eats a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day should hand-raise turkeys of their own at least once in their lives. That experience changes you in subtle ways.

Mature turkeys tend to be ungainly, ugly critters, actually, once they are no longer tiny, cute chicks safe in their heated enclosure. They tend to be either very astute, smarter than most birds, or dumb enough to become dinner for some sharp-eyed hawk that soars silently overhead looking for an opportune, unwary meal. Once they reached maturity, most of my turkeys slept overhead in the trees during night time, although a few preferred to sleep in their coop. Cowards.

Turkeys made a cheap, effective burglar/intruder warning device, among their other features. At the first sign of an intruder, be that human or otherwise, the tom turkeys immediately set to with a hue and cry that would pierce your eardrums. Since I did not have any neighbors in the vicinity, that never bothered anyone, save for the unfortunate burglars, including one that once got a taste of rock salt in his britches for his trouble.

Here in the city, I cannot raise turkeys by city ordinance, although I would prefer that task to the birds available from the stores. However, I cannot help but wonder how well our “free-range” cats in the neighborhood would fare against a dedicated flock of turkeys? My money is on the turkeys.

Think about that as you sit down to eat your Thanksgiving Day feast today.


Banderas Merlot, Anyone?

Oooooo, Antonio Banderas AND Hotel AND wine! Can you beat this wonderful combo – oh, and add Madrid to the mix! Antonio, a hunky 49, has a vineyard in northern Spain and wants to build a hotel there. The 620-acre property, called Anta Banderas, is making red and rose wines. They are only being sold in the Spanish and European markets – but eventually, they will be sold in America! I can hardly wait.


The magic of Black Friday gets scrutinized…

Good evening, Netizens…


We have until this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and there is little more needs to be said than the macabre and often delusional pre-Christmas Shopping Day known as “Black Friday” has already begun a bit earlier than usual and it appears to be lasting several weeks. According to my liege, Jeanie of Spokane, we have only 32 more days before Christmas. To put it more succinctly, merchants and big box stores alike are desperate to steer us all into their stores before then so we’ll be sure to participate in the combination riot, donnybrook, insurrection and various other orgiastically unworthy descriptions of Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. That was, we get to shop twice as much as if we had waited until just before Christmas to do our shopping, and we still have those nefarious crowds, some who do not bathe often enough and others who trample whoever is ahead of them in line.


Maybe, just maybe if we have a little spare time between now and then, we might actually have some disposable time to remember ourselves and possibly what Christmas is supposed to represent. I went into a pique several years ago when transfixed shoppers back east had what many termed a civil riot over a limited number of Elmo dolls. People were injured, taken to hospitals, while others were arrested for being disorderly. Or how about this YouTube video telling about Cabbage Patch dolls. or this


Now let’s wildly speculate for a moment here. How many of either the Cabbage Patch or Tickle Me Elmo dolls are already in the bottom of the nearest solid waste landfill? Anyone care to speculate?



This year we are suffering beneath a fractured economy, with more people unemployed than purportedly anytime since the 80’s. More families are planning to get a free turkey for Thanksgiving Day from KREM-2’s Tom’s Turkey Drive than ever before in the history of this strange sociological event.


Yet the advertisers are saying there is already excitement in the air. Excitement? I submit that what they term to be excitement isn’t that at all. At least among those who remember Thanksgiving Day when it was 100% a family event, and Christmas when it still had some elements of the Birth of Christ attached, I would say rather than excitement, this is much more like sadness. Of course, your results may differ.




Riots in Berkeley…

Good evening, Netizens…


November 20, 2009


AP Photo/Paul Sakuma


Demonstrators struggle with police with a barricade in front of a closed off building on the University of California, Berkeley on the Berkeley, Calif., campus, Friday,. Nov. 20, 2009, during a demonstration against university fee hikes and layoffs.

Berkeley. Why is it that despite having lived on the edge of the Berkeley campus for over 3 years, attending school each day and having witnessed some of the essential goodness that occasionally reared its head in that town, that each time someone mentions its name, I still recall the bloody, gory and totally repugnant series of riots that swept through Berkeley over People’s Park? The Alameda County Sheriff’s Department went on a head-hunting session after students overturned a Berkley Police squad car in front of Sproul Hall Plaza, and in the process of out-of-control police a Circuit Court judge threw out the cases of everyone they arrested, even those who were guilty. A peaceful poet, standing atop Shakespeare’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue to take a better picture of the “festivities” was shot dead by an Alameda County Sheriff’s Deputy who thought his zoom lens was a gun.


I remember the anti-war demonstration that turned into a riot where several City Council and former City Council members were among the arrested. Joan Baez sang in front of Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue while, up the street, people were overturning squad cars and getting themselves arrested.


In my day, people protested all manner of things, especially against war in all its formidable forms. However, my generation never protested about the price of education.


My how times have changed.




Isn’t she lovely????

Good morning, Netizens…

I'm flying beneath the radar today, actually running to catch up with whatever I was supposed to be doing, and upon reading several comments about Cathy McMorris-Rogers in another message thread, and since one of my anonymous contributors sent me this picture, I thought it fitting and proper to post it.

Ah, Mz. McMorris as you never wanted to see her…


Going Rogue drawing crowds…


Good morning, Netizens…

November 19, 2009

AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Sam Riche

People carrying their copies of the former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s book, “Going Rogue,” wait in line Thursday morning at the Borders Bookstore in Noblesville, Ind., for a chance to see Palin during her book signing.

Mind you, I never suggested to anyone that we had seen the last of Sarah Palin, former Vice-Presidential candidate, after her failed run for public office went down in flames. In fact, despite losing in the Presidential runoff to Barak Obama and Joe Biden, my instincts all stated strongly we hadn’t seen the last of Palin’s brand of Republican conservatism. I felt that emotion even more strongly after she stepped down from the governorship of Alaska. She simply hadn’t worked out her personal agenda at that point in time, and I believe she is still engaged in that process.

Although Palin is not due to arrive in Coeur d’Alene until approximately December 11 for a book signing, if her appearance at Fort Wayne, Indiana is any indicator of her popularity, her well-oiled public relations machine could catapult her into new heights, this time more or less on her own agenda. Although she has steadfastly avoided any public comments about her Presidential intentions, the fans appear to be actively pushing her in that direction.

Given her popularity, do I think Palin has a chance at the Presidency? A great deal of that depends upon how well President Obama does during the rest of his term of office, based upon my perspective. If the economy continues its downward slide, especially if we have continue involving ourselves in the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I believe her chances of success might go dramatically upwards.

I submit politics is just a pendulum, generationally swinging back and forth from left to right. For several decades it has swung to the right, under Reagan and the Bush generations. Now with President Obama, perhaps it is, depending upon your view, either centrist or swinging to the left. Some critics suggest it has swung far to the left, which might be true; perhaps not.

In the meantime, read “Going Rogue”. It is selling well at the present. It remains to be seen whether it will win new converts to political conservatism.


The Queens Speech before the Lords and Commons…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

[Picture of the Royal entrance into the combined Houses of the Lords and Commons, courtesy of AP]

Yesterday in the House of Lords, Her Majesty presented the Queen’s Speech 2009 to both Houses of Parliament. This is what she said:

Onboard the USS Titanic .. sort of…

Good morning, Netizens…

As David Horsey suggests in this morning’s cartoon, the world’s leaders are hemming and hawing over climate change like a group of farmers sitting around the Grange after a bad harvest is complete and they are wondering if they have enough profit to buy seed for the next year’s planting. They haven’t solved the problem, but instead constantly poke at it, constantly rehash it over and over again, and maybe if they are lucky, they might even agree on but not solve the issues. You cannot beat Mother Nature when it comes to handing out a good butt-kicking.

 Perhaps worse than that, you cannot get the purported experts upon whose opinions we depend to tell us how bad the climate is or is about to become in another generation or two. One set of scientists are broadcasting doom and gloom, such as how the icebergs in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting faster than ever before, while other scientists say, “Piffle. That is a bunch of poppycock.”

 Getting scientists to agree with one another is about like getting meteorologists to accurately forecast the weather over a long period of time.

 So what David Horsey is saying is at least partially true. If each of the world leaders are listening to different scientists, each coming to the table with their very diverse opinions, the world’s leaders probably will sit at the Great Table and instead of taking active steps to combat global warming, they make vague, lofty-sounding statements that play well with the “folks back home” while accomplishing very little. Isn’t this what is happening right now?

 Sometimes I wonder when or if the pendulum will swing the other way; instead of global warming will might have global cooling.


Your Taxes Might be Higher Than You Planned

Feel rich??? Several months ago, I noticed a little increase in my payroll check. Not a lot, mind you. But I’m on a “budget” where I notice a few dollars here and there.

 But all is not a fairy tale ending for a lot of people. I’m lucky. I’m not married, I don’t work more than one job, and I don’t receive Social Security benefits. Those who fall into one of those three categories – my sympathies.

From the Spokesman:

 ”Taxpayers are at risk if they have more than one job, are married and both spouses work, or receive Social Security benefits while also earning taxable wages, according to a report Monday by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.”


Okay, let’s see where she is from…

Good morning, Netizens…

Here we have David Horsey’s cartoon of the day, featuring a lot of journalists all standing in the unemployment line together. Then, at the end of the line we have a young woman dressed in a cheesecake blue bunny costume who is what?

Since I am not interested in the fury taking place yesterday, as I know it is going nowhere at all, let’s see what this girl might be, shall we?

Joe Shogun’s personal secretary?

Granny Grunt when she was much younger?

A resident of East Sprague looking for new turf?

You pick out who she is.


Strange news of the day…

Good morning, Netizens…

This Nov. 11, 2009 booking photo made available by the Hillsborough County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office shows Joshua Basso. Florida police say Basso, arrested for repeatedly calling 911 looking for sex, claimed it was the only number he could dial after running out of cell phone minutes. (AP Photo/Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office)

Florida police say he was arrested for repeatedly calling 911 looking for sex. Basso purportedly made sexual comments to the 911 dispatcher, asking if he could come to her house. Police state that the 911 operator hung up, but he called back four times.

Basso was arrested about 15 minutes later at his home late Wednesday and charged with making a false 911 call. Basso reportedly told officers that he didn’t think he would get in trouble for calling 911.

I think this probably qualifies for today’s strange news, but of course to Basso it might seem even more bizarre because he’s currently in jail, with no bond, no attorney and no cell phone. Maybe he’ll think next time before he solicits a 911 operator for sex, do you think?


uniform criminal justice in Spokane?

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Sergeant Brad Thoma of the Spokane Police Department was recently charged with drunk driving and hit-and-run after leaving the scene of an accident at Farwell and Highway 2.

For a brief moment here, let us pretend like we were in fantasy land. Let’s pretend I am blitzed out of my gourd, driving my perennial van down Farwell Road near Highway 2 and I hit the back of a woman’s Ford Ranger. Rather than face the music, I simply drive away, but since lots of people know me, it isn’t long before the gendarmes arrive at my house and I am taken into custody. Within less than a week, because I seriously feel sorry for the woman whose car I hit, I pay for her expenses in getting it fixed.

Since this is fantasy land, we can use the fast-forward button, and then we come to trial. What kind of a sentence would I get? You can bet there wouldn’t be any visiting Whitman County Judge for me, no sir. The deferred sentencing? No way. I was drunk as Three Lords and they reserve the best cell for me to spend 90 days, mostly because I never have had any drunk driving citations ever.

Now we substitute Sergeant Brad Thoma of the Spokane Police Department for yours truly and look at how the picture of justice changes. Did I get the same justice as Sgt. Brad Thoma? Would you?

I want the same set of criminal justice for everyone, including police officers who violate the law. Have we gotten there yet?


President Obama’s decisions…

Good morning, Netizens…

Through the razor-sharp drawing of David Horsey, this morning we fire right off with President Obama and the War in Afghanistan. Recently President Obama sent his “think tank” of advisors back to the drawing board, suggesting that he didn’t feel he had enough options on the table. Some will quickly agree, it takes more guts and sheer belief in oneself to make such an unpopular decision than it does to make a decision that the majority supports.

What we also have to remember is that President Obama inherited both the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he simply has to decide how best to conclude them. He is going to conclude them, one would hope, or perhaps he will be doomed to leaving them for the next Presidential campaign.

Not that they particularly make good campaign material. I personally think President Obama needs to make getting Americans back to work his top priority, thus fixing the economy.

 Now that we’re back to writing in my favorite word processing application again, that seems to be the question of the day. What do you think should be President Obama’s top priority?


A solution hoves into view…

Good morning, Netizens…

Earlier Jeanie mentioned offhand that she uses Wordpad in Windows to cut-and-paste into the administrative panel and when I tested it (using the only Windows box I own) it worked just as it should NOT. I should never be held captive against my will to using Windows. I have spent about a fourth of my adult life fighting against being pushed into using proprietary software routines, and I simply will not buckle under to it now. I owe Jeanie a box of cigars for her idea.

 Wine, the Windows emulator, is one of the most hotly-contested software applications that has been created in the last decade. Sitting at my Unix prompt, I can run some (not all) Windows applications just as if I were running Windoze. In my frustration I had forgotten about Wine’s emulation of Wordpad for Windows, until just a short time ago. Presto! Although some functions, such as cutting and pasting URL’s to the Internet remain to be seen, I have it working.

Write in Open Office, cut-and-paste into Wine’s Wordpad and then paste it into the online form.

It does seem to be working. I’m so glad. Now I can get back to the actual job of writing for the Blog.


Friday the 13th…

Good morning, Netizens…

This is Friday the 13th, supposedly an unlucky day, and probably a good day to
turn off the alarm clock, call in sick or otherwise go hide beneath a rock
somewhere that no one would ordinarily find you. On second thought, since we
are about to receive a gift of snow from the heavens above, perhaps that isn’t
such a bad idea after all. After observing how people drove yesterday on the
West Plains, and then again this morning the pandemonium atop Snoqualmie Pass,
which happens to be closed Eastbound currently due to slide-offs, maybe this
would be a good day to simply call the rest of the day off.

At the request of Ryan Pitts, I am discontinuing the use of Open Office to
cut-and-paste much of my writings/musings and falling back to Plan B, a plain
ASCII text editor called Jed, because, like Microsoft Word, Open Office
contains far too much “chatter” in its headers, even when you are simply
cutting and pasting text between windows. You may notice a minor difference in
how it appears now, but probably not. Since I “live” as much of my time in my
text editor as I do in Open Office, this is not really any skin off my hide.
However others who cannot live, it seems, without Microsoft Word, Jed gives me
all the power of Office less the rattling bits of HTML code that clog up the

So now we march onward into this morning’s news, hoping that my solution to
the HTML problems inherent with cutting and pasting text have solved the
problem for Ryan’s sake, and that I no longer am leaking any abhorrent pieces
of code in my writing.


Enlightenment in Salt Lake City, Utah…

Good morning, Netizens…

[Portions AP Press, Salt Lake City Tribune]

Tuesday night Salt Lake City, Utah City Council passed legislation that bans discrimination against gays in housing and unemployment, and the legislation was passed with the endorsement of the Mormon Church. This is not to say the Mormon Church is suddenly getting warm and fuzzy over gay rights; in fact last year their strenuous involvement was key in the passage of California’s Proposition 8, which bans gay, lesbian and transgender relationships.

Generally speaking, Utah lawmakers tend to “toe the line” when the church makes a policy decision, as over 80% of lawmakers and the governor are Mormons. In the past the church has stated that traditional male-female marriages are central to God’s plan. Gays are welcome in church, but must remain celibate to retain church callings and full membership.

In keeping with that, in August 2008 the church issued a statement saying it supported gay rights related to hospitalization, medical care, employment, housing or probate as long as they “do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.”

However, the passage of this city ordinance is no guarantee that either county nor state legislative bodies will pass similar laws, according to the Salt Lake Tribune ( ).

However, Stan Penfold, a gay man and the director of Utah Aids Foundation, has won the race to fill Salt Lake City’s District 3 council seat. Plus there are three openly-gay state legislators.

The statute, as crafted, requires annual reports by the city’s Human Rights Commission on the effectiveness of the statutes.


Remembering the fallen and the alive…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

It is Veterans Day 2009, and now that I have cleared my desk of various other things too cumbersome for discussion, I am going to lean heavily on what this day should mean to us all. The AP picture of President Obama walking among the tombs of our fallen Americans somehow spoke to me, but this was just the beginning.

Initially I was going to write about the local observations of this day taking place in various places around Spokane, from the tribute paid to Vietnam Veterans at the Vietnam Memorial at Riverfront Park to the many memorials being held at various cemeteries throughout our region. Then I realized how many other Blogs and newspaper articles and pictures were posted across the nation about these events, both local, regional and national.

Then a quiet voice, one of our unsung Veteran-heroes, spoke to me in e-mail and said, “Without Veteran’s day, we wouldn’t have any of the others. Don’t thank them for their service, everyone serves. Thank each one for their sacrifices.”

Then yet another voice, Bob Kirkpatrick, stated with typically great wisdom, “An empty chair sits starkly obvious as families sit down to dinner today.”

Recently KREM-TV broadcast a highly-leveraged series of news articles, all of which sought public support to send World War II Veterans to Washington, DC so they could attend the WWII Veterans Memorial. At the time, I thought to myself, how nice of Randy Shaw to organize and accomplish such a task, but then thought, what about the homeless Veterans who fought in Viet Nam? What about their contribution? What about their need to go to “The Wall” and commemorate the veterans and perhaps friends who sacrificed their all in an unpopular war? Is/was the War in Viet Nam still that unpopular?

I cannot help but wonder if the dead, who lay in row after row in the cemetery where President Obama walked today could speak to him, what would they say?

I submit if such a thing were possible, in one voice, Veterans both living and dead would say, “We gave the ultimate sacrifice so that yet another generation of Americans could continue to live free. It was our duty, and we are proud that someone, anyone, would remember where we once made our stands.”

And on those thoughts I solemnly raise my hand to my heart and salute them all, both living and dead, always hoping someday we will see an end to war but knowing how many have died trying.


Is this a problem?

Good morning, Netizens…

[Rio de Janeiro, Brazil]

Last month the International Olympic Committee chairman announced that Brazil will host the 2016 International Olympics. Late yesterday the electrical power for most major cities in Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro, went out, casting an estimated 60 million people into darkness. Say, we understand power outages in Spokane, Washington, don’t we?

Twenty-some years ago I traveled across the Brazilian Rain Forest and it made a lasting impression on me. Big bugs, big snakes, but even bigger rain storms that seemingly swept in out of nowhere, with lightning that never seemed to stop. According to various sources, a severe storm compromised the power lines between the dam, the giant Itaipu hydroelectric dam, which exists on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. It knocked power out to most of the major cities of Brazil and portions of Paraguay for what news sources suggest were between 2 and 5 hours.

Hooligans ran rampant through the streets of Rio, but no official records of their arrests have been released. Look on the bright side: the hookers could no longer take credit cards. Yes, they do that as Brazil is a modern, emerging nation.

Okay, let’s spin this ahead a few years, shall we? The Olympics are underway and millions of tourists are in attendance. Am I crazy in worrying about the fragile electrical infrastructure during the Olympic games? Maybe by then they will have fixed things; perhaps not.


A heinous criminal…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Eric John Rick Vogel, a former radio announcer in Libby, Montana, will not be broadcasting any more shows for awhile. That’s because he is doing 40 years at the Montana State Prison for sexual assaulting five out of his seven children. I’ve been following this case closely as it wove its way through Lincoln County Courts in Libby, thanks in part to Steve Thompson’s insistence.

For the record, here is his prison picture:


A vision of not that long ago…

Good morning, Netizens…

Picture Credit : AP/Mukhtar Khan

Has it been that long?

A Kashmiri woman gathers up leaves in Srinagar, India, Sunday. Kashmiris collect the leaves in the fall which are then burned in fire pots in winter to keep themselves warm.

It was slightly over a decade ago that I once gathered the maple and elm leaves from my Stevens County property down where the creek babbled among the rocks and built up a huge stockpile of leaves each fall as fire starters for the firewood I gathered each fall. I fondly remember gathering the leaves and firewood each fall, easily spending three or four days of each week working hard preparing for winter.

Then in the heart of winter, I always kept a nice fire going in the double barrel wood stove, which did an excellent job of keeping my cabin warm all winter long. Despite what Avista tries to tell those of us that have actually experienced living in the country, my heating costs in those days were scarcely half of what they are now, even including the cost of operating the wood splitter and maintenance. However, those quiet afternoons spent gathering leaves and wood were some of the most-introspective and calming times of my adult life.

For an unfortunately short period of time I could hold the world at bay, sitting atop a tree stump in the clearing amid my pile of leaves and my freshly-split firewood.


Who is Major Nidal Malik Hasan?

Good evening, Netizens…

Who is this man? Obviously he is Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13 people and wounding countless others. However that nor any of the other facts surrounding Hasan’s life can explain why he acted as he did.

Yet this afternoon, reading in various places on the Internet I have heard him called a recent recruit to Muslim faith, a “sleeper” terrorist, perhaps part of a covert terrorist group intent upon more crimes, and the list of possibilities goes on and on. At least based upon what few facts we have about Hasan, perhaps none of the allegations are true. The FBI, Army military authorities and local and state police are still attempting to put together a cogent picture of what motivated Hasan, a psychiatrist, to “come unglued” and start killing people.

At present, on Friday evening, he is in a coma at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio in critical condition.

What little we know is Hasan is an American born in Virginia of Palestinian parents. Hasan graduated from medical school at the Uniformed Services University in 2003, said Sharon K. Willis, speaking for the school.

He then entered a psychiatry residency program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, which he completed in 2007. He returned to the university for the disaster and military psychiatry fellowship in 2007. The first phase of that fellowship is earning a master of public health degree, which he completed in 2008. He completed the fellowship program in June. A month later, Hasan reported for duty at Fort Hood.

There is a considerable amount of evidence, mostly from his neighbors in the apartment complex in which he lived, that he was a gentle, caring and kindly person who most viewed as a decent man.

If Hasan lives we may actually get some answers about what motivated the man. If he dies of his wounds we may never know what motivated him to kill some of the people he was sworn to help.



Power restored downtown AGAIN…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

How can I say this succinctly enough? Electrical power, which went out in the downtown core this afternoon, has been restored.

Thus far no one seems to have a clue what caused the major outage, the second or perhaps third similar outage in the last 60 days.

Enough already!


The ballots are counted — sort of…

Good morning, Netizens…

As David Horsey points out, President Barack Obama may have an earful after the ballots are counted. Or maybe not, depending upon how much political joss can be derived by either the Democrats or the Republicans who successfully ran for election back East.

I have two schools of thought when it comes to post-election day news, which is probably why I didn’t have much to say about the election until it more or less was settled.

The first school observes that, at least in the Pacific Northwest, we nearly always have a tradition of holding election night parties in one of our favorite community bars, some of which last well into the night in tightly-contested elections. Based upon previous year elections, these occasions depend heavily upon a candidate winning in the ballots, for it they are not ahead in the ballot count, people tend to simply drift away to go somewhere else for their drinking. Since I staunchly abstain from drinking, I am about as embarrassing as a fat man at a foot race, since I am sober.

The other school, which the vast majority of citizens seem to favor, is simply sit transfixed in front of their televisions awaiting to hear which candidates and referendums won, and by how much, or even better, simply go to bed and await the morning news the next day after the ballots are counted. This is particularly true in the midst of this Recession, when some folks do not even have jobs and can no longer afford a trip across town to celebrate or cheer their candidates onward.

Initiative 1033, one of the most-hotly contested issues on the ballot, yet another test of Tim Eyman’s will versus that of the voters, seems certain to be headed to defeat. The voters will have to live with the free-wheeling spending habits of State Government, which may or may not be a good thing in the year of huge budget deficits and national recession.

Of course, if you take the tentative defeat of 1033 in stock, you might also contemplate the race between Mike Fagan and Amber Waldref for City Council District #1. I wondered from the beginning how many voters noticed the relationship between Fagan and Tim Eyman, and would vote accordingly. Now that Amber has cleaned Fagan’s clock, it will be interesting to watch the City Council as she assumes Al French’s former City Council seat. All I ever have asked of voters is that intelligent informed voters need fill out their ballots; everyone else need not apply. With slightly more than 50% of the registered voters casting their ballots, perhaps that happened this time.

Having spoken, I will only comment that I fully support Referendum #71. It is time we got the government out of our relationships, married or otherwise, and it appears to be winning. Now watch. Someone on the religious right will unquestionably sue to overturn or alter its intent.

As for the ballyhoo about President Obama and the purported effects of Republican wins in New Jersey and Virginia, I question the importance of their wins. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


The meaning of the holidays…

Good morning, Netizens…

In the dead calm of pre-dawn darkness I sit contemplating the advent of the holiday shopping season which, this year, appears to be arriving much sooner than the day after Thanksgiving. That bastion of consumer enlightenment, Santa Claus, normally arrives the Day after Thanksgiving, what is termed “Black Friday”, complete with his visits to the malls, lots of tiny reindeer both real and not-so-real, and of course, the pronouncements of Christmas sales. This insanity continues unabated from Black Friday until finally, exhausted and broke, the intrepid Christmas shoppers finally reel home and fall down. Somewhere in there we pause unctuously to observe Thanksgiving Day and sometimes Christmas.

Not only do I have a serious problem with huge, sweaty crowds jamming against one another looking for that perfect Christmas bargain, but I also deeply loathe the commercialization of two such very important holidays. I’ve muttered deeply to myself about this manifestation of so-called holiday spirit in the past, even predicted a time or two that eventually we would hear Christmas Carols rumbling forth from the airwaves by (gasp!) the Fourth of July which is already happening, yet another holiday that has been marginalized by commercial advertising.

For a nation so deeply-steeped in patriotism, which is what we purport to be, it strikes me as nauseating that we get all warm and fuzzy about our Veterans of War whenever it is convenient, a diuretic to our broken moral values or simply because it is a federal holiday. The rest of the year we forget the wounded and dead scattered over several foreign countries, which is about how I would term the nearest Veterans Administration Hospital where some of the less-fortunate veterans end up. For the most part, the VA is nothing more than an extension of wars and rumors of wars, bereft of the clinical doctors and nurses who perhaps lovingly tend the ill and wounded. Yeah, sure, as my friends might say.

Has it ever dawned on anyone that holidays aren’t what they used to be? We can rearrange them on the calendar whenever we want them, and we haven’t even begun to tap dance on the implications and realities of materialism yet.

Why bother?

Why don’t we just have half a dozen or so shopping holidays each year for the hell of it. Close all public business and declare federal shopping holidays; stop fooling ourselves with all this piety and garbage about doing our part for the national economy? We could spread the economic wealth around that way, don’t you know? The merchants would love it, and those of us who still observe and revere the holidays for what they really are could sit quietly in the corners of society, nodding our heads to no one in particular, and muttering about how it once was.

I remember standing in frigid wind watching veterans solemnly marching down the street, I remember the big harvests that always preceded Thanksgiving Day but most of all, I remember the Star in the East that used to rise above the mountains on Christmas Eve. A long, long time ago, I remember two giant work horses with sleigh bells on their harnesses plodding their way across the snow-covered fields.

But I don’t remember what I bought my wife last Christmas.


It all depends…

Good morning, Netizens…

Let us approach the issue of Boeing opening its newest plant in South Carolina with delicacy, shall we? That isn’t to say that cartoonist David Horsey has done so with today’s cartoon, not hardly at all.

A poet once observed that a little competition is good for everyone, and perhaps this could be made to apply to Boeing in Seattle. I believe the Unions in Seattle have become complacent and so set in their ways over the years, which the unions have profited handsomely, that they strike back against anyone wishing to take a little piece of their pie.

On the other hand, in these somewhat desperate times, it doesn’t make sense to be exporting jobs from Washington State to South Carolina, does it? Of course, if you live in South Carolina, there probably people out dancing in the streets upon hearing that so many new jobs are arriving soon.

Of course, this all could be David Horsey playing to the choir, couldn’t it?

I guess it all depends upon your position.


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