Monday, June 28, 2004

Where Am I Now?

For all of you Blog readers this message was originally on my website so don't panic, the blog is remianing right here...

Life In A Handbasket is on the move again.

This will be the last article on this Internet address. Read this entire article for the location of the new website. If you are confused, please feel free to drop me a line or make a comment here.

Thanks to a friend of mine a new and improved Content Management System (CMS) similar to the one we are using now has been found.

As you can see, the site address www.ninthportal.net/cpg is similar to this one.

The new site is not really ready for prime time yet, but if you'd like to come on over and watch me slowly rebuild the website, and maybe read some of the older articles as they scroll back through the system, then you're welcome to do so.

I am also having you all register again since there are not many users yet, and I don't want to mess anything up trying to move the user accounts.

Hope to see you all make the move to the new site.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Elizabeth

This morning I awoke at 3:00am because I was thinking about you. When this happens there is only one cure for me, and that’s to get things out of my head and into words.

I have known your father since we were kids riding our bikes together in Southern California. I have known your mother almost as long. Your grandparents are like a second mother and father to me.

Your father tells me that you have recently become engaged, and that the target of your affection is now serving this country in the Army. As you know I have served over twenty years in the Air Force and am now retired.

This letter is being written in an open forum, because I have had this talk with many young folks, and I feel that it applies to a large number of people just getting started in life.

The first reaction may be that you are not just getting started, and that you are now an adult, able to make your own decisions, and that older people just don’t understand.

I have watched you grow from a newborn baby, to the adult you now are, and I can say with confidence, you are still just getting started with your life.

Up until this time you have been under the protection of your family. If you made a bad mistake, your family was there to support you, to wipe away the tears, and to comfort you. They have given you advice, and whether or not you chose to follow that advice, your family was there to help you through the consequences.

Being in the military for almost half of my life, I have seen many young people get married. On a rare occasion, this has worked out okay for them, as far as I know today, but more often then not it has ended in divorce.

It’s not because they didn’t love one another at the time, or that they thought they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, it was because neither of them had actually began their lives.

As a young adult, you are just being set free into the world to make your own way. I believe I can say with some certainty that you still do not know what direction that is.

Having a dream, and living your life, quite often become opposite ends of the spectrum. This is evident by the overwhelming number of people who are not working in the same career field their college degree was in.

For what it's worth, here is a typical young military family lifecycle as seen through my experienced set of eyes.

After getting married young to be together, you move around a lot. This takes the wife away from her family and all that she is used to. Since being together was the reason for the marriage, there starts to become a strain on the relationship because now the wife begins to feel like a roommate to this guy she is finding out is a slob, doesn’t like the same things she likes, drinks too much with his buddies, or whatever the typical wedge becomes for that particular couple.

Being in the military, the husband is away more then he is at home. There are a few exceptions, but I can tell you that a majority of the guys who are overseas either for a long tour, or short tour, cheat on their wives. I won’t get into the psychology of why I think this happens, just know that it does.

Most military marriages end with the wife telling the husband that he needs to quit the military. Sometimes the husband will get orders, and the wife flat out tells him she is not going to wherever they are supposed to move next.

Does this mean military people should never marry? Absolutely not!

People that have been in the military long enough to make it a career tend to get married and stay married. This is because they are now comfortable with the lifestyle, and they are able to explain to their future wife what exactly that lifestyle is all about.

Young folks who marry while the husband is only in for a short time have things even worse if they are still together when he gets out. Now, he must find a job. If he has spent the past four years working on his degree, or toward a career he can go into when he gets out, things may be okay.

A typical military guy has wasted his four years drinking, dating, and acting like he was in a college fraternity. The problem is, guys in college fraternities are going to college and getting degrees, he is not.

Married, the still young couple gets out with not only no decent prospects for the husband to earn a good income for his family, but they usually have two kids as well! Now, they will spend the rest of their lives stressed out over money issues because both the husband and wife are working two jobs trying to keep clothes on their children and food in the house. Sound like the dream family life you’re looking for?

Am I saying all of this to tell you not to get married? Certainly not!

My advice to you, as someone who loves you and your family very much, is to wait. If this was meant to be, and you both are truly in love, then waiting will do nothing but strengthen that bond.

I’m not talking about waiting four months, or a year, I’m talking about waiting until you both know exactly what you want to do with your lives. If he decides to make a career in the Amy that’s great and you will know this going in to the marriage. When he gets out, wait until he finds work and begins his new career to make certain it’s what you want as well.

Getting married for love alone is great in fairy tales, but the concept falls short in reality.

So here comes my advice to you Elizabeth, and to everyone who is young and thinking of getting married before they actually know the direction their life is going to take them.

Wait.

After reading this article I think you know how long you need to wait. Wait until you find a man who has a career already, and knows the direction he is going. This way you can make sure it’s the same direction you have wanted as well.

Just because a guy is studying to be a lawyer in college does not mean you are marrying a lawyer. Wait until he graduates, gets his first job, and begins to actually live the life he has planned.

During the wait, he may very well find another sucker, er, woman who wants to marry him now. That’s fine, let her.

I hate to use the cliché, but it fits so well.

There are plenty of fish in the ocean.

As a beautiful woman with a good head on her shoulders, you need to be selective and throw back the small ones. Wait for the big catch that will be able to feed the family you are planning to have someday.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Family Days

We have set aside a few days each year to remember family. Father’s, Mother’s, and Grandparents.

What do these days mean to you? Leave a comment here to share your thoughts with us, or better yet, venture into the forum area and start up a conversation!

Remember to register or login to the website first, so that you can post your feedback.

For now, it’s my turn to share with you my feelings toward these days.

I think it’s great! No argument from me.

The best thing about these family days, is that it gives us a chance, or should I say an excuse, to drop what we’re doing in our busy lives and acknowledge those who have raised us, who love us, and who we love.

It seems these days our lives run at full speed. To where, I have no idea, but we’re sure in a hurry to get there!

This year we had the pleasure to go to my wife’s parents home. Her brother and sister got to come as well, which is great because the family covers the West coast, East coast and Mountain region of the United States. It’s not often these days that they can all get together in one place.

I’m just like many of you. Most days I tend to be too busy to stop and smell the roses. In this case the roses are family.

We live in another state from just about every family member we know. I have a cousin nearby, which is nice to have at least some part of my family where I live. I’ll be the first to admit though, that there are many times that I miss my family and friends.

Things would be much easier if family and friends always and forever lived near each other. The reality is, we move, they move, and eventually the ideal situation is gone.

Being retired from the Air Force, I have friends scattered throughout the world! The nice thing about e-mail and the Internet is that I tend to keep in touch with everyone a little better then if I had to rely completely on “snail mail”.

So here we are, the sun is shinning (which is good because it has rained for the past three days here), and we’re all preparing for a nice BBQ by the pool.

Before I go down and join in the festivities I had to do a little work on the local computer here. It tends to be my job wherever I go, but it doesn’t bother me, because it’s what I enjoy doing.

The computer is now updated, and some other research is done so I’ll be on my way to helping with the food preparation, or maybe just watching the kids in the pool. Either way, it’s time to enjoy the family, and relax on this day, my day, Father’s Day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

And Justices For All?

Today the Supreme Court handed down their ruling on the issue of the words “…under God” in our national Pledge.

Some of you who have been faithful readers here know my position on this. Since the Supreme Court decided to bless us with their lofty opinions, I think it only fair to take the gloves off and yes, disagree with the highest court in our land.

Don’t leave now, please read further and hear me out.

First of all, the decision was not really a shocker to me. After all, the Supreme Court has dodged dicey issues in the past, and this one was no different.

Have you ever watched a movie, television show, or perhaps read a book, where someone was granted a wish or two? What normally happens is that the person granting the wish turns out to be mischievous in some way and never fulfills the wish exactly how the recipient would like.

A great example of this is the movie “Bedazzled” in which Elizabeth Hurley plays the devil and grants seven wishes to Brendan Fraser. If you have seen this gem, you know that Brendan never actually gets any of his wishes just how he thought they would turn out.

In this same spirit the Supreme Court found their much needed loophole by basing their ruling on the legal standing of Michael Newdow to be able to bring this to these judicial gods on Mt Olympus. Because this was a matter of who had the custody of his daughter in the state of California, the point of whether or not the words in the Pledge were constitutional or not were basically a non-issue.

The news is giving the impression in its reports that the Supreme Court ruled that the words “under God” can remain in the “Pledge of Allegiance”, when in fact they have ruled no such thing. The fact is they never took the opportunity to debate the issue of the constitutionality of the words in the Pledge.

Some of the judges attempted to toss in their two-cents though, and some of their statements are a bit scary.

Justice O’Connor, for example, stated that, “It is unsurprising that a Nation founded by religious refugees and dedicated to religious freedom should find references to divinity in its symbols, songs, mottoes, and oaths.”

What amazes me is that she can acknowledge the need for religious freedom, yet indorses the brainwashing of children to recite the mantra “under God” daily.

She goes on to discuss “ceremonial deism” and the references to God in traditional patriotic songs, mottoes and our money.

Again, most of these things are not really relevant to the issue at hand. I can overlook the mention of God that is sprinkled throughout our nation, but to me the entire issue is very simple. If you remove all of the doubletalk from the justices, to me it boils down to one thing. Does the government have the right to force a child to recite the Pledge with the words “under God” in it? The answer is absolutely not!

Justice O’Conner claims that, “…the appearance of the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance constitutes an instance of such ceremonial deism.” She says that this is based on her evaluation of these four factors. These factors, as far as I can tell, are etched on her own self-created measuring stick.

I’ll take a look at each factor since she felt they were so important to her decision.

History and Ubiquity
Justice O’Conner claims basically that since the pledge has been around for 50 years, and recited by “millions of children”, that the words “under God” no longer have a religious meaning to them. She also asks the question that if it bothered people so much why was it only the third such challenge in the past 50 years?

Your honor, does the ritualistic brainwashing of millions of young children over the past 50 years make it right simply by shear volume of victims and the longevity of the ignorance?

Let’s take this a step further and state that slavery is okay because it has taken place over thousands of years by most of the countries on this planet? By your thinking slavery is not illegal, and should be reinstated immediately!

Why wasn’t it challenged more frequently your honor? This ridicule and obnoxious pro-Christian stance to defend any Christian stronghold makes it a very taboo thing to challenge. Michael Newdow is probably being attacked daily by every pro-Christian group on the planet, not-to-mention all the grandmothers of the country. This case was decided before it even went to the Supreme Court based on the stance that everyone form the administration on down has taken.

Absence of Worship or Prayer
In a nutshell because the words do not denote worshipping or prayer, it has “lost through rote repetition any significant religious content”. So, let me get this straight. The government can force young children to repeat a religious allegiance over and over again, and if it is done by millions of children, this negates its meaning?

Oh my goodness Justice O’Connor, does this mean the entire pledge is now meaningless? What kind of psychobabble is this?

Absence of Reference to Particular Religion
Now this one amuses me as well. Again, the illustrious justice says that, “It does not refer to a nation ‘under Jesus’ or ‘under Vishnu,” but instead acknowledges religion in a general way: a simple reference to a generic ‘God.’”

Again, more misleading crap talk. Justice O’Connor, do you not know that a capitalization of “God” is used to only mean the Christian God? And what other generic God are you referring to? This once again does not address the fact the children are reciting a pledge to their country with a religious statement added to it for no other reason then a Christian one!

Minimal Religious Content
Now this one cracks me up. In this “factor” Justice O’Connor says that, “…the presence of these words is not absolutely essential to the Pledge, as demonstrated by the fact that it existed without them for over 50 years.”

Did you catch that last part? The pledge did not have the words “under God” in it for longer then it did! And guess what, the words are not essential to the Pledge. Then why the hell don’t we just remove them again? What are the Christians afraid will happen?

Let’s move on to Justice Thomas, and look over some of his viewpoints.

Justice Thomas talks about a case that was cited in a decision which talked about students and graduations. Even though the ceremony was optional, “peer pressure” caused the students to have a “reasonable perception” of being forced to pray, because the prayer was at the ceremony.

This is one instance of “peer pressure”, how about everyone in class every single morning of your school life! If that’s not peer pressure I don’t know what is. Should we add in the fact that very young children are forced to do this when they are too young to even make any religious decision for themselves? You say they are not forced? Let’s see, they are told to stand up, recite the Pledge, and told the words to say. They do it over and over again before they are even old enough to know any different.

Although Justice Thomas says that, “I conclude that, as a matter of our precedent, the Pledge policy is unconstitutional.”, he also ends his statement by saying that, “It follows that religious liberty rights are not in question and that the Pledge policy fully comports to the Constitution.”

So where do we go from here?

I would like to see the words removed from the Pledge. If they are truly “not essential” then let’s just remove them once again and be done with it. After all, we are pledging our allegiance to the flag and this country, not to God. Everyone should be happy by removing the words. Oh but wait! People are still fighting this vehemently. Why is that if these two words are “not essential”? It’s because IT IS A RELIGIOUS ISSUE!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Freeloading Women

Have we gone completely mad?

Today there was a ruling by J. Frank Vespa-papaleo, director of the New Jersey state Division on Civil Rights, that establishments can no longer offer “ladies night” discounts such as waving a cover charge or reduced drink prices.

This civil rights clown actually agrees with David R. Gillespie who whined that it wasn’t fair that women can get into the Coastline nightclub for free and get reduced cost drinks, while men have to pay a $5 cover charge and full price for their drinks.

Is it just me, or does this seem like a petty thing to not only complain about, but for any official to even make a ruling on?

How could this even make it as far as it had without someone just laughing real loud and obnoxiously into Mr. Gillespie’s face? I’m sure his friends are very proud to know him, and he’s just a real hit with the ladies.

This is not discrimination folks, it’s a promotion to try to get more women to come into a bar so that the men have a reason to go there as well. While we’re at it, lets outlaw wet t-shirt and bikini contests! I know some of you would say great, but whether you enjoy them is not the issue.

The fact is that some members of our society like wet t-shirt and bikini contests, they even like the fact that a nightclub owner is trying to attract more women into their bar so that more men will be drawn to come in and spend their money.

Do you realize the shear number of gender-based promotions and advertisements in this country? Should we abolish them all in the name of civil rights? Let’s just cut the hair of all the women short, make them all wear pants, and outlaw makeup while we’re at it!

Let’s face it men and women are different. We are attracted to different things, we have different drives, and the same things that motivate men do not motivate women.

Discrimination to me is if someone is being hurt by the actions of another based on their gender, race, etc… Nobody is being denied anything. The only thing going on is women are getting a discount to be lured into a nightclub.

I’ll bet Mr. Gillespie wants to take away discounts for Senior Citizens as well based on age discrimination. Those darn old people should not be able to eat cheaper then us! It’s not fair!

Grow up Dave, and welcome to the real world! It’s not Dave’s world, or the playground. Not only am I annoyed that this even happened, now I’m annoyed that I got so worked up over this that I actually was driven to write about it.

It was time for another culture piece anyway, and I knew the world would not let me down. Having a pool of idiots to draw from, always assures there will be fresh stories to write about. Instead of glorifying people like David with any attention, they should be ignored. Better yet, maybe we should build some more asylums for those people who can’t handle life.

You know the type I’m talking about. There are those people who go to work, but don’t want to do any work, so they sit around complaining about other people not doing enough of the work so they can relax a bit more.

Then there are customers who take the term, “the customer is always right” to new levels. Sometimes customers are just a big pain in the butt!

You are not right when you abuse a sales clerk. You’re a jerk. You’re not right when you scream at a customer service person like a child. You’re a jerk. You’re not right when you whine about not getting in free like the women, or cheaper drinks. You’re a jerk David.

David will be some great prize for one of those women at the nightclub. Hopefully they’ll be able to see him coming from a mile away. He’s probably the guy still wearing the polyester suit and colorful shirt unbuttoned down to his navel.

The funny thing about all of this is I’ll bet ya David walks into the same nightclub and brags about being responsible for teaching all of those freeloading women a lesson. Of course, now they’re no longer there, and with any luck the remaining guys will take David out behind the bar and smack him around a bit. Why? For being a jerk!