Ed Tilley, September 1947 - January 2014

Somewhere around here, buried in a box of photos is a picture of my Dad and me dancing. We're at a wedding he and Mama were photographing. She caught a quick picture -- if I remember correctly, he was summoned back to the camera before the dance even ended! But it's always been one of my favorites.

I wish I had it right now, to share. Because that is how I'd rather remember my Dad. Healthy, vibrant, the center of the crowd, the heart of the party, laughing and enjoying life. He squeezed every ounce of juice he could out of his time remaining, lasting longer than I really thought he would.

Dad will be missed by a lot of people. He worked with Habitat for Humanity for quite a number of years. He was active in the Triangle Photographers Association and the Professional Photographers of Ohio. He had a photo studio in Canton, Ohio. He took yearbook photos of a lot of my classmates at Timken, among other schools in the area. He photographed a lot of area brides and families.

It was because of his business first operating out of our home, that I learned about the student exchange program which sent me to Chile, South America for a year. He had a client who was hosting a Columbian girl. My Dad was using his usual littany of "funny" comments trying to get the girl to smile. It dawned on me that the reason she wasn't smiling was because she didn't understand a word he was saying. I burst out with, "Sonrie!" (Spanish for "Smile!") and she grinned so wide it was like the lights just came ON!

After that, I was hooked on the power of foreign languages. Turns out, that's something I had in common with Dad -- it just took him a little longer to express it. Since the early 2000s, he had been studying Japanese. I know -- one of the hardest freaking languages out there. But, ever since he'd been evacuated to Japan when he was wounded in Viet Nam, he'd been interested in all things Japanese. He took class after class. Any time we spoke on the phone, a flood of Japanese would greet me. I would sit there, a little dazed, and then say something brilliant like, "Hi, Dad."

I read a book last year whose title caught my attention at the library. Thirty Days with My Father was written by a woman who has pretty traumatic childhood memories of her father's PTSD after his service in Viet Nam. The book takes the reader through her changing opinion of and relationship with her father. It helped me to look at my Dad's service in terms of what he went through, not how it affected me.

Dad hasn't been far from my thoughts for a very long time now. It's only been a few days since he passed, so it still surprises me to realize he's gone.

He passed.

He's gone on to a better place.

He isn't in pain any more.

I find that last one gives me the most comfort right now.

On Monday, the family will gather for his service. Mama says he's getting a full military send-off, 21 gun salute and all. I may not be there in body, but I know Dad will stop by in spirit, if for no other reason than to get the party started.

Love you, Dad.


I'm still here, but will any remaining readers still recognize me? I finally locked down the registration again -- nothing but spam accounts anyway. I'm debating shutting this whole damn thing down and going to something both more and less restrictive, like blogspot. I don't want to have to manage the software any more. I don't want to have to worry about someone posting spam about some drug to help men.

I think the answer I'm reaching is yes. I'm ready to move over to blogspot. This blog isn't really about a Ferret-Owned knitter any more.... I've lived through the time where my ferrets owned me and have changed enough that I can see the day where I will no longer have ferrets at all. Is it sad? Yes. I adore my fuzzies. But I want less challenges: making sure my office space is ferret-friendly versus choosing to never let them in my office.

We're looking seriously at leaving the Valley of the Sun. Right now, the where is still up for discussion. Flagstaff, AZ. Seattle, WA. Somewhere in Colorado? Do we cross the Mississippi again? My father's health, my wife's mother's health, my husband's parents --- these are all reasons to be close to family again. Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, South Carolina. That's where family is. But I don't want to be there.

Randy mentioned some guy is seriously trying to put together a mission to start a colony on Mars. When I realized I'd leave my ferrets behind to do this, I knew the end of my ferret days was nigh. Five years ago, I'd have struggled with this conundrum. My biggest worry is, "Will I still be able to knit?" I know I'd still be able to write -- that takes very little, really. But knitting, that requires influxes of yarn. I could totally build an awesome Knitpicks needle collection worthy of a life on Mars...but the yarn.... hmmm.

So, I'm seriously considering closing this blog and starting a new one on one of those blogging sites. New site, new blog, new me?

If you still read here, would you leave a comment and let me know? If I don't get any responses, I probably won't bother with another post to point readers to the new blog.

It's been fun, y'all. But, that is all for now.

Arizona: State of Idiots?

I'm beginning to question whether Arizona really is the state for me. There are two trains of thought: stay and "fight the fight" (oh, there are so many!) or leave for a place I feel represents me more accurately.

What's got me riled up this time? Ken Bennett, the Arizona Secretary of State, who controls the ballots for elections. He's threatening to take President Barack Obama off the ballot in the state of Arizona. Why? Because "...my responsibility as secretary of state is to make sure that the ballots in Arizona are correct and that those people whose names are on the ballot have met the qualifications for the office they are seeking."

I think this stinks of desperation. I don't agree with Mr. Obama on everything. But I do believe he's a much better President than Mitt Romney might be. I think people who want Romney to be president are worried Obama might actually carry this state (which is great news in my mind). So, to make it harder for him to do this, Mr. Bennett is threatening to take Mr. Obama off the ballot. I believe Mr. Obama has proven he has met the qualifications of the office he's seeking. He's our currently serving President!

But this Ballot Bullshit isn't the only reason I'm questioning whether to stay or go. In 2008, Arizona passed Prop 102, which amended the State's constitution to read: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state." Arizona is starting to lose its aura of independence for me -- the hive-mind that is the Latter-Day Saints doesn't allow that kind of free thinking -- and I would rather live where the people can and do still think for themselves. (Does that mean I need to move outside the US?)

But there's more. A non-political article I read suggests the Southwest will be hard hit in the coming decades (admittedly, the article referenced 2060, by which time I will be 90) with drought. Like I said, it's not political (unless you look at the politics behind supporting or ignoring global climate change).

I don't know if I've blogged much here about our desire to build a monolithic dome on a large piece of property. We'd like to be as self-sufficient as possible -- we're not as gung-ho as some of the Doomsday Preppers are. But we are aware that your local grocery store would be empty within 3 days, without the constant influx of commercial goods. We are aware how dependent the average person is on being able to pop in to their local Walmart or even local grocery store.

Does it make sense for us to stay in Arizona (long-term) if the area will be heading toward drought conditions? We've talked among ourselves and deeply desire to build a family estate -- not in the "Old Oil Money" sense of "estate" but in the sense of a large property which welcomes multiple generations of our family with room for all to grow and thrive.

We could stay and fight the idiots who are terrified of what allowing gay marriage *gasp* will do to the fabric of society. We could stay and fight the idiots who would rather focus on birth certificates, instead of debating the actual issues. But how do we combat nature? Maybe we fight with politics.

Or maybe we don't fight? Maybe we pick up stakes and move? If so, where? Not California (ferrets are illegal, there's earthquakes). Not east of the Mississippi --- just general dislike of the east mostly. Not the Gulf regions where hurricanes are likely or Tornado Alley either. That's pushing us north: Colorado or Nevada. Not Utah -- we'd be breaking the law there, just by living together (bigamy). Wyoming? I know nothing about that state. I just know I strongly dislike snow... Maybe New Mexico? Maybe eastern Oregon or Washington (state)? We'll have to read up on the Cascadia Fault first.

I'd love some comments from my readers on this. What do you guys think? Should we ditch Arizona? Or stay and fight? And what are your thoughts on global climate change and how it's going to affect the US (and the Southwest)?

Looking at Ron Paul...

I read an article the other day, 10 Reasons Not to Vote for Ron Paul. I've been on the fence about whether I would vote for Barack Obama or Ron Paul. I've seen a lot of anti-Paul rhetoric, but have brushed a lot of it off as just an over-the-top knee-jerk "Don't let the L/libertarians have the Presidency!" mentality.

But this latest article left me feeling like it's time to take the list apart and break down "what could have been" against what's really happening... I'll be quoting the list within the original article since my commentary responds to what has been written. (In case it needs to be said, the article I'm quoting is 100% against Ron Paul...)

1. Ron Paul does not value equal rights for minorities. Ron Paul has sponsored legislation that would repeal affirmative action, keep the IRS from investigating private schools who may have used race as a factor in denying entrance, thus losing their tax exempt status, would limit the scope of Brown versus Board of Education, and would deny citizenship for those born in the US if their parents are not citizens. Here are links to these bills: H.R.3863, H.R.5909, H.J.RES.46, and H.J.RES.42.

Affirmative Action, that piece of legislation which means, "I don't know if I got my job because I'm the best candidate, or they had a quota to fill." I nearly lost a job before my first day because not enough black people were working in the department. A job very few might apply to because it was a 30 minute drive to real civilization; a job which a graduate with my degree could have easily bested by an additional $15,000 per year by going that 30 miles. This piece of legislation put me in the same seat minorities are trying to prevent for themselves with this legislation... Seems a little ironic, doesn't it?

The rest of this paragraph... well, if we're going to keep allowing the Federal government to muddle with our children's education, then all children should be equally muddled with! As for the citizenship amendment, I'm going to have to think on that one. On one hand, perhaps it would reduce the struggles of deporting people who've had children while here illegally... but on the other hand, I've seen how non-color blind the Federal government has become. If you're Hispanic-brown, I fear you'll have a harder time getting citizenship status...

2. Ron Paul would deny women control of their bodies and reproductive rights.Ron Paul makes it very clear that one of his aims is to repeal Roe v. Wade. He has also co sponsored 4 separate bills to “To provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception.” This, of course, goes against current medical and scientific information as well as our existing laws and precedents. Please see these links: H.R.2597 and H.R.392

This right here, despite all else I'm about to write, is likely the death knell of my support for Mr. Paul. I recognize he's claimed to be libertarian, which believes in less government and actually following the Constitution. I don't see how a legal decision, handed down from the judicial branch of our government, is "the Constitution"; therefore, I don't see why he feels the need to try to repeal Roe v. Wade.

I am somewhat astonished at the amount of time, energy and verbiage being leveled at the American female in this election year. I'm used to Roe v. Wade being a "hot-button" topic, used as a sort of cheap litmus test for candidates, by people who don't want to have to think too hard.

But you saw how I said this point probably swung my vote clearly away from Mr. Paul. Is Roe v. Wade my litmus test? Or is it just the one point in this list I can't find a way to justify? Let's keep reading...

3. Ron Paul would be disastrous for the working class. He supports abolishing the Federal minimum wage, has twice introduced legislation to repeal OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Act and would deal devastating blows to Social Security including repealing the act that makes it mandatory for employees of nonprofits, to make “coverage completely optional for both present and future workers”, and would “freeze benefit levels”. He has also twice sponsored legislation seeking to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and the Copeland Act which among other things provide that contractors for the federal government must provide the prevailing wage and prohibits corporate “kick backs.” Here are the related legislative links: H.R.2030, H.R.4604, H.R.736, and H.R.2720

I suspect I'm going to trot out the same thing on a number of these points. If that's the case, I'll save you the extra reading and just say, "See Point #3". *smile*

As a lower-case-l libertarian, I believed in reducing the powers of the Federal government. Here's the theory: If we abolish taxes at the Federal level -- and all the programs NOT mandated by the Constitution -- there's more money in my pocket to (1) save for my own retirement and/or (2) give to local charitable causes. That's a big thing for me to say, today, because my husband's entire salary comes from NASA, which is funded by the Federal government -- and therefore through Federal Income Tax. There's also more money for me to choose (!) the private school (or no school) of my choice for my child(ren) -- or there's more tax money staying in my state for my State government to regulate schools.

Reality has set in with a couple thoughts. First, it's a really pretty idea -- but how do we get there? Any time someone wants to shut down all the programs the Federal government funds, the other guys trot out little children who wouldn't be able to go to school -- or they point to the free/reduced lunch program which feeds those same little kids. Or they trot out someone's grandma and tsk-tsk at us for even daring to suggest we shut down Social Security. (For the record, I do think we should begin a staggered shut-down of Social Security.)

But, many of these programs would need to be shut down over a number of years -- a program that would be longer-lived that most candidates' terms in office. So, what happens when Mr. Well-Meaning President tries to stagger the shutdown of Social Security but the ten or fifteen year plan must face his replacement? What happens when Congress fights the President and becomes (even more?) belligerent to his efforts to fix things? We get what we're seeing this election year: mudslinging and blaming and more divisiveness than I remember even when I hated that elephant-eared excuse for a President who proclaimed "Mission Accomplished" way too soon. No one wants to let the other party score the win. They'd rather sabotage the other guys in the hope they can get someone in office when the magic beans bear fruit and shit quits being shit. And who cares if we destroy the country in the process, right? It's the other party's fault.

But back to Mr. Paul. His old rhetoric (I'm going back to pre-9/11 era here) was to make government small. Give up your favorite government program in favor of less taxation, less "Uncle Sam" in your business. How do we get there from here, without disbanding a whole lot of programs which on the face of it make one look like a hateful, racist mother-fucker for even suggesting we don't need?

4. Ron Paul’s tax plan is unfair to lower earners and would greatly benefit those with the highest incomes. He has repeatedly submitted amendments to the tax code that would get rid of the estate and gift taxes, tax all earners at 10%, disallow income tax credits to individuals who are not corporations, repeal the elderly tax credit, child care credit, earned income credit, and other common credits for working class citizens. Please see this link for more information: H.R.05484 Summary

In my opinion, ALL tax plans which require me to fork over cash before I ever see it, to a federal government that only knows me at tax time, are evil, unfair and wrong. I don't think the rich should pay taxes, because I don't think the poor should pay them either. If the government can't collect a small amount from each State's own purse to "provide for the common Defense"[1], then the government needs to dial back what it's terming "common Defense" -- I certainly don't think policing other countries qualifies. Taxes are wrong, so there would no longer be tax breaks to be defended, if we remove the taxes. Again see Point #3, where I futilely ask, "How do we get from what we have to what we want?"

5. Ron Paul’s policies would cause irreparable damage to our already strained environment. Among other travesties he supports off shore drilling, building more oil refineries, mining on federal lands, no taxes on the production of fuel, and would stop conservation efforts that could be a “Federal obstacle” to building and maintaining refineries. He has also sought to amend the Clean Air Act, repeal the Soil and Water Conservation Act of 1977, and to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to “restrict the jurisdiction of the United States over the discharge of dredged or fill material to discharges into waters”. To see for yourself the possible extent of the damage to the environment that would happen under a Paul administration please follow these links: H.R.2504, H.R.7079, H.R.7245, H.R.2415, H.R.393, H.R.4639, H.R.5293, and H.R.6936

I believe in the Constitution. The Federal government should be constrained to only the powers delineated in the Constitution. No where does it say the Federal government can own land -- in fact, it does say, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. So, since the Constitution doesn't say the Federal government can own land, they shouldnt't. Therefore, no mining should happen on federal lands because such lands are not appropriately owned. Such land should be released to the States in which the land exists, to either open up (the gods know Arizona needs more land to be privately available, not kept out of reach by the governement) or save for their own local purposes.

As for off-shore drilling, more oil refineries.... I'm just flabbergasted. In our family, we drive a hybrid car to reduce our dependence on the volatile resource of gasoline (I so prefer the British "petrol", don't you?). When we purchased the car in early 2010, gas was going for around $2.65 a gallon. Now, it's cruising past $4 a gallon, heading quickly toward a summer price of possibly $5 a gallon. We went to the dealership a couple months ago, looking for a larger car but wanting to stick with the hybrid -- and Ford doesn't make an Explorer hybrid. I guess those larger families are just screwed if they want to be environmentally (or just fiscally) wise.

I keep hearing about how the oil's going to dry up sooner or later. Frankly, I'd rather sooner. After watching the BP Deepwater Horizons disaster off the coast of New Orleans, we can't be quit of this noxious stuff soon enough. (In the previous link, Days 14, 40, and 93 are painful images of the price being paid -- and to be paid -- for man's insatiable need for this noxious stuff.)

Every time I walk into my Home Depot, I see these huge posterboard signs extolling the virtues of solar power -- and what better state to extol away than in my lovely Arizona? So, why is the Federal government scrambling to make it easier for more oil refineries to be built anywhere near the fragile coastal waters of our nation's land? Why not make it easier for solar-panel producing companies to get started? Why not offer Federal tax credits for establishing a full solar (perhaps even require it to be grid-tied?) system? Why are we still talking about OIL, for fuck sake?

In a related thought, I just heard about the crap being shoveled in Pennsylvania related to fracking,[2], a process which requires a lot of chemicals it seems. Apparently, new legislation will gag physicians, " forbidding health care professionals from sharing information they learn about certain chemicals and procedures used in high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing" (quote from link).

So, back to Point #5, I'm having a hard time finding even a libertarian stance which would justify such actions on the part of Mr. Paul. It's not looking good...

6. A Ron Paul administration would continue to proliferate the negative image of the US among other nations. Ron Paul supports withdrawing the US from the UN, when that has not happened he has fought to at least have the US withdrawn from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. He has introduced legislation to keep the US from giving any funds to the UN. He also submitted that the US funds should not be used in any UN peacekeeping mission or any UN program at all. He has sponsored a bill calling for us to “terminate all participation by the United States in the United Nations, and to remove all privileges, exemptions, and immunities of the United Nations.”Ron Paul twice supported stopping the destruction of intercontinental ballistic missile silos in the United States. He also would continue with Bush’s plan of ignoring international laws by maintaining an insistence that the International Criminal Court does not apply to the US, despite President Clinton’s signature on the original treaty. The International Criminal Court is used for, among other things, prosecution of war crimes. Please see the following links: H.R.3891, H.AMDT.191, H.AMDT.190, H.R.3769, H.R.1665, H.CON.RES.23, and H.R.1154

In this, I'm afraid I'm not going to make friends. These United States of America (remember when it was "these", as in a collection of States, not "the" as in "Uncle Sam OWNS your ass"?) are not the police force of the world. We have NO business being in any other country with arms, paid for by our citizens as well as the blood of our men and women in uniform.

Have you heard of "Doctors without Borders"? From their home page, "Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization working in nearly 70 countries to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe." That's worthwhile: reducing the pain in the world, instead of creating orphans, widows and broken families with "collateral damage" from our bombs and guns. How about creating "collateral repair" by returning a breadwinner to his job and home after medical care? Or the grassroots campaign highlighted by Nathan Fillion for his 41st birthday, which helps bring clean water to villages in developing nations? If our Federal government has a "spending addiction", then at least spend on growing, not killing; on making, not destroying; on empowering, not subjugating?

I don't think we should be using our might to make right -- isn't that what we tell our children when they struggle with their classmates on the playground? Take that might and teach. Take that might and trade. Bring choices to a people and they will choose for themselves. And as any domestic abuse counselor could probably attest, a person who chooses for themselves is more likely to stick to that choice.

I've said since we invaded in the wake of 9/11: How would you react, if the Chinese landed in America with guns and tanks and propaganda of how evil our President is (and for this exercise, assume the President you least liked), claiming they were going to "free" us? I'll tell you how I'd react. Right or wrong, he's MY damn President. Get your skanky asses off our soil or we're going to shove your heads so far up your asses you'll look like a god-damned pretzel! So maybe THESE United States need to remember that any time we go charging in to "save" another country.

So, back to Point #6. I'm probably what you would call one of those nasty "isolationists". But really, I'm only isolationist when I see the disproportionate amount of money our country spends on its military. Maybe if we quit being the "badasses on the block", the other militaries of the world would step up their budgets and we wouldn't be bankrupt trying to defend them -- all the while ignoring our own military men and women and their families, once their service is done.

7. Ron Paul discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and would not provide equal rights and protections to glbt citizens. This is an issue that Paul sort of dances around. He has been praised for stating that the federal government should not regulate who a person marries. This has been construed by some to mean that he is somewhat open to the idea of same sex marriage, he is not. Paul was an original co sponsor of the Marriage Protection Act in the House in 2004. Among other things this discriminatory piece of legislation placed a prohibition on the recognition of a same sex marriage across state borders. He said in 2004 that if he was in the Texas legislature he would not allow judges to come up with “new definitions” of marriage. Paul is a very religious conservative and though he is careful with his words his record shows that he is not a supporter of same sex marriage. In 1980 he introduced a particularly bigoted bill entitled “A bill to strengthen the American family and promote the virtues of family life.” or H.R.7955 A direct quote from the legislation “Prohibits the expenditure of Federal funds to any organization which presents male or female homosexuality as an acceptable alternative life style or which suggest that it can be an acceptable life style.” shows that he is unequivocally opposed to lifestyles other than heterosexual.

Okay. Strike three. Once upon a time, treating a black person like they were a human being was considered anathema. They were property, like cows -- and how much do you think about your cows? So why would you want to think of your other property like human beings. For the most part (one place I part ways with my Southern heritage), we as a nation have moved past that idea. Now we all know a black man is a man.

Then, we moved on to people daring to fall in love across the black/white divide. Then Loving v. Virginia put a stop to that bullshit.

Now, here we are, claiming to be a great nation and yet... we've got people once again screaming about the fall of the family if we allow gays to marry. You know what? Your fears didn't come true when we allowed blacks to marry. They didn't come true when we allowed interracial marriage, either. So, I think you haters out there are just a bunch of Chicken Littles, always screaming about the next big doom. Can I give you a sneak peak, so you can get all your Bible pages highlighted (probably won't require too much re-tooling, since y'all just pulled out some of the same crap you used on blacks and mixed-race marriages)? Are you sitting down? Next up? Us poly families are going to demand some marriage respect. Oh, did you just piss yourself....

Why does the government care so damn much about something like marriage? The best I can figure? The government can't afford to piss off any group powerful enough to band together and kick them out of office. And boy, those Religious Right haters sure do make a lot of noise. So, let's consult their "Good Book" for some advice regarding all that noise:

Psalm 35:20 They do not speak peaceably, but devise false accusations against those who live quietly in the land.

I like this one even more:

1 James 19-20: My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

26: Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

I absolutely need to give a shout out to www.danoah.com for his original blog post, I'm Christian unless you're gay and a recently posted follow-up which moved me to tears, A Teen’s Brave Response to “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”. I find myself striving to reach out of my little hut of cynicism and begin being the change I want to see in the world. For that change, I must thank my beautiful wife, Jennifer, who has helped wash that ugly complacency from my eyes and made me want to fight the fight again. I love you, my sweet.

8. Ron Paul has an unnatural obsession with guns. One of Paul’s loudest gripes is that the second amendment of the constitution is being eroded. In fact, he believes that September 11 would not have happened if that wasn’t true. He advocates for there to be no restrictions on personal ownership of semi-automatic weaponry or large capacity ammunition feeding devices, would repeal the Gun-Free School Zones Act (because we all know our schools are just missing more guns), wants guns to be allowed in our National Parks, and repeal the Gun Control Act of 1968. Now, I’m pretty damn certain that when the Constitution was written our founding fathers never intended for people to be walking around the streets with AK47′s and “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.” (That just sounds scary.) Throughout the years our Constitution has been amended and is indeed a living document needing changes to stay relevant in our society. Paul has no problem changing the Constitution when it fits his needs, such as no longer allowing those born in the US to be citizens if their parents are not. On the gun issue though he is no holds barred. I know he’s from Texas but really, common sense tells us that the amendments he is seeking to repeal have their place. In fact, the gun control act was put into place after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy. Please view the following links: H.R.2424, H.R.1897, H.R.1096, H.R.407, H.R.1147, and H.R.3892.

Okay, here's a(nother) point where I might be labeled a crazy person. Do you know why our Founding Fathers (yes, they are heroes to me for fighting and personally gaining so little, so I do capitalize that!) felt strongly enough about the right to bear arms to put it in the Constitution as one of the first ten Amendments?

In my own words (and then I'll link to some better-written words), how will you defend yourself, when your government becomes the tyrant? So, if the government is armed with AK47s, how can we fight back if all we are "allowed" to have are revolvers and maybe a 9mm, with a legally-limited clip size? Sure, "large capacity ammunition feeding devices" sound scary -- but I think it sounds far scarier to know my government can turn that on me and I might not be able to fight back with anything more than a revolver (perhaps less, if the gun-control lobbyists win). No, I'm not chomping at the bit to run out and stock up on AK47s. But if I feel the need to defend my home and family from my government, waiting until then to purchase said weapons will be too late (not to mention being untrained in their firing and care).

Now, some of those links I promised. I really liked The Lessons Of History - The Founding Fathers On Right To Bear Arms because it referred to real-world events where other purportedly sane regimes claimed the citizens no longer needed arms, only to then become the very tyrant those arms would have defended them against. Here's the Wikipedia entry on the Second Amendment, which is at times long and tedious, so permit me to direct you to Experience in America prior to the U.S. Constitution in that same article. And lastly, because of the Firearms Refresher Course (which I will quote below), 2nd Amendment: How the Founding Fathers Provided Against Tyranny.

  • 1. “Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.” ~Thomas Jefferson
  • 2. Those who trade liberty for security have neither. ~John Adams
  • 3. Free men do not ask permission to bear arms.
  • 4. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
  • 5. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.
  • 6. Gun control is not about guns; it’s about control.
  • 7. You only have the rights you are willing to fight for.
  • 8. Know guns, know peace, know safety. No guns, no peace, no safety.
  • 9. You don’t shoot to kill; you shoot to stay alive.
  • 10. Assault is a behavior, not a device.
  • 11. 64,999,987 firearms owners killed no one yesterday.
  • 12. The United States Constitution (c) 1791. All Rights Reserved.
  • 13. The Second Amendment is in place in case the politicians ignore the others.
  • 14. What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do you NOT understand?
  • 15. Guns have only two enemies; rust and politicians.
  • 16. When you remove the people’s right to bear arms, you create slaves.
  • 17. The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control.

I can't decide which one is my favorite. What about you?

9. Ron Paul would butcher our already sad educational system. The fact is that Ron Paul wants to privatize everything and that includes education. Where we run into problems is that it has been shown (think our current health care system) that this doesn’t work so well in practice. Ron Paul has introduced legislation that would keep the Federal Government “from planning, developing, implementing, or administering any national teacher test or method of certification and from withholding funds from States or local educational agencies that fail to adopt a specific method of teacher certification.” In a separate piece of legislation he seeks to “prohibit the payment of Federal Education assistance in States which require the licensing or certification of private schools or private school teachers.” So basically the federal government can’t regulate teaching credentials and if states opt to require them for private schools they get no aid. That sounds like a marvelous idea teachers with no certification teaching in private schools that are allowed to discriminate on the basis of race. He is certainly moving forward with these proposals!Remember his “bill to strengthen the American family and promote the virtues of family life.” or H.R.7955? Guess what? He basically advocates for segregation in schools once again. It “Forbids any court of the United States from requiring the attendance at a particular school of any student because of race, color, creed, or sex.” Without thinking about this statement it doesn’t sound bad at all. But remember, when desegregating schools that this is done by having children go to different schools, often after a court decision as in Brown Vs. Board of Education. If this were a bill that passed, schools would no longer be compelled to comply and the schools would go back to segregation based on their locations. Ron Paul is really starting to look like a pretty bigoted guy don’t you think?

Sadly, I'm opposed to the Federal Department of Education. I know. You can hate me for it. But we are paying way too much money for deteriorating schools (in the poorer regions), ham-stringing our teachers with regulations which come from legislators (sounds a little like the current wave of legislation about female reproductive medicine!), and degrading the level of education to the point that today's high school senior isn't as well-educated as the eighth-grade graduate our great-grandparents were. I used to feel so sorry for the grand- and great-grand parents who "only completed eighth grade". Then I learned in their time, that was all the grades there were!

Add to that the article I read many years past about Nancy Drew books being dumbed down in the newest reprints. I was aghast. Then I read further and learned the books I read had already been dumbed down once before. No wonder I found them simple to read!

If our education system is so great, why are we falling behind in science and research? Have you seen how bad it is? Take a look at America's Science Decline with Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Sadly, I'm unable to embed the video directly. Please go watch. I'll wait.) Are you back? Cool. Let's continue...

Not everyone understands why it's important for Americans to compete in the global research community. Maybe you don't think it is important. Permit me to tell a quick side story:

In 1986-1987, I spent a year in Rancagua, Chile as a Rotary International Exchange Student. While I was there, I was asked a lot of questions by teenagers who were very curious about this "right to vote" concept -- Pinochet was in power and it was still a dictatorship at the time. I had grown up knowing I'd get to vote when I turned 18, so I really didn't know much 'cause it wasn't important to me at 16/17 years of age.

But the question that chills me still, to this day, was when they asked, "What's it like living in a country that could push The Button?" And suddenly, perspective shifted. All my life it had been "Us vs. the Russians". But for all these kids lives, it have been "Superpower A vs. Superpower B" -- and nothing they did could affect whether someone who would think of them was in office in my country or in the USSR.

My point in telling that story is this: if we don't push for research, for a solid education system, then our children and our grandchildren will live in a world where they watch other countries take the steps they want to take. Our children and grandchildren won't be able to say, "I want to be an astronaut" because America won't have them. They won't be able to choose from all the professions in the world but instead from the few jobs left to the uneducated masses.

I disagree with the idea that we currently have a "private" health care system. It's a mish-mash of public and private, giving us none of the strengths of either and all the weaknesses of both. I currently am covered through my husband's work. I don't honestly know as of this writing what that policy costs. I do know that my co-pay is usually around $15 ($30 for specialists). I know what I pay for my medications, but sometimes I forget to stop and see what my insurance covered. When I try to find some costs out, the provider needs to know my policy, to see what the agreed upon rates are. In theory, it's good that my insurance company "negotiated a rate". Ready for another story?

In 2005, when we had our car accident, I received a letter from the hospital which treated me. They had placed a lien on any money awarded to me/us in any settlement or court proceeding. Here's the kicker: I paid my bill. I owed them nothing. Where did they get off trying to grab money from any settlement I might get? It turned out that the occupants of the other car were illegal aliens in a car which wasn't bearing a plate registered to it, with no insurance. Yeah, we saw no money from them. I don't even know if they lived. Is this really "

Why would the hospital need to put a lien on my (supposed) settlement money? Was it because they weren't so happy with their "negotiated rate"? Was it to recoup what the other car's occupants cost they (if I recall correctly, they were flown to the same hospital as me)?

As for claiming "it doesn't work so well in practice", tell that to my Chilean friends, where most schools were private in 1986-87 and only a few for the very destitute were public. My host parents chose a school for their children (and therefore me as well) which they were satisfied with the standards. My classmates, in tenth and eleventh grade, were studying physics (something only "tracked" seniors could get in my American school system), calculus (again, tracked seniors only), English (required, not optional), as well as reading and writing, physical education and more.

America's school system has become (for most families and children) a glorified babysitter, because the idea that one parent can work to pay for a family with 2.5 children in a home they own, with a car, is virtually gone. We've actually reached a point where parents and children are combining with grandparents and perhaps aunts and uncles into one larger home, to share expenses and try to make sure there's enough supervision for the children, while the wage-earners are away from home.

We've made "housewife" and "mother" almost dirty words, though I'm pleased to see a rise in the number of women expressing their happiness and satisfaction in those roles. My blood boiled the other day when I saw the title of a new book coming out this month, "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women" by Elisabeth Badinter. How does my choice to be a natural mother who breast-feeds and uses cotton diapers and eschews drugs during labor/delivery undermine your status? How does it impede your efforts to climb through the glass ceiling or whatever this book is claiming satisfied modern mothers are preventing?

If education is important, then we need to remember that education starts at home. It begins with encouraging thinking, not shutting it down with doctrine. It continues with library trips and books on your own home shelves. Education is not "busywork". It's not $50-$100 (and more!) textbooks which need to be re-edited every year -- come on! Math isn't changing that much in the K-12 levels! History, yes. So release history textbooks in "volumes" -- hand out the one for years, oh let's say 1600-1900. Teach them. Then, hand them back in and hand out "1900-1950" and so on. The closer we get to "our time", the shorter the time frame a book might hold in order to cover it in more detail. You get the idea. Quit wasting money on printing problems 1-50, only to have the teachers assign, "1-50, odd".

Once again, see #3 for that question on how to get from publicly-funded education which is failing to privatized education we choose based on our priorities for our children. Don't hamstring my child's education because you don't believe in the scientific method or because you feel your G/god's mythology needs to be taught as though it were science. I want my kid to compete in the global research community. If you don't care about your kid serving my kid his food, then stay out of my kid's education!

10. Ron Paul is opposed to the separation of church and state. This reason is probably behind every other thing that I disagree with in regards to Paul’s positions. Ron Paul is among those who believes that there is a war on religion, he stated “Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view.” (( Koyaanisqatsi Blog: Wrong Paul Why I Do Not Want Ron Paul to be My President )) Though he talks a good talk, at times, Ron Paul can’t get away from his far right, conservative views. He would support “alternative views” to evolution taught in public schools (i.e. Intelligent Design.) We’ve already taken a look at his “bill to strengthen the American family and promote the virtues of family life.” or H.R.7955Besides hating the gays he takes a very religious stance on many other things. He is attempting to force his beliefs on the rest of America, exactly what he would do as president.

And, Strike...whoops. We passed three, he was already out before this. And I quote from the Treaty of Tripoli:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Let me repeat one specific part: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..." Is there any ambiguity there? Are you confused in any way by the words individually, or together as a whole? Good.

And just in case you are unfamiliar with the actual text of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Let me put this in really simple terms: laws written today favoring the religion of your choice can be reinterpreted to favor the religion of my choice. When one religion is favored in a country, attacks on the other religions begin. Do you want to risk your religion being the one attacked, to secure your religion as "the dominant one"?

Here's another question for you. What do you hope to gain by forcing YOUR religion on me? On the helpless, innocent children in my local school system? If you find it abhorrent that your child might be subjected to my paganism (I find that's usually extreme enough to make religious people gasp), then perhaps you can imagine how abhorrent I find it that my child might be exposed to your God's jealousy and violence. In my home, I've given equal shelf space to the Holy Bible of Christians, the Book of Mormon and books which explain them. I've not yet had the fortune to understand enough about Judaism to put the proper book on my shelf to represent it. Can you see how quickly, I will run out of shelf space to represent them all? That's what would happen to our children's time in school (that already-failing institution of education I spoke of earlier), in order to give fair time and space to each and every religion. Better to be safe to follow your G/god in your home and in your place of worship. And in any place you feel necessary to.

Just don't demand the government force me to my knees in worship of your G/god. Would you want to bend your knees in worship of mine? Don't try to equate your holy book(s) to science. It's an entirely different topic, because the worship of a G/god requires faith -- believing without facts. Science demands facts. Acquiring facts requires an open mind capable of critical thinking. Usually, I've found that "open mind" and "religion" don't always go hand-in-hand. (Mom, I'm definitely NOT talking about you! Love you!)

Okay. So, in the list of 10 reasons not to vote for Ron Paul, what's my total agree/disagree with the list?

1. Hmm. Let's call this one "abstain", since I'm not in full agreement nor disagreement.

2. Against

3. I can see what he might have been aiming for, but a less radical President currently in office is being stonewalled left and right... America is still too fat, dumb and happy with their bread-and-circuses to be truly ready load up with bubblegum and kick some ass. The cockroaches win on this one.

4. Ditto 3

5. Against

6. For

7. Against

8. For

9. Ditto 3

10. Against

Total: 1 Abstain, 4 (clearly) Against, 2 (clearly) For, 3 "All hail the bread-and-circuses"

Maybe not as clear-cut as some people might write it, but in the end, I do think my vote for Ron Paul just went up in flames.

As usual, I welcome reasoned conversation and discourse. I believe Captcha is working again, so I'm no longer moderating comments. If there's actually enough people reading here any more to raise a ruckus, I reserve the right to make you look like an idiot if your comments aren't respectful. You can disagree with me all you want. But I expect you to treat me the way you want to be treated.

That said.... Comments are now open. :D

Protesting Censorship

I don't post much these days, but when I do, I'd like to know people can see what I post. When I post, I'd like to be able to refer to other sites and link them here.

I do not believe that Hollywood and all the entertainment companies combined are in so much (fiscal) danger that it justifies clamping down on regular folks like you and me in order to protect their wallets.

So, in about 45 minutes, my site is (hopefully) going "on strike" to help bring awareness about SOPA and PIPA to more people. Here's a quick video talking about PIPA:

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Join me. Write your Congress-person and tell them to stop these bills in their tracks!

NaNoWriMo 2011 is over!

I made it. I managed to crank out 50034 words between November 1 and November 30th this year. And now I can go do the other eleventy million things I've been putting off all month with the chant, "December 1! December 1!"

Beginning with Christmas shopping.... I'll be back. Soon, I hope.

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