Sunday, July 30, 2006

Join Us

Thanks for the Memory to Ken S of It Comes in Pints?

Really, Ken, thank you. I'm glad you made me aware of this wonderful project. The goal is to find 2,996 bloggers to each pay tribute to one of the victims of 9/11. If you have a blog, I encourage you to sign up. You will be randomly assigned one of the remaining unassigned victims. It is then up to you to pay tribute to them in an appropriate manner.

If you read me, and you have a blog, I implore you to get on board -- even if you hate 99% of what I have to say. This isn't about politics, it isn't about making a statement one way or another about what has happened since that terrible day, it's about remembering wht happened ON September 11, 2001, and it's about remembering those who are no longer here because of it.

My tribute will be a post, the next one I post, which will be post-dated to 9/11/2006, so that it remains atop my blog until the fifth anniversary of the attack.

Please, bloggers, sign up, make this wonderful tribute a success.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


What he said....

Musical Geography Question for the Day

Where were you going when you met with Captain Farrell?

Al-Robin, Brave Sir Al-Robin

Thanks for the Memory to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

Another valiant blow was struck against the Zionist occupation of Cascadia:

Authorities said a man walked into the Jewish agency on Friday and opened fire, killing one woman and injuring at least five others in what they call a hate crime. Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, was booked into the King County Jail for investigation of homicide and attempted homicide, police said.
The gunman, who employees said claimed to be a Muslim angry at Israel, forced his way through the center's security door after an employee had punched in her security code, said Marla Meislin-Dietrich, a co-worker who was not at the building at the time.

Staff members said they overheard him saying "'I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel,' before opening fire on everyone," Meislin-Dietrich said. "He was randomly shooting at everyone."

Hog on Ice and Andrea at A Crafty Madness both make a point with which I agree -- this is just one more example of the cowardice inherent and explicit in Islamic terrorism (and all true terrorism, for that matter) -- This pile of pig dung was "Angry at Israel", so what does he do? Does he move to the Middle East, take up arms, and face the Israeli Army in combat? No -- he storms into a Jewish center in Freaking SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA, about as geographically AND climatically distant from Israel as possible, and bravely SHOOTS A BUNCH OF UNARMED WOMEN, including one EXPECTANT MOTHER. Wow, he's a regular Saladin, that one.

But I also feel that the Western Left deserves a rebuke for this incident. A lot is being said about the civilian deaths caused by the Israeli attacks in Lebanon, but the people who are most harshly critical of Israel about this seem unwilling to address the fact that Hezbollah intentionally places their military assets dead smack in the middle of civilian locations, specifically so that it is impossible to attack them without putting civilians at risk. This is in direct contrast to most Western countries, who try to keep their military facilities as remote as possible, or at least establish buffers around them, to reduce the risk of civilian deaths.

So we have one side that tries to protect its own civilians, and takes great pains to avoid causing civilian casualties on the other side, even to the point (in the case of the US especially, but most western powers) of developing smart munitions, and engaging in self-flagellation when the inevitable happens, and we have another side that hides behind women and children, exploits their suffering for its own ends, and routinely -- no, not just routinely, but as a matter of practice -- targets its enemy's civilian population. And guess which side the left vociferously excoriates, and guess which side the left routinely marches in support of?

The Jewish Federation shooting should be hung like an albatross around the necks of all those Nuts who march in suppport of Hamas and Hezbollah. Your vocal support of extremist muslim groups, and the incipient antisemitism that is part of that support (whether as a result or a cause of that support is irrelevant) serves to rncourage this kind of violent behavior.

Can I Get a "Hell Yeah!"?

I stumbled across this quiz today:

Take the quiz:
What kind of muscle car are you?

1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
You are a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Z28. You love your car....your friends love your car and thats whats most important to you! Your car really hauls ass! You feel bad that they aren't making Camaros anymore....but don't worry...cuz you know they'll be back!

Quizzes by -- the World's Biggest Yearbook!

Oh, yeah! As I've mentioned before (I think), my absolute FAVORITE muscle cars are the Camaros from 66 through 69. Regardless of who takes top honors with regards to speed, handling, or acceleration, the Camaros are good, all-around muscle cars, and they look SWEEEEEEET! So when I took the quiz, I was quite pleased with this outcome.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Round and round,
Round and round
and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round and round....

Thursday, July 27, 2006

You Learn Something New Every Day

I was just watching a program on OPB called Oregon Field Guide, and they did a feature on a condor breeding center in Southern Oregon. I learned from it that the original range of the California condor included Oregon west of the Cascades, all the way up to the Columbia River. Very cool.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Naptime News (aka Mr. MommyBlogging)

In the past month I've gained a lot of respect for other stay at home parents, and have begun to see the challenges. I'm blessed in that I had some advanced preparation -- for almost a year now I've been splitting shifts with my wife, taking care of The Lad while she was at work, so I didn't just step off into the deep end (more like the Marianas Trench!). But even though I was putting in almost as many hours alone with him then as I am now, there's a huge difference between that sort of arrangement and taking on the role of SAHD.

For one thing, the loss of adult socialization cannot be overstated. Oh, man, does it get lonely. The poor grocery clerks get an earful. I plan to do some research on playgroups in this area. Finding fellow parents with whom to socialize has been more challenging that I first expected -- there is a sort of reverse gender bias, and while people smile approvingly of my choice to be a SAHD, a man alone at a park with a toddler is not as quickly welcomed by the rest of the parents there as a mom would be.

Then there's the twin demands of childcare duties and housekeeping. Some chores are of a nature that if they're done while he's awake, he will get in the way, or cannot safely be done with him around. Examples would be laundry (try keeping a pile of folded clothes folded with an active toddler around) or cleaning toilets. These are best done during naptimes. Other chores are noisy, and can only be done when he's awake. Problems especially occur when a chore arises that fits in both categories -- noisy AND unfeasible in his presence.

Naptimes themselves are a challenge, since they are only semi-structured. I know roughly what time each day he'll need one, but am never sure how long it will last.

This transition has been a challenge, and I'm sure it will continue to be so. One issue I'm starting to see is an attitude creeping in to my wife's thinking that seems to expect me to be responsible for all domestic duties, even when she's home from work. It's an attitude for which our society is critical of men in traditional households, but I think it's just human nature. My wife has acknowledged the shortcoming and is trying to avoid it, but it still pops up from time to time.

Now if you'll excuse me, someone's up.

I'm Not a Bartender, But I Play One at Home

So last night TFR wanted me to fix her a cosmopolitan, but we were out of cranberry juice. I substituted some cranberry-blueberry blend, and it turned out pretty good. TFR wanted to come up with a special name for it, but nothing came to mind. We googled it, and there are blueberry cosmos already, using Stoli blueberry. I'm thinking that for real effect, I might try it with blue curacao instead of triple sec. Any name ideas? A blosmopolitan? a Blogosphere?

We have a winner. I came up with it myself, but it was inspired by reader HMIL's suggestion of Bluegosphere, ehich reminded me of the fact that our little sphere is also called the Blue Planet. Combine the idea of a planet with Metropolis (which is similar to cosmopolitan), and taking into consideration that there is already a Metroplolitan, and I have decided to call this drink a Daily Planet.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'll Think to Drat

I know, I took a lot of grief recently for admitting to drinking Rum & Cokes and Cuba Libres. So sue me, it's always been one of my favorites. As a kid, I used to add imitation rum flavoring to my cokes. It's a classic.

Recently I tried and discovered I liked the new Coke Blak -- it's not as sweet as regular coke, and I like the subtle coffee flavor to it. And yes, I tried it with rum, finding that dark rum worked the best.

But recently I tried it with another alcohol, and discovered I liked it even better. I've even come up with a name, but I still haven't decided on a garnish:

Black Irish

1 1/2 oz. Irish Whiskey
8 oz. Coke Black
3-5 ice cubes

Place ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Add Irish Whiskey and Coke Black, garnish with _____(?).

Senses Tingling....

Thanks for the Memory to The Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy:

Your results:
You are Spider-Man
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Cool. Spidey's always been my favorite, and I didn't even try to work the quiz.

Musical Geography Question for the Day

If you made a good run, but you ran too slow, where did they overtake you?

Bonus Question:
From where is the sherriff?

Quote of the Day

Well, I once wanted to have bumper stickers made that read "Friends Don't
Let Friends Be Smug Arrogant Assholes Who Take Things So Fucking Seriously They Can't Even Take The Most Lighthearted Jokes Without Calling For A UN Committee To Open An Inquiry Before Writing Angry Letters To The Editors of Metropolitan Newspapers Proclaiming Their Disgust With The State Of Affairs That Actually Allows Human Beings Who Don't Share Their Political Opinions To Continue To Live, Let Alone Vote."

I was told there were issues with size and readability.

- Emily at It Comes In Pints?

Naptime News (aka Mr. MommyBlogging)

Three weeks since the layoff. I am amazed at how badly I missed having the internet, especially since it was not the only form of adult interaction I lost, all in one fell swoop.

The other, of course, was socialization with coworkers. I don't miss dealing with my customers. In fact, I'd say that one of the most noticeable changes from working tech support to being a SAHD has been the increase in the maturity level of my clientelle. And when he DOES lower himself to my previous customers' level, The Lad has an excuse -- he's only 18 months old.

It frightens me to think he's only that old when I observe some of the signs of advanced intelligence he's already displaying, including the occasional use of multi-word phrases (ok, 2 words), including some he put together himself, including "Uh Oh Down" when he fell the other day. TFR and I are in for a busy 18+ years. I'd consider it an argument for letting him be an only child, but if we have another one day, we can always use them to keep each other distracted (with Steel Cage Grudge Matches, if all else fails).

I have been a bit frustrated by my inability to get as much housework done as I had hoped. Certain chores can only be done while he's napping, because they entail going out into the garage (which isn't yet safe for him), or because they're things he interferes with, like folding laundry. I've learned to multi-task and do dishes while feeding him (hey, as long as I'm in the kitchen...), and pucking up is easy with him around -- because he likes to help, and actually does so with a minimum of getting in the way.

He's a water baby, and a true Oregonian. He loves baths -- we can't use the word around him or he demands one, and sometimes just the sight of the tub through an open door will set him off. We got him a kiddie pool, and he loves that, and the other day, when we had a gentle, warm summer rainstorm (as happens here in Oregon), he pitched a fit until I took him out in the yard to be rained on.

Life is starting to develop a rhythm, and I'm starting to get the hang of things, but I'm no Martin Stewart -- yet.

And that's a good thing.

A lesson from Oregano

'Tis a fine line indeed,
'Tween an herb... and a weed.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Well, I'm back. I know I promised I would be yesterday, but UPS was late delivering my DSL modem, and Qwest was late activating the account. But, better late than never.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cue Theme Music from The Terminator

I'm posting from a public computer to let everyone know that thanks to the generous donation of a computer by Professor Dave (many thanks, David), I should be online from home and blogging on a semi-regular basis by this Thursday, and I have a lot to say....

I'll be back.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Memento Virtus (Remember, Virtue)

The esteemed potentate and royal sovereign of this corner of the Blogisphere, Brian C. Bilderback, is currently unable to post on his blog. Hopefully, that will change within the next two weeks. Until then, the venerable Monarch has duly appointed me as his Chancellor. He has requested that my first official act be to re-post something that I had written for him about two years ago regarding my thoughts on key political virtues of our (or any) democracy. Other than allowing me to post it, Brian is not to be held responsible for the following. Sincerely, Prof. Reed.


As you called for on your blog several weeks ago, there is a need for “righteousness” in American government. It is, in fact, a virtue toward which individuals and institutions are morally obligated to strive. Despite the claims in recent years by some in the political arena, the pursuit of justice has always been (to varying degrees) a part of the American experiment. This is evident in the three great documents of the American form of government – the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. These documents wit-ness to certain principles, ideals and virtues that, above all others, the state must recognize and strive to secure:
• All citizens will have liberty
• All citizens will have equality
• All citizens will be justly governed – justice

Whereas liberty and equality are oriented toward the individual, justice (as the highest of the three) is always geared toward the common good [*]. Because “good” is a moral term, the common good should be understood as a political science about what is best and right for the whole. This is how and why justice will “run into” or at times “run over” liberty and equality. Of course, the devil is in the details, and our task as citizens of a representative republic is twofold: 1) to seek the proper definition of the common good and then 2) to create an atmosphere in order for people to achieve it. I am, of course, assuming that the common good exists as an objective standard by which our form of government should be measured.
[*] I recognize that these terms are not oriented wholly to the individual. They are corporate terms that possess specific personal and/or individual application.

This naturally leads to a discussion of rights (i.e., natural rights recognized, though not created nor established, by our democracy). Tocqueville wrote that it is by reference to natural rights that “men have always defined the nature of license and tyranny.” No nation can be called great without having respect for natural rights. It seems to me that a persuasive argument could be made maintaining that without this there can be no real civil society at all (unless one considers tyrannical societies to be “civil”).

Even a rudimentary survey of the history of democracy in America will show that liberty and equality have always quarreled with each other. And they will do so in any democracy. This is what Alexander Hamilton and James Madison feared the most when they considered the political future of America. In fact, this is the explanation for John Adams’ agonizing anticipation of the eventual failure of the American experiment, writing (in a private letter after his presidency) that “all democracies eventually self-destruct.”

As Mortimer J. Adler wrote in The Time of Our Lives (1970) the conflict in our society between liberty and equality occurs only when neither is limited by justice. The scope of potential application of this principle is extraordinary – from affirmative action to abortion. Only justice has the natural ability to resolve the inevitable tension and conflict between liberty and equality. Justice must be the controlling principle among these three since it alone has the ability to determine the scope of the other two without sacrificing either. Left unchecked, liberty will run roughshod over equality and vice-versa. Hence, when properly conceived in coordination with the common good and natural rights, justice must be recognized as the ultimate discriminating virtue in government.


Below are some detailed definitions of several key terms I have outlined above.

Natural Rights
There are several ways to define natural rights. I argue that natural rights should be identified by our natural needs. by implication, human beings possess no natural right that does not correspond to a natural need. Justice and natural rights are inherently linked together because our ability to determine right and wrong in both private and social contexts is based on what is really and objectively good.

A just government must recognize and secure the natural rights of men and women in order that they may be able to construct good lives. This is what the Declaration of Independence is speaking of when it mentions our natural right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” No government has the power to grant a good life. The good life entails the meeting of our natural needs through the possession of real goods, and the possession of those goods or wants that we have that do not interfere with our natural needs or those of others.

All of this is possible, of course, because all human beings possess the same essential nature. If this were not so, society would be impossible. This last point has been famously rejected by many political, biological, sociological and, sadly, even religious thinkers of the past century. Thankfully, not all have fallen into this serious philosophical error.

To understand liberty properly (which is synonymous with freedom) we need to distinguish between four kinds of liberty. Circumstantial liberty is the ability and right of self-realization. Moral liberty is the freedom to perfect oneself (that is, perfection by means of virtuous character). Natural liberty is the ability and right we possess for self-determination. The final kind, political liberty, can be considered as a type or aspect of circumstantial freedom – that is, a person possesses political liberty or freedom only when they are living in economic, social, and political conditions that foster it. The essence or nature of this type of liberty is evidenced when an individual or society gives consent to be governed and has a voice in that government.

Like liberty, there are several types of equality. Political equality is based on circumstances, but is entitled to all human beings by virtue of their humanity (i.e., their common human nature). These conditions should be experienced by everyone. Specifically, these political conditions are normally identified by the following terms: status, treatment and opportunity.

The issue of slavery is a good, if not obvious, example to explore these conditions in more detail. In terms of status, slavery is wrong because no person is more or less human than another. From this it follows that every member of society deserves the same general treatment since no one naturally deserves more dignity than anyone else. As for opportunity, every human being naturally deserves the same opportunity afforded to others for the same reason – their shared human nature. If and when these conditions are not distributed equally, it is the duty of a just state to override liberty and do what is necessary to correct the situation (e.g., Brown v. Board of Education). Every person is by nature equal to all other persons and is, therefore, naturally entitled to an equality of political, social and economic conditions. America's greatest President and statesman, the honorable Abraham Lincoln, recognized this as one of the core principles of democracy, even though it was not evident in American society at the time. This is why he called the ideals in the Declaration of Independence as a promise to the future rather than a statement of current fact.

Aristotle (4th century B.C.) distinguished between two types of justice – universal and particular. Particular justice deals with such things as fairness in exchange, the distribution of goods, and taking corrective steps to ensure equality (like in the example given in the immediately preceding paragraph). It is clear to me that John Rawls, the late Harvard professor, was mistaken when he argued that justice should be limited to the idea of fairness in how we deal with others. When it comes to universal justice Aristotle asked the question, "what is lawful?" By this he meant to ask, what is right and good? This is why justice is recognized as one of the four cardinal virtues (along with courage, temperance and prudence). This idea can be traced back to Plato who had the insight to observe that justice involved virtuous acts toward others. It is universal justice of which we speak when discussing political justice.

Aristotle also recognized that, of all the species of animals that exist on our planet, only humanity is a political animal. When seeking to understand the proper relation of justice to the state we must ask whether the principle of justice is prior to the political state (including its constitution, laws, etc.) or if justice is relative to the political state. If it is relative then we are forced to into two positions. First, we must admit that justice is completely dependent on the power of the state, and second, that justice is the result of the state’s laws rather than the basis for them. This is tantamount to saying that justice is merely political. If we say, however, that justice is antecedent to the political state, then political justice is determined by natural justice. Understood this way, justice is natural and rational rather than conventional or man-made. If it were not, then justice would change with the coming and going of different political regimes. Therefore, because justice is natural it is universally binding on all people in all places and at all times. Any democracy in which the majority rules unchecked is ruling according to power not law (i.e., justice). This is a rule of might, not right; a rule of will, not reason. The American founding fathers made the wise decision not to allow a simple majority to determine most political decisions. This was, of course, based on the assumption that those elected to office would be virtuous enough to make their decisions on moral criteria and not merely political ones.

It was this definition of justice that led Lincoln to conclude that the obligations of a just government were to do for its people what they, individually, cannot do for themselves. The preamble of the U. S. Constitution summarizes these obligations well – “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”