Friday, December 31, 2004

THE 2005 List 

A look-back at 2004

Most Hypocritical Mother Fucker
Bill O'Reilly - Mr. "Morals For America" shown for the pompous ass he really is.

Most Annoying
Ann Coulter - I simply cannot read or listen to anything she says. Shrill.

Honorable Mention: Sean Hannity

Biggest Mistake By The Democrats
Michael Moore - why anyone with half of a brain believes anything coming out of this ass's mouth is beyond me.

Honorable Mention:
Kerry not going "postal" when defending his war record. Maybe the Swiftboaters were right....

Biggest Winner
BushCo - they were a well oiled machine that knew exactly what they were doing.

Biggest "Huh?"
Paris Hilton - what's the deal - to prove how big of a slut a rich girl can become?

Favorite Blog
Velociworld - everything he writes about - even the most mundane - is done in an entertaining manner

Honorable Mention:
Insignificant Thoughts and Lobowalk

Biggest Sports Moment
Red Sox being down 3 games to none against the Yankees, then coming back to win the ALCS.

Honorable Mention:
Lance Armstrong winning the Tour - for the 6th straight time. Wadda stud.

Honorable Mention:
Red Sox World Series - glad I was alive to see it

Oh, and no, I'm not a Sox fan. In fact, I'm an A's fan, but those two series were just incredible.

Biggest Personal Accomplishment
Promotion to Executive Vice President - no sleep, long hours, bustin' ass really does work!

Biggest Accomplishment of Someone I've Never Met
Vinny at Insignificant Thoughts - dropped 75 pounds this year (with more to come). He's saved his own life.

Most Pitiful Blogger
Steve at Hog On Ice - he has such wonderful wit and style that is wasted on a thoroughly myopic view on life. Is he really uncertain as to why he can't get a woman?

Most Difficult Personal Decision
Putting my youngest son on medication for ADD/ADHD - we'd tried counseling, rewards/denial, tutoring - everything since the 6th grade. During last summer, before the start of his sophomore year in high school, we finally tried a low dose of a medication, and it has done wonders. His personality - contrary to our fears - has not been muted, but is now simply expressed when it is appropriate (most of the time!). Grades, performance, self-confidence and general outlook on life, are way up. He's actually tutoring/mentoring some of his buddies now. Thank you God.

Biggest Ongoing Mistake
America's immigration/border control policy - aside from the security aspects, this will destroy us economically if not address quickly.

Honorable Mention:
America's membership in the UN - why we continue to sink money into this corrupt, anti-American, anti-Democracy organization is beyond me.

Biggest Surprise
The divide in America over same-sex marriage - I am unable to understand how anyone is able to justify writing laws - or amendments to the Constitution - specifically to discriminate against a segment of our society. Whether they choose to be homosexual or are born that way, we have no right to limit their ability to marry whomever they wish, and be granted the same rights and responsibilities as every other married American.

Biggest Regret
Again, I didn't win the California State Lottery.

Biggest Hope For 2005
Note: Numbers 3 and 4 above have exactly the same statistical likelihood of occurring. I hope the first two items fare better.

Have a great 2005, folks.



I was over at Babalu Blog and Val was discussing the Cuban tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Years eve. It made me think of some of my family's traditions.

My wife has a Hispanic heritage - Spanish and Mexican (plus a healthy dose of Irish) to be precise. She, too, has the custom of eating 12 grapes at midnight. Unlike the Cuban tradition of the 12 grapes representing good luck for the following 12 months, the Spanish tradition represents the 12 chimes the clock makes at midnight - also for good luck.

We have developed a family tradition ourselves. Each New Years eve for the past 5 or 6 years, we have played, "Rich People". This consists mostly of buying a number of luxury foods, and eating them with champagne.

This year's list includes, caviar, cold-cured salmon, triple-cream brie cheese, goat's milk cheese, goose liver pate, Italian salami, Belgian chocolates, British crackers and French champagne.

In total, this runs around $100, and is well worth the minor cost for all of the memories we've had.

Memories, indeed.

I "plan" on getting drunk 3 times each year - at our annual Superbowl party, at our annual Oktoberfest party, and on New Years. One of the New Years traditions is that dad (me) has a couple of Sapphire martinis. OK, 3 or 4. Shortly thereafter, we play trivia games - Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy, Battle Of The Sexes (great game!) etc. The memories (for my wife and kids, at least!) comes from watching my ability to answer questions decline in direct inverse relationship to my ascending Blood Alcohol Level!

My boys are now 17 and 15, so they probably won't be around for many more New Years memories. My oldest, in fact, is going to a party tonight, but will try his best to be home by midnight so he can celebrate with us. Yeah, unless there are girls at the party....

Time for their own memories.

PS: New Years is one of the major "amateur" nights - people drink too much - usually underaged or young adults - drive their cars, and they or others get killed. Be safe out there. Really, don't drink and drive.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tyranny, American Style! 

A Sane Voice In Government

After the presidential election, I had mentioned on a number of blogs that my wife and I have been considering - for the past two years - of leaving the United States when we are both retired in 2017. The election itself did not spawn this, but clearly moved me ever-closer to leaving.

I was pounded by a number of right-wing bloggers that were basically saying, "stop being such a pussy", and "you need to fight for what you believe in", and other similar such statements.

My reply - and philosophy since I first came to this decision - was that I will work my damnedest over the next 13 years to help get America pointed back in what I feel is the right direction. I'm hardly "bailing out". I've become politically active. I talk politics every chance I get. I started this blog to bring everyday Nannyisms to light. But when it's all said and done, if in 2017, this isn't an America I can love and be proud of, why would I stay? America is, if nothing else, about ideals. If those ideals have been trampled, then it just becomes another piece of dirt on which to live.

I was doing some research on the Internet, and I found someone who is able to much more eloquently express his concerns about where this country is headed. His name is Ron Paul. He is a Republican congressman from Texas. He rocks!

So far, everything I've read from this guy is spot-on. Take a look at this excerpt from a recently penned article (emphasis mine):
Undoubtedly many Americans and members of Congress don’t believe America is becoming a police state, which is reasonable enough. They associate the phrase with highly visible symbols of authoritarianism like military patrols, martial law, and summary executions. But we ought to be concerned that we have laid the foundation for tyranny by making the public more docile, more accustomed to government bullying, and more accepting of arbitrary authority -- all in the name of security. Our love for liberty above all has been so diminished that we tolerate intrusions into our privacy that would have been abhorred just a few years ago. We tolerate inconveniences and infringements upon our liberties in a manner that reflects poorly on our great national character of rugged individualism. American history, at least in part, is a history of people who don’t like being told what to do. Yet we are increasingly empowering the federal government and its agents to run our lives.
I wrote not too long ago about a school district that is using Radio Frequency ID (RFID) tags to corral their school children. Presented under the guise of safety, not a single parent opposed the idea. One quoted parent even acknowledged that an ID tag would do nothing to protect her child, yet she supported the idea. When a school official floated the idea of implanting the RFID tags under the skin of the children not a peep could be heard.

What is happening to us, people?

It seems that all a government official needs to say is that a new policy is being put in place to either (a) protect children, (b) protect against terrorists, (c) protect our morality, or (d) protect us from ourselves (gun laws, DUI laws) and we drop our drawers, assume the position, and repeat the famous line, "Thank you sir. May I have another?", as they whip our collective asses into submission.

Read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, folks. It is written for individuals to (a) think and act for themselves, (b) not to infringe on the rights of others, and (c) for the government to fight our wars and regulate our commerce. Not much else.

We now have Gestapo-styled checkpoints to catch people that have been drinking - even when there has been no probable cause to stop the car.

We have an FCC Commissioner telling us what we can see on TV - even when we pay for the channels we view.

We have laws in place that make it virtually impossible to carry a weapon for self-preservation - even when it was considered the second most important liberty by our founding fathers.

We have intelligence agencies that are able to gather information on American citizens - with no prior judicial oversight to ensure probable cause.

We have a national education system - some might call it a religion - that attempts to force it's morals on all Americans instead of letting the individual local jurisdictions decide what they want to teach.

We have a welfare state that has become so mired in bloat, bureaucracy and red-tape that is rivals the former Soviet Union in it's absurdity.

Our government is supposed to be "in the background" of our daily lives. Non-intrusive. Only involved in "big picture" issues. Instead, it now controls - micro-manages - our daily lives.

The Congressman continues,
After all, proponents argue, the government is doing all this to catch the bad guys. If you don’t have anything to hide, they ask, what are you so afraid of? The answer is that I’m afraid of losing the last vestiges of privacy that a free society should hold dear. I’m afraid of creating a society where the burden is on citizens to prove their innocence, rather than on government to prove wrongdoing. Most of all, I’m afraid of living in a society where a subservient populace surrenders its liberties to an all-powerful government.
And wraps it up with,
Those who believe a police state can't happen here are poor students of history. Every government, democratic or not, is capable of tyranny. We must understand this if we hope to remain a free people.
Truer words were never spoken.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Nanny and Steroids 

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

There has been much in the press lately about steroid use by professional athletes. Senators and Congressmen have all bellied up to the podiums to sing the evils of steroid use, how it's ruining American sports, and well by-gum, somethin's gotta be done about it.

Nanny to the rescue.

Just in case someone's not clear, professional sports (or amateur sport for that matter) are not one of the very narrowly defined areas of government involvement that are outlined in the Constitution. So why the hue and cry for "something must be done"?

Because we've become used to Nanny fixing all of our ills. This is simply reinforcing the idea that individuals are unable to make their own choices, and Nanny must come in and fix it for us.

Parents whine that these athletes - who are role models whether they like it or not - are negatively influencing our youth, and something must be done about it. They are right, something must be done, but it shouldn't involve our government.

The burden of "doing something about it" must fall on the parents themselves. They need to voice their opinion, telling major league sports that they will not attend sporting events if things aren't changed, and will spend their entertainment dollars elsewhere.

I'll give you a personal example. Following the 9/11 attacks, Major League Baseball started a policy whereby you could no longer enter a stadium with a backpack. The premise was that a bomb would be brought into the stadium.

Never mind the fact that tractor trailer trucks enter the stadiums virtually unimpeded. You want to talk WMD? But MLB had their target, and nothing could sway them from their mission.

I wrote MLB and offered a suggestion. Designate one or more entrances as backpack entrances. Adjust the number of entrances based upon usage. Inform the world that each and every backpack, cooler or stadium bag would be opened, searched, sniffed by a bomb dog, X-rayed - whatever. Tell people that this process would take extra time, to expect delays, so they should get to the stadium early.

I told them that my family and I would not attend games where we were forced to buy food and drink at the stadium because we had no way of bringing in our own food (one of the "unintended" benefits of this policy for the stadium owners). In the past, my family of 4 attended 6-10 games a year. We've gone to not a single game over the past three seasons.

And the stadiums still allow trucks in unimpeded, and are no safer than they were pre-9/11.

My point is, we must take responsibility for how our own families are raised, and what moral compass we wish to use to influence our young. I won't go to MLB games. I rave about the friendly people and great prices at WinCo. I won't eat at Carl's Junior because of the way they portray certain people in their ads. Pulte Homes builds a great home, and has wonderful customer care. I block MTV and VH1 from our TV because they portray violence and sluttiness as the norm. I'll never use Wells Fargo Bank again because of their arrogant attitude that they are doing me a favor by holding my money.

I use my opinions with my friends and family in an attempt to influence their choices. When I am uncertain about a choice, I solicit the opinions of my friends and family to help me make my decision.

I talk to my boys about sex, drugs and life in general because it's my responsibility to do so.

The government has no authority to tell a private enterprise how and when to drug test their employees, unless that company is doing business with Nanny. This is a private matter between pro sports, the athletes and their paying fans. Government only has a place in this matter by enforcing the illegal drug laws, and this should be a very low priority. Our country has much more pressing matters to which it must attend.

Stop the grand-standing and get back to work.


Friday, December 10, 2004

Personal vs. Government Privacy Rights 

Nanny Strikes Again

This new sign will now be posted on all of my home phones and computers:
NOTICE! By using this phone or computer, you hereby give consent that all conversations and/or keystrokes may be recorded, transcribed or summarized for the use of the owners of said phone and/or computer. If this is unacceptable, hang up or log off now, asshole.

Those of you that read this blog with any regularity know that I am obsessive with personal rights and freedoms. I've railed many-a-time about the abuses of the USA Patriot Act, government and private surveillance and other similar such items.

These all concern the government's right (or lack thereof) to surveil American citizens. But all bets are off when you enter my home. I reserve the right to run my household as I see fit. That includes anything I believe will protect me and my family while you're in my home. Anything. If you don't like it, you're free to leave.

I heard about this story on the radio, and am flabbergasted.

In Washington state it seems as though I would be breaking the law. A parent of a troubled teen listened in on a call the daughter received from another troubled teen. In fact, the local police had asked this parent to be "heads-up" if the daughter received any contact from this boy. When a call was received, the mother listened in on the conversation, took some notes, and then testified against the boy, aiding in his conviction.

The ACLU and others filed suit stating that the parent had violated the State's privacy laws. And they won.

The boy had knocked down an elderly woman and stolen her purse. The way the law is written, if the boy had admitted to murder, given details about how it was done, described where the body was buried and where he threw the gun, it would all be thrown out of court and the kid would walk.

Where does this government interference with raising our families end? The mother paid for the phone, paid for the phone service, and paid for the home to hold the phone which received the service. Yet she has no say in how the phone can be used.

What's next? I can't search my kid's rooms whenever I want? I'm not allowed to inquire into their activities because I'm infringing upon their privacy?

How can you expect a parent to be responsible for the actions of their children if you take away the tools they need to enforce discipline?

This is vastly different from a government listening in on it's citizens without probable cause. The government has no duty or obligation to make sure I behave myself. That's my job - I'm an adult. If I break the law, I'm held responsible for my actions. The government then may mete out punishment. If my child breaks the law, I too am held responsible. The way this law is structured, they may as well hold me responsible for the actions of my next door neighbor, because it's getting to the point where I have as much control over them as I do over my own children.

You watch. The next time some kid pulls a Columbine in Washington state, and the state or private citizens come after the parents, they'll have an "out" by saying they were hindered in their child rearing abilities by this law. It's not that big of a stretch.

God help us.


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