War is coming…


Local items of interest

  • Oklahoma Food Retail Cooperative – a discussion list for persons interested in organizing retail cooperatives in Oklahoma that specialize in providing Oklahoma grown and processed foods to consumers.
  • NewsOK: States seek share of Internet sales tax – IF the costs and paperwork of implementing such a tax can be reduced for the business owner, I am leaning toward this kind of proposal. State and local governements are beginning to suffer from this cut in their revenue.

  • NCAA Press release: Oklahoma Panhandle State University placed on five years probation

    I’m not a big sports fan but this press release is interesting and illustrates the unfair setup of college athletics. College athletes generated millions of dollars for their schools and for the NCAA but get peanuts in return. Read this report and you will see that P.S.U. is being punished for very small things for the most part. Playing ineligble players is a more serious offense, but giving players transportation to a Lake in Texas and then letting them use someone’s boat? Come on! This is absurd.

    I personally think college athletic should be unionized and professionalized. The atheletes are getting screwed, especially when the risk of injury is so high (and the college’s so often do not take care of the long-term medical expenses incurred by these injuries.)

    Considering the incredible committment that is now required out of student atheletes (an acquaintance and former college athelete told me that he received the equivelent of 80 cents per hour in college scholarships, in exchange for the practices and other required time commitments of being a student athlete), it is a rip-off. I think student atheletes should be paid a competive and reasonable salary on top of their college education, or at least be guarrantteed that their potential medical expenses will be covered.


Sherman was right. War is hell.

    Based on the rumors and leaks that are now surfacing in the media, it looks like war will be coming to Iraq possibly as early as late January. When the shooting starts, you can count on the military propagandists to show pictures of “smart” bombs precisely hitting their targets and hotshot pilots telling how that bombing Iraq from 20,000 feet is like playing a video game back home.

    The real pictures of Iraq should be seen so that Americans will know who their military is killing. If you support this war, then you owe it to yourself to look at Austin Chronicle: Faces of the Enemy — A photo essay by Alan Pogue. These pictures have been published on Pogue’s site before this, but the commentary in the Austin Chronicle photo essay is new. Here is excerpt that is so tragic…

      The Amariya Shelter in Baghdad was bombed by the U.S. in 1991. After more than 400 people were killed, most of them children, the U.S. claimed that the shelter was really used for military purposes. However, Reuters, the British news service, reported that the building was never used for anything other than a civilian bomb shelter. All of the neighborhood children were in the shelter because their parents believed it was the safest place. There were also some teachers, cooks, and a clown or two to entertain the children. Two precision-guided “bunker buster” bombs penetrated the 6-foot thick ceiling, exploded inside, and incinerated the children and adults. Photographs of the children now line the walls.
  • Washington Post: Bush Urged to Limit Weapons in Iraq — Human Rights Groups Warn of Harm to Civilians From Land Mines, Cluster Bombs
  • I saw the 30th anniversary reunion for the classic TV show M.A.S.H. tonight. I forgot how good that show was and what a powerful anti-war message it delivered. I wish there were more shows like it.

    Talking about M.A.S.H., here is a good fan site from the UK: http://www.mash4077.co.uk


Ecclesiastical bloggings…

    I found a very cool blog: Real Live Preacher. I love this guy’s stuff! Here’s one excerpt that is as earthy and real as it gets…

      But I was exposed early to the real stuff – Top Shelf Christianity – Deep and Old Christianity. This kind is practiced by people who work until they stink and take life in great draughts. Their hands are as rough as their hides, and they DO their faith in secret, hiding their good works in obedience to Christ. They know how to love and be loved in return. Their laughter is loud and has its roots in joy.

Law bloggists take on Tolkien

    Here are some reviews on The Twin Towers by some of my favorite law blogs…

  • Jennifer @ Mellow-drama rightly dubs Lord of the Rings the “Book of the Century.” She also give some good analysis of the departures that The Two Towers made from the book’s plot.
  • Janeway mentions seeing the movie but being the true Middle Earth geek that she is spends more time talking about the SILMARILLION, a book I really should tackle this spring.

It’s never to late for a great X-mas Present!


Reality sets in.

    That last post really is sinking in. I am by nature more depressed than I ought to be (and I am resolving to not let the sorry state of the world get me down in this new year — one of my resololutions for 2003), but it is hard not to be down about that news.

    I think part of it is, that as long as the thoughts and fears that the US was using torture weren’t confirmed, then it was quite real yet. I did fear that that kind of thing was happening, but I didn’t realize how bad it was.

    It looks now that the so-called good treatment of the enemy POW’s at Guantanamo Bay was just a big dog and pony show for the press, and the real prisoners were never brought there but instead likely faced torture in Afghanistan, or in a foreign country after being transfered there by our own forces.

    The reality of this is so horrible. It almost reminds me of how I felt when they discovered the OKC bomber (Timothy McVeigh) was a fellow American. It would have been almost easier if it had been a foreign national, but one of our own?! Now though to hear that Americans are the instruments of such evil is just to horrible to think about.

    Violence is horrible enough when it is deemed neccesary to defend oneself or someone else, but when it is used intentionally to bring pain upon another human being… it seems so wrong. To refer back to Tolkien and LOTR, it seems so Orcish.

    I believe with all of my heart that human beings are made in the image of God and are called to something more noble than this. — actually this segues into something I heard late last night on ABC’s Up Close where Ted Koppel interviewed Arch-Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. The part of the interview I saw was so joyful. It was simply put a downright spiritual experience for myself to watch BUT to get back to point … what Tutu said that related to this post was when he said human beings are made in the image of God, so that means we are all called to be “God-like.”

    That is why I am so upset about this, why I rage against this horrible evil. And the truth is, the real enemy is not Bush, Rumsfeld, or even the CIA. The real enemy is the evil that clouds our humanity and keeps us from being who we all are called to be. We are meant to be better than this.

    Part of what upsets me most, is that if I go down deep enough in my own soul, I know there is some of that same evil inside of me.

    If it were my family members or loved ones held in the balance, would I say torture was ok? Would I even be willing to inflict the pain myself? If I am completely honest with myself, the answer would probably be yes, and that is why I say there is evil in side of me, because the rules change when “my own” would be at stake. I wish I could say no, but that is because I am not the man God has called me to be in so many ways. We all are so ready to bend the rules and to do what is wrong. It is a terrible thing.



    I had been feeling better about the state of things (you know the Christmas spirit and all) until I stumbled across this link from Mellow-drama: Washington Post: U.S. Decries Abuse but Defends Interrogations — ‘Stress and Duress’ Tactics Used on Terrorism Suspects Held in Secret Overseas Facilities.

    A few things that bother me about this. . .

    1. Mellow-drama (a blog that I normally dig) actually defends this practice. I am shocked that a law student seems to think that due process should go out the window in a time of war. I’m sorry. Call me an absolutist but freedom is tested the most when the defendant is accused of the most heinous of crimes.

    2. Torture is NEVER right. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER.

    We are supposed to be better than this. I know some might say, “hey, Israel does it, so does…(name the country).”

    Well I don’t give a rat’s *** about what other countries do. America is supposed to be held to a higher standard, and as a defiant believer in the values of freedom, I expect more of my nation than this.

    3. Here’s one quote from a war criminal who is involved with this opperation…

      “If you don’t violate someone’s human rights some of the time, you probably aren’t doing your job,” said one official who has supervised the capture and transfer of accused terrorists. “I don’t think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this. That was the whole problem for a long time with the CIA.”

    Zero tolerance on basic human rights!? What is wrong with these people?! Why is this administration allowing this to go on?

    4. Here’s another appalling quote…

      In other cases, usually involving lower-level captives, the CIA hands them to foreign intelligence services — notably those of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco — with a list of questions the agency wants answered. These “extraordinary renditions” are done without resort to legal process and usually involve countries with security services known for using brutal means.

    Jumping ahead in the story, we find out why the US sends prisoners to countries like this…

      Jordan is a favored country for renditions, several U.S. officials said. The Jordanians are considered “highly professional” interrogators, which some officials said meant that they do not use torture. But the State Department’s 2001 human rights report criticized Jordan and its General Intelligence Directorate for arbitrary and unlawful detentions and abuse.

      “The most frequently alleged methods of torture include sleep deprivation, beatings on the soles of the feet, prolonged suspension with ropes in contorted positions and extended solitary confinement,” the 2001 report noted. Jordan also is known to use prisoners’ family members to induce suspects to talk.

    (I should add, I was unaware that Jordan engaged in these kinds of action. I thought Jordan was a more progressive nation in that region. I guess I was wrong.)

    5. Here’s another blood curdling episode …

      Abu Zubaida, who is believed to be the most important al Qaeda member in detention, was shot in the groin during his apprehension in Pakistan in March. National security officials suggested that Zubaida’s painkillers were used selectively in the beginning of his captivity. He is now said to be cooperating, and his information has led to the apprehension of other al Qaeda members.

    Denying an injured man his pain meds is barbarity plain and simple ANY American soldier, officer, or government official who has approved or has allowed to continue these attroctities should be tried for war crimes.

    And if it can be shown that President Bush knew that this was taking place and did nothing to stop it, he should be impeached. I have cut him some slack before now. While I loathed many things that he and his administration had done, I hoped that he would change his ways. (I didn’t call him a “illegitmate president” or say he “stole” the election, etc.) Using torture was the last straw in my book. If he continues to fail to act decisively to stop the actions of the forces under his command, it is tantamount to a betrayal of American values and his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    I am beginning to think he and most of his underlings should be impeached and removed from office.


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Post-Christmas Thoughts and links

    Christmas has come and gone and it was good. Good times with family and church, and lots of good time relaxing (more than I anticipated which was nice).

    Now, it is back to real life but thankfully the law office has been pretty quiet. I think most of the clients assume we are closed for the holidays, which I do not mind them thinking 😉 since it is allowing me to tackle some office cleaning/reorganization projects that I’ve wanted to do for some time.

    As to the rest of this week, I’ll be at the office tomorrow and maybe a little bit Saturday. Then preaching on Sunday, and then off to the farm for a week of painting and country living with Tim and whoever else comes out to visit.

    Since it is long distance I probably won’t get to post more than once or twice during the week out there from my laptop, but when I get back get ready for a deluge of posts and hopefully some pictures of what I painted during the week.

    Ok, here are some links I found of interest today…

  • Salon.com’s compendium of all things middle earth (coverage of both the book and movies of the LOTR) which includes the best review I’ve read yet of the Two Towers
  • Myway/AP: Ex-Computer Hacker (Kevin Mitnick) Granted Radio License
  • CBSNews/AP: Comic Book First — Gay Gunslinger — This bothers me a little. Not so much that it is a gay character (which is not terribly noteworthy by the way… there have been many gay comic characters before this) but rather that they are so radically changing an existing character. It is one thing to make subtle inside jokes playing on the old story line, it is another to have the “Kid” come out of the closet. I really think they should have given more thought to the book’s original readership. My take on the classic Rawhide Kid (I think I’ve read one or two of the older books) was that he was shy around girls, as are many young men. That does not make him gay though. This smacks of comic book historic revisionism to me.
  • MSNBC:Retraining the brain for New Year’s — How to make sure you keep resolutions once and for all This article raises some interesting questions but gives few answers. The story seems to indicate that changing brain patterns is possible but doesn’t give the nitty gritty how you do it.
  • The Sussex Mummers Carol
      When righteous Joseph wedded was, Unto a virgin maid,

      A glorious angel from heaven came,

      Unto that virgin maid, Unto that virgin maid.

      O mortal man remember well, When Christ our lord was born,

      He was crucified betwixt two theives and crown’ed with the thorn,

      And crown’ed with the thorn.

      O mortal man remember well, When Christ died on the rood,

      Twas for our sins and wicked ways, Christ shed his precious blood,

      Christ shed his precious blood.

      O mortal man remember well, When Christ was wrapped in clay,

      He was taken to a sepulcre, where no man ever lay,

      Where no man ever lay.

      God bless the mistress of this house,

      With gold all round her breast,

      Where e’er her body sleeps or wakes,

      Lord send her soul to rest.

      God bless the master of this house,

      With happiness beside,

      Where e’er his body rides or walks,

      Lord Jesus be his guide.

      God bless your house, your children too,

      Your cattle and your store,

      The Lord increase you day by day,

      And give you more and more.

    Thanks to Robert Waldrup for sending me that via email.

  • Rumor has it that Netbank.com will give folks with less than perfect banking records the possibility of opening a checking account. If you in the past have been turned down for banking services, it might be worthwhile to check them out.
  • If you are interested in pursuing theological education but can’t afford it, check out Nations University, a non-accredited International University in the Bible sponsored by the Churches of Christ. Their website design is very dated (mid 1990’s) but otherwise is worth checking out. Perusing their catalog and course offerings I am very impressed. They offer certificate, Bachelor’s, and a M.R.S. (Masters in Religious Studies) degrees to students in many countries. — I am actually thinking about enrolling a graduate course with them to help me continue my education (and to help me maintain some level of sanity during Law School… I love law school but I think it will help to study something else.). If I do, I’ll let you all know if it was worthwhile or not.