Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Don't Fence Me In!

Mother Nature always wins.
I noticed these unusual trees on the Boise Greenbelt, that have sprung up along the path of the chain-link fence.

That fence has obviously been there for some time; the trees have grown around the links, and melded with the fence. Rather amazing.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book suggestion: Armed America

Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie
By Clayton E. Cramer
ISBN 1595550690

I'm not a hunter, but I'm a gun owner and an NRA Life Member, and I believe as much in the Second Amendment as I do the others.

The first reason this book caught my eye is because Clayton Cramer is a neighbor of sorts. He lives in the Boise area. I read his blog every so often; it's always well-crafted, and his viewpoints usually line up quite nicely with my own.

The second reason is because it was on the list of "Second Amendment Must-Read" books, in my NRA magazine that just arrived. In fact, it was the first book on the list.

A bit of background:

Back in 2000, a fella named Michael Bellesiles wrote a book called Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. The general premise of that book was that the historical significance of guns in the Story of America has been vastly overstated, and that they were not part of our nation's development, at least to the degree as usually portrayed.

Naturally, Bellesiles' book was lauded by the mainstream media, Academia, Sarah Brady and Charles Schumer, and all the other anti-gun voices. He won Columbia University's "Bancroft Prize." (That's probably a good thing, I'm guessing.)

But it also got the attention of gun-lovers across the Fruited Plain, including Mr. Cramer, the author of this new book. They quickly did some fact checking on Bellesiles' book, and discovered that much of it was made up, and largely inaccurate.

Columbia University took away their prize. Bellesiles lost his tenure at Emory University, and resigned his position there. (Of course, the anti-gun crowd, never inclined to be persuaded or dissuaded by facts, continues to gush over the book!)

Okay... enough background.

Regarding Cramer's new book...

His description, from the beginning: "Here's a history of guns in America … Minutemen. Fur trappers. Davy Crockett. The shot heard 'round the world. Pioneers circling the wagon trains. Cowboys and Indians. Jesse James. Wyatt Earp. Buffalo Bill and the OK Corral. Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., downed one and all, by gunmen. Rambo. Dirty Harry. Lethal Weapon. Columbine." All of these historical, or not-so-historical, incidents have been ingrained into Americans from the day we are born – on TV, in books, on the big screen, in our daily play as a child and as news items.

I have not read the book yet, but intend to. In fact, I just put a "hold" on it at the public library. Check back.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Subdivision False Advertising??

Close your eyes. Listen to the breeze, whistling gently through the pines as it blows in off the vast expanse of the Pacific. Off in the distance and far below, you can hear the waves crashing majestically off the crags and cliffs.

Ah - who am I kidding? That's not ocean noise - it's freeway noise! I'm standing at the entrance to the "Sea Pines" subdivision, right behind the GMC Truck Center. (And I-84 is about a block in the other direction. At least the Truck Center closes down in the evening; I-84 is going 24/7.)

(I'm not an expert on trees - is that one in the photo a "sea pine"? I always thought "sea pines" looked more like what you see at Big Sur, California... or perhaps Heceta Head, Oregon.)

I first took note of the problem about the time the "Sea Pines" sign went up, 20 years or so ago.

Developers are apparently free to name their subdivisions anything they want to! And do they ever take liberties!

Where is "truth in advertising"? Why isn't the Attorney General all over this?!?

There are glaring examples all over the Boise area - I hope to expose some of them.

Let's take another journey.

Thoreau abandoned the hustle and bustle of urban life, settling at his beloved Walden Pond. There, he could commune with nature. Enjoy a more relaxed pace. Get in touch with his more sensitive side.

Ah, Walden. Birds a-twitter in the trees. The occasional bass, disturbing the serene surface of the lake. The soothing buzz of cicadas and crickets. Summertime... and the livin' is easy.

Back to reality. Boise's "Walden Pond," just off Cloverdale Road, offers a slightly different ambiance. Do you suppose the "victims," who bought lots in "Walden Pond," did so sight-unseen?

Look at the exquisitely-placed 3-car garages! Notice how the streets aren't straight, but gently winding... after all, you don't find straight lines in Nature, and we're getting back to nature! I bet the residents of "Walden Pond" put on their Birkenstocks over the weekend, and have a Thoreau experience as they fire up the charcoal in the back yard, huh?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Revelation!!

A new papyrus scroll has been found in the Middle East! Biblical experts believe that it contains additional revelations of John the Apostle, and if not lost for these thousands of years, would likely have been contained in the Book of Revelation. (Like most of the Book of Revelation, it's quite difficult to interpret.) This is the translated text:

Revelation 15
9 And I beheld children with rings of gold in their noses and their ears, and shafts of silver in their tongues. And I beheld that they were painted with a color that would not wash off in the rain. And they did wear their raiment in a manner in which it hung low upon their loins. And they did also have jewels and rings and objects of great worth in the buttons of their bellies.
11 And I beheld that their dwelling places did each have a great dish pointing heavenward. And behold I was mystified, because the dish gathered not the word of Heaven, but rather the word of him who was cast forth from Heaven.
12 And I beheld those from the Land of the Moving Picture Box, going forth to the Dark Continent in great silver birds, and fetching back babies of various sizes and colors.
13 And behold, I did see multitudes in their horseless chariots. Yet they did not move, but rather did sit in their chariots in long lines from sunrise to sunset. And they did speak into little black boxes, as if to themselves.
14 And behold, I did see yet another horseless chariot, just before the End of Times. And this final chariot did contend mightily with other horseless chariots in the Great and Final Race, in the Land of Daytona. And its name was… TOYOTA.


What's the Ugliest Car?

Beauty is subjective. But as usual, you're at the right place to get the CORRECT opinion!

Although cars look much more "alike" in 2007 than they did in, say, 1967, there is still a wide variety of car-looks to tempt discriminating car shoppers. (Unlike in China and Russia, where all the cars look alike, and are all painted primer gray. And except for the ballerinas and figure skaters, all their women look alike and are painted primer gray. Hahahahahaha!) (God Bless America!)

The ugly-car champion for years and years was the AMC Pacer. Surely the undeniable ugliness of the vehicle landed it a part in the movie "Wayne's World." Remember the classic scene where Wayne and Garth are laying on the hood of the Pacer, staring up at the starlit sky and spouting deep thoughts? Actually, talking about a babe… and Garth gives her the ultimate compliment by saying, "If she were a president, she would be Baberaham Lincoln." But I digress.

In my (correct) opinion, the Ugly-Car Crown was finally snatched away from the Pacer, by the Pontiac Aztek, in the late '90s or thereabouts. Criminy – whoever(s) designed the Aztek should be flippin' burgers with Kevin Federline! What were they THINKING? It looks like an ugly car on top of some kind of weird ugly-car box-spring foundation. (A comparison might be made with the boxy little Scion… but its ugliness has a certain ugly-duckling appeal. GM went WAY beyond "cute-ugly" with the Aztek.)

But – they sold some. They also DIDN'T sell a lot of 'em… my brother-in-law Steve, who travels extensively, says they were a staple of the rental car fleets for a long time… you had to pay extra for a non-Aztek. (The more self-conscious renters were willing to pay the difference… particularly those who were worried that they might see somebody they knew while driving.) Thankfully, I believe General Motors dropped the model, although they continue to lose billion$ every year – obviously Aztek Collateral Damage.

HONORABLE MENTION goes to another vehicle… the noisiest, stinkiest, and likely widest. The Dodge Mega-Cab Diesel Dually pickup. You can hear it comin' a half-mile before it arrives. (Sounds a little like a Massey-Ferguson tractor.) You can smell it a half-mile after it's gone. (Belches black smoke like, and smells like, an Allis-Chalmers.) And the thing is almost 21 feet long, and 8 feet wide! (An 8-foot wide vehicle in a 10-foot-wide traffic lane… do the math!)

NOTE – I'm only addressing factory-stock vehicles here. There are people – kids, mostly – who take a decent-looking vehicle and deliberately make it ugly by putting a big ol' aluminum carrying handle / "wing" on the back, cover it with cheap plastic J.C. Whitney ornamentation, replace a couple quarter-panels with a different color, etc. There are also people who spend thousands to make their vehicles even noisier than the Dodge Mega-Diesel. Maybe somebody's out there trying to make his vehicle even stinkier, too!

If you drive a Pontiac Aztek… I'm sorry! My advice to you would be to drive it off a cliff, then call the cops and tell 'em somebody stole it!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Idaho Greats - Bernie Fisher

I had a Brush with Greatness earlier today (Feb 14 - Valentine's Day).

Every year, there is a Salute to Veterans at the local VA Hospital, in conjunction with Valentine's Day. And, just as we've done the last couple years, the little office choral group I'm in has gone and sung patriotic songs in the hallways.

This year, we were sharing the halls with NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Kramer, who was also there to greet and honor the vets. (I saw the Super Bowl ring that once was lost, but miraculously is now returned to his finger. That's a different story.)

We also crossed paths with another hero - the Real Deal. Bernard F. Fisher. You'd never guess it by looking at his aging frame and listening to his quiet but cheerful demeanor... but on March 10, 1966, his successful rescue of a fellow pilot, downed in the jungles of Vietnam, resulted in his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson. (The first living Air Force recipient.)

The citation:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On that date (10 March 1966), the Special Forces camp at A Shau was under attack by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army Regulars. Hostile troops had positioned themselves between the airstrip and the camp. Other hostile troops had surrounded the camp and were continuously raking it with automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills. The tops of the 1,500-foot hills were obscured by an 800-foot ceiling, limiting aircraft maneuverability and forcing pilots to operate within the range of hostile gun positions, which often were able to fire down on the attacking aircraft. During the baffle, Major Fisher observed a fellow airman crash land on the battletorn airstrip. In the belief that the downed pilot was seriously injured and in imminent danger of capture, Major Fisher announced his intention to land on the airstrip to effect a rescue. Although aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, he elected to continue. Directing his own air cover, he landed his aircraft and taxied almost the full length of the runway, which was littered with battle debris and parts of an exploded aircraft. While effecting a successful rescue of the downed pilot heavy ground fire was observed, with nineteen bullets striking his aircraft. In the face of the withering ground fire, he applied power and gained enough speed to liftoff at the overrun of the airstrip. Major Fisher's conspicuous gallantry, his profound concern for his fellow airman and his intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the United States Air Forces and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country."

That's just part of the story, however (which I've heard him tell on at least a couple different occasions over the years). Once he was airborne again, in his shot-up plane with his fellow pilot, it seemed extremely unlikely he had enough fuel to return to the friendly base. But somehow - on fumes and a prayer - he made it back.

After he retired, he finished raising his family, along with sweet corn, lima beans, and a couple cows, out Kuna way.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Is Mitt Romney a legitimate candidate?

In the crowded world of Pre-Primary Presidential Contenders, Mitt Romney's name has surfaced early and often as a possible GOP candidate. (The GOP front runners are Rudy Giuliani and John McCain; the "conservative" voice of the GOP has problems with both of them.)

Since I'm an active "Mormon," as is Mr. Romney, I'm following this story rather closely.

Romney certainly looks presidential - in fact, his movie-star looks could win over some of the soccer moms who might otherwise vote for Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman. (It's unfair to make light of voters, and the reasons they vote... but people lay down their votes for some pretty odd reasons, and many are "too busy" to study the issues, and the positions of the candidates on those issues. And it's easy to get cynical and dismiss the whole thing, since many of the candidates seem to state their viewpoints based on the audience they are speaking to. But it's probably always been that way.)

Some of the pundits are saying Romney could never be elected because he's a Mormon. Here is a link to an article that appeared in the New York Times, reprinted in the Deseret News, about that very issue.

I'm giving the voters more credit than that. (But I could be wrong.)

First of all - Romney was governor of Massachusetts, for crying out loud! Massachusetts - the state that brought you Edward Kennedy, Barney Frank, and Jon Carry! (Maybe that discredits the voters of Massachusetts - hahaha! And others will argue that the liberals of MA voted for the Mormon so they can feel good about how tolerant they are... and he wouldn't get that same favor from the evangelical Christians in Iowa, or North Carolina.) Also, if Ms. Clinton ended up being the Democrat candidate, the Reverend Jerry Falwell said, "... Nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton," and added that conservative Christians would vote for Lucifer himself over Hillary Clinton.

What concerns me more about Mr. Romney is his apparent "political posturing," and his apparent lack of strong views on issues that are of critical importance to me.

As mentioned earlier, he was elected governor of Massachusetts. When he was running, he was VERY clear about supporting the "right" of a woman to abort her unborn baby. He said it over and over again, because he was asked about it, over and over again. Same thing with gay rights. He once sided with the gay coalition, and against the Boy Scouts. Same thing with guns. He was on the record as favoring more restrictive gun laws. He's also been both for and against the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire in 2010.

Some people might not vote for a Mormon. I won't automatically vote for a Mormon. I'm waiting for Mr. Romney to explain his apparent flip-flopping (now that he's painting himself as the most "conservative" choice of the GOP candidates).

Of course... if I walk into the voting booth on that November Tuesday, and the names on the ballot are Hillary Clinton and Lucifer Beelzebub... I'll have to hold my nose and vote for that Beelzebub guy, even if I don't know his position on babies and gun control!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Super Bowl XLI - Coaches' Profiles

Much is being made of the fact that for the first time ever, an African-American will be coaching a Super Bowl team. But even more unlikely - African-Americans will be coaching both teams competing in the Super Bowl! That is awesome! Tony Dungy of the Colts, and Lovie Smith of the Bears both deserve to be where they are.

Let me be the first to observe that Lovie and Tony are both "mainstream African-Americans who are articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guys!"

(I may be plagiarizing Joe Biden, but since he's a well-known plagiarizer himself, he oughtta not mind too much, huh?)