Insomnia Log

This is what keeps me awake at night???

Who needs sleep? (well you’re never gonna get it)
Who needs sleep? (tell me what’s that for)
Who needs sleep? (be happy with what you’re getting,
There’s a guy who’s been awake since the second world war)

-- words and music by Steven Page & Ed Robertson

Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

Everything you need to know about me can be found in my posts

Thursday, September 28, 2006

On the Slopes, Two Wives Are Better than One

G. Lee Cook of Salt Lake City wants to get married again, but he is happy with his first and current wife. Unfortunately, according to state law in Utah (not to mention everywhere else I know about), that would be illegal.

I have previously argued that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional. Isn't that a slippery slope argument that will just open the flood gates to polygamy and other mixed metaphors? Why, soon we'll be wanting to grant religious freedom to everybody, even people that don't agree with (gasp!) me!

I say, let's open the gates. Let's slide down that slope. It sounds like fun. (Of course, I live in Colorado, and slippery slopes are an entire industry here.)

Cook, his current wife, and his prospective wife have brought their case to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. Utah Assistant Attorney Nancy Kemp argues that it is ok to ban polygamy, because the ban applies to everybody. As far as I can tell, this amounts to saying that it is ok to prevent people who are members of a religion from practicing that religion as long as you don't let anybody else practice it either. An interesting (but vitally flawed) interpretation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

I don't expect the courts to agree with me. But, after all, any judge who doesn't take my point of view is an activist judge and should be thrown from office. Wouldn't be constitutional, but it might be entertaining and ego boosting. And, in fact, that's what it's all about.

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Bush Proposes Anarchy in the U.S.

President Bush, speaking at a recent campaign event, said, "There's a fundamental difference in this campaign and campaigns all across the country about who best to spend your money. We believe that the best people to spend your money is you."

Ignoring his disturbingly bad command of the English language, the message itself is flawed. If the government can't be trusted to spend money wisely, the government should be dismantled (or perhaps run by volunteers and donations). In nearly six years in office, Mr. Bush has clearly not shown by example that our government should spend less.

If you believe that a government at some level is necessary, then the real questions become:
  1. What do we think the proper role of government is and what should it be spending money on?

  2. How much does that cost?

  3. What are the sources of revenue to cover these needs?

  4. How much money should be collected from each source and how?

If the government is spending money it shouldn't be, make that argument and convince us (and Congress) to cut that spending. Don't argue that taxes need to be generically cut, which will result in a general failure of the government to be able to perform any of its functions.

And, if the President truly intends to put money back in people's pockets, he needs to consider all of the consequences of his policies:
  • Calling something a fee rather than a tax does not reduce the cost to the taxpayer.

  • Cutting a service that the taxpayer will have to pay for elsewhere is effectively a tax increase.

  • Cutting a federal tax while forcing state and local governments to make up the difference is only shifting the tax burden.

  • Paying for our government with borrowed money does not reduce total taxes, it only reduces them in the short term, while increasing the total amount of tax money required to be collected over time.

Calling something a tax cut does not automatically make it good. Even if reducing government revenue is a goal, there are lots of ways to cut taxes. If one disagrees with a particular tax cut proposal, this does not prove that one is in favor of higher taxes, only that one is not in favor of reducing that particular tax.

So, Mr. Bush (and friends): Please be honest in your arguments and in your characterizations of the opposition. If not, there is a (slight) chance that somebody will actually call you on it.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

The Most Dangerous Man Alive?

Is it possible that someone can be more evil and more dangerous than Osama bin Laden? That is a very tall order. And for that position I nominate the Pastor John Hagee.

How can an evangelical preacher be that evil and dangerous? Well, for one, he and his growing national following have the ear of our Republican administration and Congress. He believes that rapture is imminent.

Personally, I don't care what he believes, whether he can convince people, or whether he can get these gullible people to send him millions of dollars every year. What I do care about, however, is that the end times he is calling for require a certain sequence of events, including widespread nuclear war (both in the middle east and in the red states of our country.) He is calling for the so-called Christian community in this country to back him, and is pushing the government to implement his policies.

These policies include, for example, doing everything to avoid a cease fire in the recent Israeli-Lebanese conflicts. They include no room for any negotiations with Iran. They include the exploitation of Israel and the Jewish people for his own purposes (while pretending to be supportive).

At least with bin Laden, we are pretty much united in this country that he is evil and needs to be stopped (although we may not agree on how that should be done.) Pastor Hagee has a twice-daily broadcast on religious television. He is also meeting with the Congressional leadership and members of the administration. These members of our ruling party clearly do not believe that this man is evil and dangerous, and many are signing on to help him.

If you read my rantings regularly, you know that I believe strongly in the First Amendment. This means that John Hagee has every right to believe and preach anything he wants and people are free to follow him. What become a problem is when our elected government officials, who swore to uphold the Constitution, disgrace it instead by basing policy decisions on their religious beliefs and the religious beliefs of kooks like this. It becomes even worse when those religious beliefs are founded on the destruction of our country and planet.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Only 60 Books?

Many people have expressed doubts about recent reports that President Bush has read 60 books so far this year. (Question: Is that calendar year, or fiscal year?) I have no doubt however that the reports are true.

It seems like our president shows all the signs of an obsessive/compulsive with addictive behavior. Now it's books. I'm sure he treats this as a competition and will drive himself until he can no longer keep it up. Before this, it was mountain bike riding, and before that it was running.

Before that? Well, we've had some rumors about Mr. Bush's obsessive behaviors prior to his presidency. However, I'm sure that is all in the past, just like his speed reading will be in another 6-24 months.

For some of us it's a hobby. For others of us, we can't do anything halfway.

President Bush, I only pray that you will stop this before your brain fills completely.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years

Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying

I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
I saw boys, toys, electric irons and TVs
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
And all the nobody people, and all the somebody people
I never thought I'd need so many people.

A girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children
If the black hadn't pulled her off, I think she would have killed them
A soldier with a broken arm, fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest, and a queer threw up at the sight of that.

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour, drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don't think you knew you were in this song.
And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk.

We got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we got

We've got five years, what a surprise
Five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we got

We got five years, stuck on my eyes
Five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we got

We've got five years, what a surprise
We've got five years, stuck on my eyes
We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot
Five years, that's all we've got

Five years, five years, five years, five years...

- David Bowie, 1972

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Crocodile Done Deal

Spotted Eagle Ray
So, Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, died while getting up close and personal with one of the deadliest creatures of the deep. I have to agree with Debra Saunders, this is pretty much how you expected the story to end.

Coincidentally, I heard about Irwin's demise while at an open ocean swimming event on Maui. Plenty of dangerous creatures there.

While visiting the island, I had the fortune to swim with someone who is pretty much the opposite of Steve Irwin. Bob is one of the most experienced, if not the most experienced, open water swimmers on the island. He knows the local wildlife and took me to watch sharks, sea turtles, rays (similar to the photo above), and other creatures. But his attitude is one of respect. Watch and enjoy them, but know and respect their raw power in the water, which is assuredly greater than yours.

What's the lesson? If you are dealing with wild animals, you can't treat the encounter as a contest, because there will almost certainly be a winner and a loser. And you can't be friends with them, because the concept is meaningless. Know them, know their power, and know your own strengths and weaknesses. Then enjoy the show.

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