Mike's Soapbox - Best 2001 Rants
4/15 - You know, this whole incident with the Chinese has gotten me thinking - this is the second time in a few short months that we have had to apologize to an Asian nation. Let's look at the incidents:
1. An unarmed Japanese fishing ship was in international waters off the coast of the US when one of our attack submarines ran into it and sank it. We apologized to the Japanese for the incident.
2. An unarmed American surveillance plane was in international airspace off the coast of China when one of their fighter planes ran into it causing it to land in China. We apologized to the Chinese for the incident.
You see, the first time, we were at fault but the second time, we were the victim. However, in both cases, we apologized. Still, both countries seem to forget that in each incident, it was an ACCIDENT!
I would have apologized to the Chinese, but I would have done it like this - "I am sorry your pilots aren't trained well enough to keep them from running their supersonic fighters into our slow moving prop planes."
4/22 - I have been watching Babylon 5 and now I am watching Crusade, and I now have a different opinion of Star Trek. I am a huge Star Trek fan - I loved the Next Generation and Deep Space 9, and I even like the original episodes. But with Voyager, I started to lose interest. I didn't know why until I looked at other Sci Fi series.
On B5 and Farscape, the characters grow over time. The stories are about science fiction, but they are more about the people. For example, on Farscape, we have seen Crichton (the main character) grow from a lost astronaut to a great leader while having to cope with mental illness (they put a chip in his head). The character has grown over the seasons. On Babylon 5, there is a similar thing with all the characters. Garabaldi went from a brash security officer to betraying his friend to hitting the bottle to redeeming himself once again. Londo goes from comic relief to tragic character.
Yet, on Voyager, they don't seem to be any different than they were at the start of the series. Also, to make matters worse, they don't have a consistent plot line. On B5, the series revolved around the Shadow War - there was a central arc to the story, and all other plot lines kept a focus on that central arc. However, on Voyager, they keep either forgetting about what transpired in previous episodes or they go back in time and forget about things. For example, nearly every character on that show has betrayed their shipmates and almost gotten everyone killed. Yet, they all still find it easy to trust one another.
The biggest problem with Star Trek is that it no longer really makes me think. There are several episodes of B5 where I was surprised by how things turned out, where I still thought about the show for hours afterwards. A revelation that changes things throughout the series. (See the episode "The Fall of Night" to know what I am talking about). Voyager has never actually made me think. Okay, I take that back. One episode, called "Blink of an Eye", made me think. It was about an entire civilization that evolves in a high rate of speed, so that over the course of a day, it goes from cave dwellers to space faring. It made me think, but the characters were same dull boring characters that came back the next week and the week after and the week after.
Remember on Next Gen when we saw Worf grow from being a new officer to a skilled security officer? Remember after Picard got assimilated by the Borg that people weren't sure of his loyalties? Remember Data growing to try and understand humanity? Yes, that is what Star Trek USED to be about. Not so much any more.
I agree with Majel Barrett Roddenberry - Star Trek does need to take a break. They need to come up with fresh ideas and stories that truly make you think. And make you feel different. And leave you waiting in anticipation for the next episode.
4/29 - Well, let's see what we have to talk about this week.
First, it appears that you were correct when you picked Robert Downey Jr as the celebrity most likely to OD in the 2000 Mike and Adele's World Awards. His continued arrests rival those of Daryl Strawberry, and since Daryl was making a strong show at the end, I think Robert Downey Jr was trying to ensure the visitors to our page that he truly deserves this title.
This week I rented a Toyota Camry in St Louis. The first two days, the radio would not play for me. The last two days, the radio would not stop. I couldn't turn it off, I couldn't turn it down, I couldn't change the station. When I turned the car off, the radio kept playing. It was weird. I ended up having to pull the fuse to make it stop. It was almost like Christine.
5/6 - Well, I was going to talk about Survivor, but that can wait. What I have now is a "Weird Person I've Met" story that just happened this week.
I work at an Air Force base, and it is great because they have all this security around the base. You can be pretty safe that no one is going to steal your car because you are on base. But I guess some people don't always think that way.
I work with a guy who has an old car, like a 1980 station wagon. It's rusted on the top and on the hood, so not only is it undesirable because it's a station wagon, but it's not a very good looking station wagon at that. But the funny thing is that the guy has the club on his car while he is parked on base at work.
It's funny, because it's very secure - it has the club and it's on base, but even more so - who would want to steal the thing? I don't know what he is thinking... Weird, huh?
5/13 - This week's soapbox was inspired to me on a flight from Atlanta to San Antonio this week.
I got on board the aircraft and the flight attendants start their usual announcements, which I usually tune out. However, something the flight attendant said made me perk up, as it struck me as odd.
"And I want to remind you that the use of sailor phones is prohibited once the aircraft has moved away from the gate," she said.
I started thinking - what the hell is a "sailor phone"? Is that a new type of communication device? I started picturing something that is a cross between a LORAN receiver and a waterproof phone. I was intrigued - is this some sort of survival device? Why would anyone want a sailor phone when you are flying?
My imagination ran rampant, until I finally figured it out - my Atlanta based flight crew was trying to pronounce "cellular" with her thick Southern drawl, and it came out as "sailor".
Hmmmm - I wonder if someone can invent a sailor phone that runs on nucular energy. Now that would be sumpin'!
2002 Note: My friend Doug enjoyed this rant so much, he posted it to a Delta message board. Here are the responses that came in as a result of it:
Your post will probably start a long list of "I heard this on an airplane" type replies, so I'll start. My wife and I were leaving Grand Cayman, riding in coach, of course, and the co-pilot came on the PA with his pre-takeoff announcement. He said the usual "we'll be on our way in a minute or two, will the flight attendants please prepare the cabin." But then he added two words, in kind of a breathy, drawn out style. The words were "Lets fly." It came out as "Letttsss fllllyyyy." I felt like crawling under my seat, and my wife looked over at me and said "that's just about the stupidest thing I've ever heard any pilot say. And I'm married to one."
Sorry if you're the guy
And out of both Dallas and Houston when I was a Co-Pilot, from the lips of some of my Captains:
"Folks, we have thunderstorms ahead, on either side and behind us. We have done all we can up here, now it's in the hands of the Lord". PP
"If you think that other airline( old CAL) moves their tails for you, wait until you see what our girls do". DS
"Hang on folks, we gonna head this big mutha down the runway and see if we can get airborne just one more time". BW
"After this landing by my Co-Pilot Harvill, you girls(F/A's)will probably have to pull your girdles back up". BM
and finally, while on approach to ATL's Hartsfield Intl during a light snow fall, "Folks, looks like the grits factory blew up in Atlanta today". SB
There is a very fine line between humor and stupid. I NEVER attempted humor on the PA because I KNEW I would sound stupid. The key is understanding that Pilots should fly airplanes, and Jeff Foxworthy should handle the humor. Just one old stick in the mud( in Talladega)old person's opinion.
Now venting all that pent up bad humor ......oDey
Agreed. But I really like that "Grits factory blew up" one. I may have to try that one despite the warnings. :)
I think it was you that posted those Heathrow airport announcements on the old forum. The ones with the fake Arabic and South Asian names. That was hilarious. Do you still have those files? Could you post them again?
Also heard in ATL, on approach: (ATC)"Hey, Delta 123, you are following a 757 at 11 o'clock and 4 miles. You got him in sight?"
Delta 123: (heavy southern drawl)"Whah, yeswedosir. Jes like a cockroach on a wedding cake!"
You just can't make these things up
One winter night, going into Norfolk I think, we landed on an essentially iced over runway, managed to just make the last turnoff slipping and sliding all the way. As we exited the runway the Captain gets on the PA and says," Welcome to Norfolk everybody, now you can see why we were delayed departing Atlanta, in the future if your plans call for travel, maybe you'll check the weather first.
6/10 - I just got back from DC. So, here goes:
You may remember my story about the "sailor phone". I had another similar experience this time when I flew to DC. The flight attendant came on and said "The pilot has eliminated the fasten seatbelt sign due to turbulence in the area". I pictured the pilot getting out a gun and shooting out the "fasten seat belt" light, but then I realized that she meant "illuminated." Damn Southern drawls!
Did I mention that I saw Jack Nicholson when I was in Omaha? He was filming his new movie "About Schmidt" on the University of Nebraska campus. He walked right by me. I wanted to do my impression of him for him, but he was in a big hurry to get out of town. Probably a good thing - he'd kick my ass. Guess he couldn't handle the truth...
I have a theory about why the kids from Diff'rent Strokes went nuts - it was because of Sam. (For those of you who don't know, Sam was the annoying red head kid that they brought on the show once Gary Coleman began shaving because the kids weren't cute any more). I was watching Diff'rent Strokes in my hotel the other night, and when Sam showed up with his lisp saying "well, Mithter Thee", I just felt the urge to go kick some ass. I finally cracked the code.
Well, that's about it. I saw Moulin Rouge, but I put our comments in the reviews, so check them out. Otherwise, we'll see you next week!
9/2 - This week:
He should try T-Ball - It was announced this week that Danny Almonte, the much talked about pitcher from the Little League World Series, was actually 14 years old. I can't believe that a coach would go so far as to rig this thing. What's next? Putting some 12 year old little league star in a T-ball league?
Scripted Studio Shuffle? - Was it just me, or did the scuffle at ESPN between Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman a little too convenient? It seemed a little fake to me. Or stupid.
Nothing new this week - Hmmm, bombings in Jerusalem, the Taliban cracking down on non-Islamic religions in Afghanistan. No, nothing new this week.
Stay out of the water - Shark attacks are happening every day. And what public service announcement do I have for you? Stay out of the water! This is what pools are for. Not only are they less polluted than the ocean, you don't have to worry about sharks!
A tenor? - I was forced to listen to Britney Spears the other day (they showed that stupid Pepsi commercial before they showed Jay and Silent Bob at the theater), and I was wondering - I have never heard her voice when it isn't sampled. What does she really sound like? A tenor, perhaps?
Vulcans Don't Cry - Have you seen the pictures of Jolene Blalock as the Vulcan T'Pol in Enterprise? Is it me, or does she look like Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry?
Miscellaneous: Okay, so I have been harping on the way people speak. So, here are some more suggestions based on things I heard and saw this week:
- When reporting about President Bush's visit to speak to the American Legion convention, a CNN anchor said that President Bush spoke to "former veterans". It's like this - if you served in the military, you are a veteran. Until you die. Like it or not. Only when you die, can you be considered a "former veteran". Of course, you'll also be a "former human" at that point.
- I saw a sign for "Mini-Tacquitos". Do you know what a tacquito is? It's a mini-taco. So, I guess a "mini-tacquito" would be a micro-taco? I would like a bowl of mini-tacquitos, please.
2002 Note: I found this one the other day and was shocked when I read my "World" section. Little did I know that just barely a week later, we would all know more than we ever wanted to about the Taliban, and the bombings in Jerusalem would be coming home to us. While I said nothing new was going on in the world, how I wish that things would truly stay in that "nothing new" realm.
9/9 - Miscellaneous: First, you know I hate the new look of CNN Headline News. The only thing good about it is Rudi Bakhtiar, the show's morning anchor. But, something else has changed with this show. I tuned in the other morning and one of the top stories was about the G-Spot (no kidding). This report was sandwiched between the replay of Larry King's interview with Chandra Levy's parents and another sensationalistic story of a shark attack. Later, while surfing, I came across a link for "NakedNews.com" (yes, I am sure you all know about, but if it's not Star Trek or Babylon 5, it sometimes takes me a while). So, I decided, what the heck? I fired up the old Media Player and watched an episode of Naked News. You know what? The quality of news on the Naked News is much better than on CNN Headline News. The day that CNN covered Levy's parents, the G-Spot, and a shark attack, Naked News covered the Afghan refugees in the Pacific, news from the UN conference on racism, and the status of Hurricane Erin. I know it sounds cheesy, but I actually find myself tuning into Naked News for the news! If Naked News were to hire Rudi Bakhtiar, I would never watch CNN again...
2002 Note: If I had to think of one soapbox that caused the most traffic, its this one. The search engines went nuts with the words "Rudi Bakhtiar" and "naked" in the same rant. Immediately after I posted this story, there were around 200 visitors to the soapbox in a single week. All looking for the same thing, which was not here - and they probably were cursing me for days afterwards.
9/16 - This week:
This week, I am deviating from my usual soapbox format to discuss the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
On Tuesday, the first emotion I felt was – none. The song that best sums up my feelings on Tuesday was “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd. I thought the unending videos of the planes slamming into the towers were like a trailer for a really cool movie. Then, my first thought was “Gee, they are going to have to implode those towers, as there will be too much structural damage to rebuild.” Moments after the tragedy started, I was already thinking of rebuilding. But, much to my surprise, the buildings would not have to be demolished – they did that on their own. But, it was hard to feel much emotion. After all, events were occurring so fast at first, that I didn’t have a chance to stop and think about it. When I did get a chance that afternoon, the various replays of the videos had made me desensitized to the entire thing.
Wednesday – Pride. I was proud to be an American, and I was proud of the firefighters, police, and other rescue workers who put themselves in danger to try and save more lives. Seeing the image of the firefighters raising the flag, I was reminded of the Star Spangled Banner. As they say at the end of the second verse: “’Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I was very proud of the men and women of this country. We will remain the land of the free and we will not be afraid of these terrorists, because we truly are the home of the brave.
Thursday – Anger. While everyone else was playing “God Bless the USA”, I played a different song, which had meaning for me. When the USS Cole was being pulled out of the harbor in Yemen, the crew played the National Anthem – followed by “American Bad Ass” by Kid Rock. So, I played “American Bad Ass” as loud as I could over and over to show my support for us to go bombing these guys back to the Stone Age. Unfortunately, the guys already live in the Stone Age. Still, I found myself wanting revenge and vengeance – both for this, but also still for the USS Cole bombing. Just like Kid Rock says in his song, I found myself waving my finger in the air towards the people who committed this crime.
Friday – Peace and Love. I realized that yesterday, I reacted too upset to this attack. Instead of continuing to play Kid Rock, I instead played “Imagine” by John Lennon. The lyrics are really more true now than ever, especially the second verse: "Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/Imagine all the people/Living life in peace... You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one/I hope someday you'll join us/And the world will be as one"
There is too much hate in this world and too much evil. Why all this senseless killing? And will us bombing Afghanistan do anything to stop this? Remember – these are the same people who destroyed the carved stone Buddhas in their country; they bomb their own history, so what can we really do that would send them a message?
No, there is too much hate in this world. And to see Americans calling for the death of Muslims and Arabs or destroying businesses owned by Arab-Americans is terrible. Before you think about acting out against our own people, go rent Schindler’s List and see just how powerful and destructive hate can be. Don’t let hate rule your heart.
So, this is where I am at: I think we need to do something – we were wronged, and if we don’t do something, it will happen again and again. There was the first WTC bombing, then the US Embassies in Africa, and then the Cole. We must stop this, or else it will keep going. But, one of the things that makes us great as Americans is that when it is over with, we will turn around and fix any damage we might have caused. Like at the end of World War II – one of the first things we did was to rebuild Germany and Japan, even after all of the evil things they did to us. It’s compassion. And it’s what makes us Americans. And it will be what gets us through this tragedy.
I am cursed. Plain and simple.
Let's review this week. And for those of you who are wondering why there was no update last week - I was called away on business at a moment's notice for a while.
First, on Monday, I receive word that my resignation from my current government position is on indefinite hold because of the terrorist crisis. Then, on Thursday, though, everything else hit the fan.
Adele came to visit me in St Louis this last weekend, and she brought me my birthday gifts, since I was unable to spend my birthday with her. She bought me a jersey of my favorite hockey team, the Ottawa Senators, along with some other gifts. Since I did not want to have my jersey wrecked in the luggage, I decided to wear it home. I didn't have much room for the other gifts, so I had to spend about an hour packing and repacking my bag until I got everything to fit.
When I arrived at the airport, I found out that since I am traveling on a government ticket, I have to have my check-in bags inspected. The inspector took everything out on display (including my dirty underwear) and then crammed everything into the bag. When I asked about how I felt this "random" inspection wasn't too random, as everyone who was having their bags checked worked for the government, the TWA (The Worst Airline) agent told me "everyone with a government ticket gets their bag checked". So, for the first time that day, I am made to feel like a criminal for working for the government.
Then, as I walk through the metal detector, the guy asks me to remove my shirt, as the hockey jersey could conceal a weapon. So, for the second time, I am made to appear as a criminal although I had no metal on me whatsoever, and there I am - shirtless and humiliated.
As I put on my hockey jersey, the woman at the X-ray machine notices the maple leaves on it and asks if I am an American. I reply that I am. She then asks me to prove it. I tell her, I was born in the US and am traveling domestically from St Louis to San Antonio and that I didn't know I needed my passport with a visa. I showed her my driver's license, but she said that didn't prove I was an American citizen. Then, since she didn't like my sarcasm, I showed her my government ID, which seemed to satisfy her that I wasn't Canadian. Those Canucks must be some big time terrorists...
After I get home, I have to call a cab, as they aren't allowed to wait in front of the airport. Thirty minutes later, a cab finally arrives. The guy says it's an automatic $10 to get home, but it should only be about $5, but whatever. Then, he takes the longest possible way to get home.
When I get home, I go to hop in the car to get my mail. But the battery is dead. I call the Pontiac dealer, who tells me that I can't get the car out of park, so I need to remove the battery. I undo the cables and go to take the battery out the engine, but it doesn't fit. Apparently, you have to pull the battery out the wheel well or something like that. Anyway, this goes on for several hours until a tow truck arrives; the guy puts my battery back into the engine and manages to get the car out of park. At this point, we roll it on the back of his truck to take it to the service station.
But, when we arrive, the service station is closed. Then, the tow driver gets a call that he needs to go to a major accident about 20 miles outside of town, so I have two options: go with him for the evening or start walking. So I walk home five miles.
At this point, I am starving, and I have no car and no food, so I decide that on my way home, I will go to our favorite Chinese restaurant. But, it was closed for a private party.
On Friday, I get my car back, and decide to finally go shopping for my birthday. (Everyone got me gift cards.) I buy a bunch of videogames and CDs and declare Saturday to be "Electronics Day" - nothing but music and videogames and web page updates. But, the power goes out - for over four hours, and so I decide to go to the movies.
You know, it's hard to not feel like someone is out to get you when you have a week like this one.
10/11 - A Soapbox Exclusive: Parallels in History
This was something that came to me one night while falling asleep. I was thinking about the current situation, and this came to me all at once. The fake Nostradamus thing was one thing; however, this is real history with real facts, and the parallels to the current situation are pretty interesting. So without any further ado, here is my thesis:
They say this war will be fought unlike any others in the past.
But they are wrong. The current situation is almost exactly like one that began 87 years ago.
In 1913, the Mexican people were tired of being miserably poor and murdered their President, installing General Huerta, a popular revolutionary in his place. A number of Americans, who had economic interests in Mexico, urged the President to intervene.
Although President Wilson refused to officially recognize the murderous regime, many other countries did. Wilson often referred to Huerta as a “brute”. In 1914, President Wilson authorized the transfer of arms to Huerta’s rivals, Venustiano Carranza and Francisco “Pancho” Villa, in the hopes of ending the Huerta regime.
In April 1914, a number of American sailors were arrested in the seaside city of Tampico. The Mexican’s promptly released the captives, but the American admiral on the scene requested a twenty-one gun salute, which he was denied. After this insult, President Wilson requested the authority to use force on Mexico. Before Congress could act, though, Wilson ordered the Navy to seize the port of Vera Cruz, where a German ship was bound with a shipment of arms for Huerta. At this point, Huerta and Carranza both condemned the U.S. intervention into Mexico.
At this point, though, Argentina, Brazil and Chile mediated and were able to resolve the situation before it escalated into war. In July 1914, the Huerta regime collapsed, and Huerta was replaced by Carranza. However, Carranza had not forgotten about President Wilson’s intervention in what should have been an internal Mexican matter. The U.S. accepted the Carranza regime in October 1915, but soon thereafter Mexican-U.S. relations soured.
However, Pancho Villa soon emerged in the spotlight. Although he was a rival of President Carranza, Villa was very outspoken for his hatred of Americans, whom he referred to as “gringos”. In January 1916, Pancho Villa killed sixteen Americans in cold blood in the Mexican town of Santa Ysabel. Even worse, though, was the attack of in March 1916 by Pancho Villa and his roughly 500 followers (called “the Villistas”) in which they shot up and destroyed the town of Columbus, New Mexico, and leaving seventeen Americans killed.
Immediately, President Wilson ordered General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing to proceed into Mexico with several thousand horse-borne troops and the newly acquired, high tech airplane to break up the group of bandits and capture Pancho Villa. In fact, this was the first time that a tactical air unit had ever been placed in service. In the rugged desert and mountainous terrain of Mexico, though, the airplane had difficulties adjusting to the environment, and thus, had only limited use in the operations.
General Pershing’s forces penetrated deep into Mexico through the difficult terrain, and along the way, they fought repeatedly with both the Villistas and the army of the Carranza regime. Although they had been able to seriously cripple the Villistas, they were unable to ever capture Pancho Villa. In January 1917, the army was withdrawn from Mexico to prepare it for possible use against Germany in what would eventually turn into U.S. involvement in World War I.
As a footnote, Pancho Villa was a hero to the masses of Northern Mexico, due to his defiant stand against the United States and his daringness to attack the U.S. head on. However, he was unable to fight against the social abuses of the Mexican people, and in 1923, he was assassinated by his own people.
Is Osama bin Laden the new Pancho Villa? Is Al Qaeda a new group of bandit thugs not unlike the Villistas? Are there similarities between the Carranza regime and the Taliban regime, in that both were backed by the U.S. against a common enemy, but relations soured soon after they came to power?
Hopefully this time, we will be able to finish this war before getting called away to a bigger one like last time...
2002 Note: This was the one rant I worked the hardest on, and the one with which I received the most feedback. Some of the feedback said that people were enlightened, while other said that they did not see the same parallels as I did. Regardless, I think it stands on its own as one of the best.
Here is just some of the feedback I got (I accidentally lost the rest while cleaning my inbox):
"Great soapbox! Of course, being from a public school, I think I knew more about Puff Daddy's representin' the east coast and his rivalry wiff da west coast posse than I did about the Mexican/American war. But now you've changed that!"
"Yes, there are parallels, but nothing is ever exactly parallel."
11/26 - Nation: Who Inspired Who? - Another semi-serious soapbox. Remember the Trench Coat Mafia? The two messed up kids who terrorized Columbine High School? Well, I was thinking about all of the evil that this country has endured at the hands of terrorists (and yes, I would consider Klebold and Harris as terrorists). Anyway, I am sure that some people would say that Klebold and Harris were partly inspired by stories of terrorists. (And by some people, I would include me). Anyway, I started thinking back to the news stories of Columbine, and I remembered this report in April of 1999 when Klebold and Harris considered doing the unthinkable: "kill about 500 people and then hijack an airliner and crash it into New York City". So, I pose this question - were Klebold and Harris inspired by Al Qaeda - or did they inspire Al Qaeda?
11/28 - Nation: It's all about protection - So there's a story today about how the Child On-line Protection Act (known as COPA, which is not associated with Copaman) debate was presented to the Supreme Court today. The law states that indecent material that should not be viewed by minors is classified by "community standards". Justice Kennedy questioned how community standards could apply to something that has no community; in response, Solicitor General Theodore Olson suggested that he would not object to "national standards", since that is what Congress wanted anyway. You know, I don't get it - national standards for Internet content is good, but national standards for airport security is bad? And you know that national laws won't do anything against foreign sex sites - and as any 11 year old can tell you, the best quality porn sites are in the Netherlands...
11/29 - Nation: It's all about protection, Part 2 - So continuing our look at the COPA law, it states that web site operators will validate visitors' ages by requesting a credit card number. But then there is this story where they show that 94.5% of Americans "have at least some worry that credit card information could be used without their permission". So those of us without kids would never enter our credit card info at some stranger's web site, but those of you with kids - watch out! They're liable to use your credit card like mad. Does anyone remember all the fiasco with 1-900 and 976 numbers in the late 80s where kids were running up $2,000 phone bills on their parents' cards dialing phone sex numbers? Yep, asking for credit card info is really going to protect kids - or will it help entice them to commit credit card fraud?
12/6 - Miscellaneous: You saw it here first and I told you so - CNN released this story about how the Columbine terrorists wanted to crash a plane into New York City, which I spoke about over a week ago on November 26th - do we have a fan of the Soapbox at CNN?
12/17 - Miscellaneous: The Mother of All Soapboxes - Okay, I now have my freedom of speech back. Why, you may ask, did I not have freedom of speech? Well, for the last several years, I was in the military. As a result, I could not talk about federal politics. Since I worked for the President, to speak out against him would be insubordination. So, I was forced to stay quiet during a lot of events, especially during last year's election crisis. I couldn't speak out against the President or any of his cabinet, nor could I speak out against the governor of the state in which I resided, which was Texas. I couldn't say anything about Congress or the Supreme Court, so about the only person I could say anything about was Katherine Harris. Anyway, as a result, there were a number of topics which I did not discuss on this page - but now I can speak out about them:
1. Gays in the military and women in combat - The way I look at it, when the bullets start flying, I don't really give a crap if you are gay, a woman, or even a gay woman! The most important thing to me is that someone has me covered. Now, with that said, there are a number of people I worked with in the military who were only looking out for themselves - I would never trust these people to protect me in combat, because they would only be concerned about protecting themselves. So, if you are gay or a woman and you are going to be looking out for my ass in combat, you are more than welcome to share my foxhole!
2. Missile defense - Do we really need a missile defense? I mean, do you think that Osama would have been so stupid as to use a ballistic missile that could have been instantly tracked back to him? I think everyone used to think that when terrorists attacked, they would claim responsibility and be willing to become martyrs. Instead, they hid as we saw in September 11. Imagine that they had launched a nuke by way of missile - as soon as it launched, we would see exactly where it came from (plus there is a thing called a trajectory which allows you to see where it going and where it came from). Rather, I think that if they wanted to attack us with a nuke, they would just get a long range plane (either hijack a 767 or buy a long-range business jet), load the nuke onboard, and fly it to the target.
3. Federal budget - Every year when I was in the military, we never had a budget passed on time it seemed. It affected people like me very much. I never really took sides with the President or Congress or with Republicans or Democrats - I was just pissed that all sides would use us like pawns. I guess that was when I pretty much decided I would be an Independent.
Now, as far as my trip, here were some interesting observations:
1. West Shore Apartments - I saw an ad for this place somewhere like in Waco. Anyway, I couldn't figure out where there would be a shore in the middle of Texas. I guess the "West Shore" was really a reference to "West Bank" of some river, but then I realized, "West Bank" probably has a very negative connotation associated with it.
2. In Hillsboro, Texas, they ended a work zone that was about 20 miles long - and in less than a half mile, started a new construction zone that was also about 20 miles long. Now, I wonder - why didn't they just make a single construction zone that was like 40 miles long?
3. On December 12th, I heard a commercial for a place that you could order flowers on-line from that said "With Valentine's Day just around the corner..." My God, it's not even Christmas yet, and you are already running ads for Valentine's?!?
4. I saw many "First Baptist Church" signs in various communities as I made my way north. I wonder - how come you never see a "Second Baptist Church" or a "Third Baptist Church"?
5. A lot of Midwestern rednecks worship Dale Earnhart more than they worship Elvis! I saw many cars made up like Dale's car, and multiple tributes to Dale. Even some of the "pissing Calvin" stickers (you know, where the picture of Calvin is pissing on a Ford symbol) now have Calvin sporting a Number 3. I thought I might alienate a number of fans by my harping on Dale and the pissing Calvins, but then I remembered - you have to be literate in order to read this page.
6. How come they don't pronounce Wichita, Kansas as "witch-eat-uh, can-saw"? After all, shouldn't "Wichita" be pronounced like "gordita" and "Kansas" pronounced like "Arkansas"?
7. I stopped in Blackwell, Oklahoma on the way up. You know, if you ever want to experience what it would be like to travel back in time, all you need to do is go to Blackwell, Oklahoma. They don't have fancy shmancy things like computers there. really, there was a woman there who didn't know how to use her mouse.
8. How come trains no longer have cabooses?