Archive for July, 2012

NEWS LINKS: Botched DEA sting leaves business owner hurting

by Staff Monkeys

The owner of a small Texas trucking company got a shock recently when he got a phone call telling him that one of his drivers had been killed in truck — which was loaded with illegal drugs. The owner thought his truck was in the shop, but the truth was more complicated. The DEA was using his truck and employee in a drug-running sting — all without his knowledge. The truck required more than $100,000 in repairs after being abused in the operation, but the DEA doesn’t want to admit involvement, much less pay.

  • The airport in Sacramento, Calif., might become the third largest airport in the country to ditch TSA employees and hire a private company to do security screening. Of course, the way the law is written, the TSA would still get to manage the operation.
  • If you have a long commute to work, you have to give up something else. Do you spend less time with family? Less time on exercise? Less time on television? If you know modern Americans, you know they’ll cut back on anything other than television.

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Mississippi church turns back clock by refusing to marry black couple

by David McElroy

When a couple in Mississippi recently set their wedding date, they thought they were looking at dates in July of 2012. But some members of their church looked at the calendar and thought it said 1965.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson had been attending the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs together and had planned to join the congregation after they were married. They reserved the church for their wedding weeks in advance and invitations were sent. Then the couple got news that no one in 2012 would have expected.

The Rev. Stan Weatherford told them that some people in the congregation objected to a black couple being married there. They were told that no black couple had ever been married by the church since its founding in 1883. The pastor said certain powerful people in the church had let him know he would be fired if he went ahead with the wedding.

The couple were married on the day they had chosen and Weatherford still married them, but the ceremony was moved down the street to another church — one with a black congregation.

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NEWS LINKS: Scalia says court may allow additional gun restrictions

by Staff Monkeys

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told Fox News on Sunday that the U.S. Supreme Court might allow states to place more restrictions on gun ownership than are currently allowed. He implied that he thinks further restrictions would be acceptable in some cases. Since Scalia’s is among the court’s most consistent conservatives, it was an ominous signal for what might be ahead for gun rights.

  • If you’re unclear about what to do when someone starts shooting a gun in a public place, perhaps we need you out of the human gene pool anyway. But in case you don’t know, you might find yourself fascinated by this six-minute video that the city of Houston has just released on the subject. So what are you supposed to do? Run if you can. Hide if you can. Fight if you must. We thought those would be pretty basic and obvious things that humans do by instinct, but maybe it’s just monkeys who are born knowing this stuff. You’ll be happy to know that federal “homeland security” money was used to produce the video.
  • Are you addicted to caffeine in one form or another? Here’s a simple explanation of what the drug is really doing in your brain — along with why it seems to help you and why the effect you want becomes harder to get.

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Thinking about death is a quick way to get honest clarity about life

by David McElroy

Six months ago today, I had surgery to remove cancer in my left breast. It was an episode so far out of my normal experience of life that it almost seems as though it never happened. And now, six months later, one of my best friends is going in for major surgery today, too.

When I had my brush with cancer, I didn’t think I was going to die, but I knew it was a possibility. As my friend goes in for some serious surgery, I don’t expect her to die, either, but I know that she could die. We all react differently to the idea of death. Some people get depressed. Some people think of others they’ve lost. It has a different effect on me. It makes me think seriously about life.

(If you weren’t around for my cancer scare last January, here’s the article in which I first discussed it. And here’s what I wrote as I was going in for surgery that day.)

I don’t know about you, but I have a terrible habit of taking life for granted. There have been certain chunks of my life when I’ve absolutely wasted my time, simply because it seemed as though my time was almost limitless. When I’ve done that, I’ve felt bored and unfulfilled. I think that’s one of the real causes of some people turning to various kinds of drugs or other addictions. (For me, the addiction was sugar. I’ve written before about feeling like a “sugarholic.”)

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NEWS LINKS: Oregon man jailed for collecting rainwater on own land

by Staff Monkeys

An Oregon man has three small ponds on his 170 acres of land that collect rainwater that he uses on the land. One of the ponds has been there for 37 years. But the state has told him that he doesn’t own rainwater or snow runoff. The state owns it, so he’s been fighting over the issue for 10 years — and has now been sentenced to 30 days in jail over it.

  • The New York Times had a “news analysis” this week that attempted to tie the theater shootings in Colorado to the violent movies made over the years by Warner Brothers. They actually seem to be serious. We assume they’re arguing that James Holmes became a psychiatric patient because of watching Warner films. Yeah. That’s it.
  • It appears that we might be paying extra at retailers when we use plastic instead of cash. Because retailers are charged a fee every time we use a credit card or debit card, it appears that they’re set to start charging that fee — amounting to about 3 percent of the purchase price — to us.

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NOTEBOOK: Are Romney, Obama running for president or king?

by David McElroy

Cleaning out the notebook…

I was in a restaurant a couple of days ago when one of the news channels showed a Mitt Romney speech live. I quit watching political speech long ago (even before I quit working in the field), so I’m not subjected to these things very often. It was brutal.

First, I can’t imagine why anyone would intentionally force himself to listen to such self-serving nonsense. From the way he talked, you’d think Romney believes he could just walk into the Oval Office and magically make anything possible, maybe by spreading pixie dust around the place. I found myself thinking that he sounds like a man who believes he’s running for king instead of someone running for president (at least in the constitutional sense).

Barack Obama is just as bad, of course. The sad reality is that people today seem to want that. They want someone to promise them everything, even if it’s not even remotely possible that the candidate elected can deliver. It’s disturbing.

It was a year ago this past week when I woke up to find that the hits on this site had already tripled the previous daily record by about 7 a.m. Unknown to me, one of my stories had been linked that morning by Instapundit, one of the most popular political blogs among libertarians and conservatives. The story was picked up by many other major blogs and even national radio talk shows, and by the end of the day, my story about an Alabama coal mine operator “going Galt” at a public environmental hearing had been read 30,000 times.

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NEWS LINKS: Man pulls concealed gun to stop bloody knife attack

by Staff Monkeys

Gun-control advocates don’t want you to pay attention to stories such as this one. When a man went into a store and bought a knife, he immediately started using it to stab people, injuring several seriously. Fortunately, a customer had a gun, so he pulled it and forced the attacker to drop the weapon. Tell us again why law-abiding citizens shouldn’t have guns? Things such as this happens more often than you might realize.

  • After Google was caught keeping private information pulled out off of individuals’ WiFi networks, the company promised angry European and Australian regulators that it would delete the data. Oooops. It turns out that the company didn’t keep its promise. Isn’t this the company that used to say, “Don’t be evil”?
  • For the second time this week, we have reason to believe that Skype is no longer as private as it used to be. The company used to brag that the design of its network made it impossible for anyone to snoop. Skype officials couldn’t obey government wiretap orders even if they wanted to, because it wasn’t technically possible. Since being bought by Microsoft, though, Skype’s service has been changed to share with police and governments.

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Intelligent, well-meaning people can frequently pull in opposite directions

by David McElroy

One of the persistent myths of modern civic life is that well-meaning people can always work out disagreements if they’ll just sit down and talk about things. There’s this odd notion that as long as we have free speech, there’s a “marketplace of ideas” and the best ideas will win through high-minded discussion among intelligent people.

That’s sheer fantasy. It’s not how the real world works and it never will be.

The idea seems to be that intelligent, rational, well-meaning people are naturally going to gravitate to the same answers, because … well … there’s obviously one right way, if we’ll just be smart enough to find it. That’s an idiotic idea, and it leads people to be angry with one another and think other people are stupid. We all think our ideas are obviously right, so if other people don’t agree with us, they’re clearly stupid or dishonest. Right?

I’m reminded of this again because of a flood of people here on the site from the Christian Left who ran across an article I wrote recently about them. Starting Friday night, thousands of people were suddenly reading that article from a couple of weeks ago and it was suddenly hit by dozens of comments, some polite, some angry, some disparaging, but all vehemently disagreeing. A few people with views more similar to mine responded, but there wasn’t any real dialogue. I was writing at the time and didn’t have time to try to engage, so I mostly observed. It was interesting. (You might want to take a look at the article and especially the comments as context for the rest of what I have to say.)

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FRIDAY FUNNIES

by David McElroy

The doctors had been on strike for several days before anyone figured out what was going on, because nobody could read their picket signs.

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NEWS LINKS: Does Rahm Emanuel see antisemitism as ‘Chicago value’?

by Staff Monkeys

Just a day after attacking Chick-fil-A for not representing “Chicago values,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel welcomed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan sending an army of men to help patrol the streets of the city. Apparently, Farrakhan’s well-known antisemitism isn’t a problem. It must be one of those “Chicago values” he likes to talk about.

  • This New Yorker article is long, but it’s well-reported and worth your time to read. It looks carefully at the situation in Afghanistan and asks whether the country will fall into civil war after the U.S. pullout. (We don’t think the current government will survive for long, but what do monkeys know?)
  • Women, are you attracted to athletic men with muscles? Well, you might be making a serious mistake, because a new study claims that muscular men make much worse boyfriends, on average.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

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David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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