GPS monitors

I wish I could say I’m shocked—shocked! Unfortunately, I’m not. Hell, I’m not even especially surprised.
What ignited this rant was an article in the newspaper. I was on page A6 of the Friday, December 16, 2016 edition of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, under the headline “Sex offender guilty in murder of 4 women.” Now, I am not shocked to see that a man has murdered four women…well, actually, yes I am. But it’s not surprising to see he was a registered sex offender and a convicted kidnapper. Not all, perhaps, but it seems like a lot of sex offenders and kidnappers have a problem relating favorably to members of the opposite sex. What almost shocked me in this case, and lit the fuse to this rant, was the fact that the man just found guilty of multiple murders was not only running around loose at the time; he was wearing his fourth—fourth—GPS monitor.

Apparently Steven Dean Gordon, 47 years old, and 30-year-old Franc Cano acted together, but they are being tried separately for four 2013 killings in Santa Ana, California. Gordon has just been found guilty. Cano’s trial has not yet begun, but he has pleaded not guilty.

Now, while the crime of murder is terrible, it does happen—a case of men, and/or women, behaving badly. What got me worked up begins with the fact that Gordon and Cano were registered sex offenders even before they got together after meeting in prison. In 1992, at the age 23, Gordon was arrested and convicted for lewd and lascivious acts with a child below the age of 14 years. Unknown how much time he served, but he was eventually freed, presumably with his first (1st) GPS monitoring device, because in 2002 he was arrested and convicted of kidnapping. Cano was convicted for his initial crime, whatever it was, in 2008. After serving less than eight years for his kidnapping, Gordon was released with a GPS monitor, his second (2nd). At about that time, in or before 2010, Cano was also released with GPS monitoring. It was in 2010 that Cano cut off his device and took off to Alabama where he got together with Gordon, who presumably had already done the same thing, because they were both arrested there for removing their devices. Back in California in 2012, both apparently free again and with GPS monitoring (Gordon’s 3rd), they were both arrested for doing the same thing again, removing their devices. So, what punishment do you suppose they got? Maybe pick up trash along the freeway on weekends? Even if they spent a weekend, a month or a year in the county jail, they had already demonstrated more than once that they don’t consider the device as a deterrent to fun and games. Well, would you believe they were again released into the world with GPS monitoring devices (Gordon’s 4th)? It was after this release—while wearing their devices—that they kidnapped, raped and murdered four women. That’s how they got caught. Wow! Isn’t science great?

So, how long do you have to serve for the crime of removing your device? Is it a crime? How many chances should a person have to demonstrate that he is willing to play by the rules society has set before we say, “Okay, you blew it, no more releases.”? Why isn’t this offense covered by three-strikes? If it is, who failed to notice? Doesn’t anyone take those things seriously? Are they actually monitored? How closely? Is that all the monitoring system is good for, to keep a record of where and when the person has been in order to get a conviction after they do something else, like kill four women?

Is this the best we can come up with to keep tabs on depraved low-lifes like these two? Why do we use devices they can cut off whenever they get tired of being watched and want to start playing their sick games again? Why don’t we use something nailed or otherwise permanently affixed to their foreheads for all to see? Okay, forget the nails, but surely modern science can come up with something, maybe something like a permanently running camera with a microphone so we can actually monitor their actions from every angle at every moment, waking or sleeping. How about if we attach the new and improved monitoring system to them so it can’t be removed without also removing one or more significant limbs? Maybe we could even include something to inflict a paralyzing shock to them if they are seen to be about to do something naughty, something to hold them until we can swoop in to haul their ass back to the pokey. You know, since we don’t want to actually lock them away forever?

And, why don’t we? Oh, yeah, because they’re sick. At least some folks might say these men are sick. But some illnesses are nothing more than evil, incurable and untreatable. And, if they are sick, what about people with things like Ebola and other highly infectious and potentially deadly diseases? They’re sick, too, and they haven’t even kicked a puppy, probably very nice people, but they aren’t allowed to wander about the country with nothing more than a removable device to tell us where to find the bodies they leave in their wake—unless they cut it off. Why are sickos like Gordon and Cano, who still have the option to decide whether or not to allow their afflictions to affect other people, given such freedom? I’m a big believer in the rights our Constitution guarantees, but I don’t believe Adams, Jefferson, Madison or any of the other founders would agree that this situation is one of them.
No, I don’t believe the system is broken. But, in some cases, it is badly out of whack.

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Surge in gun sales

Well, we did it. We actually passed a law limiting, to a degree, how much access the people of California may have, or be required to tolerate, to a certain type of firearm: automatic rifles with features generally accepted to describe assault weapons. It’s only a ban on new sales, though. Any such guns already owned may still be kept as long as they are registered (yeah, that’ll happen). Of course, as typically happens, the bill that Governor Brown signed back in July doesn’t take effect until January. Now there are headlines spreading the shocking news that, with lines of eager buyers backed up out the doors of gun shops and around the block, the new law is responsible for the six-month-long surge in the sale of these very toys…er, rifles. I think the proper response to this revelation is something akin to, Duh!

What the hell did they expect? It happens every time there’s a push for any kind of gun control, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. Of course anyone that wants to have one of these lethal toys is going to take advantage of the six-months warning that they had better get on with it. If they wait ‘til January, they’ll have to drive all the way to another state to buy it.

As I understand it, the reason for this law is to reduce the ready availability of a very real, clear and present source of death and misery in California. Seems to me that would qualify it for emergency status. You know, pass it to be effective immediately, like the following day, a week at the most. While waiting for these six months to drag by, we have seen more than an additional 250,000 of these lethal toys hit the streets of California, or at least potentially on the streets since most will probably go into closets, hopefully with good locks. And, yes, these steel, wood and/or fiberglass creations are toys. You don’t think so? Look up the definition of toy.

Just because a good, honest citizen is the buyer, you know, doesn’t mean a weapon, whether firearm, knife, hatchet or whatever, will not be used in a crime. Honest people commit crimes. Does that really shock you? Then, think about it. It is only after they commit the crime that they are no longer honest and honorable. Criminals start off as honest people. They are not born as criminals. They are not a separate species. They don’t have tattoos or green hair or three ears to set them off from the rest of society. There is no way to identify who is or who may become a criminal just by looking at them. They are people that take a wrong turn somewhere along the road. Sometimes they use the weapon they bought while still honest and non-violent to become a criminal because it is there so nice and handy when they get the urge to blow someone away—an urge that may dissipate before being acted upon given time. Sometimes the weapon is simply stolen from an honest person by someone who is already a criminal. Criminals also steal. Of course, if the honest person didn’t have it, the criminal couldn’t steal it, and he’d have to find another honest person that did have one that he could steal, if he could find such a person.

But, the thing is, the argument that this law will only affect honest people, not criminals, is bogus. It’s like this: If there were no guns, no one would get shot, period. But, since that is not going to happen—there will always be guns because there already are—any reduction in the increase and spread of guns, especially certain ultra-efficient types, available to criminals or those who may become criminals would still have a direct effect in the number of criminal uses. If there were 250,000 fewer assault weapons in a given area, say only 1,000,000 instead of 1,250,000 it would mean 250,000 fewer assault weapons available for criminals to use in that area. Of course, that’s not counting shotguns, assault weapons and muskets brought into the area from other areas, which is another issue, but with the same potential solution of reducing that area, also, by 250,000, or any number. It wouldn’t solve the whole problem, but it would be a start. A journey not begun, you know, is one never completed.

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned the Second Amendment. I haven’t because it is not part of this issue, which is about the effects and the wisdom of delaying the implementation of a new law. It could equally apply to a law about…oh, say requiring red shoes worn on the right foot to have green laces, not blue ones. If there were a recognized serious health or safety reason for the restriction, why would we agree to give as many as 250,000 red shoe owners six months to stock up on blue laces? Oh, yeah, financial hardship for the stores selling shoelaces, as well as the factory producing them at an increased rate, all of which would be stuck with the huge inventories of blue laces they all stockpiled when their market forecasters saw the goldmine the writing on the wall predicted with the new law that was probably coming.

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Re-release of Refuge

It’s done! Edition three of REFUGE is completed and available on Amazon Kindle as well as in paperback.  It even has a bold new cover that reflects one of the revisions, the shape of the invader’s star-ships.  But that’s only a minor point.  I’ve fleshed out some earlier scenes that tended to be on the lean side, and adjusted the level of graphic malevolence, including less flesh, that brought me some (well-deserved) criticism.  All of this resulted in the arc of the story being altered to accommodate how the revised climax goes down.  It took me a bit of time, lots of effort, and much enjoyment.  But, what the hey, writing is fun!  And because it was so much fun, plus the fact that the original was not my best writing, and because the revision’s effects will carry through to RAVEN and further sequels, I also did a revision of RAVEN, although not so extensively.

kindle-cover REFUGERefuge cover

 

 

 

So, if you have read REFUGE and were turned off, give Edition Three a look.  If you haven’t read it, and if you like the genre and the type of story, please–jump right in.  There’s a whole series waiting for you.  RAVEN’s revision, Edition Four, is also now available on Kindle and paperback.  The next sequel, titled WOLFEHAVEN is in the last phases (I hope) and should be out soon.

Stuff in the news

I took a break from working on the revisions of one of my books by browsing through my Santa Rosa newspaper, The Press Democrat. Now, there were lots of things in there that were worthy to pass along, but I’m not going to copy the whole paper in my blog, just the stuff that grabbed my attention, pulled me back to re-read the headline and demanded I read the entire article. After each one, I just sat there and mourned the human race.

These first three were in the Friday, July 15, 2016, issue. I’m not going to reproduce them here, just the gist.

On page A3 I found a great illustration of the term “how dumb can you be?” In response to a report of one or more small fires in a mobile home park, the emergency responders went from home to home to make sure nothing was overlooked. When they checked one of them, they found something that prompted them to evacuate the park. Sitting on the window sill of a bedroom was a device consisting of several unmarked sticks in brown paper wrappings and held together with a couple of strips of black tape. Attached to them was a small electronic board with various components and wires, a couple going into the end of one of the brown sticks. Mounted on top was a digital read-out with four spaces of red numbers. A photo of this thing accompanied the article. It sure looked like a bomb, at least the ones Hollywood puts in movies. The bomb squad destroyed it. When they finally contacted the resident, who was away at work at the time, they were told it was an alarm clock he had bought on line a few years ago…as a joke. Ha ha ha. Gosh, that’s funny. I’ll bet the firemen are still laughing.

On page A5 was a story about a couple of guys that chased Pokemon phantoms right off a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. How could you not notice the Pacific Ocean? Anyway, neither was killed, but they had to be rescued. Hope they were billed for the entire cost of the rescue–times two for stupidity in progress. I can see this whole Pokemon situation is going to get a lot worse before it goes the way of the Pet Rock. At least I never heard of anyone being attacked, bitten or otherwise injured by a Pet Rock.

On page A6 was a story that put a really sour feeling in my gut. A mother and a father thought it was appropriate parenting to send their children, ages 4, 5 and 6 years, into the desert in the area of Twenty-nine Palms and Palm Springs in Southern California. Apparently they decided the children needed to be punished for something any 4, 5 or 6 year-old should know better than to do, not do, or otherwise behave in an adult manner. And just to be sure the kids didn’t cheat in their learning their lesson, Mom and Dad sent them into the hot sand and cactus-strewn wilderness without shoes or water. I can tell you from personal experience that the sand down there gets down-right toasty in the summer. The children learned their lessons for 45 minutes before being rescued by a deputy. It didn’t say if Mom and Dad were going to be taught a lesson in parenting, just that they had been arrested.

Ah, me. What is my species coming to?

In Sunday’s paper, July 17, 2016, was a Close To Home piece by Jill Ravitch, Sonoma County District Attorney. She made some good points relating to the release and posting on the internet of videos from body-cams worn by police officers. While I agree with lots of folks that some of the ones that have been shown seem to be pretty clear in showing bad police conduct, I have to point out that almost all of them are incomplete. They begin part way into the incident, leaving the behavior leading up to what everyone can see to their imagination or to what supposed eye-witnesses swear happened. But then I remember how I learned in my days wearing a badge that eye-witness testimony is about the least reliable kind of evidence you can have. Everyone sees what they think they see, convincing themselves even more every time they think about it or tell about it that it happened just that way. Maybe even, unintentionally or not, embellishing it here and there–just to make everything that doesn’t fit, fit. I also agree with lots of folks that there are cops that shouldn’t be wearing badges, and I’ll be the first one to rip the star or shield off their uniform if they are proven to be wrong. I’ve known and worked with a couple. But I also know that incidents of bad police behavior are rare. There are lots of points and counterpoints to made in this subject, and it should continue to be thoroughly and thoughtfully discussed. However, the point I want to make here is something everyone seems to be overlooking. If the video from a body-cam is posted on the internet, incomplete as it is in showing enough of what happened to be able to establish just what did happen, how much harder is it going to be to get a jury of 12 people, plus alternates, that have not been biased. And if the video does show the entire incident, start to finish and leaving nothing out (by all appearances) it could be even harder to form a jury of unbiased peers. So, if either side, whether the arrestee punching a cop or the cop punching the arrestee, is charged with a crime, would a fair trial be possible? If a conviction is based largely or primarily on what is in the video that has been on the internet for a year or so by the time it gets to court, how good would a defense attorney have to be to get a reversal at the appellate or supreme court. Would you like to have your guilt or innocence decided on the internet? How about your son’s or daughter’s? Your grandchild’s? Just ponder that for a bit.

And to close out, here is my latest rant, published in Sunday’s paper, July 17, 2016.

EDITOR: Among the many qualities Donald Trump claims is that he is a hugely successful businessman. That he has been, in fact, successful is a whole different issue. But should huge success in business be a plus or a minus in our choosing a person for the position of President of the United States? Because the basic goals of each endeavor are practically opposites, the two call for very different skills, ethics and values. While the ultimate focus of a successful business must be on the bottom line, government at any level should not even have a bottom line on which to focus other than zero. The ideal outcome for any elected government is to come out neutral at the end of the fiscal year, and that is after meeting all requirements of the society in which the leaders are elected. Discrepancy in either direction equals incompetence. When a government or government agency tries to operate like a business seeking a profit, we wind up with a situation like at the University of California where out of state students often receive preference over those from within the state because they pay more. A shark is a hugely successful predator, but do we want him in charge of the pool?

Political donors

While browsing through the newspaper, I came upon a letter to the editor written by James Martin that caused me to stop, read it again, and make a note to myself. It was a short letter in relation to most, and it didn’t really make any new revelations, but the point it made reverberated with me. It addressed an issue that has often been in the news since the U. S. Supreme Court made their astounding decision known as Citizens United, but I don’t recall this particular impact being stated so clearly or in such a succinct manner.

Rather than paraphrasing and possibly (or probably) losing the impact I felt, I will reproduce the entire letter here. It was published in The Press Democrat newspaper in Santa Rosa, California, on Friday, July 1, 2016, under the heading Foreign Donors as follows:

“EDITOR: Since “corporations are people too, my friend,” as Mitt Romney once said, and it’s illegal for foreigners to contribute to American political campaigns, does that mean that corporations that undergo inversion (buying a company in, say, Canada, then moving its headquarters there to avoid U.S. taxes) are allowed to continue to contribute to U.S. politicians and their campaigns?

James Martin
Santa Rosa”

I don’t know Mr. Martin, but it seems to be a fair question. And it is one that might give you a sour feeling in your stomach if you think more than twice about it. It’s a question I’d like to hear answered by those who think Citizens United was a good and legitimate use of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Revised edition of Refuge

For those of you who have been wondering where the hell I’ve been, the answer is…right here; although, I’ve been sorta tied up.
I was told a couple of times after my first book, Refuge, came out, that it was a bit…intense. My answer at the time was along the lines of, “Well, it wasn’t written for kids.” But I kept those critiques in mind as I progressed to the sequel, Raven, and then to the other books, and I held the intensity down where I could and still tell the story I wanted to tell.
Well, recently I went back into Refuge for something, and as I was reading through it, I was astounded at the number of typos and errors in flow, composition, word choice, and spots of plain sloppiness and ineptitude that jumped out at me. Actually, I wasn’t so much astounded as embarrassed. Did I really publish this thing? Yeah, I told myself, and I can’t blame anyone else.
So, what I did was put on hold my current, multi-tasking projects, which were the next and subsequent sequels after Raven. I am now in the middle of reviewing, revising, re-editing, and looking forward to soon re-publishing Refuge. It will still not be a kid’s book, but I am backing off a bit on the graphic intensity, even to the extent of altering a major story-line arc or two. It’s still not pablum, but I think it may go down a bit smoother for some. And for the rest of you, if anyone cares to look at the new and improved version, as well as all future readers, I hope I’ve learned enough with the writing I’ve done since first publishing Refuge that this one will be an easier, more satisfying read. I’ve still got a bit to do on it, but it shouldn’t be too long.

Book promotions

Free seems to be a pretty popular word, so I’ll use it.

FREE! FREE! FREE!

Well, actually, I should have used only two “FREE”s. They would be for two of my published e-books on Kindle, “WHAT IF” and “AND CRAWLING THINGS LURK”.
Starting tomorrow, April 5, and running through April 9, they will both be free.
Such a deal! Check ’em out.

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N. Korea imprisons American tourist

When the Democratic (?) People’s Republic of Korea passed sentence on a tourist on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, they once again demonstrated to the world that they are about the best example around of the term, “Evil Empire.” Some weeks ago, it seems, a 21 year old American man, a University of Virginia undergraduate student no less, demonstrated that Americans can be about the best example of the term, “clueless arrogance.” While I truly have sympathy for the family and friends of Otto Warmbier, it is hard not to slowly shake my head and solemnly intone, “Did he really think what he was about to do was nothing but a harmless, college stunt to show his girlfriend back home how gutsy he is, and that if he was actually caught, that the government of North Korea would simply wag a finger at him and say, ‘Ah, these college kids’?”

Apparently, he was caught trying to steal a propaganda banner as a trophy and memento of his trip. Stealing a propaganda banner from a country that was ready to launch nukes over a Hollywood movie that made fun of their (tyrant for life) president. Stealing a propaganda banner from a country that uses propaganda along with threats of nuclear holocaust as their primary method of communication with the outside world. Hell, why not go for spectacular? Make a sidewalk chalk portrait of Mohamed in downtown Tehran?

I have to wonder why anyone, other than a dedicated diplomat on a directed mission from his government would visit North Korea, anyway. I know many people do, but why? The government of North Korea apparently wonders the same thing since they are ready to arrest and accuse about anyone that does visit of being spies, even dedicated diplomats on directed missions.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s the thrill of seeing how close a person can dare to get to the crumbly edge of the precipice, sort of like plummeting to the earth while wearing a suit about as aerodynamic as a flying squirrel and zooming between rock pillars or down-hill skiing in prohibited areas where a person can see if he can skim the moss off of tree bark without exchanging an arm for it. Is it that some people, mostly Americans, it seems, have the idea that they can do whatever they want when they travel about the world because they just want to make the most of their trip and they don’t really mean to cause harm and they can do stuff like that at home without spending the next fifteen years at hard labor in prison. And why are the edges of precipices allowed to get so crumbly, anyway?

When are Americans, and anyone else, going to realize there are places in this world that are plain not welcoming. These places don’t operate with the same rules and values as here at home. They sometimes do things to outsiders that you have to wonder isn’t simply a deliberate provocation for war, but is more probably just more fuel in their furnace of bluff and bluster to make the world believe they are too terrible to mess with. They may even believe it, themselves. But the thing is, because they can do it, they will. And if a clueless tourist happens to get caught in the tangle, well, he just adds value to the game.

Listen, now, kids, because this is important, and you may be tested later. When you travel abroad, take your wonder and your awe with you because there are some marvelous things to experience in the world. But leave behind your arrogance, your juvenile sense of humor, your daring-do. People in most countries around the world have a sense of national pride at least as great as that of Americans, and usually justifiably so. Don’t belittle their country. Experience it and admire it, maybe even brag about your own, but not at the expense of theirs. Their own sense of humor may be very different from yours, so don’t expect or demand that your joke is appreciated. Listen to their jokes and learn a new culture that may be as good as what you left back home, and is most likely much older. And please, please, please leave behind the idea that you can–should–are expected to–leave behind a mark to prove you were there. It is so not cool to make your own carving next to one left by a neolithic ancestor or etch your own version of runes on a Stonehenge monolith. I can almost hear the plaintiff cry, “Why is everyone mad at me? It was just a joke. Don’t you people have a sense of humor? All I did was draw a stupid mustache on an old picture that wasn’t all that good, anyway.” as the guards at the Louvre in Paris escort a clueless tourist away from the Mona Lisa.

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Modification to prior Imminent release of book

1471764_604195889617135_602536041_n facebook photoOops. Seems the release of Wolfehaven is not quite imminent. In fact, it will be delayed for some time. During the time I took to ponder the situation, it occurred to me that I was getting ahead of myself. Actually, ahead of the story-line of Refuge Omnibus. Yeah, I could have gone ahead and skipped six years into the future after the events of Raven, but that would mean missing out on all the things that happen during that period. Then, I would have to either just forget about including those stories or pulling a Star Wars and inserting them later. But I’m not sure that is such a great idea. A lot of folks probably like what Lucas did, but I didn’t so much. Maybe I’m too linear, but I think flash-backs are best when used for the betterment of the story-telling, not to cover the mistakes of the author. Not that George made a mistake by starting his series with number four and inserting one through three later. Maybe he never intended to include what took place in the first three episodes and was talked into it to keep the gold mine in operation. Maybe it was only after getting to the end of the series that he got the idea for what occurred in the times before the original starting point and thought, “What the hell, maybe people won’t notice.”
In any case, I’m not going that route. Not yet, anyway.
So, Wolfehaven has been set aside. It is still a good–no, a great story–but its time has not yet come. Instead, the next installment in the saga of Jason Wolfe’s search for Refuge will pick up where Raven left off. I am well into the story-line, which I won’t divulge at this time, but it is going well. Be aware, also, that I have at least one more pre-Wolfehaven episode to do before I allow those six years to pass undocumented.
My sincere apologies for this screw-up. I was looking forward to it, myself, because Wolfehaven really is a good story. I do hope this little bump in the road won’t cause you readers to abort your journey through Refuge Omnibus.

Musing

Sometimes it’s hard getting through a newspaper without having to grab a pencil and jotting down a few opinions. Sometimes they make enough sense and are relevant enough to post. More often they don’t, so I just lay them aside. When I read them later, I often toss them into the round file, but sometimes they strike a chord. Sometimes it depends on what things have been making recent headlines. And, then, sometimes I just go back through them and get all worked up again. When that happens, I think…yeah, post it.

Here are a few short ones:

Leave or stay in Iraq

Should we delay leaving Iraq? That’s a question we’ve been asking for a few years. Should we leave thousands, or even hundreds of troops there for yet another year to keep trying to arm, train and advise the Iraqis to step forward as one and protect their own? If we give guns to any three Iraqis, two of them will shoot either each other or the third. A bloodbath may be unavoidable whenever we do leave for good. Remember the chaos surrounding the last chopper out of Saigon? It’s a different world now with different issues, sorta, but the result may look the same. We have already delayed a decade even as we vainly tried to justify going there in the first place. Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution once said he would “wait until we have an Iraqi government, and do it with the Iraqis together.” Well, I suppose it’s conceivable there might be an efficient, effective Iraqi government someday, somewhere, just not in Iraq, at least not until sometime after Hell freezes over, although probably before there is peace in Israel. Unless another Saddam comes along and is allowed to beat and bash Iraq into the single nation we are insisting upon, one once again held together by the brutality of a steel fist, the chances of a unified, let alone functional, national government over all of Iraq is about as likely as one in Afghanistan.

Tribal Conflicts

I have come to the conclusion that the problems in the Middle-east, Africa, and most other areas in the world are not solvable by methods that the civilized world is willing to use. Those societies are still based on tribal law, whatever that may be. Problem is, with more than one tribe involved, more than one set of laws are pushed. Then it’s a matter of which tribe is strong enough to force their laws on every other tribe. No matter what advances these countries make, any disputes will be settled in the only way they know: by whichever tribe is strong enough to push their solution to fruition and God, Allah, or Zeus help the local innocents if either side has access to modern weapons. Civilized (?) countries may become involved because of natural resources or strategic locations that might affect their national security, but there is only one way to end the tribal wars that result in so much brutal slaughter. A national leader from the area involved, if it is to remain a sovereign nation, must rise to power and exert such brutality in his enforcement of whatever laws he deems appropriate that everyone else stops fighting and cowers in fear. Remember Sadam Huisain? When it comes right down to it, most cultures in this world cannot be trusted with weapons more advanced than sharp knives, and dull ones would be better.

Re: Complaints of women wearing yogi pants in Montana (did you hear about this one?)

One or more guys (I don’t remember just who they were) up in Montana got all worked up about women wearing tight–really tight–pants, the kind that don’t leave a whole lot to the imagination. I guess all those womanly shapes are giving them too many ideas; the kind righteous, married men shouldn’t be having. And, of course, the fault is all on the women, not the guys. Yeah! If a woman is assaulted it’s her own fault for putting temptation right out there where a guy can’t avoid it! Right? Yeah! Apparently, that’s the thinking behind all the good reasons the women in the middle east have to wear enough to make a person have to guess what gender they are, except that a man over there certainly wouldn’t wear such a thing. Over the centuries, even a lot of the women over there don’t feel comfortable unless they are covered over. Do all men have as much trouble resisting their own lurid impulses as those in fundamentalist worlds where a woman, a supposed creation of God, must always conceal her body beneath shapeless tents in order for men to not be exposed to temptation, or is it just the righteous few? Did God really create what He did and then give it all to men, and that everything is for men to use or abuse as they see fit? Are men really so great, so deserving? Yeah? Well, why? Is God really so petty and devious that He created women’s beauty to be a temptation against which men are tested daily? Is God really so small? Could a god so small create something as grand as the universe—or even conceive of it? Or did God, in creating the universe, create men and women and all the rest from tsetse flies and butterflies to vales and whales, from quarks to quasars, so that they all may exalt in the beauty and magnificence of all existence, and in so doing, in His? If there is a God, I would find this latter description much easier to accept of the author of all creation.

And, then, there’s this. Are we alone?

As inspiring as a lot of letters, papers and declared opinions might be regarding the chances, hopes, and/or fears (?) of ever discovering evidence of life anywhere other than Earth, they still present the concept of finding life “out there” as an “if” proposition instead of a “when.” Okay, I understand a fact is a fact only after it is proven, but come on!
Don’t you think it’s sorta presumptuous to think the entire universe was created just for us. We can’t even see a vast majority of it. Try this: Imagine some of the microbes on a crystal of silica containing exactly 147 facets in the middle of a southern California beach look out at all the other grains of sand close enough to see and opine that microbial life is probably there, too, given the vast number of potential grains. But, ignoring trillions of grains stretching out in all directions, other microbes reject that possibility, arguing that their creation in the deposit of whatever it was that plopped onto their grain could only have happened by divine intervention, thus they are unique on all the beach, plus on all other beaches, as some claim to exist, although probably in some other dimension since there is obviously not room in creation for more than one beach. And besides, they point out, in all the thousands of grains they have looked at, none are crystals of silica with 147 facets, which is obviously an absolute requisite for life to occur at all.
Could happen.

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