Better than The Price Is Right

I’ve been a bit absent from RollingDoughnut over the last week or so, all for good reason. I’ll have a little time over the rest of March to explain, but unfortunately, tonight is not the time. I’m preparing for Spring Training 2004, so I have little time to detail the happenings in my life. Not to leave you hanging while I’m gone over the next few days, I’d like to offer a highlight from my recent trip to Buffalo.

While visiting Niagara Falls, Danielle, Melissa, and I explored Clifton Hill. This is Canada’s response to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is tremendous, but it’s no Clifton Hill. In my four days in Vegas, I never found a great arcade to rival Great Canadian Midway. The best part of this entertainment extravaganza is this from the Great Canadian Midway website: “With over 250 games that give out tickets to win fabulous prizes.”

We enjoyed these games and won our tickets. 595 tickets, to be exact. Because the people of Canada are so quaint and nice, they let us walk out with 600-tickets-worth of fabulous prizes.

Included in this bounty was the skull candle holder I selected. This is a real beaut compared to the normal spider ring selection of fabulous prizes, so I couldn’t wait to get home and fire up the candles.

Yesterday, I undertook this adventure with much excitement bubbling below the surface of my 4-year-old mind. Fire! Fire! The candle was lit. Spooky!

Then I realized that there may be a flaw in the plan. Have a look at the reality of my fabulous prize. I still heart my fabulous prize.

I heart Free Speech

What a concept… The National Cable Television Association announced that it will “provide free equipment to allow subscribers to block unwanted channels”. Here are some details:

The offer is directed to about half the nation’s 70.5 million cable subscribers who don’t have cable boxes that can be programmed to block certain channels or programs. The companies agreeing to the plan include the 10 largest in the country and reach 85 percent of all cable subscribers.

Self-regulation can work. As I’ve suggested, if someone doesn’t like what their children are watching, turn it off. I should’ve gone the extra step and instructed people to block “offending” channels through their cable box. If someone has digital cable, their cable box has the capability to block channels. It’s not hard and everyone’s rights are protected.

Along those lines, consider this:

“No one wants policy-makers to have to choose between protecting children or preserving the First Amendment,” [NCTA president Robert] Sachs told the Cable Television Public Affairs Association. “So if we, as an industry, actively promote the choices and controls available to consumers, there will be no need for anyone to do so.”

Addressing such an idea, consider this:

The cable industry also launched a new Web site, www.controlyourtv.org, which includes instructions on how parents can use the V-chip in televisions built in 2000 and later to block both broadcast and cable programs. The V-chip works with a voluntary industry ratings system.

“This is what we think is the best method of addressing all those concerns,” [Cable association spokesman Rob] Stoddard said. “It leaves the power in the hands of the cable subscriber.”

Naturally, even if the cable industry didn’t do this, there is little that Congress can do. The cable industry is a private broadcast network, so the “protecting the public airwaves” nonsense spewed by Congress is irrelevant. Any attempt to regulate it is a clear violation of the First Amendment, not supported by court rulings.

Self-regulation instead of illegal government intervention is an amazing concept.

Mudflaps kick up dust

In an update to yesterday’s news that Rhea County, Tennessee wanted to ban homosexuals, the county commissioners met again today to rescind their motion. The new motion passed 8-0. The money quote comes from the County Attorney, Gary Fritts:

“They wanted to send a message to our (state) representative and senator that Rhea County supports the ban on same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is what it was all about,” Fritts said. “There has just been so much misunderstanding about this. It was to stop people from coming here and getting married and living in Rhea County.”

I’m assuming that the county commissioners aren’t stupid, so I can only believe that they knew that approving a motion seeking a way to prosecute homosexuals for “crimes against nature” isn’t the same as passing a motion supporting a ban on same-sex marriage. I’m sorry to tell you, Mr. Fritts, but there has been no misunderstanding.

Breaking rocks in the hot sun

Sometimes, it’s possible to beat The Man. I’m sure everyone remembers my little tirade against my county government regarding their botch of my tax payment. They caved and fixed their mistake. Technically, the government accepted the appeal on my motorcycle, but not the appeal on my car. I convinced them that was stupid since I paid them as one payment.

I’m surprised, but pleased. I dealt with an injustice by challenging it and I succeeded. This is the type of situation that reminds me why I continue to challenge stupidity, even when it would be easier to acquiesce. It can be corrected. I shouldn’t have to fight the government to get it to do what it’s supposed to do, but this isn’t a perfect world. They didn’t admit their mistake, just pretended it didn’t happen.

The consolation is that, at least for today, the tally is: Tony 1, The Man 0. That’s a great score.

Queer Eye for the Scared Guy

Uplifting news from Tennessee… Yesterday, Rhea County commissioners voted 8-0 to request state-wide legislation that would allow the county to charge homosexuals with “crimes against nature”. The specific money quote is this:

“We need to keep them out of here,” said Commissioner J.C. Fugate, who introduced the motion.

This is definitely an appropriate response to “recent national and state events concerning gay marriages”. With that idea, let’s consider the intellectual prowess that supported this decision, causing audience members to applaud:

There was little discussion before the 8-0 vote, and commissioners didn’t mention that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas sodomy laws last year and ruled there is a constitutionally protected right to adults’ private sexual conduct.

The Tennessee state senator for Rhea County is Senator Tommy Kilby. He responded with this:

“Yesterday in Judiciary Committee, they passed out a bill basically saying we will not recognize same-sex partnerships or civil unions from other states or foreign countries. I voted for that, and that’s my position on that issue,” Kilby said.

Thanks for not answering the question. He knows the citizens of Rhea County are outside the mainstream, not to mention the Constitutional, thought on the privacy of the sexual activity of consenting adults. That’s fine, since everyone is entitled to a personal opinion. However, he should state his belief. Or at least acknowledge that no such law will ever pass in the state legislature, but that the message has been effectively sent that homosexuals aren’t welcome in Rhea County. There’s no need for shouting it from the roof of the state capitol, but don’t cower and offer an evasive answer. It makes him look scared. Why are you scared, Senator Kilby?

What about the sanctity of freedom?

Yesterday, President Bush spoke to the National Association of Evangelicals Convention. His comments were interesting. Jumping in:

As freedom’s home and freedom’s defender, we are called to expand the realm of human liberty.

Unless it involves homosexuals or speech. In those cases, it’s logical to protect the citizen defenders of freedom’s home. Every right-thinking citizen has the right to be free from anything they don’t like. Thankfully, President Bush is there to help.

Yet I know that liberty is not America’s gift to the world — liberty and freedom are God’s gift to every man and woman who lives in this world.

Unless it involves homosexuals or speech. In those cases, it’s logical to protect the citizen defenders of freedom’s home. Every right-thinking citizen has the right to be free from anything they don’t like. Thankfully, President Bush is there to help.

We’re working to build a culture of life.

I have no problem, but why are we ignoring love?

Human life is … a creation of God, not a commodity to be exploited by man.

I agree, yet I believe that the President is hypocritical on this point. He’s speaking in the context of abortion and stem-cell research, but this comment exposes his warped thinking. As governor of Texas, he supported the death penalty. No state executes more prisoners than Texas. Virginia is immediately behind in that energetic race. This is wrong.

Because a person is a criminal, they aren’t worthy of respect as “a creation of God”. They’ve become a commodity to be exploited by man. I’m not encouraging leniency on criminals, but I don’t believe there’s a legitimate purpose for state-sponsored violence. The President’s actions aren’t congruent with his speech.

I will defend the sanctity of marriage against activist courts and local officials who want to redefine marriage. The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught humanity that the commitment of a husband and wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. And government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all. It is for that reason I support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Our government gets its powers from the people. President Bush and Congress endorse the belief that it’s their responsibility to protect morality among the citizenry because self-regulation will lead to chaos. This has to stop now or no one will be safe from scrutiny for every personal belief.

It is time for some members of the Senate to stop playing politics with American justice.

This brings to mind the words “pot” and “kettle” and a little name-calling between the two.

Together, Americans are moving forward with confidence and faith. We do not know God’s plan, but we know His ways are right and just. And we pray He will always watch over this great country of ours.

This scares me. I have no issue with faith and belief in God. The beauty of America is that everyone can believe whatever makes sense to them. But that doesn’t give the president the right to impose one faith’s agenda on the nation. The separation of church and state exists for a reason, yet it’s quickly eroding under this current administration. Until the Bible becomes the supreme law of this land, I will follow the Constitution. Maybe President Bush should consider doing the same.

Viva la Revolution

On Monday, the editors of The Wall Street Journal proposed that John Kerry choose an unconventional person as his vice-presidential running mate. Allow me to let the editors tell you the “best” candidate, as well as one potential “reason”:

If he thinks in conventional political terms, the safe bet is Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri. If he wants to make a bold choice, he will offer the job to retiring NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw. One prominent Republican says the idea of Mr. Brokaw on the Democratic ticket “worries me a lot.”

The prominent Republican is either an idiot or a good poker player. I suspect it’s an attempt to encourage stupidity among Democratic campaign strategists.

It’s irrational to think of Vice President Brokaw. Tom Brokaw is a comforting figure in the way that an old blanket brings back nostalgic memories of childhood. That doesn’t mean that the blanket will keep you warm today. Consider this rationalization:

John Thune, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Mr. Brokaw’s home state of South Dakota, agrees. He says Mr. Brokaw has been intrigued by politics ever since his days at the University of South Dakota. “It would be a fascinating out of the box choice,” he told me. A South Dakota Democratic state legislator assures me that Mr. Brokaw would be a good ideological fit for Mr. Kerry, with the added advantage that “no one thinks of him as a liberal.”

The editors continue by confirming that Mr. Brokaw “introduced Arnold Schwarzenegger to Maria Shriver at a celebrity tennis tournament in 1977”. For this, he should pay his penance to the Democratic party:

That introduction changed political history; few people believe that Mr. Schwarzenegger could have become governor of California without Ms. Shriver’s savvy support. If Mr. Brokaw resists entreaties to enter politics, perhaps Democrats will remind him he could balance off that unintended gift to the Republican Party by joining their own ticket this year.

That’s a stupid argument. At least this next speculation makes sense:

Mr. Kerry may decide the way to shake up the race is to make a truly unconventional choice, as Walter Mondale tried to do when he picked Ms. Ferraro, the first-ever woman on a national ticket, in 1984.

Tom Brokaw is the highest-paid reader in history. This does not qualify him to be Vice President of the United States. If Senator Kerry really wants to make a bold statement, he’ll accept the challenge presented by Senator John McCain:

“John Kerry is a close friend of mine. We have been friends for years,” McCain said Wednesday when pressed to squelch speculation about a Kerry-McCain ticket. “Obviously I would entertain it.”

“It’s impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a pro-life, free-trading, non-protectionist, deficit hawk,” the Arizona senator told ABC’s “Good Morning America” during an interview about illegal steroid use. “They’d have to be taking some steroids, I think, in order to let that happen.”

That’s a brilliant move. Like most politicians, Senator McCain has his drawbacks. However, I voted for him in the Virginia Republican Primary in 2000. I probably would’ve voted for him in the presidential election if he’d beaten Bush. I like his public persona as a fighter and anti-politician. For example:

Unlike some other Republican senators, he hasn’t railed against Kerry, a fellow Vietnam veteran. McCain called the Kerry-Bush contest “the nastiest campaign so far that we have seen” and said he preferred campaigning for candidates instead of against their opponents.

Unfortunately, it seems that it’s not meant to be. The Associated Press recently added to the article:

Within hours, the Arizona senator’s chief of staff, Mark Salter, closed the door on that idea. “Senator McCain will not be a candidate for vice president in 2004,” Salter told The Associated Press, saying he spoke for the senator.

Why is it such an accepted concept that the President and Vice President must be from the same party? Virginia’s citizens elect the Governor and Lieutenant Governor separately. (We also elect the Virginia Attorney General. Do you think John Ashcroft would be the United States Attorney General if the citizenry were allowed to vote on that?)

I would welcome a bi-partisan ticket for President. For the clarity, though, this is why I think it’s a brilliant idea: Why not nominate the best two candidates possible? This election is dividing along ideological lines, but most elections focus on differences in implementation rather than differences in ideas. If something happens to the President, I’d rather have the most qualified person to step in instead of the most politically acceptable party member.

Focus on the pacifics of language

I hate lazy grammar and pronunciation. Words like supposably and prolly/probly irritate me. Or the fifty variations of “judiciary” that I’ve heard. Blah, blah, blah. Today, I found an example I hate more. Since I was tired of getting work calls on my cell phone, I called my voicemail to cut off the call-forwarding.

I journeyed through the automated menu options, finally arriving at the correct choice. It repeated my cell phone as my call-forwarding number. I have some zeros in my number, but saying zero was too hard.

Assuming the number is 321-555-9004, the voice said “three-two-one, five-five-five, nine-Oh-Oh-four”.

“O” is not a number. If I dial “O” on my phone, I’d be dialing the number 6. 321-555-9664 is not 321-555-9004.

It’s an automated system. They put a woman in a recording booth, had her speak these messages and numbers into the microphone, and set the sounds on the phone system computer. At any time in the writing and recording process, did anyone think “Perhaps the script should say ‘zero’ since ‘zero’ is a number and ‘O’ is a letter”? These are the same people who need to be told not to dial all the numbers if they call a bank and the phone number is 1-800-BORROW MONEY.

Just like me, they long to be…

Listening to Don & Mike recently, I heard an interview with vocal coach Roger Love. Since I don’t sing well, I’m fascinated to listen to a vocal coach talk about how anyone can learn to sing. I’d like to believe that, even though I know I couldn’t be a professional. Unless, of course, John Stevens doesn’t win American Idol. Then I could be professional because I can sing better than the rest of those hacks.

I’m smart enough to know that part of Mr. Love’s claim is pure marketing. He’s selling a DVD called Love to Sing, after all. So after hearing the interview, I was curious to know more. Browsing his site, I found the description for his DVD:

Many of the most popular recording artists in the world have called upon Roger to learn his unique methods including Matchbox 20, Eminem, Mandy Moore, Papa Roach, and many more. There is a long waiting list for Rogers voice classes, and now you can learn Roger’s secrets to developing and strengthening your voice through private instruction right at home!

Whether you are an aspiring singer or just someone who wants to improve the quality of your voice, Love To Sing can show you how easy it is to sing like you’ve always wanted!

You’ll learn:
Breathing Secrets
Proper Vocal Technique

And how to:
Unleash your vocal power
Control your stage fright

Plus, tune up your voice with:
Vocal Exercises
Full practice songs

For male and female voices of any age