Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Climate Change and Beer

When it comes to climate change I am not a skeptic. Nor am I a denier. I am an I call bullshitter. I thought it might be wise to just go ahead it get that out of the way right up front. No sense beating around the bush. Not that climate change isn't a thing. It actually is. It just isn't a new thing. As a species we have actually documented dramatic climate change going way back. I mean way back. I am pretty much an expert on this stuff. I took ancient history in high school. I have read the Bible many times. I have watched Cecil B. Demille. Yule Brenner made one heck of a Pharaoh by the way. Climate change pretty much drove the nation of Israel to go hang with Yule Brenner. They left home in the first place because of an insanely long drought. After hanging around in Egypt at least long enough for Charlton Heston to grow up, then wandering around the desert long enough for the Golden Calf generation to die out, they finally came back to the old neighborhood. You know, the land flowing with milk and honey.

Now, of course, much of that cool place is as dead as the Dead Sea. Climate change baby, it pretty much bites.

As a student of those times I can state with some certainty climate was a real pain in the camel hump for those ancient peoples hanging out in the fertile crescent. It ain't looking all that fertile nowadays either. Life in those times seemed to consistent of periods of drought and really bad floods. People were always starving or drowning. It's a wonder people were able to invent civilization in such a place. I assume it got better from time to time. Good enough that Alexander the great went to all the trouble to leave the grapes of Greece and go conquer it.

Which brings us to what is arguably the greatest thing ever to come out of that entire area. Beer.

According to archeologists, historians, and people like me who read a bunch of stuff, the earliest reference to beer is a 3900 year old Sumerian poem. I haven't read it but it honors the Sumerian Goddess Ninkasi and also contains a recipe for beer. This beer was made from barley and bread. Hey, you work with what you got. So we know beer is at least 3900 old. What no one knew, though, was how beer was invented in the first place. Until now.

Beer wasn't actually invented. Not like Bell invented the telephone. It was really more or less discovered. By accident. Remember how I mentioned how that entire area was nothing but a series of droughts and floods? It was during one of those drought periods a Sumerian man by the name of Nim-Becile lived. He was more fortunate than his neighbors in that he had plenty of barley, wheat, a little salt, and loads of honey. Fearing someone would steal his stash he hid it in a dry hole in the ground. Unfortunately the hole was only dry because of the massive drought. Perhaps he should have thought of that. Though Nim-Becile played a key role in discovering beer he wasn't actually the one who discovered it. That honor fell to a man named Shasham-Libat. It was shortly after the next flood receded that Shasham-Libat was wondering around looking for his house when he fell into a hole. Nim-Becile's hole. And the rest is, as they say, history. Imbibing of a cold brew is known as a Libation to this very day.

The art of brewing beer would reach it's peak many years later in ancient Egypt under the steady hand of Imanhoptech. Which also might explain why the Jewish people decided to go to Egypt instead of someplace where Yule Brenner, who was a real bad ass, wasn't.

I hope we have cleared this entire climate change business up for you. It isn't a new thing and it isn't necessarily bad either.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The great Roe V Wade lie

Watching the portion of the debate between Trump and Hillary concerning abortion last night I was struck by one thing. Most of us never actually read laws or court rulings. We rely upon the media or people like Hillary to tell us what the law says. The sad fact is much of what you hear is not factual. They twist, leave out key details, and flat out lie. Thus our laws and the rulings of our courts devolve into propaganda. Over and over again you hear as Hillary repeated last night that Roe V Wade established abortion as a constitutional right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Roe V Wade did affirm a woman's right to privacy and did strike down laws which criminalized abortion in particular circumstances. What they are not telling you is Roe V Wade actually affirmed life begins in the womb and the state has a compelling interest in protecting the life of the unborn.

Remember folks, these are lawyers and with lawyers words really do matter. Ideally, legal wording should make things crystal clear so there is no ambiguity. That is one of the aspects of this decision which I find very interesting. In so far as women's rights only two are mentioned. The right to privacy is one. The right to privacy is actually well defined by the 4th amendment. Roe V Wade struck down criminal abortion laws because they "....violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy."

While the constitution does not specifically call out privacy as one of the enumerated rights the 4th amendment does provide protection against unreasonable searches or seizures. That at least implies a right to privacy. Further, the constitution wisely does not attempt to list every single right we as people have. It specifically states this and mot importantly ascribes ownership of those rights not specifically enumerated to the people and the states. With respect to a right to privacy in general Roe V Wade is rock solid.

What is not so clear is the second right Roe V Wade appears to have created, which is "a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy". The wording indicates this right exists as a consequence of the right to privacy. This appears to be a pretty big leap. It is certainly not a conclusion that everyone would find to be logical. The key to understanding this lies in the legal terminology used, specifically the finding abortion is a qualified right. What exactly is a qualified right?

The usage of this terminology is well considered because there are legal definitions that apply. Those definitions are essential to understanding what is being said. There are actually three different types of rights. In order to place what Roe V Wade is actually saying in its proper scope and perspective you must understand how these different types of rights are defined legally.

  • An absolute right is one that can not be infringed upon under any circumstance.
  • A qualified right is one the state can interfere with under certain circumstances.
  • A restricted right is one that can be restricted or revoked by law. For example, the right to own a gun is restricted as it can be revoked if an individual commits a violent felony.

What should immediately become clear here is Roe V Wade absolutely did not create an absolute right to have an abortion. That is clearly contradicted by the ruling itself. Remember, words and wording matter in law. 

Roe V Wade did not actually create a qualified right to have an abortion either. Remember, the founding principle of our republic has always been our rights exist, period. Granted by God, an endowment from our creator, by virtue of our humanity, because we exist.....pick you favorite. It doesn't matter, what does matter is our rights are not created by the state and are not endowed to us by the state. What Roe V Wade actually did was affirm, as far as the state is concerned, we all have the right to do what ever we wish without interference from the state unless the state has a compelling reason to interfere. This is a critical distinction and a very important principle. For this reason it appears obvious to me no one is going to "do away" with Roe V Wade much less place it in the "dust bin of history". More on that in a moment.

Roe V Wade defined two compelling reasons for the state to interfere with a woman's right to privacy and by extension to interfere with the qualified right to an abortion. Those two reasons are to protect the health of the pregnant woman and to protect the life developing inside the pregnant woman. This is so important. Roe V Wade defines protecting the life of the child developing in the womb as being of compelling interest to the state. That is a crucial point.

In this respect I am in complete agreement with the ruling. What I disagree with is the arbitrary definition of when life begins which ostensibly was predicated upon the state of knowledge back in the day.

When you hear people like Hillary Clinton refer to a woman's constitutional right to get an abortion I believe you are actually hearing propaganda. The idea being to change the culture, to change people's morals in fact, by repeating this mantra over and over until it becomes ingrained. Until it just becomes assumed a woman has an absolute constitutional right to have an abortion. One obvious desire is to shut down debate. It is also indisputable a lot of people would like to over turn the protection of the life of an unborn child Roe V Wade actually created. I believe most people fail to comprehend this is really the case.

The truth is Roe V Wade stands upon three distinct and equal pillars. Those pillars being a woman's right to privacy, the state's compelling interesting in protecting the health of pregnant women, and the state's compelling interest in protecting the life of the unborn child. The problem is no one ever talks about the third pillar or even acknowledges it exists. As I said before, Hillary is a lawyer. A lawyer should understand this. The fact of the matter is I really don't know what Hillary's personal view on abortion is. It could be she is truly passionate in her belief that abortion on demand, without restriction, is an absolute right. However, as a lawyer, as someone who aspires to be a leader, she should be truthful with the American people with respect to what this ruling really says on all points, not just those points that support her agenda or her ambitions. I suspect the real truth is abortion to her is a tool, a means to secure votes.

Below are references for your information:

The 4th Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Roe Vs Wade

    3) State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman's health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a "compelling" point at various stages of the woman's approach to term. Pp. 147-164.
    (a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. Pp. 163, 164.
    (b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164.
    (c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165.

    The text of the 14th amendment

    Amendment XIV

    Section 1.

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Section 2.

    Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

    Section 3.

    No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

    Section 4.

    The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

    Section 5.

    The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

In this brave new world of information what most people hear is blah blah blah

I remember how the world was back in the days before Google, before smart phones, before anyone even had a computer in their home. It was the world BC. Before cable. A world where there were three channels on TV that did the news three times a day. A world where we read newspapers in the morning to see what happened yesterday. Many people read magazines. That was it. Three networks, one newspaper, and magazines. And the magazines more often than not were read at the doctor's office, or at the dentists. You did have magazines at the barber shop, but those were usually Outdoor Life, Boys Life, or Popular Mechanics. Walter Cronkite told you what was going on and that was pretty much that.

Now, there is a veritable explosion of people talking and writing. The supply of opinions, speculations, facts, or maybe not quite facts seems limitless. What we have now is a cacophony, a veritable informational highway of babble. So many voices, so many pulpits. Yet, it seems to me no one really listens. Not really. Now I am wondering, did people actually listen back in the dark ages, back before Google and Youtube? It seems to me they did.

Back in the day it was more quiet. People weren't in such a rush. If you didn't catch the 6:00 or the 11:00 news you missed it. Listening was what people did. You listened to your parents, your teacher, your preacher. You listened when the President addressed the nation. You listened to Walter Cronkite. Because you trusted in authority. You listened to authority. That is no longer true. The past 30, 40, even 50 years has been an accelerating process of losing trust in authority and authority figures that has grown in tandem with the explosion of information technology. These things go hand in hand. Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, the oil embargo, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the great recession, the bailouts, Iraq, and now Iran, ISIS, and the explosion of world wide terror. Not only do we have more sources of information, but they often conflict each other wildly. We no longer trust our government or the media. We no longer have an authority to appeal to, we have a plethora of authorities to choose from. We choose those that reinforce what we want to believe.

This is why we no longer listen. Because we already know. We have already decided and that is it. When we hear anyone say anything we typically listen only far enough to decide do we agree or disagree. If we disagree we stop listening as we formulate a rebuttal. If we agree we stop listening as we congratulate ourselves on being so wise or pity those who are too foolish to get it. On those rare occasions we hear something we have not already decided upon most of the time we only listen long enough to decide we care. Only rarely do we stop, admit that we may not know, and then give what has been said serious thought.

You have only to look so far as the Vice Presidential "debate", and I use that term very loosely, to see this in application. Trust me, if you start talking before the other guy is finished you are not listening.

I am not saying we were wise to trust authority as much as we did when we really didn't have a choice. I think time has shown that it is wise to hold a healthy skepticism. I am not saying that choice is bad either. Information should never be a monopoly. I am saying to choose wisely, not based upon what makes you feel comfortable or superior. Seek truth over comfort. Above all, learn again how to listen. Debate ideally is not a contest to be won or lost. Debate should be as much listening as talking. Debate should strengthen understanding, should unify purpose, and it should result in greater insights. We do not have debates in politics. We have competing sales pitches and slander.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

New Musicish Video Posted

I have posted another video to YouTube. Again featuring RC, the rubber chicken, but with new characters. This one does feature me doing a serious jam, not meaning it is like this really awesome jam though. I just mean I am being serious. Not the same thing at all. Anyway, here is the link to the video. I hope people will enjoy it.

Go to my video...if you dare! Muah ha ha ha ha!!!!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Of Halloween, Football, and Brussel Sprouts

Today is Saturday and it is the first day,officially, of Halloween. Okay, it is the first day of October, but I am a total Horror junkie. Books, movies, stories, and the Monster Mash. You name it. My life long love affair with all things spooky began long ago. Watching the Friday Night Frights on channel 17. I remember being super excited when The House of Frankenstein was going to be shown. It was going to be awesome! It had all the great monsters in it! The fact The House of Frankenstein was not very good, and I gave up in complete disappointment before it was through, did not diminish my love of Horror.

The temperatures outside have dropped considerably and night time carries that hint of something more than just cool coming. The leaves have begun to turn and fall in an undeniable fashion if not quite in earnest yet. Soon the mountains north of here will burst into cool flame. The sorghum has already come in and we have laid in our supply for the year. We didn't forget the honey either, we are well supplied with local grown, raw sourwood gold from North Georgia. It won't be very long now until it is cool enough for burning and the air is going to be filled with the smell of burning leaves.

For all these things and more I am glad to see October 1st. Of course, fall also means football. Yes, football really started a while back. In the summer. While that is football, it really isn't football. For one thing I never watch exhibition games. What's the point? Nothing is at stake and a lot of the players you see then won't make the cut. Besides, as far as I am concerned, other than the Falcons, pro football just isn't that exciting until the wild card games begin. Wild card games are always the best of the year. It typically goes down hill from there until you finally get to the Stupor Bowl. I do love college football. Especially those games that have real meaning regardless of rankings. Ohio vs. Ohio State. Michigan vs. Notre Dame. Georgia vs. Georgia Tech. For me, football really begins when the night time air gets really cool, almost crisp. Maybe that is because so many of my best memories of high school come from going to cold games, wearing fall clothes, feeling the swirl of cold wind. Or playing tag football with friends with the crunch of leaves under foot. That, to me, is football.

One other thing Fall means to me is food. When cooler weather comes it is time to say goodbye to summer eats. Time to savor the last of the local grown tomatoes, banana peppers, and other fresh veggies. It is time to start thinking about squashes, pumpkin pie, chili, soups, and all those things best eaten piping hot on cold days. Time to start thinking comfort food.

So, now we finally get to brussel sprouts. From time to time I make up my own recipes, usually based upon things I have seen. I throw things together and see what happens. This is one of those times. It really does look and smell delicious. What you see here is the trial batch. We have an upcoming spaghetti dinner at my in laws house. I intend to make this in a larger version for the occasion. It is a very special occasion for me. I get to see my step grandson for the very first time. For this reason, plus the fact I love my in laws very much, I want to make something unique, something special, something that is my own creation.
If you are interested in trying this, here is the recipe.
  • About two dozen brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed, and halved
  • 6 to 8 artichoke hearts, canned or fresh, halved
  • One dozen or so roasted garlic cloves
  • A generous amount of salt
  • Balsamic honey glaze
  • Grated parmesan cheese
I arranged the artichoke hearts around a 12" pie pan, then filled with the brussel sprouts. Scatter the roasted garlic over the top, salt generously, then pore the glaze over everything. Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or so. Make sure the sprout get done. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. The balsamic glaze is about 1/ 2 cup of vinegar, 1/8 cup olive oil, and 1/4 cup of honey. Mix and simmer over low heat until reduced in volume by half.
You can reduce the baking time by parboiling the sprouts for five minutes or so before hand.
The roasted garlic is also easy to make and is really delicious by itself. I separated the cloves, pealed the paper like shell off, sealed in aluminum foil with olive oil. Bake at 350° to 400° for about 30 minutes. After they cool off the shell is easily pealed off. Eat whole or use in other dishes whole or crushed. The garlic does caramelize and has a sweet and smokey taste.