Monday, April 30, 2007

Criminal Physics

Newton told us that every action has an equal, opposite reaction. If we do something, it has some sort of consequence hitting right back at us.

Take crime, for instance. Yes, it's possible to beat the living tar out of your neighbor. The consequence is jail, loss of freedom, loss of certain rights as citizens, etc.

The criminal element doesn't seem to care, much. I'm not sure if there's no actual conceptualization of the consequences, or if the consequences have been weighed carefully, and the risk is less than the reward.

That scares me. If life is so bad that going to jail is preferable to staying out of it, there's such misery in the world that I can't even wrap my mind around it. I just can't imagine life being so rotten that jail seems ok.

At the same time, I cannot imagine thinking that knocking over a convenience store is something that I can get away with. For starters, every major tv network has some sort of show that features stupid criminals getting caught on videotape. They have to get that footage somewhere, morons. There's also no loyalty in the criminal element. They'll sell each other out to keep from getting sent to jail, or on the promise of money. So the odds of getting caught are pretty high.

So why do it? Greed's the short answer, I suppose. It just doesn't seem enough to justify the risk of getting caught. Never mind the morality involved here. I'm presupposing that morals are a foregone conclusion with most of the criminal element. The risk/reward equation is all I'm focusing on here.

I can't afford a Mercedes, so I don't drive one. I can't afford a 5000 square foot home, so I don't live in one. I can't afford Armani suits, so I don't wear them. I couldn't afford spring break trips to Mexico, so I didn't go. I can't afford new cd's, so I don't buy them. In other words, I do without. My life is perfectly ok without those things. It really is. I wouldn't have said so at one point or another in my life, but it's true. Even in the midst of the worst possible stuff envy, it never seemed worth stealing over. Breaking into a house to steal something sure isn't worth it. Every household I know about has enough gun wielders in it to make that idea seem pretty dumb. Does that thought never cross the mind of a burglar? Has he decided that it's worth the risk, despite the risk of lead poisoning?

I can understand being so desperate to feed my child that I'd steal. But I also can't imagine a friend or family member not taking my child in to feed him, if things ever got that bad. Or the church, or distant relatives, or somebody. There's always an alternative, it seems.

I can't figure this one out at all. And I grow more puzzled every time I deal with people like this, which is daily.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


This is a subject that I struggle with, and honestly don't do very well with. It's hard to make peace with someone who has wronged you. And yet, it's the right thing to do.

Taking any sort of philosophical reasoning for it out of the equation, forgiveness seems to promote self-healing. I've gone a long time winding myself up over slights, real or imagined. The funny thing is, it's hurting nobody but me.

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately, depending on your point of view), I have not developed psychic powers that enable me to fry people with my mind. It's a good thing, because my negative thoughts would have probably reduced our population down quite a bit. So all these bad thoughts I have towards someone who's made me mad do nothing at all but give me ulcers. If it's not hurting them, and it's not helping me, why do it? When I think back on a couple of particular wrongs I've felt were inflicted on me, my blood pressure boils. My hands get shaky, my breathing gets quick. I can feel my stomach roil. And to what end? The people I'm mad at could care less. I'm not doing anything to help the situation. I'm just taking years off my life. I can't afford to do that anymore.

Best just to let it go. Doing that is a bit much, however. Realizing the futility of the anger is a good first step. It makes it a bit easier, though not much.

I've also learned to let my self-recrimination go a bit, as well. It's hard to move on in your life dwelling on mistakes made in the past. Better still just to move along. Learn from the mistake, but don't bog down thinking about it.

The Bible mentions not letting the sun go down on your anger, and that's some good, practical advice. I'm amazed at how much one's spiritual, physical, and mental health seem to walk hand in hand.

In the meanwhile, my neighbors and their all-night barking dog haven't been telepathically reduced to a smoking pile of ashes. This is a good thing for all concerned.

Somebody in Entertainment Gets It

From the inestimable Michelle Malkin, a bit about Frank Miller.

Friday, April 27, 2007


From JUDICIAL WATCH, which is a great website:

"Border Patrol Agent Charged With Murder
Caving in to pressure from the Mexican government and relying on testimony of fellow illegal border crossers, prosecutors in one Arizona county have criminally charged a United States Border Patrol agent for shooting an aggressive illegal immigrant in the act of violating federal law.

Border Patrol agent Nicholas Corbett has actually been charged with first-degree murder for the January shooting of the illegal alien who was part of a group apprehended about a 150 yards north of the Mexico-Arizona border between Bisbee and Douglas. Corbett said the Mexican man, Francisco Javier Dominguez, became aggressive and attacked him with rocks after being detained.

Dominguez had illegally crossed into the U.S. with three others—his two brothers and a sister-in-law—who have become the prosecution’s main witnesses. Based on their testimony, Cochise County prosecutors say the shooting was not legally justified because Dominguez did not represent a threat when he was shot.

When the incident happened in mid January, the Mexican government immediately sent the United States a diplomatic note stating its “firm condemnation” and demanded a full investigation. Relatives in Mexico took the streets and demanded the agent involved be punished and brought to justice.

The head of the Arizona Chapter of the National Border Patrol Council says this case is part of a nationwide pattern of politically motivated prosecutions against Border Patrol agents. The theory doesn’t sound terribly far-fetched considering that, earlier this year, two Border Patrol agents went to prison for shooting an admitted Mexican drug smuggler caught bringing in 743 pounds of marijuana near El Paso Texas.

Federal prosecutors actually went into Mexico and offered the drug dealer—who was only shot in the buttocks--immunity to testify against the veteran agents who were subsequently convicted on charges of causing serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm and violating the drug smuggler’s civil rights."

We've lost the will to be a country, if we persecute those who defend us. I think they need to be shooting more of them, personally. It's interesting that Cochise County is where Tombstone is located. That county apparently loves to prosecute those who try to uphold the law, given what happened to the Earps and Doc Holliday after the OK Corral...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Comfortably Numb

While the rest of the world is applauding the new trends in downloadable music, I have to say that I have some trepidations about the whole thing. It has less to do with the technology and sound quality as it has to do with the imminent demise of the rock album.

Bear with me on this. The trend now is for people to pay for whatever song they want, and simply download it. They pay only for the song they want. This is all well and good for the consumer in one sense. They only have to pay for the song they want. This was the theory behind 45 rpm singles, way back when. It carried over into cassettes, and later into single cd's.

What's going to happen is that artists will focus more on singles, as opposed to albums. Let's face it: "Another Brick in the Wall Part II" is a catchy tune. However, the genius of the song comes in when you get its context with the rest of THE WALL. The song stands alone, but it's part of a much bigger whole. Same thing with "Eyes of a Stranger" off OPERATION MINDCRIME. Great song, but it's simply the capstone of a cool concept album.

I don't know if today's short-attention spanned obliviots will download a song, then buy the whole album. I think they're more likely just to download a catchy tune, and ignore the rest of the album. They'll remain comfortably numb to the cool stuff that lurks on the rest of the album. If you didn't buy the Van Halen album FAIR WARNING, you didn't catch "Hear About It Later," one of the band's better songs. You'll never hear that one on the radio. You'll also never hear "Bravado" off Rush's ROLL THE BONES. You won't hear "Holy Mother," off Eric Clapton's AUGUST. "Why Worry", off Dire Straits' BROTHERS IN ARMS is one of the best songs ever. I doubt anybody today would buy the whole album. They'd simply download "Money For Nothing", and go on with their lives, never hearing a gem like "Your Latest Trick." That's a loss.

You won't see albums like this in the future, I fear. The artists will pump out catchy singles to sell via the internet, and the albums as a whole might well suffer as a result. Cohesive, unifying songwriting for albums might well die off. I don't think it will vanish altogether. I just don't think an artist will sit down to write concept albums anymore as theri main focus.

That's a darn shame. Imagine life without Styx's "Kilroy Was Here." I shudder to think about it.

"Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

St. Anger

I'm still not sure that I actually picked the right career. I'm a prosecutor now, and it's absolutely true that I enjoy this job more than anything else in the practice of law. I can safely say that I will never go back to private practice again.

However, I still have to deal with liars and the bigger liars that represent them.

Attorneys are, as a breed; scumbags. There are individuals that are ok. But as a whole, this is a reprehensible profession, filled with reprehensible people who think they have to win at all costs. Even if that means telling a flat-out lie to get an acquittal for a client, or screwing over somebody to win.

I don't like this. I don't operate that way, and I get really resentful when it happens to me. Even though I shouldn't. I know what this breed is like, and I make the mistake time after time of letting down my guard. I constantly get fooled into believing they are not all like that. And I'm proven wrong more often than not.

Here's where the hard part of being a follower of Christ comes in. I have to let this sort of thing go, or it will tear me up forever more. It's not in the least bothering the person that did it.

This is where the limits of human flesh come into play. I can't do it. I've got to turn it over to God. And it's hard to turn loose of this anger and resentment. But I have to. I've got to turn the other cheek. And the only way to do that is pass it off to somebody whose kindness, mercy, wisdom, and power far exceed mine. Personally, I'd like to drag this lawyer over carpet tacks and dip him in rubbing alcohol.

So it's in the Almighty's hands at this point. Mine would strangle.

Tomorrow's another day, though. One of my favorite literary characters has two red arrows tattooed on each deltoid, pointing forward. His point in doing that was to remind himself to keep pressing forward, and never look back. That's what has to happen here, as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

No Further Proof Necessary

The horrible tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech underscored a point that I've been making: evil exists. The term "insanity" doesn't even begin to cover the depth of this horror. We have to turn to a much more powerful word to sum this up: evil.

You've only to look at this psycho's rambling manifesto to see pure evil shining from his eyes. It is a glimpse into hell itself. It frightens me to no end.

I cannot fathom what would possess a person to execute 30+ people. I don't think any sane person can.

Listening to his ramblings, it is obvious that he was convinced that he was some sort of hero for doing this. I've noticed that evil has a way of justifying itself. I'm sure this demon never thought he was evil. Indeed, in his twisted mind, this was the act of a noble warrior. What he was fighting, I have no idea. It almost lends some credibility to the assertion that some insanity is demonic possession. Looking into his eyes as the video rolled, I can believe in demons.

What he has managed to do is terrify a nation, and provide additional fodder to the anti-Second Amendment crowd. He linked himself to Jesus, and that's going to also provide ammunition to the anti-deists.

I submit a point: I don't think this soul ever knew Christ, other than a passing acquaintance with a few stories. Neither here nor there; however.

My prayers go out to the families, students, and friends of Virginia Tech. And I pray the rest of the country makes it through as well.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Kiss My Bass

One of the great things that's happened in the last few months has been the chance that I've had to play music again.

I had a burning desire to play a guitar after hearing Andy Summers' lick on "Every Breath You Take." Some kids hear Eddie Van Halen and have to learn how to play. My initial hook was the Police. Anyways, I ended up playing guitar. I graduated to heavier stuff eventually. However, I still get that little thrill when Andy starts that clean, arpeggiating riff on the radio.

Most of the bands I gravitated towards had great bass players and drummers. The Police, Genesis, and Rush were what I usually listened to growing up. I always sort of liked the bass, but never could afford to pick one up. I had a Fender Stratocaster, and that had to serve me for a long while.

About a year ago, I traded a Glock I absolutely hated for a nice Carvin 5 string bass. I noodled around on it a bit, but was never really serious.

Recently, I volunteered to play with our church band. They needed a bass player, and I happened to have both a pulse and a bass. Easiest audition ever. So I got the job. This is despite no training whatsoever on the bass, mind you. Just a lot of Geddy Lee and Sting's subliminal influence, since I'd never actually messed with bass guitar before.

If you've never played rock with another group of people, you have missed out on one of the most fulfilling experiences a person can have. I wouldn't just limit it to rock. I'd say that jamming with any band, on any sort of music, is almost a mystical experience.

However, I sucked at bass playing. The sense of melody is there, the feel is there. The ear is there. The physical ability wasn't. I wasn't a bad guitarist. But I was a horrible bass player. That was an alien instrument, coming from years of guitar.

One of the great things about playing with this group is that we have a ton of talented musicians there. They are also Christian, which means they haven't acted on the impulse to kill me when I really screw up. Which is often.

There is hope. I think I've improved dramatically with practice and guidance from the other players. I tend to get better at something when thrown in with people who really know what they are doing.

I even think that I've been able to add something to the group. I tend to gravitate towards rock music. There's just something visceral in that sort of music. It draws responses from people like no other type of music.

I'm sorry, but they hymns we grew up with in church suck. I bet church hymns have created more atheists than anything else. Listen to 90% of what's in the Methodist hymnal and you are convinced that God is punishing you for something, or he had nothing to do with this music at all. I don't think most people my age respond well to that sort of music.

However, crank up a distorted guitar, a driving bass, and a pounding drum beat, and there's something that I respond to. I think most people probably do. If you doubt me, go crank up AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long," and see if you don't start tapping along to the drum beat. See if Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" doesn't get you humming along. That's stuff that people respond to. "Enter Sandman," doesn't make you pound the steering wheel when it comes on in the car? I bet it does. Quit feeling guilty about it.

There's some darn hard Christian music out there. I had no idea. Some of it's actually quite good. Some of it resembles the South Park episode where Cartman starts a Christian band. (Watch it on Youtube. That's funny; I don't care what church you go to. It's funny because it's absolutely dead-on.)

Anyway, we played a pretty rock-ish set last Sunday, and the response was great. The audience really enjoyed it. Our pastor was ecstatic. He's a Led Zepplin fan, and plays a darn good guitar himself. He's been wanting to hear something like this for quite awhile.

I'm having fun with it. Christian music ain't just for wussies, I'm discovering.

And you so-called Christians who think rock is the devil's music? Kiss my bass. I mean that in the most loving, forgiving sense, of course.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stupid Gun Stuff

I pride myself on being fairly safe with firearms. Every once in awhile, I have to be reminded of basic safety things.

One thing that was drilled into my head as a kid was not to shoot rocks. Bad idea. They cause ricochets. Ricochets are a bad thing. I forgot this little lesson, and paid the price.

Easter Sunday, my brother-in-law and I decide we are going to shoot a bit. I had a box of .45's for the occasion, and we set down to doing some shooting. Targets usually aren't a problem, and normally I'll shoot cactus leaves. They make great targets, and you can see a hit immediately.

At any rate, there were a few sacks of concrete laying about, that had gotten wet. Which means they are actually concrete, and not sand anymore. My brother-in-law, who is about as good a gun person as I've ever seen, decided to shoot at a bag of this stuff.

So we did. The USP handled about as well as any pistol could ask. We were making hits from about 40 yards out, pretty much in the center mass.

I had run through about five rounds, when I suddenly felt an extremely hard blow on the left side of my nose. I thought somebody had snuck around to my left side and punched me in the head. My eye teared up. My hand came away wet with blood. I couldn't figure out what had happened. It actually drove me to my knees.

My mind was trying piece this thing together. I was running the whole thing back through my head, trying to make sense of it. It's hard to do after a blow to the head. I remembered hearing something hit the ground next to me. I looked, and a huge chunk of lead was laying there.

That's when it clicked. I had been hit upside the head by a ricochet. The bag was sitting at around a 45 degree angle. The slug hit the concrete, traveled up the bag into the air with most of its velocity spent. The angle was enough to lob it back towards us, and it had hit me as it fell back to earth. The proof was right next to me. I picked the smashed slug up and staggered back into the house.

An inch more and to the left would have put the slug into my eye. It wasn't traveling fast enough to kill me, but it was darn sure fast enough and big enough to have knocked my eye out.

And it hurt. It hit me as hard as a punch, and cut my nose pretty well. It was sore for a week, and the cut took awhile to heal.

So don't shoot rocks or concrete. Ever. You'd have thought I was smart enough not to go along with something like this.

The next mistake came a few rounds later. We had a case of Wolf ammunition. Another bad idea. Basically, a round was overcharged and blew up the cartridge. This completely ended shooting for the day.

I'm happy to report the gun suffered no permanent damage from the event, says the gunsmith. Wolf ammunition is a bad idea, period. If the steel casing doesn't split under pressure, the gunk they pack the bullets in will gum up your barrel, or won't eject properly.

Factory ammunition by a reputable manufacturer is about the only thing I'm ever going to put through a gun again.

The lessons: don't shoot rocks or concrete. Second, use decent factory ammunition. Third, wear shooting glasses. Had that round hit just a bit higher, I'd join the ranks of the disfigured and handicapped. Glasses would have probably saved my eye.

Learn from my stupidity, shooters. I certainly did.

A Longer Absence

Every once in a awhile, a hiatus from writing is imposed upon me. In this particular case, it's a combination of being way too busy, some healing time, more personal crises, and no motivation whatsoever to write anything. I had some major life crises to deal with. I can't promise that I'm going to be back as faithfully as I was when I first came online, but we'll just see what develops. Especially in light of the new family crisis. More on that in a bit.

As to the content: this blog has always been my personal catharsis. I write for my own sanity. And I think a total of three people actually read this thing, and I think they will forgive me for the layoff, and the content.

The bulk of the layoff has been spending time with our infant son. It's amazing how much you can love something that screams, cries, soils itself, and requires constant attention. I can safely say that I never really imagined I'd enjoy being a father. Now that I'm in it, I am sorry that I waited this long to have a child. Nothing in the world can actually sum this experience up, so I won't even attempt to quantify it. It's sufficient for me to say that I want to spend every waking moment I can with my son, and that's to the detriment of exercise, reading, writing, and pretty much anything else I do on a regular basis.

The new job has occupied quite a bit of time. It's weird, but I think I've finally found something that I like to do which involves the practice of law. I'm a prosecutor now, and I think this is what I was supposed to be doing all along. I have the power to see justice done, and that's a rewarding thing unto itself. That's the subject of an entire week's worth of posting, in and of itself. Suffice to say, I actually have a job that I like going to every morning. I cannot overemphasize this has never happened up until now. I HATED being a lawyer, and I can say that most of the rest of the profession is evil incarnate, after exposure to it.

I think I became sidetracked right out of law school. All I wanted to do was criminal law. That's what I focused on. Somehow or another, I started working out of law school in the civil field. Once you get trapped in a particular field, it's fairly tough to get out of it. You gain experience in one area, and people want to hire you in that area. Thus, I trapped myself. I've written before about selling out to money as opposed to doing something you love, and this has done nothing but re-enforce that particular lesson. I've had a great track record so far in this job, and I daresay I'm actually good at it. I wasn't in the other fields that I've worked in. I think it was simply because I hated what I was doing. No more.

At any rate, a new personal crisis has reared its head. It's something most Americans deal with in their families at some point or another, but now it's here in my family. I speak of course, of the Big C. Cancer. My mother has it. It's inoperable. It's pretty bad.

Those that know my mother are thinking this is not a shock. She has been, and remains, at least a 3 pack per day smoker. That's pretty heavy, especially considering she's nearing 70. It's apparently been a shock to her, which I can well imagine. It's much like looking at your birth certificate, and finding an expiration date. We all know that we're going to die. It's just not something I think one can grasp until something like this comes up.

Along those same lines: we all intellectually know that smoking causes cancer. There's too much evidence to the contrary. Hell, even the tobacco companies will tell you that it does. Again, it's one of those things where you don't think it will actually happen to you, until it happens to you. Even now, my mother and father refuse to accept that smoking did this to them. "Lots of people die from lung cancer that have never smoked," they say. Very true. However, the particular type she has is ONLY caused by smoking. Nothing else. (Well, actually you could drink about 70 gallons of a certain kind of pesticide and theoretically cause it in mice, but I kinda doubt that was the deciding factor in this case.) And all those other people they mention? It might shock them to learn their cancers were probably caused by second-hand smoke.

I don't mean to turn this into a diatribe against smoking. If you want to, more power to you. I am now having pretty serious problems about those who inflict it on others, and scream their rights are being violated when they can't smoke in a restaurant anymore. Poison yourself at home. You don't have the right to kill everyone else around you, though. I am now faced with the possibility that I might develop this disease, and I've never smoked. My parents inflicted it on me, making me ride with the windows closed as they both puffed away, smoking in the house, etc. They so far have refused to accept they have done anything detrimental to my health.

Your outlook on certain things changes a bit when you have a child. At least, mine did. The question: now that we have concrete evidence of what smoking does, should we expose my son to it, just to save hurt feelings?

We have now created a problem in the family. My mother and father refuse to quit smoking. Period. The doctors have told her this will mean any treatment will be ineffective. Guess what that means?

I am downright evil if I expose my infant, innocent son to the smoke. It's real now. We KNOW what the smoking will do, because we now see concrete proof. So I'm not going to expose my child to it any more. I'm not trying to prevent my parents from seeing their grandchild. I love them. I will do whatever is necessary to help in this crisis. I'm unabashedly furious that my parents would do anything to cut short their time on earth with their children and grandchildren. But that doesn't mean I will stay away. I can't stay away. That would be even more wrong. I'm simply going to stay with other relatives while I'm home, and minimize my son's exposure to that which might kill him. I can't imagine a parent doing anything else.

Well, when we moved down the road to the relatives' house for the duration of the visit this weekend, my mother pitched a fit. So did my father, despite my efforts to not make a big deal about it. They see this decision as a slap in their face. It was never intended to be that at all. I feel I cannot dictate what they do in their own home. I can't ask them to stop smoking anymore. That's caused more fights than anything in our history.

The last thing I wanted to do was cause my mother any additional pain during this period, but what else was I to do? What else CAN I do? Am I evil for not staying with my parents when we visit? Is it not more evil to expose an innocent baby; who cannot make decisions or take care of himself, to a smoky house?

I don't know. I know I've made the decision. I've caused trouble that I never meant to cause. I've upset a very ill person and caused more stress, which is the last thing she needed. And I'm made to feel guilty about the decision. So am I right or wrong?

Anyway, that's the reason for the layoff. Sorry for those 3 of you who actually read this stupid thing.