Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Homelessness a Choice

I just saw an article on the website of the City of Ft. Worth that stated that the "Homeless Czar" of the United States was coming to that city. It went on to say that Mayor Mike Moncrief would express his concerns over the "homelessness crisis" there. There are 4,000 people living on the streets of Ft. Worth.

I have seen interviews with some of the homeless, and they indicate that they have a great deal of freedom that they wouldn't want to give up for a permanent address. With our government at all levels taxing us to distraction, funding a war across the planet, and wasting money right and left, sometimes I sympathize with those we usually consider "less fortunate".

I once saw a documentary about a homeless man. The film crew arranged for him to "find" $100,000, then followed him as he spent it all in about six months, and once again moved in under a bridge. He "didn't want nobody telling [him] what to do."

Well, maybe the government can supply housing to some of them who want it, but they won't eliminate the phenomenon. And we'll have another government program to waste our money. On the other hand, if there wasn't so much government control over our lives, we would all find a place to sleep, and no one would worry about it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Digital Millenium Copyright Act - Public Enemy No. 2

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 was the second worst piece of legislation in recent memory. It sold all the public's rights to use and modify ideas over to large media companies, and made it possible for companies such as Disney and the large recording companies to use technology to prevent their own customers from exercising the rights which we still retain. If a computer professional writes software to overcome these barriers to fair use, they are breaking the law to enforce a right. How does this make sense?

We've had the infamous DMCA for 9 years now, and there are a host of unintended consequences. Congress, in buying a bill of goods from Hollywood and the Recording Industry of America, passed the DMCA based on lies, and the results are disastrous. You really must read this article from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I'll Take Liberty, Thanks

I heard recently that someone famous once said, "I believe that democracy is the best form for government to take, too bad it's never been tried." I don't know if I agree with that assessment. Truly democratic government would have the whole populace voting on every law and regulation, which would not only be very cumbersome, but would not guarantee good laws. Any individual's vote or opinion is heavily influenced by the news media, and "He who owns the media decides what is put in it."

So we have this "representative" form of government, and the rule of law. I really don't care if we have a democracy. I really don't care if the majority rules. My only desire is for freedom and liberty. I want the Bill of Rights to be effective, and enforced. The second amendment says that "Congress shall make no law abridging the right to keep and bear arms," yet we have over 200 Federal laws doing just that. That amendment was written so that we could protect ourselves from tyranny, in a day when any man with a rifle was just as effective as any soldier, but we lost parity with the military many, many years ago. The second amendment supports all the others.

The first amendment is supposed to guarantee free speech, but the so-called "fairness doctrine" passed a few years ago was a gag order for any American who wanted to speak out about elections, unless they were in a "camp" or in the "media". Many of our media protection laws don't apply to bloggers unless you follow a bunch of guidelines and act much like the traditional media.

The fourth amendment is supposed to protect us from "unlawful search and seizure", but now the government is spying on us all, and AT&T, who is breaking the law in collusion with this administration, may never be brought to justice, because of the political powers that be.

The Patriot Act is the worst trashing of the Bill of Rights ever enacted, yet was largely unopposed. The Department of Homeland Security is a dangerous amalgam of many smaller agencies, and cannot do what it was created for. The events of 9-11-2001, while tragic, were not as devastating to this country as they are made out to be, and 6 years later, we are not any safer. We are actually less secure, because our army is stretched to the breaking point. The *Government* cannot protect us all. As Ben Franklin once said, "Those who would give up liberty to purchase a little safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." See Neither Liberty Nor Safety, by Robert Higgs.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Old barn

I've always been drawn to old buildings, because of the textures on them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Early gesture drawing

All the instruction I had before doing this was "Try to get the overall shape, don't take your eyes off the subject, and don't erase!"

Friday, August 10, 2007

Extinction, Anyone?

I just heard on the radio about US efforts to eradicate poppy fields in Afghanistan or someplace. Why do we want to do that? To beat the drug cartels. Why do we have drug cartels? Because the price of illegal drugs is so high. Why is the price of a naturally-occurring, cheap-, and easy-to-produce substance so high? Because the US government made them illegal, and crooks have to be well-paid for their nefarious activities to make up for the risk of prison. And because drug addicts will have their poison, no matter what it costs.

But isn't 'eradicate' something like 'to make extinct'? Has the US government decided that a plant that God created is not worth having around anymore? What happened to the Endangered Species Act? What happened to the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and all those types? Where are they in all this?

Is there another solution to this 'problem'? What if we let the air out of the drug cartels' tires? We could do this by taking the profit out of the illicit drug trade. How? If these drugs were legal, other producers would enter the market at much lower prices. (Economics 101)

Let's attack this problem from the other end. Let's say a bunch of people have a problem. They like narcotics. Now, this is a medical problem. It could also be a moral problem, depending on your beliefs. Why also make it a legal problem? You deal with medical problems with treatment. You deal with moral problems with education. When you introduce the criminal justice system into it, then you have police, prosecutors, judges, jailers, smugglers, dealers, cartels, and a vast network of clandestine suppliers. You've created a whole new industry. An industry, by the way, which has cost the United States trillions of dollars over the past 70 years or so.

We even have a man in Washington in charge of US 'drug policy'. He probably makes a couple hundred grand a year to sit in an office and oversee the 'war on drugs', which we have been losing for 30 years or more. How many people do you know who make such a handsome salary for failure?

So we go out and try to 'eradicate' the plants that some really poor farmers in Afghanistan are raising so they can feed their families. You know this has been tried before, don't you? You know it failed before, don't you? And if we were able to eradicate all the poppy flowers, and all the coca trees, and all the marijuana plants in the world, we would have fewer species left in the world, and addicts (kids, too) would turn to synthetic drugs made in homemade labs. Oh, yeah, they've already done that.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Gun Rights the Answer to Crime

We just heard about a tragedy in Newark, NJ, where 4 young adults were lined up and shot during a robbery.

The mayor said a lot was being done to round up fugitives and help ex-convicts reintegrate into society. Both of these are fine things to do. However, if a single law-abiding citizen had been in the vicinity carrying a concealed weapon, this tragedy could have been stopped. If more law-abiding citizens were armed, these criminals would think twice about doing this.

Let's face facts. If New Jersey insists on keeping the vast majority of its population unarmed, the gangs and other criminals will feel safe to kill whomever they want. The police can't be everywhere. The largest deterrent to crime is the feeling among criminals that the next house they break into could lead to their death.

This is related to the 911 mentality. Many Americans are willing to give up all their civil rights so that the government can protect them. What they don't realize is that the government, the police, the Department of Homeland Security, cannot protect us all. Never have, never will. Self-defense is a fundamental human right in all societies.

You all need to wake up and smell the coffee.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Wow, is this guy ever going to write?

It's been a really long time since I've published. What with work being crazy, trying to do some drawing and painting, and scanning all my old sketchbooks into digital form, writing has been really far down my priority list. I'm going to start posting some sketches soon.

It's been raining almost every day for over a month. I lost track of how much we've had, buy my pond has been running over for a long time. We've just got out and mowed the pasture for the first time this year (still not finished - hay, just getting started) The flowering plants are as tall as the rear tire on my tractor in places, about 4 ft. or so. I was going to try to cut a dead tree off the back side of my tank dam, haven't been able to get near it. I think a machete and an ax are called for.

A friend of mine, Yarnmaven, turned me on to Mustang grape jelly, so I went out to the county road near my house and picked 4 gallons. We've made three batches of jelly.


Your Life Path Number is 6

Your purpose in life is to help others

You are very compassionate, and you offer comfort to those around you.
It pains you to see other people hurting, and you do all in your power to help them.
You take on responsibility, and don't mind personal sacrifice. You are the ultimate giver.

In love, you offer warmth and protection to your partner.

You often give too much of yourself, and you rarely put your own needs first.
Emotions tend to rule your decisions too much, especially when it comes to love.
And while taking care of people is great, make sure to give them room to grow on their own.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Not Enough Time

There's never enough time to do all the things you want to do, plus the things you need to do, plus the things someone thinks you should do. Right now, my desk at home is piling up with bills and bank statements waiting to be entered. The cows need to be fed, the llamas need to be sheared, the hay man will be over in about a week, and dead wood is laying around my pasture. I need to catch some fish out of one of my ponds and transfer them to another pond, but usually it's too hot or I'm too tired. I've really gotten back into the flytying thing. I spent some time yesterday gathering up tools and door prizes for my classes. Saturday I spent some time at our local fair, and helped with a chili cook-off. That plus playing with our granddaughter, eating out Friday night, and watching a couple of movies, and it was a very full weekend.

As we get older, we realize how little time we have to do more things with less energy. There must come a point where we start to jettison some of our activities. It is a clarifying experience. I pity those who never reach that point.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Flytying class

On Wednesday I taught a flytying class for Camp Coca-Cola, to some 7-9th graders. Although teaching kids to tie flies is rather tedious and way less fun than teaching fly casting, it was curiously enjoyable. I think it was a combination of the drive, getting out of the office, the setting, and the young people. They were very nice.

I wasn't exactly late, but I wasn't early, and that cut into class time just for setting up tables, etc. I had planned to do some knot-tying, but skipped that. We finished one fly and then I rushed to give out door prizes. I think they all enjoyed it, and I got rid of some of my boodle. (Boodle - the stuff you collected years ago, and no longer have a need for. I don't know if that's a real definition, or I just made it up.)

The leaders of the camp were very nice, also, and after I signed out and was walking out the door, they gave me a "Camp Coca-Cola" baseball cap. I think I might do it again.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Save the Internet

I just wrote another letter to the FCC about the Internet. You can read my letter at You should write one, too.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May happenings

It's been almost a month since I wrote. I felt that this might happen when I started this thing, but I will strive to do better. Since my May 4 post on disablism, I have:
  • planted a lawn
  • attended AccessU, two days of training in web accessibility issues
  • held accessibility/usability meetings on a web application I've been developing
  • had lunch with my old Tai Chi instructor, who has moved
  • taught flycasting at a kid's fishing event at Palmetto State Park
  • gone fishing a couple of times.
Many thoughts have passed through my mind, never to be recovered in their entirety. I've had a lot of fun with flickr. I've been a photo buff for many, many years, and this new thing is just a great way to share. I've got some great slides for my screensaver and my computer desktop, too. I don't feel that this is a misuse of the fair use doctrine for copyrighted works. I don't sell photos I've downloaded, and cycle them off my computer periodically. One of the great things about the Internet and flickr is that you never have to become bored with your space.

Friday, May 4, 2007


A bunch of people were blogging against disablism on May 1. I missed it by a couple of days, but here goes. I'm not disabled right now, but you never know when something may happen and change that.

My pet peeve a few years ago was ramps. My college campus was very hilly, with stairs everywhere in the sidewalks. They had installed some ramps, but you had to go around the building to use them. They were only wide enough for one wheelchair at a time, and some had several switchbacks in order to negotiate the hillside. This meant that the ramp was one way at a time. The ramp to the library was way out of the way, but they did have a "basement" door which could be used if you were actually in a wheelchair.

At the time, I was an older student, taking computer science courses. Now, they make computer science books really thick and heavy. I couldn't walk around all day with a load of books, especially after the open-heart surgery, so I used a luggage cart. Thus, I was a regular user of the ramps. The aforementioned library door wasn't accessible to me, since I wasn't actually sitting in a wheelchair. It is in cases such as this where some provision is made for the disabled, but is not legal for all disabled persons.

Another pet peeve is the disabled parking. It is fine for persons with a sticker, hang-tag or special license plates, but what if you hurt your leg that morning getting out of the tub? It doesn't matter how far you have to limp to get into the store. But I have seen many individuals get out of a specially tagged car and walk into a store with no problems. Well, the system isn't perfect, and I don't want to have camera surveillance in parking lots (any more than we already do), but by creating more and more of these special slots, the stores (by government decree) encourage abuse of the system. And they don't all have to be the first ones in front of the door. Many disabled persons just need an extra roomy slot so they can get their scooter out of the car. The distance from the door is irrelevant.

Friday, April 20, 2007

First Post

I've been contemplating having a blog for literally months now. Every once in a while, something happens that I just want to shout about. The latest big thing is the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Now there is going to be a blogging event about the barriers to people with disabilities, and it will happen next Tuesday, May 1. I just decided it's now or never, and just Did It.

I chose the name in about 1 minute. I called my blog Artistic License, because I like to do artistic things and try to be creative, and no matter what I write about, it'll be covered by artistic license. Choosing the web address was much harder, since a lot of URLs similar to artistic, artistic-license, etc. were already taken. The auto-generation genie wanted me to put my name in there, but I just didn't want to, so it took a bunch of tries before I settled on one.