Crawl On In

As you may or may not know, I drive a car with no back windshield.  It only costs a few hundred dollars to replace; I can easily afford to replace it.  I don’t mind it being out.

rear view of Subaru Forester without a back window
Back window: unneeded.

It got knocked out by some drunk douchy 20-somethings in a Jeep. They were drinking coronas and headed for some velvet rope bar in Mid Town after asking the parking lot attendant at the Continental Club where it was. They projectile-disposed of their bottles and one took out my back window.  I was parallel parked on a side-street.

Anyway, I drive my 2000 Subaru Forester around without a back window.

I parked it overnight in upper Montrose last week.  A few blocks from Cecil’s bar.  In the morning it was clear that someone had “broken in”.  Not actually broken anything, but illegally entered my car by crawling in the back window.

Normally my back seats are folded down. They had been placed back up to better access the literal junk that’s in my car and needs to be thrown away.  All the junk (empty bottles and cans, junk mail, junk food wrappers, free newspapers, …) was nicely shuffled and aerated.

All my insurance and business cards were knocked off the sun visor. The manual was dutifully removed from the glovebox, as was the air pressure gauge and spare pen.  The drugs I had in the car (ibuprofen and Benadryl – both car cooked into unknown pharmaceutical forms) still remained.  The cash ($2) in my ash tray and checkbook remained behind.  There were several phone charging cables that remained.

I noticed the passenger door was unlocked, no doubt their egress.  I also noticed the eyeglass holder was empty.  My cheap sunglasses has been increasingly annoying me lately.  I have been meaning to replace them.  The annoyance of their catawampus alignment hadn’t quite co-incided with my presence at a place to replace them.  I dug through the detritus before leaving and could not find them.

That bastard had stollen my crappy sunglasses.  Good riddance, and thanks dumb ass bastard.  Did you really think I would have anything of value in an unlockable car?

I drove straight to the grocery store for some breakfast, some Dr Pepper, and some new $10 sunglasses that fit quite nicely.

Mantle of Leadership

Yesterday Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he is not running for reelection.

It was an announcement he was expecting to make after the legislative season, but was forced to make in this second special session because the Republicans tripped on their hubris trying to pass oppressive abortion laws at the last second of the first special session.

Magic The Gathering: Mantle Of LeadershipHe needed to get this announcement made because all the other Republicans in Texas politics need to start shuffling for their job upgrades and needed to know his plans so they could make theirs.

Last week Perry announced he had something to announce. Since then, people have been speculating. Most Texas watchers supposed he would be doing as he did. It humored me that CNN reported in the other direction. Continue reading Mantle of Leadership

Spring’s a Sprung

Despite some of our late spring cool blasts that have dropped our weather into the 50s at points through April, spring has arrived in Houston.  It was a fabulously beautiful day today, and this weekend is packed to the brim with events.

Saturday

There was one major event on saturday that I’ll be missing.  It’s a crawfish boil at a friend’s house in the Northern Heights (above 20th street). I love crawfish, and it’s an easy bike, but my social calendar was already booked when it showed up.  Also being missed, there’s a Day of Derby going on at Houston Indoor Sports. Continue reading Spring’s a Sprung

Marriage Equality is a No Brainer

Today there are two very important cases being discussed at the US Supreme Court.  Whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed under President Clinton is constitutional.  It’s not, and Clinton has publicly said as much recently.  And whether California’s Prop 8, which bans gay marriage, is discriminatory with be discussed as well.

HRC logoIt has long been my contention that the discussion of marriage equality for non heterosexual couples is largely hindered my nomenclature.  The meaning of the word marriage is doing (at least) double duty.  I propose we retire the word and replace it with two others: r-marriage and g-marriage.  Or minimally, footnote our discussions to clarify what it is we are saying when we say “marriage”.

For millennia there has been r-marriage.  Marriage within a religious context.  It is sacred, and for many it is a bond before god that will not be broken until the death of one of the members.

For several hundred years we’ve been living under law that attempts to separate church and state.  Despite that we have legally defined g-marriage, Government Marriage.  This is something that requires government documents, and government fees, and when the relationship is terminated more government fees and documents, and perhaps facilitation by government judges.

There are hundreds of other rights conferred to people who are g-married.  These rights have nothing to do with religion; they could mostly be boiled down to fiscal issues.  These are the rights that are under debate.

No one is trying to change anything regarding r-marriage.  Churches will not be forced to marry anyone they believe is unworthy before god  to be married.  No one!

I question whether the government should even acknowledge marriage.  I would abolish it.  But that’s a radical point of view.  As mentioned, there are hundreds of laws referencing these 2-person bondings.  Removing the g-marriage concept would effect all these historical laws.  Indeed I wonder if the limit of the relationship to 2 people will continue in the distant future.

But there is no doubt the laws conferred by our secular legal system should not be confined by the moral codes of any religion.  Accordingly, there is absolutely no reason to restrict g-marriage on r-marriage’s standards.  Any two people should be able to marry under the eyes of our government, and under the eyes (or not) of any god they espouse.

When you hear people arguing about this issue, try to mentally flag when they’re using the word to mean one thing or the other.

One Unwanted Gun Gone is a Good Thing

The back and forth on gun safety regulation is going strong and I expect it to continue earnestly through January if not longer. I hope something come’s of it.

Today in an NBC article there was a 2008 quote from a representative of the New Speak named Independent Institute. NBC News describes them as “conservative”, which seem reasonable given the quote.  The Institute itself claims to be non-partisan and says it “sponsors in-depth studies of critical social and economic issues”.

So, if the studies are in-depth, the quotes coming from their Research Director are a bit hyperbolic if not all out lies.

“It’s like trying to drain the Pacific with a bucket,” Alex Tabarrock of the conservative Independent Institute told USA Today in 2008There are an estimated 310 million guns in the U.S. — about one for every U.S. resident.

I would certainly not accuse Mr. Tabarrock of being a scientist.

There are legitimate questions as to whether gun buy-backs are useful or successful.  It depends greatly on how you would measure the success.  It seems the same people that would say “if we get one criminal off the streets, we’re doing good” aren’t willing to extend that tenuous logic to “if we get one weapon of possible death off the street, we’re doing good.”

If we even accept the sisyphian challenge false dichotomy Mr. Tabarrock presents us with, one intimating that unless we remove every gun from circulation that gun crimes will not be diminished, we should look at the numbers he is trying to scare us with.

In the last week I’ve read newspaper articles that totaled over 5,000 guns purchased back from citizens. With 310M guns at large, we would have to have 61,000 such weeks, or less than 1200 years.  Those are all rough numbers, but 1200 years is still a long time, and if that’s the point you’re trying to make, make it on that merit.

Now, the Pacific Ocean has 6.6 x 10^20 liters of water (1.7 x 10^20 gallons).  If we’re equating buckets with the guns, and not one buy-back event, and we stipulate that a bucket is about a gallon. That would leave us with 3.4 x 10^16 weeks or 653,846,153,846,153 years to empty the Pacific Ocean. That’s 544,871,794,871 times longer than slowly, in an unorganized manner, buying back guns.

That’s a ridiculous comparison.

But the implied point is equally ridiculous.  Buy back plans are not about appreciably reducing crime numbers.  The point is, if there is any unwanted gun, we should get it out of circulation.  All guns should be owned by responsible adults that handle and store them properly.  In the same way that if you have used motor oil, we need to provide a safe place for you to dump it, if you no longer want to be responsible for maintaining your gun, we should make it easy for you to get rid of it.  Responsibly.

Continue reading One Unwanted Gun Gone is a Good Thing

I Care More Than You Do

That’s what I hear when I listen to the media: “I care more than you do.”

Today there was another tragic gun related mass murder. This time at a school in Connecticut. As is always the case in injury or death to children, some will claim they have more sympathy for those effected because they are parents.  They don’t state it that way, but that’s the implication of their unreasoned words.

This is itself unsympathetic and self-important. Continue reading I Care More Than You Do