Ad Astra

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish

I’ve been spending way too much time trying to keep up on all my blogs that simply have way too many items. I’ve shut down one and this one will follow soon. I am streamlining things in a hope that I will be able to actually start blogging as much as I would like. I will be doing so on the following LiveJournal sources:

Rants about politics, religion, culture, or social issues will be blogged on Splenic_Raver

Writerly aspirations and endeavors will be blogged on RobWriting

I hope to keep you as a friend on one of the above LJ accounts.

Ad Astra

You Call -- We Respond

There is a well-worn, if a bit off-colored, cliché about opinions to the effect that everyone has one. In following the hoopla about the non-response to a structure fire, there seems to be a dramatic increase in the number of orifices to the sun exclusion zone. The landscape is awash in diatribes, demagogy, and sanguineous heartfelt kvetching. Political trumpets are braying, teeth are gnashing, and the news media is having a collective orgasm. Lost in all this cacophony, the tragedies of this event are being distorted beyond recognition. “Surprise, surprise, surprise,” said Private Pyle. Every Rupert in the American press is taking a whack at the hornet’s nest. Joe the (insert-a-blue-collar-trade-here) has obliged with apian screeds that too often display a matching level of intellect. Not that my twin pennies are worth more but there are some misconceptions that I would like to clear up.

First, the method that the citizens of rural Obion County have in paying for their fire service is not new, not efficient, and probably will not last much longer. “Pay-for-Spray,” or variations on that theme, has been around since before Nero fiddled his flames. Excluding those who do not “opt in” also has a history and is something that should be consigned to those times (more on that in a bit). Regardless of how funds are collected for essential services (and a lot of convenient but non-essential ones as well), there will be a plethora of ways that people will screw it up. This includes mistakes in recording keeping, crediting accounts, and other miscues after the cash has been collected. To err is human and blah, blah, blah. That fact that Mr. Cranick forgot to pay his fee is irrelevant. Systems to remedy delinquencies (late fees, interest, surcharges, liens, fines, penalties, etc.) are S.O.P. in any community except, it seems, in the one outside the city limits of South Fulton TN. Wait a nanosecond, scratch that, I doubt that this is the lone exception. Be that as it may, the monetary aspect of this event has acted as a red herring in too many discussions about what happened.

Second, a member of Mr. Cranick’s family is responsible for starting the fire. The exact person is immaterial and depends on what news or online article is being read as are some of the details of the fire. The most likely scenario seems to be the improper use of a burn barrel leading to the ignition of surrounding one and ten hour fuels. Given the right conditions (wind, humidity, temperature, prior rainfall, and so forth), it is not surprising that the fire spread to the nearest exposure, namely the structure(s) on the property. The lesson to learn here is that if one wishes to incinerate ordinary combustibles, learn how to do it safely. Your local fire department should have all the information needed including posting of burn bans. Note: burn barrels have been illegal in the state of Washington since 2000 and for good reason -- the origin of too many wildfires has been traced back to a burn barrel.

Next is the issue of the pets that became casualties. The exact number of each species varies from one news source to another but it seems that cats and dogs were involved as opposed to giraffes and wombats. This is a tragedy, the scale of which varies from person to person with an aggregate score somewhere between family photos and scions. Whether or not these animals could have been saved is debatable to the extreme. Smoke and heat can quickly damage small lungs past the point of no return. Firefighters will rescue pets if feasible but will not do so if it is too dangerous.

This leads me to a short discussion of what hazards FFs will face for what reward. Succinctly, we will risk a lot to save a life (human – sorry), we will risk a little to save property, and we will risk nothing to save resources. Were that was strictly true. Exceptions are too many and too frequent. We spend over a hundred hours a month training and learning what to do in dangerous situations. Putting personal safety first, the safety of your fellow firefighter second, and everyone else a distant third is yammered at us continuously. Then the alarm comes in, the tones go out, and we respond. Sometimes it is overconfidence, sometimes it is the ghost of John Wayne, sometimes it is just a mistake, and sometimes the s-word just happens. Whatever it is, it leads to injury . . . or worse. The Dragon we fight is a nasty, ravenous beast that doesn’t care what, or whom, it consumes. We fight what most people fear. People call us brave, call us heroes, but it is just simply what and who we are – what we do defines a firefighter as much as breathing, eating, and sleeping.

We take pride in being members of the Dragon Slayers Union, local 9-1-1. Which is why the inaction of the South Fulton FD is something we find beyond the pale. I share with many fellow firefighters across the nation a sense of disgust, humiliation, anger, embarrassment, and betrayal for the inaction of my brethren in Tennessee. While I understand what they did, I cannot condone it. Firefighting should never be strictly about the bottom line. Sure, there are private fire departments that contract services for a profit, but the individual firefighter should never be involved in the billing process. As expensive as firefighting can be, and it can be very expensive, the manner in which it is paid for should not be a responsibility of the firefighter. If you call, we respond. Period. That is the way it should be, and is, in most parts of the country. The fire service has evolved from the days of the bucket brigade and something that should be relegated to history is deciding whose home to save based on race, creed, religion, politics, or ability to pay. The SFFD should have responded rapidly, put out the damn fire, and left financial matters to the bean counters. Firefighters fight fires. We do not count nickels, even when they add up to $75, and we do not consult lists before doing what we have been trained to do.
Zappa America

Spirit Day

Originally posted by neo_prodigy at Spirit Day 

It’s been decided. On October 20th, 2010, we will wear purple in honor of the 6 gay boys who committed suicide in recent weeks/months due to homophobic abuse in their homes at at their schools. Purple represents Spirit on the LGBTQ flag and that’s exactly what we’d like all of you to have with you: spirit. Please know that times will get better and that you will meet people who will love you and respect you for who you are, no matter your sexuality. Please wear purple on October 20th. Tell your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and schools.

RIP Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh (top)
RIP Justin Aaberg, Raymond Chase (middle)
RIP Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. (bottom)

REBLOG to spread a message of love, unity and peace.
Ad Astra

Draw Muhammad Day

Since I am a horrible artist, and I feel that this is a very important freedom of speech event, I'm just going to give the link for The Friendly Atheist who has done a wonderful job of collecting and posting a number of images which I hope will offend at least some people.  Not that I want to lay a dookey on someone's noggin, but NO ONE has the right not to be offended at the expense of another person's free speech.

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No Gold, Just Silence

If, by chance, you may have noticed my absence from all things LJ -- verily I say, fear not the silence, for there is a reason.  My precious computer; from which all electrons flow, may its bits quimer and queet into an endless string of bytes, genuflect in perfect obeisance to the holy CPU; is fast approaching its last entry. Alas, years of faithful service are devouring an ever shrinking hard drive. The Exec Butlers are finding it ever more difficult to stay polite in a room far past civil capacity and keep their laden trays from crashing to the carpet.


Huzzah! From the void comes the promise of a mighty Terra Warrior speeding to the scene on a Hertz Steed from the land of many gigs. The flat of his eye is a hulking score plus four and his armor boasts more then a tithing of accessories. The chanting of the acolytes seeds the air with a curried anticipation of his arrival. Soon, my darlings, soon.

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Taking a Stand

Copy this sentence into your LiveJournal if you believe in marriage between any people who wish to marry, be it a man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, man and woman and woman, whatever; and you don't want it "protected" by the bigots who think that gay marriage hurts it somehow.


The above is a variation of a shared-post currently going around LiveJournal.  A lot of the others have a statement that includes words to the effect that the writer is in a heterosexual relationship and does NOT feel threatened by any or all homosexual couples loving one another enough to enter into a marriage. I like this one as it also includes poly-, bi-, and anything else that humans can imagine -- and create.


Personally, I’ve been happily married to the woman I love for over seven years. Not once have I ever felt that our relationship has been endangered by anyone in any other relationship. I have felt a twinge or two from the Xtian right, Republicans, and some idiots on the high courts. This business about marriage being completely and absolutely about procreation is just silly at best but also a little bit scary. Ali and I will not be having children. That possibility was never part of the deal. Both of us are long past starting parenthood and are now enjoying grandparenthood. Politicians and judges need to get their collective heads out of their collective asses when handing down laws that have an effect on the general public. Restricting marriage to the domain of the fertile is asinine and prejudicial. It is long past the time when the people of this country should have thrown off the repressive yolk of myths, superstitions, and religions. Marriage should be between humans as defined by the participants. Our government should regulated marriage to protect against abuse, define property rights, and arbitrate differences when those in a relationship cannot do so for themselves. Under no circumstances should any political party or religious group be able to make those definitions for the general public.

Ad Astra

Controversial Survey

Snurched from .vivian_shaw



The Controversial Survey


A)     Would you do meth if it was legalized?



B)     Are you for or against abortion?

I am absolutely for a woman’s choice in the matter.  That includes the right to say no.  This should be a decision between the woman and her doctor.  Including the sperm donor is iffy.  I can see it in some cases but certainly not in most cases.


C)     Would our country (United States) fall with a woman president?

Fall?  Off of what?  And why would it happen under a female prez any more then the other gender?  Look how much our country has fallen under King George and Darth Cheney.  A woman as C-in-C would be a breath of fresh air.


D)     Do you believe in the death penalty?

Yes, but not the way it is currently administrated.  It should be short and to the point, with minimal appeals.  The prosecutor and judge should be held accountable in cases where it turns out the person was innocent.  Matter of fact, one of those two should be the ones to do the deed.  If proper protocol were followed, the number of death cases would diminish to those that are truly necessary.  Checks and balances should lean heavily toward life without parole.  Mistakes must mean accountability with consequences.


E)     Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?

Oh, hell yes.  Along with all other drugs.  People need to learn to mind their own business.  Addiction is a medical problem and legal remedies just make it worse.  That said, folks should also be held accountable.  Under the influence does not mitigate one’s responsibility for one’s action.  The consequences should be just as severe as if drugs did not exist.  And tax the crap out of it.


F)     Do you believe in God?

Not a case of believe or not to believe.  There is no such thing as deities, demi-gods, spirits, spooks, or any of that crap.  There simply is nothing along those lines to believe in.  Religion should be abolished.


G)     Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?

Marriage should not be determined on gender.  Or species for that matter.  Consent should be a requirement.  If you can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that that turnip wants to be your spouse, then go get’em.


H)     Do you think its wrong that so many Hispanics are moving to the USA?

Yes and no.  If the person in question is doing it legally, then welcome to the USA.  IF they are here illegally, then we should do whatever it takes to make them leave.  The first thing is to crack down, in draconian terms, on the employers of illegal aliens.  Prison terms should be meted out to CEOs, bosses, owners, BoDs, and anyone else responsible for this practice.  Slavery, in any shape or form, is wrong.  As Americans, we should not tolerate the creation of a sub-class of citizens . . . period.


I)      A twelve year old girl has a baby...should she keep it?

No.  Children should not be having children.  This is where society should step in and determine what is best for the welfare of the child.


J)      Should the alcohol age be lowered to 18?

Yes.  If they have to register for the selective service then they should be allowed to belly up to the bar.


K)     Assisted suicide is you agree?



L)     Do you believe in spanking your children?



M)     Would you burn an American flag for a million dollars?

Yes.  A free country means watching a symbol of that flag being burned in protest.  As much as that flag means to me, it cannot be the be-all, end-all for the USA.  The constitution should mean a whole lot more.


N)     A mother is declared innocent after murdering her 5 children in a temporary insanity case, do you agree?

No.  If someone becomes that insane, to murder FIVE people, then they have forfeited their right to life.  There is no treatment that can guarantee that they will not do it again.  Some people cannot be fixed.


O)     Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers?

Not really.  A lot of these questions require more then just a paragraph of two.  Anyone who would judge a person based on such short answers is probably not worth knowing and, more then likely, someone whose opinion is of little value.

Ad Astra

What Books have You Read?

I snurched this from rarelytame.

The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.

2) Italicize those you intend to read.

3) Underline books you have read so many times, you’ve almost memorized them.

4) Reprint this list in your own LJ so we can try and track down the people who've read only 6 and use devious methods to encourage them to read more.

OK, I’ve made a few changes -- sue me. Narnia was listed twice. The Hobbit and TLotR are really one series (what the heck -- as long as other authors are listed that way). I don’t consider the xtian bible as a classic (it also rubs me the wrong way when it is listed and other major religious works are left off). The complete works of W. Shakespeare include Hamlet, so why list it separately? Besides, a list that includes Dracula should also include Frankenstein. And this list is woefully deficient of SF/F classics by Clarke, Resnick, Haldeman, Silverberg, Anderson, McCaffrey, Le Guin, Zimmer-Bradley, Bujold, Yolen, and a whole slew of others. Matter of fact, I think I will make-up one of my own that includes just speculative fiction.

Anyway, here is the list:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 Foundation Series - Isaac Asimov

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (a lot of them if not most -- the problem I have with Will is that he was forced down my throat in public school and I have to overcome some deep seated revulsion before I can enjoy reading one of his plays)

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Barsoom Series - Edgar Rice Burroughs

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (I’ve tried several times to read this series but have failed to get into it for some reason; which is truly strange given my love of Tolkien -- maybe some day)

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On the Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo