Wednesday, April 27, 2011

America and International Aid

Hi Friends; There are times when I look at the national debt, the taxes I pay, the condition of the roads, the schools, the dandylions in my front yard.....an affront to all things proper, I say. I look at this and say that we need to get our meddling butts out of other countries, out of the politics and lives of other peoples and people groups. I say 'bring our soldiers home' and think this will solve all our problems. I am decidedly parochial, untraveled, and unwise.....but I'm learning. Perhaps this is the very one reason, the only reason, the need, even, for reaching out. America has much to offer the world, and much to learn from it. May we always remember to reach out to lift up rather than to push down.

Tell me what you think of this video: video

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It will likely make me stranger....

Hi Everyone;

Heading off to visit the folks for Easter. Have a great holiday, my friends. I've got one scheduled...hopefully that will get you through the next days. :)

-randy.

Fear

Hello My Friends.

Fear is an aspect of my life that I am working to remove. Unfortunately, it began a long time ago, so there it is. I refer to it as my Ozy. Perhaps that is the nature of all things to be feared: without upkeep it whithers and dies. Blown away by the sands of time, until only the barest memory of what we feared is still there. In fact, we may not even recall why we were once so afraid, only that we were and so that little bit remains.

People speak of evolution as a crime against Christianity. Maybe it is. I don't know. I know that people do evolve. They learn, adapt, and in time the make-up of what was once the common man is a bit different. Look at the rise of computers....for a quite self-serving example. I actually remember learning on...ready?...an 088 chip. It was faster than the 086. For those so young, the Pentium was so named because it became illegal to trademark a number....and that's when the 586 chip became the Pentium. Yep...I'm that old. Actually, I used an Apple 2e...but never did understand it, so I don't include it in my stories. But, what was once something of incredible wonder and intrigue is now nothing more than a bump on the evolution of computing.

Ok, so what does that have to do with fear. What does that have to do with faith?

Well, we fear something because it is outside our understanding or control. We fear something becuase it is powerful and overwhelming. We fear something because it is dangerous to us. The Christians speak of Fear Thy God as these aspects of fear. I deny the last definition in regard to God. Maybe I shouldn't. But, I am unable to care for something I fear. Example: I had a very bad experience with pit bulls. I know that they are often the most loving of dogs, but I still had that experience and so they are a breed of dog that I can't love.... a dog lover who won't love a dog he fears. If I am to love God, I am to do without fear of Him.

We as a people do evolve. I recall a time when my father couldn't set the time on the vcr. Now he has a computer... has even less idea what he's doing than I do, which is frightening, but my point is that away he goes....mostly playing solitaire. My Grandfather wouldn't even bother with that. And, this manner of information retrieval, of communication, even of games has changed the way we think...the very nature and aspect of the brain has changed to accomodate this new manner of fast paced information. Evolution is real and is a survival aspect of our very makeup. It is what allows us to learn to ride a bike, swim, and type....and never forget how. We didn't come into this world with that ability, it was learned.

So, yes....things seem to be improving, seem to be getting better. On the books yet remain these little vestiges of a once powerful fear, but they have crumbled. At best the villians of the coming times may attempt to resurrect an empire of fear and condemnation, but it will be a copy, a losing battle against the forward march of time and understanding. It is my belief that it will be one of devestation as well, but I won't get into that. No, I will say, though, that the only way our nation, our world, will be able to move forward is that we look back only with admiration for the people who were there that we loved ~ then face back into the day and love the people who are to come.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jordan Brown update....the presumption of innocence vs. the presumption of integrity

Hi Friends;

A short update and some interesting issues. This is a picture of young Jordan. In his case, he is up against an interesting oddity of America....the presumption of innocence accorded to the defendant, and the presumption of integrity accorded to the officials investigating the case.

We are all familiar with the presumption of innocence. The presumption of integrity is a bit more elusive, but understood. What it means is that the officials are presumed to be honest, with integrity and honor in their dealings, acting in accordance with the laws and procedures appropriate to the postitions.

What happens if that presumption is misplaced? A frightening consideration, a scary thought. The very people who are involved in determining if there is a crime more less the direction of the investigation are given great powers presuming they have no agenda, aren't lazy, and are honest in thier charges. Paranoia, bad fiction, and real life horror stories speak differently. Please visit this link.

Thoughts...

Hi Friends:

I just watched another video about another Christian group talking about the end of the world being brought about by glbt folks.

Maybe I need to tell you about my youth. I could tell you how I grew up teased, I grew up knowing I was different and fought anyone who pushed at me hard enough to make me prove I wasn't different. I could tell you about how I became a bully to show that I was just like everyone else. I could tell you how I remember so very vividly going to a party with my "girlfriend". We kissed in the driveway; long, toungefilled kisses with groping hands and I had my mind searching for how to do whatever I was doing, thinking my way through a kiss....and, how my mind would go back to the fooling around that I did with the a couple neighborhood kids and how wonderful that felt and how I wanted it to last forever.

I knew I was different, and it scared me to death. Still does. Everytime I hear someone talking about someone who is gay and I see the facial expressions, everytime I wonder if I will be forced to "out" myself a little bit more as I begin to defend someone's right to be different, every time I look in the mirror and wonder where my life went, trying to live like other people want me to live. How very wasteful. How so very wasteful.

You wonderful people have asked me "why don't you come out". And I know, it is because I am still afraid. I have lived so long, so much of my life, hiding who I was from those who ought to love me regardlesss of who I find sexy. Can I simply stop and say 'Heeere's Randy!'?

There are some of you out there who have been outed, or outed yourself, and you are suffering the consequences. So many have even gone so far as to commit suicide, being unable to stand the criticism and the bullies. You believe yourself in a living hell that has only one escape. I tell you that you are not in hell. You are free.

You are free like the butterfly, fighting free of the confining mess of his transformation. You are free despite the horrible things people say. You are my heroes. You are my idols, my wanna-be's, my hopes.

You see, hell is living a lie. Hell is living alone, afraid of what will be said. Hell is knowing that it is dumb to feel this way, wasteful, horrible, and yet afraid to venture out. I tell you, you are suffering, but you are not in hell.

So, I tell you and hope that it will somehow strengthen me; no matter what assholes like Pat Robinson, Westborough Church, and who-ever else wants to preach hate from the pulpit; no matter the bullies that are so desperate for their time in the sun - it's very short lived, you know...it peaks in highschool and then is gone; no matter what people "who love you" seem to think, BE FREE.

Monday, April 18, 2011

No, someone made this up, right?

Yes, someone did make this up. They fooled me....and I am laughing at myself for being got. http://www.landoverbaptist.org/eastereggs.html

And I quote from the above linked page: "Are Your Children Playing With Lucifer's Testicles? is a Bible based book for Christian Pparents who by lack of faith can't afford to send their childrent to a decent Christian school. Their precious youngsters are infected by the secular filth and lies being taught by unsaved teachers in America's upblic school system. The book teaches parents how to easily explain to their children that Easter (as it is celebrated by the Unsaved) has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus Christ but is actually a holiday celebrating lewd and sexually explicit pagan rituals of fertility. "It's ot that difficult to understand," says Author/Creation Scientist, Dr. Daniel Cameroon. "In the old days, deluded pagans would gather round and hump like bunnies on Easter Sunday because they thought it would make their tomatoes grow faster." Dr. Cameroon explains that it doesn't matter what god or idol the Pagans were humping under on Easter Sunday, because any god other than "Jesus" is "Satan". Dr. Cameroon dedicates four chapters in the book to Easter Eggs. "Easter Eggs are one of the wiliest tools of the Devil," he says. "Pagan kids didn't have anything to do on Easter Sunday because their mommies and daddies were stuck in a false temple all day, naked and writhing around with their neighbors in Satanic orgies of the flesh. You see, parents had to come up with a way to occupy their children while they were awway from home, praying and fornicating under the altar of Satan. And since they didn't have babysitters back then, they gave their kids eggs to play with and sometimes paint,"he says. "But the reason they chose eggs had nothing to do with any sort of fertility or fertilizers (as some misguided Christian historieans would have you believe). Nope, it was because of Lucifer's Testicles!.........And I won't say a word more about it! I don't want to ruin the book for you"".

I am speechless. I am unbelievably agog.

Oh, here's part of their best seller list:

  • Nancy Boy Chrissy, the Bedwetting Sissy! by Pastor Deacon Fred.
  • The Little Jew: Levi, The Dancing Cockroach by Gloria Steinhunt.
Oh, and here's a review by Pastor Deacon Fred: ..."The evidence is there, and thank you for taveling to the caves of Kenya to brave the dangerous coloreds in the region!.......It damands a full cleansing in every home of ALL evidence of Easter eggs, Easter egg paint, and rounded dippers. I sent two of my grandchildren to the Landover Baptist Memorial Hospital before even reaching Chapter 7, and if you are a True Christian (he trademarks those two words).....

Now, that is the same author of the above book "Nancy Boy...". I'm willing to bet those kids are going to be in need of more hospitalization soon due to this cat.

Oh, this is funny, too: List price: 18.95 Our price: 27.99 You save: Nothing. Only Jesus saves. Availability: usually ships within 24 hours (if Jesus wants it to).

Folks, these people are serious!!! Voting. And likely armed!!!

Oh, My Lord! There's more: Daddy? Why Did Jesus Kill Grandma? by Pastor Deacon Fred

http://www.landoverbaptist.org/grandma.html

Ok, no joke, this is - are you ready? - a coloring book for kids. Don't believe me, check the link.

Again, I quote:<p>

Remember dear Grandma, who baked so well?

Soon she will be baking - this time in Hell!

Dear Daddy, why Grandma? What did she do?

Don't question it child, or God will GET YOU!

Ok, if you've gotten this far, if you don't know whether to laugh or scream, see comment #3 and follow the link. this one got me,too, folks....but damn it was funny!

you gotta be kidding, right?

Nope, this one is for real....all the scarier. Now you can see how the above one got me.

A bit of the cuties....it's been a long wait. Sorry.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Things got dark...

The end of the world didn't arrive.....maybe it should have. Won't go there. But, it's been dark, it's been a bit filled with sorrow, increduality, and hurt. And, it probably shouldn't have affected me so much. But, my recent focus on the foolishness of calling kids adults, of giving up on them and throwing them in prison, for life, for 25 years....it's just so wrong. And, it's had my attention to the detriment of other issues, other tasks.

Then I saw this video. It made me smile; it made me laugh, and it was such a "awwww" puller that I had to share it with you.

I wish our leaders would understand....sometimes things just don't always go the way we would prefer. Sometimes we are faced with a more difficult road, one filled with certain struggles and difficulties. Sometimes our hopes may be dashed a bit, but that doesn't mean we give up. It doesn't mean we throw away what is immeasurably precious. We need to find a better way.

My thanks to MattyB for reminding us that there are some very important issues in life. video

What it takes...thoughts on disposable lives.

Last year, after careful consideration, considerable concern over financial obligations, and even concern that I wouldn't have the time to commit to the task....after such deliberations I chose to look for a pet.

I filled out applications. The wonderful people at the local humane society and the local rescue volunteer organization require applications to adopt a pet. You must be working regularly, have adequate housing for a pet, and references. If you've ever had a pet, you must supply the vet's name, you must be prepared for a home visit, and you must understand that this is not a simple undertaking but requires committment to this pet for the life of the pet. I must recognize that I'm responsible for the pet, that I must feed it, bathe it, and play and train it in the way that it should comport itself.

Even then it caught me somewhat flat footed. I didn't have the back yard fenced in yet, I had to purchase food bowls that day, and I gave up my favorite old blankets for bedding. And, then, a week later, I brought my new friend home to share my life.

I have repeatedly been surprised by vet bills. Oh, my goodness! am I in the wrong line of work! And dog toys!!! Thankfully I found that my pups likes a dirty old sock and an old towel as her favorite toys. Go figure, but I'm not complaining. I've cleaned up my share of indoor ooopses, outdoor messes, torn-up work shoes, caps, shorts, even a plant or two. And, you know, it was all my choice to have this pet, to bring this pet into my home, and she is worth every moment...even the frustrating moments like last night when I woke up frozen and on the edge of the bed because pups took me blankets and all but pushed me out of the bed.

Now, would you like to know what it takes to have a child?

Well, you don't have to necessarily be able to feed it. And, you don't necessarily need to be able to clothe it, bathe it, house it, give it medical care, teach it, love it, provide hope and warmth, train it up in the ways it should grow.....you don't even have to commit to a lifetime of care for it.

Oh, well, not me....see, I'm gay. I'm single. I'm not suitable. I can't even take one they are going to simply throw away. It's the principle of the thing, evidently. But, I have a dog....I qualified for that. Well, I didn't let on that I was gay. Do you think that would have mattered?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

minors behind bars

Nearly 500 teens serving life terms in Pa. prisons

Monday, September 29, 2008

By Moriah Balingit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania leads the nation in teen lifers -- prisoners serving life without parole for crimes they committed as minors -- and last week legislators met to examine the issue for the first time.

In a courtroom in Pittsburgh, 18-year-old twins Devon and Jovon Knox faced exactly that fate -- life without parole -- for killing 18-year-old Jehru Donaldson in a botched car-jacking in July 2007, when they were 17.

They join the 444 teen lifers currently held in Pennsylvania prisons, which is about a fifth of the nation's total and 110 more than runner-up Louisiana, according to a May 2008 report by Human Rights Watch.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and called the hearing, said he was startled to learn that Pennsylvania held the No. 1 spot and that the United States is the only country in the world that regularly imprisons youths for life.

"That got my attention," he said. "I felt a responsibility to look at [the issue] ... which is why we held the hearing."

Some states have considered laws that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles or that would eliminate the penalty altogether. Five states and Washington, D.C., prohibit the practice altogether.

Last year in Pennsylvania, nine people were sentenced to life for crimes they committed as minors. Today, 10 people in Allegheny County await trial for crimes they committed as minors and could wind up in prison for life. (First- and second-degree murder are the only crimes that result in a minor being sentenced to life in prison.)

The issue has been polarizing, with human rights activists arguing that sentencing a juvenile to life in prison is excessively harsh and some victims advocates arguing that those who commit homicide should spend the rest of their lives in prison, regardless of their age.

Still, it's the number -- 444 -- that troubles some.

"It could be a commentary on Pennsylvania law ... it could also be a commentary on society," said Judge Kim Berkeley Clark, who heads the county's Family Division and has adjudicated some juvenile homicide cases. "It makes me very sad."

Elizabeth Calvin of Human Rights Watch, which published the report that got Mr. Greenleaf's attention, said a major contributing factor is the rigidity of Pennsylvania law, which requires anyone charged with homicide, regardless of age, to be tried as an adult and has a mandatory minimum sentence of life without parole for first- and second-degree murder.

She called it "a double whammy for a kid, without any review."

In Pennsylvania, first-degree murder is defined as an intentional killing, generally premeditated; second-degree murder is any homicide that occurs during the commission of a felony.

Pennsylvania may be the only state that has a mandatory sentence of life without parole for both first- and second-degree murder, said James Fellman, a Tampa, Fla.-based attorney and the chairman of the American Bar Association's Commission on Sentencing.

"It makes no sense at all," he said. "That's why there's degrees of murder. There needs to be different sentences for different crimes."

Experts say that the exclusion rule, which requires anyone charged with murder to be tried as an adult, also contributes to Pennsylvania's number. Minors have the opportunity to have their cases transferred to juvenile court through a decertification hearing, but in homicide cases, such transfers are rare.

Ms. Calvin said many minors get convicted under felony murder rule, a type of second-degree murder conviction that holds all participants in a felony that results in murder responsible. Youths tend to act in groups, which makes them particularly susceptible to this charge.

In the case of the Knox twins, it was never determined which one fired the gun and killed Jehru Donaldson because the sole witness could not distinguish between the two, especially after the twins showed up to court in identical outfits and switched seats.

But the prosecution successfully argued that it did not matter, because both were involved in a felony that resulted in a death and both were convicted of felony murder. One twin, though he did not fire a weapon, will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Their father, Douglas Carey, maintains their innocence but said it is "unjust" that both his sons should be charged.

"How can you charge two people for one murder?" he said. "Basically what they're saying is that both my sons had their hand on the trigger."

But for Jay Donaldson, the father of the 18-year-old victim, the conviction was fair, because both could have predicted that an armed car-jacking could have resulted in someone's death.

"You're just as responsible because you didn't do anything to stop it ... for all intents and purposes you did it too," he said.

Many have challenged the fairness of the felony murder rule, because a person convicted does not have to be present or directly involved with the actual murder, only with the felony.

Even for those convicted of first-degree murder, critics say that a life without parole sentence is draconian for a minor.

A violent criminal act can be reflective of "extreme immaturity, but not one that would warrant treatment as adults," said Mr. Fellman of the American Bar Association.

This is why some states have banned it outright in favor of life sentences with the possibility of early release.

Mr. Greenleaf said that he has not come to any conclusions as to what Pennsylvania should do, if anything, to address the high number of people in prison for life for crimes they committed as minors.

In weighing options like early release for those currently serving life sentences and lighter mandatory minimum sentences, he said that the state must consider the impact on public safety, particularly how well the state can determine which of those convicted are sufficiently rehabilitated and which of those are likely to commit crimes again.

Mr. Donaldson said if the Knox twins were ever released he is certain that they would once again wreak havoc in the neighborhood. He said they were beyond hope for rehabilitation.

"They had so many chances to go the right way," he said, adding that they were in the same anti-violence program as his son.

But the punishment his son's killer faces does not make much of a difference, he said.

"It's not going to bring back my happiness, my joy," he said.

Hello All:

Hi Everyone;

Please see Melissa's comment on Franz Kafka meet Jordan Brown.

thx. -randy

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dammit!!!

Paul Gingerich, 12, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the killing of Phillip Danner in April of 2010.
Where and when, at what point, at what degree of rediculousness, how in the hell do you call this an adult? I don't understand it. I am truly lost. WTF!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Things that make you go....really?

Hi Friends;

    It's been a while since I've been posting. Sorry, things have been a bit off for me lately. Losing all of my stuff with the computer crash was a blow, but the following events just made it all a bit more difficult. Nothing horrible or crazy...you know how it goes. Plus, well, I found I didn't have a lot to say for the moment. And, as odd as this even sounds to me, for once - when I have had nothing much to say worth saying, I kept my yap shut.

    Then I see this and I find my self with my jaw on the ground: http://www.milkboys.org/article/god-h8s-after-all/

    I began to disect this rant and respond to each astronomically, cosmically, and finally comically insipid statement, then realized that there was just no way to do so without writing a book.

    So, please let me begin by saying these people are consumed and lost.

    They have slipped into the "religion" aspect of this statement:

    Love is doing what is right despite what people say.

    Religion is doing what people say despite what is right.

    God is Love.

    And, for those who follow a different path, let me quote John Lennon: All we need is love.

    The people in that vid are all angry, miserable, defeatist, horribly minded people who have found it necessary to bring their children into such misery as well. And, that's actually quite sad. I found that rather than be angry with these folks, I feel sad for them.

    They have the Message twisted, filled with half truths, and use it to inflict pain and misery.

    The best lie, you know, is one that is 99% true.

    So, if you are at all concerned by anything you see on the above vid, please ask and I will research the answer and give you a fair take. I'm no Bible scholar, so forgive me if my answers are less than perfect.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Franz Kafka, meet Jordan Brown

    Hi Friends;

    Franz Kafka wrote The Trial in the mid twenties about a secret court, inaccessible to the common man, who would arrest and proceed against citizens without giving them the information as to what they have done to cause this procedure. The theory, the defendant knows what he has done wrong, it is not necessary that the court spell things out. The Defendant in this work....of fiction?...is forced to proceed from disbelief that he could be charged such, on towards fear and desperation, and finally is forced to defend himself against any and every possible wrong he may have committed in his life. The razor edge of this is, of course, that he had to defend himself without incriminating himself of the crime the court has in mind as well as others. It is a story of the power of the state run amok.

        I was just on the Justice4Juveniles.com page, reading some of the topics under consideration for little Jordan. I read the official court documents spelling out the denial of Jordan's application for juvenile court adjudication for his alleged - and I stress, alleged crime of murder. The court denied his application to juvenile court because "his failure to take responsibility for his crime" calls into question the rehabilitative ability of the juvenile system for someone who denies the crime. Of course, this is all pretrial and fails to point out that the defendant has the right to not incriminate himself, be considered innocent until proven guilty, and assumes that should he incriminate himself that would send him on toward the juvenile system. You see, as an adult, he faces life in prison, as a juvenile he is looking at 21 years of age as a max. Seems a fair gamble. Right?

            What was something I wondered if could have possibly been true, has come out as fact: The state has decided to try an eleven year old as an adult, and since he refuses to incriminate himself and admit the crime, will not consider this eleven year old as a child. I don't know what more to say on this. I'm lost for words as how this could continue in this country where simple logic ought to win out. I'm dumbfounded as to how this is allowed to continue. And I'm frightened that this sort of foolishness is done by a judge - who we can only presume didn't get his position as a Cracker Jack prize.

                Good Luck, America.

                Saturday, April 2, 2011

                See Scottie's Toybox

                Hi Friends; All you out there, please see Scottie's ToyBox http://scottiestoybox.com/2011/04/02/a-must-see-video/ It was such a great vid. It brought this one to my mind: video

                Update on Jordan.

                • Hi Friends; (I'm having trouble getting the posts to use simple syntax rules. It all flips into one long paragraph. So, forgive this patch until I can find the solution.)
                • You all hopefully remember the story of Jordan Brown, the young guy who's facing life in prison for allegedly commiting a crime at the age of 11. (see blog post March 03, 2011) Seems you can be an adult at the whim of the State now .
                • As some of you know, I have a real problem with calling a child an adult. The throught process isn't the same and the feelings are more in control. To tell a person on onehand that as a child you are unable to understand the consequences of voting, signing contracts, driving, purchasing a gun, drinking, smoking, deciding not to attend school, but on the other hand quite fully capable of understanding the consequences of your actions if a crime is committed is ludicrously illogical. Only a politician could come up with something so foolish.
                • Well, got a comment from Melissa, the adm for a website called Justice4Juveniles.com. I stopped in to look around. It's just such a sad issue. There's no real justice in such a case. The poor woman and her baby is dead, the boy is in prison, the father and the boy's sister are destroyed, where is justice to be found in such a case? I am a fan of the concept of "Restorative Justice". The irony is that there is nothing saying that young Jared committed this crime outside inuendo and possibility. But, google the RJ theory. The state is too quick, in my mind, to throw people away.
                • Also, stop in and check out Justice4Juveniles.com.
                • The update on Jordan is this: the case is before the Supreme Court, seeking the removal of the case to the juvenile system. The horrid thing, this has been going on over two years now. I will update as other things come through. Keep this youngster in your thoughts and let's hope sanity comes to these judges.
                • Perspective: http://www.wsbt.com/news/sbt-20110402sbtmicha-01-03-20110402,0,5650649.story?track=rss This is an article I found in the news recenty of someone who killed her child. Her punishment: 13 years. seems a bit odd to me.

                Irena Sendler

                Beautiful to the Core

                Irena Sendler. 1910-2008

                A 98 year-old German woman named Irena Sendler recently died. During WWII, Irena worked in the Warsaw Ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist. Irena smuggled Jewish children out; infants in the bottom of the tool box she carried and older children in a burlap sack she carried in the back of her truck. She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog, and the barking covered the kids’ and infants’ noises. Irena managed to smuggle out and save 2500 children. She eventually was caught, and the Nazis broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar buried under a tree in her backyard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and reunited some of the families. Most had been killed. She helped those children get placement into foster family homes or adopted.

                ---------

                This story came to my attention today. I was slow in that. This beautiful woman who defied evil died in 2008. But, in her defiance of the worst sort of authority, in her refusal to sit idly by and be even an unwilling part of the horrible acts of evil men holding the reins of a mighty nation, she showed the world what it means to be human. I am humbled by greatness.