26 November 2008

Um, you might want to have a talk with the marketing department

Endorsements are tricky business. Sure, they may lend some rub-off glamour, but when celebrity endorsers do something stupid and end up in trouble with the law, the business is compelled to argue that their association, purchased at great price, never really meant anything.
So it is indeed baffling that rifle manufacturer H-S Precision, Inc. recently featured the endorsement of an FBI agent on the back page of its glossy catalogue. The agent's claim to fame is that he was indicted for manslaughter in 1997 for shooting a woman in the face as she held only her baby during the Ruby Ridge Incident.
Even more astonishing — the agent, a sharpshooter named Lon Horiuchi, testified that he was aiming at somebody else. Whoopsie.
I reckon that makes him either an outrageously bad liar, or and outrageously bad shot. Neither reflects particularly well on H-S Precision.
Money quote, "The American taxpayer has gotten their money's worth from H-S Precision." Yeah, and the American taxpayer also got to pay $3.5 million in judgments to the Ruby Ridge survivors. 
In keeping with the theme, for H-S Precision's next catalogue, I might suggest they arrange for an endorsement from that DEA agent that who himself in the foot in front of the classroom. "I am the only one professional enough to endorse this...BANG! I'm alright, I'm alright. And so is H-S Precision!"
Man, I never get tired of that one.

25 November 2008

Suck it, Anita Bryant.

For the second time this year, a Florida state judge has held the state's law that disables all homosexuals from adopting is unconstitutional.
In August, Monroe Circuit Judge David John Audlin Jr. called the ban the fruit of ''unveiled expressions of bigotry.''
''Disqualifying every gay Floridian from raising a family, enjoying grandchildren or carrying on the family name, based on nothing more than lawful sexual conduct, while assuring child abusers, terrorists, drug dealers, rapists and murderers at least individualized consideration, [is so] disproportionately severe'' as to offend both the Florida and U.S. Constitutions.
In the present case, Florida Assistant Attorney General Valerie J. Martin failed to persuade the court that the ban is justified on the testimony of Kansas State University Assistant Professor of Family Studies Walter R. Schumm* and retired University of South Carolina professor George A. Rekers.** Their case was that homosexuals are disproportionately more likely to suffer from mental illness or substance abuse than heterosexuals, making them less fit to parent.
The arguments are perhaps more stupid than you might imagine.
Professor Schumm testified that children raised by gay parents were more likely to be gay, which elevates their risk of suicide.
Teh ghey is contagious, but I'll be damned if I know why gay folks would be particularly depressed. Wait, what were we talking about again? Oh yes, gay people are undeserving of even basic rights like parenting.
Professor Rekers testified that living with gay parents can be stressful to children, because they may experience teasing and bullying from other children who don't approve of their parents' orientation.
So no family for you, kiddo, because some of your classmates might be bigoted jackasses like us.
Rekers also stated that children of gay parents are likely to suffer because gay people are more likely to have multiple failed relationships.
Not that being forbidden the support of a permanent bond like — oh I dunno... marriage — would play any part in that.
By deposition, Rekers testified, “I think that would be a very good social policy” to bar adoption to anyone who had more than 18 “sex partners” in a lifetime.
Points and laughs.
Rekers would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because they have an elevated risk of mental illness and substance abuse. “They would tend to hang around each other, so the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are...doing the same sorts of things.”
Savage tribesmen heap big crazy for firewater!
I shiat you not. These were their arguments. In court. Seriously.
Reckers got pounded by the father's ACLU attorney for using “scholarship” from the hyperventilatingly anti-gay, ultra-evangelical Family Research Council. Awesome. What’s more, it apparently escaped the AAG that Florida law does not bar actual felons or known substance-abusers as a class unworthy of adoption. Nor did they burden themselves with the fact that straight folks are statistically more likely than gays to produce and fail the very children at issue here. However, using statistic to argue in favor of categorically denying straight people the ability to adopt is just as mind-numbingly, breathtakingly stupid as their argument.
Amazingly, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman put it more diplomatically than I did:
Based on the evidence presented from experts from all over this country and abroad, it is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person's ability to parent. Sexual orientation no more leads to psychiatric disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, relationship instability, a lower life expectancy or sexual disorders than race, gender, socioeconomic class or any other demographic characteristic....
...the challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children, does not promote the interests of children and, in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect.
Judge Lederman also observed that children in the state system have a fundamental right to be raised in a permanent adoptive home if they cannot be reunited with their biological parents, but children with gay foster parents may be deprived of that right under the current scheme.
There is no question the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing [foster] children a permanent family through adoption.
Props to the ACLU, FTW. The outcome is that Florida’s justice system ensured two young brothers not only avoided a life of brutality, but get to stay with the only loving parents they’ve ever known.

Gay Adoption

At least for now.
The Florida Attorney General’s office has appealed Judge Lederman’s decision. The fundamental right to breed, held by a dazzling array of Florida's miscreants and degenerates, remains unaffected and unchallenged.
*In a 2003 scholarly article, Professor Schumm wrote "With respect to integration of faith and research, I have been trying to use statistics to highlight the truth of the Scripture.” ** In a 1982 book, Professor Rekers wrote, “To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations.” Reckers admitted under cross-examination that he taught and practiced psychology from a Christian perspective, and had written books condemning social science that doesn't recognize “the moral laws of God.” He also has a degree in theology.

Maybe not, but it sure felt good.

Went to the movies with the Beloved and my sister-in-law. We selected an AMC theater because of Cinemark CEO Alan Stock's $9,999 donation to Prop H8. I dropped Cinemark a note mentioning the fact, too.

Cinemark VP of Food & Beverage Bob Shimmin has weighed in on the national boycott in an essay called, Is boycotting Cinemark a step toward equality?

In pertinent part:

"Two years ago, I was hired by Alan Stock, and my life partner and I relocated to Plano, Tex., from the San Francisco bay area. Moving to Plano and effectively leaving behind our cherished Domestic Partnership document, signed by California’s Secretary of State, took much consideration. As did the prospect of leaving the progressive Bay Area for life in a “red state.” 

However, I quickly discovered — and the past two years have confirmed — that Cinemark Theatres is committed to treating its team members, customers, and colleagues with dignity and respect...

Have I ever witnessed Mr. Stock’s religious convictions as a Mormon interfere with his fair and equal treatment of employees or customers of Cinemark Theatres? 


Really? He might want to fine-tune his powers of observation.

I understand Mr. Shimmin's reluctance to bite the hand that feeds him. However, it's difficult to understand his boss' religiously motivated meddling in other's private affairs — to the point of substantially financing a constitutional amendment that ensures they won't get fair and equal treatment under the law — as anything but a great big freakin "Yes."

Ticket: $10.00

Popcorn & soda: $10.00

An executive quaking at the prospect of a boycott: Priceless.

Common Sense Leaves

This weekend my friends helped me rake up the leaves that the city's mature oak tree (located in Kansas City's easement in front of my yard) dumps all over my property.

City's tree, city's leaves...my problem.

So I borrow a pickup truck and we throw about 6 cubic yards of the city's leaves in the back, enclosed by tarps. Then I check the city's website, just to make sure there will be no unpleasant surprises, like "to serve you better, we're closed for the year."


True to Kansas City's policy of "giving you less for more," the yard waste dump rules have changed to screw us better. Now we're not only supposed to gather up and deliver the city's leaves to the dump, we're also supposed to pay for it.

They've magnanimously granted us an allowance of 2 pickup truck beds of leaves annually, provided the load is level with the edge of the bed, so that's about 3 cubic yards. We can also bring leaves in 5 bag increments weekly. After that amount, you pay for the privilege of disposing the excess. (Oh, and no more grass clippings.)

So I wrote to every member of the city council who voted for this stupid new policy. All present did.

Dear Mayor Funkhouser, and Councilmembers Skaggs, Ford, Johnson, Sanders Brooks, Gottstein, Marcason, Riley, Jolly, and Sharp,

Every one of you voted in favor of charging residents to dispose of leaves. Shame on you.

Did any of you consider the possibility that some of us are disposing of leaves the fall from CITY trees? 

In my situation, a colossal city-owned oak in a city easement covers my property in many, many cubic yards of leaves every year. This is very far beyond the meager amount the city allows to be disposed of without charge.

It's not enough to derive an annual benefit from my free labor in collecting the CITY'S debris, now you decide you must CHARGE me to do so?


I suppose you'd also agree that if a city-owned truck stopped in front of my house and threw an enormous load of garbage all over my yard, I should be expected to collect it, and also pay to dispose of it, since it's beyond my personal two-bag allowance? 

That is precisely what you're saddling me and other similarly situated residents with. Furthermore, this scheme effectively renders 100% of our personal leaf debris "chargeable."

The inventive ways this city's elected "representatives" constantly manufacture to pick my pocket never ceases to amaze. It it only rivaled by your inventiveness in excusing businesses from shouldering their fair share of the public burden.

Who's interests do you suppose you're serving with this? I'd really like to know, because it's clearly not mine.

I think a reasonable compromise is: I won't charge the city to collect the city's leaf debris if the city won't charge me to dispose of it.

I look forward to hearing from you.


So far, I've heard back from the assistants to  Jan Marcason, Mayor Funkhouser, and Beth Gottstein. They all told me that I can put 20 bags on the curb December 4th, and take 5 yard bags to the leaf dump anytime. So I reply, more or less thusly:

Thanks for replying. 

Yes, I'm aware of the curbside pickup. I'm not requesting information on the curbside pickup, I'm talking about the drop-off. Five bags wouldn't BEGIN to hold the amount of leaves a mature oak drops. I'd guess it'd be about 10x that.

I currently have about 6 cubic yards of leaves from the city's tree piled in the back of my pickup. I see my alternatives as this: 

A: I can unload half of the leaves, then on Saturday drive from Brookside to Deramus, then come back to Brookside, load that other half of the leaves back in the truck, then drive back to Deramus. An utter pain in the butt, and a complete waste of effort and gas, but at least I don't have to pay the city for the privilege of collecting and disposing of the city's debris.

B: I can leave the pickup loaded as it is and pay the city $13.50 to collect and dispose of city's debris because I dared to bring my 6 cubic yard annual "allowance" in one convenient trip.

C: I can spend $10 on bags, and several more hours transferring the city's debris from the back of the pickup to bags (and hope that all this fits in 20 bags, which I doubt.)

Gosh, they all sound awesome. Which would you choose? I'd prefer 

D: Collect and drop off the city's leaf debris, pay nothing. 

Not sure how this is unreasonable, since the city is the party receiving the benefit of my effort.

Not sure why you're unwilling to address the issues I brought up in the original letter either.


After diverting $3 billion of tax revenues from city services via TIF back to the pockets of developers, our leaders are surprised they can’t afford to provide city services, so they charge the actual taxpayers some additional fees if they want them.