Archive for May, 2009

Punishing the Good Deed

May 31, 2009

SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio man arrested for mowing unkempt grass at a public park said he just wanted to make his city look nice. John Hamilton said he took control of the situation because the grass in Sandusky’s Central Park was about a foot high. According to a police report, a witness said Hamilton was blowing grass onto the sidewalk and shredding trash in the park that had not been picked up.

Police said they arrested 48-year-old Hamilton after he refused to stop mowing and charged him with obstructing official business and disorderly conduct.

City Manager Matt Kline called the arrest unfortunate and said he understands Hamilton’s frustration. Kline said budget cuts have left Sandusky understaffed for seasonal maintenance work.

And this:

Late Thursday afternoon, the city sent out a statement about the arrest.

“Today a gentleman’s frustration boiled over and he decided to mow Central Park on his own,” the news release from Kline’s office said, calling the situation unfortunate.

“Although he was asked repeatedly to stop, he persisted and ignored both our horticulture employees and the police officers who became involved.” Hamilton said the three officers who arrested him were “quite pleasant and understanding,” as well as “sympathetic” to his cause.

He still feels he had a right to cut the grass. “Why can’t I?” he asked. “I am a citizen.”

I guess the problem was one of competition.  Government hates competition because competition breeds quality.  The grass was a foot tall and that was OK.  But mowing it caused some grass to get on the sidewalk and some garbage to be shredded.  Not OK.  Arrest the man.  He is making the city look bad.

Apparently, Sandusky not only didn’t like helpful citizens mowing their weeds, it also doesn’t like the bad press from the arrest.

But the city may have learned its lesson.  The city is going to support the dropping of the charges against Hamilton and also said the city respects Hamilton’s “unbridled enthusiasm” for volunteering and urged him to lead the charge in getting others to volunteer as well.

Sounds like it might all turn out just fine.


When Will it Stop Counting?

May 27, 2009

Judge Sonia Sotomayor

We now have a Supreme Court nominee that said “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”  News headlines include words like “Historic,” “Hispanic,” a “Woman.”  I want to know this–when will the adjectives stop counting?

When will we be able to get over how a person looks and start focusing on how a person acts or thinks?

Wisdom isn’t dependent on race, on gender, or on any other “group.”  In fact, her quote above isn’t very wise.  If the quote was reversed, saying that a wise white man could reach a better conclusion than a Latina woman because of his experiences, everyone would quickly see how shallow that thinking really is.

America used to be referred to as a melting pot.  Put whoever into the pot and out comes an American. E pluribus unum.  Out of Many, One. That was the ideal. But no more.

Now, one’s tribe is more important than one’s actions or thoughts. And if it’s a first, it is especially important.

Judges and justices are supposed to judge cases based on the facts and on the law, not on the “richness of [their] experiences.”

Hopefully, one day, we will judge people not “by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  And maybe especially nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Marriage in California

May 26, 2009

The California Supreme Court, in an 6-1 decision, upheld the constitutionality of Proposition 8, defining marriage in California as only between a man and a woman. The same court found in May 2008 that laws preventing same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. The court also ruled that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that had been performed are valid.

The Court held that Prop 8 was a legal amendment to the Constitution and not a revision that would have required different legal steps. It also held that none of the arguments against Prop 8 had merit. In ruling that the same-sex marriages performed during the brief period when they were allowed were valid, the Court stated that Prop 8 was not retroactive.

This ruling isn’t the end of the issue. I’m sure that we were see attempts to overturn Prop 8 by the proposition process. And I’m sure that we will see more intolerant, hate-filled speech from those who claim that the supporters of traditional marriage are intolerant and hate-filled.


May 25, 2009

Watch Out, Nathan. You’re Being Watched

May 24, 2009

IMG_9734, originally uploaded by *Julie P.

I was just checking Julie’s recent Flickr spread and came on this photo.

Josh, you just crack Grandma and Grandpa up.

Keep it up.

Sometimes, Plans Change

May 24, 2009

We are back from a too-quick trip to the Central Coast.  The space shuttle is back from a too-long trip to fix the Hubble Space Telescope.

The trip to the Central Coast (check out my geocaching blog here for some photos) ended a day or two too early because we couldn’t find any accommodations for Saturday night without taking a second out on the house.  Too many Memorial Day weekend travelers.  The Space Shuttle was stuck in orbit a couple of extra days because the weather got nasty in Florida.  But they really, really wanted to come home (it had something to do with running out of oxygen and the toilet wasn’t working and finding a plumber on the holiday weekend was a real hassle), so they landed in California this morning.  We heard the twin sonic booms this morning right before leaving for church.

The best rule for going on an adventure is to be flexible.  We had a great time, but came home early.  The astronauts had a success repair mission and had to stay a few extra days in orbit.  Sometimes, plans change.

Obama’s Responsibility–To Keep Us Safe

May 21, 2009

President Obama said today that his “single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe.” Unfortunately, I think that he is failing that responsibility, if for no other reason, by this position to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

He insists that it needs to be closed. He said, “There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world.” Actually, I think there is a big question. We didn’t loose any “moral authority” by imprisoning terrorists. What we are losing is our enemies respect. It is easy for them to see us as a weak and an unfocused nation.

It’s time that we get serious about what is happening in the world. There are terrible people that want us dead. They will do anything they possibly can to see that that will happen. Closing Guantanamo without a plan is foolish. Giving prisoners in the war on terror extra legal rights that they don’t have is naive.

We in America need to do what is right, regardless of what the world thinks of us. In a time of war, we shouldn’t busy ourselves with worrying about public relations. We need to do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe.

The full text of the president’s speech is here.

His 15-minutes of Fame

May 21, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Never mind the ick factor, a Utah boy is trying to get into the record books by covering his face with live snails. Eleven-year-old Fin Keheler, from Sandy, allowed 43 of the slimy mollusks to be put on his face Saturday. He wants the Guinness World Records to verify his effort.

The Guinness web site says the record set in 2007 for snails on the face for 10 seconds is eight. The boy says he has since learned the record was 36.

Fin made three attempts on Saturday. Sitting back in a reclining chair, snails gathered from neighbors’ gardens were carefully placed on his face. Those that remained for at least 10 seconds were counted.

His family is sending witness statements, video and media coverage to Guinness this week.

And, now, the important questions:  How would you even think this one up? and WHY?

We are living in a world that values fame.  And people seek fame for fame’s sake.  Nevermind trying to be a good, friendly, helpful, loving 11-year old.  He is now a world record holder for being silly.

I Was Bored

May 20, 2009

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) – A man who left jury duty after lunch because he was “extremely bored” will be back at the courthouse Tuesday to be arraigned on a charge of contempt of court. A police report said officers found the 25-year-old man near his home earlier this month and asked why he skipped out. He said he was bored, and “just couldn’t take it” anymore.

Washington County Judge Gayle Nachtigal issued a warrant for his arrest.

Though she wouldn’t discuss the specific case, the judge said the maximum penalty for missing jury duty is six months in jail. Penalties, however, are generally waived if the person agrees to perform their civic duty.

I know how he feels.  The last 3 times I was on jury duty, no one in the entire jury pool ever left the assembly room.  They tried to pump us full of sunshine by saying that just our presence helped the parties settle, but I don’t buy it.  There has to be a better, more efficient way to handle jury trials without wasting hundreds of hours of the jurors’ time.

At least I did get some good reading in.


May 19, 2009

My wife went to our polling place this morning on the way to work to vote in California’s Special Statewide Election.  She arrived a few minutes after the place opened.  Two voters were leaving when she walked in and she had the place to herself.  Normally, the place is a little busy first thing in the morning.  Today, no one.

It appears that this election will be decided by the majority of a small minority.