The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

The Year In Review

December 31st, 2004

Mexi decided to post his Year In Review, and it seemed like a good idea. Here’s my “Best of Phelps” take.

I started the year by tackling the fundamental blogging issue of
psuedonymity.

In February, I revamped a SF Gate article on “Selling the War without lying”. Also, take a peek at the Poster for White Glenn’s Movie. I covered the wild, wild world of tactical nuclear weapon development.

March started a long series of This week in photos. It continued in April.

I also sparred with S-TrainSolo and Glenn about the Rick and the Poor. I took the opportunity to remind you that the state doesn’t want to keep you safe, they just want your money. Those are both pretty heavy, so round March out with 10 Ways to Waste Your Vote.

April, of course, started with April 1st. May started the election musings, and then followed it with another Modest Proposal on winning the war on terror.

I explained why politicians should remember that they would have been shot in 1776. Of course, I can’t stay serious for long, so when Ronnie died, I honored him in the only way I know how — I made fun of him. June also brought a hellacious storm to Dallas, which resulted in
my power going out. We actually fared OK — there were parts of Dallas, deep in the city, that were out of power for over a week. I amused myself by ripping on an over-the-hill piano dork.

In August, we are back to the election, and I try to teach a lesson on the difference between lying and honesty. September, however, brought Phelps’ Excellent Vegas Adventure. Hunter S. Thompson, eat your heart out.

November was starting to slack, with me using my vital energy to rant about Starbucks cups. I did talk about Jon Stewart’s unusual ability to actually recognize the culture war. I put my own view on the election results being a referendum on the culture war.

For the December roundup, I reviewed fireworks safety with MamaSlyth. All in all, I think my quality started high (overall) at the start of the year and tapered off right after the election. I hope that if we get into the some “interesting times” as the Chinese say, I can drop some more knowledge and improve my quality.

NEW COFFEE MACHINE!!!

December 29th, 2004

We just had a new coffee machine installed in our office! And three new dispensing pots. With level indicators on the front. That means that these morons no longer have an excuse for taking the last cup by saying, “I thought there was still a cup left.”

I think this is a good day for the coffee jihad. Better coffee through technology.

Fireworks Rules

December 28th, 2004

Yes, I will be purchasing some fireworks for New Years. Actually, I will probably be getting close to two bills worth, if past history is any indicator.Mamaslyth posted the “Rules of firework safety as I learned them growing up”. I learned them a little differently, but they are substantially the same.

1) SELECT DETONATION SITE AND PREPARE IT WITH CARE.

Pick a place where you won’t have to keep watch for the police. It really drags down the night. Make sure that you have a clear line of sight all around, in case your fireworks descend some before going off. Nothing pisses you off more than spending $8 on a rocket and then missing the giant Kaboom because a neighbor’s house is in the way.

Have lots of beer around to put out any embers. Find a huge honking pipe to handle the big ass rockets that you should have bought. If no pipe is available, drink more beer and use the bottles. If the rocket is too big to stand up in the bottle, light it with one hand, watch the fuse, and then throw it up in the air right before it goes off. As a matter of fact, to hell with the pipe. Just do this. Also, keep an eye out for things like trash cans, old car rims and coffee cans that can have Black Cats thrown in them.

Concrete helps, since this is the only way to get ni– er, whistling chasers to work. The best thing to do is just pass on them and spend more money on mortars. Ooh, I love mortars. Especially the big baseball size ones. The ones with names like “Crackling Red Dragon.” Gotta move on, getting too horny.

2) NEVER HOLD A EXPLOSIVE WHILE DETONATING IT.

… unless you are old enough to drive yourself to the hospital. Ahh, that sure is an empowering day when you realize that you are old enough that you can ignore your mother’s nagging as you ignite black powder in those delicate temples of the ingenuity of God we call hands. If you aren’t sure if you are old enough, try it with a little pop bottle rocket and see if your dad tells her, “oh, leave the boy alone” when she throws a shit-fit.

3) NEVER AIM A FIREWORK AT A LIVING THING.

… without giving said living thing a fair chance. Fair chances shall consist of:

  • A verbal warning — “Hey, Sam!”

  • A fair chance — hold it in your own hand. This makes it easier to aim, anyway. If it is too dangerous to hold in your hand, it is too dangerous to shoot at them. Pussy.
  • A fighting chance. If they aren’t old enough to shoot back (because they aren’t allowed to hold fireworks while they light them) then leave them alone. Except n–whistling chasers. Those are ok. Even on white people.

4) THINK AHEAD BEFORE YOU DETONATE.

Consider how big the explosion will be. Thinking about how much you had to pay for it. Figure out which way Sam is going to jump when he sees you pointing a $12 Black Cat “Thunder Dick” rocket with a two foot stick at him and how much to lead him. Think about where you put your beer in case you have to put out the embers on your shirt while laughing at Sam. Think about the Chinese lady who lovingly wrapped up this machine of juvenile destruction. Damn, gotta stop again.

5) EXTINGUISH REMAINS.

Then bury said remains in the back 40. Make sure everyone’s story matches up but doesn’t sound too rehearsed.

6) KEEP A EYE OUT FOR INFRACTIONS OR FIRES.

Laugh uncontrollably at said fires. If enough beer has been consumed, feel free to urinate on them if the urge strikes you. Expect to have rockets and roman candles fired at you in that case.

Santa Claus vs. The Board of Education

December 20th, 2004

The WaPo has an article about using courts to fight restrictions on Christmas tidings:

Jonathan Morgan handed out candy canes with the story of Jesus to his fourth-grade classmates in Plano, Tex., on Friday. But it took a court order.

After years of legal assaults on municipal displays of Nativity scenes and Christmas observances in public schools, Christian groups are now mounting court challenges in the other direction.

I’m no fan of using the courts to litigate social issues. However, this is an issue that comes up precisely because the courts have been used to litigate social issues, so it seems like the most appropriate place to banish this affront to freedom. It really comes down to the bumper sticker logic — freedom of religion is not freedom from religion. You can’t have a freedom that infringes on another. That means that you can believe or not believe in whatever you want — but you can’t force someone to say give up their beliefs.

“The pendulum has swung completely,” said Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the nonprofit First Amendment Center in Arlington. “There’s a push-back by many conservative Christians, perhaps emboldened by the recent election and by the increasing presence of evangelical Christianity in the public arena. They’re saying the secularization of our society and public schools has gone too far and become hostility to their religion.”

And they are right. I’m not a Jesus Schmooker. I don’t even consider myself Christian anymore. It is impossible for me to ignore, however, how radically opposed a small minority of people are to anything even remotely Christian, and that small minority has been in control for too long. The opposition minority certainly has the freedom to ignore and even speak out against the Christians — but they don’t have the right to try to silence the Christians because it makes them uncomfortable. (If that is the case, Islam watch out.)

The Plano school district’s lawyer, Richard Abernathy, maintained that school administrators can impose reasonable restrictions on the “time, place and manner” of students’ religious speech.

“This area is predominantly white, and it’s predominantly Christian. Frankly, it’s pretty conservative Christian,” he said. “We have to be careful, though, that those students who are Hindu or Islamic or Jewish don’t have their rights trampled on.”

Doug Morgan said his son was a victim of “political correctness spiraling out of control.” He noted that the school had informed parents that only white paper plates and napkins — no Christmas red and green — would be allowed at the generic “Winter Break” party.

“They are so determined not to offend anyone,” he said, “that we’re being silenced and made to feel that what we want to share is not appropriate to share in a public environment.”

You can’t protect the rights of certain groups by trampling the rights of everyone. The Hindu students won’t be offended by someone giving them candy. The Muslim and Jewish students won’t be offended. In my experience, the only ones who get offended are a small percentage of intolerant atheists (who are themselves a small minority of atheists.) You do not have a right to not be offended, because that “right” would impose upon the real right to free speech and religion, and rights cannot conflict.

Barry Lynn, executive director of the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the “new strategy of the Christian Right is forced inclusion — they take a secular display and demand that Christian symbols and carols be added.”

Christian talk radio, Lynn said, is fueling a “huge movement saying there is a war against Christmas both by the government and by private business, which I think is nonsensical, because unless you live in a cave in America in December, you know it’s Christmas.”

Funny — to say that it is “forced inclusion”, by definition means that the status quo was forced exclusion, which says everything you need to know about the situation. I would disagree that the war is between Christmas and government and business. The war is between the religious and the anti-religious.

(Via How Appealing)

The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.