February 09, 2005

Blog Smoothie, Fresh

Q. What do you get when you mix up Democracy, Tsunami stuff, Paintball, and a little something I'll just call McPulp?

A. Today's post.

Honestly, let's not play around and pretend to be a segue-smith (thus would I be seguetious?). I'm just dropping the ingredients - rind, boost, and all - into the blender.


Pop Quiz

In case you haven't lately had to take a test to, let's say, attain U.S. Citizenship, this one might throw you: Are we a republic or a democracy?

Remember, we pledge allegiance not just to the flag, but also "to the Republic for which it stands."

I dare you go out tomorrow and ask 100 people to explain what it means to say we are a Republic and not a Democracy. Unless you are conveniently adjacent to, or upon, a college campus - where tomorrow you shall bump into Professor Wayback - you're going to get 100 blank stares.

I found the link to this article at Dan's "withknivesout" blog a few weeks ago. It takes me a while to get around to stuff like this, eh?

Interestingly, most of the sites where I found the writers laying out the specific differences between a Republic and a direct Democracy, were conservative. And/or faith-based. Many quote the founding fathers as saying that while a direct Democracy is nothing more than a Mobocracy, a Republic is based on a constitutional rule of laws, either natural or God-Given.

In fact, the best and clearest dissection of the subject came on what looked to me like some kooky survivalist site. Go figure.

Of course there's a lot more on the subject, elsewhere, but remember, my post today is a nutritious fruit drink, not an eight course meal.



Obviously not the work of esteemed director McQuentin McTarantino, this is an actual McDonald's commercial, in Israel.

Not to be outdone, Volkswagon threatened at first to sue the pants off of whomever came up with THIS little commentary on our world today. You know, it's really just SO wrong but it's freaking hilarious.

And I think, deep: No one yet has commented on the totally oblivious cafe crowd. They're shown "outside" the cafe, and they're "outside" the VW; in fact, they're "outside" of the sphere of influence of this disturbed young would-be world-changer. Yet, they're as safe and sheltered, and let's say, naive and selfish and undisturbed by the world's woes, as if they were in a cocoon.

See, I can be a loony leftist commentator if I have to. I've been there. Not lately, but I've been there.


Tsunami Tstuff

My interest was piqued, of course, by this little bit of sensationalism in
WorldNetDaily about "The man who predicted the tsunami".

At first I thought, well, somebody somewhere is predicting all sorts of blight and destruction every day, everywhere.

Turns out this professor is in fact a leading expert on plate techtonics and disaster potentials. He really did predict it. And he seems pretty sure that Seattle is in for some trouble someday too.

Check out this speech from 1997 by Professor Sieh, to get an idea of his field of vision.



Yes, paintball. Well, a couple weeks ago my nephew had a little party for his 10th birthday. It was a day of killing and mayhem at the paintball fields in the mountains here outside of San Diego, an area that many of us coastal-ish dwellers view as sort of Appalachia West. Fourteen of us, kids and adults pretty evenly split, had 6 hours of commando time on various courses, which differed in terrain, obstacle types, flora, etc.

A number of areas were roped off as Ecological Preserves, which I found amusing since hundreds of marble-sized paintballs were flying into the marshy creek grasslands there. I imagined all the dead and dying snakes who couldn't resist those neon green and orange "eggs" lying all about their unpeopled homes.

Before we got started, as we gathered in the parking lot of Velocity Paintball in Ramona, my first thought, and my exact comment to my youngest brother, was that if I were FBI or ATF, THIS is where I would hang out on Saturday mornings.

I was truly astounded by the uniforms, the equipment, the gear, the pure militarism dripping from the cyborgs people gathering for the day's festivities. And the technology. One of the 10-year old friend kids brought his own gun, and helmet and goggles, and CO2 cannisters, and harnesses and camo, etc. The fully automatic bursts echoing in the surrounding Eucalyptus groves and firing range(s) nearby was positively... Afghani. An abundance of paintballs littered the dirt parking lot area, every neon color imaginable, smashed and splattered about like fallen cherry blossoms.

Smelled like... victory. Technicolor Latex-based blobs of victory.

Alright, now that I've laid out my superficial first impressions, I'll immediately admit I had the time of my life out there. I was killed, a couple times by one of my brothers' "friendly fire". All of us eventually determined that the best way to stay alive an entire 10-minute game was to NOT be his teammate. But it was fun. Creepy fun. Diving into mud holes, ducking behind woodpiles. Getting to know your equipment. Naming your equipment. Loving your equip-- uh -- err.

Alright. Enough said.


At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Fag-lover said...

It's interesting how you mentioned the thing about Rebublic/democracy distinctions and its home in the right.

Then when I read that article about how the founders used negative language to ensure the preservation of rights, I thought, wouldn't a constitutional act against gay marriage be an abridgement of rights?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, unless invade they asses with cocks."

I'm feeling particularly patriotic today.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

"...I thought, wouldn't a constitutional act against gay marriage be an abridgement of rights?"Well, of course that's the $64 question this decade. While it's "self evident" that banning a relationship or a living arrangement would fall under the abridgement umbrella, the issue of the Federal Government refusing to acknowledge a legal institution like marriage between certain individuals is a thornier issue to be sure.

It just makes sense that this would be a raging controversy. The most obvious underlying reasoning for such a ban is based strictly within religious sensibilities, which, as noted, is against the basis of the establishment clause. But such sensibilities are so deeply rooted culturally that even without an overt religious tie a vast number of individuals still can't get with the idea of men marrying men and women marrying women.

Beyond that, the government reasoning, or perhaps their excuse, is that sanctioning such non-traditional unions just amounts to some sort of benefits binge. Rights to property and pensions, insurance and powers of attorney priveleges, child custody, etc, all fall within the legal recognition of marriage. Personally, I think, OK, why not allow any two people in the U.S. to partner up in a civil union recognized by the government, even if only for the legal bennies?In relation to the issue of Republic vs. Democracy, this is interesting mostly because a Republic is designed to preserve states' rights and particularly individuals' rights as minorities. Yet the founders who advocated, and those who still do defend, the benefits of a Republic, still tend to focus more on the religious/moral authority that grants individual rights. It appears to me that their arguments for theocratic oversight are slicing up their own principles of Republicanism.

The more practical difficulty with the whole gay marriage issue, is this:

In our Federalised Republic, any one state has always recognized the legal marriages sanctioned in any other state. If any one or ten or thirty states allow gay marriage, how do the states who ban such unions handle property issues, parental custody, etc.? You shouldn't have to get married in each and every state you move to in order to be married, should you? That's the road this bus will eventually travel.

Meaning, can the issue really just be "left alone"? Whoever wins the argument needs it to apply to all 50 states, probably, apparently, I guess. I don't know. But I think I have a headache now.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger jenna said...

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At 12:34 PM, Blogger Squirrel said...

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At 8:08 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

Wow, yeah, I wrote a scintillating piece on Paintball. Paintball, the new national pastime, paintball, sweet game of liberty, of thee I sing. Game that my fathers played, ,,,

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Don Sheffler said...

Let's see how long before 50 more spambots pick up my Pulitzer-Eligible article on PAINTBALL.


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