Saturday, November 27, 2010

If there's one thing Republicans hate more than terror, it's math

Over at Defending People, Mark Bennett takes the fearmongers to task using that greatest of irrefutable proofs: mathematics. In a post titled Transportation Economics, he outlines just why fearing terrorism is a ridiculous proposition given than almost all of us engage in far more dangerous activities every day, such as driving, and in this follow-up, he takes Marc Thiessen of the National Review to school on why most Americans don't fear terrorism enough to alter the way they travel, and that doing so, even in the worst circumstances, is still foolish. I won't repost all the numbers, since Mark did the work and should get the credit, but suffice it to say that terrorism is a miniscule threat in the grand scheme of things, least of all a threat worthy of the vast expansion of government it's been used to justify.

Thiessen, in what seems to be a contest to see who can say the stupidest thing in an article, says that "Some critics have argued that the terrorists are more likely to attack us in other ways that can’t be stopped by the new screening procedures." Let's look at this for a moment. In 2001, 19 terrorists hijacked planes and turned them into projectile weapons using box cutters and knives, both of which were allowed on planes at the time. The newly-created TSA, then having approximately 12 employees, decided that to prevent this from happening again, they would outlaw knives, boxcutters, fingernail clippers, knitting needles, and anything else that could be used as a weapon. Fair enough. Then, in late 2001, Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane using an explosive device in his shoes. So passengers were then required to remove their shoes for inspection before boarding. Not too long after that, a passenger attempted to bring an explosive liquid onto a plane, prompting government officials to ban all liquids over 3 oz. Then, last year, some idiot tried to light his underwear on fire to ignite an explosive device hidden within them. So the TSA rolled out its vast new plan for protecting us, featuring backscatter x-ray machines coupled with new pat-down procedures designed to check the places that passengers might be concealing explosives. The important thing about each of these terror attempts is that they were done using methods that were not detectable by the then-implemented screening procedures. The TSA procedures since 9/11 have been entirely reactionary, responding to threats after they happen rather than identifying new methods of evading security. But apparently Thiessen doesn't see this, as his mind is too occupied with numbers like 9/ transatlantic flights with 1,500 passengers on board...66 percent of Americans say that “the risk of terrorism on airplanes is not that great.” Sixty-six percent. I'm no conservative columnist, but even I had to take a basic math test before I got hired as a Subway sandwich artist when I was 16. I was told there would be no math involved.

TSA has told us that it is doing what it takes to keep us safe. It's unfortunate, then, that the TSA and its apologists like Thiessen are so terribly misinformed (not to mention misleading) about what they're supposedly keeping us safe from. Just remember, on your way to the airport, where the government is keeping you safe from horrible atrocities lurking around every corner, wear your seatbelt.

Friday, November 12, 2010

More Reflections on Death

Today was cloudy and cool in Waco so I decided to take a break from packing and head back over to the cemetery to walk around amongst the dead for a little while. The clouds made all the shadowy areas from the trees more pronounced, and the wind was blowing really hard so the trees were loud. And get this, as I was walking around looking at the graves, I look up and see this solid white wolf running directly at me with no other humans in sight. So you can imagine how freaked out I was that this OBVIOUS omen of death was charging forward to challenge me to an epic showdown for the fate of my moral soul. Turns out it was actually just a white German shepherd that had gotten away from its owners a couple dozen yards away. But still, quite freaky in the moment. Anyway, here are some more interesting photos I took.
This almost looks like a frat boy joke, especially with the fire hat and the mustache.
He's loading speakers for Jesus and Lynyrd Skynrd now.
Dr. Work A. Streeter, Professor Emeritus of Prostitutology and Whore Studies
Some of the graves in this cemetery date back over 100 years. That means that in 100 years, this guy's great-great grandchildren can come and see that he once caught a big bass and owned a gas station. (Disregard the ghost of a white schnauzer)
Good news: you can still be a hoarder even after you die.
During the height of The Lunchmeat Crusades, this man fought valiantly in the Spam War. Semper Fry.
This guy sounds like he was alright.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Reflections on Death

Today I took my dog over to Oakwood Cemetery here in Waco for an afternoon walk. She loves walking around and smelling all the different flowers, grasses, and scents that people and animals have left behind, and it's also good to have an animal there to be able to sense evil spirits and crooked real estate developers in sheets. Besides reminding her of where I'm gonna send her if she eats the toppings off my pizza while I'm in the bathroom one more time, it's a great place to enjoy a fall afternoon in quiet reflection. With passing the bar exam, finally graduating from law school, getting a new car, and preparing to move across the country all happening in the very recent past, I've had a lot on my mind lately. So I thought I would take an afternoon to enjoy one of my favorite places in Waco. I took a few pictures of things I found interesting.

Although I am not a religious person, I really enjoy religious iconography in art, especially sculpture. Oakwood Cemetery has tons of really beautiful and intricate angel statues and memorials, so I took quite a few pictures of them.

The iPhone, piece of shit that it is, takes decent pictures.
"Dude, I'm so bored. How much longer do I have to sit up here? Dude."
Not a lot of the trees have changed yet, making the ones that have all the more striking. 
Am I the only one disturbed by the fact that THE TOPS OF THESE MAUSOLEUMS HAVE CLEARLY BEEN MOVED?!? Be prepared, folks.
 How the hell is he supposed to rest in peace if he has a perpetual light shining on him? Do you know how annoying that is?
 He was 2 fast and 2 furious for this world.

 "Hold on, nobody move, I dropped my contact lens you guys. Everybody help me look for it."

 They hated each other so much they had their monuments built facing one another so they could give each other the stinkeye for all eternity.
 "Asleep in Jesus" is the creepiest way to describe "dead" I've ever heard.

 "Jeremiah 29:11 We are not strangers to love, thou knowest the rules as I do. A full commitment is my fevered dream, thou would not findeth such affections in another lover. Never will I surrender thee, never will I disappoint, never will I run, nor wouldst I desert thou."  Epic.
 I'll admit, when looking at the graves of the people of Waco, Texas, I did not expect to come across someone named Ghodratollah Khozein.

 On the surface, an elaborate mausoleum seems grandiose, but really you are essentially being buried in a tool shed.

This guy figured out how to bore people even from beyond the grave. Also, bonus points for dropping the phrases "joie de vivre" and "noblesse oblige" like it's no big deal.

 I don't know if it's sweet or dickish to memorialize your beloved wife with an anchor.
One yellow tree.

If you live in Waco, you should check out Oakwood Cemetery, off LaSalle. You won't be disappointed.

It Is Finished.

After 3 long years, law school is finally over. I don't really have much to say, other than that I am grateful to everyone who supported me and made it bearable. So long, Baylor. Don't call.