August 31, 2005

Looting in Louisianna

You will not believe this. Cops have been seen standing by while stores are looted... and some have even been seen to be doing the looting themselves. Anyone who wants to argue against the basic depravity of human nature need go no further than to examine what happens when situations like this happen. Granted, there are many who lend a hand... but an equal number turn to anarchy.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:03 AM | TrackBack

August 30, 2005

What They're Not Telling You

Have you ever wondered about those pesky Linux users? Have you, like me, remained slightly suspicious that Gallagher and Ardith weren't telling you the whole story? Is the "Linux goodness" of which Moore speaks too good to be true? Here are 5 good reasons not to use Linux that the Linux nerds won't ever confess to you.

edit: I forgot to mention that Tom Grimes is also a rank conspirator in the echelons of the Linux cover-up.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

The Great Steak-Out

To those of you who weren't fortunate enough to make it down to the Ice Cave yesterday, you missed out on good steak and fun times. I don't even remember how many people showed up, just that I cooked up 24 steaks and had roughly half a dozen left over. I could go count now... but that would involve getting up.

Anyways, I want to especially thank Paige and Paige's Mom for making the mashed potatoes on such short notice. I was especially amused that this was only their second time making instant mashed potatos, and they were very good anyways... especially good when you consider that by their accounts, the first time (made only 2 weeks ago) was a great failure. I would have tried to get Paige to make the real thing, but these were almost as good and really... mashed potatos from scratch for 20 or so people? That would just suck.

And then there was the problem of finding a grill. It has been my knowledge for several years that there are some grills floating around the Honors Apartments at LU that were set aside for the use of the students living there. So, given the option of using electric skillets or real propane grills, I set my compatriots at the Ice Cave to finding a grill. To make a long story short (and I'm sure they could tell you the long part that I wasn't there for), there are 3 such grills, and they all suck. The least sucky one was there when I arrived, and it lacked lava rocks and a flame distributor, which means when I turned it on, it shot two huge streams of fire straight up. Well, that's a lie, when I turned it on, I discovered that Uncle Doug's assessment of the lighter was correct and, as a result, I needed to find fire. For some reason, Wilson wouldn't allow me to use my tried and true method of lighting a paper towel on the range (he says it makes the Ice Cave smell bad or some such nonsense)... so I was forced to solicit a lighter from the masses... and it turns out that Paige has one (and that's probably a Bad and Dangerous Thing.) So, when I finally did get the fire under-way, I really should have taken a picture of the flame-thrower grill, but suffice to say it was utterly worthless to cook steaks on it... would have been about as effective as a blow-torch. So, because I was the cook and busy preparing, I sent Uncle Doug and Wheeler to go find lava rocks or something... and they went to bug Corey and to check the other two grills. In the end, there were no lava rocks, but Corey Ross turned out to be our hero as he let us borrow his industrial-size 3-burner grill of doom that I used to cook 15 8-ounce steaks on at once. I was pleased, because I'd been planning on cooking 24 steaks in shifts of 4 or 6... and that would have taken a while. As it was, the whole operation, plus Mollie's chicken (which was left behind at my apartment and Anna had to go fetch) finished up in just over 30 minutes of cooking and right on time for everything to start... even with 30 minutes of grill-finding delays.

It should also amuse everyone that Wheeler was late to the 5:00 scheduled start of the grill-out at his own apartment. I will cede that, for the first time in the collective memory of the SC, he had a good reason to be late: he was picking Martinez up at the airport. That said, it has been proven that Wheeler can be late to his own apartment in addition to being 10-15 minutes late to everywhere else he goes... and that's just sad.

The food was good (or so I thought... but I cooked the steak that my wife seasoned, so I'm biased on that), the conversation was great, and it was just wonderful to see everyone got back... even Wilson, in spite of his car attempting to foil his return. Leatherwood called at one point for something or another, and we all said hello to him over speaker-phone. My wife was even good enough to switch the speaker-phone off before he could start waxing eloquent about something or another. I mean, I can talk anyone to death... but Leatherwood has me beaten and then some.

All too quickly, it was over and then everyone had to go put their stuff together for the start of the school year or attend a Themelios function or some such crap. I must say that it's nice to be (mostly) moved in already and not having to move in right now... it's probably one of the few points from LU that I won't miss... other than going to Freshman Orientation Crap. Sorry about the mandatory Freshman Retreat, Tyler... but better you than me.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:51 AM | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

Parents in Action

As promised, here is my attempt at analyzing and providing critical thought on Rolando Bini's "organization.

Over time, there have been a series of writings on my blog and on Toad's regarding the Child Protective Services. Roughly a week ago, Rolando Bini, ostensibly representing a group called Parents in Action, surfaced and began on a fairly... special diatribe about the illegitimacy of Child Protective Services. While that discussion seems more or less finished where it was begun, I proceeded to visit Parents in Action's page, and was quite shocked with what I found.

I would like to start out by trying ascertain the nature of the group. Here's what I found:

"We consider Parents to be the Natural Protectors of their Children and as such to have a God-given right to raise them without government intervention."

Now, capitalization issues (of which there will be many) aside, it is easy to note that this appears to be a theistically-based group, though it's hard to tell much more than that they subscribe to a theology of the family being a divinely-appointed group, designed to be the best way to raise children. While this is well and good, this militant attitude towards the government is somewhat disturbing. Before we get to that, let me showcase what I feel are the organization's other two solid points:


"We consider Fathers as equal partners and very important for the healthy development of their Children, and as such we encourage their full participation in the lives of them, not only as protectors and providers, but also by providing emotional nourishment. Fathers, having the duty of being role models for their Children, must rise to fulfill that mission by being positive role models, and by being there for their Children. We aim to increase awareness among fathers of their full responsability in the well being of their Children, and the community to help them regain their natural positive place in society."


"We consider Grandparents as valuable resources and support for their Children and Grandchildren..."

In short, I think it's quite a good sentiment that fatherly involvement in the family and in the lives of his children is key and that the elderly are an invaluable resource to the community and to the family which should be utilized and not minimized.

That aside, I see some deep-seated problems with Parents in Action's rhetoric. Firstly, their assertion that the Child Protective Services is an evil entity with unchecked and universal power is patently false. They assert:

"Any system that has no checks and balances and is accountable to no one, will become abusive. The Child Welfare System is by design such an entity. We need to be ever vigilant in Preserving the Family, since its integrity is essential for the development of a Healthy Society. As such, we aim to bring public awareness to the abuse of power by Children Protective Services, the Family Court System, and Foster Care providers and eventually make them accountable."

While it is obvious that unchecked power is a serious problem, CPS and Foster Care are HEAVILY regulated under US Federal Law and are overseen by the Judicial Branch, in addition to frequent interaction with law enforcement at various levels. To say that there are foster parents and case-workers that are under-supervised would be an accurate statement, but to say that the entire system is an uncontrolled power trip would appear to be an accusation that is grossly out of line without some sort of factual backup. To summarize, I agree that there needs to be a comprehensive review system in place, but I find it a malicious and gross mischaracterization that the existing system lacks any sort of safeguards to prevent wanton and flagrant abuse of power.

Having done a cursory summary of the "stronger" points of Parents in Action, as well as expressing some concern with the tone of their position, I think it's fairly safe to say that this is a group that attempts to take on some sort of Theistic tack, though I really can't say much more. As I look at addressing the lesser points that the group takes on, I keep coming back to the issue of authority. In short, where do they derive their mandate from? The only answers I can find are these, in addition to the earlier appeal to parents having a "God-given right to raise [their children] without government intervention" :

"We consider Family Preservation vital for our very survival, being the biological Family Unit, the Natural cell of Human Society; and coerced/forced Foster Care and Special Ed in Public Schools the main Social Cancer producers that feeds the prison, homeless and mentally ill population. As such we have a duty to promote Social Healing initiatives that contribute to the Common Good."

To the extent that it is coherent, this argument appears to be that the most natural order is the highest good, and the family is the most natural social unity, there for it is privileged to the highest degree of Common Good. Organized education and larger societal structures, being less natural, have a lesser degree of Common Good, and are thus trumped by the family. This line of argument is fraught with difficulty, because it seems to be an arbitrary argument that biological relationships are inherantly superior to non-biological relationships. But this, in essence, argues that there is no societal order larger than an extended family. This lack of provision for a larger governmental structure that cannot be disregarded at will seems to be fine and good for the establishment of small villages of close relations but breaks down in modern society. With large groups of non-related people, there must be some sort of authoritative government, even in some of the most extreme libertarian understandings, short of the anarchist way of thinking, which also seems to run counter to the ideals of Parents in Action.

As I have argued earlier, even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, the basis of the argumentation for Parents in Action aside, there are several points that the organization makes that have been bothering me which I would like to address:

"We consider that the majority of cases of parents accused of abuse or neglect are rather cases of poverty and that the government should use those resources to Preserve Families rather than dissolve them. The act of having Children taken away from the people whom they trust and love the most, has a devastating effect not only on those Children, but also in the psychological and financial well being of the whole Family, further sinking them into poverty and creating chaos in their lives and those of future generations."

I have been attempting to find some sort of political classification which simultaneously invites government subsidy of private families and yet demands government non-intervention. While this could be asserted to be a statement to the effect of "if the government must intervene, at least give aid rather than taking children", it would seem that this statement tacitly acknowledges that where the government intervenes, there may be legitimate problems, albeit problems resulting from poverty. So, there is a situation where parents are irresponsibly having children that they lack means to care for, and Parents in Action's solution is for the government to provide aid rather than removing children from parents who are at least negligent if not worse? With adoption as a viable option, parents who keep children they cannot afford to provide for are dangerous to society. Even if these parents are only unwilling to part with their children out of sentimentality, the fact remains that they would damn their children to a miserable existance out of a selfish indulgence rather than allowing their children to be provided for, and this is precisely why they should not be allowed to keep their children.


We aim to help Families dealing with internal conflicts such as: Domestic Violence, Teen-age rebellion, substance abuse, emotional crisis, separation, Divorce, etc. to deal with them in a constructive, conflict-resolution oriented form, away from punitive measures that further damage the Family. Our aim being to Heal not to dissolve the Family."

Good intentions notwithstanding, domestic violence and substance abuse are criminal offenses. While I might be persuaded with the argument that substance abuse can be a self-injurious crime without consequences to others, domestic violence is criminal activity that should not and cannot be exempt from punitive measures. Simply put, if Parents in Action is advocating protecting violently abusive parents/spouses from legal action, I can find little understanding for their position. I would invite someone from the organization to clarify this point for me, because I cannot understand why anyone who commits assault and battery on a member of his/her own would be shielded by an organization that proposes to help families.

Lastly, I cannot quote the entire page, where Parents in Action asserts that CPS engages in child slavery, but here is an excerpt:

"Children are Kidnaped (the criminal enterprise uses the feel-good euphemism "remove") under any imaginable excuse, Kept with Legal Trickery and eventually Sold. The Kidnapers are the so-called CPS (Children Protective Services) Division of ACS; the Hostage Keepers are the Foster Care agencies; and the ones who Sell them, as Slaves are and were Sold, are the Adoption Agencies. All of them Profit from this Scheme."

Now, up until this point, I have been willing to cede that I might suffer from an outsider's perspective and that this website might be a somewhat-misleading representation of a good-hearted organization. This assertion that the New York City Child Protective Services is engaged in a large-scale slave industry seems to force the abandonment of that belief. In light of such extreme positioning, it seems to be unlikely that this is an organization headed by rational individuals, nor is it one with any sort of capability to work within a system that needs help. Rather, this is waht we call an extremist group, thankfully a seemingly-nonviolent one, but nevertheless a group that should probably be kept under close watch, all things considered.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:11 AM | TrackBack

August 24, 2005

Virtues of Comparison

When I look at everyone's blogs, I realize that I'm not such a big slacker after all. I mean, you figure Barbour hasn't posted ALL SUMMER LONG, Gallagher has been stuck at a median rate of about two posts a month for at least a year (with a bizarre exception like 3 posts in July and a post a month for the other summer months), my wife posts irregularly at best, and Moore manages to post half a dozen times a month. Oh... and let's not forget our Guatemalan... I mean, while Wheeler only posts once every week or two, at least he's got verbosity going for him (something one usually can't say for Ardith, though her latest post proves that she can occasionally be counted upon to write at length on the more interesting points of her life.) But in the end, Wilson's really the only one of us who really puts me to shame... and well, I've never been one to compete with Wilson on dedication to scholastic pursuits... I'm just too taken with talking to people.

That said, I have a couple of posts cooking along which are attempting to make it up some time in the near future. Heck, if you pester me (unlikely), they may see the "light" of day a bit faster... come to think of it, we should probably all pester each other to be a tad more prolific and regular in our writings. And in high Cynic style... I name our first victim to be Barbour of "I can't post during the summer" fame. So when you see him/talk to him, be sure to smack him for me and make him post or something. As for me, well... I'll get to that later. Right after I nurse my little addiction for a while.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:44 PM | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Odd Happenings

So if you happen to upset your local cable or utilities office, you might want to beware... one of their employees could change your name in their system to something unpleasant by way of payback.

In other news of my deep insights, avoid massive sales. Especially if there are more potential buyers than there are items for sale. Especially if they police presence doesn't appear enough by half to prevent injuries to the crowd of potential buyers. These should be sign enough... but then you might want to consider it an ill omen if people are wielding collapsable chairs and other objects as weapons in the disorganized charge towards the sale desk. Police presence? What police presence?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:51 PM | TrackBack

August 14, 2005

Watered-Down Theology

"Jesus loves me, this I know
for the Bible tells me so
and that's all you need to know"
-Tim and the Cynic, explaining a certain preacher I know

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:58 AM | TrackBack

August 12, 2005

Caught Red-handed

Imagine you've just had a triple-bypass (I know I can't relate, but some can) and you're in recovery. Now imagine you're struggling to maintain a carefully-conceived plan to allow your friends to come and see you but, at the same time, avoid creating a situation where some of your friends who hate each other are caused to interact. Imagine your horror if you failed and you had to deal with all of that whilst you recovered.

Now imagine that those "friends" are your three wives, none of whom may know the other two exist. Then you'd be 59-year-old Melvyn Reed of Kettering, UK.

It should be noted that after being discovered, Reed turned himself in. Can't say as I blame him... the man has 3 angry wives! I'd toss myself in jail to avoid that.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:23 PM | TrackBack

August 10, 2005

Pure Idiocy

This article both makes me laugh and upsets me greatly. The non-technorati among you will read this article and say, "it looks like those students did something really bad!" It is that notion which I wish to dispel.

From what I can tell, these students were all given laptops with a fairly restrictive and invasive form of administrative software on them that disallowed installing programs and monitored their activities. Such software was password-protected... but the password was both obvious and printed on a label placed on the backs of the computers.

Now, just so we don't get any more confusion, it would appear that a couple of the smarter kids used the copies of the monitoring agent that was already installed on their computers, with the passwords printed on the backs of their computers, and used it to monitor the administrators. Yes, that's right, the idiots in administration gave them all of the tools to do this... all it took was the password that was PRINTED ON THE BACK OF THE COMPUTER.

Now, I know they signed a contract to be "good students" and these 13 students broke said contract... but they're middle-school students. It looks to me like a case of wounded pride and bad press for the school where the school is trying to prosecute the "hackers." Come on now... it's like prosecuting kindergardeners for taking lollipops from an open jar that's sitting right in front of them, unguarded. You smack them on the wrist, move the jar, and move on.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:25 AM | TrackBack

August 09, 2005


In response to this post of mine, comments pursuant to it, and this post of Toad's, I have attempted this analysis of the Child Protection Services and Government's role in the protection of children from a libertarian and Christian viewpoint. I encourage and value feedback and would love to develop this into a more cogent, longer, and cited work:

Having been given the unfortunate task of defending the necessity of the Child Protection Services (hereafter referred to as CPS), allow me to start with a couple of caveats. It should be noted that the author, as a Libertarian approaches the role of government from that perspective, and in particular, the view that there are some roles that cannot be entrusted to private organizations, such as anything with welfare of the entire public in mind. Thus, to a libertarian, these roles are accepted as inevitable, but limited to absolute necessities. That said your average libertarian (myself included) accepts police presence and military defense operations as necessities, along with judicial responsibilities and whatever (minimal) legislative needs arise. Obviously the laws will be up for grabs, but it's generally accepted that murder, rape, assault, kidnapping... etc are illegal.

In short, the question I have been given to answer is: "Should the public be entrusted with the protection of society's children in an ad hoc fashion, or should it be a governmental responsibility, bearing in mind that it is already tasked with the defense of the public welfare?"

Now, before any of you shout "theocracy" and I have to light you on fire, allow me another caveat: in an ideal Christian society, I can let there be no line between Church and State... but we do not have such a system so the point is moot.*

Now that we've gone and sighed about "wouldn't it be nice" (and this isn't too dismiss the idea that an ideal world and an ideal government wouldn't be nice), please allow me to address the pragmatic realities.

While I appreciate that a great many conservatives would really like the idea of private organizations handling items of public welfare, I would counter that, at least in the case of child welfare, governmental oversight is the lesser of two evils. Simply put, a government has the obligation to protect the rights of its citizens. In short, the rights of a child to be protected from torture, abuse and negligent parents supersedes a parent's right to custody of a child. To that end, I would argue that "taking someone's children is kidnapping", while true in lieu of outstanding governmental obligations, becomes moot when said parent has been legally demonstrated to be a risk to his/her child.

Now, as to Toad's solution of a privatized equivalent of the CPS, I think he admits that it won't work within the strictures of a modern government, but I'd like to explore further why it's a bad idea even within the confines of a typical libertarian government. In short, I believe that even within the traditionally libertarian understanding of government, it is held that police protection from other citizens who would attempt to break laws is acceptable. Further, because I doubt that anyone would argue that child abuse shouldn't be illegal, it falls to the government as a representative of all good citizens to protect these children from crimes perpetuated against them by criminals, EVEN IF THOSE CRIMINALS ARE THEIR PARENTS.

Now, this is where we get into the thorny issue of child custody. I wouldn't go so far as to say, like some Socialistic countries, that children are legally the wards of the State from the beginning and are only given to parents in trust... but I would like to point out that a child has to be looked after by someone. To that end, while I certainly appreciate Toad's notion of privatized Foster Services or the equivalent, the government has an obligation to see that the children in question are placed in good homes, should their own extended families (the next ideal step) be unable to do so, because government is protecting them in lieu of their parents and is protecting them FROM their parents. Now, I see Toad's general call for civic responsibility by Christians looking out for children in need as viable. Indeed, the fact of the matter is that Christians are obviously not fulfilling their obligatory role because there are still hundreds and thousands of children already in the system looking for permanent homes. To that end, I am willing to argue that government is doing a superior job to the Christian community in that it is at least dealing with all of the children in such a way as it can.

In short, the argument that the government is the ultimate evil is a nice thing to tell oneself, but it cannot be the end-all. In fact, while criticism of the government's methods has a legitimate place, it cannot operate in the vacuum of a failure to perform civic duties and attempt to work within it. To criticize CPS and the foster system and yet not seek to improve it by volunteering one's own resources falls dangerously close to hypocrisy (I speak to myself as much as others.) While far-reaching changes would certainly be welcome, the fact of the matter is that many Christians have failed to even work to improve the current system... opting instead to stand at a distance, point and ridicule. As the adage goes "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

*At least to my mind it has been proven in modern times that God is not actively working as the head of a governmental system as per the Old Testament, even if said government claims otherwise, ergo, Holy Roman Empire, Papal States and kingship by divine right. Rulers may be divinely inspired, but God is not actively ruling any countries. In fact, even in the OT when God WAS ostensibly at the head of the State, things frequently go to hell in a hand-basket and all manner of idiotic religious and social mandates were issued, seemingly as "God's will" as stated by the current leader. Simply put, if you have an axe to grind on theocracy, don't start it in my comment system... either make a post of your own or send me an email and we'll go there.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

August 06, 2005

Urban Cowboy

If you live in India, you too could be a modern urban cowboy. And at 2,000 rupees/cow (only ~$46, but still the average Indian family's monthly income), that's decent money even by American standards... especially if you can round up more than one at once.

Just read the article for more details and remember that the cows have to come in alive... news of mistreating them could cause angry lynch mobs to come after you.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:25 PM | TrackBack

August 03, 2005

No Fraternization

The NLRB has taken inanity to all new depths. That's right, your employer can legally prevent you from fraternizing with your co-workers on your own time.

Now, I want to caution you that the above new link is to a website that bears an obvious pro-union bias. That said, I'm pretty sure that any sort of ban of this nature is against the spirit of the First Amendment, even if such protections would only be afforded to employees of the state.

As the article goes on to mention, such bans would obviously become illegal if the aforemention fraternization were to come under the legally protected under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Act's provision for "self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations…and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection..." That said, I must agree with the American Rights at Work article that a good number of employees do not know their rights and would be hesitant to fight their managers and consult a lawyer should such an order to "cease fraternizing" be issued.

To make a long story short, there are a good number of employees who do not enjoy adequate protections against the multi-million dollar corporations for whom they work. If your employer broke the law in its dealings with you, could you afford to bring the legal muscle to bear to get a large company to back down? Do you, individually, have the courage to go to battle all by yourself?

There was a time that I would have argued that the need for unions is in the past... especially as I worked within a union shop. And then I started working for companies where I worked "at will" and quickly realized that there are some employers whose employees need to be protected from them, and that a union may well be the best way to organize that sort of protection.

Now, before anyone goes jumping down my throat and pointing out the traditional problems of corruption, mafia affiliation, and bizarre politics brought on by many unions... trust me, I know. Remember, I was a member of the UFCW-1099, and subsequently the AFL-CIO for two years... not to mention an avid student of mob history and a former resident of New York. But the flip side of the coin is those corporations like Enron and concerns like Arthur-Anderson who are no less corrupt and arguably far more powerful. There's enough corruption to go all the way around... and the weakest party ought to be afforded some small protection. Especially for something as simple as associating with his friends from work.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:26 PM | TrackBack

August 02, 2005

My New Gravatar?


Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:26 PM | TrackBack

Long Absence

Just to make small amends for my long absence, and in prelude to longer posts, I present you with Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men.

"Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men came out in 1973. At 6'5" and 300 pounds, he didn't care if you thought he was a sissy or not."

Pictures courtesy of the blogging oddity known to the internet as

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:55 AM | TrackBack