Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Harry and the Harrier Hens

Dear Prince Harry,

I see by the papers that you are being investigated for shooting a couple of Harrier Hens on your royal estate.I know that you deny knowing anything about this tragedy, but you do admit that you were hunting with your friend "in the vicinity" when the endangered birds were killed. Maybe it was just another hunting party on the Royal Estate. I imagine that your family leases out the estate to other hunters like our ranchers here in Texas do. It could have been anyone, I suppose, who killed two of the twenty remaining breeding pairs of Harrier Hens left on this earth. Those Royal Estates probably have no security to keep other hunters off of them. I know that poachers have been the bane of royal families over there for a thousand years.

Someone is always making trouble for you at Halloween. Like that time you went to the party dressed up as a Nazi. That was a real knee slapper, and the damn press in Europe took it so seriously ! I mean everyone knows that comedy is "pain plus distance" and it has been almost 65 years since the Holocaust. Jeez, everyone just needs to lighten up.

I suppose that there is some small chance that you and your buddy took out the Harrier Hens. Tell me, are they good eating ? Few people get to eat endangered species anymore. I have been looking for an all you can eat Whooping Crane BBQ over here for years with no luck. How do you prepare Harrier Hen ? You probably have some old recipes that go back to Henry VIII. Back to the days when a Prince was a Prince and no one dared complain if you shot a bird or beat a serf or raped a virgin. How has the royal family managed to sink so low ? And don't blame it on your mother. I'm sure that she'd be damned proud of what a great sportsman you have turned out to be.

By the way, I would like to invite you over for a little birdhunting with one of our leaders. This guy is a great shot. he can hit a friend in the face at less than one hundred yards and get out of Dodge before the press ask any embarrasing questions about manslaughter. I really think that he is your kind of guy. In fact, I think I have even heard you referred to by his first name before. At any rate, God save the Queen ! (and please God, save the Prince of Wales, we can't afford to have this guy on the throne).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Malovolent spirit

An acquaintance of ours mentioned that her daughter was applying to Patrick Henry College in Virginia. I thought that I knew just about every college in the country, and had taken my daughter on visits to most of them, but I had never heard of this one. It turns out that Patrick Henry is a small religious college, with a particular emphasis on home schooled kids. Their motto is "Christ and Liberty"and they have four or five majors that seem to revolve around getting religion, i.e. the fundamentalist Christian faith, as deeply into governement as is constitutionally possible.

All of this is well and good, even if it sounds a bit redundant, there are a number of colleges with the same mission. Then again, there are a lot of colleges teaching the same thing, so one another Liberty U., more or less, can't hurt anything.What struck me about Patrcik Henry was its "Statment of Faith". It has ten hard and fast beliefs, which is are different than the ten which God gave to Moses. Then again, Patrick Henry has had 5,00 more years to think about this than God had at Siani. There is something odd about about one of the 1o belief statements. It is like someone added one on. If you look at the statements, number 10 is different than the top nine. The top ten are statements that you would see in most conservative Christian platforms. Many people in my own denomination would be fully comfortable with the top nine . There are a couple or seven that I would throw out, but I have no trouble with most of the list. What strikes me as odd is number 10, which I quote here in full. Every student and employee at Patrick Henry must believe this.

J. "Satan exists as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser, for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared, where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious torment for eternity."

O.K.

I think I have written before that I am appalled by the fact that well over 60% of the people in the United States believe in a corporal Devil. My mother assured me, when I was only four years old, that not only did the Devil not live under a bush in Rick Roland's backyard, but that there was no such thing as the Devil. My mother seldom lied to me, and never about theological issues, so I have lived a Deviless existence since that time. If my mother had spent more of her time explaining to people in this country that there was no Devil, instead of constanly nagging me to finish my homework, this nation would be better off today.

I mentioned some time ago my doubts that Hell could house the number of us who could not make much of an argument for staying out of it. Like the California penal system, the Devil would be releasing people from eternal sentences for "time served" just to get a little breathing room down there.Paris Hilton would not spend forty eight hours in Hell. The Devil would not have time to do any "accusing" or "tempting". He'd be too busy fighting off habeous petitions.And believe me, there would be more than enough lawyers down there drawing them up.

Why the majority of the country still worries about this particular fairy tale is beyond me. I suppose that the approaching Halloween focuses people on malovolence every year. But it says something to me about the credibility of the people of the United States as human beings. How could we be relied on to deal with true evil, when we spend so much time worrying about made up evil ? There is no doubt in my mind that the current President of the United States believes in a corporate devil (some say that that very being is serving as Vice President, and, while that's tempting to believe, could not be possible.Cheney is a lot more evil than that). This is starting to become somewhat of a litmus test for me. I would not vote for anyone who was willing to say that they believed in a corporate devil. Note I said "willing to say". A good deal of these chowder heads would say they believed, just because there are more votes in that direction. I will give you two to one that you could not get Hillary Clinton to make the simple statement that she does not believe in the devil. No way. Yet she would be perfectly willing to deny that the earth was flat, that bat blood cured the plauge or that witches could not float. all of these were popular theories less than a thousand years ago. Most of them , at least to me, seemed more likely than the existence of a corporate devil.Yet none of those beliefs have survived, and Satan still gets the vote of two thirds of the country.

In another life, I taught English literature. During the reading of Paradise Lost, I was asked by a student if I believed in the Devil. I replied that I did not. I was lucky to hold my job. The good news was that my statement set off a round of prayers on my behalf by the students. I have always attributed those prayers to my getting into law school, as they were said just as the various admissions committees were looking at my record.So in a way, I owe my present livelihood to Old Mr Scratch, or at least to my not believing in him.Funny how the world works. Maybe this was just what he had in mind for me all of the time. Wonder if that bush is still in the Roland's yard ? I wish everyone a Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cow Killer sold for chump change

The only know meteroite known to have actually killed an animal was auctioned off over the weekend for $1554.oo dollars. Back on October 15, 1972, on the El Tinajero farm in Venezuela, a flash of light heralded the crashing on a meteroite which split a cow in half, killing it instantly. Cor all the fear of the earth being struck by a killer meteor, this is the only documented evidence of any animal actually losing its life from a meteor. Although a parked car was hit in New Jersey in 1992, no one was hurt.

The unnamed cow, honored nowhere in all of Venzuela, was owned by a Dr. Arginero Gonzalez, who, upon dixcovery, immediatly had an affidavit made, stating that the death of his cow was caused by the meteor, known as "Valera". While those who witnessed the meteor's entry did not actually see the cow split in two, res ipsa loqitor applies. When you see a meteorite with half a cow on one side and half a cow on the other, you have pretty good evidence as to what happened.Dr Gonzalez did not move the meteorite for some time and pieces of it began to sell off a little later.

Why the only know killer meteorite in history would fetch so little money at an auction is a strange story. You would think that P.E.T.A. would have bid a couple of thousand to use in lobbying Congress for a mereorite shield to save the remaining cows. But no, the opportunity passed them by.One reason may be the rather grizzly history of the object. It seems that after the untimely death of the cow, Dr. Gonzalez made the decision to go ahead and eat it. So the meteror itself is not only an insturment of death, it is a slaughter house hammer to boot.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Capitalistic Shill

I had been reading these messages from blogger.com, urging me to turn my blog into a billboard for their advertisers. Great riches seemed in the offing. Frankly, I could not figure out who would want to place an ad on my blog. The fact of the matter is, I don't think that I have ever written one which has been read by more than five people, and readership like that is rare. My blog, like Gray's, is a "flower which blush(es) unseen and waste(s) its sweetness on the dessert air". So why was Madison Avenue (do they still call it that) so anxious to sign me up as one of their puryeyors of consumption ? In a moment of pure greed, I signed up to find out.

It turnes out that these guys are smarter than I thought they were, and frankly, I had already thought that they were pretty damn smart. What they did was analyze (electronically I'm sure) my blog and place an ad that they thought would appeal directly to me. It is a new version of direct mail. Since they only pay me based on how many people actually view the blog, they know that they will never have to pay me anything. Now they have a chance to sell me something ! This is brilliant and it is why I have spent my life working for rich people and not being a rich person. I would have never thought of this. I have thought of several things which will save the planet, as I wrote about yesterday, but have never thought of anything that would make me personally rich.

After their scanners picked up my blog about sleep apnea, a couple of days ago, the first ad placed on my blog was for a pillow that helps oxygen flow to you while you are asleep. The link specifically talks about sleep apnea. I predict that the next ad, based on my blog about ice sheets, will be from a sporting goods store which sells equipment for polar exploration.This is amazing. These guys scan millions of blogs each day, and can pinpoint one of their ads right to you.Now, none of this upsets me. These people have been nice enough to let me blog here, for free, over the last year. I don't begrudge them making a buck out of it.But the odds of me actually buying from anyone who would place an ad on "Mills of the Gods" is zero. What company in its right collective mind would want to be associated with this collection of remenisses, poor satire and misspellings ? No one with any dignity, that's for sure.

None the less, I do heartily recommend the "Oxygen Pillow". While I have never used one, the bravery of this company, electing to be associated with me, is awe inspiring. Stupid, but awe inspiring.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ice Salad from Ice Sheets

The reason human beings, as a species, will never out live the cockroach is because they just can't put two and two together. The old saying, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, is seldom followed. I have never liked that saying, my personal saying is that when life gives you limes, go out and find some tequila and salt and make some margaritas. Once you drink enough of those you will not care if life gives you lemons, or limes or any other cirtus that you can imagine.



But returning to the lemonade expression, the vulgar version of that is that, when life gives you chicken shit, make chicken salad out of it. I never thought that this expression was to be taken literally. I mean, even the most optimistic person could not possibly like chicken salad made from chicken shit, even after a few margaritas. So we can all agree that the expression is really a metaphor, urging us to find the advantages in any problem. Sort of a cousin to the dark cloud/silver lining metaphor, but requiring a good deal more initiative and work on the part of the finder of chicken shit than the spotter of a dark clouds.Which is why it is seldom invoked. Most people would rather just hang out and hope to spot a silver lining.



Some months ago I wrote of our Canadian neighbors losing an ice shelf,one the size of central Texas, and not noticing it for well over a year.Since that time I have been carefully atuned to anything involving iceshelves, and I've got to say that there has not been a lot of action. Well let's say, not a lot of reported action, the Canadians are not real quick on the uptake when it comes to losing ice shelves. But now there is a new buzz about ice sheets melting in Greenland. What is an ice sheet ? Well it is an enormous piece of ice, at least 50,000 km. sq., which covers terraine. They only exist in Greenland and Antarctica, although in the last ice age, they were everywhere. The ice shelves I wrote about actually come from ice breaking off these ice sheets and floating away.

The bad news for today is that the Greenland iceshelf is melting away at a pace which, by the year 2100 (when I am 148), will raise sea levels three feeet, flooding such low lying places as Shanghi and New York (arguably the two most important cities in the world). The question is how do we make ice salad out of the ice sheets that nature is giving us ? The answer is staring us right in the face, if we happen to be staring at a glass of water.

For weeks, all I have been hearing about is this disasterous drought in Georgia. Some cities there, perhaps major cities like Atlanta, may have only three months of water left and there is no rain in sight. I'm sure you see where I'm going . Which makes you smarter than our scientists and government officials.Why has no one suggested that we haul some big oil tankers up to Greenland, catch the run off of melting ice sheets and fill up the lakes and streams of Georgia is just beyond me. People will drink the water or use it in other productive ways, such as agriculture. It will not melt into the ocean, it will not raise the world sea level and, voila, I have broken Georgia's drought and saved the cities of Shanghi and New York, all in one master stroke ,by making ice salad out of ice sheet.Hey, listen, Gore got a Nobel Peace Prize for a lot less original thinking than this.

There are still a few kinks in the plan, like what to do with the run off after Georgia has all the water it needs. Well duh, we can make the deserts of the world bloom. Sub-Sahara Africa will be just one big Phoenix, golf course as far as the eye can see. Economic development of this type will save the continent of Africa and there will still be enough water left to share between Isreal and Palestine to get those two peoples to stop fighting and start building a bright future for the middle east. In short, my plan probably saves the world from the threat of a third world war.

Now someone start building the boats and whip up some chicken salad. My work is done.See you in Oslo.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Big Sleep

My old friend Eric Olsen, one of at least four people who read this blog from time to time, sent me an e-mail last weekend in the middle of the night. The e-mail (which I did not read until the next morning) stated that Eric was having trouble getting to sleep and decided to go on line to read some of my old blogs to help him get drowsy. I have no doubt that it worked.My old history Prof. used to keep Barker's Life of Stephen F. Austin on his bed stand, claiming that in thirty years it had never failed to send him straight to dream land.

Coleridrge said of sleep that "it is a gentle thing, beloved from pole to pole", which I always felt was a bit much , even for Coleridge. Sleep is something we have to do. It is something that we wish we did not have to do until we do it, then, once we start it, it is something that we wish we did not have to stop.It is that time in between "having to start" and "not wanting to stop" that can be problematic. Many people, my wife included, simply don't sleep much and suffer for it. My wife, because she never sleeps, is constantly upset when I do sleep. She thinks that eight hours a night is akin to slacking.She questions my going to bed at 10:00 pm as if it is a serious error in judgment. And she questions it every single night, as if I never did it before.

I am one of the best sleepers in the world. I am not bragging about that, it is because of a problem that I sleep so well. When my snoring reached levels which were causing serious hearing impairment to neighbors and passers by, my wife made me take a sleep study at Seton Hospital. There are a number of things worse than a sleep study, colonoscopy probably qualifies, but sleep studies are pretty awful none the less. They shave you and put gook all over your body and hook you up with wires which restrict your movement and record all body functions during the night.They leave lights on and tramp about the room and the hallway, then tell you to go to sleep. And I did.

The next morning they had a study which showed that I had fallen asleep in under ten seconds. Honest to God, under ten seconds. See, I'm a great sleeper I bragged.All that noise, goop, equipment and restrictions of movement and I nodded right off. No, they replied, this is a bad thing, a very, very bad thing. It turns out that no normal person falls asleep that fast, at least no one outside of an old Bogart movie ,where a Mickey has been slipped, as they say.I was falling asleep that fast because I was exhausted.Why was I exhausted ? Because I was not sleeping. huh ? Turns out that I was having sleep apnea events (not breathing) several thousand times a night and my not breathing was waking me up. So even though I thought that I was sleeping, I was not. This explained why I always fell asleep in the early morning while driving from Austin to Houston. It did not explain why I had not been killed yet, but maybe that was coming up.

So after a brief visit with a physician, it was decided to put me on a c-pap maching (continous air pressure) which meant that I had a Darth Vadar costume for every Halloween after that. It also meant that I could never get divorced because ,as the Dr. explained to me, "Wade, these are not the most romantic things you have ever seen." Unless you are a robot, I'm afraid that he is right.So for the past decade my poor wife had had to sleep next to a c-pap machine with a husband attached to it. Do they make noise,? yes. do thing come apart at night ? yes. Do they send out warning beeps when something goes wrong ? Why, yes they do. In short they are an insomniacs worst nightmare. But still, I am told, they are better than my snoring was.

So now when I sleep, I really sleep. The sleep beloved from pole to pole, if Coleridge if to be believed, and I don't know why he should be, but there it is. I can't sleep at all without the machine because now ,when I stop breathing, I know that I stop breathing and I wake up.That's why I'm still alive. Everytime my wife has pulled the plug, I have awaked. Fresh as a Daisy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

House set to condemn Egyptian Empire

The Forgien Relations Committee of the United States House of Representatives passed, and sent to the floor of the House today, a resolution condemning Pharoh Ramses and the Empire of Egypt for illegally holding in bondage the ancient Israelites. The new resolution comes hard on the withdrawal of a resolution, passed by the same comittee last week, condemning the Ottoman Empire for genocide against the Armenian race following the First World War. That resolution was pulled down after Turkey recalled its ambassador and threatened to shut off of its air space and bases to the United States for use in the perfectly legal and highly ethical war in Iraq.

House Speaker Nancy Pellosi, a strong supporter of both measures said that they did not expect, but did not really care if "we get any shit from the Egyptians" because "we don't use their air bases anyway." Pellosi also hinted that the Israeli lobby has much more staying power than the Armenian lobby and would not "fold like a two dollar fez in a monsoon" if the Egyptians put up a squawk. When confronted, by reporters, with the fact that no one in Israel or the Jewish community in the United States had asked for the new resolution, Pellosi stated, "look, when the people of the United States returned Democratic majorities in both Houses last year, they were saying two things, we want out of the war in Iraq and we want you to condemn every wrong which has been perpetrated on anyone since the beginning of time.This is just a start."

Floor amendments to the Egyptian resolution are expected to weaken it a bit by taking out the personal condemnation of the late Yul Brenner. While some Democrats were said to understand that Brenner was merely an actor who played the part of a Pharoh, and not actually a Pharoh, a hard core of liberals were sticking to their guns, under the theory that "He should be condenmned for even taking such a role."

Tha Ambassador to Egypt, who was resisting a recall to Cairo because, "you just can't get good gin in Moslem countries" pointed out the hypocrisy of a nation, which had slavery only 140 years ago, condemning one that had it 5,000 years ago when "everyone in the civilzed world had slaves. " In response to the Amabssador's statement, a resolution was being drawn up in the House condemning the Confederate States of America and "everyone in the civilized world who lived 5,000 years ago." It was also reported that Pellosi herself, who represents a San Francisco district with a heavy homosexual demographic, was preparing a resolution condemning the deceased actor Norman Fell for "playing the part of a tediously obnoxious homophobic on that sit-com 'Three's Company', back in the 70s." That resolution is expected to meet only limited opposition.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tugging on Superman's cape

"You know you don't tug on Superman's cape
you don't spit into the wind,
you don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
and you don't mess around with Jim."

I think that probably the dumbest people alive are Scandanavian Cartoonist. For the second time in less than three years, one of them had drawn a picture of the Prophet Mohammed for a political cartoon. As I recall, the last guy (a Dane) had to go into hiding while bands of roving Islamic toughs rioted in the streets of the middle east protesting the lampooning of the Prophet. This latest guy,Lars Vilks, has drawn Mohammad's face on the figure of a dog, an animal which is considered unclean both by conservative Muslims and American Postal workers.

Vilks said that he was making a statement with the drawing and, I guess he was. The statement is "I'm a boob". He has already received hundreds of death threats (the fool has a listed telephone number) and there is a Muslim in Sweeden who has specifically said that she is gong to kill him. Al Qada is offering $100,000 for his murder, and $50,000 extra for slitting his throat. Lars "call me Lars" Vilks probably will avoid getting his throat slit. He is standing up for freedom of artistic expression ! The problem with these cartoonists standing up for freedom of artistic expression is that they never do it in a humorous way. Remember Gary Larsen and the "Far side", now there was a funny guy. They ought to bring him out of retirement and see if he can do a funny Mohammed cartoon. One that we could put on a coffee cup or a t-shirt. Something memorable like those people in hell doing the leg lifts. At least that would be artistic expression worth fighting over. The Prophet as a dog ? Come on, what is funny about that ?

Besides, how do we know it is the Prophet? No one has ever seen him. It is against Islamic law to picture him. Is Lars drawing a picture of a dog with a turban, and an arrow pointing at it which says "Mohammed" ? Of course, this is the same guy who did a cartoon of Jesus as a pedophile. It's just a laugh riot over there in Sweeden isn't it ? Sidesplitting good humor. And they wonder why Sweeden has such a high suicide rate. You get up and look at the comic section of the Stockholm Sunless Daily and hope to get a good laugh to start another day of darkness and by God, there's old Jesus molesting a child and the Prophet Mohammed dressed up like a dog, stop it guys, you're killing me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Following the Flag

You can stand alone,
or with somebody else,
or stand with all of us, together.
If you can believe
in something bigger than yourself
you can follow the flag forever. Randy Newman

Lou Dobbs, a xenophobic windbag who normally spends his time looking for Mexicans under every couch in America, is trying to stir up the simmering "flag lapel" issue which came up when Barrack Obama was questioned as to why he no longer wore an American Flag on his lapel. In a cute bit of "poor me" journalisn, Dobbs reports the story as one of the liberal media disdaining anyone who wears a flag lapel, especially if they work for the press, which Dobbs does, sort of. All of this is a vain attempt by Dobbs and his ilk to resurrect the famous "Pledge of alleigance" issue, which helped defeat Michael Dukakis in the presidential election in 1988. Then, like now, the nation was pretty tired of Republican rule, so the Democrats, following party tradition, nominated the single dumbest candidate that anyone could imagine. The governor of Massachusetts. The campaign had not progressed very far when some reporter or another asked Dukakis if there should be a law requiring every school child to say the pledge of alleigance to the U.S. flag. Dukakis, who had been to law school, knew that such a law was unconstitutional and foolishly said so to a reporter. George Bush the elder seized on this statement and spent the next month leading VFW meetings in the pledge and visiting every flag factory in America. He inserted in his stump speech the statment "I don't know what this guy's got against the pledge."All of this, combined with the fact that Dukakis looked silly riding in a tank and refused to get upset over a hypothetical question asked at a debate involving his wife Kitty being raped and murdered, resulted in an additional four years of Republican rule.

Lou would just as soon this debate start all over again, this time, with regard to the wearing of a flag lapel. In Lou's world, which by the way has no new houses because he has shut down the American construction industry by building a fence at the Mexican border, belief in the principles behind the flag are much less important than wearing one. If it was not illegal, I'm sure that Lou's entire wardrobe could consist of suits stitched together from old flags so no one could ever doubt just which side of the Rio Grande he was born on.The best story ever told on this issue came from an old Seinfeld show, where the Kramer character participated in an AIDs walk-a-thon to raise money to fight the disease, but did not wear the AIDS ribbon. "Who is refusing to wear the ribbon ?" was the cry, as if going out and walking ten miles to raise money was not enough of a commitment to make against the disease.

Look, Barrack Obama is running for the Presidency of the United States, I may not vote for him, but he has certainly proved his patriotism to me without having to wear a tiny metal flag on his lapel. I have no doubt that Lou Dobbs loves his country, his problem is that he does not love anything else, including the generosity that this country has always been known for. I think it's great that Lou wears a flag lapel.I despise anyone who would say that he should not. It's his choice and it's a good choice, but he should not be trying to start another rift in this country over the phoniest of issues.

Into to every life
a little rain must fall,
but it's not gonna rain forever,
you can rise above, you can rise above it all,
we will follow the flag together.
We will follow the flag forever ! Randy Newman

Monday, October 08, 2007

More chats with God

Back in January I reported that Pat Robertson had stated that God had directly told him that we were going to have a 9/11 type tragedy this year. At the time, I openly wondered why, if God could talk to anyone in the universe, he/she would waste his/her time talking to a dufus like Pat Robertson. That mystery continued today as Richard Roberts, son of Oral Roberts (faith healer) and President of Oral Roberts University announced at a school assembly that God had just talked to him directly ! While this is continuing evidence of God's existence and onmipotence, it is really starting to drastically call into account God's taste in friends.

What God told Richard, is that a lawsuit filed by three disgruntled (fallen?) profs from Oral Roberts contained scandal and lies. The law suit states that Richard, his wife Lindsay and one of his daughters have been spending hundreds of thousands of University dollars for their own home, wardrobes, vacations and possibly solicitations. Yes, solicitations. No one much cares about the $40,000 that was spent on a trip to Disney World, or even the tens of thousands spent on Lindsey's wardrobe. What they care about are Lindsey's text messages.

It seems that Lindsey, a middle age hottie and mother of three ,has been sending hundreds of text messages to persons described as "underaged boys", of whom Oral Roberts University has an almost unlimited supply. The messages are described as being sent between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. ,on a more or less nightly basis. She is also alleged to have had a staff member fired and replaced by one of her favorite "under aged boys". So far, none of the text messages have leaked out, but it is just a matter of time. My guess is that few of them ask, "are you praying ?".

Now lots of women have trouble sleeping, and I don't want to jump to any conclusions. I do want to cast a leering eye at the situation and, perhaps imply to you that Mrs Roberts vast collection of phone numbers of "underaged boys" may well be for purposes of initiating "missionary" acivity.Nudge, nudge. That is, when she tires of the "reverse cowboy".

Mrs Roberts is the hostess of a television program called "Make Your Day Count" which, according to her online biography, adresses "the needs of women". Perhaps I've been clicking past that station in unseemly haste, bigger fish are being fried there than I suspected.She also, at least up until today, when something tells me she might call in sick, hosts a show with her husband called "Hour of Power". I undertand that she may be replaced by Kathy Lee Gifford.

The best thing about the quote from God, passed onto us by Richard, is that God apparently said that "we live in a litigious society". We lawyers have enough trouble without God jumping into all of this. I don't recall God ever being that concerened with lawsuits. I do recall that that little "know it all" St Paul tried to set my profession back a thousand years by arguing that Christians should not sue other Christians. A preposterous proposition and one which, fortunately ,has not withstood the test of time. If it had, we would not have had this present law suit and would never have found out about the little training programs for students that Mrs Roberts (known as the "First Lady of Oral Roberts") was running up there in Tulsa between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. I feel very badly for the students at Oral Roberts and I hope that they are getting the support they need to remember that God loves each and every one of them. Just not in the same way Lindsey does.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Life Sciences

I received an e-mail from my daughter's Biology II teacher, indicating that she will give my daughter an A in Biology for the six week period. The fact that my daughter is in Biology II at all is a minor miracle. No Porter in her direct line,and this goes back all the way to 17th century Ulster, has ever taken this advanced a course in a science. It is true that her father took Biology twice in high school, but that was the same course. I just enjoyed it so much my sophomore year that I took it again the next year !

I am reminded of this because of the startling news today, that surgeons and immunologists at Duke Medical School are reporting that they have found a purpose for the appendix. If there is one thing I retained from high school biology, it is that the appendix has no use. That was my North Star, the one point I could rely upon as invariable in the study of human anatomy, that the appendix was as useless to the body as the Pill is to the Pope. It did nothing except get inflamed to the point of bursting, whereby it could kill you. I liked to think of it as God's little time bomb.I can reliably report that 321,000 people in this country went to the hospital with appendecitis last year.How many left the hospital without thier appendix, or left the hospital at all, is unreported. The state of American health care being what it is, we can probably guess that a good many of them left without a kidney (or two).

But back to the use of the Appendix. It turns out that the appendix has a function, just not in a "modern industrial society". The appendix acts as "a good safehouse for bacteria", as well as a "bacteria factory". Apparently, and I recall hearing this from a doctor once who told me to eat a lot of yogurt after I took a lot of anti-biotics, there is a massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system. Some of that bacteria is not such a good thing, but most of it is helpful to the digestive process. Well, lo and behold, it turns out that there is actually more bacteria in the body that there are cells in the human body. Where do the extraneous bacteria hang out when not in use ? The good old appendix. The appendix is, in the words of Duke Medical School "a cultivator of bacteria". Dr. Bill Parker goes so far as to say that is a "gut cul-de-sac". At this point, the biological metaphors went beyond my capacity to understand, so I can not tell you why it is important that our guts have a "cul de sac" rather than a through street. You will have to do that research yourself.

O.K, so why is the appendix not needed in the good old USA, but possibly needed in remote parts of the world. Here it is, according to Parker, if your "gut flora" (his term not mine) dies, you can easily pick up more from other people. People pass along germs to each other constantly. However, when there are few humans,and say ,cholera came along and wiped most of them out, it was not as easy for the remainder to grow back the needed bacteria. So it was important to have the old appendix acting as sort of a "gut dugout" (my term, not theirs) to send in the replacement bacteria when needed. Now get this. In the underdevloped countries, where the appendix still has a purpose, rates of appendecitis are much lower ! So if the 300-400 Americans who die of apedecitis each year lived in say, equatorial Africa and lived as hunter gatheres, they would probably not die that. Of course in equatorial Africa, their chances of dying os something else are much greater. So saving your appendix is probably not a good reason to move there.

But this is a great day, mystery solved. Only a jealous , bitter malcontent, like Dr Gary Huffnagle of the University of Michigan, would ruin such a day by saying, "Oh yeah, well what about the tonsils ? " One mystery at a time Doc. One mystery at a time.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Jury's back

In the case of the McDonalds strip search, the jury returned a $1 million verdict for the plaintiff and $5 million in punitive damages. I know nothing about Kentucky law, but the news stories seem to indicate that the case was tried as on of negligence with 50% of the liability attributed to McDonalds, and 50% to the fellow who called McDonalds to pull the "hoax". I assume thatBig Mc will get a credit for the 50% of the liability that does not go to them, probably on the actual damages. If so, and the punitive award stays undisturbed, the victim here will get $5.5 million, which is probably more than she was going to make for awhile by working behind the counter there in Kentucky. A brief survey of Kentuckians (those who e-mailed into the papers reporting on the case) show that most writers were upset with the verdict. However, one person, describing his or her self as a "Psychology Professor" opined that 60% of people asked to submit to the three and a half hour strip search would have. I'm sure that the data for that statement came from those old authoritarian studies done after World War II which showed how college kids would electrocute their fellow students in class experiments, if ordered to by the teacher.

At any rate, this is the biggest suit lost by Ronald Mc since the famous "the coffee was too hot" case some years ago. That case was a major contributor to United States tort reform, or as it is now known , tort obliteration. The five million dollars in punitives equals about 50% of the daily profit of the company.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Kentucky update

Last November 1, I wrote a blog about a "hoax" played at McDonalds on one of their employees.The hoax involved the employee being subjected to a three and one half hour strip search. As reported then, the person "punked" in that hoax, if you can call unconsensual sodomy a hoax, sued the golden arches for $200 million. That case went to the jury today, after a four week trial. Stay tuned for further details.Take a look at my November 1 blog to refresh your recollection.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Remembering Laika

With everyone remembering Sputnik this week, I have chosen to turn my thoughts to Sputnik II and the first animal in orbit.


A month after sputnik, in honor of the November 7 date of the Russian Revolution, a second sputnik was launched by the Godless Communists in the Kremlin. To show an advance over the first launch, this once included the dog Laika as a passanger. Laika is most often seen in pictures, wearing her little space suit, prior to the big launch, or as laika probably thought of it, her murder. There was never, of course, any plan to bring Laika back, Laika was (and is) a martyr to the scintific process, like the millions upon millions of her fellow beings who have perished so that we humans would have a better chance of living, or, at least not be hurt by new types of makeup.The USA never sent any dogs into space. We prefered mokeys.


But old Laika is pretty well forgotten by now, she died on her flight, from heat related problems. I assume that Sputnik II must have long ago decayed, fallen out of orbit and burned up any doggie remains. It is forgotten that, at the time, a lot of people were pretty upset at the Russians for launching poor Laika to her certain doom. Even members of the Soviet Science community later expressed misgivings about the one way ticket given to the poor dog. She was only three years old when she took her last ride, doggie prime !part Huskie, part terrier, Laika the mongrel was unfairly characterized by the American press as "Muttnik" because of her heritage.She had been found,a stray, wandering the streets of Moscow (she never made that mistake again) and had been "recruited" by the Soviet Physicists, along with two other similarly situated cannines to train for an orbital flight. It is certainly doubtful that Laika knew what she was getting herself into. Although one of the other dogs who trained with her took two suborbital flights, so maybe the word was passed along.

Most dogs have to die to be remebered. Old Yaller, Marley, that dog that belonged to Odysseus and poor Laika. Many dogs (including most of those who pull sleds in alaska) probably wonder how "man" treats everyone else if this is how he treats his best friend. Still Laika is immortal. The only mammal I know of who actually died in outer space. Others have dies upon take off, landing and reentry.But Laika may stand alone with regard to her demise. Of course, there might have been a monkey or two who did not make it back. I forget.