Quote of the Day - Politician Actually Makes Sense Edition

"I sometimes think we (legislators) should take a year off from writing new laws and go back over the books and get rid of laws that don't make sense anymore."
PA State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone, while discussing PA's moronic fireworks laws

Damn it, Jim, I'm a father, not a babysitter...

"Oh. You're out with two kids by yourself? You must be very brave!"

"Ah - wife is at work? You're stuck babysitting the kids, eh?"

"Where's your wife? At work? Wow - I don't know if I'd take two kids out by myself..."

I hear that quite often. Most recently today when I took my two kids, ages 3 and 5, downtown to the Pittsburgh Regatta. My wife had to work, like she does most weekends, so I grabbed a backpack, tossed in some water bottles and some snacks. Grabbed the kids and we headed down to Point State Park. Just the three of us. From some of the comments I got, you'd think I was undertaking one of the most dangerous journeys known to man.

I'm not sure if this is due to the incredibly rude and unruly kids out there (usually do to a lack of parenting) or if it's due to the wussification of the father figure in our culture - likely some of both - but I'm tired of hearing it. Being a father is more than just being a sperm donor. It's more than just bringing home a paycheck. It's more than just yelling at the kids when they interrupt SportsCenter. Being a father is an honor, a privilege, and most of all a responsibility and it can actually be fun, not just a chore.

Kids need strong role models in life and that's one of the main responsibilities of being a father - setting a good example. If you're too weak to handle taking two kids out in public by yourself, they'll recognize how it are and certainly learn to both exploit it and think less of you for it. If your kids are too wild and crazy to be out in public without you AND your wife, then you're not doing a good job raising them.

Dads - get off your asses, get your kids out for some bonding time, and stop using your wives as crutches to limp through your kids' lives.

Moms - stop letting your husbands just come along for the ride.

And all you judgemental types - stop assuming that, just because kids and fathers on tv are morons, my kids and I are too...

I'll take Heinlein for $1000, Alex, and Hanselman for $800

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert A. Heinlein
That's always been a favorite quote of mine and, though I can't say I can do ALL of those (yet), it's one that I take to heart.

Scott Hanselman had a good post up yesterday called Please Learn to Think about Abstractions, in response to Jeff Atwood's Please Don't Learn to Code and Zed Shaw's rebuttal Please Don't Become Anything, Especially Not A Programmer, in which he makes a point very similar to Heinlein's:
Everything is a layer of abstraction over something else. I push a button on my Prius and the car starts. No need even for a key in the ignition. A hundred plus years of internal combustion abstracted away to a simple push button.


I think everyone should learn how to think and when to dig deeper and should be able to do it in a welcoming and friendly environment.

Learn how to question how things work. Learn that everything new and simple hides something large and complex. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants like Newton, Tesla, Kettering, Berners-Lee, and on and on.

You can choose to live in a world where things just work, or you can choose to dig a little. You don't need to learn to code, you don't need to be an expert in everything but know that you can learn. You can learn a little or a lot. I don't think the Mayor of New York needs to know how to code, but it'd be nice if he knew a little about DNS and a little about HTTP
I come across this phenomenon, the "Let the professional handle it" mindset, quite often. Hell - I used to have that mindset to a degree. It's definitely a lot less work to just call the plumber or the electrician or buy your way out of a problem, but it certainly doesn't help you prevent it next time. But if you don't try, you'll never learn. Then the next time it happens, you'll "call the professional" again and still be no better off.

To Scott's point, and Zed's, I'll take a ton of bad code over no code at all if it means that someone is learning a new way to do something, learning how to think a bit differently, or trying to solve a problem themselves.

Who needs a knife? You do!

Via Breda and JayG comes the latest meme:
Take the knife out of your pocket and take a picture of it, and post it. Or post a picture of the same knife from a brochure or whatever.

No, not your favorite knife, or your prettiest, but the one that never leaves your side.

- Og at Neanderpundit
I went into detail about this a while ago but here's a candid photo:

The one on the right, a Gerber Paraframe II, is my daily carry. Suit, Dockers, jeans, shorts. Work, weddings, camping, sitting around the house. It's there 99% of the time.

The one on the left, a Benchmade Pika, used to be my daily carry and now resides as a backup in my messenger bag.

See my previous post for more detail on why I carry a knife and why you should too!

Actions speak louder than words

Ten years. It certainly seems like it was just yesterday. I'm sure all of us can remember exactly where were when we first heard the news. I'm sure most of us spent that Tuesday trying to get work done but mostly perched in front of the TV watching the events unfold. I certainly do. I remember the mammoth traffic jams as cities emptied, eyes peering skyward, looking for the next airplane-turned-missile.

I remember. And I will Never Forget.

"Never Forget" - that has become the popular phrase that embodies September 11th. Never forget the 2,977 innocent people who perished that day. Never forget the 343 FDNY firefighters and paramedics who gave their lives to help ensure that others lived. Never forget the men and women on Flight 93 who, when faced with certain death, did not cower but said "Let's roll" and fought back. Never forget.

But, while these people and their tragic deaths are very important to remember, I hope that the remembrance does not stop there. I hope people remember that these deaths did not occur in the midst of battle. These people died when a petulant and archaic culture lashed out because it could not accept that it was a failure. A culture that peaked centuries ago and was unable, or unwilling, to adapt to a changing world. A culture that, much like the school-yard bully, could no longer compete on the merits and was left with cowardly attacks as its only means. Never forget.

Remembering the people that lost their lives is important Remembering the pathetic, cowardly poor excuses for men that were responsible for their deaths is important. But don't stop there. Those 11th century barbarians, those school-yard bullies, know that our culture of freedom, of responsibility, of progress is winning. Let's keep showing them why. Let your actions show that not only haven't you forgotten but that you haven't given in.

Work hard to support your self and your family. Teach your children about responsibility and freedom. Speak out for what is right. But most of all, live well. Take responsibility for your future, your safety, and your happiness. Words are important, but your actions will speak more loudly and more clearly.

Quote of the Day - Governor Brown of California

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 105 without my signature.

This measure would impose criminal penalties on a child under the age of 18 and his or her parents if the child skis or snowboards without a helmet.

While I appreciate the value of wearing a helmet, I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state. Not every human problem deserves a law.

I believe parents have the ability and responsiblity to make good choices for their children.


Edmund G. Brown Jr.
California Governor Brown, Senate Bill 105 Veto Message

Via Say Uncle

All I have left is the change

Allen Schulman, Canton City Council President, is unclear on the concept

Allen Schulman, President of the City Council of Canton, OH, cries in his Wheaties. He's unhappy that one of Canton's police officers, Daniel Harless, was caught on camera threatening a man, numerous times, with death and serious injury. Officer Harless informs the man that he should have stepped back, drawn his gun, and put ten rounds in the guy. He goes on to say that he would have executed the man and slept soundly that night. All of this while being filmed by the camera in his own patrol car.

Let me say this again: Officer Harless, a supreme, power-mad asshole of the highest order, threatens to beat, torture, and execute a man ON CAMERA. And, as these sort of videos are prone to do, the dash cam video went viral, bringing well-earned shame and ridicule down upon the town of Canton, the police department, and Officer Daniel Harless.

One would think that Allen Schulman, the President of the Canton, OH City Council, would be angry and outspoken after this incident. And you would be correct! However, Council President Allen Schulman is NOT speaking out against Officer Daniel Harless nor his behavior. He's angry that people from outside of Canton have been calling him to complain about Officer Harless and his atrocious, criminal behavior.

I'm sorry Allen Schulman, but having a Canton mailing address and voter registration is not a requirement to observe and be outraged at the behavior of a psychopath such as Officer Daniel Harless. Rather than stand up, acknowledge, and condemn the outrageous behavior of one of your town's officers, you've chosen to circle the wagons and attempt to divert attention away from Officer Harless by whining and complaining about the very people with whom you should be agreeing.

Restaurant says "Toodaloo" to toddlers

Noise Prompts Monroeville Restaurant To Ban Young Kids
"You know, their child -- maybe as it should be -- is the center of their universe. But they don't realize it's not the center of the universe."

- Mike Vuick, owner of McDain's Restaurant
A local restaurant owner got tired of putting up with loud and unruly children. So he banned them. As a father of two very well-behaved toddlers, I only have this to say to Mr. Vuick: "Great idea!"

I've taken my children to numerous restaurants and, whether it's due to good parenting or luck, they've been well behaved every time but one. And that time? I picked up the loud child and walked out while my wife paid the bill and collected the meals to take home. However, I've been present when other parents think that simply saying "shush" is all that is needed when their child continues to scream, run or around, or act crazy. And it is extremely annoying.

I'm glad I don't frequent this restaurant because, as it sounds like he's not making any exceptions, my family wouldn't be allowed in anymore. Despite that, I completely support Mr. Vuick's decision.

Mother Nature Has Rights Too!

I honestly don't even know what to say to this. Only two things come to mind:
  2. Are you fucking kidding me?
LTE: A planet's rights
A planet's rights

The June 20 article "Defending Mother Earth" reports on the Bolivian president and Parliament passing a "Bill of Rights for Mother Nature." But this is only the first step in a process of getting the United Nations to make a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. In Cochabamba, Bolivia, during the World People's Conference on Climate Change in April, Bolivia and other Third World countries passed a resolution to move the process to the world forum at the United Nations.

The PG article quotes "local stakeholders" such as Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources, who states that the Bolivian policy "is a little out there." Also quoted is Joe Osborne, who states that "the practical effects will probably not be very significant."

My opinion, however, is that this is a development of monumental significance for humanity and the planet. Further, the passing of such a universal declaration is well nigh a necessity if the planet is to be saved from the depredation enshrined in our economic and social policies. It is possible to dismiss this movement as rhetoric, but could one not say the same of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1947? But in the aftermath of that declaration came the decolonization of the world, the civil rights movement and the feminist movement, to name just a few of its profound effects.

To get a perspective other than the kind of voices quoted in the article, the Thomas Merton Center is bringing to Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 Vandana Shiva of India, one of the pioneers for the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. She will be receiving the annual Thomas Merton Award and giving this movement a jump start in Pittsburgh.


The writer is a board member of the Thomas Merton Center.
Props to Matt Pitzarella for the understatement of the day.