The Gross National Debt

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Travel Log IV

At the Municipal Firing Range in what is pretty much downtown Columbus, a handful of Georgia Outdoor Writer Association members showed up to shoot Heckler & Koch 9mm handguns.

From now on, just to annoy MM, I'm gonna call 'em pistols.

HK was supplying the pistols and the ammo. Columbus supplied the range and the Police Department's shooting instructor.

Columbus was also kind enough to supply two different locations with the same address on opposite ends of the city. Naturally, CM, DW and I went to the wrong one first. After arriving in the middle of an apartment complex and not seeing anything that resembled a shooting range, we figured we were in the wrong place, as the directions said could happen if we didn't pay attention.

If we'd been in Savannah, the apartment complex would be a firing range.

Anyway, I've shot HK's before, in full auto even. HK has a rep of being solid, dependable, accurate and everything else you can want from a firearm. even better, HK broke ground on Columbus plant this year. Soon HK will be making their guns in the Peach State, which is yet another reason to support this fine company.

The law enforcement sales rep discussed the guns with us. Each gun comes with quick-replace grips for the back and the sides. They are thick, medium and thin. You can literally put a thick back on and thin side grip on one side and a thick side on the other. You can combine them in a bunch of ways to get the one that best fits you.

He also had several slides on the table. HK starts with a solid billet of steel. It's machined down into the final product. It is not made from stamped metal.

The barrel also starts from a billet of round steel. The barrel is drilled. Then, polygon rifling is literally hammered into the barrel. A series of hammers strike the inside of the barrel 1,000 times a minute. Polygon rifling is considered superior to groove rifling by some people.

Polygon rifling does engage the entire projectile as it gets shoved down the barrel. Some folks say unjacketed lead will foul a polygon barrel faster than a groove rifled barrel. Don't know. I have very limited experience with polygon rifling.

One thing I learned for sure at the range, I need more range time. At 7 yards, my target died to death, but it would take my whole hand to cover the grouping. The shooting instructor could cover his group with his thumb.

Travel Log III

We get to the lake, to the marina. We being CM and I. He's driving and GPS did the navigating. Much like people who get in planes, I'm just a passenger. Exactly like most of those people, I'm hoping CM (who is a real captain) doesn't overbook the trip and decide I'm the passenger who needs to be forcibly evicted harder than a semi-conscious crack head.

This is Columbus. I can find the Hooch, just head west until I run into the river. But finding a specific location, such as a marina. Well, yes. I can find that too. I just need a few week's head start.

Further, CM and I are the two fishing in the same boat with a guide. I can still be kicked out of the boat.

We get to the marina without the need to become the next Youtube viral video and that day's "discussion du jour" on the Internet. Our guide, a just-graduated college student and member of the college's bass fishing team

Hang on.

College. Bass. Fishing. Team?


BASS FISHING TEAM? When did this happen? Why didn't it happen in the mid-80s so I could be on a college bass fishing team? Who is responsible for this and can I go back to college right now?

This needs much more research

who is an expert on the lake. Which lake? The one we fished. Do not bother me with frivolous questions. I made it to Columbus, GA, and found the hotel. We fished one of the lakes here.

Our guide was ready. He even had a can of red wigglers in case the bass decided to not bite.

Talk about awesome. And yes, I do have his name. It's in the notepad I can't find.

Look. I MADE IT TO COLUMBUS. OK? You still don't know what an achievement this is.

Anyway, the water was the color of watered-down chocolate milk or coffee with a LOT of creamer. Lots of debris in the water too. The storms dumped plenty of water into the system. CM and our guide feared the fishing would be bad. Being a 28-year veteran of GOWA meetings, I was not at all concerned. I knew the fishing was gonna be bad. Any time outdoor writers show up, fish quit biting, animals go into hiberation and package stores raise their prices 25 percent.

We motor out a short distance. The water clears. Whoa.

Our guide motors us over to a section of the lake that looks exactly like the rest of the lake. It looks exactly same because we are looking at the surface. If we could see under water, we'd see a huge stump field in a few feet of water. We'd also see jillions of spotted bass cruising the stump field like a pack of hyenas trailing a herd of limping wildebeest.

I verify the presence of the stumps, carefully marking each one by getting my lure hung. This allows CM and the guide to spend far more time fishing than I. As a result, they catch more fish. I receive no thanks for this selfless act of mapping the lake bottom far more accurately than any sonar, radar, aerial surveillance or topographic map.

Our guide and CM throw topwater lures. These lures make lots of noise on the surface and are specifcally designed to draw fish to the surface and, more importantly, not get hung on subsurface stumps. I throw a much-bass-chewed black firetail worm. I start drawing actual strikes from actual fish, landing one small spot, while CM and our guide whip the surface into a heavy froth.

They switch lures. Our guide said he read that heavily pressured fish, which these are, can be caught with a jig head with the skirt removed and a soft bait on the hook. He equips us with Chatterbaits and a swimming shad in a silver-shad pattern. Our discussion moves to fish and their ability to see colors. If you think bass cannot see colors, then you are not a bass angler.

As the spots move off that color pattern, the guide switched bodies to one with a more green color. The bite resumes. After CM pried me off the guide's leg, I apologized to him, saying it had been a while since breakfast. He told me there were sandwiches in the cooler. Truth told, I was not hungry. I was irked he was catching more fish than me.

I put the even more abused black-fire tail on. More fish. Black firetail worms with a curled tail is my go-to color. It produces fish for me.

While out, we also saw carp. A LOT of carp, including one that was 30+ pounds and tailing in the shallows. He or she was making a huge racket. I guess the fish was the Donald Trump of that body of water. We saw other carp swim up to the edge of the reeds and bull their way INTO the reeds. Carp expert HS later told me this is peak carp spawning season and the fish were in the reeds to spawn.

Fish sex in public in the weeds. Just making it clear for you.

The morning came to an end and CM and I had to be at the municipal shooting range at 1. As our guide's boat was not equipped for land travel, unless it was towed on a trailer or something really bad happened, we had to part company. We were due at the range to shoot guns belonging to someone else and use their ammunition, my preferred way to spend time on a shooting range. Heckler & Koch was the sponsor. We shot 9mm semi autos, which I found to be superior in construction, handling and accuracy than the Glock. But that's a story for Travel Log IV.

Our guide was Michael Chambliss. We fished on Lake Oliver. You can see a picture of one of the two fish I landed at on Facebook at the Georgia Outdoor Writer's Association page CM posted the smaller of the two.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Travel Log II

A decent night's sleep. Decent. The bed is comfortable the AC is low and the only thing that bothered me was not having a clock so I'd know what time it was. Have to be in the lobby at 6:45 to meet CM for the fishing trip. Don't wanna be late.

Yes, you can call the front desk and ask for a wakeup call. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't. More often than not it doesn't, at least for me.

Up at 5:30. Check various online stuff and worry about hackers stealing what's left of my identity through the hotel WiFi. I read an article in Wired Magazine this week about a Russian hacking syndicate that had the backing of the Russian government. While emptying bank accounts, the hackers also spied for their government or Julian Assange. The Wired article was not really clear about that.

As 6 a.m. approaches, I toddle downstairs to the restaurant. The hotel has given me a stack of "vouchers" for the breakfast buffet. A good thing too, I learn later. A gent wandered in without a voucher and had to drop $15 for the meal.

It is a good breakfast, sausage, eggs, BACON, grits, oatmeal, fruit, muffins & assorted bread. The motels I stay in offer a "continental" breakfast. I'm not sure what continent thinks breakfast is a few boiled eggs, almost cold apple and orange juice, bad coffee, stale bread and corn flakes. Whatever continent that is, needs to wake up and smell the bacon, like here. They had a pot with about 12 pounds of bacon in it.

Because I'm heading out fishing in a bit, I went light on breakfast,

I have vouchers for tomorrow's breakfast. I will hurt myself.

As I get ready to leave, two men begin to argue. I'm heading into the lobby and they begin swearing at each other, using various profanities. Hemorrhoids. I'm not saying they have hemorrhoids. I'm saying they are hemorrhoids.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Travel Log I


For the next few days I am BACHELOR MAN! in the City of Columbus on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in middle Georgia. Next to Phenix (no O thank you very much) Alabama and home to, well, people who live in Columbus.

The day's journey started after I got off the banananananana. Loaded the truck the night before so I was able to hit the road immediately after returning to the plantation. This also means I was able to become immediately worried that I would get lost and not find the hotel and the Georgia Outdoor Writer's Association annual convention until it was over. I get lost on one-day dead end streets.

I did check the All Knowing Source of Any Information You Wish To Know Except What's Behind the Paywalls on the best News Sites (and any porn pay sites are your business and not mine) Google. 

The All Seeing Eye of Sergy Brin told me to get on one road, which I know how to find. Then, merge onto Interstate 185 and go through Ft. Benning. This came with the warning "DO NOT STOP AND TRY TO BUY A TANK! THE MILITARY DOES NOT APPRECIATE YOUR ENTHUSIASM!" I am not kidding. Google knows way too much about me.

I get on the road and immediately get behind a major hemorrhoid who insisted on doing 15 miles an hour under the speed limit. I eventually pass him 

"Merge onto Interstate 185."

Whoops. Sorry about that. CM came by and since we're fishing together in the morning, we had to decide who what when and where. Then we went to the hospitality room. TC, the shine was almost as good as the West Virginia stuff we sampled a while back. Almost.

Anyway, back to 185. I merged. The bottom fell out. Frogs were strangled. Cats and dogs fell from the heavens. A normal good soaking S. Georgia rain in other words. I GOT BEHIND ANOTHER HEMORRHOID DOING 25 MPH WITH HIS HAZARD LIGHTS ON! I had to follow this for several miles until I finally got space to go around him. Now I was within aiming distance of where I actually needed to be.

"Go to some road with 'Airport' in the name and get off the Interstate."

I did.

"Turn Left. Unless you can't, in which case turn right and go down the road until you are almost lost to find a place to make an illegal U turn then go back the way you just came crossing under the 185 Overpass and the hotel should be on the right." That's not the real directions, but it should be because that is what happened.

It worked. I found the hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton. For those of you who do not know, my idea of a fancy hotel is a Motel 6 a yellow bug light out front that stays on 24/7, provided the motel owner remembered to change it the last time it blew out. JJ, this year's incoming president, is in charge of the conference and got to pick the hotel. JJ has an expense account from several different publications so he gets reimbursed at least twice for this kind of trip, so he books fancy.

Next year I plan the conference. Tom Bodett has promised to leave two lights on for us and will not complain if some of us pitch a tent in the yard in back.

As I'm looking for the driveway to the hotel which is in plain sight behind a Burger King, across a raised divider in the road and in the middle of an African jungle of plants, I call me bud DC. We've not seen each other since college. For some reason, he chooses to live here in Columbus. He won't answer the phone (smart man, one of us probably owes the other money and I am dead broke after this trip) and I leave a voice mail.

I walk in. I'm dressed all in black except for my camo hat with ARMED INFIDEL and an AR-14  printed on the front and my red, white & blue suspenders. The PYTs (purty young thangs) behind the counter do their best to smile at me while silently praying "Please don't kill me, mister. I'm too young to die and I'm just working here while I go to college and if you let me live I promise to devote the rest of my life to good works."

TC, I'm telling you this is some seriously good shine. It's only sold in the beltway up where Rebel lives. Rebel, I'll get you the name so you can buy me some.

Meanwhile across the lobby the hotel is hosting a Shrieking Middle Aged Woman Convention Replete With Balloons, Giant Fuzzy Dice, Bags of Junk and People Dressed In Identical Clothing Convention. I quickly determine they do not have any free booze. The women in the banquet room carry on like the Chippendale Dancers are in there. I open the door to check, just in case they need another dancer, and only see a bunch of middle-aged women yelling and waving things that are not dollar bills. Just as well. Left my thong in S. Georgia.

I check in. I get a super discounted rate. Discounted because I am a professional word slinger and the hotel is hoping to get some good PR. Somebody gonna be surprised when this blog goes live. Super, because the guy next to me, also checking in and checking me out with sidewise glances and silently praying "Mister, I'm not a terrorist, please don't kill me because I'm just staying here tonight and I swear to whatever you hold holy that I will be gone before you get up in the morning if you'll just let me live" is shucking out slightly more than $400. My room is considerably cheaper and I'm staying longer than he is.

The clerk tells me my room is on the 2nd floor. I call DC again. He makes the mistake of answering We plan (lie) to meet up sometime this weekend. I drive around the parking lot in a driving rain looking for my room, a technique I like to call "looking for an open parking space that will be on the far side of the hotel from my room because the place is full of hemorrhoids." I park across from the main swimming pool and the emergency backup swimming pool also known as a parking lot. I literally wade, I am not kidding, around my truck. I step on the running rail to get out of the water. Still talking to DC.

He expresses surprise that I drove through the weather. I later learn Columbus was under a tornado watch. Warning? Whichever one means a tornado could happen, but has not been seen yet. The weather forecasting (lying) industry needs to make this easier to understand. I suggest this terminology for the future: "Tornado warning/watch" = a tornado may happen. "Flying mobile home" = a tornado is on the ground and trying to juggle livestock, vehicles and trailers. Check in with The Weather Channel. "We're here in Columbus, Georgia, where the area is under a tornado watch. We're having heavy rain and some lightning. The tornado warning is expected to last until 9 p.m." Then, a few minutes later, "Columbus is experiencing a flying mobile home. The twister is moving at 60 MPH on a NE track." See? Much easier to understand.

Anyway, I told Dennis, "I'm from S. Georgia." I then START to complain about the hemorrhoid on 185. DC interrupts me before I even get that far.

"Yeah. You got behind someone doing 20 miles an hour with his flashers on," he says.

"DOOD! YOU WERE BEHIND HIM TOO!" This is amazing.

No, DC assures me. This is how people drive in Columbus. I begin to doubt the wisdom of coming here.

Up to my room. 

On the second floor, a lamp greets me. Well, not so much greets me as stands there next to the elevator shedding some light. I later find it's one of a matched pair. I'm guessing this is an artistic expression of the neo-classical, post-modern, totally Lost-His-Freaking-Mind School of Turning Fossilized Turds Into Art. There may be an uglier lamp in the world, but I hope not. When I later find it is matched pair, I briefly consider suicide.

I get to my room. Unlike the motels I am used to, this room is spacious. More importantly, THE AC IS ALREADY ON! I check it, intending to turn the thermostat to the "meat locker" setting. It says, "thermostat is on the wall." Jeeeeeeez. This is a Hilton hotel and it's going to be that crappy, I think. I find the thermostat. I turn it down to "WW and MW will be very concerned about the very low temperatures overnight." WW & MW are my Canadian family.

Awe. Some. Ness.

Having missed the hospitality meeting in a place I could not find anyway, I wander down to the hotel restaurant planning to pay way too much for a way too tiny meal.

The maitre'd sits me in a booth. I manage to squeeze in without a come-along and a crowbar. A few minutes later the PYT responsible for making sure I pay my bill comes up behind me and starts talking. As in Comes Up Behind Me and Starts Talking. Exactly like a Georgia State Trooper does. I expect her to say "You in a heap of trouble now boy, your card done been declined."

She doesn't. I order a craft beer. She disappears. She's gone so long I assume she's brewing my beer. It's served in a small wine glass. The amount of beer is about a Pony Miller. It is very good beer. Not Blue Moon, but definitely tasty.

After watching an arthritic tortoise marathon race from start to finish, she comes back and takes my order. The menn prices are not too bad for a something-star hotel. I get a burger. You wanna make me happy with food? Bacon. Ham. Burger. She takes my order and goes back to the kitchen to raise a calf to adulthood and slaughter it, age the beef, grind it, wait for an oak tree to mature, harvest it, make coals from the logs and grill the burger.

All kidding aside. I ordered a burger with shrooms and provolone cheese. They seared the cheese and the shrooms together and threw it on the burger. Oy. Vey. That was amazing.

While I wait, I memorize the menu celebrate a few birthdays, then stare around the place. I see a security camera over the entrance. Dunno about you, but a security camera in a joint that charges 15 bucks for burger just screams class to me. I stare the lens in the eye and fish around on my side for my keys. I keep nail trimmers on my keychain. Still staring dead into the lens, I make sure my fingernails are clean. They are … when I'm done.

Back to my room, and CM shows up. Now, I need a refill of shine so I can do some work for which I actually get paid.

Friday, April 21, 2017

When reality won't behave

This is gonna make some people mad. It may cause hurt feelings. I ain't responsible for your feelings. I will plead guilty to trying to make you think. Whether you do so or not is up to you.

Life will go on no matter what you think.

This is the story of a 10-year-old boy with autism who was arrested at school. It's the story of his mother shooting video of the arrest.

This story is incomplete. You, me and the guy behind you who just ducked around the corner so you can't see him, do not have all the facts. The school system said it will not comment on the case. Ergo, you have it in black & white that not all the facts are presented.

So, lemme find my Clue x 4 collection and select a good one for today's lesson.

Up front - I am the parent of a special needs kid. I am an advocate for all kids. I have fought my school system for my son exactly like a Canadian chum has done for her son. I've worked with autistic kids.

But, this kid attacked people, according to the story.


1) An autistic man. He used to attend what amounts to an adult cay care center for people with mental deficiencies. He got mad one day at someone at the center and set fire to a home in town. Fortunately, the home was abandoned.

2) An autistic child with severe emotional and behavioral problems. This child regularly hit, kicked and scratched teachers. When he was about 12, he started a fire in his own home. He and his entire family died.

3)  The news is filled with similar stories. The news is not filled with similar stories because many such stories never get reported. Like the young autistic man with a machete. Like the young woman who attacked people at random. 

FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education)

I'm all for inclusive education until it begins to negatively affect the way other children learn. When that happens, need some intervention.

Some allowances must be made for disabled children, absolutely.

However, there also comes a point when someone must step in and say, "We've gotta stop this."

Schools are not meant to be daycare centers.


Gotta go metaphorical on you for just a moment.

HP Lovecraft created Cthulu, an entity many describe as the ultimate evil. As envisioned by Lovecraft, Cthulu is not evil. The entity is completely apathetic toward human and human creations. In other words, Cthulu looks on people like we do the bacteria that surround us. We ignore it unless it creates a problem, then we wipe it out of existence.

Cthulu is nothing more than reality.

Reality does not care about this 10 YOA. It does not care about you. It does not care about me.

Unless we become a nuisance. Then, we're not even history.

Reality is the world and the people around us. They do not care. No, they don't. You don't. I don't. We don't. If we cared, we'd be working in soup kitchens, working for Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, the United Way, volunteering in our schools specifically to help people like this 10 YOA and supporting other charities with our time and money.

(Yes, you do support some, but you also oppose some and don't care about others. Yes, you do.)

The Cthulu of Reality says this child might be in far more serious trouble than 3rd degree charge. This child may be barreling down a road that leads to his own violent death at the hands of someone he attacked because has autism.


Plenty of people don't care that this child has autism. They just see someone dangerous who needs to be put in a place where he cannot hurt anyone else. They have no interest in being put in the Hurt Locker, but don't have a problem putting this child there, if he will not conform to their expectations of behavior.

These people are in the majority and make the rules and are the reality we parents of disabled children must deal with.

Getting in your face blunt, such behavior in school is one thing (more in a moment). This kind of behavior, out in public and on the street, can easily result in that kid getting the pure hell beat out of him, if not killed.

In the US, minors can be arrested, put in handcuffs and taken into legal custody. They can be taken to the juvenile version of jail.


I hear what you are saying about this 10 year old with autism.

Hear what I am saying, if you were attacked by this child, what would you do?

Hear what I am saying. I have the right, as you do, to defend myself. If you think a 10 year old child cannot inflict serious bodily harm, then you are not paying attention. I had a 10 YOA who could bench press as much as a football player when he was 10. He also has (present tense) the highest tolerance for pain I have ever seen in a person. At 20, imagine what he can do now. Thankfully, Jesse is as kind-hearted a person as you'd ever meet. 

Hear what I am saying. School system employees are not paid to be attacked by children. Attacks cannot be tolerated. If this child attacked someone in public, charges would be pressed. The child could very well go to jail. The judge could take the disability into consideration. The judge could also order the child held in a juvenile psychiatric center. Enough attacks and the child will be "put away" long term.

Hear what I am saying. This world does not give a tinker's dam about this child's disability. No amount of education is going to change the way some people feel and react to people with disabilities.

Hear what I am saying. We parents of disabled kids will be gone some day. Our disabled children will be left behind. That means someone else will decide their fate.

Hear what I am saying. You may call me cold and cruel. Call me whatever names you like. But unless you are the parent of a disabled child, you don't have a f'dangin' clue what I go through, what I put up with and how hard I work to protect my child from other people and protect other people from him.

Hear what I am saying. Unless you are such a parent, you have no idea what it is like to lay awake and night and wonder what will happen to your child when you've left this realm of existence.

Hear what I am saying. I wish things could be otherwise. I hate what happened to this boy. I live in this thing called reality. I may wish it were otherwise, but reality is under no obligation to conform itself to my expectations. I have to accept reality or be crushed beneath it. I do not insist you also live in reality, but if you do not, don't look to me for help and support.

So, what would you do to, for and by this child? What would you do to, for and by the people he's attacked? What about future attacks?

Reality. It sucks, but that is what we have.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Legally required to fail


Really. This actually happened. Last time I was there, the building was still there. Not open though. I went in the bar more than once when I was but a chirren so you know the bar was open in the 1970s.

The bar was in deep South Georgia. Call the owner Chaucer to protect him.

The building was long with doors on each side. The actual bar where beer was served ran down the middle.

One side was for people of one ethnic persuasion. The other side was for people of another ethnic persuasion. Chaucer served people equally, provided they stayed on "their" side of the bar. He was quick to tell you if you wanted to talk to someone on the other side, you took it outside.

The bar stayed open for years.

Chaucer said if he was forced to integrate, he'd close it.

The community there accepted the bar. It stayed open until Chaucer retired.

You, probably, would say integrate. Chaucer would close the bar. This would deprive the community of the local watering hole. That would make every person who regularly visited the bar mad, on both sides of the bar.

How is it fair? How is it fair to let him run the bar the way he wanted to?

One more item. The bar did close because someone complained. Rather than integrate, he closed. Then, the community got behind Chaucer and asked him to reopen, which he did. The bar was segregated and remained that way until he retired.

So far as I know, he is the only person to ever run a bar successfully in that town.


You are gonna have to suspend your personal convictions a moment. Don't panic. I'm going to do the same just after this section.

Just for discussion, say the only way a bar can stay open there (make enough money) is by being segregated.

How would you handle this?

How do Chaucer's rights differ from the person who complained about the segregated bar?

Say everyone else on both sides of the bar wanted it that way. How do the rights of all of Chaucer's other customers differ from the person who complained?

Does the community have the right to have a bar?

If the community says it wants the bar and is willing to have the bar under Chaucer's requirements, should it be allowed to open?


Let's just say I agree that a florist, photographer, bakery, tire shop, pharmacy, bar or pick the business of your choice is legally required to provide service to people the owner does not want to serve.

I do not agree with that, but work with me here.

A photog must take pictures of a same gender wedding.

A Jewish bakery must make an anti Semitic cake.

A pharmacist must sell "morning after" pills.

Pick something. The key point is the demand is a direct violation of the beliefs held by the business owner. Has to be legal to provide the service or product. Ideally, it should also be readily available at another business in town. Not a requirement. It is not a critical item. A good example of critical is insulin for a diabetic. Non critical is a requirement.


Stated: Forcing, as noted above, is legal.

Stated: This is the law of the land, as approved by legislative bodies and courts.

Stated: This is also approved by taxpayers. If the elected reps did it, then the masses agreed. If the courts do it, ehhhhh. Fine. Call that the law of the land too. I still say citizen referenda to amend Constitutions and Jury Nullification are powers vested in the plebes to reign in government.

Can we accept these three points, JUST for the sake of this discussion? Doesn't matter if you can or can't. You're gonna keep reading to hopefully find out what's on my mind.

Fourth point-

Stated: The business must abide by these requirements because this is ordered by taxpayers.

Any fines generated go in the government general fund.


Approved is different than ordered. It has to be ordered. If the business does not comply, the business and owner can be fined; that means ordered. A business can be approved to sell beer, but does not have to sell beer. See the difference?

So you have now ordered this business owner to do what he does not want to do. You are good with that. (Work with me on this)


Lemme give you an example.

Ignatius runs a store. He sells wood glue.

The owner, Ignatuis, believes Elbonians should not be allowed to have wood glue.

Ignatius sells wood glue to everyone else without having belief cramps.

But, he is forced to sell wood glue to the town's only Elbonian, Phread because law.

Good enough. Now let's throw a capuchin into the mechanism.


Ignatiius HAD a very successful business. He made money. He paid taxes. He socked money back for retirement. He did not get rich, but made a reasonable profit. Everything he did was legal. Everything.

Except, except not selling wood glue to Phread.

As stated, not selling wood glue to Phread is against the law. The matter goes to court. Ignatius loses.

Now, Ignatius is forced to do something that violates his core beliefs.

Word gets out. They too believe Elbonians should not be allowed to have wood glue. They boycott Ignatius for following the law. His business dries up. Customers stay away in droves.

Ignatius is forced to close his formerly profitable business because no money.


Who is responsible?

He was doing fine. No one was complaining until he refused to fill one customer's order. Now, because he was forced to comply with the law, his business is closed because his customers were offended and left him.

Who is responsible?

Because this business owner did what the law required, society rebelled and shut him down.

It has happened before.

Social pressure nearly ruined Montgomery's bus system because Rosa Parks.

Boycotts work.

Northern Ireland is a good example of segregated shopping.

Businesses still close.

If you must have more proof, go get it. This point is as solid as adamantium.


Social pressure closes businesses regularly. When customers go elsewhere, whatever the reason, businesses close. You've seen it happen in your community.

But my point goes right back to the law. If the formerly successful business complies with the law and customers object and leave, who is responsible?

In case you MISSED IT above.

HERE COMES THE MUMMY (wrapping this up. ARHARHAR!)

My thoughts? I say if the law is going to force a business to act a certain way and the customer base objects and leaves, then the law is responsible for keeping that business open and at the same profit level as before.

If I make decisions that cause my business to close, my fault. And ONE MORE TIME. This was both a BUSINESS DECISION and the law. This business was legally required under the law to allow Ted Cruz et all to use the premises. Cruz et al were specifically invited.

If the law forces a decision on my previously successful business and that forced decision causes my customers to leave, not my fault.

Taxpayers, who are at the root of the law, should be required to pick up the bill to keep the business afloat.

But no one else will agree with me on this.

A business owner should be allowed to run his operation as he sees fit.

Economic harm is empirical. It can be measured, quantified, stated, reported, examined, etc. The problem is sometimes the law forces economic harm for no good reason. That's just flat wrong.

And in one very real case, a community loses a business it wanted, a business that operated the way the community wanted.

Friday, April 7, 2017

What is free speech?

NB: I am aware the formatting is wonky. Blogger refuses to cooperate. The HTML is batshit crazy. Enjoy anyway.

Can a florist be required to make a flower arrangement against his/her will?

Who wants the arrangement and what it is for is irrelevant. Can the florist be forced to do it?

Y'all should know by now that I say no. But there's a bigger question here and it is one of the Bill of Rights Amendments.

Free speech. 

Is making a flower arrangement free speech? Painting a portrait or taking a picture of flowers is absolutely free speech.

What is free speech

Seriously. What is free speech? How far does it go? What's covered?

The Bill of Rights leads with this - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Over the years, various laws have attempted to add minutiae on this amendment. Damn. I need to quit trying to be erudite– damn.

Over the years, politicians have tried to restrict your free speech. (whew).

The court system has weighed in regularly. The United States v. Progressive is the most important, to my thinking. Briefly, a magazine announced it was publishing in the next issue the plans for an atomic bomb. The gummint sued to stop publication. The specific plans became a moot point when another magazine, unannounced, published the same plans.

When free speech stops

When, where, why, how and when does free speech stop? This is both so well-defined it might be cut with a precision laser and so nebulous the Federal Government budget is simple in comparison.

The simple ones - Don't threaten people. When you are on the clock, your employer can limit your free speech. "Employees don’t have a Constitutional right to free speech or freedom of expression at work. The Constitution’s right to free speech only applies when the government is trying to restrict it.

Your right to flap your piehole can also be limited by other circumstances. This is where the nebula starts to spread. Libel and slander are the best example. It is impossible to libel or slander the president. Say the same thing about your neighbor and you MIGHT be subject to a legal bodyslam.

Except when clearly stated as opinion it is not libel or slander.

Yeah. Confusing.

So what is free speech?

Say it.

Write it. This includes computer programming as well as anything you write and post online. Like this column.

Dance it.

Design it.

Build it.

Paint it.

In short, if you can copyright it, it's free speech.

Slapping copyright around

Is copyright equal to free speech? Sorta yes, well no, not really, kinda, in a roundabout way, not quite, depends on the circumstances and ppphhhbbbbtttttt.

If you can slap a copyright on it, then it's free speech. A good guideline is: The act of creation also creates a copyright. Getting a formal copyright through the Library of Congress adds some legal protections.

So can flower arrangements be copyrighted? No, according to current law. Flower arrangements cannot be copyrighted.

If the flower arrangement could be copyrighted, that means it becomes an expression (intellectual exercise). Expression is specifically protected under the Constitution and given legal standing for recourse under copyright law. Expression is also given immense protections under the Constitution. Not absolute protection, though. In this case, SCOTUS ruled that dancing is free speech, but can be restrained. 

Government has, does and will restrict how things are used.

Here's an example.


A potter casts bricks to make a wall. He can copyright his color and shape of the brick. He then makes the wall. Clearly art. Clearly protected by copyright law. He can patent (more below) his process for making the bricks. (Assume he has a unique way of doing it.). He's got legal protection from several directions.

He cannot erect a brick wall across a public highway.

He can argue that the wall across the public highway is an artistic expression of free speech. Granted. But his right to put a wall across a public highway is less than your right or my right to travel down that public highway.

If he builds his own stretch of highway across private property, he can put up the wall with no problem, provided he has permission from the property owner.


So take a look at the case of the Washington state florist who refused to make flower arrangements for a same-gender wedding.

Why is this a free speech issue? Is this free speech?

Look at the US copyright codes. Or don't, because it is incredibly tiresome. Here's a FAQ page that is easier reading. FAQ 1 is where I'm headed today. "Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. "

"Artist works."

It's my considered opinion if you can file a copyright on it, then it is absolutely free speech. The famed Zapruder film of JFK's whackin' and the resulting court case over copyright is seminal to my thinking.

Sigh. Sorry about that. 

Try this: The Zapruder film lawsuit clearly says what copyright covers.

This still leaves a lot of unanswered questions


Really. What is art anyway? Larry Shillabeer was one of my professors in the art department in college. In the art class everyone was required to take, Larry said art is "anything a person creates." Pretty broad. I also agree with him. The courts do too. 

The First Amendment Center takes a look at art and its history in the courts and legislative systems. Long read, but valuable info.

Are flowers art? Hrm. Better question - can flowers be copyrighted? No. A flower can be patented.

There's a gargantuan monkey wrench. Copyright protects the intellectual property. Patent protects the engineering that turned the intellectual property into the also protected physical property. 

Patent ≠ copyright. Patent ≠ free speech. 

Yeah. That's confusing, but I can't figure how to make it simpler.

So, back to the question:


Living flowers, no. The Copyright office does give protection under the law to "Artificial flowers and plants."

Good enough.
Aaight, how about cut flower arrangements? Is that art? Can that be copyrighted? Joan Infarinato asked the same question. It's also been addressed by the legal system.
The decision includes a lot more reasoning and comments that pretty clearly show the flower arrangements here could not be copyrighted. Very importantly, the judge states in his decision, "With respect to the arrangements in question, however, plaintiff's president testified that he did not create anything new."
That "new" is a critical part of copyright. Not the only part, though. Creativity is also integral

Gardenia Flowers, Inc. v. Joseph Markovits was decided in 1968 by a US District Court. A quick read of this decision says cut flower arrangements cannot be copyrighted. Read the whole thing and you find that decision is HIGHLY qualified. Here's an example of the court's narrow reasoning on this specific case, "Plaintiff has conceded that its claims are limited to the arrangements of the flowers in the corsages. No claim is made that the component parts thereof are covered."
Hrm. By that reasoning, even a painting can't be copyrighted. A painter merely buys components (paint, canvas, etc) and puts them together.

Still haven't answered the question.

What this comes down to is:


Go back to the First Amendment. The press (of which I am a member) is the only business listed in the Constitution and the only one given that level of protection.

Here's why this matters. I am also a freelancer, a wordmonger, a writer for hire, a linguistic prostitute as Rebel often says. (Read his stuff.) You pay, I write.

Unless I don't want to.

I can't be forced to write for you. The newspaper I run cannot be forced to publish anything.

Nothing you can do about it. The weight of centuries of legislative and case law and the First Amendment laugh in your face.

Remove this legal protection. The newspaper is then identical to the appliance repair shop across the street, the tire shop around the corner and the furniture store across the intersection. Exactly the same from a purely business perspective.

Put those legal protections back in place and this is not even a different ballgame. It's an entirely different construct from the ground up.


The question now is:

Are the legal protections given to the newspaper the same legal protections given to someone who creates other copyrightable items?

Ooo. Yes? No?

I say yes.

A oil portrait artist cannot be forced to paint someone's picture. Or can he?


But he's in business to serve the public, you say.

I disagree partly. He's in business to make a profit. He does that by serving the public.

He has a business license and pays taxes, you say.

So does the newspaper. Everything the photog studio has to have, the newspaper needs to have. There are some niggling technical point like backdrops, studio lights and etc. Newspapers have these too, but not quite the same as the photog.

So here's a difference.

I can't be forced to write an article for you. But the newspaper sells ads. Can I be forced to sell you an ad? Eyeball this - . Advertising is restricted in what MAY be published.

So again, can I be forced to publish your paid ad? Let's say you have a same gender wedding. I refuse to publish your wedding announcement (for the record, the last wedding picture I published in the paper was two ladies whom my brother married to each other in the bank park. No charge.).

Can you buy space to run the announcement?

Newspapers reject advertising all the time, even when it is perfectly legal to publish the ad.

Why is a photographer different?

As I see it, a florist is an artist. The florist creates art. Art is copyrightable and free speech. You cannot force someone to say something they do not want to say. You cannot force someone to create art against their will.

A florist is under no obligation to create a flower arrangement for anyone.

Fallout and simple solutions

Nuclear options create radiation issues that last for a long time.

Gotta lot of nuke stuff going on these days, all of which may last as long as humanity does and some may last longer.


Georgia Power argued for, and got, permission to build another nuclear power plant in the Peach State. As of right now, the plant is massively over budget and well past deadline with no end in sight. If you'd asked me about this back when Ga Power first brought the idea up, I'da told you: It will be massively over budget and it will be massively delayed. Possibly, it will never be completed.

Welcome to 2017.

Georgia Power customers are on the hook for this one. How deep that hook goes remains to be seen.

The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) oversees privately owned utility monopolies in the state. The PSC, an elected board just like the State Legislature, Governor, et al, was the board that gave Ga Power the OK to proceed.

Like nearly everything I come across, this too has simple solutions.

Take the board of directors for Westinghouse Electric. Put each one of them into a max security jail until the plant is finished. They lied. They said the plant would cost $X million. They said the plant would be finished on X date. Jail time.

Get a new board. Either the plant gets on track or they go to jail too. Eventually, the plant will be constructed. 


Kim Jong "Cute Chubby Babyface And Not Licensed To" Il has nuclear weapons. Right now they are more of a threat to his own country than anyone else.

Yes, "he." Tubby Chubby is an absolute dictator. The people making this stuff for him do so to stay alive and keep their families alive.

He also has intercontinental missiles. Yeah, they are about as effective as lawn dart right now, but he is gonna get to the point where he can land one Hawaii or Los Angeles. What then?

Solution: The US can precision drone strike to take out civilians on the other side of the planet. Oh. Yeah. We can kill civilians but it took 15 years to find Osama Bin Deaden. Hrm.

Solution: Get China to stop him. We simply stop buying anything made in China. Their economy collapses. They stop the 4th Beastie Boy and we go back to buying iPhones and cheap crap.


The US Senate under ReDamnocraptican leadership has invoked the nuclear option on debate. They did this in order to maintain plausible deniability after voting to approve President Obama's federal judge appointments. Yes huhn.

Now the ReDamnocraptican leadership is going nuclear to maintain plausible deniability after voting to approve SCOTUS appointments.

Plausible deniability = "Hey. They changed the rules so we could not stop the appointment from going through." Except the word "they" is a lie. The correct word is "we."

Solution: Quit voting for incumbents. We have term limits. S'called elections. Do not hand me the bullshit that "money buys elections." No, you vote for incumbents, despite having a plethora of other candidates to choose from. That ain't money. That's a lazy ass not taking enough initiative to vote for someone other than an incumbent. Don't hand me more bullshit like "I don't know anything about the other candidates." I'll just say, "We have heart-lung machines that can pump your blood and breathe for you. We can feed you intravenously. So all you have to do is lie there comatose, which is pretty much what you are telling me is your life ambition."


All this amuses me.

Those decrying any particular nuke option say the rights of the minority must be protected.

Yes. As long as the ones doing the bitching are the minority. When another minority group starts bitching, they are just a bunch of whiners and need to be slapped.

By "rights" they all mean "the way we want it and to hell with what you want."

Those calling for the nuclear options generally a quite shortsighted. They only look as far as the results they want. They don't care about fallout. They don't care about repercussions. 

Anything past the immediate results they must have does not exist, cannot exist and will not exist.

The hell of it is, they are right. Push that nuke button enough and none of us will be around to see what comes next.

And that is the simple solution.

The hard solution is: Get up. Think. Accept the consequences for your choices.

Never happen.

Everything I state above is nothing but your decision and the consequences. You get exactly what you ask for and then have the unabashed gall to whine. You will not try to change things. You rinse and repeat and expect a different outcome.

Insane much?

Got a simple solution to that one too. Comes in your choice of single-shot or repeater (except a repeater is not necessary unless you are so seriously incompetent you screw this up too ... Yeah. Get the repeater) and in calibers ranging from 17 to 72.