09/17/14

Finding an old friend

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Last Friday a friend of ours had a few folks over for dinner as they showed us their new house.  Upon entering my attention was drawn to a row of bookshelves handsomely filled with a life time’s collection of ‘favorites’.  He explained how painful it was deciding which books to keep and which to donate as the new house was considerably smaller and there simply wasn’t room for everything.

I wasn’t the only one taking a cursory observation of the books.  My friend Don was quietly remarking, “I’ve read these, and these…and most of these as well”.   He paused momentarily as one book caught his attention; reaching to touch it and then carefully extract it from the others as he opened the cover and smiled.

“I see you’ve found an old friend”, I remarked as he temporarily found another dimension in time and space, closing his eyes to savor the moment.

“You have no idea”, he responded in hushed tones as he placed the book carefully, almost lovingly, to the space it had occupied, “I helped this fellow write at one time”.  He truly had found an ‘old friend’ among the printed works.

I was visiting with my folks over the weekend and found myself perusing their book shelves.  In their ‘Florida Room’ there’s a set of Compton’s Encyclopedias printed in 1936.   These books were considered ‘ancient’, but useful all the same, when used to help with school assignments.  They trapped history in place, a time period captured in black and white which recorded the events of our world up to that moment and no further.

Unlike the Internet, Google or other search engines which we take for granted in our day, encyclopedias in their printed form freeze time so that it can be examined without editing by future generations.

When I was a young boy I was fascinated with airplanes and often found myself day dreaming as the pictures presented in the encyclopedia whisked me off into the wild blue yonder.   We lived a short distance from the Grumman facilities and thrilled to hear them testing jet engines, the future of flying machines close enough to make the hair on our backs stand on end.

But there were no jet planes as yet, at least no passenger jets taking off on the half hour every day.  The airplanes of that time were small propeller driven aircraft considered by many to be a novelty more than a means of transportation for the masses.  The only jets at the time were being developed as fighter jets for the Korean War.   I remember looking up to see a formation of Flying Boxcars, marveling as they slowly marched across the sky to complete some military purpose.

I snapped a couple of digital pictures with my cell phone while enjoying these old books, uploaded them to my Dropbox account; the Cloud which magically stores all the zeros and ones perfectly somewhere in the heavens until you want to use them later.  Once resized with a photo editing program these images were inserted into this article so that anyone with a computer connection can view them; all this we take for granted.

With a little imagination you might see a young boy staring into the pages of that old encyclopedia, the image of an airplane before him as he prepares his mind for all that is to come.  That’s what it’s like to find an old friend among all the other books on the shelves, a chance to savor the past while at the same time considering the blessings given over the years.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

09/4/14

Is This America’s Future?

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

The caption attached to this image was, “A picture IS worth a thousand words”.   What exactly are we to glean from the information presented by this exemplary citizen?  Without being too uncomplimentary, we’re to assume this is a woman and that she doesn’t believe in paying for abortions; the tattoos must have been obtained at the local welfare office while waiting for other free stuff.

“Free Abortions On Demand Without Apology”, a slogan we can all get behind.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) must have a place for this lost soul.  For all I know she’s on their board of directors.  If there was any doubt about what the feminist movement was all about, “the time has come to confront, with concrete action, the conditions that now prevent women from enjoying the equality of opportunity and freedom of choice which is their right, as individual Americans, and as human beings.”

Getting back to the poster’s demands for free abortions…do these folks actually believe that medical procedures are free?

The doctors who attended college and medical school invested their time, money and efforts so they could perform public service abortions on demand for free; yea, that’s it.  These same doctors applied for permission to use expensive clinics to have safe places for women demanding abortions along with disposable products associated with medical procedures; oh, and let’s not forget the anesthesiologists and nurses who also have volunteered their time, money and efforts to become competent in their respective duties in order that these women can demand abortions at no cost to themselves.

Who gets to pay for all these entitlements?   Clearly there is a mental disorder involved at some level of implementation because there’s no such thing as a free ride.

I hate to break it to you; but the Tooth Fairy looked a lot like my dad, at least in my house.   Santa’s voice was remarkably similar as well.  In time even a four year old is able to figure out that money doesn’t grow on trees.  The allowance paid them by loving parents; a handful of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters is recompense for chores performed around the house.

Let’s wear clothing that makes it look like we’re bleeding and block traffic so that everyone gets to see what a bunch of mad cows we really are; yea, that should turn public sentiment.

It’s just a guess; but all the Entitlement Programs, Food Stamps, Section 8 Housing, Obamacare subsidies for low income individuals….all that Free Stuff only appears to be free to those on the receiving end;…  somebody is paying for your Free Ride.  I wonder who it is that IS paying for all that free stuff?

I think these folks may have been standing in the sun too long and need medical attention, as long as it’s free medical attention.

Free abortions on demand; your arrogance is equaled only by your lack of gratitude to those who provide.  You’re demanding others work at their various jobs and professions only to have the government confiscate a large portion of their income to provide the entitlements.   I can see how this is all so confusing to low information individuals so I’ll say it one more time.

There’s no such thing as a free ride.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

08/26/14

Do Property Rights Exist in Our Day?

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

A curious question, “Do property rights exist in our day”?  The reason I asked had to do with recent observations on the social medium Facebook.  Most of the articles that I commented on recently had to do with property rights in one way or another; but the issues associated with each comment came across as if the property rights mentioned by the Founders were considerably different than those in our day.

There must be some kind of common footing, an agreement on the use of language upon which to start this off; what better foundation than one supplied by Ezra Taft Benson in his talk, The Proper Role of Government.

“It is generally agreed that the most important single function of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens.”

But what is government?

“The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess. So, the question boils down to this. What powers properly belong to each and every person in the absence of and prior to the establishment of any organized governmental form?”

And what powers/rights belong to each individual?  Elder Taft included a simple explanation as written by Bastiat:

“Each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but and extension of our faculties?” (The Law, p.6)

Our Founders understood these basic principles and placed them in front of the world in our Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creatorwith certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Some reading this are already mumbling, “Yea, yea, yea…so what’s point?”

There’s a fellow up in Oregon, Gary Harrington, who went to jail because he was collecting rain water on his own property.

“For years, Gary Harrington has battled with the Oregon Water Resources Department over reservoirs on his land that collected rainwater. The water officials claim that Harrington is violating a 1925 law by diverting water from the Big Butte River.”

The presumption made by the Oregon Water Resources Department must be that rain water belongs to the State and would have been redistributed among the masses if not for Harrington’s collection methods which restricted the rain from running off his property.   It must also presume that the State created that rain, omitting the existence of God or, for those without faith, omitting natural forces beyond the control of the State.

Time to back up and explain to the Oregon Water Resources Department something they have neglected or ignored, “The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.”

Do I have, within my God given or natural rights as an individual, do I have the ‘right’ to tell anyone else how to conduct their use of natural resources which occur on that individual’s private property?   Clearly the answer is, No.   Then can I give to a government agency power to do that which I do not possess to begin with?  Again, No.  Lastly, can a group of my neighbors gather together and deny anyone the use of their inalienable God given or natural rights?  You see where this is going?

Our Founders made sure to put down in writing that individuals have inalienable rights to protect them from the collective.  In modern terms, all of you progressive communist leaning pricks don’t have and never had the power to impose social justice mandates on any individual regardless of how many conspire to erase that individual’s inalienable rights.

I won’t bring up Federal mandates on how much water a toilet can use to flush away a pile of progressives at the bottom of the bowl or what kind of light bulb can be used to illuminate the shadows wherein communists hide and carry out their works of darkness.   (Oops; too late, I just inserted that idea)

What about the couple in Texas who were asked to take care of their neighbor’s vacant house, the couple who responded to an audible burglary alarm, caught a felon in the commission of his crime while inside the vacant residence, a felon who then assaulted the caretakers of the vacant property?   Did these folks violate the law when they shot the burglar; did they go too far?

I ask only because there are many who believe it was none of their business, that they had no ‘right’ to confront anyone who wasn’t on ‘their’ property.  They also brought up an interesting twist, that while they might have been given stewardship to watch over their neighbor’s property, they shouldn’t have placed themselves in confrontation with a burglary suspect (that’s for the police), a confrontation which eventually led to shooting and killing that burglary suspect.

While unspoken, these good neighbors were compared to vigilantes;… judge, jury and executioners all wrapped up in a concealed handgun permit.

“As a general rule, the law tends to view human life as being more valuable than material things.  The law also tends to take a dim view of people who escalate a non-life threatening situation into a deadly force encounter.”

{…}

“The couple could be charged with man slaughter or even murder for the killing of the burglar.”

It’s time to hit the “stop right there” buzzer.  I’m not going to let that journalistic BS pass without hanging a red flag on it, and by the way, that’s a pure communist red flag which marginalizes inalienable God given property rights as if they were not inalienable,… even to the point of taking the life of a thief.

Getting back to Ezra Taft Benson’s explanation of The Proper Role of Government…

“Since God created man with certain unalienable rights, and man, in turn, created government to help secure and safeguard those rights, it follows that man is superior to the creature which he created. Man is superior to government and should remain master over it, not the other way around. Even the non-believer can appreciate the logic of this relationship.”

The protection of property, whether it is your own or your neighbor’s includes the individual’s right to use any and all means available, and yes, that includes the use of deadly force.   The problem with communists/socialists, call them what you will, these folks don’t believe our founding ideas regarding inalienable God given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Progressives would rather impose their idea that the State is the source of ‘rights’, all the while renaming any and all rights as entitlements or permitted activities under control of the State.   In this way individuals no longer need be concerned with defending life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness; these don’t really exist in our day and have been consigned to the scrap heap of antiquated language no longer valid or even understood.   Common Core students would be hard pressed to recognize these archaic thoughts.

Using deadly force for any reason bothers some folks.  We’ve been told to run and hide, retreat to avoid confrontation and avoid stopping criminals at all cost; that’s a job for the police.  These generalities on human interaction have been imposed because nobody wants to be responsible for their own actions;… but to take a life simply because a thief or burglar wants to take something that doesn’t belong to him/her…   Oh the humanity!   (sarcasm button in use)

So who decides what belongs under the umbrella of protecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property rights)?  In our day it has fallen on the court of mass media, trial by television coverage.   The public’s perception of nearly any event can be shaped to fit the desired outcome of those running the media; and the large media outlets all just happen to be run by progressives (communists).

So, back to my original question, “Do property rights exist in our day”?  Yes; but you’ll still have to prove it in court and the odds are now stacked against you.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

08/25/14

The Climate Change Broken Record

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

The younger generation may need to be brought up to speed on the term Broken Record; all they’ve ever known comes via digital.  In the old days of vinyl recordings music was stored on tiny grooves of plastic and a stylus rode these grooves to pick up the music and transfer it to the stereo so we could hear it.  If there was a scratch on the face of the recording the stylus would jump over the scratch and end up playing the same groove over and over until somebody pushed it past the scratch.  That’s how we got the term Broken Record.

There’s a headline story at the Yahoo site by Becky Oskin, Hundreds of Methane Plumes Erupting Along East Coast, that caught my attention while eating my morning bowl of oatmeal (Kroger brand instant Maple with Brown Sugar with a pat of real butter if you’re interested).

Scientists were blind sided by the discovery of methane plumes along the Atlantic coast even though they had not tested the gas; but were quite certain it was methane.  I was waiting for the old standby, “It must have something to do with Global Warming”.

“Without more exploring, the researchers can’t say for sure why there are so many methane plumes along the Atlantic coastline.”

You’d have thought at least one scientist would have gathered a sample, put a match to it and said, “Hummm, smells like methane, tastes like methane; sure glad I didn’t step in it”, or something that would have justified calling the gas methane.  Perhaps another scientist could ask if the other scientist had farted under water, pointing and laughing.  Hey, I know…let’s blame this all on Whale flatulence; there are still some pretty fat Global Warming research grants to be had from the government.

A bit further into the article the Broken Record skip began.  You know, the part where mankind is guilty of destroying the planet; drilling for oil, driving big SUVs to the restaurant for a juicy steak with mashed potatoes, wanting to live in air conditioned houses instead of toughing it out in caves like our noble ancestors; these methane plumes must be our fault.

“Methane is a greenhouse gas that disappears more quickly than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but has more warming power than carbon dioxide. Millions of tons of methane are frozen in Arctic permafrost, both on land and in the seafloor. Recently, several studies have warned that rapid warming in the Arctic could upset these deposits, melting them and freeing the gas. This would boost the planet’s greenhouse gas levels and could accelerate climate change.”

I’ll have to find a picture of Al Gore pointing to flames hovering over Arctic Ice, a Polar Bear floating off on the ever shrinking chunk of ice or maybe that old Indian Chief letting a single tear drop fall off his cheek as man destroys the planet.  I know, we can blame this all on fracking and Big Oil or filthy Coal.

“Most of the methane gas dissolves in the ocean before reaching the surface, Ruppel said. The total amount of gas is also much smaller than sources on land, such as cows or gas drilling. “It’s probably on the order of a feedlot of methane,” Valentine said. However, some shallow-water seeps could vent methane to the surface, and researchers expect that future surveys will uncover even more shallow seeps. These regions only received a cursory look during the survey.”

I love the scientific measurements used to assess the threat, “It’s probably on the order of a feedlot of methane,”…  Is that a Kansas feedlot of methane or a Texas feedlot of methane; be specific as the United Nation’s IPCC report will need exact scientific measurements prior to creating a new Hockey Stick that proves mankind is destroying the planet.

Never mind studies which have proven that there’s more Arctic Ice than ever before, never mind the fact that an active volcano spews out more greenhouse gas in one day than the accumulated greenhouse gasses contributed by the human race.  Man made global warming studies get federal tax dollars to scientists, lots and lots of tax dollars to scientists  who’ve signed on to the generally accepted consensus, which just happens to match the policies for handing out federal grants.

Facts?… the facts they’ll find later; nobody pays attention to facts, at least not anyone pushing the climate change agenda.

Haven’t we heard this all before?  It must be a broken record.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

08/18/14

Yelling Fire in a Theater

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

The more we hear about what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, the more it would appear that this was a Crisis that could be used by the Obama administration to further divide our nation.   ‘Low information voters’ turned Ferguson into a war zone, rioting, looting and burning down storefronts; all the while demanding ‘justice’ for what they considered a police department sanctioned murder of an innocent Black youth.  Far too many days went by before the public was informed that there was a high probability that the slain Black person was connected to a robbery that had been recorded on video.

“In a shocking revelation today, it was revealed that the Department of Justice had the videotape footage of Michael Brown robbing a liquor store in Ferguson, but actually told the police department NOT to release it to the public.”

{…}

“The Obama administration wanted to put a lid on that transparency, and ironically, this only suits a political agenda of further stoking racial tension…”

How many of those who joined the angry crowds, crowds with vengeance in their hearts as they were told nothing other than words that would incite riots, how many of these otherwise law abiding citizens would have listened with a reasoned attitude had they been better informed?  We will never know because the fires were stoked, apparently on purpose, from as far away as the Oval Office.  Never let a Crisis go to waste.

I couldn’t help wondering about these current news stories while attending Sunday School this morning; the lesson, Happy Is The Man That Findeth Wisdom, was tied in with Proverbs attributed to Solomon the son of David, king of Israel.  Throughout the readings we were reminded to be wise rather than foolish and all I could think of was how much foolishness was being displayed in Ferguson.

I wonder why folks like the Al Sharpton wouldn’t use their extensive knowledge of the scriptures to enlighten rather then deceive; but the answer is fairly obvious, race baiters make a living out of inciting riots.

Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how words are used for good or for evil; and in the case of Ferguson’s racially motivated anger, how this Crisis was used to further erode race relations in that community as well as the rest of the nation.

The Sunday School lesson extended the idea offered in Proverbs 15:1 as it included a comment made by Elder Gordon B. Hinkley on the subject:

“We seldom get into trouble when we speak softly. It is only when we raise our voices that the sparks fly and tiny molehills become great mountains of contention”  (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 82; or Ensign, June 1971, 72).

Compare that thought process with some folks in the news media publishing maps that indicated the home in Ferguson where the police officer involved in the shooting lives.   The logical question was asked:

“Is the media trying to get Ferguson police office Darren Wilson lynched?”

Isn’t the answer to that question fairly easy to figure out?  If you still need help figuring it out then listen to the sound bites of an angry mob being led by the New Black Panthers to repeat their desires to kill the police officer.

Getting back to the lessons, words of wisdom Solomon left for us:

Proverbs 15:18

A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Proverbs 16:29

A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good.

There isn’t much doubt as to what Obama’s lapdog media would like to see happen.  They want this to erupt into a full fledged race war; blood, bodies and all the horrors of society in total chaos; the perfect storm to keep viewers glued to the boob-tube hour after hour while their ratings numbers increase.

Obama and his administration intend to use racial upheaval to justify massive federal intervention.  Their handling of the Travon Martin Crisis didn’t quite succeed as the public was able to gain far too many facts before the fires burned completely out of control; but each mini-Crisis when ‘spun’ in just the right way…they become stepping stones toward total societal breakdown with a need for totalitarian response.

Wouldn’t it be so much better to hear a responsible individual stand up in front of this angry crowd and instruct them in the proper way to conduct themselves?   But that would involve crossing the line between church and state, even though there is no such restriction in our constitution; we can’t be quoting from the Bible in public.  Oh the horrors of inflicting righteous rebuke that might hurt someone’s feelings; no better to burn down the rest of Ferguson, lynch a police officer and bring about America’s total transformation.

A wise leader would encourage folks to go to their homes and ride this out; but instead the ones holding sway just keep shouting, “Fire”, and watch everyone panic.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

08/15/14

A Suspect Matching the Description

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Unless you’ve been living in a closet this past week or landed from a distant planet then you’d be ignorant to news stories of racial tensions and rioting over an unarmed young Black person, Mike Brown, being shot and killed by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.  Major news networks were quick to pour gasoline on the event, something they are very good at, spreading racial tension to the breaking point across the nation; protests, vandalism and looting broke out as angry mobs of Blacks did their best to prove that the Rule of Law only applies to other segments of our society.

This morning we learned that there apparently (*apparently used instead of allegedly) is more to the story, much more than had previously been released.

Turns out Mike Brown, the young unarmed Black youth who died at the hands of a White Supremacist cop just looking for someone to kill, was apparently (*) a prime suspect in a ‘strong arm robbery’.  Mike Brown was listed by name in the original report along with a physical description which matched what he was wearing when a confrontation with police happened within half a mile of the robbery.

It is not my purpose to continue the practice of ‘Trial by Media’, something the main stream media lives for.  Letting the courts determine the outcome is so, what’s the term…old school.  So much of the original energy that causes folks to break things, set fires and generally act with mob mentality is lost by the time facts are brought into the discussion.  It’s much easier to work the leftist agenda of transforming America when there’s a ‘Crisis’, isn’t that part of the rules for radicals?

No, today I wanted to share something which happened back in the mid 70s when I was a young police officer working in Houston.  My partner and I were assigned to work the 3rd Ward, a mostly Black community just outside of downtown.  A robbery occurred and the original unit responded and arrived in remarkable time, putting out a description over the radio of a young Black male suspect wearing a green football type jersey.  The suspect had not used a weapon but had roughed up the owner of a small convenience store owned by a Korean family while taking all the cash in the register and putting it in a brown paper sack.  The suspect fled on foot in a northerly direction.

Well slap my knee; we just happened to observe a young Black male wearing a green football jersey running down the street in that general area and he had a brown paper sack clutched in his hand.  We approached with caution and placed him under arrest, cuffing him and placing him in the back of the patrol car.  The sack contained some crumpled up bills, probably the fruits of the crime, as we headed back to the store to get a positive identification on our suspect.

Here’s where it got a bit odd; the Korean store owner wouldn’t identify the suspect in our patrol car as being the one who had just robbed him.  All of the sudden the green football jersey wasn’t the same and the suspect didn’t have the same dark colored skin.  In short, the Korean store owner didn’t have the courage to finish what had been started and wanted to avoid retaliation.

My partner and I wrote down the suspects name for our report and let him go, handing him the brown paper sack full of money we’d taken away from him.  The Korean store manager asked for the sack of money; but since this wasn’t the fellow who’d robbed him we had no reason to deprive the ‘rightful owner’ of his property.  Creative or sloppy police work; your call…

What has this to do with the mess up in Ferguson?   I’ll leave that to someone who is much smarter; but it has something to do with a double standard in race relations that has been foisted on our society for as long as I can remember.

Instead of holding individuals accountable for their actions we have permitted a goodly portion of one race to hide behind the color of their skin, their Black hyphenated America.  We could place the blame on their parents, school teachers, ministers or a host of others to include government with all the entitlement programs intended to bring about Social Justice; but in the end the blame has to be laid at the feet of the individual.

If we operate under the delusion there are no consequences for our actions interesting things happen.

Take for instance being stopped by a police officer for a minor traffic violation; if you have the mindset that nothing you do will affect the outcome of this fairly common social interaction you’d be sorely mistaken.  My partner and I used to get a kick out of  pulling over the proverbial ‘pretty young thing’ who drove under the impression her looks made her exempt from traffic laws like stopping at red lights and stop signs.

Upon walking up to the car she’d offer a smile as if it were the same as a driver’s license.  When we’d start writing the ticket she’d remind us, “You can’t write me a ticket”, which sometimes was followed by our pen and ticket book being flung at us.  When asked to step out of the vehicle we anticipated, “You can’t arrest me”, which generally led to, “You can’t put handcuffs on me”…and you wouldn’t believe the language we heard from the back seat on our way downtown.

Now, if you would, insert the Race Card and see how much more complicated that situation gets.  I’m so grateful to have retired and no longer subjected to that kind of crap.

But that doesn’t help race relations which have steadily eroded in certain sectors of our society.  The solution is really very simple, not easy, just simple.  Teach your children to respect others, to be good citizens and follow the law.  Avoid the appearance of doing wrong, dress properly and with dignity in order to present the best view of yourself when in public.

There would be a negative way of saying the same thing.   Don’t go around with your pants hanging down below your butt and stop hanging around gang-bangers or you’ll end up in prison or in an early grave.  Don’t back talk your parents or anyone older than you and for heaven’s sake, when a police officer addresses you have the good sense to be on your best behavior so don’t act a fool or do anything to provoke a confrontation.

I’ve ramble on a bit and those needing to hear this, well, it won’t do any good.   The ‘suspects matching the description’ offered here are too far gone; but I’ve been mistaken before, let’s hope I am this time.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

08/5/14

Fitting Keys for Repo Cars

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Last week one of my regular ‘note lot’ dealerships called needing keys for several vehicles.  Prior to working on a GMC Yukon the inventory manager approached and asked, “You were a cop, right?”

“Yes; but I retired over 20 years ago; why, is there something I should know?”  That’s an interesting way to start a conversation so he had my undivided attention.

“This Yukon came in as a repo and while going through the personal items I found this iPad; but look what’s on it.”  I waited while he went through its start up menu and here’s what came up:

Activate iPad

This iPad is currently linked to an Apple ID (b*****@r*****.com).  Sign in

With the Apple ID that was used to set up this iPad.

Message from Owner:

This iPad has been connected to a homicide investigation with HPD please

Call 832- 931-**** for Det. Torres ( 832- 931- ****)

Apple ID       example@icloud.com

Password       Required

When I retired from the Department there were no iPads or any of the information devices we take for granted today.  I found it more than a little interesting that a prompter screen like this could be generated; but not beyond the technical abilities of a company like Apple as they might wish to work in concert with a local police homicide investigation.

I decided to take a picture of the message screen as a means of documenting his desire to be in compliance with whatever investigation was in progress.

My job wasn’t to investigate a homicide; my purpose for being there was to generate a key so I left it to him to find out what was going on while my attention turned to making a key.  It turns out this particular vehicle had my mark in the glove box so that part would be easy.

A few minutes later, after calling the phone number supplied, it turns out there was no homicide investigation and no Det. Torres.

The message screen was a fabrication placed on the iPad, apparently with the assistance of Apple Customer Service, to scare the begebbers out of anyone trying to log onto the device; more particularly, the former boy friend who in all probability had ‘stolen’ (walked away with) personal items, to include the 1999 GMC Yukon.   The phone number wasn’t to the police department’s homicide division; but was the owner’s cell phone (redacted for obvious reasons).  A large box in the back of the vehicle had many of the items described over the phone.

Just another day cutting keys…

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

07/17/14

Must have been used in religious ceremonies…

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Archeologists have a catch phrase that covers parts of the unknown history of any site they find.  It pops up when no logical answers to a particular item present themselves, “Probably used in some religious ceremony”, or words to that effect.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Stonehenge, Cliff Dwellings or the giant heads looking out to sea on Easter Island, “Must have some unknown religious significance”.

I’ve no problem with this approach to human history; heck, they’re probably right most of the time.  With no surviving members from ancient societies to shed light on what is found, it can only be assumed what their actual purposes were or make educated guesses as to any actual purpose for some of these finds based on how modern decedents use these items and places.

Take for example the kiva, generally assumed to be a special room used by the ancient Pueblo inhabitants in the Americas for religious ceremonies…

“When designating an ancient room as a kiva, archaeologists make assumptions about the room’s original functions and how those functions may be similar to or differ from kivas used in modern practice. The kachina belief system appears to have emerged in the Southwest at approximately AD 1250, while kiva-like structures occurred much earlier. This suggests that the room’s older functions may have been changed or adapted to suit the new religious practice.”

If I had a nickel for every time historians used descriptive words like assume, probably, may have been, likely were and so on…my bank account might be in better shape.  The fact is, we really don’t know for sure; but we’re too proud to admit it.

I could dig a small rectangular hole in my back yard complete with a large round stone to cover my new found wealth, place all my nickels in a fancy sack and hide it therein.  Do you see where this is going?

Years from now when archeologists happen upon this interesting spot under a huge Oak that’s out lived anyone from this era they will carefully examine the contents of the find, carbon date the residue found in the filter of a cigarette butt my son flipped in the hole and match it to a core sample from the Oak tree.  One of them will curiously examine the trinkets found along with fragments of cloth that at one time held them.  Measurements will be taken and compared with similar finds, “No doubt this was used for religious purposes, likely sacrificial offerings to their gods.”

Moving right along…

Scientists have found a giant hole in the surface of the earth over in Siberia, Russia.  It caught them off guard as the image was generated via satellite.

“The leading theory is that the crater is actually a natural phenomenon known as a ‘pingo.’ A pingo, or hydrolaccolith, occurs when ice pushes up from underneath the ground. In this case, climate change may have caused the ice to melt, resulting in a crater where the earth-covered frost once stood.” (emphasis added)

Based on the theory’s claim that climate change may have caused the ice to melt, which left the huge hole in the ground, the article mentions that scientists will be sent to the region to find facts to support such theories.  As with most assumptions supplied by the Church of Global Warming, there are yet to be facts to support such findings.

Next week I’m sure there will be a History Channel special supporting the idea that Aliens from across the universe used this great Kiva, possible humanoid life forms, seeded this planet long ago and served as the missing link to homo sapiens populating this spinning planet.  I’m picturing that geeky looking fellow who never figured out what a comb was intended to be used for, perhaps thinking it was a sacred religious item never to be touched by anyone other than the gods.

The great Kiva of Global Warming has presented itself for the High Priests of Junk Science to study and ascertain its purpose.  These are the same folks who brought you the United Nations IPCC report which is riddled with fabrications and computer generated assumptions based on improperly recorded data by folks being paid to come up with a viable presentation intended to redistribute wealth on a planetary scale.

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

07/15/14

Just walk away

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Yesterday a fellow called asking if I was able to make and program a key for a Ford Freestyle van. I told him yes and asked where it was located. He paused and you could hear him going through file folders and talking to himself. He then read me the location which was on the other side of town; but still within my service area. He wanted to meet there at 4:00, just as rush hour traffic would be part of the mix. Reluctantly I agreed as I added twenty dollars to my fee; aggravation charge.

While enroute to the job the fellow called and said he was there waiting; it was 3:15. He mentioned that it would be okay for me to come early because the place where the vehicle was located needed to close by 4:30. Rush hour starts around 3:00 here in Houston so my travel time would still put me on spot around 4:00; as scheduled originally and it wouldn’t matter that I could “come early”.

Turns out he’d transposed the numbers so the address given wasn’t correct. His cell phone number went into voice mail when he didn’t answer; my fuse was already burning short.

Knowing the area I figured out where he probably meant, at least narrowed it down to a couple of different storage lots. The first one had all the numbers he’d given; but the last two numbers were transposed. The folks in the office had not heard of him or the vehicle I was supposed to work on. Calling the cell phone number again…still went into voice mail.

The other location was a storage lot two blocks closer to town so I asked the office manager the appropriate questions; sorry, not here either. She did ask me to leave a short stack of business cards and asked if she’d mind her handing them out. A line from a children’s story came to mind, “Oh, please, don’t throw me in the briar patch”…

My phone rang; it was my new favorite customer wondering why I hadn’t arrived. He told me the correct address, which just happened to be the original location I’d gone to; but he had been in the back of the lot and hadn’t bothered to tell anyone he was there.

He met me at the front gate and explained how we had to hurry because we only had twenty minutes to make the keys before they locked the gate. I figured I could get the job done; a few minutes to figure out the key cuts and ten minutes to program it would leave a few minutes to spare.

“Okay, so where’s the Ford Freestyle?”, it not being in plain view. He asked if he could get into my truck and he’d show me where it was. We drove to the back and he pointed to a car transport carrier (similar to the image provided). There were several vehicles on the transport; the Freestyle was on the top level. These were all stolen and recovered vehicles to be returned to their rightful owners.

I should give some background information at this time. A week ago I got a call from an out of state car transport company asking if I could make keys to a Ford Freestyle van, asking prices and availability. He said he’d have his local representative call me later in the day; but that never happened. Last Friday he called asking if the local representative had contacted me and I explained that he had not.

You guessed it; this was the local representative; except that when he’d called earlier in the day he had misrepresented himself, never mentioned the vehicle was on a transport or that he’d had the opportunity to have this work done for well over a week and had decided to wait until rush hour to do the work. Let’s not forget the lot closes in twenty minutes.

I turned to the fellow and said, “Get out of my truck”, followed by, “Close the door”. I then drove off, leaving him to walk back. If he started walking to the front right away, to where his rig was parked, he’d make it before being locked in when they closed up for the evening. There’s another line that could have been added, “…and that goes for the horse you rode in on”.

Some times it’s better to walk away from a job.

07/1/14

Are Police Public Relations in the Toilet?

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

This past Sunday a friend of mine at church asked me how I felt about police public relations. He’s an active duty police officer and knew that I’d retired from the Department many years ago after he’d read some of my blog articles. He challenged me to consider how to improve police public relations.

Here’ a chance to improve the public’s perceived image of police officers as our society evolves from days gone by, Norman Rockwell’s vision of a young boy in awe of the town hero, to a more threatening consideration, SWAT teams kicking down a door at the wrong address or police officers shooting the family dog that’s inside a fenced yard.

A feeling exists among many citizens that there’s an ‘Us versus Them’ mentality that pits police officers against their neighbors; to a certain extent that might be true. Does it have to be this way?

There was a political cartoon by Tom Blanton of the Project for the New American Revolution (pnar.org), which caught my attention. He created a cover of an old children’s magazine, Highlife; except instead of a non-threatening milk toast subject like the magazine normally included within their pages he picked up on the trend, real or not, that police officers are the enemy rather than your neighbor who happens to wear a uniform. I remember reading Highlife magazines while waiting to see the dentist or doctor; something to kill time before being tortured, nice magazine. I wonder; does Highlife approve of Blanton’s sense of sarcasm or does it even matter?

Some police officers have the natural ability to come off as pricks, sorry, that’s just about the only way to call it. There’s actually a term associated with such cops, ‘badge happy’. Come to think of it there are several terms to cover obnoxious cops who’ve forgotten they are only there to protect and serve; but some of these monikers are inappropriate in mixed company.

Most of us can relate to cops who set up radar traps where speed limits are ridiculously low or arbitrarily placed. Are the tickets written protecting the public from dangerous drivers or simply filling the officer’s ‘quota’ for the day? Take that a step further, does the officer’s driving habits match with the expectations he/she has of the public’s driving habits? Probably not; so why issue tickets for violations which only tend to annoy the public?

Somewhere along the line police officers need to turn the public’s opinion back in the direction which puts them in a positive light.

Arrogance of office, being a power hungry prick, call it what you will; but when a police officer takes command of the conversation as if his/her opinion is the only opinion…well, let’s just say the public is ‘up to here’ with that attitude.

Police officers are paid to protect and serve, not dominate and demean.

Police officers are human beings, not robotic camera ticket systems hired to increase the revenue arm of government. That might actually be enlightening to some police departments as they struggle to make ends meet.

When I was a street cop, and I’m not making this up, our un-written quota was 2 per shift; two moving violations on the work card kept supervisors off your back.

I had a supervisor pull me aside one time and explain the reason I wasn’t getting a new patrol vehicle assigned to me was because I wasn’t being as ‘productive’ as officers who had less seniority. If only I’d had a tape recording of that conversation…; it’s against the law to enforce a traffic ticket quota; at least it is here in Texas.

As far as SWAT teams kicking in doors, officers shooting the family dog or accidentally blowing up a child when a flash grenade goes off too close to the crib…what can I say? There is a trend, for lack of a better term, especially among larger police departments to become more militarized.

The choice of uniform color, choice of foot wear and a host of other seemingly minor appearance related decisions puts a subliminal message out there for the public.

Here in Houston we used to have light blue uniform shirts that matched the paint on our patrol vehicles. There is a change in the wind, a move toward black uniform shirts and black and white patrol vehicles. A study was done that determined this change; police officers appear more powerful in black uniform shirts. The light blue shirts didn’t command the proper authority from the public. (not making this up either)

If you want to improve police public relations then go back to a less threatening uniform, remind officers that they are part of the community they serve and protect rather than the idea that police officers rule over their subjects; it’s that simple.

Some folks are concerned that police departments will eventually be instructed to begin disarming the public, confiscating firearms from individuals as each ‘crisis’ dictates further restrictions on individual rights to own and bear arms.

What will your local police officers do when such a directive comes down the pike?

Hopefully, and I say this with a knowledge that Most police officers really do understand the Bill of Rights and how it applies to Everyone; hopefully our police officers will recognize the need to stand up for what is right and refuse to follow such a directive. While their Departments may cow tow to the State or Federal government, individual police officers have to live with themselves and what they do for a living.

We live in strange days, the kind that makes freedom loving individuals long for the past. Watching the hand writing on the wall lends credence to the public’s fear of police in general.

Painting police officers as ‘the enemy’ is just as bad as badge happy cops running rough shod over a public that deserves better; neither path leads to improved relations.

This article has been cross-posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government & The American Constitution.”