Saturday, December 06, 2003

I've been so busy at work the last few days that I haven't taken the time to even think about what to write here. But, it's all been simmering in the back of my mind, so I'll have some thoughts over the next few days.

UN in Charge of the Internet?

That's right. Apparently there are plans underfoot for the UN to take control of the Internet. I read this on Nealz Nuze over on the website. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear Neal Boortz on the radio, do yourself a favor and visit the Church of the Painful Truth. Neal's a Libertarian with a radio show out of Atlanta that I get here in Tampa Bay. I don't always agree with Neal, but he has made me start to think about things.
Okay, back on point. The UN wants to have care and custody of the Internet. Right now, URLs are assigned and controlled by US companies. Most of the computers serving the Internet are located in the US.

Think about this: UN control of the Internet would allow the UN to tax the use of the Internet to fund UN projects. Content could (and in my opinion probably would) be censored. Anything that has the global reach of the Internet just has to be controlled by the UN. Yeah, sure - sounds like a great idea to me. One argument that is sure to arise is that the US wants to keep third world countries down by not allowing them Internet access. Excuse me? The more people who have access, the more money entrepreneurs can make - whether the small Internet based Mom and Pop store or Walmart.

Isn't that what America is all about? Taking what is available to us, making it available to the world and, possibly making a living doing it. Sounds like someone else wants that money. In the eyes of the people behind this idea the UN should take it from the people who did the work (the US), made it something, and give it to someone else (the UN) to reap the benefits and who will then run it into the ground. And that's not to mention the power behind the Internet. He who controls the Internet controls the world. Who would you rather see control the Internet: the free world allowing international free speech and access or the UN who would tax and censor it? You know that's what would happen. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Here's the link to Nealz Nuze:

You'll see more links in the future to Neal. If the above link doesn't work, please, take the time to type it in and look around his site or go to

Eminent Domain

Another subject that Neal has brought out in the open is that of Eminent Domain. This is the rule of law that allows government to take your property for the use of government.

Eminent Domain used to be used for roads and utilities. But more recently, local governments have used it to take property from a citizen and sell it to a developer so that a mall or higher price housing development can be built. This is usually done because the first owners aren't paying much in property taxes and the city or county finds that the shopping center or housing development will bring in much more in tax revenue.

Neal Boortz reported a couple of months ago that a group of people in Anniston Alabama were faced with Eminent Domain. They were made an offer by the county, they refused, and were served with ED papers to take their homes. Why? A developer wanted to build a shopping center anchored by Walmart in that location. The shopping center would bring in more tax revenue than the homes on that property would.

More tax revenue sounds good. It keeps the taxes down for the rest of us in the city or county. But...someone is losing their property. It doesn't make any difference whether the property is owned by poor blacks or middle class whites. It used to be that people were safe on their own property. We used to have to worry about robbers and home invasions by criminals.

I'm having a hard time figuring out who the criminals are. The ones who come quietly in the night and take things from my house or the ones who come in daylight with writs and notices telling me they are going to take my house and property and give me market value (maybe) it. I may not want to sell, but they will buy it from me or take it under Eminent Domain. Under ED they pay what they want (maybe market value - definitely not what I might have been able to sell for if I wanted to sell) or take it through legal maneuverings. Either way, I lose my property.

Don't the citizens of the United States of America have a say in whether they want to sell their property or not? Don't think this can't happen to you. Those people in Anniston probably thought the same thing. It doesn't matter whether you are rich, poor, middle class, black, white, Hispanic or other ethnicity or class. It doesn't matter if you live in the city, suburbs or country. It Can Happen To You.

Youth At Risk

As I've written before, I work in a high-risk youth facility. We actually have three programs on our complex: a minimum-risk, a moderate-risk, and a high-risk facility. My office is physically located in the high-risk facility but I work for all three. The topic of this post concerns all three but is more germane to the high-risk program.

The Juvenile Justice program is dedicated to preventing youth at risk from committing more crimes by committing them to programs that will educate them and give them counseling so that they can see why they have committed crimes, the consequences of those crimes, and how to make better choices in the future. While in our programs, they are in school for five hours a day, they get medical and psychological counseling, and they get the discipline some of them have never had. When they complete the program they either go to an aftercare program to integrate them back into society or they go home.

My problem is with the boys who go directly home. They go back into the same environment they came from; the very environment that made them criminals. Yes, they had choices, and made bad ones, but these are kids who don't have the maturity levels to say, "No, that's wrong I can't do that."

There is one boy in our facility who came from a family heavily involved in gangs, drugs, and criminal activity. Mom is in prison for dealing drugs. Dad is a hard-core gang member who expects his son to go into the "family business." What chance does this kid have? If he goes home, he will be back into it and the months (18-36) that were invested in his rehabilitation will be down the drain.

Another boy is a ward of the state (DCF - Department of Children and Family Services). Mom and Dad are nowhere around and have had their parental rights taken away. When he turns 18, DCF will say, "You're on your own. Have a good life." And that's it. He has no where to go, no money, no job, no home to go to. Even if he manages to get a job the same day he's released, where is he going to live? And the job? He has a bright future flipping burgers at McDonald's.

I know that we can't save every kid. There are just some kids who are going to continue to commit crimes until they end up in adult prison for life. But we have some kids who want to change. The two boys I wrote of before don't want to go back to their former lives. They see that there is another choice. We're trying to find some options for these two and others like them, but the options are few and far between.

I know Florida isn't the only state this problem exists in. Your state is probably having the same problems. It's up to each of us as citizens and taxpayers to rattle some cages. I've started. I've sent emails to state officials outlining the problem as I see it. Can I challenge you to do the same in your state?

Vocational Programs and Art Fairs

Work seems to be at the top of my mind today. I thought I would share with you some of the things we are doing at our high-risk program.

The State requires that we offer vocational programs. Well, since these kids are high-risk kids, there has been some concern about what tools we can trust them with. Do you want to give a kid in prison for battery or armed robbery with anger management issues access to hammers? You can see our dilemma.

Here are the programs in place now:

Construction: Our Education Manager has found a software program where they can learn construction concepts and techniques. He's still working on how to make it a hands-on program.

Puppy Raiser: I've already discussed the Southeastern Guide dog program. Oh, we've been told we're getting three more puppies in January! Three boys; a blond, a black, and a black and tan. All Labs. Labs seem to do the best in a prison atmosphere of the breeds they have.

To go along with the Puppy Program we are also offering Vet Tech and Small Animal Handler. Both of these programs offer certification through the University of Missouri and Florida State University (I don't remember which is which right now).

Tina is teaching a Small Animal Care class that will go hand-in-hand with the Vet Tech and Small Animal Handler certifications. We (I am her assistant) spend three hours a week teaching this class, and the other two days will be spent on obedience classes for the puppy raisers.

As you might guess, I'm very happy to be associated with this endeavor. Too many committed programs offer nothing for the kids to take home - job skills. With the skills from these classes, they will be able to get real jobs. And with jobs and right choices, they will not re-offend and will stay out of the system to become productive members of society.

Art Fair

Although it's not really a program within the scope of job skills, we also allow the boys to enter art work in the local county fair every year. The 2004 fair will be at the end of January and the boys who were in the fair last year are already getting excited about it.

I spoke to one boy yesterday who wasn't here last year. I nearly did cartwheels when I saw his artwork. This young man has a real future in art. He has a lot of raw talent and could go very far if he had a chance to go to an art school. Trust me, I'll be working on that.

What really did my heart good was as he left the room after speaking to me, he was beaming! The praise I had given him made a difference in him that was on his face. I meant every word I said to him and I think I gave him a glimpse of hope for the future.

Back to the fair. The boys who want to participate will have until January 17 to produce artwork to be entered into the fair. Most will get a ribbon of some sort. I wish we could take them to see their work displayed but that won't/can't happen. At least they will get the ribbons.


It's noon as I write this and it's only 54 degrees! I know, some of you are digging out from the snowstorms. But this is Florida! Actually, I'm enjoying it. We don't get too many opportunities to wear sweatshirts and sweaters. I have some sweaters I've been waiting for a chance to wear.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Native American

I filled out a survey and came to the part where they request demographics. You know, age, sex, education, race, salary and so on. The part that stands my hair on end is the race question.

Almost always, one of the choices is "Native American." Now, I know what is meant. They are referring to the various tribes such as Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, Cree, and Blackfoot among others.

However, I resent the term "Native American" referring to one specific group of people. I was born in this county, The United States of America, on the North American continent. Therefore, I am a native American.

Yes, I understand the difference between the capital N and the lowercase N in the word "native." It's the term as it's applied that I object to.

I resent that this term excludes the millions of native born Americans both past and present. As I have stated before, I am a tenth generation American. There are those whose families have been in this country longer, and those who were born yesterday who are native Americans. Let's not forget the Canadians. They are native Americans, and so are South Americans. We are all native Americans. Why should this term apply to comparably few as opposed to the millions?

I don't know what term to use instead of Native American. What was wrong with Indian? Well, aside from the fact that Columbus thought he was in the West Indies, that is. Another man refusing to ask directions and getting lost?. (No...I won't go down that road - this time :D ) How about the Canadian term First People?

Why do we have to have demographics anyway? It's separating us into "us" and "them." Black, White, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, German. I know, I talked about the "Tossed Salad" in another post and I still think it's a great concept.

Why can't we be American first and then of Irish descent? or Mexican descent? Italian, German, Swedish and so forth. We can be Americans and still contribute to the salad.

Why can't we be Americans?

Someone turned the air conditioning to cold!

It's turned chilly here in Florida. I know that 40 and 50 degree weather at night probably doesn't seem very cool to you, but we Floridians feel the chill! It think it was Friday that the overnight temperature was around 45 degrees. It's good for the orange trees (cold snaps make the oranges sweeter), but chilly for those of us who are no longer used to the cold temperatures of the north.

I noticed a time and temperature sign on the way home from work this evening. At 5 pm the temperature was 69 degrees. Okay.....I know that's not cold to you, but it's chilly to us.

I'm about as close to a native Floridian as you'll find. I've lived here all but seven years of my life and three of those were as an adult. While I will never say that I will not live in snow country again, I will say I doubt that will happen. I like ice in my soda and snow on TV shows and movies. I didn't really mind the snow, ice, and cold when I lived in Kansas; it was supposed to be cold in the winter. The snow and ice were part of the package. But, this is Florida, dad-gummit!

I do like to open the house when it's cool and breezy. The air is so nice and clean and makes the house smell nice too. I think the perfect climate would be 50's at night and a breezy 70's during the day. I'll even allow it to drop occassionally into the 40's for the oranges and strawberries, and into the lower 80's around the 4th of July.

Sounds like a piece of heaven to me!

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Tossed Salad

I had to take some online training for my job, and because I am the world's greatest procrastinator, I had to do it today. One part of the training was devoted to Cultural Diversity. Now, I have stated that I don't go out of my way to insult, denigrate, humiliate, embarrass, or in any other way challenge people because of their race, creed, ethnicity, religious or sexual preference, abilities or disabilities, or even general stupidity (although there are times the gloves come off when someone is abusing the privilege of being stupid). I call this being socialized.

We used to live in a Melting Pot society. That, as you probably know, is when people from other countries immigrate to the US and assimilate into the American society. In days gone by, it was the desire of immigrants to become Americans and leave the old world behind. When entering the "melting pot" they became what they believed native born Americans were and left the traditions and customs of their heritage behind.

The new term, "Tossed Salad" has replaced "Melting Pot." Now immigrants bring their traditions and cultures with them. Those already here embrace and celebrate their heritage.

Look at a tossed salad: you started with the basic lettuce and have added all the ingredients with their flavors and textures. You might not miss one or another, but each ingredient brings a richness and fullness to the salad. Think of a melting pot as a fondue pot. Everything is melted together and you taste mainly one ingredient - cheese, chocolate, or whatever. As good as the fondue might be, it doesn't have the same effect as the salad does.

A lettuce salad is a dish that is fine as it is, but when you start adding all the flavors, colors, and textures of the carrots, apples, walnuts, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peppers (red, yellow, and green), onions (chopped, diced, sliced), croutons (garlic or plain), ham, chicken, turkey, shredded or chunk cheese (think of all the choices), or anything else you can think of, not to mention, dressing, you have a salad! So much better than plain lettuce (unless that's what you want, then plain is fine too).

I like living in a world where I can have the variety of Greek, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese foods (among so many others). I couldn't have that if someone from those countries hadn't brought their recipes with them. I don't want international cuisine everyday, but isn't the choice nice to have?

I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat hamburgers and fries every day.


Now that I've come out in favor of a Tossed Salad society, I have to talk about immigration.

Immigrants are one of the things that made America great. We all descend from immigrants. Even the Indian tribes came across the land bridge from Russia into Alaska or migrated on boats to North America. I, myself, am a tenth generation American. My ancestors migrated here from Europe before the Revolutionary War. I didn't have a choice in coming here, but there are millions of people who did.

They come here because life in their country stinks or they want a better life for themselves or their families. I admire anyone who thinks they can become something more in America than they can in their home country. I can't tell you how proud I am that they chose my country as their Land of Opportunity. Anyone who wants to make a life for themselves can do it; they can become the CEO of a major corporation; become a doctor, lawyer, or teacher; own a Mom and Pop corner grocery store; or they can work for someone else and make a good living. They can even become a government employee like me.

But, (here's the kicker) I want all immigrants to be legal and properly documented. There are entirely too many illegal immigrants living in this country who are being supported in one way or another by your (and my) tax dollars. Note the difference: I referred to immigrants as both legal and illegal. I have no problem with legal immigrants. God Bless them.

Now, you're going to say that many illegals are decent, honest people earning livings and supporting themselves and their families. You're right, most are and do. So, if they are such decent, honest and productive members of society why aren't they here legally?

Too many times they come here and because they aren't documented they can't get jobs and then end up on some kind of welfare. They illegally cross the border and then want to get driver's licenses and identification so they can vote! Let them come legally, and I'll be the first to say, "Welcome! Here's the address of the Driver's License and employment offices. And when you become a citizen, I drive you to the Elections Office so you can become a registered voter." Well, I might not go that far, but then I'm not ranting about legal immigrants, am I?

Don't tell me illegal immigrants pay taxes - they do not pay income tax because they don't have jobs. And the ones who have jobs are usually day labor, are paid in cash, and do not pay income taxes. Yes, they do pay taxes on goods they buy, but so do you, and I, and so do legal immigrants.

Some illegals actually have real jobs because some employers don't ask too many questions about their legal status. Those employers want cheap labor. The illegal immigrant knows this and still takes the job because it's better than what they had. They might even manage to get a Social Security card and pay income taxes. But guess what? If they didn't come here legally, they are still not legal! Social Security card or not!

Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that tax money should be spent to support illegal immigrants or that they should be given identification to get welfare, driver's licenses, and be able to vote? Where does it say that anyone can come to this country illegally but getting a job and paying taxes makes it all better?

My rant is about those who for whatever reason are here illegally and want the same rights and privileges of legal immigrants and citizens. If they want the same rights and privileges, they have to accept the same responsibilities of those who are here legally. Those of us living in America are subject to the laws of America and society. Being here illegally, however noble the reasons and honest the life, is still against the law.