Saturday, April 02, 2005

Monday Afternoon has gotten later

... and become Monday Evening. At a new site.

Err. I mean, the blog "Monday Afternoon" has moved to a new URL and become "Monday Evening" in the process. It's all very confusing.

And don't miss this post on the new site. You have to read past the first section before it gets interesting. To a non-geek, I mean.

extraordinary care

George Bush, as governor of Texas, signed a bill that would allow hospitals to terminate a patient's life support under certain circumstances. The lefty blogs are jumping all over this to say that Bush was a hypocrite about the Terri Schiavo case. But as Roscoe points out, that bill actually made it harder for hospitals to terminate life support, and it was the best that could be done with a Democrat legislature.

There is another point to be made here though, and that has to do with the fact of limited resources. A hospital can only keep so many people on life support. If one person is on life support, then someone else may die from lack of it.

Many of us who were upset about Terri Schiavo would have felt differently if keeping her alive had been an enormous expense. In fact, if she had been taking up space and equipment that might be needed for others, or if the taxpayers were being forced to pay for her care, then I would have been far more willing to let her go. But Terri Schiavo didn't need any more care than your average invalid. Less, if you don't have to take her for walks and such. Terri didn't need extraordinary care, only ordinary care. There were people who were willing to take complete responsibility for her. Yet the court decided that she should die anyway, and that is what was so capricious and so cruel.

another view

Many bloggers have commented on Terri Schiavo's death, but perhaps the most eloquent is True Blue.

Friday, April 01, 2005

big surprise

Great news! Atrios has decided that he wants to mainstream his blog Eschaton by bringing in some more diverse voices. He has asked me to be one of the two new "conservative" co-bloggers. He says he noticed me when I wrote a few articles last year taking him to task for dishonesty. I guess now that he has decided to turn over a new leaf, he wants me there to help keep him honest.

All I can say is, it takes a big man to admit he's been lying and propagandizing, and an even bigger man to try to rectify the situation. I look forward to joining the new and improved Atrios and his diverse friends on the new Eschaton.

Atrios is planning to add another conservative voice (besides me) and a libertarian, and he asked me for recommendations. If anyone wants to be recommended, let me know by the end of the week.

Smart-alek Donald Crankshaw had already figured it out. And no one emailed me asking for a recommendation, so it wasn't a very successful prank. Oh well, I got a chuckle out of it. That's what counts, right?

Thursday, March 31, 2005

America's conscience: RIP

Well, Terri Schiavo has died. With her, a bit of America's conscience has been forfeited.

Someone emailed me:
Doc, this is just too horrible to even fully digest. I must admit that
when the tsunami hit, it didn't really affect me that much. I mean, I
felt bad for all those people, and I felt bad for the misery, but
natural disasters happen, and there just isn't much one can do about
them. But this...this...this is different. This is the cold blooded
starvation of an innocent human being, by what is supposed to be an
"enlightened society."

I'm sick. I'm depressed.
Me too. But all things work together for good for them that know God, for them that are called according to his purpose. Terri is in God's hands now and I have faith that God will turn this to good for all the payers that were offered for her.

On the other hand, I greatly fear that this situation has led to the hardening of many hearts against the side of life. Many bloggers that I would have expected to see on Terri's side --or at least sympathetic to Terri-- became outright hostile over the whole thing.

Maybe they were provoked by the intemperate words of Terri's defenders. I don't know. But I do know that lines once drawn are hard to erase, and I expect that the next time something like this comes up, these bloggers who were so angry at Terri's defenders will be strongly inclined again to side with death against life. And I greatly fear that what I have seen in the blogosphere is typical of the country as a whole.

Is it telling that the pro-death camp was so eager to accuse us of pretentious goodness? It seems that almost every one of them, at one time or another, said that we were defending Terri just to show how good we are, or because we had a holier-than-thou attitude. Could it be that at some level they realized that we really were on the side of good, and that they resented us for it?

Well, accusations of profligate piety won't last long. Our opponents will quickly settle on a more dreadful accusation, just as the abortion-rights movement eventually settled on the claim that anti-abortionists wanted to "enslave women". I doubt that they will accuse us of wanting to "enslave disabled people", but they will come up with something --something that lets them show pretentious goodness while condemning us, who only want to save people from death, of some horrible crime. How else will they cover up the fact that they themselves are promoting something horrible?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Meating of Mines, scene 10

This is a continuation of the screenplay Heroes for Hire Episode 2 -- A Meating of Mines.

Scene 10

Same room as previous scene, but now there is daylight coming in from the windows, the tables have been pushed against the walls, Rolf and Zantar are both hogtied in the middle of the floor and there are only two thugs left. Everyone else is gone. The two thugs are Tough3 and Tough2 from Scene 1. Zantar and Rolf are both laying on their sides with all four limbs tied together behind their backs, half naked, and badly bruised and beat-up.

The thugs are obviously so drunk they are on the point of passing out. Tough3 is kicking Zantar in the back of the head, firmly, but not hard enough to risk killing him. Tough2 is standing beside him and giggling. They have their backs to an open window.

TOUGH3: (kick) How do you like that, huh? (kick) Does that feel good? (kick) How do you like that?

Suddenly, there is the sound of a thunk and the front of an arrow is sprouting from Tough3's chest. Both thugs look at the arrow in amazement for a moment.

TOUGH2: Gee, does that hurt? ...

Tough3 collapses

TOUGH2: ... 'cuz it looks like it would hurt.

There is another thunk and an arrow is sprouting from Tough2's chest.

TOUGH2: Oh, look, I've got one too. (he sways drunkenly for a moment) Hey. It does hurt.

Tough2 collapses.

Rolf and Zantar, who have been playing dead up till now, both look up and immediately start wriggling over to saw their ropes on the arrow heads.

ZANTAR: Who do you suppose did that?

ROLF: One of us must have a guardian archer.

As the diminutive duo work feverishly to cut the ropes, they hear faint voices.

VOICE1: It's a shame to waste this stuff on those lillies.

Rolf cuts himself and curses under his breath.

VOICE2: Well, we paid for it with their silver (laugh), why not?

Rolf is trying to grip the arrow. Meanwhile, Zantar has sawed half-way through one rope, but now he accidentally breaks the arrow head off and it flies away.

VOICE1: Yeah. Next time you get a knife in the gut and we don't have any Medicine then I'll laugh about how we used this just to keep two lillies alive so we could kick them around some more.

Zantar is trying to roll himself over the body to get to the arrow head, Rolf starts cutting again, but it slips again. The voices are getting louder and now we hear footsteps.

VOICE2: Well, why don't you go argue with Jerrod about it? Then you'd need the Medicine (laugh).

Zantar gets over the body, but now he is facing the broken off arrow head. He has to turn over to get his hand on it. There is a sound of a door opening.

VOICE1: Thanks, I think I'll just keep my own opinion and my own guts right where they ... Hey! Where did those drunken idiots go!

The two are at a door near the stairway (not the outside door that Zantar and Rolf originally entered through). The Voices can't see the floor in the middle of the room because of the stairs and some tables. They start toward the heroes. The camera is at floor level focused on Rolf's back as he cuts away another fiber. Under a couple of tables, we see the legs of the Voices coming around the stair case. They are carrying a chest between them.

VOICE1: (shouting) Hey! Who's watching the ...

VOICE2: They're passed out! (then panicky and shouting) Hey what...

Voice1 also shouts and there are sound of a box being dropped and of swords being drawn. Rolf finally gets through one braid of the rope and it starts to unravel as he strains at it. The two Voices try to leap over the tables that are between them and the heroes. Voice1 leaps on top of the table and slips to land on his seat on top of the table. Voice2 scrambles to the other side, but when he steps off the table onto a chair, his foot goes through the chair back and gets caught. He falls then gets up and stumbles quickly toward Zantar with the chair still on his leg, kicking it in front of himself. Zantar is still feeling around behind himself for the arrow head when Voice2 arrives. Voice2 raises his sword to skewer Zantar but Zantar bellows and bursts the remaining ropes binding his right arm. He reaches out, grasps the leg of the chair that Voice2's leg it trapped in and rips it up, breaking it off of Voice2's leg and blocking the sword in one motion. Voice2 stumbles backward.

Meanwhile Voice1 finally regains his feet and comes toward Rolf who is still feverishly working at his ropes. Voice1 lowers his sword to skewer Rolf but just then the rope binding Rolf's hands to his feet breaks and he rolls away. Voice1 skewers the floor instead. Rolf flips to his feet with his feet still bound together and his hands still tied behind his back. He hops backward toward the window that the arrows came from, each hop takes him just out of range of a swipe by Voice1.

ROLF: Hey, stupid. (hop, slash) Let's get some fresh air (hop, slash) over by the window (hop, slash) ...

Now, Rolf has his back to the window, there is nowhere else to go.

ROLF: ... where you can meet my little guardian archer (drop slash).

This time Rolf drops to a seated position under the window so that Voice1's next slash passes over his head.


Nothing happens and Voice1 stares stupidly at him for a moment. Meanwhile, Voice2 is hacking at Zantar who keeps blocking the sword with the chair, but pieces keep flying off the chair and it obviously won't last long. Rolf pries himself up to put his chin on the window sill and look out the window. The camera shows his face from outside the window.

ROLF: (in a sad voice) Guardian archer?

The camera is still outside the window. Rolf's head jerks downward and is instantly replaced by a sword hacking into the sill right where his head was. The camera moves back inside as Rolf rolls away from the window into the legs of Voice1, tripping him. Rolf leaps to his feat just as Voice1 does, but Voice1 still has his sword and Rolf is still bound. Rolf starts hopping away again, but this time we see the scene from behind Rolf, and he still has the arrow head in his hand. He is cutting the rope that binds his arms. Then one of his hops is suddenly brought up short and the sword grazes his chest, bringing a line of blood. Rolf hops in place, barely keeping his balance. Rolf and Voice1 both look down to see that Voice1 is standing on the rope that ties Rolf's feet together. The both look at each other, Voice1 smiles evilly and steps forward with his other foot while swiping at Rolf. Rolf falls backward to avoid the blow but then Voice1 steps on the rope even closer to Rolf's feet, essentially pinning his feet in place.

Meanwhile, Zantar is down to just a chopped up table leg. He blocks one more sword swipe and is left with nothing but a stub.

VOICE2: Now what you gonna do, lillie?

Voice2 raises his sword for the death blow and Zantar uses his one free arm to launch himself at Voice2 in a spectacular display of strength. He knocks Voice2 over and lands on Voice2's chest. Before Voice2 can react, Zantar has his right hand around his neck.

ZANTAR: Now I'm gonna break your freaking neck.

Zantar is as good as his word and one-handedly twists Voice2's neck to produce an audible snap.

Nearby, Voice1 raises his sword to hack the immobilized Rolf. Rolf suddenly leans up. His hands have been freed and he stabs Voice1 just under the rib cage with the arrow head.

The thugs falls backward and Rolf tries to scramble for the sword but his legs are tangled up with Voice1's. Zantar levers himself up to look around for Voice2's sword.

The front door slams open and four more guards enter. Two of them have crossbows cocked and ready, the other two are holding swords.

Guard1: What's going on!

Unhappily, The two heroes are both very near the front door and there is no way they will be able to free themselves or get any weapons before they are skewered. To make matters worse, a fifth figure is suddenly silhouetted in the doorway holding a sword. The new arrival is huge --head and shoulders above the other four.

Suddenly a sword tip sprouts out of the chest of the rightmost guard, a crossbowmen. The crossbow goes off. A huge hand circles the neck of the leftmost guard, and the large figure in back surges forward to knock the two middle guards toward Zantar and Rolf. They fall forward, surprised, and Zantar and Rolf handle them the same way they each did their previous opponents.

The large figure turns out to be Loan the Ranger. He pulls his sword out of the skewered guard and wipes it on the sleeve of the one his is still absently strangling, one-handed.

LOAN: Well. You two look like you've been living hard lately.

Rolf and Zantar grab weapons from the guards they just killed and quickly finish cutting their own bonds.

ROLF: A life of adventure necessarily entails certain risks.

The man that Loan is strangling finally stops moving and Loan drops him without even looking.

LOAN: So it seems.

ZANTAR: Where's Jerrod?

LOAN: He's in town. Last night he and a bunch of his men suddenly got the nerve up to attack the Cannons. Most of the Cannon tough guys lit out like foxes when the farmer comes. The Barkleys set the house on fire and killed everyone that came out.

Rolf gets up and moves to pick up the box that the Voices were carrying.

ROLF: It appears that you have a problem, Sheriff. Can your fifteen deputies control the forty thugs that work for the Barkleys?

Rolf picks some shiny canisters out of the case and examines them.

LOAN: None of my deputies will even try. The town had a meeting and decided they would rather just let the Barkleys take over the town rather than take a risk fighting them.

ZANTAR: So you're going to go look for a new job?

LOAN: Yeah.

ZANTAR: After you kill all the Barkleys.

LOAN: Yeah.

Rolf has come back with a handful of the little canisters.

ROLF: An ambitious goal.

LOAN: That's why I came here. When you two didn't show up for the Cannon barbeque, I figured something like this might have happened.

ROLF: Do you know how to use these, Sheriff?

LOAN: Those are Mysingal's Magical Medicines. For external use only, but it will penetrate as deep as needed to heal broken bones and stuff. One dose isn't very effective, but you can use as much as you have, it doesn't lose potency with repeated applications.

Rolf uncorks one and poors a thick liquid over the cut on his chest. The cut magically closes and heals. Zantar grabs some of them and the two start tending to the rest of their injuries.

LOAN: What are you two planning to do.

ROLF: We have an issue to take up with our former employer.

LOAN: In person? You two aren't planning to just ransack his place and hightail it out of here?

ZANTAR: Not till we have a little chat with Jerrod.

ROLF: We wish to complain about the manner in which he terminated our employment.

ZANTAR: Real rude.

ROLF: Note only rude but disrespectful and excruciatingly painful.

ZANTAR: Yeah. The painful part might have irritated me the most.

LOAN: And here I thought I was going to have to talk you into it.

ROLF: You may save your rhetorical energy for a more pressing occasion, Sheriff. Do you know where we might encounter the miscreants?

LOAN: The entire bunch are celebrating down at the Lucky Unicorn right now.

ZANTAR: All in one place?

LOAN: Yeah. Well, now that we've killed everyone who isn't there.

ZANTAR: Good. That fits my plan perfectly.

ROLF: What's your plan, Zantar?

ZANTAR: Kill them.

ROLF: I find your plan to be rather sparse on details.

ZANTAR: Kill them painfully.

ROLF: Much improved.

LOAN: Rolf, since you're a mighty wizard, is there anything you can do about the fact that we're going to be outnumbered ten to one?

ROLF: (thinks for a moment) Well, I suppose that if they are celebrating their victory over the Cannons, then they have probably been imbibing excessively.

LOAN: A sound hypothesis.

ROLF: How do you two like the taste of tar?

UPDATE: continued.

Monday, March 28, 2005

American Liberty League

Bill Quick has begun to create a new organization called the American Liberty League with the web site I didn't like the name at first --too cliche-- but it grows on you and I really like the domain name.

Here are some general remarks on the organization.

1. As an independent political party it will fail. Compare the Green party to Compare the Constitution Party to the Moral Majority. Compare the Libertarian party to the NRA. In each case you have two entities with similar goals (or at least an overlap). In each case, the independent party is without influence and the party-supporting organization is (or was) very powerful.

Think also about the two most recent times that independent political party actually had an effect: Ross Perot and Ralph Nader both helped to keep out of office the major party candidate that they would have objectively favored, producing --in their own view-- a worse situation than if they had stayed out. They each thought it was worth the sacrifice for the future influence it would give them, and they were both wrong. Each man has vanished into obscurity, leaving behind almost no progress toward their individual agendas (except that Perot satisfied the part of his agenda that was just anti-Bush).

I propose that the American Liberty League should follow the successful example of other influential organizations. It should bill itself as a non-partisan group but actively support the major party candidate that most closely matches its agenda, both in primaries and in elections.

When your guy loses the primary, you still support the winner, as long as that winner is better than the other party. Think of the way and KOS got behind John Kerry after Dean was shown the door. They could have groused and pouted (actually a lot of them did...) but instead they got behind the Democratic candidate and did an enormous amount of work for him and built up huge street cred.

We are seeing that street cred take effect now in the access they have to top Democrat officials and the way those officials are continuing to cater to the very positions that cost them so much.

2. really needs a platform, a small and targeted platform. I propose to only consider issues that are (or would be) very popular with the American public but that are not strongly supported by either party. Here are some suggestions:
enforcing immigration law
rational air-travel security (including religious and racial profiling and letting pilots carry guns)
strong support of Second Amendment
judges that let legislators make the law
privatization of retirement
privatization and deregulation of health insurance
tort reform
3. In addition, some way is needed to get on the platform the goal of reducing federal spending (beyond privatization of the socialist programs I mentioned). This has to be carefully thought out to make it popular and effective. Millions of Republican voters have sadly learned that a vague promise to reduce spending is not worth much. needs to come up with something that is targeted and popular. That's not easy, because all spending has a large constituency.

Maybe this could be done by demanding a specific law to hold Federal agencies accountable for waste and mismanagement, for not accomplishing their purpose, and for giving away money in grants to religious and ideological groups. Agencies that don't stand up to evaluation are eliminated. I don't have a specific proposal on this one but I think it is possible to come up with one.

It sure would be nice to see work. Republican polticians have all the power in Washington now and we have seen almost none of the reforms they promised us. It's time to apply the screws.


Storyblogging Carnival

is up (those cans represent 15 for those of you who can't read colary). We've got the old standbys as well as some very good new authors.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

the other side of Terri Schiavo

This is how they see it --the people who would let Terri die: imagine that a woman died, but before her body decayed the doctors cut off an arm and then kept alive artificially. The arm has no soul, no right to life. It's just a macabre relic of the person who is no longer with us. The arm is not the person.

But how much of the body has to remain? Where is the cut-off point between a person and a gruesome bit of living tissue? I don't know how to answer that question, but a lot of people think that one clear answer is that there are certain parts of the brain that are needed to sustain personhood. They believe that it is clear and indisputable that once certain parts of the brain have been completely destroyed, then there is no person left.

You don't agree? You don't have to. But before you attack them for callousness, you have to understand where they are. Imagine a woman's arm, kept alive for fifteen years because her hysterical parents can't bare to let it go. They like to sit and hold the hand and talk to it. They tell you it responds by squeezing their fingers and that it appreciates having them there. Wouldn't you think that was a bit ghoulish? And if her poor ex-husband went to court to get the arm destroyed, wouldn't you be sympathetic? And if the courts ruled that it should be destroyed but the parents fought the ruling for years, wouldn't you be annoyed? And then if Congress actually passed a law to cater to the hysterical parents, wouldn't you be disturbed?

This is how they see Terri. They see a gruesome living corpse. They genuinely believe that Terri is no more; that keeping the body alive is a ghoulish bit of sentimentality. Please put yourself in their place before you start judging and criticizing. You can argue over whether Terri is alive or not, but please don't call them names as if they believe the same things you do and simply do not care about Terri.

Those of you who have been so critical of Terri's supporters, you need to do the same thing. You need to try to look at things from the other side. Those on the other side don't give much authority to medical science when it comes to facts about the soul. And why should they? When has science ever been able to prove anything about the soul? Terri's defenders also don't think that humanity consists of conscious activity.

You disagree? That's OK, but you can't judge them without understanding what they believe. So take out those factors. Imagine that Terri Schiavo was just in a normal coma. Imagine that medical science cannot say whether she is conscious but that they give a 50/50 chance that she will recover within the next year or so.

Imagine that her parents want to continue to care for her, but that her husband, who has been raising a family with another woman for years, suddenly remembers a chance remark by Terri --she once said that she wouldn't want to be kept alive if she were in a coma. Suppose he stands to inherit money when she dies. Suppose that he uses Florida's new (hypothetical) suicide law and Terri's alleged remark to argue that Terri really wants to commit suicide and that as her guardian he should be allowed to carry it out for her (and then inherit the money). Suppose that on this flimsy ground the court allows him to kill her in front of her weeping mother. Suppose that the court ignores all evidence of the husband's conflict of interest and expands the meaning of the suicide law to allow this verdict?

Wouldn't you be outraged? Wouldn't you be willing to condone some extreme measures to stop this miscarriage of justice, this legal murder for money?

So before you accuse the other side of hypocrisy and grandstanding over this issue, ask yourself what you would do if you thought the choice was between a slight increase in power for the federal government or America descending into the kind of barbarism that allows unwanted adults to be killed? If you approved of the federal role in the civil rights movement, that should answer the question for you.

There have been far too many harsh words thrown back and forth over Terri Schiavo. To my chagrin, it is my side that has initiated most of the hostility, but the other side has gotten in it's licks.

This is a plea for some mutual understanding. Give others the benefit of the doubt. They are doing what is right according to how they see the world. This isn't so much a battle of differing moralities (like much of the left/right divide is) but a battle of different beliefs. Please don't say something you'll be sorry for later.

a meating of mines

Well I've gotten two weekends off in a row now and was able to finish "A Meating of Mines". I want to leave the cliff-hanger for the Storyblogging Carnival, so I'll post the next scene on Wednesday or so. I think it's the best scene I've ever written, so I'm going to just post that and not the conclusion. Then I plan to make people suffer a little longer before posting the conclusion :-).

In case anyone has noticed, the title keeps changing between "A Meating of Mines" and "A Meating of the Mines". I can't decide which I prefer, but I'm leaning toward the first. Any opinions?

Over all, I'm pretty please with the way it came out. Originally, I had planned to get in more allusions to more Westerns, but it was harder than I expected. There really aren't that many Westerns with scenes or lines that are memorable enough for allusions and that don't have Clint Eastwood in them. A lot of the reason is that they borrow from each other so much that any originality evaporates.

I'd really hard to avoid Eastwood when you are looking for Western allusions. What am I going to do, have a 4-against-4 duel? Which of the hundred movies about the OK Coral would that be alluding to? But I could have a three-way duel and that would be an obvious allusion to "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly".

Likewise the red-painted town, in the middle of a desert landscape, next to a blue lake, is a memorable scene, but I can't for the life of me think of any other panoramic scene in any Western that is especially memorable and unique.

There were a few good possibilities that I would have used if they had fit:

James Caan in "El Dorado" letting a horse jump over him to spoil the rider's aim because he's heard that horses never step on people.

The eye patch from "True Grit". I almost had Loan wearing one, but he isn't really a John-Wayne-type character.

John Wayne's repeated line in "Big Jakes": "not hardly" in response to the repeated comment, "I thought you were dead."
And a few others. Unfortunately they didn't fit. Oh well. Maybe the diminutive duo can return to Winkelfranks in a future adventure (although getting Zantar and Rolf safely back to some place that they have left tends to be difficult...)