Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cleaning Up

Whilst attempting to clean up my sidebar I managed to get my blogrolls, links, and many other things to float all over the page. Don't ask me how. I don't know. My knowledge of HTML is limited to the old style of HTML. CSS and other things are a tad beyond me. So for a day or two you may have noticed a lot of odd placements for images and blogrolls.

I may solved that problem, at least for now. The blogrolls are at the bottom of the main page now. If I can figure out how to put them where I want them, well, they may be back in the sidebar. Eventually.

I moved a lot of my image links to the bottom of the page, too. They just make the page look cluttered. But I like them and I don't want to get rid of them. So, if you like them, too, just hit the "end" button on your keyboard and you will see them.

For now, I'm done. More clean-up to come! Oy!

Cartoons: Muslims Still Don't Grasp The Concept

From comes this:

Court Rejects Suit Over Prophet Cartoons

A Danish court on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Muslim organizations against the newspaper that first published the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that touched off protests in the Islamic world.

The City Court in Aarhus said it could not be ruled out that some Muslims had been offended by the 12 drawings printed in Jyllands-Posten, but said there was no reason to assume that the cartoons were meant to "belittle Muslims."

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comThe newspaper published the cartoons on Sept. 30, 2005 with a text saying it was challenging a perceived self-censorship among artists afraid to offend Islam.

The caricatures were reprinted in European papers in January and February, fueling a fury of protests in the Islamic world. Some turned violent, with protesters killed in Libya and Afghanistan and several European embassies attacked.

Islamic law forbids any depiction of the prophet, even positive ones, to prevent idolatry.

"It cannot be ruled out that the drawings have offended some Muslims' honor, but there is no basis to assume that the drawings are, or were conceived as, insulting or that the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims," the court said.

The seven Muslim groups filed the defamation lawsuit against the paper in March, after Denmark's top prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, saying the drawings did not violate laws against racism or blasphemy.

The plaintiffs, who claimed to have the backing of 20 more Islamic organizations in the Scandinavian country, had sought $16,860 in damages from Jyllands-Posten Editor in Chief Carsten Juste and Culture Editor Flemming Rose, who supervised the cartoon project.

The lawsuit said the cartoons depict Muhammad "as belligerent, oppressing women, criminal, crazy and unintelligent, and a connection is made between the Prophet and war and terror."

It said the drawings were published "solely to provoke and mock not only the Prophet Muhammad but also the Muslim population."

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comConsidering the immense body of work encompassing Muslim cartoons and artwork which depicts Jews, Christians, Jesus, etc. in insulting, blasphemous, disgusting situations, I think Muslims who have protested the existence of these cartoons are speaking through their burnooses. The entire episode of violence, murder, bombings, and so on were orchestrated over months following the original publication of the cartoons. In other words, this was an Islamic set-up.

Ask yourself just how so many poverty-stricken Muslims in third world nations managed to get their hands on Danish flags with which to burn before the adoring Dhimmimedia. A set-up. All of it orchestrated. And then you might ask how this managed to be set-up (and it was) in so many places? To me that smacks of conspiracy. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.

It's a matter of Freedom of Speech. Christians may decry nasty depictions of Jesus, Jews may complain of stereo-typed, ugly cartoons depicting Jews, but they do not riot, bomb, assault, or commit murder. They understand satire, parody, and Freedom of Speech. Muslims around the world do not.

Finally the Danish Courts have had the stones to put the Muslims in their place. No case! Now, if only the French can gain a set of stones they may be able to halt their own fast-approaching Dhimmitude. But don't hold your breath!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Florida This Election:

As usual, Floridians voting this November 7th will find Amendments to vote on! Yay! What fun! More inane things special interests think up to feather their own beds or toss rocks into the beds of others. And one that is so important it should pass without a single dissenting vote.

Here's the fun one:

NO. 3

Requiring Broader Public Support
for Constitutional Amendments or

Proposes an amendment to Section 5 of Article XI of the State Constitution to require that any proposed amendment to or revision of the State Constitution, whether proposed by the Legislature, by initiative, or by any other method, must be approved by at least 60 percent of the voters of the state voting on the measure, rather than by a simple majority. This proposed amendment would not change the current requirement that a proposed constitutional amendment imposing a new state tax or fee be approved by at least 2/3 of the voters of the state voting in the election in which such an amendment is considered.

Why is this fun? Think about it: to change Florida's State Constitution requires, now, merely a majority of the vote. As Wikipedia describes it:
Amendments proposed via all five methods must be ratified via a simple majority by the voters in a referendum held simultaneously with the next general election before they become a part of the Constitution.

That should be simple enough. Majority rules, doesn't it? Yes, it does, with limitations duly noted in the Law. And that is usually good enough (no, not for Lefties who like proportional rule, unless the Right has more ... blah, blah, blah!) for us. But amending a Constitution is different from passing a bill into law. Because Laws are far easier to remove from the books than a Constitutional Amendment. I know you're shaking your head in amazement as we rarely ever see a Law disappear, but it's true. Amendments are tougher to be rid of.

Here's the thing. A Constitution is a foundation for a State. It is not a grab bag of statutes and laws. And it never should be. Yet, here in Florida enough silly voters got together to vote into the Florida Constitution a constitutional protection for pregnant pigs!

Now, the protection may be merited, though there aren't that many pig farms in Florida. But it is hardly the subject for a Constitutional Amendment! It's what a bill - a prospective law - should be about. And it should have been rejected by the voters on that alone. "This is not something that belongs in a State Constitution, even if I think pregnant pigs need better conditions. I will vote NO on this."

I wish it was easier to convince the voters that a proposed amendment was not suitable for the Constitution, but should be proposed as a law, than it is. But it isn't. Too many voters seem easily swayed by sob-stories, and emotional pleas.

But, having said all that, I will vote against Amendment 3. Why? Because it will, in fact, inhibit the Right of Floridians to change their government as they see fit. The Power of the People must always be paramount, no matter how foolish they may at times be. And this Amendment would abridge our rights.

It is hard enough, now, to get such a proposed Amendment on the ballot. We have many Judges who are venal enough to toss them on the grounds that they are about two subjects (not allowed under law) when they are certainly not, or too confusing (not allowed under law) when they are only confusing to infants and Liberals, or for many other reasons. If a proposed Amendment gets past the plethora of obstacles we place before it, and get placed on the ballot, then all it should require for passage is a majority of the votes cast. And if that means 51% of the voters voting, then so be it. And if only 10% of the registered voters decide to get off their fat, spotty behinds to vote, then so be it!

Vote NO on Amendment 3!


Now here's the important proposed Amendment:

NO. 8

Eminent Domain

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to prohibit the transfer of private property taken by eminent domain to a natural person or private entity; providing that the Legislature may by general law passed by a three-fifths vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature permit exceptions allowing the transfer of such private property; and providing that this prohibition on the transfer of private property taken by eminent domain is applicable if the petition of taking that initiated the condemnation proceeding was filed on or after January 2, 2007.

This belongs! It is a protection that does not rely on the better nature of our elected representatives. This Amendment means that the Town Council of Chubbybutt, Florida cannot use eminent domain to get a parcel of land for the purpose of transferring it to a company or person who will increase the taxes paid. Mayor Dimwitty's Cousin Dimwitty won't be able to buy that nice piece of land, which the owner does not want to sell, so he can put up another Convenience store, based on promised tax revenues. The beautification of North Gumption Street may be important to the Chubbybutt Town Council, but it will not be brought aboput ny turning over the parcel of land to a person or a private company, no matter how ugly Lyle Hunsecker's three-story hen-house is.

It won't matter what the buyer says he will bring to the town/county/state in increased tax revenues. The Amendment will make such a transfer illegal. This is a protection which we never expected to need, isn't it? But we learned after the Kelo VS New London case, didn't we? It turned out that even the Supreme Court of the United States of America could be so dead wrong that many places immediately voted Eminent Domain laws into place. [Just what Constitution were they reading? Justices who voted for New London in that case are an embarrassment to all Americans!]

This is better than a simple law. An Amendment has a force that a mere law does not. I'm urging Floridians to vote for Amendment 8. Don't listen to any politician or Lawyer who tells you it ain't needed. It is needed. And it has a very important place in the State Constitution. It protects our property rights from theft by dishonest politicians.

Vote YES on Amendment 8!

Aren't They Worth It?

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer(Tuesday, October 24, 2006):
A Whidbey Island man has pleaded guilty to charges of using the Internet to entice a 14- year-old girl to travel for sex -- a plan that went awry when she flew to Washington, D.C., instead of Washington state.

Airport police at Dulles International Airport contacted the FBI in January 2005 after the girl, who lives in Chicago, showed up upset in Washington, D.C. She had decided to use her own money to fly sooner than had been agreed upon, authorities said.

John Leonard Young, 46, of Coupeville faces at least five years in prison but could serve up to 30 years after he is sentenced in January.

In a plea agreement filed Monday, Young admitted to talking with the girl over the Internet and telephone for about two weeks, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

Sometimes stupidity is its own reward. This girl missed being used by a predator through her own sheer stupidity, and managed to fall into safe hands. No thanks to her parents, let's add! Where the heck were they? Maybe they didn't talk with her much, or perhaps they figured "she is such a good girl she'll never do something like this," eh? But ... missing Washington State and aiming for Washington, D.C. is evidence that the parents do not have an Einstein on their hands. This is a child that very much needed watchful eyes over her. So, where were they?

Some of their communications were later recovered and were found to contain "bold, detailed discussions about sex."

Very nice. Can you imagine speaking with a 14-year-old-girl about sex? Having "The Talk" is trauma enough for most adults of children, much less chatting about "doin' it" with a kid! And I'm not talking about your own child, or someone under your guardianship, but some cute chick at the Mall, or somebody's little sister at the Library. Is that something you could do? The creep is 46! Aside from engaging in rape, just what possible connection could he have with her? Sorry, but I can't think of many things I'd discuss with a 14-year-old stranger, and having sex with them ain't one of them!

Young urged the girl to remove the hard drive of her computer to cover their tracks and arranged for the girl to visit him Jan. 21, the statement said.

Dead giveaway! ooOOOooooh! Exciting! Adventure! I can see how all of that would lure an impressionable girl to him. To anybody else that little gem is an admission.

"Young used a business credit card to pay for a plane ticket for the girl to travel to Seattle to be with him," the statement said.

And we have a gotcha! Ahhh, evidence. So now we see that even the sickos can be terminally stupid! And Young certainly fits that bill. Sick, stupid, evil. In all ways a winner, this Young.

After the girl arrived in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 12, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the computers in Young's mother's home, where he was staying. Authorities said they recovered his communications with the girl and more than 50 images of child pornography.

I wonder how Young felt when he learned that the F.B.I. had been contacted? She goes to the wrong place, gets upset and contacts the police (maybe she was worried about him?) who get in touch with the Feds. Lord! Now that's funny! Be nice to see a picture of that moment, wouldn't it?

They don't execute child molesters, or sexual predators of children. They should, but they don't. But a nice 30-year stretch should calm his ardor for the youngsters a tad, don'cha think?

This is a problem, made more difficult to stop by the internet, and it needs to be addressed. One fantastic organization online is trying to improve our awareness of this. Absolute Zero is, in their own words, "A community of individuals pledged to fight paedophiles on the web. We are committed to the safety and emotional well-being of all children. This site will serve as a resource for those committed to our fight wherever you may be in the world." A valiant effort, and I urge you to visit and even join! But more needs be done, and quickly! We need to alert our own children to the fact that this is no game. This is not an adventure but a real-life horror in the offing. We must watch our children like hawks until they are ready to go out on their own. Any hint of impropriety by a correspondent in their online chats or emails should be scrutinized. And they should be brought before the police if they are suspicious looking in the least!

Trust me, if someone is investigated, and they are innocent, they will adjust the ways they interact with younger folks. Maybe that's the problem and it's easily solved. If the person is on the brink of stepping over the threshold into predatory activity, a knock on the door by an Investigator might scare him off forever. For the full-blown predator, this may be the first time Law Enforcement gets a look at him. This will cool his ardor fro a moment, but will not stop him. But now he's on the radar screen.

You adults out there: watch those kids! Know what they're up to! It's your responsibility! Not mine, not the government's, not the police's responsibility! It's yours! If you fail, you will have to live with that the rest of your life. So keep an eye out for changes. And don't be afraid or embarrassed to talk to the cops. Believe me, they want to know what's going on more than you. They get to deal with the victims of these criminals. That's hard for anyone, but the police see far more victims than we'll ever know. So help them stop these predators before they can do real damage!

To help, and to learn, go ahead and visit Absolute Zero. Also, take a look at The Cyber Tipline, a part of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Remember, there are plenty of resources on the Web that can help you protect your kids. So get involved. Take charge. They're your kids, for heaven's sake!

Aren't they worth it?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Did You Forget? I Did.

The Barracks Bombing

I visited a new blog today - I'm fighting bronchitis and called off at work - after seeing a comment at another blog. The second post on the page made me feel uneasy. I forgot. Completely. Perish The Thought had a memorial to the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon. Remember? All the way back in 1983? October 23rd, 1983 to be exact.

The Muslim Homicidal Bomber ran his truck into the lobby of the building and detonated the equivalent of 12,000 pounds of TNT. The building collapsed. And quickly, so did American resolve.

Bombing resultsNoted at Perish The Thought was this sad summary:
The death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers. Sixty Americans were injured. In the attack on the French barracks, 58 paratroopers were killed and 15 injured. In addition, the elderly Lebanese custodian of the Marines' building was killed in the first blast. [1] The wife and four children of a Lebanese janitor at the French building also were killed.[2]

The result of that attack on Americans in Lebanon, by Islamic Terrorists, was American retreat from the Middle East. The U.S.Congress pressured the President, Ronald Reagan, to pull all American troops from Lebanon. And the Islamic Terrorists noted that retreat, and they arrived at the conclusion that the USA was a Paper Tiger.

Please visit Perish The Thought and read the post. I forgot, I'd bet you did, too. And we shouldn't. Not only because this was one of many Islamic attacks on Americans - not the first, either! - but because the dead were serving their country in a hostile place. Their service and sacrifice should not be minimized because it wasn't as spectacular and public as the 9/11 attacks. They were there on our behalf. They were killed or wounded serving us. We dare not forget so quickly.

Rescue and Recovery ops in Beirut

I apologize for having forgotten.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hey! I'm a Snapdragon!

Thanks to Patrick for this.

You Are a Snapdragon
"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

From Wedding Solutions:

White Snapdragon
The botanical name for Snapdragon is Antirrhinum Majus. It originated in the Mediterranean region of France and Spain more than 400 years ago. It is now one of the most popular flowers around. The flowers sit in graduated clusters atop a spike that is between 8 and 12 inches in length and along a stem that can grow as long as 45 inches. Snapdragons are available in shades of red, orange, lavender, pink, salmon and white. They have no scent.

Because of their abundance of color and their vertical shape, Snapdragons are extremely useful in vase arrangements. These flowers are readily available in May and June and then again in late summer until the end of October. Snapdragons can also be found in limited supply in late winter and early spring. Properly cared for, they can last about a week.

Note of warning: these flowers require sufficient water at all times. They are also extremely sensitive to ethylene gas and should be kept away from fruits
and vegetables on food table displays. If kept too close, they will drop their buds on the table.

Very pretty flower, isn't it? I tend to lean toward Carnations and Irises as favorites, but these are really nice. Check out the quiz, why don'cha, and see what kind of flower you are. Then check out Patrick's blog - Born Again Redneck - and enjoy the reading there!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Also from Patrick - see? I read his blog! - is this:
I had never known another Patrick Conlon until I moved to San Francisco and I was amazed to find that there were three others with my name in the phone directory.

Naturally I had to go check it out, and ...

  Jeffrey Keenan
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Along with this banner, was the following, which I found interesting:

Jeffrey Keenan

  • There are 887,907 people in the U.S. with the first name Jeffrey.

  • Statistically the 46th most popular first name.

  • 99.83 percent of people with the first name Jeffrey are male.

  • Names similar to Jeffrey:


  • There are 20,998 people in the U.S. with the last name Keenan.

  • Statistically the 1664th most popular last name. (tied with 279 other last names)

So, if 99.83 percent of people with the first name Jeffrey are male, who, exactly, named their daughters Jeffrey? From Behind The Name comes this:
Gender: Masculine
Usage: English
Pronounced: JEF-ree
Medieval variant of GEOFFREY

Look, this is not a female's name! So figure it out! Jeepers! Almost as silly as A Boy Named Sue! And I wanted to know what the name means, too, so I looked for that and found this:
From an Old French form of a Germanic name. The second element is Germanic frid "peace", but the first element may be either gawia "territory", walah "stranger", gisil "hostage" or god "god" (see GODFREY). It is possible that two or more names merged into a single form. The name was introduced to England by the Normans, where it became common among the nobility. Famous literary bearers include the 12th-century chronicler Geoffrey of Monmouth and the 14th-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer, writer of 'The Canterbury Tales'.

And Godfrey gives me this:

From the Germanic name Godafrid, which meant "peace of god" from Germanic god "god" and frid "peace". Godfrey of Bouillon was the leader of the First Crusade and the first ruler of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.

So I am God's Peace. Get used to it! Heheheee!

Thanks, Patrick!

PS: Unless it's spelled Joffrey it isn't pronounced Joff-free. Geoffrey is still pronounced Jef-free. Okay? Sheesh!

By the by: Being curious, I checked for my siblings names. My sister's married name garnered the following, which tickled me!
LogoThere is:
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Friday, October 20, 2006

It'll Teach 'Em A Lesson

Gonna send a message, are you? Gonna teach those darned Republicans a lesson, huh? Because they aren't acting like good, conservative Republicans, right? And, after all, once those naughty Republicans see just how mad we are, they'll hunker down and do what's right, won't they?

Of course in the interim the Democrats will have taken control of the House of Representatives, or the Senate, or maybe both, and will be setting their sights on the White House. And is that really what even an angry Republican wants to see? Is that the outcome you hope for? How will that improve this nation, I ask you?

Look, the Republicans have weathered quite a few "moderates" in their ranks over the years. Pennsylvania has given us Arlen Specter, for cryin' out loud! We had Jacob Javits and Lowell Weicker! Both of them were well to the left of the conservative heart of the Party. And who could point to Lincoln Chafee with pride, eh? Was Jim Jeffords worth a single vote?

Yet, the Party continues to fight for what is right, despite the need to compromise at times. For no matter what you or I may think our representatives in government should be doing, and how they should be voting, for any man or woman to be effective, they must be able to work with others in government. And that means they cannot always stick to their principles, but must compromise. For that way leads only to marginalization.

Granted, we are healthier as a Nation when our government does little. Government does very little well. As a protector of our rights, the government is slow, often in error, and ponderous in action; truly an elephant in a china shop. But as long as conservatives can look to the government and see the two branches - Legislative and Executive - in the hands of the Republicans, we can breath a tad easier. If you doubt that, look to the decades of the 60's through the early 80's. Tell me that the Republicans would have done as badly as the Democrats. You can't.

It took a long time for the Republicans to figure out that they were actually in power. Some still govern as if the Democrats were in power. That's the saddest part of the present US government. Republicans are in control but are afraid to lead as the Democrats did from the Eisenhower administration until the Clinton administration. The Democrats ruled! They were in charge and didn't ask anybody's permission to decide what to do. Today's Republicans need to learn that. They have to decide to lead from power, and ignore the nibbling of the minority.

Want to teach the Republicans a lesson? Vote them back into office. Then email and snail-mail them often! Keep them mindful that they are there only on your sufferance. And if they continue to hem and haw, if they continue to act like they need the Democrats' permission, if they still act like the media matters in the governance of this nation, then come next election, vote for the Republican challenger. Kick the incumbent out in the primaries.

Because once the general election comes around, Folks, it is too late to punish anybody but your fellow Americans. And they don't deserve another Democrat Congress. Lord knows we cannot afford that! The World cannot afford that!


Laura Lee Donoho has something to say about this, too, at the Wide Awake Cafe!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Mentor's Exercise

Some time ago my writing class Mentor gave us an exerciseon Senses. As part of it, she said, "Using the words, flight, ferment, scorpion, brimming, and shrink write a scene no more than 1500 words using all of the senses." I wrote a short story from that, edited it, played with it, and finally was through with it. And here it is for you. Warning: There are some nasty words in it! It has no title, but i suppose I can call it, "Desert Scene".

Desert Scene

The scorpion skittered up his leg, dry carapace gleaming brightly in the late afternoon sun, venomous tail curled tight to its back. Yasha flicked it away with his knife; a soft tink, and the creature went end-over-end into the sand. It righted itself, waving its tail with an insolent threat, and scurried away. Yasha rested his head on the trunk of the palm tree he was stretched under and breathed in the dry cinnamon tang of the desert. His eyes gazed at the pool of water before him.

"Poison" he thought again, seeing Reuben's death-dance in his mind's eye.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Their headlong flight from the battle at Tell El Yehudi had brought them here. The Nazis giving up the short chase for their defeated enemies days before, Yasha and Reuben had made their weary way to this oasis, parched throats and salt encrusted eyes unbelieving at the sight of the watery pool hidden here. Reuben had scrambled to the edge and drank deeply, splashing the water over his head, urging his comrade to join him. But Yasha had stopped, seeing the body of an Arab lying in the grassy sands a few paces away from the pool. Bloated, blackened, body swollen in the gassy ferment of decay, the body was evidence of danger here. Yasha scrambled near to it and looked closely. His eyes brimming with tears from the stench, Yasha could see no wounds at all. The body looked to be of a fairly young man. So what had killed him?

Reuben sloshed over to him and sank wearily to the ground.

"Water, Yasha" he panted, hair dripping, "come drink."

Yasha looked closely at Reuben and said in a near whisper, "I think it may be poisoned, Reuben."

Reuben seemed to shrink away from him, disbelief on his face. "But it tastes fine,

"Then what of him?" Yasha replied, nodding at the dead Arab. "What killed this man?"

"Ach!" Reuben shook his head. "Old age. Starvation. Boredom!" He got to his feet and
staggered toward the small copse of palms that shaded the northern edge of the oasis. "So don't drink!"

Yasha looked around. Their oasis sat in the midst of miles of empty ochre sand, dunes marching away in all directions.

A retching sound made him look at Reuben, now on hands and knees, vomiting into the
sand. His body trembled, sweat pouring off his face. A low moan escaped his lips along with strings of white glistening drool. Yasha got to his feet and stumbled toward him, legs quivering with fatigue.

Reuben got to his own feet, a look of confusion on his face, his hands trembling, head nodding with a rapid staccato beat. His eyes moved in Yasha’s direction, but slid past him, travelling around the oasis, his head and shaking body following. Yasha reached his side and tried to grab his shoulders; to lay him on the ground, but the shaking grew fiercer still and Reuben seemed to dance away.

“Reuben!” Yasha followed him trying to stop him. “Stop!”

Reuben’s spastic frenzy reached a crescendo, and he cried out. Yasha grasped his
shoulders at last and turned him around, looking into Reuben’s face with alarm. Reuben seemed to see him for a second. “Yasha?” Eyes turning up in his head, Reuben collapsed to the sand, face to the pale, uncaring sky, and died.

Yasha knelt at his side, placing his ear to Reuben’s chest. He heard only the bubbling exhalation of his final breath. Yasha shook Reuben’s shoulders. “Come on, Reuben,” he shouted, coughing at the dryness in his throat, “come on!”

But Reuben didn’t answer. Yasha knew he’d never answer him. He sank back on his
haunches and regarded his comrade. He and Reuben had survived Rommel’s tanks, miles of blinding hot sands, and found this oasis. And here Reuben had died. Yasha shook his head in rage. “Why didn’t you wait?” He screamed at the dead man. “Why?” He staggered to his feet, staring down at the lifeless man. “Leave me here? Alone? What’ll I do now?” He raged across the sand and grasses until he collapsed , drained of energy, at the base of a palm. He turned on his back, resting.

“Fucking bastard!” He thought. “Fucking, stupid bastard.”

The desert breeze hissed, quiet and unceasing as he dozed; he was completely spent. Idly he heard a soft scratching sound and glanced at his booted feet. A scorpion, curious, was investigating this intruder. It reached a dusty boot heel and crawled up.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Metallic sounds. A distant clanking. Yasha chewed the bitter blades of grass and rose weary and tired to his feet. Coming from the east, he could hear engines as well as the clanking.

“Tanks,” he thought, “Rommel’s here.” Then he shook his head. “No, Rommel’s west of here.”

This was rather confusing to Yasha. He swallowed the moist blades and wished for water.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Through the binoculars, the officer could see the palm fronds swaying gently just
beyond the crest of the dune. He gestured to his forces, signaling them to spread wide to the right and left. He banged on the top of the tank and the driver gunned the motor, the tank lurching ahead.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yasha crawled to the top of the dune beyond the eastern edge of the oasis, and peered over the lip. Tanks and armored cars were headed this way, some moving off to the north and south as they approached. “Oh, fuck me, I’m dead,” he thought, and lowered his head in resignation. The clanking grew louder as the tanks neared, and then seemed to come no closer.

He raised his head and saw soldiers, shimmering wildly in the heat, approaching, guns at the ready. His aching, tired eyes moved beyond them to the line of vehicles waiting there. Something flapped madly above one of them, and Yasha squinted to make it out. Red. He could see red on the small flag. “Fucking Nazis,” he grumbled, and was surprised to feel no more fear.

But as he looked longer he also saw blue, then white on the flapping standard. A diagonal cross.

Yasha giggled and raised a weary arm. He waved until his arm grew too heavy to lift.
“Fucking British,” he sighed with relief. “Fucking British.”

For all have sinned ...

Perfection. We demand it of our parents. We demand it of our elected representatives. We demand it of our Founding Fathers. We demand perfection of those we look up to in Politics, Sports, Entertainment, and in Religion. And yet ... is that even possible? Not one of us is perfect.

What brought this up? I was watching the PBS channel this afternoon as it aired, for the umpteenth time, "Eyes on the Prize". I watched Martin Luther King, Jr. during the marches, listened to him speak, and was struck by how he sounded. And I remembered how he was a far-from-perfect man. Indeed, he was a philanderer, if the reports about him are true. Yet, why would that matter, given the path he had taken? His 'mission' was to gain the Civil Rights that Black Americans had been denied. He did not march to secure marital fidelity, laudible as that aim might have been. And I remember how that philandering was used as a cudgel against him, and by proxie, against the Civil Rights Movement as a whole.

As if the imperfections of any person negates the truth of what they may say, or the actions they may champion. True, one's veracity can be questioned if one lies. That is sensible. But if I support the profiling of suspects based on ethnic characteristics, religious dress, or 'tell-tale' mannerisms, why is profiling considered suspect because I am not a perfect person? By that very standard all are then suspect and none can be considered worthy of support. (Yes, I do support profiling - it makes perfect sense!)

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal..." We must call into question that statement. Why? Because the author of that sentiment owned black slaves. Right? How does the imperfections of Thomas Jefferson degrade the beauty of the sentiment he expressed there, or in so many of his writings? In fact, his writings transcend Jefferson himself. He was a flawed man, even for his times, who could, when the times demanded it, move above himself, see the errors of himself and others, and call for a greatness of purpose he lacked within himself. Jefferson is a handy target for the foolish who love to cut down those better than themselves. He was not perfect, ergo he is unworthy of respect.

Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, had little use for blacks. For much of his life a black man or woman was an rarity. Any scholar of Lincoln can explain, in depth, how ambivalent Lincoln actually was as far as blacks were concerned. As President his first concern was the continued unity of the United States. And yet, when the time came, and the opportunity arose for Lincoln to move above himself, he gave us the Emancipation Proclamation. His detractors explain to us that it held only in the states then in rebellion, and not in the border states that remained, precariously, within the Union. True as far as that goes. It was a pragmatic move. But it was also one that said much. Lincoln waited until the Union forces had sufficient success in the field to announce the Emancipation Proclamation. At that moment, the Civil War was changed from a War to save the Union to a War to end Slavery. Lincoln was smart enough to know that it could not have been issued earlier. Lincoln grew as President, learned as President, and became the Great Emancipator despite being little interested in black Americans. Lincoln was a very imperfect man. And today it's almost fashionable to deride him. Yet, he did great things that went beyond his self.

I know that I am imperfect. And I will always be imperfect. I don't strive to gain perfection because I know that is not a possibility. I also know that another's faults do not automatically wipe out what they may say, do, or support.

I am no lover of Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ was a dishonest politician, a bully, at times a power-hungry fool. But this southerner did more for the Civil Rights of black Americans than anyone in the twentieth century, except, perhaps, MLK. Nothing in his history could point to a Johnson Presidency as a high-point in black Civil Rights. Yet he moved above his own past, his own upbringing, to champion Civil Rights. His mishandling of the Vietnam War is a lesson in foolishness, but cannot detract a single plaudit from the greater good of ensuring the Voting Rights of all American citizens.

When I listen to the news and hear the denigration heaped on politicians by their opponents, I wonder just what they could do to make their opponents happy. The answer: nothing. As some have said, if G.W.Bush discovered a cure for cancer, he would find himself pilloried by his opponents for his lack of oratorical power, his smirking smile, his history as a party boy. He is not perfect, thus the Left can try to destroy him for not being what they wish him to be.

Is there a big point to this? No, I don't think so. I'm just saying that we ain't perfect, we won't be perfect. If we cannot argue with somebody about the ideas they espouse, without taking shots at their imperfections as human beings, then perhaps it's time we just shut the heck up. You and I know that there is much to fight, out there, in the arena of ideas. We fight against the Islamic Barbarisms. We fight against the Communization of our Society. We battle the indoctrination of our children in the mis-begotten philosophies of Political Correctness. And it is altogether proper to point to inconsistencies in any man's actions and words. But we can do so without denigrating Dennis Hastert for being fat, or Barbara Streisand for being shrill.

If the idea is offensive, say so. If the person espousing that idea is imperfect, so what? So am I. So are you. Let's fight the Good Fight.

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Can I get an "Amen"?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hochmut and Demut: Pride and Humility

Moved up to the top, lest we forget too quickly!

"Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord."

The demented man who invaded a peaceful, one-room schoolhouse and murdered five young Amish girls was not Amish himself. He was an evil man who had molested family members in the past and had fashioned a horrific fantasy about doing it again. This time, though, it would not be family members who would be his victims. It would be members of a peaceful group of Americans who hold themselves apart from modern things, modern beliefs, modern thoughts. And when he was done, putting a bullet through his own head, five girls aged seven to thirteen, lay dead, or dying. Five girls aged six to thirteen remain hospitalized from their wounds. Why the Amish? What was it about them that would draw this animal to them?

Evil is drawn to the peaceful, the innocent, the set-apart. The Amish have no system to protect themselves from the outside world other than to teach the Bible, and teach their own children that the outside world is a bad place. So the Amish make an alluring target for one such as the animal who invaded and slaughtered the innocent.

Who are these people? Who are the Amish, those who refer to those of us outside their world as "English"?

From Religious Tolerance:
The Amish movement was founded in Europe by Jacob Amman (~1644 to ~1720 CE), from whom their name is derived. In many ways, it started as a reform group within the Mennonite movement -- an attempt to restore some of the early practices of the Mennonites.

The beliefs and practices of the Amish were based on the writings of the founder of the Mennonite faith, Menno Simons (1496-1561), and on the 1632 Mennonite Dordrecht Confession of Faith. The Amish who split from Mennonites generally lived in Switzerland and in the southern Rhine river region. During the late 17th century, they separated because of what they perceived as a lack of discipline among the Mennonites.

Some Amish migrated to the United States, starting in the early 18th century. They initially settled in Pennsylvania. Other waves of immigrants became established in New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri Ohio, and other states.

The faith group has attempted to preserve the elements of late 17th century European rural culture. They try to avoid many of the features of modern society, by developing practices and behaviors which isolate themselves from American culture.

James Hoorman on the current status of the Amish Movement:
"In America, the Amish hold major doctrines in common, but as the years went by, their practices differed. Today, there are a number of different groups of Amish with the majority affiliated with four orders: Swartzengruber, Old Order, Andy Weaver, and New Order Amish. Old Order Amish are the most common. All the groups operate independently from each other with variations in how they practice their religion and religion dictates how they conduct their daily lives. The Swartzengruber Amish are the most conservative followed by the Old Order Amish. The Andy Weaver are more progressive and the New Order Amish are the most progressive."

"Be not equally yoked with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"

We know the Amish as those folks who drive black buggies in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, wear overalls and blue shirts, and don't use electricity, telephones, or other modern conveniences. We know the Amish from films such as 1985's "Witness" which starred Harrison Ford. An interesting and enjoyble film, but one which had little to say about the Amish, aside from their backward ways.

Wikipedia says:
The Amish separate themselves from mainstream, modern society for religious reasons: they do not join the military, draw (nor are forced into) Social Security, or accept any form of assistance from the government, and many avoid insurance. Most speak a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch (or Pennsylvania German), which the Amish call Deitsch. The Amish are divided into dozens of separate fellowships, which are each broken down in turn into districts or congregations. Each district is fully independent and has its own Ordnung, or set of unwritten rules. This article primarily discusses the conservative Old Order Amish fellowships that observe strict regulations on dress, behavior, and the use of technology. There are many New Order Amish and Beachy Amish groups that use electricity and automobiles, but still consider themselves Amish.
  • Adult baptism is done after one makes a commitment to the church. (No infant baptism)
  • Belief in the Trinity, the virgin birth, incarnation, sinless life, crucifixion, resurrection ascension, and atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • One lives on after death, either eternal rewarded in Heaven or punished in Hell.
  • Salvation is by grace from God.
  • The Bible's authors were inspired by God. Their writings are inerrant. The Bible is generally to be interpreted literally.
  • Satan exists as a living entity.
  • Salvation: Essentially all conservative Protestants, including Amish, look upon salvation as an unmerited gift from God. However, Evangelical Christians have traditionally looked upon the salvation experience as an intense emotional event which happens suddenly, as a convert repents of their sin and accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. The new Christian's subsequent ethical behavior and daily routine are of secondary importance to the experience of being saved. The Amish have always looked upon salvation as being experienced in everyday living. Salvation is "...realized as one's life was transformed day by day into the image of Christ."
  • The state: The Amish are enthusiastic supporters of the principle of separation of church and state.
  • Authority: They believe that their church has received the authority from God to interpret his will. "Submission to church is submission to God."
  • Rituals: Evangelicals look upon their two ordinances -- communion and believers' baptism -- as rites that are primarily between an individual and God. To the Amish, "The church itself, as a body of believers, shared in communion as a sign of their unity with Christ and with one another. Baptism in the Amish church symbolized a commitment to both god and fellow believers."
  • The world: They believe in remaining quite separate from the rest of the world, physically and socially. Part of this may be caused by the belief that association with others -- often referred to as "The English" -- may be polluting. Part may be because of the intense persecution experienced by their ancestors as a result of government oppression. Amish homes do not draw power from the electrical grid. They feel that that would excessively connect them to the world.
  • Nonresistance: They reject involvement with the military or warfare. They believe that Amish must never resort to violence or to take up arms in war. However, they do not generally view themselves as pacifists, because this would involve them in political action to promote peace. Their rejection of violence does not extend to the disciplining of their children.
  • Local control: They believe that each congregation -- called a "district" -- is to remain autonomous. There is no centralized Amish organization to enforce beliefs and behaviors.
    Evangelization: Most believe that it is not their role to go out into the larger community and attempt to seek converts among The English. However, some Amish groups have recently become active in evangelization.
  • Customs: The Ordnung is an oral tradition of rules which regulates how the Amish way of life should be conducted. Specific details of the Ordnung differ among various church districts. The rules are generally reviewed biannually and occasionally revised as needed.
  • Sex roles: In common with many conservative Christian faith groups, their family life has a patriarchal structure. Although the roles of women are considered equally important to those of men, they are very unequal in terms of authority. Unmarried women remain under the authority of their father. Wives are submissive to their husbands. Only males are eligible to be become Church officials.
  • Oaths: Their faith forbids the swearing of oaths in courts; they make affirmations of truth instead.

All this does indeed move these people away from their neighbors almost as absolutely as if a huge wall was erected between them and the outside world. But it doesn't keep the Amish from being friendly with outsiders, nor does it keep them from having "English" friends. They do business with the outside world as their large and successful farms attest. They run restaurants - if you haven't sampled Amish cuisine, you ain't lived! - and gift shops, supply milk, grains, and such to outside businesses. This is a culture of creativity, love, and faith. And in a nation such as the United States, and Canada, they have been able to flourish to a great degree. But there are drawbacks to the Amish culture as well.

Although there are maybe 200,000 Amish, of varying depth of faith, the gene pool they draw from is quite shallow. And so the Amish are prone to genetic defects. For example, the vast majority of Amish in Lancaster County, PA, are descendents of about 200 Swiss citizens who emigrated in the mid 1700s. Because they traditionally do not marry outsiders and because few outsiders have joined the order, the "community has been essentially a closed genetic population for more than 12 generations." Thus, intermarriage has brought to the fore certain genetic mutations that were present in the initial genetic pool (as they are in any population), making the Amish host to several inherited disorders." These include dwarfism, mental retardation and a large group of metabolic disorders. One in 200 have glutaric aciduria type I; they are born healthy, but can experience permanent neurological damage when a mild illness strikes. From 1988 to 2002, the Clinic for Special Children in Lancaster County, PA, has "encountered 39 heritable disorders among the Amish and 23 among the Mennonites.....For 18 of the disorders seen regularly at the clinic, the incidences are high, approximately 1/250 to 1/500 births"

So we can see that the Amish suffer for their faith. Simply by following the tenets of their Ordnung, they remain susceptible to disorders of the body. They are also targets of fools who seem to delight in goading them. Amish men will not "return evil for evil" which makes them handy targets for bullies who cannot take on someone who will fight back. This shows less about the Amish than about the cretinous individuals who target them. The Amish remain misunderstood and caricatured. They have their problems and their grievances. But they do not go running to the authorities with their problems. For good or bad, the Amish resolve problems within the community.

I was reared in southeast Pennsylvania. So the Amish were a 'back-of-the-mind' presence. Labcaster was only a few hours drive to the west. My great-grandmother lived near a Mennonite community and eventually went to a Mennonite Home as she aged. We were as familiar with them as many folks are - not quite sure of who these folks were, but conversant enough to talk about Shoo-Fly Pie, barn-raisings and Hex symbols.

What happened in Nickle Mines, Pennsylvania had nothing to do with the Amish as a people or an ethnic group. It had everything to do with the ease with which they can be assaulted and victimized by the Evil of the outside world. The community now is in mourning. And it is enduring a spotlight that it never sought and hates. Spare a little time for these 'Pennsylvania Dutch' and render up a prayer for their protection. They remain a blessing on this nation.

Patrick is also blogging on this. Go read!

See: Amish
The Amish: Their history, beliefs, practices, conflicts, etc.
Amish and Mennonite Cuisines
Dutch Country Visitors Center
The Amish and the Plain People of Lancaster County, PA
Amish Country Traditions

“And be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

An Update: There are places you can donate to the families who suffered this assault. I lost the first one I read, found on a blog, which the Amish set up for the family of the gunman. That's right, the Amish, as a part of their Christian walk, have indeed opened an account for the relief of the killer's family. If you have read that blog post, or know the addy, please let me know.

Camojack at Uncommonly Sensible takes a look at this.

Don Singleton posted "Shoot Me First" - a must read.
And please give, if you can, and pray regardless.

The Anchoress has more on this, in her well-written analysis, as well.

GINA COBB has a quick look, saying, "A story of genuine heroism -- an Amish schoolgirl who faced an unjust death with a kind of courage rarely seen this side of heaven -- is being lost among the hyperpoliticized charges involving ex-Congressman Mark Foley."

Julie D. at Happy Catholic posted "Those two girls were superbly equipped to live Christ's truth in every way. I pray that my own children are as well equipped for the trials they encounter in their lives. I pray that I am."

In The Weight of Purity, feminine-genius says, "A man who claimed to hate God and suffer an obsession with impure thoughts prepares to avenge himself on God and girls -- and is bowled over by purity and piety."

MacBeane Gene, over at Here, there and back, has some "Amish Thoughts", where he remarks, "Had the Amish believed in a formal education I could very well be among the group driving their buggies to bury the innocents killed in Pennsylvania. I am sure that some distant cousins of mine are there. My maternal Grandfather, a minister, left the community for an education. He was descended from the earliest Swiss Mennonites migrating here buying their land from William Penn. One of my ancestors was the first Amish Mennonite bishop in this country."

New Update: Found that posting about the Amish Fund set up for the family of the killer. You will find it at Right Wing Nation. Please take a look and donate, if you can. See, also, the post titled, "Treating The Amish With Respect"; a worthwhile read.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Congratulations are in order to Sister Toldjah on her 3rd Blogiversary, as well as Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters on his 3rd Blogiversary. And congratulations to The Anchoress whose visitors recently passed the two-million mark! Well done, Folks! Keep on blogging!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Harry Potter: It Ain't Just Voldemort After Him

HogwartsFrom Jack's Shack, among others, comes this latest on yet another attempt to ban the Harry Potter novles from School Libraries:
Ga. mother seeks Harry Potter ban
ATLANTA - A suburban county that sparked a public outcry when its libraries temporarily eliminated funding for Spanish-language fiction is now being asked to ban
Harry Potter books from its schools.

Harry PotterLaura Mallory, a mother of four, told a hearing officer for the Gwinnett County Board of Education on Tuesday that the popular fiction series is an "evil" attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion.

Board of Education attorney Victoria Sweeny said that if schools were to remove all books containing reference to witches, they would have to ban "Macbeth" and "Cinderella."

A list of other such foolish attempts can be found at

BookY'know, you'd think by now that folks would have figured out that banning a book does nothing to prevent it being read. The act of banning a book merely inspires even more curiousity than ignoring it does. And in the case of the novels by J.K.Rowling, banning her books because they concern Magic, Wizards, and Witches is just silly beyond belief.

Spiders!I can imagine some fundamentalist Christians, and maybe some Jews and Muslims, being quite leery of any book that treats Magic in such an easy fashion. For them, tales of Wizards and Witches may sail perilously close to the shores of Blasphemy. But if they had taken the time to read any of the books they would see that Harry Potter is not a substitute for Christ, is never portrayed as perfect, is never seen as seeking martyrdom or godhood. No, Harry is a typical boy, with an atypical gift: he can perform real magic.

At no time do the books delve into religion or religious practices. In fact the only worshipping they come close to are the grovelings of the followers of the Dark Lord - Voldemort. We see only passing references to Christianity in the mention of the Christmas and Easter Holidays. Perhaps the absense of religious rituals such as church services or Mass, or something of that sort makes folks a bit uncomfortable. But the Potter series isn't "The Chronicles Of Narnia". This isn't C.S.Lewis writing about Christianity. This is J.K.Rowling writing a tale for young readers.

Magic!So, what's the problem here, aside from the fact that some critics have never read a word of the novels? It can't be the character of Harry Potter. In most respects he's a normal boy. He's mischievous, breaks rules - or ignores them - and doesn't study very hard, he has hates, loves, loyalties, fears. So aside from that evil magic thing, there's nothing there to worry any Christian.

Dobby the House ElfRowling has grabbed mythical creatures from all over the literary world to people her novels. And for each one there is a story, a back-story if you will, that places them quite well within the magical world of Hogwarts. Elves and Goblins, Werewovles and Trolls, Thestrals and Unicorns, magical characters that let the imagination run free. And on top of it she is writing about the battle of Good versus Evil. And she's not rooting for Evil!

Albus DumbledoreThe main characters in Harry Potter - the ones we root for - are good people, trying to live their lives, while battling forces they scarcely understand, so Evil are those forces, while remaining loyal, and loving. Surely a reader, one who's read the Bible, can see a kind of model of Moses in the image of Albus Dumbledore. A Father figure, one who is more powerful than the others, striving to bring his people (the Hogwarts Students) through, an old man of sorrows, gentleness, and principle. Yet, not once will you see him claim infallibilty. Or perfection. No, he's a man of power, but a man, nonetheless.

SnapeIn Severus Snape we find an ongoing enemy of Harry, yet a confidante of Dumbledore. Snape hated Potter's father and loathes Harry, making his classes a kind of torture for the boy. And even he has quite human experiences and reactions. He was one who had been a part of the Evil, yet turned from it and renounced it. And there is Draco Malfoy, Harry's nemesis at Hogwarts. Malfoy is a fellow student, but of a different upbringing and character than Harry.

Gilderoy LockhartThese novels bring us the image of a full, rich world - minus Church, perhaps - written in a captivating, enjoyable style. It's aimed at young readers, those who need to read most, and enjoy reading most. The Harry Potter novels give younger readers a reason to read. And they love it! They want to read these books! And if the parents of those young readers are watching over them as they should, then any mistaken ideas about magic, or witchcraft, can be quickly answered.

QuidditchNow, look. I'm a Christian and I've read each of the six Harry Potter novels. I have not been enticed to begin studying witchcraft or to worship Satan. I have watched the first three films. I'm still a Christian. And I must confess that I would love to be able to fly on a broom! Don't kid yourself: you know you'd love it, too! And it wouldn't change your love for Christ one whit, now would it? Or are you too weak in your Faith to withstand the lure of a fictional world?

If so, perhaps you should be sure to stay away from the Sports teams you root for, and the TV shows you must watch!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Start To The Halloween Season

Here's a little something to start the Halloween season in a spooky mood, but also as a warning to parents. This was published in October of 2003, and I wrote it in about twenty minutes. I must have been in the writing 'zone' at the time.

The Dark Road

Leaves skitter along the road in the chill autumn breeze. The road is a dark and quiet place.

The boy is eight years old. Dressed in a brand-new Batman costume, the cape a swirling dull sheen in the twilight, he skips along the dark road. He carries an empty sack in his hand. Halloween is just beginning. The mask he wears limits his vision, and he watches the roadway a few feet ahead to avoid holes and roadkill. He doesn't want to ruin his new costume.

He can hear his breath echoing in his ears and thinks of Darth Vader.

"Luke, I am your father," he intones in his best grown-up voice. He giggles and tries it again.

Light streams around him from behind, his shadow suddenly appearing ahead of his skipping form.

"I'm the Batman," he whispers.

Too late, he realizes something is different. The road ahead is filled with light and the elongated shadow of Batman.

He stops. A horn blares close behind. He turns, his eyes widening in shock, then fear.

He has no time to even scream before the huge truck strikes him.

The red tail-lights fade into the distance; leaves skitter along the road in the chill autumn breeze. The road is a dark and quiet place.


Howard and June pulled off the road and stared into the dark night. They sat in the car, silent, as they had done each Halloween for the past ten years.

Howard glanced at his wife, saw the tears glistening on her cheeks in the dashboard light. He took her hand and gently squeezed it. She squeezed his in return, her eyes never straying from the dark road ahead.

"We should've been with him," she murmured.

Howard said nothing. They'd been over this before. Many times. Everything that could've been said had been.

"He shouldn't have been out here alone," she whispered.

Howard turned away, stared out the windshield. "He couldn't wait, June. We told him to wait for us. You know that." His voice was quiet, gentling.

"We should've been with him," she whispered again.

Howard watched the dark, windy road and sighed.

At last, June sniffled, patted his hand, and scrabbled through her purse for her hanky. It was her signal that it was time to go. Over until the next Halloween.

Howard started the car, glanced in the mirrors, and pulled out. The headlights illuminated the road, and the swirling leaves ahead. He drove slowly and carefully.


The red tail-lights fade into the distance; leaves skitter along the road in the chill autumn breeze. The road is a dark and quiet place.

The boy is eight years old. Dressed in a brand-new Batman costume, the cape a swirling dull sheen in the twilight, he skips along the dark road. He carries an empty sack in his hand. Halloween is just beginning. The mask he wears limits his vision, and he watches the roadway a few feet ahead to avoid holes and roadkill. He doesn't want to ruin his new costume.

(© Copyright 2003 benning)
Free Image Hosting at