Tuesday, May 26, 2009

‘Wet Dreams’

*[indicates dreaming]


[There was something constant in the air; however, I couldn't feel whether it was cool, warm, dry or moist, only that it was there and so evident that it was almost tangible. I lie on the bed of my beautiful lover, alone and all around me there are lights and shadows rising and relinquishing in rolling patterns across every photo and trinket used as decoration from the ceiling to the floor. It was a comfortable day in San Francisco and the room was exactly as I remember it, every picture awkwardly cocked as it was in real life; the printed red-patterns on the white tasseled scarf hanging from above the bed like a small canopy that was the unofficial centerpiece to the room. Outside the doors it was the daytime and the sky was blue, spotted with random white, fluffy clouds sprawling across the bay from Oakland to the shore and I could see the neighboring apartments as the drawn white curtains opened up to Golden Gate Street and its colorful array of continually changing (however, still continuous) edifices as they approached six stories, yet still fell in the shadows of the green leaves of the tall trees of Golden Gate Park rising above them. It was a perfect San Francisco day and I hadn't much understood the meaning of the dream yet.]

I had only been asleep for just over two hours.

[As my head hang watching the street sloping away from me down to the T at Arguello a sudden shock showered down upon me. The sprinklers (or something) in the room had exploded and the water rained down in sheets, seeming as if it came from the ceiling itself in waves as it raced across from window to far wall, wide as was the room. I could begin to feel the wetness on my face.]

I suddenly came to the realization that the rain was not a dream and, what the hell!? I'm actually wet!!!

The room was dark because it was early (4:21am, I'd discover shortly); however, when my eyes opened, having been asleep they adjusted quickly enough and I was facing the closet doors (mirrored from floor to ceiling) and could see the silhouettes of two familiar figures standing tall in the darkness at the doorway behind me. I awoke quickly and muttered something to myself and quickly pulled my golden comforter high to cover myself and Ali, who was sleeping beside me. Giggling from the shadowed marauders ensued as they continued to rain reign upon us from the doorway. For a full fifteen seconds or more, the aquatic ambush continued as the comforter had become a golden shield (much like Batman's cape, Ali would later remark) and did well to block practically the entire duration of the attack and divert the soaking to the closet doors. This monstrous attack was of my own creation.

Electronics were nearby and I drew attention to their presence, at which point I began to rise and the two gunman withdrew, disappearing into the darkness from the doorway. We sat up as we heard the giggling dissipate in the clatter of klutzy footsteps clumsily maneuvering corners; doors opening, closing; blinds shuffling, gates clinging and they faded into car doors and screeching tires as they fled.

Ali and I sat there dumbfounded by the massacre of the closet door as we quickly gathered what'd just happened and let out smiles, smirks and laughter; both at the happening, itself and at the epic failure of the attack in its intended soaking purposes.

They'd tried. Diligently and commendably, they tried to assassinate us as we lie sleeping, mid-morning. However, all it did was create mirth for the attempt and failure and bring us closer together, for one side of the bed remained unsleepable for the rest of the night.

This is the account of the first nighttime assassination attempt of Super Soaker Summerfest Oh-NINE!!! I'd like you all to read it carefully and understand it's all in good fun. So when it happens to you, albeit from me or another… don't you get mad… you've entered into this game knowing the consequences. This is your last chance to withdraw for beyond here… Alls Fair in Water War.

SuperSoakerSummerFest Oh-NINE! Rules:

  1. You may not fire upon a competitor who is actively using, or in close proximity to exposed electronics (i.e. computers, cell phones, iPods, etc…). It is the responsibility of the electronic's owner to properly conceal, protect, or be without unexposed electronics, such as those kept in pockets. If you are fired upon and your phone or iPod is in your pocket and is ruined, that is your own damn fault and the cost of replacing it falls upon you, and you alone. Don't get mad. You've been forewarned.

    I.2    If you fire upon someone with exposed electronics (or within proximity to) and ruin the device(s), that is the attacker's responsibility and they must replace the electronics immediately. This is for the sake of understanding, peace of mind, rules enforcement and avoiding friends kicking each other's asses out of spite, hate, or retaliation. So be careful and aware when attacking.

  2. You may not fire upon a competitor who is dressed and on their way to work.

    II.2    You may not fire upon a competitor who is at work, nor inside the work place. Apparently this is not inherent in the primary rule, itself and requires a Supreme Court-like ruling. Breaks from work and making an appointment with appropriate competitors; however, are fair game. So you'd do well to have a change of clothes with you at all times.

  3. You may not fire upon a person when you cannot be retaliated against. Period.
  4. Stun Guns are not a part of SuperSoakerSummerFest Oh-NINE! (Nick) And therefore cannot be used on wet peoples.
  5. Water guns may be filled with water and water only. Water-based dyes (ones that will not stain, this does not include food coloring) are acceptable. But liquids such as alcohol, soda and vinegar (Nick)… are NOT acceptable and will likely create a fisticuffs situation. Let's try to avoid these at all costs. That's why the rules are in place.
  6. If you are attacked indoors, you'd be best ready to retaliate. If someone escapes an indoor attack situation dry, they are not responsible for cleaning up any of the mess (but are still responsible for damaged electronics). Anyone who is hit during the indoors attack is the party (parties) responsible for cleaning up the mess (this includes if the attacker is hit). In short, all parties hit are responsible for cleaning up the mess. Rewards in omissions go to those who escape unscathed. After all, this is a competition of sorts. This rule does not negate either part of rule II. Work (unless an appropriate appointment is made) is still off-limits.
  7. If you choose to continue on with SuperSoakerSummerFest Oh-NINE! You must adhere to all rules, especially the most important rule… DO NOT GET PISSED! I have a feeling this may be a test in some people's senses of humor and patience (as have been many of our friendships over the years, yet still we all love to hang with each other). If you're upset, find a way to retaliate via the game itself and slake your anger with redemption and vendetta. This is supposed to be fun. (I was attacked in bed and frankly, I thought it was hilarious). So lighten-up Kimosabe… we're all friends here. Don't be such a tight wad.

Beyond that. Dress appropriately (boardshorts and t-shirts would be a wise decision for the majority of summer when possible, methinks). Be certain to carry a change of clothes with you at all times. Jahspeed and for the sake of everyone's enjoyment, employment and easy-going summer attitudes, adhere to the rules like gentleman and ladies and do not get angry. For christsakes… it's water!!! It will dry. I promise you.

I shall let you know who all is fair game by the end of the week. In the meantime… check out this video for this awesome event we're participating in whenever it makes it back to this area.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Big Brother…? Big Mother, Big Father.

Many of you may know the story by now of the couple in Holland Township, New Jersey, who had opted to transgress monotony in their childrens' names by giving them controversial, albeit unique aliases. The article was first run nationally back in December 2008 and I had initially found it posted under the 'Weird News' section on MSNBC.com; however, it was only a matter of hours before "weird news" became headline news as public outcry catapulted the story into the limelight. Adolph Hitler was alive and well (in name that is) in the body of a three year old son of New Jersey. Adolph Hitler Campbell, who was turning three, was denied his name on a birthday cake by a local grocer because they'd found the material offensive and reserved their right to refuse service on such grounds. What was more shocking (surprisingly in retrospect) is that the Campbell parents had two other children—daughters with equally ire-invoking connotations: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell. Within days the Campbells' had received excessive hate mail, including death threats and had been publicly rebuked by the grocer and public alike, labeled "racists" (I wonder why) and dragged thru the press for their parental judgment.

Case in point, after all, who in a sane frame of mind names their child any of the aforementioned names and then derides people as intolerant in the press for not seeing passed the name to find (fair argument) healthy children who apparently do have friends that are of mixed races (no confirmation on the Jewish heritage of said friends, though).

"A name's a name," said Heath Campbell (Adolph's father) in the media, which was later followed by his explanation that he wanted his son to have that name, because "no one else in the world would have that name."

True. Then again, it's unlikely that anyone in the world would have the name New Jersey Heathson Campbell, as well… so the name does call to wonder.

Fast-forward one month, nearly coinciding with Barack Obama's inauguration into office, the Campbell's found themselves robbed of their three children, taken into state custody without an immediate explanation as to why. The 'why', apparently, was due to an allegation of abuse brought forward by a neighbor… one neighbor, with no witness, evidence nor support for her claim; however, after one baseless abuse allegation, the kids were taken into "protective" custody and tossed into the system. Pragmatism can't stand to see it was for any other reason short of the names themselves. We dream of so much more; but can only expect less.

The reason I bring this up and the reason I mention this now is because the Internet headlines are again being swamped in the dereliction of common sense, causing an impetuous and questionable decision made at the government level that appears to exacerbate the ballooning view that we have truly arrived at a new level of Socialism (Did you know that in Sweden it is required that all child names be registered with the tax bureau, who then retains the authority to deny parents' rights to name their children whatever they decide?).

A Minnesota family has recently found themselves under the microscope of public scrutiny for their decision to bypass chemotherapy for their 13-year old boy, Daniel (Hauser), who suffers from Hodgkins Lymphoma. Citing their religious values as standing contradictory to the treatment of chemotherapy and like medicines, they have ingrained these philosophies deep into their 13-year old's mind, so that he himself has denied the treatment. Both parents and son have denied the treatment that could potentially save Daniel's life (which medical professionals deem is very limited should he not receive proper treatment) and decided to seek alternative forms of medicine for him that are congruent with their religious practices. However, Brown District Judge John Rodenberg ruled last Friday that the Hausers were being "medically negligent" toward their child in not seeking chemotherapy treatment and issued a court-ordered X-ray of Daniel's chest and to seek an oncologist to continue treatment by a Tuesday deadline (today).

Today in court, Anthony Hauser was present in court; however, his wife and son were absent. When asked where they were, he'd mentioned that she'd said she was leaving and that he did not know where they had gone. A warrant has successively been issued for Colleen Hauser's arrest.

This is yet another example of government encroachment into the lives of private citizens, and whether or not sometimes a firmer parental hand is needed in dealing with the public, and whether our freedoms are too "free" for people to make the "right" decisions.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Herein lay my fear of the Obama Administration. I still shall not pass judgment on him, his policies, or his Administration itself before the eighteen month benchmark I'd allotted him to find some firm hold and stalwart signs of pushback; however, it is the social restrictions posed by the very ideas of 'Big Government' itself that leer ominously and dangerously beneath the intensive, eye-grabbing issues of the economy, automotive crisis, dwindling social security funds, depleted state budgets and persistent wars. That with liberals, social consciousness becomes so embedded in their philosophies that it mutates into an overt form of societal parenting and righteousness that contends, if not surpasses the likes of the "moral right" that we've seen for the past fifteen years. The "Newton's Cradle" is in full swing, as I'd so terrifyingly mentioned in my letter to the President on my myspace blog, and each of these cases seem as forbearers to an approaching State control that could culminate partially, if not fully in something not too distant from the Swedish "Naming Law".

Just where exactly are our rights retained, I ask? Are we empowered to our liberty and freedom by the government itself, or by the Supreme Law of the Land—The Constitution? For its words, which are, granted, "interpreted" differently by different people; do remain firm in their lexicon that when speech or religion are at play, the government has no say. We have understandably deviated from these absolutes in numerous amendments and Supreme Court cases in the past: 1919 Schenk gave us a clause restricting free speech that posed a 'clear and present danger', such as 'shouting fire in a crowded theater', or the 1878 Reynolds case, which purported that human sacrifice as a religious ritual was not defensible against charges of murder, because to grant such exemptions would be "to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself." These are extraordinary circumstances, which people often will undertake just to test the limits of the First Amendment and are not the norms we are faced with, per say, in everyday society.

Medicine and religion have long had a torrid love affair and I believe is the true wonder of the 'Chicken or the Egg' question. Everyday people are faced with stifling, uncomfortable decisions that force them to measure their faith and lay it bare before their consciences. Terry Schiavo, in more recent memory, is one of these cases and in it the courts ultimately ruled with the husband, because he was sole proprietor of Terry's guardianship by law, which is all our courts can ever truly rule on. Yet, somehow in the course of five years we have forgotten the application of judicial review as a fundamental form of deciding an issue and "morally conscious" judges persist to assert their own personal beliefs into their decisions, sometimes without regard for the rule of law, itself, which they've chosen to uphold in its highest form.

I do not say this lightly, nor without the understanding that I may myself one day be thrust into a situation that'll force me to lay bare my own convictions, to examine them and perhaps even second guess myself on a very personal issue… the rule of law is more important than any one life, because it protects the rights and freedoms of all lives.

In 'The Blues Brothers', there is an infamous scene where Jake and Elwood Blues encounter an army of Nazis gathering on a bridge in a small Illinois town; which, for you history buffs, elicits an awesome depiction of the National Socialist Party of America v. The Village of Skokie, whose 1977 Supreme Court ruling upheld an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that even "unpopular views" were still protected by the First Amendment when the political party aligned with the Third Reich and dressed to the nines in Nazi uniform decided to hold their peaceful rally in the small Illinois town of Skokie.

So… swastika-laden, goose-stepping American Nazi Party is permitted to hold a rally in a rural and peaceful town in Illinois; however, a New Jersey family is chastised and robbed of their children because their names have Nazi connotations…?

Terry Schiavo's husband had the right to remove her feeding tube, ultimately ending her life; however, Anthony and Colleen Hauser are not afforded the same rights to deny treatment for their child because it's sacrilege to their beliefs…?

I'm sensing double standards here.

Or how about this, the government exerts its energies on solving this financial crisis and the judges and officials who are meant to uphold the rule of law quit acting like Society's parents and working their jobs based upon either moral, or scientific grounds…?

In the articles revolving around the Daniel Hauser case, the people interviewed throughout them cite ethics as their defense for pursuing this case deep into the court systems and America's psyche. However, the ethics of a judge are neither religious, nor scientific, but should in fact be transcendent above the mind and heart and ruled based upon the finite, tangible, and known. And ethics!?!? These are just a few snippets from an article about the Daniel Hauser case (article here) :

"If chemotherapy is ordered and the family refuses, the judge said, Daniel will be placed in temporary custody. It was unclear how the medicine would be administered if the boy fights it."

"Caplan said the medical community recognized a person's right to refuse treatments — but those rights didn't extend to incompetent people or children. Still, he said: "It is hard to treat someone who won't cooperate." Restraints could be used."

"Officials at some Minnesota hospitals that treat cancer in children described several methods they would try to break through the boy's resistance.

Dr. Steven Miles, a professor of medicine and bioethics at the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics, said a hospital may assign a companion to a child, or administer a sedative to relieve anxiety."

Forced administration of chemotherapy, state custody, restraints, breaking resistance, sedatives… a 13-year old boy (all there upstairs, educated, or not); nobody could spin these terms as "ethical" to me using every word in the language. Forced anything is, by definition, unethical; yet the hospitals "Board of Ethics" deemed dragging the parents and kid into court was the right thing to do.

I just can't agree with this and never will agree with the state assuming parental control or management for any situation short of excessive physical abuse or any sliver of sexual encroachment. The parents are the parents and their children are their children and therefore their right (within appropriate means, I don't need any ridiculous backlash likening this argument to support for murdering your child, or leaving them in a dumpster; these are obviously entirely separate issues and such arguments are affinitive to what I'd mentioned earlier about people testing the boundaries solely for the reason of testing them). How long will we sit back and allow the State to dictate our lives, rights and freedoms? This is an issue for all people, because all this is one more sign of how restrictive even our "free" government, "of, for and by the people" can be. And even when the majority has spoken, such as Newsvine's poll: "Should parents be allowed to refuse cancer treatments for their sick children?" In which 61% of over 13,000 voters agree with the Minnesota court's decision; I remind you that our laws are established "to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority" and that there is nothing that can trump the Constitution itself, short of amending it. (Newsvine poll: Should parents be allowed to refuse cancer treatments for their sick children?)

So please, read up on this because these cases have been steamrolling the last few months and I believe we're only at the beginning of this struggle between religion, science and the courts, and should you disagree with me... that's fine; I'm expecting a healthy bit of opposition to my views on this one and welcome the counter argument, because you never know, perhaps you'll allow me to see something I've yet to see and then I'll be humbled, red-faced and smiling. Alls I know is that should things continue along this path, to my good friend Eric Mendoza: you may have to rethink your son's name, because the way things are shaping up right now SARG Mendoza, or Super Awesome Rad Guy… will probably be denied by the taxman.


*A crucial turn has taken to the story of Daniel Hauser in that it has now been reported that his father has publicly switched sides and now supports continuing chemotherapy for his son in an attempt to save his son's life. That being the case, Colleen Hauser will now undoubtedly be pursued as a kidnapper and I can no longer support her in her beliefs since this is a decision for two parents to make together. It is my belief that if there is a difference in opinion between parents, the court has the responsibility to error on the side of life (abortion debate excluded) and therefore I wish Anthony Hauser the best of luck in retrieving and saving his son.

None of this weakens my resolve in the above arguments, as I had made them under the pretenses that both parents still supported alternative medicines. I will continue to support them in situations where 100% of guardianship agrees one way or another.