Tuesday, February 28, 2012


This is a somber post - whether it's cathartic, I can't say, but I ask the indulgence of those who read "Penigma" to allow me to use this venue to pass along some personal news.

Last Friday night, my 36 year old brother, Nathan, took his life.

He was a phenomenal teacher of Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Forensics at a private high school in Baton Rouge. Over 250 of his students, ex-students, and parents of students (current and former) took the time to attend the funeral and reminisce on a wonderful person, someone whom many said was simply the best teacher they ever knew - funny, tough, a believer in them and their dreams.

But, like many of the funniest among us, he had a very dark side. He drank more than he should have last weekend. That along with the confluence of a number of difficult personal tragedies lead him to unexpectedly end his life here on earth.

I am in part a little angry, a little hurt, but most of all sad at the waste, sad for his sadness. I cannot know his mind, I knew he hurt inside. I did not know how much. I am sad beyond words, beyond my own comprehension.

For my parent's sake, for my sibling's sake, for my sake, but mostly for his, may he find the peace in the next life which personally eluded a brilliant mind in this life.

Rest in Peace, Nathan Lloyd Bryant, brother and friend.

Update, 2nd Student Dies in Ohio School Shooting

Another gun death.  We need to be asking why it is people who shoot others did so, but more important is how did they get the guns with which to kill, wound, or threaten.

From MSNBC.com:
Second teen confirmed dead in Ohio school shooting
By NBC News and msnbc.com

A second teen was confirmed dead after a shooting at a high school in Chardon, Ohio, the medical examiner's office said Tuesday.

Russell King Jr., 17, was flown to Cleveland's MetroHealth Medical Center where he was treated but pronounced brain dead on Monday, NBC News reported.

Sixteen-year-old Daniel Parmertor also died when a teen opened fire inside a high school cafeteria at the start of the classes on Monday.
But hey - Wal Mart was a good corporate citizen.  It made money selling guns and ammo that winds up killing people in the communities where it operates.  Wal Mart sold Jared Loughner the ammo he used to shoot Gabby Giffords and so many others.  Why? Because there is money in selling ammo, no matter who uses it or what they use it for, so Wal Mart makes big donations to those who promote buying, selling, and using guns and ammo.  Legislators who make it easier for those sales to take place, and easier for people to shoot - including shooting other people -  get big donations from the Waltons and Wal Mart.  Fewer restrictions, less regulation, less accountability translates into private and corporate profits.

It makes big donations to ALEC and right wing politicians who promote easy guns and write laws like our own Shoot First legislation.  And then it allowed their local parking lot to be used to medivac the dead and dying and injured to the local hospitals by helicopter.

You can't criticize that kind of corporate responsibility can you? I think you can.  I think you should.

And we should criticize the gun culture and the right wing politicians as well as the individual shooter; they are all part of this shooting; some of them are simply more indirectly so than others.  These occurrences are far less frequent where there is more effective and more stringent gun regulation.

Also from MSNBC.com and the news services, more evidence that gun violence is learned, that it is a part of our gun culture we can choose not to embrace or to legitimize, including with our shoot first laws that leap too quickly to a deadly force solution.  Violence begets violence, and everyone who uses violence has some kind of justification for it, some excuse, even when it is not justified.  Shoot first legislation gives the emotional need to justify an importance, a validity, whether it is right or not, over the legitimizing of force by more objective criteria.  That criteria condemns the actions of this shooter, and would condemn the actions of other shooters if they did not conform to that objective, rather than a subjective criteria, in shootings.  It is no coincidence that it is the sellers of guns and ammo who want more lax standards for acceptable shootings. It makes them money, bloody money.  Follow the money.

Report: Teen in frame for Ohio shooting came from violent family
By msnbc.com staff, NBC News and news services

The teen who authorities believe was behind a shooting Monday in Chardon, Ohio, that killed two students and wounded three others had violence in his life from early on, Cleveland's Plain Dealer newspaper reported.
Court records showed that the suspect's father, Thomas Lane Jr., had been arrested several times for abusing women he had children with, including the teen's mother, the newspaper reported. The father had been warned to stay away from the teen's mother at least once, the records reportedly showed.

The suspect's family said through an attorney that they were struggling to comprehend what had happened a day after the worst U.S. high school shooting in nearly a year. Students at the high school outside of Cleveland were told to stay home Tuesday.

Police have not formally identified the suspected gunman, but students, parents of students and local media said his name was T.J. Lane, which was confirmed by NBC News.

It was not clear if T.J. Lane and his father had any contact, the newspaper reported.
Sketchy reports emerge on alleged high school gunman

Officials believe T.J. Lane opened fire inside a high school cafeteria at the start of the classes on Monday, killing 16-year-old Daniel Parmertor and wounding four others, police said.

Seventeen-year-old Russel King Jr. was pronounced dead on Monday, the medical examiner's office said Monday.

Second teen confirmed dead in Ohio school shooting
Three other teens were wounded in the shooting.

The suspect was taken into custody near his car a half-mile from the suburban Cleveland school after a teacher chased him from the building, according to FBI officials.

'Good kid'

When asked about the suspect, his lawyer called him a "good kid," according to NBC News' WKYC.

"By all accounts T.J. is a fairly quiet and good kid. His grades are pretty impressive," Bob Farinacci told WKYC. "He's a sophomore. He's been doubling up on his classes with the intent of graduating this May. He pretty much sticks to himself but does have some friends and has never been in trouble over anything that we know about."

Some fellow students called the 17-year-old quiet and sweet, although others said he had a temper, the Plain Dealer reported.

His now-deleted Facebook page showed one picture of him bare-chested and glaring at the camera, and another behind a huge teddy bear that bore a heart and the words "Be Mine," according to the newspaper.

He listed "primitive hunting" among his interests, the newspaper said.

The suspect's family said they were struggling to comprehend what had happened.

"The family wanted me to convey to the citizens of Geauga County and Northeastern Ohio that the family is devastated by this most recent event," Farinacci said in a statement. "They want to give their most heartfelt and sincere condolences to the family of the young man who passed and their continuing prayers are with all those who were injured. This is something that could never have been predicted. T.J.'s family has asked for some privacy while they try to understand how such a tragedy could have occurred and while they mourn this terrible loss for their community."

Seriously Republicans; Wyoming DOESN'T NEED IT'S OWN Aircraft Carrier

As I read this, it occurred to me that the Republican Crazies are running the Asylum in Wyoming, and the nut house is their state capital building.  Which is bad enough - but it's worse when you put the lunatics in charge of it.

What led me to think that the good legislators of Wyoming had cracked their nuts, gone mental, lost their grip on reality, or were perhaps suffering from some form of delusion, possibly dementia or schizophrenia was THIS news article.

Wyoming lawmaker introduces doomsday bill
By msnbc.com staff

CHEYENNE – Fearing an economic and political collapse nationwide, Wyoming lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation to deal with a doomsday scenario -- complete with plans to create a state currency.

“Things happen quickly sometimes — look at Libya, look at Egypt, look at those situations,” the bill’s GOP sponsor State Rep. David Miller told the Star-Tribune in Casper. “We wouldn’t have time to meet as a Legislature or even in special session to do anything to respond.”

According to the Star-Tribune, House Bill 85 would create a state-run “government continuity task force,” to prepare Wyoming for potential disruptions in food and energy to a complete breakdown of the federal government.

Miller is also asking for the task force to look into creating its own state currency in the event the dollar loses value entirely.

The Wyoming House of Representatives advanced the legislation on Monday, but eliminated language calling for plans to implement its own military draft, army and acquire an aircraft carrier.
The bill now must pass two more House votes before it would head to the Senate for consideration.

“I don’t represent people in Illinois or New Jersey. I represent people in Wyoming,” Miller said. “And I want them to be protected from any catastrophic events that may beset the rest of the country.”

Now, it just makes sense that the good legislators, especially the more bizarre and stupid Republicans and Tea Partiers among them, and the good citizens of Wyoming could be better spending their time on things like jobs bills and real-life real-world real-time practical matters, and less time on either culture war legislation requiring state religion and pseudo-scientific fantasy.

State Representative Miller, do you get your ideas on the same Internet sites as the right wing idiot in the Indiana state legislature, the one who believes the Girl Scouts are sexy Communist Lesbian Abortionists? Are you afraid, Representative Miller, because we have a black President? Are you marking on your calendar in red crayon the End Time Dayz, and maybe drooling just a little bit as you do so? Do you have this sign in a prominent place in your office -

or is this an image from your family Christmas card?

Sir, what did you think you were going to do, IF you could get an Aircraft Carrier - put it up on blocks in front of the capital building?   Maybe surround it with Buffalo grazing on the rolling grasslands of the prairie?

Just to refresh my memory of the state of Wyoming, from prior visits as a child - my parents thought I should be educated in the regional differences of the United States - I took a quick look at both topographical maps of Wyoming like this one, and a satellite photo of Wyoming.  Those confirm what I remember - no major bodies of water.  That water, behind the Buffalo Bill dam?  The reservoir from damming up the Shoshone river - it's NOT BIG ENOUGH for an aircraft carrier, sir.  But  more than that, there is no way to get an aircraft carrier there.  It is not practical to take one apart and reassemble it; they don't make them out of Legos.

Were you unaware Representative Miller, that Wyoming is not only a very landlocked state, having no ocean or Gulf/Sea access, but also a state which lacks a sufficiently large body of water for an aircraft carrier.  It's not like you're a Great Lakes state either, which could maybe, kinda, sorta, with a shoe-horn manage an aircraft carrier, if we could get one into the lakes in the first place - a big IF.  They are quite large, you know, those aircraft carriers.

You do realize that is a crazy idea, don't you Representative Miller?  Do you understand that ALL of your proposals under this legislation, like creating your own "apocalypse buffalo bucks" currency are equally stupid? 

I was a Girl Scout as a child; I do respect their motto 'Be Prepared'.  But Representative Miller, and all your right wing tin foil hat wearing colleagues in the legislature, that pertained to real solutions to real potential problems.  Despite the silly idea that the other right wing nut, the one in Indiana, has about the girl scouts, you could do far worse than to follow their motto, the very pragmatic and reality based way they do so.

Thank goodness the health care reform that you and your other crazy conservative buddies like to demonize as 'Obamacare' provides good mental health coverage; because you and anyone who supports this crack pot idea are more batshit crazy than Orly Taitz -----and that is pretty darn crazy.

Seriously, there was a time and place where conservatives were not so closely associated with off-the-wall out-to-lunch fringe lunatic ideas and legislation, where conservatives were reality-based intelligent people, who were moderate and savvy, thoughtful and well educated.

Then people like you came along Representative Miller, and changed all of that - and not for the better.

I am waiting and wishing that moderates, that less ideological fringe lunatics, will emerge from wherever they have gone into hiding, and will take back the GOP.  I'm waiting for that sunny, wonderful day when sanity will prevail on the right again, when the right will not be synonymous with stupid any longer, or with religious extremism, and some sort of demented Christian theocracy contrary to the Constitution.

Resign from the state legislature, Representative Miller; check yourself out of government and into a mental health facility with padded rooms.  It will bring that right wing swing back from the fringe lunacy to reality a little sooner.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Brilliant STrib Cartoonist, Steve Sack hits two more out of the park

This home grown Minnesota cartoonist is the best kind of locally grown genius.

These are two of my favorites of his recent work.

Personally, I'd like to see both parties - BOTH PARTIES - refuse to give a party endorsement to any candidate who does not genuinely live in the district where the candidate is running.  I don't care what state office, what federal office, even what county or local office.

If the conservatives are going to try to penalize and make voting more difficult by forcing voters to prove where they live, and that they are legal to vote there, shouldn't they be just as insistent about where their candidates live and that they represent those voters, including LIVING THERE?  Otherwise, I think it is legitimate to challenge that the candidates genuinely and fully represent those voters.

It is worth noting that the REPUBLICAN Secretary of State of Indiana violated this law in that state, and was subsequently convicted of voter fraud, perjury and theft, despite the state having enacted a very restrictive voter ID law.

If there was ever any proof that voter ID doesn't prevent voter fraud, that is the classic, strongest possible example.

and this one!
 When I volunteered to help candidates in the 2010 election races, going door to door was a big part of that campaigning.  It is equally a big part of people distributing informative material (and sometimes disinformative material), but also where candidates introduce themselves, and one way for polls to be conducted.  Like the Census takers, delivery people, service people from utilities, there are lots of people who may make an unscheduled visit for legitimate reasons to a person's doorstep.

The shoot first law makes it legal for a person to shoot based on their feelings, right or wrong, instead of them being required to do so on the basis of objective fact, objective threat not 'feelings, nothing more than Feeeeeeeeeeeeeeelings'.

Well done Steve!  Well done STrib!