Archive for November, 2009

Choosing the right words

This post is a few weeks late. I was not sure I even wanted to post the photo as some will certainly find it offensive. The choice of imagery used by those organizing the protest was chosen exactly to offend those with whom they disagree, and thus extract an argument. The chord the display struck with me, however, was not one the organizers likely intended. Take a look and see what your initial reaction is, and then scroll past the photo to read my reaction.

Words are important, use the right ones.

Words are important, use the right ones.

When I came across the “Warning Genocide Photos Ahead” signs early in the morning, the main display had yet to be erected. I figured perhaps there was some Holocaust memorial display going up for whatever reason, or perhaps a radical anti-war protest was setting up a display. Either way, the probability anything that would phase me would be shown was very low. You do not spend 26 months in a combat zone without seeing things most people should never have to see.

A few hours passed, and the display was put up for all to see. I was wrong in my assumptions, and was greeted by an anti-abortion display. That’s all good and well. Personally, I do not believe it is the government’s business at all to legislate the medical decisions between a physician and a woman. I also strongly believe in personal responsibility. Either way, you live with the choices you make.

My reaction was not really even related to the imagery, which certainly distressed several students that passed by the very central location in front of the library. No, my reaction had much more to do with the application of language. Hyperbole is often used when a group seeks to garner attention, and this is certainly no exception.

The first, and most obvious, use of sheer hyperbole is in their most brightly colored sign which reads WARNING GENOCIDE PHOTOS AHEAD. On one hand, there actually are a few images from the Holocaust and that certainly amounts to the deliberate and systemic killing of all people of a specific demographic. On the other hand, it would be foolish to assume the warnings were directed at the inclusion of the Holocaust photos instead of the photos of aborted fetuses. As the warning clearly applied to the abortion photos, someone failed to grasp or apply the word genocide very well. For abortion to amount to genocide, there would need to be a concerted effort to eliminate all Homo sapiens sapiens fetuses. Logically, such a concerted effort would be a genocide of the highest degree as far as our species ought to be concerned. An effort on that scale would absolutely threaten us with extinction. Fortunately for our species, no such effort exists. For nearly two decades the slope of the graph representing the abortion rate in the United States has been a negative average value. Genocide was a poorly chosen and improperly used word.

My other issues are not quite as clear cut, linguistically. One of the large signs brings up the concept of Constitutional Rights, something rather dear to me considering the oath I took (twice). Generally, anytime I read those two words together I assume the user has not once actually read the Constitution. Experience has proven this to be a wise assumption, and I will continue to operate under that assumption here. I asked one of the protesters what exactly that sign meant, and was greeted with a poorly educated answer. In short, the inclusion of any potential for the pending health-care reform measures to direct any funds to the procedure of an abortion has been equated with a constitutional right. If ever there was a stretch, this is it. While a law may certainly pass making abortion a procedure paid for by the government, such a law would in no way make abortion a constitutional right. Some might even argue such a law would be entirely unconstitutional. At any rate, unless Congress proposes an amendment explicitly proclaiming a right to abortion, a constitutional right it is not.

From there I cannot help but dive into a little scientific argument. The abortion-by-choice rate, globally, is far lower than the rate by which embryonic growth is rejected by nature itself. Full, or even partial, term birth is not the normal outcome of fertilization in our species. If pregnancy is detected early, and the conscious decision is made to act against that pregnancy it cannot really be said with any certainty that the result would have been live birth had such a conscious decision not been made. Of course you cannot say for sure that nature would reject the pregnancy either, but rejection does in fact happen quite often. If you want to draw up some more hyperbole, these protesters ought to actually protest fertilization, as the body is more likely to abort than it is to carry to term. If you want to apply a little Washington-style circular logic, these very protesters should support an action that would actually be genocide.

The moral of the story? Words matter. Pick the right ones when making an argument, and make sure you actually understand the subject matter before you put yourself in a position from which you may have to answer difficult (or even easy) questions.

Been busy

My blog has been pretty idle lately, mostly because I have been all kinds of busy with homework. I am behind on a ride report, photos from a Dallas Cowboys game, and some geeky posts as well. I will get around to all of that at some point. I hope.

FJR Farkle Chronicles: Mounting a Givi.

Back in July, I bought a very lightly used 2006 FJR1300A for an excellent price. Since then, I have put roughly 6000 miles on the motorcycle and have started a list of things I will add to the bike. Up at the top of the list was the installation of a rear case. The FJR already had side cases, but I commute on my FJR and added space cargo space is a plus in my book.

Google, and a few helpful motorcycle forums brought me to the Givi V46 and SW-MOTECH mounts. After spending a hair less than $440, the UPS man brought me the mounting hardware, and the V46. Once the UH Cougars were finished losing to UCF, I headed to the garage to mount the case. It took very little time, and very few tools. Anyone could install this setup, with ease.

A New Conclusion

In an earlier post, I came to a few conclusions about engaging my mind and finishing what I started in 2001. A new conclusion has been formed as of today.

I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life.

People have been asking me for the better part of a decade what I want to do with my life. I have never known. There are a lot of things I enjoy a lot. Playing guitar. Fixing cars. Driving fast. Motorcycles. Shooting (guns or cameras). At the top of those fields, when engaged in a professional capacity, earning potential is immense. Getting to those levels is probably harder than earning a PhD in Nanotechnology, if for no other reason than how important dumb luck is in reaching those heights.

The most phenomenal guitarist I have ever heard was playing in an alley behind the cathedral in Barcelona. He did not need any special effects or a double necked guitar to make it sound like he was playing three guitars at once. Neither Steve Vai, nor Joe Satriani could hold a candle to this guy. Both of them probably make more per show than that guy will make in his entire life. Skill was not the determining factor here, Lady Luck dealt the cards and Mr. Barcelona Alley Guitarist drew a pair of twos against the royal flushes of Vai and Satriani.

Right now, I am doing everything I can do to meet the requirements for admissions in to the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. My thoughts are that graduating with an engineering degree probably opens more doors for me than the journalism degree I was chasing at Texas State. The unanswerable question, for me at least, is do any of those doors open to anything I actually want to do? I just do no know.

I will finish a degree, in something. Too many people with whom I served died trying to get an honorable discharge and finish school on Uncle Sam’s dime for me to have made it out alive and not use my benefits to the fullest. My only hope at this point is that I figure some of the above out before I run out of time and money.

Veteran’s Day 2009

The local VFW post, where I happen to be a member, asked if I would take photos of one of the various events they were organizing (or supporting) on Veteran’s Day this year. If ever there was a good reason to skip calculus class, honoring those that wore the uniform before I did certainly qualifies. Photo slideshow below (click “View Original Post” if you’re reading this on Facebook).

Wings Over Houston 2009

Slideshow below. I may edit this later and actually write a few things about the show. Know that I definitely had a good time. I loved airshows when I was a kid. Not much has changed.

Austin City Limits 2009

Yeah, I know I’m late. Better late than never though. Slideshow below. I only took my camera to the final day of ACL. The weather was less than optimal for enjoying the weekend, and I probably will not be paying for ACL tickets again in the future. Lackluster lineups combine with the inability of Austin to really support the kind of crowd the festival draws to leave me rather disinterested in going again.

That said, Dave Matthews put on a hell of a show, as did Pearl Jam. It is well known that I will do stupid things to see either of those groups live. The end.

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