Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Land of the free? Death by Regulation

I get way too much email. I received a copy of the following story back on April 29. It was first published on April 4th. Now that members of my family have begun to raise chickens in their yards, I have to confess this one hits a bit too close to home for me!

I will begin a very brief partial quote at the fourth paragraph:
The whole ordeal began only a few years ago, when [Andrew] Wordes [of Roswell, Georgia,] began to keep chickens in his backyard. His property was on 1 acre, but it was surrounded by secluded woods. He loved the birds, sold and gave away eggs to people and enjoyed showing kids the animals. He was also very good at this job, and being something of a free spirit, he chose to make something he loved his profession.

The city objected and came after him. In 2008, the zoning department issued a warning about the chickens on his property. This was odd because he was violating no ordinance at all; indeed, the code specifically approved chickens on properties of less than 2 acres. Even the mayor at the time objected to the department’s claim, but the department went ahead anyway. A year later, and with the assistance of former Gov. Roy Barnes, Wordes won in court!

But then look: The city council rewrote the law with no grandfather clause. It forbade more than six chickens on any lot, and specified that all chickens have to be in a permanent enclosure. He had tried to get approval for an enclosure, but because his house was on a flood plain, the city would not issue an approval. In the midst of this controversy, a flood did come to his house, and he had to use a Bobcat to move dirt around to save his house and his chickens.

Sure enough, the city then issued two citations for moving dirt without a permit and having illegal, unrestrained chickens. Then, the city refused to submit to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) his request for reconstruction funds after this storm (individuals on their own cannot get money of this sort). Next, the city contacted his mortgage holder, who was a friend and who had carried his mortgage for 16 years, and pressured her to sell the mortgage to stay out of legal trouble.

Do you get the sense from this that Mr. Wordes was being targeted? Absolutely. And he knew it, too. The Roswell Police Department pulled him over constantly and issued as many tickets as possible for whatever reason, tangling him in more difficulties. Police cars would wait in front of his house and follow him. And when he didn’t cough up enough money (he was nearly bankrupt after all this), they would book him and throw him in jail. This happened on several occasions. Meanwhile, the city itself filed several more suits against him.

It gets worse. The city planners came up with a “Roswell 2030 Plan” that posited a parks area exactly where his home was. Hearing of this, Wordes offered to sell his home to the city, but the city refused. They clearly planned to drive him out of it with this legal barrage. It didn’t matter that Wordes won every legal challenge or managed to get the suits thrown out in court — that only made the city angrier. Eventually, the city managed to a get probated sentence, setting up a tripwire that would eventually destroy his livelihood.

He posted on his Facebook account that he was going to be a attending a political event. While he was gone, his chickens were poisoned. Also poisoned were the baby turkeys, 10 of which were actually owned by the mayor, who was a friend. At this point, he had lost his means of support. While panicked about what to do, he missed a probation check-in. He was ordered to serve the remainder of his probated sentence in jail for 99 days.

While in jail, his home was ransacked and looted. Of course, the police did nothing. In fact, they probably approved it. Also while in jail, the new mortgage holder foreclosed on his home. His entire life was now in shambles. . . .
Read the title of this article. The story doesn't end prettily. And, sadly, I'm afraid it provides fodder for the comments Fabius Maximus makes about people's preferences concerning freedom and slavery. Are we really willing to fight for freedom? Or, are we more like Martin Niemoller in his famous observation:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.
I'm afraid Maximus is correct (for the very reasons to which Niemoller alludes):
A theme of the original Star Trek is that humanity was not meant for slavery; we always rise up and fight for freedom. That seemed plausible when I watched those shows as a child. Unfortunately, history shows that rebellions against internal elites are rare. Successful revolutions are still more so (even partial successes, such as France 1789). In fact subjects in well-managed societies (eg, tyrannies, oligarchies) wear the yoke comfortably.

More common is evolution in the other direction, our subject for today. The transition from citizen to subject is a bitter one.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Applaud a brave judge . . .

"Fabius Maximus" is one of the most clear-headed analysts I've read. I thought his plaudits for Judge Katherine Forrest were well-deserved on her part and well-written on his.

Yes, we are in desperate need of more judges like her!

The U.S. government is going the way of the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Think note? Please be sure to check out the linked article about Abu Zubaydah. You think you couldn't possibly be him?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Amazing use of water and light . . .

Engrish Brog brought this to my attention. It is a water fountain clock at the Osaka JR Line Train Station, Osaka, Japan.

The light source is constant. What changes is water flow, obviously controlled by computer.

Brilliant! Fun! And as one commenter notes, "I'm afraid I would miss my train."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pretty amazing . . .

Perhaps you've seen this picture before? . . . At least one like it:

It always amazed me how relaxed these high-steel "skywalkers" were when in their element. No safety harnesses. Totally relaxed.

Of course, people--the building developers, general contractors, as well as most of the workers--pretty much assumed and accepted that one or two men (or possibly more) would die on every construction job. Those were "just" the risks you had to accept. It was a risky profession. (Interesting case study on the subject available here. Also well worth reading: High Steel by Jim Rasenberger. See, especially, places like p. 247 where you find stories of the workers' own opposition to safety regulations.)

I could continue down that path, but that wasn't, actually, the reason I wanted to show this picture. The reason I wanted to show this picture is . . . well, please take another look.

Anything bother you visually about it? If not, it should.

The photo has been manipulated. Can you discern how and where?

Besides being flipped (notice that all four guys are "lefties"), there's something else "wrong." Indeed, impossible.

Take your time. You'll get it.

See it?

It's an impossible object like the Penrose Triangle or Devil's Tuning Fork:

. . . --the kind of thing M.C. Escher specialized in.

But now in photos?!?

. . . The problem is, I can't figure out how the manipulator did this (I'm assuming it's a him, though, of course, it's a possibility a woman might do such a thing. But, for some reason, I get the feeling this is the kind of thing men do more often than women). . . .


Here's the original:

Perhaps I need to flip the manipulated image back and then superimpose the two photos so I can discern what is going on. . . .

Hope you had fun!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pachelbel's Canon in D

An insightful and passionate rant about one of the most famous pieces of classical music . . . by musical comedian Rob Paravonian.

Excuse the language. . . .

Friday, May 11, 2012

Awe-inspiring dance

I will confess I am not normally a fan of ballet, but . . . sometimes . . .

Maybe this one will bring a gasp to your mouth or a tear to your eye.

How do you do an en pointe while standing on someone's shoulder? Or on his head? And a pirouette in the same position?!?

Another one of those performances that leaves you shaking your head wondering "How do they do that?!?"

I would hate to be the woman in this dance. Although I would hate to be the man, too. If he made one false move, could he live with himself?

INCREDIBLE Swan Lake Dance - Like you have never seen before! from hulahan on GodTube.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Oh, man! Break your heart . . . and/or make you pursue a higher goal

I dragged the scroll bar forward about 10 seconds every 2 seconds of watching; I can read the cards faster than she flips them. But . . . oh! What a message!

Tears in my eyes.

May I never be so cruel.

Video. (Sorry. No tool to embed it.)

And a link to her website: About Lizzie: Be Beautiful, Be You.