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Friday, May 30, 2014

The history of corporate welfare to Planned Parenthood

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Following is a history of the funds granted to Planned Parenthood by the Bloomington City Council over the last fifteen years through the Jack Hopkins social services funding program.

1999Medical exam table$5,000.00
2000Teen education (Community Development Block Grants)$2,000.00
2001Equipment to test for anemia$1,394.00
2002Autoclave for sterilizing instruments$1,495.00
2003Purchase four computers $3,600.00
2004Six sets of cervical biopsy equipment$2,923.00
2005Security cameras and equipment$1,500.00
2006Cabinetry, files and furniture for the front desk renovation$2,440.00
2007Wellness exams for the Friend to Friend Patient Pass program$5,000.00
2008Colposcopies for women with abnormal Pap testresults$2,500.00
2009No funding granted$0.00
2010Recession Rx program$5,000.00
2011HIV test kits.$4,200.00
2012No funding granted$0.00
2013Office visits, STD tests, HIV testing, pregnancy testing, pap smears, colposcopies and biopsies$4,930.00

Here is the archive of my articles about this scandal.

My articles about the most recent request for corporate welfare are here and here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Evaluating emotions instead of logic

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Here is an excellent observation by Mike Adams on the state of modern political discourse:

First, there is the tendency to respond to the tone rather than the substance of an argument. Second, there is the tendency to project motives of anger and fear onto others simply because they hold a different opinion. Gone are the days when we evaluated arguments. Today we evaluate emotions.

This is a perfect description of how public discourse has devolved, especially on the internet. It also perfectly describes how a number of Leftists respond to the arguments I make - not by attacking my argument but by psychoanalyzing me as a person. A sampling of what's been said about me in Herald-Times comments:

Look how often he employs "shame." That tells us much him as a person and his world. It informs us how he was coerced from stage 1 to stage 2. This is obviously an extreme and seemingly permanent form of stage 2 spiritual development.


I really worry about people who obsess about things that don't affect them at all personally. While so many other things that do affect them personally seem to go unnoticed... You seem to be a very unhappy and bitter man.


Fundemental Peck stage 2 compliance from Tibbs. The tragedy, of course, is that he can never experience God from that level. Stage 2 is submission.

It is very amusing that people who have never met me can make these observations from behind a computer screen.

Analyzing someone's psychological profile is a quick, cheap and easy way to distract from the argument. It is not exactly new - I have been called hateful and bitter for the better part of two decades by people who do not want to (or are unable to) engage my arguments on a rational basis. It's the same ad hominem attack on the lines of "racist, sexist, bigot, homophobic" - designed to put someone on the defensive and make them defend themselves personally so the accuser does not have to deal with an uncomfortable argument or set of facts.

A large portion of our society has lost the ability to think critically and to evaluate arguments using logic. Because of that, people often react emotionally to something they dislike - they take disagreement with their beliefs as a personal affront to them. It should not be surprising, then, that they react to disagreement by directly attacking the person making the "offensive" argument instead of dealing with the argument itself. They certainly are not going to think critically about their own arguments and whether they actually are correct.

So how do we deal with this? There is not much that can be done to convince people who refuse to argue with logic instead of emotion. The way to deal with them is not to be distracted by their efforts to send the discussion down a rabbit trail and instead pound away with the argument and/or facts they refuse to address.

For the future, we should demand that our government school system teach critical thinking skills and (more importantly) teach those skills to our own children. There are few things more rewarding to a parent than a child pointing out where the parent is wrong - it shows that we have trained them well.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Observations about role-playing games

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Here are some notes about things that I find interesting in computer role-playing games. (I have very little experience with RPGs after the year 2000. These observations are about games in the 16-bit era in the 1990's.)

First, your character or party can march right into the castle and walk up to the king. In any realistic medieval setting, you would probably not get into the castle at all, much less get anywhere near the king. You would probably spend some time in the dungeon if you were not executed on the spot for being so brazen.

You can also walk into people's houses uninvited, and there is rarely (if ever) any objection from the people in the house at this random group of adventurers barging into their home. Then you can look through their drawers and cabinets for items and gold, again with no objection. One notable exception to this was one of the Phantasy Star games for the Sega Genesis (later remade for other platforms) where another party member scolds the main character for trying to steal - and you are not allowed to steal anything. It was an amusing exception to the rule.

Beyond the concept of fighting battles to gain experience points to level up your party (which you just have to roll with) it is also amusing that monsters carry gold. While it makes sense that bandits or any sort of intelligent creature would carry gold, it does not make sense that wolves, bats and other animals would be carrying gold that you can just pick up and use to buy things. Again, for purposes of grinding for gold or experience, you need to suspend disbelief and just play the game - but it is not exactly logical.

Finally, all RPGs should have a "new game plus." This option (which is not always called that) allows the player to start a new game with the end-game party once the final boss has been killed. Chrono Trigger pioneered this way back in 1995, though you had to do more than simply kill the final boss. You had to go through another floating fortress in order to have that option. But there are few things in video games that are more satisfying than fighting that boss that caused so much frustration in the first play through only to completely annihilate him with an overpowered party.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." -- John 15:13

Sunday, May 25, 2014

County recorder Jim Fielder dies at 58

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 AM (#)

I've known Jim for 12 years. You'll never find a more dedicated public servant than him - some may equal his dedication but none surpass it.

County government has lost a valuable source of institutional knowledge and experience.

More importantly, many of us have lost a friend. God bless you, Jim.

County recorder Jim Fielder dies at 58.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Google Plus and MySpace

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

A friend of mine once compared Google Plus to MySpace - but that's unfair to MySpace. After all, MySpace was a big deal in 2005-2006, and even into 2007 before Facebook crushed it. Google Plus is more like Friendster - a social network that never even got off the ground.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Using weakness to oppress others

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

I said on Monday that "it is common in our culture for people to use their suffering to oppress others." This was underlined last week in a whining screed by a recovering alcoholic. Starbucks should not serve alcohol, he says, because it will be a temptation to people recovering from alcoholism.

So because some recovering alcoholics find it difficult to be around alcohol, everyone who could potentially enjoy a glass of wine or a high-quality beer at Starbucks must be denied the opportunity to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. It is the same mentality that has led government to require that everyone buying certain cold medicines to "show their papers" because some people use it as the primary ingredient to manufacture meth.

At least the government is not prohibiting Starbucks from serving alcohol - not yet, anyway.

I understand that alcoholism is a physical addiction as well as a social and psychological addiction, but many recovering alcoholics are capable of being in a place where alcohol is served without relapsing. It is easier to avoid the temptation completely, sure - but part of being an adult is exercising self-control (even when that is extremely difficult) instead of denying other people the opportunity to enjoy something you cannot.

It is good that we as a society are sensitive to those who are hurting or those who face unique challenges, but we have become so perverse that weakness and victimhood are now weapons to oppress others. We have gone too far in the direction of sensitivity, and we should not allow ourselves to be defined by our "victim identity."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Like it or not, Donald Sterling has a point

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Let's get this out of the way, before we do anything else. For Donald Sterling to criticize Magic Johnson's sexual history in the 1980's while he commits adultery with a mistress young enough to be his granddaughter is the height of hypocrisy. That said, Sterling does make a legitimate point about Johnson as a role model, given his history.

Johnson admitted to having sex with between 300 and 500 women a year. That is a shameful and wicked lifestyle. For his own selfish pleasure, Johnson had sex with hundreds and hundreds of women, many of which he would never see again. It is likely that there are a number of children out there who will never know their biological father, a basketball star who had drive-by sex and was never seen again.

For all of the whining about Sterling's comment being "despicable," it shows even pagans like Sterling can recognize Biblical truth now and again. After all, there is a reason the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:18 that those who commit sexual sin are sinning against their own body. Can anyone honestly deny that being infected with the virus that causes AIDS was a direct result of Johnson's wickedness?

We should also not forget the inherent misogyny in Johnson's deathstyle in the 1980's. Women were not human beings to be cared for, in Johnson's world. They were pieces of meat to be exploited sexually and then discarded and forgotten. Many of the same people who are outraged by Sterling's remarks would consider themselves feminists. I honestly cannot understand how one can embrace feminism and still defend this level of misogyny.

Magic Johnson has done much good over the last twenty years with his charitable endeavors. He says he is a Christian, and if so he is forgiven of his wicked and woman-hating ways. But if Johnson is truly a Christian, he should be recognizing that what he did was sinful rebellion against the God he claims to serve, rather than attacking someone who points out that what he did was wicked. Our culture hates shame and we hate any restriction on our libido, so it is more important than ever for Christians to say "no" when our culture is embracing even the worst sexual excesses.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Do we even live in America anymore?

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM (#)

The story of a Florida inmate being tortured to death by guards is absolutely horrific. Do we even live in America any more, or have we become Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union?

Peanut Butter Pie

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

This is always a hit whenever I make it, so here is the recipe for peanut butter pie.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Drugging toddlers for behaving like toddlers

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM (#)

Here is a really good editorial by Matt Walsh on the over-medication of our children. I agree that drugging a toddler because he behaves like a toddler is child abuse, and it is nothing short of a national scandal that the medical establishment is going along with this nonsense.

In defense of capital punishment

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

The botched execution of a truly evil man in Oklahoma has brought the debate over the death penalty to the forefront. One interesting exchange involved comparing statistics, but before we can get into debating issues around the death penalty we must establish where our philosophical foundation is. For me, that is the clear commandment of Scripture for the civil magistrate to use capital punishment for certain crimes.

Men and women are made in the image of God, and committing murder is therefore an attack on God's image. When the ultimate crime is committed, the ultimate penalty is required to punish that crime. The murderer does not have a right to life - he knowingly and willingly surrendered his right to life the moment he snuffed out the life of a man or woman made in the image of God. Executing murderers is not an option for the civil magistrate to choose. It is a commandment that we can either obey or rebel against.

Obviously, we must be sure that people who are executed are actually guilty, and more reforms are needed in ensuring the fairness of the criminal justice system - not just for capital crimes but across the board. The most effective way to do this is harsh and severe criminal penalties for government officials (especially prosecutors) who violate civil rights by doing things like withholding exculpatory evidence. This cannot be a slap on the risk, like disbarring someone. This must be decades upon decades behind bars.

Even if we know people are guilty, some argue that the death penalty is applied in a "racist" manner. Frankly, I could not possibly care less about the skin pigmentation of the murderers or their victims. If someone has been found to have committed murder, convicted by a jury of his peers after a fair trial, he needs to die. If blacks are executed more often than whites for similar crimes, or vice versa, does not change the facts of each individual case. If a murderer deserves to die, it does not matter what the statistics look like. He must die. "Fairness" is irrelevant. The solution is to expand application of the death penalty, not reduce it.

There is obviously room for reform in our criminal justice system, and there are perverse incentives in that system that need to be eliminated. But the death penalty is a good thing, because it is the only way to truly have justice for the worst among us. We should address and repair the flaws in our death penalty system instead of rebelling against the clear commandment given to us by God.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Random thoughts of the day

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

♣ - It is common in our culture for people to use their suffering to oppress others. Such is the case with this post rebuking churches for celebrating Mothers' Day. There is no end to the things we could not celebrate if we embraced this nonsense. Some women may not be able to be mothers, some may have lost their mothers at a young age, some may have grown up without a father, some people may have painful memories of Christmas, and so on. Celebrating Valentine's Day is out because some are single and lonely. This attitude is absurd, wicked, and faithless.

♣ - We had a major victory in the never-ending battle for civil liberties when Minnesota passed a law making it illegal for law enforcement to seize (steal) property unless someone is actually convicted of a crime. Civil asset forfeiture is a major nationwide scandal, and Minnesota should be praised for this small step in protecting private property rights. It should be pointed out that the Constitution does not make a distinction between criminal and civil proceedings when it says that people cannot be deprived of property without due process.

♣ - In all of the things we are told the church must do to "attract Millenials," everyone seems to be forgetting what the purpose of religion is supposed to be. The church is not a political party that seeks to win elections. The only purpose of the church is to glorify and honor God. It should be expected that such a goal will be unpopular and will "drive people away" from the church. The Bible is filled with admonitions (such as in John 15:18-20) to seek the approval of God rather than the approval of men.

♣ - With X-Men: Days of Future Past coming out later this week, I finally read the original comic story from 1980. It was an excellent story, and the thing I was most impressed with was how the finale was so open-ended. It will be interesting to see how the movie changes and adapts the story. There are a few major changes in the movie that are already obvious. There will be no expanded Marvel Universe (the Sentinels also exterminated the Avengers and Fantastic Four), Charles Xavier was dead and Magneto was crippled in the beginning of the story, and it was Kitty Pryde (not Wolverine) who was possessed by the mind of her future self.

♣ - As a reminder (because apparently some state legislators are ignorant of the law) assault and battery is already illegal in all 50 states. There is absolutely no reason to pass yet another law making it illegal twice. The hysteria over the "knockout game" is nothing more than a racial panic about "black thugs." It is shameful.

♣ - When I voted in the primary election, I found that the convention delegate candidates were missing from my ballot. I was told there were more spots than candidates, so everyone was going to win anyway. While I understand that, I strongly disagree with it. All candidates should always be on the ballot. And how are we supposed to know who the top vote-getters are if no one gets any votes at all?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Parking meters do not work!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 12:00 PM (#)

I have tried several times to use a credit card to pay for parking in downtown Bloomington. It has never worked. I have been accused of lying about this so I am documenting the defective meters.

No corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Bloomington Herald-Times, May 16, 2014 (Comments)

To the Editor:

It is time for the annual farce surrounding the Jack Hopkins Social Services fund to come to an end. The Bloomington City Council needs to reject Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky's (PPINK) request for yet another handout.

The social services funding program is meant to be for a one-time expense, but PPINK is asking for operating funds. While PPINK is not running as large of a budget surplus as they have in years past, the organization has run huge surpluses year after year. The City Council has given PPINK handouts despite these huge surpluses, denying funds to social service organizations that actually need help.

This is a political game, nothing more. Planned Parenthood is seeking a political endorsement from city government. They fact that they are asking for operating funds makes this even more obscene. The social services fund should be to help social service agencies help the needy in Bloomington, not to make a pro-abortion political statement as the city council has done nearly every year since 1999.

Our city leaders should stop forcing us to subsidize an organization that performs the morally abhorrent act of abortion, regardless of whether or not those funds go to "abortion services."

Friday, May 16, 2014

A shocking upset in West Virginia

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM (#)

File this in the "do not believe the doubters" folder - a 17 year old high school senior unseated an incumbent state legislator in a Republican primary election in West Virginia. Whatever you think of the politics involved, this is an inspirational story.

Fighting rape on college campuses

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

All of the talk about protecting women on college campuses raises some very disturbing and frightening questions and presents a clear and present danger to our Constitution. Obviously, rapists need to be harshly punished and the innocent need to be protected, but why are college campuses dealing with this at all?

See articles on this issue here and here and here and here and here.

The idea that university administrators should be the ones dealing with rape on campus is absolutely absurd. Rape is a violent crime, and the place for violent crime to be prosecuted is in the criminal justice system - not a university judicial system. The worst thing a university can do to a rapist (even after shockingly violent rapes) is to expel someone from campus. Well, whoop de diddly do. We often hear about criminals getting a slap on the wrist, but a slap on the wrist would be more serious than expulsion. Criminals need jail time, not academic discipline.

It may be true that if all of the rape cases that happen on campus were prosecuted in the criminal justice system, it would place a strain on the system. The solution to that is easy. Simply take all of the money spent on prosecuting nonviolent crimes via the War on Drugs and move that money into prosecuting violent crime instead. Someone smoking dope in his home might be a fool, but he is not a threat to anyone else. Rapists are a real threat.

The clear and present danger to our Constitution comes from the Obama regime's determination that universities establish a clearly illegal "preponderance of the evidence" standard in prosecuting students accused of sexual assault. In some cases, the accused is not allowed to even confront his accuser in the campus "judicial" proceeding, much less have access to an attorney as demanded by the Constitution.

That is such a shocking violation of due process rights that I am stunned that there is not more public outrage about the Obama regime's betrayal of our constitutional protections. This alone is grounds for impeachment. One need only look at how the faculty and administration at Duke so-called "University" rushed to form a lynch mob when the lacrosse team was falsely accused of "rape" to see how dangerous this is.

We need to take rape seriously, and many universities sadly do not. This leaves victims hanging and creates an opportunity for rapists to attack more women. The solution is certainly not to throw the Constitution and due process rights into the garbage can as the Obama regime proposes.

The solution is to place prosecution of rape back where it belongs - in the criminal justice system. The role of universities should be only to provide support for victims, and keep the alleged victim and accused separated, if need be. Let police and prosecutors handle crime. University discipline should be reserved for things like plagiarism.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The need for speed and the politics of panics

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:00 AM (#)

Here is a great editorial on drug panics:

By 2005, when Newsweek identified "The Meth Epidemic" as "America's New Drug Crisis" in a sensational cover story, illicit methamphetamine use had been declining for years. In the National Survey on Drug and Health (NSDUH), the number of respondents who reported consuming meth in the previous year fell by about a quarter between 2002, the first year the survey was conducted, and 2005, when Newsweek cried "epidemic."

Data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an earlier version of the NSDUH, suggest that meth use during this period peaked around 1999, six years before Newsweek discerned a "new drug crisis."

Read more at Reason.com.

Robert James Campbell

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 3:00 AM (#)

As we consider the stay of execution granted to Robert James Campbell, let's not forget what he did to get the death penalty in the first place. He kidnapped, raped and robbed a young woman. He gave her the chance to run away, and then he shot her in the back for sport. Campbell is truly an evil man. The sooner he is dead, the better. The world will be a much better place when he is dead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Two new posts on Hoosier Access

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM (#)

Hoosier Access has been dormant for a while, so it is great to see new content being posted on the blog.

Here are two new posts:

Follow Hoosier Access on Facebook and Twitter and Google Plus.

Thoughts on blog hosting services

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

If there is one thing I dislike about Blogspot, it is that the date does not appear on each post on the main or archive page. The date does appear on each post on the archive page for blogs hosted at WordPress.com and Tumblr, so I have looked at both services to see what they have to offer.

The problem with WordPress.com is that (as far as I know) you cannot customize your theme nearly to the extent you can on Blogspot. (And the customization that is available requires an annual subscription, as does mapping your domain.) Tumblr has some cool social media features, but it does not have a native comment system, so you have to use a third-party comment system like Disqus.

I have actually thought about moving to WordPress.com (which allows users to import both posts and comments from Blogspot) but the lack of customization has been a barrier to that. I have also considered moving to Tumblr (I already have a Tumblr page) but I cannot import posts, so that has prevented me from making the switch there.

As it stands now, I have moved around too many times already, between Blogspot and self-hosted. That is why the posts on the archives between 2003 and 2009 are not on this blog. If I ever do move (and unless something changes I have no intention of moving) it needs to be my final move.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Question regarding "Click It or Ticket"

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:30 PM (#)

When this law was passed, didn't the state legislature promise that people would not be pulled over for not wearing a seat belt? That promise did not last long...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lethal injection should be abolished

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

I am an enthusiastic supporter of capital punishment, but I hate lethal injection and I think it should be abolished. The problem with lethal injection is that we are a nation of liars, hypocrites and cowards. We do not want to actually admit that we are killing people, so we make it antiseptic. We are hiding the truth behind an antiseptic, "safe" and "humane" wall of lies and deception. It is despicable.

Instead of terminating a murderer's life in a way that there is absolutely no question what we are doing, We make it look like he is being prepped for surgery. We put a needle in his arm as he drifts peacefully off to sleep. Done. No pain, no muss, no fuss. (In theory. More on that later.) We do not have to face the truth, and we do not need to see the reality of what we are doing.

I hate lethal injection. I hate it.

We need to be honest about what we're doing. We need to have a spine and tell the truth. The message should be very clear: "This person deserves to die and we are going to kill him." So we kill him via a firing squad, the electric chair or by hanging him. (The men who included a prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment in our Constitution would laugh at the notion that those methods listed above are cruel or unusual.) But we should never use lethal injection.

Executions should be violent. I am not saying we should torture people to death, but forcibly ending someone's life is an inherently violent act and it should be obvious to all what we are doing. Making it look like we're prepping someone for life-saving surgery is cowardly lies and hypocrisy.

As to the procedure itself, lethal injection is in a mess right now because state governments have had a difficult time getting the drugs used to kill people. (Which would not be a problem if we were shooting, hanging or electrocuting prisoners.) Because we are using untested methods, we are essentially conducting human experimentation. Alternate methods of execution should be used if only because they are more reliable.

Finally, lethal injection inappropriately mixes medicine with killing. Doctors administer the drugs that cause death, when executing prisoners should be the job of an executioner. (Obviously.) We should not be asking our medical professionals to kill people, and having a doctor do the killing is another way for us to lie about what we are doing and pretend it is something else. If we are going to kill people, then we should kill them and be honest about it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Good riddance Rebecca Kubacki

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 11:30 AM (#)

I am overjoyed that "Republican" state representative Rebecca Kubacki has been fired from her job as a state legislator.

Good riddance.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Time to end corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

The following is an open letter to the Bloomington City Council.

----Original Message Follows----
From: Scott Tibbs [mailto:tibbs1973@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 6:59 PM
To: mayert@bloomington.in.gov; ruffa@bloomington.in.gov; sandbers@bloomington.in.gov; sturbauc@bloomington.in.gov; grangerd@bloomington.in.gov; spechlem@bloomington.in.gov; rollod@bloomington.in.gov; neherd@bloomington.in.gov; volans@bloomington.in.gov
Subject: Time to end corporate welfare for Planned Parenthood


Once again, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky is asking you for a grant from the Jack Hopkins social services funding program, and once again I am imploring you to reject their application for corporate welfare. This annual farce needs to end, and this is the year to end it.

The Hopkins program is supposed to be a "one time" investment for a specific project or program, but since PPINK has come to you year after year asking you to give them other people's money, the idea that this is a "one time" situation is a laughable farce. PPINK even admits on Page 2 of its application that this is for operational funds. It is one thing to force us to subsidize true one time investments (though office furniture and computers hardly represent a pressing social service program) but forcing us to subsidize PPINK's operating budget is a bridge too far.

In the most recent fiscal report on its website, PPINK reports taking in $14,397,299 and spending $14,343,147. The budget surplus is not as huge as it has been in past years (making your repeated handouts to them even more absurd) but given how wealthy PPINK has been historically, it is not fiscally prudent to give them yet another handout.

Simply put, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky does not need another handout from city government. There is more than enough money floating around between the national organization and all affiliates that the limited funding in the Hopkins program can go to deserving organizations.

Of course, the most offensive part about being forced to fund Planned Parenthood for thousands of your constituents is not that PPINK does not need the money, but that PPINK performs abortions at its South Walnut facility every Thursday. It is wholly inappropriate for city government to force taxpayers to subsidize an organization that performs an act we find morally abominable, regardless of whether the money goes to "abortion services."

It is time to stop disrespecting your constituents - to say nothing of the truly needy organizations who are denied funding - by abusing the Hopkins social services fund to issue a political endorsement for pro-abortion politics. Please deny PPINK's funding request, and use the money entrusted to you by taxpayers in a more fiscally responsible and less morally abhorrent manner.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Movie Review: Amazing Spider-Man 2

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Warning: There are spoilers in this review.

Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a very cluttered movie, and would have been better if it was split into two movies so the story could be given more time. The ending was very gutsy, even if it mirrored a comic book story from decades ago. The final scene was wasted, and Harry Osborn's last scene should have been an after-credits scene. The actual after-credits scene was terrible, and was an unfair tease of the audience.

We open with Spider-Man taking on some Russian thugs stealing radioactive material. This scene goes on way too long, and while it is both action-packed and humorous it does not capture the Spider-Man character well. Spider-Man has always been about using his powers to protect others, and he allows way too much destruction of property (and almost certainly loss of life.) With the power he has already displayed in the first movie, he could have taken these thugs down before they did so much damage.

This scene sets up Electro, who is thrilled that Spider-Man knows his name - even if it is on his name badge. While some have complained about the origin being silly, it is actually better than his origin in the comics. There, he was a lineman who was struck by lightning. The movie makes his origin similar to Spider-Man's origin - he was bitten by genetically enhanced electric eels. Given Oscorp's genetic engineering, it makes more sense (once you suspend disbelief) than someone getting a shock and developing super-powers from that.

Electro's heel turn, though, could have been stretched out a little more, making his mental imbalance more obvious. Oscorp's determination to cover up the accident could have been more nefarious, giving him a reason to hate them, and jumping to the conclusion that Spider-Man set him up to be shot by police was way too convenient. It was a very rushed way of giving Spider-Man a new villain.

The storyline with Parker's parents was a virtual mirror image of the "Venom" arc in Ultimate Spider-Man #33 to #39, with Richard Parker and his wife running away rather than allowing his life's work to be turned into a biological weapon. However, that should have been handled in the first movie. It feels like the two movies are out of order, because the Parker parents story was teased and dropped in the first movie, only to be finally explained two years later.

The final battle with Electro was well done, minimizing the incredibly annoying shaky-cam effect that has become a staple of action movies. The shaky-cam was so bad in Captain America 2 that I had to look away as I was getting a headache. I imagine it would have been more painful (literally!) in 3-D.

Harry Osborn's heel turn should have been set up more, ideally paying off in the next movie. I do not have a huge problem with not following the comics (or the previous movie) in making Osborn turn heel only after his father dies in battle with Spider-Man. This is a new franchise, after all, and some creative license keeps things interesting.

The death of Gwen Stacy was a surprise. I figured that since Parker and Mary Jane's marriage had been nullified by Satan that they might keep the Parker/Stacy romance going. His grief after her death, and giving up being Spider-Man, was a powerful ending scene - or would have been, had the movie ended there.

Instead, we get the battle with the Rhino that was teased in the trailer, but we only get the beginning of it. It was cheap to end on a cliffhanger, and Osborn preparing to assemble the Sinister Six should have been the after credits scene. Amazing Spider-Man 3 could have opened with Spider-Man fighting Rhino. (Which is a battle-suit, like in the Ultimate universe, instead of a radiation-powered thug.)

Speaking of after-credits scenes, I initially thought the scene (featuring villains from the X-Men) was incredible. I was shocked to see those characters, since the movie rights to the X-Men are owned by a different studio. I was excited at the possibility of a crossover... but this was just one big tease. In all of Marvel's other movies, the after-credits scenes set up the next movie, but this one was just an advertisement for Days of Future Past later this month. Not cool.

Overall, this was a good movie. The actors playing Peter and Gwen have great on-screen chemistry, and Gwen's death strikes a major emotional chord. It did not waste time on the origin story like the last one did, and the fact that so many of these characters' origins are connected makes things interesting, if just a little too convenient.

Final Grade: B+

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This abuse of power is 100% pure evil

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

From an alarming article in the Washington Post, this is 100% pure evil:

So the sheriff's department had the video that exonerated Weyker two days after the accident, but it continued to allow prosecutors to prosecute her on provably false charges, even as she lay in traction in a hospital bed.

Read more at Radley Balko's blog.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Learn to drive or get off the road!

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

As I was driving up South Walnut Street one morning last week, I had to slow down, and the reason for it literally stunned me. The fool in front of me stopped in the middle of the street to let someone out into the business. The fool could have easily pulled into the parking lot and dropped off his passenger safely, but instead stopped in the middle of the street to let his passenger out.

I was stunned. What possible reason could there be to justify such an incredibly selfish and dangerous maneuver? It would not have taken more than ten to fifteen seconds to pull into the lot, drop the guy off, and then move on. I could not believe what I was seeing, with such arrogance, selfishness and complete disregard for basic traffic safety.

Granted, I see this nonsense all the time around campus, and it is infuriating there as well. There is not one single legitimate reason to stop in the middle of the street to let someone out instead of pulling into the lot. No one expects you to stop in the middle of traffic so that you can release your passenger, so the danger this move presents is obvious. The selfishness is obvious too. Do you really think you are so important that basic rules do not apply to you?

Speaking of selfishness, a fool behind me at Starbucks on South Walnut honked at me because I was taking too long (in his extremely small mind) to exit the parking lot. I was waiting because another vehicle was headed north, and had I pulled out in front of her I would have been smacked broadside.

Her turn signal was on well in advance, so it looked like she was pulling into Starbucks - but my instincts told me that was not going to happen. I was right. Had I done what the fool behind me wanted me to do, I would have been in a serious accident and his delay would have been much longer.

Folks, this is not hard. Do not treat public streets as your personal drop zone. Step on the gas when the light is green. Yield the right of way to emergency vehicles. Fill up the space between you and the next vehicle when you are waiting at a red light, to allow more people to get into the line. If everyone would follow a few basic rules of common courtesy, it will be easier for everyone. Traffic flow and safety would both improve, as well.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Donald Sterling, privacy, hypocrisy and the Thought Police

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

There is no defending the racist language that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling used in a recorded conversation with his mistress, but the reaction to his words exposes major hypocrisy in the NBA and the pundit class. Furthermore, one very big aspect of this story is being overlooked, which is disappointing if not surprising.

First, let's point out the elephant in the room. That elephant is the fact that Sterling has a mistress young enough to be his granddaughter. He is 80 years old and his mistress is 38 - and he is carrying on with her (and apparently has no problem with her having sex with other people) while he is still married to his wife. If there is no mistress, there is no recorded conversation. How have we gotten to the point that people are more outraged about what a married man says to his mistress than we are about the fact that he has a mistress in the first place?

Also, do we really want to be policing people's private conversations? This is not a situation where someone posted something stupid, ignorant and offensive on Facebook and then whined about privacy when it went viral. This was a truly private, one-on-one conversation between two individuals.

There is not one single person on the planet who has never said something in private that he or she regrets. All of us - including Sterling's fiercest critics - have said things in private that we would be utterly horrified to see transcribed on the front page of the newspaper or available for download on the Internet. Exactly how far are we going to go with this? What is fair game? In the digital age, do we truly have any privacy at all? Again, there is no way to defend what Sterling said, but this is disturbing and sets a dangerous precedent. Do we now have to watch everything we say in private?

As NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar pointed out, Sterling has been a racist and shady businessman for a long time. Former commissioner David Stern should have instituted a lifetime ban when Sterling was found to have broken federal law by refusing to rent to blacks and Hispanics in his apartment buildings. No one was actually harmed by Sterling's private conversation with his mistress, but people suffered real harm from Sterling's corrupt real estate dealings. To be offended now, and not then, shows obscene hypocrisy on the part of the NBA.

We should not forget that the NAACP was prepared to give him a "lifetime achievement award" before the recording was revealed - despite his illegal racist discrimination in his real estate business.

The NBA could have (and should have) brought down the hammer on Sterling years ago for his despicable (not to mention illegal) racist behavior, but is spurred to action now after a private conversation was recorded and posted to the internet. The fall of Donald Sterling has worrisome implications far beyond how it impacts a corrupt businessman in Los Angeles. The angry mob that sacked Sterling (especially those who are public figures) could well see themselves getting picked off in the future for things they thought were private but wind up on the Internet anyway.

We are not going to like where this leads.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Help needed in editing mp3 files

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 5:16 PM (#)

I have downloaded some podcasts (a series of 4, actually) that I want to listen to. Here's the problem - The audio only plays out of the left side. This is very distracting when listening on earbuds. Is it possible to edit the mp3 file so that the sound plays on both sides? If so, what program do I need and how do I fix it?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thoughts on the affirmative action ruling from SCOTUS

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

Affirmative action has always been (at best) constitutionally suspect, especially if it involves government or state institutions (such as public universities) giving preferential treatment on the basis of skin pigmentation - or worse, outright quotas for racial minorities. That is because of the text of the Fourteenth Amendment, making it illegal for states to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Leftists have argued affirmative action was permissible to remedy institutional racism, but the argument that it is permitted morphed into the argument that it is mandatory somewhere along the way. Such is the argument - plucked from some invisible ink somewhere in the Constitution, apparently - that it is a violation of the federal constitution for states to ban race-based preferences by governments or state institutions.

The hyperventilating over this ruling does nothing but deepen racial divisions while solving no real problems. Saying this is a new "Jim Crow" is one of the more hysterical arguments that is too silly to be taken seriously. It is also completely disrespectful to those who fought real discrimination, sometimes by putting their very lives at risk.

The most frustrating aspect of this is watching people who are supposed to be deciding this case on the law instead make public policy arguments for why Michigan (or any other state) should not be permitted to prohibit racial discrimination or race-based preferences. It should go without saying that Supreme Court justices should not be deciding cases based on their personal political views. It is an utterly shameful perversion of the legal system.

If we are interested in helping those who need help, we should focus on class rather than race - not with preferences but with programs designed to help low-income people or people with limited opportunities succeed. This would be applied whether they are from rural areas or the inner city, and would be based on need instead of racial politics.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Amazing Spider-Man 2 opens tomorrow

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

I am really looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man 2 tomorrow.

Here is my review of the first movie.

This will probably never happen, but I would love to see a Spider-Man movie featuring Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker.