The Anatomy of a Fish

I know that most people find the Tour de France boring. I understand that. I, however, rather enjoy it and as such, find myself watching it on Versus several times a day. Yesterday, during one of the rare times when they aren’t showing live coverage or replaying the day’s stage on that channel, I happened across a show, the name of which escapes me, where a guy was bow-fishing from a boat at night(which, I would guess is the only practical way to bow-fish).

If you aren’t familiar with bow-fishing, it is simply standing in a boat with a bright light shining down on the water and shooting fish, mostly alligator gar on this day, with an arrow and then reeling them in with the string attached to the arrow. Essentially the same concept as fishing with a pole except with more adrenaline. At least that how it seems to me. It looks kind of fun.

At one point, the gentleman who was hosting the show and offering colorful commentary throughout, shot some sort of fish other than a gar. I’m not much of a fisherman but it looked sort of bass-y if you know what I mean. Maybe a carp. I don’t really know. The point is this: When he got the fish in the boat and was holding it up for all of us viewers to see he said something like, “This was a perfect shot. Got him right through the shoulders!”

I’m neither a hunter or a fisherman. I just never learned how to do either very well. I can tell what a gar is because they are such unique looking fish with their long nose/beak thing. I can tell what a catfish is because of their “whiskers” and shape. Everything else looks the same to me.

I have never seen, as far as I can recall, a fish with shoulders. The impaled specimen that this fisherman hoisted didn’t appear to have shoulders. I grew up in Slapout, Alabama, on Lake Jordan. I’ve seen a lot of fish and talked to a lot of people who love to catch a lot of fish. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Boy, you should have seen how broad the shoulders were on that striped bass I caught Saturday! His trapezius and deltoids were amazing! His bench max must have been six or seven pounds!”

If they have shoulders, do the girl-fish have hips? Do the dude-fish make inappropriate comments about the width of the girl-fish’s hips? Is there a little fish-tattoo parlor where the really buff fish can have brake pads from a car tattooed on their little fish shoulders(since fishermen/sailors tend to get anchors on theirs) to impress the girls? I ain’t saying…I’m just saying.

Could be that I’ve just missed the whole fish/shoulder discussion all these years. That certainly is not beyond the realm of possibility. Let me know!

Don’t Mess With the United States Postal Service!

Yesterday morning, my doorbell rang at about 7:00. They guy at the door told me that his wife had hit my mailbox and that he was sorry and would be back that afternoon to fix it. It didn’t tear it completely down, but tore up the actual box part pretty good. The mail in our neighborhood runs around 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon. When I got home from work there was a form inside my smashed mailbox, along with the door to my mailbox, from our mail-person. It was left to inform and admonish me that my mailbox was smashed and would need to be fixed post-haste.

Well, thanks a lot Captain Obvious! I really appreciate that! Geez, what did this guy think I had done? Stood out in my yard with a baseball bat and beat the snot out of my own mailbox just to spite him?

Has he stumbled across the details of my diabolical plan to make his life miserable by making him turn the mail sideways so it will fit into my somewhat flat mailbox? Curses! If it hadn’t been for those meddling kids…

Come on man! It had been seven hours! I had to go to work. I don’t keep extra mailboxes in my hall closet. Don’t I get at least a day or so to actually go and buy another mailbox and put it back on the post before I’m lambasted for having a mailbox that isn’t up to USPS code? Contrary to what you might think, I didn’t ask the lady down the street to be sure she takes my mailbox out on her way to work. Take a chill pill, Bill, and I promise you it’ll be fixed. Wouldn’t want you to be inconvenienced for another 12 hours. Forgive me, mailman. Please forgive me.

Who Will It Be?

Does there exist in America, anywhere, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, someone…anyone, who is both willing and able to take up the mantle of the Republican party without making a mockery of it?

We know it won’t be Mark Sanford or John Ensign, though either of those philanderers likely would fare better, even if an election were held today, than a certain maverick did in November. Sarah Palin would seem to be a logical and relatively popular, recognizable face that many would like to see take the “leader” position for the party. Unfortunately, she is now drawing plenty of negative publicity amid her decision to step down as the great state of Alaska’s governor so as to avoid being a lame-duck. That whole situation seems a bit odd to me and I fear that in the coming weeks and months there may be more to this than meets the eye. Pure speculation on my part, of course, but something just doesn’t feel right about this decision. Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, fancies himself the “de facto leader of the Republican party,” but appears to be not much more than a figurehead who ascended to his position in the name of diversity. A valiant notion to be sure, but not a wise way to choose a leader.

This much is certain, whoever it is better step on up to the microphone and soon! The longer we languish without definite leadership and direction, and I use the term “we” loosely, the less likely it becomes that we will be able to stop the Obama juggernaut in 3 1/2 years. A bad showing in the mid-term elections in 2010 could be devastating to a party whose leaders, also used loosely, appear to be somewhat apathetic. At least to an unconnected, unimportant peon like me.

There is also the question of moderate versus conservative. Nobody will ever convince me that the GOP’s move to the center to placate undecided, more moderate voters didn’t greatly damage Senator McCain’s chances last November. I registered as a Republican in March of 1987 and I’ve never been less enthused and energized about a candidate for any office than I was for John McCain. Almost every other conservative I have talked to says essentially the same thing. Riding the center line was disastrous for us in 2008 and more of the same could cause damage that would take years from which to recover. We could very well be known as Cuba’s socialist/communist neighbor to the north by then!

Personally, I’d prefer to see Mike Huckabee front and center. He is an intelligent, articulate, affable man with experience who has convictions and values that aren’t for sale. What a concept! Of course, at the current rate of attrition this responsibility could very well fall to me sometime in the next six months or so. Maybe I should stop blogging and concentrate on readying my agenda for the almost certain media blitz on my home in River Oaks! Gotta’ go…

Happy Independence Day!

“I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will
cost us to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states.
Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory.
I can see that the end is worth all the means.
This is our day of deliverance.” – John Adams

What Scripture Says About the Death Penalty

Some of you may have missed this in the comments section of yesterday’s entry on the Bryan Martin murder trial. In case you did, here it is again.

BY: Jason Glenn of Upton, KY, formerly of Slapout, AL and several points in between.

Before I begin, for the sake of full disclosure, consider these points before considering my position.
1. Dale is my brother, and I’m proud of his convictions.
2. Thad is my uncle, and I’m reluctantly admitting that I occasionally read his blog.
3. I am a bleeding-heart conservative, Gospel-preaching preacher, who loves the Bible (both Testaments), God, and the Son of God – my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Now, here’s my position on capital punishment, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, both of whom made news in the New Testament.

Jesus issued a fairly radical call to civil obedience in Matthew 22:21. The immediate context of this teaching was related to taxes, but the general point is that it is right to give the government what is due the government.
Years later, when Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he used this same idea to address the role of government in the sovereign plan of God. All of chapter 13 should be required reading, but here I’ll just ask you to read verse 4.
The government of the State of Alabama is a servant of God and it has been granted the authority to use the “sword” to punish those who commit the most heinous crimes. You don’t spank of fine people with a sword, you put people to death with the sword. The sword is a symbol of death, and God has ordained civil government to bear the sword to issue final punishment by putting evil-doers to death.

Part of the ministry of God in government for the good of man is to make evil-doers fear the sword. Let the condemned have their appeals and due process, but at the end of the day, society is served greatly when the government serves God as the avenger (not revenger)of those who have been wronged.

As unpleasant as it may seem, the use of the sword serves as one of the foundations of a safe, civilized society where human life is sanctified.
Paul believed what he wrote. There was a time in his life when he was brought before the governor to defend himself against criminal accusations. In Acts 25:11, Paul was “walking the walk” as we would say. He acknowledged that the government had the right to put him to death if he in fact had committed a capital offense (he had not). This is not a strange position for a Christian to take. I have read many accounts of condemned prisoners coming to a relationship with Jesus Christ, and acknowledging the justice in their death sentence. One popular account is found in Luke 23:39-43.

And back to Christ, we can find an instance where He affirmed the right of the government to use the sword. When Jesus was arrested, Matthew 26:51-52 records that Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guys who had come to take Jesus. The Lord admonished Peter to put his sword away, saying, “All who take up the sword will perish by the sword.” Jesus was telling Peter that if he took a life, he would be put to death, because that was the law. Jesus was affirming the right of the government to use the sword, and warning Peter against being a vigilante.
As to “anonymous’s” assertion that God’s will was done, who is to say. I wouldn’t pretend to know the mind of God on this exact case or the hearts of those who earnestly prayed for His perfect will to be done. Sometimes people pray amiss, sometimes they get it right. I don’t know what God has for Calvin McMillan, but I pray it is salvation.

But this I do know, and it’s not just “Old Testament news,” I do know that God still uses the government to put evil-doers to death and I am thankful that He does.

Kenny and Dolly, Waylon and Willie, Thad and Gigi?

Most of you know that my wife, Gigi, sings beautifully. She has an extraordinarily beautiful voice and I love to hear her sing. Most of you don’t know that my voice is not so extraordinary because you’ve never heard me sing. There is a good reason for that. Take my word for it. Please.

But I love to sing. I really love to sing in the car. If Barry Manilow or Air Supply comes on some radio station, watch out! I’m giving it all I’ve got! Even when Gigi is in the car with me. Bless her heart, she tolerates me. I should be glad she doesn’t laugh us right off the road every time this happens. She is very gracious. Here is my problem: She doesn’t share.

In my mind, when we sing any number of duets that come on the radio, I want her to sing her part and me to sing mine. My car is the only stage I get to perform on without having tomatoes flung at my substantial cranium and I want it to be perfect!

Such was the case last evening as we drove to dinner. Somewhere Out There happened to be on the XM channel we were listening to. I love that song! The song opens with Linda Ronstadt singing and then James Ingram comes in with his part. I let Gigi sing the Ronstadt part, as she should and might I say that she did so beautifully! When we came to my part and I began to sing, I discovered that what I thought would be my solo, my chance to shine, actually turned out to be a duet. Gigi never missed a beat as she sang right along with me. Not in harmony, but exactly the part that James and I were supposed to be singing alone. Perhaps it’s the nature of one who suffers from OCD as I do, but I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the song knowing that she was singing both parts. This is important stuff, you know?

Anyway, I begrudgingly finished the song without lodging my complaint with her and thankfully there were no more duets for the rest of the time we were in the car. As I finish writing this rather pointless entry, it is occurring to me that she will read this and I will almost certainly pay a price for sharing this with all of you.

I suppose I’m willing to do that for you, though. I will, however, have to insist that if we are ever riding in a car together and Endless Love comes on the radio, that you will let me sing the Lionel Ritchie part alone.

A Juror From The Bryan Martin Murder Trial Explains Their Decision

Dale Barrett served for the last several days as a juror in the Bryan Martin murder trial. The trial for Calvin McMillan(above, left)ended last week with a verdict of guilty on both charges against him. The sentencing portion of the trial began on Monday and after a few hours of deliberation, the jury recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Needless to say, because of the especially brutal nature of this particular crime there has been a bit of an uproar over the lack of the death penalty being imposed in this case. Here is Dale’s account of how the jury came to this rather unpopular conclusion of the sentencing phase of this trial.

By: Dale Barrett

Let me begin by saying this is the first time I have ever been a part of the judicial system, at least in this area. The DA’s office did an outstanding job on presenting everything one would ever need to convict someone in a case like this. The defense attorneys were very professional and didn’t attempt to take anything away from the tragedy that this case revolved around. This jury was composed of twelve reasonable, fair-minded people. The prosecution answered any and all questions that were asked and showed a mountain of evidence which was enough to convict this thug of both crimes that he was charged with. It only took an hour and a half to unanimously vote guilty on both charges.

On Monday, the penalty phase of this trial opened and again was handled very well on both sides. Still, all the evidence was there that one would need to sentence Calvin McMillan to death. It was a cold-blooded intentional murder of a man that had simply stopped to get diapers and wipes to take care of his family. Calvin McMillan lurked in the parking lot for almost 40 minutes before Bryan Martin went in and then exited Wal-Mart with his purchases. He approached Martin and shot him three times before getting into the truck and putting it into drive. He then put it back into park and got out, bent over the near lifeless body of Bryan Martin and fired a fourth shot to “make sure” he was dead, then sped away to Montgomery.

Once arrested, his alibi was built upon nothing but lies that he was caught in time and time again. He was smarter than he was given credit for by his defense which argued that he was just above mild mental retardation. They went through his whole childhood of being born to a crack-addicted, alcoholic mother. He and his sisters lived a life that nobody should ever have to suffer through; abandonment, hunger and abuse among many other things. His mother’s boyfriend regularly beat all three of them with anything that he could get his hands on during his fits of rage. They rarely had running water, electricity, or any food. I agree that this was indeed an awful childhood.

They finally were removed from that home and lived with their aunt who took care of them on and off until a divorce in her life forced her to put them into foster care. His sisters did fine with this and turned out fine. They have murdered no one. Calvin, however, went through 20-25 different placements with foster parents, depending on how you count them. He had numerous opportunities to take advantage of the counseling that the defense stated he needed so desperately. Contrary to whatever you may hear from various sources, he, in one way or another, turned them all away.

In the end, he was in the last program that DHR placed him in and while there he assaulted another student and eventually emancipated himself out of this program. For that altercation, he was charged with assault. This was EIGHT months prior to the murder of Bryan Martin. He was evaluated by several doctors through his time in and out of state run programs and NONE of these doctors noted anywhere that he had any mental disorder that would render him not responsible for his actions. The doctor that the defense relied on most even put it in writing that Calvin does not have any problem judging right from wrong and doesn’t need any medications to control his actions/aggressiveness. I think that spoke volumes for the prosecution’s argument and should have done the same in the minds of all of the jurors. Obviously it didn’t.

We deliberated most of the morning and all afternoon until about 3:00 p.m. I was asked to pray that we all make the right decision and that most importantly, God’s will be done. Our first two votes weren’t enough to make a recommendation either way. The third however has been well covered by now through all of the local media outlets. I, along with three other ladies, voted for the death penalty to be the appropriate sentence. The defense had proven nothing new but insisted that he can’t be held fully responsible for his actions due to the way he was raised. Eight of the jurors bought this argument hook, line, and sinker, and the rest is history.

I was absolutely disgusted that this thug that took Bryan Martin’s life was going to get to sit in prison and do exactly the same thing that he has done his entire life…live off the taxpayer. Some of those dollars will come from the very family that this has affected the most, the Martin family. I will be able to rest at night knowing that I did my part to have this criminal penalized in a fair and just way. One day, hopefully, people will again believe that a person should be held responsible for their actions and be punished appropriately for the crimes they commit.

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