Thursday, December 28, 2006

I've gone to two movies recently that had, what I felt to be, significant errors. First was Apocalypto. There was a solar eclipse and the Mayans became scared and shocked. This bugs me because the Mayans were expert astronomers and were able to predict eclipses. This information might not have been widely known by your average lay person but the priest class definitely knew about it. The formula or method for calculating and predicting eclipses was found in the Dresden Codex.
So the Mayans weren't bumbling superstitious fools when it came to predicting astronomical events. I understand it was a nice dramatic touch but they should have been able to find something else, like a jaguar Steele collapsing or something.

Second, I took my young cousins to see Night At The Museum. Attila the Hun wasn’t Asian. He was a Hun, modern day Germans. That’s why we called Germans "Huns" during both World Wars. I think who ever wrote the movie didn’t know the difference between Attila the Hun and Ghengis Khan and apparently didn’t know shit about 20th Century history. This bugs me only b/c the movie is about a history museum and there were some minor mouth service to learning history. They should have done some basics. Other than that it’s acceptable.

I had consumed a double order of Chico’s Tacos within 30 minutes of landing in El Paso. Since then I’ve had a few more orders of Chico’s, chile verde, tamales, barbacoa, tamales, huevos con chorizo, tamales, chile con queso, tacos, tortas, and tamales. Tomorrow I’m going to get my ass to Hamburger Inn to get some menudo and one last order of Chico’s before I get back on the plane to go to Portland.
I don’t know where the tamales keep coming from. After I ate my first order of Chico’s and unpacked there was a bag of tamales in the kitchen. Since then tamales have appeared in containers varying from brown paper sacks and Bud Light half rack boxes to fancy Rubber Maid containers. I think I’ve eaten over 100 tamales since last Wednesday. I’m not exaggerating, at least 100.
I figure I’ll eat a few more tamales on the plane home b/c I can’t take Chico’s on the plane with me. The juice they’re served in is over the 3 oz limit and won’t make it through security. They probably are semi hazardous. Maybe I’ll take some Chico’s juice and have the guy’s swab with the chemical detectors. I bet they set it off.
I have been eating since I got here but haven’t been hungry since that first order of Chico’s. When I get home I plan on eating a vegetable of some sort, maybe celery. The closest thing to a vegetable I’ve had is the masa around the meat in the tamale. I can feel my heart struggling to beat under weight of all the tamales.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My roommate’s grandfather has a saying that makes a lot of sense to me. “If you’ve never missed a plane then you’re spending too much time in airports.” I tend to get their at the last minute, sign the form that says my luggage isn’t going to make it, run through security and get on the plane. I spend almost no time in the airport.
Today is different. I’m excited to go to El Paso. The fine taste of Chico’s Tacos is just a few hours away. I couldn’t sleep. I ended up at the airport early. This turned out to be a stroke of luck.
I plugged my confirmation number into the little self check-in kiosk thingy and it said to go see a customer service person. I do that and she watches me try to check in again. Then she sees the message and says, “Ohhhh, I need to get my manager.” That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. I’m important damn it. I shouldn’t be talking to pissant customer service reps, bring me a manager.
But this wasn’t “get my manager” in the good way. This was “get my manager” b/c you are apparently an evildoer and your name is on the goddamned no flight list with Ted Kennedy and that 3-month-old baby and other terror threats. It turns out it’s not actually me who’s on the list but one of the few other Antonio Gonzalez’s in the world. Christ, double Christ.
For the 20 minutes when they were trying to figure out how I got on the list and I was wondering how many TSA agents will be in the room when I’m asked to strip. Would they have warm fingers?
I wondered if it was my membership in the extremist group MECHA in high school and college. Was it my interest after reading the El Puro Pedo article on forming my own militant Chicano group? Maybe it was the fact that I checked out On Bullshit from the library and am now on to Karl Rove. Maybe it’s b/c they knew I would write this post…

Monday, December 18, 2006

I was researching an issue I don’t know very much about when I came upon a website explaining the basics of succession, who gets what first, under Oregon law. As a sub-header there was a section titled “Oregon Intestate Succession Fun Facts”. Just the idea that there is anything fun about intestate succession made me laugh. “Woohoo, people dying and their family is fighting over the scraps! What fun we’re having!”

The fun facts included killing the decedent gets you kicked out of the will and unborn children still count as born children. But my favorite fun fact was “Relatives of the half blood inherit the same share they would inherit if they were of the whole blood.” Man, you lucky half blood relatives, you still get a full share even with your diminished mongrel half blood. So go give your relative by half blood a full hug.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I applied to get my student loans consolidated last June. The process is still ongoing. Meanwhile all my loans have come due. I don’t have the money to pay them so I’m trying to defer them. Since I work at a non profit and help people who actually need it I don’t get paid very much and therefore qualify for a hardship deferment.
I sent out all the paper work and it’s started coming back saying I didn’t include a paystub. I knew that would happen but I wanted to get the process started and I’ll send in the paystubs on Monday.
However, one of the loans sent me a long letter saying that I didn’t qualify for a deferment. The other denials had a form letter with a list of reasons why I didn’t qualify and a box checked by the appropriate reason, usually no pay stub. This specific letter said that I didn’t qualify for the following ten reasons. Not one of the following ten, but all ten of them. They didn’t want to give me any false hope and say, fix these three or four things and we’ll see. It’s a flat out “Snowball in hell” scenario. There are so many reasons that I don’t deserve a deferment that they can’t narrow it down to just one or two.
I wonder if people stood around the office laughing at my request. Maybe it’s been photocopied and is hanging up in the break room. Maybe there was an intern who had to research my file just to make sure they couldn’t find two or three more reasons to deny me the deferment.
These are the same bastards that sent me a birthday card last week.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

This isn't legal advice. It's more like common sense but still I need to say it.

If you have a trial for domestic violence it's a good idea not to show up with the woman who has a restraining order against you. That's a violation of the restraining order. It makes for a short trial.

If you've just negotiated a parenting plan it's understandable that you may have some questions. When you submit the parenting plan to the judge, he may ask if you have any questions. That would be an okay time to ask a question, but asking if you still get your parenting time if you're in jail isn't the one to ask.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My friend Mr. B. forwarded me a link to this essay. It refers to an op-ed piece written about the Muslim congressman Keith Ellison. The congressman asked to swear his oath of office on a Qur’an instead of on a bible. The op-ed is written by Dennis Prager and published in Town Hall. Prager insists that Ellison should be forced to swear on the bible. I would link to it but the site is full of a bunch of pop-ups and crap. You can google it if you care.
Normally I would ignore this article b/c it’s so asinine but this problem has come up in other circumstances. Not that long ago a North Carolina judge refused to let a Muslim swear on a Qur’an before testifying. He insisted that the Muslim swear on the bible.
The feeling is that somehow this undermines American values. But this totally misses the point. The point has nothing to do with American values. The point is that we want the oaths solemnized. We want to encourage people to uphold their oaths. It is in no way to promote the bible or any other book or to officially enshrine it in the U.S. government.
Lying under oath hinders the court’s pursuit of the truth and deprives the community of justice. When a congressman forsakes his oath it can have even broader consequences. Go back and look at the civil war for an instance of a number of congressmen forsaking their oath to the Constitution. These oaths are important and we want to do all that we can to ensure that people uphold them.
This country has always had a Christian majority. Christians have held the majority of public offices and given the majority of the testimony in court. It makes sense for a Christian to swear an oath on the bible. The bible is a sacred text to that religious tradition. By swearing an oath on something sacred the person is then encouraged to live up to that oath. To violate an oath would be a sin in and of its self, but to violate an oath sworn on a bible would be a second and more significant sin. To avoid putting their immortal soul in jeopardy a Christian would be extra scrupulous in upholding an oath sworn on a bible. This is the point. We want to encourage people to be extra scrupulous in upholding these oaths b/c of their impact on the public at large. Since the majority of people are Christians, the bible is the easiest thing to find that most people can agree on and will serve the purpose of solemnizing the oath.
Now, with that understanding, does it make sense to have a person swear on something that does not hold meaning to them? Would you take something more seriously if you were forced to swear an oath on Mad Magazine? Of course not, that’s why the courts long ago realized that it makes sense to let atheists or non Christians swear oaths to tell the truth without the bible or saying, “so help me god”. In that instance the bible would actually trivialize the oath.
You may say, “Antonio, you heaven bastard, prepare for the fires of hell. But while you do that how can you be so sure that a secondary reason for swearing an oath on a bible isn’t to uphold American values?”
That’s easy to answer. First, read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. There is no mention of the bible as enshrining American values. The Declaration of Independence laid out American values. As I’m sure everyone remembers those values would be “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. You won’t find that phrase in the bible. You find something pretty close to it in Locke’s Second Treatise on Government ("life, liberty, and estate" I think) and Adam Smith used the phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property”. Second, the oath doesn’t say anything about the bible. The oath, in the context of congressmen, specifically is to support the Constitution. Check out Article VI, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

I think if Prager or this Wildmon joker had bothered to live up to some of those American values and had actually read the Constitution they would have noticed that little religious test section. It’s that little phrase at the end of the Clause 3 that prohibits a religious test, a test like forcing people to swear on the bible.