Sunday, December 31, 2006

Little bluebird in my backyard

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My parent's backyard is more or less rife with wildlife. While Holly and I were there over Christmas, there was a large flock of bluebirds that would come and go with some regularity. They were fond of the birdbath on our back deck, and this guy was clearly having a good time. There were often 30-50 bluebirds that would be taking turns at this and other birdbaths in the back yard.

That leeeeettle blob in the middle of the picture...

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To put that previous post in perspective, this is a straight shot at full zoom with my little camera, sans binoculars.

Eagle sez "Meh. You have my leave to go."

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Holly and I went canoing at Goodale State Park last Friday afternoon. We'd gotten out there late, and the park staff were kind enough to take a break from some serious tree-removal work at the entrance to let us into the park and let us rent a canoe. The lake at Goodale is an old (1830s, if our info is correct) mill pond on Big Pine Tree Creek. Much of the lake is now a cypress swamp, which makes for fun paddling in amongst the trees. We'd been paddling for about 10 minutes when I caught a glimpse of a very large bird taking flight a ways off through the trees. I wasn't sure, but I thought it might have been an eagle. It was just too big to be anything but that or an osprey, but my gut was just saying "eagle." Ospreys are rare enough that seeing one would be a treat, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've positively seen an adult bald eagle in the wild.

A few more minutes of paddling brought us pretty close to where I thought the bird had been, and we were also close to the edge of a fairly wide expanse of open water with just a few trees scattered through it. In the distance, in a lone cypress, something big was sitting on a bare branch up at the top. When I got the binoculars on it, it was unmistakeably a bald eagle. After passing the binoculars to Holly so she could get a good look, I went about trying to get a photo to record this critter for posterity. Zoomed to the full extent of my little pocket camera's lenses, I got a great shot of the branches of the trees a few feet from the boat, with a nice eagle-shaped smudge in the background.

So I decided to try digiscoping it, which involves taking a picture through hand-held binoculars. I have trouble getting this to work standing on dry land with a clear shot of my target. Sitting in a rocking canoe drifting back and forth among the trees in the middle of a swamp lent the process a level of additional challenge that can only be described as 'maddening'. But about twenty minutes of wailing and gnashing of teeth and about 10 shots of smudges or trees that have just drifted into the field of view later, and I had two blurry-but-marginal shots and the one above.

It would've been nice if the one good shot didn't look quite so much like America was giving us the cold shoulder.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Police want to burrow into your head

OK, not literally. Well, probably not your head, anyway. The AP reports that police in Beaumont, Texas want to compel 17-year-old Joshua Bush to submit to surgery to retrieve a bullet lodged in his forehead. They suspect that he recieved the gunshot as he participated in an armed robbery of a used car dealer.

Now, the body cavity search is established legal territory. Anything the police can reach with their fingers and some lube, they can get, so long as they have a search warrant. The question becomes, do they have the right to compell you to submit to a medical procedure you do not want, just to retrieve evidence they believe is hidden within your body. We are not talking about pricking with a needle to draw a blood test. This is surgery. Not life-threatening surgery, as this is nowhere near any major organ or blood vessels. However, since it is in his forehead, and bone has started to grow around the bullet, Bush would need to be put into full anaesthesia.

Full anaesthesia surgery is routine, but hardly trivial. The medications can have adverse reactions, and infection is always a risk. Infections in the face, where there are no lymph nodes to filter toxins out before the lymph re-enters the bloodstream, can be quite serious.

So the question becomes, how far does one's right to medical privacy and right to make one's own medical decisions go? Does the police's power to collect evidence (with a properly granted warrant) override one's fundamental right to make medical decisions?

If we look at the history of Supreme Court precedent, I think the balance must lean toward the rights of the individual to control his own medical decision. Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut come to my mind, although they may be too narrowly written to apply directly, what with all the IANAL and so forth.

Anyway, I certainly lean more or less in the direction of the defendant, although if he did sustain the bullet wound in the way the robbery victim says he did, he is a violent criminal, and one hopes that the police will be able to find the evidence they need to prove this one way or another without having to force him to let a doctor slice his head open and chisel out whatever is lodged in his forehead.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Merry Repeal Day, Everyone!

Happy Repeal Day, folks.

That's right, it's the 73rd anniversary of the repeal of alcohol prohibition in America.

Dewar's celebrates with a full page ad in the New York Times, and has posted a google video of a chilling alternate-history where prohibition never ended. Of course, would it really be that much more chilling than actual history? Prohibition by any other name still smells like shit.

Hat tip to Hit&Run

Saturday, December 02, 2006

So Congress wants the words "Freedom" and "French" to be synonymous?

Your 'Do You Want the Terrorists to Win' Score: 74%

You are a terrorist-loving scoundrel who hates our dear leader and the values he defends. There are few redeeming qualities about you. You most likely celebrated when the evil-doers hit us on 9/11, then opposed the Iraq war when we tried to pay them back. You hurt us at every step and cause troops to die in the field by questioning Bush's decisions. You are most likely a lost cause, doomed to be a brainwashed victim of free thought and liberalism forever. No dose of Ann Coulter's prose can save you now.

Do You Want the Terrorists to Win?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

I don't call them Freedom Fries, but I have been know to freedom kiss, and like to laugh at the freedom ticklers for sale in those bathroom vending machines. The UN is run by euro-sissies and third world dictators, except when it's being our lapdog. I think deep down, the French wouldn't be too unhappy if the terrorists put America in its place. But damn if those surrendermonkeys don't make some tasty cheese, and I'll buy it if I damn well please.

Hat Tip to Sandy.