Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stevie Joe Reports from Second Life

In the interest of science, I have immersed myself in the world of Second Life. You might ask, as Junior did, "What the hell is Second Life?" Well, it is a bit hard to explain. So hard, in fact, that I am afraid that Junior, who is still hard at work trying to get a handle on his first life, will never get his head around it.

Second Life is an online "virtual world" in which you navigate in three dimensions using a character, called an avatar, that you create. Because it has the look of a video game, some refer to it as an "online gaming community." However, it's not a game, and there is nobody to defeat. Rather, many consider it to be the beginning of the next generation of web technology, sometimes referred to as Web 3.0. Whatever you call it, it's a pretty neat way to combine online multimedia tools with useful social interaction. This might be our best glimpse of how the internet of the future will work.

I'll periodically post reports about different aspects of Second Life. If you want to check it out for yourself, you'll need to download special software from the Second Life website here. Basic membership is free.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stevie Joe Watches Dickie Lose His Mind

Just this afternoon, I was witness to a rather entertaining local spectacle. Apparently, Dickie Jensen had heard about Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH) plan to introduce impeachment charges against Dick "Dick" Cheney. This inspired Dickie to commence to drinking (earlier than usual). By 3 PM, he was pretty well liquored up and running through town wearing nothing but his underwear. Of course, he was carrying a large American flag and yelling "Goddammit! Goddammit! Goddammit!" as loud as he could. It makes a fellow proud to live right here in Junebug Holler, entertainment capital of the county.

God Bless America,
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, April 23, 2007

Stevie Joe Continues to Panic

You all probably remember my recent post about how cell phones are killing all the bees and WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! Well, one of my well-known leftie trouble-making friends sent me the latest issue of Mother Jones, the well-known leftie trouble-making magazine. Inside, there is an article about how many important species necessary for our continued well-being are disappearing, as in extinct.

The scariest part of the article to me was the part about how a big fart cloud is going to kill us all. See, way down at the bottom of the ocean, where it is dark, cold, and not much fun at all, there is an entire ecosystem that gets food energy from stuff like methane gas rather than sunlight (seeing as how it is dark).

The theory is that communities of these critters, many ancient, were created by whale falls. When a whale dies, it falls to the bottom and can stink up the joint for up to century. The rotting whale carcasses (note to Dave Barry: The Rotting Whale Carcasses would be an excellent name for a band) provide oases for the critters.

So, what's the big deal? Well, according to the article:
In past warming eras, vast undersea deposits of methane ice may have melted, burping gas into the atmosphere [fart cloud] and accelerating global warming. Some scientists theorize that a methane burp precipitated or at least contributed to the Permian-Triassic extinction event approximately 251 million years ago, killing 90 percent of all marine life and 50 to 70 percent of all terrestrial life.
Because of industrial whaling, we are seriously short of whales right now. No whales means no whale falls. No whale falls means no methane-eating critter colonies. No methane-eating critter colonies means giant fart cloud that kills us all.

Silent but deadly,
Stevie Joe Parker

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Stevie Joe Has Fun With Wally and Mayor Barney

Well, another election has come and gone, and Mayor Barney is still in office. Now, he ran unopposed, but Barney is more than capable of losing anyway. Unfortunately for Mayor Barney, the celebration was short. His old pal Wally Simkins has threatened a lawsuit over, you guessed it, Mayor Barney's Mudslide Estates.

As you might recall, Mayor Barney has been filling in a ravine so he can sell a couple more lots. He thoughtfully provided a pipe to handle the water flow from the drainage tile of the farm across the street. However, he somehow forgot about the drainage coming from the neighboring lots on his side of the road. Like Wally Simkin's lot.

Wally and Mayor Barney have been pals for years. They were on the high school basketball team together. So, when Mayor Barney offered lots for sale in Mudslide Estates, Wally was the first to buy one. There he built his dream home complete with a surround sound home theater system right in the basement. This is the same basement that is now filling with water because his lot no longer drains into the ravine. Hence the icy chill that has blown into Mayor Barney's victory celebration.

This stuff never gets old.
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, April 16, 2007

Stevie Joe Starts to Panic

Hold on to your shorts because we're all gonna die!

I have heard for some time that bee colonies around the US have been dying off, and nobody knew the reason why. They call it CCD - Colony Collapse Disorder. As you can imagine, beekeepers are all worked up over it, but most folks didn't pay much attention. After all, what's at stake? Honey prices?

Well, mister smarty-pants, I'll have you know that most of the world's crops depend on bees for pollination. No bees, no crops.

A new study reported in the The Independent has suggested a cause for the disappearance - cell phones. The theory is that the RF signal from a cellular phone interferes with the bee's ability to navigate. The study showed that bees won't return to a hive if an active cell phone is nearby.

The real scary part is the prospect that, in order to survive, society is going to have to abandon wireless communications. In comparison, kicking our addiction to oil will seem like child's play. Yet, unless an alternative solution is found, that might be what we are facing. The article in The Independent provides an old quotation to underscore the seriousness of the problem:
Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stevie Joe on Liberty

This afternoon after church, I went on over to see Prudy at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge. Junior was there, and over lunch I got to hear about his recent incarceration. Junior went to visit his cousin Philly over in Greenville on Friday. That night, Junior was Junior, and he became stinking drunk. Nothing new there, but it seems that the Greenville Police are not as understanding as the folks here in the Holler. They arrested him on drunk and disorderly charges.

Junior maintains that he wasn't bothering anyone so they shouldn't have bothered him. I explained to Junior that this is the libertarian view of the proper role of government. Junior said that he didn't need any books, but I ignored him and continued.

See, this fellow by the name of John Locke went and continued an argument that people have been discussing since Plato's time. That's the argument over what the heck we need a government for. Locke felt that government should butt out and let people be unless someone is interfering with another's right to be.

Locke felt that drunks wandering about was just fine until one of those drunks did something dumb like taking a swing at someone. At that point, the drunk, in exercising his right to do whatever he pleased, interfered with some other guy's right to do what he pleased. It's kind of like having no traffic laws until you crash into somebody. That's liberty.

So, the Founding Fathers, who were quite fond of books (unlike some of today's leaders), read Locke's Second Treatise on Government and learned all about liberty. They dug it and decided to use it as the basis of a new country. Pretty radical, eh?

As you can imagine, however, liberty without restraint might cause a few problems. If everybody went around acting like Junior, the whole country would be a mess. Liberty requires responsibility. It requires people to act ethically and morally. When folks don't do that, you have chaos. It is then that government has to step in and limit liberty to preserve order.

So, Junior is right that he should be able to drink and act like a damn fool. However, if he chooses to do so without any restraint, his liberty might be curtailed. And it was.

If people always behaved ethically, there would be no need for government regulation. Unfortunately, not everyone plays along. So, a balance needs to be struck between preserving liberty and preventing unethical behavior.

Junior's liberty is right there in his own hands. He can choose to act responsibly or not. Society as a whole has the same option. Either we act responsibly or be prepared to lose our liberty.

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stevie Joe's Local Entertainment Pays Dividends

Remember when I was talking about how easy it is to be entertained by the local folks? That was when I was watching old Mayor Barney filling in the ravine over at his Mudslide Estates so he could sell an extra lot or two. I knew that something funny was bound to come of it, and it has.

See, Junior filled me in on the source of that dirt he was dumping in that ravine. A dozen years or so ago, the town had to build a new sewage treatment plant. Things were, as they say, starting to back up a little, and the smell was a bit on the powerful side. So, up went a new plant right next to the water tower (which never seemed quite right to me - the water tower should not be that close to the sewage plant). Of course, they had to excavate a bunch of dirt for the lagoons, and that dirt wound up in a big pile next to the water tower. We call it Mount Junebug. The local gang finds it to be quite suitable for sledding in winter and lawn mower racing in summer (watching Dickie Jensen chasing his mower as it tumbles end over end down the side of the hill is rather amusing - but that's a story for another time).

Anyway, Junior saw old Mayor Barney filling up his truck with dirt from Mount Junebug and hauling it on over to Mudslide Estates. I know Barney well enough to know that he just figures that he's the mayor so the dirt must be his. The rest of the townsfolk aren't so sure about that. First, that dang dirt hill is the only recreational area we've got in town. Second, if we wanted to get rid of it, it seems like we should be able to sell it.

Clean fill isn't cheap. Jimmy wanted to build a cabin down by the river, and the state told him that he'd have to raise the land up a couple of feet to get it out of the floodplain. He went and priced some dirt to find it was going to cost him about 25 grand. Needless to say, Jimmy still has no fishing cabin.

I'm sure that Mayor Barney's "reallocation" of town resources will be the talk of the town for a while. We'll just have to see how it pans out. I'm going to have to get me a front row seat!

Reporting from Junebug Holler, this is
Stevie Joe Parker

Monday, April 9, 2007

Stevie Joe's Easter Parade

I have finally returned to Junebug Holler from my long Easter weekend. Despite the fact that most of our relatives are right here in the greater Junebug Holler area, Mrs. Stevie Joe felt it necessary to visit her aunt and uncle way, way up in Chicago. North Shore, actually. See, Mrs. Stevie Joe's uncle has made himself a fortune in the novelty product business: rubber dog poop and what not (still proudly made in the US of A). So, he has himself a large spread up in one of those suburbs where John Hughes likes to make movies.

I would like to state right up front that I believe the drivers in the Chicago area to be absolutely nuts. Now, I am no slowpoke. I drive faster than most folks in Junebug Holler, and the Big Blue Wagon has the benefit of some significant engine displacement. However, I must admit to having a bit more sanity than most motoring Chicagoans.

Going through one of the many construction zones on the tollway, I found myself being passed by every other car on the road while receiving multiple single finger salutes. These zones are clearly marked with a 45 mph speed limit and a sign indicating a minimum fine of $375 for speeding. Still, I was going 65 mph in the Big Blue Wagon which apparently is considered far too slow for the locals.

Even worse, this continued to happen even when the Highway Patrol was parked right there on the shoulder with a big old radar gun hanging on the side. As far as I knew, they were flipping off the cop, too.

On the morning of Easter Sunday, I was informed by Mrs. Stevie Joe's uncle that they were all going off to church, and, of course, I was invited. The problem here was that Mrs. Stevie Joe's aunt and uncle are Roman Catholic. While I hold no personal animosity against the Roman Catholic church, their services are so boring that they make Pastor Luke's sermons seem like a Gallagher show.

That is when it occurred to me that we had passed the Lake Forest Friends Meetinghouse on the way to Mrs. Stevie Joe's uncle's house. Remembering the sweet, sweet silence of Len's Quaker meeting, I decided to go on over there.

The Lake Forest Friends were, well, very friendly. They invited this stranger right on in, introduced me around, and then, as Quakers are known to do, they shut the hell up. For one blessed hour during a crazy and chaotic weekend, it was quiet. No Mrs. Stevie Joe telling me what to do, say, or wear. No boring stories about how Mrs. Stevie Joe's uncle invented the electric whoopee cushion. I just had to look up and give a wink to old JC for making it all happen.

Thank you Easter Bunny!
Stevie Joe Parker

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Stevie Joe and the Road to Peace

This morning I learned that Dickie Jensen has selected his candidate for president. It's former Libertarian and current Republican congressman Ron Paul. I went to his website myself to learn a little more and found that it was a bit sparse on policy details. However, there are links to several videos where Mr. Paul discusses his political philosophy. Perhaps Mr. Paul's base of support comes from folks like Dickie who prefer watching television to reading.

If there is anything that government does, you can bet that Mr. Paul is opposed to it. Unlike many fellow Republicans, he is against going to war in most cases. He even expressed opposition to the Civil War which, to some, might make about as much sense as Fred Thompson's attack on Gandhi (and, indirectly, JC). Now, old Ron is not in favor of slavery or even the establishment of the Confederacy (he is a Texan). He just feels that the matter could have been resolved peacefully.

This got me to thinking. Freddie Thompson is mad at Gandhi (and, by extension, JC) because he wouldn't fight bad guys like Saddam Hussein. Ron Paul risks ridicule by suggesting we seek peaceful solutions rather than fight wars (on one of Ron's videos, this stance prompted skepticism from well-known Leftie and pothead Bill Maher). Of course, I'm not suggesting that Ron Paul occupies the same moral high ground as Gandhi or JC. There are only a few of us up here.

Why is this view so widely rejected? I think it's because folks look at someone like Hitler and say, "Well, somebody has got to stop him." From that perspective, they are right. However, the true path to peace is much more complicated. You have to discover a way to prevent dudes like Hitler from coming to power, and that requires action long before anyone ever hears of them. Usually, folks like that gain support from those who perceive that an injustice has been done to them.

Of course, if a nation were to always act justly, it would have fewer enemies. So, how the heck do you do that? More to come . . .

Peace brother,
Stevie Joe Parker

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Stevie Joe Needs an Atomic Bomb

This morning down at the Junebug Cafe and Internet Lounge, we had another political roundtable discussion. This time, the topic was the Second Amendment (or as it is known around here, "The Second Goddamn Amendment.") At first, there wasn't too much debate since, as good Americans, we were all pretty much in favor of guns. However, Prudy went and opened her mouth to ask if there should be any limit on our right to bear arms.

Right off, Junior assumed that she meant a limit on the number of guns. This would prevent Junior from ever living out his Scarface fantasy in which he stocks his home with guns and weapons of all shapes and sizes. Say hello to Junior's little friend. Fortunately, we all know that Junior can't be trusted with any weaponry. So, we've established our own little gun control program here in town. It only applies to Junior. When it comes to alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, we only let him have the first two.

However, Prudy was referring to the type of arms, not the quantity. Should we be allowed to own just anything? I reasoned that maybe there should be some limit. After all, the First Amendment is not absolute. You got that whole yelling-"fire"-in-a-crowded-theater deal. So, somewhere between a rubber band and an atom bomb, there should be a line, right?

Not so fast, Yuri. The folks down at the cafe were not so sure about any line. Dickie felt that once you allow the government to open the door, they'll gradually find a way to take everything. Before you know it, Rosie O'Donnell is showing up at your house to take your Daddy's old hunting rifle and your wife.

So, that's when I decided that I needed my own atom bomb. Just in case, you know, for self-defense. Because if Dickie ever gets elected to anything, I'm just guessing that I'm going to need it.

"Now then, Dmitri, you know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Bomb,"
Stevie Joe Parker

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Stevie Joe's Sunday Headache

Boy, do I have a headache. I woke up this morning with a screaming woman on my chest. Normally, this sounds like it would be a good thing, but it was an angry Mrs. Stevie Joe brandishing a hot curling iron. In a way, I was fortunate since if it was some other woman, Mrs. Stevie Joe would be even madder.

It took me a moment to understand what she was jabbering about, but I came to realize that it had something to do with my activities of the previous evening. See, I had gone over to Junior's house for a beer. Now, Chez Junior is one scary place, but after a couple of brews, the fear of sticking to the furniture begins to subside. Unfortunately, my thoughts of returning home to have dinner with Mrs. Stevie Joe also began to subside.

I think I finally crawled into bed around 3 AM smelling of beer and barf. This only slightly reduced my sexual desirability (I mean, who could resist?), but Mrs. Stevie Joe was having none of it. This morning, she sought retribution - hence the curling iron. She made me get up, showered, dressed, and off to church.

Listening to the Greater Junebug Holler Tabernacle Choir butchering yet another otherwise lovely hymn, I began to think of my visit with Len, the Quaker farmer. From Len I learned that Quakers worship in complete silence - no singing and no preaching. Sounds like the perfect thing for a Sunday morning hangover.

Stevie Joe Parker