Losing Everything

I keep thinking that it is impossible for the British Government and it’s bureaucracy to screw things up worse than they already have. It’s the one thing about which I am always wrong. They just can’t stop losing things.

First, they lost the bank details of everyone receiving child benefit – that is, every family with children in the UK, including mine – 25 million in all. We got a nice impersonal apology letter for that one. Then they lost the details of three million learner drivers.

Then the Ministry of Defence lost a laptop with the details of 600,000  people who had expressed an interest in joining the armed forces. At least they know when and where they lost that one (it was left overnight in a car in Birmingham), even if they never got it back. At the time they didn’t even know they had lost hundreds of Ministry of Defense laptops and memory sticks with classified information on them and still don’t know where those are.

All the while they keep insisting that we hand over more and more data for them to keep on us.

Now the Home Office has lost all the data – including all the confidential information – on every prisoner in the UK. This is includes release dates and other information that could compromise their safety.  The Government is looking at millions and millions of pounds in compensation or in damages from the inevitable lawsuits.

I honestly don’t know what new higher levels of incompetence the Government will demonstrate before the next General Election. I don’t know how much of the country will be left for them to turn over to the Tories. The mind boggles.

Ancestral Lands

Since I have been visiting my parents, where much of my personal library is located, I have had a chance to read a book that I got many years ago when it was withdrawn from circulation by the Gonzales Public Library, an establishment that was a regular haunt of mine in my college days.

In what has been one of the more popular posts on this blog, I talked about my Uncle George Littlefield. The book I am reading is George Littlefield: Texan by J. Evetts Haley, published in 1943 by the University of Oklahoma Press. At the time I acquired it, I knew that I was related to Uncle George – and he was always referred to as Uncle George Littlefield by my mother’s family – but I hadn’t made the exact genealogical connection. I just knew that he had put my great-grandmother through college.

Since, as you might expect, the first chapter of the biography covers his family background, it has been very interesting to read about my great-great-great-grandparents (his parents) in a real book (not a self-published genealogy-driven tome) with real footnotes referencing a wide range of primary source materials. The book details both real and personal property they possessed, acquired and sold. Through my genealogical research, I knew where some of this land was.

The personal recollections of former slaves continues to confirm my understanding the positive relationship they shared with my family. Because that is relevant to the novel I am intending to write, this has been particularly helpful.

During the years I lived in Gonzales County, I had thought it would be a nice place to settle. River bottom being the most desirable and fertile real estate, I had always wanted to own the land at the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers. I figured if one river made for good land, two must be so much the better.

Having never read that book I bought from the Gonzales Public Library, I had no idea my great-great-great-grandmother thought the same and not only acquired that land, but also moved there from the original plantation where she had settled with my great-great-great-grandfather located about 15 miles up the Guadalupe.

Were I to someday win the lottery or perhaps become a wildly successful writer – though the lottery win is the more likely of the two – I might yet buy that land.

Dealing with Russian Aggression

With all that’s been happening here in Texas, I haven’t had a chance to comment on the the situation in Georgia.

Bad Russia! Bad, bad Russia!

In an earlier blog identity I posted flags of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on the right column, as I generally support the idea of ethnic self-determination. You may notice that I have now posted the flag of Georgia.

While I understand the desire of the Abkhazians and Ossetians for political autonomy, I also appreciate the principle in international law that is it vital to respect the territorial integrity of sovereign states. While Saakashvili made a tactical error in using military force on Ossetian rebels, it was not lawful for Russia to then invade, not just South Ossetia, but the rest of Georgia.

Unfortunately, the Russians will continue to violate the territorial integrity of Georgia for some time, thanks the to deal brokered by the French president. The only way to get the Russians out would be for a military force bigger than the Russians to kick them out. There’s only one military big enough to do the job and they are mired in a couple of other situations. \

Truth be told, this situation is not unlike the cause of the First Gulf War – one sovereign state invading another. And even the goal of controlling the energy supply is not dissimilar. Saddam wanted Kuwait’s oil fields and Russia wants to further it’s ambition to control the flow of energy into Europe.

However, on top of this is Putin’s anger that so many countries bordering Russia and formerly conquered by Russia don’t want to have anything to do with Russia. Russia’s leaders see themselves as having a right to a sphere of influence in the region. Why? From whence to they derive this right? Why do sovereign states like Georgia, Ukraine, and others not have the right to choose their own alignment?

The Russians believe they have some sort of right to punish the Georgians for wanting to join NATO and strengthening ties to the US. Frankly, I think this is almost enough reason to go to Georgia and kick some Russian ass.

Now Russia has threatened Poland with a nuclear strike for hosting US missiles on its soil. I think Russia should be thrown out of the United Nations for that. How dare they. Again, Poland has the right to choose its allies. If the barrel of one Russian tank nudges across the Polish border – which it would have to do from it’s oblast around Kaliningrad – I think the US should just take Kaliningrad and split it between the Poles and Lithuanians. They should take all of Russia’s many nuclear warheads pointing at NATO, scrap them and send the remains to Moscow.

In the meantime, the US Navy should find a couple of spare aircraft carriers to park next to Russia’s Baltic Fleet. Put one at Klaipėda and one at Gdańsk. Then just line up a blockade between the two.

McCain and Rick Warren

I saw some of John McCain’s interview with Rick Warren last night. I have to say that I was quite impressed.

I know that he supports embryonic stem cell research, and I’m not sure how he can reconcile that with his unhesitating view that the right to human rights begins at conception. But given that Obama is entirely in support of a woman’s right to choose murder, I have to go with McCain.

Otherwise I thought he answered well. Even though I’ve only seen clips of Obama’s performance, all the news reports indicated that McCain gave much more direct answers throughout.

The only question is whether McCain’s forthright approach and his answers on other issues will resonate with enough evangelical voters to motivate them to vote.

Warren has not made an endorsement. It’s not that I think a pastor (regardless of how famous) should make an endorsement. Rather it is that it isn’t obvious that he’s supporting McCain. Seems like a no-brainer.

Updated Update

Results have come back from the CT scan of my father’s lungs. One of the spots that appeared the first time has disappeared and the other has shrunk considerably, so there is a positive diagnosis that it is not cancer. It would appear to have been a small infection of some kind. The biopsy has been cancelled.

We will still be going back to Houston next week to set up his chemo plan for the colon.

Thank you for your prayers.

Update on My Father

I have returned from two days at the world’s top cancer hospital, where my father underwent further tests. Some spots on his lungs have yet to be diagnosed and will require a biopsy next week. His colon cancer, which we found out today was stage 3, will require six months on chemotherapy, but that can’t begin until they figure out what, if anything, is on his lungs, and then prioritise between that, the colon, and the prostate.

I have to say I was very impressed by the hospital. I had no idea that such a huge conglomerate of buildings (not to mention the over 17,000 employees) could be dedicated to the treatment of one disease.

My parents, as always, are incredibly upbeat. Your prayers, as always, are appreciated.

How to Treat a Lady

I don’t like to fly. So after three flights in 24 hours, I am visiting my parents. We couldn’t afford for the Unnamed family to travel as well, so I am here on my own.

On the way across the Atlantic, I sat next to a elderly British lady who had been in New Jersey on 9/11. She told me about how she had a difficult time getting back to the UK. Once she got a flight, she was sitting next to what appeared to be a Muslim man. After she described his gross-out eating habits, she described how he wanted to stretch out so he told her to go get another seat toward the back of the plane.

She told a stewardess that the man had told her to move. The stewardess told the man off, though he is not appear to be in any way ashamed of his behaviour. A few minutes later the stewardess came back and told the man she was moving the lady. The man said, “Thank you!” The stewardess replied, “I’m not moving her for your sake – I’m moving her for her sake.” She moved the lady to First Class.