Author: Darren Smith

Russian Orthodox Church Priest Consecrates Holy Anti-Aircraft Missile Of Antioch

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Move over Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, the Russians have a more potent form of holy-war materiel.

On November 29th, Russian Military Forces deployed at Dzankoy, Crimea an S-400 Anti-Aircraft System as part of its military occupation of the peninsula. Not to be without an appropriate blessing for this divinely inspired weapon system, the military arranged for consecration of these Anti-Aircraft Missiles of Antioch by priests of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Pie erucae dominus
Dona eis requiem

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Public Art Or Public Nuisance? Mound Of Dirt Art That Won’t Go Away

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Those familiar with the former federal office building in Wenatchee, Washington, who have actually noticed, are familiar with the strange earthen mounds situated at the Northwest of the property. They were constructed in 1981 by Artist Stan Dolega who received $19,000.00 (about $54,000.00 today) from the government to place the dirt, a concrete retaining wall, and sod.

Anecdotally, the work faced much criticism since its inception as being the archetype of government waste through mandatory spending on artwork. It was not popular with those in the community and faced considerable ridicule as to its lack of utility, and that could credibly be claimed that the government paid nearly twenty grand for a pile of dirt.

Now the city wants to remove the mounds to make room for additional parking but discovered that it cannot due to a covenant designed to protect a problematic artwork that simply will not go away.

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Anecdotes of Freedom: The Isle of Man TT Races

Isle of Man TT Racer. Photo Credit AgljonesBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

“Without Speed there can be no thrill.”

Freedom comes in many forms. Its essence it engenders the liberty to seek and achieve what we crave and value. A society that fosters and encourages freedom retains for itself the rewards of innovation and happiness. Freedom is not limited merely to abstracts enumerated on paper such as statutes and constitutional promises of control of government. It is the willingness of a government and a society to permit itself the natural rights we retain, that we may pursue our own goals.

I present for you a perspective on freedom, the freedom to seek thrills and challenges in the form of high speed motorcycle racing.

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Syrian National Museum in Damascus Reopens

Sryan National Museum at Damascus
Source: Ministry of Culture, Syrian Arab Republic

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

After six years of closure due to the conflict of civil War, the Syrian Arab Republic’s Ministry of Culture announced the reopening of its national museum. The institution presents welcomed news not only in a sign of normalization within civilian life in Damascus, but a reversal of years of wanton destruction by iconoclastic jihadists and thefts by opportunists claiming spoils of war.

This past Sunday featured a symposium hosted by internationally recognized archaeologists and the arrangement of showcases presented to the general public. The re-opening followed a years long campaign against ISIS and other jihadists plaguing the vicinity of the capital.

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WA Appeals Court Ruling In Gas Cardlock Theft Could Affect Consumer Protection And Prosecution Practices

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A ruling by Division Three of the Washington State Court of Appeals might be worth reviewing for those not only in the state but elsewhere as the opinion demonstrates an interpretation of the federal Truth in Lending Act governing credit card liability of consumers. It could also affect at least in Washington whether to charge a defendant with a financial crime or the possession of stolen property due to a Federal Reserve Board opinion that could affect charging elements resulting from the theft of a CardLock access device.

In Connell Oil, Inc. v. McConnell-Johnson, Appellants “The Marital Community of Erik and Jackie McConnell Johnson” appealed a trial court ruling favorable to plaintiff Washington Corporation “Connell Oil, Inc.” after the oil company demanded damages and attorney fees amounting to $34,649.68 resulting from the fraudulent use of the Johnson’s petroleum CardLock access card after the device was stolen from one of Mr. Johnson’s farm vehicles. Defendants claimed that they were not fully liable for the unauthorized charges under the federal Truth in Lending Act which ordinarily protects consumers from fraudulent credit card charges.

The Court “conclude[d] the trial court did not err when it ruled that the stolen cardlock was not a credit card for purposes of TILA and entered judgment in favor of Connell Oil.” Connell Oil received an award of attorney and legal fees as it was the prevailing party.

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Another Useful Perspective For The Controversy Surrounding Taking a Knee At US Sporting Events

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Often we can find value in the wisdom of other cultures, especially when we have arrived at an impasse where opposing groups cannot find common ground and the same arguments tend to dominate the discussion. Often this results from the refusal or inability to find outside evidence or analysis.

I believe eventually such an impasse over the NFL kneeling controversy will become moot as the interest in such displays will eventually go away, like many other movements. People eventually move on to other controversies. Yet for those who desire to continue to debate the matter, a family member of mine suggested watching the following video produced in India that structurally presents the same type of controversy–of whether or not to stand during their national anthem at sporting events.

What I found fascinating was seeing the expression of the two sides’ positions through the lens of one of the cultures in India, and especially the contrast between an element representing the traditional thinking versus a younger generation having a different definition of fairness and inclusiveness.

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Ireland To Hold Referendum On Removing Anti-Blasphemy Offenses From Constitution

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

This October twenty-sixth, voters in Ireland will decide at the polls if the country’s prohibition on blasphemy should be removed from the nation’s constitution. It comes for me as a welcome sign of some progress against what otherwise was a trend in Western Europe toward establishing an international blasphemy standard that many regard as censorship and a vehicle for possible criminal prosecution of speech and expression.

While the Irish government has insisted that no persons have been successfully prosecuted for blasphemy since the 1850s, the existence of any such statute serves as leverage by the state to control what its citizens may say or what behavior it considers objectionable. The time for repeal I believe has arrived.

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The Ugly Americano, The Bane of So-called “Coffee Shops”

Image by Julius Schorzman - Own workBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

There are times when one can justifiably take advantage of a host’s generosity and access to an international audience for the selfish purpose of venting one’s frustrations. This is just such a time.

It is increasingly a problem: Whenever I elect to try out a new coffee shop, especially when out of town on business, they do not serve brewed or drip coffee. Just about every foo-foo flavor or coffee containing drink imaginable fills their menu, yet not even a simple, regular cup of coffee can be had. It’s un-American I tell you.

In these “coffee shops” wanting coffee means receiving a cheap substitute: A watered-down misfit of a beverage–the Americano.

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In Memoriam: My Subaru, Aged 25 years 484,000 miles

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Thursday’s business trip met with the untimely demise of a close friend, my 1993 Subaru Legacy.

The untimely end came about four miles from my destination. The engine failed. I hoped for the best as each time in the past he would pull through famously. Yet after my mechanic broke the news it was not good. He required extensive repair to the engine and it wasn’t feasible to keep going. After hundreds of thousands of miles of every terrain in the state and every whether condition, my Subaru finally needed to rest.

It was not only named “Legacy”, the car WAS a legacy. He gave both his owners over 484,000 miles of reliable service, mostly to me as a second-hand buyer. If anything can be said of 1990’s Subarus, they were certainly built to last. But this Subaru lasted one of the longest.

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Ode To Stumps

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Nature can be mesmerizing when we afford ourselves the opportunity to believe such. Often we keep ourselves at a distance to the outdoors and view each element only as an abstraction: too ordinary and mundane and something simply to drive past.

In such as this example of nature before us, from afar we only see stumps in a drying reservoir. Yet for a small investment in our time and close attention, a century of nature’s craft shows some true woodworking.

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Does Lighting Fireworks Constitute Free Speech?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

180px-San_Diego_FireworksWith the coming this week of this year’s Independence Day, I thought we would revisit an article from 2016 and pose a question to you. Does the use of fireworks constitute protected free speech?

A tradition spanning multiple generations in the United States is that a large portion of our society celebrates and shows tribute to the United States through the lighting and observance of fireworks. Yet numerous municipalities and counties impose sweeping and total bans of fireworks. Some statutes regulate the type of firework allowable, such as those having a ferocity that safety requires certified technicians. Others ban benign devices such as snakes and small fountains.

But does a complete ban on fireworks regardless of size constitute an infringement on the first amendment rights of citizens?

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Honorable Civil Disobedience

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Having seen over the years protesters engaged in voicing their grievances in fashions ranging from the peaceful to the violent, I believe it is incumbent to provide a guidelines in the hope of furthering a cause without the distractions that spill over into not only silencing important messages but preventing consequences that hurt others.

I propose the idea of Honorable Civil Disobedience.

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Unholy Apostilles: Intermediaries Fleece Unsuspecting Applicants For Government Document Credentialing

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A concerning practice has emerged over the years where intermediary service providers proffer to obtain apostille certifications on behalf of the those unfamiliar with the credentialing process for documents sent overseas. Unscrupulous providers charge hundreds and some over a thousand dollars for several documents while a typical cost assessed by each state’s secretary of state centers around fifteen dollars per document.

Most of these providers are unregulated and operate from virtual offices or use addresses traceable to private mail box companies such as the UPS Store. Some go so far as making promises of authenticity under legally questionable guises.

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Thieving Maggie

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In an interesting reversal, a young Chinese child unseated the predominating meme of hungry birds stealing food from humans.

The setup played into the hands of the girl, who took charge of the unsuspecting avian and snatched a morsel directly from the victim dove’s beak. All while her unwitting accomplice–her mother–attracted the bird under the guise of feeding pigeons.

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WA Sex Offender Registration Requirements Can Cause Indefinite Opportunity For Imprisonment Of The Homeless

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

A recent case before the Washington Court of Appeals for Division I highlights what has as a direct result of an increasingly punitive legislation become a perilous trap for a homeless, mentally handicapped citizen–and by extension likely many more.

In February 1998, when he was 23 years old, Jayson Lee Boyd had sex with a 15 year old. On May 27, 1999, Boyd pleaded guilty to Rape of a Child in the Third degree. Boyd was sentenced on July 29, 1999. He has not committed a sex offense since his original conviction. Nevertheless, he is required to register as a sex offender under RCW 9A.44.130 and RCW 9A.44.140. Since his original conviction in 1999, Boyd has been convicted of failure to register as a sex offender three times, all in Skagit County.

Thus his station in life: Seemingly perpetual incarceration is his future.

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