Author: Darren Smith

An Island of Virtue Among Today’s Elected Officials: Water District & Sewer District Commissioners

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

I’ll go out on a limb and make a proposal, based mostly on anecdotal observations I have made during my adult life of both politicians and elected officials–there is a difference–and what these individuals have often gotten us into. I have come to the conclusion that among the various cultivars of politics, the two positions that for me have consistently remained the most benevolently virtuous, and least damaging to ordinary people, are not the high-profile, ostentatious seats in various houses of parliament, legislatures, or a presidency. They are often the more behind-the-scenes, yet foundationally necessary public service elected officials often known as Water District and Sewer District Commissioners.

They might not be the most well-known, which in itself is an admirable quality, but they serve for me as a model of how we would be as a society better off if politicians adopted the approach of these commissioners and not that of petty tyrants or worse that seem to be attracted to politics.

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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 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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Phallus Saxa Loquuntur: Ancient Roman Insult Excavated In Northumberland

(C) The Vindolanda Charitable Trust

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

An archeological excavation at Vindolanda in Northumberland revealed again the notion that once an insult or offense is written into the public forum it can never be successfully retracted, often coming back to haunt despite efforts to bury the story.

The subject of this Roman insult, Secundinus, must have been so infamous of a cad to have invited such scorn from a nemesis; the latter resolved to carve into rock the insult “SECVNDINVS CACOR” along with a very prominent phallus.

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Weekend Photos: Teapot Dome Gas Station

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

On yet another road trip we happened along this strange form of filling station–a tribute of sorts to the Teapot Dome Scandal. It has been one hundred years since the ensuing investigation, which greatly embarrassed the Harding Administration and later sent Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall to prison on corruption charges.  In a twist, in 1985 the Department of the Interior added the station to the National Register of Historic Places.

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The Eight Degrees of Ignorance and Stupidity

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Our host on numerous occasions makes a strong case in labeling today’s zeitgeist as “The Age of Rage”. It would certainly seem to be so if one focuses on what stereotypically comes out of the news media and political figures we lend our ears to. Yet I would go a step further and suggest the root cause of some of this rage is composed of two elements: power-lust and simple human stupidity.

I believe many people fail to recognize how intertwined is the lust for power and the enabling forces of stupidity. Stupidity can be manipulated to achieve that power. It is said that money is the blood of the powerful. Yet, why spend money when too many can be so easily controlled or recruited for free simply by instead appealing to ignorant or stupid individuals.

Both sadly and obviously however, ignorance and stupidity is not limited to the news or politics, it is manifest in human society generally. The trick is to recognize and extricate it from our lives whenever possible. So in a mostly cynical and possibly comical study of the problem, I propose there are levels and flavors of both ignorance and stupidity and to apply such a study is a first step toward minimizing its damaging potential.

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Weekend Photos: Tale of Two Cemeteries

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

In my travels over the past week I took to an occasional diversion I sometimes make by visiting small and noteworthy cemeteries that come by once in a while. The two I visited recently presented two different perspectives on how we as a culture lay our loved ones to rest. Each of these have their own virtues and like most things in life one is not necessarily better or worse, but is so often according to the views of the beholder.

Here we find two of the same; different but not opposed.

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Weekend Photos: Random Forest Service Road

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

While traveling on business I thought I would take a short trek up a random forest service road and snap a few photos before sunset.

The air was completely still and serenely quiet. When the temperature is as hot as it was that day, you can truly experience the scent of wood and of the woods, something I find enduringly relaxing.

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Weekend Photos: Just Deserts

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Semi-arid lands do not often come to mind when one envisions beautiful countryside. One attribute it affords the beholder is its accentuation of geology and a sense of timelessness. Left undisturbed, change is often not of importance to nature as it seems decades later to not have evolved. Only what humanity leaves behind tends to show aging in what we consider time, mirroring more of us than the environment.

The landscape does justice to tranquility.

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This Carriage does it Justice: My New and Bizarre Typewriter

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

It had been a while since my latest purchase of strange technology pieces, the most recent being a telephone having both a rotary dial and a touch-tone pad. But the need and a very compelling price demanded this latest foray–a 1950’s (?) vintage Royal typewriter with a massive, twenty-inch-wide carriage.

There is no escapement from this 39 pound lexi-beast; cf. at 7 pounds a Remington Personal-Riter manual typewriter. It can in only one and a half lines compose the entirety of the Preamble to the United States Constitution, and still have room for two invocations of The Quick Brown Fox to complete the second line.

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Vaccine Lines and Deplaning Airliners: Similar Strategies

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Last Sunday afternoon I happened to be at my home-office looking over Professor Turley’s website. He was updating his then recently posted Easter Sunday article and read the following change:

“We went to the open vaccination location but it had a three block line that barely moved with hundreds of people. We finally bailed rather than spend hours in line on Easter Sunday but hope to get the family vaccinated soon.”

I had to ponder how I might deal with the upcoming vaccination event, that I might be better served in adopting a more relaxed approach, such as how and why I avoid the rush to exit an airliner having just arrived at the gate.

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Iraqi Parliament Enacts Recompense Law for Yazidi Genocide Victims

Yazidi Girls wearing traditional clothingBy Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

After a two year long impasse, the Iraqi Parliament enacted law recompensing Yazidi and other similarly stationed ethnic groups for the genocide and other crimes against humanity they suffered at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. It is hard to imagine how any human being could be made whole after having suffered such inhumanity prosecuted against these people. The Iraqi Government does deserve praise for making a credible and genuine effort to afford them a promise of compensation and opportunities to earn a more promising and just future within their country and society in general.

Iraqi President Barham Salih tweeted the legislation, “is a victory for the victims [and] our daughters who have been subjected to the most heinous violations and crimes of ISIS genocide.”

The law provides recognition by the Iraqi Government of the genocide, which up until then was only officially so by the Kurdistan Regional Government in the North.

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