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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Will martial law be The Law?


Since I have an i-Phone, when I heard about Dropoutjeep I was upset about it, to put it mildly:
DROPOUT JEEP is a software implant for the Apple iPhone that utilizes modular mission applications to provide specific SIGINT functionality. This functionality includes the ability to remotely push/pull files from the device. SMS retrieval, contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location, etc. Command, control and data exfiltration can occur over SMS messaging or a GPRS data connection. All communications with the implant will be covert and encrypted.
I've raged about similar invasions of privacy over the past year as news of them has become available, yet as the list grows ever more incredible and loss of privacy nearly universal, nothing much of anything has been the consequences.

Here's the way it works. An aggressor will provoke his victim for either of two purposes. To achieve a material advantage, and/or to discover what the victim will do in response. First the bully demands the victim's lunch money—material advantage—then he requires ever more humiliating concessions from the victim to the endless delight of the bully's circle of admirers.

The provocations of the Nazi regime prior to WWII are a textbook example of tiny provocations that grow larger as consequences are held in abeyance. Tiny, discreet, minor, these words hardly describe a ravenous pack of wolves at the door, yet at first, ostensibly, Americans are led—by the mainstream media—to believe that what the NSA and the CIA and the IRS have been doing are nearly painless and mostly trivial peccadilloes that for the most part are serving the greater good.

The typical mealy-mouthed justifications presented in response to my outraged objection go like these: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. It's done in the name of improving national security. If it catches terrorists then it's worth it.

As the bully pushes you and provokes you just a little bit further every day, when—if ever—do you fight back? Unfortunately the usual answer is never. It's a pattern that's been repeated over and over since the dawn of civilization and yet somehow the victim never sees it coming!

Logical people with years of university education under their belts might immediately protest that I'm describing the proverbial slippery slope argument, and that this argument is more often than not fallacious. Maybe, but when a provocateur is actively spraying the precipitous slope your standing on with a garden hose, it's a good bet he's not looking out for your own best interest.

By the time the people who can actually do something about this slow-motion coup d'état, wake up and actually start doing something, well you guessed it. The judicial branch and the legislative branch have a duty which they are failing to fulfill. The Democratic party is indulging in the grossest and most conspicuous abnegation of their own power and prerogative I've ever imagined, and apparently all the Republican Party can do is moan that they've fallen and they can't get up. the takeover is nearing completion. Do you truly expect this tyrant to step-down on January 20, 2017? He's got three more years to spin his webs of deceit, to wield executive orders to remove every restraint on his power, to install complaisant cronies in every vacant judicial seat, to outrage the populace to the breaking point, and beyond...until...martial law becomes "The Law."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Logic vs. Fairy Tale

On this one year anniversary of the Newtown massacre, the police investigating the case have released information that had previously not been made public. There are many people who are drawn to this kind of thing, like some kind of morbid forensic curiosity. Most of us are much less intrigued by this sifting through crime residue. We all understand that people kill other people, sometimes they have a motive and other times it seems completely senseless. It's these apparently senseless murders that trouble us the most. We want closure. We want these atrocities to make sense, and when they don't some people are compelled to create or craft some sort of explanation that makes sense.

In Newtown the senseless nature of the crime along with the incredible efficiency with which the killer dispatched his victims has led to this mass-murder serving as a touchstone for gun-control—or perhaps a shibboleth if you happen to respect the 2nd Amendment.

The arguments for and against stricter gun-control continue to rage. There's a huge segment of the population that simply wishes that there were no such thing as guns. These people believe that if there were no guns the human race could return to a simpler time when there weren't murders, when there weren't rapes, violent assault, robbery, arson, genocide, etc. If these people were given the proverbial three wishes from the genie in Aladdin's lamp, they'd spend the first wish on world peace, the second on wishing every gun in the world to vanish from existence, and the third on a carbon tax.

Well of course most non-delusional people with even a rudimentary understanding of world history are aware of the undeniable fact that in the thousands of years that came before the first trigger was ever pulled, murders were rampant, as was the entire laundry list of atrocities that have plagued humans for their entire history. Logic is apparently so incredibly difficult for the vast gun-control movement to employ. Logic must be an arcane skill unknowable and unworkable for the many in their ivory towers and their carbon-neutral San Jose chateaus.

This is the logic chain that they find so incomprehensible:
  1. People since the dawn of time have harmed other people for some reason. Even an apparently motiveless crime has a motive even if it's as trivial as mere boredom.
  2. People—in contrast to animals—make and use tools to accomplish tasks more quickly and more efficiently. Furthermore, people continue to seek better and better tools in order to accomplish these tasks they want to accomplish even more quickly and more efficiently. If they don't have the best tool for whatever reason, they'll make do with a different one.
  3. People team up and share tools, teach each other tool-making and tool using skills. They do this for their own reasons although these reasons often align loosely with those of the other team members.
  4. Some teams today are known as street-gangs. Other teams are known as police. People who are not members of teams like these find themselves at a serious and often life-threatening disadvantage in this violent world of kill-or-be-killed.
  5. This is a kill-or-be-killed world. Many people on the left and in the rose-tint-bespectacled peace and love crowd want to deny that this is so. They'd immediately start talking about the rule of law. Okay, but who is it that enforces this rule of law? It's the team with the most members, wielding the most efficient killing tools. If you don't understand that this is a kill-or-be-killed world, let me assure you that it's core training if not rule-number-one in every police academy on Earth.
  6. If you aren't a police officer, you are at a serious often life-threatening disadvantage compared to every police officer walking around. You don't have a two-way radio. You don't have a license to kill with the gun so visible on your hip. You don't have a badge, and therefore you aren't protected by this shield of power so compellingly symbolized by this badge. The rule of law cited so often by well-meaning yet deluded gun-control enthusiasts is designed to protect team members, i.e. police. Not civilians.
Imagine a world of sheep and wolves. Sprinkled throughout this vast world are a few shepherds with weapons superior to the teeth of the wolves. If this were a perfect world, the shepherds would never fail to protect the sheep from the wolves. In this perfect world the shepherds would never be careless, never sleep, never lose sight of a single sheep, never fail to get there in time.

If this world sounds familiar ... well it should sound familiar. It's the very world that Piers Morgan waxes so eloquently and pompously upon every time the subject of gun-control is brought up. To hear him tell it, Great Britain is a veritable Garden of Eden where toothless wolves and defenseless sheep and a sprinkling of shepherds ensure that every last dear defenseless little sheep can graze worry free and everyone gets to live happily ever after ... like it might be in all those fairy tales.

UPDATE 12/28/13 3:04PM CST
Item number six above is perfectly illustrated by this story: South on alert as manhunt intensifies for cop killer

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Outrage over nothing, and nothing over an outrage


Life on this planet fights to survive. It's a war that's been going on for three and a half billion years. At this point in the planet's history, humanity has evolved to the pinnacle of efficient fighting. We don't very often actually have to even go to war anymore to achieve our objectives. We don't even have to snarl or growl anymore to signal that there is a point of contention. We humans don't have to say a single solitary word. We leave others to read a thousand bad intentions in our silence.

In the news today I read two things that jumped out at me. The first was a complaint from those who hadn't been wronged, made against one who had never wronged them. China and North Korea are angry because the Prime Minister of Japan visited Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo Japan. That made me snort in puzzled confusion. Next I read about how 72 year old Warren Weinstein released a video wondering how long he'd be held captive. This captive in ill health with heart problems and asthma, how long would he be held like a captured pawn in the long-standing cold-war between the civilized world and the Islamic barbarians who wish only to see that world's destruction?
Within hours of the visit, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency warned that the “provocative move would drag Japan’s already-fragile relations with neighboring countries into an abyss.”

South Korea called it “deplorable and outrageous,” while the U.S. Embassy in Japan, in a statement, said it “is disappointed that Japan‘s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors.”
Much turmoil and malice can be read into the silence of a certain traveling PM on this most momentous of anniversaries, conveying a fourth dimensional explosion of ill will. Or maybe he was just honoring his ancestors who died long ago. I wonder whether Japan and Germany would be similarly outraged if President Obama traveled to Arlington on September 2nd or May 7th?

I'm sick and tired of it! I'm sick and tired to death of the descendants of one tribe holding a decades—if not centuries—long grudge at some other tribe who never in their entire lives did anything hostile to these aggrieved complaining jackasses who apparently have nothing better to do than complain. If my neighbor got mad at me and called a press conference every time I walked in my own backyard, at some point I'd start finding all kinds of things that needed doing in that old backyard. Why? Why on earth, you ask, would I want to make my neighbors angry? Well, the truth is I don't. But it is my backyard. I feel like that's the very definition of freedom. The freedom to enjoy the use of my own property whenever and however I want to, regardless of the umbrage and resentment that complaining grudge holders might feel about it.

I bet most people feel like the Prime Minister of Japan and I do. When somebody starts tailgating me even though the passing lane is wide open, it kind of get's me a little mad, a little stubborn. I'm not going to go faster; just the opposite in fact. When people start blaming me for things that happened to their ancestors, trying to make me feel guilty about it it get's me a little mad, a little stubborn. I'm not going to feel guilty about it; just the opposite in fact.

In a similar vein and understanding human nature as I do, it's quite obvious that Al-Qaeda will never voluntarily release Weinstein. The more we complain and show our anger about it, the more truculently they will parade him about, like he might be some contentious lolly-pop with which one child teases another who can only scream his envy. Equally obvious is the fact that Pakistan could secure that forced release if they really wanted to. They know where he is. They know the force required to rescue him, and yet they do nothing. We pay them billions of dollars a year in aid and in gratitude for that largesse, we are repaid only with passive-aggressive silence.
"Nine years ago, I came to Pakistan to help my government and I did so at a time when most Americans would not come here," [Warren Weinstein] said. "And now, when I need my government, it seems I have been totally abandoned and forgotten."
A passive response to this provocation would be to simply cut off every penny to truculent uncooperative Pakistan. Let them howl their outrage. Let them scream their vengeance. The almost inconceivable hypocrisy of claiming that America will not negotiate with terrorists, while simultaneously writing billion dollar checks to Pakistan leaves an American who cares about justice and loyalty nearly breathless in stunned outrage.

Sadly for Weinstein and his family and friends it seems that Obama has decided to let time itself remove this particular embattled pawn from the board. To Obama we're all merely pawns. Maybe you said something against him and now you're an IRS or NSA target. Maybe you wanted to start a 501c nonprofit and you had the temerity to put the words "tea" and "party" together in your charter. Too bad for you little pawn. Maybe you live on the southern border and you resent the incursion of illegal immigrants smuggling drugs and weapons into your neighborhood. Lock your doors and pray little pawn. Maybe Ambassador Stevens felt like he was more than another pawn in Obama's game. Maybe he thought he was actually a player in his own right as he headed that embassy in Benghazi. He was wrong.

One thing is absolute and certain. Umbrage, posturing, growling, and snarling doesn't usually accomplish very much. Action is necessary to right injustice. Definite and certain consequences are now required. This administration has grown ever more out of control as consequences have been waived or held in abeyance for year after year after year. When oh God when will the guilty pay for their crimes? The way it has been going so far, we won't see justice in this life.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Bidness

I had fun rewriting a famous Christmas poem called "Twas the night before Christmas". While my own rendition, perhaps lacks the good-natured charm and youthful spirit of the traditional Christmas and Santa Clause story, still in my own humble opinion it nevertheless captures my own conception of the magic and wonder of a modern day 21st century Christmas story. Warning There is a little bit of minor profanity. No F-bombs but a few B-bombs ... if there is such a thing.


Warning mild profanity and mature situations



Yo, check it. Night befo Chrismas and all through the hood,
not a homie was pimpin' 'tween Watkins and south 3rd.
The playahs was making they rounds like a punk,
jus' hopin' to bust one in some phat bitch's trunk.

Baby daddy was passed out in the back of his ride.
when he wake up he be so mad cuz it wrecked on one side.
Baby mama she dishin' that rock in tha kitchen.
It cracklin' and poppin' while all dem kids jus' be bitchin'.

They hungry as hell, so why she only cookin' rock?
They's a bidness to run, and she still on the clock!
"Damn!" mama think when she hear a noise at the front doh,
that thumpin' and a bangin' she know it be five-oh.

Well, that door it crash open, and outside it she can see
a blizzard of blue lights parked all around her tree.
They ain't festive, they ain't happy, not merry, not bright.
They workin' overtime through the whole Christmas night.

Well the sargeant he limps in, jus' a holdin onto his liver.
and he say he got her ass! and she goin up the river.
They search her crib faster than wetbacks snatch a dollah.
When they find that white kilo they really start to hollah!

"Hey, Stevo! Hey Donnie! Jus' lookie what I found!"
They was grinnin' and laughin' at a bust of near two pounds.
Five-oh waste no time takin' mama's sweet ass straight to jail.
They leave her wrackin her brain for who to call to make the bail.

Two hours later the wind blowing leaves all through the yard,
and Mama she watchin' through bars that's cold and hard.
She thinkin' 'bout who it was that must a dropped the dime,
and she plannin' epic payback once she done all her hard time.

And then it happen so fast she don't see it at all,
her baby daddy's hooptie come crashin' thru the wall.
Well mama ducked, and she dodged, as bricks went flying by.
Baby daddy was supah stupid, supah drunk, and supah high.

Baby daddy he representin'. He stylin' all in gold,
but driftin' all around him they's a cloud of shithouse mold.
He caughin' and a retchin' like to puke up his own lung,
snot, spit, and slobber was jus' a drippin' off his tongue.

His eyes—how they rollin' and he grinnin' like a freak!
His grill flashin' and winkin' as he cussin' up a streak!
He screamed at her "Come on bitch! We got to get outa dis place!"
But baby mama she so skeered of dat look that's on his face!

He backed out his hooptie that was smokin' and fetchin',
and steam boilin' out while the engine was catchin'.
With a scream of broke metal, he drive outa dem ruins,
so Mama she jumped in fo she knew what she was doin'.

Soon they's haulin' ass jus' as fast as you 'spect they might,
when 'hind them they can see a burning river of blue-light.
It aint lookin too good for mama and daddy on that day,
but they's still one more trick baby daddy gots left to play.

Daddy cussed not a bit, but went straight to the point,
he pulled out his lighter and he lit up a joint.
he tooked him a hit and he helt it in tight.
'till the panic had left him and he's feeling damn alright.

He swerved down a side rode, and on a wrecker up he went!
Dove out the hooptie and pulled a tarp over it like a tent.
Baby mama heard him whisper: "Bitch don't say a word!
We both still got Christmas bidness 'tween Watkins and south 3rd."



UPDATE
I stumbled across this: Macy's Black Santa, and thought to myself, you know self, there's a certain symmetry in the universe.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why the GOP establishment hates the Tea Party

"[The Tea Party] is misleading their followers," Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters at the Capitol. "I just think that they've lost all credibility."

"The establishment has no choice at this point," said former Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican who has criticized the tea party's growing influence. "So they're taking them on."

"To follow these groups is a downward spiral," Davis said.
It's telling that former Rep. Tom Davis used the word "establishment." That word has become a swear word to Tea Party patriots. What it means is that once a Republican politician has successfully ensconced himself in a position of influence and authority...that's it. He's untouchable. You can't criticize him. You can't run against him. You know...the Mafia has exactly the same system. Once a gangster has become a made man or Cosa Nostra he's untouchable.

The fact that our nation is on the verge of insolvency is apparently completely irrelevant to the establishment in power. To a man—or woman—they are all extremely well off. It seems virtually certain that with the money, privilege, and connections they possess, that once this foundering Titanic we still call the USA starts its final voyage to the murky depths below, these establishment politicians of both the Democratic as well as the Republican party will have nothing at all to worry about. They don't even need a life boat. They've got their own chartered jets, yachts, helicopters, villas in the Bahamas, Swiss bank accounts, and assorted escape hatches that have been in place for years if not for decades. The thing to remember about every one of these politicians and the decisions they make is that these people have no skin in the game whatsoever. They can do what they want. They're untouchable.

I only see them on television. It's hard to read the eyes of someone through a television set. It's hard to get a sense of their honesty, their character, their motivation through a digital representation. I listen to what they say and then watch them do the opposite. I hear them promise the moon and wonder why so many fools wait expectantly. It's not cynicism anymore to expect betrayal from a politician, it's just common sense. You might have heard me rail and rant before about our flawed system. Representative democracy just means that we choose the most convincing con-artists of all and put them in a position where they can take every one of us to the cleaners.

We pick the best talkers. We pick the smoothest, handsomest, hardest working campaigners, who shake the most hands and kiss the most babies. Most people never once question why a person wants to spend millions to get a job paying a tenth of that. Ah, it's like a cake walk. Once they're "made," a loyal member of the establishment, they can expect to not only continue to receive that tenth every year, but they also get the kind of perks enjoyed by only the most fabulously wealthy. They can jet-set around the country if they want to. They can dine at the most exclusive restaurants, and are waived through security checkpoints, lines, and other inconveniences. Yes, these modern-day princes and princesses of the realm are held practically unaccountable. Unless they betray the establishment. For that is the unforgivable sin. For that they get the cement shoes, the horse's head in the bed, the plastic sheet and the single bullet to the back of the head. Metaphorically speaking of course.

So you can see why the establishment hates the Tea Party. These upstarts, these young naïve fools who think they can just waltz in and take over. Why...they haven't done the time. They haven't waited patiently in line doing as they're told for years and years—by the establishment—until the day comes when all that time spent faithfully doing as they're told—by the establishment—pays off and they are permitted to recite the oaths of loyalty and finally receive Boehner's kiss on the lips.

We've finally reached a breaking point. The establishment at first tried to co-opt the Tea Party, bring them in under the big tent. But now that they realize it isn't going to work, now that they've realized that The Tea Party is composed primarily of patriots who don't care about political games and waiting in line for their own turn at the brass ring, now that the GOP realizes we want to tip over their little apple cart and maybe just possibly adjust course away from the looming iceberg of financial ruin dead-ahead, these establishment politicians are all going berserk!

In establishment politics it's all about expediency. You go with the flow. You don't make waves. You wait your turn. Expediency is the downhill road, the easiest path, the avoidance of trouble and strife. You take your time and always choose the most likely way. If a way forward is uncertain you poll test it and focus group it. Never stick your neck out. Never make any absolute commitments. Never directly answer hard questions. Always remember that what you say can—and will—be used against you in the court of public opinion.

With these princes of political expediency leading the way, holding forth their torches of mediocrity. The way forward is ever down and down and down. Hold your breath folks, the path ahead is looking pretty wet.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who enslaved Sub-Saharan Africans? Who took your own freedom away?

They did to it to themselves, and so did we all. In the same way that Native Americans agreed to trade vast tracts of land for beads and whiskey and guns, slaves consented to their slavery, and likewise we Americans have traded our freedom for the promises of liars and the daydreams of fools.

You can't make anybody do anything they don't agree to do. You can trick them. You can trap them. You can convince, cajole, connive, and conspire, but you can't really compel. At some point a slave agrees to do what somebody else wants him to do. There are forces and circumstances that make that easier. Their fear of pain. Their hunger. Their ignorance. These were just a few of the tricks of the slave trade. But regardless of what horror story you've got saved up—and I bet I've heard the most horrific, far more horrific than your little anecdote, more terrible even than the twisted coprophilia-laden fever-dreams of Martin Bashir—it's impossible to make somebody do anything they don't agree to do.

It's possible to imprison a person. It's possible to injure, torture, and kill a person. It's impossible to make them work. What are you going to do? Grasp their small hand in your large hand and make it close around a tuft of cotton? Grab their arm and shove the hand around and into the sack? Peel their fingers apart to let that tiny bit of cotton fall amongst the other tiny tufts? How many times will you do it? Have you really made them do anything? You say that at some point a person will do anything to escape sufficient pain, hunger, fear? That's true for most people. However, when you surrender to evil, no matter how compelling the circumstances, still—when all is said and done—you did surrender; didn't you? Jesus never surrendered. I bet he's not the only one. If we could go back a few hundred years, I bet their were some African captives who refused to be slaves.

All of us today, we grow up doing the easiest thing. If you want to know what our motto is—mankind's motto—it's probably: "Go with the flow." We take the easiest path. We do as we're told. We rarely question authority, and when we do it's because some other people told us to. We're not supposed to break the rules, but most people don't even know what all the rules are, much less why they are. For the last fifty years Americans have been losing a little bit more of their freedom every day. Every freedom lost is another nail hammered in. The recent vote by the US Senate to overturn 200 years of filibuster tradition regarding presidential appointments is only another nail hammered in. The fifth liberal appointed to the DC court of appeals with 52 votes is only another nail hammered in.

The number one rule in the military is never volunteer. Don't stick your neck out. Be careful. And yet in spite of all that common sense wisdom, our soldiers charge the hill, they throw themselves on the grenade, they fight, they get injured, maimed, killed. The pain they felt, the pain they feel, the fear, the hunger, the desperation and hopelessness is as real, as terrible, as horrific as that experienced by those slaves several hundred years ago. The difference is that one surrendered and the other didn't.

There are a few patriots going against the flow, desperately prying at nails already hammered in, but they are by far the minority. America agreed to lay down in its own coffin, and the politicians that we elected have been at work nailing down the lid for half a century. All that's left now is the crying and the shoveling of dirt. But remember that before you start pointing fingers and accusing everyone else...we did it to ourselves.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Smug educators the cause of modern-day illiteracy, IMO


"Learn or not, it's none of my affair." These words might as well be emblazoned in indelible gold-leaf at the top of every teacher's blackboard across the land. I lived through Dick and Jane, and subsequently survived ever more tedious and difficult to read onslaughts of teacher-promoted drudgery. A veritable blizzard of archaic and obscure terms, expressions, and colloquialisms were to be pounded by blunt force into my brain while I waited, confined interminably in the mind-numbing classrooms of each of a series of these publicly funded phrontisteries.

You'll have to forgive me. I've just trail-blazed my way through several very dense chapters of The Scarlet Letter, an almost impenetrable jungle of verbose logoreah by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I started to wade through the 15,000 word introduction called The Custom House—which as far as I can tell has absolutely nothing to do with the story at all—but ineluctably began skimming through line after line of pointless maundering—hunting for the substance known as plot in vain—as though I might be a Little Rascal named Stymie peeling an artichoke looking for something that vaguely resembles food.

The protagonist of the story is named Hester Prynne. Her husband had sent her to this town to wait while he attended to some business or another, but unfortunately he had been absent—perhaps presumed lost?—for a couple of years when she mysteriously became pregnant. The Puritans evidently had some sort of trial or proceeding in which Hester presumably might have been executed or had her forehead branded with an "A", but they mercifully decided that Mrs Prynne would forever after be forced to wear a prominent scarlet letter 'A' for adultress on her blouse or bodice or whatever they call a woman's garment with sleeves. Meanwhile, her long lost husband returns just in time to see her in all her ignominious glory while she's standing up there on her scaffold of shame.
In fact, this scaffold constituted a portion of a penal machine, which now, for two or three generations past, has been merely historical and traditionary among us, but was held, in the old time, to be as effectual an agent, in the promotion of good citizenship, as ever was the guillotine among the terrorists of France. It was, in short, the platform of the pillory; and above it rose the framework of that instrument of discipline, so fashioned as to confine the human head in its tight grasp, and thus hold it up to the public gaze. The very ideal of ignominy was embodied and made manifest in this contrivance of wood and iron. There can be no outrage, methinks, against our common nature—whatever be the delinquencies of the individual—no outrage more flagrant than to forbid the culprit to hide his face for shame; as it was the essence of this punishment to do. In Hester Prynne's instance, however, as not unfrequently in other cases, her sentence bore that she should stand a certain time upon the platform, but without undergoing that gripe about the neck and confinement of the head, the proneness to which was the most devilish characteristic of this ugly engine. Knowing well her part, she ascended a flight of wooden steps, and was thus displayed to the surrounding multitude, at about the height of a man's shoulders above the street.
I remember the assignment to read this book when I was in high school, but as I recall, I neglected to do so. I was somewhat the rebel and contrarian in those days and stubbornly held to my theory that language should inform and fiction should entertain. Thus books like Moby Dick and The Scarlet Letter, were best left to slowly molder away on some dusty library shelf. And doubly boring as far as I'm concerned—they shall each go down to the vile dust from whence they sprung, unwept, unhonored, and unsung.

I can only imagine what it must be like to the vast majority of young men and women whose only literary experience at all is found by stoically working their way through these archaic turgid tomes, chock-a-block with seldom- and even never-used words. Yes, I contumaciously inhaled the works of Robert Heinlein, R.A. Salvatore, Robert Jordan, Gordon R. Dickson, Terry Goodkind, Orson Scott Card, to name only a few, while conscientiously dissenting from each teacher-picked obstrocity—(a portmanteau I happen to like which means both an obstruction and an atrocity.)

Why—you might well ask—are impressionable young students whacked over the head with these opposites of entertainment? In my opinion, and having given it much thought, this notion of teaching so-called "great" literature is nothing more than sheerest vanity. A smug and supercilious professor who'd rather use the word explicate than explain or explore, loves nothing more in this world that feeling like he's a member of a class set apart. He's one of the few the proud the educated, a dweller in that educational ivory tower for which very few indeed hold a key. Perhaps—as he lovingly turns the pages of The Scarlet Letter—he imagines the legions of frustrated students screaming in outrage as they are forced again—for the ten-thousandth time—to flip through the pages of some great leviathan of an unabridged dictionary to find out what in the hell the word: "contumacious," means. Perhaps this professor imagines himself as some kind of immaculate grain sorter, separating the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

I believe that if you give people something that's actually fun to read, then most of them will actually read it. Instead students across the nation are given something tedious, sadly lacking in plot, overly verbose and given to wild flights of fictional histories, fictional biographies, fictional scenery, even—if you can imagine it—fictional daydreams of further fictional nonevents that our fictional protagonist merely wishes he had fictionally performed!

Somewhere along the way between the covers of Dick and Jane and The Scarlet Letter most kids flip on the boob-tube and never look back. Most teachers would just nod their heads patronizingly, explaining that some students just can't cut the mustard. Maybe, but why on earth do these educators keep trying to force-feed students all those jars of inedible 200 year-old petrified mustard?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Aggrievement con-artists and their brainwashed Zombie Horde


It's almost impossible to break through the self-inflicted brain-washing that a liberal wears like a wrap-around lead-lined helmet—with no eye-holes—to hide from reality. You can bang on it and make him angry, but you can't ever get through to him in any rational way.

Who are we? We're individuals and also members of many different groups. I'm a conservative. I'm also a southerner. I'm a computer programmer. A pet owner. A light sleeper. I also like to cook. I could address concerns that would only be of interest to cross-sections of each of those select groups. My blog is oriented mostly towards conservative arguments, but more specifically philosophical arguments of the kind that illustrate why conservatism is moral and true, while liberalism regardless of its historical roots has been hijacked by con-artists and the morons who believe them.

How is it possible that a female high-school drop-out with five children by five different men can call a former President of the United States, a man who graduated from Yale, and Harvard Business School—George W. Bush—an idiot, and as a reward, get warm fuzzy cheering and laughter from an equally moronic audience?

It works like this: a sophisticated interviewer—with a minor in behavioral psychology?—along with her camera crew, finds an imbecilic moron without a clue and then asks leading questions to this "man on the street." When the interviewer agrees with the sentiment expressed by a particularly clueless subject, she gives him nonverbal praise which might be in the form of smiling, laughter, nodding of the head, as well as verbal affirmation that goes like this: "yes, you're right" etc. And, "it's too bad people in Washington don't have common sense like you," etc.

I've made the point before that statistics are on our side—the conservative side—while the left has nothing but anecdotes. When we argue that more people are on food-stamps today than ever before in the entire history of America, what we get as a rebuttal, are talking points taking the form of a false dichotomy immediately followed by anecdotal evidence that seems to support it:
So, what you're saying, is that rather than having our government invest a few dollars in SNAP cards, you selfish Repuglicans would rather let millions upon millions of people just starve to death on the street?

You know, it just so happens that I've got a good friend who when she got out of college, was really poor. Luckily she finally landed a really good job but until then she didn't have enough money to pay her bills, her rent, much less money left over for food. She was a single mom and if it wasn't for SNAP, she probably wouldn't be here today. She'd have had to beg, whore, sell drugs, join a gang, shoot somebody, get shot? Is that what you people want?
So that's our either/or? It's to be SNAP or crazed gang-bangers. SNAP or a veritable Sargasso-sea of emaciated bodies littering the streets like confetti after a ticker tape parade. It's either Heaven on Earth or Hell with nothing in between. And the crowd goes wild! Having barely time to consider how to respond, much less begin to speak, the thunderous acclamation by a convenient mob of clueless bystanders makes any response to this absurd false dichotomy and straw-man argument totally impossible.

Having a conversation with a liberal means listening silently while they lecture you. When you point out why the illogical argument they've made is in fact illogical, instead of listening to your point they instead argue that you are mean, and stupid. Furthermore, because of your lack of membership in some aggrieved group, you lack standing to even make your argument in the first place. A perfect example of this is the endlessly promulgated argument that men are not allowed to have an opinion against abortion because they can't get pregnant.

When you have self-abnegated yourself to the extent that you no longer believe you are even worthy to have an opinion on an issue, congratulations! You have just become another member in the group of mindless intellectual cannon-fodder that the liberal political con-artists of the nation employ against conservatives—in much the same way that hackers around the world employ legions of hacked Window's XP-computers in massive denial of service attacks against whoever they happen to be mad at today.

Friday, November 29, 2013

There was an old lady who...


It's the day after Thanksgiving—11/29/2013. I'm at work—although as you can readily see by reading these words—not working all that hard. I'm still here though, not at home sleeping in. Not at home watching the kids play. Not at home doing what I'd rather be doing. It occurred to me that, in spite of being at work, nevertheless I'm happy, joyous, and free. Well maybe not free, but definitely happy and joyous. Obligations must be answered and responsibilities must be met. I'm needed in the way that a heart is needed, both at work and also to meet my family's obligations. That's a great thing, and yet a dreadful thing. To be needed completely and essentially, and unable to be done without, is wonderful and yet in a kind-of-sort-of-way it's slavery too. I have no choice. My chains are forged of faith hope and love, but they're no less unbreakable than if they were heavy links of cold steel.

A colleague at work told me this morning that her neck was sore. She'd spent half of Wednesday and Thursday cooking for her family. She was justifiably proud of her accomplishment and even more proud of that extra mile she went by finding a homeless man and taking him home with her and giving him the biggest meal he'd seen in a long-long time. Working like that for others...does that make her a slave? When I think about it I suppose that if we're doing what we choose to do even if we'd rather be doing something different we're still free. We make the choice to serve instead of being served and so yes we're servants but still free. Even so I'm not completely free. I'm held, captured, chained by rules, obligations, expectations, and finally by custom. That latter one is the hardest for me to bear. Free to fart and burp...maybe when I'm all by myself. Free to explain that there wouldn't be beggars if nobody ever gave them anything ... a message seldom understood and more rarely accepted. Freedom of speech ... it's not at all, all that it's cracked up to be. A truly free person would feel free to tell the fat woman in the motorized grocery-shopping cart that she is a rolling stereotype, that maybe I'm not a prophet, but nevertheless come on lady!—rise, take up thy bed, and just walk for Christ's sake!

It's when I find myself standing in line that I feel most like a slave. Standing in line is the most useless thing there is to do in this world. Who invented such a thing? Somebody standing in line isn't accomplishing anything for anybody. He's not working and yet he's not doing what he wants. He's a slave—in fact—standing there in that stupid pointless line. Shuffling forward a slow step at a time, unable to sit and rest, unable to eat, to sleep, to relieve himself, waiting only for the reason that somebody else has decided he's going to wait. Nevertheless even with that worst of all things—waiting in line—there's still hope...

Yesterday at Thanksgiving dinner, my father and another man—named Mike I think—were having a discussion about the gentleman's old business. He'd sold his bicycle shop in the nick of time. "There's just no reason to invest in everything a small shop requires anymore," Mike said. "There's no more middleman. People buy on-line straight from the factories." It was Amazon, Priceline, Ebay, and a host of other online retailers who understood that the future is "point-and-click" not "wait-in-line." Likewise, the number of people working from home is only going to get bigger. No more waiting in line to get on the expressway. No more waiting in line to get through the metal detector at work. No more waiting for a parking spot. Less waiting more living...that's what freedom is. When you're old and dying in your bed many years from now, what would you give for all those years you spent standing in line?

So how much time do you spend in line? Do you find ways to avoid those lines? If you deal with the government in any appreciable way you spend most of that time waiting in line. The government is still stuck in slavery mentality. You walk into a government office and they immediately start asserting their bureaucratic authority. Turn off your cell-phone. Take a number. Wait. Do you have all the asininely redundant paperwork properly completed? Do you have all the requisite proof of this and that? Did you forget to fill out form blah-blah-blah? Sorry—not!—you'll have to go get that missing thing and once you have it then you can come back to wait back at the end of the line, stupid slave.

It occurs to me that government is the opposite of freedom. Well, you say we need it, and I guess we do need some of it. But this much? I don't think so. There is a children's song that perfectly captures the concept of what government is and what it becomes:

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly.
I dunno why she swallowed that fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly -
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird;
How absurd, to swallow a bird!
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly -
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat.
Imagine that, she swallowed a cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die

There was an old lady who swallowed a dog.
What a hog! To swallow a dog!
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat...
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a goat.
Just opened her throat and swallowed a goat!
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog ...
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat.
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow.
I don't know how she swallowed a cow!
She swallowed the cow to catch the goat...
She swallowed the goat to catch the dog...
She swallowed the dog to catch the cat...
She swallowed the cat to catch the bird ...
She swallowed the bird to catch the spider
That wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly.
But I dunno why she swallowed that fly
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse -
She's dead, of course.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Occam's razor and Obama's incompetance

Nobody is this stupid. It has got to be some kind of conspiracy to completely destroy America. This hapless stumbling around in the Mid-East with regimes failing, new Islamic Brotherhood regimes starting and failing, drone strikes hitting everything but legitimate targets, letting Russia's Putin make a play for Egypt, pissing off all or our allies with asinine decisions about pipelines and deep-sea drilling, printing money hand over fist, infuriating our own citizens by ramming through an economy destroying socialist healthcare system, the Healthcare.gov website travesty, the NSA gone wild wire tapping boondoggle, the IRS bootheel crushing freedom of speech and assembly by selective targeting and auditing, the Benghazi tragedy, Fast and Furious ...

Nobody could possibly be this incredibly incompetent! It has got to be some kind of incredibly sophisticated international conspiracy designed to completely destroy America from within and without and from sea to shining sea.

If there were a conspiracy, why ... we could fight back! We could expose the backers, the money launderers, the kingpins. This would be a spy-thriller kind of story where the enemy agents of change would be neutralized in the nick of time and America would then get to live happily ever-after. If only...

Take some time to read the following short story, please. I promise it's quite entertaining and it's the quintessential epitome of the vast conspiracy theory that assumes our President is a maniacal genius mastermind bent on world destruction. It's called Breaking the Game. It's a story found in the short story collection by Orson Scott Card titled: Capitol. This link worked today. It may not tomorrow.

Sadly, or perhaps luckily, Obama is not Abner Doon, instead he's merely a buffoon. He's the poster-child for the word: Errorgance. That word—by Brandon Sanderson—is a portmanteau of the words 'error' and 'arrogance,' and it means "to be twice as certain as someone who is merely arrogant, while possessing only one-tenth the requisite facts."

Obama, an arrogant moron with an IQ of roughly 90, considers himself to be the worlds foremost authority on literally everything. You can't tell him shit. How I wish that phrase was actually his epitaph. Obama's towering undiminishable pride was never earned by any actual accomplishment. He skipped through life with a red-carpet rolling out before him and an escort of like-minded fools scattering rose-petals at his feet. There just has to be some kind of demonic force at work trying to destroy us all. The monumental disaster that is the Obama regime couldn't have happened by accident. It's just too diabolical. Ruin and destruction of this magnitude has to have some kind of super-intelligent malignant author.

But if Obama and his absurd cohort of fools are merely puppets of some sinister architect pulling the strings behind a curtain, then some people would have to conspire to keep this fact secret. They would have to have other people conspiring to whisper advise into our Fool-in-Chief's ear at every defining moment. It's just not possible to keep that many people quiet. You'd need more people to shut the talkers down, to make them have fatal accidents, to listen to their phone calls and hack their emails. You'd need a vast left-wing conspiracy! Occam's razor cuts this whole conspiracy theory to shreds.

No. It's just not possible. He's no genius! He's just a moron who has spitefully and fatefully found himself at the metaphorical bull's-eye of time and space where dynasties and destinies collide. He's like some Moronic Grand Marshall leading a retinue of diverse morons, a deaf dumb and blind pied piper leading a callithumpian parade of lemmings off of some proverbial cliff-top.

Is it a comedy or a tragedy? Would Shakespeare laugh or cry? Maybe a little of both. Eat, drink, and be merry, ladies and germs. I think the final act of this majestic tragic farce is probably about to start.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The sheer orgasmic thrill of no worries socialism!

Yes, I used an exclamation point in the title! I couldn't be more excited...about socialism that is! Gosh I feel just like Billy Mays! Hi One-Eyed Jack here, for Socialism! Good for me! And good for you! Now gimme some! Now gimme some! Mmm good! Mmm good! Real good! Real good!

Imagine that you never have to worry about rent. You never have to worry about the power bill. You don't have to worry about a car note, or retirement, or medical bills, food, entertainment! The list of things that you'll never have to worry about ever again just goes on and on and on!

You're probably thinking: "Well...sure Jack, that sounds great, but what's the catch?" That's just it folks! There is no catch! You get everything you need, and you don't have to pay one red cent for it. It's all absolutely free. You don't need a money back guarantee, because you don't spend a thing!

Okay, some of you probably think I'm overselling this product—socialism!—but it's so revolutionary so incredible that no praise no matter how effusive no matter how hyperbolic could ever in a million years in this ever expanding universe, even begin to do justice to the perfect collectivist awesomeness of this share and share alike concept! That's all there is to it, by the way. Share and share alike.

Some people point out that Socialism! has failed time after time. They mumble under their breath—as though suffering from some political form of Tourette's syndrome—this bizarre litany of names and nonsensical syllables, like: Khmer Rouge, Kulak, Joseph Stalin, Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot.

Irrational fear and sour grapes is all that is, folks. If you're out on a picnic and you have a basket full of food, and a hungry child asks you for a sandwich, with my product—Socialism!—she gets that sandwich and you, well you just feel great about it. What could be more perfect than that?

Maybe you've found yourself in your home, just wandering aimlessly about. Walking around and around your mansion or six bedroom penthouse condo. You don't know what's wrong, but you darn sure know there's a problem. Your problem is that you've simply got way too much space! Socialism is gonna take care of that for you! There's no need for a small family of two or three people to bounce around in a big house with too many bedrooms, too many bathrooms, and all that empty space. Not to mention that every month you have to keep paying through the nose to keep it heated and air-conditioned. Share and share alike will solve every problem!

You say there's no room in the freezer to put any more food? You say you can't even wedge in one more grape, or a single ounce of caviar? This product—Socialism!—is absolutely guaranteed to restore some—if not all—of that refrigerator space you've been missing. You see, there's a whole country full of empty refrigerators and what we do—with Socialism!—is we spread all of that food around to the empty refrigerators. It's genius!

Now some people say, Jack, what about working conditions? What will I be expected to do to make a living in this new perfect utopia of share and share alike? Well folks, you'll just keep doing whatever you're already doing. Unless we decide that we need you to do something different. Then you'll do that instead. But don't worry; whatever we decide you'll enjoy doing, we promise you're going to enjoy doing it for as long as we decide!

It works like this. Suppose you design integrated circuits, and you've been doing that since you graduated from MIT. Every year there's this big hassle where they review what you've done and decide if you get to keep your job. Every year your blood pressure gets higher and the stress gets higher and the bills get higher and if it keeps on like this...yep you're gonna go pop! So what we do is put you in a position where all that thinking and decision-making aren't required. No more stress! Ah, the bliss of low expectations.

I haven't even gotten to the best part! Listen, don't pick up that phone. Not until you hear this...no more complaints! That's right, nobody will complain about your work performance. As long as you keep filling your quota you don't have to worry about a thing. If the parts don't fit together quite the way they should, that's not your problem. You just send it on down the line. No worries!

Are you getting excited yet? I know, I know. There's always a few people out there who wait for the catch. There's always these cynical few who look for the dark cloud wrapped around every silver lining. But this product—socialism!—couldn't be easier to get your hands on. All you have to do ... is nothing! It's so incredible that I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack just thinking about it. OMG! If you want—Socialism!—you do nothing! That's it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Do you know Jack Schmidt?


Jack Schmidt is an American and a regular guy. He does regular things, makes a middle-class living and has a wife and a couple of kids. He likes bowling and paintball but hates watching sports on television. In fact he hates television...period. "Life's too short to spend it hypnotized in front of a glowing box that tells you lies," he's said on more than one occasion. Jack is very opinionated. So much so, that in his spare time he likes to read political op-eds, think about how the country could be better, and argue on-line with people about various political topics.

Unfortunately most of the topics which he's most opinionated about, he's not terribly knowledgeable in. Like most Americans, he knows less than he thinks he knows, and thinks he knows more than most Americans. What he doesn't know, what he's never imagined, is that he's living in a fantasy world. His world exists in a state of flux and it's so unstable, so transitory, that the slightest shove, perhaps even the merest careless breath, could cause his ephemeral house of cards to completely collapse, leaving him merely another messy statistic that some other regular American has to scrape off of the sidewalk, and then sandblast clean.

Jack Schmidt thinks he's free. That's a lie they started telling him way back in kindergarten. They—and by "they" I mean people who get a government paycheck—began teaching Jack that he had all of these "inalienable rights." He had the right to say whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted to. That "free speech" right would guarantee that even if what he wanted to say made other people angry, still he had the right to say it. Jack was also taught that he had the right to peaceably assemble. To get together in a public place with like-minded friends, colleagues, and compatriots, to protest, discuss, teach, learn, meet, greet, or just have a picnic lunch. There were a whole bunch of rights he was told he had, but there are just too many to list here. If you're curious about what those rights were, they're still listed in an old dog-eared document called "The Constitution of the United States," and the attached "Bill of Rights."

What Jack hasn't figured out yet, what every regular American hasn't figured out yet, is that by hook or by crook, by stealth and artifice, by chicanery and malevolent intent, every one of those rights have each been stolen away, taken back, evaporated, and dismissed. The way they—and by "they" I mean people who get a government paycheck—did it, was to decide what right they wanted to take away from regular Americans, and then they passed a law, or reinterpreted a law, or just plain made something up that totally ignored that theoretical "right." Then they waited for some outraged regular guy to complain and say something stupid like: "Hey you can't do that! That's unconstitutional." Then they would laugh. Oh how they'd laugh! The arguing and bickering about the validity of the right would go on sometimes for years, but inevitably it would wind up in front of the SCOTUS—Supreme Court of the United States—where nine sober Justices would decide on narrowly partisan lines that Americans have no rights—inalienable or otherwise.

Poor Mr. Schmidt never saw that side of it unfortunately. He'd get all worked up about the latest SCOTUS decision but he never bothered to connect the dots. The dots unconnected were just dots, but a pencil and a little common sense would have quickly sketched a portrait that—had he seen it—would have horrified Jack Schmidt, or in fact the vast majority of regular Americans.

Governments aren't exactly like people. They're invented by people, composed of people, and designed to control people, and one day they die just like people, but they don't die the way people die. You see when governments die they take a whole bunch of people with them. The dying can happen overnight or it can stretch on for decades but one thing's for sure, no amateur theatre actor hamming it up and dying all over the stage ever came within a galaxy of depicting the gargantuan and gory death throes of a nation.

When Jack Schmidt makes financial decisions, his decisions never factor in the possibility of a King Kong-like demise with himself clutched like Faye Wray in an inescapable hairy grip. A line from a great American movie keeps asking a question of paramount significance in Jack's mind but he never answers the question, nor even realizes that it's been asked. The question that should consume every American regular or otherwise...
Phil: What if there were no tomorrow?
Gus: No tomorrow? That would mean there would be no consequences, there would be no hangovers. We could do whatever we wanted!
Phil: [thinking] That's true. We could do...whatever we wanted.
When a government is bankrupt, those who get a government paycheck begin to panic. Because they're the ones who make the rules, enforce the rules, and decide the penalties for disobedience, they logically conclude that during whatever kind of societal upheaval that might happen they're the ones in the best position to remain on top. Historically it has always been people like these who decide what rights if any the people are permitted to retain. Suddenly pesky little rights like owning a gun are found to be completely in the way of "progress." Likewise, having a fully stocked pantry when other people are starving is just completely selfish. When necessary work isn't being done because nobody's able to pay for the workers, suddenly that old 13th Amendment outlawing slavery will be reinterpreted.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
There you see? The 13th Amendment has a built in exception. If you need some slaves, all you have to do is quickly pass some new laws that people are unable to obey or perhaps don't even know about, then once people ineluctably do break these laws you will be able to acquire a ready made work force. It's called fascism and it's what happens when governments go bankrupt due to excessive borrowing, taxation, and money printing. But Jack Schmidt is still quietly putting his savings in his 401K. He's still quietly paying down that 30-year mortgage, he's even socking away everything he can spare in an IRA that will one day hopefully pay for his kids to go to college. If his world were real, if there were actually going to be a "tomorrow," then he would be all set.

One final thing to point out. We now live in a country where things like THIS happen. What do you think they'll do when things really go tits-up?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Not Affordable Not Care Act

You should read this article on American Thinker. It's brilliant.
In his weekly radio address, President Obama preposterously pouted that "it's well past the time for folks to stop rooting for [ObamaCare's] failure," with the obvious implication that conservative Republicans are in fact cheering for the pain of the un-insured.

No, Mr. President, we are not. We are, however, having a delicious moment of schaden-fraud. This is the magnificent validation we are experiencing as all elected Democrats and members of the Jurassic media are fast discovering that the man and the plan they have so arrogantly shoved down our throats - and so naively placed their hopes in -- are simultaneously being exposed as shams.

And sham-wow, is it ever cathartic, as we have been called racists, terrorists, hostage-takers, kooks, haters, and stupid for years -- all because we deigned to be correct about the biggest legislative boondoggle in American history. Of course, only a few of the Kool-Aid drinkers are admitting this...yet...but we can sense that many of them are panicking on the realization that they might one day have to.
What is insurance? That's what this whole drawn-out catastrophically misguided Affordable Care law is all about. It's not about affordable care. Nothing in the law is designed to lower the cost of healthcare. Nothing in the law will make doctors' fees, nurses' fees, hospitals' fees become lower. It's all about our national 3rd party payment system. Therefore the law's name is wrong. Affordable Care Act. What about the word "affordable?"
These middle-class consumers are staring at hefty increases on their insurance bills as the overhaul remakes the healthcare market. Their rates are rising in large part to help offset the higher costs of covering sicker, poorer people who have been shut out of the system for years.

Although recent criticism of the healthcare law has focused on website glitches and early enrollment snags, experts say sharp price increases for individual policies have the greatest potential to erode public support for President Obama's signature legislation.

"This is when the actual sticker shock comes into play for people," said Gerald Kominski, director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "There are winners and losers under the Affordable Care Act."
Evidently the name Affordable Insurance Act is also not completely correct. Affordable Insurance Act. Well then let's just call it Obamacare. What it is, is a re-distributive insurance program. Lifelong, next to taxes, insurance is the next-biggest item taken out of the average person's paycheck. I know it's that way for me—and just about everyone I know who works for a living. So the idea is that the $8,800/year I already pay for insurance has been deemed by the President—and his goons—as not enough? It has to go higher still? So that people without jobs, people living below the poverty line, people with pre-existing conditions, and illegal aliens can get the same medical care as I get—because I fork over half the price of a new car every year to pay for it? What do groups I've listed do? Apparently they just exist. They live their unfortunate little lives and they expect Big Brother to take care of them. To provide them with a roof over their heads, food on their table, transportation, and now medical care.

Keep in mind that they already had emergency care. Now they can make appointments and see a doctor just like everyone else. At first blush that sounds like an improvement. After all, it costs a lot more for someone to go to an emergency room than it does for the same person to go to a regular doctor in private practice. Unfortunately, it is readily observable that people with access to insurance make appointments and see their doctor far more often than they would ever go to an emergency room. Whether for migraines, flu symptoms, minor aches and pains, vaccinations, mental problems, anxiety, a whole grab-bag of hypochondriacal malaise, etc, people who have health insurance tend to use it. They use it all the time and almost always for non-life threatening problems. In contrast, going to the emergency room is a major ordeal. The usual "triage" on-going at most every emergency room usually means a wait of several hours, if not all day, before the typical non-life-or-death patient is seen to.

Think of health insurance the way you think of an all-you-can-eat buffet. You pay your entry price and once inside, you're permitted to consume as much as you desire for no additional charge. There's a copay of course but it's not usually too much—around $30 for most visits. About the price of a restaurant meal for two. But for anything beyond simple office procedures there's a deductible which can be a major expense! Luckily, simple office procedures comprise 83% of what Americans require from their health care professionals. The rest, surgeries, hospital stays, emergency rooms, the more expensive procedures that would entail deductible payments are the remaining 17%. Source CDC Faststats.

$8840 was the price to get me through the door, but now this buffet is going to be open to everyone. The operators of this here "all-you-can-eat emporium" still have to pay for all the consumables, for the kitchen help, the bus help, the servers, the maître d, not to mention rent, utilities, taxes, and yes—health care! If some people are getting through the door more cheaply or for free then all the costs of running this buffet must be passed on somewhere else. In this particular case it's not being passed on to the "rich," it's being passed on to the middle class, and to the "young" who normally don't worry about insurance when they're in their twenties.

So then Obamacare was designed all along to increase the cost of my own healthcare so that those "less fortunate" would benefit from my hardship. I'm supposed to scrimp even more, or work even more hours than I already do, because you know, not only could things be worse, worse is the usual outcome. Hope and Change—Worse. Affordable Care Act—Worse. Price of food and gasoline—Worse. Taxes—Worse. College tuition—Worse. Retirement...it is to laugh!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The death of the advertising industry


Advertising is a scam! When I think about the way that advertising and public relations works, in my mind's eye I see a bunch of penguins waddling around honking at each other, all of them so very serious and oh so sophisticated. Maybe it's like hypnosis?...It doesn't work at all on most people, but for those few upon whom it does, it really does? That's the only thing that makes any sense. This useless segment of our economy absorbs 140 billion a year in revenues.

I'll address the two standard boilerplate arguments. First, it promotes awareness of products and services, and second it increases sales of those products and services. Really if you think about it, these two reasons are the same reason—the only reason that advertising exists is because it increases sales of products and services, and the only measure of success in advertising is the measure by which sales increase following that advertising.

Does anyone ever listen to the radio anymore? Ever since I got my new Toyota Camry with a Bluetooth capable stereo system, I've been listening to Pandora through my car's speakers using my iPhone. I've completely stopped listening to the radio. It means I miss the traffic updates, but honestly, I usually missed those anyway because I was surfing through channel after channel trying to find something besides an endless stream of commercials. Pandora has a commercial or two after a set of four or five songs. The commercial lasts less than 30 seconds, then it's back to the music. Not only that but I get to listen to the entire song without a DJ talking through half of it.

Does anyone still watch regular network television anymore? I watch one of several movie channels, sometimes Netflix, sometimes Amazon, but mostly Comcast On-Demand programming. If there are any commercials they're brief and they never interrupt the actual program itself. The only things left to advertise with are billboards, The Yellow Pages, magazine lap-flaps, and of course a gazillion internet advertisements. Billboards are easily ignored. Who uses a phonebook anymore? Who buys magazines anymore? As for all the internet ads and spam in my inbox, that problem is being actively fought with both ad-blocking software as well as a variety of new legislation.

Who clicks on web ads? Who listens to a radio commercial and thinks to himself, I've got to have that! Who sees a Pizza-Hut commercial on television and then picks up the phone? It doesn't make any sense to me. As far as I can tell, the only way that advertising works at all is by promoting brand awareness. I'm more likely to eat at a familiar restaurant than I would at Jim-bob's Burger Shack. Otherwise advertising is growing more and more unlikely to reach the limited audience who are actually influenced by it.

Many people feel that advertising is a necessary evil. It's just one of those things we put with for the greater good or something. After all they wonder, how else would businesses promote their products? In the old days they had people shouting their wares into the street. "Peaches get your peaches here, juicy and sweet," etc. But today they have the mainstream media do it for them. Unfortunately for advertisers, mainstream media is becoming less relevant every day.

If you think advertising is still so necessary, why do you suppose that people still buy name brand cigarettes? When's the last time you saw a cigarette commercial? Yet still people buy certain kinds, pack after pack after pack. Still they choose to buy the brands of Marlboro and Newport the most. If advertisers suddenly stopped advertising soft-drink brands today, do you think people would stop buying Coca-Cola and Pepsi tomorrow?

I have the same opinion of advertisers that I have for people who pee in public pools. Advertising is all around us in our daily lives and if we're in a public pool so is that other product. Even though we just ignore both of them, nobody is too happy about either one. There are undoubtedly the few odd individuals who enjoy commercials ... or pee in the pool for that matter, but for the rest of us ... not so much. In spite of the—I'm sure—serious effort required to produce the aforementioned environmental additives, I bet most of us could go the rest or our lives without having either one of them in our faces.

Because of all those new technologies mentioned, traditional advertising will soon be suffering on its deathbed. Why watch commercials on television when you can TIVO them and skip right through? Why listen to commercials on the radio when you can tune them out with satellite radio or use any of the streaming music sites on the internet? Why bother buying a newspaper or a magazine when all that information in on the internet and your ad-blocker stops commercials on the other side of your firewall? Soon the only advertising that will be possible will be the product placement kind. For example, I could probably provide brand awareness of fourteen different brands in a typical blog post and you'd probably never even notice.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The end of medicine as we know it?

The more you use an antibiotic, the more you expose a bacteria to an antibiotic, the greater the likelihood that resistance to that antibiotic is going to develop. So the more antibiotics we put into people, we put into the environment, we put into livestock, the more opportunities we create for these bacteria to become resistant. …We also know that we’ve greatly overused antibiotics and in overusing these antibiotics, we have set ourselves up for the scenario that we find ourselves in now, where we’re running out of antibiotics.

We are quickly running out of therapies to treat some of these infections that previously had been eminently treatable. There are bacteria that we encounter, particularly in health-care settings, that are resistant to nearly all — or, in some cases, all — the antibiotics that we have available to us, and we are thus entering an era that people have talked about for a long time.

For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics, question mark?” Well, now I would say you can change the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”

We’re here. We’re in the post-antibiotic era. There are patients for whom we have no therapy, and we are literally in a position of having a patient in a bed who has an infection, something that five years ago even we could have treated, but now we can’t. …
Do you think very many people are even aware of this problem? Do you think the ones who who do know about it actually care very much about it? Not being a doctor or scientist I'm torn between dismissing it as more sky-is-falling nonsense, or the CDC crying wolf again, or Cassandra—of Greek myth—who could foretell the future, but was cursed by the gods so that she was never believed. My hunch is that Cassandra is telling the truth. I've lived long enough to notice that they keep coming out with new medicines and new pesticides because the old ones just don't work anymore. Bugs whether visible or microscopic are problems that are going to get worse, not better.
And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
I've often wondered if the hour of the prophesied Biblical Armageddon was impossible to predict because it depended on the decisions that mankind has made over the centuries. We have free-will. Is it possible that our own actions will bring about the end either sooner or perhaps later? We've constructed and positioned a number of Damoclesian Swords over our heads. The most frightening is the nuclear one, but there are others. There's the danger of a famine caused by the failure of pesticides to control crop devouring insects. The one looming most threateningly right now to me is the inevitable failure of antibiotics to cure infections at some point in the near future. If bacteria can't be killed by available antibiotics, then we can't perform surgeries. We can't do organ transplants. We can't treat most cancers. We'll be back to staying home and hoping for miracles.

I can't help feeling like we're all on some careening bob-sled rollicking down the chute at some impossibly terrifying speed, and we can't see around the corner of the next curve and we're just hanging on for dear life. What's at the end? Is it the Four Horsemen or will we stave-off that final reckoning with more manmade miracles? What possibilities remain beyond antibiotics? One avenue that I pray scientists are pursuing is viral research. The enemy of my enemy may perhaps be turned into a friend. Bacteria can be beneficial, like the ones in our intestines, but when they go rogue on us wouldn't it be nice if we could custom tailor a virus specifically engineered to wipe out that particular infectious breed of virulent bacteria?

Computers keep getting faster and robots keep getting smarter, their parts keep getting smaller, and we rely on them more and more every day. It's possible that as the field of nanotechnology advances, we'll one day be able to design microscopic little robots that perform a function similar to our own white-blood cells. It's all in the timing isn't it? In movies they disarm the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator at the very last second, and the audience gives a sigh of relief. These sure are some interesting times.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Turning the other cheek and natural selection


Darwin's universe is one of constant competition. If you're not competitive you don't pass on your genes, and your particular strain of life dies out. From a Darwinian standpoint the only measure of success is whether you have offspring, and how many, and they in their turn, and so on. It's a brutal yet simple way of looking at the world. Sentience doesn't change that fundamental goal. In Darwin's world the losers are not only dead, their whole species is extinct. Evolutionists believe that flora and fauna have been at war in this way since life on this world magically ordered itself out of chaos and began to live. Since that mysterious first cause caused itself, it's been all-out war! Natural selection, combined with random mutation has been at work since then, differentiating the species making each new generation more successful at survival than the last.

Nonbelievers love to quote Bible scripture at us. "Turn the other cheek," they quote after their own verbal low-blow visibly ticks a Christian off. If we're really the result of four billion years of all-out competition for limited resources, then I wonder how it's possible to just turn off all that naked aggression and suddenly become peaceful? If Darwin's theory is correct then the fact that Europeans came to America and took it away from the native Americans is the way it's supposed to work. The fact that dark-skinned Africans were enslaved and forced to work for their lighter-skinned cousins in Europe and America, was fully intended by the system and in fact totally inevitable. What other result could be expected from a kill-or-be-killed world? Fight, flight, or crowd out the competition and starve them. Is there any other way to envision the ineluctable result of natural selection than the way it's just been described? Of course there can't be world peace, we're the result of 4 billion years of battle. Turning the other cheek is as alien and unnatural as offering your throat to the lion.

Quoting Darwin at an atheist might be an entertaining way to retaliate to their biblical quotations. If it's all about survival of the fittest, then nobody should ever help the poor. If Darwin's theory of natural selection is the way the world works, then why do we have so many programs to help those who struggle to keep up with their school work? Why help the starving in Africa? There is no creator there is only random chance. The only god is Lady Luck, and your cards were all dealt at the moment you were conceived. Isn't that a fair summation of Evolution and natural selection? Shit happens?

But suddenly—suddenly in geological terms—an extra smart monkey comes along who can say "I am," and because of that, the whole natural order should be turned around? Suddenly it's no longer about natural selection its about keeping the world exactly the way it existed circa 1900 through artificial selection? There seems to be this unwritten belief that, as of now, humans should allow no species to become extinct merely because it is unable to compete in our ever-changing world. The Panda—to pick one example—is an admittedly adorable looking animal, but Darwin would be the first to advise us to just let it go. It doesn't belong anymore.

Atheists love to accuse Christians of hypocrisy when we don't succeed in living perfect Christian lives. Ask them if they ever donated money to any cause in their lives, because if they did then they're perverting the natural selection world order and if they keep it up they could bring the whole world crashing down around our ears. Stop this senseless interference with a process that guarantees ultimate success. Who knows what kind of damage our ignorant monkeying around with the forces of natural selection could do? At this rate the next thing you know they'll be trying to bring back the dodo bird and the wooly mammoth. It seems to me that in the religion of Evolution, artificial selection must be some kind of mortal sin! So, when an Atheist quotes at me to: "turn the other cheek," I'll say: "Oh yeah! Well death to the Panda! Yes and death to the tiger and the whale. Death to the rhino and the dolphin! If they can't compete then they don't belong. Yeah, I'll turn the other cheek, I'll do it when you eat a panda steak and spray DDT on your garden, you hypocrite!"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ethics, Honor, and Diminishing Returns

Ethics

Everyone understands that supply is limited. There's only so much to go around, while what people want is seemingly infinite. Give a person the proverbial three magic wishes and the first thing he'll ask for is for more wishes. To prove that people's wants are indeed truly infinite, nothing could more accurately and elegantly depict this fact than the recent EBT-card debacle.

Some food-stamp recipients become aware of the fact that their EBT cards had an unlimited balance. They could buy as much food as they wanted. These few quickly alerted their friends and relatives to this bizarre glitch in the EBT card system. Within minutes the EBT-card using "poor" converged on local stores and area Wal-Mart shopping centers. They had to know that this was a mistake in the system. They had to know that what they were doing was wrong, immoral, dishonest, by any standard of rule and law that you'd care to apply. Shoppers and their accomplices filled four, five, ten, twelve shopping carts of food up each. Can you imagine the chaos as a pushing shoving crowd of greedy immoral thieves each pushed or pulled five or ten carts of food up to the register? It was madness! When the price of the supply is free, then demand becomes infinite.
[Springhill Police Chief Will Lynd] explained the cards weren’t showing limits and they called corporate Wal-Mart, whose spokesman said to let the people use the cards anyway. From 7 to 9 p.m., people were loading up their carts, but when the cards began showing limits again around 9, one woman was detained because she rang up a bill of $700.00 and only had .49 on her card. She was held by police until corporate Wal-Mart said they wouldn’t press charges if she left the food.

Lynd says at 9 p.m., when the cards came back online and it was announced over the loud speaker, people just left their carts full of food in the aisles and left.

“Just about everything is gone, I’ve never seen it in that condition,” said Mansfield Wal-Mart customer Anthony Fuller.

Honor

Commandment number five of the Ten Commandments is to "Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." As we grow older we require more care. We expect our children to provide that care. We expect our nation to repay us for our years of sacrifice and hard work by making our golden years happy, peaceful, and worry free. We expect to retire by age 65 and then live another three decades or more loving on our grandchildren and completing bucket lists, tending gardens, playing bingo, and going for walks in the park. It sounds great. It sounds kind of like a metaphorical return to Eden if you will. No work, no worries, everyone respectful of us, honoring those who are their father or their mother...so-to-speak. We want to live forever, or at least for as long as life is still fun. Life wants to live.

Unfortunately there is a problem: while the demand for life is infinite, the supply has until recently been limited to three-score and ten or thereabouts. We are all lucky to exist at a time when science and medicine have coalesced into this incredible emerging force that almost promises immortality. Who can know how long we'll live when scientists are now able to print a working kidney?
Who can know how long we'll live? How can we plan for a retirement that never ends? As we get older it costs more and more to keep us alive. The medical treatments grow ever more expensive, the prescriptions more costly, the prognosis more grim. A point is reached—a breaking point—where nothing more is possible. It's always been that way, except that this breaking point is reached ever-later as man's knowledge of science and medicine grows ever more extensive, and ever more costly.

Diminishing Returns

Diminishing return, is the single most important economic factor that seems to have been completely ignored throughout all these Obama-care, government shutdown, debt ceiling, deficit reduction, quantitative easing, and government stimulus debates. America's single biggest unfunded liability is Medicare at 87.5 trillion dollars, followed by prescription drugs as 22 trillion, finally Social Security as 16.6 trillion. That's 126 trillion dollars we owe right now to people who are retired or who are alive now and will be retiring under current law. I got my numbers from U.S. National Debt Clock.org. Everyone always worries about the national debt at 17 trillion, but the fact is that tens of millions of people are going to be retiring soon, and that means the price of running these three programs is going to soar well past our ability to pay for them. There is going to come a breaking point for the country, where nothing more is possible. The prognosis is looking grimmer with every passing day. Unless some kind of Deus ex machina comes along to save the day, to save us from ourselves, this will not end well.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hannibal Lecter's Monster


When it comes to end of the world scenarios, there's plenty to pick from. One mad-scientist creation that is particularly frightening is the running amok Frankenstein's monster. I just read the first chapter of a book called Our Final Invention. You can read the introduction and the first chapter for free on your Amazon Cloud Reader. What struck me as I read it, was the number of times the term "want" was anthropomorphically tossed into the mix.
AI theorists propose it is possible to determine what an AI's fundamental drives will be. That's because once it is self-aware, it will go to great lengths to fulfill whatever goals it's programmed to fulfill, and to avoid failure. Our [Artificial Super-Intelligence (ASI)] will want access to energy in whatever form is most useful to it, whether actual kilowatts of energy or cash or something else it can exchange for resources. It will want to improve itself because that will increase the likelihood that it will fulfull its goals. Most of all, it will not want to be turned off or destroyed, which would make goal fulfillment impossible. Therefore, AI theorists anticipate our ASI will seek to expand out of the secure facility that contains it to have greater access to resources with which to protect and improve itself.
I can envision an artificially super-intelligent computer that could make associations with much greater speed and facility than could any human. I can imagine an ASI that when given a problem to solve would be able to seek and analyze every scrap of data about the particular problem that the entire history of mankind had amassed, wherever that data was stored, around the entire world, and able to do so in mere seconds or even microseconds! Okay this computer is super-duper smart. But what I can't imagine is that the computer actually has the ability to "want" anything. It doesn't have any natural drives. It doesn't feel. I think the ability to feel is a prerequisite for self-will.

If you don't feel pain or pleasure you won't be able to avoid one or seek the other. If you never felt hunger or thirst, why seek nourishment? I don't believe it's possible for sentience to exist without the ability to feel. In Descartes' famous thought experiment he wondered what it would be like were he unable to see, hear, smell, taste, feel anything at all. He pondered how he would even know that he existed. This was when he came up with his famous and so-simple test: "cogito ergo sum," I think therefore I am. Yet Descartes left out of his experiment the fact that his brain was stuffed with the memory of a life full of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and feeling. Perform for me please this same experiment using a newborn with no senses at all. This empty baby-brain having all this possibility, yet not the slightest scrap of sensory perception would think exactly what?

There may someday exist an artificial intelligence with self-will, but long before that day there will be super-intelligent computers who want only and precisely exactly what they're told to want. You might be legitimately concerned about Dr. Frankenstein's monster running amok, but a more thoughtful examination of the facts would cause you to be much more concerned were you to imagine that it was Dr. Hannibal Lecter's monster performing tasks exactly as programmed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Stop complaining. They're doing this for us!


Government representatives represent us. They are our voice. They're doing what they believe we want. If you were at a used car dealership bargaining over the price of a car and the dealer "refused to negotiate," if he resorted to inflammatory and shaming descriptions of yourself and your behavior, would you roll-over and sign your name on the dotted line? What if instead of you making the deal you instead sent your brother or your mother or your uncle because making deals is what they're good at. What if they went down to the showroom and paid sticker price for the car? You wanted your representative to make the best deal possible on your behalf, but instead they just did what was most expedient—easiest.

When our representatives betray our trust by putting their own concerns above our own, by worrying about their own popularity, by fretting over derogatory mischaracterizations, and poll numbers, then they are not doing what we hired them to do. The phrase that keeps cropping up over and over in all of this acrimonious bickering is "nonessential services." Military veteran's services are in my opinion essential services. This FAQ at Huffington post explains that veterans should over the short term be minimally affected: Government Shutdown FAQ for Veterans. As for the rest, if it's nonessential then as far as I'm concerned, good riddance. Why is our country engaging in all this non-essential business when we're 17 trillion in debt? It's insane.

If I can't get a good deal, a fair deal, then I don't want any deal at all. That's my take on this issue. If I can't get a fair deal on a car, I'll walk or ride the bus or a bicycle. If my representative can't get a fair deal on Capitol Hill then I'll forego a visit to a national park, a visit to a DC memorial, etc.

Wouldn't you accept a little short term inconvenience if the result was the possible salvation of this great country which until now has been on a 50 year downhill sleigh-ride slide into insolvency and insignificance. It's time to put our foot down, be a stick in the mud, and maybe just maybe we can slow this careening ride to hell down enough so that at least we'll have a chance.

I remember well the horror and panic that attended the implementation of the dreaded sequester. Months have gone by and even though the chicken little squawking was terrifying, somehow it seems as though the sky hasn't fallen after all. Perhaps this so-called shut-down won't be the end of the universe and everything, either.

This is how it's supposed to work. You make an offer. The other side sneers or guffaws or walks away in disgust. If your offer was serious then the other side must make a counter-offer that he believes approaches your own. The question we all have to ask here, is this: at what point do the Democrats begin to understand that they'll have to make some concessions? It may take a little pain and aggravation before they understand that we Republicans are finally done with just rolling-over and paying the sticker price.