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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hopes and Dreams

I'm trying something different today. This post isn't about politics. It isn't about the dishonest relationship that exists with public sector unions who provide campaign funds exclusively for the Democratic party, which in turn passes laws increasing wages and benefits for government workers, whose wages in turn fund the unions, who in turn fund the Democratic party, ad infinitum in a giant circle jerk of corruption. And no, this post isn't about corrupt politicians, and the tacit bribery of passing bills chock full of earmarks for big corporations, and in return for this consideration are promised a job as a highly paid lobbyist influencing the next generation of legislators. It's not going to be about our out of control debt and the eventual and inevitable collapse of this once great nation. No, this post is going to be about hopes and dreams. It's about growing up and doing what you love or maybe finding out that doing what you love doesn't pay the rent. And so with no further ado....

I always knew—from the time when I was six years old and flew all by myself from Augusta Georgia to Memphis Tennessee—what I wanted to do when I grew up. I wanted to be a pilot. Flying was so different forty years ago. Of course my experience is from the perspective of a wide-eyed six-year-old so of course you may have a substantially different opinion about the way it was, but for me this is how it was. It was glamorous. From the baggage checker to the flight attendants, from the proud pilots to the lowliest janitors, everyone was neat, clean, and unfailingly polite. They all had smiles and seemed genuinely happy to be doing what they did. The stewardesses were all pretty and smelled of flowers and spices. People smoked all the time back in those days and every seat on the plane had an ashtray. As far as security goes, I don't recall that there were even metal detectors. You just checked your bags, got your ticket, went to your gate and boarded your plane. Nobody had to take off their shoes. Nobody had to let an x-ray machine take a nude picture of them for the titillation of some faceless TSA pervert masturbating behind a view-screen.

When I turned thirteen I started to go through puberty. Lots of changes all happening at once and the worst one for me was that things started getting blurry. Sitting in my desk during algebra class the teacher asked me to read the problem on the blackboard. I squinted as hard as I could but I just couldn't make it out. Everything was blurry. One examination and a week later saw me sitting in the same desk watching the world through my new eyeglasses. Everything was crystal clear and my slim chance at pilothood was now no chance at all. In those days the only way to get pilot training was the Air-Force and they only accepted candidates with perfect uncorrected 20-20 vision.

I suppose that if I could point at one thing, one quality, pick one word that summed up the cause of every problem, every failure, every bit of trouble, and the reason I wasn't very successful at anything I tried, that one thing would be boredom. Why didn't I do better in school? Boredom. Why didn't I go further with martial arts? Boredom. Why didn't I become a painter, sculptor, a musician? My name is Jack and I took that name and made of it a philosophy: Jack of all trades master of none. Like a lot of kids I flailed around hunting for something to do as a career that would be interesting as well as financially rewarding. The problem with the most interesting careers is all the boring hard work required to get from point A—where I was—to point B—where I wanted to go. Math has always been my nemesis. The career paths that seemed most interesting to me all required advanced mathematics, but to me anything beyond simple math was just so much hieroglyphics.

Words, language, the art of expressing my thoughts and feelings that was always my wheelhouse, and so most of the people who knew me probably expected me to gravitate towards something in that field. Would I be a writer, a poet, a journalist? Again boredom set me back. I dreamed of writing a science fiction novel. I suppose every sci-fi reader probably has the same dreams. It seems like it would be the simplest thing in the world to do. I bet most failed writers start with some great ideas, a hook that provides a good starting point for a plot, and like me once they sit down and try to flesh it out the reality that writing a book is work and furthermore, boring work, starts to set in.

Boredom makes it easy to get hooked on drugs. Everyone talks about peer pressure, but for me that wasn't it. It was boredom. Seeking fun and thrills through the magic of chemistry and horticulture wasted the better part of a decade, a decade that was, while at times fun and exciting, also a decade that if I could do over, I would. I learned to play a few instruments during that lost decade. I learned to play a saxophone, a flute, and a bass guitar. I wasn't that great at any of them but was nevertheless briefly convinced that this was the career path I'd always been looking for. Groupies and plenty of dough would guarantee a life of ease and plenty...except that of course every other dissatisfied and indolent youth fresh out of high-school probably has the same idea, and for the ten-million kids hoping for their time in the spotlight, there are only ten-thousand spotlights, and of those only a few hundred kids really make it to what everyone calls "The Big Time."

So reality eventually set in for me like it always does I suppose, and I moved along. I got myself straight and found a boring but semi-lucrative job which has now blossomed into a career. It's boring but it pays the bills. Luckily for me I still find time to do lots of reading, and the occasional bit of writing. For an older me, pleasure, fun, and entertainment aren't as hard to find as they were for the younger me. Climbing into a hot-shower is even a bit of a thrill. Some people would call that sad, I suppose, but maybe it's just because they still have some growing up to do.

I'm going to finish this tiny little autobiography with one of the hundreds of—for me anyway—compelling memories of that lost decade when I thought I could become a big-time musical sensation, maybe even the next Ian Anderson.

This happened about two-years after I dropped out of college. I played bass-guitar but didn't like it. I liked playing my flute and I was much better with that. I could play it by ear and so I could extemporaneously fit myself into whatever the band happened to be jamming to at any particular time. We named our band The Tribe and we rocked out every night. There was beer and pot and sometimes pharmaceuticals even gnarlier. Looking back I'd say we were a decent band, but nothing particularly special. I was on bass, Ken on guitar, and Eric on drums. There was somebody—I forget his name—on keyboard. Eric could also play the bass guitar and when he did, Ken would get out his acoustic and I could do what I loved, which is jamming like Ian Anderson on my flute—although not quite not so well.

Anyway, after a couple of months practicing together we got our first "gig" at a local bar. How excited we all were! Except that several days later Eric told us that he was moving to Nashville. Eric was a talented artist and his paintings and drawings were exceptional. His brother—also an artist—had put in a good word at the business he worked with. It was some kind of advertising firm as I recall. So before our first gig we lost our drummer and the backup bassist that allowed me to hit those really exciting high notes I so loved. Eric knew another drummer who wanted to try out for the band, and so we tried him out. He wasn't that good but we thought—after a few practices—maybe he'd work out. The night of the gig Eric showed up and told us that he wanted to play the first set. Everyone agreed and that first set went really well. The audience was grooving while we played some Stones, Beatles, Floyd, etc. We had an original song that featured—in my own humble opinion—a bad-ass flute riff. It was called Mother's Milk. (This was because Ken—who'd come up with the guitar chords—thought it was so melodic and pop-music sounding that he deliberately set out to make the words as mushy and sentimental as he could, ending with a title that basically means: "Pap.") Ken decided that he didn't feel like playing that song to end our set and picked a different one.

After the new drummer sat down for the next set, things rapidly degenerated into chaos and ruination. The drummer played as loudly as he could. We kept trying to get him to play more softly but it was like talking to a brick wall. So in response Ken turned up his guitar. I couldn't hear my bass so I turned it up. The guy on keyboard did the same. The audience started complaining that we were too loud. Eventually the manager of the bar told us we had to turn it down. Ken got mad and started packing everything up. And thus my one and only bid at fame and fortune ended with the bang-bang-bang of a shitty drummer and the clapping of an audience only clapping because we were packing up.

The lesson I learned was only learned much later, after years of reminiscence and philosophical conjecture. What I eventually learned is that relationships built on drugs and the vainglorious pursuit of fame and fortune seldom if ever work out. If you doubt me, then ask any divorced couple who met in a bar. Those kinds of relationships aren't built on anything lasting, they're built on people doing something—anything—to escape the boredom that shapes our lives.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Ku Klux Klan to visit my home city, Memphis, Tennessee

Universally feared, hated, condemned, ostracized, and often outlawed, these so-called Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, risk beatings, immolation, death, and dismemberment wherever they rear their ugly pointy-heads. What kind of person joins the Ku Klux Klan? I can't think of an organization more universally vilified. You could dress up in a Gestapo uniform complete with red Swastika armband and knee-high black leather boots and you wouldn't get that big a reaction. At most you'd get confused stares, questioning looks, perhaps an angry scowl, but if you dared to dress up in a white hood and robe, you would risk being beaten, stomped, and then most likely set on fire. If I ran the company manufacturing these Ku Klux Klan outfits, I'd make them out of Kevlar—bulletproof—and Nomex—fireproof. On second thought, if I was making KKK outfits they'd be designed like SWAT raid armor.

Because there's so much hoopla and hysteria surrounding the threatened Klan visit to Memphis, I thought it might be worthwhile for me to explore not just why they're coming to Memphis, but who they are, what they stand for, what they want, and what they've done. At the outset I want to make a few points crystal clear: I started writing this post in relative ignorance and somewhat innocently wondering who these hated boogie-men really are. At this point I consider myself much like an uninformed jurist who's sitting in the jury box and I'm waiting to hear the evidence that will shortly be presented with—I hope—an open mind. The only thing I know about the Klan at this point in my writing is probably the same thing that you know. The KKK is a racist organization famous for lynching black people and erecting burning crosses in the yards of people they disagree with.

There are a couple of points I wish to make clear before I start: While I might be wrong, I seriously doubt that there is a living member of the Ku Klux Klan today, who has ever participated in a real lynching of a black American. Furthermore, I don't hold the brainwashed knee-jerk mentality that most people have, that these KKK members are ignorant, or inbred, or for that matter more racist than their black counterparts in the Black Panthers, for instance. People automatically assign to the Klan the worst possible motivations in a way that I consider hysterical and frankly not only ignorant but incapable of being enlightened. The word is close-minded. I'd bet almost everyone is close-minded when it comes to the Klan. This kind of systematic brainwashing is the way television, radio, and Hollywood has operated for half-a-century. You are shocked! You can't believe I'm defending the Klan since you believe they are indefensible. You believe this because you lack the quality that I have nourished and developed for a lifetime. That quality is called cynicism. If someone is telling me something, I'm listening for the lies, the half-truths, and the hopes and dreams told as though they were a fait accompli.

The KKK is coming to Memphis because they're protesting the renaming of three city parks which were probably originally named by people who were possibly proud of their Confederate heritage. At this point I don't know who named these three parks or why they chose those names. Like I said at the outset, I wanted to come at this topic with the same level of understanding of everyone else—many of whom are planning not only protests but have already promised premeditated violence of the most horrific kind, and this even though they know as little about the Ku Klux Klan as do I.

Let's start with why the Ku Klux Klan is planning to rally here in Memphis, Tennessee. The reason appears to be because of the recent Memphis City Council decision to rename three city parks:
Fearful that legislators in Nashville might intervene in the controversy surrounding Memphis park names, the City Council hurriedly voted Tuesday night to rename three Confederate-themed parks in the Downtown area.

By a 9-0 vote with three abstentions, the council approved changing Forrest Park's name to "Health Sciences Park," because of its proximity to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Confederate Park will become "Memphis Park," and Jefferson Davis Park will be "Mississippi River Park."

Council members Jim Strickland, Kemp Conrad and Bill Morrison abstained from voting while Reid Hedgepeth did not attend the meeting.

The council also approved creating a committee to further study the naming issue. That committee will include two council members, two university professors, a representative from the NAACP, a member of the Shelby County Historical Commission and the city parks director.

All three parks have stirred repeated controversy because of their Confederate themes, particularly the one at Union and Manassas that contains the grave of Nathan Bedford Forrest. In addition to being a Confederate cavalry leader, Forrest was a slave trader before the Civil War and the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan after it.

"The parks are changed. It's done," said Councilman Lee Harris, who initially proposed renaming the parks after nearby streets. "We removed controversial names and named them something that is less controversial."
A southerner listening to this guy making fun of the accents of people from the south might become understandably irritated. Pay special attention to the segment from 6:03 to 6:24, where he calls FOX news the "Murder" channel, calls right-wing people "Swine," and ends by "encouraging" his listeners to go and "Kill" them. As a person who is still admittedly somewhat uninformed about the KKK I just have to say that what stands out the most for me so far, is the incredible irony of a seemingly completely intolerant and racist organization wanting to peaceably assemble and the mindless intolerance and calls for violence of those who're against that peaceable assembly.

This next YouTube video segment perfectly illustrates this mindless intolerance. It's a white guy with what appears to be an assault rifle of some kind although it might also be a bb gun. Warning there might be some light profanity in it and there is certainly a lot of rambling incoherent ranting in it, before he calls on his followers to throw stones and then blatantly finishes with "Death to the Klan."

Okay, so it's quite obvious from these videos—and from many more just like them—that nobody wants the Klan to protest or peaceably assemble in their neighborhoods. Almost every counter-Klan argument calls for not just protest but violent protest. Hate them or not, the Klan is coming to town because of the renaming decision of Memphis City Council. The history of why these parks were named as they were is interesting. I found this interesting article at "Civil War Memory:
... The Forrest memorial in Memphis can be traced to a number of factors, most importantly, the economic downturn that the city faced in the period immediately following the war and especially the yellow fever epidemic of 1878. The epidemic hit the white community especially hard and by the end of the century African Americans had risen to constitute half of the city’s population. The elite white population that was lost during the epidemic was replaced, according to Carney, by an influx of rural whites, who were much “less racially tolerant than their urban contemporaries.”
It's worth reading the entire article. I think Kevin Levin has a valid point. These parks weren't named what they were because of some nostalgic reminiscence of Civil war heroes and days of yore, but because of racial intolerance and conflict between blacks and whites in this area in the early twentieth-century. Therefore it seems clear that because the naming of these parks was probably meant as an insult, renaming them is probably a step in the right direction.

What is the history of the Ku Klux Klan? I was unhappy with the Wikipedia article which describes them as a "far right" organization in the very first sentence. This is just another example of the conspicuous left-wing bias of yet another water carrier for the Democratic party. I found the KKK article from to be well-written and helpful. Here's a short quote: Ku Klux Klan Violence in the South
From 1867 onward, African-American participation in public life in the South became one of the most radical aspects of Reconstruction, as blacks won election to southern state governments and even to the U.S. Congress. For its part, the Ku Klux Klan dedicated itself to an underground campaign of violence against Republican leaders and voters (both black and white) in an effort to reverse the policies of Radical Reconstruction and restore white supremacy in the South. They were joined in this struggle by similar organizations such as the Knights of the White Camelia (launched in Louisiana in 1867) and the White Brotherhood. At least 10 percent of the black legislators elected during the 1867-1868 constitutional conventions became victims of violence during Reconstruction, including seven who were killed. White Republicans (derided as "carpetbaggers" and "scalawags") and black institutions such as schools and churches—symbols of black autonomy—were also targets for Klan attacks.
This early Klan activity was—just as was the naming of Memphis' confederate parks—a backlash against the new status quo. It was defiance and violent protests at the intolerable fact that black Americans were suddenly entitled to every right that had historically belonged only to whites. From blacks holding elected office to integrated buses, schools, and restaurants there has been struggle and discord at every turn, and the KKK has been there fanning those flames from the end of the Civil War on. So, far from being a peaceful Christian organization, they have been agitators attempting to overturn—if not by legislation then by hook or by crook—the 13th and the 14th amendments of the Constitution.

What does the Klan say about itself? The FAQ section of the KKK website is as good a place to start as any.
Q. Why do you kill black people?

A. This is almost too stupid of a question to answer, but since some misled person is probably going to ask – even though it isn’t frequently asked – we’ll answer it in this section. We don’t kill black people. This is another misconception about the Klan. What is true is that there have been men in the past who joined the Klan in order to benefit from the wearing of the robe and hood – to be able to commit a crime against someone they did not like. This was not the objective of the Klan, but only the prerogative of some misfits in the 60′s.

It is unfair to say the Klan kills black people. If this was true we would read about Klansmen being arrested all the time. Some small Klan groups who have a macho self image and think of themselves as “tough guys” like to give the impression that they are always on the lookout for a black man to hurt. This is ridiculous. We often wonder if these people aren’t in fact working for anti-Klan groups to give the real Klan a bad name. Some of these small groups are talk-show addicts. It makes them feel cool to get on the Jerry Springer show or some other similar show and rant and rave about how they are going to do this and that. Come on, these people would be in jail if they were really doing these things, but they won’t get on TV if they don’t act the part of the villain – it makes for good TV ratings.
I read quite a bit on the KKK website and I can distill it down to the simplest idea of all: Tribalism. Members of the KKK believe that there are various separate and distinct races. The "white" race is one of Anglo-Saxon heritage comprised mainly of British, French, and German ancestry. The KKK is afraid that first, whites are becoming a minority in this country, and in fact globally as well. Second, they are afraid that once whites are a minority we will be treated in the same horrific fashion that majority black countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa have been treating whites for the past decade or so.

As for the fear that whites will be outnumbered, that fear is almost certainly fact. Whites in the USA will become a minority within the next decade or two. The second fear that whites will be mistreated in turn, just as they mistreated minorities in their day, is at this time uncertain. I don't expect slavery or 2nd class white-person lunch counters, but there is certainly already massive evidence of institutional racial favoritism in education and in government. Affirmative action policies as well as our punishing progressive taxation system already favor blacks and other minorities in hundreds of ways, from the Earned Income Credit—claimed by illegal immigrants for children not even living in the United States, to food-stamps, welfare checks, rental assistance, etc., the programs redistribute wealth held predominately by white Americans to minority non-white Americans. While this isn't technically slavery per se, it is evidence that far from being a handicap, being born black in America offers an undeniable head start in the attainment of a variety of racial set-asides as well as in the pursuit of many career paths—especially in education and government where blacks participate in far greater numbers than their overall proportion in the general population can account for.

Regardless of whether you believe the Ku Klux Klan has a valid point or not, one thing seems certain: they are a dying beast. They're hamstrung by a notorious infamy that precludes any possibility of attaining whatever goals they claim they're pursuing. In point of fact, the only way that can advance any political agenda at all is to actively oppose any law or policy that they secretly favor. Yes, the only possibility for Klan success must include begging us not to throw them into the briar-patch. (Therefore they do want the Memphis Parks renamed?)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Faith Healers Professors and the Almighty Dollar

When I see these so-called faith-healers on television it's very faith-harming to me. Thousands of people—millions?—are taken in and the worst part is that I can't say for an absolute fact that they are the charlatans that they so seem to be, but I know they are, just the same. If all sickness was caused by Satan and it was God's will that the sick be healed, then I could see where faith-healing would have its place, but I don't believe that sickness, old-age, and death are necessarily the work of Satan and all the things we think of as "good" are necessarily the work of God. Faith, man's will, and God's will are irreconcilably intermingled. Consider that while a man's faith may well be strong enough to move a mountain, is it God's will that the mountain move? I believe it takes a perfect aligning of faith and will to achieve the truly miraculous.
Matthew 17 KJV 19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast [the demon] out? 20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
It is in a similar fashion that faith may cure a disease or heal a wasted limb or even raise a man from the dead, but is it God's will that these things happen? Old age is surely God's will. He made us this way so that after our three-score and ten years on Earth, life would begin to grow ever more vexing. It grows harder and more painful until finally we begin to long for something—anything—better. I think of old-age as God's gentle push. Just as mama bird nudges her terrified fledglings to the edge of the nest until they finally take that glorious leap and then soar, God nudges us with a thousand annoyances and frailties until at some point we too are ready to take that final leap and—we hope—fly.

Peter Popoff is a famous faith-healer discredited on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show back in the eighties. He's almost certainly a shameless, evil, money-grubbing scam-artist who makes his living from the naïveté of innocent Christians. The pure evilness of this is monstrous and manifold. Peter Popoff takes money from those who are already struggling with bills they can't pay or from infirmities and sicknesses. These victims are the blind, the deaf, the cancer-stricken, palsied, paralyzed, desperately poor, or drowning in debt. They hear about the miraculous Peter Popoff, and they come from miles and miles away—some from hundreds of miles—all for the chance at a miraculous solution to their problems.

Let's start with what these victims pay just to get there. It costs time away from work or time away from family. They have to get dressed-up, maybe get that suit or dress dry-cleaned; they have to drive to the event and for some of the victims that's perhaps a hundred or more miles. They have to cajole and inveigle friends and family to help them get there, or watch the kids while they're away at the show. There's gasoline to buy and snacks. There are all the tiny things that nobody ever thinks about but that slowly drain the wallet on any road-trip. There's almost certainly a stop for a meal on the way there and another on the way back. This journey of hope could easily cost a hundred dollars or more on travel expenses and another hundred dollars from lost wages, and that's just in getting there.

You can't watch that video for ten minutes and come away with a stronger faith in God. Just the reverse is the case, and so it's my opinion that Peter Popoff is in Satan's employ, and for his services Peter is well compensated. Peter Popoff provides the secular humanists, atheists, skeptics and free-thinkers, with more ammunition to shoot Christians with. It's always the same kind of "Christian's are stupid" bullets, too. We believe in God so we're all a bunch of rubes. We're a bunch of misled morons who can't be trusted to come in out of the rain without being led inside by our caretakers.

The argument goes: because some Christians are idiots, and because some faith-healers are anything but faith-healers then God doesn't exist. Because there are scumbags conning Christians with the old faith-healing scam, this is somehow proof for those on the never-ending quest for proof, that God doesn't exist? Think about that for a minute. An evil man doing Satan's work and scamming money from Christians by using their own faith against them is somehow proof that God doesn't exist. Why? Because if he did exist Peter Popoff the scam-artist would be more successful in what? healing the sick or magicking money into somebody's bank-account? If you believe that God doesn't exist because there are stupid people and evil men, then it seems to me as if Peter Popoff is doing double duty for his evil lord and master. From some Christians he takes money, from other Christians he takes faith, and for the secular humanists, Atheists, skeptics and free-thinkers he provides ammunition.

Here's what I believe: you can spend years in college jumping through all kinds of hoops and after four or more years of study come away with a diploma and a complete lack of common sense. You can study the Bible for years and though you might have memorized a thousand verses, though you might have reviewed the relevant passages through the eyes of a thousand Christian philosophers, though you might speak Hebrew, Latin, Greek—perhaps even Aramaic—even with all of that study you still might not have the slightest idea not only what all those verses in the Bible mean, but what God's will is for you. One more thought that I bet you never thought about: Peter Popoff, your local church pastor, as well as your university professor all ask you to give time and money for which consideration they will provide you with some kind of ephemeral benefit of questionable value. Is there really that much of a difference between a pastor lecturing behind a podium and a professor? They both believe they have something to teach us; I just wonder if what they're teaching is what God wants us to learn.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We the people are more powerful than you the state can possibly imagine!

America is an armed society. Never before in the history of the world have so many private citizens possessed the means to fend off threatened tyranny. Without our consent, the consent of the governed, you don't have a government. I think would be tyrants are in for a world full of shock and awe if they try to disarm America.

The 2nd Amendment right to own guns is the right to own the means with which to protect ourselves from any would-be tyrant that seeks to undermine or overthrow all the other rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. Yes, people like me are the only barrier that protects Americans from slavery. We're the only thing that stands between the freedom we've grown accustomed to, and some odious permutation of slavery. Yet despite this fact, they want us to give up our guns?

I want to try to explain this simple concept to someone who doesn't understand but I always come up against the same problem over and over...they really don't want to understand. So much so that they will literally run from me with their fingers stuck in their ears chanting "nah-nah-nah-nah-gah-listen...etc." Or worse, they patronize me or condescend down to me. The expressions on their faces get kind of sad or maybe even fearful as they contemplate my self-evident lunacy. They'll paraphrase my argument in a kind of stick-figure way and then sort of add stupid little touches much like a child drawing cartoon eye-glasses on a magazine portrait.

Most people on my side of this argument will at this point try to explain that every government inevitably malfunctions at some point. Every apparatus, every device, every man-made thing will at some point wear-out, breakdown, be gummed up, pirated, hijacked, corrupted, or eventually and inevitably become merely obsolete. This of course includes governments. One further thing that is obvious when you think about it but seldom if ever acknowledged is that those who seek political office do so because they desire to rule over the rest of us. When a judge bangs down his gavel, you must understand that this signifies he is making a unilateral decision, and based on the fact that he's sitting in judgment he feels that it is his right to do so. Consider then the misguided arrogance of a corrupt judge making unilateral decisions that destroy lives based on a flawed understanding of a malfunctioning and errant law that no longer even applies because of the ever-changing exigencies of our ever-more fluid culture. This is tyranny.

Our patent laws are a perfect example of this in action. Imagine—if you can—how wonderful life would be if companies were allowed to manufacture products and sell them to us without having to employ an army of lawyers and without having to hemorrhage millions upon billions in easement fees to a litany of patent holders? I don't know where this nation is headed but at some point I believe it will become completely impossible to invent anything and sell it. You have a better mousetrap? So what. Somebody has a patent that a team of lawyers will argue is similar to your mousetrap in some insignificant way and therefore your idea infringes and you must cease and desist and—by the way—pay damages.

Imagine if actual physical property was adjudicated like we do intellectual property. People would be laying claim to raindrops and clouds and beams of sunlight. They'd be suing others over the use of their air, or water, or who knows what. But I don't want to get off track. This example merely serves to illustrate that if America was a truck every gauge on the panel would be redlining and smoke would be boiling out from under the hood and a horrible banging sound would be thumping like a giant's dying heartbeat. As every passerby turned to stare in curiosity and amusement this antique contraption once called the American dream would roll down its last few sad and pointless miles.

The handwriting is on the wall at this point. You can look at countless parallels in history and what comes next is as telegraphed as a professional wrestler holding a folding metal chair. We're going to keep printing money because it's the easiest way to take money from the people and typically they are blind to this fiscal legerdemain. I argued with someone the other day that when the government started printing money to pay bills it was engaging in the most destructive taxation possible, because it was hurting the poorest of us the most, and the richest the least. I could never seem to get through to him, though.

Taxation—whether it is income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, capital gains taxes, etc—is a way of taking wealth from the private sector and using that wealth to pay the bills that the public sector must pay in order to continue to operate. If you directly take the money from a citizen's pockets he knows he's been taxed and he resents the intrusion. He resents the fewer dollars in his wallet and he thinks about the things he could have purchased if he only had the money the government had taken away. The result of this taxation is that he has less wealth with which to purchase goods and services and the government has more. Now consider what happens when the government raises money by printing it. More dollars are available for the government to purchase goods and services. They create this money from thin air, but it doesn't go back into thin air. It goes into the economy. Now there are many more dollars chasing the same amount of goods and services. This is called inflation and lately after QE1, QE2, and now the never ending QE3, there's more than twice as many dollars in circulation, and if you haven't noticed this at the gas pump or at the checkout counter then I guess you don't do much driving or shopping.

We're all being taxed to death! This indirect taxation which comes from borrowing money and from printing money can only lead to one insolvency. When that day comes, when our credit rating has been downgraded to the point where it's too expensive to borrow money, the government will do what every failed regime in history has always done, they'll just print more money to pay the bills. This is just the same old sad story replayed one more time. It's a dark and ghastly tale of government-goons running amok, while they attempt to set wages and attempt to set prices, and attempt to micro-manage a macro-economy from a central office, and are then shocked! when the people rebel. It can't work. It has never worked. People will starve to death. They'll freeze to death in the winter and they'll drop dead in the streets from minor illnesses that their starving bodies can't fight off. They'll flee to Mexico or Canada or anywhere they think might be better. The problem is that because America is the engine of the world-economy, everywhere else will be just as bad if not worse. There's nothing positive to look-forward to. This is an out-of-control train-wreck in the offing and I don't see anything that can slow it down or even mitigate the disaster when it finally happens. And despite the starvation this economic disaster will entail, despite the panic of millions upon millions, despite the mobs of looters and rioters angry and starving and all looking for a likely scapegoat to sacrifice, they want me to give up my guns?

I think everybody knows it's going to happen. I think everybody knows America is going to go bankrupt. At some point in every failed endeavor there comes a point when the participants look around at their colleagues and they exchange that look. It's the look the people on the Titanic gave to each other when the last lifeboat was cut away. It's the look townspeople give to each other when they realize the sandbags are not going to stop the rising flood-waters. It's the look people give each other when they know that everything they have, perhaps even their very lives, faces destruction, and there's nothing, absolutely nothing, that anybody can do to stop it. It's at this point that some people start crying. It's here that some people start praying. Others try to flee. Some people with little imagination just keep piling on the sandbags... but to no avail.

Look around people. We are going to go bankrupt. There's not a thing anybody can do about it. If you want to stand around and argue about the placement of sandbags or who's meeting or not meeting their shared sandbag responsibility, be my guest, but our ineluctable fate is nigh and there's nothing that can save us at this point...well I guess miracles sometimes happen. Perhaps some deus-ex-machina led miracle will suddenly provide enough wealth to save the day. We can always hope that one of our neighbors shows up soon with an army of sandbag-filling robots or maybe even a levee-printer. I guess anything is possible, but in my opinion it's not very likely. Maybe it is that some heretofore yet to be invented technology could save civilization. Maybe somebody will create a machine which generates universally abundant and incredibly cheap energy from somewhere, somehow, without adverse climatological symptoms. Perhaps soon artificially intelligent robots will come marching out of some factory and start doing all the jobs that Americans used to do. I'm not holding my breath. Even if somebody did invent an amazing free-energy forever machine it would be tied up in court—for patent infringement—until long after our corpses had become dust in the wind.

This is the way that totalitarian regimes have always seized power after an economic collapse. First they'll come to take away the firearms...disarmed for the good of society. Later they'll come to take away the surplus food...theft for the good of society. Next they'll come to make sure everyone is doing their fair share...slavery for the good of society. Dissenters will be crushed. Pride will be crushed. Hope will be crushed. Decades or perhaps even centuries later the history books will be written and then changed and then rewritten. It always starts by making the victims powerless to prevent the crime.

You say our simple weapons can't fight against the might of the state? You say that it's hopeless and absurd to believe that little 'ol me and my rifle can stand athwart the juggernaut of totalitarian destruction coming down the tracks at mach-ten? If you believe that then you don't understand leadership. If you believe that then you don't understand patriotism. If you believe that then you just keep stacking sandbags while the water flows over your head. The lifeblood of the state rests not on the might of its weapons, but on the consent of the governed. There is no military without food. There is no police or Department of Homeland Security without electricity, without gasoline, without water, and without cooperation. If the tracks are sabotaged, the highways undermined, the waterways filled with jagged debris then the trucks don't roll, the trains don't run, the ships don't float...and the soldiers don't march.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The trouble with women...

Yeah I know this is just a blog post, not an I may leave out a few things. Women want equality, right? They want to be as successful in business as men. Women in the political arena want high office just like men, including the Presidency of the United States some day. They want the right to battle it out in a steel cage, a stadium, or a gridiron, and finally they want the right to be soldiers on the frontlines of a battlefield.

If that's what they really want, if they really want to be treated equally, then why do they act the way they do? You don't see guys spending hours putting all kinds of crap on our faces and curling our hair. You don't see guys wearing pants designed to outline our butts so intimately that we could sit down facing south on a north-going caterpillar and leave its journey completely uninterrupted. When was the last time—outside of swimming competitions—that you saw a guy at the pool in Speedos? Yet, women lounging in the sun wearing next-to-nothing bikinis is what we usually do see. When I go to the news-stand I haven't ever noticed row after row of magazines with nothing but advice about how to look sexy in order to entice, please, attract, tease, thrill, capture ... women.

It's just such complete and total bullshit! Women don't want equality. They want security. They want the life-size dollhouse and all that goes with it. They want children and maybe a pet and they want food on the table and a car in the garage. There are some women who like to fight. There are some women who're good at physical contact sports and there are probably even a few women who actually want to go to war...I guess anything's possible, but it's not usual. It's unusual. Women want security and in the good old days they got that through marriage. They settled down and their job was to make their man happy, and in the process they make themselves happy. Security was found through marriage and by keeping the husband happy. It's not that way anymore and I guess...some of you...are glad it isn't. It doesn't take marriage anymore to guarantee security. You women can have that house and all that goes with it. You can have the kids and the food on the table and the car in the garage...and now you're not required to keep a man happy to do it. Does that make you proud? Vindicated? As you play your games and entice clueless fools into your Venus flytrap, be aware that America is almost dead. Congratulations, you've almost killed the golden goose.

If I set out to design a more unjust and crooked system I don't think on my darkest and most diabolical day I could ever surpass what we've got. Democrats hold these truths to be self-evident, that all women are created to vote for Democrats, that they have the right to no-fault divorce, abortion, child support, and welfare and that to secure these rights, bureaucracies are instituted against men, deriving their unjust powers from the malignant misinterpretation of the law, despite the outrage of the compelled.

Please women, allow me to tell you our side. It's the side of the story you never hear, never listen to, never consider, probably didn't even know existed. Guys don't spend our days—or nights—thinking about you women, learning how to seduce you, practicing flirty looks and sexy walks, painting our faces and styling our hair. We don't study the science of laying baited-traps where we are the bait. We don't spend our childhood dressing up dolls and playing house. We don't give a flying fart in a windstorm about drapes or matching colors or china patterns. We like things that work and we hate things that break. We like those who can and will and we are annoyed by those who can't or won't. You say you want equality? Fine. I don't bore you with my personal life, so stop telling me about your problems. I don't want to hear the details of your time of the month or how much it hurts to have a baby. The first sounds like a personal problem and the second sounds like maybe you never heard of an epidural.

No, this isn't some kind of unhinged rant from another poor slob on the hook for eighteen years of child-support. I've got children and I'm married to their mother. I do, however, claim quite a bit of expertise in this subject. I've worked in human resources for the past seventeen years. Whenever someone calls to complain about the wages withheld from their paycheck, they talk to me. My company is a fairly large one and in the time I've been employed with it, I've overseen the pillaging of some 90,368 paychecks. Almost every one of those paychecks was made out to a guy. Of the thousands of people who've had child-support involuntarily withheld over the years, almost all of them were men. Now, why do you suppose that is? I bet the term "deadbeat-mom" doesn't ring any bells either.

Little Suzie spends her childhood pretending to do homemakery kinds of things. She's got a dollhouse with furniture and dolls and clothing. She's got an easy bake oven and a tea set. When her friends come over they usually stay inside and they play little-girly pretend-like games. They laugh and giggle and whisper. I grew up with a couple of sisters and believe me all they do is whisper! ...until they learned sign-language spelling and then it was non-stop hand-gestures...and later it was one hand to the side of the face so I couldn't see lip-reading. By the way, the idea of a hand to the side of the face is what informed my understanding of the term "two-faced." Deceit starts with secrets. You can't have one without the other, and so all that whispering and sign-language and lip-reading—and all of it with the tacit approval of step-mother-dearest—told me only that I was witness to the most inscrutable insurmountable and pertinacious dishonesty possible...whenever it was that two females were communicating with each other.

If you can imagine it, our nation decided to allow momma to decide whether she wants an abortion or not. Maybe she wants one maybe she doesn't. The father waits for the mother to decide. Later after mother weighs the pros and cons, she makes a shrewd financial decision. Is baby-daddy going to be a steady-earner? How many more baby-daddies does she need to trap and harness to her wage-slave dawg-sled to complete the team?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Alternative currencies and avoiding the taxman

El túnel del diablo was a large dark drainage tunnel in Socorro New Mexico that was bone dry 364 days out of the year. I was warned in the most graphic terms of the dire consequences that would be the result if I was caught playing in it on the one day of the year when a flash-flood happened to suddenly explode through it. It was said to be haunted. It was whispered amongst my school mates that the restless spirits of drowned kids roamed endlessly in the dark tunnel below, waiting for a rescue that would never come. It was also my path to school. A tunnel that the other kids never dared climb down into was my daily yellow-brick road.

I was seven years old and I didn't believe in ghosts and other superstitious nonsense. I traveled the path I did because of the nasty Hispanic street gang that roamed the street rout to school. After having been chased, caught, threatened, and then robbed of my lunch money—protection money—I quickly sought out and found a pathway to school that was for me the cheapest and the safest. Today I have the same philosophy. I'll go out of my way to avoid being robbed.

There are some people who don't mind paying taxes. I was talking with someone like that today. I postulated my theorem that people will go out of their way to avoid paying taxes, but he demurred. He believes that it is a patriotic duty to pay taxes. How else—he rhetorically wondered—would the government be able to continue building roads and bridges and schools? How else would police and firefighters be possible if it wasn't for taxes? How would America hold off foreign invaders if not for the military paid for with tax dollars?

His question brought to my mind the situation that serfs and peasants most likely found themselves in during the dark-ages. The lord of the land would send out his tax-collectors who would take payment in silver and gold or payment in kind. These peasants felt, I'm sure, a similar reluctance to part with their honestly earned wealth that I feel today. How else—the tax collectors might have asked—would the lord be able to supply his soldiers with food and mounts and armor? And if not for those soldiers, then who would it be that would drive off the depredations of footpads, rogues, bandits, thieves, wolf-packs, and of course enemy incursions from other lands? In those dark-ages every bandit and lord guarded the territory within which their victims dwelled, in the same way that a rancher guards the land within which his cattle graze. Without the rancher, who would protect the cows from wolves, mountain lions, and bears?

Regardless of where we live, we each pay protection racket money. If nothing else we at least pay sales tax. With few exceptions we each resent paying it too, and at least for those with any sense at all, we do our best to limit that extortion payment to the absolute minimum possible. In today's discussion, I suggested to my tax-loving friend that since he was feeling so patriotic, maybe he should pay double the taxes this year. I told him that there's a little box he could check where he could add additional taxes to pay down the national debt. He paused and then said that maybe—just maybe—he would do exactly that.

The lengths to which some people will go to, to avoid paying taxes are sometime amazing to me—to the boy who walked a mile through a sewer tunnel both ways back and forth to school! The latest is Amazon's new scheme. Have you heard about this? I question its effectiveness but I'll be paying close attention.

I'm not sure whether this is a way to avoid sales-tax, but if so I don't think it's going to work. Amazon is fully aware that a big part of its competitiveness lies in the fact that very often customers don't have to pay sales tax. This savings is off-set by shipping charges so the net loss to customers is roughly equivalent to brick and mortar shopping. However, if customers face both sales tax and also shipping charges, there's a good chance they'll simply get in their cars and make the drive to Wal-Mart. I'm assuming that, for whatever reason, these "coins"—since they're not a tangible good or service—will not be taxable under the laws of many states? I don't really see how this differs from a gift-certificate so I don't think this idea will fly, but I give Bezos kudos for the college try.
Amazon announced this week that come May its customers will be able to buy Kindle Fire apps and some other goodies with a new virtual currency called Amazon Coins. And to jumpstart the program, they will give away millions of dollars worth of coins. The giveaway is a great way to get started, but it points to a problem with using the word "currency" to describe what Amazon has created. Calling Amazon Coins a virtual currency suggests that it will be a widely accepted, independent store of value that you can easily convert to another currency. But from the few details Amazon has given, there's no reason to think this will be anything other than yet another in-house system of credits.
There is already an alternative currency in use called a bitcoin. I don't know too much about them except that people who use them don't worry about sales tax. Now then...if I add all these small steps into one giant leap what we've got here is the concrete fact that people don't like to pay taxes, that they'd walk a mile in a sewer to go around the tax man, and that there are already at least two alternative currencies which are tax-free and widely accepted. If at some point these alternative currencies start to become too successful, the state will move to shut them down. However, what cannot be argued is that when it comes to avoiding taxes...where there's a will, there's a way.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I have zero tolerance for idiots armed with rulebooks

I could link more than a thousand examples. Young kids getting suspended and even expelled for nothing at all is more common than leaves on the ground in Autumn. We're all upset about it, but rules are rules....or so they would have us believe.

People tend to think in simplistic dichotomies: True or false. Dangerous or safe. Black or white. Good or evil. Democrat or Republican. Gay or straight. Rich or poor. We want people to fall into neat little niches and stay there. Politically speaking, there's nothing on earth that is more infuriating than an independent who won't make up his stupid mind. Just pick one! we want to scream at them. Why can't they decide?

I think that most of us are uncomfortable with people or ideas that won't fit neatly into one of the little pigeon holes where we are each supposed to roost. Here's a case in point. Tila Tequila is a model and actress who had her own MTV reality show several years ago. She didn't know whether she was straight or gay. In truth she was both. She was—and probably still is—a bisexual and more problematically, very fickle. Because she didn't fit neatly into one of the two possible slots of heterosexual or homosexual, MTV created a reality show which would supposedly help her to decide.

Just because I enjoy throwing a little irony into my zero-tolerance exposition, I'll mention that almost everybody falls broadly into one of two categories, analyzers and memorizers. I'm the former by the way. I don't—and won't—sit and memorize long lists of facts, figures, trivia, etc. Don't ask me who directed some movie that won some Oscar in 1974, because first I don't know, and second is that really the kind of thing that you're interested in? If so I don't understand you. It's not only trivia, it's trivia of the most tediously trivial. I won't ask "who cares," because obviously there's an entire industry devoted to trying to hypnotize everyone into caring. As to possible reasons why people would want to memorize the most obscure details about celebrities, my opinion can be summed with one word: bandwagon.

I can't stand memorizers. I loathe this type of person. The worst are the memorizers who can't memorize. They always have a notebook handy, and they'll whip it out faster than a gunslinger can whip out a pistol, while they attempt to explain why what they've got written down on those miniature pages proves beyond all shadow of a doubt that you're just plain wrong. Except that they've forgotten a step, or taken a wrong path, or assumed a mistaken assumption...etc.

If you couldn't tell where I was going with this, perhaps at this point you're beginning to get the picture. Memorizers—by-and-large—mostly work for the bureaucracy. They're happiest when people fit neatly into a particular pigeon hole. So happy in fact, that they've already got a stamp that says "accepted" or "denied," and having pigeonholed you, they fully expect you to move along while they chirp "Next!" They've got a rule book with particular sections memorized. The worst thing society could possibly do is to give these types the power to make decisions. They honestly just don't belong in that chair. They belong at the post office sorting zip-codes, never in the position of judge jury and executioner, so it makes me wonder why it's memorizers who always end up sitting in that chair.

it doesn't take an Einstein to understand that expelling a kindergartner for bringing a clear plastic water gun to school is certifiably insane. Yet that lunatic who's in charge will whip out their dog-eared rule book and stentoriously recite some rule and/or regulation, and suddenly we're set back on our heels, because you know...rules are rules...or something.