Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
It's too bad, for I really like the sport; but there's something about it that just isn't appealing to the mass market. It's lacrosse and soccer on ice with an occasional fistfight thrown in, so why can't people love it? It's not as pretentious as lacrosse (and don't give me any trash about lacrosse not being pretentious--it's the sport that separates thugs with money from gentlemen with money--who invariably play polo), nor is it as wussy as soccer (sorry Steve, but I'll go to my grave believing that soccer is either lame, wussy, or lame and wussy), so why the lack in appeal?
Now's the time when someone rings in about how soccer is the most popular sport in the world, so I'm some kind of jank for ripping on it. Let me respond first. It's a pre-emptive response, and it's damn near nuclear in its devastation of the opposition.
Soccer is only popular because people in the impoverished damn countries that love it so much can't afford anything else. All you need for soccer is a freaking ball and four posts (two on each side, and they can be natural--e.g. trees--or manufactured--e.g. Pablo's younger brothers Juan, Roberto, Antonio, and Muhammad). If you don't have a ball, then you can just lop off someone's head and stuff it in a sack (if you're playing by Taliban rules, that is). It requires little strategy and is thus easy on the uneducated masses of countries like Angola and Mississippi.
That's why soccer is so popular amongst kids in the U.S. but not adults. While kids are simple-minded little mamma's boys (note that they're all from the middle class), they love soccer. Once their testes start to produce testosterone, they turn to football.
Indeed, football is a man's sport. It's aggressive, involves clearly outlined and executable "battle plans," and it's not something that someone can just pick up. It's like knighthood. You need the armor because it's brutal. In soccer, you might get hurt because you don't wear pads. In football you will get hurt if you don't wear pads, and you still might get hurt even if you do.
I would continue this rant, but Lost's season finale is on in about a minute.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Today I drove past a team of cops who were staking out Gratiot for seatbeltless drivers. What utter nonsense. What utter tyranny.
It occurred to me then, as it has occurred to me now, that the whole idea of a victimless crime is absurd.
The strong arm of the executive branch (e.g. the police) of a "good" government exists, supposedly, to execute the laws of the land--so it's not the cops' fault: they're only doing their job, which I why I didn't shout out of my window that they were a bunch of *insert inappropriate gerund* fascists. It's the legislative branch that exists, supposedly, to create laws. Thus, police cannot really be blamed for a bad law. It's the legislators who are to blame.
According to John Locke's "Social Contract" (a contract that I have yet to sign), the law-making powers of the government (i.e. legislative powers) exist in order to protect our rights to be secure in life, liberty, and property (i.e. that no one will kill us, injure us, control us, or deprive us of what is properly our own--exempting taxes, of course). All other actions can be deemed as tyrannical (i.e. going beyond the government's contractual jurisdiction, and thus interfering with our rights as free men).
Who is harmed by my deciding to drive (or ride) without a seatbelt? No one is harmed, of course. Surely I might be injured, in the event of an accident; but I am my own master. The government is empowered to protect me from others, not myself. I have every right to risk my own safety on the streets, just as I have every right to consume copious amounts of Twinkies. Eating Twinkies is certainly a risky choice (inasmuch as health is concerned), but it's my choice. No one else will be harmed by my increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. What's different about the seatbelt?
I can only conceive of one organization empowered to tell me to wear a seatbelt, and that is my insurance company. Should I not wear a seatbelt and incur injuries because of my neglect, my insurance company would be within its rights to refuse coverage--supposing that it had required that I wear a seatbelt as part of our contractual relationship. Under this scenario, I am encouraged to wear a seatbelt, but not threatened with violence--and whether you like the idea or not, the police mean violence: hence the guns, clubs, and cuffs). Should I not wear a seatbelt, I assume the physical and financial risks. No one else is hurt.
Why would the state presume to step in on this? There are two reasons. First, they have been paid off by insurance companies that don't want to be in the business of telling their clients what to do. Second, the state just wants to get money ($65 for a ticket).
Since insurance companies have had no problem stipulating conditions for coverage in the past (e.g. no-smoking clauses), there is no reason to suspect the prior assumption. Thus, this whole "Click-it or Ticket" mumbo-jumbo is little more than a scam, a way for the state to extort me for more money. I do not dispute that it is a wise idea for me to wear a seatbelt, but it's my decision (just as it's my decision to eat healthy foods in lieu of unhealthy ones).
Think about it (and I apologize for this argument being so disjointed--it really is off the cuff). If the government's powers exist simply to protect me from others, upon what basis to they presume to have jurisdiction over my decision to wear a seatbelt? The same is true for many currently illicit decisions.
If I'm not violating someone else's right to life, liberty, or property, then I should be left alone--even if I am an idiot.
I don't see prostitutes, but, if I wish to exchange money for sex, who is harmed? I might contract an STD or get into trouble with my wife, but that's my business. Similarly, I do not snort cocaine, shoot heroin, etc. But, if I did, who is hurt? If my job performance lags, then my boss can fire me. Hell, my boss should be able to say, "If you want to work for me, you'll stay away from drugs," and he has the right to require drug tests. If I don't like that idea, then I don't have to work for him. Honestly, it's not my job. It's my employer's. If he wants to forbid me from watching 24, for whatever reason, then he can do so--and fire me for an infraction. Again, if I don't like it, then I won't work for the guy. In the end, competition over good employees would render such conditions nonsensical. Smart employers only care that their employees are productive. However, in theory even ridiculous conditions for employment are valid.
Seriously, this crap with the seatbelts needs to go. It is not befitting of a free society to tolerate such tyranny. It shouldn't matter if you think it's a good idea and are willing to allow cops to check you. You don't have the right to tell me what to do with myself. Leave me alone, for goodness sake. If my insurance company wishes to make my coverage dependent upon seatbelt usage, then I'll have to live with it (or live with the consequences). That's their right, just as it's my right to look for insurance elsewhere (as if I'd find it, for wearing seatbelts is a pretty damn good idea) or ignore my insurance clause and face the financial consequences (supposing, of course, that I survive to face them).
Monday, May 22, 2006
Several years ago, when my daughter was an infant, she learned that not all beverages are created equal. To be specific, she learned that some are fermented and others are not. Indeed, for at least two years all forms of beer were little more than "icky pop."
Now it's my son's turn. I'm Barbequing some chicken legs (I know, it's peasants' meat, but it's what the wife wanted). It's about 6:30 PM, and I'm in the mood for a little something in my Diet Coke.
Smirnoff to the rescue.
I was drinking it out of a Big Gulp cup of about 75% Diet Coke, 25% Vodka (enough to ease the sunburn on my shoulders, but not enough to turn me into a Kennedy). I put down the cup and turned to the fire pit, about to add some fodder, when Mark walks up and says, "Mark want Daddy pop."
This is what you call one of those "teachable moments." I knew that if I stopped him from sipping, Mark would just think that I was not allowing him refreshment. However, if I allowed him the sip--just a sip--he would learn not to go after my drink without some assurance as to its alcohol content.
As I watched him, I was a little amused and a little disgusted with myself (for just letting him take a swig). His sip was not great. It was merely a trifle. Just enough for him to set the cup down and say in horror, "Daddy's pop icky! Mark no like Daddy's icky pop. Icky pop too hot!"
There's just some comfort in knowing that all the money I've thus far and yet will put out for my kids will not come close to equalling the bills they'll be shelling out for therapy. On the other hand, who do you think they'll ask for the money?
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Oh, let us lament the untimely death of Jim Croce. If this seems an odd post, perhaps you ought to download (legally, of course--lest the proposed new head of the CIA is somehow listening in--and I flatter myself to think that if not now, one day he might) a few of his songs.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
If scientists can ever read DNA the way that a person can read a book, I'm pretty sure that George W. Bush's reads like a Curious George book.
I can see it now, Curious George W. Invades Iraq, or Curious George W. Drafts a Budget, or Curious George W. Defecates on the Bill of Rights. (I believe that this last one is filed under non-fiction)
Dick Cheney would, of course, play the Man with the Yellow Hat: that ever inept master who can't seem to keep the little rascal out of trouble.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmín encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar
Guantanamera, guajira Guantanamera
What's with all the unrest going on in France over these new labor laws? The best quote that I've heard on it, the one that characterizes it best--and Lord help me, I can't remember the source, but I've pretty sure that I read it in a daily article posted by www.mises.org--is something very close to "now the French people are demanding, 'Let us eat cake!'"
The silliness of socialism is trumped only by its wretchedness.
I find this inexcusably lame. But I wonder, am I the only one?
Monday, May 08, 2006
With that said, I predict that President Logan, who lacks the guts to finish himself off, will be assisted involuntarily by his wife.
Furthermore, I predict that Chloe O'Brian is nearing the end of her tenure.
However, Churchill's assessment of Democracy excludes the possibility of other forms of organization. In this case, I mean the anarcho-capitalism proposed directly by current scholars such as Dr. Robert P. Murphy, the late Murray Rothbard, and indirectly many more of the Austrian Economics ilk (e.g. Ludwig von Mises, Frierich Hayek, etc.).
Perhaps, as Thoreau said, "The best form of government is that which governs not at all" (Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience").
Before you dismiss this as radical nonsense (a reaction which your state-funded education has instilled within your very soul), consider that life--social, economic, political, personal, etc.--has improved whenever bold ones have led away from statism, whether that statism is in the form of absolute monarchy, fascism, communism, etc. Dare you ask yourself, why?
Sunday, May 07, 2006
It hinges on the whole Pavlov idea. I complained that the Ice Cream Man has the children conditioned, like Pavlov's dogs, to salivate at the sound of his music (speaking of, what's with the lame music? It makes "midi" files sound like Zepplin). He suggests that I take the conditioning a step further.
As is, the kids associate the music with Ice Cream. So why not change it up a bit? Use classical conditioning/behaviorism, and let the Ice Cream Man become the Spanking Man. I know, it's sheer brilliance.
Here's what I'm to do. When the evening's interrupted by the Ice Cream Man's music, I'll jump up (no matter where I am) and shout: "It's the Spanking Man! Who wants spankings?" Next, as the kids run to the door, expecting to be let out for their frozen dairy deserts, I snatch each of them up and spank the hell out of them, yelling the whole time, "Yeah! It's the Spanking Man! Woo-hoo! Spankings!"
After only one or two treatments, children should be conditioned away from the Ice Cream Man (think baby Albert--or was it Alfred?--in Watson's experiment, the one that made him scared of bunnies). While this might sound cruel, it's only because you're not looking at it from an objective position. Is it really better that their father goes to jail for murder ('cause that's what I'm a-hankering for, if he comes down my street tomorrow)? So what if they endure a couple of unnecessary spankings and involuntarily piss their pants and tremble every time they here "Pop! Goes the Weasel"?
Thanks a lot Shayne. And although my children won't understand (and may one day track you down and kill you), they thank you too.
Friday, May 05, 2006
By the way, and in case you didn't know, this is the whole reason why Christians believe that Jesus was a necessary sacrifice. For those "Christians" who have been changed by Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code, I must admit that I'm impressed. You're so freaking stupid that I never figured you for being literate in the first place. Good job on reading an entire book. Hey, it was crap; but at least it was a book.
By the way, there's a part of me that knows that this is out of line, but it's that wussy part of me that the masculine part usually pummels into oblivion. Seriously, if you think that The Da Vinci Code was, in the least, food for thought; then you are, at least, retarded.
P.S. Yes. I used the word "retarded," and I meant it as an insult. "To retard" means "to slow down." A "retarded" person is, thus, a slow person. So, if it bothered you, perhaps it's because the term hit a little too close to home. Or are you able to come up with a rational rebuttal?
I didn't think so.
Also, I know that this posting reeks of ad hominems. So help me, but I don't believe that the opposition deserves any better.
P.P.S. Be careful about responding if you haven't read the piece of trash from which Dan Brown plagiarized: Holy Blood, Holy Grail. On top of this, don't respond if you haven't at least read the Bible. On top of this, don't respond if you know nothing about Roman history and can't figure out that Constantine had nothing to do with the canonization of the Bible.
While I'm at it, let me alienate my colleagues. This won't be difficult, as most majored in college only for their profession and with no desire whatsoever to learn much of anything.
Labor unions are not to thank for the rise of the middle class in America but for the decline of the middle class in America. The only middle class created and sustained by American labor unions is the middle class in countries with economies undamaged by labor unions.
If you want to challenge me on this, go for it. I'll post your comment (and rip it to shreds) as long as you avoid profanity. Call me whatever you want to call me, but if you defend the labor unions then you are either a fool or a socialist (and socialists are, quantatively--and qualatively--fools to the tenth power).
Note: Not all labor unions are socialistic, but the loudest ones--the AFL-CIO and the UAW--must have trembled in the McCarthy Era (which, despite my hatred of socialism, was a sad chapter in the history of freedom).
Note also: While certain friends might be offended by what I've said, stop and think about from where I'm coming. To me, a labor union's only value is to ensure that employers stick to the written contract. If you thought more (or, in a way, less) of me, then I apologize for misleading you. I advocate the abolition of the state (in all forms) as ardently as I advocate the death of labor unions. Perhaps labor unions had their place in history, but when they married into the government, they sold their soul to the Devil. To hell with them, then.
P.S. Remember what I said about letting this disrupt our friendship (Lawanda, Steve, Brian, et al.)
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Every day, since it's gotten warm, this guy strolls through my neighborhood at a leisurely 3mph, blasting his music and causing my kids to go nuts. "Ice Cream Man! Ice Cream Man! Ice Cream Man!" they shout, spazzing about like chimps at feeding time. It doesn't matter even if they're already eating ice cream. This guy has them conditioned like Pavlov's dogs.
So he rolls down my street, blaring his call, like a Siren from Greek mythology. He does this every stinking day. If he did it once a week, I'd probably be cool with it. I'll spring for ice cream once a week. But he does it EVERY DAY, so inevitably my kids are devastated when I let him pass. Now I'm the jerk, and I hate that.
I'm not one of those dolts who, about something he dislikes, says "There should be a law against that." In fact, I think that the problem with my ice cream man should not be solved by passing any new laws. Actually, I think that certain laws, like those restricting homicide to circumstances involving self-defense or defense of another, should be relaxed. Uncle Ron (the ice cream man) would be far less apt to harass me and my family if it meant having to pick birdshot out of his face every time he hit my neighborhood.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
The following are links to some essays/articles that express better than I can this principle. There is more to read, but you can pretty much get the picture from articles at www.mises.org and www.lewrockwell.com. Mises.org is an especially wonderful source, and (if you like its essays) you can sign up to receive them daily.
If you feel strongly about the gas-price issue, please take the time to read at least some, better most, and best all of the following articles. A reading of Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson would also do a copious amount of good.
These first few are pretty simple.
These are more "academic."
Monday, May 01, 2006
I'm not "happy" about gas prices. They have cost me money. Since I drive an SUV, current gas prices have cost me dearly indeed. Still, I have refrained from anger (which is really odd, since I tend to get really angry at things), and I have not echoed the populist rhetoric about some conspiracy between oil companies and the Bush administration. If this is your opinion about the situation, then I'm willing to bet that your "knowledge" of the situation involves not even a basic tinge of market economics. In fact, I'll go so far as to suggest that the bulk of your knowledge comes from one, some, or all of the following sources: the mass media (e.g. TV, radio), the "water cooler," (e.g. some guy at work who acts like he knows everything--and yes, at my work I am that man), or "intuition" (i.e. what you feel but don't really know or remotely understand). Yet another possible "source" of this knowledge is the willingness to blame George W. Bush for everything that's bad. That's why I hate this. It's gotten to the point that I've got to defend a fascist like George II.
Still, even I talk about it, and I am not a so-called expert. However, allow me to state what I know before you dismiss me. I would appreciate any informed criticism of my analysis.
When we talk about prices, we're really talking about value. Prices equal dollars, and for most people, dollars equal a certain amount of time spent laboring in exchange for those dollars. In this sense, money equals time. Since time equals life (that's how we measure it, in years), the price of a given good or service equals a certain amount of your life (in a way, that is--I admit, it's a bit of a stretch, influenced mostly by Thoreau).
With that said, most people discriminate in the market. They buy only those things which they need and want badly. Needs are fixed. Among them are food, water, and shelter (clothing is a form of shelter). Contrary to popular opinion, medical care is not a universal need.
Wants include anything that we seek but do not require for survival. This can include material goods such as jewelry, cable television, computers, or even specific types of goods that might otherwise fall under the "needs" category (e.g. if you live in Michigan, you might need shoes in the winter, but you don't need Timberlands).
Prices for any given good reflect its value, and value is determined by the quantity of the given good or service (i.e. supply) and the intensity of consumers' desire for the given good or service (i.e. demand).
When a good or service is in high demand but in short supply (e.g. an autographed copy of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer), it commands a very high price on the market. This makes sense. There are very few of these available, but many people would love to get their hands on one. Therefore, the price is very high. This way, the seller maximizes the value of his or her product.
Prices go down only if the supply of a good or service is increased (in excess of any long-term increase in demand) or if the demand for a good or service declines (in excess of its supply).
Therefore, a free market will fix this gasoline "problem." If the price is indeed beyond market value (i.e. where supply and demand meet), then people will consume less gasoline over time (those e-mails about skipping gas stations on Wednesdays or only filling up a quarter of a tank at a time and such are nonsense). People consuming less gas will lead to a decline in the value of gas, and thus a decline in the price of gas.
Also, if gas prices are high for a long enough period of time, people will turn to alternate modes of transportation. Whether this mode is hybrids or buses or anything else is yet to be determined. But if left to the market, it will reflect what most consumers want.
Right now, we feel that gasoline is a need--not a want. That's B.S. I can't tell you how many times my lazy butt has jumped into the car to go a half-mile to the 7-11 for a Slurppee. If I lived closer to my job (and perhaps I will soon, if fuel prices continue to rise), then I can walk to work.
The bottom line is--and I'm here because I've been rambling and it's late; not because I've said all that I can say--stop bitching about gas prices. Either pay for gas or don't. If you do, then you validate the value of the gas and have no business complaining about it and advocating some insane socialist measure to curb the costs.