Friday, October 27, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Then don't buy crap from Target. No company should have to cater to the blind. If the blind don't like it, then they can shop elsewhere online or in any other fashion.
Whatever happened to a person's right to property?
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
So some assert that the average colonist was just fine with the British, and that the war and move for independence were engineered merely by wealthy men who did not wish to pay taxes.
It was not a crowd of wealthy men who threw stones and snowballs at redcoats in downtown Boston on March 5, 1770 (The Boston Massacre). There was no conscription (draft), so why did so many poor and modest Americans enlist to fight the British if they were essentially happy with British policy?
Americans of every class fought fiercely for independence. It was not to avoid paying taxes that wealthy men risked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor; and it was not because they were hoodwinked that the middle and lower classes chose to suffer eight long years of war.
Had Hancock, Washington, Franklin, et alia been captured, they would, in Franklin's words, "hang separately." Wealthy men do not risk their lives for a few pence.
Remember that the Battles of Lexington and Concord happened because the General Gage was determined to arrest Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Hancock especially was extremely wealthy and would have stayed extremely wealthy without a war for independence. Actually, since Hancock was a well-known smuggler, he actually benefited financially by British mercantilist policies. Without all the duties on imports, Hancock would not have had any business in smuggling.
Many of the wealthy leaders during the war saw their fortunes suffer. John Rutledge, of South Carolina never recovered financially from his war losses. Are we to believe that he sacrificed the bulk of his estate because he disliked paying duties on tea?
Redcoats pillaged Francis Lewis’s home on Long Island, and his wife was taken prisoner for several months. John Hart suffered similar losses. Carter Braxton, whose massive wealth was heavily invested in commercial enterprises, lost a fortune over the course of the war as many of his ships were either captured or destroyed. During the war, the British occupied the homes of Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock. Much of Philip Livingston's property was occupied and looted by the British.
Such fortunes are not risked by an aversion to relatively small taxes.
As far as sacred honor ("sacred Honour" in the Declaration of Independence) goes, let's not forget that had the Americans failed, they would have gone down in history as criminals and traitors. Had these men simply sat on their hands during the 1770's, they would have enjoyed status and privilege in the colonies. They valued honor far more than we do. They probably valued it more than their lives and their fortunes. The historical degradation that they would have suffered had they lost does not even approach equality with the tax burden they felt under the Townshend Acts et alia.
But perhaps a wealthy person might risk his life and fortune. However, what kind of father sacrifices his children to avoid paying taxes? Abraham Clark's son was captured by the British and imprisoned in miserable conditions on the HMS Jersey, and John Witherspoon's son was killed at the Battle of Germantown in 1777.
On top of this, let's not forget that once independence was secured and the Constitution ratified less than a decade later, these men who supposedly risked so much to avoid paying taxes to the British established a government that could tax them just as easily. If they really fought to avoid taxes, wouldn't they have made a government that couldn't tax them?
There's a well-known tribute that includes many of these names and similar details, but it is not a specimen of accurate research. Nonetheless, the point is that these men risked their fortunes.
Those who argue that this war was a mere tax revolt led by wealthy white men are stricken with Marxism: a disease of the mind that spreads to the soul. Marxism is often not fatal to those most stricken with it. However, it causes its victims to organize governments and economies that lead to famine and death. Millions of Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Cubans and others have died due to Marxism. Some people need to realize that Howard Zinn is not a great historian, and that his "research" is biased toward socialist ends. Since socialism leads to poverty and death, and Howard Zinn promotes socialism, then it follows that Howard Zinn promotes poverty and death. Those who follow Zinn are either fools or villains. There is no in between.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Perhaps it has some artistic merit. Jackson certainly does step out of his pigeonhole for this one. However, I liked his little genre peg, and this one not so much.
Sunday, October 22, 2006
These farmers wanted three things. Two were immediate and practical. Governor/General Thomas Gage had deployed the redcoats with two objectives: arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams (both "Sons of Liberty" who, in today's language, would be called either "terrorists" or "insurgents;" and to seize the local militia's arsenal in Concord, which would render that region's colonists unable to resist the continued revokation of their rights.
The third reason was more idealistic. However, contrary to popular "textbook" opinion, it was not revolutionary. Englishmen had valued the concept of limited government and a social contract for over 500 years, going back all the way to Magna Carta (1215 AD).
The Proclamation of 1763 deprived colonists of their liberty and property rights (in the Ohio Valley, for which they fought the French and Indian War). To enforce the proclamation line, thousands of redcoats were garrisoned in forts scattered along the Appalachian frontier. This standing army during a time of peace was meant only to intimidate colonists--and government should fear the citizens, not the other way around. On top of this tyranny, taxes were necessary to fund these very same soldiers' quarters.
A year later, Parliament passed the Stamp Act. A basically direct tax with no purpose other than to raise revenues for the British government. The problem with this was that it taxed Englishmen (colonists) who had no representation in parliament. Magna Carta prohibits this, as did hundreds of years of English/British tradition. Colonists resisted this tyranny via organized protests/petitions (e.g. the Stamp Act Congress), boycotts on British goods, and "extra-legal" forms of Civil Disobedience, including the physical destruction of stamps as well as the tarring and feathering of royal officials.
Parliament repealed the Stamp Act in 1765, but replaced it with the Declaratory Act, which served as an effective "Blank Check" for Parliament. According to this act, they could tax and govern colonists regardless of representation in Parliament.
The Declaratory Act was followed by the Townshend Acts, a series of tariffs that would probably have been accepted by Americans as necessary to regulate trade. However, in the wake of the Stamp Act et al, Colonists were quite angry with the Townshend Acts. That the Townshend Acts allowed for writs of assistence--basically these were search warrants which required no probable cause and virtually no limits--only hastened the conflict. These were enacted in order for royal officials to better police colonial commerce--to catch and punish smugglers. While this seems perfectly correct in terms of government's power to maintain "law and order," colonists saw it as a tyrannical jab at their property rights. Remember, these taxes should never have been put in place to begin with. Boycotts and protests led to the repeal of most of the Townshend Acts, except for the one on tea.
The British East India Company enjoyed a state-established monopoly on the colonial tea industry. However, like all government subsidized industries, it ran its finances inefficiently and was in trouble. The tax on tea was meant to support The BEIC, and even though the tea was to be sold at bargain prices, agitators in Boston knew the real deal. Thus the Boston Tea Party was born. While many saw the attack against private property as a crime that was actually detrimental to the principles by which colonists were resisting British policy (I'm sorry for the complicated verbage), most colonists saw it for what it was. A bold act of civil disobedience. It's not like the BEIC was acting alone. It was acting as an arm of the British government, a tryannical body that no longer respected colonists' rights.
The Boston Tea Party was followed by the Coercive Acts, a series of punitive measures laid mostly against Boston (e.g. The Port Act closed the Port of Boston until the Tea from the Tea Party was paid for). It also called for further quartering of soldiers in colonists' (mostly Bostonians' homes), and a Quebec Act, which threatened to rob New England's local communities of their relative autonomy by placing them under the French laws of now British Quebec.
As things got worse in Boston, this led to the hunt for Hancock and Adams and the militia's arsenal (what I mentioned in the beginning).
A month before the battles of Lexington and Concord, Patrick Henry asked the House of Burgesses in Virginia what the British Ministry had done in the past ten years that had not been tyrannical and aimed at depriving colonists of their rights. He also called for war. He wasn't a prophet. He was a student of history.
Oh for the times when men stood up for their rights and did not content themselves to essentially meaningless rants....
Saturday, October 21, 2006
A recent article in the New York Times complains that immigrants are sending billions of dollars to support their families in other countries. The neo-mercantilists (i.e. typical pseudo-economists and politicians) condemn this.
At least real, old school mercantilists were concerned about real gold. These neo-mercantilists are concerned about worthless script.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Sunday, October 15, 2006
My daughter is thrilled with the prospects of a new sibling. She wants a little sister--even though I told her that a little sister would place severe budget restrictions on weddings (since I would be obliged to pay for two instead of one). She says that will be fine. She'll just marry someone who has lots of money and can pay for it himself, someone like a doctor or a teacher. To her, apparently, I seem to be wealthy; for while she needs to save money in order to buy Slurpees, I just whip out the magical debit card.
My son doesn't quite get it. He thinks that the baby needs to get out of mommy's tummy. Asked if he wants a brother or a sister, he replied, "I want a toy gun."
Saturday, October 14, 2006
People are complaining because some are paying more for their Medicare prescription drug coverage.
Perhaps the best way to deal with this griping would be simply to cut them off. Which is worse: more expensive drugs, or no drugs at all? Is it not enough for these people that young, productive workers already subsidize the bulk of their drug costs?
Need is not a justification.
I think that I'll head over to the grocery store and complain when they tell me that I've got to pay for the food. When production and distribution costs rise, I'll complain that I'm being ripped off with higher prices.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
For instance, I feel terrible. My throat is sore, my nose can't decide if it wants to be stuffed up or runny, I've got a mild cough, and almost demobilizing lethargy.
On the other hand, I was able to go to another room while my wife watched Dancing With The Stars.
I could have been so sick that I could not have moved, and I would have been forced to watch that rubbish.
It reminded me a bit of what Groucho Marx said (I'll quote it, but it's probably at least partly paraphrased), "Television is very educational. Everytime someone switches one on, I go to another room and read a good book."
I guess it's true. There's a silver lining on every cloud, though from here it looks as though my clouds might be lined with mucus.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
This blog is entitled "What I Hate (Usually)," so this is the proper forum.
I hate those Goddamned chain-emails with a Christian message (Hell yes, I used "Goddamned" for its irony. "Hell" however, was just plain vulgarity).
So what's the real message with these poorly written pieces of trash that even the Pope would delete? If I don't forward it to all of my friends, I'm going to Hell? Is that it? If I do forward it to all of my friends (i.e. both of them), then there's a mansion reserved for me in Heaven? (This is what the last Christ-Chain-Link message implied). What kind of theological nonsense is that? When Jesus was on Calvary, did that one thief text to several of his friends that Jesus was awesome in order for Jesus to say that they will soon be together in paradise? Seriously, I'd rather blow myself up for 40 virgians than have a mansion, even if getting the mansion meant nothing more than pissing off everyone of my email contacts.
Often, these messages say, "If you love Jesus, then forward this to X number of people." What a scam. The next time that you get one of these, send a new one back to whomever sent you the original, but end it with "If you love Jesus, then sign all of your assets over to me and kill yourself with a dull butterknife." That ought to put the damn idiot in a real predicament.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
In the words of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, "...the rabbit done died."
I'm going to be a dad, again.
Let my experience be a lesson to all. It doesn't matter how smart, charming, and attractive you are. You can still have mishaps, and some mishaps are very, very consequential. These mishaps especially occur in conjunction with a few glasses of any given fermented beverage.
About two and a half weeks following just an occasion, I was cooking up some hamburger for lunch (I'm on a low-carb diet--down ten pounds in thirteen days). Suddenly, from the bathroom I heard the all too familiar "Honey, come quick!" Usually, this means that I am on bug stomping duty. Needless to say, I was somewhat annoyed at being called away from the stove to kill an insect that was probably the size of a pencil tip.
I stood outside of the bathroom door and asked "What's up?"
I expected to hear, "Big spider. Kill it." Instead, I heard, "Look."
Although I knew that she was late on her period, I was not prepared for what I saw when I opened the door. Her cycle is pretty regular. She should not have been ovulating, and I should not have had an entire army at my disposal--if you get my meaning.
There she was, holding a pregnancy test. Her hand was trembling, but I got the picture really fast.
"Holy crap," I said (actually, I said something else, but it was one of George Carlin's Seven Words That You Can't Say on TV).
Although there are no false positives when it comes to these tests (only false negatives), I went to Rite Aid in search of a second opinion. It also was positive. I'm pretty sure that at some point I uttered a few other words that cannot be said on network TV. Hell, I'll bet that even HBO would be squeamish about what I said.
In an instant, I saw my Harley riding away--being driven by a baby, no less. I am also certain that this baby needed its diaper changed and would eventually go to an expensive college.
In that same instant, I saw myself--as all soon-to-be-parents do--seated at the Nobel Prize Awards ceremony, watching my offspring accept an award (the category is irrelevant).
I was torn.
Oh well. It's unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome. I thought that I was done changing diapers and such, but that's not how it's meant to be (which is an ironic way to put it, since I don't believe in fate).
We spent the bulk of the afternoon looking for a bigger house, one with four bedrooms, and discussing potential names. I immediately excluded any names in the top ten most popular of both genders. We're thinking, for a boy: Robert Frank (after two of our dads--I have two, as my biological father has been deceased since I was five, and I already have a son named after him), Nicholas Scott (I have a deceased cousin by the name of Nicholas, but that's not what draws me to the name), Thomas More (one of my historical heroes and my confirmation name--yes, I'm the dorky adult neophyte who chooses such a confirmation name), or Thomas Jefferson (another historical favorite). For a girl, we might be settled on Alyssa Danielle (Alyssa was the hottest girl whom I knew from eighth to twelfth grade, and my wife wants an "Ally").
It just occurred to me that the PS3 and big screen TV will probably have to wait a few more years [insert any number of words that you can't say on TV. The combination should be lengthy to the point of disbelief].
Friday, October 06, 2006
Sunday, October 01, 2006
I was, at the time, a hard core "conservative" who believed that, in the hands of the right people (e.g. other hard core conservatives), government could be good, and that decent from this "good" was, by definition, "evil." I was so deluded that I actually considered a "Domestic Affairs" branch of the same department. I admit this with a deep sense of shame.