Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Promised Land

It looks good. My techie is here right now fixing my computer. If all goes well, I can unplug this archaic POS and get back to normal. For all of you loyal readers (both of you), I apologize for being off line for so long.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I've heard it said that a computer cannot be stupid; rather it is limited only by a combination of its hardware/programming and its user's intelligence.

And I agree.

This seems to put me in a vulnerable position, for my computer is AWOL. It seems stupid, which means that there is either a problem with its hardware/programming, or the problem is my own intelligence.

Given these two possibilities, I must go with the first: that there is a problem with the hardware/programming. However, my diagnostic abilities are limited to phrases such as "It's not working," or "It's working now," or "This computer is a POS." This is why I have sat idle for a week now, waiting patiently for the kid who built it for me to return home from UM for the weekend to fix it.

The problem cannot be a lack in my intelligence, for I am the smartest person whom I know. Of course, there's always a "faster gun" out there, but such people are arrogant pricks, so I pay them no heed.

It occurs to me that there might even be a third problem. If a computer is limited by its user's intelligence, can it not be likewise enhanced by its user's intelligence? Like I said, I'm the smartest guy whom I know.

My new theory is that the computer somehow read the previous post in which I surmised that it was taking a "union break." I thus threatened to replace it with a Mac because it is easily replaceable (as are all union employees). However, the striking computer knew that I could not afford to hire a scab, unless I was willing to downgrade to eMachines (which it knew that I obviously was not willing to do).

In short, the damn thing called my bluff.

What sucks about someone calling your bluff is that you've got nothing. They call your bet and say, "Show 'em," and you get that sinking feeling in your stomach as you lay down a pair of fives. Don't believe those "Hi, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" commercials. PC's are not mumbling idiots who thrive only on spreadsheets. PC's are like Bill Gates: rutheless calculators of their own strengths and their enemies' weaknesses (not that this is a bad thing).

Basically, I've got a pair of fives, and PC knows it. There's no use in bluffing him anymore that I'm going to pick up a Mac. I'm screwed. I fold. Now where in the heck is that kid? I need PC back!

Monday, February 12, 2007

BS on 24

While 24 remains one of my favorite shows, it does not exist as such carte blanche.

How nice of 24 to pin the real threat to life on disaffected Russians. Forgive me if I do not recall the Eastern Orthodox Church (or even specifically the Russian Orthodox Church) ever advocating the death of non-parishoners. However, I can remember plenty of another such group stating such a goal.

Food for thought.

DiLorenzo v. The Socialist Liars

I just finished rereading Thomas DiLorenzo's How Capitalism Saved America.

It's like a breath of fresh air, even after a second read. If you haven't read it, do so. Afterwards, pick up Lorenzo's other great book: The Real Lincoln.

For decades, revisionist historians and quack economists have sought to strip us of the elements of fact that make us human, but DiLorenzo and others have struggled to show that the human spirit is one of triumph, not of defeat, one of glory, not of shame, and one of goodness, and not of evil.

Surely humans are capable of evil, but it is not evil for which we were made. We were made perfect and with the capacity for perfection. We stray from this capacity too often, but it is not inevitable that we must be reprobate. Hipocrites like Pat Robertson will cite scripture to defend their purposes, but I decline to do so. I only ask that you consider reason.

If human beings were made to be free (and who could imagine any other purpose?), then we are supposed to be free (it's really a matter of definition). If we were meant to be controlled, then by whom? An intellectual elite? Those appointed by the majority?

In truth, the intellectual elite (a class that has made a business out of producing nothing) and the appointed majority (i.e. politicians who promote nothing true but only what the winds suggest) have conspired to anoint themselves has the heroes--no, the saviors--of humanity. And yet, they are the damnation of it.

Consider the "Global Warming" camp. Did you know that twenty-five years ago it was the "Global Cooling" camp?

Seriously, check it out!

You see, climate is a fickle thing. It's long term, but those who wish to use it immorally for their own purposes must cling to its short-term implications. Thus, we are not now in danger of global cooling, but we are in danger of global warming. The only thing that has changed is the variables necessary for the unworthy to attain power over otherwise free and rational beings.

The politicians who cling to the "human consumption is causing global warming" rant are either terribly ignorant of what CLIMATE is or very insidious in their intentions.

If you don't know what insidious means, then grab a dictionary.

But at least scholars like DiLorenzo are willing to show the truth plainly. Before you doubt it, read the book.

Cluster F@#k

For some reason, by primary computer decided to take a vacation. All of a sudden it decides that it cannot find BIOS (which is crap, since I can run the BIOS setup utility). The guy who built the computer thinks that it might actually be a Windows problem (Steve Jobs must be so happy), but it'll be until Saturday that he can get here.

Personally, I think that my computer has joined a union.

It doesn't realize that it performs no special functions, that I can get a new computer or even use a really old one (like this vintage 1998 model upon which I'm now writing), so it's trying to throw its weight around. Instead, it's going to find itself out of work because dammit, it's not that freaking special. Here's news for you folks, if a union is necessary for your job security, then it's because your job isn't all that special. There's no neurosurgeons' union because not just any fool can be a neurosurgeon. There are unions for factory workers because anyone can work on the line. There are unions for carpenters because even a chimp can use a saw. There are unions for electricians because a kindergarten kid can tell you which wire is blue and which is red. Hell, teachers have degrees, but most secondary level teachers are pathetic novices in their subject areas.

I'm hereby issuing my computer an ultimatum. You have until Saturday to get this little strike over with. If you don't listen to reason, I will not only replace you; I will replace you with an iMac.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Symphonie Fantastique, by Hector Berlioz. Listen to it. Enjoy it. Feel it. Be human.


If Islam is a religion of peace, then why don't so-called mainstream muslims decry the violence of its supposedly mistaken breathren?

If Islam is a religion of peace, why do all Islamic states act so abhorrently?

Why is there no decent Islamic state in the world?

Help me out, for I don't see this happening.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

One of My Favorite Movies

In 1972, director Sydney Pollack teamed up with actor Robert Redford to make Jeremiah Johnson. It's a remarkable film in many respects. While the movie is very deep, with a rich plot zig-zagging with complications and character development, there is very little dialogue. Pollack's eye and Redford's talent combine to tell most of the story silently, if not always peacefully. Shot entirely in Utah, Jeremiah Johnson helps me understand why a Hollywood elitist like Redford would buy up thousands of acres and live on the outskirts of civilization. The natural beauty of the place is beyond description. Adjectives like "majestic," awesome," and even "spiritual" come to mind, but they only scratch at the surface and hint at the essence. It's also a heartbreaking and inspirational story. It starts off with a brief (and perfect) narrative intro. It's done as a voice over, following Johnson as he arrives at a town that is more of a camp:

His name was Jeremiah Johnson, and they say he wanted to be a mountain man. The story goes that he was a man of proper wit and adventurous spirit, suited to the mountains. Nobody knows whereabouts he come from and don't seem to matter much. He was a young man and ghostly stories about the tall hills didn't scare him none. He was looking for a Hawken gun, .50 caliber or better. He settled for a .30, but damn, it was a genuine Hawken, and you couldn't go no better. Bought him a good horse, and traps, and other truck that went with being a mountain man, and said good-bye to whatever life was down there below.

It then follows him as he heads into the Rocky Mountains as a disenchanted fool, the kind who needs to learn that the rest of the world, especially mother nature, could give a damn that he's pissed off or depressed.

He begrudges civilization and assumes that he'll find what he's looking for in the solitude of the mountains. He does so almost arrogantly, and quickly finds that nature is apathetic, and sometimes downright hostile. His struggle to survive early on in the film makes me recall Stephen Crane's short poem (which is really not much more than a musing):

A man said to the Universe,
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the Universe,
"The fact has not created in me
"A sense of obligation."

However, with a healthy dose of determination and some good luck, Johnson manages through his first winter.

I don't want to spoil the film for you, so I'll sum up the rest quickly.

Johnson, who came into the mountains "Bettin' on forgettin' all the trouble that he knew,"* to be alone, ends up finding much more than solitude, only to lose it, and then avenge it.

In many respects, the movie is as vicious as it is beautiful (though not visually), and that is part of it's allure. It's humanity in a nutshell. All that a man can do, good and bad. All that nature is, good and bad. Life and death, love and hate, joy and pain.

Ultimately, the film is triumphant, not just in its protagonist, but in its message and overall quality.

Rent it this Friday night.

*From the ballad that runs throughout the movie.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pancreatitis, Climate Change, and a False Dilemma

My good friend is ailing with a case of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Pancreatitis can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption or pregnancy.

So my friend is either a drunk, pregnant, or a pregnant drunk (gasp!).

On the other hand, this is merely a demonstration of false logic. While excessive alcoholism is perhaps the major cause of pancreatitis, and pregnancy is a possible cause of it, they are not the only possible causes. There are at least 18 other possible causes. I left them out because my purpose was to raise an eyebrow (especially when he recovers and reads this). It would have been just plain boring for me to say that it was caused by gall stones.

But when people want attention, they'll often create false dilemmas.

The climate is changing. This change (might) be linked to CO2 emissions. Therefore, CO2 emissions is causing the climate to change. Of course in the standard argument, they leave out the parenthesized "might" entirely.

Of course, if your real agenda is to exert control over how free people live, then you need to get them on board. The best way is to make them scared for their lives, so it becomes "Climate change will lead to death; CO2 emissions (might) cause climate change; therefore, CO2 emissions will lead to death!" Leave out all other possibilities (including the possibility that climate change is not caused by humans and that, even if it is, it may not necessarily result in our deaths). Stick to the story and ridicule all critics as either unscientific, illogical, unintelligent, uncaring, foolish, "twisted." or "laughable." Throw in a few clips of polar bears and penguins, and now even children will be upset. In essence, do more spin than science.

The most likely cause of climate change is the same thing that caused it thousands of years ago (when Earth became colder--the Ice Age--and when the Earth became warmer--from the Ice Age to present). Humans couldn't have caused those climate changes, so why are so many ready to pin the current change (which isn't even a change--we've been warming since the Ice Age) on humans? The answer is simple: money and power are at stake. Scientists get money if they convince politicians to fund their armegeddon studies; politicians get power if they convince voters that they must seize control over methods of production and consumption.

Of all the possible causes of the current climate change, this is by far the most likely. It contains not only actual evidence (e.g. the climate has changed before without human help), and it gives a rather likely argument against those who argue the contrary. All these things are true. The climate has changed before, and human beings will sometimes lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want.

Remember again that the stars never lie, but astrologers do.

For the record, my friend, while he really is suffering from pancreatitis, is neither a drunk nor is he pregnant.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Le Chanson de Roland

Betrayed, Charlemagne's brave nephew Roland and the tiny rear guard of the army face off against a Saracen army.

He and his men fight savagely against overwhelming odds. They slaughter and are slaughtered alike. During the fight, Roland injures the Saracen king, Marsilion, who then flees with the remnants of his army. But as the enemy cedes the field, Roland cedes his life.

From The Song of Roland, CXCVII

Beneath a pine was his resting place,
To the land of Spain hath he turned his face,
On his memory rose full many a thought
Of the lands he won and the fields he fought,
Of his gentle France, of his kin and line;
Of his nursing father, King Karl benign;
He may not tear and sob control,
Nor yet forgets he his parting soul.
To God's compassion he makes his cry:
"O Father true, who canst not lie,
"Who didst Lazarus raise unto life again,
And Daniel shield in the lions' den;
Shield my soul from its peril, due
For the sins I sinned my lifetime through.
He did his right hand glove uplift
Saint Gabriel took from his hand the gift;
Then drooped his head upon his breast,
And with clasped hands he went to rest.
God from on high sent down to him
One of his angel Cherubim
Saint Michael of Peril of the sea,
Saint Gabriel in company
From heaven they came for that soul of price,
And they bore it with them to Paradise.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pick One

Which of the above photos is a sonogram of my currently in-utero son (no, Michael J. Fox may not kill him to make a stem cell smoothie), and which is legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock? It's too close to call.

A Polemic on Climate Change

For good God's sake, one of the first damn principles in science and philosophy that I learned was that correlation does not equal causation. Similarly, the Romans recognized the error of thinking post hoc, ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this).

And yet, so many scientists claim that the cause of global warming (which is, I admit, apparently undeniable--at least in the short term) is the result of increased carbon gas emissions since the advent of the industrial revolution (c. late 1700's). However, logic tells us clearly that just because these two things correlate (somewhat--check the freaking records!), neither can be construed as the cause of the other, for it is equally probable that they are either both results of an altogether different cause (which, makes no sense at all--that a warming climate led to an increased burning of fossil fuels is quite absurd) or completely unrelated (very likely, but not very dramatic).

Ockham's Razor--a basic principle in so-called "modern science" (I use quotation marks because the idea is about 700 years old)--tells us to look to lex parsimoniae (the law of parsimony/succinctness). Simply put, nearly one thousand years ago, William of Ockham pointed out that entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem (entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity). In layman's terms, this means that the most likely answer/cause is the answer/cause. Such reasoning is quite reasonable whenever solid, irrefutable evidence pointing toward a single answer/cause does not exist.

Knowing this, I ask you which is more likely:

That the climate has been steadily increasing since the Ice Age (thousands of years before the industrial revolution), and is therefore a natural occurrence, completely independent of human action; or that the Earth warmed naturally from the Ice Age but then stopped at some kind of arbitrary point and that human beings have managed to pushed the climate beyond that "naturally" arbitrary point?

Basically, it is irrefutable that the climate warmed thousands of years ago without human assistance. Those cavemen, while they might have been able to use, produced as a whole over several millennia, fewer "greenhouse gasses" then I do after a trip to White Castle. So it is established that the Earth can warm on its own.

Considering Ockham's contribution, then, it is far more likely that the Earth is simply continuing what it started ten thousand years ago with only brief respites.

Let's not forget the motivation behind the Chicken Little's who cry that the sky is falling.

Some are politicians (e.g. Al Gore) who can use such fear to catapult themselves to the pinnacles of power. Many are egotists who are so pathetically lonely that they must use such fear to make themselves seem important. Still others have their eyes set on the money that keeps pouring in from ignorantly desperate governments who lack the wisdom to just say "No." Perhaps more insidious is the fact that many socialists who advocate a command economy have seized upon the issue in order to gain control over the modes of production and consumption.

But let us not forget that demagogues lead their people to Hell. Egotists care for no one but themselves. The greedy will do anything for money. And the socialists will sacrifice the lives of millions to see their collectivist schemes enacted. You don't believe me? Study the histories of the Stalinist Russia and Maoist China.

They tell us that it is likely that humans are causing global warming. However, with a complete lack of knowledge about what causes the climate to increase naturally, anything is a likely candidate. Imagine a room full of one thousand people. The room is dark. No one can see. A murder is committed. The lights return. Every person there is equally likely a suspect.

While the industrial revolution was underway in Great Britain and the United States, Ludwig von Beethoven composed his 9th Symphony, famous for its "Ode to Joy." Ever since it was first performed, it has been performed constantly. It correlates to the supposed advent of global warming.

Another factor that most people don't consider is that human beings could not come close to recording accurate temperatures until the early 1700's. Since the Earth has been around far longer than that, these so-called scientists are claiming that a mere 300 years (out of millions and millions of total years) is enough to establish supposedly "normal" climate patterns. You should not have to think long to see this as nonsensical. 300 years is not even one half of 1,000 years, and recorded history far exceeds 2,000 years. In a nutshell, 300 years is a completely insufficient sample. Add to this the fact that the climate has gradually warmed on its own since the Ice Age, and you can see even more problems with the "Sky is Falling" camp.

Still another point to consider is that whenever a major volcanic eruption occurs, the Earth (quite naturally) deposits far more "greenhouse gasses" into the atmosphere than man has ever produced in all of history. Check the data on Mount Pinatubo's 1991 eruption for actual evidence to this point.

If nature itself can outdo man's entire repertoire in a single volcanic eruption, who's the more likely culprit in global warming?

Remember, I'm not saying that overall temperatures have not increased since they've been recorded. What I'm saying is that there is no proof that humans have caused this increase, and that such a claim is baseless. Conjecture is not evidence. Possibility is not evidence. If it were, then every person in Dallas on November 22, 1963 could be a "likely" suspect in President Kennedy's assassination (for the record, it was Lee Harvey Oswald. Read Case Closed by Gerald Posner if you wish to disagree).

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