Monday, April 30, 2007

Save Money on Gas

Hey, a friend sent me this, and I checked it out with my brother, who's a lawyer. He says it's legit!

Are you tired about the rising price of gasoline? If so, here's the real solution. It's not like those brainless scams: don't buy gas on a given day or don't buy Exxon-Mobile's gas at all. If you would like to bring down the price of gasoline, send $50 to my PO box.

It'll work, trust me. Forward this post to ten other people and a big surprise will pop up on your screen.

And also, you're an idiot if you forward this kind of crap to other people.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Random Observation

For a man, nothing can be so simultaneously hilarious and horrifying than to see another man get nailed in the nuts.

What is it about blunt force trauma to the testicles?

Think about it. If you saw video footage of a two guys passing each other on the sidewalk, and one sucker-punched the other in the face, you'd say something like, "Holy crap!." You might chuckle, but you wouldn't really laugh.

However, if you saw similar footage, but of a kick or a punch to the groin, you would guffaw. At the same time, you would cross your own legs and cringe.

What a piece of work is man.

Lawn-Mowin' Blues

At the end of last autumn, on the last day of lawn mowing season, my lawn mower died. It was killed, actually, by a baseball bat lying unseen in the grass. The blade caught it and whipped it in a powerful circle. I was lucky enough to escape unscathed, but the spinning bat bent the lawnmower's blade and tore off it's power-assist front wheel.

Oh well, I'd been having problems with it, so now I really had an excuse to buy a new one.

As spring slowly set in after a three-week long tugging fest with the remnants of winter, I watched as some of my more lawn-conscious neighbors changed the oil in and gassed up their trusty mowers. I watched them mow and thought to myself, "Gee, I'd be out there too if my lawnmower worked."

It was actually kind of nice.

Alas, "So dawn goes down to day, nothing gold can stay." Yes, yesterday's weather was splendid--sublime, even--so I checked the paper for some sales and eventually made my way to Lowe's. Mark, of course, wanted me to get a riding mower. "Get a tractor one, daddy!" But I was looking to spend less than $200.

I had something else in mind as well, and it confirmed a long standing suspicion that I had held like a grudge ever since I was about eight years old. That's when I started mowing the lawn for my parents.

At first it was a blast. I still remember being asked if I wanted to cut the grass. It never looked like work. It looked like fun. I loved the noise and the sense of power. I enthusiastically agreed to do so, and I tried my hardest to do a good job and show my folks that I was indeed becoming a man.

After a few times, however, I began to suspect that I had been duped. Every parent has heard this one, "You guys just had me so that you could make me work around the house." And when confronted with household chores, that's exactly how most kids feel. Eventually, I grew and dismissed such feelings as adolescent nonsense. Up until I stood there at Lowe's looking at lawnmowers.

I planned on saving fifty bucks by getting a simple push-mower with no power-assistance. However, that's when it dawned on me. Natalie will soon by seven. In a year, she can be mowing the lawn. Wouldn't it be nice of me to put up the extra money to get one that will lessen her labor? So I started looking at the $250 model.

And then, a glimpse of the Promised Land: and unlike Moses, I was about to get there.

For a mere $300, I could get a self-propelled lawnmower with an electric start. That way, she wouldn't even need to yank back on the cord. She could just turn the key.

And that's when I realized that I had been somewhat right all those times I had quietly cursed my parents for enslaving me in the fields (i.e. the yard on our suburban cul-de-sac). It occurred to me that I had been wrong by a shade. I should not have said, "You guys just had me so that you could make me work around the house." I should have said, "One of the reasons that you guys had me was so that you could make me work around the house."

Of course, I defended myself with the standard parent retorts: "When I was a kid, I had chores;" and "It'll help build character;" and "It's about time that the kids did something to earn their keep." Besides, Natalie's not old enough just yet, so it'll still be me for awhile.

So I bought the $300 model.

I brought it home and showed it off to my wife and kids. It sure looked nice, sitting there in the driveway as I scanned the manual and filled it with oil and gas.

I thought to myself, "Man, I have a nice lawnmower." Then I thought to myself, "Damn, I have a lawnmower."

So I started to cut the grass. I was about a third of the way done with the front lawn when Natalie came out and asked if I could show her how to do it. I explained how to start it, how to engage the powered wheels, and how to cut straight along the lines with a slight overlap on the freshly cut side. She loved it, so I stopped her and took over again before she realized that it is work. That moment will come soon enough, and for it I cannot wait.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


So the leading Democrats have debated each other. Perhaps soon the leading Republicans will do likewise. Then, the leading Democrat and leading Republican will face off mono y mono.

Alas, neither has the guts to argue against a Libertarian because a Libertarian will not stick to a rehearsed script that allows both sides to argue with dignity. A Libertarian will strike at the truth, and in doing so pulverize either Democrat or Republican.

One day, our time will come. Joshua will blow his horn, and the walls of the false two-party system will come crashing down and the righteous will loot Jericho for all that it is not worth.

Monday, April 23, 2007

24--God Bless/Damn It

If I took a dump, and a missing section of the Dead Sea Scrolls plopped out, I would still be less surprised then what happens on 24.

Perhaps my observation is crass, but it is what it is.

Herb Ohta Jr Daniel Ho Yamano Ginza 2006 Europa

More evidence that those who see the ukulele as a mere toy instrument are quite wrong.

True Freedom of Speech

A professor at Emmanuel College in Boston has been fired for simulating the VA Tech shooting. He claims that the University is stifling free speech.

I do not know enough about the professor's demonstration to say whether or not the professor's dismissal was proper. However, I do know enough about the first amendment to say that Emmanuel College did not violate the professor's right to freedom of speech.

Read the damn amendment. It's first words are "Congress shall pass no law respecting . . . freedom of speech." It doesn't say that you can say whatever you want and your employers, neighbors, and peers have to like it. The first amendment was not intended to protect people from ostracism. It was not intended to protect jobs. The first amendment was intended to prevent the government from using its coercive powers against citizens who speak there minds.

An example of this might be the fact that I think that George W. Bush's government is more fascist than Republican (and by Republican, I mean classical Republican, as described first by Aristotle but carried into existence by the American Revolution (see Gordon Wood's The Radicalism of the American Revolution for some insight. However, be careful. Wood, for all his obvious intelligence and scholarship, simply neglects the conservative elements of the War for Independence--and these were pretty major, as they were the agendas of Washington, Hancock, and later Hamilton).

Should I be arrested and charged with a crime for calling George W. Bush a fascist, then my right to free speech has been violated.

However, if I work in an office, and my boss--the owner, who has invested his entire fortune in the business enterprise at which I am employed--takes offense (presumably because he is a Bush man), and he fires me for my comments: my rights have not been violated.

I do not have a right to my job. My job belongs to the owner (or owners) of the company. If I upset them, it is there right to release me. Hell, they can fire me because I prefer to wear socks with sandals on weekends. The job belongs to the company, not me.

I am a free man, and I should be free to say what I want, but that doesn't mean that there are no social or economic consequences to what I say. If I own a convenience store, but I also am an active anti-Semite, then I cannot complain at the loss of business once my anti-Semitism has been revealed. Certainly Jews would not patronize my business. Others might avoid my goods simply because they are disgusted by my opinions. All of this can happen, and my freedom of speech has not been violated. I am still a free man, free to say what I want.

Similarly, if I own a company, I should be able to refuse or terminate the employment of anyone who spouts what I consider to be filth. It's my company. If you want to say whatever you want, then be prepared to live alone. If my wife asks, "Does this make me look fat?" and I say, "Well, yeah, kinda." I cannot appeal to my freedom of speech. I'm in the doghouse, but I'm not in jail. That's the point. The government should not be able to punish people for their beliefs. As for the general population, you are free to embrace or condemn whomever or whatever you want. But be careful, and pay attention to what your boss thinks.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Don't Take Your Guns to Town

It's inevitable after the VA Tech shootings that the anti-gun lobby would again publicly rear its ugly head. The quotes California democrat and representative Henry Waxman, "I hope the tragedy at Virginia Tech will awaken all of us to look again at easy access to handguns and other weapons that allows people to have them and use them in tragic ways." And the LA Times quotes New York democrat and representative Carolyn McCarthy as having said, "The unfortunate situation in Virginia could have been avoided if congressional leaders stood up to the gun lobby."

As if those who advocate the right to keep and bear arms are somehow responsible for the massacre.

Is it possible that the gun-control lobby might have made this tragedy worse than it could have been? Consider that in 2006, the anti-gun lobby celebrated the defeat of Virginia House Bill 1572, which would have permitted students legally and peacefully to carry legal and licensed firearms for their own defense. University officials actually praised the bill's defeat, suggesting that it would make the campus a lot safer.

However, it is not unreasonable to observe that had students been able and willing to carry weapons, that they could and would have defended themselves against this madman. Instead, the campus was not safer. It was a wide open target for anyone who paid no regard to the rules. Guns were not legally allowed on campus, so only one bent on committing murder had a gun on campus. Thus, the anti-gun lobby made this tragedy possible., of the American Family News Network reports two occasions in the past decade during which civilians legally armed with their own firearms stopped a killing spree.

Nothing can prevent bad people from gaining access to weapons. This is universally true and documented.

The proper way to observe this isn't that because a man got a gun, he killed many people. The truth is that many people were killed by a man because they did not have guns.

Leave it to the police, some say. However, the police can't get to these things in time. Victims can't demand a "Time out!" until law enforcement officials arrive. There is a time span of at least several minutes during which victims are utterly defenseless--because of the anti-gun lobby. They are not protected by anti-gun legislation. They are endangered and too often condemned by it.

In a somewhat related side-note, MSNBC reports today that the 1944 Miss America winner recently defended herself and her property with her own .38. Who would ask this 82 year-old who needs a walker to get around to run, hide, and wait for the police?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ukulele weeps by Jake Shimabukuro

If I asked you to define beautiful, would this help?

By the way, Howlin' Mad Murdock, I'm talking about the music, not the guy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Imus Rant That You Knew Must Come

On my earlier post of about 45 minutes ago, I implied sympathy for Don Imus and antipathy for those leading the witch hunt against him.

I do not deny this.

Imus is a "Shock Jock." That's his job. That's what CBS paid him for, and that's what sponsors sponsored. He's supposed to say things that are "out of line." Imus was not paid to say things that made us smile, nod, and praise. He was paid to shock people with outrageous comments.

Imus is accused of making sexist and racially disparaging remarks. However, don't such remarks fit his job description?

Even without defending what he said, it must be admitted that he said what he was paid to say, and he has the undeniable right to say what he said.

While I respect CBS's right to fire Imus (what else could they do, from a publicity stance?), I also say that doing so was rotten.

Hell, I don't even listen to Imus.

The 24 Blues

I know that I am probably incapable of keeping this promise, but for the moment I vow no longer to attempt predictions as to what will happen on 24.

Ach Mensch!

Blah blah blah

I don't know why, but I haven't been much inspired to write anything lately. Alas, for there have been several topics upon which I could rant up a storm (if you know what Imus mean).

With that said, you might recall my having accused the average person of freaking out over minor things and getting offended at the drop of a hat because such people know how pathetic they are and, since they lack the will-power to be heroes, choose to victims.

With that said, I offer as cases in point Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Sound of Silence

I just read that a magazine called Blenders once ranked Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" as the 42nd worst song ever.

The magazine complained that the song seemed too preachy and self-important, and offered the experience of being lectured by a freshman. "If Frasier Crane were a song, he would sound like this," it commented.

Specifically, the article complained about the lyrics, "Here my words that I might teach you," and editor Craig Marks explained, "Simon and Garfunkel thunder away in voices that suggest they're scowling and wagging their fingers as they sing. The overall experience is like being lectured on the meaning of life by a jumped-up freshman."

I disagree.

Of course the song is preachy, even pretentious. It is meant a rebuke of pop culture, of the kind of civilization that buys prints of Campbell's soup cans and reads magazine's like Blender. Any poet, any person with an eye for beauty and truth, any philosopher who speaks truly can be perceived as wagging a finger. Socrates wagged his finger, as did Moses, Jesus, Luther, Jefferson, Thoreau, Rothbard, King (Martin Luther, Jr.--not Rodney), etc. That's what truth does. It looks at the ignorant and it says, "No, no, no."

That Blender would object is not surprising. Fools dislike it when they are revealed. Craig Marks's comments are reminiscent of those who ridiculed the free man in Socrates's "Allegory of the Cave."

"The Sound of Silence" is a lyrical masterpiece. If it comes across to you as preachy, it's because you know that you're at fault. One with an appreciation what what really constitutes truth cannot help but sympathize with the song's narrator. Wisdom, for all its merits, is a state of loneliness, and Paul Simon captured this perfectly in his lyrics.

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seed while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

In restless dreams I walk alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

"Fools," said I, "you do no know
"Silence like a cancer grows
"Hear my words that I might teach you
"Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the world of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls"
And whispered in the sounds of silence...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Movie Recommendation

Rent Flags of Our Fathers on DVD. Thus far, it is my favorite movie produced in the last year.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ave Appalachia!

Today I played a banjo for the first time.

OK, cut it out. I know exactly what you just thought. The picture was of a slack-jawed, sallow-faced, overall-wearin' hillbilly; and the soundtrack was from Deliverance. Ha ha. Very funny.

I'm serious when I say that the banjo is really a neat instrument. Obviously I wasn't very good. I could pick out some tunes and get the basic melody right. However, when it comes to all the quick finger picking background that makes for good bluegrass stomping, I was pretty bad. Still, I think that I could pick it up fairly well if I had one of my own to practice regularly.

For a while, I'd been thinking that I'd next like to get and learn a mandolin. Now I think I'll have to go with the banjo.

Easter Bunny

It's Easter morning. Why does it have to be so in the morning? Seriously, my kids get up so early to hunt for eggs that I feel like I myself have been dead for three days.

While the kids were hunting for eggs, Natalie surprised me with an argument that could almost have come from Aristotle's Prior Analytics.

At one point during the hunt, I quipped, "Wow, I'm surprised that the Easter Bunny was able to get past Nala, the best rabbit dog in the county!"
"That's because there's no Easter Bunny," she said.
"What do you mean? Who hid these eggs?" I replied.
"You did," she answered. "Besides, an Easter Bunny would have to be magic, and there's no such thing as magic."

I knew that this day would come, but I didn't think it would come so early (she's still just six). At least it's the Easter Bunny and not Santa Claus. I've always thought that the Easter Bunny was the lamest of the holiday figures. Yes, lamer even than the Tooth Fairy.

Friday, April 06, 2007

No Recent Posts

No posts recently, for I have been and still am extremely sick.

I'd say sick as a dog, but, if a dog was this sick, I'd probably shoot it.

Bill of Rights