Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some Spirituals

I've probably posted this song before ("Why Me Lord," by Kris Kristofferson), but it's just the way that I've been feeling lately. All three versions add something that the others haven't. The third one, Elvis's, begins with "Help Me," also by the genius Kris Kristofferson.

For my money, Cash sounds the most desperate.

Maybe you've felt like this before, as I do now for undisclosed reasons.

From Kris Kristofferson:

From Johnny Cash:

And, of course, Elvis:

Here is one of Don Francisco's perfect narratives, and example of what leads me to Kristofferson's question:

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Political Wisdom of the Party Store Guy

I just returned from a party store at which I bought some pop--seriously, it's a work night--, and noticed that the proprietor was distributing some "Stop Unfair Tobacco Taxes" leaflets, upon which were a phone number, web site, and very brief argument against how congress is singling out smokers again.

I took one and asked him if he voted Libertarian. He said that he didn't. I replied that Libertarians wouldn't do what the fascists and socialists...er, republicans and democrats were doing in terms of taxation.

His reply was simple and elegant.

"I don't vote, man," he said, "'cuz I don't believe in that one man, one vote shit."

I nodded.

"Besides," he added, "if they won't listen to reason, then why will they listen to me?"

I nodded and said, "You're right."

I then felt like buying a little something extra to add to my pop, but it is a work night, after all.

Note: It didn't occur to me to ask why in the heck he was distributing political-action materials if he didn't believe in voting. Either he didn't want to engage in a political discussion with me, or he was distributing the materials because his boss told him to do so, or he somehow sees that lobbying is much more powerful than voting.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Empty Void

I never thought that I'd say this, but after all of this media adoration of Obama--he's on the cover of everything except for Hustler--, I really miss Brangelina.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not a Coronation, For Christ's Sake!

Listening to some people talk about Obama's inauguration feels like at noon today, Jesus of Nazareth returned to Earth in order to usher in an eternal period of peace and prosperity.

If only Obama's policies pointed towards that at all. He still figures an alliance with Israel, which means that we can have no peace. His economic recovery plan involves both increasing spending and reducing taxes. While the latter is beneficial, the former is detrimental. As with FDR, we are in for some hard times and for a long while.

Most people who spoke of the inauguration spoke as if it was more of a coronation, as if we were anointing a new king.

And yet, according to the Constitution--which he just swore to uphold--Obama is hardly a king.

According to the Constitution, he is in Commander-in-Chief of the military. He also has the power to make treaties, so long as the Senate approves those treaties. He also has the power to appoint federal judges, including those to the Supreme Court--again, so long as the Senate approves of his appointments. Finally, he has the power to pardon criminals.

That's it.

Read Article II of the Constitution.

If you wish for him to have more powers, then you are no friend of mine, for you recommend unlimited government, and unlimited government is the friend only to tyrants (read your history books).

For God's sake, people, come to your senses. Why should you believe a man who promises you the world when he hasn't the power to deliver it?

Is it because he speaks so eloquently (an assumption with which I, at least, must disagree)?

Is it because he's a minority? Is this grounds for electing a man as president?

Based upon what this man says he intends to do, he is not of the ilk that make for good presidents.

So tell me, why do you support him?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Problems With Education

This may not be the problem with education today, but it is certainly a problem.

Disregarding the kids who see no value in school whatsoever--and contrary to any legislation, these kids cannot be changed--even those who see at least some value in education suffer from two all too common ailments.

First of all, too many students think that "education" amounts to a memorization of facts to be regurgitated on quizzes/tests/exams.

Second of all, too many students think that the purpose of an education is to prepare themselves for careers.

I disagree with both of these all-too-common assumptions.

While the learning of certain facts is essential for education, a good education goes farther to explore epistemological concepts--thinking strategies. For instance, let's say that you wish to teach students more advanced mathematics or grammar.

It is necessary that the students memorized certain formulas or definitions/rules in grammar. However, that is not enough.

They need to be able to take such axioms and apply them.

This is why students have a hard time, say, finding the area of a rectangle. Sure, they might know by heart that they need to figure LxW, but give them a diagram, and tell them to do so. See what happens to at least a third of them.

Similarly, students can easily memorize that direct objects are always nouns or pronouns. They also seem to be able to memorize that a direct object follows an action verb and identifies what receives the action of the verb. However, give them a sentence, and tell them to find the direct object, and far too many of them fail to do so.

Why is this? It's because we live in a culture that embraces the assumption of knowledge, but not the investigations/thinking processes that lead to knowledge.

This explains why so many believe all of the global warming nonsense. They know the "facts" that they've learned (or at least heard and assumed to be facts), and without thinking accept the stated conclusions of the so-called "experts" who stand to profit from their conclusions.

We are in an age when asking questions is more pernicious than just accepting "facts."

We are in an age when Stalin should have been born and thrived.

I see no hope in the up-and-coming inauguration. I see more of the same, if not worse.

Why so? Because I'm a glass half-empty kind?

No, because I'm a thinking kind. We've never before been introduced.

And what's with this idea that all young people can be equally educated? If you've ever met anyone smarter than you--or dumber than you--than you know how ridiculous is our approach to education.

The proponents of universal public education claim that completely private education would neglect many people.

Might these be the same people who fail nonetheless under the system of universal public education?

Politically Incorrect Analysis of a Politically Incorrect Issue by a Politically Incorrect Author

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine, and we were discussing the taboo subject of the vast difference between upper-class (as in educated, professional) black Americans and the difference between lower-class black Americans (and those who would be lower-class if they weren't really awesome at sports).

Playing devil's advocate, I posited this: Is it really any greater of a difference between lower-class and upper-class whites?

Very quickly, I reasoned a strong counter-point.

First, let's look at what the two races' upper-classes have in common--but differ from their lower-class counterparts.

1.) Most obviously, they have better jobs and make more money than the lower-classes.

2.) They are not only educated, they tend to have higher IQ's.

3.) They are less prone to--but not immune from--violent behavior.

There may be others--and you're free to add them via comments--but for the present moment, I find too much gray area in them.

In all respects, race itself is the only major difference between the upper-classes of the two races.

Now let's look at what the two races' lower-classes have in common.

1.) They are poor and have bad (if any) jobs.

2.) They have lower IQs.

3.) They are more likely than others to be convicted of violent crimes.

But what of their differences? What occurred to me during my attempt at Devil's Advocate was their music, and yes, I will be stereotyping here.

Think of your stereotypical, lower-class black dude. What music does he most likely listen to? Rap/Hip-Hop. What are the dominant themes in Rap/Hip-Hop?

1.) Having lots of money, as evidenced by "pimped-out" cars, and "pimped-out" cribs (i.e. homes).

2.) Getting it on with a variety of hoes/bitches (i.e. women).

3.) Violence.

4.) Drug (marijuana, cocaine) abuse.

5.) Hanging with the homies (i.e. friends)

6.) Trouble with the law, but not with women--you just smack and/or leave them.

Now think of your sterotypical, lower-class white dude. What music does he most likely listen to? Country. What are the dominant themes in Country?

1.) Working hard but barely eking out a living.

2.) Drug (alcohol) abuse.

3.) The importance of family and roots.

4.) Non-pimped out cars--usually trucks.

5.) Jesus/God/Christianity.

6.) Trouble with the law or the wife--both of whom can deny or allow conjugal visits.

There are some similarities: trouble with the law; trouble with women; drug abuse; cars.

However, even in the similarities, there are vast differences.

Rap/Hip-Hop glorifies trouble with the law.

Rap/Hip-hop glorifies misogyny (i.e. hatred of women).

Rap/Hip-hop glorifies drug use.

Country songs, on the other hand, tends to support the law--even if the protagonist of the story has run amok of it.

Country songs either lament the loss of a woman (e.g. she left) of praises her virtues.

Country songs treat alcohol abuse as either a problem or an escape. To this, there are exceptions, but not many.

Don't believe me? Sample the lyrics of Eazy-E in "Eazy Duz It" (Parental Advisory!)

(Little Girl Voice) He once was a thug from around the way.Eazy, but you should(Eazy-E Interupts with) Bitch, Shut the fuck up.Get the fuck out of here. Yo Dre give me a funky ass bass line.

(Intro Chorus) What fuck is up? In the place to be.Coming on the mic is Eazy Mothafuckin-E.Dre is on the beat.Yella's on the cut. So listen right close while we rip shit up.(Shit Up echoes while fading.)

Well I'm Eazy-E, I got bitches galore
You may have a lot of bitches but I got much more
Wit my super duper group coming out to shoot
Eazy-E, muthafukas cold knocking the boots
'Cause I'm a hip-hop thugster, I used to be a mugster
If you heard (cash register), you think I own a drugstore
Getting stupid because I know how
And if a sucker talks shit, I give him a (POW)
8 ball sipping, the bitches are flipping
Slow down, I hit a dipping, continue my tripping
Hitting my switches, collect from my bitches
The money that I make so I can add to my riches
Fill my stash box and start rubbing my gat
Feeling good as hell because my pockets are fat
A hardcore villian cold roaming the streets
And wit a homie like Dre just supplying the beats

Because I'm a gansta having fun
Never leave the pad without packing a gun
Hitting hard as fuk, I make you ask what was it
Boy you should have known by now, Eazy duz it

I was knocking muthafukas out
What's your name boy
Funky, fresh Eazy-E
Kick, kick that shit
Where you from fool, Compton, yea

Rolling through the hood, cold tearing shit up
Stick my head out the window and I say what's up
To the niggaz on the corner cold bumping the box
But you know that's an alibi for slanging the rocks
A dice game started so I said what the fuk
So I put my shit in park and had to try my luck
Hard to roll wit my bitch jocking 24-7
Rolled them muthafukas, ate 'em up, hit 11
Got another point, I made a ten a fo'
Was taking niggaz money and was itching for mo'
Laughing in their faces and said you're all making me rich
Till one punk got jealous, cold slap my bitch
He pulled out his gat, I knew he wouldn't last
So I said to myself, homeboy, you better think fast
He shot (gunshots), Then I shot (gunshots)
As you can see, I cold smoked his ass (ha ha)


(Wait a minute, wait a minute, who does it)
Muthafuking Eazy duz it
But how does he do it
Eazy duz it do it eazy
That's what I'm doing
Man whatcha gonna do now

Now I'm a break it down just to tell a little story
Straight out the box from the gangsta category
About a sucker, a sucker muthafuka
He's addicted, he's a smoker but in Compton called a clucker
he used to have a house car and golden rings
But the cooky cooky crack took all those things
he must of been starving 'cause he broke in my house
Caught the nigga on the street and straight took his ass out
Now I wanted for a murder that I had to commit
Yea I went to jail but that wasn't shit
Got to the station about a quarter of nine
Call my bitch to get me out 'cause I was down for mine
The bitch was a trip cold hung up the phone
Now my only phone call was in the ganking zone
All the SHIT I did for her like keeping her rich
I swear when I get out, I'm gonna kill the bitch
Well by now you should know it was just my luck
The baliff of the station was a neighborhood cluck
I looked him straight in the eye and said what's up
And said let's make a deal, you know I'll do you up
Now back on the streets and my records are clean
I creeped on my bitch wit my uzi machine
Went to the house and kicked down the do'
Unloaded like hell, cold smoked the ho


From around the way, born in '73
Harcore B-boy named Eazy-E
It's '88 now, '73's obselete
A nigga wit a serious ass attitude and 100% street
And if you all wanna hear some more
In one way or the other, I'm a bad brother
Word to the muthafuka

Forgive this hack-job video clip, but "Gangsta Rappa's" didn't make music videos and didn't tour.

Now sample lyrics from Kenny Rogers in "The Coward of the County,"--also a song about relationships and violence.

Ev'ryone considered him the coward of the county.
He'd never stood one single time to prove the county wrong.
His mama called him Tommy, the folks just called him yellow,
But something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong.

He was only ten years old when his daddy died in prison.
I took care of Tommy 'cause he was my brother's son.
I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy:
"Son, my life is over, but yours has just begun.

Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
Now it don't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you're old enough to understand:
Son, you don't have to fight to be a man."

There's someone for ev'ryone and Tommy's love was Becky.
In her arms he didn't have to prove he was a man.
One day while he was workin' the Gatlin boys came callin'.
They took turns at Becky.... n' there were three of them!

Tommy opened up the door and saw his Becky cryin'.
The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand.
He reached above the fireplace took down his daddy's picture.
As his tears fell on his daddy's face, I heard these words again:

"Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
Now it don't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you're old enough to understand:
Son, you don't have to fight to be a man."

The Gatlin boys just laughed at him when he walked into the barroom.
One of them got up met him halfway 'cross the floor.
Tommy turned around they said, "Hey look! ol' yellow's leavin'."
But you coulda heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked
the door.

Twenty years of crawlin' was bottled up inside him.
He wasn't holdin' nothin' back; he let 'em have it all.
When Tommy left the barroom not a Gatlin boy was standin'.
He said, "This one's for Becky," as he watched the last one fall.
And I heard him say,

"I promised you, Dad, not to do the things you've done.
I've walked away from trouble when I can.
Now please don't think I'm weak, I couldn't turn the other cheek,
Papa, I sure hope you understand:
Sometimes you gotta fight when you're a man."

Ev'ryone considered him the coward of the county.

See a difference?

Is this difference typical?

Does this difference have implications?

Let's discuss.

Global Cooling Again, Is It?

Just remember, you heard much of this from me first...

Russian scientists and others suggest that a new Ice Age is looming.

Good Question: Is An Ice Age Coming?

Gore's Church Losing Followers

Another article that I read but forgot to keep the URL suggested that Russia's current hard-line stance toward natural gas distribution in Europe is Putin's plan the see Russia control the means of warmth when the cooling sets in.

I don't know if I believe any of it, but it's so damn refreshing to hear something other than how I'm going to destroy the world because I drive a Chevy Trailblazer.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Kids' Toys Rant

Whomever designed how children's toys should be fastened in their packaging should suffer for years in purgatory, if not in Hell. Lucky for those guys, I'm not the one who decides.

Seriously, why in the heck does a Barbie or a Transformer have to be held by more restraints than were used against Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs?

I guess that is a bad example, since Lecter escapes.

Still, you get my point--especially if you have kids between the ages of 1-10.

Down With Hamas AND Israel AND All States; LIke Braveheart I Cry "Freedom!"

I go out on a limb here and note what I am more and more observing is the true root of the majority of this world's violence. Feel free to comment, but I'm feeling pretty good about my conclusions, so be prepared to get ripped upon in my responses...

I am annoyed by the constant ridicule of Hamas for not confronting the Israeli military directly.

Seriously, the a-holes in Hamas are not insane. They know that, in a pitched battle, Israeli forces (also a-holes) will kick the tar out of them. Hamas's only option--in terms of accomplishing its ends--is to hit and run to places where Israel doesn't dare to strike with the force of which it is fully capable.

Let the record show that I support neither Israel nor Hamas--nor the virus of nationalism that inevitably leads to such blood feuds.

Both sides have their arguments. However, both sides have acted in ways so atrocious as to invalidate both of their arguments, morally speaking at least.

It does not have to be that Israel is right and Hamas is wrong, or Israel is wrong and Hamas is right. It can be that both Israel and Hamas are wrong, but they cannot both be right--at least not logically (and if you cannot think logically, then please click on the X in the upper-right corner of your web browser).

When you look at how and why both sides are wrong, the issue always comes to that of a powerful state that can control the lives of those within its borders: Israel wants a Jewish state; Hamas wants a Muslim state.

The real evil isn't the nation of Israel or the nation of Palestine. The real evil is the idea of the nation-state of Israel or the nation-state of Palestine. Without devotion to nationhood, people would cooperate freely in order to get what they want and need. The very idea of nationhood alone has led to countless wars, all of which result in diminishing the prosperity of both sides of the conflict.

Only governments or those hoping to create governments wage war. Left alone, it is in the interests of people to cooperate/trade voluntarily. Therefore, a world without governments is a world without wars.

This is not to say that a world without governments is a perfect world. It's to say that governments make the world worse than it needs to be. Sure, individuals hurt, rob, and shoot each other; and people may die by the hundreds, even thousands under such circumstances

Without governments, the amount of violence would decisively decrease--at least in the United States, where much violence is associated with "The Drug War," which would cease to be waged were there no government. Again, there would still be violence, but it would be less violence.

Consider that in human history, the only way that the number of dead due to violence has ever reached the millions per year is when governments are involved.

For generations, governments have promised to eradicate all forms of evil. They have failed to do so in every respect, but people still turn to governments for solutions.

Of course, that means that people are pretty stupid, which means that democracy--supposedly the safest of all governments--is stupid as well (i.e. a government elected by stupid people must be stupid).

Of all the forms of government tried in the past, say several thousand years, which have really worked? The answer, of course, is none. In the end, all governments manage to tyrannize their subjects.

The trend seems constantly toward more government. This is an inane trend--if you truly wish the best for people, for more government equals less freedom.

For once, why don't we try very little, or even, dare I say, no government.

Hey, argue with Thomas Jefferson before you argue with me. It was the author of the Declaration of Independence who said, "The government that governs least governs best."

Henry David Thoreau perfected Jefferson's sentiment with "The government that governs least governs not at all."

College Sports Suck

I suppose that I understand why the alumni of certain colleges/universities tend to be die-hard fans of those schools' football teams. However, I cannot grasp how so many who didn't even attend the school are so "Yes! the U of ____" or " Yes! ____ State!"

I have two brother-in-laws. One is a huge MSU fan, though he never attended a single class at MSU. The other is a huge UM fan, though he never attended a single class at UM.

I can understand respecting a certain team at a certain time (e.g. this group of guys really plays with heart), but I reject the notion that it's logical to be a non-alumnus fan and still, regardless of everything, stand by that team.

It's different if it's a professional organization. An NFL team is nothing but a business built around the football business.

Colleges are supposed to be based around the academic business. Who give a crap if U of ? has a bad football team? Would that mean that U of ? doesn't offer a good education?

Basically, I hate college sports in general. I especially hate college football because everyone assumes that I must like it since I am both a former football player, current football fan, champion fantasy football owner, and football coach for the past nine years.

Why do I hate college sports?

How about the fact that most of the guys in college football wouldn't have made it into college at all if not for their athletic abilities. Watch the post-game interviews to see what I mean.

Should admission to a college hinge upon athletic ability? Of course not

Nonetheless millions of dollars in scholarships are spent to recruit people based merely upon their athletic ability.

That would be fine, I guess, if colleges were funded privately (i.e. voluntarily--like Hillsdale College). But the big colleges are funded by tax dollars, which are involuntary (just ask Willie Nelson and Wesley Snipes).

Consider that, when you're rooting for a college football team. Much of your tax dollars are spent so that those guys can play--Lord knows that few of them actually study (just watch the post-game interviews), and some of those guys will become rich at your (and my) expense.

What do you get out of it? A shirt, hat, and an oversized foam hand (index finger extended) that you had to buy at ridiculous prices.

Meanwhile, intelligent--but non-athletic--people need to borrow money to attend college (or not even attend college because they cannot even borrow the money).

Ergo, college sports are lame.

P.S.: Sure, you might say that the fun that you get out of watching college sports exceeds the tax dollars that are spent supporting such programs. However, remember that, when you support such things, you're not just saying that your money should go to this school. You're saying that everyone in the state should have to pay for your pleasure.

P.P.S.: If you still support such measures, then you are a thief and a proponent of tyranny.

P.P.S.: Q--Who did I root for in the Rose Bowl? A--The Confederacy.

P.P.P.S.: "Damn"

Dear John Doe: We Recognize your son, John Doe, As a Hero in the War Against Terror...

The army is sorry for sending "John Doe" letters to the families of fallen soldiers. Now that they've apologized for the mishap, I suppose that everything is all right for the families who must know that all would have been well had their sons/husbands/brothers/fathers not been deployed in the first place.

Does "Oops, my bad!" work for a murderer at his sentence?

Can I punch a guy in the face and then excuse myself with a "Sorry, man, I thought that you were someone else"?

Can I crap in my pants and excuse myself with a mere "Damn, you know that I just ate at White Castle, don't you?"

Well, on the latter one, the answer might actually be "Yes." But for the others, c'mon.

I like how the army tries to blame this on a private contractor. Do the families not see the subtext: We so appreciate your son's/husband's/brother's/father's sacrifice that we have paid someone else to write this letter of respect to you, Mrs. John Doe.

The army is a wing of the federal government. It does crap like that described above, and many people would prefer that it took over the health care industry.


Dear Mr. John Doe:
Your wife recently died due to liver failure. While there was indeed a liver available for transplant, we did not have forms B, C, and E submitted in triplicate. Therefore, we could not, under legislative act 13257.8543.2416 approve the transplant.
You can rest assured, John Doe, that the nation appreciates the sacrifice of Jane Doe and your family.
P.S. Don't forget that you owe us a third of your income by April 15--or else.

My One Lament On Alexander Hamilton's Death in 1804

Looking at the state of affairs today, I cannot help but think that the real tragedy of Hamilton and Burr's duel was not that Hamilton died in Weehawken, NJ, of the wound he received in 1804. It's that Burr didn't challenge Hamilton to the duel until 1804.

If Burr had killed Hamilton in, say, 1784, then things today would be far better.

"...Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but for a monarchy bottomed on corruption."
--Thomas Jefferson: Author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, father of the University of Virginia, and third president of the United States of America.

Ron Paul Hits the Nail on the Head

Bob posted this on Free Advice. It is awesome, though it made me a bit sad to once again hear from the man who should have been president.

If you haven't read the Austrian economists of whom Dr. Paul refers, you really need to do so. In my opinion, you should read them in the order in which he mentions them: Mises, Hayek, and finally Rothbard. Hell, while you're at it, check out some Bastiat and Menger.

And also, bar and I went rabbit hunting this past Saturday. I was successful. If he had a blog, then he could not say as much.

If you see him, then ask about when his dogs literally ran over the rabbit's carcass as they continued fruitlessly to follow its scent (minutes after I'd shot it).

How can you shoot a rabbit, you ask? It's easy, just lead them a bit more.

Bill of Rights