Thursday, December 09, 2010
Julian Assange may be a jerk. He may even be a criminal--but something in me is suspicious of the charges because they came at such a convenient time and so demonize him has a man. Nevertheless, his organization, Wikileaks, has showered corrupt and secretive (synonyms, if you ask me) governments with egg. Perhaps we are on the threshold of a new age in which governments cannot wager that the people will buy into their deceits.
Mr. Assange, you may be an ass, but I accept your aid in the war against tyranny, and I hail Wikileaks for its support.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Can I sue for a breach of the so-called "Contract With America"?
Democrats and Republicans think that government is the answer to our problems. Therefore, both parties are equally defunct and, God willing, should be erased from the political spectrum.
Party distinctions are, today, as irrelevant as the northern wing of the Whig party in 1856.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Remember that the prayer taught by Jesus himself says "Thy will be done."
Sometimes that sucks, but you need to figure it out for yourself. I still do not know why my father had to die when I was five, but he did. Praise His grace, I had a wonderful step-father, and most things seemed to work out all right. I don't have to think long and hard to see how my step-father has helped me in life. I do, however, have to think long and hard as to why the same lessons and messages couldn't have been transmitted through my father. I am humble enough (just barely enough) to accept that God's will is superior to mine.
They say that the devil is in the details, but I disagree. If you look close enough with an open mind and an open heart, you can usually find the truth (or something like it) in the details.
Robert E. Lee suggested that the outcome of battles was God's will. This is always true, I suspect, even if the bad guy wins. We are too apt to think short-term and egotistically. We need to learn from our defeats as much as from our victories. Even pulp fictions like Shakespeare's tragedies teach us lessons.
Life is not like a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump asserts. Life is a gift, and like all gifts we best take it and enjoy it for what it is.
Of course I pray that my will be done, but I also acknowledge that I would be more at ease if God's will and my will were one in the same.
They often are not, but it's not God's fault or my fault. It is what it is, and if I cannot see the light it is not because the sun does not shine but because I am still deep in the cave.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Written in clear, unassuming prose, Murphy explains both theory and practice. Unlike other economic texts, it is witty and approachable. You should check it out even if you've never liked economics. Even if you've taken some economics courses, go buy it. If you think that economics is too convoluted and inaccessible to laymen, then this book will change your mind.
Here is the table of contents:
PART I: FOUNDATIONS
1. Thinking Like an Economist . 3
- Thinking Like an Economist 3
- Is Economics a Science? . 5
- The Scope and Boundaries of Economic Science . 5
- Why Study Economics? . 8
2. How We Develop Economic Principles . 13
- Purposeful Action versus Mindless Behavior 13
- The Social versus the Natural Sciences 15
- The Success of the Natural Sciences versus the Social Sciences 17
- How We Develop Basic Economics 22
3. Economic Concepts Implied By Action . 31
- Introduction 31
- Only Individuals Act 32
- Individuals Have Preferences 36
- Preferences Are Subjective 37
- Preferences Are a Ranking, Not a Measurement Using Numbers 39
- Different Individuals’ Preferences Can’t Be Combined . 42
4. “Robinson Crusoe” Economics . 49
- Introduction 49
- Crusoe Creates Goods With His Mind Powers 50
- Consumer Goods versus Producer Goods 52
- Land, Labor, and Capital Goods . 53
- Income, Saving, and Investment . 55
- Goods Are Valued Unit by Unit 59
- Pulling It All Together: What Should Crusoe Do With Himself? . 61
PART II: CAPITALISM: THE MARKET ECONOMY
5. The Institution of Private Property 71
- Society Requires Rules . 71
- Capitalism: This Is Private Property 73
- The Market Economy and Free Enterprise . 74
- 6. Direct Exchange and Barter Prices 81
- Why Do People Trade With Each Other? 81
- Direct Exchange / Barter . 82
- Prices 83
- How Prices Are Formed in Barter . 84
7. Indirect Exchange and the Appearance of Money . 99
- The Limitations of Direct Exchange . 99
- The Advantages of Indirect Exchange . 101
- The Advantages of Money 104
- Who Invented Money? 106
8. The Division of Labor and Specialization 113
- The Division of Labor and Specialization . 113
- Why Specialization Makes Labor More Productive . 115
- Enriching Everyone By Focusing on Comparative Advantage . 117
9. Entrepreneurship and Competition . 125
- Entrepreneurship 125
- Competition Protects Customers 127
- Competition Protects Workers . 128
10. Income, Saving, and Investment 135
- Income, Saving, and Investment . 135
- Investment Increases Future Income 136
- How Saving and Investment Increase An Economy’s Future Output . 141
11. Supply and Demand . 147
- Supply and Demand: The Purpose . 147
- Demand: Its Definition and Its Law . 148
- Supply: Its Definition and Its Law 153
- Using Supply and Demand to Explain the Market Price 155
- Using Supply and Demand to Understand Price Changes .159
12. Interest, Credit, and Debt . 175
- Interest: It’s About Time 175
- Savings, Investment, and Economic Growth . 177
- Common Credit Transactions 180
- The Pros and Cons of Debt . 183
13. Profit and Loss Accounting 191
- Profit and Loss Guide Entrepreneurs . 191
- Interest Versus Profit 193
- The Social Function of Profit and Loss Accounting 195
- The Limits of Profit and Loss Accounting . 199
14. The Stock Market . 205
- The Stock Market 205
- Why Issue Stock? (Debt versus Equity) . 206
- The Social Function of Stock Speculation 209
PART III: SOCIALISM: THE COMMAND ECONOMY
15. The Failures of Socialism—Theory . 221
- The Vision of Pure Socialism 221
- Socialism’s Incentive Problem . 223
- Socialism’s Calculation Problem . 229
16. The Failures of Socialism—History . 239
- Economic Theory and History . 239
- Communism vs. Fascism 241
- Socialism’s Body Count . 242
PART IV: INTERVENTIONISM: THE MIXED ECONOMY
17. Price Controls 255
- The Vision of Interventionism . 255
- Price Ceilings . 256
- Price Floors . 261
18. Sales and Income Taxes 271
- Government Spending 271
- How Government Finances Its Spending . 275
- Sales Taxes 277
- Income Taxes 279
19. Tariffs and Quotas . 287
- Mercantilism 287
- The General Case for Free Trade . 289
- Tariffs . 293
- Import Quotas . 299
20. The Economics of Drug Prohibition 305
- Drug Prohibition . 305
- Drug Prohibition Corrupts Government Officials 307
- Drug Prohibition Fosters Violence 314
- Drug Prohibition Reduces Product Safety 320
- Money Inflation vs. Price Inflation . 325
21. Inflation . 325
- How Governments Make Prices Rise . 329
- The Danger of Government Price Inflation 336
22. Government Debt 345
- Government Deficits and Debt 345
- Government Debt and Inflation 350
- Government Debt and Future Generations 353
23. The Business Cycle 361
- The Business Cycle . 361
- How Governments Cause the Business Cycle . 363
- The Inevitable Bust Following an Artificial Boom 368
- The Causes of Mass Unemployment 369
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
On the bright side, my boys thoroughly whipped a team that ran the score up on us last year. Their only points (two touchdowns, no extra points) came in the fourth quarter when their first string faced our third string.
We scored at will on offense.
Final score: 48-12.
First, I shudder at how easily a Republic can fall to demagoguery.
Second, I wish that we today had someone half as equal: popular, wise, and respectful of the Constitution.
Alas. Now his name is tainted by the city of hypocrites, tyrants, and thieves.
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
--Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson"
Thursday, October 14, 2010
If you legalize any kind of undesirable behavior -- from vagrancy to prostitution to identity theft -- you'll remove the stigma and get more of that behavior.I disagree. First of all, it's not as if access to marijuana is terribly restricted. Ironically, it's easier for kids to buy pot from an illegal vendor (i.e. drug dealer) than it is to buy beer from a legal vendor (i.e. Rajeeth at 7-11--I'm not being racist here. My local 7-11 is owned and operated by a man named Rajeeth. Were it not for my beard and my being a regular customer, he'd card me every time). Illegal vendors don't card their customers. When I was in high school, my buddy Garreth R., no, that's to specific, let's call him G. Ritz, used to hook us up through an old boss who would buy us beer and try to sell us pot at the same time.
Also, it's incorrect to suggest that legalizing something reduces the stigma and leads to greater demand. All legalizing something does is permit those who demand it to trade for it openly. As far as I understand, eating my dog's feces is legal, but there's still plenty of "stigma" attached to doing so. Were it legal to marry my sister, I wouldn't.
What Navarette means is that legalizing something in demand leads to people legally (and thus visibly) consuming it. Such is not the same demand increasing.
Few people who have never tried pot have abstained simply because it is illegal. It is already readily available. The illicit trade is the cause of much violence on the streets and tax-payer burdens in the form of court costs and prison accommodations.
Legal pot stops the violence and tax-payer burden. There is no argument valid to suggest that it will lead to more people smoking pot.
Besides, suppose that pot smoking becomes a bigger problem. Can't its legal status simply be repealed?
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
On top of this, it is football season, and I am again coaching. We won our first game last week, and we've another tomorrow. It occurs to me when I come home that I am no longer in my twenties, and that years of relative non-exercise have taken their toll. I like to run with the kids, even hitting a bit to show how to drive block or deliver a good "pop," but my legs are less responsive and the soreness persists longer than ever.
Add the coming elections, and I fall into despair. The right men and women will either not win or default on their promises. The wars persist. Monetary and fiscal policies are insane. The dollar is in real danger. I'm not an economist, but I see dark clouds on the horizon.
I haven't heard many speak of it, but I think that in addition to rising debt and persistently low interest rates from the Fed, we're looking at petroleum being valued by a currency other than the dollar. This is only a hunch. I've heard it in a few places (though I cannot remember where), but it makes sense. Perhaps Bob can correct me on this, but if petroleum drops the dollar, global demand for the dollar will plummet. Given the unprecedented supply (am I right on this?) of dollars, a rapid drop in demand will be a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions (in the United States, that is).
Someone who knows better than I do on the above subject should chime in and clarify or correct my assumptions.
And my Fantasy Football teams suck.
I am not old, but I am tired.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Ask yourself, from where does the money spent come? If not from taxes now then it is from taxes later or inflation. Taxes later is no better than taxes now, and inflating the currency is bad all around.
But promoting tax cuts wins votes because most voters are stupid. In the end, Democracy screws us all just the same. Men like Ron Paul are the exception. Oh but if we had a few dozen more like him.
"Dr. No" was coined as a pejorative, but it rings like a compliment.
Let's "End the Fed" but not stop there.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Newsflash: It's not government aid. It's welfare. But "welfare" is itself little more than a euphemism for good old fashioned redistribution, the kind promoted by such visionaries as Lenin and Mao.
Before you suggest that Lenin and Mao had ideas that looked good on paper (as most ignorant people state when they describe communism), look at what their ideas brought to this earth: the most repressive, depressive, and aggressive governments ever established. Stalin followed Lenin, and Stalin made Hitler look like Mr. Rogers.
I thought that the 13th Amendment settled the issue of people living off of others' work. Such is called slavery, and the idea that anyone is due another's property without compensation is more akin to slavery than a mere analogy.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are becoming slaves to the state. The U.S. government earns no money. What it pays it takes from its productive people. It does not ask for their productivity. It takes it.
We are becoming a country of slaves. Maybe now you'll read Hayek's The Road to Serfdom.
Read it. Think about the news.
The men and women in Washington are either in on the scam (e.g. Pelosi) or too damn stupid to get it. Dr. Ron Paul may be the only exception. You can infer this merely by how disliked he is amongst his congressional peers.
It's nearing time to side not with he who promises to fix the system but with he who promises to bring down the system.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
FYI: He's a smart son of a gun, so if he becomes a frequent reader and commenter, this site will only get better!
The defenders of Islam need to step up right now and repudiate its archaic traditions. A woman is not a man's property, and her fidelity should not be a matter of the state's concern.
Either Islam is peaceful and its many followers are wrong, or it is not peaceful and every word about it's supposedly peaceful message is a load of crap.
I'm sick of hearing how the religion is distorted by a radical few while pretty much every country dominated by Muslims is repressive of the most basic human rights.
If I'm wrong, then I invite opposition. If I'm not wrong, then you must accept my conclusion that Islam is not a peaceful religion.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
As long as we've got Hasselhoff, we don't have to worry.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
In modern times, we simply know that slavery is wrong. Few, however, can express why.
In a nutshell: The institution of slavery was an established system of legally sanctioned inequality. When you take another man's liberty, you take his life. When you make a man your property, his property is made yours. Therefore, slavery violates the sacred principles that established this republic: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Those who defended slavery from its critics appealed not to what slavery did to enslaved men and women, but to the "benefits" of slavery--race control, and the economic health of slave owners. If slavery were abolished, then blacks could roam the country freely! If slavery were abolished, then much of the South's economic capital would simply vanish into thin air!
These concerns were real. There is no doubting that slavery both kept blacks under control and propped up the South's economy. White men and women throughout the country feared the social equality that might follow black mobility, and economic interests in the South (e.g. planters) and the North (e.g. textile mills) relied upon slave labor. Ending slavery would set blacks free and threaten the cotton supply. Of this there is no disputing.
Nonetheless, slavery was wrong, and there's no appealing to the inconvenience of abolition. Abolition hurt many, but slavery hurt more and deeper.
The same is true with abortion. If abortion is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. Abortion stops a heartbeat. It kills. There is no denying it. Saying that a fetus is not a person is as feeble an argument as saying that blacks are not persons.
The abolition of abortion will be inconvenient to many. It will put some women in uncomfortable positions. It will be costly to some women, families, and the state (which will certainly be called upon to care for unwanted babies).
But it doesn't matter.
Abolishing slavery ruined the planter class, but we are better as a people for it. No man has the right to build his wealth in such a way. Abolishing abortion will also have its costs, but they are worth it. No one has the right to kill another person simply because that person is an inconvenience.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
In Iraq, a country with about the same population as Venezuela, there were 4,644 civilian deaths from violence in 2009, according to Iraq Body Count; in Venezuela that year, the number of murders climbed above 16,000.
...the climb in homicides in the past decade as unprecedented in Venezuelan history; the number of homicides last year was more than three times higher than when Mr. Chávez was elected in 1998.
Venezuela is struggling with a decade-long surge in homicides, with about 118,541 since President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999.
So you're more than three times more likely to die violently in Venezuela (a country at "peace" but suffering under a socialist dictatorship) than in Iraq. Did you catch that? It's safer to live in Baghdad than in Caracas.
This is not unprecedented. More Russian's died from Stalin and Marxism than from Hitler's war machine (and the wermacht killed 20,000,000!). In China, Mao has a similar record of killing more of his people than the Japanese did during WWII, and all in the name of progress.
The list goes on, and the lesson is clear. Socialism is deadly--often deadlier even than war.
Monday, August 23, 2010
What caused the St. Valentine's Day Massacre? It wasn't alcohol. It was prohibition.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
BTW, I've a bit of time to make this decision. I'm owed some money, but it doesn't look like it's coming in any time soon.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Saturday, August 14, 2010
It's past midnight, and I'm sleepless. I tried a couple glasses of scotch--good 15 year Glenfiddich--,but I am wide awake.
Perhaps it's because I have no work tomorrow. I often have trouble sleeping when that is the case.
More likely, it's something else, and that something else is so personal that I cannot now (if ever) put it properly into words. I'm near Coos Bay, Oregon, the city of my birth and earliest years. My memories of the place are few--headless turkeys (don't ask), sand dunes, family friends, a small house, Shakey's Pizza.
In this region I was born, and though I have no affinity for the logging business, I am nonetheless drawn to it. I'd say that there's something "spiritual" about it, but that would sound (and be) utterly stupid.
What draws me to this place, I think, is that it was here that my father brought my mother to lay root and make a life. This he started to do and would have done if he hadn't become sick with cancer and died before my sixth birthday.
Say what you want, Freudians. I like cigars too.
Maybe I'll post something in the next couple of days, but more likely I won't. It's not like I have been overwhelmed by comments to my previous posts.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
What follows is a brief--excruciatingly brief--look at how the English language has borrowed from other languages. I will conclude, however, with a look at a particular error in usage--an error based upon etymological ignorance.
The ancient Greek contribution is most plain in many of our medical and scientific terms, words as photograph--literally "light painting" or "light writing" --hemophiliac--literally "blood lover" ). All of our phobias (e.g., agoraphobia--"fear of public places") are ancient Greek, as are our --ologies (e.g., psychology--"logic or study of the mind").
Latin is similarly important to medicine and science. Ars medicina is the "art of healing," and science, from scientia, literally means "knowledge." Latin is also the language of the law. If you're ever arrested, you will thank the framers of our Constitution for ensuring the writ of habeus corpus--writing (i.e. court order) to show "that you have the body [the subject person under detention]"--otherwise you can be kept imprisoned indefinitely without a trial. The abbreviations i.e. and e.g., which I use frequently, are from Latin.
Both ancient Greek and Latin show up in regular words: hydration, democracy, and hypocrite (to name only a few) are Greek; dictator, aquatic, automatic, benefit even et cetera are Latin. Even new forms of expression base themselves often in these ancient languages, especially modern additions owing to technical advances (who used the word "text"--a word formed from the Latin noun textus-- as a verb twenty years ago?).
French and Germanic influences are everywhere. Most every day English words come from the period dating from when the Norman French conquered the Anglo-Saxons of England and imposed their (Latin based) language.
I live in a house. My wife's Austrian relatives, who obviously speak German, live in a haus. French is so closely tied to English that I use French phrases without even thinking about it: (e.g., bon appétit, à la carte, c'est la vie). Many of our Latin words came to us through French variations. I say cathedral, and Pierre says cathédrale. Both of us mean "large church." Cicero, however, used the word cathedra for "seat," and this is where our French-based usage derives, for Ecclesiastical Latin adopted cathedra to identify a bishop's "seat." Of course English isn't the only language to borrow. The Latin cathedra is from the Ancient Greek kathedra (καθέδρα).
I bid farewell by saying "Goodbye," a variation of the Middle English "God be with ye." God from the Germanic Gott. Be may be related to the Germanic sie--I say may be because I don't know it as a fact. With obviously comes from the Germanic mitt, and ye--or you--from the German du.
So an English-speaker says "Goodbye," meaning "God be with you,"which translates directly into the German Gott sie mit dir. Dir is the object form of the subject du, but in English you stays the same in its subject and object forms. If the German did similarly, "God be with you" would translate into "Gott sie mitt du." This common English expression is clearly Germanic in origin.
But what strikes me by our expression "Goodbye"--rooted in "God be with you," is that almost the exact same expression is used to say farewell in Spanish and French--both of which are most influenced by Latin.
Many of our words and phrases are not just verbally borrowed in the sense of similar words, but even our idioms cross over.
I say "God be with you," but Juan says "Adios"--to God--and Jean Claude Van Damme says "Adieu" (just before he knocks me out with a round-house--or is that roundhaus?).
Most of our Spanish words originated in Latin. Nonetheless, there's some cross over with German (I presume due to the Gothic invasions/settlements). Guerrilla means "little war," which we use with a bit of redundancy in "Guerrilla war" ("Little war-war"?). The Spanish Guerra (don't pronounce the "G"), meaning "war," is from the High German werra or middle Dutch warre.
The Latin influence is similar in Italian. If you've been classically trained to play an instrument, then you know more than a few Italian words and expressions.
From Hebrew we have amen, hallelujah, and other religious terms.
Yiddish, a fusion of languages including German and Hebrew, gives us schmuck, schlemiel, schlimazel (but not Hasenpfeffer Incorporated).
Even non-Western languages have found places in our speech. If I'm watching a football game, and I note that number 82 rammed into the receive team's wedge as a kamikaze, I've used a Japanese word. Kamikaze means "divine wind," but it was the title applied to Japanese pilots who sacrificed their lives by crashing bomb-laden planes into American ships. In English, we use the word kamikaze in the latter, historical but non-literal sense.
And it is in this regard that I finally make my point. Using kamikaze in a way that ignores a personal disregard for one's safety is not appropriate. In the football example, my use of the word kamikaze is hyperbolic. While number 82 may indeed have been risking his health, he was neither homicidal nor suicidal. It's a fine line I'm walking when I make such exaggerations, for I run the risk of diluting an otherwise strong and specific word.
What's next? I remark that Jeff Gordon win races because he drives like a kamikaze? I use kamikaze to describe my dog chasing a rabbit?
Before long, the word becomes merely a synonym for reckless or recklessly. Later still, it may simply be another way of saying quick or quickly.
This is exactly what happened to the word awesome, a word that we use nowadays interchangeably with cool or great and the like. Nonetheless, the word is rooted in awe, which means to overwhelm with reverence and dread. To awe is to inspire respect and fear. It's not simply an exaggerated word meaning "impress." We stand in awe of God because God is awesome. In one word, awesome, we confess that God is great and fearsome--to the extent that we have no further modifiers. Something is awesome when it is so magnificent, so wonderful, so great that no words or descriptions suffice.Similarly, something is awful when no other word or words will adequately describe its iniquity or foulness.
Yet the last time you used awesome, you probably meant hardly more than "really neat."
That's what happens to words and language when people do not use them properly. We think in words. Your reactions to these stated opinions are now forming themselves into words, and you can hear those words in your mind. Maybe you've even muttered a few under your breath. Therefore, whatever weakens the language weakens our ability to think. As our words mean less, so do our thoughts.
When you see a person butchering the language, know that he is butchering your ability to think abstractly. He is engaged actively in a quest to reduce us to a lower order of animal.
Then again, I'm most likely not being fair. If all you've ever heard is a bastardization of a word, then how can I blame you for it? Well, you're reading this, so now you know. Our words have meaning, and sometimes those meanings reach far back into history. Knowing this, you must be careful.
Recently, an article in the Detroit Free Press misused the word "enormity."
Regarding Hansen Clarke's victory over Carolyn "Cheeks" Kilpatrick, a supposedly literate and educated journalist wrote,
Twelve hours after a stunning upset of incumbent U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, a weary and emotional Hansen Clarke began to feel the enormity of what he accomplished Tuesday. [emphasis added]
Above, the author uses "enormity" to express the importance (or enormousness) of Clark's election: "a weary and emotional Hansen Clarke began to feel the enormity of what he accomplished."
Enormity, however, means "profound wickedness." It is not rooted in enormous, and should not be used to express magnitude; rather it is related to normitivity (relating to standards or morals) it's Latin original enormitatem, meaning "a divergence from standards (i.e. morals)."
I do not think that the author means to say that what Clarke has done is wicked, so it should be revised to "the enormousness of what he accomplished" or "the magnitude of what he accomplished."
But it won't be revised. Most people will think that I'm merely a whiner. I knew what the author meant, so I should just leave it at that, right?
For those who hold that opinion, I have a pair of words. And although they're based on German words, most people preface them with "Pardon my French."
Monday, August 02, 2010
It's as if they expect the average dimwit simply to accept their view of the world. Thank God neither American conservatives nor liberals rely upon such sources...
All I've learned from anti-Semitic websites is that anti-Semites are either semi-literate or flat our liars.
Footnotes are good. They prove research and support argument.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Similarly (well, only kinda, but still), the Obama administration recently sacked a USDA bigwig for confessing that she had discriminated against white farmers. It seems to me that this is a bit more complicated than it initially seems.
However, it's this comment that she makes in her defense that bugs me:
I was telling the story of how working with him helped me to see the issue is not about race," she said. "It's about those who have versus those who do not have.
Am I missing something, or is she defending herself by saying that she's not racist anymore because now she's a Marxist?
"Don't shoot--I'm Che!"
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
To wit, the Post Office is in trouble. While private delivery companies like FedEx and UPS make profits, the USPS is constantly in the red.
So the feds pull out the big brains. More likely than not, within the next year or so, you'll see an end to Saturday deliveries from the U.S. postal service. That's great. Demand for your service goes down, so make your service even worse than before.
Also, be on the watch for price increases. While every private company in the world understands that higher prices lead to a decrease in demand, the federal government plans on increasing its prices in order to make up for the loss of demand. That higher prices will lead to even less demand has not occurred to them.
Barack Obama: Your apostles say you are a genius, and yet you cannot read the writing on the wall. You are the epitome of the blind leading the blind.
At least Ray Charles could carry a damn tune.
Is she ruining her life? Sure. Is she a dangerous element who needs to be locked up? No.
Monday, July 05, 2010
To wit, the lazy man will write, "He ran quickly down the hall."
While there's nothing innately wrong with the adverb quickly--it has it's time and place--, it's being used here simply to modify a very plain verb: run. Why not scrap the plain verb in favor of a dynamic one?
"He sprinted down the hall."
Not only is sprinted a vivid verb that needs no modification, its usage conveys the same idea and image as ran quickly--and it does so in one less word.
Creating the same image and impact in fewer words is now among my goals, and it should be among yours. Never compromise clarity for brevity, but if you can say it as well simpler, then go simpler.
I have adopted--at least I am trying to adopt--this advice from Stephen King, who recommends it in On Writing. By King's suggestion, I picked up a copy of Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White. Strunk and White make the same case. I recommend both books to anyone who loves to write and who wants to write better.
Sunday, July 04, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Really? Is the injection of poisons that first paralyze the muscles (so that they cannot writhe in pain) and second arrest the respiratory and circulatory systems so much more humane?
How "painless" would lethal injection appear if the first poisons did not render the victim's muscles immobile?
I'm not trying to excuse execution by firing squad. I'm trying to refute the notion that there is any way to murder a man humanely.
How is the lawful execution of a convicted murderer inhumane?
The answer is simple. The only moral excuse for intentionally killing another man is out of self-defense or the defense of another innocent party.
By the time that the state carries out capital punishment, there is no threat to anyone. The bad guy is in custody and under wraps.
Justifying the execution on the grounds that the bad guy might escape would similarly justify me killing anyone on the street because anyone might at anytime might decide to kill me.
That dude in the suit might have had a gun that he might have drawn and fired at me.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
msnbc's headline and article "Paul admits political slip in civil rights remarks: Kentucky Republican Senate hopeful faces storm after questioning '64 law" (when did journalists stop capitalizing words in titles?) immediately implies (by the headline) that Paul spoke out against the act, but manages to make him look like a politician desperately trying to backtrack by opening the article with
In the wake of Rand Paul’s comments on MSNBC’s "Rachel Maddow Show" Wednesday night questioning provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Kentucky Republican Senate nominee said Thursday he supported the law and would not favor its repeal.So what exactly did Paul say? According to the same article:
In his 15-minute interview with Maddow, Paul repeatedly declined or sidestepped opportunities to endorse the provisions of the 1964 law which require hotels, restaurants, and other businesses to accept all customers without discriminating on the basis of race or ethnicity.
He repeated several times that he opposes racial discrimination. “I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form, I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race,” he said. At the end of the interview, Paul added, “I don’t believe that any private property (owner) should discriminate either.”
But he did not say whether he supported using federal law to enforce non-discrimination in privately owned businesses. He said “had I been around” in 1964 “I would have tried to modify that.”
He also said the debate over the civil right law’s limits on rights of private property owners “is still a valid discussion.”
So Paul repeatedly condemns racial discrimination, but he's obviously for repealing the Civil Right Act because "he did not say whether he supported using federal law to enforce non-discrimination in privately owned businesses" because he is wary of limiting property owners' rights?
He's for repealing the act because he did not say that he loved it? Or is it because he said that he "would have tried to modify" it? Since when does "modify" mean abolish?
Left out of the msnbc interview is this clarifying excerpt from the interview:
I`m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race," Paul responded. "What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that`s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn`t mean we approve of it. [source]
And yet the media is posting headlines like this gem from theAssociated Press "Ky. Senate candidate questions Civil Rights Act"
Or this one from dallasvoice.com "Rand Paul would turn back civil rights."
What's so ridiculous is that the media doesn't (because it can't) assail Paul for his opinions on race and racial discrimination. It attacks him for having a consistent belief in freedom, property rights, and federalism/limited government.
The real lesson is this: If you think that we've got too much freedom, that property rights are old hat, and that the federal government isn't strong or intrusive enough, then Rand Paul is certainly your enemy.
Even if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were to be repealed, which companies do you think would revive Jim Crow style policies?
Monday, May 17, 2010
Here I abridge things a bit, make a few of my own points and ask a few questions:
According to U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, "In the grand scheme, it [the drug war] has not been successful. Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified."
Taking exception, former drug czar John P. Walters said:
To say that all the things that have been done in the war on drugs haven't made any difference is ridiculous. It destroys everything we've done. It's saying all the people involved in law enforcement, treatment and prevention have been wasting their time. It's saying all these people's work is misguided.So what really bothers Walters is simply admitting failure. That's about it. Let's continue spending billions each year, and let's sacrifice thousands of more lives each year. Just don't you dare ask us to admit that we failed to accomplish our objectives!
When President Nixon first declared a "War on Drugs" he spent $100 million. Under Obama's administration, the federal government will spend in excess of $15.1 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that amounts to 31 times more spending. So let's ask a couple of important questions: Is drug use down 31 times? Is there 31 times less violence? Are we 31 times better off in any way?
Of course we aren't. So what are we getting for our money?
The rest of the article discusses how Obama pays lip service to treating drug use as a public health issue rather than a criminal one, but it points out that he's spending twice as much on the criminal justice side.
Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs [Insert sarcasm-laden gasp]. In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:
- $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico - and the violence along with it.
- $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
- $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
- $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
- $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
At the same time, drug abuse is costing the nation in other ways. The Justice Department estimates the consequences of drug abuse - "an overburdened justice system, a strained health care system, lost productivity, and environmental destruction" - cost the United States $215 billion a year.
Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron says the only sure thing taxpayers get for more spending on police and soldiers is more homicides.
"Current policy is not having an effect of reducing drug use," Miron said, "but it's costing the public a fortune."
Oh, and it ends with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano suggesting the equivalent to drug use is just so bad that we just have to do something!
Even if something doesn't work and costs an awful lot in money and lives lost?
I guess so.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I get that childhood obesity has increased, but it's not a damn epidemic. Such hyperbole is disingenuous and downright annoying--almost as pernicious as inappropriate use of the word "like."
Seriously, there's like an epidemic of misnomers here, and I'm like so tired of it. Seriously.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Sunday, May 09, 2010
In a supposed attempt to reduce the achievement gap between black and white students, Mike Madison, principal of an Ann Arbor elementary school, arranged a special field trip in which some kids met with and listened to a presentation from a successful African-American rocket scientist.
And how might this reduce the achievement gap between black and white students? That's easy. Madison (himself an African-American) reasoned that this would get kids more interested in math and science, so he decided to exclude all white students from the field trip.
That's right. He hoped that black scores would go up and white scores would either go down, stay the same, or at least not go up as much. How else do you reduce the gap?
Of course, that's not Madison's stated reason. According to him, "[I]t gave the [black] kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible for even them."
But why forbid white students from attending? If all students had been in attendance, the black students will still have seen a successful black man. Every benefit cited by Madison would have still been valid. The only difference is that white students would have benefited too.
There can be no reason for excluding the white students other than that the principal did not want them to benefit from the field trip.
Assailed by parents, Madison rose to his own defense, saying
The intent of our field trip was not to segregate or exclude students as has been reported, but rather to address the societal issues, roadblocks and challenges that our African American children will face as they pursue a successful academic education here in our community.
And yet he sought to accomplish this intent by segregating and excluding students. He basically said to black students, "You are black, so you get to go." And to white students, "You are white, so you do not get to go."
If you have trouble seeing the blatant racism at play in this scenario, try reversing the races. Imagine a white principal arranging an enrichment activity that he hoped desperately would lead to measurable improvement in achievement scores. Now imagine that white principal arranging the activity for white students only. If it helps you to picture it in the South back in the 1950s-60s, then go ahead. Also, while you're at it, imagine the principal's defenders dressed in white sheets.
Just remember that this crap is happening in Michigan as we speak, and it's promoters wear shirts and ties and vote democrat.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
"What troubles me is when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad . . . For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us."
Bullshit, Mr. Obama, Bullshit. If it was, then my taxes would be lower.
I am not your government, nor am I a part of it, or is it a part of me. I merely endure this government.
By the way, Mr. Obama: don't use the object pronoun "us" as a predicate noun. You would never say "Us is government."
Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
The headline reads Iran "Strives" for a Nuke Free World.
Yeah, maybe, but definitely not until its desire for an Israel Free World policy is complete.
C'mon, Iran. Seriously, who in the heck do think is going to buy this? Do you take us for morons, as if we're the kind of people who will hear and believe any given line of BS (e.g. Obamacare will decrease costs and improve health care; Iraq had weapons of mass-destruction; it's the Internal Revenue Service; Scientology is a religion; etc)?
On second thought, well played, Iran. Well played.
Cartoon posted from here.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
But that's it. Everything else is kosher, right? We're good. Seriously, you can trust us.
So what have they really learned? Nothing. They knew that this garbage was false all along, and only now admit it because they have to do so. Do not expect a mea culpa. They don't think that you deserve one. They think that you're an idiot, and they're your knights in shining armor.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Instead, as if by slight of hand, the feds make many grateful for this time of year: the season of the tax refund. As if it was some kind of gift and not your own damn money being returned because the grubbers took to much.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Here's how a former Confederate officer, Gen. John Gordon, framed the debate:
During the entire life of the Republic the respective rights and powers of the States and general government had furnished a question for endless controversy. In process of time this controversy assumed a somewhat sectional phase. The dominating thought of the North and of the South may be summarized in a few sentences.Or from the Virginian, Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter:
The South maintained with the depth of religious conviction that the Union formed under the Constitution was a Union of consent and not of force; that the original States were not the creatures but the creators of the Union; that these States had gained their independence, their freedom, and their sovereignty from the mother country, and had not surrendered these on entering the Union; that by the express terms of the Constitution all rights and powers not delegated were reserved to the States; and the South challenged the North to find one trace of authority in that Constitution for invading and coercing a sovereign State.
The North, on the other hand, maintained with the utmost confidence in the correctness of her position that the Union formed under the Constitution was intended to be perpetual; that sovereignty was a unit and could not be divided; that whether or not there was any express power granted in the Constitution for invading a State, the right of self-preservation was inherent in all governments; that the life of the Union was essential to the life of liberty; or, in the words of Webster, "liberty and union are one and inseparable."
When this Union was originally formed, the United States embraced too many degrees of latitude and longitude, and too many varieties of climate and production, to make it practicable to establish and administer justly one common government which should take charge of all the interests of society. To the wise men who were entrusted with the formation of that union and common government, it was obvious enough that each separate society should be entrusted with the management of its own peculiar interests, and that the united government should take charge only of those interests which were common and general. To enforce this necessary distinction, it was provided that all powers, not specially granted, should be reserved to the people and the States, and a list of the granted powers was carefully and specifically made. But two parties soon arose in regard to these limitations. Those who wielded the powers thus granted became interested to remove these limitations as far as possible, whilst the minority, who belonged to the governed rather than the governing party, early learned to regard these limitations as the best and surest defences against the abuses and oppressions of a despotic majority. . . .Yep, sounds to me exactly like bin Laden and the ilk.
The contest between the two sections over the limitations in the constitution upon the governing party under it began with the commencement of its history, and ended only, as I shall presently show, with the revolution which destroyed the old form and established the despotism of a majority of numbers. It is in the history of this context we must look for the true causes of the war, and the use made of the victory by the winning party will show the object and nature of that contest. When it became obvious that the only protection of the rights of the minority against the encroachments of the majority was to be found in the limitations upon the power of the governing party, a death struggle arose between the two parties over the constitutional restraints upon this power. The struggle between the two parties commenced at the beginning of the government. These were respectively led by Hamilton and Jefferson, the one with an avowed preference for monarchy, the other the great apostle of democracy, men of signal abilities, and each conscious of what would be the consequence of complete and perfect victory on either side. The party of power showed a constant tendency to draw all important subjects of jurisdiction within the vortex of Federal control, and an equally persevering effort on the other to limit that control to the strict necessities of a common government.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
But when a friend of mine decided to forward me this article--one of the worst (as in dumbest) interpretations/analyses of the Civil War--he had to know that it would get my goat. Way to go, Dan.
The author's thesis is that the secessionist movement in the South was pretty much the same as militant Islam today, and the Confederacy as an organization was akin to Al Quaeda.
The argument is one based entirely on analogy with such gems as
When you make the argument that the South was angry with the North for "invading" its "homeland," Osama bin Laden has said the same about U.S. soldiers being on Arab soil.I guess this means that any people who resist an aggressive neighbor's unprovoked invasion are as vile as Al Queda.
Charles De Gaulle and the Free French resistance? They were a bunch of religious fanatics who unjustly opposed Nazi occupation.
Metacomet, Pontiac, Tecumseh, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse--they had no reason whatsoever to resist the invasion of their homeland.
But the author is not being merely hyperbolic. "Same language; same cause; same effect," he says.
If a Confederate soldier was merely doing his job in defending his homeland, honor and heritage, what are we to say about young Muslim radicals who say the exact same thing as their rationale for strapping bombs on their bodies and blowing up cafes and buildings?Did you catch that? The author actually claimed that Confederates and Al Quaeda's terrorists "say the exact same thing as their rationale." His exact words include "say the exact same thing." Remember Pickett's speech just before the charge at Gettysburg: "Up men, and to your posts. And let none of you forget that you are humble servants of Allah!"
The only analogy that can honestly be built here is that both Confederates and Muslim terrorists who have committed atrocities had grievances. This does not make them one and the same.
And then there's this bit of absurdity:
Just as radical Muslims have a warped sense of religion, Confederate supporters have a delusional view of what is honorable. The terrorists are willing to kill their own to prove their point, and the Confederates were just as willing in the Civil War to take up arms against their fellow Americans to justify their point.
This whole article is worse than an exaggeration. It is one of the most dishonest analogies that I have ever seen a serious so-called journalist make. If you want to know the Confederate rationale, take a look at each Confederate State's Declaration of Secession. You'll find that they are remarkably like the United States' Declaration of Independence. You know, the document written by Thomas "Osama bin" Jefferson.
Confederate soldiers were not taking arms against their fellow Americans to justify their point. Confederate soldiers were taking arms against an aggressive foreign power that was hell bent on conquest. In this respect they were (if we want to draw an analogy) most like the colonists who, under Yassir Washington, seceded from and fought Great Britain.
Reading this article from CNN.com makes me angry, baffled, and sad. Then again, it is CNN. Perhaps they're so desperate for ratings that they really are unabashedly "jumping the shark."
Next week on CNN.com: Parents who insist on good hygiene for their children are like Nazis.
(Hint: Both forced reluctant people into the showers).
Friday, April 09, 2010
However, the historian in me reminds me that running the bad guys out doesn't always bring the good guys in.
Russia traded an inept Tsar for a sociopathic Bolshevik (yeah, I thought about it, but "sociopathic socialist" didn't seem right--especially to my readers whose inner voice has a lisp).
Germany traded a pathetic Wiemar regime for Hitler's Third Reich.
Adios, Batista; hola Castro.
See you later, Friends. Welcome, Joey.
Yeah, I just have this nagging suspicion that after the elections in November we'll be reminded again of the old adage: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Monday, April 05, 2010
It has no single issue around which people rally. It has no clear leader who drives the organization's message, motivates followers and raises money. Indeed, the hundreds of tea party chapters and tens of thousands of its activists cannot agree on the most basic strategic goal: whether to influence the current political system or dismantle it.Kinda reminds me of those fellows most active in Boston, say in the early 1700s.
Later in the article:
"Lot of noise," says one senior Republican consultant, "no muscle." But plenty of ability to make a scene: The consultant, who is directly involved in plotting the party's Senate elections strategy, insisted his name not be attached to that quote, concerned about alienating activists. [Can you believe this last part? What a douche!]Lot of noise? Like that group--what the hell was its name? It had those James Otis, Sam Adams, and Paul Revere dudes... The Sons of Liberty. That's right.
Sure, they never did anything of importance.
Now I'm not saying that the Tea Party movement is in fact going to bring about real change. What I'm hoping to point out is how dismissive the press and politicos are of anyone who questions the status quo.
And when the Tea Party does cohere around a firm set of principles and center around a leader, I think that I can guess what the politicos will say then:
"The die is cast."
Saturday, April 03, 2010
In Season One's finale, Caesar dies like a dog, stabbed to death by Senators whom he thought he controlled.
Yes, there was once a time when a republic guarded itself against usurpation.
Monday, March 29, 2010
Ask yourself if Prohibition solved the problem of alcohol consumption. Ask yourselve if the New Deal solved the problem of the business cycle. Ask yourself if the Great Society solved the problem of poverty.
Indeed, every one of these government intrusions made the problems worse.
And yet you somehow think that the government will fix healthcare?
You're a moron.
Clinton did it in the freakin' Oval Office. Is this an excuse? No, it's an indictment on both parties.
They stand for nothing except themselves. Do not trust them with anything.
Any other bombshells for us, like Tiger Woods really likes sex? Or Isaac Newton's pretty sure about gravity? Or Scientologists are morons? Or Obama will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year of taking office?
My bad. I retract that last one.
An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man's mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut. He can say nothing to the purpose.
--In The Abolition of Man.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Destroy the system.
There's a time for junking cars, and if this government was a car then it would be an Edsel.
If you want to call me a traitor or a bad man, then be sure to dispose of anything depicting Washington's, Franklin's, or Jefferson's image.
I can't stand the kind of idiots who think that it is an American's duty to stand behind his government no matter what.
That's such an un-American notion that it nearly makes me sick.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Socialism is theft, and more people have been killed directly and indirectly by socialism than by HIV.
And yet no one speaks to the social justice of AIDS.
It's almost possible (but not quite) to forgive the ignorant for their support of the socialistic measures of the Obama administration. However, the educated who know better--including Obama himself--cannot, must not be forgiven. They are the vilest sort who peddle in evil for their own benefit.
They are a blight, nay a curse upon us.
The worst of it is that when the piper comes for his due, it is our children--not the men and women responsible for the debt--who must pay him.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
However, when you age, you realize that the formerly awesome ones are mere mortals much the same as you--petty in some respects and overall vulnerable to the evils that afflict mankind.
For this reason, I do not hate those who would presume to deny me my patrimony. However, I will fight them.
And they must know this before the next stage.
I will not deny my origins or my birthright. I will not bow down because at one time you were greater than I.
The idiot who told you that I would be docile and accept a perverse interpretation of the law is exactly an idiot. I am my father's son, his legacy, and I will stand tall as such.
I will have what is mine and leave you with what is yours.
Be careful with how you proceed, or I will have that as well.
Nemo me impune lacessit.
And yet, I wish with every fiber of my body that this cup should pass.
However, I will not surrender simply because I prefer peace. The peace to come will either be the peace of all served justly or Kant's peace of the graveyard (metaphorically, of course).
Monday, March 22, 2010
Try Jeremiah Johnson. It's superbly acted. Perfectly written. Expertly shot. One of the few films ever made with out a scene missing or a moment that you could do without.
It was better than Avatar.
It was better than The Blind Side.
It was better than District 9.
But as for Best Picture? The protagonist is a worn out character type in a conflict overdone to boot.
It's well enough acted, written, and shot. However, it's uninspiring, unenlightening, and nothing that we haven't seen before.
If The Hurt Locker is the best that Hollywood can do, then I'm ready to surrender my Netflix subscription for good old AMC.
Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, et alia knew it.
Thoreau, Brown, Gandhi, and King knew it.
Ubi sunt? Where are they now?
I feel abandoned and alone, like a man lost in the desert searching for water, pleading for rain, but dying in the sand despite my efforts.
None are ignored faster or shunned more vigorously than those who speak even a kernel of the truth. Plato saw it in his Allegory of the Cave. Thoreau observed it in "Civil Disobedience."
The only innocent man since Adam before the Fall--and no less than the Son of God Himself--was nailed to a dogwood cross and left to die amongst thieves.
Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, et alia were pronounced traitors and faced certain death in defeat. It was Franklin who, upon the signing of the Declaration of Independence, said something close to "Now we must hang together, or assuredly we will hang separately."
A man who spoke of peace and justice was murdered at a motel in Memphis.
And yet Jesus, while he wished that the cup might pass him over, stood and accepted his fate for the good that it would bring mankind.
And yet Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams signed the Declaration of Independence; and Washington led a ragtag, underfunded, under-equipped, and under-trained army in opposition to the world's most powerful military.
And yet King, who saw the promised land but knew that he wouldn't get there, marched and spoke out in the heart of Dixie.
They risked all, and some lost all; but they stood for ideals that mattered and did not with them perish.
We have no such men active today. We are not a broken society. A broken society can be repaired.
We are a rotten society, and we have only the rubbish heap for which to look forward.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Your real enemy does not have a colored face, speak a strange language, and practice a different religion.
Your real enemy looks like you, talks like you, and says "God bless you," while he does his best to bring Hell upon you.
One fine day, people will look around them and realize that the government belongs nowhere.
Until then, it will remain a mortal foe.