Sunday, August 31, 2008

I Love Dumbasses

When I refer to my conspecifics as dumbasses or the dumbasserate, I do so in a spirit of love. The realization that so many folks are so damned stupid has enabled me to be a lot more forgiving and tolerant of their foibles. They just can't do any better, bless their stupid hearts. I used to have anger issues when I expected too much of my conspecifics and found myself perpetually disappointed. Now I am much calmer and can shrug off dumbassery with a sense of pity rather than anger.

What I have come to learn is that dumbassery is not limited to the left side of the bell curve, as it is usually displayed to illustrate the normal distribution of intelligence. People of average intelligence and even people of above average intelligence up to about 120 IQ points are still dumbasses. Their ability to think abstractly is extremely limited. Humans may be the smartest species on the planet, but they aren't all that smart. You can't take Einstein, Mozart and Turing and consider them examples of humanity. They're outliers. Atypical.

Given that some 75% of humans are dumbasses, it makes sense to assume that strangers who do things that could be considered stupid or evil should be given the benefit of the doubt and regarded as stupid until proven evil. There's no sense in getting angry or frustrated because that's just the way humans are, barely sentient. You might as well be pissed off that they can't breathe underwater or fly without technological aids.

The Kentuckian Gets it Just Right

Yournamehere at Death Wore a Feathered Mullet nails it, too:

What Schwartz Wrote

Jonathan Schwartz at This Modern World nails it:

"So before long, there will only be two options for the people who want to run things. First, they could organize a rational liquidation of much of the empire, which would free up enough resources to create a long-term winning coalition. Second, they could go completely bugfuck nuts, and try to maintain the empire while cutting back on all social benefits and counting on the thrills of military triumph and chialism to keep them in power. What won’t be possible is the Obama-Biden approach.

In other words, the days of a rational American empire are drawing to a close. We’ll be forced to discard either the empire part, or the rational part. And based on 10,000 years of human history, I’m guessing it’s the rational part that will go. "

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Unpredictable Stupid Women

The popular beach song "Yes, the Women are Smarter" just isn't true. Women are just as likely as men to be stupid. Half of all women are of below average intelligence. Hell, a good quarter of them are downright feebleminded. J Sidney McCain is banking on this.

The problem for McCain is that stupid women who vote might vote for reasons that a smart person, or even an average one, might not even consider. Feminists are generally a good deal smarter than nonfeminists, so they aren't going to vote for a ticket with a gender traitor like Palin on it just because she has a vagina. Hillary Clinton supporters, except the racist ones, will not be impressed by the selection of an anti-choice, nutzoid creationist with boobs who referred to Clinton as a "whiner". So McCain is left with women who also happen to be dumbasses.

Will the female dumbasserate come out for a woman just because she's a woman? Maybe. But they might just decide they don't like her because she wears glasses. She hunts, so she might be a lesbian or a tad too unladlylike. Maybe they won't like her clothes. Or they'll think she's too good looking, or not good looking enough, or all full of herself, or not full enough. We're talking wild card here. They might compare her to Mrs Biden or Mrs O'Bama or think that she's Cindy McCain's sister wife or some such thing.

Palin is a bone to the christianist nutzoid base, but they were already going to vote for him anyway. Christianist nutzoid women are already a big part of the dumbasserate. About half of them are going to balk at a woman's being VP instead of at home scrubbing the skidmarks out of her husband's briefs. This could go either way with the dumbasserate.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin Good for McCain, if not America

Picking Sarah Palin as running mate/future wife is J Sidney McCain's way of telling the world that he is super confident that he will win in November and that he doesn't need a Veep candidate to bolster the ticket. Also, it's his way of saying his health is great. Or that he doesn't much care what happens to America after he dies.

Some say that the Palin pick will make any criticism of O'Bama's experience ridiculous and that McCain will have to shut his gob about it. It doesn't mean that at all. McCain is going after the dumbasserate, so it doesn't matter whether his criticisms actually apply more to his own ticket than to his opponents.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Equal Pay

Women make significantly less money than men on average even when they do the same job with the same qualifications and level of skill. This is sometimes said to be because women are liable to go off onto the "mommy track" and quit for a while to raise children. Moreover, they usually require more flexibility when they return to work as mothers because they need to be available for their kids. Why does this fall to women? Because they make significantly less money than men on average. This means that the opportunity costs for the household are lower if the woman takes on the familial responsibilities instead of the more highly compensated man. This is the Catch 22 of gender pay disparity.

If employers are concerned that their female workers might go off on the "mommy track", they could make this a lot less likely by paying females as much as or more than males. This raises her opportunity costs of parenting. If women had equal pay, we might expect to see an increase in the proportion of fathers who opt to be stay at home dads or who choose flexible jobs in order to be available for the kids.

I reckon that it's straight up douchebaggery to pay women less than men for the same job. Shame on employers who do so.

Child Support Wants Reforming

In New York, a noncustodial parent of three children is expected to fork over 29% of his gross income for child support. With two kids, it's 25%. One kid gets 17%. On top of that, he has to pay all or a portion of medical, educational and child care expenses. This doubtless deters many men from leaving their wives no matter how horrible they have become. How can he live on what's left? Perhaps he can take up with a divorced mother who is receiving child support from her former husband so as to break even. Or he can move in with his parents or siblings. He might find that he just has to stick it out until the children leave home.

If a man falls behind in his child support, he can be jailed. There aren't many other debts that can land you in the hoosegow. Of course, it's hard to earn money to pay child support when you're in stir. I reckon the system is designed as a shake down to get men's relations to fork over money to rescue the guy.

I reckon that the child support system is completely backwards. If the father has the kids half the time or more, he still has to pay the ex. If he has them rarely, he still has to pay even though his enjoyment from the children is greatly reduced. The custodial parent gets almost all the entertainment value of the children, and the noncustodial parent foots the bill. The system acts as if children are all burden and no blessing! Why would anyone ever have kids if there's no payoff?

Given that children more than make up for their costs in joy and satisfaction and the other rewards of parenting, perhaps the custodial parent should pay the noncustodial parent compensation for the loss of the society of the children. This arrangement would enable more people to end unhappy marriages and would encourage custodial parents to share the joys of children with noncustodials. There would probably be more joint custody arrangements than we see under the current system.

But what about families where the custodial parent cannot afford to take care of the children? Then that parent shouldn't have taken on the role of custodian. That parent should have thought of that when that parent decided to reproduce with that deadbeat. Besides, everyone else shouldn't have to suffer because a few families here and there end up in trouble.

Society should not make children more of a burden than they already are as this just reduces overall fertility. The current child support scheme treats children as burdens and, in fact, makes them such. Let's get the state out of the equation and let parents freely work out the allocation of the benefits and burdens of parenting on their own.

Moreover, the current child support scheme involves an intrusive child support enforcement apparatus that costs everyone money and freedom. It is not fair that parents make the allocation of the benefits and burdens of parenting my problem by causing me to be taxed for courts and other coercive agencies. Leave me out of it, please.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I haven't watched a single minute of the convention coverage. Why should I? I know what's going to happen. I even already know whom I'm going to vote for, if I vote. I won't watch the GOP convention, either. The only difference will be that most of the kooks will be inside the GOP convention.

If you are still undecided at this point, please don't bother to vote. You are much too stupid and are liable to hurt yourself, or worse, hurt someone else in the process. Seriously, you undecided yahoos are what's wrong with democracy in America. If coverage of the conventions is going to sway you one way or the other, please just stay home on election day. Better yet, revoke your voter registration, assuming that you had the intelligence to figure out hoe to register, and for cthulu's sake don't register if you haven't yet. Save the gas on election day. Save democracy. Select yourself out.

Too many clueless yahoos vote. Let's throw them off the rolls. Voting while stupid is voting fraud as far as I'm concerned.

The Taboo against Cannibalism isn't going to Replicate itself, Parents!

I've talked to enough parents by now to come to the conclusion that most of them neglect their responsibilities when it comes to training their offspring about cannibalism. Many of them have a very cavalier attitude about the whole thing as if their little darlings would never think of eating another human being and don't need to be taught. As if.

I reckon that the public schools, if they are good for anything, can be deployed to reinforce the "don't eat people" ethic in order to make up for parental failure. I'd put it in health class, make it low key. "See this food pyramid, class? What's not on the food pyramid. That's right, Jeffrey, people are not on the pyramid. That's because people don't eat people." Seasame Street could do one of its famous classification lessons with two food items and a human. "Two of these things belong together; two of these things are kind of the same; one of these things is not like the others. Can you guess its name? Human!"

Maybe some PSAs, as in "The More You Know". Miley Cyrus says: "Did you know that eating people is one of the main causes for kuru, a disease of the brain similar to Mad Cow? Don't eat people." Or an Afternoon Special about a cannibalistic teen who alienates everyone with his people eating ways. "We don't eat people, Simon. Period."

I'd leave it to parents to explain how eating people might actually be an option under certain narrowly defined emergency situations.

McCain's Response to Charges of Marital Infidelity

McCain addresses suspicions that he is a serial adulterer:

"For five and a half years, I didn't have a single woman to have sex with. All I had was my right hand. I didn't even have any pornographic literature or pin ups or anything else to prime the imagination. All I had were the guards who, if I squinted, I could imagine were women, or at least very good female impersonators. I didn't have a full scale latex model of Jenna Jameson's hindquarters and vulva to fool around with. I didn't even have a "fisherman's friend, if you know what I mean. I'm talking five and a half years of deprivation, so don't talk to me about how many sexual partners I've had or will be having."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm not Gay, Not that there'd be Anything Wrong with That

I wondered, as I downed my second scotch and soda, whether my last post made me seem like some kind of metrosexual. Then I realized that I'm overweight. Metrosexuals aren't overweight. I'm just into pampering myself, that's all. I'm selfish, not metrosexual. I needed a freaking massage, mani-pedi, haircut. I was just on a 16 hour transcontinental plane trip (LA to SLC to ATL-Newburgh, NY), I tear up my nails in the garden, and my hair was getting shaggy. So screw you judgmental pricks!

I recall my Idiot Brother in Law remarking one day as we pushed a perambulator in Central Park whether folks would mistake us for a gay couple with a baby (the wives were on a carriage ride). I didn't thinks so. At the time, we were both fatties. A five year bender helped him get lean. I'm still overweight and unlikely to be mistaken for gay.

Back in the day when I was scrawny, I had many a comical "I thought you were gay" episode. I never was, although there would be nothing wrong if I were. I was just skinny and had pretty good taste in clothing and was a tolerant soul. I lived on cigarettes and coffee. I was hetero, though. I still am, or at least I think I would be if I still had sex (married 25 years, you know).

At one point, I was very concerned that I was pinging on the gaydar of so many people. What was I doing or saying that made so many gay guys come on to me? I was flattered, mind you, but I just wondered what the hell gave them the idea I was gay. Which I'm not. But which would be OK if I were. One former professor planted a big wet one right on my lips and was surprised that I did not respond as favorably as he expected. Others confided in me, came out to me, on the basis that they believed I was also gay. Which, as I've indicated, I am not. I was just skinny and mostly dateless. I was a nerd, not gay! I was in a couple of plays in high school, for crying out loud, but I was definitely not a drama fag.

I have always been open and affirming as to homosexuality. But I have never been gay. Did I mention that already? I have had gay friends, I have worked with people with AIDS as a volunteer, and I have always advocated for the rights of gay folks. I am gay-sympathetic, and I was so long before and in a place where it was not cool to be. I had black friends and have always been sympathetic to and fond of black people, but that does not make me black. As far as I know, nobody has ever mistaken me for a black person.

My own gaydar is very ineffective. I get a lot of false positives.

A Me Day

Today I did almost nothing productive, so far. I went to the doctor first thing and got an EKG and a PFT. The first was good, the latter not so much. My cholesterol was lower than ever.

Then I went to the drug store and dropped off my scrips. I got corned beef hash and eggs at the diner in the strip mall by the strip mall next to the strip mall that the drug store is in. Hopewell Junction is a conglomerate of strip malls, not exactly a quaint New England hamlet. Then I picked up my meds and went home. I played on line sudoku mega until it was time for my massage (I did walk the dogs in the interim) in Kent at the strip mall that appears to constitute the town as far as I can tell.

I had a nice chat with Mrs Vache Folle's yoga instructor while I waited for my masseur to get done with his previous client. She tried to talk me into some yoga classes and assured me that there are classes just for spazzes like me, although she called them something else. She let me know, and I chalk it up to her observations about my likely body fat index, that two holistic nutritional counselors are coming on board next week.

The massage was terrific as usual. Then I got a spa pedicure in the Korean nail salon downstairs and a manicure. I splurged and got the callous treatment and the super duper foot and calf/shin massage. Then I got a haircut. It was nigh on 4:00 when I got home. I mowed for 10 minutes and then browsed the blogosphere. I am debating whether to putter in the garden or just start drinking.

I could do with more days like this. I wonder if I can get a facial in Hopewell Junction or Kent.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Upper Middle Class Revolutionaries

Gramsci, among others, was taken with the mystery of why peasants and proles often supported the ruling elites instead of following their own class interests. The answer is, of course, that peasants and proles are just as apt to be dumbasses as anyone else. The smartest peasants and proles, given the opportunity, are liable to join the ruling elites or serve them in their own individual interests. And in the absence of opportunity, smart peasants and proles aren't going to have much influence. Very few smart peasants and proles will join the intelligentsia of the peasant/prole movement, and the P/Ps will have to make do with well intentioned academics from other classes who don't know the first thing about actual peasants or proles.

I did some research on class in America and was surprised, appalled actually, to find that I am considered "Upper Middle Class". I don't feel UMC, but I live in a dual earner household that fits the definition (over $100K/year income). I live in a high cost, high tax area, but even taking that into account I am UMC. What the hell does this mean? Do I have to vote Republican? I'm in debt up to my eyeballs, for crying out loud and can't survive with much of an interruption in earning power by me or my working spouse. On the wealth scale, I am way below median. We're both professionals with the usual bourgeois sensibilities and tastes, but we both have solid working class roots and relate to working class people more than to the ruling elites.

I reckon that the class system based on income is not as meaningful as sociologists seem to think. I'll admit that NASCAR's appeal is a mystery to me and that I have no paintings on velvet in my home, but I still live more or less check to check. I have to work for a living. More accurately, both Mrs Vache Volle and I have to work for a living. Our vacations are a little more exotic than our working class kindred are used to and our reading list is a bit more Booker Prize than Oprah, but in essentials we are the same as our blue collar relatives. If the bottom 95% would join together against the top 5% who rule over us, we'd all be better off. The top 5% are not morally superior to us or otherwise fit to rule us.

Anyway, when the revolution comes, no need to trundle me and Mrs VF to the guillotine. We're with you.

Moving to the Mainstream

How can libertarianism ever become part of the "mainstream"? Mainstream Libertarians have hit on the perfect solution: redefine libertarianism so that it is indistinguishable from regular old authoritarian "republicanism". Any resemblance to the movement that treasures liberty is entirely coincidental.

McCain to Tap Clinton for VP

Evidently, McCain is not going to tap Mel Gibson for Veep as I suggested some months ago. Some reckon that he'll choose Holy Joe from CT to make himself look bipartisan. I predict that he will name Hillary Clinton as his running mate. You read it here first.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Waiting Until the Children Are Dead

When is it appropriate for married people who hate each other to stay together for the children? That's a call each couple has to make on its own, but there are some considerations that should be taken into account.

The children will adapt to just about any structure that the divorcing parents set up, and there is no basis in fact for assertions that the usual range of changes will damage and traumatize them. Abandonment by a parent will be hurtful and ought to be avoided, but otherwise the new arrangements will have no deleterious impact on the kids. Most assertions about maintaining a status quo are really thinly disguised rationalizations for keeping the adults in their comfort zones.

The primary issue that most coupes will face is that moving from one to two households will have a huge financial impact. They may not be able to afford to split up and will need to stick it out until they have rearranged their lives in a way that makes it possible to split without too much of a fall in their standards of living. For example, waiting until all the kids are in school full days might be necessary. That will reduce child care costs for the custodial parent and permit her to keep a better job. If the kids are nearing the age of majority, the parents may as well stick it out until the kids grow up. They are going to need all their money for educational expenses.

Couples should keep in mind that they had kids for their own amusement and that arrangements after divorce should allow for both parents to get their money's worth of entertainment value from their offspring. Don't turn the kids into a burden. Noncustodial fathers often find that their relationships with their children become way more fun after divorce because they don't have to deal with the kids every day. They often start to spend quality time with their children for the first time after divorce when the mother isn't around to interfere with bonding and good times.

Custodial mothers often find that their children are much less entertaining once they have taken on even more of the burdens of parenting with no increase in benefits, but it is difficult to reason with divorcing mothers and to get them to understand that restricting the father's access to the children is akin to throwing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch. If he is demanding more access, he doesn't mean it and is usually trying to get concessions in some other area, as in finances. He doesn't want to spend any more time with the kids than he has to. Think, woman, at how little interaction he had with them when you were living together! It was like pulling teeth to get him to do anything with the kids or to help with their care. Now he wants to be Super Dad? Try and get him to take the kids at least half the time. Hell, threaten to give him full custody and take occasional visitation yourself. Call his bluff. Worst case scenario? You're free!

Anyway, don't stay with the harpy or asshole as the case may be because someone told you that having both of you in the same household matters to the kids. It doesn't. If you can afford it, split up. It's worth it, and you won't hate your kids for forcing you to stay with someone you can no longer abide.

Finally, consider that staying together for the kids is often a vehicle for the spouse who does not want the divorce to hang onto the hope of reconciliation or to hang onto circumstances that he is comfortable with. He's not going to change, not for long anyway. And he's going to spend the time whining and begging and guilting and undermining you. You think you're in hell now? This won't be doing the kids any good, either. It won't do them any harm, but it won't be helping them, and you'll be going through all that crap for no good reason.

In conclusion, the only good reason to stay together for the kids is if you can't afford to split up.

Why I Follow Politics

A conspecific asked me the other day why, given my cynicism about the political system, I follow politics and take and interest in it. I reckon it's a form of entertainment for me, a spectator sport. Just as I know that the success or failure of my favorite baseball team is really meaningless to me, I might still find amusement in following the team closely through the season and expressing opinions about what they have done right and wrong, personnel matters and what have you. I don't own any stock in the team. I won't gain or lose anything if the team succeeds or fails. But it can still be fun. That's how I see politics. I don't really have any influence, and the outcome probably won't make a hell of a lot of difference to me in the end. I'm not going to get an ambassadorship or a seat on the federal bench (although I have learned that I am overqualified for the post of Attorney General).

The thing that has piqued my interest most of all over the last few years is the incompetence, corruption, criminality and venality of the GOP. When GW Bush was handed the 2000 election by the douchebags on the Supreme Court, I was appalled that so many of my countrymen were such dupes. In 2004, when fraud in Ohio and elsewhere delivered the election to Bush in a squeaker, I came to realize that a huge number of my countrymen were complete dumbasses. They weren't even dupes. They knew GW Bush was a criminal and voted for him anyway. If Americans do not punish the GOP at the polls, I may not be able to travel abroad any longer out of total shame. I'm already making all kinds of excuses. "You have to understand that we are poorly educated and that our media is run by entertainers. And we allow even the stupidest people to vote. I am not a dumbass myself, you must believe me."

In a way, I blame the Democrats. I am convinced that they really believe that ordinary Americans are the salt of the earth and can be reasoned with. They also clung over long to the idea that the GOP was really trying to do what they thought was right for the country. Note to Democrats: the people are dumbasses who vote with their sphincters, not their brains. Stop trying to reason with them and start duping them. Lie as much as you need to. And the GOP hates America.

I Understand the Biden Pick

When I got the e-mail from the O'Bama campaign that O'Bama had chosen Senator Biden, I was surprised. I had been betting on Senator Clinton. But after some thought, I have come to consider it a good decision. Senator Clinton might have energized the nutzoid GOP base that so far has shown little enthusiasm for Senator McCain. They might have mobilized to vote against Clinton when they would not have done so to vote for McCain. Then again, those people are going to vote for whomever their leaders tell them, and I bet they'll get behind McCain in the end. He's their best hope for an early Armageddon after all.

Senator Biden has a sharp tongue that will enable him to counterattack the right wing slime machine in a way that O'Bama can't afford to while he's trying to look presidential. Biden knows a lot about foreign affairs and can speak to those issues with authority whereas McCain and his probable Veep Romney cannot (because they're ignoramuses). And Biden has a background just as tragic as McCain's. His wife and baby were killed in a car accident. He commuted from Delaware every day to be with his sons who had survived. He embodies family values, although he doesn't make a lot of political hay out of it. He didn't get filthy rich during his Senate career and has working class roots. By all accounts, he knows how to connect with working class people. And he's a white dude.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Being Pitiful is not a Qulaification for the Presidency

I'm getting tired of ranting about Songbird, but he just pisses me off so much that I have to get it out of my system. The POW card can only be played so often before it really starts to sound like whining (which it fundamentally is). I'm reminded of the Widow Starkadder in "Cold Comfort Farm" who relied on her lament that she had seen "something nasty in the woodshed" a half century earlier to put down all criticism or dissent in the household. That's McCain in spades. "Wah, wah, wah. I was a POW. I was subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques that seemed like torture when applied to me but are perfectly OK for the US government to use on other people."

What is it about having been a POW that is supposed to insulate you from any criticism or suspicion? Is it that we are supposed to take so much pity on you that we refrain from wounding your delicate feelings? If so, are you really emotionally up to the task of presidenting? Or is that you showed endurance and courage by not completely going bananas because of the experience? If so, why don't we just take the detainees at Gitmo and let each of them be president in turn and dispense with these annoying elections?

I keep trying to wrap my mind around the reasoning. You surrender to the enemy and are detained; therefore, you no longer have the capacity to lie, cheat or be wrong about anything ever again. I suppose there are no former POWs with criminal records or who are registered sex offenders or who are junkies or who made any boneheaded decisions after their confinement. By Golly, those detainees at Gitmo are going to be pretty useful now that the US has purged them of the capacity to sin or err.

Or is it that we reckon that your confinement damaged you so much that we have to cut you a lot of slack to compensate for your suffering? Go ahead and cheat on your wife. We understand what a rough time you had. You're ethically challenged as hell? Of course, you are, poor old thing. Those Vietnamense beat the ethics right out of you. I still don't get why I should vote for you for president, though. Being pitiable is just not enough.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Freedom is Security and Order; Disorder is Counter-Revolutionary

After the Revolution, in order to insure that anarchy, which is desirable, does not descend into chaos, which is not, it will be necessary for the Revolutionary Cadre to take steps to maintain order and security. Contrary to the Rumsfeldian view that freedom is messy, it will be a primary principle of the Revolution that Freedom is Order and that disorder, especially when it disturbs the peace, is counter-revolutionary. To enact this Principle, it will be necessary to inculcate it in the minds of every citizen from infancy and to make Order an aspect of objective reality such that it reinforces the Principle in people through practice.

To this end, it will be necessary for the Party to maintain continuous surveillance and monitoring of public activities to prevent and punish violence and disturbances of the public peace, if necessary employing force to do so. The means of doing violence must be, as far as is practicable, limited to the Party and its Safety Patrols. Safety Patrols should be ubiquitous and intolerant of disturbances and crimes. They will appear to those with Right Revolutionary Principles as Guardians of the Revolution and a bastion against authoritarian counter-revolutionaries and suproletarian criminal elements.

It will likewise be necessary to maintain a force adequate to protect the Revolution from counter-revolutionary elements abroad and to export the Revolution to such other territories as may be yearning for the Blessings of Freedom. This force will guard the borders and project the power of the Revolutionary Cadre throughout the world. No counter-revolutionary power must be permitted to attain superiority. Naturally, intelligence gathering and diplomatic efforts will have to be funded and manned.

To win the hearts and minds of youth, it will be vital to maintain a system of mandatory indoctrination centers in which young minds can be inculcated with Right Revolutionary Principles and unquestioned loyalty to the Cadre and Party. This will be costly but will reduce the costs of maintaining order over time as the Revolutionary Man and Woman are created and mature into citizens who know how to exercise freedom responsibly, that is according to Revolutionary Principles and in furtherance of Revolutionary Goals.

Of course. none of these requirements for maintaining the stateless society will be free of cost, but the Cadre and Party will limit its extractions from the citizenry to only so much of their wealth and incomes as is absolutely necessary to carry out these core functions for their benefit. Moreover, it must be the policy of the Cadre to ensure that extractions from the citizenry do not exceed what is optimal and do not provide disincentives to productivity that in turn reduce revenues for vital services and functions.

To ensure Freedom, citizens must surrender a small part of their liberty to the Cadre. They must learn to distinguish between Freedom and counter-revolutionary license.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Off to the OC

I'm off to California tomorrow on business. I have just enough Xanax to get through the air travel experience, provided that alcohol is also available to wash it down. I understand that Delta is already sorry for my inconvenience, and I don't get on a plane until tomorrow.

I am being deposed as the "person most knowledgeable" for one of the companies that I use to be a VP of. As flattering as that sounds, it's actually a huge honking pain in the ass. And while I am, in fact, the most knowledgeable person in the whole world about the topics of the deposition, the information that I keep in my brain about the issues is next to nil.

I don't memorize reports and facts and what have you. On the contrary, I keep them in files and refer to them when I need to. Ten minutes after reading a report or attending a meeting, unless there is some decision to be made or some follow up to be done, I have almost completely forgotten everything. So, when the lawyers ask me about the issues, I'll point them to the reports and the correspondence already turned over to them and inform them that I have nothing to add to them. That's going to fluster the crap out of them.

Frequently, I'll be asked what the company's position is on some factual matter, and I'll point out that the company has no influence on what is or is not a fact about the universe. The objective reality of the universe will be borne out in the fullness of time without the company's weighing in with an opinion. Especially since the company is a fictitious person that lacks the capacity to opine or to believe or to think or to know. Lawyers sometimes forget that the company isn't real.

I'll try to have fun.

Monday, August 18, 2008

War Heros

What makes a person a "war hero"? For some, if you were in a war, you're a war hero, as long as you didn't actually flee in the face of the enemy or defect to the other side or some such thing. For others, it requires something a little more. Here's an example of someone who is, in my opinion, indisputably a Vietnam war hero and in the Navy to boot:

From his citation for the Medal of Honor:

Rank and organization: Hospital Corpsman Second Class, U.S. Navy, Company M, 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Marine Division. Place and date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 16 May 1968. Entered service at: Kansas City, Mo. Born: 5 December 1945, Kansas City, Mo. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life and beyond the call of duty while serving as a HC2c. with Company M, in connection with operations against enemy aggressor forces. During the afternoon hours, Company M was moving to join the remainder of the 3d Battalion in Quang Tri Province. After treating and evacuating 2 heat casualties, HC2c. Ballard was returning to his platoon from the evacuation landing zone when the company was ambushed by a North Vietnamese Army unit employing automatic weapons and mortars, and sustained numerous casualties. Observing a wounded marine, HC2c. Ballard unhesitatingly moved across the fire swept terrain to the injured man and swiftly rendered medical assistance to his comrade. HC2c. Ballard then directed 4 marines to carry the casualty to a position of relative safety. As the 4 men prepared to move the wounded marine, an enemy soldier suddenly left his concealed position and, after hurling a hand grenade which landed near the casualty, commenced firing upon the small group of men. Instantly shouting a warning to the marines, HC2c. Ballard fearlessly threw himself upon the lethal explosive device to protect his comrades from the deadly blast. When the grenade failed to detonate, he calmly arose from his dangerous position and resolutely continued his determined efforts in treating other marine casualties. HC2c. Ballard's heroic actions and selfless concern for the welfare of his companions served to inspire all who observed him and prevented possible injury or death to his fellow marines. His courage, daring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service."

Now that's what I call service to be honored and respected. Mr Ballard's heroism does not, however, make me want to run out and vote for him for president. He may, in fact, be well qualified for all I know, but I'd need something more than this to get me to vote for him.

Songbird Sucks

Did Songbird cheat in the Saddleback Church forum? Of course, he did. Why else would he have conveniently failed to arrive in order to enter the "cone of silence" on time? That he reckoned that he had to cheat when he was playing to his own core constituency speaks volumes about Songbird's character, or lack thereof. And his lackey's instant deployment of the POW card in defense of Songbird tells me that there is no doubt at all that he cheated and listened to the questions and O'Bama's responses beforehand.

Songbird, like all "heros", is reluctant to talk about his POW experiences except on days ending in the letter 'y', in which case it's all he talks about. It renders him immune to all criticism, and you have to preface every critical statement with some bullshit about how you honor his service, yadda yadda yadda, but he's still a douche. I don't honor his service one bit. He was a Naval aviator, not exactly the most dangerous occupation in the Vietnam War. He dropped bombs from far away on who knows what targets. This was an endeavor that had no bearing whatsoever on the national security of the United States. He volunteered to do it and got paid for his services. Getting shot down is a bummer, but it's not necessarily heroic. Getting injured in the crash is also a bummer but not heroic. Getting captured and flogged are bummers, but not heroic. Singing like a bird in captivity and accepting favors from your captors? Not heroic. It was unfortunate that Songbird had these experiences, and he merits our sympathy, but they don't make him a hero. If he would stop whining about it for two minutes, that might make it seem more heroic.

Songbird has been sucking on the government teat since the day he was born in Panama. He will continue to suck on it until the day he dies whether he wins this election or not.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Freedom at the End of a Gun Barrel is Still Freedom

After the Revolution, it will be necessary to maintain a government for defense of the realm and to protect subjects from one another. This government will have to have an absolute monopoly on force with no delegation to political subdivisions. It will be a principal activity of the government to prevent subjects from and punish them for conspiring with one another to use force on other subjects even where the object of the conspiracy is a perceived public good. Another principal activity will be the re-education and rehabilitation of authoritarians. It will be necessary to maintain constant vigilance and to suppress counterrevolutionary concepts wherever they are manifest. Another principal activity will be the spread of the Revolutionary Movement to every corner of the world until every human has the blessings of liberty whether they want it or not. They will come to embrace it in time and with careful indoctrination. In that day of worldwide unity, the government will be able to curtail a significant portion of its activities and reduce costs so as to increase liberty to every terran beyond what we can now imagine.

The campaign to change the hearts of authoritarians will not be as difficult or as costly as one might imagine. Many authoritarians are irredeemable and will always be authoritarians. They can, however, be ordered to be free and to respect the freedom of others, and they can be expected to obey. What is necessary is to decapitate the authoritarians. I'm not speaking of actual executions, just the apprehension and removal of authoritarian leaders and their "intelligentsia". Inasmuch as most of these people are opportunistic and lacking in any principles other than careful attention to self promotion, many of them will be easily persuaded to welcome their new overlords and to encourage their constituencies to embrace Revolutionary Principles. Others may require more in the way of persuasion and indoctrination and will have to be housed in special learning centers until they come around. Others, especially those who have participated in crimes and held governmental offices, will be tried and dealt with justly by by Revolutionary Tribunals.

It is only by constant soulcraft that the Revolution can succeed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Is McCain Trying to Get Us All Killed?

John Amato at C&L reckons that a "cold war is exactly what the neocons want." I reckon he's right. The fall of the Soviet Union was a disaster for them, and folks were talking about "peace dividends" and other crazy things back in the 90s. They needed an existential threat to justify a massive national security and surveillance apparatus and an ever growing government. "Islamofascism" worked for a few years but has begun to wear thin, especially since they weren't able to deal with it competently while they were in power. It didn't help that the threat was largely illusory, either.

Now if they can ramp up some hate on the Russkies, they've got it made. Just dust off the old existential threat that worked so well for decades, and you can sail right into a fascist dictatorship before you know it.

Of course, this leaves McCain open to the "how can you trust that crazy old warmonger" and the "that crazy old coot's liable to get us all killed" memes. O'Bama could run LBJ's ad from 1964, the one with the mushroom cloud that was unfairly used against Barry Goldwater, only this time nobody can seriously argue that it's an unfair ad. Isn't it bad enough that the GOP has gotten the US bogged down in two land wars in Asia and is itching for a third without exposing us to the potentially very real menace of Russian missiles aimed at our heads? McCain's sabre rattling is irresponsible, and he actually makes Condi Rice look coolheaded and competent in comparison.

The Songbird should zip it. Maybe he figures that a nuclear strile would mainly hit urban areas where Democrats are stronger and that he can only win the election with the surviving mutants in flover country.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I have encountered a few "global warming deniers" (GWDs), but not one of them is a scientist of any kind. In fact, most of them, take IBIL for instance, are scientifically illiterate. They don't have the first idea about how science works. Scientific predictions about global warming could be wrong, and scientists will be the first to admit it if data comes in that refutes the evidence that has been accumulated so far.

IBIL and some others reckon that a few coolish days in August are solid refutation of the whole global warming phenomenon. Now, that's scientific reasoning for you! Note to dumbasses: the average global temperature change is not all that impressive, but the changes at the poles are huge. It cannot be denied that the ice caps are shrinking.

I asked IBIL why he took the GWD position, and he claimed that it was because the fact of global warming would be used to justify all kinds of restrictions on him and his choices (he pretends to be a libertarian). Would you, I asked him, change your ultimate position on the restrictions if global warming was a fact? He would not. Why then put on the tin foil hat of GWD and risk being discredited as a crackpot when you could make perfectly cromulent arguments from libertarian principles why these restrictions should not be placed on you? Arguing the facts just exposes you to refutation by reality. Arguing the facts is a tacit acceptance of the legitimacy of the state's imposing restrictions if the facts bear it out.

The state laready reckons that it owns you and that there is no aspect of your lives that is not of interest to it. Global warming, universal health insurance, or what have you are not going to be necessary for the state to justify regulating the crap out of you. They don't need justification. They don't care about justification.

Efficacy of Prayer

My friend was in a terrible car crash a few weeks ago in which the driver, with whom he carpooled, was killed and in which he was injured critically. I won't get into the details of his injuries (they were myriad and life threatenning), but it has been pretty touch and go these several weeks, and he has only recently been able to come off a respirator. I have prayed about him and have asked the choir to pray about him as well. I have asked God to spare my friend and let him have a full recovery.

Things like this remind me of my confusion about prayer. It is my will that my friend survive and thrive, but I know that it may well be part of God's ineffable purpose to take him from us or to leave him broken. No amount of praying is going to influence events. The best I can do in prayer is to try to align myself with God's will as it unfolds and to derive peace from that. It pleased God for some reason for my friend to endure considerable torment, and that is hard to wrap my mind around although I try to reconcile that bad things happen to good people with my view of God as all loving.

How does this help my friend, though? I suppose if he knew that he was in the prayers of a lot of people that it would be a comfort to him. He is. He is a good man and highly regarded by everyone who knows him. A lot of people are pulling for him, and it can't hurt that there's a lot of positive energy around him.

I reckon that praying about and for my friend is more for my benefit. It is so disturbing to be reminded that one's life can be turned upside down in a moment and that God's wonderful plan for your life could very well involve getting seriously injured.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nostalgic For Goodies

When I was a kid, there was a little store about 2.5 miles up the road. It was called "Shorty's" and was operated by Delbert "Shorty" Hooper who lived next to the store in a trailer. This was the greatest store ever as far as I was concerned. He had a screened in area our front where he kept produce. Just inside the small interior was a long cooler full of soft drinks. These were kept frosty in ice water, and it actually hurt to dig out your favorite soda. Mine was NeHi. Across from the cooler was an entire aisle devoted to penny candy. Beyond that was the snack aisle. I don't remember anything about the rest of the store.

My friends and I would collect deposit bottles that people apparently threw out their car windows for our benefit and cash them in for soda and candy. I always bought little wax coke bottles filled with sugar water and paper tubes filled with sugar and God knows what else. They were sweet and tart. They may have been called Pixie Sticks. And giant Swee'Tarts were a favorite of my little sister. Among my other favorites were a pan pipe made of chewable flavored wax and a set of large fake lips made of the same stuff. We sometimes bought bubble gum cigarettes and cigars and pretended to smoke like grown ups. Big red hot jawbreakers were favored by my buddy Keith. I liked a hard candy product that had some kind of exploding substance inside it not unlike pop rocks. We could get a lot of candy for just a quarter.

At the Wink Theater in town, now an incipipient megachurch, we would sometimes be given money by our folks for the more high end candy that cost more than a penny. I was a fan of the Chunkie Bar, but it didn't last very long. A Sugar Daddy was the way to go for longevity, or Milk Duds. The concessions at the Wink also included the Chilly Dilly, an enormous chilled dill pickle, and that lasted a while. I would start with the pickle and resort to my candy only when the pickle had been absorbed. We had to make do with the money we had been given since our folks almost never went to the movies with us, and they were pretty tight with a penny in those days even when they were around to beg from. I am amazed at how indulgent my folks were and are with the following generations, what with their having been such candy money begrudgers back in the day.

The best thing on a road trip in those days was to stop at a general store and get a Moon Pie and a Coke or a popsicle.

Inner Fish

I got very close to finishing Neil Shubin's "Your Inner Fish" before Mrs Vache Folle appropriated it for her train reading. I read 90% of it, so I feel that I can render an opinion.

Shubin is a paleontologist who specializes in fish and who was involved in the discovery of fossils of the earliest fish with limbs like our own. He takes the reader on a 3.5 billion year journey and shows how many of the features of our bodies arose in ancient fish and even simpler creatures and how minute changes in genetic switches can account for seemingly large changes in bodies. Best of all, he does this in language that all but the stupidest lay readers can understand.

He doesn't take on "intelligent design" nor does he appear to have an ax to grind (unless it's in the last 10% of the book), but he points out at intervals how our bodies seem to be jerry-rigged rather than built in the most efficient way possible. Since we are basically fish retooled to walk upright and breathe air, you might expect some bugs in the machine.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Collectivists for Individual Liberty!

David brooks suggests that individualism's days are numbered, and collctivism will be the "mentality" of the future:
He reckons that would be autocrats might find the collectivist "mentality" attractive.

I used to think of "collectivism" and "authoritarianism" as correlated concepts, but I have abandoned this way of thinking. Both "collectivists" and "individualists" can be authoritarians or libertarians or anything in between. Of course, I'm referring to the psychological and sociological meanings of these terms rather than political meanings that have little to do with the other senses of the words.

Moreover, I have come to think of these terms not as psychological or cultural traits or tendencies but as skill sets that have been differentially developed by individuals and are differentially distributed in various cultural contexts. Most of us are entirely capable of seeing the world in collectivist/contextual terms as well as individualist/categorical terms, and we do, all the time. Some of us have been trained in individualistic/categorical interpretation with little attention given to collectivist/contextual skills. I reckon that the former is the province of state schooling in the West and that the latter is stressed within the various collectives and communities to which we belong.

The state has an interest in setting itself up as the only collective that really matters and to which all other collectives are subordinate. It can do this by reinforcing individualism and setting up a social structure in which the relationship of the individual to the state is the only or most important one. All other relations and contexts are mediated by and through the state. Families are reduced to the weak "nuclear" form and depend on the state for enforcement of the few familial obligations that the state has defined as legitimate. Other collectives are tolerated and even encouraged to the extent that they recognize their position as subordinate to the state and to the extent that they advance the cause of the state. Does your church display a flag in the sanctuary of God and register as a nonprofit corporation according to the dictates of the state? Does the pastor encourage obedience to civil authority and patriotism? If he does not, he will be made a pariah, won't he Rev Wright?

The state is the only collective that can lay claim to your whole substance and make good on its claims with violence. To some extent, all other collectives are potentially subversive and must be rendered suspect or, in the alternative, interpreted in individualistic terms so as to temper their hold on their members. You have a personal relationship with God, don't you, rather than being one member in community of the Body of Christ? See the difference? You are a consumer more than a citizen. Your children are supposed to grow up and become independent, and you don't want to be a burden on your children when you are old, so you work through the state to educate your young and secure retirement security. No need for multigenerational families here or any family form that makes people less dependent on the state.

In this view, collectivism can be a revolutionary force for liberation from the state. Voluntary cooperative and collaborative activities can supplant the "functions" of the state, and we might be able to see the state for what it really is.

Edwards' Adultery Totally Different From McCain's

Mrs Vache Folle is a Democrat. She reckons that John Edwards was a big giant douche for running for the Democratic nomination after he had had an affair. It was bound to come out, and the Democrats would have been screwed if Edwards had been on the ticket. Democrats, I would note, are held to a higher standard than Republicans when it comes to adultery. Otherwise, Edwards would not be in the news for an affair that ended some time ago at the same time that J Sidney McCain's own behaviors go largely unremarked. I reckon the Republicans are just relieved that McCain cheated with a woman.

Why is the Edwards affair so much worse than McCain's? Edwards cheated on his wife before she got sick, whereas McCain cheated on his wife after she had gotten disabled. Edwards didn't need to cheat as he had a perfectly healthy wife, whereas McCain's wife was broken. Edwards cheated with someone who was not as rich as he was and who couldn't really do anything to advance his career, whereas McCain cheated with a beer heiress who could fund his political ambitions. Edwards was just horny, whereas McCain had other, higher motives for his actions. If McCain hadn't cheated, we might never have had the benefit of his mavericky leadership in the Senate. The McCain marriage had to be sacrificed for the greater good. Finally, McCain was already contemplating dumping his broken wife and taking up with his mistress, whereas there is no indication that Edwards was thinking about dumping his wife. Edwards really faced no chance of being prosecuted for his adultery, whereas McCain bravely risked prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Edwards is a good looking man who is attractive to women, whereas McCain is a hideous troll who has to get it whenever he can,

Where Have I Seen This Plot Before?

Attaturk cleverly notices the similarities between the Russo-Georgian war du jour and a certain glorious undertaking by the United States military:

Rick Warren Freaks Out Christianists

Kos has an interesting post:

It turns out that Pastor Rick Warren's upcoming hosting of a joint appearance by McCain and O'Bama at Saddleback Superchurch has inspired a planned counterdemonstration in DC by Christianists who disapprove of Warren's call for Christians to be, well, more Christlike. Warren has been advocating the mobilization of the world's 2.3 billion Christians to fight poverty, work for peace, and minister to the world. This really pisses off the Christianist right leadership who reckon that Christianity should be more about hating than loving.

Seriously, if evangelical Christians actually started acting like Christians instead of actual sheep, there would be almost nobody left for the Christianists to lead. The Christianists seem to be "against" things, whereas Christians are known by what they are "for" and the fruits of their labors. I pray for an awakening among evangelicals that will allow them to cast off the false prophets that lead them astray and to live out the command of Jesus to love God and their fellow human beings.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pleasure Helmets

I'm wondering if it's possible to create a helmet that emits signals that focus on and stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain such that users would experience more bliss than is possible with the best drugs known to man. The device would have to have a timer since nobody could be trusted to take it off on their own. And you'd have to warn people not to drive or operate heavy machinery while using the stimulator. I reckon each stimulator would have to be custom fitted to the skulls of users. We'd sell them from kiosks in malls, the ones where Dippin' Dots used to be.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Observations and Predictions

The Rude Pundit had an intriguing idea. With their budget surplus, the Iraqi government could build bridges in the Twin Cities and rebuild New Orleans using Iraqi contractors and workers exclusively. I would add that they could send over some soldiers to keep the peace during the political conventions this summer. They'd just be returning a favor. They could help us rewrite our Constitution and prevent sectarian violence.

Why is Newt Gingrich in the public eye again? Perhaps a wooden stake should have been employed for everyone's sake. What if he's constantly on the TV with his fat face and smug pontificating all the time? Give him a show on Fox and get it over with. Better yet, put him on CNN up against "The Factor" and bury Bill O. We'll all be stupider for it.

Please let Joe Liebermann be J Sidney's running mate. That would be entertainment! Everybody knows Liebermann's the real Antichrist. The scheme is to get in on J Sidney's non-Antichrist ticket. kill off J Sidney and take power, and then get the apocalypse started. I hope the postapocalyptic dystopia is more like "The Postman" and less like "Road Warrior". One thing I know for sure is that we'll really miss the Jews. Boy are those folks who expected to get Raptured going to be pissed.

How can the Russo-Georgian War affect me, other than by making me sad? I suppose there is the possibility that this thing could spread within the region and that the US could get involved. Inspired by the Ossetians, the Kurds might ramp up their rebellious activities and bring down the wrath of the Turks. The Perisans would have to mobilize, and that would make the Iraqis and their American overlords nervous. Next thing you know, the Russians are in Baghdad, the Pakistanis and Indians have nuked each other, and the Chinese have taken Taiwan. NATO splits apart, and the Germans and Russians divide up Poland between them. France invades Italy and Spain, checked only by the Royal Navy. The US seizes the opportunity to invade Canada and is repelled. British troops take Washington and burn the White House, including the President's stash. Turkey enters the Balkans, checked by a newly expanded Austria and some guys from Venice. That's how I see it playing out. Oh, and Mexico takes back Texas and California.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Earth First

Up until lately I've been of the opinion that if I had to live under a government, then the smaller and more local the better. If I can't be self governing, then let me at least be governed in the smallest polity possible.

My IBIL, among others, has made me start to rethink my position. He favors more local control because he resents the federal governments' interference in authoriratian measures taken by states, eg civil rights legislation, ending private slavery, protecting folks from discrimination, etc. He sees local rule as a chance to establish an authoritarian dream state. He's not alone, either.

How can it be that raving authoritarians and libertarians both yearn for local control with such differing expectations? Why in the hell did I ever think that local control would mean more freedom for me? My neighbors have shown an easy willingness to tax the shit out of me and impose all manner of burdens on me with the limited political influence they now exercise. If they had even more power, I'm almost certain they'd use it not to protect my liberties but to keep me from exercising a lot of them. And I'd have no recourse but to flee to what I might vainly hope would be a more liberty loving polity, if I were allowed even to do that. Doubtless, the thugs who controlled ministates would collude to deal with troublemakers like me.

I am beginning to think that One World Government is the way to go. Here's my reasoning, inspired by alcohol and anithistamines: if war is the health of the state, and there is only one state, then that state can't have war and won't be robust. If there are no national security issues, then all issues will be domestic and less subject to hysteria and secrecy. If there are no countries to be proud of except one, then patriotism will not work its insidious black magic on the minds of the governed. No borders mean no need for border control or immigration departments.

I want some day to be able to accuse people I disagree with of being "unterran". That's my right as an earthling.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


Another concept that gives me fits of peevishness is "sovereignty". If one is "sovereign", one is in principle answerable to no higher authority. A sovereign nation is free to do what it wills within its own borders and to take action in international affairs according to ts own perceived interests. Of course, nations aren't ever really sovereign; only rulers of nations are. Nations are just ideas; rulers are real actors in the world. Their sovereignty is a matter of degree depending on how powerful the other purported sovereigns are at the moment.

I am supposed to care about the sovereignty of the US government for some reason and to be alrmed when it cedes its sovereignty in international agreements. Remember, though, that sovereign rulers can abrogate any such agreements at any time they please, so they never really give away their sovereignty. I don't get anything out of US government sovereignty since I'm just one of the serfs, and I know that, whatever the rulers may want me to think to the contrary, I have no actual influence on the government such that temporary cessions of sovereignty have no impact on my civil rights or political power. Oh, I'll probably get screwed in the bargain, but that's going to happen no matter what, and the sovereignty argument is not going to get me anywhere.

Powerful governments don't have much use for arguments about sovereignty. They enjoy the benefits of actually having the power to do as they will and find that the concept of sovereignty is just an obstacle to their ambitions.

If Only There was a Pill to Cure Legitimacy

The concept of "legitimacy" is intriguing to me and troubling. I suspect that it will be one of the primary tasks of the revolutionary intelligentsia to unravel the concept and problematize it. Meanwhile, it's bleeding me dry. For example, my neighbors within the Carmel Central School District, the smallest political subdivision to which I am subject, extort from my household about $10,000 per year to pay for the coercively organized school system. I pay it because, if I do not, I will be evicted from my home. If I resist eviction, I will be kidnapped or even killed. And the vast majority of my neighbors will regard these consequences as fitting and proper. They will not consider the employees of the school system parasites, the school board as extortionists, or the sheriff as a murdering thug. Yet, that's how I see them. That's what they really are at the core without the legitimizing fiction of the school district. My neighbors will view me as a tax dodging criminal rather than a defender of freedom.

It's not that the denizens of the CCSD are especially stupid or evil; it's just that they are deluded. It is not possible for them to see things from my point of view because my point of view defies "common sense" and all the propaganda and apparent social structural relaity that they have experienced all their lives. Of course, we must have schools. They must be paid for. What do you mean coercively and violently organized? Where's your tin foil hat? Don't you see that you benefit from the schools as much as anyone else? That's legitimacy.

Or take the Town of East Fishkill to which I am also subject. The Town extorts much less than the school district, for which I am thankful, but it extorts money for many downright frivolous purposes. Of course, we must have a full time official town historian on the payroll for whose salary we will compel you to contribute under pain of forfeiture of property or loss of life or freedom. Of course, we must put flags on every telephone poll in summer and wreaths in winter at your expense whether you like it or not. And thanks for your involuntary contribution to our gnarly Independence Day fireworks display. To question the propriety of these things is unheard of. They are not problematic in any way. Rather, I am a nutter for raising these non-issues. This is what towns are for, isn't it?

I am permitted to question the level of taxation, within reasonable limits, and to argue whether this expenditure or that is appropriate, but I may not question the propriety of taxation in the first instance. I may not characterize public expenditures as involving threats and extortion. I may not ask my neighbor whether flags on telephone polls are so important to him that he would threaten his neighbors with a baseball bat to get money for it.

"Legitimacy" means accepting as virtue that which is clealry vice.

Steel Wave

I just finished Jeff Shaara's "The Steel Wave", a novel about the invasion of Normandy in 1944. It's a breezy read told from the perspective of various participants: Eisenhower, Rommel, a paratrooper non-com, an infantryman, etc. It has lots of maps and is informative about the operation as well as being entertaining.

As with the first book in the series, I was really taken by what backbiting weasels the generals were and how Eisenhower's greatest accomplishment was keeping them from screwing each other over and losing the war out of spite for one another. And in spite of his best efforts huge mistakes that prolonged the war were made apparently just to keep Field Marshall Montgomery from having a hissy fit. The civilian authorities and high command on the Allied side were competent and left the professionals to their jobs for the most part while Hitler and his sycophants in the high command insisted on losing the war. Also, it turns out General de Gaulle was a total self promoting douche of no value to anyone.

Despite Hitler's weak grasp on reality, the Germans made an issue of it after all and might very well have repelled the Allied invaders. According to Shaara, the American infantry wasn't all that capable and the paratroops had to be called upon to lead the way as foot soldiers even though they were exhausted. The Allies made many a blunder and had difficulties coordinating air, land and sea power. Patton was something of a hero in the narrative, albeit an asshole of monumental proportions.

For all I know, this is all baloney, but it seems to jive with what little my kinsman who were in Operation Overlord told me.

The question that bothers me most after reading both of Shaara's WW2 novels is whether the war up until 1944 hadn't been a complete waste of time and resources. The Americans had wanted to invade France from the get go, but the Brits had insisted on coming up through Italy. For nigh on two years, the Allies fought their way through Africa and up into Italy to more or less a stalemate while being no closer to defeating the Germans. And the Allies still had to mount a perilous invasion of France. It could be argued I suppose that the African and Sicilian and Italian campaigns were valuable practice and on the job training, but what a costly education!

Was it concern that the Soviets would get the job done first that finally led the Allies to risk an invasion? Shaara does not suggest this at all. He does suggest that some German officers wanted to treat with the Americans and join with them against Stalin. One of my uncles told me that a lot of the men in his unit expected to continue fighting right into Russia once the Germans were taken care of.

What a different world we might have had if the Allies had sucessfully invaded France in in 1942 or 1943 instead of fighting in Italy. They might have beaten the Soviets to the Baltics and ended the war with no Warsaw Pact states. The invention of the atomic bomb might have been delayed, and the US might have been spared the stain of the terror bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course, they might well have failed disastrously.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Cats Beat Baylor!

I wasn't on the high school football team, but one of my best friends was, and I escorted his girlfriend to away games from time to time. I had lots of school spirit and would cheer myself hoarse at the games. If it sounds as if I were an utter dweeb, that's because that's what I was.

Anyway, my junior year (1974) the football team wasn't so great and went into the last game of the season with a record of 4-4-1. They faced the prospect of an unprecedented losing record. Worst of all, their opponent was Baylor Prep, a prep school in Chattanooga whose seniors had never lost a game in four years. If there had been a bookmaker around, my money would have been on Baylor.

Those rich private school kids had a football stadium that some colleges would envy, and they fielded over 60 players compared to my school's 40 or so on the travelling squad. And they were fracking huge to boot.

To make a long story short, the Catamounts managed to defeat Baylor narrowly and salvage their season. The jubilation on our side was more than matched by the complete disappointment and despair that the Baylor seniors expressed. I saw monstrous linemen weep like babies. I was happy for my friend and for the couple of other football players who were not total douches. I was happy that some public school slobs from a mill town could beat the preppies on their own turf. I knew that those guys on the football team would never again have the upper hand in life when it came to their prepster counterparts. Not until the revolution, anyway.

I'm pretty sure my friend got laid that night.

Who is Calling Whom the Antichrist?

I'm not as up on the End Times jargon as I was back in the 70s when Hal Lindsey explained everything, but there's a McCain ad that some interpret as implying that Barry O'Bama is the Antichrist ( If the ad is meant to suggest to Christianist nutzoids that O'Bama is the Antichrist, then it's another boneheaded move by McCain's retarded campaign people.

Christianist nutzoids are apt to vote for Obama or at least not vote against him if they reckon he's the long awaited harbinger of the Apocalypse. After all, this is God's plan, and if O'Bama is the Antichrist who are they to try to thwart God? And if O'Bama is the Antichrist, wouldn't it be best to elect him right away and get on with things so they can be raptured and stuff?

It would make more sense for McCain to claim to be the Antichrist himself if it's the nutzoids he's after with this ad.

By the way, Paris Hilton has better campaign staff than McCain.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Libertarians Who Suck

I have known my share of what Kevin Carson refers to as "vulgar libertarians" but whom I simply call "assholes" or "douchebags" as the case may be. They purport to value "individualism" so highly that any kind of cooperative or collaborative activity, other than what is done in the form of a business corporation, is anathema to them and decried as "collectivism". I confess that I am a collectivist. I have been known to play team sports, to sing in a choir, and to engage in activities with other human beings that involved cooperation and collaboration and adherence to group norms. I enjoy these things (not as much as some others since I am sometimes socially phobic), and I engage in them voluntarily. I value social responsibility, and I would like to think that this value guides my choices. If some individualistic asshole doesn't share these values, that's his privilege. He's still a socially irresponsible asshole, and I am under no obligation to approve of his socially irresponsible choices.

Let's take the inconsiderate bastard who drives a Hummer out of spite. I regard him as less virtuous than someone who drives a more fuel efficient vehicle, and I may use his choice of vehicle as a marker that indicates that he is an asshole whom I need not waste any time getting to know. That's my right. I have values, and I express them and act on them just like he does.

He also lacks virtue in that he is the kind of "libertarian" who turns other people off to the cause. Lots of people, when they think "libertarian", think about an asshole like the Hummer driving jerk. His social irresponsibility does a lot to set back the cause of freedom. He is worse than a statist, and he does for libertarianism what the Catholic League does for the Roman Catholic Church, that is to discredit it.

I recall an on-line discussion with some anarcho-capitalists who had written a piece about socially responsible investing and how it was irrational. I remarked that if one subjectively valued social responsibility, then such investments were perfectly rational. They conceded, oddly enough, that in their research they had not even considered the possibility that anybody would invest on any other basis than return on investment. I reckon it was a real mind bender for them. There seemed to be an unstated metaphysical assumption at work that the only proper basis for investing would be the raw return, that a purely individualistic calculus was the only proper way to decide anything. This is, however, a normative proposition in and of itself, an unexamined subjective preference that colors anarchocapitalist analyses. Douchebaggery and assholery are core virtues. They don't play well with others and reckon that nobody else should either.

What's Wrong with Saving Energy Voluntarily?

Barry O'Bama was correct that properly inflated tires and well tuned engines would save fuel. You don't have to be a motorhead to understand that. O'Bama suggests a perfectly cromulent nongovernmental, voluntary measure to save fuel, and the GOP, the supposed party of personal responsibility and small government, ridicules it.

There's lots we can do as Americans to reduce our dependence on oil. Small measures undertaken by lots of individuals add up to big savings. Turn down the heat and turn up the A/C even one degree, and the national savings would be significant. Unplug appliances that drain power even when not in use. Don't drive like an asshole with jackrabbit starts and lots of braking. Combine trips. Carpool. Turn off the lights when not in use. Don't be a douche; buy a fuel efficient vehicle. When did frugality and good sense cease to be virtues in America?

There are some larger steps that could be taken as well to achieve dramatic savings in energy consumption. If businesses and governments went to a four day work week, the reduction in commuting related consumption would be huge. If businesses and governments embraced telecommuting, that would help. Businesses and governments could help employees match up with ride sharing partners. They could subsidize employees' use of mass transit as a benefit.

I have to travel for depositions and hearings from time to time, and often the other participants have come long distances as well. The technology exists to permit video conferencing and keep all the parties off of planes, trains and autos. Let's encourage that whenever we can. Let's have court proceedings via video conference whenever possible. Let's have fewer in person business meetings and more vidoeconferences and virtual meetings.

Governments could do things to encourage frugality and good sense. For example, establish more HOV lanes and lower or eliminate tolls for carpoolers. Establish tolls for lone drivers on primary commuting roads. Stop subsidizing sprawl. Stop building roads and infrastructure that encourage long distance commuting. Change or eliminate zoning laws that are obstacles to denser development closer to business centers. Eliminate prohibitive property and school tax regimes that price residents out of communities closer to their places of employment. These measures mostly entail government's butting out of things.

From UU to Dutch Reformed

For many years, I considered myself a Unitarian Universalist, and I attended a number of UU churches. They were each unique, but their members were by and large among the kindest and most tolerant people I have ever met. UU churches have members who are atheists and members who are Christians, but all of these folks that I have encountered strove to embody brotherly love. I knew UUs whose creed was love for one's fellow man and for God, however you might envision Him or Her, with no expectation of eternal reward. This life is all there is for you, and there is no better way to live it than by following the teachings of Jesus.

Many UUs were, like me, refugees from a stultifying fundamentalist background. We wanted to believe in something but not the crazy, hateful stuff that the Bible Thumpers preached. In a UU church, the Sermon on the Mount would get a full hearing, while the Ten Commandments would generate little interest. Occasionally, you'd get a whiff of smugness, a feeling that some UUs reckoned that they were intellectually superior to their fundie counterparts. This was forgiveable since it was objectively true, and the vast majority of UUs would never berate others for being less intelligent. UUs are pretty much all qualified for MENSA but would mostly be too humble to join such an organization. Intelligence is, after all, a gift of God, so there's no sense in being proud of it.

I have often wished that my own Christian denomination would stand up for peace and toleration and brotherly love like the UUs do. The Congregationalist Church we attended in Bronxville was a lot like a UU church, and if its members weren't all so superannuated might have worked for peace.

When we moved to Dutchess County, we tried a UU church over in Poughkeepsie. For the first time ever in my experience with UU churches, nobody greeted us or seemed to take any notice of our presence. We couldn't even find a seat. The congregation including a large percentage of mullet sporting lesbians, and the proceedings seemed to be devoted entirely to gay issues. We continued our search for a church. We love gays, and we are open and affirming, but we aren't much interested in taking on gay issues to the exclusion of others. Plus, I don't like mullets.

Now we're Dutch Reformed. All because the UUs in P'town had mullets. At least I am. Mrs Vache Folle, on further consideration, has decided that she is an atheist. She hasn't renounced membership in the church or anything; she just doesn't believe in God any longer and no longer attends church services. Ironically, I reckon it was her experience in our church that pushed her over the edge. Our small group leader was pretty much a legalistic fundamentalist, and Mrs VF had never encountered such a phenomenon and was unprepared for it. I know that the membership in our church varies considerably from fundamentalist on up to the most liberal Christians you could hope to find and that the spirit of love and unity maintained in the church keeps the fundies in check. We keep them busy doing good, and they don't have much time to run around renouncing other people's sins.

We first attended a UU church in Charleston, WV. Mrs VF told me on the way to the church that it was the Unification Church or some such thing, and I was aghast that we were going to a Moonie church. I was relieved to find an oasis of reason and love in an otherwise pretty stupid and judgmental part of the country. I recall one of the elders explaining that the Unitarians and the Universalists had joined together because the Unitarians had reckoned that mankind was too good for God to condemn, while the Universalists had reckoned that God was too good to condemn mankind. You end up in the same position, so why not join forces?

UU jokes:

UUs believe in, at most, one God.

When the Klan terrorizes a UU, they burn a question mark on his lawn.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Wherein I Rebuke Meddling Child Manipulating Douchebags

If you have anything to do with children whose parents are divorced, one thing you should never do is talk bad to them about either of their parents or try to set them against one of their parents or try to diminish their respect and affection for one of their parents. Anyone who does this ranks among the douchiest of the douchebags in the universe.

This really puts the kids in an awkward and hurtful situation and will ultimately make them resent you when they figure out what a toxic piece of shit you really are. They probably get enough of this from one or both of their parents without your adding your self centered douchebaggerry to the mix.

Stay out of it. Don't take sides. Put the interests of the children first for once in your life. It's not your divorce. They're not your kids. If you are affiliated with one of the parents, let that parent know that it isn't cool to try to alienate the affections of the children from the other parent. Don't enable or cooperate in such behavior. Even if one of the parents pisses you off, don't take it out on the kids by screwing with their little hearts.

Why am I even writing this? Meddling, child manipulating douchebags will be meddling child manipulating douchebags no matter what.

Drinking Was Just a Symptom

There's this guy I've known for 25 years who just accomplished 18 plus months of sobriety, and I can't begin to say how happy I was that he had gotten clean. The whole time I have known him, except for the recent sober period, he was a drunk, And he went on a total, balls to the wall bender that lasted a couple or three years. I was sure he was going to drink himself to death. I was sure that was the idea.

Anyway, the guy had a lot of personality problems that I had always attributed to his drinking and being drunk most of the time. First of all, he was a lazy assed lump who never lifted a finger around the house and could rarely be coaxed to pay any attention to his kids, especially if it involved any effort. Secondly, he was afraid of the world and kept throwing up irrational obstacles that prevented him from doing what he claimed that he really wanted. First, it was kids. People who have kids can't do anything, right? Then it was building up a nest egg that he could never possibly build up in a hundred years that stood in the way of his dreams. Then, of course, he was mostly unconscious. Now, he can't really do anything until he erects a windmill and sells enough power to the power company that he can live off the power company checks. I'm not kidding. Thirdly, he was an uninformed dimwit. Fourthly, he was never responsible for anything; everything was always somebody else's fault and he was doing what he had to do with no choices.

It turns out that the guy still manifests these traits even when he has been sober all these months! His drinking just made me excuse it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Are you SWAT Material?

This test will determine your aptitude to be a police officer on a SWAT squad.

1. What is your IQ?

If you answered with any number greater than 105, you are completely disqualified. You'd never be satisfied with the pointless work in the company of complete dunderheads. You may stop now.

2. On a scale of 1-11, with eleven being the highest, how big a douchebag are you?

If you answered less than 9, you're disqualified. Only the top 5 percentile of douchebags are SWAT material. Even number 8's on the douchebag scale can't stand to work with these guys, and any less of a douchebag would never be able to do the crap they do.

3. Are you a sniveling physical coward whose cowardice is only "overcome" by the extent of your douchebaggery?

If, so, you are SWAT material. You'll wear full armor and carry weapons way more powerful than your job requires, and you'll mostly be going up against unarmed and unsuspecting citizens as you raid their homes in the night for no good reason. No danger to you, and lots of chances to terrorize helpless people.

4. Are you a sociopath?

If so, SWAT is for you.