Sunday, November 22, 2009

Climate Change Fraud Uncovered

Usually when proprietary data is stolen and published, it is the left attempting to discredit the right. One of the reasons for this is the far left bias of most of the press. But in the last decade a combination of the blogosphere, talk radio, and fox news have broken the strangle hold that the left had on the news. This means that stories that would have been ignored in the past get to see the light of day. And it has happened again.

A hundred odd megabytes of emails and files from one of the centers of man made global warming "research" were stolen and published on the web. The contents are shocking, but not particularly surprising. They show that the people calling themselves climate scientists are actually just big government activists who will lie, cheat, and steal to show a single, biased, inaccurate point of view. Here is one of the many articles discussing the scandal.

Bottom line, these jokers were caught cherry picking data, using mathematical trickery to provide misleading conclusions, threatening editors of scientific journals for publishing alternate points of view, destroying evidence called for by Freedom of Information Act requests, and generally conspiring to print conclusions not backed up by the data.


Is the globe warming up? Well, it was for a while, but hasn't for the past decade. Has human activity been responsible for some of the warming that was occurring? Possibly, but the case certainly hasn't been made. Should humans work to reduce pollution? Of course. Do we know how much of a reduction it would take to have an impact on the climate? Clearly not. Have we even established the "best" temperature for human life on this planet? No, not really.

Perhaps, someday, we will have the computing power, programming expertise, and sufficient data collected to truly model our weather and climate. But we aren't there yet. And those guys know we aren't. To me, this scandal demonstrates that climate change legislation is a lot more about politics than science.

I'll believe in anthropogenic global warming when the people who are telling me about anthropogenic global warming start behaving like they believe in anthropogenic global warming.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Exciting News from the European Union

This article was quite fascinating and delightful.

It discusses the first President of the European Union. Apparently Europeans don't get to vote for their president. After all, we can't have IMPORTANT positions decided by the LITTLE people. The whole democracy thing. So . . . . common. At last Europe can get back to being ruled by those born to the job.

Herman van Rompuy, a serenely uncontroversial, 63-year-old Belgian centrist, became the EU's first president, but the big winner was Baroness "Cathy" Ashton, an obscure New Labour quangocrat who landed the job of High Representative for Foreign Affairs. From the far corners of the couple's unruly new empire came an encouragingly harmonious chorus of: "Qui?" "Wer?" "Chi?" "Who?"

Ahh, the equivalent of the Secretary of State position for all of Europe. Someone supremely well qualified to lead, probably behind the string pulling Europe's power brokers.

Cathy's curriculum vitae is a spirit-sapping recitation of posts held and causes served, far from the rigours of the real world. Born in Lancashire, she has been a "vice chair" of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, founded an organisation to promote equality in the business world, and served as vice president of the National Council of One-Parent Families. Given a life peerage in 1999 by Tony Blair, she was sent to Brussels last year as a replacement for Peter Mandelson. Married to the former journalist Peter Kellner, now head of a polling organisation, she has two children and three stepchildren.

"Baroness Ashton is ideal for her new role," says Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party. "She has never had a proper job, and has never been elected to public office."

I also read down into the comments section and noticed some interesting observations.

And so we are reduced to the role of the people of the Soviet bloc back in the days of our struggle against totalitarian socialism.

Their role in the political process was not, as in democratic societies, to elect, remove, and hold accountable their leadership, but to READ IN THE NEWSPAPERS THE FOLLOWING DAY what the leadership had decided for them.


A very disturbing compromise. It is as clear as crystal that the franco-german axis has got the other 25 states by the balls. Shut UK up by choosing a Briton who does not have a clue about most things political. Satisfy the poor rest of the members by appointing as president somebody for whom certainly no traffic will stop even if he is on a pedestrian crossing. The next step will be to ensure that the economic and financial powerhouses of the EU on the Commission and at ECB will be manned by faithful french and german bankers and politicians. That is the Lisbon treaty for the rest of us.

I know that a lot of progressives think we should be more like europe, and aspire to european governance. Stuff like this shows me just how wrong they are, and lead me further in my belief of American exceptionalism.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the use of the word "terrorism".

So an Army Major named Hasan goes nutjob jihad and kills and maims a bunch of his fellow soldiers. Immediately the partisan divide opens. The left pretends that this is an entirely random act of madness. The right proclaims that the left are being a bunch of weenies, afraid to use the word terrorism. As well as engaging in the same kind of political correctness groupthink that allowed his bizarre behavior to be ignored.

One of the problems with this overall discussion is with the definition of terrorism. To me, terrorism is the deliberate targeting of civilians to intimidate a population into a particular kind of behavior.

When most people think of the word terrorism, they think about an organized group acting together to complete a plan. 9-11 is a perfect example of that. AQ did planning, fund raising, training, had secret communications and meetings, and executed a successful operation.

That's different from some guy going into his basement, grabbing all the guns he can find, screaming Allah Akbar, and shooting up the people around him.

Sure, there are problems with Muslim leaders preaching "kill the infidels", but they aren't specifically working with the psycho killer. They are just providing an environment that makes the behavior politically or theologically acceptable to some. The two kinds of terrorism are very different.

An organized group of terrorists opening fire on groups of civilians in different cities on the same day is organized terrorism.

Not so much for the Ft. Hood whack job.

I think equating the two does a disservice both to Islam and US Homeland security. It is reasonable to expect Homeland Security to stop an organized, coordinated attack. Not much you can do about a lone gunman attacking a soft target.

It is even questionable whether the Ft. Hood attack can even be considered terrorism. Hasan attacked a military target, not a civilian one.

While I agree Muslim leaders should be much more clear and vocal condemning both the attack and the voices who support the attack, I think it is also reasonable for the media to be restrained and clear about the use of the word "terrorism".


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hairy Dreams

I've long been fascinated by the concept of directed dreaming. While I haven't read as much on the subject as I would like, I understand that some folks can control the subject matter of their dreams by concentrating/thinking about in a particular way the subject about which they wish to dream.

Before I had read about the concept I personally experienced it. In grade school I read a TAB book about a kid who found a bottle full of magic liquid. When he rubbed a drop on each shoulder he grew wings. Eventually he used up the bottle, rubbed just a bit of residue off the sides onto his shoulders, and got a single feather to have as a keepsake of the experience.

I REALLY liked the book, and the night I finished it I had a dream about having wings, and flying through a hole to the center of the earth. I woke up distraught that the dream was over. The next night I focused on the dream before going to sleep, and was able to partially recreate the dream. Very satisfying. And I didn't feel a need to experience the dream again.

Perhaps when life slows down a bit I will take the time to experience dreams of my choice.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hypocrisy of the Left on Law and Order

For the past couple of weeks the news has been full of demands from the left that Bush administration legal advisors be tried and jailed for their opinions on enhanced interrogation techniques. Our country was in an apparently novel position.

If we capture a soldier fighting our nation while wearing a uniform, we have rules about how that Prisoner of War is treated. All that the soldier has to provide is his name, rank and serial number. It is our obligation to provide the prisoner with a clean, dry place to stay, and adequate food and medical care.

If we catch a US citizen trying to help an enemy of the US while in this country, then that person receives full rights under the constitution of the United States, and must be proven guilty in a court of law. Once the suspect invokes their Miranda rights they can’t even be questioned without their attorney present.

But suppose some of our soldiers are in Iraq conducting a security sweep. They raid a house that is suspected of being a headquarters of a terror cell. In the house they find bomb making equipment, and a spot on the floor where it is obvious that 5 completed car bombs had just been moved out. We catch a guy in civilian clothes running out of the house, and it turns out he is Abdul bin BadGuy, a known bomb maker from Yemen, and reputed head of the local Al-Qaeda cell.

What rules apply to this guy? He clearly isn’t automatically entitled to POW protection. He was not a soldier in uniform performing a military role. He doesn’t seem to be entitled to a trial in US courts. Heck, there isn’t any evidence you could use in a court of law to convict him. He was just leaving a house that happened to have bombs in it. No actual proof that he was involved in any way.

This is a military operation. It’s part of an act of war in a war zone. So the troops go up through their chain of command and ask for guidance. The prez goes to his legal staff and asks for opinions. His legal staff says – you can question them aggressively, but you can’t torture them. OK, so what is torture? The answer comes back, you can cause them pain. You can make them afraid. You can lie to them. You can’t do any physical damage. Put them in a cold room and let them shiver? OK. No pulling out fingernails. Let them think they are going to drown, but don’t actually deprive them of enough air that they actually pass out. Make ‘em cry, but don’t let ‘em bleed. After all, it is reasoned, these are the things we do to our own troops when we are training them.

The left disagreed with this assessment. Some on the left probably opposed the practice solely because the Bush administration was in favor of it. Doubtless there were many reasons for this. Some believe that this treatment can be defined as torture. Seems to me that this devalues the term. It’s kind of like the bumper sticker “War is terrorism.” For most the difference is obvious. Terror is the deliberate attack of civilian targets. War, at least these days, is an attempt to compel by force, but done in a way to minimize civilian damage and casualties. All civilian death is not ethically equivalent. But that is a side issue. I really don’t want to get into a discussion of the definition of torture. This is going in a different direction.

It seems to me that that this exemplifies one of the more interesting differences between left wing brains and right wing brains. People on the left care less about law and order, are more likely to engage in “ends justify the means” thinking, disobey the law, and even cheat on their taxes. There are lots of studies out there that support this. About a year ago I saw a couple of studies that tracked kids who cheated on tests and adults who stole from work or cheated on taxes. The scofflaws and cheaters were much more likely to come from the left side of the political aisle.

But it’s not just the anti-social acts, it is the attitude toward authority. This was unusually well documented earlier a few months ago when a study was done on the case of Scott v. Harris. I commented on this phenomenon in an earlier post Create a Crisis.

In this case the police were chasing a drunk driver (Harris). The high speed chase was caught by the dash cameras of the police cars. Eventually the police considered this chase too dangerous, and one officer (Scott) attempted to run the drunk off the road. The drunk’s car rolled, and he was paralyzed in the crash. He sued the police officer for using unnecessary force. The Supreme Court watched the dash video and, except for the most liberal member of the bench, found that the police acted lawfully. The drunk could not collect medical expenses, and pain and suffering damages, from the police.

As a generally conservative person, I thought “Right On!” It seemed absolutely obvious to any reasonable, thinking person. But my opinion was not universally shared. A research group asked 1,350 people what they thought of the police actions. The original study can be found here:

A good summary and analysis of the study can be found here:

To my dismay and amazement lots of people think that the cops were wrong - That they should have just let the dunk keep driving. And the people who felt that way were more likely to be politically on the left and members of racial minorities. They apparently just don’t think breaking the law and running from the police is all that bad. That the criminal’s life should not be put at risk, even when they are putting the lives of others at risk.

Now we get to the tricky bit.

These very same leftists – the ones who oppose three strikes laws, who want felons to be allowed to vote, who think that immigration raids should not be allowed, who think Harris should have gotten big bucks for being run off the road while running from police, who think the bro should NOT have been tazed - want mere THOUGHT with which they disagree criminalized.

And THAT is the hypocrisy of the left that I find so troubling.

I was listening to the Medved show the other day (a conservative radio talk show), and he was talking about how MUCH the left wants to put Bush’s legal advisors in jail. The gave their opinion that aggressive interrogation was legal, but in the eyes of the left, because they believe torture resulted, that the legal scholars are apparently guilty of torture. They were never in the same room as the prisoners. They didn’t pour a teaspoon of water on the face of a terrorist. They didn’t watch it. They didn’t order it. They just said they thought it would be legal. And for this the left wants them tried and jailed.

One caller to the Medved show was just sputtering with outrage. He sounded like a white, gay male. And he was so utterly convinced that the enhanced interrogation techniques were torture, that he believed the legal advisors were deliberately lying about their belief that the interrogation techniques were OK. It was just not possible to him that anyone could have an honest opinion that disagreed with his. So they MUST have been deliberately committing the crime of torture.

And this was almost certainly a guy who fits my liberal “weak-on-law-and-order” profile. Let the criminals go, take power away from the police, but jail those damn right wing Bush administration conservatives for THINKING that waterboarding was not torture.

Ya know, I might find it difficult to fathom how he could possibly be so foolish as to hold his opinions, but I don't want him slammed into prison for having them. Apparently another difference between the left and right. The right is generally more tolerant of alternate opinions.

Diversity on everything except thought. The battle cry of the left.

Pure hypocrisy.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Demonstrating a sustainable life style.

I'll believe in anthropogenic global warming when the people who are telling me about anthropogenic global warming start acting like they are worried about anthropogenic global warming.

"Michelle Obama is first presidential wife to have full-time make-up artist on tour"

Now that is lip gloss with one hell of a carbon footprint. Just how many tons of CO2 were released into the air by the extra weight of a makeup artist for a relative of the Messiah on Air Force One?


Saturday, April 11, 2009

I wonder if he made Biden eat the anchovies?

Ahhh, it is so wonderful to be the leader of the free world. Or is that just ruler of the world. And to be able to eat what you want, when you want it.

When you're the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do - even if that means flying a chef 860 miles.

Chris Sommers, 33, jetted into Washington from St Louis, Missouri, on Thursday with a suitcase of dough, cheese and pans to to prepare food for the Obamas and their staff.

He had apparently been handpicked after the President had tasted his pizzas on the campaign trail last autumn.

Boy that slice must have had one hell of a carbon footprint.

But this must mean the recession is over. After all the messiah would rub it in the face of all of the little people in the unemployment lines. Oh wait. Government spending IS stimulus. Oh thank you mighty leader for spending so frivolously!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TSA abuses the rights of Ron Paul representative.

This one has to be heard to be believed. A Ron Paul campaign worker was carrying about $4,700 in donations in a metal box onto an airplane. The TSA security guys asked him why he had all that money. The RP guy asked if he was required to answer the question.

This seems perfectly reasonable to me. The police may be entitled to ask my name and address, they can ask for my ticket and learn where I am going and from whence I came, but who I work for and why I have money is my own business.

This guy had an mp3 player or smartphone with him, and he turned on the voice recorder. You can hear the audio here:

This was chilling. "Answer our questions or we will take you to the police station." "We won't tell you if you are required to answer." "If you don't have anything to hide you should answer." Hello, civil liberties violation.

It is my understanding that if the cops pull you over and start asking personal questions, that you don't have to answer. Simply exercising your constitutional rights does not provide probable cause to detain you in and of itself. How much power does TSA actually have?

It's pretty clear these guys were arrogant, poorly trained, and not very bright. Of course having union member government employees was supposed to protect us from this kind of nonsense. Right.

OK, so you legal eagles out there - are we required to give TSA answers to personal questions? Can we be legally detained or arrested for simply carrying around 5 grand and then refusing to provide answers about it? Can they legally prevent us from getting on a plane if we don't answer personal questions?


Oh yeah, and cudos to the Ron Paul supporter for sticking up for his rights. I have had some harsh things to say about RP and is supporters for some of their out there positions, but this guy was absolutely right on. It took a lot of guts and patience to do this.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who wears the pants in the family?

From none other than The New York Times.
[quote]When President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meet for their standing Friday lunch engagement, Mr. Obama always picks the cuisine — a subtle break from previous administrations in which the president and the vice president typically ordered off a menu, and a reminder, if any was needed, about who is in charge. “The dietary bar is set by the president,” said Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s chief of staff.

It really makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. What a controlling jerk.

So if Barry Obama wants Thai, everybody has to eat Thai.

The white house has a chef. He has nothing better to do than cook whatever the President and his guests want. Would it really be so bad if Joe had a pork chop sandwich while BO was having macrobiotic rice? Heck, if they are meeting once a week, why can't Joe phone in his order in advance? It's like taking the kids to a food court at the mall and demanding that everybody eat exactly what you are having.

And yet this is symptomatic of a wider attitude among progressives. They want to tell us what to eat (transfat ban), what to drive (black cars may be getting banned in CA because people might run their auto air conditioners), how long or hard of a shower we can take (I ripped the damn lowflow blockage right out of my showerhead).

We should all be very, very concerned about an administration that is so driven to tell us what to think and how to act in our daily lives. It is going to get much worse before it gets better.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joseph & Son, Fine Furniture

Driving down the road today I saw the old bumper sticker “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter”. Oh yeah, Jesus was a carpenter. That led me down a path of thinking about the improbabilities of the things religionists believe. I have always thought the whole “trinity” concept was more than a little hard to swallow. It looks like a compromise designed by committee. Not necessarily they way you want to build the most powerful religion in the world. But that’s how they did it.

One of the things that led me away from the faith of my fathers was asking the practical questions. OK, so Jesus was the Son of God, and a carpenter. Huh. According to the Bible, he KNEW he was the Son of God. That whole scene on the cross where he was, well, cross with his dad. God. Well at what age did he become aware that he was a deity? He went around performing miracles. Curing lepers, spontaneously generating loaves and fishes, walking on water, good stuff like that. That stuff had to start somewhere. Maybe it had an impact on his apprenticeship.

I can see it now: Joseph and Son, Fine Furniture. Was that the sign above the door? Poor Joseph, trying to teach his son, the godling, how to use a lathe or a planer. “No dad, I don’t have to do it your way. You’re just my adopted dad. My real dad would just use a miracle to make the wood smooth.” That would go over big in Roman times.

I can see the complaint department now. Some big fat hairy guy like me buys a cabinet. I’m not happy with it so I try to return it.

Hairy: Hey, this crappy cabinet is defective, the door doesn’t shut right. I want my money back.

Joseph: I’m sorry to hear that sir, we’d be happy to take a look at it. Jesus, come out here and take a look at this cabinet you made. The door doesn’t shut correctly.

Jesus: What are you talking about? Everything I make is perfect.

Hairy: If it’s so perfect, how come the door doesn’t close all the way?

Jesus: It was perfect when I delivered it to your house.

Hairy: Well it’s not perfect now. Maybe you are exaggerating your abilities with a hammer, kid.

Jesus: Hey, it’s a cabinet not a chair, maybe you sat on it you fat bastard.

Joseph: Jesus, how many times do I have to tell you: “The customer is always right.”

Jesus: Aw dad . . .

Hairy: Yeah, who died and made you King of the Carpenters . . .

And can you imagine the relics? Whoa, what a treasure trove that would be. Yes, this milking stool was assembled by Jesus himself. And over here we have a window frame that Jesus personally shimmed. Of course would a window frame made by the Son of God need a shim?

One wonders about how Jesus decided to change careers from carpenter to Messiah. Perhaps I will save the conversation with Joseph on that one for another day. Just think – “Religion? You want to give up carpentry for religion?”


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What it Means to Not Support the Mission.

Well, it looks like the Obama administration has backed off its proposal to have our troops pay for their own battle wound treatments through their private insurance. What a horrible idea that was. A cook joins the reserves. He's a patriot and wants the extra cash. He gets activated and sent off to war. Overseas his truck hits a land mine and blows his leg off.

That's the kind of guy we REALLY need to care for.

But apparently Barack REALLY doesn't support the mission. Because if you are on a mission started by a Bush, then the government shouldn't have to pay for your artificial leg. Nope, the insurance at Joe's Diner needs to pay for it.

And the Democrats wonder why they are called un-patriotic.

When I first read this story, I was hoping that it was somehow wrong. That it wasn't Obama personally proposing it. That the American Legion representatives misheard something. Or maybe it was being interpreted unfairly somehow.


It really was His O-ness. He really said it himself. When the Legion folks asked him about the ethics of the proposal, he diverted the conversation to the money he could save the government.

Oh yeah. He supports the troops. Sure.

So despicable I can barely stand it.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Obama Administration to Charge Wounded Veterans for Their Care?

This is from the American Legion. I consider them to be a pretty reliable source. Apparently the VA is going to be directed to send the bill for battle wounds to the private insurance companies covering vets with private insurance. You know, National Guards and Reservists who work outside of the military. This means that small business owner vets could find it very difficult to get health insurance, and private employers could be less likely to hire them. As little respect as I have for Obama, this is possibly the most disgusting thing I have heard from the administration yet. If this is what it appears to be . . .

The whole article, I don't think the Legion will object:

Mon Mar 16, 5:49 pm ET


Contact: Craig Roberts of The American Legion, +1-202-263-2982 Office, +1-202-406-0887 Cell

WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."

Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.

"I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future.

"I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander.

SOURCE The American Legion


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Create a Crisis

For decades one of my favorite rhetorical questions has been “What’s the first rule for expanding a bureaucracy?” The answer is “Create a crisis.” My friends, family and colleagues are probably sick to death of me using this line. So it was with a certain amount of vindication that I heard Rahm Emanuel (Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (still having trouble getting my mind around that one) freely acknowledge that the Democrats wanted to “take advantage of” our current financial crisis to push forward their political agenda.

Some have suggested that this is a great conspiracy, and the Obama administration is deliberately sabotaging the economy. There is no need for a conspiracy. They just don’t really care about the economy. They have other more important things to do: re-ordering our society into a model that they prefer. Having a convenient economic crisis just helps with that process.

Sure they have to give lip service to worry about the economy. A lot of the people who are getting hurt are the left’s core constituencies – the poor, minorities, women. But when you get to the thinking class of the left, not the “my family has been union democrats for 5 generations, not the “I’m black so I’m a democrat crowds, but the people who think they are intellectuals, you find a consistent set of core values that differ greatly from the ideals that made America great.

To begin with, they hate wealth. Even if they are wealthy. Particularly if they have become suddenly wealthy, or didn’t have to earn their wealth. These are the lottery winners in the show biz and music industries, the silicon valley wunderkind, and the children of the rich and powerful who never had to work a day in their lives. They don’t all have to have wealth. They just have to think they are better than the people around them. They love (or claim to love) abstract art, complex (generally meaningless) novels, and art films. Particularly if they have subtitles.

And when you sneak into their parties, catch them in unguarded moments, or when they post anonymously on the web you hear their true feelings. America’s greatest sin is its wealth. It doesn’t matter that we have a higher standard of living than anywhere else on the planet. It doesn’t matter that we are the source of more science, technology, innovation, and progress than the rest of the world combined. What matters is that our rich make more money than our poor. They anguish over economic booms where the rich get richer faster than the poor get less poor. It is the DIFFERENCE between the more and less successful that bothers them the most. The idea that it is not FAIR that rich are SO MUCH richer than the poor, or even the average. This is the social injustice that they would do anything to end.

So silently they cheer at the greatest destruction of wealth ever committed by an American President.

The general pain is worth it just to take the really rich down a peg or two.

But it is not just the rich they hate, it is the richness of America. Just as they silently cheer when the rich become less rich, they cheer when the whole country is lowered. Because it is just not FAIR that most of the world lives in poverty when we have more than anyone else.

Of course they just don’t get it. They way to get the rest of the world wealthy is to make them more like us. Whaddya know, capitalism actually works. But they don’t think like that. Instead they use their new great buzzword. Sustainability.

Sustainability is the new code word. What it really means is – From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. But here is how it is being used. We should all live lives in a way that only uses the earth’s resources that can’t be used up. You can use oil, as long as it is limited to what naturally bubbles to the surface (calling Jed Clampett). Don’t cut down any trees that are more than 100 years old. Oh yeah, and if they fall down on their own you can’t recover them. The bugs, mushrooms and bunnies all use deadfall for their natural habitat. No strip mining, no fossil fuel generation of energy, no nuclear energy, no new subdivisions, no factories that have emissions of pretty much any kind, and most of all no cars. Of course they want to drive around in their hybrids, live in their single family houses (it’s better for THEIR kids, after all), as long as they can salve their conscience by buying “offsets”. (Asking other people to have crappier lives so that they can have nicer ones, but that hypocrisy is a subject for another day.)

They want fewer human beings living simpler lives in a way that is “natural” and doesn’t disturb the earth, or threaten the existence of other creatures in the biosphere.

They probably don’t even put words to these feelings in a lot of cases. They just look about them at the teeming cities, exploding world population, and burgeoning technology with quiet, superior loathing.

And this is there big chance to move the country (and through it the world) in the direction they want. In order to suppress growth they must control the means of production and education.

Education must be fair. All students going to identical schools teaching identical approved curricula. Of course all children must go to college. Health care must be fair. All patients receiving exactly equal medical care. Wages must be fair. All people belonging to unions, receiving the same wage, with increases based on nothing but seniority. No one should profit from the work of others. All products should be priced based on what the consumer can afford to pay. No wealth passed from generation to generation. It isn’t fair that some start with more than others. Let’s not even get into The Fairness Doctrine (you know, the Hush Rush bill).

If we all start with nothing, all live simply, all work together and share, then our way of life is sustainable. Global warming (excuse me, the globe has been cooling this decade, so let’s call it Climate Change) has always been just an excuse. But now they have a better excuse. The financial crisis.

And how are they accomplishing this goal? By slamming through legislation that is so big and so fast that no one has time to read it, let alone consider and debate it. There is no way in the world that most of the proposals in these big “emergency” packs of legislation can stand the light of day. Let them be examined and debated, and they would wither and die. But we have a crisis. So we get to take advantage of it. And tip the scales in the direction of fairness. Of progressive ideals. Of sustainability. Against personal achievement. Against profit. Against success. Against progress.

It’s not a conspiracy. It doesn’t need to be. It is a movement.

And with this crowd the end justifies the means. They are so sure that they are right, that the rules don’t apply to them. And you can see that in the entire attitude of the left toward rules and crime. Aside from the obvious examples of not wanting to call illegal aliens “illegal”, wanting to let felons vote, opposing three strike laws, and generally labeling our legal system racist, there was a great example of this the other day.

The supreme court recently ruled on a case involving dash cam video from a police car. Some miscreant led the cops on a high speed chase through neighborhoods, school zones, stop lights, parking lots, etc. Eventually the cops got fed up and bumped his car off the road. The car went rolling, and the criminal ended up paralyzed. (Note to lefty readers, he was no longer a suspect, he was a criminal. He was on camera running from the cops. That’s a crime. He is a criminal.) Naturally he sued the cops for unnecessary roughness. Unbelievably some lower courts gave this loser the time of day, and the Supreme Court justices apparently watched dash cam video, some reportedly never having had the experience previously. Predictably a couple of the more liberal justices thought that the cops were wrong. Fortunately for reason’s sake the majority agreed that he had it coming, and the cops acted appropriately.

Some think tank showed the dash video to a cross section of people. If you were poor, ethnic, or liberal you were more likely to think the cops used excessive force. If you were middle class, white, and conservative, you were more likely to let your jaw drop with stunned disbelief that anybody could think the cops should pay the loser. To the left, law and order is just not as important to the more conservative among us. To the left the rule of law, the words of the constitution, even the concepts of right and wrong are flexible ideas to be used to move their agenda forward.

How do you expand a bureaucracy? Create a crisis.

The left tried to do it with global warming and were having some success. A real crisis has come along, and nobody in the Obama administration is doing anything to deal with it. The left is perfectly happy using it to move the agenda forward. And if a few people get hurt in the process, that’s too bad. But the downsizing of the assets of the rich and the opportunity to have all of us experience lower standards of living is a price that they are more than willing to pay.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Brief Thoughts on Abortion

The problem is with the extremists on both sides of this issue. This is a case of competing rights. Both the fetus and the mom have rights. For the first couple of months after conception the fetus has a very limited humanity. It has not yet become an independently thinking sentient being. In the last couple of months prior to birth it is clearly more of a baby than random cluster of cells. It is thinking, feeling, learning, laughing and crying.

We have all seen plenty of activists who equate fertilized embryos awaiting implantation with an adult person. I recently had a fascinating conversation with a "pro-choice" zealot who asserted that as long as the baby was attached to the umbilical cord, even after birth, it was nothing more than a part of the mom's body to do with what she willed. Including bashing its head in with a rock.

The American people are generally in the middle. Abortion is a bad thing. It's not that big of a deal in the first tri-mester. Third tri-mester abortions are wrong. But only the people for whom this is "their" issue are driving the debate.

We would all be a lot better off if we could get the debate focused on the circumstances under which second tri-mester abortions should be considered. Where is the point where the fetus becomes a thinking being whose rights begin to seriously compete with the mother's?

My personal preference would be to only allow 2nd tri-mester terminations if the life (not just the psychological comfort) of the mom were in direct jeopardy with a hard diagnosis of a limited number of conditions. But anything that stops partial birth horrors would be more than welcome.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Feed Them to Make Them Dependent

I was listening to the Medved show today. He found a poll that suggested a majority of Americans believe that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to feed people. That's just stupid. It's certainly not in the Constitution. People have a responsibility to provide food for themselves and their families, they don't have a right to food. There can be charity for the truly disabled, but that's not what we are talking about.

The last thing in the world we SHOULD want is to be dependent on the government for our food. There is no more direct path to tyranny. Yet from foodstamps to regulations on transfats (to protect us from ourselves) that is right where we are headed. A free society is not necessarily a safe society. We all have the right to make our own bad decisions. This crap about my bad decision maybe indirectly impacting someone else at some point in the distant future is also a sure route to tyranny.

Yeah, but the dems want it that way. They have really hashed the educational system. But that builds their power base. It's funny, you have the liberal elite who believe they should run the country deliberately creating a dependent, ignorant underclass. It really is diabolical. So they do not teach the ideals of the founding fathers and the relationship between freedom, security, and tyranny.

The Hairy Urchins would certainly be ignorant of this threat if I did not take the time personally to talk about the founding fathers, and the wisdom of limited government. In fact writing this just evoked a lecture for The Hairy Urchins. Their comment? "Wow, that's really dark."

Excuse me, but I think I am going to go for a drive without my seat belt. Officer Pony Tail? Officer Chrome Dome? Look out, I am on the loose. Who knows, I might wipe myself out and cause your insurance rates to go up.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Press That Doesn’t Learn From (Its Own False) History

I am struck, although not terribly surprised, that the press is unwilling to learn from the history it synthesized.

Looking back on the run up to the war in Iraq, it was pretty clear that the US public really wasn’t entirely satisfied with the invasion of Afghanistan (where?) as a response to 9/11. Saddam was pretty clearly a very bad guy. He had lost a previous war, and was failing to live by the terms of the truce. He was not letting aid get through to his people, shooting at our airplanes, committing atrocities against the Kurds, funding terrorism, giving safe haven to terrorists, and by all appearances working on more weapons of mass destruction.

So Bush made his case for going to war, rather weakly I thought, and most people thought it was OK to go kick Saddam’s tail. Which he did very effectively. There were those in the press who objected to the war, but they were the ones who objected to anything involved with the military or the Republican Party. And no investigation could have found anything other than what Bush had told us. The press actually did its job reasonably well.

It was pretty funny, though. If you watched the war on CNN, it looked like the US Army was going to lose. We were over extending our supply lines, facing an army that was more competent than we thought, shouldn’t have invaded when we were denied access through Turkey, and about to be gassed any minute by Saddam. If you watched the war on Fox, we were brilliantly leapfrogging across the country and crushing the evil tyrant, with crowds of children throwing rose petals in front of the treads of our tanks. Neither was entirely correct.

But when the WMD’s didn’t show up, and the war bogged down with an insurrection, it was the chance for which the lefty/progressives had been waiting. Time to go after the evil, war monger, military industrial complex controlled, Jesus freak, Republicans. Texas Republicans at that. This was their moment to re-write history. The only reason we went to war was because they, the noble and normally diligent press, had let down the American people. If the press had just done its job, and uncovered the obvious Republican lies, then the evil war could have been stopped. The press must NEVER let down its guard again.

OK, so I think that this re-writing of history was particularly inaccurate, but most of the mainstream press seems to at least espouse this theory. So if it is vitally important that the press really, really, really check out presidential initiatives, how have they done lately? Have they been following their own advice?

Amusingly, no.

There has never been a less thorough vetting of a serious presidential candidate, than the one Barack Obama received. Even parts of the press have come to admit that. The Ombudsperson at the Washington Post recently gave the Washington Post a failing grade for objectivity and thorough investigations of Obama. Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin both had more “investigative journalists” diving through their dumpsters looking for dirt, than Barack Obama. While Obama was occasionally asked about Jeremiah Wright, not once can I recall his ever being asked about the beliefs of his church, Black Liberation Theology. It’s not just a question of whether he believed what one priest said, he should have been asked if he believed in the basic principles of his church, and what they meant to him.

Now it looks like we dodged a bullet on that one. He pretty much stopped going to church as soon as he got elected, and may not have any sincere beliefs in the church he attended in Chicago. We can but hope. On this score I would MUCH rather have him be a lowlife, pandering politician, going to a church he doesn’t care about to get votes, than a true believer in Black Liberation Theology. Doesn’t say much about his character, but still, an improvement.

There are another dozen examples of subjects that were under investigated in the Obama campaign.

Now we have the Porkapalooza “stimulus” package. Yet again, there has been no meaningful investigation of what is even IN the bill, let alone the impact it will really have on the economy, or the entirely partisan way in which it was passed.

I hope the economy gets better. My personal life and job are negatively impacted by the economic downturn. I am not rooting for the economy to tank, for a political advantage to conservative/libertarian goals. But I don’t’ think the stimulus is going to help. It’s going to make things worse, and could easily lead to a big fat hairy wave of inflation. Maybe even stagflation.

That leads me to wonder if the press will be introspective again. If they will realize that they have repeated the errors of their past. That they have again failed to investigate the biggest stories of the past year. And that it is their fault that harm has befallen our country.

Probably not.

So for Bush, they falsely claim that they didn’t investigate thoroughly, and will never fail to investigate again. For Obama they will not notice that they actually failed in their responsibilities, and that they did bring the nation to harm.

A bitter irony.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Saga of Officer Pony Tail

Sometimes life gets a little complex. First, the background. The Hairy Mrs. and I drive older autos. We live in Washington State, where cars have to have emissions inspections every two years. For the past several years the business that I manage has had rough times, largely due to increased Federal regulation. It has taken all of my energy to keep that going, and sometimes my personal life has had to slide a bit. One of my jobs, as the man in the family, has been to take care of the autos. A couple of years ago, the Hairy Mrs.’ auto flunked its emission test.

That means that we, and by we I mean I, had to take it in to the shop, figure out what was wrong, pay to have it fixed, take the vehicle back to be inspected again, and then take the new test results to the license plate station, to get new tabs. There were other, more pressing issues. I told The Hairy Mrs. to avoid cops until I could get around to it.

About a year later, it was my car’s turn to be emissions tested. I didn’t think that I should take care of my car before I took care of The Hairy Mrs.’ car. So I started avoiding cops too. I didn’t do as good of a job as she did. I got pulled over by Officer Chrome Dome, and was given a ticket for expired plates. I didn’t bother to tell The Hairy Mrs., figuring I would just take care of all of it at once. Plus if you get new plates, you don’t have to pay a big fine for the expired plates ticket.

Things got busy.

I didn’t get the emissions test. I didn’t get the new tabs. I didn’t pay the ticket. I didn’t make it to the court date. I figured my license had been suspended and a warrant had been issued for my arrest. So I REALLY started avoiding cops. And I didn’t tell The Hairy Mrs. For a year. Once you get past a week or two you get kind of a false sense of security.

One day The Hairy Mrs. was on the way to pick up The Hairy Urchins. She called the oldest Urchin and cryptically said that The Hairy Urchin should call The Hairy Buddah, and say that a substitute pickup was needed. No explanation of why, no call to The Hairy Buddah.

So The Hairy Urchins were deposited at The Hairy Home, and The Hairy Buddah went in search of The Hairy Mrs. (I know, that’s a lot of hair).

Turns out The Hairy Mrs. had been pulled over by the dreaded Office Pony Tail. Officer Pony Tail was fresh out of the police academy. She stood about 5 feet nothing, had a sweet, heart shaped face, and looked a little lost in the uniform, bullet proof vest, and Utility Belt with gun, tazer, mace, handcuffs, ticket writing book, and other sundry implements of law enforcement. And she had caught her first major criminal, The Hairy Mrs. As it happens, having tabs that expired more than 2 years previously is a misdemeanor in Washington State. So Officer Pony Tail had to call her supervisor, none other than Officer Chrome Dome. It took over 30 minutes for Office Chrome Dome to arrive. During that time The Hairy Mrs. was experiencing a wide range of emotions – anxiety, fear, confusion, irritation, impatience, and anger. A lot of anger. At least I had made sure that she had her mandatory insurance card with her.

Now I had a HARD deadline. Everything had to be FIXED before The Hairy Mrs. was due in court. It seemed likely that the prosecutor would be somewhat assuaged if The Hairy Mrs. Mobile passed its emissions test, and had current plates.

I decide to take care of my car first, so that I could (more) safely drive around taking care of her car. On my way to the Vehicle Emissions Testing Station, I passed two cars that had been pulled over for some infraction or other. I figured this was my lucky day, as others were clearing the way for me, sacrificing themselves and distracting the long arm of the law. To my amazement, my 20 year old Detroit POS had clean and minty fresh breath. I could now get fresh tabs for my plates, and be less likely to avoid the attention of John Law. At the Emissions Testing Station I learned that the two year old test on The Hairy Mrs.’ vehicle had also expired, and it had to be tested again.

Then I got creative. I took my car to where The Hairy Mrs. car was parked. I was going to pick up the new tabs for my car while driving hers. I wanted her engine to warm up so that it might have a better chance of passing the Emissions test. Now this was just stupid. There was no way her car was going to pass the test. The Check Engine light had been on for the last 2 years. That is an automatic fail. The less time I spent in that car, the better. But I was in her car, on my way to the License Plate station.

It turned out this was not my lucky day after all. Who would I encounter at a stop sign, but OFFICER PONY TAIL! She IMMEDIATELY recognized The Hairy Mrs.Mobile. It has a very distinctive shape (it’s an old cop car), and amusing personalized plates. I could SEE the License Plate station in front of me. I could SEE Officer Pony Tail turning around behind me. I ZOOMED into the License Plate station, popped out of the car (if you can consider “popping” something that can be accomplished with wheezing, grunting, and groaning), and headed for the door.

Officer Pony Tail popped out of her car (no considerations needed), and accosted me in the parking lot. She looked at me, looked at The Hairy Mrs.’ long expired plates, looked at the door of the License Plate Station, and decided not to decide. She needed to call fo back up. To stall for time she told me that I couldn’t be driving that thing. I agreed, and said that I was there to FIX it.

Now I am sweating bullets (oddly appropriate given the circumstances). I had an expired drivers license and likely a warrant out for my arrest, for failure to appear. For expired tabs on The Hairy Buddahmobile. She let me go in to the License Plate station, and called for backup. Officer Chrome Dome.

There is quite a line of people waiting for their plates. They all look out the door. Two cop cars blocking in their vehicles. “What is going on?” they ask. “Oh, that’s just me” I sheepishly admitted. My plates are expired, and they are probably deciding what to do with me. I get the “you poor man, glad it’s not me” look.

At this point I realize that I don’t have the paperwork I need for plates for her car. I was just planning to get the plates for my car, and then go get her car emissions tested. Her paperwork was on the front seat of my car. I was just a few blocks from my office, so I called a co-worker, and asked him to quickly bring the papers. It was entirely possible that Officer Pony Tail and Officer Chrome Dome might come to the conclusion that I had ducked into the License Plate station to simply avoid Officer Pony Tail, and that I BETTER have the needed paperwork pretty quickly.

I told my co-worker where I kept my emergency car keys in my desk, but forgot to tell him to drive his own car over. (You wouldn’t think that someone sufficiently organized to keep emergency keys in his desk would get into this kind of fix in the first place, but there you go.) My car still had expired tabs. Fortunately he came in his car and gave me the papers before anything else happened.

Then Officer Pony Tail, after consulting with Officer Chrome Dome, heads for the door. Now I am expecting to have to give my (expired) drivers license, have it run, have the warrant discovered, and be drug away in cuffs, in front of everybody in the building. No, she just wants to inform me that she is NOT going to give me a ticket, but IS taking the plates off of the car. FINE with me!

Wouldn’t you know it, but neither Officer Pony Tail, nor Officer Chrome Dome, had a screwdriver. It took them about 20 minutes to get the plates off with a pocket knife. I didn’t think it wise to offer them the screwdriver from the emergency kit that I placed in The Hairy Mrs.’ car some years ago. (Again with that organizational conundrum.)

Now some of the other citizens trapped in the License Plate station are getting a little anxious. Officer Chrome Dome has been spending a lot of time on his radio while Officer Pony Tail has been working on The Hairy Mrs.’ car. A black gentleman in a 3 piece suit said “Are they running plates, out there? They better not be running plates out there. This is the License Plate station.” Perhaps I was not the only person in the building who was avoiding the Constabulary.

Finally Officer Pony Tail completed her task, re-entered the building, handed me the screws that had been holding in the plates, and left with her trophies in hand. It was my turn in line.

Then came one of the most amazing twists of fate. Because the plates had been expired for more than 2 years, it was as though the vehicle were being registered for the first time. It was not the year that vehicle was required to get emissions inspected. I was given new plates without having to pay for back plates, or have an emissions inspection. I KNEW that car could not pass, that it was and is pumping toxic fumes into the atmosphere (my apologies to the Goracle and Mother Gaia), but I had new plates. For both vehicles.

So I took the screwdriver out of the emergency kit, put the new plates on The Hairy Mrs.’ car, drove to my car, put the new sticker tabs on my car, and was finally safe from the attentions of Officer Pony Tail and Officer Chrome Dome.

Now to deal with the courts.

Have I mentioned that The Hairy Mrs. experienced some anger? Only a tiny portion of it was directed toward Officer Pony Tail and Officer Chrome Dome (they didn’t actually deserve any anger, but that is the nature of The Hairy Mrs.). I was clearly expected to visit the court, deal with the prosecutor, show the paperwork, make the explanations, and to take care of The Hairy Mrs. misdemeanor ticket before dealing with my problems, and (hopefully for her) dragged off in chains to experience my just desserts. (mmmmmm dessert).

But first we had to attend a previously scheduled party of our friends. One of whom is a retired County Mountie. A former officer of law enforcement. As the entire saga of Officer Pony Tail was told, the room filled with howls of laughter. At my expense. Deservedly so. None laughed harder than our own County Mountie. As a group they decided that they were going to take off work, and appear in court to act as character witnesses at our hearing. The Hairy Mrs. Was Not Amused. It would have been unlikely that their statements would have been of significant assistance. The phrase “life in prison without possibility of parole” came to mind, after their offer of “assistance”.

The day of court was a stunning anti-climax. They had dismissed both of our cases. Just too minor to deal with. Apparently Officer Pony Tail and Officer Chrome Dome are only called in to court for serious moving violations, or for people who don’t have insurance.

If you simply ignore an expired tabs ticket, it just magically goes away.

No warrant had ever been issued for my arrest. A quick check online showed that my drivers license had automatically been taken off suspension.

Leaving us secure in the knowledge that we would never, ever, ever, ever let this happen again. And by we The Hairy Mrs. meant I.

Two weeks later our friend the County Mountie was pulled over by Officer Pony Tail for expired tabs.


What Do You Believe?

In a continuation of the discussion with a friend who is an Obama supporter, I pointed out some porky and inappropriate spending in the Porkapalooza "stimulus" bill. And he said the most amazing thing:

"You've got to think that for every bad item listed, there are probably nine that make sense. I can't prove that, it's a hunch."

And this from a friend who claims to be a believer in the philosophies of Robert Heinlein (RAH, the person whom I most admire). Heinlein's writings supported a belief in self reliance and personal responsibility, coupled with a distrust of government. He also had some interesting thoughts on the roles of men and women, but more about that later.

Anyway, my friend then said something with which I agree - "I worry, though, when people start talking about "adding safeguards" to make sure money is spent "appropriately." It usually involves forcing a belief system on someone else. Of course, the alternative is that they spend the money on new fleet cars. But when federal money has all kinds of strings attached to public schools, for example, administrators and teachers have to jump through hoops to keep what little money they're entitled to. Bureaucracy just sucks. I think everybody agrees on that, unless they have a government job, and even then..."

Great, buddy! You are on the right track! But you support Obama? He wanted to avoid a political discussion and said - "I think it's hard whenever there are people who seem to be intelligent who reach different conclusions with the same data. Makes people argue more vigorously because they can't seem to understand why the other person didn't already think this already."

To which I said:

I agree that smart people can come to opposite political views. It doesn't make them more or less smart. People of good conscience can disagree. I do find SUBSTANTIALLY less tolerance on the liberal/progressive side of the equation, hence Bush Derangement Syndrome.

I can tell you are smart by the quality of your posts. What I have trouble with is your internal inconsistency. You claim to be a believer in RAH's philosophy, but you voted for an out and out socialist. This isn't a theory any more based on BO's voting record and political past, it is an easy to draw concludion from the "stimulus" porkapalooza. I think it was pretty clear in the election that McCain favored smaller government that BO, so I find it intellectually inconsistent that an RAH believer could support Obama.

Look at what you just said: "You've got to think that for every bad item listed, there are probably nine that make sense."

Why on earth would you possibly think that? Even if something in Porkapalooza was a good idea, it is vastly unlikely that it would be a good thing for the FedGov to do. 9 out of 10 ideas in that sense are going to be BAD. Yet I bet you have said that you support Porkapalooza.

And yet you say that bureaucracy sucks. You can't be tolerant of socialism and be a supporter of BO and think that. Because he will massively increase bureaucracy at the expense of freedom. That is how bigger government works. They say that they are protecting you, but you must give up freedom to obtain that protection.

I believe that our current society is too "safe" and insufficiently free.

I bet you do to.

But somewhere along the line you drank the Kool Aid.

OK, I will leave you alone. You have said a couple of times that you don't want to engage on political stuff, and I will respect that. But I think you need to re-examine what you believe. I don't think you are supporting politicians and causes that are reflective of what you say you believe. So you either need to recognize that your beliefs have changed or change the politicians and causes you are supporting. Cuz you head and your heat are fighting with each other.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bush Derangement Syndrome and Stem Cells

In a recent correspondence with a new friend, he suggested that W was a bad president for banning stem cell research. I found this misrepresentation of the president's position deplorable, so I responded -

OMG. You didn't say stem cells. Tell me you didn't say stem cells. At this moment you remind me of an unfortunate character in a WB cartoon who has stumbled into a mass of rakes. With each step you take to get away from one, you step on another to have it smack you in the face.

W did not stop stem cell research. I bet you think he did. He did not stop embryonic stem cell research. Surely, you say, he must have done that! Nope. Guess again. You have fallen victim to Bush Derangement Syndrome. So help me, I am going to take away your access to the Heinlein wing at the local library.

Here is what he actually did. He put NO restrictions of any kind on private research. He said that there would be no FEDERAL FUNDING for EMBRYONIC stem cell research involving NEW LINES of stem cells. There were already a couple of dozen lines of embryonic stem cells upon which experiments were already being done, and those WERE eligible for federal funding. Research using adult stem cells, and I think cord blood stem cells was eligible for federal funds.

Bush said that he didn't want federal money used to encourage abortions. That taking stem cells from aborted fetuses would encourage abortion, as it would give inappropriate value to the fetus, and make abortion clinics more likely to encourage women to abort, so that they could sell the fetuses.

OK, I think his reasoning is a bunch of crap. I think that a first trimester abortion is not killing a baby in any meaningful sense. But I DO think that is an arguable position that a fetus is a baby at some point, and at some point acquires some rights. A "fetus" that is going to come out on its own in less than a week is more than just a piece of the mom's body. People of good conscience can disagree about when a child begins developing rights, and to what extent. W was going further than I would, but calling a fetus a baby is not entirely irrational, or a myth based superstition. It is a reasonable opinion, with which I disagree during the first trimester, but entirely agree during the third trimester.

Now we get to the federal funds question. We aren't taking about blue sky theoretical research here. That is the ONLY kind of research that I think should be getting federal funds. Big Pharma is going to make plenty of money from stem cell treatments, and they know it. Eli Lily and Pfizer are going to do stem cell research on their own. MS, Parkinsons, AIDS, Diabetes, and a host of other private charities are going to pump big bucks into University research studies. Stem cell research will be more than adequately funded without my tax dollars. Including Embryonic stem cell research.

Dude, you drank from the coolaid. You been runnin with the wrong crowd.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Apple Box Art

Shamelessly stealing from another blog I read, apparently there is a museum around here for Apple Box Art. For those readers from out of town, Washington State is world renowned for its apples. There are many competing farms and businesses that competed to sell their apples. One way of competing is packaging. Years ago apples were sold in wooden boxes. Growers would put distinctive labels on their boxes. Some of this commercial art is amazing.

A local car wash/gas station owner has created a small museum for this art in Kirkland, WA. If you are looking for something cool, local, and offbeat (particularly if you need a wash or a fill), then the Rose Hill Car Wash is worth a visit.

The Rose Hill Car Wash

Here is a video of some of this classic art. Note the related videos as well.

Apple Box Art Youtube Video

This is also a great school project, particularly for middle and high school students. It has it all, commerce, history, regional interest, art, and even collecting.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Starting an online humanist church.

An acquaintance on another board asked for suggestions for starting an online church. This produced Hairy Thinking.

I've been thinking about the internet church concept. I've played around with a couple that are out there, and haven't seen anything that worked for me.

There are so many sides to this. What do you want the physical setup to be? Will it be static web pages? Will it be a 3d avatar church in second life or golively? Maybe something with an active chat room, or even webcam rooms. If you wrote it down, you probably have some idea of what you want.

My initial inclination would be to go with a formula that works for traditional services. At least once a week, but at a regularly scheduled time, have an online meeting place of some kind. A camfrog room might work, if you wanted to have a video component but still keep it free. But each week have a structured service.

In the church of my youth, the pastor would begin with an invocation and a prayer. So you have a bunch of people in the chat room, and you tell them all to shut up, and look at the pastor's video window. You can watch the pastor preach, you can type comments, but he is the only one speaking.

You have probably seen my thoughts on prayer. I think humanism needs it. "We pray that our leaders find the strength, guidance, and wisdom to lead us in peace and prosperity."

Maybe a hymn/song. The pastor runs a youtube video of something that is appropriate for the day. Preferably something with karaoke style lyrics, so people can sing along. Each in his own key, of course.

Then a reading of a Humanism Creed. The creed gets read every service. I haven't seen one that I like yet. But we need one. Maybe select someone at random in the room to read the creed. That could be a treat.

Then the lesson. This could be a reading from a contemporary or historical humanist thinker. This is where we teach the congregation the history and application of humanism.

Time for another song.

Now, the sermon. This is the pastor giving his personal opinion on an ethical question, and telling the flock how to lead their lives.

Communion. I have no idea what to do with this. Let's see. In church it was praying for Jehova to come sanctify a light snack. I don't know. Maybe a group wave of positive thinking to psychically heal some sick person? Maybe everybody reflecting on becoming better people, and finding ways to improve the world. I dunno, that all sounds weak.

Final song, then the chat room just opens up for general socializing.

But a church needs more than that. It needs to actively work to improve the community. That means tithing, charitable works, volunteers, and actually DOING something as a church. Sponsor an orphanage, build a house, rehabilitate a drunk. Something.

People have responsibilities to their church. If they aren't supporting it, then they aren't serious about it.

Something needs to be done for the kids. If this were a brick and mortar church it would have the equivalent of sunday school. Teach the kids about famous humanists, humanist ideas, ethical behavior. Maybe take folk and religious tales from all faiths and cultures, and tales of personal sacrifice and bravery. I don't know how to do that online. But if you are going to get people to come every week, and to support the church, then it MUST be family friendly. It's all about the next generation.

I really think that there are a lot of parents out there who go to church for their kids. If we could give them the lessons for their kids without the fat, er . . god . ., then we could get a lot of followers. Particularly in more secular areas.

All of the lessons and sermons need to be available online. Maybe the entire service, but that might be tougher.

One of the greatest inventions of religion is the Catholics confessional. It is THERAPY. Find a way to do THAT, and they will come in droves. You don't have to give hail marys as pennance. Give them emotional work to do, and community service to make up for confessed misdeeds.

Churches do stuff this way because it WORKS. Too often I see humanists wanting to throw out the structure and effective parts of religion because they are so angry about the whole god business, and the negative things that some churches do. It's a lot like Bush Derangement Syndrome. Everything Bush did was wrong, everything is his fault, anything good that happened happened despite him. That's nonsensical. Every president does a mix of good and bad. Likewise, everything about religion is not bad. The structure, the ritual, the traditions of the basic church service WORK. They did the social research and refinement for us, lets use it.

On the subject of politics, the church should be apolitical. Don't piss off half of the potential constituency by going left or right wing. This is about personal behavior and community service, not about who is in the white house, or whether we should all join a protest march somewhere. Wearing politics on a sleeve is a giant turnoff from someone who is also wearing religion on the other sleeve. It suggests the arrogance of God is On My Side, and if you don't Vote Like Me, you are a Bad Person, who will Go To Hell or have Bad Karma.

Huh. That kind of got me wound up, didn't it.

It is OK to put your hands over your eyes and run away screaming now.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Love Thine Enemy.

On another board I was stuck by an unnecessarily vicious attack on the different major religious denominations in the United States. While I think of religion as nothing but superstition, attributing base motives to the followers and leaders of religious faiths is just plain wrong. So I responded to the attack thusly:

[quote]Human history does not reflect very many divine attributes to human endeavors.[/quote]

To me this was the most striking line in a particularly dour post. I get so tired of people choosing to attack the motivations of others with whom they disagree. The Protestants want to keep people from thinking, the Catholics deliberately plot to deceive their flock, humanity stinks. Most people, most churches, most church leaders genuinely believe in the honesty and "truth" of what they are doing. They aren't trying to secretively enslave humanity, they are trying to uplift humanity to a state of grace. You and I can certainly agree that they are misguided in the way they are trying to do this, but to suggest that it is done purely out of cynicism and guile is as misguided a belief as theirs.

Until you can see this "truth" you will never understand, nor be able to successfully argue against, their movements. By failing to see the the depth, sincerity, and positive nature of their messages, you give them far to great an advantage in our struggle of ideologies.

If you truly feel that human history does not speak well of humanity, then your belief in SH almost seems like the Xian equivalent of satan worship. If humanity is so bad, then you should be hoping that there is a god to save us from ourselves.

I see a different truth. A humanity that has its flaws, but is largely generous, hard working, noble, inspired, and inspiring. I run a division of a dozen people. With one exception they are kind, generous, hard working, and making the world a better place. They have no need of a god to tell them what to do, or to threaten them with eternal punishment for bad behavior. They are simply good people. That's why I am able to rejoice in my SH beliefs.

The history of mankind is a history of triumphs, progress, sacrifice. More so with each passing year. For every tyrant there are a dozen heroes. For every monster there are a hundred who are hard working and quietly noble. And for more triumphs than tragedies, the motivation of many is their faith in god. So disagree with it as a superstition that we are outgrowing, but denigrating it unnecessarily should be beneath us. The man was right who wrote "Love thine enemy."


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Science Fiction and Homosexuality

A discussion about a new science fiction series and the lack of gay characters in science fiction led me to some Hairy Thoughts on the subject.

Going to a lot of SF conventions and reading a lot of SF, it has always seemed to me that a disproportionate percentage of female SF fans and authors self identify as lesbian. But an awful lot of them seem to be of the overweight mannish variety. I have often wondered how many of the claim to be gay in order to seek out other unattractive women for "safe" relationships. If you are unattractive it is easy to want to avoid rejection by the men you find attractive. They are all chasing after the hot chicks. Plus SF offers and opportunity for both male and female gay folks to create and imagine worlds where they fit in.

Of course the primary demographic for SF is young men, so putting in a major male gay character has a very good chance of killing ratings.

Homosexuality is probably a genetically controlled tendency. As with many aspects of physiology and psychology, homosexuality is not a digital function. Most men are primarily attracted to women, but some men are sexually attracted to other men. To a greater or lesser degree. That means that some guys are only going to hook up with gals. Some may occasionally dabble in gay sex and relationships. Some will be attracted to anything with legs. Some will only be interested in other men.

As we unravel the genetic code we will figure out which genes in what combination cause gay tendencies. The next step will be to give parents the ability to select or eliminate different genetic traits. By the time we get to the far future of SF, it is entirely possible that gayness will be eliminated from the gene pool. Possibly it is most accurate to represent a purely straight future society.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Cube

In 1969 NBC had a show called Experiments in Television. It gave young directors a chance to put pretty much anything they wanted on the air. One weekend afternoon while I was still in grade school this show came on. Probably the only episode I ever saw was called "The Cube". It was about a man trapped in a cube. People could come in and out, but he was never able to escape.

Today I see it was a study of alienation and reality. Then it just blew my mind, opening up thoughts I had never before experienced. It made a huge impression on me. For the next 35 years I would periodically remember The Cube, tell others about it, and try to find it. In all probability it was just lost in the mists of time, but I continued to search for others who had seen it.

To my amazement I was not the only pre-teen out there who was profoundly impacted by this show. The internet has created an unprecedented means through which people of like (and unlikely) interests can connect.

We all had slightly different recollections of the show. I had misremembered the gorillas in tutus. I thought they were on trikes. Turns out they just danced around, and the next tormentor was a little kid on a trike. I had completely forgotten about the Nazis. But I remembered the chocolate bunnies, and most of all the strawberry jam. Everybody remembered the strawberry jam.

Hundreds of us have been bothering friends and relatives about this dimly remembered but profound experience. And now many of us have found each other.

There is a Yahoo group with over 300 members:

There are hundreds of ratings and dozens of comments on IMDB about it:

And now it is available in color, in its entirety, on the web:

So why am I posting this? Couple of reasons. First for fellow travelers who are still looking for The Cube. Second, to comment on the web's ability to provide quest fulfillment.

I have long noted the changes in our society brought about by our no longer being reliant on our physical neighbors. Many of those changes are bad. Most are wondrous. Like the ability to find like thinkers and fans of obscure subject matter. Sure we see the concentration of craziness (Ronulans anyone?), but good things are happening as well.

I have never seen anything like the fans of The Cube. There was such joy, relief, satisfaction, and fulfillment in finding that others felt the same way. Soon a black and white copy surfaced, and was sold on ebay. Then a color version surfaced. Lore was found (It was one of the most requested films at the Museum of Television in the Midwest). The show was created by Jim Henson, of all people. It may have been influenced by experimentation with LSD. And now anyone can watch the color version any time. Amazing.

But maybe there are lots of little quests and fangroups out there on the web. I just haven't noticed them because they are not one of my "unscratchable itches".

Does anybody have a feel for it? How unique is The Cube phenomenon? Is there anything else out there quite like it? Or is it just another drop in an ocean of web connections.

I feel as though the depth of passion around this finding is pretty rare. I talk to civilians about re-discovering The Cube and they tend to start edging away from me. There is no shared experience of "Oh Yeah, I had a similar experience this book, or this movie, or this song."

So I ask you, what childhood quest have you had fulfilled by the expansion of the web? Tell us your story.