Friday, December 18, 2009

Copenhagen Hectoring

Just saw Obama's speech on climate change in Copenhagen. Who is this speech intended for? Are a bunch of type A personality world leaders really going to be hectored into agreement?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Insidious Bullies

You know what one of the greatest evils of the world is? Bullies. Definitely within the top 3. Not school yard bullies. School yard bullies are nothing. I should qualify that, if you live in an inner city and your bullies are members of the bloods and crips then granted you have something to worry about. Run of the mill school yard bullies can ruin your day and steal your lunch money. They might make your life miserable for a while but they don't have the ability to make the lives of your family miserable. The bullies I loath, the ones that do real damage are the ones you end up working for, at least those of us who are not rocket scientists, don't have some killer talent people will kiss your ass for and never had any real ambition other than to get a decent paying skilled job that was moderately challenging. These bullies prey on us and not with threats of physical violence or verbal taunts. They prey on us with the veiled threat of hurting our careers, making us failures before our families, using their position of power to berate, bully and terrorize us because they can. We can leave anytime we want except we have taken the bait of stability and security to raise our families. We stay in a position because we don't want to take a chance, we are afraid to go elsewhere for fear of our families financial security. We also stay because after years of being blamed, abused, and terrorized we begin to doubt ourselves. How did we get into this awful position. We must be losers, we tell ourselves that is the only way to explain it. We see other people having successful careers and we blame ourselves because we have to. We can't change the boss, we can only change ourselves so it is our fault. We just did not work hard enough or smart enough. The fault has to be with us for that is the only variable we can control. "Change jobs go somewhere else" we hear. Yes our family is financially secure, uproot that and go somewhere else, take a chance. And if that chance does not work out, there are real consequences to deal with.

It didn't start out like this. If it had we never would have gone along. We started out full of excitement. We weren't going to change the world we were just going to make some decent money at something we kind of enjoyed. We weren't Michael Jordan, George Clooney or Bill Gates. We were however of slightly above average intelligence, hard working and mildly ambitious. So we went to college worked nights and then got our first "career" job. It wasn't what we wanted so we changed jobs. This one was a little better. It wasn't what we thought it would be but the money was decent and it was not bad enough that we wanted to leave. So we stayed. We had a few kids. The job became mostly mindless clerical work, our marketable skills faded, our mortgage increased along with all the other costs of raising a family. Things weren't bliss but they were ok. Somewhere in your subconscious we were thinking I'm stuck here, I can't leave anymore but every week we checked our 401k balance and told ourselves someday we would have enough security to do what we wanted. We didn't want to be managers. We liked problem solving, fixing things, figuring out how technology worked. We did not care about leading big projects and managing people. Someone did however. Someone loved managing people, loved telling people what to do and that someone would one day be our boss.

So 10 years in our life is going merrily along and then came the reorg. Suddenly one day the part of the business we support is being sold and we are given the option to leave or take a different postion. The severance offer if we leave is pretty modest since we only have 10 years in and we have all those mounting expenses at home so we take the new position and the new boss. There were some minor differences at first. This one was not as organized. This one did not keep track of things like when it was time for our evaluation. Then we started getting buried with work. We started getting request after request from many different people. So we went to the new boss and tried to work out a schedule to get everything done. Instead of working with us, the response was we needed to work smarter, work harder we were not putting in the overtime. Ok, so we have had tough bosses before. The first boss we had was a nitpicker who picked apart everything we did. We hated him at first, but he only had one goal, to get projects done the right way. As much of a pain as he was we respected him. We could work with him. This new boss has no interest in working with us. This new boss is almost as happy to have us as a scapegoat if we fail. Sometimes it appears we are intentionally setup to fail. Well that was life so we grinned and bore it. We kept up with the workload but just barely. Then during a particularly busy strecth we got behind. We worked 12 hour days during the week, and we came in on the weekend. Come Monday we were still behind and the boss called us into the office for a status update. Their mouth hung open as we told them things they should have already known. Despite having done everything humanly possible you were not going to be able to meet a deadline. Problems that came up last week that they demanded we fix put us hoplessly behind schedule. Then they turned red and started screaming at us. "What you mean you can't meet the deadline! You promised me you were going to meet the deadline! I don't want to hear it! Your going to meet this if you have to stay all night! Pull in whoever you need. Get this done! I don't care!". It went on like this, a blizzard of requests that we could barely keep track of let alone keep up with. So eventually we stopped trying to keep up. We started guessing what they were going ask us about and started working in such a way to give the appearance we were covering all the bases. We kept living in fear knowing that we would get caught from time to time for something that was not done, never knowing when this would happen. So we went on working, for years with periods of dull tedious tasks punctuated by periodic verbal beatings and beratings for things we determined were beyond our ability to control. One time, after a particular grueling couple of weeks where we worked ourselves to exhaustion only to be questioned about a project that suddenly had changed to high priority, we were accused of surfing the internet instead of working. We know this is made up since we had barely had time to eat lunch but after a few days of sheer anger bordering on filing a complaint with human resources we decide to shutup and take it. We endure miscellaneous other occurences, being accused of not doing anything right, being lazy, being stupid. We don't divulge any personal information as we see how it gets used. The one time we mistakenly confide that one of our children is having difficulty in a class at school we are told there are always "trade schools". When not being berated we are treated to long conversations with the boss about their personal problems, their childhood, their large house, the expensive colleges their kids are going to while we are wondering if this person is going to deliberately torpedo our career on a whim. We wonder if we will be able to pay for our childrens college, whether we will be able to spend time with our 14 year old at home that weekend as his own college days when he will be leaving us are just around the corner.

So we end up being 40 years old dragging ourselves to a place we hate day in and day out just hoping that today is another day we go unnoticed under the radar. We want every day to be part of the 80% or so of the time that we are not the pinata in the boss's sights while knowing like death and taxes that our time will come round again. And when it does we grit our teeth and try to get through it. You can feel your blood pressure rising, your body aging. You find yourself watching your kids getting older missing out on their lives as the stress and worry overwhelm the times you should be enjoying. So what do we get from this? 30 or 40 years of paychecks and a family that thinks you are distant and don't care? A thief takes things you can get back, bullies like this take things that can never be replaced. Whats worse is we let them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Avatar movie

I don't know anything about this movie other than what I have seen in a couple trailers. Still I feel that I already know the plot and how it ends. Boy is in the military, boy gets wounded, boy volunteers for unusual assignment that will let him walk again, boy gets sent to exotic planet that has some strategic value to the military, boy meets exotic girl who helps him become enlightened, boy aids girl in hopeless struggle against the forces of evil in the military he once loved. Maybe it is the greatest movie of all time, I just don't feel compelled to go see it. If someone does go see it maybe they can let me know if the plot is any better than I imagine it to be.

Tied Hand

This is why we need to get out now. This is also why you only fight when you have to and when you have to fight you don't pull any punches. The Soviets did not handicap themselves like this and they still lost. There is zero chance of winning this war under these rules. The only way to win it is not one that would be acceptable to the American people. Declare victory and get out now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

One Child Per

I saw this yesterday. It strikes me that the simplest way to do this is to STOP SUBSIDIZING PEOPLE WHO CAN'T SUPPORT THEMSELVES! For the last half century the giant welfare states around the world have been ensuring that billions of people who cannot or choose not to support themselves have food, shelter, health care and education. Capitalism and free markets are an excellent way to control population if you stop promising people that they will be taken care of no matter what. If people have to provide for themselves and their families and if they know the government is not going to give them more money each time they have a baby there will be fewer babies. Better yet, this puts the decision back on the individual. If you want to have 19 kids like the Duggars that is your decision as long as you can pay for them.

Another thing, stop sending aid to support people in foreign countries. First of all it is not going to poor people for the most part, second it prevents industry from developing in those countries, third it supports populations that are larger than what can be sustained given the local resources and abilities of the society.

The current policy of socialist governments around the world seems to be this:
1. Ensure no one starves or does without due to their own laziness, incompetence or stupidity.
2. When these natural barriers to population growth are removed, put in artificial ones.

The best that can be said about the one child policy is that it is fair. Rich and poor will have the same limit. Of course they won't, rich people will pay a fine, members of congress will be exempt, as usual. If someone is successful, innovative and able to support a large family, shouldn't they have one if they choose? Isn't that good for society in general that success is rewarded and reproduced? My guess is if the policy were implemented it would apply to anyone not in government and 50 years from now we would have a world dominated by politicians and bureaucrats. Not to worry, I don't think this policy will be implemented. It was done in China where constituencies are not that important. The only way it will happen here is if the red states start to out populate the blue states. With the lax immigration policies I don't see this being an issue for politicians to worry about for some time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Climategate Coverage

This morning I woke up and was surprised to find CNN asking Al Gore questions about Climategate. Granted they were high hanging softballs but still. The Al Gore segment immediately followed a segment about the winter storm that just hit the mid-west and is pounding the east coast. The amount of cognitive dissonance is astounding. Tonight Campbell Brown's show will be on "Global Warming: Trick or Truth". I have no doubt it will mostly be running interference for the climate change believers but at least they are having to discuss Climategate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Big Foot

Round trip on Air Force 1 from Washington to Copenhagen and back - 57,000 gallons of jet fuel.

Backup 747 in case you need it - 57,000 gallons of jet fuel

C17 to transport limousines and other vehicles - 40,000 gallons of jet fuel.

Total fuel consumed for trip to global warming summit 157,000 gallons.

Telling the rest of the world they need to reduce their carbon footprint? Priceless

(I based my calculations on a article guessing that it would be an 8 hour flight from the US to Copenhagen. I also made an educated guess on how much fuel a C17 would use but I think it is in the ballpark. I did not count additional support planes but my guess is there are several.)

Random thoughts

Lately I have been thinking about my life in terms of an analogy, that of a human cannon ball. I just turned 40 a few months back. When I was 20, things were just getting started, I was setting the trajectory I wanted my life to take. In my case I went to college, got a bachelors degree, found a decent paying career and boom I was off. Not that it was that quick. I was not one of those people who knows what they want to do right away. In my case after 7 years of college I finally figured out what I wanted. So the last 14 years while not completely smooth have been at least a steady rise along my intended trajectory path. Now I'm 40 and looking at the landing net off in the distance as I near the apex of my trajectory. I find myself wondering if I set the cannon trajectory right all those years ago. I set my cannon for modest goals that I thought I could achieve. Should I have set it higher? I find myself wishing that in the early years of my career I had played it less safe, taken more chances, changed jobs when I felt comfortable and did not want to sacrifice that comfort. People a lot older than me would probably laugh and say you are no where near the end and I certainly hope not but I keep looking at the landing net wondering if I will come up short.

Afghanistan cnt'd

A brief video montage of various news sources on the Afghanistan war strategy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Climategate conversions

Millions of people have just have their climate belief called into question. If all is true about the cover ups and the fraud and CNN, ABC, and CBS were to start going wall to wall with coverage, would people in mass start to question their beliefs on climate change? How do you do that if you are Ed Begley Jr. and have staked your very existence on climate change for the last couple of decades? Can you really face yourself and say everything you did, all the composting, all the spartan sacrifices, windmills and solar cells you installed on your house count for absolutely nothing. Well in his case it was not nothing, he got a TV show for his efforts. At least I think Ed is a true believer unlike Al Gore who I think is just an opportunist. But if you are not Ed or Al and have spent years putting around in a golf cart size car, buying carbon credits, reusable grocery bags, and experiencing untold other little inconveniences telling yourself and anyone who will listen how you are saving the environment, how do you suddenly tell yourself it doesn't matter. Most people won't be able to do this. It will be easier to say it is a conspiracy of some mysterious "them".

I'm not saying global warming does not exist. Frankly I don't know. Its just a thought experiment. For the last 20 years there has been a steady drumbeat on the environment from teachers, movies, television and pretty much everywhere. Its pervasive. If we were to suddenly find out that global warming was absolutely false how would people react? Whether global warming is real or not I am more concerned with how the issue has been used and abused by politicians. I like John Derbyshire's take on the whole thing actually.


The new policy is send 30k troops for 18 months. Tribal leaders, Taliban leaders you only need to keep your head down for 18 months.

Actually I don't fault Obama for this. Our whole society both left and right are wrong headed about this. The right version of victory is send as many troops as needed, pacify the country like we did Japan and Germany in WWII. The left version is... actually I don't really know what the left wants other than to withdraw alltogether. Probably the main difference between my view and the view of the left is I don't profess to care much about Afghanistan. I am for getting out and I don't particularly care what happens to Afghanistan after that.

What I don't understand is why we are staking our success, our reputation and our ability to inspire fear in those who might want to attack us on whether or not Afghanistan becomes something better than what it is. It is sort of like the top down approach of the central planners in the current government who want to make us all better people with government policy. This is ridiculous. I can improve myself, I can have some effect on my family but making believe we can improve people through government policy is silly. Our Afghan policy is a bit like you or I staking our reputation on whether we can make the methamphetamine dealing family down the street better by sending your son and daughter to go break up their fights. When they get shot are we going to say they died for a cause? Their death was not for nothing?

18 months from now, 18 years from now Afghanistan is still going to be a mess. There is one way Afghanistan will not be a mess 18 years from now, maybe two. They could spontaneously change their ways and become a modern enlightened people. Quantum physicist will tell you virtually nothing has a 0 probability. The second and more likely (but still next to 0% chance) way for this to happen would be to send half a million to a million troops and garrison the country for 20 years or more until people begin to forget their current ways of living. Tens of thousands of american soldiers will die but in the end something will have been accomplished. Whether it will have been worth the cost is another matter. The current policy will mean probably hundreds will die until the insurgent forces make occupying Afghanistan unpopular enough for american poiticians to withdraw. At that point will we say they died for a worthy cause and that because of their sacrifice the world is a better place?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Climategate continued

Here is a good editorial from the Wall Street Journal on this. It kind of says what I said earlier, if the science was so good why was any of this necessary. When Eddington tested Einstein's theory of simple relativity the results were what they were. Once it was proven, there was nothing to hide from and no fear of other scientists verifying the results. One difference here is we are dealing with probabilities and not solid facts, but something strong enough to act on and to take drastic measures based on, should be strong enough to survive a certain level scrutiny, don't you think?

I have just been wondering as this starts to unravel if more people may come out of the woodwork. For years AGW proponents have been intimidating people who might otherwise speak up questioning AGW. Skeptics risked being labeled as "deniers". As these cracks have been forming it may encourage others to reveal what they know. I don't have a lot of faith that this will turn the tide of the AGW debate. People who control government funding are still going to fund studies favorable to AGW. There is so much momentum behind AGW belief in popular culture that I don't think it can stop on a dime. To tell you the truth I don't know for certain what is real with regard to AGW and from what I have seen in the last week and a half neither does anyone else. What I do know is many people have jumped on the AGW train in the last decade without much concern for examining if it is real or not. There has been almost a religious fervour that has shouted down any real debate. Absent also has been any cost benefit analysis as to what level of global warming could be acceptable. No level of global warming is tolerable and all steps need to be taken regardless of the outcome or cost. If this means spending trillions of dollars with negligible affect, slowing our technological development, lowering our standard of living then so be it. If it means developing nations be prevented from reaching the standard of living of the US and people die due to lack of electricity and all that it brings then so be it. This is not acceptable. Millions may die as a result of AGW policies, that have not been been debated, and are based on questionable scientific evidence.

Maybe India, China, Russia and some other contries who have basically said up yours when it has been suggested they jump on the AGW train as will take an interest in disproving AGW. My personal opinion is AGW actually worked in their favor. If your competitors (us) want to run a race with weights tied around their ankles, why stop them. The populations of these countries were either more concerned with economic development or the leaders were in a position not to care what their citizens wanted.

Anyhow, I don't think this is going to be over just yet.

Meanwhile in another Universe

Steven Seagal is a cop?

In real life?

This seems to prove the theory of multiple Universes with different outcomes. So how do I get back to mine?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I have been all over the internet reading about climeategate today and one thing has me puzzled. Here is a sample of what I found. One of the arguments, one of the more popular arguments anyway is that this is isolated and whatever happened East Anglia is only data that has been tested and verified by other scientists at other research centers. If this is the case then why the need to; a. hide data from FOI requests that would have been tested elsewhere and b. "hide the decline"? Was East Anglia the only research center that found a decline? If no other centers found declines then why not? If East Anglia had bad computer code, bad data or bad tests, why were they not concerned to cross check their results with other research centers. It just seems

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nothing Penetrates

You know, if they found emails from Christ discussing with his disciples how the water to wine thing was a simple trick with food dye, I think Christians would be quicker to lose faith than these global warming believers.

Taggart Transcontinental Waffles?

Don't tell me Rand was right and it is going to begin with waffles? Not sure what the production problems are but I find it kind of chilling in a way.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What could happen?

I'm sure nothing can go wrong with this. I saw a scientist on the History Channel talking about the LHC and how the risk is minimal because mini black holes evaporate much to quickly and eat to slowly to be a danger. This comforted me for about the expected lifespan of a mini-black hole until I realized no one has ever actually observed one and measured its lifespan or how fast it eats including the guy telling me all this in great detail. All speculation is based on theory and theories are never wrong, right? If we new definitively how mini-black holes worked we probably would not need the LHC to tell us that. Well, if they are wrong at least we may get the answer to another question, why no other intelligent life has been detected given the predictions of Drake's equation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bow wow

Everyone on the right seems to be going nuts over the Obama bow. Mostly concern seems to be that we are appearing week. Bow or no bow we are weak. Incredibly week. Everyone knows this. We are in debt to China for huge sums of money. I know we bowed to the Japanese emperor not the Chinese. Do you think the Chinese will be jealous? Not sure but I think we owe the Japanese some money also, just not as much. I wonder what the money the Chinese lend to us buys them. Seems to me they have a very strong hand in any negotiation. They can simply (probably not a simple as it seems) stop buying our debt. Or worse, try to call us on it. If we never bow again, does it matter?

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I've been looking forward to seeing the movie 2012. I might try to talk the wife into going this weekend. She is not much into disaster movies so it will be a hard sell. Personally it doesn't bother me. I like watching movies and shows about the end of the world.

Part of the reason is we are all going to die at some point. Going out with everyone else in an end that has good special effects doesn't seem to me to be any worse than wasting away with a horrible illness or gradually watching everthing being taken away from you as you die from old age. Death is usually a solitary thing so going out with everyone else might not be so lonely. This is not to say I have a death wish. Far from it. My goal is to live long enough to see science make death optional. Then to live long enough to experience everything I want to experience, to gain all the knowledge I want or can and then when I am satisfied to simply decide ok I am done.

As for end of the world scenarios, I guess I would want to avoid those that have long prolonged painful deaths possibly involving starvation. Gamma ray bursts, asteroid impacts if you are not at ground zero, likewise super volcanos, robot revolutions (I have no illusions about our chances against advanced AI despite all the Terminator movies), basically any end that cannot be observed with a final glass (or bottle) of scotch and a pack of cigarrettes (I'm a closet occasional smoker). Advanced warning would probably not be a good thing either, months or years of waiting watching society unravel as our impending doom approached might be like hell on earth. I'm not sure what this leaves as an option. The sun suddenly exploding, a rogue planet appearing out of nowhere and smashing into earth, suddenly discovering the laws of physics are not as permanent as we thought as we all go drifting out into space. Hey it could happen, we only know the effects of the laws of physics, not the cause.

Anyhow, I was saying I kinda want to see this movie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bad Grades

I heard about this story on Leno then saw it on Drudge. I think the only problem is it is not progressive enough. What about poor students who can't afford to buy better grades. I think it should be changed. Here is what I would propose:

1. Students from households below the poverty line automatically get a one letter grade bump.

2.Students from households above the poverty line must pay $20 to prevent their grade from dropping one letter grade. Paying an additional $20 will increase their grade by one letter grade.

3. Students from households earning more than $100k a year must pay an additional $20 to raise a poor students grade before they can pay to have their own grade raised.

Problem solved and best of all it is a life lesson in how the world really functions.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Anyone else think that Jeff Bridges should do a movie as W.C. Fields? I keep seeing commercials for Kia where he does the voice over. I can almost imagine him saying "get away from me kid, you bother me".

I saw this morning that General George Casey cautioned against a backlash against muslims. That was my first thought too. It reminded me of the time after the Oaklahoma city bombing when President Clinton cautioned against a backlash against militias and talk radio.

I saw or seem to remember, at various points during the day, various people blathering on how diversity is part of the military's strength. If we get any stronger, we are going to need more bullet proof vests.

I had an idea this morning that I don't think has any chance in occuring. How about a constitutional amendment barring the federal government from preventing people from buying their own healthcare. Not health insurance, healthcare. If you want some treatment or medicine that the government will not pay for, the government cannot stop you from paying a doctor to treat you. I think most people would support this. It would kind of put the shoe on the other foot. Voting against it could be painted as being for the government denying people healthcare.

If or should I say when healthcare reform passes with the public option, the next step should be to try and create ways to circumvent the process. I believe in England they have allowed private medicine where people who can afford it can opt out at least on the benefits side.

Are Youth for Human Rights and Scientology linked? How come I always see their commericals together on TV?

Oh well, can't keep my eyes open, time for bed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why the world seems insane

Each day I read or hear of things that make no sense to me. Most recent examples include a 6 year old boy suspended for bringing Cub Scout camping utensils to school, a teenager suspended for having a pocket knife in his car at school, a six year arrested by the police for having a temper tantrum at school. My responses have changed over time from "that can't be true" to "what, another one?"

What makes this all unbelievable is I don't know anyone who would behave like this. I can't imagine being a teacher and calling the cops on a child. I can't imagine turning in a child who I knew did not intend harm and knowing in the process I would be causing incredible harm to the child. Of course I don't know all the circumstances. Maybe the teacher was young and naive. I'm 40 years old, have a couple of kids and have enough experience to know better. Some young 23 year old just of college by the book teacher has not had enough life experience to know when to ignore the book.

So why is this happening? I think society is becoming more of a machine. The thinking requirement is being removed from individual affairs. Think of the industrial revolution. Prior to industrialization you had many more artisans. Much of the industrial revolution was about process, about simplifying jobs, taking the thought out of tasks and standardizing them. Instead of having a craftsman building a piece of furniture from beginning to end you have a low skilled worker performing one specific task according to a well defined process. A similar shift seems to have happened to society at large. It appears to be partly voluntary, people do not want to think about things and partly by mandate or threat. In some cases it has become risky to go outside of process and take on responsibility. It becomes easier just to follow the process and avoid the headache.

For the foreseeable future, this seems to be the way of things. Gradually less will be left for us to decide, to think about. Bad decisions will become harder to make. Today I heard an advertisement for a Ford Taurus that can be configured for teenage drivers. It will limit what kids can do, limit speed, force them to wear their seat belt. This is not developing trust that your child will be responsible, it is just preventing them from being irresponsible. I suspect some of these features will be applied to all drivers eventually. Our lives will soon be nothing more than a series of processes where the process will dictate all our actions.

Thinking about it though some bad decisions will still be allowed. Gambling will be encouraged, a sort of "stupidity" tax. I guess you could have noticed I don't have a very positive outlook and you'd be right, I don't. Could be because I just finished reading John Derbyshire's new book. Actually what Derb wrote is just a confirmation of what I already sensed. We have been on this path for a long time. I have been looking for signs that we are slowing or changing direction but I don't see any. The welfare of the least of society is driving us forward. Those with the least ambition, least intelligence, least desire to have freedom and responsibility for their lives. Society is being rebuilt to serve an individual with no desires other than not having to think to much and be entertained. The ideal citizen of the future is one to which nothing much matters. Work, don't work it does not matter because your security is guaranteed. Your food, your health, your safety, your self esteem will all be guaranteed by the government. Don't feel like working, don't. If you do work you won't have more than those that don't. Everyone will benefit equally no matter their contribution. Don't feel like being a parent, the government will take over where you leave off.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but government is breeding us to be milk cows. Not too bright, controllable and supplying an endless supply of votes. About the only sin you can commit is not following the processes that are being designed for us. Having milk cows that are smart, responsible, ambitious, or actively involved in raising and educating their calves does not seem desirable from the point of view of the farmer. It does not help government much either to have people who can manage their own affairs.

After reading what I wrote I notice I refer to the government a lot. It is like some mysterious "they" that conspiracy theorists use to refer to the Mr. Bigs who are running everything and pulling all the strings behind the scenes. I don't believe what is happening now is a conspiracy as much as it is human nature. I guess the question that is playing out now is what side of our nature will prevail and for how long? Is this the end of history?

Monday, October 12, 2009


A little off my usual subjects but sometimes I like to let my mind wander a bit. I remember watching TV shows on the Universe and how there may be many Universes. As I recall, one theory was that a new Universe formed for each possible outcome of a given situation. I began to wonder if the decisions we make in our lives would move us from one Universe to another. For instance if you come to an intersection and must decide to go left or right, are two Universes created where in one Universe you go right and the other you go left? At that point wouldn't you be deciding which Universe you would be going to? Sometimes I wonder if the decisions we make move us to Universes we create for ourselves. For instance I am an agnostic when it comes to religion. Could my belief or lack of belief move me into Universes where God does not exist? On the other side, could believing in God move you into Universes where God does exist? I don't know just idle thoughts. Hey, its 1 in the morning and my mind has to do something while I am not sleeping.

Selective Nannies

One of the defining features of the nanny state has been to protect us from making bad decisions but is this really the case? We see endless PSA's about not doing drugs, wearing seatbelts, eating healthy but the same government that discourages these sorts of bad behavior encourages bad behavior that it likes. The state I live in, for example, has been trying for years to get legalized gambling for the purpose of funding the government. There are advertisements all over TV for the lottery.

The government wants to protect us sometimes when it suits their purpose. As a libertarian, or a conservative with a strong libertarian bent, I don't think the government should ban gambling. Legalizing gambling for the sole purpose of funding government is a separate issue though. I wonder if the people who are so worried about a kid eating a happy meal are as concerned about the health effects on the family when dad or mom blows their paycheck on the poker slots.

The recent and ongoing housing bubble collapse is another example. The federal reserve with strong support from the government kept interest rates low to encourage home ownership. People were encouraged to borrow too much spend too much. The effect of this bad behavior on people and society at large has been horrendous but you don't see the government encouraging responsibility in this area. At least you do not see it consistently like the constant incessant hammering of environmental issues, and health care issues.

So the government cares about your welfare when it suits their purpose as in when it increases their power but not so much when it comes to filling their coffers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Does Obama think he is right?

Up until recently, say a year or so ago, I always had confidence things would be better in the future. The technological advancements I have seen in my lifetime lead me to believe that nothing was beyond human innovation. I read Ray Kurzweil's book "The Singularity is Near" about the ever increasing rate of technological development which reinforced my belief that the future was going to be fantastic. I have always thought I was born at the right time in history, when knowledge about anything was at my fingertips. The future was going to be great and all I had to do was work hard and save enough money to get there and I would be set. I did not even have to become super wealthy, just put enough money aside that I could live off my wealth by the time I was in my 60's or perhaps later. By that time medicine would advance to the point where I might live for quite a while after that without the necessity of working full time. My mind would be free to explore and study things that I don't have the time or energy to do now. Perhaps even death might not be as inevitable as it once was. I don't think I ever had the illusion that I would live forever or maybe I did. Now I see a dismal future in which the future of my labor will be snatched from me, harvested like a crop. My future prospects limited by a government that views the private sector as livestock to be slaughtered.

Does Obama firmly believe he is right? I just don't get it. Private industry has given us everything we have. Private industry and innovation are the only hope we have for miracles in modern medicine and it is being killed. Where will the next wonder drug come from, government? Modern medicine, cars, computers, the internet, cell phones all of this was built by private industry. I know the internet evolved from the Arpanet but that was just the starting point, they didn't create the web and would never have figured out how to utilize it on their own. Sure people hate the greedy capitalists, the doctors, the drug companies. But they don't hate the results. They don't hate viagra, antibiotics, non invasive surgery, cancer treatments that are effective, they don't hate the fact that HIV is no longer an automatic death sentence. Yet they want to kill the spring from where these innovations come. I don't get it. Obama lives in the same world I do. Like the rest of us he faces the risk that some day we all may need a miracle cure. Yet he wants to kill the one source of the miracles. Does he think government can do a better job of inventing? Where is the evidence for this? I know, we put a man on the moon so we must be able to solve all the other hard problems.


This sounds like total bullshit to me. First of all, I have been using compact florescent lights for years for most of the lamps in our house. Most of the people I know use compact florescent lights in at least some of their lamps so it is not like everyone is using inefficient lights already. Second they throw around numbers with the implied precision of a neurosurgeon. Save as much energy as is produced by 14 coal fired plants. As much pollution as166 million cars. Save enough energy to run your house for 10 months? Illumination only accounts for 7 percent of average energy usage according to President Obama. Eliminating all energy for illumination would be less than 1 month per year so you would have to go without illumination for 11 or 12 years to save 10 months worth of total energy consumption. Not too mention that compact florescent bulbs require more energy to produce. I know if you get a smaller TV you could save energy, wonder when President Obama is going to suggest that? Why not a smaller refrigerator, hell why not smaller houses? It is for the good of the environment after all. We should trust our leaders when they tell us this.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Iran, so what?

Iran's elections were rigged. So? Is this news to anyone? The people of Iran know it, we know it. End of story. The conservative punditry seem to be upset that Obama is not paying more lip service to supporting the protesters in Iran. I don't know, maybe he could be more supportive but what more can be done beyond lip service? Okay, so President Obama comes out and says all people everywhere have a right to live in a free democratic society and that the Supreme Leader has no right to silence them. Then what? Are we willing to back that up? With what? Iran is going to have a nuclear weapon soon and I don't see any indicators we have the stomach, will or desire to stop this from happening. Isreal might if only out of self preservation. If we had any sense, we might too. It's put up or shut up and I don't see how standing on the sidelines shaking our fist in the air strengthens our position. I felt the same way last year when President Bush was making a lot of noise about Russia and Georgia. He even put our Navy in close proximity to the Russian Navy. This was a bad idea. We were not going to war against Russia over Georgia and we should not have pretended we would. The best we could do was to chastise and complain and reveal how powerless we really were. Sometimes, maybe silence is a good thing. Does anyone really know what is in the Iranian heart. I thought the Iraqi people wanted democracy but now I am not so sure and I would not claim to know what Iranians really want. Then there is the message that backing an unsuccessful and bloody revolution would send. Maybe an overwhelming majority of Iranians want a Jeffersonian democracy. I would love for that to be the case but I just don't know.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Victim of our own success

I was reading this post the other day on National Review by John Derbyshire and it got me to thinking that maybe the problem with government in America is that we are victims of our own success. Since 1969 we have heard over and over "if we can put a man on the moon then we should be able to ...". Maybe if we hadn't put a man on the moon there would not be much confidence that we could do anything else. Last century we won two world wars, moved from an agrarian to an information based society, became dramatically less helpless in the face of random diseases that have always plagued us, created air travel for the masses along with inumerable other advances. Since the American government is inextricably linked with the greatness of America, in many peoples minds, any credit for the great successes of our society goes correctly or incorrectly to our government as well. Not sure where I am going with this other than to say people have come to have great expectations and confidence in our government to accomplish great things. Perhaps too much confidence. I am glad we walked on the moon though.

Cash for Clunkers

Lets see, how can we solve an economic crisis brought on by years of overspending (both government and consumer) and borrowing money to buy stuff we didn't need? Hmmm, cut government spending and refuse to bailout those who lived above their means? No that would never work. How about something else? I know, we'll borrow more money and pay people who bought big cars they no longer want to buy smaller cars. We can create artificial demand in the economy (that never causes problems) and best of all we will put the debt on all tax payers including the ones who bought cars they are perfectly happy with. Wasn't there some guy named Santayana who once said something like...?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I've never really liked the concept of superheros despite being a fan of comic books. The idea that society needs a protector, one guy or gal to right the wrongs and protect us from evil seems rather fatalistic. Is this situation supposed to be permanent, how long would someone want that job? Well some people live to be needed by others I guess. Societies succeed or fail by the actions of large portions of their members, not the actions of one or a small group of individuals. If a community is made up of hard working, productive, moral people then most likely it will be successful and no hero is needed. In case the opposite is true, a hero would be pretty busy with little in the way of long term results to show for the effort.

I saw "The Watchmen" the other night with my wife (actually it was a few months ago and it took me a while to finish this post), knowing nothing about it other than the trailers I had seen. Turns out the movie was far different from what was advertised. To give this movie an "R" rating is stretching that category a bit. It probably should have been rated NC17. I can't say I liked the movie. The violence was so extreme it was pretty hard to watch and the sex scenes reminded me of soft core porn. The story did not make much sense, super heroes without super powers operate until they were put out of business by a new law. Apparently acting as vigilantes was perfectly legal until that point.

What makes super heroes without super powers seem silly? In normal superhero story lines, a superhero has powers normal people do not, giving him the ability to fight average criminals with little or no risk to himself and making him the only one capable of fighting super villains. Law enforcement supports or at least tolerates some vigilantism because it has to.

In the Watchmen's universe, only one of them has super powers, Dr. Manhattan. The rest appear to the highly skilled incredibly fit individuals. All have a screw loose and one, the Comedian, is an out and out sociopath. One curious thing, Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian agreed to go to Vietnam and fight for the US. The Comedian was apparently able to join the army and wear his own superhero costume. That must have been an interesting recruitment interview. Dr. Manhattan, a big blue guy who can crush tanks and explode people with his mind can wear whatever he wants which in most cases is nothing.

Despite all it's failings, the movie did manage to ask an interesting question in the end. The whole movie appears to be an allegory of religion, or more specifically Christianity. The world is on the brink of nuclear war and the smartest man in the world who was also a member of the Watchmen decides it is better to kill a bunch of people though much less than the number that would be killed in a nuclear war to prevent an actual nuclear war. He then puts the blame on Dr. Manhattan who in the end accepts it and leaves Earth with the threat that he may return and finish the job if humanity does not get its act together. He then goes off to become a god of his own world some place.

The question seems to be is peace worth the price of believing a lie and sacrificing a relative few to save the many. I guess it depends on your view of the value of human life. If humans are a commodity like cattle then basic math is sufficient to support the premise. My own view is that we are not a commodity. We are not so many units of humanity. We are individuals, each of us valuable to ourselves. Lying to avoid self destruction seems like each individual avoiding their own responsibility in making society work. Maybe this is the key to what I dislike about superheros. Responsibility is taken from the masses and placed on the few.

In a similar way I resent the government. In a lot of ways my life has been more challenging recently. Work is very competitive and I have to run to keep up. Some days I'm overwhelmed and some days I overcome the obstacles in my path. I may be unemployed soon, I may not. On the days when my efforts pay off though, I never feel more alive. The risk of failing makes succeeding worthwhile and I don't want government to take that from me.

Fed war on cigarrettes

The Feds are increasing regulatory control over nicotine levels in cigarettes. Now is a good time to sell your GM stock and invest in criminal organizations trafficking high nicotine no tax smokes. And for you terrorist organizations hard hit by the economic downturn, here is an excellent opportunity to raise some operating capital. I'm sure any number of gangs would also be interested in developing new revenue streams.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A blog neglected

Forgive me for it has been many months since I blogged. I kind of got away from it. I think the main reason was an effort on my part to focus my energies on pumping life into my day job which could loosely be called software development. I don't really develop software anymore, my activities consist of long spans spent shuffling paperwork interspersed with brief moments writing programming code, that is, when you can invent a reason for doing so instead of handing it off to the offshore contractors. But hey, who's complaining, I am still employed at any rate.

I have been following the story of the 13 year old boy with cancer and I must say I have mixed emotions. On the one hand I feel the parents and the boy are being extremely foolish but on the other hand, in this climate of government intrusion, is this an opening for more government oversight in the health care of our children. Many nanny statists view childhood obesity as an immediate health threat. It is not a great leap to imagine government going after parents who fail to adhere to proper dietary restrictions with their children. From what I have read it was implied that there may be some religious beliefs involved in the decision to seek alternative treatments. Not being a religious person my self, this seems to be one of the times where blind faith has serious consequences.
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