Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Thursday, March 31, 2011

They Must Be Due to Ideology

Bill Whittle, if you haven't seen it:



Yup.

This too:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quote of the Day - Hand of the State Edition

I believe that markets move in and out of balance on varying temporal horizons naturally. They overshoot and undershoot but become excessive in nature in a systemic way only when they are deliberately distorted.


Intervention in or manipulation of markets by the state is such a distortion. Its acts postpone the day of reckoning for years or even decades. It creates (a) false sense of equilibrium that ultimately gives way to disequilibrium and heightened instability. We have not experienced free markets — that is, the invisible hand — for decades. The recent failure of markets to predict uncertainty was not a failure of free markets but a failure of fiat money and socialism.

Ben Davies, CEO - Hinde Capital, London.
Fall Dinner Meeting of the Committee for Monetary Research and Education
Union League Club, New York
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quoted in full at No Quarter
The whole speech is worth your time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quote of the Day - Nihilism Edition

While we take the electric light for granted-- to be able to read and write after dark by a clear light is a technological achievement that has transformed our civilization. Animals are governed by day and night cycles. Artificial light made it possible for us to work independently of the day and night cycle. There is no way to measure the increase in knowledge gained. And there is no better measure of the unthinking contempt of the environmentalist movement for that achievement than a call to turn off the lights and sit in the dark

--

That is the dark side of environmentalism, an ugly violent side that emerges easily. The most active non-Muslim domestic terrorist group is environmental. The undercurrent of violence finds easy purchase in environmentalism's creed that the only real problem with the world is the people. No amount of turning off the lights is enough. Eventually you come around to having to turn off the people
.

Sultan Knish, Sitting in the Dark
RTWT. Godwin's Law warning, though.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Quote of the Day - Originalism Edition

One of the most remarkable features of Justice Scalia's majority opinion and Justice Stevens's dissent (joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Souter) is the view that the Second Amendment means only what it meant at the time of its proposal and ratification in 1789-91. -- Sanford Levinson, Huffington Post, D.C. v. Heller: A Dismaying Performance by the Supreme Court
No, they tried to define what it meant at the time of its proposal and ratification - "original public understanding."  And Scalia was far more correct than Stevens, which Sandy Levinson didn't bother to point out.  I thought Stevens' errors were the most remarkable feature of his dissent.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

I was a guest on National Public Radio earlier this week, where I debated a left-of-center law school professor. The host asked me whether President Obama could deal with the tension between his agenda of higher government spending and targeted development and the business interests of new advisors with business backgrounds such as former JPMorgan exec Bill Daley, and current General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt.  “What tension?” I asked. Why in the world would a past TARP recipient and future green energy recipient like GE object in the slightest to Obama’s vision of a world of targeted government “investments” in what he believes to be the industries of the future?

The fact that Immelt is a Republican is as beside the point as the fact that Daley is a Democrat. Increasingly our nation is divided, not between Rs and Ds, but between TIs and TBs: tribute imposers and tribute bearers. The imposers are gigantic banks, agri-businesses, higher education Colossae, government employees, NGO and QUANGO employees and the myriad others whose living is made chiefly by extracting wealth from other people. The bearers are the rest of us: the people who extract wealth from the earth, not from others.

What is the difference between crony capitalism and socialism? Not much. Both systems are based on a lack of appreciation of individual liberty. Both systems depend on elaborate centralized bureaucracies. In both systems, large proportions of people work for the government. Does it really make that much difference whether the government money is reported as W-2 income as opposed to 1099 income? Don’t the favored people become rich under socialism?
The QotD is that last paragraph, but I thought you'd appreciate the setup.  It's from The American Nomenklatura by Jerry Bower at Forbes.  Good piece.  RTWT.  Kinda goes along with the "Apparatchiks and Entropy" theme.

UPDATE: In related news, General Electric paid no taxes in 2010.  In fact, it collected $3.2 billion in tax benefits.  "What tension?" indeed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Four Year-Old Kills Newborn Sibling

Will the parents be prosecuted for negligence?
Tragedy hit a Texas family over the weekend when a young boy accidentally ran over and killed his newborn brother with a minivan.

A 4-year-old boy climbed into his family's parked van Friday and with his 5-year-old brother sitting in the passenger seat, managed to put the keys in the ignition and start the vehicle, Dallas' Star-Telegram reported.

The boy's mother, who was holding her 3-week-old son in her arms, heard the van ignition and when she spotted her two young sons behind the wheel, ran to stop the rolling vehicle.

The van crashed into an RV power station, then knocked her down and ran over both mother and infant, killing the baby, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner's office.
This happened last October, but I found the negligent parenting parallel compelling.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our Economic Titanic

This is a harsh-your-mellow post of the Über-variety.  You are forewarned.

Every generation has its Chicken-Littles, foretelling gloom, doom and disaster if Something Isn't Done RIGHT NOW about some crisis du jour.  Paul Ehrlich springs immediately to my mind, predicting from the depths of 1968 worldwide mass starvation by 1980 even if the world's governments seized immediate dictatorial control over agriculture and human reproduction in his book The Population Bomb. Unapologetic more than forty years after his hyperbolic assertion that "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate...", Wikipedia reports that in 2009 Ehrlich and his co-author wife were proud of the book, stating:
The Ehrlichs stand by the basic ideas in the book, stating in 2009 that "perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future" (my emphasis) and believe that it achieved their goals because "it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future."
Nothing if not brazen.

Oh, and well, wrong.

Then there are the Cassandras who can see what's coming down the pike that the rest of the public can't seem to.  Their predictions aren't as immediate, but can be every bit as doom-laden.

I'm not immune.  In the seven years I've been writing here, one ongoing theme has been "Tough History Coming," a phrase from a Peggy Noonan op-ed that caused quite a stir when it was published in 2005. Many pooh-poohed this (normally Pollyannish) Noonan observation:
I think there is an unspoken subtext in our national political culture right now. In fact I think it's a subtext to our society. I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going in America?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."
One commenter stated, "(E)very generation, feels like the 'wheels are coming off' in some sense." To which Billy Beck, responded: "Every now and then, they're right about it." In fact, I quoted Billy again just the other day on the same subject.

"Man-caused disasters" of epic proportion are hardly limited to assaults on Mother Gaia. We puny humans can screw ourselves up in other ways as well. What we appear to be best at is socio-political self-savagery, followed by the interpersonal type, and America is hardly exempt.  In fact, we seem to be as exceptional at it as we've been at most everything we've tried.  Now we're trying economic self-savagery again, and this time we appear to be intent on doing it harder.

Let's look at the evidence.

The United States federal budget has, since 1968, been in the black only five years according to this Congressional Budget Office report (PDF): 1969, and 1998-2001. Those last four years the budget was black only because the Social Security surplus was used to buy our debt.  It's always used to buy our debt (and the IOUs are put in AlGore's "lockbox" and forgotten), but those five years the combination of overall revenue versus overall expenditure produced a bit of a surplus.

Over that 40-year period, the national debt climbed from $285.5 billion to $5.035 trillion, an increase of 1,763%. During that same period the expenditures of the federal government as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product hovered at about 20.6%, and tax revenue as a percentage of GDP hovered around 18.3%.

Think about that.  Take the GDP as a value of 100 units.  Our income was 18.3 units, our expenditures were 20.6 units.  Our expenditures were 112.6% of our income on average.  I don't know about you, but I couldn't run my personal finances for 40 years having to borrow the equivalent of 12.6% of my income each and every year, and never paying that debt down. Yes, I have a mortgage equivalent to a bit over 150% of my annual income, but I don't pay it with my credit cards. My net debt has increased, but I at least understand that I have to pay it down, and so far I've been able to.

When Ross Perot ran for President in 1992, the national debt was in excess of $2.6 trillion, the deficit was in excess of $260 billion, Congress showed no intention of changing its spendthrift ways, and the executive showed no inclination to restrain them. Perot ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and lost massively. Bill Clinton won the election, and say what you will about the man (and I have), deficits did decrease under his administration until there was actually more money coming in (if you include Social Security) than going out.

That changed abruptly. We were back to deficit spending where we've been ever since, and now we're turbocharging it:




The data for this graph is from the Congressional Budget Office as well.  The projected spending, if our Congressweasels don't step up to the plate, is pretty much set.  The projected revenue, on the other hand, is vaporware as far as I'm concerned.  Does it look anything like 18% of projected GDP to you?

And will our Congressweasels step up to the plate?  Why should they?  They've been kicking the can down the road for decades already.  Nobody wants to be the guy left without a chair when the music stops.

No, we keep hearing that we should "tax the rich."  Well, we do tax the rich. No, really.  And it's not enough to keep up with the spending.

And the Left keeps clamoring for more spending, and more taxes on "the rich."

Iowahawk, in his inimitable way takes that concept to its logical conclusion.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that made me want to drag the driver out of the car and beat him sensible with a Cluebat™. It said, "Hey, Conservatives: Medicare IS Socialized Medicine."

Well, DUH. So is "Social Security." What's your point? They're both failing, just like all "Socialized" programs do. Social Security?
"Social Security has been the most successful social program initiated by the federal government in the history of this country," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent Socialist and the (Senate Social Security) caucus's leader. "We are getting very tired of hearing Republicans saying Social Security is collapsing."

It's not, and estimates are that its trust funds won't be exhausted until 2037.
Trust fund? TRUST FUND?? The one that's full of IOU's from the National Treasury?
Fueling the new worry is a report this week from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that suggests Social Security may be more of a drain on scarce resources - or in need of strengthening - than had been thought previously.

The CBO said that if interest were excluded, the system would run a deficit of $45 billion this year and a total of $547 billion from 2012 to 2021.
Medicare? Well, aside from the fact that Medicare doesn't pay enough to make doctors want to accept it, it's hemorrhaging money too. An estimated $100 billion a year through fraud alone. But there are bigger problems.
Medicare is already growing faster than Social Security, and it could become bigger and more expensive than Social Security in the next 25 years. It is also growing faster than the economy, and if that keeps up, Medicare could cause the national debt to swell up to more than two-thirds of the gross domestic product in just the next decade.

For years, experts have also warned that Medicare faces trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities — meaning that it will have to pay trillions of dollars more than the amount of money that is coming in. In fact, last year, the Medicare trustees warned that the program was facing more than $36 trillion in unfunded obligations.
Even worse? Other payouts, in addition to Welfare and Social Security represent one-third of U.S. wages:
Even as the economy has recovered, social welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data.
And the public reaction?
Less than a quarter of Americans support making significant cuts to Social Security or Medicare to tackle the country's mounting deficit, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, illustrating the challenge facing lawmakers who want voter buy-in to alter entitlement programs.

In the poll, Americans across all age groups and ideologies said by large margins that it was "unacceptable'' to make significant cuts in entitlement programs in order to reduce the federal deficit. Even tea party supporters, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, declared significant cuts to Social Security "unacceptable."
Nick Gillespie of Reason says it: 3 Essential Facts About the Current Moment: We're Out of Money, The Public Sector is Overpaid, & We Can't Tax Our Way Out of This. Eric S. Raymond as well:
The political system I have been criticizing all my adult life is fast approaching the point of "no choices left". And not just in the U.S., either; the same problems of political overcommitment and structural insolvency are playing out in advanced nations all over the planet.


Politics as we know it has had a structural problem for a long time; the self-destructive interest-group scramble that Mancur Olson identified in The Logic of Collective Action continually makes parasitic demands beyond the capacity of the underlying economy to supply, and the difference has to be papered over by massive government borrowing.

This is all very well until, as Margaret Thatcher put it about socialism, "you run out of other peoples' money." The system is reaching that point now. Bond investors are figuring out that the debt load has become impossible and are increasingly refusing to either purchase new debt or roll over existing paper. The muni and state-bond market in the U.S. is near-moribund, and the threat of sovereign debt default is tearing the Euro zone apart. U.S Treasuries increasingly look like Wile E. Coyote running in midair; they’ll keep selling only as long as nobody actually looks down...

Insolvency is no longer a sporadic problem, it’s become pervasive at all levels of government everywhere. This is why the recent brouhaha in Wisconsin was so surreal. The public-employee unions weren’t just rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking Titanic, they were fighting to preserve their right to bore more holes in the hull.
References to the Titanic are getting to be common:
In the James Cameron [*spit*] movie "Titanic," there is this great scene that illustrates a point about our current economic situation.  The iceberg is struck.  Because of the glancing blow, the more primitive metallurgy that resulted in brittle steel of the hull, a long gash was ripped across three of the main watertight compartment sections of the front of the ship. With the first three main sections rapidly filling with water, the engineer/ship designer, played by Victor Garber, lays out the side view plans of the ship to show the captain that there is no doubt that the ship is going down and there is absolutely no way to stop it.  It may take an hour or so for the ship to disappear below the waves, but no amount of bilge pumping or anything else is going to stop the inevitable.

That's what is happening with our economy.
There are a lot more.

The world is paying attention. After all, other governments are going broke, too, and fewer want to buy our debt.

I thought about filling this post with charts and graphs like the ones I started it with, but that's not really necessary.  If you read this blog regularly, you're probably part of that tiny fraction of the population that's paying attention.  I've been working on this post for a while, collecting links and thinking.  You see, I'm in kind of an odd situation.  I'm an engineer, and the company I work for specializes in raping Gaia primary metals mining.  Yes, we design the plants that process the ores ripped from Gaia's womb the earth.  Iron, copper, silver, gold, molybdenum, etc.

And we're busy as hell.

So's our competition. 

We're hiring, they're hiring, the mining companies are spending money improving processes, expanding facilities, and building entire new mines all over the world.

So long as demand (and prices) stays high, we'll remain so.

But I keep thinking that we're sailing on the Titanic, rearranging the deck chairs while the public sector unions crew are boring holes in the hull and the aging population passengers are ceasing to bail out the bilges, but instead doing the exact opposite.

As I watch Japan dig itself out from under the - literal - fallout of a massive earthquake and tsunami, I observe as Victor Davis Hanson does, The Fragility of Complex Societies.  Being an engineer, I do believe I understand the world in ways most other people never will.  I understand, for one thing:
Reality is the murder of a beautiful theory by a gang of ugly facts.

Theory and reality are only theoretically related.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.

In practice there is.
And I understand that when someone high up in the financial machinery of the government states:
"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt. "The short-term negotiations are very important, I look at this as a tipping point."
then The End is (most probably) Near™.

How near? Well, I'm 49 now. Let's just say that I'm more and more convinced that Dale of Mostly Cajun was more right that he probably thought when he said:
Retire? I will probably get killed in the early battles of the coming revolution.
But it won't be a revolution, I don't think.

It'll involve face colanders, possibly.

Richard Fisher said he was confident in the Americans' ability to take the right decisions and that the country would avoid insolvency.

I'm not.

I started this essay with the working title of "Apparatchiks and Entropy," inspired by my Quote of the Day for February 15, which stated in part:
The ability to get ahead in an organization is simply another talent, like the ability to play chess, paint pictures, do coronary bypass operations or pick pockets. There are some people who are extraordinarily good at manipulating organizations to serve their own ends. The Russians, who have suffered under such people for centuries, have a name for them -- apparatchiks. It was an observer of apparatchiks who coined the maxim, "The scum rises to the top."
The apparatchiks are, in part, that third of the economy made up of Federal payouts. They are, in part, the public sector union members boring holes in the hull of our Titanic economy. They are, in part, the people waiting to receive the benefits they've been told they were paying for all their working lives, whose proceeds even now they believe sit in "lock boxes"and "trust funds."  They are, in part, the people Peggy Noonan described:
I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."
The apparatchiks have been manipulating organizations to serve their own ends, to "get theirs," for so long now that the entropy is irreversible. The Titanic is sinking, and cannot be saved.

And I wonder what the future of my grandchildren is going to look like, because the Cassandric words of Donald Sensing still echo in my mind:
I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free.
UPDATE: More cheery news with another Titanic reference.

UPDATE: Found this at Theo Spark:

Quote of the Day

When conservatism reigns, people are left alone to either succeed or fail on their own in freedom. If you don't like the fail part, then you don't understand the value of failure. Ray Kroc was nothing more than a mediocre paper cup salesman until he discovered and bought the restaurant from the McDonald brothers. Walt Disney failed over and over to find the right people to financially back his ideas for most of his life. Edison tried a thousand different ways to create a lightbulb before he found the right design. The common denominator to success in this country has always been freedom and a rule of law that protects individual freedom.

When leftist ideology reigns, there is no point in striving or failing. If you succeed, the fruits of your labor will be taken from you and given to those who don't care to strive for anything beyond playing the lottery and watching American Idol and believing that anybody who has wealth must have gotten it by nefarious means. This is what produces countries like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe. Equality is celebrated and encouraged until everyone but those at the top of government have become equally miserable.

The ComPost Files - Silence is Consent
Runner-up:
Apparently, our Libyan adventure is called "Operation Odyssey Dawn" because "Operation Princess Rainbow Sparkle Pony" wasn't manly enough. - "canadiancynic"
(*snort*)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quote of the Day - Jilted Lover's Edition

All presidents play politics but good presidents rely on a set of core values. Obama’s core has a picture of Neville Chamberlain. - Bin Quick, Firedog Lake, Obama, "You're a Goddamned Quarterback!"
From the same piece, this runner-up:
Obama plans to convince hardcore Democrats to abandon their principles to re-elect his sorry Corporate Ass so he can abandon hardcore Democrats. I have an idea, try "buck up", it worked so well for the 2010 midterms. If Obama wants to energize hardcore Liberals, Progressives, and Democrats, all he needs to do is repeat this, "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." Otherwise, my answer to Mr. Obama is FUCK YOU!
It gets better:
Obama doesn’t understand that he lost hardcore liberals with his compromises. Liberals and Progressives won’t support Obama2012 because we are terrified of his next round of capitulations. I'm sure some "Democrats" will surrender their principles for a perceived "victory" but I believe a second Obama term would be worse than a Palin presidency. I will donate, work for and do everything legally possible to send this sorry "Corporate Whore" back to Chicago as soon as possible.
I guess that tingle up the leg is gone, too.  Too bad "Bin Quick" is a racist, isn't it?

And the comments are priceless.

I'm with Tam when she said "It's a good thing schadenfreude doesn't have calories." I already weigh 300 pounds.  "We Told You So" tastes so good.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Quote of the Day - On This Day Edition

From Mostly Cajun:
Today in History – March 21

1947
– President Truman signs Executive Order 9835 requiring all federal employees to have allegiance to the United States. Today the freakin’ President of the United States doesn’t have allegiance to the United States.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Edumacation - We Don't Haz It

How ignorant are Americans?
When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America’s official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn’t name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn’t correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn’t even circle Independence Day on a calendar.
RTWT.

Nothing I haven't been repeating and commenting on since I started this blog.

And these people VOTE.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Slacking

I've not been blogging all that much recently, and what I have been doing is "all linky, no thinky" stuff.  There has been, obviously, a lot to write about, but for various reasons I won't go into here, I haven't felt the urge necessary to sit, think, and write.

Sorry about that.  I know that a lot of people come by here looking for free ice cream, and I haven't been delivering.

That doesn't mean, however, that I've not been paying attention. I currently have a list of no less than 31 links to stuff under the heading of "topics for blog posts," and probably half of those are for one single überpost.

Part of me doesn't have the urge, but some other part does.

I've got some errands to run today, and some other things to take care of, but I thought I'd throw up a couple of things just to keep your attention.  First up, the Quote of the Day from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, commenting on the book Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America by Walter Olson:
Every year I hire as law clerks some of the best and brightest law students in the country, and spend a year wringing out of them all the wrong-headed ideas their law professors taught them. Now I know why.
My stack of books hasn't gotten significantly shorter (I keep adding to it), but this one may need to go on it.  If you're interested, here's a podcast with the author of the book.

Second,  the subject of our failed education system comes up again in a piece at Shrinkwrapped, Oh No, Are Kidz Can't Lurn. I've covered this topic before (most recently here) - colleges forced to mandate "remedial" classes for incoming freshmen who are completely unprepared for the academic demands of a university. It used to be that a high school diploma meant you were ready to enter the workforce. Now all it means is that you attended enough classes to not be kicked out for truancy. (Do they still do that? Kick out students for truancy?)

The City University of New York has found that three-quarters of incoming freshmen are unprepared. That's 75% of the successful graduates of primary and secondary school systems.  At least in Arizona it's only a third.

I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  Then put Dr. Sugata Mitra in charge of rebuilding.

And finally, a word about "unintended consequences."  Hybrid cars that require batteries made from materials mined in remote locations without environmental restriction; fluorescent lightbulbs that contain toxic mercury, don't last anywhere near as long as advertised, and require hazmat disposal; "low-flow" toilets that use only one gallon per flush, but have to be flushed three or four times if you want the bowl clean for the next use.  Well, the New York Times has discovered the concept now, and in an opinion piece by John Tierney uses "the rebound effect" to lobby for higher taxes rather than "energy efficiency"  mandates.

I think he must be a fan of Cass Sunstein and his "Nudge" theory of behavior modification through taxation. Regardless, it was an interesting thing to see in the NYT, the admission:
"Efficiency mandates have become feel-good mantras that politicians invoke," Mr. (Sam) Kazman (of the Competitive Enterprise Institute) said. "The results of these mandates have ranged from costly fiascos, such as once-dependable top-loading washers that no longer wash, to higher fatalities in cars downsized by fuel-efficiency rules. If the technologies were so good, they wouldn't need to be imposed on us by law."

No matter what laws are enacted, people are going to find ways to use energy more efficiently — that's the story of civilization. But don't count on them using less energy, no matter how dirty their clothes get.
Not quite another QotD, but close.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Quote of the Day - Tactical Facepalm Edition

Another one from MaxedOutMama. She's been spending some time over at Democratic Underground and, well, let her say it:
I have just realized that it is hopeless. These are not the people who flunked algebra, geology, long division and biology. These are the people who flunked algebra, geology, long division and biology, and attempted to burn down the school as revenge, failed, and are now attempting to expunge those ways of thinking from the known universe.
As I've noted previously, I spent some eight months there myself before being ceremoniously kicked off by "Skinner" who is apparently one of if not the founder.

But I'd figured out what MOM figured out long before then. I've not been back. As Robert Heinlein said of visiting the Soviet Union, "Once is educational. Twice is masochism."

But by all means, RTWT. Beverage alert, however, especially if you're an engineer type. And the demotivator at the bottom of the post is worth the trip itself.

Unrelated, MaxedOutMama has been keeping track of the goings-on at Japan's current nuclear disaster site.  Start at the top and scroll down for a pretty good synopsis of what is known to date.  It's not Chernobyl, but it's worse than Three Mile Island by quite a stretch.

Can we PLEASE start talking about Thorium-powered reactors now?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Quote of the Day - Progressivism is a Mental Disorder Edition

Nothing like letting the self-admitted crazies decide what restraints to put on the sane--which, when you think about it, is a core tenet of "progressivism."

David Codrea, War on Guns, I'm an Untrustworthy Headcase

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There Should Be a Mandatory Waiting Period...

Reader Wolfman sent me a link to a story out of Peoria, AZ.  It seems a young hoodlum robbed a gas station.


With a rock.


No word on whether he was wearing a high-capacity hoodie containing thirty-plus more rocks.

What Am I, Chopped Liver?

LuckyGunner.com is, as has been mentioned, putting on a blogshoot.  I've been waiting for an update from them since the announcement.  Well, that first link is to the current page, where Lucky Gunner tells us:
The following "Big Guns" have already confirmed they will be in attendance:
(*cough*cough*cough*)

Quote of the Day - Simple Economics Edition

Joe Huffman from Saturday:
It is predicted the Federal budget deficit will reach $1.65 trillion this year with a $14.1 trillion debt and about $2.1 trillion in income. Yet the House cannot reach agreement on spending cuts. The House Republicans want to only cut $60 billion in spending and the Democrats only want to cut spending $6.5 billion. If you were to scale this down into numbers people might be able to relate to it would look like the following.


If your family income were $50,000 then:


•Family debt is $335,700
•Family deficit is $39,300 (spending is $89,300/year)
•The head of household wants to cut $1,430 in yearly spending
•The spouse wants to cut $154.80 in yearly spending
The children should cut up the credit cards and sell everything that isn’t the bare minimum needed for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and communication. If the debt still isn’t being paid down they should consider selling their parents organs.—Joe

Monday, March 14, 2011

Quote of the Day - "WORD!" Edition

The purpose of the armed forces is to kill people and break their stuff. This isn't the frickin' Peace Corps we're running here, it is a warfighting machine. Much like the Los Angeles Lakers, it doesn't get its score at the end of the game graded on a curve based on how well it reflects "the racial, ethnic and gender mix" of America.

-- Tam, commenting on the erroneous conclusion of a recent report on the current  ethnic mix of officers in the US military

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Match Report - Light Turnout

Well, we held the 10th monthly Bowling Pin match at Tucson Rifle Club today (we took last September off while I traveled to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous).  Today's turnout was light, only six people besides me came to shoot, but we still had a lot of fun.  Because of the light turnout, we only ran two tables instead of three.  The match started at just after 9:00AM and ran until about 12:30.  I forgot my CCI Mini-Mag .22 ammo, but Larry Boykin let me shoot his Federal stuff, and it worked fine.  I also brought my S&W M25 Mountain Gun chambered in .45LC and my Browning Hi Power.

When I hit the pins with the M25, they left the table.  With extreme prejudice.

I really need to practice shooting that gun double-action.  If you want to win, you can't miss twice.  Reloads are slow.

Shooting borrowed ammo, I did manage to win the .22 class. Bill Tab won centerfire with his Kimber Classic Stainless beating me with my Hi Power in the last two rounds, but each of us had to beat last month's winner  Jim Burnett to get there.  He's a tough competitor with both his Clark Custom 1911 pin gun and his bone-stock Beretta 92.  Jim took home the $17 from the drawing at the end of the match, though and he took second in .22.

Hopefully we'll have more turnout next month, Sunday April 10.  The match will begin at the normally scheduled time - first rounds downrange at 8:00AM, not 9:00.  It's already starting to warm up.  And I'll be bringing three tables again, to help speed things along.  Hope to see you there!

One Line Movie Review - The Adjustment Bureau

What he said.

Now I'm off to see Battle:  Los Angeles.

UPDATE:  Battle:  LA was  a very enjoyable blowup movie.  "Retreat, hell!  We just got here!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quote of the Day - Truth in Humor Edition

Gun laws in the US are confusing. You can be totally legal, drive over an invisible line and be a criminal. It is a legal system designed by Escher and built by W. Heath Robinson.

Cracked.com: Gun Owners
It's what we've been bitching about for decades.

h/t to SayUncle for the pointer.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Quote of the Day - Media Narrative Edition

Right now heads (are) collectively exploding in newsrooms across the country as media grapples with the fact that the mostly-white crowd in Madison breaking things isn’t the tea party. -- Dana Loesch
Remember The Narrative.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Publishing

There was a pretty damned fascinating piece Instapundit linked to today. It basically spells out the coming death of major publishing houses, or at least their current business model. The weapon? Ebooks at 99¢.

I'm a late adopter of the eBook, I'll admit. I can't see popping $139 for a Kindle or $149 for a Nook. ($249 for the color version.) My $175 EeePC Netbook is about the size of a hardback, but I find hardbacks awkward to tote around.

Then I found out that there was a free eBook app for my iPod Touch, iBook. Initially I thought the screen would be too small to be usable as a book reader, but my shooting buddy DustyC showed me that his worked just fine. The last book I purchased, Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn (hardback) came with a DVD containing not only electronic copies of that novel in all major formats including PDF and HTML but eight other novels and The Vorkosigan Companion. I was getting ready for a trip to Canada, and I thought, "What the hell?" I loaded the app, and copied over the nine books.

And I LOVE the damned thing. It's tiny, drops easily into my shirt pocket, it's still easily readable (and being illuminated, I can read in poorly lit restaurants which I cannot do with a dead-tree book), it has excellent battery life, I can carry a pretty decent library on half the 16GB of memory.

But most books cost every bit as much as a premium paperback, and those are getting pricey these days.

Baen, Bujold's publisher, was one of the first adopters of eBooks, and got in early with free eBooks for download. Sort of a drug-pusher's "first taste is free" to get you hooked on an author. So I can go to Baen's website and download a lot more books, but they're probably also books I've already read in dead-tree edition. I tend to read a lot, and I like Baen's stable of authors.  (I'd read all of Bujold's previous Vorkosigan Saga novels, but I didn't mind reading them again.)

But the article Instapundit linked puts a whole new spin on the topic.

Roberta X has recently self-published her novel, I Work on a Starship, and she's selling it as an eBook for $1.99, or dead-tree for $18.82. The download is PDF only. That's OK, there's a PDF reader for the iPod, but I haven't installed it on mine. There are, however, about a dozen other formats for book readers (I use the iBook format) and she's not reaching those customers.

Author John Locke (LOVE the nom de plume) has six of the top 40 eBooks on Amazon right now, and one of them is #1. All of his books are available in all formats, and all of them are 99¢. Out of each sale, the author sees 35¢. His total cost involved is the time it takes him to write a story, and about $1k to give it to a third party for formatting it for all the different readers, and produce "cover art" for the book. As he puts it,
I make back the one-time price by selling 3,000 eBooks, and every sale thereafter is unencumbered.
The interview was done yesterday, March 8. Between January 1 and March 8, he sold 350,000 Kindle-formatted copies of one novel alone. Do the math. That's $122,500 in just barely over two months.

Now, obviously John Locke is an exception (it does require the ability to write something that people will praise, after all) but listen to this:
For the first time in history, there's an advantage to being an independent author!

It wasn’t so long ago that an aspiring author would complete his or her manuscript, only to don a pair of knee pads and assume a supplicating posture in order to beg agents to beg publishers to read their work. And from way on high, the publishers would bestow favor upon this one or that, and those who failed to get the nod were out of the game.

No more.

These days the buying public looks at a $9.95 eBook and pauses. It’s not an automatic sale. And the reason it’s not is because the buyer knows when an eBook is priced ten times higher than it has to be. And so the buyer pauses. And it is in this pause—this golden, sweet-scented pause—that we independent authors gain the advantage, because we offer incredible value.
The Gatekeepers once again have lost their power. The walls keeping the unwashed masses out have fallen down.
I’m new to the writing game. But if I’d started self-publishing even three years ago, I would have spent all my time trying to prove to the public I’m just as good as the top authors in America. These days, the burden of proof is on them. Now the best authors in America have to prove they’re ten times better than me. And in a game like that, I like my chances.
The interviewer of John Locke is also an author selling his wares on Amazon. He said:
Coming from a legacy publishing background, I knew that 35% royalties were much better than anything the Big 6 offered. Even so, when I first got into this, I thought that cheap ebooks would be a loss lead, that would get people to read my more expensive books.

And yet, when I lowered the price of The List from $2.99 to 99 cents, I started selling 20x as many copies--about 800 a day. My loss lead became my biggest earner.
Do that math. He went from making $2.09 per book to $0.35 per book, but he sold twenty times as many books. Forty books a day at $2.09 a book is $83.60 a day. Eight hundred books at 35¢ is $280 a day.

Not too long back, Larry Correia self-published Monster Hunter International in dead-tree format, and did so well a major publishing house picked him up and gave him a multi-book deal. Baen now sells the eBook version at $6.00.

I have to wonder if Larry might not have done better staying independent.

Hey Roberta! Are you going to port I Work on a Starship to iBook format?

Monday, March 07, 2011

I Live Too Damned Far from Knoxville

Full-auto goodness?  With free ammo

Lucky Gunner is putting on a blogshoot in Knoxville, TN over the Memorial Day weekend.

I may have to re-think my idea of flying someone to Reno for Gun Blogger Rendezvous VI.

On second thought, maybe not. United wants over $700 to get to Knoxville.

Damn.

UPDATE, 3/9:  Best.  Birthday.  Present.  EVER.  (Except maybe for the D.C. Circuit Court Parker decision of 2007.)  USCitizen has comped me airline tickets to Knoxville.  I'm GOING!  See you there!

Ammo Recall

I haven't seen this one elsewhere:
PRODUCT WARNING AND RECALL NOTICE


WINCHESTER® RANGER® LAW ENFORCEMENT 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point®


3/1/2011


Olin Corporation, through its Winchester Division, is recalling six (6) lots of its RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® (PP) centerfire rifle ammunition (Symbol Number RA223R2).


Lot Numbers (last four characters): DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51


Through extensive evaluation Winchester has determined the above lots of RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition may contain incorrect propellant. Incorrect propellant in this ammunition may cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable, and subject the shooter or bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury when fired.


DO NOT USE WINCHESTER® RANGER® 223 REMINGTON 64 GRAIN POWER-POINT® AMMUNITION THAT HAS A LOT NUMBER ENDING IN DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51. The ammunition Lot Number is ink stamped inside the right tuck flap of the 20-round carton, as indicated here:


To determine if your ammunition is subject to this notice, review the Lot Number. If the last four characters of the Lot Number are DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51 immediately discontinue use and contact Winchester toll-free at 866-423-5224 to arrange for replacement ammunition and free UPS pick-up of the recalled ammunition.


This notice applies only to RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® centerfire rifle ammunition with lot numbers ending in DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51. Other Symbol Numbers or Lot Numbers are not subject to this recall.


If you have any questions concerning this RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition recall please call toll-free 866-423-5224, write to Winchester (600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, IL 62024 Attn: RA223R2 Recall), or visit our website at www.winchester.com.


We apologize for this inconvenience.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Apparently I'm "Illogical and Irrational"

I got this email Friday, entitled "You and Your Blog"  Bear with me here, it's a bit long-winded:
Hello Kevin,

I was wondering if you were Catholic or not as there is no other rational reason to defend them and their thousands of years of bloody history.

And IF you are a Catholic, you DO realize the odds are very high ONLY reason you are is because of WHO raised you.

Yep, IF you are a Catholic, the odds are extremely high you were "programmed" into being a Catholic rather than a Protestant, Jew or Moslem.

And, you were also programmed believe in a single god.  Of course, had you been programmed into the Hindu faith, rather than your believing in one non-existent god, you'd believe in many non-existent gods.

Next, as I saw you had a link to my long time friend and fellow Atheist Eugene's blog "The Volokh Conspiracy" This, and some of your other comments, indicate to me you may be one of the Many, Many Millions of Former Christians who have successfully DE-Programmed themselves and you are now an Atheist as well.

FYI In my view, Atheists ARE the most discriminated against minority in the US in spite of Atheists being the Leaders, and/or among the leaders in every field other than religion. (And maybe "rap" music)

(Of course, more than a few Atheists were leaders on the field of religion for years before they came to their senses.)

PROOF

http://www.celebatheists.com/

http://www.jmarkgilbert.com/atheists.html

http://machineslikeus.com/famous-atheists.htm


--------

The following is a "copy and paste" of an email sent to a friend in reply to one he had sent me about some 'Prison Minister' comparing the Moslem Religion to the Christian one. One line in it was about how this minister "Walks With God"

WALK WITH GOD?

REALLY?

WHICH GOD?

HUMANS HAVE INVENTED, THEN NAMED AND WORSHIPPED TWENTY FIVE THOUSAND OF THEM SO FAR

AND THERE IS NO PROOF ANY OF THEM ARE REAL

THE ONLY REASON STEVE, YOU ARE NOT A JEW IS BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT RAISED BY JEWS THE ONLY REASON YOU ARE NOT A MOSLEM IS BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT RAISED BY MOSLEMS

AND, THE ONLY REASON YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN MANY GODS IS BECAUSE YOU WERE NOT RAISED BY HINDUS

FYI STEVE,

THE BIBLE INSTRUCTS IT'S BELIEVERS TO KILL ALL NON-CHRISTIANS

NOT ONLY FOR MANY YEARS DID THE CHRISTIANS DO JUST THAT, THERE ARE CHRISTIANS WHO WOULD DO THE EXACT SAME TODAY!

SO JUST WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM????

DUH!!!!

AND FYI

"ALL GODS ONLY EXIST IN THE MINDS OF THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THEM!"

"NO GOD EXISTS IN THE PHYSICAL REAL WORLD OR IN THE COSMOS"

-----------------------------

Neil C. Reinhardt

"A 76 year old Pro Iraq War Agnostic Atheist Activist, 101st Airborne Vet and an Iconoclastic, Philosophizing, Beach VolleyBall Playing Grumpy Old Son Of A Beach!"

I am one of many Conservative Atheists who are PROUD TEA PARTY Supporters

And a member of All of the following:

http://www.Atheists.org/
http://www.AtheistsUnited.org/
http://www.FFRF.org/
http://MAAF.info/
http://www.NRA.org/
http://VetsForFreedom.org/
So, right off the bat, it's obvious Mr. Reinhardt hasn't bothered to do any search of the blog on the topic, but he's got no problem telling me how brainwashed I am, and volunteering to show me The Way.

I've already had a few hundred words to say on the topic, so I responded, briefly:
Google is your friend.  I am an atheist - note the small "a."  You, on the other hand, are an anti-theist.

Why do I "defend Catholicism"?  Because in generaI I am in agreement with Theodore Dalrymple (himself an atheist) on the topic of religion.
Well!  This apparently struck Mr. Reinhardt as rude.  I didn't think it was as rude as his first condescending email, but hey everyone's entitled to their own opinion, no?

So, on Saturday I get not one, not two, but three emails from Mr. Reinhardt at 12:18AM, 12:58AM and 1:02AM. I suspect insomnia.

Email #1:
Hello Kevin

Logic is MY friend.

And LOGIC sez:

I can be not only be BOTH an Atheist AND an Anti-theist at the same time, I can be, as I am, a Agnostic Atheist Activist.
Fair enough, though I'm not sure how one can be an "Agnostic Atheist," but "Activist"? Surely. That much is obvious.
Email #2:
not done!

ANY NON-PROGRAMMED intelligent, rational, logical and CARING person who HAS A CLUE about all the Wars, Hate, Discrimination, Persecution, Starvations, Torture and Murder, Death ALL caused by various RELIGIONS,

IS AN ANTI-THEIST!

"The Christian God is Cruel, Capricious, Vindictive and Un Just."

Thomas Jefferson

My MANY many years of Experience, plus a wide variety of them, means I am much more experienced than are most who are 76, much less anyone younger.

FYI - Being an Atheist ONLY MEANS

A. YOU are capable on using facts, logic and critical thinking skills on the subject of the actual existence of one, or more, gods!

PERIOD!

B. Very, very sadly, on ANY other subject then the above, the typical Atheist is just as likely to Refuse To Learn, and/or to Deny ANY facts which disprove their position as are Fundamentalist Christens to do so on subjects like evolution and homosexuals.

The TYPICAL Atheist denies the many facts proving the Iraq War is Fully Justified,

While many, to most, Atheists may be Pro Choice and yet not be Pro Abortion when there is no rational, logical or intelligent reason not to be.

and last,

FUCK THE SMALL "A" BULLSHIT

Christian, Jew, Moslem, Hinduism and on and on are all capitalized. You can bet your ass more more Atheists will be capulizing the word ATHEIST!
I seem to have struck an infected nerve.

Email #3 was a reference list of non-atheists talking about how wonderful Mr. Reinhardt and his logic are. I won't bother to reproduce that email, but I felt prompted to respond to it about 11:30AM. That response apparently vanished into the aether, as about 7:30PM I received two more missives, entitled "No Response? 'Oh So Sarcastic One'".

Neil's a subtle guy, huh?

Here's the first of those:
(Of course, your use of logic is not too hot either.)

FYI

As all those who actually have sufficient knowledge of religion, it's many negative effects and how people who are without religion are as just good, if not better, than religious people, are all KNOW Theodore Dalrymple IS WRONG! (Want to translate that into English? - Ed.)

(Thus, so are you.)

And, IF you want to know why I know I AM more qualified to make comments on various subjects than are most, I can most certainly provide the reasons.
I replied:
Sorry I'm not an orthodox member of your personal religion.

Well, not really.

Response enough?
I really shouldn't poke him through the bars. His response:
your reply is just more proof your use of logic is pathetic

I have NO religion

You write pages in your blog and yet you seem to be totally incapatible(sic) of more than little barbs directed toward me

what is wrong child, afraid of being proven wrong?
Unable to resist, I poked him a bit more:
Yes, you do. You are an evangelist for anti-theism, and you're pushing the level of Fred Phelps in offensiveness. You're insisting that I must not-believe the same way you do.

With all due respect for your age, I'm not a child, nor am I the one acting childishly. You might want to check your mirror, sir.

I did send you one response already today, to your email titled "Re: OTHERS ON ME." Did you not receive it?

Here it is again, if you didn't:

--

"Excellent!

"I count among my readers a devout Jew, a Ph.D in astrophysics who was raised in an atheist, socialist household who has come only recently to be a practicing Lutheran, a devout Born-Again Christian of one of the Southern Baptist splinters, and several other atheists.

"I personally don't feel a need to evangelize my atheism. Obviously you do.

"Yes, I recognize the evils that religion has been at the root of throughout history. I also understand the effect that religion has had on civilization as a whole - it is, I believe, primarily responsible for civilization. Religion is an organizing force. It's no surprise that it was the foundation of the first governments. And it's no surprise that later governments separated themselves from the restrictions of the ecclesiastical leadership.

"But certainly I recognize what religion has done.

"I also have seen what atheistic governments have done. 100+ million deaths in just the 20th Century alone. Helluva start for a youngster, don't you think?"

--

That last question is not rhetorical.

I find it interesting that you have friends who are believers. Does that mean you only treat non-orthodox atheists this rudely?
My reply was at about 7:40PM. At 12:40AM he replied. At length. In allcaps:
First,

YOU SAID "I find it interesting that you have friends who are believers. Does that mean you only treat non-orthodox atheists this rudely?"

Well, "Oh So Lacking In Memory"

Your reply to my first email to you was RUDE and SARCASTIC with NO valid reason to be so. (In his opinion. - Ed.)

Does the word HYPOCRITE ring a bell?

(It should as you are one.)

So I returned what I had gotten,

DUH !

YOU SAID: "Yes, you do. You are an evangelist for anti-theism, and you're pushing the level of Fred Phelps in offensiveness."

LOGIC CHILD, LOGIC!

Because I strongly support the use of Facts Over Dogma. Logic Over Emotion,
Knowledge Over Ignorance and I also use critical thinking skills, I KNOW religion
causes many more problems than it solves. (Your NOT knowing it has no effect of it's validity!)

Does NOT make it a religion!


YOU SAID "You're insisting that I must not-believe the same way you do."

HERE YOU DEMONSTRATE YOUR NEED FOR GREATLY INCREASED READING COMPREHENSION SKILLS!

YOU CAN NOT QUOTE ONE SINGLE THING I HAVE WRITTEN, AND/OR SAID WHICH SUPPORTS THAT STATEMENT!

YOU SAID "With all due respect for your age, I'm not a child, nor am I the one acting childishly. You might want to check your mirror, sir."

YEA, I CALL SOME THAT WHEN THEY HAVE CHOSEN TO PISS ME OFF

AND/OR

HAVE SAID SOMETHING WHICH AN INTELLIGENT, KNOWLEDGABLE, LOGICAL AND RATIONAL PERSON WOULD NOT HAVE SAID.

YOU SAID: "I did send you one response already today, to your email titled "Re: OTHERS ON ME." Did you not receive it? Here it is again, if you didn't:

DIDN'T RECEIVE IT

YOU SAID: "Excellent! "I count among my readers a devout Jew, a Ph.D in astrophysics who was raised in an atheist, socialist household who has come only recently to be a practicing Lutheran,"

THAT POOR GUY, ANYONE WHO HAS FREELY CHOSEN TO BELIEVE IN:

A. ONE OR MORE OF NON-EXISTENT, MAKE-BELIEVE 25,000 GODS HUMANS HAVE INVENTED, THEN NAMED AND WORSHIPPED SO FAR.

B. CHOSES TO BELIEVE IN THINGS WHICH ARE IMPOSSIBLE,

C. CHOSES TO BELIEVE IN THINGS WHICH ARE BREAK THE LAWS OF PHYSICS AND NATURE

C. CHOSES TO BELIEVE IN THINGS WHICH NO ONE WITH ANY COMMON SENSE WOULD NOT BELIEVE

IS NOT PLAYING WITH A FULL DECK. THEY HAVE BATS IN THEIR BELFRY, THE LIGHTS ARE ON AND NO ONE IS HOME.

THEY ARE WHACCKO!

YOU SAID "a devout Born-Again Christian of one of the Southern Baptist splinters,

A PROGRAMMED RELIGIOUS ROBOT

YOU SAID: "and several other atheists."

IF VERY SADLY, THEY ARE TYPICAL ATHEISTS, THEY ARE JUST AS WILLING TO REFUSE TO LEARN, AND/OR DENY ANY FACTS WHICH PROVE THEM WRONG AS CHRISTIANS DO ON EVOLOUTION, ABORTIONS & HOMOSEXUALS


YOU SAID:
"I personally don't feel a need to evangelize my atheism."

HEY IF YOU LIKE BEING A MEMBER OF THE MOST DISCRIMINATED MINORITY IN THE US AND NOT STANDING UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS, IT IS YOUR CHOICE

OF COURSE, IF ALL WERE LIKE YOU, THEN THE BLACKS, THE WOMEN AND HOMOSEXUALS WOULD STILL BE BEING TREATED AS POORLY AS THEY WERE BEFORE ENOUGH OF THEM STOPPED BEING LIKE YOU AND ACTED MORE LIKE ME.

SO YOU SHOULD NOT BITCH ABOUT THOSE WHO ARE IN THE PROCESS OF GETTING ATHEISTS FAIR AND EQUAL TREATMENT.

"Obviously you do."

YEP, BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT RIGHT OVER WRONG! GOOD OVER EVIL! IN DOING THE RIGHT THING!

OBVIOUSLY YOU DO NOT!

YOU SAID: "Yes, I recognize the evils that religion has been at the root of throughout history. I also understand the effect that religion has had on civilization as a whole - it is, I believe, primarily responsible for civilization."

NO PROOF OF THAT

"Religion is an organizing force. It's no surprise that it was the foundation of the first governments."

RELIGION DOES, AND ALWAYS HAS SUPPRESSED FREEDOM AND VERY GREATLY SLOWED PROGRESS.

And it's no surprise that later governments separated themselves from the restrictions of the ecclesiastical leadership"

THE US WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE FIRST. ONLY THE CHRISTIANS KEEP SCREWING OVER OTHERS

"But certainly I recognize what religion has done."

REALLY? WHY ARE WE IN WARS TODAY? DO THEY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION?

WHY ARE NEARLY ALL TERRORISTS RELIGIOUS ONES?

JONES TOWN - HEAVENS GATE, WACO

BOMBING HEALTH CARE CLINICS, GAY BARS AND THE OLYMPICS!

WHY ARE THEY BLOCKING STEM CELL RESEARCH AND USE?, OR COMPREHENSIVE SEX EDUCATION WHEN FACTS PROVE IT REDUCES SEX CRIMES, STD RATES, UNWANTED PREGANCIES AND ABORTIONS?

AS WELL AS HEALTH AND WELFARE COSTS AND CRIMES.

"I also have seen what atheistic governments have done. 100+ million deaths in just the 20th Century alone. Helluva start for a youngster, don't you think?"

"GIVE ME A CHILD UNTIL THE AGE OF SIX AND THEY ARE MINE FOREVER" (That's not an answer, that's evasion. - Ed.)

WHILE NOT ALWAYS TRUE OR THERE WOULD NOT BE MULTI-MILLIONS OF FORMER CHRISTIANS WHO ARE NOW ATHEISTS/

YET, THOSE EARLY CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHINGS MAY BE PART OF WHY MARX, STALIN & CASTRO, ALL EDUCATED BY JESUITS, TURNED OUT LIKE THEY DID.

ATHEISTS DO NOT TELL OTHERS THEIR BELIEFS BAR THEM FROM DOING THINGS THEY THEN DO

HITLER WAS A CATHOLIC, NEARLY ALL GERMANS AND ITALIANS WERE CHRISTIANS DURING WWII

DO YOU SEE THE ATHEISTS WHO ARE GIVING MULTI BILLIONS OF $$ TO HELP OTHERS?

CARNEGIE: - FREE LIBRARIES AND 90% OF HIS FORTUNE

TURNER: ONE BILLION

GATES: BILLONS A YEAR

BUFFET: WELL OVER 3O BILLION

WHAT IS SAD IS I SENT MY FIRST EMAIL IN THE HOPES OF OUR BEING FRIENDS. ONLY YOUR SARCASTIC REPLY SURE ENDED THAT.
And I'm just crushed by that.

You can almost feel the flecks of spittle flying, can't you? Then at 4:05AM and again at 4:31AM and AGAIN at 4:34AM he fired off three more emails. The first was an essay cut-and-pasted I won't inflict on you. The second was this fire-and-brimstone:
I will back off of the subject of religion and quit pointing out ALL of the Bad Things Christians Do when:

1. When religious people are not so ignorant (as they have in the past) as to say Atheists are not really Atheists, they only "Claim" to be Atheists.

This is an INSULT as it infers that I, and other Atheists, are either so stupid we do not know what we believe OR we are lying!

2. When religious people stop saying totally stupid things like:

"There are no Atheists in foxholes" when there have been American Atheists fighting in every war the United States has ever been in.

3. When Atheist and Agnostic are capitalized just like the names of ALL religions are.

4. When somehow those who do the hiring find out we are Atheists and it does not cause us to not be hired.

OR cause us to be fired after we are hired.

OR stop us from being promoted.

5. When people knowing were are Atheists does not get our business boycotted.

6. When writing an article or a letter to the editor in which we state we are an Atheist does not get us fired. OR get us HATE Mail (all unsigned of course) and HATE phone calls.

7. When bring a court case to enforce the Separation of Church and State does not elicit HATE Mail and/or HATE phone calls and/or DEATH threats from some "loving, turn the other cheek" hypocrite Christian.

8. When being an Atheist does not get your property vandalized JUST because you are an Atheist.

9. When being an Atheist does not get your children harassed and/or beaten up JUST because you are an Atheist.

10. When being an Atheist does not get your pets hurt, stolen or killed JUST because you are an Atheist.

11. When being an Atheist does not get you beaten up JUST because you are an Atheist.

12. When being an Atheist does not get you KILLED JUST because you are an Atheist.

13. When EVERY State in the U.S. treats Atheists just as well as they treat Christians.

14. When they STOP having Witch Trials in the United States. (Last one I know of was in Oklahoma in 2006.)

15. When they take their religious propaganda OUT of OUR pledge and OFF of OUR paper money.

(Thus putting our pledge and our paper money BACK to where they were in 1954.)

16. When they STOP trying to put THEIR (or any) prayers in schools where they do not belong in the first place.

17. When the American taxpayer STOPS having to pay EXTRA taxes to illegally support religion in the U.S. (It was an average of $900 a year BEFORE Bush got into office & so it HAS TO BE higher now.)

18. When Christians STOP LYING about the religious belief of our Founding Fathers

19. When Christians STOP LYING about the Founding of our country.

20. When Christians STOP LYING about the principals they United States was founded on.

21. When Christians STOP barring progress by doing stupid things like preventing embryonic stem cell research and stopping the sale of birth control pills.

(NO ONE makes the Christians do any thing they do not want to do and they have NO RIGHT to force others to live by their rules.)

During the Dark Ages, Christians held up progress for many hundreds of years. Had they not done that we would be hundreds of years ahead of were we are now! This most probably would have meant there would be NO CANCER now & many kinds of other fantastic medical advances would have been accomplished.

22. When Christians STOP DENYING scientific facts!

23. When MOST Americans Atheists are NO longer so VERY AFRAID of what our Christian neighbors will do to us if they know we are Atheists, they will be very open about being Atheists.

TODAY, MOST American Atheists are SO AFRAID of what Christians might do the them if they know they are Atheists, they do not make it publicly knowledge they are Atheists.

Some Atheists will not even tell their close "friends" and/or their families because they are afraid of the poor treatment they will receive. (And that is a SHAME!)

24. When an Atheist, who has made it publicly known they are an Atheist, can be elected to any public office ( including the Presidency ) in the United States as easily as a Christian can be.

(I'm very sure I've forgotten some things where Atheists are put at a disadvantage ONLY because we are Atheists.)

We American Atheists have been nice, meek and screwed over in the United States for more than long enough!

Just like the Blacks, Women and Gays before us had to take action to stop being stepped on, so should we. Once they decided to stop being nice, meek and not being heard from. Once they decided to stop putting up with being treated as lower class citizens, they then took the steps they needed to take.

Now, some of we Atheists are so sick and tired of the way Christians have been treating us, WE WILL CHANGE THINGS or Damn Well DIE in the attempt!

----------------------------------------

"There was a time when the Christians Ruled The Known World, it is called THE DARK AGES!"

H. RUTH GREEN

----------------------------------------

I thank you for your time and may we all, "Live Long and Prosper!

Please, Take Care!
Nice touch there, that last.  And then this:
Calling Atheism a religion is asinine!

(And something only the programmed religious robots would come up with.)

Atheism doe NOT fit one definition of religion I have ever read much less the definition as accepted by the vast majority of people.


And aside from from the fact religions have to do with beliefs in supernatural, all the members of any religion all share MORE than ONE belief in common,


The ONLY belief all Atheists share in common is they do NOT believe in one, or more, of the 25,000 named gods which humans have invented so far.


Atheists have NO dogma, NO guide book telling them what rules to follow or what to believe.


NO instructions, as the Christians do, telling them to KILL ALL OF THOSE who do not believe as they do.

-------------------------

I have found, other on the subject of the existence of one, or more gods, Atheists are NOT any more rational or logical as religious people are.


And I have found religious people to be as rational and logical on ALL subjects OTHER THAN THEIR OWN RELIGION and the existence of THEIR god or gods, as are most Atheists.


Sadly, I find many Atheists are just as prone to deny any facts which prove them wrong as religious people are. Just like religious people, their little illogical minds are made up and things like facts make no difference to them.

---------------

As far as Agnostics and Atheists go, I submit the following.


For some reason, (totally beyond me) it seems many people don't seem to either know, or they are totally unable to comprehend, the difference in the definitions of "KNOW" and "BELIEVE"


They seem not to fathom those two words do NOT mean the same thing.


So I will attempt to explain it in the most simple terms I know.


The last time I started a car, I KNOW it started. The next time I attempt to start a car, it may, or it may not, start.


Therefore, while I BELIEVE the car will start, there is NO WAY for me to KNOW if it is going to start or not UNTIL I try to start it.


Agnostics should ask themselves a very simple question:


Do I BELIEVE in a god?


The answer is EITHER "YES" or "NO"

(It is NOT "sometimes" and anyone who says it is ain't worth wasting any time with as they are clueless.)


If they answer "Yes, I BELIEVE in a god"

they are NOT Agnostics,

they ARE theists!


If they answer "No, I do NOT BELIEVE in a god"

they are NOT Agnostics,

they are Atheists!


An Agnostic KNOWS there is absolutely NO way to KNOW if there is a god or not.


As I also know there is NO way for me to KNOW it there is a god or not, I AM an Agnostic.


An Atheist believes there is insufficient evidence to BELIEVE in a god or gods.


As I have never found any evidence what- so-ever one, or more gods exist, I AM ALSO an Atheist.


Thus, I AM an Agnostic Atheist.


And while I've convinced some Atheists / Agnostics to join me in self identifying as being BOTH an Agnostic AND an Atheist, I have also met some who figured it out on their own before we ever met.

-------------------------

A "thinking" Christian (Oh boy, what an oxymoron that is) would state they were an Agnostic Christian.


As there is NO way for them to KNOW if there is a Christian God or not AND they BELIEVE there is.


I actually met a Christians who was bright and logical enough to call himself an "Agnostic Christian" (Sure wish I could remember who it was.)

------------------------------------------

HOW COMES EVIL?

Either God wants to abolish evil and can- not; Or, he can but does not want to;
Or, he cannot, and does not want to;

If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent! If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked!

If he neither can, nor wants to,
He is powerless and wicked!

But if God can abolish evil, and wants to,
How comes evil into the world?

-------------------------------------------

EVIL is not only what humans do, it is the diseases, plagues, volcanoes, floods earthquakes, fires, tornados, hurricanes, etc. ect any real ALL Powerful and ALL Knowing who was also Kind, Caring, Just, Compassionate and Decent god would stop from happening.


Therefore, the only logical assumptions are either the god of the Christians does NOT exist OR he/she/it is really totally incompetent.

"The Christian god is cruel, capacious. vindictive and unjust."

Thomas Jefferson
Actually, that last quote goes like this:
The Christian God is a being of terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.
I've never argued otherwise. But I prefer this Jefferson quote, as I believe it has more bearing on the topic at hand:
Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?
Good question.

So this morning I fired off another reply:
This is truly fascinating. In my first response to you, all I said was "Google is your friend," and you're all butthurt over that? And now you've descended into multiple emails, calling me "child," shouting in ALLCAPS, and you can't understand why I don't take you seriously?

I think I'm going to get an amusing post out of this. Thanks so much.
This being that post. I do try to keep my promises.

But at 9:40 this morning, I couldn't pass up making one point:
Really, this is just too good not to comment on:

From:  (Religion Sucks)
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 18:14:54 -0800
Subject: Atheism a Religion?

Calling Atheism a religion is asinine!

"I will back off of the subject of religion and quit pointing out ALL of the Bad Things Christians Do when:

"1. When ...

"3. When Atheist and Agnostic
are capitalized just like the names of ALL religions are."
 
(Bold, my emphasis.  Capitalization, yours.)

Contradict yourself much?

No, your religion doesn't postulate a supernatural Supreme Being who requires our adulation and supplication, but it does apparently have a strict moral code that you've designated yourself the enforcer of, and determined that I am heretical to.

And you wonder why I dismiss you?

I'm familiar with fanatics, being one myself - won't change my mind, won't change the subject, won't shut up - albeit on a different subject, but I at least learned a while back that shouting at people and sending them unsolicited tracts is very seldom of any use.

Good day to you sir.
Which prompted his final shot at me:
IT OBVIOUS YOU ARE TOO ILLOGICAL AND IRRATIONAL TO HAVE A CLUE
Don't go away mad, Neil. Just go away.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Quote of the Day - Instapundit Edition

I would vote for a syphilitic camel over Barack Obama in 2012
--  Glenn Reynolds, 3/5/11

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Quote of the Day - A Little Strong Edition

Islam will be the defining problem of the 21st Century the same way Communism was to the 20th. It is an existential threat to Western Civilization and like Communism, it needs to be eradicated. - Snarkybytes, That Equal Protection Thing?
I see it as more pre-Reformation Catholicism. Islam can't be "eradicated" any more than Communism can. As the poster says,





Catholicism was never what Islam is, a complete guide on how to live your life during every waking moment, a guide and exhortation to take over the world, but it was the overwhelmingly most powerful force in the lives of ordinary Western people for centuries until its corruption spawned Luther and the Reformation.

Islam isn't so much corrupted as it is being properly interpreted by those who want to drag the world, beaten and bloody, back into the 14th Century. What needs to happen is a rejection of its teachings. But no matter what, it won't be "eradicated." No idea ever really is. It needs to be ridiculed into oblivion.

Good Luck With That

Remember Yasir Afifi, the 20 year-old American-born college student that discovered that the FBI had stuck a GPS tracking device on his car? And when the FBI turned up to recover it, told him "We're going to make this much more difficult for you if you don't cooperate"?

He's suing, "hoping for a ruling that any use of tracking devices without a warrant in the United States is unconstitutional."

Mr. Afifi lives in the 9th Circuit. That Court has already decided his case with the precedent-setting U.S. v Pidena-Moreno. Stare decisis that says he hasn't got a snowball's chance, and neither do the rest of us.

Remember, the 9th Circuit is where judge Alex Kozinski wrote in a dissent, chastising his fellow judges:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or...the press” also means the Internet...and that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" also means public telephone booths....When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we're none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it's using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.
Judge Kozinski wrote a dissent in Pidena-Moreno, too.  Among other things, he said this:
The needs of law enforcement, to which my colleagues seem inclined to refuse nothing, are quickly making personal privacy a distant memory. 1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it's here at last.

Hypocrisy

One of my co-workers dropped an op-ed on my desk this afternoon from the local daily rag, entitled Yes, we've had reason to fear, but we've chosen not to own a gun. Please do hop over and read it, as I won't excerpt much from it here.

Done? Good.

I was inspired to leave a comment, which was this:
"Call us naive, but we believe that although there is evil in the world, most people are good; we have a moral obligation to help one another whenever we can because that's the kind of world we want to inhabit."

I am reminded of this quote:
The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.
So Sharon and Dick, instead of opening their door and inviting the burglar in to take whatever he needed to survive, instead called the Sheriff's department to send out an deputy - an armed deputy - to prevent their property from being stolen, or their lives from being threatened.

They're not actually morally superior, they just think they are. They're more than willing to farm out the threat of lethal force in their defense, they're just not willing to take that responsibility on themselves.

Just so they can claim the moral high ground.

In other words, they're hypocrites.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Self-inflicted

Yesterday's QotD came from a comment left by the Geekwitha45 to a previous post.  That comment in its entirety goes:
The MSM isn't broken.

It's operating effectively, as designed and intended. Unfortunately, being a source of unbiased, deep information is not a design consideration.

What *is* broken is the electorate, which failed to detect that condition and correct for it.

This is why I no longer believe myself to have any duty of conscience to be chained to the outcomes of a broken electorate or electoral process.

Which sucks, because all I ever really wanted from my government was a vigorous defense of my natural rights, in a package that was safe enough to mostly ignore, instead of the ringside seats at the horror show.

Wheee.
One of my co-workers has a cartoon-a-day calendar of New Yorker cartoons.  This one is from a few days ago:
I've got a few thousand words to say on this topic that I just can't get written down.  I hate when that happens, but I thought I'd share the picture with you and prompt you for your thoughts.  Maybe you'll break my damned dam free.