Saturday, July 31, 2010

On Atheism and Morality

Another comment from yesterday's maelstrom.
Because atheists (of which I am one, just to be clear) are just as capable of seeing the value of human life despite their lack of belief in the supernatural, which I thought I made clear in my comment @JeffBurton. In short, mysticism is not a prerequisite for morality.
Christians are called to be more Christ-like. Atheists are called to be more ... nothing. There is no analog in atheism for the goal of living your life as Christ taught. Atheism is a nullity. That's neither good nor bad, it just is.

The claim that atheists are just as likely as Christians to value any morality at all can be generalized into this claim: Goals are irrelevant in achieving things. Let's use something other than religion and apply the same logic.

My daughter plays club soccer. She can say to herself "I am a soccer player and I wish to be just like Kaka, the great Brazilian midfielder." Or she can say to herself, "I am a kid and to me, soccer is just one of many competing activities." The choice she makes will have major ramifications in her life. If she chooses one, she will work on ball control and power shots. She will end up as a starter on the team. If she chooses the other she will be just as likely to watch SpongeBob as anything else. She will end up riding the bench this year and be kicked off the team the next.

Let's rewrite that comment with this example.
Because kids (of which I am one, just to be clear) are just as capable of playing quality soccer despite their lack of devotion to the game, which I thought I made clear in my comment @JeffBurton. In short, dedication is not a prerequisite for skill.
This is clearly nonsense.

Atheists most certainly have a strong argument when it comes to repeatable scientific experimentation. They have no argument at all when it comes to morality and it's an act of wishful thinking (faith?) to suggest that they do.

Kaka would have been this good had he not devoted himself to the sport of soccer, right?

The Fact That Scientists Are More Likely To Be Atheists Proves ...

... Everything! Or nothing! Or both!

In mulling it over, I couldn't help thinking about this scene from The Princess Bride.

Scientists are driven by reason, so clearly God does not exist! But military men are more likely to be Christians and they know all about life and death, so clearly God exists! However, the Europeans are more secular and Europe is the source of Western civilization, so clearly God is a fable! But millions of Asians convert to Christianity every year and they're no dummies, so clearly Christ was real! ...

On Sin and Running Away from Hell

Yesterday's garbled foray into science and atheism yielded a bountiful harvest of intelligent and well-reasoned comments. It will take me a while to digest these without awakening my polemicist side*, but this I shall endeavor to do. First off, I want to deal with an issue that comes up frequently when I interact with atheists and that is sin and Hell. Here it is summed up from a comment from that last post.
To say that we should instead be driven to goodness out of fear of divine retribution is as laughably ridiculous as it is tragically sad.
The most devout Christians I know are not running away from Hell, they are running towards Christ. My wife volunteers at hospice as does a family friend of ours. The evangelicals at Pt. Loma Nazarene host the annual San Diego Special Olympics. I volunteer to coach kids' sports. We don't do this because we're afraid of some kind of eternal damnation, but because we're trying to be more Christ-like in our lives.

Here, St. Augustine is telling the devil where to find me. "Third door on your left. You can't miss him. Feel free to take him right away, he's been very naughty!"
This is not one of my worries.

Similarly, the sacrament of Confession is less about avoiding the fires of Hell and more about learning from your mistakes and trying to become more loving in your life. I can't remember the last time one of my confessions wasn't used as an object lesson by the priest to become more loving in the things I do.

Striving to be more like Christ is the essence of Christianity. Yes, there is such a thing as sin and Hell, but that concerns me less than where I am on the road to living my life in a Christian way.

* - My repeated battles with my polemicist nature come not from the fact that screaming at people is a sin, but instead from the fact that it is an unloving thing to do.

Friday, July 30, 2010

What's the Connection Between Atheism and Science?

OK, I have to say I don't get it. I'm now going through Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity? which is a response to a whole mound of pro-atheism books that have been published lately. Early in the book he goes through some statistics about how many scientists are atheists. The numbers are strongly in favor of atheism.


My education is in theoretical mathematics. I have patents in neural networks and adaptive signal processing. I spent much of my early career as a research scientist. I also go to church every week*. What's the big deal? What am I missing? Not only am I confused, but I would bet our scientific forefathers would be mystified as well. Kepler was quite religious and Mendel was a monk. Were they not scientists? Maybe they were stupid, but I doubt it.

I suspect that the scientists' atheism has less to do with science and more to do with their objection to having anyone place any moral limits on their behavior. In Dinesh's quotes from various pro-atheism books, the rejection of any moral authority is a continuing theme.

Darwinist atheism at work. In Chicago, a 13-year-old boy was shot 22 times. No doubt his attackers rejected external moral authority, too. Go team!

* - OK, so I missed last week, but that was understandable. My daughter had a soccer tournament. I'm hoping He will forgive me this transgression.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Expect Lots More Android-based Devices

I can't wait to see what else comes out with Android. I'm becoming a total Android fanboy. Dig this.
Motorola Inc., the U.S. mobile-phone maker, reported second-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates, helped by demand for its new range of smartphones...

Motorola’s Droid X, the company’s latest phone based on Google Inc.’s Android software, sold out at Verizon Wireless and Best Buy Co. stores after its debut this month. Such demand, following the success of the original Droid released late last year, bodes well for a recovery at Motorola...

“The Droid X appears to be off to a good start, fueling confidence in Motorola’s handset turnaround,” said McKechnie, who is based in San Francisco and has a “buy” rating on the stock.
Nothing says "imitate me!" in the corporate world quite like an unexpected jump in profits. Yay!

Cheezburger of the Day

The Photo Makes Me Laugh

... and the coffee isn't too bad, either. You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the photo. The top of the blog is loaded with ads for the coffee.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Our New Performance Rating System At Work

... is hopelessly complicated. All performance rating systems boil down to this simple task: reward people according to how much you want to keep them. Peyton Manning gets millions. The second-string left guard gets league minimum. That's it. That's all there is to it. Where I work, we're developing a system that uses numerical ratings in several personal development areas which are then averaged to create an overall score which is then used to discover your zone on a graph of score vs. salary which then tells the manager what table to use for calculating raises and bonuses.

Here is a perfect metaphor for our new system.

We're accomplishing incredibly simple things through massively complex means in a language none of us understand.

Texas Ingenuity Triumphs Again

This is fantastic. Read about The Dallas Solution. Is that not one of the greatest things you've seen all week?

A Solution That Can't Be Enacted Is No Solution At All

In the previous post, I wrote that this year is the high water mark of social spending. From here on out, there is nothing but budget cuts at all levels for a long time to come. Any solution to a social injustice, to poor performance in education or international and military affairs that requires us to spend more money than we have been is no solution at all.

Why Did Cory Fail?

In the past week, I've posted two videos. One was of the mayor of Newark reacting with rational alarm at his city's horrific budget situation. The other was an interview with a homeless man who lives in San Francisco. The mayor shows the trend - bankrupt cities - and the homeless fellow shows the results - no change in the social pathologies.

Newark's mayor is a Democrat and from what I've inferred from reading stories about the city, the city council is predominantly Democrat as well. Dittos for San Francisco. They've not faced significant political opposition in enacting their programs.

These aren't stupid people. Their accumulated experience running city government and providing social services is substantial. For example, here a tidbit from Newark Mayor Cory Booker's bio on Wikipedia.
After Stanford, Booker won a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at The Queen's College, Oxford, where he was awarded an honors degree in modern history in 1994...

Booker obtained a J.D. in 1997 from Yale Law School where he started and operated free legal clinics for low-income residents of New Haven. He was also a Big Brother*, and was active in the Black Law Students Association. Booker lived in Newark during his final year at Yale and following graduation served as Staff Attorney for the Urban Justice Center in New York and Program Coordinator of the Newark Youth Project.
Despite a resume that would make anyone proud, Cory is a failure at his job. The Newark city council is a failure. The city of San Francisco is a failure. The social pathologies that Cory and his brethren have dedicated their lives to fighting are still going strong. Meanwhile, Cory and his comrades are facing up to the fact that in fighting these ills, they haven't just spent all of their money, they've spent all of their children's money as well. Last year was the high water mark for massively funded social programs. From here on out there will be only budget cuts in social services.

The game is over and they have lost.

Whenever I see intelligent and educated people with lots of financial backing fail, it indicates not that they were stupid or evil or corrupt, but that their underlying worldview was wrong. It can't be otherwise. If their worldview was correct, then with all of their money and effort, their solutions should have had a substantial impact in the problems they faced.

Why did Cory fail?

* - From this it is fair to infer that Cory cares. He really cares about helping others. Whatever his results, we need to assume that his motives have been pure as have the motives of his colleagues.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When Did Evil Become So Trivial?

Whatever happened to grand evil? What happened to those who wanted to purify the human race through mass slaughter or those who wanted total world domination at the end of a bayonet? How sad our evil has become, how trivial. Where Margaret Sanger, the foundress of Planned Parenthood wished to eliminate the feedleminded through eugenics, the highest ambition of that organization is now to help us rut like hogs in a sty.

What went wrong?

In The Pivot of Civilization, the Magster said that the feebleminded are the cause of all kinds of problems - poverty, crime, starvation, etc. so it would be best if didn't let them breed. In The Descent of Man, Chuck Darwin told us to use selective breeding to eliminate moral impurities. In Mein Kampf, Adolph Schicklegruber suggested that a strict program of breeding and slaughter would lead to a purer, dominant Aryan race. Well, those triumphant wills have departed and all we're left with are the ever-growing mounds of corpses. Millions of babies are slaughtered every year and for what? Are we marching towards a glorious, new earthly paradise? Hardly. Brilliantly argued eugenic theory is now being used in the service of Hugh Hefner.


The circle is complete. Here, the 2009 Margaret Sanger Award Winner pushes the "Reset" button with an official from a nation where women use pureed, aborted babies to keep their skin looking young. At least the Einsatzgruppen were trying to accomplish something bigger than helping dumpy Russian matrons lie about their age.

A Bit More Steampunk

The Steampunk Tribune is loaded with beautiful artwork and clever ideas. This video, featured on that site, is 4 minutes long and worth the time. The music is perfectly suited to the scenery. I like the mechanical shrimp the best. What a wonderfully beautiful and impractical invention! Glorious!

Post-Apocalyptic Airships, Part II

Tim, visiting from his entomological hideaway, suggested that yesterday's post about blimps being the ultimate post-apocalyptic vehicle might be improved through the use of coal-fired steam engines. Indeed it could be, Tim, indeed it could be. Jules Verne and Disney thought so, too.

It's a virtual remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Charles Bronson instead of Kirk Douglas and Vincent Price instead of whoever it was who played Captain Nemo. Jules Verne hypothesized helicopter airships in Master of the World in 1904. I remember reading this story in grade school in comic book form. I knew it was Jules Verne, but I never went back to read the real one.

There are plenty of good illustrations of these beasts on the Interweb Tubes. The Steampunk Tribune has a very attractive set here. You can find excellent ones which illustrated Jules Verene's original books as well.

Frank Reade, Jr., makes another good point about using airships as a post-apocalyptic vehicle. You can fish from them!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Ultimate Post-Apocalyptic Vehicle

No, it's not a Hummer with machine guns, it's not an Abrams tank, it's not even the Batmobile. It's a blimp.

Zombies, road warriors and tumult under the Earth's crust can't reach you when you're 7,000 feet in the air. Unlike the cars you see in those movies, if you give the blimp solar-powered engines to supplement the gas ones, you can stay up without refueling for a long, long time. The Goodyear blimp has space to carry passengers that can be used to store fuel, food and water. I would bet that you could develop a clever anchoring / winching system that would allow you to bring the beast down to land, particularly if you weren't worried about the property damage you might do if you snagged your anchor into a building as a mooring. Throw in a sniper rifle or two and perhaps some other weapons systems to clear away the undead when you cruised into town for supplies and you've got a pretty formidable apocalypse survival machine.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday Afternoon After Work

... just sitting on the front walkway with my favorite Maximum Leader.

"Most of my Money Goes to Beer and Tobacco"

YouTube recommended this one to me because of a documentary I'd watched on Skid Row in LA. To me, this is the story of a beautiful person who can't get out of his own way. He needs love and support to stop his self-destructive habits and also to keep him on the straight and narrow path. It's not a story of class struggle or oppression by the rich and powerful or even of sin and degradation. He's just a guy who doesn't naturally have a strong will. The addictions are stronger than he is.

Yes, I saw the theme running through it blaming everyone else or perhaps no one in particular for his problems. "They mysteriously fired me" followed by a story of going back to drinking. Those dots are pretty easy to connect. It didn't make me think he was a failure, however. It just made me think he needed the affection and guidance of others to keep him strong.

If Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

... then wouldn't having to provide fewer necessities for yourself lead to less inventiveness?

I've been noodling over the meaning of this post over at our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings wherein all manner of hidden rules and regulations and portents of the future are revealed for the monstrous ObamaCare legislation that was passed earlier this year. The one about necessity popped into my head, but let's not go political on it. Instead, let's try something more general.

What would your life be like without credit cards? What are you not doing today because you carry a MasterCard around in your wallet? Your life is easier, but is it better?

Mom and Dad will definitely be more inventive after this. Note that this was part of a Dave Ramsey promotion where he encouraged his fans to send in videos of their "plastectomies".

Friday, July 23, 2010

Newark Points the Way!

... to the future, thanks to compassion funded by our children's future earnings.

The solution, of course, is to repeal child labor laws. We need to get those little rats to work right away so we can continue showing each other how compassionate we are.

H/T: Mish.

Translating Trichet

Jean-Claude Trichet is the chairman of the European Central Bank. He is their counterpart to our Ben Bernanke. Today he came out with an editorial in the Financial Times arguing for no more stimuli.
We have to avoid an asymmetry between bold, if justified, loosening and unduly hesitant retrenchment. There are three main reasons for starting well-designed fiscal consolidation strategies in the industrial countries now, precisely to consolidate the present recovery.
It sounds like gobbledygook because it's coming from a central bank chairman who is also a Frenchman. If that's not a recipe for garbled prose, nothing is. Here at The Scratching Post, we've had our crack team of translators working on this article all night. Here's what Jean-Claude is saying.
If you think I'm going to bail you dingbats out again, you are sadly mistaken. I looked like a complete tool when I printed those trillion Euros to buy your worthless debt and there will be no repeat of that, let me assure you. (Here, Jean Claude makes the traditional Gallic motions in the air with his arms indicating that you may feel free to visit Al Gore's masseuse should you wish him to reconsider his stance on printing money.)
There. That's pretty much it.

What's that? You want me to print more money? Hey! Wait a minute! I think I see your car being towed away! You better run out and check (sotto voce: while I lock the door behind you.)

The Inner Sanctum

... if you mispell it, it reads "The Inner Snactum." It sounds like a vending machine in the stairwell. Not quite so mysterious, is it?

Can you penetrate the Inner Snactum and obtain its hidden treasures?

Watch out for Youths!

... they often cause civil unrest.

I wonder if we know anything more about these youths. Until we learn more, please stay in your homes and watch out for any youths.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I have to admit, I haven't been paying much attention to the whole "refudiate" controversy. Given the sneering, I figured Sarah Palin must be at the center of it. After receiving some mocking emails about it from friends yesterday, I finally did a quick search into it and came up with this summary from Newsweek.
In a series of tweets, Sarah Palin appealed to "peace-seeking Muslims" to reject plans for a mosque and community center to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero, which an advisory board approved in late May. In her first tweet, she wrote "Pls refudiate" and then deleted the tweet. Seemingly recognizing that "refudiate" is not a word, she tweeted, "'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"
That's it? That's the big deal? She tweets a word incorrectly, retracts it and then makes fun of herself and then everyone goes off on her?

What is wrong with these people anyway? How sick do you have to be to go crazy like this? How filled with mindless hate are they? It's like she's a pinata and they're all violent psychotics. Holy moly, she misused a word! Let's tie her to a tree and beat her with a baseball bat until we all fall down laughing!

Every time I watch a Sarah Palin feeding frenzy it makes my skin crawl.

Go rogue much, Sarah haters?

Cheezburger of the Day

This could be our house ...

Successful Missionaries

... what makes them successful?

At Mass last week, we had a Marist nun talk to us during the homily. She had spent her life working with the poor, first in the South Pacific, then in the Caribbean and finally in Africa. As she talked, several things went through my head, one of which was this: What is required for Missionary success?

As I noodled this question around from a marketing point of view, I figured that being a missionary would work best when you came from a nation with a much greater standard of living. After all, the Aztecs with their primitive, almost Stone-Age culture weren't going to convert too many Spaniards. What would they say, "Look, these ideas are great! They made us what we are today - human-sacrificing illiterates!" Not exactly a great sales pitch.

My idea was reinforced when I considered the French missionaries to the Indians such as Father Marquette. As noble as the American Indians were, there would be no denying that Father Marquette came from a far more advanced culture. Imagine seeing a gun work for the first time. It put me in mind of the old saying by Athur C. Clarke - "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Tales of miracles would be more believable when technological miracles were at hand.

It was a very practical line of thought, very reasonable. And then this morning I read this.
Official Chinese surveys now show that nearly one in three Chinese describe themselves as religious, an astonishing figure for an officially atheist country, where religion was banned until three decades ago.

The last 30 years of economic reform have seen an explosion of religious belief. China's government officially recognizes five religions: Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam and Daoism. The biggest boom of all has been in Christianity, which the government has struggled to control.
Arthur C. Clarke's saying is fundamentally flawed as was my line of reasoning. If space aliens landed today and showed the power to teleport around, we would not all assume magic. Instead, in a world where technology has advanced sufficiently, any sufficiently advanced technology would be assumed to be just that - advanced technology. Modern Chinese, however poor, are not the Aztecs or Iroquois. They might be jealous of your iPhone, but they wouldn't think there were little men inside talking to them.

Maybe missionary success depends on the message.

"I got my iPhone down at the mall in Joliet. It's about 15 miles that way."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Windows 7

I'm now using it at work. It took me a while to get used to it, but I really like it. Of course, it helps to have an absolutely screaming machine - i7 with 12 GB RAM and a 1 TB hard drive plus Adobe CS5 Master Collection. Still, I do like Windows 7. When the PC in the Catican finally does give up the ghost, I won't miss XP all that much.

Cheezburger of the Day

In The 17th Century, They Had Crude Cannons, But Outstanding Teleporters

... and I have visual proof.

(A good friend of this blog is in this video.)

Update: This looks like a terrific Lean Six Sigma effort! By developing teleportation, we can cut down on the number of gun crews we hire! Great idea, no? The process improvement team has done it's work, now all we need is for our technical staff to develop teleportation.

People Are Not Rational

... they are rationalizing. Dig this tidbit from a tale of horror by Robert Samuelson. Re: the Massachusetts health care system as a preview of ObamaCare:
People have more access to treatment, though changes are small. In 2006, 87 percent of the non-elderly had a "usual source of care," presumably a doctor or clinic, note Long and Stockley in the journal Health Affairs. By 2009, that was 89.9 percent. In 2006, 70.9 percent received "preventive care"; in 2009, that was 77.7 percent. Out-of-pocket costs were less burdensome.

But much didn't change. Emergency rooms remain as crowded as ever; about a third of the non-elderly go at least once a year, and half their visits involve "non-emergency conditions."
What if the reason that people went to the emergency room had little to do with access to health care and a lot to do with a failure to plan ahead or take care of small health problems before they got worse? What if sitting around watching TV was chosen over calling your doctor and making an appointment for a physical?

What can you do to help people who make poor choices in their lives? In my case, not much. I had plenty of warnings before my major screw-ups and I did them anyway. What do you do when you discover that individuals aren't rational at all and their predicaments are largely of their own making?

Now that we have health care, this fellow will run to the doctor for a physical!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We're Not Smarter Or Wiser, We Just Make Bigger Mistakes Faster

In the past few years, I've spent some time reading ancient literature. The Bible, St. Augustine, Sophocles, St. Thomas Aquinas and so on. What I've learned is that people who lived thousands of years ago were just as wise as we were and faced the same problems. It's a good bet that each entry in the Book of Proverbs came from as a result of hard experience. Dig Dave Ramsey's favorite, Proverbs 22:7.

"The rich ruleth over the poor: and the borrower is servant to him that lendeth."

I wonder if that was written after the guy's credit card bill arrived in the mail.

Why, oh Lord, did you not grant me an iPad?

Wartime Debt

... is different from peacetime debt.

I found this tidbit in an article by Niall Ferguson in the Financial Times. Niall is comparing the deficits which financed World War II to today's deficits which are financing, err, whatever it is we're financing.
(T)he differences are immense. First, the US financed its huge wartime deficits from domestic savings, via the sale of war bonds. Second, wartime economies were essentially closed, so there was no leakage of fiscal stimulus.
The second point jumped out at me. Today's deficit spending by the government can quickly leak out to China as we purchase imports. In World War II, the money went to shipyards in the US and from there to steel mills in the US and from there to iron and coal mines in the US ...

That tells me that the "Keynesian multipliers" that people bandy about - every $1 of government spending leads to $2.50 in the economy as the money moves about - are just nonsense since they are predicated, in part, on data collected in a closed wartime economy. That goes for tax cuts as well. Given $400 of tax cuts, the people that rush down to Best Buy to get a new TV are really just mailing their refund check to Taiwan.

It's something to think about.

What I Learned About Installing Door Frames

  1. Measure twice, cut once.

  2. Make sure your corners are square and your sides and top are level from all angles.

  3. Door hinges screw into the frame, they do not need to screw into the stud behind the frame.

  4. Don't be an idiot next time - just buy a pre-hung door. Installing a door frame just to keep an existing, plain, solid-core, exterior door is a fools' errand.
There. I think that sums it up quite nicely.

You should have listened to me and gone with the pre-hung door. You would have had more time to give me tuna and pull a string along the ground for me.

Cheezburger of the Day

Monday, July 19, 2010

Another Data Point

The headlines and blogs are full of the NAACP - Tea Party spat, but things might not be as polarized as the media and blogosphere would suggest. I did a search of the NAACP blogs and found something you might not have expected. Quentin James, a member of the NAACP Board of Directors, has this tidbit in his blog post about a South Carolina Voter ID bill.
Voting is not a Republican or Democratic issue, but rather one of integrity. The question we are faced with in South Carolina and other states throughout this great country is will we remain true to our American values? While the right to vote has always had to be extended to additional populations, we are almost at a point of true enfranchisement of all Americans. As the Tea Party says, “I want my country back!” These types of legislation further show our current disconnect to ensuring a democratic society flourishes.
Emphasis mine. If Mr. James thought the Tea Party was full of racists, I'd hardly think he'd be quoting them. Here's another interesting bit from one of his commenters.
I registered hundreds of voters in Florida for the 2004 and 2008 elections, and came across a large number of African Americans who have no form of ID. They can still register in Florida, but I believe that it takes longer for their identity to be confirmed. I would love to see the NAACP, African American churches, and other groups embark on a national campaign to encourage people to get some form of ID.
That's quite constructive and well-reasoned.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped letting the big bloggers and the newsmedia act as gatekeepers and instead engaged each other on a more personal level on our individual blogs and elsewhere.

Not for Public Consumption

... or alternately: All politics is local.

The NAACP is claiming the Tea Party is a haven for racism. Bill O'Reilly has a reasonable summary here.
According to NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Tea Party movement is chock full of racist people bent on harming African-Americans. Speaking at the organization’s annual convention this week, Jealous let loose on the tea folks: “Here comes the genetic descendent of the White Citizens Council, burst from its coffin, carrying signs and slogans like ‘Lynch Barack Hussein Obama’. . .”

An exhaustive search of media reportage on tea parties turned up no mention of signs like that.
Bill is missing the point. Ben Jealous was not speaking to Bill O'Reilly or to most of the rest of us either. He was directing his remarks at his followers. What he was really saying was this:

"The Tea Party is a threat to you. You need the NAACP to protect you from them."

The NAACP went to the national media in order to maximize the spread of its message. It's nothing more than a marketing campaign and a clever one at that. Tea Party members reacting in righteous anger at false accusations of racism provide yet another prop for the NAACP to make its case. "See how angry they are? They're angry because we've unveiled their true nature. They're angry and dangerous, but we'll protect you."

I don't think you can take these accusations personally. They're not really aimed at you. It wouldn't matter if you were buying shoes or playing soccer with your kids, they'd claim you're a racist. They have to. It's what they sell.

Scarborough Fair

So last night after dinner we were playing hearts while listening to Pandora when Simon & Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair came on. I began to wonder just what they had at Scarborough Fair. Did they have hot dogs on a stick? The House of Mirrors? Sheep judging? I decided to write part of a modern version of the song.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
(Deep-fried Twinkies and Swifty Swine)
Remember me to one who works there
She's got cups in which you throw dimes

Are they running the Centrifuge?
(Hose it down from the last ride)
Half a score puked as it spun 'round
The seats all smell like something that died
You're welcome.

Under Utilitariansim, Whales Are Screwed

Utilitarianism is a philosophy that seeks to increase aggregate pleasure and decrease aggregate pain. In some versions, it extends to animals.

If that's the case, whales are screwed. You see, killing one whale results in pain for one creature. Its carcass, however, provides pleasure for thousands, if not millions, of other creatures. Let's estimate that some 50,000 creatures, from seagulls to crabs to worms will get some pleasure out of the dead whale. The math is pretty simple. 50,000 > 1. Goodbye, Mr. Whale.

After the whales are all killed, we'll move on to elephants, then rhinos, then hippos and so on*.

The ultimate act of Utilitarian morality.

* - No point in making sure your life insurance is paid up. There won't be anyone around to collect.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

She's Averting Her Eyes

Clearly, I ignored our Maximum Leader's advice because yesterday's door frame hanging went badly and has to be redone today. She's watching again, but this time with a rather jaundiced, if closed, eye.

If I'd only listened to her!

Update: Door frame #2 worked! It was a team effort with my daughter and stepson providing excellent advice. My stepson and I did it together and it was a wonderful bonding experience. He's quite handy and we worked together well.

It's not the Computer, It's Internet Exploder

A while back I blogged that my Catican PC was starting to die. It's where I do all my intense content generation. It's a reasonably powerful machine and has Adobe Creative Suite 4 installed. I love the thing.

When it started hanging up doing relatively simple tasks with the hard drive light on continuously and it required regular visits to the task manager to shut things down, I figured it was on its way to the Big Computer Lab in the Sky. Not so. I discovered that the problems were completely associated with Internet Exploder and if I just used Firefox, my problems all went away. Whether that's a product of IE being located on a failing sector of the hard drive or if I've contracted a parasite in my instance of IE, I'm not sure. In any case, the machine looks like it will live a while longer.

Crazy. I've never seen a machine reject an application it used to accept.

Letting Things Brew

"I have made this letter longer than usual, because I lack the time to make it short" - Blaise Pascal.

"You know, my dearest brethren. And let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and slow to anger." - James 1:19

Today, The Scratching Post is instituting a new policy. All thought pieces will be allowed to brew at least over night before publishing*. I've written some things lately that I regret and things that I loathe due to their crude prose. I'm considering unpublishing them or at least annotating them with some kind of disclaimer.

Anger is a great cause of sin with me. Polemics come easily - nasty words are the fastest for me to type. Sometimes it's a good thing, but most of the time it is not. Sleeping on it for at least a night ought to prevent me from regretting things later.

I've blogged about this before. Anger has always been a great cause of sin with me. In the past, I've vowed to chart a new direction, but in the end, I keep going back to certain topics. Rather than avoid the things that interest me, I'm going to try taking the time to calm down before I publish.

The best solutions to problems are typically the simplest. Vowing to follow a complex set of rules or procedures fights against our natural laziness. I'm betting something as simple as scheduling my thought pieces a day into the future and reviewing them the next morning will work well.

If not, I'll try something else. Constantly giving in to the temptation to shred people is not OK. Neither is sloppy writing.

Waiting overnight to publish posts should prevent me from looking like a lunatic on the blog.

* - Everything after this one, that is. I know we have to start somewhere, but why here and why now? Let's put this whole "wait until it's time" thing off one more post.

The Irony of the Week Award

... goes to Constance DeCherney. Poor Constance. She had such faith in the 60's cultural revolutionaries.
Baby boomers fretting over their pensions should spare a thought for Constance DeCherney. Like many of her generation, the 27-year-old Web strategist at Planned Parenthood in New York has done little to prepare for retirement. While she became eligible for a 401(k) in 2005, DeCherney only began putting money into it last year. She now contributes 3 percent of her pay, though that's just half of what Planned Parenthood will match, and DeCherney doesn't know how the investments are performing. "Just the idea of [saving for retirement] feels overwhelming," she says. "My fear of doing something wrong, or not doing enough, sort of paralyzes me."
Awesome. Social Security has been looted, modern companies aren't providing for retirement and Constance is watching her funds get killed as a result of the borrow and spend culture we created in the 60s. The ones the Flower Children didn't kill, they robbed. It's the fruits of slacker fascism, baby.

Constance, your future is blowin' in the wind.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Link of the Day

Click on the image. You'll love it.

Slacker Fascism

Clicking around the Interweb Tubes this morning, I came across this polemic railing against the Japan's failure to confront its massive and growing debt. One point in particular grabbed my attention.
The DPJ’s poor election showing gave rise to a new crop of lawmakers. Rather than offering fresh ideas, many see the central bank as the answer ...

This isn’t change; it’s the same-old-same-old. For 20 years now, politicians have relied on the central bank to boost the economy. Never mind that Japan’s problems are more structural than monetary -- critics say the BOJ isn’t doing enough ...

With the benchmark interest rate at 0.1 percent, what can Shirakawa do? He could return to the quantitative easing of the early 2000s. He could buy loads of government and corporate debt, essentially monetizing the economy. He could leave the yen-printing presses on indefinitely ...

Any of these actions will take even more of the onus off politicians to do their jobs. Two decades after the bubble years ended, Japan still doesn’t know how to grow without massive government subsidies. BOJ moves to bail out the government will punt true change another five or 10 years down the road.
Emphasis mine. Over at The Liberator Today, there's this post that described how the Federal Government is cracking down on the hiring of illegal aliens, but is not deporting them. There's no real policy from the Administration on illegal aliens, just a crazy patchwork quilt of spastic responses. A coherent policy would require effort.

I just finished reading (listening to) Peter Hitchens' book The Rage Against God. In it, he responds to his brother's atheism and describes how Christianity was attacked in Soviet Russia and in his native England. He posits the theory that Christianity is under assault because it is the natural enemy of the State. You can't ship millions off to the Gulag in a Christian society without plenty of resistance. I've noodled that one around quite a bit and I just haven't been able to accept it. Let me suggest something different.

Slacker Fascism.

What all of these events have in common is that they're about avoiding effort and increasing pleasure in the near term. Instead of balancing the budget, the Japanese turn to their central bank and demand that it print money. Instead of developing a coherent immigration strategy, the Obama Administration spasmodically responds to various pressure groups. Christianity is opposed because it asks something of you.

Years ago, I read and loved Robert Bork's Slouching Towards Gomorrah. I need to dig it out and reread it. I would bet that it provides a pretty good summary of what we're seeing now.

Don't be so judgmental, man.

Rebuilding an Exterior Door Frame Today

... but I have help.

With supervision from our Maximum Leader, the project's a guaranteed success!

What Would You Do If You Worked For An Insolvent Company?

... you'd cut spending and stockpile cash, right?

If the company you worked for was heading for bankruptcy, you'd be concerned about future paychecks and would cut back your spending in preparation for bad times ahead. In a fascist state, we all work for the government in one way or another, so when we hear that pension plans are wildly underfunded, that states have stopped paying their bills and that states are laying off thousands of workers, we instinctively take the appropriate action.

I'm sure I'm over thinking the problem here. I doubt many people understand what fascism is or how it applies to us. However, they've all lived in a culture steeped in the belief that whatever the problem is, the government should do something about it. Call it implicit fascism. The end result is the same. If the state is financially unhealthy, we stop spending.

Prices are falling. This happens when people stop buying things.

Just in Case You Doubted that Obama Is a Fascist

Our Monastery of Miscellaneous Musings has this.
(W)e bring you some more quotes from the man who will be running Medicare and Medicaid, the effective ObamaCare Czar, Dr. Donald Berwick:
"I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do." ...

"Please don't put your faith in market forces. It's a popular idea: that Adam Smith's invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can.
That's the very definition of fascism / Justicialism. Read the whole thing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This Isn't the Catholic Church You Were Expecting

Last night I went to Eucharistic Minister training at our church. A Eucharistic Minister helps distribute communion at Mass. The instruction was suffused with the theme of giving of yourself for the sake of others. As I sat there, I reflected on other events in my Catholic education. They all had the same quality.

Not quite the image portrayed in the media. I wondered what strangers to the Church would think if they saw and experienced it.

When You Need the People You Hate

... you're in big trouble. Dig this bit on some of our most profligate states.
Illinois let $5 billion of bills go unpaid. Washington closed state offices. California may cut 200,000 workers’ pay to the minimum wage. Minnesota is delaying tax refunds for a second year.

As fiscal 2011 budgets took effect July 1, state and local governments coping with revenue declines from an economic slowdown are fulfilling legal obligations to balance their books by shaving costs and raising taxes to protect a key constituency: owners of $2.8 trillion of municipal bonds.
I'm not so sure about Illinois, but I know that for quite some time, California has been run by people who love to bash business. While the governor may have gone back and forth between parties (one's party is not always a sign of fiscal prudence), the legislature has not. For decades, our legislature has demonized all things profitable. Corporations, bankers, insurance companies, all of them are polluting fatcats run on greed, making their obscene profits by exploiting the poor.


Now that things are growing tight, the same politicians that decried the evil profitmongers and stood up for the little guy are throwing the little guy to the wolves as they desperately woo those same fatcat investors. In the end, they need the money of those investors. They don't dare shut off the spigot of interest payments to their lenders. They know that if they did that, there would be no more lending at all. Instead, those interest payments, all of which are profit, come out of the hides of the people they sought to serve.
“It’s a tremendous amount of pain,” said Illinois Comptroller Daniel Hynes. Schools, foster homes, hospitals and other agencies as well as outside vendors will have to wait for their money until the state raises cash to pay bills, he said ... Lawmakers are willing to anger voters with reduced services and higher taxes to retain the favor of investors, who buy more than $400 billion of state and local debt each year to finance roads and bridges, pay for new schools and maintain parks and libraries.
Whether these same politicians ever meant what they said or if they simply had no idea how the world works is irrelevant. Their world view has been slain by their own hands as they cut payments to foster homes in favor of the investors' profits. A political philosophy is only valuable if it works. If it has to be ditched as soon as a crisis hits, then it's nothing more than windbaggery.

Manatees and Hippos

While at the zoo on Tuesday, I recorded this movie of a hippo swimming on my Droid*.

As I watched the big, grey beast go swimming by, I was struck by how much its appearance and manners resembled a manatee. I looked them up on the Interweb Tubes only to discover they aren't very closely related at all. It has to do with skeletal structure, something obscured by all that flesh on both of them.

Hippos (order Artiodactyla)
Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other terrestrial even-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoises, etc.) from which they diverged about 55 million years ago.
Manatees (order Sirenia)
Manatees comprise three of the four living species in the order Sirenia. The 4th is the Eastern Hemisphere's dugong. The Sirenia are thought to have evolved from four-legged land mammals over 60 million years ago, with the closest living relatives being the Proboscidea (elephants) and Hyracoidea (hyraxes).
The taxonomical proximity (say that three times fast) seems backwards from appearances. Hippos are most closely related to whales while manatees are most closely related to elephants. Wild.

* - To be clear, I recorded the movie on my Droid, the hippo was not swimming on my Droid. While my Droid is incredibly capable, I don't think it can be used as a flotation device for hippos. Of course, experimentation may prove otherwise, but I remain skeptical.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chubby Marmot Nomming

For whatever reason, I found this video heart-warming.

Turtles or Geese?

My last post showed a video of a congresscritter being confronted with his own words in a townhall meeting where a constituent played a YouTube video from his phone. The video shows the congresscreature making a promise that he later reneged on. Lots of bitter argument follows. Where does this lead? I would suggest two options.

1. Politicians turn into turtles. They do what they want, but they never face their constituents. Their public appearances are all scripted and filled with supporters and sycophants in the media. It looks like they're out there talking to the voters, but it's just a charade.

2. Politicians turn into geese and fly south for the winter (and other seasons, too). This is the way I hope things go. They get fed up with the screaming at the townhall meetings and decide that the nation is, indeed, ungovernable. When yelled at, they turn on their constituents and blame them for the problems, as they should. They give up on the whole notion that they can be mommy and daddy and Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and provide everyone with everything for no cost. Instead, they cut the nanny state to shreds and tell the voters to pull up their pants and get to work.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

I Think I'd Be Boiling, Too

The WaPo is reporting that some House Democrats are furious with the White House because they don't feel they're getting enough support. This tidbit caught my eye.

The boiling point came Tuesday night during a closed-door meeting of House Democrats in the Capitol. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) excoriated White House press secretary Robert Gibbs's public comments over the weekend that the House majority was in doubt and that it would take "strong campaigns by Democrats" to avert dramatic losses.

"What the hell do they think we've been doing the last 12 months? We're the ones who have been taking the tough votes," Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.) said in an interview Wednesday.
Here's what they've been facing when they've gone home.

These guys are just getting flayed alive. In truth, you have to feel somewhat sorry for the Congressman in that video - his is the first generation of politicians that has to face YouTube videos of themselves played at them from peoples' phones. If I were them, I think I'd be freaking out right now, too.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Come to the Zoo - It's One Long Guilt Trip!

Bumped. My daughter and I went to the zoo yesterday and discovered, once again, that people suck. I was going to write a post about it, but knew I had done one in the past. It turns out that my previous one from January of this year still applies.


We went to the San Diego Zoo on New Year's Day. We had a great time walking through the exhibits. We learned almost nothing except that we were horrible creatures. Every animal had a sign like this one in front of it and rarely anything else.

Hate yourself. Hate yourself now.

The zoo no longer focuses on animal education, but instead it's all about telling you what a sack of rancid feces you are. Even this one, for an animal that's not even close to endangered, tells you that you suck.

There was some fun to be had inventing text for the signs that would actually tell you something about the animals you were looking at and their habits.

"Living on a diet of French pastries such as eclairs, wallabies build nests out of Erector sets using Lego robots. They typically travel in groups of four, so as to make their barbershop quartet practices more convenient. Used as mounts in the Crimean War by both sides, Tolstoy featured them extensively in War and Peace."

Memo to self: never invite any zoo employees to a party. They're probably those grim-faced ecofreaks who use ineffective, organic soaps and are constantly enveloped in a cloud of armpit musk. They'll drive up to your house in their Priuses and pass judgment on the types of light bulbs you use and sift through your trash when you're not looking, searching for signs that you might be using styrofoam. The less said about their filthy, matted hair and preposterous boho beards (some of the men have them, too!), the better.

A Simple Question

Just what is it that monitor lizards monitor?

It seems to be monitoring something.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Driving Like a Maniac

On my way to work, driven by an accelerated piece from the 1938 movie, Robin Hood. I've got a new camera mount setup that works like a charm. I'll blog about that in a bit.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Well, You Knew This Was Coming

Zombies at barnes and nobles on Twitpic

The Vanguard of Failure

... is probably too cruel of a title for the post, but I like the phrase, so I'll leave it.

R. D. Walker blogging at The Real Revolution has this excellent definition of the "vanguard of the proletariat."
Lenin agued that to bring about the communist revolution, the urban workers and peasants would require the active leadership of a political vanguard party of dedicated, professional revolutionaries to bring about revolution.
The flower children of 1968 were supposed to be the vanguard of a new society, one built around love and acceptance and helping others. We commenced a war on poverty that flooded our government social programs with ever-increasing fountains of money. A generation of intellectuals embraced the terminology of Marxism and class warfare. Traditional morality, so restrictuve and judgmental, was torn apart until acceptance of every kind of lifestyle was the norm.

If you go back and read the goals of these people, they were sincere and beautiful. The music was wonderful and the intentions were, for the most part, pure.

Too bad it failed. It all seemed so simple and so obvious. I think that if you'd sat these people down, particularly their intellectual leaders, and told them that decades hence, with all of their ideas enacted and many more they hadn't yet considered, that our prisons would be overflowing, child and drug abuse rampant, education stagnant at best and that the portion of society holding things together would be those that did not embrace the flower child culture, they'd have been shocked.

These flower children, rebelling in a large part against the meat grinder that was the war in Vietnam created a Vietnam war of their own - a prolonged, hopeless struggle to obtain an unreachable utopia with endlessly mounting casualties.

American society hasn't yet figured this out, but I would bet that we will. As the bills come due for all of the borrowing to finance our failed social experimentation, a new generation may paraphrase one of the flower children, Senator Kerry. "Who wants to be the last to (die, be abandoned, be abused, be sent to jail, do drugs, ...) for a mistake?"

A Little Bit on the Mechanics of Captchadefs

I had originally intended to have the captchadefs be a series of easy-to-write, fun posts that I could sprinkle in whenever I wanted. I've failed at this because I never found an easy way to store up the captcha words that I find or that others have so helpfully left in their comments. The "How to get out of IPT Meetings" series was supposed to be the same way. Since I work at many different machines, keeping a list has been problematic. I think what I should have been doing all along was to keep a Google Document with the candidate captcha words and ideas for IPT excuses. That way I could reach it from any computer.

I think I'll try that and see how it goes. After all, there's only so much one hamster can remember.


Welcome to another installment of captchadef!

cutine (n): A spray-on disinfectant that neutralizes cooties on contact.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Perfect A Worthless Camera Holder for Driving Videos - Updated

Update - This thing is positively dreadful. It jiggles like crazy, even on the smoothest roads. I tried wedging some foam underneath it as a shock absorber, but that failed, too. It is awful. Do not buy it.

I bought this at Pep Boys yesterday and it fits my Kodak Zi-8 video camera perfectly. I'm going to mount it on my windshield, out of the way on the passenger's side so I can get driving videos any time I want, but it won't obstruct my vision.

Obama Administration To Sue Vons, Safeway

... for demanding ID in the checkout line.

Well, maybe not.

The Centurion

Prompted by my devout and wonderful wife, I recently bought an audio version of the Catholic Bible on Audible* and downloaded to my Droid. I've been listening to it now and again as I drive. I've been deeply affected by listening to it and it's had some wonderful effects in my daily life. I might blog on those later, but there are several stories that, heard rather than read, have made me wonder about the people involved. The story of the Centurion is one such
When he went into Capernaum a centurion came up and pleaded with him. 'Sir,' he said, 'my servant is lying at home paralysed and in great pain.'

Jesus said to him, 'I will come myself and cure him.'

The centurion replied, 'Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured. For I am under authority myself and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man, "Go," and he goes; to another, "Come here," and he comes; to my servant, "Do this," and he does it.'

When Jesus heard this he was astonished and said to those following him, 'In truth I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found faith as great as this...(T)o the centurion Jesus said, 'Go back, then; let this be done for you, as your faith demands.' And the servant was cured at that moment.
The thought that immediately jumped into my head was this: What did the Centurion think and feel when he heard that Jesus had been crucified? The guy was a Roman, not a Jew. I'm not sure how the Romans rotated their troops, but it could have been that he was on a temporary deployment in Judea where he discovered the Son of God. That alone would be enough to blow your mind, but to find out later that he had been crucified would be shocking. I could just see the fellow using his connections within the army and within the Judean populace to find out just what happened.

I wonder what he did after that.

I doubt he was anyone's fool.

* - I love Audible. LOVE IT.

Link of the Day

"I don't like cutting wages but I'd hate to have to tell 3000 of my staff that they won't be able to blow themselves up."

Looking for PC Recommendations

My big desktop machine in the Catican is dying. The hard drive takes forever to find things and the fan is hopelessly loud sometimes. There are other symptoms as well, so suffice it to say it's on its way to the Great Computer Room in the Sky. It's a dual monitor power machine that I use for Adobe Creative Suite creations and content production in general.

In the future I'll be running CS5 and the new version of Adobe Premiere requires a 64-bit operating system to run. I've been looking at a Dell Precision TI1500 quad core i7-860 with 4 GB RAM Windows 7 Ultimate 64 and a 1 TB hard drive. The cost ends up being about $1550. I was hoping to spend less. Any recommendations?

Update: Frys has a better machine (twice as much RAM) for much less. $1200.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Paul Krugman and the Bible

Paul Krugman is calling for more stimulus spending because otherwise, we will feel some corrective pain in the near term.

Proverbs 13:18 responds. "He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored."

Barry White and a Cicada - Together in Concert!

You knew it had to come someday.

Barry White appearts courtesy of MCA. The cicada appears courtesy of The Backyard Arthropod Project.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

What Does "In The Wrong Direction" Mean?

Fra Chris, blogging at Portiuncula, has a novel take on the common polling question: "Do you feel that America is headed in the right direction or wrong direction?"
There have been great shifts in how Americans think and act in the last four decades. The social revolution of the 60's promised us that if we were freed from all the restraints that society and religion place on us, we would find utopia. We have to ask ourselves, "Is this utopia?"
I hadn't thought of it that way before and it's possible that the respondents aren't consciously thinking of the question in that way, either. However, consider this chain of events.

By destroying the family through the worship of self-gratification, we have handicapped our children. These children become adults with more psychological damage and fewer skills. We've increased mandatory labor expenses on employers to the point where unskilled workers produce less value than they cost. The unskilled have fewer opportunities to work themselves out of poverty than they used to.

We've tried to make the government replace the father in the family. We did this so we could pursue pleasure. It hasn't worked. Maybe that's the underlying message in the responses to the "Right Direction / Wrong Direction" questions.

Horatio Alger stories always center around hard work and siezing opportunities. Without the support of an intact family and job opportunities for the unskilled, such stories are more difficult to imagine.

Japanese Compassion

They spent and spent and spent. They borrowed and borrowed and borrowed. They have no military to speak of, so there was no imperial aggression to waste all that money. After 20 years of massive government intervention, Japan should be a progressive Keynesian paradise.

Whoops. Borrowing is just spending the future's money. The future has arrived.
“We desperately need those government subsidies,” said Shinichi Hida, a Naganohara town official. “Otherwise, I don’t know how this town can get by with so many elderly people” to support.
The government subsidies won't be forthcoming because they've killed the private sector in order to feed the government.

All jobs come from profits. All taxes come from profits. All opportunities come from profits. The government produces no profit. Without profit, there is no power to act upon your compassion.

A Small Observation About Migrant Workers

Yesterday I posted a video showing how some California migrant workers (aka illegal aliens) live. They live in squalid shacks in our canyons with no electricity or water. Since this is a coastal desert and we have no rivers to speak of, they're forced to wash themselves and their clothes in stagnant water. The video shows more such examples of the pitiful conditions under which there people live.

These people made their way to America and they stay here deliberately and without illusion. This has been going on for generations so that the incoming migrant workers aren't Candide looking for Eldorado, they're fully aware of what they will find when they get here. Further, they can turn around and go home at almost any time.

If conditions were better at home, they'd go back. Since many of them send money back to their families at home, "conditions" doesn't necessarily refer to their own, personal situation, it can also mean their judgment of their ability to provide for their loved ones. They believe they are better off here in those canyons than they are at home. It's something to think about.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I found this video of a migrant worker camp in San Diego and if you can ignore the ignorant class warfare tone of the thing, it tells you quite a bit.

I would argue that it's not greed that fuels the businesses that hire these poor people, it's survival. If their profit margins were abnormally high, others would start similar businesses until that industry's profit margins reached parity with other opportunities for investment. Instead, the agricultural firms that employ these people need them to survive because they can't afford to pay legally mandated wages and benefits.

To me, this looks like another example of us lying to ourselves about how rich we are. We couldn't afford those homes, we can't afford all of our social programs, we can't afford multiple wars and we can't afford to legislate pay above the marginal value of the labor.

SF Mayor Calls for Strict Enforcement of Statutory Rape Laws

Hahahaha! Just kidding!

Instead, Mayor Gavin Newsome is banning sugary drinks from city vending machines.
Coca-Cola is out, and soy milk is now part of San Francisco's official city policy.

Under an executive order from Mayor Gavin Newsom, Coke, Pepsi and Fanta Orange are no longer allowed in vending machines on city property, although their diet counterparts are - up to a point.
Child abuse and rape? That's a paltry crime compared to drinking carbonated water with corn syrup!

If that connection seems like a logical stretch, consider this. Child abuse is overwhelmingly a product of the breakdown of the family by a factor of 10 to 1. Statutory rape laws are about the only tools the government has to enforce protective prudery and slow this down. The connection there is much stronger than the connection between drinking Coke and ill health.

Oh well. I suppose it's better to be hip and cool and go after the greedy corporations and their sugary drinks than it is to suggest the p-word. I did a small Google search on Gavin and came up with all kinds of interesting tidbits from his personal life and political views, not one whit of which indicated he understood the connection between the breakdown of the family and child abuse.

Mr. Mayor with someone's wife. Maybe even his own.

I Love Twitter

We had an earthquake in San Diego yesterday. It was a nice, long one with plenty of rolling and shaking. I immediately fired up Tweetdeck and put in the search term #earthquake on one of my columns and in no time at all I had a link to the USGS summary of the quake - 5.9, 13 miles north of Borrego Springs. Thanks, Twitter!

Apologizing, but not Quite

Yesterday I posted the truly horrible video of King Samir Shabazz screaming for racist violence against whites. I really struggled with that one. I rewrote the post twice before it published, each time taking away angry, accusatory sentences. There are enough angry blogs out there and mine isn't made any better with gratuitous rage.

Two times during the day I thought to remove the video entirely and still make the point that the Arizona lawsuit was nothing more than a campus protest march and sit-in at the Chancellor's offices. It's a pointless exercise, a farcical charade done to show "solidarity" with the "oppressed".

Each time I went to remove the video I stopped. The video is real. The events are real. King Samir Shabazz is real. I left that repugnant video and its hideous implications alone because I couldn't wrap my brain around this question: How in the world is that guy still walking around in public?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Cheezburger of the Day

The Lawsuit Against Arizona Explained

It's not a rational act.

First off, it's not a political act as most have suggested. A SurveyUSA poll of San Diegans show that by 62-33, we're against the lawsuit. Broken down into racial segments, San Diego Hispanics are against the lawsuit 46-42. San Diego Democrats are against the lawsuit 50-44. It's a political disaster within the population generally and within Hispanics and Democrats specifically.

Second, there doesn't seem to be a way the Feds can win the lawsuit. There are endless examples of states cooperating with Federal law and states taking actions that force action on the part of the Federal government. For example, what happens if a local beat cop uncovers an international spy ring? He turns them over to the FBI, that's what.

Finally, there's the explanation in what seems to be an unrelated event. Eric Holder's DOJ has forced its lawyers to drop their already-won voter intimidation case against the Philadelphia New Black Panthers. Here's the lovely fellow the Obama Administration refused to put behind bars.

While this fellow may seem like a deranged racist to you or me, for some reason the Obama DOJ decided not to prosecute him and why should they? With some significant moderation in his choice of words, but only a little in his world view, he would fit right in on some college campuses, where many in the Administration have worked much of their lives.

The Arizona lawsuit is an act of political theater born out of college campus radical racialism. It's all cut from the same cloth, woven by Van Jones, Father Pfleger, Reverend Wright, Eric Holder, Barack Obama and all the rest. It's an extension of the radical student protests on a university campus - it's not intended to accomplish anything, it is a temper tantrum. It doesn't make any sense to the rest of us because we have escaped the fantasy world of the university and we no longer attend the teach-ins by the Committee for World Democracy at the Che Cafe.

The lawsuit is what happens when you draft your government out of the ivy-covered halls of Academia.

Comment of the Day

Comes from Mesquite over at Ann Althouse's blog:
Let me be clear:

A city may defy our immigration laws by declaring itseld "sanctuary" an the Obama Justice Department does nothing. An armed, uniform member of a fascist, racist organization can position himself at a polling place on election day, and the Obama Justice Department drops the charges.
But a State legislates in harmony with federal law, and it is sued?
Seriously. I want my country back.
I hadn't thought of the Sancutary City angle. The Obama Administration isn't suing Sanctuary Cities or even holding back some Federal funds from them. Instead, it's suing Arizona. I'll go back to what I said yesterday - this is a colossal misjudgement by the Obama Administration and shows just how out of touch they are with America.

By the way, the bit about the armed, uniformed guy refers to this.