Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
  • Somewhere in the crusty outer layer of small towns surrounding the warm creamy center that is Oklahoma City.
Site Navigation
  • Current server time:
  • 1/16/2021 10:49:03 PM
  • Categories
    My Nerdly Hobbies
    The Daily Browse
    Reference Material
    Blogs of Note
    Non-blog Friend Pages

    Sunday, April 25, 2004

    Gun stuff

    Anti-social behavior is governed by social norms, not by formal government. Among the primary factors contributing to an individual's decision to engage in anti-social behavior are the perceived cost, the perceived benefit, and the perceived likelihood of future interaction. A person is less likely to engage in anti-social behavior when he expects to have to deal with his "victims" again in the future, and more likely when he does not. It is the social norm that does the governing, not the formalization of norms into laws. There are two primary pieces of information associated with criminal behavior which underscore this point:

    The first is the fact that law enforcement personnel are outnumbered by potential criminals by many orders of magnitude. Even in the most oppressive regimes, there still exists a sizeable criminal element, and the best the government is able to do is "make an example" of the relatively small number they are able to catch.

    The second is the fact that when interviewed about their crimes, most convicted criminals will respond that they did not believe they would be caught. This represents at least a subconscious awareness of point number one.

    Economically speaking, the worse the penalty is, the lower the relative costs of committing crime to one who has already determined that he will do so. The United Kingdom is seeing a problem with fully automatic weapons because there is no legal difference between those and lesser weapons; the criminals therefore have no incentive to use lesser weapons because the punishment is relatively the same for an AK-47 and a single-shot .22. (and besides, they don't believe they will be caught anyway)

    Economically speaking, the average cop can be kept quite busy prosecuting non-violent offenders at a much lower cost than pursuing the truly problematic people. Given the choice between your average "gun nut" who just wants to own a bunch of guns and be left alone, and your average gang-banger who sees a drive-by shooting as a great night out with the boys and who has no problem capping a cop, the average cop or police force will choose the person who is less dangerous if at all possible. So we wind up with what we have: a bunch of gun owners in jail for paperwork violations, a bunch of photo-ops of tables full of "insane gun collections", and a bunch of people who are actually dangerous still out on the street.

    Gun laws are dangerous for society, not just because of this, but also because they are an obstacle to the law-abiding to buy guns with which they could defend themselves. Because a criminal will avail himself of the black market created by regulation and the law-abiding will jump through the regulatory hoops to purchase a weapon, gun laws have effectively made it easier for criminals to get guns as compared to the law-abiding. A proper solution to the "gun problem" would do exactly the opposite, but there is no law we can pass that will create this ideal where the law-abiding can get guns easier than criminals; the best that can be achieved is parity. Parity therefore, is what I advocate as a goal. Consequently, we need to get rid of gun laws.

    Posted by Tom, 4/25/2004 9:25:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    What to do with socialists

    The problem with socialists is that they just won't go away. Of course, there isn't any reason to make them go away in a capitalist economy; they have the opportunity to compete with everyone else. Note that the situation will not work in reverse -- for universal socialism to work, the capitalists have to be done away with. In a good example of socialists engaging in capitalism, we have American Apparel, recently written up by Julian Sanchez of Reason. Their claim to fame is the "no sweatshop" ethic that eschews the products of cheap Asian labor in favor of more expensive domestic labor, while simultaneously providing competitive pricing on their products. (I suspect that these may actually be capitalists taking advantage of socialists, but the effect is essentially the same.)

    Sanchez correctly notes that refusing to trade with cheap Asian laborers hurts their chances of improving their working conditions, but notes that society as a whole might benefit from having such companies around. The reason, as I've already hinted, is that these companies provide an outlet for socialists that helps divert their energies from their authoritarian (not to mention occasionally beastly) tendencies. Besides, they might actually learn something about capitalism in the process, through empirical means, saving the rest of us the trouble of teaching them.

    Posted by Tom, 4/25/2004 8:18:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Ah, so that's what it's for...

    You might have thought that the Supreme Court was the place to go when you need your Constitutional questions answered, your rights protected, or your bad laws overturned. You'd be wrong. Apparently their purpose is settling disputes in professional sports, doing the work that private arbitration should be doing for an industry whose very existence is frivolous at best. And some of my friends still insist that football is worth something.


    Posted by Tom, 4/25/2004 8:18:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    More from NASA

    Apparently now the scare is that the shuttle will never fly again. We should be so lucky. Mothball the stupid thing and get crackin' on the Mars mission! The geological timebomb is ticking, and (*shudder*) NASA might be our only hope for species survival!

    Posted by Tom, 4/21/2004 8:18:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Just for fun

    The Cyborg Name Generator!

    Posted by Tom, 4/21/2004 8:15:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Bush gives civil libertarians the finger

    Power is more important. He wants his Patriot toy, and it's worth oppressing the entire nation to keep it. The cool thing is that if this keeps up, he won't have any power to speak of.

    Posted by Tom, 4/21/2004 8:04:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    On Men

    Vox Day has some great observations for the benefit of women as to what men want and need emotionally speaking. Most women either don't seem to be aware of these things, are completely unconvinced as to their veracity, or are unwilling to actually act on them. But take it from me, Vox is correct when it comes to my own understanding of men (being one and all), especially when he gets into the guts of the male/female relationship:

    A man defines himself by his responsibility, and one of them, strange as it may seem, is the mood of his woman. A man whose woman is unhappy considers himself a failure, and the short-sighted woman will use this knowledge to her temporary advantage. But even the sharpest tool grows dull with use – the wise woman will eschew such manipulation and instead choose to regard her man as a potential refuge from her troubles rather than the inherent cause of them.

    A man may feel he is responsible for a woman's feelings, but the truth is that he can do very little about them even if he wants to. Most of the time, happiness is a choice. Making the choice to be happy whenever possible, even in spite of difficult circumstances, can be the difference between a lifetime of shared bliss or mutual misery.

    Granted, men make it easy for women to be unhappy -- and I don't mean that in the obvious way that it comes across. What I mean is that because men are solution-oriented, generally spend a lot of time trying to fix things, and approach relationship problems as things that need to be fixed, they create an environment where there is little cost and much benefit to being "hard to please" or "high maintenance". A woman comes to her man with whatever problem, and whether it is a good idea or not, whether it is desired or not, he tries to fix it. She may just want to be heard, but he tries to fix the problem rather than hear her out. So, faced with the option of no attention at all vs. attention that is not what she's really after, the woman continues bringing problems to him to get more attention, and he keeps trying to fix the problem. It's self-reinforcing. The woman eventually becomes a veritable fountain of depressive circumstances and upset feelings, and the man will work himself to insanity trying to solve each problem only to be presented with a fresh problem just as he thinks he's "done".

    Part of the responsibility lies with each party; women need to recognize that a man will try to fix things and that they should show some personal restraint in this area. Men need to recognize that sometimes a woman just wants to talk, painful as that is, and that sometimes the woman should be left to fix her own problems. The knight-in-shining-armor complex doesn't need to rule our every interaction.

    Other problems for men include a society that is increasingly inhospitable to masculine behavior, and Doug Giles points out that we are experiencing this problem in our churches. The church has to begin a concerted effort to reclaim Christian masculinity, with all of the nobility, honor, and sacrifice that entails. Men, especially young men, are having their potential destroyed by an overly feminized, politically correct, and increasingly irrelevant Christian community. Men should become the heroic figures at the head of their families, their congregations, and their communities, leading the charge against that which is dishonorable, immoral, and just plain wrong.

    Some hand-wringing ninnies will of course think that I'm advocating the equivalent of suicide bombing attacks against abortion clinics by Christians, or something equally ridiculous. These people should just extinguish the rock of crack they're obviously smoking. This isn't about violence. It's about standing up for what's right. It's about turning to a friend who has just done something that isn't right and saying "you know, I'm really disappointed in you." It's about holding oneself and one's associates accountable for their actions and attitudes. It's about being men, instead of a caricature assigned to us by the feminists, the politically correct, and the "softcore Christians". It's about having some spine for a change.

    And no, this isn't just a finger pointing outward. I'm fully aware of the plank in my own eye. This is also about encouraging and supporting each other as we face difficulties. It's about lifting our brothers up when they fall -- not because some saccharine public school kindergarten teacher with a pathological obsession for "sharing and caring" says so, but because it's the right thing to do. Tell the teacher to get lost; do what's right.

    I don't exactly know how to "be a man". I'm not certain I know what it looks like. I'm not convinced any of my friends knows either. But by God, it's time we figured it out.

    Posted by Tom, 4/21/2004 7:56:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, April 18, 2004

    Fancy footwork

    Dick Cheney appears to be trying to shore up the gun owner vote. He must know by now that gun owners are fed up with the administration and possibly planning to defect to the third parties or to their next-most-important issue. He doesn't seem to realize that the gun owner vote is closely tied to civil liberties and that political gun owners (those who vote based on the gun issue) tend to be rather libertarian in their stances. So when his administration fosters an atmosphere of oppression, pursues economic policies (socialism) that lead only to ruin as has been proven elsewhere, continues ignoring the abuses of the powermongers in the previous administration, and has nothing to say about new technologies that threaten civil liberties, it should come as no surprise that the liberty-loving among us (as opposed to the socialists giving lip-service to liberty) are getting rather frosty to the re-election campaign.

    Some people just can't see the obvious.

    Posted by Tom, 4/18/2004 4:33:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    Don't forget to vote

    Today should be election day. April 15, when our IRS form 1040 is due in the mail. Then we'd see some change. Heck, your ballot should be a part of your 1040, and you should get one vote for every dollar you paid in taxes. It certainly would make the socialists happy, since they're always claiming that the rich don't pay any taxes anyway. (It would of course put that notion to an empirical test.) And "the poor" would get lots of votes, since the leftists like to claim that tax burdens fall disproportionately on them. And it would make me happy, since the power to make decisions would rest with those paying for their implementation. When do we start?

    Posted by Tom, 4/15/2004 6:14:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Airport insecurity

    Steven Yates gives us some good reasons why freedom-loving folks ought to drive instead of fly:

    Writer and communications policy analyst Rebecca Hagelin reported the frisking of her 9-year-old daughter Kristin: "Little Kristin’s hazel eyes were as big as saucers and began to fill with tears as she stood there, spread-eagle, while some stranger frisked up and down her little body. I hovered close by with a weak, forced smile, in a lousy attempt to reassure my daughter while at the same time trying to hold back my anger over the absurd situation. I could do nothing to stop this groping of my little nine-year-old …"


    I can’t prove it, of course, but I can’t help but think that at least some who applied for federal airport security positions did so because they get their jollies dominating others – of having complete control over, say, a helpless woman whose husband they know they can have arrested. There are probably many schoolyard bullies who never really grew out of it. In addition, I have to wonder about anyone applying for a job involving actions that would probably be classified as sexual misconduct if anyone did them but a federal employee.

    While most of the security personnel I have encountered are at least somewhat courteous, every security line I have been through has been about as much fun as it must have been lining up for the showers at Auschwitz. There is no evidence of a government "of, for, and by the people" anywhere in sight, just a bunch of tight-lipped authority figures herding their human cattle through one degrading examination after another. It is the very nature of the modern State's relationship to the modern citizen.

    This is what the government wants to do in everything, though of course "for our own good". We are not people to the government. We are merely insects, to be stepped on, dismembered, gassed, inspected, poked, and generally pushed around. Government is a nine-year-old boy with a passion for cruelty and a desperate need to be seen as important. This face of government is readily apparent in every hand-wringing interest group that wants government to just "do something" to or about or for the nemesis/victim du jour. Look at Sarah Brady gleefully planning to destroy the lives of gun owners. Look at Christians desiring to enshrine their idea of marriage into the Constitution itself. Look at socialists laying moral claim to the property of everyone, despite having no moral claim whatsoever.

    I wish Jesus would come back soon, because sometimes this place is royally depressing. And to think it's supposed to be the best place on Earth, where little girls get fondled in security lines because it would be "racist" to check out the guys who we know are the real problem. The rest of the world must be a real cesspool.

    Posted by Tom, 4/15/2004 6:08:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Recouping costs

    Medicaid administrators are apparently putting liens against homes to get some of the money back when the patient dies. I personally don't see the problem with this other than the fact that the government is involved in the first place. It is essentially the same as if, without government assistance, an elderly person takes out a loan against their home to pay their medical bills. The only difference is that the government probably isn't getting nearly as good a rate of return, meaning it squanders taxpayer money. But what else is new?

    Posted by Tom, 4/15/2004 5:48:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    Stupid should hurt

    Check this brainless nitwit:

    Handguns annually murder at least fifteen thousand Americans and accidently kill another one hundred thousand.

    Ignoring the somewhat pedantic point that handguns don't act of their own accord, being inanimate objects and all, let's discuss this "accidentally kill another one hundred thousand". Note that she states this is done ANNUALLY. Now, there are more sites out there than I can count with accurate stats on accidental deaths, but I grabbed one at random, and it even happens to be one that isn't too fond of firearms:

    7. Firearms
    Deaths per year: 1,500

    We can thank our second amendment rights for all 1500 of these deaths; call it the "right to die" amendment. You probably don't want to know how many countries in the world do not even have "accidental death by firearms" on their top ten, or their top twenty. Suffice it to say that it's most of them. Of the 1500, you're looking at about 75% young males between the age of 14 and 25 (and getting younger every year), who unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else.

    This site says 1134. It even breaks them out by type and shows only 187 attributed to handguns, compared to Ms. Flynn's figure of 100,000.

    This one shows an average of 1174 over a period of 4 years. Other sites seem to corroborate at around 1200 or less per year. But no matter, let's use the highball estimate from the gun haters.

    1500. What happened to 100,000? That's TWO ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE! So where did Ms. Flynn's figure come from? I believe the Latin term is ex rectum. It's ridiculous that she can make such a claim that is so easily disproved. It's just a fundamental flaw in the nature of the universe that being this stupid doesn't cause physical pain. Lauren Flynn would have expired from the agony by now.

    Posted by Tom, 4/14/2004 7:21:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The plug gets pulled

    Apparently Al Franken's superliberal propaganda radio isn't doing so hot with at least two stations. The countdown begins.

    Posted by Tom, 4/14/2004 7:02:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...


    I have just finished this libertarian epic by Michael Z. Williamson. While I still mourn the passing of Robert Heinlein, it certainly appears as though his philosophical position in science fiction has been covered, though perhaps never filled. Freehold explores the idea of a libertarian, laissez-faire society built on a frontier planet and its interactions with the totalitarian socialist federation that supposedly grows out of the United Nations. War ensues, due to statism's inherent intolerance of true freedom no matter where it resides, and we are treated to a conflict reminiscent of both Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and John Ross' Unintended Consequences.

    It is a weighty tome, both physically and philosophically, and it gave me some things to think about in terms of the ultimate costs of freedom. I'm not talking about the usual complaints, like having to work for a living and having no "social safety net" (provided, of course, by the robbery at gunpoint of one's fellow citizens). I'm talking about the apparently inevitable need to shoot those who believe they "know what's best" and are willing to push the issue to its most vicious conclusion. This gave me pause because I have some friends (one in particular stands out in mind) who in a hypothetical standoff would be standing on the side of the statists. Could I? Would I? I have already made the decision that in the case of an immediate threat on my life, I could and would. But with only implied violence, as represented by the state? Is that enough? How much is freedom really worth to me? Food for thought.

    Posted by Tom, 4/14/2004 6:58:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    40,000 RPM

    That's my calculation of the rotational speed of Isaac Asimov as he spins in his grave over Fox's movie "adaptation" of his classic collection of short stories, I, Robot. I have just finished reading Asimov's version, and based on the trailer for the movie there is no doubt in my mind that Fox is at best committing a grave-robbing offense similar to that of Paul Verhoeven's brutal rape of Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

    By all appearances in the trailer, the First Law has simply been thrown into the garbage. It does not appear to be anywhere near the intellectual movie it would have to be to do a slip around the rules as Asimov occasionally did, with grave repercussions for his robot characters (see Giskard in Robots and Empire). No, from what I see the First Law looks completely optional, fundamentally changing the very nature of what Asimov was trying to communicate -- in his world, a robot without the First Law would be completely inoperable; the Three Laws were necessary to the proper functioning of a positronic brain.

    Granted, Asimov himself offers us one slim hope for an intelligent resolution to this mess, in what happens to the robots of Solaria in Robots and Empire. But if the producers are going off of that idea, they are still way out of whack with I, Robot, and getting ahead of themselves to boot. There's 3 novels between here and there; why not let the genre develop for the crowds rather than create a tangled mess of a great body of work? Hollywood is full of grave-robbers and rapists. Why not be original for a change, and let the author's work speak for itself? Personally, I thought Will Smith had a bit more integrity.

    In the end, I'll see the movie. I have to know how badly they've screwed it up. I have to know how much to hate Will Smith and the rest of his grave-robbing crew for the next 10 years. I have to know if 40,000 RPM is a conservative estimate.

    Incidentally, call me dense, but I just realized that Honda's ASIMO robot's name looks suspiciously like "Asimov". Of course, their website suggests a different origin for the name, but I think this is more than coincidence. Anyone else know anything about this?

    Posted by Tom, 4/13/2004 7:38:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, April 10, 2004

    Pro-Jesus, Pro-Gun

    Here's a historical look at Christian gun ownership in this country. A little brief, but it definitely gets the point across. The author forgets to mention one critical bit of scripture regarding Jesus and weapons:

    Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?"
    "Nothing," they answered.
    He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.

    --Luke 22:35-36

    In related news, this bunch of nitwits wants to "protest the NRA". Like most things of this sort, it's really difficult to see what exactly it is they oppose, since nothing they describe really matches up to what the NRA is all about. It would be really helpful if they actually made some arguments or something rather than just hopping up and down like the cartoons they are. I guess it's time for me to think about donating again...

    Posted by Tom, 4/10/2004 12:14:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The War on Drug(store)s

    Well, my state just became a little less free. Rampant paranoia abounds as our governor makes the move to keep me from being able to get a decent nighttime cold remedy. Granted, pseudoephedrine is not my favorite drug because it makes my heart race, but it does work.

    Billions of dollars have already gone into the toilet fighting the War on Drugs, but now a log book at the pharmaceutical counter is going to single-handedly stop the meth trade. Wouldn't it be easier, simpler, and cheaper to just let the meth-heads burn their brains out or blow up their houses?

    Posted by Tom, 4/10/2004 12:13:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Economically illiterate

    I guess we should add Californians to the ranks of the stupid, or at least residents of Inglewood. These are the hand-wringing ninnies who just voted against a Wal-Mart store going into their neighborhood. How does that thought process work? "You want to provide me with an opportunity to purchase products at a deep discount to any other store in my area, thus freeing up some significant portion of my income that I can use elsewhere, which results in a higher standard of living for me and my family? No thanks." Morons.

    In other economic news, the SUV market is going to start on the gas-electric hybrid bandwagon soon, with the coming introduction of models from Ford and Toyota. Of course this doesn't satisfy the envirowackies, and they're already complaining about it. Demand is apparently strong for the smaller, car-size hybrids, and SUV sales will probably rocket out of sight. As soon as they produce a hybrid pickup truck that can tow 6000 pounds, I'll be interested. Of course, the real question on my mind is how long it will take the enviroterrorist types to firebomb a hybrid SUV. I doubt their pot-addled minds will be able to tell the difference.

    Posted by Tom, 4/10/2004 12:12:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Runnin' the Show

    Thanks for nothing, Spain. Now you've got the Iraqi nutjobs convinced (and here) that they can push the rest of the world around as well. A lot more people are going to die because of your idiocy. At least we only think Australians are stupid. The Spanish have proved they are.

    Posted by Tom, 4/10/2004 12:11:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, April 6, 2004

    More on "exporting jobs"

    This article is pretty disturbing in terms of the stated desire to have government intervene on behalf of tech workers. As a computer programmer, I am of course aware of the danger in this sector. I have been downsized twice. I lost another job due to incompetent management when a high-tech startup company imploded. I believe these circumstances simply underscore the need for individuals to provide their own financial safety net. I certainly wish I had mine all together (I'm working on it). Tech workers need to be out of debt, with an emergency fund saved up. This is critical -- the house is already on fire, and tech workers need to save as much as they can before it burns away.

    Tech workers also need to be aware of the opportunities available to them in the contracting market. They need to be ready and willing to strike out on their own, with a computer and development tools already at home, ready to take up the slack. Most importantly, they need to constantly push themselves to learn newer and better technologies, and develop things people will want to buy. The "programmer factory" jobs are failing fast, but this is an industry with unlimited potential for entrepreneurs.

    Posted by Tom, 4/6/2004 7:23:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    More gas

    Further research from the Cato Institute indicates that yes indeed, we have nothing to complain about in the way of gas prices. Be sure to check out their full battery of articles on the subject.

    Posted by Tom, 4/6/2004 7:21:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Why he joined the NRA

    Mike Adams discusses his personal journey to gun ownership and support of common sense self defense philosophy.

    It was just after midnight in January of 1993 when John and Tiffany left a party at the Sigma Chi house in Starkville, Mississippi. The band was winding down as the couple walked to their car in the parking lot close to where Highway 12 runs into Scott Field on the campus of Mississippi State University.

    When they came upon a man who was trying to break into a car parked near their own, all hell broke loose. Before they knew it, they had been abducted at gunpoint. Words cannot describe the horror that John witnessed before Tiffany’s life was taken. Shortly thereafter, he too was murdered execution-style by the side of Highway 45.

    Doesn't take much to wake some people up. Too bad his cohorts in academia are still living with cranial-rectal disorder.

    Posted by Tom, 4/6/2004 7:07:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    I love this guy

    The Grouchy Old Cripple in Atlanta is a great blogger. Sure, he's a tad conservative as opposed to libertarian, and his language can get rather crude, which I could do without, but overall I like his attitude. Very CenterDigit-y. So I had to add him to the selected blogs of note.

    Posted by Tom, 4/6/2004 5:12:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Well, it's one of my missions...

    Grammar God!
    You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

    If your mission in life is not already to
    preserve the English tongue, it should be.
    Congratulations and thank you!

    How grammatically sound are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by Tom, 4/6/2004 3:43:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, April 5, 2004

    Australians are stupid

    At least, that's what the Australian government thinks. This article talks about a push to make people get licensed to use a nail gun. That's right, a nail gun. Even worse, they apparently already have a law that says you have to have a license to use a chainsaw!

    "Giving a nail gun to an inexperienced operator is like giving a machinegun to a baby."
    He believed the industry should be moving to establish a nail gun licence, similar to a chainsaw ticket, issued only after a safety course was passed.

    How freaking retarded is that? This guy must be doing some serious drugs, and if this chainsaw license is true, so too must their government. I wonder if this sort of crap just naturally follows out of socialized medicine, or if it takes an extra daily dose of moron pills to come to fruition.

    I bought my chainsaw for $149 at Home Depot, read the instruction booklet, and started whacking away at logs the same day. No mishaps, no close calls, no severed limbs. It's common sense, really -- the sharp buzzy end can go through wood, and wood is harder to cut than flesh, so keep it away from your body parts. DUH! Apparently Aussies have no self-respect, or they'd feed these bums to the sharks.

    Posted by Tom, 4/5/2004 8:14:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Note to John Kerry: thanks but no thanks

    I know at least one presidential candidate who is not getting this gun owner's vote this year.

    Posted by Tom, 4/5/2004 7:44:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Who's your daddy?

    Well, if you're a Spaniard, it's apparently every two-bit terrorist from here to China. Terrorists are now brazenly calling the shots with the Spanish government, creating an object lesson for the rest of us who might be thinking about capitulating to terrorist demands. Of course, only the monumentally stupid didn't see this one coming.

    Posted by Tom, 4/5/2004 7:42:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Massive Irritation

    Our local church community has been meeting once a month separate from the main body, because the main body meets in a location that's around 45 minutes away. This is apparently in preparation for a split to create a new church in our town, which is of course encouraging to those of us who get a little weary of the long drive.

    Anyway, in the facility where we're meeting, there aren't enough chairs to go around, so the college-age people (which is most of us) sit on the floor while the older ones (like me) sit in chairs in the back. Mind you, this isn't because I'm opposed to sitting on the floor, but this last weekend I've been working on a new fence which involved the moving of 2 tons of concrete mix, and my back was grateful for the support.

    I guess I ought to get to the irritating part. Well, combine sitting on the floor, college-age women, and the sort of clothing that the young and fashion-conscious are wearing these days, and you might begin to visualize the picture. See, "trendy" right now is hip-hugger pants and tops that just barely come down to meet the waistband, for that enticing flash of flesh as they move. Of course, as soon as the body is in any position but perfectly straight (as in standing up or lying down), the gap between the two garments grows bigger, and the low-cut jeans especially have coverage problems when one goes into the sitting position. So all these young, healthy ladies were giving everyone behind them a view that ranged from a peek at the tattoo in the small of their backs to an underwear show to (in one case) a full-on plumber's crack.

    All of this would be possible to ignore except for one thing: they were all consciously and nervously aware of the fact that they were showing a bit too much for church. So throughout the entire service, there was this ongoing dance of pulling up on the jeans, tugging down on the shirts, stretching material this way and that, adjusting position, and so on. Well, the eye is naturally attracted to motion, so all of their gyrations had the exact opposite effect of what they intended -- it called attention to what they were showing, and kept me distracted from the service.

    As a normal, red-blooded American male who is trying to be a better person in this regard especially, I was downright uncomfortable with the entire process, and felt extremely guilty every time my attention was drawn from the pulpit down to some woman's backside because she couldn't stop fussing with her wardrobe. Fortunately for my conscience, my wife told me afterwards that it wasn't (just) my sinful nature causing the problems. Apparently she was completely unable to pay attention for the very same reason -- the constant motion distracted her and kept her from getting anything out of the message.

    I wonder if there's a more tactful way to say this, but holy crap ladies! If you're not comfortable in the clothes you're wearing, why are you wearing them? Do you have to come to church dressed like you're headed to the local dance club on a Saturday night? Don't you have at least one outfit that's somewhat modest? Why not bring a jacket or a sweater or a tarp or something to cover up with when you're sitting down? Or at the very least, sit still and stop calling attention to yourself. The rest of us would like to get something out of the service other than a visual catalog of "wardrobe malfunctions".

    Posted by Tom, 4/5/2004 7:21:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, April 2, 2004

    Economics and Government

    Here we have 3 articles tying into the role of government in our country's economic health, or more properly the lack thereof. Of course this all plays into the politics of a presidential election year, and of course all the nitwits running (current president included) have exactly the wrong ideas about what needs to be done to "fix things". The cynical among us, like yours truly, are of course thinking "if you think it's broke now, wait until it's fixed."

    The first is about a subject near and dear to all of us: the price of gas. Our intrepid author comments on a few things that I found worthy of mention here. The first is the myth of the "highest gas prices EVER".

    I remember filling my old pickup truck with leaded gasoline at $1.20 a gallon in 1982. If the U.S. Government's Consumer Price Index means anything (and it is far from being a "perfect" measurement of inflation, as it tends to understate the real rate), that gallon of gasoline in today's dollars would be priced at approximately $2.30. Given that the latest announced "average price" of unleaded regular is $1.77, it would seem that we have a long way to go before we hit a real record.

    Later on, our author makes this observation about John Kerry's campaign stumping:

    Not surprisingly, prices are highest in the urban areas with the strictest environmental requirements, with cities like Los Angeles, California, leading the way. For example, gasoline prices in semi-rural western Maryland, where I live, are at most $1.75 per gallon, which is considerably less expensive than what people in southern California pay for unleaded regular. That is why John Kerry opted for a photo-op in San Diego rather than my backyard.

    This very evening, I filled up my gas-guzzling pickup truck for $1.53 a gallon. Clearly, Oklahoma is on the bottom end of the scale as far as environmental controls go. So we must live in a smog-ridden sewer, right? Well, despite living near an air force base and a large (by our standards) city, I am experiencing no discomfort beyond my normal seasonal allergies, caused by all these green things outside and their pollen. When my nose isn't too stuffed up to smell anything, the air smells fresh and clean. Oh yeah, and I noticed John Kerry didn't make any photo-ops here either.

    Our second article discusses the government's role in messing up international trade under the pretext of "protecting American jobs". Jacob Sullum wisely points out an economic fact known since at least the 19th century (to all but the political class):

    When a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than to make or provide it domestically.

    Does it suck when you lose your job to a guy in Mexico making a tenth what you do? Of course it does. But the market cannot sustain your job. The market is telling you to get some training in something that the Mexican can't do -- something that is worth the money you make. America is no longer a place where a guy can leave school in the 8th grade and get a high-paying job doing unskilled labor. Those jobs are gone, and with them a lot of the semi-skilled and skilled jobs as well. But you have to think about what you can do. Were you a mechanic in a factory that just got shipped overseas? Then be a mechanic on something that can't be shipped overseas, like cars or HVAC units or guns or whatever. There are jobs out there -- some of them with bosses and some of them without (meaning you are your own boss). That Americans are spending increasing amounts of their time begging for favors from politicians rather than making their own way is an alarming fact. This is not the country I grew up hearing about.

    Finally, we get a little tidbit about everyone's favorite alphabet soup agency: the IRS. We have a very pressing question to answer as we consider what exactly is the nature of our relationship with government:

    Sheldon Richman, in his successor volume to Chodorov, eyes the IRS and you the taxpayer closely and asks: Who’s the master? Who’s the servant?

    (Wide-eyed innocent look) Why, we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, of course! Yeah, and if you believe that, I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you. So what do we, the servants have in our defense?

    To be sure, the taxpayer is under the protection of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments prohibiting unreasonable searches and seizures, and forced self-incrimination.

    Um, about that Constitution thing? We don't really like to talk about it anymore, so could you please just sort of not mention it in the future? Thanks, that would be great.

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2004 11:37:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    There's a reason...

    ... why the USA does not negotiate with terrorists. I note with some dismay that an "I told you so" is due our pals in Spain.

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2004 10:26:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

    That seems to be the strategy when it comes to the whole global climate debate. And the people doing the dirty are of course in the unholy of unholies, public education.

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2004 10:22:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Real nice people, these animal rights types

    This is some pretty disturbing stuff. Yeah yeah, not all of them are whackjob nutcases like this, whatever. These people are seriously messed up:

    We left an approximately 10lb. ammonium nitrate bomb strapped with nails outside of Shaklee Inc ... All customers and their families are considered legitimate targets ... You never know when your house, your car even, might go boom. Who knows, that new car in the parking lot might be packed with explosives. Or maybe it will be a shot in the dark ...

    We will now be doubling the size of every device we make. Today it is 10lbs, tomorrow 20 ... until your buildings are nothing more than rubble.

    We have a Shaklee plant right near where I live. My friends and neighbors could be targets. The idea of terrorists taking the ammonium nitrate route in this neighborhood doesn't exactly endear me to any of the things they stand for. Considering the history here, it certainly doesn't endear my fellow Oklahomans to it either.

    Posted by Tom, 4/2/2004 10:11:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...