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.
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    Monday, January 31, 2005

    Government schools...

    ...teach pro-government attitudes.

    First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say

    ...when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

    And people called us gun nuts paranoid when we said that eviscerating the 2nd Amendment was only the beginning. I hear the Constitution makes great toilet paper.

    Posted by Tom, 1/31/2005 5:21:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, January 25, 2005

    Virtual Rubbernecking

    If you, like me, are absolutely captivated by the bureaucratic train wreck that is Boston's "Big Dig" project, here's the latest:

    An investigation of tunnel leaks in the Big Dig highway project was repeatedly hindered by officials of the top contractor and the state agency that manages it, says the retired judge who led the probe.

    State officials had too close a relationship with the private contractor, said retired probate court Judge Edward M. Ginsburg.

    "They were all married to each other," he told The Boston Globe.

    Corporate cronyism? In a solid Democrat state? Never.

    Posted by Tom, 1/25/2005 5:41:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Wealth is Unlimited

    The most irritating fallacy I run across these days is this idea that there is some finite amount of wealth in the world, and that once it's used up there is no more to be had anywhere at any time by anyone. This is crapola of the highest order. Wealth is unlimited, because what comprises wealth is not raw materials, but the act of employing them in a new and useful way. The classic example is that of oil. Oil used to be a nuisance -- it spelled doom for any field where it was found, because it ruined crops. It wasn't until someone figured out that oil was useful for something that it became a commodity, and it was at that point that new wealth was created. When it was further discovered that oil could be refined into gasoline, more wealth was created. Someone figured out how to make plastics, and still more wealth was created. When you stack up all of the things that are based on petroleum, the amount of wealth created out of something that used to be a curse to farmers is absolutely staggering.

    Oil is not the only example of this, either. Iron used to be just another rock. So was uranium. Iron and coal were used separately for a long time before someone got the idea to combine them into steel. Copper was passe for centuries until someone discovered it was a good conductor of electricity. And the wealth creation is not limited to the great scientific discoveries and technological advances of mankind. Wealth is created out of conservation efforts, for example. I'm a big fan of programs about the creation of houses out of old Pennsylvania Dutch timber-framed barns. These are buildings destined for the burnpile, when someone comes along and takes the old beams to make a new house out of them. This is wood of a size and quality that cannot be readily found these days. Various recycling programs create wealth out of trash, by reusing the items which would otherwise be thrown away.

    Case in point: Farmers using manure to generate electricity. New wealth. Easy, ain't it?

    The only limits on the creation of wealth are man's ingenuity and the desire of other men to keep him from taking advantage of his ideas, usually through force of government.

    Posted by Tom, 1/17/2005 5:32:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Big Blue Fights Back

    No, not IBM. Wal-Mart has cut loose on its critics with some full-page ads in various newspapers across the country.

    [Wal-Mart CEO Lee] Scott said no one source of criticism prompted the new offensive. "I liken it to being nibbled to death by guppies," Scott said.

    Be sure to also check out

    Posted by Tom, 1/13/2005 5:25:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, January 7, 2005

    More on (moron) Oliver Stone

    Clayton Cramer gives him the business, complete with a reminder of critical reviews saying the movie was crap.

    Posted by Tom, 1/7/2005 7:26:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, January 6, 2005

    Oh, Get OVER Yourself

    Oliver Stone is whining about the poor response to "Alexander", and he's blaming it on "fundamentalists".

    "From day one audiences didn't show up," he said. "They didn't even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words, `Alex the gay.' As a result you can bet that they thought, `We're not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him.'"

    Or maybe, just maybe, we're all (A) starting to get tired of epic movies about historical figures and events, (B) thinking it looked a bit much like "Troy 2: Electric Boogaloo", (C) worn out from the holidays, or (D) all of the above. Sit down and shut up.

    Posted by Tom, 1/6/2005 7:18:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...