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
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    Friday, October 31, 2003


    A recently released "Global Competitiveness Report" ranks a bunch of countries based on various facets of their respective economies. One of the primary factors is "quality of public institutions", which of course means government programs, which of course implies taxation. In other words, the more heavily taxed a nation is, and the bigger its nanny state becomes, the better it will fare in the ratings as a result of this particular factor. Granted, technology and "macroeconomic environment", which presumably means allowing businesses to operate, are also factors in the rating, so a country would be well advised to pursue all three. I guess I'm just grousing because the "macroeconomic environment" would be better with fewer "quality public institutions" competing with stolen funds.

    In other disturbing news, a kid in Maine gets all dressed up for Halloween and is set on fire at a school assembly: A 15-year-old boy made the comment "I wonder if this will burn" before touching a classmate´s costume with a lighter, said Police Lt. Harold Page.

    This certainly seems to be an indication of utter failure on the part of the 15-year-old's parents. For a person to live for 15 years and not know that it is inappropriate and potentially dangerous to attempt to light another person's clothes on fire says to me that his parents were comatose for the entirety of his development. It's the same as if he had taken a knife and stabbed a kid dressed as Superman, saying "I wonder if he's really invulnerable". It's sad that this kid has to learn the hard way, but at least he's finally learning. It's a shame his parents won't be prosecuted for neglect as a result.

    Posted by Tom, 10/31/2003 9:19:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, October 30, 2003

    Just for Fun

    This is not particularly political or religious, but it does take on nitwits in the form of television writers and producers, and it is raucously funny to boot.

    Posted by Tom, 10/30/2003 9:13:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Filtering the Filler

    Reason has a good article about Napster's return to music downloading. It highlights the unfilled (until now) need in the marketplace for a way that consumers can purchase only the music they wish to have, without having to pay $16 and up for a CD with one good song surrounded by a bunch of crap.

    Posted by Tom, 10/30/2003 9:11:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, October 29, 2003

    Recently Rediscovered

    I just found some old bookmarks, which point to


    (not to be confused with the Sierra Club).

    They're good reading all around. Massad Ayoob has a good article about keeping a gun for self-defense, J.J. Johnson launches a broadside at the envirowackies in California over the current forest fires, and Claire Wolfe writes a wonderful article about "Hardyville". You'll just have to read it.

    Posted by Tom, 10/29/2003 11:55:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    I Thought the Left Wing Hated Racism

    So why this picture? And how is it that we didn't get any of this on the nightly news?

    (found at, click the picture to see the gallery)

    Posted by Tom, 10/29/2003 9:48:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    It's Officially Time to Panic

    Boxcutters are showing up everywhere! Help! In Boston, in Philadelphia, in an airliner near you! The hottentots are running amok!

    It's a freaking BOXCUTTER, people!!! It's not that effective as a weapon, the blade is only an inch or so long at most, so it's not like they're finding nuclear weapons aboard airplanes! The only reason it worked so well the first time around is because everyone had bought into the "don't resist, give them what they want" nonsense. Now that we know how stupid that advice is, anyone who decides to take on an airliner full of Americans with a boxcutter simply has a death wish. And any American man who doesn't promptly commit himself to thoroughly stomping out the guts of such a perpetrator needs to turn in his man card at the nearest Lilith Fair.

    Posted by Tom, 10/29/2003 9:12:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, October 28, 2003

    Da Gubbermint

    Wonderful story today about a poor schlub who ran a state senate campaign for less than $200 but wound up with $59,000 in fines because he missed a checkbox and a $32 expenditure. Ain't government grand? Ain't it SWELL? I know I feel better protected from political skullduggery, knowing that the guy down the street is losing his house over a few ten-spots he gave to a friend for passing out flyers. So much for an open political system where anyone can run... apparently now it's limited to those who can afford to keep a lawyer on retainer to watch out for all these campaign finance "reform" laws.

    In other news, urban public schools are apparently not even trying to hire good teachers. I don't understand, having dealt with mid-level bureaucrats in government offices before, why this is such a surprise. There is no incentive whatsoever for such people to actually do a good job, or even a timely one. They're pretty much hired for life, they don't want to rock the boat, and actually doing the paperwork they've been given would only result in more paperwork.

    After all this depressing news about government, I just had to find out what's going on with the Free State Project. The New York Times has a decent piece on the latest developments, but in typical New York Times obnoxiousness they want you to register before you can see it. No matter, a kind reader showed me a link which gets around that piece of stupidity.

    Posted by Tom, 10/28/2003 11:26:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, October 27, 2003

    Where Reason Has No Meaning

    Oh, yuck. I've recently run across the ol' "Dungeons and Dragons is BAAAAAAAD" argument, which may or may not be ongoing. For those who don't remember the Jack T. Chick tract that goes on and on (and on) about how bad it is, here's the beastie right here. Other articles on his site ask if a Christian should play AD&D, and purport to give the "straight talk".

    Personally, I have to wonder what players they're talking to... I've played off and on for more than a decade, but have never been invited to "join a coven", and cannot recall any time that sex was mentioned in anything more than the most polite of terms, if it was mentioned at all. Characters die all the time, but I've never seen a group expel a player for losing their character. More often than not the group tries to find something else for them to do. I have heard of some being a bit emotional over their characters, but personally I've never seen it.

    I'm in a game right now, but it's not all that exciting. Sit around for an hour or so until your name is called, try desperately to remember what was supposed to be going on, make a quick decision, roll some dice, then go back to contemplating navel lint for another hour. There have been a few interesting sessions, but quite frankly I'd much rather be playing a wargame like Starfleet Battles, BattleTech, or even Blood Bowl. Compared to the thrill of taking a small squad or large army into battle, a single roleplay character's death would be almost freeing.

    It's not that I dislike or resent the time I spend with my friends, which is precisely the reason I play, it's just that I'd rather be doing something a little more stimulating. Wargames challenge your problem-solving skills and get the strategic juices flowing. RPG's generally just get you to fantasize. Oh sure, there's the occasional puzzle to solve, or an especially difficult combat, but for the most part it's just trudge trudge trudge hack trudge search for gold trudge trudge trudge etc. As "different" as every Dungeon Master tries to make the game, they're still hampered by the fact that RPG playing tends to ignore individual players for long periods of time, and that eventually gets old.

    And that's the thing that Jack Chick is missing. Players don't quit because of religious conviction (and I'd question the convictions of someone who turned around on Jack's say-so). They quit because they're bored and have no reason to stay. I stick with it because between tornado chasing (which I don't do), college football (which I don't watch) and game night, my friends are pretty much unavailable on the weekends for anything else.

    So in the interest of fun (and injecting a little reason into the debate), here's the Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on "Dark Dungeons".

    Posted by Tom, 10/27/2003 2:01:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Whining in Wisconsin

    Wisconsin is apparently moving towards being a concealed carry state. The usual gang of idiots is of course complaining about it.

    "The bill calls for the state to reimburse us $113 for every concealed bun [sic] permit application we receive. That won't even come close to what it would cost us to do a proper background check and for other costs." -- Shawano County Sheriff Bob Schmidt

    Background checks are pretty much useless anyway, so why bother doing them at all? Why not simply let people carry as a matter of course, because they are citizens and are innocent of any wrongdoing until proven guilty? Why not concern yourselves with going after the people who are actually bad people and have proven it by doing something bad, rather than harassing people who simply want to protect themselves? It seems to work in Vermont.

    Meanwhile at the national level, Democrats are making a big show of backing off the gun issue. I'll believe it when I see it.

    Posted by Tom, 10/27/2003 11:13:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Zero Brains

    And the beat goes on in our "Brave New Schools", as this article demonstrates. There are no functioning brain cells anywhere in this school's bureaucracy, and it is symptomatic of what is wrong with public education as a whole.

    Posted by Tom, 10/27/2003 10:59:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, October 25, 2003


    This has got to be the funniest thing I've seen all week. I know several people, liberals and conservatives, who really need one for Christmas.

    Posted by Tom, 10/25/2003 11:15:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, October 24, 2003

    Quick Shot

    Ilana Mercer weighs in (quite sensibly) on the Terri Schiavo debacle.

    Ronald Bailey's article in Reason, however, leaves something to be desired. It does nothing to change the fact that there is no legally enforcable documentation that indicates Terri Schiavo wants to die in this condition, therefore we must assume that she wants to live. Her husband's self-interested assurances to the contrary are insufficient to convince me, especially when the only conceivable reason he has not divorced Terri and/or granted guardianship to her parents is so that he can lay his hands on the big money pot.

    Posted by Tom, 10/24/2003 9:52:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Gender Discoveries

    Sarah has written a soul-searching and brutally honest piece about her efforts to see past the fantasy we've all been handed with regards to gender relations (warning to the sensitive: she's fairly colorful in her language). While she's a bit overly complimentary of men, it was obviously with considerable effort that she made her "fearless personal inventory", as they would say in a 12-step program, and I salute her for it. I'm right there with you. Sorta. But from the other end.

    Aside: this makes me wonder if there's ever going to be some sort of "gender-fantasy-aholics anonymous".

    Anyway, I find it interesting that this new blog technology enables people to be honest with each other in ways that would seem nearly impossible otherwise. Sarah says she never heard the stuff she needed to hear until she saw it on Buster B's blog, among others. What a mess this society has become. Is all this crap just a result of feminism, or can we throw some of the blame at the likes of John Gray, for example? Have we been sold an idealized fantasy in part because the publishers of "relationship guides" need a revenue stream? I note that I read Gray's book several years ago, and while some things did improve at that time, it wasn't the same sort of earth-shattering revelations that I've had lately. It was sort of like applying a Band-Aid to a sucking chest wound. I don't know, I guess maybe I'll figure it out in time.

    Posted by Tom, 10/24/2003 9:30:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Semi-Auto Abortions, Partial Birth Assault Weapons

    Jacob Sullum has written a thought-provoking piece about the similarities between the partial-birth abortion ban and the semi-automatic assault weapons ban. Being anti-abortion and pro-gun, I found his arguments created a fair amount of personal turmoil. It is true that the "partial birth" procedure is morally indistinguishable from other still-legal methods. It is also true that Congress is overstepping its bounds with both bans. And while I don't like abortions, I think that at a national level we need to come to the conclusion that there's nothing we can do about them short of a constitutional amendment. Given the monstrous scale of such a task, it seems like it would be much easier and possibly more productive to fight this fight at either the state level or the individual level, by which I mean persuasion, not clinic bombings.

    The problem with the abortion issue, like the gun issue, is that the two sides rarely speak to one another, and if they do it's never in any sort of rational or understanding way. Anti-gunners tell pro-gunners that their "sport" is just going to have to be sacrificed "for the children", and that self-defense just isn't a reason at all. Anti-abortion folks are just as dismissive of the legitimate concerns of mothers-to-be when it comes to raising the child and so forth. "Suck it up", is the usual response. "You got yourself into this mess, so you're just going to have to take your medicine." Where's the love? Where's the compassion?

    These are fights that are not going to end any time soon, and while I'm glad that there are others who think partial-birth abortions are a pretty sick thing to do, I have a vaguely disquieted feeling that Congress' latest move in the abortion fight is the wrong one. Much as it breaks my heart to hear of procedures like this, I cling to the idea that Law is not the answer. Jesus is.

    Posted by Tom, 10/24/2003 9:19:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    New Reading Material

    Order Without Law is going slowly, as I figured it would, so I decided to go out and spend the gift certificate I got for my birthday, and instantly doubled the size of my Heinlein collection. The new additions are (drum roll please):

    Beyond this Horizon
    Orphans of the Sky
    The Green Hills of Earth
    Sixth Column
    Citizen of the Galaxy

    These are being added to a collection that already includes the following:

    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
    Tunnel in the Sky
    Farnham's Freehold
    Starship Troopers
    Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
    Stranger in a Strange Land

    Heinlein has rightly been called one of the greatest science fiction writers of the last century, and to that I would add one of the greatest political thinkers as well. His underlying philosophy smells a bit like libertarianism, but I suspect that it's something more, something better, something beyond libertarianism. It's certainly beyond democracy, which is what frustrates me about contemporary political discourse that treats democracy as the pinnacle of political thought.

    Anyway, if you don't like Heinlein, you don't know what you're missing and are quite possibly insane. I'll pray for you.

    Posted by Tom, 10/24/2003 7:32:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, October 23, 2003

    Shotgun News

    No, not the Neal Knox publication. Here's a scattering of the news stories that caught my eye today:

    Few Viewers and Network Executives Scratch Their Heads: Apparently, the nation has realized that television is crap, but the execs can't figure it out. It's obvious that what we need is yet another show with vacuous Gen-Y types eating bugs.

    The only name in town: Apparently the veganazi's are not very good at offering bribes. Here's a hint: try giving citizens cash instead of tasteless wafers, and you might get a little further. Oh, and it might also help if your ideas of what's to be offended about weren't utterly moronic.

    Basketball toss leads to criminal charges: Right in my own backyard, this proves that even seemingly "reasonable" states are still full of government overreactors. In my day, this would have resulted in a detention or possibly a suspension. The school's liability insurance would take care of any medical treatment. But nooooooo, in the days of government panic over frustrated teenagers, everything has to be met with the full force of government, or else we're not "serious" about the "problem". Government and common sense are arch-enemies of the highest order.

    Survey: Homeschoolers new political force: And while our public schools work hard to find new ways to jail basketball players (hey, I guess at least it keeps us from having to deal with them when basketball-throwing evolves into rape charges, right?), we're discovering that homeschoolers as a rule defy all of the notions about "poor socialization" and "poor citizenship skills" that we've been hearing. Be nice to them, because God willing they'll be running the country next.

    Gibson signs distribution deal: The Passion comes out Ash Wednesday. I'll be there with tissues in tow.

    Senate approves anti-spam bill: Just what we need... a bunch of technologically inept government pencil pushers and make-workers who rely on staffers to read their email for them, passing a law about what can and cannot be sent to our email addresses.

    Posted by Tom, 10/23/2003 9:39:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Guns guns guns

    The open-carry demonstrations in Ohio are apparently having an effect, as the Ohio Senate finally stops stalling on the decision to start a conference committee for their concealed-carry legislation. Like true patriotic warriors however, Ohioans for Concealed Carry is continuing the open-carry drive with new demonstrations, and will apparently continue to do so until the politicians get the whole thing done. So to all those who say activism doesn't work, please return now to your previously scheduled doom-and-gloom prediction-mongering.

    In other gun news, we have a decent article at National Review Online about the CDC's utter failure to find any good coming from gun control laws. The best line: "One would think that at least some good would come from all these laws. Researchers should be able to prove that the laws prevent at least a few murders, rapes, and robberies. Amazingly, they can't. And even more amazingly, they have admitted that they can't." What would be even more amazing is if government would take the next logical step and start repealing all these useless laws.

    And finally, just in case you thought the BATF had been tamed, think again. They're still using vaguely worded laws to entrap innocent, harmless people who just enjoy owning, collecting and (horror of horrors!) trading guns. This article made me think of my grandfather, and how I'd be foaming at the mouth if a jackbooted thug wanted him prosecuted just because he wants to sell off a few guns. These idiots have got to have something better to do with their time. I don't know why they go after peoples' grandfathers, but my suspicion is that they're too cowardly to go after the real criminals. After all, a grandfather will likely offer them a piece of candy, but a twenty-something gunrunner might actually shoot back.

    Posted by Tom, 10/23/2003 9:20:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, October 22, 2003

    Death Politics

    Well, I've been avoid this particular current event for a while, because quite frankly I don't know what to make of it. You've probably heard of Terri Schiavo and all the hoopla surrounding her bastard husband. Diane Alden wrote a decent article on the matter, and I think she makes a lot of good points. I have until now been pretty much in the "right to die" camp, but I believe that if someone wants to die, they should really be expected to off themselves instead of dragging the rest of us into it. In all other ways, and excepting the presence of a properly witnessed and executed "living will" to the contrary, we absolutely must presume that a person desires to live in whatever state they exist and treat them accordingly.

    As to the matter of who is to pay for all this care, obviously it first falls to their insurance company, then to any personal assets (apparently the biggest reason Schiavo's husband wants her dead), and finally to any charity who wishes to take up the cause. I am not advocating that their care, which can be expensive, be maintained for free by the doctors and hospitals who must provide it. These services and medicines do cost something, and it's best to admit that right up front rather than try to ignore it or pretend that the person's life doesn't cost something to maintain. A doctor's life costs something to maintain as well, and he or she is entitled to expect remuneration for his or her services. Same goes for the electric company that powers the monitors, the pharmaceutical company that provides the medicine, and so forth. But so long as someone is willing to foot the bill, and there is no overriding reason (such as the aforementioned living will) to stop, those persons should jolly well be allowed to go on living.

    Posted by Tom, 10/22/2003 4:34:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Because I'm Feeling Kinda Gloomy...

    Don't Trip
    You will be smothered under a rug. You're a little
    anti-social, and may want to start gaining new
    social skills by making prank phone calls.

    What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
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    If you're sitting there going "what the heck?", follow this link. Or simply search Yahoo or Google for Edward Gorey. He's like a twisted Shel Silverstein.

    Posted by Tom, 10/22/2003 9:05:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, October 21, 2003

    Vesuvius Unbound

    Yahoo has a fascinating article about the population pressures around Mt. Vesuvius in Italy. The last 3 paragraphs bear mentioning:

    But if the precursors can signal an eruption, they don't guarantee one. In fact, there's a 50% chance an eruption won't occur. And therein lies the hitch: What if everyone is evacuated and Vesuvius doesn't erupt?

    In 1984, Italian officials evacuated 40,000 people in the Campi Flegrei area near Naples when a volcano there threatened to erupt. It never did.

    "Imagine evacuating 580,000 people and nothing happens," Macedonio says. "Get it wrong, and it's the end of a career."

    It is easy to imagine an either-or scenario. A bureaucrat sees the warning signals, worries about his career, then doesn't evacuate and people die. He loses his job for not sounding the alarm. Or the opposite occurs and he loses his job for inciting needless panic. Why not simply make the information publicly available, and let people decide for themselves if they want to chance an eruption or get the heck out of Dodge? Then their lives are properly in their own hands, and no bureaucrats necessarily have to lose their jobs, since there would be no need for a "pull the trigger on evacuation" bureaucrat.

    Living in Tornado Alley, I have a smaller-scale situation, but the principle applies and it works well here. Sure, you might lose your house or even your life, but we don't ruin anyone's careers over it. We have a state climatologist, but he isn't the "get out of the twister's way" bureaucrat, he's the "let's get as much information as possible into the hands of the people" bureaucrat. People keep one eye on the weather during tornado season, take appropriate precautions when the conditions get bad, and ultimately accept responsibility for their own welfare. Everything as it should be.

    Posted by Tom, 10/21/2003 11:20:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Open Carry Ohio

    OFCC has some articles about recent open carry demonstrations in Ohio, where residents are choosing to fully exercise their right to carry firearms openly as prescribed by law. If it makes people nervous, good. Maybe that will cause the state government to rethink the current catch-22 situation with regards to concealed carry.

    Cleveland-area 'Defense' Walk ''total success!''
    Toledo-Area 'Defense' Walkers welcomed in Swanton with ''honks, waves & smiles"
    Tony Gordon Memorial 'Defense' Walk ''the most emotional of them all''

    The last one is especially important to read, as Tony Gordon was killed when he followed the advice of the Ohio State Highway Patrol with regards to what one should do in the face of a carjacking. Government takes away your right to self-defense, then gives you bad advice on top of it. Granted, Tony might not have been able to use his gun if he had one, but we'll never know because he wasn't allowed to have one with him.

    The best person to decide on a course of action in an emergency situation is the person who is faced with the situation, not some pencil-pushing brain-dead bureaucrat entertaining fantasies of a peaceful world where nobody ever gets hurt or has to cry. I won't say OSHP killed Tony Gordon, but neither did they save him.

    Posted by Tom, 10/21/2003 10:21:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Morons in Action

    A school in Minnesota wants to hold a gun safety class (apparently for young hunters), but absolutely forbids students from actually bringing guns to learn with. So the kids get to learn all about gun safety with a gun that may or may not be anything like the gun they might actually be using in the field. Of course, issue one is the fact that this course is required at all; a child's parents ought to be teaching them about guns, not some guy hired by the school. I'm sure the instructor is competent and all (having met a few hunter safety instructors in my day), but this is really the job of the parents. But putting that whole argument aside, are the know-nothing administrators too pig-headed and stupid to realize that a kid needs to know his own gun intimately and how to handle THAT PARTICULAR GUN safely? I don't think I'd trust them to teach my kid math after something like this.

    In other school-related news, you may remember my gripe about a CBS hit piece on homeschoolers. MSNBC provides a nice rebuttal in their latest article on the subject, kindly pointing out that parents are in the best position to handle the specific needs of their children. And considering the vacuous alternative that public schools are becoming, homeschooling is the wave of the future.

    Posted by Tom, 10/21/2003 9:15:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, October 20, 2003

    The Propaganda Machine in Full Swing

    So, with the release of "Runaway Jury", Hollywood has a nice big anti-gun showboat to sound the call to arms over the renewal of the Assault Weapons Sham. I suppose I should have expected it, but knowing that doesn't make me any happier. You'd think they'd be content with giving ill-deserved Oscars to non-documentaries like Bowling for Columbine. And don't forget the pending release of yet another sob story, Elephant, which simultaneously takes a swipe at gun people and the party where they're most likely to be found (think party mascots). To be fair Van Sant, the maker of Elephant, is keeping the anti-gunners at arm's length, but the fact that they so desperately want him on the bandwagon speaks volumes about the movie's content. I hereby declare the propaganda machine running on all cylinders.

    Posted by Tom, 10/20/2003 4:58:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...


    After reading a fair sampling of the blogs by teens and twentysomethings out there, I'm really getting sick of the whole "brainbarf" format. Come on, people! Stream of consciousness was only done well by Bret Easton Ellis, so please oh please find another way to write.

    Posted by Tom, 10/20/2003 12:48:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Random Thought

    My wife and I realized this over the weekend:

    Two men can be mean to each other all the time, and still consider themselves friends.
    Two women can be nice to each other all the time, and still consider themselves enemies.

    Posted by Tom, 10/20/2003 12:36:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    What Makes Something Valuable? has an awesome article about Carl Menger's theory of value. It's the simplest, most accessible article I've ever read on the subject of value theory. It's worth your time.

    Posted by Tom, 10/17/2003 9:05:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    What Your Government Thinks of You

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Taylor is getting flak for referring to potential jurors in Kentucky as "illiterate cave dwellers". To be fair, the article does seem to indicate that he was not speaking of a particular group of people, but an undesignated "those who would be left" after eliminating people who had formed opinions about the case in question. I am rather disturbed, however, at what passes for an apology, to wit:

    "The comment was not meant to be a regional slur," Taylor said. "To the extent that it was misinterpreted to be one, I apologize."

    This is not an apology. This is a followup slur that says in essence "you illiterate cave dwellers that I was talking about before are too stupid to understand what I meant when I called you illiterate cave dwellers. I'm sorry you're stupid." Here's a hint, Kenny-boy: It helps if you don't further insult your audience when you're trying to apologize to them.

    Posted by Tom, 10/17/2003 8:55:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, October 16, 2003

    More on Social Security has a great article on how we are being fleeced by the Social Security system and the Payroll Tax that funds it. You may not agree with my proposed solution, but so far nobody's given me a better way to get rid of this fraud once and for all.

    Posted by Tom, 10/16/2003 9:59:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Women Demystified

    Buster B has a great post on his journey of self-discovery regarding his relationship with and opinion of women. This quote really caught my eye:

    And so, another great pillar of female superiority fell: women are supposed to understand relationships. Here was one that pretended to, but in reality didn't, an observation that was confirmed as she slowly screwed up what we had together until it fell apart. (A disclaimer: I was far from an expert on relationships, myself. I'm sure that I contributed just as much to the breakup as she did. However, the "eureka" was realizing that women were not, as is so often claimed, "relationship geniuses." I knew that I was a "relationship idiot"; what shocked me was that she was, too.)

    It's like he's reading my mind!!!

    Later, he sums it all up in his final paragraph:

    Now, whether you believe that women are just as bad as men or worse than men depends upon who you are, what you want from women in general, and your level of bitterness. As well, it depends upon the environment: those living in a world that lionizes women may overcompensate and vilify them, when in fact all they really deserve is to be pulled down off the pedestal, not driven into the ground. I know that I'm sometimes guilty of overstating my case, and I apologize for those times. Nonetheless, the basic observation stands: women are not the paragons of virtue, intelligence, and moral character as we are constantly told. "Constantly told?" Yes! Television commercials, television sitcoms, Oprah, newpapers, our female friends, our girlfriends, our wives, and our mothers all tell us how great women are. It's not so, and it surprises me that more people can't see that.

    I remember the harpies of my undergraduate time in college. I remember having it verbally beaten into me how bad men are and how great women are. I remember hearing how women could be Superman, Einstein, and Jesus all rolled into one if it weren't for all the nasty men keeping them down. Hear it often enough, you start to believe it. My personal failings (and I freely admit to having them) aside, all of this noise about the greatness of woman basically set me up for grave disappointment. It's not that I have a bad wife (she's God's own gift to me), I just have impossibly high expectations as a result of this crap.

    So thanks a lot, feminist movement. How pro-woman could you possibly be if you set men's expectations higher than any woman can achieve, thus wrecking their relationships and marriages when they fail to achieve it? Thank you ever so much for your contribution of questionable worth; now do us all a favor and get bent.

    Posted by Tom, 10/16/2003 8:34:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    CBS is anti-Parent

    OK, that's overstating a bit, but CBS News apparently hates homeschoolers. How else to describe their vicious attack on the homeschooling community wherein homeschooling is equated to child abuse? Fortunately, WorldNetDaily did a pretty good write-up on this, so I can just go somewhere and seethe quietly. 

    Posted by Tom, 10/15/2003 8:58:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Power and Participation

    Reason had a quick shot on J-Lo wanting free use of the Miami police for protection. Personally, I think she has a point.

    I've long considered the idea that we should get a number of votes that is proportional to the amount of taxes we pay. It makes sense that the people who are saddled with the biggest bill to maintain our society should have the most say in how their money is spent. It would also provide some incentive to go to a flatter tax system. This is the system that's used in the corporate world, and it seems to work fairly well.

    Oh sure, the egalitarians will pitch a major hissy-fit if such a thing were even proposed. But I've grown accustomed to ignoring the shrill voices of the perpetually indignant, so it wouldn't bother me much.

    Posted by Tom, 10/15/2003 8:52:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, October 13, 2003


    This guy Treadwell got what he deserved. It's just too bad that he's taking so many others (bears and people) down with him. I don't know whether to feel sorry for his girlfriend or not. She bought into the whole econut hype about how nature is just warm and fuzzy and needs protecting from mean old man, so she couldn't have been especially bright. But at least according to this article she had the good sense to be afraid anyway.

    This article highlights the difference between being a conservationist and being an environmentalist, though not in so many words. Conservationists know boundaries. Environmentalists are just idiots. I did like the sideways dig at Jeff Corwin, whose antics are amusing, but whose message falls into the latter camp.

    Treadwell's "special gift" appears to have been, in the words of one reader, "a layer of chewy, around a layer of crunchy, around another layer of chewy." Sounds like a candy bar. Apparently the bear thought so too.

    Posted by Tom, 10/13/2003 10:18:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Leave Me Alone!

    This article is particularly infuriating. Look, I know I'm overweight. I'm even doing something about it. I don't need your help. A quote:

    "There are times when we as a nation feel that personal responsibility is not getting the job done, and so we have to take action," said Kelly D. Brownell, director of the Yale University Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. "We could count on parents to get their children immunized, but they don't, therefore we require it. We could count on people being responsible and not smoking cigarettes, but we have a huge health crisis brought on by people smoking cigarettes."

    "Therefore we require it." How about I require you to go jump in a lake, you nattering buffoon? I'm sure you've got some codependency issues or something you could be working on instead of bothering the rest of us. And what about the handicapped employees, or the ones who have to trundle a bunch of crap around for presentations, such as laptops, projectors, mounds of handouts and the like? I guess reducing their productivity by forcing them to wait for snail's-pace elevators might be cost-justified in the long run against health insurance costs, but somehow I doubt anyone has done the math.

    Now don't get me wrong... if a company wishes to do some of the things described in the article, like encourage the use of stairs, or the use of one's lunch break for exercise (I'd be ecstatic if my employer would put a racquetball court in the building), I've got no problem with it. But when things go from adjusting the costs and benefits between the stairs and the elevators, or fiddling with parking spots, to mandating this or that, it's time to shut the program down.

    Posted by Tom, 10/13/2003 9:05:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    New Book

    Star Parker has recently written a new book, Uncle Sam's Plantation. I own and have read her previous work, Pimps, Whores, and Welfare Brats, and if the new effort is anything like the first, it will be worth reading.

    Posted by Tom, 10/13/2003 8:41:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, October 10, 2003

    Comments Added

    I've added the ability for my readers (which I can probably count on one hand) to leave comments. Fire away.

    Posted by Tom, 10/10/2003 1:32:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Some Quick Shots

    Jacob Sullum ponders the recent study by the CDC that shows no evidence for the efficacy of gun control laws. Like me, he's fairly disgusted with the media and politicians on this issue, and wryly notes that the pro-gun-control CDC wants to do more study. If the evidence doesn't prove you right, keep looking for more evidence.

    The Washington Post wants us to take politics seriously. No, seriously, they do.

    Congress now wants to extend copyright protection to databases. If there is anything more pathetic and sad than brain-dead politicians attempting to deal with technology, I haven't seen it.

    And finally, MSNBC has a hand-wringing article about the trade in exotic animals. The word "journalist" must be derived from a root common with "worrywart". It seems to me that Roy Horn's recent experience shows that the exotic animal trade is its own punishment. Wouldn't it be better to let it continue, that way the idiots could all get eaten and the rest of us wouldn't have to put up with them anymore?

    Posted by Tom, 10/10/2003 8:54:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, October 9, 2003

    Live Free or Die Trying

    Here's a good article that not only outlines the plan and possible effects of the Free State Project, but also takes the time to talk about the morality and civility that must necessarily be present for the project's goals to work. This was modeled in Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It's interesting that he believes (as I do) that informal social norms of the type studied by Ellickson become imperative once formalized government is reduced or done away with.

    Posted by Tom, 10/9/2003 8:29:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, October 8, 2003

    Moving Melodies

    Every once in a while I hear a song that really moves me. "If I Stand", by Rich Mullins, is the latest one. I understand it's on his "Songs" CD. I feel an Amazon order coming on...

    There's more that rises in the morning
    Than the sun
    And more that shines in the night
    Than just the moon
    It's more than just this fire here
    That keeps me warm
    In a shelter that is larger
    Than this room

    And there's a loyalty that's deeper
    Than mere sentiments
    And a music higher than the songs
    That I can sing
    The stuff of Earth competes
    For the allegiance
    I owe only to the Giver
    Of all good things

    So if I stand let me stand on the promise
    That you will pull me through
    And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
    That first brought me to You
    And if I sing let me sing for the joy
    That has born in me these songs
    And if I weep let it be as a man
    Who is longing for his home

    There's more that dances on the prairies
    Than the wind
    More that pulses in the ocean
    Than the tide
    There's a love that is fiercer
    Than the love between friends
    More gentle than a mother's
    When her baby's at her side

    And there's a loyalty that's deeper
    Than mere sentiments
    And a music higher than the songs
    That I can sing
    The stuff of Earth competes
    For the allegence
    I owe only to the Giver
    Of all good things

    So if I stand let me stand on the promise
    That you will pull me through
    And if I can't let me fall on the grace
    That first brought me to You
    And if I sing let me sing for the joy
    That has born in me these songs
    And if I weep let it be as a man
    Who is longing for his home

    And if I stand let me stand on the promise
    That you will pull me through
    And if I can't let me fall on the grace
    That first brought me to You
    And if I sing let me sing for the joy
    That has born in me these songs
    And if I weep let it be as a man
    Who is longing for his home

    And if I weep let it be as a man
    Who is longing for his home

    Posted by Tom, 10/8/2003 2:37:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Schwarzenegger Wins It

    And that's pretty much as far as I'm going to pursue this topic.

    I. Don't. Care.

    Posted by Tom, 10/8/2003 8:29:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, October 7, 2003

    Social Contract, or Faustian Bargain?

    I have some interesting conversations with a local political scientist. While his profession necessarily includes worship of state, he can be fairly reasonable when he desires to be. One of his more irritating habits, though, is to bring up the ol' "social contract" argument. This is supposedly where we have entered into a business arrangement with the government, whereupon we surrender our freedom and government takes it. So it's win-win.

    My usual response is to demand to see a copy of this contract, because for the life of me I can't remember ever signing one and even if I had, I think it's high time to renegotiate. Granted, there are people who in regarding their freedom have the same attitude Faust had for his soul: "What, this old thing? I'm not using it anyway, so have at it." And I'm perfectly willing to let them sign onto the contract, but I do not agree that they have any right to sign me up with them. Some of you may recall that I had the same issue with Smith & Wesson a few years back.

    As Heinlein said, government exists only in the actions of individuals. Therefore government can take no action and call it moral if an individual taking the same action would be acting immorally. That's why I refuse to buy into any claim of the government doing "what's right". Government is incapable of doing what's right, because all of its actions are at the very least funded by the immoral act of stealing. And this is how I know that I never signed a contract with government, because my mother taught me not to hang around with unsavory types.

    Posted by Tom, 10/7/2003 9:37:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, October 6, 2003

    It's Here!

    I've finished The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and will be taking a break from dear Heinlein for a while so I can immerse myself in a book I've been waiting to buy for about 6 months: Order Without Law, by Robert Ellickson. More later.

    Posted by Tom, 10/6/2003 12:23:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Buster Blog

    Found this blog while perusing randomly. I've read the first page, and so far I like the way he thinks. YMMV

    Posted by Tom, 10/6/2003 12:20:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, October 3, 2003

    Newest Casualty in the Tobacco Wars...

    ... is of course people like me. In a new deal being hammered out between the tobacco farmers and the tobacco nazis, the plot sickens. Everyone's a winner, even the tobacco nazis who get to wallow in self-righteousness for a while. The only loser is of course for the non-smoking taxpayer, who has the "privilege" of funding both a new subsidy for the farmers and a new expansion of the FDA. Oh joy! Oh rapture! I think I'm going to be sick.

    Posted by Tom, 10/3/2003 3:28:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    No Evidence to Support Gun Laws

    The CDC can't seem to find any evidence which will support the proposition that gun laws do anything beneficial. They want to keep looking, but I'm pretty well convinced that they still won't find anything.

    Posted by Tom, 10/3/2003 10:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Snap Shot

    Posted by Tom, 10/3/2003 8:48:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, October 2, 2003

    Live Free or Die

    The Free State Project has chosen New Hampshire as its target, which bumps me out since I refuse to live east of the Mississippi. It's still a good choice, and you have to love the state motto.

    See the following stories, and note how nasty the government-worshipping Brits are about it.,3858,4764608-110878,00.html

    I wish them well, and will be monitoring their progress. Godspeed, fellow liberty-lovers!

    Posted by Tom, 10/2/2003 3:52:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Viral Thoughts

    It's possible you've heard of memes (see here and here). In light of my own belief system, and the thoughts below, it seems possible that government may actually be a meme, and libertarians or anarchists are either highly resistant or immune to it. Seems like it would be an extremely old meme, and exceedingly resistant to vaccination or elimination.

    After looking around a little, I found this article about the government-as-meme idea. Unfortunately, a few minutes' reflection has convinced me that memetics holds no answers, as the Meta-meme (the meme of the existence of memes) essentially makes it impossible to know anything by discounting almost every thought or idea as being memetic. It is just as easy, for example, for a person with the government meme to accuse another person of having the libertarian meme once both are speaking in the language of memes. The accusations and attempts at curatives could go on endlessly without any useful resolution. Memetics seems a self-contained and ultimately useless system that is better left alone.

    Posted by Tom, 10/2/2003 3:04:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    What's the Harm?

    "But Tom," people say occasionally, "what's wrong with trusting government?" Well, here's one good example of what can go wrong with that worldview.

    Posted by Tom, 10/2/2003 10:49:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    A Capitalist Surviving Socialism

    I read this article when it came out in the print edition of Reason. It's an interesting look at the real-world economics of socialism and its effect on the people who have to live with it. If Pablo's experience is in any way typical, Cuba sounds like a real cesspool.

    Posted by Tom, 10/2/2003 9:59:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The Nature of Government

    Aside: Lew Rockwell has some interesting comments on the minimum wage today, and his arguments as usual are spot-on.

    Yesterday's quote from Heinlein got me thinking. If in fact there is no corporeal entity which can be pointed to and referred to as "government", does government actually exist? Heinlein says that government's only existence is physically exemplified by the actions of self-responsible individuals. So what a cop does, or a tax collector does, or a congressman does, first off are their actions and their actions alone, but secondly are the only tangible evidence of any such thing as "government".

    I don't mean this to be an argument to say that government most emphatically does not exist. But for all practical purposes government seems to exist simply because we believe it does. It is that belief in government or perhaps the supposed "benefits" of government that causes people to carry out those individual acts that form the physical manifestation of what we call government.

    At my Emmaus Walk, we learned that we (Christians) are the physical manifestation of God's love toward others. We are the "hands and feet" of Jesus on this Earth. Therefore whatever we do in the name of God is representative to others of God's character, and evidence of His existence. What is really interesting is that from an agnostic's point of view, it does not then matter whether God exists in actual fact, because God's existence is manifested in the actions of those who follow Him.

    Doesn't government follow the same pattern? The only evidence we have of the actual existence of government is the fact that people act in ways that reflect their belief in it. If they did not act, it would not be manifest, and it would in essence not exist.

    In Tunnel in the Sky, Heinlein's pro-government character (Grant Cowper) states that government is mankind's single most important invention. In light of all this, I'm beginning to think that perhaps government is not an invention at all, but a behavior. We have government not because we have created it, but because it is an instinct. This would seem to be supported by the social systems of countless animals, from beehives to wolf packs to shark schools. These systems could easily be defined as government.

    So if government is instinctive behavior, what does that say about the supposed need for formalized government? I suppose one would have to answer the question of whether a given individaul is naturally self-governing, or at least if an individual becomes so as a result of "normal" parenting during their formative years. It must be noted that formal government relies heavily on self-government to be effective in the first place. If a significant percentage, even 10%, of the people under a formal government decided simultaneously to break the law, formal government would be completely and utterly inadequate to the task of bringing them to trial and punishing them. If just 10% of the people in America murdered one other person tomorrow, that would be 28 MILLION murders. It just doesn't seem possible to me that formal government can take the credit for this not happening. There must be something else at work, and at the moment my money is on instinctive self-government.

    Posted by Tom, 10/2/2003 9:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, October 1, 2003

    A Couple of Quick Quizzes

    What Book of the Bible Are You?

    You are Ephesians
    You are Ephesians.

    Which book of the Bible are you?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    What Movie Do You Belong In?
    Mine was no surprise to me...

    Fight Club!

    What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
    brought to you by Quizilla

    Posted by Tom, 10/1/2003 4:46:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Comments and Corrections

    An astute reader has taken me to task over my treatment of a reporter's confusion with the words "affect" and "effect". She points out that in the link I provided, it states the following:

    Usage Note: Affect and effect have no senses in common. As a verb affect is most commonly used in the sense of “to influence” (how smoking affects health). Effect means “to bring about or execute”: layoffs designed to effect savings. Thus the sentence These measures may affect savings could imply that the measures may reduce savings that have already been realized, whereas These measures may effect savings implies that the measures will cause new savings to come about.

    Therefore, let us re-examine the sentence in question:

    Affect: Grossman says most businesses aren't aware how nanotech will influence key sectors of the U.S. economy.

    Effect: Grossman says most businesses aren't aware how nanotech will cause key sectors of the U.S. economy.

    I was wrong in stating unequivocally that "effect" is a noun, and cheerfully stand corrected. However its verb form is still inappropriate to the sentence above and renders it meaningless gibberish, so my criticism remains valid.

    Posted by Tom, 10/1/2003 10:37:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The Rational Anarchist

    I've finished Tunnel in the Sky, and am now onto Heinlein's finest work, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I am reading his books through again as preparation for the release of his hitherto unknown manuscript, For Us, the Living. I am paying particular attention to his political arguments and descriptions of things which his stories promote as "good". This particular item caught my eye:

    ... A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as 'state' and 'society' and 'government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame ... as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world ... aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.

    In a political sense this is pretty radical, even to a libertarian. The implications are staggering -- each person a wholly self-contained governmental unit. But it occurs to me that this is precisely the formula we follow in Christianity. Each person tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world, recognizing that their attempts will be less than perfect, and recognizing also that others may not hold to the same moral standards.

    Clearly, this concept of rational anarchy deserves some more thought.

    Posted by Tom, 10/1/2003 8:45:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...