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, September 30, 2005


    A firearms/concealed weapons trainer in Ohio is offering a free pistol and training to verifiable victims of violence:

    Last spring, Randy Garcia announced that his company, Buckeye Firearms Training, LLC, would be offering a free handgun and training to a select number of women who have been victims of violence.

    The world needs more people like Randy Garcia.

    Posted by Tom, 9/30/2005 9:06:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Irritating Promotional Campaign

    Sony has this new campaign for their BRAVIA televisions. They're saying that it's the world's first television for both men and women. That's kind of strange in and of itself -- how is television gender-specific? Which gender was being served previously? Anyway, their website for the things, which one arrives at by clicking on one of these ads, has absolutely NOTHING to give a hint as to what they mean by gender-specific television. I for one am so irritated by this that I don't think I'll be buying ANY Sony products for a good long time.

    Posted by Tom, 9/30/2005 9:01:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Serenity Now!

    From the San Francisco Chronicle:

    If "Serenity" isn't the next "Matrix," it will at the very least become this generation's "Highlander."

    Now that's some pretty darn high praise, if you ask me. Due to scheduling problems, I'm not seeing the movie until Sunday. I'm a huge fan of the series, so I'm looking forward to a great movie.

    Posted by Tom, 9/30/2005 7:13:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Aggression begets Aggression

    So the Canucks think it's a great idea to follow in America's footsteps and sue the tobacco companies. Besides giving the lie to their claims of superiority over us Yanks, this is a classic case of the continual growth of aggression. Once one form is justified, another is soon to follow. In this case, the aggression of "universal health care" begets the aggression of attacking those whose products make that health care more expensive. Rather than having individuals remain responsible for the cost of their own care, and thus bearing the cost of their own bad choices (smoking, overeating, etc.), collectivization gives everyone a stake in this smoker or that fat person's poor health, and since the collectivization stems from a desire to "not blame the victim" (whatever that means), of course the only logical action is to find someone with deep pockets and sue the hell out of them.

    If the Canucks were really as forward-thinking and progressive as they'd like us to think they are, they might look at the fact that all of the money taken from the tobacco industry in America has basically disappeared into the black hole of bureaucracy. But of course, that wouldn't stop them, because their government is supposedly so much less corrupt than ours. Poppycock, says I, but then, nobody asked me.

    Posted by Tom, 9/30/2005 6:48:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, September 29, 2005

    Please shut up

    Flight attendants are going nuts over the movie Flightplan, planning a boycott and all sorts of other silliness.

    "We could get over the rudeness, but the evilness, to be the villain, that is not acceptable," Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants tells the Los Angeles Times.

    Disney, the studio behind the thriller, said the film didn't mean to denigrate flight attendants.

    "There was absolutely no intention on the part of the studio or filmmakers to create anything but a great action thriller," a Disney rep said. "We are confident the public will be able to discern the difference between fiction and the incredible job real-life flight attendants do on a daily basis."

    But that's not doing much to soothe tempers.

    "Our fellow crew members who perished in the line of duty deserve more respect," says Hutto-Blake.

    Caldwell also invoked 9-11. "With security concerns what they are, it is not a good time to release a film with a terrorist in the position of flight attendant," she tells the Times.

    GET OVER YOURSELF!!! Holy crap. The bad guy's got to do something for a living. Sociopathy doesn't pay very well unless you get a government job, like a DEA or BATFE agent. How many times have computer programmers been the bad guy? How many times have cops been the bad guy? Flight attendants can have their turn. Shut up and sit down. The captain has turned on the "no morons" sign, and it will remain lit for the duration of the flight.

    Posted by Tom, 9/29/2005 12:55:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Global Warming, Solved

    So here's the latest from the handwringing ninnies on global warming:

    Arctic sea ice headed for long-term decline News Staff

    The coverage of sea ice in the Arctic has declined for a fourth consecutive year, leading scientists to suggest that this is a sign of a long-term decline.

    The amount of sea ice in 2005 up to September -- the month when it typically reaches its minimum -- is anticipated to be the lowest in a century, according to new data from U.S. scientists.

    A recent poster to a certain message board had this bit of whinery to spew about it:

    Will this make Bush realize the severity of global warming and do something about it? Will he stop building coal fueled factories?

    Will our children see arctic wildlife like polar bears by the time they are 50 or will those beautiful animals (among others, like seals) be gone by then?

    All this is well and good when we observe in a vacuum. However, there are other things afoot which make one question the validity of laying this crap at Bush/Clinton/Bush/Reagan/etc's feet. Turning to, we find the following tidbit about the data coming back from Mars:

    The spacecraft also observed a gradual evaporation of carbon dioxide ice in one of Mars’ polar caps, pointing to a slowly changing Mars climate.

    “They way these polar pits are retreating is absolutely astounding,” Mustard said.

    But like the rockfalls, researchers were unable to account for the gradual climate change.

    “Why is Mars warmer today that it was in the past, we really have no way of knowing why,” Malin said.

    No way of knowing? Hey genius, here's a clue! Put two and two together, look for common denominators, and what do you have? Increased solar activity/output maybe? But hey, let's not just speculate. Maybe someone's actually written something or done a study or something scientific-y like that.

    Geophysicists in Finland and Germany have calculated that the Sun is more magnetically active now than it has been for over a 1000 years.


    “We need to understand this unprecedented level of activity,” Usoskin told PhysicsWeb. “Is it is a rare event that happens once a millennium - which means that the Sun will return to normal - or is it a new dynamic state that will keep solar activity levels high?”
    The Finnish-German team also speculates that increased solar activity may be having an effect on the Earth’s climate, but more work is needed to clarify this.

    More work hell. Occam's Razor says the simplest explanation is probably the right one, and hotter sun is definitely simpler than the house of cards built up by the enviroweenies. I say the global warming alarmists have a lot of work to do to overcome this one, and I for one don't believe they can.

    Thanks to Evan for the cross-reference info.

    Posted by Tom, 9/28/2005 5:52:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Things that make you go HMMMM...

    "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
    - Hermann Goering, Hitler's Reich-Marshall, at the Nuremberg Trials

    Posted by Tom, 9/27/2005 5:49:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    It's a sad day

    Don Adams, aka Maxwell Smart/Agent 86, has died.

    Posted by Tom, 9/27/2005 5:34:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...


    I just found this 5-part series about the history of Dungeons and Dragons. There's a lot of insider dirt that wasn't apparent from the viewpoint of a gaming-store customer, though the fallout certainly did show. It's a must-read for anyone who's ever done any D&D'ing.

    1) Companions & Chainmail
    2) Mazes & Monsters
    3) Tyrants & Wizards
    4) Repairs & Resurrections
    5) Atari & Eberron

    It's also an interesting case study in intellectual property and the over-enforcement of copyright.

    Posted by Tom, 9/27/2005 6:40:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    What have we here?

    CLAREMORE, Okla. -- State auditors say some six-thousand weapons are missing from the JM Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore and some have been found at crime scenes.

    State Auditor Jeff McMahan says when the state-owned museum was founded in the 1960s its inventory listed more than 20,000 firearms and related items. He says there are now only about 14,000.

    Rest of the story here.

    Remember kids: Only government is responsible enough to own guns.

    Posted by Tom, 9/22/2005 6:27:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    I'm calling it today

    I believe the winner of the 2008 presidential election will be a Democrat. I hope to God it isn't Hillary.

    Posted by Tom, 9/13/2005 7:01:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Government a Complete Success!!!

    Finally, I have something good to say about government. In the aftermath of Katrina, government was wildly successful in pursuit of its core mission. From

    For those who maintain that the government "failed" its "mission," I must say that they are wrong. True, the government with its ham-fisted policies of blocking relief missions, imposing price controls, and acting in a dictatorial, but incompetent style, seems to have "failed" in making things better, especially in the days directly after the storm passed. But, if you understand that government is a mechanism by which some people impose their will by force over others, then you would have to admit that the government succeeded and succeeded beyond its own expectations.

    Thus, I leave readers with this question: If you believe that the government "failed" in the aftermath of Katrina, will the government then have less or more "authority" when the next disaster strikes? I think all of us know the answer.

    "Government is the negation of liberty."
    -- Ludwig von Mises

    Posted by Tom, 9/13/2005 6:46:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, September 12, 2005

    The Conspiracy Revealed

    Evan Coyne Maloney has a hilarious post over at Brain Terminal about the full Bush conspiracy. The sad part is that I've heard most of the points referenced being said with straight faces by nitwits on the left. I can't understand how the left believes simultaneously that Bush is an idiot and a criminal mastermind more devious than the greatest of James Bond villains.

    Posted by Tom, 9/12/2005 6:59:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, September 6, 2005

    Government vs Market

    Here's an awesome article about the difference between the top-down (government) and bottom-up (market) approaches to hurricane Katrina relief. It includes stories about what happened on the net as the whole event was going down, and the physical response (supplies readied, rescues made, etc.) that came as a result of spontaneous virtual organization. It then goes on to say:

    All of these efforts have something in common: They were quick, voluntarily organized and reasonably effective. That is, sadly, almost exactly the opposite of the government efforts that were slow, disorganized and ineffective--or at least seemed to be until political pressure mounted and National Guard troops finally entered the waterlogged city in force on Friday. No wonder New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was telling the Feds to "get off your asses."

    The point is not to slam President Bush. (Others, including the New York Times' editorial page will devote years to lambasting his administration.)

    Rather, it's to recognize the inefficiency of top-down systems such as the federal government compared with the rapid, efficient and effective organizing that individuals can accomplish on their own.

    This is what the late Austrian economist F.A. Hayek called "spontaneous order," referring to the marvel that happens every day when people work together and agree on transactions, voluntarily, without a central authority dictating what happens.

    That's why government fails. Central planning doesn't work. The Soviet experiment was and is a failure, and to the extent that other governments try it, they will also fail.

    Posted by Tom, 9/6/2005 7:10:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, September 2, 2005

    Katrina: A massive failure of government

    There's an excellent article over at that lays out the major causes of the devastation in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Here's a hint: it had little to do with the weather.

    And again, it is critical to keep in mind that none of this was caused by Hurricane Katrina as such. It was the levee break that led to the calamity. As the New York Times points out: "it was not the water from the sky but the water that broke through the city's protective barriers that had changed everything for the worse.... When the levees gave way in some critical spots, streets that were essentially dry in the hours immediately after the hurricane passed were several feet deep in water on Tuesday morning."

    Indeed, at 4pm on Monday, August 29, all seemed calm, and reports of possible calamity seemed overwrought. Two hours later the reports began to appear about the levee. A period of some twelve hours lapsed between when the hurricane passed through and when the water came rushing into the city. There is some dispute about precisely when the levees broke. Some say that they were broken long before anyone discovered it, which is another outrage. There was no warning system. There is no question that plenty of time was available between their breakage and the flooding to enable people to make other arrangements — and perhaps for the levees to be repaired. People were relieved that the rain subsided and the effects of Katrina were far less egregious than anyone expected.

    That's when the disaster struck. The municipal government itself relocated to Baton Rouge even as the city pumps failed as well. Meanwhile, the Army Corp of Engineers apparently had no viable plan even to make repairs. They couldn't bring in the massive barges and cranes needed because the bridges were down and broken, or couldn't be opened without electricity. For public relations purposes, they dumped tons of sand into one breach even as another levee was breaking. But even that PR move failed since most helicopters were being used to move people from spot to spot — another classic case of miscalculation. Many bloggers had the sense that the public sector essentially walked away.

    Later on, the author points out that the government is making the cleanup problem even worse with anti-market policies:

    The outrageous insistence that no one be permitted to "gouge" only creates shortages in critically important goods and services when they are needed the most. It is at times of extreme need that prices most need to be free to change so that consumers and producers can have an idea of what is needed and what is in demand. Absent those signals, people do not know what to conserve and what to produce. (emphasis mine)

    Bush was on national television declaring that the feds would have zero tolerance toward gouging, which is another way of saying zero tolerance toward markets.

    And finally, a nod to the "Bush is a Nazi" camp. I prefer to invoke Godwin's Law and instead say that this is symptomatic of government rather than one particular figurehead:

    Moreover, every American ought to be alarmed at the quickness of officials to declare martial law, invade people's rights, deny people the freedom of movement, and otherwise trample on all values that this country is supposed to hold dear. A crisis does not negate the existence of human rights. It is not a license for tyranny. It is not a signal that government can do anything it wants.

    I do agree with the author's assessment that our survival is too important to be left up to government. It's obvious in just about every facet of life that government simply isn't up to the task.

    Posted by Tom, 9/2/2005 7:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...