Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I may not even turn my computer on tomorrow. While I am not paranoid, I am somewhat concerned about the conficker worm that is supposed to strike tomorrow. I used Yahoo IM to talk with Gawfer and he too is considering the same thing. If I choose to go online I can always use public computers at the library.

In a couple of days I will know what to expect. I do not know that I have the worm on board but I don't feel like taking any chances, especially since this one seems to be for real. It is enough of a threat that I am taking precautions as it is difficult to catch for most anti-virus systems.

Update: I just ran a specialized scanner and it says my computer is "apparently not infected". I still plan to exercise caution.

Update 4-1: Having learned more about it I turned my computer on and started surfing. While it's not foolproof I am well-protected.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Update 3-30

Between working and traveling to my parents' house (an all day trip) I seem to be posting only on Monday through Wednesday. I hope to be able to correct that soon and also quit neglecting other blogs.

Finally finished the overly long Atlas Shrugged and it could have been written in 1/3 the pages. I think that Rand and Marx made opposite but equal errors. (4+4=10 and 4+4=6 are equally wrong in opposite directions.) though I don't consider her dangerous at the moment because 1) she honestly values freedom and is thus less dangerous 2) her followers are not in power. I think a lot of her problem was her childhood where she saw the folly and dangers of Marxism up-close and personal but she failed to see the dangers of absolute self-interest as well. Another of her flaws is that she believes that pure rationalism would eliminate all conflict but I would respond that immortality for all would cure death. Robert Heinlein (whom I also regard with mixed admiration and disdain) almost answered her with a line from his book Tunnel in the Sky.

Man is not a rational creature. He is a rationalizing creature.

Humanity will be rational as long as it is in their benefit to do so. What happens when self-interest and rationalism collide? - - as they will. Sadly she and Marx started from the same basic assumptions (materialism and blind rationalism) but went in totally different directions. The problem with both philosophies is the foundation.

How about this idea from an even older work of fiction?

All for one and one for all!

I prefer to operate on this idea. Do all you can do for yourself, your neighbor, your family, your friends, your community, your nation etc. Do what you can do and if you produce more you will live better and be able to provide more help to others.

One thing I liked about the book Starship Troopers was the idea that citizenship was not granted but earned by service to the nation and I think there is something to Heinlein's idea of earned citizenship and earned franchise. He divided humanity into citizens and residents on the basis of military service along the theory that those who volunteered to risk their lives for the body politic would handle it more responsibly than those who simply wanted to get what they could out of it. Of course there are flaws in this (primarily that there should be alternate -- but equally demanding and materially unrewarding -- paths to citizenship but that's another issue.)

I also feel that humanity could be divided into three groups.

1) There are those who cannot or will not assume responsibility even for themselves and their families; with few responsibilities come few privileges. Such people should have no power over the lives and property of others or the policies of the nation.

2) Those who are able and willing to take care of themselves who, having more responsibilities would have more rights. They would live materially better lives and have more privileges than the previous group but again would be denied political power.

3) Finally there are those who risk their lives or give up large chunks of it for no material gain for a cause greater than themselves; these are the ones who care enough for the whole that they should lead. (At the very least the President should be required to be an armed forces veteran.)

Should we even consider such a system?. Probably not but I have seen much dumber ideas put into practice but like all others that look good on paper the law of unintended consequences would probably step in and demolish it.

on a lighter note I got this from my brother today

Fixing the fence
Three contractors are bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House. One is from Chicago, another is from Tennessee, and the third is from Minnesota.
All three go with a White House official to examine the fence. The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says,
"I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me."
The Tennessee contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me."
The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to the White House official and whispers, "$2,700."
The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"
The Chicago contractor whispers back, "$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence."
"Done!" replies the government official.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Happened This Time?

In Bay City Michigan a 15 year old boy was killed by police officers. Now I really don't know enough to say whether or not the policemen should be punished or if it was an issue of poor training and not understanding his equipment, or if even the department itself had been properly trained with this weapon. Here is a problem; in America you are innocent until proven guilty unless you are charged with a hate crime, sexual misconduct, or police brutality. The taser is not a tool, it is a weapon and police officers need to start thinking of it as a weapon or more of this nonsense is going to happen.

I know nothing about the boy in question except that he weighed less than 150 pounds and was intoxicated at the time. He did scuffle with the officers but he didn't deserve to die. My belief is that the officers were not properly trained with the TASER and the officers in question misjudged it. The taser is a valuable weapon in the police arsenal and it does not need to be removed. The police need to be better trained in when to use it and when not to. The fact that it is painful is what makes it useful; we want criminals to be terrified of the taser as that would make them more likely to surrender without a fight but clearly it should not be used on teenagers except under extraordinary conditions (There are teen-agers who are more violent and dangerous than most adults and police need more leeway with these "kids" but the young man in question obviously wasn't.

Keep the taser but make sure that the police officers know what it can do and when not to use it. Keep in mind that police officers have the responsibility to keep us collectively and individually safe and they risk their lives regularly to do it. Give them whatever equipment they need and make sure they are properly trained in its use.

I have spoken to my brother in Bay City about this and he told me a lot but nothing that could be confirmed by outside sources at this point. From what he said there is clearly more to the story than the "police brutality" screamers are telling us. If what he told me is true, not gossip, then the charge of police brutality is pushing it just a little. I need more confirmation though.

Here is a link to the Chief of Police in Bay City discussing this tragedy.

Update: Unconfirmed but I have been told that the boy was totally out of control. There were several adults in the house trying to control him before the police were even called. When the police arrived he launched himself at them. If this is indeed the case then the police should be exonerated.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I've Been Reading

For the last couple of weeks while sitting in the guard shack I have been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. As I have said before I respect Ayn Rand's intelligence and consistency, but have limited respect for her philosophy. I believe it is morally superior to socialism but still not the best we can do. Part of my disagreement with her might be semantics as I do not believe that wanting what is legitimately yours can be properly called selfishness. Selfishness is demanding what isn't yours or what you haven't earned. I think it's selfish for a welfare recipient to have so little goodwill toward those whose taxes fill their bellies. I think it's selfish to demand $25+ an hour to do next to nothing without a lot of goodwill toward the employer. If you work hard at difficult and exacting work and deserve it, well that's different. (I admittedly do not work very hard in the guardshack but I am not getting outlandish pay either.) I think most people are willing to share but most people also don't like being threatened or guilt-tripped into giving.

One thing I note in her book is the, almost comic-book, quality of her characters. Like another writer I don't always agree with but enjoy the writing of, Robert Heinlein, her main characters are super-intelligent, almost Nietzshceistic, over-achievers. I see a sequence of flow to individualism from the truth to the absurd with Heinlein closest to the truth, Rand a bit further out, and Nietzsche being all the way out at the point where the extreme left and right become the indistinguishable. The characters are just unrealistic. There are great men and women but supermen of the sort who appear in these novels are a myth. All men have weaknesses and often the greatest of men have the greatest weaknesses. (Also I note that Heinlein's supermen still had a sense of humor while Rand's work has very little real humor - unless you count sarcasm as humor; maybe Rand, for her intelligence, failed to understand humor.)

I did enjoy the scenes where the "looters" were talking amongst themselves and, speaking in private, how ruthless, cold-blooded and uncaring they really were. As one Dr. Ferris (one of the looters) said "We are after power and we mean it." Most modern leftists know that their policies will never work but they don't care; it's nothing but a path to power for them. If the state has total power and they are the state then they have what they want. The state controls all and they control the state.

Another disturbing thing is her reference to Robin Hood. Now the historical Robin Hood was nothing but a common bandit around whom air of romance was developed. Now the mythical Robin Hood was, in my opinion, a right-wing hero. You see in those days the rich and the government were one and the same and they got rich through excessive taxation. The Robin Hood of the romantic legends brought about the first tax refund by stealing from the taxman and giving it back to the tax-payer. Of course that's not how the historical Robin Hood functioned, but that's another story.

My biggest concern is her arrogant Atheism. Without God it is impossible to set moral absolutes. You may speak of what is good for the masses but why should I give a rip about the masses? You may speak of earning everything you have, as Rand does, but why should I if I can do it some other way? You can speak of the survival of humanity as the root of morality -as Heinlein does - but why should I care about what happens to humanity after I die? Morality requires a foundation otherwise it becomes meaningless. I recognize all of these things because there is Something bigger than me, or all of humanity, that has set an end and purpose to it all; you can choose to ignore or reject God but that has a terrible price. You can seek a moral foundation but without God there really isn't one.

I furthermore wonder if she realized how close she was to the Protestant Work Ethic which was born of Christian principles.

Friday, March 20, 2009

George Speaks

I obviously do not agree with everything Mr. Carlin said in this performance but I agree with a lot of what he says. Unlike some supposedly comments circulating the net that he never said, there is no question he said this.

H/T American Thinker

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Short (80 year old -?-) Movie Looked At.

Today, thanks to cheap video cameras and you-tube anyone can create a short, heck - - even a long, movie. But even sixty, seventy or eighty years ago, when it was expensive and a major undertaking, there were still people who made short movies purely as a labor of love, some of which never entered into the public eye, except for a few, such as the one I am about to show you, that turn up decades later on sites such as You Tube.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (or HP Lovecraft) is one of my favorite writers, even though he and I would be light years apart philosophically. Now to be perfectly frank, Lovecraft wasn't firing on all cylinders. He had problems and they frequently manifested themselves in his dreams (he had frequent nightmares) and guess what he used as source materials for his stories. His nightmares were the source of many of his stories.

The story I want to talk about and link to a short animated movie of is The Other Gods which he published in 1933 but had written almost 12 years earlier, in 1921. (The link leads to an online text of the story, which is very short - about 3 or 4 pages in a book - and only takes a couple of minutes to read.) What is curious is that the movie was made after Lovecraft wrote the story but almost a decade before it was published. I am not 100% convinced that this movie is what it purports to be: it is valid in artistic technique and cinematic technology of the time, but I'm not certain that Lovecraft had his pantheon fully developed by that time but it could well be on the up and up.

While most of Lovecraft's better known material was horror, this story is more along the lines of the fantasy genre. The story is of a priest, Barzai the Wise, who discovered where he could personally encounter his gods, found them to be weak and capable of being overcome by a mortal, but they were protected by the Gods of the Outer Hells, whom he called the Other Gods, who punished him for his comeuppance.

The story is really pretty lame but I think Lovecraft is really telling another story within this story.

His gods symbolized Cosmic principles rather than actual deities. In fact many of them were blind and mindless (making them out to not be gods at all but mere facts of reality and forces of nature.)

Yog Sothoth dwells outside of the universe and seems to be associated with knowledge that no one benefits from. He seems to be symbolic of knowledge that can only destroy.

Shub Nigurath is a perverse fertility goddess who produces life without thought or reason. She represents how Lovecraft saw biological life, a random product of the universe that exists for no purpose.

Nyarlathotep is a personification of the universe. The universe that has no use for or concern for humanity.

Azathoth is the creator and ruler of the universe. He is blind, mindless and uncaring. A true personafication of the universe without a God.

Some say that one should not look at their gods too closely, especially those who really don't believe in them but wish for them to exist. Barzai the Wise from The Other Gods chose to look closely at his gods and found them easy to overcome - - ie they weren't truly gods at all and he viewed them in contempt, but the universe, robbed of its gods, came rushing in with the mind shattering reality of what the lack of gods truly meant. As Barzai, deprived of his gods, was left at the mercy of the Outer Gods, so humanity, deprived of his gods, is left at the mercy of a cold uncaring universe that will ultimately destroy us.

The above is quote from Lovecraft's poem The Fungi From Yuggoth

While I enjoy Lovecraft's writings, I strongly disagree with his worldview. I believe that God exists and that He created life in general and man in particular for a reason and that our existence and history are headed toward a climax and that every good and bad thing that has happened will move us toward that purpose. I do not believe we are alone against a cold and uncaring universe. Lovecraft died alone in a universe that had no meaning. He believed he was doomed from birth, humanity was doomed, life on earth was doomed, the universe was doomed. He lived and died utterly without hope.

Can man survive if we collectively have such a mindset. He may have been an atheist, but he was an honest atheist who admitted the consequences of his beliefs. I believe it may have contributed to his marginal sanity. Even he viewed such knowledge as dangerous to sanity as he wrote in the introductory paragraph to one his greatest stories The Call of Cthulhu

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

He had a great mind, great imagination, and great ability. It is sad that he died without knowing true hope.

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies. John 11: 25

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mini Glaciers

I think someone has a few little problems on the coast of Lake Huron. There are mountains of ice sliding into homes on Saginaw Bay in Linwood Michigan. They are not simply layers of ice a couple of inches thick but mini-mountains of ice, some of them house sized.

Here is the story. The video is off to the side where it says related to story.

I'm sure there are those who will blame this on global warming even though more and more real scientists are having serious second thoughts about that political hoax that has been perpetrated on the entire world.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Home Sweet Home

A couple of things about Michigan today.

First off, I want to draw attention to a group that is encouraging the residents of the Great Lakes State to keep their money "in the Mitten". I suppose that at this point in time a total dedication to such an idea is impractical, but Michigan produces enough of its own goods that buying local from within the state, when possible, is not a bad idea. I have said before that in terms of natural resources (minerals, water, wood, etc), Michigan is probably the richest state east of the Mississippi and our economic condition is inexcusable. Michigan's potential for wealth is enormous.

If you're from Michigan visit the Made in Michigan Movement LLC, and if you're not from Michigan, go ahead and visit anyway.

Also I want to talk about Michigan cuisine. Yes we have our own cuisine, more or less. Once it was common only in the Upper Peninsula of our fair state it has spread to the Lower Peninsula as well and it's kind of a meat and vegetable pie that originally came from Wales and was a convenient food for miners and trappers. It's called the Pastie. Now there is some disagreement on how it is properly pronounced and you will find "experts" arguing on both sides. Some say it rhymes with tasty while others say it rhymes with nasty, while a few pronounce it Paw-sty. However you pronounce it, they are quite tasty.

I first tried one when I was 13 or so and visiting the UP for a vacation. Since then they have become available through most of the Lower Peninsula as well. They smell great cooking and really taste good.

They are traditionally made of mixed meats, but they can be made from Beef, Pork, or Chicken and more recently you have been able to get fish and vegetarian versions as well. Recently even breakfast versions have shown up (with the vegetables replaced with eggs and potatoes. Personally, being a chicken-lover, I am partial to the Chicken ones. What they amount to is a meat-pie that is held by hand. And they are GOOD!

Here is a workable recipe for them.

Update: According to spelling and rules of pronunciation it should logically rhyme with tasty but look at this Jeff Daniels movie made about 10 years ago and note how they pronounce it.

The movie is called Escanaba in da Moonlight and I have reservations about recommending it but it, like so many movies, has its moments. Jeff Daniels plays a luckless deer hunter in the UP who is now in his forties but has never bagged a buck, in spite of never missing a season since he was a boy and is trying to change his luck. I include the scene because it opens on a discussion of pasties.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Some Quotes

I must be getting lazy because I got this as an E-mail from my Aunt. I can't that say I disagree with too many of them. (Oops. My bad! My brother sent it to me.)

1. In my many years, I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.

-- John Adams

2. If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.

-- Mark Twain

3. Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself.

-- Mark Twain

4. I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.

-- Winston Churchill

5. A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.

-- George Bernard Shaw

6. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

-- G. Gordon Liddy

7. Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

-- James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

8. Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.

-- Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

9. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

-- P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

10. Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.

-- Frederic Bastiat, French Economist (1801-1850)

11. Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

-- Ronald Reagan (1986)

12. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.

-- Will Rogers

13. If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!

-- P.J. O'Rourke

14. In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.

-- Voltaire (1764)

15. Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!

-- Pericles (430 B.C.)

16. No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.

-- Mark Twain (1866)

17. Talk is cheap...except when Congress does it.

-- Anonymous

18. The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other.

-- Ronald Reagan

19. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery...

-- Winston Churchill

20. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.

-- Mark Twain

21. The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.

-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

22. There is no distinctly native American criminal class...save Congress.

-- Mark Twain

23. What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.

-- Edward Langley, Artist (1928-1995)

24. A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 02, 2009

Two Cartoons

On a further note, Patrick Joubert Conlon has one of the best home-brew graphics I have seen in the blogosphere.