Thumbnail…Literally

The IT manager at my company, who also just happens to be my brother, is testing out a new phone. It’s Samsung’s new Blackjack, offered through Cingular, our wireless provider. We’ve been using the Palm Treo 650s for better than two years now, which we’ve loved. This is about the same size, length and breadth, but about half as thin and half the weight. This was after trying a couple of different Pocket PC phones, from HP and Siemens, both of which sucked — the HP taking the prize for bad. The Treo has been great though, and with Good Technologies (which also works with the Blackjack) you get wireless, background, transparent synchronization of all email, contacts, calendar, tasks, and notes. That means: whatever I do in the Outlook client on my machine at the office, my machine at home, my machine at the cabin, my notebook, or my phone is automatically synchronized with every other machine. Couldn’t live without it. The screen resolution is fantastic. Good enough for video. It also has the thinned-down version of the MS mobile OS. This is good. Look: it’s not a damn PC; it’s a phone. It’s a communication device. I need good…

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Knowledge is the Original Sin

My brother just emailed me a quote from Sigmund Freud, of all people: “The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief.” It reminded me of this, one of my favorite passages in literature of all time. This is an excerpt from John Galt’s speech in the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, dealing with the foundational Christian doctrine of Original Sin. Damnation is the start of your morality, destruction is its purpose, means and end. Your code begins by damning man as evil, then demands that he practice a good which it defines as impossible for him to practice. It demands, as his first proof of virtue, that he accepts his own depravity without proof. It demands that he start, not with a standard of value, but with a standard of evil, which is himself, by means of which he is then to define the good: the good is that which he is not. It does not matter who then becomes the profiteer on his renounced glory and tormented soul, a mystic God with some incomprehensible design or any passer-by whose rotting sores are held as some inexplicable claim…

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The Nature of the Animal

There’s a wild predator of an animal loose in Atlanta, Georgia. He works for the Altlanta Police Department, which, for most Atlantans, is the entity most likely to cause them harm as they go about their daily business. That’s why the police are generally considered Public Enemy Number One in my book. Stop and think about it. You face a lot of various risks in your life, some just random natural occurrences, or chance, and some of them caused by purposeful acts of other people that end up harming you or even killing you. Think about it honestly. Depending on where you live, do you really have a greater fear of harm coming to you by some civilian thug, or a thug in uniform, SWAT gear, or tattered sport coat with badge and gun? For many, including myself, I argue the latter. While I’ve never had a run-in with a civilian thug, I’ve had plenty of interactions with cops, and never a single one as a result of me hurting anyone, or likely to hurt anyone. I harbor no illusions that they carry clubs and guns, and though I by no means think that all of them are predators, enough…

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This Coin-Toss World

Kim du Toit complains. …here’s a summary: handgun licenses, rifle licenses, shotgun licenses, ammo licenses, arsenal licenses, ending gun shows, gun bans, ammo bans, mandatory storage “inspections”, elimination of C&R and the CMP… oh good grief, I think I’m going to throw up now. I sympathize. I really do. But I’ve got to ask him: what did you expect, Kim? I mean: I haven’t counted the posts, or anything, but I’m sure it’s safe to say that you spent a lot of time and effort admonishing your readers to be cognizant and wary of such issues, and to go with your recommendations. But didn’t you accept the terms of the deal, Kim? I mean: aren’t you a We the People kind of guy? Now, of course, when We the People speak, and it happens to result in peaceful people being denied freedom of association by force, for example, you’ll expect the commies to get their panties in all kinds of bunches. Am I right? But aren’t’ you bigger than that, Kim? Can’t you take your defeats like a man? It’s you who’ve chosen to live your life by the coin-toss of the vote. I can understand your being happy when…

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Compassion

John Venlet uncovers a source and points out, that: …religious conservatives tend to be the individuals who dig deepest into their own pockets for charitable contributions, and that those who bang the drum most loudly for state wealth redistribution, appear to clutch their purse strings tighter than Scrooge… No surprise to me, though I would point out that religious conservatives of the born-again evangelical ilk make up for it by their highly presumptuous preaching, pestering, and proselytizing. That is, their offensive admonition that others must “be saved.” Yes, it’s so utterly ridiculous that I cannot help but point it out any time it comes up. But I digress. The thing reminds me of a guy posting to Usenet some years ago, when he asked: Is your desire to help people so great as to actually cause you to help them, or only so great as to force others to help them? That, right there, is a nutshell distinction between individualism and collectivism, and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s not directly relevant, but since I was going to blog it anyway, might as well make it part of this entry. Last night I took a trip down to the grocery store…

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Make Work

Well now; this is pretty funny. Hilarious even. I’ve seen most of their four seasons of episodes, but this one from season two on recycling got by me.

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Playing Games

Whenever my wife or my parents ask me what I would like as a gift for some occasion like Christmas or a birthday, my response is always the same: “You don’t have to get me anything, but if you do, surprise me.” In this regard, I love surprises, and most of them have been very pleasant and unexpected over the years. Yesterday, when my wife asked, I thought about it for a few seconds and replied: “an Xbox 360.” Yep; I want me an Xbox for Christmas, dammit. Good thing I asked before I read Karen’s scathing assessment, though I must confess that I’ve said or thought a lot of those same things about gaming — often about certain family members. But see, we recently had some work done on our cabin in the mountains, adding a bedroom, half bath, and an entertainment room — primarily to get the TV out of the living/dining room area where people are congregated when we have family over, especially at holidays and such. We’ve got a pretty large wide-screen HDTV, but no cable or dish; just a growing library of DVDs, of which, some of my favorites are WWII documentaries, video encyclopedias, and…

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Kathryn Johnston

I was getting ready to leave for the holiday on last Wednesday morning when I got wind of the story Tuesday night. No time to do it justice. Now, at this point, Radley Balko — whom I’ve often characterized as the world’s most important blogger — has done so much legwork that’s it’s pointless to do anything but provide you with a bunch of links to his entries. Essentially, a 92-year-old woman living in Atlanta, GA, had her house broken into in the middle of the night by several armed men. Though she got off five shots in her attempt to defend herself and her home from whatever terror she was able to surmise in a spit-second, and all five shots connected, the 90 to 100 shots fired by the intruders killed her. For more details, here’s a roundup. Radley’s initial entry. News link, with links to related stories and video. In particular, check out the video reaction of neighbors, which I note goes off quite differently than when police gun down some predatory thug who happens to be black and the race-baiters come flying out of the woodwork. Radley’s fist update. Still not a lot of specific details. Summation…

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Casino Royale

First, it should strike nobody as surprising that I’d blog about how I liked a Bond film. I pretty much like them all — some better than others — and can think of a whole lot of worse ways to spend a couple of hours. I believe the principal element that draws me to Bond films, as with other such films, is that I really like plots that take place in several exotic locations throughout a story. What would a Bond film be without at least two or three jaunts to some remote and exotic part of the planet? Mercifully, my dad and I were able to escape the house filled with way too many people and steal away for three hours to go see the first showing, just after noon. I must say that I liked Casino Royale easily as much as any Bond film I’ve ever seen. For my entertainment, Daniel Craig is the best Bond since Connery, and if he puts in such performances in subsequent films, he might even eclipse the great Sean. Not that I’ve done any great analysis, or thinking about it, but all attempts to duplicate the gentlemanly class of Connery have failed,…

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We’re all in this together…

As mentioned in the previous entry, I was on the road yesterday. As usual, lots of AM/FM channel surfing. After I got tired of the hype from the right, I found Air America and caught the end of Franken’s show. But he was on good behavior and actually giving Murtha a ration of shit. Then I found Pacifica, which is about as commie as you can get — although what I caught before it faded out was a history of habeas corpus and its abuses and I really couldn’t find much to complain about. Then I listened to NPR for a while. Amongst it all — and plenty of news stations in-between — the prevailing thing was the holiday air travel: how you need to baggie your personal hygienic products, how you need to be to the airport at least three hours ahead of time, how you have to be patient, and on and on. And then there are the sound-bites from those interviewed. Never do you get a real cross-section of what people really think, but you get the better-safe-than-sorry crowd and those who are just grateful to feel safe. I guess those whom the Transportation Shadenfreude Administration (TSA)…

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The General Mindlessness

On the road for a good part of yesterday — actually, for a couple of hours longer than I should have been — traveling from the Bay Area down to Oceanside, CA, just north of San Diego. I’m usually very lucky when I have to drive through the greater Los Angeles area, and I actually kind of enjoy it. Endless realms of civilization and human activity. Anyway, we took 101 down south and then cut onto the 405. Right at LAX, the 405 is closed. This is about 3pm in the afternoon, and it had been closed since morning. Know why? Some truck had a spill of some 55 gal. drums of hazardous material and of course, the ants were very busy assessing, donning stylish hazmat gear, keeping everyone clear, blocking onramps, talking on walkie-talkies and generally feeling and being important for all to see and come to no question in the matter. It was acetone and rubbing alcohol. Yea, your sis’ fingernail polish remover. Anyone got a match? I’d have dispatched the problem in under five minutes. Jesus. I’m loathing this can’t-do “American” couture more and more by the day.

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You Don’t Have to Be Hurting Anyone

There’s a YouTube torture video you have to see, if you can stand it. But first… A common but false belief is that if you haven’t done anything wrong, i.e., hurt anyone or on the verge, then you generally have nothing to worry about as far as the police go. Of course, that’s demonstrably false. If you’re speeding on a country road with nobody for miles around, you can still get a citation just like if you run a red light in full-on city congestion. Such examples are endless. It used to be — at leased it seemed — that such “misdemeanor” encounters with police were at least peaceful. But it seems to me that policing and prosecution have become ends in themselves. These attract the kind of people who want to police and prosecute, but have not the slightest regard or passion for serving the public good of protecting the innocent from aggression and endeavoring to get to the truth and see honest and objective justice done. Now, it increasingly seems as though the police are the predators to every extent they believe they can get away with. Bad guy, good guy, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that…

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Public Enemy Number One Report

The initial report is from back in August and I seem to have missed it at the time. A Baltimore SWAT team conducted a 4:30am raid on the Noel family home after finding marijuana seeds and “trace” amounts of cocaine in the family’s outdoor trash can. After battering down the door, they deployed a flashbang grenade, then rushed up the steps to the bedroom of Cheryl and Charles Noel. Cheryl Noel’s stepdaughter had been murdered several years earlier, and her son had recently been jumped by thugs on his way home. So the family had a legal, registered handgun in the home, and Noel had reason to be frightened. When a SWAT officer kicked open the bedroom door, Noel sat up in bed with the gun, apparently pointed downward, not at the officer. The officer, who was wearing a helmet, mask, shield, and bulletproof vest, and who came in behind a bulletproof ballistic shield, fired twice. Noel slumped over, and the gun slipped out of her hand. The officer then walked over to her and ordered her to move further away from the gun. She couldn’t, of course. When she didn’t, he shot her a third time, essentially from point-blank…

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School

Much of what issues forth as economic reporting often makes me laugh, particularly because of the way it’s portrayed by the economically illiterate media; and I just know that virtually nobody who thinks or says “oh, my,” has the slightest clue about it. Before I proceed, let me offer you a single and simple principle that has held for all time and will hold for all time as concerns trade: Trade only happens because both parties benefit. Now, that is all you need to know to understand that the term “trade deficit” is a non-concept having no real meaning or import. It exist merely as a political ploy for use by protectionists, which, of course, includes politicians on both sides of the isles, as well as many large corporations who wish to be protected from their betters across the sea. If you want to go further, Warren Meyer lays it all out for you.

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Trends, Connections and Implications

Despite my regular trashing of religion in general (and fundamentalism in particular) on these pages, I’ve long held that things are getting better in this regard, at large. And to contrast that with the advance of collectivism, there is at least some cause for celebration of the fact that strong religious belief is on the wane for most people. While some might argue that the advance of statism is related to such a decline in fervent or dogmatic religious belief, I would counter that you don’t ultimately do good by promoting (convenient) falsehoods. And besides, giving up God in favor of “The Great Society” should probably be seen as a natural progression. It is the exchange of one false authority for another, but there’s a bright side. At least the State is real, and as such, cannot issue divine revelation to high priests, while at the same time, is not generally impervious to rational argument (though it might often seem so). Some weeks back, I got an email from several sources touting the number of Jewish Nobel Prize laureates vs. those awarded to Muslims. It should be noted that of the nine “Muslims” (as compared to 178 Jews), one of…

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Your Papers, Please

So, an “atypical” Texas town decides that it will henceforth prevent, by force, the peaceful association of some people with others, because some people don’t possess the right papers — and no doubt because they also have brown skin. Never forget, folks, that beyond all the euphemisms like “illegal,” we’re talking about peaceful people getting together with other peaceful people in some sort of transaction or exchange that is taking place because both parties believe that it will be mutually beneficial to them. It is, of course, nobody else’s business. What we’re really talking about is this most peaceful form of humanity (the trade of values to mutual benefit) being forcibly halted by legally-sanctioned violence, i.e., citations, warrants, arrests, investigations, seizures, guns-blazing raids, trials, and jail time. It’s all hunky-dory with guys like Kim du Toit and his choirboys in the comments section. Utterly disgusting.

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Another Day in the “Land of the Free”

It’s no laughing matter, of course, but I’m increasingly just getting to that point. If I reflect, I suppose I’m really laughing at you. I’m just waiting for the next person to start talking to my face about “freedom.” What a laugh.

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Where in the world?

I’m right here, at the moment. It should be in the center of the map: Arnold, CA. Feel free to zoom in, out and pan around. Hey, they even have a page at Wikipedia. We’re at about the perfect elevation of 4,500 feet, and the population is about the same number. I can’t even relate to you how much I love it up here. We’re planning to do a whole two weeks for the Christmas and New Year holiday, and I can’t wait — especially now that I have DSL and am having a desk delivered tomorrow so I can turn the loft area into an office. A couple of previous entries on the place, here and here. And my Christmas roundup from last year.

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