Scale Model Muscle Cars

Happy as I am to see the Camero back in production, I have to admit that I have a hard time taking these new 'muscle' cars seriously. Every time I encounter the 'new' Mustang in it's many variants, I inevitably think "ah, a Mach II 2/3 scale model" or "there's a 67 fastback 2/3 replica". The Camero is just the latest in the miniature muscle car craze. The PT Cruiser really started the ball rolling, being a scaled down tribute to the 'chopped coupe' that Hollywood has made famous in various period films over the years.

Nostalgia for the bygone years is great (...a gleaming Red Barchetta from a better, vanished time...) but how about we get away from re-living the past and actually see something new on the market; like a fully electric car that actually goes the distance, or some other alternative fuel vehicle that can really be relied upon, rather than another trip down memory lane that simply keeps us all stuck relying upon 'fossil fuels' that get more expensive with each passing year?

Or maybe I'm the one who's dreaming...


Another screen cap worth sharing. This one is not too clear, though. No matter how many times I tried to get a clear image, I just couldn't pull it off. ( I need a better capture card, obviously) Never fear, there are others out there with access to better equipment (or they just took pictures of the actual props, who knows) Anyway, if you click on over to "The Tail Section" they have a diagram and an enhanced image that get into most of the details of the map. There are also a lot of places on the site that deal with spoilers and potential spoilers. This constitutes fair warning, once again.

I remember the promo for this episode, "Lockdown" saying 5 things would be revealed. I only counted 3. Obviously what is being revealed isn't of clear importance... yet.

One of the best episodes so far this season.


Went out and caught V for Vendetta over the weekend. I had to wait (on pins and needles) for the rest of the crew that I've seen the other Wachowski bros films with to find some free time (children and anniversaries. I mean, let's get our priorities straight. This is film after all) it seemed only fitting to experience it for the first time with same group that I watched The Matrix with for the first time.

[On the subject of "the Matrix" trilogy, I find I'm the odd man out. Unlike most of the people I've spoken with, I actually liked all three of the films. To me, they were consistent story-wise, if not consistent action-wise. The philosophical inquiries into the meaning of life and what real is were enough to keep me interested even when the action sequences failed to move others. In hindsight, even "the Matrix" can't live up to the mythos of "the Matrix"; much less survive criticism as a sequel to the film. I can't rewatch it like I would like to. So many of the action sequences have been lifted and used in other action movies, that I find myself remembering where I've seen that bit since the movie was made, rather than enjoying the film for itself.]

I followed my usual pattern with this film. Once I had determined I was going to go see it, I avoided all reviews, trailers and websites concerning the film until I had seen it. I'm glad I did. If I had known what it was being criticized for, I would have been looking for those points in the film while watching it the first time, and that would have colored my initial impression. As it was, I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

(Those of you who think like I do, and haven't seen the film, stop reading now or forever hold your piece!)

For those critics who seem to get hung up on the 'promoting terrorism' aspect of the film, I was immediately reminded of the Franklin quote from 1776:
A rebellion is always legal in the first person, such as "our rebellion." It is only in the third person - "their rebellion" - that it becomes illegal.
In this instance, the dictatorship/regime that currently holds power (in the film) has labeled V a terrorist, but it doesn't follow that he considers himself a terrorist. They are afraid of him, and that's the way it should be, he is rebelling against their tyranny.

We see the world of V for Vendetta largely through the eyes of Evey (Natalie Portman) and it is a scary place to live. She unwisely goes out after curfew one night, and is only saved from a fate worse than death by the unheralded appearance of a masked man who calls himself 'V'. As the story unfolds we discover the all too familiar trappings of a police state and it's charismatic leader Adam Sutler (John Hurt) who is always shown in the light, while very clearly being the 'dark' character; whereas 'V' (excellently voiced by Hugo Weaving) is always in the dark, never shows his face, and yet is clearly our hero. We follow Evey through the mental tug of war that she is subjected to, as the world she thought she understood is revealed as something else entirely; growing and changing in our understanding of her world as she also begins to understand it.

There is a real temptation to draw too close a parallel to current events when watching this film. If you really want to enjoy it, I suggest that you take a word of advice from the film:
"Artists use lies to tell the truth; Politicians use lies to cover it up"
Just watch the film. Save the "what does it all mean" questions for after the credits roll.

Auto Exorcism

Driving the kids to school this morning, the car stalled out as I went to make a turn. Didn't realize it until I looked down at the dash and noticed the warning lights were lit. I also noticed that the odometer read 66.6, the Trip Meter of the Beast.

I wonder if having the car exorcised would be cheaper than having it serviced and repaired? Well, actually the question is, would an exorcism performed on a car actually make it run better? I know a service call will. And, of course, on an entirely different level, will the exorcism save it's immortal soul and get it into car heaven one day?

These are the questions one asks when operating on 2 hours of sleep and 3 cups of coffee. I think I need more coffee...

Important stuff

Spent the last two weeks in the final stages of getting a long-time friend moved out of her townhome and into assisted living. Well actually, I moved her stuff (as the master, George Carlin, refers to it) not the essential stuff, but the general stuff that anyone collects over the course of life. Stuff that you think you want when you buy it, but end up having no place for when it comes right down to it, because of all the other stuff you already have. Stuff that people give to you, or that you inherit, and you just can't bring yourself to part with; because, well, it's sort of their stuff too, right?

The final stage of the move has taken two weeks, the entire process has drug on for several months (I can't even remember when it started, myself) and over the time I've spent sorting, organizing, packing and selling, I've come to realize one very important thing. Stuff accumulates in your life that really isn't important stuff, but it takes the place of other stuff that is important. And that is bad stuff. So, I'm going to start getting rid of my own bad stuff now, and save someone else the trouble later.

I'm going through every item in my house and apply my old measuring stick to it. If there's any doubt about the immediate usefulness of stuff (as in, I wouldn't want to carry this stuff across a thousand miles of desert) then out it goes. If you don't do this every now and then, the bad stuff will just bury you alive, apparently. And that's not a pretty way to go, buried alive in a pile of stuff that you didn't really need but can't get out from under.

Misrepresenting money?

Checked the e-mail the other day and noticed that I had gotten a notice of another column from Tibor Machan over at the Atlasphere taking exeption to the nominations for the ten best movies concerning money His conclusion that money was at best misrepresented in the films left me thinking that Americans (and people in general, including Hollywood directors) need to first understand money before we can represent it properly in film.

I filed the link away on the off-chance I had time to write a blog entry on the subject. Then this column (also at the Atlasphere) showed up in my inbox. Larry Elder is another of the column writers that I usually enjoy reading, but not this time. Here he's off on a rampage trying to discredit the viewpoint that the economy is in trouble. A misguided effort at best.

Given that the US is an economic powerhouse; given the economy (somehow) continues to grow. But, gasoline is on the rise, and will probably hit record highs before the summer even gets into full swing. Businesses have been able to absorb the higher transportation costs so far, but I doubt they'll be able to do so through a second summer.

The problem is that a certain amount of growth is required to keep the US economy afloat. We have spent ourselves into a very large hole in the ground; it would be all too easy to get buried if business doesn't continue in a 'normal' growth curve. What backs the dollar is, "The full faith and credit of the US"; which means it is entirely based on the American people's willingness to absorb the debt, and to go into debt themselves doing it. What happens when the debt becomes too large to bear? Does anyone out there think that this can't happen?

That Mr. Elder doesn't point this out while he's busy defending the economy that we are currently in (which is lackluster compared to growth in previous generations) just goes to show what I mean when I say we have to first understand money. Without a strong dollar, a 'growing' economy could well be a meaningless side effect of the plentiful, worthless paper money that keeps floating around.

Coincidence Conspiracy

Checked the (e)mail today (is there any other kind? That counts, anyway) and discovered that the Lincoln-Kennedy mail chain had reached my inbox again. This makes the forth or fifth time I've seen this particular bit of fluff since I got on the 'net back in the 90's. If you've never seen it, wander over to Snopes and check out the layman's idea of a weighty conspiracy.

We'll just dispense with the possibilities concerning the more recent events that could be construed as conspiratorial, or the historical evidence that backs up the possibility that these sorts of conspiracies can occur, and just get right down to it, eh?

Lincoln can be said to have been assassinated by Boothe, because eyewitnesses place him in the private booth with Lincoln when the fatal shot was fired. Many people erroneously believe that he acted alone, but the truth is that this was a part of a plot to remove several members of the union gov't, down to a leader that was deemed to be sympathetic to the Southern cause. None of the others were successful in their attempts, so the wider conspiracy remains unknown to the average American.

After watching "Unsolved History: JFK - Beyond the Magic Bullet" (and reading some of the sites I've stumbled across today just trying to track down a link to the show) I might be willing to grudge the observation 'Kennedy was assassinated by Oswald' but it's far from being a universally accepted 'fact'.

In both cases it's quite possible that the assassinations were aided by people high up in the administrations themselves (Robert Kennedy long thought that his brother's assassin was a shooter trained in a program that he was running in another attempt to get rid of Castro) for reasons that have never been admitted to; reasons that are obvious to anyone who digs into the facts of what the president's planned before they were killed, and what transpired after they were assassinated.

I'm left wondering whether the last link in the e-mail chain really wanted to start me off on a conspiracy rant, or was it just the Marilyn Monroe bit at the end that motivated yet another person to hit 'send'? Something else we may just never know...

Limbaugh Lies - Why did Kerry Loose?

Listening to Rush on Thursday (I needed my blood pressure elevated. Nothing is better at that than a few hours of ol' Joey) he goes on for most of the show in a cheap imitation of the Wendy's commercial (Where's the beef?!) wanting to know why "...if so many people are unhappy with Bush and the war, then why didn't Kerry win?"

Back during the election, I went on, for several months, concerning John Kerry and his love affair with 'W's stance on just about everything. Went on about how I was hard pressed to tell the difference between the two...

[Anthony Gregory's piece "Socialist Hawk vs. Warmongering Commie" pretty much summed it up for me. I also engaged in a series of bumper sticker ideas at the time "Vote for John Kerry, the guy you can feel lukewarm about!" "Vote for John Kerry, the guy you haven't learned to hate yet!*"(*current constituents excluded) and to be fair... "Vote for George Bush, John Kerry has shifty Ayes!" I didn't win many friends in either 'camp' with any of those. I thought they were pretty good, though.]

...I had Yellow Dogs dropping out of the woodwork all over the place trying to tell me how wrong I was. And yet none of them could cite any significant difference between the stated positions of the 'major party' candidates.

Kerry didn't win because Kerry was never intended to win. What does that mean? The national Democrats threw themselves on a grenade for 'W's war policy, and nominated a candidate that would not make the war a political issue, plain and simple. The leadership went out of their way to discredit Howard Dean (who was at least a Democrat) and threw the primaries to the only candidate sure to loose to the sitting president, John Kerry; thereby giving 'W' another four years to clean up his war mess.

So, to answer Mr. Limbaugh; if the war is so unpopular, why isn't John Kerry president? Because John Kerry was not opposed to the war, as he stated on numerous occasions. No candidate who was covered by the mainstream media (I know, I kept track of news stories at the time) spoke out against the war, thereby making the Iraq war an issue outside of the political process for all intents and purposes. For Limbaugh to just 'forget' this fact is absurd. This is just another example of ol' Joey spinning the propaganda, one more time.

Star Trek: the Academy Years

Somebody has resurrected Harve Bennett's old script for Star Trek: the Academy Years over at Ain't it Cool News; it seems the guy is really interested in the story. I hate to break it to him, but any story placing the original series crew together in Star Fleet Academy just couldn't be considered canon; that's not the way that the series developed originally.

[Not that this would be unprecedented. Of the entire four year run of Enterprise, only two episodes could be considered canon. That would be the "In a Mirror Darkly" two parter. Spock was established to be the first Vulcan in Star Fleet in one of the first Star Trek episodes. There is no way that T'Pol could be an officer on a Starfleet vessel in the normal Star Trek universe. In the "Mirror, Mirror" universe, however...]

I don't understand this need to mess with cherished memories. Why does Hollywood have to re-invent every show that was 'successful' before? Do we really need to make a 'Star Trek Babies' movie? Cast someone else in the roles of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others?

I didn't need to see Scooby Doo as a live action film. I didn't need to see King Kong without the stop motion animation. I didn't need to see The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, etc. on the big screen (in fact, I didn't) do we really have to go there with Classic Trek? Watch someone else play James T. Kirk? Someone other than Nimoy wear Spock's ears? I won't be paying for that, myself.

If they just have to do a Star Trek: the Academy Years do it without including the classic characters, or you can count on this classic Trek fan sitting this film out.

Image viewing and editing

One of the tech sites I frequent was asking "what editing software do you use?" I don't have a video editor that I like (I've just gotten into fabricating my own PVR and I haven't settled on an operating system yet, much less a video editor I like) but I definitely have an opinion on image viewing and editing...

Image Viewing: IRFanView

I hated this program when I first started using it. The sys-admin at one of my previous employers had loaded it as the default image viewer, and I could not understand why. After several years of fiddling with other programs, I can now tell you why.

Quick loading, and I mean FAST. Photoshop, JASC, etc, all take 10 minutes to load (or it feels like it) with IRfanview you double click and your image is right there.

Editing tools are very basic (which is why I hated the program initially) but they are more than sufficient to handle the average users requirements. Image scaling, lightening and darkening of the image, etc. If you want to major editing, get program made for editing. If you want to view images and do basic manipulation, IRfanview is the program for you.

Image editing: Gimp it

When I need to manipulate files, I pull out 'The Gimp'.

Why would you pay for Photoshop when this program does everything Photoshop does, and does it for less? Someone else posted this on the same thread, which sums it up for me:

I think that when you struggle for software in a particular area you should always start with free unless you are compelled. That way you can learn the technologies. the techniques, the strengths and the weaknesses. If the free software does what you need, then great! If it doesn't, you'll be able to look at the commercial offerings with specific questions and specific needs. This improves your chances of finding what you need on the first try without buying a lot of unnecessary software.

When I finally start taking the PVR seriously I might have a video editor to recommend. And I'll be doing that right after I finish remodeling the house.

Drug Education

'Drug education' doesn't work because, as Americans, we believe that drugs are the answer to problems.

We give drugs to our children to correct behavioral issues that should be corrected by changing their environment.

We take drugs ourselves for similar reasons, including the illegal ones.

"Man, I need a drink."
"I could really use a cigarette."
"I can't function without my morning coffee."
"Got an aspirin, this place is giving me a headache."


Driving While Vertiginous. Which is something I try to avoid.

I hate talking about the Menieres, but it bears mentioning once again (for record keeping purposes, at least) because today I realized that I'm unable to make left turns in heavy traffic. The necessity to move the head back and forth to check both directions of traffic always sets up a momentary disorientation; requiring that I hesitate just long enough for my head to clear that I tend to loose my chance to turn. I've gotten used to making 4 rights where possible, just to avoid a left turn. I noticed today (I had to get out and deliver things for a friend) that I have certain places I can comfortably get to, and certain routes that I will take. But if it requires long periods on the freeway (most times even getting on the freeway) lane changes, or left turns in high traffic, I probably either won't go or will get someone else to drive. It's too dangerous, in my opinion.

As someone who once drove 8 hours a day, 5 days a week testing tires (in any weather) for a living, I find it quite weird to not be willing to get in the car and drive...

(minor vertigo, major headaches all this week. I blame the allergies)

Conventions & Primaries

So I'm sitting watching one of my regular shows last Tuesday (Boston Legal) and the local affiliate (that would be KVUE) sees fit to PiP my show so that they can alert me to the all important primary results that are coming in.

I'm sure if I was a member of one of the state supported parties (Republicans and Democrats) then I would be just thrilled to see the names of my FAVORITE candidate plastered on the same screen as a popular television show (the sum total of time on screen constituting their 15 minutes of fame, most likely) but as a 10 year member of the Libertarian Party, all I could do was put up with an interruption of what I feel was most important that evening, my entertainment.

It would have been more that sufficient to report the results during the news; which is probably more notice than was given to the LP today, the day that we hold or precinct conventions. Technically that's OK, because not much happens on the first day. Saturday will be the County conventions, where the candidates for county office will be selected. Surely there is a news story there?

March the 25th will be the precinct conventions, where we select the candidates that will make or break (and in a few races, possibly even beat) the races that the 'major party candidates' already have gotten air time for. Can I count on a story on that date?

If they are going to interrupt my programs to give me breathless blow by blow accounts of the primary races (paid for with my tax dollars, no less. You'd think that was bad enough) could I at least get a news story about those weird Libertarians and their strange fixation for paying for their own party functions?

I support Michael Badnarik

I just wish I could vote for Michael Badnarik. Mr. Badnarik is running for congress this year, in district 10. As far as I know I'll still be in district 25 come this election, unless the SCOTUS changes everything. Not holding my breath here.

District 10 used to be 'my' district, before Tom Delay and his Republican buddies gerrymandered Austin into three different districts in an attempt to get rid of the Democrat congressional representative Lloyd Doggett, who inherited the seat from JJ 'Jake' Pickle when he retired and appointed Doggett to replace him (and here I thought we had some choice in this...) after all the dust had settled, I ended up with Doggett again anyway, just a different district number. Which is too bad. I've never voted for him, and when I've had the misfortune to communicate with him, I get one of those replies that completely misses my concerns that I mentioned previously.

As I said, despite Delay's best efforts (and possibly at the cost of his own seat in congress) Doggett got re-elected the last go round, and Texas wound up with one of the worst excuses for a district map that I can ever remember seeing. I'd love to hear how the Republicans spin the defense of this. As if Austin has any similarities with the areas around the Mexican border that are currently part of district 25. What I'd really like is for the SCOTUS to get a shakabuku, then they might actually go for the computer redistricting that a fellow libertarian and constitutionalist proposed several years back when this whole mess started. Not holding my breath on that either.

Back to Mike. I like Mike (I wanted a button that said that when he ran for President. Too cool) He introduced me to ALD. I wish I knew him better, but I know him well enough that I would trust him with the job of representing Austin (and a good portion of the rest of the state) in Washington. If you want to know Mike (or Mr. Badnarik for the more formally minded) better, just pick up a copy of his book Good to be King and give it a read. If you are at all like me you'll probably agree that he would be a step in the right direction representationally for Austin. (Round Rock Georgetown, Jollyville, Brenham, etc. as well. Don't get me started on districts again) Come on by the precinct and county conventions next week, and confirm him as a nominee.

Myself, I need to drop by his offices, which are right down the street. Somebody from his staff has been calling and e-mailing every week. Seems they need some volunteers. They always do. Plenty of people willing to spout off verbally on political issues, not so many willing to get down in the trenches and do the work...

The Social Security "Trust Fund"

Another thread deleted by the fine folks moderating the local AM station's forums. Sometimes I wonder what the point of maintaining a forum there is.

Luckily I archive the major posts that I contribute. Like this one:

There is no 'investment' when it comes to government trust funds. T-bills or other gov't instruments amount to taking the money out of one pocket and putting it in another. It still gets spent like any other money. There is no interest earned on money kept in SS accounts, anyway. Study your annual report from SS if you don't believe me.

[That trust fund for the Iraqi oil is no different, BTW. Just money in the government coffers. Iraq will always have to come begging to the US gov't from this point onward. That'll make 'em happy, right? Don't ya'll listen to Timpone?]

The promise to pay is irrelevant, because the gov't can just:
  1. Print more money. They do it all the time. Create more debt, generate the t-bills that represent the debt, multiply the dollar figures on the T-bills x9 and viola, more money to dilute the money already in circulation.
    This is a simplified version of how inflation occurs, and why a dollar is in fact 'worthless' (it represents no real value) The problem is, the Fed has already diluted the purchasing power of the dollar to such an extent that further dilution of the scale required to keep SS afloat might destabilise the dollar. therefore:
  2. Write new laws that change the SS' 'contract'; arranging it so that you never were entitled to the money in the first place, so you aren't being denied anything you are due. They have done this several times already, and I daresay we haven't seen the last of it yet. Look to see the drug benefits altered in the near future.
The only solution is to remove responsibility for retirement welfare from the gov't altogether. I'm not certain what shape the 'new' retirement system should take. It'll have to include those who are currently drawing on the system as well as those who have paid in and expect to draw in the future, or it won't be acceptable to enough people that it stands a chance of passage. Individual contributions should be kept in accounts accessible and controlled by the individual himself. There should be an additional 'insurance' feature that would cover expenses beyond the contributions of the individual.

Perhaps a 'general welfare' type health/retirement/disability all in one account is what is needed.

All I know is that it's past time to fix the problem. The complete crash of the American financial system (what they really mean when they talk about SS 'failing') isn't far off. 30 years at most.

Violence on Screen or that Crying Baby Behind You?

So the talking heads on the morning show brought this New Mexico story up. I didn't hear it, I've gotten in the habit of not listening to the local AM talk station in the morning (well, until after 2, actually) The talking heads (local and syndicated) have become increasingly disconnected from reality.

I'm reasonably certain (knowing the on air personalities involved) that the facts of the story got left in the dust fairly early on, and the on air conversation probably revolved around teens and the 'R' rated movies that they "Shouldn't be allowed to watch".

The fact remains that the theater in question excluded a young couple from bringing a baby into the movie, and does routinely exclude all children under the age of 6 from 'R' rated films at night. I'm certain that the majority of the clientèle thanks them for this, too.

...but not because of their "concern for the children" as these poor misguided souls are:

Yay!! Wish they would do that all over, especially here! IMO no children should be permitted admittance to any rated R movie period! I am sick and tired of going to an R rated movie and dealing with kids of all ages. Forget the yip yap, giggling and the up and down, it is just disgusting and pathetic that their are "parents" that would expose their children to certain movies. And people wonder why kids are now so desensitized and screwed up.
...All of which amounts to junk science and unsupported theory, and not much else. They've never proved positive linkage between viewing violence on screen and exhibiting violence as a person. My children both played 'first person shooters' while sitting on my knee in front of the computer. Neither of them shows any inclination towards taking a gun out and shooting people.

Parenting is the missing link. Most people, Sgt. Sam most prominently, don't know anything about parenting. (Ask Sam's wife if you don't believe me. I doubt he ever changed a diaper. Typical mother/father relationship of his generation? Mother says "Wait till your father gets home!" as a last ditch effort to maintain control) It hasn't got anything to do with control, and everything to do with setting limits, interpreting experience (what 'education' really should mean) and guiding the child to the right behavior. If you have a teenager that doesn't already know the basics (like, "it's not OK to shoot people") it's already too late.

If I want to take my children to an R rated film, that would be my business. I'm sure that the other theaters in the area are glad of the business turned away from "Movies 8".

OTOH, if I want to enjoy a film without distractions, it's good to know a theater that enforces rules concerning them, whether the problem is talking teenagers or crying babies. Too many theaters won't do anything about it.

Alamo Drafthouse and the Galaxy are both pretty good about it.

You children must have gotten a lot of love. Unfortunately, many children do not get the emotional reinforcement they need.
As far as the "positive" linkage goes, the TRUTH is that science doesn't yet understand consciousness, therefore, to say that there is no definitive linkage between violent media content and violent behavior is incorrect.
I do agree with a movie theater policy that bans young children after a certain time. I wish more people realized that media saturation is not a positive force on a child's psychological development.

Which backs up the "junk science and unsupported theory" statement. I put very little credit into current thought on addiction as well. People will say "I'm addicted to X" just to absolve themselves of responsibility for X behavior. Granted brainwave patterns change, I'll point right back to your statement concerning consciousness. The linkage is based on theory and junk science.

There is more proof that evolution exists than there is for violence in media having the broad detrimental effects that it's being blamed for. Or that addiction is the bane that it's being portrayed as. It's rejected there and supported here. I just love unsupported emotional arguments.

OTOH, theaters are free to conduct business however they wish, or they should be. The unattended children will just go somewhere else, do something else, if the theaters are closed to them. Is that really where ya'll want this to go?

When I talk about addiction, I'm talking about the chemical "habits" that establish cognitive circuits. Ever wonder why people can be addicted to gambling, or sex, video games or consumer spending while no "drug" is being used? What we casually call "addiction" is actually a process by which our neurons form behavior circuits. In other words, addiction helps the brain form behavior habits. This is why so much in our society can be "addictive". Our brains supply "reward" chemicals to correlate chemical experiences. Its these chemicals and how they define consciousness that science doesn't understand. Science does know more about consciousness than you average conscious or semi-conscious American. Let's face it, people are just chemical robots anyway...
What you are talking about isn't addiction. The junk science types have lumped it in with addiction because it gets more play there.

Work for a few years on a several pack a day cigarette 'habit' and then try and quit. You'll see what a real chemical addiction is like. For that matter, try eliminating caffeine from your diet for a few days (even more dramatic and doesn't require forming new 'habits') when the lethargy kicks in and the headaches start, remember what it was like to do without that console game for a few days. Pales in comparison, doesn't it? That's because it's not really a chemical addiction.

And let's correlate this properly. You're argument proposes that people can become habituated to doing violence themselves because they watch it on TV. I've watched Looney Toones all my life and I've never once been even tempted to drop an anvil on someones head. The argument is fallacious. It's only because it's 'for the children' that it continues to play.

I submit that 'for the children' we should open theaters to teenagers who are wandering the streets bored looking for trouble. Play whatever movies that will keep their butts in seats and let them watch all night for free (I can hear theater owners heads exploding as I type this) At least they aren't out experimenting with drugs or joining gangs or whatever else they could be out doing while we are 'protecting them' from the violence on the screen...

None of this is what the original article was about anyway. The children that the theater is excluding are under 6. They are trying to cut down on 'crying baby' issues, not protect the children from becoming habituated to violence.


A precinct chair without a polling place

Actually I have one, but it's over a mile away now. It was across the street. I could walk there with my coffee mug, vote and be back home inside of 10 minutes, generally. The longest I ever had to wait was less than ten minutes.

In the most recent elections (not the primaries; Libertarians don't have primaries, we vote in conventions on our own nickel instead of spending taxpayer money with a primary) I walked over to the usual polling place only to discover that the county had changed it without bothering to tell me. Now I have to get in my car and drive (it's farther than I can comfortably walk) find an effing parking place (Not easy. The schools also serve as polls, and as government agencies are exempted from meeting parking requirements imposed by the city; so they generally don't provide any. Don't get me started) and then wait in line (last time for more than an hour) in order to cast a vote.

I'm left wondering if this is acceptable to the Travis county clerk's office because my neighborhood is predominantly populated with 'minorities', or because as a Libertarian I have posted signs in my yard several months in advance, anticipating an election.

So I called the Secretary of State's office today to ask. They directed me to the County Clerk's office (which is how I know who is responsible here) I called the county clerk's office. I was transferred 4 times before they were certain I was speaking to the right person. I voiced my complaints (see above. Most egregious is the need to get in my car and lack of my own coffee at the new precinct) I was assured that someone will get back to me and address my complaints. That would be a first. Everytime I write a letter to my congressman I get a letter in return that completely misses my complaints. Addressing them would be nice.

9-11; Who were the terrorists again?

Right after the attacks on the world trade center we started to here rumors that perhaps Bush knew of the attacks in advance, or that he orchestrated the attacks. I posted something to the effect that

"if the powers that be are capable of orchestrating an attack of this size against their own people, then we might as well concede defeat in the battle for liberty; people who are capable of that won't stop at anything to achieve complete domination"
I ran across a link to a film in the comments over at Hammer of Truth that makes me wonder if perhaps it's time to give up political efforts and focus on entertainment for my pastimes. At least I won't get 'disappeared' that way.

The film is Loose Change which is available for viewing right on the web here. I have questioned the logistics of the attack on the Pentagon for some time. But I've never heard a logical argument that disproved the official version of events for the world trade center attacks. Until now. Still would like to know "where are the people from the planes?" It's too bad they've destroyed all the evidence for the 9-11 sites. We might be able to prove the hypothesis one way or the other if they hadn't.

I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  If you didn't come here from this post, you probably should go check that one out before drawing any conclusions.

The socialist left in disguise

That's what Zfacts is. Luckily it's a pretty thin disguise. If you wander through the pages you'll discover, quite quickly, that they don't seem to have any facts concerning Democrat funding or left thought. Reams of information on Republicans and that most elusive of creatures, the 'Neocon'.

Most damning is the views on Social Security. I'm no fan of Bush's plan to 'privatize' Social Security; but that doesn't mean that SS doesn't need fixing, or isn't a ponzi scheme in it's last phase before collapse (and it will, as soon as the baby boomers start collecting their checks) If you read the pages on SS at Zfacts, everything is fine and Bush is trying to rob the trust fund. Glad to hear it. I'll be making withdrawals from that 'trust fund' in the near future, I wouldn't want to think that there's going to be any problems getting 'my money' (and it is mine, at least until we get to the other end of the 40 thousand they've withheld over the years) from the lovable cuddly federal gov't and it's 'oh so friendly' bureaucrats.

Doesn't change the fact that Social Security is a socialist program; the definition of which is a 'gov't managed business'. Or the fact that 40 thousand set aside by me personally would have grown to about half a million in the time the gov't has held it.

So much for Stoft's claim to not have a 'bias'.

Coffee drinking

Back when I first started working in an office I was a hard core tea drinker. Tea and nothing but tea. I used to mock the coffee drinkers (while waiting for the water to boil) with an outsiders description of their weird habits.

"Imagine what the first guy who made coffee was thinking: I'm going to pull these berries off this bush here and leave them laying in the sun. Then I'm going to burn them in the fire. Then I'm going to grind them up and run hot water through the grounds. After that, I'll throw the grounds away and drink the water. Does any of this make sense?"Someone finally responded, "about as much sense as running water through leaves and drinking it." Got me to thinking. Most offices are coffee-centric; coffee is kept hot and ready to drink pretty much all day long. If you want to drink anything else, you pretty much have to "do it yourself". Eventually (after about 10 years) I got tired of 'doing it myself' and started drinking coffee.

One of the things that struck me, right off, is that most people's coffee is actually more like battery acid. Pre-ground coffee is the worst. If it's been ground for more than a few hours, the flavor of the coffee that you will get has already changed. If it's been ground, canned and shipped, there is no way to get a cup of coffee that isn't bitter. Just can't happen. You have to start with whole beans, there is no other way. I don't know how many times I've wandered into a convenience store and marveled at how many brave people there must be out there, to actually drink anything that looks and smells like that. Which brings me to...

Secondly, the equipment has to be clean. No one in any office that I've worked in for the last 20 years has ever cleaned the coffee maker. This leads to the coffee being even more bitter than it would have been originally. Every few days at least, swirl a little water around in the carafe (which has to be glass, by the way) and rinse out the basket. Or perhaps even throw caution to the wind and actually wash them with soap and water. Your stomach will thank you for it.

Get an electric grinder. Experiment with different grinds to see what you like (I grind the coffee fine, myself) Only grind the coffee when you are ready to make it. Make sure the coffee maker is clean. And get some decent coffee beans to start with. I recommend Capulin. Hands down the finest cup of coffee I've ever had. There's a whole host of reasons why you might want to buy your coffee there, other than the fact that it's the best. But that's a good enough reason for me.

Why is Capulin 'the best'? Because I've never had a bitter cup of coffee from Capulin beans. Even when I've had to re-heat a cup. I take my coffee black (tea the same way) so I'm conscious of what the flavor is. There is a natural (what is called in wine tasting circles) 'fruity' or 'earthy' flavor to the coffee; a flavor that is missing from coffee available at the local markets. I've tried the ever-present Starbucks, mail ordered Gevalia, and run through all the commercially available brands from the local markets over the years. Only Gevalia comes close in flavor. Visit the site and read up on Capulin. Tell Daniel I sent you.

Now sit back and relax for a few minutes. Life is stressful enough without taking the time to enjoy a good cup of coffee.

Now that I'm no longer in a coffee-centric office 12-plus hours a day, I'm back to drinking tea.  I drank coffee at home for a few years, but I began to notice an inability to sleep when I drank coffee at all during the day.  Now I either have one cup in the morning as I'm driving the boy to school, or I get no coffee at all.  Which means I've had to say goodbye to good coffee I prepare myself (can't afford that temptation, sorry Capulin!) If I have time, the Wafflehouse has hands down the best coffee on the face of the planet. If I don't I drink the battery acid you can get through any drive through window in the US.

I'm a purist when it comes to tea, too (no one is surprised, I'm sure) Russian tea you drink hot with jelly (another time when reading SF paid off. Thank you Niven & Pournelle for penning Mote)  English tea, hot with milk or lemon and honey.  Green tea is good too, just hand it to me straight.  Iced tea is definitely not Southern Style in this household.  No sugar added, not even during the boiling stage. Almost an aggravation beyond bearing to have to insist on UNSWEETENED tea in order to get my tea unadulterated. But that is life in the South of the US.

What War

This was one of the speeches I wrote for Politimasters.

Some say that war is a necessary evil. Others say that antiwar is the ultimate good. I propose that choosing between a war & antiwar stance is like choosing between Republicans and Democrats; it's an example of a false dichotomy. There are other choices that can, and should, be made.

Necessary evil is a contradiction in terms (otherwise known as an 'oxymoron') it is an impossibility for something to be both necessary, ergo good, and evil, ergo bad. (I see your hand up back there, I'll bet you think you've got an example to prove me wrong. I would suggest that you check your precepts, there is a logical flaw in your argument somewhere.)

War is a many faceted concept. One of its facets, the right to defend oneself against aggression, is necessary. It is only through the ability to defend ones rights that the rights themselves can be secured; even if that defense requires violence in response to violence.

However modern warfare, wars of conquest, wars of aggression, are evil. Modern warfare, which is exemplified by large groups of soldiers highly trained and mechanized, able to wreak great destruction and death from a safe distance, is very hard to legitimize. Conquest and aggression violate the rights that we hold dear, and so should be avoided at all costs.

On the other hand, the antiwar movement has breed its own evil, and cannot possibly be the 'good' as currently constituted. Watch any antiwar rally, listen to nearly any antiwar protestor talk, and you will hear and see hatred of America, and the demonization of the American people.

This begs the question, if they are Americans, and all Americans are bad, how can they possibly be good? Are 'we' bad as libertarians? Of course not; and Americans in general are not evil or bad. Misguided, yes. America is the most generous nation on the face of the planet, and I have a hard time believing that is a sign of evil as well.

A facet of the antiwar movement, is the pacifist movement. Pacifism, in my opinion, is evil in its own right. True pacifism does not allow for a credible self defense; if you cannot mount an equal or superior force, then the consequences for aggressive actions are not sufficient enough to give an aggressor pause. Just like the possibility of being shot in states that allow concealed carry curbs crime, the knowledge on the part of an aggressor nation that the population of its 'target' is prepared to defend itself will tend to dissuade it from carrying out its aggression there.

In light of the above, let's analyze the current conflict in the middle east. Are we involved in a war of aggression, or are we engaged in self defense?

Do we face a real & credible threat? If you travel to New York city, and look into the pit that was the base of the World Trade Center, I think you will have to agree that there is a credible threat to us. The 'terrorists' who flew the planes into those buildings were part of a larger religious sect, and that religious sect has declared war on us. There may be no governments that have declared war on us in the middle eastern region, but several governments support this religious sect. That constitutes a threat in my opinion as well. In light of these facts we could be said to be engaged in self defense.

But why Iraq? They don't support the religious group who has declared war on us; and while they do train terrorists there (we should know, we funded them for many years) there has been no provable link between Iraq and the 9-11 attacks. The answer is: strategy. If you listen to the spokesman for StratFor ( he'll tell you what the governments won't: The real reason we are in Iraq is for long term strategy. We destroy the strongest army in the area, we have large numbers of troops on the ground in the region and we get to remove our troops from Saudi Arabia where they are causing problems. (in fact, their presence there lead indirectly to the 9-11 attacks, but I digress) all good strategic reasons to be there.

Isn't that by definition a war of aggression? It sure looks like it on the surface. In reality, however, how can we know? The 'top secret' information that our governments is acting on is not available to us. No discussions of the facts behind our current conflict have been allowed so far. Very few public discussions of a factual nature have been conducted at all; generally all we get are propaganda based posing on either side (war and antiwar) which are framed in such a way as to create a rift amongst the American people.

So, here we are, libertarians all. What should be our response to this. I've got one for you: What war?

There has been no declaration of war. There has been no request for one. The president has gone out of his way to stress to insurance companies that there is NO war, so they have to honor the claims of businesses and people harmed by the current conflict.

We have no 'real' information. The CIA doesn't report to any of us, and how could we know whether to trust them or not, even if they did? The only people that know what's going on are the men in the field, and most of them are too close to the action to be objective about it.

We have a genuine need to remove real and credible threats, but is this the right way? Do we have to subjugate the entire middle east in order to remove the current threat? That certainly seems to be where we are headed, and without any direction from the people who will have to foot the bill for all this. I welcome discussion on the facts, Mr. President, members of congress; give us the facts. Give us the chance to judge the truth of the matter as sovereign individuals, as is our right. What are the long range intentions in relation to the middle east, and militant religion in particular.

So the next time (Did I hear you say "Hey the wars over, we won."? Right...) someone asks you "what do you think about the war?", just ask them "What war?" I guarantee it will be a conversation they'll remember.

In hindsight, it strikes me as funny that Bush declared victory in 2003, but we're still fighting battles over there on a daily basis. What does 'victory' mean? Doesn't sound like the war is over from where I'm sitting.

The thing I got the most trouble over from people who heard the speech is that I needed to revise my views concerning necessary evil; it was deemed to be a sign of naivete, that I didn't understand the issues well enough to understand what evil was and why it might be necessary to do evil. Nearly three years later, I simply feel stronger about it. Most people who use this phrase are just looking for an excuse for supporting something that they 'know' is evil. The problem remains in the unrealistic definition of what evil is, as I asserted originally.

If you find yourself mouthing the phrase 'necessary evil', you better be
100 percent sure of the necessary part.

Smaller Government, Anyone?

I get so tired of Republicans and Conservatives talking about how they're for "smaller government"; and then when you start talking about actually making government smaller, they marginalize you. Like this person:

While I did like many of the positions of the Libertarian Pres candidate (although not enough to vote for him) most of the local & state candidates were either unknown to me (in many cases the only time you hear of a Libertarian candidate is when you read the ballot in the booth) or they're so far out in left field in their positions for me to vote for them.

I corrected the mis-statement concerning 'left field' Libertarian candidates, which lead to the statement "Perhaps I should have said bizarre and strange."

My response of:

bizarre as in the Republican drive to make women into chattel (property. What you are when you don't have a right to 'your own body'; the outcome of reversing Roe)

Or Strange as in the Democrat desire to make the healthcare system a government agency, so that we can have the same quality of service that N'Orleans is getting from FEMA?
Didn't seem to please this person much. In fact, I think I got his/her goat.

As in completely abolishing county payroll - including the sheriffs dept!
As in doing away with all building codes, health codes, traffic laws, well that was where a bug flew in my mouth and broke the spell...
Seriously this guy that was running for County Commissioner was spellbinding in his zeal and fervor and that he was actually serious. This was probably 6 years ago.
Even though I tend to vote for R's more than D's I don't approve of either of the examples or your distorted view of them.
While I believe that abortion is murder; I also believe in God who created man & woman and whose first gift to us was free choice. Since we have free choice it seems illogical to say I know better than God and to take that gift away from someone.
Now, abolishing the county payroll would be a rather extreme first step, but at least that would be a reduction in gov't. I'll give him points for being consistent. However, every LP candidate who attempts to 'incrementalize' the reduction in gov't, is vilified by the hard core members of the LP for not being 'real libertarians'. What you get as a result is a candidate like him, and a reaction like the above.

As for the second point, there isn't any reason why those codes cannot be handled by the 'private sector'. Traffic laws would be enforced by the highway owners, building codes by the design professionals in the area. Health codes are the stupidest of all. It's in the food services interest to visibly comply with common sense health rules. A prime example of a service that could be provided on a pay basis, taking another burden off of the taxpayer.

As someone who votes for 'R's, I would expect some sympathy for ideas that reduce the size of gov't, not ridicule. I'm sure the LP candidate in question was serious. I'm equally serious; something has to give, and the average tax payer is tired of giving. It's the gov'ts turn to give.

As for the 'view' that I presented, It's wasn't a viewpoint. What I did was present a logical extrapolation of a stated goal for each of the two 'major' parties. That most people don't recognize the obvious flaws in their favorite political parties stated good intentioned goals is why we are on the road to hell right now.

This also is not a viewpoint:

abortion isn't murder, because there is no human life without brain activity. Those are just the facts. That many people disagree and say that they know or 'believe' otherwise is just an example of them simply denying the known facts in a given situation.

If you believe in free choice, then you are definitely wasting your vote pulling a lever with an 'R' or a 'D' next to it. There won't be any choices left to make if things aren't changed (and that's even if the Democrat's return to leadership) There will soon be only that behavior which is compelled by law, and that behavior which is forbidden by law. There will be nothing in between; except perhaps, behavior they are still drafting legislation to 'control'.

Harry Browne

He was the first presidential candidate that I actually believed in when I cast my vote for him (two times, even) I wish I could say he was "my friend" or that I "knew him well", but we only met briefly, once during each campaign. He had what was needed in a presidential candidate, that air of confidence and and charisma that makes you want to trust him.

We'll miss you, Harry.

Here's a bit of him in his own words (thx to TL Knapp for the link)
I Love America. Do You?

Don't forget...

Handbrakes are useful items. You should always set the handbrake, espcially when your driveway slopes gently down toward the house, and you've left the transmission in neutral, so that you can go back and lock the door that you didn't remember to lock.

(that should have been the first clue)

Oh well. I was planning on rebuilding that wall anyway.

ALD: Not welcome in Idaho?

Got notice of the Ponderay, Idaho Police issuing a warning concerning the use of ALD in their jurisdiction. Apparently they missed the notice from the Federal Reserve that there is no crime being committed when people offer and accept alternate currencies as payment.

The retailer in question also apparently neglected to look at the currency itself, or they might have noticed the very obvious contact information on the reverse that would have allowed them to contact a local resource and redeem the silver for FRN's if they mistakenly accepted the silver in payment.

Once again, a furor over being given something of value when what the business wanted was a worthless piece of paper. I remain baffled.