The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle just disappeared from the blog. Sorry!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Of Course It Makes No Sense

Ferguson, Missouri erupted (predictably) in violence after the grand jury decided not to indict, on any count, the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed teenager. The destruction was localized, it appears, to the area where Mr. Brown was killed but it was also devastating. Once again, the "protesters" wreaked havoc on businesses and cars. In other words, they took their anger and frustration out on innocent people in mostly their own neighborhood. And did a little "shopping."

Ever been in a riot? It is what happens when civilized behavior gives way to emotion. Businesses take the brunt of the anger of the mob as it is used by the greedy to take things they want. In the end, all the citizens pay. But the law-abiding citizens were likely cowering in their homes, afraid to challenge the thugs who saw opportunity. Prior to the grand jury announcement, I saw pictures of people holding signs that read "BLACK LIVES MATTER." And I am sure they do. But rather than be outraged by the wanton killing of black men, women, and children by other black men and women they became outraged at the death of one man... a 6'5", 240 pound, teenager... simply because it was a white police officer who killed him. Forget all the other senseless deaths of black men, women, and children... they no longer matter. What matters is this one young man who apparently cared little about the owner of a small mart where he shoved and bullied the manager over a packet of cigars that he couldn't be bothered to pay for.

And now black people all over the country will wonder why they get little respect. It wasn't the vast majority of African-Americans who rioted and looted and burned, it was a very small minority. But that won't matter, the racists (white, black, and brown) will feel justified in their irrational feelings and life will not improve nor will civilization change.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why Do They Do This?

I am a crossword buff. I used to play them on my desktop then I discovered The "Shortyz" app for my android tablet. 6-7 puzzles each day to solve. Wonderful! I was in crossword heaven. It was one of the first apps I downloaded. But no longer. The latest update has ruined it. It was once a black background grid with the clues also using a black background. It was just fine. That's gone, replaced by a garish white background. And the keyboad, which once resembled the native keyboard (white letters on gray "keys"), now is also using that garish white background with no keys, just letters.

Still, I gave it a shot. Instead of giving you a green vertical bar on the right edge for each puzzle name when completed it (you would get a partial orange bar in the same place for an uncompleted one), it now puts a checkmarked circle on the left ... but only after you exit it completely and re-open the app. In other words, feedback is delayed. After completing six of the seven puzzles today (Monday, November 24), I started to work the final puzzle (a "New York Times Classic" from May 7th, 1998) when I ran into a glitch. As I was filling in a three letter word for zero (obviously, "NIL") where I already had the "IL", the app jumped me to a word I had already filled out correctly and placed the "N" in that word. And I found yet another glitch when I tried to fill in another word where it just jumped to an unrelated space and put the letter I was entering into that.

To sum it up, the update BROKE the app. I cannot even complain to the author of the app because I "do not have permission to comment." The website is if you wish to know and it appears that a guy named "Robert Cooper" is the author.

Do not download this app. Do not encourage the author to do anything to further ruin what was once a great app. Encourage him to FIX IT!

A Few Thoughts On Religion

There are a number of people (a quite large number, I'm sure) who think an atheist cannot have anything of value to say about religion, that atheists want to impede it or tear it down. And, in part, I would agree... mostly that atheists are perceived as the enemy of religion. Some of us who profess to be atheist are enemies of religion. I will try to explain why I do not consider them atheist but "anti-theist" and what that means.

An anti-theist wants to undermine theism (religion), he is as intolerant as any member of IS but without (so far) the beheadings and murders. He finds offense in the mere mention of a god, such as "In God we trust" or "One nation, under God." He will bring suit after suit (or just support them) to remove mention of a deity from public view. He is often found ridiculing those who believe. He is not well-liked outside of his circle of like-minded friends and seemingly revels in that dislike.

I do not understand the mindset of such a person. He is not only un-persuasive, he is counter-productive. He does not realize that he is not only acknowledging religious belief but empowering it. Think about the concept of reverse psychology. Telling people not to do something often has the opposite effect, making them want to do it. Telling your teen-aged daughter not to continue dating that hoodlum, for example, often just makes him more attractive to her.

I have observed that people rarely choose a religion of their of their own free will but tend to follow the religion of their parents. That is quite understandable. You will be more comfortable with the familiar than the unfamiliar. It is the primary way religions grow in size. Oh, children often go through rebellious periods but not all and that daughter I mentioned will eventually dump the creep you don't like (often in favor of another creep you don't like) for one you do like or learn to like. Likewise, people who stray from their parents' religion usually return to it.

I think of my sister when I consider such things as religious preference. She wanted to become Catholic but never mentioned this to me until she was on her fourth marriage (one might say, "a bit late"). To understand why, I need to explain about my father and mother. My mother was raised Catholic, her family was Catholic, and when she and my father wanted to marry she dragged him off to see the priest to get permission to marry in the Church. My father refused to convert and refused to promise to raise any children as Catholic. The priest told my mother not to marry him and threatened excommunication if she did. My mother married him anyway and walked away from the Catholic Church. We (my family) think of it as a beautiful love story and I think it was behind my sister's Catholic desire. I am also fairly sure that it had an influence on my becoming atheist.

My mother adopted my father's Protestant faith and remained religious throughout her life. My father was somewhat religious but, being cynical, was opposed to organized religion. I never saw him go to church. I was, however, sent to Sunday School each week. When I "graduated" from that, I realized only my mother, sister, and brother attended church while my father remained at home and stopped attending myself. I think I only attended church once (the Sunday after "graduating" from Sunday School) but it is quite possible that's a false memory.

What I learned over the years was to respect other's religions. The neighborhoods I grew up in were religiously quite diverse, consisting of Catholic, Protestant (Methodist for the most part), and Jewish families. I absorbed some knowledge of these religions from my friends. Later, I tried to learn about other religions on my own. Being "outside" of religion allowed me a more objective perspective on the subject, I believe, and a more tolerant attitude toward religious belief.

Friday, November 21, 2014

In The News

There is a lot of things in the news, some of it scary, some not so scary. A shooting at Florida State University was reported... I found this in the report from USA Today:

"There has been a shooting in the library. Stay where you are," and instructing people to call 911 if they have been shot.

Apparently, college students do not know who to call when shot so they had to be "instructed" in case they were thinking of calling Domino's and ordering pizza. I am not hopeful about America's future.

In other news, a New Jersey school district was being sued by some athiest parents over the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, saying it discriminated against atheist children. Never mind that the courts have ruled that students can opt to not recite the Pledge and also can simply not say the "under God" part. To its credit, the school district is asking the court for dismissal of the suit.

Those who follow this blog know I am atheist but people like this offend me. What possible harm can this pledge do to an atheist child? The parents exhibit no principles because they are identified only as "John" and "Jane" "Doe" in the suit. There are likely millions of people in this country who believe that the parents are causing harm to their children by indoctrinating them to follow atheism. I am atheist and I think that. Let the kid(s) decide on their own whether they want to believe in a supreme being or not. I think anyone who demands their children follow the beliefs of the parent (a) have no conviction in their beliefs, (b) have no respect for their children, and (c) do not practice any kind of tolerance.

I "came out" as atheist when I was 12 years old, though I had been thinking that way for a few years before that. I was in a 7th grade English class when the teacher began asking the students about religion (it turned out that he minored in theology while in college) and asking them to raise their hand as he rattled off various religions. He noticed that I did not raise my hand at all and asked me what I was and I told him I was atheist. He handled that knowledge well enough but, for the rest of the school year, challenged me on it and thought of me as a "communist" (yes, he actually said that). We had some interesting conversations which I enjoyed but I am not sure he did.

The other thing that has been in the news is the reduction in the price of gasoline. Locally, the price has been around $2.85 for regular. I am happy to see this but I am not celebrating it. After all, it will not last and I still remember when it was well under $1.00. I realize that nothing stays cheap and that prices always rise but it is downright silly to think gas will remain relatively cheap. It's a bit like thanking a mugger for not beating you as hard as when he began.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keystone Pipline

I have what appears to be a simple question. Apparently, it isn't all that simple.The Democrats, who have been against the Keystone Pipeline, are now pushing for a vote on it. The Republicans are happy to accomodate them. The president is against it and is threatening to veto any legislation which would permit it.

It all seems to revolve around Senator Mary Landrieu and her fight to retain her seat in the Senate. If she somehow wins re-election in the run-off, will she retain her support for the pipeline? Will the rest of the Democrats also retain their support for it?

The politics are obvious. I think it is all for show. If the Democrats pass the legislation and the president vetoes it then will that help Landrieu in her re-election? She could say "Well, I tried" and that might be enough for Louisiana voters. It would not be enough for me but I wouldn't be inclined to vote for her anyway.

I believe the pipeline would be good for the country. You may not believe that is so. I would be interested in your opinions.

The Senate failed to pass the pipeline legislation. It garnered 59 votes and needed 60.