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!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Government Sucks... Obviously

A Saturday Special

I was reading this last Thursday morning and a thought came to mind. Some morning thoughts don't last or make much sense even at the time but this one seemed to. One of the things Stossel wrote was:

The Constitution's limits on government power helped create the most free and prosperous country on earth.


I must take issue with that. It could have helped but I think we could (probably would) have turned out just as powerful and prosperous if we had become a dictatorship. I know, not orthodoxy. But what's the point of having a brain if one cannot think "outside the box", as they say? In the past few millennia there have been many great and prosperous countries. Greece, Egypt, Persia, Rome, Russia (under the tsars), France, England, India, and many more. None of them were as as free but they still managed to become great and prosperous nations that built huge empires.

One thing that I think is important to remember as citizens is that government always tries to assume more power and that, I think, is what Stossel is really complaining about in this piece. That we have relatively greater freedom than most countries today, or pretty much any in the past, is not truly relevant to attaining greatness or prosperity. We were not all that powerful and prosperous until late in our history. We were pretty much ignored by the rest of the world. Understandably so, I think. We had to go through a period of expansion and consolidation of our own before we could expand beyond our own borders.

The issue I think is important today is: How much of our individual freedom are we willing to cede in order to remain great and, possibly, prosperous?



Friday, October 17, 2014

I Sometimes Think About Important Stuff

... in addition to the silliness that crops up in my brain. You might recall that I once described humans as parasites. Well, I haven't changed my mind about that. I did, however, run into this which doesn't confirm (or deny) my premise but which concentrates on our collective, let's call it, homocentricity. By that, I mean we place ourselves at the top of the evolutionary scale.

The author makes a compelling, and quite obvious, argument that the only reason to place us at the top is because we made the ladder in the first place. That is, we humans are the only ones who seemingly know or care about evolution. I called the author "Captain Obvious" for positing that. He is right that each species (extant or extinct) is pretty much unique in its approach to life and that this should tell us we are not unique among all fauna. We just think we are and we teach that to our children so that they, too, will believe it.

But what about my positing that we are simply another parasitical species? I think we are. And I also think we aren't anymore intentional in doing harm to our host than any other parasites. Yet, we do cause harm. One of the harms we have done is cause the extinction of a number of species. Nature has us beat on that, however, having wiped out huge numbers of species in various ways, sometimes relatively quickly and sometimes over huge spans of time. But never mercifully. In fact, humans might be the only species to actually care about the extinction of any animals.

Of course, that might just be because we seem to be the only animals to have a capacity to care about anything. Other animals might care about something beyond personal survival but how would we know?
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just Some Thoughts


Let me start off by reminding you that I consider myself atheist. Many of you already know this about me. Many in my family (related by marriage or blood) do not know this about me. But let me straighten something out about my "brand" of atheism. I am not offended by religion and I do not fear it. I sometimes fear the intolerance of the religious fanatics... like the ISIS/ISIL wackos. I suspect that they and I would not get along well. I do not want "in God We Trust" taken off our currency nor do I have a problem with the Pledge of Allegiance (even though I learned it before the words "under God" were inserted into it). Well, other than having children mindlessly recite it, that is. Study that pledge, read the words, understand the promise inherent in it. It is an oath of fealty to a piece of cloth and the nation which it represents. It is, to me, indoctrination. Understand that I now, and have since I enlisted in the Navy in 1965, believe in that oath with all my heart. I also consider myself a conservative though I have, of late, wondered if libertarianism isn't more my style.

I have a few friends who are self-professed liberals. I find them to be, in many instances, hypocrites. They complain about African-Americans, about Jews, about Mexicans (and other Hispanics), and do not hesitate to use derogatory terms and the associated stereotypes. I have known many liberals who behaved in the same manner when I was young and thought liberal thoughts while living in California. I dismissed the non-orthodoxy for many years until I felt I couldn't any longer. My first wife began calling me conservative and meant it as an insult. She was also one of those hypocrite-liberals, having used a number of stereotypes over the years we were married so I pretty much ignored it. I had learned, some time before, that insults only hurt if you let them.

There are many things I do not understand. On the other hand, I also think I am pretty smart. This is not contradictory. I think it is pretty normal, in fact.


One more thing: It seems like nude photos of celebrities have been hacked and these photos are being posted on public websites. The celebrities are understandably upset. However, who posted such photos in the first place? Who took them or had them taken? I won't go into the contradiction involved in flaunting one's beauty for profit and then being upset over having it revealed...

So now you know more about me than perhaps you once knew. At least I hope so.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blank Slates and Children


The past few weeks, I have been seeing ads for Khan Academy. I have no problem with the academy or its goals. I do, however, have a problem with the structure and tone of its ads.

The opening line is "No one is born smart" and then goes on explaining how Einstein had to learn to tie his shoes or the alphabet and so on. It's true, we must learn these things and much more. Because we can be born smart but we are not born with the knowledge we must have to live and function in this world.

In fact, a great many people are born smart. There is a vast difference between being smart and being knowledgeable. I have talked about this before. I believe that we are born with a finite ability to learn; some have more potential than others but we are all capable of learning. As soon as we are born, we begin our learning. I like to think of it as "human programming." That is, we start out as blank slates; like a new computer. It can perform basic functions but it must be programmed (taught) to do the things we want it to do. How do we "teach" the computer? We install programs. We tell it who we are, we give it a name, we remove programs the manufacturer thought we would want and install other programs that we do think we'll need and use.

We do much the same with children. We teach them right and wrong, we teach them the ABC's, we teach them numbers, and we teach them to read so they can teach themselves. Reading is the "bootstrap" program of life, in my opinion. With that skill, you do not really need someone to teach you anything more. I learned to read about age six. I was already reading a bit before I was formally taught and, yes, I had those silly "Dick and Jane" books but it was comic books that made me want to read. I wanted to know what the words in the balloons above the characters heads meant, I wanted to understand why the pictures showed what they did and I understood that those words, that jumble of letters and spaces would provide that information.

We spend the first 4-5 years of our lives being programmed in how to function in the company of others. Our parents are primarily in charge of that programming. I believe that period of our lives is where we the foundation for our lives is created.

And I am offended when I seen and hear an ad that claims we are stupid at birth. We are not. But, like the ad eventually reveals, we can learn just about anything.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wondering...

The other day I watched some news commentary where someone pontificated on the migration of people from the northeast into the southern states. Among the reasons these people gave for moving was the higher taxes and cost of living in the states they came from. Weather was another obvious factor, of course.

Now, I have lived in a number of states. I watched the changes in southeast Florida over the years as the migration occurred there. What I saw was that these folks mostly tried to change the state into what they left but with better weather. High-rise condominiums, higher taxes, demands for more services. I didn't understand it; they visited the state, liked it enough to uproot themselves and their families, and then proceeded to try to change it into what they had fled from. It led me to believe that people really are stupid.

A lot of people miss the familiarity of "home" and that is behind some of this. And, I suppose, it is normal to want to recapture the things they liked back "home" but they do not realize that most of those things eventually led to the conditions they didn't like back there.

It was a topsy-turvy world I found myself in down here. The conservatives in the south in the Fifties were all Democrats while the progressives were Republicans. The Democrats were opposed to integration, for example, and had encoded that into law. When a Republican got into office, he tried to change that. Granted, most Democrats at the time in the south were "Blue-Dog" (fiscally and socially set in their ways and voted along party lines). These jumped to the Republican Party as integration grew. I think it is fair to say that this was the driving force behind the political changes in the south in the Seventies.

But I realized at the time that segregation in the north was just as strong, it was just not encoded in law. It was, as the Court said, "De Facto" rather than "De Jure." I think that actually made it harder to change. Even today, I see bigotry all around me and the people exhibiting it call themselves "liberal" or "pretty liberal." They all came from northern states but talked like "born and bred" southerners, especially when it comes to race and sexual orientation. And they often, if not always, vote Democrat. I just do not understand it.