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!

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.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Not So Mundane Thoughts

I wish I had some! Instead, my thoughts are run-of-the-mill (ever wonder about that phrase?), routine, and mostly boring. Yet I still conjure them up... or perhaps they conjure me up: "cogito ergo sum" ("I think therefore I am") said Rene Descartes... and then I lay them out here to bore anyone who happens to drop by.

What brought this self examination on? I was perusing the cartoon strips I have collected and came across this:

I often muse on how we came up with certain things. Calvin wonders how we decided to drink milk and I wonder about things like how did people all over the world come up with the bow and arrow. Foods are easy, we likely saw animals eating things and tried them. They were either tasty or filling and so we continued to eat them. I am sure that the more adventurous food tasters died in the process or just got sick and so we learned to avoid those foods. Look at little kids, toddlers... they'll put just about anything in their mouths... I suspect that is how we determined what foods we can eat. There's a verse in an old Crosby, Stills, and Nash song that goes:

Say can I have some of your purple berries?
[Crosby:] Yes, I've been eating them
For six or seven weeks now haven't got sick once
[Stills:] Probably keep us both alive.

It goes back to the, I think, primary instinct we have: the survival instinct. It may be the only real instinct humans have. I was once taught that the difference between humans and animals is that humans do not rely on instinct to function, that we are taught what we need to know and the so-called lower animals are born with the knowledge they need. I believe we have learned that this is not true. Animal young learn skills, often through "play" and so do humans. Then I was taught that only humans fashioned tools... until we discovered that many other animals also do it.

What that taught me is that humans fool themselves into thinking of themselves as unique creatures. Which just means we have huge egos and maybe that is what makes us different

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Now, finally, the truth is coming out and from one of the architects of the plan! I felt that the administration was lying from the beginning. How? Simple.... You cannot add millions of people to health insurance and see the cost of that insurance go down. How do I know that? I live in a state that has mandatory auto insurance. The companies claim (and claimed while lobbying for the mandate) that it would reduce the cost for the average driver. It didn't. Then they claimed that it slowed the rate of increase. Which is almost impossible to prove or disprove. More covered drivers means more claims and more claims mean higher premiums.

With health insurance, more people covered means more people in doctors' offices, longer waits ensue. Add in things like mandatory coverage for pre-existing conditions and you force premiums up. Then there were the obvious lies:

You can keep your doctor.

You can keep your health insurance.

Both of which were untrue but the lies weren't acknowledged until well after the law was passed. Now we are learning about Jonathon Gruber, an MIT economist who provided the numbers used by the CBO to evaluate the costs of the plan. Numbers that we now are learning were fudged (at best) or outright phony (at worst) and that Gruber is happy about the deception because you, the average voter, are stupid and would not have allowed your representatives in DC to pass it if you knew the truth. Because, as I said, he thinks you're too dumb to know what is best for you.

So... you've been lied to and manipulated but it's all been for your own good... Don't you feel better now?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lost And Found In Thought

Once again I am faced with the empty page and an empty mind. Only the empty page is new, the mind is often empty. But I plod on anyway. I got my hair cut yesterday. And the barber went "Hmmm..." at the start. I asked why and he told me I had a thinning patch just past my left ear that was not mirrored on the right side.A "gift", I suppose, from Mom. My father, like his father before him, had no thinning at all. My mother, on the other hand, had wispy fine hair that eventually barely concealed her scalp. And that was the legacy handed down to me... along with low blood pressure and acrophobia. I am convinced now that there is a genetic component to acrophobia. We already are aware of the genetic component for baldness.

I often wonder just how much is passed through genes and whether we can learn to overcome these things. B. F. Skinner was a pioneer in the field of behaviorism. Wiki says this about him:

He was a firm believer of the idea that human free will was actually an illusion and any human action was the result of the consequences of that same action. If the consequences were bad, there was a high chance that the action would not be repeated; however if the consequences were good, the actions that led to it would be reinforced. He called this the principle of reinforcement.

Obviously, I disagree with him... to a point. I think we are born with a genetic based "filter" which defines how we process the the data we receive from our senses. This is what defines how we view those consequences Skinner talked about. You see, I think "good" and "bad" results are subjective things.

I inherited my father's physical features (darkish skin, brown eyes, Patrician nose) and his stubborness. With the latter, I tend to ignore the "bad" results if the goal of the behavior is deemed (by me, of course) to be "good."

Skinner, I think, was close to obsessed with the "nature vs nurture" controversy. I go with "nature" as the ruling factor whereas Skinner seemed to believe that "nurture" was more important. It is difficult to prove which is the controlling factor because few people are unaffected by their upbringing, which is mostly familial. Studies of twins separated at birth is helpful but it's important to note that these are limited situations.

I suspect we will not learn which is the dominant influence in my lifetime and maybe never. I agree with Skinner on one thing: free will doesn't really exist.