Random ramblings of a mind damaged by years of disuse and abuse. Also a place to go to be bored to tears.
The Random Comic Strip
Words to live by...
"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."
(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 that disappeared from the blog, came back.
Friday, December 3, 2010
Random Musings Friday 12-3-10
Today is Friday. I knew you knew that but writing it down fills more space so I basically ignored your knowledge. I would like to make Fridays into Random Musings Day. All that means is that, by Friday of each week, I have either run out of ideas that can be fleshed out into full blown posts that could stand on their own or that I am simply too lazy to flesh any one of the individual musings out. I leave it up to you to decide if it's the former or the latter. Using filler is how I got good grades on all essay tests. While I was in school and scratching out my essays on the not quite dry clay tablets, I became a master of what I called "superfluous frills." The trick is in knowing your teacher and your competition. You didn't know you were competing for grades with your peers?
Of course you were.
In order to muse about random things, one must first locate some things to muse about. My favorite place is the news feeds offered by our friends at Google. I could use Drudge Report or Bing or Yahoo but I have become accustomed to Google News. It's like an old friend and neighbor at the back fence.
I see that Obama made a secret visit to Afghanistan. The media didn't call it a "secret" trip, just a "surprise" one. Any trip to a war zone by the President will undoubtedly be secret so I guess I shouldn't call it that. But a "surprise" trip? Why call it that? Do the media think he would have rather not made a trip to the war zone? I can guarantee that the military brass in Afghanistan knew about it in advance. At least 24 hours and possibly 48. It was no surprise to them.
Trips by Presidents are like visits by bigwigs from corporate headquarters to whatever little office you toil away in. Mostly pointless. The visit interferes with you getting your job done and the bigwigs think you sit around all day in your best clothes. Nobody gets a realistic view of anything. The same happens with Presidential visits.
New rules being proposed by the White House could result in those rear view TV cameras being standard equipment on all vehicles made starting with 2014 models. I am not opposed to this. I have the audible back up obstruction alarm in my Buick. I like it. It's useful. I am not so sure a camera is better but it couldn't hurt... so long as there is an audible alarm also. It has to be better than using a rear-view mirror. I was once hit (well, my little Honda Civic was) by a guy backing out of his space using his rear-view mirror instead of looking over his shoulder. Nobody hurt but I got a nice dent in my door. Of course, this will add twice the cost of the system to the price. You didn't think it would be a freebie, did you?
In a really interesting vein, NASA scientists have discovered a bacteria that thrives on arsenic. This is not some extra-terrestrial life form. No, it is a bacteria that lives in Mono Lake in California. Now, there's a surprise... a weird life form in California. Who'd have figured? Who'd have noticed? I am not all that surprised by this. I think we are a bit too biased in our search for life. I suspect that any stable and reasonably benign environment can support life. We may not believe it could but I suspect it can. After all, we have found life in depths once thought to be impossible to sustain life (pressure) or too hot (near seismic vents) or too cold (places in Antarctica and the Arctic), why not some creature that can use arsenic for something other than a way to rid yourself of a pesky, annoying, spouse?
The above story reminds me that I think baseball, football, and basketball scouts tend to do something similar. If one team has success with a kid they found playing in some obscure country or region then the next thing you know all the rookies for the next decade or so hail from the same or some similar place. Proof? Look at all the Samoans in the NFL these days.
Lots of fuss these days over the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military. Having served, I know there were gays and lesbians in the military. Some hid it well and no one knew, others were less careful, and some of these got caught. I am not one of those who thinks homosexuality is something you are born to be. I do believe one may be born with the propensity to become homosexual but that it doesn't have to turn out that way. I could be wrong, I won't argue the point. In any event, by the time someone reaches military age they either are or they aren't. Gay, that is. I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to serve. If someone is willing to do the job, willing to take the risks the job entails, take the low pay, take the constantly disrupted life that is the military way, then let them serve. Welcome them. I do think there will be some disruption to military discipline for a while. But the troops will adjust. Eventually.
Speaking of the military, the X-37B landed safely at Vandenberg AFB in California. The X-37B is an unmanned mini-Space Shuttle. Beyond wondering if there were at least 36 previous models that we never heard of, this is pretty interesting to me. Some people have wondered just what purposes this USV (Unmanned Space Vehicle... my term) will be used for. They wonder what it did for the 7 months it was in orbit. I can think of a number of uses that do not involve militarizing space. While some have speculated that it could be used to destroy hostile satellites or as a space based weapons system. I think it is most likely to end up being used to deliver supplies (and maybe personnel) to the ISS. With more automation it could retrieve satellites for repair and re-use, or just replace worn out ones. Still, it is the Air Force that is running the show...
Finally, and this is not in the news, I have noticed that we are ambiguously paranoid. That's the generalized "we", of course. We both distrust the government and trust it at the same time. We think government is inefficient and wasteful but, simultaneously, keep asking it to do more and more. If it cannot run the military efficiently (and it certainly doesn't), or even itself, how can we trust it to oversee anything else? Yet we want to expand its role in just about everything. Heck, we don't even believe the oversight committees really keep an eye on things, do we?
Sorry this set of musings was so pre-occupied with government stuff. I'll try to avoid that in the future.