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 that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Woe Is Me! Woe Is Me!

Normally, I talk about politics on Saturdays but in spite of the nastiness of Florida's gubenartorial race (a lot of "mud" being slung), Russia pretty much invading Ukraine, ISIS (or ISIL or just plain old IS) showing itself to be much more than a JV team of "wannabe" terrorists... I have my own problems to sort out. And I would like to plead for your sympathy.

Let's start with my computer troubles. I have no clue what happened. I pride myself on having a techie heart and a dogged determination to find a cause of a problem and correct it but this one stumped me.

Some of the problem was undoubtedly related to what the industry calls a "Potentially Unwanted Program", aka "PUP." The culprit was apparently something called "Astromender" or "Astromedia" and it appeared in my beloved Firefox browser, taking over as my home page and displacing Google as my default search engine. It went downhill from there. All of a sudden, I could not see web pages as they are supposed to appear. Instead, they looked like the HTML wasn't being read properly. After trying to install a clean copy and failing, I eventually tried a copy of Internet Explorer. That browser worked almost perfectly. I still get some kind of error message when opening the Blogger editor or trying to look at the design page:

" We're sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group,


  • Describe what you were doing when you got this error.

  • Provide the following error code.

  • bX-rjv2lc

    This information will help us to track down your specific problem and fix it!

    We apologize for the inconvenience."

    Like that... But it means nothing to me (since the requested page appears) and it doesn't seem to cause any harm. With Firefox, I was waiting in La La Land for the editor or design to appear. Firefox was also repeatedly trying (and failing) to re-download whatever I had downloaded in a previous session.

    In short, it's not fixed but I have found a way around it.

    My other problem is my golf game. I won't go into it but I believe I have found the problem... I am in the midst of a balance problem. That is, I am unsteady on my feet. I am working on this and hope to improve my balance and, therefore, my game.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2014

    Madness, It's Madness

    I am still having a spot of trouble with my chosen browser so bear with me, please.

    As I was watching the TV the other night, I came across some "talking heads" (pundits, they call them) fretting about the War On Terror, ISIS (or ISIL, whichever you prefer), and Bashir Assad. The crux of the worry was how we might find ourselves allied with Assad in order to deal with ISIS.

    They actually worried about this. I presume that is because they've forgotten some fairly recent history... You see, back in 1941, Great Britain allied with the Soviets, specifically with Josef Stalin, (and we joined that alliance once we got into that war) which had not long before signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany and happily engaged in dividing up Poland in 1939.

    In simple terms... it's been done before; this allying with those you do not like in order to defeat a greater threat.

    So why fret about it now?

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    Life Is Full Of Potholes

    I am still having problems with my browser. It could be a virus or just some screwup I somehow created. But it is affecting my ability to post and that means they will be iffy.

     I have been thinking about death lately, wondering mostly about what happens after. Being atheist, I do not buy into any of the stories about an afterlife but I realize I am definitely in the minority on this. Personally, I believe that death is one of the reasons that religions exist. No one wants to think that this is it... that when someone dies, it's all over, that we just cease to exist. We do not want life to be final. So, we (according to me) invent gods and heavens and hells or we invent reincarnation. Anything but life just being over.

    I could be wrong. The problem is that I won't know until after I am dead and I don't believe I would know then because the "me" that exists now simply won't anymore. So I would be unaware of anything. Just gone.  Some think that's a bleak future. To that, I say isn't that the point? We cannot know what happens after we die though religions offer us hope and we all want hope, don't we?

    Woody Allen once offered the theory that when we die our souls go to a garage in New Jersey. That is even more bleak than my vision.

    But what about you? What do you think happens after death?

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    I Err, Therefore I Am Human

    This was supposed to post yesterday but the Blogger editor would not load so I had to set it up for today

    It turns out, according to this article that the errors we make help us. Well, DUH!  Once again, a heap of research has shown what we already know... or should know... that we learn from mistakes and learn faster from those mistakes than we otherwise would.

    Of course, that doesn't explain the people who make the same mistakes repeatedly... that's covered under Einstein's definition of insanity... "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

    I wonder about that. Criminals fall under that definition, especially the ones we call "career criminals." They commit a crime, get arrested, and go to jail. And when they get out, they do it again. Perhaps they thought the mistake was in getting caught?

    I have made repeated mistakes in my life. But I believe that was because I didn't recognize the mistake, I thought the mistake was something else... like the career criminal does.  The article was talking about learning "motor skills" (often referred to as "muscle memory"). Anyone who ever watched a toddler learning to walk knows mistakes he makes help him learn. It continues as the child learns to do other things: throw a ball, climb a ladder, talk, etc. But that learning never stops. Ask any golfer about mistakes. Most of us know immediately that we goofed in some small way but we often don't know just how and when the goof occurred. This makes it difficult to overcome.

    Children are constantly learning (I call it "human programming") and have fewer mistakes to look back on, to file away, to categorize. They are more resilient; they recover more quickly than adults. They also make more mistakes because they are learning many new skills. Personally, I think it is vitally important that we teach them essential morality before they turn five.

    But why concentrate on motor skills? Why not apply this knowledge to every new thing to learn?  It seems that these scientists have uncovered that also:

    The surprise finding in the new study, published in Science Express, is that not only do errors train the brain to better perform a specific task, but they also teach it how to learn faster from errors, even when those errors are encountered in a completely different task.

    “In this way, the brain generalizes from one task to another by keeping a memory of the errors,” the researchers said.

    In other words, we learn how to learn.

    Maybe being a klutz is helpful.

    Saturday, August 16, 2014


    Let's talk about Ferguson, Missouri. First, let's go over what we know to be fact...


    What we have is reporting and rumor. Mostly, we have reporting of rumor. We have lots of video showing riots and looting along with a bunch of policemen in camo and riding on (or in) armored vehicles. We have scenes of flash-bang grenades and tear gas clouds.

    The camo and armored vehicles have given rise to concerns about the "militarization" of the local police. We have forgotten about the use of these armored vehicles by Chief Gates in Los Angeles in the 1980's to break into crack houses which were heavily armored with steel doors and such and full of men with guns. We have forgotten that we (the collective "we") clamored for the police to have these weapons and these armored cars after 9/11/2001. Now we are concerned that the police are too powerful. This fretting about police power will continue until there is a domestic terror attack. Then we will forget all about that concern we have now.

    I rail against police state possibilities a lot here. I whine about people who seemingly want a single party government. Why? Because the police will be very militarized in that kind of system.

    I have no idea what is actually the truth about events in Ferguson and I don't think I would have any more insight if I lived there. The first thing that happens is the truth is lost. People hear rumors and believe them to be true. Michael Brown was an "innocent, unarmed, child" except we learn that he may not be such an innocent (see the video of him shoving and intimidating a convenience store clerk half his size).  We are told he had his hands up when the cop shot him. But maybe that isn't true either. We are not getting the entire picture and we may never get it.

    Because, as I always say:

    People hear what they want to hear,
    see what they want to see,
    and believe what they want to believe.

    What do you believe?

    Friday, August 15, 2014


    I am trying to understand the mindset of these radical Islamists. I am talking about ISIS (or ISIL, as some call it/them). I cannot understand even what little I know about the group. The linked story from the BBC  shortens it to "IS"... which doesn't help me at all.

    From what I gather, they want to establish a caliphate, which is (according to Wiki)...

    "(in Arabic: خلافة‎ khilāfa, meaning "succession") is an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph – i.e. "successor" – to Muhammad."

    I read that as "We want a dictator!" I don't know how else to describe it.  I had a conversation many years ago with a member of the Nation Of Islam. He told me that "strong-man" rule is a good thing. And I have to agree that, at times, it would seem so. Almost all government, at one time, was of that design. America broke the mold when it established a republic. Rome was, at first, a republic but it was still ruled by the privileged (the wealthy) who essentially owned the Senate, as were all the initial republics. Citizens could vote for others to represent them but the game was rigged, as they say.

    I cannot grasp the mentality that screams "I don't want freedom!" But that is what these people demand. When we were in the midst of the Cold War, I once heard communism being described as "freedom" from want. That is, that it was freer than capitalism because it promised that the needs of the least would be met. It didn't make sense to me because, possibly, I had been raised in a capitalist society. To me, having all my needs met was not freedom. Especially if it meant that a police state would be the way it was done.

    I fear that there are just too many willing to give up individual freedom.

    Thursday, August 14, 2014


    It's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel... once again. I was thinking that lawyers all over the country are thinking, "Wow! A whole week devoted to us!" Which reminded me of an old joke:

    Know why sharks do not eat lawyers?

    Professional courtesy.

    Sharks are fascinating creatures... sleek and tenacious... and efficient predators. In my days as a 'surfer dude' I saw more than a few. Mostly from a safe distance but, on occasion, very close. I do not like sharks, I do not want to protect them. I suspect I am not alone, there are men who survived the aftermath of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis who would heartily agree with me. You cannot argue with a shark, you are unlikely to avoid panic if you turn and find one at your back (as an acquaintance of mine once did while scuba diving). They are not mean but they are, it seems, always hungry and not all that particular about what they eat. Blood in the water can incite them to a frenzy.

    Back in the old days, down at the Miami Seaquarium, they had a "shark channel" where they would hang a half a fish (a Bonita, I believe, was used one day that I was there) just above the surface of the water from a small walk bridge over the channel. The fish's blood would drip into the water and they would toss some chum (basically, fish guts) into the water. The sharks would come into the channel and go nuts trying to get at the fish hanging there. They always succeeded. Sharks are not jumpers like marlin or dolphin but these would jump up, sink their teeth into the fish and twist and turn, shredding it. Other sharks would vie for the "honor" and still others would grab at the pieces that invariably were torn off and fall into the water. The channel would eventually seem full of these creatures to the point where you might think you could walk across them. Obviously, that would be certain death to even try.

    I am in awe of sharks but I do not like them.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Old Age Basically Sucks

    It came to me last night as I was blindly stumbling toward the bathroom (a 3 AM trip) that I don't especially like getting old.

    That "snap, crackle, and pop" that used to greet me from cereal bowls now comes from my joints... and is much louder. I have developed a fear of falling in the shower. I am getting a little forgetful; like not remembering my glasses (just need them for reading at this point) so I keep extra pairs in both cars, or what I was about to do.

    I also worry about my ability to learn and adapt. We have a new car and it is full of mysteries. Heck, my Focus is full of them, too, but the Lincoln is even more complex. I used to help my brother-in-law with his occasional new car... now I need the help. And I have no one to ask! All of my friends are older than me and seem to have worse minds.

    And I do a lot of reminiscing. I don't know why that is, there is much more in my life I would like to forget than what I would like to remember. I spent a bit of time the other day trying to remember the names of past girlfriends... a bit like digging into ancient history... but, beyond a few special ones, I drew a blank pretty quickly. I guess that's understandable as I have been married to Faye for over 28 years now. At least, I have no trouble remembering her name. Don't worry, I wasn't stupid enough to say any of the ones I did remember out loud.

    I shouldn't complain, though, people tell me I should be grateful I am on the sunny side of the turf. Wish I could remember why.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    You Never Know

    I just heard the news that Robin Williams died. He was 63 and his death is being investigated as a possible suicide. It is being reported that he was suffering from depression.  The man was a comic genius but who knows what his personal demons were like.

    There is that old saw that goes "laughing on the outside but crying on the inside" and perhaps that was going on with Mr. Williams.  Who knows what motivates a man to make others laugh? Perhaps he had an inner sadness, a melancholy, that he struggled against and masked with humor.

    A friend of mine once claimed that there were no extroverts, just introverts pretending to be something they weren't. Maybe comics are funny because they are masking their pain?

    In any case, I will miss his zany humor, as I am sure most of you will also.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Keepin' The Passion

    I was listening to some music stored on my computer... blues, baby, blues.... by Irma Thomas.

    I often wonder why I like the blues. I think it's because the blues explain/exemplify passion to me. Passion is important; without it, you may as well be dead. Passion is the spark of any relationship. Of course, the most important relationship you can have is the one between yourself and the object of your affection.  Passion is not something you just conjure up... at least, not at my age. It either exists or it doesn't. It wasn't always that way.

    When I was young, I was passionate about a lot of things. Especially female humans. But also about life itself. Maybe that wasn't so good... it led me down some strange roads... but that is as it should be when you are young. I once met a man who seemed so staid, so constrained, that I once asked him if he was born at age 45. I may have misjudged him. I still had plenty of passion when I reached 45.

    Passion is good for you, it keeps your heart pumping. It allows you to overlook things that might otherwise chill your soul.

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

    Red, White, And Abused?

    I have been reading an interview which held some interesting views of the United States. And I began to wonder what others thought of this country. I think that it is difficult to get a clear picture of one's country from inside it. It is helpful, at some point, to get out of an area in order to assess its true nature.

    For me, that was one of the things the Navy provided. And it came at a time when many people were questioning their understanding of the U.S. It was the latter years of the 60's and we were engaged in an unpopular war. Few wars are all that popular. Ones where they began with an attack on our soil are certainly popular but we have had only a couple of those. Ones that are questionable regarding their purpose (and we have had a number of those) are very unpopular. 

    Having been involved in the Vietnam War has given me a different perspective than most. I wasn't especially patriotic when I enlisted and didn't enlist for that reason. I didn't think much of our president at the time and, frankly, didn't trust him. I enlisted for what you might call selfish reasons. I was pretty sure the draft would catch up to me after dropping out of community college in the Cocoa area. And I had no desire to go into the Army. I was pretty much adrift in life, not knowing what direction to take in life. the Navy offered me the chance to travel and, as I felt at that time, a closeness to the sea.

    Traveling to foreign countries gave me an opportunity to compare the country to what I had been brought up to see it as. It also allowed me to compare it to what others seemed to think of it. I met, along the way, draft dodgers as well as dogmatic patriots; all professed a love of country.

    Love of country, or patriotism, is often something we do not understand yet we feel it intensely. I saw, especially while I was in the Navy, more intense feelings for home states than I did about country. We do, I think, love our states more than we do our country as a whole.  But reading this interview made me examine those feelings. I call myself a Floridian but I wasn't born here. This dilutes that feeling of belonging and allows me to take the role of "outsider."  There are things about Florida that I do not like and I feel I can be objective about the state. I spent a number of years in California and became used to that state, even liked it, but there were many things about it that I did not like when I was there.

    I met young men in the Navy that came from just about every part of the country. All had a strong desire to return "home" when they got out... even if their stories of that home sounded troubled. I, too, returned "home" soon after I was discharged and even though I did not have a lot of good memories.

    But I did not grow up in a ghetto (as some did that I met and who returned to it after serving). My childhood was fairly benign; my problems were mostly with my siblings. It was my parents and the familiarity of "home" that brought me back for a short period. It was my first wife that brought me back to California. She was homesick.

    Today, the country is strongly divided and it seems to be worsening. A lot of people, especially the younger ones, seem to dislike the country in which they live. I wonder about that and why it is so.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Loco For Logos?

    I may have mentioned this before. I noticed a friend of mine wearing a Titleist logo hat and wondered just when things turned around. You see, my father had a bicycle shop when I was a youngster and he had some pens, as well as a few other trinkets, made with the name of the shop on them. He handed these out freely and had a box of them sitting on the counter by the cash register for anyone to take.

    These were common back then. Pens, small screwdrivers, various things of that nature... with with some business' name on them. You don't see these as often as you once did.

    One of the things you saw were ballcaps with a logo on them. They were handed out at picnics and other events. No charge to the anyone. That doesn't happen anymore. Now these things are sold. They cost the consumer who then takes them around and provides advertising for whatever business named on them.

    I don't, though. Because I refuse to pay for something that will advertise someone's business. I don't even tolerate a car dealer's logo or name on my car. I took the decal wit the local Ford dealer's name off my Focus the day I brought it home. The Lincoln may have had one but it was removed quickly.

    I remember that we purchased a Ford Tempo back in 1988 and it had a dealer name on it. I told the salesman I wanted it removed. At the time, these were affixed by drilling two holes in the trunk lid and locking them into it with nuts or with fasteners.  The salesman tried to get me to change my mind by saying the holes might leave a mark. To which I replied, "Then you'd better make sure they don't."

    He asked why I wanted it removed and I told him he could leave it on for the low price of $20 a month. And suggested that, in the future, the dealership ask before the car is sold if the customer was willing to advertise the dealership for free and then attach the logo only if the customer agrees.

    Obviously, that idea didn't catch on.

    Maybe if everyone refused to pay to advertise businesses, we'd get that old practice back again.

    Think about it.

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    I Muse, Therefore I Am

    I noticed a spray bottle on my bathroom counter that says it is a "bathroom cleaner."  It also says it "kills 99.9% of viruses & bacteria." I immediately thought, "What about that other .1%?"

    Doing a little of what I call research (meaning I googled something) didn't help. Does it take just one germ? Many? If "many" then how many? I would think enough to overcome the human body's natural defenses but there doesn't seem to be any kind of definitive answers as to how many that might be. I guess "how many" would vary wildly based on the efficacy of an individual's immune system.

    I went through a period of sickness (1997-1999) where I struggled against what was claimed to be (after I forced the doctors to re-think their diagnoses) a bacterial infection by the Pseudomonas "bug." It might not have been that, they might have still been wrong, I'll never know. Because, eventually, the disease abated and all I was left with is a lingering, intermittent, cough and apparently damaged lungs.  I have lately considered my problem to possibly have been fungal in origin.

    I often wonder why I am not germophobic (true name: mysophobic) after suffering from that issue for two years but I am not. Old habits die hard, I suppose. I was raised in the 50's (mostly) when we did not have nearly as many vaccinations available as we do today. Basically, our "vaccinations" were exposure to the normal childhood diseases... measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, mumps, chicken pox, and the like. Most of us survived these. And these illnesses created antibodies which allegedly continue to protect us from future exposures.

    We no longer need to do this, expose our children to some nasty disease, because of the miracle of vaccination. My own son was vaccinated for most of the childhood diseases. At least the vaccinations that were available at the time (early 70's), he still came down with the measles and it wasn't even weakened by his vaccination. He later got chicken pox from exposure to a childhood friend (there was no vaccination at the time) and promptly gave it to his mother who hadn't had it in her childhood. I somehow avoided it though neither I nor my mother could remember my having it as a child.

    And now we may have ebola to worry about.

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    Political Chicanery and Secret Agreements

    President Obama voiced "full support" for CIA Director John Brennan. The next step will likely be his firing since that is the way these things tend to go. Praise and Support followed by a sacking.

    His "crime"? Treating Senators like ordinary citizens. How dare he???  It turns out that "his agency inappropriately searched congressional computers." This upset Queen Diane Feinstein. Sorry, she's not the Queen... we don't have queens.

    But it turns out there is an unwritten agreement that the CIA will not spy on Congressional members. The rest of us are fair game apparently, however. No one seems to care that the government is collecting all kind of data on ordinary citizens. That's okay... just don't look closely at the royalty we call "elected officials."

    Most American citizens just want to be left alone by the government but that isn't happening, is it? Instead, our lives can be dug into and any secrets we might have should be open to a bureaucrat, or several, who deems it to be in the interests of National Security. But don't do the same with elected officials or they will drag you before a committee and demand answers. If you or I demand answers, we'd end up getting a colonoscopy of the worst kind.

    Aren't you fed up yet?

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    I Am In A Tizzy

    I don't know what a "tizzy" actually is but I I think I am in one. I suppose I should call it a "period of excess anxiety" since that is closer to what it is.

    Last Saturday, the garage access door from the house decided (yes, it does have a mind of its own) to mess up. I should not blame the door, though, it was the lock/latch mechanism which became balky. I went through the door to the garage and could not open it again to get back into the house. I had to open the big garage door and get back into the house through the front door. I called a locksmith, who could not come out until that day but promised he would be there Monday morning.

    Monday morning came and went and no locksmith showed up. So, Monday afternoon I called a different locksmith and he came out a couple of hours later. 

    The problem was with the latch piece itself (see drawing on the left). It jammed. It's not hard to fix but you need the door open in order to work on it. I did not have that luxury. I had a similar problem in Manassas on the townhouse we owned then and had to kick the door in to get in.

    The locksmith who showed up told me he sees the problem about once a month. I had him fix that door latch and do the same repair on two other doors which were occasionally jamming.

    At the same time, I was still trying to get the cell phone to link up seamlessly with the new car. And, to top it off, I had to run the golf group on Monday (27 players) when Pete (our esteemed leader) fell sick on Sunday. Normally, he would call on Joe to take over but Joe was out of town this week (still is) to attend his granddaughter's softball tournament in Alabama. I am not organized enough to do this efficiently. While I didn't make a mess of it, I can assure you it did not go smoothly.

    I also had to run the Wednesday golf group but not many go to that so it wasn't difficult. I will have to do it today (Friday) again but, again, not many show up for that day so it shouldn't be too hard. I really hope Pete will be feeling better come Monday. And that Joe returns soon!

    I don't like having to do any work since I am supposed to be retired.