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.
Not having much on my mind of late, I perused the headlines at Google News for some ideas. Not true... I have lots on my mind; not the least of which is my ever worsening golf game. But this is what grabbed my attention:
Big snowstorm in the northeast. We have been hearing about this for a few days now. We in Florida are fascinated by snowstorms... because we don't have them.... so we can rationalize spending those hot and muggy our summers we have to live through. Our "snowbirds" bring them up whenever we complain about the cold mornings (it was 47 this morning when I woke up).
"Yeah, well.... at least you don't have to wade through 3 feet of snow to get to the garage to get the snow shovel so you can dig your way to your car!"
"No, I don't... and neither do you since you spend the winters here filling up our golf courses and restaurants."
But we love our winter residents, they make it possible for many of our businesses to survive through the summers. It's a love/hate thing.
Let's get back to that snowstorm. I was once a young boy living in a small town on Long Island in New York. I don't recall a White Christmas when I lived there (I had to live in Jacksonville, FL, to experience one) but I do recall looking out my bedroom window (on the 2nd floor) and seeing 2 to 3 feet of snow on the street and on the lawns of all our neighbors one cold and windy and very gray day while waiting for my father to come home from work. I don't know why that is such a strong memory but it is what comes to mind whenever I muse about winter.
The other thing I noticed was this one about a star system called Kepler-444. I am fascinated by space and the possibilities of life elswhere in our galaxy. Not enough to be well versed on the subject, just enough not to think UFOs and space alien visits are real. I will leave that up to the more deranged of us. You see, I think that there may be life on other planets somewhere (maybe a lot of somewheres) but it is more likely to be non-intelligent... less human-like and more lower animal-ish.
I may have written about "Satoshi Kanazawa" before. He is an "evolutionary psychologist." That's a fancy name for someone who tries to explain human psychology in evolutionary terms. He writes a blog for Pyschology Today (a magazine that intrigued me once upon a time). He got into a bit of trouble some years ago for writing a post that seemingly demeaned women, something about beautiful women, I believe. Weirdly, I received an email from Pyschology Today on Saturday in which a number of his posts were laid out with links. This one was very interesting. In it, there is a link to an earlier article which might intrigue you. I do not know why PT sent me this, I haven't been to their site in many years but perhaps they have some "bots" that figured that out and send intriguing emails to re-capture one's interest.
Reading various analyses of the president's State Of The Union (SOTU) speech, I began to notice something. It was hard to see it in the murk and fog that such speeches create but it was there. What I noticed was what I think is indicative of the schism that exists in my country... Those on the left believe that the wealthy control the country while those on the right think it is the poor (or, more accurately, those catering to the poor) who runs the country... The vast majority seem to wonder if anyone is running the country. Examples... the Republicans and Democrats may be ready to join hands, once again, and come up with more of their devious, deceptive strategies, tactics, techniques and procedures for favoring Wall Street and the top 1%, while successfully, once again, scr*wing the middle class, the American people and our nation for another 30 + years. [Comment in the Washington Post] But on Main Street large numbers of Americans have dropped from the job market, middle-class wages are stagnant, and even larger numbers of Americans are now dependent on some form of government subsidy for disability, jobless benefits or food stamps. [Another comment in the WaPo] I would quote something by the vast and muddled majority but they do not seem to leave comments. I am conservative now but I was once liberal and, for a number of years, tried being middle-of-the-road. Unfortunately, that meant getting run over fairly often. I got tired of laying there crumpled, bruised, and bloody. There was a lot of talk about the "middle class" in the president's SOTU speech and got to wondering just who that is. I was born into a lower middle class family, I believe, with parents who aspired to move up a little. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Not because they didn't work hard but because, as my mother often said, "Life isn't fair, get over it." She dreamt of riches and often tried various schemes to get them but which never worked out. And, so, I wait patiently for Faye to win the Lotto...
Last night, the president of the US gave a speech before Congress, it is a ritual played out each year called The State Of The Union speech. Since I am writing this on Tuesday, I have not heard what he said. But I will listen in and I will read the various news articles claiming to analyze it accurately.
They won't be accurate, they will be biased... either for or against what he proposed... and those on the left and right will argue about what he said, how he said it, and whether it was a good or bad speech. I really don't care. No, really, I don't care.
He has already stated that he will veto legislation giving the go-ahead to the Keystone XL pipeline project. The interesting thing about that pipleine project is that it is not a "pipeline down through the center of the country to the country to the Gulf of Mexico", as I heard it descibed. It is merely a shortcut that comes down from Canada through Montana and South Dakota into Nebraska where it will tie into an existing pipeline which takes it down to the Gulf.
The fuss is about an aquifer through which this section will pass.
It has been litigated to death, it has been demagogued to death, I am sick of the politics of it. But I suspect I will hear even more about it. Here's a link to the map of it from the Washington Post, decide for yourself.
I suspect the proposed section will be built and then the fight will continue on...
The president is alleged to be asking for more taxes on the higher incomes while extending some tax breaks for the so-called "middle class." He will also be asking for government to pay for the first two years of college, for those who qualify, and who can demonstrate a need. When any president says the government should pay for, he means the taxpayers. Because the only money the government has is what we taxpayers give it.
Been enjoying the relatively low gas prices? The Powers-That-Be in Washington have taken notice and are contemplating an increase in the gasoline taxes. It seems that the low prices translates into lower revenue to the government. Here, let me offer a quote from one article: Debate over the gas tax is picking up in Washington as policymakers prepare to hammer out a federal transportation bill before May 31, when funding will run out. Tax-hike proponents say that raising gas and diesel fees could help cover some of the $100 billion in additional revenues needed to fund the six-year transportation plan shortfall. They add that lower fuel prices should give lawmakers political cover to lift the tax above 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel — the prices set by Congress in 1993. Perfect! Why should we get a break? A couple of teenagers who went on a crime spree in the southeast were captured in Florida. An 18-year-old boy and his 13-year-old girlfriend stole some vehicles, cashed (or tried to) some stolen checks, and may have committed a few burglaries along the way. Next, they will get a lesson in legal proceedings. I predict the girl will claim she was kidnapped. Meanwhile, in Niger, churches were burned and people were killed as members of that "peaceful" religion of Islam became outraged over images of the Prophet Mohammed. They also rioted in Pakistan over that. As I said before, this will not cease (or even abate) until the alleged moderate Muslims demand it. And they will not demand it until the rest of the world treats Islam as a destructive ideology. And people wonder why I do not view the future in a more positive way...
But why would I? I have been, for most of my life, a loner. I think of myself as independent, as sufficiently resourceful enough to deal with whatever life throws at me. I have rarely wanted to rely on anyone else. It is, of course, impossible to do so and it is a conceit to even think it is possible. I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island. And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries. Some of you, many of you, will recognize those lyrics by Paul Simon. I first heard that song when I was dating a young woman in a place called Lomita, California. I immediately identified with it. It told me that my self-isolation was not real. But, deep inside, I already knew it. Still, I persisted in believing it. It had become habit, a part of me. At the time, I was in the Navy and assigned to a ship, a destroyer, with around 300 sailors. Yet, I saw myself as apart from them; a part of a crew and separate from them at the same time. And now I wonder about the radical Islamists who have joined (and continue to join) ISIL and al Qaeda and other groups of that ilk. I think they too feel isolated and alone in the world and want to become a part of something large and which has purpose. But what I do not understand is why they willingly submit to a philosophy that denies them any freedom. The other day I watched an episode of Criminal Minds which involved a cult. It brought these thoughts to mind. I have only known one person who joined a cult and it was a benign one which allowed her to leave when she wished to. The dangerous ones do not let anyone go and they are rare.
But, yet, people join them. Some of these joiners help keep those who want to leave in the cult. I think that is what radical Islamic groups are: cults. They are not very different than the radical Christian cults except that violence appears to be the purpose of the Islamic ones. They profess a desire for a caliphate. A caliphate is nothing more than a dictatorship, as is any monarchy. What I truly do not understand is why anyone would desire to be ruled by a dictator.
A useful trait, charm. Very handy in social situations. But, in spite of my sister running an informal "charm school" back in the mid sixties, I'm afraid it is something you are either born with or develop unknowingly (I strongly believe it is genetic in nature).
My family had it. My mother certainly did. Everyone she met adored her. My brother has it. My sister had it. Even my gruffy and stern father had it... which explains his success at being a salesman. I might even have it. I don't know. I do know that people have befriended me even though I pretty much ignored them. Girls seemed to like me. I never understood quite why. Teachers liked me even though I caused them trouble. Throughout my life, people wanted to mentor me. I never understood why... I am cross, surly, and generally a disagreeable person yet people wanted to be friends with me.
I do not know why they did. I wouldn't want someone like me around.
And then there are people I call the "anti-charmists." These are the people you just can't seem to like no matter how hard you try. I have only met a few of them in my life... probably because that trait would die out pretty quickly in evolution. Even so, when you meet them, they make an impression on you if only because you instantly try to find a way to get away from them. At parties they are the boors. They only get first dates or attract only other anti-charmists. They do not become successful because the odds are stacked against them even if they happen to be talented.
Today there are thousands in the streets, dancing and partying, in celebration and remembrance of those who died at the hands of Islamic terrorists a few days ago. Tomorrow? Perhaps a few hundred who will be working toward doing something to prevent the next atrocity.
We know what has to happen. All Muslims must rise up and stop the relative few who make up the radicals. I am serious in that but I do not think it will happen. They have no incentive to do so. So I propose that the world's leaders stand up and denounce Islamist ideology. Make Muslims ashamed to be Muslim. If we refuse to do this, there will be no end to this kind of terror. The average Muslim must be given a reason to turn on the radicals or it will not change. And that can only be done through shaming.
Forgive me for being cynical but I don't think we'll see massive changes because of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters Wednesday. The first thing we learned is that strict firearms laws do not stop criminals from getting their hands on them. France has quite a number of firearms restrictions and the weapons used in the attack violated them. Some reports stated that the first police on the scene were unarmed. I do not know that these were accurate since Wiki says they have a standard issue of semi-auto handguns. Clearly, however, the police were out-gunned by the bad guys who reportedly had AK-47s (or look-alikes) and at least one RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade).
I am not going to point fingers at gun law philosophy, though, it is pointless. What I want to concentrate is on terrorism and what can be done to combat it. Better intelligence can help as well as increased surveillance but these are problematic in free societies. The purpose of terrorism is to make the public afraid enough to tolerate police state tactics and governance. At least at first and then use that to foment unrest and rebellion against the state. That unrest and rebellion should provide opportunity for the terrorists to inject themselves into the fight (as ISIL has done in Syria) and provide them a chance to take over in any new regime.
Every so often, something drops into my email inbox which informs and impresses me. This one did those things. It's an intellectual argument which brought me information I did not have (or, possibly, had but was forgotten). That information was concerning how the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified.
The 14th is one of those amendments which had good intentions but unintended consequences. Ratified in 1868, I am sure it was popular among the states which had fought against the rebellion (the Civil War was a rebellion) and not popular in those states which had been in rebellion. In order to end Federal military occupation, a state that had been in rebellion must rejoin the Union. And, in order to rejoin the Union, the states must ratify the 14th Amendment. It was coercion by force of arms, plain and simple. It granted power to the federal government that it did not previously have. One of the things it did was enforce the concept of the superior power of the federal government. And it weakened the concept of individual sovereign states voluntarily belonging to a central government. It did this under the guise (noble as it is and was) of extending basic rights of citizenship to all (at the time, male) citizens.
Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868. Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
The Big Question in the news articles seems to be "Can the GOP govern?" And, to read the comments and the tone of the articles I've read, the answer is "No!" All this tells me is that the Left is angry about losing the mid-term elections last year. Of course, the GOP can govern... Maybe not in the way the left wants but they can definitely govern. And, perhaps, that is just what we need and deserve. I see a lot of comments fretting about the future but these commenters shouldn't be so afraid. We do pretty much what we want in this country, in spite of government trying to control us. And that, my friends, is what the Founding Fathers expected and hoped for. I understand the fear on the Left. No one to tell them what to do, to comfort them, to take care of them... Why, it's like losing one's parents! But government is not supposed to be the parent for its people... We fought against that concept during the Revolution. But the ensuing 238 years has changed us into something else; from independent, pioneering, people who sought challenges into people who want the government to replace the parents they always wanted. And all the while demanding dignity and respect.
Monday, Monday, so good to me Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would be Oh, Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee That Monday evening, you would still be here with me Monday, Monday, can't trust that day Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way Oh, Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be Oh, Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me? Every other day, every other day Every other day of the week is fine, yeah But whenever Monday comes But whenever Monday comes You can find me crying all of the time Monday, Monday, so good to me Monday morning, it was all I hoped it would be But Monday morning, Monday morning couldn't guarantee That Monday evening, you would still be here with me Every other day, every other day Every other day of the week is fine, yeah But whenever Monday comes But whenever Monday comes You can find me crying all of the time Monday, Monday, can't trust that day Monday, Monday, it just turns out that way Oh, Monday, Monday, won't go away Monday, Monday, it's here to stay Oh Monday, Monday Oh Monday, Monday
The above words mean more to those in the workforce than they do to this retired Boomer. But I still recall the feeling.
And, of course, I am stunned. But, after reading this, I found myself nodding in agreement and seeing many comments that did not appear to agree with the author that "the more things change, the more they remain the same."
Perhaps it's because I see it all around me, that I saw it in my (almost exclusively) liberal friends in the 60's and see it still today. I thought it was the hypocrisy of the Left then (and it was that) but have come to believe that it is part of all our natures. You will see it in the comments but I urge you to read and ponder the article first before moving onto the commentary following it.
Things will not change until we recognize that "The fault, dear Brutus,is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."[Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"]
I've been thinking about the Native Americans lately. I like to call them "First Americans" since they appear to have arrived a bit over 13,000 years ago from Asia. There's a couple of theories about that migration: one says they came from northern Asia via a "land bridge" into what is now Alaska and North America and then eventually into Central and South America, another suggests they reached South America from the Southeast Asian region and many migrated northward into Central America eventually while the North American tribes were made up of the descendants of those who used the land bridge. Essentially, we don't really know their origins.
We do know that their downfall began with the arrival of the Europeans because they appeared to be thriving until then. The largest and most advanced tribes seemed to have been in South and Central America and who built great cities. These were not what we think of when talking about the American Indian. We mostly conjure up images of the tribes of North America where great civilizations didn't evolve.
Contrary to the typical folklore, these North American tribes were not peaceful, attuned to nature, peoples. They warred among themselves and some even took slaves as they massacred their rivals, much as the Europeans did in the Old World. We used their animosties and rivalry against them, something I think we learned to do over centuries as we divided Europe into regions that eventually became countries (or split into them).
The migration theories are based on the concept, I believe, that man first evolved in Africa, migrating out into a vast unpopulated world. That's as good a theory as any I have heard and DNA studies seem to bear it out. We had rivals, called Neanderthals, whom we eventually displaced and they became extinct.
That makes me wonder if there hadn't been a truly indigenous species on the American continents that the Asian emigres displaced. So far, we have found no trace of such a people.
We do know that the peoples of the Americas were primitive, not having advanced beyond the level of our Stone Age. This left them vulnerable to the advanced technology of the Europeans.