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.
The gay marriage issue goes before the Supreme Court. That is expected and the decision is expected to have a tremendous impact on our society. Way back in 2008, I posted my personal feelings on the subject. I still think I have the best idea on this subject... but, then, I would, wouldn't I? This pending ruling could/should have a greater impact than "Roe v. Wade" which has fueled the rift between the abortion on demand and anti-abortion factions. They are both very emotional issues. I suspect this ruling will have an even greater impact and cause even more strife in the future.
I would like to say something about Hillary Clinton. But it does not matter what I say; if you support her, you will continue to do so; if you do not, you will continue to not (support her). I am opposed to dynasties and voting based on name recognition and that about sums up my feelings on the matter.
A new NASA initiative will help lead the search for signs of life beyond our solar system. I think we'll find it... but I expect no great civilizations, full of far-advanced technologies, nothing we might call "intelligent." I am not so sure it exists on this, our own, planet.
Before your eyes glaze over and you move on to another, more entertaining, blog... let me elaborate. I am not concerned about man-made climate change and I would like to explain why. For all the noise about CO2 emissions and how they may affect climate, we forget about the impact of great amounts of ash (from volcanos) and methane. Just one supervolcano eruption could essentially wipe out every human being on the planet. I won't even mention the possible impact of a giant asteroid or comet. A major undersea earthquake could release a huge pocket of methane which would alter the global climate immeasurably. And the changes would occur so rapidly that we would not have time to adapt. Climate change that happens over time (say, a hundred years or more) is something we could adapt to. If the planet warms, we can move inland (to adapt to rising sea levels), we can explore new methods to find (or make) fresh, potable, water. But change that happens relatively quickly will impact us rapidly and not give us time to adapt. The problem is that rapid changes caused by natural phenomena cannot be addressed by government, cannot be even prepared for. Government will be helpless, as will we. We might as well sacrifice virgins to the Gods for all the good it would do us. Government is, to me, an entity that seeks to increase its power and scope. In that aim, it seeks to increase its wealth (which comes from its people). It does this through various revenue enhancements (tax and fee increases) and through expanding its control over people. To justify these, it must have (or create) a reason. These are exploitations of our fears. One of the obvious fears is war, which is why we depend upon government to protect us from belligerent nations and terrorists. But we now have another one: climate change. I think government is exploiting our fears, mostly based on their own pronouncements of its long term impacts, about this. Call me a "denier" if you wish but I happen to believe that humans are the most adaptable creatures on the planet and strongly believe we could, and would, adapt to any changes in climate... so long as they did not happen rapidly.
I was reading my daily comic strips when I came across this:
Which prompted me to find out who Ken Ham is. Turns out that he is a staunch fundamentalist and the CEO of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. An interesting belief he has is that if you don't believe Genesis then you shouldn't believe in the New Testament. He once put it this way: [My father] was always very adamant about one thing - if you can't trust the Book of Genesis as literal history, then you can't trust the rest of the Bible. After all, every single doctrine of biblical theology is founded in the history of Genesis 1-11. My father had not developed his thinking in this area as much as we have today at Answers in Genesis, but he clearly understood that if Adam wasn't created from dust, and that if he didn't fall into sin as Genesis states, then the gospel message of the New Testament can't be true either. I find these people interesting. My brother-in-law is one of them. he doesn't believe the Earth is much more than 6,000 years old. Doesn't believe carbon dating is valid. I once had a conversation about this with him. I find you have to tread lightly when discussing something as important as a person's religious beliefs. Let's just say it didn't go well but it was amiable. We basically agreed to disagree. Of course he, as my late father-in-law did, thinks I am pretty much a heretic and beyond redemption.
Let me try to explain what I think net neutrality means: It is, to me, fair access to the Internet at a reasonable cost. By "fair access", I mean I get the speed I pay for. By "reasonable cost", I mean not excessive. Recently, the FCC ruled on something they call "Open Internet" and this is, apparently, what they mean by "net neutrality." They put it this way, "It means innovators can develop products and services without asking for permission."
I was not aware anyone had to ask permission. Were you? It further says, "The FCC's Open Internet rules protect and maintain open, uninhibited access to legal online content without broadband Internet access providers being allowed to block, impair, or establish fast/slow lanes to lawful content." By the way, what is "legal (or "lawful") content? The "fast/slow lanes" are important. Presumably, some ISP's were restricting speeds at various times, or were perceived to be. I suspect they weren't. I see no percentage in doing that. If you are on cable, you might experience slowness at times; slow in terms of what you expect to get. I noticed, for instance, that early evenings (say, around 6 PM) that I would see longer ping times and slower test speeds. But still within what I pay for. I pay for 12Megabits per second and that's what I get during these "slow" periods. I get over 18 Mbps and 6.1 Mbps most of the time. I am amazed, in a way, at those speeds. I started on the Internet using a modem connection at 14400 bps with a much slower upload speed of 2400 bps. Not what anyone would call fast. It's what my old BBS got and neither DSL nor cable was available where I lived. But I wonder if anyone feels as I do about the FCC deciding they could regulate the internet. I am not a fan of government regulation. I think it is bad. Perhaps because I used to work for AT&T, what was called a "regulated monopoly." I was working for them when we went through what was called "Divestiture" and the result of that. It was supposed to reduce costs of phone service. It did, for long distance calling, but not for local service; that went up rapidly. I do not think government regulation will improve service, internet speed, or provide "fair and equal access." I think it will make things worse, not better. I could be wrong. Let me know what you think.
As you might recall, Faye drives a Lincoln (my having a Mercedes Benz sounds like we are wealthy... let me assure you this is sadly not so). Repairs of such would likely be expensive. There is little reason to worry just yet, however, as the car came with a 4 year-60,000 mile warranty. On the other hand, we are far more likely to run out the time of that warranty then we are to run out the mileage.
Currently, she has something short of 2500 miles on the car. And it is only above, say, 1200 because we took a trip to Biloxi back in February. The odds of her putting more than 5,000 miles per year are miniscual. The other day we received an offer for an extended warranty from Lincoln and Faye asked me to inquire about it. Rather than just laugh and say "It's your car", I did as ordered.
In the end, we turned down the offer. It just isn't worth it. We can set aside money on a monthly basis to pay for any repairs after the warranty runs out and, basically, just self-insure. Logically, of course, we do not even need two cars. Yet we have them. Faye rarely goes further than the nearest supermarket (about 5 miles) and I rarely drive more than 10 miles. The problem is that we tend to need a car at the same time. We could work around that easily enough, I think, but neither of us is willing to give up the convenience yet.
The other choice we made had to do with the Sirius radio service. The Lincoln's complimentary subscription has run out and Sirius is starting to make offers. Now, some of the Lincoln's features rely an active subscription so they will no longer work. But we have learned that music can be loaded on a flash drive and listened to over the entertainment system (my Benz also has this feature). This gives us plenty of music to listen to and it is our preferred music, rather than what some service thinks would be desired. So we turned down (just ignored, really) the Sirius offer. If we spent a lot of time in the car, we might have been more amenable to it.
I do not understand paying for subscription music. From the first car I owned to the Benz, I have always thought of music as "free" (paid for, initially, by dealing with ads on the radio), choosing to load CD's, tapes, etc with music of my own choosing. Obviously, however, I am in the minority or companies like Sirius wouldn't exist.
Go to Google News, enter "free-range" in the search box and hit Enter; when I did that this morning at 8 AM, it said "about 2,540,000 results (0.31 seconds)." Interestingly, there were no references to anything about this situation on the main Google news page. In the unlikely case that you know nothing about this, let me summarise it for you: A group of parents follow a "free-range" parenting philosophy (basically how I grew up). When I was 5 years old, I would go out to play and not come home for many hours. Not all the time but often. Granted, I lived in a small town. The town might have boasted some 4000-5000 people at the time I lived there (I tried to get population figures for the early 1950's but was unsuccessful). I would play in the woods near my home (about a block away) or wander into town, or play down by the railroad tracks. I was never required to get permission to go anywhere nor was I required to have an older sister or adult accompany me. Strangely, I survived that childhood and so did the kids I knew at the time. At least I never heard of any of them dying or being abducted but I suppose it is possible. After my family moved to south Florida (to a small city of ~15000), I roamed quite widely still. Mostly to the park nearby (Greynolds Park) or around town at first. But, by the time I turned 14, I was hitchhiking all over the area; from the beaches to Miami to the south and as far as Ft. lauderdale to the north. After I began driving, there were virtually no limits where I could, or would, go. Granted, these were earlier, and presumably safer, times... mostly deemed safer because we did not have 24 hour news channels eager to report news of even the most obscure events from all over the country. We rode bicycles without helmets (our biggest problem was getting our right pantleg caught in the chain), climbed just about every tree that had reasonably low branches (fell out of a few, too), got into rock fights and BB gun fights, swam in ponds and "rockpits" (post quarry lakes), and just generally were unsupervised and took risks accordingly. So now we have parents being vilified (and even suspected of child neglect and endangerment) because they allow their children to do what was once the norm.
I was sent an email by someone who was, basically, advertising a site. Yet, I am willing to forego my usual ban of such things (I usually send them an email explaining how I do not like such things) and pass this one on to readers of my blog.
I do this because the the subject matter may be of interest to my readers, whether they can remember those years or not. The site speaks of toys I and many others had when we were young. It neglected to cover some I remember (the WHAM-O line) but it did bring back many memories.
Here's the site (I apologize for the possible pop-up ads you may encounter).
Rand Paul has officially announced he is running for the Republican nomination and was immediately attacked by a number of people, both within and outside the Republican Party. I understand the criticism but I do not understand the attacks.
No one seems to think he stands that proverbial snowball's chance to get the nomination, much less win the general election. Most predict that he will fail quite quickly... and I tend to agree. This country is not ready for a Rand Paul and, I'd say, Rand Paul is not ready to lead the country.
The current president has, I think, put us in a deep hole; especially internationally. I think he did so with the best of intentions but we are still in a hole and I think it is very deep. And it is going to take a special kind of leader to get us out of it.
Meanwhile, I have other things on my mind. The most important of these is ebook formats and proprietary e-readers. Faye purchased a Kindle Fire and I think she is having "buyer's remorse." One of the problems is that Amazon appears to want complete (or almost complete) control of ebook purchases. I do not like that. I am an "open source" kind of guy; I want to be able to have multiple choices for purchasing anything. And there seems to be choices other than Amazon for her but many are more scam than real. One of them seems to just offer access to books that are out of copyright... for $20 a month. Heck, she can just get those from the Gutenberg Project. I go there often but she wants books from contemporary authors and is not interested in the classics.
I already tried to convert a purchased short story ("Second Son") using Calibre but it failed due to copyright protection. Unless we can find an app for the Kindle that reads .epub format, there's no way I can share that with her Kindle.
You know the rule: If the wife is not happy, the home is not a happy place.
... that it took as long as it has. I am talking about how this country is today. We have been a representative Republic since 1789 (ratification of the Constitution) yet it took many decades before the politicians figured out how to "game" the system.
I am of the belief that every political system eventually gets corrupted. I am not sure when ours did but I am fairly sure it did not happen immediately after ratification of the Constitution. Call the corruption of a government entropy of a sort; a gradual decline into disorder.
It happened to the Roman Republic (which we would not recognize as a republic but as an oligarchy) wherein the rise of Imperial Rome was a symptom. Rome was already in decline before the rise of Julius Caesar and Rome was already an empire by then.
In my opinion, the politicians always learn to manipulate the people to their benefit in any system. It's just easier in monarchies and dictatorships because they start out as corrupt systems where rule from above is the norm. Republics and democracies take a little longer.
In our system, it might have been a hundred years or maybe a bit more or less. John Wilkes Booth considered President Lincoln to be a tyrant... which led him to partipate in a conspiracy to assassinate him. That would mean less than 80 years but I think it took longer. possibly because our system was more complex than most at the time. Or simpler (you might want to think about that). Perhaps you might consider the rise of the monopolies (the Robber Barons) but I don't. I see the rise of the Robber Barons as a testament to taking advantage of the free enterprise system. I have heard some of my liberal friends complain that the rich white men who were behind the founding of this nation designed a system that would ensure their prosperity. If that was true then the Washington family and the Jefferson family and the rest would still be powerful both politically and socially.
Instead we have the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Roosevelts, and the Bushes on top; the major players. Things change in a dynamic society and one of them is the ruling families.
The politicians learned that Americans tend to vote on name recognition and that we tend to be selfish. That is, we want things from government and, once we get something, we do not want government to take it away. So politicians do their best to cater to those desires. And we, the voters, tend to not vote against our self interests even if we know the best interests of the country are counter to them.
So Social Security must stay solvent and Medicare must not fail and any politician who says otherwise is not trusted.
When I was young and smart and (contradictorily) in the Navy, I was befriend by another young man, Herb. Herb (whom I have written of before) was a man of much knowledge and intelligence. He had aced both the GCT (General Classification Test) and ARI (Arithmetic test), he claimed at some point of our knowing each other and I had no reason to disbelieve him. He was quite smart. And also quite out of place in the military.
When I was in boot camp, I was told that the "smart" guys were almost always the problematic ones, the ones who "could not, or would not, get with the program." Smart people tend, in my view, to flout authority. So I agreed with the sentiment. The problem is that the military requires conformity above individualism. It's the nature of the beast. Unfortunately, the times called for a large military force (embroiled, as we were, in Vietnam) and so the military needed bodies and didn't much care if they were very smart or very stupid; they thought they could mold them all into what was needed. They couldn't, of course, but they would just muster out the misfits with some kind of general discharge and ignore that their system had made a mistake.
Herb was definitely a mistake for the military. So was, coincidentally, my father. And, perhaps, so was I but I managed to get through my enlistment and get that honorable discharge... as did my father. What is this all about? It's about Trevor Noah, the next "anchor" of the Daily Show, replacing Jon Stewart. Mr Noah is currently under attack for some tweets he made over the years. They were not very Politically Correct. He managed to insult women, Jews, and a few others. Mr. Noah hails from South Africa. I am pretty sure he is smart and, therefore, has trouble with societal constraints. I can overlook his missteps as I have overlooked my own. But will the public?
I am speaking of the Indiana law recently passed by the Indiana state legislature and signed by Governor Pence. Setting aside the fact that his hair looks like it was painted on, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was attacked immediately for allowing discrimination against Gay and Lesbian citizens. It was hailed by many religious groups as a step forward for religious rights. I have no idea which side is right. From Pence's and the legislature's perspective, it merely allows business owners to use religious beliefs as a defense if they are sued for discrimination. The fact that there has not yet been a successful lawsuit for discrimination against any business in the state seems unimportant. Since I am neither Gay, Lesbian, or religious perhaps I have no dog in this fight. There were a lot of references to the Arizona law of a similar type that was vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona and to the fact that 19 other states and the federal government have similar laws on the books. I wonder if there is a need for such a law since the First Amendment should hold sway. Civil cases are strange events, however, and different rules can apply. Personally, I think businesses should be blind except when it comes to profit. That is, they should welcome any and all customers and not concern themselves with their religious beliefs and how they impact how they feel about the customers' lifestyles. On the other hand, I think they have every right to be opposed to those lifestyles. It's just that acting on that opposition would not be something I would like to see. I once opposed the admission of openly gay (or Lesbian) into the military. I thought it would be disruptive. I especially wondered about soldiers or sailors putting up pinups of semi-clad figures until I realized that the straights do that all the time. And the answer is to ban all such things. Of course, that would be unenforcible but it would limit it somewhat. Having last been in the military some 46 years ago, I have no idea what might matter to the modern soldier or sailor. In my day, it was all about the legitimacy of the Vietnam War and sexual orientation was not an issue.
By the way, today is April Fool's Day but the above is no joke.