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, March 31, 2012

Technical support woes

This is not a political post, unless you want to call it the politics of technical support.

Having done some technical support, I may be a tad more sensitive to the dynamics of the interchange between user and support. "May" might be too weak a word. I really hate being lied to... even if those folks do not realize or believe they are lying. All too often, support people are following a script. Face it, we users create most of our own problems. We make a change, probably without thinking much about it, and something breaks. However, so do the various sites all over the internet.

Currently, Blogger has changed the interface to our blogging experience. And I am struggling to become comfortable with it. I do not like the new interface, I was fine with the old one. The new post editor is a bit buggy. One example is hitting enter after changing or adding a sentence jumps the cursor down to the bottom of the post draft. I have reported this but haven't seen it fixed yet. It's annoying but not life-threatening. One change I am having a little trouble getting used to is the scheduling options. It used to be a simple click on "Post options" on the bottom of the editor's border, now it is to the right side on a menu as "Schedule". But the result is the same and I will eventually get used to it.

But this screed is not about Blogger's changes, it's about Scottrade. For several years, the login was through and my desktop shortcut used that URL without a problem and Firefox happily populated the login data smoothly. And then one day, it didn't. So, after struggling with it for a couple of days, I sent a query off to Scottrade's technical support about it. And what did I get in return? Denial of any changes at their end, a hint that others were suddenly experiencing the same problem, and wholly unhelpful tips to completely stop my saving of password data. Finally, on day 3, I get an email that tells me I am probably trying to login at the above URL when I should be going through a different one and that I should call their tech support number to talk to a tech live to resolve my problem.

That was all the information I needed to resolve it on my own. I had no need to talk live with a tech, I just had to change the URL the shortcut used and tell Firefox to "remember" it. Once that was done, the problem was dealt with.

But why is it like pulling teeth to get the answer to a problem?  It is not just Scottrade's tech support, it is almost every tech support I have come across in several years. Even when I would call our company tech support, something known as NESAC, I would go through a long period of re-doing the same things I had already done and get wildly incorrect answers to support questions.

One of the problems we had went on for almost 2 years. Several of us worked on the problem with support many times with no resolution. I had decided the problem was a software bug and that it would eventually be corrected by an update to the system's operating system or diagnostic software. After many service interruptions following the advice of our technical support, the problem was fixed... by a software update to the system.

There were many more instances. Long term, much reported, problems would eventually get a response of "Oh yeah, we know about that... don't know when the fix will be available."

I am glad I no longer do tech support, or even tech work, for a living.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Did you read about...

I have tried to avoid reading newspapers, news magazines, or watching news on the TV. I have failed repeatedly and backslid every time. I can't help, I am a news junkie. Yes, "junkie" is the proper word here. What else so accurately describes a person who engages in an activity that is unhealthy both mentally and physically? What else has the right negative connotation?

While watching or reading the news, I get angry, outraged and just generally upset. You might say I get my panties in a bunch but I rarely wear those anymore.

I am trying... very hard... to be more calm these days. I want to gain control over my temper. It's a difficult thing to do, though, with so many outrages apparent these days.

I grew up with the Cold War. I grew up in a house where newspapers were read, where comments were made about the stories; mostly comments like "Hmmpf!" and "I thought so!" plus a few mumbled "idiots!" and so on... and mostly by my father, my mother was indifferent at best and quite willing to leave commentary to my father. I wanted to be informed and soon graduated from reading the funny papers to reading the front section of the news... though I must admit I started with the comics before  looking at page 1 and still do that today. When I actually read a newspaper. Which is rare.  I get my news primarily online, from the internet.

The internet has changed the way we get our news but it hasn't really changed the news that much. What it has done is shape how we think about the news stories, though. I think we get more opinion embedded into the news stories now. And, when we don't, we seek it out.

Not sure that's for the better.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I hear it even today

You know how a song pops into your head for no particular reason and just festers there? The other day, I kept hearing the first line and the refrain to "Midnight Special" rattling around up there. I am not sure whose version. Probably this one by Credence Clearwater Revival...

CCR - The Midnight Special

I started wondering what it meant, what it referred to by the refrain:

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me,
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me,
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me,
Let the Midnight Special shine a everlovin' light on me.

There are, I have read, two interpretations of those lines. In both, the "Midnight Special" is a train, but in one interpretation the prisoner is hoping for the train to take him away from prison, to freedom. In the second interpretation, it's a desire to walk in front of the train and be killed.

I had not thought of that song for many years and, in the past, never considered the meaning of the refrain. But when the song popped into my head recently, I immediately thought the second interpretation was the right one.

You see, prisoners are never released late at night. And hearing (and seeing the light from a train shining into your cell) a train while in prison is a reminder that you are not free, that you aren't going anywhere. I can much more easily see the train to be a metaphor for death, for eternal freedom from a hard life.

Trains are mournful things referenced in many folk songs and run throughout the Blues genre. Maybe Johnny Cash caught the feeling best in "Folsum Prison Blues"...

I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' 'round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine,
Since, I don't know when,
I'm stuck in Folsom Prison,
And time keeps draggin' on,
But that train keeps a-rollin',
On down to San Antone.

Johnny Cash - Folsom Prison Blues

Nothing like a train's mournful whistle (if you can go back to the old steam engine days, the diesel engine's horn is just not as sad) to signify loss and pain... and the promise of freedom from it all.

Maybe it's because I grew up near the tracks. My earliest years were spent in a house only a couple of blocks from the Long Island RR. And after we moved to Florida, we were no more than a mile from the Florida East Coast Railway line. In Florida, the trains were all diesel by the time we moved there but in the early morning, before dawn, even that horn sounded forlorn to me as I lay there in my bed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Under the "Things which make me go crazy" heading

I was perusing the news on the internet and came across an article that intrigued me. Ok, the headline intrigued me. It was the headline that grabbed my attention.

19 Signs That America Has Become A Crazy Control Freak Nation Where Almost Everything Is Illegal [link]

The article began with this:

Do you think that you are free?  Most Americans would still probably answer “yes” to that question, but is that really the case?  In the film Edge of Darkness, Mel Gibson stated that “everything is illegal in Massachusetts”.  Well, the same could pretty much be said for the United States as a whole.

And went on to list the 19 reasons...

The following are 19 signs that America has become a crazy control freak nation where almost everything is illegal….

#1 One California town is actually considering making it illegal to smoke in your own backyard.

#2 In Louisiana, a church was recently ordered to stop giving out water because it did not have a permit to do so.

#3 In the United States it is illegal to operate a train that does not have an “F” painted on the front.  Apparently without that “F” we all might not know where the front of the train is.

#4 In many U.S. states is it now illegal to collect rain that falls from the sky on to your own property.

#5 In America today it is illegal to milk your cow and sell the milk to your neighbor.  If you do this, there is a good chance that federal agents will raid your home at the crack of dawn.

#6 In Washington D.C. it is illegal not to recycle cat litter.

#7 It is illegal to give a tour of the monuments in Washington D.C. without a license.

#8 In the United States it is illegal to sell natural cures for cancer – even if they work.

#9 In the state of Massachusetts it is illegal to deface a milk carton.

#10 In the state of Alabama, bear wrestling is completely illegal.

#11 In Fairbanks, Alaska it is illegal to give alcoholic beverages to a moose.

#12 In Lake Elmo, Minnesota it is illegal to sell pumpkins or Christmas trees that are grown outside city limits.

#13 There is a federal law that makes it illegal to be “annoying” on the Internet.

#14 If you register with a false name on MySpace or Facebook you could potentially “spend five years in federal prison“.

#15 In Hazelwood, Missouri it is illegal for little girls to sell girl scout cookies in the front yards of their own homes.

#16 All over the United States lemonade stands run by children are being shut down because they do not have the proper permits.

#17 In Florida, it is illegal to bring a plastic butter knife to school.

#18 In San Juan Capistrano, California it is illegal to hold a home Bible study without a “conditional use permit“.

#19 In the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania it is illegal to make even a single dollar from a blog unless you buy a $300 business license.

The article has links to each of the stories.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dependecy is terrible

I hate my cable company.

It's weird how dependent I have become upon the internet.  I am not so dependent as to need a 24/7 connection personally. I don't have a smart phone with 3G or 4G, don't text, don't Tweet... hours and hours go by where I am unreachable and  unconnected. But when I want to get on the internet, when I am home and I want to look something up (like, say, the lyrics to "The Midnight Special") I want that internet to be right there waiting for me. And it usually is.

Lately, though, it hasn't been there. Which means I am almost completely cut off from the "hive". Not all day, just every freaking morning for the last 5 days. I wake up around 6 or 6:30 AM and the internet is not available. It would be a minor inconvenience if it was not for the fact that my phone service is piped through it. What if I needed to make an emergency phone call at 7 AM? I have to run out to my car and grab my cell phone and hope that the signal is strong enough (it often isn't) to make a call.

Fortunately, no emergencies have cropped up for some time. I have not fallen after getting up and landed on the dust gathering stair stepper near my bed. I have not had a heart attack (I understand you must actually have a heart to suffer an attack) nor has any other medical emergency occurred.

Still... it can be a concern.

So it has merely been an inconvenience. I cannot do my morning jigsaw puzzle or crossword puzzles before I go play golf. I must wait to peruse Google News. I cannot check my email. I cannot read other blogs. I must wait.

And I don't like it.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A small family gathering

I went to visit my aunt the other day. Not an easy thing to do, she lives most of the year in Farmingdale in New York. But she spends a few months in south Florida each year and I got a call from her last weekend. She'll be headed back north at the end of April. But even though she is in south Florida, she's not close by. She's about a 2 1/2 hour ride on 2 lane highways away from here. It's a trip I haven't made in a long time. Years. Several years.

Dee-dee (as we call her) lost her husband (my mother's half-brother) 3 years ago from cancer. Ronnie was the love of her life. And she still grieves. But she's starting to come out of it, even started dating a little. At 75, she looks like a woman in her 60's. Still trim, active, and beautiful.

I think she called because she's thinking about not coming down again. It's a problem for her. Ronnie and she had a small trailer that sits in a mobile home park down near Boynton Beach. Ronnie did most of the work opening it up for the winter visit and they would come down in October, go back for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's and then come back down again in mid-January and stay until the end of April. She still has the trailer, of course, but she's thinking of selling it and staying year round in New York. She has 4 children and they all have families (large ones) and she misses them when she's down here.

I had a lot of uncles and aunts, three sets on Dad's side, 6 on  Mom's. I saw more of those on my mother's side than Dad's. Dad wasn't close to his brothers and sister's but Mom was close to hers. And we went to her mother's place quite often for family gatherings plus the usual Holidays of Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.

All of those memories rush back when you talk to a relative you haven't seen in several years.

And we talked. For hours. Through a lunch, through the afternoon, until Faye and I had to get started back on our trek across the state.

We talked about family, about life, about loss, about taxes (yeah, weird...) and just about everything.

And then it was the long drive in the dark across the state again; listening to the oldies MP3 CD I have in my car. 250 songs from the 50's and early 60's. 43 songs later, we pulled into the garage.

Another journey back in time was over.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Yesterday I posted about Facebook and brought up a story about a man in Indonesia (Alexander Aan) who was arrested on January 20 for posting "God does not exist" on a Facebook page.

Those of us who live in "free" countries are pretty naive, a bit spoiled, and do not understand what it is like to live in a truly oppressive nation. We think we do, we protest against all kinds of injustices, we want to testify before Congress because the university we chose to attend does not include prescription contraceptive coverage [link] but it is truly a tempest in a tea pot compared to Mr. Aan's story. Mr Ann has been beaten and arrested and may end up spending up to 5 years in prison plus there are powerful groups in Indonesia (his country) calling for his beheading. Ms Fluke was called a "slut."

Recently, an unarmed young (17 years old) black man was killed by a Neighborhood Watch captain and the police did not, and have not yet, arrested the man who killed him. A tragedy, no doubt. I have been reading about this case and I believe I understand why the police did not arrest him. Mr. Zimmerman (the shooter) made more than a few mistakes that night before he fired his gun. He followed the young man, he confronted the young man, and (he alleges) ended up in a scuffle which resulted in the shooting and the death of the young man.

But the things I have been reading scare me. Not because there are people with guns (legally) in Florida who might shoot me during a misunderstanding but because there are people all over this country who have, like those in Indonesia with Mr. Aan, are calling for the death of Mr. Zimmerman. Not all of them, mind you, but plenty. And there are columnists writing stories that stir up these emotions. And people speaking out on TV who, instead of urging calm and reason, are demanding "justice" much like those in Indonesia. They are calling for Mr. Zimmerman's arrest, they are feeding the emotions surrounding the case. They are playing to the mob.

We are devolving. Our nation is sinking into raw emotion. We are becoming supportive of mob rule. We are eschewing reason in favor of blood lust.

It is wrong... and I am greatly saddened and full of fear for my country and the world.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friending and such...

I made a mistake a couple of years ago. I got on Facebook. Soon after I started being hit by "Friend" requests. By strangers and friends of strangers and friends of friends of strangers... all of whom had the tenuous connection to me by the alleged fact that we had "mutual Friends" on Facebook.

 I occasionally asked the requesters who they were and try to learn if we were somehow connected. I would get either no answer or the request would be withdrawn.

At that point, I started seriously ignoring Facebook Requests.

Now I run into comment areas where they require you be logged into (or log into) Facebook before commenting. On the one hand, it reduces trash comments because you are no longer completely anonymous. On the other, it inhibits pithy comments because you are no longer anonymous. I have no idea what the ratio of good to bad might be.

The fascinating thing about the internet has always been the anonymity one can have. You could choose and appropriate (or not so appropriate) cyber-name and develop a personality unlike any you had in Real Life. For a few hours each day, you could be that person you always wanted to be.

Oh sure, it allowed some abuses. Cyber-bullies come to mind. And "Trolls". But, for the most part, it was completely harmless. And you could ignore the bad apples. Or just read and not participate... which meant you avoided insults and cyber-battles (relinquishing your right to have your opinion "heard").

But now I think we have gone too far in protecting people from the Bad Guys of the internet. And Facebook has become a real problem for me. I have contemplated getting out of Facebook entirely. So I looked into that and found this:

How do I permanently delete my account?
If you deactivate your account from your Security Settings page, your profile (timeline) and all information associated with it disappears from the Facebook service immediately. People on Facebook will not be able to search for you or view any of your information.

In case you want to come back to Facebook at some point, we save your profile (timeline) information (friends, photos, interests, etc.) so that your account will look just the way it did when you left. A lot of people deactivate their accounts for temporary reasons and expect their profiles (timelines) to be there when they return to the service.

If you do not think you will use Facebook again and would like your account deleted, keep in mind that you will not be able to reactivate your account or retrieve any of the content or information you have added. If you would like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log in to your account and then submit your request here.

I boldfaced the section that bothered me. One, you apparently do not actually really destroy all traces of your Facebook existence and, two, there seems to be an implied threat in the second paragraph. Perhaps "threat" is not the right word, more like a "How could you do such an anti-social thing?" remark.

So I have taken the middle road, I ignore Facebook "friend" requests in general and most of the "Status update" emails from those "friends" I retain on the page.

Still, that social guilt follows me about. You know, the  guilt that used to make you tolerate all kinds of offensive behavior of your peers in high school because you didn't want to feel like an outsider? I thought I outgrew that, I truly did.

Why do I bring this up? Well, I ran across this:

Man faces five years for 'God does not exist' Facebook post

Am I a bad person for wanting out of Facebook?

And do any of you bloggers out there hate the new Blogger interface as much as I do?

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Some time ago, I installed Feedjit on this site. I had been curious about where my readers come from and what they read. After all the time that has passed since installing it, I must admit I am still a little confused. What I learned is that images account for many of the "hits". That is, doing an image search on Google and then clicking on one of the images might link you to this blog.

But what is odd is that it does not always take you to the specific post but to a general area... such as a month's worth of posts. That doesn't seem to make sense to me. Aren't the posts separate? Shouldn't you go to the post which has the image rather than to an area? A Google mystery, to be sure.

But I find certain areas and posts are quite popular. "Boomer Musings: May 2009", for instance, and "Boomer Musings: Random Musings for May", along with "Boomer Musings: November 2009". 

When I click on these, I often find pictures of scantily clad women. Not nudes, mind you, just scantily clad. These are easy to figure out. Sometimes the image is one from a past era or out of mythology.

I, myself, have chased images from Google searches. And found myself in rather strange places doing so. Aside from the porn sites, some of these become places I return to on other occasions. I like to maintain the illusion that this happens here also. But I don't really believe it.

Am I invading anyone's privacy by tracking where people go on my blog site? I don't think so since I have no idea who is visiting, all I get is "A visitor from [insert some place] viewed [whatever]" and the number of hours or minutes ago that it happened.

This is not like my old BBS where I knew exactly who went where and how long they stayed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Up, up, and awaaaay

 I don't know about you but they always told me human beings couldn't do this...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why is this thing so slow?

Once upon a time I did some technical support work. I really wasn't cut out for it. I was even more impatient then than I am now. And patience is absolutely necessary for a technical support person.

Yes, I am much more mellow now than I once was. I bit the heads (figuratively speaking, of course) off of more than a few co-workers in those days. With good reason, I still believe. Not that I was perfect or great at my job but I was better than average. In fact, looking around at my fellow workers caused me to stop supporting nuclear power plants. In my observations, cutting corners was simply human nature. But cutting corners and acting in haste (and/or ignorance) often, if not always, leads to trouble.

I was one of those tasked with keeping telecommunications equipment operating smoothly. Engineers at Bell Labs were tasked with eliminating as many of us as possible. I started on electro-mechanical equipment in 1970 and graduated to digital (computerized) switching in 1977. In 1977, the Bell System folks taught me about computers; how they worked and how they broke, and how to repair them. Well, by "them", I mean the equipment they would be using... not just any computer.

But computers all operate on the same, or similar, principles. I was fascinated by how much I was taught about the inner workings of the company's equipment also applied to what we called "micro-computers" in those days. But I digress.

Faye reminded me the other night about how poorly I treated my co-workers in those days. I felt I was justified then... still do, actually. But it wasn't polite or even smart to treat them that way. It didn't help them get better at their jobs nor entice them to cooperate with me. It only instilled a fear of having to deal with me.

My regular shift when I worked was midnight to 8AM. There was an 8AM to 4PM shift and a 4PM to midnight shift. More often than not, I would come in to work and find some piece of equipment in trouble. The evening shift would have worked on it for anywhere from all night to just a short period of time. And, more often than not, I would have to undo much of what they did trying to repair it.

I did this myself from time to time. Fix first what I fouled up in trying to fix the original problem, that is. At least, until I developed better skills at diagnosing the problem. Making mistakes is how you learn, they say. And I made a number of them along the way. For some reason, that didn't make me more tolerant of others' errors, though I suppose it should have.

After awhile, I learned to not ask what they thought was the problem or pay much attention to what they did to correct it. It was easier to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and then tackle the problem as if it had just appeared.

What I learned over time and observation was that the more complex computer troubles are self inflicted.

Like the old joke about a car's trouble being a "loose nut behind the wheel" is also true of computers. We updated that joke to computers having "input problems"... the person using the keyboard is the cause.

That's why there are those online services advertised that will "speed up your computer"; companies like "" and "". What they really do is clean up a lot of the fluff (let's call it "digital lint") that clogs up your hard drive and computer memory. Over time, you collect a lot of programs that leave at least a portion of themselves in the computer's memory. As that memory fills up, the computer has to swap things out of memory in order to have enough space to load that bloated program you want to use. I say "bloated" because it is.  It's like that old adage about work taking as long (or longer) than whatever time is allocated for it. Computer programs once fit nicely in 64 megs, or less, of memory. But as memory got cheaper and operating systems more able to access it, program size got much bigger. There are a lot of reasons this happened and I won't go into them.

So what these services do is clean out unused memory resident programs, redundant services, and make memory usage more efficient. And you could do that on your own with just a little knowledge. In fact, with just a little caution and knowledge, you could prevent that buildup in the first place.

To prevent virus and trojan infections:

Don't open any file attachments from unknown sources.
Don't open any file attachments from known sources until you confirm that person you know actually sent it.
Run a reliable anti-virus program.

I recommend and use AVG Free. It is one of the best. It does not take control of your computer and clog it up as some (most) of the commercial anti-virus suites do. It just does what we want done the most: check for and intercept trojan programs , viruses, and other malware. And it is, as its name implies, free for private/home use.

To prevent the slowdowns, uninstall programs you haven't used in months or years. It's not hard to do. 

Update (4/2/2012),2817,2402410,00.asp?google_editors_picks=true
Useful article.

Monday, March 19, 2012

From the Pit to even lower

Some things have happened in the past few days which have impacted me greatly. One I had some control over, the other is one of those things that you do not see coming.

The first involves a problem I have dealt with for most of adult my life. My temper. It gets out of control from time to time. It damages relationships, it probably has some adverse effect on my health, and it annoys me. It annoys me because I don't like losing control. It has happened a few times in the past year or so. I get angry, sullen, snippy, and difficult to deal with. I become about a hair's breadth from punching someone. And it isn't ever the person I am really angry at: myself. There was a time that I was on the verge of this on a daily basis. I have got it down to a very rare occurrence. It seems much worse to me now when it happens, maybe because it is much more rare now than it once was.

It takes me a day or two to calm down, to re-focus, to regain control. During that time, I have to make a concerted effort to be civil to those around me. Then I can make apologies to those I've offended and struggle my way out of The Pit of Self-Loathing.

The other thing concerns someone who flatly told me he has only a few months to live. You do not expect something like that. You think those around you will outlive you. If you think anything about dying at all. I hadn't seen this person for some weeks because I had changed my pattern of late and switched around my golf days a little. But a mutual friend mentioned this guy had been told about a spot on his lung. Since that happened on the day my temper was out of control, I waited a couple of days before calling and checking on him. That's when he hit me with the news.

It stunned me. On one level it was not unexpected. He's not a young man. He's 81. And he has been smoking since his teens. He tried to quit about 4 years ago. Even if he had been successful, it is likely that he still would be in the position he is in now.

I think things can be done to stave it off but I suspect he has chosen not to do them. I resent that but I understand it.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

On this a sacred day...

Today, everyone is a little Irish. I am more than a little. I am only a couple of generations removed from an Irish immigrant. My grandfather, my father's father, sailed out of what is now called Northern Ireland (back then, the entire Irish isle was "owned" by England) and came to America. And stayed. Rumor has it that he met one Helen Mahaffey on a previous trip and was so smitten that he returned to woo and wed her. There is Irish blood somewhere on my mother's side, too, though that story was one she never told me. Probably Scottish and French (a mingling of MacDonalds and Piccards) is more likely.  But today is that one day a year when we happily indulge in that stereotype of Irish behavior... drinking.

I do not know how the Irish got that reputation but my grandfather certainly did his best to live up to it. Much to Grandma's chagrin. He hid his vice from her as best he could, I think, in order to keep peace. She had a temper, that one. She must have been a babe in her youth because her personality was not a pretty one when I knew her.

It has always seemed odd to me that we celebrate a saint by getting snockered. But then we do that for so many celebrations, I suppose. And it is odd that a Welshman is the patron saint of Ireland. Especially when you find out he was captured in his youth and enslaved  in Ireland for 6 years before escaping and returning to Wales, only to return as a bishop to spend many of his years in what is now Northern Ireland trying to civilize heathens as a bishop of the Catholic Church.

Maybe it has something to do with the belief that March 17th was the day he died, not the day he was born.

Happy St Patrick's Day, one and all!

An Irishman, an Englishman and a Scotsman go into a pub. Each orders a pint of Guinness. Just as the bartender hands them over, three flies buzz down and land-- one, two, three-- in each of the pints.
The Englishman looks disgusted, pushes his pint away and demands another... the Scotsman picks out the fly, shrugs, and takes a long swallow.
The Irishman reaches in to the glass, grabs the fly between his fingers and shakes him as hard as he can, shouting 'Spit it out, ya bloody bastard! Spit it out!'

Friday, March 16, 2012

Running on empty

Let me tell you why alternative energy sources are doomed to failure for the foreseeable future.

We need to first examine the history of energy. Once humans created communities, it became clear that energy consumption would be a problem. Humans needed heat; fire for cooking and for warmth in cold weather. As agriculture developed, water supplies and mills (for grinding grain) needed to be addressed. The flow of water provided the energy for the mills, saving on human labor and the use of animals. These were followed by windmills which used the power of air flow to power the mills. The water, of course, also was needed for the crops and for the animals. It makes sense, then, why the first communities were built along rivers. Communities were also built near the seas or other large bodies of water... not for energy needs but for food supply.

What humans learned early on was that nature wasn't reliable. Droughts were unpredictable as were their opposite (deluges and floods). The wind might blow... or not. Streams might dry up from excessive droughts, even rivers might be reduced to small streams.

Fire not only provided heat but also light. Not great light but adequate for the primitive needs of man at the time. But trees were the only source of wood and trees grow slowly and are subject to problems caused by disruptions caused by weather changes. And supplies can easily be depleted. Look at Haiti, consider the problems of deforestation.

I believe there was a constant search for reliable energy throughout human history. Oil from various sources was used for lamps and torches. Eventually, petroleum was discovered in abundance and it displaced the biological sources of oil: animal fats and plant oils.  It also gave birth to the production of electricity which led to the  incandescent bulb for light, the internal combustion engine to power machines (run those mills), and so on. It was the "Holy Grail" of power. The Industrial Revolution would not have continued just on coal alone. More than coal was needed, something that was relatively easier to get at and to convert to energy. Oil was that resource.

So now we have become heavily dependent on oil. And we also now blame climate change on the byproducts of its (and coal's) use. And so we want alternative fuels, alternative energy, "renewables", as they are called. We want "clean" energy, "green" energy.

Consider that these renewables and alternative energy sources are subject to the whims of nature. To the very things that prompted the search for a dependable source of energy in the first place.

What if the wind patterns change because of climate change? What happens to those wind farms? What if climate change produces droughts where we grow the soy, and the switchgrass, and the corn that we want to use for biofuels? What happens when rivers dry up?  What if we have to choose between food and energy?

Do we want to return to dependence on Mother Nature? Would we face energy rationing? Could we sustain a reasonable level of human comfort, provide for our energy needs in the face of the unreliability of nature? Or would it result in massive human suffering?

We do need to develop other ways to power our machines that make our lives pretty easy, there's no way around the fact that oil will eventually run out. But we'd best be careful and not assume that alternative fuels will replace oil and coal. The alternative energy sources will likely be, as they have always been, unreliable.

Don't get me wrong, hybrids and electric powered cars are going to be needed for the near future but generating electricity to charge the electric cars? That's going to be mostly fossil fuel at work. Until we find something better, something as efficient and reliable.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I've unfriended a few in my day...

I have a bad temper. I have been this way as far back as I can recall. But I rarely hold a grudge for more than a few days. And I tend to dislike people rather than hate them.

 Dislike is an odd word. Like disgruntle or dismiss. It seems to be akin to "unfriend" but that would be a misunderstanding. Dislike simply mean "not like". It seems (with the "dis") to mean no longer liking or stop liking. You do not actually have to like someone in order to dislike them. Heck, you don't even have to know the person to dislike them. In fact, it might be easier to dislike them if you don't know them.

Will Rogers is quoted as having said "I never met a man I didn't like."  (We presume that "man" meant "person" here) Actually, that line was part of an epigram:

When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: "I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn't like." I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.

The concept he expressed was that there is something to like about everyone, even those you might initially think disagreeable; that once you know someone, it is difficult, maybe impossible, to dislike him.

I disagree. I think we meet people we dislike all the time. When we realize we dislike them, we avoid them from then on... if possible. I have worked for, or around, some people I disliked pretty intensely. Not much you can do about who you associate with at work, is there?

Hate is a much stronger emotion than dislike, though. And I can't recall hating anyone for more than a few moments or hours. It's just too intense an emotion. It drains me.

What about you? Hate anyone?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Got yours yet?

The other day, after much hype, the new iPad was launched... and immediately sold out. There are headlines all over the place announcing this. I could have announced it weeks ago. Correction: technically speaking, I could have predicted it weeks ago. It's happened often enough that the pattern is clear to anyone except a few die hard Apple fans.

Apple leaks rumors, via unnamed "Apple insiders", of a new iPad months before a product launch. The rumors eventually get acknowledged by official comments from named Apple sources but no details are provided. Then those rumors change to rumors of the improvements, enhancements, and what not. These eventually settle down and the announcement date is established. Sometimes that date is postponed before it arrives. As the date approaches, the excitement builds, the rumors fly, the "buzz" builds.

The launch date is announced, the enhancements/improvements get finalized.

As the date nears to a few days, the lines outside some Apple stores begin to form. And grow. The "smart" ones get on the virtual line; they pre-order online.

The launch date arrives, the media reports, and the product sells out within days... if not hours.

The smartest guys in the room, possibly the universe, have underestimated demand... once again.

Do I really need to congratulate Apple on their marketing strategy? Or does the adage, "A sucker is born every minute" suffice?

Don't get me wrong, Apple makes fine products and the iPad is as game-changing a product as the iPhone was. Tablets are the future of portable computing, I think. The lines between phone and computer are blurring rapidly.

But I remember when many people traded their cars in almost every year. Just to get the newest, the latest, or the largest tailfins.

Maybe  nothing really changes...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In the "Really Important Stuff" department...

At one time, we told our children, "the moon is made of green cheese." I don't know why. I was one of those children but I was skeptical. I was likely skeptical because I was told so many things that were purely fantasy and made no sense even to a small child. Or because I had an older brother and sister who loved to make me feel foolish for believing anything an adult told me.

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Superman, and so much more. So many disappointments so early in my life.

Turns out we can only theorize about the moon. We think the moon was formed from a chunk of earth after an impact as the planet itself was still in the forming stages.

And now we think we have an idea why the moon doesn't have a global magnetic field like the earth does. Just regions where magnetic fields reside and other regions where there are no magnetic fields.

What? You didn't know this? No one told you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Just when I had this glimmer of hope...

Have you planned that Greatest Of All Parties yet? The one for December 20th of this year? No? Well, apparently there's no need.  The world may come to an end in November instead... right after the elections are over (depending on whom you support and who actually wins)... but not on December 21st, according to NASA. They are so sure it will be a non-event, they've even put out this video:

Don't blame me if you cannot see the above. Probably part of the Sinister Plot to keep us unprepared for the End of the World (or there's something wrong with your Flashplayer plug-in). Oddly, I do not understand the need for a sinister plot. Ask around, my bet is there are a significant number of people who have yet to find out about this (literally, it seems) earth-shattering event. Any Sinister Plot to keep us uninformed will likely backfire and spread awareness.  These Sinister Plots always backfire.

I admit I was a doubter. But then I found out Harold Camping  has announced he will cease predicting the Apocalypse... ostensibly because he has been wrong twice (three if you count his recent revision of the date last year). 

Obviously a diversion meant to distract us from the coming Doom.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thoughts of evolution and survival

The following is not political in nature. Unless you take a rather broad view of what "political" means.

One of my favored writers, John Stossel, has triggered another post for me. Here are the lines that did it:

"Greed" means you want more for yourself. Fine. If you obtain it legally, without force or privilege — say, by buying a business and making it more efficient, or shifting resources to where consumers prefer them — that is a good thing. "Creative destruction" makes America richer.

Shifting resources does mean some people lose their jobs. That is sad for those who are fired.

But on balance, it's a good thing. Intuition tells us that it would be better if no one ever lost a job and that capitalists who close businesses are evil. But America would not be better off today if elevator operators and factory workers who made typewriters had their jobs preserved by a "compassionate" government.

A friend commented to me the other day that without wars, the planet would be overrun with people. These two things, Stossel's column and my friend's comment, combined in my head and gave birth to thoughts of... well, let me try to lay it out.

You see, for a long time I have contemplated the ills that have plagued human beings since we began gathering in clans or tribes. In reality, there are two forms of humans: individual and collective.

The "individual" is each of us, it's also the individual people we relate to; family members, friends, co-workers, and so on. The "collective" is much more complex; it is the groups of humans... up to, and including, all of us on the planet. It is all the people we relate to in some way. It goes beyond our circle and expands outward to neighborhood, community, city, state, country, and so on until it's all humanity. Some (maybe many) will add in animals of various, or all, kinds.

Now, let's go back in time a bit. Back when plagues and wars were rampant. I don't mean wars on the scale of world war but the wars between individual states, the ones that went on before WWI when it was often one nation against another. At most, one or two other nations (or city-states) might also get involved, might take sides.

In those days, plagues and natural disasters did much more damage to the population than war did. Don't get me wrong, wars were brutal, nasty things that could (and often did, in those days) wipe out entire tribes; men, women, and children. But the not in the numbers that a plague could do. A plague might wipe out 50-75% of a city and affect a number of cities, doing much the same in each, before it ran its course. That's a quick reduction in population. The Black Death , for example, is thought to have reduced the European population by 30% to 60%. It hit Europe in 1346 and ended in 1450.

There was a side effect, though, a beneficial one. The survivors of plagues were stronger and immune. The plagues were a "culling of the herd". As were the  wars to a lesser extent since wars generally affected only a certain portion of the male population.

This is what evolution is all about... reducing the "weak" parts of a a population. It's all about survival of a species. But humans have "free will". That is, we fight against the natural order of things, we take a "pro-active" stance on survival. We develop cures, preventions, and we extend not only life but procreation.

In the end, our compassion may be the very thing that causes our extinction. Except I don't think we can become extinct, only severely reduced... population-wise.

Friday, March 9, 2012

On clocks and change

As I wander through the internet and, especially, Google News I often find ideas for blog posts. Today (Thursday) was no exception.  I came across an article about a clock repairman [link].

Clocks are interesting things... and useful. I have had a long love-hate relationship with them. A necessary evil, I think. Human beings are fascinated by time, I suppose, since the beginning of... well, time. Maybe not that long since the beginning of time supposedly dates from  shortly after the (theoretical) Big Bang and humans have only been around a couple of million years or so and timekeeping only within the last 3000 or 4000 years. I mean timekeeping in terms of hours, not days. I am sure methods for tracking days goes well back into the the Stone Age.

Water clocks, sun dials, various devices that use the flow of sand all preceded the mechanical clocks which provided more and more accuracy in time measurement. Accuracy in time measurement is important for more than getting to work on time. It is vital in navigation, for instance, and that is probably what drove most the advancements in timekeeping... once the concept of navigating by the stars was invented.

The article spoke of repairing mechanical clocks, mostly antiques. I grew up before battery operated and digital clocks were popular. We wound the clocks in our house. The heavy clock with chimes that would have sat on the mantle (if we had had a fireplace) but sat on a chest of drawers instead, the alarm clock in my parents' bedroom, the "grandfather" clock in the upstairs hallway. All had to be wound, some more than once a day. My father took care of these, as I recall.

Wrist watches had to be wound, also. A difficult thing to do with that tiny stem and knob.

Me? I ignored clocks. My parents made sure I was up and dressed in time for school, made sure I arrived on time to wherever I was supposed to be, and generally were my timekeepers. Otherwise, I just paid attention to where the sun was in the sky and the length of shadows on the ground.

I never wore a wrist watch for more than a few days at a time. Hated them. Still do. I still don't wear one. I won't wear one. Don't need them. Plenty of other people wear them and I have a fairly accurate clock in my car and there are clocks in stores and offices and on my computer and my cell phone. With so many places to get the time from, why do I need something on my wrist?

I don't think I wore a watch in the entire time I was in the Navy (clocks were everywhere on board ship and all the various buildings ashore) nor during my 34 years with the Bell System.

There is a line in the article that caught my fancy:

They don't know that these machines need periodic cleaning and oiling, and their children can't always read an analog dial.

When my son was about 5 or 6, he and his friend Chris were about to leave for the friend's house. I wanted him back by 5 PM and told him.

I asked him to keep an eye on the clock but he said didn't know how to read one.That's when Chris piped up and said he knew how to tell time. I said, "Really? What time is it now?" and pointed at the wall clock in the kitchen.

"Oh, I can't tell time on one of those. Just on the ones with the numbers that light up," Chris responded.

And then I came across an interesting ZDNet article about the iPad and the evolution of portable computing. Is the tablet the battery powered digital clock of the computing industry? PC upgrade cycle

Life is change, is it not?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Intangible rewards

I play golf. Yes, you already knew that and some of you, no doubt, are sick and tired of reading about it. But I am compelled to write about it, to speak about it, to engage in it.

I'm addicted.

That's an accurate description, I think. I went through similar emotions the 2 years I was a surfer dude. In those days, I would hang around the beach even when the surf was poor or non-existent. I even tried to ride my board on one foot waves. Even today, 45+ years later, I look at waves with longing and the urges fill my brain.

With golf, I spend a lot of time playing the game and reading about it and watching it on TV. Just as I used to do with surfing. But I don't hang around the golf course nearly as much as I did the beach. This is a much more mature and controlled addiction. Perhaps it is because I am older and, presumably, mellower.

Golf is a silly, simple (yet surprisingly complex) game. When you do something right in golf, the feeling is similar to a good ride on a wave, or getting acknowledgement for a job well done at work, a kiss from the love of your life. It is not something one can describe adequately in words.

There was a saying about LSD. That you couldn't explain the experience. That it was like explaining an orgasm to a virgin. That's an extreme but it isn't far off the mark. The same feeling comes with whacking a baseball out of the park for a home run. And throwing that perfect spiral with a football. And acing a test.

Scientists might (if they haven't already) discover that these things cause a flood of endorphins in the brain. We may not understand the reason they make us feel so good but we certainly can enjoy the feeling.

Thinking back, I have felt similar feelings in doing all kinds of things. I have seen it in the face of my son when he took his first steps successfully; when he rode his bike for the first time on his own; when he pitched a really good game.

Life is addictive and doing something in it well ought to give you a reward. Those endorphins? They're the reward.

Now, if I could just get that rush from taking a nap...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In the "Things I never worried about" department

What a strange and interesting place our solar system is. It appears we have another burst of solar wind hitting us (or hit us last night) [link]  I scanned the headlines of articles Google deemed  "related content" and caught this headline:

Our Sun May Have Been Bigger Long Ago

That intrigued me. So I read through it and learned a few interesting things. Like some of the theories attempting to explain early climate in relation the sun's output. 

Most stars tend to increase in luminosity as they get older. This is due to their cores becoming denser and thus hotter over time. Assuming our sun has followed this same trend, one can estimate that it was 30 percent fainter 4.5 billion years ago.

"The faint young sun presents us with a paradox, because the predicted temperatures on Earth and Mars would have been too cold for liquid water," said Steinn Sigurdsson of Penn State University.

Too cold for liquid water? Not likely. Evidence in the oldest rocks suggests that Earth had liquid oceans as far back as 4.4 billion years ago. On Mars, scientists have built up a case that it too was warm and wet around 4 billion years ago. [7 Biggest Mysteries of Mars]

The theories trying to explain this, it turns out, have to be reconciled with the traditional "climate change" community.

Things are not so simple as they seem, are they?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Emerging thoughts and gods

I was thinking the other day about nature. Nature, that is, that consists of weather, changing of seasons, night and day, and so on. I was thinking about it in terms of human evolution and how it shaped societies and cultures.

When humans began to move from hunter-gatherer tribes into stable communities, it was because of the development of agriculture and animal husbandry. These two things meant that humans did not have to roam in search of game and edible vegetation. It facilitated the concept of fixed communities. Fixed communities created change in governance, inducing evolution in that facet of human interaction.

There has, since humans gathered into groups, always been governance of one sort or another. In a small clan or tribe, the leader might be chosen by acclamation. The strongest or the best hunter (meaning most successful) or the smartest would be chosen. The concept of leadership is, I believe, deeply rooted in our psyches. Another thing that I believe is deeply rooted in our psyches is a need for belief in a deity. In fact, I think the desire for a leader is intertwined with that need for a deity.

And that brings me back to nature. Humans exist in a world of change that must be navigated. We want to know if the weather will be favorable for our endeavors, especially our agriculture. Seasonal changes are rhythmic, orderly, to a great degree. Observation revealed the approximate periods, what we call seasons, and the time spans of each. Further observation revealed that there were coincidental changes that went along with the seasons.

But we don't just want to observe these changes, we want to depend on them. We also would like to control them. Primitive humans could reasonably be seen as helpless in the face of weather changes and seasonal changes. And it is likely they did not want to feel helpless. So we look for leaders who could explain the changes and who could seemingly influence changes.

Thus were the first religions born. Polytheism seems the most natural form of religion. After all, you have 4 seasons (actually, only two: cool/cold and warm/hot with more or less water/rainfall depending upon region and latitude). You also have night and day, various sky-born objects (sun and moon are prominent), and geological events. Explanations for each and all of these is desired because they impact the chances of survival. Survival is the primary concern of any organism.

So sun gods, moon gods, seasonal gods, were developed by those that saw relationships between the changes around them and certain recurring phenomena. Certain star patterns (constellations), for instance, and their orientation in the night sky would change during different periods of the year. The people who could "read" these signs with some kind of observable accuracy were given power. Those that were granted that power formed alliances with those who were physically powerful in order to retain that power over the community. Thus, the first church and state alliance.

Well, just something to think about. More at some future time... when the mood strikes me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gettin' Bugged

Now and then, I read an article that is heartwarming. One that reinforces my faith in man and insect. Did I just write "insect?"  Yes, indeed I did. I am talking about something called "Tree Lobsters" (formal name: Dryococelus australis). Fascinating creatures, as are most insects, who were thought extinct back in 1960 after being eaten by non-indigenous rats between 1918 and 1920 on their native soil of Lord Howe Island well off the east coast of Australia.

They were found on this island (Ball's Pyramid), maybe 15 miles away, in 2001. Not a lot of them, just 24. After many meetings and much debate, it was decided that just four of the creatures could be taken from the island in hopes of bringing them back from the edge of extinction.

I was almost brought to tears when reading this:

"The plan was to take one pair and give it a man who was very familiar with mainland walking stick insects, a private breeder living in Sydney. He got his pair, but within two weeks, they died.

Adam And Eve And Patrick

That left the other two. They were named 'Adam' and 'Eve,' taken to the Melbourne Zoo and placed with Patrick Honan, of the zoo's invertebrate conservation breeding group. That's Patrick on the left with Adam and Eve, though I do not know which is which... except for Patrick. At first, everything went well. Eve began laying little pea-shaped eggs, exactly as hoped. But then she got sick. According to biologist Jane Goodall, writing for Discover Magazine:

   Eve became very, very sick. Patrick ... worked every night for a month desperately trying to cure her. ... Eventually, based on gut instinct, Patrick concocted a mixture that included calcium and nectar and fed it to his patient, drop by drop, as she lay curled up in his hand.

Her recovery was almost instant. Patrick told the Australian Broadcasting Company, 'She went from being on her back curled up in my hand, almost as good as dead, to being up and walking around within a couple of hours.'"

Eve's eggs were harvested and the captive population grew to 11, 376 in 2008. Now comes the problem... re-introducing these creatures to their native habitat, Lord Howe's Island.

Read more at: Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway

Saturday, March 3, 2012

How about sex for free?

Big kerfuffle over coverage of contraceptives in the Senate this week. Seems the Democrats want women to have contraceptives given to women at little to no cost while Republicans want the state to not interfere with church doctrine.

It all started with this:

The Health and Human Services Department ruled earlier this year that, under the new health care law, religious-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities must include free birth control coverage in their employee health plans.

Note the "free birth control coverage" phrase. I think this is very important to the argument. You see, contraceptives devices and medications are legal in every state in the union. They are available everywhere. Yes, there have been reports of some pharmacists refusing to dispense the so-called "morning after" dosages on religious grounds but these are actually so rare as to be next to non-existent.  But the kerfuffle is not about buying them, it's about providing them free for anyone who wants them.

So, to me, the issue is about ignoring the separation of church and state (in this case, the state overrides the church) in favor of pandering to young women who want free birth control.

I can understand people wanting free services and products. But nothing is really free, is it? Someone, somewhere has to pay for it. I thought, when I enlisted in the Navy, that the uniforms were free. You probably did too. They aren't. I had to pay for everything they issued to me. And I had to pay for having them cleaned and laundered. Now, granted, the shipboard laundry service was "free". But they didn't press anything. And they did no dry cleaning. So all dress uniforms had to be done at a commercial cleaners. Even what we called "work" whites had to be done at those places.  It was more than obvious that the blue uniforms (which are made of wool) had to be dry-cleaned and pressed.

I was reminded of a story my mother told about my father's stint in the Army during WWII. He showed up one morning at formation with his sleeves coming up short of his wrists and his pants cuff a few inches above his ankles. These were wool uniforms and my father had run them through the laundry instead of a dry cleaners. Of course the sergeant chewed him out. Of course the sergeant told him he should have taken them to a dry-cleaners. My father's response was that the Army did not give him a cleaning allowance, did not pay for the dry-cleaning, and his pay was not sufficient to cover it.

We all want free stuff, don't we? But we never really get it.

By the way, it seems Limbaugh has gotten into hot water over this one with his remarks. Specifically about a woman named Sandra Fluke. I think he overstepped the bounds of good taste but I also think there's some things about the woman and her "testimony" before an unofficial Congressional panel. Here's her testimony...

In this, she relates two anecdotal stories, neither of which can be corroborated and would never be permissible in a court of law. 
She also makes the claim that contraception (presumably prescription but not clearly stated) would cost $3000 during a woman's full stay at Georgetown. To do so, the monthly cost would have to be over $80 and the stay would have to be three years in length. Law school can be completed in two years and Planned Parenthood and others state that the pill runs "$15 to $50" per month. Just Google "contraceptive costs".

And here's something I came across today...

This last says she's 30 years old, not the 23 years old that had been reported. It also claims she's a women's rights activist and enrolled at Georgetown in order to create an issue regarding Georgetown's insurance coverage. I don't know if it is true but I wonder if we will ever know for sure.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Go away! (please?)

I was looking at an article on MarketWatch [link] that claimed to be a list of the "best" places to retire in the US.

I was happy to note that my little town was not one of them. We have enough problems with seasonal residents, we don't need to double or triple our year-rounders.

A few years ago, when my sister suggested I bring our mother to this area, I fell in love with it. I was not alone. This was a time when people were bailing out of Broward and Dade counties on the southeast coast of Florida. Crime, crowding, and the rising cost of living was destroying what had been a wonderful place to live. What had once been a great place to retire. People flocked to south Florida in the 60's and 70's. And it grew. And it cost more and more to live there. Because of that growth, because it was seen as a great place to retire. One of the best, as they say.

Unfortunately, few places can absorb the numbers of retirees along with the number of people who come to serve them, to profit from them, to get in on the growth. You know who I mean; the real estate people (sales and developers), the medical industry, the lawyers, the restauranteurs, the chain establishments, the department stores, and so on.

I learned what happens when others discover what you have discovered. I saw it all around me when I was growing up, I saw it in San Diego in the 70's and 80's. I saw it in Los Angeles after it had already happened. And it almost happened here in my little town.

You see, at the time I fell in love with it, people were flocking here from the aforementioned Broward and Dade counties. They were buying up houses, buying up property, building restaurants and stores and shopping centers and strip malls and hotels and motels. And starting the process which would end up with this place looking exactly like the places they were escaping from.

Real estate prices went up, business were happily making profits they not thought possible, speculators were moving in. As my house was being built, I began to have my doubts. Was I just getting in 10 years before I would hate the place? Would it even take ten years before Paradise fell yet again?

Enter the financial collapse of 2008. I survived it, even profited from the bubble before it burst and caused the collapse. Just pure luck. I am no seer. I did not see it coming. At least not that soon. But I did know it had to happen. I had seen it before. I had read about it, it is a natural part of economics; we have boom and bust cycles. The longer the boom, the deeper the bust.

The collapse has reduced the value of my home. No matter, I am not going anywhere. It has kept prices down. This has helped me. It has stopped the rampant growth of 2005-2007 in its tracks. We might have experienced even some negative growth in the last 3 years.

I am hoping it continues and the unrestrained growth never returns.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It Crawled into My Hand, Honest*

Every so often, Libertarians make sense. Even while they are saying things that many people think crazy. Take this column by John Stossel...


Stossel is a good writer. He gets his point across simply and clearly. I envy him because I cannot do that. I am often misunderstood. And when I try to explain, I just get further misunderstood.

The subject of the column is drug prohibition. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. As I am sure most of us do. Especially those of us who were in our teens and 20's in the 60's. I thought, back then, that legalization of marijuana was just around the corner. And, even though I smoked it, I thought that would be a bad idea. Of course, I had financial reasons for my position. Legalize something pleasurable and the government will tax it until only the wealthy can afford it. Now, I (and I am sure many others) feel a bit hypocritical being opposed to legalization.

So I have come down on the side of decriminalization. The arguments for this are strong, logical, and compelling.

But Stossel is not just talking about weed. He is advocating all proscribed drugs be made legal. And his argument is a good one... with examples and data backing it... and it's persuasive. I am not ready to jump on that bandwagon. It seems a very risky thing to do.

But I could probably be convinced.
Here's a blast from the past... click on the link, for some reason they won't let me embed this clip.

* A reference to a Fugs album.