05 December 2012

Forget the GOP

No, I don’t mean I’m ready to abandon the Republican Party in favor of the Libertarian or any other party, or none at all. I’m referring to the 2012 election post-mortems that so many pundits, political operatives, and people on Twitter (but I repeat myself) have engaged in over the last few weeks.

I believe that the message of freedom and fiscal responsibility is the right message. I believe that some (all) of the messengers are imperfect, but that is not the chief reason Democrats won the lion’s share of major elections this year.

I believe that the century or more of Marxist influence has born its bitter fruit. There are now simply too many people who were never taught to do what is right, or worse, were taught that what is right is evil.

It has taken a century because parents do love their children, and try to teach them to do right. The counter-culture of the 1960s and ’70s really exemplifies the other side, the ones who said things like “Don’t trust anybody over 30,” and “Question authority.” This kind of thing was actively promoted in the universities, and the products of those times became teachers of younger children.

I have a draft post started where I put forth the idea that collectivism has its roots in self-loathing, but it seems more likely to me now that the prevalence of the attitude that society, or government, and not individuals, bear responsibility for caring for those who need it is simply the result of that idea being drilled into children’s heads for 100 years. (It took me a while to write these two final paragraphs on this post, too.)

It is simply going to take time–I hope less than 100 years–to get enough people to adopt a philosophy of personal responsibility and accountability that we can begin to reverse the abrogation of these things. There are already reports of this happening in the younger generation. This is one reason the Occupy gatherings were taken over by leftist organizations, rather than being huge populist gatherings like the peace protests in the ’60s (or at least like they’ve been portrayed to us). So like the #damnhippie song says, teach your children–and grandchildren–well.

03 December 2012

Call me Purist

OK, here’s a random thought spurred by a tweet.

First, the tweet contents. It was a joke: “Do you know the difference between a hunter and a fisherman? A hunter lies in wait. A fisherman waits and lies.”

This got me thinking about something that has bugged me for a while about the modern sport of hunting: blinds and stands. (And associated with those, things like lures and decoys.)

“Hunt” is an active verb. It is defined by my American Heritage Dictionary, as it relates to animals, as the act of pursuing, seeking out, searching for, or searching through (as in “I’ve hunted those woods many times”). It is not defined as “soaking a cloth with doe urine, fixing it to a post or a tree, and climbing the tree to sit on a seat built there and wait for a buck to come to you.”*

A good hunter is not necessarily one who comes home with the biggest set of antlers. A good hunter is one who actively seeks out the area where the game lives, then pursues the game as it moves throughout that area until a clean shot can be made (and is successful).

And I don’t really want to do that, which is probably why I’ve never hunted.

*Now, the taking of game for food with no consideration for sport is a different matter. When one’s survival is at stake, there is nothing wrong with fishing in a barrel, so to speak. As long as the owner of the barrel is OK with it.

15 October 2012

Campaigns are Useless

At least in their current form–which if we are to believe reports, goes back to ancient Greece–campaigns are useless. That is, each candidate telling the public about all the things the other candidate stands for, or wants to do, is not persuasive.

You see, the reason this is useless is that all the things one side paints as the worst thing in the world that the other guy stands for, the other side actually supports. I'll use the Nevada Senatorial campaign as an example.

Shelly Berkley claims that Dean Heller wants to remove federal funding from things like PBS, Medicare & Medicaid, and the mortgage modification program, and to repeal the PPACA. Well, she's probably right, and I support all those positions.

Dean Heller claims that Shelly Berkley wants to take money from profitable small businesses and give it to people who bought houses they couldn't afford, people who make television shows that teach children to depend on society for their basic needs, and people who cheat and game the welfare system so they don't have to work. He's probably right (except maybe on the particulars of the last point), and the people who support Berkley are all for it.

So you see, the problem is not the campaign; it's the diametrically opposed philosophies of the two major factions of society. The campaigns, and the ancillary phenomena like robo-calls, polling calls, pundits dissecting campaign commercials, and debates–and the endless ensuing discussions–are just annoyances. Huge annoyances, but merely annoyances nonetheless.

13 September 2012

Blog Update

I’m not much inspired to write these days, so I thought I’d add a blog reading list to my blog, as many of the bloggers on my list have on theirs. I’ve accepted the default arrangement of most recent post first, so the order will be updated as new posts appear.

The blogs listed are most of my Google Reader subscriptions. If you like this blog, be sure to have a read of these others, as well.

31 July 2012

Shaking My Head (Part 2)

This was in front of the new fire station as it was being
built at one corner of the road in question.
Not even two weeks ago, the county road leading to our housing area was resurfaced. It took nearly a whole week, as the part of the road that was resurfaced is about 3 miles long. When it was finished, it was really nice; all the largish holes, dips, and bumps were gone.

Today as I left for work, there were flagman signs, and a work crew was busily drilling a hole in the new surface. Well, one guy was busily drilling a hole; four or five others were apparently supervising and standing ready to offer first aid should anything go wrong.

When I came home tonight, there was (thankfully) a sign warning drivers to the presence of “STEEL PLATES IN ROADWAY”. Sure enough, there were at least four spots in the brand new surface that had been removed and covered with metal plates, about 6'x8'.

Now why would a company be paid to do a resurfacing job, then either that same company or another one be paid to tear it up?

I want to scream. SMH

UPDATE: After a couple of days, the steel plates were gone and the road filled in. But now nearly all my old familiar holes that I'd learned to avoid are back. Winter will only make them worse.

25 July 2012

It Worked, All Right

The Washington Examiner yesterday published a piece telling us about a campaign fundraising speech that Barack Obama gave in Oakland, CA Monday night.

Notice the jump in 2009†

In that speech, he contrasted George W. Bush’s policies of slower growth of federal spending and bureaucracy to his own. Of Bush’s policies–which he claims Romney would continue–he said, “We tried that and it didn’t work.” He went on to say that “…we tried our plan–and it worked.”

Spending vs. Growth†

The tone of the Examiner article seems to be one of incredulity, of belief that this shows how out of touch the MOOP* and his speechwriters and advisers are. Nearly all the tweets and blog posts I’ve seen referencing this story share this attitude.

The best laid plans…

I think there’s another way to look at this, and the only post I found even hinting at it begins a forum thread at Above Top Secret. It may be that “their plan” (to use the MOOP’s words) has indeed worked.

It may be that the plan that has been followed unfailingly by the Obama administration was intended to stifle the opportunity for individuals to create their own wealth, and encourage more and more Americans to become dependent on the federal bureaucracy for their every need. In that case, the Obama administration’s plan has worked on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

*Man Occupying the Office of President
†These graphs are from a Mercatus Center white paper.

22 June 2012

Typos and Worse

Over the past couple of weeks, I've collected some examples of poor written communication. I'd like to share a few of them now. You may get a laugh out of them.

This list of "Dos and Don'ts" for brand care on a corporate website appears to have suffered from automatic formatting.

This introductory paragraph on a SharePoint home page could have benefited from a spiel chucker.

Finally, this helpful bit of advice appears to have been dictated to speech recognition software.

Have any favorite typos or grammar errors to share? Leave a comment!

06 June 2012

President of Estonia Slams Paul Krugman

Other bloggers have written about this, but they seemed to pick and choose the tweets they wanted to show. I created a Storify story including all the relevant tweets, excluding only the short replies to specific Twitter users.

05 June 2012

A "Last in a Lifetime" Event

On 05 June 2012, the planet Venus was in transit across the face of the sun. That is to say, its orbital path passed between the Earth and the Sun at a planar level where we could see its shadow.

The image above is from a live webcast from the NASA EDGE (link probably good until around 9:30 pm PDT) project at the Mauna Kea observatory in Hawaii. It was captured about an hour in to the event. (I have rotated the image 90° counter-clockwise, because I believe that is the orientation we would see from the Northern Hemisphere.) For a slightly different perspective, here is an image captured about 2 hours into the event, from the SLOOH Space Camera project via the observatory at the University of New Mexico.

Transits of Venus occur in pairs separated by about 8 years, once every 113 years or so. At least, that’s what I gathered from the information about the last two pairs, in 1761-69 and 1874-82. That’s why this is being described as “last in our lifetime”: only someone born very recently, say five years ago, has any decent chance of living to see the first transit of the next pair.

At any rate, if I have time, I may add another image later. I just wanted to preserve these images for my own perusal.

UPDATE As promised, here is an image from Norway as the transit was just about complete:

01 June 2012

In which I call ’em like I see ’em

 Over at Castle Gormogon, the Czar of Muscovy presented a fine example of this administration’s coherence and competence. It inspired me to write this letter to him in response.
Your Excellent Majesty,

That was a marvelous piece of Mr. Carney’s work you selected. I had thoughts on the question from which it sprang. Were I in the position of answering that question, it would go something like this:

“Well, the difference is, you see, that when the companies Bain invested in went under, it was Bain and its rich, white, fat-cat investors who lost the money. When Solyndra went belly-up, the people who got soaked were, well, you. And me. And all the poor saps who read your paper or see me on the tee-vee. That’s the difference that really matters, right there.”

Which is likely why they didn’t call me when Gibbsy called it quits.

Your minion,

15 May 2012

Don’t Talk About That!

I am so tired of hearing that.

Different people care about different things. That’s part of what makes us, well, different.

You may not care that young Barry Soetoro ate dog meat, but his campaign is attacking Mitt Romney for transporting the family dog in a protected carrier on the roof of a crowded car.

You may not care what Obama’s position on same-sex marriage is.

You may not care about an alleged attempted bribe of someone who was perceived as capable of harming a Presidential campaign 4 or 5 years ago.

But some people do.

In fact, some of those people may not even be hurting badly because of the economy. They may be wondering why all you rugged individualists are whining about lost jobs, rather than going out and making your own job. (I expect that you are.)

My point is that if the left wins by creating distractions and playing up picayunish “sins” of their opponents, then it’s obvious that people respond to that nonsense. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad for the right to engage in a little of it. Or a lot.

That’s why I will not be telling people, “Don’t talk about that.”

10 May 2012

And Now for Something Completely Different

I want to write a post in sonnet form.
But just which form that is, I must decide.
It may be nice to keep old Shakespeare warm
By using that in which his wool was dyed.

But Spenser used a form Will hadn’t tried,
And, seems to me, a tougher challenge makes.
Each quatrain’s to the one preceding tied
With rhymes, which somewhat raises mental stakes.

And though my poetry is no great shakes,
I pray that it may you some entertain.
Gosh, that was coil’d more than many snakes!
I’m happy this line ends the last quatrain!

So now a couplet’s all that’s left to write—
With one last line, I’ll sew this thing up tight.

08 May 2012

Courts Don't Grant Rights, Either

This story from the AP was put on KOLO-TV’s Twitter feed today. In brief, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that an illegal immigrant’s rights, including the right to keep and bear arms, are limited and not fully protected by the Constitution.

Most of the comments are some variation on the theme of “he isn’t a citizen, so he does not have the rights of a citizen.” I have to disagree. The Constitution (or any other Law made by man) does not grant the people rights; it simply recognizes certain of the rights we have as people. The right to defend ourselves, our families, and our liberty is one of them.

I realize there exists a policy where convicted felons are denied the exercise of the right to keep firearms. I’ve seen an explanation along the lines of: when a person commits a felony–becomes a criminal–that person has broken the unwritten compact of society. He thus no longer has the rights society enjoys, including freedom and firearms.

In this case, however, Mr. Huitron-Guizar was not a convicted felon when he was in possession of firearms. He did plead guilty to being an illegal immigrant, though, so I suppose it could be argued that he had committed a crime that broke the societal compact. Still, he was not yet convicted when he actually had the firearms.

Which leads me to another puzzlement: why should this restriction apply only to firearms? Why would we not also forbid felons from owning any sort of weaponry after they are released from custody, including kitchen knives, baseball bats, and even automobiles? In fact, if one has been released from custody, doesn’t that signify that we are accepting him back into society? Why should we then restrict any of the human rights recognized as belonging to society?

But I digress. My point is that the Constitution does not give us rights, by the same measure that the courts do not give them to us.

03 May 2012

Shaking My Head (Part 1, probably)

As I was getting on the freeway this morning, in front of me was a late-model gold-colored Subaru Outback (NV plates 912-TKR) with a “Keep Tahoe Blue” sticker. For those who don’t know of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, it’s a local environmentalist group focused on water clarity, but also concerned with scenic beauty.

You can imagine my shock and surprise, then, when the driver tossed a blue cardboard package out the window.

Now, I do not know for certain that the driver was the owner of the car, and the sticker. It may be that he was borrowing the car, and didn’t want to forget to remove his trash when he returned it. I only know that he is a litterbug.

P.S. I had tweeted a couple of weeks ago about seeing a KTB sticker in Russian. It is an official product of the LSLT, as is the Spanish-language one.

01 April 2012

Eliminating the Penny

The recent move by Canada to remove pennies from circulation has caused speculation on how this would work should the United States. A Twitter discussion has prompted me to offer a small example based on my experiences in New Zealand. For this example I will assume that, like in many states, food items are sales-tax-exempt.

Suppose I made a quick run to the local Super Mart Center to pick up a few things we didn’t realize we were nearly out of. (I’m using “F” to represent food items that are exempt from sales tax, and “T” to represent items that are subject to sales tax.)

Milk 3.86F
Bread 2.36F
Paper Towels 2.16T
Subtotal 8.38
Tax @7% 0.15
Total 8.53

If I’m paying cash, the total would be rounded to the nearest 5¢, and I will pay $8.55 for the bill. If I instead pay with a debit or credit card, or even *gasp* write a check, the total will be $8.53.

Now suppose at the checkstand I decide I need a box of Altoids:

Milk 3.86F
Bread 2.36F
Paper Towels 2.16T
Altoids 2.27T
Subtotal 10.65
Tax @7% 0.31
Total 10.96

Now the cash amount paid will be $10.95. So you can see that over time and volume of purchases, the amount of rounding will approach zero. That is, there will be just about as much rounded down as rounded up.

And I want to stress again, this applies only to cash purchases. Electronic purchases will not be rounded, nor, I suppose, would check purchases–since checks are usually negotiated electronically nowadays, anyway. The printed receipt looks normal, but if the cashier hits the “Cash Pmt” key, an extra line will print showing the “Cash Total” with the rounded amount.

One further point: in New Zealand, they’ve eliminated not only the 1¢ coin, but also the 5¢ coin. Cash purchases are rounded to the nearest 10¢. No one there seemed to think they were missing anything by it.

27 March 2012

My Bubble is Thick

A couple of months ago, and then again recently, the Bubble Quiz and its inspiration have been spreading on social networks. I was just reminded of a way to describe how thick my bubble is.

In 2003, BMW produced a series of short films starring Clive Owen as a driver hired for various tasks. The films were, of course, intended to show off the latest BMW models, and were directed by well-known directors such as Ang Lee and John Frankenheimer. The DVD came in packaging that included short descriptions of the films.

One film was entitled “Star”, directed by Guy Ritchie. The description of it mentioned “a very special guest.” The film depicted a blonde woman, apparently a celebrity of some sort, being chauffeured to an event. When she walked out, she acted very uppity, and during the ride she was subjected to such jostling that on arrival at the event she was a mess. After watching the film a few times, I still had no idea who she was.

Turns out it was Madonna.

Of course, I had heard once or twice that Guy Ritchie had recently married Madonna, or had fathered a child with her, or something. I was just so uninterested in her (let alone him) that I never made the connection.

17 February 2012

So the Massachusetts Individual Mandate was to Promote Responsibility!

On On the Record Friday night, Griff Jenkins had a report on the differences between the Massachusetts medical insurance law (“Romneycare”) and the PPACA (“Obamacare”). Griff was talking to Eric Fehrnstrom of Gov. Romney’s campaign, and asked about how the individual mandate differed between the two laws. After mentioning the restrictions of the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Fehrnstrom said that the reason it was included in Romneycare was to address “a peculiar issue to Massachusetts.”

He described a situation where there was a “very small” group of people who refused to buy medical insurance, even though they could afford it. When those people went to the hospital or urgent care, the taxpayers would end up paying for it. Mitt Romney was so concerned with the principle of personal responsibility, that he took away their responsibility to decide to insure themselves by mandating that everyone do it.

What the hell would be wrong with just eliminating the State paying for people's medical care?! Make those people pay for their own services! If we wanted to promote personal responsibility, wouldn’t that be the way to do it?

Is it too late for me to get in the race?

15 February 2012

Only Half the Story

A thought struck me this morning as I was reading some discussion about whether the individual mandate provision of PPACA is a tax (it isn't). I started thinking about the Constitutional requirement that “[a]ll bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House” rather than the Senate (Article I, Section 7, Paragraph 1). I briefly wondered whether PPACA was first introduced in the House (and I've seen other speculation along that line). But that isn't what this post is about.

The point of this post is that the Constitution established earlier in that Article (Secs. 2 & 3) that members of the House were to be elected by the people, but Senators would be chosen by the states. The idea, it seems, was to ensure that any taxes levied, that would ultimately be paid by the people–because corporations don't pay taxes–must be the people's idea (through their Representatives). The Senators had the responsibility of determining how any proposed tax would affect their respective states, and support or oppose it accordingly.

It is no coincidence that Amendment XVII, transferring the election of Senators to the people, was proposed after Amendment XVI, establishing the power to tax income. It was a progressive plan to undermine the states' check on how increases in tax rates would affect their businesses. Among other things, I'm sure.

14 February 2012

Don't Panic!

The New Zealand Diary posts are not gone! They've been moved.

Please visit The Adventures of ScottO for all my travel- and adventure- related photo posts.

Thank you for reading!

18 January 2012



Today, 18 January 2012, many sites on the internet are participating in a protest of the so-styled SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) legislation being considered in Congress. This post is my participation in the protest.

Just imagine if a site you really liked (not mine, one like TMZ or ESPN) were suddenly unavailable because they used a clip from REMEMBER THE TITANS, or THE DUKES OF HAZZARD, and someone accused them of piracy. Please contact your Representative and Senators and tell them SOPA and PIPA are bad legislation, and should be defeated.

17 January 2012

What's the Latest Buzz?

Last week on Twitter, there was a link to an article about researchers discovering a virus that may be responsible for the drastic population drop in honeybees in the last few years. Then, as I was driving to work today, I saw a car with the personalized license plate "BEELACK". It was a black car, so that's probably what the plate refers to, but it could also be read as "bee lack". Just a few minutes later, there was a truck trailing a boat that was named "Bye-BEE", as shown by the word "Bye" and the picture of a bee--although it looked more like a bumblebee than a honeybee--painted on the stern.

Have any of my readers heard any news of the current state of honeybee colonies? Please leave a comment on the blog or on Google+, or send me a link on Twitter.