Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Off to Be the Wizard

Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer is a novel about...

Amazon description:
It's a simple story. Boy finds proof that reality is a computer program. Boy uses program to manipulate time and space. Boy gets in trouble. Boy flees back in time to Medieval England to live as a wizard while he tries to think of a way to fix things. Boy gets in more trouble.
Oh, and boy meets girl at some point.

Off to Be the Wizard is a fun, comedic novel about computers, time travel, and human stupidity, written by Scott Meyer, the creator of the internationally known comic strip Basic Instructions.

Magic will be made! Legends will be created! Stew will be eaten!
I'll point out at first that I don't really care for science fiction and the reason that I bought this book s becasue it was $4 and becasue its author is the creator of the occasionally amusing cartoon Basic Instructions.

The Amazon description laid out the story quite well.  I'll add that I suspect that its the author's first book attempt, becasue, while its very readable and interesting, no one will confuse it with Lord of the Rings.  (I wasn't impressed with LOTR either.)

Its a fine and acceptable book.  But like I said in my last post, non-fiction is just better.

Its worth a read for some simple entertainment, and I'll recommend it as such.

The Temple Tiger


The Temple Tiger by Jim Corbett is a book by, and about, several stories of Jim Corbett killing several man-eating tigers and leopards in India.

His Wikipedia page comments on several of the man-eaters that he killed:
Between 1907 and 1938, Corbett tracked and shot a total of 33 man-eaters, though only about a dozen were actually well documented. It is claimed that these big cats had killed more than 1,200 men, women and children. The first tiger he killed, the Champawat Tiger in Champawat, was responsible for 436 documented deaths. Though most of his kills were tigers, Corbett successfully killed at least two man-eating leopards. The first was the Panar Leopard in 1910, which allegedly killed 400 people. The second was the man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag in 1926, which terrorized the pilgrims on the holy Hindu shrines Kedarnath and Badrinath for more than eight years, claiming responsibility for more than 126 deaths.

Other notable man-eaters he killed were the Talla-Des man-eater, the Mohan man-eater, the Thak man-eater, the Mukteshwar man-eater and the Chowgarh tigress.
The Temple Tiger tells the stories of hunting several man-eaters, including the above mentioned Panar Leopard.  This is actually the second book of his on this subject.  His book Jungle Lore was first and is apparently similar.

The stories are short(ish), fun, and easy to read.

I decided in 2011 to spend more time reading exclusively non-fiction books and stop watching tv.  Those have been two good decisions. 

"They" say, "truth is stranger than fiction." 

I don't know about stranger, but The Temple Tiger is another non-fiction book that just happens to be better than any book of fiction that I try to read.  The Wikipedia page lists several books by Jim Corbett and points out Kenneth Anderson who also wrote about killing man-eaters in India.

So long as there are non-fiction books like this, I'll not run out of interesting reading materiel.  (And I was behind on my reading already.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Revolutionary Line of Thought

When I first discovered "Game" I was amazed and pleasantly surprised by it.  I spent the two evenings after I first discovered Roissy reading nearly all of his old posts.

I was constantly amazed at what I read.  It made so much sense.  It explained many experiences that I was confused by before.  The crimson arts make so much sense, it explained so much.

This past weekend I went to an event that was nearly as enlightening, nearly as informative, and nearly as important.

I like to hunt deer.  I've had more success with it than anyone that I know.  But I always knew that there was more to learn.  I knew that there were things that I was doing that could, and should, be done better.

Tony LaPratt's Ultimate Deer Management is exceptionally impressive, and I don't doubt that it works.  It makes too much sense not to work.

Due to his rules of proprietary information, etc. I can't say much more than its about managing your deer hunting property in a better way.  Check out his website for more information on what he does.

Perhaps I'm beginning to understand more of what it means when old guys say that they once thought they knew everything, but no longer think so.

I may be over-emphasizing this but that Ultimate Land Management is really incredible, despite, or maybe becasue of, its simplicity.

I may be over-hyping things that I really like on this blog (read Bourbon for Breakfast already), but this time I really mean it. 

(Just like all those other times.)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

One Less Jogger on the Road

Its amazing what you can find on YouTube.  I hadn't heard this since my age was in the single digits.

Stupid Blogger.  Click this link instead.

 You Shot the TV:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Boycott Electonic Arts

I wrote a post about the video game company Electronic Arts.  They seem to keep making their product worse and the consumers seem to keep buying them.

I thought the problem started more recently, but Matt pointed out that they have been bad for quite a while.
EA's CEO can afford to be a dick because his company has been pulling these kinds of stunts for twenty years and have yet to see any kind of blowback. Even during the golden days of video games, EA wrecked everything it touched.
The market is always right.  So EA must be doing something well.

Life is too short to keep a list of companies to boycott, and it won't make any difference anyway.  But I do not want to support several companies with whatever small support I might give by buying their goods and services.

Here I go recommending a feel-good plan of action that will accomplish nothing.

A list of companies whose products that I'm not interested in:

Electronic Arts
Pizza Hut
General Motors
Any other company that accepted bailout money
General Electric

I'm sure that we could list many more.

And maybe I can do more about it, but life is too short...and that's why they'll win.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"At least until we kill off their Internet sales by demanding they file dozens of monthly or quarterly tax returns."


The issue:
the problem of collecting sales taxes on Internet transactions,
Why its bad:  
Sadly, no. Rather, as an SBA guidebook for small businesses points out, you have to file a tax return with each and every locality for which you have collected tax. The bill streamlines this a bit, but you've still got to keep 50 states’ worth of records and file 40-odd states worth of returns.
Why its good for big business and bad for small ones:
For Amazon—the actual target of these laws—this is trivial. Its staff of crack accountants can probably roll these things out before their Monday-morning coffee break. For a small vendor, however, that's a whole lot of paperwork. Imagine being a small eBay vendor that has to file a different set of tax returns every quarter or every month, depending on who happened to buy your handmade toaster cozies. The bill makes this slightly easier by exempting the smallest businesses and saying that you only have to file one return per state. But that's still hours and hours of work per month, for folks who are probably already working pretty damn hard.
The disappointment:
This bill, in fact, is good for Amazon—it kills off their small-fry competitors who can't afford the staff accountants (or the software) to file 46 returns every month. And it frees them up to open warehouses in more states, the better to minimize their shipping costs. Presumably, that's why they're in favor of the bill.
A conclusion:
It doesn't seem worth hassling them to get a few extra bucks out of Amazon. Some of those small businesses are the future big businesses of the world. More of them are a way for hardworking people to achieve the American Dream of being their own boss. All of them are contributing to the general welfare. At least until we kill off their Internet sales by demanding they file dozens of monthly or quarterly tax returns.

Liberals always confuse slave labor with the making of money through free trade of goods and services.  They always think that the rich got rich by "stealing" from the poor.  This isn't the case in America.

It is difficult in trying to explain that free exchange of goods and services for money will occasionally result in some providing lots of goods and services and them getting lots of money.

Working against our attempts to describe this is crony capitalism.  Where the government helps big businesses limit the competition from competitors.  This crony capitalism is the reason why some big businesses support things like Obamacare.  They get to prevent competition and they don't need to improve or adapt.

Its not really the fault of the big businesses (here's where the Occupy Wall Street people went wrong).  These businesses are doing what they need to in order to survive.

The big businesses had better go along with it, and encourage it.  If they don't, someone else will write the laws to oppose them.

The only way to end it is to end government involvement in the free exchange of goods and services.
This is one reason for a small government that does not enter into these affairs is better than one that picks winners and losers.  No big government and businesses will need to survive on their merits alone.  They could ask for all the bailouts and favorable laws that they want, and it wouldn't matter if the government refused to get involved.

Both political sides have some measure of similar ground here.  By way of analogy: liberals want the crack addict to stop asking for it, and the conservatives want the enablers to stop enabling.


Government laws that help established business and hurt new ones is not new.

When you need a license to drive a taxi, that is crony capitalism.

When you need a license to be a plumber, that is crony capitalism.

A tariff is crony capitalism.

Legally required training for anything, is crony capitalism.

Light bulb bans are crony capitalism.

CAFE laws (gas mileage standards) are the same crony capitalism.


The government does hurt big businesses too:
This bill, in fact, is good for Amazon—it kills off their small-fry competitors who can't afford the staff accountants (or the software) to file 46 returns every month. And it frees them up to open warehouses in more states, the better to minimize their shipping costs.
If it were not for the onerous government laws and taxes we already have, Amazon would be able to open more warehouses, etc. (read that as: "jobs")

My Book

I've posted the rough drafts for two chapters in my forthcoming book about the basics of deer hunting on my hunting blog.

Chapter 9: Improving Your Hunting Property

Chapter 20: Positioning Your Stand

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Election Idea

I recently read a story that said that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker leads some stupid polls for becoming the next republican presidential nominee.  This sounds good to me, but several commenters didn't like it because they don't get a presidential feeling about him (tingles?). 

I found those comments to be irritating.  Why is style more important than substance?

Why do people complain about having professional politicians, and then disregard non-politic ans when they run for office and make mistakes that professional politicians could cover up?  Such as what happened to Herman Cain last season.

Why was Rick Perry disregarded becasue of poor public speaking skills?  Shouldn't we have been comparing records?

It then occurred to me that the way that presidential elections work is closer to American Idol, then it is an assessment of which person would be a better president.

The primaries, campaigning, and debates require a whole lot of funding and good public speaking skills, etc.

We could eliminate much of that, and favor substance over style with a new president selection process.

I suggest having each party's convention be where the governors from every state (of the appropriate party) gather to compare the records in their states.  Selecting the two candidates could be a result of comparing a state's unemployment rate, education rate, crime, GDP, etc. rather than about who's best at being a politician.

The presidential selection could be between the democratic governor who's state has improved the most under his tenure and the republican governor who's state has improved the most.

Isn't that a better idea than what we do now?

I, of course, recognize that such a system would be more boring to the uninformed and people will forever value style over substance.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm Skeptical of Evolution

The subject of evolution is important to a lot of people.   I'm skeptical of it.

Firstly, although its becoming a cliche to say so, unless you are a biologist, or similar, weather evolution is accurate or not has no bearing on your life.

Secondly, I'm not arguing that species don't change, for example, their color thanks to evolution.  This post is to say that I don't think evolution causes radical changes in species.  ie...get back to me when you find a mouse with antlers, or a fish with claws.

Charles Darwin supposedly came around to the idea of evolution becasue he went to in island and saw birds with different beaks.  That was nearly 200 years ago.  If we go to the Galapagos today and find those bird species, does anyone think that any of them will be meaningfully different than they were 200 years ago?  How long before one of the bird species grows teeth?  Or has some other sort of radical evolutionary change?

Let's look at mammals, for example.  There exist today: bats, whales, horses, elephants, and people.  Every mammal has two eyes on the front-ish, top-ish, part of its head.  Every mammal has two front and two back legs (even whales have vestigial back legs).  There are all sorts of other similarities among mammals too.

There exist a huge rage of types of mammals and yet we all have two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one mouth, etc.  If there is a range of animals as divers as bats to whales, and if evolution were true, then shouldn't their be an array of the number of eyes, ears, noses, etc.?

Insects have an array of eyes and so on, but I'll bet that we could travel a billion years in the future and the insects of then would be approximately the same as those today.  If evolution is true, then how long must we wait until we see an insect with skin?  Or a duck with horns?

Another problem that I have with this theory is that when an abnormality occurs, then that one thing is less likely to survive and less likely to mate.  For example: if a person is born with horns, would he be more, or less likely to mate?  Even if he did mate wouldn't his abnormality still be abnormal and the offspring likely to not have it?

A Business Idea

The idea is that becasue there is a trend for people to buy "organic" and pesticide-free. herbicide-free, etc food and they are willing to pay for it; then if an enterprising person bought a small are of land in or near a city, then that person could charge people for renting a small area of land and tools on which to grow their own food.

You could own an abandoned lot or three, put a small shed with rakes, tilers, etc and in exchange for a fee you'd give them a key to the shed and an area of your land.

Environmentalist city people would get the joy of growing their own food near where they live.

The money making part could work similar to the way that gym memberships do.  (Upfront payment, who cares if they grow anything.)

One major problem would be being allowed to have a commercial farm in residential or commercial zones.  Getting a pass on the zoning laws would likely be a hassle.

Its a rough idea, but its the execution that matters in business not the idea.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Good & Bad Companies, Part 2

I remember the Sim City game series as being exceptional and everyone who played it was very impressed with each version of the game.  I was surprised to discover that for the newest release 2,100 of the 2,500 Amazon reviewers had given it the lowest rating possible.

Then I discovered that this new Sim City game was not created by its original company.  It seems that Electronic Arts had made this latest game.  I spent lots of time playing EA games in the past.  I've spent lots of time playing several of the Madden football and Tiger Woods PGA tour games. 

But something has happened to this once good company.  

I haven't played Madden since the switch to the PS3 consoles becasue the new games are unplayably awful, and missing content from earlier games.

Thanks EA, for ending the time I wasted playing Madden by making the new versions so awful.

I was recently interested in playing golf on my PlayStation too.  I looked at the Amazon reviews and discovered that the new golf game first requires $60 to buy the game and then you need to pay additional money in order play on half of the courses.

Thanks EA, for ending the time that I wasted playing golf on my PlayStation by requiring stupid extra costs for half of your content.

Then we come to Sim City. Even though 400 out of 2,500 reviewers gave it more than the lowest possible rating, even some of the 5 star reviews seem to be sarcastic.

for example, a 5 star review:
Some people just don't "get it," man...

Sim City 2013 isn't a videogame, it's art.

EA is quite obviously attempting to create a work representative of modern Dadism or protest art using a completely new medium. Anyone that takes a step back can easily see EA is making a strong statement against "the man" and their DRM tactics which constantly cripple the video game industry. Video games aren't a common medium so I understand the confusion. There will be plenty of people who aren't art aficionados who don't realize they're not spending $59.99 on a video game, but on a beautiful protest piece. The brilliant thing is the piece is so subtle that both the art and video game crowd completely understand and develop the ire for DRM that was intended in the first place. Probably one of the most effective pieces for the movement I've ever seen.

I mean seriously gamers... 5 servers at launch? Removal of key features to "reduce bandwidth constraints?" You don't seriously think EA could screw up that badly, do you?

Personally, I can't wait to see an instillation on the subject in the Museum of Modern Art, and I for one would just like to say: "Bravo EA, Bravo."
These comments seemed interesting, so I went to see the EA website to see if they had anything to say aboutthe awful ratings of a highly anticipated game.

Their CEO, Peter Moore, wrote a message on their blog.

Apparently lots of people are unhappy with EA.

from his message:
The tallest trees catch the most wind. 
That’s an expression I frequently use when asked to defend EA’s place in the gaming industry.  And it comes to mind again this week as we get deeper into the brackets of an annual Web poll to name the “Worst Company in America.”

This is the same poll that last year judged us as worse than companies responsible for the biggest oil spill in history, the mortgage crisis, and bank bailouts that cost millions of taxpayer dollars.  The complaints against us last year were our support of SOPA (not true), and that they didn’t like the ending to Mass Effect 3.

This year’s contest started in March with EA outpolling a company which organizers contend is conspiring to corner the world market on mid-priced beer, and (gulp) allegedly waters down its product.  That debate takes place in bars – our audience lives on the Internet.  So no surprise that we drew more votes there.

Let me cut to the chase: it appears EA is going to “win.”  Like the Yankees, Lakers and Manchester United, EA is one of those organizations that is defined by both a legacy of success, and a legion of critics (especially me regarding all three of those teams).
I don't think that a video game company is the worst in the country.  (Maybe GE is, though.)

After reading this CEO's message, I'm not impressed by what he means to do to rectify the problems with all of their new games (because he doesn't even allude to the fact that they are bad).  Instead I'm left with a desire to learn about all the methods of arguments, so that I can point exactly to where he is trying to be devious.

If I knew the correct names for all of his debating tactics, then I'd point to where he felt the need to explain that he doesn't like the Yankees.  (Did he think that I'd like him more becasue he doesn't like them?)

I could also give the correct name for the tactic that redirects the attention of his readers.  He lists some criticisms against his company, which we're expected to believe are the reasons why EA is not fondly thought of these days. 

One if these points is:
  • In the past year, we have received thousands of emails and postcards protesting against EA for allowing players to create LGBT characters in our games.  This week, we’re seeing posts on conservative web sites urging people to protest our LGBT policy by voting EA the Worst Company in America.
That last one is particularly telling.  If that’s what makes us the worst company, bring it on.  Because we're not caving on that.
People wrote unfavorable reviews on Sim City 5 becasue of loading times, removal of content compared to Sim City 4, the smallness of the map, etc.

How many people, do you suppose went to Amazon to give Sim City 5 a 1 star review and write about long loading screens becasue they oppose gay marriage?

Does this guy really think that by saying the right things on gay marriage (being politically correct) will show himself to be a brave and bold leader, worthy of support?

Note to Peter Moore, CEO Electronic Arts:
Your company is being criticized becasue you once made good games but they seem to get worse each year.  We also don't like your purchasing the exclusive rights to football video games preventing any competition, and leaving your shoddy offerings as the only football games viable.  Neither do we like the fact that all of your games seem to be filled with ads, and the idea that your marketing department has a larger budget than the people who actually produce the games.  Undo everything that you've done over the last 5, or so, years and we, your customers, will be happier.
 "The tallest trees catch the most wind."

What a dick.

Good Companies and Bad Companies, Part 1

After reading Atlas Shrugged I wondered if there are great companies run by near-heroic men in real life too.  In the so called Guilded Age of America we had great businesses founded and run by men like John Rockefeller, Dale Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, etc.  These companies were great successes while they provided the goods and services that people wanted to buy.  Cars became available to the masses thanks to Ford's assembly line.  The continent was crossed on Vanderbilt trains.  All that, and more, was powered by oil from Rockefeller's wells and made from Carnegie's steel.

Who are the great industrialists of today?  What are the great companies of today?

Bill Gates and Microsoft may qualify.  So might Steve Jobs and Apple.  Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com, too.

I could point to a few more but the problem with many of the largest companies today is that they get an awful lot of laws, tariffs, and restrictions from their Washington lobbying efforts.  Too many companies today are large becasue of their money in Washington.  Would there have been a restrictive incandescent light bulb law had GE not had a good relationship with the federal government and an alternative light bulb that no one would buy if not for government laws restricting the sale of their competitors.  (And some misinformation about CFLs being better for the environment.  And misinformation about CFLs actually being able to light up a room.)

I'm sure that the great industrialists of the past were flawed, but they were still great.

Two things inspired me to write this post.  First was that I recently read an article about Jim Koch the founder of the company that makes Sam Adams beer.  With only 1% of the American beer market he's no Rockefeller, but I have neither read nor heard anything about him or his company that I disliked.

The Boston Beer Company is currently my favorite company in the word.  Although I will admit to being heavily influenced by my fondness for its product.  [Excepting Guinness] I wonder why those of you who drink beer drink anything else.

My other inspiration for writing this post was my interest in a certain video game.  Long ago I spent time playing several Sim City games.  I had heard that there was a new one out, and so I checked it out.

And becasue of the mean things that I say about it, I don't want to include the name of its stupid new manufacturer, or its stupid CEO, in the same post as the other companies that I have listed in this post.

To be continued...in a few hours.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Hitchhiking Crash Course: How to Travel the World and Meet Cool People

Matt Forney's new book, The Hitchhiking Crash Course: How to Travel the World and Meet Cool People, is a short introduction to the world of hitchhiking.

The book is useful for potential hitchhikers becasue of things like the recommended items to bring and information on how to go about hitchhiking.

Like anything else, there is a learning curve to being successful.  This book's recommendations on how to look, act, and where the best places to be to get a ride, or a shower would no doubt shorten the learning curve for someone following in his footsteps. 

I read the book hoping to read a bit about the country and Matt's experiences along.  But this book is a practical guide to hitchhiking, not a collection of the interesting things that he did.

This book is recommended for practical advice on hitchhiking, but not for entertainment purposes.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Public Opinion

I was looking at a post about Sen. Baccus wondering about the flaws in Obamacare. 

One commenter pointed out that Obamacare is unpopular.  I wonder if that's true.  If I talk to my white middle class friends, then they're not fond of it.  But if I went to talk to the poor inner city blacks, then I'd bet I'd hear about how good Obamacare will be.

How do we know what public opinion is?

Isn't polling largely based on who gets polled?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

More Things I Wonder About, Income Tax Edition

Are the little tattoos some girls get below their ears meant to say: "I aspire to never be more than 'white trash'"?

Why the desire for "insecurity hiders" anyway? (Term from Around the World in 80 Girls.)

Why are taxes due on April 15th?  Why not at the end of the calender year?

Why is it I am perfectly capable of algebra, geometry, and calculus, but I have great difficulty filling out my tax form?

Could sleeping in become a marketable skill?

Why does each online password have a different requirement for numbers, letters, and symbols?

How many seconds does such a password delay someone who wants access?

How much pain can I inflict on whoever came up with our tax code?

Why do you imbeciles keep voting for the #@%&@*!s that came up with our tax laws and continue to support them?

Why when its late at night do I not want to go to sleep, but when its morning I don't want to get up?

Will we ever be rid of our intellectual property laws?

After the previous question I was going to post a video of an Irish comedian on waking up in the morning.  But the video clip was removed from YouTube, no doubt becasue we should buy his dvds rather than watch his shows for free.  So rather than directing a handful of blog readers to a reasonably funny comedian, he'll get no video posting, and a handful of blog readers that may have become new fans of his work won't have the chance.

Take that intellectual property laws!

So instead of that comedian, how about a funnier one (Dara O'Briain) who has more fun with the audience member who films his show:

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What do we get for our taxes?

The government spends a lot of money.  What do we get for all of that spending?

Table 4.1 lists all of the "Outlays by Agency"

Are we getting a good bang for our buck?

"Department or other unit" - What we get from it
  • Legislative branch - our congressmen, and their staff, get paid
  • Judicial branch - our judges get paid
  • Dept. of Agriculture - we pay some farmers not to farm, so that prices go up, and it costs more to feed the poor, we pay other farmers to farm
  • Dept. of Commerce - we tell people to buy stuff, if it wasn't for the Dept. of Commerce I'd never know what to do when I want milk, who else tells me to go buy some?
  • Dept. of Defense - we get soldiers, tanks, submarines, and wars
  • Dept. of Education - we get student loan debt and people who don't know the capitals of all 57 states
  • Dept. of Energy - I thought that power plants were privately operated, this department must be in charge of banning pipelines and getting in their way, or helping the power companies by drafting rules to prevent competitors from forming
  • Dept. of Health and Human Services - No Americans are poor or sick thanks to these guys
  • Dept. of Homeland Security - I thought that we already had soldiers, tanks, and submarines?
  • Dept. of Housing and Urban Development -blacks get government funded housing
  • Dept. of the Interior - vacuums?
  • Dept. of Justice - I thought we already spent billions on a "Judicial branch"?
  • Dept. of Labor - encourages outsourcing
  • Dept. of State - flies some of our politicians around the world, I'd pay double for only one-way tickets
  • Dept. of Transportation - $1,000,000 bus stops, speeding tickets, and things known as "boondoggles"
  • Dept. of the Treasury - 8 balanced budgets since 1950
  • Dept. of Veterans Affairs - why isn't this included in the defense department?
  • Corps of Engineers - ?
  • Other Defense Civil Programs - "other," I assume
  • Environmental Protection Agency - rules to save newts
  • Executive Office of the President - I would post a picture of the first "lady" on vacation, but I wouldn't want to look at it myself
  • General Services Administration - I didn't know that we had an official government help desk!
  • International Assistance Programs -are these the guys who funded Osama bin Laden during the Iran/Iraq war?
  • NASA - cancelled space programs and WD-40
  • National Science Program - Science!
  • Office of Personnel Management - what?
  • Small Business Administration - forms for small businesses to fill out, plus more forms, and more forms, and more forms, and laws, and forms, and did I mention forms?
  • Social Security Administration - misinformation on whether or not there is a special SS account or whether its revenues are just added to the rest of the budget
  • Other Independent Agencies - um..."other"?
  • Allowances - Hey, I found the official government waste everyone agrees to want to cut!  Why is it still here?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Quote of the Day, 3/16/2013

To be governed is to be watched over, inspected, spied on, directed, legislated at, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, assessed, weighed, censored, ordered about, by men who have neither the right, nor the knowledge, nor the virtue… To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

-Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Monday, April 15, 2013


I was thinking about protests recently.  If protesters mean what they say, then why don't they put their money where their mouths are?

Wisconsin saw large protests a while ago because our governor wanted to limit the collective bargaining for public school teachers.  Rather than complain, and call me names, why didn't all the protesters each put some money, and maybe volunteer work, towards starting their own schools?  They could teach nothing but global warming and sensitivity training all day.  They could pay their teachers as much as they want.  And those of us who voted for our governor would have nothing to complain about.  The protesters would get what they want and they would not be demanding to take taxes from others by force.

Why don't environmental protestors get together and buy large chunks of land and tell loggers to get bent?

This idea may not work for every form of protest, but why don't the protesters spend more time trying their own ideas without demanding that people who disagree pay for the things that the protestors want?

(fyi: protesters are hypocrites who feel good when they try to "save the world.")

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Link and A Book

The Free Northerner has written the best summary of our current "dating" situation that I have read.

An excerpt:
That little mind game aside, she wants to feel chemistry; she desires you to sexually and emotionally excite her. To be sexually and emotionally excited, your romance has to feel “natural” to her. Deliberate romance feels “artificial”, and artificial love can’t be “true love”. If you have to work at it or verbalize, it kills the “chemistry”. You need to “just get it”.

Essentially, the modern women wants spontaneity, to be “swept off her feet”. She wants it to “just happen.” As soon as you start verbalizing things, then it is no longer just happening, it is planned; it has become artificial. Verbalized romance is no longer “true love” (under this warped definition of love) because it is no longer “natural”.

As per one of the original examples from smoothreentry, by calling a date, “a date”, you are robbing the date of all sponteneity. It has become planned and no longer feels natural.

I’m going to guess the same with the example of sleeping over at her house. The times you slept over at her place, it probably “just happened”. It felt natural. When you assumed you were sleeping over, you killed the spontaneity of the sleeping over at her house. It became planned, and was no longer romantic. She didn’t feel excited about it.

Also, Matt Forney's new book is out, "The Hitchhiking Crash Course."  Matt, if you don't know, hitchhiked his way from New York to Oregon last year, and he had several interesting experiences along the way.

Expect my review of it later in the week.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Just a Question

Japan has a surplus of so called "herbivores."  Japan hasn't had a military force of size for several decades.  Coincidence?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quote of the Day, 4/12/2013

In the absence of licensure, zoning and other regulations, how many people would start a restaurant today if all they needed was their living room and their kitchen? How many people would start a beauty salon today if all they needed was a chair and some scissors, combs, gels and so on? How many people would start a taxi service today if all they needed was a car and a cellphone? How many people would start a day care service today if a bunch of working parents could simply get together and pool their resources to pay a few of their number to take care of the children of the rest? These are not the sorts of small businesses that receive SBIR awards; they are the sorts of small businesses that get hammered down by the full strength of the state whenever they dare to make an appearance without threading the lengthy and costly maze of the state’s permission process. The assistance that small firms receive comes largely at the expense, not of larger firms, but of still smaller firms — or of those who would start such smaller firms if they could.

-Roderick Long

Rich Capitalists are Better than Other Rich

A thousand years ago the richest people were those who controlled the most land and had the most peasants to work for them.

Many liberals seem to think that that is how all modern rich became rich today: on the backs of their employees.

A hundred years ago the people who were richest were those who provided the most good for the most people.  Rockefeller became rich by providing oil for lamps, ending whaling, providing oil for power plants, giving us electricity, providing gas for cars giving us mobility.  Carnegie got rich by providing steel, from which we got cars, ships, tools, and railroads.  Vanderbilt got rich by creating railroads.  All of these rich became so because many others were ready, willing, and able to pay for the goods and services that these men provided.  Even had they ignored charities altogether the world would still have become a better place thanks to their work.  And they were rightly rewarded for their work by becoming wealthy.

If you disagree, then tell me which of the following to people got more out of the following  situation: a surgeon who performed a life saving surgery and got lots of money, or the person who's life was saved? 

Which do you prefer: life or money? 

Isn't getting lots of money for saving lives a fine, and appropriate, reward?

Isn't getting lots of money for building homes, cars, computers...a fine, and appropriate, reward?

Many liberals still think that we live in the same world as the pre-America world.  We don't.  Since America was founded most of the people who have become rich have done so because they created and invented good things.

Not all modern rich have become so because of their great deeds.  Many have done so becasue they get special deals from the government; rules to prevent completion, tariffs to prevent importing competition, subsidies, bailouts, and more.

Most people who became rich since America was founded have done so becasue they were the best at serving their fellow man.  Keep that in mind when someone says, "the rich need to pay their fair share."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Looters are Vile

I was listening to this book talk about the rich in America's history, while relearning how to tie flies.

The author starts out by talking about his recent surgery.  A surgery no doubt performed by a surgeon who he would call "rich" and proceeds to talk about his book: The Good Rich and What They Cost Us."

I found it irritating that there he was sitting with his cane and his surgically repaired body while he critizised people who worked hard and became "rich," just like his surgeon.

He argued that you can have democracy or equality and the philanthropic "rich" were only trying to look good to the masses with their philanthropy.  He was arguing that in order for people to be "equal" there can be no rich.  He was arguing that people who work hard and provide goods and services should be no more compensated than anyone else.

He was saying that he, who writes books of entertainment for a living, is just as important as his surgeon.  I'm not disparaging writers or providers of entertainment, but how long would society survive with only writers; how about only doctors?

He also argued that rich philanthropists, like John Rockefeller, only gave money away so that he would be well regarded by the public.  No doubt, he would argue that the "rich" who did not give money away are jerks who did not give anything to the society that gave them the opportunity to become rich.  In this author's mind the rich are jerks no matter what they do.

A rich person like Bill Gates has done more good for the world than all of the politicians in the history of the world, even if he had never given one nickle away to charity.  His contributions to the world meant that computers became useable for all the people in the world.  Without him there would be no personal computers, no smart phones, no iPads, no computers in manufacturing, no personal gps...

People that get rich by providing goods and service (as opposed to the people who get rich thanks to government deals and laws) to people who are ready, willing, and able to buy them are doing more good in the world than all of the people who complain about "the rich" not "paying their fair share."

Where would you rather live: in a society where everyone is "equal" and very giving or one where some people invent things like cars and get rich because of it?

I've got two words to say to that author, one stars with "f" and the second ends with "u."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fly Tying and Cooking

I was just relearning how to tie flies (for fly fishing).  It occurred to me that tying flies is similar to cooking in that the most important part is to have good ingredients (or parts) and then not screw them up.

I bet that I can cook a better steak than the best chef in the world, if I get the best cut of meat in the world to work with and his cut of meat is mediocre.  My job then would be just to not screw it up.  (He'd probably win if his cut of meat was improved to "above average.")

With fly tying you need the right items in order to tie a fly correctly.  You can screw up the timing too, but you can't tie a Black Gnat without black hackle and black dubbing.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Keynesian Economics Didn't Work in Japan

Douglas French wrote about the economic history of Japan over the last two decades.  It started with a real estate bubble bursting and has continued with bailouts, stimulus, quantitative easing, zero percent interest rates, tax rate cuts, and no spending cuts. 

Does any of that sound familiar? 

Do you suppose that the results are any good?
When that doozy of a bubble popped, the supposedly halfhearted BOJ transformed the world’s healthiest OECD country in 1990 into a country with a public debt of 240% of GDP. Bill Bonner quips, “The Japanese tried to cure an alcoholic with heroin. Now they’re addicted to it.”

Japan’s monetary policy aggressively lowered rates to 0.5% between 1991-1995 and has operated a zero interest rate policy virtually ever since.

The Japanese government didn’t just leave matters to the monetary authorities. Between 1992-1995, it tried six stimulus plans totaling 65.5 trillion yen and even cut tax rates in 1994. It tried cutting taxes again in 1998, but government spending was never cut.

In 1998, another stimulus package of 16.7 trillion yen was rolled out, nearly half of which was for public works projects. Later in the same year, another stimulus package was announced, totaling 23.9 trillion yen. The very next year, an 18 trillion yen stimulus was tried, and in October 2000, another stimulus of 11 trillion yen was announced.
During the 1990s, Japan tried 10 fiscal stimulus packages totaling more than 100 trillion yen, and each failed to cure the recession.

In spring 2001, the BOJ switched to a policy of quantitative easing — targeting the growth of the money supply, instead of nominal interest rates — in order to engineer a rebound in demand growth.

The BOJ’s quantitative easing and large increase in liquidity stopped the fall in land prices by 2003. Japan’s central bank held interest rates at zero until early 2007, when it boosted its discount rate back to 0.5% in two steps by midyear. But the BOJ quickly reverted back to its zero interest rate policy.

In August 2008, the Japanese government unveiled an 11.5 trillion yen stimulus. The package, which included 1.8 trillion yen in new spending and nearly 10 trillion yen in government loans and credit guarantees, was in response to news that the Japanese economy the previous month suffered its biggest contraction in seven years and inflation had topped 2% for the first time in a decade.

In December 2009, Reuters reported, “The Bank of Japan reinforced its commitment to maintain very low interest rates on Friday and set the scene for a further easing of monetary policy to fight deflation. The bank said that it would not tolerate zero inflation or falling prices.”

In a paper for the International Monetary Fund entitled Bank of Japan’s Monetary Easing Measures: Are They Powerful and Comprehensive?, W. Raphael Lam wrote that the BOJ had “expanded its tool kit through a series of monetary easing measures since early 2009.” The BOJ instituted new asset purchase programs allowing the central bank to purchase corporate bonds, commercial paper, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and real estate investment trusts (REITs).

According to Lam’s work, the BOJ bought 134.8 trillion yen worth of government and corporate paper between December 2008 and August 2011. Lam described the impact of these purchases as “broad-based and comprehensive,” but it failed to impact “inflation expectations.”

For more than two decades, the Japanese central bank and government have emptied the Keynesian tool chest looking for anything that would slay the deflation dragon. Reading the hysterics of the financial press and Japanese central bankers, one would think prices are plunging. Or that borrowers cannot repay loans and the economy is not just at a standstill, but in a tailspin. Tokyo must be one big soup line.
Why would doing all of those things here give us better results than the Japanese got?

Do you want to know what the American economy will look like in the next few years?  Have a look at Japan's new normal.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Maybe Fast Food Isn't So Bad

If nothing else we know that its style over substance when you are selling something.

Penn & Teller on fast food:

On organic food:

Disclaimer: Fast food is still too salty.

Friday, April 5, 2013

PC Sensitivity

I read an article about some politicians who want the Washington Redskins to change their name because some white people are offended on behalf of the "native Americans".

Some of the people arguing in favor of changing the name had some good alternative suggestions:

"...the Mandingos, the Brothers, the Yellowskins, insert your ethnic minority here."

Who wouldn't want to watch the "Washington insert your ethnic minority heres"?

"The Washington Negros or how about the Washington Crackers?"

“Pittsburgh Polacks” or the “Washington Wetbacks”

The Pittsburgh Polacks would be a sweet name for a team.

Another good idea:

"They should just start bleeping the name during broadcasts. That would be hilarious."

Game is Appropriate Always

My hair was past shoulder length yesterday morning, and I had some work things to do today, so I went and got a haircut yesterday.

It had been about 2 years exactly since my last haircut, and I never cared for having it done anyway.

I thought that I could go to a salon and ask the opinion of the hairdresser.  I told her that she could do whatever she thought would be good.  And this confused her.

My guess is that had I said, "Do this"  Then it would have been no problem, but as it was she didn't know what to do.

Whoever says "women need to be led" may be very correct.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Random Car Thoughts

I've been gathering my thoughts on cars while I have been driving my sister's old car rather than mine before I sell it.  (Anybody interested in a 2001 Hitlermobile Volkswagen Jetta? 13K miles $2000)

My grandmother was more correct than she realized when she pointed out that SUVs are just vans.

Is it just the Jetta or do all front wheel drive cars not like aggressive driving?

I had to get a new driver's license recently.  It took an hour to get my picture taken and then wait until the person behind the counter told me that I'd get the new one in the mail.

On a recent hour drive and hour back drive I saw eight police cars, seven were looking for speeders or had one stopped already.  How much did it cost to pay their salaries, and for their cars, and for their car's modifications, and for their computers on which they play solitaire?

Did the tickets they wrote out cover all of those costs?  Plus the costs of the courthouse and the judge, etc.?

What would happen the next time I'm stopped for speeding if the conversion went like this:
Member of the police farce: "Do you know why I pulled you over."

Me: "To generate revenue for the government."
Incidentally, my heart nearly skips a beat whenever I see a police car; even if I'm just walking down the street; even though I've only ever been stopped by the [real] police for traffic infractions.

Which is more dangerous: having people spend much time driving looking at their speedometer and parking on the edge of busy roads while being ticketed or having police ignore speeding that is not reckless?

Does anyone know a Lexus owner who is not black and/ or a teacher?

Buick drivers are old and/ or quite poor.

Volkswagen drivers are liberals.

And owners of Toyota trucks are the best sort of people.

I've still got my eye on that Factory Five Racing MK4 Roadster kit car.

Why do car radios have so many unnecessary features?  Whats wrong with having a radio that plays FM/AM, CD's, and connects to MP3s and doesn't have options to change the color of the lights, or connect only to certain obsolete iPods, etc?

That Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet sure looked cool, but I can't imagine rationalizing buying one.  (Why is is so hard to find a picture of one to copy here?)

A Mazda Miata would seem to be a good car to have, but it is a chick car.  Maybe a body kit would make it less of a chick car.

Anyone else desirous of a late 'sixties Alfa Romero?

1967 Alfa Romeo GTV

How unreliable are they really?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Designing A Government

I realize that our current government is very likely past the point of saving.  (Bring on the bankruptcy! And sooner rather than later.)  But if we were going to design a federal government for this country, what should it look like?

I think Ayn Rand was right in stating that the three tasks of government should be protecting citizens from outsiders, protecting citizens from each other, and having a judical system to resolve disputes.

That means the government should have police, armed forces, and a court system.

It seems to me that the original purpose of the United States was to have a collection of states that did their own thing, but had free trade with each other, and supported each other in times of war.  This is opposed to what we have now with the central government dictating many rules and regulations that everyone must follow, or else.  Instead of having 50 experiments we have only one.  In many areas states are not allowed to try to improve things. 

This is one thing that annoys me about the left.  Some will complain that it is not "fair" to take risks in being different in each state, without realizing that federal laws are just as much of a risky experiment, even if it is only one at a time.

Anyway, I would argue that of the three functions of government the federal government need only to deal with the armed forced and court system.  Who better to attempt to protect people from each other than the governments that are nearby?

What are some other things that a federal government should do?

A legislative branch?  I can see the need to have representatives from each state coming together in order to decided war must be declared against some other country.  But what else would they be needed to do?  If a state is attacked then couldn't a president declare war?  Perhaps with a majority of votes from the states governors?  Maybe we should skip the legislature and give their one(?) duty to the states' governors.

Boarder security?  International boarders coincide with state boarders too.  Why not let boarder states take care of their security they way that they want?  This may not be "fair" to leave this problem to individual states, who will incur increased expenses.  But why not ask the citizens of Arizona what they think of the federal government's "help" on the issue?  If I were a boarder state, I'd rather need to pay more but do things they way I want, then pay less and have to ask someone else to do things in a way that I don't want.

Why do we have residency requirements for states and for the country?  Why not say that a resident of any state is a resident of the country? Is the redundancy nessesary?

Foreign relations?   We have embassies in most of the world's countries, and vice versa.  What do they do?  I can understand helping travelers return home.  But is that worth the cost of paying someone, and his family, and chefs, and housekeepers, and security, and chauffeurs, and a house, etc. to stay in a foreign country?  Should a country even be responsible for citizens who choose to leave the country?

 What does the federal government do, foreign relation wise, that the states cannot do themselves?

I wonder about all of the embassies in Washington D.C.  What do all the ambassadors do all day?  (Besides accumulate parking tickets?)  The ratio of ambassadors to the Secretary of State and deputy Secretary of State has got to be around 170 to 2.  Does each Secretary of State even meet with each country's ambassador, even once every term?

Being an ambassador does sound like a fun job to have.  It sounds like you get paid to live in a foreign country at no expense to you.

Can any of you commenters think of something that the federal government should do that each state cannot?

This would leave us with a much smaller government, which would require much less in taxes.  This could be good for those of you liberals, because it should be much easier to get all of the politicians in your state to agree on how to spend things, than it is to convince the politicians from all around the country to agree with you.  Lower taxes and fewer jobs being done by the federal government would give you much more freedom to increase your local taxes and you'd have an argument to expand your government in your own state.

I hear that many in some states, like New York, pay more than 50% of their income in combined taxes to their state and the federal government.  Even you liberals should agree that only so much can be realistically taxes from someone.  Wouldn't you rather have more of those tax dollars go to your more local government, where your individual voice can make more of a difference in directing where those tax dollars go?

An example for those of you liberals who disagree with my thinking in this post:

Which is more likely:

1) Gay marriage becoming legalized in some states (as has happened already)
2) Convincing a majority of politicians from around the country to vote for gay marriage

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Harvey was kind enough to quote and link to me last week about me pointing out how much money we waste on "helping" the poor in this country.

One of my earliest posts was to give you the data showing how much money we spend on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Unemployment benefits.

Let's have a look at the numbers for 2012.  Table 1.1, if you please.

Total receipts: $2,468,599,000,000
Total outlays: $3,795,547,000,000
Total deficit: $1,326,948,000,000

Additional fun facts:

U.S. Population: 315,575,000
Total receipts per person: $7822.54
Total outlays per person: $12,027.40

If the government takes $8000 from each person and then gives each person $12,000 back, then how come we are not getting lots richer?

Table 4.1, if you don't mind.

2012 selected outlays:
Department of Health and Human Services: $871,136,000,000
Department of Housing and Urban Development: $56,788,000,000
Department of Labor: $127,157,000,000
Social Security Administration (On-budget): $188,552,000,000
Social Security Administration (Off-budget): $638,509,000,000

I think that that covers most of the helping the poor government spending.

Total of 2012 selected outlays: $1,882,142,000,000
Total receipts: $2,468,599,000

In 2012 the federal government spent [at least] $1,882,142,000,000 on helping the poor.

Apparently, poverty is defined as less than $23,000 per year.

For the total spent on poverty we could give the poorest 81,832,261 Americans (that's the poorest 26%) a check to push their income over the poverty level.

Why are there any poor Americans if we are spending enough on the poor to completely cover the income of 26% of the citizens?


The last link was to a Think Progress article.  I wanted to know the number of Americans in poverty (46.6 million).

Another though occurred to me while reading that article. 

The article attempts to show that 33.3 million Americans were prevented from going into poverty thanks to four government programs: Social Security, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Unemployment Insurance.
  • Most Americans are not in poverty.
  • 46.6 million Americans are in poverty.
  • 33.3 million Americans were saved from poverty thanks to the government.
So: $1,882,142,000,000 was spent in successfully saving 33.3 million from poverty.  That means that it takes $56,520.78 of spending on anti-poverty programs to save someone from going poor.

Why does the government need to spend twice as much as the poverty level in order to save someone from poverty? 

Wouldn't handing each of those 33.3 million a check for $23,000 cost half as much and be equally effective?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ammunition Shortage

Our current shortage of guns and ammunition is quite funny if you forget about the seriousness of it.

Points to consider:
All of this is a bit amusing, but another thing I find funny is that we are in a depression and therefore we should applaud businesses that are successful in this difficult time.  (Unless they are successful because the government gave them special deals.)  And yet, despite this, the fact that gun makers are financially successful is worrying to some liberals.

If we could all do the opposite of what the government wants elsewhere, then we might be onto something.