12:48 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Let them eat cake!



There’s been a great deal of talk by the CRRs trying to understand exactly what the anti-war movement’s motivation really is. Some have thrown up their hands in disgust, and called them Anti-American or ‘Blame America First’ –ers. Some have come up with torturous explanations of colors of social development. Some have talked about a too-intense association with the victims, leading to a conclusion that might makes wrong.

Of course, no one answer will apply in every case. But I think I managed to stumble across one possible explanation that applies fairly broadly.

LLDs of all types scream shrilly about oil, about avenging Papa Bush, about giving peace a chance. They do this in denial (or perhaps ignorance) of facts and logical arguments. It’s almost as if they live in a separate reality that doesn’t demand you back up assertions with logic or evidence.
All this reminds me of the legend of Marie Antoinette. She probably was a very compassionate woman, and her intelligence really wasn’t a part of the equation. Simply put, she was so shielded from reality that she had no concept of the true situation of the people she tried to advise. She was really baffled why their lack of bread was an issue, because didn’t everyone have plenty to eat?
The Economy is in bad shape, in part because the government takes too much money to support excessive spending! Well, then, the Antionette liberals respond, raise taxes so we can buy cake for everyone!
The Iraqis (or Cubans, or North Koreans) are so oppressed by their ruthless dictators that they have no bread to eat! Well, then, lift the sanctions and let them eat cake!
We have been attacked by terrorists who want all non-Muslims killed or converted. Well, then, give them cake until they stop resenting us!

So be kind to the LLD standing next to you. S/He is a good person, kind and intelligent, who simply doesn’t have a clue what the true situation is.
|W|P|82893769|W|P||W|P|2:18 AM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Sniper Update



This is an update on this post below.
The information comes from Drudge Report:
My summary:
The police now suspect multiple shooters using multiple white vans. They think it is unusual that he has hit 10 people in 10 days. Furthermore, there are eyewitness accounts of different styles of white vans. Witnesses have seen a white Dodge Caravan without side windows, a white Chevy Astro van without side windows and with ladders on top, and the original white cube van.
My commentary:
Something occurred to me as I was reading this. I should have thought of it when I first wrote the post about the taunting note. According to logic, when a killer makes a change in his M.O., it's not just a one-time affair, and it represents something. Carelessness, perhaps, or maybe a desire to get caught. I don't know which shooting it was that the killer left the tarot card behind; itcertainly wasn't the 9th or 10th. If he was growing more brash or bold, he would have left more notes or other signs of increased sloppiness on subsequent shootings. Instead, he went back to his old M.O. after just this one aberration. This adds additional support to the idea that it is multiple shooters. Which, in turn, adds additional evidence that it's terrorism. Of course, this assumes that the police haven't successfully suppressed other clues.
The one thing I thought rather strange was that the police said that they were beginning to suspect the shooter was shooting from the rear of the vans rather than from the passenger window. I really hate to be condescending...but, DUH! Shooting out the passenger door would be more obvious, much less comfortable for long stretches while the shooter waits for a victim, and would slow down the departure while the shooter stowed the rifle. If you fire from the back, you can assume a comfortable prone position with a tripod. As soon as you fire, you slam the doors shut and flee. It just makes sense.
I read somewhere (I don't remember if it was a news article or a blog pundit) that if it were an Al Qaeda operation, we would see multiple simultaneous attacks throughout the country to maximize confusion and terror. Actually, that's not necessarily so. The Al Qaeda cells are cut off from their Operations Directors, and thus would be forced (maybe 'allowed' is a better term) to work on their own. This may be a group trying to inspire other groups, or a group trying to start low-level terror after being possibly having been foiled in several more major attempts (perhaps without us even realizing we had foiled an attack).


|W|P|82879529|W|P||W|P|8:46 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Well, he beat me to it



I was going to write something to express my irritation that the anti-gun crowd is automatically taking the DC Sniper as proof we need more gun control. But Clayton Cramer did it first, and far better than I could. Incidentally, he saved me a lot of research time, too! Cool.

Here's an excerpt:

Gun control advocates, in their usual style, are dancing in the blood of murder victims, trying to get some mileage out of this situation for their bans on "sniper rifles" (that is, any rifle accurate enough to reliably take deer) and "assault weapons" (any gun that looks military and takes a high capacity magazine). Ditto for their demands for mandatory ballistic registration. Regular readers of my column in Shotgun News will know that I don't find these arguments terribly persuasive. You may also be surprised to find that I don't find the arguments advanced on the pro-gun side--that this is an argument for wider issuance of concealed weapon permits--very persuasive either.


Go read the whole thing.
|W|P|82871389|W|P||W|P|7:46 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Some Political Philosophy for you



I agree with this. These are some of the assumptions involved when I decide on the politics I support.

From Ipse Dixit. If you disagree, feel free to weigh in both here and there!

What do these two things have in common?

- Canada is experiencing a shortage of doctors and nurses. Projections point to a 30% decline in the number of doctors over the next 50 years.

- Britain is now the crime capital of the West. The UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute reveals that people in England and Wales experience more crime per head than people in the 17 other developed countries analysed in the survey.

Answer: These facts surprise only the people who implemented the policies that caused the conditions. Those of us who oppose socialized, government-run health care and wholesale disarmament of the law-abiding public predicted precisely these results.

Oh, they have one other thing in common: They will not cause a reconsideration of the policies which caused them. Rather, they will be used as justifications of further governmental depradations of their citizens' rights.


This is just a line to cancel out the html tags so my signature block will look right.
|W|P|82869383|W|P||W|P|7:29 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

A Twofer on Quote of the Day



Both from Tony Woodlief's Sand in the Gears. All the thoughts are good. These two are priceless.

Knowing one's own family is at risk might change one's perspective, I think. That's why gun control advocates tend not to act on the suggestion that they display front yard signs that read: "This home is gun-free."


I wonder if you traumatize children by leaving them in such predicaments long enough to take a picture.


Go have fun on his blog.
|W|P|82868876|W|P||W|P|7:08 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Okay, I’m whistling in the dark



As usual, some might say.

I’ve been thinking about the sniper note. I’m no profiler, of course. But that note he left on the card is about all we have.

(Full disclosure: I guessed the sniper would ‘lay low’ as he traveled to another city to continue his terror. That hasn’t happened, obviously, so I don’t consider myself a genius)

Quote: “Dear Mr. Policeman. I am God.”

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I have some experience with language and translations. I don’t think someone whose native language is English would say “Dear Mr. Policeman”. First, this is a taunt, right? I would think someone who grew up in the US would call him a pig, or a cop, or something a little more insulting. Furthermore, we don’t usually use a title after the word “dear”, except in the case where the title is part of a formal address, as in “Dear Mr. President." ‘Mr. Policeman’ just sounds funny to me. It's a minor mis-use typical of someone using English as a second language.
Going on from there, I don’t think the writer of the note has a strong emotional reaction to the word God. I also think it funny it was written on a Tarot card, because many people who use Tarot cards are pagans who don’t put much stock in ‘god’. (I realize I’m really reaching here, but I’m trying to catch a corner of any clue I can) I would also expect someone raised in the US to say something like “angel of death” in connection to the Tarot card, not ‘god’. It almost seems to me that it someone unfamiliar enough with western religions to equate the Tarot card “death” with God. I wish I could see the note itself to see the capitalizations, because that would provide a further clue. In short, although I originally thought this was an American terrorist, much like Timothy McVeigh or Terry Nichols, thinking about the wording on the note now convinces me that this is a non-Christian, non-western terrorist.

I welcome debate on this, because I have no idea if my assumptions hold water or not. They are, after all, my assumptions.
|W|P|82868225|W|P||W|P|6:54 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

This is worth a direct link



Clayton Cramer condenses much of the gun debate down to a few short paragraphs. There are other issues involved with this, of course. I'll eventually hit all of them as people much smarter than me cover them, but this is a good start. The next post on guns will be regarding this DC sniper. Stay tuned, batfriends.
|W|P|82867754|W|P||W|P|6:30 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Anecdotes from China



I’ve been to China twice. I went to Beijing both times, although I did take a short trip to TaiShan, a major tourist stop and important mountain in Chinese history. The first time I was with a group of people going to study language. I had been married to Yuehong for just under a year, and we couldn’t afford to have her come along. The second time was a few years later, and she had left about 6 weeks before me, taking our son to visit his grandparents in Beijing, who had moved there since my first visit. Since we were visiting family, we didn’t get out on the streets as much, so I didn’t get as much chance to talk to the people.
But the first time I did. I was constantly running into people fascinated by a white guy who could speak Chinese. I can’t tell you how many times I told people where I was from, my name, how long I’d been studying Chinese, etc. The same questions came up over and over, and while it was good practice at first, I ended up getting tired of it.
Eventually, I found an Internet Café hidden in a movie theater just 2 blocks from where we were staying. For the first 3 weeks of our 6 week trip, I had been traveling 45 minutes by bus to what I had thought was the closest Internet Café. This made it much more convenient to write email to my wife every day. I would write her a letter about 2 hours before I knew she would wake up and check her email, and wait to see if she wrote back. While waiting, I would drink TsingTao beer and hang out with the kids that worked there. It had to have been a great job for them, because they could browse the internet, play the latest computer games, and watch DVDs and VCDs for free. And get paid for it, too!
One interesting aspect of Chinese culture is that they don’t really date. You form a clique-sort of thing, a group of friends, with both males and females in it. It often seems to be roughly equal numbers. Then you go out and do stuff together, like dancing, trips to local scenic spots, bowling, eating, etcetera. For these kids, their social group consisted solely of their co-workers (from what I could tell from observation). They would come and hang out on their days off, so I could never tell who was working. I think they were all mediocre students who hadn’t passed the examination to get into college (competition is veryfierce, only about the top 20% get to go, I think—NOT fact-checked), because their ages ranged from 19-22. It’s possible they were all high school friends who managed to get hired at the same time when they opened the place up, or maybe they formed their group on the basis of employment, I don’t know.
From this social group, people eventually start pairing off. You don’t let anyone in the group know you like one of your opposites until you both know how you feel. And you don’t get to that point without a lot of subtle flirting. Of course, when you really like someone, the flirting is probably not as subtle as you think it is, so everyone usually knows when you start dating someone. But nothing really changes. You don’t hold hands, you certainly don’t kiss. At some point, you set a date for marriage, and then the truth comes out. At that point, you can kiss and hold hands, but still not in public. You’ll see lots of girls holding hands with girls, and even guys holding hands with guys. This has nothing to do with sexual attraction, only platonic friendship, so don’t assume anything if you see it, okay?
The youngest was a boy named Liang who had just turned 19. He seemed the most eager to befriend me (the rest took some time to warm up. The girls seemed the most cautious…after all, I was a big, hairy foreigner). We talked a lot, and he asked me lots of questions about American women and dating and so forth. Is that a surprise from a 19-year-old boy?
Anyway, he ended up telling me about his frustration with China and dating in China. He had a high school friend who had emigrated to Canada. His friend, even though the same age, had his own apartment and lived with his girlfriend! Whereas Liang couldn’t even date anyone openly, much less get his own apartment.
I learned later that it’s against the law to marry before age 23, and you need permission to marry before age 25. It almost seems like an enforce immaturity results, because they all seemed completely high-schoolish to me. But they also still have a much lower divorce rate. I certainly agree that the longer you wait (within limits), the more emotional and financial stability you have, and stability in these areas make it easier to develop and sustain a happy marriage.
I didn’t intend to make a point from this anecdote, but I may as well.
Many Chinese people marry their first boyfriend/girlfriend. Maybe just because you have to go through so much just to get the first one, I don’t know. I’m certain a significant majority end up marrying their first or second. And I guess I have to think it’s a good thing.
After all, what does dating around do for you? Supposedly, you get a better idea of what you like and don’t like in a partner. I’m not sure I buy that, because you both have to compromise so much to have a successful, happy, peaceful marriage. It seems to me (from observation and personal experience, as always), the main thing you learn from dating many people is how to give up. You learn to say, “Nope, can’t handle that, I’m outta here!” Don’t get me wrong, there are good reasons to break up. But if you aren’t ready to marry, you probably aren’t ready to date, either.
Look at it this way. When you date someone, one of two things will happen. You will either marry, or you will break up. If you marry, and are ready for marriage, great! If you aren’t ready for marriage yet, you will probably divorce, and that’s certainly painful for both of you. If you don’t marry, if you both agree it’s not worth it to keep dating, you might be able to break up without acrimony. But that’s rare. Usually, one or the other wasn’t ready to break up or expecting it. That means you either hurt someone, or get hurt. I think it is obvious that neither is good. If you hurt someone because you gave up on them, you have taken a step toward hardening your heart, doing what is good for you regardless of someone else’s feelings. On the other hand, if you are the one getting hurt, we all know how little fun that is. And you will probably carry some extent of scars into your next relationship, punishing your new love for the pain dealt by your former love. This will take the form of sensitive areas, overreactions to certain stimuli, etcetera. Yeah, seems pretty bleak, huh?
And it gets even worse if you factor in the effect of breaking up with someone you slept with. Sex is very much involved with dating now.
All this pain can largely be avoided by waiting to date until you are older. According to ”Finding the Love of Your Life”, by Neil Clark Warren and Denise Silvestro (I don’t have any sales agreement with Amazon, so let me know if that link didn’t work), the happiest marriages are those in which both partners are getting married for the first time after the age of 28. I know that I feel like I didn’t become fully myself until around the time I turned 29.
Interestingly, I was running a youth group in Hawaii, and thought up all these arguments against casual dating because they were asking questions about dating and love and such. Only one of my kids was dating at the time. Two weeks later she broke up with him, and he talked a lot about it. As a result, he decided I was right, and managed to convince several others in the youth group to wait at least until after college to start dating. I have to say I think it was the right choice, and if I had to do it over again, I would certainly wait.
Form a group of guys and girls. Hang out together. Learn to enjoy the pleasure of being around both guys and girls and just having fun, instead of feeling pressure to pair off.
I’ve heard of, seen, and experienced several situations in which breaking up with someone meant breaking up with their friends, and you are denied the companionship of people you like simply because they ‘belong’ to your ex. Or cases in which there was attraction to your ex’s best friend, but you never had the chance (because of understandable loyalties) to see what could develop.
Wouldn’t it be better if you could all just hang out? You might have a better chance of actually matching up with the person you should be matched up with. You might have a better chance to know someone is LUCIFER before you date them, and you might have a better chance of having your friends warn you off from dating LUCIFER before you are too enamored to listen.
I’m merely advocating this. I’m not judging anyone who disagrees, okay?
I do think the current dating situation has developed from both sides taking advantage of the other. It is, I think, to the female’s advantage that if a guy expresses attraction to a girl (asks out on a date or kisses, etcetera), there is a sense that you are now bound somewhat. Yes, I know many people go on one date or two without it actually meaning you are committed, but there are times when going on one date does result in an assumption that the two of you are now an item. And yet, the idea that a few dates means you should now sleep together is definitely to the male’s advantage. Now that she’s ‘got’ him, there’s pressure to have sex to ‘keep’ him. Certainly, most guys would break up if they never ‘got any’. Not all, but most. And that’s not to say the female doesn’t enjoy it, but I do think that most girls would naturally have less problem waiting until marriage than most guys.
So avoid that. Don’t date until you are ready to marry. Make actually dating the final step to deciding to marry or not, instead of the first. Or instead of ‘living together’ being the last step, since recent studies show couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce than those who don’t. I’ll share with you why I think that’s true later. This is long enough.
|W|P|82867045|W|P||W|P|5:37 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Go Watch These Movies



Hmm…maybe I should qualify this. From 1990 to 1995 I was really into watching movies, and saw pretty much every mainstream movie that came out during that time. In addition, I saw nearly every videotape that our local video stores had, meaning I saw most of the mainstream movies going all the way back to at least 1988. This was because my SO at the time did nothing but watch movies and drink. We have since parted ways, and I have returned (with help from a wife who doesn’t really like movies much) to my typical ways of only watching movies I really, really want to see.

With that in mind, here are the six movies you really need to see. I’m excluding the obvious choices like “Star Wars” and “Matrix” because the reasons for seeing those are, well, obvious. These are all movies that fall into the “I would stop what I was doing and watch if it came on TV” category, even though I already own most of them on DVD or VHS.

Groundhog Day



This is simply one of the best movies ever. What a message! It really captures the stages I think I would go through if it ever happened to me. It doesn’t settle for a pat view of living one day over and over. And most importantly, it really captures the essence of love. Not just love between the main characters, but love for mankind. Faced with seeing the same people over and over, seeing them do the same things, he responded with love. He tried to save the old man, even though he knew the guy would die again the next day, then live again to die again the next day. He worked to save people from injury and frustrating circumstances, because what else was he going to do with his time? If only we humans could adopt the same attitude on a daily basis.
You know what the most amazing aspect of this movie is? I hate all the actors in it, but this is pretty much my favorite movie ever.

The Princess Bride



If you ask me, this is perhaps the most quotable movie ever. I certainly mangle quotes from it all the time. It also has everything: swordfights, giants, bad guys, true love! Superb performances from everyone involved, with Cary Elwes as Errol Flynn (why he didn’t just let himself be typecast as this type of character and lead a swashbuckle movie resurgence, I’ll never know and always curse), Chris Sarandon as the Evil Prince Humperdink, Robin Wright as the Princess (it kind of stinks when your first movie is the pinnacle of your career. No, Forrest Gump doesn’t count), Mandy Patinken as Inigo Montoya. The first DVD I ever bought.

Spinal Tap



“But this one goes to 11.” That’s all I’m going to say. This is one of those movies you love or hate, and no explanation will help.

Sliding Doors



Moxie mentioned this movie in her blog the other day. I think I had mentioned it in one of my comments previously, so I felt gratified I had an impact. But maybe I didn’t, so maybe I shouldn’t. I know I mentioned it in a few different blog comments. It comes up quite a bit when I’m trying to explain how what seem like the worst times in your life (fighting with your spouse, suddenly discovering you are pregnant, having your SO leave you, being so depressed as to want to kill yourself) can actually turn out to be the best. You never make it in life, you never achieve happiness and peace, because you have to keep living. There is no “happy ever after”, nor is there any defeat you can’t recover from. This movie demonstrates that so clearly. A great paradigm movie. Go see it. And remember, if you find yourself in a situation you want to despair, if you stick it out, something good might develop. If you give up, it never will. Please note: this does not mean staying in an abusive relationship, okay?

Oscar



The lousy performance of this movie at the box office convinced Sly Stallone to never do comedy again. So he descended to the farce of “Cliffhanger” and that stupid tunnel movie. “Oscar” is actually a really good movie, actually. You have to be in the right mood, and having lots of people who like to laugh really helps. Maybe alcohol helps, too, I don’t know. When watching, imagine it to be like a play. The only reason I say that is because that is the way the humor strikes me. It’s silly, goofy, surprising. You do have to work to suspend your disbelief at first, but once you do, you will be taken on a rollicking good ride.

Mystery Men



Maybe I like this one more for the total concept than for the movie itself. I don’t know. I just know I have it on DVD and have watched it several times. I guess I wish it were made by a different director. He cut one of the funniest scenes, and the humor gets bogged down a few times, mainly because I think the director didn’t have the skill to keep it going. In any case, though, I really understood it because my years of being a comic book fan. I wanted to be a superhero so bad, if there actually were even one, I would have joined/formed something like the Mystery Men just to try to catch a smidgen of the life and glory of being a superhero. Maybe the best way to put this is it is cerebrally funny rather than emotionally funny. Does that make sense?

Honorable Mention



“Red Dawn” I own it on DVD. A good high school fantasy movie.
“The Magnificent Seven”. I own it on DVD. The best western ever, IMHO.
“The Terminator”. Scary. Good SF.
“Supercop”. Jackie Chan’s best movie ever.
“Die Hard.” Good action. Unique plot.
“Parenthood” Should be called Fatherhood. Excellent if you are a new Dad.
“Roxanne” Nice take on love.
“The Jerk”. Silly. Funny. Goofy. Awesome.
“She’s having a baby.” Funny, insightful. Always makes me cry.

I’ll stop there.

|W|P|82865486|W|P||W|P|3:37 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

More On Ann Coulter



There really has been a lot of talk about Ann lately all over the internet. What do you suppose is the cause of this?

Unfortunately, I see many misapprehensions about Ann. I’m not saying she’s some misunderstood saint or anything. But you should try to know your enemy, shouldn’t you? Like her or hate her, just don't get her wrong.

Take her book. Everyone seems to think 'Slander' is supposed to prove something, so all attempts to debunk it seem to try to disprove something. IMHO, that totally misses the point. As a result, it makes all the attempts to fight back against the book just silly, and in some cases proves her right. Look again at the name. She feels (rightly or wrongly) that liberal/left/democrats have had free shots at slandering conservative/right/republicans because the NYT and broadcast news don't call them on it. Her thesis is that when Republicans fire back, they get sued for slander, because they aren't as careful to couch it in opinion terms as the LLDs are. So she wrote a book to slander the LLDs back, being careful to give references to her quotes, and to couch every slanderous term with the caveat "I think" in order to be able to slam with impunity.

Most CRRs like her because she says they things they wish they could say when LLDs try to seize the moral high ground (i.e., the CRRs feel she makes a good case for seizing the moral high ground first).

See, the problem with seizing the moral high ground is that your opponent is probably not just going to accept the insinuation that he’s standing in a moral swamp. Most people actual have very moral grounds for the opinion they hold. As such, a person feels attacked, insulted, marginalized, trivialized, and discounted if their opinion is brushed off as being based on contemptuous moral filth without even the courtesy of a point-by-point explanation of disagreement. This means that lately, politics has been reduced to junior high arguments, in which both sides launch zingers to get praise from their own side ("showed them!”, “Let's see them respond to THAT!”), rather than actually discussing the issue or making any progress.

I slammed the left a few posts ago, so I’ll slam the right now.

LLD: I really don’t think it is right to invade Iraq right now under these circumstances.
CRR: That’s because you are a soft-headed, America-hating socialist who merely parrots the DNC faxes.

LLD: I support a woman’s right to choose.
CRR: Oh, sure, what about the baby’s right to choose to not have it’s brain sucked out in partial-birth abortions?

See? You might feel good about launching a zinger like that. It’s a lot of fun to make an opponent sputter uselessly after you’ve asked them if they’ve stopped beating their wife (or husband). But, honestly, what do you gain by doing that? You haven’t actually answered your opponent, you just showed contempt for them. That’s just stupid. Maybe you had someone who was open to argument, someone who was leaning in your direction who was trying to play devil’s advocate? You just pushed him solidly into the other camp. Worse, you made him dislike you personally. I recently heard a quote from Machiavelli (sp?). Never deal your opponent a light wound. Again, that’s almost definitely not verbatim, but you get the idea. These verbal attempts to seize the moral high ground just make your enemies look for revenge.

And that’s why we have Ann Coulter.

I shudder to see what the LLDs are going to develop in response.
|W|P|82861688|W|P||W|P|3:30 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Folks, I'm playing with the colors to get them right



If it's hard to read, come back in 5 minutes, or the next day and it should be easier. I'm trying to find the right shade of light gray for the text background.
|W|P|82861428|W|P||W|P|3:08 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Why They Hate Us



”This has been debated and debated. The horse is dead already! Stop beating!”

Nope, drag that old equine carcass out for another round. I’ve got a slightly different take on it. See, I’m not talking about the Muslims/Islamists/Islamofascists/Arabs/terrorists, I’m talking about the rest of the world, and particularly Europe.

It would be easy to just say they resent us for our success and Hyperpower status, but that is an oversimplification. Because we have been world leaders in economy for several decades now, and we weren’t resented the whole time. If you ask me (and even if you don’t), the resentment is closely related to our Hyperpower status, but still distinct.

Allow me to explain. No, that would take too long. Allow me to sum up. (kudos to the first person to recognize that rough quote…I’m not too good at verbatim).

The resentment began building about the same time as our first victory over Saddam, I think. I didn’t really notice it, then, but I noticed it afterward, in the way France seemed to obstruct our actions in Bosnia, in how different Asian nations began to criticize. I can’t really give specific examples, it’s just a feeling.

Anyway, I’ll cut to the chase. It will look like a digression at first, but I’ll circle in on the target momentarily.

War is hell. You risk the best and brightest of your young men (and sometimes women) in order to resolve some problem that couldn’t be resolved through diplomacy. Since death, maiming, destruction, and shattered lives accompany war, it is and should be a last resort. Not taken lightly. You pay for war in the blood of your young men. Even with technological superiority, you still have to pay, just like Russia did in Afghanistan and we did in Viet Nam. Being a superpower didn’t make you immune to the cost.

Until now. The United States has developed precision weapons to the point where we do not have to risk even our pilots to strike military targets. We can stand back out of harm’s way and peel apart a nation’s defense. I don’t think there is a military on this globe that can resist us if we have time to pick the time and place of our offense. And no one else has the ability to project power sufficiently to be able to pick the time and place (except for a surprise terrorist attack). Sure, eventually the US military will probably have to go in and engage the enemy with boots in the dirt, but we will do it with Air Superiority established first, and you cannot imagine what an advantage that is. That advantage is multiplied tenfold by the use or precision weaponry in close air support (meaning if our troops run into a strong defense, we can drop bombs on the enemy with such an accuracy as to not worry about damaging our own troops at all). That does put our pilots at more risk. We have lost some pilots and soldiers in the past, and will in the future. But at approximately the same risk our policemen face in the more dangerous parts of a large city. Keep in mind that we suffered an amazingly low casualty rate in Desert Storm, and our precision weaponry and intelligence gathering ability has improved tremendously since then.

All this is very expensive. We spend an appallingly low percentage of our GDP on the military, something like 3% (I didn’t fact-check that, I remembered it from someone else who fact-checked, so you can correct me if you have a source). But our economy is so great it is still a staggering amount of money that no other nation can match. I’ve heard Afghanistan may be costing us as much as $1 billion/month.

So what? you may be asking. Well, in essence, we have substantially eliminated the main cost of war, and turned it into a merely financial burden (and not an overwhelming burden, either). We no longer risk our young men very much (there is always some risk, of course), we risk their young men. The horrors of war are mostly suffered by the opponent. That means that the horrors of war do not deter us as much as other nations. Sometimes they like that, like in Kosovo and Bosnia. Could it have been anywhere near as bloodless without the US’ involvement? Of course not.

Ironically, we have also lowered the blood cost to our opponents, as well. We don’t have to raze a whole city block to take out the small HQ building. We can hit it with three bombs and leave the tree in front of the building still standing. Yes, we still miss sometimes. But the number of misses is shrinking yearly. We no longer have to target the enemy soldiers, we target functionality. If you don’t want to die, just walk out of the building, get out of your tank, step away from the Surface to Air Missile.

But the other countries in the world don’t like that (and I can’t blame them). We have still reduced the cost of war, which means we may have made war more likely. And that’s dangerous, because once war starts, you don’t know what might happen. Other nations don’t have precision weapons. They still have to kill thousands to get at one small objective. We have changed war, but without us involved, war is the same hell as it always was.

What do we do about this? Nothing. I have no solution. I’m just not that smart. Being in the military, I certainly don’t want to go back to a day that I would be risked so easily. The United States is probably the best nation to have this ability, because as we recognize the value of individuality in ourselves, we recognize the value of individuality in other nations. Despite accusations to the contrary, we have no desires of conquest or empire. If we did, we’d have cleaned up the mess to the south of us that is Mexico long, long ago. Besides, ‘empire’ was a facet of mercantilism; it just doesn’t really work as well with capitalism as the nation-state system we currently have.

I can’t come up with a decent concluding paragraph. I have no panacea to suggest. We’re stuck it with it, but it’s far, far better than the alternative. Expect more resentment in the future until enough nations realize the benefits to the world in this new New World Order.
|W|P|82860700|W|P||W|P|4:36 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Upon Further Review



I just reread this again for the second time, and came away even more impressed than the first time. Hear me roar! Er, Jolene roar, that is.

Go. Go now. I don't care that my only visitors have come from her site, go back there and read it again. Now. Don't wait. I urge you. Why are you still here reading this when you should be reading Jo's writing?
|W|P|82814845|W|P||W|P|4:09 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

A little more about me



I guess I just can't handle someone dismissing my thinking without some consideration for the time and effort I spent getting there. I hate having my arguments merely blown off as typical, right-wing, racist, warmongering, homophobic hate speech without at least listening first to see if I make any sense. And yet I can argue basic political philosophy without feeling disgruntled. Which is strange, because your thought process should proceed naturally from your political philosophy. Maybe it's because it is much more difficult to spout knee-jerk vicious reactions to philosophy. For instance:

Me: I am against expanding welfare.
Them: That's because you're a right-wing, racist, warmongering homophobic pig!
Me: I'm against abortion.
Them: That's because you are a misogynist who wants to force young girls into back alley abortions with coat-hangers.


It's kind of hard to continue conversations like that without escalating emotions. Contrast that with:

Me: I believe that welfare actually destroys basic human dignity.
Them: Maybe so, but It's hard to worry about dignity if you're dead from starvation.
Me: True. But welfare seems to result in more welfare. Isn't that almost like slavery, keeping people right at subsistence level with no real chance to move up the social ladder?
Them: Hmm. Good point. But you're saying welfare is always just plain wrong or bad? You would rather people starve?
Me: No, of course not. Why does it have to be a choice between destroying dignity and people dying? Can't we find a way to preserve life and dignity along with hope for a better life?
Them: Maybe if there were more incentives to move off of welfare? Or, rather, less of a punishment for taking a low-paying job?


I think you can see, it would be difficult to respond with a "that's cuz you are a rightwing/leftwing, racist/bleedingheart, homophobe/Americahater anywhere in there.

So I'll be discussing political philosophy so that you can see where I start from, the assumptions I make. You can see some of them in what I've already posted. I hope it demonstrates that I love people and want what is best for people. I'm not into greed, money, violence, hate, or forcing choices on people. The more I write, the clearer that should be.
|W|P|82813805|W|P||W|P|3:23 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

More on Wealth



I’ve already weighed in on the “evils” of gambling, lottery, and the stock market. This is one of those ideas that come about as the result of thinking about other things, a sort of combination conclusion that would be hard to explain without going way to deep into too many various lines of thought. But I’m going to try to condense this into one coherent argument for you.
It all started from thinking about my eventual retirement. The stock market scares me. It has always scared me. People assume that it will always go up, because it always has. The phenomenal growth since 1984 has inspired countless numbers of people to pin their retirement hopes on investments in stocks, mainly through 401(k) or private portfolios. “But the stock market has a growth rate of 10% over its entire life, people argue. You can’t go wrong with 10%. And it grew even more since 1984.” This completely ignores the reality that the stock market grew exactly 1% from 1969 to 1984. Sure, there were many economic factors involved with that. A recession, an oil embargo, rampant unemployment, just to mention a few. I think I’m a realist enough to recognize the exact thing might happen the last 15 years before my retirement (or longer!), and that would kill any chance of retirement based on stock market earnings alone. I began looking into other ways to gain a good retirement. One of the best is to never retire, to have a career in something (like being a writer) in which you never have to stop. Keep your mind and body active, I found, and you can live a full and active life right up until the day you drop dead around 80, like Robert Heinlein, Louis L’Amour, and several other writers who outlived most of their contemporaries (and also avoided wasting diseases, by the way). I do want to be a writer (although I’m beginning to face reality on that issue), but I can also translate documents from Chinese to English, and that’s a fairly marketable and lucrative career. It also occurred to me that the second best career would be to open your own business, invest yourself into it, and when you are ready to retire, sell. Many people have taken that route and sell for millions, even after paying themselves a salary for forty years. But it is hard work, and most people aren’t willing to do risk the kind of catastrophic failure that could be possible. I’m not willing to do it because I don’t think I have a shred of business sense. The third best retirement is to join the military, especially as an officer. After 20 years, you can retire at 41 with half pay for the rest of your life (at about $5000/month if you retire as a Lt Col), or you can retire at 53 at 75% of your pay if you keep getting promoted (I haven’t calculated that, but I think it would be something like $10,000 a month for life). You can also get a second career as a teacher or something to supplement your retirement pay. My own plan might be to open a used-book store (the only business I think I could handle competently) since I will most likely retire at 20 years as a major. (A good pension from being in school administration isn’t bad, either) Investing in the stock market is only the fourth-best retirement plan, and is much more unsure. I’ve heard countless stories of people who had to change their retirement plan because of the stock market plunge. Who knows when, if ever, their portfolios will recover?
And then it hit me. I don’t really ever want to retire, because I get depressed when I don’t have something to do or somewhere to go. I’ve told my wife if I ever do become a professional writer, I will have to rent an office to get out of the house each day, or I’ll just spend too much time sleeping in and being lazy. I want to be a writer to keep myself busy thinking and producing something of some value to someone, but being a teacher would be just as productive.
That led me to the idea that it is good to work. It is not good to let it consume you, so work becomes your reason for existence. This goes back a little bit to my Christian roots, because I think one of the less-important (but still present) messages in the Bible is to have a good work ethic, to earn your living. I’ll furnish specific Bible verses upon request. I think that producing something is better for your spirit (in the psychological sense, not biblical sense of the word) than not producing something.
Someone once said, if you want to become rich, produce something of value. If you make something of value, money willcome to you. Sort of a variation on the build a better mousetrap phrase. Unfortunately, our society has evolved to the point where it is possible to make money without producing anything at all. One of the messages from the movie “Pretty Woman” was that Richard Gere’s character made a living destroying what other people created, and it affected his spirit.
No, I don’t really like having my wealth destroyed in order to distribute money to people who aren’t doing anything to earn it except vote Democrat. But that’s not a significant portion of my grounds for opposing welfare. I think that welfare actually punishes the recipient, actually makes their lives worse, less happy, less fulfilling, by denying them the incentive to be productive. That’s why I would love to require them to produce some art, any art. At least they would be producing something. It wouldn’t even have to be any good (although I’m betting a high percentage of it would be surprisingly poignant and insightful), because the point would be to let them produce something, anything. It would alter their role from victim to actor (in the proactive sense), their circumstance from charity to employee, their label from welfare drudge to Art Laureate of the Nation.
I’m open to debate on this, as always. What is produced by becoming an expert in judging a horse race? What is produced by spending hours a day studying stock performance? Can you guarantee that if you make all the right choices, you will invariably profit? Because if you are truly creating value, money will come to you. If you aren’t, it still might come, but it is no longer an automatic thing. You are manipulating the system.
Look at it another way. When you create value, everyone benefits. If I am a better teacher, or open a bookstore, or fix up cars, my pay has a fairly direct correlation with my ability. If the world had 1,000 extra teachers who were really skilled, no one would lose any jobs to make room for them. If I develop a new business model that sells a product no one has ever seen before, it doesn’t mean another business has to fail. I can be successful without causing someone else to lose money or their job. This kind of wealth is not a zero-sum game. There is always room for more people to produce more. Was anyone hurt by the introduction of the VCR? Was anyone hurt by the development of new building techniques? But if you win in the stock market, someone else has to lose. If you win at the track, someone else has to lose just as much to cover it. In this case, wealth is very much a zero-sum game, because nothing is really created, it is just moved around from one person to another. And I sincerely believe if you are attempting to make a living, or especially if you are attempting to make a fortune, out of someone else’s misery, you have been corrupted by dreams of avarice. If that offends you, I’m sorry. You can do it, and I won’t think any less of you (although I will feel sorry for you). I will not do it myself, nor will I allow my children to do it. Nor will I allow my loved ones to do it without trying to warn them against it.
Now, the activity itself isn’t a big deal. If you go to Vegas for fun, so what? You are paying for your entertainment. I don’t think there is anything wrong with using the stock market as a hedge against inflation, because you aren’t out to get rich at someone else’s expense. And if you get lucky at the track, good for you! Use it wisely and with compassion, and share it. But don’t stop producing something for the world and yourself, and if you are really seeking happiness and contentment in life, don’t make “striking it rich” one of your goals.
The best things in life are free, but the 2nd best things in life are earned with blood, sweat, toil, and tears.
|W|P|82812078|W|P||W|P|2:21 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Notice something missing?



For those of you who may have noticed (Hi, Jo!), I removed a few posts. Having a blog is a new thing for me, and I haven’t fully determined the final style, content, or format. I had originally considered including all sorts of posts, from the deliberately controversial (in order to provoke thought and debate) to earnestly persuasive. But I just didn’t like the picture of me that was being formed with the controversial thoughts. So I’m going to confine myself to issues I’ve spent time thinking about. I probably will still come across as a Ultra-right wing conservative who wants to throw all Democrats into concentration camps, but I can assure you I believe merely locking up half the Democrats would be enough to shut up the rest.
That was a joke.
In any case, I hope to keep myself more to personal anecdotes, observations of humanity, and political philosophy (which is different than actually discussing politics). Why not discuss politics? Because at this point in history (and it may be at every point in history, I don’t know, I’ve only lived in this one), the sides are so polarized that discussions slide past each other without leaving a mark.
For instance, I have no doubt that William Burton is a great guy, a good thinker, and conscientious and caring. He is very committed to his view, and has probably put a great deal of thought into it. I feel I’m pretty much the same. People who meet me, like me, and respect my mind. But on his website, we just keep going around in circles. I’ve stopped going there, not because it’s not a great blog, but because I find myself reacting to words he types without stopping to think about the thought he may have put into it. And with Jo, I’ve found that we can have nearly identical views on several different issues, and yet we still come down on completely opposite sides of the fence, politically. I’m now pretty much convinced discussing issues is a waste. But I’m now thinking progress can be made in discussing why we believe what we do. If nothing else, understanding the basic philosophy behind the way one views an issue will be useful, to dissect their arguments if nothing else.
So that’s the direction I’m going to try and go.
|W|P|82809540|W|P||W|P|9:39 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Wacky Idea I



Based on the previous post below, I have a wacky idea.

I've never liked the National Endowment for the Arts. It always seemed a waste of money. It is too easy to get a full-time job to get living expenses and use your 62 hours of non-sleep, non-work time to pursue your art. If you aren't willing to suffer a little for your art, you aren't really an artist. Furthermore, most of the stuff they come up with is crap, and it's not really worth it to me to pump out all that cash for the chance that we might get some great art along with people who use feces as modeling clay. (Umm, when the President congratulates you on your sculpture, he prefers you don't shake his hand, okay?).

I also don't like welfare much. I don't think it is good for the workers, the nation as a whole, or even the recipient to be getting money for nothing. Welfare is a dead weight pulling the worker down and destroying the soul of the recipient while undermining two of the principles that made our nation great: everyone has unlimited opportunity to develop yourself and become a success, and everyone should be independent.

So here's my proposal. When someone goes on welfare, they must take up an Art. Take the money from NEA's budget and use it to buy musical instruments, paint supplies, sculpture tools, camera and film, dancing videos, etc, and let them teach themselves. Surely we would uncover some diamond in the rough, some hidden talent, and the nation would be enriched. The recipients would be developing themselves, and actually being productive in some manner. There is a chance they could actually end up wealthy from their efforts. And our percentage of Art to Urine-soaked-crucifixes should be better than what we have now, right?
|W|P|82776291|W|P||W|P|9:23 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Differences of Opinion

and

True Wealth



Capitalism is not the ultimate economic system. Nor is US representative democracy the ultimate political system. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what’s coming next, any more than a feudalistic monarch in 1400 could have predicted what we have now. Sometimes I wonder if China isn’t in the process of developing the next political wave: Apathism. Most people there just don’t concern themselves about the government, since the chances of the government picking on them is so slight. But I digress.

To the best of my understanding, Republicans are more capitalists. They feel that the free market is the place to resolve most problems. If a company is acting unethically, the people can boycott and vote with their dollar. If there are starving people, someone will find a way to profit from feeding them. The market will provide.

To the best of my understanding, Democrats are more socialists. They feel the free market is too callous to provide for people’s needs. They make the valid point that people don’t always know when a company is acting unethically, or may not have the choice in a monopoly of a necessity. The government is the place to resolve most problems. The government will provide.

But the conservative/right/Republicans counter that the government is inefficient. It wastes so much money with no promise of success. In fact, failure is usually rewarded with more money to try again. Fraud is inseparable from government programs. Spending always increases without visible improvement in services. Programs are rarely, if ever, cancelled.

Liberal/left/Democrats counter that the free market doesn’t care about individuals. It ruins so many lives with no promise of success. In fact, failure is usually rewarded with bankruptcy protection to allow someone to ruin more lives. Corruption is inseparable from big business. Profit always increases without visible improvement in services. The common good is rarely, if ever, considered.

Hmmm….pretty even.

Here’s what swings it for me. The fatal flaw of pure capitalism is that it lacks compassion. People get left behind in poverty. But there are (and always will be) churches and charities to help. Despite all the money redistributed throughout the years, the actual safety net remains churches and charities. They do more good with less waste than any government program, because they deal with the problem at the level of the problem, instead of by a decision made my a millionaire sitting in Washington D.C. with no idea what it is like to be in poverty. But the fatal flaw of letting the government take care of the poor is fraud and loss of incentive to work. If the government program fails to stop fraud, then you’ve taken life (money which was earned by the time and effort of the taxed) itself from your people only to enrich those without scruples. Furthermore, if you are guarantee the bare minimums necessary to life (which includes a car, television, telephone and air conditioning these days) without having to lift a finger, then why should anyone bother to get up and look for a job? So I guess I think the problems of the CRR system is less calamitous than that of the LLD system.

I do think it is a very bad thing to take money. Money is the visible representation of life. A person has a limited amount of hours in a day, and a limited amount of days in a week, and a limited amount of years in a life. We dedicate this time to work for a reason, to achieve certain things. The higher you raise taxes, the more a person has to work to achieve those same goals. That means more time away from family, more stress from office politics, more time working when tired, more risk of death from commuting to and from work. It is my life itself I am spending to give things to my family, time I will never have back. And I resent having to spend more time away from my family doing something I don’t enjoy so that someone else may stay at home and do nothing.

I don’t mind taxes for the things a government should do. I just don’t think it is the government’s job to provide free lunch.

Yet another digression: I really resent the fact that a family on welfare gets more money for each child added to the family, but a military family does not. It seems our government is more willing to give money to those not working than to those who defend the nation that elected them.

And another thing: taxing is always called ‘redistribution of wealth’. But that’s inaccurate. It’s redistribution of money, but I guess that sounds too crass, and would make it harder to gain support. No, redistribution of wealth is a ridiculous phrase on multiple levels. To understand that, we have to understand wealth.

Wealth. Closely related to value, but only tangentially related to money. First, wealth is earned in some manner; there was never a controlling authority that distributed it in the first place, so it simply can’t be Redistributed at all. So we are taxing money people have, not money that was just given to them. Second, people with few financial assets can feel wealthy because they own their house, everyone in their family is healthy, and they have no debt. On the other hand, it is as possible that someone making $200,000 a year doesn’t feel wealthy because they are living beyond their means. Don’t laugh, I’ve seen it happen. You’d be surprised all the ways there are to spend the $100,000 a year the government leaves you with. So wealth isn’t intrinsically related to income. Yet we tax the income, and call it redistributing the wealth. Finally, wealth is created. It is created by producing a good or providing a service that is of value. Money comes to you as a physical manifestation of the value you brought to the recipient. The true wealth grows out of the results of your deliberate effort to create value. Therefore, wealth is created. The so-called ‘redistribution’ takes the money, the rightful award for value, from the person who earned it, and gives it to someone who didn’t earn it, who made no effort. Without the inherent value of effort, the wealth is lost. Therefore, wealth is created, and it can be destroyed, but it can’t be shifted from one person to another like a commodity.

Bonus Digression!



This, I am convinced, is the true evil of gambling, lotteries, and the stock market: the lure of money for nothing; the illusion that you can be handed riches and be wealthy by means other than your own efforts.
|W|P|82775668|W|P||W|P|8:59 PM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

Another Question



Will someone, anyone, please tell me what President Clinton or the Democrats in Congress did to bring about the strong economy in the 90s? Bill and Hillary seem eager to take the credit, but are exceedingly vague on the details. The Democrat leadership and punditry seem to want to take the credit for the good economy, but want to lay the blame for corporate greed (that fuelled economic and stock growth) squarely at the feet of Republicans. I don't think you can have it both ways, but our mass news media is letting them get away with it.

Please. Anyone. I'd prefer reason and logic, but I'll take even silly, emotional blather just so I can start to understand what might be going through the collective brain of the LLDs.
|W|P|82774728|W|P||W|P|8:09 AM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

You heard it here first



There's a cool website that gives you a product description to go with your name. Yes, it's random. It's also very funny. Here's mine:

brainfertilizer



Brainfertilizer is a bathtub that collects litter, recites haiku and can bring down an elephant.

The haiku is on the way, actually....
|W|P|82742194|W|P||W|P|5:33 AM|W|P|Nathan|W|P|

For those of you who have not yet discoverd Larry Miller on the Weekly Standard




And Now, Some Good News



A sign of hope at a punk-rock concert in Southern California.
by Larry Miller
10/07/2002 12:00:00 AM
I have some good news for you. Some very good news. In fact, now that I think of it, some great news. No, hold it: Very great news. Yes, that's it. What's more, when you read it, I think you'll feel the same way. When I heard it, I laughed out loud (hooted, in fact), clapped my hands, closed my eyes and let my head rock back, and felt a tingle all the way down to my toes, as if I had just swallowed a big blast of good Scotch. Wait a minute, maybe it was Scotch. No, that's right, later it was Scotch. Just then it was the good news.

But first some bad news: As of this writing, neither Al Gore nor Tom Daschle have been struck dumb. Worse, they are not only physically capable of speech, there are otherwise continent Americans who get warm and giggly listening to them. This is bad news on the order of a French knight staring through the mist before Agincourt and saying, "Gee, I can't make it out, but I think it looks like a bow and arrow."

Some more bad news: A charming and well-made movie named "Barbershop," written, directed, acted, and produced by black artists for a major studio, was number one at the box office for two consecutive weeks. This is very rare and immensely powerful for any movie, black, white, or purple. Last week it slid to a hugely-respectable number three and has every indication of crossing over from black audiences to white and every shade in between as it rolls like a big wheel to a massive commercial victory. It just may get to low-budget heaven, like the recent "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, " which is so popular it might even be a hit in Turkey. All this is not bad news, of course, it's good news. The bad news is that those two great theological beacons, the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, have decided to try their best to derail any chance the movie has to win. They haven't seen it, mind you, but they want to kill it. Why? Because, they say, it has a scene that disrespects three great black icons: Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, and . . . Rev. Jesse Jackson. Hmm . . . Come on, guys, quit it. A few good pros out here have done a good job making a good movie. Leave them alone, and let them rise higher. Don't push them back down. What in the world is activism about in the first place, if not for them?

Still more bad news: Former CIA head James Woolsey said Saddam Hussein's younger son, Qusai, may be rising in influence past his older brother, Uday, as a potential future leader. Uday maintains, among other cheery hobbies, a private torture chamber, according to the Los Angeles Times, ". . . known as the Red Room, in a building by the Tigris River. He has used whippings, beatings and immersion in sewage to punish Iraqi athletes who lose." And these are the people he likes. According to Woolsey, the brothers "differ only in that Uday kills people for fun, and Qusai kills people in a very businesslike fashion." What do you say about kids like that? "I told you we should've gone with bunk beds." If there's a third brother, he probably combines the two methods. "Well, sure I kill, but sometimes it's for fun, sometimes it's just work. Sometimes both, I guess. You know how it is."

One final slice of bad news: Only four paragraphs later, Al Gore and Tom Daschle are still, by law, permitted to speak.

And now the good news. My friend, Jack Burditt, a wonderful and award-winning Hollywood writer, just told me a story. He has four kids, three of them girls, and one of his daughters, 16, wanted to go to an all-day punk rock festival, advertised in Southern California as The Inland Punk Rock Festival, with a few of her girlfriends. This was to take place on Saturday, September 14, at the Glen Helen "Blockbuster" Pavilion in Devore. He listened to his daughter carefully make the case for going, and then told her the chances of this happening were roughly equivalent to Yasser Arafat being cast in "The Menachem Begin Story." His daughter volleyed back that she didn't think he understood her, because she really, really wanted to go. Then she screamed for twenty minutes. This is not a bad tactic, as tactics go, so Jack jumped back over the Antietam wall and said, "Okay, you and your friends can go, but only if I take you, myself, and stay with you the whole time." She's not stupid, so she shrugged agreement, and off they went to join fifty thousand other acolytes for a day of sun and anarchy.

As a side note, by the way, I call that pretty good fathering. The guy was simply not going to let one of his kids, especially a young girl, go to one of these goofy things unsupervised, and he was perfectly willing to put one of his weekend days where his mouth is. And a punk festival is no small sacrifice. I don't know about you, but rather than drive two hours to hear ten hours of heavy metal, I would just as soon hold one of Richard Simmons's bare feet in my lap. Okay, wait a minute, no I wouldn't. Never mind.

Anyway, that's not the good news. So they go there, and Father-Of-The-Year Jack sits (stands?) through the perfect idiocy of five hours of these wandering minstrels, these things of shreds and patches, and then a band called "Buzzcocks" comes on. It can't come as any great surprise that when Jack said that name, he and I began a middle-aged dialectic that will remind most of you of Abbott and Costello. "What band was that again?" I asked.

"Buzzcocks."

"Buzz . . . what?"

"Buzzcocks."

"Buzzcuts?"

"No, no, cuts. I mean, cocks."

"What?"

(Deep breath) "Cocks, Larry. COCKS. BUZZCOCKS."

"I'm sorry: 'Buzzcops? Wait. Spell it."

"B-u-z-z . . . cocks."

"Ohhhhh, cocks."

"Yes."

"Buzzcocks."

"YES."

(A long beat) "Never heard of them."

Before we strangled each other, Jack told me the rest of the story.

The lead singer of every band that day had gotten huge cheers in between songs by shouting things like "ANARCHY!" or, "F--- CORPORATIONS!" or just, "S---!" and all fifty thousand kids would scream their approval, whoop, and shove their fists into the air. Typical, I guess. Then, "Buzzcocks" came on, played their first song, and the lead singer stepped forward and shouted this (verbatim from Jack, he wrote it down) into the mike: "F--- GEORGE BUSH! DON'T LISTEN TO HIM. WE HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING IN IRAQ, NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS." And here comes the good news.

There was a long pause, complete silence. And then they started. The boos. One here, one there. Then everyone. Everyone. Louder and louder. Jack told me how the puzzled singer blinked in surprise, looked at the rest of his band, and then stepped forward again to try to save the moment. "NO, NO, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND. I SAID F--- GEORGE BUSH. F--- HIM." The boos grew even louder, and then people began shouting back up to the stage, "NO, MAN, F--- YOU!" "YEAH, F--- YOU, A-----E!" More and more, ceaselessly rising, until the shaken band caucused quickly and just blasted into their next song.

Not bad, eh? I know, I know, it's not exactly parliament shouting down Clement Atlee, but, all in all, not bad. Americans can always surprise you, for good or ill. Jim McDermott and David Bonior are Americans, and they surprised me by making me think, "Gee, I didn't know I could throw up that much."

But that was a heck of a nice surprise from these kids, wasn't it? Black boots and nose rings and tattoos, but they knew, to a person, what was right. They might not be able to point out the no-fly zones on a map, but they knew what was right. If we Americans fight terror all the way it'll take many years, and neither Trent Lott's kids nor Tom Daschle's kids are going to fight it. It'll be fought by a lot of the kids at the "Blockbuster" Pavilion, though. Jack's oldest just signed up a few months ago out of college. A five-year hitch for an Army specialty. An important one. In harm's way. Jack's a little scared. Wouldn't you be?

By the way, the punk festival was reviewed by Robert Hilburn in the Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, September 17, front page of the Calendar Arts and Entertainment section. I'm looking at it now. No mention of any of this. Of course not. Not newsworthy. Not interesting. Not anything.

Ah, well, let's just keep praying for more good news, shall we?

Update:: The full link is in the comments. The truth is, while this incident actually did happen, it was Blink 182, not the Buzzcocks. Thank you for your understanding.
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Great News!



I have visitors! I have visitors!

I can't tell you what a rush it is to actually have someone leave a comment. I know I'm overreacting, but I can't help it. In some ways, I'm still just a big, goofy kid.

More evidende of same:
I also made Moxie laugh today. I can't tell you how pleased that made me.
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Public Debate



I’m currently dueling with William Burton (it’s a great blog…even if he tends to spout DLL mantras as if they were proven facts). Go check it out.

But a little over a week ago, he made some predictions, including a puzzling prediction about Tom Delay trying to make a holiday of Pres Reagan’s birthday. Here’s his commentary that followed on September 20, 2002:

Bill Clinton's Penis



A couple days ago, I made some predictions, including the following:
Prediction #3:
Within six months of Ronald Reagan's death, Tom DeLay will propose making his birthday a national holiday.

In response, a commenter wrote:
#3. Who cares? Why does this matter? Would you prefer making Bill Clinton's b-day a national holiday? Or would the day he lost his virginity be more appropriate?

Although I do appreciate comments and emails from dissenting points of view, I feel the need to make the follwing public service announcement to all conservatives:
Stop Thinking About Bill Clinton's Penis
. You know it's not healthy to be that obsessed with the privates of someone you despise. All it does it get you riled up into a frenzy of hatred and rage. Take a deep breath and repeat after me:
Bill Clinton's Penis did not cause tech stocks to collapse
Bill Clinton's Penis did not loot WorldCom or Enron
Bill Clinton's Penis was not responsible for Sept 11th
Bill Clinton's Penis was not the reason girls wouldn't date you in high school
Bill Clinton's Penis was not responsible for Rush's TV show being cancelled
Bill Clinton's Penis does not want to take away your guns
Bill Clinton's Penis did not kill Randy Weaver's family
Bill Clinton's Penis is not shipping domestic manufacturing jobs overseas
Bill Clinton's Penis is not the reason your boss is a penis
Bill Clinton's Penis did not convince your wife to fuck the tennis pro
And, last but not least, Roe v Wade has nothing to do with Bill Clinton's Penis
Thank you for your time and attention.

And this one:

Argumentation



Thought I'd elaborate a bit on the previous point. The commenter mentioned below wrote back to insist that he wasn't thinking about Bill Clinton's Penis, and actually seemed pretty grossed out about it. So I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.
I do want to mention what put me in position to jump all over his statement. Being a Southern liberal (which would make me moderate to conservative on either coast), I get into a lot of political arguments. Many times these are with people who either aren't very bright, aren't very good at arguing, or so obviously in the wrong that they don't want to argue the merits of the case. These people (and you see a lot of them on TV also) have developed a form of argumentation that I'll call Bill Clinton's Penis. It consists of responding to a valid point by your opponent with a non-sequitor that either throws him off balance or serves to smear him or his side.
Examples:
I say: I don't want to weaken environmental regulations.
Conservative response: Bill Clinton got a blowjob.
I say: Using the entire budget surplus on a tax cut for the rich is pretty stupid.
Conservative response: Bill Clinton got a blowjob.

You can see how this is both infuriating and serves to make debate impossible (which, of course, is the fucking point if you know damned well that you'll lose any real debate). I've taken to mentally labelling such tactics Bill Clinton's Penis whether or not they have anything to do with the aforementioned appendage. Of course, there are many other versions of Bill Clinton's Penis.
I say: We really need to make sure that poor kids get health insurance.
Conservative response: Hillary's a dyke.
I say: I'm not sure we should invade Iraq.
Conservative response: Jane Fonda went to Hanoi.
I say: I don't think we should lock up citizens without trial.
Conservative response: Janet Reno was a dyke.
I say: Nixon sure was scary.
Conservative response: Jack Kennedy got a blowjob.

Of course, there are idiots on every side.
I say: I'm sure glad the Taliban are gone.
Noam Chomsky's response: The United States bombed Hiroshima.
I say: I don't want Bush to dismantle environmental protections or appoint any judges.
Michael Moore: Globalization is bad.
Christopher Hitchens: Bill Clinton got a blowjob.
Alexander Cockburn: I sure miss Stalin.
Christopher Hitchens: Does anyone have any liquor?
Naomi Klein: Capitalism is bad.
Alexander Cockburn: I mean, I really, really miss Stalin.
Christopher Hitchens: I said Does anyone have any liquor?

So any time you face some idiotic non-sequitor when you've made a valid point, think of the Big Dog's Penis.


I gave him a pass on his distortion of my statement because it was funny and he made a point I agreed with (that both sides do it). Now that I have my own blog, however, I can actually respond fully (without being constrained by the limits of a comment box that people may not see. Of course, I’m pretty sure no one will see my blog. At least I’ve eliminated the uncertainty.)

I’ll mention in passing that he didn’t actually answer my questions of whether he preferred a holiday for Bill Clinton’s birthday. I’ll also admit it was unfair of me to bring in Bill Clinton’s sexuality. Please note, however, that I didn’t mention his penis, Monica, the impeachment, ‘wagging the dog’, or anything like that. An oblique reference to Bill Clinton’s misdeeds brought a personal response and two (TWO!) posts about Bill Clinton’s Penis. And I’m the one obsessed with it?

In fact, I can make five separate arguments that Bill Clinton should have resigned or been removed from office without ever once mentioning Bill Clinton’s Penis, but Democrats cannot even make one statement of defense without using the word ‘sex’. Let’s try it out:

Argument #1:
Bill Clinton directly lied to the American public, on the record.
Response #1:
He only lied about sex.

Argument #2:
Bill Clinton lied under oath in a court of law. The same law he swore to enforce (with no caveats). He was held in contempt of court for willful perjury.
Response#2:
He only lied under oath about sex.

Argument #3:
Bill Clinton compromised national security by conducting an unprofessional relationship with a subordinate.
Response #3:
It was only oral sex with an intern.

Argument #4:
Bill Clinton was impeached, held in contempt of court, and disbarred for his conduct in this matter.
Response #4:
These things only happened because the Republican party is too obsessed with Bill Clinton’s Penis.

Argument #5:
Bill Clinton’s public behavior alone demonstrates a clear lack of integrity and flawed character that should have disqualified him from being our President.
Response #5:
Integrity and character don’t really matter when it’s only about sex. Anyone would lie and perjure themselves and bomb Iraq to conceal an affair.

Bonus Counterargument to Response #5:
Character does not exclude what you do in private. Integrity is a full-time, 24/7 issue. Bill Clinton established a pattern of deception and lack of integrity early in his career, but his charisma won him a powerful retinue of followers who would support him no matter what, and use any rhetorical or legal means to maintain his power. It never was just about sex, it was about who Bill Clinton actually was, and the fallout from his weak character pervaded his administration. Scandal dogged his steps, and it was no right-wing conspiracy, it was his own failings. The vast left-wing conspiracy prevented him from ever tasting the consequences of his actions. As a result, the American people were inflicted with FBI files illegally obtained by the White House, the White House waiting to see whether Monica would ‘support the President or not” before they decided to ruin her reputation or not, the pardon fiasco, corporate and investment fraud involved with Whitewater, illegal and illicit handling of material evidence related to Vince Foster’s death, campaign finance illegalities, the aforementioned perjury in a court of law, torturous definitions of the word ‘is’, the list goes on and on. The very worst gets its own sentence: The lack of attention to national security that allowed the rise of Osama Bin Ladin and Al Qaida. That was just off the top of my head. I will add to the list if anyone wants to email me some more.
Look, I realize I’m beating a dead horse here. Bill Clinton is no longer our President, but I want to ensure that his dynasty is not continued by proxy. I will not forget!

I just realized something. Maybe the ‘is’ that Bill Clinton was trying to redefine was the last two letters of William Burton’s favorite five-letter word?

One last comment: I try to keep the discussion clean around here, but I didn’t want to censor anyone’s language. You can be sure I won’t be using language like that personally.
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Next Question, please



Okay, should I have the blog post in chronological order or reverse chronological order within each date? It seems to be more consistent to do it in chronological order, because then if I post 2-3 things on the same subject with the same day, you won't be reading the cart before the horse, er, you know what I mean. For now, it will remain reverse chronological order. This will remain an open question for as long as I blog.
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The Big Lie



I just got back from Moxie's site. Her post on the 8th of October brings up the question of whether a girl should be good or bad to get guys.

This is a question that’s been going on since the sexual revolution, I guess. Here’s my take. I will blather on mercilessly before finally getting to my rather unconventional and inflammatory point, as usual.

Back when I was in high school, I’ve heard complaints from girls about the “double standard”. As the argument went, men who slept around were studs, and to be admired. Women who slept around were sluts and to be held in contempt. And men were jerks for perpetuating such stereotypes. The only things was, I never once heard a guy say anything remotely resembling that. I never admired a guy who slept with 10 girls more than one who had slept with one. I was just jealous (sort of…I really wanted to wait until my wedding day, but physical/hormonal urges are another matter) of anyone who had experienced it at all. As for girls who slept around, you just hoped it was you at least once. Heard the joke? What’s the difference between a slut and a bitch? A slut is a girl who sleeps with anyone. A bitch is a girl who sleeps with anyone BUT YOU!. See, it isn’t about the number of times for a guy, it was just being able to score at all.

So now that my peer group is out of high school, now what? Should a girl be promiscuous? Should she use her body to get a guy? Can you trade sex for love? Is exhibitionism the answer?

No.

I’ve watched people. I’ve paid attention to what girls were popular in nearly every group I’ve been a part of. I noticed that the reason girls were popular in Junior High had nothing to do with looks or even sexuality. A girl was popular if she managed to tease, flirt, cajole, or otherwise bully a guy into losing his natural fear of girls. The girls that flirted the most were the most popular. I think it was no accident, I think, that the girls that were the most physically mature were the ones to flirt the most. Physical/hormonal urges, remember? By high school the cast of popular girls had changed. Some had retained their popularity from junior high, but not all. And it still wasn’t totally based on looks, because some plain girls were still considered ‘hot’, and looking back on my yearbook, we ignored some very beautiful girls.

And even in college and in the workplace, the most beautiful still aren’t always the most popular. Being ‘easy’ isn’t really an issue, because there’s much less gossip at that level. Here’s the first hint of What Guys Want. Guys always look around at their environment, and the most attractive girl there is always labeled ‘hot’ and ranked downward from there. At camp, in a class, at work, this is always true. That’s part of why the workplace is an important place for guys to meet girls. It doesn’t matter if you wouldn’t look at this girl twice on the beach, if she’s the most attractive in your office, she is now ‘Hot’. Sure, a guy may love Pam Anderson or Carmen Electra or whoever the Girl Du Jour is. But he doesn’t compare his prospective date against that standard. It is also worth noticing that I have said several times that it is the most attractive girl. That doesn’t always mean the best looking. In so many conversations with other guys, I’d ask them who they wanted to go out with most, and they’d usually surprise me by picking the same girl I would (I’ve always been more interested in personality). I’d mention some other girl with a great body or beautiful eyes, and he would always say his preferred date just had ‘something’. Well, here’s the second hint. The most popular girl was always the girl that seemed like the most fun. Invariably. She wasn’t necessarily the type who laughed at all the jokes a guy might make, but that wouldn’t hurt (which is why it is a healthy part of any girl’s repertoire). If I can descend to the lower common denominators again, the assumption seemed to be that if a girl was fun to be with, she would be fun to make love to, as well. Yes, I felt the exact same way, I was just one of the few who thought enough about it to articulate it. The guys I’ve mentioned this idea to have always said, “Yes, that’s what I mean!”

So what about the girls who get guys by seeming easy? Well, that is a way to get a guy’s attention. Supposedly guys only want one thing. Not true. There are thousands if not millions of girls who got dumped even after they slept with the guy. The truth is, once a guy is ready to settle down, he does want one thing first, and then once sexually compatibility is settled, he’s willing to move on to discussions of kids’ names, at whose parents you’ll spend Christmas, etcetera. Before a guy is willing to settle down, there’s not much you can do to hold on to him. If you sleep with him, he’ll still dump you when you pressure for more. If you don’t sleep with him, he’ll dump you when he gets tired of waiting. Why is this?

I have to digress once more. Women complain about what biology does to them each month, hormonally. Not many women realize that men have the same problem. Not every month. It’s a little different. Accept the premise, if you will, that much of our urges are controlled by a complex system of biofeedback through hormones. Sleep, hunger, sexual desire, and many other things are all maintained by hormones. Men’s main affecting hormone is testosterone. For women, the period is an uncomfortable hell, but it is part of the female body’s way to maintain natural rhythms and relieve hormonal stresses on the body. For men, the main way of releasing hormonal stress is through ejaculation. If a man doesn’t ejaculate, the pressure builds. It begins to affect the way you think, the way you feel. You don’t intend to think sexual thoughts, but your body has put you into that mode. The longer it goes, the more it affects you. You get to the point where you can’t sleep easily. Eventually, your body itself will intervene and you’ll have what’s known in clinical circles as a nocturnal emission. This relieves some of the pressure. Women have the advantage that the period is limited and no matter how bad it is, it will get better if they wait a day or two and take some Midol. They have the disadvantage that there is little they can do to avoid the situation (short of being pregnant or taking strong contraceptives). Men have the disadvantage that when it starts getting bad (and parts of our bodies can ache, too), if we wait it just gets worse. But we have the advantage that we can usually take matters in our own hand (so to speak) and relieve the pressure. It’s nowhere near as intense or satisfying as the real thing (which is where pornography comes in…it raises the intensity and satisfaction as it simultaneously creates a literal addiction, but that’s blogfodder for a different post), but it can suffice.

Digression over. What all that meant is that if the choice is between a meaningless fling with a girl who seems willing and staying home alone on Saturday night with Farrah Fawcett’s poster, most guys will take the live girl. Even those who want something more.

We are back to the original questions: should a girl trade sex or sexiness to attract a guy? Can she offer something on a pretext and hope to end up with something else? Nope.

To get a guy, the best thing a girl can do is join the military. It’s like an 8 to 1 ratio in women’s favor (the ratios are even better for females in the officer ranks), and there are many places where there are zero off-base choices. And even when the off-base choices are present, men will still look first to the women they work with. If you aren’t willing to join the military, you have to go where the guys are being natural. How can you decide if a guy is worth dating if you meet him at a bar? A few other choices: go with a group of girls to sporting events (ones that you enjoy, hopefully). If a girl goes alone, a guy might worry about being too threatening, or that she might be meeting someone. You have to make it clear you are available without seeming desperate (I have no idea how to do that), because some guys won’t move in on a ‘taken’ girl. The ones who will are probably not the ones you want, anyway.

In the final analysis, be who you are, and don’t sweat it. The world tells you a girl must be married to prove her worth. Ignore the world Caring more about being married than about who you are marrying is a recipe for heartache in the first degree.

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