Happy Holidays!

November 12, 2012 at 8:44 pm (Uncategorized)

From Bloomberg to the homeless of a storm-devastated New York….

Happy Holidays!

New York City is no longer taking private donations to food pantries and homeless shelters.  Why?  Because they can’t properly monitor the salt, fat, sugar, and other elements of nutritional content in them.

So, did you bake some extra pies this Thanksgiving, hoping to bring a smile to the face of somebody who has damned little to be thankful for?  Tough luck.

Delis that have been donating fresh kosher bagels?  Gor!

That nice Polish family down the street who makes the kitchen pierogies every week?  Nie ma szans!

The food that you’ve been preparing for generations, from recipes passed down from one nation to the next, that you’ve spent the time and the trouble to prepare for charity, out of the goodness of your own heart, isn’t good enough for starving, desperate people out in the cold to eat.

So it’s Campbell’s for everybody, I guess!  Sure, the cans are coated with enough BPA to make even the manufacturers of those trendy metal bottles throw up their hands and shout “whaddaya want from us,” but at least you know that you’re getting a product primarily flavored with salt and chicken byproduct.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the reasons why I’m just a teensy, tiny bit leery of letting the government run my health care.  You see, part of the justification for this bullshit is always going to be “well, it makes people less healthy, which drives up health care costs!”  Or, alternately, “people can’t be trusted to make healthy decisions, so we need to make the decisions for them!”

That’s what they said in New York when they limited the size of sodas that people were allowed to buy.  That’s what they said when they limited the amount of salt that restaurants were allowed to use, or when they ban smoking, or trans-fats.

That’s what they say when they argue for spending a trillion dollars and thousands of lives on a War on Drugs that isn’t working.  It’s the basic argument behind virtually every attempt to create a new manner of “victimless crime.”

“You want us to pay for X.  Your bad decisions make X more expensive.  Therefore, in order to keep our costs down, we have to ban bad decisions.

“Oh, and please ignore the fact that after I retire from this job, I’m going to be getting a high-paying ‘job’ with one of the lobbying groups that put a lot of pressure behind passing these bills.  Also ignore that these groups are frequiently financed by industries that are forced to compete with whatever it is that we’re banning.  Because I’m doing this for the people, and you should be ashamed of yourself for even thinking otherwise!”

If we really want to go taking a trip down Slippery Slope, this same sort of logic was used to justify all sorts of other nasty behavior by the government.  Note the critical phrase in that paper:  “people supported in institutions or ‘maintained wholly or in part by public expense.’” (Emphasis mine.)  When the government is paying for everybody’s health care… or, for that matter, everybody’s anything, then everybody is maintained wholly or in part by public expense, which has been argued for years to give the government the ability to override whatever Constitutional concerns might be raised.

Now, yes, neo-eugenics is well down Slippery Slope Road.  But a federal-level ban on trans-fats?  Good bye, vegetable oil.  A federal level “vested interest” in fighting obesity on an all new level?  Hello, fat tax!

Ultimately, it all boils down to this.  How much are you willing to give up your liberty, in exchange for being able to say that it’s not your problem, because the government’s going to take care of it?

Just remember Sandy-ravaged New York City, and how it’s done so much to make Big Food thankful this November.

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I know I’m not the first…. (Though I may be one of the rantiest.)

May 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm (Uncategorized)

I know I’m not the first to talk about this. Hardly the first. I hope that I might be the last, because I’d like to pretend that after posting this that Pastor Charles Worley will realize what a hideous, bigoted waste of human flesh he appears to be, and recant what he said. And actually mean it. But I’m pretty damned sure that he won’t.

For those of you who haven’t seen the video yet, here you go. I’ll warn you in advance; this video almost made me physically ill when I watched it, and without a single offensive image.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d2n7vSPwhSU

Here’s the problem. As if I have to say it.

“Build a great big large fence… put all the lesbians in there… Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…”
“…And you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out… Do you know why? They can’t reproduce.”

Now, before I go into my usual, vitriolic, rage-filled ranting mode that people like this put me into, let me politely and cogently point out the following. If you want to skip through the part where I’m trying to be reasonable, just search for the word “vitriol.”

Pastor Charles Worley… your plan won’t work. It really just… won’t. You want to know why?

History says it won’t work. This has been attempted multiple times in the past; the Church tried to kill off homosexuals with the Inquisition (and several other methods). Hitler tried your method. Dictators throughout history have tried your method. When Hitler tried it, it actually resulted in an *increase* in the number of gays and lesbians born in the following decade or so – fun fact! But this plan never works. And here’s the simple, undeniable, logical reason why.

All those gays and lesbians? Their parents weren’t homosexuals themselves, honest. At least not in the vast majority of situations. I mean… that’s kind of how it works out logically, right? Their parents had to have sex with each other, and your whole approach is basically built around the idea that homosexuals can’t do that.

Now, logically, this kind of raises the point that just rounding up the world’s gay and lesbian population won’t work. But, of course, I’m sure you would pose that all subsequent homosexual individuals born should be packed away too. And I’m just going to assume that you’d like to pack off all bisexual and straight transsexual individuals as well, on the basis of biological gender segregation since we pesky bis and those transsexuals still attracted to the biologically opposite gender would fuck up (words used *most* intentionally, I assure you) the whole “they can’t reproduce” argument.

But here is where the heart of your argument reveals itself as morally and theologically hollow. Your argument seems to work on the idea that children born to homosexual parents would themselves be homosexual, and that by preventing homosexuals from reproducing we can “breed out” the undesired trait. And yet, this poses the idea that homosexuality is genetic in nature.

In other words… God *made* homosexuals. So you’re entire argument is based around the idea that we need to gather together God’s children and wait for them to die off… because you think that God fucked up.

Now, I’m sure that you’re going to trot out the argument that God didn’t make homosexuals, and that it’s a choice. Or that, even if he did, Leviticus 18:22 says that he wants them wiped out anyway (by the way, how’s that shrimp dinner tasting? When *did* you last burn an oxen as an offering? And have you been sure to have that all the women who’ve been raped in your parish have been properly stoned to death if the rapist wasn’t caught in the act?)

All of this while claiming to worship and love a being who said to treat others as you would be treated. Who preached that a lowly Samaritan was a greater man than a fleet of wealthy churchgoers and priests, because he stopped to love his fellow man as he would be loved himself. Who preached that one must love thy neighbor *as* thyself, without saying “unless, of course, your neighbor sucks dick and doesn’t have tits.”

Oh, I’m sorry folks. The vitriol is coming out again, in case you didn’t notice.

All of this is, of course, invalid, because we live in a country where religion doesn’t dictate our legal structure, unlike such forward-thinking nations as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Because of this, you and your morally bankrupt brethen are theological scholars, not legal experts… though, frankly, I suspect that you at least have a better grasp on law than you do on theology, since you did at least recognize that you’d never get your plan past the legislature. The Republican-dominated (in the House, at least) legislature, so you might want to rethink casting this as a party-based issue.

So, your only options are to either pack every possible political post you can manage with people as far to the right as yourself, which won’t happen because, as I think you realize, you’re in the VAST minority in your opinion… or try a legal option.

Since the problem with homosexuals is that they can’t reproduce, I recommend the following.

You take yourself, and all of your devoted followers, and everybody else who agrees with your bullshit idea, and you build a great big large fence. Hell, if you want, I’ll even suggest that we pay for the materials! You electrify that fence, just to keep us dirty homosexuals and liberals from getting in, and we’ll airlift food and supplies in to you. After all, you offered to do it for us Godless heathens, clearly it’s only fair we do it for you.

We’ll even let you expand the fence when the population demands it. Just so, y’know, we’ve got the moral high ground over you.

But you see… I don’t think we’re going to need to expand that fence. Because I’ve got a feeling that, before very long, you bunch of hateful, bigoted fucks will slaughter each other with your bare FUCKING hands, because you said that God wanted everybody to butter their toast on the top, and one of the other pathetic, attention whoring sacks of shit that walks around preaching the word of the One True God who nobody else understands but him will say that God wants everybody to butter it on the bottom, because it’s Godless heathen butter airlifted in from the outside.

I predict that if you lot were forced to actually live with each other, to live with those sad, shattered reflections of your own innate evil walking around you, you’d murder each other within a year, and that’s being damned generous with you. Those who lived? I figure you’d be drinking the almond-flavored sugary beverage of your choice within another six goddamn days, so that on the seventh day you might rest as the Lord did.

And then when you get to the pearly gates to meet whoever it is who handles admissions to Heaven? Hell, I’d give anything to be there just to see your jaws hit the fucking deck when you realize that you’re the ones being damned, because you committed the single, solitary sin that the all-forgiving, all-loving God you pretend to love so much cannot overlook.

You twisted His words, His message, into one of hatred and intolerance, completely rejecting your supposedly beloved Christ in the process.

I would give anything to be there when you realize what you’ve done, and that no amount of backpedaling is going to get you out of it, because you are dealing with a being who knows your innermost heart. And I know that that’s a vindictive, petty thought, from a somewhat vindictive and occasionally petty soul. But you know what?

I’ll still have the fucking moral high ground over you.

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Can we please try this? Just for a few minutes?

January 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm (Uncategorized)

V's Governmental Tech Support.  Credit goes who the genius who thought it up.

V's Governmental Tech Support

Credit to whatever genius thought this one up.

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Social and Economic Justice

November 13, 2010 at 9:24 am (Uncategorized)

Since I’m crossposting this to my blog, I’m deleting prior messages, changing the subject line, and removing names, to protect the innocent. Short version, to catch folks up: There was a discussion of the ideas of social and economic justice, including the value of money, and whether or not it would be better to have the government supply everybody with what they need. I raised the ugly specter of scarcity, which brought about the following claim: Given scarcity, wouldn’t logic dictate that people should receive things they really NEED, like medical care, before people receive things they WANT, like a second mansion or a yacht?

I am now raising the issue that the comparison brought up is not an apples-to-apples comparison, and proposing that we start with one.

You have two people, both of whom have terminal cancer. Treatment is available, but you can only treat one of them due to available supplies (time, expertise, drugs, etc.). As an administrator, with no involvement with either person, which one gets treatment?

And, before you start claiming that the injustices of the system don’t lie in these situations, humor me and follow through the logic of all this before doing so. Which one do you treat? Do you make a value judgment that one of the patients is worth more than the other? If so, what gives you the right to make that choice?

If you offer the treatment yourself, you have the right to say who you’re going to treat, granted. But that’s making yourself into the one who decides what happens to others, on a purely subjective basis.

If you try to treat both of them, then you’re saying that it’s more fair to give out subpar treatment to both (increasing the likelihood that neither survives) than to give proper treatment to one.

An exchange system permits an external deciding factor – Person A can offer more than Person B for the treatment, therefore, Person A gets it.

Now, granted, this assumes they’re offering something you want, but that’s the entire basis behind an exchange economy, and a monetary system (which creates a universal commodity of exchange).

So, we’ve got a system of exchange. Some people have more of what’s of value than other people do. Now… what happens if they have enough to supply all of their needs, while others don’t?

This is where the question of “social and economic justice” comes into play. One school of thought says they’re free to do whatever they want with it – it’s their resources, they’ve gotten them one way or another (even if they inherited them, at some point somebody earned them and started passing them down), and if they want to give some of the resources away to other people, that’s great, but it’s not mandatory. This is typically the “right wing” school of thought – the school of thought, incidentally, that gives the most money to charity, even above and beyond what can be claimed for tax write-offs.

There’s another school of thought that says it’s more fair and just to take the resources of those who have more, and give them back to the people who have less – typically under the logic that either they deserve to have them taken away from them (having been a leech on the system in order to acquire an abundance of resources) or that the people who don’t have the resources deserve to have more (having been unlucky or otherwise, through no fault of their own, come out on the short end of the stick.) This is typically the “left wing” school of thought – the school of thought, incidentally, that gives less money to charity, but supports the government giving other people’s money out as charity.

Those two little incidentals, of course, sound like value judgments – the fact is, that’s what they actually do seem to support in the real world.

The problem with the “left wing” school of thought is this – you’re giving *somebody* the authority to arbitrarily take property away from one group of people, and give it to another. I can come up with several other problems, but ultimately, it boils down to that – what gives Person X the right to say “Person Y doesn’t deserve what they’ve got, Person Z does?”

Because the people who qualify as Person Z outnumber the people who qualify as Person Y?

Because Person Y has too much, while Person Z doesn’t have enough? Again – what gives Person X the right to say that?

If I were to break into Bill Gates’ house, rifle the couch cushions for a few million bucks, and give it all to charity, what have I done? I’ve just committed a burglary. But when the government does it, it’s social and economic justice.

If I were to break into Bernie Madoff’s house, swipe a few objetsd’artes worth a few million, fence them, and give it all to charity, what have I done? I’ve just committed a burglary, even though the person who was robbed was morally reprehensible and himself a lawbreaker.

And yet, when the government does it, it’s social and economic justice.

Why? Because the government knows better than I do, as an individual? I think pretty much everybody here has agreed that the government is vastly corrupt, and corruptible. I don’t see how that’s going to change because the government has begun playing Robin Hood (and what happened under the Soviet system kinda supports this theory.)

I have yet to see anybody justify giving the government the right to take from the rich and give to the poor without falling back on one of two arguments:

1: The ends justify the means. This includes all those little gems like “the good of the many outweighs the good of the few,” and even the very terminology of “social and economic justice” – which basically exists to claim that you’re actually achieving justice, not highway robbery.

2: The rich are Bad People. This includes all those little gems like “the more you take out of society, the more you ought to put back into it” and such.

Now, before the Usual Suspects come in and accuse me of being in favor of a corporate oligarchy for favoring a “right wing” approach to ‘social and economic justice’ – guess what? Both systems support a corporate oligarchy. Again, look at the Soviet system. Look at socialist nations around the world, and the names who are typically in charge of them – you still get corporate masters, they’re just disguised as governments.

Binary thought disorder affects all of this greatly, of course – all right wing folks support X, all left wing folks support Y. This is why I’ve long thought that we need more than one axis – even more than two.

Right now, folks will say we’ve got two axes to choose from – social and fiscal. Hence the view of Libertarians as “social liberals, fiscal conservatives.” Others simply lump them all into one – right vs left. At this point, I’m inclined to say that we’ve got at least 4 axes – social, fiscal, equality, and policy.

The social axis moves from liberal – do as you please – to conservative – you should do X, Y, and Z, but not do A, B, or C – EVER!

The fiscal axis moves from liberal – the government should spend freely, typically using taxes to fund it, in order to accomplish its goals – to conservative – the government should spend a bare minimum of what’s necessary to accomplish its goals properly.

The equality axis starts getting more interesting. It defines how the individual views the people around them. It moves from liberal – all people are inherently equal no matter what, and should not be judged any differently except by their actions, if even those – to conservative – people are not created equal, and should not be considered such.

And the policy axis is where we start seeing real trouble. It defines how much influence the individual believes the government should have. It moves from liberal – the government should make whatever rules or controls are necessary to enforce the rest of the axes – to conservative, which would advocate that the government that governs best governs least.

Personally, I identify myself on these axes as follows: Social liberal, fiscal conservative, equality centrist, and policy conservative (*very* conservative).

I would identify the Republican party as follows – Social conservative, fiscal liberal, equality conservative, policy liberal. The Republican party as it currently exists seems to have been taken over by the folks who would be ID’d as “socially conservative, fiscally liberal” – some of the worst of both worlds, from my line of thought. They firmly believe that there’s one proper way to live, that people should live that way, and that the government should do whatever’s necessary to establish that.

Here’s the interesting problem – so do the Democrats, who I would consider social conservatives, fiscal liberals, equality liberals, and policy liberals. Here’s the thing – the Democratic party doesn’t subscribe to a “live your life, just don’t hurt anybody” school of thought. Rather, they subscribe to a “live your life, as long as you don’t disagree with us” school of thought – the mark of a social conservative. Consider the numerous policies they seek to establish that govern how people live their lives – more stringent environmental standards, limits on what you can use to travel, limits on the rights of people to engage in potentially harmful consensual behavior (smoking, eating the ‘wrong’ foods), the Political Correctness patrol… think about it, folks. If they said “God says you should do all this” instead of “We say you should do all this because It’s the Right Thing to Do,” we’d be calling them a bunch of religious nuts. Just like the extreme right wing.

So we’ve got a government that’s run by a bunch of social conservatives who are fiscally liberal, who believe that the government should do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. The only real difference between them is what those goals are. Of course, most of the people *there* actually have the goal of “being in power as much and as long as possible,” rather than ideological goals, but the ideological goals underlying them are equally scary.

Of course, you could split that whole “equality” axis down a Hell of a lot more – religious, racial, gender, ideological, behavior, just as a short example. But I’m looking at a broad stroke with that one, which is why I put the Dem’s down on the Liberal side of the line (they tend to support equal rights lines – as long as you agree with their social goals).

Now, given all this, perhaps you can see why I can’t really stand either major party. I’m still hoping for the day when folks realize that we’re dealing with dueling fascists – assuming we’re not just dealing with a corrupt ruling class that doesn’t give a shit about how things are run as long as they’re running it – and throw both the batch of bums out.
But that’s all for another day, and roaming rather far from where I was starting things, so I’ll just wrap up here, and be off to enjoy a little time away from the mines.

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Oh dearie me….

April 6, 2010 at 3:47 pm (Uncategorized)

http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=136769

Ladies and gentlemen? Can we now get somebody to admit that those of us who question ed the man’s eligibility are more than just a bunch of racist assholes who refuse to acknowledge that a black man could possibly be qualified as the President? That, just maybe, there are reasons out there to question it?

At the very least, this is a hideously poorly chosen set of words.

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Better than any speech I’d give….

May 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/05/14/now-thats-a-commencement-speech/

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Welcome!

September 6, 2008 at 8:12 pm (Uncategorized)

Welcome to Dinner Table Taboos, where I’ll be discussing those three little things you’re not supposed to bring up in polite company – politics, religion, and particle physics.  Three things that most people don’t discuss, for fear of getting in a fight (or making eyes glaze over)… and three things that my family and I routinely discussed, whether over the dinner table, or in public.

This isn’t a news blog, or somewhere to go when you’re looking for the latest on the current shenanigans up in the capitol.  What this is for is putting my reactions to them up in a place where the people who don’t want to be subjected to them don’t have to be.  Who am I, and why should you care what I think?

Well… because this isn’t a news blog.  I’m not a journalist, I don’t want to be one, and while I do have an axe to grind I’ll make it perfectly clear when the ol’ wheel’s spinning.  I’m not blogging for the Democrats, the Republicans, the atheists, or the religious right… actually, I’m equally irritated by all of those.  I’m a gnostic eclectic neo-Pagan with a mild background in physics, Libertarian political leanings, and a job as an accountant making sure that your tax dollars do get put to work.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I’ve probably got a point of view on things that you aren’t going to find reading the Times.  If any of that appeals, then check in every once in a while – I hope to keep things interesting around here.  All I ask is that you keep things civil, and try to keep an open mind, especially if you comment on things.  If you want me to be willing to change my mind, it’s only fair that you are too.

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