Archive for September, 2011
There are times I absolutely love The Onion:
WASHINGTON — Brandishing shotguns and semiautomatic pistols, members of the 112th U.S. Congress took a class of visiting schoolchildren hostage today, barricading themselves inside the Capitol rotunda and demanding $12 trillion dollars in cash.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has emerged as spokesman for the bipartisan group, informed FBI negotiators this morning that the ransom was to be placed in stainless-steel suitcases and left on the Capitol steps by 4 p.m. sharp. If their demands are not met in full, the 11-term representative announced, “all the kids will die.”
Shaken witnesses reported that the ordeal broke out around 10 a.m. this morning, when in the midst of a Capitol building tour, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) suddenly burst into the National Statuary Hall with a pair of black panty hose over his head and began firing a Beretta 9 mm handgun into the air, shouting, “Everybody down! Everybody get the fuck down!”
Sadly unlike myself the federal government doesn’t have a sense of humor:
US police are investigating tweets by a satirical news website about a fake security alert at Washington DC’s Capitol building.
The Onion said on its Twitter account that “screams and gunfire” had been heard inside the Capitol. It later said schoolchildren had been taken hostage.
I’m pretty sure a vast majority of the people on the planet realize that The Onion is a satirical news source. When you see something going across their Twitter account you know it’s a lead up to new piece of satire.
Let’s also be honest, who here would be surprised if Congress took a class of 4th graders hostage? They use the it’s-for-the-children excuse to push through so much erroneous legislation that they might as well physically kidnap kids next time. Either way they would be doing the same thing they always do, hide behind children as an excuse to advance the police state.
Heads up everybody, this weekend there is going to be a Minnesota Weapons Collectors Association gun show in the Education Building at the State Fair Grounds.
The show takes place on Saturday, October 1st and Sunday, October 2nd. The hours for Saturday are 8:00 to 17:00 and Sunday the show goes from 9:00 to 15:00. Admission is the usual $5.00.
Earlier this week I got into a very interesting conversation with another libertarian regarding the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011. I’ll not reprint the entire conversation here but in summary I stated that, although holding some reservations, in general support the bill. My opponent holds a completely different opinion believing that it’s not for Congress to pass laws based on their interpretation of the Constitution and determining interpretations of the Constitution lies solely with the Supreme Court. Basically he believes Congress is overstepping its Constitutionally authorized powers by presenting this bill.
How can two libertarians come to completely different stances regarding this one bill? Simple, there are different categories of libertarians. My opponent is a strict constitutionalist while I am a voluntaryist. While both categories follow the non-aggression principle which constructs the foundation of libertarian philosophy and both categories believe in the rule of law there is a difference in belief of what constitutes aggression and what qualifies as law.
A strict constitutionalist does not believe a state operating under a country’s constitution is committing aggression as the constitution is considered a socially agreed upon document that those living within a country either must agree to or leave. Voluntaryists on the other hand believe that a state is necessarily violence as the definition of state is an entity that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a geographic area. Likewise a state can only be maintained through taxation which constitutes an act of agression against those being taxed.
Rest assured that I haven not wasted your time explaining the difference between the two as it is important knowledge to have in hand in order to understand the view I’m about to present regarding this bill.
As I stated in the beginning of this post I support the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act even though I hold some reservations about granting more power to the federal government. My support for this bill stems from my belief in absolute property rights which extents from my belief in the absolute right of self-ownership. There are only two legitimate means of obtaining property; homesteading and mutually agree to terms of trade between a prospective buyer and a person who either homesteaded the property or obtained it through a mutually agree upon trade. The act of homesteading necessarily requires that you mix your labor with the property (in other words make some kind of improvement to the property) in order to claim it as your own.
Unfortunately absolute property rights can not exist under a state. This fact can be demonstrated through two points; all land is claimed by the state as its own and the state maintains the power of eminent domain over all property within its geographic area. Being a state does not obtain its property through either of the two legitimate means of property attainment the state can not be said to legitimately own any property. What the state does have, however, is an incredible capacity for violence which its willing use in order to maintain its claim of property ownership.
Thus we have a conundrum, while the state should not be able to make rules regarding the actions of people on unowned property they do so through the threat and use of violence. Violence is an incredible tool for maintaining illegitimate claims and thus it’s often much easier to work within the state’s rules than to violate them. Thus it is in the best interests of those living under the state to acquire any liberties they can get away with. If acquiring these liberties can be done by obtaining permission from the state through a state approved legislative process then it might as well be used. A tool is a tool after all.
So we stand at a crossroad. In one direction the state claims the right to create arbitrary rules dictating the actions of those living within its borders. In the other direction we have the fact that the state has no legitimate claim to the property within its borders and thus has no legitimate grounds for dictating the actions of those living within. Meanwhile many of us wish to maintain our right to self-defense wherever we travel within the borders of the state (a right derived from self-ownership). I believe those of us wishing to maintain our right to self-defense should travel the road supporting the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act.
The state has no right to demand that we travel through unowned property disarmed. If the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act is passed it will remove an arbitrary restriction placed upon the people in the United States. That is to say we will gain an additional liberty and remove one more rule that is enforced through violence. Likewise this bill will maintain the rights of legitimate property owners as nowhere within the bill’s text is there a decree that private property owners must allow armed individuals onto their property.
Albeit I usually do not support the federal government granting itself additional powers over the individual states I still support this law overall as it grants an additional liberty to those living in the United States. I still find the claims of my opponent dubious as the Bill of Rights clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Most libertarians in the strict constitutionalist camp seem to agree that this bill is an overall good thing but I understand the view of those who oppose it on the grounds that any additional powers claimed by the federal government are generally dangerous.
It’s no secret that I’m a strong opponent of socialism. Socialism is a social and economic system that can only be achieved through the use of coercion. Yet I read a lot of socialist writings as I’m not one to relegate myself solely to material that support my viewpoint. Usually such material is at least well written and can be said to make an argument. Yet there is material I run across that’s so absurdly dumb that I can’t help but tear it apart. This post is about on of those absurdly dumb writings that I saw and knew right away would be excellent blog fodder.
This essay attempts to argue that jobs are obsolete. Even the most devout socialists I know acknowledge that work needs to get done and thus jobs are necessary; they just believe people will eventually perform jobs because they are socially necessary, not because they are profitable. The essay opens with the following:
I hate jobs. Not just my job – its actually pretty sweet.
This is the authors way of saying, “Hey if my boss is reading this please don’t fire me! My job and you are the only exceptions in the entire universe for my hatred of jobs and bosses!” If your essay states, “Why am I upset at jobs? Because we don’t need them anymore.” then you damn well better not ruin your argument by claiming your jobs is somehow the exception.
This author does something very special, something even anti-gunners seldom accomplish so well, he invalidates his entire argument within the opening statements or the essay:
But now less than 1% of the US population grows food for the other 99% PLUS many other countries. I”d say the days of horse and plow are over.
Although the author claims that jobs are unnecessary he also states that somebody produces food. Food production is indeed a job, and a very necessary one at that. The very fact that there are farmers producing enough food for all is what allows the rest of society to work on other tasks. Famers producing food for the nation is a perfect example of distribution of labor.
I wouldn’t ridicule this part so much if the author gave some kind of alternative to jobs. Had the essay at least mentioned that farming could be completely replaced with automation (which it currently can’t) I would just roll my eyes and move along. Instead the author says jobs are unnecessary while acknowledging that somebody has to produce food. The author’s argument gets more absurd from there:
All recently created jobs are fulfilling artificial needs. The fastest growing industry in the past decade was the financial industry. Completely false and outside our realm of human needs. All jobs created since the 80s are like smoke. They’re here for a little while, hanging in the air, but soon they dissipate. They’re not sustainable because they’re based on artificial, socially created “needs” like an HDTV, 401K, computers or fashionable clothing.
All recently created jobs are fulfilling artificial needs… except farmers, employees of water treatment facilities, construction workers who build our shelters, employees in the medical field, people who invent mechanisms for preserving food so that we have something to eat when crops are not ready to harvest, etc. It’s absolutely ridiculous to claim that all jobs created since the 1980s are simply fulfilling artificial social needs.
What the author doesn’t see is the fact that our society has done such a good job of providing for the needs of the majority of people that we have been able to redirect an immense amount of resources towards wants. Although HDTVs, computers, and fashionable clothing are not needs they are wants and those wants are being fulfilled because other people are working jobs that provider for our needs. So, who wants to see the author invalidate his own argument in one line? I do:
And the world only needs so many doctors, police and firefighters. So what are the rest of us to do in our useless, pointless jobs that merely exist to make some rich guy more money? How do we free ourselves?
Jobs are unnecessary because we only need so many doctors, police officers, and firefighters. Wait a minute, those are all jobs. How can jobs be unnecessary and necessary at the same time? That’s like saying a fish isn’t a fish but is a fish. What can I expect from an author who doesn’t understand basic biology though:
Well we could start by realizing that jobs turn our bodies into a debt that we must work to repay. Our hunger, our biological need for a warm place to sleep is used against us.. Our own bodies, our very own biological processes, are used as leverage to FORCE us to work.
Damn ourselves for being biologically dependent on outside sources of energy and a relatively stable environment! The fact that these biological needs are being used to force us into needing food and shelter is a travesty! No other lifeforms on the planet have this problem… oh, wait.
Nobody is forcing you to work (at least in the United States, some countries such as the former Soviet Union actually had laws against showing up late for work or being absent entirely). If you wish to go homestead a piece of land and survive by subsistence farming then you may be able to find a plot of land to do so (if the state allows you to of course). The only person forcing you to work is you, if you committed suicide you’d no longer have to provide for your biological needs and thus would be free from having to work. Still I think the most idiotic statement in the entire essay is the following line:
Now what has happened since the abolition of slavery? We’ve inserted a middle man (money) between us and our access to basic life necessities like food and shelter.
Apparently the author has never cracked open a history book because if he had he’d know that money was in use well before slavery was abolished. Also the following is absolutely false:
By eradicating slavery we’ve actually made ourselves EASIER to control through work and jobs because if one controls the money one controls the labor power of the entire society.
I think it’s quite a bit easier to control somebody using force than by offering them money in exchange for their labor. If I put a gun to your head and told you to either till my garden or die I’d have far fewer complications than if I offered you $10.00 an hour and had to worry about your quitting and perusing a better offer elsewhere. Controlling people through their voluntary action isn’t control at all.
We also have the illusion of choice at our jobs. We think we’re free because we get to pick our favorite flavor of slavery. But that doesnt change the fact that we all NEED jobs to live, to access basic life necessities.
Unless you subsistence farm, then you don’t need a job to live (well I guess subsistence farming is a job technically). The bottom line is somebody has to produce your biological needs or you will die. You can either choose to provide for your own biological needs or exchange your labor with another who will produce your needs while you do something else.
One last point and then I”m out. Prisoners. These people BREAK the law, are a danger to society, yet they get free food and shelter day in day out and dont work a single day.
They aren’t getting free anything, we as taxpayers are footing the bill. I’m not a fan of the “justice” system here in the United States were we incarcerate anybody and everybody who’s done something naughty (as defined by the state). While it’s completely incorrect to say prisoners get all of those amenities for free I will agree that it’s wrong that they get those amenities at no charge to them. Anyways let’s close this up:
If AFL-CIO is gonna fight a fight why not fight to reduce people’s dependence on jobs instead of INCREASING people’s dependence on jobs.
How? Seriously this entire article talks about jobs being unnecessary (except when they’re necessary) but offers absolutely no alternatives. If you’re going to make an argument it’s generally considered poor form to invalidate that argument right away. It’s considered even worse form if you offer no alternatives to what you’re claiming is wrong.
Finally to answer any questions about why I spent so much time writing a rebuttal to an obscure and poorly thought out argument I will say this, it amused me. That’s what this site is about, amusing me. I am glad others find my act of self amusement interesting enough to read everyday though.
What’s the best way to win voters? I honestly don’t know but I can tell you one way that doesn’t work, telling the voters you want to suspend elections:
Spokesman Mark Johnson confirms that Perdue, speaking off the cuff as she often does, told the crowd that partisanship in Washington is keeping Congress from doing its job. She said lawmakers are too worried about re-election to work across party lines.
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover,” Perdue said.
That’ll certainly win people over to your side. Although what she said was stupid I’m guessing her thoughts during the time were worse. She was probably thinking, “Hey. Hey you serf. Yeah you. Us barons were talking and we’ve decided to stop letting you idiots vote. Now get back in the field and harvest me some fucking corn before I have you killed.” Obviously Perdue’s campaign is down playing this:
Perdue’s press secretary Chris Mackey said the remark had been taken out of context. “Come on,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve,” Mackey said.
Sorry but that doesn’t matter. Her statement makes for great blog fodder and there is now way I’m going to pass it up, especially when there is a high likelihood that she at last partially meant what she said (most politicians are tyrants at heart).
It is well established throughout the security industry that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is nothing but security theater. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who has done even a little research into government provided “service.” While a private entity has to worry about being fired if they do a poor job the government has no such worry so they can continue to do a poor job and get away with it.
Thor help you though if you’re a person who accidentally got through the TSA theater and later try to turn over the goods that weren’t supposed to be in the airport “secure” area:
Most people are familiar with that moment of panic at an airport security checkpoint when they remember something that won’t pass a screening, but for one Minnesota man, telling the Transportation Security Agency that a live round passed through twice by mistake got him in trouble.
Yet, when a Rochester man was allowed to bring a live 9mm round through no fewer than two security checkpoints, he was interrogated when he innocently tried to turn it over.
After turning the bullet over to the TSA voluntarily, Koenig was pulled off his flight and questioned for nearly 30 minutes.
As for why the round was in his pocket at all, Koenig said he was at the pistol range for target shooting the last time he wore that jacket and simply forgot it was there.
This sounds like typical government thinking. First you put a security system that is designed improperly from the start, then somebody accidentally gets through the poorly designed security system carrying something that was on the verboten list, and finally the man realizes what has happened and goes to turn over the verboten good only to be punished by the government goons who fucked up in the first place.
Also let’s put this entire thing into perspective. The man managed to accidentally get through the TSA theater with a single round of live 9mm ammunition. He didn’t have a launching platform for that round on him so the cartridge was mostly harmless. Why a TSA agent didn’t just say, “Heh, we missed that, thanks for letting us know.” instead of interrogating an innocent man for half an hour is beyond my ability to comprehend. There again what else should we expect from a government agent? Innocent people are almost always the ones punished when government agents screw up.
BILLINGS, Mont. — A hunter attacked by a wounded grizzly in a Montana forest was killed not by the bear, but by a gunshot fired by a companion trying to save him, authorities said Friday.
The shot was fired by 20-year-old Ty Bell, also of Winnemucca, as he attempted to stop the bear’s attack. No charges are expected, Bowe said.
Although I commend Mr. Bell for putting in the effort to try to save his friend I must say, ultimately, the outcome ended up being the same. Actually scratch that, there is a chance his friend would have survived the grizzly’s attack.
With that said if I’m ever being mauled by a grizzly feel free to step in and help, I’ll not ridicule you regardless of the outcome. I take that back, I’ll ridicule the shit out of you if I die.
I think I now know why nobody reads my blog:
Online traffic is one of those things you’re not supposed to talk about.
But anyone who writes online and proclaims, “I don’t care if anyone reads me,” is a liar.
If you didn’t care if anyone read you, you wouldn’t write online. In fact, you wouldn’t write at all.
As I always say this sit is here to amuse me although I’m glad others find my self-amusement entertaining enough to read. I will agree though that anybody who blogs and says they seriously don’t care if anybody reads what they post is likely lying of delusional. The people who don’t care if others read their material are usually in their bunker writing out a manifesto. Those of us who enjoy having an audience write blogs. But let’s see why nobody reads my blog:
1. You’re boring.
Damn… got me there. It’s hard being exciting when you’re a computer programmer who spends his off time reading or at the firing range. Then again that’s why I usually don’t write about myself.
If your idea of being interesting is writing about complex tax codes, what your cat ate for breakfast (unless it’s Maru), or how much you bench pressed, you may be boring. It all depends. The fact of the matter is that it’s not the thing, it’s the relationship to the thing, and when it comes to writing, it’s not the subject, it’s your relationship to it.
I believe this is something many new bloggers should take note of. For every topic out there you can expect about ten thousand bloggers are already covering it. You need to give people a reason to read your blog. Some people derive their traffic from being content curators while others try to get traffic by writing opinion pieces (which is what this site does). Neither method works though if you don’t actually care about the subject you’re writing about. For example if I were to start writing about horseback riding this site would become even shittier than it already is because I’ve never ridden a horse before. On the other hand I have a deep pasion for personal rights and the philosophy behind those rights so I can write about the topic all day (as evident by the existence of this blog). So what other reasons are there explaining why nobody reads my blog?
I could make a list of all the various personality characteristics of which I am not a fan, but waffler is really up there at the top. Sometimes women are wafflers, even more so than men, because it’s easier to be nice. Actually, it’s not easier to be nice. It’s easier for everyone else for you to be nice, but it’s harder for you, because you never say what you really think, and nobody ever knows, and then you want to go home and saw at your wrists with a dull bread knife.
I have may problems but not saying what I think isn’t one of them. Next:
Sure, you can think of women who are controversialists, but I suspect it’s easier to be a controversialist if you are a man than if you are a woman. To be a controversialist on the internet, you have to deal with writing things that other people don’t want you to say, and you have to deal with all the criticism that gets launched at you, and, after all that, you have to do it again, and again, and again. It’s like pissing in the wind, and there’s a hurricane.
I also have no problem writing things that other people don’t want to say. So over all I guess the only reason nobody reads my blog is because I’m boring.
Seriously though if you’re a blogger read that article. It’s short and offers a good deal of incite for writing a blog that people may actually chose to read.
Yesterday Amazon had their Kindle event where they released their expected tablet device along with two other e-ink based Kindles.
There are now three tiers to the Kindle line starting with the cheapest device simply referred to as the Kindle. Although the price starts at $79.00 that includes advertisements being sent to and displayed on the device. Unlike most websites with advertisements the Kindle’s ads appear to be unobtrusive although I would still pay the extra $30.00 to have an ad-free device. This device should really be considered a dedicated reader as it lacks a hardware keyboard and instead relies on an on-screen keyboard where you use the four-way navigation button on the unit to highlight and select keys individually. So long as you don’t type notes on your Kindle very often this probably shouldn’t act as too much of a deterrent. If you really want a keyboard the previous Kindle can still be had for $99.00 if you’re OK with ads and $139.00 if you want an ad-free experience.
The next tier in the Kindle line is the new touch-screen equipped Kindle Touch. Like the previous Kindle the Kindle Touch comes in two variaties; Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi with free lifetime 3G. The Wi-Fi only Kindle Touch runs $99.00 for the ad-supported version and $139.00 for the ad-free version. The 3G equipped unit starts at $149.00 for the ad-supported version and $189.00 for the ad-free version. When the Nook Touch came out and I was able to get some hands on time with it I said Amazon would be guaranteed to have some of my money if they ever came out with a touch-screen enabled Kindle. Well they did and Amazon now has $189.00 of my money as I pre-ordered the ad-free 3G version of the Kindle Touch the second it became available for pre-order on Amazon’s website. Sadly I have to wait until November 21st for the unit to ship.
Finally Amazon surprised nobody with the announcement of their new tablet, the Kindle Fire. The Fire will set you back $199.00 (period, there is no ad-supported version) which is pretty reasonable considering the price of most tablets currently on the market. For that $199.00 you will get a Wi-Fi equipped tablet device with a 7″ screen, dual-core processor, and 8GB of on-board storage. While 8GB of on-board storage seems small you also get free cloud storage of all Amazon content which includes both music and movies offered by the retailer. Another thing that you get is access to the Amazon App Store which is really just Amazon’s own version of the Android App Market. Yes the Fire is an Android tablet but you’d never know that by looking at the interface as that has been completely customized by Amazon. While I will reserved judgement until I actually get to play with the unit I will say at first glance this looks to be the first real competitor to Apple’s iPad.
Overall I must say that Amazon continues to find new and inventive ways to get my money. I wish Amazon would put native ePub support on their readers so I wouldn’t have to use Caliber to convert titles in that format to Mobi, that is a very minor issue. It’s great to see competition in the e-reader market as well. Even though Amazon kickstarted the e-reader market with the first Kindle, Barnes and Noble has been doing a great job at releasing competitive products. When the free market is allowed to work the real winners end up being consumers.
Do you know what a noble cause is? Speaking out against unjust wars. Of course if you do this in Minneapolis while one of the “ambassadors” of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District (DID) are around you’ll likely have your bike stolen:
They’re private employees working for a non-profit, Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, and their job is to help make downtown “cleaner, safer, greener and better in order to achieve a more vital and vibrant downtown.” They’re called “ambassadors,” and according to DID are supposed to be the “friendly faces” of the city.
But you wouldn’t know it from watching a video of two DID “ambassadors” harassing an anti-war protestor who was chalking the sidewalk in front of the FBI building on Friday night. The ambassador came up and snatched her bike, claiming it had been “abandoned,” threatened her for “defacing public property,” and said he could have her arrested for cursing.
Isn’t it interesting when somebody decides they now have the state’s power to steal property from private individuals? Here, watch some thievery in action:
My favorite part is when the “ambassador” claimed that he could have Melissa Hill (the owners of the bike) arrested for cursing. Guess what? If somebody could be arrested for cursing I’d be in jail right fucking now. On the upside this idiot was at least stripped of his fancy title of “ambassador” even though he may keep his job with the hiring company:
Apparently the employee gave the bike back to her after the video was taken — but the damage to his career was done.
DID Chief Operating Officer Sarah Harris complained to Block by Block, a Kentucky vendor that technically employed the “ambassador,” and he has since been stripped of his yellow jacket. It is unclear if he will continue to work for Block by Block.
So remember when you’re in Minneapolis you may have your property stolen by the person that are tasked with making you feel welcome. This is one of the reasons why I rarely venture into that forsaken city.