Saturday, December 13, 2008

If only he'd worked for the government...

The news is awash with the story of Bernard Madoff, who swindled $50 billion from investors.

Federal agents arrested Madoff at his apartment on Thursday after prosecutors said he told senior employees that his money management operations were "all just one big lie" and "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme."

A Ponzi scheme is an illegal investment vehicle that pays off old investors with money from new ones, and is dependent on a constant stream of new investment. Because the invested capital is not earning a sufficient return on its own, such schemes eventually collapse under their own weight.


So my question is this - other than the fact that it is smaller and not likely to bankrupt an entire nation, how is this any different than Social Security, or Medicare?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wouldn't you like to be a pepper, too?

Way back in March, Dr. Pepper scoffed at another report that Axl Rose's long awaited "Chinese Democracy" album would be finished this year. Why, if that CD came out in 2008, they'd give everybody in America a free Dr. Pepper!

For some reason, the offer excluded former G'N'R guitarists Slash and Buckethead. Haters. When Axl found out about this, he commented

"We are surprised and very happy to have the support of Dr Pepper with our album Chinese Democracy, as for us, this came totally out of the blue. If there is any involvement with this promotion by our record company or others, we are unaware of such at this time. And as some of Buckethead's performances are on our album, I'll share my Dr Pepper with him."


Well, contrary to expectations, "Chinese Democracy" has arrived. Well, the album, at least, though not the political reform. And true to their word, Dr. Pepper is going to pay up!

"We never thought this day would come," Dr Pepper's vice president of marketing Tony Jacobs told Variety, speaking no doubt of November 23, which also happens to be Chinese Democracy's release date. "But now that it's here, all we can say is: The Dr Pepper's on us."


When asked to comment, Admiral James T. Kirk had this to say:



KKKAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?

Now, any guy who has ever talked to a woman knows that complimenting her is a risky undertaking. Women are beyond pessimistic when it comes to compliments. Generally, she'll either:

1) Refuse to believe your sincerity,
2) Give you a long list of reasons why you're wrong, or
3) All of the above.

After pondering this for the last, I don't know, entire lifetime of mine, I've come to some speculations on why this might be so.

We all know women face a tough road when it comes to looks. Not so much from men, although we are a shallow bunch that loves to judge a book by its cover. No, where it really sucks to be a woman is in the view of other women. Women are ferocious, spiteful, and vicious to each other when it comes to looks. This is from her weight to her makeup to her hair to her outfit...

It is always amusing to me to hear women complain about how fake the female models in men's magazine's look. I have had enough female friends in my life that I've thumbed through a women's magazine or two. They have about ten million more ads than men's magazines, and in all of them, the models look like severely anorexic robots with clown makeup and sci-fi hair. It is everything that women judge, but taken to an impressive excess. What's fake about the women in men's magazines? They airbrush out the stretchmarks, and they usually have overly-large-yet-curiously-perky boobies. That's about it. But I digress.

Women are judged on their appearance from the day they're born, and after awhile, they grow very insecure about it. Who wouldn't? I guarantee, if men had to display their genitalia 24/7 for constant judgment, we'd be a lot more insecure, too. And probably a lot more anorexic; I think that sight would make me lose my appetite.

I don't know who has a tougher time in the long run, beautiful women, or plain/cute/average women.* In their youth, beautiful women don't have to develop a personality. Or brains. Or social skills of any variety. They're given a free pass on every facet of social interaction. I can't tell you how many times a night a 20-something hottie comes up to me onstage and asks to get her song played for free, and in front of all the songs people are tipping me $10 and $20 for. When I laugh and refuse, you can see the fuses blowing in what passes for a mind; she cannot compute being turned down. It's never happened to her before.

Unfortunately, 20-something hotties are usually not so hott a few years down the road. And then what do they do? The only currency they possess is their fast-fading looks, and it's an ever-falling exchange rate.

Average, cute, or plain women on the other hand often develop a sense of humor, an intellect, an ability to listen, and interact, and generally be a good person. And I can't tell you how many times I've seen an average looking girl get hotter and hotter in my eyes based solely on her personality. But she'll be insecure about her looks, I promise you. All her life, she's been judged and found wanting, through no fault of her own.

Yeah, it's a tough, tough world for women. Then throw in men, tossing out the compliments. Men usually do this for one of three reasons:

1) An attempt at manipulation (usually to try to get laid)
2) A feeling of obligation (usually an attempt to avoid drama while in a long-term relationship)
3) Sincerity

Let's look at number one first. Cause that's how I roll. (not with the manipulation, but with taking sequences sequentially)

Women are smarter than men think they are. They don't think the same way, and don't care about the same things, and often come across to men as intellectually inferior. Heh. Don't believe it for a second! Different does not always mean lesser, a lesson both sexes have yet to learn. I could go off on the different ways men and women think, but that's a topic for a whole blog of its own. Or perhaps a series. So what does this mean when it comes to complimenting women to try to get somewhere with them?

While you're thinking about how smooth you are, they're seeing right through you. When it comes to relationships, women are far more devious than any straight man could ever be. Their major weakness is often that they're so Byzantine in their plotting that they have trouble relating to the straight-forward nature of men. So why does complimenting women work to manipulate them so often?

Because they want it to. Trust me guys, you're not going to talk a girl into wanting you. She either does or doesn't, and has likely made up her mind long before you even start trying. You're not manipulating them, they're manipulating themselves. Let your ego deflate and go with it.

So number one? Useless.

Number two - also known as "Of course you look great in that dress, honey" - I've never reached that stage in a relationship, so I can't speak much about it. It seems the height of absurdity to me, but maybe I'll understand when I've been down that road a few miles.

Number three - ah, that's the crux. Complimenting a woman because you mean it.

See, here is the tragedy; I think men innately hold women in a higher regard than they're allowed to express. Women today have been raised to be bitchy, and men know it. Men are no longer raised to be assertive, aggressive, and self-confident. So telling a woman something that she's going to immediately either dismiss or get contrary over - that's not something most modern men can handle.

I intend to write a post later on the negative effects of modern male/female relations. But for now, I'm just going to say it's such a shame that men are in the position they're in on this topic, because I think a lot of men see women as beautiful overall, not just the rare girl who's been starved and made-up and cinched up to meet some artificial standard of beauty.

So men, take my cousin Ben's advice; reach down inside your pants. Feel that ballsack; hold it in your hand, and say to yourself "I am a MAN. I can DO this thing!"

Now that you have come to perhaps the most important realization you can have in this modern world, the next time you see a girl with pretty hair, walk up to her and say "Excuse me, ma'am. I just wanted to tell you you have pretty hair." Then walk off. Don't wait for a response; you don't need one. When you see a girl with a beautiful smile, say "Pardon me, but your smile just brightened my day a little bit." Then walk on. Don't do it for any gain on your part, and do it without fear. Women today need some encouragement; they're in a lonely place. Two thing will come of this; you are going to make some girl's day just a little bit better. And you're going to reclaim a little bit of the manhood that society has stolen from you.

And women; smile. I guarantee, you're far more lovely than you let yourself believe. No, this doesn't entitle you to jack shit. But neither should you worry about it so much. And I know you do.

Peace and shit,

Jester

*As with all generalities, there are abundant exceptions. I know several intoxicatingly gorgeous women who are possessed of the keenest of intellect and richest of humor. I also know average women who are just bitchy. And I've known some downright ugly women of both varieties. It happens.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Peter Schiff knows his shit...

What really bothers me about the talking head experts employed by every news channel - they are never held accountable for their predictions, just as politicians are never held accountable for their broken promises.

In an ideal world, people would be held accountable for their track record. But that is not the world we live in. Now we live in a world where people are only held accountable to say what we want to hear.

Ron Paul was considered a quack for his predictions about where this country, his party, and our policies were headed. He has had an almost 100% accuracy in these. And the result, now that his predictions are coming true?

He's considered a quack.

Another example of this is Peter Schiff. A very smart man and economist, he was considered a quack for his pessimistic views given on any channel that would talk to him. Now that he has been proven right, and the other "experts" were completely wrong? They are still called in regularly to give their "expert opinions", and Peter is still considered a quack.

Watch this:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Good reading...

Though I occasionally disagree with his conclusions, Justin Raimondo's stock keeps going up and up in my book. He has an interesting way of cutting through BS, and the habit of exhaustively backing up his claims.

Though an early Obama supporter, he has since become soured on our Comrade-In-Chief. Here's a very interesting article he just wrote:

The Audacity of Hype


The mainstream media, particularly on television, has lost all sense of objectivity and proportion, and their reporting of the president-elect's doings has taken on a distinctly Soviet air. "Our Glorious Leader Picks the White House Dog" is the emblematic headline of a servile fourth estate. The political atmosphere is positively eerie: amid calls for "unity" and attacks on "toxic" language that is "divisive," there is an odd uniformity of thought similar to the virtual unanimity that gripped the nation in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Groupthink is all the rage, and the media has joined in the fun.


CNN, in a strange fit of usefulness and taking a break from prostrating in front of Obama, decided to host a series of articles about the GOP's struggles. They made the mistake of giving a slot to Ron Paul, who proceeded to tell the truth:

The GOP should ask why the USA is on the wrong track:

The questions now being asked are: Where to go from here and who's to blame for the downfall of the Republican Party?

Too bad the concern for the future of the Republican Party had not been seriously addressed in the year 2000 when the Republicans gained control of the House, Senate, and the Presidency.

Now, in light of the election, many are asking: What is the future of the Republican Party?

But that is the wrong question. The proper question should be: Where is our country heading? There's no doubt that a large majority of Americans believe we're on the wrong track. That's why the candidate demanding "change" won the election...

...After eight years of perpetual (and unnecessary and unconstitutional) war, persistent and expanded attacks on our privacy, runaway deficits, and now nationalization of the financial system, Republicans are going to have a tough time regaining the confidence of the American people.


One refrain we've been hearing non-stop from the media is how the "conservatives" lost the election, or how Palin ruined it for McCain. Bullshit. The people who hated her were already celebrating their puppy-love for Obama.

Mark Sanford wrote a pretty telling article on this:

Conservatives didn't lose election, GOP did

Beyond the presidential race, it goes without saying the Republican Party took a shellacking nationally. Some on the left will say our electoral losses are a repudiation of our principles of lower taxes, smaller government and individual liberty. But Tuesday was not in fact a rejection of those principles -- it was a rejection of Republicans' failure to live up to those principles.


And last but not least, remember that bailout program? The one that was going to save us? The one that was necessary to buy up bad stocks? Turns out that the money isn't going for that at all. Instead it's going to forced nationalization of banks, regardless of their solvency.

Paulson changes course
In a stunning turnabout, the Bush administration Wednesday abandoned the original centerpiece of its $700 billion effort to rescue the financial system and said it will not use the money to purchase troubled bank assets.


What's this? An expensive government program, forced upon taxpayers despite overwhelming opposition to it, now changing course and not doing anything that it was promised to do, or intended to do? Unheard of! Not in America! Why, this is outrageous, illegal, immoral!

Wait, which government program are we talking about, again?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Our Grand Strategy!

I have a bet going with a Major in the Air Force who told me that he believes Barack Obama will have our troops out of Iraq within 12 months of taking office. The bet is a steak dinner - I believe it is a win/win situation:

A) I win. I don't believe there's a snowball's chance in hell that Obama will have our troops out in four years, much less one. But then, I didn't think he'd win, or that Ron Paul would've been more than a tiny blip in the political radar. So I'm wrong sometimes - big surprise! But if I'm right, then I get a steak dinner!

B) I lose. In that case, I'll probably order a bottle of champagne to go with the steak dinner! Hell yeah! To have our troops out of there? One of the best reasons to celebrate since women discovered shaving!

In the meantime, I came across a hilarious comic that shows our Iraq strategy so far. It is copyrighted to Matt Wuerker, and I hope that I violate no copyright laws by posting it here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Vox nails it...

Where was the unprecedented turnout? Where was this giant swell of voters, drawn to the Hope/Change love bus? It didn't show up, turns out.

Yes, I voted Libertarian. No, I didn't make a difference. It's just a ritual I go through. As usual, Vox Day hammers it out of the park.

...Voting these days primarily concerns how the spoils of government revenue will be divided, an act of little interest to the libertarian.

As Nate has pointed out in the past, it is almost impossible to think of a single historical situation where freedom from government control has come about through the peaceful means of voting. (By all means, do feel free to propose any examples in the comments.) Men have voted away their liberties since Gaius Marius was first elected to an unprecedented third term as consul, but they seldom seem to ever see fit to vote themselves more freedom.


And that my friends, is why so many are apathetic. You don't change the system from within. It doesn't work. You can try, and I will think you noble. But it doesn't work.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

What to say, what to say...

So, it's gonna be President Obama.

You probably already know my opinion on this, so I'm not going to repeat it. It's time to take a break from politics.

Witness therefore, the best beer commercial of all time.

video

Now, don't you feel better?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Synchronized Debating

For any of you who feel that the presidential debates were worth watching... Who thought that it was an actual debate, vs. a carefully scripted chance to expound talking points from previous speeches... Who didn't realize it was the same tired rhetoric over and over and over again...

Just watch this.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.

A 3rd Grade Civics Lesson

Originally posted on the Campaign for Liberty blog, courtesy of Don Rasmussen (via his mother)

The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president. We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.
To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.
The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Olivia’s mother. The day arrived when they were to make their speeches. Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was concise. She said, “If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream.” She sat down. The class went wild. “Yes! Yes! We want ice cream.”
She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn’t sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn’t know. The class really didn’t care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a land slide.
Every time Barack Obama opens his mouth he offers ice cream, and fifty percent of America reacts like nine year olds. They want ice cream. The other fifty percent know they’re going to have to feed the cow.


Before you dismiss this, honestly think about it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I was briefly listening to NPR today, as they were scoffing at the current charge of "Socialist" being tossed at Barack Obama. That's ridiculous, they said. We've all known socialism doesn't work; the USSR proved it!

True, very true. That doesn't mean that we're not headed that way, and rapidly. Soon, we'll be more centrally planned, controlled, and socialist than China. That's not crazy conspiracy theory talk; it's a matter of public record.

Some interesting reads on the economy... If you want to read up on that, that is.

Marc Faber predicts the US will go bankrupt soon.

Duh!

Greenspan says it's not his fault
! He can't believe the free market did this!

Putz.


Disaster Capitalism for Dummies
... And guess who the dummies are? That's right; the American people.

Grand Theft America! An even more pessimistic look at where we are. Sadly, I haven't much to refute it.

Finally, a light-hearted look at socialism: Wackonomics.

Enjoy! Liberty and Justice for all... Until now, that is.

Explaining the Tax System with Beer

I encountered this in the comments to Rachel Lucas' blog. I thought it quite eloquent.




Explaining Our U.S. Tax System with Beer
==============================================

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beers by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.’

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free, but once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!” “Yeah, that’s right,”exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got TEN times more than I!” “That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!” “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!” The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something very important….they didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics University of Georgia

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Who's on First?

This is quite possibly the funniest skit I have seen in years.

It's from an Australian news parody known as "Newstopia." Incredibly funny at all times, but this was the best of the best. It takes the modern news "forums" and spins it in an absurdity unparalleled since the infamous "who's on first?" skit.

Just watch. Be prepared to pause for laughter - it is relentless in its pursuit of random humor.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some more good reading

An excellent interview with Dr. Helen Smith titled "The Apex Fallacy"

On the economy - an EXCELLENT analogy showing the fallacies of the Keynesian economic assertions of current economic gurus such as Paul Krugman (recent Nobel laureate). It's called "The Importance of Capital Theory"

It amazes me that an economic school that so far has predicted every major turn of our economy for the last hundred years or so is considered "obsolete" - while the more modern schools of thought are completely flummoxed at our current crisis.

Blogs I've been following...

Okay, best intentions in the world notwithstanding, I just haven't had a lot of time to write. But I'm going to start posting more, because there's a ton of interesting stuff out there.

Here are a couple of cool reads:

On politics - Chance Litton's "A Revolution in Thinking, or How I Stopped Drinking the Kool-Aid"

Also on politics - Jack Hunter's "Don't Throw Away Your Vote"

On a different note, I've been hearing non-stop about this "Twilight" book. From everything I could tell, it was another cheesy vampire romance. Like we need another one of those. Weren't the last fifty thousand bad enough? But every girl seems to be enthralled. So I decided to read a couple reviews. This one summed it up well enough that I don't think I need to bother reading it:

"Examining Twilight"

All I can say is that I don't understand why women read this trash. It's utter, worthless, dreck. It lacks plot, originality, substance, style. It's just plain shit. Women just don't have the intellect to read real worthy material like men do, I guess.



Did I say intellect? Shit. I think that might be the wrong word.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rachel Lucas is SO channeling me!

Check it out!

Hey, at least I wrote it first! As far as I know, that is... Of course, she does it with actual quotes, pics, and even a DeMotivational Poster.

I'm low-budget, okay?

Jester

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nobody is laughing anymore...

An almost chilling look at an interview with Peter Schiff less than two years ago. Watch as they laugh at his predictions, and keep in mind that these same people are still considered the experts, and Peter Schiff (along with Ron Paul) are considered the fringe, the lunatics.

Tolkien and Today

I know, I know. I go on these spurts where I don't write for awhile.

This blog is not so much about me, as it is about how I perceive the world around me. A minor distinction, to be sure, but an important one.

You see, lately I haven't liked what I've been seeing.

Personally, my life is going really, really well. I love where I work. I love where I live. I love what I do. My life is good. But my country...

My country is sick, and it's dying. All that I love and hold dear about America is either dead, or in its last feeble gasps. HG Wells once said that civilization is a race between education and catastrophe. I fear education has lost the race.

So it's been hard to write. Hard to say what I've been thinking. I try to find wry amusement in it, but it's getting harder to find a reason to smile about where we are, and where we're headed.

Every few years I re-read JRR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" and each time I find wonders anew. The sword and sorcery tale I loved as a kid takes on new depths and meaning every time. I recently did this (I was sick for a couple of days). And there was something about it chewing at me. Something that I couldn't quite place. And today it hit me.

The true reason I love this tale is because it's about right and wrong. It's about why you fight evil.

Lord of the Rings is not a fun time, where the good guys always win and never fall. It's not a tale where the hero always makes the right choices, and knows what to do at every turn. It's a story of people trying to do the right thing, trying to fight evil as best they can. The darkness is winning. Defeat for good is all but inevitable, and yet they fight on. Some out of despair, some clinging to hope, but still they fight on. For one simple reason: Evil must be fought.

There is no good character in the story that honestly expects to win over evil (except some of the more foolish side characters, perhaps). They expect to lose. And at the end of the story, it's not truly a happy ending. Things are not the same, can never return to the way they were. But they fight on, regardless, because Evil must be fought.

Evil is with us today. It does not take the form of Wraiths and Goblins, but Ignorance and Self-Centeredness. Every evil is perpetuated in the name of good, by people who either know no better, or are so wrapped up in themselves they feel superior to all others, enough so to inflict their choices upon us all. Evil takes the form of one more government program funded by stealing from citizens. Evil takes the form of one more right, one more liberty stolen away from us in the name of security. Evil takes the form of every person dedicated to bending others to their will by force. This is the Evil of Osama Bin Laden, but it is also the Evil of George W. Bush. And Evil must be fought.

Our congress looks set to pass a bill that has less than 7% approval, a bill certain to destroy the dollar faster than anything ever attempted. If this happens, there is nobody left who can say with any degree of legitimacy that our government has a shred of "of the people, by the people, and for the people" left in it. Our wonderful News Media gleefully reported at noon that this socialist nightmare of a bill was all but certain to be passed.

Our President ignores the Constitution.
Our Congress ignores the Constitution.
Our Judicial branch "interprets" the Constitution. Which is to say, ignores it whenever convenient.

We are tearing away the last vestiges of Republic, ironically at the very moment that our Empire is about to collapse.

And everybody is giving up. I know many people that do not want to know how bad it is, because they don't want to acknowledge where we are, and where we're headed. I was on the verge of giving up, myself. I can't win this fight. I can't change our government. If there is a person out there with the connections, the charisma, and the opportunity to make a difference - that person is not me.

But I am today reminded - Evil must be fought. Not because you expect to win. Not because you expect to change the world. But because it is what good men do. For every good man that fails, one, or two, or ten thousand are inspired to try again.

I fear we have lost our country. Lost it to greed, and ignorance, and self-centeredness. But I will fight for it. Because Evil must be fought.

So I will still call upon the congressmen who don't listen to me. I will vote for people I respect, who won't be allowed to win. I will write blogs in the hopes of having even one person wake up and tear off the veil that has been put over their eyes. And if none of this bears any fruit, I will have fought Evil. Because that is what good men do.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

All Hail Sarah the Great!

A lot of people who know how deeply I care about politics have been asking me what I think of Sarah Palin. I've been trying to refine my thoughts enough to give a coherent answer. So here goes:

Everything I know about her is awesome. From what I can tell, I'd vote for her for President in a heartbeat.

But she's not running for President. And if McCain wins, there's nothing that says he's going to pay a damn bit of attention to what she stands for. In fact, everything about his record says the opposite. He's going to do what he wants to do;

More government
More spending
More foreign interventions
More freedom taken away in the name of protecting our freedom (gotta love that one).

Don't just listen to me; listen to what he himself says he's going to do!

So yeah, she's great. And irrelevant. She's a distraction, smoke and mirrors. But very, very effective. In one fell swoop, McCain's won the conservative base, non-feminazi women, and independents. He's won the election, without changing a single thing about himself or what he's going to do.

So the next question is this - do I admit I was wrong about the election? Of course. And not at all.

The particulars I was completely wrong about. I've called this one completely wrong at every step, for the first time since I started following politics (mid-90s).

But the general truth is this: we are not in a free country. We do not have free elections. We have a circus show, and a competition between pre-approved candidates. But only the approved candidates can make it. If a candidate doesn't follow the correct platform (which is the same between both "parties"), he/she will NOT be allowed to succeed. When Ron Paul actually upset the status quo, he was barred from buying advertising. He was barred from several debates, and given a fairly thorough media blackout.

Most people do not desire liberty, in my experience. They desire safety and prosperity. I do not think this was always the case, but it certainly is in my lifetime. I have theories on this as well, but that's for another time.

I recently heard somebody say one of the greatest beliefs that has afflicted modern America is that we have come to believe our desires and needs are our rights. Even ignoring the needs side of this, this is still a painful truth; that just because we need something, we do not have a right to it. In fact, I bet that many reading this would argue this very statement with me. What if you need food? What if you need medical care? What if you need shelter? What if you need ________?

But your need, and my need - does NOT equal my right to it. And until we face this, our country is screwed.

This is not the only problem we face, perhaps not even the biggest. But it is a lesson that must be learned before we can even begin to try to save the tattered remains of our Republic.

Of course, as long as we have "safety" and "prosperity" (and yes, those quotations are on purpose), most people will ridicule the very notion that our Republic has died, and we are now in an Empire.

So while the country anoints our next dictator based on his attractive sidekick, I can only laugh at the whole farce, and enjoy the show. I still hope people will wake up and realize what is happening. But I don't expect it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Muse in Music...

A fan came up to me a few weeks ago and told me that she was opening a music store, catering to trained musicians. I had told her how all my sheet music was still in Las Vegas, especially my urtexts of the Beethoven Sonatas.

Well, imagine my surprise when she came in a couple of nights ago and handed me a brand-new urtext Peters edition of the complete Beethoven Sonatas, Band I.

So the last two nights have seen me plowing through Beethoven. I've been sight-reading some of it, only to discover that my sight-reading has gotten worse through eight years of neglect! Well, to be more precise, I still immediately read the music, but my fingers are very, very unused to playing the classical figures they used to be intimate with. I've also been woodshedding the Sonata No. 14, Op. 27 No. 2 in c# minor - more commonly known as the "Moonlight" Sonata.

The first movement I learned as a teen - what pianist hasn't? In college, I never cared for the second movement, but during my sophomore year I worked my ass off trying to learn the third movement. At the time, my technique was simply not up to the task.

Well, my technique is now sufficiently advanced - I don't need to worry so much about if I can play the notes - I can. Now I get to focus on how I play the notes! Which brings me to the second movement - the notes are easy, but playing them the way they're written? Wow - it requires phenomenal control.

I am falling in love with the music of Beethoven all over again, and finding it means even more to me now. It's like meeting up with your teenage puppy-love and discovering that you've both grown and are more compatible.

Strangely, this doesn't make me want to play Beethoven for a living, or classical music. This is music to touch my own heart. This is something that I will happily share, but I don't want to get frustrated when it doesn't mean to others what it means to me. I don't want to try to move others with it; I'm happy with the way it moves me. This is intimate, personal. When it comes to performance, it's all about giving the audience what they want, what they need. Here, I am my own audience.

Oh, the fire is burning again, though, and it feels good. It makes me concentrate on the first syllable of music - that siren song of the muse.

I'm going to turn the metronome on again and polish a little bit more of this now. Hope everybody is enjoying their Labor Day weekend!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Speaking of banned things...

Okay, I do understand why this one was banned. But, DAMN, it's funny! Wrong, ever-so-wrong... But funny!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Land of the Free...

As some of you know, Ron Paul outraised many of the other Republican candidates last year. He still has most of the money left, because most of the MSM wouldn't allow him to buy advertising time.

That's right - he couldn't BUY it.

That's okay with me - I simply boycott the major networks in response (not hard, since they have nothing worth watching). Let the free market decide. My dollars count more than my vote, anyway!

Well, T. Boone Pickens has a plan for reducing our consumption of foreign oil. It's not complete, or meant to solve all our ills. It's just an idea, and seems like a good one, from everything I've read on it.

Now he's having a tough time buying advertising. This ad was banned from NBC:



Why was this banned? You got me. No clue. But if you're reading this, that's just one more person flipping the bird at the MSM, in my opinion. I've got no use for them anyway.

Jester

P.S. Yes, I'm done with the website, for a little bit, at least. Should give me time to actually post here now and then!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yeah, I know.

It's been awhile. Over a week.

I've been working on something even nerdier than a blog, though. I've been building a website.

Right now I've got a front page up, and that's it. Check it out, though:

www.mountaintopmusicians.com

For every paragraph currently on the page, I'm working on a separate page. I used to be somewhat conversant in HTML, so I thought this would be a doable project.

Heh. That's way behind the times. I'm doing nearly the whole thing in CSS, which I knew nothing about before I started this project.

Think of it as writing your first novel - in another language. One you don't speak. And there's a helpful guy who will tell you if you say something wrong - but can't tell you exactly what it was, or how to fix it. That's pretty much what I'm doing.

Anyway, I think the bulk of the programming is behind me, though. We'll see!

Jester

Saturday, August 02, 2008

An interesting phone call.

I received a phone call from the Bob Barr campaign today. And I was ready for the hard sell. Whenever any organization calls you, they want money, and they're trained to go for it. Until the second you hang up on them, they are going to keep hounding you. Probably politely, but still hounding.

I remember right after Hurricane Katrina. I had lost my job, was homeless, and believed that I had lost every possession that I'd ever owned. I got a phone call from a local fire department raising money for widows (a noble cause, no doubt). I explained that I'd lost everything, and had no job. So they assured me I could still afford at least a 25$ donation.

I was raised to not be rude, but there is no helping it with phone solicitors. In fact, that's why I don't have a landline. I was ready to get rid of it years ago, until they came up with the "no-call" list. "A-ha!" I said to myself. (I said it quietly) "This should solve that problem!"

And it did for awhile. But they exempted charities, for some unknown reason. And apparently polling firms, too. So when it got to the point where I was receiving 5 to 7 phone calls a day from charities and ridiculously biased polls, I had my phone line taken out. Problem solved.

Then I joined the NRA. I donated a couple of times, small amounts. I'm not rich. I gave them my cell number, cause the online form wouldn't proceed without it. I got one phone call from them asking for money. Before the poor girl could get very far into her sales pitch, I explained that I did not like phone calls, I contribute as much as I can whenever I feel like it, and that the next phone call I got from them would result in my dropping my membership and never contributing another penny. I never got another call from them. I'm still a member.

Anyway, so I got this phone call today from the Bob Barr campaign. Yes, they wanted to know if I could donate. I explained that I already had donated what I could. If my financial situation changed, I'd donate more. That was the end of the money spiel. She asked whether I'd visited the website (obviously, I have). We talked about the campaign, the progress it had made, and different libertarian beliefs. Then she bid me goodbye, and I wished her the best of luck in raising more money. Perhaps a three to five minute call, with no pressure at any time.

What a pleasant conversation. It really made me want to donate more. Here are people who understand that I'm not a sheep in need of herding. I'm not a child in need of discipline.

In the short run, this may be one reason why they're not competing financially with the Obama/McCain fundraising juggernauts. But in the long run? I'm seeing more and more viability.

The Libertarian Party is getting its shit together, after 30-odd years of fringe politics and a reputation for lunacy. Damn, but doesn't that make this a good day?

Jester

Friday, August 01, 2008

Puma Man - the Legend Continues!

I swear, I've lost sleep just so I can watch these clips. This has to be the best MST3K ever!

Part 3 of 10:



Part 4 of 10

Well, well, well...

Looks like I'm not the only one to find certain types of arguments unfruitful. The delightful Rachel Lucas believes it takes a village to talk to a liberal. I didn't mention it in my last post, but liberals (in my experience) are definitely more likely to believe something because they want to, rather than because of the influence of any facts or logic.

Of course, as snarky as she is, she's still nicer than I was about it!

Jester

Why I don't argue online too much anymore.

Several years ago, I used to post onto other people's blogs all the time in the comments section. I can't tell you how many arguments I had online. As someone that loves a debate, you would think that I really enjoyed it. In the end, not so much.

Arguing and debating mean different things. They really shouldn't, but in practice they do. A debate looks at facts, causes, correlations. Arguments are about slander, denigration, and attitude.

What was so frustrating about it is that you can completely prove a person wrong. You can link to fact after fact, study after study. You can decimate their entire logic from start to finish. And then they'll call you an idiot and crow about how they totally pwned you.

The fact is, most people who believe stupid things aren't capable of realizing how stupid their beliefs are.

My beliefs have been going nearly constant revision for my entire life. I discover new things every day that change what I hold to be true. There are few things I enjoy more than finding something new, or even that I was wrong about something so that I have to shift my paradigms again. That's what I consider to be the basis of intellectual growth, and I hope the process never ceases.

Most people (and yes, I do blame our school system for this, along with the MSM, our government, and bad parenting) are taught that learning is where "facts" are forcefully shoved into your brain, to be retrieved only for tests designed for some sort of advancement. As a result, they never really learn how to think - so what they think is irrelevant, stagnant, and incapable of change and growth.

It has been very, very rare that I've found somebody that can defend what they believe with logic, or historical or scientific evidence. The most amusing thing is that I very rarely issue a challenge to anybody's beliefs. Usually, I am challenged for mine. When I am told I am wrong, I clearly articulate my beliefs and the reasons for them, and wait for the challenging party to tell me where I am in error.

Yeah, it doesn't work out too well.

Interestingly enough, from the practice of defending my beliefs I have gained a reputation as being "argumentative," "quarrelsome," "belligerent," and "testy." While it's possible I am all of the above, it's amusing to have gained that reputation simply by defending my beliefs.

One person that actually debated with me online on intellectual terms was a columnist who goes by Vox Day. It was quite possibly the best argument I have ever had, and though we pretty much came to a standstill (from my perspective), in the two years or so that I have passed since then, I have come to be closer to his standpoint than my original one.

I instantly became a huge fan of his column and blog. Not because I agree with it, necessarily, but because he has logical reasons for his beliefs. He generally has history, science, and logic on his side.

And yet, though he continually trounces politically correct mantra after mantra, if you read the people he debates, every one of them thinks they won! The amazing thing is that not once have I read anyone say "You know what? You were right. I was wrong. Good job." Not once have I read anybody say "Excellent point, Vox. I may have to re-think some things."

I hate to claim any solidarity with him, because my online output is probably less than .1% of his, and he actively engages in online debates on a daily basis, where I have lost interest. But reading his posts and the reactions to them definitely makes me more sure that it wasn't an inability to articulate truth on my part.

Truth is, most people aren't looking for the truth. They're not looking for what is right. They're not looking to change what they think and believe for the sake of self-improvement.

No, most people are looking for somebody who will agree with them. And if they do, they all pat each other on the back with how smart they are. And if they don't, well, the other people are just idiots.

Sometimes I'm an idiot myself. I'm always looking to find out where, so I can stop being one. If I am, I really hope you tell me. But if you tell me I'm wrong, you'd better have logic and/or facts on your side.

Otherwise, you're just not worth my time.
Jester

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Puma Man!

As anybody reading this who actually knows me personally is already aware of, I'm a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Me and my brother used to watch that show every chance we got.

Of all their shows, my absolute favorite was Puma Man. I've tried for years to find it on DVD (or even VHS!) so I could buy it. No matter the price, it was worth it. Unfortunately, it's never been offered for sale.

All Hail the Glorious YouTube! I have discovered the sacred Puma Man!

Here are the first two sections.


I know, you're not impressed yet. Keep watching.



That shit's funny. I don't care who you are.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ahoy!

Off to Ohio to visit wit my brudda!

I'll blog on Wednesday or Thursday!

Jester

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Go ahead, waste your vote!

I mean it, go ahead and waste your vote. Chances are that if you vote, you're about to completely throw it away.

Now, I don't mean this in my usual sense of "do the same thing over and over again and hope for a different result this time," or wondering why you think either major party is going to have candidates that do a bit of what they promise.

No, I mean this in a more pragmatic sense. Most of you live in states that are heavily favored one way or the other. Very few people (comparatively speaking) live in states that are "swing states," or ones where the public is not going to vote for one candidate by wide margins, due to the party bias of the majority there.

What does this mean to you? Say you live in Texas, and the year is 2000. The state is going to vote for George Bush. He will win the state, and therefore win the Electoral College votes for that state. End of story. If you vote for George Bush, you are throwing away your vote (unless you support him so overwhelmingly that you want that margin to be even higher). If you vote for Al Gore, you are throwing away your vote (unless you support him so overwhelmingly you just want that margin to be slimmer). But if you are like the majority of people, voting what you consider "the lesser of two evils" just to avoid the candidate you think is going to ruin the country... You're just throwing your vote away.

However, if you vote for a different party, you are making a protest. You are using your vote to say "I will not play this game so long as it remains rigged." You are saying "I will not support a false dichotomy which gives me no real choice." And if enough people realize this, then two things are likely to happen.

1) A lot more states will become "swing states," with voters actually getting more power
and
2) As third parties get higher percentages of the vote, the two major parties might be forced to actually listen to their constituents, as they realize their monopoly on power is slipping.

Two other possibilities that are less likely, but still entertaining,
1) People wake up to the idiocy unworkable nature of the two-party system, and we get a multi-party system that can actually restrain the rampant acceleration of government power
or
2) The government admits that everything is scripted, and just like professional wrestling, everybody enjoys the show a lot more when nobody is pretending it's real.

Anyway, due to the electoral college, you're most likely going to waste your vote. So think about that, before you try to convince me I'm wasting mine!

Jester

Thursday, July 24, 2008

If not now, when?

Many of you are not libertarians.

Many of you are not political.

Many of you don't believe that we're headed for a crisis.

Many of you are going to vote for Obama or McCain, because anything else is a "wasted vote."

Still, watch this video. Even if you don't support Bob Barr, think about what this is really saying.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Neil Patrick Harris, you are a god.

I've been told I look like a million different people. Well, not a million. But dozens. I almost never see the resemblance.

However, the two most common I get compared to are Topher Grace and Neil Patrick Harris. I see it a little bit with Topher, but I don't see it at all with Neil. Nevertheless, I hear it a whole lot.

And that really worried me a few years ago when he came out of the closet. Those of you who've known me my adult life know that when I lived in Texas, I was assumed to be gay on a daily basis. I heard a million reasons (from an imaginary lisp to the fact that I didn't drive a truck), but regardless, it was annoying. Actually, it started out puzzling, then became annoying. And finally got to be infuriating. I moved away from Texas, and the assumptions immediately ceased. I moved back, and they began again. Short of getting married, I don't see myself moving back to Texas for that very reason. Plus, it's approximately 14 degrees hotter than hell there.

So when I'm hearing that I resemble a man that actually IS gay, that scared me a bit. All I knew him as was Doogie Howser. And I so do not want to be thought of as a gay Doogie.

But that was before Barney. Damn. Barney kicketh some ass. That was before Harold and Kumar. That was before Old Spice.

Wait, I think we need a visual here...



And just when I thought he couldn't be any cooler... Then came Dr. Horrible.



Yes, ladies and gentleman. This is a bad-ass mother. So, even though I still don't see it, I'm not having any issues with the comparison.

Neil Patrick Harris, you are a god.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Handout for Statists: by Stefan Molyneux

Note: this is not by me, it's by Stefan Molyneux. But upon reading it, I felt it should be posted as often as possible, as many sites as possible.

A Handout for Statists


"In the interests of efficiency, I have decided to distill every argument I have ever had with your average statist, so that I can hand it out to those who argue that government is voluntary, if I don’t like it I can leave, taxation is not violence, etc.

I thought this might also be of use to you, because life is short.

Me: Tell me, do you think that violence is wrong?

Statist: Yes, violence is wrong – except in self-defense.

Me: Agreed, except in self-defense. So tell me, how do you think that problems should be solved, if we should not use violence?

Statist: Well, I think that people should become more active in government, and that governments should do ABC, X, Y and Z.

Me: But how do you reconcile your objection to violence with your support of government programs, since government programs are paid for through taxation, which is coercive?

Statist: Huh? What are you talking about? Taxation is not coercive.

Me: Taxation is coercive, since if you do not pay your taxes, you are kidnapped at gunpoint and thrown in jail – where if you try to escape, you are shot.

Statist: But this is a democracy, where we choose our own governments.

Me: Being offered a choice between two violent alternatives is not the same as being free to choose. If a store owner gets to choose which Mafia gang he pays “protection” money to, can it be really argued that he is making a “free” choice? If a woman can choose between two potential husbands – but will be forced to marry one of them – can she said to be really “choosing” marriage? People can only freely choose governments, if they have the choice not to choose governments.

Statist: Well there is a “social contract,” that binds people to their governments.

Me: There is no such thing as a “social contract.” Unless they have been granted power of attorney, people cannot justly sign contracts on behalf of others. If one man has the power to unilaterally impose his will on another and call it a “contract,” then logically a man can steal from a woman and call it “charity.”

Statist: But I accept the social contract – and so do you if you drive on the roads.

Me: First of all, your choice to honour a contract does not give you the right to force me to honour it. You can choose to buy a house, but you cannot justly force me to pay for it. If you forge my signature, I am not bound to honour the contract – and I have never agreed to a “social contract” of any kind. Secondly, it is true that I use government services, but that is irrelevant to the central moral question of coercion. If a slave accepts a meal from his master, is he condoning slavery?

Statist: I suppose not. But still, you implicitly accept the social contract by continuing to live in a country, as Socrates argued.

Me: Can I justly create a “social contract” that allows me to rob anyone who lives in my neighborhood – and say that if people continue to live in “my” neighborhood, they are expressly consenting to my new social contract?

Statist: Well, no, but we are talking about governments, not individuals . . . .

Me: Is the government not composed of individuals? Is “the government” not just a label for a group of individuals who claim the moral right to initiate force against others – a right they define as evil for those they use violence against? If you take away all the individuals who compose “the government,” do you still have a government?

Statist: I suppose not. But that is beside the point – you say that taxation is coercive, but I have paid taxes my entire life, and I have never had a gun pointed at my head.

Me: Sure, and a prisoner is not shot if he does not try to escape. If a slave conforms to his master’s wishes because of the threat of violence, the situation is utterly immoral. Does the Mafia have to actually burn your shop down for the threat to be violent?

Statist: No – however, I do not accept the premise that the government uses force to extract taxation from citizens.

Me: All right - is there anything that the government does that you disagree with? Do you agree, for instance, with the invasion of Iraq ? [Keep asking until you find some program the statist finds abhorrent.]

Statist: Now, I think that the invasion of Iraq was morally wrong.

Me: Why?

Statist: Because Iraq had done nothing to threaten the US .

Me: Right, so it is an initiation of force, not self-defense. Now – you do realize that the war in Iraq is only possible because you pay your taxes.

Statist: To some degree, of course.

Me: If the war in Iraq is morally wrong, but it is only possible because you pay your taxes – and your taxes are not extracted from you through force – then you are voluntarily funding and enabling that which you call evil. Can you explain that to me?

Statist: I pay my taxes because I’m a citizen of this country. If I disagree with the war, then I should run for office and try to stop it.

Me: All right, if you were against child abuse, would you voluntarily fund a group dedicated to abusing children?

Statist: Of course not!

Me: And if you did claim to be against child abuse, and you voluntarily funded a group dedicated to abusing children, and I said that you should stop doing that, and you replied that you would not – but that if someone did oppose this abusive group, they should try to infiltrate this group, take control of it, and somehow stop it from abusing children, would that make any sense at all?

Statist: I guess not.

Me: If you were against the war in Iraq , but volunteered for it – and agreed to fight without a salary, and spent your own money to cover all your expenses, do you understand that your position would be utterly incomprehensible? You would claim to be against something – and then expend enormous amounts of time, effort, money and resources supporting it?

Statist: Yes, that would make little sense.

Me: Thus do you see that your position that the war in Iraq is a moral evil, but that you are voluntarily funding it through your taxes, makes no sense at all? If the war in Iraq is a moral evil, but is only enabled through your voluntary funding, then continuing to fund it is to openly admit that it is not a moral evil. If you are forced to fund the war in Iraq , you can maintain that it is a moral evil, because it is the initiation of the use of force. However, the taxation that is also the initiation of the use of force against you must also be a moral evil, because you are forced to fund the initiation of force against others. Thus either taxation is coercion, or you are the worst form of moral hypocrite, by voluntarily supporting that which you call evil. Does that make sense?

Statist: I can certainly see that position.

Me: Can you find any logical flaws in my position?

Statist: No, but I still think that you are wrong.

Me: Well, I’m certainly glad that you are reading this article, rather than debating me directly, because as I said at the beginning, life is far too short to waste time arguing with fools."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog

If like me, you are a fan of all things Joss Whedon, you have to check out his latest effort,

Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog

As with all things Joss, it

a) is unbelievably witty and funny
b) is really freaking hard to describe,
and
c) Has a terrible, terrible name. Joss is the master of all things except for naming his endeavors.

If you want to know the reasons behind it, you can read about it here:

To give you an idea of Joss's writing style, here's an excerpt from his "master plan" letter:

Dear Friends,

At last the time has come to reveal to you our Master Plan. BEWARE! Those with weak hearts should log off lest they be terrified by the twisted genius of our schemes! Also pregnant women and the elderly should consider reading only certain sentences. Do not mix with other blogs. Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this blog. You must be this tall to read. ‘Kay?

Damn, but I wish Joss wrote more.

P.S. For those doubting my take on his ability to name things, let's look at his track record:

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - a name that kept uncounted hordes of people away from the series (including me for many years)
"Angel" - which had nothing to do with angels, and was not related in any way to "Touched by an Angel"
"Firefly" - which was neither an Animal Planet special, nor a hippie folk-music group
"Serenity" - which had nothing to do with being serene, but was actually an action/sci-fi movie.
"Dollhouse" - which is not the latest version of "America's Next Top Model"

All of these show names make sense AFTER you watch the shows... But names are supposed to draw people in, and I'm thinking these don't work so much for that.

Well, time for me to get back to working on music. Later!

Okay, I'm a nerd...

As you know, I LOVE the blog "Stuff White People Like."

Interestingly enough, though, according to that blog, I'm not white. I just know a lot of white people. I even took their Facebook test. 0% white.

Of course, the blog isn't about all white people. It's about upper-class white liberals. I'm neither upper-class, nor liberal.

I was going to write a blog about how I'm a white NERD, which is a different matter entirely... As is the beauty of the internet, somebody already came up with this concept.

I give you David Colborne's "Stuff Nerds Like"

#1: Monty Python
#2: Linux
#3: Role Playing (with bonus footage of actual nerds displaying incredible nerdity in the wild!)
#4: Free Stuff
#5: Anime
#6: Sci-Fi

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I feel empowered

I feel empowered to truly hate the term "empowered."

Now, it seems like a great concept. We should empower women. Minorities. The poor. We hear the term over and over again. It is a core concept of virtually every self-help book out there these days.

And they usually start in a solid place; you must first believe in yourself. This is very true. And while it doesn't really hold with most of the groups I've heard, I would say it does apply to most women I know. Most of my female friends don't really believe in themselves, except for short periods of time right after they've read the latest self-help book.

I think this is because these same philosophies that claim to be "empowering" do nothing of the kind. Yes, you do start by believing in yourself, in your ability to become the person you want to be, in your ability to take control of yourself, your circumstances, your life. But that is only the first step, and if not followed by concrete results, it is a meaningless step.

What people have been sold on as "empowerment" is actually a sense of self-entitlement. I am worthy of good things, therefore they should come to me. I am worthy of trust, so it should be given to me. I am worthy of happiness, so it should be mine. I am worthy of respect, so it should be given to me. I am worthy of the same wealth and power as anybody else, so it should be given to me.

Bullshit.

True empowerment comes first from the realization that there are opportunities out there, and secondly from the self-worth that comes from realizing the potential of those opportunities. Yes, you are worthy of good things, so go out there and earn them! You are worthy of trust, so go earn that trust - it takes effort, it takes time, and it takes diligence.

Nobody deserves to have anything GIVEN to them. What you deserve is the opportunity to go EARN it.

Are people given things undeservedly? Of course. That doesn't mean you deserve the same gifts.

This is one of the inherent problems with socialism and communism. It ends up leading to a sense of deserving something for nothing, or for a disproportionate reward system. It kills me when I hear politicians saying that anybody who works 40 hours a week deserves a substantial wage. Really? What if I work 40 hours a week holding a door open? Or putting popcorn in bags? Do I deserve a substantial wage, just like somebody who has spent years learning a craft or trade? Do I deserve a substantial wage, just like somebody who puts sweat and effort and back-breaking labor into what they do? According to the politicians, I do. And that's supposedly "empowering."

What happens is that life smacks you down for believing that shit. So then you feel less confident in yourself than you did before. You start feeling cheated. You start blaming others for your failures. It's the people stabbing you in the back, or the system keeping you down.

Self-entitlement and self-empowerment are mutually exclusive. If you want to be empowered, make a change. Take charge. When you succeed, feel the glow of having done it, instead of just wishing or dreaming. When you fail, take responsibility. Then fix it, and feel the empowerment that comes from getting it right. From succeeding. From doing, not just wishing.

I hear all the time about positive thinking creating an aura of positive energy that does something or other... If you read this regularly, you know I don't really believe in an energy that can't be measured, quantified, or detected. Positive thinking achieves results only when it leads to positive actions! With that said, I'm a huge believer in positive thinking, because that's where actions start. But all the thoughts in the world mean nothing without action.

As my parents' generation used to say "wish in one hand, crap in the other - see which one fills up first."

As I said before, most of the women I know really need to be empowered. They really need to learn how to believe in themselves. But it has to come from doing, it cannot come from a sense of self-entitlement, or it will lead to bitterness and self-defeat. They are being fed a load of bullshit by society, and it makes me sad.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I guess I'm a social retard!

You know, discrimination of all types abound. No doubt about it. Some are obvious; race, gender, class, etc. Some are extreme, others are less so.

One that surprised me, one that I never would've imagined, one that's become more and more apparent to me every day - is the one against homeschooling!

When I was a kid, people used to assume that homeschooled kids were stupid, that they weren't getting as good an education. It was common knowledge that parents could not possibly teach their children as well as trained professionals.

Well, that's been proved so far wrong that almost nobody bothers to assert that anymore. Homeschooled kids so routinely beat public school kids in every conceivable test that most public schools do their best to avoid all academic comparison. By every measure, homeschooling leads to far superior academic prowess.

Does this mean that people admit that homeschooling is better? Hardly. Having lost the battle when it comes to the very purpose of school (academic achievement), the default answer is that homeschooled kids have no social skills. Why? Because they weren't herded together in groups of thirty people of the exact same age, and droned at by underpaid and often underskilled teachers in a highly controlled beaureaucratic environment. This is obviously the best way to teach children the necessary skill for socializing in all other settings, as it so closely resembles... Um... Honestly? Nothing that I'm aware of.

When I was in New Orleans, everybody I knew there believed completely and totally in Astrology. I started asking people to guess my sign, and kept close track of the result (both strangers and people that knew me well). You would think that 1/12th of them would've guessed correctly. Nope - not a single one got it right. However, once I told them my sign, without exception they all said it was obvious, because it fit me so well. (You can guess how well this affirmed my belief in the system... *bullshit!*)

In the same way, I've never in my adult life had anyone guess that I was homeschooled. In fact, the vast majority of people express disbelief when I tell them that. Afterwards, though - they all start searching for any sign of social awkwardness, blunder, or faux pas. And when they see it, they immediately blame it on my homeschooling. It is clear that had I simply gone to public school, I would never make a single mistake. Ever.

I see them doing the exact same thing to other homeschooled people. But when it comes to the social blunders of publicly schooled individuals, all sorts of other reasons are given. "He's just a nerd." "She's immature." "He's kinda a jerk that way."

I've even had people claim they can tell a pattern in the "homeschooled social skills set" that points them out. Needless to say, I've never seen a successful demonstration of this so-called pattern.

You know what? I screw up in public a lot. I make stupid decisions, say things I probably shouldn't, make enemies where I don't mean to. It's not because I'm homeschooled. It's because I'm human. And probably a good bit because I'm a nerd with no interest in fitting in.

I know a lot of people with great social skills that went to public school. I know more that have little to none.

Reality check - very few people learn their social skills in school, whether it be home, public, or private. We learn them from our friends outside of class. We learn them from our parents, from our siblings. We learn them at summer camps, or at jobs. I learned mine first at home, then at church, at karate class, on the shooting range, in Boy Scouts, at the movie theater, out on dates. Did I screw up a lot when I was a teenager? Hell yeah. I'd like to find one person who can honestly say they didn't!

But saying that homeschooled kids can't socialize is the last bastion of hope remaining for those who cling to the public school model. People - wake up and admit the emperor has no clothes.

The public school model is a very recent phenomenon in human history. It's never been tried this way before. It will probably not be tried again for a long, long time. It is a complete and utter failure by every rational standard. Spending more money won't fix it. Hiring more specialists won't fix it. Pretending it's working won't fix it. It was an experiment - and it FAILED. We are close to dead last in every category when compared to any other "modern" nation. And when I talk to foreigners, they usually don't rave about American social skills, either.

So if you want to say that homeschoolers can't socialize, just keep clinging to that belief. The emperor looks mighty fine in that outfit, huh? There are homeschoolers that can't, no doubt about it. Just like there are public school kids that can't, and probably for the exact same reasons.

Homeschooling is not the only option, of course. And public education is quite doable, and a worthy endeavour. But not with the current system.

I leave you with a quote by C. S. Lewis

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

Jester

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's been awhile...

It's hard to believe from the paucity of comments, but people do actually read this blog. I know, because I've been facing a lot of grief about not updating.

A lot has been going on that I'd like to talk about soon, from the Supreme Court decision on guns, to boobies, from the upcoming economic apocalypse, to boobies, from Bob Barr and Ron Paul, to boobies...

Now that I think about it, I don't really like talking about boobies. Just looking at them. And playing with them.

Regardless, I've been a bit busy, what with multiple houseguests, a trip to Boston, oh - and my job!

Anyway, I'll be definitely doing a Fourth of July post on Friday. I'm going to try to tone down a little of the focus on politics. It's hard not to obsess on it, when you feel like a roman watching your empire collapse. Still, there's a lot more to talk about than just politics. But the Fourth of July post will be political in nature, for obvious reasons.

Okay, I'll post more later. It's time to eat.

Jess

Friday, June 13, 2008

And now, the end is near...

Ron Paul is out. But to be honest, I'm not disappointed. He did far more than I ever thought he could. Even though he was shut out by MSM in so many ways, he managed to get his message out. And now his book Revolution: A Manifesto is selling out everywhere - not just for the first few days it was published...

I still think it's too late for this country. I still think we're far past the point of no return, and yes, I'm cynical. But the ideas of Liberty and Freedom (true freedom, not what we're offered in this nation) are perhaps gaining traction.

Assuming that all the votes cast for him were counted (and that's not something I would ever take for granted), he got 1.2 million votes. That's 1.2 million people willing to quit following the same path. 1.2 million people willing to try change.

Yes, I know there's another candidate promising change. I do not doubt for a second the sincerity or passion of Obama supporters. In a way, I understand it; his speeches are quite masterful. But a conversation with an Obama fan usually runs like this:

OF: How can you not like Obama? He supports change, and gives us hope!
Me: Awesome! What kind of change?
OF: He'll do things differently!
Me: Yes, that would be the definition of change.
OF: He's accomplished so much, and we can believe in him!
Me: What has he accomplished?
OF: He offers hope! Hope, change, hopechange!

Very few Obama supporters seem to realize that he is a Socialist, pure and simple. His rhetoric is pure socialist, his philosophies are pure socialist, and his voting record (what little there is) is socialist. If you're a socialist, fine. But if not, you really ought to know this. Personally, I don't think I'm entitled to the fruits of anybody else's labors, and I sure as hell don't think they're entitled to mine. But too bad, I live in a socialist country.

And yet, Ron Paul really got a lot of people thinking. His message of true Freedom, of true Liberty - it struck a chord in many, many people who realize that something's not right with what we've been told. People who are starting to see - our government is not what it claims to be.

What's next? I'm not sure where he's headed, other than continuing in Congress. But I am so grateful for what he did. It has given me a little hope for the future, that when this present nation crumbles, we can rebuild something better from the ruins. And the sooner we move from our current direction, the less painful that collapse is going to be.

So I'm throwing all my support behind Bob Barr. He's not perfect, of course. But of the candidates out there, he's the only one I could vote for and not feel guilty for hastening the demise of what's left of the USA. And Ron Paul paved the way for Bob Barr to make a real difference this campaign, something I never thought the Libertarian Party could ever do. Ron Paul pretty much converted Glenn Beck from being an absolute opponent to a fan, and then Glenn Beck gave Bob Barr a full hour on his show! Bob Barr appeared on the Colbert Report. He's been on CNN, and MSNBC.

For the first time in my lifetime, the Libertarian Party is not being summarily dismissed. Ron Paul's campaign was at the least a wake-up call to the PTB that not everybody is happy with a pat on the head and a hand-out as they remove the last vestiges of personal liberty. Bob Barr might actually get a significant percentage of the vote.

As I said before, I think it's too late. But boy, would I LOVE to be proved wrong!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Group Sex

Or maybe just the effect of gender upon groups.

I'm just an observer of human nature, but I think if you want to go out in public as a group, it's best to do it with some mixture of both men and women.

If you get a bunch of men together, not only does their IQ drop, but their maturity level drops further and further, until you end up with a bunch of 5th graders who are legally able to drink. Something's going to wind up broken, the humor is going to be tasteless and tactless, and nobody will want to explain any of the goings-on to the uninitiated.

If you get a bunch of women in a group, however... It's not that their IQ goes down, but they do get more and more bitchy, catty, cheap, and bossy. Ask anybody who relies on tips how they feel when they see a bachelorette party arrive. In my case, I know that at least one girl is going to be pissed that I don't play exclusively her songs (for free) and ignore the rest of the crowd - after all, her friend is getting married! Don't I understand that? Maybe if she just screams a little louder in my ear, I'll get the point.

Men I think understand that we're not fit for public viewing when we're like this. Throughout history, men have endeavoured to create "men only" get-togethers so we can act like idiots and not know about it the next day. Women have always tried to crash these things, somehow thinking they were missing out on something. Well, yes, they were. But if they actually knew how it would be, they'd know they weren't missing out on anything they'd actually WANT to attend!

I think women also have longer memories for embarassment than men. I know if I want a recollection of every social faux pas I've ever made, just ask any girl who was there. There are a few incidents that stand out with the men, of course, but men tend to forget. Women file it away as ammo for the sake of future arguments (and the difference between men and women arguing is DEFINITELY a post for later!).

So men tend to prefer to be alone when they congregate in groups. And it's a very, very good thing.

For whatever reason, though, women seem to prefer to go out in public when they've got a group together. And afterwards, they acknowledge that every girl there was bitchy, and obnoxious... But not herself, no. She was completely justified in belittling the man buying her drinks, right before asking him to buy her another. She was completely justified in not tipping the waiter anything; the service just wasn't as good. But her friends? They were all bitches, and she was embarassed by them.

Mixed groups seem to be the best, if you're going out in public. Yes, that one couple is going to be fighting and snipping to an awkward degree. And yes, one couple is going to be wayyyyy too PDA. But for the most part, it keeps the men from losing all emotional maturity, and the women from displaying the PMS Avenger each of them keeps inside.

Now, don't get me wrong - I usually have a lot of fun when I get together with the guys. I just don't think anybody else needs to be exposed to something that tacky and offensive. Which is pretty much the reason I wear shirts in public, too. And I imagine that women have a lot of fun in groups (though they usually end up bitching to me about it the next day). But I think there should be certain "safe zones" for women to do it. Any viewing of "Sex and the City" qualifies. Any living room where a TV is playing "The View" also works. These are almost guaranteed to be man-free zones (unless a man has been dragged there by a woman insisting he'll love it, and somehow he forgot where he left his testicles and agreed to try it). But out in public? Only if they all sign an agreement saying that they will fully admit to any and all bitchiness perpetrated while under the influence of other women. And apologize to all parties involved. Should there be denial, video evidence can easily be provided these days!

And women - if guys do want to get together with just other guys - don't sweat it, and don't crash it. Some things are just better left unseen, unwitnessed, so you can remain undisgusted. Trust me; we know you won't understand why we'd find _________ fun and/or funny. That's why we want to have just guys there.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The State of the Union... Or at least, Jess

My Fellow Americans:

You suck.

I say this not merely because of your adherence to participating in our two-party masquerade, or even for you willingness to watch Reality TV. No, I say it for a different reason; it's a fun way to start a blog.

Moving on...

I went to Texas for my Birthday. Had an absolutely awesome time. Didn't get to see everyone I wanted to, and those I did see I didn't get to spend enough time with. Still, there was food, and alcohol, and singing, and hugging, and alcohol. Good times.

Every year except last year, I've made two State of the Union addresses, one on my birthday, and one at New Year's. This year, doing one poses a bit of a challenge.

I didn't turn an exceptional number this year. I didn't move. I didn't embark upon a new career. I'm not in a relationship (no surprise there, right?). So what was this year about?

I'm old. I really am. I think of myself as a young man, just now finding his way in life. I feel barely into adulthood. But I'm in my thirties now. When I was a kid, that was old. When I was a teenager, that was old. When I was in my twenties, that was old. I find myself believing that age is only a state of mind. Really, who thinks that when they're not old? (Other than chicks who want to date old guys - which, for the record, I approve of, now that I'm old!)

But this has been an extraordinarily good year. Nothing momentous happened, either good or bad. And that has allowed me to accomplish more in terms of small steps in the right direction. A few small examples:

1) I've been going to the gym almost daily for over a year. I am now the biggest and most muscular I've ever been - which means that I could easily win a fight with a small child. Well, if it's a girl. And I have the element of surprise. Still, more manly than ever before!

2) I've been paying off my college debts. My original plan was to pay those off within the first two years of graduating. Well, eight years later, I'm now planning on paying them off within the first thirty years of graduating. Financial responsibility - that's what I'm all about!

3) I've gone back to work on my long, long delayed studio CDs. After the fiasco that was "Right Out of the Blue," I went back to work on a Rock and a Country CD. Then I moved to New Orleans. Then I moved to Las Vegas. Then I moved to Houston. Then I lived in a van, down by the river. But now I've gone back to working on them. In fact, I really should be working on them right now, instead of blogging. Crap.

But really, what was this year about?

I visited my grandmother's grave while I was in Texas. I didn't go there to communicate with her; I'm not really sure I believe in the concept of a "soul," but if there is one, it's sure not in the ground. But I did want a moment to remember her - she was one of my biggest supporters when it came to my decision to be a musician. She was so proud of every step I took. In a way, I was almost glad she didn't see when I was floundering, trying to find my way. But I do wish she could see me now.

I know who I am now, more than I ever have. I know what I want to do, and I'm doing it. I know who I want to be, and I'm working on being that person. I guess maybe in that way I am old, because I'm not searching for who to be, what to do, how to do it... I know now. And I'm heading there.

Will there be setbacks? I'm sure. Will there be surprises? I hope so. Will life be at all like I expect? Highly doubtful. Will I make mistakes, both small and gargantuan? Of course. But I know that I'm heading in the right direction.

What was this year about? Being happy. I'm not content, and hope to never be. But I am happy.