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