Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ron Paul's Foreign Policy

Something I've been hearing from a lot of Republicans when talking about Ron Paul lately is how he would be a great candidate if it were not for his foreign policy.  I admit that I've had some doubts about his "extreme isolationism," but the more I think about it, the more I realize that he's probably right on a lot of points.

Ron Paul has said that he would not invade a country to stop human rights violations.  That seemed a bit fucked up to me at first, because I truly believe that if ever there was a good cause for a war, it would be to stop the opression of a people.

But then you have to ask yourself a couple of questions.  Why do we stop some dictators from brutalizing their people and not others?  We haven't lifted a finger to stop the horrors in Darfur.  Gaddhafi was likely every bit as twisted and maniacal as Saddam Hussein, yet he met his demise at the hands of his own people, not the United States of America.  So who gets our help and who doesn't?  And why?  I think this creates the unintended consequence of making America seem as though it only helps a people if it's in our best interest.

So, as Dr. Paul has articulated, our police actions create sentiments of contempt towards America, the same contempt that has led to the rise of anti-U.S. terrorist cells.  I'm not saying that 9/11 was our fault, as if the people who perpetrated it are blameless, but we have to remember that everything we do on the world stage will have some sort of negative consequence in the future.

Some people think that the U.S. should intervene anytime that a people are being wiped out by their government.  I think the sentiment is okay, but we have to look at the reality of the situation.  As Dr. Paul has said, we simply don't have the resources or the manpower to be the world police.  How badly has Iraq and Afghanistan bankrupted this country?  How wide has the deficit grown, and how deep has the national debt sunk?  We know that the cost of these two wars has been high, not so much in human life on our part--we've suffered a fraction of the casualties that used to be associated with war--but we've run up quite a tab.

Not only is it financially unfeasable, we have to ask ourselves if we even have the authority to be the world police.  When does a sovereign nation stop being a sovereign nation, and why do we get to decide that?  Hypothetical nay-sayer might say that "well the community of nations, the UN decides when a madman must be stopped," but we all know that's not true.  Iraq, although no unilateral as some fools tried to paint it, was invaded primarily by the U.S. against the wishes of the UNSC.  Ultimately, we didn't give a shit what the community of nations thought.

Doesn't that seem a bit dangerous?  We've arrived at the point where we know how powerful we are.  We know that there is no country on this planet that would ever legitimately stand up against our military might, and that fact coupled with our economic importance to the world has made us extremely bold.  I don't think this is a good thing.

Now I'm no idealist.  I realize that even if we had nothing to do with world politics, there would still be people that hate us.  I understand that even if we tried to remove ourselves from world politics that it'd likely be an effort in vain.  But I think we seriously need to look at foreign policy from the eyes of other nations.  Ron Paul is right that our actions have hurt ourselves and our allies, so it would be prudent to consider taking a new approach to how we interact with the community of nations.

Isolationism might not be the answer and is probably not even viable, but Dr. Paul represents a more prudent course in foreign policy, one that a war-weary nation would do well to consider.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quick answer to question . . .

In looking at what search terms people have used to stumble upon Christian Fearing God-Man, I cam accross one that was not a single word or concept, but rather a question.

The question was "are mullets lame?"

Well . . .

In case you are all wondering what my answer to that is, the answer is YES.  Mullets are completely lame.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Fucking Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas to all!  Enjoy the holiday!

And of course . . .

Seriously though, I don't have a thing for blondes . . .

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inspired by Harrison: My Spiritual Evolution

Harrison has a great article over at Capitol Commentary today about how Obama zealots are similar to Jesus zealots.  I encourage everyone to read it, as it inspired me to explicate how I've evolved over the years in my beliefs on spirituality.  Some of this might rehash some things I've already covered, but I think there will be enough new content to keep you interested, or at least get you thinking.

As my profile thingy says, I grew up Catholic.  All 12 years of my school, 16 if you count the fact that I went to a Catholic university, were spent in Catholic school.  I went to St. Anthony's for grades 1-8, and St. Francis De Sales for high school (for those of you who are at all familiar with the North End of Columbus).  At St. Anthony's, they made all of us go to mass once a week, usually on Fridays if my memory serves me correctly.

As compliant as I can be, I've got a bit of a defiant streak in me, so when I feel something is pointless or ridiculous, I'm apt to voice my opinion on how dumb I think it is.  In any religion, the person is told what to do: how to live their lives, how to worship, what is right and wrong.

Why am I told that I have to go to church?  I always complained when my mother made us all go to church on Sundays, because she knew we had already gone once on Friday.  "You're supposed to go to church on Sunday," she told me.  That wasn't an adequate explanation for me.

My dad's side of my family are Protestant, Baptists many of them.  When I was in 7th grade they started taking me to their church, Genoa Baptist.  Needless to say, it was markedly different from what I was used to.  The structure that I had grown up with simply did not exist.  The big thing that stood out in my mind was that the people there didn't seem like mindless drones going through the sitting and kneeling motions.  They actually, truly believed in God, and they felt God's presence.  For them, life wasn't about service or being penitent for one's flawed human nature, but rather loving God and accepting Jesus as their savior.

I admit that it put me through a spiritual whirl.  I questioned my faith in the Catholic church, and I even considered converting at one point.  There was so much about Catholicism that seem inherently flawed to me.  I ended up not converting, because I felt a strong sense of loyalty to my mom and the tradition under which she had raised me.

Fast-forward to the near present day, it was not long ago that I realized why I had such a crisis of faith.  I realize now that the teachers who were supposed to teach us about the Catholic faith at St. Anthony's were not theologians, and were probably not qualified to teach us about the intellectual nature of Catholicism.  It wasn't until college that I discovered the idea of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

It's important that I did, because it was just the other day that I came to quite a big conclusion: I never felt God's presence, I don't feel God's presence now, and I highly doubt that I will feel it anytime in the future.  That's why I couldn't convert, because even then I felt like I was missing something.  Lots of people feel that way, that there's something missing in their life, and then they find religion and are suddenly fulfilled.  That's not the case with me.

I don't pray.  I don't "commune" with God.  I don't even believe that God's presence is a real thing, because an ethereal being cannot possibly be felt or perceived by our crude senses.  I often doubt whether or not God exists.  And this is why the Catholic faith is good for me, because I don't feel that God exists.  I feel nothing.  I believe God exists, because I've reasoned that he probably does. 

I think that's a much stronger faith, because it's not dependent on lies or kidding myself.  Feelings change easily, from day-to-day, and I'll never have to fear the day that I don't "feel" God exists, because it's already here.  I think there are many more people who don't feel that God exists, but I think few are willing to admit it.  They just put it deep down inside, and lie to themselves and everyone else.  I'm not comfortable with lying to myself.

Faith should not be a feeling.  It should be a decision.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Star Wars The Old Republic: My Life is Over

I won't neglect my children or anything, but Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to take up a lot of my free time.  As a friend of mine described it, "it's twice as awesome as World of Warcraft was at its height."  I'm inclined to agree.

I played WoW for a little bit, and although it was fun to play with friends, it wasn't fun playing alone.  With The Old Republic, there's a robust single-player aspect to it which I like.  What makes that so rewarding is the fact that the game actually focuses on story-telling, and letting your character actively take part in what's going on.

Dialogue helps to achieve that.  Bioware seemlessly integrated its conversation system--made popular by titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age--into a multiplayer experience.  Your friends can actually take part in dialogue with the quest givers, and together you can decide the outcome of a quest.  This actually makes the multiplayer aspect of the game more fulfilling than WoW, because instead of just completing the same quests along side your friends, you actually complete the quest together.  Amazing.

Customization is also a major component that sets SW:TOR apart from WoW.  Until recently, everyone in WoW looked the same, because everyone had to get to the same tier of endgame gear.  Not the case in The Old Republic.  The endgame gear is completely modified, and there are many gear pieces up to that point that are modified.  Basically, you can extract the modifications from the endgame gear, and put those mods into the gear piece you like.  It will cause the piece to upgrade in its level, and it becomes as strong as the original piece.

So basically, if you come across a piece of armor that you think looks cool, you can essentially use it for the entire game.  It allows for a much more diverse range of choices in terms of your character's aesthetic, which is something that I think is absolutely essential to achieve in a game that is focused on the Star Wars universe.

Questing doesn't seem like such a horrifying grind.  Flashpoints (instances) are fast paced and fun, and PvP is a blast.  The replay value of TOR is ridiculous.  There are 8 different classes in the game, and each one of them has their very own unique storyline.  For MMO veterans, leveling 8 toons might sound like a horrifying grind, but it's not that bad.  You could very feasably level up through PvP and only complete your class quests and the flashpoints. 

Star Wars: The Old Republic is what an MMO should be.  It's all about making your character a unique player in a genre that tries to streamline people, and it's all about telling a story that is worthy of being counted in the annals of the Star Wars universe.

Hats off to Bioware and what will likely be a massive success fitting of such a massive project.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises Official Trailer

Full length, and in my opinion, fairly fucking amazing.  This film is going to blow our minds.  Here's hoping they can live up to the huge standard set by Heath Ledger.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Jong-Il Dead

Crazy has a way of catching up to everyone, and it looks like Kim Jong-Il has finally been caught.  I think he died sometime yesterday.  This would be a good thing if it actually meant anything positive to the North Korean people, but his son is taking over and will likely continue the reign of shit.

One good thing did come of this, though: because of his death, I didn't have to do an installment of Dumbass Idea of the Week!  Guys like him dying means I don't have to come up with any super-original content and allows me to be lazy.

So thanks Kimmy, wherever you are, for making my Monday morning a little easier =)

(Still, no clever caption necessary)

Friday, December 16, 2011

So a samurai, an Imam, and Mike Tyson walk into a bar . . .

. . . and the three of them, although not friends in any form, are drinking buddies for the night.  The samurai is chilling, looking super-serious and only moderately drinking because he never wants to lose focus and doesn't want to bring shame upon himself or his family.  The imam is not drinking at all because, of course, God commands that he not drink.  And Mike Tyson is drinking liberally, although not entirely beligerent.  Mike is fairly wealthy, so in a show of good faith, he buys everyone at the bar a round.

Well, one of Mike's friend, a little guy, walks in and tells him that some asshat outside the bar was messing with him.  Of course Mike can't allow that to happen to a friend, so he goes outside to sort things out.  It's not the best idea since Mike is a little bit drunk at this point.  Well, one thing leads to another, and Mike ends up decking the guy with a haymaker, knocking his ass out.

By the time Mike comes back into the bar to tell his friend what happened, a bar fight has erupted and violence is in full swing.  Frantically, Mike rushes in to save his friend and his drinking buddies, and to get all the fighting to stop so he can sort out just what the fuck happened.  Mike's solution to stopping the fighting: punch the fucking lights out of anyone who seems to be not on his side.

When everyone is finally calmed down and nursing some broken jaws and black eyes, Mike is finally able to ask his allies what the hell went wrong.  The imam starts, and he tells Mike that his friend (we'll call him Ira Rosenberg) recently evicted some of his family members from an apartment complex that Ira acquired.  When the imam confronted Ira to convince him to let his family members back into their homes, Ira told the imam to go fuck himself, and said that if they even set foot in the complex that he'd call Mike to beat them all up.  And if Mike were to refuse, then he'd just take matters into his own hands, consider them tresspassers, and shoot them on sight.

Another Muslim happened to hear about this, and instead of taking the imam's route of trying to dialogue with the guy, he immediately spit in Ira's face, and told him that if he had the power, he'd set fire to the apartment complex in the hopes of killing Ira and all his jew friends.  Ira didn't like the sound of that, so he hauled off and punched the imam in the face (because the imam didn't look that threatening anyway).

The brawl broke out, and the asshole Muslim started cutting off people's heads with a samurai sword that he mysteriously acquired, and that's when Mike showed up.  So Mike tries to talk shit out between the imam, Ira, and the asshole Muslim, and of course it doesn't help.  Not only that, but everyone in the bar now hates Mike because he punched them all out.  Meanwhile, the samurai has just been chilling this whole time, handing out samurai swords to all the Mike Tyson haters, knowing that they would forget the fact that he bought them all drinks and he was just trying to get things back to normal.

In the end, everyone hates Mike because not only is he a one-hitter-quitter, but he's meddlesome and arrogantly flaunts his wealth.  Poor Mike is left with one friend, Ira, who constantly starts trouble and just can't seem to take a fucking chill pill (because of course, everyone's out to get Ira . . . right?).  The imam is mad at Mike because he punched a fellow muslim (even though he's an asshole, and a bad muslim), and let's face it, the samurai never really liked Mike anyway.

So that was my best attempt at an allegory.  Interpret it however you will.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

50,000 Hits and the End of a War

It's sort of a neat coincidence that the day I reach 50,000 total hits on Christian Fearing God-Man also happens to be the day that the U.S. has formally declared an end to the Iraq War.

I, for one, am fairly happy about this.  Hopefully the men and women coming home won't have to turn right back around just to go to Afghanistan.  With the war over, maybe now our budget deficit will be a little lower without having to spend so much on Iraq.

I hope against hope that Iraq can become a stable and prosperous nation.  The Iraqi people have spent a long time under the yoke of opression and tyranny, so it would be nice if they can work together for a bright future.

It was a bloody and controversial conflict, but we should all respect those who served and supported the efforts, and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of the Iraqi people.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ron Paul 2012

As if anyone gives a shit who Jack Camwell endorses for the election, I'm officially saying I support Ron Paul.  I don't agree with him on everything, but I think he's really what this country needs right now.

Ol' Two First Names has my vote.

Seriously.  He will slap the shit out of you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

OWS: What Was the Point?

Well it looks as though the revolution is over.  With police removing the last hold outs in cities accross America, I think it's safe to say that the Occupy Wall Street movement is coming to a close.  So what do we do now?  We reflect, of course!

The big question that everyone should be asking themselves is: what did this accomplish?  Well, it managed to disrupt commerce, which is something one would think is a bad idea during an economic rough patch.  It also managed to get some people laid off due to the drop in commerce in some areas.  That also seems like something completely counterproductive to what they were trying to accomplish.
Did OWS achieve anything?  What was it even meant to achieve?  With protesters being removed in Baltimore, business as usual continues.  We're still massively in debt with a huge budget deficit, conditions that are not sustainable.  Unemployment remains at 8%, which is not surprising considering some people in on the unemployed list spent their time protesting rather than looking for a job.  Some corporations still get special treatment from the politicians whose pockets they line.

So I think it's safe to say OWS achieved nothing, so the next question is why?  Well, my guess is that the idiots who thought protesting would change something will likely vote for the same people they've been voting for the last 20 years.  I could be wrong, but my guess is that a majority of the OWS weirdoes vote Democrat.  But you know, it doesn't even matter what party they affiliate themselves with, because both parties are filled with self-serving assholes

OWS achieved nothing because those same assholes are still in office, and they'll probably continue to be in office.  Protesting solves nothing.  All it does is show to the world how pissed off people are, and what good does that do?  Instead of protesting, these asshats should have been getting involved with the upcoming elections.  They should have been doing their homework on the candidates, and exposing the bullshitters for what they are.

They should have taken this time to explore 3rd party alternatives.  They want change, but they don't seem to realize that it actually requires--gasp--change.  So these morons will probably do one of two things: abstain from voting in 2012 because they're disgusted with everything, or continue to vote for whoever they've been voting for all this time.

OWS was a failure because the people involved failed to either recognize or do anything meaningful about the fact that the "1%" is firmly entrenched in our congress.  About 45% of the members of congress are millionaires.  The top 10 richest members of congress consist of 3 Republicans and 7 Democrats, topped with John Kerry (D) in the #1 spot (I think he's worth about $27 million).


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Classical Music Sunday

A good friend of mine is a composition student at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  This is a piece of his that really had a profound effect on the way I look at music.

This piece, titled "To Purify," is about a monk who subjects himself to self-flagellation, basically whipping himself to purge and purify his soul of his sins and failings as a human being.  This was a common practice among monks and clergymen during the Middle Ages, most notably a "favorite" pracice of Martin Luther and Thomas More.

There's a particular way you have to listen to this piece.  The point is not to express the emotion the man is feeling, but rather the heightened state of intellectual awareness that the monk is trying to experience.  Self-flagellation was not only about causing pain to oneself, but it was about achieving a sense of enlightenment about one's sins and the shortcomings of human nature.

This piece focuses on the intellectual aspect of self-flagellation, not the concomitant emotional rush associated with the severe pain.  The practice was more of a meditation than a punishment, and when I listened to this piece it made me use my brain in a way I hadn't previously with music.

It changed my approach to music, and hopefully it can have as profound effect on you.  Enjoy!

Here's the link in case anyone needs it:

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Prison Without Bars

The mind is an incredibly powerful thing.  When you think about it, the mind dictates everything about our lives.  The human brain sustains life, it keeps our hearts pumping and functions functioning, and it determines who we are.  I think a lot of people don't really consider just how much the brain impacts our very being.  It determines your personality, how you learn, who you are attracted to, and how you perceive the world.
As magnificent and awe inspiring the human brain can be, it can also be a major detriment. 

A damaged brain is a terrible thing.  A schizophrenic's brain is absolutely convinced that there are people and voices around the person.  Just stop and think how powerful that is.  Your brain can be so out of whack that you believe that you're seeing and hearing things that simply do not exist, and that's why the brain is a prison.

Many times we get caught up in our own lives, beliefs, and perception of reality.  We become so convinced that we're seeing life as it is, that we forget the fact that reality doesn't always match up with the mind.  When presented with an alternative point of view, a lot of times we just scoff at the person and assert that he or she just "doesn't get it," or that they're looney toons.  Of course, their perception is somehow tainted by some unrealistic perception of reality.

Through our own reason, we become so convinced of the veracity of our perception that we deem ourselves to be the grand arbiters of all that is true and false in this thing we call "existence."  I think we do this for one reason: because it's easier to be comfortable believing a potential lie than it is to suffer knowing the horrifying truth.

For many people--I'd even go out on a limb and say for most people--our beliefs are largely based on what makes us feel comfortable.  We don't like dealing with the concomitant unpleasantries of the horrifying truth.  And so, we imprison ourselves with ideology.  We erect imaginary barriers that stunt our growth, keep us from leaving the prison yard.  Imagine, if you will, a physical prison that has no walls, no bars, no guards, and the only thing keeping you in the prison is yourself.

Why would one stay in such a prison?  Well, the prison is safer.  Life is regimented, you always know exactly where you are when you wake up in the morning and where you will be when you go to bed at night.  Your meals come at the same time, you have your hour in the yard every afternoon in which you wonder what's on the other side of the wall.  What you don't realize is that the wall is false, and it's a construction of your own making.

The only thing holding you back is yourself, because knowing the truth is sometimes more painful than believing the lie.  That's why we go to great lengths to engage in persuasive debate with people of opposing view-points.  We want them to believe our reality, because their reality seems so foreign and so "wrong." 

For example, I believe in my heart of hearts that abortion is morally wrong and abhorrent in most cases.  However, I also believe that I don't have the right to tell a woman whether or not she can have one.  Every time I admit to myself or to others that I'm pro-choice, I think a little part of me dies inside, because I know that my feeling doesn't match my belief.  I wasn't always pro-choice, and in that case my imaginary walls happened to be my feelings on the nature of abortion.  It wasn't until I discovered that the walls were false that I was able to intellectually move forward on the subject.

No one can truly see reality until you learn to break free from the prison of his or her own perception.  Coming to the realization that you're in prison--becoming aware that there are no bars, walls, or guards except those which we place for the purpose of comfort--is the first step in breaking out.  Walk outside your mind, and you discover that the outside world is more beautiful than you could have ever imagined.

What does your prison look like?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why Statistics Sometimes Blow

So I wanted to write about education today, and as I was thinking of ideas, I realized that most of my gripes and writings have dealt with the funding side of education.  I don't want to sound like a broken record, so luckily in my search to find some fresh perspective, I seemed to have stumbled upon a little gem.

Now I want to preface this article with the warning that this is all just pure speculation, and I'm going to use my town--Columbus, OH--to illustrate a point I want to make.

I read this article today that says that about 45% of American children live in school districts that have poverty rates over 20%.  "Shocking!" some might say.  "This is outrageous!" others may exclaim, but I think this is a case where a statistic is taken completely out of context and used to further an asinine goal (go figure, right?).

Let's consider a few things before we start saying that there's not enough money going to schools, or that poverty is the reason our kids are coming out of school as complete dumbasses.

Firstly, let's consider where most children in America live.  My guess is that most children in America live in or very near urban areas.  Columbus is a city of 2 million people.  It's a huge ass city, and there's a shit ton of children here whose residence is considered to be Columbus.  Yes, there are some suburbs, but Columbus alone is home to 2 million people.

As of 2009, Columbus had a poverty rate of about 18%. There are some extremely poor neighborhoods closer to downtown and on the West Side.  Don't go to the Hilltop area and expect a comfortable day.  Be that as it may, there are still some really nice neighborhoods in Columbus.  My friends joke and say that I live in the ghetto, but that's not true.  Sure, my neighborhood might not be the most posh, but I live in a pretty good area on the North End, not far from where I grew up (which is a nice, quiet neighborhood).

So although my friends, family, and I all live very comfortable lives, we still live in a city where some pretty nasty poverty exists, and since things haven't improved much, our poverty rate is probably closer to 20%.  But even with near 20% poverty, if you were to visit Columbus, you probably wouldn't think it's a complete shit hole like Detroit.

So what does this have to do with my argument?  Well, part two of my argument has to do with school district size.  Columbus City School district encompasses the entire damn city, poor neighborhoods and not-poor neighborhoods.  So although my children live in a nicer part of Columbus, they're still part of the statistic that says half of American children are living in poverty stricken cities.

Although my children go to Catholic school, and are receiving a really good education, they're stuck in this statistic.  From this we can speculate that the statistic itself is meaningless, because my guess is that many school districts follow this same pattern, lumping in poor, urban neighborhoods with more well-off neighborhoods.

Of course 45% of children live in school districts where poverty is 20%, because a majority of American children live in cities just like Columbus.  So what?  Why is Northland High School nestled in a fairly well-off neighborhood and fails miserably, while St. Francis De Sales high school is stuck in a slightly worse neighborhood yet churns out very well-educated students who generally go on to be successful in life?

It's not the money, because De Sales is a private Catholic school that is typically less funded than the adequately funded public schools, and where the teachers are paid a third less than their public school counterparts.  If only 18% of Columbus is living in poverty, then why does Columbus City School district only have a 60% graduation rate?

Statistics can be used, twisted, and taken out of context to prove just about anything.  That's why I tend not to take them all as gospel, because there are some factoids out there, like this one, that are complete bullshit once you apply a little thought to it.  In spite of that, people will still use that statistic to prove their point that schools are underfunded, and that because of that our children are failing.  Do you buy that?  I don't.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

Well, it should come as no surprise to anyone that racism is not dead.  It would seem, though, that we as a society have progressed to a point where it's no longer okay to express racist sentiment publicly (so long as you're white).

Apparently, some idiots at the Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, KY, didn't get the memo that it's not a good thing to be racist.  About a week ago, the church voted to ban interracial couples from getting married at that church, and they banned them from even attending regular services.

Before the religious freedom crowd jumps in, these asshats didn't even make an attempt to put a religious spin on this.  This decision was purely out of a sense that black people and white people should not be married.  There is no religious explanation: this is racism pure and simple.

So congratulations ass clowns.  In one stroke you've managed to not only make yourselves look like awful, hateful, shit head people, but you've also taken a shit on the god you believe to have created all of us in his image, and who loves all of his creation equally and unconditionally.

Christian goodness only goes so far, I guess.  At least the pastor finally decided to void the rule, but how would that have turned out without the media backlash?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Has Civilization Peaked?

I was having a lengthy philosophical discussion with a good friend of mine last night about the types of civilizations on the scale of the universe.  Some guy posited that there are 4 types of civilizations.  Type 0 is the type we're in right now, where the people of a planet are not united under one banner.  It's many factions of the race that are constantly vying for power and dominance over the others.

A Type 1 civilization is like how alien races are generally portrayed in movies.  The dominant race of the planet is part of one system of government.  All of the peoples are united under one banner, and they don't compete against each other for power, but rather they expand out into space as one giant, planetary nation.  Type 2 spans multiple planets.  If we were to colonize other planets, then our boundaries would be decided by the planets we control.  Instead of states like Ohio, we would have provinces like Mars.

Type 3 is like what we see in Star Wars, i.e. government is galaxy-wide.

With that background, the question arose between us: will we as a civilization ever progress past Type 0?  I think not.

There are a lot of barriers to becoming a type 1 civilization.  Right now, it seems as though people are trying to resist the idea of globalization, or growing interconnectedness.  We see this with diversity movements.  People want to distinguish themselves from others, which is a good thing, but I think that many have it wrong.  Instead of just saying, "I'm an individual with my own heritage," it seems like people are constantly trying to cast themselves as "I'm other."

I don't want a planet full of boring cookie-cutter people, but too often do people have the attitude that one culture is superior to another.  It's not that we want people to recognize our individuality, we want people to see that we're part of a "better" culture.  Fundamentalist Christians never want to be mistaken for being Muslims.  Conservative Americans never want to be mistaken for Europeans.

And this is where all the war and suffering has come from.  It's all about what Germany wants for the German people.  It's all about what Britain wants for its great British empire.  It's all about what America can do to keep America on top.  And because there are large groups of people constantly struggling against one another, because they think that their particular group is superior or more deserving of Earth's resources than the other groups, we engage in conflict that prevents us from progressing as a civilization.

"But Jack, it's okay that we're different.  One world government is a bad thing, because people are so different."  Yes, people are different.  As a species, we are sharply divided by cultural differences, but this sharp divide is not a good thing.  If we stay a type 0 civilization, I strongly believe that we will eventually destroy ourselves.

There are now 7 billion people on this planet, and I'm not sure how many of you realize this, but Earth's resources are finite.  Fossil fuel, rare earth metals, copper, food, shelter, land: all of these things are in finite quantity, and they are things we depend on to survive.  As the human population swells, the struggle to control these resources will only increase in intensity and frequency.

Because humans can be ridiculously stubborn, and because everyone is always right, I think that we're destined to be in perpetual struggle for as long as humanity exists.  Hardly anyone ever admits that they're wrong, and because people are still willing to die for their beliefs, we've become intellectually stunted as a civilization.  It's not that we lack the capability to intellectually progress, it's that we lack the will.

Ask yourself this one question: when was the last time you changed your mind about a major belief that you held?  What I've noticed over the past 8 or 9 months that I've been blogging is that both sides produce very compelling arguments.  Both sides pull out factoids, statistics, and theories that actually support what they're saying.  Unless the facts are complete lies and fabrications, then by all accounts both sides are right.

But few of you would be willing to admit that, because few of you realize that you're only right because you're trying to argue a particular point of view.  You're not trying to discuss the larger picture.  That's why all of you always go back to money when trying to prove your points.  "Education is broken because there's not enough money being spent on the kids!"  "Education is broken because bad teachers are overpaid, and good teachers are underpaid!"  You all fail to realize that there are deeper problems underlying all of our ails.

Humans are more concerned about being right than actually fixing a problem.  Until we can learn to get over ourselves, we're going to be intellectually stuck forever.  And as long as we're intellectually stuck, we will never progress to a type 1 civilization.  We will perpetually remain in conflict, and we'll likely destroy ourselves.  The guy who articulated this idea suggested that we may not have come into contact with alien races, because type 1 civilizations are extremely rare in the universe.  Most civilizations likely destroyed themselves, and if we had the capability, we'd likely discover their ruins on other planets.

Is that what we're destined for?  Will an alien race visit Earth one day, only to find the crumbled remains of a once thriving civilization?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I guess it's time I shit on Unions

I guess I'm kidding myself in thinking that I'm going to offend a bunch of my readers by writing this.  I can probably name each liberal that reads this trash heap (probably only Jersey, and your readership and participation are very, very much appreciated).  Anyway, since I haven't really stated my position on unions here, I suppose it's time I do so. 

The inspiration for today's article comes from none other than Political Realities.  Really, if you haven't visited there, I strongly urge you to do so.  Larry is an excellent writer, and he takes a civilized approach to debate and discussion.  Also, I contribute there from time to time =D

How do I feel about unions?  Well, I think the original concept of the union was a good thing, but modern unions, in my opinion, are total horse shit for several reasons.  We all should know why unions even came about in American history.  During the Gilded Age, from about 1876-1900, workers were shit on pretty hard.  Working conditions were extremely dangerous for many in manufacturing, and you were lucky to make a wage that could support your family.

I think everyone deserves a fair wage for the type of work they do.  Does that mean that some guy at McDonald's should be paid as much as a doctor?  No.  Does that mean a janitor should be paid as much as someone that works in manufacturing?  Absolutely not.  And should businesses be pushed to make sure that conditions are safe?  Absolutely.

But unions don't limit themselves to doing that.  Nowadays, they've gained so much power that they're actually able to force a company to keep its facilities open, even if it's better for the company to move elsewhere.  Why?  Because unions operate under this warped perception that a business is not just responsible for treating its workers fairly, but it's responsible for providing jobs to the people.

What is the real purpose of a business?  Why does anyone ever start a business?  The answer is simple: to provide a particular good and/or service to consumers at the lowest price possible (depending on all sorts of market factors, of course).  The jobs and the workers that fill them are just the means to the end.  Jobs are not the goal of a business.  No one creates a business because they just want to give someone work.  In fact, a job that requires a human being is what a businesses wish they could do without.

Why?  Because business is all about providing a product that is superior and/or cheaper than your competition.  Why is Wal-Mart so successful?  Because they can give the consumer the same products you can get at any other store, but at a cheaper price.  If Wal-Mart had to pay every one of their employees $10 an hour, do you think they'd still be able to offer consumers those cheap prices?  No.  There's a cost to doing business, producing and distributing goods and what not.  Part of that cost is how much you pay your workers.

It's tiring to listen to union people and liberals go on and on about how immoral it is for a business to close shop and set up somewhere else, as if they would do anything differently.  If in your own household you would not do something that wastes money, because you want to have the most freedom to do with your revenue as you please, then why would you expect a business to be wasteful and inefficient?

Also, it's maddening that unions have such a tight grip on certain industries that you can't work in said industry unless you join its respective union.  How fucking fascist is that?  Oh right, everyone has a right to work . . . so long as you join our union.  If you don't, then go fuck yourself, because in that case you DON'T have a right to work.  You only have the right to work if the union says you do.  Nevermind all that freedom and fairness stuff they talk about.

Larry wrote about how Boeing was stopped from moving their plant to another state because of a union.  Of course they think it's unfair that their jobs are getting taken away, but who doesn't have to deal with that?  If you're a doctor, you go into it knowing that the job market for it is pretty good, and you'll have good job security (because we always need doctors).  If you go into teaching, you know your prospects are only as good as the demand for teachers in your district.  If you go into an admin assistant job, you know you're a dime a dozen.

So if you go into a technology job or manufacturing, you have to understand that you may one day be obsolete.  Technology is rapidly advancing, and manufacturing jobs are becoming increasingly mechinized because it's safer and cheaper.  So just like everyone else, you have to deal with the market factors that affect your line of work.  You're not special just because you and a bunch of other people say so.

And oh by the way, they also force you to pay dues every year.  So the union bosses and what not are actually forcing you to give them a job and pay their wages.  Funny how that works out, right?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where are your Medicaid tax dollars going?

I've got some inside info that will help answer this question, but first, a little story about Jack's childhood--funny aside, many of my friends claim that I could not possibly have actually had a childhood, and that I must have always been an adult.

Anyway, when we were kids, my brothers and I didn't go to the doctor often.  We went for our physicals every couple of years, and if we were sick we only went if one or more of the following conditions were met:

A.  Vomitting and/or diarrhea for more than a day or two.

B.  Strep-throat, tonsilitis or some other serious malady of the throat.

C.  Ear infection.

D.  Some sort of major injury that could not be healed with RICE.

E.  Something that appeared to be a serious illness like pneumonia, bronchitis, or whatever.

That being said, there are tons of parents who bring their kids in for shit that is not serious.  "Oh, my child has a runny nose."  "My child has cold symptoms."  "He's had a cough for 2 days and it won't go away!"  Every time someone wants to schedule their kid to come in for a cold or a runny nose, I want to scream, because 95% of the time the family is on Medicaid.

Isn't that odd that families with private insurance seem to go to the doctor less?  Now, some of you who think universal healthcare is a good idea might be thinking "way to go dumbass, you just proved our point!  If you have free health insurance, you'll go to the doctor more and get better care!"  What you don't realize, is that going to the doctor for every little thing actually drives up the costs.

Why does Medicaid take up so much money?  Because the cost is shifted from the recipients onto the tax payers.  They don't have to pay anything for their care, so of course they're going to go to the doctor for every little fucking thing.

You know what the doctor will likely tell them if their kid has a cold?  Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and go buy some dimatap or something.  When they bring their kid in for a common cold, they're wasting the provider's time and resources that could be devoted to patients who are actually sick and need care.  And they do it because it's at no cost to them.

Going to the doctor every time you get a cold is not going to improve your overall health.  People who have to pay their own premiums and don't wish them to go up will just take care of themselves or their children so long as the problem doesn't actually require anything from a doctor.  That's the way it should be.

So how the hell can we drive down costs by getting people to go to the doctor more often?  I know the argument is that if people go more often, they'll be more likely to get big problems diagnosed early before it becomes an expensive medical issue.  But really, how many people fall into that category?

Now I'm just speculating here, but my guess is that for every person who ends up having a serious, expensive medical issue later in life, that the cost of everyone else who ends up never having an expensive issue but goes to the doctor all the time will come close to equalling that.

What people are seeming to not understand is that the solutions people are proposing to fix healthcare and make it more affordable are little more than accounting tricks.  Both sides are only suggesting that the cost be shifted rather than mitigated.  Paul Ryan wanted to shift the cost of Medicare onto the recipients.  The HCR bill shifts the costs onto everyone.  None of these things are designed to make practicing medicine less costly and more efficient.

For those of you who think the cost would go down by mandating that everyone have health insurance and then advocating that they visit the doctor more, I think you're sadly mistaken.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

Probably the dumbest thing a judge can do is order an offender to write a letter of apology to the victim.  A 16 year old kid in the UK was made to write a letter of apology to the person he robbed.

The letter, which was riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, wasn't actually sent to the victim, but was released for all to see anyway.  The kid said that he didn't care that he robbed the person, and that the victim was to blame because she left her kitchen window open.

The lesson we should all take from this is:

A.  Asking a kid criminal to write a letter of apology is retarded.

B.  Kid criminals are retarded.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Is a Libertarian's Dream

An actual screen shot from the game.  Beautiful.  Oh,
and my Kajiit assassin is fucking BA.
I've said for a long time that Bethesda is one of the last truly great game developers in the gaming industry.  Of course they want to make money, but they want to do it by making games of amazing quality.

The latest entry into the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim, will likely be game of the year.  It might even possibly be one of the greatest games ever made.  I know, that seems a bit premature, but hear me out.

Games today seem to be trying to tap into the human desire to distinguish oneself.  Even people who believe in austerity or conservative modes of operation are trying to distinguish themselves from others.  They want to be recognized as a part of whatever group they belong to.  Non-conformists do the same thing, although they want to distinguish themselves as not part of a particular group.

I think that's why video games today offer so much more customization.  It could be that game engines are stronger and allow for a more personal experience, but that's the thing.  For the most part, gamers want a personalized experience.  That's where Bethesda comes in.

Now since The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowwind, Bethesda has put some restrictions on their games.  In Morrowwind, I was able to regen some 20 hp every second, and that's nothing compared to what my friend had going on in that game.  You couldn't do that with Oblivion, and you can't do that in Skyrim (without modding the games and removing such restrictions).  Be that as it may, if you're the type of person who is all about personal freedom and meritocracy, Skyrim might just be your wet dream.

First off, you get to pick what race you want to be.  Then, you don't even pick a class in Skyrim (unlike Morrowwind and Oblivion).  You pretty much just do whatever it is you want to do.  Want to wear heavy armor?  Go ahead.  Tired of heavy armor and want to wear light armor?  Do it up.  Getting bored of using war axes?  Not a problem, just start using a sword or a mace since they're in the same skill tree.  What if you're a mage type, and you want to have bad ass destruction and restoration skills?  Start casting shit at people!

And that's just the play style.  Then there's all the content you get to tackle.  In addition to the main quest line, you've got 4 other major quest lines to follow should you choose.  You can join up with the Companions (the figher's guild); steal shit everywhere for the Thieves Guild; go be a mage guild puppet; or go completely bad ass and assassinate people for the Dark Brotherhood.  And those are just major quest lines, not even taking into account the fact that there's tons of other side quests to do in each of the cities.

To give you an idea of just how much content there is, I completed my first playthrough in 70 hours, and I skipped a faction (I didn't want to do the mage's guild).  70 hours is twice as long as Oblivion took me.

But then here's the other beautiful thing: you get out of it exactly what you put into it.  If you don't use your skills, you don't get any better at them.  If you don't perform quests for people, money and rewards are tough to come by.

The beauty of it all is that you can pretty much do whatever you want, however the hell you want to do it.  Some avenues of gameplay might be tougher than others (I'm finding out that playing a sword and board character is infinitely more difficult than a stealth guy), but if you put in the hard work then you'll achieve your goal.  My goal is always to break the game, and make my guy out to be a walking deity.  I pretty much achieved that with my assassin, as he was able to 1-shot dragons by the end of everything (so long as he was not detected).

You can buy property, you can decorate your home, you can break the law, you can toss a coin to a hungry beggar, and you can save the world.  Or you can just choose not to do any of that and do something else entirely.  Really, you can do whatever the hell you want.  Go nuts!  That's what makes Skyrim so amazing. 

I mean aside from the fact that the graphics of the game are fairly fucking awesome, the story-lines are pretty solid, and the gameplay mechanics are nearly perfect, what really makes this game shine above the rest is the fact that with the exception that Bethesda still has a specific story to tell, you're free to be whatever/whoever you want to be.  And ultimately, that's what every human really wants.

Friday, November 25, 2011

In Re "Should Our Laws Reflect Our Morality?"

Larry, over at Political Realities, wrote a very good article the other day about whether or not society should "legislate morality," as the term goes.

For those who might not be certain what that means, the idea is that there are certain things that many people consider to be morally wrong but are not illegal.  For example, it's not illegal for someone who is not in the military to cheat on his or her spouse.  It's also not illegal to lie to someone so long as you're not committing perjury or lying to the police.  I can tell someone that I'm 30, although I'm 28, and no one can do anything legal about it.

So the real question is where do we draw the line on this?  It's good to have a moral society, one in which people believe in and practice a certain modicum of goodness, but when you consider the fact that much of morality is incredibly gray, that's where the silly shit starts.

Hopefully you all know by now that I'm not a relativist.  I'm a good post-modern, which unlike relativism, holds that although Truth (with a capital T) is probably universal, we've definitely not discovered it yet, or it might be harder to discover than most people think.

Larry used homosexuality as an example.  It's not illegal to be gay, but should it be?  More specifically, in his example should a Christian book store owner not be allowed to pass up a homosexual for employment because of anti-discrimination laws?

To answer this question I think you have to consider the nature of the relationship between society and the individual.  Locke believed that society was created for protection and arbitration.  Liberty cannot exist if you're constantly in the mode of having to protect your stuff from other people.  Liberty also cannot exist if you've constantly got someone trying to curtail your liberties.  So humans formed societies to protect property and to create an impartial mediator to settle disputes.

Basically, the purpose of the law is to allow you to be as free as possible without letting you harm anyone else or curtail their liberties.  We criminalize certain acts and attatch punishments to them in order to deter people from doing it.  What harm does being gay do to anyone anywhere?  Does it infringe on anyone's rights?

Actually, allowing people to discriminate against gays infringes on the rights of homosexuals.  Should a church be forced to allow gay people to work for them?  Probably not, because it's a religious institution.

Addendum:  Sorry, I had to go on lunch.  Legislating certain moral standards means that you're imposing those standards upon everyone.  Some moral standards are based upon religion such as homosexuality and the morality of birth control.

I side with Larry, if I took his meaning correctly, that morality should not be legislated.  Matters of the soul should be left up to the person to decide for him or herself.  We can't know whether each and every action is moral or immoral.  We can make some pretty good guesses, but we can't be 100% certain.  Some people say that we can through the bible or whatever, but take away the bible and what is there? 

I don't want to live in a society that tells me how much alcohol I'm allowed to drink (so long as I'm not hurting anyone in the process).  I also don't want to live in a society that tells people that they can't marry someone simply because they're the same sex.  Should we have a society in which we're told who we are and are not allowed to love?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Here's some festive Thanksgiving pictures for the guys.  What's your favorite part of the turkey?  For me it's definitely the breast ;-)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Intelligence is a Shitty Business

It might sound cool to be a spy, or to be involved in some sort of intelligence stuff, but then you hear about some spies of ours getting caught by Iran and Hezballah.  When a CIA official says "we'll likely never see these guys again," that's when the reality of the intelligence business should set in.

It really is a shitty, thankless field to work in.  Sure you get to tell people that you can't talk about what you do, and then chuckle at them for their inevitable probing questions as though they think they're crack interrogators who are going to trick you into revealing what you know, but that's not enough to make it not suck.

I know what it's like.  In the Navy I was a cryptologist.  I only spent three years as a cryptologist, so I didn't have the chance to get into any of the seriously crazy shit, but three years is enough to know how much it sucks.

For starters, there's that whole thing where you can never tell anyone anything, ever.  That sounds cool at first, but after a while it gets frustrating.  I did some fairly cool shit in my time.  I was really good at what I did, and I wish that I could share my success stories with the people I care about.  But the only people that knew just how good I was and the great things I did are those who worked with me and were cleared to know that sort of stuff.  I haven't seen them in years, and even if I did see them it's not like we could talk about it out in the open.

It actually affected my marriage a bit.  My ex-wife didn't like the fact that I couldn't come home and talk about work other than whenever we had to paint something.  She didn't appreciate the idea that there was a part of my life that she'd never be privvy to.  You see in the movies where spies' wives get all upset about that sort of thing, and I always discounted that as silly.  "This can't be realistic.  Of course their wives would understand."  Well, not all of those wives understand, I guess.

And aside from how it affects your personal life, there's the nature of the work itself.  Intelligence is not the place for people who enjoy discovering concrete answers to their burning questions.  Much of the job revolves around guess work.  Try this little exercise.  Observe one person for like a month or so, and after that month try to predict their daily schedule for the next month.

Sounds easy, right?  Well, it's not that easy.  The person might call in sick for work one day.  He might stay in for lunch rather than going out.  He might go out with his friends and be too hungover to get to work on time the following day.  Then, after you realize that there are a million variables you have to take into account in your observations and predictions, throw five more people into the mix.  Try to predict what six people are going to do every day for the next month.

As if that's not hard enough, let them in on the little exercise, and tell them to willfully try to throw you off their scent to make them more unpredictable.  Still easy?

Intelligence involves a *lot* of guess work.  We always called them WAGs, or Wild Ass Guesses.  "I don't know," is never an answer that your superiors want to hear, so you give them the best guess with what you've got. Sometimes you don't have shit, but they still want answers.

So intelligence is a field in which all you're doing is guessing and hoping to Christ that you're right.  Your successes will never be known to the people you care about, and your failures will be plastered in plain sight for all to see.  People mock you for failing so much, but don't realize that successes are kept under wraps because if everyone knows what works, it doesn't work anymore.

So if you're into dealing with guess work, never getting to talk about the cool shit you've done, and enjoy getting shit on by a public who doesn't even understand the nature of your work, then work in the intelligence field.  You'll have a ball.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dumbass Idea of the Week

While the rest of the world talks about getting out of this financial crisis, while our boys and girls are dying in the sands and mountains of Afghanistan, and while Iran tries to make nuclear weapons, PETA still exists and and advocates for unimportant shit.

The target this time?  Super Mario 3D.  The problem?  Mario wears a racoon and bear suit.  PETA says that this sends a message that it's okay to wear fur.

First off, who really gives a shit?  Secondly, who really gives a shit?

This is not going to change people's minds if they enjoy wearing fur, and do we really think that people playing this game give two flying fucks what PETA has to say about it?  Perhaps this is a sign of PETA's growing irrelevance.  They can't get attention for anything else, so they resort to shitting allover a game concept that has existed for like 20 years.

Eat my ass PETA.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Federal Judge forgets what country he lives in, supports censoring American flag

I'm sure the judge was fully cognizant of what country he lives in, but the story is as asinine as my title.  A school in California forced some of their students to remove their American flag apparel on Cinco de Mayo, because they were afraid that it would start violence with the Latin-American students who were celebrating the holiday.  A federal judge backed this decision, saying that it didn't infringe on students' rights to free speech.


There's so much wrong with this that it's god damn mind boggling.  Let's start off with the glaring fallacy of the whole thing.  American students were told that they couldn't wear American flag apparel while other students were celebrating a Mexican holiday.  They thought that violence would erupt, gang violence apparently.  But here's the kicker: the Hispanic kids weren't barred from wearing whatever they wanted to support their Latin heritage.

Does anyone see anything wrong with that?  I mean really, wear whatever the fuck you want.  If you want to celebrate the fact that you come from Mexico, go right the hell ahead.  If you want to wear a shirt that shows off that you're from Africa, be my fucking guest.  But apparently the American flag is just too controversial.

It would be interesting to see if a holiday like Independence Day fell during the school year if the administration would tell the minority kids to not wear anything that supports their heritage.  We all know that if something like that happened, this would be plastered all over every news outlet.  "Bigot school shuns cultural heritage," would likely be the headlines.

When minorities are supressed it's always racist or bigotry, but when the majority is supressed it's always justice.  In what plane of existence is any of that supposed to make sense?

Now granted, the kids that were wearing American flag shirts were probably trying to be jackasses and what not.  They were likely hoping to start a fight and be controversial, but what does that really matter?  Did they start a fight with the latino kids over whatever the hell they were doing?  No.  What the school administration was basically saying was that the latino kids would have created violence if those other kids were allowed to wear American flag apparel.

I've been saying for a long time now that it's unjust to supress anyone's culture, so long as that culture is not hurting anyone.  Whether you're celebrating the fact that you're an American, African, Mexican, Asian or whatever, you should be free to express pride in your heritage.

We all know that in the name of justice, that school should have told the hispanic kids that they couldn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo if they couldn't do it peacefully.  If the American flag kids wanted to start a fight, they would have done it regardless if they were wearing American flag shit.  But apparently, the message we're getting here is that had the hispanic kids seen them wearing American flag apparel then violence would have erupted, gang violence apparently.

The school didn't have the balls to do the right thing.  They gave in to fear, and basically told these hispanic gang kids that they would bow to their demands and wishes.  There's little hope for a world this incredibly stupid.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop Kidding Yourselves

I've been trying to look at life from a different perspective lately.  For a while I felt sort of lost, or like I just couldn't see things clearly.  I liken it to trying to navigate through a forrest.  The destination is clear, meaning I can see where I'm supposed to end up, but the trees were thick and there was fog everywhere.  So what do we do in a situation like that?  We continue to go forward and stick to what we know will probably work.

Why veer off to the left or right when you know the destination is straight ahead?  If I run into some sort of obstruction, just side-step it if it's small enough.  If it's a big obstruction, like a mountain or something, then climb it.  Perseverance is what counts, right?

That was a poor attempt at some imagery in order to convey the fact that I realize that I've been guilty of tunnel vision.  I, like most people, refused to look at life in any other light than what I "knew" in my heart to be true.  I was stuck in the prison of my own mind.  So what I've been trying to do lately is observe humanity as though I were not human--alien, if you will.  What would an alien from another planet think of humanity and the things we do?

That's an important question that everyone should ask themselves, because if you understand the implications of it then you'll likely be amazed at what you discover about humanity and yourself.  It requires you to throw out all of your conceptions of what is acceptable and true.  You have to pretend like you don't believe in whatever it is you believe in, and you have to look at the idea as though you've just heard it for the first time.

Since I've started to do this, my perspective on humanity has changed dramatically.  There's so much bullshit out there that people buy into, and if they would just force themselves to look at it objectively then they'd see how ridiculous it all really is.

Take the various forms of killing, for example.  There are people who get incredibly incensed over some killing, but they seem to be okay with, or apathetic to, other sorts of killing.  It's wrong to kill an innocent person, and we feel like those responsible should be punished for it.  So what do we do?  We kill the people responsible for it (in some cases).  Killing innocent people in war is a bad thing, but we don't really seem to care all that much, because it's war, right?  Collateral damage.  The only people that cry for justice for the innocent slaughtered in war are those who've been touched by said slaughter, or bleeding heart liberals.

Some people are trying to say that flushing out a zygote, a 2 celled organism with human DNA that has no sentience whatsoever nor the ability to survive on its own, is morally impermissible, but killing a cow--a sentient being that can feel pain, fear, can reproduce and be content chewing on grass and what not--is okay so long as you're doing it "humanely" and for the sake of consuming its flesh.

All life is sacred . . . except for the lives of animals, enemy combatants, "collateral damage," and of awful criminals.  Those lives might still be sacred, but they're less sacred than the life of a baby, because the baby is innocent, defenseless.  The baby will grow up to have aspirations and do great or terrible things in society,  unlike all those innocent "collateral damage," people who were already grown up and had aspirations; unlike the death row inmate, who is incapable of defending himself; unlike the cow that is also innocent and incapable of defending itself.

Am I trying to defend abortion?  Not at all.  I think it's pretty barbaric.  But am I going to sit here and kid myself about how silly it is that we humans try to rationalize the killing that we think is permissible?  We do it all the time.  We tell ourselves that capital punishment is okay because that criminal is a danger to society.  We convince ourselves that collateral damage, although regrettable, is a an inevitability of war so we shouldn't feel too badly about it.

We've got to eat, right?  So those cows giving their flesh for our consumption is totally okay.

Killing is never a good thing.  Ever.  It might benefit society in some way.  It might further a goal.  Hell, it might even free a people from a maniacal dictator so that the ones left alive can have a better chance at a free existence.  Killing might spare a child the shame of being a rape baby.  It might save a mother's life.  Killing might stop a madman from taking over the world and annihilating the Jews.

But seriously, don't kid yourselves.  Some killing might be more legitimate than others, and we might differentiate which killing is more permissable, but it's still killing.

For those of you who will inevitably argue against me and defend capital punishment, let me leave you with a little scenario.  Let's say a psychopath brutally murders someone that's very close to you, and he isn't caught.  You find him, plot his death, and kill him.  Is that murder or not murder?  Flip side, he is caught, prosecuted, handed the death sentence, and he's executed.  Is that murder or not murder?

In one of those cases, the state would cosnider his death to be the administration of justice, and in the other scenario his death would be perceived as a murder.  Free your mind for just a minute and truly think of that objectively.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Firing Joe Paterno Did Not Unrape Those Boys

Why, in this country, do we have some irrational need to blame as many people possible in a bad situation?  For some reason we've come to the point where when something bad happens, we want a pound of flesh from anyone who was even remotely associated with the incident.

Take this whole Penn State rape scandal thing.  Joe Paterno got fired because of this asshat and his asshat bosses.  Yes, I'm defending Joe Paterno.

Let me pose this question to everyone: what would you have done differently?  Now I'm sure many of you are going to say "well I would have gone straight to the police, Jack!  That was his moral obligation!"  Okay, let me paint a picture for you.

One of your employees comes to you and tells you that a guy you've known for over 20 years was raping some 10 year old kid.  This is a guy that you've known to be kind-hearted, honorable, and upstanding.  The guy started a charity for Christ sake.  Some kid that you barely know tells you that a friend of yours was raping a boy in a public place.  First off, do you believe it?  Do you believe that this man would do something so horrifying and be so brazen about it?

It's possible that the kid, in the haze of the moment, mistook the assailant. You know that something like this could completely ruin a man forever, so if the kid was mistaken about the identity of the offender, or if he was mistaken about what was going on, or if the guy telling you this was even lying, it would be fairly shitty to go straight to the police and get this all out in the open.

Not to mention the fact that your legal obligation is to report the activity to your boss and let your boss handle it, and there really is nothing you can do beyond that point.

"But Jack, there is something you could do.  Morally you should go to the police!"  And do what?  Tell the police that someone told you that he saw a guy raping a kid in a public shower?  What would the police think?  And remember, you don't even know that the kid was being raped.  You were just told that he was being inappropriately touched or whatever.  You know almost nothing of what actually went on.  But it's your duty to go to the police, on your own volition, with nearly no facts about what happened and potentially smear a friend's good name?

What was Joe Paterno supposed to think?  Here's what I would think.  The claims must have been unsubstantiated.  No one has come foreward claiming that this guy raped him, and the university or whoever must have done their own investigation to determine the veracity of the claims.  They probably couldn't determine whether or not the guy did was he supposedly did, and to play it safe they kicked him off campus.  If the guy really is guilty, then the victim would surely come forward.  Victims came forward in the Catholic priest sex scandals, right?

Joe Paterno did not have enough information to go to the police.  All he had to go off of was someone else's word, and the guy, McQueary, didn't even tell him what exactly went on.  If my boss just told the guy to not show up around campus, my thought would be that the allegations were unfounded.

McQueary and the men that actually had a legal responsibility to do something should be on the hook for this, not a 75 year old man who's had numerous health problems over the last 10 years, all while trying to manage a Big 10 college football team.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Call to Skyrim

So this week's dumbass idea is more of an excuse as to why I wrote nothing at all this weekend.  For those of you who don't know, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out Friday.  I've been completely engrossed in that game.

It's an amazing piece of work.  Bethesda has truly outdone themselves with this game.  The mechanics are as good as always, there's clearly a metric fuck ton of content in the game (I probably won't be able to tackle it all in anything less than 40 hours, maybe even 80 if I stick to doing everything I possibly can), and the scenery of the game is absolutely breath taking.

So if I'm absent for a bit, or making smaller, less thoughtful posts, it's because I'm a giant nerd and I'm completely geeking out over this game.

If you're into gaming and you haven't already, I seriously suggest you get this game.  It will probably be game of the year, and it could even get a metacritic score as high as Half-Life 2 (which had a score of 99).  Although I haven't beaten it yet, I'm going to go on record and say that Skyrim may be one of the greatest games of all time, if not Bethesda's greatest creation thus far.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Re Silverfiddle: The Worth of a College Degree

Dan Rather is NOT pleased.
Silverfiddle over at Western Hero wrote an article today about "worthless" college degrees to follow up on a previous blog post he wrote about "worthless" college degrees.  I've got a lot to say about this in retort, so rather than take up space in his comment section I figured this could be the topic of my post today.  I think I've written about this subject before, but I'm way too lazy to go back and look. 

Anyway, let's get this out in the open: a college degree is only worth as much as the person who has it.  There's a lot of layers to that statement, and I think it covers just about any base you can imagine to argue against me.

First, a college degree's worth is not determined by how much money it's going to make you in the long run.  Some people might use that as a criteria for saying whether or not a degree is worthless, but if you are incapable of looking past that then you clearly have no idea what the purpose of education is.  It's possible that you do know what the purpose of education is, but if you still look at a degree in terms of its salary power, then you've allowed yourself to be snowed by an ignorant society in intellectual decline.

The worth of a degree doesn't even have anything to do with the area of study.  You could get a degree in women's studies or philosophy (commonly viewed as "worthless," not necessarily a value judgment on my part) and you still can't claim the degree is worthless.  By doing so, you're saying that the knowledge within that field of study is worthless.  Anyone who claims or implies that any knowledge is worthless is clearly someone who has been snowed by an ignorant society in intellectual decline.

The worth of a college degree is determined by one thing: the person who has it.  The point of a bachelors degree is not to make you certified to say whatever you want about a particular subject.  The whole point is to give you a base of knowledge to work from so that you can embark on an informed journey into discovering truth.  It doesn't matter if that truth has to do with history, political science, philosophy, chemistry, bioengineering.

The point of the bachelors degree is to show you that you know exactly jack shit.  But people don't get that anymore, because they've been made to believe that college degrees are little more than certifications.  They've been told that it's pointless to have a degree in history, political science, and philosophy because it's not math or science.  What you're not being told is that your own intellectual journey is determined by you. 

If you buy into a professor's indoctrination crap (not all professors are like that, contrary to what people who've never been to college may believe) then that's your fault.  That means that the worth of a degree has nothing to do with the professors you had or the insitution from which you obtained it.  It doesn't matter if you get it from super-prestigious Harvard or from some small college in the middle of nowhere that no one has heard of. 

If you stop learning when you've completed your bachelors because you think you know it all, then that's your fault.  The bachelors degree is supposed to open your mind to the fact that there's thousands of years of accumulated knowledge, and that you've not even begun to scratch the surface of it.  Silver is right to say that there are a bunch of pseudo-intellectuals out there, as there are few people who are willing to admit that they don't know shit.

The most important thing I learned after four years of college was that if I ever want to seriously understand the world and the shit head people that live in it, I have to look at reality from a different perspective.  That's not to say that my professors were telling me that my perspective was wrong, but simply that if I'm only looking at the world through my eyes, then I'm definitely missing something.  That's why my degree in American history and political science is worth something: because I understand that the world is a lot bigger than my own mind.

It's better to be educated than not educated.  How do I know this?  Well, I see a lot of non-educated people speak out about important shit all the time, and it's painfully obvious how oblivious they are to anything outside their own perceptions of reality. 

That's not to say that a person without a college degree is stupid or never right about anything, but consider this:

There are people who sit back in their chairs and say "those pseudo-intellectuals are full of shit.  They're stupid, and they don't know what they're talking about.  Their world-views are so warped and out of tune with reality, and they can't see it because Marxist college professors blinded them to the real world."

Then there are people who sit back in their chairs and say "those uneducated Phillestine swine are full of shit.  They're stupid and they don't know what they're talking about.  Their world-vies are so warped and out of tune with reality, and they can't see it because they're uneducated and think that a college education is bunk."

Who is right?  (Hint: That's a trick question)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

As Promised: The Many Faces of Vladimir Putin

Putin the dog whisperer

Vladimir Putin: Man Hunter

Putin's glamor shot

Pensive Putin

Putin goes Fishing

Putin goes extreme fishing

Dr. Putin

Last, but not least:
Judo Master Putin