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 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Morality of Birth Control

I'm Catholic, but I don't always agree with the Church's teachings, and birth control is one of those things.

I read an article recently about how a law that's in the works in Mississippi could be applied to ban certain forms of birth control.  The law is trying to establish the personhood of fertilized eggs.  They want to outlaw abortion, which as we know flies in the face of Roe v. Wade, but people are afraid that this will have the potentially worse effect of fucking up certain modes of contraception.

For the full article and explanation, you can read that here.

One thing that I find sad about the Catholic church is that it has some ridiculous puritanical bent to it, at least in America anyway.  Catholicism lauds human sexuality as a gift from God.  It's only been recently (maybe within the last 200 years) that it's morphed into some ridiculous horse shit where sex is apparently primarily for procreational purposes.  The line of logic then follows that contraception, an act which inhibits procreation, is immoral.

Fuck that.

Fucking is a gift from God, and not just because it spawns more kids.  First off, it's the most fun that two human beings can have together, and secondly it's the most intimate expression of love (if you're into that sort of thing).  If it wasn't supposed to be a gift, then why the hell did God make it feel so damn good?  "Well Jack, you asshat, that's God's way of testing us."  Horse shit.  God doesn't test anyone, and if he does then he's a cruel asshole.

What's funny is that a study showed that 98% of Catholic women (in America I think) have used some form of contraception.  So basically, if you're a Catholic that actually follows the idea of "natural familiy planning," and you keep having a bunch of children you can't afford, then you might be a dumbass.

There's nothing wrong with birth control, in fact more people should use it.  There are way too many idiots spawning children that will likely grow up to be idiots.  This is the whole shitty part about anti-abortion legislation.  We see that they're trying to do everything they can to get it banned, and now there's some other silly shit that may come along with it.

This is why I'm pro-choice.  Not because I think abortions are a good thing, because it's never a good thing to end a life--even if that life isn't capable of living outside the mother's womb--but because it's better to just let the woman choose what's right for her.  It's seriously no one's business what sort of contraception she wants to use.  There's nothing morally wrong with preventing yourself from having a child that you

A.  Don't want.

B.  Can't financially support.

So seriously, let her choose.  And I get that condoms would still be legally okay to use (I find it somewhat asinine that I even have to have this discussion about the legality of birth control), but condoms are stupid.  The pill, patch, or depo shot is a much better option.  I mean c'mon, who has ever thought that sex with a condom feels better than without one?

Moral of the story: if you're into bare-backing and don't wanna get a chick knocked up, don't go to Mississippi if this law passes.  Crass, but true.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dumbass idea of the Week

Vladimir Putin is a weird guy.  He's not as weird as, say, Kim Jong Il, but he's still fucking odd for a world leader.  Last week he tried to claim some random kid as the "7 Billionth Person" in the world.  As the article mentions, it's nearly impossible to verify such a thing, and I could have sworn that everyone already considered some other random baby to be the 7 Billionth person or whatever.

So did he just not get the memo?  It's weird that he would do such a thing, like having 7 Billion People is a good thing on a world that's already strained on resources.

Better yet, he visited the mother and child, and he did so in a lab coat . . .

Why?  For some reason Putin seems like he enjoys looking like a giant oddball.  It's almost as if he's trying to give the perception that he's capable of doing anything and being anywhere.  He's like a Ken doll with all the different outfits for whatever you want him to be.  Need to be saved from a burning building?  Never fear, Putin-doll Fireman will save you!  Need a dangerous beast slayed?  Studly Tracker Putin will hunt it down.

Worried that the democratic process might start to work in post Cold War Russia, and that different people over time will weild power?  Perish the thought!  Subversive Usurper Putin is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent all at once!  It's like having God as your president, prime minister, and then president again!  We've never seen such a cult of personality (or an attempt to create one) in Russia before!


Note:  For some reason I can't upload pictures here at work.  So on my lunch break today I'm going to make a quick post showing the many faces of Vladimir Putin.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Why OWS Is Screwed

Uncle Sam apparently wants you to buy into
bullshit.  Good job.
Here's a fun fact for everyone.  In 2009, the Top 10 Richest Members of Congress consisted of 8 Democrats and 2 Republicans.

It's no secret that many, many Democrats make up the 1% that the OWS people claim they're trying to bring down, so it's hilariously ironic when the Democrats tell their "brothers and sisters," to be strong and to fight the good fight.

It's ironic because the OWS people like getting support from their elected representatives, the same people that have benefitted from the perceived flaws of our financial system.  It's hilarious because the OWS'ers don't seem to realize this.

What makes all of it sad is the fact that their blindness is being used as campaign fodder.  The Democrats had control of the House, Senate, and White House for two years.  They kept beating the hope and change drum, and after 2 years of complete control over law-making, what did they change?  My guess is that if they were serious about overhauling our economy and financial system, they would have made a more concerted effort to do so.

Why did they suffer such big losses in 2010?  Because they didn't deliver on the shit they promised.  They kept things largely the same.  Yes, Republicans were lock-step in their opposition to the healthcare bill, but that's because they had solid backing from the electorate to do so.  Financial reform is something that most Americans can get behind.  Liberals and Conservatives everywhere talk about how they think "Crony Capitalism" has fucked everything up.

Sure, the two groups might have opposing solutions for how to fix it, but people want shit to change for the better.  My guess is that Congress, filled with many members who are part of the 1% or at least in bed with them, doesn't really want things to change.

And why would they?  Not only do they have the power of personal wealth behind them, but they've also got the power of law-making that we've vested them.  If the Democrats truly gave a shit about the poor and tired masses, if they really wanted to make meaningful changes, they certainly would have done so in the two years that they had control over the law-making process.

But they didn't.  They claim to represent all these disenfranchised people, but they don't do anything about it.  It's all a way for them to get more votes.  It's easy to call for change when you have no way of actually changing anything.  The change bandwagon was filled to the fucking brim of people starving for a brighter future, but when the bandwagon arrived at its destination they were shocked to find that it had never even left the station. 

The calls for change among members of Congress all but stopped once they got the power they asked for.  Isn't it convenient that the calls for change started getting more aggressive when they lost the power?

To the OWS participants: You're on your own.  The people in government who might genuinely support your cause don't have the power to affect any change.  Everyone else in government who actually weilds some influence and sway only hold that influence because of the fact that they're in the 1% that you're villainizing.

If you want real change, stop electing the people who are keeping it business as usual.  You might think the Republicans are evil and are trying to keep the poor people poor, but you've definitely been snowed by the Democrats who claim to be altruistic champions of the people.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Americans Are So Civilized

A few days ago, maybe a week or so, I posted an article saying that deep down, Americans are just as bad as any group of people that we call "savages."  I met some stiff opposition to that argument, and I claimed that if Americans were put in the same sort of horrifying situation as the Libyans, the Americans would behave in the same barbaric manner.

Well, it seems that I have some evidence to support my claim.  From Reuters:
U.S. Army sergeant accused of murdering three unarmed Afghan civilians casually shot one victim "with a smile on his face," then pulled a tooth from the dead man's mouth, a fellow soldier testified on Wednesday.

The chilling account followed testimony from several other ex-peers of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs who recalled that he referred to Afghan villagers as "savages" and once told another soldier, "the Army needs more people who can kill people."
I thought this particularly prescient, given the fact that he used the particular term "savages," when describing his victims.  What's funny about this is that this is even more horrifying than what the Libyans did to Gadhafi.  Why, you ask?  Because these soldiers didn't even have a reason for murdering these people in cold blood.  They were innocent, and Gibbs' accuser, who has been convicted for being a part of the murders, had been caught on tape going off on a racial rant about the Afghans.

These assclowns mudered these people in cold blood.  They took photographs with their corpses.  They removed some of their teeth, likely as souvinirs.  They had no provocation or cause for killing them, let alone to desecrate their corpses.  They murdered these people out of pure sociopathic hatred.

These are supposed to be our so called "civilized" people.  Where was the rule of law when they deemed that those people deserved to die?  "Well, this is an isolated incident Jack."  Bullshit it is.  Shit like that went on in Vietnam.  God only knows how many more cases of this have occurred in the last 10 years since we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.  How the hell can we call ourselves civilized when we as a society still collectively agree that war is a viable option to solve problems?

And just to clarify, this is in *no way* meant to be a justification for what the Libyans did to Gadhafi.  I simply think that it's fairly ridiculous that we in our ivory towers pass value judgments on other peoples, calling them savages, when we need to look no further than to our own people to witness the same inhumane savagery.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Hate to Say It, but Ron Paul is Probably Doomed

In the primaries I will probably vote for Ron Paul, so I suppose you can consider that to be a "Ron Paul 2012," endorsement from ol' Jack Camwell (as if my endoresment is worth anything to anyone, anywhere).  Anyhow, that will likely be pleasing to a friend of mine who reads and comments here occasionally.

Why do I like Ron Paul?  Well, I can say that I'm not a big fan of his foreign policy, because I think it smacks of isolationism.  I mean, he might be right that we need to just leave everyone alone, but just because he's morally justified in that position doesn't mean it's the best course for America.  I'm of the opinion that no matter what we do, the world will hate us or shit on us for one reason or another.

That aside, I really dig his economics.  He's been beating the warning drum about inflation and artificial currency for years.  He thinks that there are way too many free-loaders on the welfare dole, and that welfare was designed to keep the poor perpetually impoverished.  He wants to make massive cuts to the government, many I agree with and some that I don't, and he's serious about making real changes to get our country back in the black and economically viable.

I also love his delivery and modus operandi.  He's a fierce debator.  If you've ever seen him conduct inquiries on guys like Ben Bernanke, you get the sense that not only does Ron Paul know exactly what the fuck he's talking about, but that he's also an absolute bulldog that will corner just about anyone into an uncomfortable position.  I love that tenacity, and I think he expresses quite succinctly what a majority of Americans on both sides are feeling.

I don't believe the crap that people fling claiming that he just wants to bone the poor and compeltely remove the safety net.  He wants to actually return it to being a safety net, rather than let it remain a lifelong crutch.  I have worked with and met way too many welfare lifers to disagree with his assessment and solution to the situation.

Despite the fact that I think Ron Paul is what this country needs, I'm all but certain that his campaign is completely doomed for several reasons.

First is his delivery.  For some reason, American society doesn't seem to like attack dogs in politics.  It's kind of annoying that we have this namby-pamby sentiment towards how our politicians should act, but the fact remains that people find him abrasive.  And to make matters worse, he's old, which makes him seem crotchey.  It also doesn't help that in recent years his age has really begun to show.  Americans don't elect crotchety old men for president.

Then there's the fact that he's constantly painted as part of the lunatic fringe.  Larry over at Political Realities mentioned this in his post the other day.  Ron Paul supporters are generally seen as wacked out anarchists who can't behave themselves.  People also say that his district is filled with a bunch of loons, which is why he keeps getting re-elected.  I also think it's a detriment that he's considered to be a Tea Party champion.

Ron Paul's core supporters.
I know, some of my readers might call themselves Tea Partiers, but you have to admit that although you think your cause is noble, and in some ways it might be, the Tea Party has been cast as a looney bin.  Can you really blame people, though?  The Tea Party latched on to idiots like Michele Bachmann, and a lot of them took guns to town hall meetings.  I know, I know, it's their Constitutional right, but seriously, taking a gun to a town hall meeting is a sure-fire way to brand yourself as a wacko.

So I think it's a bad thing that he's associated with the Tea Party.  Americans are looking for consensus and unity, and Paul represents the opposite of that.  I think his ideas are great, and they might be what the country needs right now, but I think we all know that he'll never get a chance.  They never ask him the right questions in the debates, and the party establishment treats him like a deformed step-child.

He's getting my vote in the primaries, but I'm being honest with myself in saying that he's probably not even going to come close to getting the nomination.