Monday, December 30, 2013

I'm not a Dog Person, So I Must Be Dumb

Whenever I meet someone and get to know that person, somehow the conversation frequently arrives
at talking about whether or not I like dogs.  The person may start talking about his/her dog and how awesome the animal is.  And of course, after a lengthy description about how cute, cuddly, and smart Rover is, they always ask me: are you a dog person?


Astonishment and disbelief are typically the first attitudes they express, and inevitably they ask "how can you not like dogs?"  Well, for one, they're gross to me.  All dogs--no matter how well groomed and cared for--have the "dog smell."  I have a fairly sensitive olfactory sense, and I can't stand dog smell. I tolerate it when I'm over at a dog owner's house (afterall, it's their house) but I could not live with a dog.  Secondly, even dogs with really short hair still have hair, and it sheds.  I can't stand shedding hair.

Third: they slobber, and lick, and it's gross.  As if all of that isn't enough, dogs also need a good deal of attention and care--forever.  They'll never be able to do much of anything on their own.  They'll never be able to cook for themselves, give themselves a bath, take themselves to the vet, or even relieve themselves on their own without making a mess.  It's like having a perpetual child--a child that smells, sheds, slobbers, tears up your trash, and barks in the middle of the night because he sees a racoon tooling around the back yard.

After explaining all of that, very visibly expressing my discomfort with slobber-factories, the person is usually still in disbelief.  And, as if there is some silently agreed upon unwritten rule, every single dog owner says the same, exact thing--and I swear to you, this happens every. single. time.

"You must not have grown up with dogs."

When first said to me, I didn't think much of it.  I politely informed the person that I did, in fact, grow up with dogs.  My parents were divorced, and in both households I had a dog.  They were really, really good dogs, too.  My dad had a miniature pincher named Seti (because his ears were cropped, and he sort of looked like Anubis).  My mom had a chocolate-brown lab, Buddy.  What a dog he was.  He was kind, pretty laid-back for the most part, and very loyal.  And even when I was married we had a dog, a little dachshund named Hanz.  He was a good dog, but a bit of a pain in the ass.

But damnit, I'm still not a dog person.  I started to be less polite about it because I realized the statement "you must not have grown up with dogs," actually highlighted a major problem with American political discourse: people have lost the ability to understand differing opinions.

"You must not have grown up with dogs," indicates an assumption from the dog owner that since I do not like dogs, I must not have had the same experiences as the dog owner.  The dog owner is essentially saying "well, if only you had grown up with dogs, then you would assuredly still love dogs."  The dog owner believes this--consciously or subconsciously--because knowing his own love for dogs, he simply cannot fathom that another human being could have been exposed to dogs and somehow not love them.  Do you see where this is going?

"He clearly has never talked to someone who is on welfare, or else he wouldn't want to scale down
welfare.  If only he would talk to these people in poverty, he would want to keep a robust welfare system."

"He must not have ever been exposed to Christianity, or else he would be a Christian.  If only he knew Jesus the way I do, he would love Jesus and be saved."

"If only he had met, or talked with, a gay person, he would not hate homosexuality.  He must be uneducated, because educated people can't believe homosexuality is a sin.  He must not have thought about X, Y, or Z, because if he did, he would believe homosexuality is okay."

"He probably hasn't read the bible, because if he did then he would believe that homosexuality is wrong, because the bible says so.  He's probably not even a real Christian--he's probably one of them Catholics or something."

"He must be ignorant/uneducated/unintelligent/intellectually dishonest, because he doesn't believe in the Liberal message.  Only smart, educated people are capable of understanding liberal ideas."

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but the problem is that nearly everyone believes that their opinions are absolute, objective truth.  It's an exercise in cognitive dissonance on a massive scale because when asked, people will admit that they're not always right and that they're not perfect.  Most people will honestly admit that they do not, in fact, have all the answers.  Yet when people are challenged on their opinions and beliefs, rarely will they admit that they're wrong, and essentially people subconsciously believe that they are always 100% right about their opinions.

Political and intellectual discourse never goes anywhere in America because no one ever bothers to figure out how someone arrived at a conclusion so different from their own.  Instead, all they do is scoff and snicker to each other about how "ignorant" the other side is.  Such attitudes are indicative of what I like to call insular intellectual stagnation.  They are so set in their opinions that they have trapped themselves inside their own minds, and they have rendered themselves incapable of understanding what transpires outside their inner-world.  Newsflash: educated people who study the same information can still arrive at vastly different conclusions.  It happens all the time.

I admit that I am guilty of saying "how the hell can someone actually think this way?"  But thetry to understand how the other person arrived at their conclusion.  I examine their logic to determine if their position makes logical and intellectual sense.  Few people do that anymore, because they're afraid they may have to change their minds.
difference is that I actually

So for anyone who thinks that Republicans are jackasses because of their beliefs (because men like Michael Moore aren't jackesses since their causes are "righteous), perhaps you should stop assuming that you're always right.  I guarantee that if you actually examined the logic behind your ideas, you would see the gaping holes in your belief system.

In a world where everyone is always right, then who the hell is actually wrong?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Freedom of Speech and the Wrong Side of the Tracks

So it would seem that A&E came to its senses and realized that it would be an incredibly bad idea to
suspend Phil Robertson from his own show.  Their move was likely motivated more by ratings potential than Constitutional principle, but it was the right move nonetheless.

So what was the meaning of this scenario?  What have we learned?  Well, for me, this just confirms how monumentally rediculous, hypocritical, and illogical Liberalmerica can be.

Oh right, I forgot that Phil Robertson is an "ignorant bigot," and a "racist."  At least, that's what mainstream Liberalmerica wants me to think.  As usual, Liberalmerica got it way, way wrong by making another failed attempt to frame the discussion around gross misinterpretation.  It's fairly depressing that so many Americans are so incapable of thinking for themselves that they actually bought the crazy Liberalmerica was selling.

Let's get one major factoid straight: Phil Robertson did not engage in hate-speech.  Sorry Liberals, but misquoting and blatantly ignoring the entirety of his words does nothing to damn the man.  Phil Robertson did not say that he hates homosexuals: in fact, he said the exact opposite.  Robertson expressed his thoughts on morality as he sees it.  Just because he thinks a particular lifestyle is immoral and sinful does not mean that he hates anyone.

Liberalmerica seems to have a hard time understanding that concept.  What if Robertson had talked about how he thinks lying is immoral and sinful, and that lying can lead to other terrible things?  Would Liberalmerica assume that Phil Robertson hates liars?  Probably not, but that's only because Liberalmerica has a limited intellectual capability.  They are only capable of engaging in discussion on the premise that their beliefs are universally true.  Since there are likely few Liberals who think lying is actually okay, they could easily accept the message that "lying is wrong," and Liberalmerica would not deem such a message as "hate speech."

Essentially, Liberlamerica only permits freedom of speech when they deem said speech to be unvierally true.  It's a safe bet to assume that most liberals don't believe homosexuality is a sin, and it's a safer bet to assume that many homosexuals are liberal (considering homosexuals aren't very welcomed in Conservative circles).  So when people made a huge deal out of Robertson's words, called it hate-speech, and called for his dismissal from A&E, it's safe to say that Liberalmerica was behind it, and they showed themselves to be intellectually mistaken.

Anyone who has read George Orwell's essay "The Freedom of the Press," would never have called for Robertson's removal, because doing so would be akin to silencing him.  "Liberals are afraid of liberty," Orwell wrote, and they show their fear by attempting to silence speech that is deemed to be unpopular.  If one truly believes in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, then one must allow even awful things to be said so long as those things aren't meant to incite violence and are not blatantly slanderous.

"Well, Jack, freedom of speech also means that I have the freedom to take a shit allover Phil Robertson."  Yes and no.  First of all, to flame Robertson for his views would be an exercise in the intolerance that Liberalmerica claims to combat.  "Tolerance," does not mean you only tolerate like-minded individuals.  Secondly, flaming someone for expressing their views is a method of intimidation, and it is meant to stop him from exercising his freedom of speech.  Intimidation is not an exercise in freedom of speech.

If Americans do not have the safety of expressing their opinions without fear of retribution--in this case, losing your job simply because of your moral convictions--then Freedom of Speech cannot truly exist.  True, I disagree with Robertson's statements, but I didn't call for him to be removed from TV, and if he said those remarks in my presence, I would not have insulted him, nor would I have tried to bully him into silence.

I'm sorry, Liberalmerica, but I don't want a country in which everyone has to agree with your agenda, and those who don't agree need to just sit down and shut up.  The most salient lesson from this is that Liberalmerica proved that they are just as intolerant as their Conservative counterparts.  The sad irony is that Liberals are too entrenched in their pretentious intellectualism to recognize their own hypocrisy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Two traditions here at Christian Fearing God-Man:  "Merry Fucking Christmas," by Denis Leary, and a scantily-clad young woman.

Merry Christmas!!!

Because if Christmas can't be sexy, then what's the point?!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Duck Dynasty Done Dirty? ~By AHB

The Anonymous Howard Beale: The Balrog of Truth
I have watched a few episodes of Duck Dynasty, and yes while I know it is Scriptality TV, it is mildly entertaining to immerse yourself in the mindless maw of the mass media from time to time. For those of you who don't know, Phil Robertson who is more or less the focus of Duck Dynasty gave an interview to GQ where he basically lambasted homosexuals for sinning, and he is now suspended from his own show by A&E. This show in particular is pretty upfront with it's traditional Christian overtones and you are left with little doubt as to what has shaped their supposed opinions. So why is his "Christianity" a problem now? Read on.

Before I get into what the bigger implications are, let me just say I have no problem with the man believing whatever he wants. For now, this place is still America where you have the freedom of expression. While I am an Agnostic and prefer to come to my own conclusions about such monumental insights and tend not to believe verbatim an inflexible and contradictory dogmatic script from nearly 2,000 years ago, I nonetheless do believe in the constitution's first amendment which is a little more current and to put it bluntly; more humane.

The backlash is mostly stemming from GLADD, which is a prominent LBGT advocacy group. They released a statement condemning Phil Robertson for his "Vile and Extreme" comments towards homosexuals, and while I do agree with them up to a point, I draw the line at them being two-faced when it comes to them wanting him silenced, for being a "stain on A&E and their sponsors."

So let me get this straight (pun)... A group of people who use their freedom of speech to share their beliefs has shown public disdain for someone who uses their freedom of speech to share his beliefs? I thought this group was for equality? Maybe they have championed the Feminist definition of equality, where it's only equality when your side benefits.

The real conundrum of all this is... Phil Robertson, GLADD, GQ, and A&E have all made the correct decisions for themselves. Phil Robertson has done nothing wrong other than displaying ignorance with conviction, GLADD was given a golden opportunity to rake him over the coals to further their agenda of thought control, GQ is defending it's profit margins by spawning controversy like any successful media outlet must do, and A&E can choose not to have him as a representative of their network. What the hell sort of mess is this?

I suppose the reason Christians are upset is because they feel Robertson is being punished for simply being Christian, which is not the case. He is being punished because an advocacy group took exception to what he said and stirred the pot, which forced A&E's hand.

Now in a perfect world, all Phil Robertson would have said in the article is his one comment about "not agreeing, but not judging." Instead, he first made comments that homosexuality is akin to bestiality and whoring, and insisted that they could go to hell. Perfect world GQ would have refused to publish the inflammatory section of the interview, but that is just too tame. Perfect world GLADD would have shown disappointment without the drama of trying to silence him, and perfect world A&E would not have given in to hysteria and merely passed on the cost of losing of sponsors to his show or set a time frame for suspension. Alas this is not a perfect world.

As Jackie has posted in the past, it's as if people are addicted to being offended/playing victim. A victim is powerless to change their situation on their own, but what happens when both sides play victim? I know you have heard it before, some dude murders his wife and blames it on his harsh mother, or some chick goes fatal attraction and blames daddy issues. Passing the blame to someone else is quickly becoming the default position.
So who do I deem the victims in all this? A&E as strange as that sounds. The gay advocates won't feel much of a setback to their agenda by his comments, no matter how insensitive they were. Phil Robertson knowingly jumped into a hornets nest and got stung. GQ was licking their lips over the juicy media steak they were just handed. A&E played no part in creating this mess whatsoever, but now is left with the only real mess to clean up. Sort of like Democrats, Republicans, Lobbyists, and then the American people themselves... which one do you think is holding the bag when the deals are done?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Breast Cancer Survivor Picture "Controversy": Grow Up, People

It seems like the main topic of discussion in my mind, lately, is just how hyper-sensitive society is becoming.  It seems like no one can say anything without being called offensive or a bigot.  Hell, apparently it is racially offensive for white girls to dress up in a geisha outfit without first asking for permission from . . . well, I guess from every person of Japanese descent?

But now, the "controversy" is coming from a picture featured in a headline article in the New York Times.  The article was about raising awareness of the high risk of cancer in Israeli women, and their lack of access to gene testing.  That seems like a fairly noble topic of discussion, but the prudes and childish weirdoes got all upset over this photo:

Oh my god!  Women have NIPPLES?!  Why the hell would the New York Times let that cat out of the bag?!  I thought we were all supposed to just pretend that there is nothing but a void underneath women's clothing!

This image was not presented for the purpose of objectifying the woman's breast.  This picture is of an actual breast cancer survivor.  On her left breast is a scar from a lumpectomy.  The picture was meant to be provacative, but not in a sexual way.  But of course, some asshats didn't see it that way.  Some are arguing that the image does objectify this woman because it doesn't show her face (nevermind the fact that the woman wished to remain anonymous).

There are even some people who are claiming that it is offensive because of her star of David tattoo because it "reminds them of the Holocaust."  The woman is proudly Jewish, and she got the tattoo in order to express pride in her heritage.  This is all the better considering the article is about Israeli women (calm down, Jersey, I know that not all Israeli women are Jewish).

But of course, the main controversy is over the fact that her nipple is almost exposed.  Three words:  Jesus.  Fucking.  Christ.  For the life of me, I can't understand why some elements of American society are so uncomfortable with the notion of sexuality that their delicate sensibilities can't even handle a partial breast exposure.

"But Jack, think about the children!"  C'mon, can we please stop pretending like kids have never, ever seen boobs?  Every single one of us can remember a time when we saw a pair of boobs that we probably weren't "supposed" to see.  And as far as I can tell, we're not all a bunch of sexual deviants out to rape each other.

I am all about teaching our children the virtues of being responsible with their sexuality, but I would argue that America's attempt to make children ashamed of their sexuality is harmful.  Instead, we need to teach our children that the human form is a beautiful thing.  The image above is not pornographic, and it is not meant to make its male readers have ants in their pants.  The image is meant to show the beauty of the human form despite nature's best efforts to destroy it.

American society needs to stop acting so damn prudish.  Shying away from a partially exposed breast is beyond childish.  To those whose delicate sensibilities are offended by that photo I say this: Grow up.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! (NSFJ)

As is my tradition, I have included a pic that both objectifies women and offends Native Americans.  What can I say: I love to be efficient!

Happy Thanksgiving!
How could you not be thankful for this?!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Obamacare: The Critcal Flaw ~ by AHB

Forget the website and it's problems, forget the massive health insurance cancellations (of which I am experiencing), forget everything you know and follow my reasoning for just a few moments.

Health insurance does not provide health care, nor does medicaid or medicare. Read that statement again.... and once more. Got it?

Health insurance is an industry, and they don't do business for charity's sake. Basically, health insurance companies wheel and deal for the best prices on medical goods and services and they guarantee payment at those prices. So when you need a 2 week stay in the hospital after a car accident or some such, and the bill comes to 90k, the health insurance people have secured their status as a premium payer, and the hospital facility is all too happy to take the guaranteed funds, and their discount for bulk payment makes their cost more like 60k... for what really should cost 5-10k in any sane world.

Health insurance companies aren't in the health care business, they are in the low ball bill paying business... as well as being in bed with the actual healthcare megacorps. Just like McDonalds corporate isn't in the food business, they make their money by leasing land, franchise rights and supply pricing... so essentially McDonald's themselves is a Real Estate company with brand and purchasing power. They are closer to Chase than they are an independently owned and marketed restaurant, who is ACTUALLY in the food business.

So with that being said, "Affordable Care Act" is a bullshit misnomer, intended to confuse and misdirect. Also, it combines the worst sort of government bureaucracy (Federal) with the worst sort of false capitalism (Corporatism) further saddling my generation and the subsequent ones with crushing legacy debt of which there is no sign of yielding.

We already have a form of free healthcare in the United States, it just sucks. If you stroll up to the ER with your arm hanging on by a vein, they have to admit you and treat you, per federal law. What happens when you can't pay later? In short, nothing. You may be hounded by bill collectors and what not, but in the end you got free health care, and the hospital largely has to absorb that.

You want affordable health care? Make health care itself affordable, not the insurance. For starters, you have to severely curtail the litany of malpractice lawsuits, promote a healthier lifestyle and the prevention of problems in the first place. You are never going to get to a place where the ER and other emergency services are not required, but you can ward off the vast majority of preventable complications by simply taking personal responsibility. Don't reward doctors for loading up the shotshell of drugs and seeing which one sticks, outlaw kickbacks, and force the market to be competitive by it's own merit and not by which megacorp it has in it's network.

I am sure somehow this is all George W. Bush's fault.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Concert at Yale University this Evening

I am a big supporter of the work of my good friend, James Rubino.  He is a composer, a second year graduate student at Yale.

One of his pieces will be performed tonight at 8:00 PM EST.  I have heard a bit of it already, and in keeping with the tradition of his personal style, it is rather interesting.  His piece, This Brutal Flesh, I believe will be the final piece on the bill for the students.  The second half of the concert features guest composer Donnacha Dennehy.

Here is the link for the livestream:

Isn't technology wonderful!  Please support my friend and his work, and support the arts in general by giving it a listen!

Friday, November 8, 2013

More "Offensive" Stuff: The Coachella Valley High School Arabs

Why is it that typically, American society is only concerned about caricatures of people of color?  I don't see Yahoo! News plastered with stories about movements to change Notre Dame's mascot, the Fighting Irishman.  Surely that is an "offensive" stereotype of Irish people.  All we get are people upset over the Braves, Indians, the Chiefs, and now this . . . the Coachella Valley High School Arabs.

At first, I didn't think this was real, but apparently it is.  "The Arab," has been the school mascot since the 1930s.  Now, people are demanding that the mascot be changed because the depiction of Arabs is stereotypical and "offensive."  Consider these remarks made regarding the mascot's offensiveness.
"The image of the Coachella Valley High School mascot depicts a man with a large nose, heavy beard, and wearing a Kaffiay, or traditional Arab head covering. It has come to our attention that during sporting events and school functions, a student dressed as this figure, makes an appearance."
 Let's break this down, bit by bit, shall we?  First:

"The image of the Coachella Valley High School mascot depicts a man with a large nose . . ."

So apparently, facial features common to a particular group of people is somehow offensive to depict?  What about white men with big noses?  How about Wake Forrest's "Demon Deacon"?

This guy has a big nose.  He also has a big chin, which is something that is very common amongst caucasian-looking mascots.  Should I be offended by the stereotype that white men all have big chins?  True: not all Arabs have big hook noses, but lets face facts: a lot of them do.  It's not racist, it's just a fact.  Most white men have brown eyes.  Is that racist now?  Most black people have brown eyes.  Also racist?

Next up: "heavy beard . . ." right, because we've never seen Arabs with heavy beards.  That's just a stereotype!

God, we are so insensitive by depicting people as they are!  But wait, it gets better, because the CVHS mascot is also seen "wearing a Kaffiay, or traditional Arab head covering"!  THE OUTRAGE!!!

Uh-oh.  This guy has a big nose, a beard
and he's wearing a kaffiya!  Someone call
the PC police!!!

Sure, the mascot is cartoonish, but that's okay.  It's not like no Arab has ever looked like that mascot.  The principal at the high school stated that until 9/11, no one called for the school to remove their mascot.  Is the mascot in bad taste?  Sure it is: but all mascots are meant to be ridiculous.  Why does the Fighting Irishman even exist?  Because the Irish are notorious for being feisty (even moreso when they're drunk).

White Americans are lampooned all the time.  We're made fun of because we are perceived as being bourgie, or even better we're often depicted as being ignorant red necks.  To other cultures in other countries, all white Americans are moonshiners, and we all live in the hollars of West Virginia.  How is that for a stereotype?  The stereotype exists because those people actually exist.  But you don't see white people getting all offended by it.

Are Turks everywhere calling for an end to the USC Trojan?  Are Greek Americans storming the gates to oust the Michigan State Spartan?  How come labor unions aren't protesting the Purdue Boilermakers for making a whimsical image of the average American working-class man of old?

The inherent problem with this is that the groups of people getting upset over mascots are the same groups that espouse the notion of "cultural equality," the idea that no culture is superior to another.  I subscribe to that idea, but the problem with their logic is that by claiming their culture should never, ever be lampooned or caricaturized, while not also calling for an end to the mockery of white American culture, they have contradicted themselves and shown their true colors.  They don't really care about other cultures: they just care about their own.

White men who only care about white American culture are often called "racists," and "bigots," and "ignorant."  So why are those same names not applied to an Arab who despises my culture and is not interesting in learning anything about me?

Maybe other cultures need to develop a sense of humor and stop taking themselves so seriously.  All I want is a world in which people can take a damn joke.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Letters to a Democrat: I'm not the Bad Guy

Albert Camus serves as the inspiration of
the letter format.

It has been some time since I last wrote you, but I can see that there is still much animosity in your heart.  It saddens me that you treat me so derisively simply because we disagree on the direction our country needs to take.

Don't get me wrong: I find many of your solutions to be woefully devoid of logic, and I often make claims that your ideas are based on whim rather than factual evidence.  It can be frustrating, but I try my best to temper my frustration so that we may continue to converse in a civil fashion.  Why can you not afford the same courtesy to me?

Sometimes I call your ideas "ridiculous," but I try not to call you ridiculous.  I am guilty of "attacking" what I perceive to be the bungled logicality of your ideas, but I don't assume that you are unintelligent simply because you disagree with me.  This is because I understand what it is to be mistaken: I've bought into some really bad ideas myself; so I make every effort to avoid a chastising tone in our discourse.

Despite all of that, you constantly subject me to a barrage of personal insults.  When you buy into an idea that I find particularly ridiculous, I think to myself "well, it must be that his passions on the subject are clouding his judgment."  When I buy into an idea that you find particularly ridiculous, you seem to think "well, only an idiot would believe that, so Jack must be an idiot."

This is a problem.

The solution would be attainable if it was as simple as convincing you that opposition to your personal world-view is not the deciding criteria on what constitutes intellectual incompetence.  Surely you must see that it is unrealistic to believe that you possess all of the answers, and everyone who disagrees with you is clearly too stupid to understand anything.  But even if you cannot comprehend that fact, still you would not be a lost cause.  The problem is much more serious than intellectual myopia.

You believe that I am the enemy.  You believe that those who think like me are heartless dimwits, devoid of compassion and a sense of justice.

I am not the enemy.  I am a man who believes that every human being deserves to live a life free in a just society.  I have made a career choice to help society's most vulnerable citizens, and to help my fellow man lift himself up from the depths of despair so that I can help him achieve his highest level of independence.  While most of your cohorts simply talk about poverty and welfare on internet forums--as if solving the problem of American policy is just a matter of spending more money--I actually help people on a daily basis.

While you sit smugly in your tower believing me to be the enemy--childishly calling me names, questioning my integrity, and judging the heart of a man you have never even met--ironically you have been serving the true enemy the whole time.

Who is the real enemy?  The real enemy is whoever convinced you that your ideological opposition seeks to destroy America by turning it into some anarchic wasteland of poverty and broken dreams.  Perhaps the enemy is your party masters.  Perhaps you are your own worst enemy.  Your incessant condemnation limits your ability to think freely, and all I want to do is free your mind.

If I were the enemy, then why would I work so hard to promote your intellectual freedom?  Perhaps it's time you redefine what you think it means to be the enemy.  Be careful though, as you may not like what you discover.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Liberal Hypocrisy: Claiming Ignorance

Most people can remember how much flak George W. Bush took while in office.  Only time will tell the true impact of everything he did while in office, but it should suffice to say that there were some mistakes made while he was at the helm.

The one thing that sticks out in my mind, however, is how many liberals called GWB a "war criminal," especially when word got out about Abu Ghraib.  When the photos of American soldiers mistreating prisoners of war surfaced, there was a goodly number of liberals who called for the President's head.  To me, the notion that GWB should have to answer for the actions of some dumbass soldiers always seemed ridiculous.

"It's not like he knew about it," I always said.  "We both know that GWB didn't authorize torture in Abu Ghraib.  So how is it his fault that some asshole soldiers went rogue and broke the law?"  The response to my question--which in my mind was of the rhetorical nature given the simplicity of the concept--was almost always this:

"Ignorance is no excuse."

I get the sentiment, that the captain always goes down with his ship.  It's supposed to be a matter of honorable leadership.  But I know that the fools calling for GWB's head weren't looking at it that way, no matter how hard they insisted that to be the case.  Here's how I know.

Should the captain go down with his ship when, say, some idiot sailor thinks it's a good idea to crack open the jet fuel pipes in the JP5 pump room and light a match?  Should the captain willingly allow himself to die--sinking with his ship, as that scenario would no doubt scuttle even the sturdiest of warship--because someone was too stupid to follow the rules?  No rational person would ever suggest that the captain should sacrifice his life on the account of some asshole who made a ridiculous mistake.

And no, the captain would not be tried for destruction of government property.  So why did so many people insist that GWB be tried for something that A) He didn't do, and B) Had no knowledge of?  Why was pleading ignorance not a viable enough excuse for him?  It's because for liberals, honor and responsibility was never the true motivation.  They had a vendetta against GWB, and they wanted to punish him for everything, regardless of whether or not it was his fault.

That's all well and good.  I can relate to a good vendetta.  But for the love of God:  don't be such blatant, hypocritical assholes about it.  I am referencing the big NSA debacle that has been unfolding, particularly the details surrounding America's purported spying of Angela Merkel and other allied world leaders.  When the first headlines hit the newsmedias, what was the immediate response from the White House?

"The President didn't know."

Well I'm sorry Mr. President, but according to the very people who no-doubt voted for you and continue to support you to this day, the captain always goes down with his ship.  So if GWB deserves to stand trial for what happened at Abu Ghraib, then President Obama should be held responsible for spying on our allies.  More importantly, the President deserves to stand trial for the NSA's illicit intelligence collection against US citizens.

Democrats are no more pragmatic and logical than the Republicans.  They care more about vendettas and ideological cheer leading than they care about silly things like honor, integrity, and accountability.  Just like the most ardently die-hard conservative Republican, the Democrats only care about accountability when the opposition screws up.  When they screw up, it's all okay because, you know, they were only trying to help people.

So to all of you foaming-at-the-mouth Democrats, please take this advice.  Stop idolizing your political heroes, and come back to the realm of reality.  We, as a nation, can accomplish so much more if you would only take an objective look at the world around you, and if you would stop pretending that your illogical ideas will solve any of our problems.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Politically Correct: Do Indians Dress Up as Themselves for Halloween?

Some may find this offensive, I find it hilarious.
As if it wasn't bad enough that we can no longer say whatever we want about whatever we want, those who want to limit freedom of speech through the crusade of Political Correctness have turned their sights to Halloween costumes.

I read an article a few weeks ago about how some Native Americans don't think it's right for people to dress up as the Indians of old, i.e. the Native Americans who lived in North America before the 20th Century.  Their reasoning?  They say that it demeans their culture and makes a mockery of it.  That idea is both laughable and retarded.

First off, it is fact that items like a feathered head-dress and moccasins were, in fact, worn by Native Americans.  True, they didn't roll in the ceremonial garb every damn day, but yes, they wore that stuff.  "But Jack, those weren't costume items to them.  It meant something!"  True, but wrapping a corpse up in bandages meant something to Ancient Egyptian culture, but we don't complain about people dressing up as mummies on Halloween.

Are we saying that it's okay to dress in costume of another culture so long as those cultural elements have been out of practice for a couple thousand years?  Is it okay to "mock or demean" a culture so long as there is no one left alive who practices said culture?

Well, the next time I see someone dress up as a pilgrim, I'll remember to tell them how insensitive they're being to my cultural past.  Or if I see someone in a Roman centurion outfit, I'll say "hey, man!  The Romans were super-serial about how their soldiers dressed!  You shouldn't make fun of them like that!"

Gimme a break.

I suppose that I find the double-standard more frustrating than anything.  This is how free speech and political correctness work in America: it's okay for people of color to mock white people, but it is a hate crime for white people to make fun of people of color.

If you think that people of color do not hold demeaning stereotypes of white people in their hearts, then please do yourself a favor, and remove your head from your rectum.  When a black comedian cracks a joke about white stereotypes, the crowd laughs.  But what if a white guy cracks a joke about, say, Mexican stereotypes?  It's an outrage!  He's insensitive!  He's perpetuating racial stereotypes!  He's offensive!  HE'S A RACIST!

Sure, white people spent the better part of human history being complete assholes to other human beings on the basis of skin color.  But that doesn't mean that every white person alive today should be shat on just because their ancestors shit on everyone else.  If people are truly interested in a more politically correct society--if they truly want American expression to be less offensive--then words like "cracka," and "honkey," need to be bleeped out on TV, just like the N-word and other racial slurs.  Otherwise, PC is just being used as an excuse to permit people of color to engage in the same unjust behavior as a retributive privilege for years of white oppression.

But I have a better solution:  how about we stop trying to hinder free expression?  I'm not asking black people to stop feeling hurt and offended when someone legit calls them the N-word.  What I am asking is that we stop pretending that certain things are offensive just because a couple hundred asshats can't get over the fact that the dress of their ancestors is out of place enough to be costume-worthy in modern society.

Go ahead and get upset that Julianne Hough wore blackface because she wanted to go as a black TV character for Halloween--but don't ask for an apology.  She shouldn't have to apologize just because she offended the sensitive feelings of someone she's never even met.  Perhaps you need to examine your own thoughts and feelings, and figure out why you would even allow yourself to be upset over something that has zero bearing on your life.

But I guess personal responsibility, self-examination, and asking people to recognize that their feelings are not, in fact, the center of the universe is just asking too much.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Move-Up or Move-On: Stop Complaining about Your McJob Conclusion

Clearly, nothing stops Vladimir
Putin from pursuing his career
I know that a lot of what I have said up to this point may sound like an awful lot of over-generalizing, so
allow me to make some clarifications.

First, I know that not everyone who works at McDonald's is a loser or some product of the welfare lifestyle.  The economy being what it has been in the past 5 years, a job is a job.  I always felt that working in a call center was beneath me, that I was meant for bigger things.  I still believe that, and not because I think the job itself carries some sort of inferior status, but because I know that such a job is way below my skill sets.  With the way the department was set up, I knew that I couldn't move up, so I moved on.

When I worked as a job coach at my previous place of employment, I enjoyed the work and it was challenging.  I felt like I was making a real difference in people's lives, and I knew that I was a huge benefit to the company; it was small, so I had a sense that I was making meaningful contributions to the bottom line.  However, the pay was not enough, and I could not consistently get 40 hours per week due to the nature of how the company is funded.  I also did everything I could to move up, but I was ultimately passed over for the supervisor position.  So I moved on.

The McDonald's employees who are complaining about their wages are not people like me.  People like me--and I would argue that most Americans are like this--either move up or move out.  The complainers are either not marketable because of their lack of experience and/or credentials, or they have given up and consigned themselves to work at fast food.

These are not the types of people who deserve to be paid $15 an hour.

If you know that you have an impressive resume, and you know that you have valuable skill sets, then you need to focus on moving on.  Micky-Dee's is just a transitional phase, and so long as you treat it as such, you will have no problem moving on.  If you really want to stick with fast food, then do your best to move up.  Be the best fry cook you can be.  Show off your leadership skills.  Volunteer for the extra-shit jobs that no one else wants to do.  Eventually, you'll be in a supervisory or management position.

If you're young and still haven't had illegitimate children then please, keep your legs closed and keep it in your pants (or at the very least, just spring for some protection).  If it's too late--if you already have a little mouth to feed--don't panic.  Be the best worker you can be, and continue to look towards moving up or moving on.  If you don't have a high school diploma, then go get your GED.  Although I can't speak for all locales, I know that GED classes in Columbus are free through the Columbus City School district.

If you do have a high school diploma, then consider completing some college-level training to become certified in something.  Healthcare continues to boom, and I can tell you right now that becoming an STNA (State Tested Nursing Aide) is not difficult to obtain.

The people complaining about their shitty McJobs are people who either A) Don't know that there ARE options or B) Are too lazy to pursue a better life on their own.  That's why I have no sympathy, and neither should anyone else.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Move-up or Move-On: Stop Crying about Your Crappy McJob Part II

I don't fault the victims of the recession for needing to get a crappy McJob.  Layoffs affected a lot of good"move-up or move-on." people, and you gotta do what you gotta do.  I only fault them for not trying to

But there is another group of people complaining, and they are in a different situation.  Some of the whiners are those who actually have no other valuable skill sets, and they have to take a McJob because they are otherwise unmarketable.  In many cases, these are people who also have families and claim that their dependent status should net them more income.

Two words:  No.  Sympathy.

I work with this demographic every single day, and I can tell you from personal experience, that most of them have one thing in common: they had kids when they shouldn't have.  Surprisingly, there aren't a whole lot of teen moms that come through the doors.  These are usually women in their early twenties.  Most of them are unmarried, and the father of their child is not in their life.

You can see it in their face: most of them realize they made a really poor decision.  Yet for some reason, they still think they should be paid more just because they didn't use protection.  "This is not a living wage!  I can't raise my baby on $7.85 an hour!"

Some more personal experience.  I had my first child when I was young, about the same age as many of these kids coming in the doors.  I believe I was 21 at the time.  But there is a key difference between me starting a family at 21 and "Shaquayla" starting a family at 21: I had a job that paid very, very well (at the time I was an E-5 in the Navy), and I had my son with a woman to whom I was married (and I say that because there was a reasonable expectation that she wouldn't abandon our son and me).

When we got married, we both agreed that we would not have children unless we were reasonably certain that we could financially support them.  Granted, it wasn't long after we married that we decided to start a little family, but that was because we soon realized that I was bringing in more than enough money to feed a third mouth.

"But Jack, it only hurts the kids.  This sort of poverty is generational, and their children will have no chance to succeed if they are subjected to living in near poverty."  That mentality is a load of horse-shit.

Yes: this sort of poverty--the perpetual welfare cycle--is generational.  And yes: most of these children will have no chance to succeed.  But it's not because mom can't pay the bills: it's because mom is already too stupid to teach her children any better.

Jersey, before you jump down my throat and tell me how "wrong" I am, just know that I am speaking from direct interaction with this demographic.  The fact is that they were stupid enough to get knocked up.  They were raised to depend on welfare.  They are uneducated, and they truly believe--in their heart of hearts--that the way they are living their life is okay.  They truly believe that their pay-scale is/should be based on their family size rather than their pay-scale being based on their individual contributions to the workforce.

It's not that they're lazy. (Yes, a majority of them are, but there are some very diligent workers in need of assistance).  It's just that they have an inflated sense of self-value in the workforce.  One time, a woman came in here and was upset over something, and she scoffed at us (the people trying to help her) saying "I could get a job in a health care field right now and make twice as much as all of you."  We laughed, because she didn't even have a GED--let alone any specialized training in anything that related to health care--and if she truly were marketable in healthcare, she wouldn't be on cash assistance.

But she was dead serious.  And if she knew that she was full of shit (perhaps she was using a defense mechanism) then that would still be just as bad because she clearly does not possess a marketable demeanor.  So, these kids aren't going to turn out to be shit heads because McDonald's doesn't pay the cashier $15 an hour: they're going to turn out to be shit heads because their parents are raising them to be shit heads.

So again, I'm sorry, but I have little sympathy.  The people in this demographic are constantly looking for hand-outs because that is what they have been taught.  They come from generations of Americans who discovered that their poor life choices would be paid for by the American tax-payer.  They don't know any better, because no one ever taught them anything about hard work and perseverance.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Move-Up or Move-On: Stop Crying about Your Crappy McJob Part I

Complaining about minimum wage jobs seems to be all the rage these days.  In the past week, I've seen
several articles on this topic specifically targeted at the fast food industry--McDonald's seems to be the most popular punching bag in this case.  In this series, I will address a few different angles on this issue.  Today's post is going to be geared towards the people who have been boned by the new economy: the overqualified, unlucky sod who got laid off from a decent job and now has no choice but to get a low-wage, entry-level job to support his/her family.

The essential gripe is that fast food workers are angry that they are not paid enough, that minimum wage is not a "living wage."  They argue that while McDonald's is making record sales, the CEO pulls in about $13.7 million as a salary, and the company is growing, they should get a bigger piece of the pie.

How much bigger do they think their slice should be?  These people are insisting that they be paid a "living wage," of $15 an hour.


I recently made a job change to a company that deals in workforce development.  My position is considered entry-level, but it has a minimum requirement of a bachelor's degree in social work with no prior experience, or a bachelor's degree with 1-3 years prior experience in workforce development.  What do I get paid for my entry-level position?  $33,000 a year, which roughly works out to about $15.85 an hour.

So you can imagine my incredulity when the drive-thru worker at McDonald's demands he/she be paid nearly as much as me.  Like my position, the job of "crew member," is considered entry-level, but it should be painfully obvious that there is a huge difference between the two positions.

Why should someone who flips burgers and sticks some fries into a deep fryer get paid just as much as me?  "Well Jack, because of the new, crappy economy, many overqualified people have no choice but to take these low-paying jobs.  And these people have families they have to support."  So what?  Are we arguing that pay-scale should be based on whether or not you have a family?  I have a family, so does that mean I should be paid $30/hr instead of $15.85?

Some people need to face the facts: you are paid according to the difficulty of the work you do and the availability of a replacement should you decide to quit.  If you work a job that requires minimal brain function, that is entry level, and has a nearly endless applicant pool, then you are going to be paid minimum wage.  This is why doctors and architects make the big bucks.  This is why you can expect to make $100k+ a year if you run a nuclear power plant: because the skill set is astronomically complex, and there aren't many people who can do it.

If you don't like being paid minimum wage, then do what everyone else has done: better yourself and work towards moving on to a more prosperous career.  Towards the end of my high school career, I knew that I didn't want to go to college right away, but I also knew that I didn't want a McJob.  So what did I do?  I joined the Navy.

After a pretty successful 4-year stint in the Navy, I decided that it wasn't for me.  I wanted a career that wouldn't require me to leave my family all the time.  So what did I do?  I got out and went to college--and yes, I had to raise and support a family while I was in college.  In that time, I worked during the summers with a youth employment program, and I tutored during the school year.  I didn't have to do any of this, but it helped to build my resume.

There wasn't a whole lot of meaningful work to do when I graduated college.  So what did I do?  I got a crappy, entry-level job in a call center (Nationwide Children's Hospital).  I wanted to gouge my eyes out working in a call center.  So what did I do?  I used my network of peoples, and I found a job as a job coach.

I wasn't getting paid enough in that job, and the hours weren't steady.  So what did I do?  I put in some job applications, and I found a job that would pay me more for doing less (at least, I think this job is easier than my last one).  What I do is not glamorous, and $33,000 a year is less than what first-year teachers make, but here's the key to my career trajectory: I don't plan on staying in this entry-level position forever.  My current position will serve as a springboard for the rest of my career.  Either I eventually will move up in this company into a supervisory/management position, or I will use the years of experience as an excellent resume point.

So if you're stuck in a McJob and you truly are meant for bigger and better-paying things, then you will move up or move on.  If not, then perhaps the only job you deserve is making chili-cheese burritos at Taco Bell.  In today's economy, your career success is impacted by your ability to build yourself towards your ultimate career goal.  Don't expect a hand-out from people who have been there--people who have struggled, just like you, but instead of asking to be paid more, they worked hard to better their situations.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: My Analysis

Jersey actually presented me with a study about the notion of decriminalizing drug use. The study focuses on Portugal's decriminalization of drug use in 2001. The study claims that the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal--all drugs, as the study makes no distinction between "hard and soft drugs,"--has had positive effects. The study has some merit to it, but I think that much of the data has been taken out of context. Here is my analysis.

The first data point that I have a problem with is the citation/prosecution rate of drug use. the study says that citations and prosecutions of drug use has decreased dramatically since decriminalization. Well, duh. Jersey mentioned this the other day: if we decriminalize it, then fewer people will be prosecuted. No shit, Sherlock. That's like saying "if speed limits are removed, there will be fewer speeding tickets issued."

In fairness, the study does mention that some people say the reason for fewer citations (because drugs are considered an administrative offense, not criminal) has decreased because it simply is not worth the time of the cops to issue a citation for something that is now considered a minor offense. The cops would rather go after law-breakers who commit bigger crimes that result in criminal prosecution. This data point seems incredibly useless.

It seems even more useless when you consider what the study calls the rate of "life-long drug use." According to the findings, reported life-long drug use increased between 2001 - 2006. In each increase, the study claims that it was only a slight to moderate increase. The explanation for this is that the increase is because of a generation that had greater access and experimentation than the previous generation--so the reports of life-long drug use would naturally be higher.

The problem I have with this is that the increase of prevalent drug use only decreased in the age groups between 13-15. Age group 16-18 had a net increase of 7% (there was about a 10% initial increase, but then it declined to 7%). The problem I have with the study is that the study claims that the "most important age group" is the 13-15 age group, so the study says that decriminalization has worked because that age group benefited. What if the 16-18 crowd had decreased in reported drug use? Would the 16-18 crowd then be suddenly considered "the most important age group"?  Plus, one of the charts seems to throw in the 13-15 crowd into what is considered the "key age group" of 13-19.  That shows a decrease in drug use.  But if you look at drug use from age 16-24, the increase is pretty significant.  The increase is fairly significant even from 16-19.

And just as a reminder: age groups from 19 and up all increased, even though slightly.

The next point I have a problem with is the decrease in arrests for distribution, and here's why: how many people who were arrested for drug use and faced criminal prosecution turned in their dealer in exchange for a lighter sentence? If fewer users are being pressured to turn in dealers, then it could make it harder to catch the dealers, thus resulting in less distributor prosecutions. The statistics show that there was an overall increase in drug use, so there is no evidence suggesting that there is a shortage of drugs or that there are fewer people dealing drugs.

The study also says that there has been an Increase in people seeking treatment. I don't recall the study ever mentioning any hard statistical data about the increase of people seeking treatment. The only way that this would be at all significant is if the increase of people seeking treatment far outweighs the increase of drug use. Otherwise, one could say that it's obvious there are more people seeking treatment because there are more people using drugs.

Finally, why did opiate related deaths decrease from 400 to 300 BEFORE decriminalization? The study openly admits that drug related deaths began to decrease before decriminalization, but it doesn't offer an explanation. Does this suggest that drug related deaths were already on the downward trend before decriminalization? Yes, there was a dramatic decrease in drug related deaths between 2001 - 2002, but the rate held steady from 2002 - 2004 and then increased in 2005. The problem I have is that the study does not include drug related deaths after 2005. Why?

Perhaps my analysis of the data is wrong, but this is how I interpreted the information given to me. So far, I don't find this to be very convincing. This is not me being obstinate, or me just rationalizing. I think I have asked some very good questions. The evidence is not so cut-and-dry. Sure, Portugal's current rates of drug use are lower than in the US, but the study shows that Portugal's drug use rates increased after decriminalization. And since the increase was only "slight" according to the study, this means that drug use in Portugal was already much lower than in the United States when drug use was a criminal offense in both countries.

And I found this link interesting. This comes from the US government's analysis of the data. What I find interesting is that this analysis also highlights many of the issues that I brought up in my own analysis. And just so you know I read this link AFTER I wrote this article.  To me, this confirms that some of the information presented in the study is misleading.  If anyone has any updated information, that would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay" Conclusion

Do I think that current drug laws are perfect?  No.  Marijuana is probably over-regulated, and society would not likely fall apart if it were legalized in the US.  A law that prevents someone from using an incredibly destructive substance is not an arbitrary law: it is a law that is meant to protect people.

And yes, some people need to be protected from themselves, because they lack the capacity to make responsible decisions.  Case in point: it's no secret that it is easy to become addicted to heroin, and heroin will ruin your life . . . yet people still do it.

If you are caught selling drugs, you will go to jail, and it will ruin your life . . . yet people still do it.

Tell the child of a drug addict that everything is okay, because drug abuse is a "victimless crime."  Tell the parents of a crack head that it's all going to be alright, because "it's his choice to destroy himself."  The next time you complain about taxes being so high, remind yourself that you shouldn't be mad because the money someone gets for disability--because drug addiction is considered a disability--is well spent, because you're just funding their ability to be free.

Go find a junkie and pat him on the back and tell him "congratulations, you're exercising your right to kill yourself!"

People should be free to run their lives as they see fit, but not at the expense of everyone else.  Anti-drug law proponents seem to think that the only related cost of drug abuse comes from the enforcement of drug laws.  The truth is that most people who argue in favor of complete drug legalization simply do not know the cost of cleaning up a junkie's mess.

If you believe that all drugs should be legalized, then I have a few questions for you.  How many junkies have you met?  How much time have you spent in low-income areas in which drug addiction is rampant?

If you truly believe that drug addiction is a victimless crime, then my guess is that you may not have much experience in working with that particular population.  Just an observation from someone who has experience working with them.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay" Part 2

People have the right to ingest whatever substances they want, and it's not the government's business to tell them otherwise.

There can be an argument for that.  For instance, I would not appreciate the government regulating how much I'm allowed to eat every day simply because eating too much might make me fat.

Yes, people should have control over their lives, and that would mean that people should be allowed to destroy themselves if they so wish.  But I have to ask: do you enjoy footing the bill for the irresponsibility of your fellow man?

How many hard core drug addicts do you know are able to hold a steady job?  Addicts have jobs, but they are more likely to land themselves in unemployment-land.  And if they have children, guess who gets to pay their bills and their rent?  You, the tax payer, because those unemployed addicts will go on welfare.

Just as well, there IS such a thing as drug violence that has nothing to do with gangs or organized crime.  Do we really believe that no one has ever killed someone because they didn't have enough money to get their next fix?  Drug addicts have never committed robberies or anything like that?  I guess we're just supposed to believe that junkies are really just kind-hearted, docile people who keep to themselves.

Well, if you believe that, then keep living in Candyland while the rest of us try to deal with the destructive reality of drug abuse.

So yes, philosophically, people should retain the right to destroy themselves.  But since humans do not live in individual vacuums, self-destruction often has an associated cost to the ones they love and to society as a whole.  So no: drug abuse is not a victimless crime.

Drug laws carry stiff penalties that ruin lives.

When I was a job coach, I knew a guy who had served 5 years in prison for a drug charge.  He is a hard worker, and he would be successful in anything he does.  But of course, because he has a felony drug charge on his record, he has a hard time finding a job.

What I found interesting about this man is how he approached his situation.  He never once said to me that the drug laws are unfair.  He never once told me that he thinks drugs should be legalized, and that he is somehow a victim of an unfair system.  Instead, he took responsibility for his actions and expressed his eternal wish that he never sold drugs in the first place.

Selling drugs is like giving a kid a gun.  It's irresponsible.  It's immoral.  Drug dealers enable addicts to feed their addiction and further destroy their lives.  They profit off of the misery of others.  Forgive me for being a "moralist," but I think it's safe to say that there is something very wrong with that.

So do I think it's wrong to severely punish someone who makes his money by contributing to the addition of destruction and misery to the world?  No.  I'm going to go on record here and say this: drug dealers are scum, and the ones who are caught are justly punished.

A drug dealer actively contributes to the ruination of lives, so why shouldn't his life be ruined in return?  I subscribe to the notion of Aristotelian justice: render unto each what each is due.  If you help someone destroy his life, then you can't cry when your life is destroyed in return.

That's not moral absolutism (in case anyone is confused).  That's justice.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

"Drugs are bad, mmkay?" Part 1

AHB's article about the Socratic Method sparked an unexpected, but very well
executed, debate about the efficacy of drug laws in the United States.

My official stance on the "War on Drugs":  it has largely been a failure.  But do I think that means that because drug laws are difficult and costly to enforce, we should strike them from the books altogether?

No.  I've heard all the arguments.

"Prohibition leads to black markets and organized crime."

"Cigarettes and alcohol are drugs, and both are more addictive and result in more deaths every year than illegal drugs.  So why are those drugs legal, but others aren't?"

"People have the right to ingest whatever substances they want, and it's not the government's business to tell them otherwise."

And a new one that I've heard recently:  "these laws carry penalties that ruin lives."

Of course, that is not an exhaustive list of anti-drug law arguments, but those seem to be the most common--at least in my experience.  So let's take some time to examine those arguments.

Prohibition leads to black markets and organized crime.

I will concede to that fact.  So in theory, if all drugs were legalized, then we should expect to see a decline in drug related violence perpetrated by organized crime.  People who make that argument are making a naive assumption: that people in organized crime are rational, civilized human beings, and not the type of people that will behead 100 women and children just to make a point.

If terrorists are willing to blow up a school bus full of children for an idea, then what makes you think that the cartel lords are above blowing up a legal, commercial meth lab in order to protect their monetary interests?  Money is an extremely powerful source of motivation, and the drug lords have shown that they will commit unspeakable horrors just to maintain and expand their profit margins.

Think lifting prohibition will stop the madness?  Dream on.

Cigarettes and alcohol are drugs, and both are more addictive and result in more deaths every year than illegal drugs.  So why are those drugs legal, but others aren't?

That one is usually a rhetorical question, but it's pretty flimsy.  Cigarettes are destructive, but in order for a human body to fully manifest the full destructive power of smoking tobacco, one would have to smoke regularly and heavily for many, many years.  Even people who have smoked since they were teenagers live to their 50s and 60s.  It takes decades of smoking cigarettes in order to destroy your life.

Want to venture a guess of how long it takes for habitual meth use to kill the average human?  Five to seven years.

Some drugs are prohibited because they are irredeemably destructive and highly addictive.  As far as I know, I've never heard of anyone that had to go to rehab in order to quit smoking.  Many people quit cold turkey, some use the patches or gum.  It's not easy to kick the habit, but it's certainly manageable without treatment.

It's not impossible to kick something like meth, or coke, or heroine.  However, it's common experiential knowledge that nearly all addicts will require some form of treatment in order to conquer their addiction and stay clean.

And alcohol.  Just like the hard drugs, you can kill yourself in one night by ingesting too much alcohol.  It impairs your ability to function, and it can be addictive.  However, alcohol in moderation has proven health benefits.  There is no amount of heroine that is beneficial to human physiology.

There's a reason that cigarettes are age controlled: because they wreck the human body, and no one wants their children to smoke.  Why should some drugs remain prohibited?  Because it's all about the children.

In my line of work, I've met many drug addicts and children of drug addicts.  I've seen, first hand, how destructive drugs are.  So I think to myself: do I want these drugs to be more easily accessible to my own children?  No.  Say what you want, but no parent who isn't completely retarded would ever say "yeah, I would be okay with my kid trying crystal meth.  Life is all about experimentation!"

Stay tuned for part 2.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Analyzing Internal Logic with the Socratic Method - AHB

The Real Howard Beale
For the unitiated, AHB stands for "The Anonymous Howard Beale."  He's an anon poster here, and a personal friend.  He and I both love The Network, and I've said before that he could easily be a Howard Beale-type person in real life, because he speaks the truth and is unafraid of telling people what they don't want to hear--so since he posts anon, I dubbed him "The Anonymous Howard Beale."  Occasionally, he writes articles for this blog to speak his mind and give me a break.  So without further ado, please enjoy another piece by the Anonymous Howard Beale.

The Socratic Method of reasoning is widely considered to be the blueprint Scientific Method was

You don't need another person to debate against to make this method work, you can test it against yourself. For instance... when I hear a particularly illogical sounding argument, my first instinct is to test it against what I feel/know to be true. Then I do something very few people these days do, I embrace the illogical argument and attempt to make a case for it.

"Putting yourself in their shoes" is not entirely possible, but you can at least make an attempt to frame your own logic around their argument. If your first step is to embrace their point of view, and you cannot adequately make a case for it, then you can use that information to make the opposite claim (your original gut instinct) and reinforce it.

For instance, the gun control debate. For me this is a very simple and basic circumstance of trying to legislate submission. Whenever I would try and frame my argument from the standpoint of "PRO GUN CONTROL" I would run into massively inconsistent data. I first tried to champion the reasoning of "way more gun control means way less gun violence"... which I found to be demonstrably unprovable.
built upon. In a nutshell, it is a way of debating and asking questions to distill information down to a low level, in the hopes of fully understanding a subject to the best of your ability to understand it.

"Guns are not required to protect yourself" is another line of reasoning I tried to see through, and it turns out to have a bit of truth to it. The #1 way to make your home instantly safer from intruders is... a dog. The presence of even a small dog completely undermines the shit out of home invasions. Turns out, criminals don't like it when they are trying to commit crime and a dog is yapping on the other side of the door, alerting everyone in earshot.

Then of course I came to the conclusion that a dog would not protect me from an apache helicopter, an abrams MBT, or highly trained marines implementing martial law, and while a single gun isn't adequate protection either against these threats, 100,000,000 guns is. My hope would be by the time they got to me, they would be so battle weary over having to slug it out door to door, street by street that I could take a few down on my way out, making it easier for the next poor bastard that is up next on the list. In the end, Freedom isn't free, and a firearm is just a machine. It has no mystical power or will of it's own to act. People are the problem, not guns.

So for me, I really do strive to see the other viewpoint. It not only helps you to understand where their thoughts may be for you to engage someone properly, but it gives your mind flexibility when a question or thought presented comes out of seemingly nowhere.

In any case, the worst thing to do is to instantly start discrediting their argument simply because it conflicts with yours. Ask questions, get answers, use those answers to form new questions, etc. It all sounds pretty basic but it is amazing how much of this is lost on people these days.

If you find yourself really at a loss to defend an alternate viewpoint in any way, then it's probably time to either do a lot more research, or a lot more soul-searching. Personally, I routinely fall into the intellectual trap of saying "Oh that's just fucking non-sense" because I have not really thought about what the other person is trying to communicate.

That being said, it definitely takes two to tango, and you cannot always have meaningful discussion with people who are completely unwilling to hear you out, not dodge questions, not derail the train, or who are so close-minded they cant even explain why they feel or think the way they do.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Virtues of Anonymity

Not a cwoard.
A recent post on this blog somehow ignited a debate about the notion of remaining anonymous on the internet as it pertains to expressing one's ideas.  Let's have a formal discussion about it, shall we?

In case there are still some of my readers who don't know me personally and still do not know: "Jack Camwell" is a pen name.  "Jack" after my son, and "Camwell" as a combination of my two favorite authors Albert Camus and George Orwell.  So what?

The ability to remain anonymous is important in a democratic society.  There is a reason that our votes for elected officials are kept anonymous: it frees us from intimidation.  Humans, being what they are, tend to become upset when they are confronted by others with ideas that oppose their own worldviews.  And so, humans tend to ridicule one another or attack their character simply because they disagree.  For this reason, many people stay silent for fear of being persecuted for their believes.

Anonymity assures that all opinions can be freely expressed without fear of reprisal.  Remaining anonymous is everyone's choice, and in a free society, that choice should be respected.

I use a pseudonym for several reasons.  First and foremost is because the internet is full of sociopaths, and I don't want to broadcast my identity to would-be assailants who don't like my views.  It's not that I live in fear--because I don't--but I have children, and I want them to be safe.

What difference does it make if my real name is known or not?  How does that diminish my message?  It doesn't.  The message means more than the messenger.  Whether or not my readers know my real name makes no difference, because all I wish is to spread truth and inspire others to seek out truth.

Does Nineteen Eighty Four hold less importance simply because "George Orwell" is printed on the cover instead of "Eric Blair?"  Is Huckleberry Finn less of a classic because Samuel Langhorne Clemens decided to call himself "Mark Twain?"

I do not presume to compare myself to these men, but choosing to remain anonymous is an author's right.  Those of my readers who know me personally know that I am no coward.  I speak my mind to whomever I meet should they ask me what I think (and sometimes even when they don't ask for it).  And if choosing to use a pen name makes me a coward, then I can safely say that I stand among proud company.

I am just a servant of the people.  My real name is inconsequential, because I'm not doing this for recognition or fame.  I do it because it's the right thing to do, and successfully inspiring others to live free and seek truth is a reward in itself.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fuck you, Congress. Fuck you very much.

No, I'm not suggesting revolution and dismantling our government.  It's painfully obvious that the
current asshats in congress don't really give two shits about the American people.  The Republicans are willing to furlough their constituents all to stop Obamacare, even knowing that the Democrats will never back down from it.

So what am I advocating?  Let's furlough our current members of congress.  How do we do that?  The old fashioned way, of course: don't vote for them.

Every asshole Republican that voted in favor of putting the Obamacare defund rider onto the budget bill should be voted out in 2014.  Every Democrat that refused to postpone the implementation of Obamacare should be voted out in 2014.

"But Jack, it wasn't the Democrats' fault!  It was the Republicans!"  No, hypothetical-nay-sayer, they are all to blame.  There are too few people in congress anymore that are willing to compromise, and I, for one, am sick and tired of the brinkmanship.

If the Republicans actually gave a shit about the American people, they never would have put the Obamacare rider on the funding bill.  Newsflash: they don't give a shit, because they're not directly affected by the furloughs.  If the Democrats truly gave a shit about the American people, they would have signed the bill and fought the Obamacare battle another day.

But neither party is interested in anything that closely resembles responsible governance.  Every single American citizen who votes for an establishment party member in 2014 only has themselves to blame.

If you want real change, it's time to start voting third party or independent.  I know it might be scary, but mark my words: as long as Congress is comprised of nearly all Democrats and Republicans, nothing will change.  Just as I predicted in 2008, Obama has not and will not effect any change in DC.  All he has managed to do is get a healthcare bill passed that will make my premiums go up.  That's not rhetoric, that's just fact.

So congratulations Democrats: you still suck.  Congratulations Republicans: you're still a bunch of assholes.

Vote third party in 2014 or you're just asking for more bullshit.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Obama and the Hopium Trade Goes International

Seriously, this is the man besting Obama.
Ideals are important. Some people like to discard them because ideals are largely unrealistic, but the notion of a Utopian society serves a purpose none-the-less. We must have a standard by which we measure what humanity has achieved in the way of improving the human condition. Striving towards a just society without a clear standard of what constitutes the best of all worlds would be like attempting to measure a child's growth in height without knowing how tall the child was when he was first able to stand.

Some people use ideals to come as close as possible to realizing it, while others simply delude themselves and ignore reality. I've said this before: most people cannot emotionally handle the fact that this world is an incredibly shitty place. So in order to reduce their own personal distress about the sad state of humanity, they ignore reality and instead focus on the symptoms rather than the causes.

Enter President Obama and the Hopium Trade. The president addressed the United Nations General Assembly today, and he talked about how international law must be enforced or else it will become a joke. News flash, Mr. President: It's already a joke. In his address, Obama skirts 3 big problems that undermine international law.

Thing 1: Technically, international law only applies to nations who agree to the laws themselves.

America has used this against the UN in the past, upholding certain ideas of international law while categorically rejecting others. We were not actually supposed to invade Iraq in 2003 because the UNSC told us we couldn't. Look how well that turned out. Just as well, North Korea continues to thwart international law banning them from pursuing nuclear weapons. Assad has shown that he clearly could not give a single shit, let alone two shits, about the international ban on the use of chemical weapons.

Of course, the offending nation always defends itself with the notion of sovereignty, regardless of how barbaric their actions may be. And so long as nations are allowed to use sovereignty to justify gross violations of human rights, international law will continue to be meaningless.

Thing 2: International law is arbitrarily enforced.

This sort of goes hand-in-hand with Thing 1. The world did not step in to stop Apartheid, yet the US was chomping at the bit to put an end to Saddam Hussein's reign of terror. Obama ignored congressional disapproval of getting involved in Libya and helped topple Gadhaffi, but no one will touch North Korea with a 100 foot pole. Sure, Gadhaffi was both brutal and insane, but the situation in North Korea is truly hellish. If you don't believe that, then just google search North Korea's idea of "Three Generations of Punishment."

Until international law is applied evenly in every case of severe human rights violations, it will contiue to be a joke.

Thing 3: The UN Security Council is nothing but an international stage for major world leaders to undermine each other.

Mr. President: if you want international law to mean something, then why don't you bring up the fact that the UNSC veto essentially ruins everything? Yes, there needs to be a voice of reason, but when that "voice of reason," is the likes of China and Vladimir Putin, the process needs to be examined. Essentially, the members of the UNSC have the power to stop the UN from doing anything, at any time, for any reason, regardless of the magnitude of the violation.

Putin doesn't care about things like "human rights." Hell, one can argue that he doesn't even truly care about Russia. All he cares about is continuing his reign as the unofficial king of Russia, and as of late he will do anything to undermine the US.

So if the president truly wishes for the UN to improve, then he needs to call a spade a spade, and he needs to drop the delusion that international law can function in its current form. His address was just more talk of "hope and change," and we all know how far those promises go.