Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I don't get it

I don't get socialists. I don't get how they don't see certain things the way I see them. You don't like chocolate? Fine. Raw meat is gross to your touch? Whatever. But so much of socialism is so pretentious and bothers me.

Let's get something in the clear right now: I firmly believe every human being with means has a responsibility to help others in need. Period. Full Stop.

HOWEVER, what is need? What is help? There are some things that are nearly universal in general, but the specifics are all relative. If a family down the road lost income due to some reason - unforeseen or not - and they are having a hard time buying food, should I help? I think so. Should I go to jail if I don't? Should I have someone come and forcibly take some elsewhere-agreed-upon amount of money from me to buy them a dinner a week? This is where I start wondering.

My problem with socialism is this: they want to pay for the "good things" of their reckoning with my money. Without my say so. Yeah - they say I can vote, and I certainly can. But if they get their way, they will make my money go places I might prefer it not go. I'm looking at you, federal government.

Here is where I am different. If I have my way, I will put my money where I want it. I will let others put theirs where they want - and I might even try to facilitate that. Trying to explain that to a socialist is like trying to explain gravity to a 1 year-old. They look at me befuddled, and they tell me I am selfish or unrealistic. They say the only way we can get money from the masses to the "needy" (many are needy, some are stuck that way in a broken system) is to force people's hand. It's only taxes - how wrong could that be? How egregious a deed could be perpetrated by the powers that be in DC?

Well, I say it stinks! I can't not pay my taxes. Yeah - I have freedom. But I don't have the freedom to choose whatever consequence I want independent of the action. I don't want to pay for bureaucrats planning how much about sex they want to teach my kids. I don't want to pay farming corporations to not grow food while people are starving all over the world. I don't want to buy a drug dealer's lunch while he's slangin' on the side. I don't want to pay for that asinine middle management dodging accountability while preventing action in all the bureaucracies my money pays for.

I don't want to pay for global warming mitigation research. I don't want to subsidize ethanol or toxic battery vehicles or wind power. I don't want to pay for bureaucracy! It is a giant waste! Look at the spending in any department in the federal government, and look how much is the infinite layers of middle-managers that don't actually do much or aren't needed. I don't want people trying to spend my money on that.

Socialists need to get real jobs. By the way, have you noticed how few rich people that run a company are socialists? The people creating and maintaining jobs don't tend to be socialists. It is either jealous poor people, self-deprecating bourgeois, or rich athletes/entertainers. None of these people are wealthy in the old-fashioned way: actual work.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What is capitalism?

These Occupy fools need to go home.

There are so many people who are so mad about some really goofy crap. Somehow, Obama convinced everyone that during previous administrations, corporate greed was directly the fault of the Whitehouse, but during his, corporate greed is some outside thing he is fighting personally.

AIG got a massive bailout a few years ago, and then when they gave various executives contractually agreed-upon bonuses, people freaked out. There were protests in people's yards. All the bonus recipients had to give the money back, or the out-of-work union people were gonna make 'em. Meanwhile, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to suck at all the crap they do. They post losses continually. The government keeps giving them bailouts on the order of billions of dollars, and they keep giving their uppers big, fat bonuses. Where is the anger here? They are supposed to be able to be legitimately profitable, and yet they operate on taxpayer debt money. We don't even have the money to keep them in business.

There is this general pissed-off-ed-ness toward capitalism these days. People have it in their minds that capitalism and capitalists (in the Marxist, spit out of the corner of the mouth, pronunciation) are the source of all their woes. I would love to set America - and the world - straight on this:

Capitalism, in its actual sense, is not to blame here.

Giant conglomerate corporations are not capitalist. Being pro-business is not being pro-capitalist. Just because not every industry is nationalized does not mean we are capitalist. Every good modernization in life (and the bad ones, too) have come about because someone had an idea that would rock the boat, and they got the backing to develop it sufficiently to get it to market and let capitalism do its thing. Competition is capitalism. Mergers are not. Anything that degrades competition is anti-capitalist.

The problem is that SO many people want to blame the wealthy for the fact that the wealthy have seen more success than the masses. Even a lot of wealthy people like to jump on that bandwagon (*cough cough* Michael Moore). Look, wealthy people employ less-wealthy people. And when there is good competition, wages and work environment need to be just as competitive as the goods or services sold. And then everyone goes up together.

Any time you stifle that competition, you allow stagnation or backsliding. You want the economy to grow - allow competition to flourish. Where does the government fit in all this? Well, mostly in not tampering! Stop enabling companies that are not competing well enough to stand on their own. You want to bail out companies that are in dire straits because they couldn't hack it on their own merits? How does that improve anything? GM needs a dramatic redirection to ever be truly solvent again. Companies have to answer to their employees and shareholders. They need profits to stick around. Politicians only need to look like they are helping enough constituents to get re-elected. Their goals are to provide a positive perception, whereas companies need a black bottom line.

There is a big difference there. The government is trying to tell the auto industry and the energy industry where to direct their science in the future. Elected politicians listening to lobbyists with deep pockets are trying to pretend they are arbitrary in their decrees about scientific and technological issues. Even in the defense industry, this doesn't work. We let our defense companies (at least partially) develop new technology and try to sell it to the government. The DOD never told Lockheed to make them a stealth plane. Lockheed built it, and then said, "Does this interest you to the tune of our prospective budget?" And so forth.

If the government wants to play, they need to break up giant conglomerates like Ma Bell to provide competition again. Mergers always head to monopolies either through joining with or squashing the competition. Even having a few choices where there were once many is not good enough. We need legitimate competition in every sector. That is what made America great. That is fosters a strong, powerful, successful, stable middle class - instability.

Just watch what happens to the stock market when Obama talks about the economy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You have got to be kidding me...

So the president just described his witch hunt. If you haven't seen it, look on YouTube and find what President Obama said yesterday on the Today show about meeting with experts.

Did I miss the memo where it was decided we should have some cool president who can speak classlessly to go and "solve" all of our problems? The chief executive is in charge of executing our laws, right? I have always been under the assumption that the president is supposed to help dispense actual justice.

I am sickened. This is a mess, and the people in Washington have the gall to say that their extreme policies and procedures aren't the root of the problem of a further dividing America.

Also, I am really not sure how people think that it might turn out all right if our government takes over or more heavily regulates more and more of our economy. I don't get how people think it is sustainable that our government can employ more and more people and pay them more and more. The government does not create wealth and value in our country. They can only increase the number of people relying on a not-growing force of wealth-creaters. Wow.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I heart global warming

Global warming is a beautiful farce. It just plain isn't based in science and it is going to get us.

When I say "global warming," I am referring to the scary we'll-all-be-dead-in-100-years-unless-we-start-driving-Priuses-today stuff.

Is the earth in a warming trend? Maybe - but it depends on what timeline you are talking about. Over the last 10,000 years (as science and radio-carbon dating counts it)? Yes. 10,000 years ago we had mastodons in Texas, and I doubt they were going wild at South Padre Island in mid-March. But there were once glaciers covering much of America really far south. What happened to them? The earth warmed up! They melted!

My problem is not with the assertion that humans are effecting change. I firmly we believe we have impacted lots of things dramatically. Pollution has certainly provided acid rain and nasty smog. I think we should work to curtail harmful emissions - provided they are actually harmful.

Global warming is a complete fad that tends to be perpetrated by people who think the government should regulate more than they currently do. Or scientists looking to make a living. What ever happened with climategate? It seems to have vanished.

OK - here is the fun stuff. If CO2 is a problem, how much of that problem is caused by cars? Well, I'm glad you asked, too. about 2% of the world's co2 is from automobiles. So what will the effets be if we stop driving our cars? Not much, except a lot more people are going to be late for work. Should the government tell scientists and engineers that generations in the future will benefit if we make a bunch of battery-operated or -assisted vehicles - despite the fact that batteries are far more horrific (in nice measurable, specific ways) for the environment? My opinion is that the government doesn't know what we need better than the average American does.

Other fun fact - over the last few years, the earth has been cooling down a bit. Good evidence is what has been happening in Utah's winters the last few years. Naturally, the fad-ists have been claiming that this is "all part of the show." Now the fad term is "Climate Change."

Question: If the greenhouse gases (we know what greenhouses are used for, right? Warming things up?) are not warming up our planet despite an alarming increase in all of them, what exactly is the trouble with these "greenhouse gases?" My thinking is that if they are not greenhousing us, they are not the problem we accused them of being.

Side note - and statistics fans take note: Al Gore appeared before Congress about global warming, and he was asked if he knew that sometimes temperatures rises and then co2 levels rise. His response: "Yes, but sometimes it happens the other way around where co2 levels rise before the temperature." Wow.

If statistics are not your thing, I'll elucidate: that is an apparent correlation type of relationship. That means that co2 and temperature could very well be linked, but it is not a causal relationship. The evidence does not plainly show that increased co2 equals increased temperatures. In fact, it would seem that that has been thoroughly debunked scientifically, but I don't think this was ever about science.

Then there is the part about co2 being GOOD FOR NATURE!!! We are nowhere near approaching the levels required for being harmful to humans. But you should go on Youtube and watch plants exposed to double the amount of co2 - if you love nature, you find it your duty to buy a Lamborghini tomorrow just to save the trees.

The more legislation is talked about and passed in Washington, the more apparent all this becomes. It is easier to gain control of energy if you convince everyone (or legislate even without convincing the constituency) that energy is bad. Controlling energy controls a lot - both of power and money. That part is frightening.

But I am so tired of athletes, musicians, lawyers, and politicians telling me about this stuff that humans caused global warming - or, even better, climate change (whatever the ____ that even is). I saw a commercial a while ago with a basketball player saying, "It's a fact that humans caused global warming." It isn't. It simply is not a fact. It is a belief that is preached so vehemently that religious ministers could take notes and improve the ferocity of some good fire-and-brimstone sermonizing.

That being said, I like earth a lot. I think we should try to figure out how to wear coats made of something other than baby seal. I don't think that hunger is a good enough reason for hunting or fishing a species to extinction. I think more responsible farming practices could be practiced to avoid slash and burn tactics in rain forests. I think smog is gross and better gas mileage is good.

BUT - plastic is not bad. It is excellent energy storage we can use later (as fuel for burning - cleanly even). It is so much better than paper in that paper takes a lot of energy to process, and then if you don't hurry and burn it when you are done, it degrades, and you never get to use it. Petroleum is incredible. Gasoline is effective and fun as a means of motive force generation. Diesel is even more effective, but far less fun. Biofuels are great, and if we come up with good ways of manufacturing them without farming all the land in north america, that would be stellar. They are cleaner than petro-fuels, and obviously, they come from some living thing implying sustainability.

Anyway, I am going to make some cookies now with my wonderful gas-burning oven.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Warning: Conservative Political Rant

About a year ago, certain family members criticized me for being a little extreme when I said I was terrified of what Obama was going to do while in office. I defended myself by saying that the president firing the CEO of one of the largest corporations is terrifying in itself. The free market - though not truly free since government regulations first began in the beginning - truly began being in dire straits when a overstuffed lawyer with a title can start firing powerful businesspeople at will.

Since that time, the fear has increased for me. I have been watching Glenn Beck lately, though I used to decry him as an extremist naysayer and prophet of doom (like many people still do who have never actually watched him in action). He has been discussing a lot of disturbing things about all the Marxists - by their own admissions - in Obama's inner circle of advisors and friends. But I am not going to talk about the allegations - I am going to discuss actual happenings with news coverage and video.

Sunday, a protesting group of 500 members of SEIU - one of the largest unions in the country - gathered on the front porch and lawn of a Bank of America ATTORNEY. This was not some exec dealing in dirty loans - he was a lawyer handling some corporate law.

This mob convened illegally in the man's front yard yelling and chanting. Who was home? The man's 14 year old son. That's it. The man came home from a little league baseball game with his 12 year old son to find the scene. He parked down the street and had to go through the angry crowd to get to his son in the house.

I would imagine that if they tried that at the wrong house in Texas there would have been bloodshed - and I can only hope it wouldn't be the homeowner's family. It is trespassing! It is unconstitutional! That was not peaceable assembly on public land! That is a direct threat! What if someone turned violent. Mob mentality is real - that could have turned real ugly. The police were contacted, but they were afraid to push the crowd - they were afraid of the mob breaking the law and dangerously threatening a private citizen at his place of residence! That is not OK.

Further fun: The head of the SEIU is Andy Stern. Stern likes to talk about global governance and quote Marx ("Workers of the world: UNITE!"). Stern - leader of the group that committed this crime - is the most frequent visitor to the Obama White house.

Obama used to love campaigning on this premise of transparency. He said that when he enacted his healthcare, he would broadcast every second of the talks on CSPAN. I think most people know how that turned out. There were lots of back room dealings and closed door meetings. Every Republican in the House voted against it. Several Dems voted against it. Some planned to, then inexplicably changed their stance around the same time their states were guaranteed disproportionate amounts of money (I'm looking at you Nebraska). Obama started his presidency going on every talk show and news show to talk about how awesome his presidency was going to be. Then the random interviews on the White house premises stopped. Then Obama stopped doing his own press conferences. Then the administration started openly mocking Fox News and threatening to not allow them into press conferences. Now the White house has their own in-house news network. They have their own interview of the Supreme Court Justice nominee posted on the White house website, but no news agency is able to interview her. WTF?!?

And Healthcare! Sure, it WOULD be great if everyone had access to healthcare that was affordable and good. But why all the under-handed dealings. Why does the bill include the provision that all Federally guaranteed student loans would now be handled federally - no more states and private institutions making profits on a lucrative industry. Nope. The federal government, which has proven itself so able with money matters, figures it can outperform the private sector.

A certain uncle of mine thinks I am silly for thinking that the polls just before and after the passing of the bill in Congress should hold any sway with the federal politicians. Some polls were saying that as many as 75%+ of Americans OPPOSED the bill. Supporters barely outnumbered the confused.

I saw a video clip recently of Obama speaking when someone in the audience shouted something out. Obama responded by saying, "Who was that? You wanna come down here and say something?" I have decided that if I ever get a chance to shout something in a public forum like that and get called out, I know what I would say. I would say, "Mr. President - you believe in Democracy, yes? Humor me - these sound like rhetorical questions, but let's go ahead and answer them anyway, shall we? If you like democracy, and remember our country is a republic, why don't we make our legislative process a touch more democratic. How about you don't even let Congress vote on a bill unless a nationwide referendum shows 50%+ public opinion for the bill. Or is it worth asking if you have faith in the American people enough for that?"

Oh and the latest. The media is showing their true colors through their omissions now. Bush started some "faith-based initiatives" and the media went ballistic with regards to how unconstitutional it is. Separation of Church and State! The Founders were atheists and Deists! Christianity kills! Now what has Obama done? He has opened an EPA Faith office to provide funding for faith-based groups (churches) to go green. Caveats? Nothing major - they have to play by some rules the White House has laid out. The can't discriminate in their proselytizing. They can't discriminate in the hiring - in the eyes of the government, that is. The Federal government has already said that churches that get "too political" can lose their tax-exempt status. You can bet that does not apply to them preaching the party line, though. In fact, now that I think about it, Nancy Pelosi was shown - in a speech on video - bragging about religious leaders including archbishops and such pleading for her to push immigration reform. What did she tell them? "You need to preach it from your pulpits first." What? So...churches can be political all they want if it is in line with the party line. And Separation of Church and State is important - if we can keep that Christianity malignant fungus from infected the minds of our poor impressionable kids.

Incidentally, our Founders wanted the opposite. The Constitution with the Bill of Rights does not mention the Separation business. The only mention of it written anywhere from the Founders comes from Jefferson talking about the Anglican Church - which had a secular leader controlling the churches for political gain. The point of it was to protect religion from the State - not the other way around. The nefarious unfoldings of late are scary. And where is the media in talking about so many things so close to the White House being involved with such insidious events? Well, they do talk about Glenn Beck's delivery of his side of things. Did you know he gets riled up?!? I know what you're thinking. He is crazy, right?

Why are there so many Marxists so close to the President? Why does the administration deny allegations of socialism while its supporters (I'm looking at you Al Sharpton, and "Certain Uncle") say, "America voted for socialism when they voted for Obama," or "What is so wrong with 'socialism?'" Hmmmm...what is wrong indeed. Let's look at just a few examples of the redistribution of wealth and/or overblown entitlement and/or government takeovers of private industries. Well, we had the Bolshevik/Menshevik mess starting in 1917 - I always forget which was red and which was white and which one. We had Mussolini. Franco. Chavez. Guevarra. Hitler. Mao. Il-Song. Castro. Pol Pot. Whoever it was in Laos and Vietnam. Wait a minute - that seems like a lot of Government tskeover experiments. Shall we look at them? Are there any there you are not familiar with? Pol Pot ruled a fairly small country. How many deaths do they attribute him with, exactly? If I understand right, it is over a MILLION.

Social Justice is a farce. Justice is great - but the social part is the hangup. When do we start penalizing people for not "including" the unpopular kids? Why does everyone deserve a toilet? Do they? Don't they? Is that an inalienable right that we should march to protect? Call me crazy, but inalienable rights seem like they may be independent of time and technology. Do I think it would be great to have the whole world have indoor plumbing? Yes. Do I think we have a responsibility to help feed the poor? That depends. Who is we? Is it the government? No. They should keep us safe and do as little as possible to set up a safe free market. Do communities and churches and individuals? Maybe. But there is no help having a bunch of bureaucracy to filter the money and resources.

Has anyone else noticed the government has sucked at everything it has decided to run except the military. The military has a great track record when we don't hold them back. I happen to know that we have superiority like hasn't been seen since Genghis Khan. But when has the government actually done anything positive - unequivocally positive - with money? EVER?

The Constitution is under attack. Our own president has talked about how lacking it is. I can only hope that November brings some people to protect the Constitution.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Updates on mundane crap

I haven't blogged in a while - I didn't check what the last thing I wrote was. Well, I am working and chilling at home without any drama happening at all. So I will update the two people who read my blog as a replacement for sheep-counting on recent details.

I started the Chocolate Society last month, so people like me can meet together to talk about chocolate. I have gotten a lot of people into chocolate over the last year and a half. I am frankly a little tired of introducing people to the good stuff and answering the same questions and half-heartedly grinning at little jokes about Hershey's. I want to supplement that with some snobbily in-depth conversation about the finer nuances of chocolate. So I started a society for people like me to do exactly that.

Also, I have been growing my beard for about 2 months - maybe 2 1/2, and it is getting pretty grizzly. I have trimmed it, but it is still pretty scraggly. It is funny because I can see people looking at me like I might be crazy, so strangers often act carefully. People I barely know complement my beard all the time. I have gotten the strongest compliments from co-workers including my boss's boss's boss. And now I plan to shave it. Carrie hates it with some burning kind of passion. But I want to keep growing my hair out.

I have gotten a couple new guitar amps this year. I got a cute little Vox 4 Watt tube amp that sounds really good, but is feature-lite. It has a volume knob, and "tone" knob (that doesn't have all that much effect considering it is the only tone control I have) and a 3-position rotary selection switch to allow full power, 1 Watt, or 1/10 Watt so I can get full tubey sound at a volume suitable for sleeping children. It is very cool.

Shortly after getting that amp, I got an Epiphone Blues Custom 30 that can switch between 30W Class A/B or 15W Class A. I did a lot of reading to find out the difference between Class A and Class A/B, and the difference in sound is subtle. The lower power setting mostly is just quieter - but not by as much as you'd think. Both of the amps look really retro which is in keeping with their rather old-school design and sound. The Epi is crazy loud, and I got to jam with it the day after I got it. I look forward to getting to jam with some guys at work soon. Our musical styles are disparate in a lot of ways, but we have a lot in common as well. I just really don't want to sound like another indie extension of the late 60's. When I play electric, I tend to have a funky and/or heavy style. I like weird rhythms that are somewhat difficult to bob your head to, though they do feel very groovy. We'll see how that goes. I would like to record some just for kicks.

I have been getting into vinyl lately - that's right - records. I got a bunch of "classical" records for free last year when BYU's library was just giving it away. I got some Baroque, but mostly Romantic and Modern stuff from several of my favorite composers including Rachmaninoff and Saint-Saens. But the turning point for actually buying a record player was when I went to a local music store and saw a copy of The Company Band's first full-length. TCB has the singer from Clutch (my favorite band), the drummer from CKY, and others. I bought the record without either a record player or having heard the songs at all. It felt so old-school. I later got a cheap little record player, and I have been plugging it into my Epi guitar amp (and only getting the left channel). Between the analog record and tube amplifier and decent (though not properly-voiced for the application) speakers, it sounds awesome. I have had two friends who both said they don't hear the difference between different quality soundsystems or different guitars or amps and the like say that it sounds amazing. It has so much more detail and dimension - it is incredible. I plan on buying a kit to make an actual stereo tube amp for audio, and then I may make my own speaker boxes, too. I have bought a few records since then, and I hope to have a decent record collection before too long. But I have a lot of important and more useful things to pay for in the meantime.

I decided recently that I am an adrenaline enthusiast. I would say that I am an adrenaline junkie - but that is far more extreme than where I actually am. I have also figured that I have been having an insane lack of adrenaline in my life lately, and it is wearying me. It seems a little backwards that a lack of excitement would tire me out, but I need a balance. And without a fast car or bike or other forms of adrenalizing, I feel the lack. I don't know what to do about it. I am hoping that jamming with people and making a lot of noise will help.

Oddly, we are planning to get a minivan soon, and I am excited about that. I like getting a new vehicle, and I think minivans are the pinnacle of practicality. With baby number 3 on the way, we will need to have a place to put the child during transport. I would much rather have a minivan than some big, stupid SUV we won't use for anything beyond minivan use. That said, part of me would like an off-road vehicle of some sort. Like a rock-crawler. Or a pre-runner truck. Or a mildly-rally-prepped car. Or a dual-sport adventure bike.

Yesterday, I test-rode a Triumph Speed Triple, and it was a lot of fun. I expected it to scare me, but I think my size reigns in the acceleration a little too much for real drama. I was kind of expecting it to take my breath away upon accelerating. It didn't. But it was still really fast, comfortable, and sporty. It was easy to ride, though I haven't really ridden in a year. It was really comfortable below about 80 mph, and then it just got loud and windy above that which is no surprise as it has no wind protection at all. Last May, after riding my friends Ninja for a month, I think my perspective has changed dramatically about speed. The bike I rode yesterday had similar power, and I am actually sorta used to acceleration like that. But it was still exhilarating, and I felt really cheerful and content for several hours afterward. Though I was painfully aware later of really slow people blocking my progress.

Naomi was punched in the mouth by a doll she was holding recently, and it knocked her tooth loose. She is 5 1/2 and she got her teeth really early, so it may just be time to start losing teeth. We were worried, and the dentist took an X-ray and said that there is still a root holding on, but don't be alarmed if it falls out or not. She got beat up by a doll she was holding! It would have been funny if her mouth hadn't been bleeding.

Well, that is some of the most pointless mindless drivel I have written in recent memory, so enjoy that. Anyway, that's it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

home madness

Wednesday, we put an offer on a house in North Salt Lake in the evening. That night, the seller countered by raising $2K but leaving in all the appliances we asked for and maintaining paying closing costs. We accepted so we are under contract for the end of next month! More details as they develop.