Travel Status

In the film I watched Sunday, they made some comment about “letting the airlines go broke” if you couldn’t travel without proper ID (the soon to be rolled out National ID card) when the time comes. Well, I can do you one better.

I haven’t flown since 9/11/2001, because the wife refuses to take me with her when she flies. Apparently she objects to my choice of flight apparel. What is that apparel, you might ask? Flip-flops, hand cuffs, and paper scrubs stenciled “Federal Airline Prisoner”… and nothing else.

I have carried a pocket knife, nail clippers and whatever else I felt was needed, every day of my life, pretty much since the day I first put on pants. I’m not about to give up my essentials just because some jack-booted thug tells me I “can’t carry that in here”.

…At least not without some sort of a show, anyway.

When I’ve said this to people in the past, they generally mouth some words to the effect that “they’re only trying to make the airlines safer”. Let me tell you how to make the airlines safer. The attendant who greets you at the door of the plane asks you a simple question “are you carrying a weapon?” If you answer no, she hands you one to carry (loaded with the proper rounds, of course) for the length of the flight.

…Do you honestly think there will ever be a hijacking under those circumstances? Didn’t think so.


Editor’s note, 2019. The lack of weapons training among Americans combined with the troglodyte intelligence of modern armaphiles makes me think the idea of arming everyone on the plane is a very, very bad idea these days. But I still think that not letting me carry my pocket knife and nail clippers, while at the same time letting me keep my underwear on (underwear bomber? Anyone’s underwear could explode, you know.) ranks at the level of asinine.

I wear plastic sandals boarding and exiting airplanes these days. I can’t count the number of nail clippers and pen knives that the TSA have stolen from me. A set for every flight I’ve been on. Mercifully few of those.

America: From Freedom to Fascism

I invited a friend along and went out to take in America: From Freedom to Fascism this last Sunday night.

As a long time member of the Libertarian Party, I was already pretty familiar with a large portion of the central argument in the film; the unconstitutional nature of the Income Tax and the Tax Honesty movement that is trying to shed a little light on the subject. However, the film certainly doesn’t limit itself to this subject alone.

Done much in the style of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, which brought Michael Moore critical acclaim, Aaron Russo is trying to bring some popular attention to arguably the most serious problem in America today, the growing size and power of government.

So I was prepared for sensationalism, and I was prepared to hear many arguments I’d heard before. What I wasn’t prepared for were the interviews with several former IRS agents who are now the targets of the agency they worked for. I wasn’t prepared for the frank conversation with a juror from a failure to file case who simply states “they never produced the law”. I wasn’t prepared for the (former) IRS commissioner who showed nothing but contempt for court rulings and questions from citizens concerning the nature of the laws that govern us all.

I found these sequences to be the most illuminating, since they involved people who aren’t in the “tax honesty” movement. Not that G. Edward Griffin, Bob Schulz and others don’t deserve respect for at least standing up in the face of tyranny that is the IRS; but that these people had no axe to grind, and yet found themselves unable to answer the very simple question “what is the law that requires an American to file and pay income tax?” In the case of the (former) commissioner, he could not present a reasonable argument concerning the existence of the law, even though he ‘wrote’ the tax code.

In the end, it was Dr. Ron Paul’s answer that I think is the most ‘truthful’. To paraphrase the gist of it, he said he knew of no law that requires Americans to file and pay the income tax on the face of it; but since those who carry the guns and enforce the IRS code think they are authorized to do so, it makes very little difference.

…Which is pretty much my opinion on the matter in a nutshell.

The remainder of the film tallies up a rather frightening list of programs, executive orders, and laws that together with the current electronic voting nightmare, and police largesse, paints a pretty grim picture of the future. Anyone who has visited Alex Jones‘ sites is probably familiar with the gist of it. Whether you take any of it seriously is entirely up to you.

The problems with the film are visible the moment you sit down and it starts rolling. First, the film was shot on DV, and hasn’t been transferred to film for projection purposes (at least it wasn’t in the theatre that I went to) so the quality of the viewing experience is less than most people would expect. The pixelization on the screen makes the production appear to be amateurish, something I’m sure Russo wasn’t looking for when he made the film. If the theatre had been equipped with a decent DLP projector, the results might have been different.

Second, the theatre I attended was only about a third full. The people who need to see this film will never attend it of their own free will. They are far to willing to have their minds numbed by watching films of the caliber of “You, Me and Dupree” to ever do the requisite thinking required to appreciate the message Aaron Russo is trying to communicate.

…And since they make up the majority of “We the People”, the sovereigns who are supposed to be “Eternally vigilant” in order to preserve our freedom, it leaves me very little doubt that the future described in “America: From Freedom to Fascism” really isn’t too far away.

My Two Cents Worth

Wrote a check the other day for a periodical subscription; and while I was writing it, it suddenly occurred to me “Why 19.97?”

I can sort of understand the old marketing approach of $19.99 is seen as $19 and not $20; but why $19.97? They had to consciously set that price. Do those two cents really mean that much?

“Hey, let’s give ’em a two cent discount!”

It even makes less sense when you think about what the use of a penny really is these days. Can’t even buy two cent gum any more. Don’t even get me started about gas pricing. Does anybody out there realize that they still price it to the tenth of a cent, 9/10’s to be exact? So that the $2.39 a gallon is really $2.40, less a tenth of a cent per gallon. What is the point of that? If a penny can’t buy anything these days, what does a tenth of a cent get you?

“We saved 2 cents on that 20 gallon tank of gas, let’s go get some gum!”

Why do they even bother pricing to the penny anymore? It costs more for the cashier to count correct change these days, than it would to price goods to the nearest dime; perhaps even setting prices to the nearest quarter dollar is warranted.

I still stop to pick up change these days. But I’ve been noticing a lot more pennies just lying around; and even penny pinching me will occasionally let the singleton just lie there.

Ben Franklin said “A penny saved is a penny earned”. But Franklin’s pennies were made of copper, rather than the aluminum alloy slugs we get today (not to mention they were a good bit larger then, too) I wonder if he would stoop to pick up a modern day penny.

I guess I should thank that publisher for starting me off on this rant. I’ve definitely got my two cents worth out of it…

Moderator no More

I’ve been pondering what to say on the subject of my hasty exit from moderating Liberty Dollar Online. Not that it’s a stunningly popular site, or that many people will notice. It’s just that events like this can be very instructional if one simply takes the time to ask “what happened here?” in the proper light.

So let’s properly light the scene.

The forum owner, the administrator and the moderator, when those hats are worn by separate people, need to act as a team on issues concerning the operation of the forum. This may seem like an obvious statement; and since teamwork is an often overlooked part of management, perhaps it is ‘obvious‘ in the true sense of the word. In this particular instance, all three hats were worn by different people; a fact I was unaware of until just recently, having not been informed that the owner of the site had farmed out administration duties to a third party.

In a team, the players all know who’s on the field, what their roles are, and what parts of the field are used for what purpose. In a forum this constitutes as knowing what types of posts go where, what types of member behavior is allowed (or, perhaps more easily, prohibited) and what types of moderation response is expected.

If you look at the site “Liberty Dollar Online” and think about where a post on any specific topic might go, you’ll find the first stumbling block. As a tangential issue, I’ll just touch on this here and be done with it. Where do you put a post concerning the Federal Reserve and it’s relationship to gold? ‘general’ is where they end up. Where do you put a post concerning an offer of ELD? Those to end up in ‘general’ as well. In fact, most posts went to general and then had to be moved to their proper place on the forum. Why? Because the topics of the different sub-forums are too limited, or the wording on the forum description doesn’t illuminate the expected contents of the forum. Then there is the ‘cover all bets’ type threads that could just as easily be a forum (or a poll) in themselves. Heaven forbid a moderator touch one of those immortal sacred cows. The wrath of the heavens (that would be the members who created and continuously add tangents to said thread) will descend upon the moderator who does.

The lackluster forum names and the catch all threads were stumbled over and either dealt with or ignored based on who had admin rights for what and when; so basically, the team isn’t really communicating well, and no one really knows where anything needs to be. But we are giving it the ‘old college try’.

As a secondary light source, I would like to add that the forum ‘klashistan’ was described to me as a place where ‘anything goes’ (remember this point, there will be a test later) I liked the idea, myself. Someplace to consign threads, and the contributing members to same, that have descended into ad hominem hell. It saves the moderator from endless accusations of “you deleted” and “I’ve been wrongly banned” type bullshit.

…and it is bullshit, because moderating is an unpaid thankless job, and most of the ingrates who use forums have no idea just how thankless it is. The next time one of you average members out there posts criticism of site moderation on a particular site, and it stays there, you should give that moderator a medal. Hell, throw him a party. Because there isn’t any reason that he had to leave it there.

That handles the lighting. Now for the play itself.

A pain-in-the-ass member from a Yahoo Group dedicated to the Liberty Dollar decided to join the “Liberty Dollar Online” forum; When I say Mark Queen is a “pain-in-the-ass”, I have previous postings to prove it. That’s a condensed version. The thread lasted at least a month in time and spanned at least 20 posts. Definition of “pain-in-the-ass”.

And he wasn’t the first one. A few others joined up earlier, and finding that I was the dreaded ‘moderator’ they left, letting the owner know that they were leaving ‘because of me’. Good riddance, not that I actually cared one way or the other. None of them posted much of anything to credit or damn themselves with; I’ll cherish a adversary who can put together a decent argument just as highly as I do someone who shares common cause with me; however, incompetent whiners I have no time for. It’s not my fault so few of them are up to the task.

But, Pain-in-the-ass Queen is savvy, so he posts his attacks directly to Klashistan, and refuses to elevate his discourse above the ad hominem level. When he first posted his issues with ALD, I dutifully created a poll that highlighted several of his points, in the proper forum, and invited everyone to come on in and discuss it. You could hear the crickets chirp.

Months go by. The new members come and go, not much happens, and Mark Queen is still pissing in the wind. Then he insults my dog. Well, I’m impervious to most attacks these days, but my dog was deeply offended. After pondering my response (the umpteenth response to the same question, mind you) I decided that ‘anything goes’ (I said there would be a test later) meant for the moderator as well, and I locked the thread in question, giving myself the ‘last word’ in the thread, as it were.

“Pain-in-the-ass” Queen complains to the site owner, Frank Motley. The site owner listens, his willingness to listen being only slightly effected, I’m sure, by the fact that Mark Queen has done business with him in the past, and is a friend of his. If I had known the number of relationships involved in this little fiasco (this wasn’t the first time I had a run in with a ‘friend of the owner’) I would never have volunteered to moderate in the first place. When the members can go whine to the boss directly, and he listens, then the ‘writing is on the wall’, so to speak.

The site owner has the administrator reverse my judgment. No questions of “hey, why did you do this Anthony?” No “would you mind changing this back?” Just a slap in the face by someone I’ve never met or conversed with, and a public statement of my lack of authority; albeit a feel good “he’s a great benefit to the site but has no real authority” type statement.

I’d been toying with bowing out as moderator for awhile anyway, and this had a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ type of feeling to it, so I made my stand on principle, knowing what the outcome would be.

…If a moderator can’t moderate, then what is he? If anyone can whine to the site owner, and he’ll reverse the moderator’s judgment, then who is really the moderator?


Not surprisingly, Frank has his own spin on things:

Not that I think it matters, but I have not “chosen Mark” over Anthony or anyone else. I made myself perfectly clear above.

It does matter, and you did choose. Not one person over another perhaps, but the troublemaker with whom you identify over the office of moderator (the hat I was wearing at the time) that you despise. Perhaps despise is too strong a word, but your adversarial relationship with moderators in the past has definitely negatively colored your perception of what a moderator’s job is, and has left you with the tendency to side with the troublemakers, even on your own site.

Mark Queen may have been instrumental in Liberty Dollar circles once upon a time, but he has ceased being anything other than an agitator looking for reasons to snipe at alternative currencies. The only reason he would want to know the data he keeps demanding and stating “isn’t a problem to collect” (as long as you ignore the facts concerning validity, privacy and compensation for work performed) is so he can damn the entire system as ineffectual; because the data will look ineffectual alongside the data from the Fed that he wants to compare it to.

[It is a ‘Mark’ of Dumb-ass Queen’s cluelessness that he would attribute my locking the thread to my somehow ‘loosing the argument’. As if mindlessly repeating the same objections for several months constitutes an ‘argument’.]

Additionally, if you had wanted to post a response to Mark Queen’s objections (objections that had been offered several months previously) it could have been done in the appropriate forum, just like you ended up doing anyway. There was no need to unlock the thread in question, no need to post to klashistan at all, except to show the moderator just who was boss. There was never any question who was boss. The only question was “who’s the moderator?”

It was never me, apparently.


So, what was learned, what information can be taken from this little charade? With tongue in cheek, I offer the following:

  • Never volunteer for a job. Any veteran of the military can tell you that; I should have listened to one of them.
  • Know who the Boss’ friends are, and make sure you have the good dirt on them first. They’ll make up dirt about you if they have to, so you better be prepared.
  • Make sure to ‘disappear’ any posts that offend your dog, rather than violate some unwritten rule that only applies to moderators.
  • Make sure that the forum headings are clear enough that people can figure out where posts should go; and be flexible enough to change them when the membership still can’t figure it out.
  • Make sure the next moderator understands that “anything goes in Klashistan” applies to everybody else but him.
  • Make sure the next moderator knows how to contact the administrator directly; and let him know that it’s actually a different person, not you with a better attitude.

…and finally:

  • When a member horrifies you by childishly defacing the entire forum with blank posts, and the forum owner confides in you that the member learned that behavior from the owner himself on another forum, quit right then. Don’t wait for the other shoe to drop. You’ll thank yourself later.

I don’t know what the future holds for Liberty Dollar Online. I had great hopes for it once. The forum traffic that I had anticipated, never materialized, in part because the libertydollar site itself has so far refused to direct traffic to it. There is no better place on the web to get quick answers to ALD questions, but it remains largely under utilized. So to for Frank’s other site, Liberty Auctions, which is a great auction site that allows for the use of alternative currencies…

[in stark contrast to e-Bay, a site worried about you not using dollars to pay for transactions, but apparently unconcerned when false car auctions are listed. That’s another story]
…but is largely unknown even in alternative currency circles. Don’t ask me why, the sites work well. Perhaps it’s a marketing/exposure question. Maybe it’s just a matter of time.

No hard feelings Frank. I’d do business with you in the future. I’m just done with LDO for now.

…and with that, I return you to the regularly scheduled rant.

The Best Enemy Money Can Buy

Listening to ol’ Joey today, and I heard the Great Fat One bragging about how he predicted that we were going to ‘deal with’ Iran two years ago, and how this was now about to happen.

The day Bush named Iraq as the next target in the ‘War on Terror’, it was clear to me that the Joint Chiefs wanted to establish a ‘beachhead’ in the Middle East, a place from which to stage the pacification of the entire region, as needed. Obviously, Iran would be the follow-on target. That was a bit more than two years ago. If ol’ Joey only figured it out two years ago, then he must be slipping in his old age.

…The real question is, are the Iranian’s engaging in nuclear weapons research in anticipation of this event, and do we really want a nuclear Iran? I think the answer to the second question is “no”, but are we prepared for the consequences of that answer?

We’ve handed these people our money, hand over fist, for 4o years now. We’ve built up their infrastructure and taught them how to drill for oil. Sold them our weapons and trained them in their use. As always, we’ve gotten the best enemy money can buy. I wonder when we’ll learn to quit doing that?

Isn’t it Obvious?

Every time I hear that phrase, I think yes it is. Yes it is right there in front of us, the third person just can’t see it. All over the internet (if you Google it) are sites and messages from the well meaning, angry people who know the thing in question, attempting to point out a fact or a situation that is hidden in plain view for that third person who just can’t see.

Can’t you see it? Can’t you see it? Why can’t you see it?

Why do I say the obvious is hidden? Because it must be hidden. Hidden by something. Why else would someone ask a patently obvious question? (aside from the rhetorical question. Obviously) They don’t see the answer even though the answer is right before them. This is not a mark of stupidity, it’s a perception problem.

I looked up obvious on several dictionary sites in an attempt to confirm the nuances of meaning that I see in the word. None of them seem to see the obvious differences between obvious and similar words like apparent and evident. Appearances can be illusory. Evidence reveals the evident answer.

You can be blind to the obvious, because it is in the way (as the Latin states) a see the forest for the trees type of situation. So look carefully before asking that next obvious question or be prepared to literally stumble over the answer when it is pointed out to you.

Corporate correspondence

In the continuing saga of “The Quest for Sobe Black Tea“:

A Message from Consumer Relations 011015940A
Hello Anthony,
Thank you for taking the time to email us here at SoBe Beverages. It’s always a pleasure to hear from lizard lovers like yourself.
Unfortunately, the product that you are asking about is no longer carried by the local distributor in your area. However, keep your eyes open for new beverages from SoBe in your area. In the meantime, your comments will be shared with our sales team and senior marketing staff. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Again, thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your interest in our company.
Lauren Napolitano
Consumer Relations Representative
lauren.napolitano@pepsi.com
011015940A

——–

Couldn’t care less about any other flavor of beverage that you produce. I have been on quest for Sobe Black Tea since I first discovered Sobe on a road trip to West Texas nearly 10 years ago. Following that discovery, I went to more than 50 quickshops in the Austin area, personally, in order to get Black Tea from the local distributor. Instead I get all the other flavors BUT Black Tea.

I can’t even buy it online. I can’t even buy it directly from you. I am beyond pissed at this point, I’m just about livid. I would really like some answers as to why I can get 19 other flavors of Sobe in Austin, but I can’t get Black Tea? Does someone need to be replaced at the local distributor? In my opinion, the answer is yes.

I would really like a response that answers questions rather than a blow off note that suggests I find something else to like. As someone who will special order Cokes, Dr. Peppers and 7-ups with real sugar in them, just to get the ‘real thing’, I think it’s a more likely possibility that Satan will ice skate to work tomorrow.

Also, I noticed that the domain name changed from lizmail.com to pepsi.com. If you notice my list of favorites, you might come to realize that there isn’t much love lost between me and Pepsi.

Your turn at bat, swing and a miss?

Car Trips

Heading out in about 5 hours to deliver the children to their grandparents for a few weeks of vacation (theirs or ours, it’s hard to guess) and I suddenly realize just how much I’ve come to hate sitting in a car.

I used to hunger for the freedom that a car represented; and when I finally got my drivers license, you couldn’t get me out of the vehicle except to sleep. I’d plan trips like the impending one to the nth degree, mapping out which way to go, picking just the right music; and I’d spend the day proceeding it cleaning every inch of the vehicle inside and out.

These days I don’t notice the car is dirty until I can’t see out the windows. I don’t even want to talk about sitting. Legs hurt, hips hurt, back hurts; and you just have to sit there. Music is secondary now, too. If we’re lucky, the wife and I will hit a good conversation rhythm, and we won’t even notice the radio is off.

I don’t drive by myself any more, maybe that’s what’s different. I doubt it, though. Given a choice, I’ll play the passenger rather than have to concentrate on driving for hours at a time.

Maybe car trips are like the other trips; drug trips specifically. At first it’s a mind blowing change, to be in control and able to do anything (at least in your own mind, which is where it counts when it comes to trippin’) and then as the number of trips piles up, they start turning into bad trips, and you wonder why you ever wanted to do that shit in the first place.

…Or maybe I just need to take up flying.


I made it back alive though. It’s always a wonder when that happens, even though it has happened every time. It could always happen next time. There is a cheerful thought.

“Mermee, Mermee, Mermee”

These are the words that immortalize the Harlequin at the ending of “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman, by Harlan Ellison. If you want to know how that is, that these words mean so much, you’ll just have to read the book.

I’ve used this as a siggy for quite some time on some of the forums that I visit. “Why?” you might well ask. Well, I’ll answer you. I have a very personal hostility towards ticktockmen everywhere. People who tsk-tsk every time their clocks say somebody else is late, as if their clocks are always unerringly right. People who exclaim “You’re taking too much time with this!” as if there was a finite amount of this precious substance, and you were at risk of using it all. People who measure out the moments in life like the ticking of the clock.

Oh! …and since I’m posting this at 5:10 in the morning, on a morning when I need to be up in a few short hours, I’ll add: people who can go to bed at a ‘normal’ time, sleep through the night, and wake rested when they are supposed to. Something I have never been able to do. Something that employer after employer has commented on for years on end, all to no avail. I cannot change the pattern. Either I stay up ridiculously late, and have to be jolted awake in the morning; or I go to bed early and stare at the ceiling for hours on end, only to have to be jolted awake in the morning anyway. I am different, and different is bad.

Of course, as the Harlequin, I don’t have to be concerned with this. I simply relish the disruption of the pretty order, and hope that someone somewhere has a laugh over it. That is, after all, what we are all here for, right? To be happy?

“Mermee, Mermee, Mermee”

Image screencapped from Goodreads.

The Drug Lords say ‘Thanks’

Quoting a story published today:

The number of meth-lab busts plummeted more than 30 percent last year as most states put in place laws to restrict the sale of over-the-counter cold medicines used to make meth, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s El Paso Intelligence Center.

Yep, denying the average allergy sufferer easy access to the medications they need is all the rage these days, we’ve got to curb access to the ‘devil’s drug‘, don’t you know. Or is it really that much of a problem?

How about the figures from “The Sentencing Project” (referenced in the same article) that point out:

less than 1 percent of the nation’s population uses meth; meth abuse remains a “highly localized” problem

Of course, that doesn’t stop the majority of counties from reporting that meth abuse is a problem. Better to get on the gravy train early, wouldn’t want to miss out.

Contrary to popular belief though, meth is not a ‘new drug’. It’s just another one of the drugs made popular in the 60’s that has managed to hang on longer than LSD and a few of the others, mostly because it’s less damaging to the person who takes the drug. The only thing new about it is that small time labs started springing up, competing with the large meth labs that historically supplied the drug. Meth labs that still exist, by the way:

Local law-enforcement officials say there is still a strong appetite for the highly addictive drug and warned that meth makers in Mexico and other countries are moving to fill the supply void.

I just love euphemisms like “highly addictive”. Nicotine is highly addictive. Alcohol is highly addictive. Caffeine is highly addictive, and it’s in 9/10’s of the soft drinks that children love (and most parents complain about ‘hyperactivity’. The kid’s hopped up on sugar and caffeine. I’m just amazed he doesn’t actually fly, myself) Meth isn’t the problem; police agencies drunk on anti-narcotics funding is.

The only benefactor of the recent crack down on Psuedoephedrine containing medications is the large drug manufacturers across the border, and the police agencies tasked with interdicting them. The police openly say ‘thank you’ for your faith in them.

I’m sure the drug lords say likewise.