No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Sort of a follow on to The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions. (and, apparently, I’m still trying to teach people to think) If, in fact, your actions amount to more than (feel) good intent, there’s bound to be some whiner out there who isn’t happy about it. Rest assured, they’ll do everything they can to make sure that you never try that again.

So, today I get a private message from the Austin_Browncoats moderator about my negative wit, as currently displayed on her list, and a reference to a total buffoon that picked a fight with me a year ago on the list because I dared to suggest that Firefly was dead.

It is dead. The show was cancelled. It might be revived, but it won’t be the same show. Star Trek never came back from it’s cancellation. Oh, they made movies, and they made spin off series, but the Original Series (TOS, for the Trekkers out there) remains as the same 79 episodes. It effectively died when NBC pulled the plug in 1969. For the fans it ‘lives on’, but considering what they’ve done to the Star Trek universe of late, it looks more undead than alive. Perhaps 14 episodes and a movie, coda (fade out) would be a kinder fate for Firefly than the fate that befell Star Trek.

Back to the buffoon. She ranted and raved for a few days, then packed up and left the list in a huff because “she had better things to do elsewhere”. Fine by me. Hadn’t heard anything of significance from her before the meltdown, didn’t see that it was much of a loss. I made my apologies to the list, and went on.

Only to have it thrown back in my face today. Well, that’s just fine and dandy. Yes, I tend to speak my mind, and I don’t generally give much thought to the impact this might have. I try to be concise and to the point, colorful yet clear, but I don’t really care if it ruffles feathers. It’s the way I talk (when I say anything at all) and it’s the way I write. Honesty is the best policy, and I follow that policy to the letter.

Like the latest dust up. Someone who probably should know better forwards that old Cough CPR post to the list. Now, most lists (including mine) have notices about forwarding this type of junk to the list. It generally amounts to “don’t”. Being aware that this is a bogus bit of netlore that could be potentially fatal, I immediately zipped off a rebuttal. Very shortly afterward, I get a response from the original author defending her post as being sent with “the best of intentions” along with some companion sympathy shoulder rubbing posts from another member.

So here’s another tempest in a teapot starting to boil. And who’s fault is it? Mine!

Yepper. How dare I speak in such a condescending fashion. Well, excuse me for trying to keep people from killing themselves with CPR tips that won’t work as advertised, and hurting someone else’s feelings in the process. I should remember the good intentions the post was sent with and not worry about those people who might actually kill themselves with the advice contained in the post.

However, the tempest never gets to a full boil. Why? Not because the moderator put a lid on it, deleting posts on the subject (Attn: Ms. moderator. Firefly fans should have more balls than to go whining to the authorities when the other kids in the sandbox don’t play nice. It just seems a bit counter to the whole “livin’ on the raggedy edge” kind of mindset) no, it never came to a boil because I resisted saying the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

The last post in the thread shows up, tearing at the hair and bewailing my lack of common decency for daring to take this poor woman to task for something she posted with the best of intentions…

…and I let it slide.

So, in the For What It’s Worth department I have this response:

No. Good intentions are not required as a prerequisite for doing good. Knowing the difference between the good and the bad is. Good intentions that yield bad results might as well be bad intentions. Common decency compelled me to set the record straight in the first place. Otherwise I’d have been more than happy to let the boat float along undisturbed, just like the rest of the sheep who can watch someone being mugged in an alleyway and do nothing about it.

You can feel good about the fact that my good deed has not gone unpunished.

The Unmourned End of Libertarian Politics

Read a rather amusing hatchet job the other day “The Unmourned End of Libertarian Politics”. The poster who forwarded it didn’t include a source for the article. I am always suspicious of articles that are posted without source reference, It makes fact-checking that much harder. So I decided to take the time to look up the source for this one.

As for the content of the article, the author takes many liberties with the label “Libertarian”. Most of them erroneous. While his examples are indeed libertarian positions (ending Social Security was one of them) the people who are promoting them are far from libertarian in belief. Most of them tout the ideas a conservative, and the politicians promoting these ideas would never admit to having any libertarian leanings.

In browsing the write up on his book, It looks as if Ronald Reagan is one of his heroes. Reagan too promoted libertarian ideas cloaked as conservative ones. One of them was the the foundation of the Savings and Loan debacle. Just like his current peer in office, Reagan’s attempt at ‘free market’ corrections to the Savings and Loan mess were only free market in name, and left the industry wide open for the type of theft that eventually brought Savings and Loans to an end.

So too the ‘privatization’ of Social Security proposed by ‘W’ wasn’t privatization at all; and the voucher systems intended to correct the failing public schools were not rejected by the citizenry but were in fact shot down by teacher’s unions nearly everywhere they were proposed. Some limited voucher systems have taken hold. Find the info here.

The foundation that the author is part of also leaves me cold. New America? What’s wrong with the old one? How about we just discover Real America, and leave it at that, eh? Like the New Deal, I don’t think there’s very much American over at New America. Maybe it’s just me.

As it is, the Libertarian Party is still alive and kicking (albeit hampered by a core constituency that seems to think not voting is some form of effective protest movement) Mark Twain’s quote sprang immediately to mind when I read the article title.

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

What has come stumbling to it’s ineffectual end is the illusion that we have two parties in the US today. Anyone who has been paying attention should have a hard time determining the difference between Liberal and Conservative right now; trying to separate the Socialists who are only looking out for our best interests, from the Fascists who are only doing what’s right for the rest of us. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth the effort.


2019. You know, once you pull your head out of your big, fat ass the world tends to look completely different. What amuses me about posts like this these days is how convinced I was that everybody else was clueless and I was the only one thinking clearly. Now I’m just happy to still be thinking, muddled as it all seems to be. Saner but sadder, from a philosophical standpoint.

Once again, I cite the Big Bowl of Crow I ate a while back. Still trying to digest some of that.

So, How Many Planets are There, Anyway?

I started this entry several months ago, when the latest planet-sized object beyond Pluto’s orbit was located. At that time the astronomers were hemming and hawing over whether they were going to call it a planet; but since they called Pluto a planet, they pretty much had to call this discovery a planet as well. I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It appears that event has now taken place.

‘The other shoe’ is the IAU definition of ‘planet’. They recently formed a committee to come up with a definition that could be applied to all solar systems, and now they are floating that definition amongst their peers, looking for acceptance.

This new definition would yield 12 planets for this solar system, based on current knowledge. Some astronomers think this number could go as high as 24.

Personally, I think the astronomers are missing a key point in defining what is or isn’t a planet. Anyone who looks at the orbit of Pluto (or the Plutons, as the new definition refers to them) and contrasts it with the orbits of the classical 8 inner planets, can probably get the point I’m trying to make here. Pluto is clearly not of the same nature as the rest of the planets. It’s orbit describes a body that is more akin to a comet than to a planet. The definition of planet should reflect this.

A planet should first and foremost be formed from the original accretion disk of the star that it orbits, or follow the same orbital pathway that the star’s gravity and spin dictates. Anything of planet size that doesn’t conform to this plane should be referred to as a ‘planetoid’; of planet size, but not truly a planet.

Of course, this kind of level-headed thinking on the subject would yield no new planets for current and future astronomers to hang their names on, so I’m not looking for any of them to notice the argument at all, human nature being what it is.

Call me old fashioned, but I really think these types of defining moments should reflect the need for clarity, not the desire for self-aggrandizement.

Spamming with Good Intentions

Somewhere in cyberspace…

Someone unboxes their spiffy new machine with the go-fast stripes and fumbles their way onto the Internet. They get their e-mail set up, and join a list. A few days later something shows up in the inbox, and it looks like it might be something “Everyone Should Know”. Why does this newbie think that? Because it says so right there in the text “Everyone Must Know This”. Why would someone send something titled “Everyone Must Know This” if it wasn’t something everyone should know? The newbie promptly forwards the message, because it’s “better safe than sorry”.

This same newb is then outraged when the next oldtimer who gets his helpful message dares to call him on the carpet for cluttering up his inbox. After all, he had the best of intentions at heart. What’s one message, after all?

All I have to say to that is, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”; and there are a million more newbies on the web everytime you turn around, every one of them forwarding messages “just in case”. It all adds up to more than “just one message”, it turns sorting e-mail into the hell I just mentioned.

The first clue to the quality of the content in the message can be found in the all important “Everyone Must Know This”. Any post that contains this sentence can be safely roundfiled, As can any post that claims to be looking for lost children, any post that promises a reward if you forward it, and any post from a barrister representing a wealthy potential relative who is recently deceased. It is guaranteed to be garbage.

I’ve quoted from Break the Chain before. They are far from the only source for this type of information. Might I suggest that if you would rather be safe than sorry, Use my Rollyo Debunk search before hitting forward the next time. It is definitely safer to check sources than to forward blindly. If you have only the best intentions at heart, then perhaps you don’t want to forward advice that could actually kill someone if followed.

Trust me when I say, I post this response with “the best of intentions”. If my post makes someone think before hitting ‘forward’ the next time some chain letter hits their inbox, then I have actually done some good, rather than just intended it.

Voting vs. Abstaining

I keep running across well intentioned individuals who seem to think they are achieving something by abstaining from the political process. Other Peoples Politics and Madness of Voting are two of the more recent examples of articles that I’ve read; however, there is a long standing tradition of not voting amongst anarchist and hard-core libertarian types that dates back to the days of Lysander Spooner. Just wander by the Voluntaryist some time, and have a look at the amount of work that’s been put into justifying non-participation in the current political process.

I got a kick out of the Voluntaryist statement of purpose; “Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society” Politics is the process by which groups make decisions. That is the definition for the word politics. Apparently they advocate a society that makes no decisions, which is an oxymoron. A society that makes no decisions is not a society.

This approach amounts to nothing more than sour grapes; I’m not playing until the rules are the way I want them to be. In the world the way I think it should be, a simple majority would be a meaningless political concept. Rights would stand inviolable by ignorant voters, who simply believe what the school board tells them and raises taxes for everyone because “The schools need more money”. In a properly set up government, every citizen would be pre-qualified to hold office. At election time, a name is drawn for each office that needs a new occupant, and the person attached to that name gets that job for the duration. None of these popularity contests, no owing favors to your backers once you gain office. The only thing binding you is your oath to uphold the constitution.

Unfortunately that isn’t the world we currently live in. The process outlined above is another form of democracy known as sortition; a process we should have adopted from the Greeks (rather than going with the beauty pageant, the essence of election) but did not.

I’m no devotee of elections (as the above should show) but the game stands as it was set by the people who preceded us here. Either you play the game before you, or you don’t play at all. You can pick and choose which parts of the game you will take part in; but the game will be played the same way it always has been.

When the major parties pay lip service to getting out the vote, while all their ads are clearly slanted towards convincing their opponents core constituency to stay away from the polls, it seems foolish in the extreme for the average libertarian to hand them precisely what they are asking for. The protest non-voters are simply lost in the shuffle, 10% (at most) of the roughly 50% to 60% who simply don’t vote in any given election.

However, if that 10% voted Libertarian, someone would notice. And imagine what would happen if the other half of the country showed up and voted LP at the same time? It might actually make some changes around here.


Jim Davidson (of Indomitus, linked above) has other things to say on the subject of voting. Like this bit of amusement that he titled Head Shots over at The Libertarian Enterprise. Other than his confederate sympathizers reference to Lincoln, I think it’s an excellent proposal. Perhaps I should get in a bit more silhouette practice.

Unfortunately a good many of his arguments refer back to the issue he has with Lincoln and the Civil War as his objections to this blog entry also make reference to the behavior of Lincoln in relation to the Constitution and what a proper society looks like.

I’ll leave the discussion of what a proper society is to another blog entry, as well as the subject of the kinds of confederate folly that Jim Davidson engages in, and address the points on voting that this entry is about.

I’ll beg Jim’s leave to reprint the salient points here:

I’m not a libertarian, RAnthony. I have signed the covenant of universal consent, so I am not average. I’m a propertarian and a free marketeer. Which is precisely why I cannot consent to a process that defrauds many and imposes force on all.

Those who choose to vote have given their consent to be governed by whomever has been chosen in the polls. As George Carlin explains, if you vote, you shouldn’t complain. The guys who counted the votes told you who won. You agreed that whoever the guys who counted the votes said was the winner would govern you. Carlin also noted that he doesn’t vote because he doesn’t consent to be governed.

Except for Carlin’s comment, granted on the above. I take the opposite tack from Carlin. Those who govern do so whether you consent to it or not. We had a discussion not so long ago concerning the nature of property (also a subject to be discussed elsewhere) where Jim took me to task for holding positions, and how that behavior was self-defeating. I submit that standing on the idea that you are refusing to consent to be governed, and so do not vote, you are in fact defeating yourself by holding an indefensible position. Those who govern will exert their authority whether you will it or not.

There is nothing that is right about this, it simply is.

I maintain that those who do not vote have no room to bitch about government. They have forfeited that right by refusing to participate in the process (rigged as it is) and should simply accept whatever raw deal is handed to them in consequence. Since Genghis Khan (and every other dictator in history) didn’t even bother with the trouble of a popularity contest before doing as he wished, I’m inclined to accept the (ridiculously) limited avenues of political expression available to me in exchange for my intention to rant on incessantly about every little thing that pisses me off in the current state of affairs.

The majority of people who don’t vote (and yes I know, the true majority voices no opinion at each and every election. It’s one of the things I find amusing when pundits talk about how “the majority has spoken”. Clearly they don’t get it) don’t bother to get active in the political process, and take no interest in politics, are the ones who enable the charade that we call government in the US to continue.

While the above description probably doesn’t apply to Jim and other activists that I correspond with, it definitely does apply to 90% or more of the non-voting public; the apathetic non-voter. Will voting change anything? I sincerely doubt it. But it beats sitting around doing nothing while the the current government destroys what little is left of the country.

Who’s birthday is it, again?

I like to experience my birthdays in a low-key fashion. No party, no celebration, just some quiet time at home. It took years to convince the wife that I really didn’t need a surprise party on my birthday (I’ve since found out that she does, so I dutifully attempt to plan one each year) it was just too unnerving, wondering when I was going to be ambushed. It’s been several years since the last party, and I haven’t missed it.

This year we went to Schlitterbahn for my birthday. How’s that for low-key? Well the kids loved it, and they are what is important to me these days.

So, I’m finally sitting at home enjoying my well earned quiet time, and the phone rings. It’s my mom. My mom, who is in California with her mom, on my birthday. Not here with me (not that it’s surprising, but the next part is) on my birthday, but in the even more distant (from Mom’s locus operandi, Albuquerque, New Mexico) She’s in Sacramento, California for her mom’s birthday. This is when I find out, for the first time, that my maternal Grandmother’s birthday is the day after mine. You’d think someone would have mentioned it in the intervening 40+ years, wouldn’t you?

Not if you knew my maternal Grandmother. This is the woman who was lovingly referred to as “The Wicked Witch of the West” for most of my childhood years. This is the woman who, when informed of the wife and my impending wedding plans said “I wouldn’t bother.” (If I was feeling generous I would hope she meant we should elope and save the wedding money, but I doubt that was the true motivation. It certainly didn’t come across that way.) The grandmother who doesn’t even know that she has great-grandchildren living in my house. The only reason I ever had kind words for her was because she was married to my sweet old Grandfather. Him I’d take time to talk to, or go out of my way to visit (it was on one of those visits when the wife earned the animosity of the rest of the family by putting the wicked witch in her place. It’s funny how family can be endlessly cruel to each other, but can’t abide it when it comes from the figurative outsider) but he’s been gone for several years now.

I do try to keep track of birthdays. I’m far from perfect about it, but I do try. Whether or not someone celebrates their birthday it remains an important day in a person’s life and I like to know when to pass on birthday wishes if I’m presented with an opportunity. Consequently I was a little surprised that I didn’t have Grandma’s birthday noted in my calendar even with the past relationship that we have had. This was a fact that I laughingly related to my mom, along with the fact that I didn’t even have contact information for her to append the birthday to, because I couldn’t imagine why I would ever need to talk to her.

My Mom’s response? “Well here she is, wish her a happy birthday!” I could hear my mental fabric ripping at that point. My side of the conversation went like this;

Hi, Grandma. Happy Birthday!”
“Yes, today is my birthday, and yours is tomorrow, isn’t that funny?”
“You didn’t know that today was my birthday?”
“Yes, I’m getting forgetful these days, too. Well, talk to you later.”

My mother calls me on my birthday so that I can wish a happy birthday to a relative that I mercifully have not thought of for years. A grandparent that hadn’t bothered to remember or mark the birthdays of the children of her only daughter. Ever. As in, she never called. She never sent gifts. She never uttered a peep or spent a cent on a birthday for me or my siblings, ever. That is how I will remember her, and I’m reminded of this fact on my birthday.

Thanks Mom. I think I’ll surprise her with a suitably equivalent gift next year. A car repossession, or perhaps an IRS audit. Something that reflects the thoughtfulness of the gift. From now on, on my birthday, I will be reminded that the WWW’s birthday is the very next day. Something to truly look forward to.

At least mom called. I guess.

It’s the Environment, Again?

There is a recurring cyclical argument in politics that is due for another ressurection. Every election cycle some variation of Clinton’s “It’s the environment, Stupid” is trotted out by desperate Democrats, and it generally plays well.

Global warming is just another variation on the theme, as Al Gore and his film An Inconvenient Truth readily prove.

The real Inconvenient Truth is; politicians lie, and Al Gore is just another politician. As Thomas Sowell points out in his latest column over at The Atlasphere, “Studies Show” is a phrase you should immediately discount:

More recently, the National Academy of Sciences came out with a study that supposedly proved beyond a doubt that human activities were responsible for “”global warming”.” A chorus of voices in the media, in politics and in academia proclaimed that this was no longer an issue but a scientific fact, proven with hard data.

The NAS report not only had statistics, it had an impressive list of scientists, which supposedly put the icing on the cake.
The only problem was that the scientists had not written the report and in fact had not even seen it before it was published, even though they had some affiliation with the National Academy of Sciences.
At least one of those scientists, meteorologist Richard S. Lindzen of M.I.T., publicly opposed the conclusion and has continued to do so. But that fact was largely lost in the midst of the media hoopla.
Besides, what is a mere meteorologist at M.I.T. compared to Al Gore and his movie. The environment is the Democrat’s terror war; and it has even less substance. The answer to the problem of the environment is to get the gov’t out of other peoples business…

[In other words, allow individuals to pursue polluters instead of placing the EPA in the way of progress on the issue. Which is what the EPA’s purpose is. Don’t beleive me? Explain superfund sites, then. Government forgiveness for polluting businesses. Taxpayer funded cleanup of corporate pollution.]

…And let the concerned private citizens handle the issues. As the world’s biggest polluter, the US gov’t doesn’t have any business pretending to care about the environment.


I have eaten a Big Bowl of Crow since publishing this and other thoughts on many subjects.  This is from my last post on climate change;

I was slow to buy in to the idea that climate change was a thing because of this, and for a brief time was in the same camp as several of my friends (and the late author Michael Crichton as another example) that climate change was some kind of conspiracy. It wasn’t until I ran across this argument presented on 350.org that I realized just how demonstrable AGW was

The EPA is necessary. In fact, the EPA isn’t powerful enough which is its major flaw. Superfund? That is a bought congress weakening the EPA from outside. The corrupting effect of money on the government. What we need is a global authority on the environment. I just hope we’re smart enough to craft an organization that will do the job it needs to do without becoming a totalitarian regime all by its lonesome. Able to protect natural resources without crushing human ability to use them. That task will redefine the phrase balancing act

Boiling Frogs

A message titled DC City Council Approves Temporary Expansion of Video Surveillance was posted to a list I belong to today with the body of message being just the phrase “And so it begins”.

Begins? This is just the latest phase here in the US. In Britain and in many other places across the world, this type of technology is already in place, being used by gov’t to keep track of its population on a day to day basis.

This is not a beginning, it’s an ending. The beginning is lost to history. Perhaps it occurred following the Civil War; when the gov’t that succeed Lincoln’s, fused what was a collection of independent states into a federal conglomerate that would be henceforth declared “indivisible”. Perhaps it goes all the way back to the time of the founders, when Alexander Hamilton got in bed with the bankers of his time and created the first central bank in the US.

Whenever the ‘beginning’ was, it makes very little difference now. The current (and growing) police state has very little to do with the free nation that existed before it. As the old adage goes, frogs will jump out of hot water, but will stay put until it’s too late if the temperature is slowly raised.

…It’s getting very hot around here.


Editor’s note 2016. The entirety of this post is a slippery slope fallacy.  As much as any one of us can see 1984 in the surveillance technologies in use today, there is also no denying that crime is averted or solved, lives are saved, with this technology.  The real question is, where do we draw the limits? That is the conversation that (still) needs to occur.

The title is a reference to a myth, as is the closing statement. As this article points out,

First, a frog cannot jump out of boiling water. Remember the last time you dropped some egg white into boiling water: the proteins coagulated into a mess of thin, white strands. Unfortunately, the proteins in the frog’s skinny legs would do the same thing. So the frog in boiling water could not jump anywhere. It would die a nasty death.

Second, a frog would notice the water getting hot. Professor Hutchison states, “The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ [the maximum temperature an animal can bear] of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water.”

FROG FABLE BROUGHT TO BOIL

No Fluids Now

I’m just not buying this latest wind up. What commonly available household fluids could be taken on board a plane (in sufficient quantities) and when mixed, would yield a high enough explosive result to bring down a plane?

Lots of talk about TATP, Acetone Peroxide, as the culprit. However, that explosive is a powder. How much fluid would be required in order to yield enough powder to create an explosion of sufficient size? (found this page on a possible detector)

I can’t help but think how convenient the timing of this all is. Senator Lieberman, the only pro-war Democrat in congress looses his parties nomination. Blair, Bush, et al are looking more and more like idiots these days; Iraq is a morass, the Middle East is in full melt down mode, and the UN is trying to stop Israel from cleaning house in Lebanon.

…What better way to motivate the populace to get back on the “Terror War bandwagon” than a good ol’ foiled terror plot?

Get out of Hell Free

Given my attitude, I’m sure no one would be shocked that I carry a wallet full of these cards around with me: http://www.goohf.com. I hand them out to anyone who’s having “one of those days”. Apparently, I’m not the only one: http://www.goohf.com/million.html.

I’ve never gotten a negative response. I’ve always received at least a smile in return, which can be quite an achievement, depending on how bad the day is. Finding something funny even in the worst situations is one sure way to alleviate stress (and as someone who’s Meniere’s trigger is stress, it’s important to know how to get rid of it) so I follow Saltheart Foamfollower’s advice and laugh, for “Joy is in the ears that hear”.

I’ve gotten some pretty strange looks over the years, laughing when there isn’t anything to laugh about. After twenty years experience in the architectural industry, when the boss once again shaves 30% off of all your estimations of time and money, and expects you to complete the project with no errors anyway, truly “it is to laugh”. Getting angry just makes the time pass more slowly.

…And who needs that?