U2, The Eagles and Jimmy Buffett

The top Tour acts of 05 have just been reported. I’m not sure how this should be interpreted. I’ve always been a fan of U2, but I thought they were going to retire a few years back. I guess the lucrative concert tours have made them change their minds.

So too with the Eagles, which I could have sworn have been doing farewell tours the last two years running. I guess it’s one of those extended goodbyes. Like the slow dances to their songs with high school girlfriends, you just don’t want those moments to be over. The next thing you know you’re 40 and have a gut that you wouldn’t want to show on stage. I noticed none of them seem to have that problem.

Coming in 9th is Jimmy Buffett. Way back in ’76 I can remember singing “lost shaker of salt” and wondering why you would need one for a place called “Margauritaville”. That guy started when the Eagles did, released albums and toured through the entire 14 years that they “went their separate ways”, was probably touring when Bono decided he was only going to have one name, and he’s still grossing in the top 10 acts of 2005.

I knew I was a parrothead for a reason. Or maybe it’s the other way around…

Killing in cold blood

Reading Knappster today (“Surf Naked for Jesus” why did you change that?) Ran across his entry on the 1000th death penalty victim. I don’t shed tears for murderers, whether they work for themselves or the state, but I do have one point I’d like to make.

The quote is:

“For some reason, apart from my general opposition to capital punishment (which pretty much comes down to “I can’t trust politicians to deliver mail on time; why the hell would I trust them to decide who needs killin’?”), I didn’t find “Tookie’s” case exceptionally compelling. Maybe if I’d studied the case more closely I would have, but I let it go by because … well, pretty much because a lot of people more prominent, more educated in the facts of the case and more interested had already taken it up. So. Anyway. Another state-sanctioned killing under the bridge.”

(emphasis added)

I can define my opposition to the death penalty quite easily. The government should not be allowed to do anything that individuals within the society are not allowed to do. Killing in self defense is allowed, and cops and prison guards should be armed (and forgiven) for actions taken in ‘self defense’ of themselves and ‘society’.

But, I have a hard time believing that an unarmed prisoner strapped to a gurney (or a chair, depending on your states murder predilection) presents any kind of a threat. And the killing of that person can only be counted as murder, making us no better than the murderer that we have exacted justice upon.

Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is preferable, in my opinion, than making myself party to murder; even if the man that we are killing “needed it”.


Mea culpa review 2017. I know I’m not a libertarian anymore because I feel no need to utter the word state when I mean government. When you need special words to describe the thing you hate, so that people like you can understand what you mean, you have started down the road to mass hallucination. However, the subject of killing in cold blood remains largely the same for me as it was back in the 90’s when I convinced myself I was a libertarian.

This post was updated in in 2017

East of “the Great Wall”

I always bristle when the average Austinite speaks up and disparages the East side of Austin. There’s this general impression of the East side (East of I-35, the “Great Wall”) as being a trouble spot, where criminals run rampant and the residents cower in terror.

I’ve lived in East Austin for about 15 years now, and I prefer it to any other portion of Austin. Imagine my mirth when I stumbled across this site today: http://www.incidentlog.com/lookup.pl?Src=81

In case you are wondering, the big blank spot on the East side of Austin is my ‘neighborhood’. Ah, I really love being right sometimes. Wish it happened more often.

30,000 silver dollars for a house?

The image to the right is intended to be placed on a t-shirt.
It contains a simple statement about value and how to retain it.
Pretty innocuous, don’t you think?

Looks can be deceiving….

One of the members to the list this image was a part of wrote:

The statement is false. $30,000.00 in silver 1 .oz at time will not buy a house in my market…won’t even touch it besides the fact no one would take payment for a house in silver liberty. Just an evaluation.

Being bored, and wanting to make a few people think, I wrote the following:

If you had saved 30,000 dollars in silver dollars, as minted by the US prior to the 60’s (which was 1 dollar for 1 ounce) you would have 300,000 dollars in silver coins (at least) today. Enough to buy a house in almost any market. That was the point being made; silver retains value, which makes the statement true. I would be willing to bet that a deal could be made in which silver can be exchanged for property. Most people who own property understand what real value is.

-RAnthony

Then this flew out of the peanut gallery:

The math is off here… Most US silver dollars (Morgan’s, Peace) have a net silver content of .77344 per $1(This is a higher content than the pre-65 dimes, quarters and halfs). 30,000 times .77344 equals 23,203.2 ounces of silver times $7oz equals $162,422.40. This amount is further contingent on someone actually giving you spot.
Return on investment(real inflation maybe?)
Annualized Return: 4.31%
Return for the entire period: 440.80%
Starting date: 9/8/1965
Starting value: $30,000.00
Ending date: 9/8/2005
Ending value: $162,422.40

My response “whatever, enough to buy a house” lead to a rather lengthy exchange concerning house values, the definition of “return“, the definition of “Dream House”, the questionable parental blood lines of parties to the argument, the sexual practices of those involved, etc. and ad nauseam (the average flame war) which then ended up with this:

I’m beating a dead horse here, but I like horse paste, I guess. All the bitching about what the value of silver coins from 40 years ago would be today lead me to investigate what was available 40 years ago, and what it would be worth today.

If you go here there is a description of what was available, coinage wise, and why, during the period being referenced.

So the coins that were available (and at face value then) were the Morgan and Peace dollars. Referencing the price guides at the links above, and going with the lowest price listed (15 dollars, if I’m not mistaken) for a silver dollar of that era, we get a rough value for 30,000 silver dollars being something in the realm of 450,000 dollars, not the 300,000 thousand that I originally estimated. As you can see, I was being conservative in my estimate.

Of course, the coins would probably have to be sold at auction, and so the value might be lower, but then there would be the odd coin that would have a greater value, and so the value might also be higher.

…BUT, even given the (inflated) average value for a house in the US as stated by others, 225,000 dollars, you could clearly buy a ‘better than average’ house (a ‘dream house’ in the estimation of the average person) with 30,000 silver dollars saved for 40 years.

With that argument, gentlemen, I rest my case. 😉

-RAnthony

There was, of course, another explosion from the peanut gallery (something about my mother, I’m sure) but I consider the case closed. I’m probably mistaken though.

Why? Because this sort of stuff can just keep cropping up:

This might provide a more easily comprehensible example to those of us who have not been 29 for 35 or so years.
When I was in high school, (58, 59, 60, and 61) you could go into any bank and exchange Federal Reserve Notes in any denomination for Silver Dollars (also known at the time as “Cartwheels”. They contain 371.?? grains of fine silver and some other metals to make them wear better as circulating coins. They were therefore 90% silver as required by the U.S. Constitution and the 1792 Coinage Act made in pursuance thereof. They were honest weights and measures.Convertibility into silver was stopped in 1964.
Had you, in 1963 placed 3,000 Silver Dollars into one Safe Deposit Box and 3000 one-dollar Federal Reserve Notes in another Safe Deposit Box, and still had them today, you could make this comparison.
In 1963, If memory serves, you could buy a fully loaded mid-line Chevy for about $3000.00. (remember, you could convert paper to silver and silver to paper then one-for-one)
If you went to your Safe Deposit Boxes today, and drew out those two stashes of $3000.00, the 3000.00 silver dollars would still buy you a brand new mid line Chevy (because you could convert them into $30,000.00 in Federal reserve notes by selling them at current market prices.)
However, the 3000 Federal Reserve Note “dollars” that you took out of the other Safety Deposit Box, would probably scarcely buy you much more than a nice set of wheels, tires and wheel covers.

The U.S. “Government” has become the greatest enemy of Freedom and Prosperity ever to exist on this planet. It smashes and crushes Liberty everywhere; like a plague of Locusts it consumes everything its path, leaving “scorched earth” and rotting bodies behind, all the while, grinning like some evil clown and proclaiming that it is trying to “Spread Freedom” to all peoples.
It is effectively a parasite which is like a vampire that has learned not to immediately kill the host; but simply drink it’s blood a little at a time, keeping it weak and emaciated but still retaining it as a food source.
The Federal Reserve admits that the income tax is NOT to raise revenue to run the government, but is primarily to facilitate the “re-distribution of income.” What do they mean by that? What they mean by that in plain English is that it’s purpose is to raise money to buy votes with and thereby enable it to continue it’s consumption of all that is good in America.
America today is like a once robust, but gaunt, weak and sickly “Paul Bunyan”, lumbering along – unaware of the giant vampire bat attached to the back of his neck. The Vampire (U.S. Government) grows bigger and stronger by the day and will soon be larger than the host. It, like any parasite, will continue to feed until the host dies, unless the gentle giant awakens to his plight and removes the Vampire from his neck.

I mean, it never ends, does it? Now I have to go fight a vampire federal government, when all I was worried about was some newbies question about a t-shirt design involving using US silver dollars to buy a house…

Supreme Court to Review Texas Redistricting

Texas Republicans in control of the state legislature shifted congressional district boundaries enough in 2003 that 8 million people — including large blocks of Hispanics — were placed in new districts, represented by different U.S. House members, justices were told.
Kennedy, a centrist swing voter, focused his concerns on how the shift affected Hispanics in South Texas. “It seems to me that is an affront and an insult,” he said.
The Texas boundaries were changed after Republicans took control of both houses of the state Legislature. DeLay had helped GOP legislative candidates in 2002, and was a key player in getting the new map that benefited him and other Republican incumbents.
Since then, however, he has struggled from the fallout. He was charged in state court with money laundering in connection with fundraising for legislative candidates. He gave up his leadership post and is fighting the charges.
DeLay also was admonished by the House ethics committee for asking a federal agency to help track aircraft that flew several Democrats out of state as part of quorum-breaking walkouts during the bitter fight over maps.
Justices did not mention DeLay, and he was not in the crowded courtroom.

Austin American Statesman, High Court Tackles Political Boundry Case
March 2, 2006

Supreme Court of Texas contact info

Computer redistricting. Anything else is Gerrymandering. Strangely enough, this is old news. What I want to know is, why didn’t the state act on the following two years ago?


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TESTIMONY FOR NON-PARTISAN REDISTRICTING

Austin, Texas, July 2, 2003 — The Texas House of Representatives Committee on Redistricting heard testimony today from members of the Coalition for Non-partisan Redistricting, Robert Howard, Jon Roland, and Patrick Dixon.

A video clip of the testimony can be viewed online at http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/committee78/30702p38.ram. To view it you will need a viewer such as RealPlayer from http://www.real.com. See also http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/redistricting.php.

In their testimony, the witnesses rejected not just the proposed new redistricting map, but the map used in the last election as well, and asked the Legislature to adopt a new method of obtaining district maps that is impersonal and not subject to human tampering or political manipulation. Instead of debating and adopting particular maps, the act would provide the specifications for the computer program, called Target, to use in drawing the map, and whatever map the computer produced would be the official map to be used in the next election.

The witnesses explained that each time the computer program is run, it produces a different map. The process is random. But all of the maps will meet the specifications. If anyone doesn’t like the maps, they should advocate different specifications. But any such specifications would be explicit and subject to public debate and judicial scrutiny.

Roland suggested that if the Legislature is concerned about the computer producing anomalous maps, the proposal could be modified to have the computer generate, say, a dozen maps, and then have a certain number of “strikes”, as are used to exclude prospective jurors during jury selection, to be applied by various members of the Legislature to eliminate some maps. The final selection would then be made from among the remaining maps by random lot.

Roland emphasized that this controversy threatens the precious bipartisan collegiality that has prevailed in Texas for more than a century, which allows legislative proposals from all parties and factions to be considered on their merits. If we allow such devisive issues to shatter that tradition, the result may be that only proposals by the leaders of the dominant party will have any chance of being heard. The result would not favor good or efficient government.

The proposal is at http://www.constitution.org/reform/us/tx/redistrict/cnpr_proposal.htm.

The Texas Legislative Council site is http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/

For a demonstration of the computer software see
http://txliberty.dyndns.org/inetpub/wwwroot/webfiles/LL030517H.rm

“Vertiginous Air”

While struggling with a vertigo attack today, I was reminded of a quote from one of my favorite authors Stephen R. Donaldson, a portion of which titles this compilation of previous postings on the topic. When I visited his site today looking for the release date for the next book, I discovered that I’m going to be waiting a long time. 2007, is the best guess; and the quartet of books isn’t due to be finished until 2013. This could be a new test of patience on my part. And I thought waiting on Harry Potter books was hard…


Concerning “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” which I finished re-reading for the 4th time recently.

I stumbled across several words that seemed, well, obscure at best, this time around. I was trying to explore the unexplored with this reading (in preparation for the next series of books) so I’ve been taking time to research a few of the more impenetrable words on the ‘net. I was pleased when I Google’d up this thread online. In fact, it was the only reference for the word “unhermeneuticable“, which was how I found it in the first place. Words like “Formication” (a feeling like insects crawling under your skin) can be found there as well.

[Edit. I have removed the direct links to the Kevin’s watch website, replacing them with links to the Wayback Machine archive. The site appears to be infected with malware as of 2018.]

her·me·neu·tics
Pronunciation: -tiks
Function: noun plural but singular or plural in construction
: the study of the methodological principles of interpretation (as of
the Bible) (from www.m-w.com)

Which, as “unhermeneuticable” would be something like “a non-methodological principle of interpretation”. Basically an “inexplicable conclusion”, most likely with religious overtones.
[The author himself has answered this question, here]


A few words on the proper reading of Donaldson, from an expert:

  • Unless you are reading the first Covenant trilogy, prepare your brain to be stretched to new proportions. SRD writes on a college level. He pulls no punches, and he doesn’t explain obscure concepts unless they are key to the novel’s progression. You are expected to keep up. The first Covenant Trilogy was written under extreme editorial pressure. They sliced out whole chapters, and re-edited much of the writing to make it appeal to less-educated and younger people. He himself has commented on this, and included one of the chapters that was removed in the short story collection Daughter of Regals. Every other set of books that he’s written has been longer and far more difficult to understand than the first Covenant trilogy.
  • Plot progression can be slow. Glacially slow in some books. That’s OK, because plot isn’t what you read Donaldson for. As an example, the first two books of the Gap series are merely an intro to the story that the Gap series tells. It doesn’t really get rolling until the third book and the introduction of the grafted Thermopyle (pronounced “Ther-MOP-i-lee, BTW) character.
  • Donaldson is obsessed with exploring the concept of redemption. Because of this, pretty much every character he creates suffers horribly through a good portion of the story. I’ve had several people tell me that they couldn’t get past the descriptions of leprosy in the first few chapters of “Lord Foul’s Bane”. But if you don’t understand the suffering of the character, you won’t appreciate the monumental task of redeeming that character. Exploring the world of leprosy brings you face to face with the impossibility of Covenant’s ever accepting himself in the role of hero. Reliving the crimes of the characters in the Gap series (explored in the first two books) gives you an idea of what those characters face when the true nature of the threat to humanity is revealed in the later novels.

That pretty much covers it. I finished the second book in Gap and went that’s it? The next one better get better and doggedly went on. I was rewarded with a pretty decent story from that point onward. It was a lot like reading Dune Messiah and Children of Dune. Doesn’t make any sense unless you read God Emperor of Dune. That’s where the payoff is.

“Stone and Sea are deep in life, two unalterable symbols of the world. Permanence at rest and permanence in motion, participants in the Power that remains.” – Giantish truism

Out of the frying pan…

So, we had a freeze last night that involved ice on the roads. In Austin, this is nearly a freak occurrence; something that only happens once every few years. They had the cops and emergency services out in force..


I heard a pretty funny quote from one of the Highway maintenance people. They were going to apply a special chemical “prophylactically” (his exact word, I kid you not) to keep ice off the roads. He had the guys at the radio station scratching their heads about it for about an hour.


…Covering all the bridges and generally creating a confused mess. In the midst of all this, I try and make my way home. Nearly there, I come across one of the helpful public servants who has parked his neon yellow vehicle across the 4 lane bridge and is directing traffic…

…Directing traffic onto the FLY-OVER RAMP! Single lane, 30 feet higher in the air than the bridge he had so helpfully closed with his vehicle. And he couldn’t figure out why I wouldn’t follow his directions, if you can believe that.

I did finally make it home (obviously) but it makes a great point about government assistance, doesn’t it? Really guys, I appreciate the thought, but I’d like to be allowed to make my own decisions. If it isn’t too much trouble. OK?

Well actually I’m going to do it anyway, just thought I would ask first.

A day… That won’t be my son’s birthday!

We had originally been told that this would be pumpkin boy’s birthday. It may have been this information that inspired the early arrival, at least according to The Wife. Not having to share a day with Pearl Harbor day. Like my father’s beef with being born on September 11th these days. It’s probably better to be born on Halloween, if you look at it in hindsight.

.

“Righteous indignation”

I’ve been meaning to write this one for awhile. I dragged myself out to vote November Eighth. I do this every time an election rolls around, not because I think my vote will be counted properly (another rant in the making) and not because I think it will change anything (most of the issues go the other direction by hefty majorities. I blame it on education) I do it because it gives me a license to bitch when the will of the majority goes awry. As it has in the past. As it will this time around too.

With the passage of Prop. 2 here in Texas, the majority has officially endorsed the end of “equality before the law”. What do I mean by that? Quite simply, they have stated that certain individuals have more rights than others, according to law. That if you cohabitate with ‘A’ member of the opposite sex, you can declare what you have a ‘marriage’, and claim the privilege that come along with it. Things like tax exemptions, health insurance coverage for ‘family members’, etc. Things not available to people who happen to cohabitate with any number of other people (no matter what sex they are) for whatever reason. Prop. 2 writes into the Texas Constitution that a household formed of one man and one woman has rights that others in the state don’t have, setting up preferential treatment for a specific portion of the population. Some of us (and since I’m one of the special people who happens to cohabitate with a woman, I’m one of ‘us’. Go figure) have more rights than others, and it’s written right into the ‘law of the land’. Equal before the law? Not any more.

How dare they put their faith above everything else? “Marriage is Sacred” they say. Then why can it be performed by a judge? It’s just another contractual arrangement now, no matter what it was in ancient times. If they wanted to retain the ‘sacred’ rites of marriage, then they should never have allowed the government to take part in the rites at all. It should only be performed in a church.

Back at the dawn of the internet, I used to spend time arguing on various forums on CompuServe (back when I was simply known as 71613,115@compuserve.com, before AOL bought the company and gutted it of its hardware) on the Gay and Lesbian forum I had several arguments with well intentioned people who were convinced that they needed special laws to protect them. I only ceased arguing with them when they provided proof that they were still persecuted in modern day America. I ceased to argue with them, but my views have not changed. There should not be ‘special’ laws for any group in America. Not for Gays, not for Women, not for Minorities; and most definitely not for ‘Marriage’.

I was, and still am outraged at this; especially in light of the ‘straight’ majority in Texas having now added one more misbegotten and meaningless amendment to the Texas constitution (a document that with each passing election shouts it’s need for complete replacement; just try reading it sometime) that will most likely backfire as have most of the ones before it. And I really hope it does. Just waiting for that case that opens the can of worms. “What do you mean, no marriages are ‘legal’ in the state of Texas? How could that be?”