Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Vitriole

Yeah. This is the same guy who offered $100,000 for nude photos of hunter Kendall Jones because he wanted to destroy her life. Despicable.

Oh, he claims to have a regular spot on a radio show. This may be an opportunity to cause an effect.
Tell the radio station to drop him, if he truly is a regular.

Tell them you will be contacting their advertising supporters as well:
http://www.whanradio.com/our-adverti...upporters.html

Monday, August 18, 2014

Unintended Consequences: solar plants scorch birds in mid-air

No matter how often you point it out, no matter how hard you try to beat them over the head with it, they just won't see the unseen. Crusaders, one and all, are blind, deaf, and stupid. One can only wish they were dumb too, but unfortunately not. When the consequences they never saw before they started on their pet projects finally arrive, they're shocked, shocked I tell you!

IVANPAH DRY LAKE, Calif. – Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant's concentrated sun rays — "streamers," for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.  
Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one "streamer" every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator's application to build a still-bigger version.  
The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.  
The deaths are "alarming. It's hard to say whether that's the location or the technology," said Garry George, renewable-energy director for the California chapter of the Audubon Society. "There needs to be some caution."  
The bird kills mark the latest instance in which the quest for clean energy sometimes has inadvertent environmental harm. Solar farms have been criticized for their impacts on desert tortoises, and wind farms have killed birds, including numerous raptors.
... 
Federal wildlife officials said Ivanpah might act as a "mega-trap" for wildlife, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays. 
Federal and state biologists call the number of deaths significant, based on sightings of birds getting singed and falling, and on retrieval of carcasses with feathers charred too severely for flight. 


Saturday, August 9, 2014

The separation of church and state?

Some statements are so clearly correct you just have to repeat them, and spread them as far and wide as you can.  GeekWithA.45 lays down god's honest truth, that the separation of church and state is just more smoke and mirrors when the state is their church! via The Smallest Minority: Quote of the Day - GeekWithA.45 Edition

The separation of church and state is an awesome idea... 
until you meet folks whose church IS the state.  
With high minds, noble virtues and the very best of intentions, they dance around their altars like neolithic savages, gathering followers to help them implore their $DEITY to accept their sacrifice and to provide for them; to organize their economies, to calm their storms, to heal their sick, to teach their children, to pave their streets, to collect their trash, and above all, to punish their enemies.  
The saddest thing is that most of these folks deem themselves to be evolved, and recognize no part of their atavism.  
Yep, separation of church and state is an awesome idea until you meet the folks whose church is the state.  
Then it's irrelevant.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Moral, logical, and practical arguments against more laws

When I talk to people about being a libertarian, they often think I am an anarchist. It's not true, but it's what they think. When it happens, their brains appear to shut down - they just can't or won't think about any further concepts I try to discuss. Tom Woods' interview with a zombie is a perfect caricature of this behavior.

Here are some things I would like to communicate to anyone who thinks "anarchist" when they hear "libertarian". 
First, repealing some laws does not make one an anarchist.
Second, all people are individuals, so necessarily each libertarian you meet will have a different opinion on which laws should be repealed, and which should be kept.
Third, and this is the big one, there are many arguments against using the force of law to handle a problem.  These arguments are moral, logical, and practical.

Moral arguments follow this line of reasoning: is what the person doing harming someone else? While we certainly have a moral obligation to protect ourselves from harm, it gets less clear when we discuss harm to someone else. It may be that we have a moral obligation to assist others, but we do not have an obligation to intercept harm intended for others - in other words, there is no moral obligation to throw ourselves upon the sword to protect someone else. Since this is the case, how could there be a moral obligation to protect a stranger from himself?  The answer is there is no such obligation.  A person's life is his own, and the risks he takes are his own.  His mistakes, his failures, his successes, are his own. 

Logical arguments are built on the premise that government authority is derived from the people. This form of government consists of various authorities delegated to the few from the many. Logically this means that the authorities being delegated to the few are naturally held by the many - that is to say, in the absence of government, each one of these delegated authorities or powers naturally belongs to the individuals comprising the many. That is what delegation means - you have a responsibility or power, and you authorize someone else to use that power on your behalf. The wonderful thing about logic, what makes it useful, is that it works in both directions. So because authority derives from people, and because all powers of government originally belonged to individuals, there can be no government power that individuals did not once have. Powers cannot come from nowhere - they come from the people.  So logically, if you or I do not have the right, power, or authority to do something, then government simply cannot have such a right either.

Practical arguments are based on the concept of practicality, or workability. Does it work? Is it cost effective? Does it do more harm than good? This argument looks at the real results and costs. If your proposal passes moral and logical arguments, does it still pass practical arguments? Will your proposal solve the problem you want to address? If it will solve it, does it create other problems in doing so? How will you solve those problems? What is the cost of your proposed solution, and what savings does it produce? If your proposal doesn't work, then stop right there. It doesn't matter whether you've got the moral and logical authority to implement it. It is a waste of resources and effort and will not solve a problem. Throw it in the bin!  If your proposal would work, but at great cost, so great that it would impoverish or severely impact the people, stop again. There needs to be an analysis of the effect - a cost-benefit analysis. If the net cost is too high, throw it in the bin. Does your proposal do more harm than good? Are you creating the desired effect, but harming others in doing so? If the harm your proposal causes greater than the benefits produced, throw it in the bin. The bottom line is that not all ideas work, even if you think there is both moral and logical support for them.

You can see how these three arguments can be used against the justifications for various laws. Take the war on drugs. Does personal drug use harm others, or self? It certainly harms the self. It may harm the relationships with others. However by itself, it does not harm others. If you smoke weed in a room by yourself, you are not harming me. I have no right to harm you and claim I and defending myself. This doesn't mean I approve of drug use - only that I see it as a personal mistake, and often a personal illness, not a criminal or aggressive act that harms a second party. Drug use is harmful to one's self, and there is no moral obligation to protect people from themselves

But let us suppose there is such a moral obligation. Let us suppose that the drug war laws fulfill a moral responsibility. Do they pass the logical arguments? If the government has the logical right to bust down someone's door, and arrest them and imprison them for harming themselves, then you and I have the same right. I can kick down my neighbor's front door, knock him to the floor, tie him up and kidnap him or members of his family, and then lock them in my basement for several years. After all, the authority that government has must have come from individuals like me. Does this fly? Does it "pass the smell test"? Of course not. You and I cannot do such things. Breaking and entering, assault and battery, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment. These are all crimes, and we would end up in jail if we committed them. So logically, there is no government right to enact a war on drugs and imprison drug addicts.

But again, let us suppose that the war on drugs does pass the logical arguments. Does it pass the practical arguments? Does it do what it sets out to do? No, the drug war has not stopped, or even slowed drug abuse. Is the cost of the program less than the benefit produced? We'd need to do a cost/benefit analysis on this. There are costs that are associated with drug addiction, including things like emergency medical care and many others. If the cost goes down more than the cost of the programs, then it would pass this test. I doubt it does though, since these costs are rising with the rising costs of the drug war itself. Does it cause more good than harm? Again, we'd need data. Does the drug war cure drug addicts? If so, how many? How many drug addicts go to prison and become hard core criminals while inside? It is well documented that prison does not reform criminals. Certainly sending non-violent drug addicts to prison doesn't do them any good if they come out still addicted, or with broken families and destroyed lives, though clearly that may have already been the case. This last test possibly is a wash.

In my examples I've made moral, logical, and practical arguments against the drug war, but again, I am vehemently against the use of drugs, and certainly not an anarchist.

If you read up to this point you know a bit more about how I think, so when you discuss government and law with me, these will help you start to understand why I think the way I do. There is more, much more, as there is with every person, but that can wait for some other post.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

University offers female students extra credit for hairy pits

The Captain's favorite major - Women and Gender Studies - has once again proven how useful it is to society! Arizona State University offers female students extra credit for not shaving their armpits:

Women and Gender Studies Professor Breanne Fahs, encourages her female students to cease shaving their underarms and legs during the semester and document their experiences in a journal. 

"One guy did his shaving with a buck knife."    

Student Stephanie Robinson said it was a “life changing experience.”

“Many of my friends didn’t want to work out next to me or hear about the assignment, and my mother was distraught at the idea that I would be getting married in a white dress with armpit hair,” Robinson told ASU news.

Men are also allowed to receive extra credit, as long as they shave their bodies from the neck down.

As the Director of the Center for Feminist Research on Gender and Sexuality Group at ASU, Fahs has been very active in women’s issues. Her academic journals have been published in outlets such as Feminism & Psychology, Psychology of Women Quarterly and Gender and Society. She has also authored books including Performing Sex, Moral Panics of Sexuality and her newest biography on the life of radical feminist and attempted assassin, Valerie Solonas. Participant and student Jaqueline Gonzalez said the experience allowed her to start on a path of activism.
It's so nice that kids can go to university today, even one funded by taxpayers, in order to learn how to have hairy pits and become community activists.  They should change the school name to occupy armpits university.

Fucking hell.  If I had a say in how my tax dollars were spent they would only go to engineering scholarships.

Oh boy, it get's better.  What are Professor Breanne Fahs' qualifications? She's a specialist in radical feminism and political activism, and the author of a book on Valerie Solanas, another radical feminist who is best known for her assassination attempt on Andy Warhol.
Breanne Fahs is an associate professor of women and gender studies at Arizona State University, where she specializes in studying women's sexuality, critical embodiment studies, radical feminism, and political activism.  She has a B.A. in women's studies/gender studies and psychology from Occidental College and a Ph.D. in women's studies and clinical psychology from the University of Michigan.  She has published widely in feminist, social science, and humanities journals and has authored three books: Performing Sex (SUNY Press, 2011), an analysis of the paradoxes of women's "sexual liberation," The Moral Panics of Sexuality (Palgrave, 2013), an edited collection that examines cultural anxieties of "scary sex," and Valerie Solanas (Feminist Press, 2014), a biography about the controversial and politically significant life of author/would-be assassin Valerie Solanas. She is the director of the Feminist Research on Gender and Sexuality Group at Arizona State University, a group that engages students and faculty to fuse activism and rabble-rousing scholarship, and she also works as a private practice clinical psychologist specializing in sexuality, couples work, and trauma recovery.

Friday, July 4, 2014

The economy has finally recovered all jobs lost during the recession...

Or has it?

True, the number of employed persons is now equal to what it was back when the recession started in 2007, and that is good news, but does that tell us the whole picture?

Take a look at the Civilian Employment to Population ratio.


This graph seems to tell us that the employment situation hasn't improved at all!

What about the loafers?  And I do mean loafers - those who have given up, not those who have successfully retired.


Am I right that 13.5 Million working aged Americans have completely given up looking for work and are living on the dole?  Well, if we assume most true retirees come from a pool of people over 55, we should see a large portion of people over 65 retiring.  Do we?


About half.  So 3 million people who joined the 55-64 age group decided not to work.  If we choose to believe that all of those are happily retired, there are still 10.5 million more people who aren't working.  How many are 65 and over?

From BLS data here and here, we know that we've gained 8.364 million people over 65. We also know that 2.2 million of these people have joined the labor force.  That may mean that the other 6.164 million are happily retired.

It is true that labor force participation rates are growing for the 55 and over crowd - they are the only group that is growing.  So it very well may be true that no one over the age of 54 is discouraged from working, they are happily retired.

We still have 4.336 million people of working age who are considered "long term discouraged" or perhaps disabled, but in any case, not working but not counted as unemployed.

Although I find it personally heartening that most people over 55 who are retiring are probably doing so intentionally, the numbers still mean that in the best scenario, we should add several million to the number of unemployed people. Even so, scenarios are models of reality, not reality itself.  In reality, it doesn't matter if people are happily retired or not.  If they aren't working, they must live off of savings or someone else's labor.

The bottom line is that while we have just returned to the same number of producers that we saw in 2007, those producers have to work harder to take care of those additional 15 million people that have joined the population who aren't able - or willing - to produce.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The EPA has a problem: employees are shitting in the hallways

If there was no other reason than this, it should be enough.  Just shut them down already.

Environmental Protection Agency workers have done some odd things recently. Contractors built secret man caves in an EPA warehouse, an employee pretended to work for the CIA to get unlimited vacations and one worker even spent most of his time on the clock looking at pornography. It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.
This rampant decadence reminds me of the drugs and sex scandal that rocked the Minerals Management Service before it was shut down and it's directives rolled into other departments.