Monday, December 29, 2008

Now, there's some tolerant individuals, there.

The Taliban, now based in Pakistan, have demanded that all girls' schools in the area they control be closed, and that no girls are educated. If the people in the area refuse, or simply don't move fast enough, the schools will be blown up. Likely with the girls and teachers still inside.

Such kind, tolerant, gentle, religous men, they are.


Somebody admits it: "the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise."

Even better: "hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that 'consensus' [that the earth was warming at a catastrophic rate, fueled by human pollution] which was only a politically engineered artefact (sic)," designed to allow the liberal Brahmins to keep control of the plebeian masses.

Thank God somebody has some sense.

Of all the stupid...

Here's how a major, national bank goes under.

"As a supervisor at a Washington Mutual mortgage processing center, John Parsons was accustomed to seeing baby sitters claiming salaries worthy of college presidents, and schoolteachers with incomes rivaling those of stockbrokers. He rarely questioned them."

Dumb idea. However, with the Fairness in Housing act forcing banks to make loans to people who did not qualify financially simply because of race, why not lend to everybody, regardless of whether or not they were an "oppressed minority"?

As if that wasn't enough, the individual mentioned above was serving time in prison. For theft.

"'I'd lie if I said every piece of documentation was properly signed and dated,' said Parsons, speaking through wire-reinforced glass at a California prison near here, where he is serving 16 months for theft after his fourth arrest - all involving drugs.

While Parsons, whose incarceration is not related to his work for WaMu, oversaw a team screening mortgage applications, he was snorting methamphetamine daily, he said."

Maybe his incarceration wasn't related to his job, but with that kind of a drug addiction, and the theft that he was imprisoned for, there's no guarantee that there was no embezzlement going on. It just means that there was none caught or proven.

"'In our world, it was tolerated,' said Sherri Zaback, who worked for Parsons and recalls seeing drug paraphernalia on his desk. 'Everybody said, "He gets the job done."'"

Seriously, do they live in a different world from the rest of us? How is rubber-stamping bad mortgages "getting the job done"?

"If [Dana Zweibel, a former financial representative] doubted whether customers could pay, supervisors directed her to keep selling, she said. 'We were told from up above that that's not our concern," she said. "Our concern is just to write the loan.'"

Write the loan. No matter what, write the loan. Don't take it to the loan officer. Don't call the lendee's bank for verification. Just write the loan.

"Martine Lado, an agent in the Irvine, California, office, said she had coached brokers to leave parts of applications blank to avoid prompting verification if the borrower's job or income was sketchy.

'We were looking for people who understood how to do loans at WaMu,' Lado said."

So, the ability and willingness to defraud stockholders was what WaMu was looking for in employees? 'Fraid so.

"By the time shareholders joined WaMu for its annual meeting in Seattle last April, WaMu had posted a first-quarter loss of $1.14 billion and increased its loan loss reserve to $3.5 billion. Its stock had lost more than half its value in the previous two months. Anger was in the air."

I don't doubt it. I'd be a little . . . irritated, too.

Some shareholders were irate that Killinger and other executives were excluding mortgage losses from the computation of their bonuses. Others were enraged that
WaMu had turned down an $8-a-share takeover bid from JPMorgan.

Well, duh. They were writing themselves bonuses on capital lost by the investors. Of course investors were pissed, especially at the refusal to stop the cash hemorrhage.

It gets worse, of course.

In September, Killinger was forced to retire. Later that month, with WaMu buckling under about $180 billion in mortgage-related loans, regulators seized the bank and sold it to JPMorgan for $1.9 billion, a fraction of the $40 billion valuation the stock market had given WaMu at its peak.

Billions that investors had plowed into WaMu were wiped out, as were prospects for many of the bank's 50,000 employees. But Killinger still had his millions, rankling laid-off workers and shareholders alike.

This is the picture of what happened at only one failed, major bank. This is what we, the public, has funded with the partial nationalization of the banking industry. I know Killinger and company's "millions" is far from enough to pay back what he FUBARed, but it's a start.

And I, and probably thousands of stockholders and employees, think we should start with the millions defrauded out of investors' pockets with unearned (to say the least) bonuses.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Seven deadlies: Gluttony

Over the past few weeks, I’ve discussed many of the seven deadly sins. So far, I’ve written about wrath (one I struggle with), greed, envy, sloth, and lust. This week’s sin is gluttony. Given the way everyone overeats on the holiday we’ve just passed, I can think of only one more appropriate time to write about this particular sin.

So, what is gluttony? The Catholic Encyclopedia defines it as “the excessive indulgence in food and drink.” So, how is that a sin, and more importantly to this discussion, how is it a mortal sin? Two ways: if one

“absolutely and without qualification [lives] merely to eat and drink, so minded as to be of the number of those, described by the Apostle St. Paul, "whose god is their belly" (Philippians 3:19)…Likewise a person who, by excesses in eating and drinking, would have greatly impaired his health, or unfitted himself for duties for the performance of which he has a grave obligation, would be justly chargeable with mortal sin.”

Many Americans are guilty of at least the latter. All we have to do is look at the obesity rates, and the sizes of the meals that restaurants serve. Not to mention the "all you can eat" specials that buffet restaurants specialize in. The way Americans have been trained to eat by the public sector definitely falls under the heading of "overconsumption."

As for impairing one's health to the point that he or she can't work, consider one of the newer, government declared, disabilities for which one can get a government check: obesity.

The former is a bit more problematic, in my opinion. It seems as if the former way gluttony is a deadly sin includes psychological comfort eating, something that most obese people do as a matter of course.

For those who don’t know why people comfort eat, imagine if you’d never had a friend. Never had the approval of your parents, or teachers, or anyone else, for that matter, for most of your life. The only thing in your life that hasn’t implied or said that it’s disappointed in you is food. So, you eat. While you eat, your brain releases little feel-good chemicals that last for a little while. And then, when you start to feel bad again, you go eat some more. Eventually, you’ll gain a little weight, and start to feel worse about yourself. So you go eat some more. It turns into a vicious cycle that’s really hard to break. In a lot of ways, this is a more severe, more insidious addiction than drug addiction. Everyone has to eat, after all, and you can’t quit.

Another reason some people might comfort eat is because that’s the way they were raised: if they were upset, their parents loved them with food. No time is this more apparent than the feast days in American holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter (to a lesser extent), and some of the secular holidays that involve eating too much at barbecues or picnics, or drinking too much waiting for midnight. Families celebrate with overabundant amounts of food, because “well, we see you so seldom, and we love you so much.”

Again, this isn't one of the sins that really appeals to me. I never found comfort in food or drink; however, my family and many of my friends do. And, as I love them, I understand how and why they overindulge. And, while I don't think that comfort eating would fall under the mortal sin category, I can see why the early church would: you're turning away from God for comfort.

However, I'll leave you this week with a question: why do people turn to food instead of God? Whose fault is it, the individual's, or the people around them that either drive them to it by cruelty, or simply don't care enough to notice their pain?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry F^@#ing Christmas, Infidels

One of Britain's television channels will air a Christmas message from Iran's Ahmadinejad.

If it's actual good wishes and not a "fuck you, Infidels," message, I'll faint.

In any case, it doesn't matter what the nut says. Merry Christmas, everyone. I've got all I've ever wanted--my own family, my own home, and my son's health. I'd like peace on earth, or at least amongst my family, but I'll take what I can get.

May you receive God's blessings today, and every day, and may you never forget the Gift He gave us on the First Christmas Day.

Global warming is to secular humaninsm and athiesm what the devil is to Christianity

The Left is blaming global warming for "everything from beasts gone wild to anorexic whales to the complete breakdown of human society this year..." because there is no outside evil that they believe in to be able to pin stuff on.

If enviornmentalism wasn't a religion followed by secular humanists and athiests, they wouldn't sell indulgences like the Medieval Catholic church did.

Next thing you know, they'll be blaming global warming for the record snowfalls clogging Seattle streets (that the city refuses to salt), people freezing to death, women giving birth in snowbanks, and train travel being delayed by frozen plumbing.

More signals

Splat. Housing prices are still falling.

Splat. Oil prices are still falling.

Splat. Consumer spending is still falling (though shoplifting is increasing).

Splat. Unemployment is rising.

Looks like we're getting a recession for Christmas this year, and likely a full-on depression next year.

Anything you can do, I can do better...

China recently announced that it would be sending naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to protect its shipping interests from the Somali pirates. The ships should depart before the end of the month.

Japan just announced that they'd be sending naval vessels to the Gulf of Aden to protect its shipping interests from the Somali pirates. No Japanese vessels have yet been taken, but three have been shot at.

Does anyone else see a case of oneupsmanship here?

Wow. I hope we still have the testicular fortitude to deal with this.

If anyone still doubts that Russia is a clear and present--and growing--danger, this should change their minds.

Anyone reasonable would have believed it when they invaded Georgia. Or sold arms to Syria. Or began building a nuclear reactor in Iran. Or became chummy with our enemy to the south, Venezuela, and offered to help them acquire nuclear power. Or began harassing our airspace in Alaska.

Really, there are any number of provocations that should have convinced people that Russia is maneuvering us into a corner. Unfortunately we've been too monofocused on either Iraq, or on our own economic problems.

We cannot afford that monofocus anymore.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


David Spade is an ace in my books. Seriously, dude, way to put your money where your mouth is.

Thank you for the donation to the Phoenix law enforcement.

Now let's see if he ever works in Hollywood again.

It's about time someone stood up to these punks.

A group of animal rights extremists in England have been convicted of blackmail.

About time, I say. I hope the testicular fortitude to go after the rabid environmentalistas and PETA hypocrites crosses the pond.

And this shows why, when I begin to believe that we're better than that, I'm always disappointed

A woman was recently gang raped by four men in California.

As if that wasn't traumatic enough, she didn't even like men in the first place.

The authorities are investigating it as a hate crime, since her car had rainbow and gay pride bumper stickers prominently displayed, and since she said that the rape was accompanied by taunts about her orientation.

There is no justification for this. She didn't "ask for it," as some of the commenters on the news story have said. She didn't set herself up for it by setting herself apart. She did not deserve it, and she will be a long time recovering from it, if she ever can.

However, I don't really like the idea of labeling it a "hate crime."

I don't think the four rapists targeted that woman, specifically, because she was gay. It's just as likely that any woman showing up at that particular place at that particular time would have been attacked in the same way by the four goons who are never described well enough to be found and arrested (i.e., probably racial minorities, which the media won't report on because it's racist).

I don't think that proposition 8 sparked it, either. Some gay rights activists say that anti-gay individuals see such legislation as justification. I don't know but what it might; however, I think it's as likely (if not more likely) that it's the gay lobby's own violent reaction to proposition 8 and similar legislation that sparks such violence.

After all, proposition 8 won mostly on racial minorities' votes.

Whatever the case, again, the victim was just that: a victim. She did not deserve the attack. She did not provoke it. She was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I'm praying for her recovery.

I'm also praying that her attackers are quickly found and punished, if not by legal means, then by divine retribution.

Unfortunately, much can be learned from failure, with the right people doing the analysis

Russia's new submarine-based strategic missiles have failed in the booster phase in about half the tests, according to sources.

Apparently, what happens is that the missiles, which have an effective range of about 5,000 miles, go catastrophically off course soon after launch. It sounds, to me, like a computer guidance system glitch, something that it will only take enough hours of looking at code to fix.

In other words, something easy, if tedious, to correct. I don't like the idea that they could sneak a submarine that carries missiles with up to ten warheads each sneaking up to our coast. With a range like this, if they can fix the guidance glitch, they could land a warhead pretty much anywhere in our country. I'd much prefer that the tests showed that the estimated range was overly optimistic--say, only about a quarter to a third of the range.

Russia has learned a lot about functioning economies, and about quality weapons systems, in the years since they lost the first cold war, whereas we seem to have forgotten most of what we learned.

It goes to show that more can be learned from failure--if the loser survives it--than from success.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thank you, oh masters of the obvious

Vice President Elect Biden said Friday that the economy is in danger of "absolutely tanking." President Elect Obama further said that it will take years in recovering, and that government action must be bold and swift to prevent it from taking longer. People are blaming President Bush for failed policies that attempted to place anyone who applied for a mortgage into a house, no matter whether they qualified or not.

To Vice President Elect Biden: well, duh. Where have you been? The economy has been "absolutely tanking" for a few months, now. I guess you were too busy on the campaign trail with President Elect Obama to see the truth behind the poisonous rhetoric you were spewing.

To President Elect Obama: yes, it's going to get worse before it gets better. Yes, it will take years. And yes, the government must act boldly and swiftly to prevent it from becoming worse than it might, or taking longer than it should; HOWEVER, the swift, bold action you've already articulated was the same swift, bold action that prolonged the Great Depression in the 1930s! The action that the government should be taking is to lower taxes, on individual income, on businesses, and on capital gains. Along with that, the government should force the breakup of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Sallie Mae (student loans), and all of the banks that mergered to become "too big to fail." Remember the cliche about all your eggs in one basket.

To those blaming President Bush for the mess: yes, there should have been more oversight. However, "oversight" doesn't mean "regulations" that choke the business model, merely preventing Clinton alumni from looting the mortgage giants that the government created and turned loose. And speaking of the Clintons, it was their policies, not Bush's, that pushed banks into sub-prime lending. It was their administration that disastrously expanded the Fair Housing Act to force the issue with threats of prosecution of racism.

Granted, the Fair Housing Act was expanded with the best of intentions, and no one expected banks to charge leg-breaker interest, but you know what they say about good intentions.

I have an idea...

MTV is worried about ratings falling, and are planning sixteen new reality series. I have a better idea, though: why don't they take some of the reality shows off MTV, and try putting, oh, I don't know, music videos on?

Slow cycle in the reactor

I dare Al Gore to explain, in a coherent, scientifically sound manner, how he thinks the current winter weather hitting the entire U.S. disasterously hard is a symptom of global warming.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seven Deadlies: Lust

I have been and will be (for a few more weeks, at least) dealing with the seven deadly sins, and their applications in the modern world by those who give lip service to being Christian, and those who declare that sin doesn’t exist. The seven deadly, or serious, sins are wrath, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, and pride. So far, I’ve written about the first four; today, I’ll discuss lust—one of the easiest to see in our modern, sexualized culture.

To reiterate, Thomas Aquinas’s definition of mortal sins is “something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law, or a thought, word, or deed contrary to the eternal law.” The Catholic Encyclopedia online further clarifies that as “an aversion from God” caused by a “preference given to a mutable good.”

With this definition, it’s easy to see how lust is one of the mortal sins. Sex seems pretty harmless, and is considered holy when confined to the marriage bed. I cannot say that I have fully lived my beliefs, but I can say that the only people I’ve ever slept with were people I intended to marry (the first one was, obviously, not the one I married, but that’s a whole different episode of Jerry Springer). I have not, however, allowed my lower nature free reign to the detriment of my higher nature and my relationship with God.

And it’s when the lower nature takes over, causing the individual to pursue sex—whether with the opposite sex, same sex, or both—that the sin becomes mortal.

Look at our current culture. Anybody watch MTV lately? Wait, I forgot: they don’t play music anymore; nor does VH1. However, if you can find a station that does play popular music videos, what do you find? Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” among other things. Many of today’s popular songs are blatantly sexual—and the videos border on pornographic.

And speaking of pornography, ever noticed how easy it is to find? How hard (no pun intended) it is to protect our children from it? I have no objection to a married couple using it in private, but when it damages or replaces relationships, it’s certainly problematic. Also problematic is how it can numb people to the joy God intended the marriage bed to bring.

Ever taken a look at the girls walking around on college campuses? Seriously, there are times I want to pull some of them aside and explain that they don’t want to advertise what they do to pay for college like that. They’re desperately chasing momentary pleasure, hoping that it’ll turn into a lifetime with one partner without realizing that, by participating in the culture of casual sex, they’re both implicitly approving of the culture that mocks commitment, and damaging their chances to find the love they’re longing for.

Everyone has a lower nature that seeks out pleasure. Most of us understand, and are tempted by, this particular sin. However. I’ve said it before, and I cannot overemphasize it here: humans are unique amongst the animal kingdom only in that we can fight, and overcome, our lower natures. Once again, yes, it is a fight, but it’s well worth it.

News flash: global warming driven by nuclear fusion.

Finally! Some sense on global warming: Chad Meyers, CNN's meteoroligist, has stated that he thinks it's arrogant to think that humanity could significantly change the climate.

Seriously, I'm beginning to think that Human-Caused Global Warming is a nihlist religion rather than any type of scientific theory or inquiry. Just watch: Meyers will be harassed/punished/fired for his statement, since it doesn't fit with CNN's world view.

Not surprising.

Nobody's getting raises this year, not where I work. Not deans, heads of department, tenured professors, adjuncts, staff, or student help. The economy sucks all over.

I should have run for congress.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

At least someone's doing something.

China is putting together an anti-piracy fleet.

The lesson to be taken from this is that it's best to be willing to act with or without U.N./NATO sanction.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Not the only test, but an important one.

I never thought I'd be glad that President-Elect Obama named his opponent Hillary Clinton to his cabinet, but I think she'll be a magnificent Secretary of State, especially given that one of the first tests he'll face will be Russia. And given how blind the Pentagon is about the issue. Anyone can be a threat, and refusing to acknowledge the provocation will only make the Russian government bolder.

And yes, Russia is trying to provoke and control us, just as they attempt to control their own populace. Their gift to Lebanon is likely to destabilize the region just a little--maybe enough to keep Israel from destroying Iran's newly acquired nuclear abilities, maybe not. It will definitely take Israel's attention from other things in the Middle East that they've been watching--like terrorist training facilities in the Gaza Strip and in Syria. With that attention gone, the terrorist organizations have more freedom to move.

And to strike.

While Russia is definitely a test that President-Elect Obama must face--and pass--it's not the only one, or even the most important; however, several other tests' success hinge on this one.

Dear Santa,

This must have been one of the saddest letters ever written to you. I'm sure you'll be glad to know that, unlike twenty years ago, the authorities were called, rather than the abuser.

Put that school counselor on your nice list this year. And the little girl and her sister, too, since they've both suffered enough to make up for however naughty a child can be.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

And there's not really an end in sight. It's nasty all the way across the nation, from California, through the Midwest, all the way out to the Northeast.

And I'm not the only one that sees the global warming hysteria for what it is: several scientists are calling the AP piece I mentioned the other day "horrifically bad." That it "contained sweeping scientific errors"--and yes, they were bad enough that an English professor with only a basic understanding of science could see them.

Update: Las Vegas has had its first snow storm in thirty years. They had to close their airport.

Just because the government declares the crisis "over" or "dealt with" doesn't mean that they're right.

Henry Paulson has stated that no more financial institutions will fail. How does he know that? I thought all their crystal balls were broken.

President Bush said that he sacrificed free-market principles to save the economy. Unfortunately, this heroic action is bound to backfire. It did in FDR's time, and it will now.

The Federal Reserve made a steep rate cut, causing the market to come back up a bit temporarily. I think it's the wrong thing to do, or at least not enough or badly timed. Individual consumer credit debt (which is mostly unsecured) is unlikely to lower their rates in response, given how many are defaulting, and how much difficulties the banking and credit industries are having staying afloat. And the only way out of this deflationary economy is to boost consumer spending while not putting consumers in a worse position of debt.

When President Bush says that he's abandoned free market principles, what he means is that he's been in on the partial nationalizing of the banking industry, as well as a few others. He means that he's agreed to increase regulatory rules on investments and on how businesses may or may not be run by their boards.

The real problem was a lack of oversight, not a lack of regulation as congress has said. That lack of oversight allowed the executives to loot Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That lack of oversight has also allowed massive fraud to be perpetrated on non-mortgage-backed investments as well: the Madoff case victims list is swelling day by day as the investigation continues.

The government can say that this part of the crisis, or that part of the crisis, or the whole entire thing is done all it wants. That doesn't make it true.

Who was the bailout for, anyway?

The auto industry? Nah, they could still just take bankruptcy and reorganize into profitability. The workers? Not so much. It's entirely possible for the auto industry to reorganize and not cut many jobs.

No, the entity that stands to benefit the most is the UAW. After all, they're the ones that refused to negotiate on certain things (like pay cuts in exchange for jobs kept), and killed the bailout.

Not that I'm complaining. I thought it was a bad idea from the start.

Monday, December 15, 2008


This is ironic.

Does anyone still doubt that Russia is the same as it ever was?

The Kremlin is no more disposed to permit free speech than it used to be. Not only did it order police to prevent a protest, but the arrest of somewhere between 90 (according to the authorities) and 130 (according to the protesters) went completely unreported in Russia's media.

Russia is rebuilding ties with old Cold War allies, and building ties with new ones. The government has sent ships to Nicaragua, to Cuba, through the Panama Canal, and are involved in war games with Venezuela.

Russia is not serious in its negotiations with us over the missile defense shield that its former satellite nations wish to host, and that we intend to protect Europe from rogue powers in the Middle East (who, incidentally, buy most of their armaments from Russia). They're completely unwilling to see it as anything but aimed at them, and refuse any solution that doesn't remove the missile defense sites. That makes me suspicious of their reasons why they're so worried about a defensive technology.

I'm also suspicious that, if they're not entirely behind the recent snub that Latin America has dealt the United States, they're definitely encouraging it.

The behavior displayed by the New Russia is the same as that displayed by the old USSR during the Cold War. I don't think there's any possible dispute about that.

Damn you, Bandit Six!

It isn't the bird flu (see chapter 3), but this doesn't look good. It's overloading Britain's hospital capacity.

Not only does Bandit Six seem to be right about global cooling (see previous post), but about health care nastiness, too.

Still no explanation

Denver had a record low of fifteen below zero, yesterday, replacing the record of fourteen below set in 1901.

The power's still out in the ice-storm damaged Northeast, with more outages threatened.

North and South Dakota have been hit by vicious blizzard conditions, closing the major interstates.

Symptoms of global cooling in the cycle, right? Not according to some:

When Bill Clinton took office in 1993, global warming was a slow-moving environmental problem that was easy to ignore. Now it is a ticking time bomb that President-elect Barack Obama can't avoid.


Scientists are increasingly anxious, talking more often and more urgently about exceeding "tipping points."

"We're out of time," Stanford University biologist Terry Root said. "Things are going extinct."

U.S. emissions have increased by 20 percent since 1992. China has more than doubled its carbon dioxide pollution in that time. World carbon dioxide emissions have grown faster than scientists' worst-case scenarios. Methane, the next most potent greenhouse gas, suddenly is on the rise again and scientists fear that vast amounts of the trapped gas will escape from thawing Arctic permafrost.

So, how do they explain the cool year we've had? How do they explain away the earth's down cycle? They don't, at least, not convincingly.

Mother Nature, of course, is oblivious to the federal government's machinations. Ironically, 2008 is on pace to be a slightly cooler year in a steadily rising temperature trend line. Experts say it's thanks to a La Nina weather variation. While skeptics are already using it as evidence of some kind of cooling trend, it actually illustrates how fast the world is warming.

Our current weather patterns "actually [illustrate] how fast the world is warming"?!? How stupid do they think we are? A simple weather pattern does not explain overall cooler temperatures worldwide. And I think I can explain the Arctic melt that they're so concerned about--maybe not scientifically, but in a way that anyone can understand.

When, in the summer, we start filling swimming pools--or even wading pools--the water is frigid. It takes forever for it to warm up, even in direct sunlight. On the flip side, once it's warm, it takes forever for it to cool down, even with a week-long clouded over sky following a cool front.

I will not deny that the world has been warmer for a few decades. That's a measurable fact. It probably heated up the all of the oceans, like a gigantic swimming pool. It's going to take a while for that pool to cool off--it probably would take a long time even if we were to go into another ice age.

In fact, if I recall my basic, elementary school history and science, most of the worst effects of the ice ages were mitigated by oceanic currents near the coast, and were only really bad in the interiors of large continents.

But worldwide cooler temperatures actually a symptom of anthropogenic global warming? Please.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another rant.

I could not wait for next week's FFOT thread for this one. I'm still steaming. I'd like to go to the range, but have no one to watch the boy for me.

Yesterday, my other half and I dropped our son off at his grandparents' so that we could go Christmas shopping. Part of that Christmas shopping was for me: since I'd gotten him a CZ-52 for Christmas/birthday last year, he wanted to get me something I'd been drooling over longer than he had the pistol: a Mosin-Nagant rifle. And there was a gun show going on.

Well, the gun show was a bust. Not that there weren't Mosin-Nagants, just not any that we wanted to buy, or could afford to. There was one that I would have loved to own--a pretty much mint condition sniper variant--but was about $350 out of our price range.

What peeves me is that there was a table full of Nagants, all priced $95-$110, armory refurbished. And each and every one of them had been ruined by the fucktards selling them! The idiots had shot corrosive ammo (most of the ammo for these rifles is the cheap, WWII surplus) through each one, and not cleaned the rifles!

There were several signs that demonstrated that the father-son duo didn't know what they were doing:

1. The bolts were all zip-tied closed.

2. Each and every one of the armory refurbished rifles had been fired, and not cleaned, "to prove they worked."

3. Neither father nor son had ever heard of the Windex trick* to neutralize the corrosive elements in the surplus ammo.

4. They bragged about leaving the rifles dirty! They bragged about leaving guns uncleaned after having fired them! THEY DIDN'T CLEAN THE GUNS!

Y'know, there are reasons why most states have laws against siblings marrying. And the boy proved that those reasons hold true when the laws are ignored: "All the rifles work. I've shot each and every one of them."

Duh. The Mosin-Nagant bolt assembly is one of the simplest and most fool-proof out there. The trigger assembly is the same. When the rifles were turned in to the armory for storage, each one was tested, parts replaced, barrels replaced, and carefully stored to preserve the rifles in brand-new condition. THE RIFLE WILL WORK WHEN UNPACKED AND CLEANED UP. DO NOT fire the rifle to make sure it works. And especially DO NOT FIRE CORROSIVE AMMO THROUGH THE RIFLE AND NEGLECT TO CLEAN IT AFTERWARDS!

God only knows how many rifles they've ruined like this. The barrel of the one we looked at was so pitted that it wouldn't have fired eight inch groups at 100 yards, much less the eight inch groups they're supposed to be able to fire at 800 yards or better.

Stupid fucks. I came this close to beating them with the beautiful, mint-condition rifles they'd ruined.

*The Windex trick is something I learned from a friend who has several war relics that he shoots corrosive surplus ammo through: as soon as you're done shooting, remove the bolt and squirt Windex down the barrel to neutralize the corrosive elements. Then run a dry patch down the barrel, followed with a couple of patches of Hoppe's No. 9. My friend does this every time, and each of his guns is in mint condition, with perfect, mirror-shiny barrels. So is my husband's CZ-52.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Seven deadlies: Sloth

I’ve spent the past few weeks, and will be spending a few more, writing about the seven deadly sins, and their applications in the modern world by those who give lip service to being Christian, and those who declare that sin doesn’t exist. The seven deadly, or serious, sins are wrath, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, and pride. So far, over the past three weeks, I’ve written about Wrath, Greed, and Envy. This week’s sin is Sloth.

So, what precisely is sloth? In medieval times, it was despair, or a lack of joy—a refusal of one of God’s major gifts. It’s come to mean something different in modern times, however. Today, sloth is apathy of the spirit, or laziness.

How is laziness a sin? We can see this through the parable of the talents in Matthew and Luke. In the story, a man gives three servants money—one gets five talents, one gets two talents, and one gets one. The first and second servants both invest the money, and double it before returning it to their master. The third servant buries the single talent he’s given, claiming he only wanted to keep his master’s money safe from thieves.

Many read this as an endorsement of free enterprise. In some ways, it is: the master is pleased with, praises, and rewards the servants who use the money he left with them to make more, and rebukes and punishes the one who simply hid the money. However, there is another lesson to be learned here: that laziness, or sloth, not only leaves the individual where they started, but can open the door to other sins.

We can see the same sin today illustrated in the same way: with individuals who do not want to work. However, we can also see the same sin illustrated in a more insidious, more damaging instance in the way some parents interact with their children.

Many argue that today’s world requires both spouses to work to make ends meet, that today’s parents are more industrious than ever. That may be true in some parts of their lives; however, it couldn’t be farther from the truth when it comes to raising their children.

Children are investments into the future, yes; they are also a lot of work, and take a lot of time and patience to raise. Many parents, especially when one parent is missing or when both work, simply do not choose to put in the effort required. They bury their one talent by parking their children in front of the television rather than playing with them, by placing them in Head Start rather than teaching them, by depending on public schools to parent their children instead of instilling the moral values that the children will need as adults.

As with the parable of the talents, the parents who don’t parent get back exactly the investment they put in: the child, lacking a strong guiding hand acts out in many ways, some sexual (with some active very early), some violent, some merely rebellious. The parents that refuse to raise their own children are the ones that wind up medicating their children into zombies, that turn their children over to state custody because they can’t control their behavior, that abandon their children in Nebraska because they simply don’t want to be bothered anymore.

The sloth of these parents lead to children that do not care about others, that do not see others as individuals, that cannot empathize with another’s pain. The sloth of these parents open the door to the children’s wrath, greed, envy—is creating a generation of psychologically damaged children that will become psychologically damaged adults.

I don’t understand this sin any more than I do greed or envy. I admit that raising a child is much harder than I thought it would be—and mine is only two months old. I know that the job will get harder, that the investment will take more time and energy in the future. However, I also know that the hard work is well worth it, and the penalties of being slothful in raising my child are far too harsh to risk.

I wish others would consider the penalties of their own laziness before they started ignoring their child’s needs and letting them raise themselves.

Nice to see that someone has some common sense.

Czechoslovakia's president called the EU climate deal a "silly luxury."

I agree, especially considering that global warming is a natural cycle that the earth goes through, that cycle is over (more on that here), and there really is nothing humanity can do to knock that cycle off kilter.

Really, sometimes I think that the "global warming" crisis mongers are nihlists. Other times I'm sure of it.

Now, this is a decision I agree with.

President-elect Obama is offering to place Israel under the nuclear umbrella with Japan; i.e., anybody that wants to nuke Israel is, in effect, nuking us. And we will strike back.

This is, in my opinion, a very good foreign policy decision, considering that they're one of two real allies over there (and the other is not Saudi Arabia). Especially in light that even other Muslim nations fear Iran.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More on global warming...

A couple of cities that don't typically get snow, at least this early, are getting snow.

Houston is getting snow in early December for the first time in 64 years. Temperatures are warm enough that it didn't stick, but it fell fast enough to enchant people.

New Orleans is getting snow for the first time in four years--well, snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Snow has fallen in New Orleans in measurable amounts only 17 times since 1850.

Anyone want to explain how record early snows and record cool temperatures are connected to global warming? I promise I won't slap you. Hard.

A little precocious, aren't they?

Precocious and exhibitionists. A couple of middle schoolers in Florida have been suspended for sex activities in class.

I'm going to say that again: a couple of middle schoolers in Florida have been suspended for sex activities in class.

What happened to the innocence of childhood?

We all know what the answer to this is going to be...

The United States is asking the UN for permission to go after the Somali pirates on land.

The UN disapproves of us hunting pirates in international waters. What makes our government think they'll give us permission (that we don't really need) to hunt the pirates on land?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More threats...

Russia's foreign minister has warned us not to meddle in Moscow's back yard.

I'm willing to stay out of their sphere of influence, if they're willing to follow their own advice in regards to ours.

At least I'm not the only one seeing the provocation for what it is. Here's hoping that the incoming administration has the testicular fortitude to deal with this.

I doubt it, but I can always hope.

Hearing the sounds of a global crisis.

Splat! Treasury notes sell at the lowest rates ever as investors scurry to buy into illusory safety.

Splat! Oil demand falls worldwide. (Although, now that I think of it, it may be a bad sign for the economy, but is probably going to be good for world security in the long run as oil-based tyrannies topple under the pressure of their income vanishing.)

Splat! Oil prices fall.

Splat! Another industry is at least partially nationalized to prevent it from going under.

I'm not the only one seeing that deflation is a probability, not a possibility. I'm not the only one that sees shades of Roosevelt's New Deal in the current economic crisis, although I hope the government intervention planned doesn't stretch things out as long. I'm not interested in who's at fault for the current difficulties except in preventing them from destroying the economy again, once it's stablized.

The sounds I'm hearing aren't of the sky falling. They're the sounds of a world-wide shitstorm beginning.

Is this also the result of anthropogenic global warming?

California's about to be hit by some very cold weather.

I say again: the next idiot that mentions the concept that humanity's solely at fault for all the catestrophic global warming that's (not) going on all around us all the time is going to get bitch slapped.

Update: I can't reach these idiots for their promised bitch slap. However, they've proved Heinlein's ideas about the "everybody knows/agrees" on something means that the only consensus is amongst the ignoramuses (ignorami?) that use that argument.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Memories fade. History repeats.

Sixty-seven years ago, yesterday, marks the first large-scale attack on the United States since our little tiffs with Britain in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Japan planned and carried out a massive attack on what they saw as a threat to their dominance of the Pacific Ocean: the United States Navy.

Sixty-seven years ago, yesterday, marks the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. We had done nothing to provoke it, and the Japanese gave us no hint that they were planning it. They simply, quietly, positioned their ships to launch the planes.

Sixty-seven years ago, yesterday, between 7:55 and 10:00, the Japanese overflew Hawaii, first targeting airfields to prevent us from being able to fight back with more than land- and ship-based anti-aircraft guns, then targeting our naval vessels sitting at rest in Pearl Harbor.

Sixty-seven years ago, yesterday, the Japanese pulled us into World War II with 2,042 seamen, marines, Army personnel, and civilians killed in the attack, with another 1,238 military personnel wounded. Eighteen ships were either sunk or severely damaged. One hundred sixty-one planes were destroyed, with another 102 damaged.

Our then-president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, asked Congress to declare war the very next morning in one of the most stirring speeches in American history. The entire text is reproduced from George Mason University’s website:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our secretary of state a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the
United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American
lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese government also launched as attack against Malaya.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.

Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.

Last night Japanese forces attacked Wake Island.

And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As commander in chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense. But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. . .

Of course, we won the war. And then we forgot. Not quite sixty years later, we paid for that forgetfulness in mostly civilian blood on an even more reprehensible attack on civilian-only targets, using civilian mass-transit infrastructure: September 11, 2001’s attack.

It hasn’t even taken us ten years to mostly forget that attack. I have little hope that the next attack on American soil will not be as much worse than the second as the second was than the first.

As the title of this page states: memories fade. History repeats.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A short-sighted error

As I've said before, I teach part time at a small Midwestern university. Recently, my state has asked its public universities to cut their budgets by up to 25%. My university's president has worked on at least that level of budget cuts for the past semester that he's been with us anyway, because that's how much over budget our spending has been. From simple solutions, such as turning off office, classroom, and hall lights when there's no one there, and shutting down computer labs after hours, to larger sacrifices, like a freeze on wage increases, there have been a whole lot of common sense changes made.


Recently, he decided that it was in the university's best interests to place a moratorium on all spending for travel and conferences for professors and students. He also decided to place a moratorium on hiring new people.

This includes replacing professors who've retired or left for greener pastures.

While these two freezes make sense on a purely budgetary perspective, they are incredibly short sighted. The first, taking away travel funds, sends the message to prospective students that this isn't the university to come to--especially if they want to travel--because it doesn't take student needs into consideration. It also gives other universities a tool to help drive down our enrollment further, and to lure away current and prospective faculty (see? we give you money for travel while our competitor doesn't).

The second, the hiring freeze, makes an even more dangerous, short-sighted, error: though our enrollment is currently down, the economy is bad, and getting worse. People are losing jobs left and right, and since many companies are tightening their belts for the coming difficulties, will not easily find another position, if they can find anything at all. What do people do if they lose their jobs and can't find another? They go to school.

We don't have enough full-time professors to maintain the level of non-majors classes in most of our departments without the recent losses we've had (professors quitting, retiring, and dying have left us three short in the English department alone). Our majors classes suffer--many that were on two year rotations in the past have gone to three year rotations, without a concomitant increase in upper division majors classes. We have to offer a specific number of non-majors classes to fulfill the core requirements for all students, and that number doesn't drop with enrollment numbers.

When the economy tanks further, enrollment starts to rise, and we simply don't have the faculty we need to man the classrooms, we're looking at a disaster.

Talk about your nasty agendas...

First, Planned Parenthood comes under fire for the racially targeted donations it accepts to fund abortions. Now, they're under fire for coaching teens to lie about the ages of sex partners to avoid the sex abuse reporting regulations, and for coaching teens in how to skirt the parental notification laws some states have.

This really tells me that their entire agenda has nothing to do with helping women in tight spots; rather, their entire agenda is all about killing babies--unlimited abortion on demand. If it were otherwise, they wouldn't take money from people specifically targeted at aborting black babies. If it were otherwise, they wouldn't have a problem with reporting a 13-year-old girl's abortion of a 30-year-old man's baby to the authorities.

Granted, both of the situations were only stings, but the interesting thing about such operations is that they reveal the truth about situations. We have no idea how many real, identical donations Planned Parenthood has accepted for the one sting that publicized the willingness to accept racially-motivated donations. Nor do we have any idea how many little girls were coached in how to lie about the age of their sex partner for the sting that revealed that they do.


“Thou shalt not covet…”

I’m dedicating the next several Friday Philosophy posts to the Seven Deadly, or mortal, sins. Those are, in no particular order, wrath, greed, pride, lust, gluttony, sloth, and envy. I’ve already covered wrath and greed. This week’s post will discuss envy: what it is, why it’s one of the deadly sins, and it’s emergence in American culture (and others) through class warfare.

What is envy? Many confuse envy and jealousy, believing that the two terms are interchangeable. Nothing could be farther from the truth: jealousy is the fear that you’ll lose something you already have, while envy is the resentment of something that someone else has that you don’t. Many times, envy is a product of a lack of belief in one’s own talents and abilities.

Envy is, perhaps, one of the more destructive of the seven deadly sins. The resentment of what another has, whether it’s his or her home, wealth, talents, or happiness, is often based in a belief that, no matter what you do, you can’t have anything even close to similar. This belief often leads to the destructive desire to ruin what that person has. That selfish desire to destroy what the individual envies often leads into dishonest, hurtful behavior in other areas of life, and the emotion often comes between the envious individual and his or her relationship with his or her family members, friends, and with God.

If someone has a happy marriage, the person who envies that happy marriage will attempt to sow discord, by starting rumors, or by trying to change the attitudes of one or both spouses. If someone envies a talent, they start spreading rumors about the talented individual, attempting to bring them down to the same level the envious person feels they’re at. If someone envies another’s home, they often try to interfere with home ownership, through odd rulings in homeowners’ associations, or occasionally through fraudulent tax or real-estate sales value assessments.

If someone envies another’s income, they go to the government.

The forced redistribution of wealth that the government does when it collects taxes on the rich and hands out “earned income tax credits” and welfare to the poor is based in envy: politicians campaign on the idea of taking “unfair distributions of wealth,” and making them fair. This Robin Hood version of politics works because politicians have tried, with greater and greater amounts of success, to tell people that they can’t make it out of the poverty they’re in, leading people to believe that they cannot earn what they wish to have. That belief breeds resentment toward those who do work, and do earn a higher income and standard of living. The resentment is what gets politicians elected: they promise to “punish the rich,” while tap-dancing around actually defining what “rich” is.

If someone envies his neighbor’s income and directly steals his money, it’s called either theft or robbery (depending on how they do it), and they go to jail. If they have the government do it for them, it’s called welfare, and they get a check in the mail every month.

Again, this isn’t one of the sins that I really understand. I’ve come a long way from where in society I was born. I’ve earned my way through hard work. I’m relatively content with my life, and if I weren’t, I’d simply try harder to fix what’s wrong, rather than decide to pee in someone else’s dessert.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Not for long...

Our POTUS-elect has been warned about Iran's approaching nuclear capability; however, by the time he takes office, it could no longer be an issue.

I've said it before: I'm glad someone has the testicular fortitude to stand up and smack down the local bullies.

Wow. Um...I knew that people were worried, but this is terrifying.

A neighborhood in Milwaukee has lost enough confidence in the dollar that they've invented and are using their own currency.

It's the media's fault that this is happening. Their attitude of "If it bleeds, it leads," is publishing story after story about how the economy is tanking, jobs are being cut, and the dollar is weakening. (Thank God they're too historically illiterate to point out the current dangers of deflation, or it would be worse.)

They need to quit reporting on what's wrong, and start focusing on the efforts to fix the economy, no matter how misguided and doomed to failure those efforts are.

Stop spending more than you earn, trust your bank (or at least the FDIC insurance), don't sell your stock, and for God's sake, please don't devalue our currency by ceasing to use it, even temporarily and locally.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Enough, already!

The President-elect is a legal, natural-born citizen of the United States! So was his opponent!

Hawaii was, at the time of President Elect Obama's birth, a United States territory. He was born to a citizen of the United States (his mother). Ergo, he is a citizen.

John McCain was born in Panama. To United States citizens. While area in question in Panama was a territory belonging to the United States. Ergo, he is a citizen.

Both cases were reviewed during the campaign. Had either man not been judged a natural-born United States citizen, he would not have been allowed to run.

Let it the fuck go, people! We lost this one. And we'll likely win the next one, if we can just find a good, truly and completely conservative (at least on fiscal and foreign policy matters) candidate.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I think I'm going to faint.

A city beaureaucrat shows common sense: an armed populace makes the criminal element think twice about attempting to victimize their neighbors. If criminals are sure that many people carry guns, but don't know who specifically does, they're not going to chance attacking anyone for fear they'll be shot.

The cop quoted in the story who says that carrying guns "is not a recipe for a less violent community" obviously is too busy having a snit at the implication that the police can't protect the entire city of St. Louis to do anything but parrot the anti-gun propoganda pushed in larger cities.

I call this particular city leader, Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe of St. Louis, a hero.

Can't tolerate them. Can't hang them. What then?

Well, according to international law, should we encounter pirates in international waters, we can engage them with any type of force we choose. International law and the U.N. discourage ships and ships' crews from carrying weapons, however. So what do we do?

How about seeding the area with UAVs armed with Hellfire missiles? It avoids the whole "you shouldn't carry guns on your ships because guns are bad" argument.

On the other hand, it does have us policing things we shouldn't have to. There are times when I think Kipling was bitter toward his own government, rather than racist (as he has been read by post-modern anti-imperialist literary theorists because of this piece, which seems, in my opinion, to have the most anger. I think he went native--but that's a post for another time, and only if you're interested in reading it). Oh, yes, Kipling was bitter about the British army being expected to police the world--and I can understand and sympathize.

Grasping at straws

This is pitiful. The Clintons are so power hungry that Bill Clinton, the former POTUS, is considering taking his wife's senate seat once she takes her cabinet position.

Can they be any more ridiculous?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do as I say, not as I do.

Condoleeza Rice is telling Europe to stand firm and make sure the Soviet Union--sorry, Russia--faces consequences for what it's done to Georgia. At the same time, the United States is softening on its own position on making Russia face consequences.

This illustrates two things: first, the United States' foreign policy has become ever more hypocritical.

Second, that our foreign relations needs a shot of Viagra to keep from going limp when it needs to stay firm.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Anyone doubt that we've headed back into another cold war?

Russia, in a blazing display of paranoia, has decided to upgrade their missiles to dodge the missile defense screen technology that the United States is deploying to defend Europe against irresponsible, irrational regimes in the Middle East.

The missile defense screen is not now, and has not ever been, intended to block Russian missiles. Even if it were designed to block Russian missiles, how is blocking a (possibly) nuclear-tipped ICBM missile, giving the two nations enough time to a) determine whether it was a purposeful launch, accident, or rogue agent, or b) change their minds and set up talks, a bad thing?

Only an aggressively imperialist nation would consider it so.

He's right, you know.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake states that our current economic difficulties bear "no comparison" to the Great Depression of the 1930s. He claims that there is an "order of magnitude difference," that the 1930s Depression was a "world-wide depression" ended by a war.

Hmm. Worldwide economic issues? Check.

Long-term recession? Check.

Banks failing? Check. Multiple times.

Stock market tanking? Oh, yes.

I will, however, agree that our issues bear "no comparison" to the Great Depression, and that there's an "order of magnitude difference." I do believe that, since this is the government's fault, in many ways, that the government interference will do nothing but make the current downturn far longer and deeper than the first Depression.

I know I don't like this.

Intelligence agencies predict that we'll see a nuclear terrorist attack within the next five years or so.

I agree. I agree that preventing this from happening is, or should be, a huge priority for the incoming administration. However.

This scares me. Having 20,000 troops stationed inside the United States for "homeland security" scares the bejesus out of me.

The government--no matter who's running it--has taken more and more power unto itself in the last couple of decades. Though there are those of us who believe that the government has, and has had since before WWII, too much power. There are those of us who speak against it. And there will be those of us who fear what the government--a government which has increasingly ignored the Constitution and Bill of Rights--might wish to do, and might decide to do, with the troops in country. And should the government choose to use the troops to silence opposition, there is nothing any civilian, or group of civilians, could do against the most superbly trained fighting force in the world.

"Homeland security" indeed.

The government wants to de-fund missile defense for this?

The Pentagon just announced that they're funding research to create robots that are incapable of committing war crimes. Clearly, they need to read more science fiction. Most speculative fiction that deals with robotics focuses on what can too easily go wrong: the robots determine that their own survival trumps that of their creators; that they can best serve their creators by making them happy, and the only human that doesn't complain is a dead one; or that they're tired of serving an inferior master. The list goes on. And on.

Seriously, the only stories I've read where the robots do not mean harm to the humans that created them are Keith Laumer's Bolo series, or Asimov's Robot short stories.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So much for the non-proliferation pacts...

We signed treaties with Russia a long time ago, promising to not aid other nations in acquiring nuclear weapons. Though Russia will protest that the nuclear plants they're going to help Venezuela build, and that they've nearly finished in Iran, are only for civilian use, we know, and the rest of the world knows, that these irresponsible, irrational regimes will not use them simply for civilian electricity generation.

After all, reverse engineering from civilian use to military is far easier than developing the technology in the first place.

Not a woman?!?

God is laughing at this idiot.

(Bonus points to whoever places the post title's quote.)

Seven deadlies: Greed

Perhaps one of the most misquoted bible verses is “Money is the root of all evil.” That’s the misquote, by the way; the actual quote reads that "the love of money is the root of all evil."

I’m dedicating the next several Friday Philosophy posts to the Seven Deadly, or mortal, sins. Those are, in no particular order, wrath, greed, pride, lust, gluttony, sloth, and envy. Last week, we covered wrath. This week’s post will discuss greed, the difference between greed and simply earning a living, what places it amongst the mortal sins, and its manifestation in the modern world.

There is a huge difference between greed and simply wanting to have enough to support yourself and your family comfortably and being greedy. That difference is that one type of person wants comfort and security, and the other wants the wealth, and the power that wealth brings, simply for its own sake. The individual who isn’t greedy might acquire wealth anyway, but will usually donate some to charity, will invest in the community, will invest in small businesses, will otherwise act to help create jobs that help others. In other words, money is a means to an end.

For the greedy individual, however, money is an end unto itself. They might invest, but only to make more money, and they’ll look for the investments with the highest short term yields. They don’t donate to charity, they don’t invest in their community, and will often act in ways that hurt others (fraud, theft, etc.)

It’s this acting against others that places greed into the mortal sins territory. Once again, Thomas Aquinas’s idea that what makes a sin a mortal sin comes into play: the individual is turning his back on God in favor of his vice. And this vice leads directly into other sins, just as the other mortal sins do.

The current economic meltdown was directly caused by greed. No, I’m not going to beat up on our free market economy. Capitalism might not be perfect, but it’s the best thing going, and I’m not an anti-capitalist. No, it wasn’t the free market economy causing greed that’s led us into a downward spiral. Instead, it’s the greed of a few individuals that has damaged our economy.

The CEOs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are excellent illustrations of the mortal sin of greed. These two individuals engaged in creative bookkeeping to make it seem that the companies were far more successful than they actually were, and to hide the issues that homeowners were coming to face. These two individuals took advantage of the average American’s desire to have a home to cheat people out of their money—investors in hedge funds and individuals who wanted to own a home but didn’t have the money for the down payment, rich and poor, alike. They did it not because they wanted their companies to grow and provide more jobs but because they wanted to collect bonuses that were more than twice the amount of their multi-million dollar yearly salaries.

And now that their CEOs’ greed-driven dishonesty has been revealed, the companies that support almost half the market and most of the banking industry are imploding, taking much of our economy with them.

This is one of the sins that I just don’t understand. I don’t see the appeal of money for its own sake. I grew up poor enough that, yeah, I’m a little nervous about being able to pay all of my bills, and probably don’t turn loose of money as easily as I should. However. The only thing I’m interested in is the comfort and security that enough can bring. It’s clear from watching our media darlings that too much brings as much discomfort and insecurity as too little. That would be the main reason I don’t understand the appeal of greed to so many. Especially when one considers the consequences of greed-driven actions.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Umm...I don't know that I like this...

The United States and Iraq have reached an agreement about our troops leaving their country. The agreement sets up a clear timetable that gives us a deadline of three years to be out.

It's good that they feel secure enough to want to take over their own defense and security, their own law enforcement. Policing and defending the world was not what our army was set up to do. In fact, the Founding Fathers would have kittens over the idea that the nation they created kept a standing army in the first place.


Announcing the timetable to all and sundry falls under what is known as a bad idea. All al Qaeda has to do is wait for us to leave. The Iraqi army and police force cannot stand up to them with the training and cultural habits they have.

And as al Qaeda moves back into Iraq, we will face the same dance with the same partner over the same issue as last time. This time, however, I do not doubt that the attacks will be worse, and the damage longer lasting.

That's not saying that I think Iraq would willingly host al Qaeda. No, the people of Iraq would not want that terrorist group using their country for a home base, intimidating the people around them and killing the ones they couldn't intimidate, any more than most of the people of Afghanistan want the Taliban in power. Unfortunately, in that area, as in our own inner cities and other tribal cultures, the ones with the most guns and most willingness to use violence are the ones that hold the power.

Those who hold with the rule of law cannot stand in the face of that kind of ruthlessness here in the United States. It may be different over in the Middle East.

I pray, for the sake of the people over there, that it will be different.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


According to national legend, the first Thanksgiving was not long after the first religious colony was established, and was celebrated by the Pilgrims and the Indians alike. Celebrated on and off by various presidents' individual, one time proclamations, Lincoln declared it a national holiday to be celebrated each year in 1863.

Each year, we as a nation feast and give thanks for the blessings we've received during the previous year, and we as a nation have much to be thankful for. First and foremost, we can be thankful that almost every individual in the entire nation has, at least on this day, plenty to eat. We can be thankful for the traditions of family that this nation was built on. We can be thankful for the relative safety that Americans live and celebrate in.

Individually, my spouse and I are thankful for our family--our parents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins--and for our son. Mostly for our son, though, this year. He came eight weeks early, and spent his first five weeks in the NICU, but is home with us, now. We're thankful for his health, for his growth, and for the fact that he seems to have taken no ill effects (other than being small for his unadjusted age) from deciding to come early. We're thankful for steady jobs, and for having the foresight to have paid off our debt two years ago. We're thankful for the small savings account that will let us pay cash for the deductible for the baby's hospital stay.

Actually, we have so very many things to be thankful for that it's hard to pick some to share. What are you thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the Baghdad Bob Press Release Award of the Year goes to...


We've known for a while that they host terrorist training camps and shelter terrorist networks. We've known for a while that they're behind about half of the terrorist attacks in Iraq, and that they sponsor a lot of the terrorists that Israel deals with.

Well, they just denied that the host and shelter terrorists, and that they're interfering in Iraq, just like Sadam Hussein's press secretery denied that American troops were entering Baghdad, despite video showing that our tanks were tearing around the cityscape behind him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Proof that NATO has passed its expiration date

World shipping leaders have called for one good way to cut the piracy around Somalia: blockade the coast to prevent the pirates from making it out of the national waters.

NATO has, of course, rejected the idea.

Makes me wonder if some of those millions the Somali pirates have already made has been funneled into member nations' pockets.

The party of compassion

This illustrates the Orwellian level of doublethink endemic in all politics. Basically, the city of New York has passed and is enforcing regulations putting churches out of the business of charity; specifically, sheltering the homeless. Kind of has to be government or nothing, with the way modern churches are funded.

This is more subtle concerning, as it does, the arguments of the rights of the newly-conceived to life, and of the potential benefits of medical research using aborted fetuses.

However well intentioned the research, though, the facts remain: someone lost his or her life to fuel research that, when used, causes cancer 100% of the time. Adult, placental, and umbilical chord blood stem cell research have already yielded cures and have the potential to yield more, without the ethical debate that embryonic stem cell research necessitates.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Seven Deadlies: Wrath

Since mankind first believed in the gods or God, depending on who was doing the believing, we have had the concept of sin. Large sins, or small sins, each religion has penalties for sinning against the gods or God which vary by the religion as much as the concept of what is sinful behavior. Since I’m Christian, the God I follow is the God of the Hebrews and Muslims, since God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same. The sins are, for the most part, the same amongst the three religions; however, Christianity, especially certain segments of it, separate sin into categories of commission and omission, and of venial and mortal. There are other divisions, but the main one that interests me is that last: mortal sin, also known as the deadly sins.

Thomas Aquinas, one of the main philosophers of the Catholic Church, defined mortal sins as “something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law, or a thought, word, or deed contrary to the eternal law.” The Catholic Encyclopedia online further clarifies that as “an aversion from God” caused by a “preference given to a mutable good.”

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be dealing with the seven deadly sins, and their applications in the modern world by those who give lip service to being Christian, and those who declare that sin doesn’t exist.

The seven deadly, or serious, sins are wrath, greed, envy, sloth, lust, gluttony, and pride. This week’s sin I plan to discuss is Wrath.

What is wrath? Anger, yes, but is it a sin? The Bible, in whatever edition you choose to read it, details the wrath of God falling upon those who sin against him. Read that way, no, not all anger is a sin. What makes wrath one of the deadly sins, if not all anger is sinful? Once again, we’ll turn to the Catholic Encyclopedia for the answer:

“…if one desire the taking of vengeance in any way whatever contrary to the order of reason, for instance if he desire the punishment of one who has not deserved it, or beyond his deserts, or again contrary to the order prescribed by law, or not for the due end, namely the maintaining of justice and the correction of defaults, then the desire of anger will be sinful, and this is called sinful anger.

Secondly, the order of reason in regard to anger may be considered in relation to the mode of being angry, namely that the movement of anger should not be immoderately fierce…”

In other words, if the person is irrationally angry, and takes vengeance upon those who do not deserve it in ways that are illegal (and, indeed, because the individual willfully refuses to see truth in the matter, and willfully refuses to consider the law of the land sufficient or even as having jurisdiction over the matter), he or she is committing a mortal sin.

The current actions of the gay activist movement in California is sliding from justifiable and commendable anger over a perceived inequality of treatment into the mortal sin of intemperate wrath. How did I get there? “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

What have they done? They’ve vandalized churches, beat up little old ladies, sent hoax anthrax to Mormon temples. They’ve protested loudly and violently, blocking members of the media from interviewing the victims of their violence. They’re demonstrating the hollow nature of their professed dedication to multiculturalism through racist epithets thrown at the 70% of the African-Americans who were Proposition 8 supporters and their complete lack of respect toward all who do not share their opinions.

I will fully admit that wrath is the mortal sin I’m most prone to. It’s hard to fight it—not impossible, just difficult. The difficulty lies in fighting off the lower parts of your own nature. However difficult that fight is, though, it’s worth the struggle. It’s the fight to be better than your nature that separates human from animal.

Some people don’t bother. Some people let their own worse natures dictate their behavior. When that worse nature steps between them and whatever face of God they follow, that’s when righteous anger turns to the deadly sin of wrath.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crow's cages would work.

The world is still confused about what to do about the situation in the Gulf of Aden. The best solution merchant fleets can come up with is to avoid the problem.

And there is no doubt that the Somali pirates are a problem.

Update: Now, that's what I'm talking about!


US Intel agencies project that the United States' days as a superpower are numbered: our global influence will wane by 2025.

Not surprising. We're not responding to provocations like we should be. The world is coming to see us as nothing more than a paper tiger, and I doubt the incoming administration will do anything to demonstrate that, like Teddy Roosevelt suggested, we still carry a big stick.

Not something to celebrate, stupid.

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, released a statement today, celebrating what he sees as the collapse of the "arrogant powers" that stand in his way to becoming a nuclear power.

What a stupid thing to do. Who buys Iran's oil? Who controls a good portion of the airspace between Israel and Iran?

In this case, at least, I believe Stratfor's analysis is wrong, despite Friedman's sound reasoning: I think that it is very likely that Israel will launch an air attack against Iran's nuclear sites within the next sixty days, during President Bush's lame duck period, but before Obama comes into office. Were it not that Iran had just finished enriching enough uranium for a bomb, he probably would have been right; however, I think that Israel's caution and fierce desire to continue to exist will drive them to do the impossible successfully.

Can they at least kiss us first?

I'd really prefer to be kissed, at least, before the government screws me. Since the Democrats now have control of congress as well as the White House, I don't think we can hold out for dinner and dancing.

Seriously, though. The current problems with the market stem from government interference in the mortgage industry (i.e., you will make that loan, or you're racist, and we'll put you out of business). What makes them think they can do better with our 401(k) plans?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gah. Just because something's "not fair" doesn't mean you can throw fits until it goes away.

I can't say it better than this. Or this.

There is something fundamentally wrong when there are large segments of the so-called adult population screaming "not fair!" Especially when accompanied by temper tantrums worthy of toddlers, and an unspoken assumption that the grownups (i.e., government and judiciary) fix those mean ol' bullies that make things unfair.

Adults know that life is fundamentally unfair, and deal. Children throw fits, screaming, "not fair!" Which do these gay activists strike you as being?

Update: Just because the baby throws a fit doesn't mean the adults (or who the baby sees as the adults) should give in to the demands.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I hope Putin doesn't realize what Medevev obviously does: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Of course, this is something we all knew (or should have).

Stop the presses! President-elect Obama is likely to face terrorist (or should we call them freedom fighters?) threats early in his term!

Indeed. History demonstrates that, for the past nearly three decades, almost every president has been tested with attacks. Some had more success than others in handling and deterring subsequent attacks.

Carter had the hostage situation with Iran, though that wasn't early in his single term. Clinton faced several attacks--the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the downing of a Blackhawk in Somalia, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in a Yemeni harbor near the end of his second term, to name a few. George W. Bush had the biggest, nastiest, most significant terrorist attack to date happen in the first nine months of his first term.

Let's take a look at potential trouble spots.

The Middle East

Potential areas in the Middle East that could cause difficulties for our POTUS-elect include Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, the Gaza Strip in Israel, and pretty definitely Somalia.

Iran's insistence on developing nuclear capability in the face of oil prices dropping could change Iran's potential trouble status, though. If the current government's insistence continues in the face of economic downturn that could, perhaps, be worse for Iran's single-export economy than others, it could see a revolution. Such could end with the radical Islamofacists taken out of power, and a more reasonable, moderate, and sane government taking its place.

Afghanistan with its tribal cultures and its unsecured border with neighboring, equally tribal Pakistan, will continue to be a trouble spot, requiring US military intervention to prevent the hostile Islamofacist Taliban government from re-taking the country from its citizens. Oh, and of course, the failure to catch Osama bin Laden hasn't helped stabilize the region, either. The upside to that is that he's worried about his security, and thus, less likely to come out of hiding any time soon.

Syria and Iraq are connected in potential trouble. With Iraq's military's difficulty in closing the border with Syria, insurgents continue to sneak into Iraq to attack US and coalition forces, as well as Iraqi military and civilian targets. Recently, Syria has begun to purchase arms from Russia, making them even more dangerous to Israel. Their danger to us is that they host terrorist training camps on their soil, and might be willing to provide terrorists with WMD.

The Gaza Strip in Israel is a problem, obviously for Israel, less so for us. The Gaza Strip also hosts terrorists, both in training camps and simply hiding from capture or elimination.

Somalia will simply offer the same issues and choices the Barbary Coast did to Jefferson. And Obama is no Jefferson. Honestly, none of our current cast of congress critters are.

That's not even taking into consideration the idea that Obama might have once been, or been born into, Islam. I'm not saying that he was, or that he wasn't. It's not important. What is important about the idea--whether it's myth or fact--is how the radical Islamofacists will view dealing with country whose chief executive officer and commander in chief has committed Islam's greatest sin: converting away from the Muslim religion. No doubt this will spark trouble, probably both in diplomacy and increased violence.


Russia, with its current behaviors, would challenge any POTUS. We've been too distracted, although with good reason, for the past eight years to pay attention to the resurgence of the Russian economy, or notice its renewed imperialistic aggression. We're facing another cold war, with the same tactics--proxies, belligerence masked with diplomacy, escalations of incidents that are borderline (do we respond or ignore this? And I'd bet the current POTUS-elect will choose to ignore the incidents) that build each on the one before--with an eye toward replacing the US as a world-dominating superpower.

And Russia would dominate the world, too, were we to allow it. We tend to let peoples and countries go their own way, so long as they don't start fights. Russia, historically, doesn't.

Here at home

I'm deeply saddened to see that blatant, violent racism is alive and well in the United States. Though we're more color-blind than many European nations, and far better than Australia, some of the threats that our new POTUS-elect come from our own psycho nutjobs who would like to see him dead for daring to be the first black man elected to the highest office in the nation. Once again, I say thank God for the skills of the Secret Service in preserving the President's life.

I'm also deeply saddened that said psycho nutjobs, as well as the P.C. Police, have made it difficult for those who aren't racist to express a political opinion without being accused of being racist, and a danger to the POTUS-elect. The old fart who expressed himself on his own property wasn't necessarily being racist so much as he was expressing outrage at the difference in the way the Obama effigy and Palin effigy were treated, both by officials and the media. I believe this because he named a whole bunch of white congress critters along with the new POTUS-elect on the sign in question. Honestly, this could distract the Secret Service from a real threat to Obama's safety.

So yes, I do foresee a whole host of threat possibilities that Obama will have to face. However, I'm certain that McCain, or any of the other primary candidates, would have faced most of the same.