Archive for June, 2013

Three premises underlie Kevin D. Williamson’s “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome”:
1- “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” / “Reality is not optional.”
2- The modern welfare state is in such a position, having greatly over-promised future benefits.
3- In the absence of the welfare state, quite a few goods currently provided by the state, both public and private, will be provided via private, voluntary social arrangements.

The first premise is axiomatically true, and the second is nearly self-evident. The third point, I would argue, will be a matter of degree or severity.

The awesomeness of all this is that these privately provided goods, by virtue of being subject to market forces, will gradually improve and will sooner or later surpass the utility of the goods presently state-provided.


Presented without context

Posted: June 29, 2013 by Sean M. in Random Crap

Samoa fullback James So’oialo has been cleared of grabbing the testicles of South Africa hooker Adriaan Strauss during their clash in Pretoria on Saturday.

I’m not one to throw blame around or anything, but the fact of the matter is that if you’re a hooker with testicles, that might just be an occupational hazard.

Regarding the Immigration Bill

Posted: June 28, 2013 by chad98036 in Uncategorized

Lot’s of people are pissed about the Senate’s passage of the Immigration Reform Bill.  Lot’s of call your congresscritter messages and so-on. 

I just want to point out that if you are seriously pissed about this bill you should unsubscribe from facebook. 

Mark Zuckerberg is a major supporter of this bill, as are most of the tech industry CEOs, and has organized a PAC around that support.  The only real way to show him what you think is to hit him in the pocketbook and the only way to do that is too unsubscribe from facebook and let them know why. 

Everything is still Bush’s fault

Posted: June 26, 2013 by aliceaitch in Random Crap

Including autocastration.


authorities say drugs may be a factor

Ya think?

Two totally different movies, both just happening to revolve around some apocalyptic scenario.

“This is the End” was very disappointing.  I mean, I knew it was going to be dumb — that was the premise.  But it was idiotic, and not particularly funny, unless you find the consumption of copious amounts of drugs to be inherently funny.

I mean, there are stoner flicks, where people get high and do dumb things have wacky adventures, and there are movies where drugs are part of the main plot, and there are movies where there is incidental drug use that’s about setting and character development, and of course, some overlap among those three categories. But the first, I dunno, twenty minutes or so of this film is basically and ode to recreational drugs, first and foremost weed, to little apparent cinematic end.  Ok, coked-out Michael Cera was mildly amusing.

Seth Rogen smokes weed? You don’t say…

Anyway, the movie has its moments, but most of those were in the trailer.  I give it a 3 on a 10-scale.

“World War Z” was about a 6.5 on a 10-scale.  Disclaimer: I have had no exposure to the source material.  As a basic horror film it was a little light on the gore.  There is very little character development of anybody other than Brad Pitt, and not much there either.

The IDF chick is sorta cute despite the GI-Jane haircut.  She sticks with Pitt longer than anybody else during his adventures, but we never really learn anything about her either.

Zombie films need to be either about (1) the interaction of the survivors, (2) the development of some sort of Christ-figure capable of saving everybody, or (3) pure gore and terror.  WW-Z was light on all three.

To the extent that WW-Z was at all terrifying, it was through the use of not just fast-zombies, but crystal-meth fast zombies in the opening scene.  I mean, it was practically a river of zekes flowing through the streets of Philadelphia.  When you start questioning the plausibility of the zombie apocalypse scenario in a zombie film, that’s not exactly starting out on the right foot.

The end was anticlimactic.  I suppose in this sense they were probably bound by the source material, but I really couldn’t know that for sure.  If you like zombie movies, go see it, but if you’re on the fence about this one, just go ahead and skip it.

Anybody see Man of Steel?

The necessary support of the strenuous life

Posted: June 21, 2013 by doubleplusundead in Random Crap

I got to try two different regional sodas, the first I’m posting about is Moxie, which is mostly a thing in the upper parts of New England, but there is a small following for the stuff here in PA.  I bought a sixer of glass bottles, the lone bottling plant that makes Moxie in PA makes it with sugar, as God and the Moxie Guy intended.  I tried the first directly from the bottle, chilled.

moxieadThis is not an advertisement, this is a fucking threat, Drink Moxie now motherfucker, or I will fucking kill you.

When they say it’s distinctively different, they are correct.  The first thing you notice is the smell of the gentian root.  When you taste Moxie, the first sip has a really medicinal taste and funk to it.  This initial sip is probably where it loses most people, which is unfortunate, because this is actually quite a good soda once you develop a taste for it, it grows on you.  The gentian root is a bitter root that is said to have medicinal quantities.  Moxie, like many of the earliest sodas, was advertised as a medicinal tonic, and those roots show in the taste of the drink.  As for the soda, if I had to describe it, I’d say it’s a cross between Coca-Cola and Root Beer with the gentian root offering it’s own bitter, herbal, almost liquorice-like, slightly medicinal and taste to the mix.  As you drink it, the medicinal taste settles and the pleasant bitter and herbal qualities of the gentian root come to the fore.  I could see it also being very good as a mixer, or added to desserts for a unique twist.  I have a feeling Moxie would make a kickass ice cream flavor, the milk would probably tame the gentian funk some and make it more palatable for a broader audience.

If you get a chance to try Moxie, do so, but *don’t* give up on it after the first sip, finish the glass or bottle, then form an initial opinion. I think a lot of people decide they hate it because it’s an old fashion flavor, it’s not what we’re used to in a soda, and they’re missing out by not finishing their glass or bottle and letting their palate adjust to the initial shock of bitterness and medicinal funk the gentian brings.

I quite like Moxie, and it’s growing on me.

The latest example – this opinion piece in the New York Times “Why India Trails China”.

MODERN India is, in many ways, a success. Its claim to be the world’s largest democracy is not hollow. Its media is vibrant and free; Indians buy more newspapers every day than any other nation. Since independence in 1947, life expectancy at birth has more than doubled, to 66 years from 32, and per-capita income (adjusted for inflation) has grown fivefold. In recent decades, reforms pushed up the country’s once sluggish growth rate to around 8 percent per year, before it fell back a couple of percentage points over the last two years. For years, India’s economic growth rate ranked second among the world’s large economies, after China, which it has consistently trailed by at least one percentage point.

India’s underperformance can be traced to a failure to learn from the examples of so-called Asian economic development, in which rapid expansion of human capability is both a goal in itself and an integral element in achieving rapid growth. Japan pioneered that approach, starting after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when it resolved to achieve a fully literate society within a few decades. As Kido Takayoshi, a leader of that reform, explained: “Our people are no different from the Americans or Europeans of today; it is all a matter of education or lack of education.” Through investments in education and health care, Japan simultaneously enhanced living standards and labor productivity — the government collaborating with the market.

I am always amazed at how the resolution to any problem can be tied back to the presence or lack of universal health care and, depending on the article, global warming.  India doesn’t have the infrastructure to provide electricity to mare than 30% of it’s population?  Free healthcare will take care of that.  The caste system despite being officially abolished keeps millions living in poverty due to a lack of upward mobility?  Eliminating green house gases and free mammograms will resolve that issue.  It’s a simplistic and ultimately pessimistic world view, but what can you expect it’s an article in the NYTImes written by an economic philosopher from Harvard.

Here is another interpretation.  Despite staggering levels of poverty, corruption, lack of infrastructure, and existing under a socialist near dictatorship for a third of of independence India has emerged as one of the world’s most dynamic economies. 

I am open to the idea, as was Hayek, that health care can be provided by society with out greatly imperiling freedom.  (Hayek discusses this in both Road to Serfdom and Constitution of Liberty).  Whether it will be effeciently run, equitable , and effective are all questions that are open for debate.  My personal belief is no, yes, no, and the equitability questions  almost doesn’t matter because delivering crappy care to everyone shouldn’t be a goal.

Although Northern Ireland has been relatively peaceful for quite a while now, it looks like TFG has some words of advice on, um, how to keep The Troubles form breaking out again or something:

Likening religious schools to segregation–a racist system that forced blacks to attend different schools and use different facilities than whites in the American South–President Barack Obama told a town hall meeting for youth in Belfast, Northern Ireland on Monday that there should not be Catholic and Protestant schools because such schools cause division.

You know, I can’t help but think that this message of interfaith tolerance–albeit in a slightly altered form–might have a little more resonance in, say, certain parts of London. Or Cairo. Or Damascus.



Little Brother by Cory Doctrow

Posted: June 16, 2013 by chad98036 in Uncategorized

Just finished Little Brother by Cory Doctrow.

Not impressed. 

First a quick description of the book -  Marcus is a 17 year old gamer.  Like most 17 year olds he has an anti-authoritarian streak and thinks he knows everything. 

One day Marcus and a bunch of friends skip out of school to participate in some live action gaming and in a spectacular display of bad timing they are caught in the middle of a huge al-Qaeda attack that kills thousands of San Franciscans. 

Homeland Security rushes thousands of troops to the scene within minutes of the attack (literally thousands and minutes) and arrest Marcus and his friends because they happen to be on the street and one of the friends was stabbed while they are attempting to take shelter. 

After their arrest Marcus and his friends are taken to a detention center where Marcus is interrogated for days with some associated physical abuse.  He is forced to give up email passwords etc. so that the feds can see what he knew about this attack. 

Finally satisfied that Marcus and his friends didn’t actually know anything the DHS releases all of them except the one who was stabbed.  He is kept for some reason.  Once he is released Marcus is told that he will be monitored and that if he ever tells anyone what happened he will be re-arrested and made to disappear. 

Realizing that he is being monitored Marcus and his friends set up an alternated internet and begin raising havoc.  Finally in a dramatic conclusion Marcus is rearrested, waterboarded, rescued by the California Highway Patrol and his friend Darrell is released even though he is severely damaged psychologically and has to be hospitalized.  The government declines to prosecute anyone who was involved in all the DHS going ons. 

There are a few side stories and a love interest but that’s basically the gist.  Basically it’s a bildungsroman and normally I like those types of story, so why didn’t I like this book?

There are a few reasons:

One, I am just not a fan of Doctrow’s writing style.  I have read him a few times on Boing Boing and I think I have read some other stories by him and he just doesn’t do much for me.  Honestly I have started this book a few times before and put it aside.  The only reason I picked it up again was the NSA story being in the news.

Two, I just had a hard time accepting his premise.  In the story it was, as I said, literally minutes before DHS had deployed what sounded like thousands of troops in San Francisco.  The 4 friends are arrested while trying to flag down help for their stabbed friend.  I’m not quite sure why random teenagers were swept off the street and assumed to be terrorists but obviously it was supposed to parallel the plight of Arab Americans after 9/11.  Once arrested they zero in on Marcus because he was “on the street” and his phone has a passcode.  Even if DHS is the most incompetent agency that has ever existed I to believe that the have a better investigative strategy than what amounts to “eeney, meeney, miney, mo”.  And, if they are so incompetent how exactly did they manage to magically deploy these troops so fast?  (Hint, there is a whiff of trutherism that pops up from time to time.)

Three, as I read along, it became more and more obvious that Cory Doctrow despises me.  Well not necessarily me but people like me.  If you are conservative or from middle America in Doctrow’s world you aren’t worth the piss it would take to put out a fire on your face.  His disgust is palpable.  Among our many other faults Doctrow makes sure to point out how fat, stupid, and racist we are.  Especially racist.  It is mentioned numerous times that only “brown” people are arrested.  Well except for his hero who happens to be white.  I guess he went that rout to appeal to racist retards like me.  Other hints that we are the lowest form of scum, the President’s chief adviser “Kurt Rooney” ranting about how America doesn’t care what happens to the “fags and atheists” in San Francisco.  (his words not mine) and a few digs a specific midwest states.

The actual mechanics of the writing is ok.

All in all I would say avoid this book unless you need a reminder that you are fat, dumb, racist and homophobic.  If you have forgotten all that then read away.