Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sometimes low-tech is better

I like technology. I use it, I study it, and I rely on it.

As humanity becomes ever more reliant on technology for employment, agriculture, communications, transportation, healthcare, finance, government, and many other facets of modern life, I believe that those who understand the inner workings of technology will eventually hold the world by the balls, figuratively speaking, and dominate the future.

Progressively, we are forgetting how to grow our own grain and produce, how to hunt and butcher our own meat, how to cut down trees for lumber and firewood. We are forgetting how to make our own cooking vessels out of clay. We are forgetting how to forge and cast our own iron, and how to do make our own gunpowder from scratch.

If the recent 8.9 magnitude Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami has taught me anything, is that nature can and will destroy anything in its path. When I saw images of entire towns being swept away by the waves, empty supermarket shelves, and scenes of devastation in towns where thousands of people went missing in the span of a few minutes, I began to think about the element of environmental risk in my own life.

Tough I am fortunate to live in an area where earthquakes and tornadoes are rare events, I do realize that I am completely dependent on food grown hundreds of miles from my home, and products manufactured on the other side of the world. For the past few days, I have been obsessing over the idea of stockpiling rice, beans, flour, quinoa, sugar, salt, and purified drinking water. I am also thinking about starting live batches of yeast (both baker's and brewer's yeast strains), and planting vegetable seeds in indoor planters (well out of reach of hungry dogs and curious cats).

I am considering clearing some trees off my land and planting a small field where I could grow wheat, barley and oats. I don't think quinoa would grow well in my climate, but I would be willing to try that as well.

And last but not least, I should probably replace my propane boiler with an outdoor wood boiler to supply heat and hot water to my home. I already own several acres of woodland, so I know I can grow my own firewood sustainably, and a wind turbine with a few solar panels would be a nice addition.

My bookshelf is filling up with wilderness medicine books, and my first aid kit weighs as much as a grown adult.

Perhaps I am over-prepared. But tell that to the unfortunate residents of Kesennuma, Japan.

Pay your taxes

As a person with libertarian inclinations, I do see taxation as the forceful act, performed by a state, of appropriating the fruits of a citizen's labor. In short, due to its mandatory nature, I perceive it as theft and extortion, especially when the money is spent on things I disagree with. As we approach the end of another fiscal year here in North America, it is easy to get upset at the amount of money our governments force us to turn over.

However, it is the law. And in our dealings with the state, we must always obey the law. Even if we disagree with the law, it is our obligation as citizens to abide by it. So I implore my readers to be honest in their tax filings. Please understand this does not mean that I agree with current tax policies. What I suggest is a perfectly legal form of protest: at the next elections, vote for candidates who vow to cut taxes and cut spending all the while balancing the budget, and NEVER re-elect a candidate who did not abide by that promise.

I am not against all taxes, as there are things I am indeed willing to pay for. But when too much of my tax dollars are being foolishly wasted, I make note of my elected representatives' voting records, and I keep it in mind at the ballot box.

But whatever you do, pay your taxes. Auditors do not have a sense of humor.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Atlas will shrug on Tax Day

The independent film "Atlas Shrugged", based on the Ayn Rand novel by the same title, will be released on April 15th, which in the USA is the due date for Federal tax returns. How appropriate.

The story explores what would happen if producers and innovators refused to go on being exploited by society and moved away. What it would result in, as Ayn Rand imagines, is the collapse of civilization as we know it. For producers and innovators are the driving force behind progress and growth, and in their absence, productivity becomes a distant memory.

Mark your calendars.

Gingrich afraid of the big bad "secular atheists"

Newt Gingrich was either confused about the difference between atheists and radical islamists, or was trying to deliberately mislead a gullible audience when he said yesterday at Cornerstone Church in Texas:

“I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,”

First of all, why the HELL would secular atheists allow radical islamists to dominate them? Doesn't make any damned sense. As a matter of fact, it is completely incoherent. I wonder if Mr. Gingrich was inebriated when he made that irrational statement? Too much church wine, perhaps?

Radical Islamists believe in God. Christians believe in God. But atheists know that God does not exist. Therefore, Christians have more in common with radical islamists than with atheists.

That's right, Christians and and radical Islamists, go have a church picnic together while we atheists are busy turning your homeland into a secular libertarian republic.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tired of paying for pointless foreign wars of aggression

After paying my income tax bill earlier this week, a yearly ritual that I am required by law to engage in, I am left to ponder the significance of US foreign military involvement.

What it signifies is that I am required by law to pay for it. And it upsets me.

Libya? What's over there? Does anything even grow out there? I thought it was just a barren desert. Do they have oil? OH!..... That's why... Big Oil is in bed with the Military-Industrial Complex of course... and they got the puppet master strings hooked up to Obama's limbs, making him dance like a marionette, the same way they made Bush dance.

We hear "Oh we have to rescue these people, their government is oppressing them". You know this is just a convenient excuse. This is all about the oil. Not that Libya has a lot of oil. But they have an evil dictator, so they want that oil now.

Meanwhile we pay these high taxes to fund the military operations so they can go pump the oil.

Then we pay an arm and a leg for the gasoline they will refine from that oil.

Then we will pay sales tax on that gasoline.

We the morons of America are paying for all that. It's called vertical integration. We are vertically-integrated cash cows, bred for one purpose only: to produce revenue for the feudal pigs whose fiefdom we inhabit.

We are slaves with modern illusions of freedom.

This system is pretty depressing. We complacently participate in it, and we pay, and then we pay again, and our elected leaders just waste every single penny we pay, and still manage to run a f*cking budgetary deficit and rack up $#!+ loads of debt. "Just one more country to invade, I promise! It's only going to cost a few billions!"

Who cares about these distant sand dune countries that got along just fine before imperialist western pigs screwed everything up. Leave them alone and undo the damage imperialism has done. It is not the responsibility of tax payers to fix the problems of the world. DO YOU THINK WE ARE STUPID?

There is a glimmer of hope.

We can stockpile food to last a few months, and then stop producing and stop consuming. Sit on our fat high-fructose corn syrup-fed asses just long enough for the whole system to run out of money and come to a screeching halt. We have fat reserves, we can last a while. Just sit on our asses and do nothing. Don't need a million dollars to do that. Actually sounds quite relaxing. Just sit on our fat behinds and give the word sloth a new meaning while watching the pigs starve of money. A strike. A nation-wide walkout.

Just one and a half year until the next elections. It's time we elect a libertarian government. Republicrats and Demoblicans be warned: Get your resumes up-to-date, because your jobs are on the line. Enough of this two-party dictatorship already.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How do you feel about gay marriage?

In recent times, there has been a lot of emotionally-charged discourse over whether or not gay marriage should be allowed. Liberals clamor for it, and conservatives have heart attacks thinking about it.

So you probably wonder what the Gun-Toting Atheist's position is on this topic, since you saw the headline and are now reading this.

First of all, let me begin by taking a big step back and ask a really simple question, because I think a lot of people are completely oblivious to the obvious. Why would anyone ever want to get married in the first place?

Marriage is the primary cause of several horrible things:

- Expensive engagement rings
- Expensive wedding dresses
- Expensive weddings
- Divorce settlements
- Alimony payments
- Spousal abuse
- Spousal infidelity
- etc.

Marriage is not a civil right, it is a life sentence. Back when the tradition of marriage started, people only lived into their thirties and then croaked - and there were no dentists. In this day and age however, people routinely live into their seventies and eighties, with some lucky people actually reaching their nineties, and some ticking on even past the century mark. Now imagine you have good genes and a healthy lifestyle and are going to live to 97 years of age. Would you want to be tied at the hip with the same person for all that time?

Don't do it! 100% of divorced people wish they had never gotten married at all! Learn from their mistakes! If you are already married... well good luck to you, that's all I can say. I really hope for you things are going well.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Don't waste cruise missiles on Gaddafi... sell them to his enemies! Ka-ching!$$

Just a thought... cruise missiles are really expensive. So using them in a non-self-defense scenario is wasteful. A waste of tax payer money.

But if those same missiles were sold to Gaddafi's enemies, that waste of money would be eliminated and become a source of profit.

Of course, you want to make sure whoever you sell them to doesn't turn around and use them against you, or use them against you allies, so maybe that is not such a safe idea after all.

Or we could do the just and moral thing; and not get involved in a foreign civil war at all.

As the Libertarian Party advocates: "the purpose of an American military is the defense of American soil, period."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You are being watched.... trim those nose hairs.

If you live pretty much anywhere on planet Earth where there are other human beings around, most likely you also live within range of a camera lens.

A little over a decade ago, I owned one 35mm film camera. Posting a digital picture of myself for an online dating profile was quite an undertaking. I had to have the film developed. Then I had to bring one of the prints to someone who owned a digital scanner. Then I had to put the picture on a floppy disk, go home, boot up my 386 desktop computer, and try to dial into my ISP, hoping that no one in my household was using the phone line at the same time.

Today, I own 6 camera phones, 5 digital cameras, 4 digital camcorders, 3 webcams, and even then, I'm sure I'm forgetting something. Bottom line is, in the past decade, the number of cameras in our society has exploded, and the ease of publishing or sharing pictures has also improved. I can catch my dog in a cute pose, and within seconds, email 12 copies of it.

Today on top the mountain I was strapping my foot onto my snowboard, and then noticed that a group of about a dozen skiers were just standing around in front of me - my regular readers know how much I despise people who just stand in the middle of a ski trail. I turned around and noticed that some dude behind me was trying to snap a picture of these people. I was just trying to have fun on the slopes, and I almost ended up on Flickr.

Last Friday night, driving home from work, some tourist in front of a Holiday Inn was taking random pictures of cars passing by, and my gaze crossed the gaze of her camera lens.

Our company Halloween party? Forget it. My over-the-top costume made quite a sensation, and within the hour, I was a Facebook celebrity. And I don't even f*king have a Facebook profile!

Holiday shopping two years ago wasn't much better. I was at a mall to buy an iPod, and I see these cute kittens and puppies in a storefront window. OMG! I love puppies! So I walk into the store, and walked right back out when I ended up face-to-face with a local TV camera crew doing a story about pet adoptions.

Of course, the moment you enter a store, you are being recorded by security cameras. Pulled over for a burned-out tail light? Your encounter with the policeman is recorded.

The bottom line is, it is almost impossible not to end up within the focus range of a camera nowadays. Sure you can always wear sunglasses, a hat and a ski mask, but then you would be known to everybody as that 'freak in a ski mask'.

But pictures or videos are only one part of the story.  Anything you write, anything you say can end up published, copied, broadcast etc. Politician sex scandals indicate stupidity; if you hold any kind of public office, those pictures of you performing a sex act with a "dancer" in a "gentlemen's club" will end up online, guaranteed. Those skeletons in your closet? Dust 'em off! They're going live in 5... 4... 3...

So you say you weren't speeding sir? Wait, is that a GPS-enabled phone in your pocket, or do you have a thing for men in uniform? Oh and that black box in your car that collects crash data? Yep, it's got a GPS tracker too.

You want to log on to your favorite anti-government right-wing church website? Yep, Time Warner Cable is recording your IP address.

People who make stupid mistakes, or commit intentional mischief, and expect to not get caught, are delusional. In this day and age, one cannot hide. We live in a zero-privacy era. So groom yourself. Behave properly. Obey the law. Pay your bills on time. Be squeaky clean. Dress well. Trim those nose hairs. Get rid of that mole on your chin. Get those dentures you always wanted, and smile! Because you are on camera!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The worse critic is oneself

Last night I started reading a 233-page novel that I wrote as a teenager.  After so many years, it felt like reading someone else's book. Here's my unbiased review of it.

1- The author is trying to be overly wordy, and also trying to cram too much crap into the book - crap that has nothing to do with the story, and actually distracts from it.

2- The author introduces unexpected and unnecessary plot points and characters that come out of nowhere and go nowhere. Makes ABC's "Lost" look almost coherent.

3- Character development is virtually non-existent, with the notable exception that the main character just gets more pissed off as the story progresses.

4- Dialogue sucks. Characters say things out of context. They say things that no one would never, ever say in real life. They draw conclusions from non-existent facts that are not even part of the story. They all sound like people who sniffed too much glue while watching the "Neverending Story".

5- Too much deja vu. A particular incident happens to the main character several times in the story, and all those instances could easily have been combined into a single one and still gotten the point across.

6- The author is clearly too young to drink.

7- The author also clearly has never kissed a girl.

8- The author also probably doesn't know any girls except his own sister.

9- The author makes up names that have no basis in any language spoken on planet Earth.

10- The story is full of disjoined parallel plots.

11- The author manages to make a 233-page novel feel longer than the entire 2000-page "Lord of The Rings" trilogy.

12- The ending doesn't make any damned sense.

Maybe I'm being too hard on my former self. But if I ever build a time machine, I vow to go back in time with a baseball bat and beat some sense into myself. I can't believe I actually wrote that rag. I can't believe other people actually read it. Blows my mind.

No, I am not telling you the title. Don't want any of you to read it. Reading my crappy blog is probably torture enough for you.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lead, follow, or get out of the way!

When coming off a ski lift, certain rules of etiquette apply.

The most important one is to get out of the way so the people coming off the chairlift behind you do not slam into you. This holds especially true when a snowboarder is in the chair behind you, as the snowboarder, being secured to his board by a single binding, cannot steer or stop as effectively as a skier until he has had a chance to secure the second binding, and will usually come off the ramp in a straight line.

Therefore, do not congregate at the bottom of the ramp. Do not hold a conclave. Do not wait for your friends. If you have kids, you are responsible for making sure they do not stay at the bottom of the ramp. MOVE.

If you are a snowboarder, go ahead and slam into these stupid skiers. They shouldn't be assembling at the bottom of the ramp. It's their fault, you have right of way. Slide on top of their skis if you can, and scratch the finish. They should know better. Besides, if skiers had any brains, they would be snowboarders.

What is the difference between a bucket of KFC chicken and a ski instructor? The bucket of KFC chicken can feed a family of four.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Libertarian Party says War on Drugs leads to gun smuggling nightmare

Today, the Libertarian Party issued a statement in regards to the recent controversy surrounding allegations that federal agents were willfully involved in smuggling weapons into Mexico, as part of the infamous 'War on Drugs' (how about a war on High Fructose Corn Syrup instead of a War on Drugs? Diabetes kills more people than any drug, but then the corn industry would probably be driven underground, and local dealers would start violent street gangs to control their turf, so it may not solve any problems in the long run, but as I often do, I disgress).

In the statement, the party claims that: "It's becoming more and more unclear whether the U.S. government even wants the violence to decrease. More drug violence means more jobs for federal drug agents. More drug arrests mean more jobs for prison construction and management contractors. There are a lot of people whose income depends on a big, thriving, unsuccessful War on Drugs."

One thing I would add, is that the federal gun grabbers probably routinely smuggle guns into Mexico for the sole purpose of justifying their intentions to impose more gun control here in the US. These are probably the same people who claim that most guns used by Mexican drug cartels come from the USA. Well duh!, if the US government is smuggling weapons into Mexico, that make perfect sense. If true, this suggests that the US goverment doesn't give a flying crap about preventing drug violence or gun smuggling, but is more interested in actually CAUSING more violence in order to justify the disarmament of American citizens.

If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, that is because I watched Revenge of the Sith, and this totally the kind of scheme Chancellor Palpatine would have conconcted if he had been trying to disarm the Republic, only he would have shipped blasters to Endor to trigger a full-on Ewok civil war in order to justify funding for a new fleet of Star Destroyers.

Read the Libertarian Party statement here:

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the Libertarian Party, nor am I affiliated with any political party. The only party I am involved with is an occasional wine tasting party, because I am a snob with friends in high places.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My propane dealer is a scammer

My propane dealer is trying to charge me over a dollar per gallon above the national average price. I tried to negotiate and they won't budge. Screw'em, I'm getting an electric water heater and come the spring thaw, they can come and get their goddamn fuel tank and shove it in someone else's backyard. Gratuitous pun intended.

Seriously... how do they even stay in business, given how they treat their customers? Do they not think that people shop around? Do they really think I am a dumbf*k when they try to convince me that the median residential prices listed on the US Department of Energy website are BS? I know what my friends are paying through their dealers, and surprise! surprise! it's in line with the national average. My dealer? A big scam.

Fossil fuels are not getting any cheaper. The prices are going only one way: UP. At least electricity prices are more stable, as a lot of electricity comes from wind, hydro or nuclear sources that do not fluctuate as much as other energy sources.

This whole Middle-Eastern-crap-hitting-the-fan-mess is doing wonders to accelerate the rise of the electric car. And the conversion from propane water heater to electric water heater.

I will not list the name of this company, but will only tell you this: Stay away from propane. It's a rip-off.

From The Halls Of Montezuma, To The House of Gaddafi...

From the Halls of Montezuma to the House of Gaddafi.... Should those be the new opening words of the Marine Corps hymn? I sure hope not. I wouldn't want to live in Libya, but I don't think it's the US's responsibility to play policeman of the world and start another absurdly expensive middle eastern war of imperialist expansion.

My question is... how does a man who looks like an ugly drag queen hold on to power for 30 years? Look at his picture up above... with all his billions of dollars, this man can't afford a decent plastic surgeon? How about paying Bravo for a bit part on What Not to Wear? And this guy ruled a whole country for 3 decades? It almost sounds like a bad GEICO commercial. "Ruling Libya for 30 years is so easy, even a caveman could do it!"

It's interesting to see how three adjacent countries are all going through a revolution at the same time. Is the CIA funding uprisings or something? It wouldn't be the first time the US did such a thing (in 1953, the CIA put the Shah back in power by bankrolling an uprising in Iran). If they did it before, well maybe they are doing it again now. Hey, CIA, if you have money you don't know what to do with, how about funding my heli skiing adventures? Sounds much more important (at least to me) than overthrowing some ugly dude in a clown costume.