Thursday, July 28, 2011

TSA has a sense of humor

I went through a TSA checkpoint last night, and to my pleasant surprise, the TSA staff was actually very courteous, and exhibited a genuine sense of humor by cracking subtle jokes.

I think one of the female agents was actually hitting on me.

The muslims in front of me did not have such a good time. While I walked through the regular metal detector, they were forced to go through the so-called full-body scanners, and their foreign passports were being thoroughly inspected by several agents and their apparent supervisors.

I can guess they used some profiling methodology to decide who got through easy, and who needed the anal probe.

But then I thought about that Breivik nut in Norway. Is profiling going to change now to include blond-hair, blue-eyed Scandinavians?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A matter of context

GOOD : Sarah's surgery went without a hitch.

AMBIGUOUS : John and Sarah got hitched without a hitch. 

BAD  : The truck driver left the hitch installation appointment without a hitch.

MIRACULOUS : The truck driver pulled his boat out of the lake without a hitch.

Friday, July 15, 2011

5 Ridiculous Gun Myths

Hollywood is a myth-perpetuating machine, and any anti-gun advocates who obtain their gun-related information from Hollywood movies are severely misguided.

Follow the link for a humorous exposé of why magical automatic death machines and super-silent silencers are made-up Hollywood folklore.

http://www.cracked.com/article_18576_5-ridiculous-gun-myths-everyone-believes-thanks-to-movies.html

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NBC omits 'under God' from Pledge of Allegiance

NBC has issued an apology to 107 cry-baby members of Congress who got pissed off that an NBC broadcast had been edited to remove the controversial words 'under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance.

NBC should not apologize. The staff who made the edit did the right thing. 'Under God' has no place in the Pledge of Allegiance.

I would like to publicly criticize NBC for reprimanding the heroic staff members who took an ideological stance against theocracy.

This is not a nation under God, because there is no evidence whatsoever that such a deity even exists.

This is a nation defined by a Constitution written by men, because of their will to break away from an authoritarian empire. Not a nation under control of any kind of imaginary supernatural entity.

Forcing people to pledge allegiance to a 'nation under God' is forcing people to pledge an allegiance to a false idol. This should not be tolerated in a secular society such as ours, and NBC should instead be rewarding the employees involved.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/nbc-pledge-under-god_n_896476.html

Naked, Gun-Toting Woman

In Vacaville, California, police arrested 32-year-old Patricia Wright for storming a motel lobby in the nude with a loaded handgun.

I would like to let my readers know that I do not endorse this behavior (brandishing a firearm in a public place, I mean).

http://blogs.sacbee.com/crime/archives/2011/07/naked-woman-wit.html#ixzz1RoWFYNK9

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Abolish sales taxes

Sales taxes hurt consumers by reducing their purchasing power. When their purchasing power goes down, they end up purchasing less, and this in turns hurts merchants. This in turn forces merchants to lay off workers and place fewer orders, which has the dual effect of increasing unemployment and hurting manufacturers and importers.

As you have guessed it, this does not end there. When manufacturers receive fewer orders, they produce less, lay off workers, and order fewer raw materials. This in turns increases yet again unemployment and as manufacturers order fewer raw materials, natural resource extractors get hurt, and again, they lay off more workers.

Now, with all this unemployment, consumer spending takes a nosedive, which aggravates the situation further, and reduces revenues from sales taxes as a result. What do the States typically do when revenues go down? That's right, they increase the sales tax and make their predicament worse in the long run.

If States want to increase revenues, consumption taxes are the wrong way to go.


http://www.edmondsun.com/opinion/x814634218/Sales-tax-hurts-economy-too


http://www.khi.org/news/2010/jan/26/business-groups-say-sales-tax-increase-would-hurt-/


http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/24/japan-economy-tax-idUSTOE70N02W20110124

Friday, July 8, 2011

Texas illegally executes Mexican Citizen

 The State of Texas violated international law by executing a Mexican national without granting him consular access. This was in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

But a deeper problem exists. Governments should not be in the business of killing people. Capital punishment is a tool of tyrants, and a civilized democracy such as ours should not execute people, no matter how heinous their alleged crimes were. Testimonies can be bought. Evidence can be falsified. Confessions can be obtained under torture. 

I am of the opinion that Mr. Leal Garcia was guilty, but as my non-existent regular readers know, my opinion is worth jack sh*t. How will anyone know for sure now that the accused is dead? 

I can understand your feelings of anger if your 16 year-old daughter is raped and killed by a dirtbag, and I can't blame you for wanting the alleged perpetrator hung, drawn, and quartered. But what if you find yourself wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit because you happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? How would you like to have the tables turned?  Wouldn't you want the death penalty to be outlawed then?

Let's imagine a fictitious scenario for a moment. What if a religious fundamentalist is elected President and orders Homeland Security to put together a blacklist of anyone who has accessed an atheist blog, let's say for example, http://guntotingatheist.blogspot.com, and you end up on that blacklist for reading this very post. And what if the fundamentalist tyrant then orders that all the people on that blacklist get arrested and executed for 'conspiracy to commit blasphemy' (or some stupid thing of that nature)? How would you like it if the death penalty was legal then? The death penalty is something people like Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Saddam Hussein used all the time to eliminate their political enemies, because it worked. Let us not make life easier for future dictators by handing them this inhumane tool on a silver platter.

It is better to let a hundred vicious serial serial killers spend the rest of their life in prison than risk wrongfully executing just one innocent person. The death penalty only sounds good if you are on the good side of it. 

The death penalty is uncivilized and should be abolished.

Use of lethal force in self-defense -or in the defense of another- against a direct threat is a completely different story.

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/07/08/mexico.execution.un/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Government Industry vs Private Industry

Which is better? Government-run organizations, or private organizations? Let's look at some pros and cons of each.


Government industry pros:

Not-for-profit -> lower cost.*
Bureaucrats too lazy and unmotivated to bother trying to screw you.

Government industry cons:

Lazy-ass incompetent employees -> less efficient -> higher cost.*
Incompetent or corrupt employees have too much job security.
Less competition -> higher cost
Increases size of budget -> Justifies higher taxes and more data mining -> leads to an even bigger and more powerful government.
Lack of internal auditing. Money disappears into a black hole. Poorly managed.

Private industry pros:

More competent employees.
Incompetent of corrupt employees easily terminated - > lower cost**
Separation of powers -> less money and data going to the government
More competition -> lower cost.
Very efficiently managed -> lower cost

Private industry cons:

For profit -> often out to screw you -> higher cost**
Sacrifice the long-term welfare of their employees and clients for short-term profitability.
Sacrifice environmental sustainability for short-term profitability.
Very efficiently managed + Lack of government oversight + lax regulations = very effective at profiting off your back.

Private industry in cahoots with the government:

You are screwed and on your own. 


The verdict: Either way we are screwed. Pick your poison.

Possible alternative: A member-run cooperative organization?

* Notice the theoretical contradiction.
** Notice yet another theoretical contradiction.

Monday, July 4, 2011

New England Trivia


What are people from Massachussetts called?

a) Massachussettians
b) Massachussetters
c) Bay Staters
d) Massholes

What are people from Maine called?

a) Mainers
b) Mainians
c) Down Easters
d) Mainiacs

What are people from Vermont called?

a) Hippies
b) Vermonsters
c) Not Flatlanders
d) People live there?

What are people from New Hampshire called?

a) New Hampshirites
b) Libertarians
c) People who don't pave their f*cking roads because they don't like to pay taxes
d) Get the f*ck off my property, you and your f*cking survey.

The Declaration of Independence (Atheist version)

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men & women are created born equal, that they are endowed by their Creator at birth with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men & Women, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages indigenous tribes, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton