Friday, October 2, 2009

I like this. A lot.

If you don't know what this video is satirizing, I'll refer you here . I'm not going to lie to you people. As much as I try to present a stoic exterior to the world, I am a pretty emotional person. Not sure if any of you have picked up on that. Anyway, this video almost made me cry (in a totally manly way). Let me explain.

The original one, done by the moronic celebrities, is ridiculous and not even funny. The response, done by a bunch of "nobodies", completely savages the celebrities and exposes just how idiotic their message is. For example, the celebrities talk incredulously about how absurd it is to suggest that someone be expected to pay for their own medical expenses. The regular people, who live in reality, point out how somebody has to pay for that care and it certainly doesn't make sense for the family with bills to take their neighbor's money by force. They don't say all of that literally, but it's there if you can pick up on it. And by the way, the second video is infinitely funnier than the one professionally produced by the multi-millionaires, some of whom make a living from comedy.

This is what we need right now. After all, regular people getting pissed off and sticking their finger in the eyes of the elite is what our country was founded on, right? Can't you see Will Farrell, Don Draper and that dipshit Japanese guy from Heroes watching the above video in disbelief, getting outraged and yelling, "Who do these people think they are?! Don't they know who I am?!" Of course, they don't really want to hear the answer to that question, because the answer is that the average person knows these celebrities better than they know themselves. The celebrities would presume to say the regular folks who made this video are nobodies, while they are somebody important. In reality, it is the celebrities who are nobodies, because they are nobody if the people in the second video don't watch their TV shows and buy tickets to their movies. The celebrities need us far more than we need them, yet somehow they think that they know what is best for us and they can tell us how we should live while they live like spoiled adolescents running wild with daddy's credit card.

Let this forever be a perfect example of how out of touch these rich leftists are. Not only do they think their stupid video will cause people to change their minds just because they are famous, they cannot see the abounding irony in them, celebrities, accusing a bunch of businessmen who deliver a valuable service of being overpaid and having too much money. If they aren't even bright enough to pick up on that, why in the hell would we listen to a word they say about anything else? The obvious answer is, we shouldn't. Many of these people have never had one real job their entire lives, and certainly not in any kind of management position. They are definitely not doctors, they just play them on TV (my favorite line of the video), and some of them can't even do that well.

The overall reason I like this, though, is because nobody is going to help us. We have to band together and do this ourselves if there is any hope of saving this country and rolling back the leftist agenda. We can't wait for someone else to do it and we can't depend on the GOP to find its brain and its spine in time to get anything done. That's why the video almost brought a tear to my eye. All my life I've had to suffer leftist propaganda in virtually every facet of the media and watch all of these self-congratulating ass clowns pat themselves on the back for every mediocre thing they've ever done. I have dreamed of something like this, where ordinary people pants the big dogs in a big way. Let's at least make them try when they make their propaganda.

If there is to be a counterstroke to the invasion of leftist ideology, it starts here and now. Or has it already started? Keep it up, everybody, we've got a long way to go.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friendly Fire

Things are going pretty damn well for conservatives, aren't they? We've basically stopped Obamacare dead in its tracks, cap and trade almost certainly won't pass, Michelle Malkin & Mark Levin are selling a lot of books, Fox News's ratings have never been higher, etc. Yes, I think it's time to show a little mercy to the Democrats and progressive Republicans. Time to take our foot off the gas and move on to more important things like ripping apart Glenn Beck , right? Wrong. The analogy was made that some of us in the VRWC are already dancing in the end zone, but I don't think that's accurate. I think a better analogy is that some of us are Leon Lett and Don Bebee is right behind us, ready to knock the ball out of our hands.

Look, I personally think Glenn Beck is a little off. His "Inconvenient Book" ranges from interesting to pretty strange, like when he waxes poetic about McGriddles and Coke Zero. But you know what? I skip the strange parts. Yeah, I do. Isn't that revolutionary? Instead I focus on things like the outrageous quotes from muslim and environmental leaders and some fascinating factoids like which 10 U.S. cities have the most poverty and which political party has been running them the longest during their decline.

Regardless of what you think of Beck, he virtually exposed Van Jones by himself and got him fired while enduring smears and boycotts in the process. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting there, Glenn. Now let's have people who are supposed to be on the same side as you talk about how nuts you are when really they're shitting their pants because you called Obama a racist and they so don't want to go there. So the left can call people like Jeremiah Wright a silly old uncle, but we need to flee in terror and disown Glenn Beck at the drop of a hat, right? Even worse, we are supposed to see Beck's comments as the equivalent of Wright's? Count me out of that self-defeating nonsense.

Whatever Beck's faults are, his fearlessness at issuing challenges to elitist know-it-alls at every turn is not one of them. In fact, we need more of it. "Oh you can't say Obama's a racist! You can't say it!" Okay, then why not? What makes it so ludicrous? Obama is the one that willingly attended that church for two decades and is on record several times speaking glowingly about his "spiritual mentor". A spiritual mentor who just happens to be an evil (yes, evil) virus that twists the Gospel, using it to instil hatred and envy in his congregation while taking their money to retire in an opulent mansion in an almost all-white community (in other words, the embodiment of most accusations the left repeatedly makes about religious leaders).

At first glance it seems to me that the onus would be on Obama to dig his way out of an impossibly deep hole. Instead we hand him a ladder and give him a pass by letting him say that he never listened to any of "those" sermons for twenty years and Wright somehow in the span of a month or two turned into a really bad dude...even though the sermons in question were several years old. Fighting through all of that stuff will be hard, though. There must be something easier we can do rather than have to confront the whole racism thing.

It turns out there is. We can refuse to even discuss the possibility that Obama might be a racist, leave unanswered the question of "What type of person would willingly attend such a church for so long?" and try to destroy Glenn Beck, rationalizing it every step of the way. He's not just a Mormon, he's a kooky Mormon, he's a "recovered" alcoholic (air quotes for the unspoken, unfounded suggestion that mmmmaaaaaybe he's saucing a little before every show). The best part of this is that we can show the liberals how perfectly reasonable we are, which is always our goal, right? The more we demonstrate our hatred for Beck, the more we reveal our reasonableness. When the liberals realize we are perfectly reasonable, they will all suddenly forget their progressive beliefs and will become conservatives overnight because we don't like Glenn Beck anymore. We'll do that even if the liberals' goal in all this is to discredit Beck and whitewash all of Van Jones's dirty laundry so that any time someone complains about Jones, or any other czar, the punk card will be, "Hey, you're not like Glenn Beck, are you?" Make sense?

We don't have to agree with every damn thing that every single one of us does or says. So Beck thinks McCain would have been worse than Obama. We might not agree and we might not understand the purpose of the 45 minute Katie Couric interview, but why spend time and energy arguing about something that can't be proved or disproved at a time when Obama unveils some new affront to our country every day. If you think it was a stupid comment to make in the first place, then doesn't talking about the comment itself at length just compound the stupidity? There's nothing wrong with disagreeing and pointing out faults, but there is something wrong with making it your number one priority and obsessing over it during a time when there are much, much bigger fish to fry.

As much as progressives want to erase the concept of good and evil, there actually are good guys and bad guys out there. For the moment, Beck is one of the good guys, imperfect though he may be. It's entirely possible that may change one day, as it could for any of us, but if it does there is no need to tear our clothes and apologize for him at great length to try and appease the liberals who don't know anything more of Beck other than clips from the Daily Show anyway. If that day comes, if Beck goes too far off the reservation, then he will do himself in because people won't watch his show or buy his books anymore. The only commentary from us needed will be, "That's a shame. He did some good things. Now back to a more pertinent issue." We don't need essays and columns and documentaries assuring our opposition of how much we are not like Glenn Beck while the country burns around us.

The simplest analogy I can make is that the Army and Marines do not get along well and are fierce rivals. However, they both have the same ultimate goal and you won't see one shelling the other to try and score points with the Taliban.

Finally, a note to any self-righteous, perfectly reasonable, moderate commentators out there. Once they've finished with Beck and the others they're coming for you, because you will suddenly be "the fringe", and that's what this is really all about. Beck is in the crosshairs at the moment, but he's not the first and he won't be the last. It's the beginning, not the end. It never ends.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ezra Klein you F'ing slut.

As I think I may have alluded to in the past, I do not normally watch television. I don't particularly care to get my information from video sources--it's too hard to "interrogate the text" to use a post-modern phrase, it's too difficult to go back over and re-read, to leave the page open while I go look at something else.

And when it comes to entertainment a book does far better, and is there when I want it, and I don't have to dick with a bunch of technology. Well, until I bought the kindle, which frankly is one of the least troublesome bits of tech I've worked with this side of a multi-blade screwdriver.

Anyway. Video.

I was trying to eat my "Caesar Salad" in the chow hall here at Victory a bit a go, and they have these big ass monitors with TV on them. For some reason they have about 1/3 of them tuned to CNN about half the time (the other half is Fox News).

There was a discussion about Health Care Reform (of course) and they cue'd in Ezra Klein (you can google this twit, I ain't linking it in) Ezra Klein is a left-progressive "Economist" who makes a living spewing propaganda.

He's also full of shit.

Apparently one of the ways that Dear Leader thinks he's going to pay for his health care reform is by charging an excise tax on so-called "Gold Plated" (aka "high cost") insurance plans.

Now, this in and of itself is a dumb move.

One of CNN Bobbleheads asks Klein if this will reduce the number of people who take out these plans.

Klein says (paraphrasing because I've got a chain link brain):

This will be a good thing because it will reduce the cost of the system.

Mr. Klein you Ignorant Slut;

You're an economist. Or at least you're a writer who claims to know something about economics.

Presumably you've studied both Macro and Micro economics, and at least a BIT of the inbetween stuff.

What you are apparently incapable of understanding is the concept of PROFIT MARGIN.

That is the (positive) delta between what it costs a company to create, produce, ship, sell, deliver, whatever a product and what that product brings in.

Now, like a lot of pomo types (and like me on a bad day) you may have done some "research" at some point that basically amounted to reading a corporate financial report or three, and some webpages. You often find comments in this like "The profit margin across our lines was %" or you see news articles that say "Apple makes a n% profit margin while Microsoft makes n+5%..." or whatever.

These are a lie. Or at least a blurring of hte truth. Microsoft doesn't function on a profit margin. Nor does Apple, or any other company with multiple lines.

This is why Ford and GM were able to make cheap fuel efficient cars (which they had to because of CAFE standards) and sell them at a loss while making (literally) TONS of those EVIL POLLUTING SUVS that everybody ELSE wanted. Because they had a higher margin on those SUVs than on the tin cans that everyone else drove.

In other words Ford subsidized (because of CAFE) the econo-boxes with the PROFIT MARGIN on the SUVs.

This is as basic as a very very basic thing. Even my art degree having slacker self can understand that.

To make it easier on you, you've probably heard the term "loss leader", right? It's what Grocery Stores and 7-11 use to get you in the door. Yeah, that's the OPPOSITE of profit margin. They take a small loss on a few products so they can sell you other stuff at normal "markup". Part of that markup is PROFIT MARGIN.

Now, let's talk a bit about profit margins Mr. Klein.

In general your most expensive products have your highest profit margins. This is for a couple of reasons:
  • Premium products are usually less cost sensitive, so you can slide an extra percent or two in there without looking uncompetitive.
  • Even if you can't get the extra percent in there, a 10% off a 100 dollar product is 10, and 10% off a 300 product is 30, and if you have to spend almost the same amount of effort to get a 300 sold as a 100 product, you're 20 ahead.
Now, for this and for other reasons your CHEAPER products generally have lower profit margins (because they are MORE price sensitive). What a company then does is try to find a cheap way of selling these products.

This generally doesn't work in the health insurance game because of regulations, contracts and traditional industry practices (aka "brokers").

So here's what's going to happen if you plan on financing ANY part of your idiotic proposal with an excise tax on these expensive plans:
  1. The Unions, whose members are the greatest consumers of these plans will kill this bill. Which will be the first time on this turn of the wheel that I will be on the side of Big Labor. Stranger things have happen, somewhere. But the guy was probably on acid.
  2. Since the Unions killed it, there is no 2.

If that fails this will be the chain of events:

  1. Millions of Union Members will find their health care plans revamped to come in JUST UNDER whatever price or feature point you lay out.
  2. The Insurers will, to keep the Union business and stay competitive will give up a little profit margin on THESE plans because they need to hit a price point. Which they will get other users of the "gold-plated" to switch to.
  3. That means the government won't get the money it claims to expect (since these claims never match reality I don't think they really do expect to get that money, it's just a lie to get it past the voters and MAYBE the CBO if you're REALLY lucky.). #2 means that the insurance companies will be making less money. Which you're probably fine with except:
  4. If the insurance company is a not-for-profit it's using those expensive policies to finance the cheaper policies, which it now has to raise the price on. Meaning no net change in the COST OF THE SYSTEM. Which leads to
  5. More people not being able to afford commercial insurance, leaving them either without it, or on the "public plan".
  6. If they are a for profit, they HAVE to keep making a profit, so they'll probably raise the cost of their lower cost plans ANYWAY with the same results.
This will start what some would call "a vicious circle", and what I like to call "swirling round the porcelain pot". Because as more people fall off onto the public plan you're going to have to scramble for money to pay for it. Which means more taxes, more restructuring, more people on the public plan etc., until you reach the state that England is in.

One where MOST of the people get really, really crappy care and a (relatively) few people who either have their insurance paid for by the government (who will write themselves out of the excise tax) or are just rich, will be able to afford care with private doctors and clinics, or leave the country for health care (aka "medical tourism").

Oh, and let's look at secondary effects. Reportedly most of these "gold plated" plans are in Union states like Michigan, and EXPENSIVE states like NY (especially NYC) and California. You know, two places that have been hemorrhaging middle class citizens for the last 5 years? California's legal population is actually dropping. When you increase the costs of employer provided health care, what do you think those employers are going to do? Migrate jobs elsewhere if they can, or effectively reduce employees salaries by not giving raises. Which again means less money for the feds. Which means when inflation kicks in in about 18 months, we're screwed.

This Mr. Klein is where your plans are destined to take us. Because despite your rhetoric, despite your propaganda, health care in THIS country is better than any in the world. It costs very, very little to get your basic care. We spend more because we have more, and we really DO get more out of our system because we engage in all manner of really stupid lifestyles, from the prepared foods and sodas in front of the TV meals to wii's as a form of exercise to higher levels of smoking (until recently). We do more damage to ourselves because we've expected the health care system to keep up with it.

My daughter was able to see a specialist--a fairly rare specialist--within HOURS of her primary care physician noticing a possible problem.

Hours, Mr. Klein.

I was a "good boy" Mr. Klein. I did what the system told me I needed to do--I joined the Marines to earn money for college, then I went to College and got a degree. Then I learned a useful skill that people would pay good money for. I could have slacked off. I could have been even worse a father to my first kid--by not working like hell to get her on my health insurance as soon as I realized it was possible. I could have worked the shadow economy to avoid any "real" earnings and not sent her mom a dime in child support. After all, I was a punk, and I knew people who lived like that.

But I did this to pay for my needs and my families needs. And for the last 28 years you and fucking thieves like you have been taking money--which means a small part of my life--out of every finanical transaction I make to pay for useful shit like roads and the DoD and useless shit like ACORN and the NEA and Social Security (which is now going to be net-deficit sometime in the NEXT TWO YEARS).

You're sort of right Mr. Klein, it WILL reduce the cost of the overall system in 10-20 years, when it finally collapses. When there is no longer enough money in the system to support all but hte most basic research (you'll need the basic research to keep the plebes in line with "study shows extract from juju berries might increase bone density in left handed lemurs" so you at least make it LOOK like you're going to increase their chocolate ration sometime) you'll stop getting new drugs, new diagnostic tools and new procedures.

Maybe, maybe China or India will pick up the slack.

But either way I hope that when you produce "offspring who will spend half their time adoring me and the other half realizing every ambition I failed to make good on" that you never have to go through what I did with my second child--an emergency c-section (well, my wife went through that, but I had to watch) and then 7 days in the ICU.

But I hope that if you do, it's not under the health care system you advocate.

Because your child will die. Well, you're won't because you'll still be politically well connected, and call in favors, right? But someone's will, just like that poor woman in Britain who was punished for having sex by carrying a child for only 5 months and 21 days, 5 days shy of "the legal limit".

Wasn't even a live birth on their statistics.

I couldn't finish reading that article Mr. Klein, because some day I may be in England and I wouldn't want my vacation ruined by a desire to hunt down the doctors and give them the same treatment they gave that poor luckless baby.

We would treat that baby here Mr. Klein, we'd spend a million dollars to keep that baby alive.

Because we're better than them. We're Americans.

You're not.

Friday, September 18, 2009

For the Dogs

Down, boys. Heel.

Freakin' Vickles. First there was Norm, then there was Trigger, and now Bulldozer. This ever-growing chorus of canine commentators has become a thorn in my side. It's not that I have anything against dogs weighing in with their thoughts per se. I'm actually surprised they have something more to contribute than this. What I do have a problem with is their elitist attitude. Where the hell does a dog get off acting like that, anyway? It's the type of attitude I'd expect from a Siamese cat. Then again, they are Philly fans, and we all know there's no accounting for that lot.

There is just a bit of a contradiction going on here. What's good for the dog pound is expected to be good for everyone else, but what's good for everyone else might bore them to death. Norm dismissed me out of hand as a cold, vacuum-like shell of a person that doesn't understand passion or eros because I thought Event Horizon was a scary movie. Let's put aside the irony of getting a lecture on eros from a member of a species that knocks up their bitches (literally) and leaves them alone with eight babies at a time. Instead, let's just focus on what brought his comment up in the first place, namely that I was unimpressed by Cat People. Despite thinking it was a mediocre movie, I enjoyed talking about it and watching it and did gain some understanding about why some people think it's great. I think it's largely got to do with personal preference and nostalgia, but hey that's fine, thanks for sharing.

That's what gets me about this whole comic thing. It really miffs you dogs for some reason. Now see, your disdain would be justified if the message of the posts was, "OMG, ppl! Did u c the new issue of x-men? Wolverine is so fuckan kewl, man!" Instead, it actually is what Bulldozer is complaining that we aren't doing enough of. The entire reason I put those posts up was to share my life, ideas, memories, and values. Not only that, I'm also making an effort to tie these posts in to current events. I am not celebrating comic books in those posts. I am shouting to all of you, "Look at what these bastards tried to make me think!" These douche bags go after the kiddies, and that's part of the reason I can't write as much as I'd like. I'm not going to park my kids in front of the TV and let Nickelodeon shape their minds with their Obama propaganda cartoons and environmental brainwashing. I want to do everything I can to avoid contributing to the “next generation of psychopaths” as someone (LocoPunk?) said.

If any of you haven't yet seen the Avengers post, I'm begging you to read it, but leave your snobbery at the door. Norm chided me for not looking deeper into an '80s movie, which is an era of films I largely don't care for. Trigger chastised me for not being interested in the story of someone who frequents places like this. That's a two-way street, li’l doggies. You get what you give. Don't ignore the underlying theme of what I'm posting simply because there are comic books involved, then scoff in incredulity when I don’t become a Starchild believer.

I bring up the Avengers post because it reads virtually word for word everything that the left has been saying about the Tea Party & Obamacare protesters, yet it was published almost 20 years ago. This is what these people really think about all of us. That comic is just one example of how they have been spreading their bullshit ideology in our country. The left is stale, unoriginal, unrepentant, trying the same failed plans over and over again, yet most people nowadays have no idea. Otherwise how could someone run as a transformational, "fresh" candidate as they run around using the same old socialist rhetoric?

Bottom line is that comics were a part of my life experience and are really what first alerted me to liberal media bias. The ones I'm sharing are from the last year I ever bought comics and I'm showing you the reasons why. I did like them a lot, but even at a young age figured out that indoctrination was more important to these people than telling a good story or drawing cool pictures. It sucked because of how much I enjoyed them, but I had to drop them one series after another as the infection spread.

It's part of a larger story about the death of trust in media going on right now. This same hard-nosed groupthink has spilled into every facet of the media's existence, including the news. Maybe it's been there all along, maybe it's more widespread now. Either way, more and more people are doing the same thing with their TV shows and news reports that I started doing with comics way back then. We could very well reach the point where people don't trust the media to give them news or entertainment.

If that's not something you care about simply because you feel comics are beneath you, then you're essentially saying part of my life experiences are beneath you and not worth sharing. In other words, it doesn't matter how it ties in to current events or how it impacted my life; if there are doodles on a page involved, you just don't care. If that's the case, you mutts really need to appeal to the head honchos Over There to post some ground rules about what is and is not worthy to reference over here and at the other place. Don't be surprised if you end up seeing even less offerings after that happens, though, especially if the topics held as superior fare are ‘80s movies and UFO theories. Instead, let me use a liberal cliche and suggest that you fellas be a little more "open-minded". Perhaps it’s the similarity comics have to newspaper funny pages that make you want to reflexively defecate all over them, but trust me, there is something more to these posts than fan-boyerism.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The developing dispute over US tariffs of Chinese-made tires is likely to drive prices higher for Americans as Chinese tire producers appeal for a collective price hike to soften the blow from the recently approved tax.

Chinese tire exporters are also urging the government to offer higher tax rebates, said Zhou Zhiyong, general manager of China's largest tire exporter Guangzhou Huanan Rubber Tire Co Ltd.

"Chinese tire producers have reached a consensus that we are going to raise the price on tire exports to the US by large margins," Zhou told Guangzhou Daily. He added that the move would make American consumers feel the pain caused by the new tariff.
This is not big. This is bloody huge. This is the start of a trade war with China. More than that, it's a preview of a likely result of passing cap & trade, namely that we'll have to pass massive tariffs to give U.S. businesses any shot at surviving in the global marketplace. I know health care and ACORN are big right now, but I think this deserves an equal share of the nation's attention.

Let me direct your attention to two key parts of this article. All boldface is added:
Many [Chinese] tire companies have begun exploring markets outside the US...[such as] Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and Africa...
In other words, the entire rest of the damn world. And pay close attention to this next part:
In addition, China may sell its tires to countries like India, Japan, South Korea and Germany, who are likely to supplant China as the low-end tire suppliers to the US market...

Chinese imports come at the lower end of the price spectrum, where US producers have little interest in, or capacity for, making substitutes for the Chinese imports. More likely, their demand would be satisfied by imports from other countries who offer low-end, low-priced tires.
Got that? There is a reason U.S. companies don't make these tires: because it's not profitable enough. With metals there are material test reports that show who the manufacturer is and where the material originated. I don't know how the tire industry works, but if it's not as strict it's entirely possible we will still be buying these Chinese tires, just doing it through other countries like Japan & South Korea who will mark them up first. Or we'll be buying tires made in Japan & Korea which still won't help U.S. industry. Unless, that is, Obama enacts an across the board tariff that covers all import tires. Whatever happens, though, the American consumer loses because of increased costs.

What I don't understand is why Obama has decided to do this now, while he's in the middle of the health care fight, rising unemployment, and a host of other things. Is it as simple as he needed to pay back big labor? Is he trying to completely destroy our country? What explanation makes sense? No doubt this is going to be heralded by liberals as some sort of proof that he's a tough guy and willing to stand up to China.

The thing is, though, we have already put ourselves in such an incredible position of weakness with China that I don't see how we can be tough with them about anything until we start cutting spending and paying down the deficit. Obama's plan here is a little bit like walking up to the loan shark you haven't even begun to pay back yet, spitting in his eye and then smirking. Is that going to work? Hillary Clinton already went over there and begged them to buy more of our debt. Plus, how does Obama plan to fund Obamacare without a fully cooperative China to help out with all that increased debt that goes along with the price tag?

Also, protectionism is not going to revive the U.S. tire industry and make everything be well-run and profitable. If anything it will probably make it worse because these union-heavy companies will know that they no longer have any competition. And remember this strategy is the reverse of the Jedi mind trick the left is trying to play on us with health care and cap & trade, which is that the free market works as long as it's not free. This belief is the crux on which Obamacare and cap & trade are built. In one area, the theory is that cutting off access to fossil fuels will inspire the market to magically pull new technology out of its ass. For the other, it's that creating a government health care system (or "injecting competition" into the marketplace, depending on your rhetoric) will lower costs and increase quality of care. But, in the case of the tire industry, decreasing competition and jacking prices up will actually help everybody out. Which one is it, morons?

The big question right now is what will China do? They've already started an anti-dumping probe into U.S. poultry and auto products, but what will the result of that be? I don't see how they won't try to do the economic equivalent to us of breaking our legs with a lead pipe. Now they do have some peripheral drama going on, too, that may affect their decision, but I will be floored if they just take this lying down and don't retaliate. At the same time China is mulling this over, the United Steelworkers union (the same group that got the tire tariff increase) is just getting started:
U.S. Steel Corp. asked the U.S. Commerce Department to impose dumping and anti-subsidy duties of as much as 90 percent on some Chinese steel pipe imports, days after the Obama administration set tariffs on Chinese tires.

The petition was filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission against $400 million in imports of pipes used in chemical, petrochemical, refineries and related operations, according to Roger Schagrin, a lawyer for the U.S. producers. The U.S. imposed tariffs this month on a different type of steel pipe from China in a separate case.
By the way, this showdown has been simmering since before last Friday. Things certainly seem to be coming to a boil now. Please make sure your seat belts are securely fastened. It's going to get a little bumpy with Cap'n Barry at the helm.


Thought you fellas had something to say.

Simmering resentments.

Cultural clashes, commentaries, and breakthroughs.


What do we have? Some chatter about comic books at the other site. Here? Nothing.

I promised there would be no intervention from "Over There."

This isn't intervention. It's a bit of wisdom you can accept or reject.

This is your opportunity to be on record. We are living through an incredibly important time. You may think your time is better spent earning a living, cuddling with kids, and riding your family through the recession. Better things to do and all that.

But you're wrong. "The unexamined life is not worth living." We could easily lose this confrontation between the Obamanistas and the Americans. If that happens, all that remains will be the record of those who lived through it, fought their hardest, and went down trying.

Does the "Diary of Anne Frank" ring a bell? A hundred years from now, that may well be all that remains of this resistance against totalitarianism. What we all write down now may be the only record of the fight and the catastrophe of our loss. Your lives, your ideas, your memories, your values, your land and friends and loves... these are worth some time out from the rest of life to set down with some care.

I'm asking you, beseeching you to LIVE here... so that the future will be able to see what living IS, or was... Don't just argue or postulate. Share. Record your lives and dreams and memories and all that makes you YOU. Think of this as a time capsule of the thinking ones who knew what was happening. Put all your beauties into the capsule as well as your angers.

As I said, disappointed. I mean, what do you think "Over There" is about? Showing off? It's always been about documenting a life of mind and heart and land and faith, fighting like hell the whole way against the countervailing tide. The joy of life. The rage against the gathering forces of death. The thrill of understanding how the war is being waged and leaping ferociously in wherever a well placed dagger might help.

This site should give rise to a hundred, a thousand. Instead it wilts in its lonely pot like an unwatered orchid.

Question your own passion, gentlemen. Question it every day. They may be unconscionable assholes "Over There," but when they wake up every day their first move is toward the sword at their side. Can you say that?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

RIP Jim Carroll.

A little late, but I guess better than never.

I wasn't a camp follower, but Some People Who Died was a punk rock classic, and Catholic Boy hit a nerve.

Here's hoping that if there's an afterlife he gets a comfortable one.

I can't drink to his soul right now, so one of you lift a glass for me.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Reclamation of Independence

Via NiceDeb, we find this.

It contains no earth-shaking revelations or radical ideas. It's far too wordy for the average MTV-nurtured attention span, and as a result will probably attract less attention than warranted. Toward the end, it drifts a bit from the formalized language of the preamble into unfortunately florid and casual hyperbole.

But I believe the man's got a kernel of a good idea there, and I suspect this audience is one that can give it a fair reading without getting bored halfway through and surfing Google Image Search for new LOLcats.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Okay, fine.

So nobody wants to talk about sports, at least not hockey. Got it. Let's get back to the decay of Western Civilization, then. Specifically, let's look at another example of how leftist philosophy in action is chipping away at our influence in the world as we give up and let other nations call the shots. I'm still going to tie it in with Canada, though.

There's a nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada, that's been around for over 100 years. The unionized workers there have been on strike for a few weeks. In fact, they might be better at striking than actually mining nickel since it seems they strike more often. Take a look at this timeline of strikes at the mine. There are two, one in the late '70s and one in the '80s, that have been glorified to the point of legend and I think they even made a movie of one of them. Workers still talk about the "gains" those labor pioneers made with a sense of awe. That's why they're striking now, because the evil corporation that cuts their paychecks, Inco, wants to take all of those gains away.

The thing I can't figure out when I read their reasons for striking and then I look at that timeline is why they have been striking so damn much in the past 15 years. The glorious strikes of the '70s and '80s were historical and yielded incredible gains, right? So what's going on? Apparently their company is always trying to scale back all of those historic union wins. One might wonder if perhaps all of those union wins were a little too incredible and are making the company unprofitable because they have to pay out too many pensions and nickel bonuses. That's not how the union sees it, though. They are convinced that Inco simply wants to take all that stuff back so they can make more money, presumably so a CEO somewhere can roll around in a pile of thousand dollar bills, or looney bills, or whatever Canada's currency is.

Did I mention that Inco was bought out by a Brazilian company a couple of years ago and is now Vale-Inco? This has become a sort of nationalist rallying cry for the downtrodden workers as they've put a new spin on the whole "they took our jobs" line. Now the line is that the foreigners are paying us to work, but they're trying to take our money. Nevermind that the unions have driven Canadian ownership away so that a company from the opposite continent had to come save their jobs. They are still greedy foreigners who are trying to roll back important things and take advantage of the working man. Of course, the left reminds us that the unions are going about this the wrong way:
Instead, [Gary Kinsman, a Professor of Sociology at Laurentian University in Sudbury] urged strategies that emphasize international solidarity among workers. Nationalist rhetoric, he argued, “sets up a precarious position if you are trying to build long term relationships among working-class people around the world in the context of global capitalism.”
Hmmm.International worker solidarity? Haven't we heard that sort of talk before somewhere else? Did that prove to be a successful economic blueprint? How strange that this website calls itself "New" Socialist and talks about radical ideas for change, but there's nothing new about it. Very surprising.

This situation gets more interesting as the CEO of Vale-Inco has apparently told the unions to go screw themselves. They are going to hire new people, are already training them, and are planning on resuming operations in a few weeks. The unions don't like that too much:
Peter Digby, a 21-year veteran with Vale Inco, said starting any production at Vale Inco’s operations with inexperienced staff could be dangerous.

“I think it’s an extremely dangerous precedent (to set),” he said. “They don’t have people who are qualified or capable of doing a lot of jobs. I would be extremely concerned for those people and their safety because this company doesn’t care about anyone’s safety.”
So you see? The unions aren't the ones who are worried about the money. They just care about safety. Whoever these new workers are, they don't have 20 years of experience standing around drinking coffee and reading the newspaper while seven people do the work of two. I'm actually worried about the safety of those new workers, too, but more about their safety as they cross the picket lines and whether or not union thugs will try to threaten and intimidate them out of work.

Unions are largely detestable because they are businesses in themselves that force people to pay for something they already have in many Western nations under government laws: worker protection. They are also one of the worst types of pyramid schemes as the only way to move up is to be a member until the people over you die off or retire and make room. Union members are rewarded solely on seniority, not performance. It doesn't matter how hard you work, you'll be waiting in line just as long as the next guy, and that's if you're actually able to get work and it's not all being taken by more senior members. Unions are out for their own self-interest at the expense of whatever company their members work for. Unions produce nothing and they cannot exist on their own. They are parasitic organisms that feed off of the productive private sector but pretend to be doing workers a favor as they slip their grubby hands into the workers' wallets. They make businesses less profitable, more inefficient, and often bankrupt which means everybody loses their job. Unless, that is, the taxpayer at large can be made to subsidize them. Here's a great example of what I mean from an "anonymous picketer" in the New Socialist post above:
He continued, “[Vale-Inco] want to never have a loss. That’s not realistic in the mining industry.” He said that the history of Inco has been one of occasional losses alternating with periods of huge gains. In the current market, the company is going to briefly lose money “unless we come in here and do volunteer work.”
That's right, because there is no middle ground between extravagant pay and working for free. Who are these greedy, selfish CEOs who want to make a profit every year? I many years do the union bosses tighten their belts, take pay cuts and operate on losses? In the end this isn't different from any other progressive pipe dream. They assume that people will always need nickel and that Vale-Inco will give in to them because they want to make money from the mine. Somehow, they are incapable of understanding that if Vale's management doesn't make what they consider to be enough money, or if they end up losing money because of union tributes, it's not going to be worth all of the time and energy and they'll just pull out. I wasn't in on the Vale board meeting, but when they decided to buy Inco I'm pretty sure their reasoning wasn't, "You know, if we buy that mine in Sudbury I bet that we can eke out a meager profit after making grotesque payments to the local labor unions."

What would happen if Vale did pull out? Who knows? The Canadian private sector has already proven unwilling to run this mine. I'm guessing Sudbury would be considered too big to fail and the government would take it over, and the Sudbury mine would have the exact same problem with profitability they've been having since those courageous and bold strikes of yore. Even worse, if the Canadian government were hypothetically in a lot of debt of its own with massive entitlement spending, high unemployment and falling tax revenues, Canada and the residents of Sudbury may quickly decide that they're so desperate for income they'd be willing to take any sort of deal on Vale's terms. That's the sort of big picture thinking that these buffoons are incapable of, though, because it's not happening now, so who cares? Some people just don't know how good they already have it.

Hats off to you, Local 6500 of Sudbury! With one hand you would take the paycheck from the foreign corporation and with the other would try to punch them in the face. You expect the company that gives you a job to go without profit for an indefinite period of time so you yourself don't have to lose any of your union privileges. You can't put two and two together to figure out that your company running at a loss is actually a very, very bad thing for you. If Vale-Inco doesn't break you, though, I will be quite amused to see your rage when they decide to pack up and leave you high and dry. Then you'll be demanding that somebody do something to make them stay and keep paying you, and they're so greedy and this and that and the other thing. Everybody is greedy except for you because you have compassion and safety concerns as your only motivation. I smell an Oscar-winning film adaptation of this strike on the horizon!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Football's here, but it's not on my mind.

If I could be a pro athlete, I'd be a hockey goalie.

I need to take a short break from the heavy stuff. I don’t want to be negative all the time. There are a few good things still out there and they are worth being reminded of. We've talked about the current state of sports in this country and how many of us feel our enthusiasm slipping away more with each passing year. The Mike Vick situation is like a knife in the heart of some Eagles fans, and understandably so. Even for those of us who don’t like the Eagles, it still puts a damper on the whole season. He will be hyped up and we will be reminded of him constantly. Even before Vick came back, I realized at some point last year that if I didn't participate in a fantasy football league I probably wouldn't be half as interested in the NFL as I used to be. Basketball has never really done it for me, I like baseball but not that much (a story for another time), so what does that leave me with? Golf? Tennis? Soccer? No, no and hell no. Hockey is the last sport I get excited, dare I say even passionate, about. There may be some eye rolling and scoffing going on right now in the audience. That's okay, I've gotten used to it when bringing this topic up, but allow me to take a moment to explain why it’s a great sport.

Most people I've spoken to think of hockey as nothing more than a bunch of mindless brutes beating the crap out of each other with sticks. Plus it's from Canada, so how good can it possibly be? I used to think that, too, until I actually sat down and watched an entire hockey game. I never completely understood what was going on in hockey, but one night I was flipping through channels and noticed a game was just starting and decided I would finally figure it out and give it a chance. It was a playoff game between the Colorado Avalanche and the L.A. Kings that went scoreless until at least double overtime, maybe even triple. Final score was 1-0. I sat spellbound through the whole thing and have been hooked ever since.

Ray Bourque and Patrick Roy: their playoff journey got me hooked.

I have always loved football since I was little, but there's something about hockey that is compelling to me like no other sport is. Hockey is the only non-PC sport left. Hockey is a paradox. Hockey is war, but there are rules. It is brutal and violent, but not complete anarchy. You are allowed to get into fist fights during a game, but there is still a code of conduct for that. Even though you must be tough and ruthless to compete, you also need a graceful skill: ice skating. You might need a couple of bruisers on your team, but you also must have those with the ability to skate well, control the puck, and accurately shoot it at the net. If you've never seen a deflection goal before, do yourself a favor and watch the clip below. Make sure you pay attention during the replay or you’ll miss it:

That is practically art. The player making the slapshot has to have enough power to speed the puck toward the net but also has to keep it on goal so the goalie will bite as to where he thinks it's going. At the same time, there must be teamwork and timing to pull this off because the shooter's teammate must be in position to make the deflection, which he does by finding the puck in the middle of the shot and changing the trajectory. This has to be done just right or the deflecting player will stop the puck, make it miss the net, or slow it down too much so the goalie can reverse himself and make a save. When it works, the goalie ends up rushing to fill a space where no puck will come because it is entering the net in the area he just left undefended. It is a thing of beauty.

Hockey has a lot of other unique things going for it. The NHL postseason is not merely a tournament; it is a saga. It is long, grueling, and wonderful. The Stanley Cup is my favorite of all championship trophies, and the ceremony where it is awarded is the best in sports. Nothing beats the look on a 20-year veteran’s face when he wins his first championship, takes the Cup in his hands and skates around the ice. Nothing. The team picture with everyone surrounding the Cup before leaving the ice is also classic. There’s the tradition where each player gets to spend a day with the Cup in the offseason, or the fact that you have to defend the Cup because there is only one; you don’t get a replica that stays in your trophy case forever. And no matter how bloody a series may get or how much the teams may hate each other, there is the tradition of the mass handshake at the end of a series where every player lines up and shakes hands. That is especially awesome to watch when there are two great goalies who have been dueling the whole series.

Another thing about hockey is that it has a smaller following than the “big three” other sports, and I think that actually helps. The PC-ridden big networks are too busy fighting over everything else. The NHL has been televised on Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network) since their lockout season a few years ago. That may sound laughable, but I prefer the Versus game and studio crews to any other professional sports crew. They want to be there and they want to talk about hockey because they love the sport. You can tell that the game announcers and studio crew are enjoying everything just as much as you are. More importantly, they know what they're talking about. It's the only sport on TV where the announcers probably know more than you do and don't sound like idiots. It's so refreshing. The only exception is when NBC televises a game. They have to be the worst network for sports as they have an ability to turn almost anything sour, but at least they don't throw Keith Olbermann into the mix. Versus also airs the best playoff promos I’ve ever seen. No Gatorade or Nike promotions, no inane hip-hop or trendy chart-topping song blaring at you, no epilepsy-inducing graphics, just goosebumps. Turn your speakers up:

Which brings me to my favorite thing about hockey: the goals. A playoff hockey goal is the most exciting scoring play in sports except for, perhaps, a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, two strikes, and the home team down by three. In hockey, the fans are right there, surrounding the action. The playoff atmosphere can't be matched; it's electric. Every goal matters. The reason hockey goals are so great is because, just like the commercial above says, it only takes one second. If you blink, you’ll miss the whole thing. Once a shot is taken, there is that split second where you wonder, "did it go in?" and the next thing you know the red lamp is on, the buzzers and sirens are going off, and the crowd is going crazy. A game winning goal in overtime is all of that on steroids.

I'm a Washington Capitals fan, and I feel very fortunate right now because Alexander Ovechkin is on the team. He is something special. He is wild, he is fearless, he wants to carry the whole team on his shoulders, yet he celebrates just as much when one of his teammates scores a goal and he's on the bench. Fans on other teams hate him because they fear him. He is capable of turning a game or a series around all by himself. The NHL tried to make his nemesis, Sidney Crosby, the face of the league but fans outside of Pittsburgh respond much better to Ovechkin even though he's Russian and doesn't speak the best English. Take a look at the clip below and see if you can understand why (keep your speakers turned up for the full effect):

If you can, look at his face on the replay right after he gets up and realizes his wild shot went in. This kid simply loves to play hockey.

Goals work in reverse, too. Watch this game-winning overtime goal in Pittsburgh (start at 0:40) and listen to the energy in the crowd building up to the face-off while the announcers are talking and then hear it fall off a cliff:

This was game six and the Caps were on the ropes. This was a very intense series and every Pittsburgh fan knew they were going to win that night and wouldn’t have to go back to DC for game seven. Dave Steckel had other ideas. You can almost feel the life sucked out of the entire arena and hear every Pittsburgh fan thinking, "That went in??" You know the goalie was definitely thinking that as he bangs his stick against the boards and storms off the ice. It was a harmless, weak shot, but it went in and it won the game. Look at the Washington coach's elation on the bench before he composed himself. Look at Steckel jumping up and down while getting mobbed by the entire team. Look at the handful of Caps fans cheering while the mob of sickened Pens fans files out in silence. Those moments are why I watch sports in the first place and I don't see them around so often any more. Of course, the Pens obliterated the Caps in game seven, but other than that it was a fantastic series.

Why am I writing this out of season? When college and NFL season start back up, I know I will follow along because I am still fond of football, but my heart is not in it like it used to be. Even though college starts next week, I find myself wishing that the NHL playoffs were about to start instead. I still get pained watching some of the clips I’ve posted here because even though they are great, they remind me how the playoffs ended for the Caps. I don’t dwell on football games like that anymore. I know none of this matters in the grand scheme of things, but everybody needs a few distractions. I have a few TV shows I watch, movies are nice, but none of them can hold a candle to hockey. I hope the NHL can buck the trend that other professional sports have set and I can share the sport with my boys as they get older. I imagine that sooner or later the same destructive forces that are working their way through the other big sports will turn their attention to hockey. I just hope it doesn’t happen any time soon.

And if you watch no other clip, watch the one below. It's a hat trick goal (3rd goal in one game) during game two with the Pens not long after a very nerve-wracking seven game series with the Rangers. Watch how Ovechkin throws himself into the boards afterward, and not in a Chad Ochocinco TD antics way, but in joint celebration with the fans who are banging on the boards at the same time. If that doesn't get your blood pumping, nothing will (assuming you aren't a Pens fan). Again, make sure your speakers are up good and loud:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Is Not Bosnia.

This is not Pripyat.

This is not a "black thing" or a "white thing." This is not a "rich thing" or "poor thing."

This is a pride thing. A damning illustration of what happens in its absence.

This is not the federal government's fault. This is not the state government's fault.

This, Detroit, is your fault.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm not in a good mood.

I've been trying to craft a few different posts to share here, but I find myself either getting into intellectual fisticuffs over Cat People or family obligations happen and I haven't quite been able to polish them up. Excuses aside, I did want to share this post.
Three of the top lay Catholic organizations have divorced themselves from Catholic teaching by supporting the Obama health-care plan, which would foster a culture of mandatory abortion coverage, contraceptive services, and permissive sex education, euthanasia and eugenics.
I think I've mentioned that I am a Catholic. I'm here to tell you that some days it feels like it's wearing thin. I was at mass for Ash Wednesday a few months ago, and as I looked around the church I couldn't help but think, "What are we all doing here?" Not that I think worship is a waste of time, but more specifically I wanted to know what was going through everyone's head in that building. What do we, as Catholics consider our mission? When I read things like the link above, I have no idea. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I could go on at length, as some of you probably know, but I've got to wrap this up before I get in trouble for neglecting Mrs. Eduardo. I am sick and tired of these social gospel-infected, liberal Catholics. Jesus is not a communist. Why are John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi still receiving Communion, especially when Pelosi is either ignorant or lies about what the Church says regarding when life begins? Why does one of my local priests, from Europe, find a way to twist the weekly Gospel reading into some sort of anti-American guilt vehicle? Why did the bishop of my diocese write a special, fawning letter congratulating Obama on getting elected?

The United States is, quite possibly, the pinnacle of human achievement. It's not perfect, but nothing in this world is. Man was meant to live with individual freedom, liberty and responsibility. Man was meant to fight to survive in this world; to defend himself and his family. Man was meant to be able to get into his pickup truck and drive across the country any time he damn well pleases and not have to pay $4.00/gallon to do it. Americans are not supposed to sit around, wracked with guilt until the day they die. I have the opportunities I have today because my ancestors were brave enough to come here and start a new life, not because George Washington or the CIA stole it from somebody else.

There is a quote from 1984 where Winston muses to himself that somehow one felt that they were being cheated out of life in his world. That's what they want for us. Everybody equal in misery: nobody above anybody else (except them, who are above us all). I've had to start fresh on my own three times in my three decades of life and each time has been at once both terrifying and exhilarating. Each time has reminded me of what true freedom is: shaping my own destiny for better or worse. I love where I am right now and it enrages me to think that it might end due to the actions of politicians in Washington who created this mess in the first place. There is nowhere else left to go in the world that can give us what we have here. This is the hill we die on. If we can't make things work here, then humanity will go back to being serf-like robots, either through Islam or socialism.

So help me God, the next mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy, progressive priest that tries to tell my wife and me that we need to feel guilty for working 40 hour weeks while trying to raise our kids because Pedro Pablo the illegal alien has a miserable life despite his free medical care and the state's reluctance to keep him in jail despite his 15 DUI arrests...that priest is going to get an earful from me right in the middle of his homily. I'm gonna get downright Old Testament on his ass, Nathan style. I only hope that moment doesn't come at my child's upcoming baptism ceremony. That will be awkward.

I'm angry right now; seething. That's all for the moment.

*Note to any horrified liberal readers: by "Old Testament" I don't mean carrying guns to mass or murdering anybody's family. I only mean standing up and speaking very, very loud and indignantly.*

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something for you to chew on

Here's a blog that linked to an old post from Over There in reference to Protein Wisdom:

Apparently, PW got into a huge pissing contest with Patterico, who also got tangled up Over There a while back:

Teh Squeaky Wheel doesn't seem to provide a link to the PW/Patterico fight, but I was struck by the comments I read here at the post linked by TSW, many of them by you:

It reminded me of something I've been thinking about a lot as I've followed the health care debate, which is this: The hardest thing in the world is to prove the dead obvious.

Water is wet, women are different from men, and the government can't run anything efficiently. The only thing it's any good at is what can't be done by any other kind of organization -- e.g., build an overwhelming military. Very few things fall into this special category.

That's what's so infuriating about ALL the conservative pundit debates on healthcare. It's all about finding some way -- simple, sophisticated, clever, logical, legal, economic, etc -- to prove what should need no proof: if the government takes over health care completely, many many more people will die younger than they need to or should.

And once you've said that, what more CAN you really say? Can any of you prove that water is wet? If you have to prove it, haven't you defeated yourself in advance by even attempting it?

But what do you do instead, if anything?

Fair Warning. Good responses here just might get reproduced Over There. But don't let that inhibit you. If you don't want to be quoted, just say so here and you won't be.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

For the Dogs

The subject of dogs and a convicted dog-killer set off a firestorm over there, with lots of differing opinions and plenty of anger. LocoPunk, TruePunk, Instapunk, and Country Punk all wrote in -- no points for guessing where they came down. But with the 'best commenters on the internet' seeming to have some conflicting points of view, the topic is prime for battle on the Kort. So:

Where do you come down on the Vick situation? Did he pay his dues? Should he play? Should he still be in jail? Does he deserve to live?

Much was said about some Ethics 101 ridiculous hypothetical situations: how much more valuable is the life of a dog than the life of a human? A human child? A hundred dogs vs. a rapist? Is this type of debate even worth having? Why or why not?

Some cultures kill and eat dogs for food. Is our culture morally superior to theirs? If a culture had pigs purely as companions and did not kill or eat them, would they be morally superior to us? (Eduardo, Apotheosis, you're expected to weigh in on this one given your recent discussion about the genesis of morality).

What is it that makes dogs different from all the other species? Feel free to make it personal...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A "Mission" and "Rules" Question

The Big Guy from Over There has asked me to convey a question to you all. What if he's so impressed by certain posts and/or comments that he conceives a desire to cite excerpts, short or extended, with all due recognition?

Should this be permitted? If so, does it require permissions by comment or email request?

He is adamant that this is up to you. You're all much better at this writing business than you think you are, but the very last thing he wants -- he stresses this -- is for you to feel him looking over your shoulder or breathing down your necks.

So maybe you should talk about what you want. He'll abide by any rules you set. (Yeah, he will. He's a bastard about a lot of things, but he does have a code.)

Not meaning to interrupt your ongoing discussions... No hurry.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why I'm a Rationalist.

Because currently, it makes sense to me.

Agnosticism has been described here and elsewhere as "fence-sitting," and as charges go, it's difficult to refute. Human beings are social creatures, and part of a society is identifying oneself with a group; refusal to identify with one quantifiable group is seen in turns as lazy or stubborn or as part of some contrived iconoclasm.

Doubtless this is true for some agnostics. In a world where "atheist" is getting to be commonplace, agnostic sets you apart. You're different. Neither Bible-thumper nor a mascara-wearing Hot Topic tragedy, you're your own creature entirely! And you don't even have to think about it to join the club, all you have to say is you don't know and shrug it off. No difficult questions, no entrance exam, no obligation beyond the statement of your own indifference.

Except there is.

Is a person Christian just because they claim to believe in Jesus, whether they walk the Carpenter's footsteps? How do they know? Are they atheists if they say they believe in nothing but the tangible, though they've never found themselves in fear for their lives and suddenly comforted by the power of a prayer? Does belief - even a belief in nothing - mean anything deeper than a social label, if it's never challenged?

And so we come to the Metalkort, arena of ideals.

There is a tangible universe around us. We have senses (designed/evolved) to accept input from this world, and a brain (designed/evolved) to interpret that input. That this universe exists and that we exist within it is taken for granted, drug-fueled speculation regarding consensus hallucinations notwithstanding.

Within this tangible universe, there exist a great many schools of thought regarding its origins. Some insist to a greater or lesser degree that with enough effort, everything can be broken down into human-scale understanding, quantified mathematically, and rendered explicable. Many (if not most) of the other schools attribute our existence to the will of a being largely or completely beyond our comprehension, whose motives are open to broad speculation and whose methods are, in essence, forever denied to us by the insurmountable difference in the nature of our being. There's god, and there's man.

Here's the rub: I would like to embrace the wholly-scientific view of the universe. Yes, it lacks comfort in the promise of a personal eternity, but on the other hand I like the idea that mankind might eventually understand everything. I look back at what we've achieved technically in my own flyspeck lifespan, and project that forward across geologic time, and on the whole I'm very rah-rah about our species. We can do anything...assuming that "anything" is within our grasp, which presupposes a rational, human-scalable, understandable universe.

I would like to, but I can't entirely, because I've caught myself more than once hoping there's a God. I caught myself praying when I was riding out a tornado under a cabin in the middle of the woods. I wished there was a hell awaiting the 9/11 hijackers. I've shed tears at the searing blast of the crescendo of Handel's Messiah. None of these thoughts or actions can be comfortably stuffed into a rational cubbyhole, because despite all logic there's a part of me that fervently wants to accept there's something else.

So here I remain, on the fence. Torn between a desire for a scientifically-explicable universe and a fantastic unknowable; two belief systems which seem irreconcilable, each with its own compelling draw.


Monday, August 3, 2009

First Thing's First...

Before I delve into deeper subject matter, I have a burning issue that I need the newly formed Metalkort community to address. As IP said: I want people to talk back.

Here's the deal: I was sent a list of impacts that the first half of the health care bill will cause via email by a friend of a coworker. This friend is a lawyer who is reading through the bill themselves and making notes as they go. I have spot checked several of the items and they appear to be accurate. The author is still reading through the second half.

So what? Well, health care and cap & trade are the two issues I am most passionate about right now because I believe they have the potential to do the most damage the most quickly to America. I've seen and read many lengthy essays both for and against socialized medicine and also those that argue this bill will not create government run health care. I think this list could be a valuable tool if it could be fact-checked and spread around for people to use when they call their congressmen or go to a town hall meeting or even when they talk with their friends.

I've noticed that in many of these video clips floating around that people are putting the heat on their reps and people in the crowd are cheering them on, but many of their questions and statements seem largely rhetorical. I think if people had specifics to talk about and could back them up with a referenced page number, even be able to read directly from the bill itself, that would put a lot more heat on the politicians than just being angry. Also, even people who support this bill because they would be willing to pay higher taxes if it means utopian care for all may change their mind if they finally get it through their head that there will still be a lot of people left out in the cold under Obamacare.

What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree? Could it be worthwhile? If so, I would need help both with the fact checking and spreading a final product. On the other hand, is it a waste of time? Is there something I'm missing? Has someone already done something like this? Again, I know there are a wealth of great resources out there that people can read on their own, but this is down & dirty, easy to read fast and easy to reference. If there's interest I will update this with the list as well as a link to the bill. If not, I promise I will never bring this up again and we'll talk of other things. Let me know one way or the other so we can either work together on it or I can finally drop this and put my energies into something more working on a post for the Sci-Fi Underground.

Start Big, Start with Everything

The Hubble Deep Field: Look it up. How many galaxies can you count? And here we are, alone, looking.

Welcome to the Metalkort... but you may not be welcome for long, not unless you're willing to fight for your spot.

I wanted to start big, to let us know who we're dealing with. Got the balls to weigh in? Hope so, because tumbleweeds won't roll through this Kort.

The Universe. We live in it. Something exists, and something is greater than nothing.

To the materialists, non-believers, hardcore atheists, and cold reasoners: Why? Doesn't it seem like there's more to it than just these atoms? How do you purport that your life has meaning? You make your own meaning? How so?

How do you explain the existence of life in a Universe that seems decidedly unfriendly to life? The Anthropic Principle, we know, we know. You'd better explain it more convincingly than that, and if you invoke the existence of parallel worlds in an undetectable Multiverse, you'd better explain why you believe in that and not a Creator.
To the theists, believers, Christians, and mystics: Why would God decide to hide himself so thoroughly? What single piece of evidence or massive life event led to your rock-solid belief in the face of all your senses tell you? And if God is so loving, why all the suffering? You'd better explain, especially since you or someone you know has had someone close die of cancer.

On top of that, how does it feel to continually have your 'God made it' explanations continually be supplanted by the discoveries of scientists? Ever feel like your God is the god of the gaps, the small God who lives inside the Planck length or hovers just before the Big Bang? Are you really so confident that we won't figure it all out? I mean, come on, we've only been at this science game for 400 years and look what we've figured out. Where will we be in 10,000 years?

To the agnostics, the ones who've decided that we don't know and we might never know: Pick a side or GTFO.

Seriously, you're really going to be laying on your death bed with the old 'wait and see' approach? How can that possibly make your life feel meaningful? Sure, we're asking big questions here, but you decided to stop at 'don't know, wait and see?' The Metalkort is about thought, and if you're taking the easy ticket to the happy land of non-thinking, then keep on trucking. Or tell me I've got it all wrong, and tell me why.

What about me, then? I'm not letting myself off the hook. I'm a theist, a Christian, a believer in a Creator and the meaning of life and a Story. I study science, and all I see in the natural world is evidence. The only thing my atheist peers and friends see is natural processes and a human race that got incredibly lucky.

But I don't need the natural world. Descartes laid down the facts: I think, therefore I am. Well, I think, and therefore I believe. Both sides need to grapple with the existence of consciousness, so let's get this Tork started.

Post your answers: personal, direct, and simple. We know all the tricks of argument and rhetoric, and St. Nuke won't let you try to fleece the crowd. Use the comments section for thrusts and parries, but if you have something substantial to say, you'd better contact Insect Brain with your desire and willingness to post.

En garde.

Oh, and to the lurkers, the trolls, the casual readers who read these words and move on, only to return and hang in the shadows? We see you, and you'd better join the fray. Or else.

It's easy. Come on in.

Our first poster is already signed up. He told us his new name but he didn't have to. All we wanted was verification that he was a regular Over There. He provided it. Done. Now we're just waiting for his first post. Personally, I can't wait. Never did like the demortals. Let'em have it, that's my motto.

Let the Torks Begin

The old gaffers over at Gobb's House of Ancient Punks are still mired in a few annoying computer problems that will be remedied shortly. I'm sure you've seen the site that's being set up for all the folks who can't get enough technology in their lit and movie preferences. This site is different, though.

It's for the rest of you (and for them as well, when they're not nerding and transformerating around). You can sound off here about anything and everything, personal, political, cultural, profound or comical. Every veteran commenter from Over There can be an authorized poster here. All you have to do is send a gmail address to Metalkort (at) gmail,com, (include your existing commenter monicker for ID purposes) and I will send you an official "Blogger Invite" to become a poster. Anyone who doesn't want to be a poster can still comment, obviously, along with the rest of the world.

The Rules of Engagement here are very simple: Remember that everyone you're talking to or responding to is a human being, not a set of dismissible labels. No one's getting thrown out for an occasional profane outburst, but context matters.

The ambitious essay stuff will remain where it is for the most part, and you're still encouraged to have at it over there as well. But the point about a so-called 'Intimidation Factor' has been fully understood and assimilated. There will be none of that here. No pontificating about grammar, spelling, cogency, and the mechanics of rhetoric and argumentation. That's a solemn promise from the withered elders. When they come here, they come as ordinary band members to the Debate in the Blade, and even if St. Nuke himself chooses to participate, he will be as humble as an ant. My suspicion, though, is that he will be listening and learning from what you have to say, what you care about, what you value, and what you simply enjoy.

None of this means that what happens in the Blade has to be lowbrow or lacking an edge. This is the Metalkort, after all. Bring it ALL here. St. Nuke may rule in the Bitterbox, but in the Blade the voice of every man and woman may be heard, and conquer, based on the heart behind it.

And since this all belongs really to you, feel free to wax didactic about any ideas or rules you think should govern what goes on here, In the Metalkort. It's all, absolutely, completely, and finally, up to you.

Who am I, you ask? The lowest of the low from the original South Street scene. I'm here to play with you because I get sick of the demortals too, and it's just possible I might be able to answer questions, even personal ones, you wouldn't want to pose Over There.