Archive for December, 2009

Knighting nonsense

I love Captain Jean-Luc Picard as much as the next guy, and so I hate to say this — but unfortunately this latest New Year’s knighting serves to illustrate a disturbing point.

He has played kings, princes, captains and professors on stage and screen, but now actor Patrick Stewart will have a new title all his own: “Sir.”

The 69-year-old Yorkshire, England, native tops the list of those receiving New Year’s honors from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the Cabinet Office announced Thursday.

Knights used actually to wield swords and kill people. They would enforce laws and defend against enemies. They were WARRIORS. But this knighting business has become just a hollow honor. I would like to know what point there is in knighting people who cannot fight now and who never have fought. It means absolutely nothing. It merely gives certain people a cool title because the Queen thinks they are special.

Granted, Captain Picard is special. But there are lots of other, non-famous people who are special, too! Suddenly I become proud to live in a country governed by the following words found in Article I of the Constitution:

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.

No State shall . . . grant any Title of Nobility.

Ultimately, I think a society manifests its wussiness by bestowing such hollow honors. You can see this trend, for example when weak men strive to become senators solely for the glory of it. A senator wields only one vote out of a hundred — and even then the spineless men usually fail to stand up for their own principles — but people spend great lengths of their lives pursuing the position merely because it gives them an honor. These men are soulless.

In the end, femininity is all about form over substance. Form is important if you are a woman trying to look beautiful, but some matters require substance as well.

Others on the list include designers, restaurateurs and two famous names from Formula 1 racing.

For crying out loud, is this what things have come down to? No wonder George Washington whooped these people’s tails.

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Just stop!

I once met a man at a gun store who proposed that Congress should just stop assembling. Every day Congress continues working, it just seems to make things worse. This idea of limiting congressional sessions struck me as incredibly wise. In Tennessee, the General Assembly is a “citizen legislature” based on this idea. It only meets for part of the year. In some states, I have heard that their legislatures only meet every other year. We should make Congress that way. As Mark Levin has said, every day Congress meets, you lose a little more of your liberty.

In the eighteenth century, a few world leaders arose who came to be known as “Enlightened Monarchs.” These leaders strove to govern their countries virtuously, rationally, and in ways that allowed for greater freedom than generally found in more traditional despotisms. Democratic-leaning philosophers tended to embrace and praise these leaders, and these wise leaders tended to embrace democratic ideals.

Unfortunately, whereas we may occasionally find a single virtuous ruler come to power, the law of large numbers predicts that we will never, ever, in a million years see an Enlightened Conress. The odds of one virtuous individual are small enough. The odds of 535 righteous rulers at once are about the same probability as humans evolving from apes.

Of course, I am absolutely not suggesting that we re-establish a monarchy. What I am saying is that we should curtail the powers held by our current leaders. We should not treat them as monarchs because mathematically, they are certain to act (at best) as mediocre monarchs. For example, the congressmen are mostly dimwits at present. There is zero chance that the Congress will ever become “enlightened.”

And then as this mediocrity piles upon mediocrity over the years, the U.S. Code lengthens, the bureaucracy and welfare states expand, and the Constitution shrinks.

People whine too much about insurance

Frequently, emotional individuals will whine about how insurance companies often refuse to cover “pre-existing conditions.” I noticed, for example, that they even made this jab against the insurance companies in the latest Saw movie. I personally have always detested this type of whining.

Will people ever stop a moment to think about these matters logically? Buying health insurance is a gamble. The customer gambles that he will get sick, and the company gambles that the customer will stay healthy. If the customer gets sick, he wins and the company loses. But now we have the socialists who want companies to pay for people with pre-existing conditions — i.e., people who are already sick!

Ann Coulter made an interesting point today about the new socialized medicine bill being passed by the Senate. Since the bill forces the insurance company to cover pre-existing conditions, she asked, why not just hold off buying insurance until you get sick? You may as well wait until you get hit by a bus, and then buy some “insurance” to get the company to pay for it.

(Of course, common sense would dictate that such “insurance” would simply cost the same as paying out-of-pocket expenses. But Democrats will not allow such market interactions or common sense.)

But oh yeah, I forgot:  Under the new bill, the government will fine you and put you in jail if you fail to buy insurance. Welcome to the land of the free and home of the brave!

I knew it!

Recently from the UK Register,

A boffin [researcher] at the Bulgarian national Space Research Institute has stated that not only are aliens living among us, but that they object strongly to “immoral behaviour” by humanity — such as causing global warming. 

Obviously they would object to such grossly immoral behavior. After all, these beings exist on such a higher plane than us — and also, they aren’t human so they don’t have to CARE about human lives!

Luchezar Filipov, deputy head of the space institute at the government’s Bulgarian Academy of Science, made these startling assertions to Bulgarian media earlier this week.The Sofia Echo . . . quotes the eminent space brainbox as stating that “they [aliens] are here right now, among us” and that the extraterrestrials are “conducting surveillance” and — chillingly — “research” on humanity.

Yeah, research about how to DESTROY us, I’ll bet! And to destroy us, I bet they’ve learned that they can utilize strategies taxing carbon dioxide — a gas that both human respiratory systems and human machines emit through the burning of dead organisms for energy.

“The aliens are very critical of our immoral behaviour and our destruction of the environment,” says Filipov . . . .

Haha, I’ll bet they are. I heard about this article on Coast to Coast A.M. But remember folks, you heard the story here first on the DREW BLOG!

Of course, who needs aliens when you’ve got humans — e.g., The Financial Post of Canada — promoting the same human-destroying agenda?

A planetary law, such as China’s one-child policy, is the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate currently, which is one million births every four days. . . . Ironically, China, despite its dirty coal plants, is the world’s leader in terms of fashioning policy to combat environmental degradation, thanks to its one-child-only edict. . . . China has proven that birth restriction is smart policy. Its middle class grows, all its citizens have housing, health care, education and food, and the one out of five human beings who live there are not overpopulating the planet. . . . The only fix is if all countries drastically reduce their populations, clean up their messes and impose mandatory conservation measures. (H/T Kini)

Of course, they recognize that traditional morality finds their new religion abhorrent. These enlightened individuals just don’t care. And regarding global warming and population control, China’s government publication even more explicitly links these matters (H/T Kini):

Many studies link population growth with emissions and the effect of climate change.

Hey wait a minute, I’m pretty sure I even got the lead on that China story, too!

Love for sale

There’s this real jackass in Knoxville who stars in his own radio commercials. He runs a jewelry store. I don’t care to mention his name or the name of his store. The basic gist of almost every commercial is, “Buy your woman some jewelry, like she deserves — so she will continue loving you.” Granted, most jewelry commercials convey about that same message, but this guy’s commercials stand out because he goes to special effort to make a fool out of himself. His tone of voice and his overall feminine persona dramatically help him in accomplishing this goal.

What kind of sick society do we live in where men have an obligation to buy their wives numerous glitsy rocks in order to receive love?

Of course, part of me wonders whether doing nice things like purchasing jewelry might be a wise move to reward a wife who has already demonstrated her devotion. That is, it might be smart to purchase jewelry as a non-obligatory reward. This situation seems grayer, and harder to argue against one way or the other. For example, many wives in the United States are unfaithful one way or another (Consider the divorce rate and the fact that women initiate about two thirds of these divorces).  If you have an exceptional wife who is loyal and ethical in such a perverse, promiscuous, and man-hating culture, it seems like such a situation might warrant some special honor for her virtue.

Nonetheless, the critique against this idea would point out that wives should be devoted regardless of gifts. And as we learned in my behavioral economics class (see previous post), giving rewards can easily halt the happiness derived from performing an act. A lawyer may easily work many hours free for a pro bono case but quickly reject the idea of taking a charitable case that pays a small fee. If you start paying your wife to be loyal to you, that might actually start doing the opposite of what the commercials promise!

Like I said, it’s a close call in these rare cases. The diminishing incentive described above does apply mainly to monetary rewards, for example. Gifts, particularly sentimental ones, tend not to create such a great disincentivizing effect. While the idea seems risky, it should not be entirely discounted.

But while a non-obligatory reward might be theoretically permissable, such a reward must ultimately remain non-obligatory! If your wife starts thinking, I will only love him as long as he continues “rewarding” me with diamonds, then CONGRATULATIONS:  You’ve created a monster! So in the end, it seems to me like a risky move.

Of course, these idiotic commercials attempt to convey the message that these gifts are obligatory. So you already know they’re straight from the devil.

Spend money on the girl, and according to the commercials, she will make you happy. In the end, this message sounds a lot like advertising for prostitution. That applies to the national jewelry companies as well (Why the hell should every kiss begin with Kay?).  I don’t understand how anyone, woman or otherwise, could consider these commercials (or the gifts resulting from them) to be romantic in the slightest.

Thank goodness I’ve finally gotten out of town — so I won’t have to hear this local chump keep going on through Christmas with his self-made commercials.

Government — the cure for all ills

This past semester I have been taking a class about Behavioral Economics and the Law. I signed up for the class thinking I could utilize my economics background. It turns out, however, that behavioral economics is basically the opposite of regular economics. Behavioral economics is all about poking holes in capitalism by showing that humans frequently act irrationally. After all, if humans do not act rationally, then markets generally fail to function properly.

At first, pointing out the specific circumstances where humans frequently act silly and irrational might seem like fun. Sometimes it is. Nonetheless, our teacher leaned a bit to the left, and after almost every new psychological phenomenon, he would ask the class about the “policy implications” of each reading. By “policy implications,” he generally meant, “What should the government do to intervene in the market to account for this irrational phenomenon?” I usually would argue that the only implication is that individuals should understand the psychology involved, and take it into account during their personal and financial lives (and that they might also spread this wisdom to their friends).

Rather tragically, leftists can never explain a phenomenon without designing a coercive answer to respond to it. Leftists cannot deal with imperfection. They are obsessive in this regard. Moreover, leftists generally believe that they personally — or else the government in general — can create perfection.

You may wonder, “But Drew, What about the Leftist tolerance for promiscuity, rampant divorce, abortion, broken homes, drug use, and other sorts of social ills? Obviously they can accept these imperfections!” But of course, this objection omits the obvious: Leftists do not actually condemn any of these behaviors. To the contrary, leftists go out of their way to avoid condemning these moral failures.

Even when statistics show the destruction resulting from immorality, leftists refuse to acknowledge these behaviors as flawed. If you criticize a girl for being promiscuous or getting an abortion, for example, you are sexist and judgmental.

One reason the leftist ignores these immoralities is that if he accepted these behaviors as imperfect, he would feel compelled to cure society of them. And deep down, leftists realize that a purely governmental (as opposed to social or spiritual) cure of these ills would be impossible. Thus, declaring everything moral — except the failure to worship government — seems easier.

Even with economic topics, leftists do not generally condemn behavior as immoral. Rather, the only immorality results from failure to submit to government. Hence, Wall Street businessmen are “greedy” because they want to avoid paying high taxes to support welfare programs. No action makes them greedy, but rather their attitude makes them greedy. They simply fail to submit properly to government in their hearts. This attitude violates the Left’s primary commandment.

Ultimately, I do think just admitting that humans are somewhat irrational is best. Admitting the problem, after all, is the first step toward self-help. And then after that admission, rather than seeking a coercive remedy through government for our mental imperfection, we can strive to enhance our rationality ourselves. Or better yet, we could work on ourselves while also appealing to God to enhance our rationality and economic wisdom. It would certainly be a better idea than appealing to the United States government!

Overconvolution

The Fall 2009 semester is almost over for me, and the time has now come for my nearly-finished-with-exams post. Thank goodness things have mostly wound down. Sometimes I feel like I am killing myself each time I forego sleep to finish a paper or study for an exam. The human brain can only handle so much tension.

By the way, is it just me, or is the internet getting slower? I used to hear the doomsayers talk about such a possibility in the past, and I assumed they were hyping yet another silly nonexistent problem. They would state that the physical infrastructure of the internet (I guess meaning wires and stuff) could not handle the rapidly increasing amount of data conveyed. They were referring to the higher number of pictures, video files, audio files, and web sites cropping up each day.

And while I certainly do not believe the government has any role in solving this problem, as some alarmists mentioned, the internet does seem to be slower. Navigating to my facebook profile, for example, sometimes takes about nine seconds. Wikipedia often seems even worse. The problem seems to oscillate over time, such that certain websites (and blogs) get really slow at some points but later run rather fast. Also, Google always seems to run quickly, faster than more complicated websites like Yahoo. Youtube used to run efficiently, but many of their videos now download incredibly slowly.

I have performed a bandwidth test and my connnection seemed fine. At least, the rate of data conveyance was fine. I think the problem may not be the rate but rather the quantity.

Like computers in general, the internet becomes increasingly complicated. The average computer today probably has maybe a 1.5 gHz processor and about 2.5 GB of RAM. Just imagine how brilliantly fast a computer could have run with those capabilities about fifteen years ago. Likewise, websites nowadays feel the need to cram more and more information and graphics per pixel. (A while back, I described part of this phenomenon somewhat jokingly.) High-speed internet used to give you high speed. Now, it just gives you mediocre speed…but lots more stuff.

It seems like this overcomplication represents an overall human tendency. Even when life is essentially good the way it is, people fail to utilize technological improvements merely to enhance basic comfort (i.e., speed), but would instead rather make everything exotic and overly complex. For example, people who obtain money frequently feel the need to adopt expensive new habits that ultimately make their lives even more stressful. (And do not even get me started on the convolution — rather than enhanced precision — of government!) Regarding computers, society certainly gets what it asks for in the end. But in my mind, society is asking for some of the wrong things.


ANALYSIS
YOU WON'T
FIND ANYWHERE ELSE

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