Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
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    Wednesday, June 30, 2004


    To the moon, Alice!

    No, it's not another post about SpaceShipOne and my love of Burt Rutan (he's so dreamy...).

    This one's about interest rates. The free ride is over, folks! If you didn't refinance your home, you missed the boat! It's gone! Kaput! Stick a fork in it, 'cuz it's done!

    If you are not on your way out of debt, if you have not decided to stop borrowing, if you are still doing the paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, NOW is the time to stop. Go to Dave Ramsey's website, buy his book, and get on track. The financial health of individual Americans is even worse than their physical health. Get on board the cash train! Debt is dumb! Cash is King! If you have a car loan, a student loan, a personal loan, or a credit card balance, you are in the middle of an EMERGENCY. Get it fixed, and do it quick. You're swimming in the ocean and there's a shark biting at your butt. I don't know how else to say it. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE TOAST BURNING!

    Posted by Tom, 6/30/2004 5:49:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Self-Inflicted Wounds

    Here's one on how the supporters of Campaign Finance "Reform" have shot themselves in the foot. Too bad they managed to hit the rest of us as well.

    Posted by Tom, 6/30/2004 5:44:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Moore blasted by fellow leftist?

    Here's a Slate writer (not known for their love of conservatives) taking Moore to task over his latest effort. I love how he points out immediately what's wrong with leftism:

    One of the many problems with the American left, and indeed of the American left, has been its image and self-image as something rather too solemn, mirthless, herbivorous, dull, monochrome, righteous, and boring. How many times, in my old days at The Nation magazine, did I hear wistful and semienvious ruminations? Where was the radical Firing Line show? Who will be our Rush Limbaugh? I used privately to hope that the emphasis, if the comrades ever got around to it, would be on the first of those and not the second.

    So it turns out that leftism just isn't any fun. But rather than look for something a little more joyful, he just wants to make leftism more fun. Personally, I think he's going to have an uphill battle on his hands. There is nothing fun about telling people they suck all the time, and that largely seems to be what leftism, or more accurately, moralism (left or right) is all about. The people he's griping about are the Jerry Falwells of the left. They're grumpy and cranky because they're not having any fun, and they want others to not have fun either because it assuages their own guilt.

    Posted by Tom, 6/30/2004 5:30:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Shots of the Launch

    This is a little late, but here are some great shots of the SpaceShipOne flight.

    Posted by Tom, 6/30/2004 5:28:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, June 28, 2004


    Apologies

    I've been on vacation for a week, and am currently in San Francisco for the Apple WorldWide Developer's Conference. There's not a lot of time to blog at the moment, but I should be able to post a few things later on.

    Posted by Tom, 6/28/2004 11:08:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, June 18, 2004


    UK Getting Nuttier

    More proof that the UK is outlawing the right to self defense. Here's a guy being stabbed and beaten, grabs the nearest weapon and fights back, then gets charged for it. So much for the rights of Englishmen.

    Posted by Tom, 6/18/2004 6:45:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    NASA Says Something Intelligent

    PRIVATIZE! It's about time. Here's how to do it one better: take a big bag of money (say, 75%) out of your annual operating budget and give it to Burt Rutan. He'll figure out what to do with it.

    Posted by Tom, 6/18/2004 6:43:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Quit Whining About Winer

    I can't believe this crap made Yahoo's front page. Look people: the guy was generous enough to let you use his property. You took advantage of his generosity, but in no way did you ever lay claim to his property rights. He's perfectly within his rights to just delete all your data rather than allow you to get it off his server. This is why welfare is a bad idea; people get used to the handout and come to believe that they somehow have a right to receive it. No, you have the same rights everyone else does: work, or do without.

    Posted by Tom, 6/18/2004 6:39:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, June 17, 2004


    Single Issue Voting

    I think I may have finally moved past single issue voting to something better, but I encourage people to try it. And of course the issue is guns. As Mao said, political power grows from the barrel of a gun. Politicians know this, and their responses to the gun issue are illustrative of the type elected official they will be. Ernest Hancock has more:

    Even politicians who want to be known as "pro-gun" hate having to discuss the issue with reporters or be too specific, even with supporters. They hate it because it is an MRI into their character.

    ...

    The gun-rights debate is the ultimate test by which any politician or political philosophy can be evaluated.

    If a politician isn't comfortable with any individual being able to walk into a hardware store, pay cash for any firearm without producing identification or signing a single scrap of paper (and that individual being able to carry that protection concealed or open), then that politician does not support freedom.

    ...

    This test is very revealing about how someone seeking your vote really feels about you. If he doesn't want you to have the means to defend your life, do you want him in a position to control it?

    ,,,

    Try it yourself: if a politician won't trust you, why should you trust him?


    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    Posted by Tom, 6/17/2004 6:27:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Don't Dare Call it Science

    Working as I do with some of the nation's top meteorologists, I get to hear plenty of vitriol about the egregious errors in movies like Twister and The Day After Tomorrow. So I was especially pleased when I ran across this article at Mises.org. It starts off with a great point:

    "The science and evidence in Roland Emmerich's anticipated blockbuster Independence Day may be flawed and the posited scenario may be impossible as far as we know, but the movie has the potential to do a lot of good. It will raise awareness of the possibility that a race of hostile aliens may someday attempt to exterminate humanity. What's more, it may convince the White House to address this pressing issue."

    Is there any chance that a paragraph like that would have made it onto the editorial page of a major newspaper in anticipation of Roland Emmerich's mid-nineties blockbuster? Doubtful. And yet Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow has generated a lot of publicity and a lot of "dialogue" by positing a doomsday scenario that is only slightly more realistic than the alien invasion scenario that was the centerpiece of Independence Day (or the giant nuclear lizard that wreaked havoc in Emmerich's update of Godzilla).


    Way to smack 'em down.

    Posted by Tom, 6/17/2004 6:23:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Education in the Crapper

    Of course, you knew that already. Here's a couple of articles on the subject. The first is about an interesting study that says our standardized tests are not too difficult for students. So why are scores going down? Well, either every subsequent generation is dumber than the one before it, or all of the money and "reforming" we pour into education is having a detrimental effect.

    In support of the latter view, I offer this piece from Mises.org, championing the free market alternative.

    Posted by Tom, 6/17/2004 6:15:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, June 11, 2004


    Goodbye, Mr. Reagan

    I know your life
    On earth was troubled
    And only you could know the pain
    You weren't afraid to face the devil
    You were no stranger to the rain

    Go rest high on that mountain
    Son, your work on earth is done
    Go to heaven a shoutin'
    Love for the Father and the Son

    Oh, how we cried the day you left us
    We gathered round your grave to grieve
    I wish I could see the angels faces
    When they hear your sweet voice sing

    Go rest high on that mountain
    Son, your work on earth is done
    Go to heaven a shoutin'
    Love for the Father and the Son

    -- Vince Gill

    Posted by Tom, 6/11/2004 7:16:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, June 9, 2004


    Why are we still there?

    Every day there are news reports about more deaths.
    Every night on TV there are photos of death and destruction.
    Why are we still there?

    We occupied this land, which we had to take by force, but it causes us nothing but trouble.
    Why are we still there?

    Many of our children go there and never come back.
    Why are we still there?

    Their government is unstable, and they have loopy leadership.
    Why are we still there?

    Many of their people are uncivilized.
    Why are we still there?

    The place is subject to natural disasters, which we are supposed to bail them out of.
    Why are we still there?

    There are more than 1000 religious sects there which we do not understand.
    Why are we still there?

    Their folkways, foods, and fads are unfathomable to ordinary Americans.
    Why are we still there?

    We can't even secure the borders.
    Why are we still there?

    They are billions of dollars in debt and it will cost billions more to rebuild -- which we can't afford.
    Why are we still there????????

    It is becoming clear...

    WE MUST PULL OUT OF CALIFORNIA

    (Thanks to the Uncaring Bastard)

    Posted by Tom, 6/9/2004 7:00:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, June 8, 2004


    One More Word on Reagan

    I just saw a post elsewhere that had Ronald Reagan's farewell letter to the American people. His last line:

    I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

    Here was a man about to die from one of the most dehumanizing diseases known to us at the time. If "human" expresses intelligence, Alzheimer's is thoroughly anti-human in its destruction of intelligence and memory. His first line acknowledges his fate and resigns himself to it, but in his second line he reiterates the endless optimism he held for us and our country. As his sun has finally set, I repeat that the world is a poorer place for having lost him.

    Posted by Tom, 6/8/2004 5:47:00 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, June 6, 2004


    "Tear Down This Wall"

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by now that Ronald Reagan has died. I already miss him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of his politics, since I wasn't old enough at the time to know what they were. By the same token, I'm not really one of those people who sees him in hindsight as "America's Grandpa". But there are some things which really stand out in my mind about him that I miss.

    Reagan had a quiet confidence that can only come from having lived a full life and painstakingly collecting all of that experience as though each moment is a precious treasure. He no doubt knew that he had made bad decisions at various points during his life and his term, but he didn't seem to spend a lot of time dwelling on past mistakes that he couldn't change. Instead, he was always looking to the future. If you look through various pictures of him, he always seemed to be looking to the horizon, straining to see the next opportunity coming so he could be in a position to take advantage of it, both for himself and for the nation. It was this boundless optimism and his personal courage that draws me to him as a man -- because that's what he was, a man. He wasn't a frat boy looking to gain office because it meant "scoring with chicks" (Bill Clinton). He wasn't a son trying to rescue the family name from his father's weak presidency (George W Bush). He was a man who, in applying the wealth of experience from 70 years of life, never stepped away from his principles, never forgot what was right and what was wrong, and endlessly strove to do the right thing.

    And when he failed, he picked himself up, squared his shoulders, and kept trying. He didn't spend a lot of time trying to defend himself from the inevitable barbs of his political opponents. He just tried to do what he thought was right. His courage really shone through when he was talking to others and showed his willingness to name the elephant in the room. The main reason I miss Ronald Reagan is because there is no other president or presidential hopeful in my lifetime -- not Nixon or Carter or Bush Sr. or Clinton or Bush Jr. or Al Gore or John Kerry -- that I can envision going to the very doorstep of an enemy that had plagued us for half a century, and boldly demand that they "tear down this wall". Not because he said so, not because a bunch of hippie protestors or focus groups or editorial columnists said so, but because it's the right thing to do.

    Ronald Reagan is the first person that I did not know personally for whom I shed tears at the news of his death. Regardless of whether we agree with his politics, the world has just lost a man of endless optimism, personal integrity, and incredible courage, and it is a poorer place for having lost a person with those characteristics. I feel that loss very deeply.

    Posted by Tom, 6/6/2004 9:41:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, June 5, 2004


    No blood for oil!

    Especially when it's not my oil. For all the ninnies who said Bush was going to Iraq to steal the oil (not that I supported him going to Iraq, but these people irritate me), apparently all he wanted to do was make sure Iraqis get it good and cheap while the rest of us got robbed to help subsidize it. So much for "stealing the oil". Makes me wonder if, in light of this new information, the next tactic the leftists will try is something like "Bush went to Iraq and wasn't even smart enough to steal the oil!"

    Posted by Tom, 6/5/2004 5:01:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    The slacker generation

    "Disconnectedness" is on the rise among 18-24 year-olds. This means they don't have a job and aren't in college. In the old days, we'd say "get a haircut and a job, you hippie!" Nowadays we wring our hands and wonder where society failed them.

    Posted by Tom, 6/5/2004 4:58:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Michael Moore is a big fat liar

    Here's an anti-gun writer tearing into Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" and warning against taking "Fahrenheit 9/11" too seriously. Definitely worth the read.

    Posted by Tom, 6/5/2004 4:54:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, June 4, 2004


    "Non-lethal" weapons

    This is kind of an irritating subject for me. It seems obvious that non-lethal weapons encourage police brutality. The reason police have such hardcore review processes with regards to their firearms is to ensure that they don't get all trigger-happy, and as we've seen in numerous cases (Amadou Diallo, Ruby Ridge, Waco), this doesn't always work. So then you give police a weapon and tell them it's "non-lethal". That means it's safe to use, right? Wrong.

    Case in point:

    A Lake Mary man died after an Orlando police officer shocked him with a Taser gun.

    The article goes on to try and excuse the police behavior by saying that the guy had drugs in his system. This shouldn't surprise us, since the police are more likely than the rest of us to run into people with drugs in their system. And if Tasers can kill a person with drugs in their system, they're not exactly "non-lethal" now, are they?

    Of course the Taser company has their own bit in their defense:

    "We believe Amnesty International's ongoing smear campaign against TASER non-lethal weapons and the police who use them is unethical, misleading, and in-fact defamatory," said Rick Smith, CEO of TASER International, Inc. "Amnesty International continues to call for a ban on virtually every non-lethal technology used by law enforcement worldwide. Any rational human being understands that such a policy would leave police with no options but lethal force, directly resulting in the needless loss of thousands of lives each year. Yet Amnesty International continues a techno-phobic rant against non-lethal weapons in general, and TASER energy weapons in specific," said Mr. Smith.

    Here's an idea: limit the police to lethal force, give them better training, and roll back laws until the only things a police officer is likely to be responding to are things which are likely to require lethal force. Then you don't have incidents where a cop is responding some guy "walking funny" or "acting erratic", but instead goes after just the guys who are actually a danger to the rest of us. As an added bonus, we'd need fewer cops, which could give the ones we keep better training and/or lower our taxes.

    Posted by Tom, 6/4/2004 7:05:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wasting Votes?

    Here's a moral and philosophical look at the old "wasting your vote" argument.

    [myth]: The Purpose of voting is to end up on the winning side, whoever that may be and whatever they might stand for.

    Voting is about expressing your personal preference and conscience. The ONLY reason for voting in a Presidential election is for your OWN peace of mind, and the knowledge that however ineffectual that vote might be in the "horserace" between unacceptable alternatives, it does at least represent your own heart's preference and personal values.

    You might compare it to the process of Forgiveness of others: the primary issue is not forgetting the offense, but forgiving YOURSELF ... and moving on from the whole scenario, instead of carrying the burden of resentment and anger any longer. Voting for the candidate or issue of your true choice is an act of affirmation of that choice, and a means by which you might be able to look yourself in the mirror the next day, and for the next four years...


    Bingo!

    Posted by Tom, 6/4/2004 7:03:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Curious Disconnect

    I love this article about John Kerry being both a hunter and animal rights activist. It really displays the "all things to all people" persona this nitwit is going for. But the article also has some great things to say about the animal rights crowd in general, specifically regarding the source of monies used to purchase wild areas for nature preserves and such.

    In total, just last year, hunters and fishermen (NOT birdwatchers, NOT rock-climbers, NOT kayakers NOT nature-hikers) contributed 1.7 BILLION "big ones" (to quote Steve Martin as "The Jerk") to wildlife conservation in America. Here's President Reagan himself while celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pittman Robertson act: "Those who pay the freight for conservation are those who purchase hunting equipment."

    Which isn't surprising when you consider that the animal rights crowd seems to be chiefly comprised of unemployed and underemployed college students who have no money and a penchant for "keep 'em all poor" socialism.

    Posted by Tom, 6/4/2004 6:58:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, June 3, 2004


    You Can't Borrow Your Way to Prosperity

    Unfortunately, some of us haven't learned that lesson yet. Want something that will give your kids more than a measly college education? Buy them tuition to Financial Peace University. Maybe by the time they're sending their kids to college, they'll have had the foresight to start saving early and send the kid to school debt-free.

    Why does the American government operate on deficit spending? Because the American family does.

    Posted by Tom, 6/3/2004 6:22:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Rutan the Man

    SpaceShipOne is gearing up to put a cap on the X-Prize once and for all! Go Burt go!

    "Since Yuri Gagarin and Al Shepard's epic flights in 1961, all space missions have been flown only under large, expensive government efforts," Rutan said.

    "By contrast, our program involves a few, dedicated individuals who are focused entirely on making spaceflight affordable.

    "Without the entrepreneur approach, space access would continue to be out of reach for ordinary citizens. The SpaceShipOne flights will change all that and encourage others to usher in a new, low-cost era in space travel," Rutan added.


    I love this guy.

    Posted by Tom, 6/3/2004 6:19:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saw It Coming

    Girls are now pushing for more modest clothing choices. Apparently the "junior pornstar" look is going out of vogue. Anyone want to bet that Britney Spears does the Madonna thing and starts down the path of Victorian-looking stage outfits?

    Posted by Tom, 6/3/2004 6:15:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, June 2, 2004


    LP Chooses Badnarik

    CenterDigit's officially endorsed candidate for the presidency, Michael Badnarik, has been chosen to lead the charge in the presidential race this year. He's a constitutional scholar to boot. At least there'll be one candidate in the race who's got some idea of what the document says.

    Posted by Tom, 6/2/2004 7:07:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Ninnies in an Uproar

    Thomas Sowell gives a realistic review of a recent mountain lion shooting in California. Seems the granola bunch have their knickers in a twist because the cops saw fit to shoot a critter that could easily be chomping on schoolchildren. Call me species-ist if you like, but I'd rather off a cat than have a kid wind up missing an arm or worse.

    Posted by Tom, 6/2/2004 6:57:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Stupid Government Tricks

    This is absolutely hilarious. Apparently, air marshals are easy to identify on planes because the government is more concerned with dress codes than with actual security. Chalk it up as another reason CCW licensees should simply be deputized for use on planes and the federal government told to go jump in a lake.

    Posted by Tom, 6/2/2004 6:48:00 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...