Red Meat For The Masses

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Posted on : 12/01/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

Simon Jester has been back on the 'Net for a few weeks now.  While one needs to be careful about the quantities of delicious red meat that is included in one's diet, a prime cut skillfully prepared is always a devilishly good treat.

The same applies to eating steak.

From the Simon Jester information page:

We are Simon Jester.

We are not anarchists.

We are not Far-Right or Far-Left.  We are the seventy percent in the middle.

We are not Capital “L” libertarians, although we do have sympathies with their platform.

We are neither bitter clingers nor conspiracy nuts.

What we are is a group of folks that think we see liberty and freedom eroding in our beloved United States.  We see the policies and agendas of the hirelings in Washington D.C. heading toward an
abbreviation if not outright abrogation of the Bill of Rights.

We think that the Federal government is grasping to consolidate power using the current crisis, since as Rahm Emmanuel said, it’s a terrible thing to waste.  We think the Federal government, not just this administration, is more interested in self-serving personal, political, and party power than it is in actually doing its best to do the least.

This President didn’t make it this way.  It has been heading along this path since Woodrow Wilson held political prisoners and FDR held four terms as president; since Johnson’s Great Society and Nixon took us off the gold standard; since Bush Sr. lied about no new taxes, Clinton desecrated the Oval Office, Bush Jr. rammed through the Patriot Act, and Obama wanted every high school kid to ‘volunteer.’

...

Simon Jester.  A symbol, since “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert A. Heinlein was published in 1966, of dissent against authority.   Let the press, and the government, and your neighbors know that you are paying attention to what the Federal government is trying to do.  Let someone ask you what that little devil underneath the word “Citizen” across your chest means and then explain it to them.  Explain to the one pool reporter who shows up at the next Tea Party that you and Simon have your eyes open and are watching as the government tries to control your life.  Explain to your pastor, or your waitress, or your barista at Starbucks, that our government is power hungry and that you and others like you are trying to be heard.
We are Simon Jester.

And, yes, Robert Heinlein is one of my favorite authors.

Why Oh Why Is The Sand In The Sky?

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Posted on : 11/30/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Because there is a hurricane in the air.

Whether it is Mississippi flood plains, the barrier islands of the Outer Banks, cities that exist below sea level, or other vulnerable locales, it have frequently wondered about the wisdom of using federal dollars to rebuild these areas after a disaster strikes.  In the wake of hurricane Sandy, it is nice to know that I am not alone.

By rebuilding in areas that are prone to major damage, we are not only wasting tax dollars, we are also putting lives at risk.  Wouldn't we all be better off if these areas were instead purchased by the government and turned into parks or preserves?

Over time, disaster relief costs would diminish and we could stop charging flood insurance for properties that physically cannot flood.

...

Tangentially, I was reading a story about the New York residents that were abandoned for weeks on end following Sandy.  One of the residents was complaining about the lack of help in any form for her area.

She made the curious comment that she didn't have flood insurance as she could not afford it.  And yet she still seemed to think that the feds would come riding to the rescue with dollars a-plenty for one and all.

This is the world we have built.  I can think of better ones.

I Know Where You Are

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Posted on : 11/29/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Imagine a government agency that can compel certain groups of people to visit its offices.  The imagine that this agency further compels these visitors to wear identification tags during every visit.  Imagine those ID tags also contain RFID chips so that the government agency can know where each and every person is while in or near their facility.

How many people would be outraged?  How long would this policy last?

The agency is a school.  The "certain groups" would be students.

The number of outraged families is one.

By the time the government gets around to mandating that RFID chips be surgically implanted in every citizen, I fully expect not to hear a single "baaa".

One of the reasons for structuring our public school days in hourly segments was to prepare students for life in an industrial setting.  They had to be trained to move in response to bells and similar broad scale signals.  Independent thought and pursuit of personal interests went right out the window.

Where better to wear down the public's expectation of privacy than in our public schools.  In another 30 years, the government will be able to go where it wants, when it wants, and no one will dare suggest it to be out of place. 

The Fourth Amendment right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects as well as our expectation that government agents would secure warrants before conducting a search will be so twisted as to become unrecognizable to the men that wrote the Amendment in the first place.  If they can do it to the "commerce clause" and the "general welfare clause" to permit the New Deal, Social Security, and similar extra Constitutional activities, then we can expect people that support a "living Constitution" to fully embrace a government that readily asks the digital equivalent of "papers please" on a routine basis.

It Didn't Go Far Enough

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Posted on : 11/28/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In :

Denny's franchisee John Metz had a good idea.  Rather than raise his prices to cover the costs associated with the ACA, he was going to institute a 5% surcharge so that patrons would know why the cost of their meal had gone up.

People were outraged.  Mr.Metz's comments were misconstrued as representing Denny's policy instead of it being just his franchise locations.  Sales fell.  Denny's corporate got anxious.  Telephone calls were made.

And the makings of a great idea swiftly fell.

It would have been a better idea if Mr. Metz had created his surcharge that covered all of his tax liabilities instead of singling out the ACA.  Then he would have been doing a real public service.

We had a couple gas stations in the area that put stickers on their pumps letting people know how much they were paying in taxes as a part of every dollar spent on gas.  It was interesting and informative.  I think it would have had a more lasting impact if such information was required on every gas pump.

But y'all already know that I'm a little off on the subject of taxes....

The Stories That Matter

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Posted on : 11/27/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : , ,

Some encouraging news from last week.  It seems that more people were following the news of the "fiscal cliff" than were following the lurid details of the Petraeus affair.  In fact, the debacle in Benghazi and the latest between the Israelis and the Palestinians were also of more interest to the public than the ultimately private issue of Gen. Petraeus's sex life.

How To Raise Revenue

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Posted on : 11/26/2012 01:00:00 PM | By : Dann | In : ,

End the corporate welfare that exists within the loop holes in our tax laws.  As Professor Reynolds suggests, the first to go should be the Hollywood tax cuts.  But there's more!

ALONG WITH MY PROPOSAL TO REPEAL THE HOLLYWOOD TAX CUTS and various other ideas on how the GOP can push popular ideas that will hurt Democratic constituencies, several readers have suggested that the Republicans in Congress push cable-unbundling as a cause. It will, they suggest, make consumers happy, hurt the entertainment industries and probably put MSNBC out of business since, well, how many people would actually pay to get MSNBC? . . . .
Given how infrequently the entertainment industries support my perspective, I think ending their preferential tax treatment is an excellent place to start.

Book Recommendation - Tales Before Tolkien

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Posted on : 11/26/2012 07:00:00 AM | By : Dann | In : ,

Whilst perusing the fantasy and science fiction section of one of our local library branches, I happened across "Tales Before Tolkien" edited by Douglas Anderson.  The forward promised a view into the fantasy fiction that the godfather of modern fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien read.  Included as well were some works by authors that were known to Tolkien that he may or may not have read and works that no one reasonably suspects him to have read, but that certainly reflected the state of fantasy writing in the years before "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" were written and published.

In many ways, this book is an unbidden view into the workings of Tolkien's fantasy world.  If the avid Tolkien reader imagines that all of the fantastic characters and circumstances simply bubbled up as works of his unique ingenuity, then "Tales Before Tolkien" will disabuse that reader of such wild thoughts.  Having loved lingering over Tolkien's use of language to present such a unique world, it was a bit of a disappointment to discover that the idea of confusing trolls by speaking while invisible was not a unique idea.  Nor was the concept of elves as illusive beings that live from an almost unworldly, exclusive perspective.

One of the tales included is "Puss-Cat Mew" that was written by E.H. Knatchbull-Hugessen in 1869.  Tolkien was read to from a collection that included this story.  There are many elements within this story that are reflected, amplified, and refined by Mr. Tolkien in his writing.  I won't spoil the surprise as to which elements those might be.

Only one or two of the stories were really difficult to get through.  Those few stories contained lengthy passages that threatened to become nearly Randian in their length of prose and depth of minutia.  I will confess to skipping past a couple of them.

My favorite tale of the collection was "The Regent of the North" written by Kenneth Morris.  Mr. Morris' work was almost certainly unknown to Tolkien.  Yet he evoked a certain sense of perspective that most any Tolkienian dwarf would find comforting.

"The Regent" tells the tale of a Viking lord who is sorely disappointed that his king has adopted this "new" Christian faith.  The lord sees Christ as a weak deity that is unworthy of the allegiance of decent Viking men.  Rather that submit to his king's command that the lord should come and accept this new faith, the lord flatly refuses in the hope that his king will attack his keep.  Better to die as a man fighting for that in which he believes than to kneel and scrape to weakling idol.

The king, in a fashion worthy of his new faith, offers forbearance and tolerance to his vassal lord.  "I will not trouble with you" the king sends in response the lord's outright challenge.

The lord is incensed at being essentially dismissed to live out his days being ignored by his king.  After raging about for a week, the he sends for his fifty most loyal men.  He proposed that those who were willing accompany him as he went a-viking.  They would sail forth to raid and rend.  They would fight the ocean and the elements if no better foes could be found.  And if death should find them during their travels, then they would die manly deaths on their feet rather than joining the mass of ignoble races answering jangling church bells to offer ignoble prayers.

By the end of the story, all of the lord's men have died at sea.  His ships were wrecked on a far northern coast. He has ridden a lengthy sleigh ride pulled by a lone reindeer and finds himself surrounded by a pack of wolves.

Battle with a worthy foe is about to commence.

This story spoke to me from two perspectives.  One is the larger narrative of the relative virtues of living such a physical life.  The lord is presented to the reader as a positive character who virtuously defends his country, his people, and his keep with enthusiasm.  Were it not for his king's conversion, the lord would have been venerated in old age or death for his faithful and manly service.

In our laudable pursuit of equality among the genders, I fear that we have denigrated the manly defense of justice, honor, and defense of the defenseless.

The second perspective was that of religion.  Never fear, dear reader.  I am not some blossoming Odinic novitiate.  I'm not looking to put the Thor back in Thorsday.

What I am is skeptical about all religions.  Might there be some sort of higher power out there?  Might we be the mote in a deity's eye?

Perhaps.  If there is, then I reasonably suspect that he/she/they have expended the fullest fraction of their interest in planting us here on planet Earth that will ever be expended.  I also reasonably suspect that they have nothing to do with any of the texts that are associated with any religion; past, present, or future.

Or perhaps not.

I see little difference between either conclusion given the lack of divine interaction.

I share our protagonist's skepticism regarding Christianity even though I do not share his alternative.

This collection was an interesting read and worth your time.



Also edited by Mr. Anderson is "Tales Before Narnia".  I haven't read it, but given the quality of the Tolkien tome, I think this one might be worthwhile for Narnia fans.