Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Picking My Brain 06-10-31

"Wayne's Brain Pickings" - Cats can't tell the difference!


"I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the Secretary of Defense." - George W. Bush, White House, Apr. 18, 2006 [So, he's hearing voices, eh?]


Instead of saying "We must reduce our dependence on foreign oil," I think it's time to start saying, "We must end our dependence on unsecure foreign oil". I think we should start framing the debate that way. Using the word "reduce" implies that total elimination is not the goal at all, even though we know it should be. But if all we talk about is merely "reducing" this dependence, then we are too mollified by pitiful reductions in this dependence. And make no mistake, at this point in time, we are dependent on foreign oil. If we talk about ending this dependence, then we become more accepting of the changes we know we must face. And it would make all those renewable energy ideas seem less crazy to some of the nay-sayers who worry about the cost. Given the long term benefits, such as surviving, among many other things, such as having children that survive, I think we might be willing to pay more for the energy we need.

Stop worrying about what the Capitalist Pigs think of the idea. They're stupid, because they're greedy and selfish and not at all interested in your best interests. If they're recommending a stock, it's because they profit from you buying it. I do not believe their denials. If the stock was such a great one, why wouldn't they be buying it? And if they're not buying it, then why not? These people view things through one and only one lens: Does it make me more money, or do I lose money? Nothing else matters to them. They have this very twisted idea that the "market" is where you find the "best" solutions. BULLSHIT! The "market" is only interested in profitable solutions. But what we may have to do will likely cost money and may not be a hugely profitable industry. That's too bad, because the current system MUST change. You know, when you go into business, you know up front that you are taking a risk. You could lose everything, but you could also make a lot of money. Some people make obscenely huge, unjustifiable, idiotic amounts of money. These lucky bastards literally make more money than they know what to do with. And the sad thing is that not only is it not enough for some of them, but that they become the role model for others. They become the dream. They become the ones put up as examples of why you should do this, because some day this could be you. Yeah, you and hundreds of millions of other people, so it's highly improbable that it's going to be you. But don't let that bother you.

While I was going through Air Force basic training down at Lackland Air Force Base way back in '83, I was having a hard time adapting to this whole "military thinking" thing. I do, after all, have a brain which I do, unlike many others, enjoy using. So this over-simplified "You've got to be smarter than the box, Schneider"-type thinking was really beginning to get to me. And then one day, I had an epiphany. The reason it sucked so much was because it was supposed to suck so much. That was the point! And what they wanted to know was how well you could adapt to that. Of course it was stupid. Folding your underwear and T-shirts so they were exactly six inches square (as measured with a ruler) was obviously nothing they would want you to be doing in the event of an actual war. (They would hope you would have more important things to think about. The ability to prioritize is also a valuable trait they look for in a recruit.) But the entire point was to make you do something mindless and stupid and to do it as accurately as you could. It was all a mind game, and that's why it sucked. As soon as I realized that, a great weight lifted off me, and I sailed throught he rest of basic training without any worries about how well I could handle the Air Force. They wanted to play mind games with me, and I felt was well armed for combat in that arena. Anyway, the point of this little story is that once you can accept the futility of fighting a situation, the pressure you feel is reduced tremendously. I'm not talking about giving in or giving up, I'm talking about accepting the reality. Instead of trying to eliminate this new unpleasantness, you accept its presence and figure out how you'll deal with it. I've come to realize that I'm never going to "strike it rich", and so my outlook is less clouded by the disappointment of not having "struck it rich" yet. Don't let the idea that some day you might also be one of those rich investors stop you from rejecting their attitude of solving the problems of the world solely through the "market." Dependence on unsecure foreign oil is costing us way more in the long run than mere cash. It will cost lives. It has to end. If making the planet habitable for humans everywhere means taking someone's obscene wealth until he has only his enormous wealth to sleep on at night, then I can live with myself if we have to take it from him.


In twenty minutes or less, what the hell is wrong with Doctor Sen W. Frist? He actually claims that the Democrats want to raise your taxes and surrender to terrorists! First of all, I'm not surrendering to anyone, asshole! Not the terrorists, and not our government. But I repeat myself (to borrow from Mark Twain.) And second, taxes were irresponsibly cut too much, especially for the very wealthy. The rich people in this country neither needed nor deserved all those tax cuts they got. The president is lying when he attributes whatever strength in the economy he perceives to the tax cuts. It's bullshit, fallacious reasoning, like so many other excuses he gives. Democrats want to roll back the taxes on the wealthiest, and see how that helps. When you hear Bush saying to whatever crowd paid to see him (his campaign speeches these past couple of days have been freebies) that "the Democrats want to raise your taxes," it probably is technically accurate in that he's talking to a pre-screened crowd comprised of upper-income people, the kind of people who got over-generous tax cuts. But it's not true of everyone. The Democrats certainly don;t want to raise taxes on the poor, and anyone who says they do is lying. And if they hesitate to agree (as I imagine Frist would), then they're still lying, because it's obviously not true and they know it. And I'm not a Democrat, either, but I am smart enough to know that I am not safe under Republican policies.

Anyway, Jon Stewart had a good bit on this last night. He talked about the fictional Democrat of which Frist spoke, and they show a lawn sign for "Dumbfuck McDoesn'texist", and below that, two items "checked off", "Raise Your Taxes","Surrender to Terrorists". I swear, the politicians down in Washington really don't have a high opinion of us. And considering we send more than 95% of them back each time, can you argue with them?


I've been having problems with my car recently (one reason I didn't run out and buy two computers for home) and I know it still doesn't run perfectly. I took my car in to get an oil change and inspection, and when the mechanic went out to get the car, I think I heard him groan when he first saw it. That's never good.


The big day is one week away. Remember, if you don't vote, you can't bitch.

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