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Thursday, July 31, 2014

America's First War in the Middle East

The first war the US fought in the Middle East was in 1801. This was also the first time the US sent its military overseas. The enemy were pirates based in Tripoli, in what is now Libya. It began when the pirates began attacking US ships and taking the crews hostage. They did this because the US government refused to pay tribute for safe passage. At the time, every other nation, including powerful ones like Britain and France, was paying tribute to these pirates.

US ships sailed to Tripoli and bombarded the city. During this time, one ship ran aground and was captured. It was later burned in a commando raid by US marines to prevent the pirates from using it. This raid is the origin of the words "to the shores of Tripoli" in the US Marine Corps hymn.

After this incident, the US government began a long series of negotiations with the pirate government, led by a man named Yusuf Karamanli. He was a Pasha or military governor of the Islamic Ottoman Empire which controlled the area. At the same time, an American army officer and diplomat named William Eaton worked to overthrow Yusuf. Yusuf had gained power by overthrowing his brother Hamet. Eaton's plan was to help Hamet regain the throne and then Hamet would release the American hostages and sign a treaty with the US.

Eaton and Hamet raised an army and marched on Derna, Yusuf's capital city. With help from the US navy, they captured the city after a bloody battle and forced Yusuf to flee. A few months later, the US government announced that it had signed a treaty with Yusuf which freed the US hostages in exchange for a large ransom. Eaton was recalled and Hamet was forced into exile again. Eaton drank himself to an early death out of bitterness at the outcome.

But on a positive note, the war made a strong impact on public memory, and the US never again waged a fruitless war in the Middle East.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

For the Children

Children are the future, so it makes sense to shield them from as much harm as possible. Any law or ban is worth it even if it only saves one child's life.

For the sake of the children, the following must be banned at once: swimming pools, dogs, & baseball.

Each year in the US,  about 400 children, most of them under the age of 5, drown in swimming pools. Drowning is the #1 cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Despite this, law makers nationwide have done nothing to ban these watery death traps. Yes, many millions of people enjoy swimming pools safely, but is that any excuse to allow such a huge hazard to children? Everything society does must be for the sake of the children.

In 2013, 18 children were killed by dogs. More than half of these victims were aged 7 or younger. Why do we allow these vicious beasts in our midst? Just because the vast majority of dogs never kill children is no excuse to let people own them. And just because 3 dog breeds account for almost all the attacks is no excuse to tolerate the rest. Better to ban all of them just to be safe.

In most years, there has been at least one child killed while playing Little League. Sure millions of kids play each year without even being injured, but what about that one child? If banning Little League saves just one life, it will be worth it.

You can never be too safe, unless you want children to die.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just a few more laws

The US constitution is 4,440 words long. It is the shortest constitution in the world and the oldest still in use.
Unfortunately, the Constitution was not quite enough, so over the years, we added a few more laws. By 1925, all of the country's laws fit in a book 7 inches thick- much more impressive than that flimsy old Constitution. Later came the IRS tax code. It is around 4 million words, but no one really knows for sure because it gets longer every year. It is now longer than the Bible (788 thousand words), War and Peace (587 thousand words), and the complete works of Shakespeare (884 thousand words)- combined.

Not bad, but still not quite enough. Obamacare added another 387 thousand words and its regulations another 11 million words. It is important to remember that laws include both statues and regulations. The regulations are often much longer than the law (statute) itself. I tried and failed to find a word count for all US laws, including federal, state, and local. I failed because it turns out there are so many of them, no one knows how many there really are. A rough guess is that there are probably around 100 million words total in all the country's laws.

Now we're getting somewhere. A Roman orator named Cicero famously said "more laws, less justice". But those were ancient times. Things are completely different today. The record of history clearly shows that as laws grow more numerous and complex, corruption & crime decrease. This is especially true for vice laws which have successfully eradicated prostitution & drugs. And with no unintended consequences whatsoever.

You see, with every law we pass, we inch ever closer to utopia. That's why we should be passing as many laws as possible and never, ever repealing them. To repeal even one law is to risk plunging the nation into anarchy. So the next time you hear someone complain about laws, just remember that laws are the only things stopping people from killing and eating each other. Even the laws like the one which banned pinball machines in New York City from 1940 to 1976. Those are the most important of all.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The True Meaning of Freedom

Few people understand the true meaning of freedom. I believe it was best explained by Rudy Giuliani, who said: "Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it."

That's right. Freedom means asking permission and taking orders from people who are superior to you, like politicians and bureaucrats. Here's how it works, when a regular person becomes a politician, judge, cop, or bureaucrat, they become instantly transformed into incorruptible demigods who are now free to operate outside normal morality. This is fitting as we all know that politicians are renowned for their intelligence and honesty, just as bureaucrats are known for their efficiency and empathy.

And then there the laws, which all must obey. Laws are magic squiggles inscribed on paper which can alter morality.  For example, laws in the US once banned the consumption of alcohol & allowed slavery. Thus, when these laws were in effect, morality was altered such that drinking alcohol was evil and owning slaves was not.

Now, some of you less patriotic types might be asking how men making squiggles on paper can alter morality. The answer is through interpretation of the Constitution. This ancient document was written so long ago that ordinary citizens can no longer read & understand it. Fortunately, we have politicians and judges to interpret it for us. Take the 10th amendment for example. It reads:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Now, a layman reading that would think it means the federal government is only allowed to do what is specifically listed in the Constitution. But what it really means is that the federal government can do whatever it wants if it feels like it.

To sum up, every American’s duty can be expressed as one word:

OBEY

Men, check your privilege


Raise the Minimum Wage & End Robot Unemployment

America's robot unemployment rate is a national disgrace. All across the country, robot engineers sit idle and schematics languish on drawing boards. And why? Because robots are priced out of the market by cut-rate human labor. All this in spite of the presence of millions of dull, repetitive, low-skill jobs which are perfect for robots.

Yes, robophobia runs rampant- it's the last acceptable form of discrimination. It's time to move forward and strike a blow for machine rights. By raising the minimum wage, we can ensure that robots and humans will compete on an even playing field.

Moreover, more robots means jobs for engineers & technicians. Moving to a robot-based economy will revitalize America's manufacturing base. Imagine going through a drive-thru and being served a perfectly cooked hamburger from a gleaming robot with "MADE IN THE USA" proudly stamped on its metal chest. Picture factories in cities like Cleveland and Detroit bustling once more as they churn out robots. Think of all the happy teenagers and college students liberated from the drudgery of summer jobs.

Other nations like Japan have embraced robots. And Japan's economy has been in a non-stop boom ever since. All thanks to the magic of high labor costs and robots.

In the US, robots have largely replaced humans on customer service hotlines, much to everyone's delight. I know I get a thrill up my spine whenever I hear the robot voice say "for English, press 1". And I never have to repeat myself to a robot the way I do with people. They get it right the first time, every time. Honestly, who prefers talking to a person over a machine?


Raise the minimum wage- It's good for robots, good for business & good for America.     

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Farewell to my 85 Chevy Celebrity

I've been driving it since high school. Much as I have come to love it, it's time to move on.