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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Terrorist is not a Needle in a Haystack

A typo in a long novel is a needle in a haystack. A diamond ring lost on a beach is a needle in a haystack. A good candidate in a pile of resumes is a needle in a haystack. A terrorist is not.

All the terrorists who have attacked the US in the past 30 years had a lot in common. All were men and except for McVeigh, all were Muslims. Almost all of them were between 15 and 40. Almost all of them were forthright in their anti-American views.

The Secret Service takes all threats to the president seriously and interviews the people who make them. They do this even though every single person who makes them turns out to be a harmless crank. All of the people who have successfully attacked a president were smart enough to lay low and stay off the radar. People who make threats want attention.

Since the potential terrorists are easy to spot, they should be questioned. Profiling, you say? Yes, it is profiling and there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone profiles all the time because it's usually correct. That guy with a face tattoo is probably not a neurosurgeon. That guy in an expensive suit is probably not going to mug you. That woman walking by a road late at night in a tube top and hot pants is probably not the chair of the Women Studies department. That guy with a Confederate flag bumpersticker is probably not a vegan.

If the NSA, FBI, LSMFT, and all the rest of the alphabet soup insist on spying domestically to thwart terrorists, is it too much to ask that they watch and question the likely culprits?

The 9/11 hijackers were under all kinds of surveillance. Everyone who met them knew they were up to no good, and yet they were never confronted by people whose job it is to root out those sort of people. As far as I can tell, the reason for this is inter-agency bickering between the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. If that's the problem, disband all except one or disband all of them and replace them with one agency. What actually happened is they created yet another agency which is supposed to oversee and integrate all of them. Which, as we all know, solved the problem once and for all.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fun Quotes

"Throughout the ages the rich have been viewed with suspicion because the predominant means of attaining wealth had been through force. Wealth created through trade, through voluntary action, was taken away by the tax man or by military conquest. So it was assumed that all accumulations of wealth came about by violence and coercion.Then along comes Adam Smith and the United States, and now it is understood that wealth created by peaceful exchange is a good thing for society.
But those who would prefer to get rich the old fashioned way, by violence and coercion, objected. Those people are Progressives."

"Leftists cannot separate people from ideas. If you agree with them then you are a good person, and if you disagree then you are a bad person. The more eloquent and logical the disagreement, the worse of a person you are."

"Republics abound in young civilians, who believe that the laws make the city, that grave modifications of the policy and modes of living, and employments of the population, that commerce, education, and religion, may be voted in or out; and that any measure, though it were absurd, may be imposed on a people, if only you can get sufficient voices to make it a law. But the wise know that foolish legislation is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting ..."

"Guns are like Sauron's ring: carrying one will actively corrupt even the most pure soul and turn him into a murdering fiend."

"We may test the hypothesis that the State is largely interested in protecting itself rather than its subjects by asking: which category of crimes does the State pursue and punish most intensely? those against private citizens or those against itself? The gravest crimes in the State's lexicon are almost invariably not invasions of private person or property, but dangers to its own contentment, for example, treason, desertion of a soldier to the enemy, failure to register for the draft, subversion and subversive conspiracy, assassination of rulers and such economic crimes against the State as counterfeiting its money or evasion of its income tax. Or compare the degree of zeal devoted to pursuing the man who assaults a policeman, with the attention that the State pays to the assault of an ordinary citizen. Yet, curiously, the State's openly assigned priority to its own defense against the public strikes few people as inconsistent with its presumed raison d'etre."


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Career Advice from a Man Who Has Lost 3 Jobs in the Past Year

1. Your ability to get a job depends mainly on how well you can guess what the interviewers want to hear. A job interview is like an absurdist drama where you play the role of someone who wants to work for reasons totally unrelated to money.

2. Your ability to keep a job depends primarily on making your bosses happy. This means you must appear to enjoy what you are doing even if you find it boring, unpleasant, or strenuous. Remember, in the mind of a boss, being employed is something that should fill you with undiluted joy and gratitude. It is though they have spared you from execution. They are totally oblivious to the fact that paying people to be there indicates that the job may not be your idea of a good time.

3. Many people correctly realize that their jobs are not that important and just sort of coast through the day on auto-pilot. If you are like most people, these are the sort of co-workers you will find the most tolerable. Unfortunately, other co-workers have much higher opinions of themselves. When these people are forced to rationalize their own sense of importance with the relative unimportance of their jobs, they almost always conclude that the job is actually the most important thing ever. If you wish to preserve your sanity, avoid these people at all costs.

4. Sometimes, you will find that your personality, appearance, etc. is different from your boss. At most workplaces, this is called "having a bad attitude" and it is a serious mistake. You may find that "having a bad attitude" will lead to your boss asking to "talk with you" in his office. This means that you are expected to sit in a chair while your boss tells you everything he thinks, feels, speculates, or wholly fabricates which is wrong with you. When this happens, resist the temptation to speak up to defend yourself. As a lowly peon, a big part of your job is to be a verbal punching bag.

5. If you wish to climb the ranks, you must avoid saying or doing anything that makes your boss look bad. This means that every good idea, no matter who it came from, must be made to look like the boss's idea and that every bad idea must be blamed on someone else even if it was the boss's idea. To mentally prepare yourself for these situations, I recommend reading Alice in Wonderland.

6. Many organizations "value diversity". They say this because they are worried that the government will sue them if they hire/accept too many of the wrong kind of people. In order to get your foot in the door at these places, remember the 3 no's: no whites, no males, no Asians. If you fit into more than one of those categories, you may want to get creative with your genealogy.

7.  One of the most difficult aspects of any job is building a mental shield to block the bombardment of stupid things you will see and hear during the day. For example, if a boss solemnly blurts out an inane brainfart like "appearance is reality", resist the temptation to point out things such as magic tricks and optical illusions. Remember, what you find simplistic is profound to your boss.

8. You will not escape criticism no matter how hard you try to please your boss. You will not escape criticism even if you ask your boss what to do and follow his instructions exactly. If you are given an impossible task, you will be criticized if you fail to complete it. If you take a shortcut to make an impossible task possible, you will be criticized for being sloppy.

9. If you are young, your lack of experience will always be used as a trump card in every dispute, but your superiors' blatant shortcomings in terms of math, science, or common sense do not discredit them. For example, if a boss suggests the way to stop water from condensing in a silo is to use a blower to circulate the air, it will not do you any good to explain the science behind dew-points.

10. If you have been repeatedly unsuccessful as an employee, start your own business. You are more than likely at least as smart and capable as the morons you have worked for.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Vandalism of the Lincoln Memorial

A few days ago, the Lincoln Memorial was vandalized. The monument was temporarily closed and the police have no suspects.

If the government cannot stop hooligans from vandalizing one of the most prominent monuments in the nation's capital, how could it possibly defend against terrorism? The monument is under surveillance and guard 24/7 and whoever did it still got away with it.

The NSA surveillance program and its defenders say that spying on Americans will prevent terrorism by keeping an eye on everyone. Incidents like this show that the government is not god. It is made up of imperfect, fallible people no different than anyone else. It is a crude instrument of coercion that works at best, some of the time. There is no justification for the billions of dollars the government confiscates by force in the name of safety when they cannot guard a statue from vandals.

No doubt authoritarians who read this will immediately chime in with the inane strawman that folks like me believe the government should not try to stop vandalism. Uh huh, because pointing out the imperfections in something is totally the same thing as saying that it should be abolished entirely.  In case things are not clear enough, yes, the government should try to stop things like terrorism, but no, they should be allowed to read everyone's email or listen to or track their phone calls. Yes, national monuments should be guarded against vandalism, but it would be impossible to prevent ALL vandalism without eliminating free access to the monuments.

It is impossible to eliminate all risk of things like crime and terrorism without destroying liberty, which is the most precious thing of all. I have heard that some liberty must be sacrificed for safety. I disagree. Liberty provides the best safeguard against the greatest danger there is: government.



Friday, July 26, 2013

A Lasting Solution to America's Illegal Immigration Problem

The problem of illegal immigration from Mexico has had enormous costs for the people on both sides of the border. The journey is difficult and perilous and those who make it are often forced to spend years working menial jobs in a legal limbo. Impoverished and criminal migrants place extra burdens on the budgets of border states in terms increased spending for incarceration, education, welfare, etc.

Clearly, the status quo is unacceptable. However, there is a way to solve the problem once and for all. The US should annex Mexico and incorporate it into the state of Texas.

This plan requires no military action. All that is necessary is to announce that Mexicans are now free to enter the US and will gain citizenship by doing so. Naturally, millions of former Mexicans will accept this offer and move north. Those people will be boon to the economy as they move into surplus housing and begin buying cars and other durable goods. The sudden influx of immigrants will increase unemployment temporarily, but only in low-paying jobs given the education and skills of a typical migrant.

The former nation of Mexico will now be so short on labor that its economy will collapse. Former Mexican elites will be desperate to cut their losses and that will allow American businessmen to buy up their assets for a song. Bribe-hungry Mexican politicians will gladly agree to become employees of the state of Texas.

Thanks to the business-friendly policies of Texas, a new resource-rich frontier will be formed and act as a magnet for entrepreneurs across the nation. Furthermore, violence and crime will plummet as the former Mexican drug cartels are no longer forced to smuggle across the now-defunct border. This will decimate their profits and lead to their incorporation into less violent American criminal organizations.

If all goes well, the US can repeat the process and annex all the land which now lies between Mexico and the Panama Canal. The 102-mile long waterway will be a much easier border to secure.  

8 Easy Ways to Avoid a Deadly Confrontation When Being Followed by a Stranger

1. Ignore the stranger and walk home

2. Hide somewhere until the stranger leaves the area

3. Call the police

4. Call a relative or friend who is nearby to come and meet you or pick you up

5. Run home

6. Run anywhere and continue running until the stranger loses track of you

7. Knock on the nearest house and ask for help

8. Run to the nearest public place and ask for help

Under no circumstances should you confront the stranger. He may be armed or dangerous.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Politicians, Sex Scandals, & Moral Insanity

Before terms like "psychopath" existed, people who flagrantly violated the rules of basic decency without remorse were called "morally insane". In the same way that an insane person lacks normal intelligence, a morally-insane person lacks a normal sense of shame or guilt. It is unfortunate that this phrase has been discarded because it is a much more accurate description than the opaque psychobabble that replaced it.

I cannot think of a better example of current moral insanity than Anthony Weiner. He resigned from Congress after being discovered sending pictures of his junk to various women. Weiner is married. I cannot begin to fathom why someone would do that except if they lacked any sense of shame. The fact that he is now running for mayor of New York is further proof of it.

Incredibly (to me at least), Weiner has supporters who are defending him. I think such people are best described as morally retarded. It is no different than a rabid sports fan who boos any call against his team and cheers any call for it. The essence of morality is the Golden Rule, and from that it follows that actions which are immoral for one person are immoral for everybody. No animals are more equal than others, to paraphrase Orwell.

Wiener is not alone. During my lifetime, a number of leading politicians from both parties have been caught up in sex scandals: Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Larry Craig, and Mark Sanford to name but a few.

Is one side better than the other? I think not. On the one hand, the Republicans tend to style themselves as the defenders of traditional values. This makes the hypocrisy of a guy like Gingrich, who cheated on his wife while taking then president Clinton to task for doing the same, all the more appalling. On the other hand, Democrats criticize Republicans for violating norms that they disregard completely. It's like a meth-head scolding a drunken AA member. Accusations of hypocrisy mean nothing when they come from people who have no moral standards beyond "might makes right" and "the ends justify the means".

I think Americans should realize that politicians are a lot like rock stars. Rock stars party hearty because they can, and since most people in the same situation would do the same, it is silly to get hung up about it. Politics is a job where appearances, intentions, and emotions usually trump facts, logic, and results. It's occasionally good entertainment and not much else.
The only hope I see is to return to the limited-government principles that were and are the foundation of America's success. Politics ought to be a dull, part-time job with few duties. A good politician should do little and do it slowly. Einstein said something like force attracts men of low character. If you want better people in charge, push to limit the government's power as much as possible.