The Intellectual Wilderness There is nothing more useless than doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

2007.11.2 08:56

We’re still hung up on blaming Bush for… something… anything…

Filed under: Politics / Geopolitics — zxq9 @ 08:56


So the Democrats have passed this wonderful child healthcare bill… again. Bush told them he was going to veto it. The Democrats knew he was going to say that ahead of time, so they have prepared a series of TV appearances, fresh and winning sounding statements, etc. to denounce the President in advance. They are clearly very worried about running against Bush in the 2008 Presidential campaign, and considering their track record against him in the last two elections and all the political battles-of-will they’ve lost while he’s been in office, they should be worried. The only problem being Bush’s ineligibility for the 2008 election and the Democrats are doing this out of a wasteful habit of attacking the President, come what may. This is a national distraction and a complete waste of time; moreover, the Democrats do not want to pass a child healthcare bill in the first place, it is, strictly speaking, a red herring.

Why would I say that and why would the President veto such a nice-sounding bill? He laid it all out for everyone to hear, but I don’t think it was very widely reported without add-on attacks that try to make him look bad. Two things bother him about the bill, and neither one have any direct relation to the bill at hand.


  • He is opposed to nationalized health care for a variety of reasons. This bill not only sets a program in place to expand healthcare for children, it expands the legal infrastructure of nationalization of the industry.
  • He is against raising taxes. This bill’s public focus is on child health care, but the add-on measures in the bill impose several tax increases, just for fun.

If the Democrats were interested only in expanding the existing child healthcare programs as they claim, then that is exactly what they would be doing. But they don’t seem to care much about children other than when saying “child” sounds much more warm-hearted than saying “anybody”. The intentional inclusion of Presidentially unacceptable measures to the end of this bill demonstrates their desire to not see it passed. Bush said himself that he is not against the basic idea of the bill, just the way it has been implemented within it and the add-on passages are simply unacceptable to him. They left the add-ons so that they would not get a 2/3 majority in Congress to override his veto. This is a carefully orchestrated, and horribly wasteful, attack on President Bush.

The best part about all of this is that it is a complete waste of national energy on every level. How many man-hours have been wasted on this bill when you consider how much media time, public attention, printing, me typing, and other forms of tail-chasing have gone into this single, ridiculous, red herring of an issue? This sort of thing happens all the time and it is modern Western politics at its best.

Silliness: Something for the morning

Filed under: Society — zxq9 @ 08:25


To start the day off on a light note, I’ve got two parallel fables someone sent in a while back.


Old Version:
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.
Moral: God helps those who help themselves (or value work or whatever…)

Modern American/French/etc. Version:
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.
How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper, and everybody cries when they sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
Jesse Jackson stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, “We shall overcome.” Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.
Nancy Pelosi & John Edwards/Barak Obama/[insert other opportunist Democrat handy with a ZX2000 Blamethrower here] exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.
The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.
Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the grasshopper in a defamation suit against the ant, and the case is tried before a panel of federal judges that Bill Clinton appointed from a list of single-parent welfare recipients.
The ant loses the case.
The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it.
The ant has disappeared in the snow.
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.
Moral: Be careful how you vote.

2007.11.1 13:29

We’ve been around this block how many times now?

Filed under: Politics / Geopolitics — zxq9 @ 13:29




It is important to remember that we are covering the same ground we’ve covered countless times in our ancestors’ days. With that in mind, I found a Rudyard Kipling bit that strikes me as significant as I think about my time in the Third World:

Take up the White Man’s burden / The savage wars of peace-
Fill full the mouth of Famine / And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest / The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly / Bring all your hope to nought.

He wrote this on the occasion of the US taking possession of the Philippines. To fully appreciate the joke requires a dash of Philippine historical knowledge, a pinch of first-hand experience in the Third World and a little understanding of Rudyard Kipling’s perspective on things.

This is some of the best comedy the world never seemed to get.

Episode IV: A New Hope

Filed under: Admin — zxq9 @ 12:49




Blogging, as this is called, is a frustrating hobby. This is due to the unreliability of the free hosting providers out there. Hopefully this one will work out better, since I’m paying for it. Paying for stuff has its distinct advantages: there are now no ads on my site unless I am getting paid for them to be there, nobody is pushing any agenda to drive traffic this way or that accept for me, and I can do anything and host anything I want in this space now. Much better. Not bad for $5/mo, considering how much hosting used to cost.

So this is iteration 4 of my site. I let the other versions sink into that weird state of cyber-decay that dead sites tend toward on their way to eventual oblivion. I have saved a few articles that folks requested I keep alive from their days over at 360… I was surprised about that, since was certain nobody had ever read anything I wrote in the first place.

Anyway, here you have it, the new site. I’ve titled it “The Intellectual Wilderness” after the suggestion of one well-spoken detractor (read as “whiny ultra-liberal emo/goth-tard).


Filed under: Ancient Posts — zxq9 @ 11:22


Another month without a blog entry. I’ve had my head out of the news for a bit… but this story is good enough to bring me back to write again. Its great…

A 2nd-grader got suspended from school for drawing a picture of a gun. Granted, the picture is of a stick figure pointing the gun at another stick figure. The figureds are labelled “Me” and the other had someone else’s name above it (there is no mention in the story of whose name it is, though, so I’d like to assume that its “Osama bin Ladin” for the sake of argument… or at least “Al Gore”). Upon futher investigation, the 90 degree angled crayon line that is the “gun” is supposed to be a depiction of a water gun according to the artist, but that is of no concern… you cannot draw what you want to in school.

I remember when I was in 2nd grade and we all made outlines of each other on huge butcher paper. You lay down and the other kids trace your outline, etc. My friend Owen Zahorczek and I added penises for realism, which seemed like a horrible funny gag when we were in 2nd grade. We didn’t get suspended though, we got told in a very stern way that this was inappropriate “for here” and had to re-do our tracings… We didn’t understand why it was wrong, just that the whole situation was horribly funny, but never did it again… even though I distinctly remember the teachers laughing about it among themselves thinking we couldn’t hear.

I remember a friend of mine from those days drawing guns and tanks, etc. all the time. I did the same. I think everyone did. We had GI Joe back then, not Tinkie Winkie, and my father taught me to shoot since I was very young (which was normal where I grew up) so this made sense. Of course, my generation never shot anyone in school either…
that’s striking to me. We’ve had schools in America since before the Revolution. We’ve been awash in guns since before the Revolution as well (if you don’t know anything about the American Revolution maybe you got suspended for drawing too many guns…). We also had fairly rigid nuclear family structures (sometimes more than one wife-figure in the family, though… hmm…) since before the Revolution, but have only recently decided that this was too old fashioned for the present day… and we’ve never had school shootings or civil violence from the sedated sub-urban youth population until just now. So its obviously the fault of guns, not the abandonment of the age-old family premise.

The kid also drew a cyclopes (much scarier than a gun), King Tut (responsible for the mass-murder of adversaries), a ghost and a tree. Luckily he didn’t draw a ghost-tree though, because that would get him kicked right out, as would a machine-gun version of King Tut.

But you can listen to disruptive, sexual-violence promoting music at school when you’re 10 yeard old and that’s freedom of speech.

Where are our priorities? I think we’re in denial about the responsibilities of individuals for their own actions. But that’s beating a dead retard… everyone says that without contemplating what that means.

Anyway, this isn’t organized at all. I’ll have to come back and fix this up to reflect the appropriate level of ridiculousness this situation is master of…


Filed under: Ancient Posts — zxq9 @ 11:13


I don’t usually talk smack about Russia, not for a lack of material but because Russia has lately been of trifling importance in my world; when I can spend a minute on China or a minute on Russia, China usually wins.

But not today.

Former (and the last) Soviet President Gorbachev (remember the guy with the jelly stain on his bald forehead you may have seen on TV in the 80’s?) decided that it is time to draw attention to the way Putin has been angling to reestablish totalitarian control over the people of Russia, draw the former Soviet satellite States back into a rough orbit, and antagonize the rest of the developed world. The fastest (but certainly not best) Russian route back to superpowerdom would be to reinstitute total control, stifle the market economy, kill everyone who disagrees, and return to forced labor, as per left-wing socio-communist procedure.
The most important piece of such a social shortcut would be to reinstitute political myths of the sort Stalin was famous for… and in fact, this is what is happening.

But its a little more scary than that. The Authority in Russia (and I say it that way to mean the unified will of the Authorized Ones, not just Putin himself) is not simply recreating historical myths and rewriting history, they are recreating the Stalin myth itself. This is easier than Putin-izing all the former Soviet history because everyone who was previously programmed to think Stalin was the Saviour of the People (and other such flimsy titles with currently bring Kim Jong Il to mind) don’t have to learn anything new, they only have to learn additional things, such as how Putin is carrying on the legacy, and how horrible of a person Gorbachev is. Its nuts to think that you could actually whitewash Stalin’s crimes or justify them in any way, but nothing is impossible when you exert enough control over what people think and/or believe is morally right.

There are plenty of examples in history of horrible things being remembered as good, marginally bad things being written down as horrible, horrible things not being remembered at all, horrible things that never even happened being fabricated for political gain, and horrible things being completely forgotten (perhaps scariest of all?). If Putin succeeds in making the Russian population generally agree that Stalin was a good thing and that his reign was a “Golden Age”, it will rate on the same level as Mao making the worst famine in history disappear in the minds of the people that it happened to. [Here is another good China famine link.]

Take a moment to remember what the Soviet really was and contemplate on it. Then watch this: The Soviet Anthem (don’t worry, in English), to help put a face on things. Its sad and frightening if you fully appreciate the human condition.

Other scary new that nobody seems to care about: Syria has nerve gas. Whoops…


Filed under: Ancient Posts — zxq9 @ 11:12


The Iranian president decided that the nuclear issue is over. Over as in he’s not discussing it anymore. When even countries like France begin talking about bombing a place because of its continual criminal conduct (as opposed to the previous French method of paying people for beince nice, and paying them more for being bad), its probably not a good time to call it quits and run away from the negotiating table.

Anyway, war is what Iran wants. In a limited way. It does not want a full-out invasion, beacuse that would involved a regime change and that would personally affect the leadership. They want a limited war, so when the tiny bit of dust settles they can do what Hezbullah did and claim abroad victory simpyl by not having been completely wiped out.

Whatever. I’m sick of Middle Eastern politics and Islamic dictatorships – official, elected or otherwise – at least for today. I’m too tired to write anything that would matter. I suppose that is always the case, though, considering that there is ample information that the Islamic world puts out on its own that unambiguously state their goals and methods. So I’ll can up about it. Iran says nuclear talks are over = eventual use of force by someone (probably after a lot of meaningless political blather in the 1st World and an equal amount of meaningless yelling for blood in the Islamic world…). Not that that’s any different. If Iran gets the bomb, they will use it or at least threaten to, and the 1st World will obliterate Iran. Maybe that is a better outcome afterall… Hmmm… ?


Filed under: Ancient Posts — zxq9 @ 11:11


It seems today that Hardees and Carl’s Jr. (nearly same burger place, depends on where you live as to what you call it) have decided that the transition between food when its alive and food when its dead is a bigger deal than before.

I’m not trying to be insulting to animals or anything, but its not like they have a Bill or Rights… or a Constituion, either. Anyway, its their right to not die the same way they’ve been dying for thousands of years at the hands of us hungry omnivores. Its also their right to not be kept in cages, including when they are about to take that life-changing process that moves them from the “I’m going to eat that walking thing over there” zone to the “I’m going to eat that dead thing on my plate” zone.

When it comes to food animals, I don’t really see what the difference is anyway. Its not like I believe in delberate maltreatment of animals or anything, but isn’t there enough work to be done keeping animals safe who are not bred with the explicit intent of being killed and eaten at the earliest marketable opportunity?

Life feeds on life. That’s how things run in this giant solar-panel of an ecosystem. I suppose I’m required to appologize for having been born a partial meat-eater.

Strange side-note: Nobody seems to give a damn about fish suffering. Maybe because fish aren’t cut and furry, are much more difficult to make friends with and are generally alien invaders rarely seen anywhere terrestrial other than the dinner plate… which is right where they belong… yum yum… I found it highly ironic that the last person to get on a soap-box with me in person about animal cruelty did so while eating lobster at dinner with me… I think she doesn’t know much about how lobsters are prepared…


Filed under: Ancient Posts — zxq9 @ 11:07


Remember when I wrote that big long piece about the Chinese economy not being in healthy shape exactly a month ago? Well… check this out: obvious evidence of Chinese government panic over inflation. This is just the beginning, as I had mentioned before. This will be a very interesting thing for you to watch if you’re an economist, economics student, business student, into civil or business law, or generally interested in seeing evidence of how government meddling in economic affiars is a bad thing – other than existing examples of shitty economies everyone ignores in the race for new unneeded regulations such as: France, Russia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, etc…

Something to note for those of you who haven’t seen the flip side of the general “economic expansion” percentage that gets bandied about in the media with no explanation for the uninitiated viewers at home:

The inflation spike came amid a boom that saw China’s economy expand by 11.9 percent last quarter, while stock and real estate prices are soaring. The country’s main stock index hit a new high of 5,460.08 points on Thursday morning.

High percentages are not always a good thing. There is a balance to it all and the more important number than “expansion” is “sustainable growth index”. For some reason, sustainment is something companies, governments and the media all neglect to think about most of the time with exception of the USA and (now) Japan.

I know, boring article on economics, but this is the sort of thing that drives wars and wars and cultural hatred tend to drive even more interesting events that war itself… which tend to roll back to economics… so its all related, and in that frame China’s upcoming problems are very interesting indeed! Of course, the above run-on sentence applies to normal human resource/power struggle wars that are so typical in history, not to the most present current war, which is one of ideological domination. Fortunately, those always fail. WHEW!

Sorry I haven’t been posting for the last two weeks or so if you’ve been following along. I don’t have anything but typical bloggish excuses for you: I’ve been busy. Moving… er, rather, helping a friend move… then getting hit with two typhoons last week (whoever drives those things knows how to aim for the weekends… grrr…) and covering down on a lot of things at work that are ordinarily not my job.


Filed under: Ancient Posts — zxq9 @ 11:05


I woke up at a little after midnight last night and went outside to stretch my legs. I looked up, and wouldn’t you know it, the Moon was out. Its about 1/2 right now, nothing unusual… accept that I noticed the Moon has an odd angle to it. Why odd? Odd because I’ve never seen any reference to the angle of the Moon’s crescent at different times of the year.

I thought back to the story of how Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, etc. figured out that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, and eventually deducted to a relatively high degree of accuracy the motions of the Earth, Moon and planets about the Sun. Eventually some of these motions were reasoned out a little further and made more sense of by Sir Isaac Newton through his physical laws and the initial theories of gravity.

That seems a lot of work to me. Hugely a lot of work considering that measuring the movements of the planets is not very easy as they are very small to look at from here and it takes a huge amount of time to register them with much accuracy as you have to wait through several years of accurate observations to finally start getting a picture of what’s going on up there. Lucky for Kepler, Tycho Brahe – drunk though he may have been – financed a huge catalogue of accurate observations. Whew! Kepler spent what I now feel was an inordinate amount of time working out the heliocentric calculations necessary to explain mathematically that things travel in an elipse around the Sun and our observations of other planets get skewed since we’re moving around it too.

This brings me back to the moon. We’ve been taking observations of the moon ever since the lunar religions took hold, and maybe before. Who knows. Its thousands of years anyway, and there are numerous monuments all over the world that mark the Moon’s passage very accurately. The Moon’s cycle is very short, you can observe the Moon rise and set in the same 24-hour period, and its close enough to not only mark where and when it passes, but exactly what it looks like, including the angle of the glow. In fact, the angle of the Moon’s glow is what caught my attention last night… that angle being precisely perpendicular to the Sun at all times. Isn’t that obvious? It strikes me as the most easily observable hint of where the Sun is in relation to us, and for some reason that was overlooked for thousands of years. Improbably overlooked, I should say.

To see how obvious it is, I pointed at the center of the Moon, then drew my finger along a line from the center, through the center of the shine, all the way down to the balcony ledge I was standing beside. I thought about it for a bit, and it all made perfect sense why the moon was at such an angle last night. Instead of going straight up or down, my finger went down at an angle to the north. Its summer now in Okinawa, and I reckon that with no other devices or foreknowledge I could guess with relative accuracy the latitude of Okinawa just by making such rough calculations as pointing from the Moon’s center to the edge of my balcony (it being perfectly plumb) every few nights at certain times throughout a year.

So now my point: This is such an obvious process and the hint is so glaringly present that I am shocked now that the story everyone learns about the human discovery of the way our solar system is ordered is built around such a difficult and indirect process as planetary observations. It seems like this is more the story of humans ignoring the present and obvious as opposed to taking fresh looks at the observable world around them.

Weird. Almost disturbing in a way. What other staggeringly important and obvious shorcuts in observational sciences are we tuning out today I wonder? I suppose its as Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman always maintain, “The solution to any problem is obvious to someone.” So the solution, as in open-source software development is to expose as many problems to as many sets of eyes as possible and then coordinate an effort? Pheh… anyway, I’m getting out of the scope I wanted to write within.

Sorry to bore the folks who come here to read only about internatinal bickering, war, and social upheaval.

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Powered by WordPress