Monday, May 21, 2012

Une substance plus libre ! (More Free Stuff!)

We very seldom discuss the situation in France, mostly because the whole country is absolutely crawling with Frenchmen, which tends to make the subject uninteresting; and furthermore, because every day there are countless Muslim immigrants from appalling, grim, violent, impoverished and filthy backwaters of the earth coming in across the country's borders daily—which makes the subject depressing.

Why do these immigrants come? What possesses them to make that hard slog? A desire for a better life, perhaps?

Apparently the immigration procedure for these new ersatz French citizens is to (1) spend the first day signing up for the generous French dole available to all newcomers, the newcomers' multiple wives, and their extremely multiple children; and then (2) spend the second day—and every day thereafter—demanding that France accommodate itself to their imported cultural idiosyncrasies, and, moreover, that France modify itself as a whole to more closely resemble the appalling, grim, violent, impoverished and filthy backwaters of the earth from whence they came.

The attitude amongst these new unassimilated Frenchpersons seems to be: "We came all the way here from barbaric, medieval hellholes thousands of miles distant. The least you infidel garlic-eaters and frog-swallowers can do is to change your country to be just like those places—you know, so we'll feel at home."

But never mind about all that.

The big news of late is that for the first time in something like 36 years, France has elected an avowed socialist president. This is unusual in that it is a break from the regular French habit of electing semi-closeted socialists who pretend to be something else until they are found out. At least this new president can, right at the outset, say what he plans to do, in proud socialist fashion: suspend the laws of economics.

He's pledged to raise the minimum wage in order to promise France's large number of unemployed the fair and properly generous income they would get if they had jobs (which because of the new minimum wage they are now less likely to get, since they're now even more expensive to hire). An unemployed Frenchman can stand taller today, knowing that although his services may be required by nobody, they will soon be worth X francs more to nobody because the French government says so. He will henceforth be unemployed at a higher rate.

The new president-elect, one Francois Hollande (whose last name looks like "Holland" but sounds something like "Oleander") has pledged to set the official nationwide retirement age back to 60, from the dizzying draconian heights of SIXTY-TWO to which the heartless President Sarkozy recently got it bumped, in a baby step toward trimming long-term government obligations.

Twenty-year-old French men and women, to whom the age of 60+ lingers on a distant horizon, nevertheless took to the ramparts and rioted a bit when they got that news. Mostly because, well, rioting is fun; smashing things and setting fires is a hoot; and it's not like they had jobs to go to or anything.

Sarkozy stood firm on the issue (uncharacteristic for a Frenchman); but the New Guy, with a sharp eye on the presidency and a wet finger in the air, discerned a storm brewing which he correctly deduced could blow open the front door of the Elysee Palace and usher him right in.

After all the recent talk all over the continent of the necessity of (shudder) austerity, of how adjustments need to be made and realities faced, Monsieur Hollande courageously stepped right up and promised a break from reality, and the dreamy reestablishment of the Republic's commitment to the 35 hour work week, the five weeks—or is it six?— a year of vacation, the unsackability (if I may), of French employees (once hired, impossible to fire)—in sum, to all the goodies which the noble citizens of France have bestowed upon themselves through their votes, and have come to expect—no, demand!—will continue into perpetuity.

More bread! More circuses! In thoroughgoing socialist fashion, it is not for Monsieur Hollande to be inconvenienced regarding how these things will be provided, nor by what group or what mechanism; it is his bailiwick only to promise that they will be provided, leaving those unpleasant details to lesser men.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unfreedom Tower at Ground Zero

Just for fun, let’s assume a really fanciful, almost unimaginable set of circumstances - a real screwball fantasy:

Let’s say that a group of religion-drunk psychopaths with dreams of paradise fly a pair of commercial aircraft full of screaming passengers into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on, say, September 11th, 2001. Let’s suppose they kill, oh, thousands of people.

Naturally, it could never happen. No group of people is that deluded, that self-destructive, that murderous. No religion would sanction - and sanctify - such a thing. But play along with me.

And let’s say that a few years down the road, a group of their co-religionists, led by a fellow who has opined in the past that the events of that date were not orchestrated by his peers, but by 1) the Jews, 2) the U.S. government, 3) unknown but definitely NON-Muslim parties, or 4) some combination of the above - let’s say that this group wants to build a massive “Islamic learning center” and mosque as close as possible to the two holes in the ground that are the footprints of those towers.

Of course, nobody would stand for that. The city council would vote him down. The public would run him out of the city. But let’s just pretend.

Let’s pretend that this fellow gets, say, $100 million in financing to build the thing (from undisclosed sources); that he plans to open it on the 10th anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001 (no symbolism there); and that - hold onto your seat - he wants to call this abomination “Cordoba House.”

Now, we know that something like this could never happen. Because we are reminded that Cordoba (Cordova) is the city where Muslims built their first huge mosque at the beginning of their conquest of Spain.

We are reminded that wherever Muslim warriors have conquered others, they have built gigantic mosques to demonstrate their conquest of, and superiority to, the conquered. And they’ve built them as close as possible to the conquered peoples’ sacred ground - often right on top of it.

The building hovering over Ground Zero would be a triumphalist mosque that would say, “We’ve made our mark in America - right here. We are conquering the land of the infidels. America is weak, and on her last legs. We’ll have the whole country groveling at our feet soon. This triumphal building is a symbol of our strength, and of the ongoing subjugation of America.”

Of course none of this could ever happen.

The only way to imagine it would be to first imagine a group of people who maintain and indeed nurture a hair-trigger sensitivity to the slightest inkling of a provocation, while expecting us to remain unprovoked; who tolerate nothing, yet expect us to tolerate this.

And we would have to imagine the local government and citizens of New York too numb and too feeble to be offended even by this outrage; too hobbled by political correctness and multiculturalist claptrap to object to even this: an Islamic victory tower standing in the bone dust of Ground Zero, celebrating the religious philosophy that turned that place into both mass grave and sacred ground.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Newsflash: Volcano Causes Cow Flatulence

A source tells me that the Icelandic volcano eruption that has been spewing ash and inconvenience all over Europe lately has negated every single effort we have made over the last half a decade to control the dreaded CO2 emissions that are CHOKING OUR PLANET and DESTROYING MOTHER EARTH and causing Al Gore to go all red in the face.

Can this be? Years of effort to recycle everything and waste nothing - and all we get is the short end of the enviro-stick?

I need another source on this story. Who could believe a volcano, one of Mother Nature’s special wonders, would turn on us like this? After all, volcanoes are part of nature, and nature is always natural, and everything natural is good. I’m guessing that volcano carbon is the GOOD carbon, and stuff like cow flatulence is the BAD carbon! But wait, cows are part of nature, too, so...

Ok, maybe volcanoes and cow flatulence are the GOOD carbon, and bike riding on the interstate instead of driving is bad, and... no, wait, bike riding is GOOD... So it's volcanoes and cow flatulence and bike riding that are good, and flying around on airplanes that is bad.

...Unless you fly around on airplanes going to climate change conferences where you listen to speeches about how to protect the world from people who fly around on airplanes for other reasons - selfish reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with SAVING THE PLANET.

Now we're getting somewhere. So volcanoes and cow flatulence and bike riding and flying for the RIGHT REASONS are good. Everything else is bad.

...Except for hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis, which can’t be bad because they are also natural - just more fine examples of Mother Nature’s wondrous bounty of delightful surprises.

So volcanoes and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis and cow flatulence and bike riding and flying for the RIGHT REASONS are good.

...Unless the volcanoes and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis are somehow caused by global warming, which has absolutely nothing to do with nature, and everything to do with humans driving around in SUVs.

So volcanoes and hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes and tsunamis and cow flatulence and bike riding and flying for the RIGHT REASONS are good, UNLESS some of those things are caused by global warming, which is all our fault and not a part of nature at all.

Everything else is bad, and makes more of the bad carbon, which kills plants and... but wait... plants live on carbon, and turn the planet green, and green is natural and therefore good (besides being everybody’s favorite color), and so carbon must be...

Ok, how about this: maybe the GOOD carbon makes the plants grow, and the cows eat the plants and emit the good flatulence, and then the right-thinking people eat the cows, which gives them the strength to ride their bicycles on the interstate and fly around on airplanes saving the world from other people who don't eat cows or ride bicycles...

This is very confusing.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Niels Bohr

Two waves and a particle walk into a bar...

I was not familiar with Niels Bohr and the Copenhagen Interpretation of the behavior—or misbehavior—of tiny little bits of things. I just thought the notion that "nothing exists until somebody observes it" sounded loony.

But now that I have had a chance to study the subject a little, and perused the theories of Niels Bohr, and Max Planck, and some of the other heavy hitters in the wave-versus-particle smackdown, I’m slightly better informed. Of course, it still sounds loony, but I’m warming up to it.

Max and the others are an impressive bunch, but Niels is way more fun.

According to my sources, the debate about whether elementary particles of matter really are particles or are in fact waves seems to have driven poor Niels to distraction; so, in order to stifle the debate—and probably to stifle some of the voices in his head—he came up with a couple of clever dictums.

Niels’ Greatest Hits #1: “When it looks like a particle, it is a particle. When it looks like a wave, it is a wave.”

That’s a nifty way to dispose of the argument, even though it smacks of—to say the least—an uncharacteristic abandonment of scientific rigor on the part of good old Niels. Uncharacteristic for a scientist, anyway. Rather than press on trying to solve the wave-versus-particle conundrum, he finally upends the apple cart and says: “It’s neither! It’s both! Whatever!” Not that I blame him.

Niels’ Greatest Hits #2: “It is meaningless to ascribe any properties or even existence to anything that has not been measured.”

This one is breathtaking; no wonder Niels got the big money. It combines a deft handling of the aforementioned with some kick-ass audacity. “Measure this, pal,” says Niels, knowing that it can’t be done. Brilliant! Furthermore, saying that nothing is real unless it’s observed is just a baby step from: “Nothing exists unless I say so.”

Frankly, I like it. It nourishes my pretensions to godlike power. Behold! I bring things into existence by the merest glance. Before me, nothing! Without me, nothing!

After me... well, I don’t know. If I bring things into being by looking at them, do I therefore render them nonexistent by looking the other way? Can I ignore things into oblivion? Once I bring a thing into being by observing it, do I need to appoint someone else keep an eye on it, lest it suffer from neglect and disappear?

Still left hanging is the question regarding how, if a thing didn’t exist before I cast my sacred visage its way, I managed to observe it. How did I know to look there? Damn, I’m good. Man-gods like Niels and me are amazing! I am in awe of my own divine powers.

Friday, August 01, 2008

When Nature Blows

"...thousands of people simultaneously went bug-eyed and slack-jawed over the following theretofore unpredictable consequence of a big-time hurricane..."

Yesterday, Barack Obama visited the "victims" of the Iowa floods. Wasn't that special? I hear things went well, inasmuch as nobody asked him anything like the following questions:
  1. Where the heck is FEMA?
  2. When do I get my check?
  3. What stadium should we hole up in?
  4. How long will it be before we start to cannibalize one another?
  5. Where are all the movie stars to lend their support?
  6. Did the Republicans blow up the levees?
  7. Is it true that George Bush hates rural Midwesterners?
  8. Where will we be housed, more or less indefinitely, at taxpayer expense?
  9. Why us? Good God, man, why is it always us?
  10. What's the best place to start looting?
Instead, they listened politely as Obama speechified; then they got back to the business of drying out anything that was still wet, and generally getting on with their lives.

Those fools! Where is the outrage? Where are their demands?


I lived through Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which, according to Wikipedia, was "...the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin." Hurricanes (like hurricane Katrina, for example!) usually give plenty of warning. We knew for several days that Wilma was coming, and that it would hit Monday morning.

So... Sunday I went out and 1) bought enough ice to fill all the coolers, 2) topped off the cars with gas, and 3) got some cash from the ATM. I already had a box in the garage marked “hurricane,” with batteries, battery powered lights, and a little battery powered TV, plus some small propane tanks that are part of the camping gear. I checked and had a full tank of propane for the grill. All that took less than an hour.

I like to procrastinate as much as the next fellow, but even I was able to manage that level of preparation.

Then the storm hit, and thousands of people simultaneously went bug-eyed and slack-jawed over the following theretofore unpredictable consequence of a big-time hurricane:

The power went out! The electrically powered gas station pumps didn’t work, so no one could buy gas who hadn't bought it already. The few enterprising gas stations with owners who eventually hooked up to generators were so popular that people sat in lines for as much as 12 hours at a time–and sometimes they still didn’t get gas, and had to return the next day for another long wait. There were occasional fistfights, and police had to manage the traffic.

As I say, the power went out. Therefore refrigerators and freezers were not functioning. After the first couple of days, a government agency was handing out bags of ice at various locations. People stood in lines for endless hours for their allotment of exactly two bags. Most of them had walked to get the ice because they happened to be the same people who hadn’t put gas in their cars prior to the storm. Then they walked home again. Before they got home, the ice had turned to water. Astonished, many of them started the whole process all over the next day, and the day after that, each time with—brace yourself—the same result!

Did I mention that the power went out? Generators were a hot commodity. Home Depot had them, in very limited supply. Three hundred people would begin to queue up four hours before the stores opened. The first thirty or forty people got generators. The rest went home and came back the next day, when (it was rumored) there might be a delivery of a few more.

Still, everybody handled the entire crisis with seamless grace and aplomb, compared with what happened in New Orleans.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Praise of Macintosh

"[Microsoft] Windows is like the earliest Ford automobiles: you can have any operating system you want, as long as it’s bleak."

Having worked for so long on a Macintosh, a far superior (and, admittedly, slightly more expensive) computer, I have been spoiled; and have lost touch with you afflicted proletarians, toiling under the grim and unforgiving aegis of the Microsoft Death Star.

It is easy for us, the enlightened and blessed minority, to forget what it’s like out there for the vast majority of the oppressed masses, cringing virtually every moment of your waking lives under a cruel lash of conformity and enforced dysfunction.

It’s not your fault: with no chance to compare that which is imposed by your Dark Overlords with that which is freely chosen—the dull and monochrome of Windows versus the full spectrum of freedom, light and color that is the Mac—how are you to know any different? Totalitarian regimes of every age have kept their subjects in the dark, shut off from any alternative way of being.

(Windows is like the earliest Ford automobiles: you can have any operating system you want, as long as it’s bleak.)

I didn’t want to feel superior. I have always been an enemy of class distinctions, even—no, especially!—in an instance like this, when I am comfortably ensconced in the bosom of the advantaged stratum. To the ramparts! Side by side with our disadvantaged brethren!

It’s not as if your cruel masters in Redmond haven’t made valiant efforts to at least make their flagship product SEEM friendly and, well, sensible—even sort of comparable!

Look how closely (if clumsily) the desktop on your computer has impersonated the one on mine: drop-down menus—check; mouse and pointer—check; desktop “icons”—check. 

These impersonations have been cleverly instituted and insidiously established by the faceless operatives of the Dark Side—gradually, with as little fanfare as possible, so that even the most observant of observers might easily forget, by and by, where those innovations originated; and might come to concur with the Bill Gates character in the film “Pirates of Silicon Valley” that all ideas, and especially the ones that have accumulated to make up the design of my desktop (and later, yours) are just “out there somewhere”—a part of the atmosphere we all breathe—and belong, therefore, to everyone, and thus to no one.

Blizzards of legal action have been triggered by the imitation of such desktop items as the Macintosh “trash can” (on a Windows desktop, the ‘greener-than-thou’ “recycle bin”); and the switch of the default orientation of external drives, new files and the like from the right side of the desktop (Macintosh) to the left (Windows). Whoa! I bet nobody saw that coming. “Whatever do you mean? That’s COMPLETELY different and therefore original!”

The “desktop,” by the way, is itself an innovation of the Mac, “adopted” elsewhere in due course.

But let’s not split more hairs.

Here we have scratched at the surface, literally—the part of the computer we all see every day. Let’s not carry on and dissect the whole of it—including what’s under the hood—and worry over who developed what, and who “borrowed” from whom. I think that pattern has already been established. To go further can only engender ill feelings.

Yours, I mean. Not mine. I’m happy with my computer. :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Welcome (Sort of) to AmeriKa

"We don’t know how the finest minds of the United States Congress were so fiendishly beguiled; [perhaps] some sort of brain-altering hypnotic trance..."

Dear Sir,

My wife and I are immigrants and have just completed our interview for naturalization. We hope to be sworn in, in due course, as citizens of this Great Country and be able to vote in the Nov. Presidential election. We have just been told at an Independence Day gathering that Pres. Bush has found a way to sign legislation into law, circumventing Congress, and has in fact passed several such laws (although no examples could be given). We find this very alarming. Is it true?

—Two New Citizens (maybe)


Dear Two New Citizens Maybe:

Sadly, it is true.

Thank you for your query. There are, as you probably know, many benefits to American citizenship, not least among them access to federal government jobs, and the right to get your whole family admitted to our shores, and likewise to get them set up with cushy government posts. What a country!

However, all is not rosy here in the so-called Land of the Free, thanks to George W. Bush and his cruel minions. You have been let in on a little secret that many long-standing citizens of this country still do not know: Bush has, indeed, found a way, as you write, to “sign legislation into law, circumventing Congress,” and he has in fact “passed several such laws.” The fact that “no examples could be given” is merely an indication of the depth and breadth of this sinister conspiracy to first destroy our Constitution and then blow up the world.

We first began to realize the power of the Bushies to influence events when they somehow persuaded the majority of Congress to vote for the “liberation” of Iraq. Liberation! What a laugh! More like, “oil grab for Halliburton”!

We don’t know how the finest minds of the United States Congress were so fiendishly beguiled (although our best guess is some sort of brain-altering hypnotic trance imposed by means of laser beams and subliminal messages broadcast on C-Span).

The important thing is that we know it WAS done; and furthermore, that it was not a “one-off” event, because every time a vote has come up in Congress to continue to fund this illegal war of genocide against the freedom fighters of Al Qaeda, the vote has ultimately gone Bush’s way. Coincidence? Not likely.

Setting aside the issue of HOW these evil pranks have been played, there remains the question of WHY. Are Bush and his foul cohort simply evil beings?

We’re thinking: yes! They’re Republicans, after all, which means they are all sexually repressed, moralizing, war-mongering, Bible-thumping retards with one brain between them (Karl Rove’s).

Stupid but devious, Bush’s vile toadies are running things now, and none of us are safe. They are spying on us all—listening to our phone calls, intercepting emails, snooping in our library records, and probably reading our very thoughts somehow.

They torture prisoners by squirting water in their noses; imprison enemy combatants without as much as a by-your-leave; and carry on their wicked foreign policy as if all the problems in the world were caused by terrorists and assorted foreign troublemakers, instead of the real source: the Dark Lord Dick Cheney.

It’s a grim picture, to be sure. But even a vicious parasite like George W. Bush can’t hold on to power forever. Come November, a new breeze with blow across this country, and it will carry with it a message of Hope and Change, Change and Hope as it purges the foul, stale stench of Republican chicanery from our weary midst.

And you, new citizens, will share in a new kind of Amerika. Welcome!