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Archive for August, 2011

This is the musical version of how I feel about the government.

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I’ve been on something of a hiatus from reading much news or surfing the internet for random daily tidbits of either hilarity or outrage for about a week since I’ve been bumming off somebody else’s data connection in a bit of a backwoods area with barely reliable service. So I’ve been blissfully unaware of any stupidity that has happened in the last week.

Fast forward to today when I heard there was an earthquake in Virginia and I decided I just had to read about it and found out that there really wasn’t much to get all worked up over. Even the West Coast has been mercilessly mocking the East Coast for their inability to get even basic earthquake safety right by ordering everybody into the streets – presumably to cushion any falling objects – as opposed to telling them to get under something until the ground stopped moving (hooray for government intelligence and efficiency!) Nothing particularly interesting there. Then I ran across this link and I just knew I had to make some comments about it.

First off, just so we’re abundantly clear on where I stand, I believe in God. So from this moment forward I don’t want to hear one word about my belief in God after that article. Not one. Because nothing about my belief in God anywhere near approaches the sheer lunacy embraced by the people who wrote this “study”. I believe in a God of science, who is bound by – as well as rules by – the natural laws of the universe. And no, that’s not a ridiculous statement. Humanity is making new discoveries in science daily and at this point can only theorize about anything, much less declare absolute natural law since every time we turn around there’s some new contradiction to what we once thought was absolute. I find it ludicrous to assume that just because we don’t know shit about natural law – for the love of God we don’t even know shit about most of the planet because the water is too deep – nobody else in the universe could either. Unless it’s aliens of course. Because it’s so much more rational to believe in aliens that are concerned about global warming here of all places rather than to believe in a God that actually has a reason to be interested in a planet in some cosmic backwater.

Think about it. As a species we’ve know about gravity since Newton got bonked on the head with an apple and it’s still classified as a theory – not a law, a theory – because it is not a universal constant and we still can’t figure out the way it changes based on variables we haven’t even discovered or just flat out can’t prove. So at this point I think it’s pretty safe to say I have a much firmer grasp on reality than the loons who are thinking that some alien race will descend on the earth to kill us all in order to save a little ball of dirt flying around a third rate star in a far-flung section of an arm in the Milky Way Galaxy. Pardon me while at this moment I revel in the fact that people (some of whom work for NASA, mind you) who would call me bat-shit crazy for believing in some “invisible floating man” (which nowhere near approximates my belief, but whatever they have to believe to make them feel superior to God-believing whack-doodles) can in all seriousness call for us to “limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems” based on their belief that it’s possible that aliens might detect our greenhouse emissions and decide to invade as a preventative measure to protect a podunk planet in a completely normal spiral galaxy in an infinite universe. Well, I’m certainly sounding more sane by the minute.

What it’s sounding like is that not only are we supposed to kick an already downed economy because of global warming climate change whatever-the-hell-it’s-called-now (I can’t keep up with the constant goalpost shifting), we’re supposed to add insult to injury by kicking it in the balls on the off chance that some alien race of Greenpeace activists is scrutinizing the cosmos for any hint of abnormally high or low temperatures on balls of molten rock that constantly change temperature. Man, if there really are aliens out there watching they must have been spending most of Earth’s history baked out of their minds (what, I’m supposed to believe they’re all eco-conscious and not raging hippies?) to miss all the warming and cooling trends this planet has gone through; or hey, maybe that’s why the dinosaurs really died; they were warming up the world so much as they expanded the aliens decided they had to go. Hmmm.

I really have to wonder at this point if these people watched The Day the Earth Stood Still (the new one filled with the PC bullshit) or Knowing one too many times and decided – not for the first time – that Hollywood is a great place from which to get civilization-altering policy ideas. Because you can’t go wrong getting advice from people who can’t even run their own lives without slamming into the occasional tree while blitzed on a substance made to alter one’s sense of reality. /sarc

And I’m the nutball? Please.

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Nope, not scary at all

I wish we would see more of this in the US. And I really don’t care that some people look at that and flip out. Because if they actually took the time to learn even a tiny bit about the object of their irrational fear, they’d know that there is no magazine in that rifle and almost certainly no round in the chamber so if that firearm was going to wreak any havoc in that Apple store it would be as a very poor imitation of a baseball bat – and believe you me, having handled my share of rifles, I can’t imagine that it would be easy, efficient, or comfortable to try to choke up on that barrel and swing away.

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This quote is right on.

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”
-Robert Heinlein

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As I’ve never been particularly strong in statistics (it was never an area I had a whole lot of interest in) I really don’t have the time or patience to do something like this post about Texas job and unemployment numbers over at the blog Political Math (which is written by Matthias Shapiro, the same guy responsible for the infamous “Obama Budget Cuts Visualization” video on YouTube as seen below).



Naturally I expect some people to completely disregard what this guy is saying because it’s makes a few points – somewhat between the lines though extremely obvious to anybody who wants to be honest with themselves – regarding the effects of heavy taxation and regulation on population movements and job locations. Whether you want to believe it or not, both high taxation and regulation have a negative effect on any economy, micro or macro, federal or state. Texas job numbers are not a fluke. Maybe a good topic for a blog post would be for me to find out what the tax and regulation climates are like in the states Matthias used to compare to Texas. It could be my own companion piece to his analysis of the Texas job numbers. Thoughts?

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I guess I could say that what’s going on in the UK is a surprise – but I’d be lying. If anybody had asked me 10 years ago how I thought things would turn out in a society that punishes citizens who are trying to protect themselves or their property while not even giving a slap on the wrist to criminals who, you know, actually commit crimes I would have told you’d be lucky to still have a country standing. Well, the UK is lucky to be standing, folks.

Even though I’ve been out of the loop due to travel and severely limited internet access, when I finally had some time to sit down and read some news and started seeing pictures of rioting in the UK my first thought wasn’t “Holy shit! What happened?” It was more like “I wonder what other obvious effects of bad policies are also hitting today.”

Here’s the thing: you can talk about how the rioters are just poor, underclass people sticking it to the man until Satan prances through the Golden Gates in a little pink dress screaming “I’m Shirley Temple!” and it won’t do a damn thing to stop them from lighting buildings on fire and endangering lives. If you want to consider me to be some kind of bitch for saying the police should be shooting the bastards, go right ahead. Because at this point I think it’s become abundantly clear that the British justice system has become so politically correct and ineffective that you could walk up to a British cop and give him a wedgie with the full knowledge you could probably successfully sue him if he arrests you.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read news stories coming out of the UK about some exasperated homeowner trying to protect their own property. Property that has been violated multiple times. So they get arrested because some little piece of shit that was raised under the mindset that telling him “no” would hurt his feelings and damage the poor little snowflake’s ability to function might scratch himself on barbed wire while trying to steal the guy’s garden tools and come down with a raging case of tetanus. This is nothing new. And people wonder why I have such problems with government involvement with anything outside keeping people from killing me or taking my stuff.

I mean, Jesus on toast, they can’t even get that right half the time and you want me to drop to my knees and thank my lucky stars that they want to give me “free” healthcare and “save” me from Oreos and the horrors of salt and fat? I think I’ll take my chances with the salt shaker and Double-Stuf Oreos.

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When I was a kid – and my family can attest to this – I spent what can only be described as an inordinate amount of time running around barefoot. From the backyard to the the street to the empty field next door, you could find me sans shoes. It was a sad day when I stopped walking around barefoot outside – mostly due to the stuff I would see getting dropped on the ground around where I was living (don’t ask).

Enter Vibram FiveFingers, which I’d seen before in an article on the internet and thought looked like some weird H.P. Lovecraft monster that had swallowed the wearer’s feet. Then they started popping up on the feet of people working out at the local gym and I became intrigued. Eventually I broke down and bought a pair because over the years I’d heard great things about barefoot running and the benefits it could have for your feet and legs – not to mention knee joints (the mention of which perked my ears right up since I had torn my ACL several years before), hip joints, and even you’re back. But the downside was that there was a significant chance you’d end up injuring your feet on stuff like little rocks. Basically, your run could end up being more of a bizarre firewalk dance down the street. So I ended up with a pair of TREKSPORTS because I decided I not only wanted to wear them in the city, I wanted to see what it was like hiking in them.

The first thing I should say is that I wish I had gone to Vibram’s website to check for available colors and ordered a pair of the female version in black. I have fairly thin feet, which means men’s shoes are usually too wide and with Vibrams that’s especially true due to the fact that the shoe has to almost fit like a second skin on your feet. There’s a bit of room on the sides, not so much that it’s noticeable if you’ve never actually worn the shoes before, but after buying a pair of women’s BIKILAS (which I will review momentarily) I realize I should probably get a pair of the women’s TREKSPORTS when I get the chance.

That being said, I by no means hate my TREKSPORTS; they are fantastic shoes. I’ve hiked in them twice (not much, I know, but it is something) and they are great hiking shoes. I could grip with my toes when going both up and down inclines, and was not just confined to using the heel or very rigid toe of my shoe on any rocks or toeholds I could find. I felt like I had more control descending, which ended up being a Godsend the second time I went hiking as my knee was in screaming pain by the time I started heading back to flat ground.

One critical thing I will say about the TREKSPORT is that it is not a great shoe for running if you’re going to be running on concrete or asphalt. I’ve tried it, and trust me, while the thicker sole may be great if you want to go trail running, it doesn’t do you any favors running on asphalt; it feels a bit like you’re stuck in limbo between really using every aspect of your foot – including your toes – and having too much of a sole to effectively do that.

Overall, if you are a trail runner or hiker looking for a minimalist shoe that will protect your feet from sharp rocks and sticks while still giving you the feeling of running barefoot in nature, these are your shoes.

Now on to the BIKILA, which I bought when I realized the TREKSPORT didn’t make a good “city running shoe”. The first thing I noticed when I put the women’s version on compared to the men’s was that there was a much more snug fit; it really felt more like a second skin because it’s a narrower shoe. That was the first thing that I liked. The second thing I liked was that I could feel the ground better when I was running and I felt like I was using my toes more. I absolutely hate running (it’s true) but I really liked running in these shoes. They were built specifically for running and it definitely shows.

They are not a good shoe to wear if you’re going to be on rough terrain. As the sole is thinner than the TREKSPORT, you will definitely feel much more poking you in the foot than you will likely find comfortable to deal with. But as an urban running shoe I’ve loved wearing them when running around the track. If you have ever wanted to get into barefoot running these are great shoes to do that.

The final shoe I’ll talk about is the KOMODO SPORT. I’ll just start out by saying I love these shoes. Of the three varieties of Vibram FiveFingers I’ve tried, they are by far my favorite ones. The heel strap is a nice addition as it gives you a better overall fit. Some people have said that the inner sole (the first time that Vibram has in included a removable one in their shoes, from what I gather) decreases the barefoot feel that you get in their other shoes, but I can honestly say that is not the impression I’ve gotten from wearing them around.

While they are designed as a multisport shoe, I’ve been wearing them much like a casual sneaker and I can’t speak highly enough of them. They’re one of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn, though I do wish the upper breathed a little better (they have a tendency to keep your feet very warm). One thing to note is that the size you wear in this design will probably be at least one size bigger than what you would wear in the BIKILA or TREKSPORT (I learned this the hard way).

This is by no means a comprehensive review of these three shoe designs. I just wanted to give you a general idea of what each shoe’s strengths and weaknesses are. I love the whole idea of minimalist footwear and I’d like to share that with everybody else.

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