Category Archives: Incoherent Raving


What I am going to be talking about here is freedom. Not in the sense of Preserving Our Liberties and Fighting The Great Government Conspiracies, but the things that really impact our personal lives.

Not that government encroachment on our traditional liberty isn’t a worrying trend, and I may touch on it now and then, but for the most part family, careers, and our personal decisions have a much greater impact on what we can and can’t do. Not even the most repressive totalitarian government is going to lock down your life like a new baby will. It’s not unusual now for people to spend more hours working than sleeping, which doesn’t leave much time for anything but work, getting ready for work, getting to and from work, and sleeping. And if you’re working and have a new baby, may God have mercy on your soul.

How do you balance the obligations of friends, family, and work, and still find time for yourself? Have you ever seen a year go by and realized at the end of it that you didn’t reach any of the goals you had set yourself? These are important questions to me, and I think to other people as well. For over a year now I’ve been trying to balance the demands of my consulting business with my own desire to spend as much time as possible with my son, not always with great success. I don’t claim to have any special wisdom, but I’ve learned a few things in that time and I hope to learn more in the future.

This blog is something of an experiment. I’m going to ramble here as I have time and something to say, and I hope that some people may find what I have to say useful. I don’t have comments enabled here, for various reasons, but anyone is free to email me at I may quote you in a future post, so if you don’t want that be sure to say so in your email. I hope to hear from someone other than spammers.

Just a Reminder

Your bank cannot be trusted. They will steal money from you by any means available, at any time, and call it a ‘fee.’ You can often call and yell at them and get the fee waived, but it’s a pain in the ass and they count on most people not doing it.

But what can you do? You have to use them. Bastards.

Rogue’s Gallery

When I look at the herd of Presidential aspirants, my main thought is, “Good god, one of these is going to be President?”

At times like this I wish it were possible to vote “None of the Above.” And if NOTA won, the office would sit vacant while the electoral process started over again. Never happen, of course; among other things, it would show up how little we need our elected officials.

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again

It’s that time of year again, when most people in the United States waste time resetting clocks. I always get a reminder the day after the time switch; my two-year old son’s sleep schedule is thrown all out of whack. He sleeps late and is cranky in the morning, and doesn’t want to go to sleep in the evening. This makes me and his mother cranky as well. It takes about a week to get him settled back in.

Daylight Savings Time is one of the greatest boondoggles ever put over on the American Public, right up there with trickle-down economics (which was at least honest; Reagan pretty much came right out and said that the rich would trickle all over the poor). It is supposed to save energy, though everyone knows it doesn’t, and now there’s proof. Hell, DST kills people, when an already sleep-deprived American public takes to the roads the following Monday.

Daylight Savings Time. It actually causes people to use more energy, it disrupts people’s sleep schedules, causing traffic accidents and an incalculable amount of misery and grouchiness. (How many more mistakes do workers make on the Monday following the ‘spring forward?’ Would you want to buy a car built on that morning?) So, then, why do we stick with it? Who benefits from all this extra expense and misery? As near as I can tell, only one group. Only one group of people is wholeheartedly in favor of Daylight Savings Time.


Yes, golfers. No matter what price other people may pay, they have an extra hour of daylight and can get in an extra hole or two of golf.

Keep that in mind as you blunder your way through the day, wishing you could take a nap. If you happen to meet a happy golfer do all of us a favor. Kick him in the balls.

Golf balls, of course. What did you think I meant?

A Taxing Time

It is, once again, time for all good citizens to send thousands of their hard-earned dollars to their penurious Uncle Sam, who, let’s be honest, is probably going to just blow it all on hookers and cocaine.

The whole Earth is covered up in tax-time advice, and I’m not going to try and add to that. I’m just going to point out something equally obvious.

If anyone wanted to bring about the downfall of the United States Government, there’s no need to waste time stocking up on RPGs in their secluded compound in Montana. Just do away with the payroll withholding tax. Require everyone to write a check for the full amount of their tax bill on April 15th. That would destroy the government twice over.

First, people would be horrified at outraged at the sudden realization as to how much they actually pay.

Second, hardly anyone would actually have the money to send.

Which, of course, is where there is a withholding tax in the first place. The…probe doesn’t hurt quite as much if it’s slid in just a little bit at a time.

Happy Tax Day.

For The Children

I was knocking around the web last week, hitting the usual variety of sites that I read to keep up on what is going on in the world and came across a link to a WSJ essay by Peggy Noonan. It was a good essay, about how America’s political leaders are out of touch with the common people and the indignities that are regularly heaped on them. The actual content doesn’t matter much, though, particularly as it has since rotated off the WSJ’s site. What really struck me was the picture accompanying the article. This picture.


I know it’s probably a staged picture. That doesn’t matter. It was the thought of my little boy being in that position that got to me.

We haven’t had to travel by plane since he was born. We haven’t traveled much by plane since 9/11, for that matter. Everyone in America knows what it’s like, though. Even if you haven’t flown you’ve heard the stories. The long lines, the pointless indignities and silly rules, supposedly in the name of security but we all know better. Is there anyone who doesn’t realize that taking off your shoes and only carrying very small bottles of liquid doesn’t do anything at all to make air travel safer? At best, it’s a big humiliating dog and pony show all so the government can say they’re Doing Something. We all know how silly it is. We all know one other thing, too.

We know that you’d better not say anything about it. Keep your eyes down, don’t do anything to be noticed, don’t talk back to the security people. Be quiet and obedient or things will go very very badly for you.

Be afraid.

Much of what passes for public policy in the United States these days is based on fear. Fear that the terrorists will get us. Fear of losing our jobs, and our home. Fear of not being able to keep up a middle class lifestyle in the worsening economy, and slipping down into the terrifying abyss of the poor.

Fear of what will happen if you tell that cop or TSA guard what you really think.

When did we Americans become so afraid? Is this really what we have been reduced to? Shuffling along in our stockinged feet, obeying the silliest rules, not out of fear of what some terrorists might do but out of fear of what the people who are nominally there to protect us will do.

When did our own government become more frightening than the people they are supposed to be protecting us from?

And, more to the point, how do you, as a parent, pass that fear along to your children? How do you explain to that small child, who looks up to you as a superhero, that daddy (or mommy) has to do whatever these people tell him to do, no matter how demeaning, or they will take him away?

How do you tell your child that he or she must do whatever the people in uniform say, or something bad will happen? Stay in your place, obey orders, or the men in uniform with the clubs and guns will take you away.

Is that what we want to teach our children?

People around the world are afraid of America. Not just our enemies — it is good for our enemies to fear us — but our friends too. Fewer tourists still visit us from overseas than seven years ago, before 9/11 and the subsequent hysteria, despite the fact that our currency is now practically worthless and we’re a bargain for rich foreigners. It’s not terrorists they are afraid of. It’s our government. It’s us.

The United States is not, for all of our problems, a terrible place. There are many worse countries in the world. But neither are we the place we once were. Once America was a place where nearly everyone wanted to go, a place where you could be free and your children could have a better life.

There was a time when we said to the world, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Now we say, “Papers, please.”

Look around you the next time you are in an airport, or standing in line at some government office, or waiting to go through some security checkpoint. Look in a mirror. Look within yourself. Ask yourself, “How did we get here? Is this the kind of country I want to live in, my children to grow up in?”

Is this the best we can do?

The Pillars of Civilization Shaken

A terrible crisis has been averted, at least for now.

You’ve probably heard about this so-called ‘Credit-Crunch’ that the United States is going through, but I will summarize very briefly. In the simplest terms, financial institutions and consumers in the US lent and borrowed so poorly, so stupidly, that the the system was in danger of grinding to a halt, with people and businesses only able to lend or borrow with great difficulty.

Obviously, that would be a terrible situation. Home prices in some markets would fall down to the point where middle-class families could afford them. People would have to live within their means, and might even begin to dig out from under a crushing burden of debt. Companies would have to manage their resources sensibly.

Spending, in short, would no longer exceed earnings. Taking out a home equity loan to go on vacation and buy a big screen HD TV would no longer be the order of the day.

Of course, some people would (and may yet) lose a lot of the stuff they bought that they couldn’t pay for, which would make them very upset.

Obviously this would never do. The financial institutions called up their friends in Washington and the government sprang into action with a rapidity hardly ever seen from our ponderous bureaucracy. A Bill was quickly thrown together, promising that the US Taxpayers (that’s you) would give the financial institutions hundreds of billions of dollars, no strings attached. But that Bill wasn’t bad enough, so they went back and put in a bunch of other crap, to make sure everyone got a little bit of the pie the taxpayers were so generously serving up. That passed, of course.

To paraphrase BusinessWeek, Wall Street and the US financial firms in general want the government to stay out of their business; they want no regulation or government oversight at all. But when they get in trouble, they want the government — meaning the taxpayers — to bail them out. This is exactly like a young adult who does not want his parents to have any say in how he (or she) conducts his life, but who wants them to pay his bills for him when they get to be too much. We wouldn’t put up with that from our kids, but we’ll send billions to people we don’t even know, just because they say they’d like to have it, thank you very much.

And, of course, because they threaten us with Financial Armageddon if we don’t give it to them. Government, remember, is all about fear.

Remember; saving is Un-American and will be punished. If you’re not over your head in debt, the government hates you and will take your money in order to help people who are over their head in debt. If you’re not willing to go into debt yourself, the government will do it for you.

Isn’t it nice of your Congressmen to do that for you? The Wall Street executives, running their companies into the ground and then bailing out with hundred-million dollar bonuses, appreciate your patriotic generosity.

After The Counting

There has been a lot of fuss about the recent election here in The United States. The Democrats, of course, are smug. The Republicans, well, some (not all, but some) are in a positive frenzy of angst, predicting the end of freedom and the coming Socialist Apocalypse.

I pretty much don’t give a damn. I’m more concerned about getting done some necessary home repairs and wondering what kind of drapes the wife is going to pick out for downstairs.

I am, you see, a real independent, not a “can’t make up my mind” independent. My beliefs do not fit neatly into the obligatory party line of either party, but I will throw my weight, such as it is, behind whichever party seems to best suit the needs of the moment. Typically, that means that I am opposed to whichever party is in power at the moment. This time I supported Obama, because of the gross incompetence of the current regime. Next time around I might support someone else. I’ll see how things look then.

The one unwavering plank in my party platform is a firm belief in personal freedom. In being left the hell alone. Neither party is even vaguely committed to that. It’s not even a talking point. As far as that goes, the only difference between them is that the overlap of which freedoms they want to restrict is not 100%. (The rule of thumb, not entirely accurate, particularly in the current changing economic climate, is that Democrats want to regulate the economy and Republicans want to regulate morality. It works as at least a vague guideline.) As the man sang, everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost.

Beyond that position, I don’t much care. The form of government doesn’t matter much to me. Democracy, Republic, Kleptocracy, Monarchy, whatever; if they’ll leave me alone, I’m fine with it. Hell, I’m not even irrevocably wedded to capitalism. Capitalism is great at finding the most efficient way to do certain things, at least on quarter-by-quarter bottom-line basis, but efficiency is not necessarily the highest goal in human society. (Maintaining nursing homes and orphanages isn’t efficient. It would be much more efficient to kill the old people and enslave the orphans. There have been societies that did exactly that, but we do not admire them for it.) A far-right society ruled by the unrestrained greed of huge corporations would be as much a nightmare to live in as a far-left society ruled by the all-powerful State.

Besides, capitalism is a system of shortages, limited resources. “Supply and demand.” As technology evolves, and we move out into space, where the resources and the energy to exploit them are practically infinite, how will capitalism work? We could be facing that situation as soon as a century or two from now, maybe sooner. That’s not all that far in the future; my grandchildren, if any, may live to see it.

So forgive me if I can’t get too worked up over which set of thieves gets to rob us for the next four years. I think we’d be better just picking people at random; then we at least might get someone honest and competent.

Wait, What?

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

Why History Matters

A friend mentioned that she wasn’t very good at history, and I’m afraid my reply ran a little long. It’s a subject that has fascinated me almost since I first began to read, oh so many years ago. (Clay tablets back then. This fancy ‘paper’ stuff hadn’t been invented yet. It was a LONG time ago.) So, for the edification of the masses, I have reproduced my latest sleep-deprived ramble on why you should know something about history.

The problem most people have with history is the way it’s taught. They just get a bunch of names and dates to remember, and that’s it. The teachers don’t make the history come alive, and they don’t make it relevant. People will learn something if it’s interesting, and they’ll learn something if it’s dull but important, but something dull and meaningless, not so much.

The problem isn’t history, it’s the teachers. History is the story of how people used to live, and how we got where we are today. History let me predict exactly what would happen when we sent troops into Somalia, and Iraq. You’ve heard the old sayings about history repeating itself? Not true.

Brown’s Law of History: History doesn’t repeat itself. It just gives pop quizzes to see if you were paying attention.

If you know history, it is much harder for governments to fool you. You have perspective. If you can draw on a pool of knowledge five thousand years deep of what people and governments and societies do, you have a much greater understanding of what is going on in the world around you than someone who only lives in the TV news cycle of three days or so.

For example: April 2003. US forces are preparing to invade Iraq. Think on this quote, from nearly 60 years before:

“Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. …Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” — Hermann Goering

It gives some perspective, doesn’t it? Look at those last two sentences. Doesn’t that precisely sum up US foreign policy over the last several years? It has worked exactly that way for, literally, thousands of years. Some tricks work well enough that they stay in use for a very, very long time.

Back in ’89, right after the Berlin Wall came down and all the media were talking about the end of war and all like that, a friend of mine asked me who I thought the next enemy was going to be, now that The Commies were gone.

“Islam,” I said without hesitation. “We’re going to go back to the old enemy.”

It took a little longer than I thought, but I was dead on. Because I knew the history.

Of course, being so clever hasn’t done me much good, has it? I still have to work for a living.

History isn’t the only important thing to know, but it does matter.