June 23, 2006

One Man Not To Vote For

It is always nice when political candidates do something so heinous, cruel, and inhuman that they make it easy to scratch them from your mental list of potential candidates. Here is an article about US Senator Bill Frist that makes it clear that no sane, thinking human being would ever, EVER want such a man in the White House.

To summarize, while he was in medical school, he would go to the animal shelters, adopt cats, treat them as pets in his home for a while, then take them into the lab to perform fatal experiments on them. He justifies his acts by saying that they were in the name of medicine and science. He glosses over it by referring to all of this as something he did in the past, as though the decisions we make in the past don't form who we are now. Even worse, according to this article, Frist recently said something "about the power he felt when holding the last beats of a dog's heart in his hand."

The article says that, "To his credit, the future senator wrote that it was a "heinous and dishonest thing to do."" However, what he is referring to is the adopting of the cats as pets (animal shelters won't knowingly allow someone to "adopt" an animal if it is for "scientific research"), NOT to what he did to the cats in the laboratory.

When I look at my cats—their trust, their intelligence, their patience, their love—I can't imagine how any human being could take such a creature and deliberately subject them to pain, suffering, and death. And isn't this one of the warning signs of a psychopathic personality, that he tortures small animals for pleasure? Hiding behind science doesn't work when he has already made RECENT statements such as that about the power he felt when holding a dog's dying heart in his hands.

April 21, 2006

Another Post on Freedom

A while ago, when the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocate for rights in the digital age, alerted me to the fact that there are some in the entertainment industry who believe that viewers are obligated to view commercials on television—that, in fact, in those people's minds, viewers hardly have the right to go to the bathroom more than once every two hours or so—I thought that surely this was an isolated incident of a few someones who were out of touch with reality as the rest of us know it.

Apparently, however, Philips thought it was a good idea, and ran with it.

I am so glad that I disconnnected myself from the time sink that is television ten years ago. I've never regretted it, and I strongly encourage others to experiment with removing it from their lives.

For those of you who are wondering, yes, I do now own a television set, but it isn't receive any kind of cable or broadcasts; it is strictly for watching DVDs. But whether you watch television or not isn't the point. The point is that, if you do choose to watch it, you are entitled to watch what you want, and to skip or avoid that which you do not want. When companies begin to think that they own you—that you must either be forced to watch commercials or pay to be able to skip them when fast-forwarding on a recording you have made—then something is seriously out of balance here. In fact, if you are like most Americans and have cable service, you have already paid to watch anything you receive on your television. So, since you have already paid, why should you pay again for the privilege of not watching something?

(I will abbreviate my bootless rant on how cable television was promoted, back when it was first gaining strength, as a way to watch television that was free of commercials. Petitions were circulating asking the good, kind voters to permit cable television to come into the Santa Clara area back in the late 1960s/early 1970s, and that was the claim, right there in black and white: Cable television will not have commericals. Period. Hah, I say.)

If you want to do something about this, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Web site, join them, donate to them, write to your legislators, or do all three. Don't just sit there and complain later when you find yourself paying twice for advertising you never wanted to see once.

While on the subject of personal freedoms, take a look at this guy's Web log. I like how he thinks.

November 30, 2005

Boycott Chinese Goods

For many years, the People's Repulic of China (and how ironic is that for that country's name?) has continued to commit attrocities against humans. Because of this, I have avoided purchasing anything that is made in China. Yes, I know that the people selling the goods are not necessarily members of the People's Republic, but they are definitely supporting the People's Republic by paying them to manufacture goods (almost certainly using near-slave labor).

Now it seems they have also been committing atrocities against animals, brutally slaying cats and dogs for their fur. I won't detail the atrocities, but suffice it to say that there is a special place in the afterlife reserved for people who perform these acts.

I guess I am not surprised—if human life is not sacred there, then how much less sacred will "mere" animals be? But I am saddened. What can you and I do about it? Boycott all goods made in China. This includess books and such that are supposedly printed or made in Hong Kong; one insider told me that, with a wink and a nod, most such items are, in fact, printed or made in the People's Republic.

October 19, 2005

New Terms: Libertarian versus Coercive Collectivists

An attempt at normalizing definitions so that neither "liberal" nor "conservative" are themselves considered bad by their opposing counterparts. Instead, this Web page focuses on behavior and attitudes. He polarizes it, as so many do, but it is still a useful step in the right direction.

October 16, 2005

Taking Political Action: Easier Than Ever!

If you care about issues but don't think you have time to contact your elected representatives about those issues, take heart. The Internet has made taking political action easier than ever. Many groups, including, I am sure, some group that supports the same things you support, have Web sites providing very easy ways to send messages to your representatives. They will even write the letter for you. All you have to do is "sign" the letter with your real name and address and click the Send button. Easy peasy.

If you don't even know who your representatives are, you don't need to worry: These sites will look them up for you.

Furthermore, if you sign up for notifications, these sites will send you emails letting you know that an action needs to be taken. These emails generally have a link right to the page you need to sign. In two minutes, you can send an email (or, often, a fax or even a real letter) to your representatives, all at no cost to you. It couldn't get much easier.

The letter-writing process works, and it works really well. Without input from the voters, representatives have no way of knowing what people want, and they may vote in ways we don't like. Even just a few letters can sway them in one direction or another.

Here is an excerpt from an email I received from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in regard to an action I had taken recently.

"This is just a quick a note to say thanks for contacting Governor Schwarzenegger via EFF's Action Center and encouraging him to sign SB 370 - a bill intended to ensure that electronic voting machines use the voter-verified paper ballot as the official ballot of record.

We're pleased to say that your lobbying worked. Last week, over heavy opposition by California's Secretary of State and local election officials, the Governor signed that bill into law.

Matt Zimmerman, our attorney specialising in electronic voting issues, has fuller details at EFF's DeepLinks blog:

In short, it's another victory. Every day we hear more evidence that your personal letters and communications with elected officials make them think and ultimately wins their support. ..."

(Emphasis mine.)

So I strongly encourage you to start taking action by sending emails to your representatives on issues that matter to you. Even one letter a year is better than none. But make it fun! Set yourself some challenges, such as writing one letter a month, and see if you can beat your own challenge. You could decide to concentrate on one issue, such as the environment, and sign up for every site that takes political action in that arena. Or you could decide to spread your efforts over a larger area, taking action at several different sites on several different issues. The important thing is to do something.

To get you started, here are some sites I use regularly. I am sure you can find more if you poke around the Internet.

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation: Heavy hitters fighting to protect civil liberties and the right to free speech.
  • BioGems: Fighting to protect and preserve nature and natural environments.
  • NRA: Fighting to protect our rights as affirmed by the Bill of Rights.

A note for people who are used to using handles or aliases

Handles and aliases are very common on the Internet. They are used to protect your privacy and shield you from scammers and stalkers, and other times using a handle is just the way a community is. In those cases, handles are appropriate.

However, when you take a political action, such as writing to your elected representative, it is important that you use your real name and real address. This is partly because it is presumed that your political representatives are not scammers or stalkers (though they may be scamming the public, but that is a topic for a different political discourse), and therefore you don't need to protect yourself from them.

Also, a handle is not a valid political entity—your real name is. You wouldn't register to vote with a fake name and address (I hope); you can't sign a petition with a fake name and address (otherwise, it wouldn't count); neither would you send a letter to your elected representative signed with a fake name and address. In all cases, your representatives need to know that the opinion being expressed belongs to a real person.

So use your real name and address when taking political actions.

October 07, 2005

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

An election is coming up, and I recently received a call asking if I would be willing to participate in a survey regarding the issues on the ballot. I said, "Sure, why not?" After all, I'd love to have my voice and opinions represented, since I know I am way outside the norm when it comes to my political stance; the more of us oddballs who weigh in, the better for all the other oddballs out there who feel alone.

So the woman started to ask me questions. Her first few questions were generic—whether I was registered to vote, that sort of thing.

Then she asked me whether I would describe myself as Democratic or Republican. I said neither; I don't like what either party has done to our country. She pressed me, asking if I at least leaned one way or the other, and I said, "Not really." Then she pressed me some more, asking that, if I had to choose, which one would I choose. So I answered her.

And that was the end of the survey. I was quite startled, because she had said she was going to ask me my opinion on the issues on the ballot, and as soon as she found out which way I would lean if forced, she stopped the survey.

(I won't say which way I said I would lean, as it isn't very relevant and I don't want to cloud this short essay with issues of party lines. For the sake of argument, I am going to say that it was Republican.)

The obvious implication here is that the survey is deliberately being biased in favor of one party. The researchers have an agenda and they want to stack the deck as strongly as they can to support their agenda. They are not interested in a true random sampling or in getting a cross-party opinion on the issues; instead, what they are doing is preselecting respondents whom they have a pretty good assurance will give the opinions they seek.

Let me explain. Let's say the issue is one that Democrats strongly oppose. If the researchers only poll Democrats, but don't mention that they only polled Democrats when they publish their survey results, they can say, "90% of the voters we surveyed are strongly opposed to this issue." Yes, it may be true that 90% of the people they surveyed are strongly opposed to the issue, but the survey itself is tainted, biased from the start, and therefore the result itself is dishonest, because they didn't actually survey a true random selection, but instead only surveyed people who would tell them what they wanted to hear.

The dishonesty of this appalls me. They know and understand that the herd mentality often kicks in, especially around politics. If people are told that "90% of the voters we surveyed oppose" an issue, then the tendency on the part of most people is to think that 90% of the voters can't be wrong, and if one hasn't studied the issue, perhaps going with the majority is the safe bet.

However, if people are told that "90% of the Democrats we surveyed" oppose the issue, then that's a horse of a different color. Then people can decide whether they want to go along with the Democratic platform or not.

This is a deeply insidious, despicable, and unethical trick that the bottom-feeding researchers (and whoever is paying them) are playing on the unsuspecting public.

That is why I am making this post today: To warn you, if you didn't already know, to closely examine and question any survey results you read. Better yet, don't pay attention to any surveys, but instead read about, study, and reflect upon the issues yourself, and make up your own mind on what is the best course of action to take.

Oh, and remember to vote, too!

(PS In case you are wondering about the title of this post: Either Mark Twain is said to have said the following, or he is said to have quoted Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister of the British Empire from 1874-1880: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.")

October 05, 2005

How Gullible Are You?

I took this short, interesting Gullibility Factor test and received this score:

Free Thinker

Welcome to the top 5%. You're a true free thinker and a person who is well informed about the reality in which you live. Although you may have been easily manipulated earlier in life, you eventually gained lucidity and developed a healthy sense of skepticism that you now automatically apply to your observations and experiences. You are endlessly curious about human behavior and the nature of the universe, and you have one or more lifestyle habits that most people would consider odd or unusual. You are not only of very high intelligence, you are also extremely creative in one or more areas (music, art, software development, inventing, etc.)

If you were in The Matrix, you would have taken the red pill, completed the combat training, and started fighting (and beating) agents from day one.

Your architects: You have cast off reality distortions taught to you by your parents, schooling, corporate advertising and government propaganda. You create your own beliefs based on what serves you best, without much regard for what the rest of the crowd is doing. You are guided by your own internal code of ethics (which may or may not agree with politically-correct ethical codes) rather than any pre-set system of ethics (such as from any one religion).

After you take the test, your score is revealed, with an explanation of each answer, including a link to further information. All of those links contain a wealth of fascinating information; one of them is particularly worthy of being repeated here: Articles on Mercury.

In particular, I was very interested to notice the information in this article about the link between autism and the mercury in vaccines. I received information in a dream many years ago that autism was directly related to vaccinations. I didn't have anything further to go on, but was just glad that my mother never had my siblings or myself vaccinated, and that I likewise didn't have my daughter vaccinated.

September 20, 2005

Government: An Eternal Source of Good Quotes

I received this in my email today and thought it worth posting. Mind you, I haven't checked these quotes, so it is possible that some of them are not legitimate.

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself. --Mark Twain

A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take everything you have. --Thomas Jefferson

The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. --Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903) (This one may require a little explanation. If you keep passing laws to "protect" people from themselves, they will never learn to be responsible for themselves or to think for themselves, and ultimately, you have a nation of idiots. --Marina)

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. --Winston Churchill

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul. --George Bernard Shaw

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. --G. Gordon Liddy

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner. --James Bovard, Civil Libertarian (1994)

Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. -- Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. --P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else. --Frederic Bastiat, French economist (1801-1850)

Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. --Ronald Reagan (1986)

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts. --Will Rogers

If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free. --P.J. O'Rourke

In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. --Voltaire (1764)

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you. --Pericles (430 B.C.)

No man's Life, Liberty, or Property is SAFE while the legislature is in session. --Mark Twain (1866)

Talk is cheap ... except when Congress does it. --Cullen Hightower

The government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other. --Ronald Reagan

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. --Winston Churchill

The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. --Mark Twain

There is no distinctly native American criminal class... save Congress. -- Mark Twain

What this country needs are more unemployed politicians. --Edward Langley, artist (1928 - 1995)

September 08, 2004

What Our Government Is All About

Thanks to Mark Brands Liberty (, I have a great new quote:

"This great republic, founded on the concept of inalienable rights and self-government, was never designed for a population of heel clickers and saluters. It was designed for thinking men and women who could independently assess situations and form their own independent judgements about what is good policy and what is bad policy."

Charley Reese, "What's In A Name?"

October 09, 2003


I once had a lengthy email debate with someone about guns and the gun-grabbers who are trying to terminate our second-amendment right of keeping and bearing arms. It went well (from my point of view, meaning that we were being civil and, it seemed, learning something from each other) until we got down to why someone might want a gun. The person on the other side of the discussion could see no reasonable reason for owning a gun. When I raised the issue of self-defense, I was totally floored by her response. She stated that she did not have the right to defend herself because she was a Buddhist, and she believed that her beliefs prevented her from any acts of violence, even if those acts would keep her alive.

I didn't know enough at the time to point out to her that even hard-core Buddhists like the Tibetans believed in fighting to stay alive and defending their homeland with guns and whatever else they could bring to hand. And it probably would have had no effect on her to quote Proverbs 25:26: "A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well."

However, I did say that she was making the judgment that her life was less valuable than that of some criminal who would take her life without a thought (and probably many others as well), in addition to whatever other crimes he might commit. In fact, by allowing him to commit a crime, she was participating in the commission of that crime and almost certainly making further crimes not only possible but almost inevitable.

This line of reasoning made no impression on her. We ended the discussion at that point, neither of us having been convinced by the other, but, I hope, both of us with a better understanding of how some people think on the issue. But it has always bothered me that she felt her life to be of so little worth that in her mind, anyone had the right to take it away and she had no right to do her best to prevent that. Though for that matter, I do wonder: When it gets right down to it, if her life were threatened, would she really commit suicide by allowing someone to murder her? Or would she realize that it is okay to defend herself?

Even animals know that self-defense is a right. Should you try to attack your cat, your cat will defend itself. Though it may show remarkable self-restraint and not lacerate you as badly as you might otherwise deserve, should you, in your cat's judgment, be accidentally harming it and not deliberately. For example, when trimming some matted fur from my cat's belly, I accidentally nipped his skin with the scissors. He meowed and nipped at me, not breaking the skin but letting me know I had erred. He is a large and strong cat and could have truly injured me, but he knew that I wasn't attacking him. (I felt--and still feel--terrible about my carelessness, and I have never repeated that mistake again.)

Likewise your dog and any other animal that can defend itself, will. Animals that cannot defend themselves will flee. I know of no animal that will willingly take abuse or, worse yet, claim that it has no other option but to take abuse, other than humans. And whoever started the idea that it was somehow holier to allow oneself to be killed than to fight back when attacked was misunderstanding the nature of spirituality and responsbility.

We have responsiblities to ourselves as well as to others, and some of those responsibilities are (A) to make sure we are good people who are doing good in the world (and not harm), (B) to prevent others from doing harm, including to ourselves, and (C) if given a choice between allowing a good person to be removed from the world (presumably, us) or a bad person (a criminal attempting to take our lives or those of our family members), it is our duty and obligation to make sure that the world stays a better place and doesn't become a worse one by our loss. Of course, as thinking, reasonable people with consciences, we must make sure that the threat is real and that we are reasonable in our response to it.

But don't just take my word for it. The Pope, Gandhi, even Jesus all said things in support of self-defense. Here are some links; I'll add more as I find them.

The pope's opinion of self-defense.

Jesus on sword (gun) ownership: "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a sack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one." (Luke 22: 36.)

Another quote from the Bible: ""If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft" (Exodus 22: 2-3.) He who steals into another?s home bears the responsibility of his criminal action. Self-defence is not a crime." (Source)

David Koppel weighs in: ""Consider the situation of a mother in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood, moments after an escaped psychopathic murderer has broken into her house," suggests David B. Koppel. "The woman has good reason to fear that the intruder is about to slaughter her three children. If she does not shoot him with her .38 special, the children will be dead before the police arrive. Is [it] the woman's moral obligation to murmur "violence engenders violence," and keep her handgun in the drawer while her children die? Or is the mother's moral duty to save her children, and shoot the intruder?" ("Does God Believe In Gun Control?")" (Source)

The Bible and gun control.

A patron saint for gun owners?

The bottom line is that not defending oneself is part and parcel of an insidious political agenda that is anti-life and anti-freedom. The next time you hear someone talking about how no one should own guns, ask yourself (and them) some pointed questions about who benefits from a disarmed citizenry. Think of how one of Hitler's first actions was national gun registration, and one of his next actions was to then have his troops go door-to-door collecting guns from Jews and other "undesirables," who of course could no longer defend themselves. And then of course the next step was the death camps.

I am not saying that such a horrible thing could happen in America, but part of why that is so is because citizens have the right to keep and bear arms. We do not yet, thank God, have a national gun registration program, though some states, such as California, are so close to one (in that everyone who purchases a gun legally has to fill out paperwork that the Department of Justice gets to see--and how naive would someone have to be to think that the DOJ doesn't keep copies of that paperwork?

I will end this post with this famous quote by Martin Niemoller, a Lutheran priest who spent seven years in the Sachsenhasuen and Dachau concetration camps--and remember that 22 million people died in those camps. 6 million were Jews; the remaining 16 million were others considered to be undesirable by the Nazi party.

First, they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

September 12, 2003

The California Recall

Someone forwarded me an email from urging everyone to pledge to vote "No" in the recall election. The email calls the recall "an attack on democracy," characterizing it as "crazy" and something that only serves a "lone" congressman and a single actor. (I presume they mean Ahhnold, though Gary Coleman is also running. The comic Leo Gallagher is also on the ballot as well, though I had a hard time finding him there. The ballot is supposed to be in alphabetical order, but somehow everyone whose last name started with a G ended up between Sylvester and Zellhoefer.)

I find this such an egregious attempt at calling black white that I have to speak.

Recalling candidates is one way to redress bad voter choices and questionable political practices. Yes, recalls are sometimes planned even before an election, which is certainly an abuse of the system, but to say that a recall is "anti-democratic," as if somehow voting isn't involved, is a laughably transparent attempt at manipulating people's emotions. I hope people are alert enough to spot the contradictions apparent in this email.

And anyway, supposedly only "40 percent of the 22 million people eligible to vote in last November's statewide election actually cast a ballot." (Statistic taken from here.) Pitiful.

Speaking of the recall, have any of you in California taken a look at your sample ballot yet? I have, and I was quite, quite amused at the occupations of some of the candidates.

Only in America could such people as Larry Flynt, "Publisher" (and we all know what he publishes--materials of quite questionable taste that appeal to the lowest and most prurient interests of adult males....), run for governorship of one of the largest states. And there's more.

Continue reading "The California Recall" »

More on the California Recall

I received my California special election voter information guide today. It is very interesting to note the wording of the "pro" and "con" arguments for the recall of Governor Gray Davis.

The "pro" reads much like the Declaration of Independence, in that it lists specific, legitimate grievances against Davis.

Davis's response, by contrast, side-steps the indictments by speaking of things that don't matter, such as the cost of the recall to Californians, which is a negligible dip in the bucket compared to the budget. The only acknowledgement he gives at all to the real issues is to say that the recall is "trying to blame one person for all of California's problems." He makes no mention of the 9 BILLION DOLLARS that the energy companies whisked away from California during the so-called energy crisis under Davis's apparently unseeing eye (and under accusations that have yet been laid to rest of him being a participant in the raping of California), or of the oddly-similar 9-BILLION-DOLLAR deficit that California is now experiencing after having been under Davis's questionable guidance. Davis started his governorship with something like a 9 billion dollar SURPLUS. Not only is that money gone, but we are in the hole to the tune of 9 billion more, making a total of 18 BILLION dollars that have vanished from California under Davis's eye.

Yet, instead of responding to these facts and explaining himself, Davis uses inflammatory, emotion-laden words to try to manipulate people into a knee-jerk reaction against the recall.

Don't let him do it. An honest person would refute the charges point-by-point, showing the good things he's done. The fact that Gray Davis isn't able to marshall even one solid argument in his favor, isn't able to point to even one factual, good thing he's done for the state, is truly damning.

Instead, he tries to make you afraid, saying that he is the best choice, not because he is a great governor, but because (ooh! scary!) we don't know who will be our next governor, and it might be someone we don't like. Therefore, in his mind, it would be better to keep him. ("Better the devil you know than the devil you don't"?) Which raises another question: What exactly does Davis mean when he says "voters won't know who the replacement would be when they vote on the recall"? Since when have we EVER known who would be elected? Is Davis trying to tell us that our elections ared all rigged otherwise, but that somehow this one won't be? All the more reasons to vote then, say I, and definitely vote against him if he is involved in any kind of election-rigging scheme.

He also says that the next governor could potentially be elected by 15% of the vote. He doesn't define what he means by "the vote." Does he mean 15% of all potential voters, or only 15% of those actually voting? I would guess the former, since he wasn't specific; it makes his argument sound more drastic. But is it all that drastic, even so? Considering that in the last presidential election, only 17% of those eligible to vote voted for Bush (and another 17% for Gore), what Davis says isn't news; it's normal.

So go read your voter information guide. Think about it. Then be sure to vote. And don't vote out of fear. Vote out of the strength of being informed.

September 11, 2003

Understanding The Declaration of Independence

Last night, I re-read the Declaration of Independence in order to explain it to my host daughter, who is working on some assignments for her US History and US Government classes. This document, for those who may not know, was written by then-members of the British colonies in America to declare independence from British rule and to explain why it was felt necessary to do so.

While explaining the document, I realized that it truly is, as so many have said, a masterpiece of persuasive writing. I didn't used to think so, but then, I had never really read it carefully. I have changed my mind now, and am sharing what I recently discovered so that others may find additional value in this, the founding document of the United States of America.

Today seems an especially good day to do so.

Continue reading "Understanding The Declaration of Independence" »

May 16, 2003

Criteria for a Free People

The following brief essay presents three criteria for judging whether a society is free or not based on the habits of those people. Unfortunately, the people of the US do not come off very well in the analysis, and to a certain extent I agree. What I don't agree with is the cynical assumption that things won't change. As long as people have the Internet to provide them with alternative points of view so they can educate themselves, there is hope. Go. Read. Think. Then act upon your thinking.

March 16, 2003

Love of Money is the Root of All Evil

The thought for the day is taken from the Bible. Most people think that the quote is "Money is the root of all evil," which of course totally serves those who wish you to feel guilty if you are well off (or wish to be), and would prefer that everyone be poor and afraid--and serving those who aren't.

For those of you who are skeptical and want to look it up for yourselves, the full quote is in 1 Timothy (Timotheus) 6:10. "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." The next two verses go on to say, "Shun that, o man of God, aim at integrity, godliness, faith, love, stedfastness, modesty." And so on. It doesn't say that being rich is bad; it says that in striving for wealth, for some, those things that are important can fall by the wayside, leading to evil deeds that stem from bad choices.

Such as those done by people in our country for whom these verses were meant. For a discussion of the banking system in the United States--all of it true, some of which may be news to you, all of which is eye-opening stuff, see

Thomas Jefferson is quoted on that site as saying,

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks...will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."

February 12, 2003

Freedom and Responsibility

One trend that I find disturbing in America in recent decades is the tendency to want to create new laws restricting freedoms. There is always a "good" reason for these laws: Someone, or several someones, abused their rights and privileges, and therefore we need to legislate away those rights and freedoms for everyone.

Some of this legislation is what many people call "feel good" legislation: When most people hear about it, without really thinking it through, it makes them feel good, as though they are participating in doing something positive in the world.

Unfortunately, few of these laws stand closer inspection. Many just don't make sense, and are the equivalent of taking away everyone's right to drive because a few people don't drive well. In fact, many remove rights that are not rights that the government has any control over in the first place. What do I mean by that? I mean that America is founded on the idea that there are certain rights that are inalienable, that are each person's by the very fact that they are human beings. That means that no one and nothing is able to take those rights away.

Continue reading "Freedom and Responsibility" »

January 21, 2003

Time to Boycott Tuna Again

Much as I love tuna, I hardly ever buy the stuff, because I have always been concerned that even the so-called "dolphin-safe" tuna wasn't, when you got right down to it, safe enough. How many dolphins can be killed and still have the tuna be declared safe? And for that matter, how much illegal, non-dolphin-safe tuna fishing has been going on? Lots, I am willing to bet. So I don't buy tuna often.

Now, it seems that my gut feelings were right. Tuna fishing is stressful for dolphins, and the officials in our government, forgetting who is really supposed to be in charge (we, the people) are trying to hide the fact. Read about it here, then send a message to Secretary of Commerce Evans and Secretary of State Colin Powell. It's easy. Oh, and stop buying tuna while you are at it.

January 18, 2003

Homeland Security--Security for Whom?

Write your legislators and let them know what you think of this.

"The right of self-defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction......"

--St. George Tucker, founding father, Revolutionary War hero, Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court, and federal judge under President James Madison.

January 17, 2003

War and Oil

A number of people are protesting that they do not want war, period, and that is certainly an excellent sentiment. But without being aware of how one is contributing to the problem, such protests are hollow.

If, as many say, the true motivation for the Bush administration's war-mongering is oil, then one answer to the problem is not just to complain about it or contact one's elected representatives to register your opposition to war (you have done that, right?), but to also reduce one's use of and dependence on oil.

Continue reading "War and Oil" »

December 31, 2002

The Blunders of the World

I found this Web site, and although I disagree with some of what this person says and how he interprets things (for instance, he seems to be unaware that Gandhi himself said that the worst thing the British did was to disarm India (see footnote 1), and that that is what forced him to use nonviolent methods to achieve his ends), I do like the principles themselves.

The "blunders of the world" are

  • Wealth without work
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Knowledge without character
  • Commerce without morality
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without sacrifice
  • Politics without principles
  • Rights without responsibilities

Continue reading "The Blunders of the World" »

December 14, 2002

The Furry Weather Report: Animal Rights

I haven't posted a furry weather report in quite a while, as the entries would have been quite monotonously the same. "Hot, dry, dusty." It was an unusually long, dry summer here in wine country, though it was good for the grape harvest. Not perfect, but it should be a good year for wines made in Sonoma County.

However, the past month has been a different matter. The winter storms have swept in with vigor. It has been raining off and on all week, and yesterday and today the storm picked up strength. The weather person on the radio last night gave a coastal storm warning, predicting twelve-foot waves, and warned of downed branches and power outages.

Today, as predicted, it is storming hard, with a strong wind and rain coming down so thickly that sometimes the fence in my back yard, a mere sixteen feet from my back patio door, is partially obscured. I love the wild energy of rainstorms, and consider them to be one of nature's ways of pruning trees. Though I have heard today that not just branches, but entire trees are down, and the Russian River, not normally due to flood this early, has overridden its banks and is flowing in some new directions today.

And the cats, like the tide, are in for the winter, cuddled companionably about in various cozy, warm places, such as the baskets around and on top of my desk.

(As I am typing, Merlin, my large Maine Coon-like cat, has crammed his furry and warm 16 pounds of bone and muscle onto my desk between me and my keyboard, and is sound asleep with his head resting on my left arm. This is an arrangement he and I have worked out whereby he gets the cuddling he loves and I am not totally bereft of my computer. It works particularly well with the ergonomic keyboard I use, a rather space-age one I purchased to prevent repetitive stress injuries.)

Even Marigold, my sometime cat, who as often as not had spent her life, until this year, elsewhere, has taken to coming in from the outside, soaked, then swarming up onto my chest and using me as a comfy drying pad and place to sleep. She turns around a time or two, purring, then crams herself under my chin, her back to my neck, stretching her front legs and chin out over my shoulder, then falls asleep. Eats right into my productivity, that it does, but I don't mind. A sleepy, purring cat is a treasure beyond price. The trust it shows, and the love, are heartwarming.

Funny thing about Marigold. Once my former partner moved out at the end of February this year, she very quickly started hanging out around home. She was born and raised here, but as soon as she was an adult, she would take off for days at a time. I suspected that she had another home somewhere, though she is also an excellent huntress and has brought home rats beyond number--sometimes quite big ones--which she kills and neatly eats. Good cat. (Rodents are a bit of a problem in this city.)

So she is quite capable of caring for herself. And she clearly doesn't mind any kind of weather--at least, the kind of weather we have here, which admittedly is not that severe. Her fur is plush and dense, and keeps even the heaviest rain from penetrating to the skin. Since we saw so little of her, I figured she just didn't like us very much.

Turns out I was partially right, except there was only one person she didn't like, and he is now gone. So now she spends much more of her time around home, even sitting on my lap or snuggling with me in bed, which she never used to do. Since she is also my most psychic and aware cat, it makes me wonder what it was that she sensed or knew that I did not. No matter now, as the point is moot, but I am very glad she has decided to be more a member of the family. She is a beautiful and loving cat, very much her own being, very much one who chooses to stay with us.

Which leads me to another, more serious subject: PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Continue reading "The Furry Weather Report: Animal Rights" »

October 28, 2002

Why is Privacy So Important?

The right to privacy is one of the basic human rights that the founders of the United States said that we are all granted, not by our government, but by the very fact of being human.

Yet there has been increasing focus in the press and on the Internet lately on blatant privacy violations, such as with spyware programs that make a record of every file you download (Netscape is one of these companies; see, or every Internet page you view.

Many of you may say to yourself, "So what? Who cares what files I download, or what pages I view? I have nothing to hide." And yes, in an ideal world, we wouldn't need to worry.

I admit that I used to think that way too. My thinking went something along these lines: Yes, companies are "harvesting" data about people, the better to market products to them. But so what? Marketing is worthless if the people being marketed to are thinking and aware human beings who do not allow themselves to be manipulated.

However, there was something nagging me: Why did our founders feel that privacy was so important?

Continue reading "Why is Privacy So Important?" »