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Archive for the ‘From the News’ Category

…On Crappy News From Spain.

Posted by Steve on January 9, 2011

The wrong side won another battle in the war over bullfighting.

This, of course, follows on Catalonia’s execrable decision to outright ban bullfighting.

A commenter on the Yahoo story summed up my thoughts pretty well:

What a shame it is that bullfights will no longer be aired so that children will learn the valuable moral lessons these noble events instill. An important tool for teaching virtues is being tossed aside, and I fear the virtues themselves will be lost because of it.

Those who decry bullfighting for being cruel, violent, barbaric – those people miss the point. Barbarism is good. Cruelty is good. Violence is good. To be weak or peaceful is to be an abomination. It is to be prey, meant for killing and exploiting. Bullfighting teaches the value of killing the weak, which is mankind’s highest calling.

Bullfighting should be flourishing in Spain and spreading to other countries. Instead, it is dying, and mankind’s goodness is dying with it, replaced by the lies and sins of “compassion” and “mercy”. Bullfighting is good. Bloodsports are good.

I don’t know that I’d say killing the weak is mankind’s highest calling, but the rest of it is pretty much spot-on, I think, especially the knocks against compassion and pacifism. That said, I’d add that there’s also a problem with criticism of bullfighting based on “animal rights” reasoning, since “animal rights” is a contradiction in terms. No such things exist. Rights stem from consciousness and sentience, which animals (like fetuses, coma patients, plants, rocks, and everything else that doesn’t possess or deserve rights) are incapable of having.

And as for bullfighting? A world with bullfighting is a better world than a world without bullfighting, and humanity with bullfighting is better than humanity without bullfighting.

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Posted in From the News, Our World | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On the Appendix to Brave New World.

Posted by Steve on August 24, 2009

So, Yahoo has posted a news article about appendices. Frankly, calling it “news” is a bit inaccurate, I think, as the hypothesis that the appendix is a gut flora reservoir is a couple of years old. Anyway, the quote at page bottom, about artificially stimulating the immune system to keep it from getting sullen and cranky and causing appendicitis or autoimmune disease… reminds me of Brave New World’s “pregnancy substitutes”. And you know, speaking of Brave New World… I recall reading it and not thinking it was so terrible, since it seems to me it’s a utopia-and-dystopia swirl, not the straight uncut dystopia it’s so often labeled. Without a doubt, the creation of the gammas, deltas, and epsilons is an atrocity – hands down, unequivocally evil and an atrocity. Also, the profligate waste of the materialism-for-the-sake-of-consuming-resources is really damned stupid, and I can’t say soma’s an appealing idea. On the other hand, take those elements out and you have… the alphas living lives of uninterrupted hedonistic pleasure. Perfect people living perfect lives – isn’t that what utopia is? And I don’t think the book makes a compelling case for the argument that the good can only be obtained by the bad – the whole point of the book, after all, was that everything’s predestined through conditioned behavior and mechanistic control over the world. So, given such an ability to craft reality (yeah, an utter impossibility, but work with me here), what reason is there for producing the horrendous along with the wondrous? Seems to me the smart thing to do is only produce the wondrous.

Anyway, seems the 5-second-rule isn’t unhygienic unhygenic, it’s prophylactic!

Posted in Books, From the News | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Senatorial Illness.

Posted by Steve on August 8, 2009

I was going to post a review of the Mayhem Festival concert I went to Thursday night (long post short: Slayer live is fucking awesome, Marilyn Manson is pathetic, I still love The Black Dahlia Murder, no matter how ugly you feel you are nobody at a metal concert cares, and Rockstar’s “energy shot” tastes like a cherry crapped out some coffee). Then I was going to post my thoughts on the questions eHarmony asks when you sign up (some of them are flat-out bizarre), since I’m currently carrying out that lengthy process. My mom’s been pushing me to do it for awhile – I think she wants grandkids or something.

But, at the moment, what really interests me is this: how often are U.S. Senators hospitalized? I noticed Sotomayor got confirmed with 99 total votes, and several other justices, like Scalia and Stevens, were confirmed on 97-0 or 98-0 votes. So… there’s supposed to be 100. And the only reason I can think of for the not-voting thing is can’t vote, which means hospitalized or dead. So how routine is it that a senator’s in the hospital? I don’t really keep track of these things.

Posted in From the News, Metal | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Honduras.

Posted by Steve on July 16, 2009

A little late, but whatever. For the life of me, I can’t understand why the U.S. Government is saying that Manuel Zelaya is still the President of Honduras and that he was ousted in a coup. There’s a self-executing provision of the Honduran Constitution that says whoever’s President automatically ceases to be so if they do something, and there’s not any dispute that Zelaya did it. Honduran law doesn’t have a Posse Comitatus Act the way the U.S. does, so there was nothing illegal under Honduran law about the Honduran military enforcing a Honduran court order for Zelaya’s arrest. The only crime was the exile of a private citizen, and that 1) doesn’t really affect the fact that under the Honduran Constitution, Roberto Micheletti is the sole legal claimant to the Honduran Presidency and 2) has been compatible with democracy since ancient times.

And yet the U.S. government – and every other government in the world – supports an usurper, since apparently it’s more important to back the former incumbent than to actually enforce the Constitution that defines the very terms of the office you’re insisting he still has.

Posted in From the News, Here be Politics! | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Problem Solving.

Posted by Steve on May 23, 2009

Problem solving: this man understands how it’s done. Lian Jiansheng saw a problem, saw the solution, and implemented the solution. Simple, quick, effective. He’s earned my respect.

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…On What $25 Will Buy You.

Posted by Steve on March 21, 2009

Apparnetly, $25 won’t just buy you the exact same service that used to be free, it’ll also buy you somebody stealing your stuff while they do what used to be free.

Yes, I realize that checked baggage didn’t used to be “free”, it was just included in the airfare. But, did airfare go down a corresponding $25 when the $25/bag fees went in? No. So, we went from a seat on a plane and a piece of checked luggage costing, say, three hundred dollars to… the same seat and piece of checked luggage costing three hundred twenty-five dollars! That additional charge also doesn’t prevent them from losing (or apparently robbing) your luggage, so it’s pretty clear that the quality of the baggage handling hasn’t improved with the additional charge.

Wonderful: consumers get to pay more for the exact same thing they’d been getting! That’s almost as good as “pay just as much for less”, which is what they’ve started doing with ice cream. Used to be, ice cream came in a half gallon. Then they dropped it to 1.75 quarts; now, a lot of companies have switched to 1.5 quarts (I’m looking at you, Breyer’s and Kroger’s), but not lowered their prices accordingly. As far as I know, the only exception is Blue Bell, which 1) costs a lot and 2) is not available in most states – including mine (unless you’re willing to pay $120 to get 2 gallons shipped to you… I’ll pass).

These things annoy me, but I don’t know what can be done to change them. I mean, asides from eliminating inflation and population growth so that there’s never any more economic change… honestly, I wouldn’t object to eliminating change, once everything gets to a state worth keeping in eternal stasis, but the world is in no such condition yet.

Posted in From the News | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Grassley.

Posted by Steve on March 17, 2009

You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.

Indeed, and well they should have, for an utter failure’s life is forfeit. The only alternative to suicide, then, is execution. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley hit upon it rightly yesterday, in his comment about AIG executives: “The first thing that would make me feel a little bit better towards them if they’d follow the Japanese model and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things — resign, or go commit suicide”. Indeed. Their gross failure – and the failure of many others like them – do indeed merit seppuku or execution, and their deaths are months overdue.

But now Grassley’s saying “he doesn’t really mean they should kill themselves.”

Well, I do. As the Good Book says, the wages of failure are death.

Posted in From the News | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

..On Cass Sunstein and the Elderly.

Posted by Steve on January 26, 2009

With regards to this and this: I affirmatively support the “senior death discount”, I believe it should be used in all governmental decision-making, and I consider Cass Sunstein’s support for it to be a pro, not a con, of his nomination. That approach doesn’t “artificially lower the cost” element of cost-benefit analysis, it corrects a grossly overinflated benefit element. Yes, pollution is bad, but not in any way because of any harm to the health of the elderly. The remaining lives of the elderly are worth less than the remaining lives of the young, and it’s past time we went back to living – and setting public policy – accordingly. Instead, groups like the AARP and this CRP are working to extend already too-long lives and enhance the elderly’s unjust stranglehold on American law. Like PETA, the Brady Campaign, the National Right to Life Committee, and Proposition 8 supporters, they are actively working to make our lives, our country, and our world all worse.

Face it, the most effective way to fix social security would obviously be to implement a Logan’s Run solution. Barring that, say because we choose to be generous and kind and make sure we don’t dispose of the elderly prematurely, it seems the obvious thing to do is to just set a cap on how many years a retiree can withdraw from it. There’s no need for anyone to live to 80, let alone past it. Each year you live, your life matters less. Eventually, it just doesn’t matter. Don’t waste your life fighting that fact, just accept it and be happy while you can.

Posted in From the News, Here be Politics! | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

…On Proposed Bush/Obama Regulations.

Posted by Steve on January 18, 2009

A year ago, the Bush Administration announced a set of sweeping, far-reaching changes to Federal regulations that affect (with no hyperbole whatsoever), on a daily basis the lives of every single person in America who ventures outside their house. This comprehensive rewrite of Federal regulations received minimal media attention, and lost in the shuffle is the fact that though the Final Rule hasn’t yet been announced, there is absolutely no question that the Obama Administration will enact these rules, in substantially identical form to what the Bush Administration proposed, some time in 2009. Oh, a few adjustments may have been made due to public comment – and you know, we had a full seven months to send in comments, and if you’re like me you didn’t provide one because you didn’t even know about it – but for the most part, the 552 pages of rewritten text, 417 pages of redrawn figures, and 79 pages of reconstituted tables that the Bush Administration proposed in January 2008 are pretty much what the Obama Administration will finalize this year. Dire stuff.

And what is this late-breaking news? Why, only the Proposed Amendments to the MUTCD! That’s right, we’re going to get a 2009 Edition, which will replace the 2003 Edition with Revisions 1 and 2, Dated 2007 (which replaced 2003 Edition with Revision 1, Dated November 2004 which replaced 2003 Edition, which replaced Millenium Edition, which replaced 1988 Edition, ad nauseum back to the original in 1935).

This is great stuff, people. And don’t think for a second I was exaggerating when I said the changes affect everyone who leaves their house. “But I ride a train to work!” you object. Ah, then you’ll be affected by the new “Section 4C.10 Warrant 9, Intersection Near a Highway-Rail Grade Crossing”, not to mention any Part 10 changes. You ride a bus? New signs for bus lanes in Part 2, new markings for them in Part 3. Ditto bike lanes, and toss in any changes to Part 9. You’re a pedestrian? Different signs in Part 2, different markings in 3 (including some new guidance on how to do a mid-block crosswalk), they’ve redone the signal warrant for peds to be based on plotted volume curves instead of a volume threshold and taken the gaps element out of the warrant altogether, and there’s a whole new device, in a whole new Chapter 4F, “Pedestrian Hybrid Signals”. I think it should be obvious that any changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices is going to affect people who drive.

And come to think of it, the renumbered Chapter 4G’s got changes to signals (including a new Hybrid Signal) for Emergency Vehicle driveways, so that’ll affect even people who don’t leave their house. Indirectly, but still.

So, there’s those changes proposed, and many are coming. And before you get to thinking they’re trivial stuff for transportation weenies, think again. Take one proposal: to change the pedestrian walking speed from 4 ft/s to 3.5 ft/s when timing traffic signals. This is a big deal, since it affects the minimum amount of time the sign has to say “WALK”, and how much time we have to give the green parallel to that “WALK” signal – even if there aren’t cars there that need it. Adding a whole new sort of thing for drivers to see and obey – those hybrid pedestrian signals, that’ll be two red balls next to each other with a yellow ball below their centerline – is a big deal.

Sure, there’s little things you probably won’t notice, like no longer having “2-Way” or “3-Way” plaques under STOP signs (and I would’ve sent in a comment opposing that change for the 2-Way plaques, had I known to), or a narrow “Keep Right” sign for the tips of narrow medians (silly looking, but reasonable). But the big things…

I’m not opposed to the idea of the hybrid pedestrian signal, but I don’t like how they work. The vehicular display is blank (lights are out) and the ped heads have solid “DON’T WALK” until a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street. Then, one yellow light starts flashing, then it goes solid. Ok, flashing’s a little weird, but it draws attention to the lights coming on, and we all know what a solid yellow light means: solid red’s coming, get ready to stop. Low and behold, the two side-by-side red balls will come on solid, and the pedestrian’s “DON’T WALK” will change to “WALK”. Excellent, it’s consistent with what everyone knows and is familiar with: solid red means you must stop, “WALK” means you have right-of-way to cross the street (which won’t stop some jackasses from honking at you or just plain nearly hitting you). Here’s the thing: when the ped clearance starts up and their display changes from “WALK” to a flashing “DON’T WALK” (you know, “sprint across the street”), the two solid reds will become flashing reds. That’s what I don’t like: flashing side-by-side red balls have a use already: at-grade rail crossings. Now, the thinking is that having them on the hybrid pedestrian signal will indicate that the lights are getting ready to turn out and the drivers are about to be able to go again, but I think all they’ll do is confuse drivers. I think instead, the solid reds should stay until the “DON’T WALK” goes solid, and then the reds should just go out. No flashing reds at all.

Had I known to, I’d have sent in a comment to that effect.

Oh well.

Anyway, sooner or later President Obama and Secretary… Damnedifiknow (hey, I’ll admit, only Secretary of Transportation ever who I can name is Norman Mineta) will put out the final rule (the MUTCD’s legal status has been previously explained on this blog) and the 2009 Edition will come out. Now you know about it, and now you can take a look at the proposals for it yourself.

Posted in From the News, Transportation | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

…On Nardelli.

Posted by Steve on December 5, 2008

Every single time I’ve heard about the Big 3’s efforts to obtain a bailout, the newscast has included Robert Nardelli’s name. And every single time, I continue to wonder: after the hash he made of The Home Depot, how in the hell did Nardelli get hired at Chrysler… or anywhere, for that matter?

Posted in From the News | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »