Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Star Wars Is Better Than Star Trek

It's amazing what you find while sorting through everything that you own....for everyone's enjoyment.

1. "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...." sounds much cooler than "Space, the Final Frontier."

2. Ships in Star Wars always realistically look used and beat up; ships in Star Trek always look clean and shiny.

3. Aliens in Star Wars don't look like humans with bad masks. (Actually, they look more like muppets, but are yet more believable.)

4. Not one Star Trek film has ever made it into the top 50 movies of all time; the first 4 Star Wars films made it into the top 12.

5. Star Wars is epic mythology; Star Trek is episodic mediocrity.

6. Star Wars has actual starfighters

7. In Star Wars, ships cross the galaxy in a matter of weeks; in Star Trek, it takes 75 years.

8. "Kuat Drive Yards Impetus Class Imperial Star Destroyer" sounds much cooler than "Federation Galaxy Class Starship"

9. Those pesky warp cores keep on blowing up.

10. Imperials wear uniforms; Federation officers wear pajamas.

11. Ewoks are not as annoying as Tribbles.

12. Star Wars has less stupid, useless Treknobabble

13. George Lucas doesn't have to resort to Q to cure writer's block.

14. Star Wars doesn't have a new time-travel episode every two weeks

15. People actually line up to see Star Wars

16. Droids in Star Wars have way more functionality than Data

17. Chewie could kick Worf's ass

18. Star Wars "I sense a disturbance in the Force..."
      Star Trek "Captain, I sense hostility"

19. Star Wars "The mighty Jedi Knight pulled forth his trusty lightsaber and prepared to do battle with a dangerous foe."
      Star Trek "The officer in charge of security on deck 12, section epsilon-beta-tau took out his reliable and puissant phaser, aiming at his currently explicated antagonist."

20. It took Star Wars 3 movies and 6 years to accomplish more than 4 series and 9 movies in 30 years could ever hope to accomplish.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Space Aliens!!

Have you ever wondered why people question the "experts" in a field? Maybe it's because "experts" so often come up with lunatic ideas. Don't believe me? Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist. By just about anyone's standard, that qualifies him as an expert in the field. Recently, he stated on CNN that what we needed to get out of the current economic mess is......the threat of a space alien attack.
Paul Krugman: If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren't any aliens, we'd be better –
Ken Rogoff:  And we need Orson Welles, is what you're saying.
Paul Krugman:  No, there was a Twilight Zone episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace.  Well, this time...we need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.
Yup. The solution to the problem is space aliens. He's not the only "expert" to resort to space aliens. Francis Crick, Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix, found it impossible for the complexity of DNA to have evolved naturally. So, he proposed a theory that Earth was originally seeded by space aliens.....the fancy term for it being "directed panspermia."

Just because someone has some award or is considered an "expert" doesn't mean that they don't ever come up with stuff that's totally off the wall nuts. A lot of times there is very good reason to question what the "experts" are saying.

Shouldn't you all be at work?

The more stuff I read, the more baffled I become. Let me see if I have this straight.
  1. Someone said that government is too big and wants to cut some of the non-essential jobs. 
  2. A hundred people or so who presumably have government jobs show up at his office to protest his statement.
  3. The protest occurred on a Friday morning when government offices are supposed to be doing the government's work.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that folks wanting to trim some fat off the budget without reducing services to taxpayers might want to start their search in the places that are running just fine with 100 employees not at work today. Even with a conservative estimate of $50,000/year spent on each employee (wages, benefits, etc.), that would be $5 million in savings a year.

I'm especially amused by the AFL-CIO chick who said "Just listen to what people are shouting: Good jobs! They want good jobs, better jobs. Not just jobs where the company only cares about profits and not the payroll of its employees." News flash you bimbo. The reason that companies care about profits is because they want to be able to stay in business...which will continue to provide jobs for people. You just want to get paid a ton of money without it being tied to any actual value that you provide.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Comparitve analysis of major religeons

I came across this while cleaning out old files.

Taoism                  Shit Happens
Confuscianism      Confusius say "Shit Happens"
Buddhism              If Shit Happens, it really is not Shit
Zen                        Shit only Happens when it does not Happen
                              What is the sound of Shit Happening
Hinduism               This Shit Happened before (and it will Happen again)
Islam                     If Shit Happens, it is the will of Allah
Protestant              Let Shit Happen to someone else
Catholic                 If Shit Happens, you deserve it!
Judaism                 Why does this Shit always Happen to us?
Atheism                 Shit Happens for no apparent reason.
                               No Shit
Agnosticism           I think that Shit Happens
Baptist                   I believe Shit Happens! (Amen!)
Jehovah Witness   Let us in and we will tell you why Shit Happens
                               Knock, knock. Shit Happens
Scientologist          Feces Occurs
Hare Krishna        ShitHappensShitHappensShitHappensShitHappensShitHappens
Existentialism       I Shit, therefore I am (Defeco ergo sum)
New Age                Shit came to me in a vision....
Rastafarianism     Let's smoke this shit.
Paganism              If you send Shit out into the world, it will return to you threefold
Mormons              If Shit happens, the Church gets 10%
Stoics                    This Shit doesn't bother me
Hedonists              There's nothing like a good Shit Happening
New Life Christian   Pay us money, or Shit will Happen
Branch Davidianism  David Koresh: I am the Shit
Occultism              I see Shit Happening in your future
Bahaiism               Same Shit, different pile
Lutheran              What does it mean when people say Shit Happens

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Public Service Announcement

A lot of companies nowdays require that their sales folks attempt to sell you additional items. If they fail to do so, they'll get written up and eventually fired for it. The cashier probably couldn't care less if you buy what they offer, but they have to ask. Whenever you are at the checkout and are asked if you want something else remember this.....

Your "witty" comeback probably isn't. Unless you are 100% confident that you can deliver a line that the cashier hasn't heard before, just politely say no and then shut the hell up. "Why, is it free?" is not original. The person at the register has probably heard that same dumbass line a dozen times in the last hour. The only reason that he/she is still smiling is because they need the paycheck. If they are more than 4 hours into a shift and are still smiling, you really should worry. They are probably trying to figure out how much trouble they'd get in for ripping off your thumbs and jamming them up your nostrils.

Also, if you shop at a location regularly and tease the cashier about it enough, you will probably regret it. At the convenience store this week, I have asked one of the guys who gets his coffee and cigarettes from us if he wants 1) shampoo, 2) deodorant, and 3) toothpaste. He's going to wish that I would go back to just asking about a lighter or the newspaper. The next time that there are people in line to hear it, I'm going to ask if he needs tampons. I kind of wish that we carried hemorrhoid cream.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Bite tongue until it bleeds

Witnessed today at store. Young guy, maybe 20ish wearing woodland BDUs that looked like they were brand new from Army Navy surplus and walking with a strut like he was the shit. (Not military bearing mind you. Poser thinking he's cool.) He had a scraggly goatee and mustache, his hair in a pony tail, and he was wearing sandals. Now, if he had been on his way to or from going to play paintball in the woods with friends or something, it would be understandable. We also have guys come in all the time in uniform because of drill and other such things. This wasn't that. This was about being an attention-whore. The reason that people give attention and respect to soldiers isn't because they wear a uniform. It's because that uniform represents a level of sacrifice, commitment, and discipline that most of us are unwilling to make. People who try to cash in on that without paying the price should be made to suffer for it. I'm in favor of bringing back the stock and pillory in instances such as this.

Just my two cents.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Poverty in America

There is a lot of talk out there right now about what government should or shouldn't do for the poor in the US. Let's take a moment and see what are the things that we can all agree to be true. #1 Being poor in the US is not like being poor in New Delhi. Being poor in New Delhi (or really most anywhere in the world outside of the US) sucks way worse than being poor here in the US. #2 It sucks when you don't have as much money as you would like. It isn't that people want to collect pictures of old dead dudes. It's because money represents choices. More money equals more choices. Less money equals less choices. Agreed?

Now, a couple of weeks ago, the Heritage Foundation published an article about poverty in America relying heavily on Census Bureau statistics. In this article, they spent a lot of time highlighting point #1 from above. Of the poor in America, most have a roof over their head, running water and flush toilets, and basic cooking amenities. Is this the description of a lavish lifestyle? No. But it isn't the description of the poor in other countries where thousands live in horrid conditions with no potable water, a piece of cardboard or (if they're lucky) corrugated tin for a roof, and they cook what little they can find to eat over a dung fire. The Heritage Foundation is simply pointing out that for all the media caterwauling on the subject, the poor in America do, for the most part at least, have many of their most basic needs met and a little bit more.

Last week, the Center for American Progress responded to the article by the Heritage Foundation with a straw man argument about how selling their refrigerator and microwave would not raise enough money to feed a family more than a few meals. Well...duh. That's not the point. And that's a big part of the problem in this discussion.

Before I go further, let's pause and discuss "poor" versus "broke." "Broke" means that you have no money. "Poor" is about your thinking. There have been times in my life when I was broke, but I have never considered myself poor. Even though I had no money, I understood what it would take to change that situation and was willing to do the work.

How does the distinction between poor and broke apply to this national discussion about poverty in America? When people in this country experience a cash shortage, the government steps in to make up the shortfall but does not do anything to correct people's thinking. In essence, they are keeping people poor - and causing generational poverty. (The current spending habits of the federal government demonstrate why this is....they can not teach what they do not understand themselves.)

Every single day, I see people who are poor, and it breaks my heart. Why? It is not because they do not have the resources already available to them. It's because they have the means to improve their situation but are blind to the solutions. The choices that they are making are what keeps them poor, and the government handouts take just enough of an anesthetic to keep them numb to their plight. The following examples are not to condemn the choices that people make. It is to express the reality that is out there and how those choices are keeping them poor.
  •  I went to deliver some basic cooking food supplies to a family who expressed that they did not have enough money to buy these basic groceries. As I walked to the kitchen counter to put the things down, I had to go past the TV that was playing a cable TV show. (The most basic and inexpensive cable package in Green Bay is about $40/mo. and does not include that channel.) The price that they were paying was almost twice the cost of the groceries that I was delivering. Based on the conversations that I have on a daily basis with people who are poor, the majority of them do have cable.
  • One of our local thrift stores has a voucher program where the Red Cross and other such organizations can refer people who have no furniture in their apartment/house to get a few basic items like a bed, dresser, table and chairs for free. These aren't junk either....they're what they normally sell at their store. When I worked at one of those referring organizations, we would frequently have people turn down the voucher furniture because it wasn't nice enough for them.
  • Every day at work, I see people on food stamps who are smoking 1-2 packs of cigarettes a day. Neither of those things in themselves are offensive to me, but the combination is. Our number one selling brand of cigarettes are about $7.50 a pack. A pack a day smoker will spend about $225 per month on cigarettes. Many of our customers easily smoke double that. (The "cheap" cigarette brand is about a dollar a pack less, so it will only cost about $200/mo. for a pack a day habit.) 
  • We also see a lot of people on food stamps who buy come in and buy one or two 4 packs of beer per day. Beer is a lot less expensive than cigarettes at about $3 for each 4 pack. That's still $90-$180 per month being spent on beer.
  • Lottery tickets. I see the reports on sales versus winnings. The lottery is a voluntary tax on stupid. There is a reason that I have gotten a property tax credit every year for the last 7 years. If you want to play some scratch offs because it's fun. Fine there are worse vices....just don't leave the scratchings on my counter. If you enjoy spending a buck here and there because you like daydreaming about what you'd do if you win. Fine....it's less expensive than going to a movie. If you can't afford to buy your own food, not fine. 
  • One of our regulars (who smokes, drinks, is unemployed and not looking for work, is on food stamps because of her 3 kids under 5, and who's baby daddy just got out of prison), was complaining that $15 at McDonalds didn't go very far to feed her kids lunch. Now, nothing against McD's...but $15 will feed 3 small kids lunch of PB&J with fresh fruit and a glass of Kool-aid....for a week. Maybe not the most exciting meals, but they're fed and it's healthy.
  • Prepaid cellphones are very popular and frequently run about $50-$60 per month. Yes, a phone number is a basic prerequisite for getting a job. A cell phone is not. A land line can cost as little as $15 per month, and the initial cost of the phone is in the $1-$15 range depending on if you get it used or new.
Ok, pause again. I want to take a moment to point out that all of the examples that I have given are of people who are poor. Not just broke. There are a lot of people who are broke who don't do any of these things. They have been hit hard by economic realities and are facing very real struggles. Their "safe secure" job may have disappeared suddenly, and they are barely keeping their heads above water. They may need to turn to organizations like Paul's Pantry (which has never and will never taken a penny from any government funding) here in Green Bay. (Lots of communities have food banks to help people who have no ability to pay for their food. Most, admittedly, do not come close to what Paul's Pantry is able to do, but they are a huge help to folks in need.) My heart goes out to them in their pain. This is not a permanent condition for them though. They have been knocked down but will get up, brush themselves off, and go about doing the work to make things better for themselves and their children. They will learn from what happened and guard against it happening again while teaching their children valuable lessons about how to succeed in life.

Un-pause. What these folks need is not more money from the government. It's not expansion of entitlement programs or new ones. They don't need "the rich" (aka, those who are working to provide goods and services to people) to pay more money in taxes. What they need is help to change how they think. There are places and groups out there who try to do just that. I've visited two shelters in Green Bay who have education as the core of their outreach. They have drug and alcohol counseling available, work with people on developing basic job skills as well as helping with how to apply and interview for jobs, and teach about budgeting and how to live within your financial means.

It seems to me that when it comes to results in actually helping people up out of poverty, churches and private charities have a far better success rate than the government. I don't have empirical evidence or studies to support that.....just my personal observation. I see churches and charities healing lives, and I see government programs growing generational dependence.

Just my two cents.