Monthly Archives: February 2011

It’s the Damnedest Thing!

We live on a golf course, with a small pond just beyond the tee area that abuts our property.  It looks like this:

Since last Spring I have been telling friends and family that from time to time  I have seen a beaver in and about the pond.  Normal reactions have been “What, you can’t tell the difference between a beaver and a muskrat?”, or “You know, rats do get really big in Texas.”

This morning I noticed that a tree that was close to the pond was down.  We had some heavy winds a couple of nights ago, and at first I thought it might have succumbed to them.  Then I took a second look.

Anybody willing to venture a guess what happened to yon tree?  Look closely…
I rest my case, oh ye of little faith.

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The Incredible Shrinking Progressive Mind…

Last evening I engaged in the following “conversation” with an extreme Liberal on Facebook.  In addition to the errors I point out below, Mr. Stone also under-guessed (He obviously made no effort to discern any facts) the Federal excise tax on gasoline, which is $0.184 itself. (I overlooked that fact in my original comment, I’ll plead a combination of the lateness of the day as well as my incredulousness with the gentleman’s complete intellectual vacuousness.)   Please note especially the claim of Mr. Stone that anything that wasn’t state or federal excise tax was “profit” to the company.  This is the total lack of education and logical thinking we are dealing with as we strive to rebuild our nation.  It may be hopeless.  

This morning Mr. Stone “unfriended” me.  His loss, not mine, because he  gave up the only  connection to fact and common sense he apparently had.

John Stone  Today – Tue Feb 22, 2011 — Up again! Look at diesel prices. 
Here in Nevada 85% of the gas price is PROFIT – Only 15.5 % is state, county & Federal taxes

Omar Mack Its crazier than you think. Check gas price tracker at
Diesel is over $4 here in parts of San Diego

John Stone DAMN!!!!!!! And it is gonna keep climbing as long as teabagers/gop keep charging ahead!

John Eli Shuey ‎”Profit”? John, you are an idiot! What about the cost of exploration, recovery, transportation, refining, and distribution? What about the cost of the (station) building, and its taxes? What about the labor costs? What about employment, real estate, and income taxes? Did you know, did you care, that the profit margins of oil companies is slightly lower than the average profit margin of all S&P 500 companies? Do you even know the difference between selling price and profit margin, or gross profit and net profit? You and your progressive friends are freaking ignorant!

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You see, here’s the thing: A Reality Check for Supporters of our Huge Government Status Quo.

Regardless of the tax scheme, marginal rates, or any other trick you might try, effective tax revenues always max out at about 20% of GDP.  It’s a fact of economics.

Our problem therefore is not that we are not raising enough revenues, we clearly are maxing out the 20% ceiling, but that for 50 years or more we have tolerated our politicians – usually in an unholy alliance with unions, bureaucrats, corporations, and academics – to vastly exceed the 20% level in spending.  Take in 20%, spend 30%, and pretty soon the debt poop will hit the economic fan.  That is where we are today, and the longer we wait the worse it will get.

One can lament all they want about how we cannot cut this program or sacrifice that spending, but the fact is we must reduce government outlays a minimum of 33% if we are to survive as a going enterprise.   If you think things are tough now, you do not want to live in a nation where government can no longer borrow, where the dollar is devalued over the next ten years by the same 94% that it was over the past sixty years, and where there are no funds available for investment, growth, and job creation.

Suck it up now folks or be prepared for much worse very soon.

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The Top Ten Reasons to Adopt a Greyhound…

10. They truly know the meaning of retirement. 

9. People will stare at your dog instead of at you. 

8. They can curl up to the size of a ball if they need to. 

7. They can expand to the size of the whole bed if they want to. 

6. They don’t bark, keeping your neighborhood safe for burglars. 

5. You can play their ribs like an air guitar. 

4. They are the only dogs that know how to really smile. 

3. You can dress them up as a reindeer for Christmas. 

2. They are never confused with poodles. 

1. A Greyhound in flight is the most amazing sight you’ll ever hope to see in your own back yard.

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An Open Letter to Mr. Banik and Other Uninformed Gun Control Advocates

This morning an FB friend that I like and agree with on most issues challenged supporters of gun rights to cite just one case where an individual carrying a firearm stopped a mass murder spree.
Why Subrata, a naturalized citizen of Canada, is so concerned about folks in The U.S. exercising their Constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms is an interesting issue, but I will respond to his challenge never-the-less.  Following are four such examples, and then a few additional facts:
1)  In December 2007, Matthew Murray pledged he wanted to kill as many Christians as he could. The 24-year-old went to New Life Church in Colorado Springs and opened fire, killing 4 people in the process. Thankfully, an armed female congregant was able to draw her weapon and shoot Murray several times, stopping him from killing any others.
2)  In 2002, a shooting at Appalachian School of Law left three people dead. However, the shooter was stopped before he could kill any more because two students were able to run to their cars, get their guns, and use their weapons to halt the rampage.
3)  Reuters reported on July 6, 1999: “A shootout at a California shooting range ended a bizarre hostage drama … Sgt. Anton Morec of the Santa Clara Police Department said the aspiring gunman, 21-year-old Richard Gable Stevens … ‘intended to go out in a blaze of glory,’ noting Stevens had accumulated more than 100 rounds of ammunition for his rented 9 mm semi-automatic weapon.  ” ‘It certainly looks like he intended to take a lot more people out.’
“Morec said Stevens arrived at the National Shooting Club Monday evening and rented the rifle for target practice. … After several minutes on the range, however, Stevens returned to the club’s gun store and shot at the ceiling. He then herded three store employees out the door into an alley, saying he intended to kill them. “Unknown to Stevens, one store employee was carrying a .45-caliber handgun concealed beneath his shirt. When Stevens looked away, the employee fired, hitting Stevens several times in the chest and bringing him to the ground.”
After Stevens was hospitalized, police found a note to his parents, predicting they would be bankrupted by lawsuits from the relatives of his intended “victims.” Reuters said police concluded that, “The quick action by the gun club employee may have headed off a massacre.”
4)  On December 7th of 2007, an unemployed man with a police record decided, according to a note found later, to go out in a blaze of glory by killing as many people at an Omaha mall as possible before committing suicide.  A story in a local paper reported:  “As Mr. Hawkins moved into the ideal sniper position on the upper deck, an unnamed middle-aged man emerging from the nearby Von Maur department store noticed his odd behavior and glimpsed the muzzle of the rifle peeking out from the sweater. Almost instinctively the man moved toward Mr. Hawkins, reaching to his belt to draw out a Springfield EMP, a small, 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
As the would-be famous mass killer raised the rifle to his shoulder, the unnamed shopper commanded him to stop. Mr. Hawkins turned the muzzle of the AK-47 toward the commanding voice, a single shot rang out and Mr. Hawkins staggered, dropped his weapon and fell against the railing.
By this time, two other shoppers were aiming their pistols at Mr. Hawkins — a young, single woman pulled a .40 caliber Glock 27 from her purse, and a retired farmer drew his 9mm Ruger SR9 (an early Christmas gift from his wife). Together with the first man they moved in to separate Mr. Hawkins from his gun, search him for other weapons and restrain him until law enforcement arrived.
Had Mr. Banik wished, he could have found these stories and others, but even though he eschews firearms he still chose to shoot from the hip.
Now for the facts:  1)  In every state that has enacted right to carry laws, every one, violent crime has dropped in the years following enactment in spite of the fact that gun ownership and the number of armed citizens walking the streets increased.  2)  Three studies, two by liberal academics and the other by the Clinton Justice Department, have estimated that the number of crimes prevented by legally armed citizens range from between 1.5 million and 2.5 million annually, usually with no shots being fired.  That’s over 6,000 murders, rapes, and violent assaults EVERY DAY.
I have chosen to carry a firearm to protect myself and my family because I know the police can’t and won’t.  The unfortunate fact that Subrata ignores is that he doesn’t even have the right to make that choice.  I hope he never has cause to regret it. 

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Top Ten Reasons to Make Gay Marriage Illegal

From the folks over at STOPGEEK.COM
  1. Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.
  2. Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.
  3. Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.
  4. Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all like many of the principles on which this great country was founded; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.
  5. Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of marriages like Britney Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.
  6. Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.
  7. Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.
  8. Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.
  9. Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.
  10. Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

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On Artichokes and the “New Christianity”

I was thirty years old before I ate my first artichoke. At least knowingly.

Growing up in the 1950s in rural south-central Pennsylvania there were no such strange thing-a-ma-bobs to be had. It wasn’t until I was established in my career and visiting a friend in California that I was introduced to what I still regard as one of the strangest of foods.
I got to thinking about artichokes again a few days ago as I was reading yet another Christian apologist whining that atheists simply do not understand his religion. Atheists, he wrote, draw on the worst of biblical passages, thereby creating a straw man of sorts which they can then attack and demolish with glee.
But that’s not what he and many other Christians believe. Their religion, he says, is more mature and much more sophisticated than that. 
How quaint, not to mention misleading.
The facts are that Christianity is totally dependent on just a handful of ideas:
  1. Original sin: We are all stained with the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden, and therefore in need of redemption;
  2. Sacrificial atonement: Because of our burden of original sin, we can neither come to really know nor be accepted by god unless we acknowledge the sacrificial atonement offered to and for us by god through “…his only begotten son…”; and
  3. The Second Coming: Jesus will return to earth to judge us, for either our deeds or our acceptance of his sacrifice or both, depending on which sect’s interpretation of scripture and tradition one finds oneself relying.

Growing up out of or around these essential premises are a number of other traditional Christian claims: 
  1. The Abrahamic god is the mover and shaker of creation, whether 6,000 or thirteen billion years ago;
  2. Jesus was born of a virgin;
  3. Jesus performed miracles;
  4. Jesus was crucified, expired, and was then resurrected; and finally
  5. In front of his followers he ascended into heaven.

The above in various forms and combinations flow together in one way or another to form the core tenets of every one of the vast conglomeration of belief systems that is in general referred to as Christianity.
For the past few centuries however science, biblical criticism, history, archaeology, and philosophy have been casting a less than flattering light on these claims. Evolution itself is the ultimate monkey wrench in Christianity’s spokes, for with no historic Adam and Eve in a garden, the whole thesis unravels rather quickly. No Garden, no original sin, no need for a sacrifice to redeem that sin, and so on. All of which explains the eagerness of so many Christian groups to attack Evolution and try to prevent it from being taught in our schools.
And so presto, a new, more “sophisticated” Christianity emerges. Just as one eats an artichoke by peeling away the hard, bitter outer leaves to get at the tender, more desirable innards, the “New Christians” now seek to peel away the undesirable and unsupportable outer surfaces of their god and resulting Christianity to find comfort in a more mellow and digestible core.
  • Adam and Eve? “Well no, that’s only metaphor.”  (No kidding!)
  • Leviticus? “Straw man!”
  • Virgin birth? “Who knows? Maybe yes, sort of, maybe no, but hey, it really doesn’t matter.”
  • Miracles? “Define miracle.”
  • Resurrection? “Absolutely!  Probably. You can’t prove it didn’t happen.”

What is left as those unsavory outer leaves are stripped away however is at its core not Christianity, in spite of the howls of protest. It may be a form of spiritualism. It may have an amorphous god with a philosopher – teacher Jesus as its anchor. It is however neither Christianity by any historic definition nor as large swaths of dedicated followers believe and practice it today.
One cannot help but wonder just how far the New Christians will peel their artichoke, how much of their formerly inviolate faith they are willing to sacrifice in order to make their god and brand of “the Faith” palatable in an increasingly rational twenty-first century. Then again, as annoying as they are being at present with their new-found sophistication, maybe we should actually encourage them to continue with their symbolic peeling.
After all, once they strip away enough myth, superstition, and related nonsense, invariably they cannot help but to find themselves at the very same place we Atheists have been for a long time.  


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