They didn’t think they were thieves…

September 16, 2008 at 10:19 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s probably because I’ve recently read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, but that’s what I thought when I saw some protesters today.

There were lots of people protesting in front of the local campaign office.  The group of handicapped people had signs said that they deserved to have a home of their own.

The mental conversation that I had with them (don’t ever engage protesters, it’ll drive you as nuts as they are) went something like this:

  • Me: So you are homeless?
  • Them: No, we live in group facility.
  • Me: And you want a home?
  • Them: We want to live on our own, just like you do.
  • Me: So why don’t you buy one, or rent your own place?
  • Them: We can’t because we can’t live alone.
  • Me: Can’t you hire someone?
  • Them: We can’t afford it.
  • Me: Well why don’t you get a job that pays well enough so that you could afford it?
  • Them: We don’t have the skills for a high-paying job.
  • Me: So you want me to pay for it?
  • Them: No, there’s a government program that would pay for it.
  • Me: And that program is paid for by …?
  • Them: The government.
  • Me: And I pay for the government.
  • Them: I guess…
  • Me: So you want to steal from me to fund your program?
  • Them: It’s not stealing
  • Me: Then you’re begging?
  • Them: Of course not
  • Me: So if you aren’t begging, then how does that program get funded?
  • < cut several circular iterations of how government programs are funded >
  • Them: So yes, you would pay for it.
  • Me: So you’re thieves.
  • Them: < vapor lock >
  • Me: Look, if you make me buy something for you that I don’t want to, isn’t that stealing?
  • Them: < vapor lock >
  • Me: So if you want the government to buy something for you, they have to get the money from me.  And they do it by threat.  Stealing, plain and simple.
  • Them: < finally no longer vapor locked > But what about the military.  Your taxes pay for that.
  • Me: Yes, and it is a service that the entire country benefits from.  What you’re asking for is only to benefit you.  It doesn’t make it any less stealing just because you are hiding it in layers of government and spreading the cost around to everyone.

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Software Monitoring

March 20, 2008 at 8:38 pm (Interesting)

I took these pictures a while ago at the metro station.  The station has a display of current news, weather, and bus schedules.  In JULY, the error message popped up, and the weather part stopped updating.  In JANUARY, I took these pictures.  You can see the snow on the ground in the reflection.

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Horror Movies

March 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm (Interesting)

I like horror movies.  Like everyone else, the ‘horror movie’ couldn’t happen to me because I’m not stupid enough to chase whatever giant insect looking thing down into the cave with just a flashlight.  If I were in a horror movie, it probably wouldn’t be very interesting.

Kind of like this.

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Stupid Should Hurt – or Hampering Natural (de)Selection

March 8, 2008 at 5:15 pm (Interesting, Random, Rant)

Any who know me will know that one of my favorite phrases is ‘Stupid Should Hurt, Really Stupid Should Really Hurt’.  The idea behind it is that pain is a powerful teacher, and that people learn from painful mistakes better than anything else.  So, if we protect people from hurting themselves, we actually are doing them greater harm by not allowing them to learn.  And we are doing society as a whole harm, because really smart people can learn from the mistakes (and pain) of others.

Enter the Nanny State of Great Britain.  Not that the ‘nanny state’ title hasn’t been around for a while, but occasionally something comes up that just reinforces the well-deserved title.  In this case, they have created a street that is safe for people who can’t manage to walk and send text-messages at the same time, and don’t realize it.

Apparently,  10% of Brits have run into things while text-walking.  Not that I’m surprised, I can’t text-walk well either.  BUT I know it, so I don’t.  And I didn’t have to run into something to figure it out.  The 10% number can only be explained by the action of the nanny state, removing the consequences of actions and preventing learning.

Stupid Should Hurt.  Really Stupid Should Really Hurt – or be Fatal.

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Handicapped Parking

October 15, 2007 at 10:58 pm (Rant)

I commute to the nation’s capital, and park in one of the many overcrowded commuter parking lots.  I had to park on the gravel expansion of the lot, since all the paved slots (and more than half the expansion slots) were full – and this was at 6:10am.  While waiting in line, someone pulled up, the line parted, and she pulled into the handicapped spot.  I noticed that the car didn’t have handicapped plates, and didn’t see a hanger either.  About that time, the bus pulled up, and she got out and RAN to catch it.  I commented to the large man in a suit (carrying a newly dry-cleaned white stetson and wearing a white carnation, btw) standing in front of me that if you could run to catch the bus, you probably didn’t need to park in the handicapped spot.

He said that it was probably a mental handicap.

And he’s probably right!

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The Circus

April 21, 2007 at 1:26 am (Uncategorized)

We took the kids to the circus recently, and I have been bothered by a few things.

PT Barnum, who was one of the founders of the circus, was known as a showman.  His shows  were purely entertainment and as such he had talented people from all walks of life portraying characters in their acts.  It was not uncommon for one of his showmen to play more than one character, and have more than one act.  It was also common, and part of the show, to make the parts that the showmen played as exotic as possible.  Entire biographies of these exotic characters were often created, and the actors played the parts while on stage, only to appear later in a different act as another character.

Now, to what has been bothering me.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Are You An Idiot?

April 5, 2007 at 9:45 pm (Interesting)

You can find out today by taking this simple test.

I only had to restart it once.

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I think I’m an Alien

January 7, 2007 at 1:00 am (Random)

No, not one of those undocumented immigrant types, a real alien like from “Men In Black” without the cool toys. If I’m not, then there has to be something seriously wrong with me.

On Wednesday night, I went to bed around midnight, and got up Thursday morning at 5. Call it 4.5 hours sleep max. On Thursday night, I went to bed about 1 (we were having DSL problems), and got up around 5. Another 3.5 hours. Total sleep for Monday night to Friday was probably in the neighborhood of 16 hours. I can really tell too, as it is usually a struggle to stay awake during the ‘quieter’ times at work. Now the broken part – at around 6pm I start feeling better – and I’m running at 100% by 10. I have to force myself to go to bed, but if I stay up, I’m good-to-go until about 4:30. It doesn’t matter how long or tiring the day was, by early evening I’m waking up.

If someone would pay me (and let me use sick leave) I’d like to volunteer for one of those long psychological studies that has people live underground and run on their own biological clock without any outside time cues. I’m guessing that my internal day is set at about 35 hours. Since none of the planets in our solar system have a rotation anywhere near that, I must be from somewhere else – hence alien.

If anyone knows where I’m from, let me know – unless it’s the galactic equivalent of Appalachia, in which case I probably don’t remember on purpose.

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Parallel Parking

June 2, 2006 at 11:41 pm (Rant)

I work in DC – and walk around a lot.  I don't drive to work on purpose.

One of the reasons that I don't drive is the parking – it's expensive, the parking enforcement is one of the biggest revenue generating schemes of the DC government, and people tend to 'bump' you when they try to park.

I don't mean just once or twice, I mean repeatedly.  If you're lucky, they won't damage much – but there's no guarantee.  On Wednesday, I watched someone trying to park their C-class Mercedes (not a large or cumbersome car by any means) and it took them 17 times backing up & pulling forward to finally be happy that they were 6 inches from the curb.  If you need to parallel park, learn & practice – it's not hard. 

Instructions for how to parallel park – can be found at 

And if you need practice, try this little flash game.

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Even Guide Dogs Know the Rules

May 12, 2006 at 10:28 pm (Random)

One of the no longer written rules of Washington's METRO system is that people who are standing on the escalators should stand to the right, so that people walking can pass them. This is occasionally enforced by a hurried commuter trying to catch a train or bus, who will yell 'stand on the right' as they try to ascend or descend. When it works, it works well, and is courteous to travelers who are rushed or at least think they are.

Now to the guide dog part – One of the co-passengers that I see several times a week is visually impaired, and has a guide dog. His dog is a really large golden retriever that is a wonderful guide dog. It ignores everyone, and most importantly, knows the rules of the metro. The other morning, I was getting off the metro, and saw the dog and his owner. I was standing on the escalator (on the right, of course) while finishing an article in my paper, when I was passed by the dog and his owner. Several steps up from me was a man standing on the left. When the guide dog reached the stationary man, it gently nudged his leg. The man either didn't notice, or ignored it. The dog then used his nose on the man's hip and pushed him to the right. This startled the man, who after looking around and seeing the dog moved to the right.

So, if you ride DC's metro, and stand on the left side of the escalator, I know a dog who is more polite than you.

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