I just don't understand any kind of absolute egalitarianism philosophy. Whether it's branded as anarcho-capitalism or straight anarchism or sockfucking libertarianism, it always misses the same point.

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Topics - Elder Iptuous

what rights should a grandparent have in influencing their grandchildren in fundamental beliefs such as religion when they are contradictory to the parents' own beliefs?

It was a long time coming.
I guess it wasn't really baked in the cake until my wife and I decided to actually have our first child.  From that point, there was no doubt that this conflict would come up eventually.  I'm not sure when it really sunk in that I would have to deal with this, but it has been a source of concern for years now.

I was raised in a non-denominational protestant Christian household.  Church every Sunday, but not over the top bible thumper like some of the people I've met in my life.  They are, however, true believers.  And I was, too.  Until I wasn't.
I don't have some watershed moment where I rejected my given faith, but it eroded somewhere around 13 to 15 years of age.  Influence of friends asking the questions in open hearted talks that don't get raised in church.  Wish I could say that I always knew that the faith was ridiculous, but I can't.  It made sense to me.  It provided assurance.  It felt right.  And so, it was a painful thing to shed.  Actually impossible to shed fully.  I've had to redefine things and twist concepts that are foundational in my mind to make them acceptable, or to sooth the fears and uncertainties of this life, absent the warm blanket of faith in an overseer.

I know that my rejection of my parents' faith causes them great anguish.  Whenever that scab is picked at, it causes a good deal of heartbreak.  Guilt on my part for not accepting what they have given me, and reactive anger that I feel any guilt over it.  Guilt on their part that they somehow failed both me and their god.  Despair on their part that they feel they may lose me for eternity because of my recalcitrance.  Frustration on my part that they believe in such a god that would eternally punish them and me for my insistence on being rational about this.

And now I'm raising my own child.  I'm not passing on this belief that I know has been passed on for centuries.  It's only natural that a parent desires for their children to believe what they believe, since it is their best estimate of the truth, as they have discovered it in the course of their life.  I certainly don't want my children to have beliefs that are comforting fictions that will have to be painfully abandoned as they were for me. (assuming that they adopt an outlook that is hopefully at least as rational as my own)
So, even knowing that it was inevitable, it was a bucket of cold water the first time my oldest boy was riding in the car with us and mentions Jesus.
So far, I had been handling it gingerly, steering the conversation with questions.  Knowing that they weren't being saturated with religion, I felt it better to simply give food for thought that might provide some prophylactic doubt for my boy (who really amazes me. If I believed in reincarnation, I would swear he's been here many more times than me..)
That seemed to working ok, but my younger son has since said things to indicate that there's more influence than I am comfortable with.  And his acceptance is such that I need more than just offering questions to think about.  I reaaaally didn't want to confront my parents about this.
I hate confrontation with people I love.

It came to a head recently when on multiple occasions, my younger son (who is headstrong and headlong) has put himself in a dangerous situation.  The last time being running towards a stray dog in the neighborhood that looked very much like it might be rabid.  Upon telling him that he *must listen to us when we tell him to stop* because he could die, he responds that we need not worry because it doesn't matter if he dies.  He'll live forever, and can't really die.
Goddammit.  Now I've got to confront them.
I explain to my boy that that isn't what Grammy meant, and even so, we don't believe what they believe.  He looks at me with a look of patronizing pity just like she would have. And says words just like she would say.  I swear to god, I heard her voice come out of him.  "Well... you just don't know, Daddy."
Fuck. No.

And so I steeled myself for the confrontation.  Thought about it a good deal.  And the shit part is, that I totally understand their position.  And given where they are coming from (which I am not going to be able to change one whit) they are doing absolutely everything they do from a position of love and benevolence, misguided as it may seem to me.  So asking them to not try influencing my kids to believe what they believe, is me asking them to allow their failure to perpetuate.  It's asking them to not only say goodbye to their son for eternity (*rage/pity*), but to allow their grand kids to be lost as well.  I can't expect them to simply agree without great consternation.  They're true believers.

Furthermore, I can't really hold them in too much contempt because I know I would be even more undermining than them, if put in their position!  If, despite my best efforts, one or both of my boys grew up to be bible thumpers, then when they had kids, I would be the absolute devil in trying to steer my grand kids away from that crap.  Without a lick of guilt or hesitation.  and i don't even believe in eternal consequences!  That seems very significant to me.

So, I had to confront my folks in a very personal and painful conversation, telling them that I rejected them in a sense, and that I want them to back off of the boys.  If they don't, then I won't feel comfortable leaving them alone with them.  Which to them, of course, seems like blackmail.
It was, as expected, heart wrenching.
There were tears.  There was anger.  There were the most painful flavors of love.
It ended with the kind of hug where you aren't saying some final goodbye to each other, but goodbye to a past where this inevitable wound hadn't been cut yet. A wound that we all know won't heal, but hopefully scar over without infecting everything.

I feel like everyone did the only thing that they could be expected to do, and nobody acted with mal intent.
The question that I am left with, is what rights should a grandparent have in influencing their grandchildren in fundamental beliefs like this when they are contradictory to the parents' own beliefs?
Aneristic Illusions / Police cameras
November 15, 2012, 04:39:22 PM
here's an article talking about an SLC program that the chief is pushing.
He wants eye level action cams on every cop.

curious about the opinions here on the topic.
some cops are resistant the chief says, but he thinks it's the future of law enforcement.  it seems that it could provide some accountability.  if there is video evidence of all police interaction with the public, surely that would dissuade at least some egregious police abuses of power.

a cynical objection is that the police will simply not have the video recording during an event (where they are in the wrong), but if it were required, it could be seen as evidence of malpractice in court, right?  i would think that legislation would be required in addition to police department policy in order for it to avoid being one sided (i.e. guarantee of accessibility).

another objection is privacy.  some people said they simply don't want to be recorded by the cops.  i don't know how much stock i put in this one...

an interesting objection i heard is that it would then only be a matter of time before facial recognition software is incorporated into the system.  that certainly plucks an emotional cord.  hmm....

what say you guys?
Aneristic Illusions / Cain: Total War
September 26, 2012, 04:27:37 AM
Where do you see total war on continental levels between 'a thing of the past' to 'a certainty in the near future'?

Title pretty much says it all....
(is there a 'cringe' emote?)
Techmology and Scientism / Chemistry question.
April 15, 2012, 03:07:28 AM
ok, chem spags.
i'm trying to find what the wavelength range of UV-C light is that creates Ozone.
My weak google-fu turned up conflicting results, and none from authoritative sources.
OK, so you may remember Boston Dynamics from such hits as "Big Dog: Pack-mule of the Apocalypse" able to walk around carrying soldiers' tools of death, able to deftly deal with uneven terrain, external disturbances, and slick surfaces.

You may also remember "PETMan: Soon to feature Arnold's voice" which is supposedly a humanoid robot designed to act as a quality control device for hazmat suits, but is so over engineered for that purpose that it can walk, carry shit, do pushups, kneel down in that "i'm going to take a nice steady shot at you" pose, and actually looks like a goddamned terminator.

Now, they just broke the legged robot speed record with "Cheetah: you can't run fast enough".
it runs 18mph.

(it's running to the left in that image, incidentally)
Jesus that's fast.

here's video of it chasing a terrorist sympathizer down your neighborhood street.

as further robotic tools of our bostonian overlords come out, i'll stick them in this thread.
As my Spiritual Adviser has required, i read through some Zen Koans from a specific collection, and have written up my thoughts on the matter.

2.   Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road

Wait. This is a Koan?  I'm not confused at all!  I want my money back.
So, this fellow was a drunkard and wife beater.  Gudo says he can help the guy, and does nothing but allow his presence to shame him, and the guy decides to follow Gudo forever. (forsaking his family, presumably)  We are then told that Modern Zen is derived from this guy's work.  Well, that's just as bad as that damned Indian prince that tried to convince everyone to commit spiritual suicide, abandoning his own family in the process!
Conclusion: crap story. Not a Koan.

3.   Is That So?

The lesson at first appears to be that by accepting the guilt of despoiling the young girl that was not his to bear, Hakuin spared her and the actual father, for the time being, from facing the mess that they had created, and he thereby acted rightly.  However, upon reflection, the  lesson would seem to be an indictment of the girl's parents for accepting her testimony without question showing that things are not always what they seem.  Of course, this is a clichéd aphorism that I first remember hearing from an episode of He-Man, so I suspect that I am missing something from this revered text.

5.   If You Love, Love Openly 

An admonition of secret love?  The abandon that Eshun required doesn't seem prudent.  Perhaps the lesson is that Love should not be prudent...

7.   Announcement 

I got nothing.  However, I now see that these 'koans' are not 13th century texts. Fraud! Deceit! Enlightenment!

23.   Eshun's Departure 

She's pretty cold for being on fire...  I mean, she spent her final breath to call one of her followers stupid?  what am i to learn of this, apart from 'keep your mouth shut when someone is immolating themselves, lest something stupid fall out'?

40.   In Dreamland

I like this one. It shows the beauty of an obvious lie that shines a spotlight on an obvious truth. A medal to the clever disciple!

19.   The First Principle

The First Principle being without cause, without context, immediate, and with no supervision or approval.  I like the way the notion of First Principle is brought into the midst of cause, context, and timeliness, indicating what is necessary for the impulse of action.

56.   The True Path
QuoteJust before Ninakawa passed away the Zen master Ikkyu visited him. "Shall I lead you on?" Ikkyu asked.
Ninakawa replied: "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?"
Ikkyu answered: "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and no going."
With his words, Ikkyu had revealed the path so clearly that Ninakawa smilled and passed away.

There is iron in this one.  It brings to mind the notion that I have used to assuage the tension I felt when I abandoned my faith regarding what happens 'after death'.  Upon reflecting on 'the coming' before we are born, and the lack of anxiety at that end of our existence, why should there be anxiety regarding 'the going'?  From a detached, big picture perspective, why should temporal limitation in the weave of the cosmos be upsetting whereas spatial limitation is not?  Or, perhaps more closely related, scale of mind?
The obvious answer is that we are wired to be anxious of our life ending, so as to increase the probability of our reproduction.  Or more accurately, if we were not wired that way, we wouldn't be here.
Recognizing this fact, and accepting it, can we not detach ourselves from this anxiety on the more existential level?  Recognizing that we will die, can we not act to delay the event without consternation that we cannot ultimately avoid it?
From the largest perspective, the cosmos is not the momentary slice of time that we are experiencing right now, with the past no longer existing, and the future more (or less) important.  It is a unified whole.  The segment of our life, in this context has no going, and no coming.  Given this, there should be no reason to lament that the continuity of our experience is a segment, rather than a ray.
I don't know if this thought will comfort me in my final moment, allowing me to 'smill and pass away'.  I hope so, however.  Because it's all that I've been able to get behind so far, and it comforts me enough that I no longer search for further comfort with any significant urgency.
So my wife just calls me up and says that she was with the boys at the mall and they were watching the skaters in the ice rink.  she turns around and, descending the staircase behind her, she sees a person.

the person was in a full niqab type burqa.  not unseen in our city, but not terribly common.
the person was not hunched, but walking with a long striding gait and bent a bit, as if to appear shorter.
as the person walked by she saw that the hands were those of a man.  (thick hair, and large).
he (wife couldn't kept referring to the person in masculine) had a purse, but appeared uncomfortable with it, as it was a designer type with those ring handles, and he was trying to put it over his shoulders, though it was clearly not meant to be worn like that.
due to the long gait, the burqa kicked up in back, and she noted the person was wearing combat style boots.

she said it sent off alarm bells in her, which she generally doesn't get.
she stayed in the mall for about 30 more minutes, until she realized that she was simply staying to prove to herself that she wasn't frightened, and that this was not a good enough reason, and left.

she called me up because she had to tell somebody, but clearly wanted my advice, and after agreeing that it sounded odd, i said i would probably just sit on it.  i wouldn't want to feed into rednecked stereotyping.  i'm not afraid of terrorism.  i wouldn't want to feed into a paranoid society. and if there were some nefarious goings on, why the hell would the person wear something bound to attract attention? (unless the goal was simply to attract attention)
i texted her back about ten minutes later and said that maybe she should call the mall security.  i knew that it would sit on her if she didn't, and she agreed.  she called them up, and after giving a brief description, they indicated that they knew exactly who she was talking about, thanked her, and would follow up.

what're your thoughts on this, PD?
it was probably nothing.
would you call?
RPG Ghetto / painted miniatures
November 14, 2011, 02:04:20 AM
Anybody here paint minis for tabletop rpg?

I had some in the closet that were from over a decade ago when my friend and i were just screwing around with a simple game called warchest.  it was fun painting them, but i had mostly forgotten about it.

my kiddos pulled them out a couple weeks ago, and we were playing with them for fun.  i checked my paints, but they were dried shut and ancient, so i went to the comic store and got a few minis and some paints, and found that it's really relaxing to geek out on.

i was looking online to learn how to paint better, and saw some incredible work out there!

I'd love to be half this good!

High Weirdness / Janus Cat
September 27, 2011, 09:46:43 PM
So here's a cat with two faces.  a so-called 'Janus Cat'.  its name is Frank and Louie.
What's neat about this cat is that it's 12 years old!
not often that a disfigurement like this is still viable for a long life.

Video in link-o
I lost my friend yesterday.
This is Ivan

My oldest and, really, my only friend.
He was murdered in his home by some dirtbag that didn't like the fact that his ex was now seeing him.
I loved this guy like a brother. and now i am only filled with regret for time lost, and the trivialities that i was ever mad at him over.    and deep sympathy for his father and brother who survived him.
and rage.  i want the guy that did this to have evil visited upon him.

i normally wouldn't bring something like this here, but... i just had to spill it to somebody.
and like i said, Ivan was really my only friend.
In regards to metaphysical realities, i try to be agnostic and skeptical.  I've worked up some rudimentary beliefs that seem rational to me, and although lacking real concrete details, work reasonably well in filling the gap left by abandoning an inherited faith.

My wife never grew up without any particular structured faith, and developed her spirituality in ad hoc fashion from what she gleaned from the various people around her, with a draw towards supernatural/madjique (which she holds with some degree of secrecy and guilt rather than the frequently brash displays of the 'Pagan' crowd)

Well, although i sometimes mock what i see as unfounded belief in supernatural horsefeathers and use of horribly imprecise language to discuss abstract concepts, i give her great leeway and preferential respect in these matters because of the stories she has told me regarding her experiences of what would most often be described as spiritual or supernatural occurrences.  I believe that she perceived what she claims to have perceived, and i cannot explain some of it.  she has around a dozen life experiences that take a mundane world model that i would otherwise default to, and blow it out of the water.  Furthermore, i've been present with a few of them (although not the really dramatic ones).

Last night she had another experience.  This was more significant in its implications, to my mind, than those in her past.
A dead lady talked through her.

She got off work last night and went to a bar to grab a gin and tonic and a smoke before heading home.  There was this fellow that had crawled into a glass, miserable, and had apparently been there all day.  At some point they were talking and he was making vague comments that he was mad about an ex getting married that day.  She's a very empathetic person (a real fixer/healer), and i would assume was trying to encourage him when he said something that suggested the ex was the mother of his children, but not his wife.  At this point in the conversation, she said the bottom dropped out.

She described that the feeling of presence when you are near somebody that is sort of a connection, but also a separation, was no longer there.  she felt a unity with this guy, where some barrier fell away.  She further felt a presence trying to communicate.  she has said that she has felt this before, but hasn't ever pursued it because of some combination of fear or cynicism, but this time, she reached out and asked who this was.  what was wanted.  She says she very clearly heard the word 'Grandmother' in her head.
She told the guy his grandmother wanted to say something to him.

she says she saw very clearly in her minds eye some images.  she said she saw a bird.  and a cat.  they flashed back and forth.  (i asked whether she was actively looking, or passively seeing, and she said she felt that she could not have 'not seen' the images even if she tried)  She tells the guy that she sees a bird, and the guy shrugs saying he doesn't know what birds have to do with his grandmother.  She says it's a red bird.  he immediately gives a look of surprise and questioning understanding, and at this point she says she knew to say that the orange cat killed the red bird.  he's shocked at this point because the day before, there was a red bird on the balcony of his apartment and he didn't know what to make of it.  there is a neighbors cat that he is fond of and pets.  She felt that his grandmother wanted to say not to worry about it because the bird was an offering of friendship.  the guy's amazed.

now this is strange, right?  not a simple coincidence that one would expect in a cold reading.
I asked her whether the things she felt to say were strong intuitions.  she says she felt that they were not coming from within her but from the grandmother.  she said that this time (as opposed to some less dramatic occurrences in the past) she actually heard the grandmother speaking, too.  a distant murmur that she could make some words out of, along with the images presented to her.

She then tells the guy that the bird isn't what the grandmother needs to tell him, though.  She said she heard the grandmother speaking verbally inside her head that 'the number 7 isn't important', and that he needs to live.

The guy busts out crying and relates that the reason he's drowning himself in a bar is because of his Ex that is marrying some other guy.  She was apparently a gold digger, and they lived in their fancy ass house with fancy ass lifestyle and she was a trophy that became more.  they had kids and lived together for 7 years.  She left him a year or two ago, and through common law marriage stuff was able to milk him for all he was worth.  She milked him for, -get this-, seven hundred and seventy seven thousand dollars.  now he's a ruined man, living in a crappy apartment, giving up on actually living.  stuck in the suck.  So this little message was of immediate impact to him.

She tells the guy that she sees a bowl of lemons.  whole lemons in a bowl. a bunch of them.  he says he received a giant bowl of lemons as a gift from somebody and they are taking up a ton of space in his fridge and he doesn't know what to do with them.  She heard and relayed from the grandmother that he needs to make lemonade.  The grandmother said that she was given lemons and always made lemonade, and that's what he needs to do.

The guy then relates that his Grandmother was the saint of the family because it was an open secret that the grandfather was a philanderer and hurt her their whole life, but she kept it all together and gave the whole family the love that it needed despite this.

she says she saw images of some kids and that the grandmother was telling him that they were what was important now, and that he needs to begin living for their sake.  this also seemed to hit him like a ton of bricks.

She says that the grandmother told him that lust was standing in the way of love, and he needs to stop what he's doing.  The guy then confesses, crying, to my wife that he has been seeing a prostitute to get the affection that he needs, but it's eating him up.  well, grandma says to stop it, she says.

she says that she could SEE the grandmother in her mind's eye with decent detail.  she had short white hair with tight curls,  very vividly blue eyes, was short, wore brightly colored clothes (that were vague in detail, more swaths of light), and gaudy necklaces.  was accompanied by the smell of cooking, and a sense of structure and order.
he confirmed that these details didn't falsify anything.

she says the images she sees are set in a background of light or mist.  like clouds composed of the spectrum of light.  she called it the medium that she sees the images in, and that it is dynamic and that the images form on this backdrop as isolated stills.  like the bird was just a bird, no surface that it was on, no movement.  (incidentally she said that the detail was vivid enough that she could draw it.  it had one wing down, one lifted up, and it's tail was cocked to the side.  it seemed a strange pose initially, but became perfectly clear to her after she realized it was dead)  She said the images seemed to 'come out at her'.  like, particularly when she saw the grandmother the eyes seemed to zoom at her and fill with more detail.

She says the connection she felt was 'L-shaped'  coming from him through her, and then up through her head, and out.  she also said that it felt directional in that way.

she says he started asking for more information, but as his mind filled with questions she could feel his concentration waning and frustration growing.  she said there was a simultaneous sense of frustration and waning concentration on the part of the grandmother, and it faded away.

the ordeal lasted about an hour.

she was very freaked out.  She wanted to know my opinion on whether what she experienced seemed genuine or whether she was just filling her head with bullshit.  i indicated that it seemed to me that a mundane explanation would feel pretty hollow given the story at hand.

I could feel a peace in her that has not been there since losing several loved ones over the past year, and i'm grateful for that.

we stayed up late discussing the implications.

I'm still chewing on it and wondering what the longer term impact this experience will have on her and her beliefs, and also mine.

TL;DR - My Wife talked to a dead lady last night.  What do i do now?
RPG Ghetto / RPGs for kiddos...
July 13, 2011, 05:14:51 PM
Does anybody have experience with any RPGs for little kids?
a quick google search turns up results, but i was wondering if anyone here has personal recommendations...
Oh, what the fuck.....

that is -bad parenting-
IMO, these people got an outlandish idea in their heads and decided to roll with it, despite the onslaught of valid and important arguments against it, and at the cost of their child's well being.

Techmology and Scientism / Hey Charley....
May 09, 2011, 04:11:10 PM
You had that thread about crazy impractical vehicular awesomeness that MUST HAVE!

I can't find it...  (i can't get search on PD to bend to my will evar...)

but i saw this and i wanted to add it to the thread:
Be the King of the Lake!

I don't remember who's carrying the mantle anymore, but i have been instructed by my state's Fearless Leader to pray to you....

gawd, he's a douche...
The previously most ridiculous thing that I've personally laid hands on that you all as taxpayers shelled out for was a 400 dollar jumper wire.  But I got it beat today!
This cable just came through on one program from an aircraft vendor ...

Here's the purchase order... Check out what it says under 'amount'

Yah.  It's a 20 grand cable...
And before you go spouting off about how you're not paying for it because you're from some dutchspagistan, or our hat or something.... I assure you that 'merica will pass the savings on to you!
I'm pretty impressed!
for anyone that is unfamiliar with the story, Watson is an IBM computer.  after they did the Deep Blue thing and beat Kasparov at chess, they wanted a bigger challenge.  the guys that were involved were at a restaurant mulling over what would be a good challenge for a super computer to beat a human at, and a bunch of patrons crowded in to the bar.  upon investigating what the hub bub was, they found it was Ken Jennings doing his famous Jeopardy! run.  a-ha!  there's the answer....

so this machine is pretty damned impressive at processing natural language and answering questions.  er.... at questioning answers, that is.

it's a three day game, and yesterday was the second day with Watson kicking Jennings and Rutter's collective ass. 

in between rounds they have little bumpers where the IBM guys talk about the Watson software and capabilities, and how they hope it will help humanity.
Like i said, i'm pretty damned impressed.


i didn't want to fully jack Kai's excellent thread on our destruction of the biosphere, but in it you mentioned fully spelling out your take on how things might go down in the near to medium term future.

I'd be interested in you spilling it, if you don't mind taking a minute to do so.

My take is thus:

-it is clearly evident that the distribution of resources among the population is 'L shaped', with a select few controlling the vast majority of it.
-it seems likely that some percentage of this crowd sees the trajectory that we are on as a species, and the crumbling that is taking place.
-it seems perfectly natural to me that there would be groups that form among this crowd with the intention of preparing themselves for continued survival through the coming crises.  i don't know how large any of these groups may be, and based on human nature would assume that they have not aggregated into one giant 'illuminati' with a singular focus, but i'm sure there are a few groups that are pretty darned powerful.
-if i were someone of this sort, it would seem natural to think in terms of us/them, with 'them' being the 'little people', 'useless eaters', or 'massive human liability that will drag us down with them unless we strike first'.
-i would think that there are some groups that take the cold, hard view of Malthus, that we simply cannot tolerate the population size that we have, let alone what it is heading towards.  thus they could very well be planning for large scale depopulation.
-i would guess that starvation would be the weapon of choice, as it is cheap, effective, and has historical precedent.

beyond this, i don't know...

what is your view?

others feel free to chip in with your view of our coming dystopia...
High Weirdness / Ohh, rearry?!
April 20, 2010, 04:38:27 PM
A new syndrome to fake!!
anyone ever heard of this?

A British woman has suddenly started speaking with a Chinese accent after suffering a severe migraine, she said in comments quoted by British media Tuesday.

Sarah Colwill believes she has Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) which has caused her distinctive West Country drawl to be replaced with a Chinese twang, even though she has never even visited the country.

i mean, wtf, man?
Aneristic Illusions / the Joe Stack Manifesto
February 18, 2010, 09:05:58 PM
As you may be aware, this guy, Joe Stack flew his little plane into the IRS building in Austin.
This is the letter that he left on his company website just before his last flight.
what do you guys think?

QuoteIf you're reading this, you're no doubt asking yourself, "Why did this have to happen?" The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn't enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless... especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I'm not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was "no taxation without representation". I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a "crackpot", traitor and worse.

While very few working people would say they haven't had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country's leaders don't see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political "representatives" (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the "terrible health care problem". It's clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don't get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

And justice? You've got to be kidding!

How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly "holds accountable" its victims, claiming that they're responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law "requires" a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that's not "duress" than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.

How did I get here?

My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early '80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having 'tax code' readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful "exemptions" that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the "best", high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the "big boys" were doing (except that we weren't steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two "interpretations" for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us... Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.

That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their "freedom"... and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.

Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of "paying my dues"), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.

On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I'm sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.

The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.

In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be "healthier" eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn't quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn't trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.

Return to the early '80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a 'wet-behind-the-ears' contract software engineer... and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.

For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report ( regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (


(a) IN GENERAL - Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:

(d) EXCEPTION. - This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. - The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.


· "another person" is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.

· "taxpayer" is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.

· "individual", "employee", or "worker" is you.

Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it's not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can't believe my eyes.

During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my 'pocket change', and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their "freedom". Oh, and don't forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn't bill clients.

After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren't going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.

Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.

Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn't need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to "shore up" their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.

Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, 'special' facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars ... as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.

By this time, I'm thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I'll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I've never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages... and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn't give a **** about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.

To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn't have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn't notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.

So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I'd never enter another accountant's office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.

When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl's unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn't have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.

This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is... well, just look around.

I remember reading about the stock market crash before the "great" depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn't it ironic how far we've come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn't have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it's "business-as-usual". Now when the wealthy **** up, the poor get to die for the mistakes... isn't that a clever, tidy solution.

As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.

I know I'm hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn't limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at "big brother" while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won't continue; I have just had enough.

I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn't so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.

I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let's try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.

The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.

Joe Stack (1956-2010)

Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Nestle's hotline
January 16, 2010, 05:09:40 PM
Nestle's hotline is excellent. :D
Call 1-800-295-0051
there's a short message, then the operator says press one for english, two for spanish.
don't press anything.
wait for several seconds.
a further menu is presented.
press 4
listen to the menu.
select whatever you care for.
7 was good.
Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Puzzle review
December 21, 2009, 04:51:57 AM
So, i like physical puzzles.  and there's an assload of pretty damn good ones out there on the market.  My father in law has a good collection which i have sampled, and i have shelled out some bucks for a few of the really good ones (like this one i'm about to tell you) and some of the classic ones (like the horseshoes and ring, rubik's cube, etc.)
So I just got this one today for an early christmas present from my mother in law.  It's called Perplexus...

The name sucks.  It bothers me.
The colors are gaudy. I'd rather they not suck, too.
The game/puzzle is really good though.
It's a dexterity puzzle with a ball on track type schtick encased in a clear plastic sphere, obviously.  When i first pulled it out and screwed around with it for a minute, it seemed pretty simple and it looked like it wouldn't take but a couple minutes to go through it. 
after coming back to it later today i realized that what i thought were three separate little tracks are just three starting points that you can choose such that once you pass the first section, which ends continuously where the second one begins, you can start there after you fuckup.  This is necessary because on the second part, you fuckup a lot.
a lot.
there's some little twists that make you want to chew your fucking lips off just so that anyone around you might not question the sincerity of your grimace.
at that point on most games i feel that it suffers from an unnecessarily difficult hoop to jump through that doesn't add to the elegance of the game.  On this puzzle, however, i haven't found anything that isn't a worthwhile difficulty, so it keeps you interested.
there's also, some little tricks in the path that, although not difficult, are clever, and add to the gee whiz even after you've gone through them fifty times.   A few of the curves, although not terribly dangerous, cause the ball to roll faster than comfortable after the previous tricky sequence, and make you oh shit every time, even though you've never fucked up there.  that's good design.

so, if you like puzzles. buy this one.

What puzzles have any of you done lately that you found particularly good/notable?
good idea -
My (almost) three yo son is a creature of habit.  When i put him down to bed the routine should be just so, and if you try to alter it, he looks at you like your an idiot, and insists that you do it right.  we sing some songs before bed.  they are in a specific order.
twinkle twinkle comes first.
then row, row, row your boat.
then there is the option of a few others.
then it ends with jack be nimble.
a couple days ago, i tried to start with row, row, row your boat, and was quickly interrupted that it was twinkle twinkle that we had to do.  I started in, but then mixed the words with row, row, row....  it tripped him up for barely a second before realizing he was being had, and he got upset that i would cheat him thusly.  so i apologized for my accidental screw up and we completed the ritual.
Last night, i was a little more subtle... i started as expected with twinkle twinkle, but sang it to the tune of row, row, row your boat.  I had to run it through my head first, and figured i might screw it up, but it actually didn't sound very forced in the end.  it worked great.  He had a look on his face that he knew something wasn't quite right, and he didn't sing along.  but he didn't immediately catch that he was being cheated.  it was as if he was question his own perceptions or memory rather than what i was presenting to him.
the best part was that half way through he started singing along with the proper incorrect tune, as if it was perfectly natural.  Then, we sang row, row, row with the tune of twinkle twinkle, and he took to it naturally from the beginning without any problem...
after we finished, that song he had a look on his face like he was deep in thought (for a toddler).

-bad idea

whats the status on that Discordian Parenting project?  Were you planning on spearheading it?
Mathematically Correct Breakfast
How to Slice a Bagel into Two Linked Halves by George W. Hart

It is not hard to cut a bagel into two equal halves which are linked like two links of a chain.

To start, you must visualize four key points. Center the bagel at the origin, circling the Z axis.
A is the highest point above the +X axis. B is where the +Y axis enters the bagel.
C is the lowest point below the -X axis. D is where the -Y axis exits the bagel.

These sharpie markings on the bagel are just to help visualize the geometry
and the points. You don't need to actually write on the bagel to cut it properly.

The line ABCDA, which goes smoothly through all four key points, is the cut line.
As it goes 360 degrees around the Z axis, it also goes 360 degrees around the bagel.

The red line is like the black line but is rotated 180 degrees (around Z or through the hole).
An ideal knife could enter on the black line and come out exactly opposite, on the red line.
But in practice, it is easier to cut in halfway on both the black line and the red line.
The cutting surface is a two-twist Mobius strip; it has two sides, one for each half.

After being cut, the two halves can be moved but are still linked together, each passing through
the hole of the other. (So when you buy your bagels, pick ones with the biggest holes.)

If you visualize the key points and a smooth curve connecting them, you do
not need to draw on the bagel. Here the two parts are pulled slightly apart.

If your cut is neat, the two halves are congruent. They are of the same handedness.
(You can make both be the opposite handedness if you follow these instructions in a mirror.)
You can toast them in a toaster oven while linked together, but move them around every
minute or so, otherwise some parts will cook much more than others, as shown in this half.

It is much more fun to put cream cheese on these bagels than on an ordinary bagel. In additional to
the intellectual stimulation, you get more cream cheese, because there is slightly more surface area.
Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / corporate sabotage
November 20, 2009, 04:28:41 AM
Would it be an effective form of corporate sabotage to make a video that you were fairly certain would go viral and blatantly infringes on a third parties copyrighted material with content you were certain that they would find significantly objectionable, and then make it into a target companies product advertisement?  the hope would be, i guess, that the third party (who would suffer as collateral damage...) would litigate the target forcing it to expend resources, and perhaps suffer some PR points with a key consumer target...
I'm currently drunk on something i've no idea how to pronounce.
please to provide pronunciation for "Glenmorangie"
also, as my bottle is now empty, please to provide recommendations on my next bottle of Scotch Whiskey.....
a thousand thanks from a drunken Yank.
Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Black and WTF
November 05, 2009, 06:30:17 PM
So much awesome in one place!

Techmology and Scientism / Death to the Moonpeople!
June 18, 2009, 01:40:04 PM
Well, it appears NASA finally took my advice, and is going to bomb the shit out of the moon....

jeez... it took long enough, but we can all sleep a little better now.  :wink:
Discordian Recipes / Reccommendations for cook top
April 18, 2009, 02:44:14 AM
So we have some gourmet type folks on this board, and i figured i'd give it a whirl asking yous guys opinions.
I need to get a new range, and am thinking of going the flat top route, and wonder if you guys have any good/bad experiences with any particular ones or if you have any specific recommendations.
wife does the cooking (i suck)
she cooks often, so it would get lots of use
currently have coil electric type and have decided that it sucks because of dirty factor. i realize that the ceramic flat type are a pita to clean, but at least they can be cleaned proper.
we don't have gas so that's out of the question.
expecting to spend around 600.  (i have no idea what they go for and what the quality/price breaks are)
i figured the cooking gurus could best point me in the proper direction for researching.
Literate Chaotic / Books to confuse your children by
August 31, 2008, 04:35:30 PM
So i made this score at the Half-priced books the other day and thought i would share it.
It seemed innocuous at first.

It has various lift a flaps with objects and their names on them on the odd numbered pages, but on the even numbered pages it has object associations on them.
Here we see some foods.  Here's a flap with a donut

What would one naturally associate with that tasty pastry?

Why, the Spider lurking underneath it, of course!  (incidentally we had donuts for breakfast today so my kid is running around like hes on PCP or something)
Next, we see a fork.

I've always associated forks with the male gender, since they're stabby and all, but

This one's a forkin nancy!

Last example is some feathers.

welll....I guess this one makes sense....

on weeeeeeeed!

ok..... there's many more, but that's enough.  I showed it to my friends and they all seem to think that it would be bad parenting to introduce your child to seemingly strange and random associations for things... Sucks for my kids, if thats the case, because they are going to associate donuts and spiders for the rest of their life.....