Chick-fil-A Stupidity

Here they go again. Speaking without thinking. Here are a couple of reality checks.

There are a lot more rules about marriage in the bible and much like the “one man and one woman ” selective reading, they are just as insane. What the bible really says about marriage. Marriage may be between one man and one or more women. The man is allowed concubines. Marriage may only be to a virgin. May only be between believers. No divorce. And of course these rules are all conflicted with in the text as well.
Our constitution does NOT protect a stupid mans statements, only his right to make them. If people, like me, are offended, the constitution DOES protect our right to object to the foolish statements by withholding our use of their restaurant and objecting to their opening new locations.

An interesting side effect of the Religious Right’s objecting to the cities objections and attempts to prevent Chick-fil-A restaurants opening in “enlightened” cities may well lead to more strip clubs and adult entertainment. Again, our constitution at work. The First Amendment doesn’t allow limits on free speech so it doesn’t allow control of such activities.  Our courts have determined that cities may prevent them because of their “secondary” effects on the community. The same can be said for preventing Chick-fil-A restaurants because of their effects on the community by inspiring lack of logical thought on its citizens and therefore a bad influence on our children.

People Kill People, Cars Don’t

Another mass murderer used a gun, no wait an arsenal, to murder 12 people. I still have to wonder why we are not civilized enough here in the US to have gun control. The constitution really doesn’t prohibit it as I’ve commented on previously. Most civilized nations do. Crime always is reduced. Deaths by weapons are always reduced. The title of this post is my attempt to show the absurdity of not regulating guns. We have driving speed laws and a whole list of procedures for vehicle use. Almost none for guns. That is crazy! In my opinion we should prosecute not only the murderer but all the enablers as well. Someone sold him the guns and supplies and any sane person should have recognized the intended purpose by the “Next day delivery” and quantities and materials ordered. They all share the blame. I just read a truly informative article about Brazil’s very successful efforts and results of gun control. Too bad we, collectively, aren’t smart enough to do the same.

Here are the relevant portions of the US constitution related to gun control:

Article I – The Legislative Branch, Section 8 – Powers of Congress.

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Sorry folks and Dear Justices, there not only is nothing to prevent gun control, there is a specific mandate to control them.

US Budget, Very Cunfusing?

I was listening to the reports of the trillion dollar cut to the military budget by President Obama and I decided to look into it. How much is the military budget? How much would it affect their budget. It turns out their annual budget is a little over .6 trillion so according to that they will owe the budget .4 trillion each year. Obviously something is amiss. It turns out numbers are confusing and the military is even more confused. The GAO (Government Accounting Office) can’t rate the military budget as accurate or misleading because of the lack of proper accounting practices. That’s reassuring. The costs for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not even included in the military budget and are classified as supplemental budget items so the actual military budget is actually higher than the .6 trillion. An accurate cost of the wars isn’t available since there are the direct costs of killing and blowing things up and then there are the indirect costs of the impact on the Vetrans Administration and the like. The one trillion dollar cut must be a multi-year total cut?

The one piece of information I did find on the budget that I think I can trust as accurate is available on Wikipedia. Two graphs that I find most interesting show where the money comes from and where it goes in pie charts. US Federal Spending and US Federal Tax Receipts.

There are three interesting items that become obvious when looking at the pie charts. The military budget, Social Security budget, and Medicare budget amounts are about equal. From a cost benefit analysis I would think the military proportion is too high. But the second thing that becomes obvious is that social security taxes account for about 33% more than social security benefits. The rest is used by other items in the budget like the military. That tears a hole in the argument that cutting social security payments is needed. Obviously they wouldn’t be cutting the social security taxes so the intent would seem to be to move the benefit payments to other budget items for which they are not intended. The third thing that is obvious, looking at the tax receipts pie chart, is how corporations really do pay nothing relative to their income. We really do need to increase corporate taxes. Yes we might pay the increased taxes in the end but we also might not. It would provide a great incentive to buy from the little businesses that are not corporations like your neighbor. He’s already paying his share.


If you are religious, try reading this article by Ricky Gervais. If you’re not enlightened, your not trying hard enough. I couldn’t have explained why I’m an effective atheist any better except for two things. I actually consider myself an agnostic because I’m not omnipotent and can’t say for sure there isn’t a god or gods. However, I haven’t seen anything to indicate there is one or more. If you are enlightened, you can still be religious if you must, just hopefully more like Jesus. I also tend to believe anyone who is religious and insists on others believing exactly like them is unworthy of either going to their heaven or continued existence on earth.

Oral History Films

Why is it that Hollywood makes such lousy films for great amounts of money and independent film makers make great films for so little. Some of the best films are the short films used as fillers on our local PBS station. Two that I’ve found really good recently are films by Rauch Brothers. They are short animated films using the soundtrack from short audio tracks heard on NPR radio. StoryCorps makes the oral history recordings. They are recordings of real people. The two I liked recently are Danny and Annie and Q & A. The animation is simple but very effective and the characterizations are excellent. Another good show is Image Makers. If only Hollywood could make films like these.

Stupid Spam

I often receive spam chain messages, you know, the type. They always say you will die if you don’t send it to all your friends or similar text causing them to arrive in my inbox. They always take some partial fact or something out of context and try to push people’s buttons.

This most recent one was anti Justice Kagan and pro NRA neither of which I agree with. I happen to think Ms Kagan will make a good justice and think everyone would be better off if there were no NRA.

Things have been going well recently for the NRA. The actual ruling against Chicago may not be too bad since it only allows a gun within your own home. Even I might not be able to entirely disagree with that. The idea of allowing everyone to carry or even continue to allow those that do carry firearms worries me. I am possibly a little extreme in that I’d also like to not allow the police to carry a firearm or a taser either. Obviously they aren’t any more qualified in their use than John Q. Public. Not having guns seems to work in England. When the police need them they can get them. Now if we really need a militia, that the constitution does allow to carry firearms, then form and regulate them. Seems to me the National Guard replaced the militia many years ago. Just what is the difference in a rogue militia and a gang of thugs? They don’t seem to be helping in Africa, Afghanistan or Iraq!

The second amendment to the US constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

If you want the second part you need the first part, regulation. Regulation apparently isn’t infringing per the amendment.

Since guns are banned in England references are often made as to how bad it is there or how it got worse since guns were outlawed. There are also claims that knife attacks increase. The facts don’t support the claims.

US gun homicide deaths are three times those in the UK, same for death by knives. Total deaths by gun (accident, homicide, suicide, etc) in the US are 36 times those of Britain. Reducing the availability of guns should reduce gun deaths. There is no real assurance that knife deaths will rise as a consequence. Most murders are a consequence of the availability of a weapon, not premeditation. A knife has a very limited range, about 3 feet. A bullet from a gun has a very much larger range. Mass murderers tend to choose a gun over a knife.

It’s hard to do direct comparisons but it can be determined that you are less likely to be murdered in the UK by a gun or a knife. If you are murdered there it is almost assuredly by a knife. But you are eight times more likely to be killed in the US by knife than in the UK. It is true there has been a recent rise in knife deaths in the UK, especially in Glasgow, but the new total is used in these comparisons and is still 1/8th that of the US. One problem in comparing is classifications, fire arms/handguns and knives/sharp objects.

Statistics are easy to misuse. The spam messages and the above prove Mark Twain was correct when he said “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Use common sense.

Imagine You’re At The Gate

I often wonder why people act as they do, especially how they vote. I have a sign on my refrigerator that says a lot to me about why things are proceeding so poorly, especially recently. The sign says “Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Stupid People In Large Groups”. I think the need for that concern has increased vastly in the past 60 years due mostly to television. The Internet accelerated the development of the problem even more. The problem is stupid people. I have to admit that I am too often in the group. The election of George Bush was a true indicator of the voting by the group. The re-election as well. I wasn’t part of the group for either. I have said all this to say this.

What if people made their decisions as if they eventually would have a conversation with God. Isn’t that the expressed idea of Christians?

  • “I gave you a wonderful Earth, why did you pollute it?”
  • “How could you allow so many people to starve?”
  • “Why didn’t you use the science I gave you to prevent Aids?”
  • “Why did you think a church group was intended to persecute other people?”

God would have a lot of questions.

If most of those “stupid” people actually acted with the interests of the whole rather than just selfish interests, we’d all be much better off.

While stupid people are not hypothetical, the idea of my belief in God or that the bible is more than a good book is. I do try to think globally and about what would be best for all. Unfortunately, I haven’t ever taken it to an extreme, yet. I do watch TV, though less every day. I haven’t joined the peace corp, yet. I occasionally feel guilty about both. Someday, maybe I’ll leave the group for good?

Efficiency, Go UPS

An observation today on the state of the economy and wise decisions. Our neighborhood, like most, has a lot of traffic. Some of that traffic is the postman, the UPS, Fedex, and other deliveries. Much of that traffic has gone down recently. High gas prices, failing economy? The real interesting thing is that the postman still drives into the neighborhood every day to deliver less mail (Is that what it takes to reduce junk mail, a bad economy?). They tend to drive a lot more than necessary driving to each block segment to deliver both sides of the street. Some in the past drove to each house but that seems to have died down. Back in the old days, postmen used to be dropped off and they carried the mail house to house and picked up more as needed in a lockbox on the street that a delivery truck dropped off after delivering the postmen. Quite efficient. I don’t know why each postman now has a vehicle. Is that the main reason for the rise in postage?Anyway, I noticed that the UPS truck doesn’t come by any more and I rarely see the Fedex truck. That is probably a sign of the reduction in the economy, but what is really interesting is that the UPS man does still come by, just not in his truck. He pushes a handtruck down the street with all sorts of packages on it. I don’t even see his truck anywhere nearby? I don’t know what the Fedex guy is doing since I don’t see it come by as often but haven’t seen him walking either? Looks like UPS is smarter than the postal service, as usual. In lean times, reduce costs, do things more efficiently. Take notice USPS! I don’t know if this is UPS wide or just a smarter driver but I like the idea.

Efficiency! UPS is great! I received a package this morning. I happened to check my email 30 minutes later and noticed I had received an email from UPS stating my package was delivered to my front door. The email was 28 minutes old. Basically the package delivery information and notification was instantaneous and detailed. Are you listening postal service? We live in a realtime world, join us. I am disappointed a little though. The package left Sunnyvale (about 10 miles from our home) Friday evening. It wentup to South San Francisco and spent the weekend there (vacation?). It was delivered at 1pm. That’s basically a one day delivery if you don’t count the time sitting around all weekend. I did get an email Friday evening that it would be delivered Monday, again effeciency. Now, can they work on not wasting gas (oil) on carrying a package the unnecessary extra 60 miles. Not as bad as Fedex that would probably have flown it to Kansas or somewhere to go across the street.

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