Monday, December 25, 2006

Hope You Have a Good One

That is all... ;)

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Education of a Wondering Man: Chapter 2 -- Limited Liability

Over at the knitted garden, Beth told us a tale of hard work and the people that shirk it. But her post also posits the question of how did we get this way?

Along my travels, I've had to consider this question quite a bit, and it becomes necessary to really examine the roots of it all.

Some may say that it's a result of greed, or a trickle down from management, and they wouldn't be incorrect, but they're seeing another symptom rather than the root cause.

I didn't start this blog to be educational, so the rest of you will just have to take the bad with the good. =P

At its very simplest, a society falls into one of two categories, those that practice strict liability, and those that practice some form of limited liability. Strict liability societies are ones in which the individual is solely responsible for his or her own actions. Limited liability societies are ones where the individual may avoid responsibility for his or her own actions by participating in some type of state sanctioned program.

When this country was established, it was based on what we were familiar with, that being the English Common Law. And if you trace the roots of the common law, you'll find that it is basically derived from the Mosaic law found in the old testament of the bible.

Now the mosaic law is one of strict liability. The individual cannot avoid the liabilities associated with violations of the law, and is strictly responsible for his own survival. There are no safety nets. If you do not provide for your old age, you die of starvation. If you build a house out of straw and it blows down, you become homeless. If you overuse your ground and it becomes barren, you will suffer the result. The advantage of this system is that you reap your successes, and you suffer for your failings. No one picks up the slack.

What this does is create a system wherein the individual has a built in check and balance against everything he does. You must practice good husbandry of the land, or you will starve. You must practice fiscal responsibility for your old age, or you will starve. You follow the law because if you don't, you pay the penalty.

The problem is that it's a cold, merciless system, and most people cannot bear to step over the bodies of those that were too foolish. We operated as a strict liability society for a very long time, but then we started practicing fiscal irresponsibility and the great depression occurred. There was much suffering and gnashing of teeth. So we as a nation decided, as one of my mentors is fond of saying, that God made a mistake, so we fixed it.

We started to provide people with a way to limit their liabilities. Insurance was offered, and most people gladly came on board. Social safety nets were created, and people gladly came on board. The rules for creating corporations were relaxed, and people created corporations ad nauseum to insulate them from liability.

The unfortunate side effect of limited liability is that a Bart Simpson mentality takes over. Ididn'tdoitnobodysawmedoityoucan'tproveanything. People stopped taking responsibility for themselves and their actions. They started looking for ways "out".

I know several people that insure the crap out of their snowmobiles and then ride them with reckless abandon. They don't care if they wreck it, "Meh... it's insured, I'm not out anything."

And that's what leads us to Beth's post. Over time, people have become so accustomed to the fact that others will provide for their basic needs, that they've lost the drive to work. I'm here to tell you, if there was no such thing as a "retirement benefit" or "social security", you'd have no trouble finding motivated workers. Young people would be working as much as possible, and so would everyone else. There would be no slacking, because there would always be someone else willing to take their place.

Most immigrants come from strict liability societies and so when they get to America, it carries forth. They know when they go home, nobody is going to bail them out, so they work their tail off while they can to provide for the time when they can no longer work. No sick days, no hangovers, no shirking.

And that pretty well tells you what I've learned and accepted over the past few years. Next time, I might even go into more detail... =P


Today's Mystery Lyric:

You pretend you're high
you pretend you're bored
you pretend you're anything
just to be adored

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What a Crock

Ok... so I'm watching "Identity" on and off tonight because it's new and it's as good as anything else that's on (the football game isn't all that great).

For those of you that haven't seen it, there is a contestant and they've got to guess the identities of 12 different people. For each one they get right, the prize pool increases. Guess all twelve and win$500,000.

Of course they've got to add a little suspense, so you get one "mistaken identity" which means that you can miss one and not lose the game. The good thing about this little jewel is that as long as you have it, your winnings are safe. If you lose the mistaken identity, then you've got the choice to take the money you have and run, or risk it all and walk away with nothing should you be wrong. There are also a couple other "helps" which really don't amount to much.

Tonight, the contestant successfully identifies 9 people in a row leaving 3 remaining and preserving her "mistaken identity" freebie. There are two women and a guy left to choose from, and the remaining identities are alligator wrestler, CSI investigator, and kidney donor. If she picks correctly, she's up to $250,000.

The two women, are not really distinguishable from each other, but the guy has long hair in a ponytail, a goatee, is wearing a black sleeveless shirt and looks kinda like an alligator wrestler. As I'm watching this, I'm thinking, "Whoa... if she gets this guy right she can't lose. She'll have the two women left and her "mistaken identity", she wins the big bucks!" For you see, no matter which one she puts with either identity, should she be wrong, her mistaken identity kicks in and she can correct her mistake, as long as she identifies the 10th person correctly.

Given this scenario, you definitely identify the easiest of the three, and she does. The dude, she says, is an alligator wrestler and locks it in. She's right! He is! She wins $250,000 and has her mistaken identity left.

I'm ecstatic! Why am I ecstatic? I'm not going to see any of the dough. I don't know her from Adam Allfox. So why am I happy? She's beat the system! They set up the rules to kick her in the ass, and now she's turned the tables on them! She's got 'em! But wait...

Penn Gillette, the host, steps up and informs her that he's got good news and bad news. The good news is that she's won 250K, the bad news is that she can't win 500K on a mistaken identity so they're taking her mistaken identity away. Talk about pulling something out of your ass at the last minute. What. A. Crock.

Now... I'm a reasonable guy, but I would'a come unglued right then and there and here's why. If I know of this little "situation" before I try to identify number 10, I leave the easiest one on the shelf for my last pick, and I use my mistaken identity to determine which of the two women is the kidney donor, thereby guaranteeing me a cool half mil.

They just stole $250,000 from that poor housewife.


Today's Mystery Lyric:

Babe my life is not complete
I've never seen you smile.
Baby you want the forgivin' type
and that's just not my style

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Worth Wagering

Just the other day, I was reminiscing to myself about a book that I'd read several years ago. It wasn't exactly a good story, but it had an interesting concept. Then I'll be dipped if I wasn't flipping through the channels and guess what was on my free movie channel? Yup... the movie of the same name. Worth Winning.

Of course the film was quite a bit different than the book. Had they stayed true to the book it would have been rated X and nobody would have liked Mark Harmon's character, but I digress...

The whole premise of the book was a bet. The main character was a bit of a womanizer and would "love 'em and leave 'em". Of course he was handsome and rich, so he never lacked for bed partners, and kinda liked it that way. But he was a betting man, and so was his best friend. One day while he was boasting about some conquest or other and maligning women, his best friend decided to teach him a lesson by making a little wager. The wager was -- that our man couldn't get 3 women to agree to marry him at the same time. No problem. However, the terms of the wager were this... the best friend got to pick the three women and he had 30 days to get them to say "yes" to marriage, and the acceptance had to be on tape. I can't remember exactly what the stakes were, but if our man lost, he paid the best friend $50,000, and if he won, I believe he got the friends Mercedes or something like that...

But here's the question... do you think you'd be up to a wager like that? Other than KTM... do you think you could have 3 members of the opposite sex agree to marry you at the same time, and would you be willing to risk 50K on it? Especially if you only had 30 days, and I'd be the one picking the marks?

Oh... this could definitely be interesting.


Today's Mystery Lyric:

It's the perfect time of year
somewhere far away from here
I feel fine enough I guess
considering everything's a mess

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Loose Ends

There comes a point in every blog where it's time to do a little housekeeping. Sweep up the loose threads, and tie up loose ends. When that fails, it's time to just pull something out of the air. :P

I'm sure that you all remember my little construction project. If you don't... go read up on it and you'll be up to speed. Since I built it at the end of March, I didn't have much occasion to use it before the weather warmed up. Therefore, it was hard to tell if it was going to do the job or be a colossal waste of time.

Here a few weeks ago, when the weather dipped to a balmy -6 at daybreak, I had occasion to give it a go. I can't remember what we were working on, but I packed the stove full of kindling and paper and set it afire. Unfortunately, it didn't work right. For some reason, the chimney wouldn't draw, and the fire would never get to the back of the stove. A problem that had never happened before. So I started playing with it.

I pushed the fire to the rear of the stove, hoping it would catch the newspaper on fire and things would work. It went out. I lit it again, this time in the back, but all it did was smolder and die. I was perplexed. About an hour later, I looked around and the whole shop was filled with smoke. Gee... great. As I was fixated on the fire, I hadn't noticed that all of the smoke had been boiling out of the door instead of the chimney and had filled the shop.

As cool as it was in the shop, it was still warmer than it was outside, but now I had to throw open all the doors and let the room clear. As I was watching the "warmer" air and smoke escape through the open doors, I decided to check and see if something had obstructed the chimney.

I grabbed the extension ladder and climbed up to the top of the chimney to take a look. Now... back when we first plumbed the stove in, we put a piece of screen over the top of the chimney to act as a spark arrestor. We've got too many dry burnable things, like haystacks, to risk not having one. I suspected that perhaps a bird had built a nest or something on the screen and was plugging the outlet. That turned out not to be the case. But the screen was fairly black, and smelled like creosote. Hmmm...

I climbed back down, lit the fire again, then climbed back up the ladder with a wire brush in tow. I whacked the screen with the wire brush and then raked it back and forth several times. As if by magic, there was a poof of smoke and then a rush of heat that made me decide to move my hand rather quickly. Case closed.

The screen we'd used was too fine and the smoke and smoldering fire had caused the screen to build up with creosote effectively sealing it off. I've since changed both the design and the size of the screen, opting for expanded metal instead.

And the stove? Well... it works rather well. It'll take the chill off of the building in about 3 hours and make it nice and comfortable after 5 or so. What that means is that I can fire it up when I leave in the morning, go feed my minions and by the time lunch is over, have a nice toasty building to do something in. It makes it rather nice, and I have availed myself of it's services several times now.


Today's Mystery Lyric:

Ain't found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with sting and sweat
seems every path leads me to nowhere

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Burn Out

Holy crap. I've reached my limit. I just can't take it anymore.

What brings me to such a point? Is it the weather? Is it KTM's constant harassment? (:ewink:) Is it all the Christmas decorations? All the Christmas advertising? Nope... none of the above.

It's that frelling Melancamp song, "Our Country". I CAN'T GET AWAY FROM IT!!!

First of all... it's not that great of a song. Some feeble attempt at patriotism to sell a song is just wrong to begin with. Besides, Charlie Daniels did it better with America than any of these modern fools can.

I might be a little harsh, and the song might not have grated on me quite so badly if Chevy hadn't jumped on the bandwagon. Good GADFRY!!! EVERY FRELLING COMMERCIAL has that FRELLING song in it! Yeah... I get it. God, mom, country, apple pie, and a chevy pickup. That's what makes us great. Give me a break.

As my dear old dad said, and I quote, "There's a difference between scratching your ass and tearing it all to hell." I think we're beyond merely scratching at this point in time, especially when every third commercial I see on TV is a Chevy commercial that PLAYS THAT FRELLING SONG!

Please tell me it's not just me...


Today's Mystery Lyric:

A king without a sword,
a land without a king.
Truth without a voice,
one song left to sing.
One song to sing.

A wise man told me
there is something you should know.
The way you judge a man is you look into his soul
And you'll soon see everything.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Less Than a Buck?

I had to go to town today, and by that I mean I actually had to drive into town, not the fun kinda "go to town", if you know what I mean...

As I headed into the downtown region, I drove by one of the many "Dollar" stores, but... there were big signs in the window announcing "Going out of Business! Wall to wall Clearance!" which started me thinking. My three regular readers already know that's never a good thing.

So... what exactly does a "clearance" sale at the dollar store mean? Are prices slashed to 98 cents? I mean c'mon... if they can't unload that crap at a buck, where does the price finally have to get to before it moves? "No honey, you can't have that Debbie doll, it's just too much. Oh wait, I guess it's only 65 cents, let's buy two!"

And what happens to the stuff that doesn't sell at any price? Is there a "take this shit off our hands" bin? I'm almost tempted to go back down there, just to actually see what's happening.


Today's Mystery Lyric:

Well I saw you in the crowd
and I imagined you were looking back at me.
Two shipwrecked sailors under contract
dreaming of a love that's meant to be.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Wow... I've just been swamped lately. Hopefully, one of these first years, things will taper off a bit and I'll be back to my usual posting habits of twice a week. :P

But last night I did something that I haven't done in a long time. In fact... I can't remember when the last time was I did it. When I was younger, I did it all the time. Twice a week or so I'd get the urge and then do it. But not lately. I must be getting old.

Anyway... last night I actually went out and saw Casino Royale in the theatre. I haven't seen a whole lot (read any) reviews of it, so I'll tell you what I thought.

It was strange in that it is supposed to be the first of the Bond films, the one where he gets his 00 classification, but it takes place in modern times. So there is that moment when you've got to suspend your disbelief and not try to make it fit with the other past films.

After I got over that, it became an interesting new approach to the Bond saga. It wasn't in any way comical or campy like some of the past ones have been. No, it was a serious action drama from the get go and it never broke character. There were the typical "Bond girls" in the film, but they weren't empty heads, in fact... all of the characters were developed in different and interesting ways.

Daniel Craig, while not what I picture Bond to look like, did a very good job being Bond. I've only read one Bond book, From Russia With Love, but he definitely portrayed the character as he is in that book. A cold, calculating killer with some redeeming qualities. Just what you'd expect from a 00.

I never tell anyone whether a film is good or not, because it's such a subjective thing, but I did like it. The only bad thing I can say about it is... it was just getting good and then it ended. ;)


Today's Mystery Lyric:

A band is blowing dixie
double four time
you feel alright
when you hear the music ring