Tax Cuts and Wealth

Those who favor big tax cuts, whether a TABOR style tax limitation measure ala Colorado, or the sort of tax breaks that President Bush got passed a few years ago, promise that the lower taxes will result in more money in the pockets of ordinary citizens, and therefore more wealth. Oddly, this is roughly the opposite of what seems to be happening.

I just read an article from the Wall Street Journal (not noted for a liberal slant, you’ll observe) about the decline of traditional parades. Parades, of course, cost money, and many municipalities have cut funding for non-essentials like parades. This has led to a rise in corporate funded and uniform floats with advertising on them. A small thing I suppose, but it does eliminate the fun people used to have (or so I’m told) putting the floats together every year. Rising prices for the steel, flowers, and even paper poms used to decorate floats have also contributed to the decline, just as rising prices have contributed to the decline in purchasing power of average people in the last six years, probably for longer than that. I can almost see a Frank Capra movie about the poor little float builder who perserveres against the corporate greed of a larger world. He could decorate with lots of bells, to keep angels flying. It would be heartwarming.

I allude to It’s a Wonderful Life because the situation seems similar to the days portrayed in that movie, when the large financial institutions were beginning to flex their now quite considerable muscle. Then it seemed as if the “little people” didn’t stand a chance against big money: the discrepancy in buying power was just too great. Same thing now with floats, sports arenas, public buildings. I could care less if your stadium is “Nextel Arena” or “Municipal Ball Field” but the fact that more and more of them are named by a large corporation is evidence of a tax drought from the point of view of governments which, unlike the Feds, can’t simply print more money to make up a shortfall. A few states, for instance Nevada, have excess tax money and actually offer refunds to their taxpayers. But most states, and virtually every local government, is in a pinch. Not only can’t they fund parades, they can’t even patch potholes properly. I’m not just talking about Detroit, where the major industry has crossed the river to another country, but cities like Denver, which are in an essentially rich area. Cities in an area of low unemployment and prosperous citizens yet are struggling for money can only be feeling the effects of a penny-pinching tax relief effort.

The thing is that people want things from their government. It was in Colorado, in fact, that I heard someone, in one paragraph, go from complaining about the taxes he had to pay to complaining that “they” weren’t fixing a highway near his house. Something fails to connect in that man’s mind, and in the mind of many a tax rebel. That is that any government service costs money, and that such money can only come from taxing something. Our tax system is messed up, for sure. Allowing multibillion dollar corporation to skip to an almost fictional nation in the Caribbean and avoid paying anything is asking to robbing the rest of us. But the sad fact is that taxes must be paid at some point. By supposedly shifting the tax burden away from individuals and onto large corporations we have in effect caused more of those large corporations to seek shelter elsewhere, thereby actually lowering our tax base even as our population continues to grow. That, if you will, is dumber than George W. Bush has ever been. There’s a simple rule of thumb, expressed by economists as “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t ever get someone to buy you lunch, just that everything is paid for somehow. By being stingy and stupid in our attitude toward paying taxes we have lowered our ability to pay for some things we really enjoy, such as smooth streets, municipal services, student loans, and even parade floats.

Another aspect of taxes that tends to get lost in the debate is that taxes are just a way to spread the burden of social support systems around in order to make it less expensive for the average person to live in the town, state or nation than it would be if everyone had to pay their own way. It’s good to help each other out, just ask Jesus, or Buddha, or Allah via Muhammad; they all say so. But apparently it’s not all that easy to remember those lessons when looking at a tax bill. Still, Yankee stadium is named after its owners. Same for Wrigley Field. There are still quite a few WPA built municipal buildings and parks around that aren’t named for a corporation, maybe not named for anyone. The WPA was a government funded project that put an army of people to work during a time when corporate America was unable to provide jobs. It was a way for the people of the country to help each other out during a tough stretch, and it worked to the extent that many of the projects it constructed are still in use seventy years on. Very few people alive today paid a nickel in tax to fund the WPA, but we all still benefit. That’s what taxes are supposed to do, but they can only do it if they are levied and paid.

It’s popular in the West especially to deride government handouts. This belies the fact that the West has always received more in Federal money than it has paid in, with the exception of California, which has been a net contributor for some time. First came free land to the railroads so that the area could be settled by normal respectable people who could then spend their lives complaining about government handouts. The homestead act ensured that there would be plenty of agriculture in the area, even though most of it might not have been hugely profitable. Very low cost mineral leases and grazing permits continue to enable people in the West to make a living off of land that is otherwise pretty much barren. Since things tend to be hundreds of miles apart in the West, highways and airports are more vital than in the more densely populated East. The “solidly conservative” West is, and this is the plain truth, a leech on the liberal establishment, because among the “blue states” we find that they are all net contributors to the Federal budget. The “red states” tend to be net recipients. And there’s the gratitude: surly griping about paying taxes to fund “liberals.” Hmmmph.

My overriding point is that we were actually wealthier as a nation and as individuals when we thought more about societal needs and wants and less about our greedy little selves. Some sad but true facts: one good solution to the condition of public education would be to throw some money at it; the cost of health care is getting so distorted that only a publicly funded form of universal health care, be it insurance or making employees of doctors, will be the only way for us to stay healthy; and no, you’re not nearly as self-sufficient as you think. Even if you live in a shed in the north woods, you need to know that somebody mined and refined the lead you pour into your bullets, the brass of your shell casings, the iron in the nails with which you hold together your shack, the steel in your axe head, and so on and so forth. I know, it’s tough not being the center of the universe. Believe me, I know, but somewhere in the past I realized that the sad fact was that I’m not, and further that I’m stuck sharing the world with a mess of other people, and still further that the only way to do that was to work together with my fellow humans. Reaching those conclusions is part of a process known as “growing up.” I commend that to any strident tax protestor who may happen to come across this. Try it: you might even like it.

The Arguments

Because I just know people are curious, here lies an argument or two against the idea of intelligent design, and no, they’re not jokes either.

The chief argument against the idea is a refutation of the notion that the complexity and marvellous design of the known universe calls for a plan to be behind it all. That’s really just nonsense, if you think about it. If evolution is responsible for the origin of species (and that’s what Darwin said, by the way; he didn’t invent the idea of evolution, which taken on its own is pretty much self-evident; watch a party for a few hours and you’ll see what I mean) then it’s only reasonable to expect the resulting species to wonderfully fit into their environment. The world works the way the world works: no other outcome would be possible, given the starting conditions, than what we now experience. Also, some things in the universe are not particularly intelligent. You can rationalize all you want, something like a season of repeated killer hurricanes is not a good thing for humans, although it does help keep the universe balanced, a concept many take as a spiritual higher good.

But, more importantly, assuming for the sake of argument that there is a creator behind it all, what’s wrong with the theory of evolution? The creator maybe has some plans that are bigger than humanity, and maybe those hurricanes are there to further some divine purpose of which we may only guess. Okay, maybe. But what in heck is so wrong about figuring out how the creator is going about his business? If you take the Jewish creation story about the fall of innocence to be true, at least metaphorically, then we are way beyond being able to go back to the garden; we’ve eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; we have gained the ability to think and judge theories. If we can’t go back to innocence, then the only way out of the place in which we find ourselves is to keep on thinking and learning and becoming more and more like the creator, which is actually what the ancestors of scientists (the philosophical ancestors that is) believed that they were doing, even back in ancient Greece. If god has a plan, might not that plan include using evolution to continuously come up with new forms of life that can survive in an ever changing environment? God may be everlasting and unchanging, but the universe isn’t, so where’s the problem with discovering that the creator, if there indeed is one, built in a coping mechanism for the life herein?

So, the trouble with intelligent design is that 1: it isn’t necessary and 2: it doesn’t preclude evolution as the origin of species. In the first place it refutes the arguments of those pushing it in schools. In the second case it simply wastes everyones’ time. Either way, why bother with it at all?

Intelligent Design

This one might surprise some people. If you read back over this entire blog though you’ll see where I’m going and can skip reading this post entirely. There’s a bargain: hours of pouring over drivel to save reading a few paragraphs. I say, if that moves you, by all means go for it.

Intelligent design is being pushed by the same people who were lately pushing creationism. I wrote one or two things in which I said creationism was fine, but I wanted to pick the creation stories to tell in school. Obviously that frightened the proponents of creationism so much that they came back with another theory, not one out of the bible, but one with religious roots, that of “intelligent design.” The intelligent design theory holds that the level of complexity and marvellous meshing of things in the universe can not have happened by chance, so that ipso facto, there is an intelligence behind everything. There are some very good arguments against this idea, especially if you know anything about probability and just how friggin’ huge the universe really is, but I’m not going to make them. No, my point goes this other way.

Our founding fathers, who insisted that church and state be separated by the way, nevertheless were, as I’ve pointed out before, mostly Rational Deists. Freemasons, in fact, back when being a Mason meant more than driving around in funny little cars in parades. The very name “Rational Deist” suggests that the adherent believes in a deity that is a planner and a thinker. In brief, and leaving off some details, what they thought was that the creator, which they called “first cause” or, in much classier sounding Latin, “Primum Mobile”, created the universe in order to test some theory or other, and now sits back and watches but never interferes as this world unfolds. That is, first, pretty whacky to our modern sensibilities, but more important to this thesis, a form of Intelligent Design. Which is why I’m not making the arguments against intelligent design here: I thought it would be more fun to point out that Intellligent Design, at least a form of the concept, was pretty popular with those dudes who wrote our Constitution.

Of course, if you accept that form of intelligent design, which would be the one to accept in this country, you must also accept that god, the first cause, doesn’t have any intention of intervening on anyone’s behalf, or care one whit for one combatant over another, or for that matter, is pretty much useless to pray to, since the almighty creator is merely observing how his experiment unfolds.

Is that what you think the proponents of teaching intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution really want? What I think is that if they were really thinking, they wouldn’t promote faith instead of science in the first place. But, that’s just me. I’ve been wrong before.

Lies, Damned Lies, and the Stuff You Hear

There’s lies, there’s lies, and there’s lies, as Mark Twain pointed out. He had statistics as the worst, but I think there is one more level. That would be the sort of lying we’ve been enduring for the past oodles of years mostly from the righteous wing. For example, the indictment of Tom Delay is the “criminalization of politics.” First of all, that phrase doesn’t mean a damned thing. If you don’t believe me, look up the words in a dictionary, string the definitions together, and try to make sense of it. Politics is basically public negotiations of public issues, whether in an organization such as a corporation, or in the broader organization of public life. Criminilizing something means, if anything, making it illegal. Unless these jokers mean to say that we’re making it illegal to debate public policy (something they seem eager to accomplish with the pedantic approach they take to their critics) the phrase doesn’t mean anything at all. Which begs the question of course, of why they’d make up such an essentially meaningless phrase.

The answer is that they use such semantic tricks to control the topic and tenor of debate, which is a pretty cool way (from their point of view) of keeping attention off of the real issues. In Delay’s case, the issues are whether or not he improperly handled money, which is a nice juicy charge. If he is innocent, which for all I know he is, then that will come out in his trial. He is not charged with politicking, he is charged with financial irregularity, a different animal entirely. Where I live, in Nevada, there virtually no limit on where or how much one can gamble. The casinos can sponsor any sort of game of chance they believe will bring in the suckers, and while they do make some effort to keep what they call “problem gambling” in check, basically gambling is legal in all its forms and variations. However, let a casino rig a sweepstakes in favor of a beloved high-roller, as did the Venetian last year and they get fined, in this case to the tune of one million dollars. That is, the arguably shady activity of gambling, where the house virtually always wins, is legal. The Venetian being charged and fined didn’t mean they were “criminalizing gambling”. It meant that financial skullduggery was, as it always has been, illegal. If Tom Delay is guilty as charged, then he won’t pay a fine or do time because he was a politician, but because he was a dishonest politician. That’s just like the Venetian when they were found being a dishonest casino.

There’s something missing with some people when it comes to basic honesty, I think. Neal Bush, one of the brothers who has chosen not to enter politics, was involved in the big Silverado S&L; scandal in Denver in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was asked, in open court, if he saw anything wrong with taking someone else’s money and lending it to a third party without a reasonable expectation of repayment. He replied that he did not. Amazingly, this utter lack of fiduciary sense was confessed by a man not even realizing that he was confessing. I only mention this incident because that Mr. Bush is the big brother of the Mr. Bush who’s living in the White House. I’m not sure that George W. Is quite that lacking in ethical sense, but he seems to be extraordinarily tolerant of people who are. It can be a simply verbal switch his advisors come up with, such as when “pro choice” becomes “pro abortion.” Abortion sucks, but when it was illegal things were even worse. Pro choice means pro choice, not that somebody favors abortion. The movement behind the Bush presidency even started with a lie: they called themselves the Moral Majority. They were never in the majority, and their morals, like everyone’s to be honest, are questionable, but the term has a nice ring to it.

It isn’t just these guys, of course. That “police action” in Korea in the early fifties killed a lot of people and looked, walked and quacked like a war. So did that undeclared conflict in Vietnam, only more so. LBJ flat out lied his way into getting that adventure approved. Lies are pretty much endemic to public life. Apparently the liars lack the simple courage to tell the plain truth, or they can’t support their arguments with facts so they resort to lying to make their case. If the current Democrats really want to gain power, they might try being honest with us, but I’m not going to hold my breath. But there are two sets of lies that have me the most mystified.

Clinton lied about having an affair with an intern. The very people who are now defending Delay with lies jumped up and down on Clinton so hard that the nation rocked and all other business had to take a back seat to Justice Rehnquist presiding over an amazingly poorly conducted trial by the House of Representatives. Bush gave us false information to justify invading Iraq and so far a couple of thousand Americans and many more Iraqis have died, plus the infamous Al Qaida, who could not operate in Iraq so long as Hussein was in power, are using the place as a base of operations. Not even a Democrat has breathed a hint of the possibility of impeachment for those lies, which is the very point on which I’m mystified.

It’s an odd world view where it’s permissible to get thousands of people killed, but not okay to have sex.

Nova Roma

Nova Roma means New Rome. On my funny pages I don’t translate from Latin, although I do like to throw some in once in a while. It’s a cool language, no doubt about it. Currently, HBO is running a series called simply Rome. It started while Caesar was finishing up in Gaul, and just last week it concluded the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. Cleopatra gave Caesar a son, oh joy, yada yada yada. I sound cynical, but the truth is that it’s a great series, so good a story that I worry about it during the six days it’s not on. Fourteen days this time as they’re taking a week off this week. Seeing all that Roman history brought to life made me curious about more details concerning Rome in its prime, so among other things I read Caesar’s Commentaries, in which it is revealed that no one loves Caesar like Caesar (no kidding.) I also started looking up place names to see where they are today. For instance, Caesar conquered a town called Masilia, but it was never revealed exactly where Masilia was located. I found out, and immideately realized that if you let a Frenchman mispronounce the Latin word Masilia, it would probably come out sounding a lot like “Marseilles”. So that’s Masilia today. There is a plethora of source material on the Internet about ancient Rome, including the topic of this post.

That topic is none other than “Nova Roma.” If you’d like to see for yourself, check out http://www.novaroma.org/main.html. You may have heard of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a club dedicated to things medieval. Nova Roma is like that, but dedicated to things Roman. The aforementioned SCA has kingdoms, with monarchs, and it hosts tournaments and feasts and such things. Nova Roma has it all. There’s a Caesar (the common name for an Emperor in Rome), currently one Franciscus Apulus. I haven’t the foggiest idea if the office is good for life. They have Senators, Citizens, and a class they call socii, which I guess are members who aren’t citizens. They pay dues, but they call them taxes. An interesting bunch of dudes, I’d say from what I’ve reported so far. But it gets stranger.

Dedicated to the restoration of classical Roman religion, culture and virtues

So it says on their default web page. Read it carefully. It doesn’t say dedicated to the appreciation, or re-enactment, or study of those things. It says the restoration of things Roman. It’s cases like this where I don’t know if they’re serious or having a go at us. As one whose ancestors sacked the city several times, I’m not all that eager to see things Roman brought back into existence. Of course, for thirteen bucks a year (the current tax rate for America Austroccidentalis (The American Southwest – again, here I’ll translate as the humor is pretty much internal and not dependent upon the language) you might think that the actual rate of restoration of things Roman might be at a snail’s pace. Or, maybe they don’t mind, because in many important respects it’s as if Rome never fell. I’ve learned some very interesting things in my researches in the small hours. Such as the following:

Caesar never invented a calendar, but the Egyptian astronomers he hired did. He gets the credit though. You can look up Caesar’s calendar on line if you wish. It’s commonly known as the “Julian” calendar. It had twelve months and a 365 day year. The months were named January, February, March, April, May, June, July, Sixth, October, November, and December. Thirty days had September, April, June and November. All the rest had thirty-one except for February which had 28 except on leap year (every four years) when it had 29. What? That sounds familiar? Yes, doesn’t it. The only subsequent change was when Pope Gregory adjusted the leap years by not having it happen on century years that didn’t divide evenly by 400. So if you remember the year 2000 it was a leap year, but 2100 will not be. Gregory also had to yank ten days out of a year to adjust the calendar to celestial reality. That’s nothing to what Rome did when they switched from their old lunar calendar to the Julian one: they had a 455 day year, with extra months thrown in to make it come out even. Yoiks! So a Roman would recognize our calendar, especially one after Augustus was emperor since he chose the sixth month to name after himself. Why are the month numbers off? Because originally they only used ten months, with March (for the god of war) April, May and June being the first four.

Weekday names are similar, except that in English we mostly use Germanic equivalent gods’ names. There was Sunday, an Eastern import for Rome and originally named for Jupiter. Then Lundi, which should look familiar if you know any French, Mardia (Mars’s day – Mardi in French), and so on up through Saturns’ day, the only one where we still use the Roman name. Our Tuesday, for instance, is named for Tus, the Norse god of war. Wednesday is named for Odin or Wotan, another fierce Norse god, rather than Mercury like the Romans. Still, we use different names, but the days are the same.

When buying and selling the Romans used a standardized system of weights and measures. The basis for it all was the uncia, which was a given weight. One uncia of water constituted one fluid uncia. The measures up from there are different than what we use but guess what one uncia weighs in today’s system? If you said one ounce, you win. Sixteen unciae to the pound, the world around, right? For distance the Roman standard was the Milli Passum, or thousand paces. (Paces would be pacii, but the milli passum was considered a unit.) A pace was a double step for a soldier on quick march. It was usually shortened on mileposts to MP, and in speech to Milli, or as we’d put it, Mile. One milli passum is 1618 yards long. Guess how long our Mile is in Metric? G’wan! Well, when first conceived it was set at 1618 meters. That ratio of 1.618 to 1 is significant. If you’re a Dan Brown fan you already know why, but even if you’re not I don’t want to get into it now. It’s not a coincidence that those two ratios are the same, though, I’ll say that much.

So our calendar, including some of our holidays (Christmas for example) is Roman; our weights and measures are Roman, and we measure distance in the Roman way. Further, we have a Senate, Corinthian columns on public buildings, and we use the Roman alphabet. We even use Roman numerals for special cases, like copyright dates on movies and such. Maybe, you know, there’s no reason to bring back Rome because maybe, in a real sense, it never went away.

Besides, I really don’t want to live in ancient Rome. For one thing my ancestors wrecked the place. But beyond that, what exactly would I get out of worshipping Roman gods? Or out of following Roman codes instead of the laws of my state? The Romans were an amazing people, but a lot of them lived in fleabag firetraps called Insulae (Islands) which were basically tenements put up on city blocks. They had no way to preserve food. They enjoyed a much shorter life expectancy than do we. They were violent, and by our lights, amoral. You could get away with murder if the murderee’s family didn’t mind too much, since it was the aggrieved who did the prosecuting (there was no Roman CSI or Law and Order.) And, worst of all, if you got a bum emperor, you were stuck with him until either he died or somebody did him in. Here, whether you despise Clinton or hate Bush, you’ve got to admit that they were both short termers in the long run. Frankly, I like electricity and a general air of social justice. I’ll admit that other things I like, such as running water and sanitation, the Romans had as well, but their roads, while impressive, never curved because they couldn’t around a corner. Some of my favorite highways are gracefully curved, don’t you know? And I don’t think the Via Appia would stand up to the traffic on I-80, either.

All of which
leads me back around to Nova Roma, and the one question that the very existence of the group begs so loudly:

Why?

I told you so (again)

This is a quote from an article in Newsweek:

“I’ve been a registered Republican all my life, and now I’m staring to wonder why,” says Kansas attorney John S. Hocutt, who says religious right has gone too far in imposing its beliefs on the party.

If I’d been a Republican all my life, I’d be hacked off too.

Halalluia, I’m an editor again

I’m just working on my first issue as editor of the newsletter of Southern Nevada Mensa. The poor club is so disorganized that they had some real problems when the editor died suddenly. She was a great lady, and I would have thought too young to go, but there’s no stopping the going, even for editors. So, for what it’s worth, I’m editing again. I was editor of the Denver Mensa newsletter about fifteen years ago. It’s similar, but boy are things easier.

The real change is called Microsoft Publisher, a desktop publishing program that makes it just ever so easy to set type and do layout. This is our directory issue, so it’ll be bigger than most months, but it took maybe five minutes to get it all put together except for the monthly calendar. Then the calendar took another ten minutes. Used to be it would take two days to print it all out and paste it up on those boards with the blue grid printed on them. I know that there are plenty of people that insist that “the old days” were better, but I guess that they and I live in different worlds. Just think: Caesar had to pay a scribe to write down everything he wanted written down, and to make copies to boot. Mark Twain was a typesetter, using a California job box maybe, hand placing little bitty letters of type that then were used on a flat printing press (that literally pressed the type into the paper) to produce books and papers. Fifteen years ago the bigger publishers had electronic typesetting machinery that used photo sensitive paper to produce strips of copy ready to be pasted down. I used a laser printer and computer. Now, it’s all set in a jiffy, I send it to the printer electronically, and a few days later I get a box full of newsletters all ready to go.

Let’s hear it for progress!

Threats and Other Propaganda

Threats are always good for some people. I’ve seen it written that you should never underestimate the power of fear as a motivator, and by enough people that I think it’s probably true. Threats are wonderful, threats are great, threats are a boon to leadership. Yee-haw.

Or, I guess that’s what’s going on. I just read something about gay marriage. You remember that issue, don’t you, from before Karl Rove or somebody else did or didn’t leak the name of a CIA agent to the press for the purpose or not of getting back at the agent’s husband for being critical of the administration? Also from before the disasters of Katrina, Rita and the New York Yankees stole all the ink, right? Sure, it’s a hot-button issue all right. Too hot to touch, even. Holy cats and dogs: if we let gays marry the very institution of marriage will cease to exist and chaos will reign in the streets. Not to mention of course in the gay couples’ bedrooms. You know how gays are, right? All orgies all the time. It’s indecent, is what it is. So, anyway, we’ve got to keep gay marriage illegal to save the republic, not to mention Jesus. Am I getting that right?

The only thing I figure for sure that Jesus would do about gays is give all his money to them if they were poor. Or clothe them if they were naked, tend them if they were afflicted, or visit them if they were in prison. Or maybe he’d just preach to them, coming up with a few new beatitudes just for the homosexual audience. “Blessed are the interior decorators, for their place in heaven will be blessed with earth tones and granite countertops!” Whatever. What I just can’t see is how letting gays enter legal commitments can possibly have any effect on my marriage, or anyone else’s other than their own. I mean, if you really think that god frowns on that sort of thing, then by all means don’t do it. I suspect, if Jesus is to be believed, that god isn’t too nuts about the work ethic, investment banking, or capitalism in general, but most of us engage in those things anyway.

I’m also surprised that anyone drug out that phony threat when the threat of terrorism is working so well for us. Been searched at an airport lately? Next time that happens, ask yourself what would happen if the plane you’re about to board were attacked from on board by terrorists with box cutters. Especially if you’re an American man, you’re going to say, “Hell, if we’re going down anyway, those bastards are going to be dead before we hit the ground!” If there are, say, a third of a plane load of American men, then I pity the poor fool terrorists. (Not really, but it’s a cool expression.) So, why are we searching people in airports if there is no way that the plane is going to be hijacked in the first place? Threats! Got to keep up the appearance of threats! No threats, no reason to pay attention to lame color schemes or pasty looking old guys in bad suits. Clinton, for instance, had no particular threats to hurl, and nobody ever paid attention to a thing he said until he came up with that “what is is” nonsense. All hail threats, for that is how we keep the suckers coming back for more.

I’ve ranted on the theme of not letting fear tell you what to do before, so I’m going to skip that part. It would be good, though, if more people saw the attempts to use fear that come from Washington. It’s sort of like my earlier post from today: the end of the world is near. If you think about it, if that’s true, then there’s not really much to worry about at all. If you need to make peace with your creator, then it’s time to have at it. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never gotten around to, then it’s time to get busy doing it. Heck, if what you’d like to do is smoke a lot of pot and leave this world in a marijuana induced haze, I’d say why not? What are they going to do, arrest you? Give you a life sentence (har har har)? As I said a few sentences ago, if the world is really going to end, then your worries are over.

Know what’s tough? Living life. Not letting fools stealing souls get you all worked up over the inevitable. Seeing your way through the maze of conflicting information that is modern news. And of course treating other people the way you’d like to be treated. The upside is, so far as I can see, that if you can do all that you won’t ever be bothered by threats again. Seems like a bargain when it’s put that way, doesn’t it?

Seven Days Without a Blog Post Makes One Week

Yeah. Whatever. Today I was watching the 6PM news on a local channel. They talked about Hurricane Wilma, which reminds me of the opening of The Flintstones where Fred’s been locked out by the cat and is pounding on the door shouting, “Willlllmaaa!” Anyway Wilma was for a few glorious hours the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, but now it’s down to a Catagory Four. They were talking about it making landfall in Florida in a few days when it would “only be a three, maybe even only a two.” Good heavens, total disaster eases back to only partial disaster and they sound genuinely disappointed.

We do like our disasters. How else to explain the perennial popularity of the “end of the world” stories that people manage to find in places like the New Testament, some ancient scrolls, the Mayan calendar, or those tabloids you can buy at the supermarket. The world has yet to end, in spite of many, many predictions of imminent demise over the millennia, where many a doomsday prophet has been shamed (not that they ever seem to notice) by the continued existence of, well, of everything. I guess it’s some inate love for total disaster that makes people find such scenarios attractive. That, or we’re all effing nuts, eh?

Well, anyone wanting Armageddon can take heart. As my dad used to say: the world ends for everybody eventually. And if you’re one of those guys on the corner shouting about it, then I say, “Good luck with that.”

Addendum to the directly below post

This is a current headline. Honest:

High-dose cannabis stimulates growth of brain cells in rats

Here is a paragraph from the article below that headline:

Its effect was similar to that of the antidepressant drug Prozac, which also stimulates nerve growth in the hippocampus. The rats were less anxious and more willing to eat in a novel environment that would normally make them fearful.

See? Competition for the big drug companies. Like Prozac, but virtually free if it isn’t illegal. Hmmm.