Burn Dem Bunnies

To show what a terrible person I am, I’m highlighting this story of burning bunnies: here. And confessing, it makes me giggle.

To understand why I think it’s funny, you’d have to be in my head. But if I can, I’ll draw a picture.

It’s also the juxtaposition of something that’s presented in such a horrible way (burning bunnies?) but is actually so ridiculous as to be suspect. I mean, really, how much fuel can you get from bunnies? I know Sweden’s a low-population country, but it’s also a damn cold one. You’d probably have to burn ten bunnies an hour just to stave off hypothermia.

Now, if you read the article, there’s a distinct scolding going on there at well. The photo caption, for example, reads “Many of the bunnies used for biofuel were once pets, a pest control worker said.”

Ahhh, now we get to the meat of it. As it were.

This is somebody official obliquely scolding people for abandoning pets by threatening them with a horrible death. (You have to kill animals if you care about them, apparently.) Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d seriously challenge whether the investment of energy used in hunting, shooting, skinning/gutting/whatever, rendering the fat, turning the fat to bio-diesel can be recouped significantly by said diesel.

But some of you more science-minded guys can put me some knowledge here if I’m wrong.

The Race Against Time

As the struggle to increase state control over health care continues, it occurs to me that this is a race against time.

Sure, this is often been framed as a race against time, in the sense that Obama needs to spend his political capital as fast as he can before the impact of his actual actions (or inaction) start to deplete it.

But there’s another race against time: The more time passes, the harder and harder it gets to pretend that “Well, Europe does this, and they’re all just swell as can be!”

‘cause, of course, they’re not. Right now, Americans (on the whole) would not tolerate the sort of care that Canadians and British receive. The French system is supposedly top notch, but of course it’s in the red to the tune about 10% of its total budget, can’t be decreased, and so of course will only increase.

On top of that, you have the constant double-digit unemployment and the sometimes staggering poverty levels of western Europe.

Even the middle-class in, say, Scandinavian countries, which are often heralded as blissful blonde paradises, can’t (for example) go to lunch routinely. It’s a significant expense. Not surprising, when you consider how much a Big Mac costs. Not surprisingly, Sweden, Norway and Denmark are in the top 5 of the Big Mac Index.

I haven’t been able to validate the $8.99 footlong sub at Subway, talked about in that PJTV video, but most things are taxed to death. I once sent a Dutch pal a $20 computer game because it was $70 in his country.

Last time we voted down government medicine was 15 years ago. And it was tabled for all that time, and all that time the countries that had government medicine have only gotten more in debt. 15 from now, some of them (at least) will be bankrupt, and that will be the least of their problems, one suspects.

So, if we can win this battle, that might end the argument for the century.

It’ll come back, of course. Tyranny always comes back in one form or another. All we can do is fight it off every single time.

Eternal vigilance.

Manic Monday Apocalypso: The Wages (and Prices) Of Sin

The beauty of the Apocalypse is that it comes in so many flavors, to appeal to so many people. Ya gotcher Rapture, your Ragnarok, your Mayan 2012, and of course such modern classics as nuclear holocaust, zombie-or-zombie-like contagion, overpopulation or just good old famine. Something for everyone to enjoy.

But, of course, the end of the world is more likely to come in a more banal way, or at least always has in the past. Which brings us to Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls, a book written 30 years ago, in the wake of Nixon’s (et al.) disastrous experiments with wage and price controls.

Schuettinger and Butler show us the decline of great civilizations that followed those civilization’s “elite” tampering with the free market. From Hammurabi and the Pharaohs to the Soviets and Weimar, the drives are similar and the results always the same.

Despite this, these “experiments” are repeated over and over again. Keep that in mind next time you talk to someone calling himself a “progressive”.

Seems like the only truly progressive idea is that man should be free to govern his own affairs.

Introducing A New Series: Idiot with a Pencil

Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, I have come into possession of a scanner and have dug up some of my general idiocy from the dusty confines of the Casa Maelstrom archives.
I am not, by any definition an artist, but am an idiot, and I do love to draw. The kids seem to enjoy it as a group activity, and The Boy had an elaborate game he called “Paper Wars” where we would draw various monsters and do sort-of kindergarten “Magic: The Gathering”. (The Flower is really starting to impress me with her drawings.)
Anyway, I thought I’d present this self-portrait from about five years ago.
OK, that’s actually from How to Draw Monsters, Weirdoes & Aliens, but the resemblance is uncanny!

Manic Monday Apocalypso: Miracle Mile

Here’s a kind of obscure movie that wasn’t out long enough for me to see back in the ‘80s. It perfectly captures the Reagan-era atomic annihilation paranoia which, interestingly enough, seemed to peak at the end of the Cold War.

The press reveled in presenting Reagan as an amiable dunce with an itchy trigger finger which, curiously, never took effect. They and their Democratic masters called him the Teflon President. They tried to smear him and were frustrated by their failure. (It is hard to understand, really, the Press spoke with one voice back then that can scarcely be imagined now. But the economy was going gangbusters and that pretty much determines popular success or failure, I think.)

This had two effects. One was, they perhaps bizarrely gave Reagan a kind of credibility with the Communists that scared them into bankrupting themselves. But the more obvious one was that they scared the bejeesus out of the West, giving rise to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic narratives like at no other time in history. Possibly at a time when they were least like to happen.

So let us look at this 1988—no, really, the wall would come down the next year—nuclear war film, which stars a bunch of TV luminaries, like Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, Denise Crosby and Mykelti Williamson, as well as cult favorites O-lan Jones, John Agar and Jenette Goldstein, to say nothing of a cameo by actor/director Peter Berg.

The story goes that trombonist Harry (Edwards) and waitress Julie (Winningham) meet each other at the museum, but due to a stray cigarette and some sleepy pills, Anthony ends up missing a late-night date with her. This puts him at his date location at 4:00AM in the heart of the Miracle Mile district.

While waiting outside Johnny’s Diner, the phone rings, but it’s not Julie, it’s some guy in a nuclear silo trying to reach his dad. He’s distraught because, apparently, he’s been ordered to launch.

Now, Anthony has about an hour and fifteen minutes to live, and he ends up trying to convince others in the coffee shop that it’s for real, and they’ve got to get out of the city. But as they’re in progress, he decides he has to get off—he has to go get Julie.

So it’s sort of a surreal love story.

Why the movie works (for me) is the surreality that attends this adventure. The love-at-first-sight-turning-to-boning-on-second-date. The bird that carts off the cigarette. The possums that fall from the tree. The transvestite. The 1988 cell phone. The cop covered in gasoline who shoots her gun. The old couple that refuses to talk to each other till the day they die. The helipad search for vitamins. The eerily lit all-night gym. The rioting. The elevator make-out.

All in an area I had lived in for a couple of years. Not Miracle Mile—I didn’t have that kind of money. But I knew Johnnies. (I didn’t eat there; I was more a Norm’s guy. But I’m pretty sure that they didn’t have the Bob’s Big Boy-style giant dude with twirling hamburgers.) The Fairfax district (where the museum is) still looks basically the same, and I visit the museum and other sights occasionally. So there’s a little of the Volcano-type thing that appeals to me, too.

Some people just think it’s all stupid. I don’t know: None of us really knows how we or anyone else would act in that circumstance. I think a little weirdness is in order, frankly. Some say this movie was originally meant to be part of “The Twilight Zone” movie which, I suppose, wouldn’t have fit any better or worse than John Landis’ entry, though Vic Morrow might still be alive.

If there’s a moral to this week’s entry, it’s that a lot of people, even into 1988, months before the wall came down, thought the end was nigh. In the next few years, nuclear apocalypse movies would take a big hit. (Even though an unstable Russia may have been far more dangerous than a decaying USSR.)

Now, while people still worry about nuclear bombs, they worry a lot less about total nuclear annihilation. Which goes to show you that sometimes it really is darkest before the dawn.

Two Kinds of Government?

This guy may be crazy—he’s written extensively about the Federal Reserve system, vitamin B-17 as a cure for cancer, and Noah’s Ark—but he’s close to the mark about government.

He argues that systems are either favoring individual freedom or favoring collectivism. He also argues that collectivism is a lie—there are no groups, only individuals. (No forests, only trees.) This is true in the sense that policies that favor groups tend to harm the individuals of those groups, but not true in the sense that we (humans) do have a very real desire to promote the survival of our tribe and species. (Unless you’re PETA.)

Also, it’s not really true that systems ever favor individualism. I mean, sure, they do in writing. But the system favors itself, and that favor transcends anything written or stated about the system. Almost as if systems were themselves organic.

Basically, you can draw a line, like this:

On the left, you have the ultimate totalitarianism, something along the lines of 1984. On the right, you have complete anarchy.

Now, the thing is, you can’t have complete anarchy. I mean, it’s theoretically possible, and if men were free in spirit (say, free of sin?) it would probably be an optimal set-up. But, under such circumstances, Communism could also work.

But nature abhors a vacuum, and anarchy (white) leads to the void being filled by black—the first strong-armed dictator who sees easy prey. And it’s far from the absolute end where trouble occurs. Our Founding Fathers felt the need to override the Articles of Confederation to create the Constitution. (Which area of history I need to study more. How weak was the Confederacy? How much of the Constitution was a power play?)

“But Blake,” you say, “you’re always advocating pushing to the right as far as possible.”

Why, that’s very astute of you. Yes. Yes, I am. That’s because the state—any state, at any given time—will move to the left, toward more power and less freedom. And we’re in about as much chance of getting anywhere near anarchy as we are of getting pizza raining from the sky.

So, yeah, I push toward ever smaller government. I’ve long maintained there only need to be two parties at any given time: One arguing that the government should handle a particular issue, and one arguing that they shouldn’t. The ones arguing that government shouldn’t should usually be in power.

And forever banished should be the argument that just because one doesn’t want the government to handle something, one doesn’t want the situations handled. If anything, the reverse should be argued, as there is a lot more evidence to support it.