The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle just disappeared from the blog. Sorry!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Feather Ruffling

I am posting this in full expectation of rubbing some people the wrong way. Just try to keep in mind that whatever I write is simply my opinion, nothing more. I have no power to force others to comply and I have little or no influence over those in power.

Let me start with the Ebola quarantine controversy: I am in favor of it. I do not believe the arguments against it. Especially the one that says it would discourage those medical workers who would want to volunteer to go to the Ebola ravaged countries to help control and contain it and to treat the victims of it. Dedicated people will ignore such things for a chance to help.*  My experience with doctors and nurses is this: they are arrogant and smug (nurses being much less so, however, but not free of those attributes). I find them to feel, in general, that they are superior to the rest of us and possibly immune to the afflictions the rest of us suffer. The nurse (Kaci Hitchkox) who is at the center of a quarantine controversy has been ordered by the state of Maine to quarantine herself. This is a mandatory quarantine and she is complaining that her civil rights are being violated. I agree, at this point, that Ebola is difficult to contract but there is much that the general public does not know and has not been told about the disease. For instance, how quickly does the onset of symtpoms lead to the contagion stage? We have not been told. We now know the doctor in NYC wandered about the city; visiting, bowling, and dining in the 11 hours prior to turning himself in at the hospital where he was immediately put in an isolation tent and treated by medical personnel in total protective gear. Yes, we should revere those medical personnel willing to travel to Africa to work with the victims but that does not mean we should ignore the dangers they might be bringing back to the States. And I don't think those medical personnel should feel free to ignore safeguards meant to protect others.

The other gripe I have is the over-emphasis on police who are slain in the line of duty. While I respect those who basically put themselves at risk to protect us from criminals, I do not think their lives are more important than others. There are many reasons why people become officers of the law. One of them is ego, another is the desire to face danger (we call the latter type "adrenaline junkies"). But are these people more important than those they protect? I don't think so.

But what about you, what do you think?

*There are many reasons for this, I call one of them the "altruism ego-boost."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Unstrange Bedfollows

 I have often said the following:

You only hear what you want to hear, you only see what you want to see, and you only believe what you want to believe.

On occasion, that gets reinforced by studies. I recently read of one which supports this, though it was more concerned with the conflict than the amity. The division we see more than the cohesiveness we want to feel. Two sides of the same coin, if you ask me.

It is the nature of humans to want to reduce strife in their personal lives. Stress is difficult to live with and studies show that also. The study shows:

Research shows: More and more residential neighborhoods are politically homogenous.

It appears we use political strife as a factor in choosing where we live. Like schools of brightly colored fish, we swim in the same political direction in many ways. But how do we do this? Create like-minded neighborhoods, that is. I think in much the same way we create racially homogenous ones. We do not simply fall in love with a house, we apparently seek out neighborhoods where we expect to live comfortably and peaceably with our neighbors. We do this in a number of ways: we seek the advice (or just heed it) when we begin to think about moving. We consider the demographics of potential neighborhoods and one of the factors seems to be a political like-mindedness.

It's human nature to want to fit in. In spite of all the stories we heard as children that tried to teach us to accept our uniqueness and our rebellious teenage years where we dressed and behaved like our peers while professing our individualism, we really want to just "get along."

Don't you agree?


Monday, October 27, 2014

Things Look Pretty Bleak

 It's hard to be optimistic these days... brazen killings in several places, rampages in schools, and Ebola.

Canada suffered a "lone wolf" terror attack at their Parliament. It appeared to be a kind of "blitz" attack where the attacker gives no warning, just explodes on the scene. He was likely looking to make a big splash with targets highly unlikely to be able to fight back or give him much trouble. I think he didn't didn't expect the reaction by the Sergeant-at-arms. A similar event then happened in New York City when a wacko (also described as a "recently converted Muslim") attacked some cops with an ax. The attacker died after being shot by other police on the scene. Not religion related, two cops were killed in California by a (we've learned) man who had been deported twice.. Also not religion related was the shooting at a Seattle area high school. That one seems almost normal in that the shooter was distraught over losing his girlfriend to a rival who happened to be his cousin. Definitely a violent few days.

Then we have the doctor who returned from west Africa after working with Ebola patients who came down with the disease a week or so after his return and during his voluntary quarentine. A quarentine that wasn't real because, from what I gathered, he engaged in pretty much what I would call a normal routine: visit friends, dine out, wander around the city. A number of things are apparent from this last incident: he ignored his potential for contamination (though he must have known about his colleague contracting this disease), pretty much ignored his quarentine, and endangered his friends and financee along with numerous unaware citizens. Kudos to those who took this seriously enough to impose mandatory quarentine for anyone returning from west Africa... though I think it only applies to those who worked with Ebola patients there.

In a story about the first medical worker to be affected by the mandatory quarentine, we find this:

In the very early stages of Ebola, patients may still test negative because the virus has not yet reached detectable levels in the blood. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it may take up to three days after the onset of symptoms for the virus to reach detectable levels in some patients, prompting repeat testing in some cases.

This nurse is upset by the mandatory quarentine and feels she was/is being "treated as a criminal."

Ms. Hickox, 33, was placed in quarantine under a new policy announced on Friday by the governors of New York and New Jersey. All people entering the United States through Newark Liberty and Kennedy Airports will now be quarantined for 21 days if they had direct contact with Ebola patients in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone, even if they show no symptoms of infection. [from a NY Times story]

Any thoughts on how she would have abided by a voluntary one?

Meanwhile, we still have ISIL/ISIS causing trouble in Iraq and Syria and a mid-term election to deal with.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Big Decisions

On November 4th many of us will go to the polls and vote in the general election. There will be many choices to make and most of them will be critical to the future. Will we vote in the best interests of the country? Or will we vote for what is in our own perceived best interests?

We have the opportunty to change the make-up of the Senate. Whether we will or not remains to be seen. We have been inundated with political advertising, most of it lies, and that will continue right up through election day. Why did I say most of that advertising will be lies? Because that is what politicians do. They lie about their records, they lie about their opponents' records, and they lie about what they intend to do once in ((or back in) office. And, yes, you could say "they all do it." So, how are we to make decisions in the voting booth? Who can we trust? I have no idea and I am not about to tell you how to vote or who to vote for. Please do not just vote along party lines if you do not want a single party system of government. If you like the direction this country is going then vote accordingly. Likewise, if you do not like the direction this country is taking, vote Republican. I think we need a Republican Congress with a Democratic president and vice versa.

I can tell you that I will be voting today. I do this because I failed to vote in the primary here back in March. There was an accident on the only road that goes by my polling

I accept that this was my own fault. I usually take advantage of early voting but failed to at the time. This time, I will not take that chance.

I went to Google maps to find out exactly how to get to our new early voting location. It used to be at the County building downtown but no more. It still wasn't clear so I clicked on Directions. And found that Google has really made a mess of what was once an excellent map system. It sent me all over the place and I cannot just copy the directions as I used to do and print them out. Incredibly stupid on their part.So I turned to Mapquest and got something
 not great but more useful. I had a good idea how to get there before and this route is simpler and more rational.

Friday, October 24, 2014

More On Humanity

The title is a pun, a play on words, but it has a lot to do with how I view the world. We aren't very bright... collectively, that is. A few of us are brilliant and we depend on these people to move civilization forward and to lead us.

I got to thinking about this after writing "I Sometimes Think About Important Stuff" because, well, it could be considered both important and stuff. I wanted to expand a bit about the word I possibly coined, "homocentricity", and what I mean by it. It is placing humans at the center of existence, the top of the evolutionary scale, and at one time the center of the universe. Yes, we once thought the earth was the center of the solar system and, since we knew pretty much nothing about galaxies or the universe, the center of the universe. After all, God made this world for mankind, did he not?

Well, we know now that we are but a tiny speck of rock and dirt and water in the humongous thing we call the universe. In fact, we have learned we are a tiny speck in our galaxy. We have yet to learn if we are unique in either our galaxy or in the universe. But we want to, don't we?

Not everyone believes that our planet is unimportant. Some of us seem to believe that the planet is a mere 6000 years old and the bible's story of its beginning is absolute and true. All that stuff about it being 5 billion years old and once populated by dinosaurs is scientific trickery or error. There is even a private museum in San Diego dedicated to that "young Earth" concept. I don't give much credence to that young Earth belief but a goodly number do. I don't wish to ridicule those who believe such. I don't wish to ridicule anyone really but sometimes I do so inadvertently.

I think that our religious heritage is behind that homocentricity I mentioned. That makes it hard to shake. I think science went along with it... adopted it, you might say... because of pressure from the religious hierarchy that wielded great power for most of civilization's existence. You want to avoid shouts of heresy? You want to avoid torture and forceful re-education? Incorporate the idea that we are unique and superior into science.

When I was a young child being taught/programmed to be a good and useful citizen, a teacher once talked about the dinosaurs and why they went extinct... At the time, the working theory was that the planet's climate had changed (an Ice Age) and the dinosaurs couldn't adapt. That theory has changed to the "a large meteor did it" theory. But I went looking into the age of the dinosaur and learned that it lasted millions of years before they went extinct. Humans, by contrast, had only been around several hundred thousand years according to the understanding at the time. I decided that the teacher was full of hooey and, extrapolating, I figured all teachers were not really experts on anything except possibly the subject they were teaching. Thereby setting me on a pattern of assuming authority was usually wong or misinformed. This did nothing for me in terms of scholastic achievement and possibly hurt my chances for greatness.