Thursday, July 17, 2014

Listen to the Monkey

I have always had a lot of respect for Mrs. Goober, because she is smart, hard-working, and willing to take on uncomfortable tasks and see them through to completion, whether she enjoys it or not.

She is competent and smart, and has a level head on her shoulders, which is why I was so shocked last night when she told me that she had done something stupid, and had bought an item from a door-to-door salesman that had come calling, with the promise that after he cashed her check that he would deliver the merchandise, pinky swear.  As she was telling me this, I Googled the name of the “company” and the first seven hits, before the company’s own website, were scam reports.

She told me that she had bought a volume of books for our daughter.  Selling things to people for their kids is a con-man’s #1 tool.  You aren’t saying no to a salesman; you’re saying no to your own child!

She told me that he told her that he was in a competition with other salesmen to win some prize, and that he was a disadvantaged youth trying to make his way in the world. Again, a manipulative sales tactic, rather than the truth. 

This is not something that I thought she would ever do, and it was so out of character for her that I really had trouble with wrapping my mind around it.  Then, I found out that, despite the fact that he made her uncomfortable, she had invited him into the house, because it was really hot out and she felt bad making him stand on the front stoop.  The guy is a convicted felon.  In my house, with my wife and daughter.  Alone.  

Up to that point, I was pretty cool about the whole thing, but as soon as she told me that she had allowed a man into our home who she didn’t know, while she was home alone with our three year old daughter,and who was making her uncomfortable, I got a little upset with her.

Chris Hernandez did a great write-up about this phenomenon afew months back.  Essentially, what he wrote about was the tendency for the civilized to worry so much about being rude, that they put themselves in compromised positions instead of doing the logical thing and taking care of themselves.  

Recently I had a conversation with a friend about my last “Knockout Game” post.  My friend made a statement that I think many people are saying in private: she’s worried about becoming a potential KO Game victim, but is also afraid that she’ll seem racist if she encounters a group of “thug” looking black teenagers and tries to avoid them....
...Many different actions can be pre-assault indicators. Generally speaking, these indicators seem harmless when viewed outside of the overall situation. The trick is to recognize them in context.
For example, if someone puts on a hood, that means nothing by itself. Simply looking around at their surroundings means nothing either. And if they cross a street, so what? But let’s say you’re walking down a sidewalk toward your car, late on a clear night after businesses have closed, and see a young man walking toward you on the other side of the street. The man looks around (possibly checking for witnesses or people who would interfere), puts on a hood (possibly trying to make himself harder to identify), and crosses the street toward you (the businesses are all closed; he’s not going toward them, he’s possibly directly targeting you).
Now you have a choice. Should you take evasive action, maybe change direction or head toward the nearest well-lit area? Should you maybe pull a small flashlight and shine it at him if he gets close? Should you put your hand on your concealed pistol, ready to draw and fire if he makes a threatening move?
Or, if the man is a minority, should you ignore his actions and blindly keep walking, because you’d rather risk death than seem racist?

Substitute the word "racist" for "rude" and Hernandez ten-rings my point with his typical mastery over the written word.  Seriously, that guy can write!

But people understand the world from their own perspective and their own bubble, and forget sometimes that not everyone sees the world the way they see it.  Not being predators with poor impulse control, themselves, they assume that everyone else is pretty much the same, and so even when a person is making them uncomfortable, they ignore their instincts and continue to be polite.  Don’t want to be a bitch, right?  Or racist?  I’m sure those black men walking down the sidewalk in such a way as to force me into a pinch point don’t actually mean me any harm, right?  And if I turned around and walked away quickly, I’d look like a jackass, right?  Not just a jackass – a RACIST jackass! 

But at least you’ll be a racist jackass with all of your teeth, your wallet, and who isn't in the hospital beaten into a coma, right? 

What we fail to understand is that we are equipped with a fully functioning early warning system about these things.  Coupled with situational awareness, this system works almost 100% of the time, because there was a time when human beings weren’t at the top of the food chain.  We were a prey species for a lot longer than we have been the apex predator, and one of the remnants of that is the early warning system that every one of us has in our brains, left over from our “tasty upright monkey” days.  That little monkey that’s screaming in the back of your head “THIS ISN’T RIGHT!  I’M NOT COMFORTABLE WITH THIS! I NEED TO LEAVE, NOW!” is not there to hear itself talk.  Your subconscious is aware, even if you aren’t, of things that aren’t right in a situation, and YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO IT. 

What I told Mrs. Goober, I hope has stuck with her, so that she will not ever do something that stupid again.  But I think the biggest revelation that I’ve taken from this is that these sorts of things happen to people that you wouldn’t expect them to.  I always sort of figured these sorts of things happened to stupid people.  Not my wife, who is smart and worldly and even a little jaded about trusting people.  I told her last night, in the starkest words that I could, how I really felt about the situation. 

“I am disappointed in you.  You’re not a dupe!  You’re not a mark!  You’re smarter than this honey!  What the hell were you thinking?  How worried would you have been about being rude while he was violently raping you in front of our daughter?  Or when you both end up dead in a ditch somewhere, because you didn’t want to say “no thank you!” and shut the door?  Or do the smart thing and just ignore the door altogether?”

I’ve never had to make rules before, but last night, I made a new rule.  No one in my home is allowed to answer the door for a stranger if I’m not there.  Mrs. Goober is okay with that.  She just texted me a few minutes ago and told me that she feels completely stupid and helpless right now, and has a headache from beating her head against the wall all day. 

Don’t be stupid, folks.  Don’t beat your head against the wall for days because you managed to survive with an in-tact bank account because of luck, and nothing else.  Listen to the monkey. 

Oh, we canceled the check, by the way.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Israel Derangement Syndrome

I spoke to another person this weekend who was convinced that Israel is just using the rocket attacks perpetrated by Hamas is an “excuse” to further their “holocaust” and widen their “apartheid” against the Palestinian people. 

Those two terms, by the way, are sort of mutually exclusive, but never you mind that. 

Just so happens, he spends his winters in Apache Junction, Arizona.  So I asked him to consider something. 

I spoke to him on several points, and asked him to consider this not-too-far-out-there scenario (it has actually happened before):

Imagine, for a second, that you’re in Apache Junction one day, and rockets start falling out of the sky.  All told, 400 rockets are fired off over the next couple of days, and just in the area around Apache Junction, you know of 3 children who were killed by a rocket while playing in a park, and two businessmen who died in their office, victims of a direct hit.  All told, the death toll in Apache Junction, Phoenix, and surrounding areas approached the death toll of the Newtown shooting. 

Now, consider that such attacks occur two to three times a year, and each time it happens, another 20 to 30 people are killed. 

It is discovered that a Reconquista movement has strengthened itself, and has become emboldened by what it sees as the United State’s reluctance to engage in direct conflict after Iraq and Afghanistan, and has decided to “take back” the “occupied” territories that were captured from Mexico during the Mexican/American War.  Part of its  game plan is a terror campaign waged against the people of the American Southwest, and a large portion of this group’s ranks are filled with people who want to see very single American citizen killed.

Hat Tip: Ace of Spades

How long would you stand for such a thing before you demanded action? 

His reply was a muddled, theoretical cop-out, as was expected, which supported taking violent action against the reconquistas, but still condemned the Israelis, focused on the following points: 

  1. American “occupation” of formerly Mexican territory, and Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territory (formerly Trans-Jordan) are entirely different:
  2. The Palestinians are acting in self-defense, whereas the Mexican movement would be the belligerent party;

My responses were as follows:

The American occupation of formerly Mexican territories, and the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territory are the same (they are territories invaded, captured, and kept by the victorious party at the cessation of hostilities), but are also different, for reason’s I’ll discuss below.  However, the important thing to note here is that the ways in which they are different actually make the Israeli actions MORE justified than my Mexican scenario, not less.  Consider that the Israelis are “occupying” Palestinian territory as a result of aggression waged against THEM in all cases (both wars in which Palestinian land was “occupied” were a result of Palestinian and Arab aggression against Israel, not the other way around), whereas the Mexican/American war was much more morally ambiguous, resulting in what was more of a penis-measurement contest than a true “you’re attacking me, and I’m defending myself” situation.  Also, consider that Palestine was never a nation-state, whereas Mexico WAS, and you’ll further see how the Israeli defensive action, which he did not support, is actually MORE defensible than the defensive action discussed in my scenario, which he did support. 

As for the Palestinians acting in “self defense,” I asked him to name one time – just one – where the Israelis were the initiators of violent action, and he could not.  How one could be acting in “self-defense” by initiating violent action, when none is first threatened, is beyond me, but his reasoning failed on this count, also. 

There is a phenomenon out there called “Israeli Derangement Syndrome” and it basically sums up the belief systems of people who cannot fathom that strong, powerful Israel is not the aggressor in this situation.  They look at power structure, and always assume, based on their worldview, that the stronger of two belligerent parties must always be the initiator, and must always be in the wrong, because these people are largely cowards.  They cannot imagine, themselves, a situation where they would initiate violence against someone stronger than they are, and so can only imagine a world where the stronger of two belligerents MUST be the initiator. 

They refuse to accept the fact that weak, small, ineffectual Palestine is the aggressor in this situation, and that until they do, the Israeli conflict will continue forever.  For as long as the aggressors – the Palestinians – have the widespread support of these people with IDS, they will continue to launch unprovoked attacks against Israel, with widespread support.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

More “kids these days” stuff.

So a few days ago, a breathless article was published about “stinky” millennials and how they won’t ever be able to get a job because they “value their cell phones more than they do deodorant.”  Apparently, a poll was created, which contained a certain question. The question was “Would you rather be denied access to your smart phone, or to your deodorant?”  Millennials, by vast majority, chose to keep their smart phones and eschew deodorant.  According to the article, this is apparently the reason that the millennial generation is plagued by unemployment problems.  Not because the Boomers tanked the fucking economy with their greedy and profligate ways, but because they would choose their smart phone over deodorant.

Okay, guys, this is just fucking reaching.  This damn “ZoMG the mullennialzz!” bullshit has gone too far. 

I have a smart phone that does pretty much everything I need from modern electronics, all crammed into a thing that can fit in my shirt pocket.  It can give me directions on how to get anywhere on Earth, it can answer any question I have with the endless well of knowledge that is the internet, it can entertain me with videos, message anyone I want instantly by text, voice, or video, and capture high-quality photos and videos of my most cherished family moments.  It also cost about $200.

I also bathe every day, and have a skin condition that is irritated by things that I put on my skin, no matter how hypoallergenic they may be.  The result?  I don’t wear deodorant every day.  Or even very often, unless I know I’m going to be in a situation where it might be needed (ie, site visits on hot days and so forth).  ZoMG!!!elevnty1!!!  How do I have a job?  Right? 

Truth be told, my smartphone is far more important to my job than my deodorant stick.  I find that I can control body odor without deodorant by, get this, taking a shower every morning.  If I had to give up one, I’d give up deodorant, hands down.  It is actually possible to not stink if you don’t use deodorant.  I know.  I do it nearly every day. 

The millennials polled in this article gave the right answer, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how the Boomer or GenX-er who wrote the article can possibly miss that. 

You give a person an option, and say “I will take away your $200 source for all the information, ever, and instant communications with anyone, anytime, either by message, voice, or video, etc…”

“I will take away your $1.99 stick of scented talcum powder and alum that is really unnecessary for modern life where showers can be had daily” and expect them, when given those options, to choose to keep the scented powder stick and shit-can the miracle device?

Then act all pearl-clutchey that they made the right choice?  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby

In regards to Hobby Lobby and the court decision allowing them to decide what is included in the benefits packages that they provide to their employees, I keep seeing leftists bemoaning the fact that the decision gave a woman’s boss a say in her healthcare decisions, and “denied” her access to healthcare and contraception. 

I still can’t follow the logic in their arguments. 

Corporations can deny women access to contraception!!!eleventy11!!1!!!

What they’re really saying:

“Women are too stupid to figure out how to buy something on their own using cash, and will not be able to figure out how to provide cash for a good and/or service without their corporate employer taking over and doing it for them!” 

Sandra Fluke tweets:

Any day now, #SupremeCourt decides whether corporations can deny women access to contraception.

Some other lefty twatwaffle:

Disturbed by the Supreme Court's decision to allow bosses to deny access to contraceptive care, including birth control. #notmybossbusiness

Elizabeth Warren:

Can't believe we live in a world where we'd even consider letting big corps deny women access to basic care based on vague moral objections.

The problem with this argument is obvious, at least to me.  Choosing not to pay for something, for someone else, is not the same as denying a person access to it.  Are women sentient, self-determinate individuals?  Or are they kept pets who need to be taken care of and have things purchased for them, or else they are incapable of getting them, themselves?  Leftists are arguing the latter, and I think anyone can see how stupid that argument is, on its face.  And, really, how offensive that premise is, too.  Maybe the “war on women” starts a little closer to their side of the political spectrum than they thought, if they truly believe that women are incapable of buying something themselves, if it isn’t provided for them by someone else. 

Try this on for size:

“I am really hungry right now.  My employer won’t buy me lunch, so he is condemning me to starve to death!”  Sound stupid enough for you?  Elaborate, if you will, on how that statement is any different from this weak-sauce argument emanating from the left vis-à-vis these 4 specific types of birth control?

No consideration is given to the fact that Hobby Lobby pays their employees in cash money, which, being legal tender for the satisfaction of all debts, both public and private, can be exchanged for the four types of contraception that Hobby Lobby has chosen not to pay for, at any time the woman pleases.  Or maybe they DID consider that, but think that you women out there are too stupid to figure it out for yourself? I don’t know, but I know what I think.  Logic dictates that they must think you’re all functionally retarded. 

Or maybe THEY are functionally retarded.  Hard to say. 

Hobby Lobby needs to stay out of their employees bedrooms!!!eleventy1!!1!!

What they’re really saying:

“Get out of my bedroom!  Leave your wallet when you go!”

Hashtag #notmybossbusiness is trending right now.  The argument goes a little something like this: 

My sex life is not my boss’s business, so he needs to stay out of it!

My response is simple:

That’s exactly what they’re doing!  You don’t get to say “stay out of my bedroom!” and also “you have to pay for my contraception!” in the same sentence and not look like an illogical moron.  Basically, it’s saying “mind your own business and stay out of my bedroom, but leave your wallet when you go (bigoted woman hater!)” 

This might be the stupidest argument that they’ve put out there, so far, because it is completely self-defeating.  “Mind your own business, but be involved in my business at the same time!” 

Healthcare decisions should be between a woman and her doctor!!1eleventy1!!1!!

What they’re really saying:

“Healthcare decisions should be a three-way decision between a woman and her doctor, and also her employer, who should be compelled to not only morally agree with every one of those decisions, but to pay for them without question!”

Again, I can’t tell if this is meant to be a red herring, or if the people shouting this are really so stupid that they truly believe that a corporation choosing to stay out of a woman’s healthcare decisions as they relate to 4 specific forms of birth control, is somehow getting between a doctor and the woman in making healthcare decisions.  Hobby Lobby has specifically stated that when it comes to decisions that deal with these 4 forms of birth control, that they want nothing to do with it.  That is actually the opposite of “getting between a woman and her Doctor in making healthcare decisions.”  In fact, it is EXACTLY the opposite.  If they paid for those 4 forms of birth control, they’d be involved in the decision to some extent.  By not paying for them, they are totally uninvolved in every way, shape, and form. 

So how do any of their arguments pan out at all?  The fact is, they don’t.  Not a one.  There is no decent, compelling argument coming from the left that would logically cause any free-thinking person to conclude that an employer should be compelled to provide a service in their benefit package that they don’t want to provide, for any reason at all.  When it comes down to it, one is left with two options, as they relate to the disposition of these folks, and neither are very good:

1.       These people are morons;

2.       These people are extremely dishonest, and think that we are all morons and will buy into their bullshit without thinking critically about it.

In either case, I think I can safely say that I want nothing to do with them, and that I’m glad beyond words that they lost this case.  

Monday, June 30, 2014

"Damn Kids These Days!"

“Each generation is worse than the last;”

People have been saying this for ten thousand years, I'll bet, and they've been wrong for just as long.

Stupid Egyptians!

"But where are the Jerry Springers of Shakespearean times, or the Milli Vanilli's of the 1960's...

Or the Justin Bieber's of, well, any other time, ever?

What we forget is that when we look back at history, we only remember and keep track of the best of the best.  We remember Shakespeare because his works were excellent; the cream of the crop, so to speak.  Time has, however, forgotten about the hundreds, perhaps thousands of playwrights and aspiring playwrights during Shakespearean times that we just absolutely awful, derivative claptrap.  The Jerry Springers of Shakespearean times were simply forgotten, but make no mistake – they god damn sure existed. 

Even more contemporary – think of 1968.  This, my friends, was a time of musical greatness, am I right?  Credence Clearwater Revival lit up the charts, alongside of the Beattles and Elvis and just a limitless list of simply fucking amazing artists.  What happened to that?  Where are the great artists of today? 

NO, stop it.  Just stop right there!

Look at the top of the charts in ’68, and you’ll notice that the song that was on top of the charts for most of that year was Sugar, Sugar, by the Archies, which is the song that goes “Sugar! Awww honey, honey!  You are my candy guuuurrrl!”  Here it is, in all of it's turbo-sucky glory:


Yup.  In 1968, that was the chart topper.  Awful derivative, meaningless claptrap.  Most of the songs on that chart were pure garbage.  I don't think one of the aforementioned was even in the top ten.  We brought the great songs of 1968 with us, but forgot about (rightly so) the rest of the flotsam that was made during that same period. 

History has a way of doing that – you only remember the great men, the great playwrights, the great songs, because those things that did not achieve greatness are forgotten. 

For instance, George Washington's foppish, idiotic younger brother, Cletus Washington. 

The fact is, it has been proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that each generation’s IQ exceeds that of the previous generation by a not insignificant factor.  We’re getting smarter every generation, not dumber.  As fun as Mike Judge’s Idiocracy is, it is just so much fiction. 

"It's gots electrolytes!"

The “things are getting worse, this next generation is the ruin of us all” meme has been around so long, that I’d honestly thought that we’d left it behind years ago. Many, many years ago.  Here's what I mean:

"Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” 

Guess who said that?  Guess.  Seriously.  Copy this quote into your Google search and hit search, and then tell me that the entire “these kids these days, amirite?” line is just idiotic at this point.  

The True Cost of a Mortgage

It seems sometimes that the advice that you get from your parents (if any, sadly, in this day and age) can be boiled down to mindless platitudes of the sort you’d find on inspirational posters, which don’t fully deal with the truth behind the situation.

"My Dad told me that life is 90% positive attitude.
Maybe you're just paralyzed because you aren't being positive enough?!"

For example, people in my generation were told by their parents to buy a home as soon as they could upon entering the work force.  This was a result of that generation’s generally making decent money on their homes, as home values increased during that time period.  The cynic in me also thinks that driving up demand for homes by encouraging your children to buy them is also a good way to increase the value of your home, too, but that’s just too cynical for me to buy into fully. 

Why would I be suspicious of a group of people who spent all of their retirement,
voted to spend the social security trust fund, and now expect my generation to fund their 30 year vacation starting in the prime of their working life, because they haven't saved enough to fund it, themselves??

The issue is that they never really explained to us the true implications of home ownership, and the pitfalls therein.  “Buy a house, as soon as you can” does not translate into “oh, and make sure you get a good deal on it, and that when you buy, the prices aren’t artificially inflated by a housing bubble created by the government encouraging risky business practices for political means.” 

Also, “buy a house as soon as you can” doesn’t translate very well into “on a fixed-rate mortgage that you can afford.”  As I’ve discussed before, the Boomers handed down to us a very poor understanding of taking on debt to buy something like a home.  It essentially boiled down to “can you afford the payments?” and didn’t deal with any of the other pertinent things like “will you be able to afford them once the ARM resets?  Will you be able to sell the house in five to ten years, because, oh, yeah, you really don’t want to pay a house off over the term of any mortgage out there, because holy shit, have you looked at how much you’ll pay for the house if you do?” 

I'm not excusing the stupidity of the people in my generation that bought homes that they couldn't afford, but when "BUY A HOUSE AS SOON AS YOU CAN!!!eleventy!1!!" was their starting point, with no additional information, whatsoever, I think you can forgive them at least a little, right?

"NO!  I read in the newspaper that these 'millennial' kids are lazy and worthless,
and do the sex and smoke drugs, and I'm not about to change my opinion about the generation
that I expect to fund my retirement for me! They need to stay the hell off of my lawn!"
I had some good training in basic economics, so when I bought my home in 2003 for $132,000, I knew damn good and well that if I paid the house off per the term of the mortgage (I got a 30 year fixed rate because those ARM mortgages and subprimes are for people more concerned about what their payments are going to be NOW than they are any other aspect of the loan, which is moronic) that I would pay for the house three times over (or more) by the time I got it paid off. 

Yes, holy shit, that’s actually true.  Did you ever sit down to calculate it?  360 payments of $1,084 (the payment for my loan) is just shy of $400,000.  That, my friends, is why I scrimped and saved to make sure that I paid my house off in ten years.  That way, I “only” spent $225,000 on a home that I bought for $132,000. Great deal, right?

"Thanks for the awesome investment advice, DAD!"
My home, after owning it for 11 years, and with the improvements I’ve made, is now worth about $250,000.  I’ve sunk another $50,000 in improvements into it over the years.  So I’m still $25,000 behind on it, but based on Boomer math, which ignores the interest cost, improvement cost, and everything else imaginable, I’ve actually “made” $125,000 on it in ten years.  Yay me!  The way I look at it, I’ve paid $25,000 for a place to live over the last ten years, which is pretty good – that’s $208 a month in rent payments. That's how you make home ownership pay off - by manipulating the inputs to make it so that you pay a lot less per month than you would in rent, because SOME of that value going out every month returns to you in equity.  So the good people own a home to lose LESS money, not to make any.  

I say all of this to explain one thing: I’ve spent $25,000 more on my home over the last ten years than I will get back from selling it, and I am one of the few home-ownership success stories.  I paid my home off in ten years, did a massive amount of sweat-equity improvements, and I’m STILL behind (if you don’t count the value of having  a place to live).  

I'm told it is not over-rated at all
I’m not saying this to discourage home ownership.  It’s treated me well.  $208 a month in rent is pretty damn good for the place I’m living.  I’m saying it to encourage people to understand the real costs of home ownership, and to understand that your home is not a piggy bank.  It is not an investment on which you should plan to “make” money.  It is not your retirement account.  It is, like paying rent, a thing that you do to provide a home for your family and a place to live.  If you can make it work out that the true cost would be lower than paying rent (which is actually pretty common if you’re smart about it), then go for it.  But don’t do it thinking you’re contributing to a nest egg, because you’re not. You don't spend more money on an investment than that investment makes you in return, and call it an investment.

There is a huge cost to owning a home.  If your $132,000 home won’t be worth $400,000 plus a decent rate of return in 30 years, you need to understand that, like renting, you will have a net OUTFLOW of money over that thirty years for your housing costs, and your home will not be an investment.

"Uhh, this isn't penciling out, Mr. Thompkins.  Let me run the numbers again"

The Boomers put home ownership out there to my generation like it really was the biggest investment that you will ever have, when it isn’t an investment at all, except for rare instances..  I had a guy tell me that the other day, and like always, I was just shocked that an otherwise sentient adult would look at the numbers associated with home ownership and think that it is perfectly okay for your home to be your largest investment. 

Mine isn’t.  Your's shouldn't be.  If it is, do something now, and do something drastic, because you are not in good financial shape.
NO, something more than that!