Here’s something yr. obdt. has been saying for years: Bring Back the Welfare Stigma. Excerpt:
At one time, public assistance was looked upon as a moderate failure—not an irredeemable sin or uncorrectable wrong, but something you wanted to avoid if possible. European socialists realized a long time ago that such well-intentioned opprobrium served to weaken the dependent bond between citizen and state, which is why you can find single mothers on 20 years of welfare across the pond: continental leftists figured this game out a long time ago, well before the sad sacks at Richmond Public Schools. If you want to see the future of American welfare in the hands of people like Superintendent Bedden, look to Europe, where many countries have de-stigmatized their way into astronomical debt levels and widespread, chronic citizen helplessness.
Here’s a relative excerpt from my own Animal’s Manifesto:
It is not the proper role of government to shield people from the consequences of their bad decisions. There will always be a need for a modern, prosperous society to care for the truly helpless, such as people disabled through no fault of their own, children with no adults to care for them, and so forth. But the lazy, the indigent, the irresponsible – they have no moral claim on the fruits of the labor of the industrious. Government, and only government, has the power to tax – to claim a portion of your resources with force of law, with the implied threat of armed force if you try to abstain. In our age of ever-increasing welfare entitlements, that government has claimed a portion of every taxpayer’s proceeds toward just such a shield – requiring the industrious to toil longer and harder to support the indigent.
To add to that – yes, there should be some stigma attached to taking a handout from the taxpayers. Food stamps, for example; here are some conditions recipients should face:
- Do away with the EBT cards. Food stamps should be a variation on their original form – large, paper, clearly marked “Food Assistance Voucher.”
- And vouchers they should be, limited to only certain items. Bulk rice, beans, potatoes, lean chicken, ground beef, and so on. No prepared foods, no frozen foods, no soda pop, no candy. And for those who cry “you can’t tell people what they can and can’t eat,” the only reply is “if they are spending other people’s money, we sure as hell can.”
- Locations should likewise be strictly limited. No convenience stores, no oven-ready pizza places, no premium meat shops. Only traditional grocery stores – Safeway, Kroger, Super Walmarts and the like.
As stated in the Manifesto and many other times in these pages, it is not the role of government (read that: the taxpayers, and read that: productive citizens) to shield people from the consequences of their own bad decisions.
The linked article concludes:
Those who have truly fallen on hard times deserve our genuine sympathy, and we should not snarl at them for turning to as easy and accessible a source of relief as government welfare. Yet we should also avoid making needy people feel comfortable being dependent upon the government. To do so is would not be merely bad public policy—it would be disingenuous and harmful to poor people, who more than anything need the mental and emotional drive to be free from government dependence.
Hear hear! And add this to a long, long list of bad policies to come out of the Imperial City in the last couple of decades.
Well, that solves that mystery; First Observation of Death Valley’s Sliding Rocks. Excerpt:
A dry lake in Death Valley, called Racetrack Playa, is home to the famous “sailing stones.” These large rocks, some of which weigh up to 700 pounds, leave behind long trails in the dirt, indicating that something — or someone — has been moving them. (See photo above.) But how?
Conspiracy theorists and others with active imaginations have implicated aliens (of course), powerful magnetic fields, or just plain old magic as the culprit behind the mysterious phenomenon. More serious speculators suggested dust devils or a combination of rain and strong wind. These explanations, however, are wrong.
Death Valley is an interesting place. Mrs. Animal, yr. obdt. and a couple of the kids visited there a few years back at the worst possible time – late July. It was 130+ F at Badwater when we got out and walked around the big salt flats and saw the shallow, simmering waters there.
It’s hard to describe that kind of heat; at some point superlatives fail to do the place credit. The only place I’ve felt comparable heat was in the late spring of 1991 in southern Iraq and northern Saudi Arabia. It’s the kind of heat that makes if difficult to breathe. Your lungs seize up, crying to you “Hey! This is way above operating specs! Don’t you know you can’t breathe this stuff?”
Give me southern Alaska and the never-above-70 climate any time.
But it’s an interesting place, made all the more so by the fact that the mystery of the sliding rocks is due to – yes, really – ice.
Still. If we ever visit Death Valley again, January sounds like about the right time.
Well, in the wake of the round of legalizations, you can now get pot soda. Excerpt:
A cannabis-infused fizzy drink is now on sale in the state of Washington as part of the ever-expanding US market for legal pot products.
Less than two months after recreational cannabis became legal in the west coast state, Washingtonians can now get their highs out of a soda bottle.
The drinks, called Legal, come in cherry, lemon and pomegranate flavours but are all infused with 10mg of liquid cannabis. The drinks cost around $10 (£6).
They are being marketed as a gentler alternative to smoking that could be attractive to those still wary about cannabis.
As marijuana becomes legal more places (as yr. obdt. suspects will happen) we’ll start seeing more of this kind of thing. In our own Colorado we are already seeing cannabis in a plethora of forms; in candies, in oils, in the inevitable baked goods (brownies and more) and in the traditional smokeable form.
The free market is a wonderful thing.
The linked article concludes:
For now the fizzy drinks will only be sold in Washington’s certified cannabis dispensaries but could one day be available on supermarket shelves.
Recreational cannabis became legal in Washington state in July, making it the second state to legalise cannabis after Colorado began sales in January.
Voters in Alaska and Oregon, Washington’s neighbouring state, will have their say on similar measures during referenda in November.
There is every reason to expect the measure will pass in Oregon. It may well pass in notoriously hands-off Alaska, too. This is a social trend that has legs. They may be a bit unsteady, but they are there.
Do Animals Have True Language? Excerpt:
From ultrasonic bat chirps to eerie whale songs, the animal kingdom is a noisy place. While some sounds might have meaning — typically something like “I’m a male, aren’t I great?” — no other creatures have a true language except for us. Or do they?
A new study on animal calls has found that the patterns of barks, whistles, and clicks from seven different species appear to be more complex than previously thought. The researchers used mathematical tests to see how well the sequences of sounds fit to models ranging in complexity.
In fact, five species including the killer whale and free-tailed bat had communication behaviors that were definitively more language-like than random.
Such studies are interesting because they may shed some light on how humans developed language, somewhere (probably) around the Homo ergaster/Homo erectus stage.
But there’s a big difference between a whale’s pattern of clicks and whistles and the works of Shakespeare – or Asimov. The bigger part of that difference, one that makes it a difference of kind rather than one of degree, is the capacity to grasp abstract concepts – symbology. Humans probably didn’t have that capacity until what anthropologist Jared Diamond calls the “Great Leap Forward,” about 30-35,000 years ago.
What’s that mean, pertaining to the study linked above? Simply this: while animal communications may well be more complex than we thought, they are still a quantum leap away from human-type language.
While I was never a big Jackson Five fan, here is one of the best scenes from what is almost certainly the best movie of the summer. If you haven’t yet, True Believers, go see a story of “a thief, two thugs, an assassin and a maniac.” Go see Guardians of the Galaxy.
Monday seems to call for something upbeat aside from the usual Blue Monday totty, yes?
So, if you like gaming (and I confess to being a fan of the now-defunct City of Heroes as well as Skyrim and The Elder Scrolls Online) then here’s some good news; it seems women now significantly outnumber teenage boys in the gaming world. Gamer geeks everywhere, rejoice! Excerpt:
Adult female gamers have unseated boys under the age of 18 as the largest video game-playing demographic in the U.S., according to a recently published study from the Entertainment Software Association, a trade group focused the U.S. gaming industry.
While men still account for the majority of the U.S. gaming population, the number of women playing games on both consoles and mobile devices is up to 48 percent, from 40 percent in 2010.
What’s interesting is not the wholesale adoption of mobile technology, which this article implies is in part behind this move; it is the explosion in computer technology driven in large part by gaming.
Forget console and mobile gaming for a moment and think about the impact on PC development. High-end games are probably one of the most demanding things you can ask a PC to do, and as games increase in complexity and the concomitant demands they place on processors and video cards, so do the manufacturers of PC tech race to keep ahead of the demand.
It used to be the Space Race that drove new technology – now, in this sphere at least, it’s gaming. I wonder what that says about us?
While enjoying the usual (hopefully) jihadist-pissing-off Friday totty, please peruse Andrew C. McCarthy’s Inside Hamas: How to Understand the Global Jihadist Threat. Excerpt:
In-depth reporting by the Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Casey and Adam Entous takes us inside Gaza, into the minds, indoctrination and support system of Hamas. The report is here (but behind the paper’s subscriber wall).
It will be a tough one to refute for the willful blindness crowd – i.e., the bipartisan Beltway ruling class and its cooperative mainstream media – who insist that Islam is innately a religion of peace. The report illuminates the reality that Islamic study is the basic pathway to jihadist militancy and that, for members of Hamas, the jihad against Israel is not a parochial political affair but part and parcel of a global ideological movement that is very much driven by a perception of divine directive.
To observe what Hamas members and their supporters believe, and to learn that even non-adherents of Hamas respect the organization’s tenets as an entirely legitimate construction of Islam, is to elucidate the stubborn stupidity of the claim that “true” Islam is unconnected to terrorism committed by Muslims – and that we should regard such Muslims as irrational “violent extremists” rather than jihadists.
Of even more concern than Hamas, of course, are the utterly savage animals of the Islamic State (IS), who are currently rampaging across Mesopotamia and who only day ago beheaded an American reporter, and threatened to kill more if air raids on IS were not halted.
What is the proper response to a group like IS? Stonewall Jackson would have known; likewise George Patton. IS is fond of waving black flags, and either of the aforementioned American living weapons would have known that the proper reply is another black flag. No quarter, no mercy, no relent, no pity; hunt them down like animals and kill every last one of them.
Hamas is not really the opposite side of the coin from IS. They are more like the edge of the coin, leaning over a little bit towards the dark side. Hamas uses human shields; they hide rockets in schools and mosques, they target women and children. They are consummate cowards and should – must – be rooted out.
But the coin itself is Islam. Other religions, including Christianity, has had their own dark times in the past, but now, today, it is not Christians, Jews, Buddhists or Wiccans beheading reporters – it is inhuman monsters, and they are doing so in the name of Islam. It’s past time to call this particular spade a fucking shovel.
Islam faces two choices: Reform, renounce violence, root out the radicals in their midst, embrace Western-style freedom of conscience – or face extinction. The rest of the world will not tolerate this behavior forever.
I found this interesting, as it mirrors some of my own attitudes on a couple of thorny social issues. Libertarians, Gay Marriage, and Freedom of Association: A Primer. Excerpt:
How can a libertarian support gay marriage but also the right of businesses to decline to provide goods and services such as cakes, wedding dresses, and photographers for gay weddings? For many libertarians, it makes perfect logical, philosophical, and legal sense.
But from the outside perspective, it often does not. As a result, critics looking for an opportunity to throw shade on the increased media and public interest in libertarian ideas can focus on just a piece of this mentality. We saw the Village Voice do just that recently, as media critic Roy Edroso incorrectly declared that we here are “more likely” to defend the rights of private individuals and businesses who want to discriminate against gays than the rights of gay couples to demand marriage recognition from the government.
I’ve made my stance on social issues abundantly clear: I really don’t give a damn what people do, as long as they leave me alone. I expect the converse in return.
I’ve likewise made my stance on gay marriage (or any kind of marriage) abundantly clear: I don’t give a damn who people marry, as long as all parties involved are freely consenting, competent adults. Their actions don’t affect my marriage any.
I don’t understand why a man would want to marry another man, or even how a man could find another man sexually appealing – but I don’t have to. I don’t understand why people like watching sports on television, either, but it doesn’t affect me if they do.
But liberty is about more than just marriage. Freedom of association also means freedom of disassociation, even if you (or anyone else) disapproves of a business owner’s reasons. A baker, yes, should be free to refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. If we can use the force of government – men with guns – to force a baker to make a cake for a gay couple, where does such coercing end?
Liberty is not situational. Liberty is a principle. Sadly, it’s one we’re losing.