Should We Let The Tail Continue To Wag The Dog?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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They say that nothing is free and in America that is certainly true as regards freedom of religious beliefs.

If you are a Christian, that is.

If you are a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Sikh, or a Buddhist, or even an atheist, the constitutional protections of your civil rights will be upheld and fought for by all and sundry. Silly looking people will hold up even sillier looking signs supporting your point of view.

silly protest sign

If you are a Christian, however, you will find you only have the freedom to do what minority groups dictate, not what conforms to your religious beliefs.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of a mom and pop bakery they call ‘Sweet Cakes By Melissa’, found that out a while ago when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. They have been ordered by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI-cks for short) to pay $135,000 in damages to the two lesbians for “emotional suffering.”

It makes me wonder if Donald Trump will launch a similar suit against Macy’s for the “emotional suffering” he has been caused by Macy’s refusing to sell his merchandise? I would imagine for a man with that kind of ego the “emotional suffering” would be substantial, at least a billion dollar’s worth, I reckon.

Apparently in Oregon, and probably in other states, it is now illegal for a business to refuse to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Most probably the same applies if you are of a particular race, color, or religion. However, there is no equivalent law to protect the religious beliefs of business owners.

sweet cakes_closed_sign

Now I could care less whether you are a lesbian or a Presbyterian, that’s not the issue here. The issue is that you can’t have a law that protects one sector of the community at the expense of another. More to the point you can’t have a ridiculous legal system that is both unfair and illogical.

But you do.

And it’s getting worse.

Just as the Freedom Act took away more freedoms than it gave, the government is stealthily and overtly eroding the individual citizen’s right to live their lives as they want to and as their beliefs dictate.

Sure you have to have rules, like don’t murder people, drive on the correct side of the road, and that kind of thing otherwise there would be chaos. But trying to control and micro-manage every thought and action of the people, which is what the government is now about, is both unnecessary and unwanted.

Big Brother control room
Big Brother control room

I’m now wondering what happens if you come into my gun shop and I don’t like the look of you and refuse to sell you a gun or other weapon. Am I within my rights? Or can you sue me for the “emotional suffering” of not being able to kill your family or hold up a bank?

Or can I sue you if you own the gayest cake shop in America but refuse to serve me because I am a Christian? That would be an interesting one in the light of the Oregon decision.

What happens if you are a Christian lesbian? What sort of “emotional suffering” does that cause? And can you sue yourself for damages? I’m sure there’s a judge somewhere stupid enough to grant you a big payout, but of course you would have to pay it to yourself, unless the state would step in because of your sexual orientation and cough up the cash for you.

You see where this is going?

deliberate dumbing down of America
deliberate dumbing down of America

Just as they wrecked the education system in many western countries by teaching the brightest people in the school at the same pace as the dumbest, thereby lowering the level of education of everyone and churning out a multitude of idiots who can barely read, or write, or count, now we have to pander to every minority no matter how few people they represent and no matter how much their minority beliefs offend our own.

Minority rights don’t really matter to the government because they don’t make up enough of the population. If and when the need arises minorities can be brought to heel. The majority is a different matter though and what has been discussed in this blog post is all part of the dumbing down of society and instilling fear in anyone from the majority community who dares to stand up and challenge authority. The threat of a  six figure fine, or worse, ensures compliance in most people.

My old late lamented friend George Carlin summed it up so well when he said, “Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept it.”

Protection of minority rights in a society is one thing – and a good thing – and should be defended at all costs. But it should be done for the right reasons AND it should be in addition to the rights of the majority, never at their expense.

Otherwise you might as well throw out the “all men are created equal” bit of the constitution and just let the tail continue to wag the dog.

dog-tail

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First Of June, First Quiz Of June.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Summer is beckoning but not before you try another fasab quiz.

Twenty more random questions to test your knowledge.

As usual if you get stuck you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating!

Enjoy and good luck.

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Quiz 07

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Q.  1:  How many leaves are there on a shamrock?

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Q.  2:  It is the name of a region in Western Europe, a unique language, a close fitting bodice and a common form of the ball game Pelota. What is it?

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Q.  3:  What nationality was the first person to reach the North Pole alone and on foot?

            a) Finnish          b) English          c) Norwegian          d) Swedish

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Q.  4:  Which mode of transport did Christopher Cockerell invent in the 1950’s?

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Q.  5:  What word links a herb or other small vegetable growth, the buildings, equipment, etc., of a company or an institution, or a shot in snooker where the cue ball hits a red ball which hits another red ball to make it go into a pocket?

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Q.  6:  What city in the United States of America is known as the “City of Oaks” because of the many oak trees that line the streets in the heart of the city.

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Q.  7:  What is a female bear called?

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Q.  8:  Gävleborg, Gotland and Uppsala are among the counties of which country?

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Q.  9:  In which Olympic sport are there ‘Normal Hill’ and ‘Large Hill’ events?

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Q. 10:  In Greek mythology who went in search of the ‘Golden Fleece’ ? (You get a point for the name of the leader, the name given to his followers and two bonus points for the name of their ship.)

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Q. 11:  What color originates from a famous 16th Century Italian painter and what color is it? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 12:  Which English city has more than 100 miles of canal?

            a) London            b) Birmingham            c) Manchester

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Q. 13:  Which empire ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries?

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Q. 14:  What writer created the famous Baker Street detective?

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Q. 15:  Which black and white bird has the scientific name ‘Pica pica’ ?

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Q. 16:  What is the name given to that part of the North Atlantic bounded by the Gulf Stream on the west, the North Atlantic Current on the north, the Canary Current on the east, and the North Equatorial Current on the south.

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Q. 17:  If you added together all the voting seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives, how many idiots could sit down?

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Q. 18:  Name the star of the movie ‘Taken’.

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Q. 19:  What company, still in existence, was at one time the largest landowner in the world, having 15% of the land in North America?

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Q. 20:  Finally a chance to beef up that points score. What were the eight original tokens used in the board game ‘Monopoly’ ?  (A point for each correct answer and two bonus points if you get all eight correct.)

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  How many leaves are there on a shamrock?

A.  1:  Three (3).

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Q.  2:  It is the name of a region in Western Europe, a unique language, a close fitting bodice and a common form of the ball game Pelota. What is it?

A.  2:  Basque.

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Q.  3:  What nationality was the first person to reach the North Pole alone and on foot?

            a) Finnish          b) English          c) Norwegian          d) Swedish

A.  3:  The correct answer is c) Norwegian. He was Børge Ousland and he walked there by himself in 1994.

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Q.  4:  Which mode of transport did Christopher Cockerell invent in the 1950’s?

A.  4:  The Hovercraft.

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Q.  5:  What word links a herb or other small vegetable growth, the buildings, equipment, etc., of a company or an institution, or a shot in snooker where the cue ball hits a red ball which hits another red ball to make it go into a pocket?

A.  5:  A ‘plant’.

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Q.  6:  What city in the United States of America is known as the “City of Oaks” because of the many oak trees that line the streets in the heart of the city.

A.  6:  Raleigh, North Carolina, is known as the “City of Oaks”.

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Q.  7:  What is a female bear called?

A.  7:  A ‘sow’.

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Q.  8:  Gävleborg, Gotland and Uppsala are among the counties of which country?

A.  8:  Sweden.

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Q.  9:  In which Olympic sport are there ‘Normal Hill’ and ‘Large Hill’ events?

A.  9:  Ski jumping.

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Q. 10:  In Greek mythology who went in search of the ‘Golden Fleece’ ? (You get a point for the name of the leader, the name given to his followers and two bonus points for the name of their ship.)

A. 10:  His name was ‘Jason’, his followers were the ‘Argonauts’, and the name of their ship (after which the followers were named) was the Argo.

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Q. 11:  What color originates from a famous 16th Century Italian painter and what color is it? (A point for each correct answer.)

A. 11:  Titian, a brownish-orange color.

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Q. 12:  Which English city has more than 100 miles of canal?

            a) London            b) Birmingham            c) Manchester

A. 12:  The correct answer is b) Birmingham.

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Q. 13:  Which empire ruled most of India and Pakistan in the 16th and 17th centuries?

A. 13:  The Mughal Empire.

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Q. 14:  What writer created the famous Baker Street detective?

A. 14:  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his creation was Sherlock Holmes.

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Q. 15:  Which black and white bird has the scientific name ‘Pica pica’ ?

A. 15:  The (Common) Magpie.

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Q. 16:  What is the name given to that part of the North Atlantic bounded by the Gulf Stream on the west, the North Atlantic Current on the north, the Canary Current on the east, and the North Equatorial Current on the south.

A. 16:  It is called the Sargasso Sea.

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Q. 17:  If you added together all the voting seats in the US Senate and House of Representatives, how many idiots could sit down?

A. 17:  535 (100 + 435).

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Q. 18:  Name the star of the movie ‘Taken’.

A. 18:  Liam Neeson.

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Q. 19:  What company, still in existence, was at one time the largest landowner in the world, having 15% of the land in North America?

A. 19:  Hudson’s Bay Company.

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Q. 20:  Finally a chance to beef up that points score. What were the eight original tokens used in the board game ‘Monopoly’ ?  (A point for each correct answer and two bonus points if you get all eight correct.)

A. 20:  Wheelbarrow, Battleship, Racecar, Thimble, Old-style shoe (or boot), Scottie dog, Top hat, Iron.

original monopoly tokens

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Would You Buy An Expensive Lock If Someone Else Had The Key?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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encryption-lock

 

Apple and Google recently enabled full-device encryption by default on their mobile operating systems – and big brother doesn’t like it – not one bit. As always he talks about things like ‘National Security’, ‘terrorist threats’, etc., and that there will be total chaos in the streets if ordinary citizens are allowed their right to privacy.

Some of the stuff that has hit the media has been ridiculous and would be laughable except these idiots are actually intent on total control.

For example, the head of the FBI has issued dire warnings of children dying if ordinary people are allowed their privacy via encryption programs. The secretary of Homeland Security used the deaths of the 168 people killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as ‘proof’ that, while privacy was important, encryption should not be allowed to stymie US law enforcement.

Big Brother wants to stick his nose into EVERYTHING. Anything that makes that harder to do frustrates the hell out of him.

big brother is watching poster

 

So he continues with the stupid excuse that the necessity to snoop on law abiding people is because criminals and terrorists might use encryption tools as well.

It’s a bit like saying that no one should be allowed to drive a car because someone, somewhere, sometime, might get drunk and cause a fatal accident.

Then there’s the EnnEssEhh director who wants mandatory “front doors” to be built into all cryptographic technology used in the U.S., so that you can’t have secrets it can’t spy on. His idea is for all encrypted software and hardware used in the U.S. to have one encryption key for the user (you) and another that would be made available to the government bureaucrat spooks any time they wanted it.

This is complete nonsense. And they know it. But still they persist.

They have already got the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which removed the right of a purchaser to use their goods as they see fit. This legislation means that digital products continue to be the property of the seller – not (you) the buyer who paid for them. And it makes it illegal for buyers of digital goods to circumvent any features that allow snooping.

Going back to my car analogy, that is like a car dealer selling you a car on the condition that you never open the hood to see how it works, or perform your own modifications.

In practical terms this means that if you buy a new phone or computer, the manufacturer can have a spy device pre-installed in its hard components or its software and you would be forbidden by law from finding out about it or fixing it.

If Big Brother thinks he can enforce stupidity like this then he is even crazier than I think he is – and I think he is completely crazy already!

Big Brother can legislate all he wants, but we all know that the only people who will abide by these new laws will be the law abiding people. The criminals and terrorists will find ways round it, through it, over it, or under it.

It’s the same flawed logic as in the continued cry from liberals to take legally registered guns away from law abiding people so that only the criminals are armed.

Neighbor Wants Guns Banned

 

Then there is, not the probability – but the FACT – that if a government spook friendly encryption system was created, it would immediately be attacked by hackers – including hackers employed by foreign governments, some of them friends of the terrorists that the legislation is supposed to be there to defeat.

And what about the practical commercial aspect to it all? When you think about it, who in their right mind is going to pay good money for an encryptiuon system that they know can be broken?

Would you buy an expensive lock if someone else had the key?

I think not.

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Boffin Bollocks!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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mad scientist cartoon

I would love to have been a scientist.

Not a real one, I’m not clever enough or dedicated enough for that. Rather, I would have loved to have been one of those idiots who try to make a name for themselves off pronouncements on things about which they know absolutely nothing.

I saw another one of their headline grabbers (that I like to call “boffin bollocks”) recently. The headline went something like “Shock Warning Aliens Are Coming.” And it wasn’t about more Mexicans making their way north across the US border.

It was from NASA’s Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan, and claimed that first contact with alien life will happen “very soon” – very soon being not tomorrow, but within the next decade or two.

“We know where to look,” she confirmed.

Yes, “UP” would be my non-scientific guess at the best direction.

“We know how to look,” she added.

Again I am forced to agree. Personally I’d use a telescope, and a great big one, but that’s only me!

astronomer cartoon www.davidreneke.com

Ms Stofan was ably backed up by a colleague, John M. Grunsfeld, who came out with good sound bite words and phrases like “solar system”, “galaxy”, “the icy crusts of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Europa” (my favorite I think) and “the internal water within Saturn’s moon Enceladus”.

Mars and the Martians also got mentioned, but only with suggestions that life may have at one time been present on the planet. H. G. and Orson Wells had beaten them to visits by the ‘real’ Martians many, many years ago.

War of the Worlds

More scientists, this time at the Parkes Observatory in Australia, have been carefully studying peryton-a type of radio signals similar to Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) which are known to come from somewhere else in the galaxy.

For years, they had been puzzled by these brief but intense bursts of radio waves that in some ways appeared to be coming from deep space. There have been dozens of reported perytons, some dating back to the 1990s, and theories about the signals’ origin included ball lightning, aircraft, and components of the telescopes themselves.

Then this year they made a break through. They discovered the source of the rogue signals. They were coming from – no, not somewhere deep in the galaxy – but instead from the microwave oven in the next room.

In what has to be the understatement of the year, Emily Petroff of Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology admitted, “It was quite surprising that it ended up being microwaves.”  I bet it was!

microwave aliens

I must add that I’m a big fan of space exploration, always have been, since I was a kid and was captivated by the television coverage of the Apollo missions. My only regret is that it all takes so very long that I will have gone ‘supernova’ before we see any tangible results of that exploration. There’s never a handy wormhole around when you need one, is there!

I am also a big fan of TV sci-fi series like the Star Treks, the Stargates and so forth, and of movies from ‘War of the Worlds’, thru ‘E.T.’ to ‘Independence Day’ and beyond. But I also have the wit to realize I’m being entertained and these things are not real.

So is there life out there?

I wouldn’t rule the idea out for a second. But what I would rule out is that intelligent life is ever going to be found within our Solar System, maybe not even within our Galaxy. But it could be out there somewhere.

The question we should be asking is, assuming it is benign and not hell bent on conquering all in its path, or maybe viewing us as a culinary delicacy, would that intelligent life really want anything to do with a planet full of people who, for almost their entire existence, seem to want nothing better than to continually wage war on each other?

I think having observed us for a while they would probably pass us by without calling in to say hello.

If I were in their shoes – or space boots – that’s what I would do – and at warp speed too!

alien observers

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The Banksters Balls It Up Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post a few weeks ago about the effect that low oil prices would have on the banks. (Click here if you want to read it.) and another the week before last about the reasons for the decline in the oil price (click here if you want to read that)

As they always do, the idiots that run these financial institutions saw something they thought was going to last forever and threw their money and their clients’ money at it without reason.

Nowhere was this type of recklessness more apparent than during the sub-prime fraud when the banksters lent money to people who clearly could not afford it and then sold on those loans as bogus ‘AAA’ securities to their wealthy customers and other buyers who mistakenly thought that the banks would not try to con them.

cartoon happy banker

Well the banks have done more or less the same today.

Banks have been lending hand over fist to oil companies and those who service the energy sector. They have lent billions of dollars that  –  now the oil price has plummeted  –  has no chance of being paid back. They have underwritten bonds, lent money on expensive fracking operations and even financed the speculative building of homes for oil workers.

It was good while it lasted. But it didn’t last long!

In the 1980s something similar happened when energy prices also slumped. Texas was particularly hard hit and many banks either collapsed or had to be rescued because of their bad loans to oil companies and to local real estate developers speculating on the oil boom.

It’s going to happen again.

The bankster’s greed and stupidity means that their banks are going to take another financial hit, they are going to lose more of their customers’ money. Time for another round of big bonuses, if the last disaster is anything to go by!

Obviously they have been too stupid to learn from the past. Not surprising really.

cartoon sad banker

But the big question is what will government do this time?

Has it learned anything?

Will the government let the banks suffer the consequences of their own stupidity, as they should have when the sub-prime catastrophe hit?

Or will they again use OUR money to bail the banks out, making some nonsense excuse that these companies “are too big to allow to go under”?

And we are talking about BIG banks. Wells Fargo, for example, a huge financial powerhouse, made approximately 15 percent of its investment banking revenue from the oil and gas industry during 2014. Another biggie, Citigroup, was much the same, with this sector accounting for around 12 percent.

And it’s not just in America that the pain is being felt this time.

In Canada, which largely avoided the worst of the sub-prime debacle, some of their leading banks could face an even sharper decline in revenues, so reliant is the whole country on the energy and resources sectors. One of Canada’s biggest banks, Scotiabank, derives approximately 35 percent of its investment banking revenue from oil and gas companies, according to 2014 figures.

wall_street_crooks

Then there’s Wall Street.

Usually they make loans like these and sell them off to unsuspecting investors, however, with the very public fall in oil prices that everyone knows about, firms that financed energy deals are now finding it harder to offload this debt.

As an example of their problems, according to a recent NYT report, Morgan Stanley, was among a group of banks that made $850 million of loans to Vine Oil and Gas, an affiliate of Blackstone, a private equity firm. They are still trying to sell on that debt, but no one is buying. Goldman Sachs and UBS led a $220 million loan last year to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management to buy Express Energy Services. Not all that debt has been sold to other investors either so they are left holding that baby too.

That’s only loans to the oil companies and speculators. Some of the worst loans made by the banks have been to a multitude of companies that provide services to the oil industry. Some of these services companies, lured by the oil boom, are relatively new and/or small and probably under-capitalized so their debt burden can quickly drag them under when projected profits fail to materialize.

Naturally you can expect that the banksters will use all their lobbying and political power to make sure the government steps in again.

But the truth is the government really does not need to (they didn’t the last time either). The ‘to-big-to-fail’ banks may lose on their energy bets, but they will recoup a lot of that money from ordinary people like you and I.

Lower oil prices means that we need less cash to fill up our gas tanks or heat our homes, so the chances are we will feel a bit freer to use that credit card or maybe even take out a mortgage.

Of course, for the banksters that’s a slow way to riches. They want that business for sure, but they will also want the government to write off their other bad loans too.

Let’s see what happens this time.

collapsing bank sign

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General Confusion And Major Disaster.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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British General Election 2015

No, today’s post is not about matters military, although the term ‘SNAFU’ would be rather appropriate.

This one is about the General Election in Britain in May 2015 that will decide who will run the country for the next five years and who will be Prime Minister. This is a crucial election for voters because there is no real front runner. One party is as bad as the other. So a few votes here and there could make a crucial difference. Sounds a bit like Florida!

It may even end up with another coalition government in Britain, although I don’t know if the Conservatives could stomach another five years of being tied to the Liberals – but what am I talking about, of course they could, if it meant clinging on to power.

The election might be even closer than it should be because millions of people may be unable to vote. The secretive Whitehall department of stupid bureaucrats responsible for – wait for the irony, “efficiency” – refused to heed warnings from its own pilot programs that showed it had major problems with data matching.

data matching

It is very similar to the way the nerds at Microsoft didn’t believe their testers when they told them Windows 8 was a pile of doo-doo.

The bureaucrats first of all created new legal requirements for voter registration requiring them to verify information that was previously taken on trust.

The only thing is, about five and a half million voters went missing from the Electoral Register. The tests they carried out told them this was likely to happen, but they didn’t listen. Bureaucrats never do until it is too late.

According to government sources, “The digital service allows anyone to register to vote online, from any device connected to the web. It’s incredibly quick and simple – it takes less than five minutes.”

They forgot to add the crucial line that – it doesn’t work.

The problems became apparent as soon as the web service went live. The Electoral Register was a lot shorter than it had been. Not only that but strange things also began to happen.

cartoon boy

For example, a five-year-old boy in Crewe had been given the vote – but he couldn’t get off the Electoral Register, because he was not able to produce his National Insurance number, which of course he didn’t have – because he was only five. Duhh!!!

In another case a woman, who had been an eligible voter on the Electoral Roll for twenty years, failed to get on to the new one because her National Insurance number was in her maiden name which did not match with her married name which the system insisted she use now.

The whole thing has turned into a government-created mess. People are now filling in the registration form thinking that means they are registered to vote, but actually they haven’t. All they have managed to do is submit an application to register to vote.

It’s bit like filling in a form so that you are eligible to fill in a form. A bureaucrat’s dream!

So it’s looking like general confusion and major disaster for the election. Just more proof that government bureaucrats and computer systems just don’t belong together.

bureaucrats and computer systems

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April Fools Day, So Let’s Have A Look At Some Fools!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s April Fool’s Day and what more appropriate post than to have our final look (for now) at the fools who need warning labels on everything and the fools who write the warnings.

Enjoy the stupidity.

warning exp

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“Remove the plastic wrapper.”

The first instruction on a

bag of microwave popcorn;

BUT to see the instructions,

one first has to remove the plastic

wrapper and unfold the pouch.

 popcornbag

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“Take one capsule by mouth

three times daily until gone.”

On a box of pills.

 box of pills

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“Open packet. Eat contents.”

Instructions on a packet of airline peanuts.

 packet of airline peanuts

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“Remove wrapper,

open mouth,

insert muffin,

eat.”

Instructions on the packaging

for a muffin at a 7-11.

 packaging for a muffin

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“Use like regular soap.”

On a bar of Dial soap.

 bar of Dial soap

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“Instructions: usage known.”

Instructions on a can of black pepper.

 black pepper

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“Serving suggestion: Defrost.”

On a Swann frozen dinner.

 swan-to-go

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“Simply pour the biscuits into a bowl and

allow the cat to eat when it wants.”

On a bag of cat biscuits.

 bag of cat biscuits

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“In order to get out of car,

open door, get out, lock doors,

and then close doors.”

In a car manual.

 car manual

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“The appliance is switched on by setting

the on/off switch to the ‘on’ position.”

Instructions for an espresso kettle.

 Bialetti - moka pot 10

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