iPad or Kindle?

I kinda wanted a Kindle.  I kinda want an iPad.

But I have so much reading in the classics to catch up on, and they’re free online, why do I need either? These e-readers are tailored to people who do social networking, read periodicals, and especially to those who read this month’s bes selling novels; I may not be the target audience. I could use a $399 laptop or a $299 notebook computer for reading classics when traveling.

Until I master Virgil, Shakespeare, Dante and Homer I should eschew Cussler and Mary Higgins whoever. I have the complete works of Shakespeare. It came to me via marriage 33 years ago. I have Faust in a Norton anthology paperback that I got for $1.00 15 years ago. That anthology has some Ibsen, Pope, Swift, Mann, Yeats, Flaubert, Tolstoy and dozens of others. For a buck. So many of the books I want to read are not current and I can get them online for a penny plus $3.99 shipping, I don’t think I will be buying the iPad anytime soon. Or the Kindle.

Natural Law and Eternal Progression

Principles of natural law comport with the concept of eternal progression.

What are these principles?

There is a human nature. Humans are rational, social animals. Humans are different, in kind, from other creatures. Our form and structure sets us apart, as does our rationality and ability to choose.

There is an end-directed-ness in humans. Acorns become oaks; tadpoles become frogs. The end for which the creature exists is built-in. Humans are to flourish, mature, grow and develop. Some call this a teleos.

A religion that believes that people are the children of God ought to acknowledge that the pinnacle of personal development is being like God. This is our end, our goal.

Even non-religious people often champion human progress, individual maturation through education. To them, the end  for which humans are designed is a god-like knowledge, power and wisdom in choosing. They aim for the complete person. Completeness, in some languages, is synonymous with perfection. Education advocates call for perfection and completeness, the flowering and fruiting of human potential.

The teachings of our religion, more than any other I’m aware of, encapsulate this natural law ideal.

Jack Welch on Medicare?

I called the Kaiser Foundation. They are a leading source of health care , Medicare,  and uninsured statistics. Their data and presentation is unparalleled as far as I can tell. They sometimes appear to stray into advocacy for centrally planned health care. But their data rocks!

I’ve long wondered if all people sign up for Medicare when they turn 65. I don’t know any that haven’t. But I don’t know the ultra-rich. I do know many whose net worth exceeds that of the workers who pay FICA on every paycheck by a factor of 100-400. There is no hesitation to take from the young worker.

I called Kaiser. I got the staffer that specializes in Medicare enrollment. I asked her, “Do any rich people not sign up for Medicare?” She sighed and mused a bit. “No, I don’t think so.”

“So Jack Welch (the illustrious retired CEO of GE that got a multi-zillion dollar retirement package) would be on Medicare? Tiger Woods’ dad? Oprah Winfrey’s mother? Jack Nicklaus? Barbara Bush? Wilt Chamberlain? Heirs of the Astor fortune? The Kennedys?”

Barbara Bush

Barbara Bush

She couldn’t think of any exceptions. No amount of riches is enough to shame this country’s rich into refusing to burden the younger generation. (I’m not against the rich. I am against the government mediating a transfer from young workers to people perfectly capable of taking care of their own needs.)


Life is a death sentence.

Love is serene servitude.

Existing, with choice, is probation.

Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Why is Haiti so poor? At $390 per capita, its people are some of the poorest  in the world.

Compared to its neighbor, the Dominican Republic, things are bad in Haiti. What’s the reason?

Haiti population: 8 million. Dominican Republic population: 9 million.

Latitude: identical. They share the same island. So geography, natural resources, enthnicity, and history is similar between the two.

Dominican Republic income per capita is $2,100, or 5 times higher.

The difference is in government. The Wall Street Journal reported that Haiti sufffers with government corruption, excessive business regulation, and insecure property rights. No wonder they are poor. Nations that refuse to establish the rule of law, that tolerate overbearing governments, and punish business and entrepreneurship with high taxes and harsh regulations suffer with poverty.

Haiti need not be poor. They need only to honor individuality, personal liberty, competition, restraints on government, property rights, all preconditions for success and flourishing.

Hold The Hymn

Hold the hymn.

Governor Brian Schweitzer

Gov. Brian Schweitzer

The Wall Street Journal lauds Montana’s Governor Schweitzer for proposing a 5% budget cut. Sounds good.

His cuts, though, are glossy glazing on a cake, paper veneer on chipboard furniture. Schweitzer is no budget cutter. Since taking office in 2004, general fund spending has increased 49% at his urging. (2005: $1.321B, 2011: $1.969)

Few prisoners would cheer a sentence commutation of 49 to 44 years.

Praising Schweitzer for frugality is unapt.

The Complete Environmentalist; a Guide for the Earth-holy. Paragons of environmental virtue.

As I put out the garbage this morning, I noticed the size of our neighbors’ garbage cans. True environmentalists would not produce so much garbage. They would have smaller cans. They would not simply recycle newspapers, they would cancel their subscription. They would not read newspapers.

So many lists of ideas for saving the earth are passe. They are weak sauce. They are impotent. According to common wisdom, only reducing resource use can save the planet. And the pinnacle ways to do that are to shut down ordinary life.

Instead of purchasing an energy saving big screen, abjure TV-watching altogether.

Instead of buying a Prius, abstain from automobile use. Stay home.

Instead of turning off the lights when you leave a room, do not use lights. When the sun goes down, quit reading and cooking, and curtail all activities that require eyesight.

Instead of turning down the heat a few degrees, stay cold by turning off the heater altogether.

Could you give up washing?


Instead of carrying a cotton, or hemp, bag to the grocery store to save on plastic bags, buy only products that have no packaging and carry them home in your hands.





From a website article, 101 ways to Heal the Earth, we have what you see below. I’ve supercharged some of the suggestions, in keeping with my theme above. My supercharging is in bold.

1. Insulate your home. Rather, stay cold.

2. Buy energy-efficient appliances. Rather, do without appliances when yours break down.

3. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows.

4. Install storm windows.

5. Close off unused areas in your home from heat and air conditioning. Rather, stay cold in winter, hot in summer.

6. Wear warm clothing and turn down winter heat. Rather, just be cold. Buying warm clothing consumes resources.

7. Switch to low-wattage or fluorescent light bulbs. Rather, give up reading.

8. Turn off all lights that don’t need to be on.

9. Use cold water instead of hot whenever possible.

10. Opt for small-oven or stove-top cooking when preparing small meals. Rather, eat only foods that can be masticated without cooking.

11. Run dishwashers only when full. Dishwashers are for rich, insensitive, earth-despising boors. Junk yours.

12. Set refrigerators to 38°F, freezers to 5°F, no colder. Who needs a refrigerator? Cracked corn and other simple foods require no cooling.

13. Run clothes washers full, but don’t overload them. Rather, refrain from washing clothes, unless in open streams.

14. Use moderate amounts of biodegradable detergent. Rather, don’t launder.

15. Air-dry your laundry when possible.

16. Clean the lint screen in clothes dryers.

17. Instead of ironing, hang clothes in the bathroom while showering.

18. Take quick showers instead of baths. Rather, stay oily and grimy. It’s authentic. It’s pheromonic.

19. Install water-efficient showerheads and sink-faucet aerators.

20. Install an air-assisted or composting toilet.

21. Collect rainwater and graywater for gardening use.

22. Insulate your water heater. Turn it down to 121°F. Rather, turn it off.

23. Plant deciduous shade trees that protect windows from summer sun but allow it in during the winter.

24. Explore getting a solar water heater for your home. Rather, quit demanding hot water.

25. Learn how to recycle all your household goods, from clothing to motor oil to appliances.

26. Start separating out your newspaper, other paper, glass, aluminum, and food wastes.

27. Encourage your local recycling center or program to start accepting plastic.

28. Urge local officials to begin roadside pickup of recyclables and hazardous wastes.

29. Encourage friends, neighbors, businesses, local organizations to recycle and sponsor recycling efforts.

30. Use recycled products, especially paper. Rather, quit writing and communicating.

31. Re-use envelopes, jars, paper bags, scrap paper, etc.

32. Bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store.

33. Encourage local governments to buy recycled paper.

34. Start a recycling program where you work.

35. Limit or eliminate your use of “disposable” items.

36. Urge fast-food chains to use recyclable packaging.

37. Avoid using anything made of plastic foam. It is often made from CFCs, and it never biodegrades.

38. If your car gets less than 35 mpg, sell it, buy a small fuel-efficient model, and spend whatever money you save on home energy efficiency. Rather, quit going places.

39. Maintain and tune up your vehicle regularly for maximum gas mileage. See #38.

40. Join a car pool or use public transport to commute. See #38.

41. Write to automobile manufacturers to let them know that you intend to buy the most fuel efficient car on the road. See #38.

42. Reduce your use of air conditioning. Rather, stay hot in summer.

43. Encourage auto centers to install CFC recycling equipment for auto air conditioners. Freon is released during servicing to become both a greenhouse gas and an ozone layer destroyer.

44. Remove unnecessary articles from your car. Each 100 lbs. of weight decreases fuel efficiency by 1%. See #38.

45. Don’t speed; accelerate and slow down gradually. See #38.

46. Walk or use a bicycle whenever possible. See #38. Even bicyles consume resources. Walking does too, it burns calories that have to be supplied from human consumption, eating. So stay home. Don’t go places.

47. Urge local governments to enact restrictions on automobile use in congested areas downtown.

48. Enjoy sports and recreational activities that use your muscles rather than gasoline and electricity. Rather, quit enjoying things.

49. Buy products that will last. Rather, buy no products.

50. Rent or borrow items that you don’t use often.

51. Maintain and repair the items you own.

52. Use colored fabrics to avoid the need for bleach. Be unconcerned. By not laundering, the concern vanishes.

53. Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and towels.

54. Don’t buy aerosols, halon fire extinguishers, or other products containing CFCs.

55. Write to computer chip manufacturers and urge them to stop using CFC-113 as a solvent.

56. Invest your money in environmentally and socially conscious businesses.

57. Avoid rainforest products, and inform the supplier or manufacturer of your concerns.

58. Use postcards instead of letters for short messages. Rather, quit communicating.

59. Eat vegetarian foods as much as possible. Meat makes less efficient use of land, soil, water, and energy – and cows emit 300 liters of methane per day.

60. Buy locally produced foods; avoid buying foods that must be trucked in from great distances. Rather, produce all your own food.

61. Read labels. Eat organic or less-processed foods.

62. Start a garden; plant a garden instead of a lawn

63. Water the garden with an underground drip system.

64. Support organic farming and gardening methods; shun chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

65. Compost kitchen and garden waste, or give it to a friend who can.

66. Inform schools, hospitals, airlines, restaurants, and the media of your food concerns.

67. Stay informed about the state of the Earth.

68. Talk to friends, relatives, and co-workers about preventing global climate change.

69. Read and support publications that educate about long-term sustainability (like this one). Rather, don’t read any paper publications.

70. Start a global climate change study group. But only if people can attend on foot power. No motive travel allowed.

71. Educate children about sustainable living practices.

72. Xerox this list and send it to ten friends.

73. Go on a citizen diplomacy trip and talk with those you meet about averting global climate change. Rather, don’t go on trips. Stay home from Copenhagen.

74. Get involved in local tree-planting programs.

75. Join an environmental organization. If they’re not involved with climate change, get them involved.

76. Support zero population growth. Rather, forswear having any progeny.

77. Support work to alleviate poverty. Poverty causes deforestation and other environmental problems.

78. Donate money to environmental organizations.

79. Support programs that aim to save rainforest areas.

80. Support solar and renewable energy development. Rather support zero-energy consumption, as in cave living.

81. Work to protect local watershed areas.

82. Pave as little as possible. Rip up excess concrete. But only with your bare hands.

83. Encourage sewage plants to compost their sludge.

84. Write your senator now in support of S. 201, the World Environment Policy Act. Rather, don’t use paper and postage.

85. Write your congressperson now in support of H.R. 1078, the Global Warming Prevention Act. See #84.

86. Support disarmament and the redirection of military funds to environmental restoration.

87. Write letters to the editor expressing your concern about climate change and environmental issues.

88. Support electoral candidates who run on environmental platforms.

89. Run for local office on an environmental platform.

90. Attend city council meetings and speak out for action on climate change issues. Be sure to walk.

91. Organize a citizens’ initiative to put a local “climate protection program” into place.

92. Learn how to lobby. Lobby your local, state, and national elected officials for action on climate change and environmental issues.

93. Organize a demonstration at a plant that uses CFCs.

94. In place of TV and the stereo, spend time reading, writing, drawing, telling stories, making music. Only the last two are ok for paragons. The first three require resources.

95. Live within the local climate as much as possible, rather than trying to isolate yourself from it. Right on. This means staying cold in winter, hot in summer.

96. Strive to establish good communications with friends, neighbors and family including learning conflict resolution skills.

97. Spend time seeing, hearing, and rejoicing in the beauty of the Earth. Feel your love for the Earth. Make serving the Earth your first priority.

98. Learn about the simpler, less resource-intensive lifestyles of aboriginal peoples. This list-maker is advocating cave living, naked wandering.

99. Think often about the kind of Earth you would like to see for your grandchildren’s grandchildren. Thinking requires no resources. Fine. Except that thinking involves a human being whose maintenance requires resources. Suicide could solve that. Or mass war and pestilence.

100. While doing small things, think big. Think about redesigning cities, restructuring the economy, reconceiving humanity’s role on the Earth. Such reconceiving includes the radical suggestion put forth by some that humans have no place on the planet.

101. Pray, visualize, hope, meditate, dream.

Crony Capitalism

Crony-capitalism is ugly. But it does not repudiate capitalism. It repudiates cronyism.



Such a crime can happen when a business locks arms with the government and gets an unfair advantage over it competitors. Impropriety is not limited to business.; the Sierra Club can play this game, too.

Cronyism means “to get a sweet deal”. A government that has power to confer unequal benefit is improperly constituted. Good constitutions curb cronyism.

Congress, AIG and Goldman Sachs seem to be involved in a sordid heist, giving evidence that the rule of law has gone astray, that the Constitution has been subverted. If Reid, Frank, Pelosi, Geithner, Paulson, Dodd, Countrywide, Goldman Sachs and AIG wrestled the taxpayer to the ground and fleeced them, that’s no indictment of capitalism.

Enough: Book Review


By Bill McKibben

Re-read January 2009

Bill McKibben is my favorite extreme environmentalist author. He does not disrespect people of religious inclination. In fact, at the conclusion of this book, he shows the linkage between them and environmentalists in seeking for meaning beyond technological whiz-bangery.

This book is a compendium of statements, projections and hopes of the techno-futurist researchers such as Kurzweil and Stock. Projections for germline enhancement, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence leave meaning out of the equation, lead to a post-human future, to quote Fukuyama. This prospect leave McKibben cold. He thinks we should stop, not go wherever we are able to go, do anything that is possible.

His arguments stem from the nature of man, the purpose of bodies. These are philosophical and religious matters. Moral justifications given by tech’s enthusiasts boil down to giving people what they want, even if it leaves them and their offspring, if you can still call them that, inhuman. They boiled down to the imperative of evolution. McKibben hopes we are evolved enough to know that the technology cascade is a bad thing.

He believes that the greatest human achievement is striving. But that with germline engineering, everything will be pre-ordained by the engineers of this century. No striving will be authentic. He exults in limits. His opponents chafe, deny limits. He exults in family and community obligations. Hi opponents exult in individual wish-fulfillment.

I like Bill’s style. He turns a phrase. He uses metaphor and simile. He uses scenes. I, too, am concerned that al of our mechanical, electronic, computational and manipulation powers need to be employed within the context of what is valuable, worthwhile. Things that lead to true human flourishing, that fit with what man is here for are allowed. Others are dangerous and wrong. It turns out that the philosophers hold the answers, not the biologists, and electronics engineers.



To have your building certified LEED, it must meet environmental standards.

But it is an example of green-enthusiasm with blinders. Bozeman, Montana’s city library is a LEED building. It has a solar array on the roof that cost $267,193 but returns energy at a paltry rate, $2,440 per year, a 100 year return on investment. That’s dumb. But the library website trumpets it as an earth-friendly feature. The north exposure of the building is an acre, seemingly, of glass, a giant heat-loss portal.

My son’s college class toured a Caterpillar plant in Nevada. It was proudly LEED certified. Someone asked where the painting was done. LEED requires no paint booths. They send their painting to another plant. Green morality goes geographic, and blind.

My son’s company produces metal extrusions and folded panels. Some welding required mating dissimilar metals. Noxious fumes are produced. To meet LEED requirements for the contract they are working on, City Center in Las Vegas, they could not weld the parts in their Las Vegas shop. They contracted with another division of their company in Ohio. The LEED requirements were met, but the net gain for the earth was zero.

Environmentalism spawns so many incongruities, so many false good feelings.

(See other goofy green projects reviewed on this blog at Environmental Travesties.)

There are very few ways to  accomplish what environmentalists want without inconveniencing people, forcing them to not have pretty buildings like those of City Center, to not  have ample living space as we presently do in our 3,000 square foot American homes, to not travel at will in cars, to not heat and cool their homes to a comfortable degree. Only by forcing people to be uncomfortable can fewer resources be used. Let’s all admit it. Ban dumb illusions like LEED.