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Monday, August 12, 2013

The Dog needs a bath - #2

      “Your dog needs a bath.” My wife repeated. Couples divide the world, some things she owns, some things I own and some things we own together.  The dog we own together, when she walks the neighborhood she owns the dog, when there is a veterinary bill, I own the dog, funny how that works. When the dog needs a bath, I have sole ownership.
      As a lifelong dog aficionado I have gone through a learning curve about dog baths. As a young man I believed that dogs did not like baths, that I had to overpower the animal, giving them a bath using brute force. This didn’t work very well with small dogs, and then I got a female German Sheppard that grew to over a hundred pounds. Aggressive high energy baths did not work at all with her. She was not going along with the brute force approach; she had ample brute force of her own. This compelled me to rethink my dog bathing program. She enjoyed chasing the water from the backyard water hose, biting at the water, soon dog baths became a very wet summer game. This left a problem with cold winter days. One cold winter day I decided to try using the indoor bath tub. I disrobed and climbed into a bath tub with a 100 pound plus German shepherd, I was nervous about this approach, I had a mental image of my ding dong getting removed by sharp dog teeth. I am a confident dog master, I had never been bitten by any dog and my dogs accept me as the final voice on any subject. She had willingly hopped into the bath tub, and this first indoor dog bath actually went well.
      In the three decades since I have gotten the indoor dog bath process to near perfection. I sing to the dog in our bath, I make the whole affair a pleasant and playful affair. I can wash three 50 pound dogs in about 20 minutes. I let the dog shake dry in the bath tub and use two dry towels, one before we leave the bath tub with the second towel used in the open bath room.  It does take a little longer to clean the bathroom and bathtub after all the dog baths. All total I am still well under an hour to bathe three dogs. As a bonus I finish with a really clean bath room.
      My dog needs a bath. Most of my dogs have been what is called a “rescue” dog, for the “rescue” dogs the first indoor bath was slow and careful. One current dog is a long hair Chow, I got her as a puppy, and she was acclimated early to indoor baths. How I have to select a dog shampoo. I have medicated shampoo that needed a veterinarian prescription to purchase. $60 for 16 fluid ounces, ChlorhexiDerm shampoo, plus I have the standard flea and tick shampoos, oatmeal based shampoo, and a “soothing” aloe dog shampoo. All of these shampoo concoctions are mixes of toxic chemicals and have warning labels. All the choices cost more than my regular guy’s hair shampoo. Not hard to guess which one I’m going to select. I figure my shampoo can be used daily on a hairy feral mammal, me. It should be usable on a dog. I use the specialty shampoos when I have some specific objective, such as fleas or a skin rash. Most of the time I use regular, cheap, man’s shampoo and there have not been any problems.
      The final issue is how the dog feels about her own scent. Most dogs after a bath will immediately find something to roll in, preferably something like used baby diapers. I use men’s after shave lotion, sprinkle it on a towel, lay the towel on the ground and let the dog roll in the scent of after shave lotion. I would guess that a women’s perfume would be just as acceptable to the dog but either scent is better than whatever the dog would naturally find.
      Now that the dog is clean and acceptable I can finally get back to finding something to write about, maybe another political rant, or maybe something about the idiocy of Nobel prize winning economist.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's 4 am, and I'm still awake.

It’s 4 AM, and I’m still awake. Some nights I can’t sleep, I get out of bed and go sit in the living room, waiting for tired eyes. I need the break from lying in bed and counting sheep, the sheep were starting to ask questions. My body wants rest, but my mind will not rest, and the trouble of ages dominates my mental poster boards. The impending doom of all things good is scheduled to occur tomorrow. I read that on the internet, and we all know that the internet cannot tell lies (I learned that watching a TV commercial). I had spent the early evening reading political blogs, RedState, Breitbart, TownHall, HotAir, American Thinker, then HuffPost, Daily Kos, Think Progressive, and finally stopping at VICE Video. Now my mind will not settle down, I am surrounded by danger and ruin, now we are facing our final chance to save America, the last chance to save our children and grandchildren. I must find the perfect slogan, a precisely targeted message, or the entire conservative movement is lost. Words, a small hand full of words, the right words for the final victory over evil progressivism, only then all will be right. My mind will not rest until I find the Words, the message that will convert blacks, women, Asians, Mexicans, Catholics, polar bears, and college students to conservatism. Thinking a moratorium would help clear my mind, I turn on the television.
I grip the remote control and command forth MSNBC, within moments my mind settles, I start to hum kumbaya and look around for someone to hug, I am alone and have to hug myself. Feeling much better I flip the channel to Fox News, my reptilian brain stirs and I feel anger and fear, with a driving need to bite someone. Clutching the remote I punch up CNN, immediately all higher mental functions cease. Finally, moderation of the turmoil, surcease from the pain, with my mind in neutral I start to relax, sleep only minutes away.
I wake with the predawn light gently filling the world outside my picture window. The cable show had been shut down by the automatic power saver mode. I watch the early bird hopping over my lawn. The early bird appears to be stalking the bird feeder. The bird feeder remains unaware, and the early bird catches it. The Chow Chow is resting easily on a rug, eyes focused on me; she is waiting for some positive sign of life, some movement presaging consciousness on my part. I stand and move to make coffee, the Chow’s relieve is obvious, she knows there will be food and water for one more day.
It will be another hot Texas day, is this summer hotter than last summer? Is global warming going to flood my homestead with rising sea levels? No… no… NO… Global warming is a scam by the Weather Channel, an assault on my freedom and liberty by an elitist science. If the liberals don’t kill me, the conservatives certainly will. My mind seizes up, going into automatic safe mode, cancelling all input. My hearing ceases, my eyes glaze, and my mouth dries, I can’t even feel the clothing on my body. Everything becoming dark and soundless, the end has arrived, doom has come early. I see the ground coming up to meet me.
Slowly my mind reboots, my fingers tingle, a humming sound builds in my ears, and a blurred gray world floats before me. I am on the floor with the dog licking my face. I am thankful for the healing powers of dog saliva. With slow measured movement I rise, turn and look out the window, some instinct stops me from thinking about … something. I vaguely remember that today is important, but why? It’s trash day, that’s it. I have to gather all useless items and throw them away, that’s it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Why Democracies Fail and the Fatal Sequence

 “Truthiness” (coined by Stephen Colbert), a variant of “Truthy”, is used as satire to describe false claims that sound true. The right wing of the political landscape is full of truthy claims; until I retired I accepted many of these truthy claims because, well, they sounded true. Since retiring I have had the time and desire to read and check facts. Repeatedly I find the political right’s talking points to be factually challenged. I often don’t fact check the political left’s talking points because my default position is that the left is wrong. In finding the right’s claims false I feel terribly let down, I feel that I have been used. Now adrift, I have gone independent, a wonderful feeling.
There is one truthy quote argued so strongly that most have accepted it. I certainly did, until I decided to fact check and think.
“A democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.” A quote used by future President Reagan (March 5th, 1964), later repeated by many Republican leaders and editorial writers.
First, let’s look at the authenticity of this quote.
This is quote is attributed to Alexis de Toacqueville, or sometimes cited to Benjamin Disraeli, or sometimes Alexander Hamilton, or sometimes Thomas Jefferson, or sometimes Benjamin Franklin, or was it Elmer T. Peterson, a writer for the Daily Oklahoman in 1951, who claimed Alexander Tyler (A Scottish Law professor) as the author (the quote appears in no work by Professor Tyler and he never said it in any public speech), you may see a pattern here. This quote cannot be traced to anyone, while being cited as wisdom of the ages by everyone.
If the quote is made-up is there truth in the sentiment? I need to fill in the thought and complete the proposition. This is part of the Why Democracies Fail (WDF) narrative, which includes the theory of a Fatal Sequence (FS), and held as a fundamental truth by travelers on the right side of the political river. As part of the WDF belief it doesn’t matter if Disraeli had this insight centuries ago, it is a reality in modern America. America is going to fail because poor people, and single mothers, and the unemployed, and food stamp recipients are all greedily raiding the public treasury. America is following the Fatal Sequence to Bondage.

For your enlightenment, I present The Fatal Sequence (FS).
Bondage to Spiritual Faith
Spiritual Faith to Courage
Courage to Liberty
Liberty to Abundance
Abundance to Selfishness
Selfishness to Apathy
Apathy to Dependency
Dependency to Bondage

This is not a circle, when a nation arrives at the final stage of Bondage, the condition is permanent. The unshakable belief is that America has reached the “Apathy to Dependency” stage and our only salvation rest in ending the Dependency.
Now we can investigate the truth of the sentiment. Do democracies fail by falling into the Fatal Sequence trap? There is no shortage of failed democracies/republics to examine and see if the proposed Fatal Sequence is applicable.
The Greek City State of Athens – Failed due to political corruption and greed by the ruling elites.
The Roman Republic – Failed due to political corruption and greed by the ruling elites.
The German Weimar Republic – Failed due to worldwide financial collapse (the great depression), which allowed demagoguery by a political opportunist (A. Hitler).
Uganda (Borders on Lake Victoria in Africa) – Military coup by Ida Amin.
We cannot find any historical example of a failed democracy/republic that follows the Fatal Sequence. Not even a lose criterion can shoe horn any nation into the Fatal Sequence. Will any current example of a democratic failure fit? Is the Fatal Sequence operable in nations such as Egypt, Iraqi, or Greece?
Egypt – Elected government failed to rule democratically, failure is still an open question.
Iraqi – I know most Americans are trying to forget this one after a long decade and trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. We are asking why democracies fail, and this is an example. Plenty of spiritual faith (the Sunni and Shiites), so maybe this is an example in a very early state Fatal Sequence.
Greece – Government has not failed. Certainly a poster child for the right, but the financial problems are rooted in international banking, the destitute pensioners are still destitute, as such they didn’t take the money.
This deep rooted, 60 year old Republican theory has been undated and refined to explain how the poor, single mothers, the unemployed, food stamp claimants, immigrants and pensioners are plundering the public largess. The theory claims these people are trapped in a state of Dependency, one step from eternal Bondage, sacrificing their liberty while stealing the wages of honest, hard working patriots.  A theory with the gravitas of some (unknown) serious and dignified philosopher.
This theory is a massive intellectual failure, a theory without value or merit, and a theory without any predictive ability, a theory that starts with a lie and ends with a scam. History holds a different lesson; democracies fail due to greed and corruption. The real lesson of history purposes a valid theory, the economic theory of “Rent Seeking”. Rent Seeking is when elites use their political power to obtain economic gain without reciprocating benefits back to society. Rent Seeking is purely parasitic, creating no new economic wealth, capturing government and capitalism solely for personal gain. This is how democracies die.

Friday, August 2, 2013

A LIV reads a book

Remaining a blissful Low-Information-Voter (LIV) should be a low effort undertaking. It has not turned out that way. I had originally thought that avoiding Fox News and talk radio would suffice, but, alas, no, without the right wing nuts I lacked criteria to measure my uninformedness. What is the informed High-Information-Voter’s (hereafter, HIV) understanding of Benghazi-Gate, or IRS-Gate, or other incompetent-black-President-Gate scandal? Indeed, what is the subject I must be informed about? As a result I have to spend some quality time with my brilliant, inspired cohorts on the right. Given the consistency of the right wing ecosphere, considerable resources are expended in forming informed information. The proper informed belief is updated infrequently, touching base with the primary sources need only be once a week or less, and this leaves considerable time to remain uninformed by reading history or science.
I do enjoy the fictional works of SciFi, but a good science book will keep me improperly informed enough to be an official LIV. Without a reading plan I wander about the online library selecting titles in a random manner, recently my selections have been about diseases, plagues and genetic science. These subjects require a belief in evolutionary science, which nails me as a total LIV. A beneficial genetic change of only one in a billion replications will happen every day because of the large number of pathogens.
A beneficial change for the microbe may not be beneficial for the host. There are three areas the microbe is constantly trying to improve, first is infection of a host, second is replication and last is escape from one host into new host. The accepted theory is that this is purely random, recent laboratory studies indicate that DNA is manipulated by the microbes. This is scary, over billions of years microbes have evolved the ability to evolve on demand. This explains the extraordinary leaps microbes and viruses have consistently displayed when attacked by medical science, results that could not be explained by the mathematics of random chance. Modern medicine can follow this process at the molecular level, it is not random, instead it is an orchestrated response to the chemical soup surrounding the microbe.
Summarizing my readings in medical science, for microbes it is all about ecology, for humans it is all about greed. The microbes live in a pure natural world while humans live in a made up reality, a comfortable paradigm with good guys and bad guys. This human centric worldview gives the pathogens a significant advantage. As a LIV I wish to protect myself from a pandemic by providing healthcare and medicine to poor and sick populations, while the HIV refuses to give “free stuff” to “lazy people”, which gives an upper hand to the pathogen.
The information purveyor’s of the right tell of restaurant owners cutting hours to avoid providing health care. Why would I wish to buy food from sick people? Sick employees and food preparation, to this LIV, seems a bad idea. I have noted that healthy people are more productive, with better attendance, than sick people. These same providers of information talk of sickness brought to America by illegal immigrants, to the highly informed voter, sick illegal immigrants can scamper across deserts; to a medically informed Voter, disease travels with the businessman on an airplane.
The medical science is a far more entertaining, and frightening, story than one of illegal immigrants or lazy people. Reality does not serve a political agenda of less government. Reality would indicate a well funded, government supported, medical research community. Research and history calls for a universal health care system. History shows that the “political will” appears once 10% of the population is dead or seriously sick. History also shows that the response is never medically sound; it is always based on fear and bigotry. Like pathogens, politicians never miss an opportunity.