Sunday, December 30, 2007

arbecht macht frei

According to diesem NY Post artikel, der kommisars of Westchester County, New York are considering to offer the resident "alter cockers" the wondrous opportunity of being worked till death in order to rectify for the sin of declining to kick der bucket without paying their property tax tribute.

Update: Fixed article link

Monday, December 24, 2007


(click image to see entire strip)

Having just purchased the handsomely-discounted complete three-volume set of Calvin and Hobbes (on for $67!), I've been setting aside some time every day to read a couple of pages. At the rate I'm going I suppose I'll be finished some time next year. (BTW, you can view the entire collection here in chronological order.)

The cartoon above was part of the few I skimmed this morning a short while after having breakfast. The cartoon was still on the mind later in the day when I came to a shocking realization that gravity, the force that keeps us mere mortals firmly planted on terra firma is also responsible for that Calvin losing his balloon, for that blimp soaring overhead, and keeping watergoing vessels afloat. Gravity is not arbitrary in that sense that it only applies to certain bodies, but not all.

The revelation of course is intuitive-- the relative density of interacting bodies is the key to deciding via gravitational force which objects will force their way towards other bodies of mass, upsetting and forcing aside less dense materials in the process.

The balloon thus floats away from Calvin because denser molecules of air are pushing to occupy the space that less dense gases dare occupy hidden within their rubber spheroids.

The next step from there is quite unclear to me; yet if you have a rigid, yet lightweight balloon 'filled' with vacuum, I'm supposing that it will float away from earth so long that the density of the air that displaces the entire volume of the balloon exceeds the density of the material comprising the skin of the balloon.

Better yet, if we fill that balloon with anti-matter, or 'negmatter' as Robert L. Forward calls it, we should have ourselves a true anti-gravity device, not one that simply takes advantage of relative density in a gravitational field.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the left hand of.. something

"Wrong had been done and it had to be balanced out and accounted for personally. But humans were full of rights, and very short of responsibilities." -- Karen Traviss, City of Pearl

City of Pearl is the first book in Traviss's six-part series called the Wess'har Wars. To be candid, I found this book on the formulaic side, one which failed to capture my imagination or blow it to smithereens in the process.

To be fair, it could be my disliking of Traviss's confusing political philosophy which put me off given that her universe is one in which the evil corporations (sigh!) on Earth have eliminated most natural growing foods and have replaced them with genetically-modified and patent-secured replacements to reap monopoly profits with the side consequence of mass starvation for the rest of the human population (::rolling eyes!::)

Or that the protagonist is a former cop, once an environmental hazard protection goon whose past was mired in a conspiratorial battle against eco-terrorists in the highest rank of industry and government.

Then there was the repeatedly mentioned "Government's work is God's work" and other similar endorsements for institutionalized mass servitude, which at times was bewildering because you knew that Traviss had it in herself to transcend from the socialist-leftist memeage into the more mature left-anarchist/left-libertarian tradition. Though to her credit it, I sometimes felt as though I was holding a book by Ursala K. LeGuin, as witnessed by this post's opening quote, by far my favorite line in the entire book.

Friday, December 14, 2007

the political means

"It's the lawyers. They're evil. They're bloodsuckers. They're parasites. We create wealth, they live off our scraps. They see guys like us with money, and they say, 'Okay, let's invent some law that fucks this guy up. Let's create some rules about accounting that are tricky and complex and arcane that nobody can possibly comply with them. Then let's bribe some Congressmen to pass the law, and we'll shake these rich bastards down.' That's what it is. You pay to settle the case, and the lawyers split the money. They're all in on it together - not just the plaintiff lawyers but your own defense lawyers too. At the end of the day it's no different than if they put a gun to your head and robbed you in an alley. It's a mugging. Same damn thing. Like it or not, this will only end one way - you will write a huge check, and these fuckers will fight over it like a pack of hyenas tearing at a deer carcass."
-- Fake Steve Jobs, oPtion$

Actually it's not quite the same thing--

"The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a 'protector,' and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to 'protect' those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful 'sovereign,' on account of the 'protection' he affords you. He does not keep 'protecting' you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villanies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave."
-- Lysander Spooner, No Treason