Friday, December 30, 2011

The socialist conception of "justice"

Simply put, it is to take from those who have created and/or invested, and give it to those who simply demand it.

I have special reason to be angry over this, as someone who's had his property stolen despite no crime and no charges. It comes down to "the law" ready to shoot you if they can't take what's rightfully yours. After half a year, Jacob Ostreicher hasn't been charged, tried or convicted. Yet Bolivia's government is going to auction off his rice holdings, "so that it doesn't go bad." We should not be surprised that the quantity of rice is being understated, and we should have every expectation that Ostreicher will be freed but not see a dime.

"A judge in September ordered Ostreicher's release on bail, then six days later revoked that decision." The judge finally reached an agreement on his cut, no doubt.

To hell with Evo Morales -- God strike him down dead like every tyrant deserves.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Please, please, people, don't wait another day to check your home's fire safety

You may have heard of the horrible house fire in Stamford, Connecticut, that killed a grandfather and three young girls. Millions of our hearts go out to the survivors. I fear that some level of government will enact new "safety laws," which I don't deny will be borne of the best of intentions, but like any other government attempt at safety, they'll merely make people complacent with "good enough." It also opens the door into exactly how a government will enforce these rules. Inspections? Submitting photos?

There are basic rules about fire safety. I'm a strong believer that each room needs a smoke detector, including basements and garages. It may be too late by the time a hallway smoke detector picks up smoke from a bedroom. Test them every few months, and replace batteries every six months. A few extra dollars is well worth it here.

I'll never forget an article reprinted years ago in Reader's Digest that warned you can't rely on smoke to wake you up. One man woke up but found himself paralyzed from having already been deprived of oxygen.

Fire extinguishers. We keep a heavy-duty model in the kitchen, and a mid-sized model by the fireplace. Eventually they lose charge and must be replaced, but isn't it worth it? A small investment can save your life, or at least prevent bad property damage. Some years back, I came home to find my mother used the hand-held model we had in our old kitchen -- after she put the frying pan and its grease fire in the sink, then sprayed everything with water. Luckily the fire didn't spread beyond the sink, allowing her to use the fire extinguisher. Some baking soda, and putting the cover on the pan, would have done just fine.

I personally prefer battery-operated smoke detectors. I don't trust that wired detectors will always have power, when an alkaline battery will last well beyond the recommended six months. The exception seems to be AC-powered, interconnected detectors that are mostly found in newer houses, but I say again that you're trusting a lot in uninterrupted power.

I went out and purchased carbon monoxide detectors immediately after hearing of Weird Al Yankovic's parents. There are models that detect both smoke and CO, and a few dollars more can buy one with a digital display. It makes me feel much better to run the fireplace with our Kidde reading a flat zero.

The real tragedy of the Stamford fire is that, as is currently reported, burning embers were placed outside. Never leave anything burning unattended, even if you're awake, even if you're sure the fire can't spread. Charlie once told me about adults at a Boy Scouts camp, real idiots who wanted to keep the coals live overnight so a fire would be easy to start in the morning! Good lord, didn't those turd-brained imbeciles ever read the Boy Scouts Handbook? It's a poor Scout who doesn't learn that if you're not attending to the fire, you can't trust it to stay controlled. By contrast, I once went to a camp where our Eagle-badged hike leader was later fired. I wasn't feeling well from a higher-altitude hike, and a friend walked back with me. But the rule was firm: the leader was responsible for us and was not to leave us alone. That was a good camp.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

South Korea in fact should send a delegate of sorts to Kimmy the Kook's funeral

In response to the North Korea government's latest idiocy, South Korea should RSVP that they couldn't have found a better representative of South Korea's feelings: mold some cow dung into a little statue of Kim, as befitting that bastard's nature. I don't suppose it could be sent COD.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of course AFP would blame North Korea's problems on everything but communism

Is this really so unbelievable, when mainstream news apologizes for every collectivist and tyrant?
N. Korea's new leader faces ruinous inheritance

Ready or not, North Korea's youthful new leader will inherit an economy in ruins, a malnourished population -- and a political system that effectively rules out life-saving reform.

Kim Jong-Un, the 20-something "great successor" to his late father Kim Jong-Il, had no known military or administrative experience until singled out as heir apparent around three years ago.

"This is hardly a country that can be ruled by a novice leader," said Wednesday's Korea Herald in Seoul.

Describing the North's "wretchedness", it cited food and energy shortages, meagre foreign investment, corruption, repression, military privileges and "a false sense of pride" in being a nuclear power.

The communist North in the 1960s grew faster than capitalist rival South Korea. But the loss of crucial aid as the Soviet Union disintegrated accelerated a downward spiral in the 1990s.
Of course, the news will not mention the collectivism that has forced an entire nation into poverty. It won't mention that Kim Jong Il spent countless millions on Bentleys and bottles of Louis XIII, then squandered billions on a military while millions of people have starved to death.

Of course the news won't mention the tyrant who bankrupted his nation while threatening his nation's biggest aid donors. The news will blame Mother Nature and capitalism:
Famine which began in the mid-1990s killed hundreds of thousands and severe food shortages persist.

UN aid chief Valerie Amos has urged the world to reduce "terrible" levels of malnutrition. Amos, who visited North Korea in October, said six million people urgently need food aid.
It's the West's fault for not just handing over money, right? How could we possibly blame the bellicose butt-crumb bastard who promised to abandon nuclear weapons (not technology but weapons) in exchange for fuel and food, then revealed his lie as a way of extorting more (surprising no one with two or more functioning neurons)?
UN agencies say they have monitoring in place to ensure food reaches the neediest and not the army. But donations to UN programmes have dwindled because of irritation at Pyongyang's missile and nuclear ambitions.
Irritation! Of course the lies and deception, the decades-long attacks on South Korea, have nothing to do with it.
Private markets sprang up in the North after the state food distribution system largely collapsed during the famine years.
And there is no famine now -- so why is North Korea still in such dire need of food? It couldn't be from communism that has killed 100 million people in the last century, could it?
Kim Jong-Il experimented with limited market reforms in 2002 but rolled them back in 2005, apparently for fear of losing control over the economy.
I should not have to explain this.
But several analysts say full-scale economic liberalisation would threaten the very raison d'etre of a regime which theoretically provides its people's needs from cradle to grave.
Indeed, a wonderful system that where most North Koreans are born into, live in, and die in almost unimaginable poverty.
US academic and researcher Stephan Haggard says he has found that North Koreans involved in the market have more negative perceptions of the regime than their peers.
And will this Haggard conduct another study where he discovers that water is wet?
Biswas described the North's economy as a "basket case" amid a sea of rising East Asian prosperity.

"The pursuit of Stalinist economic policies has inflicted devastating suffering on the North Korean population," he wrote.

Biswas said the likeliest future policy was maintaining the status quo, meaning little chance of significant economic progress.

Should the country move gradually towards economic liberalisation and detente, "significant improvements" in living standards could be achieved by 2020.
Finally, some truth.

God in heaven, is "Simon Martin" Jimmy Carter's pen name?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Let it be known: the name "Best Buy" itself is false advertising

I've never trusted Best Buy, and I never will. I can never forgive them for wasting my time more than once. Previously I've blogged that there's bad customer service, atrocious customer service, and Best Buy. I still would sooner pay more at Amazon, not just for the convenience of delivery, but because Best Buy is notorious for not having things in stock. Every Best Buy ad should be treated as "quantities severely limited." And thankfully, because the store was either out of stock or the staff were completely unhelpful, I've never purchased a single thing from Best Buy and hence haven't had to worry about them losing my item needing repair.

But this takes the cake. It's one thing to cancel customers' orders because of a website Linkmistake, which people complain about from time to time on Deals Woot. Store X posts a product with an erroneous price, people swarm to buy it, and what person who understands business will insist that the store honor a clear error? When Home Depot's site some months back featured a large washing machine for $150, of course that wasn't the true price, and orders were necessarily canceled. "If it's too good to be true."

Best Buy, however, made it a point to advertise these prices, and there was nothing until the recent cancellation e-mails to indicate the products were out of stock. Good lord. "Game on, Santa"? People would have done better to believe in Santa delivering the products.

For more stuff to make you facepalm, look at Consumerist's related links:

Best Buy Loyalty Rewarded With Deeply Annoying Retail Experience

Hurry To Best Buy For Free Nonexistent Shipping

Best Buy Sells You Appliances, Then Sells Them To Someone Else

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nice people you have working for you, FedEx

"It's hard to find good help" doesn't begin to describe this. Check this out. I can't wait for FedEx's explanation. As a matter of publicity, they'll have to fire the driver, but so what? Who will he screw over next time? I swear to heaven, this world is filled with people who should be exiled into black holes.

It's not an isolated incident. The FedEx rep hung up on me as part of their screwing me over, when I desperately tried to find the package on Christmas Eve. Several years later, I still don't use them deliberately, like when someone sends a parcel without telling me their courier of choice. If I order something that uses different shippers, I've paid extra to use a different carrier, and I've also not placed the order if FedEx is the only option.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

If it's true that Kim Jong Il has died, then it's a great day

May Castro and Chavez be right behind him on the way to hell, that goddamn son of a bitch.

I don't ascribe to the belief that you shouldn't cheer anyone's death. I am charitable in that I have compassion for good people in unfortunate situations, but I'm not so charitable that I don't feel happy about the deaths of truly evil people.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Happy birthday to Kirk Douglas

May you live to 120!

He was born poor in the same upstate region of New York as my father, and he's a prime example of not letting what you're born into dictate the limits of your life. There just aren't any more actors like him.

But this is the most important thing to note about a very fine man: "In addition, Douglas has been a long-time humanitarian and a benefactor of the Los Angeles Mission shelter, where he and his wife, Anne, were on hand last month to help serve 4,000 Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless."

Jesus, Nichole Scherzinger has to be absolutely brain-dead

God damn that fucking moron. What fake tears, what a lack of courage.

I hope Rachel Crowe keeps her chin up despite this rigged bullshit. (Notice how the host was pressing for a quick decision, with plenty of time left to create drama.) With a few years of careful study, she could go from supremely talented to utterly phenomenal. Bless that poor girl's heart.

Monday, December 05, 2011

This new bullshit called the "MF Global rule"

Like Sarbanes-Oxley, the new "MF Global rule" is an overreaction, utter nonsense, and another power-grab by the feds.

"The new rule will limit how the brokerage industry can invest customer money, largely barring firms from using client funds to buy foreign sovereign debt. It also prevents a complex transaction that allowed MF Global, in essence, to borrow money from its own customers."

The problem with MF Global wasn't that it invested in sovereign debt, but that it stole money from its clients (it's theft when you take something without the owner's permission) to cover its proprietary desk's losses from sovereign debt investments. It was already a crime to take clients' money for the firm's own trading. But take some regulators who have an agenda of usurping more control, and other regulators who want to ban the effect because they don't understand the cause...

The problem with Enron and WorldCom wasn't a lack of regulatory oversight, but a lack of prosecution. Fraud was already a crime, and Sarbanes-Oxley has done nothing to prevent additional fraud. In fact, as Stephen Bainbridge has pointed out, SarbOx hinders U.S. capital markets, especially IPOs, and encourages public companies to go private so they can escape the costly regulation. Larry Ribstein notes a study "that SOX makes it cost less for a public firm to acquire a private target than for a private target to do an IPO because the public firm can apply its existing SOX infrastructure to the newly acquired firm." And his conclusion is more than compelling: "rules designed to make the markets safe for ordinary investors have ended by excluding them." Such is the inescapable effect of government regulation. Government control.

At best, the "MF Global rule" does nothing to protect investors. At worst, it's opening the door. Look what's next: "Bart Chilton, a Democratic member of the commodities commission, is pushing for Congress to create an insurance fund for futures industry customers."

This will no doubt work just as well as the FDIC fund, which is now all but completely tapped after all these bank failures (thanks to new FDIC mark-to-market requirements that forced otherwise solvent banks to close). If this insurance fund is created, we can expect the CFTC to create rules that effectively force some brokerages to close.