Friday, February 28, 2014

The Pathocrats

All serial killers are psychopaths, but not all psychopaths are serial killers ... Psychopaths are in our judicial system, our government, our places of worship ... and in our families ...

Worldwide Food Shortages

Ortega y Gasset

Mark Twain Quote of the Day

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin." -Mark Twain

Recovery Fantasy Persists Despite Contrary Data

Tucker Carlson: Mainstream Media Is Dying

Mainstream media viewership is dying almost as quickly as overall viewer trust, and the alternative news is now rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the scripted media. A new age of media has begun.-The Verdict Is In: Mainstream Media is Dead

World's Capital of Inflation, Homicide, and Scarcity

This is the half of the country whose sons and daughters have taken to the streets to protest against a repressive regime that treats them as mortal enemies. And maybe they are. After all, they represent the vanguard of a society no longer willing to tolerate an abusive government with disastrous results to show for its 15-year grip on power: Venezuela is now the world champion of inflation, homicide, insecurity, and shortages of essential goods-from milk for children to insulin for diabetics and all kinds of indispensable products. All this despite having the greatest oil reserves in the world and a government with absolute control of all state institutions and levers of power. Sadly, that government has used its immense wealth and authority to push through unsustainable populist policies, buy votes, jail opposition leaders, and shut down television channels. Daily shortages of basic goods, fear of crime, and hopelessness have become unbearable.-The Tragedy of Venezuela

Venezuela Gripped by Weeks of Anti-Government Protest [PHOTOS]

But, but, wait...aren't the revolutionaries the ones in power there? Aren't THEY the ones who embrace Fidel Castro's "revolutionary" Cuba? No, the real revolution is always AGAINST tyranny and repression and state control of people's lives. Fuck Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, Castro and the whole evil, lying, socialist bunch of commie bastards!

Sen. Rand Paul Trying To Block Surgeon General Nominee

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Evil Killer Cops Murder Husband and Father

When police arrived, they say Luis Rodriguez was uncooperative when asked for identification and five Moore Oklahoma police officers took him down. You can hear Luis groaning and those were, unfortunately, the last sounds he appears to make.-Watching your husband die at the hands of police

A co-worker was watching this video at work today. Usually you get pro-cop and pro-military bullshit from the average worker drone, but this young man was very upset and angry at what he was seeing in this video. He kept repeating "police brutality" and "how can this happen in America".

There is hope. Young people are waking up. Beware tyrants, your blood may soon be spilled in the fight for liberty.

Police Shoot Homeless Man (Milton Hall) 46 times in 5 Seconds

No criminal charges have been brought against these despicable killers. The Department of (In)Justice and the FBI issued a statement: “After a thorough investigation, federal authorities have determined that this tragic event does not present sufficient evidence of willful misconduct to lead to a federal criminal prosecution of the police officers involved.”-Police Murder a Man in Broad Daylight and Are Not Charged

Gateway To Korea

I hate to fly, even within the United states, yet I yearn to travel at the same time. South Korea (the real Korea) is a great country, and provides a great contrast to the hellhole nightmare totalitarianism of North Korea's Communist dictatorship. I'd like to visit the real Korea someday. I've personally known several people from South Korea, and they were all good, decent, and freedom loving.


People On The Left Are The Very Ones Who Actually Do Advocate Slavery

I agree with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who remarked recently that people now seem more overly sensitive about racial differences than 50 years ago.

In my view, the elitists of the Left seem to be obsessed over race, but not in a genuinely sensitive way, more in a self-righteous and even hypocritical way. When someone criticizes Barack Obama, for instance, the race-obsessed accuse the critics of racism, regardless of the issue. And many news editors continue to censor out the race of black youths accused of assaulting white victims.

And, believe it or not, there has even been a case recently in which the president of a prestigious university misread an article which had already quoted out of context Walter Block, an even more prestigious economics professor. This led to the university president to claim that the professor had endorsed slavery “enforced against someone’s free will,” when in fact Dr. Block had stated that the “only real problem was that this relationship was compulsory. It violated the law of free association, and that of the slaves’ private property rights in their own persons.”

Perhaps the university president who complained needs to get reading glasses (or better ones, if he already has them).

Over-sensitivity to racial matters or references to early American chattel slavery seems to go with many other kinds of politically-incorrect intolerance in America now.
Another example is the MSNBC crowd who believe that one’s support for independence from central planners has racist motivations, as the elitists look upon nullification advocates and secessionists as “neo-confederates.”

Yet, those people on the Left are the very ones who actually do advocate slavery, in the truest definition of the word.

No, they do not promote chattel slavery, in which an individual is involuntarily made to be the property of another, such as the aforementioned slaves of early America.

But both the Left and conservatives promote a more collectivized enslavement of each individual in the collectivists’ beloved compulsory government policies, such as insurance mandates and micro-managerial bureaucratic regulations, drug laws and marriage laws, which force everyone to involuntarily serve government bureaucrats and their minions, as well as the enforcers of such bureaucrats’ whims.
Another phrase for enslavement is “involuntary servitude,” such as with taxation.

Statist rationalizations for the robbery and labor-enslavement committed by government thugs are never-ending.

When government bureaucrats force someone to perform an extra hour of labor per day to serve the bureaucrats’ demands, in the absence of a voluntary contract, then it is obviously involuntary.

Oh, the collectivists and statists come up with rationalizations for such involuntary servitude and compulsory contract-less labor, saying there’s some sort of societal “contract” or “compact” (that doesn’t exist except in their own heads).You see, those who want to force others to serve them and their interests and their causes will come up with excuses.

And when people are ordered by government officials to give them personal information, such as one’s place of employment, one’s salary or what one pays employees or one’s profits or losses — information that is none of their business — how is that not being a slave of those giving the orders?

And what about the Affordable Care Act? Bureaucrats order you to purchase an insurance policy or provide insurance to employees, or you will be punished. And doctors must follow intrusive rules written by know-nothing parasites, and doctors and hospitals must submit patients’ private medical information to those government bureaucrats.

How are all these people not the property of those dictatorial government bureaucrats? It is as though the bureaucrats own you and the most personal aspects of your private life.

In those instances, your ownership of the fruits of your labor and of your “personal effects” (such as your private medical information or business matters) is expropriated by the bureaucrats.

In contrast, when you own your own life, you decide whether or not you will purchase health insurance — not some little dictator central planner.  And doctors will decide how to run their own medical practices — not some schnook bureaucrat. In these cases, no one may rob you (called a “fine”), no one may arrest you, no harassment by non-productive uniformed thugs.

And if you own your own business that you established through your own labor, capital and investment, and on your own time, you decide whether or not to provide insurance to employees. And in such a situation free of government criminality, the relationship between employers and employees is strictly voluntary.
If the employees don’t like the unavailability of health care provision at some company, they are free to work elsewhere.

In this system of freedom, no one is the slave of a government bureaucrat giving orders that must be obeyed involuntarily.

So regarding the idea of government bureaucrats claiming ownership of the lives of those over whom they rule — in the name of “health care” — it is really just a case of covetous parasites who just get off on imposing their own will onto others as if the others are the property of the bureaucracy parasites. And this enslavement of other people isn’t just by government employees, but all those activists and special interest groups who align themselves with these State vultures.

Besides the ongoing medical slavery imposed by fascists and collectivists with power, there is the enslavement of the general population by the badged goons and thugs who enforce the bureaucrats’ diktats.
Some people out there might think it absurd the suggestion that the civilian population are “slaves” of government police. But readers here already understand the reality in modern Amerika.
William Grigg recently wrote about the relationship between us mere civilians and the “law enforcement” masters.
From that perspective, all citizens are incipient slaves, subject to detention, abduction, and other abuse at the whim of uniformed slave-keepers.
A slave is somebody who cannot say “no” – as in, “No, I can’t talk to you right now because I’m on the clock and there are paying customers ahead of you.” This is because the slave doesn’t exercise self-ownership in any sense in the presence of a slave-keeper.
A slave-keeper is somebody who claims the legal right to take ownership of another person at his discretion, and use physical violence to compel submission.
. . .
The conceit that defines law enforcement is that all claims to self-ownership evaporate in the presence of a police officer.
And Grigg also notes that
From its inception, American “law enforcement” has been in the business of harassing harmless people, demanding that they present their “papers,” and violently abducting them if they cannot give a proper “accounting” of themselves to those who presumed to own them. Victims of 18th century slave patrols might be mystified by the accoutrements of contemporary police, astounded by the technology they can employ in the service of official coercion, and horrified by their capacity for unprovoked violence, often of the lethal variety.
One example of the enslavement of civilians by both government legislators and their badged enforcers is the drug war.

Quite simply, if you own your own body and your own life, then of course you have a right to put whatever chemicals into your own body you want to have.

In a mature and just society, individuals would be expected to take responsibility for their own choices and decisions. (Sadly, our society is neither mature nor just.)

But if the State owns your body and your life, then of course the “lawmakers” (sic) and their enforcers have a right to tell you what you may or may not put into your body. You belong to them. You are their property.
The absurdity of these laws of State enslavement of the people is obvious when a peaceful individual is not harming anyone, yet is captured by a uniformed goon and thrown into a cage, merely for ingesting a drug or just for being in possession of something. It’s nuts. Only the “low-information voter” types (as the “Ditto-Heads” would say) or those bent on sadism would enforce such laws of subjugation.

Which brings me to the immigration laws. Speaking of “Ditto-Heads,” it is mainly the conservatives who support these laws which go against the truly American concepts of self-ownership and private property. The conservatives don’t realize what covetous collectivists they are when they support this communal ownership of the territory as a whole.

With the immigration issue, such communal, communistic collective ownership of the entire territory really amounts to the collective owning everything within the territory, including all property, businesses, and the people themselves. When you have armed goons going into a “private” business to harass or arrest the owner for employing a non-approved immigrant, you are claiming ownership over that person’s business, and his life. If the owner really does “own” his business, then he decides whom to employ, based on which applicant would better serve his customers.

And how un-American is it to demand from someone “your papers,” someone who is not suspected of any actual crimes, and is minding his own business?

The anti-immigration crowd believes in socialist central planning in immigration — they want more know-nothing government bureaucrats to decide who may or may not be here, work here and start a new life here. In this issue, conservatives love central planners.

So, not only do the anti-immigration people claim ownership of the lives of their fellow Americans, employers and workers alike, but over the lives of foreigners as well.

Like it or not, all human beings have a natural, inherent right of self-ownership, a right to their freedom to travel and migrate, as long as they don’t trespass on private property.Private property rights is a concept which is foreign to the conservatives as much as it is to the Left. This is why conservatives generally want anti-gay marriage laws. They believe they own the lives of others who want to marry someone who is not approved by those covetous conservatives.

In fact, the conservatives act as though they own the “institution of marriage” itself. The conservatives and traditionalists have seized ownership of marriage, and their rules of “opposite-sex only” must be instilled into law — private property rights, the sanctity of voluntary contracts, and self-ownership be damned.
In our majority-rules democracy society, everyone gets to use the powers of the State to covet and enslave everyone else and their property. That’s why we call them “statists.”

Well, the world would be a much better place if peaceful people who just want to live their own lives were left alone by the enslaving and covetous statists. The parasites need to cease their claims of ownership of other people, and of property they did not acquire justly.

Get the parasitic State and its minions out of other people’s private lives, their medical matters, their earnings and private wealth, their drug choices, out of their marriages, and stop getting in the way of people who want to migrate to a new, what used to be better, area of the world.-

by  Scott Lazarowitz

 Copyright © 2014 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.

Cheap Beer Reviewed By A Wine Expert

I've really come to dislike beer, although beer is what I learned to get drunk on. I'll write about that someday, but I mostly use hard liquor when I drink these days, if I drink at all. Major American beers generally suck donkey balls.

video via T.C.

Huge Split: Eastern Ukraine Rises Against Kiev

Israeli ex-officer leads Ukraine "peacefull protesters"

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Egyptian Army Claims Miracle Cure for Hepatitis C and HIV

Restoring Democracy, American Style

US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, who was caught on tape planning the overthrow of the Ukrainian government with US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, described the fruits of his heretofore successful regime change operation as “thrilling, exhausting, but also inspiring.”

The democratically-elected Viktor Yanukovich is ousted — despite a US/EU-brokered deal — and his political party is about to be outlawed in a Ukrainian parliament that has tossed aside constitutional procedures and is operating in full revolution mode. In Yanukovich’s place has been installed — contrary to Ukrainian legal procedures — the former head of the KGB, Oleksandr Turchynov.

But that is not enough for Susan Rice (and her comrade-in-arms, Senator John McCain).
Asked about the possibility that the Russian military might become involved in restoring the legal government in Ukraine, she warned: “That would be a grave mistake.”

Grave mistake? Is Susan Rice threatening US military action against Russia?

She continued, “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence return and the situation escalate.” This after it was US support for the rebels in Ukraine that started the violence in the first place.-

Government Thugs (IRS) Make Threats

President Obama’s Internal Revenue Service today quietly released a series of Obamacare “Health Care Tax Tips” warning Americans that they must obtain “qualifying” health insurance – as defined by the federal government – or face a “shared responsibility payment” when filing their tax returns in 2015.
Once fully phased in, the Obamacare individual mandate tax will rise steeply, to a maximum of 2.5 percent of Adjusted Gross Income or $2,085 – whichever is higher.
Read more: IRS Warns: Obamacare Tax Must Be Paid with Tax Return
Follow us: @taxreformer on Twitter
The comments at the above link are very encouraging (some samples below):
We gotta dump these Government thugs in the Potomac. America Wake Up -- you have nothing to lose but your chains!  

It saddens me to know that there are people who are only mouthpieces for freedom. They talk, and they type, and they act big, but when it comes down to it, they bow to the will of those in Office.  
Struggle will NOT be easy, and it will not be safe, but freeing yourself from the bonds of slavery never are.  
Obamacare is a travesty 
Forced down our throats by his majesty. 
Lied to us from the very first day 
Just take a pain pill and go away.  
Liberals continue to lie to us  
And say Obamacare is a definite must.  
A ‘death panel’ does not truly exist 
Another LIE from this socialist. 
Another LIE we all can see 
That it will cost less for you and me. 
Prices have doubled and tripled for us 
Continued LIES from this socialist.

Plan To Split California Into Six States Moves Forward

Using Jon Stewart "liberal" logic, this plan is racist and pro-slavery!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Everything in life is simply a distraction to deflect our attention away from the truth about the human condition. Boredom exposes the reality, which is the utter pointlessness of life and the universe.

Obama Falls On The Totalitarian Side

 The tyranny has arrived.

And has its feet up on the table.

Wake the fuck up, Samuel!

Greenwald in The Intercept:

"One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.
Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

"I noticed a few people who seemed confused about why these kinds of tactics are used. It’s because there is a technologically enabled time-window for the fight between totalitarianism and constitutional democracy, and right now totalitarianism is making a large power play. Us hackers for far too long have relied upon the idea that we will always be one step ahead of the behemoth 3/4-letters of the world, because that’s how it was in the past. I would say this attitude is a mistake in the current situation. Even the most technologically capable of us are having a hard time going anon these days, with bios, mbr, and hdd firmware level backdoors and rootkits as revealed by some of the Snowden docs, the man is catching up."

Obama falls on the totalitarian side. In case you're confused.


The great ruse and false narrative he's managed to swindle people with is that Bush - who has been out of office for six years now - left such a mess it takes time to fix while positioning the President in a way such that he's impotent to make 'meaningful' decisions because Congress refuses to 'work with him.'  By this they mean, to agree with everything he says. When they challenge him it's 'obstructionism.'

Instead, what we're seeing is not only an American government unhinged but one that is leaderless and rudderless. It has no ideas as it runs clueless. 

Obama wants the freedom of the press muzzled and whisle-blowers punished. 

Remember this next time he insufferably babbles about freedom and transparency.


By The Commentator

Is Civil Disobedience Just a Transitionary Phase on Way to Freedom?

Renowned Historian Jon Stewart and The Great and Powerful Oz

I'm just going to repost something from the LCR blog, because I don't have time to waste on the idiot Stewart right now. Suffice it to say, Judge Napolitano is one of the greatest defenders of liberty in American media, opposing everything from the drug war, to the NSA spying on us, disgusting TSA humiliation of airline passengers, to the emerging American police state and militarization of "law" enforcement. To attack him IS to attack the real values of America and basic human rights. FUCK the poser Jon Stewart! He pretends to be on the side of you and me and against hypocrisy and ruling class evil, while all the while mocking freedom lovers and apologizing for the criminal regime in Washington, D.C.
Several emailers have written to inform me that Stewart did a small hit/smear job on Judge Napolitano on “The Daily Show” last night.  The “hit” was about how the Judge wrote in one of his publications that the U.S. probably could have ended slavery the same way that New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and all the other Northern states did, as well as the British empire, Spanish empire, the French, Danes, Dutch, Swedes, and others during the nineteenth century, namely, peacefully.  (See Jim Powell, Greatest Emancipations: How the West Ended Slavery; and Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and Race in New England, 1780-1860).   No, no, said Stewart and pals, 750,000 dead Americans , more than double that number maimed for life, and the total destruction of the voluntary union of the founders was the only way to go.  Southerners, six percent of whom owned slaves, “were willing to die to preserve slavery” announced the renowned historian Jon Stewart.  The Great Oz (er, I mean, The Great Abe) did what was necessary said the great historical sage and his cast of clowns.-Thomas DiLorenzo: Jon Stewart is Very, Very Afraid

Noam Chomsky discusses the slogan "Support Our Troops"

The point of public relations slogans like "support our troops" is that they don't mean anything. They mean as much as whether you support the people in Iowa. Of course there was an issue, the issue was "do you support our policy" but you don't want people to think about the issue, that's the whole point of good propaganda.

Mozart Was a Red - a play by Murray Rothbard

A one act play by Murray Rothbard based on his experience with Ayn Rand's "inner circle". This was put on by the Mises Institute for Rothbard's 60th birthday.-

Quote of the Day: Bad People

...many...have regard to anarchism: "Getting rid of government doesn't get rid of bad people. Peaceful people would mind their own business while violent aggressive people would organize and force their will on everyone else!"

To which I reply as usual: What you fear would happen under anarchism has already happened under government as we know it. The violent, aggressive people have organized and forced their will on everyone else, while also bamboozling their victims to think that this situation is a good deal. Such is precisely the nature of the government that exists virtually everywhere on earth, the sort of government that anarchists wish to eliminate.-Robert Higgs

Monday, February 24, 2014

Are There Any Good Arguments for the State?

Michael Huemer, author of The Problem of Political Authority, joins Tom to review the fallacies in common arguments for the state.

There is this question about the nature of political authority and political authority is a kind of hypothetical moral property that the state allegedly has which gives it a different moral status from all other agents. Political authority is supposed to explain why it's permissible for the state to do all kinds of things that are not permissible for any other agent. So if I have a charity that I want to collect money for, it's not considered permissible for me to collect it by force, I can't go out and extort people and threaten to imprison people if they don't contribute to my charity, even if it's a really good charity. But the state is allowed to do that.

beep beep beep, Beep Beep Beep, BEEP BEEP BEEP!

I went to Mom's for supper, which she fixes early, around 2pm or so, the other day. She was making spaghetti and meatballs. "This is gonna be the best spaghetti sauce I've ever made" she confidently crowed. Why it was gonna be the best was never completely explained, but it had something to do with the fresh garlic, onions and peppers she was adding, I think.

 She also had some "gourmet" meatballs she was going to use. They were raw but pre-made from the "fancy" market, not that "dump" down the street where the poor people shop.

She was also using whole wheat noodles, which, although I now prefer gluten-free pasta (pasta made from both corn and rice seems to me the most like wheat in taste and texture), I would have to go along with it, as I had failed to bring my own spaghetti noodles with me yet again.

As she prepared the meal, I waited patiently by reading a book and glancing at the television in the living room. Then a strange but somehow familiar burning smell reached my nostrils. As smoke began to fill the house I ran to the kitchen.

Mom has an electric smoothtop stove. There are no electric coils on the surface. This makes for easier cleanup, naturally, but also makes it possible for someone such as my mom to place another appliance atop  one of the stove burners with relative ease, as the stove top is as flat as a table.

I've seen her do this numerous times, mostly when she uses an electric skillet with a plastic bottom. She'll place it on the stove top along with whatever else she cooking on the stove, right over one of the burners, I guess so she'll have all the various parts of the dish she's making at hand as she works. Not that she doesn't have counter space, but most of it is is taken over by other small appliances or containers, all of which have a "red" theme going. She is currently missing a microwave, because she had to have a red colored one, and, not finding one at the local stores, ordered one by catalog, and though it was by some no-name manufacture, and only 900 watts, the important thing, I think you'll all agree, was that it was red! It stopped working within 6 months. Mom has yet to get a new one, and though I offered to buy her one, she went crazy at the suggestion, telling me not to dare get one because it wouldn't be red to match everything else in her kitchen.

The spot on the counter formerly taken up by the microwave is now occupied by a very large (red) toaster. It is where Mom should have had her electric skillet thing plugged it. This time she was cooking the meatballs in it. Only instead of the meatballs, the skillet itself was "cooking", burning and melting. As I got to the kitchen Mom had begun yelling. Now, when I first witnessed the mess that the stove top had become, I wasn't exactly sure what was going on. There was running, oozing red stuff all over. It could have been spaghetti sauce, but it was a little too standard red to be something edible. Then I identified that smell as burning plastic. Instead of turning on the skillet, Mom had turned on the burner below it. 

"What's going on?" I asked.

Mom was in quite a state. "I turned that on" (pointing to the knob for the burner) "not that" (pointing to the electric appliance sitting on the stove, in which the meatballs sat). As poisonous fumes surrounded us, she moved the electric thing to a back burner. That's when the smoke alarm went off.

The beeping seemed to get louder and louder. Choking on deadly smoke, I did as Mom instructed and began waving a placemat around the smoke detector. When that didn't stop it, I opened the back door for some more air. Mom stayed by the stove, seemingly immune to the toxic chemical cloud that now filled the kitchen and much of the rest of the house. Finally, the beeping stopped.

After a few minutes outside in the backyard, I decided to risk going back inside. The smoke had cleared enough for me to return to the living room and resume my lazy afternoon of watching Brady Bunch reruns and reading a stack of old Richie Rich comic books. 

Soon however that smell returned. As smoke once again filled the house I ran to the kitchen once again.

"Dammit to Hell!" Mom screamed.

She had done it again. Melting red plastic once again spread over the stove top.

"I don't understand it! I've never done that before!" she shouted.

Technically she was right. Except for that time she set the inside of the oven on fire, and that time I let myself in, saw smoke everywhere, ran to its source, saw a tea kettle that had run out of water burning on the stove, actual flames shooting up all around it, and found Mom in her bedroom, oblivious to it all as she watched television while laying on her stomach.

The smoke alarm was beeping again. Nothing seemed to stop it this time. I finally had to remove the battery to get it to shut up.

After the meatballs were done cooking, Mom took her red electric skillet and threw into the trash bin.

"I'm never using one of those again" she declared.

I took my food into the living room. Mom doesn't have a regular dining table, not one she'll let you use, anyway. The official dining room table is decorated with fancy place settings and she doesn't want anyone, especially me, messing it up.

Mom asked how I liked the food. I didn't mention the meatballs I had hidden under the couch after taking one bite. They were awful. Later, as I snuck them outside and into the trash, I swore to myself that I'd never eat those again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


Piers Morgan and CNN Plan End to His Prime-Time Show

The Tyrant Abraham Lincoln

Conservatism Is Not Libertarianism

US Representative Justin Amash (R-MI) is far from the first, and is unlikely to be the last, politician to equate libertarianism and conservatism (“Rep. Justin Amash: Conservative and libertarian ‘basically the same philosophy,’” by Jack Hunter, Rare, February 16).

But the comparison is not only just plain wrong: It benefits supporters of statism on both the putative “left” and “right” at the expense of liberty. It allows conservative politicians to pretend to be libertarians (pandering to, and often fooling, libertarian-leaning voters) and “progressive” politicians to falsely caricature libertarians as conservatives (so as to preemptively defeat libertarian ideas without having to actually engage them).

It’s not that conservative politicians can never be “libertarian-leaning,” as Amash himself arguably is (a rarity among conservatives, he actually DOES usually vote against big government instead of just talking the “smaller government” talk out of one side of his mouth while growing government as fast as he can with the other). It’s that any similarities between libertarianism and conservatism are contingent and coincidental, not essential.

The central tenet of libertarianism is liberty. While there’s considerable debate within the libertarian movement itself as to the nature and scope of the liberty to be protected, libertarians generally defend the freedom to do as one wills, provided one does not coercively infringe the freedom of others.
The central tenet of conservatism is conservation. Similarly, there’s considerable debate within the conservative movement as to WHAT must be “conserved” — Amash wants to “conserve” the long-dead “classical liberal principles” of America’s founders, which are nominally libertarian in many respects; some conservatives would repeal the New Deal and “conserve” Coolidgeism; most modern conservatives want to “save” the New Deal by putting it on a more reasonable fiscal footing, but would love to ditch the Great Society — but once again there’s no doubt about conservatism’s philosophical lodestar: “Protecting” society from radical change.

To explain the difference in terms of one issue, take same-sex marriage:

For  libertarians, the answer to “should a same-sex couple be permitted to marry?” is “it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg — end of discussion.” Libertarians have held this position ever since the issue first came to their attention.

Conservatives, on the other hand, are at odds with each other on it.

Amash, for example, tweeted last year that the “[r]eal threat to traditional marriage & religious liberty is government, not gay couples who love each other & want to spend lives together” — a libertarian answer, but also the answer one would expect from someone who wants to “conserve” a Madisonian/Jeffersonian view of government’s role.

Then there are conservatives (e.g. Jonah Goldberg) who now tentatively support, or have at least stopped actively opposing, same-sex marriage because they regard the fight as pretty much over. They’re coming around to “conserving” the emerging new status quo rather than the old one.

And of course there are conservatives who still want to “conserve” a past in which same-sex marriage was illegal. They’re afraid of the prospective effect of rapid and radical social change on existing institutions (and power/authority relations), and want to use the force of the state, in a very un-libertarian way, to stop and/or reverse that social change. This is the conservatism which, per William F. Buckley, Jr., “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

As an anarchist — a libertarian who takes the principle all the way and advocates the abolition of the state — I think that Amash wastes his libertarian pearls by casting them before congressional swine. On the other hand, I can’t really hold it against him and it’s nice to see someone speaking truth to power on Capitol Hill. I just wish he’d give up the silly notion that “conservatives” can ever be more than temporary allies of convenience.

Citations to this article:
No, Congressman Amash, Conservatism Is Not Libertarianism by Thomas L. Knapp

  Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst and Media Coordinator at the Center for a Stateless Society

  Republished under Creative Commons

Quote of the Day: Mark Twain - Life

"Life does not consist mainly -- or even largely -- of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one's head." - Mark Twain, Autobiography

Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Introduction to Evil

Pothole Vigilantism

But, but, without taxes and government, who would fill the potholes!

Bob Fitzgerald got so frustrated and fed up with potholes in his neighborhood, that he decided to fix them himself.

Using the creation and maintenance of roads to illustrate the importance of a central government is the easiest way to annoy many libertarians. Historically, of course, many roads have been built by private businesses. In the 19th century, for example, there were more than 80 such turnpikes built-in just the state of New Hampshire.

Additionally, many people are unaware of how frequently voluntary exchange gives rise to free services. When libertarian writer Tracey Zoeller decided to look for examples of private goods that were freely available to the public, he was able to find a free private street, park, and museum all minutes away from his home.

Read more at TLR: Who would build the roads? Frustrated man fills in potholes himself (VIDEO) | The Libertarian Republic Follow us: @LibRepublic on Twitter | LibertarianRepublic on Facebook

Where I live, the potholes are numerous, some going unrepaired for months or even years. There is even one that I have to dodge every morning on my way to work, as it sits right at the turn onto the on-ramp to the freeway I take. I have to make a very odd path to go around it, and if I forget one morning, well, you know what happens when you hit a pothole with one of your tires. Aren't government roads just grand?

Are Pessimists Hypocrites If They Don't Kill Themselves?

Some critics of the pessimist often think they have his back to the wall when they blithely jeer, “If this is how this fellow feels, he should either kill himself or be decried as a hypocrite.” That the pessimist should kill himself in order to live up to his ideas may be counterattacked as betraying such a crass intellect that it does not deserve a response. Yet it is not much of a chore to produce one. Simply because someone has reached the conclusion that the amount of suffering in this world is enough that anyone would be better off not having been born does not mean that by force of logic or sincerity he must kill himself. It only means he has concluded that the amount of suffering in this world is enough that anyone would be better off never having been born. Others may disagree on this point as it pleases them, but they must accept that if they believe themselves to have a stronger case than the pessimist, then they are mistaken.
Naturally, there are pessimists who do kill themselves, but nothing obliges them to kill themselves or live with the mark of the hypocrite on their brow.-Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
I'm currently reading The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by short story horror writer Thomas Ligotti (I say "short story" because that's the form he mostly writes in). Conspiracy is his only book-length work of non-fiction so far, and I highly recommend it, especially for those of you who are of a pessimistic frame of mind. But does being a pessimist (the correct view of the human condition in my opinion) and believing life is full of unwanted horrors and is harmful (thus leading to the position of "antinatalism", that is, being against bringing new humans into the world) require one to kill oneself in order to be consistent? Well, the answer is not only no, but hell no!

Obviously a pessimist who does commit suicide is not being inconsistent in any way either, for some may overcome the instinct of self-preservation and be so overwhelmed with sorrow, despair, depression or physical pain that they are driven to end their lives. But most of us, pessimists or "optimists", have interests that keep us alive,  and they are usually of sufficient worthiness for us to continue to live. One can even say that precisely because the pessimist sees the harm in life, he is against imposing that harm on others and so is against procreation, but is also aware that once someone is here, including himself,  continuing life may be the least harmful course of action.

If one of the things that makes life bad is our inevitable death, then our own death is bad as well, and the truly hypocritical position would be to end our life unless the things that make life not worthwhile become so strong as to overwhelm whatever worthwhile things we find in our life. And therefore we should not, under normal circumstances, kill ourselves, both for our own sake and for that of our loved ones, upon whom the suicide of someone they love and care about can be extremely devastating, making their lives much worse.

So, while we don't want to force life and its harms on someone else by having children, including the horrible harm of eventual death that every human must face, it may be that the least harm we can do to ourselves and others is to live. 

The Failure of Abenomics

There are two areas where Abenomics, the democratically elected economic religion of Japan, has succeeded: creating inflation without causing wages to rise, thus whittling down real incomes; and devaluing the yen by 25%, thus wiping out a quarter of the magnificent wealth of the Japanese without telling them directly. Grudging admiration is due Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for these accomplishments.-The Madness of Abenomics In One (Crazy) Chart
The failure is complete. The insane plan was to increase exports and decrease imports due to the devaluation of the Yen, but imports are up 25% in spite of the extra cost (creating Japan's worst trade deficit), while exports haven't risen at the rate they were supposed to.

Friday, February 21, 2014

1982 Delorean DMC-12 Start Up, Exhaust, and In Depth Review

Testing My Keyboard (spilled something on it)


Thank goodness it works, otherwise that woulda been my third keyboard in the last 6 months. 

I really should keep a supply of spare keyboards on hand though, just in case. 

Massive Gun Grabber Fail!

“Barack Obama is the stimulus package for the firearms industry,” said Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Mag, a print and online publication of the 2nd Amendment Foundation, a gun-ownership rights group. “The greatest irony of the Obama administration is that the one industry that he may not have really liked to see healthy has become the healthiest industry in the United States.”-Record U.S. Gun Production as Obama ‘Demonized’ on Issue

The Dumbocrat hatred of guns (in the hands of you and me, i.e., private individuals; the fascist Demorats have no problem with the agents of the state being massively armed: DHS Contracted to Purchase 704 Million Rounds of Ammo Over Next 4 Years: 2,500 Rounds Per Officer) has lead to the lesson that when they propagandize for "gun control" (people control and more power for the central state is what they're really after) law-abiding citizens are even more eager to buy guns for their protection and because it is their basic human right as well as a protected Constitutional right, and our benefactors the gun manufacturers (because when it comes right down to it that's what they are by providing us the means for self-defense against criminals and tyrants) end up doing better than ever.

Gold Even More Bullish Under Yellen Than Bernanke or Greenspan!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Bret Alan on the Penrose Triangle

This is my favorite shape. It's called a Penrose Triangle, and it's something known as an "impossible object." It can be drawn on paper, but it cannot be constructed in real life. I find this concept to be very interesting, as I find not only shapes which meet this criteria, but ideologies as well.-Bret Alan

The Penrose triangle, also known as the Penrose tribar, is an impossible object. It was first created by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd in 1934. The mathematician Roger Penrose independently devised and popularised it in the 1950s, describing it as "impossibility in its purest form". It is featured prominently in the works of artist M. C. Escher, whose earlier depictions of impossible objects partly inspired it.-Wikipedia: Penrose triangle

And, while you can't create an actual 3-D Penrose Triangle sculpture, you can create one which gives the optical illusion of one:

image by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen under Creative Commons

And for your information and entertainment, some links:

How to Draw an Impossible Triangle

Impossible Penrose Triangle: Now Possible With 3-D Printing? [Updated]

The trick of a Penrose triangle is that each joint appears to be connected at a right angle -- meaning that the bottom right edge of the triangle should connect above the left-most edge, but in fact looks like it is below. You can't realize that shape in 3-D without resorting to some sort of optical illusion.

The Abraham Lincoln Myth Serves The Purpose of the U.S. Regime

Judge Andrew Napolitano with Thomas DiLorenzo and Tom Woods!

The Lincoln myth serves the purposes of the regime, both Democrat and Republican. It serves the purposes of a regime in which power is completely centralized, in which decentralization is viewed as suspect and probably you want to bring back slavery they suggest, if you favor the states having any powers. It's Lincoln who inaugurates this new version of the United States, a version that's completely at odds with its Jeffersonian foundation.-Tom Woods

Venezuelan Protests: Another Attempt By U.S.-Backed Right-Wing Groups To Oust Elected Government?

Democracy Now speculates on U.S. backing of the opposition in Venezuela.

On Monday, Maduro ordered the expulsion of three U.S. consular officials while claiming the United States has sided with the opposition. Our guest, George Ciccariello-Maher, looks at the recent history of the U.S. role in Venezuela opposing both the Chávez and Maduro governments. He is author of "We Created Chávez: A People's History of the Venezuelan Revolution" and teaches political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia.-

How Frequently Does Someone Named Amelia Drink A Soda?

The frequency of various events, by xkcd:


The Truth About Slavery: Past, Present and Future

Murray N. Rothbard: Against the Minimum Wage

There is no clearer demonstration of the essential identity of the two political parties than their position on the minimum wage. The Democrats proposed to raise the legal minimum wage from $3.35 an hour, to which it had been raised by the Reagan administration during its allegedly free-market salad days in 1981. The Republican counter was to allow a “subminimum” wage for teenagers, who, as marginal workers, are the ones who are indeed hardest hit by any legal minimum.

This stand was quickly modified by the Republicans in Congress, who proceeded to argue for a teenage subminimum that would last only a piddling 90 days, after which the rate would rise to the higher Democratic minimum (of $4.55 an hour.) It was left, ironically enough, for Senator Edward Kennedy to point out the ludicrous economic effect of this proposal: to induce employers to hire teenagers and then fire them after 89 days, to rehire others the day after.

Finally, and characteristically, George Bush got the Republicans out of this hole by throwing in the towel altogether, and plumping for a Democratic plan, period. We were left with the Democrats forthrightly proposing a big increase in the minimum wage, and the Republicans, after a series of illogical waffles, finally going along with the program.

In truth, there is only one way to regard a minimum wage law: it is compulsory unemployment, period. The law says: it is illegal, and therefore criminal, for anyone to hire anyone else below the level of X dollars an hour. This means, plainly and simply, that a large number of free and voluntary wage contracts are now outlawed and hence that there will be a large amount of unemployment. Remember that the minimum wage law provides no jobs; it only outlaws them; and outlawed jobs are the inevitable result.

All demand curves are falling, and the demand for hiring labor is no exception. Hence, laws that prohibit employment at any wage that is relevant to the market (a minimum wage of 10 cents an hour would have little or no impact) must result in outlawing employment and hence causing unemployment.

If the minimum wage is, in short, raised from $3.35 to $4.55 an hour, the consequence is to disemploy, permanently, those who would have been hired at rates in between these two rates. Since the demand curve for any sort of labor (as for any factor of production) is set by the perceived marginal productivity of that labor, this means that the people who will be disemployed and devastated by this prohibition will be precisely the “marginal” (lowest wage) workers, e.g. blacks and teenagers, the very workers whom the advocates of the minimum wage are claiming to foster and protect.

The advocates of the minimum wage and its periodic boosting reply that all this is scare talk and that minimum wage rates do not and never have caused any unemployment. The proper riposte is to raise them one better; all right, if the minimum wage is such a wonderful anti-poverty measure, and can have no unemployment-raising effects, why are you such pikers? Why you are helping the working poor by such piddling amounts? Why stop at $4.55 an hour? Why not $10 an hour? $100? $1,000?

It is obvious that the minimum wage advocates do not pursue their own logic, because if they push it to such heights, virtually the entire labor force will be disemployed. In short, you can have as much unemployment as you want, simply by pushing the legally minimum wage high enough.

It is conventional among economists to be polite, to assume that economic fallacy is solely the result of intellectual error. But there are times when decorousness is seriously misleading, or, as Oscar Wilde once wrote, “when speaking one’s mind becomes more than a duty; it becomes a positive pleasure.” For if proponents of the higher minimum wage were simply wrongheaded people of good will, they would not stop at $3 or $4 an hour, but indeed would pursue their dimwit logic into the stratosphere.

The fact is that they have always been shrewd enough to stop their minimum wage demands at the point where only marginal workers are affected, and where there is no danger of disemploying, for example, white adult male workers with union seniority. When we see that the most ardent advocates of the minimum wage law have been the AFL-CIO, and that the concrete effect of the minimum wage laws has been to cripple the low-wage competition of the marginal workers as against higher-wage workers with union seniority, the true motivation of the agitation for the minimum wage becomes apparent.

This is only one of a large number of cases where a seemingly purblind persistence in economic fallacy only serves as a mask for special privilege at the expense of those who are supposedly to be “helped.”

In the current agitation, inflation – supposedly brought to a halt by the Reagan administration – has eroded the impact of the last minimum wage hike in 1981, reducing the real impact of the minimum wage by 23%. Partially as a result, the unemployment rate has fallen from 11% in 1982 to under six percent in 1988. Possibly chagrined by this drop, the AFL-CIO and its allies are pushing to rectify this condition, and to boost the minimum wage rate by 34%.

Once in a while, AFL-CIO economists and other knowledgeable liberals will drop their mask of economic fallacy and candidly admit that their actions will cause unemployment; they then proceed to justify themselves by claiming that it is more “dignified” for a worker to be on welfare than to work at a low wage. This of course, is the doctrine of many people on welfare themselves. It is truly a strange concept of “dignity” that has been fostered by the interlocking minimum wage-welfare system.

Unfortunately, this system does not give those numerous workers who still prefer to be producers rather than parasites the privilege of making their own free choice.

This is Chapter 34 in Rothbard’s Making Economic Sense.

Creative Commons

The Criterion Collection and How They Restore a Film

I've been buying DVDs since 2002, when I bought my first DVD player. My collection numbers in the thousands, though I mostly don't buy anymore, just get discs to watch through Netflix. But among the numerous films in my permanent collection are quite a few from the Criterion Collection. I have to admit I haven't graduated to Blu-ray yet, but that's because I still watch my DVDs on a 19 inch 2003 RCA.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Puppet-Master Monkey

In work inspired partly by the movie "Avatar," one monkey could control the body of another monkey using thought alone by connecting the brain of the puppet-master monkey to the spine of the other through a prosthesis, researchers say.-Brain Implant Lets One Monkey Control Another

Why Socialism?

The following blog post is by Frank Worley-Lopez, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party of Puerto Rico. I link to it partly because in his essay he links to a SE post (Socialism and Religion: the similarities that can't be denied)

Why, with so much evidence for the absolute and repeated failure of socialism, communism, and even European-style “socialism light,” which took Greece into virtual bankruptcy? Why, with a body count that is matched by none in the hands of Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Hitler? - Why Do People Continue to Believe in Socialism?

US, UK Spied On People Who Visited WikiLeaks

Family Firms in India and the New Competition

Stimulus Plan

Monday, February 17, 2014

A 'New Nation'? The Gettsyburg Address

Abraham Lincoln claimed that the American Revolutionaries in the 1770s brought forth a 'new nation' founded upon liberty and equality. Was he correct? This video examines the most famous and important part of the Gettysburg Address from a Southern nationalist perspective.-

The Illinois Machine Politician

This post has been sitting in draft since 2009. Don't ask me why I never published it. Perhaps I planned to work on it some more, who knows. Anyhow, I'm only doing so now because there have been a lot of hits for the following post that I just updated by replacing the video that was taken down with a new one: Judge Andrew Napolitano: Abraham Lincoln Was A Tyrant! So, I discovered it by accident while searching this blog for posts on Lincoln. If it hadn't had the label "Lincoln" attached to it, it would still be hidden and down some forgotten hole. Oh well, it's not much but it finally made it to the SE front page. Kinda gives you hope, doesn't it? See, anything is possible.

...the real Lincoln was no Great Statesman but a most ordinary, Illinois machine politician who had maneuvered himself into the White House where he fully intended to continue his machine politician’s ways.

A 'Lincoln Scholar' Comes Clean

There has been much about Obama's Lincoln obsession and talk (either explicit or implied) of Obama as some sort of "new Lincoln". The unquestioned assumption is that Lincoln was wonderful and our best president ever.

Marvel's 2006 book, Mr. Lincoln Goes to War, says this on the inside cover: "Marvel leads the reader inexorably to the conclusion that Lincoln not only missed opportunities to avoid war but actually fanned the flames — and often acted quite unconstitutionally in prosecuting the war once it had begun." This is obviously not how to win another "Lincoln Prize."

Abraham Lincoln The Treasonous TYRANT - Judge Napolitano

The American Way of Life Will Be Destroyed

A Little Off The Top?

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @

Rich People Love Caviar and Edible Gold, But Do Kids?

via Phils Phun

The smartest kid says, upon tasting "edible" gold, "That's not food".

At least these kids are more adventurous culinary-wise than when my sister was a kid. It was hard to get her to eat anything besides peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Jorge Luis Borges on Firing Line with Bill Buckley

Jorge Luis Borges Chats with William F. Buckley on Firing Line (1977)

The Monday Story: Chocolate Sky

My mother drinks coffee. I don't.  Never have, never will. I don't know how people manage to acquire a taste for it, but I sure didn't. Can they really like it? It's the caffeine I would guess, but then, some folks do drink decaf coffee. Still, I would guess it's the caffeine that gets most people to consume the stuff.  A need to wake up in the morning, a need to find the minimal energy to force oneself to face another dreary day at work. The caffeine must make it seem much easier than it is. Perhaps the godawful taste is even a virtue, another element of coffee's eye-opening character.

Though I have no statistics or official sounding sources to prove it, I would guess that the largest quantities of the dark liquid are ingested during the morning hours. That's when my mom drinks hers, always in the morning, only in the morning.  

My mother is in her late seventies now, and she hardly resembles the strong-looking, handsomely beautiful woman whose silvery back and white images of youth take up so much space on the walls of her lonely room. I wonder why she continues with the habit of coffee drinking. She has no where she has to go anymore, at least not anywhere she has to be early, except perhaps for an occasional doctor's appointment, and certainly no reason to get up at the crack of dawn. She could, if she wanted to, sleep in quite late.That's the way I would do it if it were me. I'd get up around noon, or possibly later on some days, and eat a nice lunch. the I'd shower or bathe and prepare for the rest of the day, which would mostly be a day of rest. I'd eat dinner at the normal hour (which would feel like a late lunch) and then, around midnight or so, in the midst of one of the late night talk shows, I'd make myself a sandwich and a tall glass of Ovaltine as a midnight snack.

Mother doesn't see it that way, however. Getting up late for her would only symbolize the fast approach of the unspeakable. Mom does not like to think or talk about death. In fact, I don't think she's made any kind of preparation for it at all.

I ask her about this but she refuses to answer.

"I need some rain boots," she says instead.

"For God's sake, why do you need rain boots?" I demand.

"For when it rains," she replies, her voice soft but full of purposeful jocularity.

"Be serious, Mom," I say.

"Oh, I am serious," she says, and of course she means it.

We go shopping for rain boots. 

The rain boot expedition takes up the entire day. I'm very tired at the end of it, as I pull the car into the driveway of the communal home where Mom lives. I look over at her and she seems quite happy. She even appears kind of exhilarated.

"Is there anything wrong, Mom?" I ask.

She clutches the box that contains her newly purchased footwear, tightly.

"Exactly the contrary," she says. "I'm preparing to avoid the fate of Mr. Josephson over there." She points to a slumped figure in a rocker on the porch of the house.  

"What do you mean? I say, a little concerned that she might be going slightly loopy.

"He's going to die someday," she replies, "and probably very soon."

"How old is he?"

"Oh, nearly 100 by now, says Mom as she exits the car and waves goodbye. 

"Why is that such a terrible fate?" I ask as she walks around to my side of the car.

The lines on her face maneuver into an expression of incredulous horror. 

"You don't think death is a bad thing? she says. I start to respond but she continues. "It's a horrible thought, having your body all drained of blood and filled up with embalming fluid by a stranger, and then enclosed in a box and put six feet under. I just don't intend to die!" She hurries away with her package and waves one more time at me. I wave back and drive off, more worried about her than I've been in a long time. And I wonder what rain boots have to do with achieving immortality.

My mother, in earlier decades, had had a different, though related, obsession. She had been constantly preoccupied with avoiding the visible signs of aging. "I just don't intend to get all wrinkled and old-looking," she would often say. I start to think, now, that this current idea of hers, the bizarre and wild notion that she can somehow escape the inevitable embrace of the grim reaper, is only an extension of her earlier cosmetic narcissism. Unable to hold back the forces that have slowly but surely untightened  her once smooth skin, covering her body with wrinkles and crinkles, creases and sags, she has retreated into a new and even more ridiculous fantasy.  

I ask myself whether or not I should contact a psychiatrist  on her behalf. But I leave that plan on the back burner and decide instead to simply wait, hoping she hasn't actually suffered some serious form of mental deterioration.

My phone rings at 5am. It's Mom.

"Hello, dear, aren't you up yet?"

I am extremely groggy, of course, since my usual wake-up time doesn't arrive for another two and a half hours.  

"No, Mom, I am not up," I answer, my voice betraying my irritation.

"Well," she says quietly, "you should be." She is slightly hurt, I think, by my harsh tone.

 "So what do you want at this hour?" I ask in a much friendlier manner as I glance with dismay at the digital read-out on my alarm clock.

"Just thought you'd enjoy seeing the sun rise for once," she says.

"Is anybody else up over there?"

"They all like to sleep in," she replies with disgust.

I decide at that moment that I will (in spite of my pre-dawn, semi-comatose condition)  attempt to persuade her that if she truly desires to imitate the ways of the young, she should stay up late and sleep past noon.

She'll have none of it, naturally. She changes the subject again and starts talking about the color of the sky.

"Have you ever noticed," she asks me, (though actually I wonder how aware she even is  of my presense at the other end of the phone) "the way the sky sometimes takes on the hue of something it's not supposed to? I mean, things the weatherman never tells you about? For instance, late at night the sky often resembles a cup of cocoa, and the clouds are like those little marshmallows that  float on the surface."

"I've never noticed that," I reply, not knowing what else to say and keeping to myself my curiosity as to the last time she saw an ophthalmologist.

"Well, it does," she continues, 'but you've got to look just at the moment you begin drinking your cocoa, or you'll miss it."

She pauses for a moment and I notice her quite breathing. i imagine her, in the few seconds we are both silent, sitting with the phone in her hand, absentmindedly concentrating on private thoughts that have nothing whatsoever to do with me.

"Why did you really buy those rain boots?" I ask suddenly, not really knowing the purpose of my inquiry.

She is startled out of her reverie and answers slowly. "For when it rains, obviously."

"It doesn't rain all that much here," I reply. "And when it does, you never like to go out in it anyway."

"Because I never had rain boots," she says.

It's a good answer, and an obvious one, but it somehow doesn't ring true. Mother never could stand a rainy day. She has always been a sunshine person, both literally and metaphorically.  In all things she has sought the light over the dark; the pleasurable over the painful. Even when she had to choose illusion over reality to spare herself any unpleasantness, she did so willingly and at the drop of a hat.

No, even with the world's most fantastically water-proofed boots snug on her feet, she would never venture forth from her abode on a day cursed with inclement weather.  

I refuse to accept her feeble explanation.

"No really, Mom," I say, quite insistently, "what's the real reason for the rain boots." I expect to receive the same response as before, but she surprises me. 

"I've been doing a lot of studying," she begins. I think it a funny thing for her to say. She has never in my memory expressed any fondness for books.

"Lots of religious books," she continues, "and some stuff on prophecy and the end of the world."

Oh no! It is worse than I thought. She's fallen off the deep end and become some kind of crazy, apocalyptic fundamentalist.

"And do you know that Jesus said it would be just like the days of Noah at the second coming?" Coming  from my mother's mouth the question - or was it a statement - sounds more incomprehensible than the most blatantly ridiculous non sequitur. I have never in my entire life heard her express anything resembling a religious opinion.

My frustration rises rapidly to the surface and I blurt out the first words that pop into my head.

"What has that to do with anything?" I am yelling and I tell her I'm sorry for rasing my voice.

"That's okay, dear," says Mom. "As for the rain boots, if it's going to be like Noah and the ark, I'm going to need the proper gear."

This statement is the straw that breaks the camel's back. But I'm too tired at the moment to continue the conversation. I say goodbye and go back to sleep.

I don't hear from my mother again for the next 24 hours. During that period I have once again seriously contemplated arranging psychological counseling for her. She may, of course,object to the idea and refuse the help, but I figure it's my obligation as her only child to at least make the attempt.

I am awakened at 5:47am (or at least so says my digital clock) and once again dear old loony Mom has disturbed my sweet, untroubled dreams.  

"Hello, honey," she greets me, her voice pouring out copious amounts of unnecessary cheer.

"Good morning," I barely manage to say.

"I don't have much time to talk," she says. "It's a chocolate sky today and it's my time to go."

"Yeah, sure," I reply, not paying much attention to her words.

"Take care of yourself and remember I do love you." With that she hangs up. I'm left wondering exactly what her mystifying words mean, and if I recall correctly, I thought she had said cocoa skys occurred at night, unless chocolate was a morning variation,  but before I have a chance to dwell on it I roll over and return to the domain of the sandman.

Less than two hours later it's the phone again and I consider just letting it go and not answering.

I pick up the receiver.

"Mom, please, not again."

"Is your mother Mrs. Stone?" It is a strange voice asking this question.

"Who is this?"

"My name is Mary. I come in to prepare the meals at the house where your mother lives," says the voice. It belongs to a sweet sounding, fairly young female.


"So," says the young woman, "I think you should come over right away."

There are several police cars and a fire truck in front of the house when I arrive. i naturally assume the worst and my heart begins pounding out of control.

As I enter through the front door I see a police officer talking to a young woman and then someone being carried out on a stretcher by two paramedics. My racing heart leaps into my throat for a nano-second until I realize it's not my mother on the stretcher but an old man. He looks like that Mr. Josephson Mom had said was about a hundred years old. I make my way through the house and follw the sound of confused and cacophonous voices out to the backyard.

It's total chaos when I finally make it out there, pushing my way through a strange  throng of old and young. I see more police officers and a circle of people with their heads tilted upward toward the sky. I look where they're looking and - And the shock almost gives me a heart attack.

Mom is floating about 30 feet off the ground, apparently suspended on nothing but air. This is not possible of course, and I begin searching with my eyes for the invisible wire that holds her up.      

"Mom!" I shout up to her. People turn their heads in my direction. I pay no attention to their staring because the surrealness  of the situation removes any embarrassment I might otherwise feel.

"Hello!" Mom yells down to me, waving both her arms.

"What's happening?" I shout back. "What the heck are you doing up there and how did you get up there in the first place?"

"Mind power!" Mom explains enthusiastically, as eyes drift away from me and back to her curiously levitating body. "I concentrated and concentrated just like the book said and it worked." Her face now takes on a severe expression of discouragement as she continues. "But then that busybody Mr. Josephson had to spot me and scream and keel over and I've been stuck ever since."

"Well," I say, taking this all as if it is not the dream it seems to be, "can't you come back down?"

"I'm ascending into Heaven," she responds, "just like Jesus and the Virgin Mary and Elijah. At least I think it was Elijah. You know, the Old Testament."

I decide I'm going to try and use some logic on her, though arguments of reason have never worked on her in the past.

"Perhaps," I say, using my best calm and coaxing voice, "ascension into Heaven is only for saints. After all, Jesus and the others weren't average Joes."

"Oh no," Mom replies, "that's positively not true. Bodily ascension is for everyone who wants it enough."   

I now notice the rain boots. She is wearing them and their presence on her feet makes an odd sight even odder. I begin to think that she has absorbed a weird amalgam of unrelated mystical and supernatural beliefs from whatever fringe literature she's been perusing. The rain boots are a symbol, I guess, of the Second Coming, and as that thought enters my consciousness I'm reminded of a preacher on the radio I once heard her listening to. He had made a comment about those who ridicule the idea that we're living in the last days. "But each of us lives in our own 'last days'," he'd said. "And when death strikes us, it's as if it were the second coming for us personally, for at death we are in the presence of the Lord."

Of course, my mom has made clear she wishes not to die. Therefore the bodily ascension business. But none of it makes much sense. The chocolate sky, for example, that she mentioned on the phone. How does that fit in? Nevertheless, here she is, suspended far above me, hanging on the wind. And here I am, an unwilling partner in her public display of religious confusion run amok. There must be some reality to our dreams after all.  

But I realize it's my duty to bring her down, back to earth, to the solidness of the ground, where she safely belongs. I decide I will take a different route and try a scientific argument.

"It will do you no good," I tell my mother as she floats over my head, "to keep on going higher into the sky. Eventually you'll reach outer space and there is no oxygen out there, so how will you breathe?" I notice she seems to be thinking about this, puzzling over it , which I take as a good sign. Maybe I can get through to her. This optimism on my part leads me to press my line of reasoning further and embellish my case against shooting into orbit.

"And suppose you did reach space," I say, "where would you be? Orbiting the moon? Dodging communications satellites and space debris?  Watching over your shoulder for meteoroids?" I pause for a response, don't get one, and continue. "Not to mention the fact that Heaven isn't even 'up there'."

This last statement of mine elicits a negative reaction from a few in the crowd, as if I have just uttered a blasphemy. They have the completely wrong impression, since I'm simply trying to point out to my mother that "heaven" must be in another dimension and therefore unreachable in so direct a physical fashion as she is attempting.

"What exists in space?" I ask rhetorically. "Stars, dust, planets, asteroids. Heaven,  wherever it is, just ain't out there, Mom."

I think I can detect just a tiny snicker above me. Then Mom says: "You had asteroids, once, remember how you complained? Did you ever go to that doctor I told you about?"

Now there are snickers from the crowd.

"Mom, no jokes, please!"

"Maybe Heaven is on one of the other planets," she says, her voice now a mixture of hope and uncertainty.

"No, Mom," I say the two short words slowly, wearily. I beg, in silent prayer, for help from whatever higher powers exist. Bring my mom down. 

"I still wonder," Mom answers. "I mean, it has been done before. Maybe a miracle takes place and you're beamed direct to heaven just before you get to space."

I shake (and nearly rattle and roll, as well) my head. One of the police officers is motioning to someone and I watch as several firefighters in full regalia carry one of those big round "jump nets" they sometimes use to rescue people at fire scenes and various other high situations. I had been told by my friend Gus the retired fireman that they no longer used those things, but I guess this fire department does. They are probably volunteers or something.  In any event, its presence is much less strange than my floating parent.They bring over the net and hold it right under Mom.

"What's that for?" she yells down to them.

"To keep you from gettin' killed! one of them screams back.

"Fiddlesticks," says Mom, clearly irritated at the explanation and the implied aspersions being cast on her paranormal abilities. "I can float down very slowly and land as softly as a feather." And she demonstartes.

Back on the ground there is a great deal of commotion as the mob gathered in the small backyard encircles my mother. Some are asking her for autographs and she demands a pen. She is enjoying the attention. But the police begin shooing people away and Mom is pulled off into a corner and questioned.

"So," I ask her later in her room, "what did the cops say?"

"They wanted to know how I did it and I told them and they didn't believe me."  

"I'm not so sure I believe you either," I say as I rummage through a precariously balanced stack of books, magazines and pamphlets that sit by her bedside. 

"That's all very important reading material," she tell me. "Not everyday stuff like you find at the local bookstore. I had to order nearly all of it by mail."

"Kook literature," I reply dismissively.

"It got me into the air, didn't it?" she answers indignantly.

I look up at her and smile.  

"You've got a point there, Mom" Then she smiles back at me.

"'Bout time you started listening to me," she says.

She gets up and walks over to the mirror on her wall. She is looking intently at her image reflected back at her.

"You know, if I can't go straight to Heaven without bypassing death, maybe at least I can hold it off for a while, and do something about this old skin of mine at the same time. Now, make yourself useful and get busy and see if you can find anything in that stack about Ponce de Leon and the fountain of youth."

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