Monday, August 29, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Interesting Experiment

Above is pictured a quarter dollar minted in 1950. It consisted of 90% silver and 10% copper. If you carried a paper dollar (silver certificate) to any US bank in that year you could exchange it for four of these quarters. Also in 1950 this writer with one dollar purchased 4.9 gallons of gasoline i.e. just under 20 cents per gallon for his first automobile, a 1936 Ford 5 window coupe.

Beginning in 1965 the US mint discontinued issuing quarters containing silver and substituted other base metals. Coincidentally, paper dollars although closely resembling the earlier silver certificates, miraculously morphed into what all US paper currency is today: “Federal Reserve Notes” i.e. 1 a :  a written promise to pay a debt;

On Friday last, 19 August 2011 that 1950 quarter was nominally worth $7.76. What seems to be transpiring here can only be categorized as theft and deception. Our coinage has been debased by the government mint to the status of trolly tokens and our fiat paper currency is produced by printing presses and computer keystrokes backed by nothing but promises by a “private” central bank called the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile legal tender laws enacted by avaricious politicians force us to accept these bits of junk and wood pulp under penalty of imprisonment.

Meanwhile, the media is wall to wall “election” coverage of an event 15 months in the future. Dr Ron Paul who is virtually ignored is the only presidential candidate mentioning this problem and when even discussed is dismissed as a “crackpot”.

Sign at Ashland, Oregon Gas station May 2011

We are in deep trouble.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Murphy's Law: What to expect from a government bureaucracy

The saga continues.

Last week we completed Mrs. Leonidas' application for renewal of her expired "permanent" resident card. The forms were meticulously completed with every electronic field filled in and the fee electronically submitted.

Yesterday we received email confirmation that the application had been received by the appropriate bureaucracy with a PDF document completed by the concerned bureaucrat to be proofread. Sure enough, in the field labeled "middle name" where we had carefully inserted NONE due to Mrs Leonidas having none, the bureaucrat had entered the initial "N".

These documents need to be letter perfect in order to avoid rejection or even prosecution for violating an obscure and arcane regulation. We followed the directions for correcting the document; which is telephoning the number of a government office and finally, after 12 minutes on hold and listening to instructions in Spanish after pressing 1 for English a sentient semiliterate humanoid answered the phone.

The ensuing conversation was quite bizarre due to the bureaucrat having only a rudimentary command of the English language. Many common words had to be spelled out phonetically for him. God willing the process will proceed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Moral Blame Game of WW II

Yesterday, 14 August was the 66th anniversary of official notification to US citizenry that the Imperial Japanese government had agreed to a nearly unconditional surrender. This action ended WW II hostilities which had really commenced in 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria.

Much ink and many electronic bytes have been spilt supporting this or that motivation for the Japanese decision to capitulate. Most of what this writer has read, especially by leftist and libertarian "pundits" hastens to assign moral culpability to US political leadership for the employment of weapons of "mass destruction" against "innocent civilians". Those who subscribe to that position offer compelling and cogent arguments against the impersonal raining down  from high altitude horrific and indiscriminate death on young and old members  of a belligerent nation's population.

By accident of birth this writer not only has living memory but reached the so called age of reason during the most destructive war of written history. He therefore can recall having participated in not only such activities as air raid alerts and buying war bonds and stamps but collecting scrap material for the "war effort". It did not evolve in the US that the cottage, backyard industry of machining and assembling military weaponry occurred as was common throughout Japanese society in 1944 45. Had such been the situation, can any of the morally righteous essayists of recent history on that basis be excused from condemning a Japanese policy of not only launching jet-stream driven incendiary balloons on the US Northwest but the shelling from submarines of the US coastal areas of California?

Overwhelming evidence supports the position that the antagonists in the Pacific theater of operations during the war of 1941 45 represented vastly different cultural philosophies. The actions and policies of Japan's military during its conquests and occupation of parts of China 1937 1945 as well as Southeast Asia and the Philippines are compelling evidence of a society whose civilian culture spawned an absence of regard for humanitarian values. During the period December 1937 and February 1938  hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000–80,000 women were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.  "The stark differences in reported death rates for U.S. soldiers and civilians in German vs. Japanese camps dramatize the nature of the experience of Japan's camps for POWs and internees. Dr. Stenger's figures  list 93,941 U.S. military personnel captured and interned by Germany, of whom 1,121 died (a little over a 1% death rate), and 27,465 U.S. military personnel captured and interned by Japan, of whom 11,107 died (more than a 40% death rate)"

In view of these facts, can any scholar logically assert that were the fortunes of WW II reversed, the imperial Japanese war machine would have hesitated to visit a nuclear holocaust on San Francisco or Seattle? I would therefore advise those who have hastily assigned moral culpability for the unfortunate Japanese casualties of late 1945 to president Truman to rethink their condemnation.

We can all agree that war in all of its manifestations is man's most horrendous evil. However, as Plato observed concerning human nature: "Only the dead have seen the end of war". 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Heads We Win; Tails Y'all Lose

As we witness the ongoing economic and financial collapse of our formerly cozy and apparently secure existence there is occasionally here and there an example of ironic levity usually generated by our ruling elite. As one example, we learn that during the recent London "riots" as British subjects have been effectively disarmed by Her Majesty's constabulary, shopkeepers and local residents have had occasion to resort to the employment of sporting equipment in an effort to defend their lives and property.  As a result, a brisk (6000% increase on Amazon UK) trade in baseball bats has emerged with the aluminum variety selling for USD $28.00.

The Turkish shopkeepers observed by the police wielding these implements have been advised that it is allowable to utilize them inside their shops defensively but are subject to arrest if caught threatening a "youth" outside preparing to launch a brick or molotov cocktail. You can't make this stuff up.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond our very own Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) which falls under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security, on its web site and in various pamphlets  advises us to be prepared for all variety of emergent situations by assembling "kits" containing useful items such as: food, water, waterproof matches, flashlights with spare batteries etc. As ATMs and cash registers are likely to be inoperative due to the crashing of the power grid, cash and coins should be available for emergency purchases. Additionally Ms Napolitano's Department alleges that "...lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States." Ignore those jihadists enrolling in flight training classes skipping the instructions on landing and takeoff.

On the other hand, the FBI's Bureau of Justice [sic] Assistance has recently disseminated a briefing for the proprietors of military surplus businesses and gun stores to be on the lookout for persons making bulk purchases of among other items: weatherproofed ammo cans, match containers meals ready to eat, night vision devices, night flashlights etc.  The surplus store operators are urged to: "require valid ID from all new customers, keep records of purchases and make note of suspicious statements, people and vehicles." Particularly suspicious are customers insisting using cash for their purchases.

It seems that if one follows the advice of one department of our rulers' bureaucracy he runs the risk of being scrutinized by another as a possible "terrorist".

As our descent into the abyss continues, we would be well advised to maintain a sense of humor.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Travelogue: Stranger in a Strange Land

This humble blogster has recently received emails from concerned readers querying as to the cause of the recent dearth of postings. The reason often assumed for such nonfeasance during the dog days of Summer is "vacationing" and in a strict sense that may be the case.

Recently Leonidas was virtually dragged "kicking and screaming" through the gauntlet which commercial air travel has become on a visit to Mrs. Leonidas' family and friends in Sweden. Understand, dear reader, that Leonidas has command of two languages and neither one of them is Swedish. Fortunately, many (but not all) swedish people are reasonably conversant in English. For that reason and the good offices of Mrs. Leonidas, the sojourn escaped being categorized as "the trip to hell".

The situation however rapidly deteriorated at the Stockholm airport upon preparing to return home. Unfortunately, Mrs. Leonidas' ten year "permanent resident" card had expired during the trip and she was denied boarding for the flight home. Until recently, such an unhappy event would not have resulted in a denial of entry but under new unpublished "Homeland Security" (yes those are sneer quotes) regulations she needed to obtain a "Letter of Transport" from the US embassy in Stockholm. Such a document requires: 1) completing a 5 page I-90 form, 2) submitting 3 passport photos, 3) Being interviewed (by appointment only) by a US Consular officer.

I would advise anyone against attempting to reach a US government office either here or especially overseas by telephone. The likelihood of communicating with a live and sentient human being has about the same probability as completing the beautification process of the Roman Catholic Church. In the event, the appropriate consular officer conducts such "business" between the hours of 1:30 PM and 3:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays ONLY and the federal government exacts a fee of US $165.00 for the service.

Having gone unnoticed due to Mrs. Leonidas state drivers license being renewed at the same time as your hapless correspondent's for five years in 2009, hers was issued to expire on the same date as her "permanent" resident permit. Voilá, no longer any valid identification papers for Mrs Leonidas except a Swedish passport. To quote the gestapo agent addressing the unfortunate Norwegian civilian in 1944 Oslo: "Your papers are NOT in order!"

Upon returning home two weeks later, the Customs and Immigration agent at the Chicago airport advises Mrs Leonidas to submit a completed I-90 form (accompanied by a $450.00 fee) to the immigration office in Atlanta to apply for a ten year renewal for her expired "permanent" resident card.

Upon traveling the 90 mile round trip to the Atlanta immigration office we are advised that "paperwork is NOT accepted here". According to recently implemented "regulations" it is required to submit all forms electronically with applicable fees and await an interview and biometric sample appointment which will take "up to 3 months". If approved after that process, Mrs Leonidas will be mailed about 3 months later a renewed 10 year "permanent" residence card.

With all these requirements having being met and awaiting probably for the next six months of federal bureaucratic actions, we proceed to the local (32 miles distant) DMV office to renew the expired drivers license. After standing in line for 2 hours and filling out the multi page renewal form and passing the required exam Mrs Leonidas is advised her license CANNOT be renewed until she receives her "permanent" residence card containing an EXPIRATION date!

To quote the Curmudgeon Emeritus in a recent post: "Social harmony must rest on two supports: individual inhibition against lawbreaking, and an overwhelming preponderance of force on the side of social order...."

This aging blogster who has living memory of a much freer and harmonious society prior to the publication of a billion or so pages of the Federal Register hastens to raise the following rhetorical question: where do I sign up for the revolution?