atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2830: What did I say about the debt ceiling nonsense?

That it was whitewashing the fence around a burning house, that's right.

There are NO real cuts. Merely reductions in the rate of growth. A "Washington, D.C. cut".

Here's how it works: The government plans on raising spending by a certain amount each year. It varies, but it's usually in the range of 10-12%. (Yes, regardless of what they say inflation is.)

Now, come crunch time when the people are angry at out-of-control government spending, or just whenever the politicians need to look like they give a rip about the deficit, they will reduce that figure--2%, 3%, 5%--and say, "Look at that! We've cut spending! We cut it by a whopping X%!"

...and the budget gets bigger every year. Regardless of who's in control.

I said, in that prior entry, that the government budget has never--or almost never--failed to grow year-on-year. (Possible exceptions: the end of WW2, and, uh....) Not even when the GOP held both houses of Congress and the White House.

This is the Republican plan, and it includes $800 billion in tax increases, and no real spending cuts.

So you see, here's what the "debt ceiling" debate is really about: how much to raise taxes. GOP offered $800 billion and the Democrats want $1,200 billion. Yeah.

In the middle of a recession.

...keep it up, GOP, and you'll have me voting libertarian next year.

"But!" You say. "If you vote for a liberatarian, Obama will win again!"


I don't see any functional difference between Republicans and Democrats. Certainly the GOP is not standing up for anything remotely resembling fiscal discipline, low taxes, small government, or basic economic freedom, not when they're planning to increase spending and raise taxes when we're already spending three million dollars a minute we don't have.

I'd rather vote for a libertarian who represents my views, and have Democrats running things, than voting one more time for a lying sack of shit who says he's going to do something about out-of-control spending...who then votes to raise taxes and spending. Christ! At least the Democrat is honest about being in favor of tax-and-spend policies; the Republican is just a lying sack of shit!

* * *

I had seen references to this story but hadn't read the stories mainly because I was concentrating on other things.

Short form: cops shoot an unarmed man to death, and the security footage captures the entire altercation except for the six seconds around the actual shooting itself.

Not mentioned: the cops' probable cause for searching someone who is not obviously committing a crime. Also not mentioned: why the officer felt deadly force was warranted.

Okay: three pounds of beer in cans is a pretty hefty bludgeon, true. But aluminum cans will rupture and plastic grocery bags won't stand a lot of force before they tear; somehow I doubt that cop's life was in danger, certainly not enough danger to warrant shooting anyone.

The victim's mistake was fighting back. If he hadn't swung his stuff at the cop's head, he'd still be alive and could have filed a whole bunch of lawsuits against those cops for all kinds of civil rights violations.

I'm pro-law, but letting cops get away with shooting people whenever they feel a little threatened is a bad idea. Having a particular law enforcement agency rule on the legality of its own officers' actions is a clear conflict of interest; there needs to be some kind of civilian agency overseeing the police. (Requirement for membership: never been a cop, has no connections with any police department anywhere.)

I don't know what else to do. This problem is an age-old one, so old that we use a quote in Latin to encapsulate it...and it was an old problem when Caesar was cutting his first baby teeth. (What language did the Romans say it in? Greek? Probably.) A citizen oversight board is fraught with all the usual perils of politics, but the police are clearly out of control and something's got to be done to rein them in.

* * *

We're already screwed is the gist of this Instapundit post.

The markets want to see some real action from our government on dealing with our spending-and-debt problem. The "real action" that would be best would be, of course, cuts--real cuts--in expenditures, because taxes are bearing against the Laffer limit; taxation has worn through the thrust washer and is starting to wear grooves into the gear housing.

* * *

Monty at Ace of Spades begins a "Sunday Book Thread"</a> with a discussion of what happened to Borders:
Book megastore Borders closed up shop this week. It didn't break my heart -- Borders stores (which included the old Waldenbooks chain) were rarely a pleasure to shop in. Their stock was limited; their employees were usually surly, disconnected, and had little knowledge of the books they sold; and their stores were often cluttered and grubby.
I haven't made a secret of what I thought of their customer service, but my complaints were mainly in the "customer service" department.

Like the time I had to wait for a cashier due to one of their idiotic policies.

There is a reason they went under. You can talk all you want about Amazon, the Internet, and all that; I won't deny it's a factor--but it's not the only reason. You can make a great case for the existence of your bookstore if you remember customer service brings people back. You screw that up and you won't be in business long, particularly not in an economic slump.

One of their biggest problems was selection. The gondolas weren't chin-high on me; one more shelf on each gondola would have added an incredible amount of room for more titles. Two extra shelves would have been better.

They devoted too much shelf space to bullshit like "african-american studies" and "GBLT" and other hippie-fascist crap. This is a bookstore meant to earn a profit; there should be no room for whole sections of stuff that will generate a minor volume of sales at best. (Of course, if they don't devote all too much space to those things, they'll get sued for "discrimination". The answer to that should always be, "We'll order any book you can find an ISBN for, but we're not going to waste shelf space on stocking stuff that only appeals to 2% of the population." It helps to have market research data to back that up.)

* * *

For those who possess the memory of fungus,..." Yeah, we have heat waves all the time. It's not "global warming". It's called summer.

And my memory isn't that bad, damn it!

* * *

Having a gander at the video at this link, prefaced thus, "beat novelist and poet Jack Kerouac declares himself a lifelong Republican and chews out a hippy," I looked at the linup and thought, ironically, "Gee, I wonder which one's the hippy?"

It's not that damn hard to figure out. Even the "beat poet" is wearing a suit and tie to be on television; the hippy is wearing a frilly shirt and it looks like he washed his hair that week, but he still looks like an unmitigated crudbucket next to the rest of them.

Damn dirty hippies.

* * *

The answer is I DID IT.

In 1997, after I moved to Iowa, I got involved in the D&D group that I ended up staying with until after I moved back to Illinois.

The first campaign I was part of was referred to as "Dragon Company", and it was set around the activities of a group of mercenaries belonging to some-or-other fighting legion. We were Dragon Company, you see.

My character was a dwarf named Thorgrimm Stonebender. Thorgrimm had an uncle named Angus Stonebender who was well known (at least in Thorgrimm's home, the Mithril Throne, to which he was heir apparent) as a legendary undead hunter.

Thorgrimm spent many years under his uncle's tutelage, becoming strong and wise (he was a fighter-priest) in the ways of combatting the highlands of the country of Shiran, before he came to the port city of Highwall, where most of the campaign was set.

Angus Stonebender--my invention--was the first dwarf that any of us had ever heard of who had a scots accent. "A dwarf with a scottish accent?" The DM asked incredulously. My friend said, "Sure! We could say he's spent tons of time in Shiran!" (The game world was big, well-established, and well-mapped. They'd already been playing in that world for a very long time. Shiran was, as you may have gathered by now, an analog of Scotland.)

Angus was inspired by a character from Angels and Demons by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman. There was a guy in the book--Shadwell the witchfinder--who derided anyone from "the south" (where "the south" was anywhere south of him) and spoke with a weird accent.

There's a scene near the end where Shadwell is riding a motor scooter behind some other character, and this guy mistakes him for a ventriloquist's dummy. After the driver gets directions, Shadwell says, "Ye great southern pillock!"

...and even now I'm laughing out loud at it; that's how funny I found that line. I laughed and laughed uproariously when I first read it. In my mind it rendered as "Ye grrehht soothern pillock!" with the r being rolled and everything.

And so Angus Stonebender the Undead Slayer was born; originally he was a regular old scotsman who sought out and destroyed all examples of evil supernaturals. With my frient Scott's help, Angus got fleshed out with battle techniques and a sidekick named "Lackey". (Lackey was several different people. Angus' methods tended to use up sidekicks.)

When the "Dragon Company" campaign was being set up, and I had been officially invited to play in it, Scott wanted me to play Angus. I demurred, citing the fact there was no way to do Angus correctly in D&D, not as a player character at any rate. But the idea was too good, so I ended up generating Angus' nephew instead. And he had to be a dwarf because I play dwarves very well, which led the DM to request that I play a dwarf. (That is a whole 'nother story in itself.) And the character concept didn't work unless Angus had the scots accent.

So: 1997, dwarves with scots accents. As far as I know, no one did it before me.

* * *

Okay, while we're at it:

In 1994, I was playing an NPC with the same group. I'd gone to Iowa to visit Scott, and had gone with him to the game on Sunday afternoon; the DM always had a few NPCs and could slot in an extra player once in a while.

I was playing, in this session one Torgil "Rock" Grimm. The miniature picked to depict this NPC was a heavily armored dwarf carrying a spike mace as long as he was tall. I mean, this miniature ought to be in the RPG dictionary next to the definition of "tank".

The details escape me, but near the end of the session there was a scene where a helpless NPC was captured by bad guys and dragged into a closet. When the players opened the door, nothing was there.

Knowing that this meant there was a secret door in the closet, I announced, "All right! I run into the closet, swinging my mace!"

The DM had to stop running the game for a few moments to laugh; then he said not entirely without irony, "To your surprise, you find a secret door in the closet." That gigantic mace utterly smashed the secret door, of course.

This method became known as "dwarven secret door detection", and it guaranteed me a seat at that table whenever I happened to be in the neighborhood.

* * *

This is my claim to fame, and I'm sticking to it.

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