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I, Pencil

“I, PENCIL”

by Leonard E. Read, Founder, Foundation for Economic Education

Nearly 10 years ago Imprimis featured a reprint of a 1958 essay called simply: “I, Pencil.” We continue to believe that it is one of the finest defenses of the free market ever written and have reprinted it again here.

It is an essay that invites wonder. Wonder at the countless bits of human knowledge and raw materials spontaneously organized by our global market economy in the making of an ordinary wooden pencil.

Wonder at what one individual can achieve for millions of his fellow men through a lifetime of dedication to principle. And wonder, most of all, at the everyday miracles made possible by a political and economic system that dares to have faith in free men.


 

I am a lead pencil-the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. (My official name is Mongol 482.” My many ingredients are assembled, fabricated and finished by Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania)

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation: that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery-more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, as a wise man, G. K. Chesterton, observed, “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.”

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me – no, that’s too much to ask of anyone – if you can become aware of the miraculousness that I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because-well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when you realize that there are about one and onehalf billion of my kind produced in the U.S. each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye – there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Innumerable Antecedents

Just as you cannot trace your family back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and road engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln-dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty not, a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln-dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other Things a mill requires? Are sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and also included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydro-plant which supplies the mill’s power. And don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation from California to Wilkes-Barre.

Complicated Machinery

Once in the pencil factory – $4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine-each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop – a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this “wood- clinched” sandwich.

My “lead” itself – it contains no lead at all – is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider the miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth – and the harbor pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow-animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions – as from a sausage grinder – cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candililla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all of the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involves the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labeling. That’s a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?

My bit of metal – the ferrule – is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass front these products of nature. Those black rinks on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there’s my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as “the plug,” the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called “factice” is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives “the plug” its color is cadmium sulfide.

Vast Web of Know How

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far-off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field-paraffin being a byproduct of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor anyone who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks or the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

No Human Master-Mind

There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master-mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions that bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead we find the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith’s famous “Invisible Hand” at work in the marketplace. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

It has been said that “only God can make a tree.” Why do we agree with this? Isn’t it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable!

I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies – millions of tiny bits of know-how configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct millions of bits of know-how so as to bring a pencil into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree.

That’s what I meant when I wrote earlier, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these bits of know-how will naturally, ï yes, automatically arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand – that is, in. the absence of governmental or any other coercive master-minding – then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free men. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly on a creative activity – the delivery of the mail, for instance – most individuals will believe that the mail could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things involved in mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough knowhow to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. In the absence of a faith in free men – unaware that millions of tiny kinds of know-how would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity – the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that the mail can be delivered only by governmental masterminding.

Testimony Galore

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore: it’s all about us on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine, or to tens of thousands of other things.

Delivery? Why, in this age where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person’s home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one’s range or furnace in New York at -unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard-halfway around the world-for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

[Ed.: Some things have changed since this essay ran in 1958 and 1983]

Leave Men Free

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit creative know-how to freely flow. Have faith that men will respond to the “Invisible Hand.” This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, and the good earth.


 

 

Reprinted from Imprimis, Vol. 21, No. 6, June 1992, a publication of Hillsdale College. Used with permission.

Chicken Chile Colorado (Recipe)

Chicken Stock

6 cups water

1 chicken cut into pieces

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp peppercorns

2 tsp salt

1 leek, loosely cut

1 medium onion, quartered

3 celery stalks, loosely cut

3 carrots, loosely cut

1 bay leaf

• Put everything in a large pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour.

• Remove the chicken pieces and allow to cool. It’s easier to remove the skin before it gets too

cool. Remove the majority of the vegetables and throw them away, then strain the stock

through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.

• To remove as much fat as possible, you can cool the broth overnight in the refrigerator and then

skim the fat off the top with a spoon. I will usually make the stock the day before I finish the

chile Colorado so the chicken is easy to cut up and I can get as much fat as possible removed

from the broth.

• The amount of broth for this recipe needs to be around 3 cups. If you’re left with too much

broth, just simmer until you’re at about the right amount.

Chile Colorado

9 New Mexico dry chilies

3 Guajillo dry chilies (These add spice, so adjust to your taste. This amount will make a mildly spicy chile

Colorado. Half New Mexico and half Guajillo will make a pretty spicy dish. Using a chipotle chili will add

spice and a smoky flavor)

2 cups water

1 large onion, chopped

3 to 5 cloves garlic

½ cup all-purpose flour

4 tsp salt

⅛ tsp pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp paprika

1 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

• Stem and seed the dried chilies. Wear some latex gloves, or you’ll regret it. The easiest way for

me is to just tear off the stem, then rock a chef’s knife down the chili length-wise to split it open.

Most of the seeds will just fall out, but some will need to be scraped off. The seeds and the pulp

contain the majority of the spice of the chili, so if you’re going for mild, try to remove as much

as possible. Otherwise, a few seeds and a little pulp won’t do any harm.

• Place 2 cups water and the seeded chilies in a pan and bring to a boil, then remove from heat

and let them sit for about 30 minutes. Put the water and softened chilies in a blender and

puree.

• Strain through a fine strainer. I find that one of the large hand held fine strainers works pretty

well if you use a large spoon to push the majority of the liquid through the strainer. You’ll

be left with the skins of the chilies and a a few straggling seeds. Discard those. Wash out the

blender and return the strained chili mixture to it.

• Sauté the onion in 1 tsp of oil until translucent.

• For the garlic, you can finely chop it or roast it (I usually roast the garlic, since it takes about the

same time as sautéing the onions), then throw it into the blender with the onions.

• Puree everything together, then add it to the stock along with the paprika, onion powder, garlic

powder, chili powder, cilantro, cumin, salt, and pepper. Simmer covered for about 30 to 45

minutes.

• Put 1 cup cold water & ½ cup flour into a container with a lid and shake it until there are no

lumps, the pour it slowly into the Chile Colorado mixture while stirring. Keep stirring until the

sauce has thickened up.

• Cube the chicken and add it to the Chile Colorado

This recipe can be simplified by using canned or bullion cube stock.  Switch out beef/beef stock for the beef version of the dish.

Wake-up Call

Benghazi Truth

It’s past time for a wake-up call.  The Huffinghton Compost is a liberal propaganda rag.  I’m sick of them spewing their bullshit messages to the unenlightened masses.  Benghazi happened.  Mistakes were made.  Americans died. Questions need to be answered.  Here’s a few of the questions that I have;

Why were repeated requests for more security denied by the State Department?  This was an American outpost in a highly volatile part of the world that had seen numerous other attacks locally leading up to September 11th, 2012.  What was that…paranoia?  Thinking that a terrorist attack may happen in a country that has just been destabilized by the ouster of it’s terrorist leader?  It’s just completely beyond the pale to consider that a terrorist attack might happen in such a country on the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of this country, right?

Why was there no rescue attempt in a terrorist attack that lasted for 8 hours? The best answer for this is that no one could have responded in time.  Bullshit!  When I’m done writing this, I’m going to hit that publish button, and in a matter of seconds, a link will be sent to facebook and anyone in the civilized world will be able to read this.  But we couldn’t get people there in time?  Up until the attack ended, it did not have an expiration date.  The terrorists didn’t say ‘have your guard up between the hours of X and X30..tea and crumpets after the attack’.  I find it a big stretch to think that we could not have had people there helping within that 8 hours, but even giving the benefit of the doubt..say, it was impossible for those people to be helped.  Where was the attempt?

Why was some stupid internet video blamed for the ‘spontaneous’ attack when it was known within hours that it was a terrorist attack, and in spite of all the information from the ground that night by the people who were actually there was that it was a coordinated attack? Who came up with this idea?  Why was it pushed on the American people through a fawning liberal media who refuse to ask the hard questions?  This lie went on for at least 12 days after the attack.  Why?

Who gave the stand-down order? Two of the men who died did so because they refused to obey that stand-down order.  If you havn’t read about what those two guys did, you should. I’m not going to look it up for you.  I’m not going to post a link.  Think of this as a research homework assignment.  Go find out what happened in Benghazi that night.  See if you find the answers to the questions I’m asking.  Read about what those guys did and if it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then you better check yourself for a pulse.

Where was the president while this was happening?  Oh yeah, I know there are the people out there who will say ‘but why does that matter?’.  There was a picture of the victorious Obama in the situation room watching and taking credit for killing bin laden.  He gets credit from me for making a decision that 99% of everyone else would have made with the same opportunity.  Let me see..should I kill the most reviled terrorist in the known world?  I’m gonna go with kill the little bitch twice.  Points for making the right decision in a ‘well, duh’ situation.  Here’s your pat on the back, President Obama, now how about Benghazi?

On a side note, this is coming to facebook via my web site because I have noticed that a lot of things that I post regarding this or anything that is not of a liberal bent just don’t seem to show up on facebook, or are automagically hidden.  Of course, there is the possibility (probability, even) that people have just stopped following my feed and have not unfriended me because that would just be awkward, and silence, however awkward, is still preferable to confrontation.

So that’s my second Benghazi rant.  I know it may seem like I’m beating a dead horse, but until I know for sure that the horse is dead, I’m going to keep right on kicking the little bastard until I hear a last breath or get some answers.  I’m the proverbial dog with a bone and a one track mind.  Also, I like the ‘klickety-klack’ that my keyboard makes when I type.  If Mom happens to read this, sorry for the profanity…at least I didn’t drop an F-bomb.

 

The Day I got $850 Internet ScamBucks

Ok, so I’ve been meaning to write this down for a while.  We’re having network problems here at work, so it’s time to get this done.  Back in July/August last year, I was selling a couple guns that I did not need anymore.  I managed to sell one with no problems, then I get an email from Gary:

“Thanks for your reply, I am Currently traveling although for better reasons than you are. I have been there before hope all goes well. I would have you ship it to my FFL shop that i use. I’ve only ever bought from dealers before so that is the only way i know how to do it and it is the most legitimate route. I live in Big Rapids Township. I have wanted one of these for along time. I will be overseas until mid August  but we could work a deal let me know your thoughts. Also can you send me some more pics as arms list is blocked in the UAE. I’m in Dubai for a few weeks starting Monday currently in airport and only have access to email.

In regards to payment. I ‘d prefer to wire transfer to you or make use of Certified Checks, please Let me know your thoughts regards payment.

Hope to hear from you!.

Gary M.”

Ok, so they guy doesn’t have a firm grasp of the English language, but whatever.  My reply;

“I know you don’t need to go through an FFL for black powder rifles and pistols, but I can ship it wherever you want.  I know my FFL charges $75 for transfers.  If you don’t mind the extra expense of going through an FFL, I can do that.  I can hold on to the rifle for a while.  I’m getting rid of my black powder guns because I don’t have the time to use them and it’s a shame to have them just sitting in my basement collecting dust.  I’d rather get them to someone who will make good use of them.  I’ll take some more pics and email them to you later today.

Dan”

Then back from Gary;

“Thanks for your mail, Sorry for my late response, Plans have changed. I would want you to shipped it to my Father. He lives in RIDGECREST, CA.

PS: I’m really ready to finalized this purchase on or before Wednesday. But i would like to know if you can ship it to RIDGECREST, CA. If so, How much does it cost to ship to RIDGECREST CA.?

Please get back to me with your Full Name and Mailing Address (NOT P.O Box) with your Cell # so i can make the payment !.

Kindly get back to me with the total cost + plus shipping to RIDGECREST CA. and Your details.

Regards

Gary M.”

Ok, so now my scammer warning bells are starting to go off.  So, I send the guy a few pics of the gun and He tells me that he’s going to FedEx the payment to me.  Great!  Sometime in the next few days, I get a FedEx package and open it to find that there is a check in there for $850 instead of the originally agreed upon price of $200.  Shortly thereafter, I receive an email from Gary telling me that the payment that I got was a clerical error..you see, the check was supposed to go to his mom.  Gary assures me that he trusts me to do the right thing and get his mommy the money that was sent to me in error.  I just have to cash the check and send his dearest mommy the difference.  Scammer scumbag!  I do a few searches for the address information that was on the FedEx package, and the return address looks like it’s some bank in Indiana.  The FedEx number that he used appears to belong to some mortgage company.  I called the bank that the check was drawn on to let them know they have someone using one of their accounts for scamming people.  They told me that they were already made aware of this from someone else and that account has been closed and is under investigation.

Now, having sorted all that out, I turn my attention back to this scammer.  I figure he wasted a bunch of my time, so I’m going to have some fun wasting his time. My next email to Gary the Scammer;

“Hi.  I did not receive the fedex package.  I checked with my wife to see if maybe she signed for it, but fed ex never came here, even though it says it was delivered to my address.  Can you get check with fedex to see if they can give some verification of if it was misdelivered?   I have the rifle all packaged up and ready to ship when I get your payment.”

So, I went back and forth with him for a while along these lines until it got boring.  I needed ideas for how to mess with this guy, so I asked the wife and some friends at work what would be another good way to mess with this schmuck.  Mike had a very good idea.  This guy is probably someone who does not speak a word of English and is using an online translator, which of course does not always do a good job of translating.  The general idea was to send Gary the Scammer some cryptic message that made no sense.  Something like “Thanks for the money..your cheese is on the way”  I wanted to make it so cryptic that the translation would make absolutely no sense when he translated it into whatever language he was speaking.  Hello Google Translate!  I took this already cryptic message and translated it into at least a dozen different languages before I translated it back to English and sent it to him:

“I’ve got my money and I’ll give you as much appreciation for cheese after rushing into the previous contract.”

His response was:

“I didnt understand your mail. is the funds available ?”

So I typed up a good sarcastic response to him and whipped it through Google translate a bunch of times until it came out looking like this:

“If you spend more time trying to make money, instead of beating people. Stupid stupid. Here is your sign. You are głupi.Ponytail. I hope your mother die a horrible death in a sexually transmitted diseases. You need to kill as quickly as possible. That would be great. I said that it is a complete and total idiot? What an idiot, who does?”

His response:

“What do you mean?”

Ok, at this point I’ve had my fun and wasted some of his time, so I send him the original rant that I over-translated:

“Seriously.  Did you really think I would fall for your scam?  If people where you are are really that dumb, maybe the only way you can make money is by scamming others.  My guess is your mother is ashamed of you and regrets not getting that abortion when she had the chance.  Needless to say, I have forwarded all of the information I have, including the fraudulent use of fedex numbers and bank accounts to the authorities.  I’m pretty sure they won’t bother tracking you down in whatever shit hole country you live in.  But karma is a bitch and will eventually catch up to you.

Cheers from America!”

I never heard back from dear old Gary.

Benghazi – The Cat is Out Of The Bag

Ok, our liar-in-chief has finally been found out as someone who tried to hide the cause of the deaths of 4 Americans including an Ambassador in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 so he could continue to run our country into the ground.  No one died when Nixon did his lying two-step to try to get out of a bind.  People in his inner circle went to jail and he was hounded out of office.  That is as it should have been.   He, however was a republican, whereas Obama is the first black president (and a democrat), so apparently the same rules don’t apply to him.  Oh, I’ve already been called a racist for not voting for the anointed one in either election.  I’ll let my close friends and family be the judge of my character when it comes to that.

The facts here are that the Obama administration lied to the American people about the nature of a terrorist attack on that date by pointing to some stupid video that had absolutely nothing to do with what happened on the ground in Benghazi that night (this inconvenient truth coming from people that were there that night).  Add to that fact, the fact that the people on the ground in Benghazi had requested additional reinforcements because of concerns about a terrorist attack and been denied.  These requests for more security were not because they were paranoid (which I certainly would be if I were in that area of the world on September 11th), but because there had been previous attacks in the area leading up to September 11th.  The media in this country refuse to publicize these facts, but there’s this little thing called the interwebs and millions of us who use it.  If you still believe that Benghazi was an unfortunate incident where 4 Americans died, then you need to be researching this much more.  The media is not putting out the truth because it would hurt their golden-boy in the white house.

Everyone knows the truth that 4 Americans died that night in Benghazi.  That is tragedy enough.  I would argue that it is more tragic still that the majority of the American people have been denied the full truth of the events that night as well as the events leading up to it.  I can say that I would be just as offended if the person in the white house was a Republican golden boy.  How about you democrats out there?   Are you willing to stand on principle?  Truth?  Or is this just another case of the ends justifying the means?

Anthropogenic Global Warming. A Fact?

Anthropogenic global warming/global cooling/climate change is in no way a provable scientific fact.  Before heads start exploding, let me explain.  Scientists estimate that this planet is between 4 and 6 billion years old.  The first thermometer was created in 1709.  We have actual meteorological data going back 150 years.

“The idea that weather forecasting could be achieved by formulating equations of atmospheric motion emerged in 1922 but was not successfully implemented until 1950.”(at least according to what I found in researching this).

So, we have 150 years of data, and no standard for collecting and collating that data until 50 to 80 years ago.  Round that up to be 100 years of data to use in predicting what the future of this planet’s climate may be.  100 years of data in a system that goes back 4 to 6 billion years is statistically insignificant.  1,000 years would be statistically insignificant.  The bottom line is we are pretty much blind to things that happened in the climate a million years ago.  We can see the results of the climate changing, but there is no way to actually see what the weather patterns might have been like a million years ago.  We can tell from sediment, fossils, etc that there were comparably warmer and colder cycles and nail down when it might have happened to within 10,000 years or so, but that’s about as granular as it gets.

So, how would even 1,000 years of data in a system that has been evolving for 4 to 6 billion years give us any possible insight into what the climate might be like 20 or 100 years from now?  The best we can do right now is predict weather patterns 5 days in advance, and we all know how weather reports change regardless of forecasts. To predict how future weather patterns will behave for 5 days into the future, there is a complex computation done by computers that is based on 30 years of past data.  Based on that, to project what the climate might be like a year from now, you would need some 1,800+ years worth of hard data.  We do not have the data to predict what the climate will be like next year, let alone 5 years or 100 years from now.

The climate change argument is nothing but the current version of the snake oil salesman.  It’s the sale of a fake cure for a concocted illness.

There will be plenty of reasons to freak out in the future.  There will always be the next hurricane, tornado outbreak, earthquakes, fires, floods & riots.  But please, please, please, lets stop chasing shadows and throwing rocks at the moon.  The world is not going to end (and on the off chance that it does, because it is always a possibility, it will NOT be something you saw coming).  The oceans are not going to overtake New York.  A mega storm will not bring an instant world-wide ice age.  Not that all this hand wringing hasn’t included it’s fair share of fun.  I love a good apocalypse movie.

I’ve just grown weary of people trying to tell me to recycle. “It’s for the planet, after all.”  “You need to have a smaller carbon footprint”.  My size 11 likes to stomp on the gas pedal of the mustang good and hard.  “Think about the children?!”   Yeah, about that..you worry about your kids and I’ll worry about mine. Try just teaching your kids some basic values instead of celebrating every little mediocre achievement and telling them that they are winners just for joining the race.  News flash!  There are winners and losers.  Second place is the first loser.  The only time you get anything for coming in in a place other than first is in the Olympics, and even then, those are the best 3 worldwide in that particular event, so it IS a big achievement.

When you teach kids that they are winners, no matter what they do, you set them up for failure when they finally get out in the real world and realize that the rules aren’t the same.  The best lesson that you can teach a kid is that not only is failure a fact of life, but it is not necessarily a bad thing.  Sure, it feels bad to fail, but the successful people out there have all failed, usually numerous times before achieving success.  One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Edison;  “I havn’t failed.  I’ve just found ten thousand ways it doesn’t work.”

Ok, so this has morphed from a (I think) reasonably well thought out rebuttal of anthropogenic global warming/climate change/global cooling/recycle to save the earth, into my philosophy of parenting.  That’s the great thing about owning a web site.  My site, my rules.

Phishing Scams – They Suck (but you can still have fun)

They do suck, but you can still have some fun with them.  First of all, a few pointers on spotting Phishing scams.  No reputable company will flat out ask you for personal information in an email.  If something is up with your account, they will tell you to log into your account to check on things.  This particular phishing email had some pretty obvious tells in it.  First of all, the subject line was ‘Confirm Credit Card paypal’  The lower case p is the first warning.  The second warning is that the actual email address attached to this email is ‘i@ip-50-63-25-183.ip.secureserver.net’.  There’s an ip address and ip.secureserver.net.  It’s not on a domain that has anything to do with paypal (domain is secureserver.net in this case).  The third and most obvious tell is the grammar in the body of the email.  “Your account must be verification with credit card.”  Huh?  “Make sure you enter be complete data” Riiiiight.

Thanks You

Int Paypal

Sure, I’ll just get right on that.  Most people would mark it as spam and move on…and that’s an option.   I however thought I would have some fun.  I went to this link, which dropped me on a page asking for my login email & password.  I entered ‘Youdumbfuck@didyoureallthinkIwoulddoit.com.net.org’ and the password ‘ifonlyyourmomhadhadinsurancethatincludedbirthcontrol’ then clicked on login…and hey it got me to a page asking for all my credit card info and various other pieces of information.  I filled in the rest of the requested info with suitably insulting data and submitted it.

I gave similar treatment to a scammer a while back who sent me a bogus check for 800 bucks and asked that I send him 300 and keep the rest of the money because of an erroneous accounting error or something like that.  If someone’s going to try to scam me, they are in for some fun.

 

 

Phishing

Grabbers (movie review)

I just watched this on Netflix and it was pretty good.  It’s just about equal to Tremors in terms of campyness and special effects.  The gore is PG-13ish.  There is plenty of cussing, but this being an Irish film, it’s mostly ‘feck’ and ‘bollocks!’ with the occasional ‘shate!’ thrown in here and there.  The basic plot-line is that this alien species ends up landing in the ocean off of this  island near Ireland.  It is a creature that likes water and has lots of tentacles and a mouth in the center of said tentacles with a full set of pointy teeth.  The interesting twist is that this creature has a specific weakness that made landing in this particular ocean an extremely bad choice.  This monster is basically a giant leech, and high blood alcohol content can render it unconscious or even kill it.  Of course, the main safe haven ends up being the local tavern with the hero being the extremely-drunk-all-the-time police man and his side-kick being the local drunk.  The creature shows some possible intelligence when it uses one of it’s kills to lure a victim outside, but there is no further elaboration on how smart or dumb this creature is, so it immediately reverts back to being a giant leech with tentacles and teeth.  They could have done more with that.  The acting is good, and they manage to throw in a little romantic stuff between the drunk cop and the never-even-had-a-drink female deputy.  Of course, this leads to that particular light-weight  needing to get completely schnockered for the greater good and to save her own skin in the process.  The whole plot and ending is absolutely predictable, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t worth watching if you’re in the right mindset.  It’s campy horror with an Irish accent..I’d say a good solid 3 stars.

Thoughts from Brony-dom

When my wife first told me about ‘Bronies’, I was shocked and a little disgusted.  I asked Lisa “You mean there are actually grown men who are fans of My Little Pony?”  I remembered the cheesy My Little Pony cartoons that my little sister used to watch in the 80s/90s.  They, like most Saturday morning cartoons of that era, were horribly animated and sometimes a little creepy. Lisa informed me that this was a new iteration of the franchise, and not the old ones that I remembered on TV.  I was undeterred in my skepticism.

That was a few years ago.  Fast forward a couple years and Delaney starts watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and loves it.  As any parent knows, you end up sitting through endless hours of children’s shows.  The show Yo Gabba Gabba has become the yardstick that I use to gauge the level of quality for any particular kids show.  That show is just about as preachy and dumbed down for kids as any one you will ever see.  When I first saw this current iteration of My Little Pony, my first impression was that it was not annoying like Yo Gabba Gabba.  It wasn’t painful to watch, and it wasn’t trying to sell my kids on saving the earth if you can just recycle enough plastic bottles.  The themes were simple and were usually tied to characteristics espoused by one of the main characters; those characteristics being honesty, loyalty, generosity, laughter, and kindness.

After watching a few episodes, I decided that not only was this show not incredibly annoying; it was actually kind of entertaining.  For a Saturday morning cartoon, it is surprisingly well produced.  The voice acting is very good, as is the writing and animation.  It wasn’t long before I started watching episodes I liked when the kids weren’t watching them.  That was a first for me.  There is no other kids show before MLP or since that I have actually watched by choice when the kids weren’t watching it.  It wasn’t unusual for me to put on an episode of MLP on Netflix when it was getting close to bed time.  This eventually led to Lisa realizing that she had went to bed after watching Arrested Development on Netflix, and woke up to an episode of MLP being on there instead.  Of course, she was endlessly amused by this, knowing it was me.  She called me on it, which I tried to half-heartedly deny before admitting that I liked the show.

It was strange; realizing that I enjoyed something that was so obviously marketed to young girls.  This got me trying to figure out what it was that I found so entertaining.  Basically, I like MLP for the same reason I like Frozen, Wreck it Ralph, and Tangled.  The animation is done very well, the writing is good, the voice acting is good, the songs are catchy and memorable, and there are pop-culture references throughout the series.  A long time ago, Disney realized that they could target the adult demographic by throwing in these references for the adult viewers.  For instance, Frozen had a reference to an Arrested Development episode that Lisa picked up immediately when we watched it for the first time.  She was extremely amused.  I’m not the Arrested Development fan that she is, so it went completely over my head.  MLP uses the same references to appeal to a wider demographic than their target audience.  My kids have never seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or The Big Lebowski, yet there are those references and a lot of others interspersed throughout the series including a reference to one of the old My Little Pony cartoons from the 80’s (seen in the “Too Many Pinkie Pies” episode).

Another thing that I appreciate about the series is that it does not try to dumb itself down for kids.  For instance, Yo Gabba Gabba has DJ Lance Rock who talks in this comically (not in a good way) slow and annunciated deadpan voice throughout every episode.  Kids aren’t stupid.  They don’t need to have people talking to them like they are drooling idiots in order to get a point across.  Something else is that the series sticks to some core principles throughout.  Everything in the show revolves around friendship.  There’s no ‘hey, lets save the earth by recycling’ or ‘I have two daddies’ nonsense.  The show focuses on 5 main tenets of friendship.  Honesty, kindness, loyalty, generosity, and laughter.   Each episode has a story that illustrates one of these traits.  It’s the simple idea that a good core set of values is what is most important.  Teaching kids about the difference between right and wrong, good and bad does not need to be more complicated than that.  Me and Delaney look forward to every new episode on Saturday.  Friday night, I’ll tell her “Guess what’s on tomorrow?”  Her response is always one word; “Ponies!”.  Then I look up the synopsis for the episode that will be on and read it to her.  I thought my Saturday morning cartoon watching days were long gone.  Apparently not.

The animation style also impressed me.  Being a life-long computer geek, I remember flash animation when it was the new cool thing on the internet.  There was no video streaming on a 56k modem.  If you saw something moving on a web site, it was a pixelated video clip or a gif.  Then Flash came along and you started seeing cool animations when you went to web sites. MLP uses a heavily modified version of Flash 8, and does a very good job animating the show.

Another interesting draw for me in the series is the appearance of mythological creatures in the world.  There are appearances of a minotaur (named Iron Will, and hilariously modeled after Rex, the karate teacher in Napoleon Dynamite), cerberus, manticor, hydra, chimera, cockatrice, and a gryphon (named Gilda).  Of course, several of the main characters are pegasi, unicorns, and alicorns.

So, in summary, yeah, I like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  My favorite character in the show is Pinkie Pie, maybe followed by Apple Jack.  I also liked Frozen very much…which is a princess story, when you get right down to it.  Olaf cracks me up.  I feel like because I mocked when I first heard about Bronies, I am due a little mocking myself..so bring it on :)  But don’t bother questioning my sexuality.  First of all, I’m not gay.  Secondly, calling someone gay just isn’t the insult that it used to be.  All you have to do is turn on the news and it’s celebrities coming out of the closet and gay marriages. It’s the “in” thing now.  Beware, though; if you want to mock me, you better watch the first few episodes of season 1 before you do.  You might just turn out to be a Brony too.

Subliminal Messages

i am not senDng sublIminal mEssages

That is all.  I just wanted to post something.