QOTD 2018-10-18

On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy”   – Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) TRON

(Since I can’t link any original TRON content, here is a fan-made trailer)

Greetings, Programs!  Last week, I mentioned my favorite line from the movie TRON.  This week I figured I would do one of the more famous quotes from the movie – from three different angles!

The Philosophical Angle:  Flynn goes from being a programmer designing video games into a virtual world where programs have personalities, and there is an entire society within the confines of the computer system.  How do you look at the computer system that you work with in the same way after you have been inside of it?  Is deleting a file actually killing someone sentient?

It’s interesting how a change in perspective makes a difference.  I can tell you that I had no idea how far off I was on how moderation works around here.   There are a lot more Dilbert moments than X-Files scenes with the Cigarette-Smoking Man.  I’ll say that my opinion of academia has certainly changed after I got inside.  It is even more ruthless than the average corporate office, and much more hierarchical.  Older PIs often seem like ancient wizards or medieval nobles.  Have you had moments that completely shifted your perspective?

The Theological Angle: Flynn creates a world, then goes into it, becoming all but indistinguishable from the beings that inhabit it.  He is reduced to the lowest level, but his power is still evident.  He sacrifices his life to save the world, but in the process is restored to his proper place.  Sound familiar?  The Christian narrative is so powerful that Hollywood can’t resist incorporating into stories, even if it is in a distorted way.  Are there any other stories where the Christian imagery was present almost in spite of itself?

The Political Angle:  There is no way this movie could be made today.  Flynn is a relic from another era – the renegade programmer turned hacker, acting immature and flirtatious, brash and boastful.  He’s from an era of tech that wouldn’t be recognizable in this modern era of digital safe spaces and walled garden run by social justice scolds.  Even the age of the open Internet, where a techno-libertarian future seemed to open before us, is all but gone.  Tech companies seem to have gone from geeks to the villains of a cyberpunk novel, with a bizarre unreal twist where people identifying as buildings and animals are welcome, but people identifying as with beliefs similar to half of America are not.   Ironically, the sequel’s villain is not the supposed wickedly greedy CEO, but the system administration program out to create the perfect system.  Any who deviate are destroyed or “rectified” into identical drones.  It’s unintentionally a description of the modern vision of Big Tech.  What do your think happened to the technology industry such that it


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TOTD 2018-10-04: A Hill to Fight On

My friend has always been a snarky libertarianish conservative, very cynical about political causes.  However, when he talks about Kavanaugh, he is furious.  He voted already,and has been much more active in political discussions – even trying to get a job with a campaign.

The formerly squishy, comity-at-all-costs Senator Graham has been a font of righteous indignation.  In addition to his unloading both barrels on the Dem on the committee and calling out their blatant partisan exploitation, he has been getting really snarky off-the-cuff.  In response to a protestor whining about the need to give Kavanaugh  a polygraph, he dropped a Monty Python reference: “Why don’t we dunk him in water and see if he floats?”

On Ricochet, people who are normally moderate in tone are outraged.   Susan Quinn on the same page as Hypatia?  American Greatness and National Review on the same side?  Kurt Schlicter’s Bitey and Jonah’s dingo Zoe hunting democratic squirrels together?   I  have not seen this degree of conservative unity in ages.

Mitch McConnell is a now a snapping turtle.  He’s resolved to make this happen.  I think he takes this personally – judges are his thing, and he warned Harry Reid about what might happen if the filibuster got nuked.  He clearly gets the stakes.

Fundamentally, this is the hill to fight on.  (Not die on, I plan to follow General Patton’s advice)  Kavanaugh is a man of upstanding character and iron will.  The democrats are utterly despicable and lying like rugs.  (Perhaps Spartacus will get the Roman treatment?)  The allegations are completely discredited.

It’s time to put Never Trump to bed.   Their and our hashtag shall be #NeverSurrender

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TOTD 2018-09-28 Everyday Carry

What items do you normally carry around with you?

For me, aside from keys, wallet, cellphone, ID badge that anyone would need to wear at work, I typically carry a small flashlight and a Schrade pocket knife.   I also have a all kinds of supplies in my backpack, such a multi tools, nail clippers, a flash drive, a small wrench, a much larger flashlight, an umbrella, multiple chargers, flat palm hairbrush, generic tylenol, etc.

My inspection kit has a pocket 18650 LED flashlight, small multi-tool, digital camera, normal and high-end gloves, goggles, and my lab coat.  I also carry a binder with all of the handouts, labels, and other paperwork I need to hand out, along with mechanical pencils and a sturdy-backed notepad.

You will note something missing from these lists.  My workplace does not allow any carrying of firearms, despite being located near huigh crime areas.  Many of the larger flashlights I carry may have a secondary purpose.


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TOTD 2018-09-21: Lawyers vs. Regulators

I’ve often wondered about the control of public menaces and hidden hazards (such as an undisclosed vat of toxic chemicals in the workplace, or a lack of purity in medicine) if we got rid of government regulatory bodies.  I’m not sure how a person would deal with a major public menace without filing a bankruptcy-inducing lawsuit.  It gets worse if the hazard is not immediately obvious.  Now you have to bring in an expert to make your case and get the data.  Better sell off your organs now before the chemicals damage them too much to be of value.

The government has tons of useless regulations, and some that are actively harmful.  (I’d bet losing 5% completely at random would not cause severe harm) However, I do not see why state governments doing regulation, with the feds stepping up for interstate cases, is worse that having to sue any time someone is not working safely, or polluting, or distributing contaminated medication.  In fact, the standard gives the employer some peace of mind – there is actually an achievable standard to meet as opposed to whatever a jury will think


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TOTD 2018-09-14: Crime & (Physical) Punishment

Why do we almost exclusively use prison and fines for punishment?  Why do we not use physical methods, as they were certainly not considered unusual in the Founding era?

We can lock up a rapist for decades, putting him up at taxpayer expense, or we could physically prevent the scumbag from ever raping someone again.  (Let the victim have the first swing)

Hard labor could also be done.  Have them do utterly horrible jobs like sorting through trash. (provided we can keep the shivs under control)  They do a good job or they suffer. Why do we have to provide them amenities the average poor person does not have outside of jail?

TOTD 2018-08-31: A Reckoning Cannot Be Delayed Indefinitely

When you proclaim your allegiance to a set of principles, you are expected to follow them.  When you carry a banner for an organization, you are expected to support its goals and those of its members.

When this is out of alignment, there is a reckoning coming.  No matter how much you put it off, there is going to be a moment when either the group changes to fit the leadership, or the group tosses out the leadership.  We have seen this in numerous settings, most recently the conservative movement and the Catholic Church.  A similar disconnect between the leaders and the bulk of the organization.

Conservatives are now shocked to discover that many of their leaders are more devoted to corporations and whoever is paying their salary than their supposed principles.  Corporations are vital to the economy , but they can be agents of leftism under the direction of social justice CEOs.  If we could get businesses to stick to making money and focus any moral interests on either not killing their workforce or traditional charities, we would be in a much better situation.   However, many supposed leaders of the conservative movement condemn any right wing pressure on a corporation or any efforts to cut off the flow of Mexican helots to serve as cheap disposable labor.

Similarly, most people thought the Catholic Church was in the business of saving souls and giving out charity, not focusing on climate change or trying to protect Muslim migrants from Catholic countries wanting to enforce border controls.  However, Cardinal Cupcake of Chicago has made it clear that dealing with mortal sin in the clergy is not on the leadership’s priority – this despite him being in charge of the committee on the protection of children.

The reckoning is coming, whether we want it or not.

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TOTD 2018-08-24: The Legal System is for the Protection of the Accused

There are always ways of enforcing norms and mores.  These show up in all human societies.   Even in a criminal gang, pirate crew, or savage tribe, there are rules, and breaking them will get you punished.   The social contract in the US gives the state most of the power as a grant from the sovereign people.  Other countries have differing rules, but the fundamental principle behind the rules is ensure justice and fairness, or at least the appearance of such.

This is especially applicable when someone is accused of a crime.  Because mobs demand blood and the state is not entirely trustworthy, we weight the system in favor of the accused.  Even if someone kills some poor guy in front of a police station on camera with dozens of witnesses, we give him his day in court.  However, this only works if the government is willing to punish wrongdoing.

Once you lose that, well, it falls to the old rules.  The lex talionis, the Law of Revenge.   Hang em’ High!

Jed Cooper: You’re lynching those boys. Why?

Judge Adam Fenton: Why? Because of you, Cooper. Because of that beautiful, that magnificent journey you took to bring three killers to justice. Because if the law didn’t hang them, the next posse that goes out will say, “Hang ’em and hang ’em high, there’s no justice in Fort Grant.”

We see this happening in Britain.  The law is  aiming to prevent hurt feelings and political incorrectness, rather than administer justice on behalf the populace.  Therefore, you turn to the old rules:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6062653/Acid-attacker-beaten-gang-vigilantes-east-London.html


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TOTD 2018-08-22: Not My Problem, Grasshopper…

Poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine.” – Bob Carter

When you consider American conservatism, self-reliance always comes to the forefront. The classic conservative American ideal is the self-made man, the person does not need to rely on others. Now, this is not exactly accurate – we are not islands isolated from each, we are social creatures – but the principle is there. We do not celebrate, barbecue, and launch fireworks for Dependence Day.

There is a harsher side to this focus on self-reliance – the fate of those not self-reliant. This brings up the classic fable of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper partied while the ant kept busy storing up resources and digging a burrow, and when the winter came the grasshopper starved and froze to death. Harsh, yes, but that was the way of the world for centuries. Pity and charity are fundamentally luxuries – if you do not have abundance, the unprepared starve. There is no obligation to help others at a cost yourself except moral principles. It is noble and a deeply respected tradition to offer hospitality to the traveler, even if he was unprepared for the journey. Regardless, there is no formal duty to aid others.

I am not a believer in Ayn Rand’s Objectivism with its hatred of altruism – I serve the King of Heroic Sacrifice – but the modern culture of dependence and refusal to prepare for future misfortune is leading us off of the cliff. Perhaps it is time to bring back a dose of cold reality to our modern grasshoppers.


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TOTD 2018-08-03: Who is Welcome Here?

I know that we have many flavors of conservative here.   Do we have any rules on who we exclude?  This is not for the sock and the scientist, this is for all of us, the people who form the Ratburger community.  It is we who decide whom to include and whom to exclude.

Now, Ratburger is a right-wing, conservative site.  I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that remains the case, to avoid invoking Conquest’s Second Law.

Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.

(I note with some irony that I linked to National Review, which seems like it is following the 2nd and 3rd laws – that post is from Derbyshire)  However, what does that mean for Ratburger?

I know several people who are not Republican or even conservative, but might enjoy this site.  Moreover, they have knowledge that might benefit Ratburghers, such as preparedness and urban architecture.  Should I invite them?   The most liberal of the group is around David Rubin level.  Should they expect a torch & pitchfork mob if they come by here?

More broadly, how do you maintain a conservative organization without being obsessed with purity tests?


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TOTD 2018-07-27: The Limits of Religious Freedom

Religious freedom is a powerful and vital right.  More than any other right, it dethrones the State, placing it subordinate to the conscience of the individual and the Supreme Being he chooses to acknowledge.   This is why the Left cannot stand it – they cannot bear the competition.  Only the Party and the State  can define meaning – in essence, they want to establish Leftism as State religion, and block the free exercise of any other faith.  Social Justice is indeed a jealous god, wrathful and merciless.

That said, there are limits to religious freedom.  You cannot claim that heinous crimes are justified by your religion and expect to get away with it – no sacrificing children to Moloch (unless they are aborted fetuses).  You need some degree of common sense restrictions – you cannot form the Church of Rockso and claim tax exemption along with having cocaine consumption as a sacrament.  This is all common knowledge.

Now for a tougher situation.  The Church of Scientology is a fairly small, but extremely rich organization.  It does not acknowledge a supreme being, nor does engage in much charitable activity.  More than anything else, it resembles a corrupt business selling self-help techniques, while using mental manipulation to control its members.  The abuses and cruelties of this organization have been well-documented – there are numerous books, a documentary movie, and even a TV series.

When the Church of Scientology is challenged, they run behind their tax exempt status, which was obtained by a relentless campaign of harassment against the IRS.  Eventually, the IRS bowed down before Scientology and its sociopathic leader, granting them a tax exemption.  So now the IRS is cast as official arbiter of whether or not some group is a religion.   While there is discussion that Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have some interest in changing this, Scientology regularly swats away lawsuits  with the stamp of approval they extorted from the US government.  How do we work to break the power of this vile organization, without jeopardizing all religious freedom.

If that was a thorny issue, this one is acid-coated razor wire.  Political Islam is very tightly related with religious Islam, and Political Islam is blatantly incompatible with Western democracy.  Yet there are vast numbers of Muslims who like the good life in the US, and do not want to make women wear sacks and decapitate everyone who disagrees.   On the other hand, we see the continuing problem of Sudden Jihad Syndrome.  Some scumbag watches some ISIS videos online, then decides to kill as many people as possible.

I understand that some people here think all Muslims need to be expelled from the US.  I have had close co-workers who are practicing Muslims, and other Muslim acquaintances (even a guy named Jihad!) and I just can’t square kicking all of them out  (much less killing them) with freedom of religion.  CAIR and the various other terrorist-hugging mounds of porcine excrement certainly should get treated as enemy agents.  I want people facing treason charges and similar treatment to Nazi agents in WWII.  That still leaves a lot of people who follow Mecca Islam (to use Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s phrase) and have no real interest in decapitation.  Do we need to toss them out?  Hell, the Left hates us more than ISIS does.  Can we trust that they would not expel Evangelicals if they had the chance?

That said, we do need to be mindful of the people following Medina Islam, and who are inclined to dominate or destroy us.  How do we address this problem?


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TOTD 2018-06-22: Cultural Sadomasochism

I’ve always been infuriated by people whining about the US and how oppressive it is.  There’s this constant moaning about how victimized they are and oh the humanity think of the children it’s like Donald Trump is raping us all.   This is coming from people who are in secure, well-paying jobs or people going to school on other people’s money.  It’s like bragging about how victimized you are. Continue reading “TOTD 2018-06-22: Cultural Sadomasochism”


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TOTD 2018-06-15: The Road from Mandalay Bay

On October 11. 2017, there was an atrocity in Vegas.    After it was over, the FBI and local police rushed to declare that it was a lone nutcase, not at all terror related, despite ISIS claiming responsibility.  The media promptly dropped it into the memory hole next to the attempted massacre of Congress by a Bernie supporter.  But not everyone was following the script from the Party.

Continue reading “TOTD 2018-06-15: The Road from Mandalay Bay”

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TOTD 2018-06-08: An End to Downs Syndrome?

I understand the concern about the increase in abortion of Downs Syndrome fetuses. That clearly has all kinds of ethical problems, and opens a giant can of worms – what genetic abnormalities get the axe?  That’s not what I am talking about here.  This is about something different. Continue reading “TOTD 2018-06-08: An End to Downs Syndrome?”


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