Saturday, April 13, 2013

Things change

I remember when my friend Anna got up and argued for slavery, or rather for the northern states allowing the southern states to continue with it. She made a very good and convincing argument, too, as much as one can be made on the subject, mostly based on property rights and the rights of states. A guy named Reza argued for stopping the slavery, using the arguments that are more familiar to us, and was also quite convincing. Then they switched positions, and were quite as good arguing for the opposite side.

This whole thing was very new to me (I had been out of USSR for several months), and I was not any good in arguing for the things I don't believe in (I think I could do a much better job now but am still not as good as Anna and Reza were back then), and I got a C for the class and didn't enjoy it much, but I did learn quite a lot.

We've done a lot of uncontroversial topics like that. I think the only reason we didn't do Holocaust was that this was a US history class, and we only did the debates where both parties were American.

It appears that similar assignments are national news nowadays.

I want nukes

Imagine that I have come to Rautatientori with a pistol. I aim it at one person, then at another, and tell them that I'll kill them all. Would anybody say "don't worry, she doesn't really mean it"? "Don't worry, it's just her usual rhetoric, just look at all her postings mentioning raping people with cactii." "She just wants to look scary so that people will give her some money." (I believe the technical term for the latter is "armed robbery".)

How long will I have to threaten before the talk starts to shift from "she doesn't really mean it" to "she probably doesn't really mean it, and her pistol is probably no good anyway, and she is probably a lousy shot"? And if I threaten to go home and get a proper automatic weapon, will people actually wait for me to do that?

If nobody is gonna take that shit from me, why are people taking it from a dude who a) actually has nukes, b) has threatened to attack the US and Japan with said nukes, and wipe South Korea from the face of the Earth, and c) whose only redeeming quality appears to be that he doesn't have a very good delivery system for said nukes - yet? Granted, kicking is ass his way harder than kicking mine, but he does appear a somewhat bigger threat as well, what with the nukes and a 1.2-million active-duty army (that's for a country with 24 million people - think about it).

10 years ago we (the US) invaded a country ruled by a dictator who was alleged to have weapons of mass destruction. Despite all the effort the weapons of mass destruction were not found, and I - despite not being a supporter of said war - remember thinking for a moment, in a rather cynical way, that it might be better to kick the guy's ass before he has the weapons of mass destruction and not after. And now there is a guy who actually has weapons of mass destruction, and has threatened several countries with them, and nobody is doing anything.

I think the only message to be learned from here is that if you happen to be an insane dictator, your best bet is to get some nukes. Pretty soon every dictator is gonna be getting nukes. Hell, I want to have nukes of my own, and I am not ever a dictator yet. I even have a grand plan for my nukes: gonna make a lot of noise, threaten a lot of neighbors, then give the nukes up and receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Friday, April 12, 2013

An open letter to IRS

Dear IRS,

I do hereby solemnly swear that I don't file my federal taxes for fun and personal entertainment, but because you require me to. If you would like to change your mind and stop requiring tax returns from people whose total income is 0, adjusted gross income is 0, and taxes or refunds owed are 0, please do so, it would be most welcome. Until then - please adjust your processing software to be able to process the forms where these values are 0.

Also, please do not ask people to put things in parentheses if your forms don't accept parentheses.

Checkboxes that cannot be unchecked are not a nice touch, either.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

I have a bad feeling about it...

The whole North Korea thing somehow reminds me of a sci-fi novel by Vladlen Bakhnov, The Story of Ogogondia (the real name of the novel is way longer - How the Sun Went out, or the History of the Thousand-year Dictatorship of Ogogondia, which Existed 13 Years, 5 Months and 7 Days ). At some point the leaders of other countries are talking about what to do with Ogogondia, a dictatorship that became a bit aggressive:

"I suggest we drop a bomb on Ogogondia, and start a war."
"And I suggest we drop two bombs, and start peace negotiations."
"It's best to drop three bombs, and not start anything at all."

I can sort of imagine Chuck Hagel saying "Hey, let's drop two bombs, and start peace negotiations, it has worked for us before!", although I suppose it would be a bit tasteless to say that to the Japanese.

Just checked with the text (sorry, it's in Russian), and it goes on (this is the part I didn't remember):

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, don't forget: Ogogondia also has bombs.Granted, they are second-hand, but still..."
"That's true. So what do you suggest?"
"Let's send this upstart an ultimatum with a strict reprimand and a final warning."

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Relaxation day

Took it fairly easy today. Went for a walk in town and saw the weird yellow thing in the sky that everyone had been talking about. Went to the gym. Got a takeout from Dong Bei Hu   Bought a bottle of BenRiach (15 year old Pedro Ximenez Sherry wood finish). Watched Starks and Lannisters perform various violent acts on each other (for those who don't know, these are characters in the Song of Ice and Fire, and not my neighbors or suchlike, although there is one lady in our building whom I can well imagine in the Kingsguard).

Lately I'd been having a feeling that I am just sitting at home, not working, not being sociable, etc. Which is really weird, because it has absolutely nothing to do with reality. Last Saturday I just kept thinking "why am I sitting at home", and reminding myself that I was actually not.

Oh well. I usually interpret all the weird psychological phenomena as "I need a vacation". And vacation is coming. And winter, I hope, is going.

Feel like I need to write something about Anjem Choudary. I will as soon as I manage to say something printable or at least legal.