The Idiom

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Am Spartacus!

Kid Various encourages everyone to join the #IAmSpartacus campaign on twitter:

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant, yesterday lost his appeal against his conviction and £1,000 fine for a comment he made in jest when he was concerned that he might miss a flight to Belfast.

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" he wrote in January.

...Under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus – a reference to the film in which Spartacus's fellow gladiators show their solidarity with him by each proclaiming "I am Spartacus" – thousands of people have copied Chambers's original message.

This guy tweeted an obviously non-serious threat out of frustration, the tweet was picked up by British security authorities, and this man's life was ruined. He's was arrested, jailed, lost his job, etc. Because we have surrendered WAY too much liberty to the state in the name of "security."

The terribly sad thing is that as Kid Various repeated the message in a tweet, he was afraid. That's right, the Kid felt fear. In America. In our free society. Because what would happen if this tweet was picked up by the government? What if the government officials could not demonstrate any common-frickin'-sense? (which basically describes all government officials.) What if The Kid's employers, in another branch of the government, fail to demonstrate any common-frickin'-sense? The little voice in the back of The Kid's head was saying "Hey, is this the wisest course of action?"

Maybe it's not the wisest course of action. But it's definitely a necessary one. Because when the situation has deteriorated so much that you second guess yourself for sending out an innocuous tweet, things have gone too far. It's time people stand up and say "Enough!"

Enough with the naked body scans!

Enough with being pushed around by high-school dropout, minimum wage earning bureaucratic drones!

Enough with the cameras! (and the war on YOUR cameras!)

Enough with zero tolerance policies that remove all discretion!

Enough with the death of common-frickin'-sense!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

We Knew There Was A Reason...

That Stormtroopers couldn't hit the broadside of a friggin' Star Destroyer:

In one war-time study, a Brigadier General found that "only 15 to 20 [percent] would take any part with their weapons." And that this was consistently true, "whether the action was spread over a day, or two days, or three." Eighty percent of the soldiers would not fire, due to nothing more than their innate desire to not take a human life. We also know that the vast majority of shots fired in battle, miss.

Yep. They just have the normal human (clone) reaction to shoot wide. Oh yeah and those helmets? They should really forgo them:

That's right: If the Stormtroopers had just taken off their helmets, they would have probably won the war. Especially considering that they're an elite battalion of well-funded techno-warriors, up against a space hillbilly, a gigolo, a pampered socialite and a furry version of Sloth from the Goonies. It all comes down to the basic principle of dehumanization.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We have been away a while haven't we? It's really quite sad, as life has overtaken Kid Various and his Idiom pals. We'll try to do better. If only for the fact that the intervening months have turned The Kid's mind to jelly. There is nothing better to honing your skills than writing every day, and right now, The Kid can't write anything longer than a laundry list. We're trying to make good. Please bear with us.

In any case, take a look at this lame review of "The Closing of The Muslim Mind" that The Kid wrote. The book isn't lame. It's fantastic. In fact, Kid Various thinks it required reading for those who want to understand the Long War. It's just the Kid's prose that's lacking. When he was in grad school, Kid Various could knock out 20 pages without batting an eye. Nowadays, uh... what was I saying????

Outstanding overview that pinpoints the decline of Islamic thought in the 9th century with the triumph of the Asharites over the Mutazalites. These names likely mean nothing to most Americans, but they are critically important to today's world and the conduct of the Long War.

Essentially, Sunni Islamic thought was initially extremely diverse (the book does not delve into Shiism.) The Mutazalites taught that God's creation was open to human reason. That, essentially, God's laws and intentions could be discovered by reason. In this, they clashed with the Asharites who felt that if God's will was divinable by human reason, if he followed laws that could be deduced by reason, then that put limits on his power. And God is all powerful. Therefore they rejected basic concepts like "cause and effect" which is the case to this very day. Strictly speaking, in Islam, there is no cause for anything except God. If one drops a ball, gravity does not make the ball fall. God makes the ball fall - directly. If does not act at that very moment, the ball will not fall.

By contrast, in Christianity, and in the Enlightenment culture spawned from it, God may be the first cause, but he has set up an order that can be divined by humans. He creates gravity that is the cause of the falling ball. He can perform a miracle and stop gravity, but in most cases he is not acting.

The triumph of the Asharites over the Mutazalites essentially put an end to Islamic philosophy, in favor of revelation and jurisprudence. In other words, it was not important to divine the meaning of God's laws and how they related to humans. Instead Islam demanded that humans simply follow revealed law, and then set up an elaborate system of jurisprudence to administer said law.

This has profound consequences for the present day. It's frequently said that Islam has not undergone an Enlightenment period. This is true, but what is worse, it will be difficult for it to do so, because of the demotion of reason in the Islamic faith, which is central to modernity.

This is an excellent book, very readable and is a great introduction to Sunni Islamic thought for the average reader.

Bring It On!

A public service announcement, from Dr. Steele:

Singaporean Health Care

If the Administration really wanted to "bend the cost curve down" they could do worse than to look at Singapore.

Medisave, which covers about 85 percent of all Singaporeans, is a component of a mandatory pension program. Employees typically pay 20 percent of their wages into the Central Provident Fund (CPF), while employers pay 13 percent. (Since 1992, the self-employed have also participated.) At the beginning of 2007, CPF had over $1 billion in surpluses.

Medisave accounts can be used to pay directly for hospital expenses incurred by an individual or his immediate family. Limits are in place on the extent of Medisave funds that can be used for daily hospital charges, physicians’ fees, and surgical fees. The idea is to cover fully the bills of most patients in state-subsidized wards of public hospitals. Beyond that, individuals dip into their own pockets or use benefits from insurance plans (see more on this below). Medisave can also be used for expensive outpatient treatments such as chemotherapy, renal dialysis, or HIV drugs.

Medishield, the second part of the program, is a national insurance plan that covers the higher cost of especially serious illness or accident, which in Singapore’s system is described as “catastrophic.” Singaporeans can choose Medishield or several private alternatives, some offered by firms listed on the Singaporean stock exchange. Premiums for the insurance plans, including Medishield, can be paid using Medisave accounts.

Medifund, the third part, was established by the government for the roughly 10 percent of Singaporeans who don’t have the means to pay for their medical needs, despite the government’s subsidy of hospital and outpatient costs. The fund was set up in 1993 with $150 million, with the budget surplus providing additional contributions since then. Only interest income, not capital, may be disbursed.

It's actually very close to the set up Kid Various has. The Kid has a health savings account and a high deductible insurance plan. He puts money into his HSA every pay period, and can take money out to pay for all health care costs up to $4,000. After $4,000 in expenses the insurance kicks in. Therefore, Kid Various gets cheap insurance (the high deductible plan is moocho cheapo because he is not using insurance to pay for little scrape and sneeze) and pays for regular maintenance out of his pocket - but can't spend that money (the HSA) on anything else so he doesn't waste it on hookers and blow - thus being incentivized to shop around for health care.

It's a great system, and as we all know, because the President promised "If you like your health plan, you can keep it..."

Oh wait a minute. Kid Various can't keep his health plan? It's illegal under the new Obamacare federal regulations? Oh Noes!

So what does Obamacare do instead? It severely curtails the use of flex plans by limiting them to $2500 per year. (The average annual cost of health care in the US is more than $7000 a year per-capita.)

For people who use flex plans, the sharply reduced amount means they’ll have to either buy a much more expensive insurance policy, or go uninsured. It’s a totally crazy move which flies in the face of Obamacare’s stated objective of making healthcare more affordable for everyone.

And of course, you should be reading (and re-reading) this excellent Obamacare primer:

ObamaCare: The sum of all fears

Recent polls reflect America’s zeal for repeal, as does an August ballot referendum in Missouri rebuking the individual mandate, which succeeded by a margin of 71-29. Throughout the lengthy public debate, President Obama and his surrogates consistently ridiculed and denounced critics of the bill as bad-faith, fear-mongering propaganda merchants.

The facts now prove there was plenty to fear in good faith.

We're Back! With Gay Animal Kingdom!

And... we're back! With Mutual of Omaha's Gay Animal Kingdom!

Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours. Male bonobos engage in “penis fencing,” which leads, surprisingly enough, to ejaculation. They also give each other genital massages.

Don't ask us why we love this stuff. It's just our forte.