Don't be fooled by the title of this blog. I don't discuss herbs very much here. This blog is general-purpose, although I do like ranting about politics and religion.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Voting For Bush, I guess...

I'm a Libertarian, darnit, and I'm voting for Bush. It really ticks me off, but there it is. Michael Barnarik is a space cadet as far as I am concerned. I have also begun leaning towards actually being in favor of the US having invaded Iraq, rather than merely hoping that since we're there we better do a good job of restructuring it.

My favorite Socialist president of the US is FDR, and as far as I am concerned, he was just a few steps short of being a Communist at heart. And look at World War II, which was FDR's Iraq. In the first place, Japan attacked us, not Germany, yet the day after we declared war on Japan, we declared war on Germany. But they hadn't attacked us! We could have gone for four years beating Japan into submission without once making a stir about what was going on in Europe. In fact, we could have settled Japan's hash in two years, not four, if we had concentrated on it to the exclusion of Germany.

But no, we declared war on Germany, who hadn't attacked us, though, as Japan's ally, they had a relationship with Japan, and even had secret high-level meetings with each other.

So, what we ended up doing was defeating the Germans first, and then the Japanese, and in both places we created freely-elected democratic governments, governments which remain friendly to us to this day, and have been allies with us in important ways.

So, here's George Bush facing HIS Pearl Harbor --- 9/11. And recognizing that the Taliban in Afghanistan is harboring the perpetrators of the attack, goes to war with them and in a couple of months they're out of there. Iraq is some sort of festering craphole that had some sort of relationship with Al-Qaeda (apparently Iraqi officials did secretly meet a number of times with Al-Qaeda officials, in and out of Iraq), but they didn't attack us on 9/11. So GWB "declares war" on them (in the modern version of declaring war, anyway) and cleans their clock in a couple of weeks. Straightening out the place gets under way.

So, three months before Iraq is due to have its first free elections in thirty years (or is it since ever?), Afghanistan has theirs! And a government is freely elected. Not a perfect government, but it HAS to be better than that crock of crap they had before.

And what will happen in Iraq? Surveys of Iraqis indicate they are looking forward to elections and plan to vote despite terrorist threats. So, it looks like they will elect a government, too.

The ultimate outcome of all this is unpredictable. But it cannot be worse than it was.

And as far as civilian casualties are concerned, the number of Japanese, German, French, Chinese, Russian, and Phillipino civilian casualties in WW2 greatly outnumber the entire present-day populations of Afghanistan and Iraq. So what is the verdict? We should never have fought against Japan and Germany because many civilian deaths would result?

And we shouldn't have fought a revolution against the British, either, because of all the civilian and military casualties that resulted. We should still be enjoying our British chains these days, I imagine.

And the complaint that we're getting a more centralized government courtesy of the Republicans? Absolutely correct! But we are headed that way anyway! R's or D's, this country will be a fascist state within a generation (see Leonard Peikoff's "The Ominous Parallels"). So this means we should vote for Michael Badnarik, who will save us? Poppycock. About the only thing Badnarik can do is get arrested for trying to serve papers on the debates because they wouldn't let His Irrelevancy in --- and not even be able to get press coverage of even that! So, get a grip: THE SKIDS ARE GREASED AND WE ARE GOING DOWNHILL. We might as well free a few countries from brutal dictators while we're on the way, IMHO. At least that way we'll have something to comfort ourselves with, even if the Afghans and Iraqis screw up and elect some mullah to be head of state.

Kerry is a Manchurian Candidate in any case: it's very clear HE's the wrong choice.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Last Presidential Debate

I actually couldn't stand to watch the debate. My wife watched it for me, and then didn't tell me a thing about it. Pointless, really. I know how I'm voting and no debate will change my mind. I already know that Kerry's whoppers make Bush's supposed lies look like stone truth.

I am freaking AFRAID of Kerry. His voting record in the Senate, if extended to the Presidency, seems likely to mean striving mightily for a total national gun ban, a single-payer national health-care plan, and the UN involved intimately in our national security decisions, among other socialist things. What he SAYS in the campaign can't necessarily be trusted, but his voting record seems to me to be the REAL John Kerry. And his voting record is downright scary.

I thought Clinton was among the worst Presidents this nation has ever had, and I would prefer HIM back over Kerry.

I am praying for the campaign of GWB to make some sort of difference.

My favorite conspiracy theory has it that Kerry must lose this time, because Hillary must be free to run for President in 2008. I hope that's the case, anyway.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Odoriferous Nobel Prize

My wife came to me this evening laughing about how two scientists had gotten a Nobel Prize for discovering that smells went up into the brain. "How ridiculous," she said. "A million dollars for 'discovering' something that everyone already knew!"

Well, it isn't quite that way it is, as it turns out. What the two scientists, Richard Axel and Linda Buck, discovered, isn't that smells went up into the brain, but they identified the genes that made it possible for the brain to categorize and "remember" odors. The CBS news article said:

"Their genetic work revealed a family of "receptor" proteins in the nose that recognize odors, and they illuminated how the odor information is
transmitted to the brain."

This is quite enlightening, and while their research doesn't have any immediate implications for medicine, it may in time have such.

One thing that really caught my attention, however, was this nugget:

"For two scientists to single-handedly map one of the major human senses is unique in the history of science."
I'll say. They must have been working very closely together indeed for the two of them to "single-handedly" do something.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, I had a birthday today, and man did that hurt. Not really.

What is there to say about getting older? I mean, this happens every day anyway, not just when one takes the time to mark a specific milestone. I had actually thought that, absent the onset of a given sickness, that getting older just involved a general decline in all faculties until the engine of life just shut down. An older acquaintance of mine, a good and noble man named Dan Devoe, did just that. He was generally healthy, but spent the last twenty years since I first met him, gradually getting older and slower. Not that he was "in decline," exactly. He just slowed down to a stop. His funeral was last month, and he had over 80 years behind him when he went. Not a lot of suffering, either.

Now, I have always been in generally good health, and even counting the fact that I am a good 100 pounds overweight, feel pretty good. But I had noticed some slowing down. I've always been willing to sit still and be sedentary, but now it seemed positively virtuous to do nothing. And this bothered me. I've actually been putting off doing something about it for a few years (I'm a master of procrastination).

After it became clear that procrastination was doing me no favors, I finally broke down and did something about it. So, off I went and bought a membership in Gold's Gym and started working out. Now, this is positively atypical of me. I've never been athletic. Even after finished Basic Infantry Training in the Army, when I was arguably in the best physical condition of my life, I wasn't really interested in physical fitness, and the sooner we stopped exercising the better.

However, after thirty or forty minutes walking at a good clip on the treadmill, I find myself having to force myself to stop. It feels so good! I couldn't start up at this rate, however. My first day was 10 minutes on a stationary bike, and I was really puffed out afterwards. And the bike was set at the lowest level of resistance. During the next few weeks, I ramped up the time and effort, switching to the treadmill for greater variability, and now, although I am not exactly running, I am doing a very fast walk for up to forty minutes. One day, I worked for thirty minutes and spent the last five minutes actually jogging. This was a bad idea, however, because my calf muscles were really hurting for days after that.

All this physical activity has had interesting effects on my body and mind, all positive, so I shan't complain. I think it might be a way of forestalling inevitable decline, if I am to be so blessed as to simply slow down as I get older, and not come to some painful and catastrophic stop. Even in that event, it turns out that physical exercise is fun. Who would have thought?

I did worry just a teensy bit that I would look peculiar in the gym along with all the athletes and trim-fitters I was sure I would find there, but it turned out that lots of people there have couch-potato pasts, and some of them not as past as others. So, I don't look much out of place at all, after all.