Monday, July 31, 2023

Censorship Defined

            Censorship - n. -

A ship captained by tyranny, crewed by fools, carrying a cargo of lies, fortified against thought, yet too flimsy to bear the weight of a word.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Sympathy With The Trads

 Sympathy With The Trads


Years ago, late one Yom Kippur afternoon, I was sitting in the synagogue, waiting for the day to end. Yom Kippur fast goes from evening to evening, so as soon as the sun set, we’d all break fast with a supper. A potluck supper, with objectively mediocre food, but hunger’s the best cook.

I was weary, irritable, and hangry, as usual after a 24-hour fast. Part of the reason for fasting on the Day of Atonement is to get Jews bummed out enough to be sincere when we confess our sins. The rabbi led the congregation through a collective chant of confession-of-sins and plea-for-forgiveness. This business done, there was nothing left but to listen to the cantor sing, and for the sun to set.

I sat and I waited while the planet rotated. The cantor sang in Hebrew. I don’t know Hebrew, so I couldn’t tell what he was singing, but his voice was so beautiful that I could relax and forget about the pain in my stomach. Then he switched to singing in English, and I could hear what he was saying.

At that very instant, as if with the *click* of a switch, my critical intelligence turned on, and it automatically evaluated the truth value of each of his statements. “Well, that’s true... that’s false... that’s interesting... oh don’t be ridiculous... I’ll go along with that... how poetic... that’s true... that’s false... very inspiring... who are you kidding...”

On and on and on! It was like sitting next to a yenta! Only the yenta was inside my head! It was me! O how annoying!

Mind you, I didn’t disagree with those thoughts. They were my thoughts! It’s just that, right then and there, I wasn’t interested in those thoughts! The last thing I wanted to do just then was to speculate in theology and philosophy. I just wanted to listen to the pretty music!

Then the cantor switched back to Hebrew, and *click*, my critical intelligence switched off. O blessed relief! I basked in the beauty of his song awhile. Then he switched back to English. *Click!* My suffering resumed.

Back and forth and back and forth! Soon I was truly repentant. Is that what I sound like? I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I’m so judgmental! Forgive me for being so opinionated!

It was a... learning experience...

Then, hallelujah, the sun set, the service ended, and we all got up and rushed over to the next room, where a mediocre potluck feast awaited. It was delicious and satisfying.

I hear that Traditionalist Catholics object to the Vernacular Mass, sung in the common language, that the entire flock can understand. They’d rather return to the Latin Mass, sung in a language that they don’t understand, so they can hear the music and not the religion. I sympathize.

But though I sympathize with the Traditionalists, I nonetheless approve of the cantor’s bilingualism. It made me suffer from my own analytic mind’s yenta-ness, but that suffering made me become a better person, and a better yenta.



Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Something About Something

            Something About Something


Once I helped my nephew Andrew snap together a plastic pteranodon toy. When we finished he gazed adoringly at me and said, “Uncle Nat, you know everything!”

“Not everything,” I demurred, “just something.”

“About what?” he asked.

“Excellent question,” I replied zennishly.

“About what?” he repeated, louder.

I asked his mom, “Wasn’t that a good question?”

Susan said, “Yes, it was.”

Andrew yelled, “ABOUT WHAT?”

“I know something about something.” He turned away in disgust, and I laughed. “That’s the most honest answer you’ll ever get, kid!”


Monday, July 24, 2023

My Credo

        My Credo


I believe that two plus two equals four. Not five, not even if you bribe me, nor three, not even if you threaten me. Two plus two is four, neither more nor less, anywhere, everywhere, forever and ever, amen!

I believe that energy, momentum and spin are conserved. I believe that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, except near the poles. I believe that entropy in a closed system increases to a maximum. I believe that water flows downhill, and you can’t unscramble an egg. I believe that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I believe that work expands to fill the time allotted. I believe that employees in a hierarchy tend to rise to their level of incompetence.

I believe that love of money is evil's favorite motive, and abuse of power is evil's favorite method, and popular folly is evil's favorite opportunity. I believe that power corrupts and freedom creates. I believe that what is now proven was once only imagined. I believe that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

And I believe that all beliefs, including these, must be balanced and tested by doubt, and found to be good for yourself and others.


Friday, July 21, 2023

Thoughts and Prayers to Whom?

           Thoughts and Prayers to Whom?


It is a tradition now long established that each of America’s mass shootings be followed by a ritual call for thoughts and prayers. But thoughts and prayers to whom? To whom are these prayers addressed? What mythic being merits such thoughts and prayers, at a time like that?

The theocrats who make this call claim to speak for the deity known as Yahweh, or Christ, or Allah. But I do not think that being, under any of those names, would appreciate such thoughts or prayers. That would be out of character. All three would disapprove of mass murder not done for revolutionary liberation or national security.

So I doubt that those thoughts and prayers go to Yahweh, Christ, or Allah. So to whom do they go instead?

Several candidates come to mind. Mars, perhaps, or Moloch. How about Pluto, god of death and money? But they don’t need our prayers; they already have our blood sacrifices.

The funny thing about blood sacrifices is that they’re never enough. Churchgoers? So what. Schoolchildren? Ho hum. An outdoor concert? Same old. So what next? A maternity ward? A football game? A gun show? A stock exchange?

Not Congress. They’re safe. There’s nothing left there to desecrate.

Thanos wants to kill half of all life, Sauron likes human sacrifice, and Cthulhu is horrifying; but they’re all niche myths. Satan is lord of evil, which fits, and he has broad name recognition.

So thoughts and prayers to Satan!  #No Lives Matter.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Nuclear Blatancy Day

           Nuclear Blatancy Day


           There are political dangers in a standing army; yet SAC’s power to destroy civilization should not be in the hands of recruits. How, then, do we reconcile citizen armies with nuclear technology?

          Jonathan Schell offers a partial solution in his book, “The Abolition”, which proposes that the USA become a “latent” nuclear power; that is, that it dismantle all actual nuclear bombs, but retain (and indeed strengthen) its ability to swiftly build those bombs.

We keep the know-how and the infrastructure and the fissile materials, but hold off on building the accursed things unless we need them right away. You could call it just-in-time civicide; like taking the bullet out of the rifle over the fireplace. I also call it the “virtual” bomb. Nuclear latency is purified deterrence; a way for America to say to the world that we don’t feel like killing a million people today, so don’t make us want to.

          I like Schell’s idea, but I think it’s incomplete. It’s too rational, it lacks the aura of apocalyptic histrionics so natural to all things nuclear. Also, those virtual bombs need occasional testing, to be credible.

Therefore I offer the following modest proposal: Nuclear Blatancy Day. It’s a nuclear war game, and it works like this:


Participating contestant countries send the following to the U.S.A.:

A “shell”; that is, a nuclear bomb, minus trigger-explosives and fissiles; and sent separate from that, trigger explosives and fissiles;

Blueprints for those nukes;

A modest entrance fee;

And a sizable entrance loan.

The shell, the explosives and the fissiles are given with careful ceremony by participant countries to the U.S.A. via their elite military forces. The entrance fee defrays America’s game-hosting expenses; and return of the loan depends upon the kilotonnage of the nukes.

Some American citizens will compete for prizes by submitting their own shells and blueprints. The Defense Department will provide explosives and fissiles.

Shell, explosives and fissiles then go to the test site, where there are glove boxes, deep shafts, and reporters with video cameras. On Trinity Day, high-ranking representatives from the participating countries arrive at the test site, to witness the results personally.

Also on hand are American contestants, reporters, politicians, marching bands (pro-bomb) and satirical giant-puppet troupes (anti-bomb). Both groups are welcomed as essential components of the inherently mixed message being sent that day.  Politicians speak smoothly in praise of the People’s Bomb; a grandmother from Hiroshima pleads passionately for peace.

One of the speakers is a “holy fool”, who wears motley, and whose job is to question, warn, bewail, criticize, satirize, mock, castigate, and curse the assembled heads of state for their nuclear ambitions.

Each country’s team assembles their nukes in the glove boxes, under close surveillance by Americans. These nukes then go to the bottom of the mine shafts. The mine shafts are sealed off.

The countdown starts. Five, four, three, two, one, zero! Suddenly the earth quakes, and new craters collapse in the desert. The marching bands cheer, the puppeteers boo, and the foreign dignitaries look at each other nervously. Technicians announce yields; the winning contestants get scholarships and job offers; and the dignitary from Japan politely tells the other dignitaries that these Americans are indeed as crazy as they look, so don’t mess with them!

The heads of state attend a banquet, then go home.

All countries whose nukes do not achieve the kilotonnage goal forfeit their loans. The winning countries get back their loans, and the forfeited loans are distributed evenly among the winning countries and the U.S.A.

Entrance loans are also forfeit if the nukes cause damage to the test site by exceeding the kilotonnage limit.

The blueprints, and the glove-box footage, is distributed, unedited, to the winning countries and the U.S.A.

In addition to the loans, there may also be prior treaties whose terms depend upon the kilotonnage of the nukes. These “side bets” may cover exchanges of money, territory, alliances, trading arrangements, and other considerations that would otherwise require a war to settle.

          The point of the exercise is to impose order upon chaos via games and ritual. Nuclear war games are “virtual” nuclear wars; they have all the physical ferocity of nuclear war, but with zero casualties. This maximizes witnesses, and consequent political point. It is given full global media scrutiny, with blueprints shared by the winners, in order to reduce uncertainty to a minimum; for the greatest terror is the unknown.

          Unassembled nukes, with shell, trigger and fissiles stored separately, are “virtual” nukes, which all participating countries have by definition. Virtual nukes are reliable once they are tested in a virtual nuclear war. Unlike assembled nukes, virtual nukes do not threaten a first-strike attack; yet they resist first strike. It’s hard to nuke a nuke that isn’t there yet. So it’s best to not wake the dragon!




Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Letters of Marque and Reprisal

            Letters of Marque and Reprisal


In response to Trump's assassination of Soleimani, Iranian state TV announced an 80 megabuck bounty on Trump. There is precedent for warfare by assassinations. Hassan-i Sabbah founded the Asāsiyyūn (أساسيون, meaning "people who are faithful to the foundation [of the faith]"), from which we get the word "assassin".

          If Trump wanted a war of assassinations, then he should have first asked Congress for a Letter of Marque and Reprisal. Congress has this power by Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution. Technically such letters are for sea raiders, but I modestly propose issuing them to mercenaries and assassins in general, to deal with terror threats too small to settle by warfare, and too big to settle by police work.

          My inner brat smiles at the prospect of a war of assassinations. May the ruling classes kill each other and leave the rest of us alone! But my inner geezer fears the chaos that assassination warfare causes.

          Sure, it's annoying that our misrulers hide behind the people, and call dissidents cowards for objecting to being their human shields. But this craven custom exists for a reason; namely, that rich powerful psychopaths do nasty things when their money is threatened, but they do even nastier things when their lives are threatened.


Tuesday, July 18, 2023






          Under United States Federal Law, a Corporation is called a Person,

          AND WHEREAS:

          Under United States Federal Law, Persons found guilty of committing certain heinous crimes may incur the penalty of death,


          That under United States Federal Law, Corporations found guilty of committing certain heinous crimes may incur the penalty of death.



          Definition of Discorporation


          In Discorporation, the officers of the state force a Corporation to stop functioning. No human Person is to be harmed in any way, except in being deprived of a functioning relationship with the legally-deceased Corporation.

          In a Discorporation, the State shall:

          Repudiate the condemned Corporation’s franchise,

          Deny it all standing in any court of Law,

          Seize its assets, records and property,

          Halt its commercial activities,

          Close its production facilities,

          Dismiss its employees and managers,

Destroy, in public ceremony, a copy of the condemned Corporation’s identifying logo or symbol,

And declare the Corporation Legally Dead.



          First Dibs


          Discorporation is targeted at the criminal Corporation, not at those amongst its human servitors who are innocent of its crimes. Nonetheless, loss of corporate economic support can cause human hardship. To soften the blow, be it resolved that the first claimants to an executed Corporation’s assets shall be its innocent human servitors; each of whom shall receive one year’s worth of the Corporation’s median salary; or if that be impossible within the limits of the assets seized, all shall receive equal shares.



          Just Cause


          Corporations, being legal Persons, may be put to death for the same high crimes for which human Persons may be executed. These crimes include:






          and Treason.






          Critique of this Law


          A Discorporation is the fictional death of a fictional Person at the hands of the State; with violence, pretense and power thus woven into the very fabric of this instrument, it is clear that great evils may result from its misuse. Beware!

          The fundamental flaw of this law is that it may be applied to the wrong Corporations. In this imperfect world, such errors can and do often happen; and the death penalty, by nature, cannot be rescinded once imposed. Therefore this law, if accepted, will on occasion mean tragic and irremediable miscarriages of corporate justice; just like the death penalty for humans.

          Therefore doubt this law!



          Logical Conclusion



          that if

          Discorporation is not acceptable in the eyes of the law

          and if

          all persons are equal in the eyes of the law

          then either

          Coporations are not Persons in the eyes of the law

          or else

          the law does not accept death as a valid penalty.




Monday, July 17, 2023

The Federal Receipt

The Federal Receipt

a Modest Proposal


I propose that there be a Federal Receipt. This Receipt is to be mailed to each taxpayer soon after April 15; detailing, for each taxpayer, both taxes received, and how much of those funds went to which federal program. It would look something like this:



Dear Joe Blow:

We got from you:

Income tax:                  $ X

Social Secuity:             $ X

other taxes:                  $ X

total:                            $ X


We will spend that on:

Interest payments:       $ X

Social Security:           $ X

Medicare:                   $ X

Medicaid:                   $ X

DOD:                           $ X

... (many more) ...

Total:                            $ X


Difference = deficit:    $ X



The spending receipt entries will equal total taxes taken, times respective fractions of the federal budget. How far to break it down is a matter of politics. Let’s say, just enough detail to cover a side of a page. No doubt the political parties will quarrel over details. The point is to clarify and demystify. Let the general public be more accurately aware of our nation’s true budgetary priorities. Such a receipt will, for instance, dispel the popular illusion that NASA or foreign aid are major programs in federal terms.