Magical Thinking about Electricity Production


Oh for the…

First you have to find where the coal is. It isn’t everywhere. That takes people (who want to be paid) with equipment (that has to be paid for) to do the searching.

Then you find that the coal is usually on land that someone owns. Digging it up will disrupt other uses of that land. The people who own it will want to be compensated for that. Most convenient way is generally to have the coal miners buy it–which means it will have to be paid for.

Then the coal isn’t just sitting there on the ground. It has to be dug up. That, once again requires people (who want to be paid) and equipment (which has to be paid for). Even if you find coal that is just sitting on the surface it still needs to be gathered by people who, once again, need to be paid, and getting useful amounts will require equipment that needs to be paid for.

Then the coal must be gotten to someplace where it can be used. This, once more requires people (who want to be paid) and equipment, chiefly trucks, trains, ships, and what not (that needs to be paid for).

Coal doesn’t magically produce electricity. Producing electricity requires equipment (that needs to be paid for) run by people (who still insist on being paid).

You have to get the electricity to the folk who are going to use it. This requires a distribution network of cables (which need to be paid for), installed by people (want to be paid) using equipment (that needs to be paid for).

All of this stuff will occasionally have breakdowns and will need to be repaired by, you guessed it, people (who want to be paid) using equipment (that needs to be paid for).

Now here’s the thing.  This guy is ridiculous.  He’s so ridiculous that even the Far Left (actually fully Marxist) “Economic Freedom Foundation” found him too ridiculous and expelled him, leading to him founding the Black First Land First organization.  And his “proposal” here is, as shown above, utterly preposterous.

But as preposterous as it is, it is no more preposterous than any other claims that things that require goods produced by others as well as the labor of others can ever be “free.” Even slaves have a cost–to acquire, to keep, and to keep working on what you want them to work on rather than what they would prefer to do for their own benefit.

All of the talk about something that requires the labor and goods of others being “rights”, and thus should be provided “free” may create a smokescreen of words to hide it, but they all come down to the same impossibility.  Everything that requires goods and services provided by others has to be paid for.

The only question is whether it will be paid for by people engaging in voluntary exchange, or whether it ill be taken by force.

A Grammar Lesson: A Blast from the Past

2nd Amendment

Some people find this confusing:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Mind you, the reason they find it “confusing” is because they desperately want it to say something other than its plain words arranged in a relatively straightforward declarative English sentence.

But for those people, let’s go over it, piece by piece, shall we?

Let’s start with “militia”.  What is the militia?  Put simply, the militia is the people when they take up arms to defend themselves, their communities, their States, and their nations.  Being part of the militia does not require being in a government-run organization.  It does not require drawing a government paycheck.  It is simply defined by what they do.

This was made quite clear by folk writing in the general time when the Second Amendment was written.  As just one example we have the following:

“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American… The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.” – Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

The militia are the people.  They are you and me and the person down the street.  To repeat, they are whoever might take up arms in defense of themselves, their community, their State, or their Nation.

“But,” some will say, “the meaning of ‘militia’ has changed since then.” That might be, but in a legal document, and the Constitution is a legal document, the ultimate legal document from which all laws in the US derive their authority, one does not unilaterally redefine terms.  The terms retain the meaning they held when the legal document went into force.

The militia is the people, neither more nor less.

Then there’s “well-regulated”, which, at the time the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written did not mean controlled by the government.  And it certainly did not mean drawing government paychecks and under government orders.  After all, the people had just fought, and won independence from, their former government.  And it is quite clear from the Coxe statement above and from other writings (for instance, James Madison in The Federalist Papers 46 described the maximum possible standing army attempting to override the states and the people being met with a militia 500,000 strong; extrapolated to today’s population, that would be like a military about three times the size of the present day’s military being met by over a hundred million armed Amerians) that one of the purposes of the militia was as a check on government, particularly Federal government overreach.  This is not possible if the “well-regulated militia” is restricted to those under government orders.

If, however, you look in a dictionary with good historical usage notes you find that “well-regulated” is a term meaning not “government restricted and controlled” but rather “properly functioning”.  A “well-regulated clock” is one that keeps good time.  I “well-regulated individual” is one with good self control.  And so on.

Thus, “well-regulated militia” means simply a militia that functions property, that can do what needs to be done when necessary.

“a free state”. Not just any State, but a free one, one where individual liberty is paramount, where the rights of those individuals are honored and protected.  The thing to remember also is that “State” at the time wasn’t another word for “provinces”, divisions within a nation.  “State” was a term for a sovereign entity.  We have the term “nation-state”, usually shortened to “Nation” because that’s by far the most common form of statehood, but it’s not the only one.  There have been many an example of city-states in history.   The States that made up the United States were, in  a very real sense individual sovereign nations.  They individually delegated part of their authority–which authority they gained from the people rather than any “divine right of kings”, “mantle of Heaven”, or similar “government is always right” philosophy–to a unified central government.  And this is what made a “free state.”

Note where also the word “secure” appears in the Constitution:  in the preamble:  “to secure the blessings of liberty to yourselves and our prosperity.”  “Security”, thus, is not just the safety of the states from outside forces, but the security, the safety, of the very freedom for their people that made them “free states”.

He who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither freedom nor safety–Benjamin Franklin

What must be protected is liberty itself.  As I discuss elsewhere, the giving up of freedom for safety is a fool’s bargain.  To prioritize safety over freedom is to end up with neither.  To prioritize freedom over safety allows you to end up with a great deal of both.

“arms” means weapons.  Period.  Law dictionaries written about the time the 2nd was written defined arms as “weapons of offense or armor of defense”. It’s open ended.  It’s very open ended.  Deliberately so.

“keep and bear”.  Not just ownership, but carrying.  “Keep” means to possess.  “Bear” means to carry with you.

There’s only one word, left that is subject to deliberate confusion.  “Infringe”.  From the Oxford English Dictionary we have:

VERB infringing, infringed, infringes
1 Actively break the terms of (a law, agreement, etc.)
‘making an unauthorized copy would infringe copyright’
2 Act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.
‘such widespread surveillance could infringe personal liberties’
‘I wouldn’t infringe on his privacy’

Limit.  Encroach on.  These are things that happen at the edges.  Another word for “encroach on” is “trespass.” One trespasses at the border of a property.  You don’t have to wait until they’re sitting in your living room flipping through the channels on your TV before it’s trespassing.

So, let’s put it all together:

A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people, to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Since, to having people ready and able to take up arms to defend themselves, their communities, their states, and their nation is necessary for both to protect those things and to keep their state and nation free, the right of the people to own, possess, and carry with them if they wish, weapons of offense or armor of defense shall not be encroached upon, limited, or trespassed on.

That sentence is longer, but it means exactly the same thing as the former.  It is not a new interpretation invented by the NRA or any other group.  It is what the 2nd Amendment meant when it was written and has always meant since.   The only way to change that is to properly amend the Constitution, which means either 2/3 of the Senate and 2/3 of the House (or a Convention of States called by 2/3 of State Legislatures) to propose an Amendment, and 3/4 of State Legislatures to ratify it.

Anyone telling you differently is either lying to you or uncritically repeating the lies that someone else told them.

Stress Eating, a sort of Feeding the Active Writer post.

I know I’ve been spotty lately in posting to this blog.  There have been things going on that for the most part I don’t talk about here.  And I’ve been struggling with a number of issues.

And that brings me to the topic of this post.  I have a tendency to “stress eat.” Now, when you’re trying to bring your weight under control, while having issues that trigger the stress eating, you run into an issue.  You run into several issues.

One can attempt to just “tough it out” and resist the urge to stress eat but, the urge just grows, adding to the stress, until you finally break and gorge on something, which leads to disappointment and self-disgust which causes more stress, and there you are once again.

It’s enough to make a man snatch off his hat, throw it on the ground and stomp on it.

The trick, I have found, is to find something that satisfies the urge for stress-eating and does so either without breaking diet or not breaking it too badly so that you can continue to make progress once you get past the immediate issues.

To that end I’ve come up with a dish made with riced cauliflower and psyllium fiber powder and…stuff (the stuff varies).  The basic is to bring one and a half to two cups of liquid (more on that in a moment) to a boil, add in three cups of the riced cauliflower, then stir in a tablespoon of the psyllium fiber powder.  Simmer for a few minutes and you have something with about the consistency of oatmeal.  Add a bit more liquid and it’s closer to a soup.

The riced cauliflower provides bulk without adding a lot of calories or net carbs.  The psyllium fiber thickens the liquid giving it more “body”, and also helps with providing bulk so you feel full after eating.  Other stuff can be used to add protein, fat, or even more carbs to match what your daily goals are for your diet.

You can do a lot with it depending on what you do with the liquid and by what flavorings you add.

Use broth as the liquid and add a bit of meat cut into small pieces, some heavy cream to add some fat content and you’ve got a “cream of whatever” soup.

Broth again, a bit more liquid to thin it out a bit, meat bits, some olive or avocado oil for fat, and you have “chicken (or whatever) and rice soup”.

Use almond milk (possibly with some heavy cream to add some fat content) as the liquid, sweetener, cinnamon and maybe some maple flavoring and you’ve got a reasonable substitute for oatmeal.

Add curry powder, turmeric, cumin, and whatever other spices strike your fancy and you’ve got a sort of “curry rice”.

By controlling what you add to the basic cauliflower, psyllium, and liquid, you can go from just a few grams of protein and net carbs to a full-meal’s worth.

And it allows me to self-medicate with food for the various stresses I experience without wrecking my diet too badly.

“Stealing” labor?

Image Credit: pin add / CC BY (

I have heard the various complaints about the idea of self-checkout lines at the supermarket.  They are “depriving” someone of a job.  Or they are “stealing” the labor of the folk using them.

These arguments are basically ridiculous.

Once upon a time, not all that long ago, the way one shopped for groceries was to go to a local grocer, hand him your list, and he’d go back and select produce, canned goods, and what have you, bring it up front, ring it up, take your money and hand you your bag.

Then, someone had the bright idea of opening up the shop, letting people select their own goods and put them in a basket, bringing it to a checkout where it was rung up and you paid and took it out of the store.

Was “requiring” you to go back into the store and get your own produce, canned goods, and boxed goods instead of the grocer, or his help, doing it for you sealing your labor?

When I was a kid, it was common to have someone bag the groceries and take them out to the curb. You’d bring your car up and they’d load the groceries for you. However, while I was still quite young that service went away and you had to do it yourself.

Was making you take your own groceries out to the car and load them up yourself stealing your labor?

I was in my teens before I first encountered the idea of a “buffet” restaurant (a smorgasbord place in Florida).  In one of these, you get up from your table, go to the line, get your own food and take it back to your table to eat rather than have a waiter or waitress do that for you.

Was making you get your own food stealing your labor?

From time to time I’ve gone to “pick it yourself” farms or orchards where you go out into the field and pick your own berries or apples or what have you on your own and then carry it back to pay for however much you cart off.

Was having you go out and pick the produce yourself rather than having someone else do it for you “stealing your labor”?

Mind you, the first two of those things are now being added as a “value added” that you pay extra for, and that’s the key.

Eliminating each of those things, the grocer filling your list and bringing it out to you, and they “bag boy” taking your stuff out and loading it into the car for you allowed grocers to compete on price, reducing the cost making groceries less expensive for the people buying them and folk can be very sensitive to price when it comes to basics like groceries.  One might assume that the money the business saves by having you do the checking out just goes into the owner’s pockets, but that would just leave an opportunity for competitors to set lower prices and “steal” customers.  This is especially true in the places that market themselves as low-cost leaders–exactly the kind of places which are most prone to introduce self-checkout lanes.

There’s another factor as well.  The stores local to me generally have six to eight self-checkout registers in the space that would previously have had two regular lanes. Indeed, the checkout where I do most of my grocery shopping has as many self-checkout lanes as all the regular ones combined. That means that the checkout is more parallel, more people having their purchases rung up at the same time. This means that the lines are shorter.

“Standing in line waiting” is as much “my labor” as running stuff over the sensor while the computer rings it up. From that perspective “self-checkouts” actually reduce the time and effort on my part.

Lower prices, less time spent waiting in line, freeing both  money and time to be spent on other pursuits.  It’s pure win.

“To Protect and Serve”: A Blast from the Past


That’s a motto still sometimes emblazoned on police cars.  It’s a nice thought but there doesn’t appear to be any reality behind it.

The first thing you need to understand is that the police have no obligation to protect any individual.  Even in the special case where the court has issued a restraining order on your behalf the police have no obligation to protect you from the person restrained. This has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

The theory is that police serve to protect “society” rather than individuals.  There’s just one problem with that, what is society without its individuals?  Take away the individuals and show me “society”.

Now, on a certain level they have a point.  The police cannot guarantee each individual’s safety.  They can’t put a 24 hour guard on each individual, not even each individual who has a restraining order against someone.  Can’t be done.  Thus, it would be unjust to make them legally liable for failing to provide that protection.  They can’t always be there.

But there’s a problem with that.  Since they don’t have a legal responsibility to provide protection, many take that to mean that there is no responsibility, legal or moral to even try.  They may not always be there but even when they are there they have no obligation to intervene.  This additional level of lack of concern for the individual was confirmed in New York were police were only a few feet away from a man being brutally attacked at knifepoint until after the victim, thanks to his own training in martial arts (and suffering multiple knife wounds in the process–please consider that those who recommend martial arts training as an alternative to being armed for self defense–he survived but he’ll carry the scars until the day he dies).  Only once the knife wielding attacker was subdued did the police emerge from the motorman’s compartment (on which the attacker had previously banged the door claiming to be a cop so their claims they didn’t know ring a little hollow).

To be blunt, a duty to protect “society” which does not include a good faith “best effort” to protect the individuals that make up that society when they actually encounter situations to do so is nonsense.  It’s not protecting “society”.  At best it’s protecting the regime which seems more the job of a third world dictator’s secret police than the peace officers of a free society.

Without that best effort, “to protect and serve” isn’t even an empty motto.  It’s nothing but a bad joke.

Sarah Hoyt had a good one yesterday over at According to Hoyt:

Hello boys and girls, dragons, minotaurs and tadpoles! There are concepts so obviously and moronically evil, whose proponents use such irrational and ridiculous arguments to defend them, that the only way to comment on them is with gifs. Lots and lots of gifs.

I know you maniacs like it!

This is because when people think closing their minds, ignoring the lessons of history and stomping their little hooves while saying “but I want it” is a rational argument, the only thing a rational human being can do is treat them as they’re acting: like toddlers.

But I want magical democratic socialism. I want it!


More at the source.

Kobayashi Maru?


Kirk, famously, does not believe in the no-win scenario.  Well, I do.  What I don’t believe in is the no-try scenario.  And, frankly, when it comes to self-defense, I don’t believe in the “fair fight” scenario.

If I’m fighting at all it’s because I’m in fear of death or serious bodily injury. In that case, I have not just a right, but a duty to make the fight as unfair in my advantage as possible. I have a little girl waiting at home. She needs her father. She depends on her father for material support, for values education, for a multitude of things. Those things are not just a privilege but a duty. I would be remiss if I did not do everything in my power to come home safely so I can continue living up to that duty.

If that little girl means more to me than my life (she does) then she certainly means more to me than yours, not because I’m a “tough guy” but because I am not and and don’t pretend to be.  I have no interest in trying to prove how tough I am in some display of fisticuffs.  You want to consider me some kind of wimp because I’m not interested in duking it out to see who’s more “macho”?  Fine.  I’m good with that.

On the other hand, you want to put me in fear of death or seriously bodily injury in a situation where I an’t just walk away from it safely?  Well, then you’ve made your choice and will have to live, or not, with the consequences.  You see, my one, my only, goal is getting home safely to that little girl.  My goal become to put you in the no-win scenario.

Challenge that at your peril.