Michael Bloomberg Goes To Heaven

I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.   - Michael Bloomberg

 

Michael Bloomberg died and approached the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter looked up from a thick book, and said, “A lot of people have been looking forward to this moment, Mayor. Go right in.”

Heaven was loud. There was music playing in the distance to his left, and gunshots going off to his right. He turned right and started walking.

He soon reached a shooting gallery, and was appalled at what he saw. Hundreds of people were carrying guns, and shooting at targets at the end of a large field. The targets were moving, and on closer examination, he saw they were people. Saddam Hussein was there, along with Osama Bin Laden and Stalin and Mao and dozens of rough looking people he couldn’t identify. They were trying to dodge bullets, hiding behind rocks and sparse cover. Every time they ducked behind a rock it disappeared after a few seconds, leaving them exposed. As he watched in horror, a bullet hit Osama in the throat, knocking him over, as one of the shooters exclaimed, “Got him!” Osama screamed, then dropped to the ground. His body quivered, convulsed, and then he died.

Ten seconds later, he came back to life, shivered a bit, and then started dodging bullets again.

The tiny mayor had seen enough. He turned and headed toward the music.

It was some kind of festival, in a park that seemed to go on forever. On stage, Freddy Mercury was belting out a song. Behind him, Ray Charles was pounding the keys of his baby grand, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Duane Allman were trading guitar licks, and Keith Moon was playing the drums. The music was loud. Very loud.

The little man was watching the dancers who had gathered at the front of the stage, when Farrah Fawcett walked up to him. She looked like an angel. She held out an open box of cigars – Cuban Montecristo #2s – and said “Take One.” He hesitated, then declined. He noticed several people smoking them, filling the air with slightly bluish smoke.

There were waiters everywhere, passing out a variety of food, drinks, and smokes. One was offering everyone very, very large cups of soda.

He had seen enough. He stormed back to the gate where St. Peter was having a discussion with someone. “Peter!” he shouted. “I demand to see God right now!” Peter shrugged and snapped his fingers.

The gate faded, and Bloomberg found himself sitting in an office. The man behind the desk looked like a combination of George Burns, Morgan Freeman and Brian Dalton, with just a touch of Alanis Morrissette. He looked at Bloomberg and said, “What can I do for you?”

“I don’t mean to complain,” said Bloomberg, “But people are doing things that are just…not right.”

God leaned back, a trace of a smile on his face, and said, “Please, go on.”

“We need some rules,” said Bloomberg. “We have to help people make the right decisions. For instance, in New York City we didn’t allow dancing without a cabaret license.”

God said, “So you’d like to see some rules put in place? Very well.” God snapped his fingers. A sheet of parchment and a quill pen appeared on the desk in front of him. He looked at the quill and said, “Michael Bloomberg’s Rules.” The quill scratched across the top of the parchment, writing The Almighty’s words in perfect calligraphy.

“No dancing without a cabaret license,” said God, and the pen danced and wrote The Lord’s command. He looked up and said, “What else?”

“No alcohol served without a liquor license.”

“Done,” said Jehovah, and the pen moved across the page.

“And no tobacco in public places, it’s disgusting. And no e-cigarettes in public either.”

“OK,” said God, and the pen did its thing.

“No loud music without a permit. And no guns. And no soft drinks bigger than sixteen ounces.”

God nodded as the pen wrote it all down. He asked, “Anything else?”

“That will do for now, I guess,” said Bloomberg.

“Ok, I’m going to add one more thing. These rules will be in force for one billion trillion years, sixteen eternities, twenty-seven forevers and eleven thousand years after that. I like David Bromberg.”

Bloomberg had no idea who that was, but said, “Thank you.”

“You are not allowed to bother me again until that amount of time has passed. Agreed?”

Bloomberg nodded.

God smiled. Well, smirked. Then he snapped his fingers. A lit Cuban Montecristo #2 appeared in his hand. He took a long drag, then blew the smoke in Bloomberg’s direction. Bloomberg resisted the urge to lecture God on the dangers of second hand smoke. Instead, he asked, “How soon will these rules go into effect?”

“They’re in effect right now,” God said. He took another long puff on his cigar, then held it up and examined it. “This,” he said, “This, is proof that I exist.” The office faded to gray, and Bloomberg was back in the park.

Nothing had changed. The music was still loud, the people were still dancing, and quite a few of them were smoking Cuban Montecristo #2s.

He was thirsty, and grabbed a bottle of soda from a passing waiter’s tray. The waiter stopped and grabbed it back. “Sorry, Mayor, but that’s a 17 ounce bottle. You can’t drink that.”

“OK,” said Bloomberg, “Give me a small one.”

“That is a small one,” the waiter said. “That’s the smallest we have here in heaven.” He walked away, laughing.

The band was still playing, and they were still too loud. But the music was great, and he found himself moving to it, just a bit. Suddenly, his feet froze to the ground and the rest of his body was locked in position. He had to relax completely before he could move again.

Another waiter walked by, with a tray full of single malt scotches. He pointed, and said, “I’ll take one of those.”

“Sorry,” said the waiter, “you don’t have a license.”

“I don’t need a license, you idiot, you need the license.”

The waiter laughed and moved away quickly.

Other waiters passed, carrying trays full of  forbidden foods. He made several attempts to grab some, but his fingers always closed on empty air while the waiters laughed and laughed.

He searched the crowd for Ferrah, and finally found her. “I’ll take one of those,” he said, pointing at the cigars. She laughed at him.

“Now you can’t have one, Mr. Mayor.”

“But everyone else is smoking them. And eating things they’re not supposed to be eating and drinking what they’re not supposed to be drinking. Why? God said those rules would go into effect instantly.”

“Oh they did,” she said, still laughing. She held out her hand and the list appeared in it. She handed it to him. “Read it.”

He read it. When he was done, he looked puzzled. “I don’t understand,” he said.

She giggled. “Read the first line, out loud.”

“Michael Bloomberg’s Rules.”

She smiled at him, waiting for him to figure it out.

He figured it out. “Wait, you mean these rules are only for me?”

“Yes! Why should you spoil everyone else’s fun?”

Bloomberg heard laughter coming from all directions. He looked up. They were all laughing at him.

“Oh, one more thing,” said the angel, and she reached out and lightly touched his ears.

The music died. There was nothing left of it but a faint whisper, just enough to make him long to hear it again. But he could still hear the laughter clearly.

“Wait!” he yelled at the crowd, waving his list at them. “This isn’t fair! This isn’t what I wanted! I do not intend to be laughed at for an eternity!”

“Sixteen eternities,” Ferrah said, striking the pose that had once graced twenty million bedroom walls. “A billion trillion years, sixteen eternities, twenty-seven forevers and eleven thousand years after that. But there’s always Thursdays.”

“Why, what happens on Thursdays?”

“On Thursdays you’re a target in the shooting gallery.”

The laughter became unbearably loud.

Share

Wrong Thinking People Should Not Be Employed

I’m a strong supporter of gay rights. No, scratch that, I’m a strong supporter of human rights, and last I checked, gay people are human. I’m also certain that 90% of the problems in the world are caused by people who won’t mind their own damn business. How someone amuses themselves with their genitals is none of my business. Or yours.

But recent events have left me with…wait for it…a bad taste in my mouth. The movement has gone from reasonable demands for equal treatment to appalling demands that wrong thinking people should not be employed.

A review for those who haven’t been following the story: Mozilla promoted Brendan Eich, who co-founded the company, to the position of CEO. Six years ago, he contributed $1,000 to help pass California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage. There was no evidence of him ever discriminating against a gay person, at Mozilla or anywhere else, but that didn’t stop activists from calling for his ouster.

The story went viral when OK Cupid modified their web site to lecture Firefox users about the issue, and suggest they switch to a different browser.

As a result of the growing pressure, Eich resigned from his position, and the company he helped create, after just ten days of becoming CEO.

Wrong thinking people should not be employed.

Then it was discovered the Sam Yeagan, the CEO of OK Cupid, donated $1,000 to a politician that was not only against gay marriage, but wanted to ban abortions and funding for birth control both at home and abroad. Shouldn’t Mr. Yeagan be fired too?

Meanwhile, in Portland, Chauncy Childs is preparing to open Moreland Farmers Pantry, where she plans to sell organic and non-GMO food to people who will eagerly play premium prices for food they imagine is magically better for them. Neighbors were delighted until someone visited her Facebook page and saw she left two posts opposing gay marriage. Two! There was no evidence she actually discriminated, or planed to discriminate, against gays, but she was a Wrong Thinking Person.  A boycott was announced, before she even opened the store.

Here’s one of her offensive comments:

Yes, I am a Christian. I believe the Bible. I do not support homosexuality or homosexual ‘marriage.’ Yes, I still love you. Yes, we are still friends. No, I am not judging you. No, I am not condemning you to hell. No, I will not let anyone bully you. But realize that name-calling and stereotyping those of us who stand for what we believe is exactly what you don’t want done to you.

While I disagree with her stance on the issue, that sounds pretty reasonable to me, especially, “No, I will not let anyone bully you.”

But that was offensive to gay activist Sean O’Riordan, who posted a YouTube video calling for a boycott before the store even opened. Chauncy responded by visiting him to discuss the matter. Sean agreed to take down the video if she contributed to a LGBT group. She kept her word, made the donation, and Sean removed the video.

Chanucy released a statement that said, in part:

We would like to reiterate our position that we will not discriminate against anyone in any form. We support diversity and anti-discrimination in all business practices. As a gesture of goodwill we donated $1,000 to the LGBTQ Youth program of the Equity Foundation in Portland. This program supports safe communities for LGBTQ individuals where sexual orientation and gender identity should not be the basis for social alienation or legal discrimination.

But even though he removed the video, Sean is still calling for a boycott. An LBGT group is now harassing vendors who are planning to sell their products in the store, vilifying them on a web page until they refuse to let Chanucy sell their products.

Wrong thinking people should not be employed.

When I buy a hot dog from a street vendor, I have no idea of his position on gay rights. Or abortion or the federal deficit or Obamacare or gun control or global warming or the inerrancy of the Bible. I don’t know if he’ll contribute some of the profits from my purchase to Pat Robertson or the ACLU or the NRA or Media Matters. More importantly, I don’t care, not even a little. It’s none of my damn business. I just want a hot dog. With mustard, relish and onions please.

Yesterday I did quite a few errands. I bought several things from several stores. I don’t know about the politics or religious beliefs or morals or life philosophy of the CEOs of the companies that made the products. Or the owners of the stores where I bought them. Or the clerks who rang me out. I’ve hired people to do varous jobs without checking their opinion on any controversial issue. I only care that they can fix the plumbing or paint the siding or get that damn website to look right. It never even occurred to me that I should refuse to hire them if their personal beliefs don’t perfectly coincide with mine.

I used to hold the position that gays should have civil unions, which would be the same as marriage, but we should reserve the word “marriage” for same-sex couples. Around ten years ago I was debating this position in a forum when someone said, “separate but equal is never a good idea.” He was right. I was wrong and changed my mind.

If someone digs up that old forum exchange, or earlier ones from before I changed my position, should I be prohibited from any good job, forever, because I once held an opinion that was not completely, perfectly, 100% on-board with the cause?

In discussions with people who oppose gay marriage, they’ll often combine the term “the gay agenda” with the phrase “being forced down our throats.” I seldom miss the opportunity to poke fun at their choice of words. But in the light of current events, it looks like they may be right. And I hate that they may be right.

Gay activists, you have a right to equal treatment. If someone is actively trying to case gay people harm, actually doing things with that in mind, you should be doing everything you can to oppose them, and I’ll be there offering moral support. But you most emphatically do not have a right to destroy someone’s life and livelihood because of their thoughts, which are none of your damn business. It is a vile and evil thing to do, and it’s going to cost you the support of people who once cheered for your causes.

People like me.

Share

Common Core Math Problem

Common Core Math Problem

Share

No E-Cigs For You!

More and more smokers are switching from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes. Instead of smoke from burning tobacco and paper, E-cigs provide water vapor infused with a bit of nicotine and flavoring, (Using an e-cig is referred to as “vaping” instead of smoking, and users are referred to as “vapers.”) There is no tar, carbon monoxide, or any of the other chemicals common to cigarettes. The vapor evaporates in seconds, leaving no odor or second hand smoke. They’re available in a variety of strengths, allowing a vaper to control how much nicotine they get (and ratchet it down, over time, if they want to). They’re available in a variety of flavors. The rechargeable versions are much less expensive than cigarettes – vapers can vape for under a buck a day, as opposed to ten bucks a day for most smokers. 

E-cig manufactures carefully avoid making any health clams, including claims about using them to quit tobacco. Most vapers, though, will tell you they quit cigarettes quickly and easily by switching to e-cigs. They’ll tell you they feel much better than they did when smoking cigarettes. Some vapers keep using e-cigs, others use them as a quitting tool. There aren’t many studies on the subject, but there’s little doubt that water vapor with some nicotine in it is far less harmful than tobacco smoke.

Nicotine nannies should be delighted about such an easy, practical way to reduce the harm to smokers. But they’re not. In fact, they are incensed by e-cigs very existence. E-Cigs are being restricted, regulated and outright outlawed. NYC and LA, who have long been in competition to see who could be the biggest nanny city, are treating them like regular cigarettes, banning them from “public” places, including outdoors. The European Union is working on severe restrictions that are designed to be impossible to meet – in other words, banning them. Why? If the nicotine nannies were really interested in public health, they’d be celebrating e-cigs instead of vilifying them. Their reaction to them makes no sense, unless you add in one other factor.

Hatred. NNs hate smoking, and more importantly, smokers, with a blind seething vehemence that makes Klansmen say, “Whoa, might want to dial that back a bit, buddy.” They view smokers as abnormal sub-humans with no self-control or concern for others. They want smoker’s choices to be limited to “quit or die.” Preferably die.

Stanton Glanz is one of the primary leaders of the current anti-smoker movement. He’s spent the last three decades promoting the “denormalization” of smoking and smokers. That’s right, he and his minions want smokers to be seen as abnormal.

LucyPageGaston

Lucy Page Gaston, one of the first Nicotine Nannies.

NNs portray smokers as dirty, evil people who callously poison everyone around them with deadly second-hand smoke. Smartenized people know SHS is the biggest scam since homeopathy, but the NNs have been very successful getting the public to believe the myth, convincing people that the slightest whiff of smoke is deadly. It’s been their primary weapon for instilling fear and hatred of smokers for the past two decades.

E-Cigs makes SHS fears moot, because there is no SHS. Smokers who become vapers can enjoy their nicotine in a crowded, poorly ventilated room and leave behind no smell and no smoke. Now there’s no reason for the masses to hate and fear them, and the NNs are furious about that.
Hatred isn’t their only motivation; they are also driven by profit and power. Nicotine nannieism can be very lucrative. NNs get hundreds of millions of dollars from the Master Tobacco Settlement and from NGOs like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. And NNs love the power, the sheer power, that comes from putting blue-collar bars and restaurants out of business, and harassing smokers at every opportunity.

E-cigs are also a huge threat to the pharmaceutical industry, which makes billions from nicotine replacement therapy (NRT): outrageously expensive and enormously profitable patches and gums and candies. Unfortunately, NRT products are worthless – studies have shown they are less effective than quitting cold turkey – and people are wising up to that. E-cigs, though, are a very effective way of quitting cigarettes, and big pharma doesn’t have a piece of that action.

The NNs are responding with their favorite, time-honored tool: Junk Science. They are making claims that e-cigs are somehow more dangerous than tobacco cigarettes, and desperately funding studies designed to “prove” that e-cigs present a SHS danger. These claims are so ludicrous that the public, which blindly accepted their SHS claims, is responding with laughter.

Like every nanny campaign, they’ve included a “for the childreeeeeeennnnnn” component. The CDC issued a report that said “E-Cigarette use more than doubled among teenagers.” That sounds alarming, until you look at the actual numbers. Use (defined as someone using them in the past month) rose from 1.5% to 2.8%. That, according to their math, is “more than double.”

What they didn’t reveal, until two months later, was that regular cigarette use among teens dropped – by about the same percentage of e-cigs increase.

NNs claim that e-cigs are marketed to kids, but they can’t provide a single example. There are no cartoon mascots or ads directed at teenagers. NNs claim the various flavors are designed to entice kids, because, evidently, adults don’t like strawberry or chocolate or coffee. (I’ve found the various attempts at capturing tobacco flavors in e-cigs are rather nasty, and prefer flavored e-cigs. When I want the taste of tobacco, I’ll smoke a pipe or a cigar.)

There are no health reasons to ban e-cigs. None. The vehement fight against them proves, finally and forever, that nicotine nannies are not motivated by health, not even a little. They are driven is power, money, and most importantly, feeding their hate.

Edited to add:  This quote from one of the nannies banning them in NYC proves the point of this article:  “Gennaro, who co-sponsored the vaping ban, worries that ‘just seeing people smoking things that look identical to cigarettes in subway cars, colleges and public libraries will tend to re-normalize the act of smoking and send the wrong message to kids.’”

He plays the “for the childreeeeennnnnn” card and admits that what really horrifies him is the prospect of smokers being considered normal again.

Share

Update for World of Tanks: The Missing Manual

Version 1.5 of World of Tanks, The Missing Manual is now available. It contains about 20% more content than the first version, and has also been updated to reflect changes in the game.

The version number is now noted on the Intro page. If there’s no version number on your Intro page, you’ve got the old version. You should be able to turn AutoUpdate on and get it delivered to your Kindle automatically. However, the AutoUpdate feature on many Kindle devices has been broken for months. Amazon is “working on it.”

If you bought the earlier version, and it’s not updating, send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the .mobi file, which you can copy to your Kindle via the USB cable.

Share

Work For Me, Or Else!

Loving liberty means standing up for the rights of people you disagree with; people who are doing wrong things for wrong reasons.

Photographer Elaine Huguenin was approached by a lesbian couple who asked her to photograph their wedding. Elaine turned them down. Taking the job, she says, would have been an endorsement of gay marriage, which is against her religion. She was charged with discrimination, and has fought the case all the way up to New Mexico’s Supreme court, which ruled she is guilty of the crime. She wants the case taken to the US Supreme Court.

A wedding photographer and a couple have an employee-employer relationship. The couple is the employer. The left loves forcing employers to hire people they don’t like, but now they’re switching that around, trying to force a potential employee to take a job they’d rather decline.

Here’s a thought experiment for those who side with the couple. Imagine that you’re a photographer in one of the toothless states, where the legal age of consent is 14. You are approached by a Muslim family who is marrying their 14-year-old daughter to a 56-year-old man. The daughter, thoroughly indoctrinated, raises no objections. Like any decent human being, you find this repulsive.

The Muslims leave, and while you’re pondering the best way to handle their request, you get a call from another potential client. They’re having a KKK themed wedding. The bride and groom, both white supremacists, are getting married in sheets. Their band, “The Watermelon Eatin’ Jigaboos,” will be performing in blackface.

Should you be forced to take either of those gigs?

Turning the lesbians away didn’t cause them any harm. Elaine’s beliefs are wrong and bigoted, but she has a right to them. The couple doesn’t have a right to force her to work for them. It really is that simple.

Share

Statheists

Many atheists, myself included, once passionately believed in our religion. We would fiercely defend it against all critics, usually with canned talking points we knew by heart. When doubts started creeping in, we went on serious searches for answers, and were dismayed by what we found. At first we rejected anything that contradicted our beliefs, but as the evidence piled up that became harder and harder to do. Eventually, it became impossible. We left our beliefs behind (and in some cases, all our friends and family as well) in order to embrace reality and more forward.

I find it very discouraging that so many atheists, the majority of them in my experience, are progressives: far-lefties who believe in the state with the passion they once reserved for religion. They reject religious laws as nothing more than words written down by goat-herders thousands of years ago, but have a great reverence for words written down more recently by weasels in suits. They deny that taxes are taken by the threat of force. They talk endlessly about The Social Contract, a construct as imaginary as The Holy Spirit. When expensive Keynesian economic policies inevitably fail, they insist it was only because they weren’t big enough. They love Obamacare. They will do everything they can to eliminate choice in education – fighting against charter schools, private schools, homeschooling and unschooling. They defend Obama murdering American citizens with drones. They denigrate capitalism, always confusing it with the corporatism we have in place in the US. They refuse to admit that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. And they despise the very idea of libertarianism.

The worst example of this is Humanism, which I’ve written about before. Join any humanist forum and leave a few posts that are liberty oriented. Talk about the rights of the individual, the invisible hand, or the advantages of free-market capitalism over socialism, then watch how they react. (Do not try this experiment unless you have a thick skin and flame-proof underwear.)

Progressives have no idea what libertarianism is. They’ve created a voodoo doll caricature of it, and they hate that doll.

The typical libertarian, according to them, is a selfish loner who doesn’t care about anyone else, not even a little. He wants to create a society that will cater to him, while contributing nothing himself. He’d like to live by himself, counting his bullets and his pre-1965 silver coins, only leaving his lair to buy dangerous drugs from vending machines conveniently located on school grounds. On the way, he’ll rub his hands and chuckle as he steps over the corpses of the poor who died in the street for want of food and medical care.

In reality, Libertarians are the same as most other people. We want a happy, productive life full of friends and family, helping out others as much as we can, teaming up with like-minded people to accomplish mutual goals, while being free of violence and coercion. There are only a few things things that separate us from the general population: we recognize that the source of most violence and coercion is the government, we rebel against (and often ignore) stupid laws and we are quite willing to let other people lead their lives as they see fit, even if we strongly disapprove of their choices.

(The term “voluntarist” is becoming popular among the liberty-minded. I like it; it encompasses non-violence, involvement and cooperation in one short word.)

Trying to explain this to a progressive usually a waste of time – it’s like arguing evolution with a fundy. Information on libertarianism is readily available, but they prefer to embrace their ignorance, clinging to it like the religious cling to their gods. Smugly hating the caricature is so much easier than learning the reality.

This is a plea to my friends who are progressive atheists. You know, from experience, how to rigorously examine deeply held beliefs. Please apply that skill set to your political and economic beliefs as well. Ponder the idea of force, and stop denying that it’s the government’s only tool. Figure out how many government “solutions” are responses to problems created by government in the first place. When there is a problem, ask if it can better solved by individuals acting freely, than by government force. Stop making excuses for the failure of Keynesian policies. Consider the idea that free individuals can, as a direct result of acting in their own best interest, create a society of abundance and liberty. Reject the caricatures of libertarians presented by The Daily Kos, ThinkProgress and Mother Jones. Visit Reason, The Cato Institute, and other sites that espouse real libertarian thought. Listen to Free Talk Live to hear real libertarians vigorously debate ideas with each other. Smartenize yourself on the subject. And most importantly, stop trying to force your morals and life-style on everyone else with laws and rules and regulations.

You can do it. Please, give it a try.

Please.

Share