Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Latest from the Kolokolo Bird:

I have enjoyed the works of Rudyard Kipling since before I could read.  I remember his "Just So Stories" being read to me and my nursery school classmates, just before nap time, by our teacher, Miss Suzy.  Since that time, I have read, and re-read, hundreds of his literary works over the years.

And, going through my father's papers and personal effects, I recently found that Dad had chosen a Kipling quotation for the epigraph on his college yearbook page.

Kipling was and is, in many ways, the antithesis of what today would be called the Liberal philosophy, and I have had, thus far, a few incidents of disapproval from some of my leftward-leaning colleagues at the University regarding my various invocations of Kipling quotations.

But I enjoy Kipling, and find him relevant in both the philosophical and literary sense.

The New York Times (which I will admit to reading on occasion, but which usually is put to better use as a birdcage liner) reports:

"15,000 Crocodiles Escape From South African Farm"

"About 15,000 crocodiles escaped from a South African reptile farm along the border with Botswana, a local newspaper reported Thursday."

"Driving rains forced the Limpopo River over its banks on Sunday morning near the Rakwena Crocodile Farm. The farm’s owners, fearing that the raging floodwaters would crush the walls of their house, opened the gates, springing the crocodiles, the report said. About half of the reptiles have been captured, with thousands still on the loose."

The Kipling angle on this one is quite obvious.  "The Elephant's Child" from his "Just So Stories!"

[For those of you raised on the late 1900's or early 2000's anti-Eurocentricity school curricula and thus deprived of Kipling's poetry and prose, the "Just So Stories" were composed by Kipling to answer (in a very nonscientific tall tale style) his very young daughter's questions as to how certain world phenomena came to be.  "The Elephant's Child" story explains how elephants came to have long trunks.

The overly-inquisitive Elephant's Child in Kipling's story wanted to know what crocodiles ate for dinner.  The kolokolo bird advised the Elephant's Child to "'Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out."  This was the set-up for the plot of the story.].

Well, now there are thousands crocodiles in the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River!  What would the kolokolo bird say about that?

And, given the real life dangerous propensities of crocodiles, it would not be surprising in the least if the next species to go swarming out on the loose were to be lawyers.

Not alligators, but Litigators!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recycling, Composting and Manure

I have long been an environmentalist.  No, not THAT kind of environmentalist!  I mean a REAL environmentalist!

I have been recycling glass, plastics and paper, and composting vegetable matter in my garden, for well over 40 years.

At some time between the administrations of Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, the Leftists hijacked the cause of a clean and healthy environment.  And, if there be full disclosure, I myself bought off on that perverted version of it during my liberal days.

But part and parcel of my disillusionment with the Left included (but in no way was limited to) the fact that the facts didn't jibe with the rhetoric.  Some of the most significant environmental legislation was enacted during the Nixon and Ford administrations, for example.  And, unfortunately, Ronald Reagan's one major failing was his forsaking of the Republican Party's pro-environment stance.

I remember, for example, that when I was in kindergarten and elementary school,  I would collect empty soda bottles and redeem them at the grocery store -- 2 cents for the small ones (10 oz or 16 oz) and 5 cents for the larger ones.  They were ALL glass in those days, the polyethylene terephthalate plastic not yet having been put to its now familiar use in beverage containers.

But then, one day, the grocer declined to redeem a bottle I presented to him.  He showed me that the bottle bore the legend "No Deposit No Return."  Someone realized that by altering the design of a soda bottle so that it didn't use as much glass, it was cheaper to use brand new bottles each time, instead of having to clean and sterilize the returned ones.  The beverage bottlers caught on, and no longer conditioned the sale of their wares upon the return of the bottles.  The consumer would just throw the empty glass bottle into the trash, and it would go to the landfills with the rest of the trash.  Beverage purveyors were actually boasted of "No Deposit No Return" in their advertising.

But a while later, someone realized that just because the environmental cost of the bottles in the landfills doesn't appear anywhere on the beverage industry's balance sheet doesn't mean that there is no environmental cost.  And as the municipalities found that the taxpayers were in fact bearing the cost of the exhausting landfill capacities.  And so, the various states began to enact beverage container return statutes.  As one who regularly returns the beverage containers to the reverse-vending machines, this suits me fine.

And, of course, I put my recyclables out at the curb on collection days.  Where I live, it is paper and cardboard one week, and plastic, glass and metal cans the other week.  Once New York enacted the beverage return law, which was shortly after my wife and I relocated here, there was a noticeable (though by no means complete) reduction in the beverage container litter on the roadways and in the parks, et cetera.  My then 7-year-old son took to collecting the returnable bottles in order to supplement his income.

And so, today, I went to the Post Office.  Our Post Office has its regular wastebaskets, and also the blue Paper Recycle containers which bear the recycle legend and logo.  While going through my stack of mail, the janitor came by with his wheeled trash can, making his 1:00 PM rounds to empty the trash.  I stood to the side so that he could access the wastebasket beneath the counter where I was sorting through my mail.

Noticing the pile of papers from the junk mail and other extraneous cellulose matter from the contents of my P.O. Box, he asked me, "Is that trash?"

"It's for the paper recycle," I answered.

"Don't worry about it," he told me.  "I just put it all in the can and it all goes into the same dumpster!"

Query:  Why should I bother to take the time to bust my beitzim separating the recyclable from the non-recyclable if it all gets put into the same trash bin and goes to the same dump or incinerator?

At my local Post Office, all of the pretenses of recycling to protect the environment are a bunch of manure!

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Gunning for Tax Credits

Representative Rosa DeLauro, from Connecticut's 3rd District, has introduced H.R. 226 in the 113th Congress. Raul Grijalva, from Arizona's 3rd District, is the co-sponsor.

H.R. 226 would give a $2,000 tax credit to those who surrender their so-called "assault weapons" to law enforcement authorities.  The tax credit is refundable, which is to say that if the tax owed is less than the credit, the IRS cuts a check to the taxpayer claiming the credit (there are some tax credits which are limited to the amount of tax owed, and are not refundable).

The bill's main flaw (other than being an unabashed attack on our Second Amendment rights) is that the weapon must be "legally possessed" in order for the credit to be claimed.  One must wonder how this poorly conceived legislation will do anything to remove the illegally possessed weapons from hands of criminals.

The other problem is that it is a tax measure.  If the Internal Revenue Code needs to be simplified, adding another provision to it is counterproductive.

Besides, taxation corrupts!  It is not difficult to envision all kinds of so-called "tax shelters" to game the system with this one.  Surely an item that technically conforms to the bill's definition of a specified assault weapon (the proposed legislation does not seem to require that the weapons be operative) can be manufactured and distributed for significantly less than $2,000, purchased, and turned in to the law enforcement authorities.

And while the laws enacted by Congress can be violated, the laws of supply and demand are inviolate.  Enactment of this tax credit provision will drive up the price of the guns, thereby increasing the profit margins in their manufacture.  How would that remove guns from society? [I know, I know.  The registration requirements, according to the gun-grabber advocates, will prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.].

The bill is bad policy all around.  The tax pundits do not expect this bill to come out of committee (though nothing is a sure thing under the Dome in Washington).

The legislation should be shot down!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

France Says, France Does

It has been a long day, so I'll just put through this quick posting and then hit the sack for some much-needed sleep.

Excuse me, but howcum it is okay for France to do a military action against Muslim terrorists in Mali, but the French are so quick to condemn Israel for its own military actions against Muslim terrorists in Gaza?

Over and Out!

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Rest in Peace, Richard -- Or Not!

There are two ways (at least) of viewing the late Richard Ben Kramer, the Pulitzer Prize laureate journalist who died on 7 January 2013.  The MSM obituaries praise his brilliant journalistic talent, and point to his political campaign and sports writings as exemplars for the Fourth Estaters.

But Richard Ben Kramer's writings also gave aid and comfort to the downtrodden unfortunate darlings of the Left, the so-called Palestinians.  During some of the active conflicts such as the Yom Kippur War, RBK went in to write about the sufferings of those people, in a way which somehow blamed if not criticized Israel for defending itself, nay, even existing.

Accordingly, he can be viewed either as (1) a true humanitarian who genuinely believed that some empathy and understanding could bring about peaceful co-existence; or (2) a self-hating Jewish dhimmi useful idiot.

Quite frankly, I remain undecided.  The reason I give RBK the benefit of a concededly tenuous doubt is that I recall one article, after a series of Israel-bashing ones, which, for a change, was sympathetic to the Jews who could not leave Damascus, where their families had lived for hundreds of years and who were oppressed by the Assad regime in Syria.

While my assessment of RBK's intent is undecided, I can state, without reservation, that whether through design or ill-advised ignorance, RBK's hands have some sprinkles of the blood of the thousands of Jews, Israeli and otherwise, killed by Muslim terrorists in the years following RBK's Middle East reporting junkets.

G-d will decide whether Richard Ben Kramer rests in peace or burns in Gehinnom

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Gunning for the Ammo

Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is introducing legislation to require the same background checks for the purchase of ammunition as are required for the purchase of firearms.

Were it were not part of the current gun-grabbing agenda, I might possibly be able to support it.

But, given the rousing support it has instantaneously elicited from the hoplophobes of all stripes, one must conclusively conclude that it IS part of the hoplophobe's plan to abridge everyone's Second Amendment rights.

Blumenthal's implicit argument is that if we control the sale of ammunition, then people who shouldn't have ammunition will not be able to obtain ammunition.

It must be remembered, however, that the people who shouldn't have ammunition are the same people who shouldn't have firearms.  I therefore will posit the query of why is this legislation necessary if the people who shouldn't have ammunition are the same ones who do not have guns.

The hoplophobes must then concede that the law which prohibits the people who shouldn't have guns does not necessarily stop them from obtaining the guns into which the ammunition they illegally obtain is loaded.

Blumenthal's proposed legislation, then, is an effective admission that gun control legislation does not keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

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