Monday, March 05, 2012

Politics and Tree Haters

There are two famous trees a couple miles from our apartment, called The Senator and Lady Liberty. I mentioned a while back that we had gone to visit them and took a couple pictures. They are supposed to be a couple of the tallest and oldest trees in Florida, although both were snapped off in a hurricane in 1925. The largest, The Senator, is estimated to be 3,500 years old.

The Senator
I think I also mentioned that a few days after that photo was taken, The Senator had burned to a stump for some unknown reason that most definitely was not deliberate. Every news article had the obligatory quote from some government official that while the cause was still not known, what was known was that the fire was natural, possibly lightning (even though there hadn't been any in some time) or maybe even the wind rubbing a couple branches together.

But with this being Florida and all, you know the real story is going to involve not just stupid people, but stupid people and drugs:

In January, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service initially suspected an arsonist, and also believed that lightning could have caused the fire.

However, through Crimeline tips, they learned Barnes and a friend were inside the tree taking methamphetamine.

Agents said Barnes took pictures of the fire and downloaded the images to her cellphone and computer. Officials said she showed people the images, and said "I can't believe I burned down a tree older then Jesus."

I can't believe even a meth-head would light a fire inside a tree, then post pictures on the internet.

Speaking of tree-haters, I did an amended return using the Intuit software I'm considering using for The Tax Geek thing. When it came time to print the paper copies for the IRS, the client and myself, I knew the software would print a full copy of everything. I only wanted copies of what changed, which amounted to about a dozen pages of paper in total. So I went into the appropriate screen, spending several minutes deselecting all the unnecessary worksheets and forms, did a print preview to make sure of what I was printing, hit the Print button and watched as a three-inch stack of paper came spewing out my printer. Nice.

Why do you hate the planet, Intuit? Why?

I've been trying to stay away from politics, mainly because the entire "conversation" completely misses the point on every subject. I find the entire process not just sickening, but a waste of time I could use to do something more productive, like watching South Park reruns. A perfect example is the current kerfuffle kicked up by one Sandra Fluke, a law student at Jesuit-run Georgetown, who has recently discovered her inalienable right to birth control paid for by someone else. The "conversation" is largely about Ms. Fluke's inability to keep her knickers on vs. her right to be the Georgetown Slut. Jerry Pournelle attempts to steer the conversation back to what is important:

Sandra Fluke’s solution is to demand that taxpayers pay for her contraceptive pills and devices. She can’t afford to have sex because of the risk of pregnancy, and it is up to us to provide her with the wherewithal for contraception. She hasn’t spoken about protection from STD’s but I think it safe to assume she believes we ought to pay for her insurance for treatment of those when they fail. Of course there are contraception means that are also somewhat effective against STD’s, and they are considerably cheaper than the ones Sandra Fluke demands; but apparently the choice of what we pay for is not up to us. Sandra Fluke has a right to indulge in sex when and however she wants, and to the means of contraception that she wants, and it is up to the taxpayers to pay for it.

The real question here is simple: how do you acquire the obligation to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control devices and pills? But in the great flap over her virtue that question seems to have been lost.

This is, of course, the key question regarding a great many things taxpayers pay for. Not can we afford it (an important consideration) or is it constitutional to force people to act against their religious beliefs (another important consideration), but where did I acquire the obligation to be forced to pay for the easily-known consequences of the actions of others? That is the question in nearly any political debating point you care to name, yet is completely absent from public discourse.

Which is why I've gone from being politically active, to the point of once running for public office, to near-complete disengagement. It's difficult to come up with the correct answers, when one is not even allowed to ask the correct questions.

In any case, I'm off to get ready for a short day at work. This weekend, I'm working extended hours to move all the books and other debris out of the way of the carpet people, then move it all back once the new carpet is on the floor. If this goes as well as the painting project did, the library will end up being closed for three weeks instead of three days. Wish me luck.

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