Nuggets of Wisdom

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Introducing "Holiday Treats Advent Calendar"

Many of you had asked if I had planned anything for Christmas the same way I had “Blame The Fright Month” for Halloween. And the answer is: “Eh, sort of!”

You see, I hadn’t actually planned anything for Christmas, but upon request, I decided to have something similar for the holiday season.

Just as with my “Nightly Frights” in October, this December, I will have a different “Holiday Treat” every day until Christmas.

This isn’t going to be as big as my Halloween event, as this is all rather last minute, and sadly, I don’t have any big countdown planned either; but each day, I will be offering something holiday-related whether it be videos, music, or art.

Also, in order to maintain the holiday spirit, I’ve decided to take a break from politics for the rest of the month, though my pony-related posts such as Daily Pony and my Pony Recaps will still commence.

So cozy up by the fire and grab yourself a steaming hot cocoa or apple cider, and join me as I present my Holiday Treats Advent Calendar.

Daily Pony: Magical Mystery Box


Magical Mystery Box by ~DigitalDasherBot on deviantART

Well, Meghan McCarthy did say that Twilight Sparkle would not outlive her friends, and since alicorns seem to be immortal, it only made sense that this meant the others would become alicorns, too.

Or maybe Twilight Sparkle isn't immortal despite being an alicorn. That's plausible too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Ponies!


Thanksgiving Pones by ~FlavinBagel on deviantART

Happy Thanksgiving, everypony! Hope you all have fun with friends and family, and be careful not to eat too much. You need to save room for dessert!

New Pope’s A Dope About Capitalism


It’s times like these that make me proud to be Protestant and not have to surrender my spirituality (if not my critical thinking skills) to the preposterous pontifications propagated by a pious paraplegic of unprecedented privilege—otherwise known as the freaking Pope. (Apologies to all my Catholic followers—all one of you!)

Earlier this week, Pope Francis released his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium in which he decries the tyranny of “unfettered capitalism,” propagating his anti-capitalist, pro-socialist sentiments by perverting Christ’s commandments to aid the poor and needy—as if that requires wealth redistribution through central government planning!

His 84-page anti-capitalist screed—which papal infallibility decrees as coming from the “infallible voice of God”—is far too long for me to refute each and every piece of bogon; but I’ll touch upon one especially egregious papal passage wherein he regurgitates Marxist theory:
Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.
While this worldview is gospel truth to Marxists, especially under Catholic liberation theology, history tells a much different story. Rather than being a tool for the powerful to gain more power, capitalism has allowed the powerless to divert power away from the powerful.

As Ludwig Von Mises explained, prior to capitalism, all wealth was accumulated by the monarchy, whom controlled the means of production and forced the serfs under them to meet their economic needs. This all changed under capitalism, as production shifted from the demands of the wealthy elite to the lowly consumer:
The characteristic feature of capitalism that distinguishes it from pre-capitalist methods of production was its new principle of marketing. Capitalism is not simply mass production, but mass production to satisfy the needs of the masses. The arts and crafts of the good old days had catered almost exclusively to the wants of the well-to-do. But the factories produced cheap goods for the many. All the early factories turned out was designed to serve the masses, the same strata that worked in the factories. They served them either by supplying them directly or indirectly by exporting and thus providing for them foreign food and raw materials. This principle of marketing was the signature of early capitalism as it is of present-day capitalism. The employees themselves are the customers consuming the much greater part of all goods produced. They are the sovereign customers who are "always right." Their buying or abstention from buying determines what has to be produced, in what quantity, and of what quality. In buying what suits them best they make some enterprises profit and expand and make other enterprises lose money and shrink. Thereby they are continually shifting control of the factors of production into the hands of those businessmen who are most successful in filling their wants. Under capitalism private property of the factors of production is a social function. The entrepreneurs, capitalists, and land owners are mandataries, as it were, of the consumers, and their mandate is revocable. In order to be rich, it is not sufficient to have once saved and accumulated capital. It is necessary to invest it again and again in those lines in which it best fills the wants of the consumers. The market process is a daily repeated plebiscite, and it ejects inevitably from the ranks of profitable people those who do not employ their property according to the orders given by the public. But business, the target of fanatical hatred on the part of all contemporary governments and self-styled intellectuals, acquires and preserves bigness only because it works for the masses. The plants that cater to the luxuries of the few never attain big size. The shortcoming of nineteenth-century historians and politicians was that they failed to realize that the workers were the main consumers of the products of industry. In their view, the wage earner was a man toiling for the sole benefit of a parasitic leisure class. They labored under the delusion that the factories had impaired the lot of the manual workers. If they had paid any attention to statistics they would easily have discovered the fallaciousness of their opinion. Infant mortality dropped, the average length of life was prolonged, the population multiplied, and the average common man enjoyed amenities of which even the well-to-do of earlier ages did not dream.
Or as Walter Williams poignantly summarizes:
Capitalism is relatively new in human history. Before the rise of capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering, and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving one’s fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and then produce and market it as efficiently as possible.
This isn’t merely the postulating of two “wacky” Austrian economists. History has proven, time and again, that capitalism, rather than leaving the powerless “without any means of escape,” provides such a means of escape from crushing poverty and oppression.


As this chart shows, global poverty has been on a rapid decline over the past century, especially within the past 30 years under the neoliberalism and globalization spawned by Reagan and Thatcher.

The Economists elaborates:
In 1990, 43% of the population of developing countries lived in extreme poverty (then defined as subsisting on $1 a day); the absolute number was 1.9 billion people. By 2000 the proportion was down to a third. By 2010 it was 21% (or 1.2 billion; the poverty line was then $1.25, the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own poverty lines in 2005 prices, adjusted for differences in purchasing power). The global poverty rate had been cut in half in 20 years.

The country that cut poverty the most was China, which in 1980 had the largest number of poor people anywhere. China saw a huge increase in income inequality—but even more growth. Between 1981 and 2010 it lifted a stunning 680m people out poverty—more than the entire current population of Latin America. This cut its poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to about 10% now. China alone accounts for around three quarters of the world’s total decline in extreme poverty over the past 30 years.
With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that economic freedom correlates heavily with high living standards.

The Pope may claim that there is no evidence to support the tyranny of “free market capitalism,” but when has evidence ever mattered to an antiquated tyrannical institution that has historically suppressed scientific evidence?

We Should Be Thankful for Private Property

While the new dope—excuse me, Pope—Pope Francis is busy denouncing free-market capitalism as a “new tyranny,” John Stossel reminds us all of the suffering the first American settlers faced when they rejected individual property rights:
The Pilgrims started out with communal property rules. When they first settled at Plymouth, they were told: "Share everything, share the work, and we'll share the harvest."

The colony's contract said their new settlement was to be a "common." Everyone was to receive necessities out of the common stock. There was to be little individual property.

That wasn't the only thing about the Plymouth Colony that sounds like it was from Karl Marx: Its labor was to be organized according to the different capabilities of the settlers. People would produce according to their abilities and consume according to their needs. That sure sounds fair.

They nearly starved and created what economists call the "tragedy of the commons."

If people can access the same stuff by working less, they will. Plymouth settlers faked illness instead of working the common property. The harvest was meager, and for two years, there was famine. But then, after the colony's governor, William Bradford, wrote that they should "set corn every man for his own particular," they dropped the commons idea. He assigned to every family a parcel of land to treat as its own.

The results were dramatic. Much more corn was planted. Instead of famine, there was plenty. Thanks to private property, they got food -- and thanks to it, we have food today.

This doesn't mean Pilgrims themselves saw the broader economic implications of what they'd been through. "I don't think they were celebrating Thanksgiving because they'd realized that capitalism works and communal property is a failure," says economist Russ Roberts. "I think they were just happy to be alive."
Let's pray that America doesn't repeat this same sad mistake.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Police State? What Police State?


The vehicles pictured above are MRAPs, or Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles. These 18-ton armored behemoths are fitted with gun turrets and bulletproof glass. Able to withstand roadside bombs, they were designed specifically for use in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

But now that the wars are dwindling down, what is the army to do with these things? Sell them to local law enforcement agencies, of course! And that’s exactly what the Defense Department is doing through a national military surplus program.

Perhaps even more frightening is that one of these MRAPs was sold to the Ohio State University's police department. You think pepper-spraying college students is extreme? Imagine one of these mammoths being deployed to break up college protests. It will make Kent State look like a water gun fight by comparison.

The only thing more frightening that local law enforcement cruising around in these army vehicles is the idea that, one day, they will be so commonplace that no one barely double takes when one of them rolls down the street. It will be no more cause for alarm or even attention than an ambulance or police car passing by.

I can think of no more fitting comparison than that of the slow-boiled frog. If you toss a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will frantically jump out; but if you place it in a pot of lukewarm water and incrementally increase the temperature to boiling hot, the frog will remain as it is boiled alive.

This is why so many Americans remain blind to the ever-growing police state. They don’t see themselves living in a full-blown totalitarian dystopia like 1984. They don’t see their cities encompassed with barbed-wire fences with armed troops patrolling the streets and security cameras on every street corner watching their every move. So they assume they are safe.

They do not realize that the police state is only being put into place. They do not notice it being constructed around them in small increments. And I’m afraid when they finally do notice, it will be too little, too late.

Hyperbole, you say? Perhaps. But I find it hard to consider “reasonable” local police purchasing and using vehicles meant for wartime combat. If you do, then you, my friend, are the frog being boiled alive.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pony Recap: Princess Twilight Sparkle (Part 2)

Well pony fans, the moment you all have been waiting for has arrived. Finally, after all this waiting, we have been graced with Season 4, and the premiere was anything but disappointing.

Many bronies have expressed doubt about how well the show would fare switching hands from Lauren Faust to Meghan McCarthy. If this episode is any indicator, McCarthy is not only a viable replacement for Faust, but someone who vastly surpasses her.

These two episodes provide so much in fleshing out the history and mythology of Equestria, at least in terms of the Elements of Harmony. We still don’t know much about the princesses or Discord or even other relevant characters like Sombra (Seriously, his back story really needs work!), but something tells me that future episodes this season will do just that. (Discord even gets his own song!)

We also saw some more fleshing out of Twilight’s character, especially with her new form, her new role, and the challenges that come with them. Some things have changed, but others will remain the same.

And the art quality…my Celestia, is it gorgeous. Everything from the epic battle between the two princesses to the light shining on the ponies reveals how much the art has improved this season

And if this episode is any indicator, we might very well have a full seasonal story arc on our hooves. The last time we had something like this was in the first season with the Grand Galloping Gala, which was introduced in “Ticket Master,” set up in miscellaneous other episodes, and completed with “Best Night Ever.”

This time around the story narrative may very well extend to more than just the first and last episode. Six locks. Six Keys. That very well could mean at least six more episodes dedicated to this subplot. Only time will tell. But if this episode is any indicator, we are in for a real treat this season.

So without further ado, allow me to present the first two episodes along with my comments on them.

(BTW, I’m experimenting with a new review format. I’m taking a page out of Equestrian Daily’s book and using photos to supplement my comments. And because I’m using so many photos, I’m splitting this recap into two parts, one for each episode.)




Where exactly was Celestia, and why didn’t Twilight notice her until now? Luna was clearly addressing her earlier, and Twilight had been facing towards where Celestia would have been. So what give?


Now in the original pilot, Luna turns into Nightmare Moon after refusing to lower it, which suggests that it was already up to begin with; but here, Luna defiantly raises the moon, changing day into night. So which is it? I guess you could say Luna refuses to lower the moon when commanded, but even then, there are still continuity problems.



Why can’t MLP contain more epic battles like this?


I know this is supposed to be an emotionally-moving scene, but considering how we all know that this is all a vision, the emotions simply aren’t there.



Don't stop, don't stop! We're in luck now!
Don't stop, there's so much to be found.
We can find paradise.
All we have to do is go! Go! Free your soul.
Dragon Soul!


I know Discord was unfazed the last time someone tried to use the Elements of Harmony on him, but you’d think he would be a bit more troubled about someone trying to defeat him.


So the Tree of Harmony is like one of those trees from the crystal forest in FFXIII?



Twilight Sparkle insists that this is something they all have to face together…and then her friends insist that they can handle it on their own.


I know Discord isn't the nicest guy in the show, but is he heartless enough to allow two ponies to remain in life-threatening peril?


All hail Twilight...Queen of the festival of fools!


Discord, get out of my ear!


Rainbow Dash was going to roundhouse kick a tree. Not sure if badass or stupid.


So it’s their friendship keeping them together and not the Elements of Harmony. Gosh! I never would have guessed! (And I wouldn’t say it took them “great courage” to relinquish the elements, considering that they rarely ever used them to begin with.)


Something tells me we will have at least six other episodes dedicated to this story arc. Just a hunch.

Pony Recap: Princess Twilight Sparkle (Part 1)

Well pony fans, the moment you all have been waiting for has arrived. Finally, after all this waiting, we have been graced with Season 4, and the premiere was anything but disappointing.

Many bronies have expressed doubt about how well the show would fare switching hands from Lauren Faust to Meghan McCarthy. If this episode is any indicator, McCarthy is not only a viable replacement for Faust, but someone who vastly surpasses her.

These two episodes provide so much in fleshing out the history and mythology of Equestria, at least in terms of the Elements of Harmony. We still don’t know much about the princesses or Discord or even other relevant characters like Sombra (Seriously, his back story really needs work!), but something tells me that future episodes this season will do just that. (Discord even gets his own song!)

We also saw some more fleshing out of Twilight’s character, especially with her new form, her new role, and the challenges that come with them. Some things have changed, but others will remain the same.

And the art quality…my Celestia, is it gorgeous. Everything from the epic battle between the two princesses to the light shining on the ponies reveals how much the art has improved this season

And if this episode is any indicator, we might very well have a full seasonal story arc on our hooves. The last time we had something like this was in the first season with the Grand Galloping Gala, which was introduced in “Ticket Master,” set up in miscellaneous other episodes, and completed with “Best Night Ever.”

This time around the story narrative may very well extend to more than just the first and last episode. Six locks. Six Keys. That very well could mean at least six more episodes dedicated to this subplot. Only time will tell. But if this episode is any indicator, we are in for a real treat this season.

So without further ado, allow me to present the first two episodes along with my comments on them.

(BTW, I’m experimenting with a new review format. I’m taking a page out of Equestrian Daily’s book and using photos to supplement my comments. And because I’m using so many photos, I’m splitting this recap into two parts, one for each episode.)




Twilight had no problems flying at the end of "Magical Mystery Cure." So why does she have a problem with flying here and in “Equestria Girls”?


LOL! What is Spaceship Earth doing in Canterlot?


Sure she can loop-de-loop, but can she...DO A BARREL ROLL?!


I really love how the light shining through the stained glass is reflecting off of the ponies. It really shows how much the animation and art quality has improved.


Pinkie Pie’s infatuation with frosting comes across as more creepy than funny.


Funny how all the other characters except Twilight are smart enough not to poke their eyes out when making a Pinkie Swear.


The Equestrian postal service puts the USPS to shame. Is their mail service privatized, by any chance?


Twilight's neurosis does not mesh well with her new form.


The Summer Sun Celebration has changed from commemorating Celestia’s triumph over Luna as Nightmare Moon to one commemorating their reunion as sisters. Wonder if Nightmare Night has changed accordingly?


Celestia and Twilight nuzzling with each other is simply too cute! (Too bad the TwiCel shippers will interpret it as something perverted.)


Clearly the dark weeds are after the princesses, so why didn’t they capture Twilight along with Celestia and Luna?


Proof Twilight is working Spike to hard: he "check check checks" checklists in his dreams.


“What do you think it means?” Ask me what it means! Ask me what it means! Oh-ho-ho-ho!

I know the royal guards are supposed to by copy-paste in their appearance to allow making more of them easier for the animators, but would it pain them to make at least two of them look somewhat different?


“Are you alright?” The squirrel is shivering in fright along with the other animals. Do things look alright to you?


I know the apples are horses, which are normally herbivores, but don’t they at least have farming equipment or tools they can use to remove weeds?


But then again, we wouldn’t get this neat scene which shows Big Mac’s extended vocabulary.


Evil thorns growing from the Everfree Forest is one thing, but thorny rainclouds? Suspension of disbelief suspended!


I know Rarity is…well, Rarity…but considering that the sky is split between day and night, you think she would have a stronger reaction than “Tut! Tut! Looks like rain!”


Apparently unicorn magic is like candle wicks you can snuff out by licking and pinching them.


“Rarity, you have to help me. I think something is wrong with my horn.” You’re floating upside down against your will. You think? (And does Sweetie Belle live with her parents or with Rarity? Perhaps she’s just visiting while her parents are away again.)


“Something strange is going on.” Black thorns are taking over Ponyville, growing from clouds, interfering with unicorn magic, and to top it all off, the sun and moon are in the sky at the same time. “Very strange” is an understatement.


Um, ouch!



You know, the only thing that would make all this worse is if the plants were releasing a neurotoxin that forced the ponies to place themselves in fatal situations and kill themselves. But no sensible director would go along with such a ridiculous premise.


I’m not even going to ask what that seatbelt is attached to.



I know Pinkie Pie is random, but perhaps she would take the fate of her town and world seriously enough not to be coloring books!



Discord is a fan of Dan Ingrham!


Discord be twerking!


Yet another indicator that Discord is Kaa!


So Zecora conveniently has a magical potion that just so happens to have all the answers to their problems, and it just so happens to only react to alicorns like Twilght. Deus ex machina?


So the potion is a clear, white liquid that causes people to have visions. Is MLP promoting LSD?


Princess Luna mega-evolves to...


...Nightmare Moon!