Sunday, October 31, 2004

From The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

A newsletter I signed up for the other day.
Acts 17:22
(22) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

If we were to read between the lines, Paul might be saying, "You Athenians are to be commended for your devotion to spiritual things." [ed. note: he's saying that the King James translation is faulty here, from our point of view. Carry on.] The King James' rendering of "religious" as "superstitious" exposes the latter word as having undergone what linguists call semantic drift. In Shakespeare's day and King James' time, this word did not have the negative connotation as it does now.

From the context of this account, it is plain that the apostle Paul was not, as some theologians like to characterize him, a feisty, wrangling, argumentative hothead. The men of Athens, who vastly outnumbered Paul and loved a good philosophical debate, could have made short work out of any know-it-all smart aleck. The apostle Paul was thus lavish in his compliments.

Throughout his ministry, he frequently resorted to diplomatic language. At one point, he acknowledged a cultural debt both to the Greeks and to barbarians (Romans 1:14). In addition to complimenting strangers, Paul continually sought out similarities he shared between him and other groups. In a conflict in which both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were breathing fire down his neck, Paul masterfully ingratiated himself to the Pharisees, reminding them that he and they shared the same view on the resurrection (Acts 23:6-8). Paul, to the right people, let it be known that he was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-29).

We also need to find common ground, not only with people in the other groups of the church of God, but with the world at large, emphasizing (like mountains) the things we agree upon and de-emphasizing (like molehills) the things we disagree upon.

In the process of finding common ground, we dare not compromise our core values or syncretize them with the world. We should instead practice more of what one late church of God minister counseled, "You don't have to tell all you know." Oftentimes, keeping our traps shut is the most diplomatic behavior of all (Ecclesiastes 3:7; Lamentations 3:28-29; Amos 5:13).

David F. Maas
From How to Conduct Ourselves as Ambassadors for Christ

Related Topics [A list of links I'm not going to chase down here, but this is a verbatim copy of the linked article, where these links are live]:
Peace Maker
Peace Making
Peace, Pursuing
Relationships with Brethren
Relationships With People

NewsMax sent me this in an email.

Billionaires Brag of Buying Election

Will a mere four Democrat fat cats succeed in their blatant scheme to buy the presidential election for John Kerry? Could be.

Angry white males George Soros, Norman Lear, Peter Lewis of Progressive Insurance and Stephen Bing of Hollywood "have spent more than $50 million to register new voters and defeat President Bush. They are the X factor in this year's election: A Few Rich Men, making common cause with young people, in hopes of changing the dynamics of the American electorate," the Wall Street Journal reports. "They just might succeed."

Ever wonder why the self-styled messiah Soros and his globalist ilk were so eager to promote John McCain's disastrous scheme for campaign finance "reform"?

They knew they could muzzle other voices while spreading their own propaganda more successfully than ever before.

While the "anti-capitalism capitalists"...have mobilized against the president, the Journal notes, "It is one of the great ironies of Election 2004. Mr. Bush's opponents attack him daily for being the tool of big business. But big business is hardly heard."

The primary reason: Even as Bush-hating 527 groups spend tens of millions of dollars for Kerry, businesses may no longer make soft-money contributions. Compounding this: Execs' fear of trial lawyers prevents them from funding their own 527s, whose very existence they deem dubious.

Lear indicated to the Journal that if Bush manages to get re-elected despite all the money the filthy-rich left lavished on Kerry, a lot of American radicals would move to New Zealand.

Norman, is that a promise?

Oct. 31, 2004 Insider Report from

My father-in-law is always taking slaps at "rich Republicans". I'd like to show him this.

True religion and undefiled is this:

that ye [that's plural(or formal) - and by the way, it doesn't say to delegate the task to the government, particularly when it's run by a bunch of rent-seeking, soulless, courtier bureaucrats] help the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and keep yourself unstained by the world. --James 1:27.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I guess my memory is faulty. Sort of. Maybe I was reading the Revised Standard Version, which Bible Gateway doesn't have. Nope. I was wrong there too, though it does say "unstained" rather than "unspotted". The RSV pretty much just takes the KJV and changes the thees, thous and yes (ye plural) to yous and occasional adjusts the word order to more modern usage.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

More WODs you say!

Ep-i-cu-re-an-ism ( P ) Pronunciation Key (epi-kyoo-re-anizm, -kyr-) [Or something like that.]
1. A philosophy advanced by Epicurus that considered happiness, or the avoidance of pain and emotional disturbance, to be the highest good and that advocated the pursuit of pleasures that can be enjoyed in moderation.
2. epicureanism - Devotion to a life of pleasure and luxury.

The second definition is a common usage, but it diverges from Epicurus' intent. Epicurus believe that you could avoid mental disturbance by understanding the causes of things, particularly by studying science. He was also a big fan of gardening and hosting quiet dinners and banquets. At his home, I mean - he wasn't a caterer. He would have been a big fan of Miss Manners. [Here's a Netiquette quiz that I'll take later.]

But wait! There's more! But you'll have to go to the Free Dictionary Encyclopedia and read the entry. They have these weird links in their articles that print out the full linked article when you try to take an exerpt. It's too emotionally disturbing to edit that stuff out. Thank God that doesn't carry through to the next level. Hey! That gives me an idea!
Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of Epicurus (c340-c270 BC). Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus - about whom we know very little - Epicurus believed that the greatest good was to seek modest pleasures such as tranquility and freedom from fear through knowledge. Although some equate Epicureanism with hedonism or a form of it (as "hedonism" is commonly understood), professional philosophers of Epicureanism deny that misconception.

I went to the definition of Hedonism and copied the link back to Epicureanism. That gave me the first paragraph, with just a couple extra things that needed editing.
Ho-ho! I didn't even have to work that hard! From the Epicurus article:
Epicurus' teachings represented a departure from the other major Greek thinkers of his period, and before. He admitted women and slaves into his school, emphasized the senses in his epistemology, and was one of the first Greeks to break from the god-fearing and god-worshipping tradition common at the time.

Elements of Epicurean philosophy have resonated and resurfaced in various diverse thinkers and movements throughout Western intellectual history. Epicurus discussed a human being's natural right to "life, liberty, and safety." This was later picked-up by the democratic thinkers of the French revolution, and others, like John Locke, who wrote that people had a right to "life, liberty, and property." This triad was carried forward into the present tense, and into the American freedom movement and Constitution, by the great American founding father, Thomas Jefferson, as "life, libery, and the pursuit of happiness."

"There is nothing but atoms and the void," he said.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Good point! From FEE.

Leaders Sign European Union's First Constitution
"European leaders on Friday signed the EU's first constitution, a diplomatic triumph they hope will give the union a sharper international profile and speed up decision-making in a club now embracing 25 nations." (New York Times, Friday)

Is the point of a constitution to give a country a "sharper international profile"?

Check out the first paragraph of that article:
ROME (AP) --European Union leaders on Friday signed the EU's first constitution, an ambitious charter that aims to raise the union's profile on the world stage. But they grappled with a leadership crisis over the nominee for justice minister, who called homosexuality a sin and said women belong at home.

Those stupid Americans... Wait, who were we talking about?
FEE Timely Classic
"The European Constitution: A Requiem?" by Norman Barry

Bye bye, Europe. See ya on the next lap.

I see the system lost my dumb joke.

What a p*****.

WOD (honestly, since I only do this about once a month,

on average, I should quit calling it the Word of the Day):

Adj. 1. eschatological - of or relating to or dealing with or regarding the ultimate destiny of mankind and the world.
[If you go to the link, they'll give you the opportunity to "Date Sexy Hispanic Singles". Like you don't already delete that message out of your inbox five times a day.]

Or maybe you'd prefer to read a story about it.

Here's the comment in which I used it. (I'm so proud!)

Lance, in the post, makes the funniest biblical joke I've seen.

I see that the hypocrites are at it again.

Trying to build an anti-Bush groundswell, The Wall Street Journal [I don't have a subscription, so screw the link.] is publishing pretty much a rehash of a July 14 Washington Post article U.S. Rule on AIDS Drugs Criticized: Ban on Using Aid to Buy Foreign Generics Hinders Treatment, Experts Say (By Ellen Nakashima and David Brown Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, July 14, 2004; Page A12). It's updated, but both articles are based on the same GAO Reports and Testimony: Report Abstract">GAO study. It's just interesting that that study is from mid-July. The only thing new, really, is that the Wall Street Journal mentions that, as soon as the Administration responds to their report, the GAO will publish a final version.

The WSJ also provides more quotes from those sympathetic to the patent issues involved and the difficulties of filing for FDA approval, which discourages foreign drug firms from attempting it. A long time problem we libertarians have been bitching about for at least 20 years. (Although, the fact that the FDA also wants to inspect their production facilities, may deter some of them.) Oh, and the WHO has even withdrawn its "prequalified" status from some of the drugs involved. Of course, everything in this paragraph can be found on page B4, rather than on the front of the Marketplace section. The front page is all hammer, hammer, hammer at the Bush Administration and U.S. drugmakers. WSJ reporters come from the same schools as NYT reporters.

Here's the Senate announcement: Daschle, McCain, Kennedy Request GAO Study the Cost of HIV/AIDS Drugs.

I wonder how those guys feel about outsourcing.

Hey! Lot's of information on the issue here: The HIV/AIDS crisis: Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Here's something else I ran across

at today. American Land Rights Association. It's a press release for here's the report.

I found it interesting to discover that my rep, Jim Ramstad, scored a 42% on their card. Maybe I'll write myself in on that line. I should have run against him. The other Minnesota Republicans are all great, while the Democrats are abysmal except for Colin Peterson, who scored 83%.

Going through my known readers states, I see that all the Wisconsin Republicans are at least acceptable, while their Dems are worse than ours. In Georgia, the Republicans look pretty good and two Democrats, Bishop and Scott, scored 50% or better--Zell Miller only scored 44%.

Iowa is interesting: Grassley 78%, Harkin 11%--that's not surprising, but in the House, they've got a Republican (Leach-17%) who scored worse that their only Democrat (Boswell-25%). The other Republicans are solid.

Indiana's Dems and Reps follow true to form: Republicans score high, Democrats score low.

The bag isn't mixed much in Ohio, the House Republicans all score high, though somebody needs to have a chat with Gillmor, who only got 75%. Oh, the two Senators, both Republicans, both scored lower than that: DeWine-56% [glare] and Voinovich-67%. (I had a reader from Ohio once. I can't remember who it was.)

And Oklahoma's Congressmen all score pretty high, considering their party affiliations: all the Republicans are 92% or higher, while the lone Democrat scored 42%.

Everybody else is on their own. Check it out. They also explain the particular votes that led to their rankings, though you have to question the fact that they include a couple frre speech votes as property rights issues. There were a couple that I would have rejected on a property rights basis as they describe them here. I mean, I suppose the Cherokees should be free to dispose of their property as they see fit, but it looks to me like they got shorted. I've also heard good arguments that timber companies should build their own roads on leased federal and state land, rather than get them free from the government. It's a breech of my property rights as a taxpayer to subsidize them that way, and it also weakens the argument for free enterprise when they cut all the trees right up to the tops of mountains when they couldn't afford to do that on their own.

Walter Williams links an interesting study

On the economic voting habits of the 106th and 107th Congresses.

...[N]o member received a perfect score; however, two members received a zero score.

The economic efficiency scores don't paint a pretty picture about our elected representatives. The highest score held by a Democratic House member (48) was jointly held by Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, and Ralph Hall and Charlie Stenholm of Texas, who all voted for efficiency-enhancing legislation 48 percent of the time. The highest score for a Republican House member (87) was jointly held by John Shadegg of Arizona, John Sununu of New Hampshire, and Tom Petri and James Sensenbrenner, both of Wisconsin. In the Senate, the highest score (64) held by a Democrat was held by Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, and for a Republican, it was Richard Lugar of Indiana (91). The average Econ-E Score was 20 for Democratic House members and was 54 for Republicans. The average for Senate Democrats was 40, and for Senate Republicans, it was 69.

Congressional Econ-E Scores tend to confirm what I suggested earlier that doing what's best for America is nowhere near as important to congressmen as doing what's best for special interests within their constituencies. Doing what's best for the nation is a losing proposition and can cost them an election. But I don't blame politicians for their efficiency-diminishing votes. After all, isn't it unreasonable to ask a politician to commit political suicide by upholding his oath of office and doing what's best for all Americans?

Join me in calling for an update of this information. (They plan to do so.) I can't quite get worked-up over Paul Wellstone's record anymore. (He wasn't one of the zeroes.)

It's worth your while, I think, to go through Mr. Williams' archive.

BTW, I'll be rooting for the Packers in any case. This stat is how superstitions are made. "The fate of the free world, says one observer, rides on the Redskins versus the Packers on Halloween night" indeed. I didn't see that in the Bible.

Lot's of other interesting stuff in that article though: speculations going both ways, the October surprise will be Kerry's new pet and proof that Karl Rove is nuts.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Judging by this editorial,

the Superior Daily Telegram won't be endorsing Bush.

Lance has posted a roundup of Wisconsim papers that are at GrandPa John's.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The End is Nigh, says Sean Corrigan

At, in an article called How Empires Really End.

He's not overly concerned. His conclusion after summarizing new archeological scholarship on the end of the Roman Empire which find that, for the most part, it wasn't very cataclysmic if you weren't a ruler:
Don’t be tempted to hole up in the mountains with only your water purifier, your rifle, and your Krugerrands for company for, if the end of the world does come, no amount of gold is going to comfort you very much.

But if it is only our version of Rome which falls—this will not invalidate the lasting truth that your own wealth is best preserved when it helps another entrepreneur in the process of creating his.

This means you must not hoard what is yours, for its real worth will only dwindle, if you do, eaten away by inflation, confiscated by the tax farmers.

No, rather, you must keep on trying to invest it wisely by using it to participate in undertakings which make their owners a living through serving their post-Imperial, just as their pre-Imperial, customers better than their competitors can.

All in all, you know the Emperor Honorius may not have been such a fool, after all.

Maybe his rooster—a most useful bird, economically speaking— did matter more than the fate of any ruler or regime, for the final lesson we must draw is that, as long as Men are Men, entrepreneurship will always outlast empire.

So, take note, you "historians of decline": our times will be no exception.

The rulers always bleed the People. Too often literally: there are few rulers who didn't conscript the poor to engage in their lust for adventure or revenge. The good news is that they all die.

I was trying to verify Captain Ed's assertion

that NBC News had blown the NY Times explosives theft story out of the water, but I only found an MSNBC story that went along with the IAEA press release. This is as much as they say:
At the Pentagon, an official who monitors developments in Iraq said U.S.-led coalition troops had searched Al-Qaqaa in the immediate aftermath of the March 2003 invasion and confirmed that the explosives, which had been under IAEA seal since 1991, were intact. The site was not secured by U.S. forces, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

I don't find any links by Captain Ed or any of the sources he cited to the NBC story, which was presumably done on the air. Apparently on the Nightly News.

Well, I guess I get to update immediately. A guy who linked to Captain Ed's post has this:
update 5: In the comments, Rob W notes that NBC is now backing away from its critique of the Times story. If this proves to be the case, then upping the bet may not have been such a bad play by the Grey Lady. However, protein wisdom retains his skepticism.

Looks like we don't get to back up our side by pitting stalwarts of the Old Media against each other. I got the story originally from Hugh Hewitt, who seems to be taking it lightly. Taking Drudge's and National Review Online's word for it NBC Nightly News originally said:
NBC News: Miklaszewski: "April 10, 2003, only three weeks into the war, NBC News was embedded with troops from the Army’s 101st Airborne as they temporarily take over the Al Qakaa weapons installation south of Baghdad. But these troops never found the nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, called HMX and RDX, which is now missing. The U.S. troops did find large stockpiles of more conventional weapons, but no HMX or RDX, so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988, and can be used to trigger a nuclear weapon. In a letter this month, the Iraqi interim government told the International Atomic Energy Agency the high explosives were lost to theft and looting due to lack of security. Critics claim there were simply not enough U.S. troops to guard hundreds of weapons stockpiles, weapons now being used by insurgents and terrorists to wage a guerrilla war in Iraq." (NBC's "Nightly News," 10/25/04)

So the question is, are they going against the word of their own reporters to back the IAEA? And whatever agenda they might have?

I was hoping to somewhat allay the fears of my moderate friends, but this isn't doing it.

Update: CNN affirms the original NBC story. That is, they confirm that that's how NBC told it originally.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Uh-oh, Mr. Pt!

I'm whuppin' ya in the Planet Sidna rankings. Better get on the stick, there, fella.

Here is an exerpt from an opinion article

from the London Telegraph (registration required [I got it here; I recommend reading his post, "Read this before you vote: An Excellent Thought Piece from Britain".]):
If Bush loses, the winner won't be Kerry: it will be Zarqawi
By Charles Moore
(Filed: 23/10/2004)

One of the criticisms thrown at George W Bush is that he is a menace because he believes that God is telling him what to do. A moral equivalence is set up, in which Osama bin Laden and Bush are presented as two sides of a fundamentalist coin. On Wednesday, a television programme tried to equate the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates the violent destruction of all societies that do not conform to sharia law, with the American neo-conservative intellectuals who taught that people should revive their interest in Plato and the civilisation of the ancient Greeks. This is about as accurate as saying that the Nazi party and the Labour Party are the same, because both arose from the discontents of the working classes.

It is the critics themselves who are suffering from pseudo-religious certainty and superstition. Isn't there something self-righteous, slightly crazed, about directing such overwhelming anger at the man whose job it is to pick up the pieces of September 11 on behalf of the free world?

George W Bush as we see him today is a response to disorder, not its cause. Four years ago, he was the same as 99.9 per cent of Western politicians. He inherited the economic health and mental torpor of the Clinton years, when many people really had come to believe that the Western way of life was like a children's slide magically moving upwards towards ever greater pleasure and peace, in permanent defiance of the laws of political gravity. To the extent that Bush campaigned on foreign policy at all in 2000, his selling-point was that he didn't have one.

After some 2,500 Americans died in a day, he had to get one fast, so fast that he made some big mistakes. He resisted the idea of "nation-building", even as his policies of military intervention made it inevitable. Having had the maturity to choose able lieutenants, probably more intelligent than himself, in Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, he did not clearly adjudicate between their different versions of what ought to be done in post-war Iraq.

It was difficult to find a place to stop quoting, but I made the arbitrary choice to cut it off here. Read the whole thing.

Life is still a bit crazy.

I imagine it will be for a couple years yet.

The only reason I'm posting now is because the rotten kid kept me up past that magic moment when, if you laid your head down right now, you'd be out cold. I finally just put her in her crib and ignore her weak protestations. If she weren't completely exhausted, she'd try harder.

The Pack kicked the... the Cowboys? They kicked the Cowboys butt? Why does that seem unnatural to me? The Cowboys have never beaten the Packers at Lambeau, but they've only met there five times. Good to extend the old tradition, but it's not exactly a hoary one. To mix metaphors, it's rather a watered-down tradition.

Of course, I didn't miss a minute of my team blowing out "America's Team" 41-20. ["America's Team" my @$$, we all know who America's Team really is: the blue-collar working-man's team. It's more than just a name. I appreciate real cowboys but Dallas was just another big city by the time they got a pro-football team. They're the Dallas CityBoys.]

Then, since I was in such a good mood I had to watch Boston whoop-up on the Cardinals in the World Series. I actually love the Cardinals too as a Midwestern team that play real baseball (without the DH), but I find it hard not to root for the team that hasn't won since 1918 (before a St. Louis team existed in the Majors). I mean, they deserved the "Curse of the Bambino," but I'm ready to forgive and forget.

Ted Williams didn't deserve that.

I once worked out the numbers and it looks to me like Ted Williams could have hit well over 700 home runs if he hadn't taken time out for little things like WWII and Korea. He couldn't field like DiMaggio, but he could hit better. Same for Willie Mays who could also field better than DiMaggio. It's doubtful that he could have beaten Hank Aaron, though. It's pretty certain Mr. Bonds will. Still nothing proven against him, drug-wise, I'm glad to hear. [Wow! Parse that sentence.]

Woulda coulda shoulda. Brilliant careers are cut short by many things. Bo Jackson could have stuck to baseball too. Hell, I should have stuck to baseball. (I had to quit at seven: it was just too hard to keep it up where we lived, with my Dad doing what he did for a living.)

I grouse (to myself) about Ron not going to college for the reasons he cites, but the fact is I've made some dumb decisions myself for very similar reasons.

But it's not my intention to engage in a whine-fest.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Oh! Look at the pretty butterflies!

Jacques Derrida died the other day. I am among those who deride his work.

This is an attempt to defend him?
And it is false to suppose that modern unreason is a falling-away from the Enlightenment tradition of reason. It was the Enlightenment - above all its quest for a scientific materialist psychology - that gave birth to modern irrationalist views.

Derrida was an apostle of unreason. His reduction of rational logos to mere phallogocentrism is sufficient testimony to the fact. But this is to place it within one strand of the Enlightenment tradition.

I suppose I need to make "phallogocentrism" my Word Of the Day.
Logocentrism, also called phallogocentrism, is a term used in Deconstruction (1.) (a postmodern from of philosophy and literary criticism) to refer to the perceived tendency of Western thought to locate the Center of any discourse within the logos (speech and words) and the phallus (embodiments representing the male genitalia).

The reason for my hesitation should be clear by now.
1. In Continental philosophy and literary criticism, deconstruction is a school of criticism created by the French post-structuralist philosopher Jacques Derrida. Derrida offered what he called deconstructive readings of Western philosophers. Roughly speaking, a deconstructive reading is an analysis of a text that uncovers the difference between the text's structure and its Western metaphysical essence. Deconstructive readings show how Western texts cannot simply be read as a single author communicating a distinct message, but instead must be read as sites of conflict within a given culture or worldview. A deconstructed text will reveal a multitude of viewpoints simultaneously existing, often in direct conflict with one another. Comparison of a deconstructive reading of a text with a more traditional one will also show how many of these viewpoints are suppressed and ignored.

The central move of a deconstructive analysis is to look at binary oppositions within a text (for instance, maleness and femaleness, or gayness and straightness) and to show how, instead of describing a rigid set of categories, the two opposing terms are actually fluid and impossible to fully separate. The conclusion from this, generally, is that the categories do not actually exist in any rigid or absolute sense.

Deconstruction was highly controversial both in academia, where it was accused of being nihilistic, parasitic, and just plain silly, and in the popular press, where it was often seized upon as a sign that academia had become completely out of touch with reality. Despite this controversy, it remains a major force in contemporary philosophy and literary criticism and theory.

There's more but it's not worth my time. I'll go with the "just plain silly" bit.

I've heard Derrida speak in person at the U of MN, and it was all gibberish to me. Though I suppose it could be said to be evidence of my lack of erudition and sophistication. Of course, the purpose of the conference here was to prove the pedigree of Deconstructionism as a worthy descendant of Kant. I think that if Kant had heard their crap he would have reacted as Martin Luther did, when informed of the Peasants revolt of 1524 and said, "Kill the pigs!" (The politically correct sources I can find on the spur of the moment don't quote that phrase.)

Here is a previous post I made

on my philosophy.
Perhaps it is unclear what I mean by "variations of egoism, objectivism and libertarianism". It should be clear by my other posts that I consider one philosophy to predominate over the others. Yet, I do enjoy examining the possible variations of ideas which may be mistaken for my own. It's important to be able to correct potential misunderstandings when attempting to persuade others of the Objectivist point of view.

Leonard Peikoff, Robert Mayhew and Ayn Rand herself have dealt with Plato and Kant--great thinkers who, unfortunately, took their ideas (and followers) in the wrong direction. Platonic "Realism" stated that ideas existed in perfect form...somewhere, and that what we experience as reality is the sensation of the imperfect recreation of these "forms" in our lowly dimension. Kant stated that objective reality does indeed exist, it's just impossible for us to know if our senses perceive it correctly. I don't remember if Kant stated openly that he intended to save Christianity by rationalizing a "scientific" understanding of the "other world", but it certainly appears that that is what he was up to.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy which owes its original ideas to Ayn Rand; particularly the Non-Initiation of Force Principle: just behavior is either refraining from initiating the use of force against innocent people or using force only upon and in response to those who initiate the use of force. Libertarianism was originally, however, the doctrine of Free Will--the belief that our will to act is not determined by causality.

Objectivism is the belief that reality is what it is whether we perceive it, or believe it, but that we are capable of perceiving and understanding reality, either with the senses we were born with or tools we create.

Let me revive this other old post, made before I knew how to use the Blogger tools well. I'll do a bit of editing.
The following link may not work as I'd like. I wanted to link to the Ayn Rand Bookstore, but I bought the book via this link to which I got at Capitalism Magazine when I read their review and exerpts.

Craig Biddle, in his book Loving Life: the Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It (Glen Allen Press, 2002), says
In a laissez-faire society, people are free to do what they choose with their own lives and property; they are forbidden to physically harm others or their property; and they are required to support their allegations with evidence. Laissez-faire capitalism is the system of individual rights, private property, and objective law. Objective laws are laws that are grounded in the factual requirements of human life and that uphold the principles of logic; thus, they protect individual rights, including property rights, and they recognize that the burden of proof is on he who asserts that rights have been violated.

Accordingly, if a person (or company or corporation) does violate an individual's rights--and if this is shown to be the case in a court of law--then the government takes action against the perpetrator as necessary on two counts: first, to provide his victim with recompense when and as appropriate; second, to punish the rights-violator for and in proportion to any crime he has committed.

Forgive the extended quote.

Capital is any surplus material or money which is saved for future production; seed corn for example. This is why we capitalists refuse to eschew the term. There is absolutely nothing dishonorable about saving and investing and persuading others to help you achieve your productive ends. However, if what you're doing doesn't fit the description in the previous sentence, it doesn't qualify as capitalism. Not in our book, in which the term laissez-faire is really a redundancy.

We don't accept any other qualifications of the term as valid: Corporatism is Mussolinian Fascism, Crony Capitalism is the same as Kleptocracy (rule by thieves) which just fancying up dictatorship--plain old tyranny, whether autocratic or oligarchic--by stating them in terms of more respectable and more sophistocated systems. The purpose of these new terms is to slander Capitalism by lumping it in with these vile tyrannies. Capitalism with a human face is another term for Socialism (which means, in practice, that bureaucrats direct the use of supposedly private property), and public-private partnerships are more of the same with a bit extra backslapping by politicians.

I use the term "we" in the belief that Mr. Biddle and I are allies in this matter.

The other thing that occurs to me about this passage I cited is the question, "What is the purpose of punishment?" It has been said that there are three purposes for punishment: 1. revenge, 2. rehabilitation, and 3. prevention of a recurrence.
People often ask what our goal is. The goal is a peaceful, happy society in which people may be allowed to peacefully pursue their happiness. Revenge is the emotion you feel when you know someone who hurt you got "the lesson that was comin' to 'em". If that lesson is just, if it's objective then you are right to feel that way. Vengeance is not always evil; sometimes it's just.

Rehabilitation: isn't that just teaching somebody how to live so that harming others isn't necessary?
Rehabbing an injury is building strength and skills sufficient to carry on with life. A fine way to spend your time in prison, but, chances are, you're there, not because you were injured, but because you injured another person's life, liberty, person or property.

Prevention of crime: people usually think that it is the fear of punishment (swift and certain justice) which deters crime, and I suppose it does. Or would, I wouldn't know, I've never seen any. Except for poetic justice. "God gets 'em" sometimes. Not often enough, though. He'd get 'em a lot more, if good people would stand up to the bastards.

But, the prevention that really works is prevention of recidivism by keeping criminals locked up. And, by the way, well supervised, so all these assaults, rapes and murders that people think are so funny couldn't happen. They happen because the prisoners aren't guarded well enough. A petty thief or a minor dope-dealer who gets raped in prison, isn't going to be an improved asset to society.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

And here is some current events analysis from ARI

(Link below and another to the right)

Dear Editor:

Tommy Thompson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services was wrong to exhort the 50 state-attorneys general to
zealously prosecute "immoral price gougers" of limited flu

Mr. Thompson's exhortations violate a fundamental moral
principle as well as an economic one. Morally, an individual has the
right to ask any price he wants for a good or service he owns--and a
buyer has an equal right to refuse that price. In a truly free
society, the government is not granted the power to dictate to sellers
and buyers the terms of a sale. Such power is found in dictatorships,
not in nations that respect individual rights.

When prices are free to rise, producers in a capitalist economy are
motivated to create a greater supply. Since they can now make more
money from sales of the product, it is in their self-interest to get
more of it to market. On the other hand, restricting prices of a good
not only violates the rights of sellers and buyers, it inevitably
leads to shortages of the particular good "protected" by
the government's policy.

Dr. Andrew Bernstein
Ayn Rand Institute

2121 Alton Parkway #250, Irvine CA, 92606
Home Tel: (845) 265-9593
Cell: (914) 830-9960

Blatantly ripping off

An overview of the Objectivist philosophy from Freedom's Nest, because my daughter wants to play Polly Pockets--the wife is doing Conferences so I'm babysitting (and the baby's loose too). So here you go:

I. Objective reality

Reailty is what it is, independent of our beliefs or desires. No two facts of reality can contradict each other- this is an important test of truth. Everything that exists has a specific identity and a specific nature that determines how it acts. Nature is to be explained in terms of nature, without reference to the supernatural. Everything that occurs has a material cause, and everything that exists has a material basis.

II. Reason

The mind apprehends reality through a process of reasoning. Reasoning is the art of building from perceptions to concepts and propositions. In this way, beliefs are built up from the evidence. Reasoning, or logic, follows certain, non-arbitrary rules which must be adhered to if we wish to reach valid conclusions. These rules include non-contradictory identification and grouping by essentials. By applying the rules of logic consistently, we can hope to achieve objectively valid knowledge about reality.

III. Morality

If we wish to survive we must act in certain ways. Moral behavior is that which tends to promote our survival. Immoral behavior is that which tends to promote our destruction. Where survival is not at issue, moral behavior will tend to promote security and happiness, immoral behavior insecurity and unhappiness. There are different levels of value. The higher values are those which make the lesser values possible. At the higher levels of value there is a community of interests among all rational, civilized human beings. The question of self versus others is irrelevant, in that one's self-interest and the interests of others are in fundamental harmony. The rational pursuit of one's interests promotes the interests of others, while the good of others promotes one's own good. As a practical matter, the good of all is best served when individuals pursue their own legitimate interests as they each see fit.

IV. Politics

If self versus others is an irrelevant issue, so too is the question of the individual versus society. The individual good and the social good are in harmony. A society is healthy to the extent that individuals are free to pursue their goals. This freedom is the fundamental social value. It requires that human relationships of all forms be voluntary. Mutual consent is the defining characteristic of a free society. People are unfree to the extent that they are forced to do what they would not choose for themselves. As all governmental action is based on using force to this end, it is necessary to limit the scope of government action as much as possible, leaving the scope of individual freedom as broad as possible. Politically, people can exercise their rights however they please, so long as they do not encroach upon the rights of others. Socially, people can choose to what extent they will abide by cultural norms. Economically, people are free to produce and exchange as they see fit, in the spirit of capitalism.

I have this posted on my wall at work. It makes me lots of friends.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Before I do my post of a definition of Objectivism--

which I guess I had assumed was widely familiar, at least in the straw-man version most "liberals" portray, or the straw-man versions of William F. Buckley and Whittacre Chambers, or the new one by Justin Raimondo--let me advise you to read an Objectivist Bush Backer, and admit my relief in finding one among ARI aficionados.

First let me quote the Anger Management disclaimer:
I am neither a spokesman for, nor an authority on, Objectivism. I speak only for myself. If you wish to know Ayn Rand's actual views, I refer you to her works, and to the experts at the Ayn Rand Institute.

He has many links to Objectivist resources.

OK. Dipping into the article:
I mailed in my ballot last week. It was nice to be able to take my time and research just about every issue—I still can't bring myself to vote one way or the other about judicial performance.
The primary reason why I voted for Bush was because of his foreign policy. I've listened to Yaron Brook's lecture "The Morality of War" and I agree with it completely. I've read Victor Davis Hanson's excellent article "What Would Patton Say About the Present War" and I agree with it completely....
Conservative justices like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and William Rehnquist offer opinions that I would agree with 80% of the time since they come from a strict constructionist perspective. Using the Constitution as a reference point is not the worst position that a conservative can take. They evince a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution's purpose, but the text itself is pretty compelling. Liberal justices like Earl Warren, Louis Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, and Hugo Black offer opinions that I would disagree with 80% of the time. They take the Constitution as a suggestion, a document to consider. Their activist perspective has led to sanctioning most of the welfare state and our current grave misunderstanding of rights. The prospect of another forty or fifty years of liberal activism was a little too daunting.
I made my decision after wrestling with these issues for months. I must say that I cast my vote with a heavy heart. George W. Bush is no friend of the free market: his compassionate conservatism is just the mixed economy reprised. The amalgamation of capitalism with socialism is the most devastating result of the welfare state and the philosophy of altruism that inspired it. Unfettered capitalism could remake our economy into the unstoppable powerhouse that it could be instead of the limping milquetoast it has become. The conservative is an enemy of capitalism as much as a socialist is—more so, in fact, because he concedes the rightness of the system to the socialist.
To be sure, we must conduct such interactions with the conservatives strategically. For example, I don't mind voting for Bush because I know that his second term will also be his last. I also know that there is currently a very substantial vacuum for a successor: Cheney will likely not run due to his poor health, age, and general unpopularity; Colin Powell never capitalized on his rampant popularity when he had the chance; and McCain is close enough to being a Democrat to have made it unlikely that he could mount a successful presidential campaign. It's probable that someone will step up to the fore in the four years of Bush's presidency and there's a good chance that it will be someone worth having as president: Steve Forbes, your time has come—please run in 2008! There is even some speculation that Donald Rumsfeld might try for it. If John Kerry won, the Republican nominee in 2008 would either be in the same mold as George Bush (if not Bush himself) or a McCain-style candidate that is basically a Democrat without being a liberal. We definitely don't need one of those (Bob Dole was quite enough, thank you).

Bush for four might lead to Forbes for eight. My heart sings at the thought.

I was (again) seriously considering voting for Badnarik, even though I actually think Kerry would be stronger on the War, because I can't abide Socialism. Though it was handy to be able to say something positive about Kerry this weekend up at the in-laws' place, where I'd rather not talk politics at all. (I think I may accidentally have admitted to owning a semi-automatic rifle to them in the heat of discussion. Since the cat's out of the bag, I'll go ahead and admit it to you.)

Now I will turn back to Bush.

BTW I've Trackbacked both BBrown and Anger Management, as is only proper, since I'm talking about them. Hopefully they can add some input as well.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Note to self: Objectivist blogs to check-out

Contemporary History

Armchair Intellectual

Sixth Column

Blog Without a Name

Stark Relief

Anger Management

Add another article from CapMag to the last post: Capitalist Hawk for Kerry
by Craig Biddle. His conclusion:
It is an ugly situation, but there is a self-interested course of action to be taken: Vote for Kerry and try not to vomit; aim for a Republican Congress; and redouble your efforts to spread Objectivism.

If White Male Americans would just eschew their hateful

oppressive policies and blend their love with Liberals by voting for Kerry/Edwards, an organism would bloom and grow - an organism which would meet all our needs for healthcare, housing, adornment, entertainment...

We'd lie in flowery meadows watching our laughing children play, absorbing sustenance directly from Mother Earth, as she intended...


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Good reasons to vote against Bush

None of those namby-pamby socialist reasons for me.

Let's see if I can find the three articles I read today.

Here's one: Morlocks vs. Libertarians by Vin Suprynowicz from
Yes, the foreign-policy deference of Mr. Kerry (and his collaborationist wing of the Democratic Party) to France and the U.N. is pathetic. Yes, left to their own devices (but there's a substantial caveat, given the relentless inertial guidance systems of the Washington bureaucracy) the Kerry crew would probably accelerate job-destroying business and "environmental" regulation and freedom-destroying gun bans, while "taxing the rich" in ways unseen since Leningrad, 1921.

Whereas Mr. Bush - freed to be as bold as he likes by Republican control of both houses of Congress - had worked over the past four years to restore our limited, constitutional government ... how?

Have the Republicans even gotten around to keeping Ronald Reagan's 1980 promise to close down the federal Departments of Energy and Education - let alone Agriculture, Health and Human Services?

Are they waiting till they control the White House and every seat in Congress? Do you really think they'd do it, even then?

Have they shut down the redistributionist Roosevelt-Johnson Ponzi schemes known as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? Repealed the crushing slavery of the income tax? Repealed a single one of the thousands of unconstitutional federal infringements of the 2nd Amendment?

Just the opposite. Bush lied to Congress about the astronomical cost of his new "free drugs for seniors" handout - "browbeating Congress into enacting the biggest expansion of the welfare state since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society," reports Jim Bovard in his fine new book "The Bush Betrayal." He "signed the most exorbitant farm bill in history in 2002, bilking taxpayers for $180 billion to rain benefits on millionaire landowners and other deserving mendicants."

Bush actually has the nerve to say he's fighting the War on Terror by further bloating the AmeriCorps "paid volunteer" program, under which "AmeriCorps members busy themselves putting on puppet shows to persuade three-year-olds of the value of smoke alarms." The No Child Left Behind Act? "Perhaps Bush's biggest domestic fraud," Mr. Bovard says, leading "many states to 'dumb down' academic standards, using bureaucratic racketeering to avoid harsh federal sanctions."

I won't quote it all, but there's this on tax reform:
Meantime, what of these other "conservatives" of the right? Their "tax reform" schemes reveal that all they really intend is to "improve the efficiencies of collection," in ways which are "revenue neutral" (not reducing Massa's total cotton crop), shifting the well-funded levers of state power into new hands (theirs) – usually in order to "make this a Christian nation" by more rigorously arresting and imprisoning those who exercise their God-given freedom to engage in self-medication, birth control (yes, there were places in this country where they tried to jail people for distributing birth control information to married couples, less than 50 years ago), and/or fornication.

Vin's writing is like an Air Cav assault on the Fourth of July. Keeps ya awake.

Here's a piece at The Future of Freedom Foundation that's kind of more-of-the-same (minus the fireworks):
How Conservative Is George W. Bush? by Anthony Gregory
Bush has expanded the welfare state and increased discretionary spending at a faster rate than any president since Lyndon Johnson. His Medicare bill alone should have disgusted enough conservatives sufficiently to refuse to vote for him. The fact that the Bush administration deliberately misled fellow Republicans in Congress about the cost of the bill - a misdeed that would have surely, and justifiably, yielded scorn and wrath from conservatives had Clinton been the perpetrator - should alone convince Americans that this administration is neither politically honest nor fiscally responsible.

Bush's trade policies have been quite protectionist by modern standards. Moreover, farm subsidies under Bush have made Clinton look like a Scrooge with tax dollars.

Bush signed the horrid McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill, admitting that some of the provisions were unconstitutional. Now he complains that the law doesn't go far enough in restricting the political speech of independent political organizations.

Though the assault-weapons ban has expired, it is no credit to the administration. Bush expressed willingness to revive the ban - whereas he has shown nothing but contempt in his stonewalling of efforts to arm airline pilots.

And now he's calling for free government health clinics in every town, free health care for all disadvantaged youth, and massive welfare to Americans to help them purchase homes.

Of course, this doesn’t even get into Bush's war policies, both at home and abroad, that many conservatives have had the good sense to question. But even if we assume Bush to be an angel as far as the war on terror is concerned - even if we assume his role as a strong war president compensates for all the socialism he has pushed through - we see just how much big government and spending some Republicans are ultimately willing to tolerate: any amount. No matter how much Bush increases spending, panders to voters, assaults the free market - as long as there's a war on, and as long as a Republican is in charge, we must open the floodgates to infinite government spending.

And the money quote, "Would conservatives feel the same way if Al Gore had become president? If Gore, who unlike most Democrats voted in favor of Gulf War I, had gone to war with both Afghanistan and Iraq, would his war leadership automatically exempt him from criticism for his domestic welfare spending, the way it appears to have done in the case of Bush?"

And Capitalism Magazine has analysis of the faulty thinking of the Administration:
Opposing Platonic Conservatism: A Matter of Values by John Lewis, Ph.D.
Objectivism recognizes that the meaning of an idea is the facts it refers to in reality. A value is a fact that is understood in relation to human life. "A value," said Ayn Rand, "is that which one acts to gain and/or keep"--it is not an idea divorced from action. For example, men are free when the government protects their rights; this is what freedom means....

But this view of values contrasts utterly with the views of the neoconservative team behind Mr. Bush. They see values as ideas from a higher reality, whether religious or secular, and then applied imperfectly to this world.... "Freedom" becomes an idea from intuition, or a dictate of the almighty, that can be applied only imperfectly in the real world. This is not necessarily religious faith, but also "common sense"--stuff that all of us just know, as I was once told by a conservative atheist.

The chasm is not between their values and their actions to preserve them, but rather between their values and reality.

The neoconservative movement is the explicit inculcation of Platonism into American politics. The main figure here is Leo Strauss (1899-1973), the intellectual force behind the neoconservatives and founder of the only serious conservative academic movement. Straussians include Paul Wolfowitz, William Bennett, Allan Bloom, Irving Kristol, Richard Perle, and Abram Shulsky, Director of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans....

The neoconservatives have become the philosophical alternative to the religious right in the Republican Party. This is precisely the danger that support for Mr. Bush represents. His re-election will strenthen their attempts to fill the void created by the nihilistic left. This will hasten the spread of ideas antithetical to a rational world-view....

Followers of Strauss are united by the notion that ideas--especially political principles--are in essence pure theory, and cannot be directly applied in reality. As Strauss wrote in his book Natural Right and History, "Prudence ["practical" reasoning, how you deal with the world of men] and 'this lower world' cannot be seen without some knowledge of 'the higher world'--without genuine theorie." Theorie is the abstract idea, of which the real world in which we live is at best a shadowy reflection.

According to Strauss, ancient philosophical texts, such as Plato and Aristotle--the source of political wisdom--have esoteric and exoteric meanings. The former is a hidden dimension or code reserved for academics (or a Pentagon clique); the latter is what average people understand and act on in this world. Every theory, idea and principle includes the proviso that its use in the world cannot be perfect; it must be negotiated. To compromise a principle, in this view, is not an error; it is inherent in principles as such. Conflicts between theory and practice are in the nature of reality.

The ancient answer to Plato was Aristotle, the philosopher who explicitly denied such a higher reality; he said that there was only one world for us to understand.
I am indeed among those who, to cite one writer's criticism, "have even concluded that the effect [of repeatedly affirming a "correct idea" while acting against it] is to destroy the meaning of the good principle." This occurs because the concrete referents to the principle change, and the false alternative replaces the true.

So, then, it's better to vote for the candidate who states socialist beliefs and acts on them than one who destroys the People's understanding of - or belief in the sincerity of - the concepts underpinning Western Civilization by espousing them while acting to restrict speech (McCain-Feingold), habeas corpus, property rights (primarily via Drug War seizures), the right to self-defense (as mentioned above, the useless "assault-weapons" ban expired, no thanks to Bush--haven't seen any carnage yet, BTW).

This is a reaction to the things that weren't said in the debates. You won't hear a "liberal" bitching about them. But wait 'til they get their hands on the reins of the Leviathan Bush has created. Why don't all these big-government lovers ever consider that electoral victory is a fleeting thing in a democracy, and one day your political enemies are going to get their shot?

Looks like the Yankees are set

to deny the Red Sox once again.

Mr. Olerud, whom I've admired since his days with the Blue Jays and Paul Moliter, knocked one out to lift the Yankees over the Sox 3-1, so it's two games to none in the ALCS.

I, of course - nerd that I am, was shouting at my TV over a completely different contest. (See previous post.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

How about that debate, eh?

Well, neither one of them wet themselves. (Or did anything else unusual in their pants, unlike some people we've heard about. I suppose it's a good thing to know that democrats aren't the only ones trying to discredit their side of the argument.)

I call it a draw--trying to see it from the point of view of the undecideds. Of course, from my own point of view, Bush pushed personal autonomy, which I support (I think he was sincere, even though discretionary spending has grown at an unprecedented rate under his administration) while I heard Kerry pushing central control, which I'm against.

So, do I support the guy who says what I like to hear or the guy who doesn't, when the guy who sounds good seems to contradict his words with his actions?

My answer: at least pay lip service to me. That proves I have the moral high ground. Then we can move society in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Yankees really went out of their way

to get Mariano Rivera a save tonight. Yankees 10-7. They led 8-0 in the seventh, Mussina was pitching a perfect game. (I was in and out, chasing the baby around, so maybe it was the sixth.)

I said family stuff is keeping me from posting regularly. Mostly it's the fact that the baby is getting good at crawling and getting into stuff, and she doesn't want to go to bed at a reasonable hour. So when I'd have time to post, I haven't had time to catch up on the news.

Also, the sports teams I root for have sucked s*** lately. That's the Twins and the Packers. Who wants to talk about that? And, of course, that has also taken up quite a bit of my time.

Andrew Deutsch, 16, threatened to kill black kids at Harding High in St. Paul. The cops and nosy kids zapped his ass. Way to go, nosy kids! Let's have a little more citizen assistance in these cases, eh? (Hmm, wonder why there's no link to the article. Maybe because they just publicized the name of a juvenile to get a scoop?)

John Belushi and Elvis are in jail.

I gotta shut off the TV. They're doing a special report on how Packer fans are whining after last night's game. (Maybe they're just lazy. I can't find a link for this one either. This ain't it.)

Monday, October 11, 2004

The X-Prize foundation isn't resting on its laurels

They're taking suggestions for projects to "incentivize" next.

The World Technology Network's award ceremonies were marred somewhat by an infestation of Mothra's offspring, but otherwise came off well.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

While catching up on the news at

The Moderate Voice, I ran across Varifrank, who has a wonderful post defending Free Speech and Democracy. A taste (but only a taste):
In the last two weeks, I've noticed a clear campaign to suppress the voices of those of us who believe in democracy and freedom. Attacks on websites, attacks on political campaign HQs, attacks on people and property, the harrassment of people at their place of work for nothing more than the expression of political thought.

Early last week, Tom Brokaw said there were people leading a Jihad against Dan Rather. A Jihad? Really sir? Regular citizens fact checking a "Journalists" work is a "jihad" when it is clear by even a casual observer that he may have abused his position as a journalist in what appears to be a ham-handed attempt to further his political views?

A Jihad? Was the choice of that word an accident, a slip of the tongue? I find it odd that the same people who decry Americans who dont take an interest in politics are the first ones who cry "Jihad" when they do.

Words like "Freedom, Liberty, Victory" should not be viewed as invectives, they are the birthright of all mankind, but to the Democrats of today, it is the equivalent of saying "Arbeit Macht Frei".

Let me tell you something: if you're unwilling to go to the trouble of learning something about what's going on in the world, including fact-checking your informants, don't participate in democracy by voting. Morons need not apply.

A little more personal photoblogging

Rosie and Aliina triumphant
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It was a wonderful day here - sunny and 68. Aliina was wearing my hat in this picture which she takes much glee in stealing from me.

Here's Rosie, headed off to a Girl Scouts swimming party at the City pool. God knows where the cat was headed.
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Here's Laurie, failing to pose for a picture of her getting the car out to bring Rosie to her swimming party.
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So, basically we've got a chronicle of a beautiful day.

That boy I was praying for?

D___ and A___ were at the clinic Tuesday to have blood counts done, once a month at the clinic they have a birthday party for anyone who has a birthday that month, Tuesday was September's birthday party. A___ said D___ walked in leaned up against the doorway, and said "Hi, Everybody, what you doin?" She said " He's way to comfortable at the clinic." Thought I would share something funny and cute for a change, seems like everything I have to tell you is bad. Wish you could get to know him personally, he is a very bright and funny child. He keeps us laughing!! B___, Audra and Daniel spent the day at the clinic. He had the MIBG done yesterday, and was supposed to have a cat scan today, then see a Dr. with the tests results. They were unable to do the cat scan, because his port hasn't been flushing good, and last week they had someone's port explode, while they were doing a Cat Scan. They tried putting an IV in to us e with Daniels cat scan and the vein collaspsed. So Bobby and A___ told them to not do it today. And as A___ says " Surprise, Surprise there was no Dr. at the clinic today, to see." His platelets were low, so he had a platelet transfusion, and that took a long time because the port wasn't working good. Someone finally told them (probably a P.A.), that the MIBG shows that the spots of cancer has not changed from the last MIBG that they had done in New York City. B___ says " we can look at this as good news, because they haven't gotten bigger." But of course we wanted them to tell us that they had gotten smaller. So now he goes back to the clinic Monday for blood counts, and Wednesday for a cat scan. B___ is going to talk to the Dr. about whether the cat scan will show them anymore and is worth having it done. He will see the Dr. sometime next week, and see what they want to do no w, a different chemo, or who knows what. Pray for A___ who is having a hard time, pray that his port will start working and they won't have to replace it. Pray that God will keep helping us get thru all of this.

God ain't givin' us no freebies this time. Of course I haven't won any obvious contests between life and death. Righteousness vs. foulness, yes, but life vs. death: no.

Here is a (I suspect) Brazilian blog

(it's in Portuguese anyway, and I haven't spent any time on that one yet) with some pictures I won't be putting up here, but here's one that I will:
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Friday, October 08, 2004

I heard this guy on the radio the other day.

Check out The Wisdom of Crowds, by, well here:
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
by James Surowiecki (Author)

And here's a bit of the Publisher's Weekly review at Amazon:
While our culture generally trusts experts and distrusts the wisdom of the masses, New Yorker business columnist Surowiecki argues that "under the right circumstances, groups are remarkably intelligent, and are often smarter than the smartest people in them." To support this almost counterintuitive proposition, Surowiecki explores problems involving cognition (we're all trying to iden?ify a correct answer), coordination (we need to synchronize our individual activities with others) and cooperation (we have to act together despite our self-interest).

(Scornfully) "...Despite our self interest..." Why, I oughta... (gestures threatening backhand). If there's no benefit to me (or the ones I love in cases like, say, charging off a landing craft at Normandy or Tarawa) why would I cooperate?
His rubric, then, covers a range of problems, including driving in traffic, competing on TV game shows, maximizing stock market performance, voting for political candidates, navigating busy sidewalks, tracking SARS and designing Internet search engines like Google. If four basic conditions are met, a crowd's "collective intelligence" will produce better outcomes than a small group of experts, Surowiecki says, even if members of the crowd don't know all the facts or choose, individually, to act irrationally. "Wise crowds" need (1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions. The diversity brings in different information; independence keeps people from being swayed by a single opinion leader; people's errors balance each other out; and including all opinions guarantees that the results are "smarter" than if a single expert had been in charge. Surowiecki's style is pleasantly informal, a tactical disguise for what might otherwise be rather dense material. He offers a great introduction to applied behavioral economics and game theory.

I'll be gettin' this one. It could create a whole new paradigm for government. ["Governance" is such a buzz-word. I wonder if it's a shibboleth.]

A message from The Liberty Committee


October 7, 2004

The U.S. House is debating and will soon vote on H.R. 10, the 9/11
Recommendations Implementation Act. This 542-page bill is so full of "hastily-
and ill-conceived anti-gun, anti-freedom provisions" (Larry Pratt, Gun Owners of
America) that you would need hours to learn them all. But thanks to an
exhaustive analysis done by Gun Owners of America, we know the following
critical points:

1. H.R. 10 takes the final step to establish the driver’s license as a national
ID card.
2. H.R. 10 authorizes the establishment of an enormous database containing
personal information on American citizens.

H.R. 10-SECTION 3052 (NATIONAL ID): This section would take the final step
toward establishing the driver's license as a national ID card. Attorneys from
groups ranging from the conservative Gun Owners of America and the National
Taxpayers Union to the liberal American Civil Liberties Union have reached the
same conclusion.

As the Washington Times reported today, "More than 30 advocacy, civil liberties
and conservative groups sent letters to every senator Sept. 20 predicting that
the September 11 commission report would lead to a national ID card and asked
that it be rejected." H.R. 10 contains a national ID card provision, section

H.R. 10–SECTION 2173 (NATIONAL DATABASES): This section would explicitly
authorize an enormous national database of private information on American
citizens; including financial records and, potentially, medical records. And --
to the very end -- regulators fought to be allowed to maintain this database,
not just on suspected terrorists, but on every American.

In addition to creating a national ID card and database:

1. H.R. 10 will seek more integration of our foreign policy with that of the
U.N. (Section 4032).
2. H.R. 10 will train U.S. diplomats to be more attuned with the United Nations
and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and other
anti-democratic globalist organizations (Section 4034). The OSCE will be
sending over 100 foreign observers to monitor the U.S. elections on Nov. 2, as
reported by the Washington Times today.
3. H.R. 10 will create a new U.S. "ambassador-at-large" to work with U.N.
nongovernmental organizations or NGOs. This would set a very dangerous
precedent (Section 4035).

We could go on, but won't.

According to Congressman Ron Paul, "The 9-11 Recommendation Implementation bill
(HR 10) is yet another attempt to address the threat of terrorism by giving more
money and power to the federal bureaucracy. The result of most of the reforms
contained in this bill will not likely be a safer America, but will definitely
be a less free America."

And as Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America stated, "...this bill is not about
'security' or 'terrorism,' but about political posturing in an election year –-
at the expense of individual liberties."

We strongly oppose H.R. 10 and ask you to urge your U.S. representative to vote
"no" on final passage of H.R. 10. To send your message, go to

Kent Snyder
The Liberty Committee

Here's what else they're up to.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Since Omni popped in for a visit

I thought I'd drop by her place to see what she's up to. Since I'd rather talk about that than the Twins tonight [It's all your fault CPF! You kept that prayer I asked for for the Packers to yourself and used it for the Yankees.], I though I'd take up her question:
If we could all look alike
Imagine a world where we could only win love, popularity and success by developing ourselves as human beings, rather than by enhancing and using our looks; would it lead to utopia... or would we be just as unhappy as we are now, because we don't all have equal levels of intelligence, humor, warmth, and other personality traits, and so some of us would STILL be favored, and DISfavored, for things we were born with?

My straightforward answer would be this: when I moved to the Twin Cities in 1987 I noticed that everybody seemed to hate everybody else for the most trivial reasons. People that I thought were very nice and helpful spent all their time bitching about each other behind each others' backs and seemed to consider this pleasant conversation. The fat and/or ugly girls talked about how slutty or moralistic the slim, good-looking girls were, the good-looking girls talked about how bitchy the fat a/o ugly girls were, you got pretty much the same thing from the guys in different terms... I suppose I was kind of like an alien landing here, because, until I experience poverty for myself in Odessa, TX and The Grand Canyon, where in both places I worked very hard for long hours at minimum wage [and learned to budget my money by experiencing the consequences of not doing so in the form of foregone meals], I was a fat guy. From the sticks. Who sought the company of squirrels and songbirds in the woods. I had also spent four years learning useless crap at UM-Duluth (German major, Math and Philosophy minors--somehow that didn't equate to a great social education, even with all my efforts at mastering Beer-Drinking).

When I started my present job in the Cities I was 6-foot, 190 and I had hair and it never occurred to me that those pretty gals were hitting on me. [If I knew then what I know now... I'm old enough now, though, to realize that the trouble I wanted to get into was real trouble, with deadly consequences.]

But that's just a pleasant reverie. My protected, conservative Christian upbringing led me to accept people kindly, including their inexplicible need to bash other people. Whom I also liked. Everybody has faults and I love you anyway. For your virtues which I can see.

I have one quirk that keeps people from taking advantage of my innocence, though several did anyway: God made me larger and stronger than average, though not large enough that I feel that I can rely on that alone. I have been tested in that regard from an early age by people who felt the need to try their physical prowess on me. I've never lost when I felt I was in the right. I learned other methods of dealing with these situations by the time I entered my teens because I grew sick and tired of violence long before. Though there are still people who will push their advantage until you beat the hell out of them. The good news is that in a society that respects the Rule of Law [just law; Natural Law], that doesn't have to be a fist-fight (or a gun-fight).

In any case, I'm saying that I have a confidence about me and a mean Mean Look. Which I try not to abuse.

Where the hell is the source of this meandering ramble? Oh yeah. If we all looked alike, but still had individual minds and talents we'd still hate the Other. Xenophobia is an evolved survival trait. Wallowing in fear and hatred of people different from us is the source of the majority of evil in the world. "Animal spirits," as Keynes put it - sort of an irrational joie de vivre, or to use Hitler's term, brutality - account for the rest. When either becomes a collective spirit it can be astoundingly destructive.

I invite correction.

This may be my favorite quote of F. A. Hayek:

All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest.

That comes from The Constitution of Liberty which fact you might be hard-pressed to discover from Freedom's Nest, whom I went to for that quote. Hayek won his Nobel Prize for his contributions on Knowledge and how it relates to markets. Here are the Freedom's Nest quotes of Hayek on knowledge and ignorance.

If you want to decide for yourself whether to learn more about Hayek, read this review of a biography of him.

If you go to the Constitution of Libery link above, you'll see my sad excuse for a review.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The WaPo mixes messages:

Bremer Criticizes Troop Levels
Ex-Overseer of Iraq Says U.S. Effort Was Hampered Early On

By Robin Wright and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 5, 2004; Page A01

Message 1:
The former U.S. official who governed Iraq after the invasion said yesterday that the United States made two major mistakes: not deploying enough troops in Iraq and then not containing the violence and looting immediately after the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, administrator for the U.S.-led occupation government until the handover of political power on June 28, said he still supports the decision to intervene in Iraq but said a lack of adequate forces hampered the occupation and efforts to end the looting early on.

They have quotes to support that, but I'm no going to replay the whole article here.

Message 2:
[Bremer:] "I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq," he said in an e-mailed statement. He said all references in recent speeches to troop levels related to the situation when he arrived in Baghdad in May 2003 -- "and when I believed we needed either more coalition troops or Iraqi security forces to address the looting."

He said that, to address the problem, the occupation government developed a plan that is still in place under the new interim Iraqi government.

Bremer also said he believes winning the war in Iraq is an "integral part of fighting this war on terror." He added that he "strongly supports" President Bush's reelection.

I'm not accusing the Post of mischaracterizing Bremer's position, I'm just saying that they always seem careful to balance positive Pro-Bush messages with negative ones. It's certainly news that Bremer said these things, so maybe patience is in order to see whether the Bush Administration and Campaign return adequate answers. Are you holding your breath until WaPo publishes them?

This article was classified as Military news ( > Nation > National Security > Military).

Here's a follow-up article [classified as 2004 Election news( > Politics > Elections > 2004 Election)] with no positives for Bush to balance the negatives from Kerry:

Kerry Urges Bush to Admit Mistakes
President Should Give Americans a Full Accounting of Situation in Iraq, Democrat Says

By Dan Balz and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 6, 2004; Page A12

I do compare this to Vietnam, and it ain't even close. Here's what I mean, though the article is about the draft.

Update: It sucks to get to the news late. Can you tell I watched The Twins Beat The Yankees 2-0! (I would've given Santana another 1/3 of an inning) instead of the VP debate? Well here's a wind-up of it by Wendy McElroy. She says Edwards won and Cheney looked like an evil troll.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Speaking of Sodom and Gamorrah

It appears that the porn industry is running into hard times (excuse the pun). From

Internet Porn Gets A New Banker
There has been "a little-noticed lawsuit filed Sept. 17 by Internet Billing against First Data.... IBill acts as a middleman between 4,000 small, mostly porn, sites and the banks that are critical to any credit card transaction. In iBill's case, the bank was an obscure unit of First Data, a financial services giant that expects 2004 sales of $10 billion. But apparently fed up with the connection to the controversial business, First Data finally got out of porn on Sept. 15 when its contract with iBill expired, leaving iBill in the lurch.
..."[B]ankers who handle porn don't advertise the fact. First Data, for instance, managed to avoid any connection with porn until it was revealed in public filings as the company that owned the bank that handled iBill's porn processing. Merrick's name popped up for the first time in iBill's lawsuit against First Data, in which iBill blamed First Data for reneging on a deal to process its credit card accounts until it gets set up at Merrick in November. The court denied iBill's request for a preliminary injunction on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

"We have determined that processing payments of the adult entertainment marketplace is inconsistent with our core values," sniffs a First Data spokesman. He adds that the company warned iBill with "multiple notices" that its contract would not be extended after its expiration."

Maybe we'll be spared that big eruption after all.



I don't know how I missed this, but Radley Balko links to this article from a year ago last June (maybe it was just too far ahead of its time):

Kids Consuming Covert Caffeine
Few caffeine tests including children have been conducted, but the magazine says current knowledge indicates caffeine has the same effect on children that it does on adults — jitters and anxiousness.

"As you increase the dose, you get into anxiety, insomnia and tension," Roland Griffiths, a professor in psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University, told the magazine.

Got a solution for ya: tell yer kid what to eat and drink. It's amazing how often a direct command works. Kinda like the first piece of advice in The Instant Millionaire: ask people for money.
Consumer Reports is published by Consumers Union, an independent nonprofit organization. Its income comes from sales of the magazine and other services and noncommercial contributions and grants.

But obviously not from Big Caffeine.

Update: I also meant to link this more recent article which Balko also links.

Space Ship One wins the X-Prize!


Bless all those taking part in the contest. May you all profit immensely from the technologies you've developed.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I got yer WOD right here!

Bag`a`telle' Pronunciation: [The symbols don't work, it's obvious, but go to The Free Dictionary if you must see it. One of my Finnish dictionaries (Berlitz) would say "baeg-ah-tayl" if that helps (hmm, the Finnish word for 'bag' is 'pussi'--hmm).]
Noun 1. bagatelle - a light piece of music for piano
musical composition, opus, piece of music, composition, piece - a musical work that has been created; "the composition is written in four movements"
2. bagatelle - something of little value or significance
frippery, frivolity, fluff
small beer, trivia, triviality, trifle - something of small importance
3. bagatelle - a table game in which short cues are used to knock balls into holes that are guarded by wooden pegs; penalties are incurred if the pegs are knocked over
bar billiards
table game - a game that is played on a table.

I'm not sure which meaning The Probligo was referring to in the comment to the previous post; they all seem to fit.

The World Will End Tomorrow!

Sodom and Gamorrah are about to bite it.

Volcanoes are the ultimate natural disaster (other than collisions with giant space rocks, supernovas and the like), and I shouldn't make light of them. But, at least from the vantage point of the Canadian Shield, they're such a huge thing it's hard to think of us being in the same realm as they, and thus hard to take seriously.

BTW this article on Minnesota says that the iron is mostly gone from the Iron Range. The guides at the Soudan Mine tell you that there is still at least as much ore left in the mine as they've taken out, but it's not (yet) economically feasable to extract it. The ore is supposed to be the purest ever found - it was never necessary to form it into pellets, like the taconite ore usually found in Minnesota, to make it economically viable. The problem is the sheer expense involved in lifting it over 2500 feet to the surface.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Sorry, Man. The family kept me busy the last couple days.

I had Thursday and Friday off, but you couldn't tell it by my blog production. We were preparing to go to our last Rendezvous for the year, but the weather went to s*** and we don't have any cold weather clothes. ("Period appropriate" ones, anyway.) The Albert Lea Rendezvous sounds kind of weird to me (and I wanted to see it just for that reason) because it spans the period from 1650 to 1865 - still pre-cowboy but extending beyond the fur trade, which was pretty much dead after 1850. About the only thing tying that span together was the flintlock rifle (although the wheellock and matchlock were used in the first half) which remained the favored weapon of the mountain men until use of the brass cartidge and rifles like the Winchester lever-action became widespread.

Anyway, the cold and the rain put the kibosh on that plan, as my Dad would say.

I may have been inspired to action if I'd seen that my buddy Joe Gandelman had quoted my comment on the Debate in full. Once in a while he reminds me that I'm part of something bigger than a dorm-room bull-session and I appreciate it.

I've been keeping up with the goings on at the Northern Alliance primarily by listening to their radio show. I couldn't figure out why Hugh Hewitt was talking about Nick Coleman the other day... Dammit! He was on the show today and I missed it. I had to go out and trim the hedge. I do that manually these days, so the noise wouldn't have kept me from listening, but I only seem to remember that my headphones' battery is dead when the baby is asleep in our room, where I keep the batteries.

Oh, never mind. They weren't really expecting him. They made the same joke at the State Fair. So I guess I didn't really miss anything.

So babysitting, housework, trying to learn Finnish before my Mother-in-Law shuffles off this mortal coil. I fear there's cause to rush; I'm hoping that PhotoReading will help. Impossible to say, so far. I'm trying to learn it with the book at home, but they imply that you need to take the course, though reading the book first will make the course easier. I don't have the money to shell out for it right now, and I won't if there are no signs of hope for it. Beyond the obvious benefit of going over a book four times in two hours. This is as negative as I can be about it, though. I plan to give it my best. "No! Try not! Do! Or do not! There is no 'try.'" - a quote of Yoda, butchered by Mr. Scheele in the PhotoReading book. Or by the webmaster on their website. A bad omen?

Oh, in case you don't know Hugh Hewitt (It's possible I guess), here's one of the things he had to say on Friday about the debate, starting with a Kerry quote:
"Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. al Qaeda attacked us. And when we had Osama bin Laden cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora, 1,000 of his cohorts with him in those mountains. With the American military forces nearby and in the field, we didn't use the best trained troops in the world to go kill the world's number one criminal and terrorist.

They outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who only a week earlier had been on the other side fighting against us, neither of whom trusted each other.

That's the enemy that attacked us. That's the enemy that was allowed to walk out of those mountains. That's the enemy that is now in 60 countries, with stronger recruits."

Would the many terrorist attacks since 9/11 in Bali, Madrid, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Beslan and elsewhere have occurred had the United States focused all of its efforts on Afghanistan? Yes. Would Zarqawi still be roaming freely throughout Iraq and the middle east, building his parallel networks? Yes. Would killing Osama at Tora Bora have stopped the Islamist fanatics around the globe? No.

John Kerry does not understand the enemy. He does not understand the war we are in, or how it must be waged. He doesn't understand the reason Libya disarmed. He doesn't get what's going on at all.

He was, last night, a well spoken fool. Most days he is a bore and a fool. The folks scoring a win for him last night because for 90 minutes he wasn't a bore aren't seriously examining what he had to say. But the voters will be talking to each other, not to the talking heads. Bush was smart to stay on message, stay focused and communicate again and again: He knows what we are up against. Kerry doesn't.

Pretty telling point (the third to last paragraph). Too bad Bush didn't make it.

And finally, Powerline provides the beautiful woman pic tonight. (I can't say she's scantily clad. Sorry.)
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Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry won this round

of the debates. He had plans and details. Bush could've womped ass on him if he'd have broken out of the four or five points he memorized. It looked like he was afraid of leaking our plans, or admitting that Kerry's proposals are our plans. Other than kissing up to the obstructionist countries that made military intervention in Iraq our only option, I mean.

Why did this libertarian want Bush to win? Hopefully the debate on domestic issues will make that more clear.