Saturday, July 31, 2004
I did not receive permission to display this image. I apologize to the copyright holders and promise not to do it again.
The pic came from show.supereva.it, I think this is the best one out of about 150 in MO. Now do like my epitaph is going to say and "Get Your Own!"
Oh, who else is doing this sort of thing? FukiBlog, Kim du Toit and the Gweilo Diaries all do it on a regular basis that I know of. For myself, you might get this sort of thing at about midnight Saturday night, if I don't forget and if I'm able to blog. If the wife doesn't knock the blogging spirit out of me. One way or the other.
NZ's anti-nuclear stance has its genesis in the 1950's and early 60's. At that time Britain was testing at Christmas Island, the US was testing further north. I have strong recollections of the continuing reports of scientists testing Strontium 90 levels in both pasture and milk over a period of some 10 to 15 years. The conclusion was that there was clear connection between Sr90 and atmospheric testing. Those soil tests were resumed when the French moved their test programmes from the Sahara to Mururoa.
Why was this so important? Because our major markets had expressed concern and threatened to stop buying dairy product because of the potential Sr90 contamination. What started as a protective (it is not as bad as you think) study, became an early weapon against the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. It formed a strong part of the case that NZ took to the World Court in the 1980's against atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.
Read the whole thing. He felt it important enough to email it to me. This is my response [All right, so my response isn't brilliant.]:
It's a beautiful story.* Have you posted it yet? Never mind, I'll check before you can respond. It should be a copyrighted piece in a prestigious publication somewhere.
Got any room for a cheesehead and his family? You sound like you've got the right attitude.
*What right does any foreign government have to tell you what pollution you have to accept from them? Thumb away!
"Futility of isolationism?" I look forward to seeing you back that claim up.
But, as I said, the third freest (did I spell that right?) country--and the MOST pleasant, from what I hear--in the world MUST be accepted morally as an equal in all peaceful endeavors. I'll tell all five of my readers so. [A blogger said that? It must be false humility.]
Live long and prosper,
Update: Email from The Probligo
>The point really is, Al, that it is NOT a story. It is fact. It is a
>part of our history. I know it. I lived with it. I lived in it.
>Thanks for the kind words...
>Ka whakarongo, ko whawhai tonu matou
Now THAT was a case of hitting the send button before I thought better of it. Although, even now I can't think of a better way of phrasing what I was thinking. I suppose a complete revision would be in order.
What I think is beautiful, is the independence it shows. The pain of accepting the consequences of that independence--that standing for principle can end a great friendship (when the "friend" irrationally refuses to understand your side).
Friday, July 30, 2004
I have to say, that The Devil You Know over at Lucifer's Condiments has a pretty good, if somewhat Marx inspired, take on the pitfalls of pacifying a foreign region that wasn't your own to control until recently. But of course he goes and spoils my admiration by slandering my beloved Ayn Rand. I came to that piece via his comment on
Ayn Clouter's blog about a post ripping Ann Coulter for her namby-pamby moderation.
Ms. Clouter thinks that Libertarians are her tools. She forgets that we insist on the retention of, not only pitchforks and torches, nor ever merely pistols and hunting rifles, but all the weapons customarily issued to regular soldiers. Retained by the individual citizens for their own protection. Keep in mind that the Soviet Union was overthrown with less. An Oligarchical Conspiracy won't have as much support.
I was looking for a synonym for Catholic. I hope it doesn't have the strength of a word like n*****. I thought that whatever power it may have had in the past to offend had long since died out. On the other hand, I wouldn't have called him a Polack, either and... well, I can't think of anything that he could call me that would really offend me, I pretty much acknowledge all the collectivist epithets that could be hurled my way as things to be proud of. "Finnlander" is considered an ethnic slur by my ancestors who are still living. It was a term of real social oppression for some who are still living in our neck of the woods. I suppose "Jew-lover" might be used against me in a way that would make me see red. And if someone were to seriously insult my black or Mexican friends I would be very angry. And, as I've said before, I have deep respect for a number of gay people that I don't want to see harmed or hurt.
So, if I've done that to Catholic Packer Fan or his loved ones, or anyone like them, I will do what needs to be done to make it right.
Mark. I got your message. I call shortly. [I bes callin' shortly, I mean.] Just checkin' the blog and the emails. I think I'd better do some plumbing tonight, too. And dislodge this cat from this cubbyhole in the computer desk.
And I need to go in and delete a foul expostulation in my comment box and fix the thing that caused it.
Update: I knew this guy was great. Check this out:
Alle Tontraeger haben wir selbst finanziert und in unserer eigenen Schallplattenfirma (Schnoutz Records) herausgegeben. Wir sind Unternehmer, die nie um staatliche oder institutionelle Unterstuetzung ersucht haben, worauf wir stolz sind.
There's something odd about the page that keeps me from getting a Google translation (they're always amusing to me) but it says, "We self-financed all our albums and produced them in our own recording studio, under our own label (Schnoutz Records). We're entrepreneurs who have never sought government or institutional support. We're proud of that."
Thursday, July 29, 2004
by Bill Bryson
Talk about enthusiasm combined with knowledge! [As near as I can tell. I'm a Liberal Arts major.]
One week after its release, "The 9/11 Commission Report" remains atop bestseller lists and has entered its second printing, according to publisher W.W. Norton. The initial printing was 600,000 copies, and 200,000 more have been ordered. The commission's Web site, which includes free access to the report, has logged more than 50 million visits, panel spokesman Al Felzenberg said.
I was one of those visitors. I printed up the executive summary and read it on my daily walk. It's an easy read.
In a nutshell, the fallacy says that breaking windows is good for the economy, as it creates the need for replacements, and thus "creates jobs." This is of course nuts. At the end of the replacement process, we're worse off by having consumed whatever resources it takes to produce a window and we can't use those resources for whatever we would've used them for had the window remained intact. Presumably spending resources on windows isn't our first choice, so we're also worse off by whatever the "utility" difference between our first choice and windows.
Right now, I'm also trying to find time for this article by Murray Rothbard, Concepts of the Role of Intellectuals in Social Change Toward Laissez Faire. More advice for activists.
Oh, and Brendan Miniter says, We need more spooks, not more bureaucrats. Yep.
Beyond Conventional Thinking
Life's rich pageant, outside the halls of state
And you know the affinity I have for that philosophy.
Nothing like this week of all-Kerry-all-the-time Democratic convention coverage to turn one's mind to the other side of life - you know, the side not directly connected to the system of coordinated violence and threats designed to force other people to do what you want them to, and people's attempts to game that system in a usually futile attempt to "make a difference."
I know far too many people of what would generally be called "progressive" political tendencies who have been hoodwinked by two-partyism into thinking that they must devote great amounts of money, time, and effort to the cause of encouraging people to vote for Kerry, a man who stands for almost nothing they believe in passionately, on issues from war to civil liberties.
I try to resist the temptation (often a totalitarian one, as it can lead all too quickly to thinking that you, or someone, has to do something about it) to let other people's choices about what to do with their lives depress me. But I confess the sight of a sincere activist commie (especially one I might be personally fond of) wasting time and treasure on the cause of John Kerry's election is a serious bummer. It's a situation where I fear two-partyism has imbued my progressive comrades with what the more intellectual-history-minded among them might call "false consciousness."
Or perhaps it's a purer form of what we consider hedonism to be, from the author of This is Burning Man.
Little comes out of throwing your support behind candidates except further support for a system of petty controls and evil tyranny. Believers in progressive politics who are interested in the arts and experiments-in-living, as they so often are, have much more to offer the world - and, if I may be so bold, their own lives - by producing art and experiments in living rather than indulging in electoral politics.
This is the true political philosophy:
The Catholic Church has long advocated the rich and wonderful principle of subsidiarity, which advocates dealing with social concerns at the level closest to the individual human being. Our federal system leaves some room for this--San Francisco itself, is, obviously, far closer to the dream polity of its progressive denizens than the U.S. at large. While attempting to perfect the entire world, or even an entire nation, is inherently futile and impossible, attempting to make our own lives, and those of our immediate family, friends, and block, successful and peaceful and cared for is something within the realm of possibility. And it's a path whose rewards (and, of course, failures) would be real and immediate and fulfilling. But it is, make no mistake, harder than voting, or getting out the vote, or attending political conventions, or writing about them.
As I write, I'm indulging myself, while my wife and daughters are out of town, by blasting my favorite rock... I almost feel ashamed to admit it's a tape... Polo Hofer und die Schmetter Band. Hard-core, bluesy rock-n-roll in a language I can barely make out, Schwaitzerdeutsch (as he would spell it). It's an exceedingly rough sounding dialect, well suited to the form.
Sitting here, enjoying the raw emotion combined with exquisite instrumental skills and rock/blues compositions reminded me of this article. I felt that blogging about it would make a perfect evening. Blogging about rebellion against politics, listening to a guy ripping out his vocal cords and reading an article by an anarcho-capitalist... I expect to be as satisfied as I can be, in the absence of my wife and children, by the time the album is done.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
BTW, I can't believe that our government finds it essential to put our nuclear warships in at Auckland and would hold up a free trade agreement over that. [I can't quickly find a link for that, I wonder if he has one. Ah, here's one. Thank you Google.] Especially with a country as free as New Zealand. Free trade is vastly more important than military prestige. Oh, here's another fascinating story on the subject. Especially the
As The Wall Street Journal recently noted, "The loudest proponents for free trade the U.S. and the leaders of the European Union -have refused to open their markets to New Zealand's best products." American protectionism has not escaped the attention of the world. Clearly, the crumbling credibility of U.S. commitment to trade needs to be addressed. With only 3 out of the 131 trade and investment agreements in the world, the United States needs to keep its commitment to free trade by liberalizing its market and by seeking bilateral trade agreements to expand opportunities for American producers. Negotiating a trade agreement with New Zealand will start this process and build on a longstanding friendship.
BTBTW, what do all those Ds mean?
Note to self: watch this page: Heritage Foundation: Trade and Economic Freedom
The preceding is quoted from an article at Mises.org, Ten Recurring Economic Fallacies, 1774-2004 By H.A. Scott Trask [Posted July 26, 2004]
This is a great article. I consider my self a student of Austrian Economics. Trask is farther along in his studies. Consult his article.
Of course, as soon as I posted this, I realized I meant to say a little more. People are demanding more sacrifice from the people who support the war. Mostly democrats, they love it when people sacrifice. They're always bragging about how they sacrifice. I just caught a couple minutes of Al Sharpton bragging about his sacrifices.
War is destruction. It isn't construction. Yes, the people supplying the soldiers get rich, but everybody else sacrifices. There's only one good reason to fight a war and that is to defend the lives and freedom of a people. Freedom (and its basis life, of course) benefits economies. Returning to where you were before a war doesn't really count as a boom time, though it may train in - by rewarding non-destructive behavior - the good productive hapits that will lead to the next real boom.
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
[Originally posted without comment. (I have to sleep sometime.) Now there's comment.]
WASHINGTON, DC -- The report by the September 11 commission is missing
one obvious way the U.S. government could reduce the chance of another
terrorist attack, Libertarians say: Quit meddling in foreign nations.
"The intelligence reform needed most right now is a more intelligent
foreign policy," says Libertarian presidential candidate Michael
Badnarik. "Pulling U.S. troops out of nations where they don't belong
would make America much safer than appointing a thousand new
The report by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the
United States, released on Thursday in Washington, notes that the
government missed up to 10 opportunities to unravel the September 11
plot because of bureaucratic bungling among 15 U.S. intelligence
agencies. It recommends creating a new multi-agency center to fight
terrorism; appointing a single director of national intelligence; and
strengthening congressional oversight of intelligence agencies.
Unfortunately, the politicians who authored the 600-page report chose to
overlook the simplest way to protect America, Badnarik says: Adopt a
foreign policy of neutrality and non-intervention.
"Most Americans would be shocked to learn that U.S. troops are deployed
in more than 100 nations around the globe," he said. "Putting U.S.
troops in volatile, anti-American regions such as the Middle East makes
them tempting targets for terrorists."
In fact, terrorists attacked several U.S. targets -- such as the USS
Cole and the World Trade Center -- before the catastrophic events of
September 11, and each time made it clear that they were reacting to
U.S. foreign policy in the region.
"You don't see terrorists targeting other prosperous, Western-style
democracies such as Switzerland, Canada or Sweden," he said. "And one
reason is that those governments don't meddle in other nation's affairs
or embark on foolish nation-building missions."
For decades, he noted, the U.S. government has provided military and
financial aid to both Israel and its Arab enemies, has sided both with
Iran and Iraq in their bitter, 10-year war and has routinely supported
and armed brutal dictatorships around the world -- so politicians
shouldn't pretend that they're shocked when Americans become targets for
That's why the biggest missed opportunity of all is the government's
refusal to reform U.S. foreign policy, Libertarians say.
"Instead of making America safer, Republicans and Democrats have opted
once again to make government bigger," he said. "When will they learn
that the best way to protect Americans at home is to quit making enemies
The trouble with the Libertarians, besides that Badnarik will probably be in jail for tax evasion by election day, is that I really haven't seen a credible plan to turn the US into a giant Switzerland. Actually, I suppose the point would be to use Switzerland, or better, New Zealand as scale models, but we're at A here and we need to find the way to B.
for cost of Boston convention, Libertarians say
WASHINGTON -- In light of a surprising new poll showing that 62 percent
of Americans oppose taxpayer-funded conventions, Libertarians say the
Democratic Party should immediately reimburse taxpayers for the $40
million cost of staging their Boston event.
"Let's hope the American people love this convention, because they paid
for it," says Libertarian Party National Chair Mike Dixon. "There's
something terribly wrong when two rich guys running for office can
force ordinary Americans to pay for their televised advertising
"If John Kerry and John Edwards really care about the little guy,
here's their chance to prove it: Give the money back."
The organizers of the Democratic and Republican national conventions
have each received checks for $14.5 million from the Federal Election
Commission to finance their events. That, combined with an estimated
$25 million in security costs that each will incur, means that
taxpayers will foot the bill for nearly $40 million for each event.
The Libertarian convention, held over Memorial Day weekend in Atlanta,
was financed entirely with private funds.
"In a Rasmussen poll released on Sunday, Americans made it clear that
they want to kick politicians off the welfare wagon," Dixon said.
The survey, commissioned by the Libertarian Party, asked: "Should tax
money be spent to stage the Democrat and Republican national
presidential nominating conventions?" An overwhelming majority of 62
percent said no, 24 percent said yes and 14 percent weren't sure.
Libertarians are proposing two alternatives to taxpayer-financed
One: Let corporate sponsors and other donors, who already gave a
record $103.5 million to the two major parties' host committees, pick
up the entire tab.
Dixon said: "Former Democratic National Chairman Don Fowler is quoted
as saying, 'Some of the best lobbying in the world is done at these
conventions. It is a tremendous boon for special interests.'
"As long as Democrats and Republicans have something to sell, special
interests will have something to buy. It's better to charge these
fatcats up-front than to send taxpayers the bill for their weeklong
Two: Make Kerry and Edwards pay the $40 million personally.
"Kerry's personal fortune is estimated at $60 million, and Edwards is a
multi-millionaire trial lawyer, so both can afford it," Dixon noted.
"It's simply outrageous for these two wealthy politicians to bilk
ordinary Americans to pay for an event at which they're scheming for
yet more ways to bilk us if they get elected. They should have the
decency to give the money back."
They will say the same thing about the Republican convention, don't worry.
The Probligo tells me that his screenname
[If you know this just ignore it: "Cogito" means "I think" and is the short term philosophers use to discuss Descartes' argument that starts with "I think, therefore I am." (Cogito ergo sum.)]
Update: After much haranging, I'm editing my typo. We'll put in the link too, while we're at it. Fair enough?
I went for a jog yesterday, for the first time in years. In my cheap Earth Shoes. (The sell expensive ones too, but these are working fine.) I've had zero hip pain since I bought them, so now they're my cross-trainers. I jogged about 3 miles. I figured I could, because I walk 3-4 miles every work day - it was just an increase in the pace. But I'm sore as h*** now.
When I stepped on the scale afterwards I was 120 Kg. It was great to see me edging back into the old 242 weight class again. Of course, about a pound an a half of that was water, but it was a great emotional kick.
TCM here I come! Oh, all right. Just the 5K then. I'll get my butt kicked by some 10 year-old kid again. I think my best time (in three whole races) was about 24:38. I guarantee I wasn't going that fast yesterday. More like 36 minutes.
Enough of that? Fine.
Monday, July 26, 2004
Contrary to the claim by the 9/11 commission chairman, the failure to prevent 9/11 was not "a failure of imagination." It was a failure of cognition.
For decades prior to 9/11, terrorist attacks against Americans were perpetrated without any noticeable response from the U.S. government. The first attack on the World Trade Center, for example, occurred back in 1993--and it was dealt with as a mere criminal matter. More recently, in 1998, Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States and publicly called for the indiscriminate murder of Americans all over the world as a religious duty. A few months later Al Qaeda destroyed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The United States did not respond to any of these threats and assaults.
The reason that the United States was taken by surprise was not a lack of imagination, but a lack of honesty in facing the facts--and a lack of courage to act against these obvious threats.
As the commission itself reported, "The 9/11 attacks were a shock, but they should not have come as a surprise."
Writer, Ayn Rand Institute
What is the White House doing about Iran's production of nuclear weapons? Insisting on a diplomatic solution through negotiations!
But it is precisely this wrongheaded approach that failed to prevent the current crisis--and which will allow Iran to become a nuclear power soon.
Negotiations are moral--and practical--only between individuals who are open to reason, who respect each other's rights, and whose purpose is to exchange values for mutual benefit, without coercion.
But the Iranian leadership is wildly irrational, has no respect for individual rights, and seeks--by threatening nuclear attacks against the United States (the "big Satan")--to further advance the spread of Islamic totalitarianism over the globe.
The proper approach to eliminate this threat against the United States is not to negotiate with Iran's mullahs--but to eliminate them.
Writer, Ayn Rand Institute
2121 Alton Parkway #250
Irvine 92606 CA
(949) 222-6550 ext 226
The Probligo, who has kindly commented on a couple of my posts
Hopefully that's a lot clearer. Let's see what points remain. I'd like to post the letter, so you could see the respectful tone. I hope to do it justice, but occasionally, my Spartan laconism defeats me when I'm passing along "the word" from someone else. (One could also blame my tendency to think of myself as a Superior being.)
Sorry. One's hometown is just another kind of granfalloon.
No, I'm quite excited to get such a thoughtful response to a post, though the credit goes mostly to Mr. Machan (and Miss Rand, of course). I eagerly await a response to my edited post.
1. Machan's pedantry.
Hopefully I've improve the context enough for you to understand something of Objectivism. If this doesn't do it, well, Andrew Bernstein says that the best salesman (Rand would not say "salesperson") of Rand's ideas is Rand. Frankly, she's the better writer.
2. The hammer and soft word example is a koan.
Koans, as I'm sure you know, serve the purpose of promoting enlightenment, whether suddenly, in a satori experience, or slowly through meditation. Of course, the assumption is that the enlightenment would be comprehensive, or holistic, about the true and complete nature of reality. I doubt that any Objectivist would assume they could do that. A flash of enlightenment couldn't cover more than an aspect of reality, an probably only a small one at that.
3. Question: is Rand telling us how to think or what to think?
I believe that, at least up until the 1960s, Miss Rand considered it most important to tell us how to think. When she began directly publishing essays about current event using her philosophy, it could be argued that she was telling us what to think. I doubt that she would accept the distinction. Chris Matthew Sciabarra has written a large book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (a pigeonhole The Ayn Rand Institute would reject as too confining), describing the degree to which dialectic thought - the collapsing of false dichotomies - figures in to Rand's thought.
4. Defense of Cartesian rationalism.
My own study of Descartes is weak, but what I hear is that the result of the Cogito was Humean Skepticism and it's less well-grounded descendants. Doubt of the status quo in science has born great fruits, true, but I think Rand would argue that actual buildings (and railroads) are built on certainty, or rather making certain, that they would stand and serve their users well. Scientists and engineers make good use of the scientific method (also expounded by Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon) but thinkers in the social sciences and philosophy have not, it seems to me (and Machan), been equally meticulous.
Do We Want a War Criminal as President?
The 'Anybody But Bush' movement is morally and politically bankrupt
Rand Beers, Kerry's foreign policy chief, is a longtime veteran of the national security bureaucracy, having served under the last four presidents in some capacity or other, including Special Assistant to the President for Combating Terrorism, under George W. Bush. Reporting on a Kerry speech in which the candidate called "for a harder line toward Saudi Arabia and a softer approach to Iran," the New York Times cited Beers as saying that "thousands more new coalition troops were needed to stabilize Iraq and that Kerry would not rule out sending more Americans as part of that mix."
John Kerry's foreign policy chief honcho has a lot of 'splaining to do to all those Anybody But Bush (ABB) types, whose mindless support for the warmongering Kerry is based on an addled but sincere desire to at least mitigate the immense evil now emanating from Washington.
The only problem with the ABB strategy, however, is that the man they want to replace George W. Bush with is potentially even more of a monster. After all, Kerry personally cut the throats of a great many Vietnamese during our losing war in Southeast Asia: listen here as he confesses to what he himself describes as "war crimes."
As part of the murderous "Phoenix" program, designed to dry up the pool of support in which the Viet-Cong was submerged, Kerry and his cohorts unleashed a reign of terror, and killed many thousands of Vietnamese villagers, most of them ordinary peasants, including women and children. He brags about his three Purple Hearts, and his campaign compares his military record favorably to the AWOL Bush, who managed to stay well out of it, while the Bush-haters screech that the president is a "chickenhawk" because he wasn't eager to become a mass murderer.
I hate to cut off exerpting because the whole article is great, from my point of view. This is followed by a long section about the support Kerry is garnering from the Communist Party-USA.
I enjoy Raimondo when he's skewering his compatriots in the anti-war movement:
What Nader calls "corporate socialism" rules the day – and the uncomprehending silence that greeted Nader's denunciation of it at a San Francisco rally last week just underscores how clueless much of the Left is to what's really going on in this country. Nader's rhetoric was greeted with a single cry of "Down with corporate socialism!" that rang out over the stunned audience. I couldn't help but burst out laughing, and my loud applause startled the people sitting in front of me enough to crane their necks to see who was causing this unseemly outburst.
It's too bad the Democratic party was so successful in its "dirty tricks" campaign against Nader, keeping him off so many state ballots that he won't be on but a dozen or so. He could have given voice to a large constituency of antiwar voters, and given his own unique – if not always correct – analysis of what empowers the power elite.
I'm afraid that we're just going to have to grit our teeth, endure the next few months as best we can, and wait out the partisan static until the air clears after November. Then we can face what has to be faced and move forward from there.
The difficulty is that, if the anti-war crowd wins, it won't be Libertarians in the ascendancy. It'll be the commies and the authoritarian, so-called anarchists.
Puberty is on setting earlier than in previous generations and scientists think they may have found the reason: Watching television prohibits the production of melatonin, which delays puberty.
The Week reports that a study conducted by researchers at Italy's University of Florence discovered that when kids sat in front of the tube at least three hours a day, they had less production of the sleep hormone. But they also found their bodies produced 30 percent more of it after a week with no TV.
"What's interesting about this study is that it's stripping TV entirely away from the content," said Syracuse University's Robert Thompson. "This isn't about bad, indecent, or sexual programming. It's about the totally neutral impact of the medium itself."
When kids are exposed to the artificial light from a television screen - particularly during nighttime hours - their bodies suppress melatonin production.
Various studies say that approximately 19 percent of eight-year-old girls in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. have already begun puberty, whereas just one generation ago only one percent had.
More of the same story at New Scientist.
I feel the occasional need to affirm my heterosexuality.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
Here is another exerpt, adapted from the book and published as an article here, which will help a little to establish some context.
Aristotle and Ayn Rand have something in common. They repeat the obvious.
The First Principles of Ayn Rand
by Tibor R. Machan
(Adapted from Dr. Machan's forthcoming book, Ayn Rand)
(First published on TDO October 20, 1999)
In Ayn Rand's philosophy a central place is occupied by axiomatic concepts: roughly, ideas that we cannot do without anywhere, any time (even if we don't identify them explicitly). They are basic because they point to a fact that is ubiquitous, omnipresent.
Rand's concern with axioms has often been ridiculed. As one author, Leon Wieseltier, puts it, "A=A. Big deal." Yet her claims for the role and function of axioms are sweeping. If those claims are justified, her stress on the importance of axioms is not at all misplaced.
According to Rand, the formulation "Existence exists" is a way of "translating into the form of a proposition, and thus into the form of an axiom, the primary fact which is existence." (Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. [The original link was to Laissez-Faire Books, but they seem to have stopped carrying it I've switched it to The Ayn Rand Bookstore]) "But," Rand goes on to add, "explicit propositions as such are not primaries; they are made of concepts. The base of man's knowledge—of all other concepts, all axioms, propositions and thought—is axiomatic concepts." [Emphasis mine.] It is axiomatic concepts that serve as the first principles of Rand's philosophy. She defines an axiomatic concept as:
…the identification of a primary fact of reality, which cannot be analyzed, i.e, reduced to other facts or broken into component parts. It is implicit in all facts and all knowledge. It is the fundamentally given and directly perceived or experienced, which requires no proof or explanation, but on which all proofs and explanations rest.
This squares with common sense: we learn first and foremost what there is—not statements or propositions about what there is. And while a good deal of later learning—as well as human communication—occurs via propositions, the experiences we have provide us with plenty of brute facts that we access directly by means of our perceptual organs and minds.
RTWT - read the whole thing.
And a bibliographic biography of Ayn Rand can be found at Laissez-Faire Books.
Pages 125-126 in the paper back:
Rand's Alleged Rationalism
It is, furthermore, wrong to label Rand a rationalist - that means someone who proposes to derive all truths from first principles alone and usually by merely thinking them up in the unaided human mind (as per Descartes, Spinoza)!
[Or like Marx did with political economy.]
For example, nowhere does Rand claim that "We know a priori that all events have a cause." This is [Norman] Barry's [Classical Liberalism and Libertarianism (Oxford, England: Blackwell, 1989).] imposition of a view on Rand that she rejects - she is, as we have already seen, neither an empiricist nor a rationalist.
Rand does hold that "the law of causality is the law of identity applied to action," meaning that the fact of X being I (having this identity) will necessarily condition the way X will interact with the surrounding world, something that isn't true a priori - based on some pre-experiential understanding - but on the plain fact that nothing can be produced by nothing. (In other words, when X is a,b and c and a, b, and c can produce x, y, and z but not p,q, and r, this is because results other than p, q, and r would have no source - they would simply pop into existence.)
[That must be a typo. Either the second p, q, and r should be x, y, and z or there's a missing line.]
Thus, Rand would hold, that a hammer enables us to make a dent in a car's fender but a softly spoken word will not. Our understanding of hammers and cars and dents provides us with this knowledge. (And the "necessity" involved is the realistic - not fantastic or socalled "logical" - necessity of all scientific-engineering claims.) [Because their logical arguments are based on Logical Positivism these days?] Similarly, given what a human being is, force will not produce morally good behavior but personal resolve can do this. [My emphasis.]
Certainly, our engineering sciences rest on such facts of reality, rather than on some supposed contingency that Barry thinks obtains. Our political and other social sciences, in turn, are going astray - rational analysis is precluded from them - because they fail to heed the point.
Rand adheres to a pluralistic conception of what there is and thus of how we might come to know it. The simplistic division of the world into the empirical and the rational sectors is alien to Rand's way of thinking. Barry's efforts to use the division to classify Rand's views just will not succeed in those terms. Indeed, by the common sense (as distinct from radical) understanding of "empirical," Rand takes the law of causality as an empirical principle - I.e., a principle of how the world actually works discovered in part by the utilization of one's sensory organs.
For Barry and Co., however, "empirical" means, most significantly, contingent, i.e., a state of affairs that does not have to be so and might just be otherwise - anytime, anywhere. Contingent used to mean, in philosophy, "dependent upon the will of God." When God became unfashionable, it was retained to mean "conditional and not necessary, could be otherwise, not having to be the case or "not logically impossible." But all this is dependent heavily upon a very rich and questionable theory in terms of which, for example, "certainty" came to mean "incorrigible," "infallible," "true beyond a shadow of a doubt." Once one accepts this theory and its language, there is no telling what else you must buy into and usually it leads (logically) to the conviction we find in Paul Feyerabend and Richard Rorty, namely, that every belief is equally good and we must leave it all up to small democratic assemblies or "our" communities to decide what will prevail. It recalls the old Greek thinker, Cratylus, who stopped talking because he realized that talk assumes some measure of consistency of meaning of terms over time, and skeptics are not entitled to this.
I chose this passage because it seems to me to be an exceptionally clear, concise and fairly comprehensive explication of Rand's epistemology.
Despite all the criticism, Halliburton was a logical choice for Iraq. It is the military's main logistics supplier around the world, working side by side with U.S. troops in the Balkans, Somalia, Rwanda, the Middle East and Central Asia. It also is among global leaders in oil field services. The company insists it did not call in any favors from Cheney to win business in Iraq.
Last week, Defense officials and others involved in the contracting process told the House Committee on Government Reform they had no contact with Cheney or his office about the contracts. Cheney and his aides played no role in the contract awards, they said.
Several Wall Street analysts predict the company will outperform others in the oil field services sector.
Halliburton isn't the only contractor in Iraq getting scrutiny. Fluor, Perini and Washington Group International are among others facing "substantial subcontracting pricing issues," Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim told a House hearing last week. "Halliburton's performance in Iraq has not been perfect, but it has not been terrible," Zakheim said.
But it's almost libelous to leave you with the impression that the article was negative on the whole. The format is 'allegation followed by defense' throughout. The jury's not in yet. I predict the verdict will be an aquittal, but it won't silence the howlers.
Friday, July 23, 2004
Prisoner Put In Cell With Molester Who Raped Him As Child
A Tampa man will not be prosecuted for beating the pedophile who raped and choked him as a child.
In a bitter coincidence, Jason Flores, 23, was mistakenly placed in a cell with Kevin Kinder, a man who had raped and strangled him 13 years ago.
Now, how'd that happen?
Story found at The New American Revolution while checking out FukiBlog's links.
A Seoul court on Thursday fined a college student 1.5 million won (US$1,300) for producing and spreading parodies through the Internet that aimed to defame certain candidates ahead of the April 15 general elections.
It is the first time in South Korea that a citizen has been punished for producing parody works on the Internet.
The 26-year-old student, identified by the surname Shin, was accused of creating and posting some 20 parody photos on the Internet that were considered unfair for some candidates from the Grand National Party.
"Shin deserves punishment because he tried to influence the elections through his parody works,’’ the Seoul Central District Court said in the ruling. Shin said he would appeal.
"Everyone has the right to express their opinions by creating works, including parody works, but Shin’s work passed a limit and tried to influence politics with the works for a certain party,’’ the ruling said.
"Making parody is one thing and using it for political propaganda is another,’’ an official of the National Election Commission told The Korea Times. "The government is needed to strictly deal with those producing parody as a means to sway voters in elections and making political decisions. Such acts are obviously not condonable.
Ah, but it couldn't happen here. [The allusion, if you don't recognize it is to a book by Sinclair Lewis. (That Amazon price must be a typo. It's a little paperback. Shoot, I'd part with mine for a mere $65.00.)]
As the 9/11 commission's final report made clear, both the Clinton and Bush administrations were at fault for not striking at Al Qaeda before September 11. While leftists hypocritically have blamed Bush, conservatives retroactively blamed Clinton. Yet both camps are repeating the mistakes of the past and still trying the diplomatic approach in dealing with terrorist states.
Today there is no doubt about the threat to America posed by Iran, Syria and North Korea, among others. But almost no one is calling for an attack on any of these regimes. Hopefully, America will not wait for a more horrific version of 9/11 before striking at its avowed enemies. Hopefully, but--at this rate--not likely.
Writer, Ayn Rand Institute
2121 Alton Parkway #250
Irvine 92606 CA
(949) 222-6550 ext 226
Free institutions are not the property of any majority. They do not confer upon majorities unlimited powers. The rights of the majority are limited rights. They are limited not only by the constitutional guarantees but by the moral principle implied in those guarantees. That principle is that men may not use the facilities of liberty to impair them. No man may invoke a right in order to destroy it.
I've always felt that this was a little unclear. I'll meditate on it and expound on it later. One of the problems I have doing that is that I first try to get inside the head of the person speaking to me, and I haven't seen enough of this guy's stuff to do that.
So, I guess I'll just have to state what I think he means in my own words. Or what I would mean if I said it.
Update: I just added the links above. Good stuff there.
Anti-Bush Ad Overstates Case Against Halliburton
Moveon Pac ad says administration gave contracts "on a silver platter," but government investigators say otherwise.
June 18, 2004
Modified: June 28, 2004
An ad that began airing June 15 portrays a white-coated White House waiter serving contracts and wads of cash, while an announcer says the Bush administration gave Halliburton no-bid contracts "on a silver platter" and that the company was "caught" overcharging by tens of millions of dollars.
But in fact, investigators from the General Accounting Office (GAO) found Halliburton's no-bid contracts to be legal and probably justified by the Pentagon's wartime needs. Furthermore, Pentagon auditors have yet to make any final determination of whether payment should be denied to Halliburton for gasoline or meals for troops. Those billing disputes are still being negotiated.
(Note: See the italicized "footnote" below for Moveon PAC's response to this article.)
(Note on note: I left that to encourage you to go read the whole thing. In case you haven't. It's been there a while.)
UN vote demands Israel tear down barrier
Only a Security Council resolution would be binding. What would the UN do then? If the US were on that side, I suppose they'd sick us on them.
The UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to demand Israel obey a World Court ruling and tear down its West Bank barrier, but Australia has joined Israel and the United States in opposing the resolution.
The vote in the 191-nation assembly was 150-6, with 10 abstentions. The tiny Pacific states of Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau also voted 'no'.
Israel, which does not have to obey the General Assembly ruling, has said it will be ignored.
Only a UN Security Council resolution would be binding, which the United States, as permanent member, would be expected to block.
Israeli UN ambassador Dan Gillerman criticised the vote.I find this response more satisfying.
"Mr President, allow me to start with a vote of thanks. Thank God that the fate of Israel and of the Jewish people is not decided in this hall," he said.
This website provides a justification for the wall:During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003.
Since construction of the fence began, the number of attacks has declined by more than 90%. The number of Israelis murdered and wounded has decreased by more than 70% and 85%, respectively, after erection of the fence.
No one has the right to tell others that they can't protect themselves.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
The second song is comedically brilliant. Libertarians would make distinctions, however, between Halliburton (a successful government-dependent company), Enron (a failed government-dependent company), Martha Stewart (a railroadee of the SEC) and Clear Channel (no doubt a future target for the Attorney General) and I think we're pretty much agreed that environmentalist rhetoric is overblown. But I still find the song funny, which says a great deal for Eric Idle. Of course, I don't expect him to appreciate it.
I have difficulty concerning myself, in a partisan way, over an organization which any unscrupled triangulator would leave in place. If the lefties cared about free speech, per se, they had their chance under Clinton.
No, my first goal here is to rip the guy who google considered it appropriate to place an ad for on my blog: Noam Chomsky.
But I fear God has granted him a reprieve. I need to get to bed. I will be mining his site for fiskings anon.
on my admiration of LibertyBob's creativity. You have to see this post: Spy Mag. Maybe it would lead, eventually to a greater appreciation and knowledge (eventually, as you persist on the thread he unleashes) of the extreme northern Canadian burg of Tuktiyuktuk. [That is the 8th mention of that town on the internet.]
I haven't received any response from Blogger yet. Though they have thanked me for my patience.
Here are some links to back up Thomas Sowell's Legalized Extortion and Discrimination Lawsuits article today:
Gerald Amirault's Freedom
Today he leaves prison, after serving 18 years on phony charges.
Friday, April 30, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT
At 10 o'clock this morning, Gerald Amirault will walk out of his Massachusetts jail, a free man.
It is a joyous day for this prisoner, behind bars for 18 years after his 1986 conviction on charges of child sex abuse based on fantastical testimony dragged from pre-schoolers. Gerald's mother Violet and his sister Cheryl served eight years before their convictions were overturned in 1995.
For discussion of the Japanese internment check this link: Racial Profiling in an Age of Terrorism
By Peter Siggins. This Research took hours, I'm afraid. There are a lot of people using the same sources, and they weren't Sowell's sources apparently. This is just the most promising one I found so far.
Other people are waiting for the computer, so I'll just post this and see how it goes.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
By Steve Stanek
Airguns will be banned in Winnetka if a proposed ordinance passes the village council on Thursday.WILMETTE -- The Village of Wilmette may ban the sale and possession of airguns, just a few months after receiving national attention for prosecuting a homeowner who used a handgun to stop an alleged home invader who broke into his house twice in less than 24 hours.
The Wilmette Public Safety Committee has scheduled a meeting at 7 p.m. July 22 at Village Hall for public comment on a proposal to ban airguns, including air rifles, air pistols, BB guns and paint ball guns.
Democrat State Senator Jeffrey Schoenberg of nearby Evanston supports the prohibition and distributed a model airgun-ban ordinance to Wilmette and other municipalities in the area. Wilmette Police Chief George Carpenter said village staff reviewed the model ordinance and liked it.
"We took a look at it and kind of said, 'The village has always prohibited the discharge of BB guns.' We are also aware of improper uses of BB guns. The ordinance made a lot of sense to us. We're not aware of any legitimate use of BB guns here."
What do they think of this in Iowa? After the silliness, they have this:
Wilmette received national attention early this year after resident Hale DeMar shot and wounded Morio Billings, 31, a Chicago resident with a lengthy criminal record who allegedly broke into his house last Dec. 28 and again Dec. 29.
During the first break-in no one was home. Billings allegedly stole a set of house keys, car keys and a sport-utility vehicle parked at DeMar's house.
DeMar was at home with his young children the next night, when Billings allegedly broke in again. A burglar alarm went off, DeMar called 911 and then confronted Billings with a handgun -- banned by village ordinance -- and shot and wounded him. Police did not arrive until after the incident was over.
Cook County prosecutors quickly determined the shooting was justified. They did not prosecute DeMar for the shooting or for the misdemeanor of allowing his Illinois Firearm Owner's Identification card to expire while still in possession of a firearm.
However, the Village of Wilmette is going forward with its prosecution of DeMar for violating the local handgun ban ordinance. In January Wilmette charged DeMar with misdemeanors for illegally owning two handguns. He faces a fine of up to $750 if convicted.
Tim Frenzer, Wilmette's corporate counsel, said the case is on hold pending a ruling on DeMar's claim that the handgun ban ordinance is unconstitutional. Frenzer said he expects a ruling next month.
In a counterclaim filed in Cook County Circuit Court, DeMar's attorney, Robert Orman, wrote that the village and its gun-ban ordinance "punish DeMar for protecting himself and his family" and "strip DeMar of his constitutional right to privacy in the home."
The counterclaim asks the Cook County Circuit Court to dismiss the case and order Wilmette to pay DeMar's legal bills.
© 2004 IllinoisLeader.com -- all rights reserved
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
KABUL, Afghanistan — Three Americans accused of torturing Afghans in a private jail during a freelance counterterror mission went on trial Wednesday, with their ringleader denying any wrongdoing and claiming U.S. government support.
Jonathan K. Idema (search), Brett Bennett (search) and Edward Caraballo (search) were arrested when Afghan security forces raided their makeshift jail in a house in Kabul (search) on July 5. American and Afghan authorities say they were vigilantes posing as U.S. special forces and had no official backing.
Appearing before a three-judge panel in a national security court, the trio listened quietly to the charges — including hostage-taking and torture — and as three of their ex-detainees described how they were beaten, doused with boiling water and deprived of food.
The Americans, whose home towns aren't known, didn't testify. But Idema said afterward that the abuse allegations were invented. He also said he was in regular phone and e-mail contact with Pentagon officials "at the highest level."
Idema named a Pentagon official who allegedly asked the group to go "under contract" — an offer they refused.
"The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did, they absolutely supported what we did," he told reporters crowding round the dock.
That seems like a contradiction.
There was no lawyer in the court for Idema, a bearded former American soldier who appeared in a khaki uniform with a reversed American flag on the shoulder. He wore sunglasses in the dark courtroom, completing a look that had fooled even Kabul's NATO peacekeepers, who sent explosives experts to help him during three raids last month before realizing they had been duped.Here follow descriptions of torture and odd behavior by Idema.
Idema told reporters his group had arrested militants who were plotting to blow up the main U.S. military base with fuel trucks and assassinate a string of Afghan leaders.
He also said his group had delivered terror suspects to American special forces in the past. U.S. military spokesman Maj. Rick Peat said he had no information on such a handover.The American military says it doesn't know what motivated Idema's group, but there were signs on Wednesday it may have been commercial interests.Kind of a black eye for Anarcho-capitalism. Sounds like an L. Neil Smith novel, with this group as the bad guys.
Idema, who claims to have fought with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 2001-02, offered security to journalists and hawked purported Al Qaeda training videos to television networks at the time.
He stars in a top-selling book about the war called "Task Force Dagger: The Hunt for bin Laden," and is reportedly working on another.
The prosecutor said cameras and weapons were seized in their Kabul hideout, and that the Americans were "making a film on counterterrorism."
Now, I might consider it a good idea to flip Cheney and Powell, but on the other hand, that might only encourage assassination attempts. Whereas, if you kill Bush today, you get Cheney. The assassins of the world aren't looking for that possibility.
In polls of the Democratic and Republican National Committees taken by U.S. News and World Report in early 1980, Democrats overwhelmingly claimed to believe George Herbert Walker Bush was a more formidable candidate than Reagan. "We HOPE they'll run Reagan," liberals said.
Taking their cue on "electability" from the Democrats – always a great idea! – a majority of
Republican committeemen also thought future one-termer Bush was more "electable."
I actually was more impressed with Bush I than I expected to be, but I became a Libertarian because of his impurity as... Well, all right, I was pretty much born with libertarian beliefs. My uncle apparently read Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal when he was staying with us and working on the boats with Dad, so lurking in the background were these ideas I would rediscover in my mid-thirties.
Conservatives in the mold of Ronald Reagan, judging him by what he said and what he did and gauging therefrom his intentions as well as the consequences of his policies (Sound complicated? Welcome to reality.), are much closer to a correct understanding of the laws of nature than are relativists of any stripe. Relativism requires that you dismiss ancient wisdom and the experience of any of your peers, and find out by trial and error what works for you. Acknowledgement of the possibility that somebody who came before you might have some good advice about how to avoid unhappiness and pursue happiness is anathema to them. They think that there are no principles, only experience, which can't be passed on to the next generation.
And you wondered why education was in such a sorry state..
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Moving forward from the Moon
Ayn Rand believed each individual and society has a "sense of life," an emotional manifestation of their deepest appraisal of mankind and the nature of the world in which they live. If that's so, then America's sense of life might best be described as a celebration of achievements.
We Americans are an optimistic people. We believe successful pursuit of our goals is to be expected. We believe if we just put our minds and our wills to a task, we can do almost anything. We believe in exploring new frontiers, whether geographic, scientific or commercial. We believe in innovation; if a new road, a new invention or a new business plan is needed but does not yet exist, we'll create it. We believe the greatest joy comes from taking on the greatest challenges. After all, most of our ancestors took the risks of moving to a new country, often facing the physical dangers of crossing seas and mountains, the economic uncertainties of starting life in a new land and the social problems of learning a new language or customs -- all so they could acquire the best life had to offer.
There are two objections to this kind of thinking that I've heard: 1. "Not everybody can do that." Then they'll be left behind. In fact, look at my profile. I'm the guy in the train that Dagny Taggart was watching. 2. This is a second-hand story; I was riding in a car with three lawyers one day (it sounds unpleasant, but it wasn't) when one of them said he was watching BBC News or some such and there was a piece in which an American was explaining how some program or project would work and the British interviewer said, "Well, that's very American, isn't it. You figure that if you just throw enough money and time at something and you can fix it." Slug gopher that I am, I spoke up and said, "You can't solve anything without those things!" I mean, was the guy against fixing things? There must be a lot of people permanently "on strike" in England.
Was it Walter Williams, today, who was talking about the Brain Drain from Canada? Yup. Here it is.
I like to view it with my display set at 800x600, text size medium, but I click the button that, in that mode, you'll see sticking out from behind the left column, that says 1026x768. I wonder if we can get it to default to that. Then we could drop the buttons too. He did that at my request, and I see that I was wrong.
The only bug we still have to work out, beyond that, is this new tendency for the blog to drop posts older than, it seems to me, 24 hours onto the background, but that seems to be a new Blogger quirk. I've got an email in to them. That is, in fact, why I went looking for a new template.
Michael (I assume people call him that) has been honored with a collage of this page by ZuDfunck.
Now, an honest, diligent and kind-hearted man would trackback this post. I wonder if I am such a man.
Fundamentalisms, True and False
“Free market fundamentalist” is a term of abuse, intimating something badbut not showing it, thus exhibiting no respect for civilized discourse andthe human mind. And there is a way to deal with such moves—namely, to callthem what they are, verbal tricks. Although deployed by well positionedintellectuals, they reveal a desperation about lacking a solid argumentagainst the position being attacked. This is surely not a surprise.
Over the last several centuries the old faith in force of arms as themeans by which to solve human social problems has been waning. People,despite the efforts to many of the intellectuals who love the state and statist measures, have come to respect free institutions.
Well, old habits are hard to shed—for centuries and centuries most humanbeings were dealt with as wards of the state and only in America didofficialdom actually suggest giving up the idea. What is needed to counterthe bad habit of statism is, yes, free market fundamentalism—theuncompromising belief that free men and women, who renounce the use ofcoercive force, are doing the right thing. (Just think of abolitionism asa comparable fundamentalism.) This fundamentalism is well grounded in muchof philosophy, history, psychology, economics and practical life. It needsto be affirmed proudly and the suggestion that it is something lacking insophistication needs to be firmly swept aside.
Subject: 5 Minutes to Freedom!
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2000 13:32:55 EST
A FIVE-MINUTE HANDBOOK
FOR GUN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
Copyright © 2000 by JASPAR@aol.com
All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution
is permitted with this copyright notice attached.
I've been a gun rights activist for nearly 10 years.
I wasted a lot of time for the first 5 years because
no one gave me the rule book you are now reading.
Maybe that's because no one had written it. This is the stuff
I wish I had known starting on day one.
If you've just arrived at this party, the next 5 minutes you
spend reading this might save you 5 years of otherwise
wasted time and energy.
If you've been in the gun rights game for a while, this handbook
will be the fastest refresher course you've ever taken.
This past year I've received a lot of mail from jittery gun owners
who are finally waking up to what's happening to our right to keep
and bear arms (RKBA).
This handbook is mostly for them.
If the rules I list below scare off a few folks, so be it. I want
to tell it like it really is -- to give a quick snapshot of the tips,
tricks and tactics that actually work in RKBA activism.
The bad news is that this is not a complete list of the rules.
The good news is that there will never be a complete list of rules.
The rules listed below are based on my own experience from working
thousands of hours with down and dirty RKBA activist pros. I am deeply
grateful to all of them. They know who they are.
Some of these rules have been followed for so long by old-time
activists that they have forgotten what the original rules were.
It's time to list them again.
And sneak in a couple of new ones.
So read them and weep, or read them and rejoice.
NO ONE IS AS INTERESTED AS YOU ARE. Nowadays everyone's
attention span and time are limited. Be grateful if you get
anyone's attention on our issue, even for a few seconds. Some
wannabe activists come in like a lion, then disappear faster
than sh*t through a short dog. Take whatever you get from any
volunteer. Praise and thank them. Don't be disappointed when
they drift away. They will. But some come back. Keep the
light on for them.
THE NRA STINKS. So does GOA, SAF, JPFO, and any or all of the
rest of the gun rights organizations. At the same time, all of these
organizations are the best thing since sliced bread. We won't keep
our rights without them. It's normal to love them and hate them at
the same time. Be sure your complaints about them go to the person
who can do something about your problem. Never give up your
membership -- it's much easier to fix things from the inside.
Avoid griping in public -- our opponents love it when we do.
Always handle our dirty laundry behind closed doors. Always.
THERE IS NO MAGIC BULLET. There is no single answer, rule, or solution.
Never has been, and never will be. None of us will write the single
brilliant letter to the editor or internet message that will miraculously
turn everything around. Keep steadily busy. Do as much as you can,
whenever you can. Anything you do counts, but some things count
more than others. Find out what counts. Then do it.
THERE IS NO FINAL VICTORY. Preserving RKBA is an ongoing PROCESS.
We are winning and losing battles during this process, but the war
will never be over. Becoming active to keep your gun rights is a
lot like cleaning your house: it's thankless and boring work, but
necessary. Like dirt, the antigun crowd will just keep coming back.
Forever. Your activism will keep us winning more than losing.
Our opponents count on wearing us down. They love it when one of us
(not you, of course) gets discouraged and drops out. When you fully
understand and accept the reality that RKBA is a never-ending struggle,
you're automatically in the top 5 percent of all RKBA defenders.
RKBA ACTIVISM IS BORING. It's especially boring when you are doing
things that really make a difference. Most of us want drama. We want
to be entertained. Phone bank calling, precinct walking, going
to RKBA grassroots seminars -- suddenly, even a trip to the dentist
for a root canal will start to look better. Sorry, but there is no
workaround on this aspect. Freedom is not free. It's a pain in the
ass. Get used to it, get over it, and get to work.
USE THE POWER OF FEAR AND GUILT. Gun owners are susceptible
to these emotions. Awaken sleeping RKBA activists by tapping
these powerful emotions. Fear and guilt will move mountains --
and fill the collection plate, and recruit new members. If gun
owners won't become active for themselves, ask them to do it
for their families. For their children. For their country. And --
this tactic works! -- ask them to do it for YOU.
WATCH OUT FOR MISDIRECTED, TIME-WASTING EFFORTS.
E-mail to elected people is pretty much worthless -- unless
the official already personally knows you. Internet polls are
useless. Online polls make some folks think they are actually
doing something. They are not. It's a false sense of accomplishment.
It's like bringing a doctor to a dead man. Focus on the stuff that
works. If you're going to hunt ducks, go where the ducks are.
POLITICIANS ONLY CARE ABOUT VOTES AND MONEY. In-person visits,
phone calls, and snail-mailed, handwritten letters to elected folks
help -- because politicians know that if you take this much trouble,
you and your family and friends will also vote.
HOT TIP: Make yourself known to politicians for
issues other than gun rights. Don't present yourself
as a single-issue person. Praise and help politicians
on THEIR pet projects. Then, when a new gun control
law comes up, your opinion will seem especially credible.
Otherwise, you will soon be stereotyped and discounted
as a single-issue voter.
ANOTHER HOT TIP: Politicians have to explain why they
vote Yes or No on proposed laws. Sometimes they really
need your help in composing explanations to their
constituents. If you want your elected official to vote
No on a seemingly popular new gun control law, she might
be more willing to vote your way if you give her a
"back door" -- a good, common sense explanation that
she can give to all of her constituents.
GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE IN OFFICE IN THE FIRST PLACE. If we have
the right people in power, antigun laws will not be passed. Period.
The laws are what matter. This concept is so simple that many
folks can't see it, just like they can't "see" the air they breathe.
The anti-rights crowd can hold all the gun control seminars and
news conferences they want, but nothing will happen unless they
can pass more laws. This fact tells you about the how, what, where,
when, why, and with whom you should be spending your time, energy,
and money. Politicians pass laws. Therefore, you must get involved in
politics to protect your gun rights. There is just no way to get around
this. Sorry. I don't like politics either. Bummer!
STOP THE SABER RATTLING -- NOW! Avoid those shrill folks who sound
threatening or talk about doomsday. It's a waste of your time. These
noisy folks remind me of a couple in a failing marriage who only talk
about a getting a divorce instead of talking about their real problems.
If they don't solve their problems, separation or divorce becomes the
inevitable outcome. Some people get pumped up on silly fantasy
scenarios. I do not.
ARM YOURSELF WITH ACCURATE INFORMATION. Paradoxically,
bad information or disinformation is a plague in the so-called
Information Age. When you write or talk about firearms issues,
use only the facts, the truth, and the provable. Verify any quotes
that you use. Back up your generalizations with powerful and
specific examples. Get on the internet, and get your like-minded
friends online. Join several of the hundreds of net communities
that will keep you informed instantly and completely about our
special issues. Information is power!
IGNORE MEDIA SPIN AND THE NEWS WAVES. It's far too easy
to go bonkers reacting to the latest media-driven crisis. Don't
let the media push your buttons. The RKBA grassroots pros I know
do not overreact to crises. In fact, most of the ultra-pros that I
know do not react at all to media hysteria. Bashing the media about
their bias is not productive. Some gun owners use media bias as an
excuse to do nothing -- because the situation seems so overwhelming
and hopeless. Truth is, if you are a busy activist -- already steadily
doing stuff that matters -- you will find the media reacting to YOU.
Be friendly and polite with them -- not hostile. Become a reliable
source of information for them. And just keep on being ACTIVE.
JUST SHOW UP. It's been said that 80 percent of success is
showing up. Being there. Showing up to vote. Showing up at an
RKBA seminar. At your assemblyman's office. At a city council
meeting. My father's favorite motto: "Your actions speak so loud
that I can't hear a word you're saying." Your "silent" activism can
be a model for others. What will your 3 hunting buddies think when
they find out you spent an afternoon handing out brochures
door-to-door for a pro-gun politician?
DON'T MESS WITH TRUE BELIEVERS. In the time you spend trying
to convert one hard core antigun person to our side, you could
have gone out and motivated and organized 20 people who already
think like you do. Go with the flow. It's easier on your nerves,
and much more effective. Personally, I have converted several
anti-rights true believers, but never again! Lots of NRA members
are not registered voters. A lot of gun owners aren't NRA members.
Even more folks have no idea of their elected officials' positions
on gun issues. Where is your time most effectively spent? Think
about this before you spend an hour writing a clever response
to a silly message you found somewhere on the internet.
SIMPLICITY STILL MATTERS. The old rule, Keep It Super Simple
(KISS), is as important as it ever was. It applies to internet
postings, planning, speeches -- everything. And keep it short.
And keep it sweet: don't ever ridicule or insult anyone. Did you
notice that I did NOT say, "Keep It Simple, STUPID?"
YOU ARE ALL ALONE. Well, not quite alone. You do have some help.
The NRA has a staff of several hundred. There is no way humanly
possible that "the NRA" can put out all the brush fires started
by the anti-rights crowd. Pro-gun national organizations
give direction and information -- but they cannot save your
rights. Only YOU can save YOUR rights. You are 100 percent
responsible. When you fully accept this reality, you are
automatically in the top one percent of all RKBA activists.
THE HIDDEN BONUS OF GUN RIGHTS ACTIVISM. The more involved
you get with firearms freedom, the more you will realize that
your single issue actually complements and protects other human
rights issues. Personally, I am deeply offended by many aspects of
today's culture. When I focus my activism on RKBA, I can often
sense I am making a measurable difference. All rights -- like all
humans -- are connected.
WHEN IN DOUBT, JUST DO SOMETHING. Sometimes we don't know
what will work. Sometimes the rule is that there are no rules.
I once wrote an essay I thought was mediocre at best. Five years
later, I'm still receiving mail about it. Don't hesitate to try
something new and innovative -- get it out on the table! Often
your finest essay or brilliant letter will not be acknowledged,
or you will just get a form letter response. But that letter to
the editor that you dashed off in a few minutes appears in
tomorrow's newspaper! Go figure. Better yet, try not to figure.
Trust yourself, trust your instincts -- and just do something.
I'll see you in the trenches.
Copyright © 2000 by JASPAR@aol.com
All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution
is permitted with this copyright notice attached.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Now here's a man after my own heart!
"NASA was so spectacularly successful with the Apollo program, no one ever questioned if the government should be doing space or not," Gump said. "It took until this year -- that many decades -- to actually raise the question: Should our path to space be done with Stalinist central planning or with the traditional American blueprint with innovative, enterprising companies?"
In the '50s the contractions began. The water broke in the late '60s. There was a whole lot of pushing in '70s, '80s, and '90s and now, finally the baby Space Age has crowned.
"There's been a change in the assumptions about space," David Gump, LunaCorp president and co-founder, told United Press International. "Fifteen years ago it was perceived that only the government can do space -- (that) it was just too expensive for any companies to do it on their own. That assumption has fallen by the wayside and now the question is how should NASA and the private sector interact."
LunaCorp is developing a spacecraft called SuperSat to relay high-resolution, digital video of its voyage from Earth to the moon and create maps of the lunar surface. The company also plans to land a mobile, tele-operated robot on the moon that can be operated by paying visitors at science centers, theme parks and museums.
Gump is positioning LunaCorp to ride NASA's next wave of lunar exploration. He formed a coalition of small firms -- he will not say yet which companies are his partners -- that last week submitted its pitch for a $3 million study contract to design a moon mission for NASA. The agency plans to award five or six contracts, each of which would cover six months of work, with an optional extension for another six months and $3 million.
"We're at a new American space age," Rick Tumlinson, founder of the non-profit advocacy group Space Frontier Foundation, told participants at his group's Return to the Moon conference in Las Vegas this past weekend.
Leading the charge into the new frontier, which Tumlinson calls an "alternative space program," are privately developed efforts, such as SpaceShipOne, which last month became the first non-government, manned vehicle to reach space. The vessel was designed by Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites, of Mojave, Calif., and financed by Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Paul Allen.
"When I look at the moon, I see real estate," said Randa Milliron, co-founder of Interorbital Systems of Mojave, Calif., which is developing passenger launch vehicles as well as a lunar hotel.
A few more good pushes and she'll be out, we can cut the cord, nurse for a while, send her off to school...
Read it. As I say, I wish I'd written it. It's an image of a PDF, so it's a pain to exerpt here.
There's one place where there's room for mischief in the American Petroleum Institute's recommended exec. order that's been removed from the final order: point "(e) Techology can help increase supplies, lower costs and improve environmental performance and energy efficiency, meriting both private initiative and government support. "
That's a request for a subsidy. It's gone from the real order. The similarities are not as striking as Outraged Moderates claims.
Are they claiming that guilt by association with corporations is a definitive criticism? If that's an example of moderation, Michael Moore's a centrist.
Update: I should have included their bottom line:
So what practical effect does Executive Order 13211 have? It creates a bureaucratic roadblock for federal regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration. Any time their actions could potentially affect the oil industry, these agencies are put on the defensive - forced to justify the very work they were created to do.
You say that like it's a bad thing.
Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one's conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to bear the consequences of one's own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name.
-- Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom 
Thanks to The Future of Freedom Foundation.
I think that the first book of Hayek's that I got was The Fatal Conceit, and I had a hard time reading it, because I was accustomed to the straightforward writing of Ayn Rand. I had to give up on it for a while and read The Road to Serfdom, which was damn direct. Then I read The Constitution of Liberty, which I've done a sorry-assed job of reviewing for Amazon, before I got back to The Fatal Conceit; subtitled The Errors of Socialism. My father-in-law, the DFLer, demanded to know what the errors of socialism were, and, to give him credit, he gave me time to answer (most people don't), and I said, "No man, taking thought, can add one cubit to the economy." Of course, by that I mean that he can't if that is his intention...in the long run. A man can certainly add to the economy by creating or improving a product or a service that makes life better for his fellow citizens.
I like to think that I improve life by fulfilling my clients' needs for tools with which to effectively defend themselves against attacks. I should make that my mission statement.