Thursday, December 29, 2005

Here's a couple bits of wisdom from Robert Ringer:

"It makes no sense to concentrate on things that are beyond one's control, given that those things that are within one's control are more than a full-time job."


"I have learned that adversity is the one factor that should never be used as an excuse for not taking action. On the contrary, it is the single most important reason for taking action--purposeful, consistent, bold action. Ironically, then, adversity is life giving because it's a call to action--and action is life."

Both from page 247 of the hardcover Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves.

Finally finished the book (it got buried in all the holiday activities). Now I've got to take Action!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"God bless us! Everyone!"

We'll be going to Christmas Eve church service in a couple of hours. We just finished our traditional ham dinner.

We entertained my father-in-law by setting to work on some plumbing problems. No idea what the mother-in-law did all day. Laurie was cooking. And I wasn't in charge of the children, so I don't know what they were up to.

I gotta see where Santa Clause is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice today, pagans!

Dance naked in your favorite Oak Grove!

Free Image Hosting at
Photo credit.

I don't recommend doing it in Minnesota, though. It's 12° F here.

And don't get naked too early; the cops on the Mason-Dixon line are on the look-out for naked drivers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


That's not the worst guess, Steve, but the fact is, I've never been afraid to blog while drunk. Nor have I ever had the presence of mind to use Blogger's service to stop any displays of stupidity.

No, I just let the girl play Sims or whatever on the PC until story time every night. Then, after I read to her for a while, I'm just feeling to content with life to want to go opinionate or otherwise explain things to the world.

I also read a while back that my blood pressure medicine is being tested for its ability to reduce the trauma experienced by...well, by victims of rape when they remember the, uh, episode.

Well, the thought occurred to me that would also have the effect of making it hard to learn from your mistakes. Hmmm...

So now I have to worry about that possibility, AND the placebo effect of having thought of it.

Come to think of it, I'm not really all that worried.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rosie had her Christmas Program at Church yesterday.

It was a pretty good show - little kids being cute and all that. Rosie seems to have been bitten by the I-gotta-look-cool bug. She didn't smile once. She looked like she had a migraine, though she was perfectly cheerful afterwards.

When she really looked cute was she she and Aliina were sitting together on the low sill of the big picture window in the entryway eating cookies afterward. That would have been a great picture.

Too bad I won't be able to take pictures like that until I pay off the deductable of my car insurance. I had a little fender bender in the old F150. "T-boned" on the passenger side. Accustomed to driving beaters as I am, my nature would be not to even have it repaired. Just bang out the dents myself and rehang the running board so the wife can get in easier. And paint it, of course.

Unfortunately, we're still making payments on it, so the bank insists that we have the bleepin' thing restored to newish condition. You should see the list from the appraiser. Apparently the whole chassis and box have to be disassemble.

It's quite the bummer.

Anyway, that's going to be our Christmas gift to each other, so I don't think we'll be getting a new digital camera anytime soon. The digital video camera claims to be able to take stills, but I haven't figured out how to download them seperate from the video yet.

Friday, December 16, 2005

So The Prince of Darkness is leaving CNN.

Robert Novak hasn't been on the air since he stormed off the set of his show last August:
Novak said the switch to Fox had nothing to do with finding a more comfortable home for his views.

"I don't think that's a factor," he said. "In 25 years I was never censored by CNN and I said some fairly outrageous things and some very conservative things. I don't want to give the impression that they were muzzling me and I had to go to a place that wouldn't muzzle me."

© 2005 Associated Press.

Meanwhile, The Atlasphere publishes an excerpt of another Prince of Darkness's assault on a Turkish Sultan's invading camp - from In Defense of Dracula, by Marianne Grossman.


Whatever, dude.

My Daughter thought I needed a day off so she barfed at school

It took me an hour and a half to line up someone to cover for me, then I went and got her and we spent the rest of the midday reading the climax and denouement of Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

It looks like my fears about how she would take it were unfounded. I think I took it harder. You want a spoiler? Lily, James, Cedric, Sirius and Dumbledore share the most important of fates. I get into my fiction, and I've discovered that it shows when I'm reading aloud to someone. My voice breaks when the writer speaks of bravery and loyalty (to an obviously honorable person).

Anyone looking for voice talent? I find that I sound a lot like Sean Connery after I've been reading aloud for little while.

Of course, upon finishing the book I immediately offered my thoughts on how the next book(s) would go, which may have mitigated the apparent tragedy somewhat.

Here's a message from The Rammer,

As Jesse Ventura used to call him (I miss Jesse on talk radio--the dude flat-out has a lot of great stories to tell):
December 16, 2005

Alan Erkkila
[Now, I wouldn't mind if my regulars sent me stuff, or stopped by the house, but the whole world doesn't need to know my street address.]

Dear Alan:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the federal
budget deficit.

Over the past decade, federal spending has far outpaced the rate of
inflation, and it's past time for this disturbing trend to stop!

I am pleased that recent estimates by the Congressional Budget
Office show a decrease in this year's budget deficit of over $100
billion from previous estimates. And Congress must continue to
work to cut the pork from its annual spending bills.

Rest assured of my continued strong commitment to reining in
federal spending and curbing the growth of the federal

Thanks again for contacting me, as I appreciate hearing from you.
Please let me know whenever I can be helpful to you or your


Member of Congress

You stick to that philosophy like glue, dude and you've got my vote.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Here's a comely lass!

Well, it's Saturday night
And I ain't got nobody...
[Other than that gal in the easy chair
About six feet above my head and four feet ENE (who can't be considered chicken-feed, since she is my wife and has considerable skills you-know-where).]*

Oh! The pic!
See if you can guess who this is:
Free Image Hosting at
All right, she's earned a link.

I had trouble deciding between her and this gal:
Free Image Hosting at
That's a pretty hot pic if you think about it. Meditate on it for a while.

*Skills to reckon with, now that I think about it... I'll see ya later.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A brilliant summation, from the Mises Institute:

Mises taught that all societies in all times, and their governing structures, are the result of the ideas prevalent in the culture. He took it for granted that no government is classically liberal by nature. They all want maximum power and wealth, which they can only obtain at the direct expense of the people. How much will they agree to give? It is the public belief in liberty — originating with the intellectual class — that ultimately restrains the state's ambitions.

Totalitarianism is not an aberration, in this view, but the expected result of any state that is not so restrained. After all, the state can use any ideological excuse. In ancient times, it claimed to be a god, as with Pharoah. In more recent years, the excuses have included the need for community (communism), national greatness (fascism), central economic planning (the New Deal), or homeland security.

If the population is passive and uninformed by contrary voices, the state can succeed in its aims. Yet if cultural convictions are intolerant of power, and embrace the inviolable right to person and property, liberty prevails.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Wife's late comin' home tonight.

I'm worried. It was snowin' pretty good today.

I went out and scraped off the driveway.

18 degrees. For you foreigners, that's 14 degrees below freezing. Or, let's see, that's 1.8 times... no, divided by 1.8... Oh, divide by two and subract a little! -6 degrees Centigrade! That's my story an I'm stickin' to it!

Anyway, I was expecting the wench at 6:00 and she's not home yet at 8:00.

[My daughter just handed me a bag of Nestle's Semi-Sweet chocolate chips for some unknown reason. But I'll take 'em. Damn good chocolate!]

OK, the wife and youngest child got home at 9:10 and kept me busy until now, but I can stop worrying at least. They stopped at the picture store to pick up the portraits of the girls that we bought. ...Portraits that we bought of the girls.

Oh, well. I still have the chocolate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Steven den Beste is the best!

Cogent commentary from the Master may be found here.

Cryptic comment: 2-9. There's no effin' hope.

Monday, November 28, 2005

I get a newsletter from a guy named

Karim Hajee, who does a good job here of summing up my estimation of people--or rather, the position he advocates is the point of view I usually take:
How you see people is what you bring out of them.
For example: If you see a sales person as annoying you're going to always
find and attract annoying sales people. If you see a family member as a pain -
your always going to bring out the side in that person that is a pain towards
you. If you see your colleagues as jealous, competitive or vindictive then
you're always going to bring out those qualities in them - because that's what you
see in them and that's what you believe is their character.

What you believe is what you get.

Now I know some of you are going to say: "Karim, these people are that way -
I'm not making this stuff up. They really are nasty." Sure they are - and you
keep bringing out the worst in them by only seeing the dark side
of their character.

Everybody around you has some redeeming qualities - look at those positive
qualities within in them and you'll get them to display those qualities more

Next - challenge your current perception.
Ask yourself: "Is that really the way they are?"

I rarely see anyone's bad side until they've been out of my life for a while. Then I find myself thinking, "You know, when you really think about it, that guy was kind of a #*&@ wasn't he?"

I tend to keep giving people second chances. Of course, how serious a problem can they be? I'm not moving in with them. [Hmmm. I can think of three episodes in my life where they did, in fact, move in with me. Hmmm... Knowing me, I've probably suppressed a couple of memories.] My experience is that most people do eventually step up to the plate and learn how to bat by the end of the season. [Though I haven't played in the majors.]
The only way you will truly see the good in the other person is to focus on and look for their good qualities - then you'll actually see them displaying these qualities more often. Look for the good in someone and you will only attract good things to you.

So, sure, I can believe that attitude (other's perception of mine) can affect my level of prosperity. It's when they start talking about how my attitude toward inanimate or ineffable entities can affect how they repay me that doubt creeps in.

Okay, I don't doubt that if I learn how to manipulate big rocks I'll learn to build big buildings. But will being generous with rocks really bring a karmic return of rocks?

I'm being a bit facetious, of course, but I don't get the process here. Enlighten me.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

FFF, after a delay of only 450 years, has finally gotten around to

including John Lilburne in their magnificent Freedom Biographies.

I've given the links they give before, but I'll just show the articles. FFF deserves to have you go through them for the links.

John Lilburne, c.1615-1657
British Civil Wars

John Lilburne

The Bill of Rights
by Hugo L. Black
Future of Freedom Foundation

The Levelers: Libertarian Revolutionaries
by Nicholas Elliott
Foundation for Economic Education

On the 150th Page
by John Lilburne

The Resurrection of John Lilburne
by John Lilburne
Street Corner Society

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I've been reading the Harry Potter series to my daughter lately.

Exciting, funny, well-written, all that junk... It's really easy to just keep on going. She's been late to bed quite a few nights because of it.

She gets a lot more out of it than you'd think, since she kind of wanders off to play while I'm reading. She's pretty much memorized the stories. When we they refer back to something in a previous book, and I can't think of the episode, I'll ask her and she'll remind me what happened there.

She bounces around, fluttering her hands during the battles and scenes of evil villainy and treachery and laughs uproariously at the jokes. The other night she was moaning indignantly at Harry as he screamed at Dumbledore and trashed his office.

That was almost at the end of Book Five. I've read ahead and... Well, no. That would be a spoiler. I wonder if Book Six might not be a bit too intense for a little girl. The enemy is growing stronger and more vile. The only reason Harry was able to handle him in the early books was because Voldemort was handicapped by his lack of a body.

Now he has his body and his followers back and the War is on. And we're beginning to lose people we've come to care about.

I guess we'll keep going, but I'm not sure...
We went to Rosie's Parent/Teacher Conference last night. She's kickin' butt in school. The teacher said she reads and does math very well. He showed us some tests she took in which she was the only one to get a perfect score.

She doesn't do as well in the Math speed quizzes, but, well, she's kind of given to taking her time at things.

Anyway, all this reading seems to be paying off.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I was just "checkin' my look in the mirror," to quote The Boss,*

of ClustrMaps.

I am deeply pleased to see the number of hits I'm getting from Brazil and Northern Europe, particularly Finland. I want to know what I can do to keep those people coming back. I want to know what I can do to invite comments from Finns, other Scandinavians and Brazilians.

I certainly don't mean by that to denigrate my fellow upper-Midwesterners, from Indiana through the Dakotas--you're my life's blood! But... It's contact with the whole world that makes life on the Web a compelling experience.

As I sit here tonight at my computer, I have Robert Ringer's essay, The Survival of Western Civilization, in print form in my pocket. I'd very much like to hear comments on it from all over the world.

I suspect my comments would be strongly in it's defense, but I know that I am easily swayed by strong civil-libertarian, Objectivist and anarcho-capitalist arguments as well.

If you let things stand as they are now, I will remain, as Ringer is, a theoretical libertarian/pragmatic conservative.

My vote is actually up for grabs here. In the last election, from what I had heard, had I been a citizen of either Virginia or Colorado I would have voted for the Democrat candidate for governor just to teach those effin' Republicans (In Name Only AKA RINOs) a lesson. At least, if they didn't have a good Libertarian opponent. I did, in fact, vote for the Democrat against our local RINO Rep. Jim Ramstad, in the last Congressional race.

The guy was a Commie, but what the hell's the practical difference?

*Dancin' In The Dark the theme song of my summer of 1984 (absolutely no relation to the book 1984, which is, none-the-less, a must-read. I need to tell that story. Though, it absolutely was not as torrid as Summer of '42, so don't get your hopes up. I think it would be interesting in many other ways. It began with me quoting Davey Crockett's famous phrase, "Ya'll can go to Hell! I'm goin' to Texas!"

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Gratuitous link time

A couple comments about the last few people who've commented on my blog.

Omni Unmasked:
Free Image Hosting at

More or less.

The most prominent product of Omni Consumer Products Corporation. (Photo courtesy of RoboCop Archive.)

I've said that I'm partial to strong women.


Kyle Bennett: odds are, he's a relative. (I've got a ton of relatives named Bennett. It's kind of like being related to Louis L'Amour's Sacketts: there's a lot of 'em, and they have a habit of showing up when you're in trouble.)

Read his stuff. It'll be good for ya.


I've already told you to read LibertyBob.

Get on the stick! I wasn't kiddin'!

If you like Iowa Hawk, The Onion, Lileks or Shakespeare (none of whom link me yet are all worth every moment you can spare for them) you'll enjoy LibertyBob.

At least check him out as a favor to me.

[Wait a minute! "[F]ourteen rooms, if you don’t count bathrooms, basement rooms, closets, or entry hall"?! That doesn't, somehow seem exceptional to you?! [How do you find the "general" category, anyway?]


Mark. Isn't he a stinkin' Pats fan?

Oh, well... I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm a generic football fan with an emphasis on the Packers. I want the Pack to win the Superbowl, but I enjoy watching whatever game's on right now. (Though, I can't quite justify spending a beautiful Saturday indoors, so college ball is out. If any of the teams I really cared about were ever on TV, that might change: the UM=Duluth Bulldogs or the--now defunct as a football squad--UW-Superior Yellow Jackets). So, I do appreciate his appreciation of Football.


TF Stern and Ron deserve some attention too, but I'm out of time. And TF pulled the old "double-http://" trick last time he stopped by, so he gets the Boner of the Month award.


Definitions of gratuitous on the Web:

without cause; "a gratuitous insult"
complimentary: costing nothing; "complimentary tickets"; "free admission"
unnecessary and unwarranted; "a strikers' tent camp...was burned with needless loss of life"

In all honesty, I've sent these links in payment for these people's attention. I appreciate it when people read and comment. Even when they belly-ache.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Just checkin' out the old TTLB rankings.

Here's his list of people (presumably) who link me.

Some of you are really kickin' some A.

Some of you need to get to work. You know who you are.
Links by Source:
Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave (# 101) - 1 link

The Moderate Voice - - (# 112) - 1 link

Radio Blogger (# 194) - 1 link

Mean Ol' Meany (# 348) - 1 link

Mover Mike - (# 685) - 1 link

hamstermotor (# 725) - 1 link

The Unrepentant Individual (# 1022) - 1 link

One Billion Red Chinese and a Dog Named (# 1223) - 1 link

Eric's Grumbles Before The Grave (# 1452) - 1 link

Every Topic in the Universe(s?) (# 1578) - 1 link

The Will to Exist (# 1970) - 1 link

T F Stern's Rantings (# 2842) - 1 link

Perspective and Soda (# 3060) - 1 link

Libertopia (# 3188) - 1 link

CDR Salamander (# 3740) - 1 link

The Catholic Packer Fan (# 4765) - 1 link

Propaganda Machine (# 6162) - 1 link

86 Tips? (# 6267) - 1 link

Lance Burri (# 6707) - 1 link (# 7002) - 1 link

Starsplash (# 8033) - 1 link

The Will to Exist (# 9383) - 1 link

Mister Pterodactyl (# 12025) - 1 link

Fuki Blog (# 13483) - 1 link

Of course, I've gone from a Large Mammal down to a Flappy Bird, so who am I to criticize.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Oh!! S__T!!

Please Help!
I'm not sure that anyone out there reads these blogs.
But, just in case:

I live only a few miles from where the F3 or F4 tornado ripped through Evansville, IN the other night.
This is one of those "realities" that you see only on the National level. Yesterday morning we woke up to local, very local, death and destruction.

Please, if you can, give to the American Red Cross and mark it for Vanderburgh or Warrick County.



Monday, November 07, 2005

There's a history lesson over at the Mises Economics Blog.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the "Wirtschaftswunder" or economic miracle of post-WWII Germany. The development aid of the Marshall Plan was only a tiny part of it (and you're undoubtedly familiar with the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of development aid elsewhere):
On the evening of June 20, 1948, Erhard went on the radio to announce the particulars of what came to be known as "the bonfire of controls." The first part of the Erhard-Röpke plan was monetary reform and the introduction of a new currency, the Deutschemark. One new mark was traded for 10 of the old Reichmarks. The money supply shrank by more than 90 percent, bringing postwar inflation a quick end. The second reform eliminated controls on prices and wages and reduced business and personal taxes. Within days, shops began to fill with items for sale, the food shortages began to disappear and business investment returned.

These postwar reforms created a strong, market-oriented system that allowed the West German[2] economy to perform brilliantly for several decades. Per capita GDP tripled between 1950 and 1974. Unemployment shrank to a mere 2.5 percent as the country added 8 million jobs. An economy that had grown on average between 1913 and 1950 by only 0.3 percent grew between 1950 and 1973 at 5.7 percent — nineteen times as fast, averaging over 8 percent annually during the 1950s. Germany shook off defeat and became a leading player in the world economies, outperforming Britain, France and many others. Only Japan among the major economies of the time had a faster growth rate between 1950 and 1973.

Erhard's policies brought a postwar economic boom, but their very success led to the nation's current economic malaise. Thinking that they had found a Golden Goose of endless prosperity, the German government, with the full backing of electoral majorities, began to adopt policies beginning in the 1960s that moved the country away from free markets and back towards the very controls Erhard had abolished. Tax and regulatory burdens grew. Mandates on wages and working conditions created labor-market rigidities and price controls reduced flexibility in the economy. Increasingly generous payments to unemployed workers fed a decline in Germany's labor market participation rates. As is generally the case, the effects of these policies lagged their implementation, but the effects were precisely what standard economic theory predicts when people's incentives are changed by increasing welfare state programs.

Here is the link. They have comments.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Paul Anderson was my hero since I was 14.

I mentioned him before. He held to world squat record from 1964 until it was tied recently at 1200#. As far as I know, he still hold the records for the most weight ever lifted by a human, 6270 lbs.

These are the same pictures I have in my book. Here is a quick summary of the story that I read at age 14. I'm pretty sure I still have the book around here somewhere.

He died one year after my Dad.

It looks, from this viewpoint, like the double blow was too much for me - though the first was plenty. I try to fight the thought that 1934-1993 is the lifespan I can expect, but I have to fight the fact that my other hero's lifespan was 1932-1994.

It reminds me that three of my uncles--Dad's brothers--were born later and died earlier.... And Uncle friend...was born in 1960 and died in 1980.

I've already mentioned that my first mentor, Phil Lindelof, whom I came to know in 1972, when he was my Sunday School teacher, drowned in 1974, while my parents were taking a trip together on "the boat."

Phil was the Minnesota/Wisconsin armwrestling champion.

My friends were better armwrestlers than me, but I could out brench-press all of them. I discovered that after I discover Paul Anderson's book.

It was important to me that Paul Anderson shared my religious beliefs.

I know that those beliefs took a blow with my father's death. (Remember, he asked me to help him commit suicide, which meant, in his condition, that I should actively kill him--God did it for me two weeks later, for which I feel no gratitude.)

I wonder if Paul Anderson's death within a year wasn't a further serious blow.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I'm going to have to add a link

to this guy John Ray at Dissecting Leftism. Thanks Steve.

Oh, and I fixed up my last, awful post over in the workshop.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Check out the pic that goes with this caption,

Japan's Hayabusa space probe has drawn closer to its celestial target: asteroid Itokawa. Spacecraft is being prepared for touchdown this month on the space rock, picking up specimens for return to Earth, and deploying a small lander that can hop from spot to spot on the asteroid. Image Credit: JAXA/ISAS

Here's what Ron Paul and the Liberty Committee are up to:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is censoring health information. The pharmaceutical companies are the winners. You and your family are the losers.

The FDA is censoring health information. For example, the FDA prohibited the claim that folic acid reduces the risk of neural tube defects for four years while the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention recommended every woman of childbearing age take that supplement. Thus, the FDA contributed to an estimated 10,000 preventable neural tube defects.

An estimated 300,000 Americans die each year from sudden-death heart attacks. That number, however, could be reduced by 40% if people were allowed to know that fish oil treats heart arrhythmias and heart thrombosis. An estimated 20 million Americans suffer pain and debilitation from osteoarthritis. That number, however, could be reduced substantially if people were allowed to know that glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate treat osteoarthritis. An estimated 50% of males over the age of 50 suffer from a benign enlarged prostate. That number, however, could be reduced if men were allowed to know that saw palmetto extract treats benign prostatic hyperplasia. The evidence for these dietary ingredients claims is overwhelming -- yet the FDA bans them outright!

In 1994, the U.S. Congress ordered the FDA to let the public have access to scientific articles and publications on the role of nutrients in disease by passing the Dietary
Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). In addition, four federal court orders have condemned the FDA's practice of censorship as a violation of the First Amendment. Yet, censorship by the FDA goes on!!

The Health Freedom Protection Act would prevent the FDA from censoring Americans' right to know about truthful, health-enhancing benefits of foods and dietary ingredients.

Congressmen Ron Paul, Walter Jones and John Duncan will introduce the Health Freedom Protection Act on Wednesday, November 9th. Please urge your U.S. representative to become an original cosponsor of this legislation. To send your message, go to .

Kent Snyder
The Liberty Committee

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

So I thought I'd check in on the world of Powerlifting today.

I'd kind of lost touch with it during my college years, reading Muscle Builder and then Muscle and Fitness and Flex. The Weider mags tended to direct you into bodybuilding. But both variations of weight training tended to get me too fired up and then I'd go and injure myself.

Anyway, I found a page with the latest Squat, Bench and Deadlift records and I thought I was reading a typo! One page said that a guy named Gene Rychlak had Bench Pressed 1005 lbs.

Looking for verification, I found this Wikipedia entry and another one, from the Weider mag Health & Fitness.

This blurb is from Rychlak's own website:
On Sunday November 21,2004 at the IPA Nationals
in Shamokin Dam, Pa
Big Gene Bench Pressed 1,005lbs
to become the first and only man to ever Bench over 1,000lbs

Slate has an interesting article on the subject as well.

Interview of Rychlak here, with a picture. Oh, hell! Here:
Free Image Hosting at
See if you can figure out which one benches 1000 lbs.

BTW, he's also squatted over a thousand pounds as well.

This is a picture (also from Critical Bench) of Mike "Mule" Miller, world squat record-holder (1200 lbs even)--6'4" 400 lbs. Is this the physique you expect to see when you hear "400 lbs"?
Free Image Hosting at
By the way, that record ties Paul Anderson's lift for the Guiness Book folks from 1964. It was reading his book that turned me on to weightlifting originally.

I started out writing this, thinking I'd make fun of bench shirts and squatting suits, but frankly, I'm too chicken to pick a fight with these guys.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Omni's reminiscences about her horrible Halloweens

growing up made me feel that it's important to catalogue our experience last night. (Trust me, I've never considered Halloween important before now.)


Laurie got hold of an exceptionally cute cow costume for Aliina, so she thought it would be fun if I dressed as a cowboy and Rosalie dressed as an Indian. My father was a country singer and I inhereted his last Stetson and a nice cowboy shirt, so all I needed was a leather vest to complete my ensemble. Rosie was a little more difficult, but, though you may think that I excessively ridicule my wife's efforts at creating a happy home for us (I still think she's a disorganized slob--I'll show private pictures of the TV corner to any e-friends who doubt that judgment--Look! Any space of which my wife is in charge would be impeccably decorated if you could keep out the piles of dirty laundry, food wrappers, junk mail, bills, receipts, warranties, packages or toilet paper....)... The fact is, she can see deep into a persons soul and find the silly, frivolous, superficial game that will actually bring you joy. You learn not to ignore her recommendations lightly. If she says, "Do this," and it sounds stupid, the odds, as I interpret them with my experience, are that, even giving it a half-hearted effort, you'll have the time of your life.

Of course, the fact that my baby was the cutest kid in the neighborhood had a lot to do with my pleasure. I was just part of her costume. And Rosie, of course, was a beautiful [red-headed] indian girl.

I especially enjoyed it when I heard the Mexican family say (my Spanish is bad) something like, "...que a la vaca!"

I'll have to scan the pics when we get them developed. The HP photosmart 120 digital camera seems to have given up the ghost.

Monday, October 31, 2005


What the hell's wrong with that?!

I'm spouting off, before I study what THEY have to say.

I will study it. Let's see where that leads, eh?

My apology to Ron

To cut right to the chase, here's the last line:
My first comment was harsher than I intended. I'm sorry about that. The rest of what you said I agree with.

Here's the comment exchange from this post:

Gold. Hm. Not enough of it in the world to cover our 10 trillion a year economy. And not enough of it in our country to cover the dollars floatig around the world. The only thing that we have backing up our currency is the good name of our nation. Our backs so to speak. Our honor. If there is a succesor fed chairman that thinks that inflating our currency would be better-n-deflating it he needs only to remember Chile under Pinoche. Or Stagfaltion back in the late 70's under Jimminy Carter. If he is looking at prestige he needs to to remember the Fed Chairman who residgned/was canned in disgrace over those money policies. What was his name? Hm. Maybe that is what I mean. I remember Paul Volker who stabilized our money supply and committed us to the policies we now have.

As far as a minable gold supply? The Ocean has an estimated 500 tons disolved per cubic mile of ocean water. Now if we could only figure out how to get it out of there.

My my, the guy that invents that process will Be rich. Rich I tell you. Filthy stinking Rich.

Jam 5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

Besides the bible warns against it.

If I were going to store up anything I would store up dry goods because like the little song we sang in church a loaf of bread will by a bag of gold.

Or in my case I like Mac and Cheese.
ron | Homepage | 10.28.05 - 6:30 pm | #


You really need to read Human Action, Ron. Tell me where to send it and I'll mail you my spare copy.

Your econ teacher was mired in Keynes--or, if you were lucky (and I doubt that you were)--Monetarism. Study a theory that's not steeped in Statism.
Old Whig | Homepage | 10.29.05 - 4:39 am | #


Okay, I guess I wasn't too clear. This is what I thought was wrong, "Gold. Hm. Not enough of it in the world to cover our 10 trillion a year economy."

That 10 trillion number wasn't inevitable. What has the purchasing power of a Double Eagle done since we dropped it as our currency?

It was the $20 bill in 1900. You could get a really nice suit for that then. For the value of an ounce of gold now, you can get a really nice suit.

My first comment was harsher than I intended. I'm sorry about that. The rest of what you said I agree with.
Old Whig | Homepage | 11.01.05 - 12:37 am | #

But I strongly encourage everyone to read A lot of BS could be prevented that way.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Rosa Parks is lying in state at the Capital.

First woman ever to receive that honor.

Can you think of anyone more deserving of it?

I guess it's sad that the honor was still there to be given, yet... Who better?

The Packers and Vikings both lost.

I expected that. Considering the lack of healthy players, the Packers' loss was considerably less ignominious than the Vikings'. But the Vikes lost Culpepper, maybe for the season.

I may not be a true Vikings fan, but I am a Culpepper fan. I think he's great.

I hope it's just a sprain.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ah, the benefits of Googling yourself...

I just found a guy who quoted my Amazon review of Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty.
Central Planning

I rather like a comment on Friedrich A. Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty, made by Alan Erkkila on Amazon:

Probably the most important insight in my own personal life [from this book] runs to the effect that the gap between the wisest among us and the most foolish among us is not as great as the most sophomoric among us think. It is, unfortunately, the last who suffer the cravings of power the most and wish to run our lives for us. This is my paraphrase, Hayek was much more polite.

posted by James DeLong @ 11:35 AM | Markets

He pulled out the good part. Even at that you can see my tendency to try to stuff too much into a single sentence. Ten years of German takes a toll.

I ran across an unlikely quote from Fabian Socialist

George Bernard Shaw: "You have to choose between trusting to the natural stability of gold and the natural stability of the honesty and intelligence of the members of the government. And, with due respect to these gentlemen, I advise you to vote for gold."

I got it in the free newsletter Money and Markets. They believe Ben Bernanke is so afraid of deflation that he's going to inflate the money supply. Of course the Fed chair isn't a dictator, but the concern is that Ayn Rand's right about committees: they're run by the most persuasive member. At least when the members are more worried about power and prestige than accomplishing the goals for which they were founded.

The advantage of gold is that it serves the Market, not the whims and fashions of politicians. The Market has the virtue of being the aggregated decisions of a vastly larger and more diverse collective--indeed, the largest and most diverse collective possible. It's not infallible, but it does a better job of aggregating human wisdom than any smaller group can. See James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds for examples.

Capitalism Magazine has published the second chapter

of Craig Biddles', Loving Life: The Morality of Self-Interest and the Facts that Support It. Here are a few quotes:
If there is such a thing as morality, it is not merely an issue of effective means; it is also--and more fundamentally--a matter of proper ends. The concept of "morality" logically presupposes a proper end; without such an end, morality cannot exist. So the question is: What is a proper end?

Then, from part II:
The is--ought gap is the secular subjectivists' technical retreat. It serves as their linguistic asylum from the imposition of any moral standards. It is their ticket to "get away" with whatever they (or their group) feel like doing. And it is why no one can answer them when they say: "There are no moral absolutes" or "Morality is not black and white" or "Who's to say what's right?"

People who make such claims are counting on our inability to name a fact-based, logically provable, objective standard of moral value. Consciously or not, they are relying on the is--ought dichotomy to defend moral subjectivism. And, consciously or not, they are supported by the likes of David Hume and the legions of subjectivist college professors who each year teach another batch of future intellectuals that moral principles cannot be derived from the facts of reality.

What do Hume and company propose as an alternative? How, in their view, are people supposed to determine what is morally right and wrong? How are we to distinguish virtue from vice? Their answer: By reference to a "moral sense," which they also call "sentiments of pleasure and uneasiness" and, you guessed it: "feelings."

The problem is not: "If there is no God, anything goes." The problem is: If there is no objective standard of value, anything goes. If there is no rationally provable standard of value, there is no way to defend with moral certainty what is right or to condemn with moral certainty what is wrong. The alternative is not religion versus subjectivism, but reason versus subjectivism--and the secular subjectivists know it.

And, from part III:
The is--ought gap represents a moral abyss. If we care about human life and happiness, we need to bridge it. We need to ground morality in reality; we need to discover a rationally provable ultimate end--a standard of value derived from observation and logic.

Fortunately, the problem has been solved; the gap has been bridged; morality has been tied to reality. An objective standard of value has been rationally proved...

And I don't have to dig out my copy to verify my summary, it's the title of the book: Loving Life, i.e. live in such a way that you love living. Interestingly, there's a pretty good explanation of what that means in Andrew Bernstein's series Villainy: An Analysis of the Nature of Evil. (That's part I, there are links to the rest on the right. Part IV is due on Saturday.)

You may have noticed that I made little effort to defend Ayn Rand a few posts back. The fact is that I when I examined Kant and his most faithful intellectual descendants I had to say that it looked to me like she had mischaracterized him. Without doubt the most famous philosophers post-Kant promptly shoved their heads up their asses, but Jakob Fries actually advanced the philosophy and some others have as well. Schopenhauer wasn't a complete loser.

Having said that, I still think Rand and her descendants are more correct with regard to "Practical Reason" than Kant was. But I'm a lot closer to being an expert on Objectivism than anything else.

Rand, Bernstein... Yaron Brooke, Craig Biddle, Tara Smith... do a lot better job of defending Objectivism than I could. I've come to realize that my strength is doing more than... well, I think well, but I don't have confidence in my debating abilities.

That's why I've decided to do capitalism, rather than just talk about it. I'll keep you apprised of the results.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

RIP Rosa Parks

"I thought back to the time when I used to sit up all night and didn't sleep, and my grandfather would have his gun right by the fireplace, or if he had his one-horse wagon going anywhere, he always had his gun in the back of the wagon," she wrote. "People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in."
--from My Life, by Rosa Parks (quoted in the Washington Post).

Friday, October 21, 2005

For those of you who've never gotten around to reading FA Hayek's classic, The Road to Serfdom

this is a quick downloading version of the cartoon edition published by Look Magazine.

Hayek, by the way, is the originator of the name of this blog (the Old Whig part, not the Brain Dump part - that latter part's my fault).

I discovered BK Marcus via the fact that he wrote this excellent intro to Mises' first published piece upon his escape to America in 1941: a German history lesson printed in the New York Times for those who may have been confused by Goebbels' propaganda in answer to a speech Wendell Willkie had had broadcast to the German people.

[Sorry about the awful sentence. Maybe I'll edit that later. Who can say?]

Might as well throw in the towel, boys!

France claims cultural victory over America
By Colin Randall
France claimed a significant victory last night in its relentless battle against the march of American culture with the adoption of internationally-backed protections.

As Tom Sawyer said, "Just 'cause you say so, don't make it so."
Supported notably by Canada, France was the driving force behind a "cultural diversity" convention agreed by 148 of the 154 countries which took part in the vote at the Paris general conference of the United Nations arts and culture agency, Unesco.

Good thing Bush decided to revive our funding for that, eh?
America was virtually isolated, with Israel the only other country to vote against the treaty and four nations abstaining.

It failed to force through a series of amendments to weaken the text, which reaffirms the rights of countries to "protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions".

For the French establishment, indignant at failures to resist invasion of "Anglo-Saxon" - which usually means English speaking - entertainment, the treaty amounts to a "manifesto for an alternative globalisation".

France devotes huge resources to protecting francophone arts, spending many millions of pounds each year to prop up French cinema, theatre and opera.

But that is not enough to satisfy the influential cultural lobby and a string of single-interest trade groups.

Commentators routinely deplore the perceived simplistic morality and emotional shallowness of American cinema, as well as the cheap thrills of Euro Disney, despite their popularity.

You can't convince your compatriates that your products are superior to ours, so you resort to empty political maneuvers. This is not a cultural victory. Your culture buys our stuff. This is a victory of political elitists.

If you want to defeat America and Britain in the culture war, you need to free your culture from the burden of your political class. Quit politics and write a novel, poem or screenplay.

If you keep fighting your culture war with your antiquated weapons, well... to appropriate a phrase from that fallen prophet, Nikita Khrushchev, We will bury you.
The courts even ruled that the First World War film, A Very Long Engagement, starring Audrey Tautou, was not French enough to qualify for state subsidies.

The fact that they wanted them is plenty cause for shame.
Rival French film makers objected because most of the production budget was met by Warner Bros through its French subsidiary. Yet the film was made in France and in French, with a French cast and production team, providing work for 2,200 people.

Britain supports the convention but not without differences of interpretation that could trigger future rows.

The Brits need to read Anthem. That kind of appeasement doesn't end well.
Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the French culture minister, hailed the "recognition that culture is not merchandise like any other".

Tell it to the guy trying to make a living selling books or movies.

I just noticed that Steve Gigl changed the title of his blog

to Perspective and Soda (formerly known as GigglePundit).

He's unloading a '96 Mercury Sable, if you're interested.


We got CAKE and ICE CREAM and everything!

Rosie's 9, so the place'll be crawlin' with little rugrats. Or half-grown rugrats, or whatever they are.

You didn't get an invitation?

Call our customer service line at 1-800-LETEMEATCAKE.

Hey, did you guys see this post by John Lott

on the... well, here's the title: Why Judges Aren't Smarter The less sterling a candidate's record, the more likely Congress is to confirm. By John R. Lott, Jr., resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

So politicians don't like smart people. Xenophobia, I guess.
Using the work of legal scholars like Stanford's Lawrence Lessig and the University of Chicago's William Landes, I also looked at measures of quality once a judge was on the bench, including the number of citations to their opinions and the number of published opinions. I found that the more influential the judge, the longer it took him or her to be confirmed. For instance, after accounting for tenure, I found that each 1% increase in citations of a judge's opinions increased the length of the confirmation process for circuit court by 3%. Looking at the data, it appears that fights over nominees such as Robert Bork had much more to do with their influence than their somehow being more extreme than other nominees. Fourth circuit court of appeals judge James Wilkinson is another example of a highly-cited judge who took a long time (273 days) to be confirmed.

How does anybody manage to get nominated in the first place? Oh, silly me, I keep thinking people are advanced according to their merit. We're talking politics, not some rationally run enterprise.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I've been a little distressed about the fact that my studies of Objectivist philosophy and Austrian economics,

which I believe are pretty much correct, over the past decade haven't led to any practical results - i.e. a material improvement in my quality of life - and wouldn't be likely to do so for anyone looking to better their* own condition. So I've begun to study the actions of people who actually practice Capitalism. I judge those practitioners their adherence to the teachings of the philophers: Objectivists and Austrians both preach honesty and openness - Glasnost and Perestroika, if you will - with customers, partners, investors and neighbors - anyone who might be harmed by fraudulent claims or destructive practices.

Since marketing and sales seem to be the capitalistic activities most under attack these days, I have decided to focus my attention on them to see if the attacks are warranted. Not being a "people person" myself, I thought I'd particularly be suited to join the marketers. I want to learn marketing and join them to see if the claims made are accurate as well as to find out if the claims of those who push marketing as a career will help guys like me achieve prosperity. [bad--edit]

*Unlike Robert Ringer, and many others, and also unlike more politically correct types, who would have us use he/she, his/hers or other cumbrous terminology, I'm inclined, by the fact that I had three older sisters very close to my own age to use the plural "they" as my generic term. I'm emboldened by the fact that Finnish has a non-sex-specific third person pronoun "h¨an"; and, even with that, they've taken to using "se," which means "it," as their colloquial third-person pronoun.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I watched the Vikes embarass themselves on the field

to complement their antics on the boat.

Those people who like to blame the QB for everything, well, I saw him make a couple mistakes, but really Culpepper's problems are a lack of protection and sorry receivers.

Anybody remember when I said I'd post a sexy pic

if I happened to be up blogging at about midnight Saturday night?

Image Hosted by

No, that's not what I meant. My blogs are my donations the Universe, not [really not - and, trust me, my wife doesn't let me forget it] money making ventures.

I said Dr. Ruwart is hot. I offer this proof (I'll never again go to an event she's involved in without a great digital camera, I promise):

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Now, I'm 6 foot even. I have a good friend who's 6' 7". I can vouch that Ms. Ruwart is at least 5' 5" and probably one or two inches taller, so Ken Sturzenacker, former Chair of the Libertarian Party of PA, has to be at least 6' 6". He's probably more like 6' 10".

Friday, October 14, 2005

Since I saw him over on

Robert Ringer Blog, I've been waiting breathlessly for the next installment of From the Desk of Michael Ross - Objectivist. The signs say a new post is immanent.

I must have given a Ross to the universe. They keep coming back to me: this guy, Kelly Ross of, Ross McKenzie, E.G. Ross... Can Diana be said to be in my life?

The success literature is just loaded with that kind of Karma talk. If it's science, as Wallace Wattles would have it, then it doesn't matter if I doubt it.

There's been a blimp flying around town saying "Enough is Enough": I want to be able to afford one of those. [Yeah, I thought that phrasing was funnier.] Out of the 70% of my net income left over after saving, investing and tithing.

I'm visualizing that.

But I don't know how I gave out Rosses to get so many back, so I'm not getting any insight into how to give blimps to the universe to receive blimps back.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Steve lured me over to The Conservative Philosopher

where I ran into this article, On Rand's Misunderstanding of Kant, by William Vallicella, which I'd like to summarize, but he's really quite succinct. Read The Whole Thing.
[T]he question is not whether Kant's ethical doctrine is true or reasonably maintained; the question is simply whether Rand has fairly presented it. The answer to that is in the negative.

So I persist in my view that Rand is a hack, and that this is part of the explanation of why many professional philosophers accord her little respect.

This is the comment I intend to leave, if and when I get approval for commenting there:
It appears that she confused Kant with Compte. And didn't do any research to verify her position.

Although she does discuss Compte elsewhere, if I remember right, she still blames his errors as stemming logically from Kant's.

I also think that she's considering the fact that immediately after Kant the most influential philosophers were Compte, Hegel and Marx. Then, soon after, we get Stirner and Nietzsche.

The claim could be made that their failings were a failure to understand Kant. It seems to me that they pretty much ignored his more important points and took off in other, fanciful directions instead of building on his foundation. They rebelled against scientific thought.

Jakob Fries, on the other hand, made important revisions and original contributions to Kantian thought. See for elaboration.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The funniest item from James Taranto's

Best of the Web column in the WSJ today:

Say What?
"Outer Space Fish Balls Real Chinese Take-Away"--headline, Associated Press, Oct. 12

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dr. Mary Ruwart is offering $150 in premiums

to those who buy Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression tomorrow, Tuesday Oct. 12. I have a copy. It may be time to get another.

I have the earlier version as well, personally signed by her. My brain turned to complete mush when I met her at the MNLP convention in 2000. Primarily because she's stunningly beautiful; I didn't know her work then. I do now. She has a stunningly beautiful vision for the world as well.

I wonder if that web page is Ringer's handiwork. He does that sort of thing, and he'd definitely do it for her. I'm pretty sure he's been writing the fundraising letters for The Advocates for Self-Government lately.

Speaking of Ringer, I'm adding David Kuhn's Society of Ringers blog. Or actually, the blog is called Robert Ringer Blog. And I'll probably put up Ringer's article archives along with it.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Here's the hook I made at the blacksmith's shop:

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I just realized that the brassing doesn't show in this picture. The wife was telling me it was dumb to try to shoot it after dark, but I never listen to her.

Partly it's that I chopped it out of this picture:
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My camera claims to be good for close-ups, by I've always been disappointed with my results.

What I dearly wish I had a good picture of ("...the best writers of English have always ended their sentences with prepositions." --All right, I forget which great writer of English wrote that, but I guarantee you'll see it in Chaucer, Shakespeare and the KJV.) was Rosie and I dancing over the rocks of the breakwater leading out to the lighthouse at the Superior entrance to St. Louis Harbour on Wisconsin Point.

Wisconsin Point was, until the 1990s, one of the great bastions of freedom in the world. There was no Authority there at all. The camping was wonderful, and the partying was awesome.

But the government's there now.

Of course, they didn't stop us from running out to the lighthouse, as dangerous as that is. Rosie was cautious, but she made it. If you don't trust your balance, it's like rock is rock climbing--it'd be very easy to break your leg. For a semi-decent athlete, it's a challenging jog and a good exercise in concentration. But, of course, I didn't want to leave my beloved Rosie behind to fend for herself, or let her become discouraged, so I tried to show her the easy way and sometimes let her find it for herself.

She often makes me proud, and she did that day. That's just about my favorite thing in the world to do, and it was wonderful to share it with her. As I did with the boys 15 years ago.

Here we are today:
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I should mention that my cheap digital camera has a three second delay after you push the button, so that explains why Niina's not smiling and Rosie's book has closed. It's an HP Photosmart 120. Hopefully they've figured out some of these problems since 2003.

Robert Ringer has this purported quote from The Buddha

in his book, Action! Nothing Happens Until Something Moves (p. 50 of the hardcover):
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.


And your own research and experience.

I'm particularly enamored of the section beginning on that page: Universal Principles:
All of life is based on universal principles or laws. We cannot create or alter principles; we can only try to discover them, and once discovered, find ways to use them to our advantage. A principle is a natural law that has always existed and will continue to exist as long as there is a universe. A principle is the essence of reality.

the foundational principle of the universe, as well as all aspects of secular life, is well known to everyone: Actions have consequences. If I push you (an action), something will happen: i.e., there will be a consequence. You may fall down, you may stumble, or, at the very least, you will feel pressure against your body. You may also get mad at me, walk away, or push me back. The point is that I cannot escape the reality that my action, no matter how small, will have consequences. Where I start to invite problems into my life is when I delude myself into believing that I can push you without there being any consequence at all.

Believing that one can create his own principles is a futile and dangerous way to live life. Of course, a person has a perfect right to go on believing whatever he wants to believe, but truth isn't discriminatory. It will mere our negative consequences just as harshly to a well-meaning, ignorant individual as to one who is malicious and self-delusive. Not once has truth excused anyone for being well meaning.

You can find more of what he has to say at (those are his article archives).

Friday, October 07, 2005

I just stopped by The Will To Exist blog.

We had a debate here awhile back about what could motivate a rationally-selfish person to perform heroically in combat.

Trevor Snyder has more insight into that than I could ever have [since I failed miserably in my effort to join the Marines in 1981, Al said, bitterly -- but I digress].

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I just want the world to know that some of us pragmatic-libertarian/Objectivists, who know full well the ideals that are worth fighting for, are actually putting our lives on the line for them.

BTW, 25 For Freedom is looking for a few good men and women. I'm a recruiter (not the only one). Show me your stuff.

I'm sure we're all praying for Trevor's safe return.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In keeping with my desire to become an Aristotle scholar,

I picked up a book at the library called Aristotle's Children, by Richard E. Rubenstein. Subtitled, "How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages."

Just about dead center in the middle of the book, P. 176, there's this interesting paragraph:
It is Odd to think of professional heresy-hunters [the newly-founded orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans] as the advocates for a revolution in thinking, and a scientific revolution at that. From a modern vantage point, one would expect the more secular-minded masters of arts to have been the Aristotelian movement's strongest advocates, and theological zealots its most adamant opponents. But the Dominican and Franciscan theologians were not "fundamentalists" in the modern sense. They were passionate conservatives who believed that the European awakening was irreversible and that the tools of reason, even those developed by pagan philosophers, could be used to advance the long-term interests of orthodox religion. As a result, the most militant and confident defenders of the faith, at this crucial juncture in Western intellectual history, were also the most committed advocates of the new learning. This potent combination of religious fervor and intellectual power virtually guaranteed the acceptance of natural philosophy and "scientific theology" at the University of Paris. From this influential base, Aristotelian ideas and methods would spread unstoppably throughout Europe's other universities, generating new controversies and stimulating new debates.

This was about the early- to mid- 13th century.

My only quibble with what he says is that I know quite a few fundamentalists. I doubt that their understanding of the term "fundamentalist" - which they proudly acknowledge - overlaps much with Mr. Rubenstein's.

I am, of course, speaking of the American, Christian fundamentalists whom I know. I've known one who might live down to the level of bull-headed ignoramous that rabid, left-wing atheists like to portray as typical. But I haven't talked to him in 20 years. (The guy drove me to Nietzsche.)

Hide the Salami?!

[Here, let me edit this.]

I just caught a segment of Limbaugh's show. He played a sound bite of Howard Dean saying it wouldn't be appropriate for the Administration to play hide the salami with Harriet Miers' records.

I hadn't heard of that fetish. Maybe that's what Sandy Berger was up to, but he was in the previous administration.

I suppose, with that precedent, it's necessary make some warning noises to discourage further incursions against propriety.

Legislation to follow.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You know, I think the thing that most killed my blogging buzz

lately was all the stories of rapes and murders in New Orleans. I suppose I have a moral right to rant about the faulty news coverage, but I'm just too relieved to find out that most of them never happened. I hope the duped reporters exact terrible revenge. Right after they extract every possible lesson from this mess about how to find news.

While those things weren't going on, I was at Rendezvous in Pine City.

I competed in a few contests: took a major whuppin' in the Men's Footrace, had a decent showing in the stone toss, but didn't place... I guess it was only two.

I went to the Sunday Service at the Blacksmith's tent. He talked about how and why to live right. He seems to be doing it, which is a plus.

I spent a lot of time with him - he invited me to make a hook for hanging lanterns on the tent pole. It's pretty cool to pound on red-hot iron and make it into something useful. I'll have to get some batteries for my digital camera and show it to you.
Eric, I'm still thinking about the 10 Big Things Meme and what you said.

My life goals at this point are to Be a Great Father, make 10 mil, learn seven languages and master Aristotle. Do any of those count?
Took me six days to write this. Can you tell?

Tom the Pooklekufr has a "First rant against Miers the Doughnut-Gatherer"

"Anyone who thinks the Constitution should yield to the will of the Sharia-embracing dictator-appeasing genocide-abetting anti-Semitic bureaucratic f[censored]weasels on the UN, ought to be kept from the Supreme Court with attack dogs and pepper spray. Or at least a resounding Nay vote."

I don't know. She looks like a nice lady.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Whoops! Didn't mean to make a new post!

Funny that I never feel like live blogging anything other than a Packers' game. I didn't know that about myself.

But it makes me feel proud.

Yesterday, I found myself in Cloquet, MN, blasting the Vikings game from my truck radio in the Walmart parking lot. When I realized the Vikes were embarassing themselves, I developed a smirk.

I thought I was a half-assed Vikings fan.

I took a sadistic pleasure in the frowns I was getting.

But, it 26-7 Carolina now. Turnabout's fair play, as my mother always used to say.


Donald Driver! 24 yards!


Yeah!!! Brett!!! GGGGGooooo!!!

First down, baby!!


Driver to the END ZONE!!!

Goin' for TWO!

AGH! 26-13 Carolina.


Well, s**t!

Carolina's drivin' to the end zone.

They get the TD. Go for the two.

Nope. 32-13 Carolina.


Whoop! While I was distracted, the Pack brought it to 32-21!


OOooh! Sack Deeeee!


Hey!! TD Chapman!

Robert Ferguson Gets the two pointer!


Well, It's going to end at 32-29....

Just got the baby to bed.

AAAaaaggghhh!!! I'm missin' the Packers' game!!!

It's on ABC which doesn't come in very well in the basement.

Oh, good! Pack 7 - Carolina 7 in the second quarter.

Carolina just (barely) kicked a short field goal.

Pack to the 22 on the reception.

Four on the running play.

Short of the first on the next pass.

Fourth down and short.


10-7 Panthers, don't forget.
Well... Carolina scores after 3 plays.

Extra pt. blocked.

Carolina 16-7.


Well, whattay say?
Favre's movin' it and his receiver won't fight to keep the ball.

Interception. Carolina moves it back for a touchdown.

23-7 Panthers.


Murphy's down on the kickoff reception.

3 & out for the Pack.


Did Carolina do something?

The Packers did an ugly drive to run out the half.


Night Stalker? Can they equal Darin McGavin? God! I loved that show!

Nobody deserved a personal vehicle more than Darin McGavin. See A Christmas Story ASAP if you don't believe me. The guy was magnificent!

Oh, s**t! How can I resist this!


Pack kicks off for the second half.

3 & out for Carolina. Can I call them "The Pants?"

Pack has the ball.


3 & out.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Peggy Noonan's article today

at [never noticed before that "opinion" is hard to type] provides a great follow-up to the Sheldon Richman piece I quoted:
No one took responsibility, but there was plenty of authority. People in authority sent the lost to the Superdome and the Convention Center. People in authority blocked the bridges out of town. People in authority tried to confiscate guns after the looting was over.
And they did things like this: The day before hurricane Rita hit Texas, last Friday, I saw on TV something that disturbed me. It was not the usual scene of crashing waves and hardy reporters being blown sideways by wind gusts. It was a fat Texas guy swimming in the waves off Galveston. He'd apparently decided the high surf was a good thing to jump into, so he went for a prehurricane swim. Two cops saw him, waded into the surf and arrested him. When I saw it the guy was standing there in orange trunks being astonished as the cops put handcuffs on him and hauled him away.

I thought: Oh no, this is isn't good. This is authority, not responsibility.

You'd have to be crazy, in my judgment, to decide you were going to go swim in the ocean as a hurricane comes. But in the America where I grew up, you were allowed to be crazy. You had the right. Sometimes you were crazy and survived whatever you did. Sometimes you didn't, and afterwards everyone said, "He was crazy."

Last week I quoted Gerald Ford: "The government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." I was talking about money. But it applies also to personal freedom, to the rights of the individual, including his right to do something stupid as long as it's legal, like swimming.

Government has real duties in disaster. Maintaining the peace is a primary one. But if we demand that our government protect us from all the weather all the time, if we demand that it protect us from rain and hail, if we make government and politicians pay a terrible price for not getting us out of every flood zone and rescuing us from every wave, we're going to lose a lot more than we gain. If we give government all authority then we are giving them all power.

And we will not only lose the right to be crazy, we'll lose the right to be sane. A few weeks ago when, for a few days, some level of government, it isn't completely clear, decided no one should be allowed to live in New Orleans after the flood, law-enforcement officers went to the home of a man who had a dry house, a month's supply of food and water, and a gun to protect himself. The police demanded that he leave. Why? He was fine. He had everything he needed. The man was enraged: It was his decision, he said, and he was staying.

It is the government's job to warn and inform. That's what we have the National Weather Service for. It is not government's job to command and control and make microdecisions about the lives of people who want to do it their own way.

This sort of thing of course has been going on for a long time. In Katrina and Rita it just became more dramatically obvious as each incident played out on TV.

Governments always start out saying they're going to help, and always wind up pushing you around. They cannot help it. They say they want to help us live healthily and they mean it, but it ends with a guy in Queens getting arrested for trying to have a Marlboro Light with his Bud at the neighborhood bar. We're hauling the parents of obese children into court. The government has increasing authority over our health, and these children are not healthy. Smokers, the fat, drinkers of more than two drinks per night, insane swimmers in high seas . . .

We are losing the balance between the rights of the individual and the needs and demands of the state. Again, this is not new. It's a long slide that's been going on for a long time. But Katrina and Rita seemed to make the slide deeper.

Now Ms. Noonan, unlike Mr. Richman, seems a bit too nonchalant about "the needs and demands of the state," but other than that careless phrase I agree totally with all her points. RTWT.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Here's something good!

Sheldon Richman has a good piece on why bureaucracies can't be reformed by placing business leaders at their helm:
John Tierney is an excellent columnist, by far the best on the New York Times op-ed page. He showed it last week when he contrasted Wal-Mart’s superlative emergency preparedness with the government’s horrible performance during Hurricane Katrina. As he wrote, Wal-Mart is

one of the few institutions to improve its image here after Katrina sent a 15-foot wave across the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. If you mention the Red Cross or FEMA to people in Slidell [Louisiana], you hear rants about help that didn't arrive and phone lines that are always busy. If you mention state or national politicians, you hear obscenities.

But if you visit the Wal-Mart and the Sam's Club stores here, you hear shoppers who have been without power for weeks marveling that there are still generators in stock (and priced at $304.04). You hear about the trucks that rolled in right after the hurricane and the stuff the stores gave away: chain saws and boots for rescue workers, sheets and clothes for shelters, water and ice for the public.

Tierney says that among Louisiana officials, “there's even been talk of letting Wal-Mart take over FEMA's job. The company already has its own emergency operations center, where dozens of people began preparing for the hurricane the week before it hit by moving supplies and trucks into position. …I'm afraid the Wal-Mart Emergency Management Agency will be a tough sell on Capitol Hill. But I'd vote for WEMA.” At the least, he suggested, Wal-Mart chief Lee Scott should run FEMA.

But Tierney misses an important point. Wal-Mart did so well precisely because it is not a government agency or contractor. There is no reason to believe that Scott could run FEMA better than a political appointee or career bureaucrat. This is not meant as an insult. Rather, it’s a comment about bureaucracy. There’s an old conservative idea that government can be run like a business, but years ago Ludwig von Mises, in his classic Bureaucracy, showed that this is a misconception.

In that little book Mises contrasts the essential nature of a government bureau with that of a for-profit enterprise. As he points out, these forms of organization could not be less alike. An enterprise can prosper only if it pleases consumers, who are free at any time to take their money and search for satisfaction elsewhere. Thus business owners have an infallible guide to how well they are doing: the profit-and-loss sheet. If consumers don’t want a company’s products badly enough to pay a profit-yielding price, the business has two choices: do better or sell out to someone who will. The free market gives business owners indispensable tools for calculating success or failure: market prices for both inputs and outputs.

This combination of consumer sovereignty, free competition, and the price system—which all flow from the same thing: individual liberty—makes it possible for enterprises to perform efficiently. That is why market-based societies are far more prosperous than socialist societies and why freer economies do better than more-regulated economies.

Richman seems to be coming down harder on Bureaucracies than Mises does. Mises points out that the machinery of coercion that is Government needs to be tied down tightly by the Rule of Law lest it get out of control.

Oops, gotta go.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Wouldn'tcha know it?

Just as I was getting used to the idea of living without electricity, the power comes back on.

I wasn't entirely pleased. I had just revised my expectations of my home and my standard of living back about 80 years by 6:00 PM when my wife comes in the room and says, "Ya-a-ay! Guess what just happened?!"

I looked up from my book and realized the house was humming.

So, we immediately turned on the TV and watched the PBS special on the 1940s to celebrate.

We now get to move all the food back that we had moved into a freezer in St. Paul.

Life is wonderful.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Among the many weighty matters my brother deals with

he led me to this revelation:
My Japanese name is

Your Japanese Name Is...

Yoshiyuki Kawashi

Excuses, excuses...

The power's been out at my house since the big storm Wednesday night. (No, not Katrina or Rita.) It's been a little tough to get online.

The local squirrels are bunking the refugees from all the trees that are down and can't be enticed to join my power generation work-team. I haven't noticed that crime is up in their community, though they do get up in arms (metaphorically speaking) whenever the cat gets out. The cat and I, however, being both terrible speciesists (unless we need something from them), tend to ignore their protests.

The power is on for the local businesses, and the neighbors across the street. We apparently haven't passed the screening for suitability for power restoration yet. We don't know what they're looking for. The meth-house is on that side.

Well, the water works and the waterheater's gas, with a piezo-electric igniter, so at least we smell okay. (I suppose that facilitates the screeners' cavity searches.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ah! I have saddened the hearts of my fans!

Ardent and casual.

I've been reading George S. Clason's The Richest Man in Babylon for the last few days. Since I returned from the early 19th century, in fact.

Alas, the batteries I found for my camera were not fresh, so I have no new pictures to regale you with. When I get some good batteries I'll show you the hook I made at the blacksmith shop. What a wonderful character that guy is! He has the unlikely name of Dave Hanson. Revealing which, in Minnesota at least, doesn't constitute an invasion of privacy.

Sadly, that can't be said of the name Al Erkkila. I fear I'm unique. And I've given up propagating the surname, unless one of my daughters does something I'd prefer she didn't.

(I promise to place Love over "prestige" or "face" in my priorities. Not to denigrate either of the latter, but my love for my children will always take precedence over them. Only their concern, or lack thereof, for their own honor could alter that relationship.)

Anyway, Clason: The first rule is one I'm sure you've heard: Pay Yourself First. Or, as one of his early characters says, "A portion of what you earn is yours to keep." What it means is, that you should save at least a tenth of your income. You may invest it, but you may never spend it. You're human, so you may invest it unwisely, but you MUST examine carefully your foolishness and never repeat that mistake.

Clason's wisdom strikes me as quite extraordinary in that it hits the heart of the arguments of the other advisors of wealth creation and management I've been studying. The book I have is 144 pages of elaboration on these basic principles. It cost me 7 bucks. I have no doubt that it will return a million times its cost.

God will bless the Clason estate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Oldsmoblogger's been kinda putzin' along lately.

Seems like all the pragmatic libertarians are working on bumping up their personal income right now.

His last post was a butt-kicker though. Go check it out.
This I believe: The people who founded this nation got it as close to right as any collection of fallen people will ever get. Were they perfect? Certainly not. The revolution in human nature will not be televised, because it ain't happening short of the Second Coming. Humans and their institutions cannot be perfected; the best for which one may hope is to limit the potential for mischief. Which the Founders accomplished, in spades.

So say we all. [/galactica]

We who believe so beaver away to restore the government to its enumerated powers and functions, islands of power in a boisterous sea of liberty.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

We'll be hittin' the road for the Pine City Rendezvous tomorrow night.

Cookin' over wood fires lit by flint and steel (when we don't want to be sneaky and lazy), wearing clothes that won't last more than five years even under the light use we put them to.

{Limbaugh says the Boston Globe says that there's no evidence of any rapes in New Orleans, I suppose I'll have to check out that article.}

I'm on double secret vacation right now. My employers know I'm not at work, but my family doesn't. Well, I suppose it would be double secret if my employers (or I) weren't aware of it. Maybe I can claim it was double secret until I informed you all.

Anyway, I wasn't aware of it until my boss showed up and informed me that I'd asked for the whole week off this week. I have a hard time using all my vacation time, so I just accepted it. I'm pretending to do some work around here to justify my subterfuge. It's actually quite amazing how much time you can piss away when you're pretending not to be here.

{Paul Harvey's stand in says there's evidence of a 200 million year old civilization on Mars.}

Pretty much my job description.

I'm just here to proliferate humanity.

How cool is this?!!

Free Image Hosting at
What's cooler? The Japanese landing a sampling robot on an asteroid, or US smackin' a comet with a projectile the size of a washing machine?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My latest post, besides this one of course,

seemed like a Natural fit for the Bourgeois Philistine.

So there it is.

Life was plain here today.

Church. sermon on forgiveness.

Lotsa yardwork. Then I watched Fox. Vikings lost. Haven't found out what the Packers are up to yet.

Update: Oy! Sorry I looked: 17-3 loss to the Lions.

Glad I missed it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

God! I love John Stossel!!

Talk about nailing the target:
Politicians and the media are furious about price increases in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They want gas stations and water sellers punished.

If you want to score points cracking down on mean, greedy profiteers, pushing anti-"gouging" rules is a very good thing.

But if you're one of the people the law "protects" from "price gouging," you won't fare as well.

Consider this scenario: You are thirsty -- worried that your baby is going to become dehydrated. You find a store that's open, and the storeowner thinks it's immoral to take advantage of your distress, so he won't charge you a dime more than he charged last week. But you can't buy water from him. It's sold out.

You continue on your quest, and finally find that dreaded monster, the price gouger. He offers a bottle of water that cost $1 last week at an "outrageous" price -- say $20. You pay it to survive the disaster.

You resent the price gouger. But if he hadn't demanded $20, he'd have been out of water. It was the price gouger's "exploitation" that saved your child.

It saved her because people look out for their own interests. Before you got to the water seller, other people did. At $1 a bottle, they stocked up. At $20 a bottle, they bought more cautiously. By charging $20, the price gouger makes sure his water goes to those who really need it.

Do those who don't worship the almighty dollar--those who purely consider "spiritual matters"--complain? How do you convert those considerations into incentives for me to move goods of interest to your babies from a place where they are abundant to the place where your starving kids are crying?

You're not doing it. You don't know how. I almost know how, but I'm not sufficiently motivated, by a pure sense of altruism, to take that last step to actually figuring out how to move the stuff to you.

Collectivists always take this level of calculation for granted. It is the collectivists' calculations that need to be ignored as unimportant.

SOB! I suppose I shouldn't be surprised!

Walter Williams summarizes Bastiat's great contribution to economics better than I could:
Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850), a great French economist, said in his pamphlet "What is Seen and What is Not Seen": "There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen." What economists Chan and Woodward can see are the jobs and construction boom created by repairing hurricane destruction. What they can't see, and thus ignore, is what those resources would have been used for had there not been hurricane destruction.

Bastiat wrote a parable about this which has become known as the "Broken Window Fallacy." A shopkeeper's window is broken by a vandal. A crowd formed sympathizing with the man. After a while, someone in the crowd suggested that the boy wasn't guilty of vandalism; instead, he was a public benefactor, creating economic benefits for everyone in town. After all, fixing the broken window creates employment for the glazier, who will then buy bread and benefit the baker, who will then buy shoes and benefit the cobbler, and so forth.

Those are the seen effects of repairing the broken window. What's unseen is what the shopkeeper would have done with the money had the vandal not broken his window. He might have employed the tailor by purchasing a suit. The vandal's breaking his window produced at least two unseen effects. First, it shifted unemployment from the glazier who now has a job to the tailor who doesn't. Second, it reduced the shopkeeper's wealth. Had it not been for the vandalism, the shopkeeper would have had a window and a suit; now he has just a window.

Williams wrote a preface to one of the volumes of Bastiat's life works. I cannot ignore his scholarship when I write my own small piece on Frederic Bastiat. I love them both dearly.

But can I beat this?

Well... Bastiat had more to say than this (beyond his failed effort to find a more comprehensive understanding of the Theory of Value). Maybe I can.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Well, it's the end of summer and we're out of money.

Even without going to The Fair. I've finally managed to curb my enthusiasm for life sufficiently to stop blowing cash left & right (books, mags, movies and CDs mostly). And since the bank account's down to zip and gas prices are going the other way... Well, my timing could actually be worse. We didn't actually go into debt this summer.

We'd really be in the black if it weren't for all the hookers & booze.

We blew the last of the cash on a trip 230 miles north to The Cabin. Just the gas and a stop at the DQ pretty much cleaned us out.

But enough whining. At least I still have a home and a cabin to go to and I don't have to dip into the (admittedly sterling) credit line to replace what the looters took. Or worse animals.

I've pretty much been staring with mouth agape at the news of the aftermath of Katrina. This is not the kind of behavior I expect from my fellow Americans. Maybe we shouldn't rebuild the worst flooded areas.

I haven't seen all the stories of kindness yet though, just the disaster.

Update: Walter Block, professor of Economics (an Austrian Anarcho-capitalist) at Loyola University in New Orleans, has a more personal stake, and a more logical take, than I do.

Three paragraphs:
I. Private Enterprise

First of all, the levees that were breached by the hurricane were built, owned and operated by government. Specifically, by the Army Corps of Engineers. The levees could have been erected to a greater height. They could have been stronger than they were. The drainage system could have operated more effectively. Here, the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board was at fault. It consists of three main operating systems: sewerage, water, and drainage. See here, here and here. Had they been, a lot of the inconvenience, fright, and even loss of life undergone in this city could have been avoided.

Then, too, these facilities may have fooled many people into thinking they were safer than they actually were. I know this applies to me. Thus, people were in effect subsidized, and encouraged to settle in the Big Easy. Without this particular bit of government mismanagement, New Orleans would likely have been settled less intensively. (On the other hand, at one time this city was the largest in the South; statist negligence of a different kind — graft, corruption, over-regulation— is responsible for it having a smaller population than otherwise.)

I am not appalled with these failures. After all, it is only human to err. Were these levee facilities put under the control of private enterprise, there is no guarantee of zero human suffering in the aftermath of Katrina. No, what enrages me is not any one mistake, or even a litany of them, but rather the fact that there is no automatic feedback mechanism that penalizes failure, and rewards success, the essence of the market system of private enterprise.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

By Crom! I'm pretty tired of property rights issues. How about you?

Yeah, I was a big Conan The Barbarian fan long before the Arnold movies came out. I loved the comics. I nearly memorized the Robert E. Howard stories as a teenager. They proved to be my ruin as a weightlifter. I wanted to be able to do everything Conan could do. Warning to kids! Conan is a FICTIONAL CHARACTER!! Don't try this at home!!

I loved the movies, but I was into bodybuilding then and I loved Arnold. Even with the whole '81 Olympia thing. The movies were great Sword and Sorcery. They even advanced Cimmerian theology beyond the books. I also loved Mentzer. [I AM NOT GAY!! he shouted defensively. Making you wonder if he doth "protest too much."] I flourish pretty well under Mentzer's principles, but even working out once a week... Well, it's hard to maintain the enthusiasm and discipline. I found John Defendis' workout easier to follow, even though it didn't seem to work at all for me. 40 sets for biceps, 60 sets for triceps... You get almost immediate results: the arms do swell up. Just imagine what you do for Major Muscle Groups. It's an exciting and addictive way to train. But... Well, where is he nowdays? Looks like the same place I am.

My joints couldn't handle that. They broke down.

Twenty years later, I started running. I got up to regular runs of 17 and a half miles. Then the joints broke down. Later I discovered that the problem there was my shoes. I can run quite a ways in my Earth [walking] Shoes. Even though I promised myself that I wouldn't run until I got back down to 225.

Just walking 3.5 miles five times a week has brought me significantly below 14 stone, as the Brits say. That's 238 pounds. Today I was 229, after my walk. A little dehydrated, but I'll take it. Thirteen stone, here I come!

I've taken up the study of marketing as my hobby. The thing that's kept me from blogging is that I found a guy with a habit of offering tons of content to read if you buy his books. There's lots of free info on marketing on the web [for a nominal fee - and the danger of spending a lot of nominal fees (yes, that's self-directed irony)].

Peter J. Fogel did that to me. Michael Masterson and Robert Bly are The Gurus of Marketing.

I've also discovered through them the original Self-Help book - well, after Ben Franklin's which I still haven't managed to get ahold of - Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, available online. Masterson considers it crap - he says wealth is the result of behavior: actions you can take now are vastly more important than getting your mind and heart perfectly straight - but that's more a criticism of Hill's followers than of Hill.

Masterson: bump your income by getting involved in your company's income stream (sales, marketing, product creation and I forget the other - I've made my decision) or starting your own company - in particular, providing either useful information for people to use or the products, equipment or services those people need - invest in Real Estate (rental and "flipping"), bonds and gold. Stocks are okay IFF you spend a lot of time researching them. But, though all the other wealth building methods require a ton of research, investing in stocks requires the most research if you actually expect to get wealthy from them. He has recommendations for that too.

Hill (though I haven't actually finished the book yet): obsess about money and [but] give back to society. You can't get rich without the help of Society, so plan now for giving it it's cut.

I find value in both approaches, they're not mutually exclusive. I suspect it's the students who have objections, not the Masters. If you read any book of either you'll be better off for it. And better yet if you read all of both.

I'll get the links for you later. It's late. Early to Rise is Masterson's newsletter, I need to take that advice.