Wednesday, August 24, 2005

This comment rates better treatment than HaloScan would give it:

Probligo said: "In view of your sometimes scathing opinion of the ACLU one can only assume that perhaps they are acting to support the "wrong rights".

Well, I would say, having read a portion of Old Whig, that Al recognizes that the ACLU is not really acting to support inherent, individual rights, per se. They are acting to support privileges (aka constructed rights) and then misleadingly calling them rights. Which, I must admit, most people steeped in neo-liberalism (as opposed to classic liberalism) do. The problem, of course, is that neo-liberalism is, in reality, derived from the socialist view that the group is more important than the individual, which, in turn, derives from earlier republican and monarchist theories (see Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution or Montesquieue). Since none of these focus on the rights of the individual, only the privileges (because there is a base assumption that the individual's rights must be subordinated to the group's needs), you can see why an individualist, whether an "Old Whig" such as Al, or a rational anarchist (aka Jeffersonian Liberal) such as me, would have a major problem with the ACLU.

The reality is that if you fully defend every individual's rights to life, liberty and property then things like free speech, religion, privacy are taken care of, because those are privileges constructed from those inherent rights. But, you first have to accept that the individual's rights trump the group's desires. Otherwise the privileges the ACLU so ardently defends can be changed at will when the group wants them changed.
Eric | Homepage | 08.18.05 - 4:13 pm | #

And Erkki... I mean Eric (that's just Norwegian/Swedish/Danish for Erkki--don't forget the "k" is long) deserves a link from me. I like anarcho-capitalism, I just don't think we'll get there any time soon.

Update: Eric, ya flamin' hairhead! That link's no good!

People should use this one.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Well, anyway...

I was meaning to blog my weekend, but I had some ISP problems (probably as a result of the new worm) and then I had to deal with the backlog of emails.

Anyway, my cousin came down to visit us. The two Mrs. Erkkilas had a great deal of notes to compare. [One of them should have a Mrs. Erkkila confab. I suspect they'd be shocked at the diversity of who had such a lack of diversity of experiences. The diversity of solutions to our problems... Well, that frightens me a bit.]

Anyway, we brought them to the Mall of America. I wore my "Enjoy Capitalism" T-shirt, that I got from Seemed like an appropriate venue. The wife, baby and I could only stay for the Camp Snoopy part; then we had to leave for a combination housewarming/baby shower party of one of our friends. Rosie stayed. Brian's daughter is her age almost exactly. And she's almost exactly the same size too. Quite a rarity. Rosie's pretty big for her age, but the other girl is a little bigger, though she's a couple months younger.

Brian and I, sadly, have a lot in common in our life experiences. My Dad died of cancer at 59, and his Dad died at 55. Both had so much practical genius to offer the world. I've seen both perform mechanical miracles... I continue to mourn the world's loss. As well as my own. I miss Dad. I miss Uncle Jimmy.

I've described my Dad as a mean-assed bastard. And he could be one. Especially right after he got off The Boat, when he was used to dealing with the usual cast of criminals that Steinbrenner's Kinsman Marine Transit usually hired. (You see, I understand now.)

I fear that my brother didn't get to know Dad after his conversion to Christianity. Or reversion, since Grandma and Grandpa sent him to a Baptist Church, pastored by Cliff Peterson, who was a wonderful guest preacher at our Wesleyan Church (a conservative branch of Methodism--our Founders broke away from the main branch over the issue of slavery... Our branch were on the Abolitionist side. May God forgive me for taking pride in that.) Dad was so glad to hear about Cliff Peterson preaching at our church that he gave his life to Christ himself.

A "witness" may travel many pathes.

I'm taken aback myself. I never thought of it that way before.

Anyway, Dad was vastly more kind, loving and funny during my teen years than he was during Ron's. I wish I could do a Vulcan mind-meld with Ron and share that with him. He was still tough as nails. Ron saw that. But he learned, through his personal experience with Jesus, to be tender with us younger kids.


Well, jeepers! It seems like I started out to say something completely different.

My cousin's daughter is trying to sleep behind me as I type. She wanted to stay with us for a week, at my wife's suggestion. We're planning to camp at Pattison Park Friday night, and meet with her parents there on Saturday.

It's 10:30 PM. They just informed me that they're hungry. If you can guess what I told them, you get a prize.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It was raining during my lunch hour today, so I drove over to the nearest BN Bookstore

to see what they had to offer.

When I wandered in, I asked God what he thought I should buy. Then I strolled through the store looking for whatever seemed most inspiring.

Oddly enough I found myself looking at a book called The Kama Sutra Guide to Hot Sex. (If I remember right -- my analytical mind shut down when I opened the front cover.)


Holy Frijoles, Batman!

Mama mia!! That's a spicy meat ball!!!

Sittin' there, right at a ten-year-old boy's eye level!!!


The analytical mind cut right back in when I looked at the price: $16.95.


Should a Bourgeois Philistine ... Christian ... part with the bucks for ... this sort of ... artistic endeavor?


When I mentioned it to The Accountant, she seemed to think the price was negligible.


"Ah'll be back!" methinks.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Well, I'll be GDed!

I turned 42 yesterday while I was at Grand Portage. Didn't feel a thing. Apparantly it's not one of the big ones.

The most important thing about the day was that we had to pack up and leave.

I snitched a handful of the neighbors' apple pie to celebrate.

I enjoyed the slow cruise through Duluth immensely. I love those old houses on London Drive and the cool breeze off The Lake.

Where the Hell did Leif Erikson Park go?!

On the way up last Wednesday, I insisted that we stop at Canal Park. And I insisted that we stay until at least one boat went under the Aerial Bridge.

When we were kids, we used to climb up on the walls of the Canal and run out to the lighthouse. Looking at them now, I can't believe how stupid we were, or that Mom allowed it. (Though, it seemed like they were at least 3 feet wide back then. They're only a foot at most now. I'm bettin' they've rebuilt them with the idea of making them look scarier to kids. ['Look,' Hell! They're a lot scarier than they used to be!])

I mentioned in the comments to the last post, that I left the camera at the in-laws' cabin on Lake Vermilion. Sorry about that.

We had great times at Deer River's White Oak Rendezvous and the Grand Portage Rendezvous. Deer River is the place to go to learn about Voyageur reenacting, and Grand Portage is second only to Old Fort William (Ontario) for learning about Voyageurs in general (although Fort Folle Avoine in Danbury, WI is a close third - I won't be missing that Rendezvous again!).

I must admit a preference for Rendezvoux that have a "Traders' Row" where you can buy stuff that's missing from your regalia. I had to beg a thong from the neighbor to replace a broken one on my mocassin at Grand Portage. (No, I don't run around in a thong! Get your minds out of the gutter!)

Oh! I still have this pic of Grand Portage Bay!
Free Image Hosting at
And, yes, I did see pretty much the same view from Mount Rose this year. Rosie made me climb it again later the same day, though I didn't have to carry her half way up like I did last year. This year we read the brochure as we climbed and learned about the plants and geology of the area along the way. I was happy to see how her interests had developed since last year.

I bought a CD from a folk singer who played for us at Grand Portage, Rodney Brown's The Big Lonely. "Hauntingly beautiful title track" they say... When I heard the guitar riff on that song, I knew I couldn't stand to live without it. Talk about capturing the essence of the sunrise of a crisp, cool summer morning on the North Shore of Lake Superior!

Of course, I don't know that the beauty of his vocals and guitar work, as it was sung and played within 50 feet of the shore of the great Lake that was the focus of much of The Northwest Company's activities for over a century, can quite be captured on so small a medium as a CD.

The whole album [yeah, I'm a geezer - I meant to say "CD"] is the result of two years of research into the history of the fur trade by a guy who makes his living as a folksinger. A labor of love from a native of Fort William, which has merged with Port Arthur to become the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

He'd like it if I gave this name to you to google: Pierre La Verendrye. If you get the chance to hear him sing, knowing the story of La Verendrye will enhance the experience.

I wonder if he knew my buddy Ed S., who is now a Mountie up in Alberta. Ed got his Bachelor's degree in Sup-town. Ed liked to talk about how much Thunder Bay politics resembled a hockey game, with plenty of anecdotal evidence. If they got together, they could probably write another album.

Excuse me, "CD."

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I should have mentioned that I'm vacationing in the 18th Century this week.

Internet connections were rare then. It was tough to get your computer to stick his finger into any electrical devices of the time, even though they were the most gullible of people.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I see Walter Williams has an article on

the unity among Human, Civil and Property Rights. [Individual Rights, I calls 'em.]

I got mine at The Atlasphere.

He begins by quoting Carolyn Lochhead's July 1st San Francisco Chronicle article:
"Elliot Mincberg, the [People for the American Way's] legal director, said the case [Kelo v. New London] had been brought by the Institute for Justice as part of an effort by conservatives to elevate property rights to the same level of civil rights such as freedom of speech and religion, in effect taking the nation back to the pre-New Deal days when the courts ruled child labor laws unconstitutional."

To posit a distinction between civil or human rights on the one hand and property rights on the other reflects little understanding.

My computer is my property. Does it have any rights — like the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Are there any constitutional guarantees held by my computer? Anyone, except maybe a lawyer, would agree that to think of property as possessing rights is unadulterated nonsense.

So where do property rights come in? Property rights are human rights to use economic goods and services. Private property rights contain your right to use, transfer, trade and exclude others from use of property deemed yours. The supposition that there's a conflict or difference between human rights to use property and civil rights is bogus and misguided.

Professor Williams is an educator with a passion for his topic, Economics, so he makes sure his writing is understandable to everyone. RtWT.

Which [Al fumblingly segued] leads me back to Probligo's complaint about the Adam Martin article I quoted a couple posts back; that all the guy said, in what I quoted, was that Society is composed of individuals. At first, I found that complaint perplexing: I know that's all he was saying. But it's an important thing to say. Perhaps I should have quoted these paragraphs instead, from the discussion of Austrian moral individualism:
Moral individualism is not the same thing as egoism; even if one believes in absolute altruism towards one's fellows, those fellows must be recognized in their value as individuals rather than as an amorphous social blob. The precondition for treating another person as a person is to recognize his individual worth. The deadly flaw of collectivism is to replace concern for man with concern for mankind, which is nothing but a pattern resulting from the actions of individual man. This shift of focus can only come at the expense of the welfare of individual men.

It is always in this light that the value of subsidiary institutions should be understood. Voluntary associations are important not for their own sake, but because they fulfill man's nature. True partnership and community can only come about between distinct individuals. When we fight for our families, we must not fight for family in the abstract but for the flesh and blood people that we know and love. The efforts of those in the conservative movement to pit the community against the individual as opposing values is thus theoretically baseless; in an attempt to emphasize man's social nature they forget that such a nature must inhere in a man.

Probligo's complaint does point out that this isn't how the average guy talks - Martin is obviously heavily steeped in Mises, Rothbard and, maybe, Rand. In this latter quote, I'd eschew "man" and "mankind" for "the/an individual" and "society," but this would have been better to quote, as an enticement to read the article, because it's clearer and shows the practical social ramifications the two worldviews. But I still think the other quote is more important, because it deals with the nature of individuality and the need to consider the rights of individuals before setting up or rearranging institutions.

The path to social happiness goes through there.

Ach! Another book meme!

As if this one didn't cover it!

1) How many books have I owned?

I estimated c. 3500 a while ago.

2) What was the last book you bought?

Confessions of a Self-Made Millionaire: 422 Personal Success Secrets, Tricks and Unconventional Techniques You'll Never Learn in any Business School.

3) Last book that you’ve read.


4) 5 books that have meant a lot to you.

The Bible, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand, The Walking Drum, by Louis L'Amour, 101 Dalmations (the pre-Disney version).

5. We'll see in any of them bite on doing this meme. ;–)

Any or all Burris
Any of the 25 for Freedom guys who haven't been zapped yet.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Since I found myself rereading this article,

What We Mean by Individualism, by Adam Martin, at the Mises Institute site, I thought I'd share the high points with you:
There are two senses in which Austro-libertarians consider themselves individualists: metaphysically and morally, with the latter being drawn from the former. A proper understanding of these senses immediately dispels the conservative objections to libertarian points.

Metaphysical individualism means that man is metaphysically prior to any social network, be it a subsidiary institution such as the family or a whole nation. That is, social phenomena have no existence apart from the actions of the individuals who participate in them. Subsidiary institutions are real, but they are real in a derivative sense: it is only because the individual man has a social nature that the institutions have being at all.

This point is often confused for a historical one, especially in economic and political theorizing. It is an obvious myth that man's "original condition" is isolation; the mere fact of his biological reproduction is enough to dispel this fantasy.4 The economic story of Robinson Crusoe, however, is not a story about historically isolated man, but rather one about metaphysically distinct man, who, because he has free will, must take the center stage in any social theorizing. This is the root cause of the Austrian adherence to methodological individualism, which recognizes man's action as the cause of social institutions and thus relates all social phenomena back to the necessary formal structure of the choices of individuals.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Tara Smith, author of Viable Values

and other great books, says this in an ARI op-ed:
The charge of "judicial activism" typically condemns proper activity on the part of judges along with improper activity. It has become dangerously commonplace to equate a judge's support for overturning a law with pernicious activism. Prevailing wisdom holds that we can identify "activists" simply by counting up the number of times a judge rules against existing laws or government practices. Notice that by that logic, the only way for a judge to avoid overstepping his authority is to engage in no activity--to simply rubberstamp whatever the legislature and other agencies of government serve up. What, by this reasoning, is the point of having a Supreme Court? Some laws should be struck down. Because the United States is a constitutional republic, we are all bound--private citizens and government alike--to abide by the Constitution. It is precisely the role of the judiciary to strike down laws and prohibit government actions that fail to do so. Judges who so rule are acting responsibly and fulfilling their function.

With this important proviso, often ignored by Conservatives:
In doing their job, judges must be mindful of the 9th Amendment. The Constitution does not provide an exhaustive catalog of every right that citizens possess. The 9th Amendment explicitly instructs us that those rights not named in the Constitution are retained by the people. It is thereby laying down a principle to guide Constitutional interpretation. Accordingly, judges must apply the law in a way that respects all the rights of the citizens, unenumerated as well as enumerated. It is no more legitimate to subtract from the Constitution, by ignoring this provision, than to arbitrarily add to it.

Copyright © 2005 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

I admire Miss Smith and encourage everyone to read her writings.