Thursday, May 31, 2007

Larry Elder:

What about gas prices as a percentage of our income? In other words, does the gas bite of our paycheck rival the bite of yesteryear? Not even close. Given today's fatter paycheck, we pay less as a percentage of our mean disposable income. A gallon was 27 cents in 1949 -- but to put the same pinch on your wallet today, you'd pay $6.68. Gas for 1962's "muscle cars" cost 31 cents a gallon. To feel the same economic impact today, you'd pony up $4.48 a gallon.


Lew Rockwell's parrot here...

Reasons to read Economics In One Lesson (from Three National Treasures, by Lew):
If Hazlitt were followed, interventionist politicians and their intellectual bodyguards in the academic world would be unemployed. If it's not bad enough that he defied the economics establishment, his airtight case for the free market is accessible to the layman, and that's anathema to the economics establishment. Thumb through any issue of a top economics journal and you'll know why Hazlitt's book is considered heretical. Not because it doesn't make sense, but because it does; not because it isn't logical, but because it is; not because it isn't true to life, but because it is. Translate their jargon into English, and we find most economists beginning with such axioms as "let's assume everybody knows everything" or "nobody knows anything" or "people never change their minds" or "all goods are identical." Men and women are stripped of their individuality to make them fit into mechanistic models, and the economy is seen as static, or at best a series of shifting static states, without elaboration or the process of change. Deductions from such axioms must, of course, be false.

Hazlitt, like Mises, starts with the assumption that individuals act, that they do so with a purpose, and that as conditions change, their plans change. He makes no separation between "microeconomic" and "macroeconomic," terms commonly used to give the impression that different principles and laws apply to the whole economy than apply to individuals. So that while it may be justified to talk about purposive action, decisions on the margin, and subjective valuations at the individual level, this is of no relevance for the macro-managers in government.

But Hazlitt is a methodological individualist, and thus recognizes that the economy must be analyzed from the standpoint of individual action. Most economists are notorious justifiers of special-interest legislation because they ignore what Hazlitt so eloquently charts in Economics in One Lesson: the unseen and long-run effects of government policy. To Hazlitt, as an Austrian school economist, "economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."

I'd be perfectly willing to mail you mine. Or read it here, or download the pdf here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Basic Natural Rights doctrine

From Thomas Bowden at ARI:
"...there is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent an individual from choosing to end his own life. Our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness means that we need no one's permission to live, and that no one may forcibly obstruct our efforts to achieve personal happiness. But if happiness becomes impossible to attain, due to a dread disease or some other calamity, a person must be able to exercise the right to end his own life."

"To hold otherwise--to declare that society must give us permission to commit suicide--is to contradict the right to life at its root," said Bowden. "If we have a duty to go on living, despite our better judgment, then our lives do not belong to us, and we exist by permission, not by right.

"For these reasons, each individual has the right to decide the hour of his death and to implement that solemn decision as best he can. The choice is his because the life is his. And if a doctor is willing--not forced--to assist in the suicide, based on an objective assessment of his patient's mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way."

Copyright © 2007 Ayn Rand® Institute. All rights reserved.

Want to off yourself? Try using this magic formula: law, schmaw. Just don't get caught.

Agh! Looks like the 15K is full already.

That's what I get for waiting to register until after I talk to my wife.

DDT talk here if you're interested. It's apparently Rachel Carson's birthday.

Update: On the 15K: I'm in. I was just having trouble with the security settings on the computer I was using.

So now I have to run 1.3 miles farther than my training program calls for for Saturday.

Matoska Park. Saturday. 8 AM. Be there.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Ah, heck, as long as I'm here, I'll talk about how my running is going

I'm still working on making a habit of running at least 2 miles a day. I missed Thursday (but I would have anyway - it was raining cats and dogs), but otherwise I've been kicking butt on that goal. The goal of running every day is a rule meant to be broken. Weather, health and other plans and issues are always going to get in the way, but if you've run two out of the last four days, who cares, eh?

Here's a quickie mileage log, that'll be useful to me if nobody else cares:
Starting a week ago last Friday: 2, 7, 0, 0, 2.5, 5, 0, 2, 7, 3.

I have numbers before that written somewhere else, but I'm not overly concerned about them. I have a tendency to always average 10 minute miles, though, of course, I've done eights and nines.

I'm going to get up early and run a slow 2 in the morning, and then go out looking for Rosie's flowers. And the missing parts for my trailer. So, off to bed I go.

Oh, I'm going to run a 15K next Saturday. That strikes me as the sort of oddball distance that will only draw serious runners, so don't be surprised if I come in dead last.

My daughter wants to plant some flower that she calls Canyon Peeps

Anybody know what the bleep she's talking about?

As she describes it, it sounds like a vetch - a low-growing, creeping perennial, which I'm not sure I want.

My efforts to google it, or find it at any of the local nurseries - online, I mean - have been a failure.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

One great American leads to another

In a comment a bit ago, I mentioned that H.L. Mencken wrote an article about Mark Twain which explodes the myth of him as a kindly old clown. The article is called Mark Twain's Americanism. I think you can see, just by the title, why I jumped on it right away. I had to see what one of my heroes had to say about another--particulary on that topic.

I can't remember when I first picked up Tom Sawyer. It must have been fifth grade, or maybe right at the end of fourth. Our gradeschool library had three editions of it and two editions of Huckleberry Finn, and I know I had devoured them all (thinking, somehow, that they were different from each other) by the time I turned eleven. At which point, I had exhausted their Mark Twain resources and began to search abroad. I read a lot of his fiction and a lot of his autobiographical works...

Whoop! Bedtime.

So, anyway, what I really wanted to do was bring to your notice Twain's philosophical dialogue "What is Man?" published in 1906.

I have a feeling that a young Russian gal who arrived in America 17 years later learned some of her English reading it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I just found the mother lode of Americanism

The H. L. Mencken Page!

No time to go into to anything much right now, but there are tons of links to online writings by Mencken.

This is from the front page:
Mencken's Creed

I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty...
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech...
I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
I believe in the reality of progress.
I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

I came to it starting with Wendy Kaminer's Opinion Journal article, The American Liberal Liberties Union: The ACLU is becoming very selective about what it considers "free" speech, which led to The Free For All blog - particularly this post by Harvey Silverglate, and a link to Mencken's obit of William Jennings Bryan. That led me to google Mencken and find that great treasure trove.

That obit is entitled, "To Expose a Fool." Pretty good intro to Mencken. It doesn't quite refute the mischaracterization of him presented by Hollywood in the movie Inherit the Wind, but I think the credo I posted above covers that.

Hmm. From the "Peak Oil correspondent"

At the Agora Financial newsletter Whiskey and Gunpowder [A "free e-mail service brought to you by a team of rebellious brigands."]:
...the overall trend in the U.S. refinery business in the past 30 years has been to expand existing refineries, as opposed to building new ones. For many reasons, it is just too hard to build a new plant in this country, so the refiners have been overhauling and expanding the existing production base. There are fewer environmental hurdles, the local communities tend to be more in favor of expansion, and the refiners are dealing with fewer political unknowns. So the net effect is that in the past decade, refinery upgrades and expansions in the U.S. have added the equivalent of 10 ‘new’ refineries to the total base, and there is something like the equivalent of eight more refineries being ‘built’ via upgrades to existing facilities. This is why U.S. refinery output is at a record high.”
“The price of gas is rising,” said the Peak Oil correspondent, “because there are more people buying it than there are selling it. And there will be, for the rest of your life.”

As I say: hmmm.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ahh! That felt good!

Ringer relieves our discomfort:
One thing history has taught us is that when you’re dealing with totally irrational people, the middle-road approach doesn’t work. Yet, this is precisely the approach that flip-flop, mushy politicians continue to pursue in the Middle East. In fact, it’s pretty much their approach to all the major problems of our day.

Again, Ron Paul’s stance on 9/11 is not the issue here. My respect for him is based on the consistency of his beliefs. He is not coming at the Iraq War or the 9/11 attacks from a 21st century liberal’s point of view. The latter views are not mushy, they’re just plain stupid.

By contrast, Congressman Paul’s viewpoints on all major issues are based on his libertarian belief that government powers should be confined to those specifically set forth in the Constitution. It is for this reason that he believes the government has no right to use your tax dollars to roam the earth and stick its nose in other people’s business.

He believes this to be so whether it involves invading other countries with bombs or invading them with humanitarian aid. I think we can all agree that humanitarian aid is a wonderful thing, but it should be left to the humanitarians! In case anyone has bothered to notice, the Founding Fathers never put anything about humanitarian aid (or thousands of other activities that today’s politicians engage in) in the Constitution.

That's as much as I can safely copy. To tell you the truth, I didn't think he'd be posting part II today. I figured we'd have to wait until Wednesday or so.

I've been working on a review of V for Vendetta over at BPoMN. Once in a while you get the feeling we need a little of that action around here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

You said you'd get to it in a minute, Ringer!

Cripe! It's gonna be Monday before you get to it! At the earliest!

Robert Ringer has an article out called The Age of Mush. In it, he has this gem (with supporting examples):
Politicos like Mush Romney, Mush McCain, and Mush Giuliani can always be counted on to tell the mush, the whole mush, and nothing but the mush. In fact, the whole event was mush to do about nothing. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But if you’re a mush lover, the “debate” must have been a real treat.

What brings out the mush in most candidates, of course, is their insatiable thirst for power. It is a thirst that completely overwhelms the petty notion of principle.

He says there's one exception in the Republican crowd - which he'll get to in a minute. I'm sure it's not a provable case of false advertising - he probably did get to it in a minute. He's just not going to share it with us in a minute.

Now, I happen to know what he's talking about, so the preceding should be understood as tongue in cheek, though I did want to hear what Ringer had to say about it.

The "it" is what Ron Paul has to say.

I have to admit, though, that I haven't been keeping up with the debates (because I find all the front-runners distressing).

I have the urge to attack all those issues myself. I'll get to it later tonight.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Richard Harris is now one of my favorite authors.

Who would have believed the life of a plumber could be so exciting?

All right, he was a hydrological engineer who lived in an interesting time.

You get the impression, reading Pompeii and Imperium, that the Roman Empire was run by the Mafia. But I'll be adding Harris to my favorite authors next time I update my profile.

How about that?

Johnny Appleseed really was a hero.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell taught me this Bible verse:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14.

It's surprising how often I think about that. Don't know how much insight I've gained from it.

But I can't say he did nothing for me.

RIP, sir.

Weekly Mises

.org quote, from Spidey's Forgotten World, by Jeffrey Tucker:
It was only after it became perfectly obvious to every living person that the market was serving the poor that the socialist Left abandoned its goal of material prosperity of the working poor. Now they tell us that material prosperity itself is the problem (and actually Rothbard took note of this ideological turn in the late 1950s). If we want true justice, the new view went, we must all learn to live without. What should concern us is the destruction of the environment, the exploitation of cultural minorities, the hidden costs of industrialization, and even such bogeymen as warm weather.

What the Spider-Man movies show us is a simpler time when the socialists made a strong but empirically testable claim: socialism would serve proletarian interests whereas capitalism is always contrary to proletarian interests. That claim turned out to be 100% false. The movie makes one nostalgic for such simple-minded and easily refutable views. Perhaps it is appropriate that such a vision live on only in comic books and the movies based on them.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bernard Bailyn defends The Founders

Against the usual charges of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, etc.:
There was no end to the problems, and there was never any certainty in the outcome. Some of the problems in the course of time would be solved, some persist to this day and will never be fully resolved. But what strikes one most forcefully in surveying the struggles and achievements of that distant generation is less what they failed to do than what they did do, and the problems that they did in fact solve. One comes away from encounters with that generation, not with a sense of their failings and hypocrisies -- they were imperfect people, bound by the limitations of their own world -- but with a sense of how alive with creative imaginings they were; how bold they were in transcending the world they had been born into -- a world in which the brutality of unlimited state power was normal -- and in conceiving of a state system in which power was limited, defined, and defensive, and whose force would liberate people, not confine them.

What is important, is what they did. And why.

He asks questions,
How did that happen? What accounts for their creative imagination? What conditions made it possible? Can such conditions and such achievements recur?

It's worth your while to see what he's come up with.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Robert Ringer:

Sadly, when idealistic lads and lasses bid farewell to their clueless profs at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale, they have learned very little about the lessons of history. Worse, the pudding heads who were in charge of teaching them likely perverted the lessons of history to ensure that these future leaders of our society will make the same mistakes as their predecessors.

The great Thomas Sowell explained it even better than Santayana when he said, "Everything is new if you are ignorant of history. That is why ideas that have failed repeatedly in centuries past reappear again, under the banner of 'change,' to dazzle people and sweep them off their feet."

Amen, man.

Where is that...? Ah, here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

This Free Market Underdog store

That's advertising in my sidebar looks pretty kickbutt. I should talk to him about a JV.

Look this guy up:

Alexander of Aphrodisias.

Thanks Roderick Long.

A Rod is 16 and a half feet

That's my combination sports and weights and measures commentary for today.

There are an awful lot of people

including, sometimes, me - who could stand to look over's Style Guide.

If for no other reason than to learn about weights and measures.

Will I?

Good question.

Liberty Dog's back

as Canis Libertas. He thought he could fool us.

Be slappin' that in the old blogroll in a minute here.

Feelin' a little stiffer this mornin', I'll tell ya. I think I may have a slight hammy pull. I ran about a mile and a half this morning on it.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I ran the TC 1 Mile again today.
Unofficial Results:
date: May 3rd, 2007
location: Minneapolis, MN

Summary number of finishers: 1376
number of females: 685
number of males: 691
average time: 00:07:55

Alan Erkkilabib number: 477
age: 43
gender: M
location: Brooklyn Center, MN
overall place: 780 out of 1376
division place: 105 out of 134
gender place: 524 out of 695
time: 8:05
pace: 8:05
Here's what I said about it last year.
Talk about not leaving it all on the track! I way underestimated my ability and played it safe.

My wife said, just before I headed out, "Do you want to carry a cell-phone in a fanny pack in case something happens?" It's tough to give it all you've got, with that thought ringing in your head: visions of myself lying on the street with my head in some useless do-gooder's lap, hoping the paramedics get there in time... Aaaagh!

Yeah, I beat last year's time by 35 seconds, but I had so much left after the race that I ran sprints back to the start to get my stuff. Well, actually, I walked and jogged and cheered on the other runners for a while, first.

I bet I could approach a 7-minute mile, and with a little work, beat it.

I race like a nice-guy.... grumble...

I'm framing this in a disgusted tone, but I see all the great news in that too. I'M IN GOOD SHAPE! Not great shape, but very promising shape. My joints feel good; my feet feel good; I have excellent wind. I'm apparently bi-polar... Hahahahaha!!

Hard to believe I trained better - I felt like a slacker. I suppose I was comparing what I did for this to what I did for the Marathon.

You bet I'll be signing up for that again. I was thinking that my goals for the year are: a sub-20 minute 5K, a sub-40 minute 10K and that 4 hour Marathon I wanted last year. Sub-4, if I can do it.

Am I replacing alcohol addiction with a running addiction?

Sure, why not?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I was just reading TF Stern's latest "rant"

about PBS' The Mormons and the following show*, which I'm sorry to say I missed both of, and it reminded me - speaking of things that bring a tear to your eye - that my church put on a production of Godspell last Sunday.

I was led to believe, as a child, that there was something wrong with the show. I looked for something to criticize and found absolutely nothing. It was wonderful!

I think the guy who played Jesus could be accused of being a "ringer" - at least I didn't know him, but I only go to the 10:30 AM service - I mean, he was too good an actor and singer. We have some great musicians and singers in our congregation, but I've never seen that good an actor in our productions before.

I think the criticism I heard was that the story ends with the crucifixion. No, it doesn't. Not really. Jesus comes back and joins his powerful voice to the chorus in the end, clearly as The Leader.

It struck me as a show design to encourage, instruct and exhort believers, rather than convert unbelievers. The show was marvelous. The fundy critics look like they were expressing sour grapes to me, now that I've seen it.

I'll go into it a bit more later, though. My wife's expecting me.

*Remind me to find links to these.