Tuesday, July 31, 2007

We were supposed to leave on our camping trip

- Voyageur Rendezvous stuff in Deer River, MN that I'll tell you about on the other blog when I get back - today, but it looks like my MAF sensor went to hell. Crap! What's that stand for? Oh, yeah, Mass Air Flow. On my truck.

I can't change that myself, they've got some kind of goofy, impossible-to-deal-with-without-breaking-it plug on the damn thing, so I have to take it to the shop tomorrow. (*^)*(&^)!

My time has been taken up by preparing for that and preparing for the TCM. The runs are getting rather long now, and they kind of wipe me out for the weekend. Just can't work up any enthusiasm for writing, or much of anything else. Whenever my enthusiasm level starts to rise it's time to run again. Good thing I like running.

So, that's my excuse. What's yours?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Benjamin Constant said this in 1819:

It follows from what I have just indicated that we can no longer enjoy the liberty of the ancients, which consisted in an active and constant participation in collective power. Our freedom must consist of peaceful enjoyment and private independence. The share that in antiquity everyone held in national sovereignty was by no means an abstract presumption as it is in our own day. The will of each individual had real influence: the exercise of this will was a vivid and repeated pleasure. Consequently the ancients were ready to make many a sacrifice to preserve their political rights and their share in the administration of the state. Everybody, feeling with pride all that his suffrage was worth, found in this awareness of his personal importance a great compensation.

This compensation no longer exists for us today. Lost in the multitude, the individual can almost never perceive the influence he exercises. Never does his will impress itself upon the whole; nothing confirms in his eyes his own cooperation. The exercise of political rights, therefore, offers us but a part of the pleasures that the ancients found in it, while at the same time the progress of civilization, the commercial tendency of the age, the communication amongst peoples, have infinitely multiplied and varied the means of personal happiness.

It follows that we must be far more attached than the ancients to our individual independence. For the ancients when they sacrificed that independence to their political rights, sacrificed less to obtain more; while in making the same sacrifice! we would give more to obtain less. The aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim of the moderns is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures.

Yeah, it's them Mises guys again.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Now that there's a little distance between now and the sad event

I can tell you my clearest memory of Don Ho.

Actually, it's not of him per se, as much as it's of his name. Back in the late Seventies, National Lampoon put out a personality test (and you know how I love personality tests) called "Are You a Homo?" in which one of the answers to the question, asked by your Uncle Moe, "Who's your favorite singer?" was "Don Ho, Moe."

The test was morally non-judgmental, so you could feel perfectly comfortable choosing that answer.

Update: Some corroboration. And, I'm sure they've got it archived on their website somewhere. I've already wasted too much of my LifeForce on the subject.

LibertyBob reminds us why

[LibertyBob link] as I like to say, "Nobody should live in the city without a Streetsweeper."

Here's a picture of what I'm talking about (from here):
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I suppose, though that I'd rather have the next descendant of that weapon, shown in the following pic on that site.

A society armed with fully automatic, large-capacity-magazine shotguns is a polite society.

Have I quoted this before?

Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. …Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government.

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1791).

Richman quotes it at the end of a fine exposition of Paine's Common Sense.

There. Now I have links to all of Paine's published works on one page. Oh, come to think of it, The Crisis link is in a comment.

Wait a minute, I'm forgetting a fourth. What is it, LibertyBob? Oh, yeah! The Age of Reason! [I like that USHistory.org.] Which is a lot better explication of Deism than, say, Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion [scroll down] or Ethan Allen's Reason: The Only Oracle of Man. Of course, I read Paine first and the other two were deadly boring rehashes of the same stuff after that. Paine inserts some fireworks into the discussion at least.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just so you know

Your Score: Robot

You are 71% Rational, 0% Extroverted, 42% Brutal, and 42% Arrogant.

You are the Robot! You are characterized by your rationality. In fact, this is really ALL you are characterized by. Like a cold, heartless machine, you are so logical and unemotional that you scarcely seem human. For instance, you are very humble and don't bother thinking of your own interests, you are very gentle and lack emotion, and you are also very introverted and introspective. You may have noticed that these traits are just as applicable to your laptop as they are to a human being. You are not like the robots they show in the movies. Movie robots are make-believe, because they always get all personable and likeable after being struck by lightning, or they are cold, cruel killing machines. In all reality, though, you are much more boring than all that. Real robots just sit there, doing their stupid jobs, and doing little else. If you get struck by lightning, you won't develop a winning personality and heart of gold. (Robots don't have hearts, silly, and if they did, they would probably be made of steel, not gold.) You also won't be likely to terrorize humanity by becoming an ultra-violent killing machine sent into the past to kill the mother of a child who will lead a rebellion against machines, because that movie was dumb as hell, and because real robots don't kill--they horribly maim at best, and they don't even do that on purpose. Real robots are boringly kind and all too rarely try to kill people. In all my years, my laptop has only attacked me once, and that was only because my brother threw it at me. In short, your personality defect is that you don't really HAVE a personality. You are one of those annoying, super-logical people that never gets upset or flustered. Unless, of course, you short circuit. Or if someone throws a pie at you. Pies sure are delicious.

To put it less negatively:

1. You are more RATIONAL than intuitive.

2. You are more INTROVERTED than extroverted.

3. You are more GENTLE than brutal.

4. You are more HUMBLE than arrogant.


Your exact opposite is the Class Clown.

Other personalities you would probably get along with are the Hand-Raiser, the Emo Kid, and the Haughty Intellectual.



If you scored near fifty percent for a certain trait (42%-58%), you could very well go either way. For example, someone with 42% Extroversion is slightly leaning towards being an introvert, but is close enough to being an extrovert to be classified that way as well. Below is a list of the other personality types so that you can determine which other possible categories you may fill if you scored near fifty percent for certain traits.

The other personality types:

The Emo Kid: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Starving Artist: Intuitive, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Bitch-Slap: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Brute: Intuitive, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hippie: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Televangelist: Intuitive, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Schoolyard Bully: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Class Clown: Intuitive, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Robot: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Haughty Intellectual: Rational, Introverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Spiteful Loner: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Sociopath: Rational, Introverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

The Hand-Raiser: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Humble.

The Braggart: Rational, Extroverted, Gentle, Arrogant.

The Capitalist Pig: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Humble.

The Smartass: Rational, Extroverted, Brutal, Arrogant.

Be sure to take my Sublime Philosophical Crap Test if you are interested in taking a slightly more intellectual test that has just as many insane ramblings as this one does!

About Saint_Gasoline

I am a self-proclaimed pseudo-intellectual who loves dashes. I enjoy science, philosophy, and fart jokes and water balloons, not necessarily in that order. I spend 95% of my time online, and the other 5% of my time in the bathroom, longing to get back on the computer. If, God forbid, you somehow find me amusing instead of crass and annoying, be sure to check out my blog and my webcomic at SaintGasoline.com.

Link: The Personality Defect Test written by saint_gasoline on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test


Does that seem like an odd thing to say? Actually, it doesn't quite describe my whole essence. Just my weight. In pounds.

6x6x6=216. Somebody should come up with a measure of length that would make that describe my volume as well. But then, density variations....

Hi. I'm still here.

But enough about me, here:
Although we often hear that the Indians knew nothing of private property, their actual views of property varied across time, place, and tribe. When land and game were plentiful, it is not surprising that people exerted little effort in defining and enforcing property rights. But as those things became more scarce, Indians appreciated the value of assigning property rights in (for example) hunting and fishing.

In other words, the American Indians were human beings who responded to the incentives they faced, not cardboard cutouts to be exploited on behalf of environmentalism or any other political program.

Were American Indians Really Environmentalists? by Thomas E. Woods.

BTW, Economics is about the use of scarce resources. Money is just one of them and you don't see the best economists forgetting that.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My guys are giving you a sword, Prob,

in Tales of Titans and Hobbits, by Juliusz Jablecki:

The Lord of the Rings shows not only the great danger associated with all attempts to defeat evil power by power, but it also teaches that collectives do not really exist, that every one of us is the hero of his own individual story, and that law and order can easily exist without the state. Despite its egoistic message, Atlas Shrugged is full of imperatives to act, to fight, to bring salvation. Rand's characters suffer not only because the state reaches into their wallets, but because the society rejected their rational, "enlightened" vision of what is good and right.

[Really? I missed that point. One of those elisions I mentioned, I suppose.]
Tolkien, on the other hand, disliked such imperatives. He hated the outlook that if something can be done, it has to be done, and once even admitted that the greatest deeds of mind and spirit are born in abnegation. That is most likely the reason his characters do not look for great challenges, nor wish to change the world, and instead live quietly, fulfilling Voltaire's dictum Il faut cultiver notre jardin.

[I won't rely on my beginner's knowledge of French and faux amies this time*: Google says Voltaire's quote means, "Our garden should be cultivated." That could use a little context, I think, though it works here.

*Censeur means critic, not censor.]

Friday, July 13, 2007

And my personal hero, Sheldon Richman,

has this to say:
Comte and Dunoyer, along with Augustin Thierry, whose publication, Le Censeur europĂ©en [is there a typo there?], was a hotbed of radical free-market thought, were influenced by the important, but underappreciated, French free-market economist Jean-Baptiste Say, whom Murray Rothbard lauded as brilliantly innovative and the superior of Adam Smith. The seeds of early classical-liberal class theory can be found in the second and subsequent editions of Say’s Treatise on Political Economy (first published in 1803), which reflected his response to Napoleon’s military spending and intervention in the French economy. For Say, government's power to tax the fruits of labor and to distribute largess and jobs is the source of class division and exploitation. As he wrote in another work, "The huge rewards and the advantages which are generally attached to public employment greatly excite ambition and cupidity. They create a violent struggle between those who possess positions and those who want them." Of course someone has to provide the largess.

That someone is you and me...at the point of our "servants'" guns.


The State indeed performs many important and necessary functions: from provision of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that only the State can perform such functions, or, indeed, that it performs them even passably well.

The Nature of The State.

Reading Rothbard always makes me feel like I've been trying to reinvent the wheel. The dude has covered everything I've been trying to say. Here he says that much and more:
...Spooner was the last of the great natural rights theorists among anarchists, classical liberals, or moral theorists generally; the doughty old heir of the natural law-natural rights tradition of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was fighting a rearguard battle against the collapse of the idea of a scientific or rational morality, or of the science of justice or of individual right.

Not only had natural law and natural rights given way throughout society to the arbitrary rule of utilitarian calculation or nihilistic whim; but the same degenerative process had occurred among libertarians and anarchists as well. Spooner knew that the foundation for individual rights and liberty was tinsel if all values and ethics were arbitrary and subjective.

Yet, even in his own anarchist movement Spooner was the last of the Old Guard believers in natural rights; his successors in the individualist-anarchist movement, led by Benjamin R. Tucker, all proclaimed arbitrary whim and might-makes-right as the foundation of libertarian moral theory. And yet, Spooner knew that this was no foundation at all; for the State is far mightier than any individual, and if the individual cannot use a theory of justice as his armor against State oppression, then he has no solid base from which to roll back and defeat it.

With his emphasis on cognitive moral principles and natural rights, Spooner must have looked hopelessly old-fashioned to Tucker and the young anarchists of the 1870s and 1880s. And yet now, a century later, it is the latters' once fashionable nihilism and tough amoralism that strike us as being empty and destructive of the very liberty they all tried hard to bring about. We are now beginning to recapture the once-great tradition of an objectively grounded rights of the individual. In philosophy, in economics, in social analysis, we are beginning to see that the tossing aside of moral rights was not the brave new world it once seemed — but rather a long and disastrous detour in political philosophy that is now fortunately drawing to a close.

The next paragraph is even more important. Read it there.


I washed the truck today. I was on vacation. The radio told me while I was working that the temperature went from 73-76 degrees F. Sunny (or "partly cloudy," who cares?)...

Beckham married Posh Spice...

Probligo ragged on me about Capitalism...

My life is effin' wonderful!

I've been listening to Dennis Miller all week from 10:00 to noon every day on AM 1570 for the last week...

I am psyched about life!

Friday the 13th is Bulls--t!

Here's a hint at how today went:
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All right [Morons: note spelling] I'll let you see the parts of that - that I find most important - a little closer:
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I just realized I haven't brushed her hair today. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Daughter wants to read The Kalevala.

I picked this version, but there's plenty.

If anyone in the Twin Cities wants to help me learn Finnish using it, that would be wonderful. Or just buddy up to work on it together.

I suppose I could do that with the kids.

Diamonds and Water

I just discovered a guy, Daniel J. McLaughlin, who has some valuable insights:
There are some very good teachers, but teaching in a typical classroom is not generally a route to superstardom. There are relatively limited classroom positions in any geographic area, and usually plenty of competent and capable people willing to fill the spots. They are similar to water in our example. They may be necessary, they may be very good, they may provide a very valuable service, but they are also abundant.

Aspiring athletes get to be superstars because they have some type of rare talent. Top athletes can do things that mere mortals can't. Most have paid a heavy personal cost to get there. Many more try, but don't even come close. Only a tiny fraction actually make it to the big time. The level of ability and dedication it takes to be a superstar is, indeed, very rare. That rarity makes them the diamonds in the realm of professional endeavors. They have millions of adoring fans willing to pay money to see them. The supply is extremely low and the demand is extremely high. They command a high price for the same reason that diamonds are expensive.

All athletes, however, are not diamonds. Some are rubies, some are quartz, some are coal. Those that are not diamonds command less pay and may play at lower levels, farm teams, semi-pro or amateur leagues.

There are also different levels in teaching. While some are not called "teachers", they still need to be included for comparison. Some are called professors, consultants, public speakers, writers, etc. The level of pay for any of them depends on the perceived value of the skill that each individual exhibits in relation to the skills of those that would replace him or her. Thus, a renowned consultant or professor with a significant reputation , who is a popular writer and has taught many thousands of people, may actually make millions of dollars. He or she is just as much a teacher and, though called by a different name, can be thought of as a superstar of teaching, similar to superstar athletes.

I've argued these points before, though not here, I don't think. He puts it very clearly. There are teachers making millions. We just don't call them teachers. And they don't work for the government.

I should tell you that I didn't realize he was the author of this article when I finally got around to reading Economic Lessons from the Amish in my email.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Have I mentioned Father Sirico's speech

“Socialism, Free Enterprise, and the Common Good”, given at Hillsdale College and printed in Imprimus? He's the co-founder and president of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.

The Acton Institute really kicks my butt in saying everything I want to say.

The core of the old socialist hope was a mass prosperity that would free all people from the burden of laboring for others and place them in a position to pursue higher ends, such as art and philosophy, in a conflict-free society. But there was a practical problem: The Marxist prediction of a revolution that would bring about this good society rested on the assumption that the condition of the working classes would grow ever worse under capitalism. But by the early twentieth century it was clear that this assumption was completely wrong. Indeed, the reverse was occurring: As wealth grew through capitalist means, the standard of living of all was improving.

Historians now realize that even in the early years of the Industrial Revolution, workers were becoming better off. Prices were falling, incomes rising, health and sanitation improving, diets becoming more varied, and working conditions constantly improving. The new wealth generated by capitalism dramatically lengthened life spans and decreased child mortality rates. The new jobs being created in industry paid more than most people could make in agriculture. Housing conditions improved. The new heroes of society came from the middle class as business owners and industrialists displaced the nobility and gentry in the cultural hierarchy.

Much has been made about the rise of child labor and too little about the fact that, for the first time, there was remunerative work available for people of all ages. As economist W. H. Hutt has shown, work in the factories for young people was far less grueling than it had been on the farm, which is one reason parents favored the factory. As for working hours, it is documented that when factories would reduce hours, the employees would leave to go to work for factories that made it possible for them to work longer hours and earn additional wages. The main effect of legislation that limited working hours for minors was to drive employment to smaller workshops that could more easily evade the law.

In the midst of all this change, many people seemed only to observe an increase in the number of the poor. In a paradoxical way, this too was a sign of social progress, since so many of these unfortunate people might have been dead in past ages. But the deaths of the past were unseen and forgotten, whereas current poverty was omnipresent. Meanwhile, as economic development expanded in the nineteenth century, there was a dramatic growth of a middle class that now had access to consumer goods once available only to kings—not to mention plenty of new goods being created by the engine of capitalism.

I'm not too sure about this Communitarianism article, though. But I'm not going to go all Ayn Rand on 'em before I read it.

WOD: Idiolect

An idiolect is a variety of a language unique to an individual. It is manifested by patterns of word selection and grammar, or words, phrases, idioms, or pronunciations that are unique to that individual. Every individual has an idiolect; the grouping of words and phrases is unique, rather than an individual using specific words that nobody else uses.

From Wikipedia.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's my blog and I'll quote LvMI if I want to.

In Time for Another Revolution, Frank Chodorov said:
But regardless of their argument and regardless of their intent, the Constitutional shackles did in fact, though perhaps inadvertently, protect the people in the enjoyment of their cherished rights.

From this we learn a little heeded lesson in social science, namely, that the real struggle that disturbs the enjoyment of life is not between economic classes but between Society as a whole and the political power which imposes itself on Society. The class-struggle theory is a blind alley. True, people of like economic interests will gang up for the purpose of taking advantage of others. But within these classes there is as much rivalry as there is between the classes.

When, however, you examine the advantage which one class obtains over another you find that the basis of it is political power. It is impossible for one person to exploit another, for one class to exploit another, without the aid of law and the force to back up the law. Examine any monopoly and you will find it resting on the State. So that the economic and social injustices we complain of are not due to economic inequalities, but to the political means that bring about these inequalities.

If peace is to be brought into the social order it is not by accentuating a class struggle, but by restraining the basic cause of it; that is, the political power. To bring about a condition of equal rights, which is a condition of justice, the hands of the politician must be so tied that he cannot extend his activities beyond the simple duty of protecting life and property, his only competence.

"His only competence." No form of redistribution works better than protecting life and property for creating a peaceful, happy society. The authorities don't do that perfectly either, but if they focused on it, they might improve.

And, if all that seems too tame, Chodorov goes on:
For about a century and a half the American citizen enjoyed, in the main, three immunities against the State: in respect to his property; in respect to his person; in respect to his thought and expression. Pressure upon them was constant, for in the pursuit of power the State is relentless, but the dikes of the Constitution held firm and so did the immunities. Only within our time did the State effect a vital breach in the Constitution, and in short order the American, no matter what his classification, was reduced to the status of subject, as he was before 1776. His citizenship shriveled up when the Sixteenth Amendment replaced the Declaration of Independence.

The income tax completely destroys the immunity of property. It flatly declares a prior right of the State to all things produced. What it permits the individual to retain is a concession to expediency, not by any means a right; for the State retains the liberty to set rates and to fix exemptions from year to year, as its convenience dictates. Thus, the sacred right of private property is violated, and the fact that it is done pro forma makes the violation no less real than when it is done arbitrarily by an autocrat. The blanks we so dutifully fill out simply accentuate our degradation to subject status.

Demagoguery loves to emphasize a distinction between human rights and property rights. The distinction is without validity and only serves to arouse envy. The right to own is the mark of a free man. The slave is a slave simply because he is denied that right. And because the free man is secure in the possession and enjoyment of what he produces, and the slave is not, the spur to production is in one and not in the other. Men produce to satisfy their desires and if their gratifications are curbed they cease to produce beyond the point of limitation; on the other hand the only limit to their aspirations is the freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

BTW, I haven't had time to study this, but a guy named Bill Benson claims that the 16th Amendment hasn't really been ratified. The guys with the guns say otherwise, so use your own judgment about what to do about it.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I don't have anything better to say today than

what Captain Ed said, so I'll send you to him. I discovered the post via The Atlasphere.

The quote of Reagan is magnificent and he has a link to the original speech.

I, myself, would just tell you to read the Declaration and the Preamble to the Constitution today.

Aloud to your family.