Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm spending my New Year's Eve

(it's not midnight here yet) reading these three articles by Robert Higgs*:
From the Armistice to the Great Depression
Military-Economic Fascism: How Business Corrupts Government, and Vice Versa, and
If Men Were Angels: The Basic Analytics of the State versus Self-government
I just finished the first one and found it pretty convincing. It's basically a catalogue of all the mistakes made by the Great Powers after WWI that led to the Depression. And Hitler's ascension.

*Well, after taking the younger girl swimming and reading Lemony Snicket to the older girl. By the way, if you want to get an idea of how I talk to my kids, read a Lemony Snicket novel aloud. Then, when I'm with my peers, as seldom as that happens, mix in some sailor language. It doesn't work well, but I can't help myself. When I'm irritable, you just get the sailor. Or somebody does; I try to direct it at inanimate objects.

I resolve to be more irresolute than ever

in this New Year.

Yeah, that thought was inspired by Lileks, but I think I've taken his thought in an Escherian "direction."

The thing is, I'm not just trying to be funny; I really mean it!

I wonder if Robert Ringer wants to be remembered for all time

for this stroke of genius:
"Government is a contract between those who want their lives and property protected and those who want power."

He follows that up with this:
The Founding Fathers’ original idea was that those who aspire to power were to be given limited power in exchange for protecting the lives and property of those who granted them that power. Never was it stated, or even implied, in the Constitution or in any other document, that government would have the right to plunder at will, violate the constitutional rights of its citizens, or engage in any other kind of activities not expressly spelled out in the Constitution.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan promised that if he were elected he would abolish the Department of Education. I believe Reagan’s intentions were sincere, but, like almost all politicians, he was corrupted by the system. Once elected, his advisors quickly “rehabilitated” his “misguided thinking.” As a result, not only is the Department of Education still in business, but government mischief has brought us one misleading education program after another, the latest and most misleading of all being George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” scam.

His topic for a while now has been "What went wrong with Cho":
...[I]n the next installment of this series, I’m going to move on to other steps that I believe could be taken to slow the Cho incubation rate without regard to whether schools are private or public … without regard to whether teachers are forced to sell their services in the marketplace or remain chained to the NEA agenda.

He's not providing direct links to this series, so I don't know how to prove that he said these things (or give proper attribution), but if you sign up for his newsletter here (he's not heavy-handed with the advertising, in my opinion) you can get the most recent articles.

Oh! Here's the first of the series. Maybe I can cheat and get to the one quoted here. Looks like it:

The Cho Factor is installment I, same as the link above.

Installment II: A Soul Without Purpose

...All right, I can't hand 'em all out for nothing. The titles are great though:
III: The Great Copout: “Evil”
IV: No Other Option?
V: Victims and Victimizers
VI: Quiet Suffering
VII: Prime Targets

...hmm, apparently this is where he changed his archiving method.

So this current one is IX: Eliminating the Two-Headed Snake.
Sign up for the free newsletter yourself and(/or) figure out how I'm cheating and do it yourself. Actually, you can probably Google the ones I found. I don't know if this is just a glitch related to revamping his website or if he specifically doesn't want strangers accessing his content directly.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Enchanted, Packers, Patriots

That's my outline, but, since I have the least to say about them, first I'll say Congrats Pats fans for selecting such a fine team to admire. 16-0. I guess I have seen that before, but it didn't make much of an impression back when I was seven and eight. I had other things to worry about. (That was when this kid in my class wasn't happy unless he'd just had the crap pounded out of him. He did things to make sure it happened.)

While they were winning their last regular-season game, I was taking my family to see Enchanted. I thought it was pretty funny. It starts out as a self-parody of all the cloyingly sweet cartoons Disney has ever made, then they throw all the people who need a good hard slap into the middle of New York City, where they're sure to get it.

Then the characters who thrive on reality get sorted out from the ones who need romance and all of them end up in their proper places.

The song and dance routine in Central Park is hilarious.

Hey, I'm not writing a sales pitch here! I'm just saying that the movie deserves to be the top-rated comedy in theaters right now.

And in other news, the Packers beat Detroit 34-13. It was a game they should have won, but, after last week you had to wonder. So the Pack finished the season 13-3. The same record they had the last time they faced the Patriots in the Superbowl.

Of course, the Patriots didn't have a 16-0 record then. And, should they face each other in the Superbowl, that record will have grown to 18-0. They only have to keep doing what they're doing to get there. The Packers have to keep improving.

The Packers won the first-round bye a couple weeks ago, now all we gotta worry about is who they'll face in two weeks (the choices are Seattle, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants), whether the bye week will be good for them or bad, will they come healed-up and hungry or overconfident and lazy... I hate bye weeks.

I didn't get the TV on in time to watch Favre play, but Nall and everybody else seemed to be getting the job done.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto was a beautiful woman

Physically and spiritually.

I feel the loss of her personally, I had a bit of a crush on her.

I know that's about the silliest thing anybody will write about her. Hopefully.

Here's a link to a serious obituary and analysis.

May she rest in peace. And may Pakistan achieve peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My long Christmas weekend

Saturday: slept in, went to relatives, came home, cleaned house a bit, waited for inlaws.

Sunday: slept in, shoveled drive, rented pickup to transport new garage door home, picked up door and purchased boards and hardware needed for the job, went home and unloaded door, got stuck returning two-wheel drive rental pickup in snowstorm, paid late fee, drove my 4WD pickup home, dismantled old door, read door manual, discovered that new door is a torsion-spring door rather than an extension-spring door (thus requiring a beefed-up wall to mount), shoveled driveway, discussed alternatives.

Monday (Christmas Eve): returned wrong garage door opener, purchased right one, purchased better door-frame boards and more hardware, looked over door parts, tried new door in opening, discovered my opening is non-standard.

Discussed major renovations.

Went to candle-light Christmas Eve service at church (I needed it), caught In-laws cleaning house when we came home, joined them, up until 2:00 AM.

Tuesday: (Christmas Day): opened presents, repaired and reinstalled half of old garage door, ate Christmas dinner, finished installing old door, shoveled driveway, up intil 1:30 AM.

So, now you know.

Sorry to tell ya, kids: Bill Benson's a casuist.

I mean, it's the same sort of casuistry that convinces juries and courts to do stupid things all the time (and trust the b-tards to get all "spirit of the law"-y and "check and balance"-y on an issue that hits them in the pocket-book) but I'm afraid that the argument that the 16th Amendment wasn't properly ratified just doesn't fly.

At the latter link you'll find this link to the best summary of 'why Bill Benson's wrong.'

Your fellow citizens have decided that they want to squander your money, and as long as you accept democracy, you'll have to accept that.

[Update: Crap! Why did I come in here? Never mind, sorry.]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I need to give this a link

Roy Childs' Big Business and the Rise of American Statism.

It ties together about 85% of what I've been trying to say lately.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sheldon Richman, whose blog I've now linked

rather high up on my side-bar, wrote an essay a couple weeks ago... Ah, if I don't find it, I'm not going to be able to say anything intelligent...

Go check out William Penn here. The only thing I really knew about him before was what Macauley said. Apparently Macauley's been refuted. Penn was a hero! A true libertarian icon!

And check this out from

Anyway, TF was talking about the foundation of rights the other day. I wanted to see what he thinks of de Jasay's piece, which says, basically (as they intro it there):
Nineteenth-century utilitarians introduced into liberalism ideas incompatible with its essence, thus giving rise to a contemporary “liberalism” that discounts the value of liberty. For genuine liberalism to resist the penetration of alien elements, it must affirm vigorously two basic principles: the presumption of freedom, and the rejection of the rules of submission to political authority.

He also says that rights are crap and should be replaced by those principles.

Richman says, after quoting Jasay's paragraph, which says approximately what I just said:
When some Americans in the late eighteenth century demanded that a bill of rights be added to the newly proposed Constitution (in fact the second U.S. constitution), defenders of the Constitutional Convention's handiwork responded that a list of rights, although necessarily incomplete, would be taken to be exhaustive. Advocates of a bill of rights countered by proposing what became the Ninth Amendment:
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

That seemed to solve the problem. Except that it didn't. The courts have not used the amendment to defend unenumerated rights. Conservative legal scholars claim not to know what it means. Robert Bork famously said it was as if the framers had obscured the text with an ink blot. So despite that language, the Bill of Rights has been regarded as exhaustive. Conservatives glibly parry privacy claims by noting that the word privacy appears nowhere in the list.

Things, then, have worked out pretty much as Mr. de Jasay suggests. Rights are seen as a few islands in a sea of prohibitions. But pushing for recognition of the Ninth Amendment has its risks. Once people start excavating that mine, they are liable to dig up all sorts of "rights" no libertarian would like. Most Americans already think they have a right to a minimum wage, health care, and education. Be careful what you ask for.

For this reason, I am drawn to Mr. de Jasay's simpler approach, although it will be hard to kick the rights habit. Instead of defensively proving that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, let's start demanding that those who would interfere with freedom prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Let them be on the defensive for a change.

It's one of those articles I have a hard top not quoting all of. [Yeah, yeah...grammar...preposition...mutter...] Right at the moment, I'm having trouble summarizing the rest. Probably too much sugar.

Richman's disappointed, however in de Jasay's prescription for action, "It is worth the effort, however, constantly to challenge the state's legitimacy. The pious lie of a social contract must not be allowed to let the state complacently take its subjects' obedience too much for granted.... The best that strict liberalism can do is to combat this [democratic] state intrusion step by step at the margins, where some private ground may yet be preserved and where perhaps some ground may even be regained."

Richman's response, "Observing today's dismal political-economic landscape, it is easy to think that this modest, though by no means easily achieved, agenda is all that strict liberals can hope to win. But if that's all we aim for, we'll never know if we could have gotten more."

Maybe he'd be heartened by Paul Goodman's assertion that anarchy works whenever it's tried, and [I think it's in The Black Flag of Anarchism] he shows examples.

BTW: Anarchy links.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I got my wife a new garage door for Christmas.

With opener.

Or, perhaps, what I got her was the opportunity to do a home project with her father, which she apparently finds very satisfying. [Whoops! I mean "the opportunity for her to see her husband bonding with his father-in-law through means of a home improvement project. She ain't doin' no manual labor!]

All arranged by her, btw. The garage door is about number 38 on my priority list.

Anybody else got any fun plans for your long weekend?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Der Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation

has been revived in spades. [Do I have my genders right? Always a question when going from a sexless language like English (or Finnish) to one of those oversexed languages (like German and Greek--the Romance languages I've looked at only have two genders, and are, therefore, merely sexy--damn near conventionally so.]

The European Union is about to become unified into a single nation.

Oh, and, lest I forget, here's a fascinating discussion of Ron Paul on Mother Jones' blog.

One of the latter discussants brought up the previous matter.

Time to update your understanding of John's Revelation. Makes me want to warn the Eurocrats, "If you &%$# with the bull, yer gonna get the horn!"

I haven't mentioned yet that I spent a number of hours with my brother when I went down to Oklahoma for the funeral, have I? Not as many as we'd have liked, 'cuz I was so effin' sick on Tuesday.

Outside of the realm of the supernatural, I doubt that joining together in a supernation will work out as well for them as they expect. Political matters are going to suck.

Oh, I should explain the title: it's the official name of Karl der Grosse's (better known to English and French speakers as Charlemagne--though he wasn't French. He was a Frank: a member of a German tribe that lived around Aachen) realm. The name of which was The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Some have been known to call it The First Reich.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

You will be a better person if you read Theodore Dalrymple's essay

What the New Atheists Don't See.

It's a bit long. Steve directed my attention to it, and you might want to read what he has to say before you delve into it.

There were a couple of allusions I had to look up. I'll give you the links where I found the answers:


If you've never read Dickens' Hard Times (I haven't), this Wikipedia article is a fine summary of it. I read it all up to the description of the character Gradgrind:
Tom Gradgrind is a utilitarian who is the founder of the educational system in Coketown. 'Eminently practical' is Gradgrind's recurring description throughout the novel, and practicality is something he zealously aspires to. He represents the stringency of 'Fact', statistics and other materialistic pursuits. Only after his daughter's breakdown does he come to a realisation that things such as poetry, fiction and other pursuits are not 'destructive nonsense'.

Juan Sánchez Cotán
Dalrymple's description of the painting is a work of poetry itself:
Even if you did not know that Sánchez Cotán was a seventeenth-century Spanish priest, you could know that the painter was religious: for this picture is a visual testimony of gratitude for the beauty of those things that sustain us. Once you have seen it, and concentrated your attention on it, you will never take the existence of the humble cabbage—or of anything else—quite so much for granted, but will see its beauty and be thankful for it. The painting is a permanent call to contemplation of the meaning of human life, and as such it arrested people who ordinarily were not, I suspect, much given to quiet contemplation.

Ah, a fine philistine I am!

To reclaim my bona fides in that respect, it's only the majority of the currently avant garde stuff that I don't get. I'm not much impressed by abstract paintings, sculpture, architecture and (even) literature.

I usually "get" "representational" art.

Hey!! How about those Packers?!!

[He said, trying desperately to change the subject.]

33-14 is a convincing win, wouldn't you say? They secure the "Bye" and home-field advantage for the divisional playoff game...

Let's see, what else was interesting...?

Favre tossed two interceptions. I'm used to that sort of thing from him, but I was getting used to him not doing it lately.

Does the number 61,405 mean anything to you?

It's the new all-time passing yardage record for a quarterback.

Time to get me a Brett Favre jersey. Let me tell you something: being a Packer fan before the Brett Favre era was a discouraging experience. And one big reason good things are happening for him now is that Favre wouldn't put this as succinctly as the writer:
One undeniable and invaluable factor in the offense's prowess that has also helped Favre close quickly on Marino's yardage record is his receivers' yards after the catch.

Approximately 52 percent of Favre's 3,678 passing yards this season have come after the catch, as the Packers have made big plays both on short routes that turn into long runs and long throws that become huge gains when the receiver gets behind the entire defense.

He goes on and on about the help he's getting. And that just encourages those guys to go out and do more.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Did you have any doubt?

I am a
Looking for payday loan?

Of course, you don't need to know the history and provenance of every alcoholic beverage to be a drunkard or alcoholic, you just have to drink them.

And here's another important "fact" about me, that I'm sure has been tested empirically
Not randomly chosen five-year-olds I'm sure. Only kids with a big-enough "Why?"

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Uncle died.

[I hate to admit it, but this needed editing. I know better than to post when writing time is crunched... but I keep doing it anyway.]

I don't want to call him my favorite uncle of all time, because all of them took their turn in that post. I had, uh...[1, 2, 3,...] eight uncles back in the seventies. I'm down to four. The youngest one was the first to go in 1980.

But Uncle Bill was my first favorite: he was brilliant with little kids.

I started to write this Friday, but that was as far as I got. The Minister, a family member, said that Uncle Bill always brightened up a room when he entered it. He always made you feel welcome...that he was glad to see you...that you were important.

As I went through life as a fat kid, a gawky teenager, a jock, a smart-alecky college kid, family man and lately, a fat, old, bald guy, I can tell you that it's absolutely true.

Uncle Bill was a wiry cowboy type - he looked, and dressed, like someone you'd find wrangling cows on a ranch. And he did his share of that kind of thing. "Wiry" is a funny pun - he made his living as an electrician.

I won't do his whole biography, I'm not qualified. (I would be, if I'd learn to take notes.)
Muskogee didn't get hit by the ice storm, though Tulsa, 40 miles to the northwest, was shut down. The funeral was on Monday; I was going to come back North Tuesday, but that's when the storm hit... So, I was stuck.

28 people died, last I heard, due to the ice storm, mostly in car accidents. I'd be surprised to find out that even one of them wasn't a tragic loss to humanity. Each of their unique contributions to society are now lost.

It's just as well I didn't try to drive in that, I was in no shape to drive Tuesday. I had some kind of inexplicable disease that day (fever, aches and pains, I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed...uh ... other unpleasant symptoms) that cleared up by the next morning.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

From FEE--In Brief, a daily newsletter I get:

Revamped Consumer Agency in the Works
"The Consumer Product Safety Modernization Act of 2007 would initiate the first major overhaul of the Consumer Product Safety Commission since its founding in 1973. It seeks to reverse a steady decline in the size and effectiveness of the agency by increasing its annual funding to $100 million, from $63 million, over four years." (Washington Post, Thursday)

What good is a reinforced false sense of security?

FEE Timely Classic
"The Role of Brands in Consumer Markets" by William G. Stuart

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I would very much like to see my

beloved Dr. Sowell elaborate on this point:
I believe in libertarian principles but not in libertarian fetishes. In any context, the difference between principles and fetishes can be the difference between night and day.

I suppose I could blather on about what I think he means, and no doubt I will, but I'd rather hear him say it.

It's something that deserves elaboration. All my time studying Libertarianism leads me to wonder, for instance, what the greatest libertarian world leader of all time, Thomas Jefferson, was thinking when he imposed the Embargo Act (I think I know what he was thinking when he purchase Louisiana from Napoleon, though, really it was an unconstitutional act). prints libertarian fetishes multiple times daily, as do other major libertarian websites - I've quoted some here, and even endorsed them to a degree...but guys like me are longing to be straightened out by the wisdom of an experienced man like Dr. Sowell.

That won't happen if he doesn't define his terms.

Jeez, I should do a post at the

other blog. I got some family pix I could post, I suppose.

Part of the problem is that I've been wallowing in bourgeois-ness for quite a while, and I'm afraid I can't find much of it worthy of comment. I mean, I've been doing yard work: raking leaves, putting away the inflatable pool (which looks like it'll last at least one more year; which makes four--though, I find it's not a babe-magnet to have an inflatable pool, so what's the point... unless you take the word "babe" literally, in which case the lock on the gate has been helpful), shoveling snow...

Oh, yeah! That's what I was going to say! You may have noticed that it's been cold around here so far this month. I'm too much of a solipsist to know if it's been cold and/or snowy in the neighboring states, but My Higher Power has been giving me plenty of exercise in keeping my driveway clear for the past five days. Come to think of it, I haven't cleaned up the mess the city left at the lower end yet today... although, I shoveled out enough of the street to keep it from being a major concern.

I'm forced to drive on the freeway for a couple miles every workday, and I'm pissed at the people who refuse to drive faster than 25 mph! Listen! If you've never done a shitty (that's what we called "doughnuts" back in the '80s--I don't know what they're calling them now; 360 degree spin-outs--near as I can tell, the art has been forgotten) in a parking lot, you don't belong behind the wheel in the winter. Get ye to the parking lot! Don't worry about the cops, they're too busy eating doughnuts to worry about any hell-raisers roaming the streets.

And, by the way, that reminds me of what I learned about parenting while raising two rotten dopers: if the cops don't care what your kids are up to, they don't care what you're up to. (We booted the older boy out half a year before any court would have allowed.)

The great line from "V", "Anarchy in the UK!" applies everywhere.

The true downside of Ron Paul, and I

have it on good authority, is that he's never read the second page of The Constitution.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Boy! I need to write some crap!

Not that that would be unusual, or anything, but I need to tamp down the front page a bit. I've been kind of...courting disaster by not getting some new posts up here since the other day.

So what is there to blather on about?

You got any ideas?

I need to check my receipts. My credit card guardians called me up and asked me about a purchase on the card today. On the spot, I told them that I knew what it was, and I think I do, but I don't recall the exact name of the organization that I bought the thing from. So now I get to dig around and try to find that.

Is this something that ought to be mentioned on a blog?

It's weighing on my mind a bit. I'll have to get right on that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Khartoum Imams are Morons

"Kill her! Kill her by firing squad!"

I know Muslims. They're not all morons.

Is Muhammed God?

The kind of response these people have to naming a teddy bear Muhammed looks like worshipping something other than Allah to me.