Friday, March 27, 2009

I've never considered asking anyone how to wash a car

I've just grumbled about the fact that nobody ever told me anything about it. Generally I do OK, but I did scratch the crap out of the old pickup truck.

But! With Google, all things are possible! Here are three articles about it: one, two, three.

The latter two have lots more than that, but the first has the best advice on car care info.

That's a bit more than a hint of how I plan to spend Saturday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I was just typing up a paper for my wife

and Word, not liking her use of the word "tenuring", suggested "tonsuring." The sentence was about teachers' careers.

It would be funnier to show you the whole sentence, but I say enough weird shtuff here that I don't need to take the risk of drawing my wife's employer's attention to this here blog.

Speaking of new posts

It's about time I wrote one, eh? I'm still studying Molyneux to see how pleased I am with his thinking, and since he's put out tons of stuff, it takes a while. And, of course, it seems to me that his thesis on atheism is logically consistent (and that most theology isn't), so now I have to compare that to my own experience. No guarantees where that will lead.

I have choir practice tonight, after the Lenten Service (in fact, we're supposed to sing tonight, though I've missed a couple practices - I'll have to sit this one out). This choir member could use a good talking to.

[Update: I was wrong. The church is putting on a production of The Sound of Music and they were doing a dress rehearsal tonight. I was just a bit freaked.

Oh, and on the contradictions here: thank you, Grapevine.]

The Mises Institute has made Rothbard's History of Thought available online. I like this passage from the intro:

[Oops, I had a spare half line there.]
The continual progress, onward-and-upward approach was demolished for me, and should have been for everyone, by Thomas Kuhn's famed Structure of Scientific Revolutions.5 Kuhn paid no attention to economics, but instead, in the standard manner of philosophers and historians of science, focused on such ineluctably 'hard' sciences as physics, chemistry, and astronomy. Bringing the word 'paradigm' into intellectual discourse, Kuhn demolished what I like to call the 'Whig theory of the history of science'. The Whig theory, subscribed to by almost all historians of science, including economics, is that scientific thought progresses patiently, one year after another developing, sifting, and testing theories, so that science marches onward and upward, each year, decade or generation learning more and possessing ever more correct scientific theories. On analogy with the Whig theory of history, coined in mid-nineteenth century England, which maintained that things are always getting (and therefore must get) better and better, the Whig historian of science, seemingly on firmer grounds than the regular Whig historian, implicitly or explicitly asserts that 'later is always better' in any particular scientific discipline. The Whig historian (whether of science or of history proper) really maintains that, for any point of historical time, 'whatever was, was right', or at least better than 'whatever was earlier'. The inevitable result is a complacent and infuriating Panglossian optimism. In the historiography of economic thought, the consequence is the firm if implicit position that every individual economist, or at least every school of economists, contributed their important mite to the inexorable upward march. There can, then, be no such thing as gross systemic error that deeply flawed, or even invalidated, an entire school of economic thought, much less sent the world of economics permanently astray.

Kuhn, however, shocked the philosophic world by demonstrating that this is simply not the way that science has developed. Once a central paradigm is selected, there is no testing or sifting, and tests of basic assumptions only take place after a series of failures and anomalies in the ruling paradigm has plunged the science into a 'crisis situation'. One need not adopt Kuhn's nihilistic philosophic outlook, his implication that no one paradigm is or can be better than any other, to realize that his less than starry-eyed view of science rings true both as history and as sociology.

But if the standard romantic or Panglossian view does not work even in the hard sciences, afortiori it must be totally off the mark in such a 'soft science' as economics, in a discipline where there can be no laboratory testing, and where numerous even softer disciplines such as politics, religion, and ethics necessarily impinge on one's economic outlook.

There can therefore be no presumption whatever in economics that later thought is better than earlier, or even that all well-known economists have contributed their sturdy mite to the developing discipline. For it becomes very likely that, rather than everyone contributing to an ever-progressing edifice, economics can and has proceeded in contentious, even zig-zag fashion, with later systemic fallacy sometimes elbowing aside earlier but sounder paradigms, thereby redirecting economic thought down a total erroneous or even tragic path. The overall path of economics may be up, or it may be down, over any give time period.

In recent years, economics, under the dominant influence of formalism, positivism and econometrics, and preening itself on being a hard science, has displayed little interest in its own past. It has been intent, as in any 'real' science, on the latest textbook or journal article rather than on exploring its own history. After all, do contemporary physicists spend much time poring over eighteenth century optics?

No, I don't take that use of "Whig" personally. He's referring to Acton and Macauley and others like them. We love them, but they did tend to portray history as constant progress. Progressives took up that style and, in Acton's time, began the process of reversing everything he would have called progress. That's why I call myself, following Hayek (in my case, it's an allusion to Hayek's "Why I am not a Conservative" ), an "old whig."

Oh, here's a great Aristotle quote from the book: "men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer cold". That's from page 14 of the book (page 30 of the pdf).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hey! There's a new post on Omni's blog!

It looks like an ad, though.


Can't they do anything with a German Major?

If you don't go over there for any other reason, you gotta look at that swirly thing in the title bar. How did she do that?

The kitty cat's cute, too.

She sends me karma. Hope she's stocked up on the good stuff.

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty

has sent out an alert, Peaceful Dissent and Government Witch Hunts:
As most readers of this are probably aware, the Campaign for Liberty has been singled out, along with a few other political groups, in a leaked Missouri state government report, "The Modern Militia Movement." The document tells state officials to be on the lookout for violent extremists while conflating them with pretty much anyone who criticizes the government. Perhaps most troubling, the information apparently comes from the Department of Homeland Security, meaning that similar documents could be circulating in states other than Missouri.

I made sure to include that link. It's interesting reading.

Here is a summation of where we are now:
In the summer of 2005, the FBI admitted to collecting thousands of documents on non-violent activists, the ACLU, Greenpeace, and antiwar organizations. By using "National Security Letters," the government could force citizens to relinquish personal and financial information while forbidding them from informing anyone, including their lawyer. By 2005, about 30,000 such letters were issued annually. The FBI spied on the Catholic Worker Movement, noting its "semi-communistic ideology."

The same year, NBC News obtained a secret 400-page Pentagon document that tracked such "extremists" as anti-war Quakers in Florida, whose meeting was officially described as a "suspicious incident" and a "threat." All the while, peaceful activists were denied their right to travel by being inexplicably put on federal No-Fly lists.

Now the flavor of government has changed from the Republican leviathan of George W. Bush to the Democratic leviathan of Barack Hussein Obama. A different group is vulnerable to being marginalized -- in many ways a revitalization of the Clinton era atmosphere, although now with the post-9/11 concern about peace activists and all the surveillance powers inaugurated by Bush still in place.

Interestingly, he, Anthony Gregory, doesn't end the article with any call to action, except to "speak up; to tell the truth; to defend the freedoms of all people to speak, live in peace, pursue happiness in a world of liberty, so long as they do not commit aggression against their fellow man." No call for funding - though he does brag up the C4L, as they like to abbreviate it, talking about how they're doing just that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Holy Crap! It looks like the commies had a point!

From Kevin Carson's The Subsidy of History:
Contrary to Mises’s rosy version of the Industrial Revolution in Human Action, factory owners were not innocent in all of this. Mises claimed that the capital investments on which the factory system was built came largely from hard-working and thrifty workmen who saved their own earnings as investment capital. In fact, however, they were junior partners of the landed elites, with much of their investment capital coming either from the Whig landed oligarchy or from the overseas fruits of mercantilism, slavery, and colonialism.

In addition, factory employers depended on harsh authoritarian measures by the government to keep labor under control and reduce its bargaining power. In England the Laws of Settlement acted as a sort of internal passport system, preventing workers from traveling outside the parish of their birth without government permission. Thus workers were prevented from “voting with their feet” in search of better-paying jobs. You might think this would have worked to the disadvantage of employers in underpopulated areas, like Manchester and other areas of the industrial north. But never fear: the state came to the employers’ rescue. Because workers were forbidden to migrate on their own in search of better pay, employers were freed from the necessity of offering high enough wages to attract free agents; instead, they were able to “hire” workers auctioned off by the parish Poor Law authorities on terms set by collusion between the authorities and employers.

The whole thing is worth reading. Carson, Molyneux and Tom DiLorenzo (I'm currently reading his Hamilton's Curse, which charts the course of British Mercantilism and Crony Capitalism in American history) are turning me into a Left Libertarian.

Hey! It's St. Urho's Day!

I'm pretty sure that this post right here is the greatest celebration of it in the whole world. Maybe somebody up on Da Range'll be hoistin' a brew over it tonight.

I think I'll run the kids through a Finnish lesson.

Yesterday, I tried to celebrate the Ides of March by reading from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, but the kids wandered off on me. I got through the first act.

Tomorrow we'll figure out what to do for the Irish guy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sorry. I've been spending every free moment

trying to catch up with that anarchist, atheist, apostate-Objectivist, anti-family* Stefan Molyneux.

I think he's pretty cool, naturally.

I'm almost hesitant to suggest a starting point, but if you're having any problems with anybody (at all), Real-Time Relationships is quite likely to direct you to the solution. Otherwise, run through that page top to bottom. That's what I did.

Payday's Monday, Stef.

*[Added later] He's been accused of being anti-family. What he really is, is pro chosen relationships; you find yourself quite accidentally thrown in with your family: if they don't hold their relationship with you sacred, then neither should you. The sacred bond is already broken. See if you can repair it - with techniques he provides, but if you can't, it may be time to get out. Don't hurt anybody, just declare personal independence.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Nullification Lives!

The Principles of '98* are experiencing a revival:
Last week, HUMAN EVENTS reported that eleven states, Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas, had all “all introduced bills and resolutions” declaring their sovereignty over Obama’s actions in light of the 10th Amendment.

These actions are in response to the Obama administration’s faux-“stimulus” legislation which directly assaults the rights of states to reject the money coming from the federal government. So far, several Republican governors -- among them South Carolina’s Mark Sanford and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal -- have said they would refuse all or part of the stimulus money because of the constitutional infringements and because of the additional unfunded liabilities they impose on the states.

This week, HUMAN EVENTS is happy to report that five more states have decided to invoke the 10th as well.

These five -- Tennessee, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, and West Virginia -- have all begun their action under the 10th Amendment in a bid to protect themselves from what they view as nothing less than an unconstitutional usurpation of power on the part of the Obama administration.

And a commenter adds:
I find it interesting that this column mentions only Jindal and Sanford as rejecting some of the stimulus money. In fact, it was Gov. Sarah Palin who was the first governor to go on record as rejecting the stimulus, and has in fact rejected more than 50 percent of the money Alaska is expected to be in line for. Jindal on the other hand, has only rejected $98 million out of a total of $9 billion his state is expected to receive.

Besides that, it is important to note that more people are starting to realize that the 10th Amendment still exists, and has been ignored far too long.

*Note that a commenter, Michael Boldin, gives links to The Kentucky (author, Vice President Thomas Jefferson) and Virginia (Madison) Resolutions of 1798, against the Alien and Sedition Acts - but they have far broader reach than that.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Can we just throw all bullcrap under the bus?

Stefan Molyneux has some ideas on how.

I ran across him while checking out the 9-11 Truthers. Everything they say that can be thought to have some validity is covered by Molyneux. And then some. I would defend them (the link for his address to them) somewhat by saying that anything that brings people over to our side is useful.

Zeitgeist: The Movie - a Truther vehicle - is pretty interesting.

Except that it looks like they're wandering off into occultism. Why fight an enemy that's omniscient and omnipotent?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The great god Google only answers the questions you ask it.

I can't believe I never went looking for the Thomas Jefferson Papers before.

How about those Annual Messages to Congress, eh?