Saturday, December 31, 2005

Seasoned greeting

Diana Hsieh, whose Noodlefood blog I always enjoy, has a clever post showing by indirection how absurd a "socially responsible" holiday greeting can be:
Please accept, with no obligation implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress (Yeah, right), non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday...

So I went all conventional on her:
And a Merry Christ-mass to you! And a Happy New Year, beginning on the - hmm, what does January 1 commemmorate? What happened then? Can't be Christ's birth. Can't be the coming of the Magi- that's 12 days after Christmas, not 6. You would think Jesus-obsessed Christians would have started the new calendar from his birthday. Or the solstice, to co-opt the pagans. But no. Someone messed up somewhere. At least one can reject the use of "Common Era" and "Before the Common Era" to replace Anno Domini and Before Christ as ignorant or presumptuously dismissive of the historical connection between the generally used calendar and Christ, however puzzling the exact nature of that connection may be. Reality is messy, isn't it? But amenable to reasonable analysis.

The denial of Christian historical reality is a significant theme of Rodney Stark's book,The Victory of Reason, the analysis of which I expect will be a major feature of this blog in the next few days/weeks/years. I have two copies of St. Augustine's The City of God, so perhaps I'll dip into that as well.
Something Happening Here(?)

BBC reports:
A senior Syrian official has said President Bashar al-Assad threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri only months before his death.
Debka also had the story.

At first I thought the "senior Syrian official" was still in power. That would have signaled either a coup or the immediate embarrassment (which in Syrian is translated "death") of the concerned official. Nonetheless poor Bashar's influence is fading. To be dissed like this on the world stage is extremely embarrassing for a potentate like Assad and is likely to be fatal. In the good old days any former Syrian official saying something like this would soon disappear in a puff of smoke. Wonder what the likes of Sailer and the other "Bush is a bumbler" types think caused this development? Couldn't have been anything to do with the liberation of the other major Ba'athist regime in the world and the trial of buddy Saddam, could it now?

Friday, December 30, 2005

The virtue of cleverness

This is so cool. He should write about how it occurred to him. Perhaps it's a function of growing up with cyberspace as a given, part of the background. Check out the testimonials. It's neat, too, that the page shows a cross-section of the commercial internet. Lots of poker. Travel. Dating. Games. Getting rich. Hey, that's life! (via (Hugh Hewitt)
He blogged the whole thing!

Paperclips are not electronic (not yet!), but ideas like this one depend on the freedom and open information that only the information sphere can offer. Why does the trading adventure remind me of reading a dictionary? (Also via Hugh, posing as Mary Katharine Ham) Some day he'll own the entire world! Is there a limit?
What would they say?

Just wondering what the media would say if something like this happened in Australia or Miami or Iraq:
Ten Sudanese refugees died and 30 others were injured in clashes with Egyptian security forces Friday, an Egyptian Interior Ministry spokesman said.
(from this post on the Big Pharaoh) The Sudanese situation is a real problem for the media, since the bad guys are Islamic and the victims are poor and black. There's no acceptable villain. I predict they'll find some way to blame it on Bush. The article does highlight, though, the difficulties that immigration causes in many other countries. I had to laugh at this:
But Egypt, which suffers from high unemployment and strained social services for its own population of 72 million, offers the Sudanese little assistance, and the Sudanese complain of discrimination by Egyptians.
Yep. Those Egyptians just spend too much on medical care and food stamps for their own population!! It's especially rich when the whole article is about how the UNHCR should be spending more. Let's see, how many billions of dollars did we give Egypt last year??

Thursday, December 29, 2005

How can I tell?

I don't think Verity likes David Cameron:
The man is a shallow, self-satisfied idiotarian. Bob Geldof and Zacharia Goldsmith? Does he really think this is going to play to the hordes of Tory voters who stay firmly away from the polling booth? He is out of touch if he thinks most Tories believe this commie global warming myth. It is a totally destructive lefty construct and is designed to control capitalism and technical innovation. Du-uh, Dave.

He is as empty and magpie-like as Bliar. Like Bliar, he sees something glittery and swoops down to steal it, not understanding that it is tinsel and has no value. What a tragic mistake this shallow idiot is.
Just a guess from her comments on this post.
I really feel sorry for the English. They can't seem to buy a break, after the promise of the Thatcher years. Cameron appears to be a Blair clone, interested only in changing his address to 10 Downing Street. Unfortunately for the Brits, I have to disagree with Verity that Cameron is a mistake, however. He's a logical outgrowth of fifty years of rampant Socialism. The acceptable range of ideologies is narrowing tremendously. That's why I'm glad I live here. We don't have Bill Clinton clones at the head of the Republican Party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Before the Big Bang
I found this blog talking about an interview in Der Spiegel with Daniel Dennett. Having just read this book I was somewhat familiar with the more sophisticated ID arguments, essentially fallacious though they are. So I had to chime in:
The Der Spiegel article was interesting because Dennett didn't address the last refuge of the ID-er, the Big Bang. A colleague of mine who's religious gave me a copy of an ID book that talks about nothing else, just keeps insisting that the acceptance by most scientists of the Big Bang theory shows that they acknowledge the need for a Prime Mover, some kind of Creator. I find it odd that saying, "Yes, it's true that we don't really know what was going on "before" the Big Bang"(whatever that may mean) means that you accept Michael and all the angels. But that seems to be the corner the ID folk have been backed into.
They're like chess players who have lost a Queen and whose only hope is now stalemate, which they would consider a victory.

Jeff Jarvis has an outraged dignity rant about "sploggers", that is, people - or machines - who steal online content and offer it as their own in order to reap ad revenues. I wonder what ESR thinks about this? The digital ocean has its pirates, to be sure, but I, as always, see the bright side:
Isn’t the idea of blogging to get as much exposure as possible for one’s ideas? And don’t splogs help with that? Or is it to make max ad money? Seems like it’s a bit of a compliment to be ripped off in this way. I for one welcome our new splogging overlords.
Is this like open source? If the open sourcers can prevent others from taking Linux and selling it by enforcing their non-license license, why isn't it possible for bloggers to prevent splogging? But how would that work exactly? Wouldn't advertisers prefer to deal with the originator of the content, in order to assure authenticity? Perhaps splogs can open some bloggers' eyes to the commercial potential of their writing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Refining the money pool

As Darwinians see the death of unfit organisms as refining the gene pool, I see this sort of activity as improving the characteristics of the pool of those who have money. Anyone who responds to this sort of email:
The latest hoax email contains a legitimate-looking NAB letter requesting that customers forward their account number and passwords to the bank so it can proceed with a "planned software upgrade".
truly deserves whatever horrific financial damage he suffers. Ditto anyone who thinks the government will protect him from such e-brigandage. Is there really anyone left with an email account who doesn't know enough not to fall for this nonsense? If so, he should be drummed out of the internet age immediately. We'll all be better for it.
What else could it be?

Is this a straw in the wind presaging Victory?:
Since August, Col. Muhammed Wasif Taha has served as acting commander of the 5th Brigade, 6th Division of the Iraqi army, the unit set to take charge of a section of the capital including the airport road and the perimeter of the fortified Green Zone. The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division currently controls both areas. (my italics)

Is it possible this is from the Washington Post!? OK, I guess so, since the article emphasizes the negative side -
The dispute over Taha shows the extent to which the United States wields influence over key details of security here, even as it promotes the authority of the Iraqi government and delegates ever more responsibilities to Iraq's military.
This is how the game's played. When a wonderful positive change happens, admit it, but find aspects of it that make it negative, doomed, a false hope for the Chimpy McHitler O'Halliburton devotees. The article doesn't even go into the interesting aspect of the situation, that a Sunni officer is playing a prominent part in the Iraqi army. The negativists were saying that the Iraqi army was never going to be a success because no Sunnis were included. And it was Bush's fault because he disbanded Saddam's army and right after the US leaves the mullahs will take over because the army would be entirely Shi'a. And wasn't it just a short time ago that the opposition (to freedom) was citing the lack of Iraqi control over the road to the airport and the Green Zone as certain proof that the whole effort in Iraq was never going to work? This was even more persuasive because most reporters who went to Iraq never saw much more than the road to the airport and the Green Zone.
Every day the doomsayers lose another argument.
Defending the fruitcake

I saw this column by Kevin Hassett on, containing this irresponsible unprovoked attack on the best-tasting food available to mortal man:
... 10 percent to 18 percent of every dollar spent is wasted on fruitcakes (do these things come from a quarry, or where?) or neckties from the 1970s.

So I had to put a flea in his ear:
Dear Mr. Hassett:

Your Bloomberg column about the economics of Christmas gift-giving was thought-provoking. It's too bad you had to descend to rabid unthinking animadversion in your description of the greatest culinary treat of the year:
10 percent to 18 percent of every dollar spent is wasted on fruitcakes (do these things come from a quarry, or where?) or neckties from the 1970s.

As an ardent fruitcake-o-phile (we call ourselves "fruities") I protest! I demand satisfaction. Citron and marzipan at fifty paces in the morning would avenge the honor of the luscious toothsome confection. One has to wonder if you've ever actually tasted a fruitcake or plum pudding or even gingerbread. In spices, nuts and fruits are the salvation of the world! I ... I don't want to seem extreme. But that bit about the 1970s necktie was over the edge. Perhaps you could post a photo of yourself happily consuming a delectable morsel, packed with walnuts, cherries and raisins, as a fitting apology.

Robert Speirs
Tallahassee, Florida
OK, so maybe some fruitcake has some rum or brandy or whisky in it. So maybe it's not ENTIRELY innocent. But it's still luscious!
Tortured reasoning

The Belgravia Dispatch is on the edge of being eliminated from my book marks, along with Esmay and Quick. Oooh, bet they're scared! But this piffle about torture seems so pathetic when you've read a couple of Vince Flynn books. When logic screams:

The lesson of history is that, when the law is not there to keep watch over it, the practice is always at risk of being resorted to in one form or another by the executive branch of government.

"In one form or another". Right. The weasel words that spawned a hundred liberal columns, as I remark:
All this verbiage and not a word on what constitutes torture. Does putting panties on someone's head equal putting someone on the rack? Can any reasonable man allege that? How about giving a Muslim only pork to eat? Playing Neil Diamond songs would be torture to me. But this is a live issue. All the moonbats who assert the Bush administration has been torturing everywhere all the time are simply lying about what constitutes torture.

How about telling a suspect he will go to the electric chair unless he turns state's evidence? How about when death is an overwhelmingly likely outcome, and the "threat" is thus a true statement? Is this torture? And why are the lives and mental contentment of murderers and psychopaths more important than the safety of innocent civilians? Isn't it honorable to use (real) torture in some situations and utterly DISHONORABLE not to? The opinion of the Law Lords in many situations is a reliable guide to what not to do.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Obscure Scandinavian authors
An article in the New Yorker (via Arts and Letters Daily) led me to a story about Knut Hamsun, great man of Norwegian letters who got caught up in that annoying little Nazi matter:
But his admirers had watched with some alarm as his politics evolved; many found it unforgivable when, in the mid-thirties, he attacked the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the anti-Nazi journalist Carl von Ossietzky, who had been tortured and imprisoned by his fellow-Germans. Even worse, he supported Vidkun Quisling, the Norwegian defense minister who founded the pro-Fascist National Union Party, in 1933. Though that could be tolerated, barely, as a nasty idiosyncrasy, everything changed after the Germans invaded on April 9, 1940, and Hamsun urged his countrymen to throw down their weapons and coöperate.

So maybe Knut isn't my hero, although Hunger sounds interesting. But the story reminded me of a Norwegian author I hadn't thought of in years: Agnar Mykle. I remember reading him in the library at prep school, then couldn't find his books any more. Now forty years later, I remember him, Google him and find a book of his I hadn't read on Ebay for $1.74! I do love the new way of knowledge!
Apple nonsense

As an avid Lileks-phile, I don't have any illusions about Apple. I just bought a new Mac mini because I could use the same old display - had to change to a USB keyboard, though. But I failed to notice that the more expensive (599) Mini, unlike the 499 model, does not come with a dial-up modem. I had thought I would use it on broadband, but changed my mind. So I ordered a USB modem. Note that the modem description says it works with the Mac mini. As I say here (OK, I got a little uncomplimentary) there is a little problem. But I hope to have it worked out soon. I like the idea of dial-up. It's cheap. And so am I.
Frostbite, Florida

24 degrees this morning at 7:45. Frost on the palm trees. Walked in to work over the tracery of hoarfrost on the grass - about half a mile - and my thumbs were half-frozen by the time I stumbled into the building. I refuse to wear gloves in Florida. In New Hampshire I wore them eight months out of the year. Never again! Don't want to risk my thumbs, but I know from New England that it takes quite a lot of cold to actually damage one's extremities. It should be over sixty this afternoon, so who knows? Shirtsleeves on Christmas? Could happen.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Nigerian catastrophe

I heard in past years about explosions in Nigerian oil pipelines caused by villagers poking into the pipes to draw off fuel. I guess it's still happening:
Yesterday’s explosion, at Ehor, in the Uhunmwode local government of Edo State, Vanguard gathered, was caused by vandalisation to the pipeline by people suspected to be illegal bunkerers. The explosion occurred at about noon. The victims were mainly youths of the community.

A tanker and equipment believed to belong to the bunkerers also got burnt.
Residents of Ehor told Vanguard that the bunkerers by-passed the security surveillance mounted by armed policemen at a checkpoint along the pipeline route and capitalised on alleged laxity of the policemen said to have mounted an illegal road block on the expressway.
The other explosions mentioned in this article, though, appear to have happened because
"...a suspected terror gang blew up a Shell pipeline at Agba Okwan Asarama in the Andoni local government area of Rivers State and another pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) caught fire in Delta State."

Why do I care about disasters in Nigeria? My sister works at the American University in Yola. Luckily, that's way out in Adamawa state, well away from any pipelines, as far as I know, and much less densely populated than Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. But someday I may get the wacky idea of visiting her. So I'm keeping tabs on what's going on in Nigeria. The "illegal road block on the expressway" has been noted and will influence any thoughts I may have had about taking a motor trip around West Africa!
Playing telephone?
Oxblog has a post about the silly NSA wiretapping "controversy" ginned up by the traitorous New York Times. The other commenters were barely beyond the Bushy Chimpy Mchitler stage:
Anybody who defends what Bush has been doing is a complete idiot or a fascist. There are no other explanations.
Ah, the level of discourse among the idiotarians! So I had an idea:

The NSA is listening to phone calls made by a suspected terrorist in Dubai. A connection is made and the conversation turns to a specific terrorist act planned for the US. Then, horrors! the listeners realize the other end of the conversation is a US phone number. Are the NSA supposed to stop, turn off the tap and run out to get a court order before continuing to listen? Get real.


Samizdata, as usual, has an interesting discussion on the growing use of public cameras in Britain:
Using a network of cameras that can automatically read every passing number plate, the plan is to build a huge database of vehicle movements so that the police and security services can analyse any journey a driver has made over several years.

Representative comments:
Ive been called paranoid - but sooner or later we will have no liberty at all. What really concerns me, is no one cares. Ive spoken to well educated informed people who have no idea about the laws introduced by phoney tony and bully blunkett or just dont care. "It for our own good" the masses cry.

Nearly time to make a choice, emigrate or stay and fight.......

Matt - the British public are supine. They really don't care. In fact, they'll be pleased that the government is taking care of them. The people who have the will to fight are very few and far between.

It is tragic that this government, instead of confronting the Islamic problem head on chooses to victimise and subjugate its other 58m citizens. Tony Blair's got a yellow streak as wide as his back.

Posted by Verity at December 22, 2005 01:12 PM

And now she gets right to the point, advocating (gasp!) dealing with the actual problem:
Instead of cowering and whimpering in corners like puppies who've been caught weeing on the carpet, the government needs to be seen to take control.

As a start, there should be an immediate fiat against wearing burqas in public places, like public buildings, libraries, banks, train stations and airports "for security purposes". Burqa clad women trying to enter those premises should be told firmly to remove their burqa or go away. (This suggestion comes from the magnificent Fjordman, whose blog closed down for good yesterday.)

And me:
Instead of putting wrongdoers into prisons, the PC state has decided to make the entire world a prison. One has to wonder if real, violent crime will be reduced. I'm even cynical enough to suggest that the data produced by these cameras will not be used by the government, since that would take effort and analytical skill, qualities not much in evidence in government functionaries. The main result will be to terrorize innocent citizens into obedience in all things. That would be reason enough for the nanny-staters to put a camera in everyone's nose. I mean, if you have nothing to hide ...
Zarqawi in Gaza?
Debka is speculating about Zarqawi's influence in Gaza:
Since early December, a branch of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al Qaeda in Iraq has been running a forward base in Gaza City preparatory to in-depth attacks in Israel, according to DEBKAfile’s exclusive counter-terror sources. It joins the Al Qaeda-Palestine cell established some weeks ago in the Gaza Strip.

It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people. That's what I would wish for the Palestinians if I were an Israeli - an influx of frustrated foreign homicidal thugs to compete with the home-grown homicidal thugs. You have to wonder if Netanyahu planted this story himself or had someone do it!
And Iraq and Jordan are undoubtedly thinking, "Don't let the door hit you in the butt, Zarq-man, on the way out! Have a merry Christmas!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nice new blog

Came upon this nice new (to me) blog (via the Big Pharaoh). Plenty of links to "Afro-Asian" blogs and news resources. Not spending so much time picking fights on Esmay's and Quick's sites is allowing me to find some good stuff out there:
"There is no way out," Tahar finally said after almost ten minutes of eating without speaking.

"No?" I was disappointed.

"No, it is everywhere. Look at Egypt and Iraq. They are all this way. I think we're going to have to accept it."

"Not necissarily," I started.

"Yes, necissarily," he snapped "What the Turks did will never work with Arabs."

I hadn't even thought of Attaturk.
(spelling as in original)
Now I want to go to Turkey even more. Got $12 in my Istanbul fund. Enough for a nice lunch - heck, maybe dinner - in a restaurant overlooking the Bosphorus.
Today's best

It's only 9AM, but this essay and comment thread may easily be the best of the day:
Today's Muslim regimes cannot win this war in the long term. Most of them are absurd governments of kings and princes or brutal generals whose idea of succession planning is primogeniture. (Kings?!? How often do we Americans, who institutionalized lèse-majesté, consider how idiotic a system monarchy really is?) These kings, princes, sheikhs and generals-for-life are clowns, and anybody who views any of them -- even the "moderate" ones -- as better than contemptible is seriously deranged. History is against them, and every thoughtful person in the world knows it. The question is, what will replace them? The jihadis are fighting to install a Caliphate and lower a dark curtain over a fifth of the world. The United States and its courageous allies are fighting to create room for modern democratic governments based on popular sovereignty.
Yeah, I hate clowns. Don't you?

I'm always a sucker for the power of ideas. Shakespeare would agree:
Caes.Let me have men about me that are fat. Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o'nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Ant.You need not fear him, Caesar. He's not dangerous. He is a noble Roman and well given.

Caes.Would he were fatter ...

So who's right here, eh? Old Julius, as always. What a political instinct! But he also saw the likes of Cassius had to be faced down. Question is, was Antony dissembling or did he really see no danger in Cassius? If so, he must have truly felt bad at the funeral oration: "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now!"

No tears for al Qaeda.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hallelujah! Free at last!

So after three years of fighting, the Sunnis finally give in and vote and what's the first thing they complain about? The
election was rigged (via Lucianne):
Sunni Arabs alleged Tuesday that last week's parliamentary elections were fraudulent, especially in Baghdad province, and they said if the irregularities are not corrected, new balloting must be held in Iraq's largest electoral district.

Who do they think they are, Democrats? Seriously, though, this is a great sign. As long as all the Sunnis do is whine about the results and resolve to do better next time, they can be considered to have learned one of the basic lessons of democracy: Karl Rove always wins. Wait a minute. Ramzi Clark is already over there. Can David Boies be far behind?
Double "yipe!" (at least)

The good old Scotsman has a scoop about super-Stalin and his super-apes:

According to Moscow newspapers, Stalin told the scientist: "I want a new invincible human being, insensitive to pain, resistant and indifferent about the quality of food they eat."

Hey, isn't that the definition of a Marine? (Full disclosure: I grew up as an AirForce brat)
All you ever wanted to know, courtesy of the blogosphere

This thread on Protein Wisdom exhibits the widest, deepest, most passionate and thorough consideration imaginable of the FISA/wiretap issue that's currently consuming the media(via Lucianne). Makes the NY Times look sick. Read the whole article and the whole thread, if you've got a spare hour or more. Teaser:
The Dems are putting themselves in a position just now to argue that what will no doubt be seen as legal technicalities—and those points are in dispute, even!—should have prevented him from taking steps necessary to protect the homeland, steps that DID in fact protect us. And by extension, they will be arguing that as a group they would have worried more about a contentious legal battle over a now unworkable statute (getting warrants on automated phone chains—which it is not clear were even legally necessary, provided the AG gave notice—would have been impossible) than they would have about taking bold actions to protect the country, knowing that we are indeed at war.

And it just gets better, on Professor Bainbridge:
You live in LaLa land. Why do you think this came out the day of the Iraqi elections and just before the writer is to publish a book?

Always jump to conclusions based upon disgruntled ex somebody's rants.

Do you do any research before pontificating.

Somebody's doing some research:
Professor B. apparently thinks that the Constitution requires a warrant for snooping on suspected terrorists. The 4th Amendment that Madison urged us to ratify contains no such requirement. The document merely requires that all searches and seizures be "reasonable." All sorts of searches and seizures take place without a warrant, including the search of autos, the seizure of suspected felons, searches incident to a lawful arrest (whether or not the arrest was supported by a warrant), various searches of business purusant to a regulatory scheme, the seizure of someone who commits a misdemeanor in an officer's presence. Indeed, one recent article estimates that there are two dozen different categories of searches and seizures that can proceed without a warrant.

If the local sheriff can arrest someone he spots shoplifting without a warrant, and then search his person incident to that arrest, without a warrant, why does it violate our liberties for the NSA to monitor a phone call between two suspected terrorists who just happen to be in the USA?

Just wondering . . .
Justice Powell's dicta contravenes the actual language of the 4th Amendment, precendent, historical and current practice. And, Powell himself ignored it numerous times.

1) The language of the 4th Amendment simply forbids "unreasonable searches" and says that, if you want a warrant you need probable cause. It does not require a warrant or probable cause before a search or seizure. Is there new language out there I am not aware of?

2) The Supreme Court has described 2 dozen situations in which no warrant is required for a search or seizure including very large categories like arrests for felonies and searches of automobiles. So far as I know, Justice Powell supported all of these decisions. These searches and seizures are valid even if it is practical/easy for the officer to obtain a warrant.

3) In 1789, the same Congress that wrote and proposed the Bill of Rights authorized warrantless searches of ships. James Madison signed legislation in 1815 that authorized warrantless searches of vessels, beasts, and persons.
Since the beginning, police have arrested and searched suspected felons without a warrant. Today the police can arrest a suspected felon, search his effects and put him in jail for 48 hours without seeking a probable cause determination from a magistrate. This is a very large intrusion, and no warrant is required, even if the police could easily get one. Ditto for searches of your car, boat, or mobil home.

4) The state interest in detecting terrorist activities BEFORE they come to fruition is much stronger than the interest in, say, detecting illegal drugs, the latter of which Justice Powell called "compelling" in US v. Mendenhall. Plus, the intrusion of, say, a wiretap may be far less than the intrusion of an arrest and search incident to it, plus the 48 hour incarceration that the law allows. A fortiori, then, a warrantless wiretap of someone suspected of conspiring with Al Qaeda seems quite reasonable.

5) The preference for a warrant may be alive and well in Law School Classrooms. But, Akhil Amar debunked it as a historical matter long ago, as have others. Plus there is the pesky constitutional text, which militates against such a presumption. Ivory tower fulminations against warrantless this or that, even in opinions by Justice Powell, are not up to the task of determining what is reasonable and thus Constitutional when agents of foreign adversaries are in your country plotting to kill your fellow citizens.

6) If there really is a warrant requirement, I guess we'll have to get rid of metal detectors a

PB's thread is much more civil, but just as informative and hard-fought as Goldstein's. Why choose? Read both.
It's hotting up

The comment thread on this post about the appropriate ways of dealing with Islamic jihadists in Western countries is getting hot:
Sorry, but it is a muslim problem. These young muslims are raised separately from the mainstream australian community in male dominated families and get their life lessons in the mosques, run on islamic principles. They are bred on hatred, particularly against jews and the united states. As a result they are trained to view the egalitarian, open democracy that is Australia as an evil, non-islamic place inhabited by jews and anglo scum.
t would appear that nearly all of Tony Blair's much trumpeted proposals to combat terrorism in the UK have now been abandoned or watered down.

The latest to go is the requirement for foreign born imams to take a "Britishness test".

And the inimitable Verity:

I think it is time to hire a fleet of 747s and shovel these people on board. As a first step, there should be a lock-down on all mosques. The problem is Islam and this has to be acknowledged...It is not racism. It is Islam.

So I just had to pile on. Hope I contributed something:
If deporting violent criminals - no matter what passports they hold - is not Libertarian, I guess that explains why I am not a Libertarian. Anyone who joins a violent deadly conspiracy against a culture should not be able to rely on that culture's protecting him. If that conspiracy promotes the dominance of a culture foreign both geographically and ideologically to an existing nation's culture, what more appropriate punishment than deporting the conspirators to the homeland of their death cult? Lincoln said, "Democracy is not a suicide pact". Neither is rationalism.

And yet more

I just can't keep my opinions to myself:
As for me, I'm not a libertarian wingnut, I'm an objectivist wingnut. I favor immigration controls when necessary to keep a society that safeguards some aspects of freedom from degenerating into one that protects none. I don't think of Islam as immediately and fatally toxic to all who come into contact with it, but that doesn't mean those who do succumb shouldn't be put out of the way one way or the other and the British justice system, from what I know of it, cannot and will not do that job.

Maybe a new determinant of the onset of Alzheimer's disease will be whether you can tell whether a blog comment is off topic or not. I can't decide whether this:
Charles Murray agonized over this question in The Bell Curve. Using IQ as a determinant of educational placement pulled high-IQ individuals out of low-IQ groups such as minorities. High-IQ minorities, therefore, no longer met and married lower-IQ co-ethnics. The ghettoes and farms and "hollers" have been emptied of those capable of achievement. They find their way to walled suburbs and university towns. Ethnic groups are left to compete with desperate illegal aliens for the low-IQ jobs. No one has yet come up with an effective way of addressing this problem while allowing high-achievers to achieve.

is off topic as a comment to this post:
Most Americans still believe that their country offers more opportunities for economic success and advancement than any other country on earth. They are convinced that American society is a basically free and meritorious one, which judges everyone according to his individual ability and rewards him for his accomplishments...

The benefits of inequality
Unequal ability, whether innate or acquired, tends to lead to great differences in personal income and social position in every kind of economic system and social order. In a market order, men and women who render valuable services to consumers are rewarded accordingly; others with lesser ability and diligence who render mediocre services earn and receive less...

Academic analyses now show that it is increasingly difficult to rise from rags to riches. Some studies reveal, for instance, that fewer and fewer families in the bottom fifth of the population (as ranked by income and social status) can make it up the ladder. Nearly 70 percent remain either at the same level or even do worse than their forebears; similarly, many in the second-poorest fifth stay put in their class. While all such studies readily agree on growing social immobility, they may differ on the causes of such a development.

Relevant? Only perhaps in that the author appears to think that the rich are shutting the poor out completely, while I and Murray agree that the poor can still rise to the top if they have the right intelligence in their genes. And I would agree with the author that rising to the top is becoming less common, but only because the genes that correlate with intelligence are becoming less common among the poor. And, I would add, a high level of raw intelligence is becoming more and more important, not just as a status determinative, but as a necessity for real achievement on merit.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Old hat - but yipes! again

I know the Diana Hsieh discussions about The Objectivist Center versus the Ayn Rand Institute have been around for a while, but I hadn't been interested in wading through the whole thing. Now, perhaps thanks to Esmay and Quick, I felt like taking the time and am finding some rather entertaining material. For instance, Diana tells it like she thinks it is to Nathaniel and Barbara Branden:
Together, you two have done more damage to the cause of Objectivism than I ever imagined possible. I regret that it took me so long to see that. But now that I do, I will certainly not help you do any more damage. I want nothing to do with either of you.

I sometimes poke fun at the whole Kelley/Peikoff split as similar to medieval theologians debating the size of angels, and bring in the Monty Python (Holy Grail?) dialogue about the splittist Judean Liberation Front and Popular Front for the Liberation of Judea. But I know there are real issues. One can't constantly mock. Reality is real, most of the time.
Over the top

I've always enjoyed The Amazing Randi's website. I sent him an email about some things I'd like to get his opinions on:
Dear Mr. Randi:

I enjoyed your commentary as usual this week. I was struck by one statement, however:

There are no “different interpretations” involved; calling astrology a science is like saying that a barber is a surgeon, or that a chimpanzee at a typewriter is a journalist.

I've known some journalists personally. I would be hard put to it in some cases to distinguish them significantly from chimpanzees, especially when at their typewriters!
I'm sure Mencken would have agreed.

I wondered - are you ever concerned that you will meet your match in the conjuring department? That is, someone will sign up for the Randi Challenge and work an illusion to such effect that he defeats your precautions and you will be forced to hand over the million dollars, even though you just know it was a trick. This would be a catastrophe for scientific skepticism. But I guess you just love to live on the edge!

Speaking of monkeys, was it on your site that I saw the quote from Larry King to the effect that, "Hey, if evolution is real, how come there are still monkeys?" That's a favorite.

Keep up the good work. God bless!

Robert Speirs

I guess the "God Bless" was over the top, him being a Bright and all. So even though I meant it sarcastically or sardonically or whatever definition it falls under, he probably will think I'm trying to tweak his nose and am really a Xtian. At any rate, he hasn't yet replied.
At it again

OK, I can't resist. I'm harassing bloggers again, especially this Brad fellow, who, even though he has a few good ideas, thinks he's much smarter than he is:

Major retail chains Target, Wal-Mart and others announced today they will end the so-called war on white people that had resulted in most stores posting signs welcoming “shoppers” or “customers” instead of “white patrons”, even though white people represented a considerable majority of their business.
Ha flipping ha!

So I had to get in on the act:
A better example would be: On May 31, the stores decide to have a "Spring Holiday" sale, not mentioning that the relevant holiday, the reason for the long weekend, is Memorial Day, because, after all, some people are against the military, some people have relatives who have been killed by the US military and every ethnicity has a spring festival of some kind. We don't even get any time off for Easter any more.

It's Newspeak to say "Happy Holiday" without mentioning the reason for the holiday. You can say "Happy Holiday" on any holiday year-round and "Season's Greetings" in any season. The minor festival Chanukah and the non-existent Kwanzaa would not have given anyone a reason to take time off and celebrate if it hadn't been for Christmas. Ramadan of course rotates around the year. Anyone ever say, "Happy rotating Lunar Holiday" to a Muslim? Even (especially) in Muslim lands? It reminds me of the use of "BCE" instead of "B.C.". Can't mention Christ! Have to say "Before the Common Era". Which leaves unanswered the questions, "Why exactly is this computation used? Why is this Era Common?" No wonder kids are confused.
Verity again

Verity on Samizdata is on the warpath again about the Conservatives' failure of nerve on the EU issue. She welcomes another commenter to the topic:

Tomahawk - I personally love your logic, which I am sure will be appreciated by other Samizdatas when they get up in the morning and have a giggle with their cup of tea. It's some time since we've had some knock-about comedy around here.

And she does go on with this comment. Much more entertaining than DailyPundit or Dean Esmay!


Checking back on the above thread, all I can say is, "Yipe!!" Tomahawk is getting scalped. Glad I didn't toss in my two cents. But Verity did say on another thread she liked my idea about compensating suicide bomber victims by holding their families responsible:
I do like the idea of the families of suicide nitwits having to compensate the victims, and it is an idea with which they themselves should feel perfectly comfortable as the concept of blood money is mother's milk to them. My own preference, which I doubt would find favour with Tony Blair, would be putting to death the mother or father of each suicide murderer. After all, they brought him up in this vile cult.

I feel great!
I don't care

More and more, I just don't care what other people think, especially on blogs. I don't get a sense of "belonging" or reinforcement from commenting on a blog, or writing one for that matter. It's just a matter of getting closer to the truth. And very many people have no good grasp on reality at all. I just finished reading The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. It challenges many of my long-held beliefs about the superiority of individual intelligence over that of the collective. But it makes sense. And it's intelligently qualified. I hope to derive from it some better conception of why democracy works so well, when an individual's vote matters not at all to the general result. It contains support for the market view of policy but also stresses that the conditions of a collective decision have to be set by decisions a collective cannot necessarily make.

More here
Banned or not?

I appear to have been banned from commenting on Dean Esmay's blog. But it could just be his comments function is messed up. I have been arguing vehemently for consideration of the Turkish position on the Armenian massacre question. I just can't stand it when people won't even listen to facts they don't like to hear.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pali moaning
On Captain's Quarters, Palestinians come in for ritual condemnation on the occasion of their voting for Hamas:
Besides, the Palestinians have made themselves clear in their reasonably free and open elections: they want war and support terrorism. Not only have they consistently voted in favor of the most reliably anti-Israel faction, the lack of a counterbalancing "peace" party makes it clear that Palestinians have no interest in peaceful co-existence with Israel. They have repeatedly chosen the no-negotiation platform of Hamas over that of the Abbas approach, which at least keeps the door open to a negotiated end to hostilities.

So I couldn't resist jumping in with both feet:
So one might say it's not Hamas stirring up the Palestinians, but the Palestinians stirring up Hamas. Now that Arafat's not around to put a "moderate, peace-loving face"(!!??) on Palestinian "nationalism", maybe its true death-cult nature will shine through. Wish I had a little more faith in Netanyahu's insight and leadership ability. Oh well, at least it looks like the accommodationist Sharon is out of the picture.
Interesting how the views of Sharon and Arafat have changed so quickly, for those who couldn't see straight to begin with!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Now THIS is a judge!

He is so NOT Harriet Miers:
What counts in mixology is the "original understanding" of the martini's essence by those who first consumed it. The essence remains unaltered but allows proportions to evolve as circumstances change.

I would trust Scalia and Bork with a cocktail shaker. Roberts ... ? And don't let Souter anywhere near it. Some NewHampshireman he is! (HT: vodkapundit)
I'm in love

I've been reading for quite a while now. I've always admired Verity's plucky, articulate comments. But on this post she outdoes herself:

"ineluctably plump and corrupt". An excellent phrase, which I am going to apply to Cherie Blair.

I wonder whether she's ever paid all the Customs duty she owes from having walked through the Green Channel with gifts worth thousands of pounds? Probably not. Paying duty is for the little people.

Posted by Verity at December 14, 2005 03:58 PM

Be still my heart! When's the next plane leave Tallahassee for Britain?

Indeed he has, Ron Brick. But when is blow-back time for Blair? I find it astounding that he has got away with this pandering dhimmitude for so long. Of course, he is very frightened and he is a coward. But surely at some point, even the passive British are going to call him on it. He's not even as bold as France's Sarkov, who shouted at the rioters that they are the "scum of the earth". And Bliar, supposedly a leader, can't bring himself to condemn mass murderers of his countrymen.

Anyway, Bliar is not a real leader. He is an actor playing the role. He's contemptible.
"Bliar"! Ha!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Winter noon in Tallahassee

Beautiful cold blue day downtown. It's hot and muggy for so much of the year that I love to try and tuck these days away in my memory and unpack them in the summer. The Capitol building is in a plaza that always channels the wind. So it feels like Boston for at least a few weeks. I used to walk around the Common and over to Faneuil Hall on my lunch hour when I worked in Boston, so I have some coldness to compare this to! The sky is wonderfully blue here though, which you couldn't be sure of in Boston. There's really nothing like Florida in winter. It's a bit disconcerting to come around a corner with the wind blowing and your hands freezing and see a palm tree.
Apple - my eye!
I got a Mac mini a bit ago. Thought I was going to be able to get dial-up service for it, then discovered - because I bought the HIGHER-priced model - that it didn't come with a dial-up modem. So, I thought, no problem. Just get this, right? Well, it's on order but I'm not very good at waiting patiently for things to arrive, especially at Christmas, so I'm a bit sore at Apple - would like to chew them out, so to speak! Seems like forever. It would be nice to be able to blog from my new extremely small high-tech computer. And I will NOT deal with Comcast. I've read more books since I started relying entirely on over-the-air broadcast TV. Luckily it's the football season. I can overdose on TV on Sunday and Monday and coast through the week. This is the magic week when they start having NFL games on Saturday as well, since the college regular season is over and the bowls haven't quite started yet. I will watch golf, but that's about the limit of my TV watching. I have two seasons of Rumpole of the Bailey on DVD, so that's how my idiot box is going to be employed for a while. Say, I wonder - in all those surveys that show how many hours a week people watch TV - does that count recorded TV as well as broadcast? What if I just watched Rumpole on my Mac mini? Does that count? Get some use out of it while waiting for my modem.
Tookie de-funked

Finally, justice after 26 years of dubbing around:

Despite persistent pleas for mercy from around the globe, the governor earlier in the day had said Williams was unworthy of clemency because he had not admitted his brutal shotgun murders of four people during two robberies 26 years ago.
After the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request for a last-minute stay Monday evening, the co-founder of the infamous Crips street gang — who insisted he was innocent of the murders — became the 12th man executed by the state of California since voters reinstated capital punishment in 1978.

Also, note to Joan Baez: you were thrilling in 1964. Now shut up. We don't need no stinking multiple personalities neither.
Talking Turkey
Perry de Havilland went to Turkey. So he just had to pontificate about the EU question:
Spending a few days in Turkey and reading their newspapers makes it very clear that the Kemal Ataturk's vision of a modernising, secular Turkish republic is still very much an ongoing battle. It should also be noted that very few secular Turks seem to be anti-Muslim, they are just pro-secular and as the overwhelming majority of people in Turkey are indeed Muslim (at least nominally), that the whole structure of politics are avowedly secular makes Turkey the front-line on the struggle against Islamist governance.

I of course have strong opinions about the Armenian genocide and the dilemmas of democratic delusion:
The many European delusions about Turkey, including the Armenian "genocide" questions and the pure innocence of the Kurdish terrorists and the peace-loving orientation of the Greeks with respect to Cyprus, do not bode well for easy or even possible Turkish entry into the EU. And that may not be a bad thing. Security and secular Ataturkism are more important than suicidal democracy, at least right now. And what is the actual benefit to Turkey of jumping aboard the sinking European ship? In ten years this will be even more obvious. Taiwan, South Korea, Kuwait, even Singapore, have managed to move toward civil or at least economic freedom while dominated by dictators. I believe Turkey will increasingly look toward the US rather than Europe.

Of course it would be better if Turkey could become democratic and capitalist and secular overnight. Hey, I really need to go there and check out the possibilities. But the way my Istanbul fund is going it may be a few years. Perhaps just in time to see the ceremonies celebrating admission into the EU. E-uwww!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tookie apparently will shortly be an ex-Tookie. The sad part is that he lived so long after his crimes deprived four other people of their full lives. But at least his death will expose the liberal morons who don't think murder is important enough to deal with:
The impending execution has mobilized death penalty opponents and drew pleas for his life from prominent figures such as South Africa's Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Funny Winnie ex-Mandela and murder coming up in the same connection. Wasn't there a connection before, about Stompie Seipei, a child she had murdered? That's the problem with the left. They have no sense of history. And that's also sad.
Christian equality?

Interesting article here stimulated me to think a bit. Rodney Stark attempts to explode the myth that science and capitalism arose only with the Renaissance and Reformation:
It was during the so-called Dark Ages that European technology and science overtook and surpassed the rest of the world. Some of that involved original inventions and discoveries; some of it came from Asia. But what was so remarkable was the way that the full capacities of new technologies were recognized and widely adopted. By the 10th century Europe already was far ahead in terms of farming equipment and techniques, had unmatched capacities in the use of water and wind power, and possessed superior military equipment and tactics. Not to be overlooked in all that medieval progress was the invention of a whole new way to organize and operate commerce and industry: capitalism.

...But, if one digs deeper, it becomes clear that the truly fundamental basis not only for capitalism, but for the rise of the West, was an extraordinary faith in reason.

The church, according to Stark, allowed entrepreneurial capitalism to develop when secular despotism would not have tolerated it. Why was that, though? Not having read Stark's book, I can only guess what he would say. But it strikes me that Church hierarchies were generally not based on blood inheritance, despite the Borgias. Could it be they were based on intelligence? Innovative scholarly interpretations of the Scriptures would perhaps have been a good way to rise in the hierarchy of the Church, at least in some environments. And the leaders who were good at theology may also have been good businessmen. In short, they may have been more intelligent. So perhaps the Church system selected for IQ. An emphasis on reason and self-help might be very useful in keeping capitalism alive in a time of serfdom and constant war. The international Church organization would also be able, to some degree, to protect its members from suffering from the constant warfare characteristic of the medieval world. Of course, too much tolerance of intelligent speculation could also lead to problems, such as heresies and men like, oh, Martin Luther. I may even be interested enough in this topic to buy Stark's book. I wonder if he says anything about the Jews, speaking of intelligence

Realized yesterday, watching all the ridiculous commercials on the football games, that people were always trying to make me feel a certain way. That's how they sell food and cars and beer. Eat this, you'll feel better. Drive this car. You'll feel like an astronaut chick-magnet. Drink this beer. All your troubles will disappear. Hey, it's not true. I've got my pickup in the driveway (and my non-functional Peugeot 505) and some Beefeaters left in the freezer. But finally, at the age of 57, I've realized that the truck, even the Peugeot or, more surprisingly, the Beefeaters won't really make me feel better. Not reliably. In fact, I have no way, none at all of changing the way I feel to a better way. I am completely dependent on chance. And you know what? That's OK. I'll just go on in my usual way, going to work, cleaning the house, visiting my family, watching football. Whatever happens will happen.
Things can make me feel worse. Too much Beefeaters or too little sleep will, reliably, make me feel awful. But I no longer confuse myself by thinking that by my own efforts I can make things better for me. And you know what? It's an enormous relief.
It's over!

Powerline says it:

...the Iraq war most likely will turn out to be a big victory for the U.S. and the Bush administration.

so it must be true. I've been thinking this way for quite a while now. So just what will the Dems use for an issue in 2006? Not to mention 2008? Hint: it ain't this:
"There is a hunger in America, a hunger for a sense of national community, a hunger for something big and important and inspirational that they all can be involved in," [Senator John] Edwards, the party's 2004 vice presidential nominee, told delegates at a weekend convention of Florida Democrats.

"Americans don't want to believe that they are out there on an island all alone," the former North Carolina senator said.

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean has commissioned confidential polling and analysis that suggest candidates in 2006 and 2008 should frame their policies — and attacks on Republicans — around the context of community.

It seems to be the emerging message from a party that has been bereft of one."
Yep. That's just what Americans want to hear. "You can be part of something bigger than yourself. You don't really count for anything by yourself, anyway, do you, punk?!! So join us or die." Real winner, that.

Can Dems somehow sneak around to the other side of the immigration issue? Donald Collins on VDARE thinks not:
But Dean then goes on to say

"’In 2006, it's going to be immigration; that's who he's (Bush) going to scapegoat next.’ He said Democrats must favor tougher enforcement of existing immigration laws and provide tighter border security, but said a balanced immigration policy would provide a way to give many of the 11 million illegal immigrants a path to legal status."

And that runs into the iron law of political life that has emerged recently: Howard Dean is ALWAYS WRONG!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Beyond Desperate
Dave Sheffield over at has this terribly amusing and comprehensive column about David Cameron and the state of the Conservative Party in Britain. Representative quotes:
"Mr Duncan-Smith, a nice man with the charisma of a stoat, was finally bushwhacked a few years later in a desperate attempt to elect someone combative enough to make election broadcasts that people would find traditionally offensive."

"The gist of this is, that no sooner would Major say anything than the Party at large would make him look an utter fool. They could have saved themselves the effort and bought him a mirror, which was all that was required. Thought to be the only person ever to run away from the circus to become a banker, Major was known to have failed an exam to become a bus conductor earlier in life."

"William Hague has returned from the desert to be Foreign Secretary. After Losing with a capital L in 2001, he has grown up and become an adult, acquiring the essential British skills of Not Taking Himself Seriously, and Appearing On Lightweight TV Shows."
If only US politics could be so colorfully described! You won't regret reading the whole thing.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Iraq and America

Wretchard on Belmont Club has a great post on the changing political and military perceptions in Iraq:
For America as a whole, one thing that no politician will dispute in 2008 is that aside from being a European and Pacific power -- which it has been since the end of the Second World War -- the US is now a part of the strategic landscape of the Middle East and Central Asia.
I believe there's something truly historic going on here, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago. So I boiled down my view to the simplest comment I could restrict myself to:
The US has been the dominant power in the Middle East since the Suez crisis of 1956-7. Until now, however, we have not acted dominant. The great danger is that we will walk away after Iraqi stabilization and allow chaos to well up again. Capitalism, democracy and secularism must have the opportunity to take root and flourish in Islamic lands. Otherwise we face more decades of intifada and international jihad.
I am optimistic that the influence of the US will eventually be seen as both benign and inevitable. And in the fullness of time the Arabs will come to the conclusion that their liberation was also inevitable and start to take credit and responsibility for it themselves. Then maybe we can start on Europe ...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Oh, I won't say, "most erudite thread ever", but it's sure got some substance about the search for this quotation:
"The Hour [Resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and kill them. And the Jews will hide behind the rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!"

Jody gets it and appears to nail it down in a further comment:

First, that USC site I cited above for the hadith oddly returns an error (some database search error) when searching for "Jew and tree" or "Jew and rock". However, works fine for "Jew" (returns too many verses to work through) and correctly returns nothing if I search for "blah".

This may be nothing, but I find it odd...

Second, that hadith gets such wide play because a Palestinian iman recited it over the air.

Third, while you are correct in your reporting of the relative valuation of the hadiths and the Koran, for the particular hadith I quoted (Muslim) , wiki has the following to say "al-Bukhari and Muslim are usually considered the most reliable of these collections"

So this isn't some throw away line, it's actually a "reliable" part of Islam.

It's not exactly "instant expertise" but certainly gives an idea of how easily formerly recondite topics can be discussed substantively with all the amazing tools we now have at our disposal. You can tell some of the commenters are far more committed to religion than others. Yet the discussion doesn't degenerate into name-calling or the burning of heretics.
Foley out!

Only those who have never had a Foley in can know the glory and wonder of having a Foley out. Sleep, beautiful sleep!

Mark Steyn is stealing my ideas again. I can't understand people who don't see the historic magic that Bush's policies are forging (can one "forge magic"?? Hmm.) in the Middle East. The implications and ramifications multiply amazingly. Not to mention we get a trained and hardened anti-insurgency force out of the deal. The next terrorist thinking of flying an airplane into an American building must ask himself, "OK, so what's going to happen as a result of this?" And if the answer is that hundreds of thousands of battle-hardened troops descend on any country you have connections with, it may not look like so much of a good idea.

Speaking of planes crashing into buildings, this incident raises my eyebrows. I guess we should be thankful they didn't try to blame fundamentalist Christian terrorists. No Gregorian chants or shouts of "Thank you, Jesus!!" before the impact. Or if there were they aren't telling.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


From Protein Wisdom, Conundrum presents:The incoherent Democratic message. Now that's comedy for the third millennium.

-Pedestrian in a time of Hovercars

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

He's still an objectivist
Alan Greenspan made an interesting speech on Columbus Day(via Michael Barone's econoblog):
We weathered a decline on October 19, 1987, of a fifth of the market value of U.S. equities with little evidence of subsequent macroeconomic stress--an episode that hinted at a change in adjustment dynamics. The credit crunch of the early 1990s and the bursting of the stock market bubble in 2000 were absorbed with the shallowest recessions in the post-World War II period. And the economic fallout from the tragic events of September 11, 2001, was moderated by market forces, with severe economic weakness evident for only a few weeks. Most recently, the flexibility of our market-driven economy has allowed us, thus far, to weather reasonably well the steep rise in spot and futures prices for oil and natural gas that we have experienced over the past two years. The consequence has been a far more stable economy.
Perhaps he's resigned to government intervention as a fact of life rather than a positive influence, but he's still got the old analysis going, with a nod to deregulation:
Starting in the 1970s, U.S. Presidents, supported by bipartisan majorities in the Congress, responded to the growing recognition of the distortions created by regulation, by deregulating large segments of the transportation, communications, energy, and financial services industries. The stated purpose of this deregulation was to enhance competition, which had come to be seen as a significant spur to productivity growth and elevated standards of living. Assisting in the dismantling of economic restraints was the persistent, albeit slow, lowering of barriers to cross-border trade and finance.
I wonder what Peikoff thought?
I don't seem to be able to get a comment to work on this post on Social Affairs Unit, but in response to this thought:
But the emotional climate that is happiness is not necessarily attractive. One reason for this is that happiness goes with a sense of completion; a sense of the end of struggle, of equilibrium, and the calm of a "happy ending". The Enlightenment was obviously drawn to calm and equilibrium, and it is not surprising that they made a cult of happiness. But the Romantic revolution had quite a different set of attractions. And we remain their heirs. Does everyone want a happy ending?

this is what I would say:
Perhaps happiness, undefined as it will probably ever remain, is not as important as the avoidance of unhappinesses - death, sickness, hunger, boredom, bad movies. Wealth allows one to avoid the most obvious and generally agreed-on unhappiness. Education, only possible through the possession of some wealth, allows one to avoid boredom and the feeling that other people know something you don't. For instance, I've always thought it must be intensely boring not to be able to read. But reading does not necessarily bring happiness. Stimulation, perhaps, but hardly cow-like contentment (Sorry, Elsie!) How pleasant the world seems when one is cut off from the daily deluge of small and large unhappinesses called the "news". But how colorless.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ooh, car arson!

OK, Thanksgiving's over. Back to double-dipping comments and blogging. Eric Raymond, despite his oh-so-shameless self-promotion, had a good post on the car fires in France:
Yes, you read that correctly. 98 car-torchings a night is “normal” in the glorious Fifth Republic in 2005. Civil order in the banlieus has collapsed, but instead of addressing the breakdown the French response is to define it out of existence. (In other breaking news, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ol’ George Orwell is spinning in his grave.)
. Some of the other commenters were saying that a lot of these cars might be people having their cars burned for insurance reimbursements, which I believe is the favorite - perhaps the only - pastime of those who live in Lawrence, Massachusetts. This theory didn't seem to hold water for yours truly:
The phrase “98 cars torched” would seem to exclude the idea that owners were purposely burning cars for insurance purposes. So apples and oranges. Is it simplistic to assume that the previous totals of cars burned during the riots, by masked rioters, in defiance of the police, for rage-related purposes, excluded those burned by or on the orders of their owners for insurance reimbursements? Unless some sharp entrepreneurial arsonist had the happy thought, “Hey, I don’t have to take on the risk of burning these cars on my “to-do list” myself. I’ll just park them in front of Stalinist-looking apartment blocks and wait for darkness and riotousness!” ‘Tis an ill wind…
Hey, I might actually have home internet service today, dialup only. And I got the phone line without giving out my D/L number or SS #(I never did like the Stutz Staffeln, anyway). Thank you JJ Luna!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Darn islands again

A while ago I did this weekly search around the world by Google to find odd little islands. So I had to notice this. Somehow it popped up in my search for the real Yola in Nigeria. Google Earth keeps taking me to one Yola when I know the one where my sister lives is across the country from there. But these little sub-Antarctic islands don't have one thing Nigeria has:

Heard Island - 80% ice-covered, bleak and mountainous, dominated by a large massif (Big Ben) and an active volcano (Mawson Peak); McDonald Islands - small and rocky


I noticed one thing: 0% arable land. Now if only global warming were true, that might change. The place might become a desirable vacation spot, with bathing beauties.

P.S. What does one make of this statement:
Legal system:

the laws of Australia, where applicable, apply
The thread kept a rollin' all night long

I've posted a 2nd comment to this post from yesterday:
Excellent thread, except for the Cheney Derangement Syndrome rant. As to IQ, it might be interesting to see what the facts are about immigration worldwide. It may be that most countries allow immigration of higher-IQ individuals and bar those with a lower average IQ than that of their own citizens. Charles Murray and Steve Sailer would doubtless have some ideas on this.
Again, I don't know how much good it does to toss in a comment 63 thoughts downstream, but at least it keeps me thinking. Now there's a project, for after my divorce is final and I get a business running = do a worldwide immigration analysis.
Full of galloping
Fighting corruption in Nigeria must always have seemed like trying to sweep back the tides with a toothbrush. But this article at least gives one hope:
But moments after judgment, Balogun, in an emotion-laden voice said: “I will serve the jail term. I will serve it. But all I know is that the permanent feature of life is that it is full of galloping. It is full of ups and downs, downs and ups. At a time, I was up the ladder. Now, it is the reverse. But I will bounce back. Hun..hun.. I say I will definitely bounce back.”
How many French former Inspectors-General of Police have ever been investigated, much less jailed, for corruption? And there's Vladimir Putin the head of Russia. Didn't he at one time have something to do with The Committee for State Security (KGB to some of us)? I guess he just bounced back.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Maybe it's silly to put a comment in a thread with hundreds of comments. Who's going to care? I've noticed that the longer threads get the less relevant to the original post the comments become, because commenters start addressing each others' arguments and forget what the heck the original post was about anyway. And heaven forbid anyone should actually read the article that the post linked to. But this thread (which I found via Gene Expression) appears to be an exception. Everyone's staying pretty much on topic, which was:
Are you OK with the fact that the U.S.'s population is growing much, much faster than it would without illegal immigration? Are you cool with the fact that the country's ethnic makeup is undergoing a drastic re-ordering? I'd be a much happier man than I am if I heard these questions being argued about openly. Hence my determination to continue raising these topics despite the risk of appearing to be a monomaniac. Let it never be said that it's possible to visit 2Blowhards without encountering the topic of migrations and immigration!

So I inserted my anecdotal two cents' worth:
If "open borders" and massive uncontrolled alien flows are good ideas, why doesn't Mexico have such a policy? Do they let any Guatemalan come in who wants to? I don't think so. Or any other country? If even illegal immigrants really contribute, many countries should not just be welcoming them but seeking them out. That doesn't happen. I was in Cairo in 2000 and remember my sister remarking on how many poor Ethiopians were trying to immigrate to Egypt. The Egyptian police would conduct massive sweeps late at night for illegals and deport them all immediately. Once again, the US is the sucker.
I really should look up all the immigration laws of the world that are available on the Net and find out if I'm right about all this. And I am aware that Australia periodically launches campaigns to get skilled workers and high producers to come to Oz. But that's not really relevant to the kind of illegal immigration and the sins of omission with regard to dealing with it that the US is experiencing today.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Ooh, Bill Quick is mad! I'm sooo scared!

All right, I know I'm acting like an idiot, but Quick won't even listen(see comments) to the facts about AIDS. He's got his facts and won't accept any argument. Some people have hot buttons and this is definitely one of them, like ID. I can't imagine being in that situation, though. Not even wanting to hear the basic arguments on a topic. I don't ever, ever want to hear anybody defend such a state of mind. And especially not you, Bill Quick! Hey, he could do like Esmay and write a book.
Bribery is a positive step

Bill Quick still doesn't think that Mideasterners can ever participate in a meaningful election:
The Big Pharaoh says that in Egypt, the current elections are a matter of mammon or Allah. Yet another reason why I think western notions of democracy will experience hard going in the entrenched medieval cultures of the middle east.
I assert that at least that day is closer:
The only important result of an election, of course, is how people feel about it. I think the fact that people will vote for 500LE shows there isn't that much determined and principled opposition to democracy in Egypt. If potential voters don't feel strongly enough that elections are evil and anti-Islamic to reject the payments, that gives those in favor of democracy some hope. It also shows how ineffective anti-voting terror has been - or maybe how the other side isn't willing to pay enough to get people NOT to vote.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Why does it seem to me these days I'm making the same points I've made many times before? Hey, wait a minute, didn't I say that before? Well, anyway, Bill Quick opined at some length about patriotism:
Patriotism isn't, or at least it shouldn't be, "My country right or wrong." If your country is wrong, you should work to fix the problem. But it is "My country..." first and foremost. Unfortunately, to observe the efforts of those of the antiwar left - most of them Democrats, even Democrats in high office, sad to say - to peddle lies about how we came to invade Iraq, lies about their own roles in supporting that invasion, and lies about the intelligence they themselves placed full credence in at the time - for the sole purpose of advancing their own political power - is to watch men and women who have forgotten about the well-being and safety of their country, who have forgotten that "My country" is "Their country" as well, who have forgotten what it means to be a patriot.

So I had to toss in a somewhat prissy-sounding reservation:
I don't regard patriotism as a good thing unless the country you are being patriotic about is a good country. I support America's actions in the war on terror because I believe they are right, not because they are America's. I don't support the war on drugs, even though it is official policy and probably supported by a majority of Americans, because I believe it's wrong, morally and practically. So what bothers me about the Dems' insanity is not the patriotism aspect, but their lack of good judgment.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New/Old Mexico
Bill Quick worries about Latino irredentism:

Would Congress or a Republican administration ever endorse irredentism? The White House and elements of congress already have. The disastrous Akaka Bill aims at creating a race-based, sovereign, territorially-endowed entity in Hawaii, and its precedent would threaten the mainland's cohesiveness. That Akaka stands a real chance of being enacted is proof Americans need to get a two-handed grip on Washington before the White House and Congress wreck our nation.

So I come up with a constructive if somewhat snarky suggestion:
Just as an experiment, we should give New Mexico, say, to the Mexican government and let them run it for a while. Most of the Anglos would leave immediately, but it wouldn't be long before Latinos would be flooding into Colorado, Arizona, even California because of the "economic conditions" in New/Old Mexico. At least the point would be made that it ain't not having enough land that keeps Mexico poor.
I've made this suggestion, only half-heartedly, before, and probably will again. The problem would be that the Mexicanos would say we didn't give them the right kind of land or everything was non-metric or it rained too little or some darn thing. But as a gedenkenexperiment it makes a point.
Froze-o Bozo

Eric Raymond thinks that "commons" language is disgusting, or at least vaguely icky:

My problem with the language of “the commons” is that to me it it sounds, at best, like idealistic blather. At worst, and far more usually, it sounds like an attempt to conceal all kinds of individual decisions about cooperation under a vague collectivist metaphor so the individuals who made those decisions can be propagandized and jerked around.

He was talking about the internet, but I brought up the annoying example I run into just about every day over on Park Street here in Tally:
Public libraries exemplify how a “common” resource can be destroyed - or at least made less usable - by too-enthusiastic deployment of “rights” language. Hobos (short for “homeless bozos”) have taken over most of them. So even though all the people “own” the library, no one can kick out the hobos from “their” libraries so they can read without stench and noise. Most people go to a library to get books. Hobos use it for entirely different reasons, as a social center and warm (or cool) place. And of course the hobos don’t pay anything for this “common” resource. A true commons would have to be supported by anyone who wanted to use it, like a video rental store.

Of course, this does have implications for the internet. The web, as visited selectively by individual users in their homes, has become the new public library, minus bozos and with beer and hot dogs easily available. Oddly enough, one of the most common uses of the public library these days is to go online. Even the hobos slip up and do that occasionally. I wonder if book usage has gone down since every public library installed dozens of computer stations. And why is it necessary to have everyone in a building all together just so they can play on the internet? The authorities will eventually give everyone free computers and broadband in their homes and close all the libraries. Uh-oh. I smell frozen bozos!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

St. George's again

What is it about getting older that makes you think of your childhood? I've heard that happens, but maybe now at 57 I am experiencing it. A simple inquiry from Dean Esmay brought back a trivial day at St. George's School in Mill Hill, near London, when a little American boy in short trousers, facing the English educational system for the first time, was racking his brain trying to do well at his new school:
I remember using "bachelorette" as a response to the question, "What is the term for an unmarried older woman?" in a test in my first day at a school in England when I was nine years old (in the Fifties). I couldn't think of the word "spinster". I managed to convince the master that "bachelorette" was the received American usage, and he gave me credit. I rather like "bachelorette" but I get it confused with "majorette" and can't help thinking of happy unmarried women kicking up their heels in skimpy costumes while twirling batons and blowing whistles. "Old maid" is certainly most descriptive but perhaps "Auntie" is the cruelest.
I also sense more evidence that political correctness is running its obnoxious course. It can't be soon enough to get rid of monsters like "he/she" and "chairperson". (Well, which is it, a chair or a man or a woman or both?)
The important freedom

In response to a rather silly post by someone named Greg on Belgravia Dispatch, I had to belabor the obvious:
The right thing to spread is not "liberalism" or even democracy. It is capitalism, pure and simple. Most people everywhere want to be prosperous and to be able to keep the fruits of their labor. That's something everyone can understand. And that, not "neo-Wilsonianism" is in essence what America stands for. We have restored capitalism to Afghanistan and Iraq and it is prospering in China. Even in undemocratic venues like Pakistan and Singapore, capitalism is strong and serves the interests of most of the population. Freedom to start your own business and grow rich is the only freedom worth bothering about. America's interests lie in supporting capitalism wherever it exists.
This doesn't get said enough, though. We aren't, or shouldn't be, out to spread "good government" or "civic virtue". We won't truly be safe until everyone in the world is rich, through their own efforts.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I haven't been to Eric Raymond's site for a while. But this post, cited on Dean Esmay, spurred me into action. Not only that, but I got to bring in the AIDS delusion:
I here register my extreme skepticism that the “Montreal Protocol” or any actions by man made any difference to the extent of ozone in the upper atmosphere, a “problem” that never existed. Well, those are always the easiest kind to fix, aren’t they, and the most pleasant if you’re part of the power structure whose power is enhanced by the “cure”? Oh, yes and what was the mechanism whereby chlorofluorocarbons actually got up to the stratosphere, again? Anybody actually figure that out? Must be hiding in the same database where they’re keeping the proof that the HIV causes any diseases. But I look forward to the imminent declaration that HIV/AIDS has been “cured” by some extremely expensive drug or vaccine. When the truth is no one ever died from HIV.
And this was on a post about Peak Oil! A "threefer"?
John D. Rockefeller or not?
On Dailypundit, I try to confuse the neocons AND the leftoids by implying that John D. Rockefeller is now a senator from West Virginia. Do I do a good job?:
Is this the John D. Rockefeller the leftists have been inveighing against since, oh, 1888? Rather old, isn't he? Aren't the leftoids at all surprised that John D. Rockefeller is being attacked by the "neocons" and capitalist brigands? Why doesn't John D. Rockefeller give away all his money to the poor and colonialized? Why is anyone surprised that John D. Rockefeller should give advice to another oil billionaire robber baron just because his name is Saddam?
I'm such a card. I must be getting money for this from someone rich like, oh, I don't know, JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER???

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Jonathan Pearce on bemoans the loss of at least some protection against double jeopardy in Great Britain. Pearce pointed out at least one bad consequence, perhaps the least of their troubles, "If people can be repeatedly tried for the same crime, it creates a potential very bad and unintended consequence: police and the Crown Prosecution Service will become lazy in the preparation of cases."
That reminded me of a TV show I saw:
I recall seeing a Law and Order episode that pointed out that the double jeopardy protection in the US constitution isn't absolute. The example was a trial where the judge was corrupt, I believe. That defendant could be tried again because he never had a "real" trial in the first place. This exception, however, just emphasized the unusual circumstances that have to occur to justify disregarding this protection. The "new and compelling evidence" standard that now appears to be in place in Britain sets a much lower hurdle. Sometimes there is such a thing as a "slippery slope".
Robert Bidinotto wrote an eloquent post on the despair that's affecting most libertarian-leaning objectivists such as myself. I don't seem to have been able to get my comment to post, but here's what it would have been:
I agree. The political sphere is useless, even counter-productive as an arena within which to fight for individual freedoms. Luckily, in the US, for now, we have another arena - the economy. I am abandoning politics and will from now on concentrate solely on economics, not just to get rich - though I hope that happens - but to reclaim my soul as a free man.
Now I know that makes the politicians tremble in their boots, but what I mean is I'm not going to worry about politics any more. It's something about the wisdom of Scooter Libby, that "all the aspens are connected at the roots" that has made me feel that rooting for any side in the political wars is a mug's game. So I'll read my Raymond Chandler book, watch Maigret and conspire to become prosperous in my old age.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Another invasion of private property rights is laid out in this post on Samizdata:
And why, just because a premises is open to the public, does the owner therefore lose all right to control who enters? He still owns it, his money is still at risk, he still pays taxes. Why are his preferences and his judgment of no value whatever? Under what collectivist theory is this valid or good?
That Euan Gray really gets my goat! He seems to think that every conventional cliched restriction on individual freedom is its own justification.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Qui sème le vent récolte la tempete.

First report I've seen of a firebomb being thrown AT a mosque in France (not my translation! Babelfish?):

Attempt to set fire to a mosque with Annemasse in France
In the night of Monday to Tuesday a machine flamer was launched "in direction of a room of Moslem prayer" in Annemasse (Haute-Savoie), without making damage, indicates an official statement of the prefecture in Annecy.
According to AFP's, the incident occurred towards 0h20 Tuesday. The frontage of this mosque, located in a sensitive district, was slightly blackened by smoke. According to the official statement, the prefect of Haute-Savoie made share with the president of the association NOUR, which is occupied of the place of worship, "of his firm judgment of the act which struck the mosque, of his consideration for the faithful ones of this room of prayer, and of the support of the services of the State". In Annemasse, city frontier with Geneva, 3 cars were burnt in the night. For the whole of the department of Haute-Savoie, 16 vehicles were destroyed by fire.

"Machine flamer" indeed! Link leads to French version.
11 Novembre

I can't stand the lily-livered "social concern" expressed by a Parisian resident in this post on Dean Esmay's blog. So I opened fire with both barrels:
Yep. They can't help it. They have to do it. They're being oppressed. This appeasement makes me sick to my stomach. Why are all the poor French youth not rioting? Is this fellow saying the Vietnamese youth are pampered while the Algerians are not? How about the Poles and the Italians? They're not subject to French arrogance? Nonsense. Mostly, it's the example of the Palestinians which is uppermost. Rioting and destroying and killing are the ways to get respect and money and the tsk tsking of the liberal elite. Meanwhile, this blog is interesting.
The blog I link to is truly fascinating. I've asked my sister, currently a librarian in Nigeria, for her expertise in understanding it. The site has automatic translation, although it's not very good. Thinking about Esmay's post, I am probably overreacting by assuming Dean is expressing approval of the Paris-guy's statements. He could be citing him as a horrible example. We'll see how the comment thread develops.
I give dietary advice to the world via Marginal Revolution:
Maybe the problem isn't eating between meals but insisting on "meals" at all. Why eat food in huge glumps when you could just graze and never really get hungry? I know there are work reasons, but even there you could keep snacks in your desk. If you want to have a meal for social reasons, just treat it as a grazing opportunity. That way you never feel deprived and have less compulsion to upload cubic yards of fodder as you see happening at every table in every restaurant these days.
So how's this working for me, you ask? I've been doing this for a couple of months now and can still fit into my clothes, though I may have put on a couple of pounds (I threw my scale out). I feel a hundred per cent better, though, knowing I'm never going to diet again.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm branching out, a bit, to Belgravia Dispatch:
Does anyone really think that what these rioters want is a job in a store selling souvenirs, a little apartment on the Seine and a tiny car? Nonsense. They want to bring down the government, establish Islamic law, attack Jews and send suicide bombers into every remaining territory of the West. And until they establish control, they want the UN and the EU to give them money to live on and to spend on armaments and to stash in Swiss bank accounts. In other words, they want to be the Palestinian heros so beloved by de Villepin and his cronies, but on the Left Bank, not in the West Bank.
Lost province

Alright, I admit it, I've lost it, with this comment:
So, if Saddam were still in control of Iraq, he could declare the parts of Denmark containing majority-Islamic populations as a "nineteenth province" (or would it be the twentieth?) of Iraq and invade to liberate these twenty-first century Sudeten Germans. I've heard there are somewhere around a half-million Iraqis in Germany. Dusseldorf has always been part of Babylon!
on this post.