“Land of the Free” Sightings

Balko takes an extensive look at a few of the worst prosecutors in the country. And shame on any member of any jury in any of these cases who aided and abetted the prosecutors and the state in their criminal enterprise.

What in the holy effing hell?

Well, clearly the cobra must have its mouth sewn shut, is de-fanged, or otherwise rendered inert, but this is one disturbing video. Human beings have evolved fear of snakes for a good reason, and those ancient ancestors who didn't possess a healthy degree of fear never got a chance to propagate their genes.

The Clever Japanese

Living there for five years, I never ceased to be impressed with their ability to utilize space in very efficient ways, and it's something that pretty much permeates everything they do.

They hadn't invented cubic watermelons yet, however. In retrospect, seems kinda obvious, eh?

Isn’t it the truth?

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

— Howard Aiken, computing pioneer and innovator

“Smart” Money “Logic”

Now hear this. The income tax is a blessing.

The more money you make, the more income tax you are required to pay. A blessing?  Yes, in a round-about way. If you had to pay more income tax last year, it means you also earned more in spendable income.

All together, now, kids: parable of the broken window (broken window fallacy). Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas. Setting aside the moral principle that all taxation is always theft (though legitimized through law, like slavery used to be), she is taking account of ce qu'elle viot, but not of ce qu'elle ne voit pas. She's looking only at the increase in funds not stolen, not the increase in funds stolen, or what you or any individual might have been able to do with them. The dollars you earn ultimately represent your time, either time you spend at labor, thinking, producing, or future time at leisure. This is gone from you for good, and it's being spent or squandered by some other individual or several individuals other than you. Take account of that. Your tax money is not being spent by "the government" or "society." It is being spent by one or more individuals, and they are spending your money on their values instead of yours.

Far from being a blessing; it's a curse.

Yes, Finally

Maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, but this is the very first time I've seen fully honesty injected into this situation, other than by me. Radley Balko, on To Catch a Predator.

I also think there’s an important distinction between men who arrange for with sex post-pubescent girls below the age of consent, and men who prey on young girls and boys who haven’t yet reached sexual maturity. The former is a natural, hard-wired attraction. I agree with laws that put the age of consent at somewhere between 16 and 18, which means I agree that people who break those laws ought to face some sort of penalty. The hard-wired attraction, then, is countered by by the promise of punishment, and hopefully one’s own recognition of the exploitive nature of engaging in sex with someone not psychological or emotionally mature enough to make good decisions about physical relationships.

But there’s something sleazy, unfair, and itself exploitative about sending an attractive girl (who sometimes is of age, but poses as underage) out to tap those natural impulses, removing the social barriers to acting on them (by giving the targets anonymity, the promise of no-strings-attached sex, and massaging away their apprehension), pouncing on the weak-willed men, then raking in cash from advertisers while showing the whole thing on television.

I think that men with thoughts of engaging in sex with post-pubescent girls were a lot more deterred back in the day when they understood that they might have to deal with a father, brother, or uncle.

Please, Indeed

Lew says "oh please," but this for me would constitute my largest problem with Paul (follow the links, if you like). I don't mind that he has faith in a deity, for it's not really a scientific proposition, and so much of it is wrapped in family tradition anyway -- I love Christmas time, even though I consider literal belief absurd. But denying the scientific fact of evolution and natural selection -- especially using that ignorant "just a theory" line -- tells me that in some measure he places his faith above his perception, cognition, conceptualization, and reason. I simply cannot take anyone completely seriously who denies evolution and natural selection -- either because they're ignorant (excusable, but why take ignorant people seriously?) or explicitly places some degree of limitation on reason in favor of faith, which is really inexcusable, and you must therefore place great suspicion on their ability to honestly deal in facts.

I could have taken it a little easier if he'd waffled on the issue, simply stating that he's not well enough versed in the theories to judge one way or the other, and he doesn't consider it important that he does. Misrepresenting the word "theory," however, is a pretty serious offense, in my view. Ever heard of the theory of relativity, or the the theory of quantum mechanics, or the theory of a host of other things? How about this one: the theory of gravitation, which ultimately described the motion of solar systems.

I suppose you can look back to the time where it was outrageously suggested (and how dare they teach out kids!) that the sun, planets and other galaxies of stars didn't revolve around Earth each day and understand that it literally took centuries for the theory of gravitation and other clearly observable aspects to be accepted. And the reason it took so long, of course, was because of religious doctrine that was wrong -- just like it's always eventually wrong when it seeks to explain complex scientific phenomena from the perspective of people who haven't even figured out running water, forced air heating, or refrigeration. So, understandable, because I guess that's just the way people are. But that doesn't make any of those people any less ignorant or obstinate, indeed inexcusably stupid, once facts with clear logical implications were established. So, the question is: how stupid do you want to be? You can be as stupid as you like, you know.

That said, the hopeful thing about Paul is that he doesn't want to force his silly religious views down your throat or mandate they be taught in schools. He wishes to eliminate the Dept of Education, which should be done: education should take place at home, or at the authority and expense of a small local community, however they may decide to do it.

Update: Well, look at this. Turns out the original video was doctored. I don't know that it makes a huge difference, but I suppose it's more along the lines of the waffling I wrote about.

“Good Cause” or “Social Contract?”

Well, which is it, because people keep telling me it's not theft.

From today's New York Times, page B1:

"Laurel Touby, 44, an entrepreneur based in New York City, [sold] mediabistro.com, a Web site for job-seeking media and creative professionals that she had founded in 1996. She sold it for $23 million -- leaving $9 million ... in her bank account after taxes."

"Edward Bartlett, a 41-year-old accountant in Westminster, Maryland, won $84 million in a lottery last summer -- $33 million after taxes."

Oh, don't tell me. I know. They oughta just keep quiet and count their blessings; stop being so greedy.

The Just War for Southern Indpendence

Just War, by Murray Rothbard, is essential reading. It's probably a 30-60 minute read, depending on how fast you go though it or ponder it. As with almost all things, I don't accept many of the implicit premises. However, I do agree that Rothbard's political and legal logic within the confines of the premises is pretty consistent.

The main idea advanced by this essay is that America has only fought been involved in two just wars: The American Revolution and Southern Independence (The "Civil War"). In other words, and he lays out a pretty good argument, the Southern States were conducting a just war against the unjust North for pretty much the same set of justifiable reasons the American Revolutionaries waged a just was against the unjust British crown. It's certainly not a new idea that the South was right -- Southerners being Southerners -- but the just reasons they had to go to war have always been overshadowed by the slavery issue. After all, the North won and the winner gets to write and teach history.

A few key excerpts:

...a just war exists when a people tries to ward off the threat of coercive domination by another people, or to overthrow an already-existing domination. A war is unjust, on the other hand, when a people try to impose domination on another people, or try to retain an already existing coercive rule over them.

[...]

[Read more...]

Virtue Nugget

Most of my online time today (well, yesterday at this point) was spent brushing up on Lincoln stuff. Lots of it. It so happens that Lincoln is my whole touchstone for what I am today in the libertarian sense. It was essentially discovery of the Lincoln myth in 1990 or so that got things rolling for me. Everything followed from there. Without that, I'd be watching Fox News every day, preening after talking-head liars like Kristol, Hannity, and O'Reilly, generally making myself fit the inner automaton regurgitating memorex that typifies just about everyone else who stoops to that.

More on all that, later: once I get all my bits & pieces in a row. In the meantime, I came across an interesting Murray Rothbard essay (there's a brief mention on Lincoln), Frank S. Meyer: The Fusionist as Libertarian Manqué. It's an excellent read from the perspective of sorting out some of the distinctions between certain types of libertarians. (Note: when I write "libertarian," or even "Libertarian," I am never, ever writing about the great contradiction: "The Libertarian Party.") Section II covers Frank Meyer's position on freedom and if you read nothing else, read section II (it's short). Here's an excerpt:

...To be moral, an act must be free.

Frank Meyer put it eloquently in his In Defense of Freedom:

. . . freedom can exist at no lesser price than the danger of damnation; and if freedom is indeed the essence of man's being, that which distinguishes him from the beasts, he must be free to choose his worst as well as his best end. Unless he can choose his worst, he cannot choose his best.

And again:

For moral and spiritual perfection can only be pursued by finite men through a series of choices, in which every moment is a new beginning; and freedom which makes those choices possible is itself a condition without which the moral and spiritual ends would be meaningless. If this were not so, if such ends could be achieved without the continuing exercise of freedom, then moral and spiritual perfection could be taught by rote and enforced by discipline – and every man of good will would be a saint. Freedom is therefore an integral aspect of the highest end.

Freedom, in short, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the achievement of virtue. With Lord Acton, we may say that freedom is the highest political end; in that subset of ethical principle that deals with the legitimacy of the use of violence between men, the libertarian – as well as the fusionist Meyer – position holds that violence must be strictly limited to defending the freedom of individuals, their rights to person and property, against violent interference by others.

Good stuff. It pays to keep reminding yourself: "...if freedom is indeed the essence of man's being...he must be free to choose his worst as well as his best end. Unless he can choose his worst, he cannot choose his best." I don't know about you, but I think that's just a brilliant insight into the essence of freedom. Seems so obvious -- like it's always been there -- once you read the words.

Abraham Lincoln the Monster

I've got so much stuff to post on this, but for now, here's this via Rockwell: Judge Andrew Napolitano on Lincoln the monster.

With any luck, the ignorant "that's not what I learned in 2nd grade" attacks on Ron Paul will continue. It's high time that Lincoln's credentials as deity come under serious and open public scrutiny. Already, thousands of people are for the first time in their lives learning that "Honest Abe" may not be all there is to the story. That can only be to the good. One day, when speaking of history's tyrants, Lincoln will at the very least show up in the same paragraph as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and so on. Start getting used to the sound of it. 650,000 people, people! Americans; killed by other Americans. Tens of thousands of women raped; hundreds of millions in property wantonly burned and otherwise destroyed.

Benazir Bhutto

I never for a single second thought that it was anything but insane for her to go back to Pakistan, and figured that either she must be delusional, those advising her are delusional, or there's a whole lot of delusion going around. I heard her give an interview on NPR shortly before her return. I just couldn't get the sense she was thinking straight -- as politics go, of course. This was all confirmed within, what, an hour of setting foot in the country? That should have been her cue to get right back on the plane. The only thing I can figure is that she was going to become a mainstay in Pakistani politics, again, or die trying.

Well, what can I say? I'd classify today's news as the most unsurprising news of the year.

Your Local Supermarket…

...From a bird's eye perspective. Radley linked that.

...Oh, and The Beast 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2007 is worth a look. I particularly liked this one:

26. William Kristol

Charges: Bears the burlesque Cheshire grin of a sophist born with a large silver spoon jammed sideways in his mouth. A second generation neocon raised in the tradition of Straussian perception management and myth creation, Kristol is basically lying about everything -- always -- and he knows it. Whether at the helm of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard, appearing on Murdoch's Fox News Channel, or co-founding the disastrous Project for a New American Century, Bill is arguably the most egregious media hawk of a generation. Seems to have suffered no ill impact to his career or prestige despite having been completely wrong about everything to do with Iraq and Iran, and actually laughs about it with obnoxious frequency.

Number 9 is "YOU," and mostly on point.

The Fed

Rockwell alerts to the fact that currently, the Mises Institute documentary on the Fed is at number seven on a Google search for Federal Reserve. Essential viewing, even if, like me, you find nothing principally wrong with a credit-backed currency, such as we have. It's the state fiat, monopoly element of it that's the problem, not the fundamental nature of it.

Good Samaritans

Well, this was supposed to be a wrap up of some of the familial Christmas festivities with photos, and I was going to do it up real good which required a replenishment of smokes. But it's freezing outside, it snowed a couple of inches today, and it turns out the roads are pure ice. And I'm about 500 feet up the side of the hills from the ville.

I can handle snow and ice. I grew up in it and learned to drive in it early. But not everybody is so able, though many 'round these parts are. I took the long way down, as it's not as steep. Doing fine, then I come to one of the steeper areas and in front of me in a small SUV nose into the ditch, blocking the road. When on ice, it's important not to do anything sudden, whether with the brakes or steering.  Not possible. There was little space to get around, which with ice made it a too risky proposition. Couldn't stop quickly. Tried, but then began to slide. I took the ditch without a second thought about it. I stopped. No damage. Luckily, it was a shallow ditch, wide enough that I had a foot of clearance between the right side of the X5 and the hillside. Enough to chain up, but just barely so (what a task on that right rear, let me tell you!). Turns out the very nice gentleman, wife in tow, is a permanent resident and had already called AAA. Good. Thanks to Bea, my card's current. In the meantime, I attempted to extricate myself once I had the chains secure. No luck with a moderate try. No sense trying very hard and risking breaking something with a tow on the way.

Now the risk is other cars coming down the hill, and though I had boots on with a good tread, it was like standing on an ice rink at a 20 degree slope. Flashers on cars were activated, naturally, and that was good as it alerted drivers on their way down to proceed with caution. Nice 20-something folks from a cabin right out front came to our aid, and we were were able to get everyone around the obstruction without incident, even though we had to physically slide some of them into the hard shoulder traction on the opposite side of the road from the ditch (even a big Ford F-150). Then a guy in a Ford F-350 4X4 with studded snows shows up, and he has a tow rope. Both cars were out of the ditch inside of 10 minutes, no damage to either.

After it was over I shook his hand and palmed him a 20. I gave him my address and told him he's welcome anytime and I'll be happy to get him drunk. The other folks (20-sumthins) were just wonderful too. They managed the towing operations and knew what they were talking about. You have no idea what a sucker I am for people who just get shit! Do you know what I mean? It's really at the root of so many of my problems with this culture. I swear: I hardly know a guy, apart from my dad and bros, who can even change a tire or oil, anymore. File down and gap points and plugs on an older car? Adjust the timing? Shit.

So I proceeded to my purchase and made my way back up the hill. There's an even steeper grade right before the final stretch to home and I took it no problem. Right at the top I spot a man and woman with suitcases and bags of groceries, hiking it. There's just no way I'm not stopping. They had had to park it at the bottom of the hill and were even quite farther up than my house, but I loaded 'em in and were were off. Without incident.

What a wonderful chance to pay it forward, right there. Tonight I get to revel in revived faith in humanity. Maybe it'll last for a few days.

Intermittent Fasting

I don't think I've written about this, but I've been looking into something called Intermittent Fasting (IF) as a companion to Evolutionary Fitness (EV). What Art discusses in that first link is using IF as a normal part of fitness in order to achieve a more randomized energy intake and consumption pattern; not weight or fat loss, which is my primary interest for the time being. I've still got somewhere between 20 to 30 lbs. of fat to loose, and that's after already losing about 20.

I've conducted two 30-hr fasts so far, in both cases lunch being the final meal until dinner the following day, two hours after a strenuous weight-lifting workout. Interestingly, the toughest part of the fast was the first evening when my body was expecting dinner. The first fast, I actually went to bed early just in hopes of escaping the excruciating, almost nauseating hunger, which in itself ought to be a clue that your body needs a bit of whipping into shape. In both fasts I got to sleep quickly, slept wonderfully, and woke up refreshed and not hungry at all. The hunger returned mid-morning but was quite subdued and I found it no problem to put in a workout and then wait an additional hour or so before dinner. Over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, it has only been the last 10,000 years where some people have had the opportunity to never be truly hungry. In short, we are designed to go significant periods of time without intake, and even to expend significant energy (like a hunt, a chase) prior to being able to eat. Wild animals exist in this fashion.

Here's a couple of things I can recommend to anyone interested in such an approach: The Fast-5 Diet and Eat Stop Eat. If you're the kind of person who has never had any problem with getting fatter as you get older, but are also the kind of person who doesn't usually eat 3-squares per day, well you just might have a clue into why that is for you, and perhaps reassurance that all the scolding you get from people isn't based in reality.

Almost Just in Time

No doubt many of you could have better used Mark Sisson's Definitive Guide to Insulin, Blood Sugar, and Type 2 Diabetes a day or two ago. But it's still not to late to educate yourself and be guided accordingly for the future (or render help to a loved one). It's really a wonderfully comprehensive overview of the whole deal that's also very accessible and easy to understand.

Of course, since I'm linking it, it's written from -- and integrated with -- an honest human evolutionary perspective rather than an ignorant, dishonest "thanksgiving" perspective. With the federal government devising even more ways to bloat America's Agriculture Soviet, you can hardly expect it to tell America that getting 60% of its calories from carbohydrates -- primarily delivered in grain-based products -- is insane; that 2 million years of human evolution, mixed with the current economic reality of cheap carbs, and the prehistoric superstition that "god has blessed us" has logically resulted in an increasingly obese, diabetes-ticking-timebomb populace.

You'll probably see State force feeding of grain-based carbohydrates in your lifetime, and it'll be open-arms heralded as a "great moment" in "social evolution" when it happens. Until then, however, you're still free to decide most of what goes into or doesn't go into your own mouth. Enjoy it while it lasts.

FWIW

Celeb endorsements for Paul: Donna D'Errico and Adam Curry.

Prediction

Well, screw Congress for banning incandescent lighting and my first thought was that I'll need to come up with a way to estimate "lifetime supply" of 40s, 60s, and 100s by 2012. Here's what I think is going to happen, however: LED lighting is going to render the whole stupid exercise moot.

“War is the Health of the State” (even at Christmas)

That was the title to a Randolph Bourne essay found uncompleted after his death in 1918. It arose out of WWI, and Mendy McElroy penned a 1999 essay on the core meaning of the phrase. Essential reading; essential link in your collection.

The thrust of Bourne's essays is to attack the sanctity of war by showing how it leads to the moral collapse of society by kicking out the props (the principles) of peaceful interaction upon which society rests.

In essence, Bourne addressed the moral consequences of war upon a post-war society which had abandoned individualism in favor of "the herd-machinery." He eloquently argued that post-war America would be morally, intellectually, and psychologically impoverished. By this observation, Bourne did not mean that peace time America would struggle under the increased bureaucracy that never seems to roll-back to pre-war levels. Many historians have made this point. Bourne addressed the less tangible, though arguably more significant, costs of war. For example, post-1918 America would be burdened by intellectuals who had "forgotten that the real enemy is War rather than imperial Germany." In converting World War I into a holy war, the intellectual and psychological groundwork was being laid for future instances of what he termed "the sport of the upper class" -- global conflict.

All of that, in order to get to my Christmas message for this year. After browsing around the net for something that would spark a bit of Christmas joy in me, I found I could do no better than this. It's a tragic story, but that's only because it's chock full of humanity at its best. Soldiers Against War: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce, by John V. Denson.

"Never . . . was I so keenly aware of the insanity of war."