Of Ignorance and Fraud

First, the ignorance. In my post on Fahrenheit 9/11, I remarked that the essential difference I see between the left and the right is in an ability (or desire) to grasp the complexity of economic reality, i.e., the way things work. Notice that I did not make any distinction whatsoever between the principles held by the right and the left. That’s because there is none. Observe; here’s a perfectly laid out exchange between a righty and a lefty that clearly illustrates the abject ignorance of business and economics by the one from the left. The other day a young girl came to the door to solicit my support for her presidential candidate. I asked her why I should vote for this man. She was very nice and earnest, but if you got her off the talking points she was utterly unprepared to argue anything, because she didn’t know what she was talking about. She had bullet points, and she believed that any reasonable person would see the importance of these issues and naturally fall in line. But she could not support any of her assertions. Her final selling point: Kerry would roll back the tax cuts. Then came the Parable...


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Digital Brown Shirts

Kim du Toit puts Al Gore in a quite proper perspective. I believe this would be the first time I’ve linked to one of Kim’s articles, not that I haven’t been reading him fairly regularly for a while now. I’ll probably be doing more of it from now on. He writes an entertaining blog, with a lot of it being about guns (cool). The guy has guns all over the place, which means, your kids would be at least as safe in Kim’s custody as in the custody of your local police station. He’s a conservative, but nobody’s fool, either. Here’s a bit about Kim, from his blog: Kim du Toit was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kim emigrated to the United States in 1986. A graduate of St. John's College, he next began a Philosophy degree, but soon abandoned the idea--attending university didn't help him towards his goal of becoming educated. Kim is the living embodiment of contradictions: a White African-American with a girl's first name and a French last name; values the sanctity of marriage, but is married to his third wife; attended a religious boarding school, but is an atheist; trained chorister, but played bass...


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Fahrenheit 9/11

I was in the theater on the opening night of Fahrenheit 9/11; only it wasn’t to see that film. And just as I thought I might be safe, after braving the gauntlet of lefties queued up to find out what 9/11 “was really all about,” I walked past a Borders Books just in time to take note of a display showcasing The Liar’s new book, as well as another display with his book and that of his pathetic hanger-on wife side-by-side. I suppose that as politics goes, it’s the left’s time to take their shot. They’ve failed miserably in every attempt to develop a propaganda machine, apart from the main-stream media, that serves more of an audience for entertainment purposes (e.g., "right-wing talk-radio"). So, perhaps this new film genre that I will term "Leftumentary" (propaganda by any other name) can survive beyond this November's reconciliation of Bush's "stolen election" of 2000. But here’s one rub, of many: I’d no more be caught dead in a true-believer spectacle such as “Rush to Excellence,” “Hannitize America,” or “Savage Uncensored” than I would be sitting through the torture of viewing a pathetic screed of cynical propaganda by the likes of Michael Moore. There’s...


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Meeting Billy Beck

Since first jumping into the whole internet thing in 1992, I’ve encountered thousands of different people on various political/philosophical mediums of exchange, like Usenet. I’ve lightly corresponded with perhaps a few dozen of those at one time or another. Then there’s the small handful whose historical depth of knowledge and uncompromising commitment to freedom as a general principle--rather than a pragmatic convenience--make one like me sit up and take notice. That was in about 1994, so it’s been ten years I’ve been reading Billy Beck’s stuff off & on, and dropping him an email every now and then. To give you an idea of this man's depth, check out his reading list. I can assure you that these books aren't mere shelf candy. So, then, it would be no surprise that I’d take the opportunity to actually meet face-to-face. Billy was in San Francisco supervising the implementation of his set and lights design for a musical performance taking place in the downtown San Francisco Marriott. Here he is at work. I was glad to be able to get up to The City in record time from San Jose--time enough to sit and talk classic rock music in general and guitarists...


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Who Said That?

Can you guess? [He] condemned conscription, saying ... that it “rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state…. That assumption isn't a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.” Do you know? I think he should have rather said: 'The Soviets think it's a great idea;' but why quibble over that? I guess what bothers me the most is that I just never, ever, hear proclamations of principles that go anywhere near this level anywhere in the vast sea of politics. I'm resigned to the fact that it's not going to make much of a difference anyway, but it would at least be nice to know that someone out there has at least given them some thought--that, such ideas have occurred to them. Even as regards the "War on Terror;" I can't recall the last time I heard a public official address this whole matter in terms of fundamental, bread-&-butter human principles. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then that, in itself, illustrates my dilemma. Oh, who said it? Here.


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The Era of Big Government is Alive and Well

Thanks, primarily, to Republicans. And I'm not the only one who sees this. Oh, well. I, like others, are simply becoming resigned to the fact. I think P. J. O'Rourke gets it just about right. I used to be naive enough to think that talk radio would serve to educate people because I believed, and still do believe that our predicament, vis-à-vis Big Government, is a problem of the general ignorance of the people. But, as average people become better informed, the arguments change (they don't really, but that's the perception). The politicians and pundits are clever enough to keep in front of the debate. Now, you have "conservatives" (whatever the hell that means, anymore) on television and radio resorting to the same sort of dishonest half-truth, context-dropping, deception and manipulation as the lefties mastered decades ago. The only thing they haven't taken up yet, at least that I've noticed, is envy politics. Seeing as it's such a stunningly successful "political strategy" I don't see how they'll be able to risk not using it for very long. I guess this is why Reagan's death really hit a soft spot for me. In truth, he was not effective in curbing the...


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Carnage at the Worlds

Well, the world cross-country hang-gliding championship for the women’s flex wing class, rigid wing class, and ultra-light sailplane class is on. It's taking place in Bern, Austria and I can tell you--because I follow hang-gliding competitions all over the world--that this year is quite a bit different. A little history is in order. Back in the early days of the 70s and 80s, most hang-gliders were launched by foot, from mountain tops. So, most flying was mountain flying. It's how I learned. In the mountains, weather can be unpredictable, gust fronts can come up in minutes, and the turbulence from higher-level winds passing over the contour of mountain ranges can create some very strange (and scary) conditions, even several thousand feet AGL (above ground level). But, in the last 10 years or so, everyone has discovered aero-tow. It's so much more convenient. You set up your glider, get towed up and dropped off in a thermal, fly around for a couple of hours, maybe do a small out-and-return X-C, land where you launched, pack it up, and go home. Now, most of the largest competition meets are aero-tow. With 4 to 6 tugs, they can get 300 hang-gliders to 2,000...


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The Highway to Hell

Reason Online has put together a few articles on Ronald Reagan since the weekend. One of the more interesting is a fairly substantial interview done in 1975, prior even to his first bid for the nomination against President Gerald Ford. Now, before I get to what I find most interesting about the interview, here’s an excerpt on political philosophy: Well, government’s only weapons are force and coercion and that’s why we shouldn’t let it get out of hand. And that’s what the founding fathers had in mind with the Constitution, that you don’t let it get out of hand. That’s right. Ronald Reagan understood that government is fundamentally force and coercion. I wonder if he understood that government is nothing but force and coercion? Here’s another one, on politics. I have been doing my best to try to revitalize the Republican Party groups that I’ve spoken to, on the basis that the time has come to repudiate those in our midst who would blur the Republican image by saying we should be all things to all people in order to triumph. Lately, we find that of the 26 percent of the people who didn’t vote, more than half of them...


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Dumbfounded

We, and previous generations, have built up a productive capacity that is more than sufficient to feed, clothe, shelter, educate and amuse everyone on the planet. The only barrier to its use for that purpose is that it exists as capital. The only basis for its continuing existence as capital is our continuing acceptance of capitalist and state property rights. … Neither 'socialist' governments nor 'communist' regimes have ever brought society a day nearer socialism or communism. There are many reasons why not, but the basic reason is simple. Production for exchange can't be gradually reformed into production directly for use. … Why not now? We don't need to wait for capitalism to increase productive capacity to the point where the co-operative commonwealth is possible, because it's already done so… From Scotsman Ken MacLeod’s blog. He’s also an accomplished author of sci-fi, which perhaps explains the complete Pollyanna fantasy he lays out in his post, illustrated by the excerpts above. Just what it is that makes such an apparently smart guy unable to see his own contradictions? Here, in plain view, in a nutshell, he’s arguing that because capitalism has been such a success at raising the world’s productive capacity,...


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The Evil Empire

…So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride -- the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil. That was Ronald Reagan, 21 years ago in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, FL. The year was 1983, just over 2 years into his first term. What few people know is that Reagan had been trying to deliver that strong condemnation for some time before, at least since his 1982 speech to Great Britain’s House of Commons. It’s too bad that he didn’t deliver those words in that speech, for it would have been far more apropos. Alas, I’m sure it’s always been difficult for a President to find advisors who are not hand-wringing political whores. Still, when I read that speech now, through the lens of hindsight and history, I cannot help but marvel at Reagan’s vision and conviction. It's plain...


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We’re Stupid. It’s Our Policy.

“Can I see your ID?” “I’m sure I’m flattered, but surely you can see by the grey in my beard that I’ve passed the tender age of 21.” “Well, I know, but we have to card everyone.” “But you’re wasting my time, and the time of those standing in line, right there (shooting a glance).” “It’s the store policy, and I could be fired. “Well, better stupid than fired…I guess.” (An exchange between me and a grocery-store cashier about five years ago in the midst of a crisis; there was a party going on and we had run out of adult beverages.) At the point of this exchange, the clerk in question became so outraged that she called the store manager. I left my pending purchases on the conveyor, went to the Payless Drugstore next door, and completed the desired transaction in normal fashion. For those unable to grasp the underlying principles and objects worthy of note in the above, the most they’ll be able to apprehend is my seeming cruelty. Well, if you think that’s cruel, I give you a classic Beck. When I read that the other day, I emailed Billy and thanked him for the inspiration. I...


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Here, Secure This

Now listen up. I don’t give fuck-all about your “security concerns,” got it? Most particularly, I could give a shit that you’re concerned for my security. If I want a goddamned 3-character password, or no fucking password, and I’m paying you to provide me a service, then just give me a damned release to sign, or whatever makes you happy, and let me worry about my own security. Failing all that, could not all you security Nazis, at minimum, get together and determine some international standard or something for the form of user names and passwords? Then, at least if we have to abide by your ridiculous 8-character minimum, no doubles, alpha-numeric-upper-lower-case jumble password requirements, we could at least have the same password everywhere. I’ve just about had it.


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Get High, Go Far

It's hard to put into words how much your world view changes as you climb out from 6,000' to 11,000' here over a narrow valley. How stunning it is to look out along the course line from 11,000' and see nothing but snow covered peaks for as far as you can see. To have the valleys disappear in front of you. ...There are two worlds here, the world of the valley floor and the world of the mountain peaks and within a few minutes you traverse between those worlds. It is because you go from one to the other so quickly that the contrast is so startling. Davis Straub--who flies hang-gliders most of the year over the flats of Florida, Texas, and Australia--describing what it's like at the Alpen Open near Innsbruck, Austria. He's there, competing, in a prelude meet to the Worlds, to take place very soon. Read his first hand description of the pilot task for day 2 of the competition, an out-and-return of 197 kilometers.


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