Laughter

Billy Beck asks if anybody feels like laughing now. Well, since he asks, my answer is ‘yes.’ I’m also generally pleased when I see such things. Anybody can sue anyone for anything, so the fact that a lawsuit is being filed should be no surprise. Caterpillar won’t settle such a case, because they know it’s completely without merit. Most likely, the case will not survive the pre-trial motion to dismiss. From purely a legal standpoint, even if Caterpillar knew that their equipment would be used by Israeli Defense Forces to demolish Palestinian homes, it was certainly lawful for Caterpillar to sell them to such an entity. But all that’s not why it pleases me to see such things. I like seeing such things because far from being evidence of a “Rocket-Sled To Hell,” I believe it’s the sort of thing that backfires horribly. People see this sort of thing and shake their heads. They know, even if not explicitly why, that this sort of thing is total bullshit, and the fact that mobsters in fancy suits with law degrees can get cleanly away with such an assault that wastes so much of everyone’s time, money, and well being is morally…

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You Go, Ron

In a follow-up to what I posted the other day, Reason’s Ronald Bailey gives that loathsome lying commie Paul Ehrlich a good stiff kick in the teeth. You know, there’s a point where an ideologue needs to stop, do a fact-check, and adjust his ideology accordingly. Ehrlich could perhaps be forgiven for the abject nonsense he published in 1968 had he come clean and admitted how woefully wrong he was. That he not only hasn’t acquiesced, but rather lies and obfuscates in a thin attempt to defend clear and obvious absurdities, tells you all you need to know about the sort of fraud and pandering opportunist he is. It also tells you a lot about the morons who take seriously anything he has to say.

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European Inferiority

Kim du Toit nails it in a whole bunch of ways. Look, I lived in Japan for five years in the latter half of the ’80s, when their economy was smokin’ and Americans and Europeans were reading books about how the Japanese were conquering the world financially. Still, I knew a national inferiority complex when I saw it, and they had it. Then they found out how inferior they were when their economy went all to hell. It was no surprise to me. All it took was a few visits into any sort of office–government or private sector–in Japan in the late 1980s to see the sort of full-employment scheme they had going for themselves. Superiority? Pure fantasy. Perhaps that’s why, when I moved to the south of France in January of 1990 to live there for two years, the Europeans didn’t fool me for one goddamned second with their faux superiority–and that’s from Naples to Brussels, from Brussels to Amsterdam, and from Amsterdam to Marseilles. And you know what? Once my eventual friends got to know me, they didn’t lay that crap on me any longer. I’ve been to dozens of countries around the world. There isn’t a single…

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New World Record

Australian Jon Durand sets a new world record for distance in a hang glider, beginning with a foot launch from a hillside or mountain top. This was accomplished in Australia, where it’s currently summertime, of course (you’re going to need plenty of thermals). Try 496 kilometers in eight hours. That article is in the pilot’s own words, so is quite interesting. The absolute distance record is 437.8 miles (704.6 km), and I believe was almost 12 hours in duration. That was done in Texas, but the launch method is by aerotow from an ultralight. That has some advantages in that the tug can search around for lift and drop you off in it, and you can begin already at several thousand feet agl. When launching from a mountain, you’ve got to hang out along the ridge until the right ride comes along, then take it.

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Eating Meat

Go ahead and call it “consuming flesh,” if you must… Well, I’ve had this little post by Keith Burgesss-Jackson marked to keep as new in Bloglines for one whole month, today, and so I decided it’s time to finally take a bit of a swipe at it. Not too much of a swipe, really, because I have to say at the outset that even though I think Keith is a bit kooky on this score, I’ve yet to see him advocate any sort of coercion against those who “consume animal flesh.” His approach is to attempt to persuade people to consider and adopt his values in this regard. I’ve got no argument with that. What’s more, that’s generally how the world should work when the rational values people hold come into perceived conflict with the rational values other people hold. Do you want to show respect for your fellow man? Attempt to persuade them on some point rather than force them, or as is more common, enlisting some proxy such as the state to do it. Think about it. I think he gets two things wrong. The first: I believe meat-eating violates most people’s moral principles, but they conspire in…

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Make’s No Difference

Explaining it “the right way” isn’t going to help you. Here’s an amusing little editorial in the NYT (ha ha ha). I guess it’s human nature. When your admonitions aren’t accepted, the natural tendency is often to believe that those you’re admonishing are either incapable of understanding, or that you’ve just not explained it the right way. You know, it’s like commies who forever complain that we’ve never yet seen true communism. Once we do, of course, we’ll not be able to wait to embrace it. Here’s a different take on the matter that has the added virtue of being true.

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I Won’t Help You

Yea, it seems the FEC wants everyone’s help ’round the Blogosphere in legitimizing their activities. Of course, bloggers everywhere are falling all over themselves to lend their hand in the charade. Well, not me, and though I seem to be in small company, it’s good company. John Lopez proposes a far better letter to send to the FEC, assuming you’re so inclined. Dear Sir or Madam: Others, some fifteen-hundred of them at the time of this writing, may wish to crawl to you like whipped curs, begging for permission to conduct their own affairs. I am not among them. Knowing full well the uselessness of any such endeavor for the purpose of securing my liberty, I decline to degrade myself before you. I do not and shall not recognize any authority you may claim to possess, except such recognition as you may impose upon me at the point of a bayonet. I shall not stoop to the pretense of asking your permission for or begging your recognition of my property, or of my right to use it as I see fit. Instead, I will take notice of the fact that you are in fact usurpers and thieves, robbers and murderers….

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Inevitibilities

A note to Martin McPhillips and Charles Krauthammer: I’m gratified that in spite of how intelligent and well-meaning some people are; in spite of how well they can express their views on a variety of issues; and in spite of how complex those issues can sometimes appear, they just don’t matter much. There’s a reason that abortion is here and here to stay for at least as long as contraceptive methods aren’t effortless, free, and foolproof, and it has nothing in the world to do with all the twisted ethical arguments that seek to establish bright-line standards where none are possible. The simple and plain fact is that individuals who have a personal interest in the matter can plainly see the difference between fetuses and human beings—in spite of the difficult time you gentlemen seem to have with it. …And you think that you have a hope in hell of getting people to accept the sanctity of pre-fetuses (embryos)? Technology advances rapidly, and human cloning—particularly for the manufacture of spare body parts—is an absolute certainty. You can mark my words. You may even mark your own as quaint, once yours or a loved one’s life is saved over the next…

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Saving Everyone

Your mileage may vary, but I think my friend Billy Beck gets the better of National Review’s Jonah Goldberg in this exchange. Of course, that could only be because he has a better grip on both the facts and reason.

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Art in Motion

Been orgnizing the garage over the last few days. I have to roll this baby out at the beginning of each session, then roll it back in. Even though I’m not on a ride at the time, it gives me significant pleasure nonetheless.

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Is it just me…

…or should we be hearing less about the Michael Jackson trial, and more about some giver of justice beating the parents of every kid that ever set foot in the Neverland Ranch, since 1993, to a bloody pulp (and then really hurting them)?

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More on Moore

I just hate knowing that so many people I know and care for, even loved-ones, were insane and foolish enough to be taken in by that lying sonofabitch. Michael Moore being shunned by the Oscars was certainly telling, but even more telling is what Moore’s former manager (who fired Moore) is saying about him, as documented in this San Francisco Examiner piece by Kathleen Antrim. Yes, Moore [is] now getting less. Good. “Michael Moore makes a substantial living going into peoples’ private lives. Sneaking up on them,” Urbanski said. So Urbanski feels no compunction in talking about the only client he ever fired. In fact, he fired Moore with a 10-page letter. “A more dishonest and demented person I have never met,” Urbanski wrote me in an e-mail, “and I have known a few! And he is more money obsessed than any I have known, and that’s saying a lot.” Urbanski believes that Moore hates America, hates capitalism and hates any normal concept of freedom and democracy. This seems odd, considering that if it weren’t for America, freedom and capitalism Moore’s brand of expression and capitalistic success would be impossible, if not illegal. “Michael Moore could not withstand Michael Moore’s…

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Inventors of the Mind

Today, on Victor Davis Hanson’s website, Bruce Thornton has the transcript of a speech he recently gave to the Tsakopolous Hellenic Foundation. It’s called Defending the Greeks, and to say that I recommend taking the time to read it is an understatement. Here’s just a few of many, many highlights. When asked to define the achievement of the Greeks, we usually list the intellectual, artistic, and political equipment we have inherited from them: philosophy, history, logic, physics, criticism, rhetoric, dialectic, dialogue, tragedy, comedy, epic, lyric, aesthetics, analysis, democracy—these are all Greek words. Taken together they constitute the cultural and mental foundations of Western civilization. Yet such a list perhaps obscures a more interesting question: What is it in the ancient Greek mind that provides the common denominator of all these words? The answer is that they are all the formalized expressions of the essence of the Greek achievement: critical consciousness. This is the impulse and willingness to stand back from humanity and nature and even the gods, to make them objects of thought and criticism, and to search for their meaning and significance—”to see life steadily, and see it whole,” as Matthew Arnold put it, instead of remaining enslaved to…

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Don’t Ever Let Them Off the Hook

Look, I’m not naïve or self-deluded enough to revel in ecstasy over the leading indicators that show the middle east apparently moving toward more democratic governments, over there. At the same time, I’m not going to deny that these new bands of thieves will be marginally better for just about everyone than the bands of thieves and murderers who have preceded them over the centuries, should this all come to pass as it now looks it might. But this is not really about that, what I just wrote. This is about the most fundamental of human moral obligations—that of self-defense. I can quibble with George Bush about how best to go about that, but the last thing in the world that I’m going to do to someone righteously and steadfastly taking up that task is to manufacture lies and deceits, with the purpose and design of bringing him down, or in any way support others doing it. Every single person who supported that evil monstrosity of a democrat political campaign, either actively or morally, should be profoundly ashamed of himself or herself. They should never forget how low they sunk. They should never, ever be let off the hook. Not…

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Fraud of the Conservatives

I’ve said this before and beforer: the Republican Party, and many “conservatives,” in particular, are a bunch of frauds. If you don’t see that, then read at the two links I just referenced. If you still don’t see it, then you’ve got your head in the sand (or, someplace altogether darker and far more unpleasant). Now, before I get alot of damned “preach-it-brother” comments and emails from people who don’t know me, that’s just the third of it. The Democrats are the party of psychotic dishonesty, and as such, even more evil. The Libertarians, qua political party, are generally a bunch of nitwits trying against hope to circumvent the logic of practical politics by engaging in the process of practical politics. You don’t get rid of something that’s rotten to the core by accepting all of the cardinal premises upon which it’s based. But there’s a political philosophy that some call libertarianism, or some, more distinctively: “small-‘l’ libertarianism.” Here’s an article by Robert Locke (certainly no relation to John) at The American Conservative, who doesn’t really know what the hell he’s talking about. He’s arguing against something (some strawman of his own design), but I’ll be damned if I know…

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Natural Rights: Do They Exist?

Yes, but not how you think Sometimes, even very smart people can be thoroughly convinced of the veracity of some position they hold…right up to the moment where they suddenly become not so sure. For an example, see this post and comments over on the QandO Blog. The comments are extensive, but what they reveal is that those arguing that natural rights do not exist were initially arguing against a bad formulation of their own design. Of course, the easiest way to stand effectively against some position is to be afforded (or take) the opportunity to state, in your own terms, the tenets of the position you are about to argue against. One should always try to find the best arguments that support (or deny) the position one intends to debate. If you follow the comments in that entry, you’ll eventually notice how the debate changes, once those claiming that natural rights don’t exist are confronted with the prospect of arguing against what natural rights really are (rather than the strawman argument they’d erected to later knock down). Here were my contributions (with a few edits for clarity): Having read a good deal of the comments at this point, I…

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Human Destinies – Part 2

Preface: This entry encompasses an almost unimaginable scope. Please bear with me and read the whole thing if you can. I don’t make such a request routinely. I’m going to give my own view of what I think is next that changes everything, but it will take me a while to get there. Thanks to Greg Swan and Kyle Bennett who provided input into the final draft (which doesn’t mean they necessarily agree with everything). Thanks also to all the commenters on the original entry. Very interesting (I invite everyone to read them). To summarize, I was asking what comes next in the list of grand human destinies that changed everything. As you can see if you’ve read the original entry, I’ve made some edits as I’ve considered comments and developed my own thinking. 1. Agriculture. 2. Primitive Civilization. 3. Heliocentrism / Enlightenment / Secularization. 4. Technology / Capitalism / Industrialization. 5. The Internet. I think agriculture and civilization are important and fundamental enough to merit their own categories. How could I have left out Copernicus? I include him in what is now number 3. Heliocentrism isn’t important enough to merit its own category, but I think it prefigures Enlightenment…

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Human Destinies

This is surely nothing new to the world, but as I was walking the dog this morning, I was thinking about humanity from the widest perspective possible. For lack of a better term that might present itself later, I’m calling it Human Destinies. There’s a point to that. I speculate that we must either achieve our Destinies, or it means we’ve destroyed ourselves. To put it another way, I speculate that achieving such Destinies could be an essential part of the defining characteristics of human beings. In other words, it’s just what humans do—or they cease to exist; they become extinct. Now, the thing is, there’s no superfluous stuff, here. We’re talking about the widest scope possible—events that changed entirely the course of human history, irrevocably. Here’s what I came up with: 1. Agriculture / Basic Civilization. 2. Enlightenment / Secularization. 3. Technology / Capitalism / Industrialization. And that’s it, so far. Now, given the above, what’s number 4, out into the future? I further speculate that your answer to what number 4 is tells us a great deal about you. It could be the ultimate litmus test, in fact. Go ahead and comment, if you dare. Update: Greg Swann,…

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Tried by Fire

Billy Beck has latched onto a tiny bit in an email I sent that alluded to how we’re sometimes condemned on the sole basis of the guttural language we sometimes resort to. He’s also drawn Martin McPhillips into it. To get what I’m going to get at, you really need to read both references, including the comments to McPhillips’ entry. I spoke peripherally to this issue in a recent entry, which, not so curiously, also involved Beck (and Kim du Toit, another potty mouth). Now I’ll address it more specifically. As Billy already indicated in the first comment to Martin’s post, I said there was something else to it, in addition to his excellent work-up. Experience breeds confidence. We express as we do because we’ve stood the test and know we’re right. It’s that simple. I’ll explain. I read on his blog (I can’t recall where) that Billy was up to 20,000+ posts to Usenet. For those who don’t know, Usenet was the Internet, insofar as political ideas were exchanged, before the advent of the blog. I did most of my time there between 1994 and 1996 or ’97, and although I don’t have a post count, my posts totaled…

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