Saturday, January 31, 2004

I’m Thinking Clearly, Now

Earlier today, after reading this post, by Billy Beck, and a couple of others he penned, I dropped him an email.  In it, I said this, among other things.

I, initially, after September 11, had some respect for Bush.  Sadly, he is no different than any other politician.  He is simply a “professional jobholder.

What has changed, you ask?  Think about the steel tariff fiasco, think about Medicare, think about manned missions to Mars and the Moon, think about the truth of the following statement from Daniel Drezner, posted by Beck also in the link above,

If Karl Rove thought imposing wage and price controls would win Pennsylvania and Michigan for Bush, you’d see an Executive Order within 24 hours.

Bush is no different than any other politician out there.  Each and every politician is only concerned with staying in power and they will do anything, anything, to remain in power.  Promising the moon and the stars, they deliver only enslavement.

The last time I exchanged an email with Billy about voting, I stated something to the effect that I do not vote for individuals, I only vote on issues that effect my pocketbook, i.e. millage increases, tax issues etc.  I now want to formally state that I will not vote at all.  I acknowledge that my voting on issues that effected my pocketbook, affected each and every individuals pocketbook, and I apologize for contributing to the coercive power of the state, against each and every individual, both on a local and federal level.

I’m thinking clearly, now.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 07:28 PM
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A Psychiatric Experiment H.L. Mencken Would’ve Enjoyed

The Guardian Unlimited has printed a story, or, more accurately, an edited extract, from a book written by psychologist Lauren Slater, which relates the results of a repeated experiment.  The experiment was undertaken originally by psychologist David Rosenhan in 1972.  The experiment entails healthy, sane individuals attempting to get themselves admitted to psychiatric hospitals after not showering or shaving for five days and stating that they hear a voice.  The voice says “thud.”  That’s it, nothing else, just “thud.”  The results, are, to say the least, amusing.  Both in 1972 and in its most recent incarnation.

The story is titled Into the cuckoo’s nest.  Here’s the link to part II.

I found the story immensely entertaining, and, would have thoroughly enjoyed being a participant.  The lovely Melis says that’s because I’m part crazy anyway.

Via Tyler Cowen posting over at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 10:16 AM
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Expanding Your Vocabulary

Samizdata’s Dale Amon offers A suggestion for new terminology.  I repost his suggestion, here, in its entirety.

While reading some DOD press briefing transcripts tonight I was struck by the total dehumanization inherent in a person chosing to be a suicide bomber. At the instant they strap on the explosive belt or seat themselves in a car bomb they cease being a person. They become nothing but an expendable munition, bombs in a deceptively human form.

I suggest a new name for them: SPM’s.

Self Portable Munitions.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 09:47 AM
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Some Quotes

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

Benjamin Franklin

“In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.”

Charles de Gaulle

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”

Edward Abbey

“Fifty-one percent of a nation can establish a totalitarian regime, suppress minorities and still remain democratic.”

Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn

“Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”

H.L. Mencken

“Complete equality isn’t compatible with democracy, but it is a agreeable to tolitarianism. After all the only way to ensure the equality of the slothful, the inept and the immoral is to suppress everyone else.”

Iain Benson

Posted by John Venlet on 01/31 at 08:32 AM
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Friday, January 30, 2004

To The Moon On Their Own

TransOrbital, Inc. is going to the moon.

Not with humans on board, yet, but they are going.  According to the Space.com article, the company plans to launch late this year, from Russia, and, for a mere $2,500.00 per gram, you can have TransOrbital carry along something of your own for the ride and have it left on the lunar surface.  I wonder what NASA’s cost per gram lifted into orbit is?  Prior to depositing your contributions on the surface of the moon, TransOrbitals craft will orbit the moon for approximately three months sending back high res photos and HDTV-quality video.

The total mission cost, is a mere $20 million.

As Transorbital Inc.‘s website states “The moon is open for business.”

Excellent.

Link via Brian Doherty at Hit & Run.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/30 at 03:35 PM
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In The News

Shonk, over at Selling Waves, has been reading G.K. Chesterson’s The Ball and the Cross and, ties a quote from said book, to a post by fellow contributor Curt, and then expands on that thought.  The thought deals with what is in the news and objective reporting of the news.  Shonk’s conclusion.

So what’s the solution? Well, to be honest, I’m not sure there is one, but it might be a good start to acknowledge that “journalistic objectivity” is not merely an unattainable goal, but actually a very harmful and oxymoronic conceit.

I gave up watching the teevee news about five years ago, encouraged by a friend to take a two week fast from the idoicies that beam into my living room, that continues to this day.  I still get a daily newspaper, but its value is mostly as a feed for local happenings.  I receive my news from the internet.  Granted, the content on the internet is basically the same as the content in dead tree print or moving pictures, but, at least I do not have to listen to some “news” reader’s tonal inflections, accompanied by a treacly smile, of approval or disapproval of what is being read.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/30 at 08:38 AM
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Davos Babble

I didn’t really pay any attention to the goings on at Davos when it was recently in the news.  I quickly scanned a few posts at various blogs.  Instapundit linked to a few comments and articles, one dealing with some praise for Clinton’s babbling, one dealing with anti-Americanism, an article by Thomas Friedman on the beef served, some comments by Virginia Postrel dealing with anti-Semitism at Davos, and a reader’s comments expressing being disturbed at a defaced American flag.  Ho, hum stuff.

Last night though, when I stopped by The Rule of Reason, I read this article by Skip Oliva.  The headline for Skip’s article is “Who Will Lead the War on Altruism?,” and the catalyst for the article was the following comment, uttered by a Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, as reported by Jay Nordlinger at NRO.

She says that “the fundamental objective” of her company — the fundamental objective, mind you! — is not “to make money” but “to do good,” “to be a good international citizen.” When she says “make money,” she makes it sound so dirty. She borrows the old Quaker business about not just doing well but doing good.

Let that sink in for a moment.  Ponder the sheer imbecility of that statement.  If you are a stockholder in HP, consider calling your broker and selling all your shares, now, before you are dragged down in the abyss of dogooderism.  Exercise your rights as a stockholder and owner and get Fiorina fired, because, based on that statement, Fiorina has been unmasked.  Fiorina is not a businessperson, diligently working to maximize profits so you can earn dividends and build equity, she is simply wearing a business costume.  If Fiorina truly thinks HP’s fundamental objective is “to do good,” you are losing money already.  She is not a buisnessperson, she is a puppet, dancing on the strings of the government.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/30 at 07:47 AM
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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Via Drudge, we are pointed to a Washington Post article titled Hill Probers Fault Iraq Intelligence.  Though the White House, apparently, still isn’t willing to acknowledge this publicly, as this statement from Condie Rice illustrates.

Asked whether the intelligence was wrong, Rice demurred: “I don’t think . . . that we know the full story of what became of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.” Hussein, she added, “concealed hundreds of weapons-related activities and programs from the United Nations.

I don’t know about you, but I expect more from Condie Rice.  She’s intelligent.

Supposedly the lawmakers who “unearthed” these intelligence failures were surprised. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) likend it to a “runaway train” of failures.

Are we supposed to take this seriously?  Are we supposed to “believe” that just now, these intelligence failures are being “unearthed?”  That lawmakers are just now figuring this out?Statements and articles such as these are simply a reflection of lawmakers’ disregard for individuals who can think.  It’s like they believe they are feeding a child sitting in a high chair strained peas.  Open wide, here comes airplane.  Mmm, isn’t that good?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/30 at 07:14 AM
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Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Continuing Search for Superconductivity

According to BBC News, scientists have created a new form of matter.  It is called fermionic condensate.  As stated in the article,

It could be a step closer to an everyday, usable superconductor - a material that conducts electricity without losing any of its energy.

Here’s a link to The History of Superconductors.

BBC News link via Drudge.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 03:04 PM
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On Justice

Two quite interesting posts over at Catallarchy.  The first post, written by Micha Ghertner, titled Many kinds of objective justice, explores whether justice can be objectively determined, or, if justice is only subjective.  I left one comment, in the thread discussing Micha’s post, in regards to objectively simplifying the matter under consideration by removing Marxist ideology from the objective analysis of justice.

The second post, written by Qiwi Lisolet, is titled Is Justice Real?  Qiwi’s post brings up the subjects of peace and prosperity, and, in the comment thread, equality.  Instead of leaving a comment in the thread, I’ll address these three, peace, prosperity and equality, here.

Equality, like peace and prosperity, is a nebulous term.  I think the only equality, that can be equal for all individuals, is the equality to be free from coercion.  There will never be equality of material possessions,  there will never be equality of income, there will never be equality of intellect or educational level attained, or willingness to work, or food to eat, or shoes to wear.  Asking for equality in things, outside of freedom of coercion, is akin to asking for equality in the amount of snow, sunshine or rain received in your little part of the world.  It isn’t going to be equal.

Equality of peace and prosperity can be thought of in the same vein, and, the same conclusion will be arrived at.  Peace and prosperity are not going to be equally distributed, like rice was supposed to be in the book King Rat or opportunity and goods were supposed to be in the workers paradise of the Soviet Union.  It will not happen.  There will be wars, famines, poor people, rich people, smart people, dumb people, peace and prosperity will not be equally distributed.

Even achieving the equality of freedom from coercion is far from us.  There will always be individuals who will not play the game according to the rules of equality in freedom from coercion.  It will not happen, because there will always be inequality.  It is all around us.  If equality is so fervently desired, one may as well wish they were an cyanobacteria.

I think justice can be objectively determined, if and when, individuals are willing to admit that equality is utopian and inequality is fact.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 01:56 PM
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Royal Flush

Ace of hearts.
King of hearts.
Queen of hearts.
Jack of hearts.
Ten of hearts.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 09:27 AM
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The Spock Mind Meld

Godless, at Gene Expression, links to an interesting article on potentialites for reading minds being developed, as published in Stanford Magazine, and ethical concerns surrounding this potential.  Godless excerpts a good portion of the article, but the article is worth taking some time to read also.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 09:01 AM
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Good Question, Solid Answer

David Yeagley asks a question, in a post titled Where is Truth.  A portion of his answer.

There was an interesting lesson about how to package truth in these modern times, and how Americans may accept it. We can’t really credit Winston Groom (or Eric Wroth) with all the profundities suggested through the story of Forest Gu-ump, but there is a tell-tale element which reflects all that’s wrong with American society: truth is acceptable only in the form of a semi-retarded person. All that is precious in the human character, love, honesty, innocence, and even consistency, cannot be tolerated, accepted, experienced, or even recognized, except through the person who is “not all there.” All that is right with our ideals of character is precisely what was wrong with Forest. In his handicap alone could such precious jewels of character be set. Only there we could trust them as genuine. It is as if character really isn’t quite real, but seems to be only in an “unreal” person.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 08:46 AM
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On Centralized Planning and If the State Pays for it Is it Art?

Greg Ransom, the PrestoPundit, has read the Federal Reserve’s statement on interest rates, and, well, Greg says it entertainingly so here’s what he said.

Link.

Read the last unbelievable paragraph and try to think of anything other than a bent over Jim Carrey with his hands on his ass talking out of that end of his anatomy. The Federal Reserve represents the singular fraud of modern academic macroeconomics in its purest form. Simply put, using leeches to cure sick people had a great deal more sound reasoning and solid evidence standing behind it than does the psuedo-scientific yammering of the Federal Reserve and its dissembling army of academic macroeconomists.

Greg also read about Bush’s proposal to increase funding to the NEA.  This idea didn’t pass muster either.

Link.

Earth to Bush—you can’t continually multiply government borrowing and explode government spending without destroying the wealth of the country. This is the path every failed South American country has followed. And it’s a path America will find itself trapped upon if Bush & Co. continue to pretend that the laws of economics don’t apply to the United States. All I can ask is, what the hay is going on in Washington? And in George Bush’s head?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 08:25 AM
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The Failure of Socialism in Anthropological Objects

The ingenuity needed to survive socialism, at times, manifested itself in the most common of objects.  Objects that were not available in stores, were created and manufactured by individuals, for their personal use in their homes.  Though the homes were not really theirs.  In the same way, Russians who were even less fortunate than their “free” countrymen, residing in the gulags scattered throughout the socialist “empire,” fashioned common everyday objects they needed.  Objects as ordinary as toothbrushes.  There’s a sure sign a failure, the soothing canards of socialism, with it’s for the common man mantra, cannot even support providing so common an object as a toothbrush.

There is an interesting article in the Washington Post which looks at an individual by the name of Vladimir Arkhipov who is collecting these “homemade contraptions.”  The article is titled Handmade Versions Of Soviet History - An Artist Shows Off Makeshift Objects People Used to Cope With Shortages.

I was made aware of this article via a post by Natalie Solent over at Samizdata.  Natalie posted a link to the article because she read a comment by John Weidner, at Random Jottings, who had the following to say after reading the WP article.

God made the 20th Century to teach us that the notion that things work better when experts plan them is a fallacy. It’s a pity that a hundred-million or so had to die to illustrate the lesson. But now we got it. Right?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/29 at 07:18 AM
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