Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Get the Jitters Just Thinking About It

Energy drinks are all the rage, actually they have been for quite some time, it seems.  I’ve never drank one, myself, unless you count the one time I did one of those Red Bull drink concoctions in a bar to amuse my sister-in-law.  I just don’t need the extra energy, I guess.

Anyway, here’s a few words that cause me to jitter because of whose mouths they are tumbling from.

“Young people are taking caffeine to stay awake, or perhaps to get high, and many of them are ending up in the emergency department,’’ said Dr. Danielle McCarthy of Northwestern University, who conducted the study. “Caffeine is a drug and should be treated with caution, as any drug is.’‘

Via damaged justice, who has this to say about the medical community expressing their concern.

Because of crap like this:  caffeine will be regulated.

The article itself is titled Caffeine-Stoked Energy Drinks Worry Doctors.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/31 at 04:38 PM
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Looking the Gift Horse in the Mouth

It’s not often you read things like this.

PAPUA New Guinea is threatening to dramatically reduce the money it receives from Canberra, suspend all official visits by Australians or impose onerous travel restrictions, and recall its high commissioner.

Go Papua New Guinea, stand on your own.

PNG tells Australia: we will stop your aid

Via Samizdata.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/31 at 04:10 PM
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The Next Four Days

The next four days posting may be light, non-existent, or only occur in the evening.  I’m off to a new construction casino project in Northern Michigan.  I’ll be keeping my eyes open, though.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/31 at 05:51 AM
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Spite Voting

The other day, in a post I titled Is That Right?, I noted Leonard Peikoff’s admonition on voting.  I objected to Peikoff’s assertions and stated so in my post.

Wandering through various blogs, today, I note that Nicholas Provenzo has also commented on Peikoff’s voting admonitions in a post titled Objectivists and Politics.  Though Provenzo agrees with Peikoff in regards to the “nature of the right,” i.e. voting, he doesn’t necessarily agree with the manner in which Peikoff presented his argument.  Nicholas’ post also acknowledges the futility of your one vote, which is an important point to remember.

But under our “winner take all” system, our vote is only worth the chance that it can swing an election. In most cases, that isn’t much of a chance.

Diana Mertz Hsieh also has commented on Peikoff’s admonition in a post titled Why I’m Voting for the Democrats.  Diana’s post is a bit lengthy, but is worth taking the time to read, also.  Diana’s post includes many links to other articles by Peikoff, and other individuals, that are also worth casting your eye on.

I stand by my original post (linked above), regarding Peikoff’s assertions, and add the following.

Much of what I read, currently, regarding voting Democratic, rather than Republican, whether from the right, left, center, Objectivist, or what have you, seems to suggest that an individual should vote Democratic simply to spite the Republicans, thus the title to this post. 

Sure, arguments are made, some quite persuasively, that Bush and the Republicans are attempting to bring into being the religious state, or, that the Republicans are no different than the Democrats when it comes to big government, which is something I’ve said for some time, but the overall gist of many of the arguments I’ve read for voting Democratic, versus Republican, quite simply exhibit a desire to perform a malicious act against the Republican controlled government.

Many pieces I have read even begin with a similar preamble to the effect that, yes, I know the Democrats are evil, that the Democrats shamelessly advocate big government, though the Republicans do also but in a veiled way, etcetera, etcetera, but I am going to vote Democratic because those damn Republicans have got to go.

It’s the spite vote, and if you’re voting Democratic, to spite the Republicans, you’re simply performing an irrational act, irrationally.

UPDATE: Billy Beck notes Peikoff’s piece here, and Richard Nikoley notes the piece here.

And, I’ll post Betsy Speicher’s comments (from discussion thread at Diana Mertz Hsieh’s post) regarding the possibility of a theocracy forming, which Billy mentions for their veracity in his post, in their entirety.

The arguments presented for voting for the Democrats are based on the premise that having and keeping the Republicans in power is leading to a theocracy. Check that premise!

First, we must define our terms clearly. A theocracy is a TOTALITARIAN government enforcing religious rules of conduct by FORCE. It is not merely a government with some religion-inspired laws. It is not just a government run by or supported by people who are seriously (or dementedly) religious. The latter are wrong and contemptible, but without the government imposing religious rules by force, they don’t have to affect the choices and actions of rational people.

But, after 12 years of Republican control in Congress, six years in the White House, and the intellectual and political forces at work since Reagan in the 1980’s, is there a TREND toward theocracy—i.e., toward imposing religious rules by force? What are the facts?

In the 1940-50’s USA I grew up in, we had to start every public school day with ten verses from the Bible. It was the law. Abortion was illegal in every single state and birth control of any kind was illegal in many states. Homosexuality was a crime. Adultery was the only grounds for getting a divorce and the process took years. It was a crime to have a store open on the “Lord’s Day.” My state-approved biology textbook hardly mentioned evolution.

This was god-awful, but it was NOT a theocracy.

Since then the trend has been AWAY from all these laws although some Conservatives have made feeble attempts to restore a few of them, in watered-down form, with almost no political success.

Would-be theocrats have serious obstacles to overcome: the Constitution, life-tenured sitting Federal judges, liberals and Democrats, the ACLU, and all the Christians and conservatives who don’t want their views imposed by force.

Because politics is an effect and not a cause, before theocrats can take over the government, they have to take over the culture. That means, as Objectivists always point out, taking over the colleges. The liberal Leftists are firmly entrenched everywhere in Academia—even in the Christian colleges—with Objectivists beginning to make small, but significant, inroads.

Therefore, there is no trend and NO POSSIBILITY of conservative Republicans imposing a Christian theocracy on the U.S. even if they wanted to—and I don’t see any evidence that mainstream Republicans, Conservatives, and Christians want to.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/30 at 01:11 PM
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“Microchipped like dogs”

Some individuals object because they fear it is the “mark of the beast,” of 666 fame, while other individuals object because it is simply an intrusion into living, which is none of the state’s damn business.  Either way, the state’s consideration of microchipping each and every individual, though it may only be in the talk stage, is unequivocally wrong.

Human beings may be forced to be ‘microchipped’ like pet dogs, a shocking official report into the rise of the Big Brother state has warned.

Britons ‘could be microchipped like dogs in a decade’

Via Drudge.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/30 at 12:32 PM
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Euro White Trash

The title to this post reminds me of the Cracker tune, Euro-Trash Girl, but this post is not about music, it’s about an excerpt I read from Gabor Steingart’s new book World War for Wealth: The Global Grab for Power and Prosperity (no Amazon link available).

I haven’t read Steingart’s book, but the following excerpt peers at the European underclass, or the unproductive and intellectually depraved.  Though this excerpt is describing the European underclass, it could be describing the “white trash” of America.

But the main thing that sets the modern poor apart from the industrial age pauper is a sheer lack of interest in education. Today’s proletariat has little education and no interest in obtaining more. Back in the early days of industrialization, the poor joined worker associations that often doubled as educational associations. The modern member of the underclass, by contrast, has completely shunned personal betterment.

Interesting read.

The excerpt is available at Spiegel Online under the title White Trash, Fast Food: How Globalization Is Creating a New European Underclass.

Additional excerpts from Steingart’s book can be read here.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/30 at 07:43 AM
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Lesson in Supply and Demand

So, I see William Jefferson Clinton has been attempting to sell tickets to his own birthday party, with musical guests the Stones.  Prices ranged from $500,000.00 (the “Birthday Chair Package”) to as little as $5,000.00.  Unfortunately, for Bill that is, his little birthday party isn’t drawing quite the interest he craves.

The minimum price, with inferior concert seats and no brunch, was set at $60,000 (£31,000). But with many rich Democrats sending their regrets, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that last Wednesday the Clintons drastically slashed prices to $12,500 (£6,500) for one reception and the concert, or $5,000 (£2,600) for just the Stones.

With the looming possibility of Bill and his long-suffering wife and daughter finding themselves amid a sea of empty chairs at the 2,900-seat Manhattan venue, tickets then went on sale to the public for as little as $1,710 (£900).

Americans snub invitation to pay $500,000 for Clinton birthday party

Posted by John Venlet on 10/29 at 08:38 AM
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Friday, October 27, 2006

Stacking Rocks

I’m a bit of a rock hound, not in the geology sense, I just enjoy a nice rock.  This can be hell when I spot a nice sized rock, almost boulder size, in a river and the old Jeep is a mile or so away.  They can get pretty darn heavy.

Anyway, after taking a look at this website, I’ve decided to get a bit more creative with the rocks I’ve accumulated around the house.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/27 at 02:32 PM
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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Remember Karen Fletcher?

Freedom of Speech, Denied

Karen Fletcher, a 54 year old woman, who runs a prurient website which runs stories, published words mind you not photos, which describe the sexual and physical abuse of children, has been charged by the federal government with obscenity.

Via Drudge.

Sen. George Allen, R-VA, unleashed a press release late Thursday that exposed his rival’s fiction writing, which includes graphic underage sex scenes.

Is Webb being charged with obscenity?

Posted by John Venlet on 10/26 at 09:13 PM
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School Yard Bullies, With Authority

Every grade school has a school yard bully, but this takes the cake.

Community leaders in north Omaha are calling for the jobs of an Omaha Public Schools principal and a security guard after a 7-year-old girl said she was roughed up…“In a nutshell, a security guard and the principal had put a young girl facedown on the carpet with her face mashed into the carpet…”

That must’ve been one tough little 7 year old girl.

Leader Wants Principal Fired After Report Of Abuse

Here’s another story on this.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/26 at 06:21 PM
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Is That Right?

The self proclaimed “foremost authority on Ayn Rand’s philosophy,” Leonard Peikoff, has this to say, among other things, about the upcoming circus extravaganza on November 7.

Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”

The “rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer” are those who proclaim themselves as Democrats.  The “rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer,” are those who proclaim themselves as Republicans.

Leonard then goes on to say this.

In my judgment, anyone who votes Republican or abstains from voting in this election has no understanding of the practical role of philosophy in man’s actual life—which means that he does not understand the philosophy of Objectivism, except perhaps as a rationalistic system detached from the world.

Based on Leonard’s judgment, I do not understand the practical role of philosophy in men’s lives, I am immoral, and I also do not understand the philosophy of Objectivsm, because I will not vote.  I disagree.

I think that my choosing not to vote is the only moral stance to take.  If I vote, I am simply attempting to coerce every individual through the use of a proxy, whether the proxy is Democrat or Republican.  More needn’t be said regarding that.

As to not understanding the philosophy of Objectivism, because I choose not to vote, well, that’s simply absurd.  Peikoff may indeed have a much greater understanding of the philosophy of Objectivism than I personally do, heck, he could probably nuance me to death with his vast store of knowledge regarding Rand’s philosophy, but his judgment is lacking objectiveness when he proclaims that those who will not vote are immoral and do not understand the philosophy of Objectivism.

As to why Leonard Peikoff is pushing individuals to vote for Democrats, he states the following.

...you are unwittingly helping to push the U.S. toward disaster, i.e., theocracy, not in 50 years, but, frighteningly, much sooner.

Perhaps Dr. Peikoff should read my post Onward Christian Soldiers, NOT, and Ross Douthat’s Theocracy, Theocracy, Theocracy, if he is in such fear of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

I’d also recommend that Leonard read a post of mine from January 2004 titled I’m Thinking Clearly, Now, where I had this to say about the times I had voted in the past.

...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.

Leonard’s entire post, consigning non-voters to immorality, and to not understanding the philosophy of Objectivism, can be read here.

Chad confetti to the Happy Curmudgeon for the link.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/26 at 03:50 PM
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An Indoctrination Problem

Wails of righteous indignation rise up, and deservedly so, whenever we see photos of, and read about, the way Arab children are inculcated with hatred of the Jewish people.  You know, the children are dressed up like suicide bombers, or in oh so spiffy Hamas uniforms and the like.  Isn’t this the same thing?

As the first bell rang, students bounded into hallways wearing twig- and branch-imprinted jackets or sporting fatigues stamped U.S. Army.

Principal Christine Moschetti said the school asked the students to don the martial clothing to show support for “the fight against drugs.” She wore a leafy, oversized camouflage T-shirt that she had bought at Wal-Mart for $5.

Camouflage Day at Marshall was tied to a national anti-drug campaign called Red Ribbon Week that began Monday. The week commemorates a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was slain on duty in Mexico in 1985. Organizers with National Family Partnership, a Florida-based group, said thousands of schools nationwide are participating through such activities as encouraging students to sign drug-free pledges or sponsoring spirit weeks. Events at some schools are similar to those found in a high school homecoming week, with students asked to wear different outfits each day to promote different themes.

Judas frickin’ priest.

From a Washington Post article titled Clad in Camouflage for a Cause.

Via Radley Balko, whose post on this also points to a Don Boudreaux letter to the editor on just this matter.

UPDATE:  Maybe the schools could all get the kiddies one of these.

The toy set, named the “Elite Operations Role Play Set: Police,” includes a nightstick and a utility belt. A recorded message that includes what sounds like a curse word plays when the nightstick is removed from the belt.

From a Breitbart.com article titled Father Says Toy Utters Curse Word which I was pointed to by The Corner.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/26 at 06:25 AM
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The Market Will Decide

Where is capitalism heading?  With the advent of the internet, there was, and is, much speculation about just this question.

I thought maybe this op-ed, Capitalism’s Next Stage, written by Samuel J. Robertson, and published by the Washington Post, might provide a pointer or two, but alas it does not.

Robertson’s piece is mostly a very condensed history of big business in the U.S., with a nod to Alfred D. Chandler Jr., and his book The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (1977), which noted the influential part managers played in the rise of big business.

Robertson ends his piece this way.

Just as John Jacob Astor defined a distinct stage of capitalism, we may now be at the end of what Chandler perceptively called “managerial capitalism.” Managers, of course, won’t disappear. But the new opportunities and pressures on them and their companies may have altered the way the system operates. Chandler admits as much. Asked about how the corporation might evolve, he confesses ignorance: “All I know is that the commercializing of the Internet is transforming the world.” To fill that void, someone must do for capitalism’s next stage what Chandler did for the last.

I don’t think Chandler did anything but define the part managers played in big business, it will be up to the market, you know buyers and sellers exchanging goods and services, to decide what capitalism’s next stage will be, that is as long as the state keeps its nose out of where it doesn’t belong.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/26 at 06:02 AM
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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Onward Christian Soldiers, NOT

I have no problem with individuals being concerned about the possible intrusion of religion, no matter the flavor, into politics.  Heck, even I have a bit of concern about it, especially when the state attempts to legislate my morality.

Ever since GWB got into that heralded office of President of the United States, though, the concern regarding the intrusion of religion into politics has risen to the highest heavens, led by the heavenly choirs of pundits on both the right and the left.  Hosanna!

The current indulgence is the impending coming of the theocratic state, complete with a Common Book of Prayer.  But is there actually a prayer that this kingdom of righteousness is descending on the land courtesy of a fluffy white cloud, or is it merely a loud gnashing of teeth and the groans of the overwrought?

Lacking a miracle, those who wail about, and those who petition the gods for, the coming of the new heaven, here on earth, led by the armies of GWB naturally, are simply experiencing visions.

I mention the above written because I just finished reading a piece written by Ross Douthat, titled, Theocracy, Theocracy, Theocracy.  Published by First Things, which is a Journal of Religion, Culture and Public Life, Douthat’s piece delves into four books which purportedly have seen the future (Revelations anyone?), on the right naturally, of the coming kingdom.  Douthat deftly lifts the veil on all of them.  From Douthat’s piece.

This reality poses no particular problem if you simply disagree with religious conservatives about abortion or gay marriage or prayer in public schools. But if you’re committed to the notion that religious conservatives represent an existential threat to democratic government, you need a broader definition of theocracy to convey your sense of impending doom. Which is why the anti-theocrats often suggest that it doesn’t take mullahs, an established church, or a Reconstructionist ban on adultery to make a theocracy. All you need are politicians who invoke religion and apply Christian principles to public policy.

The piece is 5,620 words, so pour yourself your labation of choice and have at it, and let me know what you think, if you’d like.

A miter tip to The Raving Atheist.  I’ll burn one for you.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/25 at 06:59 PM
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China Justice?

A Romanian videotape that appears to show Chinese security forces shooting two Tibetan refugees in the Himalayas contradicts Beijing’s claim that the refugees were shot by soldiers acting in self-defense.

Take a look at the video, which Nicholas Provenzo has linked up at his site The Rule of Reason, and see for yourself the Chinese pot-shotting the Tibetans, without a care in the world.

A more detailed article is available here via the International Herald Tribune.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/25 at 07:35 AM
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