Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Impending Death Has Nothing to Do With It headlines their story regarding Angel Raich’s unwarranted prosecution on marijuana charges by the federal government as:  Dying Woman Loses Marijuana Appeal.

The headline, I suppose, is meant to solicit a degree of sympathy for Ms Raich from the teeming masses.

Rather than sympathy, though, the federal government’s harassment of Ms Raich, and the federal government’s disregard of individual state rights, should arouse anger and resentment.

Ms Raich is dying, and the federal goverment’s interference in her medical care, and harassment of her private, personal life is nothing more than persecution to showcase the federal government’s power over each and every individual’s life, no matter what the circumstances may be.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/14 at 03:14 PM
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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How Thespian

Certain Iranians are upset about the depiction of Persians in the movie 300, not to mention Ephraim Lytle, an assistant professor of hellenistic history at University of Toronto who states that 300 is an “abuse of history.”

I reference both of these caterwaulers to a quote about movie making uttered by Alfred Hitchcock.

The cinema is not a slice of life, but a piece of cake.

I thought the cake was very good, but, if you’re looking for something more than dessert, may I recommend something a bit more academic.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/13 at 03:05 PM
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Cargo Cult Mentality of Altruism

Though I have no issue with performing an occasional altruistic act for an individual down on their luck, said acts, in the majority of instances, only temporarily alleviate, rather than allow individuals to necessarily rise up from, the pit of want in which they may be mired.

Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim, seems to grasp this as evidenced by the following comments:

“Our concept is more to accomplish and solve things, rather than giving; that is, not going around like Santa Claus,” said Slim, as he cracked jokes, smoked a cigar and outlined business plans at a rare news conferences. “Poverty isn’t solved with donations.”

I’m certain that Slim’s musings will be pilloried by the do gooders.

Mexican Billionaire Mocks Gates, Buffett

Posted by John Venlet on 03/13 at 02:15 PM
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Subprime Risks Coming Home to Roost

Subprime lending, is much in the news, currently.  Karen DeCoster has recently noted this here, and I myself had a few comments on the subject here, and here.

Having a rather intimate knowledge of this field of lending, I am not surprised at the current subprime lending industry travails.  Some rather large subprime lenders, in addition to New Century Financial Corp., are going to be stretched to the breaking point.

Here’s an interesting piece written by Paul McCulley, titled The Plankton Theory Meets Minsky, which delves into why this current subprime mess is finally congealing.  From McCulley’s piece.

The ongoing meltdown in the sub-prime mortgage market would not matter, except for those directly involved, except that it marks the unraveling of Ponzi finance units that, on the margin, were the plankton of the bubbling property sea of recent years. As the bubble was forming, riding on first-time homebuyers with first-time access to credit on un-creditworthy terms, and first-time speculators riding the same with visions of bigger first-time fools to take them out, all looked well. But as Minsky warned, stability is ultimately destabilizing, as those who require perpetual asset price appreciation to make book are forced to sell to make book. Such is reality presently in the U.S. residential property market, which has flipped from a sellers’ market on the wings of buyers with exotic mortgages to a buyers’ market of only the creditworthy.

The whole thing is worth a read.

Thanks for the heads up on this, Pfeif.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/13 at 10:59 AM
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Friday, March 09, 2007

Not Fit for Consumption

This country of ours, America, at one time held in high regard self sufficiency, independence, from state interference in our individual lives.

Today, though, the ever increasing reach of the state, nannying, is proclaimed as the be all and end all to America’s supposed ills.  Regulate this, regulate that, and if regulation doesn’t work, tax, tax, tax, the cat o’ nine tails of the professional jobholders, stripes our backs with ever increasing frequency for an ever increasing number of state imposed boondoggles, for our own good of course.

One of the more current “wars” for which the state desires to impose funding is the “obesity war,” and one of the latest clarion calls to be trumpeted in the so called obesity war has been issued by Deborah Cohen of the Rand Corporation.

Writing in the Washington Post, as part of the Post’s so called “Think Tank Town,” Ms. Cohen states the following as the supposed cause of too many fat people overgrazing at the food kiosks at the local mall and salivating uncontrollably at the local grocery:

The problem is the food industry, which provides us with the calories we consume but washes its hands of responsibility for causing the worldwide obesity epidemic. Food industry marketers say they are only offering people what they want and that individuals choose what they put in their mouths.

Those damned food marketers, sugar coating their offerings with magic incantations which cause us to mindlessly purchase and consume their wares, even if we’re not hungry, at least according to Ms. Cohen.

Food marketers test whether the color, the font size of words and the images used to market food will grab our attention by studies of eye movement. They conduct focus groups to come up with catchy names and symbols that recall positive memories and thoughts to condition a response that may lead us to purchase their products. And food marketers work to increase the frequency with which we see their products and their presence in stores, wanting to make their products always available.

Naturally, Ms. Cohen’s solution requires the state.

A wiser choice would be to demand that government bring more regulation to the food environment, making sure that what is available is healthy, and that the contents of foods are transparent and easily understandable, even to those who are illiterate. Such regulation could reduce the magnitude of flawed decision-making by individuals by presenting us with healthier choices. And such regulation is literally a matter of life and death.

Pay particular attention to Ms. Cohen’s assertion in bold type above.  Does not this assertion negate Ms. Cohen’s initial argument, the first quote noted above, that The problem is the food industry…?

Ms. Cohen’s assertions, in her piece titled A Desired Epidemic: Obesity and the Food Industry, are not fit for consumption.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/09 at 01:46 PM
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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Quote

In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

Mark Twain

Posted by John Venlet on 03/06 at 08:56 AM
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Monday, March 05, 2007

Constructing Little Socialists, Legos Not Included

Have you heard about the Hilltop Children’s Center, located in Seattle?

The center, which was originally launched as a high end daycare provider, is a private non-profit institution.  Recently, the center decided that the children under their cognizance should learn a little lesson regarding the supposed evils of private property ownership.

A ban was initiated at the Hilltop Children’s Center in Seattle. According to an article in the winter 2006-07 issue of “Rethinking Schools” magazine, the teachers at the private school wanted their students to learn that private property ownership is evil.

According to the article, the students had been building an elaborate “Legotown,” but it was accidentally demolished. The teachers decided its destruction was an opportunity to explore “the inequities of private ownership.” According to the teachers, “Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation.”

I wonder if the Hilltop Children’s Center teachers are fully cognizant of the fact that if their little utopia was actually realized, their little private daycare enterprise would be demolished, just like the little kids “Legotown?”

Blockquote above taken from Maureen Martin’s story L’Eggo My Lego which was posted at TCS Daily.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/05 at 07:47 PM
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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Barack Obama and Britney Spears, Irrelavent

On March 2nd, 2007 Drudge put up a little headline which read PAPER: OBAMA ANCESTORS OWNED SLAVES…  The link directed you to a article which reported that Obama’s great-great-great-great grandfather, and great-great-great-great-great grandmother owned a couple of slaves.

That story has about as much relavance to our lives as Britney Spears shaving her head and checking in and out of various rehabs.  Ho, hum.

Posted by John Venlet on 03/04 at 02:17 PM
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Defying the State, A Civil Disobedience Right

The continued intrusion of the state into our individual lives, in most instances, is simply given lip service by individuals who supposedly decry the state’s intrusion.

Rather than actively defying the state through individual actions, many individuals simply acquiesce to the state’s intrusions, moaning and groaning to be sure, but none-the-less complying with the state’s decrees which continue to erode our individual liberties.

Smoking is one of those individual rights which is under continual attack by the state.  Ban, after ban, after ban are being enacted by the state, across America, in addition to tax after tax levied on tobacco products as part of the state’s attempt to control our individual lives.

Are the days long gone wherein free men defied the state by actions rather than simply words?

Not necessarily.  In Hawaii, I am pleased to see that some individual bar owners are defying the state enacted no smoking ban by allowing their customers to smoke in their bars.  I applaud them, and recognize that their actions, in defying the state’s intrusion into their private businesses, are as noteworthy as the events of the Boston Tea Party.

I can only hope that these Hawaii bar owners’ act of defiance of the state will spread the same spirit of resistance further into this country of ours, which is sinking under the burden of state control of our individual lives.

Smokers really light into Hawaii’s ban - Some bar owners defy strict new law; enforcement lax

Posted by John Venlet on 03/04 at 12:30 PM
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