Sunday, May 23, 2010

Beaten with the Ugly Stick

Individuals come in all flavors.  Tall and short, fat and thin, dark skinned or light skinned, etcetera, etcetera.  And let’s not forget looks, attractive or ugly.  There is no doubt that if an individual is attractive, certain benefits may accrue to such an individual, and the reverse can be true for an individual who is considered ugly, but let’s not forget that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as can be rather clear when one walks down a pedestrian crowded street.

Now comes Standford law professor Deborah L. Rhode, who appears not to have beaten with the ugly stick, but may have been whacked by it once or twice, promoting establishment of new legislation to ban discrimination based on appearance.

Just like racial or gender discrimination, discrimination based on irrelevant physical characteristics reinforces invidious stereotypes and undermines equal-opportunity principles based on merit and performance…

So why not simply ban discrimination based on appearance?

Yeah, good luck with that, Deborah L. Rhode.  You may as well promote poking every individuals’ eyes out.

Why looks are the last bastion of discrimination

Linked via a John J. Miller post at The Corner titled Liberalism’s Final Frontier, which he follows up with this post mentioning Harrison Bergeron.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/23 at 07:48 AM
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Whose on First? - The Money Quote of the Day

Mike Soja provides the links to the money quote of the day, with video (2:44).

How can broke economies lend money to other broke economies who haven’t got any money because they can’t pay back the money the broke economy lent to the other broke economy and shouldn’t have lent it to them in the first place because the broke economy can’t pay back?

Posted by John Venlet on 05/22 at 04:42 PM
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“Emotional Loyalty” or Reality Based Living

A quote from an Arnold Kling piece titled Virtual Federalism which was inspired by an idea put forth by Tyler Cowen regarding the Israelis and Palestinians living together in close proximity.

The key, I think, is to transfer people’s emotional attachment from their government to something else, like a religious sect, ethnic identity, or a sports team. You can have Yankee fans and Red Sox fans living next door to one another without infringing on each others’ rights. It’s when people give their emotional loyalty to government that you get friction.

I understand what Kling is driving at, but I think it would be wiser, upon individuals shedding their emotional loyalty to government, that they would embrace reality based living, and leave their emotions totally out of the equation.

Linked via Jonathan Wilde at The Distributed Republic.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/22 at 09:27 AM
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If You Build It, They Will Come

Taking their cue from the movie Field of Dreams, the federal government is attempting to steal 4.9 acres of land from the Rainville family, in Morses Line, Vermont.

You see, there is a small border crossing, Morses Line Porty of Entry, located basically in the middle of the Rainville’s diary farm.  A border crossing so quaint that maybe seventy-five (75) cars pass through each day, and the federal government, in their haste to spend every dollar they do not have, desires to build a $7 million dollar border crossing station showhouse.  But the government needs the Rainville’s land to do so, and the Rainvilles do not want to sell out for the paltry sum being offered for the 4.9 acres, so the feds are considering exercising eminent domain to force their possession of the Rainville’s land.

I would think that it is rather clear that building a $7 million dollar port of entry showhouse for 75 cars a day is ridiculous.  And I would also think it is clear that the federal government’s willingness to exercise eminent domain to steal the Rainville’s land in order to move forward with their ridiculous plan is not only a travesty, but a display of excess which is readily understandable.

I would hope that the Rainvilles understand this is just another federal government boondoggle, and that would not sell at any price, as the sale of their land to erect this border crossing showhouse would simply encourage additional acts of stupidity by the State.

Vermont family fights to protect farm from government takeover

Linked via a Mark Steyn post at The Corner titled That Ain’t Hay, It’s The USA.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/22 at 08:36 AM
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Reality for Tesla “True Believers”

The following headline is one of the first to catch my eye this morning.  Tesla beckons to the true believers.

If you hit the link to the story, you’ll read that Tesla Motors has finagled a $50 million dollar cash infusion from Toyota Motor Corp, and that Tesla is hoping to soon float an IPO.

I’ve previously written about Telsa in posts here and here, but this morning I’d like to address the following questions which the “true believers” are evidently asking, because unlike The X Files: I Want to Believe, the answers are out there.

Are the cars reliable? What’s their driving range? Do they require a network of recharging stations to keep them on the road? And do they offer the kind of basic, bottom-line transportation value needed to attract mainstream buyers in a tough market?

Question number one asks, are the cars reliable?  Well, they are for at least 244 miles, as that is the driving range for the Tesla, which also covers question number two in the list.  Question number three asks if Tesla vehicles require a network of charging stations.  Not necessarily, but owners of the vehicles will definitely need to plug them in to charge up the batteries, and it might be wise to for Tesla owners to carry around a long, heavy duty extension cord, a good book, a computer or some other time passing activity, as it can take over ten (10) hours for the vehicles batteries to recharge.

But question number four, “And do they offer the kind of basic, bottom-line transportation value needed to attract mainstream buyers in a tough market?”, is the most important question, and with a starting price of around 60K, running up to 130K, I think the answer to the question is a emphatic “No.”

Here’s Car and Driver’s take on the Telsa.

So, true believers, there is some reality for you to chew on, or you can click on the X-Files link and enjoy the show.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/22 at 07:46 AM
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Scott Brown - Just Another One of the Guys

Even prior to Scott Brown’s election win, in a post I titled Scott Brown Giddiness, I said,

...A battle may be won if Brown is elected; defeating ObamaCare (DeathCare); but the war is still lost because sooner or later Brown will be voting to take something that is not his, your money or your freedom, to redistribute to someone else, in collusion with the rest of the professional jobholders in Washington D.C., no matter what party mantle they currently have strewn about their shoulders, just as Coakley currently does.

Upon his election, I noted Malone Vandam’s words on Scott Brown’s election.

While you were celebrating Scott Brown’s win…

…in Massachusetts, the monsters in power were up all night moving their armor.

If you think otherwise, you don’t know what you are fighting…

The election of Scott Brown is a kitchen sink thrown in front of a freight train.

A mere thirty-five (35) days after Scott Brown’s election, Brown voted with the Democrats, and Mike Soja noted Brown’s words about the “people’s seat.

Now we know to which “people’s” he was referring with his “people’s seat”, alá The People’s Republic of the Politically Connected.

And today we read this about Scott Brown of he’s gonna save America renown.

Most of us who believe that Washington should get out of the way of the economy were thrilled in January when Republican Scott Brown pulled an upset win and took Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat. But now Brown has betrayed us.

He was the swing vote who made it possible Thursday for Senate Democrats to pass a financial regulation bill that pretty much hands control of the banking industry over to government.

To add insult to injury, as recently as Wednesday, Brown said in a statement that it was “a flawed bill.” So why did he go over to the dark side and help them pass it?

Can the writer of those words, Donald Luskin, actually be asking that question in a serious manner?  Scott Brown is just another one of the guys.  Those guys in Congress who have been screwing America every chance they get.

Luskin’s piece, at, is titled What Was Scott Brown Thinking?

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 05:46 PM
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Elbowing In - Lessons from a Visit to a Bar

Billy Beck schools Jake Berliner on private property and racism in a post titled Why Can’t You Mind Your Own Business, Berliner?

Billy’s post takes you from The Elbow Room, in Gary, Indiana, running over the “steel-patchouli do-goodery” of Berliner, to a principled ending.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 01:07 PM
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Intelligence, Love, Faith and Idiots

I think most individuals would agree that certain individuals have been blessed with higher intelligence than others.  I also think that most individuals would agree that there are individuals who are worth loving, and others who are not worth loving.  Faith, is a bit more problematic, as some individuals have faith, while others do not, which, for myself at least, has no bearing on whether the individual is worth loving.  As for idiots, most individuals would agree that there are idiots out and about in the world, too many I think, but how should individuals treat these idiots, especially if the individuals, as I do, express that they have faith?

Vox Day ponders on this subject in a post titled Mailvox: where is the love?, in response to an email he received chastising him for expressing his opinion on idiots, which is worth reading, and this second to the last paragraph of Day’s response sums it up quite nicely.

But getting back to KC’s primary point, I see no love in indulging the idiocy of others and none in enabling idiotic behavior either. I believe the Biblical model is to speak the truth, to provide a clear warning of consequences, and then to let those who willfully choose or are for one reason or another doomed to idiocy experience the full and unmitigated consequences of their actions.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 12:52 PM
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About That “Contract from America”

Are you aware that a “new” Contract from America is being circulated by tea party individuals?  I must not have been paying close enough attention, but indeed there is such a contract circulating out there, and if you click that link to the contract, you’ll see a photo of SC Third Congressional District Candidate Jeff Duncan (R) at the top of the page, which would indicate, to me at least, that the tea party movement is being co-opted, which I warned against in a post in April 2009 titled Tea Party - One Lump or Two?

Robert Greenslade takes a look at the “Contract from America” and comments on it, and its ten proposals, in a post titled Will the “Contract From America” Reform Government or Simply Validate the Usurpation of Power?  Unfortunately, it is the latter portion of the title to Greenslade’s post which tells the tale of the ten proposals within the contract.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 12:19 PM
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It Started in Kindergarten, That’s ODD

Over the years, my Mum kept files of information for all eight of her kids.  Photos, childish scribblings of love to her and Dad, other miscellaneous items, and school report cards.  It is the report cards that I find the most interesting, especially after reading this.

Today’s DSM defines “oppositional defiant disorder” as a pattern of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient and hostile behavior toward authority figures.” Symptoms include “often loses temper,” “often deliberately annoys people” or “is often touchy.” DSM omits this symptom: “is a teenager.”

That quote comes from a George F. Will piece in The Washington Post titled Handbook suggests that deviations from ‘normality’ are disorders, and if indeed this newest rendition of psychiatric disorders includes the above definition in the bible of alleged mental foibles, I would have been either drugged or institutionalized beginning at the tender age of five years old while in kindergarten.

You see each of my report cards, from kindergarten through twelfth grade, which I just took a peek at once again, thanks Mum, indicate that I was constantly questioning authority, sometimes hostilely, was defiant, disobedient, though I rarely lost my temper, occasionally deliberately annoyed people, especially teachers (I’m sorry I made you cry Miss VandenBosch), was never touchy, I took my lumps like a man, but I was definitely ODD (oppositional defiant disorder).  I’m actually quite proud of that.

Link to Will’s piece via a story at titled Now independent thinkers are considered diseased by psychiatry, which I was pointed to by Keep It Simple Survival.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 11:13 AM
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Things You Didn’t Know About “A Clockwork Orange”

I remember, quite clearly, seeing Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange for the first time.  I also recall reading the book, by Anthony Burgess.

What I did not know, is that the book shortchanged me, as the American version of the book, when published, eliminated the final, twenty-first chapter, and thus Kubrick’s film also shortchanged me, as Kubrick’s screenplay for the film is based on the American version of Burgess’ work.

I found this out after reading a post at the blog Straight White Guy titled Orange…, where I read this from Anthony Burgess’ foreword to the most recent American publishing of A Clockwork Orange.

Let me put this situation boldly. A Clockwork Orange has never been published entire in America. The book I wrote is divided into three sections of seven chapters each…

What happens in that 21st chapter? You now have the chance to find out. Briefly, my young thuggish protagonist grows up. He grows bored with violence and recognizes that human energy is better expended on creation than destruction. Senseless violence is a prerogative of youth, which has much energy but little talent for the constructive. Its dynamism has to find an outlet in smashing telephone kiosks, derailing trains, stealing cars and smashing thing and, of course, in the much more satisfactory activity of destroying human beings. There comes a time, however, when violence is seen as juvenile and boring. It is the repoirte of the stupid and ignorant. My young hoodlum comes to the revelation of the need to get something done in life - to marry, to beget children, to keep the orange of the world turning in the rookers of bog, or Hand of God, and perhaps even create something - music, say. After all, Mozart and Mendelssohn were composing deathless music in their teens or nadsats and all my hero was doing was razrezzing and giving the old in-out. It is with a kind of shame that this growing youth looks back on his devastating past. He wants a different kind of future…

I do not thing (sic) so because, by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. But if he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a Clockwork Orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with color and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this increasingly replacing both) The Almighty State. It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities. This is what the television news is all about. Unfortunately there is so much original sin in us all that we find evil rather attractive. To devastate is easier and more spectacular than to create. We like to have the pants scared off us by visions of cosmic destruction. To sit down in a dull room and compose the Missa Solemnis or The Anatomy of Melancholy does not make headlines or news flashes. Unfortunately my little squib of a book was found attractive to many because it was as odorous as a crate full of bad eggs with the miasma of original sin.

The entire foreward can be read at the link.

I’m going to have to find myself a British version of the book and reread.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 10:34 AM
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Pentagon Was Once a Cannabis Field

I was aware that commercial hemp production previously was an honorable business, and that the United States government previously grew cannabis, still does actually, but I was not aware that the Pentagon sits on what was once the State’s prime cannabis growing grounds.

Dewey, a botanist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wrote in detail about growing strains of hemp called Keijo, Chinamington and others on a tract of government land known as Arlington Farm, reports Manuel Roig-Franzia of the The Washington Post.

If the “Arlington” part of that name sounds familiar—as in Arlington National Cemetery—that’s because the acreage used to grow the hemp was handed over to the War Department in the 1940s for construction of the world’s largest office building: the Pentagon.

Here is the link to the Washington Post piece, the quote, above, was taken from this Toke of the Town piece.

Linked via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 10:03 AM
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Maybe It’s Lingering Altitude Sickness

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Thursday that he is a Marxist, yet credits capitalism for bringing new freedoms to the communist country that exiled him—China.

“Still I am a Marxist,” the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader said in New York, where he arrived with an entourage of robed monks and a heavy security detail to give a series of paid public lectures.

Marxism has “moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits,” the Dalai Lama, 74, said.


I’m a Marxist, says Dalai Lama

Via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 09:56 AM
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It’s the Voters Fault

David Brooks has an op-ed in the New York Times this morning which I am somewhat startled that the NYT editorial board allowed to be printed.  The op-ed is titled The Story of an Angry Voter.

Brooks presents readers with an imaginary individual, Ben, whom Brooks endows with actual American traits and values.  Studious, hardworking, earning his keep and living within his means.

As one reads further into Brooks’ op-ed, we uncover the actual lament which Brooks wishes to bring to readers attention, the lack of moderate political candidates, who, according to Brooks, would uphold the core values exhibited by Brooks’ imaginary Ben, as compared to the current crop of “outsider” political candidates, who will only scream at each other across the aisles of Congress, at least according to Brooks.

But it is the following paragraph from Brooks’ op-ed which I call your attention to.

In a few years’ time, Ben is going to be disappointed again. He’s going to find that the outsiders he sent to Washington just screamed at each other at ever higher decibels. He’s going to find that he and voters like him unwittingly created a political culture in which compromise is impermissible, in which institutions are decimated by lone-wolf narcissists who have no interest in or talent for crafting legislation. Nothing will get done. (bold by ed.)

Those words in bold, are quite telling, and bring to mind the following words from Billy Beck.

At this point of this disaster, there will be no voting our way out of it. The prevailing epistemology doesn’t permit it: there simply are not enough people out there who know how to think. The dominant ethics of the culture won’t have it: everybody wants to live at the expense of everyone else, and freedom is not a value in this country, anymore.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/21 at 09:28 AM
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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Census 2010 - Doug the Census Taker, the Veteran, the Individual

When I returned from fishing and camping yesterday afternoon, there was a Notice of Visit Form D-26 tucked between the screen door of my home, courtesy of Census 2010.

The form informed me that Doug ___ had stopped by the house, while I was out, and it provided a phone number where I could call Doug, if I was so inclined, the best time to reach Doug at the provided number, along with the address and phone number of the local census office.

Additionally, Form D-26, had seven (7) additional boxes, for “Enumerator Use Only” of course, with seven (7) coded numbers handwritten in the boxes; “LOC No.,” “ID No.,” “OP Code,” CLD No.,” “AA No.,” “Map Spot No.,” and “Block No.”  Evidently there was not enough room on the Form D-26 for the GPS coordinates of my home.

After quickly perusing Form D-26, I tossed it on the kitchen table and went about the business of unloading my gear and showering off two and one-half days of accumulated camping and fishing grime.  I knew Doug, or some other census taker, would be back.

So last night, after dropping off into a deep fatique nap on the couch due to late nights chasing trout and campfire enjoyment, at 8:15 P.M., the doorbell chimes one time.  I ignore it, hoping to drop back into the comfort of my nap.  Unfortunately, an insistent soft tapping at the door, and my barking dog, Elsa, rouse me.  I’m not pleased.

I go to the front door, and there stands Doug ___, the census taker.  I open the door, still grasping onto my napping state, and Doug jumps right into the census taker spiel, mentioning the Form D-26 he had left on Monday, and asking if I would have the time, now; it would only take ten (10) minutes max; to answer the census questions.

I informed Doug that I did not have the time, now, to answer the census questions.  Upon hearing my reply, Doug immediately asked if he could set an appointment to complete the census interview some time soon.  That is when I informed Doug that I would not be answering any of the census questions at any time as an expression of my disgust with the United States government as a form of polite civil disobedience.

Surprisingly, Doug accepted my reply with the simple statement, “So, I should put down on the census interview that you refuse to answer any questions?”  To which I replied, “Yes, but I would appreciate it if you would note that my non-cooperation is a form of civil disobedience meant to express my disgust with the United States government.”

Doug made no commitment to me that he would note my reason for not cooperating with the census, but simply thanked me, shook my hand, and left my front porch.  I returned to the comfort of my couch.

About five minutes later, there is a knocking at my front door, again, and it’s Doug.  I answer the knock, and immediately note that Doug has rid himself of his census taker’s badge, hat, and clipboard.  I ask, “What now, Doug?,” and Doug says to me, “I’m here to ask if I can take your flag.”  I had wondered if this would happen.

Anyway, upon asking that question, Doug launches into a short story about why he is aksing for my flag, informing me that he is a Vietnam era veteran and member of The American Legion, and that he would be happy to ensure proper disposal of my defiled American flag, emphasizing to me that he is asking in the capacity of a veteran and patriotic individual.  I thank Doug for his offer, but inform him that that decrepit flag is a visual symbol of my disgust with the United States government and also an expression of civil disobedience, and then I ask him to sit down and chat at length.  An offer Doug accepts.

As we sat and chatted, I shared with Doug the information that I was also a veteran, and articulated my individual reasons for not sharing information with him in his capacity of a census taker.  Doug’s ear was sympathetic, and also in agreement with some of the aspects of my words defining my refusal to complete the census, though I must state that he did attempt to get me to proxy inform on the next door neighbor’s house, for which I gently chided him, reminding him that he had shed that hat when he approached my door the second time to inquire about my flag.

Doug and I chatted for about ten or fifteen minutes total, and he ended his conversation with me by once more asking if he could dispose of my flag; the answer was no; and then stating that he would carry my refusal to his census superiors.  Doug also apologetically informed that he could not guarantee he would not be back, as he was uncertain as to how my specific reasons for refusing to complete the census would be taken by his superiors.  I told Doug that if he is forced to come back to knock at my door that I would greet him graciously and probably ask him to sit down and chat again for a few minutes, as long as he sheds his census taker persona.

Posted by John Venlet on 05/20 at 07:09 AM
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