Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hippies, Tea Partiers, Freedom

Over at The New Clarion, Jim May analyzes the essay The Electric Tea Party Acid Test, which was penned by an individual hiding behind the pseudonym Zombie and posted at Pajamas Media.

May’s analysis is titled Unchaining the Good: Liberty and Tabula Rasa, and I found May’s analysis, which is a gentle deconstruction of Zombie’s essay, very well done.

Read Zombie’s essay first, and then go read May’s response, both are well worth your time, and the essays will both take up a bit of your time.

May ends his essay with the following words, and I think they make for an excellent quote of the day.

Liberty, therefore, is not about chaining the evil; it is about unchaining the good.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/21 at 02:03 PM
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Need 20 Reasons Why Not to Vote?

Wendy McElroy posts John and Ned Roscoe’s Don’t Vote.  20 Practical Reasons.

Reason number 7 is the only principled reason.

7. You think it’s immoral to impose your view on others. You believe the best course of action will be decided by individuals without government interfernce.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/21 at 09:25 AM
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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why Work?

The following quote, uttered by one Acy Cooper Jr., vice president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, clearly illuminates the lack of work ethic in America when someone else is paying an individual’s way, in this case BP.

“Why? It don’t pay me to do that when they’re going to pay my claim anyway,...”

Taken from a Washington Post piece titled Six months after the spill, BP’s money is changing the gulf as much as its oil.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/20 at 04:19 PM
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Lacking Willpower, and More Importantly, Principles

Drudge has recently begun counting the hours until the November 2 vote, earning himself a “The Whip of Week” post by Billy Beck when Drudge posted this headline.

336 HOURS: SPEAKER FACES FORECLOSURE ON HOUSE

But individuals should face the facts, “This November Doesn’t Matter”, because voting Americans, and their yet unelected political “saviors,” are stuck in a continuous loop, lacking both the willpower, and the principles, to decidely effect any real change in American style democracy.

Donald Sensing articulates the willpower issue in a piece at RightNetwork titled What Do Voters Really Want?, with a sub-headline which reads Simple. The same thing. Only different. (bold by ed.)

That sub-headline in bold says it all, actually, but Donald Sensing further articulates on this in the following manner.

There is no shortage of voters who say they want the federal budget cut and the size of government reduced. What they (okay, we) really mean is, “I want the federal programs and agencies that benefit me to stay intact and the ones that benefit someone else to be slashed like it’s Halloween night in a horror movie.”

Almost 30 years ago, Senate Majority leader Howard Baker (R.-Tenn.) asked the other 99 senators asking them to identify cuts of 5-10 percent in federal spending in their home states. Most senators agreed that the budget should be cut. Not one agreed that a cut could be made in their own states.

Sensing then ends his piece this way.

Will you accept a 10 percent reduction in your federally-sponsored benefits (schools, highways, direct payments, name it)? Will I? And if we will, will the representatives and senators we send to Washington next month have the will to push it through?

I am not persuaded the answer is yes, though I hope I’m wrong.

Lacking willpower and principles, I can predict what’s going to happen after this coming November’s vote.  “Simple.  The same thing.  Only different.”  In other words, nothing.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/20 at 03:18 PM
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“The More They Watched, The Less They Knew”

Jomama, at to herd or not to herd, in a post titled Surprise, surprise.., points to a John Pilger talk from August 2007 titled Freedom Next Time, which is a nod to Pilger’s book of the same title.

Jomama points to the transcript of Pilger’s talk with this quote.

One of my favorite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by the host for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What is the secret?”

The title to my post, also taken from Pilger’s talk, is attributed to one Danny Schecter, and reflects my opinion of the result of individuals’ reliance on the mainstream media for “neutral, official, information.”

The transcript of Pilger’s talk will take a bit of time to read through, and there are portions of Pilger’s talk which require thorough winnowing, but for the most part taking the time to read the transcript will be time well spent.

Here are a couple of more quotes which I have winnowed from the transcript.

Real information, subversive information, remains the most potent power of all—and I believe that we must not fall into the trap of believing that the media speaks for the public. That wasn’t true in Stalinist Czechoslovakia and it isn’t true of the United States.

Last, but certainly not least.

We need to make haste. Liberal Democracy is moving toward a form of corporate dictatorship. This is an historic shift, and the media must not be allowed to be its façade, but itself made into a popular, burning issue, and subjected to direct action. That great whistleblower Tom Paine warned that if the majority of the people were denied the truth and the ideas of truth, it was time to storm what he called the Bastille of words. That time is now.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/20 at 11:19 AM
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

It’s Not An Incandescent Lightbulb, Officer, It’s a Heatball

One of various State’s more recent “green” initiatives, or nor so bright ideas, has been the attempts to legislate out of existence various wattages of incandescent lightbulbs.

A German mechanical engineer, Siegfried Rotthaeuser, in an example of entrepreneurial spirit, sharp eyed reading of preemptive legislation banning various incandescents, and engineering analysis, has run an end around said legislation by marketing the legislative offending incandescents as heatballs.

Siegfried Rotthaeuser and his brother-in-law have come up with a legal way of importing and distributing 75 and 100 watt light bulbs—by producing them in China, importing them as “small heating devices” and selling them as “heatballs.”...

Rotthaeuser studied EU legislation and realized that because the inefficient old bulbs produce more warmth than light—he calculated heat makes up 95 percent of their output, and light just 5 percent—they could be sold legally as heaters.

Rotthaeuser also creatively markets the heatballs.

On their website (HEATBALL®), the two engineers describe the heatballs as “action art” and as “resistance against legislation which is implemented without recourse to democratic and parliamentary processes.”

Though I admire Rotthaeuser’s “resistance against legislation” marketing angle, and “action art” twist, I do not care for his nod to democratic and parliamentary processess as an alleged justification for their being available for sale.  The only measure of success or failure of sales of incandescent lightbulbs should be the demand of individual customers.

German “heatball” wheeze outwits EU light bulb ban

Posted by John Venlet on 10/16 at 08:42 AM
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moral Quandry for Real

Unlike trolleyology, wherein credentialed philosophers present moral quandry scenarios which, though not impossible, are improbable, Karen DeCoster, in a post titled Can You Shoot a 12-Year-Old?, presents a moral quandry based in reality.

The reality took place in Detroit, and was blogged about at Time’s The Detroit Blog in a post titled How Do You Shoot A 12-Year-Old?  Karen condenses the moral quandry, based on this news story, as follows.

The author of this interesting Time piece muses on the thought of killing a “child” who threatens to kill you by showing that he, at 5′ 10″ (hardly childlike), is carrying a gun and means business. Two kids – maybe eleven, maybe twelve, who knows – decided to carjack a woman and her mother in their driveway at the point of a gun, in Harper Woods, Michigan, a suburb of Wayne County that borders Detroit. The author notes that a friend of his remarked, in response, “The first thing I thought is, I would’ve shot ‘em.”

I, also, thought to myself I would’ve shot ‘em, regardless of their “little boy” appearances, which is how the perps were described within the news story, and blog post referencing the story.

This is not to say that I would not have felt some compunction over taking a life, especially such a young life, but the fact of the matter is that only individuals living in a fantasy world can consider 12 year olds as “little boys,” or little girls for that matter, with no grasp of consequences for their actions.

Though thirty-eight years have passed by since I was 12 years old, at that age I was not considered a “little boy” by my parents, nor did I consider myself a little boy at the age of 12.  Though I lacked the maturity at the age of 12 that I now have, at the age of 12 I, like most 12 year olds, had a mind of my own and I used it, sometimes to my detriment.

Society, with the full encouragement of the State, may consider 12 year olds as little, but they are not.  12 year olds are simply immature, young adults who in many cases are lacking real world lessons in consequences for their actions in result of excessive coddling.

UPDATE:  I see that Billy Beck beat me to Karen’s post.  Go and read Billy’s thoughts.  His post is titled No Problem.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/13 at 01:14 PM
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

“This November Doesn’t Matter”

The title to this post is a quote taken from Billy Beck’s most recent post, which is titled Notes On A Desperate Futility.

Billy’s post deals with voting, the “desperate futility” referenced.  What follows is an excerpt from Billy’s post, but one should read the entire post, it’s not long, and then consider it long and hard.

In brief; the problems that must be solved before this culture is driven inexorably to its knees—and beyond—are the products of democracy. Their increasing prominence into crisis cannot be halted by the long process of democratic and legislative accretion that got us here. This is a trap, in the same way that a spelunker can very nicely get himself down into a crack that he cannot get up and out of.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/12 at 03:38 PM
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Continous Loop

I have not written, much, here lately.  It’s not that I do not see, or more accurately read about, the events spinning around us which normally would provoke a plethora of commentaries from myself, it’s just that even with my most recent extended absence somewhat abating, I find that returning to a daily contribution to these pages seems akin to slapping an old, scratched vinyl record, which I know will only play in a continuous loop, skrich, continous loop, skrich, continous loop, skrich, on a turntable in the misbegotten hope that now, somehow, the old scratched vinyl will play cleanly through.

The news stories we read, the admonitions to vote, the political soundbites from right, left and tea party dreamers, all play in that annoying, scratched record continuous loop.

Nothing will change in the upcoming elections, except the names of the individuals wielding the alleged political magic wands, irregardless of the promises mouthed, recorded and played in a continuous loop.  These political magic wands will still be waved over all Americans, spreading their deadly force collected magic dust here, instead of there, or there, instead of here, in response to the current loudest squawkings emanating from the flavor of the day collective.  American individuals are stuck in a continuous, collective loop of political tomfoolery, swallowing whole, with hardly a need for a spoonful of sugar, empty political promises, though they know the promises are void even as they dribble from political wannabe saviors’ mouths.

I’m tired of the continuous loop.  I want to hear something different, something real.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/11 at 10:12 AM
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The Coming Measure of Your Health

In an MSNBC piece headlined Western Pacific faces toll from “lifestyle” diseases, one can glimpse government run health care’s future measure of your health, your “economic productivity.”

Western Pacific countries face an increasing economic toll from mainly preventable illnesses such as strokes, heart disease and diabetes, a World Health Organization official said on Sunday…

“Developing countries in the region are losing an increasing number of people who are still economically productive, so NCD is no longer just a health problem but an economic one,”...

Posted by John Venlet on 10/11 at 08:02 AM
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Man at My Front Door - Honesty in the End

When I last wrote a few words regarding The Man at My Front Door, back in April, I noted that I wished I had pierced the man’s anonymity, by asking the man his name.  Additionally, I noted that I hoped that the man would knock at my front door in the future, though not in a state of need.

About two months ago, my wish was fulfilled, though not my hope.  The man at my front door came calling once again.

It was early evening, warm and pleasant, so the front door was open wide as I sat reading, legs stretched across the couch, the dog sprawled out in repose, when a quiet knock sounded against the screen door.  The quiet knock barely registered in my reading engrossed hearing, but thundered in the dog’s ears, who instantly was on guard, repose forgotten, sounding the strangers are at hand barks as she bolted to the screen door.

I set my book aside, with my usual annoyance at interruption, and approached the screen door, and there he stood once again.  I smiled when I saw him, opened the door, put out my hand, and said, “Well, here you are again.”  The man readily shook my hand, smiled his tenative smile, and said, “Yep, here I am again.”

As we disengaged from our handshake, I mentioned to the man that I had wished for just this opportunity, informing him that I had even written a few words about out last encounter, emphasizing that my wish was to know his name.  The man seemed a bit surprised by this, but stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Oliver Y______.”  “Oliver,” I said, “I’m pleased to know your name.  My name is John Venlet.  Now, what are you doing here, again, tonight?”

Oliver looked at me and said, “Can you loan me fifteen dollars so I can get to Kalamazoo?”  Now, lending a man a few dollars, such as I did the last time we interacted, is really no big thing, but fifteen dollars, though still in reality a trifling thing to me, not due to an excess of wealth mind you, is another matter, so I said to Oliver, “Oliver, what do you need fifteen dollars for, and how do I know, for certain, that you’ll pay me back?”

Oliver responded by informing me that he needed the fifteen dollars so he could catch the Greyhound bus to Kalamazoo because his grandchild had died.  Though I did not say this to Oliver, I thought to myself that either this man is a consumate story teller for profit, playing upon my past goodwill, or genuinely a man down on his luck and in need, with a semblance of human pride remaining in his life which prevents him from succumbing to the indignities of the government’s disguised largesse.

What I did say to Oliver was, “Oliver, are you telling me the truth, and how do I know that you’ll really pay me back?  Lending you fifteen bucks is quite different than lending you a few bucks.”  Oliver responded, quite sincerely it seemed to me, that yes his grandchild had died, and that he did not have the means to get to Kalamazoo without my help, to which I replied, “Okay, I believe you’re telling me the truth about your grandchild dying, Oliver, but how do I know you’ll pay me back the fifteen dollars?”  To which Oliver replied, “I give you my word.”

I responded to Oliver’s statement by telling him that a man’s word was one of man’s most important possessions, and that if all he had to give me in receipt for a loan of fifteen dollars was his word, my lending him fifteen dollars,and his subsequent repayment would be the measure of his word, or my gullibility, and reached into my pocket.

When I pulled out my money clip, I thumbed through the cash I had at hand, and noted that I only had a couple of one’s, a ten spot, and a few twenties, so I peeled off a twenty dollar bill and offered it to Oliver with the words, “Here’s twenty bucks, Oliver, do you give me your word that you’ll pay it back?”  Oliver replied, “I give you my word.  I’ll come by this weekend, after I get paid, and pay you back.”  We shook hands to seal the deal.

“Good,” I said to Oliver, “I’ll look for you, but if I’m not here, just slip the twenty into my mailbox with a note and we’ll be square.”  “And Oliver,” I said, “I’m sorry to hear about your grandchild, and may the grace of God be with you and your family in your sorrow.”

Oliver departed after our exchange, and I returned to my reading.  Later in the evening, while talking to the Lovely Melis on the phone, I told her about this most recent visit with the man at my front door, and as we discussed the events with Oliver, past and present, we both felt that Oliver would be by the coming weekend with the twenty dollars owed, though I did express some doubts to the Lovely Melis regarding Oliver’s honesty.

Well, that weekend came, and went, with no repayment from Oliver.  This initially did not concern me in the least, as I considered Oliver’s cares to possibly have been too pressing to enable him to return to my home so soon after the loss of his grandchild.  I figured that the following week, or after Oliver’s next paycheck, repayment would be forthcoming.  Anticipating this, I attempted to ensure that I was home most evenings, just in case Oliver came by, but I also faithfully checked my mailbox daily, just in case Oliver happened by while I was out or otherwise engaged.

Well, one week, then two weeks, then two months went by and no Oliver.  I could only consider that I had been had.  That my kindnesses to Oliver had been considered tapped out by Oliver, that my gullibility had been stretched as far as it was going to be stretched, and his face would darken my doorway no more, so I chalked it up to experience and continued living.

As I continued living, last week Tuesday I headed out to pick up an Anjeo and a baquette.  As I wound my may to one of my favorite local stores, taking the city’s side streets, who should I pass walking down the street but Oliver, carrying a hedge clippers and a rake.  When I espied him, Oliver was heading the opposite direction I was.  He on foot, and I in my truck.  When I recognized Oliver, I was initially simply chagrined, shaking my head and admonishing myself for my gullibility as I passed him by intent on my stated task, but I quickly changed my mind, turned my truck around and headed back in the direction Oliver had been walking.

I soon had Oliver in my sight once again and pulled to the side of the street, ahead of and opposite Oliver.  I exited the truck, strolled across the street, and walked casually up to Oliver, put out my hand and said, “Hi, Oliver, remember me, and the twenty bucks I lent you?  You gave me your word that you would pay it back.”

Oliver at first appeared a bit confused by my sudden appearance, but recognition soon dawned on his face, and he said, “Yeah, I remember you, but you’ll have to remind me about the twenty dollars.”  So I refreshed Oliver’s memory, and asked him what happened to his promise to repay me, reminding him that he had given me his word, and that I did not take a man’s word lightly, gently chastising him for his failure, asking him, also, whether he had lied to me about his grandchild dying.

Oliver was apologetic for his failure, affirming to me the truth of his need when last we met.  I accepted Oliver’s apology and affirmation of the truth of his need, but also stated that I was disappointed in the lack of truth in his word, ending my upbraiding of him with the words, “Oliver, you can make yourself a man, but if your word is not reflected in your actions, you are not a man giving your word, but a sweet talking thief giving lies for ill gotten profit.”

Oliver listened respectively, and when I finished, he stated that he would make good on his word by immediately coming to my home to rake some leaves, or performing some other chores to recompense my loan to him, but I simply told Oliver to forget it, that I considered the twenty dollars previously lent him gone and forgiven, shook his hand, walked backed to my truck and returned to my earlier stated errand.

When I returned home, I informed the Lovely Melis about my encounter with Oliver, and stated that I doubted we’d be seeing Oliver again in the future, unless by chance on the street, and I also informed her that I doubted I would quite so readily be open with my kindness in the future.  End of story, right?  No.

Last night, around 8:30 P.M., while mindlessly relaxing with a moving picture, the doorbell rings, and who should be at my front door but Oliver.  I greet Oliver politely, and ask him what he is doing at my door, as I am disinclined to conduct any business with him, and most assuredly will not lend him any money.  Oliver says to me that he honestly desires to repay me the twenty dollars originally loaned to him, and while I appreciate that Oliver feels this as an obligation, because I consider the twenty dollars as lost, though forgiven as a debt, he and I no longer have any need for conversation.

Upon hearing these thoughts, Oliver states to me, what I think, is the honest reason for his visit, saying, “Can you help a man get a forty?”  So I say to Oliver, “Oliver, I cannot give you money to support what is evidently your habit.  You come to my door, again, asking for money, when in reality you still owe me twenty bucks.  You cannot expect me to do this.”

Oliver immediately begins quietly pleading with me to allow him rake my front yard, or do something, to earn a bit of change, and possibly regain my respect.  I tell Oliver that its dark out and I’m watching movie, that his request cannot be met and is unreasonable due to the time of day, but he so earnestly pleads with me that I go to the garage and grab him a rake and tell him to have it, and we’ll discuss his situation when he’s done with the front yard.

Twenty minutes later, Oliver knocks at the front door and I step out onto the porch and inspect Oliver’s work.  The front yard is in good order, for being raked in the dark, so I say to Oliver, “Thank you Oliver, the yard looks good, let’s say that your twenty dollar loan is now repaid in full, though the buck a minute rate was a bit more than I would usually pay for such work.”

Oliver thanks me, but then says, again, “Can you help a man get a forty?”  So I say to Oliver, “Oliver, I have one dollar in my money clip, and I hesitate to give it to you, even though I know it will not cover the cost of a forty, but I am going to give you that dollar because I think that you still have some respect for yourself inside of you.  I cannot, and will not, tell you what to do with your life, that’s for you to decide, but I hope that you do something other with this dollar than apply it to the purchase of a forty.”

Oliver takes the dollar from me with a slight shrug and heads off down the street.  Will I see Oliver again.  I may or may not.  If he comes to my door again asking for work, I will employ and pay him, if I have available work, but if he comes to my door for a loan, he will find no generousity.  If I see Oliver on the street, I will stop and inquire into his well being, offering him encouragement to live, honestly, as a friend should.

Posted by John Venlet on 10/09 at 12:49 PM
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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Recognition of Bad Bridges and Failing Banks - A Quote

The following quote was taken from this interview of John Allison, former CBO of BB&T, and was linked via Samizdata.

“It is true that individual financial institutions made bad decisions. In my opinion, they should have been allowed to go out of business—that would have been the proper way for them to be handled. However, their decisions were secondary to government policy. It should be remembered that the Federal Reserve owns the monetary system in the United States; we do not have a private monetary system. In 1913, our monetary system was nationalized. If you’re having problems in the monetary system—which is where the problems in the economy began—they are, by definition, government problems. This is analogous to interstate highway bridges falling down: If interstate highway bridges were falling down, everyone would recognize that the government owns the highways and conclude that this is a government-caused problem. Well, the government owns the monetary system, and the errors by the Federal Reserve are the foundations of the financial problems we’ve experienced.”

Posted by John Venlet on 10/07 at 07:26 AM
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