Friday, December 31, 2010

New Source for Libertarian Reading

Karen De Coster notifies us of a new website offering news and commentary from a libertarian perspective.  The site is the American Daily Herald.  Karen will be a contributor.  Good luck to them, and continued success to Karen.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/31 at 02:43 PM
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Personal Responsibility Failure Assist

It’s New Year’s Eve, and individuals’ seduction by the coming New Year’s Day, which is actually just another day, will be celebrated by many to excess.  While I find nothing wrong with imbibing fine alcoholic libations to the point of exuding a fine glow and somewhat uninhibited interactions, and have done so on numerous celebrative occasions, I’ve only a couple times in my life exceeded my capacity for alcohol such that I needed to be protected from myself, or to be considered a danger to others.

I have a bit of a difficult time understanding why, exactly, individuals desire to drink to such an excess that they have no control over themselves, nor recollection of their actions while under the influence of too much alcohol, and because of this, I find assisting drunken fools in being drunken fools not as beneficial, but as a disservice.

Disservice case in point, this article.  8 high-tech ways to curb your New Year’s Eve drunkenness - Apps and mobile tricks to help keep you safe — from yourself

These suggested high-tech ways do not “curb” individuals’ drunkenness, but rather encourage drunkenness on a wholesale level, and are a personal responsibility failure assist.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/31 at 11:52 AM
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This morning’s New York Times has an op-ed written by David Brooks titled The Arena Culture.  The op-ed is part commentary on, well, the arena culture so prevalent in America, and part book review of Heubert Dreyfus and Sean Kelly’s new book All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age.

The arena culture in Brooks’ op-ed title can best be understood by reading this paragraph from the op-ed.

Spiritually unmoored, many people nonetheless experience intense elevation during the magical moments that sport often affords. Dreyfus and Kelly mention the mood that swept through the crowd at Yankee Stadium when Lou Gehrig delivered his “Luckiest Man Alive” speech, or the mood that swept through Wimbledon as Roger Federer completed one of his greatest matches.

In turn, Dreyfus and Kelly describe this mood thusly.

The most real things in life, they write, well up and take us over. They call this experience “whooshing up.” We get whooshed up at a sports arena, at a political rally or even at magical moments while woodworking or walking through nature. (bold by ed.)

I’m sorry, but I find Dreyfus and Kelly’s description less than rigorous, and hardly a contribution to philosophical discussion.  In fact, that whooshing Dreyfus and Kelly describe reminds me more of the extreme unpleasantness one experiences when overcome by a bout of whooshing, explosive diarrhea, after which, the sound of the whoosh of the toilet’s flushing, one’s mood may well be elevated and a new transcendence achieved.  Whoosh.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/31 at 09:23 AM
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Did Reason Begat Faith?

Faith and reason are mostly understood as being at odds with each other, for rationally understood reasons.  Faith embraces the supernatural world, the unseen and quite possibly unknowable, while reason embraces the natural world, the seen and definitely knowable, and the twain shall not meet.

Volumes have been written on the subject, from the earliest times of writing continuing on into today.  One of the more most recent contributions to the genre I have read is an essay written by Colin Wells.  Wells’ essay is titled How Did God Get Started?, and I found it a most interesting read, and you may find it so also, regardless of your proclivities for or against faith.  The essay is a bit long, almost 8,700 words, but it is entertainingly and intellectually penned.  A couple of excerpts.

Surprisingly, the pattern that fits best with the historical evidence locates the origins of faith in the rise of reason itself, and despite its novelty it does so in a way that I suspect will strike many readers as sensible and intuitive. This new synthesis in turn yields psychological insights into the issues of faith and reason that continue to bedevil us today—from public confrontations over evolution, abortion, and gay rights, to suicide bombings, West Bank settlements, and flying lessons in which students ominously disdain instruction in landing.


But faith is also a mobile citadel, a portable fortress. Having evolved precisely to occupy the territory inaccessible to reason, faith evolved mechanisms to move fluidly with the boundaries of that territory, or, as with apocalypticism, to blithely revise its truth claims about the imminent end of the world as fast as they’re discredited by the world’s contrarian perseverence. Faith’s quicksilver essence can never be rationally pinned down: the harder you press, the faster it squirts out from under your finger. Like the alien monster in countless movies, faith only gets stronger every time you shoot at it.

Wells’ piece is worth a read.

UPDATE: Neglected link attribute to Arts & Letters Daily.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/30 at 05:36 PM
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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Michael Vick, and Obama is Late to the Game

In a post from yesterday, titled a fair second chance, tjic comments on Obama’s shoutout to Michael Vick.  tjic does not think much of either Obama’s shoutout, or Vick’s dog fighting past, and ends his post with these words.

Filthy sub-humans (and by that, I mean both Vick, for his actions, and Obama, for defending Vick in even the slightest way).

When the Vick dogfighting story first broke, in July 2007, I called Vick scum, rather than sub-subman, and in August 2007, I noted Diana Hsieh’s pointing out the irrationality of Vick’s penchant for dog fighting.

The matter rested, then, at my blog at least, until December 2008, when in a post I titled Dog Killers and Michael Vick I said the following in response to a Radley Balko piece titled Puppycide.

Where’s the outrage over the number of dogs killed by cops as compared to the outrage exhibited over the fact that Michael Vick was fighting dogs to the death?

But to the matter at hand.  Many individuals are posturing over the fact that Obama did shoutout to Michael Vick in a congratulatory way for his play with the Philadelphia Eagles.  The posturing, in my opinion, is warranted against Obama, as Obama is only reaching out to Vick in the hope of burnishing his image; Vick’s life story, to date, is the quintessential American success story.

The posturing against Vick, though, I consider as unwarranted, and my reason for stating this was articulated in a August 2009 post I titled Michael Vick Stands on his Own Two Feet, wherein I noted Vick’s placing of blame for his dog fighting travails.

I blame me.

I blame me.  Those three simple words of acceptance of personal responsibility uttered by Vick were the catalyst for my stating the following.

It’s not often, any longer, that you will see an individual stand on his own two feet and acknowledge that their travails are their own rather than passing blame to spankings as a kid, or some such blather.

I hope Michael Vick achieves a new level of success as a quarterback for the Eagles.

I stand by those words, and continue to wish Michael Vick unprecedented success as a NFL football player, and as an individual.  Vick may yet fail or fall into despicable undertakings in the future, but I, for one, will not let his past cloud my judgement in regards to his present fortune.  Vick has paid his dues and accepted full personal responsibility for his past actions, what more do you want from him?

Posted by John Venlet on 12/29 at 11:23 AM
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Gun Control Fail

Does legislating access to firearms work?  No.

In all of Mexico, there is only one gun store. The shop, known officially as the Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales, is operated by the Mexican military. The clerks wear pressed green camouflage. They are soldiers.

The only gun store in Mexico is not very busy…

Mexico has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the world, a matter of pride for the nation’s citizens. Yet Mexico is awash in weapons…

From a Washington Post article titled In Mexico, only one gun store but no dearth of violence, linked via The Corner.

UPDATE: Corrected link to Washington Post story which was inadvertantly missing due to an html coding issue.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/29 at 11:03 AM
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Frederick Douglass Quotes

This morning, the New York Times has an interesting op-ed posted titled Cup of Wrath and Fire.

The op-ed, penned by Yale history teacher David Blight, gives an overview of Frederick Douglass’ views on seccession, particular to Douglass’ time, but more importantly, at least in my mind, was the snippet of a quote attributed to Douglass within the op-ed, on government and how government obtains and maintains its “legitimacy.”

Governments may be formed by the consent of the governed, Douglass reasoned, but they endured by authority and the preservation of order.  “Human governments are neither held together, nor broken up by such mild and gentle persuasives as are implied in the soft phrase—peaceful secession,” he argued.  “Theirs is a voice of command, not of persuasion.  They rest not upon paper, but upon power.  They do not solicit obedience as a favor, but compel it as a duty.”

The full quote, as posted here, was obtained from Douglass’ book Civil War - Keeping Faith in Jubilee, pg. 70 (link is to Google books), and it is worth considering today, when all Americans are being enslaved by the government.

Here are some additional Frederick Douglass quotes worth contemplating.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.


People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all they get.

And this.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Last, but not least.

The silver trump of freedom roused in my soul eternal wakefulness.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/29 at 10:11 AM
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shotgun Proficiency

Go watch the shotgun viddie Ed Rasimus posted (3:19).  Pretty impressive.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/28 at 02:48 PM
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fauxnarchists in Rome and Grand Rapids, Michigan

In Rome, this past week, bombs were delivered to various embassies, two of which severely injured individuals of no political importance, by which I mean the two individuals maimed by these bombs control none of the coercive State powers which individuals’ desirous of living without rule could legitmately consider as individuals who have initiated force against them.

After the Rome bombings, “anarchists” allegedly claimed “responsibility” for sending the bombs, the claim being made in a short message which reads as follows.

“Long live FAI, long live anarchy,”

FAI is an acronym for the Unofficial Anarchist Federation.  I would emphasis, here, “unofficial,” as the individuals who sent these bombs understand anarchy about as well as a two year old child understands that a temper tantrum is counterproductive to their desire.

Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, no bombs were delivered to offices which house politicians, but bricks were thrown at windows, and graffiti was applied to a number of businesses, and while no message was left claiming responsibility, the anarchy symbol was found to be painted on a thrown brick, in a lovely pastel pink.

Some of the graffiti messages here in GR.

“Yuppie Scum. Your time has come” and “Gentrify this” next to a crudely drawn picture of a pig.

“Urban renewal = classist and racist.”

The individuals who perpetrated these deeds, both in Italy and Michigan, are not anarchists, but fauxnarchists.  Ideological punks who have little understanding of the idea which they claim to support and desire to spread, and like temper tantrum throwing two year olds they are in need of a good swat on their diaper covered asses, and then to be put in their cribs in recognition of the mental midgets they are.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/26 at 09:52 AM
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Friday, December 24, 2010

“Joyful “O””

A blessing, not from above.

Thanks to Peg at What if?

Posted by John Venlet on 12/24 at 04:24 PM
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Clucking Sympathetically Over Superior Orders

Americans have become so cowed by the State that they find no incongruity in mouthing the words “the law is the law,” while clucking sympathetically.  Superior orders, anyone?

An ABIA spokesman says it is TSA policy that anyone activating a security alarm has two options.  One is to opt out and not fly, and the other option is to subject themselves to an enhanced pat down.  Hirschkind refused both and was arrested.

Other travelers KVUE talked to say they empathize with Hirschkind, but the law is the law.

“I understand her side of it, and their side as well, but it is for our protection so I have no problems with it,” said Gwen Washington, who lives in Killeen.

“It’s unfortunate that that happened and she didn’t get to fly home, but it makes me feel a little safer,” said Emily Protine.

Woman arrested at ABIA after refusing enhanced pat down

Go and read this woman’s story, there is also video.  Will you also cluck sympathetically?

Linked via

Posted by John Venlet on 12/24 at 09:36 AM
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Saleem Farrukh Answers the Wrong Question

Leslie Bard has posted, in its entirety, an essay written by one Dr. Farrukh Saleem titled Why are the Jews so powerful?

Saleem is Pakistani, an Islamabad-based freelance columnist, and until I saw the post at Bard’s, I had not heard of Dr. Saleem, but upon reading Saleem’s essay as posted at Bard’s, and a few other pieces he has penned, I do not necessarily think that Saleem should be concerned about a fatwa being declared against him.

In regards to the Saleem essay posted by Bard, I think that Saleem is answering the wrong question, if indeed the question, “Why are the Jews so powerful?,” can actually be considered legitimately as a question.  I consider the question posed more of a paranoid, conspiracy theorist musing.

Saleem’s essay is actually more of a lament, mourning the inadequacies and backwardness of the entire Muslim world, but Saleem does provide the answer as to why the entire Muslim world is as inadequate and backwards as it is.

So, why are Muslims so powerless?

Answer: Lack of Education!  All we do is shout to Allah whole day and blame everyone else for our multiple failures..!

The comment threads are also interesting reading.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/23 at 11:34 AM
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“Liberty Is Dead.  Long Live Liberty”

From Wendy McElroy’s essay Liberty Is Dead.  Long Live Liberty.

Those of us who love freedom as though it were a living, breathing being must remember that human liberty was not born in the United States, it is not an American citizen and it will not die in decrepitude with what appears to be the slow-motion collapse of the American Empire…

And, yet, what is happening in America is nothing new; the rise and fall of Empire has happened through history. The American instance will not bring down freedom any more than the fall of the Roman or British Empires killed human liberty. Indeed, a case could be made that when a government embarks on Empire, as America did in the Spanish American War (1898), then its ultimate fall is a necessary requisite to restoring liberty.

I could argue the foregoing but I don’t have the heart to do so because what is happening to the United States is sad to the point of heartbreaking. BUT is not tragic to human freedom in the sense of being a fatal blow. Far from it. Just as they cry out at the death of a monarch “The King is dead. Long live the King!” I look at the death of American Empire and say “Liberty is dead. Long live Liberty!”


Posted by John Venlet on 12/23 at 10:16 AM
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Bruce Sterling on WikiLeaks and Assange

Scifi writer Bruce Sterling pens a number of thoughts on Wikileaks and Assange under the heading The Blast Shack which is worth reading.  The piece is a bit longish, but Sterling’s writing will keep you interested til the end.  An excerpt.

The one grand certainty about the consumers of Cablegate is that diplomats are gonna be reading those stolen cables. Not hackers: diplomats. Hackers bore easily, and they won’t be able to stand the discourse of intelligent trained professionals discussing real-life foreign affairs.

American diplomats are gonna read those stolen cables, though, because they were supposed to read them anyway, even though they didn’t. Now, they’ve got to read them, with great care, because they might get blindsided otherwise by some wisecrack that they typed up years ago.

And, of course, every intelligence agency and every diplomat from every non-American agency on Earth is gonna fire up computers and pore over those things. To see what American diplomacy really thought about them, or to see if they were ignored (which is worse), and to see how the grownups ran what was basically a foreign-service news agency that the rest of us were always forbidden to see.

This stark fact makes them all into hackers. Yes, just like Julian. They’re all indebted to Julian for this grim thing that he did, and as they sit there hunched over their keyboards, drooling over their stolen goodies, they’re all, without exception, implicated in his doings. Assange is never gonna become a diplomat, but he’s arranged it so that diplomats henceforth are gonna be a whole lot more like Assange. They’ll behave just like him. They receive the goods just like he did, semi-surreptitiously. They may be wearing an ascot and striped pants, but they’ve got that hacker hunch in their necks and they’re staring into the glowing screen.

Linked via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 12/23 at 09:21 AM
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fat People Need Safe Cars Too

The word obese is simply the politically correct way of saying fat.  Adjectives, such as slightly, moderately and morbidly, can be utilized to note the severity of an individual’s


obesity, though I fail to understand how the adjectives ameliorate the baggage of being labeled as a


obese individual.

Today, obesity is not simply a health issue, but a national security issue, at least according to Michelle Obama, and as such, it is much in the news.



obesity is one of the current trendy issues, I guess I should not be surprised at this.

“The rate of obesity is continuing to rise, so is it imperative that car designs are modified to protect the obese population, and that crash tests are done using a full range of dummy sizes.”



obese individuals just modify their vehicles in the aftermarket, rather than coercing auto manufacturers via medical studies, which will be cited by professional jobholders, in order to legislate another aspect of American lives and business?

Severe Auto Accident Death Risk Much Higher Among Obese Individuals

Posted by John Venlet on 12/22 at 07:56 PM
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