Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Headlines From the Future

At the site Theo Spark, a sampling of UK HEADLINES FROM THE YEAR 2030.

My personal favorite.

Japan announces that they will no longer consume whale meat as whales are now extinct and the scientific research fleet are unemployed. UK Government has told the Japanese that grey squirrels taste like whale meat

Posted by John Venlet on 01/18 at 12:43 PM
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Kidney Transplant Eligibility is Not Based on Love

Scrolling through InstaPundit this morning I came upon a post which, in its entirety, reads as follows.  YOU LOVE YOUR KID? Too bad.

The words “Too bad” embed a link, which I clicked on, thinking that the government in some way, shape or form was interfering with a parent’s natural right to care for their child.  The embedded link takes readers to a post by Elizabeth Scalia titled You love your kid?  Too bad!, which opens this way.

It’s really too bad that you love your three-year old daughter who needs a kidney transplant, because you know what? We’re not giving her one because she’s retarded!:

I begin to shake. My whole body trembles and he begins to tell me how she will never be able to get on the waiting list because she is mentally retarded.

A bit of hope. I sit up and get excited.

“Oh, that’s ok! We plan on donating. If we aren’t a match, we come from a large family and someone will donate. We don’t want to be on the list. We will find our own donor.”

“Noooo. She—is—not—eligible –because—of—her—quality– of –life—Because—of—her—mental—delays” He says each word very slowly as if I am hard of hearing.’
[...]

He pauses as if he is choosing his words carefully. “I have been warned about you. About how involved you and your family are with Amelia.”

Ms. Scalia is so incensed by this news that she “kind of” wishes that the execrable Ted Kennedy were still alive, to pull strings for the young girl’s family.

Right now, I kind of wish Ted Kennedy were alive. Many don’t realize it, but a case like this was precisely the sort of circumstance under which he’d pull together his little Irish cabal of doctors and friends and get the thing done.

Which only proves to me that Ms. Scalia is not above utilizing favoritism to get her way, though I would wager Ms. Scalia would be against the type of favoritism allegedly shown to Beyonce and Jay-Z, at the expense of other new parents.

The young girl in question here, Amelia, is afflicted with what is known as Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, and based on this condition, Amelia is ineligible for a kidney transplant, and I can fully understand Amelia’s parents’ heartbreak upon learning of their child’s ineligibility for a kidney transplant, even if the kidney was being donated by a family member.

I can fully appreciate Amelia’s parents’ heartbreak, because for the last eight (8) years of my Father’s life he had to contend with failed kidneys and dialysis.  My Dad was interested in a kidney transplant, and he had eight (8) loving children who were all willing to undergo the rigors of donating a kidney to him in order to release him from the slavery of dialysis and the physical ups and downs needing contending with due to his body’s inability to remove toxins as the result of total kidney failure.

We loved our Dad dearly, but he too was ineligible for a kidney transplant due to other underlying medical issues, and so he did not receive a transplant, and he passed away in late 2007 still a dialysis patient.

If you consider the guidelines for the Assessment of the Potential Kidney Transplant Recipient, you’ll note that the guidelines mention nothing about love, and it is well that they do not, because almost all parents love their children, regardless of their physical or mental well-being, as deeply as Amelia’s parents love her.

Love, in all its various manifestations, is immeasurable, but kidney transplant eligibility is not based on love, it is based on cold, hard diagnostic facts.  A fact which can be exceptionally difficult to accept, because of the depth love within families which care deeply.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/18 at 10:35 AM
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“deSOPA”

Bill St. Clair posts a work around to the currently blacked out Wikipedia English page.  The work around is posted under the title unBlacking Wikipedia.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/18 at 10:01 AM
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Ode to a Photocopier

Brian Micklethwait has electronically penned an ode to his photocopier, noting its value in the spread of libertarian ideas, its limitations, and that said copier was a blogging tool prior to blogging.

Good little read.  My photocopier - 1981-2012

Posted by John Venlet on 01/18 at 08:09 AM
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Expanding on the Idea of Non-violent Revolutionary Action

I recently put up a post titled A Non-violent Revolutionary Proposal which explored the idea of not voting as a means of spurring non-violent revolutionary change.  This afternoon, I stopped by Arts & Letters Daily and was pointed to an interview with John Horgan intriguingly titled John Horgan on erasing war from the human condition.  And who would not want to erase war from the human condition, I mean besides politicians and the industries which provide the armaments for wars?

While the Horgan interview is interesting reading, Horgan brought up an individual by the name of Gene Sharp, who I was until that moment unfamiliar with, and Sharp’s 1973 work titled The Politics of Non-violent Action, which I was also unfamiliar with, so via the power of the internet, I went searching, and one of the first items of interest I delved into was a piece titled Power and Struggle, wherein under a section titled Why People Obey the following can be read.

When analyzing human obedience the psychological factor is decisive. Domination and submission are psychological states of mind. Those who argue against the use of nonviolent tactics like demonstrations or petitions, claiming that they are merely symbolic gestures, forget that power is symbolic as well. Withdrawing support, even symbolically, calls into question the props and illusions that hold Power up. Yet people are often ignorant of the power they hold, and governments conspire to maintain the illusion of their monolithic power, making their subjects feel helpless. (bold by ed.)

That quote is immediately followed by a section titled Violent Sanctions, which opens this way.

It may seem counter-intuitive that nonviolent resistance can be effective against rulers who have massive amounts of force at their disposal. But that is precisely the beauty of nonviolence. Using violence against “violence experts” is the quickest way to have your organization or movement crushed. That is why governments frequently infiltrate opposition groups with agents provocateurs—to sidetrack the movement into violent channels that the violence professionals (police, military, security agencies, etc.) can deal with.

A cautionary note worth paying attention to, especially in regards to agents provocateurs, which should recollect to many readers, Hutaree Hysteria.

There are a good number of additional links which can be explored at that Power and Struggle link, which I have not delved into yet, except one, which is a short parable, described as “whimsical,” titled The King Who Ruled Nothing, which is well worth reading and illustrative of the power of withdrawing support from rulers, say like by not voting.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/17 at 03:31 PM
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Sidetracked by a Footnote Mention of Trout

I’ve been sidetracked, this morning, by footnote #117 in Chapter XIII (285-313 A.D.) The Reign of Diocletian and his Three Associates. Part IV, of Edward Gibbon’s work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which reads as follows.

Adam’s Antiquities of Diocletian’s Palace at Spalatro, p. 6. We may add a circumstance or two from the Abate Fortis: the little stream of the Hyader, mentioned by Lucan, produces most exquisite trout, which a sagacious writer, perhaps a monk, supposes to have been one of the principal reasons that determined Diocletian in the choice of his retirement. Fortis, p. 45. The same author (p. 38) observes, that a taste for agriculture is reviving at Spalatro; and that an experimental farm has lately been established near the city, by a society of gentlemen.

As a rather avid fly fisher, I was intrigued by this little footnote’s mention of trout, wondering if, in fact, Diocletian actually fly fished for trout, being as the history of flyfishing does go back to Roman times.  Unfortunately, I was unable to determine if Diocletian actually was a fly fisher, and I was also unable to locate the stream mentioned, the Hyader, though I did check various old maps.

My guess is that the “most exquisite trout” mentioned in that footnote would be a brown trout, though I consider the brook trout as the more exquisite of the two.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/17 at 01:17 PM
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr. and “Resolving the Issue” of Freedom and Liberty

It seems appropriate, today, to acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr.  After all, it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  So I went back into the archives here and located a post I put up in June 2007 titled On Civil Disobedience.

That 2007 post of mine, though, is not what I want to draw your attention to once again.  What I want to draw your attention to is a post of Billy Beck’s from June 2007 titled “Evasion Is Not Resolution”, which Billy penned in response to an email exchange and a post at the SOLO - Sense of Life Objectivists website titled Fighting the IRS ... to the Death?.

If we, as Americans, desire to lay claim to freedom and liberty as it originally was considered at the formation of the United States, without having to resort to violence, we can learn some very valuable lessons from King, and Billy speaks to this idea.  Billy’s closing words.

I’m talking about resolving the issue. Not evading it.

One contribution I have to the ideas floating around for resolving the issue of freedom and liberty can be found in these words I wrote in 2003.

Why is there such a confounded need to label yourself or align yourself within a group? Can we not just be men with like minded ideas of liberty and sovereign individuality? Even if some of your political ideologies differ in regards to the size of government, as compared to other labeled individuals, does the group label offer you any kind of safety, or is it just a need to belong that is being fulfilled by the label? The group mentality, in most instances, only provides a bludgeon to use against other groups.

UPDATE:  “The Sword That Heals”.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/16 at 01:45 PM
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The Tyranny of Government Debt

There is no doubt that Americans are suffering under the tyranny of the United States’ government debt.  The amount of this debt is staggering in scope and each individual American is bowed over with its weight, no matter their political affiliation, and Americans need to be released from these tyrannical chains.  The question is how to accomplish this.  Politicians, regardless of whether they are wearing a donkey or elephant costume, mouth platitudes to a reduction of this tyrannical debt, and turn right around and increase the scope and size of the State, proving their ineptness and the lack of veracity in their words.

So, back to the question, how to reduce the tyranny of the United State’s debt?  Karen De Coster notes a suggestion put forth by an individual by the name of Philip Smith, in a news article titled Melting Gold Coins To Reduce National Debt.

Smith believes if the government would take all of the gold coins out of circulation and melt them into bars, the U.S. would be able to pay off the national debt. He says the gold coins are not doing anybody good just sitting around so the government should take action.

Karen notes that the idea, as presented, is not satire.  What came to my mind when I read this this morning is the following observation of Edward Gibbon, put down in Volume One of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wherein Gibbon comments on the debasement of money under the reign of emperor Gallienus, the role this debasement of money played the in civil unrests within the Roman empire, and the salutary effects which can be attained by restoring the just value of money.

The repetition of intolerable taxes, imposed either on the land or on the necessaries of life, may at last provoke those who will not, or who cannot, relinquish their country.  But the case is far otherwise in every operation which, by whatsoever expedients, restores the just value of money.  The transient evil is soon obliterated by the permanent benefit, the loss is divided among multitudes; and if a few wealthy individuals experience a sensible dimunition of treasure, with their riches they at the same time lose the degree of weight and importance which they derived from the possession of them.

Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume One, New York, Random House, The Modern Giant Library, pg. 272

Posted by John Venlet on 01/16 at 09:36 AM
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Doing Ayn Rand and “Atlas Shrugged” A Disservice

A new film will soon be released based on Ayn Rand’s magnum opus Atlas Shrugged.  The film is being released under the unfortunate title of Ayn Rand & The Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged.

I say unfortunate title because I do not think Rand, who wrote extensively in support of rationality and reason, would be pleased to be called a prophet, which implies “divinely inspired revelations,” which Rand would categorically reject.

I realize that the selected title of the film was probably decided upon for marketing purposes, but I think a more accurate title would have been “Ayn Rand & The Reasoned Foresight of Atlas Shrugged.”

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 12:17 PM
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“Human Action” - Trends

In a post titled Economic stimulus., Tam brings to our attention what, economically, can be referred to as an economic trend.

I’ve been to gun shows right after the Assault Weapons Ban was enacted, and right after it sunset. I’ve been to gun shows on the eve of “Y2K” and right after the ascension of The Won, when panic-buying was in full swing. The latter show, in January of ‘09, set a benchmark for “crowded” in my experience.

Yesterday’s show was even more crowded than that. The crowd was so dense that bucking the generally anti-clockwise flow of the mob through the show floor made one feel like a salmon trying to swim the wrong way up the rapids in a nature documentary. You’d shuffle a foot or two forward, stand stock-still waiting for an opening in the Cletii, get jostled a half-step backwards, shuffle forwards again… It took a good five or ten minutes to make it across the width of the exhibit hall.

I think some enterprising individual should be selling von Mises “Human Action Pocket Edition” at these shows, right alongside the pocket autos Tam mentions.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 10:44 AM
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Taking No Comfort in Protestations of Consensus

InstaPundit links to an article in The Hill with a headline reading SOPA shelved until ‘consensus’ is found, and posts this quote from the article.

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.

I take no comfort from this news, because I highly doubt that members of Congress have all of a sudden elevated their moral integrity, or their ability to rigourously analyze.  Recall the “consensus” on climate warming?

Posted by John Venlet on 01/15 at 10:19 AM
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

I’ve Got A Freedom Attitude - Redux

In July 2010, Claire Wolfe posted an essay titled Thinking free, which I linked and commented on here.

This morning, I read a post by Mark Roote titled In regards to VIPR teams wherein Roote discusses how he, as an individual, would interact if subjected to such an intrusion during what would otherwise be a normal day.  But what I want to highlight from his post are the following thoughts, which echo the thoughts Claire shared in her essay Thinking free.

I am a Free Man, even if I have decided to comply with some (most?) of the governments demands simply to keep myself out of prison and alive (what good is being Free if you’re dead?) There are keyboard commandos out there that yell about how if you pay taxes, or sit back and “take it”, or whatever then you are not a Free Man. Well, I have to insert a distinction here. I AM a Free Man, I’m just not allowed to live freely. Now, I’m not asking for an argument on who, exactly, is supposed to “allow” me to live Freely. I know that the only way I can be truly Free is if I act accordingly. The person that does not “allow” me to be Free is me. I have grudgingly agreed to live by the governments rules under certain circumstances. I am not happy about it, but I do what I have to do in order to remain alive and out of prison so that my family is taken care of. While I am still out of prison, I do what I can to advance the cause of Liberty. (bold by ed.)

Posted by John Venlet on 01/14 at 11:01 AM
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Friday, January 13, 2012

War is Hell, Additionally, It Is Not Antiseptic

Allen West on the brouhaha over the Marine video.

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

West is correct, war is hell.  Additionally, war is not antiseptic.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 06:45 PM
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Ancient Technology Which Could Come in Handy

Militant environmentalists seemingly would like nothing better than to force industrialized nations backwards, energy usage wise, in their continued attempts to thwart the development of fossil fuel sources, pushing, instead, coercively instituted wind farm fantasies, which are nothing more than exorbitantly priced pinwheels, and even children become bored with pinwheels in a relatively short period of time.

The challenges resulting from a loss of energy, electrical or otherwise, whether due to militant environmentalists, or other less civil actions, is something individuals should consider, especially when it comes to perishable food storage, not to mention keeping your beers chilled.  The Persians offer one possibility.

400 BC, Persian engineers had mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert. The ice was brought in during the winters from nearby mountains in bulk amounts, and stored in a Yakhchal, or ice-pit. These ancient refrigerators were used primarily to store ice for use in the summer, as well as for food storage, in the hot, dry desert climate of Iran. The ice was also used to chill treats for royalty during hot summer days and to make faloodeh, the traditional Persian frozen dessert.

Interesting little article, with a rough set of drawings.  Yakhchal Ancient Refrigerators.

Linked via Fred Lapides.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 02:04 PM
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Good and Evil - There is No Moiety

We often speak of good and evil as if there exists a state of moiety between them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I thought on this this morning, while shoveling snow, after reading a post at Samizdata written by Brian Micklethwait titled Tactical wisdom from Mark Meckler wherein Brian comments on the case of Mark Meckler who had been arrested and charged with a firearm violation in New York after voluntarily turning in his handgun to “authorities” in an atttempt to comply with New York’s draconian gun laws.

Brian’s comments regarding the Meckler business opens as follows.

One of the more dispiriting processes I regularly notice in confrontations between Good and Evil is when Evil concedes that it has done something evil, and Good promptly turns round, in the spirit of fair play, and concedes something else evil. It’s like Good is a football team, and when it goes one-nil up, it feels that the fair thing to do is to give the other fellows a goal. To make a game of it. Or something.

So for, instance, if Evil concedes that, I don’t know, “socialism hasn’t turned out very well in practice”, Good, in a burst of bonhomie and generosity and brotherhood-of-manliness, concedes that socialism was a nice idea “in theory”.

No it wasn’t. An idea that turns out badly in practice is a bad idea. Especially if the badness was a predictable and predicted consequence of that bad idea.

Often, in circumstances like these, Evil even asks for an equalising goal.

Evil offers a paring of ideas - good twinned with evil, like socks emerging from the laundrette - as a package: “Ill concede that socialism has turned out badly in practice if you concede that socialism is a nice theory.”

The proper way to behave, if you are Good, and go one-nil up in an argument, is to press for a two-nil lead.

The proper response to going one-nil up in the above argument about the practice and theory of socialism is to say: “Socialism has indeed turned out badly in practice. Now, about this evil notion of yours that socialism is a nice theory. Let’s talk about that. And let’s you admit that you are wrong about that also. We told you you were wrong from the start, and we were right that you were wrong. We predicted that socialism would turn out badly in practice, on account of it being a bad theory. You pressed on. You were wrong. In theory as well as in practice.”

Like I say, press for two-nil.

Do not give evil, as Brian states, an equalizing goal, because there is no moiety between good and evil.  Ever.

Posted by John Venlet on 01/13 at 11:38 AM
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