December 31, 2012

People's Front of Judea

All Hail Taranto!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:11 PM | What do you think? [0]

Faux Quote of the Day

When I was in Bangladesh last January, I was amazed by the level of Westernization for such a closed society, and that tells me two things. It tells me that the citizens of Bangladesh have no shortage of courage, and that is a good beginning to grow from. Second, it tells me that people in Bangladesh are just like people anywhere else on this flat earth of ours. -- The Amazing and Wonderful Thomas Friedman Column Generator
Hat-tip: The VA Viper (@debbywitt)
But jk thinks:

Just the titles are awesome!

"Dear Ecuador: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way"

"Estonia is Zimbabwe"

"Our Secret Sause"

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2012 3:23 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Speaking of good ideas from third-world countries, I give you Jose Canseco (yes, THAT Jose Canseco), True American:

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 31, 2012 4:57 PM

Quote of the Day

In other words, a household with two people earning a little under €1 million would not be subject to the tax, while an individual making even a dollar more than €1 million would have to pay. So while it is fair to take 75% of what someone earns, it isn't fair unless the law confiscates 75% from all rich households equally. Come to think of it, that sort of social and economic leveling was the point of the French Revolution. -- WSJ Ed Page

Did I Misread?

Saw this ad during the Broncos game yesterday. (Did I mention we are first seed in the AFC?):

Remembering the kerfuffle over Clint Eastwood's Super Bowl ad, I thought that they boys at Fiat Chrysler were doing it again.

Is this a salute to the troops? I hear the patriotic music. But I see a celebration of the end of hostilities, which can be credited to the Administration, not a celebration of valor or -- dare one use the words? -- victory or achievement. And the 15Ø with the arrow (0:07) looks like the Obama logo.

Tell me I am crazy. All the YouTube commenters -- normally a far crazier lot than me -- are approbational: "Thanks for supporting the troops, &c." Maybe I have to put the tinfoil hat back on, but this does not hit the right notes for me.

Gotta go, I hear the black helicopters...

Posted by John Kranz at 10:15 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

"Proud to salute our nation's heroes" seems unambiguous enough to me. I'm not seein' the O logo either.

I have as much reason as you to be prickly on this, maybe more. I was gung-ho for the Iraq campaign. (Well, the butt-kickin part, not the nation-buildin part.) But I see and hear a celebration of a painful chapter closing more than any sort of credit or blame.

I'm proud to salute our nation's heroes too. Now that they're coming home, let's get government out of the way so that they can find jobs.

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2012 1:25 PM
But jk thinks:

Happy to salute. Happy to welcome. Let me try one more time to bring others into my paranoid delusion.

Bush foreign policy, for all its failings, was based on completing the mission and objectives for victory. The Democratic opposition -- conversely and often counter-productively -- was always based on dates and timetables. This commercial celebrates timetables and not achievements. (...and I think there's a subliminal flashing of "Biden 2016!" for 10 milliseconds every few frames.)

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2012 1:42 PM

December 30, 2012

Review Corner

I had the good fortune to share the evening with 2.5 Heinlein scholars on Friday night. That is an excellent method to prepare for a Review Corner -- I'll try to keep that up whenever possible: convene a small panel. I got some interesting historical perspectives, plus the empirically provable observation that "I am weird."

I was also reminded that I was not the target demographic. The martial tone and the action sequences were better tuned to younger folk, who would then encounter the more serious ideas in the book.

This very personal relationship, "value," has two factors for a human being: first, what he can do with a thing, its use to him . . . and second, what he must do to get it, its cost to him. There is an old song which asserts "the best things in life are free." Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted . . . and get it, without toil, without sweat, without tears.

I enjoyed it but yearned to return to my boring old non-fiction as I have lost much of my taste for fiction and novels. Ergo, I do not intend to pen the world's 3,463rd literary review of Robert A Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I suspect ThreeSourcers would better enjoy a discussion of its central premise.
We have had enough guesses; I'll state the obvious: Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.

Heinlein, Robert A. (1987-05-15). Starship Troopers (pp. 192-193). Ace. Kindle Edition.

I'll let the Rand-Heinlein Axis squirm on that pivot for a moment, but I think most know that citizenship needed to be earned by national service. Our protagonist impulsively casts aside a cushy fast track through Harvard and family wealth to fight in the Mobile Infantry so he can vote. (And, of course, to pick up chicks.)

Blog Brother EY suggested that this was the only solution to democracies' devolving into voting themselves bread and circuses from the Federal Largesse. I too am tortured by this problem -- especially so after November 7, 2012. It is a perfectly valid hypothetical and would probably provide a government better than most. I'd be more comfortable placing my trust in America's veterans than the polity at large. Even though my friend JC would vote but not me, I could be persuaded.

But I am going to dissent from this solution on two counts.

One. It is hypothetical. I am a big fan of the United States Constitution. It started with some flaws that we fixed; and it had some original genius that we broke. But in between, it created a continental nation, and a global economic and military power. I make the same complaint that I do of the Rothbard - Rockwell - Lysander Spooner libertarian wing. Your ideas are interesting, but I am wary to compare the text on clean white sheets of paper (or Kindle eInk) to messy, real world empiricism. That, and well-tailored Che T-shirts, are what make Marxists look good.

Two. The two greatest things in American government -- and I will suggest they are one -- are civilian control of the military and our peaceful procession of power. Tears of joy at every inauguration: even when I disagree, I am happy that the people can choose to get it good and hard (Thanks, Mister Mencken!)

Reading Gibbon's little book on Rome, I was struck by the tumult of keeping the military in line. In all the contretemps and intrigue, the path to a career as Emperor seems to consist of knocking off the present officeholder and then getting the support of the armed forces.

The command of these favored and formidable troops soon became the first office of the empire. As the government degenerated into military despotism, the Praetorian Praefect, who in his origin had been a simple captain of the guards, was placed not only at the head of the army, but of the finances, and even of the law. In every department of administration, he represented the person, and exercised the authority, of the emperor.

Gibbon, Edward (2011-10-14). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, All 6 volumes plus Biography, Historiography and more. Over 8,000 Links (Illustrated) . Packard Technologies. Kindle Edition.

Witness Gens. Wesley Clark and Colin Powell and (seven?) generals who have ascended to the Presidency. It is a political profession. A branch of most governments. Do we want to introduce a closer integration between the military and government?

I'm less worried about taste for adventurism and conquest. Rep. Ron Paul's candidacies remind that that appetite may be suppressed among those who have tasted it. I think that over time the lines would blur between military and government. And that losing that sharp interstice might introduce new problems to politics which we have been fortunate to avoid.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | What do you think? [5]
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, all of that, but also - how much suspension of disbelief is required to swallow the notion that those who choose "a cushy fast-track through Harvard and family wealth" would sit still for a system that disenfranchises them. A Constitution has not safeguarded our government from self-dealers; could a simple restriction of the vote do any better? I think the rich and powerful would find a way to take over the government.

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2012 12:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh yes, and thank you for recognizing me as half of a Heinlein scholar. I'll add it to my resume!

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2012 1:17 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

The fantastically wide-ranging discussion of the other night was one of the best of my life! I will write something coherent about the meeting later this week.

I don't see limiting the franchise as "hypothetical" though. In fact, it was limited for much of the history of the (our) Republic by various tests. In his collection Expanded Universe RAH presents some alternative tests to Service; some tongue firmly in cheek, some more serious. You might want to have a look. The one about letting only women vote for the next hundred years is stimulating. Or something.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 31, 2012 9:23 PM
But jk thinks:

We had a great time as well. Thanks.

I fear brother jg may be correct that self-rule will always implicitly tend to devolve toward direct democracy. Do you restrict the franchise -- which is questionably moral -- or do you concentrate on limiting the purview of government, which is unquestionably moral?

By hypothetical, I meant that the existing system has been tested by 112 Congresses, 17 Supreme Courts, Civil War, LBJ, TR, FDR and Woodrow Wilson. I suspect a lot of damage could have been done to any system in 224 years.

If you can keep their hands off the pie, there is less pressure to control government and fewer opportunities for graft or rent-seeking. Make the ruling class small enough and it doesn't matter which loser the populace elects. That's why I think strict attention to enumerated powers has a better chance at success.

Posted by: jk at January 1, 2013 11:58 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Last night I heard a serious sounding discussion of a Constitutional amendment for spending limits under "article 5" or something like that. The forces of liberty have already lost the masses, but the US map is still, geographically, mostly red. Could be some hope there.

Posted by: johngalt at January 3, 2013 11:43 AM

December 29, 2012


Sorry, Twitter, there is a defect in your algorithm.

Ain't nobody similar to @CharlieDaniels

But johngalt thinks:

You do both wear a hat ... and play stringed instruments.

Posted by: johngalt at December 31, 2012 1:26 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahaha! Don't want to step on a great joke, but need clarify some cropping-induced ambiguity. The email was addressed to me and suggested others that I might enjoy following: David Limbaugh (no Billboard Top-40 hits ever), Kirsten Powers (whom I've never seen wear a hat), James O'Keefe (can't play a fiddle worth beans), Joe The Patriotic...

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2012 1:56 PM

Sometimes the good guy wins

It's an old story: Special interest group sues profitable corporation for alleged harm to animals or cattails or whatever Loraxian victim said group can conjur. But this time the story has a happy (for capitalism and individual rights) ending. Animal rights group settles lawsuit with Ringling. That's right, animal rights group settles, NOT Ringling.

An animal rights group will pay Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus $9.3 million to settle a lawsuit the circus filed after courts found that activists paid a former circus worker for his help in claiming the circus abused elephants.

That's a 9.3 million share of dollars donated to the group by weepy sensitive souls, motivated by all those sad "abandoned puppy" picture ads in the back of Redbook and Good Housekeeping.

The ASPCA said in a statement that "this litigation has stopped being about the elephants a long time ago" and that officials decided it was in the group's best interest to resolve the lawsuit after more than a decade.
Yeah, that and the fact that their little entrapment scheme blew up in their faces.

December 28, 2012

Pre-Review Corner

I'll post a review of Starship Troopers this Sunday. No doubt it will benefit from association with Heinleinian Blog Brothers and Sisters at this evening's bash.

I recently started Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (only 5.994 books to go!) and was struck by this as a sort of Anti-SsT concept. In Rome you had to be a citizen to be a soldier:

In the purer ages of the commonwealth, the use of arms was reserved for those ranks of citizens who had a country to love, a property to defend, and some share in enacting those laws, which it was their interest as well as duty to maintain. But in proportion as the public freedom was lost in extent of conquest, war was gradually improved into an art, and degraded into a trade. 30 The legions themselves, even at the time when they were recruited in the most distant provinces, were supposed to consist of Roman citizens.

Gibbon, Edward (2011-10-14). History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, All 6 volumes plus Biography, Historiography and more. Over 8,000 Links (Illustrated) (Kindle Locations 463-467). Packard Technologies. Kindle Edition.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 11:34 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

I find it more synonymous with SsT than antonymous. Whether you must be a citizen to be a soldier or a soldier (retired) to be a citizen, in both cases the ability and duty to use deadly force are linked to having a personal property stake in the nation state. It's more of a chicken and egg distinction in my estimation.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2012 4:12 PM

Quote of the Day

Mr. President, your entire campaign platform was redistribution. Take from the rich and give to the . . . Well, actually, you didn't mention the poor. What you talked and talked about was the middle class, something most well-off Americans consider themselves to be members of. So your plan is to take from the more rich and the more or less rich and give to the less rich, more or less. It is as if Robin Hood stole treasure from the Sheriff of Nottingham and bestowed it on the Deputy Sheriff. -- The One, the Only, P.J. O'Rourke

December 27, 2012

Review Corner Follow-Up

Ronald Bailey of Reason reviews the topic of the-Sunday-before-last's Review Corner:

Dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Increased K-12 spending and lower pupil/teacher ratios boost public school student outcomes. Most of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Saccharin causes cancer and a high fiber diet prevents it. Stars cannot be bigger than 150 solar masses.

In the past half-century, all of the foregoing facts have turned out to be wrong. In the modern world facts change all of the time, according to Samuel Arbesman, author of the new book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Current).

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 6:32 PM | What do you think? [5]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"... Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow."

Facts have had a half-life for quite a while. I shared this article with Galileo Galilei, and he just rolled his eyes and said "Eppur si muove."

Sometimes I wish celebrities had a half-life like facts do. I mean, aren't Justin Bieber's fifteen minutes of fame over yet?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 27, 2012 7:10 PM
But jk thinks:

The real joy of the book is its quantitative -- not just qualitative descriptions. Yes, everything changes but Mister Bieber's voice and lyrics; I was impressed by the long-term mathematical precision of the changes.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2012 7:25 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I caught that, with Price's observations on the increasing speed of new facts and knowledge - sort of a Moore's Law / Kryder's Law applied to discovery. Admittedly, the growth rate was somewhat slower in Galileo's day...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 27, 2012 8:07 PM
But jk thinks:

...but the log of the rate of change remains remarkably constant from eppur si mouve to VP Gore's inventing the Internet.

Posted by: jk at December 28, 2012 11:14 AM
But johngalt thinks:

That log of the rate of discovery wouldn't happen to be 42, would it?

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2012 2:06 PM

Blogger's Bash!

ThreeSources Night at Miller's Grill! 6PM Friday the 28th.

Brother Ellis is in town...

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

"Over the lips, and past the gums;
Look out abdomen, here she comes!"

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 27, 2012 10:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"Emmanuel Kant was a real pissant
who was very rarely stable,
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
who could drink you under the table!"

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2012 2:03 PM
But Jk thinks:

I knew a young man from Nantucket...

Grand time, good people! Thanks!

Posted by: Jk at December 29, 2012 12:06 AM

Otequay of the Ayday


At this time, we are not accepting any order changes or combining of multiple orders. Once an order is placed we cannot make any changes to the order. If you need to add additional items you will need to place a new order. If you need to remove or change items on your order you can email and we will cancel the order and you can place a new order.

In an effort to serve our online customers effectively, we are temporarily suspending walk in sales of ammunition. We will welcome walk in customers again once we have processed our current backlog. If you have already placed an order for local pick-up, you may pick up your order in our office, once you have been notified that it is ready.

Due to the extremely high volume of orders that we are receiving at this time we are experiencing a processing delay of 19-21 business days. We are working very hard every day to keep the delays minimal. Your patience is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for your business!

Info page at ammo to go dot com.

But Keith Arnold thinks:

Final Jeopardy:
Category: American Economics.

The answer is:

"Three American sectors of business in which left-wing economic policy has resulted in a working stimulus, as an unintended consequence." Remember, your answer must be in the form of a question.

Dum-de-dum, dah-dah dum-de-dum; dum-dee-dum-dee DAH! Da-da-da-da-da..."

Alex, what are:

(1) Chick-Fil-A.
(2) Papa John's.
(3) Gun and ammo manufacturers.

I hope you wagered it all...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 27, 2012 5:19 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Would bet the farm on you every time, KA. Every time.

We'll miss you tonight. And BR and Bryan and ...

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2012 5:00 PM

Meanwhile, in Buffy News

Cabin in the Woods star Kristen Connolly one of Rotten Tomatoes' 25 Breakout Stars of the Year.

Art Posted by John Kranz at 10:53 AM | What do you think? [9]
But jk thinks:

I'd love to play the calm voice of reason and decency for a day, but am not acquainted with Justified -- sorry.

In fair warning, CitW has all the elements of a teen gore flick. But they are not used pruriently.

We work with what we have.

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2012 4:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Gosh golly, a fair bit coarser'n this.

Dagny objects to all the bad choices made by people genetically predisposed to make bad choices. But this quote sums it up for me:

Raylan Givens: Sometimes, we have to make deals with lowlifes because we have our sights set on life forms even somehow lower on the ladder of lowlife than they.
Posted by: johngalt at December 27, 2012 5:11 PM
But dagny thinks:

I wish to divide some semantic rabbits here. I do not object to the choices of such people. I just don't find them entertaining.

Posted by: dagny at December 27, 2012 6:21 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The lowest rung of lowlifes aren't what's entertaining, the things Raylan says in his pursuits of them are. Things like:

Winona Hawkins: You're a little old to be fighting, aren't you?
Raylan Givens: Certainly too old to be losing.

Ava Crowder: Didn't the district attorney order you to stay away from Boyd?
Raylan Givens: It was more of a suggestion.

Raylan Givens: I'm going to need an ambulance, and a coroner.

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2012 2:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And a request: If'n you happen to have a copy of CitW on one of those old-fashioned, round plastic thingeys, would you lend it to me?

Posted by: johngalt at December 28, 2012 5:14 PM
But jk thinks:

My copy lives in Amazon's cloud, sorry!

Posted by: jk at December 29, 2012 12:05 PM

Quote of the Day

How perfect can you get? Mr. Gregory interrogates Mr. LaPierre on the subject of whether to ban a magazine that it is illegal for Mr. Gregory to display but apparently easy enough to acquire in time for a Sunday morning broadcast. So here we have a possible indictment that would be entirely nonsensical of a journalist who was trying to embarrass an NRA official over an ammunition ban whose impact would be entirely symbolic. -- WSJ Ed Page
Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 26, 2012

Choose Life

From the Ayn Rand essay 'The Objectivist Ethics' I posted on Facebook today:

I will close with the words of John Galt, which I address, as he did, to all the moralists of altruism, past or present: "You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours."

Tweet of the ... Ever

Mondo Heh! Hat-tip, more & backstory: Kerry Picket @ Brietbart

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 11:20 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Honorable mention (also by Clarkson): "Americans. Was the second amendment not introduced to protect you from the tyranny of the British? Piers Morgan in other words."

Now following @JeremyClarkson and @thehamsterscage (Richard Hammond)

Posted by: johngalt at December 26, 2012 3:15 PM

Lack of Leftist's Canon

We've discussed this around here. It speaks to me of why it is so unsatisfying to argue with those on the left. They have no literary canon and little foundational philosophy.

Insty linked this yesterday, but I wanted to wait until at least midnight of Christmas before posting an "everybody who disagrees with is an irrational, unlearned fool" post. And yet, it is true:

The real intellectual vacuum underlies not the Left as such but people who style themselves liberals, but not socialists—i.e., I’m guessing, most Democrats. Where are their intellectual roots?
For about a decade I team-taught a course on Contemporary Moral Problems with a prominent philosopher of language. He argued the liberal side of each issue; I argued the conservative side. I had no shortage of philosophical material on which to rely. He and I both assumed, since liberalism is supposedly the position that informed, intelligent people occupy, that there were similar philosophical foundations for liberalism. We were both astounded that there were not. For someone who seeks to be a liberal, but not a totalitarian, there is Rousseau, on one interpretation of his thought. And that’s about it.

I'd kill for my lefty friends to throw Marx or Rousseau at me. I am more likely to get a link to a Jon Stewart clip or a TED talk -- but that might speak more against my friends than the movement. Yet I have never heard anyone say the left can match our Cannon:
But their real question isn’t about literature. It’s about philosophy. The conservative movement rests on a series of great thinkers: Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, Burke, Mill, Hayek, von Mises, etc. Where are the intellectual foundations of the Left?

Popper spends Volume I of "The Open Society and its Enemies" dismantling the Plato - Kant - Hegel philosophical wing. Add Marx and Schopenhauer and I'll give the left an honest thought tradition (if it indeed tends sadly towards totalitarianism).

But I sure like the skill and depth of our side.

UPDATE: Mea Culpa! "Cannon" corrected to "canon" twice.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 AM | What do you think? [3]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Of course leftists lack a cannon. They favor gun control. You don't expect David Gregory to start brandishing an M198 on national television, do you?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 26, 2012 1:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The weapon of leftists, more powerful than a cannon (or canon) is: unearned guilt.

Posted by: johngalt at December 26, 2012 2:01 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, there's never an editor around when you need one. ("Cannon" corrected twice to "canon.")

Posted by: jk at December 27, 2012 3:53 PM

December 25, 2012

Doesn't He Have Staff for This?

Steve Forbes's snowman:

Merry Christmas everybody!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 24, 2012

Three Dollars!

Over/under on how many of the six books I make it through...?

Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM | What do you think? [1]
But jk thinks:

Merciful freakin' Zeus! What have I done?

It is actually very interesting. I was expecting dry and turgid, but it is great. I am, however, intimidated by length. In lieu of seeing the pages on a print book, the Kindle has a progress bar and % on the bottom. I read all morning yesterday and it is still at 1%. And that's an indexing error -- it starts at 1% -- I have no evidence that another 99 half days will get me through.

Posted by: jk at December 26, 2012 11:16 AM

Randian Stocking Stuffers

That is...if you can find their stocking... Link
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 5:35 PM | What do you think? [0]

Christmas Coffeehousin'


Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

We got the production team together last August to make sure we had time for a high-production-value holiday offering at, not some goofy thing we threw together on the 23rd. The track is freshly back from mastering -- just in time. Merry Christmas!

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

December 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

Our new, raw kidfo arrives. "An object lesson in needing to get servers to take you seriously," Cowen says between mouthfuls. I turn to politics. What does he look for in a candidate? "What I would like to vote for is a candidate that is socially liberal, a fiscal conservative, broadly libertarian with a small 'l' but sensible and pragmatic and with a chance of winning. That's more or less the empty set." -- Tyler Cowen in a very good FT interview.
Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 10:26 AM | What do you think? [0]

Review Corner

I want to start a fight right before Christmas on The Jc-Jk Book Club. I promised a review by Sunday of Don Fabun's "The Dynamics of Change." My pal jc will soon counter with his thoughts on ThreeSources' fave David Deutsch's "Beginning of Infinity."

Much more than our previous book exchange, I enjoyed this one. It's a big coffee-table book full of great photographs, illustrations, and quotes.

Curiously, it is very similar to the Deutsch book (without the "pitchers"). Fabun, in 1965, tries to look ahead to the mystical far off 1980's and picture what the world will be like. Not George Jetson and Rosie, he is surprisingly prescient about several things. He nails the iPod if not quite the iPhone:

That's it--over there on the bureau where you left it last night--your electronic alter-ego. It is no bigger than a pack of cigarettes, yet It has stored in it everything you have ever experienced. Ask it a question, and if it doesn't have the answer, it will plug into some system that does; a Federal central information service, a state service, a municipal one.
GPS, Google® cars:
This will be done by guidance systems in the vehicle. There will be television surveillance of every mile of highway so that a dispatcher can anticipate problems and correct them before congestion builds up, or take remedial action after an accident has occurred.

The driver's position in relation to other vehicles within one mile of him, together with his position on the roadway with respect to all points of conflict, will be shown continuously on a small television viewer, available to him at the flick of a switch. While he's watching TV, who is watching the road?

The next step of course, would be the completely computerized, electronically controlled movement of automobiles on freeway and turnpike systems. Such control systems will be well within our technology in the next two decades; they almost are now.

Like Deutsch, Fabun is optimistic about the future and sees a large role for technology. He even imagines Norman Borlaug but is unwilling to commit to the vision:
What more is needed as evidence that the serpent has transfixed at with his stare? Says The New York Times, July 12, 1965, The report by a government task force) observes that 10,000 persons die every day from malnutrition and starvation and that with food production declining and population increasing ... the world would be hard put to feed itself by 1980. The report estimates that about 70 per cent of the children in less developed countries are undernourished or malnourished.... About 50 per cent of all children up to 6 years old and about 30 per cent of the age group from 7 to 14 are labeled as 'seriously malnourished.' It is reported that about half the children in less developed countries including the Latin America countries, never reach their sixth birthday."

Or Vision magazine, May 29, 1964, says, "Without the successful achievement of fantastic --and up to now unforeseeable--economic development population growth must inexorably convert Latin America into one of the most unfortunate, miserable and devastated regions of this planet."

Great news Don: Borlaug was found, unprecedented growth did happen, and except in the most corrupt countries and those least respective of property rights, Latin America is doing pretty well.

Whereupon I diverge with Fabun. He reads the best and brightest of his day and is certain that their brainpower can be harnessed to create the brave new world. Yet history has shown that central planning produces "Brave New World." Spontaneous order, freedom, and crowdsourced innovation, on the other hand, produce unimaginable wealth.

Both Deutsch and Fabun see an unbounded sphere for man. Fabun sees an iPod and the Internet in 1965; Deutsch sees us mining asteroids and spreading through the galaxies in 2011. Deutsch is an Oxford professor and I doubt very much he shares many of my political views. I'm guessing he's a chattering class Guardian reader.

But he does not look to the faculty lounge for the future, rather to enlightenment values: Popperian epistemology and the scientific method (If you dig "Infinity," I highly highly highly recommend his "The Fabric of Reality.") These require freedom, trial and error, not central planning.

This being our second "book swap," I'd point this out as a unifying theme. Both your suggestions suggested that we get in line and follow our wise leaders -- both of mine say get the hell out of the way and let human beings create.

But I'll give this one four stars.

[Comment right here, or join the rough and tumble on Facebbok: The Jc-Jk Book Club]

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 9:58 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 21, 2012

Second Amendment ain't About Duck Hunting!

Blog friend Terri suggests I might be bringing the phrase back. It sounds like a good cause.

I saw this on Facebook and the lovely bride and I have watched it several times. Dr. Susanna Gratia Hupp uses the phrase and demonstrates a keen understanding.

I did not know anything about her. Wikipedia:

Suzanna Gratia Hupp, DC, (born September 28, 1959) is a former Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, who represented traditionally Democratic District 54 (Bell, Burnet, and Lampasas counties) for ten years from 1997-2007. After surviving the Luby's massacre in 1991, Hupp became a leading advocate of an individual's right to carry a concealed weapon. She was elected to her first term in 1996, but did not seek a sixth two-year term in 2006. She has also written a book called From Luby's to the Legislature: One Woman's Fight Against Gun Control, published by Privateer Publications, San Antonio, Texas.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

I'm beaming with pride. An AMERICAN woman - with cast-iron cajones.

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2012 4:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh, I almost forgot. She's a Texan.

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2012 6:08 PM

December 20, 2012

Some days, It's Good to Have Libertarians

Jacob Sullum of Reason is pretty good here:

Hat-tip: Ann Althouse

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 7:35 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

"There are a lot of things that are illegal that we don't actually search houses for, unless there's probable cause."

"I'd be happy for it to be a felony."

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2012 4:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To clarify, the preceding is brought to you as: Crazy shit that utopian state-control-worshipping Mirandians (Robert Wright) often say.

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2012 5:33 PM
But jk thinks:

I lost 14 centijoules/sec2 of hope last night.

Larry Kudlow had CNN's Piers Morgan on. He showed a brief clip of Morgan attacking Larry Pratt. And I settled in to watch Larry at least question his lack of civility if not his disregard for birthright liberty.

But it was not to be.

They agreed on everything. Kudlow served up softballs like "Why do they need these 100 round clips?" "What hunter needs an assault rifle?" and "Who says the DH obviates tactical managing?" (well, maybe not all of those....)

The traditional red-blue, Democrat-Republican alliances really break down in gun rights in favor of a more urban-rural, east-west, elite-plebian split. My buddies at the Wall Street Journal and Larry are of no use to me now.

Kudlow had zero guests who supported a rights-based interpretation of the Second Amendment. After Morgan's bit, he had a panel of Democrat pointy-headed, East coast elites debating GOP pointy-headed, East coast elites about --if I may borrow from Edna St. Vincent Millay -- "nothing, intricately drawn nowhere In shapes of shifting lineage."

Posted by: jk at December 22, 2012 11:55 AM


Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) took a more threatening tack: "Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children. They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role." Seriously? If violence in media causes violence in the real world, how do they explain that homicides are less than half as common today as they were in 1980, before video games took off?

Does anyone think the new film of "Anna Karenina" will cause a rash of train suicides? Has Rockefeller heard of the First Amendment? -- Steve Chapman

Sarah Hoyt - "Ungovernable"

Sarah Hoyt, who grew up in the Socialist Paradise of Portugal and is a successful author of many a fine SF/F novel, sees the future...and has faith that the American people will weather the difficult times ahead with some measure of style:


I’ve said before that I became an American by reading Heinlein books. This is true at least to an extent, though I’d be at a loss to explain the process to you. I mean, if you knew how to do that, book by book, chipping away, so someone starts out wondering what’s wrong with all those Americans who don’t like taxes (don’t they know taxes are civilization? And have always existed) and ends up thinking getting a Don’t Tread On Me tattoo is a brilliant idea, even while immersed in a socialist, communitary system, we’d have no problems. We’d just use “the process.”

Mind, you, it is likely that the er… Heinleinizing (totally a word. Don’t worry your pretty head) of my opinions came from watching socialism up close and personal. Heinlein had help. But all the same, and even so, by the time I came to the States as an exchange student I had been, so to put it, primed to react to the US as “home.”


This is why statists of any stripe so often throw their hands up and call us ungovernable. Not that this gives them the idea they shouldn’t try. No. Instead, they try to devise more cunning ways of governing us. You have them to give credit for dreaming the impossible dream. It’s the one proof we have that the sons of beetles are Americans.

So… after sixty years of creeping statism, they’ve now “captured the flag” – they have actually got all of the important systems sewn up: news, entertainment, education, government.

They think – can you blame them? – that they won.

I won’t say they can’t hurt us. They can. The mechanisms they’ve seized hold of are important and they are – natch – misusing them.

I’m not saying that this will be easy. It won’t. Our economy is likely to be an incredible shambles, and I’ve said before I think we’ll lose at least one city.

But, listen, the problem with these sons of… Babel is that they might be American, but they’re not American ENOUGH. If they were, they’d understand “ungovernable” and this willingness for each of us to go it alone (often for common benefit, but on own recognizance, nonetheless) is not a bug. It’s a feature. And that it’s baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places. Some of the black sheep (or as one friend of mine calls it, the plaid sheep) attitude is genetic, hereditary, inborn. And enough of us have it.

Finally, let's note that Sarah is from COLORADO. There's just something about that place. Rand didn't choose it to be a star of Atlas Shrugged out of thin air.

But jk thinks:

Not to diss on brother ew's excerpting skills, but read the whole thing. Touquevillian.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2012 1:22 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I see I spelt it "Unogvernable" in the link but I'm leaving it 'cause it's appropriately symbolic!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 20, 2012 1:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

An interesting comparison of American individualism and European specialization. One might expect comparative advantage to give Europeans the edge, but that's not the way this essay reads. Instead it gives them, stagnation.

Could it be that specialization, while more efficient, also creates monopolies? Or at least cartels. Supply is diminished and costs rise to the point where the nonessential is just dispensed with. A translation: Nonessential = luxuries.

So in addition to individual empowerment and, yes, liberation, the human tendency toward generalization also tends toward larger and freer markets. Whoa - felt a shudder just then.

Posted by: johngalt at December 20, 2012 5:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Sorry man, but I don't see any of that. I see a bit of class-distinction (Americans don't "know their place") versus a bit of boisterousness. A bit of community spirit. Yet even in the context of our specialization discussions I don't see it here.

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2012 6:17 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I think it's not exactly specialization or generalization, but American's do-it-yourselfization that she is getting at. When merde happens, more Americans jump in the water and rescue the kid, fix the leak in the dam, put out the fire...whereas most Euros wait for the official, credentialed unionized repair person. Our government officials are always trying to turn us into that, but she thinks it hasn't really taken.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 20, 2012 7:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:
Part of the thing with Europe is the worship of the “experts.” “We’ll take it to the expert” or “We’ll have the expert do it.”

There is more than one thing going on here, I admit. One is a submission to authoritah. Another is a certain humility that "one person can't do everything." Though whether it is a chicken or its egg, this condition depends upon specialization.

Maybe it's my exposure to academia that makes me more sensitive. Whenever someone tells me I "can't" then I, like Heinlein, become more determined. "No, buddy ... YOU can't!"

Posted by: johngalt at December 21, 2012 4:04 PM

Coming soon...leeches!

Justin Binik-Thomas talks about his daughter's life-altering surgery, which will soon no longer be available because of ObamaCare. Instead of reconstruction, they'll be doing amputations. . .

As the Professor would say: FORWARD!

Health Care Posted by John Kranz at 11:24 AM | What do you think? [0]

What's Worse for Business than Riots?


No doubt Figueroa and 101st Street will be a paradise after the wise city fathers get rid of that blight!

Quote of the Day

The Financial Times reported Wednesday that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner knew about Libor manipulation in May 2008, even earlier than previously believed. (See our editorial, "Tim Geithner and Libor," July 21, 2012.) And yet he soft-pedaled his criticism of Libor while at the New York Federal Reserve. The New York Fed even used Libor as a benchmark throughout the worst of the crisis, in major contracts to which the U.S. government was party.

When regulators mess up, they don't get indicted. They get promoted. -- WSJ Ed Page

December 19, 2012


Facebook is calming a bit, but one locution is going to drive me mad <groucho_voice>...and I could walk!</groucho_voice>

I think ThreeSourcers might get a kick out of this Coffee Party USA piece in its entirety, but I wanted to discuss:

Dear friends who think we need more guns in the classroom to protect our children: Why stop at arming teachers? Why not arm children? How far will you go in thinking that easy access to guns is the solution to the problem of gun violence in our society? Do you want any regulation at all? Do you want buying assault rifles to be as easy as getting a Slurpee from 7-11? Would you allow children to purchase guns? Do you really think easy access to combat weapons is about personal freedom? Do you really think that's what founding fathers had in mind when they made enormous sacrifices to build America? I can't understand how you're thinking about this.

Yeah! Huh? What about it? Knuckle-draggers! What say you?

I just wanted to share that -- but the phrase which is used elsewhere less aggressively is "arming teachers." As if we are going to make it mandatory: Israeli boot camp, them a county-issued AK-47. A $100 fine if you forget to bring it to work.

I know I am asking a lot of decency from the opposition, but I really want them to admit that the idea is to allow those who legally carry and feel comfortable to behave at work as they would behave at home or at the mall. This brings the percentage of armed teachers from zero to > 0 -- pari passu the potential risk of return fire to weenie adolescents. Same as the Mall, same as the street. Uncertainty protects those not packin'.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 4:45 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

And to think I was called an extremist on Facebook today. Is there no middle ground between "absolutely none" and "everyone's packin'?" Forget fifty, that is 79.2 million shades of gray.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2012 6:09 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I'll go a little farther, order:

Yes, Why? Do you mean 19-year-olds, they shoot mortars in the Army, y'know. Pretty dern far. Yes, we shouldn't force anyone to carry. You can't buy "assault rifles" right out of a gun shop now, schmuck. No, the question shows your stupidity, or your insincerity. Hell, yes! Double hell, yes!

And finally, I CAN understand how they're thinking. That's the difference; they don't understand us, we understand them, and disagree.

You're welcome.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 19, 2012 8:48 PM
But Terri thinks:

"I can't understand how you're thinking about this"

Clearly the author isn't even bothering to try. Do people even read what they write?

Posted by: Terri at December 20, 2012 8:01 AM
But jk thinks:

The author is founder of "The Coffee Party" and I can almost forgive that terrible expropriation. The tenor, tone, and content are what I would expect.

I'm far more troubled by the poster. He's a PhD, used to work for me, super bright, very nice, capable of measured and reasoned debate. I asked whether -- like the author -- he had been shouted down, told to shut up or called names by his Facebook friends.

No but "I think she did a nice job with some of the arguments I've read out there, which is why I reposted."

Sign me up with @Terri: I don't see any clever arguments in the whole piece; it is just a series of strawman attacks.

And thanks @Ellis. But do we get credit? We have to understand them, their side is pushed in our face 23 1/2 hours a day (Only a brief respite on 3src or Ruminants...)

Posted by: jk at December 20, 2012 9:05 AM

Giants Walked the Earth

...And were it not for lying weasels like Sen. Ted Kennedy this giant would have graced the Supreme Court.

Robert Bork, who died today at the age of 85, was a former U.S. solicitor general, an antitrust scholar who taught (Bill Clinton, among others) at Yale, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals and an ardent foe of judicial activism. But he is best known for his failed nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, which marked a turning point in our politics. "Borking" entered the Beltway lexicon. Political differences became an excuse for attacking someone's moral character.

I encountered his "Tempting of America" when researching my Dred Scott Book. That project fizzled, but I enjoyed the background reading: particularly "Tempting." That book more than any other kindled my interest in the judicial branch's temperament, philosophy and history.

Don't know if Jason Riley's piece is behind the paywall, but the ending should be enjoyed:

In an afterward to the 1990 paperback edition, Judge Bork commends President George H.W. Bush on his recent appointment of David Souter to the High Court, which Judge Bork assumes will help end "over half a century of liberal policy-making by the judiciary."

Who says Robert Bork wasn't an optimist?

Requiescat in pace.

Hoss Posted by John Kranz at 2:18 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

My opinion of Bork isn't as rosy since my first impression of him was, albeit media induced, as an activist religious zealot. Certainly not fair but the shades of gray are still in my memory.

As for Justice Souter, perhaps some left-activist power broker has the capability of making him "go Petraeus."

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2012 3:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I will confess that our judicial philosophies diverged a couple times over the years. However, comma, that I have a philosophy to diverge from is a credit to his magisterial book.

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2012 3:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I am reminded that the lying weasel Ted Kennedy is the greatest source of misinformation about this serious, highly accomplished, and consequential man. May his duplicitous soul rot in hell... (Ted's of course.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2012 10:52 PM

Quote of the Day

"There is no, 'Trust us, changes are coming' clause in the Constitution," Judge Brian Cogan wrote in his ruling in favor of the Archdiocese of New York two weeks ago. "To the contrary, the Bill of Rights itself, and the First Amendment in particular, reflect a degree of skepticism towards governmental self-restraint and self-correction." -- Joel Gehrke


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Barack Obama will announce on Wednesday that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an effort to come up with policies to address gun violence amid calls for action following the massacre of 26 people including 20 children in a Connecticut elementary school last week.
For a moment, I was afraid they might do something. Now I feel better.


"I guarantee you Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns, so don't buy that malarkey," Biden said to voters during a campaign stop in Castlewood, Virginia on September 20. "Don't buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you."

Bastard malarky peddlers!

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 8:41 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Certainly you don't mean to imply that the folksy reassurances of Mister Biden were disingenous, or merely said for political effect prior to an election knowing full well that Mister Obama would pounce on an opportunity to further restrict gun ownership at the first tragic opportunity. Why, that would make him nothing more than a common politician.

Posted by: johngalt at December 19, 2012 10:58 PM



Comes Love

"Maybe my first day with my new cameras left me with very little usable footage. But maybe I just wanted to do an artsy, behind-the-scenes look at the virtual coffeehouse. You'll never know for sure..."

Words & Music by Lew Brown, Sam Stept & Charles Tobias ©1939

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Loved that one, thanks! See you soon, email to follow.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 19, 2012 3:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Tanks Man!

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2012 5:09 PM

December 18, 2012

On Guns

Facebook may or may not be cooling down enough to share this, but I think y'all will dig it:

Yes, Guns Are Dangerous. But They Also Save Lives and Secure Civil Rights

"I'm alive today because of the Second Amendment and the natural right to keep and bear arms," declared John R. Salter Jr., one of the organizers of the famous non-violent sit-ins against segregated lunch counters in Jackson, Mississippi. Writing in 1994, Salter noted that he always "traveled armed" while working as a civil rights organizer in the Deep South. "Like a martyred friend of mine, NAACP staffer Medgar W. Evers, I, too, was on many Klan death lists and I, too, traveled armed: a .38 special Smith and Wesson revolver and a 44/40 Winchester carbine," Salter wrote. "The knowledge that I had these weapons and was willing to use them kept enemies at bay."

I was thinking of Secretary Rice's eloquent defenses of the Second Amendment watching her father defend their family in Jim Crow Birmingham. There is a default fallback position of "wouldn't it be wonderful if there were no guns, but because there are we must deal with it" even from some gun rights supporters. Minority protection is worth a reminder, as is the fact that Senator Feinstein would not want them to have the most effective hardware.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 6:00 PM | What do you think? [4]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Saturday night, I was at my church's annual Christmas Party, where we had one of those ten-dollar gift exchanges where everyone draws a number, picks a present, there's an option to steal - you know the game. What exchange gift did I leave with?

A box of 12-gauge shotgun shells.

Clearly, I'm attending the right church.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 18, 2012 7:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Number four or double-ought?

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2012 11:17 PM
But jk thinks:

What he's asking is: Reform or Nicene Creed?

Posted by: jk at December 19, 2012 8:01 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Snappy answer: Westminster Confession, Winchester Ammo. Like 'em both.

Kidding aside, number four.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 19, 2012 4:58 PM

Libertario Delenda Est

Usually just a quadrennial problem, the big-L, "why bother choosing a side?" argument is tiresome in most all of its forms.

Obama and Boehner, Both Reckless Spenders By Nick Gillespie & Veronique de Rugy

In negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff, U.S. President Barack Obama is calling for $1.4 trillion in new tax revenue over the next decade.

The Republican opposition, led by House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, has signaled that the Republicans could stomach generating as much as $800 billion in new revenue over the next decade, or half of Obama's number.

Such a large difference obscures a more fundamental agreement: Neither side is interested in addressing the central role federal spending plays in creating persistent deficits and, more important, damping economic growth.

Thanks -- in some substantive part to Nick Gillespie & Veronique de Rugy -- we LOST the previous election, and are not in a position to dictate terms. Speaker Boehner is trying to pull one last little chocolate covered peanut out of the manure pile that will be next year's budget guidelines.

This puts me in mind of a great quote I omitted from last Sunday's Review Corner:

Isaac Asimov, in a wonderful essay, used the Earth's curvature to help explain this: [W] hen people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.

Arbesman, Samuel (2012-09-27). The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date (Kindle Locations 604-607). Current Hardcover. Kindle Edition.

If you think Speaker Boehner is a champion of limited government, you are wrong. But if you think that there is no reason to take his side against the President's on taxing and spending -- you are wronger than all of them put together.

But Terri thinks:

That's torturous, but absolutely true. Well said.

Posted by: Terri at December 18, 2012 4:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Brilliant literary citation to explain why the smug Nick Gillespie has his cranium up his rectum. Four stars.

Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2012 5:29 PM

Quote of the Day

The Patriots play football the way I imagine the ancient Romans would have. Rationally. Cruelly. Without mistakes and with the maximum amount of preparation. The Patriots play with pagan wisdom: "We'll take the material world. You take the miracles." Even the manner in which they lose speaks volumes about who they are. The two defeats to the Giants in the Super Bowl required two of the most miraculous plays of the decade -- "The Catch" by David Tyree and the spectacular 38-yard completion to Mario Manningham that was in bounds by the most ridiculously small of margins. The Patriots versus the Broncos seemed like a contest between the visible world and the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.-- Stephen Marche: Let My Tebow Go.
A very good article. HT: Blog friend sc via email.
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"The Raiders play football the was I imagine the ancient French would have. Clumsily. Comically. Without victory and with the maximum amount of irony. The Raiders play with Gallic insouciance..."

C'mon, it was your first thought, too. You know it. Well, okay, it was my second thought, rather than my first; I did, after all, see the end of the Jets' destruction last night. I'd nominate the announcer's words after the Jet's final offensive play for a second football Quote of the Day:

"And that's how the game should end for the Jets. That's how the season should end for the Jets. Ugly."

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 18, 2012 3:21 PM
But jk thinks:

No sir, thou art cleverer than me -- I did not get that far.

I did have this nightmare last night that I was reincarnated as a gifted athlete, but because of an ancient gypsy curse that I was drafted to play QB for the Jets. Gotta cut those late night cappuccinos...

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2012 3:35 PM
But dagny thinks:

Don't get me wrong I hate the Patriots but please tell me why doing something rationally is automatically also doing it cruelly? Why are the 2 words inseparable?

Posted by: dagny at December 18, 2012 4:12 PM
But jk thinks:

I cannot say this within earshot of some ThreeSourcers, but I actually like the Pats. You can't read Tedy Bruschi's book and not have some respect for the organization. It was torture for me to cheer on the loathsome 49ers -- but Bronco seed advantage comes first.

Marche is a gifted writer and subject to strict NYTimes editing (don't laugh, if it is not about guns or Republicans, the Grey Lady is quite factual). That he chose to specify "Rationally. Cruelly. Without mistakes and with the maximum amount of preparation" clearly indicates that they are not synonymous.

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2012 5:10 PM
But AndyN thinks:

If ancient Roman military might had never managed more than the battlefield equivalent of 3 Super Bowl wins by a total of 9 points against mostly mediocre opponents, Rome would never have progressed beyond a collection of mud huts clustered beside the Tiber River. Oh, and that's assuming that in the run up to those 3 victories the Roman legions had been able to deploy AWACs and knew what their opponents were planning.

Posted by: AndyN at December 18, 2012 5:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at December 18, 2012 6:39 PM

Qui Est Jean Galt Deux

Gérard Depardieu gets Dr. Helen's QOTD

"I am handing over to you my passport and social security, which I have never used," he said. "We no longer have the same homeland, I am a true European, a citizen of the world, as my father always taught me to believe."

He concludes: "Despite my excesses, my appetite and love for life, I am a free being, Sir, and will remain polite."

December 17, 2012

Quote of the Day

There is also a matter of principle. Distributional fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. The line between a fair distribution of the tax burden and spiteful egalitarianism is unclear. But many of us believe that placing the full burden of deficit reduction on the top two percent of taxpayers goes too far. After all, if 98 percent of the voters can exempt themselves while raising taxes on just the top two percent -- who already pay 45 percent of all personal income taxes -- where will the process stop? -- Martin Feldstein in a great article about the fiscal cliff.

Democratic Senator Calls for Gun Control on MSNBC!

STOP THE PRESSES! This isn't just any Democratic Senator -- this is Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia. He waffled in his support for the President so he could get elected! He's a member of the NRA! Did I mention the West Virginia part? It's Joe Freaking Manchin!

Why he is practically a Republican. If Republicans had a D after their name and voted for Harry Reid for Majority Leader and ran against the person that won the Republican primary.

The call for some form of new gun limits got a boost Monday when Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a strong defenders of gun rights in Congress, said it was "time to move beyond rhetoric" and suggested he would be open to restrictions on assault rifles.

The comments by the Democratic senator and former governor, made on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," suggest even strong proponents of gun rights in Congress may begin to shift in their views after the deadly shooting rampage last week in Newtown, Conn.

Well, then. What is that Constitution-thingy against a Senator who senses a change in public opinion?
"I don't know anyone who in the hunting or sporting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don't know anybody that needs 30 rounds in the clip to go hunting," he said, adding that he had just returned from deer hunting with his family.

Deer hunting! He's a sportsman! The world's greatest bumper sticker said "The 2nd Amendment ain't about duck hunting." I saw it a long time ago and I had no idea what it meant. A decade or two later, I figured it out. If only the US Senate were educable...

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 3:24 PM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

Time to start a new meme, inspired by my father:

Don't forget Benghazi.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2012 3:54 PM
But AndyN thinks:

A narrow reading of US v. Miller would suggest that the government should be able to ban whatever it was Manchin used to shoot at Bambi's dad, but is proscribed from banning the scary black guns he has his panties in a wad over.

Posted by: AndyN at December 17, 2012 4:16 PM
But jk thinks:

"Bambi's Dad..." Awesome!

Wondering if we have "Return of the Secaucus Seven" Fans around here. The young folks are brought in for hitting a deer and tell their cell mates they're in for "Bambicide."

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2012 7:01 PM

I'd Throw in Hawai'i -- we got the flags!

At last a serious proposal to reduce our national debt: Sell Alaska!

I e-mailed Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) to ask him how he would feel about having his state sold out from under him.

"I can't talk down our value," he replied. "It's a great piece of property. We love this place. Great views."

He proposed that Alaskans themselves try to buy their state. I thought it sounded like an employee buyout; Treadwell said he preferred to think of it as a "citizens' buyout." He said, "I don't think we want to leave the country to help save it, but if it comes to that, I'm sure we'd bid."

Hat-tip: Prof. Mankiw.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM | What do you think? [1]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

We bought Alaska for two pennies an acre; I don't think Congress has enough left in the Treasury to pay the capital gains tax on the transaction, given the increase in real estate values.

Of course, the Fed could just print more to pay those taxes; they've got a lot of recent practice doing that, I s'pose.

Definitely throw in Hawai'i - the day after the SCOAMF moves into that $35 million retirement home that's being build there for him. And we could sell Puerto Rico, too, while we're at it.

As for the flags? I don't go for the whole change-the-star-count-with-the-state-count deal. I say we go back to thirteen stars in a circle and just stick with it. Besides, do we really want to have to redo the flags every time another state secedes? How will all those eight-cent-an-hour seamstresses in Red China who make our flags possibly keep up with the revisions?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 17, 2012 2:08 PM

Qui Est Jean Galt?

The only word I question is "Despite."

Nonetheless [Gérard] Depardieu remains widely popular in France, despite making headlines for occasional drunken and lewd behaviour. The actor asserts he has always been an upstanding citizen, deserving "respect," and who has employed 80 people, always paid his taxes, and "never killed anybody." He said he paid 85 per cent of his income in taxes in 2012, and over 45 years, has paid 145 million Euros -- or £118 million -- in taxes.

Hat-tip: Blog friend EE by email. He enjoyed the phrase "vice president of the moderate conservative Radical Party,"

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

A friend of The Refugee always laughs when someone justifies themselves as a good human being "Because they never killed anyone." As if scoring 10% on the Ten Commandments is a passing grade.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 17, 2012 5:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Well, he is (er, was) French. Grade on a curve?

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2012 6:13 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's not asserting that he's a good person just because he didn't kill anyone, but making a distinction between him and government. Depardieu never collaborated to send 75,000 Jews to concentration camps, and he never threatened anyone with kidnapping or death because the other party didn't "pay up" (which is what government does when you don't pay taxes).

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2012 6:33 PM

Ten ways to stop school shootings

Let's do this thing. I can't get away with this on Facebook, but I wish to try it here.

Governor Huckabee wants religion in the public schools to stop shootings; fake Morgan Freeman wants to muzzle media. Those both run afoul of the First Amendment.

Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Feinstein are not hewing too closely to the spirit or letter of the Second.

Clearly, the real problem is the Third. Were we to quarter soldiers in these children's homes they could protect their charges from the bad guys. Problem solved.

Maybe routine, random searches of boys from 12-27 (once they're off Mommy's health insurance, they're adults). See if they've got too much ammunition.

Hell, we could lock up those with Asperger's.

Jury trials, cruel and unusual punishment, unenumerated rights and enumerated powers are left as an exercise to the reader. But clearly THE BILL OF RIGHTS IS CAUSING SCHOOL SHOOTINGS! We must abolish it.

It's . . . wait for it . . . for the children!

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 9:31 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Sarcasm and frustration duly noted. I feel it too.

I'm leaning toward measures to restrict guns in homes with mentally challenged persons of all ages, but it's a slippery slope where government determines "mentally challenged." ATF Form 4473, the gun dealer transfer form asks in question 11f, "Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective (which includes having been adjudicated incompetent to manage your own affairs) or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?" Expand this to include "or anyone residing with you?" Maybe. But the CT boy, it seems, was never "adjudicated."

A better solution? Perhaps relocate all schools into movie theaters showing "The Hobbit."

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2012 3:23 PM

December 16, 2012

Review Corner

How about a little epistemology, scarecrow? I must admit, it is probably my favorite field. I prize the scientific method as the pinnacle of reason and foundation of our wealth and comfort. David Deutsch elevates it to one thread of four in his "Fabric of Reality;" Karl Popper moves so naturally between it and philosophy as to annoy a good friend of mine who wants "just the science stuff."

If you dig it too -- and you know you do -- you will dig The Half-life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date by Samuel Arbesman. My interest was piqued by a WSJ review which highlighted the degradation of facts, how many are proven wrong. The best example is probably a transcription error in the iron content of spinach. One newspaper prints that it has 35 and not 3.5mg of iron per 100 grams -- and the legend of Popeye is born!

That is the hook, but the book is more nuanced and more interesting than that. Like the title suggests, he puts actual numbers around the statistical shift in knowledge: how quickly new information is added, how quickly erroneous information is corrected or discarded in certain fields. Both hard and soft science are studied.

Technology can even affect economic facts. Computer chips, in addition to becoming more powerful, have gone from prohibitively expensive to disposable. Similarly, while aluminum used to be the most valuable metal on Earth, it plummeted in price due to technological advances that allowed it to be extracted cheaply. We now wrap our leftovers in it.
John Maynard Smith, a renowned evolutionary biologist, once pithily summarized this approach: "Statistics is the science that lets you do twenty experiments a year and publish one false result in Nature."

ThreeSourcers will enjoy a long-delayed correction from the New York Times. On January 13, 1920, the New York Times ridiculed the ideas of Robert H. Goddard:
Goddard, a physicist and pioneer in the field of rocketry, was at the time sponsored by the Smithsonian. Nonetheless, the Gray Lady argued in an editorial that thinking that any sort of rocket could ever work in the vacuum of space is essentially foolishness and a blatant disregard for a high school understanding of physics. The editors even went into reasonable detail in order to debunk Goddard. Luckily, the Times was willing to print a correction. The only hitch: They printed it the day after Apollo 11's launch in 1969. Three days before humans first walked on the moon, they recanted their editorial with this bit of understatement: Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.

Maybe they'll get around to Walter Duranty and the Ukraine Famine someday...

But this is five stars for certain. Just enough math, non-political but serious to deflect the bad arguments of junk science, and an entertaining read.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [0]

December 15, 2012

The Big Picture

This is a website widget.
It can be embedded on the sidebar.
This is a subtle hint. ;)
(Click the blue "i" circle.)

I'd also like to remind the United States Congress that their "Gun Free Schools Act" (of 1990 and 1995) AIN'T GETTIN' IT DONE.

But Jk thinks:

...and the Morgan Freeman thing is a hoax.

Posted by: Jk at December 16, 2012 9:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

My sense is that prescription antidepressants have been over prescribed to "hyperactive" boys over the last 10-20 years (remember Tom Cruise's 'don't let them drug your kids' campaign) and that school shootings by young males have increased concommitantly. Like to see a graph of the data. Suspect it might be comparable to the BEST CHART EVER! But I know you're a fan of the pharma industry... I think there are bad drugs and good drugs. Anti-depressants, like psychiatrists, piss me off.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2012 12:49 AM
But jk thinks:

Fair. My blog brother has found that rarest of issues -- one for which I have no strong opinion. Had he not quoted a Hollywood celebrity and noted Scientologist, I'd probably be on board...

I suspect without empirical evidence that many, perhaps most, of the patients on anti-depressants are benefitting from them. As long as that number is not zero, your favorite big pharma shill holds them blameless: it is a doctor-patient problem if a tool is misused.

Nor is over-prescription confined to young lads. When the lovely bride was in the hospital, her nurses were amazed that she was not on them. An American woman in her forties without a prescription? There must be some problem. That disturbed me a bit.

Posted by: jk at December 17, 2012 9:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. Yeah, that occurred to me too. He almost does a disservice to endorse a cause.

My grandfather was medicated with Xanex. I'm convinced it hastened his passing. The prescribing physician came around at the funeral and offered "whatever you need to my grandmother." My dad ran him off. Said physician died within a couple of years of "drug overdose."

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2012 3:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not a perfect source, but believable:

"This skews data by confusing the cause of the illness with feedback mechanisms potentiated by psychotropic drugs."

"To date, all studied psychotropic drugs potentiate feedback mechanisms, some feedback mechanisms of which have been implicated in causing the same symptoms of the illness the drugs are approved to treat."

And not a Scientologist to be found.

Posted by: johngalt at December 17, 2012 3:50 PM
But jk thinks:

[D'oh! Postted to wrong thread!]

Problematical. But isn't this at worse a medical practices or epistemology issue? Is there a government function? (And I don't mean that in a neener-neener libertarian sense...)

And unless you say that all diagnoses are wrong and the benefits never outweigh the risks, the question is just a judgment of diagnoses -- a path I seldom trod.

Posted by: jk at December 18, 2012 10:29 AM

An Insect Speaks Up!

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. -- Robert A. Heinlein
I'm going to try unfurling the Ricardo flag one more time as it seems my work here is not done. On Facebook today, I find my fundamental beliefs under siege from a diverse coalition.

Two ThreeSources heroes, Ayn Rand and Robert Heinlein pay homage to the titans of industry that can dig a mine and grow tomatoes. Yet I remain a Ricardian and a Schumpeterian. I don't want to farm. Nor do I want the CEO of my company, or the lady who's going to cure cancer, or my favorite musicians spending half their day with a hoe wishing for rain. Comparative advantage is counter-intuitive but makes us all richer. In my personal instance it is the difference between life and death.

I wrote an essay long ago on a great speech by former Fed President Robert McTeer. The link to the whole speech is busted, but I found it here. (McTeer's speech is much better than my essay.)

The broken window fallacy is perpetrated in many forms. Most of the time, jobs are invoked. Whenever job creation or retention is the primary objective I call it the job-counting fallacy. Economics majors understand the nonintuitive reality that real progress comes from job destruction. It once took 90 percent of our population to grow our food. Now it takes less than 3 percent. Pardon me, Willie, but are we worse off because of the job losses in agriculture? The would-have-been farmers are now college professors and computer gurus or singing the country blues on Sixth Street.

By all means, put me down for the Heinleinian ideal hog-butcherin', invasion-plannin', poet guy. Always good to know more than less. But I see a luddite coalition that is ready to organize society that way. A frequent ally in the Facebook philosophical soup says:
Never in the history of mankind has the population been so disconnected from the land from which we all come. Christ, 40%+ of the population would starve to death without electricity -- let than damning statement sink in for a minute -- and yet we endeavor to make life easier still?!? really?

Um, yeah. Food comes from the store and the real opportunities to explore the upper bounds of human reason are higher up Maslow's pyramid.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 10:34 AM | What do you think? [3]
But johngalt thinks:

First, I agree with you. I come only to defend the ability and freedom that permit individuals a choice to go "off the grid."

The distinction between the better life afforded by ever greater convenience and technology and the self-reliant life of splitting one's own firewood is in the words "able" and "necessary." Using your Facebook friend's figures, 60% of the population is "able" to survive on their own if "necessary." But taking Rand's point in particular, our "easier" life is made possible by men like Hank Rearden, yet dangles at the mercy of men like Wesley Mouch. When the costs imposed by Mouch exceeded the returns of the easier life, men like Rearden stop trading. If one doesn't have the knowledge and prediliction for self-sufficiency he is hostage to men like Mouch. The more a man knows and embraces survival "off the grid" the less willing he will be to endure the abuses of democracy.

Posted by: johngalt at December 15, 2012 3:48 PM
But jk thinks:

In fairness, I must share this line I encontered early in Starship Troopers:

Carl and I had done everything together in high school -- eyed the girls together, double-dated together, been on the debate team together, pushed electrons together in his home lab. I wasn't much on electronic theory myself, but I'm a neat hand with a soldering gun; Carl supplied the skull sweat and I carried out his instructions. It was fun; anything we did together was fun.

Heinlein, Robert A. (1987-05-15). Starship Troopers (pp. 22-23). Ace. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2012 1:10 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Heinlein really said that? It flies in the face of prosperity that comparative advantage creates.

The quote would have been better stated:

"A human being should be able to learn to..."

But even then it's not entirely accurate. Even with a person's ability to learn new skills as the situation warrants, it's precisely because of my unique confluence of skills, which nobody else could learn, that made me so valuable at my job, while others were relegated to delivering mail and managing portfolios badly.

Am I "hostage" to the grocery store, because they supply me with pork? Or are they hostage to me and other customers?

"The direction of all economic affairs is in the market society a task of the entrepreneurs. Theirs is the control of production. They are at the helm and steer the ship. A superficial observer would believe that they are supreme. But they are not. They are bound to obey unconditionally the captain's orders. The captain is the consumer." - Mises, Human Action

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2012 7:21 PM

December 13, 2012

Susanna Hoffs, Very Live

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious action
By our horrid Ruling Faction

I realized it was time for something wonderful, to remind us (me) of all that is good, true and beautiful.

The picture quality of this may not be of the best, but it matters not. It is an expression of something timeless and never to be minimized, or forgotten:

Music Posted by Ellis Wyatt at 7:56 PM | What do you think? [3]
But Sugarchuck thinks:

Wow! Thanks for putting that up.

Posted by: Sugarchuck at December 14, 2012 4:08 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I found the WOW factor extremely high, as well.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 14, 2012 4:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Elvis was a piker.

This made me think of another Heinlein quote. "Darling, a true lady takes off her dignity with her clothes and does her whorish best. At other times you can be as modest and dignified as your persona requires." -Time Enough for Love (naturally)

Posted by: johngalt at December 15, 2012 3:57 PM

Best Chart Ever!

From The Skeptical Libertarian on Facebook.

Junk Science Posted by John Kranz at 5:33 PM | What do you think? [2]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Correlation is not causation, but no causation without correlation!

I'm of a mind that the federal deficit is also correlated with the rise of autism. Also the number of "reality" television shows.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 13, 2012 7:04 PM
But jk thinks:

If we care about the children, we should address all of these.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2012 7:34 PM

Exit, Stage Right

A few days back I posted a link to Part I of Brit philosopher Nick Land's crushing take on democracy and liberty, "The Dark Enlightnement." Strangely enough, the orignal entries disappeared from the "That's Shanghai" website shortly after the piece began to be extensively linked...

Fortunately, a Tumblr named Matt Leslie had posted it in full back in September. At over 27,000 words of reading neither easy or light, it's not everyone cup of tea, but I present it for your consideration.

I know that not everyone here agrees completely, but we are entering interesting times. It is not the end of civilization or a return to the Dark Ages, but it is indeed the kind of inflection point that has been seen before, many times, in human history. Things that cannot go on, will not. Reality is not subject to a filibuster in the Senate.

I wrote before that I am dead to national politics now, though I am still involved at the state and local level. Some states and locales will be much better to live in than others, when the New WoMen really get their program in place.

It's now about Flight, or Exit. Since there is no new frontier on Earth, and space isn't quite ready yet, it's going to be an internal exit. In the next few years a lot of the best people we've got are going to quit working so hard, quit trying to deal with DC, quit trying to make the world "better." Just for awhile.

Rand's vision was awesome, because it relied on the reality of human beings qua human beings, and the reality of this earth. "Is Atlas Shrugging?" articles have been written periodically for over 50 years. Maybe I'm wrong; but I hear it coming, like the faint low staccato of a distant stampede, that no one can stop. One can only get out of its way.

I'm not "depressed" (what a typical modernism!) by this, not at all. Again, interesting times! I'm with author Sarah Hoyt (of Colorado):

And then there’s the fact that in the rest of the world, if things get unbearable, you can always go to America. But we don’t have an America to go to. Which will only make us more determined to “ignore the order, buck the directive, roll up our sleeves and do for ourselves.”

This is why statists of any stripe so often throw their hands up and call us ungovernable. Not that this gives them the idea they shouldn’t try. No. Instead, they try to devise more cunning ways of governing us. You have them to give credit for dreaming the impossible dream. It’s the one proof we have that the sons of beetles are Americans.

So… after sixty years of creeping statism, they’ve now “captured the flag” – they have actually got all of the important systems sewn up: news, entertainment, education, government.

They think – can you blame them? – that they won.

I won’t say they can’t hurt us. They can. The mechanisms they’ve seized hold of are important and they are – natch – misusing them.

I’m not saying that this will be easy. It won’t. Our economy is likely to be an incredible shambles, and I’ve said before I think we’ll lose at least one city.

But, listen, the problem with these sons of… Babel is that they might be American, but they’re not American ENOUGH. If they were, they’d understand “ungovernable” and this willingness for each of us to go it alone (often for common benefit, but on own recognizance, nonetheless) is not a bug. It’s a feature. And that it’s baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places. Some of the black sheep (or as one friend of mine calls it, the plaid sheep) attitude is genetic, hereditary, inborn. And enough of us have it.

I'll tell you what's really funny; I've basically returned to where I was back in '75 when I read Harry Browne's How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. If you haven't read it, I recommend you do. No spoilers here.

But the title says a lot.

Quote of the Day

"I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.'" -- PM Margaret Thatcher
Hat-tip: Blog friend Perry, via email.
But jk thinks:

The Executive Branch has been a disappointment. We are getting a few good voices in the US Senate, and the Tea Party movement showed that the sentiment is not dead. Pining for the fjords, perhaps, but not dead.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2012 4:57 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It is true there are some few good voices, brother. I ought to have been clearer; if Rand Paul is ever Majority Leader that would void my comment...but note Jim DeMint just quit. Up in Alaska, when a "Tea Partier" won the Republican nomination in '10 Senator Murkowski won the general as a write-in based on one big scare tactic: "Alaska will lose federal subsidies if that awful man replaces me!"

Even Alaska....

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 13, 2012 5:55 PM
But jk thinks:

And I am rarely charged with being over-Pollyannaish after '12.

Posted by: jk at December 13, 2012 5:59 PM
But dagny thinks:

I noted something else regarding this comment: Some bright boy below here wrote that, "English is a tricky language." I pay attention to M. Thatcher's mastery of the language. I love her phrase, "too many people have been GIVEN to understand..."

I think the solutions to the problem revolve around the questions, WHO gave them to understand and why. Their parents? Their neighbors? The government itself?

Posted by: dagny at December 13, 2012 6:36 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's merely a style of speech, and not strictly peculiar to the English. It doesn't mean "given" as in received something from someone, but that the people believe a certain things.

"Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." - Ephesians 4:19, KJV

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2012 7:27 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

It's merely a style of speech, and not strictly peculiar to the English. It doesn't mean "given" as in received something from someone, but that the people believe a certain thing.

"Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." - Ephesians 4:19, KJV

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 19, 2012 7:27 PM

Jon Caldera and Glenn Reynolds

I already crowed about last Monday's totally awesome Liberty on the Rocks - Flatirons talk from Jon Caldera.

Prof. Glenn Reynolds's NYPost article today establishes a similar theme. Republicans - God Bless Their Pea-pickin' Little Hearts -- are fortunate to have some big money donors. But is that money spent wisely?

Billionaire Sheldon Adelson alone donated $150 million. But Romney lost anyway, especially among unmarried women.

Caldera laments that Colorado Republicans (and I think we can all agree I have identified a particular brand of stupid) invest in personality. It's Bob Beauprez for Governor! Let's rent the mailing lists, let's buy some ads, let's kiss some babies! Win or lose, we'll be back in four years with a Mutatis Mutandis on the candidate's name. Please note that I was not calling Rep. Beauprez stupid; he is a non-stupid element in the set.

The left, Caldera says, invests in infrastructure. Teachers' Unions, ACLU, Abortion rights, Gay Rights, all have an office a quick walk from the Capitol building in Denver. Caldera's Independence Institute is the ONLY right-of-center spot down there. "They think in decades;" sez the big man, "we think in elections."

Caldera is perhaps thinking something more serious than a conservative internet sex advice website. But I think he'd agree with Reynolds's thesis:

My suggestion: Buy some women's magazines. No, really. Or at least some women's Web sites.

One of the groups with whom Romney did worst was female "low-information voters." Those are women who don’t really follow politics, and vote based on a vague sense of who's mean and who's nice, who’s cool and who's uncool.

Since, by definition, they don't pay much attention to political news, they get this sense from what they do read. And for many, that's traditional women's magazines -- Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, the Ladies Home Journal, etc. -- and the newer women's sites like YourTango, The Frisky, Yahoo! Shine, and the like.

The thing is, those magazines and Web sites see themselves, pretty consciously, as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. So while nine out of 10 articles may be the usual stuff on sex, diet and shopping, the 10th will always be either soft p.r. for the Democrats or soft -- or sometimes not-so-soft -- hits on Republicans.

I know the lovely bride had to let all her subscriptions lapse. She has tried a few of the big magazines but cannot handle those tenth articles Reynolds cites.

Now I sometimes click on a link to "The Frisky" when Reynolds links from Instapundit. (Yes, it is pretty good to work from home.) I don't know that we couldn't convert ThreeSources with or without Adelson money. "Top 7 Sex Toys for Canadian Lesbians!" We could do that. Then when an election nears, we sneak in some Ayn Rand...

December 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

Lindsay Lohan has apparently bagged herself a gen-u-wyine boyband rockstar-ish boyfriend (how'd that happen?) whose name is Max George, of the British band The Wanted. On Friday night, she partied (what else? did you think they sat around and discussed Kierkegaard motifs in the fiscal cliff?) -- Kiri Blakeley, The Stir
On the web Posted by John Kranz at 7:03 PM | What do you think? [0]

Meanwhile, In Buffy News...

LINKBAIT! A Ten Buffy Episodes List! JK is powerless.

This one is actually a bit different. AV Club's 10 episodes that show how Buffy The Vampire Slayer blew up genre TV

Hat-tip: The Whedonsque Blog, which mentions "Not necessarily the best episodes, though... " I confess I prefer the follow up list:

And if you like those, here are 10 more: Because the series worked in so many styles, many of the show's best hours have been relegated to this section to better make the above 10 representative of the series' breadth. Those merely interested after the above 10 are strongly advised to give these a shot. "Angel" (season one, episode seven); "Passion" (season two, episode 17); "Becoming (Part 1)" (season two, episode 21); "Becoming (Part 2)" (season two, episode 22); "The Wish" (season three, episode nine); "Hush" (season four, episode 10); "The Body" (season five, episode 16); "Older And Far Away" (season six, episode 14); "Conversations With Dead People" (season seven, episode seven); "Storyteller" (season seven, episode 16).

"Fool for Love" did not make either? I'm hurt.

Television Posted by John Kranz at 6:32 PM | What do you think? [0]

All Hail Taranto

I was thinking it, he wrote it:

Remember when police had to use pepper spray against Tea Party members who had started "scuffles," Tea Partiers tore down a tent erected by Nancy Pelosi fans, Tea Partiers assaulted a black man and shouted racial epithets at him--and the media uncritically relayed a description of the events as "peaceful"?

Neither do we.

Tea Party Posted by John Kranz at 4:52 PM | What do you think? [0]

75% Taxes! Mon Dieu!

I love Gerard Depardieu! The Wall Street Journal reports his relocation.

The latest rich Frenchman to make for the hills--or rather, the lowlands--is movie star Gérard Depardieu, who has recently become a resident of Belgium. Specifically, Estaimpuis, a small town less than half a mile from the French border. Per Estaimpuis Mayor Daniel Senesael: "He adores the canal, he adores the Burgundian castle, he adores the small butcheries, the cute little shops, the small corner cafe." No doubt.

France has no shortage of its own small, cute or Burgundy-related attractions. But Belgium has a few bonus points to attract the likes of Mr. Depardieu (estimated net worth: $120 million). Notably, Belgium has no capital-gains taxes on sales of shares and stock, while in France the Hollande-era effective rate comes to 34.5%, versus 19% previously. Belgium also lacks any "wealth tax," which under Mr. Hollande kicks in next year at 0.5% on assets over €800,000. Finally, Belgium's top marginal income-tax rate, at 53.7%, is positively Reaganesque compared to the new 75% rate that Mr. Hollande is imposing on incomes over €1 million.

But johngalt thinks:

How hard would that "wealth tax" have hit Mr. Depardieu? I'm firewalled out so I'll have to do the math myself. $120,000,000 - $800,000 = 119,200,000 taxable at 0.5 percent = $596,000. Per year.

"Should 99.5 percent appear too small,
"Be thankful I don't take it all, Tax Man!"

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2012 2:50 PM
But jk thinks:

He just likes the canal.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2012 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

And just because you'd do it to me: $120M - €800K = $118,954,719.77 * 0.05 = 594,773.59

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2012 3:31 PM
But jk thinks:

I'm auditioning to be M. Depardieu's accountant. I have already saved him over $1000.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2012 4:28 PM

The Coveted Hennessey Endorsement

S. 3412 is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad bill. I hate S. 3412 because it allows taxes to increase by $80ish B (that's a guess) next year. I hate that it raises revenues by increasing marginal rates rather than through tax reform-induced economic growth and by eliminating or scaling back tax deductions. I hate that it raises taxes on successful small business owners. I hate that it raises capital gains and dividend taxes. I hate that it creates more uncertainty and another cliff at the end of 2013. I hate that it doesn’t contain any spending cuts or entitlement reforms.
Other than that, Keith? Yeah -- I like it too!
If you share my policy views but think the President is not bluffing, and if you think that America cannot, under any circumstances, risk a no-bill scenario, then S. 3412 is your Option C. It does exactly what President Obama has been calling on Congress to do, it allows tax rates to increase on the rich. It just doesn’t also do other things that we know he wants to do, but which he has not been making the centerpiece of his kick-Republicans-around PR campaign.
I encourage you to read the whole piece. I think Keith Hennessey has found the parliamentary maneuver to vote "Present" and pass a Democratic bill. He does not mention sitting back and making popcorn.

This answers commenter AndyN's question as well if I read it right. And, unlike Hennessey, I'm no enemy of the sequester -- Jeeburz it cuts spending! Oh noes, not that!!!

All in all a good plan. Hat-tip: Insty

112th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:18 AM | What do you think? [0]



That's All

"Alan Brandt and Bob Haymes ©1952"

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com

I Love June Carter, I do.


Two letters from Johnny Cash to his wife of 35 years.

Hat-tip: @JonBois

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 11, 2012

Liberty on the Rocks

You should've been there. But you're not here for recriminations -- you're here to get well.

Jon Caldera, who cancelled some early appointments because of illness, was not only there, but he brought his A game. The man is not only knowledgeable, but also puts Jimmy Fallon to shame for comedy. Our table was laughing all night. My first instinct is to reprint all the jokes. They were great.

My second instinct is to try to provide an overview of his important points about politics -- how to go from being right to winning. But blog friend and last night's tablemate, Terri. has done a good job of that.

So I will focus on a stupefying, counter-intuitive thing he said which makes much sense but contradicts almost all my tactical beliefs. We, who meet in the basement [laughter] are minorities. I have always reminded liberty lovers that we are not a majority to encourage the building of coalitions. We cannot chase away the <potential coalition member> because we are only the 9-19% and we need them.

Caldera embraces our minority status and suggests deploying the tactics of other minorities. He highlights gay rights. Homosexuals number around 3% of the population, yet they have been able to move the electorate from death->castration->mental endorsing marriage with full rights and benefits, which Colorado will have in a few years.

I tell people we are only 9% -- yet the 3% have achieved their entire agenda in a few decades. Because, Caldera would say, our tolerant society says "I may not like it, but, yeah, you can go ahead if it means that much to you." We could, he suggests, get the same tolerance for illegal business relationships. Where a woman wants to work for her neighbor at less than minimum wage in exchange for convenience and flexibility. [And there are some jokes in this section you will just have to wait for the video to hear...]

Colorado, Caldera points out, has a seat belt law but no motorcycle helmet law. Which is potentially more dangerous? Who cares? If the legislature is voting on a helmet law, the two blocks around the capitol will be besieged with motorcycles (and sweaty beefy guys in leather). Car drivers are busy picking up the kids and their freedom vanishes.

Realize you're a minority. Tell stories of how The Man is sticking it to you. Make noise (he suggested we start the civil disobedience by trashing the restaurant in which we were meeting).

Fun, fascinating and counter-intuitive evening. Brad taped it and I hope they will have video available. A (tri-corner of course) hat was passed for the group to buy its own camera for future events.

But another superb night for the group our blog brother Bryan cofounded. Another superb night.

Colorado Posted by John Kranz at 3:02 PM | What do you think? [0]

Quote of the Day

While chatting over coffee, a friend of The Refugee observed:

You can choose your course or action, but you can't choose the consequence of that action.
The Refugee will not provide attribution, as he's not sure the friend would want it nor if it is truly original to that friend. However, it seemed a rather profound observation that certainly applies to economics and many (perhaps all) aspects of life.
Quote of the Day Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:55 PM | What do you think? [7]
But jk thinks:

Two thoughts.

1. Mmmm coffee.

2. I dunno, bro. I think a grown up assigns a certain probability to potential consequences and assesses risk accordingly. "How did I know that lighted match was gonna start a fire?"

I have heard and frequently quote (and need someday to learn details) that Judaism requires a donor to be responsible for efficacy and consequences of charity. I like that -- I was raised on "well, you tried" if you give $500 to a junkie to pay his rent.

My problem with the quote is its seeming absolution for such an assessment -- me miss something?

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2012 2:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Missed jg's in the aether -- I think he and I may be closer on this one.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2012 2:50 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is always up for coffee. We're kinda overdue.

The Refugee considers this thought in these practical contexts: you can't take out a student loan and then be angry at the bank for expecting it to be paid back; you can't tax producers and fail to recognize what causes unemployment; you can't decide to work a strict 40 hour week and then complain that you neighbor, who works 80 hours, has a larger house; you can't live on other people's money for decades and then riot when they stop giving it to you.

Just to name a few.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 11, 2012 3:51 PM
But jk thinks:

English is a tricky language. I (and, I am guessing, jg) read the exact opposite: that I am not liable for the consequences because "how are you ever going to know? You can't choose consequences..."

I assumed one of my Facebook frineds had stolen your password.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2012 4:05 PM
But Jk thinks:

And, I'm sorry jg, if you really miss the twenty that much, I'll give it back. I had no idea...

Posted by: Jk at December 12, 2012 4:16 AM
But johngalt thinks:

How about this then, as being more in line with BR's examples: "You can choose your course or action, but the consequences are beyond your control. If a consequence is predictable, and avoidance of it desirable, then choose accordingly."

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2012 2:26 PM

December 10, 2012

Meanwhile, in Buffy News...

ThreeSources Fave Eliza Dushku (you're welcome) has a new gig:

EXCLUSIVE: Buffy The Vampire Slayer alumna Eliza Dushku is set to co-star opposite Adam Rayner in The Saint, a backdoor pilot from Brad Krevoy's film and TV production company MPCA. No network has been attached. Simon West is directing the pilot from a script by Jesse Alexander. Alexander is set as showrunner of the project, a new take on Leslie Charteris' The Saint 70-book franchise. It will follow the exploits of Simon Templar (Rayner), a brilliant criminal who uses his considerable illicit skills as a modern-day Robin Hood as he infuriates local law enforcement and woos Patricia Holm (Dushku), his on-again, off-again romance.

Alumna? fetching she may be, I don't generally regard her as plural.

And...modern day Robin Hood? I think ThreeSourcers may be forced to choose twixt pulchritude and philosophy...

Television Posted by John Kranz at 4:39 PM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Didn't you know, "alumna" is the feminine form of the term.

(Thx for the requisite "Robin Hood" opprobrium, saving me the effort.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2012 7:45 PM

Liberty on the Rocks

** SPACE IS LIMITED AND THIS EVENT IS SURE TO FILL UP: please RSVP before 9:00pm on Sunday, December 9th, and plan to arrive at 6pm the day of the event. If there is space, at 6:15 we will then allow folks who have not RSVP'd to join us until the room is at capacity. **

Join us on Monday, December 10th, where your special guest speaker will be Mr. Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute. After Mr. Caldara's presentation there will be short Q&A, followed by the opportunity to network with other local liberty supporters. Come for the event, stay for the food and networking -- you're guaranteed a great evening no matter what!

This event is open to the public, bring your friends!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:44 PM | What do you think? [3]
But jk thinks:

It's billed as "The last happy hour of 2012."

Kinda negative, isn't it? Brother Bryan into the Mayan thing? Hates Christmas Carols?

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2012 3:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Well he didn't actually preclude the possibility of another one in 2013.

I'm waiting patiently for your account of the evening. I'm close to Jon in age, point of view, and once did duty as a Boulder Republican so I consider him almost a brother from another mother, even though we've never met. Despite this, he doesn't rise to the level of ditching my kids for a few hours to hear him talk - like Yaron Brook and Craig Biddle did.

Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2012 2:42 PM
But jk thinks:

I never fail to honor a request.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2012 3:48 PM

Quote of the Day

If Ms. Winfrey can mobilize one of our most powerful publishing houses into action as though it were a pack of panicked cadets at reveille, what chance does a mere author have to escape with her dignity intact? With the possible exceptions of Toni Morrison and Cormac McCarthy, every writer endorsed by Ms. Winfrey has seemed fawning and peripheral when sitting next to her on a couch during her show. Jonathan Franzen will be remembered by wiki-posterity for his ingratitude, his made-for-TV 2001 spat with Ms. Winfrey and their subsequent uplifting reconciliation. So spare a thought for Ms. Mathis, whose career is assured but who will know as she passes through the battery of photo-ops and gassy interviews that her novel has been transformed into just another of Oprah's Favorite Things, along with panini presses and shea-butter bath soaps. -- Sam Sacks, reviewing "The Twelve Tribes of Hattie" by Ayana Mathis
Art Posted by John Kranz at 3:37 PM | What do you think? [0]


The WSJ Ed Page printed Kim Strassel's -- I thought convincing -- editorial counseling the GOP to let tax rates rise and enjoy the consequences.

Today, and a bit in its weekend program, the board takes a tougher stand:

It's certainly true that Republicans can't stop a tax rate increase if Mr. Obama is determined to make it happen. The Bush-era rates automatically go up on January 1, and the House can't extend them alone.

But Mr. Obama also can't get what he wants without House Republicans. He needs their votes to extend current rates for lower-income taxpayers, as well as to prevent the Alternative Minimum Tax from hitting 27 million more taxpayers. Most of those new AMT taxpayers live in high-tax Democratic states. Meanwhile, the death tax rate reverts to 55% and a $1 million exemption. Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2014 won't want that on their resume.

For all of his bluster about blaming Republicans, Mr. Obama also knows a budget failure would do enormous harm to his chances of second-term success. It would guarantee at least two more years of trench budget warfare and poison the chances of immigration or other reform. Another recession would be on his watch, not on George W. Bush's.

The point is that Republicans have more leverage than they imagine, and they ought to act like it. A good start would be for the House to pass a bill this week extending all the tax rates for six months and fixing the defense spending cuts coming in January. Then ask Senate Democrats to pass their own bill, and they can negotiate with the President under regular Congressional order.

I'm still in the Brave Sir Robin camp myself -- just being fair and balanced

But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I am now member of the "Let it Burn" camp. "The public" has spoken; what would Miss Rand say? Go Rand Paul, pass exactly what Obama asks for and vote present. The sooner we get the Big One out of the way the sooner we can form the Second Republic, or the Confederation of Free Republics or whatever. There is no England anymore, and there are no principles on the line here worth dying at the barricades for.

Let. It. Burn.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 10, 2012 6:06 PM
But AndyN thinks:

Is there a reason the House Republicans can't just say "We already passed a plan setting spending and tax limits, and have done so every year we've been in the majority. When the Senate passes theirs, which they haven't done for 4 years, we'll meet them in conference committee and hash out the differences"? I understand that it would be a move that's easy for the press and the Democrats to caricature as obstructionism and most voters won't like it, but voters obviously don't like responsible government in general, so that's nothing new.

Posted by: AndyN at December 10, 2012 8:58 PM

The Unbearable Lightness of the Teachers' Union...

These people teach our kids? So many things in life make sense now.

I had heard about this, but really did not bother to see how bad it was. Ed Answer, check, California Teachers' Union, check. The animated micturition received most of the press, but I think better questions are "Why?" and "For whom?":

Education Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | What do you think? [1]
But johngalt thinks:

Finally, a believable explanation for President Obama's obsession with punishing "the rich." He clearly watched this cartoon!

"Some people weren't too sure about this so the rich people bought newspapers and TV and radio stations and internet companies and paid them to repeat over and over, "Someday you will be rich too. There is no alternative."

So repeating lies to impressionable people, over and over again is, like, bad. Right? Was this video really aired in public schools?

"Rich people got worried. They thought, if the people get mad enough at us they might take some of our money!"

"Take?" If they can take some, why don't they take it all?

I do have one question though: What does the narrator mean by, "All profits trickle up, by definition, because labor is a business expense?" He says it as though it's a short but thorough debunking of the myth that the rich "take advantage of" the poor but I'm not seeing it.

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2012 3:31 PM

Et tu, Nick Kristof?

NYTimes has a new neocon -- Nicholas Kristof.

Maybe I overstate, but a friend of this blog sends a link:

In an eyebrow raising article, liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof offered a startling concession: "This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America's safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire."

Writing from Jackson, Kentucky, Mr. Kristof reported that numerous poor parents in Appalachian hill country are yanking their kids out of literacy classes in order to bag a $689 monthly Supplemental Security Income (S.S.I.) check per kid. The checks continue until the child reaches 18 years of age.

"The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check," said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. "It's heartbreaking."

Cornell University Economics Professor Richard V. Burkhauser says parents are inducing illiteracy to keep the taxpayer-funded welfare checks rolling in. "One of the ways you get on this program is having problems in school. If you do better in school, you threaten the income of the parents. It's a terrible incentive," said Professor Burkhauser.

Kristof's Bluegrass State redemption even includes an admission that marriage has economic benefits. Quell Horreur!
But the New York Times' Kristof appears to have found religion on the economic and developmental virtues of marriage as well: "A growing body of careful research suggests that the most effective strategy is to work early on children and education, and to try to encourage and sustain marriage," Kristof writes.

Oh well, maybe he can get a job on FOX.

UPDATE: Michael Barone read the same Kristof column.

Breathitt County, by the way, has long been a heavily Democratic county. Even in 1972 it voted 59% for Democrat George McGovern over Republican Richard Nixon. But it's in coal country and it voted 53% for John McCain in 2008 and 66% for Mitt Romney in 2012. More proof that Romney's 47% remark was not only hugely ill-advised but simply inaccurate.

But johngalt thinks:

Wait, do you mean to say, if you subsidize something you'll get more of it? If only we'd known!

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2012 11:36 AM

December 9, 2012

Review Corner

And now for something completely different. After three Randian books, I read -- at the suggestion of a good friend of this blog -- Francis Collins's The Language of God. Collins attempts to sell belief to scientists and science to believers. Before we begin, it is worth noting that he is something of a Hoss. From his Amazon page:

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., helped to discover the genetic misspellings that cause cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington's disease, and a rare form of premature aging called progeria. A pioneer gene hunter, he led the Human Genome Project from 1993 until 2008. For his revolutionary contributions to genetic research, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, and the National Medal of Science in 2009.

The book is very well written and I enjoyed it. As I confessed to my recommender, in 11 years of Catholic school education, I received exactly one semester of intellectually rigorous theology. He and another good friend did hard time with the Jesuits. I wish I had encountered more. The most enlightening spiritual parts of his book may be the C.S. Lewis and St. Augustine quotes. I've read a little Lewis and Zero Augz.

What the book did really well is sell science to the believer. Most of the text is devoted to providing a theological context to evolution and the big bang. Collins is no friend of Creationism, Intelligent Design, or Young Earthers (Senator Rubio, line one...) I confess that most people I know accept every word of his. It matches what I was taught in Catholic schools. I never saw science as the enemy to belief.

I found it less convincing in the converse: selling belief to the scientist. To Collins belief is self-reinforcing and the arguments sound circular. I don't know that this is bad -- that's what faith is right? Once it is demonstrable, it ceases to be faith -- no salvation for "Rock, Hard." He certainly provides a framework for the scientist to accept belief, but I didn't find the Tolkien-finally-breaks-down-Lewis argument.

I was troubled by the denial of human qua human greatness. I argue this on Facebook with my atheist buddies. Bushels of Carl Sagan quotes about how we are the hair on a bacteria of a flea of the dog that is the universe -- and why do we think we're so damn special? A lefty buddy asks me to prove that we are the only animal with free will. I suggest "deferred production" and he comes up with the example of a slime mold that leaves some bacteria to grow. Yes, JC, I admit it: us and slime mold, we're the great creatures endowed with free will and reason.

Collins does score by pointing out that:

By any estimation, the biological complexity of human beings considerably exceeds that of a roundworm, with its total of 959 cells, even though the gene count is similar for both. And certainly no other organism has sequenced its own genome!

Yet he later provides a long C.S. Lewis quote that ends :
But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods.... They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, "This is our business, not yours." But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives. We have no idea in what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence.

My belief was always more defined by "render unto Caesar..." we are completely free to operate in the material, mammon sphere if we behave well. We're adjectives now?

I am not comfortable telling a guy like Collins, or my many believing friends of liberty not to believe. The Richard Dawkinses and even sadly the Christopher Hitchenses and Penn Jilletts can be as tiresome to me as TV preachers. Many people accept democratic capitalism under a rubric of love-thy-neighbor, I choose a render-under-Caesar appreciation of reason and consistent philosophy.

Very interesting read -- four stars.

Review Corner Posted by John Kranz at 10:31 AM | What do you think? [2]
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Oddly enough, more than six years ago, I was part of a discussion on this very same book, but from the other side of the coin - from the theological half. JK, you write that though Collins did well is sell science to the believer; selling belief to the scientist, not so much. I humbly propose that he didn't do as great a job of selling science to the believers as you might think. Here's that 2006 discussion:

The blog, Pura Locura, is no longer active, but here are the major actors:

Pablo (blogging as "pableezy," as the original name of the blog was "Pableezy's Sheezy," and you may make of that what you will), proprietor of the blog, and a nice guy. His was a youth leader at a church near here that was once theologically sound, and then embraced postmodernism.

John (blogging as J-Lou), a former youth leader in the same church, an adherent of the Emerging Church Movement of Brian McLaren, a theological liberal, and most recently a proponent of "Social Justice" with urban youth.

Steve (blogging as "steve w" in this discussion), senior pastor of the same church.

Yours truly (blogging at the time as "Qoheleth," and often addressed simply as "Q").

Most of the other incidental participants were young adults and college-age commentors who were a part of the youth group Pableezy and J-Lou had led. I will apologize in advance both for the lack of grammar and youth-oriented writing (none of the participants there had the advantage of holding a copy of the Three Sources Stylebook) and for the theological underpinnings that some may find tedious. Think of it as another side of me that I don't inflict on my blog-brothers over here, if you would.

So, I wasn't all that impressed with Collins' book from that side of the coin, either.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 10, 2012 12:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Superb. For the internet, I'd call that great grammar and spelling.

It's a big world, isn't it? Thanks for the link.

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2012 11:04 AM

December 8, 2012

The Strategic Retreat Chorus Grows

Larry Kudlow is in. I just caught Thursday's show last night (Yay TiVo and Yaayy Broncos!). It was not one to miss.

Here is the Gov. Dean piece The Refugee quoted. Gotta raise taxes on everybody, not just the rich!

But the jewel for me was Senator Rand Paul (HOSS - KY). He confirmed my parliamentary suspicions, and favors strategic retreat to getting killed in a compromise:

Senator Rand Paul, who may have the best idea, told me in an interview this week that he's prepared to pin the tail on Obama's tax-and-spend donkey. "In the Senate," Paul said, "I'm happy not to filibuster it, and I will announce tonight on your show that I will work with Harry Reid to let him pass his big old tax hike, with a simple majority, if that's what Harry Reid wants, because then they will become the party of high taxes, and they can own it."
Mister Mencken had it right: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."

UPDATE: I left out that Kudlow repeated this to his guests on Friday in the spirit of endorsement. Elections have consequences, right H.L.?

But jk thinks:

Yup, and I do NOT mean this in a millenarian, "when we're living like Mad Max instead of Mad Men, they'll see I was right, bwahahaha!" sense. If the Republicans "win" we'll muddle along slowly thanks to other Administration policies. If they "lose" we'll muddle more slowly and have a chance to fix it in 2014. It's not like a flat tax and 91% are the choices.

Good and Hard.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2012 12:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Having listened to both this Rand Paul interview and the 30 second Huntsman blurb that drew adhominem below I'm struck by the contrast between direct yes or no answers to legislative questions in Rand's case versus sweeping generalities devoid of specifics from the governor.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2012 12:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're right that the range of compromise on the table is only shades of gray. What I think we also agree on is there is no political gain to be had by continuing to obstruct. Ten pounds of "extreme" for one pound, nay, one ounce of economic liberty. Were the prospects for compromise between the status quo or replacement of federal income taxes with a national sales tax we should all tie our bodies to the tracks.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2012 12:37 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Moreover, the principle over which Republicans obstruct is far bigger than the proposed rate hike. We may even suggest that the Democrats pass their one-party soak-the-rich tax at a much much higher rate. It must be done very publicly though, with great fanfare: "The nation has elected Democrats who wish to take more money from those whose success is greatest. If this is such a good idea, why are they so timid about it? If they are in the right to take 39% then why not 49? 59? Mister President, where are your balls?"

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2012 12:50 PM
But dagny thinks:

I'm afraid this strategy makes me nervous. As included in a discussion below regarding the ideas of Marx, irrational people are incapable of connecting consequences to the IDEAS which caused them. So why should we expect people to connect the continued economic malaise to the polices of the Obama administration policies they voted for. "Clearly no matter how much we soak-the-rich, it was insufficient if things didn't improve."

Posted by: dagny at December 10, 2012 11:55 AM
But jk thinks:

That is a concern and a highly plausible outcome, dagny. That is why I want it to pass without a GOP vote.

It is important in this strategy, as Larry Kudlow says to "pin the tail on the Democrats."

I like this in the context of the other alternatives. We lost and cannot exert our will. The President and Senate Majority Leader are both ideologues who want to punish the rich more than they want growth or prosperity (feel free to rephrase that a little less harshly, but they are pretty devoted).

The other very real alternative is to play brinksmanship right through, drive the economy into recession, get little or no spending cuts -- and then still be blamed for the bad economy but somewhat legitimately.

The retreat is the least worst option. If that makes it the best...

Posted by: jk at December 10, 2012 1:09 PM

December 7, 2012

JK Agrees with Kim Strassel!

I know, hold the presses!

But my favorite opinion writer nails it today. I have said it, she said it better: give the President his stupid tax increase, vote "Present" and let it be the Democrats' gift to a gleeful nation.

The president will also finally have to show his math. He has argued his entire presidency that America's debt hole could be filled by soaking the rich. He'll now get his way, in a bill that likely provides $800 billion in revenue over 10 years, or $80 billion a year. To repeat: $80 billion a year. That is 7% of the $1.1 trillion deficit Mr. Obama ran in fiscal year 2012 alone. His tax hikes in hand, he can now explain why the hole keeps getting bigger.

Especially as no further tax revenue will be forthcoming. The president's grand plan was to pocket the top tax rates and commit the GOP to later tax "reform" worth an additional $800 billion in closed tax deductions. His leverage has been holding hostage the middle-class rates. That hostage will now be dead. The GOP will have no reason to give him more.

Nor will Mr. Obama get any of the spending wish list he sent to House Speaker John Boehner last week, since a deal was his only real shot at slipping in some of that money. No $50 billion in stimulus. No extension of unemployment insurance or payroll tax holiday. No money for his mortgage program.

We're not going to win this one. Strassel suggests a managed retreat, and I think she is right.
No question, the Republicans would suffer a bitter defeat if top marginal income-tax rates rise. Then again, if those rates are going up anyway--either because we go off the cliff or because Mr. Obama maneuvers them into a panicked, last-minute deal--the rational GOP response is to instead choose a deliberate course that mitigates its own political damage, and lands some blows. This is the corner our intransigent president has backed Republicans into.

So, that Obama "victory": On Jan. 1, the president gets to give a news conference gloating over his tax win. He then faces four years and 20 days of a presidency marked by his ownership of a faltering economy, a spiraling debt problem, automatic sequester cuts, no prospect of further spending or tax revenue, and a debt-ceiling time bomb. If that's this president's idea of "victory," maybe it's what he deserves.

But Boulder Refugee thinks:

I think it was Kudlow last night showing a clip of Howard Dean admitting that we can't close the gap on the rich alone - taxes will have to go up for everyone. Don't expect such honesty to be widely covered.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 7, 2012 12:33 PM

That Morman Governor Who Ran for President

Politics Posted by John Kranz at 12:10 PM | What do you think? [8]
But jk thinks:

The Governor had his flaws, but he was a credible voice for truce on social issues. I'd love to hear which part of that 30 second clip angers Mr. Belk or my blog brother jg.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2012 11:16 AM
But jk thinks:

I second the appreciation for the comment. We enjoy respectful engagement 'round here.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2012 11:19 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Nothing here not to like, since he didn't say anything controversial. "Fringe issues" is in the eye of the beholder. A democrat, be he Republican or Democrat, may well hear that as an admonition against the TEA Party "extremism" of tax cuts for the rich or some such.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2012 12:30 PM
But Jk thinks:

Perhaps both my new friend and I put it in the context of a campaign where here fulsomely eschewed popular in the primary positions against gay marriage and abortion.

Not like it was close but one wonders how much harder the Sandra Fluke war on women nonsense would be if the GOP candidate were socially moderate.

Posted by: Jk at December 8, 2012 6:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Your new friend called him "marginalized" not just in the GOP but "throughout the political spectrum." Kind of hard to wrap one's mind around the idea that any politician can be outside of the group defined as "all politicians" but for my part I'll point my criticism at Governor Huntsman's penchant for a meandering rhetorical style that leaves most wondering what in the hell he just said. And while I fulsomely welcome a challenge to the social positions that routinely put the GOP at a disadvantage with those younger than dirt, I can't recall a single time that he did so with care and understanding for the sensibilities of the "bitter clingers." Don't they (and we) have feelings too? Only homosexuals get to be mollycoddled? The condescention was restrained, but it was there.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2012 7:35 PM
But jk thinks:

For the record, I'd never take Gov. Huntsman over Sen. Rand Paul. And I did not post this as a "woulda-shoulda" The Governor lost fair and square.

But at the end of the day, I cannot help but feel that we lost because of many of the side roads and alleys he decries.

Posted by: jk at December 9, 2012 11:44 AM

Quote of the Day

Two years into a six-year term, DeMint decided there was nothing going on in the Senate worth sticking around for, at least in the near future -- another four years of President Obama, another two to four years of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. No conservative reform likely to be enacted, no likely prospect of constructive compromise, nothing likely to get done. That is some depressing stuff there, brother. -- Jim Geraghty
I share his disappointment. Mister DeMint is needed in the US Senate.
113th Congress Posted by John Kranz at 11:40 AM | What do you think? [0]

Macro Follies

Oh, yeah:

Hat-tip: Insty

On the web Posted by John Kranz at 11:33 AM | What do you think? [0]

December 6, 2012

A Good Wedge Issue?

The lovely bride posts this on Facebook:

Bob Costas's little diatribe has stirred up all the right people. I'm not sure the faculty at West Connecticut State College was tuned into Sunday Night Football. I talk about my lefty pals, but the 2nd Amendment supporters seem charged up.

Insty links to an Examiner editorial today by Brian Hughes titled "Obama expected to push gun control in second term"

"I expect President Obama to take the lead on closing the gaping hole in our 'system' for keeping guns from criminals, underage youth and other prohibited persons," Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said. "The federal government's failure to require all gun sellers to verify that prospective gun owners have passed a background check before transferring a firearm is the single biggest flaw in the current system."

Yeah, you always see the gangbangers at the gun shows, lined up for a chance at a vintage remanufactured 1911 with no background checks.

But the GOP is on the wrong side of many "wedge" issues. If you don't agree with me philosophically, at least admit that reproductive rights and gay rights are popular. And they are popular not only in a "Gallup says 63% of registered voters..." sense. We saw with Sandra Fluke in 2012 and the stunning opposition to Ken Buck for Colorado Senate in 2010 that reproductive rights powerfully define "membership." A candidate who can be painted in opposition (Paul Ryan? really?) can be immediate discredited. A group of voters has zero interest in hearing anything from a candidate that is not unabashedly supportive of contraception, abortion, gay marriage -- irrespective of funding or regulation or other picayune details.

The GOP's weapon of choice is gun rights, and I salivate -- not directly on the Ruger P95, but I salivate -- that the Democrats might overstep. Like contraception, you can discount its importance in a big world of $16T debt. And yet, the GOP stands proudly on the side of individual liberty, personal responsibility, and respect for Constitutional principles.

I don't say "bring it on" very frequently, as I am used to being in political minority. But I fear the progressives might be bringing a strongly-worded letter to a gun fight.

Gun Rights Posted by John Kranz at 12:27 PM | What do you think? [6]
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Ever since Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee (and therefore the presidency) due to his anti-gun agenda, gun control has been the third rail to Democrats. The Refugee is with JK - he'd love to see 'em touch Old Sparky again. Dems may hate the NRA, but they don't mess with 'em.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 6, 2012 5:46 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The Ruger P95 is an excellent choice for a budget 9mm, but if you really want to salivate, consider the Sig Sauer P229 DAK in the .40 incarnation.

And if you're going to say "bring it on" in a gun post, I believe the Three Sources Stylebook says the proper way of spelling that is "MOLON LABE."

Putting the above aside, there's one serious issue I'd like to add to this discussion, and that's a thought on your third-to-last paragraph: being on the wrong side of an issue, versus popularity. I'd hasten to add that what is popular or what is chosen by the majority isn't always what is the right side of an issue. Obama has won now two presidential elections; quod erat demonstrandum. Once upon a time, the majority in significant places thought it was right to require blacks to sit at the back of the bus. The majority sometimes only decides who wins, not who's right. I'd posit that the losing side isn't always the wrong side (thank you, Malcolm Reynolds), and it wasn't the wrong side in November.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 6, 2012 7:00 PM
But jk thinks:

I have a P95 and budget is apt. It has a smoothness that I really dig.

If my research is correct, "MOLON LABE" is Greek for "from my cold dead hands, Mister President!" That about right?

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2012 7:15 PM
But dagny thinks:

You know it wouldn't be any fun around here if we didn't disagree. I am not convinced that Gun Control is always a losing issue for the Democrats.

They make hay on the Gun Control argument on cases like this one in KC where "innocent," people need to be protected from themselves and others. That football player was as far as I know not a criminal before he shot his girlfriend and therefore our current laws would not have prevented his gun ownership. But obviously HE would have been better off if he hadn't been able to buy a gun. The same argument comes up when some kindergartener takes daddy's gun to school and shoots some other kindergartener. Don't we have a responsibility to protect these people and others from their own stupidity?

This argument carries weight with a large segment of the population who do not own guns and therefore their rights are not being infringed. They believe it's OK to infringe others rights for, "their own protection." It's for the children.

Posted by: dagny at December 6, 2012 7:32 PM
But Terri thinks:

I just want to thank your lovely bride for the eye candy!

Posted by: Terri at December 7, 2012 9:53 AM
But jk thinks:

@Terri: Hahahahahaha! It is only right after all the Charisma Carpenter pix. Actually, the man's voice is confectionary to me. Just looking at that pic makes me want to load up my Dodge Ram truck with Coors Banquet Beer and go see "The Big Lebowski."

@Dagny: Yes but. The point I was going for -- and poorly made -- was between "sticky" issues and general discontent. Yes the gun stance will chase away a few, it's a big country. But those are at the margins or might be leaning the other way or might get pissed off about something else the stupid party does.

The "Reagan Democrats" however, will oppose their Union, disregard campaign flaws and crawl over glass to oppose Senator Feinstein's brigades. The NRA had been fairly silent for a couple quadrennials. This makes Old Sparky (@BR: Hahahahahha!) a net plus.

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2012 11:24 AM

December 5, 2012

Reconsidering 2016

It seems to me that most of us Three Sourcers had a pretty good idea that the election of Mitt Romney was not going to "solve" America's problems. We didn't talk about it much, explicitly, but deep in our hearts I think this extraordinarily bright collection of humans knew that this is the way things really are.

He gives it the catchy title "The Dark Enlightnement" but I might just call it reality. If you have a few minutes, read the piece and let us discuss our next move. I don't think mine will be to research whether Rubio, Ryan or Jindahl is the best choice for 2016...

But Bryan thinks:

My God that was depressing. And Awesome!

Posted by: Bryan at December 5, 2012 4:50 PM
But Steve D thinks:

The endarkenment

Posted by: Steve D at December 5, 2012 4:56 PM
But jk thinks:

...and I just crawled back off the ledge where I was going to jump after the election.

Every word of the linked piece is true (I suspect the authenticity of the Franklin quote as well) and yet what a Hoppe never concedes is the great run of Constitutional Republicanism in the United States. It took us almost two hundred years to break the fine machine that Madison et all constructed -- and we can still use it to assert rights of speech and self-defense unfathomable in other modern and free Democracies.

The rise of the United States from backwoods colonies in the 18th Century to Argentina's economic equal in the 19th to a superpower in the 20th to hegemon in the 21st makes me think that there might be something to that Constitution thingy.

I love reading Hoppe and Lysander Spooner and Lord Acton. Their beliefs reinforce many of the things I hold true. But what I strive for is attention to the US Constitution, accepting its warts Even accepting the 16th and 17th Amendments which ruin it.

On this day, dear friends, we repealed prohibition and ratified the 21st Amendment. Hope lives.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 5:01 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Brother jk, I love your optimism, which mirrors my own natural inclination. But the inexorable logic of the situation seems well, inexorable.

I will be out of touch until tomorrow, when I hope to get more into the "what should be done" of the situation.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 5, 2012 5:15 PM
But jk thinks:

I am calling for tempered pessimism. No, the United States is unlikely to return to its pre-progressive, lasseiz faire liberty. But we've seen Canada, Finland and Sweden roll back government. It can be done.

Consistent with Reason 40th Anniversary: yes, government is going to hell, but freedom advances in other spheres. We have the TSA, but we have the Internet. In the heat of an election -- or after a disastrous one, I know that sounds like the consolation prize, but it's a vector as certain as democracy -- and it points the right way.

Removing self-directed rule in fear of democracy is tossed around pretty cavalierly by the anarcho crowd. I really don't want to move to Singapore, Dubai, or Hong Kong in spite of high economic freedom.

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 6:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I got me this cabin in the woods...


Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2012 6:31 PM

My Greatest Facebook Argument of all Time

A lefty friend of this blog posts a video of Mister Rodgers testifying before the US Senate in 1969, defending the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from threatened Nixon cuts (our 37th's finest hour).

I thought of pointing out that in 1969, there was no cable TV. I thought of pointing out that quality CPB/PBS programming could prosper without subsidies or that many are already quite successful. But, I decided that I was clever:

I'm gonna answer with a little song..."Oh Mister Handsome Combover Senator Man, read Article I, Section 8 as soon as you can. It will tell you in a paragraph or two, what the boys and the girls in Congress may do. Before you get to milk and cookie time, read Amendment Ten -- it comes right after nine! After storytime, Senator you'll see, that government run media is not commensurate with a polity free."
But jk thinks:

Got this cheerful and rational response:

It is not "Government Run" nor is the BBC in the UK. Conspiracy Conspiracy Conspiracy!!!!!!! Scream. The liberals are going to make this a Communist country. Buy more guns. There's a War on Christmas. There's no global warming -- it's all a liberal lie. Death panels. Uggghhhhh!

Eight exclamation marks! I am having a very good day!

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 12:37 PM

Quote of the Day

But I don't blame Bob Costas. I blame the microphone. I blame the microphone. If that microphone hadn't been on, nobody would know what Costas said. If you stop and think about it, it's the microphone's fault. Costas, he's up there, he's in the broadcast booth at halftime. -- Rush Limbaugh via Ed Driscoll

December 4, 2012


Been far too long since the last Heinlein quote of the day and I was handed the perfect segue for one of my favorites. In fact, I can't believe I've not quoted this one here yet but a site search for "sonnet" produced no hits.

Repeat commenter Steve D (more please!) sez [fifth comment]: "No one human being can do everything, nor should he." I've read the one about nobody knowing how to do everything to make a simple wooden pencil, and I'm not advocating that someone quit his day job and go into business competing with Eberhard Faber or Blackfoot Indian Writing Company (they still around?) But I will say that an industrious enough person could make a pencil all by himself, if necessary. It would take days and cost much more but it could be done if, say, the free market were ever effectively outlawed by one too many mandate or tax.

The comment was in a thread discussing comparative advantage, but that contributor to efficiency and prosperity is a luxury that requires a basic framework of free trade before it can be brought to bear. Sometimes this doesn't exist, either in a revolution or on a frontier. It is in that environment where one does well to heed the advice of the Sci-Fi master:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. - RAH, 'Time Enough for Love' (1973)
But jk thinks:

David Ricardo is having a rough week 'round these parts...

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2012 7:45 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not sayin' he's wrong, just that he'd have a hard time surviving in the jungle.

Posted by: johngalt at December 6, 2012 6:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Yet, curiously, the best way to learn is to be marooned on a desert island

Posted by: jk at December 6, 2012 6:50 PM

Storage Technology meets Shameless Self Promotion

Thankfully, both are ThreeSources categories.

The bulk of my growed-up professional career has been in data storage. Our company built products around Exabyte's 8mm tape drives. Your grandpa perhaps recorded movies on those tapes in his Sony Camcorder. I wrote brochures extolling the wonder of "tapes that fit in your shirt pocket." They replaced washing-machine-sized disks and the Kubrick-2001-style reels of 9-track tapes.

Ahh, storage nostalgia, I know many eyes are getting misty (we have a preponderance of storage folk 'round these parts). But improvements in storage quickly leave your backups worthless for any kind of long term access.

Today Runté, a professor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, backs up to multiple devices and advises grad students to send a hard copy of every new chapter of their all-important theses to the most reliable of off-site backups: Mom.

Runté's experience points to the ultimate, inevitable problem with data storage: All interfaces and formats eventually die. Data storage consultant Tom Coughlin, founder of Coughlin Associates, calls it a fight against nature, saying, "the laws of thermodynamics are against you."

I just started a long procrastinated project to digitize a storage tub full of my old recordings. I want to put some of the best up as The JK Boxed Set. Has-been artists collect a lot of their old crap to release and I thought it time I get on it.

I am glad I am doing it, because I am encountering several missing formats and some that will certainly be tough in a few years. There were a few formats that I did not have, but most of that was raw tracks and I assumed I had the final mixes on something that I could read. Some formats are missing and some of the media is failing.

I know everybody wants a backup they can put their hand on, and I will toss this on an external hard disk, but barring a Mad Max Ayn Rand societal collapse, I think the answer is cloud storage. This will live on my hosting site, I could create a Gmail account, plus these live on YouTube and Vimeo. With the growth of data, a measly 10s of Gigs is not going to be anything anybody worries about., Right?

But johngalt thinks:

Is there a downside to cheap, reliable terabyte scale data storage? Only insofar as government is involved. But these days, what isn't government involved in?

The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.


RT: You say they sift through billions of e-mails. I wonder how do they prioritize? How do they filter it?

WB: I don’t think they are filtering it. They are just storing it. I think it’s just a matter of selecting when they want it. So, if they want to target you, they would take your attributes, go into that database and pull out all your data.


RT: What are they going to do with all of that? Ok, they are storing something. Why should anybody be concerned?
WB: If you ever get on the enemies list, like Petraeus did or… for whatever reason, than you can be drained into that surveillance.

Probably deserves its own post, but the tie-in was too ironic to pass up. Worth at least a brief click through.

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2012 2:58 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee is considering a business model that will make him the Bernie Madoff of Cloud storage. That is, create a website that advertises to backup your data for just $.05 per GB per month. Then, when the user backs up their data, every last byte goes straight into the ol' bit bucket. No backend storage whatsoever. Users can't find their data? They musta screwed something up. Then just as the Feds come sniffing around, sell all credit card numbers to the Russian mafia on the way to the airport.

Seriously, everyone assumes that Cloud hosters are both here forever and best-practice organizations. It's a matter of time before one of them blows up petabytes of data, never to be recovered.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 5, 2012 3:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Observation the one: You never know if your immigration, abortion, gun rights, or football post will draw comments on ThreeSources. But storage brings out the loquacious around here like $1 margarita night.

Observation the two: good point br. The accumulated wisdom of ten blogging years is subject to single point of failure from But an odd old guitar solo on a demo of mine from 1990, living on Vimeo, YouTube, and Lunarpages seems awfully stable -- especially compared to the single Sony minidisk in a Rubbermaid tub in the garage where it lived last week.

Observation the three: Dr. Yaron Brook and BB&T Hoss John Allison both assure that Bernie Madoff was miserable. A better model might be to charge customers and store it on free sites in the cloud. I pay you, you send it from one Gmail account to another...

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 3:50 PM

Menwhile, in Buffy News...

Pretty funny:

Boy: "Okay, so then do you have a dictionary for Firefly to English? I'm like, obsessed with it... I'd like to know what the people are saying when they speak the space language, so I can say I know everything!"

Television Posted by John Kranz at 12:04 PM | What do you think? [4]
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, if you don't click through you're missin' out. The excerpt here is merely contextual.

Did you have the same first reaction as I, blog brother? That this clerk now understands how we feel while trying to explain economics to an Obama voter?

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2012 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh. Yeah, this or explaining carbon's tetravalency to a cat.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2012 3:23 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Obtuseness is its own best defense against reproof and correction.

Which is a gentlemanly way of saying, "I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." Which, coincidentally, is usually the point I come to trying to explain much of anything to an Obama voter.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at December 4, 2012 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

"Heroic context."

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2012 7:15 PM

December 3, 2012

Good Stuff

Insty links to a fascinating piece today by Professor Paul Rahe. It's longer and deeper than a typical blog post or opinion column, but it contains food for thought for ThreeSourcers of all stripes and spots.

I debase it by excerpting, but the ThreeSources Style Guide is pretty strict:

Lest I bore you and fail to provoke sound and fury, let me preface my remarks by saying two things: that libertarians should be social conservatives and vice-versa.

My argument with regard to social conservatives is implicit in the criticism that I addressed to the Catholic hierarchy in a series of posts in and after February, 2012, the first and fiercest of which can be found here. It comes down to this: In embracing the administrative entitlements state, as they have, Catholic churchmen and their Protestant counterparts have lent aid and comfort to those who believe that we can establish heaven right here on earth and they have led their flocks to mistake the Machiavellian maneuver of forcefully taking from one citizen to support another for a fulfillment of the Christian duty of charity. Moreover, their desire to sustain the political alliance devoted to expanding the welfare state caused them to knowingly downplay the enormity of murdering 50 million unborn children, and now their erstwhile allies are rewarding them for their moral obtuseness over many years by making them complicit with mass murder. In sum, they made a pact with the devil, and payment is now due. The proper setting for the practice of Christian charity is a free-market society. The rise of the welfare state and the decline of Christianity go hand in hand. To see this, one need only go to church in Europe.

But why should libertarians be social conservatives? Why shouldn't they embrace libertinism in the manner of the folks at Reason?
Why, then, you may ask -- if you even remember the question I posed some paragraphs back -- should libertarians be social conservatives? The answer is simple. Single mothers and their offspring are bound for the most part to become wards of the state. For a man and a woman who are married to rear offspring is a chore. It may be fulfilling, but it is demanding and hard. It requires sacrifice and discipline. For a single person to do so and to do it well requires a species of heroism. For a single person to do so at all requires help -- and that is where we are. For we now take it for granted that we are to pay for the mistakes that the single mother (and her sexual partner) made. We now, in fact, presume that she is entitled to our help -- and we now have a political party in power built on that premise. We are to pay for her groceries through WIC (Women, Infants, Children), for her medical care through Medicaid, for the contraceptives that she does not have the discipline to use properly and for the morning-after pill should she slip up and need an abortion. Her right to be promiscuous trumps our right to the fruits of our own labor.

What I would say to libertarians is this: Liberty requires a responsible citizenry, and the sexual revolution (very much like the drug culture, which was and is its Doppelgänger) promotes irresponsibility of every kind. It promotes dependence, and it fosters an ethos in which those who exercise the virtues fostered by the market are punished for doing so and in which those who live for present pleasure are rewarded.

He links to some video excerpts from his interview and -- again -- the column offers much more than ThreeSources internecine fodder.

Lastly, I am going to spike the football and digress. I'm struck by the paucity (that's being generous) of anything half this serious from my friends on the left. Yes I receive (and forward and provide) inane stuff from the right -- they do not have a monopoly on the puerile. But, when I see something remotely serious advocating progressive policies, it usually comes from a liberty loving friend (Sugarchuck reads The Nation so I don't have to). My FB friends put up Jon Stewart clips or a Thomas Friedman column. Maybe it is my cross-section.

Hat-tip: Instapundit for the intelligent Rahe piece; the rant at the end is mine.

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM | What do you think? [2]
But johngalt thinks:

This looks like a serious writing and I do appreciate Rahe. It deserves a serious analysis but I'll give an off-the-cuff comment now just the same.

Rahe's premise in saying "Liberty requires a responsible citizenry" is that if an element of the citizenry is irresponsible some other element will step in to save them from their anti-survival behavior. But what if those who didn't preserve themselves were allowed to perish?

I'm not suggesting this as public policy (yet) but as a thought experiment.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2012 3:47 PM
But jk thinks:

My snappy comeback was in a similar vein. I -- and a bunch of those wacky libertines at Reason -- would rather address the interstice of the behavior and the need it creates. If you can support your own kid, I'm pretty squeamish telling you you have to have a marriage license.

By numbers, Rahe (and Gov. Huckabee and Senator Santorum) is right. But I want to be allowed to do things that are statistically suspect. Perhaps there is a cultural role in Toquevillian values but I cannot accept a government one.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2012 4:09 PM

Missing from Ayn Rand's Economics

For a guy who started with Rand and then went on to economists, I was pretty impressed on my return trip with her grasp of free market economics. Atlas Shrugged is built on respect for property rights and capitalism, but her love for hard money and her understanding of spontaneous order seem deft in the middle of "a philosophy book." The invisible hand is well represented as is the nature of economic actors as both producers and consumers.

But it struck me this morning that she is missing Ricardo's comparative advantage, and that this omission leads to the suspicions of the heroic ideal nature of the characters. Eddie Willers is important to Taggart Transcontinental and Ms. Ives at Rearden Steel. I don't know if they are purposefully undervalued or merely overlooked, but it is never recognized that Hank should not be picking up his own dry cleaning.

Maybe Midas Mulligan grows a fine tomato and John Galt can swap out a faucet washer as quick as you please -- but recognizing a truly modern economy requires not only the benefit of trade but also of organization and comparative advantage. A is A, but Apple requires a Steve Jobs and a battery engineer and a type designer and some folks to keep the trash baskets emptied.

Maybe it's a small thing, but it is a miss. Left Eddie on the flippin' train, she did...

Philosophy Posted by John Kranz at 12:20 PM | What do you think? [6]
But johngalt thinks:

It is a small thing, and it is in there - at least in the case of Eddie Willers. I vaguely recall the discussion that he was the confident industrialist in his own sphere of expertise. I'll take it as a homework assignment to find the passage and elaborate on the lesson in it.

And if I'm wrong - if you've found a error (or even an omission) in Rand's philosophical worldview - it will be the first example ever presented to me in my ten-plus years of being her student.

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2012 3:43 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, that, and it's total trash and she is selfish and hates people and wants to see us eat our own children...

Willers gets some kind comments (but still gets left on the dang train at the end). Not sure Ives does. I would not call it an error. Somewhere between omission and underappreciated, there are competent people who are not Hank Rearden but contribute mightily to production.

The applause for the great ones' skill at manual labor is contradicted by comparative advantage: yes, the great cancer researcher probably does do a better job mowing his yard than the neighbor kid. But we are all better off if he slides Buster Jr. a twenty and heads off to work. I don't think you'll find a good example of that in Atlas.

Posted by: jk at December 3, 2012 4:01 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It seems to me that Rand does give credit to various TT workingmen (Bill Brent, the engineers) and to the importance of making a superb hamburger (though it turns out the chef is the world's leading philosopher...) but I think Eddie's last scene is supposed to be symbolic. Without a Dagny or Galt to lead, a Willers could only get the trains part way across the country.

There is also the bit about the Rearden Steel union and its workers, put in a positive light.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 6:47 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Didn't do my homework last night but wanted to respond to your comparative advantage critique from my own perspective as a reader.

Comparative advantage is a fine principle in a free market, but it is a principle of optimization. A free market can function just fine without it. One of the main themes of Atlas, however, is that men of the mind would prefer to withhold the product of their genius than to have an ever growing share of it confiscated by "society" through the democratic authority of its government. In the startup phase of their isolated free market in Galt's Gulch there are not enough people to excel at every skill, so highly specialized people face the prospect of doing for themselves or going without. They choose to do for themselves.

There's a secondary point being made here: While laborers need men of the mind in order to survive or at least to prosper, men of the mind can do just fine without laborers. Labor is universal; genius is not.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2012 2:39 PM
But Steve D thinks:

Remember we are talking about a novel, not a philosophical treatise.Labor is universal; genius is not; is a general principle but it doesn't necessarily apply to every individual case. No one human being can do everything, nor should he.

Posted by: Steve D at December 4, 2012 4:07 PM
But johngalt thinks:

@SteveD: I wonder, have you've read jk's Review Corner of last Sunday? I believe a major conclusion he reached was that Atlas Shrugged is both a novel and a philosophical treatise.

But you have, I think, caught me out in an error. Labor is no more universal than genius. From my earliest memories comes a license plate in my grandfather's workshop: "Fight Poverty: WORK!" Conversely, for any man willing to embrace his rational faculty, genius is no lofty, unattainable ideal. This was, after all, Rand's very point!

Thank you, most sincerely.

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2012 4:50 PM

Heinleinian "Bad Luck"

An 80-year-old business of oyster farming is shut down.

Salazar ordered the Park Service to help the oyster company remove property, oysters and racks from the estuary and assist oyster company employees in relocating and finding jobs and employment training.

"We are taking the final step to recognize this pristine area as wilderness," Salazar said. "The estero is one of our nation's crown jewels, and today we are fulfilling the vision to protect this special place for generations to come."

My first thought was that this operated on leased Federal land and the operators should not be too surprised by political vicissitude. The real trouble being that there is Federal land, not the surprise of its being managed capriciously.

But the back-to-the-caves argument grows within me, watered by schadenfreude tears of disappointed Marin-county organic foodie customers. Rachel Maddow asks why we don't build Hoover Dams anymore -- her people won't let you dig a clam out of the sand.

California is a beautiful place. But it is more amazing for its rational achievement. Steve Martin's L.A. Story talks about the people who made a magical place in the desert. Steinbeck chronicled migration to the Golden State's agricultural wonderland. Silicon Valley's contribution to wealth and culture will be studied for centuries.

But it's over, kids. Human reason is no longer welcome there. And one fears the bright folks on the West Coast may once again be leading the nation.

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded -- here and there, now and then -- are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as 'bad luck.'" -- Robert A Heinlein
UPDATE: Good video story on this.
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

It occurs to me that some Three Sourcers might enjoy the discussions at the Heinlein Facebook Forum:

Sign up and stir up some trouble!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 5:21 PM
But Jk thinks:

I signed up. I have a feeling I'm going to get my ass kicked, but that can be fun.

Posted by: Jk at December 3, 2012 9:36 PM
But dagny thinks:

Thanks for the invitation and I have been a Heinlein fan since before I could drive but I just cannot afford another electronic time sink.

Posted by: dagny at December 4, 2012 11:53 AM

December 2, 2012

Review Corner

The John Galt speech was awesome. No, it's not short. But even Rand fans joke about its length, and I've heard some say it is a somehow superfluous summation of the rest of the book. I disagree. It underscores and focuses the philosophical points of the book. It strikes me that in many interviews with Rand -- who wrote a bunch of non-fiction -- she refers most frequently to Atlas Shrugged and to the speech.

She found, in fiction, the best vehicle to advance her beliefs.

This is my second trip through Atlas. First was in my early twenties and it awakened me from the muddled platitudinous thinking Rand opposes. I went on and read everything I could find of hers. I'm funny I read by authors. I did not dig up magazine interviews or Objectivist publications, but if she wrote it and it was released in paperback, I read it. Brian Dougherty has a chapter in "Radicals for Capitalism" called "It all started with Ayn Rand." I hate to participate in a cliché, but yes she was my gateway drug into the liberty movement.

The 2012 election, and two great books by authors influenced by Rand, Yaron Brook's Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government and John Allison's The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy’s Only Hope, set me up to reconsider a more fundamental approach to liberty. I looked forward to reconsidering Rand's ideas but was surprised at how much I enjoyed her prose. The book is frequently derided, but that is unfair.

I was at the home of a long-time friend last night and mentioned I had just reread it. I knew my host had read it in high school and he surprised me by saying he had reread it two years ago. He's not certain about the philosophy (political moderate, I'd bet he voted for Obama twice) but says "it's a very good book" and that he recommends it all the time. He's got the part one of the movie sitting on his DVR but hasn't got around to watching. How unusual to find somebody borderline ambivalent about Atlas Shrugged.

I'm not. I give it five stars of course. And a final quote:

"Don't be astonished, Miss Taggart," said Dr. Akston, smiling, "and don’t make the mistake of thinking that these three pupils of mine are some sort of superhuman creatures. They're something much greater and more astounding than that: they're normal men-- a thing the world has never seen-- and their feat is that they managed to survive as such.

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (p. 786). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:34 AM | What do you think? [8]
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Two things:

1) Does that quote contain (dare I say it?) a contradiction? If the world has never seen it, is it normal? I have read the book seven times yet that thought never occurred...

2) I had a girlfriend some years back, had her own successful business but not really an intellectual type; I asked her if she had read Atlas Shrugged and she said yeah, really liked it. "What did you like about it?" said I.

"The heroic sex."

(Yes, that is an exact quote. The rest is left as an exercise for the reader.)

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 3, 2012 6:12 PM
But jk thinks:

At the risk of taking your ex's side, I like her review. Almost everyone remarks on the sex. The most frequent complaint about the movies was "the sex scenes weren't steamy enough."

It is not 50 Shades of Grey in frequency or explicitness but it is celebrated as rational, expressive, and -- yup -- herioc.

Posted by: jk at December 4, 2012 10:16 AM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Rest assured, brother, I took her side as well!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at December 4, 2012 3:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

jk answered 2) so I'll answer 1).

No, not a contradiction.

It is correct that "normal" means "like the majority" but Rand is reknowned for her intentional use of specific words to get her points across, sometimes even appearing to be the least ideal word. I suspect she used the word "normal" for two purposes: One was to say that the ability to accomplish astounding things is naturally present in the makeup of man, due to his ability to reason. The other was to classify the men who abandon their faculty of reason as "abnormal."

Posted by: johngalt at December 4, 2012 3:12 PM
But johngalt thinks:

An aside - A well-known truism is that "sex sells." cf. "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders"

So sex should be an ideal vehicle for selling Objectivism to the masses, shouldn't it?

Posted by: johngalt at December 5, 2012 12:32 AM
But jk thinks:

I think it is a bigger deal than a sales pitch. Putting that in the context of a more prudish, post war America, I think it is a rather startling celebration of human sexuality.

Eleven years before Updike's "Couples," Rand makes an extramarital affair, shall we say, "heroic?"

Posted by: jk at December 5, 2012 10:14 AM

Don't click this. Comments (2)