December 31, 2012
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 GeneratorHat-tip: The VA Viper (@debbywitt)
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
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...
December 30, 2012
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.
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.
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.
December 29, 2012
Sorry, Twitter, there is a defect in your algorithm.
Ain't nobody similar to @CharlieDaniels
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
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.
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
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.
ThreeSources Night at Miller's Grill! 6PM Friday the 28th.
Brother Ellis is in town...
Otequay of the Ayday
Meanwhile, in Buffy News
Cabin in the Woods star Kristen Connolly one of Rotten Tomatoes' 25 Breakout Stars of the Year.
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
December 26, 2012
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
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?
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.
December 25, 2012
Doesn't He Have Staff for This?
Steve Forbes's snowman:
Merry Christmas everybody!
December 24, 2012
Over/under on how many of the six books I make it through...?
Randian Stocking Stuffers
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.
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.
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."
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]
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.
December 20, 2012
Some days, It's Good to Have Libertarians
Jacob Sullum of Reason is pretty good here:
Hat-tip: Ann Althouse
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?
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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'.
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."
Requiescat in pace.
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!
December 18, 2012
Facebook may or may not be cooling down enough to share this, but I think y'all will dig it:
"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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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...
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.
Hat-tip: Prof. Mankiw.
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,"
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!
December 16, 2012
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.
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.
December 15, 2012
The Big Picture
This is a website widget.
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.
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. HeinleinI'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.
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.
December 13, 2012
Susanna Hoffs, Very Live
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
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:
Best Chart Ever!
From The Skeptical Libertarian on Facebook.
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.”
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 ThatcherHat-tip: Blog friend Perry, via email.
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, NukeTheGayWhalesForJesus.org 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.
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
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.
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"?
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.
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
I Love June Carter, I do.
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 disease...to 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.
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.
December 10, 2012
Meanwhile, in Buffy News...
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...
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. **
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
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.
I'm still in the Brave Sir Robin camp myself -- just being fair and balanced
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?":
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."
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.
December 9, 2012
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.
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.?
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.
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.
That Morman Governor Who Ran for President
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 GeraghtyI share his disappointment. Mister DeMint is needed in the US Senate.
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.
December 5, 2012
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...
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."
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)
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.
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?
Menwhile, in Buffy News...
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!"
December 3, 2012
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.
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.
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...
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.
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 HeinleinUPDATE: Good video story on this.
December 2, 2012
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.