I am not a serious sports fan. Instead, I'm the type who ignores the regular season and tunes in only for the championship game, or only to see a player I particularly like (such as Michael Jordan). But I'm pretty ecumenical in my tastes: I'll watch football, basketball, tennis -- and every two years, I enjoy seeing some of the many obscure sports that get television coverage only during the Olympics.Well, at least Tracinski starts out by admitting the obvious: that he is not a serious sports fan. And he does also admit to hating soccer. You can't fault a man for not knowing much about sports, for his tastes, or for being up-front about the same.
But I can't stand soccer. Jack Wakeland and I have been complaining privately for many years that soccer is, in Jack's words, "a game designed for double amputees." We have speculated that soccer is the perfect product of a socialist society, which commands man not to use his most effective organs of survival -- in the economy, he cannot use his own judgment; in sports, he cannot use his hands.
I was delighted to see all of those points echoed in this article from the website of the Weekly Standard, along with another very important observation: soccer deprives its spectators of the essential spiritual experience that rewards the viewer's interest in sports -- the experience of scoring. In the realm of sports, scoring is success -- and soccer is diabolically arranged to deprive its viewers of the sight of success.
The historic game with Italy ended in an epic 1-1 tie. But in what was ballad as one of the greatest games ever played by an American team, the United States failed to score. The goal credited to the Americans was scored by an opposing player who--oops!--accidentally kicked the ball into his own goal.This article is utterly ridiculous to anyone with any familiarity at all with soccer, and its endorsement by Robert Tracinski, someone I hold in high regard, is particularly disappointing.
Think about this about this for a moment. It just about sums up everything you need to know about soccer, or football, as it is known elsewhere.
Have Messrs. Frank Cannon and Richard Lesser never heard of the "safety" in American football? Or of quarterback passes being intercepted and returned for touchdowns? Or of a miscue making the difference in an ice skating competition? Accidents happen in sports and winning games (or competitions) will necessarily sometimes entail overcoming (or profiting from) such events.
Most soccer matches end in scoreless ties (or nil, nil in soccer parlance), 1-1 deadlocks or 1-0 victories. A final score of 2-1 is regarded as a veritable outburst of offense, an avalanche of goal scoring that leaves exhausted fans shaking their heads and pining for the old days when teams knew how to play strong defense. A score of 2-0 is said to be a crushing victory (or defeat) of Carthaginian proportions rendering national shame and humiliation and potentially resulting in coup d'etat, or even war.
Um. No. Many matches do end in draws. Many can be decided by a point or two. Two points is usually -- depending on how play went during the match -- regarded as a decisive victory. Three almost always is. At the international level, a loss of four or more is about as embarrassing as a twenty point defeat at the professional level would be in a basketball championship. Damn inflation!
As for the wars, that obviously hasn't a bloody thing to do with soccer as a game. But hey! When you don't like something, use whatever it takes to fool yourself into mistaking your ignorance and personal taste for virtue.
The game consists of 22 men running up and down a grassy field for 90 minutes with little happening as fans scream wildly.
Until the year Rice won the College World Series and I had the opportunity to watch several very good baseball games narrated by a very talented commentator, I had zero appreciation for all the strategy that goes into that game. I used to see (before switching channels): nine men standing around on a field, scratching themselves and spitting while some guy with a beer belly swung a stick at a ball.
I am still not a huge baseball fan, but I will never again be so dismissive of the sport just because I don't always appreciate what is going on strategically.
It is the same with soccer, which I have played and refereed. Not to knock the various sports I will contrast (sometimes a little heavy-handedly) with soccer here, but....
Unlike American football, with its many set plays, soccer features a jazz-like fluidity. A truly great player will develop a rapport with his teammates and create spectacular plays on the fly. If you don't care for improvisation, stay away.
Unlike in basketball, goals consist of much more than some seven-footer slapping a ball through a hoop at will. A goal is more often than not a hard-earned result of a team's patiently building up an attack, combined with on-the-fly teamwork. Sometimes, the player who scores does so after almost acrobatic efforts to strike the ball. If you haven't the patience to follow an offensive buildup or wait for the opportunity to see a spectacular individual althelticism, someone else could use your barstool.
Unlike most American sports, with their unlimited substitutions and interminable time-outs, the clock runs constantly in soccer. You must, quite literally, think on your feet most of the game. Furthermore, all but the goalkeepers and at most six other players must be well-conditioned enough to run almost constantly for two forty-five minute halves. There are no beer bellies in soccer. If fitness annoys you, switch channels.
... Scoring goals is of such little importance...
This is (usually) bass-ackwards. See my remarks above concerning basketball. In tournament play, this is sometimes correct due to how wins and draws are tallied during round-robin play. If long-range planning doesn't wax your lance, find something that does.
But soccer players use their heads, deliberately, to contact the ball. This is contrary to all human instinct, which is to keep the head out of the way of danger. Duck, you idiot! Protecting the head against injury is deeply rooted in our nature. It's an evolutionary survival response. Sacrifice a limb if you must, give up an arm or leg, but protect your head at all costs. Yet in soccer the player is encouraged, no, expected to hit the ball with his head. This is as stupid an action as a human being can undertake.
One protects himself from injuring his head by learning the proper way to strike the ball with his head. Physical contact is illegal.
And I'd still take a surprise hit on my unprotected head with a soccer ball over an errant (or deliberate) 90-plus MPH baseball in the head while wearing a plastic helmet (sans faceguard) any day. Or participate in a football game where some 300 pound behemoth can decide on any play to "risk" the loss of a few yards by grabbing the face-mask of my "protective" helmet and yanking me to the ground.
If you find that heading a soccer ball is a confusing concept, but that beanballs and face-mask penalties make perfect sense, I cannot help you. Seek a professional.
An antitrust probe into the explosives industry that started with a bang in the 1990s has ended quietly with an order signed by a federal judge in Utah.That's impressive--literally money for nothing. What do you say to CAC applying for leftover antitrust settlement funds, on the grounds that CAC's mission is to increase the role of competition--by abolishing the antitrust laws?
U.S. District Judge David Sam wrapped up the matter earlier this month by distributing the remaining $48,887 of a $60 million settlement in the case to the Salt Lake
Community Action Program (SLCAP) and the American Antitrust Institute in Washington, D.C. SLCAP advocate Karen Silver said her organization expects to use its share - $16,133 - for advocacy efforts involving utilities.
The amount adds up to pocket change for the mining industry, but it is a welcome addition to the SLCAP's coffers.
We could always use the money," Silver said.
The American Antitrust Institute, a nonprofit education and advocacy organization whose mission is to increase the role of competition, was awarded $32,754.
The institute and SLCAP were among the groups that applied for the leftover settlement funds - a standard procedure when there is a small amount of money remaining after the plaintiffs' claims have been satisfied and dividing it up among a large number of plaintiffs would be impractical.
The case has its roots in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that began in 1992 into whether the manufacturers and distributors of commercial explosives were conspiring to fix prices, rig bids and allocate customers among themselves, according to Washington, D.C., attorney Richard McMillan, who represented mining companies that alleged they were victims of an antitrust scheme.[Pamela Manson, The Salt Lake Tribune]
IRVINE, CA--Commentators are hailing Warren Buffett's $30 billion contribution to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation as a historic day for the alleviation of poverty and sickness around the world. They, like Buffett, think that tens of billions of dollars of charity directed by Bill Gates's brilliant mind will change the world.
But, said Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, "While Gates and Buffett are brilliant businessmen, they and other philanthropists ignore the fundamental cause of poverty, including poor health care, around the world: lack of capitalism. Wherever and to whatever extent capitalism exists, the productive ability of individuals is unleashed, enabling them to make their lives progressively better. The West used to be as poor as Africa today; it is capitalism that made us rich."
"If the tribalist or religious dictatorships of Africa and the Middle East do not renounce their destructive political systems and adopt capitalism, even $100 billion in charitable handouts will make little difference in their lives."
"Anyone who is truly committed to helping the world's poor should first and foremost use their charitable dollars and their public platforms for the promotion of capitalism."
We are closing in on the goal of $14,000 - which is approximately 1750 books. We are $3,125 from our target -- and you have 4 days to PLEDGE money so that WE can make our goal of providing Anthem or The Fountainhead books to any Colorado teacher willing to teach Ayn Rand in the schools. Our last week's pledge drive did wonders, and this week's offer is even better. I want to thank each of you who have already donated. If you have sent your money to ARI directly, ARI has told me the total amount they received, but not who the donors were or the individual amounts, so if you gave money to ARI, and I haven't personally thanked you, I am thanking you now.If you wish to donate, don't delay!
This week, for four days -- from now until midnight, June 30, two other donors and myself will match all PLEDGES or DONATIONS -- $2 for every $1.00 contributed.*** (Up to a $2,500 maximum). So, if you pledge to donate $10 now, we will contribute $20 more, for a total of $30 contributed. If you pledge to donate $100, we will donate $200 -- for a total of $300 contributed. And if all of you together donate another $2,500, the three of us together will donate another $5,000.
This year's pledges to contribute money to the Colorado Book Project by December 31, 2006, mean that ARI again send out brochures to Colorado high school teachers, which will result in more teachers requesting more books, thus giving another 1750 students the opportunity this coming spring to read Anthem or The Fountainhead in their high school classrooms. In addition, this year's contributions together with the past year's success (of more than 3600 books sent to teachers, means that more than 5,300 Colorado students could read Ayn Rand during the next school year.
All of your contributions to this project go to ARI and are tax-deductible as charitable contributions.
However, most importantly for you, these donations can help better your life here in Colorado by deliberately creating the opportunity for Miss Rand's genius to once again light up the minds of a new generation --- but, with the specific intent to cultivate and develop rational, capitalistic egoists in this state.
One last time, send your contributions to ARI this week -- OR -- send them to me (Payable to the Ayn Rand Institute) -- OR pledge to me whatever amount you would like to see tripled and sent to ARI for this project. Please -- note on any check or money order that it is for the Colorado Book Project.
Remember, I need your pledge by Friday, June 30, for the matching contributions.
And I want to thank each and everyone of you for your support and cooperation in making this idea reality.
Remember, there are now four ways to contribute -- 1) Send a check or money order directly to ARI and indicate on it that this money is for the Colorado Book Project; 2) Send a check or money order to me, payable to ARI; 3) donate stock shares to ARI (contact Kathy Cross at ARI, at 310-876-1633 or firstname.lastname@example.org); or 4) contact me by phone, e-mail or letter with your pledge amount -- to be donated later this year.
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Front Range Objectivism
Ms. Gordon suggests that "there are two major narratives in the world, the narrative of fundamentalism and the narrative of consumerism." Given her own religious faith, she explains, she is much more comfortable imagining the inner life of a suicide bomber "than I am of Donald Trump"; she finds the terrorist mind, with its belief in eternal truth, "much more comprehensible."Notice the smear that Gordon makes in labeling the "narrative" of the West as "consumerism." A consumer qua consumer produces nothing; he is a parasite, and while inconsistent, the West that Gordon finds herself uncomfortable imagining thrives upon production. After all, in order to have your Hummer (and keep it), you must to produce something of value and trade it with others--you cannot have a Hummer in a vacuum.
Ms. Gordon says that whenever she sees people driving Hummers, "I want to just drive them off the road" -- or worse. She could "go out on quite a spree," she says. What stops her from becoming a roadside bomber fighting for eternal truth, she explains, is her Christian belief that these "greedy" materialists "are sacred and valuable in the eyes of God."
By David Holcberg:
Athletes who received organ transplants gathered recently for the 2006 U.S. Transplant Games. Meanwhile, a record 90,000 individuals who did not share the athletes' good fortune stand on the U.S. national waiting list for organs. Of the 80,000 waiting for kidneys or livers, about 6,000 will die in the next 12 months. Yet no one is considering a simple way to save many of these people: legalize trade in human organs.
Millions of Americans have exercised the right to give away their organs by signing donation cards. But very few made the legal arrangements necessary to ensure that their organs can be harvested after death. Many more would make such arrangements if their families were to be paid for the donated organs. It may work as a type of life insurance for the benefit of the deceased's family and would create a mutually advantageous situation: the deceased's family gets needed money while the transplant patient gets a vital organ.
A few people may choose to sell an organ (or part of one) during their lifetime. This may seem like a radical idea, but it need not be an irrational one. According to the Mayo Clinic, extraction of a section of liver, for example, carries a risk to the donor's life of less than 1 percent -- not negligible, but not overwhelming. In the case of a kidney donation, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the risk to the donor's life is even smaller: just 0.03 percent. Moreover, liver donors can usually count on their healthy liver's ability to regenerate and regain full function. And donors of kidneys usually live normal lives with no reduction of life expectancy.
A person may reasonably decide selling an organ is actually in his own best interest. A father, for example, may decide that one of his kidneys is worth selling to pay for the best medical treatment available for his child.
But those who object to a free market in organs would deny this father the right to act on his own judgment. Poor people, they claim, are incapable of making rational choices and so must be protected from themselves. The fact, however, is that human beings do have the capacity to reason, and should be free to exercise it.
That some people might make irrational choices, however, is no reason to violate the rights of everyone. If the law recognizes our right to give away an organ, it should also recognize our right to sell an organ. The objection that people would murder to sell their victims' organs should be dismissed as the scaremongering that it is.
Opponents of a free market in organs argue that it would benefit only those who could afford to pay -- not necessarily those in most desperate need. Need does not give anyone the right to damage the lives of other people, by prohibiting a seller from getting the best price for his organ, or a buyer from purchasing an organ to further his life. Those who can afford to buy would benefit at no one's expense but their own. Those unable to pay would still be able to rely on charity, as they do today. And a free market would enhance the ability of charitable organizations to procure organs for them.
If your life depended on getting an organ, wouldn't you be willing to pay for one? And if you could find a willing seller, shouldn't you have the right to buy it from him? The right to buy an organ is part of your right to life. The right to life is the right to take all actions a rational being requires to sustain and enhance his life.
If the government upheld the rights of potential buyers and sellers of organs, many of the 90,000 people now waiting for organs would be spared hideous suffering and an early death. How many?
Let's find out.
David Holcberg is a media research specialist at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif.
(3) The third is to avoid ambiguities; unless, indeed, you definitely desire to be ambiguous, as those do who have nothing to say but are pretending to mean something. Such people are apt to put that sort of thing into verse. Empedocles, for instance, by his long circumlocutions imposes on his hearers; these are affected in the same way as most people are when they listen to diviners, whose ambiguous utterances are received with nods of acquiescence-The line about Croesus refers to this great story recounted by Herodotus.
Croesus by crossing the Halys will ruin a mighty realm.
Diviners use these vague generalities about the matter in hand because their predictions are thus, as a rule, less likely to be falsified. We are more likely to be right, in the game of 'odd and even', if we simply guess 'even' or 'odd' than if we guess at the actual number; and the oracle-monger is more likely to be right if he simply says that a thing will happen than if he says when it will happen, and therefore he refuses to add a definite date. All these ambiguities have the same sort of effect, and are to be avoided unless we have some such object as that mentioned.
It is this emphasis on the totality that is essential to the dialectical mode of inquiry. Dialectics is not merely a repudiation of formal dualism. It is a method that preserves the analytical integrity of the whole. While it recommends study of the whole from the vantage point of any part, it eschews reification, that is, it avoids the abstraction of a part from the whole and its illegitimate conceptualization as a whole unto itself. The dialectical method recognizes that what is separable in thought is not separable in reality.Translation from Polish: Ayn Rand integrated her knowledge.
Moreover, dialectics requires the examination of the whole both systemically and historically. From a systemic perspective, it grasps the parts as structurally interrelated, or "internally related," both constituting the whole, while being constituted by it. For example, Rand, as a dialectical thinker, would not disconnect any single theoretical issue, such as the problem of free will, from its broader philosophic context. She necessarily examines a host of connected issues, including the efficacy of consciousness, the nature of causality, and the reciprocal relationships between epistemology, ethics, and politics.
From a historical perspective, dialectics grasps that any system emerges over time, that it has a past, a present, and a future. Frequently, the dialectical thinker examines the dynamic tensions within a system, the internal conflicts or "contradictions" which require resolution. He or she refuses to disconnect factors, events, problems, and issues from each other or from the system which they jointly constitute. He or she views social problems not discretely, but in terms of the root systemic conditions which they both reflect and sustain.
The dialectical thinker seeks not merely to understand the system, but to alter it fundamentally. Hence, a dialectical analysis is both critical and revolutionary in its implications. Thus, Rand, as a dialectical thinker, does not analyze a specific racial conflict, for example, without examining a host of historically-constituted epistemic, ethical, psychological, cultural, political, and economic factors that both generate racism--and perpetuate it. In Rand's view, racism--like all vestiges of statism--must be transcended systemically.
Let us now consider pity, asking ourselves what things excite pity, and for what persons, and in what states of our mind pity is felt. Pity may be defined as a feeling of pain caused by the sight of some evil, destructive or painful, which befalls one who does not deserve it, and which we might expect to befall ourselves or some friend of ours, and moreover to befall us soon.In contrast to Aristotle's definition, Dictionary.com simply defines pity as "sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another." No innocence or goodness required for the object of pity. That's why it's perfectly sensible in contemporary usage to pity the person who suffers through his own faults, e.g. the alcoholic bum living in a cardboard box or the dishonest woman estranged from all her friends.
In order to feel pity, we must obviously be capable of supposing that some evil may happen to us or some friend of ours, and moreover some such evil as is stated in our definition or is more or less of that kind. It is therefore not felt by those completely ruined, who suppose that no further evil can befall them, since the worst has befallen them already; nor by those who imagine themselves immensely fortunate--their feeling is rather presumptuous insolence, for when they think they possess all the good things of life, it is clear that the impossibility of evil befalling them will be included, this being one of the good things in question. Those who think evil may befall them are such as have already had it befall them and have safely escaped from it; elderly men, owing to their good sense and their experience; weak men, especially men inclined to cowardice; and also educated people, since these can take long views. Also those who have parents living, or children, or wives; for these are our own, and the evils mentioned above may easily befall them. And those who neither moved by any courageous emotion such as anger or confidence (these emotions take no account of the future), nor by a disposition to presumptuous insolence (insolent men, too, take no account of the possibility that something evil will happen to them), nor yet by great fear (panic-stricken people do not feel pity, because they are taken up with what is happening to themselves); only those feel pity who are between these two extremes.
In order to feel pity we must also believe in the goodness of at least some people; if you think nobody good, you will believe that everybody deserves evil fortune. And, generally, we feel pity whenever we are in the condition of remembering that similar misfortunes have happened to us or ours, or expecting them to happen in the future.
Mr Bush said he understood European concerns over the US detention camp in Cuba.Well, so would I, Mr. President! I wish I'd never have to hear about terrorism again, and that Moslems would learn to live and let live. I wish these and lots of other things. But wishing doesn't make it so.
"I'd like to end Guantanamo. I'd like it to be over with," he said.
He said 200 detainees had been sent home, and most of those remaining were from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan.
U.S. ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer said on Wednesday that if North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile it would be a "clear violation" of agreements it has made in the past.So after nearly two years of trying to get North Korea to return to talks to negotiate an end to its ambition for nuclear weapons, we're talking about the dicey proposition of shooting down a missile of theirs as if doing so is some kind of a threat? The only option not on the table remains the only one that would work: reducing Pyongyang to rubble.
The United States has activated its ground-based interceptor missile-defense system amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.
Asked if the United States would try to shoot down a North Korean missile, Schieffer said: "I think what we have said is that we have greater technical measures of tracking than in the past and we have options that we have not had in the past, and all these options are on the table."
Iran's president said Wednesday his country would take until mid-August to respond to incentives to roll back its nuclear program, prompting President Bush to accuse Tehran of dragging its feet. [bold added]Unless Bush was thinking Ahmadinejad meant something like "mid-August of 2010", he can only look into the mirror for whom to blame for this delay.
This BBC article talks about how sexual violence in war is increasing. The article does not provide an explanation, but I can think of two: (1) the massive amounts of aid being sent to Africa is being used to fund ethnic wars, and (2) the world is actually more peaceful than ever, so it is the most savage (African and Islamic) civilizations which are still waging wars are getting all the attention.
The interesting part is this:
Sexual violence has also been linked to development funding. Cases in Gaza and the West Bank have increased significantly since the EU and the US cut funding after January’s election of Hamas, Luay Shabaneh of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics says.
In other words, we should not cut off funding to terrorist groups because when they don’t have the money to commit violent acts against us, they will commit violent acts to their own women. And of course Kofi Annan ” urged donors to “provide the backing required” to deal with the problem.”
By Elan Journo:
After decades of chasing nuclear weapons, North Korea is on the brink of success. Worse yet, it may already have the means of mounting an attack against us. According to news reports, North Korea is about to test-fire a powerful long-range missile capable of threatening not only South Korea and Japan, but also the continental United States.
To end this nuclear stand-off without bloodshed, many people believe that we must restart the stalled negotiations with North Korea and engage in diplomacy. Pitched as levelheaded and practical, this approach would culminate in a supposedly win-win deal: the North promises to halt its nuclear program in exchange for a combination of economic and diplomatic concessions from the West.
But such a shameful deal, like all previous ones, would reward the North for its aggression and strengthen it into a worse menace. North Korea has become a significant threat precisely because we have appeased it for years with boatloads of oil, food and money.
Some twenty years ago, North Korea's nuclear ambitions became glaringly obvious. The West pretended that this hostile dictatorship would honor a treaty banning nuclear weapons. To get its signature took years of Western groveling and concessions. The North's promises to halt its nuclear program were predictably hollow. By 1993, after preventing required inspections of its nuclear facilities, Pyongyang announced its intention to withdraw from the treaty. Our response? More "diplomacy"--in the form of the "Agreed Framework," brokered in 1994.
For agreeing to freeze its nuclear program, North Korea was offered two light-water nuclear reactors (putatively for generating electricity) and, until the reactors were operational, 500,000 metric tons of oil annually (nearly half its annual needs). The United States, along with Japan and South Korea, paid for these lavish gifts. During these years of apparent tranquility, our handouts and assurances of security buoyed North Korea as it furtively completed two reactors capable of yielding weapons-grade fuel. By 2003--when the North actually did withdraw from the nuclear treaty--it was clear that Pyongyang had continued secretly to develop weapons-capable nuclear technology.
The pattern of America's suicidal diplomacy is clear: the North threatens us, we respond with negotiations, gifts and concessions, and it emerges with even greater belligerence.
Without economic aid, technical assistance and protracted negotiations affording it time, it is unlikely that the North--continually on the brink of economic collapse--could have survived. It is also unlikely that it could have built the fourth-largest army in the world. The North is believed to have sold long-range ballistic missiles to Iran, Yemen, Pakistan and Syria. By some estimates, North Korea already has the material to create eight nuclear bombs. As it doubtless will continue engaging in clandestine nuclear development, the North may soon be wielding--and selling--nuclear weapons.
What made this cycle of appeasement possible--and why do our political and intellectual leaders insist that further "diplomacy" will work? Because they cling to the amoral fiction that North Korea shares the basic goal of prosperity and peace. This fantasy underlies the notion that the right mix of economic aid and military concessions can dissuade North Korea from its nuclear ambition. It evades the fact that the North is a militant dictatorship that acquires and maintains its power by force, looting the wealth of its enslaved citizens and threatening to do the same to its neighbors. This abstract fact, the advocates of diplomacy believe, is dispensable; if we ignore it, then it ceases to exist.
Notice how, in preparing the way for renewed talks, the Bush administration ceased describing North Korea as part of an "axis of evil"--as if this could alter its moral stature.
What the advocates of diplomacy believe, in effect, is that pouring gasoline onto an inferno will extinguish the fire--so long as we all agree that it will. Thus: if we agree that North Korea is not a hostile parasite, then it isn't; if we pretend that this dictatorship would rather feed its people than amass weapons, then it would; if we shower it with loot, it will stop threatening us. But the facts of North Korea's character and long-range goals, like all facts, are impervious to anyone's wishful thinking. Years of rewarding a petty dictatorship for its belligerent actions did not disarm it, but helped it become a significant threat to America.
There is only one solution to the "North Korea problem": the United States and its allies must abandon the suicidal policy of appeasement.
Elan Journo is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
Delusions of GrandeurWhile not all of this is supported with detailed analysis, it is useful to consider the dictionary definition of schizophrenia:
A [schizophrenia] patient believes that he is exceptional and that others should treat him as though he is an important person. The Arabs also believe that they are more important than others in every respect. They [believe that they] are the best among nations..., and regard other nations with contempt. They acknowledge no religion [but their own] and are unwilling to coexist peacefully with other religions. [They believe] that their faith is the only faith that mankind should embrace, and that whoever fails to embrace it is an infidel.
In other words, all other religions are heathen, heretical and fabricated, and their followers should abandon them and embrace the Arabs' religion - Islam. If they fail to embrace Islam, the Muslims are entitled to wage war upon them, to kill their men or convert them by force, to take their women hostage, to sell their children in the slave market and to plunder their property...
This disparaging view applies not only to non-Muslims, but also to other schools of thought within Islam. Each Islamic school of thought is full of contempt and hostility towards the others. The Salafis and Wahhabis, for example, are convinced that the Shiites must be killed, and that whoever kills them will be rewarded in the world to come...
The patient imagines strange and illogical things, for instance that foreign bodies are moving inside him, even though there is no evidence to suggest this. Similarly, Arab societies and governments suffer from the illness of [constantly suspecting] espionage by foreign agents. This is why the Arab jails are full of political prisoners and oppositionists accused of spying for other [countries]. In the eyes of the Arab governments and societies, the political opposition and the liberal intellectuals are traitors and agents of foreign intelligence [apparatuses] ...
A [schizophrenic] patient's speech makes no sense. There is no connection between the sentences, and the hearer or reader cannot understand what [the patient] means to say. The Arab societies display the same symptom - [it is] even [displayed by] people who present themselves as intellectuals and writers. We read them with the hope of understanding what they mean to say, but to no avail... And when you dispute [their claims], they say that the problem lies not with the writer but with the reader, since he is shallow and insufficiently educated, and that is why he fails to understand the ideas of the important writers and intellectuals...
A [schizophrenia] patient is utterly convinced that his notions are correct, to the point of [mental] paralysis... The same [phenomenon] is also widespread in the Arab society, which believes that only its own culture and notions - which have been handed down from generation to generation - are valid, and tries to eliminate those who think differently... [Schizophrenia] patients are unable to understand abstract ideas according to their context, and take everything literally.... [some formatting added, minor changes to punctuation]
Any of a group of psychotic disorders usually characterized by withdrawal from reality, illogical patterns of thinking, delusions, and hallucinations, and accompanied in varying degrees by other emotional, behavioral, or intellectual disturbances.... [bold added]Consider the high priority placed on tribal bonds (over independent judgement) and religious dicta (to be accepted over logic and evidence) in the Arab world for even a few moments and all of this starts making a huge amount of sense. That is a society that systematically pressures its members to sever all ties with reality.
Dear Editor:Here's the copyright information: "Copyright (c) 2006 Ayn Rand(R) Institute. All rights reserved. If you plan to use this letter, please let us know. Thank you."
In upholding Oregon's assisted suicide law, the Supreme Court reached the right result for the wrong reasons. The law should have been upheld on the grounds of an individual's right to his own life.
The right to life includes and implies the right to commit suicide. To hold otherwise is to deny the right to life at its root. If we have a duty to go on living, despite our better judgment, then our life does not belong to us, and we exist by permission, not by right.
Individuals have a moral right to seek assistance in committing suicide. And if a doctor is willing to assist, based on an objective assessment of his patient's mental and physical state, the law should not stand in his way.
There is no rational basis upon which the government can properly prevent an individual from choosing to end his life. The choice is his because the life is his.
Religious conservatives, supported by the Bush administration, want to ban assisted suicide because it defies God's will. Such conservatives crave to inject religion into the bloodstream of American law, thereby assisting in our own national suicide. People of reason must refuse their consent to the religious conservative agenda.
Thomas A. Bowden
Ayn Rand Institute
2121 Alton Parkway #250
949-222-6550 ext 226
Euthanasia is more complex [than birth control, abortion, and suicide], because the life of another person is involved. If a man makes arrangements stating that he does not want to feel unbearable pain, and it can be proved that this was his desire, in principle I'd say it is his right and the doctor's right to perform euthanasia. But it would be difficult to put this into law, because of the safeguards needed to prevent unscrupulous doctors in cahoots with unscrupulous relatives from killing somebody who is not dying and in pain. The danger here is legally giving to the doctor the arbitrary power of killing. I suspect, however, that there are many cases of euthanasia about which we do not know and probably shouldn't know; in such cases, it is up to the doctor involved. Only he can know if a terminally ill patient is suffering truly unbearable torture. I feel like saying that I would not assume to pass judgment on him. I don't know. The situation is too horrible. I sympathize with the doctor who helps the patient die, but I would not advocate euthanasia as a law.I'm very hazy on Ayn Rand's view on this issue. With that last sentence, is Ayn Rand contradicting, modifying, or qualifying what she says at the beginning of the quoted passage? Is she saying that a man has a right to arrange for his own death with his doctor in the case of unbearable pain, but that the law ought not allow for that? If so, wouldn't that expose honest doctors who choose to relieve the unbearable suffering of terminally ill patients to criminal prosecution for murder? Or does she mean something else by "euthanasia" in that last sentence than what she described in the second sentence?
We shall learn the qualities of governments in the same way as we learn the qualities of individuals, since they are revealed in their deliberate acts of choice; and these are determined by the end that inspires them.Ah, how simply put! We can infer the desired ends of a person based upon the actions he chooses over time, precisely because those actions aim at those desired ends. And a person's desired ends reveals much about his character. In determining the goals which motivate a person, actions speak much louder than words.
A few years ago, the Ayn Rand Institute surveyed high school teachers and discovered that the major reason many don't teach Ayn Rand's fiction in their English classes is the simple lack of books. The bureaucracy makes it difficult to obtain them from the school, and they are expensive to buy out-of-pocket. So ARI started its "Free Books for Teachers" program to remedy that problem.Also, Here is Lin Zinser's latest letter on the current funding drive:
How does it work? Often with the help of directed donations, the teachers in a given area are notified of the program by a lovely brochure. They can order any number of free copies of Anthem and The Fountainhead from ARI, along with teacher's manuals. In return, all that the teachers must do is agree to actually teach the novels.
So far, the project has been enormously successful: demand for the books has been very strong, teachers are delighted with the enthusiastic response of their students, and many more students are submitting to ARI's essay contests. Most importantly, hundreds of thousands of high school students are reading Ayn Rand in their classes thanks to this program. And soon, those students will be voting -- and shaping our culture and politics.
Last year, Lin Zinser of Front Range Objectivism solicited donations for Colorado. (Minus Denver, since that was already taken.) And because of that, thousands of soon-to-be-voting Colorado students have read Anthem and The Fountainhead. Happily, demand was greater than expected: more Colorado teachers wanted to teach Ayn Rand's fiction than ARI anticipated based upon its general response rate. So this year, Lin is working to raise even more money for the Colorado Books Project. If you choose to donate to the Colorado Books Project, you can get enormous bang for your buck: someone has donated $1000 in matching funds for donations for Colorado greater than those of last year, including any donations from any new donors.
To take advantage of those matching funds, you can write your check directly to ARI. Just be sure to indicate that it's for the "Colorado Books Project." And you'll need to e-mail Lin the amount of your donation in order to take advantage of the matching funds. (Full donation directions can be found toward the bottom of this blog post.) Donations of any size are welcome -- and for areas outside Colorado too. (Matching funds only apply to Colorado, however.) All donations are tax-deductible.
If you are interested in changing the culture in America for the better by introducing young people to Ayn Rand's ideas, ARI's "Free Books for Teachers" is a program that you ought to support. Ayn Rand is her own best salesman -- and the impact of hundreds of thousands of high school students reading Ayn Rand's fiction every year will be enormous. Even if you're still wary of ARI, you can support this program without endorsing all that ARI does.
Please forward this announcement to Objectivists you know unlikely to see it here. Your donations -- and theirs -- could make all the difference in the world.
Don't delay: The time to act is now!
We are closing in on the last 2 weeks of this drive. We need your support. I have received a challenge from 2 supporters -- who will match any contribution over what was made last year -- up to $1,000. So, if you have not given any monies before, then any contribution by you to the Colorado Book project will be matched by them -- up to $1,000.00. If you did make a contribution last year, then any contribution over and above what you made last year will be met by them up to this same limit. This includes pledges. So, if you can't write a check for that amount in the next week, but can do so in the next few months, this counts.Objectivists often lament the awful state of the culture, including the erosion of our liberties. I'm telling you: talk is cheap. Actually changing the culture is not hard, nor even terribly expensive. ARI's "Free Books for Teachers" program can make huge inroads, but that requires money from donors like you and me. So if you do care about the state of the culture, don't content yourself with idle complaints and wishes. Take action! Put your money where your mouth is!
Make these two people pay, --- make them give 'til it hurts!! (grin) -- and join our group of people donating to make Ayn Rand read by every high school student in Colorado. Remember, these kids will be voting in just 2 to 5 years. These students will be making choices on issues and candidates in a very short while. NOW is the time to provide some positive influence on what they think about and how they think about themselves and the world, including the people around them and the cultural and political issues in this country and abroad. Reading Anthem or The Fountainhead can make a difference in their lives -- after all, it made a difference in yours.
Many tax-deductible donations don't promise a lot because they are easing the suffering or tragedies that have befallen good people -- like the generosity of those who provided monies to those who were hit by natural disasters -- earthquakes, hurricanes or tsunamis. These tax-deducible donations to ARI are a way to a brighter future for you and me because, through these donations for the ARI Colorado Book Project, more young people will understand what it means to be a self-starter, to be first-handed, to be self-reliant, and will want the government to leave them alone to pursue their own visions and values. The only way to meet the political challenges of the leftist louses and the rigid religious right is to change the culture and the only way to affect that change is by philosophy.
Please help me change the future of Colorado. Take it from the hands of people like our present governor and legislature, who made smoking in public places illegal, but kept eminent domain legal even though there were five bills and two constitutional amendments considered by the Colorado legislature on that issue. One way to affect this change is to give money to ARI for the Colorado Book project so that future legislators and governors will be forced, in response to their constituents, to forget about smoking and outlaw eminent domain.
All Contributions to the Ayn Rand Institute are tax-deductible. Thank you for your attention to this request.
Remember, there are now four ways to contribute -- 1) Send a check or money order directly to ARI and indicate on it that this money is for the Colorado Book Project; 2) Send a check or money order to me, payable to ARI; 3) donate stock shares to ARI (contact Kathy Cross at ARI, at 310-876-1633 or email@example.com); or 4) contact me by phone, e-mail or letter with your pledge amount -- to be donated later this year.
ARI's Address --
The Ayn Rand Institute
2121 Alton Parkway, Suite 250
Irvine, California, 92606-4926
My address --
8700 Dover Court
Arvada, CO 80005
Front Range Objectivism
Almost every week, [Adam] Weissman organizes an event commonly referred to as "dumpster diving," where he leads an open tour among the various trash heaps and dumpsters of Manhattan to gather discarded food. The activity is part of a larger social movement known as freeganism, which views capitalism as the primary force in destroying the environment and avoids the capitalist structure through such practices as eating discarded food, squatting in abandoned buildings instead of paying rent and refusing to hold a job. Just as vegans are vegetarians who avoid animal products, freegans subsist only on free food found in the garbage as consumer waste. In Manhattan, there is plenty to go around. [bold added]Normally, I'd make a snarky comment right about now, but not only can you not tell these idiots to eat s--- (being how they're already practically doing that already), you can't do a better job of pointing out the sheer absurdity of their position than they already do!
Weissman assembled those who were still present for a final stop back to Daniel's Bagels. As expected, an enormous bag filled with bagels was waiting on the curb. Weissman grabbed a bagel from the bag and a mushy avocado from his backpack. He began dipping the bagel into the soupy avocado and looked around at the surrounding neighborhood."This is exactly where we need to be?" Well, you've got that right, bud! Might that, perchance, be due to the fact that the whole lot of you would freegan starve unless you hung around the very system you're trying to destroy?
When asked whether he viewed living so close to a beacon of unfettered capitalism such as New York as contradictory to his ideals, he quickly denied it.
"This is exactly where we need to be," he said. "If there's any one place on the planet where there's a vital need for people to be suggesting that capitalism is not a sustainable system, where people need to be demonstrating that we can create alternative ways of living to capitalism, then I think New York is that place."
Pausing to dab at the gobs of avocado stuck in his beard he said, "I couldn't think of another place in the world that would be more appropriate to what we're doing." [bold added]
By: Alex Epstein
Microsoft, Google, and other supporters of "Net Neutrality" legislation claim that they are protecting freedom on the Internet. But, said Alex Epstein, a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute, "Any law enforcing 'Net Neutrality' would be a terrible blow to Internet freedom."
"Just as cable companies have a right to apportion their bandwidth between Internet and television data, so Internet providers have a right to apportion their bandwidth between standard and premium Internet data."
"'Net Neutrality' laws would forcibly prevent network owners from selling innovative services to their customers," said Epstein. "Shame on Microsoft and Google for trying to deny their competitors the freedom that has made the Internet great."
### ### ###
Alex Epstein is a fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. Mr. Epstein's Op-Eds on business and government regulation have been published in major newspapers such as the Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Arizona Republic, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Orange County Register.
By David Holcberg:
Cable and phone companies have no obligation to treat all Internet traffic
equally. If these companies judge it to be in their self-interest to sell
speedier delivery to certain content providers, they should be free to do
Just as FedEx and UPS are free to charge their customers for faster
delivery, so should cable and phone companies.
The idea that cable and phone companies cannot offer superior services to
some of their customers is an attack on their freedom. As owners of their
networks, they have the right to run their businesses as they see fit.
I have a new Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Elite Keyboard/Mouse ($99 list) and a $25 Amazon gift certificate. The prizes will be given to the two largest contributors to the website.
There are no conditions, and no time limitations - just make a significant contribution to the content of the website, and they are yours. (Definition of "significant" is entirely up to me.) You can contribute to the Wiki, essays, links, or propose something entirely new. (Forum posting does not count, unless your posts significantly affect the overall forum quality.)
Hurry! If I stare at this shiny new keyboard for too long, I may decide to keep it :-)
Third is this ominous line from al-Reuters on the occasion of President Bush's jaunt to Baghdad:Hmmm. "But that is nothing compared to the clear message from On High on the soccer fields of Germany." I have just two things to say about that. (1) Whose fault is it that the Mullahs fear their own superstitions more than the willingness of the United States to give Iran a free demonstration on the proper use and deployment of a nuclear weapon? (2) It isn't too late for us to recalibrate the Iranian leadership, or at least for their subjects to rise up against them in revolt before such a recalibration becomes necessary.BAGHDAD, June 13 - U.S. President George W. Bush told Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad on Tuesday Iran's "interference" in Iraq must end, said Iraqi government sources who attended the talks.Can it be that, at long last, we are going to take steps against the mullahs to save the lives of our fighters and the Iraqi civilians who have been targeted by the terrorists who are armed and manipulated by the Iranians and the Syrians? Faster, please.
But that is nothing compared to the clear message from On High on the soccer fields of Germany. No, I'm not talking about the demonstrations against President Ahmadinejad, I'm talking about the Mexican victory over Iran in the first round of the World Cup.
With the game tied 1-1, a Mexican player named Omar Bravo scored for Mexico, which went on to win 3-1. That name, Omar Bravo, sends chills down the spines of the mullahs. "Bravo" is a universal plaudit, enthusiastic praise for the person to whom the "bravo" is directed. And Omar? Well...Omar is the most hated name in the Shiite lexicon, the symbol of the forces of evil, the incarnation of satanic influence on earth.
And why? Because after the death of the Prophet, Mohammed's son in law, Ali (the husband of Mohammed's daughter Fatima) was fighting to become the leader of all Muslims. Ali lost out to Omar Bakr and to Omar, his close adviser and successor as Caliph. To this day, the Shiites believe that Abu Bakr and Omar usurped Ali's rightful inheritance as ruler of Islam. Not only that, but during the succession struggle Omar burst into Ali's house, crushing the pregnant Fatima behind the door, leading to the stillbirth of her son. And although Ali formally accepted the elevation of Abu Bakr, and then Omar, the Shiites still speak of Omar with intense hatred. In Iran today, one of the harshest things you can say about another person is Iaanat be'Omar, cursed by Omar.
To a devout Shiite of the sort that governs Iran today, the defeat of the Iranian national team by somebody named Omar Bravo cannot be easily dismissed as a random event. It cannot possibly be a coincidence (it is hard for Iranians to believe that anything is a coincidence), and it is most certainly a terrible augury. Many Iranians will interpret it as a message to the mullahs: just as Ali was defeated by Omar, so your doom has been signaled by a modern Omar. And that "bravo," can it be an accident? No way. [bold added, link dropped]
Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is an endless book with some too-long speeches about how the creeping regulation destroys opportunity in America. A group of the most creative people decide they will move to a remote part of the country and start over. Without their contribution, much of modern life, which is taken for granted by the smug regulators, falls apart.Augh!
One of Britain's most prestigious art galleries put a block of slate on display, topped by a small piece of wood, in the mistaken belief it was a work of art.This story is poetic beyond compare. I wonder if the artist will see an increase in demand for his plinths, on the grounds that the Royal Academy found them to have artistic merit? And more fundamentally, will the artist leave modern art altogether, on the grounds that his plinth was recognized, but his head was ignored?
The Royal Academy included the chunk of stone and the small bone-shaped wooden stick in its summer exhibition in London.
But the slate was actually a plinth -- a slab on which a pedestal is placed -- and the stick was designed to prop up a sculpture. The sculpture itself -- of a human head -- was nowhere to be seen.
"I think the things got separated in the selection process and the selectors presented the plinth as a complete sculpture," the work's artist David Hensel told BBC radio.
The academy explained the error by saying the plinth and the head were sent to the exhibitors separately.
"Given their separate submission, the two parts were judged independently," it said in a statement. "The head was rejected. The base was thought to have merit and accepted.
"The head has been safely stored ready to be collected by the artist," it added. "It is accepted that works may not be displayed in the way that the artist might have intended." [Reuters]
Clearly amused, Mr Hensel said: "Anything, even if it is not intended to be art, can still have a presence. I like the look of the plinth and support. I can recognize it as a nice object. But I never thought the selectors would choose it as an exhibit."This story makes me both laugh and cry. Here, one sees plain evidence that the Royal Academy is corrupt and that it has reduced itself to an object of ridicule, yet all the artist can do is equivocate for them, saying he understands how they were taken in by his slab's "presence." He's so utterly blinded by modernism and the cult of the ugly, he can't even see the art world for for the fraud it has allowed itself to become--even when it negativly impacts the presentation of his own work.
Not only do eighteen people die each day while waiting for an organ; many people also suffer as they wait. Why are so many people suffering and dying while waiting for organs? Because the acceptance of altruism has convinced Americans that it is better for some people to suffer and die than it would be for others to donate organs for a profit. Profit is plainly selfish; thus, according to altruism, it would sully the whole "beautiful" altruistic "ideal" of people giving away organs for free.Altruism treats life as a hospice, and the more able or worthy you are, the more you deserve to suffer and die. As Biddle notes, "The solution to such atrocities is for people to repudiate altruism and embrace egoism."
Moreover, on the premise of altruism, it is wrong for those who possess more wealth or more virtue to benefit from that fact; thus, the authorities must see to it that the distribution of organs has nothing to do with who can afford to purchase an organ or whether the recipient is an innocent child, or a heroic soldier, or a convicted murderer.
We are at war with militant Islam, but you wouldn't know it from the Pentagon, which is busy erecting a shrine to Islam just five short years after Islamic terrorists destroyed a good chunk of its own building and killed more than 100 of its occupants. Worse, it's consulting on the project with a Wahhabi-educated cleric posing as a moderate.So much for today's Quote of the Day over at RealClear Politics ("Maybe multiculturalism is just a nice idea for people who haven't been bombed yet."), which looked like the twenty-first century's answer to "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged," up until I stopped by David Horowitz's web site.
Last week, military brass -- along with representatives from the terror-tied Council on American-Islamic Relations -- dedicated the first Muslim prayer center for the Marines as a symbol of the military's "religious tolerance" and "respect" for the faith the enemy uses to attack us. Already, plans are in the works to build by 2009 a bigger mosque at the Marine base in Quantico so Muslim service members can have a "proper place" to worship, and one that "honors their religious heritage," officials say, not realizing that the mosque can also be used by the enemy to build a Fifth Column inside the Marines. [bold and link added]
Going Places is a 1948 “Cold War cartoon defending the profit motive against anti-capitalist critics.”
Hence his book's title, Not Even Wrong: an epithet created by Wolfgang Pauli, an irascible early 20th-century German physicist. Pauli had three escalating levels of insult for colleagues he deemed to be talking nonsense: "Wrong!", "Completely wrong!" and finally "Not even wrong!". By which he meant that a proposal was so completely outside the scientific ballpark as not to merit the least consideration.I found this interesting, because Pauli's "Not even wrong" is the closest I've ever seen in mainstream science to the Objectivist concept of the "arbitrary".
...[P]hysicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958) is in a category of his own: the withering comment for which he's best known combines utter contempt on the one hand with philosophical profundity on the other. "This isn't right," Pauli is supposed to have said of a student's physics paper. "It's not even wrong."(Caveat: The articles do go onto say that Woit's arguments are more along the traditional Popperian lines of, "string theory can't be falsified", and "string theory can't generate verifiable experimental evidence". Hence Objectivists may find those arguments a mixed bag, at best.)
"Not even wrong" is enjoying a resurgence as the put-down of choice for questionable science: it's been used to condemn everything from string theory, via homeopathy, to intelligent design. There's a reason for this: Pauli's insult slices to the heart of what distinguishes good science from bad.
"I use 'not even wrong' to refer to things that are so speculative that there would be no way ever to know whether they're right or wrong," says Peter Woit, a mathematician at Columbia University who runs the weblog Not Even Wrong (www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/blog/).
A free banking system based on gold is able to extend credit and thus create bank notes (currency) and deposits, according to the productive requirements of the economy. Individual owners of gold are induced, by payments of interest, to deposit their gold in a bank (against which they can draw checks). But since it is rarely the case that all depositors want to withdraw all their gold at the same time, the banker need keep only a fraction of his total deposits in gold as reserves. This enables the banker to loan out more than the amount of his gold deposits (which means that he holds claims to gold rather than gold as security for his deposits). But the amount of loans he can afford to make is not arbitrary: he has to gauge it in relation to his reserves and to the status of his investments (Alan Greenspan, "Gold and Economic Freedom," The Objectivist, July 1966, pg 109).At this point, I'd say that I'm reasonably clear about the way in which fractional reserve banking works. Although I have some lingering worries (or perhaps just confusions) about the "money multiplier" created by the cycle of deposit-loan-deposit-loan (discussed by my friend Jimmy Wales here), I'm even far more clear about that than I was originally.
What underlies the practical advantages of the 100 percent-reserve gold standard over any form of fractional-reserve system is its moral superiority. It operates consistently with the law of the excluded middle and does not attempt to cheat reality by getting away with a contradiction. It recognizes that lending money precludes retaining that money in one's possession, and that retaining money in one's possession precludes lending it. The 100-percent-reserve system follows the principle that either one lends money or one retains the money, but not both together, with one and the same sum money. In contrast, a fractional-reserve system applied to checking deposits or banknotes is a deliberate attempt to cheat reality. It is the attempt to have one's money and lend it too. It is a system fully as dishonest as all other recurring efforts that take place in one form or another in attempts "to have one's cake and eat it too."Woah, Nellie!
Just as such attempts typically entail taking away someone else's cake, fractional-reserve banking applied to checking deposits or banknotes entails some parties gaining credit at the expense of other parties, and others unexpectedly being placed in need of credit. Again and again it results in financial contractions, depressions, and deflation, accompanied by widespread bank failures, which last represents the cheating coming home to roost. Again and again, individuals who believed they owned money, who would never have dreamed of lending out the money they needed to hold to make purchases and pay bills, and thus of lending, to the point of their own insolvency, wake up to learn that the checking deposits or banknotes they hold represent loans that have become uncollectable.
Imposition of the 100-percent-reserve principle in connection with checking deposits and banknotes is the imposition of financial honesty. It would require nothing more than that banks ask their customers whether in making a deposit or buying banknotes their intention was to lend money to the bank or to keep their money at the bank. In the first case, the bank's customers would receive a credit to a savings account or certificates of deposit, neither of which they could spend until such time as they withdrew the funds they had lent, which would entail equivalently reducing their savings account or redeeming their certificates of deposit. During the interval the bank, for its part, could lend the customers' money out, as it thought best. In the second case, the customers would receive either a credit to their checking account or banknotes, both of which they could spend as they wished. But so long as the customers held their funds in the form of checking accounts or banknotes, the bank could not lend or spend the proceeds its customers had entrusted to it. That money would be the customers' money, which they were not lending to the bank but merely keeping at the bank.
It follows from this discussion that it is mistaken to believe that the imposition by law of 100-percent-reserve banking in connection with checking deposits and banknotes would constitute government interference. It would constitute nothing more than the just exercise of the government's power to combat fraud--the fraud of having one's funds lent out despite the bank's deliberate creation of the impression that in making a checking deposit or purchasing banknotes one fully retained the possession of one's funds.
Shysterism in any form is always slippery. Thus if it occurs to anyone to argue that the banks' customers are not victims of fraud because they clearly know and understand that their funds are being lent out, then the answer is that in that case they would be parties to fraud. Their fraud would be the attempt to make payment to others not with money or reliable warehouse receipts for money, but with claims to debt. They would be engaged in the willful contradiction and deception of claiming to pay someone when in fact imposing on him the position of being a grantor of credit. (George Reisman, Capitalism, pg 957-8)
Conservative groups, including the influential Family Research Council (FRC), have voiced concerns that immunising young girls against the virus that most regularly causes cervical cancer, Human Papilloma- virus, may lead to sexual promiscuity. "We would oppose any measures to legally require vaccination or to coerce parents into authorising it," wrote the FRC in a recent letter to the US government. "Our primary concern is with the message that would be delivered to nine- to 12-year-olds with the administration of the vaccines. Care must be taken not to communicate that such an intervention makes all sex 'safe'." (News.independent.co.uk, 06/11/06.)
[L]et's do a quick recap:
- Iran is clearly trying to develop a nuclear bomb. Everyone knows it; no one disputes it (besides Iran).
- Iran is an indisputable enemy of the West. Weekly prayers include "Death to America" chants. Its president openly calls for the destruction of Israel, and openly expresses his goal that Islam should rule the world.
- Iran would use a nuclear bomb. Iran is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists with a messianic vision about the coming end of the world. These are not rational people. They "love death", as they openly tell us (and as Islamic suicide bombers prove weekly). They would be exhilirated by the chance to martyr themselves, as long as they could take us with them. A strategy of "nuclear deterrence" doesn't work with irrational people who think death is great.
- "Diplomacy" with an irrational life-hating dictatorship is dishonest and self-defeating. It is grotesquely irrational and immoral to seek to reward someone in exchange for not killing us. Isn't it blatantly obvious what behavior that encourages?
- Nothing we say or promise is going to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons in any case. There is nothing in this world we could give them, or that they would want, that could persuade them to cease and desist. They don't care about "this world". Their focus is on the "next world"--which, according to their beliefs, a nuclear bomb will help to bring about.
Bottom line: Iran wants to destroy us. We don't want to be destroyed (well, I guess I can't speak for the Europeans). There is no middle ground here. There is nothing to discuss, debate, or negotiate.
There is only one "diplomatic message" that needs to be sent to Iran: Stop developing nuclear weapons, or we will destroy you. And we mean it.
Sadly we are still wasting time treating the Iranians with kid-gloves when open warfare has long been overdue. As the elimination of Zarqawi shows, this war is winnable, these murderers are not invincible, our military is more than capable of destroying them. All that is required is that we commit ourselves to American self-defense.Amen!
Mainstream political and intellectual writers are unable, on principle, to face the barbarian nature of the enemyâ€™s culture. Instead, they blame America. Both Democrats and Republicans argue over who can engineer a better world in Iraq and win â€œthe hearts and mindsâ€ of the Islamic world. Itâ€™s we that have to change, not Muslims. Weâ€™re the problem, according to this analysis. If they havenâ€™t embraced the liberal democracy that weâ€™ve patiently and generously offered, we must have did something wrong. (Too few troops, too many troops, not enough U.N. troops, too much humiliation, too little force, too soon, too late, etc.)
The complete blindness to the inherent failure of Arab societies is captured in Colin Powellâ€™s quip on Iraq: â€œwe broke it, we own it.â€ If Saddamâ€™s Iraq was Colinâ€™s idea of a working nation, letâ€™s hope we never have Powell as a President.
So we are trying to get Iran to give up its nuclear bomb intentions by giving it a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel! No wonder Iran is willing to "study" the package. They probably can't believe it either. That's like the homeowner offering the thief a guaranteed supply of crowbars in the hopes the thief will use them for "peaceful purposes."What I find laughable is a nation sitting upon a massive underground lake of oil claiming it â€œneedsâ€ to develop nuclear energy. Yeah, rightâ€”like Antarctica needs to develop ice.
Of course, the homeowner (West) refuses to identify the fact that such a policy will result in all other thieves (thugs) noticing what works and presenting the same demands to the homeowner (West) until one day he discovers that his money and silverware (freedom) and whatever else he had to negotiate away, are gone. Such is the logical result of ignoring the existence of, and compromising on, principles.
This change of name is good news -- and not just because it's yet another highly
visible example of the organization's incompetent floundering. The name change
distances the organization from Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. After all,
the symbol of Atlas refers to far more than Atlas Shrugged. Given the
origin of the symbol in Ancient Greek myth, the name "The Atlas Society" does
not necessarily imply Ayn Rand.
Of course, this new "Atlas Society" will still claim to represent Ayn Rand's philosophy -- at least for a while. They've been explicitly distancing themselves from that prickly philosophy of Objectivism for some time now; it's just too uncompromising for Ed Hudgins. The new name will allow them to do that so much more easily. I wouldn't dignify that shift by calling it more honest, but it will be more accurate.
This has to be my favorite sculpture. Even in a photograph, I cannot look at it for long without being moved to tears. The woman reaches up for love. She touches him tenderly, bare of soul. He lifts her head to his lips, and they unite in a circle beneath his hopeful gaze. An exalted human experience, love and passion triumphant!I agree. I recall that earlier this spring Sherri Tracinski attacked a similar sculpture by Daniel Chester French because it had wings and was allegedly named after a passage in the Holy Bible (a point that seems to be a matter of debate among art historians). Tracinskiâ€™s position was that Frenchâ€™s sculpture was an unreal representation of romantic loveâ€”and that no artist, save for Sandra Shaw has been able to accurately capture love in their art.
Although this was a relatively quick and somewhat experimental painting, I have to admit that I love the end result. It will take some time for the thick white paint in the brighter areas of the fireworks to dry completely so that the painting can be varnished and professionally photographed, but hopefully at that point I can make a better image available. Until then, enjoy New Year's Eve and please send in any last comments or questions.For his age, Larsen is a deeply talented artist. Heâ€™s also a man seriously in love with portraying peopleâ€™s back-sides. I think Larsen will take his art to the next level when he is able to master the human faceâ€”and can portray a face that is alive, intelligent, and shows the viewer things like that magnetic form of engagement that we see when we witness the greatest and the beautiful, or a heart that has found serenity. I think if he wants it, it's his for the taking . . .
The wonderful thing that I think best characterizes both Nouveau and Deco is that it is functional art. They enliven menial everyday items with inspirational art, not by pasting art on top of things, but by making the style an integral/natural part of the structure of the things one creates. Nouveau does it in a flowing, curvy, often described as "whiplash" style (usually busy). Deco does it in a geometric, angular, bare-bones sort of way. But the same glorious idea that I adore applies to both: beauty and elegance are necessary in the structure of living, and not to be added as an after-thought.
â€œBorder crossers,â€ is I guess that is the new, official PC term of evasion. They used to be called wetbacks, but that was judged to harsh and even â€œracist.â€ After all Americans wouldnâ€™t want to hurt the feelings of those who flaunt our laws and national sovereignty. So, the new term became â€œillegal alien.â€ While it was an increase to two words and four syllables to say the same thing as one word, it was still accurate.You almost have to admire itâ€”the ability to reframe the debate by recasting the terms.
Accuracy was still a problem for the arbiters of language. Accordingly, the new, new term became â€œundocumented workers.â€ Now we are up to seven syllables to say nothing. â€œUndocumented,â€ as if the main problem with these invaders is a paper work hang-up. While shorter, â€œborder crossersâ€ is even more absurd. Millions cross our southern border legally every year. The purpose of the new PC term is to evade the distinction between the law abiding and the law breaker.
Not being able to drive cars or move freely are minor examples of the oppression women face in Saudi Arabia and other Islamic theocracies. Arranged marriages, domestic abuse, and honor killings are regular aspects of Muslim women's so-called lives. When their alternative is to become a man or to suffer a lifetime of psychological and physical abuse, the big surprise is that more Muslim women haven't had sex-change operations.Iâ€™d suspect if you are in a position to change your gender, youâ€™re in a position to leave the country. What I would like to know is the number of women who attempt to flee Saudi Arabia in seach of better environs.
Nucor planners, engineers, contractors and workers gather. A monumental struggle begins. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles arise, followed by spectacular failuresâ€”mounds of capital are expended at an alarming rateâ€”a growing doubt spreads among Nucor investorsâ€”naysayers are popping off in the press left and rightâ€”and, silently, Americaâ€™s industrial tycoons for which steel is their companiesâ€™ life blood wait in agonizing suspense.Read the whole thing.
Then: heroic perseveranceâ€”brilliantly ingenious solutionsâ€”increasing successesâ€”a muted but steadfast and growing determinationâ€”and, in the end, glorious, magnificent triumph! And above it all the while, leading the wayâ€”tough, certain, unflappable, his eyes ever focused on the goalâ€”stands Kenneth Iverson.
This is a sad development indeed, as many of Americaâ€™s great inventors got into technology experimenting with chemicals and home-made fireworks.Indeed. I for one loved my model rockets as a kid, and I look forward to introducing my future children to them and other â€œdangerousâ€™ hobbies as wellâ€”that is if the Congress doesnâ€™t get in the way first.
Consider the very idea of a Death Tax, for a moment. The deceased has already paid whatever taxes were demanded in the first place when he earned his wealth. If he wanted to bequeath this money while he was still alive, he wouldnâ€™t have to pay a tax on it first. (although unfortunately, the recipient might)Well, not if I can help it . . .
So why does he have to pay extra for being dead? Is there something wrong with dying, that it has to be punished or something? No, the answer is far more sinister: in the eyes of the taxman, heâ€™s just collecting what was his all along.
You see, your property was never yours at all. â€œYourâ€ property, and by extension your life, belonged to the state. They were just letting you use it. Everything you have is, in the end, their property.
Some notable sight was drawing the passengers, both men and women, to the window; and therefore I rose and crossed the car to see what it was. I saw near the track an enclosure, and round it some laughing men, and inside it some whirling dust, and amid the dust some horses, plunging, huddling, and dodging. They were cow ponies in a corral, and one of them would not be caught, no matter who threw the rope. We had plenty of time to watch this sport, for our train had stopped that the engine might take water at the tank before it pulled us up beside the station platform of Medicine Bowl. We were also six hours late, and starving for entertainment. The pony in the corral was wise, and rapid of limb. Have you seen a skillful boxer watch his antagonist with a quiet, incessant eye? Such an eye as this did the pony keep upon whatever man took the rope. The man might pretend to look at the weather, which was fine, or he might affect earnest conversation with a bystander; it was bootless. The pony saw through it. No feint hoodwinked him. This animal was thoroughly a man of the world. His undistracted eye stayed fixed upon the dissembling foe, and the gravity of his horse expression made the matter one of high comedy. Then the rope would sail out at him, but he was already elsewhere; and if horses laugh, gayety must have abounded in that corral. Sometimes the pony took a turn alone; next he had slid in a flash among his brothers, and the whole of them like a school of playful fish whipped round the corral, kicking up the fine dust and (I take it) roaring with laughter. Through the window-glass of our Pullman the thud of their mischievous hoofs reached us, and the strong, humorous curses of the cow-boys. Then for the first time I noticed a man who sat on the high gate of the corral, looking on. For he now climbed down with the undulations of a tiger, smooth and easy, as if his muscles flowed beneath his skin. The others had all visibly whirled the rope, some of them even shoulder high. I did not see his arm lift or move. He appeared to hold the rope down low, by his leg. But like a sudden snake I saw the noose go out its length and fall true; and the thing was done. As the captured pony walked in with a sweet, church-door expression, our train moved slowly on to the station, and a passenger remarked, "That man knows his business."
And so we catch our first glimpse of the Virginian in Owen Wister's seminal novel, the novel that distilled and named the essence of a great American icon and gave shape to the genre that followed: the Western. No time in history has ever been such a subject of romance, idealism, and longing as the conquering of the American West. It was a fantastic time, its essence unknown in all the centuries previous, and it was never obvious whether the breathtaking savagery of the western wilderness created the astonishing heroes, or whether the heroes, taking the unprecedented opportunity now available to them, created the West.
The Virginian embodies them all. He is a man of consummate skill, steel nerve, good-natured playfulness, and deep passion. Whatever he attempts, conducted by Wister's pen, he is a wholly integrated and consistant character; you can guess almost before he acts what he will do, but through Wister's suspenseful telling, you remain surprised by the manner in which he carries it off. The novel is a progression of The Virginian's acts, each more startling and appropriate than the last.
The other characters, serving as foils to demonstrate the Virginian's attributes, nevertheless display the same kind of integration, each so driven by a central theme that a lesser author would have left them caricatures instead of characters. Wister, however, does not.
As a novel, though, the book does have a few flaws: it is told from a first-person viewpoint with the author as a character, so he occasionally takes advantage of this to make editorial asides. The asides are suitable to the theme of the book -- the heroic nature of the Man of the West -- but they detract somewhat from the progression of the story. Still, I couldn't help but enjoy the nature of Wister's philosophizing:
There can be now doubt of this:--
All America is divided into two classes,--the quality and the equality. The latter will always recognize the former when mistaken for it. Both will be with us until our women bear nothing but kings.
It was through the Declaration of Idnependence that we Americans acknowledged the eternal inequality of man. For by it we abolished a cut-and-dried aristocracy. We had seen little men artificially held up in high places, and great men artificially held down in low places, and our own justice-loving hearts abhorred this violence to human nature. Therefore, we decreed that every man should thenceforth have equal liberty fo find his own level. By this very decree we acknowledged and gave freedom to true aristocracy, saying, "Let the best man win, whoever he is." Let the best man win! That is America's word. That is true democracy. And true democracy and true aristocracy are one and the same thing. If anybody cannot see this, so much the worse for his eyesight.
If, in your investigation of the great classics of literature, you missed this novel by Owen Wister, repair the situation immediately!
Crossposted to the Objectivism Metablog
One glaring inconsistency in the state's protection of private property rights extends for the entire length of its coastline. In addition to forbidding structures past the vegetation line on the beach, Texas lays claim to all land seaward of the high tide line, which can shift dramatically due to beach erosion. This state of affairs has existed for quite some time ....At the time, a news story concerning a lawsuit by Texas to evict a man from his own home after he found himself living on the beachfront had come to my attention.
If the Texas legislature can tackle Kelo, to protect property owners from rapacious local governments, it should also consider some measure of relief for landowners like Royer in the short term -- and reform or repeal of the Submerged Land Law as well as the Open Beaches Act in the long term.Well, obviously, the Texas legislature failed to come through. And Patterson's idea of relief?
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced a $1.3 million initiative today to help reimburse property owners who agree to relocate homes blocking public access to Texas beaches.Not quite what I had in mind. I was thinking more along the lines of letting the homeowners stay; not robbing everyone else of money in order to make the evictions go more smoothly in addition to this mass confiscation of homes.
Patterson said the plan is a more cost-effective and cooperative option than trying to sue more than 100 property owners to enforce state law guaranteeing public access to beaches.
"We have those who say that I should probably rent a D-6 bulldozer and roll out at 5:30 (a.m.) next weekend and start knocking down structures," Patterson said.The first group deserves to be robbed of its tax money, the second, to be evicted from its homes. And it is these two groups of bloodsuckers that Patterson has chosen to represent, while attempting to make himself look good by pointing to them and saying, "Look! I'm not so bad!"
"On the other hand we have folks who say it's all the government's fault that this erosion has occurred and you need to compensate me at complete full, fair market value."
Skyscrapers are hard to build and even harder to make money from. Perhaps that is why they hold such an enduring fascination. "The problem of the tall office building", wrote Louis Sullivan in 1896, "is one of the most stupendous, one of the most magnificent opportunities that the Lord of Nature in His beneficence has ever offered to the proud spirit of man."[Fans of "The Fountainhead" may know that Louis Sullivan's life was a "concrete inspiration" for the character of Henry Cameron, although Cameron is an independent character, not a fictionalized version of Sullivan. -- PSH]
Three sorts of changes have shaped the current wave of skyscraper design: materials, lifts and computing...The second issue is elevators (or as the British call them, "lifts").
Translucent towers, which aside from looking pretty also alleviate one of the worst things about skyscrapers--the long shadows they cast on the streets below--are now proposed by architects everywhere. Thin-film technology (coating the glass in glazes that repel heat, but let in light) and self-cleaning glass are becoming standard. And glass can be formed into shapes that now make Mies's conceptual design look rather conservative, as at 30 St Mary Axe in London (better known as the "gherkin") or the Hearst building in New York.
Other changes to materials have helped towers weigh less, which allows them to go higher. Floors and walls have become thinner, thanks to innovations like slim-line insulation made of fibreglass and aluminium foil, an idea borrowed from containers used to transport blood. This brings its own problems, though. When a floor is really large, thin ones become like trampolines and engineers have to find ways to prevent the journey to the photocopier from becoming too bouncy.
Architects are also grappling with Mies's other idea: dispensing with the central core, or breaking it up. Skyscrapers up to 200 metres tall can stand up with a central core of steel and concrete that houses a building's lifts and the plumbing for support services. Any taller and the building needs outriggers, which provide support like the flying buttresses on a gothic cathedral. This structure can apparently be extended heavenwards indefinitely. The Burj Dubai is made up of a central core with outriggers. [See above image for an example of these "outriggers". -- PSH] It is determined to claim the title of tallest building in the world--so determined, in fact, that its final height is a secret and subject to elongation to keep ahead of would-be usurpers.
But engineers also have to work out how to get people to the top floors.And finally, advances in computing,
Tall buildings have always relied on changes to lifting technology to go higher--the first hydraulic lifts around 1870 made it possible to go higher than the steam-powered lifts they replaced. Now, however, the constraints come less from the ability of a lift to travel half a kilometre vertically than from how long people must wait in the lobby for a lift to take them to the 50th floor. That makes it necessary to find ways to speed up their journeys around the building.
Most tall towers now have at least two banks of lifts: one for the lower floors and one for the upper ones. In the tallest towers in Asia (home to eight of the world's ten highest giants) this still means waiting too long. So engineers run two or more lifts in each lift shaft, and build "sky lobbies" where passengers cross between lifts if they want to go the whole way down or up.
These arrangements, whereby cappuccino-carrying office workers or hotel porters are directed to a particular lift according to where they want to go, are collectively known as "hall call". KONE, a Finnish lift company, is working on a lift system that sends text messages to people's mobile phones as they enter a building, informing them to take lift five, say, if they want to go to their desk or lift seven if they want the cafe on the 60th floor.
Contemplating buildings this complicated has been possible in recent years only because computers have became powerful enough to build three-dimensional models that developers, architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers and builders can all work on. Before such computer systems arrived, design changes had to be made on several sets of drawings, which increased the chances of mistakes. Strange shapes constructed at lower levels were possible before computers sped up. But ambitious forms like the new 230-metre China Central Television building in Beijing (which looks a little like a bent croquet hoop) needed computer processors to design.
Computers have made other things possible, too. Engineers can use them to test how a building might stand up to a fire or an aeroplane crash. When the main tower at Canary Wharf was proposed in the 1980s, according to Peter Bressington of Arup, an engineering firm that is a prolific builder of skyscrapers, nobody was able to predict accurately how long it would take to evacuate if a fire broke out. Now Arup can run a simulation in which a fire starts on the 35th floor, one lift is out of action and a few thousand people have to get out, and see how long it takes.
As well as allowing skyscrapers to go taller, these changes have made them more efficient machines for living or working in and brought their running costs down.
Mayor T. Semmes Walmsley, of New Orleans, called Irby's disappearance "the most heinous public crime in Louisiana history." No one had any doubt about who had engineered it.There is a limit to what our system can take, and that limit was crossed in Louisiana during the 1920s and 1930s. I would argue that today, we are closer to that limit nationwide. A couple of things here sure sound familiar.
From the start of his political career, Long operated according to a different set of principles. At twenty-five, he ran for and won a seat on the state Railroad Commission, turning practically the first meeting he attended into a denunciation of Standard Oil. At the following meeting, he demanded that the oil company be declared a public utility, a move that would have given the commission regulatory control over its pipelines. In the next several years, he also took on the railroads, the telegraph companies, and the administration of the governor at the time, John M. Parker. (At one point, Parker sued Long for libel; Long lost and was fined a dollar.) In almost all of his battles, Long took the side of ratepayers and small businesses against large (and, to a great extent, predatory) corporations. In 1923, he forced one of the state's major phone companies to give up a twenty-per-cent rate increase that it had been granted. Thousands of customers received refund checks, and Long made sure that they knew whom they had to thank.Just a few days ago, I heard someone raise the notion of regulating Google as a utility. No one batted an eye. And refund checks.... While I support a lowering of the income tax, I would have been more thankful to have learned that the cuts were permanent than I am knowing that the cuts might go away, only to allow someone else to demogogue refund checks some time in the future. [Clarification: It would be more accurate to say that, as a supporter of laissez-faire capitalism, I favor repealing the income tax. A lowering is truly acceptable only as a preliminary move in that direction.] This decision concerning the income tax tells me that the Republicans -- supposedly the party of small government -- figure that the American people value small sums of money over their freedom. To the extent that they are correct, we're in trouble, because it makes another Huey Long (or worse) possible.
... Long introduced what he called "the Long Plan" for "Redistribution of Wealth." To push the plan, he formed a group, the Share Our Wealth Society, which took as its slogan "Every Man a King." Long claimed that he had come up with a way to provide each family in the United States with five thousand dollars, or enough money "for a home, an automobile, a radio, and the ordinary conveniences."In reality, Long's plan -- to the extent that it existed at all -- was made up of a series of tax proposals, with no provision to distribute the proceeds, and the numbers never came close to adding up. (One economist calculated that, in order to provide just fourteen hundred dollars to every needy family, the government would have to impose a tax rate of a hundred per cent on all income above four thousand dollars.) Critics condemned Share Our Wealth as false hope for the poor -- "This is not water for the thirsty, but a mirage," Walter Lippmann wrote -- but the poor apparently were not dissuaded. Share Our Wealth clubs began to spring up in other states, mostly in the South, but also in New York and California. In late 1934, the society boasted more than three million members. To manage Share Our Wealth, Long hired a charismatic young clergyman named Gerald L. K. Smith, whom Mencken described as "the champion boob-bumper of all epochs." Smith was a virulent anti-Semite and an avowed Roosevelt-hater. "We're going to get that cripple out of the White House," he promised.Smith sounds like Pat Buchanan -- but evidently with a charisma implant. His ilk, as I indicated earlier, are still around. Many are regarded as coalition partners by small-government conservatives in the Republican Party.
Long was rushed to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, where a physician he had installed a few years earlier was in charge. The physician botched the surgery, and two days later Long was dead. [bold added]Hmm. He might have been better off letting -- oh, I don't know -- the hospital, perhaps, choose its own surgeons.... If only all dictators would suffer so directly from their own actions! But they do not, and their power lust ruins many lives before they are stopped -- if they are stopped before they die.
The following message is brought to you by The Future.. Faster industry campaign.
This week, the Senate is poised to vote on the issue of “Net Neutrality,” which is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and threatens the Internet freedom we now enjoy.
It is up to YOU to stop it. Please click here to contact your legislators, and demand they oppose “Net Neutrality.”
The Internet has been successful to date because the government has maintained a vigilant, but hands-off approach that has allowed companies to innovate in direct response to the evolving wants and needs of their customers.
A consumer’s Internet experience is today unimpeded - in the absence of virtually any regulation of the Internet - because there exists a powerful consumer mandate for Internet freedom. “Net Neutrality” supporters want to change all of that, putting the federal government in charge of how consumers use the Internet.
With Congress set to vote on “Net Neutrality” as early as Thursday, it is imperative that you contact your legislators right now and tell them, Say NO to “Net Neutrality.”
Existing net neutrality bills are solutions in search of a problem.
In a new communications era defined by multiple choices - multiple communications pathways - consumers simply will not continue to purchase service from a provider that blocks or restricts their Internet access.
When consumers have choices in the marketplace, consumers have control. Consider the following:
- There is vigorous competition between DSL, cable modem, wireless, satellite, and other Internet access providers.
- In some areas free Wi-Fi access is available.
- In others, access over power line is becoming available. This competition directly benefits consumers - and the latest evidence is the announcement of $12.99/month DSL service from AT&T.
Unnecessary regulatory or legislative intervention in marketplace activities would stifle, not enhance the Internet. Laws are inflexible and difficult to fine-tune - particularly when applied to technologies that are rapidly evolving.
The last thing that consumers need is government regulation of the Internet, disguised as “Net Neutrality.” Please click here to tell your legislator, Vote NO! on Net Neutrality.
The recent ban on abortion in South Dakota is a victory for the "pro-life" movement--and thus, anti-abortionists claim, a victory for "the sanctity of human life." But is it?
The South Dakota law bans abortions in all cases except saving the life of the mother. Consider what this would mean for human life--not the "lives" of embryos or primitive fetuses, but the lives of real, living, breathing, thinking women.
It would mean that women who wanted to terminate a pregnancy because it resulted from rape or contraceptive failure--or because the would-be father has abandoned her--or because the fetus is malformed--would be forbidden from doing so. It would mean that they would be forced to endure the misery of unwanted pregnancy and the incredible burdens of child rearing. It would mean that women would be sentenced to 18-year terms of enslavement to unwanted children--thereby suffocating their hopes, their dreams, their personal ambitions, their chance of happiness. And it would mean that women who refused to submit to such a fate would be forced to turn to the "back-alley" at a staggering risk to their health. According to a World Health Organization estimate, 110,000 women worldwide die each year from such illegal abortions and up to six times as many suffer injury from them.
Clearly, anti-abortionists believe that such women's lives are an unimportant consideration in the issue of abortion. Why? Because, they claim, the embryo or fetus is a human being--and thus to abort it is murder. But an embryo is not a human being, and abortion is not murder.
There is no scientific reason to characterize a raisin-size lump of cells as a human being. Biologically speaking, such an embryo is far more primitive than a fish or a bird. Anatomically, its brain has yet to develop, so in terms of its capacity for consciousness, it doesn't bear the remotest similarity to a human being. This growth of cells has the potential to become a human being--if preserved, fed, nurtured, and brought to term by the woman that it depends on--but it is not actually a human being. Analogously, seeds can become mature plants--but that hardly makes a pile of acorns equal to a forest.
What can justify the sacrifice of an actual woman's life to human potential of the most primitive kind? There can be no rational justification for such a position--certainly not a genuine concern for human life. The ultimate "justification" of the "pro-life" position is religious dogma. Led by the American Roman Catholic Church and Protestant fundamentalists, the movement's basic tenet, in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that an embryo must be treated "from conception as a person" created by the "action of God." What about the fact that an embryo is manifestly not a person, and treating it as such inflicts mass suffering on real people? This tenet is not subject to rational scrutiny; it is a dogma that must be accepted on faith.
The "pro-life" movement tries to obscure the religious, inhuman nature of its position by endlessly focusing on the medical details of late-term abortions (although it seldom mentions that "partial birth" abortions are extremely rare, constituting 0.17 percent of all abortions, and often involve a malformed fetus or a threat to the life of the mother). But one must not allow the smokescreen to distract one from the real issue: the "pro-life" movement is on a faith-based crusade to ban abortion no matter the consequences to actual human life--part of what the Pro-Life Alliance calls the "absolute moral duty to do everything possible to stop abortion, even if in the first instance we are only able to chip away at the existing legislation." This is why it supports the South Dakota law, which is the closest the movement has come to achieving its avowed goal: to ban abortion at any stage of pregnancy, including the first trimester--when 90 percent of abortions take place. As the Pro-Life Alliance puts it: "We continue to campaign for total abolition."
The "pro-life" movement is not a defender of human life--it is, in fact, a profound enemy of actual human life and happiness. Its goal is to turn women into breeding mares whose body is owned by the state and whose rights, health and pursuit of happiness are sacrificed en mass--all in the name of dogmatic sacrifice to the pre-human.
Christian Beenfeldt, MA in philosophy, is a guest writer for the Ayn Rand
Institute. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of
"Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."
If Rand is known for her villains, her heroes are even more vividly portrayed. And here too we encounter real life examples, this time in our clients. When Shamille Peters speaks of a longtime dream to run her own floral shop, she is reminiscent of Dagny Taggart standing on the railroad tracks as a child and vowing to one day run a railroad. When Lonzo Archie stood up to the power structure of the State of Mississippi and refused to give up his home for a Nissan plant, he evoked the image of Hank Rearden when he refused to give up Rearden Metal to those who demanded it for the public good. And when taxicab entrepreneur Leroy Jones said he wanted nothing from others, just a chance to "do it myself," Howard Roark couldn't have said it better.Check out the whole thing!
What is an ideology? It states the common good. It is a statement of values, it names ideals. It joins people in a purpose, it urges loyalty and sacrifice. It is visionary and explains what we are all doing here. It says why and how we must work together.
Before we start searching for direction, we need to put ideas back on top. To decide whether freedom is more important than equality. To stop watching TV whose advertising, collectively, promotes greed, because greed also destroys trust. To think, to reclaim our own judgment. And to refute Ayn Rand's antisocial tracts, because we have become what she poisonously prescribed: selfish, unhelpful, and denying of the common good.
Then we can start the search.
Microsoft has just announced that it is removing PDF features from the next version of Microsoft Office because Adobe will sue it for antitrust violations if it does.
The key to the success of Adobeâ€™s PDF format is that it is free of any licensing restrictions, so anyone can implement PDF readers/writers. Microsoftâ€™s competitors have â€“ both operating system vendors like Apple and Linux and competing office suites like Star Office and OpenOffice.org. However Microsoft isnâ€™t allowed to â€“ not because Adobe has any legal right to prevent it, but because Adobe claims that it wonâ€™t be able to compete with Microsoft if Microsoft makes PDF features available for free like most everyone else does. Adobe charges $449 for Adobe Acrobat â€“ something it can only get away if Microsoft isnâ€™t allowed to compete with it. In effect, it is saying â€œanyone can use our format and compete with our productsâ€¦ unless you actually present a competitive challenge.â€
Microsoft expects Adobe to sue anyway because it will offer its own portable document format instead of selling Adobe’s products for them in its own software. (Meanwhile, anti-Microsoft advocates continue blasting it for rejecting â€œopen standards.â€)
You can bypass Adobe and get free PDF creation software here.
When I finally got around to taking basic micro- and macro-economics in graduate school, it was in many ways a disappointment. I was certainly not an expert, but by this time in my life, I had been exposed to many ideas about how economies ought to work. However, the class I took was nothing like the few books I had previously read. Those books argued for laissez faire capitalism and criticized government intervention. The instructor and the textbook were united in believing that actual markets are â€œimperfectâ€ and break down and government intervention is required to keep order and safety. At the time I had some trouble coming up with arguments against market failure since aside from large economics treatises that I did not have time to read, there were seemed to be no concise refutations of such supposed circumstances.
Today the situation is quite different thanks to Brian P. Simpson, Assistant Professor in the School of Business and Management at National University, La Jolla, California. As its name implies, Simpsonâ€™s book, Markets Donâ€™t Fail! (Lexington Books, 2005) provides an antidote to the almost universal college economics textbook assertions about market failure. In that respect, itâ€™s an excellent resource for those who want to understand the issues behind these claims.
In his text, Simpson addresses some of the most common claims of market failure, examining issues such as monopolization, externalities, environmentalism, and public goods, just to name a few. In each example, Simpson lays out the strongest case of the interventionist sideâ€”and then proceeds to utterly demolish it. An illustrative example is his coverage of externalities. He begins by clearly defining the term â€œexternalityâ€:An â€œexternalityâ€â€¦ is a cost imposed, or benefit bestowed, on people other than those who purchase or sell a good or service. The recipient of the externality is neither compensated for the cost imposed on him, nor does he pay for the benefit bestowed upon him. These costs and benefits are labeled â€œexternalitiesâ€ because the people who experience them are outside or external to the transaction to buy and sell the good or service. (P.85)After further describing the difference between positive and negative externalities, Simpson explains why it is claimed that markets fail in this instance:The alleged failure of the market occurs because, it is claimed, the market provides too many goods that produce negative externalities and too few goods that create positive externalities. Too many goods that create negative external effects are allegedly produced because the costs imposed on those who experience the negative externalities are not taken into account in the production of the goods creating the negative side effects. Remember, these costs are imposed on people who neither buy nor sell the goods. If these costs were accounted for in the production of such goods the cost of producing them, and therefore the price needed to purchase them, would be higher. Hence, fewer of them would be produced and purchased.Finally, Simpson proceeds to analyze and refute not only the economic arguments behind both positive and negative externalities, arguing that acting on â€œexternality theory in a consistent manner and implement[ing] policies based on it . . . would lead to economic stagnation, a much lower standard of living, and thus a much lower level of individual satisfaction in the economyâ€ but going deeper and arguing that the entire concept of â€œexternalityâ€ is philosophically invalid and absurd.
The â€œsolutionâ€ â€¦ is government intervention into the market. â€¦It is claimed that the government must take some action to restrict the production of these goods by, perhaps, imposing a tax on the producers of such goods so that these will experience the effects of all the costs they impose on others. (P.86-87)
He concludes the chapter by writing that â€œ[t]he externality argument does not provide any evidence of market failure. The only evidence of failure this argument provides, as with all the arguments against the market, is the failure of contemporary economists and other intellectuals to embrace sound concepts and ideas.â€
Markets Donâ€™t Fail! is about more than just economics. Just as in the case of externalities above, Simpson presents a multiple level refutation of each of the market failure claims. In a separate chapter he also provides a good review of the positive case for capitalism, showing in detail how capitalism is the only moral social system and rests on an ethics of egoism. Simpson rewards the reader with a wealth of arguments that will help him understand the issues involvedâ€”and students of economics will finally have a resource with detailed answers to the false claims so often made in their textbooks.
Across the board, irrespective of class or race or education, Americans were getting smarter. Flynn was able to quantify the shift: in forty-six years, the American people had gained 13.8 IQ points on average.
The trend had gone unnoticed for so long because th eIQ establishment routinely normalized the exams to ensure that a person of average intelligence scored 100 on the test. So, every few years, they'd review the numbers and tweak the test to ensure that the median score was 100. Without realizing it, they were slowly but reliably increasing the difficulty of the test, as though they were ramping up the speed of a treadmill. If you looked exclusively at the history of the scores themselves, IQ seemed to be running in place, unchanged over the past century. But if you factored in the mounting challenge presented by the tests themselves, the picture changed dramatically: the test-takers were getting smarter.
Once you released your Dwarven fighter into the world, the calculations involved in determining the effects of his actions--attacking a specific creature with a specific weapon under specific circumstances with a specific squad of comrades fighting alongside you--would leave most kids weeping if you put the same charts on a math quiz.
Which gets to the ultimate question of why a ten-year-old found any of this fun. For me, the embarrassing truth of the matter is that I did ultimately grow frustrated with my baseball simulation, but not for the reasons you might expect. It wasn't that arcane language wore me down, or that I grew tired of switching columns on the Bases Empty chart, or that I decided that six hours was too long ot spend alone in my room on a Saturday afternoon in July.
No, I moved on from [the baseball simulation] because it wasn't realistic enough.
An attorney with a prominent conservative Christian group says he is troubled by the recent announcement that the popular Internet search engine Google has dumped news sites criticizing radical Islam.So far so good -- except that he's not done yet.
"[Users are essentially saying] 'I'll do the decision-making -- the discriminating, if you will -- as to which articles I want to read and which ones I don't,'" says [Steve] Crampton [, chief counsel of the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy]. "But when you retrieve only left-leaning articles or only articles that are favorable to the religion of Islam, you're not really providing news. You're providing a slanted view of the world." [one link dropped, one added]
When you consider how large this entity has become, you start to get into a realm where an argument could be made that perhaps this entity now becomes sort of like a public utility to the extent that the people rely on Google and Google alone," the attorney states. "There may be an argument that the government can step in and regulate Google in a way that it couldn't otherwise regulate a private entity." [bold added]And what argument is that? "That obedience to precedent trumps a long-overdue changing of the ways?"
By Diana, cross-posted from NoodleFood
A professor offers students eight helpful tips on how to cheat good. It doesn't speak well of today's students that they cheat so ineptly. It's a travesty: Our high schools just aren't preparing students for the academic challenges of cheating in college!
Today's gym culture seems like the perfect vehicle for nurturing the combination of narcissism and loathing of the masses necessary to carry out a terrorist suicide mission. If some of these attackers viewed their own bodies as pure instruments, and everyone else as wasteful and deserving of punishment, they could just as well have come to that conclusion through absorbing the healthy-living agenda of the gym as by reading the Quran. At the gym, Atta, Khan, and the others could focus on perfecting the self, the body, as a pure and righteous thing -- and hone their disdain for others.Thank heavens we have the stalwart Brendan O'Neill to brave the great government-, media-, and blogosphere-wide conspiracy of silence designed to avert suspicion from Charles Atlas as the originator of the notion that Western infidels deserve to be killed! Had we all but known about the bodybuilding literature that keeps popping up among the Korans and bomb-making materials every time some Afghan cave or Canadian flat gets raided, we'd have known the error of our ways long ago.... Of course keeping an eye on a mosque is a silly an idea as closing a gym!
So, should we shut down all gyms in the name of fighting terrorism? Of course not. It's a ludicrous idea. But no more ludicrous, perhaps, than the infiltration of Western mosques. [bold added]
[It] consists of threatening to impeach an opponent's character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate. Example: "Only the immoral can fail to see that Candidate X's argument is false." (139)Here, O'Neil is saying something between, "Only the bloodthirsty would insult my intelligence by keeping an eye on a harmless mosque," and "Only someone too happy to jump to conclusions would do a thing like that." Indeed, on that latter score, there is perhaps even more than the argument from intimidation going on, as I will elaborate shortly.
I wish to quote you:You will note that, without having bothered to see how I reached my conclusions about Islam -- or offering one scintilla of evidence to the contrary -- he has already decided that my "claims" are "baseless", and yet that I somehow owe it to him to spoon-feed him all the facts upon which I have reached said conclusion.
"Islam, which has no strong tradition of rational inquiry or of religious toleration, and which incites violence and murder against unbelievers."
May I enquire as to the facts on which you base your confidant claim that Islam 'incites violence and murder against unbelievers. Although not a member of the faith myself, I would encourage you to do your homework before resorting to such seemingly authoritative but baseless and misinformed claims.
[N]o. I am not going to reproduce this all in detail here, for you, personally. Why? Because if, in the years since September 11, 2001 you really haven't noticed a theme by now, you never will and nothing I can say is going to change your mind. And if you have, and are still asking questions like this, interrogating me as if I am some sort of war criminal, then you are no better than a terrorist yourself. In either case, I am wasting my time.At this point, to ask me to name the facts behind my conclusion about something that the terrorists themselves constantly admit -- that they are moved to act by their faith -- is about as intellectually honest as to demand that I give a detailed description of the entire inventory of events I witnessed that led me to the "seemingly authoritative, but baseless and misinformed claim" that "What goes up must come down."
I do not owe you an explanation for my views, and I do not intend to give you one. I am finished with this conversation.
An internet cafÃ© in Ã–rebro in Sweden has been closed after the local council argued that its twelve PCs were occasionally used for gambling and it therefore needed a gaming permit.
When protesting didn't help and both the country administrative board and the administrative court ruled in favor of the cafe, the case was taken to the administrative court of appeal in JÃ¶nkÃ¶ping, which yesterday ruled that a PC - even in an internet cafÃ© - automatically becomes a gaming machine if someone plays games with a financial stake on it. (theregister.co.uk, 06/01/06.)
In response to the numerous concerns voiced regarding definitions posted on the Equity & Race website, we have decided to revise our website in a way that will hopefully provide more context to readers around the work that Seattle Public Schools is doing to address institutional racism. The intended purpose of our work in the area of race and social justice is to bring communities together through open dialogue and honest reflection around what is meant by racism and the impact is has on our society and more specifically, our students. Our intention is not to put up additional barriers or develop an â€œus against themâ€ mindset, nor is it to continue to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality. It is our hope that we can explore the work of leading scholars in the areas of race and social justice issues to help us understand the dynamics and realities of how racism permeate throughout our society and use their knowledge to help us create meaningful change. This difficult work is vital to the success of our students and families. Thank you for sharing your concerns.I love how the Hollinsâ€™ apology still manages to make a muck of it, this time attacking the â€œunsuccessful conceptâ€ of the â€œcolorblind mentality.â€ Yeah, you know, that old chestnut that leads one to actually believe that race is immaterial to what one thinks or does. And I also love the ode to â€œopen dialogueâ€ and the desire to avoid an â€œus against themâ€ mindset. Sure, your mentality may be failed, but we still can talk about it.
Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D.
Director of Equity & Race Relations
Seattle Public Schools
The same Islam that pronounces death for conversion to another religion, forces women married to Muslims to become Muslims too. Forced conversions figures reach between 500 to 600 people a year in Pakistan, although "national media report only 100 such cases" that police and the courts "treat prejudicially". This was the most significant conclusion of a meeting on "Forced Conversion of Women and Minorities Rights in Pakistan" held on 26 May in a hotel in Lahore.In reading the article, I was at first struck by the fact that no one at this conference roundly denounced this barbaric practice or its close cousin, execution for apostasy, which, if it is not actually legal in Pakistan, apparently might as well be legal. The following passage makes both of these points.
In Pakistan we do not have any law against forced conversion and converting from Islam to any other religion means death. To change this state of affairs, we must consider the issue as a struggle for democracy and invite Muslims as well to these meetings, so they can help us to better understand all points of view of the argument. [bold added]What is there to understand? That the followers of Mohammed are all about telling other people what to do, their rational conclusions and actual wishes be damned? What else would a forced "convert" do for the unholy cause of Islam, but to have the scimitar for "apostasy" hanging over the "convert's" head? Islam is as much as a movement against the free exercise of the intellect as it is an intellectual movement.
Kalyan Singh, a Sikh participant said one of the toughest challenges to overcome was the "subjection of judges to Islamic clerics. Judges do not manage to deal with such cases neutrally because they are scared of the revenge of religious extremists."Hmmm. Makes me wonder about the veracity of this recent claim, by an official of the Pakistani government. You know, the one "allied" with us against the Islamist Axis.
Joseph Francis, of the Center for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement took up this argument. "Our organization has dealt with hundreds of forced conversion cases. Not even the judges of the High Courts deal with such cases objectively. Parents are not allowed to talk to their daughters and many forcibly converted girls are made to be prostitutes."
In conclusion, participants "forcefully and unanimously condemned forced conversions" and called on the government to "abolish personal laws and to punish those who indulge in such practices". [bold added]
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.The story goes on, and, sad to say, in the same vein. Nicole Gelinas of City Journal reports the following reason why New Orleans failed to elect a mayor who would spearhead a much-needed reform of its criminal justice system.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them. [bold added]
The New York Times unwittingly summed up the attitude of the candidates and of New Orleanians in general in its election wrap-up: "Mostly unspoken was the larger reality: that the federal money destined for the city, as much as $10 billion that would perhaps arrive by late summer, would have far more influence on its recovery than the actions of any mayor," the paper noted Sunday.Gelinas, whose reporting on Katrina has been superb overall, then misses making a profound point, saying, "New Orleans needs that federal money of course." Yeah. Like I need another hole in my head.
By Nicholas Provenzo, cross-posted from The Rule of Reason
I was recently asked about my thoughts on the alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians by Marines in Haditha last November. I think we all can agree that current US policy is not to target non-combatants, and certainly not wantonly as is alleged here (I for one think justice demands the investigation be concluded before flying off the deep end).
Nevertheless, here are a few observations:
1.) There is no charge of a cover-up, like there was in My Lai during the Vietnam War. The top Marine commanders seem resolute in finding out exactly what took place in Haditha, determine if it was a crime, and prosecute those responsible.
2.) What does bother me, is if the charges do prove true, this incident indicates a severe loss of moral in at least one Marine unit in Iraq and a general disrespect for the commander's intent. No one has authorized the massacre of civilians as retaliation for the death of American forces. Marines must understand what their commanders seek to achieve and follow their lawful orders to the letter, even if their rage and contempt for the enemy gets in the way.
3.) That said, I deeply disagree with the idea of an enemy "non-combatant" under the so-called "law of land warfare;" that is, a policy that separates the enemy's fighters from the civilian population that makes the war against us possible. The insurgents don't exist in a vacuum; they move freely in the towns and villages and are given comfort and aid by the local populations. Why then should the Iraqi "non-combatants" who support them be exempt from the full effect of this war, if by targeting them, the war would end sooner, and American lives would be saved? If the Iraqi people are guilty of action against the United States, why shouldn't they pay for it until they chose to surrender? I can think of no honest reason--except the view that the US must sacrifice its men to utter savages.
4.) And that's why although I would disagree with the actions of the accused Marines if the charges against them prove true, I can understand why it happened. One can only suffer savagery (and the seeming indifference to savagery) to a point. Beyond that point, one does become susceptible to rage and the unjustifiable conduct that comes from rage. If there was a practical plan for victory in Iraq, I don't think men would be driven to massacre innocents. I wonder then if this alleged incident indicates a sense of hopelessness on the ground in Iraq, and if that's the case, I hold that it would be us back home who would be to blame for that.
At root (and I've said this several times before), the population in Iraq that opposes our troops should feel as much of the horrors of war as did those Southerners who opposed the Union during the American Civil War. I believe America ought to let lose a modern day General Sherman to break the back of the civilian population that supports the insurgents. Let the jihadists come to learn that fighting against the US equals death to everything they hold dear--and a pointless, futile death at that. The men we ask to fight on our behalf deserve nothing less.
By Martin Lindeskog, cross-posted from the Egoist blog
Now that is an interesting offer -- we will talk, if they end uranium enrichment. What's in it for Iran? Nothing. Is this a ploy so that the Bush Administration can say they wanted to be diplomatic while at the same time making an offer Iran would refuse? We'll see. (CharlotteCapitalist.com, 06/01/06.)
Within a day of Condi's proposal, the international debate is not--as she had planned--over whether Iran should suspend its enrichment. Instead, as I suspected, the debate is over whether the Bush administration should drop its preconditions for talks with Iran. In other words, having appeased Iran's European appeasers, we are being asked to make even more concessions.
To their credit, both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Sun have identified the proposal as a crucial error. The other good news, according to a New York Times report on the internal White House debate, is that President Bush approved this proposal because he expected it to fail, allowing him to "check off the box" of diplomacy before he can "confront Iran." (TIADaily.com, 06/01/06.)
By Gus Van Horn, cross-posted from the Gus Van Horn blog
Judge [Janis Graham] Jack, a former nurse, couldn't understand how a disease that caused fewer than 200 deaths annually in the entire United States could have resulted in 20,000 claims in Mississippi and surrounding states.Not that you would necessarily have had to be a nurse to become a little suspicious of the above....
The diagnosis of silicosis was made in 99% of more than 9,000 plaintiffs by the same nine doctors. One admitted that he didn't even know the criteria for diagnosing the disease, but had simply included a paragraph supplied by the screening company in each of his reports. One doctor had his secretary fill out patient diagnoses on blank forms, while another analyzed 1,239 patients in 72 hours.
The judge also found that more than 65% of the silica plaintiffs had also been plaintiffs in a previous asbestos suit, with the diagnoses made by the same doctors. She stated that statistics alone should have shown the lawyers that their case defied "all medical knowledge and logic," and that by bringing the suit they had shown a "reckless disregard of the duty owed the court."
How were so many "victims" found so quickly? The answer lies not in luck or previous medical oversight but in a well-oiled litigation machine run by an aggressive band of entrepreneurial lawyers. Operating in the shadows of the civil justice system, the machine's sole purpose is to turn people like Carl Thomas into case numbers.To the corporations whose pockets were about to be rifled, the enormous number of cases looked like "asbestos all over again". Is it any wonder that Judge Jack took the unusual step of fining one law firm in Houston, or that she wrote the following blistering rebuke as part of her 249-page decision?
Like the best machines, the marvel of this one is its simplicity. The law firm hires a medical screening company. The screening company hires a doctor. The two go to work, one bringing people through the front door, the other stamping them as sick. At the end of the day, a clerk at a law firm fills in a few blanks, punches a button and produces a lawsuit.
It's the job of the screening company to connect with workers. It owns a mobile van, maybe several, that shows up in parking lots to conduct X-ray sessions. By the time the van arrives, thousands of potential claimants have been reached by direct mail, fliers put up in union halls and ads placed in hundreds of small-town newspapers and occasionally on television.
The X-rays are done at no cost, with the understanding that the results are given to lawyers for the purpose of litigation. The screening company receives a set fee per person tested, as does the doctor who receives the X-rays along with a brief work history of the potential client.
The goal is volume. In May 2003, Lloyd Criss, owner of defunct screening company Gulf Coast Marketing in La Marque, sent a promotional letter to lawyers that emphasized one thing.
"Our marketing efforts have brought thousands of new cases to plaintiff law firms," the letter stated. "Prior to the year 2000, Lloyd Criss was employed by the Foster and Sear law firm, and in a one-year period approximately 7,000 new cases were added to that firm's inventory." [bold added]
This small cadre of nontreating physicians, financially beholden to lawyers and screening companies rather than to patients, managed to notice a disease missed by approximately 8,000 other physicians -- most of whom had the significant advantage of speaking to, examining and treating the plaintiffs ... In the majority of cases, these diagnoses are more the creation of lawyers than doctors. Conversely, virtually all of the ... diagnosing doctors seemed to be under the impression they were practicing law rather than medicine.We could use a few more Judges like Janis Jack on the bench!
By Andy, cross-posted from The Charlotte Capitalist (TM)
IRVINE, CA-- "The House's decision to keep a 25-year-old moratorium on oil and gas drilling off much of the nation's coasts is a disgrace," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
"At a time when oil and gas prices are hitting record highs, our politicians should be removing, not entrenching, obstacles to oil and gas production.
"Politicians say keeping the moratorium is justified because oil and gas drilling off the coast would ruin the view and threaten the beaches with oil spills. But there is no such thing as a "right" to an unobstructed view of the horizon.
Moreover, oil spills are rare events against which oil companies take reasonable and effective precautions. As long as oil companies are held financially responsible for any property damages their activities may cause, we should let them drill at will."
Jason Lewis at WBT reports that Senators Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole supported keeping the moratorium in place. If you are unhappy with gas prices, blame them. If you agree with the moratorium, then blame yourself -- and not oil companies or politicians.
By Andy, cross-posted from The Charlotte Capitalist (TM)
Steven Brockerman has part two of his posts on the life of Ken Iverson of Nucor:
Iverson's company, now renamed Nucor, opened its first mini-mill in Darlington, South Caroline in June, 1969. Nucor's mission--recall--was to produce good, inexpensive steel for use in making Vulcraft joists and steel grates. But because of Iverson's business plan--lean and mean at every level, non-union workers, performance bonuses and high tech cost efficient production methods--Nucor suddenly found its low-cost, quality steel in great demand. Ken decided that Nucor could--and would--meet that demand.
Part one here.
Cross-posted from Truth, Justice, and the American Way:
Wired news is carrying a story on how an out-of-control Consumer Product Safety Commission has made chemistry sets illegal in an orgy of terrorist paranoia. This is a sad development indeed, as many of America's great inventors got into technology experimenting with chemicals and home-made fireworks.
The chemophobia that's put a damper on home science has also invaded America's classrooms, where hands-on labs are being replaced by liability-proof teacher demonstrations with the explicit message Don't try this at home. A guide for teachers of grades 7 through 12 issued by the American Chemical Society in 2001 makes the prospect of an hour in the lab seem fraught with peril: "Every chemical, without exception, is hazardous. Did you know that oxygen is poisonous if inhaled at a concentration a bit greater than its natural concentration in the air?" More than half of the suggested experiments in a multimedia package for schools called "You Be the Chemist," created in 2004 by the Chemical Educational Foundation, are to be performed by the teacher alone, leaving students to blow up balloons (with safety goggles in place) or answer questions like "How many pretzels can you eat in a minute?"
The same political idiocy afflicts model rocketry.
by Andy, cross-posted from The Charlotte Capitalist(TM)
The Capitalist Daughter hooked me on the Harry Potter series. I just finished the fourth book "Goblet Of Fire". I originally thought I would not like the series because of all the spells, ghosts, and other mystical aspects.
Oh, contraire. The books are a lot of fun and they focus upon Harry Potter's heroic efforts against evil.
One of Harry's tools is his invisibility cloak. By placing the cloak over his body, Harry is able to move where he chooses without anyone seeing him. The cloak allows others to see completely through itself and Harry as if they weren't there. It is a lot of fun in the book and I can understand why kids would like the idea of such a cloak. Didn't you want the power to be invisible when you were a kid?
Now, along comes an article from The National Geographic which says that scientists are near to developing an invisibility cloak:
The theoretical breakthrough is made possible by novel substances called metamaterials.
Invented six years ago, the man-made materials are embedded with networks of exceptionally tiny metal wires and loops.
The structures refract, or bend, different types of electromagnetic radiation--such as radar, microwaves, or visible light--in ways natural substances can't.
"[Metamaterials] have the power to control light in an unprecedented way," said Sir John Pendry, a theoretical physicist at England's Imperial College London.
Sorry, I am not buying into this. In fact, their analogy is way off-base:
Schurig likens the effect to a rock in a stream. The rock symbolizes a metamaterial cloaking shell. The water plays the role of electromagnetic radiation flowing around the cloaking shell.
"Downstream you can't necessarily tell that there was an object distorting the flow," he said, adding that, even from the side, the disturbance is hard to discern.
When you perceive something visually, say a table, one of your senses (sight via the eyes) is picking up reflected light rays, interpreting them, and sending signals to your brain. If you take a step in another direction, the table will look slightly different to you because your eyes are picking up light which is reflected differently than the light you were seeing before you moved.
For an invisibility cloak to work, that is, an object would appear not to exist and you could see what is behind is undistorted, would require at least the following:
1. The cloak would have to be able to re-reflect the light which is coming from behind the cloaked object in an undistorted manner. It would have to be able to act almost like a computer program and manage incredibly small "pixels" so that they are arranged in a way that copies the objects behind the cloak.
A cloak is of course soft and if the person or object under the cloak moves, then the cloak would have to interpret all of those movements in order to keep the pixels properly arranged and then reflect them out instantaneously and without distortion.
2. The invisibility cloak would have to know not only where the perceiver and his eyes are, the cloak would have to also track the movements of the perceiver because again, as you you move, you see the reflected light from an object differently.
Thus, the overall process for the cloak would have to be to "read" reflected light from objects which would normally be blocked from the perceiver if the cloak did not exist. Track those "pixels" of light, take into consideration movements in the cloak, perceive the position of the perceiver's eyes and re-reflect the light out to the perceiver in the exactly "pixel" formation. In the end, the meta-materials of the cloak have to track 1. the object in the distance behind the cloak, 2. the cloak and the object it is covering, 3. the position of the perceiver and what his eyes are perceiving.
The water analogy is faulty because one drop of water looks like another. As a stream of water rushes by a perceiver, it makes no difference if one molecule is in place of another. But with reflected light if a "pixel" is out of place, then what the perceiver perceives is distorted.
The above, I believe, is an objective way of looking at this issue. There are several non-objective ways of looking at the cloak.
An idealist would simply say, "The cloak is a gift from God. God works in mysterious ways including using miracles. The cloak is a miracle." I can't go for that, no-oh-oh.
The materialist approach would be to say, "Consciousness is a myth anyway. So whether you see something or say it is invisible is irrelevant. We can't really know anything."
Now, there may be some value to these meta-materials. My guess this whole thing is a publicity campaign for these guys to get funding. But for a magazine such as National Geographic to go along with this cloak hokum is embarrassing.
by Nicholas Provenzo, cross-posted from The Rule of Reason
You know the oft-repeated conservative meme that the family is the foundation of society (implying that individuals are not)? Here's an example of how that mentality attacks the freedom of people to choose their own relationships. It seems the regulatory overlords of Black Jack, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri have legally defined a family, and if you don't fall into that definition, you are not allowed to chose who you live with.
The city council has rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together, and the mayor said those who fall into that category could soon face eviction.Has McCourt ever heard of the Declaration of Independence? Has he ever contemplated what it means when ti says that people have a right to their life, liberty and the freedom to pursue their own happiness? Where does he and the five petit dictators of the Black Jack, Missouri planning and zoning commission get off interfering with people and their property? How does the mere fact that an group of unwed people live together in the same house with their children violate the rights of others?
Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving were denied an occupancy permit after moving into a home in this St. Louis suburb because they have three children and are not married.
The town's planning and zoning commission proposed a change in the law, but the measure was rejected Tuesday by the city council in a 5-3 vote.
"I'm just shocked," Shelltrack said. "I really thought this would all be over, and we could go on with our lives."
The current ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by "blood, marriage or adoption." The defeated measure would have changed the definition of a family to include unmarried couples with two or more children.
Mayor Norman McCourt declined to be interviewed but said in a statement that those who do not meet the town's definition of family could soon face eviction. [AP]
By Gus Van Horn, cross-posted from the Gus Van Horn blog
Where Baggini and I differ is on this point: He agrees that life and humanity are absurd to the point of reveling in the absurdity, whereas I disagree.
We now know we're just a bunch of naked apes trying to get on as best we can, usually messing things up, but somehow finding life can be sweet all the same. All delusions of a significance that we do not really have need to be stripped away, and nothing can do this better that the great deflater: comedy.
The Simpsons does this brilliantly, especially when it comes to religion. It's not that the Simpsons is atheist propaganda; its main target is not belief in God or the supernatural, but the arrogance of particular organised religions that they, amazingly, know the will of the creator.
For example, in the episode Homer the Heretic, Homer gives up church and decides to follow God in his own way: by watching the TV, slobbing about and dancing in his underpants. [bold added]
Revealing simple truths about simplistic falsehoods is not just a minor philosophical task, like doing the washing up at Descartes' Diner while the real geniuses cook up the main courses.This will sound very reasonable to most readers because it assumes and alludes to the inductive nature of human knowledge, that we can neither just make baseless, arbitrary statements to the effect that we know the will of God (or that there is one), nor deduce the whole of an objective worldview from first principles. (These are the two most common fundamental philosophical errors out there, and many, including perhaps Baggini, seem convinced that we are forced to choose between these two false alternatives.)
For when it comes to the relevance of philosophy to real life, all the commitments we make on the big issues are determined by considerations which are ultimately quite straightforward.
Pointillist paintings, such as this by Seurat, use thousands of tiny dots
. A rich philosophical worldview is in this sense like a pointillist picture - one of those pieces of art in which a big image is made up of thousands of tiny dots (see Seurat image, right). Its building blocks are no more than simple dots, but the overall picture which builds up from this is much more complicated.
Yet we need reminding that the dots are just dots, and that errors are made more often not by those who fail to examine the dots carefully enough, but those who become fixated by the brilliance or defects of one or two and who fail to see how they fit into the big picture. [bold added]
Note that Baggini "richly" contradicts himself in the first two sentences of this quote. According to him, this should not make us doubt that his philosophical conclusions about reality, even though he himself regards philosophy as "non-realistic". And what does he regard as "non-realistic"? Abstraction, which is what man's conceptual faculty does. If you wanted a more explicit rejection of man's ability to reach the truth through reason, you just about couldn't ask for one.
Another reason why cartoons are the best form in which to do philosophy is that they are non-realistic in the same way that philosophy is.
Philosophy needs to be real in the sense that it has to make sense of the world as it is, not as we imagine or want it to be. But philosophy deals with issues on a general level. It is concerned with a whole series of grand abstract nouns: truth, justice, the good, identity, consciousness, mind, meaning and so on.
Cartoons abstract from real life in much the same way philosophers do. Homer is not realistic in the way a film or novel character is, but he is recognisable as a kind of American Everyman. His reality is the reality of an abstraction from real life that captures its essence, not as a real particular human who we see ourselves reflected in. [bold added]
The satirical cartoon world is essentially a philosophical one because to work it needs to reflect reality accurately by abstracting it, distilling it and then presenting it back to us, illuminating it more brightly than realist fiction can.This is, in fact why Ayn Rand presented much of her philosophy in the form of novels. Man's mind does not exist in a vacuum, nor does he live in one. To reach objective truth, even -- the adverb is for Bagginis's benefit -- in philosophy, requires a process of abstraction, integration, and the formation and testing of further conclusions against reality -- of induction. And so, as a presenter of a philosophy, Rand did not merely present arguments. She provided examples in support of these arguments.