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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

however...

...a few steps to the left a human horror is unfolding. If it weren't for the failing levees, New Orleans would have been completely fine, but they are in real trouble instead. The first thing, and I'm sure I'll get yelled at for this, is to stop trying to stop looting. Police should be on dinghies getting folks out of town instead of chasing down some dehydrated unfortunates carrying loaves of bread. The food is going to rot and the sneakers are going to be full of mold shortly. This is the last chance for that wealth to be used or it will be wasted. There is no returning it to its rightful owner. How the hell is making a looter drop a pile of clothes in muck going to help anyone anyway?

This disaster is a national one. We are going to be paying for this. All of us. Whether we are paying for "legitimate" food for these people or paying back those businesses later, we are still going to be paying for it. So let those directly suffering take care of their needs now and those indirectly suffering we'll deal with later.

sigh

A few months ago I was in a hurry to get across country but picked the Mississippi Gulf Coast as my one meandering side trip. From Gulfport east till 90 meets the 10. Beautiful and idyllic. If you can imagine the most pastoral images of the old South mansions and their stately oaks but place them in an even gentler coastal setting that is what was lost to Hurricane Katrina. It was my second trip down there. I once stayed in Bay St. Louis and visited Pass Christian. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that all those places are gone. It is painful.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cynicism Re: Iraq's Constitution

Someone actually called me a "word whore" over this article, so it must be juicy. (I pointed out that since I don't get paid for my LRC articles, I'm at best a word slut.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Forecast...

dark and stormy, with a high chance of drive-bys.

Go see Forty-Year-Old Virgin. It's hilarious.

They Don't Take...

The NY Times reports that a traveler to Cuzco, Peru, visited some Inca ruins, and found that he couldn't slip his credit card between the huge stones of the anncient walls. Obviously, the problem was that he was using his Amex card. Because the Incas did build great stonewalls, but they didn't take American Express.

(And just what was he trying to pay for by inserting his card in some ruins, anyway? Whatever it was, it must have run out after 500 years, or at least gone bad.)

Future Plans

After LSE, I'm thinking of spending some time as a multi-nucelate, acellular aggregate.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Professor Hanson Is Not Happy...

with my analysis of his views.

After contemplating his complaints, I must admit that my speculating on the possible famine deaths in Afghanistan was a foolish undertaking. The commentator who chooses to address empirical matters in which he has no expertise puts himself at the mercy of "experts" among whom he has no sound basis for believing one rather than another, and typically winds up believing whichever authorities lend support to the position he wishes to support anyway.

It is better to have no opinion about something than an unfounded one. So, yeah, I was guilty of that -- but Hanson predicted Afghanistan and Iraq would not be quagmires!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Monday, August 22, 2005

What Is "Capitalism"?

Chris Matthew Sciabarra the meaning of the word. A quote:

"Marx views the business cycle as an extension of intensifying class struggle. The state's ability to thrust an arbitrary amount of unbacked paper money into circulation creates an inflationary dynamic that favors debtors at the expense of creditors. The credit system becomes an instrument for the 'ever-growing control of industrialists and merchants over the money savings of all classes of society.'"

Violent Old Ladies

What makes a Texan happy.

Hat tip to Glen Whitman.

Isn't That Sweet?

Japanese-Americans who were torn from their homes and imprisoned for the crime of having the wrong genes are now receiving high school diplomas. That certainly makes up for everything, doesn't it?

The Bush Doctrine

"'The only way to defend to our citizens where we live is to go after the terrorists where they live,' Bush said in a speech to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars."

That's why, when the US was attacked by a bunch of terrorists from Saudi Arabia, we attacked... Iraq!

Hawaiian Independence?

Rich Lowry complains that the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, a bill currently under consideration by Congress, could be the first tug in "pulling America apart by the seams."

Sounds like a selling point to me, Rich! Where do I sign up?

By the way, President Grover Cleveland's excellent speech explaining why he wouldn't annnex the islands is worth reading.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Is the Most Vile Columnist in America...

Michelle Malkin?

Of Course They Were Lying!

This should be of special note to the reader who commented defending the London police in the shooting of Charles de Meneze: Every aspect of that defense turned out to be based on police lies. No turnstile jumping, no heavy coat, no running from the police.

The Secrets of Divination

I was discussing the Roman practice of predicting the future by cutting open a chicken and examining its innards the other day, when I suddenly got a picture of how it all worked.

CUSTOMER: Well, what do you see?
FORTUNE TELLER (staring into steaming pile of viscera leaking across the ground): I'm sorry, but your future looks like a bloody mess.

(The Bush administration shhould have hired one of these guys before going into Iraq.)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The State

"For every state must treat free men as cogs in a machine . And this is precisely what should not happen ; hence the state must perish"

-- Hegel and Schelling

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Live Aid...

The famous concert contributed to the death of 100,000 Ethiopeans.

And a Kenyan economist pleads for the West to stop the deadly aid game. "The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape."

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yep, More Falsificationism

Reading Brand Blanchard's Reason and Analysis, I've realized that the core problem with Popper's philosophy of science is that it is merely the negative image of positivism. Positivism held that scientific statements had to be verifiable. Popper saw that, per positivist strictures, that would never occur. He suggested that instead they need only be falsifiable. But falsification is only the flip side of verification -- if I falsify a, I verify ~a. And, per Popper, verification is impossible! I can never verify the result R that supposedly falsifies theory T. Only whim can lead me to decide that I should believe R and cease believing T.

Falsificationists typically answer, "Well, you have no reason to doubt R." That won't work, because:
1) Per Popper, I certainly do have such a reason: There is 0 probability that any of my current theories are true. (Given an infinity of possible theories, what are the odds I've hit on the correct one?)
2) I have no reason to doubt T except R, so the choice to stick with one is arbitrary.
3) Repeated demonstrations of R are irrelevant on Popper's own terms -- that would imply a degree of verification!

OK, I promise to stop obsessing about Popper!

Today's Headlines

"Iran to Remove Seals from Nuclear Sites"

See, those folks aren't so bad -- they even want to save marine mammals!

PS -- I just read that the US is upset because Iran plans to "break" the seals. Now, that does sound unpleasant.

Jerry Garcia - 10 years ago...

Well, after ten years the search continues for the "Band" that could be interesting enough to be even close to Jerry Garcia and the bands he played with. During the first couple of years after Jerry's death, a buddy of mine would call me to see if a found a "Band". No I'd reply, and ask... and you? ... No he'd reply. Neil Young I suggested once. Would you go on tour for a week or more? No, I guess that's not it. The remaining members of the Grateful Dead with assorted folks to handle some of the lead guitar, Jerry stuff. Not quite there. The subtleties of Jerry weaving his sound about any melody, leading to fascinating ways to work the emotions... So, for those that dig that type of sound... Where's the "Band"?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Golden Meanies

I received unsolicited mail the other day containing this article. In it, the author mis-uses Aristotle, contending his idea of virtue as the mean between extremes "refutes" anarcho-capitalism, as it represents a vicious "extreme" and a constitutional republic a virtuous mean. I'm no expert on Aristotle, but I know this is rubbish. One cannnot simply take any spectrum and declare that Aristotelian ethics shows the mid-point is the place to be. The mean between going on a murderous rampage and committing no murders is to murder a moderate amount of people. The mean between telling the truth all the time and lying constantly is to lie half the time. Anarcho-capitalist contend that the State is an evil, and so the virtuous course is to eliminate it, not go halfway towards the total State. I'm sure Aristotle discussed the fallacy being committed here -- perhaps our friend Roderick Long can provide more details?

The author, Hultberg, is also wrong that anarcho-capitalists are preventing republicans like him from being taken seriously in academia -- my experience is that anarchism is taken far more seriously than views like his.

PS -- Roderick has spoken.

Getting a Mail Box

We have now made three attempts to get a post box here in Milford -- we can't receive mail at our house's mailbox, because the postman doesn't deliver to our side of the street -- and each has failed due to insufficient documentation. This is a private mail drop center, but the requirements are placed on tghem by the Patriot Act, etc.

If Americans can receive mail anywhere they want, the terrorists have already won!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sleep

I snooze on a mattress
Stuffed with the dried husks of cicadas
Their lifeless shells crunching beneath me
As I toss restlessly on the waves
Of Gregor's troubled dreams

Friday, August 05, 2005

Meanwhile, in Nearby Lumberland, NY...

town officials have declared the procedure manual for the four local constables to be top secret. That's right, if the residents of Lumberland can know the rules the constables they are paying are following, then the terrorists have already won.

But What About This Study?

A recent headline in my local paper here in Milford, PA read: "Report Shows Studies Are Often Flawed."

In a few years, I expect we'll see sommething like, "Meta-meta-meta-meta-level study concludes that meta-meta-meta-level studies no better than meta-meta-level studies."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

On Lew Rockwell

Over on LewRockwell.com, my friend Mike Cust and I pen an article about pot activist Marc Emery. He's facing extradition into the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds on the internet to Americans. It's likely, should he be deprorted, that he will get life in prison.

The piece is entitled "Block the extradition of a hero for liberty." Here is an excerpt:

It is because of his long career of activism that the DEA is targeting him. Unlike other seed merchants who quietly conduct their affairs, Emery puts the brunt of his efforts into the movement to end the prohibition of marijuana and to legitimate the culture that has emerged surrounding the plant.

Since the prohibition of drugs is a multi-billion dollar affair, we shouldn't be surprised. Drug cops, prosecutors, judges, politicians, prison construction contractors, companies that use cheap prison labour, and military firms that sell weapons and surveillance equipment to drug law enforcement are all significantly enriched by the continuation of the war on drugs.

Further, those participating in the drug war share a common assumption about members of the marijuana culture. They all believe that marijuana people are second-class citizens who deserve to be vilified. Their views are best expressed in U.S. Drug Czar John Walter's statement that Vancouver's marijuana scene is "moral pollution."

In the public policy sphere, the assumptions of the drug warriors are the rule. With very few exceptions, all politicians operate on the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with using and growing marijuana.

But such views are in direct contradiction with society's values. Consider Cheech and Chong movies, the Simpsons, South Park, late-night talk shows, and the stories most of us have about our own experiences with marijuana. These all involve the implicit understanding that smoking marijuana is innocent, largely harmless, and fun.

We're right to think that.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005