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  1. Originally from The Charlotte Capitalist ™, Amazing from The CNW Group: The public education system is responsible and held accountable for employing certified teachers, administering the provincial curriculum and operating with fiscal integrity. The private system is accountable to no one. Let's repeat that for emphasis.. The private system is accountable to no one. And that is what the public education establishment considers parents ... ...
  2. Originally from Gus Van Horn, Houston's police chief, who was apparently the last man in town to notice that importing busloads of thugs from New Orleans might cause an increase in the crime rate, has decided to show his detractors once and for all that he is no one-trick pony. Chief Hurtt recently showed that his grasp of the concept of property rights is no less slippery than his grasp of causality (or at least of his duty to inform the public that a certain group of people may be committing lots of crime). The story goes on to cite concerns that the cameras would be used for unreasonable searches (a valid and important point) and their cost (a nonessential), but completely misses a very important additional point: Forcing people to install such surveillance cameras on their own property would violate their property rights. Fortunately, Mayor Bill White, though not likely great champion of property rights in this context, does at least seem a little more deliberate than the Chief: "[White] called the chief's proposal a 'brainstorm' rather than a decision." On the privacy/unreasonable search issues: I do not by any stretch hold myself out as an expert on the "right to privacy", if there really is such a thing. (And would welcome any reader suggestions for a good, short introduction to the topic intended for laymen. I only joke about being a trial lawyer, after all.) Nevertheless, I do find myself highly suspicious of government efforts to place ordinary citizens under surveillance when there is no suspicion of criminal activity because of the obvious potential for abuse. This concern about government-run surveillance equipment does not mean that surveillance cameras in apartment complexes are in and of themselves a bad thing-- so long as they are monitored by private parties and those on the premises know in advance that they are being monitored. This would reduce the potential for abuse by (1) giving people the chance to avoid the premises entirely (The reach of a prying or abusive landowner ends at his property line. This is yet another reason the government, for which no such restrictions would apply, should not be in the business of watching private citizens.) and (2) having the government available to protect against the unscrupulous use of such equipment. Such equipment could also aid law enforcement in that when there is reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, some of the necessary surveillance apparatus might already be in place, and could be manned or monitored by law enforcement on a strictly ad hoc basis. I presume that this would require a warrant. In any event, I have to say that my opinion of my city's police chief drops like a rock every time I hear him open his mouth. -- CAV Notes: (1) My thanks to the Resident Egoist for pointing out this article. (2) Related: Paul Hsieh of Noodle Food discusses privacy rights and private surveillance a bit in this post on a privately-filmed incident on a subway that was subsequently circulated on the Internet. I found this bit particularly helpful.
  3. Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason, This snip by George H. Nash in today's Wall Street Journal describes the "crunchy-cons," a new aspect to the conservative movement: Ready to punch in the wall? It gets better: What a hero, sacrificing himself to old-fashioned transcendent ideals and how brave the stand to "smash" the free market. I guess I should be all happy, because underneath these monstrous and wicked ideas stands the vibrant American sense of life. Yet as the chestnut goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Will this new subset of the conservatives once and for all kill the notion that conservatives have anything to do with capitalism? I sure as hell hope so, because I for one get sick and tired of being even remotely lumped in with the likes of Mr. Rod Dreher.
  4. By David Holcberg: If fear of violence against their staff is the reason newspapers did not publish the Muhammad cartoons, they should say so. Admitting such fear would be a great service to their readers; it would remind them of the Islamist threat under which we live, including the dangers any one of us faces in criticizing or ridiculing Islam. But if the decision not to publish the Danish cartoons was based on a consideration for the "religious sensibilities" of Muslims, then the decision is disgraceful. All American and Western newspapers should show their support for the Danish cartoonists now hiding from Islamists threatening their lives. We who value freedom must stand together and actively defend our rights to life and liberty against those who seek to subjugate us to Islam and its taboos. A public show of support for the Danish newspaper and for our freedom of speech is not only still possible, it is necessary. We the readers should expect nothing less from our newspapers. David Holcberg Ayn Rand Institute http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000671.html
  5. Two issues illustrate a huge problem faced by anyone concerned with the cartoon riots: How does one stem the tide of multiculturalism, which threatens us with dhimmitude as people fail to stand up for their freedom of speech by standing with the cartoonists? Bear with me for a moment as I bring up something apparently unrelated: this bit of good news on the reactions of state legislatures to the Supreme Court's universally-reviled Kelo decision. In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government's power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes. This is truly amazing at first glance. One would think that Democrats, seeing projects like the one in New London, Connecticut, that started this mess as a means of raising property values and thus tax receipts, would not be so swift to jump on this bandwagon. Plenty of Republicans, too. Of course, politicians are timid creatures who stick their fingers in the wind constantly, so all but the most principled will abandon their professed beliefs at the first sign of significant public opposition. So where did all this opposition come from? Almost everybody, it seems. I recall stopping by a few lefty blogs after Kelo and even the ones who have never met a tax cut they didn't hate were suddenly singing hymns on the sanctity of the home. In America, it seems that virtually everyone understands on a fundamental level the importance of making sure that private citizens can't simply be evicted from their own homes. I am sure that everyone came up a huge list of things they love about their homes and would be damned before letting the government help someone take them away. Now consider the cartoon riots. Many people -- but mostly those of us who frequently exercise our freedom of speech -- are properly outraged over our government's response to this blatant assault on our freedom of speech. However, most people seem almost oblivious to the problem even beyond what could be chalked up to the miserable failure of our media to report what's going on. Amit Ghate provides a very illuminating quote from a story in the Daily Telegraph about the trend towards dhimmitude in Britain: Perhaps the explanation is just that they do not take it seriously. "I fear that is exactly the problem," says Dr Sookhdeo. "The trouble is that Tony Blair and other ministers see Islam through the prism of their own secular outlook. They simply do not realise how seriously Muslims take their religion. Islamic clerics regard themselves as locked in mortal combat with secularism. "For example, one of the fundamental notions of a secular society is the moral importance of freedom, of individual choice. But in Islam, choice is not allowable: there cannot be free choice about whether to choose or reject any of the fundamental aspects of the religion, [my bold] because they are all divinely ordained. God has laid down the law, and man must obey. And I would say that many Britons also do not appreciate the threat posed by the Islamists, or their representatives would be acting to protect freedom of speech in an anti-Kelo-esque "rare display of unanimity". I think that most people in America and perhaps other parts of the West would begin to awaken to this threat if they realized what it meant to them on a personal level. (And bloggers are ahead on that score because we are more directly affected by what has transpired so far.) Who would take, sitting down, being told to shut up every other word? Who would accept for himself the kind of self-imposed censorship that has kept Mo off television and the front pages of virtually every American paper if they understood it to mean, "Shut your piehole, infidel?" If they realized that that they were next? But whereas most people appreciate the fact that the government, if it says it wants to take away your house, will take away your house, I don't think most people either take the Islamists seriously enough or appreciate on a personal level what not showing the cartoons for fear of offending Moslems really means. The Islamists want to be able to tell us what to do and what not to do. They mean it. Too bad the people they are speaking to don't believe them to begin with or understand the scope of the orders they are being given. The biggest problem we face in the fight for freedom of speech is, I think, not so much the need to convince people of the value of free speech, but the difficulty in helping them appreciate that it is just as much under threat now as their homes were after Kelo. With Kelo, people knew that the government meant business, and they knew that that business meant they'd be out on the streets. How do we get people to appreciate that Moslems really believe that sharia is God's will? And how do we help them realize that, with the cartoons being mysteriously absent from their newspapers, that they have already been served with an eviction notice? This difficulty is also the biggest opportunity: If people began to fully appreciate this threat, I have a feeling our politicians might suddenly become a lot more willing to stop snivelling about offended Moslems and start fighting to protect the right to freedom of speech possessed by their angry and impatient constituents. I am not sure how to do this, but someone needs to figure this out. Fast. -- CAV http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000670.html
  6. It seems UW has now created a special Gregory "Pappy" Boyington Memorial Scholarship Fund. This from the university fundraising website: [This] scholarship fund honor World War II Fighter Pilot Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner and UW alumnus. Boyington was a 1934 UW aeronautics & astronautics engineering graduate. This fund provides scholarships to undergraduate students who are either a U.S Marine Corps veteran or are the child of a U.S Marine Corps veteran.I have to hand it to the university. They have turned the controversy around into something that will bring them money. Still, the good news it that the funds will go to Marine veterans and their children, and not the kind of goofballs and mooks that sparked the outrage in the first place. http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000669.html
  7. Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason, Since its inception, the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism has filed several amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs with American courts, including briefs on the Microsoft antitrust case, the Nike commercial speech case, the University of Michigan affirmative action cases and a case involving the application of the antitrust laws to the US Postal Service. The reason that the Center elected to file the briefs is academic: the decisions of the US Supreme Court and lower courts affect the freedom and prosperity of every American. Additionally, as the most intellectual branch of our government, the courts are the realm where Objectivists are particularly well-suited toward having a positive impact. Building upon CAC's groundbreaking legal advocacy, I propose a new effort to submit amicus curiae briefs on every key case before the Supreme Court that impacts the right of Americans to live for their own sake and to profit from their own work. I solicit the financial support of Objectivists who believe in fighting for their freedom?and who want to help to find and empower new Objectivists in the process. My proposal and my call for financial support will be met with controversy by some. It will be argued that individual legal arguments alone cannot change the direction in which our nation is headed. Those who demand quick results often find easy disappointment. Yet as a stream of principled answers to important questions of our day, coupled with law-review essays, newspaper op-eds, and other elements of a well-constructed campaign of Objectivist intellectual activism, CAC's legal advocacy will have a significant impact?if one is willing to think and fight for the long-term. The principle governing my optimism is straightforward: to be heard by others, one must speak to their interests. To attract new adherents to our philosophy, I believe that one must constantly demonstrate that Objectivism provides practical answers to the problems that we face as a people and that Objectivism's proponents consistently act from a reasoned base. While spreading knowledge of Ayn Rand?s written works is the proper foundation of any campaign to advance Objectivism, it is not the only means of advancing Objectivism. Ayn Rand provided powerful analyses of the trials of her day?it is for us to analyze and answer the trials of ours. Ayn Rand?s genius created a tool that will allow man to reach summits that today we can only imagine. Will you join me and help to expand her legacy? Will you help to support the Center and be a part of its new effort to expand the fight for reason, egoism and individual rights in our most important institutions?
  8. Do you like the random quotes you see on the right? Would you like to add a random quote generator to your site? You can do so in a number of ways: As a JavaScript include (easiest method): Paste the following text into your html: <script language="Javascript" src=" http://www.rationalmind.net/random.php?format=js;'> http://www.rationalmind.net/random.php?format=js;"> </script> As XML: Use this URL: http://www.rationalmind.net/random.php?format=xml As PHP code: <?php include(" http://www.rationalmind.net/random.php"); ?> As text (when screen scraping): http://www.rationalmind.net/random.php If you want to submit your own quotes, you can browse the full list and add new quotes. http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000667.html
  9. Objectivism Online now has a new live chat page at www.objectivismonline.net/chat/ Try it out and add a plug to your website: <iframe src="http://ObjectivismOnline.com/chat/whois.php"'>http://ObjectivismOnline.com/chat/whois.php" height="72" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto" width="220"></iframe> http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000666.html
  10. Originally from Gus Van Horn, Heh. This will be my second, uncharacteristically short post in one day. The apocalypse is at hand. Via Passing Thoughts, I have learned that an excerpt of Tara Smith's upcoming scholarly book, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist, is available on line. He recommends the PDF version since it has the footnotes. Here's an excerpt of the excerpt: Mike says, "I'm looking forward to reading the entire book, but $80!?" I say, "Gulp!"
  11. Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason, Below is the Marine veterans' answer the University of Washington administration's weasel-like response to the Boyington open letter.
  12. Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason, I received the following form letter reply from the University of Washington for the Marine veteran?s letter that was sent out this morning: This is what one calls spin. ?Oh we didn?t to this, we did that?Oh, we didn?t mean this, we meant that.? This story didn't just miracle itself into existence. What did happen was someone read the posted minuets of the student senate meeting that nixed the monument proposal with all its incendiary quotes, and that was enough to ignite the firestorm. It's their own minuets?how can the university accuse the public of misconstruing the very words the students themselves used to memorialize their senate meeting? My spin detector is signaling red hot here. Time to get thinking about the next steps . . .
  13. Mike?s Eyes explores government subsidized science. He makes some epistemological points on the conflict of reason and force. Here?s an interesting question. Why is it that government scientists, in order to keep their job, end up compromising the truth or doing bad science more than scientists working for the private sector? The purpose of private industry is to make a profit. Good science helps that end. If bad science leads to a faulty product, then the employer does not make a profit. The bad scientist loses his job. The purpose of government is power. If good science shows, say, that regulating industry has nothing to do with global warming, then the budget of the EPA and various agendas are threatened. Pressure is brought on the scientists to find politically acceptable results. The government scientists, with mortgages to pay and children to put through college, can pursue the truth with relentless integrity and risk losing their job? or evade a few facts and fudge a few numbers and make the holders of power happy. The only proper function of government is to protect individual rights. The state is unjustified in taking money from individuals in order to fund science, except science that has something to do with defense. If the purpose of state science is not to protect individual rights, what is it? In long run, its purpose becomes the purpose of all big government: to perpetuate itself. Sometimes government science does a good job, as in the Apollo program of the 1960?s. But look at NASA since then. Would you want to fly in a spaceship that has to meet the politicized standards of some environmentalist bureaucrat at the EPA? Whose crew was chosen in part because Congresswoman Thickhead has a large contingent of Vietnamese lesbians in her district and she insisted that a Vietnamese lesbian be found to pilot the next flight? I would not. http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000660.html
  14. An ominous silence has followed the initial uproar over the Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. The silence is deafening, emanating from two quarters that properly should be the most concerned: the news media and the government. They are either oblivious or indifferent to the crucial issue of the inviolability of the First Amendment. Instead, they are obsessed with issues far removed from the question of whether or not anyone has the right to mock an idea or an icon or simply express thoughtful criticism of it. New Orleans and the Katrina victims, Vice President Cheney's hunting accident, videos of state policemen hit by passing cars while writing speeding tickets, obese children, and truth in multi-grain cereal labels, comprise just a fraction of the myopic fare offered on primetime news. So many deserving scrub pines obscure the redwoods in the distance. The continuing destructive and deadly riots against the cartoons in Pakistan, Afghanistan and other locales now only merit incidental reportage, if any at all. Our politicians as well have tiptoed around the cartoon subject with a pusillanimity hard to credit them. They are otherwise so voluble about everything else, such as the necessity of smoking bans, gun control, reducing high cholesterol, punishing oil companies for their profits, and simpler Medicare prescription drug guidelines. One should not blame semi-clueless, photogenic news anchors too much; they are just highly paid teleprompter readers posing as reporters cum entertainers. They read whatever their highly paid, politically correct house news writers churn out on orders from their editors. Who are they to initiate a probe into the speech restrictions of the Campaign Finance Law? One can, however, charge a heavier responsibility to our politicians. Every one of them is sworn to uphold the Constitution, but not one has dared say much about the Danish cartoonists and how their predicament and jeopardy might just as easily be imported to the U.S. and experienced by American cartoonists. A veritable "clash of civilizations" is underway. Not one governor, senator, or representative has shown the least inclination to enter the fray on behalf of his electorate or constituents, or even demonstrated awareness of the clash. One might be tempted to think they are exercising discretion as the better part of valor; after all, they could very well be targeted for Islamic violence or at least a noisy demonstration by Muslims if they publicly took the side of free speech and never minded anyone's offended feelings. But that temptation would be brief, given the venal and pragmatic character of most politicians. Their philosophy of serving and protecting productive Americans is to manage and regulate their lives for their own good, in exchange for handsome salaries, generous medical benefits, bountiful retirement plans, and innumerable perquisites. All paid for by fettered and yoked tax cows. The realm of ideas and rights seems too frightening for most politicians to venture into. They fear it for one of two reasons: they might discover principles which they might otherwise feel compelled to champion, but would not want to for various reasons ranging from party loyalty to careerist inconvenience; or because they might anticipate the shame of ignorance and a sense of inferiority that can only be assuaged by a pragmatic disdain projecting a sense of superiority. As one Oxford don, a professor of logic, remarked: "Philosophy teaches you how to detect bad arguments, so it is no surprise when politicians are not keen for it to be studied." Nor keen to study it, either. Silence is golden, goes the proverb. Golden, perhaps, for a spell of contemplation and cogitation. Silence can be leaden, too, signaling a baleful ignorance or a pernicious turpitude when the times demand the knowledge, courage and character of our Founders. Listen carefully; you might in time hear the dull thud of the First Amendment as it falls behind a diverting forest of the pedestrian and mundane, unheralded by our pseudo-Solons and unnoticed by the news media. http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000661.html
  15. Originally from Gus Van Horn, Way back in May, I learned about a very brave man, Li Xinde, a blogger in China, through this article, "Death by a Thousand Blogs", which is very good and still available. From that article, it might be worth recalling what Li has to do to blog. Think about that the next time you get cranky about the inconvenience of blogging, as I did a little today after a really crazy week both on and off the job. Puts things into perspective just a wee bit. At any rate, I'm glad to hear that Mr. Li still kicking despite the best efforts of the three stooges, Yahoo, and the Chinese authorities. Interestingly, as Cox and Forkum report, censorship is being challeneged from within China. (If the government loosens up, it would probably be for no nobler reason than the fact that they simply aren't succeeding and they're hoping to "liberalize" so they can take credit.) I've blogged about the gargantuan task of clamping the lid down on Chinese censorship here and here, as well as on civil unrest. Cox and Forkum quote the New York Times. Blogger Li Xinde, however, says, in a very interesting article, "too late!" Here's some more on how he blogs and how effective he has been. And oh yeah. He makes a living at this and has something Larry, Sergey, and Bill (and quite a few others) need to hear. Li's efforts are heroic and bode ill for the Chi-Comm's efforts to maintain authoritarian rule, but do they portend a revolution or merely a revolt? On loading Li's site, I noticed that a wallpaper of Communist symbols appeared in my browser while I waited for the site to load. Also, Li mentions Mao at one point during the article and at least has been a Communist. It would be interesting to know whether Li now considers himself a Communist, and whether many like him who are unhappy with the government merely think it is no longer properly implementing Communism. A quick search unearthed this article, from a site produced in Hong Kong, but hosted in the U.S., which holds a more pessimistic view of the impact people like Li can have, and has this to say about him. Although being a Communist in China may be about as significant as being a member of a union in America, I have heard often about Chinese citizens who do not see Communism as a big problem. (Indeed, many in the U.S. spy for China.) As heroic as Li's efforts are, then, any optimism for China has to be tempered by the realization that even some of its most heroic dissidents may not fully grasp the connection between Communism and their present state of serfdom. A revolution that is not animated by ideas more conducive to freedom than Communism may weaken China militarily and might improve the lot of her people in the short term. But in the long term, the Chinese people will not become free if they replace their fascist state with a more truly Communist one.
  16. Originally from The Charlotte Capitalist ™, In a post yesterday concerning the firing of the editor of the Daily Illini because he published cartoons of Mohammed I said: Let us not forget that the left controls college campuses and the left considers the Islamists to be their brothers-in-arms. Well, that got some folks on the left all wound up! Wonkette got in the mix, but added nothing to the conversation. Matt Willis added this: The ultimate boogeyman: The Left! This is pretty much the intellectual level of the left these days. One, they either don't acknowledge or seem to understand that they exist or that they hold a certain set of ideas. What is odd about the response from all three is that they did not focus at all upon much my assertion about their influence on college campuses or their protection of Islamofascists. Not one word about that from anyone of them. They all focused on the fact that I (and others) had even identified a philosophical tendency called "the left". Saying "left" to them was like saying "poop" to a four year old (or to Peter on "Family Guy"). "Ha, ha. He said left." Two, the response is always venomous -- full of name-calling, but no ideas. In fact, the intellectuals over there got so excited, they figured out this philosophical axiom: PS Andy, You suck and North Carolina hates you. Metaphysics at its best, non? Are there any true idea people on the left anymore? I would like to hear of them. The idea of "ideas" seem foreign to them. The guys over at Norbiz asked: I mean, imagine if you replaced "The Left" with ... "an international cabal of Jewish bankers." Well, imagine all day long if you like. But again, "the left" is allegedly based upon a system of thought. That is, uhhh, different from a race. Serious question, does the left see itself any longer as a set of ideas or a system of thought? Do we have a reverse Cartesian problem here in the minds of the left? "I don't think, therefore I don't exist?" Now, that may seem silly, but if you don't consider ideas important or don't recognize that you hold a certain set of ideas, why would you then associate yourself with that set of ideas. Well, you wouldn't. Therefore, the notion of the left would be a boogeyman to you. Look at Tommy Tomlinson at The Charlotte Observer today who I am sure does not associate himself with being leftist. He attempts to lump school board members into categories. Now this is good, because it does show some level of conceptual thinking. But look at how he does it. But here's the thing. Cramer, Griffin and Tate are the sane ones. They're the radical middle. They're the ones most likely to see all sides of an issue and vote with common sense. They're outnumbered. To the right are Larry Gauvreau, Ken Gjertsen and Kaye McGarry. Gjertsen and McGarry have flashes of sanity but mostly they follow Gauvreau, who seems to believe that there shouldn't be a school board, and the schools ought to be run like a private business, such as Enron. To the left are Vilma Leake and George Dunlap, who fight for an important issue (racial equity) but turn off just about everyone they deal with, including most folks who agree with them. In the middle is Coach Joe White, who might be the nicest man in town, but based on his chairmanship of this board, I wouldn't let him run a church raffle. What is the nature of his grouping? It is certainly not ideas. The "middle" is defined as seeing all sides of an issue and voting with common sense. But he provides no educational principles or ideas to define what is common sense. Racism is apparently important to Tommy and Vilma Leake and George Dunlap, but is education an issue in their grouping? No, just that they "turn off" people. Joe White is somehow associated with being "nice". Funny that "nice" doesn't come to mind when associated with someone who thinks he knows better what to do with kids than their parents. Now look what happens when someone actually has an...idea. Based upon my conversations with Larry Gavreau in the past, I don't think he is for eliminating public education (Unfortunately. For the record, Larry and I differ on many, many things). He has said he is for tax credits and vouchers in some sort of mix with public schools. But what is important is Tommy's reaction to an idea. Tommy immediately associates the notion of a private or capitalist school system with Enron. Now Tommy has to be either an out-and-out propagandist or he is expressing his world-view that any privately run endeavor must be a fraudulent failure. That may be due to the fact he has spent years in the Knight-Ridder culture of falsified circulation numbers and subsequent desire of major stockholders to unload papers such as The Charlotte Observer. But either way, it reflects the completely concrete bound, emotionalist, anti-idea approach of the left and...the name-calling: "Ha, ha. Look what Larry Gavreau said. He said voucher. Gavreau is an Enron guy". The sad thing is that the left, that is a system of thought, does exist. It still has power. But the good news is that it really has nothing to say. There is an intellectual vacuum out there. And there is the opportunity to fill it with ideas. Rational ideas.
  17. Originally from The Charlotte Capitalist ™, [Welcome Norbizness readers! Please show your liberal support of freedom of the press! Write to the University of Illinois and condemn them for squashing dissent at a student newspaper!] The other day I posted on The Undercurrent's letter to the staff of the Daily Illini for having the courage to print the Mohammed cartoons. Let us not forget that the left controls college campuses and the left considers the Islamists to be their brothers-in-arms. I guess this was to be expected: Illinois Student Newspaper Editors Suspended for Running the Danish Cartoons [via The Volokh Conspiracy via Instapundit] Well as Andrew Sullivan said: You can see Saddam Hussein in his underwear and members of the royal family in compromising positions. You can see Andres Serrano’s famously blasphemous photograph of a crucifix in urine, called Piss Christ. But a political cartoon that deals with Islam? Not our job, guv. Move right along. Nothing to see here. It would be interesting to perform a review of the Daily Illini over, say, the last six years and see if this is the greatest "sin" of its editors. I doubt it. UPDATE: This story is gaining steam. The Chicago Tribune throws the BS flag on Mary Cory, the publisher of the DI. The problem with Mary Cory's letter--and a big reason I ripped her for humbug yesterday -- is that she simultaneously asserts "the right of the editor in chief to have full editorial control of the paper" while denying that right. Further, she says that "the public will erroneously think the editors were suspended for running the cartoons" when, in fact, we all know that's exactly why they were suspended. I agree. Ms. Cory sounds like a real PC-type. Her editor may have been guilty of some questionable practices, but in the end, Cory's story doesn't hold water. In addition, I've got some interesting visitors to this post...a major network and the office of the president of a major university. Not terribly unusual, but oddly focused upon one post in a short time frame. UPDATED (Feb 17th)
  18. Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason, Below is the text of an open letter I am composing in regards to the recent decision by the University of Washington's student government to quash a proposal to erect a small monument to Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a WWII Marine Corps legend. My goal is to get marine veterans to sign the letter which I will submit to the university president, student government president and campus newspaper. [Hat tip: Grant Jones at the Dougout]
  19. Originally posted by Martin Lindeskog from EGO, From the article, Saudi lovers suffer blues over red roses: Valentine's day is a bonanza for florists around the world. But selling red roses is complicated in Saudi Arabia, where religious authorities tell young people not to imitate western culture, especially when the celebration is related to a Christian saint. (FT.com, 02/13/06.) I wonder if the members of the American Family Association are aware that Valentine's Day has its roots from celebrating the god of fertility... Here is a quote by Dwayne Bell: It seems it's much more important to Christian totalitarians to not fall behind the Islamic totalitarian tyrannies in the world. Not only are the AFA and its supporters completely unconcerned what living under a religious dictatorship would be like for our children and grandchildren, it would appear that this is their ultimate goal. In light of the fact that internationally right now the U.S. is siding with Islamic thugs over the Dutch free speech activists, do we have long to wait for similar violence domesticly from totalitarian Christians? ( BodyInMind.com, 02/11/06.) Recommended reading: My post, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY
  20. Originally from Gus Van Horn, Bleh! The current round of experiments is wreaking total havoc with my schedule. If I'm lucky, I'll finish early enough to spend some time with my wife in the late evening on Valentine's Day. Just a quick post this evening during some dead time before some measurements.... *** Reader Adrian Hester pointed out to me a very good article that obliterates the environmentalist myth that the American Indian had no effect on wildlife populations. When explorers and pioneers visited California in the 1700s and early 1800s, they were astonished by the abundance of birds, elk, deer, marine mammals, and other wildlife they encountered. Since then, people assumed such faunal wealth represented California's natural condition -? a product of Native Americans' living in harmony with the wildlife and the land and used it as the baseline for measuring modern environmental damage. That assumption now is collapsing because University of Utah archaeologist Jack M. Broughton spent seven years -- from 1997 to 2004 -- painstakingly picking through 5,736 bird bones found in an ancient Native American [ sic ] garbage dump on the shores of San Francisco Bay. He determined the species of every bone, or, when that wasn't possible, at least the family, and used the bones to reconstruct a portrait of human bird-hunting behavior spanning 1,900 years. Broughton concluded that California wasn't always a lush Eden before settlers arrived. Instead, from 2,600 to at least 700 years ago, native people hunted some species to local extinction, and wildlife returned to "fabulous abundances" only after European diseases decimated Indian populations starting in the 1500s. Broughton's study of bird bones, published in Ornithological Monographs, mirrors earlier research in which he found that fish such as sturgeon, mammals such as elk, and other wildlife also sustained significant population declines at the hands of ancient Indian hunters. Oh. So Western civilization is not the Great Satan of the religion of Gaia after all. Broughton believes the Bay Area harbored a prehistoric native population of 50,000 to 150,000 before Europeans arrived in the 1500s. He believes that birds and other wildlife rebounded only after early European explorers came into contact with natives, infecting them with fatal diseases such as smallpox, malaria, and influenza and killing off as much as 90 percent of the Indian population. Of course, that means that mankind, including the Indians, as a whole is evil, if your standard is some sort of utopian abundance of wildlife. Never mind that in nature, some kind of predator eventually evolves or moves in to take advantage of such abundance. Ask what is so special about man as a predator and you'll be on to what it is that the environmentalists are really crusading against. That last paragraph also brings to mind a quote from research biologist David M. Graber I learned about a few years back in George Reisman's masterful essay, "The Toxicity of Environmentalism". It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along. Even the Indians weren't, by these lights, "part of nature". Since man is the rational animal and the environmentalists damn him for using his mind to survive, the only way for man to "rejoin nature" is to die. This is the logical end of the notion that the faculty of reason is somehow "unnatural". Read the article on bird bones and Reisman's essay both. Each one is very worthwhile.
  21. Originally from Myrhaf, Dean Barnett of Soxblog sum up my thinking on this Daily Kos reaction to the Cheney shooting story: A prominent Daily Kos diary suggests that it?s the biggest scandal yet to emerge from the Bush White House because of its metaphorical value. Seriously. They think this story will have the traction that all their other pathetic attempts to cripple the presidency have lacked because of its strength as a metaphor. Could you make this stuff up? Meanwhile, Drudge reports that Democrat opposition research plans to attack Newt Gingrich for being fat. As always, the Democrats seem rather desperate to smear Republicans. When will these sad sacks learn that their number one priority should be thinking up reasons Americans should vote for them? They can tear down the other side all they want, but what do they offer as an alternative? Just saying, ?We?re not Republicans? is not good enough.
  22. Originally from Myrhaf, Ayn Rand: My Fiction-Writing Teacher by Erika Holzer has a lot of good tips for writers. Holzer was fortunate to have Ayn Rand give her private lessons in fiction writing in the 1960?s. The book has a lot of anecdotes of conversations the author had with Ayn Rand. The portrait of Ayn Rand in this book is different from the smears of her enemies. Murray Rothbard, the Brandens and even William F. Buckley, Jr. in a recent novel depict Rand as a bizarre woman who dictates how others must think. There is none of that here. Being a philosopher as well as a novelist (and a good introspecter), Ayn Rand understood better than anyone the thinking a writer needs to do to create good fiction. She understood that she could not do Holzer?s thinking for her and instead pointed her in the direction of the work she needed to do. People with a shallow or rationalistic understanding of Objectivism might be surprised that Rand advised Holzer to write about things she had strong feelings about. Rand urged fiction writers to be selfish and write about what excited them. Otherwise, writing feels too much like a duty and if anything gets done the product is lifeless. Rand also advised a writer not to overdo the outline, but to leave room for flexibility. A detailed, rigid outline shuts down the subconscious from producing new ideas. Holzer?s tips on revising are especially useful, as she lists what she looks for in each pass. She might go through a manuscript one time just looking for clichs, another time just looking for character consistency, etc. This is not platonic, inspirational writing. The amount of revising work and the different things Rand and Holzer looked for are good to know. A writer needs to put in the extra effort. I was surprised to see that on the subject of how to make a logical progression of events, Ayn Rand sounds very much like Bernard Grebanier and the syllogism method he writes about in Playwriting. Grebanier got his ideas on plot from a critic named William Price, who got his ideas from Aristotle. Here is how Holzer says Rand explains the logical progression of Romeo and Juliet: To have a logical progression, you must first have a common dramatic element. Look at it in three steps. Step one: love at first sight. Step two: marriage. The common element is the family feud. It infuses step one and two with drama and builds in a logical progression to an inevitable question ? to step three: Will they be happy? At first glance it might seem odd that something as emotional and exciting as drama depends on logic, which most people think of as dry and detached from values. But in fact, without logical inevitability there is no drama. The process of ?if this, then that? is the essence of a logical progression of events ? the essence of a plot. Some parts of Holzer?s book are less interesting, such as her Hollywood experiences. She wastes two chapters on endorsements for her novels. The chapter discussing what actors should play the parts in Atlas Shrugged will be outdated in five years, which is just as well ? the actors Holzer picks all seem hopelessly inadequate to me. Russell Crowe as Hank Reardon? Annette Benning as Dagny Taggart? Gag. In one annoying chapter Holzer fictionalizes a conversation with Ayn Rand about the 2002 Academy Awards show. It didn?t sound like Ayn Rand to me. I can't picture her saying "reverse racism," which is just racism, or talking about hobbits.
  23. Originally from The Charlotte Capitalist ™, Amit Ghate at Thrutch: I discovered today that Ms. Ayaan Hirsi Ali's film Submission, directed by the murdered Theo Van Gogh, is available as a google film. I suggest watching it ASAP, before Islamists have it withdrawn. Here.
  24. Originally posted by Nicholas Provenzo from The Rule of Reason, I had heard from several sources about Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged being used as a prop device for the UPN sitcom One on One, but it wasn't until I saw this clip [Hat Tip: NoodleFood and CyberNet] that I realized just how utterly remarkable the presentation was. The Atlas Shrugged reference is exact, informative and precisely what one might say if they were to offer a brief explanation of Objectivism to a friend. The story goes like this: an 18-something Breanna is stressed out while preparing for a college philosophy test on Objectivism the next day. Her friends enter and explain to her that Objectivism is an integrated philosophy that Ayn Rand developed to show man as he is-and ought to be. After a quip about the cover of the book (Breanna's boyfriend Arnaz notes that if Atlas is holding up the world, what then is he standing on), they all get to studying. And that's the clip. Incredible! Now I can just imagine someone saying that's not how you present philosophy and the portrayal was on UPN, so it can't be any good. Oh, spare me. The fact is a 5th season sitcom ran a positive portrayal of Objectivism that featured attractive young people treating the philosophy as something a person with high aspirations ought to know. That's fantastic. Hell, I wish I would have had that to watch when I was a Marine on sea duty instead of all those tapes of Family Matters my platoon-mate's mother had sent him.
  25. From Dr. Yaron Brook: Washington's attempts to fight rampant corruption will amount to nothing unless they address its basic cause. The fundamental reason for today's rampant corruption is that our government has adopted a corrupt purpose. Once a protector of the life, liberty, and property of every American, the US government now uses its power to pursue an undefined "public good" by sacrificing some Americans to other Americans. If we want to get rid of the Jack Abramoffs and the "bridges to nowhere," we have to return our government to its sole legitimate purpose: the protection of individual rights. Dr. Yaron Brook Ayn Rand Institute Executive Director Irvine, CA http://ObjectivismOnline.com/blog/archives/000647.html
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