Sunday, May 31, 2009

Business error leads owner in new direction and success

Business error leads owner in new direction and success -
"Gala's story is also about how the entrepreneurial journey can lead in unexpected directions, and if you don't quit during the unbelievably hard times you just might build a successful enterprise."
After Susan Boyle's magnificent performance her winning the competition "Briton got talent" was a foregone conclusion. So it was a complete upset when a dance troupe beat her in the finals.

Judge for yourself if they deserved it. As for me, I think the dance was good but was it better then the song? No way. I admired the skill of the dancers and the imaginative choreography (the transformer move was sheer genius). Still it didn't have the awesome, moving power of the Susan's performance.

(via The Volokh Conspiracy)

A piece of history

History, woman, aircraft, skill, intensity, concentration. Nice picture.

Palmer, Alfred T., photographer.
Women are trained to do precise and vital engine installation detail in Douglas Aircraft Company plants, Long Beach, Calif.1942 Oct.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Objectivist Roundup

See all the good stuff with an objectivist viewpoint of the past week in one place at Ramen & Rand: My First Objectivist Roundup!.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Star Trek: A Military Analysis Danger Room
"Twenty-third century warfare isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You’d think that weapons and tactics would have progressed in 200 years. But the new Star Trek movie shows that the United Federation of Planets has a lot to learn about warfare."

Federation has a lot to learn about handrails (Mad Minerva's bad section in the movie review) and seat-belts (my comment) too apparently.
Doesn't this wired article about "Mexican Drug Gang Builds DIY Gun Truck " remind you of the Chicago gangs of the depression era, when the gangs acquired Tommy sub-machine guns which were World War I surplus.
Conditioning Research: optical Illusion:
"This isn't exactly fitness related but it is absolutely fascinating. Check out this illusion:

The break of the curveball "
Guy Sues Guinness For Naming Him The Most Litigious Person In The World
from the just-to-prove-the-point... dept
Taking the fun out of marijuana. - Slate Magazine:
" We've taken the caffeine out of coffee, the alcohol out of beer, and the smoke out of tobacco.

What's next?

the fun out of pot."
More Privacy Laws Don't Mean More Privacy Techdirt:
"from the think-this-through dept
There's evidence that we're about to see a big new push in 'privacy' laws at both the state and federal level, and while privacy is important, these laws often do the exact opposite of what they're intended to do."
What about albino hunchback lesbians of Vietnamese descent:
"The nomination of a “wise Latina woman” to the Supreme Court of the United States has signaled the Obama administration’s intent to scrap the Constitution. Whereas SOTUS jurists are charged with interpreting the constitutionality of laws and court rulings, the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Court is the opening salvo in Mr. Obama’s attempt to dismantle the Constitution in favor of a Court that looks upon each individual ruling in light of the appellant’s personal background and life history."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

China warns Federal Reserve over 'printing money' - Telegraph: "China warns Federal Reserve over 'printing money'
China has warned a top member of the US Federal Reserve that it is increasingly disturbed by the Fed's direct purchase of US Treasury bonds."
(via Instapundit)

Crazy Dancing (Lindy Hop)

The quality of video is poor but is still very entertaining.

Introducing Objectivism

Introducing Objectivism

Ayn Rand delivers a capsule description of her philosophy, Objectivism.

Reinventing the

How would you like your magazine-on a T-shirt or inside a can?

This article from talks about the unique marketing by some magazines in order to stand out and survive. Now is the mode of delivering more important than the content itself?
(via Techdirt)

Would you accept dirty money?

The article "Dirty Money?" asks if question the source of the funds is relevant in cases of anonymous donations.

There is quite a mystery surrounding the $81.5 million donated to fifteen colleges by a donor insisting upon complete anonymity. This mysterious donor has insisted that the recipient schools make no attempt to ascertain her identity.

Then Ms. Berman mad a comment which I found exceedingly absurd. "Any institution would want to be sure they're not accepting money that was earned criminally,". I do not understand why the source is of any concern to recipient school. Ms. Berman seems to be making some sort of moral hazard argument.

Is is really that absurd? First should anonymity be acceptable in the first place? Should the institution say that any source is acceptable then I guess it does not matter. What if it was not possible to asctertain the identity of the donar, would they accept the possibility that they might be accepting money from somebody as bad as Hitler? Should one not make any assumptions unless there is evidence that the money is tainted?

Hmmm! lot of questions. Any answers are welcome from any wise objectivists visiting this blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cover Story: Finger Painting: The New Yorker Blog: "Jorge Colombo drew this week’s cover using Brushes, an application for the iPhone, while standing for an hour outside Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Times Square." (via Instapundit)

Free-market capitalist system is the best medicine

An epidemic of cerebral sclerosis: "By RANDY ALCORN — May 26, 2009
While honest debate can be effective in gaining understanding and finding solutions, debate today has too often become a competition of rigid ideologies among adamantine adherents who believe that they have found the ultimate, universal, truth in some grand philosophical doctrine."

This my response to the above article:

I agree with Ted Potts's comment. I live in India where for almost 50 years people suffered due to the socialist agenda of the country. The country saw a huge movement of brain-drain where best of country's talent-doctors, engineers all left for the western countries. In last decade or so with reforms taking place and even with half-hearted moves towards a free-market system we have seen an unprecedented levels of prosperity. I work on a poultry farm where the laborers 10 years ago were barely able to buy food and clothing are now carrying cell-phones, wear western clothing and use DVD players.

It is the current US governments agenda which is driving people back to their home countries. The author implies that freedom causes casualties without any substance. The health-insurance he talks about has become so necessary only because of the socialized medicine. It is the lack of freedom in the health-care which is causing misery and death. Even in India in big cities where the government allows private hospitals (most rural areas have pathetic govt. hospitals) it is very affordable to consult and get treated by the top doctors (some who have practised in US before). The Insurance is still cheap (free competition).

How do you know that free-market capitalist system is not the apex of perfection? It has not been seen by the last few generations. Can you imagine if there was no interference from agencies like FDA and other what kind of discoveries and cures which will be unleashed. Unlike now where thousands die waiting for trials of drugs to fully satisfy the govt. agencies.

Your last sentence needs close scrutiny. "We need open minds, uncluttered by doctrine, uncoupled from selfish special interests, and free to explore new possibilities and find pragmatic solutions." Open minds-but not to reason, uncluttered by Doctrine-even the right one? uncoupled from selfish interest-even if selfishness is a virtue? As for pragmatism, I will quote Rand here,"in pragmatist’s universe, there are no absolutes. There are no facts, no fixed laws of logic, no certainty, no objectivity".

What we need is logic, certainty and objectivity in a very healthy dose to fix the enormous problems of the medical and the political field in America.
New York Times Denounces Socialism
"Sadly, however, it was September 1913 when the paper did this. The editorial was reacting to a platform of Teddy Roosevelt that included an income tax, a central bank, and curbs on competition. The NYT said that the American people are too intelligent and have too much common sense to be deluded by the "shallow sophistries of Roosevelt Socialism."
Geoff Metcalf -- When rule breakers become rule makers:

“Solutions to epic problems can usually be found in an objective return to basics.
Ayn Rand once clearly restated an intrinsic reality, “…it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals --that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government --that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government."

Government: Our Thigh Master

Obama's penchant for control is becoming both ridiculous and extreme. In this article Government: Our Thigh Master from The Kalamazoo Objectivist it is becoming obvious that this administration will stop at nothing in trying to exercise control over what Americans eat, drink, spend, when they spend it, let them earn enough to spend it, breathe (CO2 you know). I could go on and on, but this should be enough to give any freedom loving American nightmares.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In a soldier’s name

In a soldier’s name: "Many years ago, when I was in high school, I ran into kind of a strange, lonely, muscular young man with a keen intellect and a quick and inquiring mind. He was full of life and future promise. Many nights we would sit in his 1940 coup until well after midnight, discussing philosophy, science, religion, school, cars, women, politics and airplanes. Not necessarily in that order. Sometimes during our talks, he would sketch out cars, free hand. The detail in his drawings was astounding, in both depth and perspective."
SciFi Scanner - John Scalzi - SciFi Movies Made Money Before Star Wars, Too
Reddie Reasons.: Quote Of The Day.:
"'The first requisite for success is to develop the ability to focus and
apply your mental and physical energies to the problem at hand - without
growing weary. Because such thinking is often difficult, there seems to be
no limit to which some people will go to avoid the effort and labor that is
associated with it....' - Thomas Edison"

Why Philosophy Matters

Very interesting stuff from Ramen & Rand "Why Philosophy Matters". Miranda Lake Barzey says that "a good philosophy is vital to good living".

Announcing ARCTV

The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights is proud to unveil ARCTV, ARC's new multimedia Web site. ARC speakers frequently analyze and comment on current events from the perspective of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of reason, individualism and capitalism, and ARCTV will collect recordings of these events, including lectures, radio and TV interviews, video op-eds and much more. ! Ayn Rand's philosophy

Adam Smith institute in it's article "Buying in to Rand" notes that
Since the beginning of the economic crisis, Atlas Shrugged has climbed more than 500 places on the Amazon rankings, even overtaking contemporary bestsellers such as Barack Obama’s ‘The Audacity of Hope’. It is still ranked as one of the most influential books of all time alongside The Bible. Bearing in mind The Communist Manifesto is currently ranked 140,414 bestseller in the Amazon lists, the rise of Ayn Rands magnum opus poses some serious questions.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Commercial starring Catherine Zeta-Jones

The first time I saw Zeta-Jones was about 17 years ago in a episode of English TV series called "The Darling Buds of May" and I thought she is good enough to be in Hollywood. It took her just another few years to do that. Maybe I should be into talent spotting. She is absolutely beautiful.

Mainstream Press Treachery

Canada Free Press has this article about the treachery of American mainstream press. It raises some important points about the lack of balanced reporting. The press in America totally veers towards the leftist view point with no pretense of fair reporting. It says:

Honest unbiased reporting in the American news room has been so absent for so long that most Americans now seek information elsewhere. Americans no longer trust the free press to be their eyes and ears, to keep them abreast of the facts needed to make intelligent decisions about daily life or politics. Sadly, at this moment in history, even Russia has a more reliable free press than America. If Americans don’t read foreign news sources, they have no clue what is going on in their own country, much less the world.

It also mentions some very important stories like the one where US Federal Reserve Inspector General Elizabeth Coleman stated brazenly before the US Congress that she has “no idea” where $9 Trillion of US taxpayer has gone, or who got it (see the video here).

The story is equally applicable to the mainstream world press. Here in India I would not know a thing if I got my news from the press. I get 90% of my news from the Internet. The mainstream media here is completely leftist/anti-capitalist with stories on ever thing from evils of plastic bags to the pollution from industries. The business channels have no interest in questioning the polices of the government. There are no opposing viewpoints presented. At least in U.S. CNBC had the token Peter Schiff (see him predict the recession) to present the other side even though they thought he was a joke.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gallery: The Top 10 Telescopes of All Time Popular Science
If You Have WiFi, a Cell Phone, Or Lots Of Other Things, The FCC Thinks It Can Search Your House Techdirt

North Korea- seeing misery with Google Earth

This article in WSJ talks about people like Curtis Melvin, a doctoral candidate at George Mason University in suburban Virginia who use Google Earth to draw a more clear picture of North Korea. It is the most closed, oppressive societies in the world. Check my blog post "Unearthly Earth hour" where in a NASA picture full of night lights, North Korea is one of the dark spots. Well! now there are a bunch of dedicated people throwing light on this dark spot of humanity. It is heartening to see though that common people have not given up on it. How many generations of these poor people will be lost before mankind decides enough is enough.

After the Iraq debacle there is very little hope that this sad, wretched country will be rescued anytime soon. It is doomed to stay in it's dictators clutches for a long time. It is the ultimate symbol of fully controlled society yet we have people in U.S. clamoring for more government control. They are like lost kids bawling for an adult to come and take charge. Grow up people, before your playpen turns into a gulag.

Why Sri Lanka's victory annoys Time magazine

Time magazine has done it again. In it's article it admonishes Sri Lanka after it has won the war against the most dreaded and bloodthirsty group LTTE. As Chuck in his post "How the West Was Lost" at The New Clarion points out-

Time looked at the victory of Sri Lanka over the Tamil Tigers, and concluded they did everything wrong, and their successful methods were exactly what we should not do. Never have I seen an analysis so utterly and spectacularly wrong as Time’s.

Only brute force could have worked with the well-funded LTTE who even had their navy and a basic air force. Tamil Tigers are the pioneers of suicide bombing in the modern times. They wanted the country divided on ethnic grounds and resorted to methods which would make any human being shudder. They achieved special distinction of using child soldiers and women suicide bombers; in fact they used one such women bomber to kill former Indian Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi 18 years back.

What Time doesn't recognize is that if Sri Lanka had even hesitated in their bombings, it would have prolonged the war even more and have caused more civilian casualties in long run. Any gaps in the bombings are used by the enemy to regroup and recover from the assault so it renders the attack useless. It also gives time for counter-attack and relocation of the valuable assets of the enemy.

Same logic applies to the negotiations which are just a delaying tactic and way of promoting propaganda. When have discussions with terrorists worked? Norway and others like it act like little UN's and just serve to prolong the agony of the people. I have lived with the specter of terrorism for a long time in India, first Sikh and now the Islamic variety. The looming threat destroys the quality of life and the terror grinds you down. You become jumpy every time you see an abandoned bag or packet and the crowded malls and market places become less inviting. You become fed up with being patted down and waiting at the inevitable roadblocks put up by the incompetent police when the terrorists have done their deed and fled.

As for the Sri Lankan tactics being old fashioned as Time puts it, as Chuck says, "old fashioned, rational tactics still work just as well as they ever did". There is a reason why they study historic battles at the West Point. Who cares how old the strategies and tactics are, as long as they work.

The conflict in Sri Lanka has dragged for decades but it took one determined leader only a couple of years to finish LTTE. There is much to be learned from the Lankan experience. So time to ignore untimely and ignorant advice from rags like Time magazine and use the lessons learnt in the fight against Islamic terrorism.

A Wedding Video Worth Watching

Mad Minerva 2.0: Friday Fun Video: A Wedding Video Worth Watching: "Watching
From the always-interesting Spanish blog Barcepundit comes this delightful video from the UK:

Brian & Eileen's Wedding Music Video. from LOCKDOWN projects on Vimeo."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Objectivist Round Up #97
"This week presents insight and analyses written by authors who are animated by Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand".
Day of reckoning looms for the U.S. dollar: "The U.S. dollar's day of reckoning may be inching closer as its status as a safe-haven currency fades with every uptick in stocks and commodities and its potential risks - debt and inflation - are brought under a harsher spotlight.
Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said Wednesday a "serious case of dollar damage" was underway."

Thomas Paine-Governments right to exist

I am currently reading Thomas Paine's "Rights of man". Some of it was so interesting that I almost forgot the 110 deg. of heat at work today (reading between rounds). The heat is bearable, it's the humidity which was a real killer today. Here is some of what I read today where Paine takes a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen, and on which they have been founded.
They may be all comprehended under three heads. First, superstition. Secondly, power. Thirdly, the common interest of society, and the common rights of man. First was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerors, and the third of reason.

When a set of artful men pretended, through the medium of oracles, to hold a intercourse with the Deity, the world was completely under the government of superstition. The oracles were consulted, and whatever they were made to say, became the law; and this sort of government lasted as long as this sort of superstition lasted.

After these a race of conquerors rose, whose government, like that of William the Conqueror, was founded in power, and the sword assumed the name of a sceptre. Governments thus established, last as long as the power to support them lasts; but that they might avail themselves of every engine in their favour, they united fraud to force, and set up an idol which they called Devine Right, and which, twisted itself afterwards into an idol of another shape, called Church and State.

When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel for the honour and happiness of it's character, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.

We have now to review the governments which arise out of society, in contradiction to those which arose out of superstition and conquest.

It has been thought a considerable advance towards establishing the principles of freedom, to say, that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed: but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government: and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.
American Thinker: Obama's Magic Hat: "Many Obama voters now expect the President to pull utopia out of his magician's hat. What will they do when the hat turns out to be empty?"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Schneier on Security: "Invisible Ink Pen
This is cool. It writes like a normal pen, but if you run a hair dryer over the written words they disappear. And if you put the paper in the freezer the words reappear. Fantastic."
25 logos with hidden messages – Amazing Graphic Designing tricks! (Via Look at this..)

Race Talk for "African-Americans"

Race Talk for "African-Americans" by Walter Williams -- Capitalism Magazine: "What to call black people has to be confusing to white people. Having been around for 73 years, I have been through a number of names.
Among the polite ones are: colored, Negro, Afro-American, black, and now African-American. Among those names, African-American is probably the most unintelligent."

Movie Review: "Star Trek"

Mad Minerva 2.0: Movie Review: "Star Trek" (minimal spoilers version):
A wonderful review of the current installment of the Star Trek franchise from MM. Here's a brief sample:

I'll say that the flick has almost continuously breakneck pacing -- this thing MOVES in nimble bursts of energy that defies the overworked ponderousness of the franchise's worst moments. Abrams basically plows through the story with the confident aplomb of Patton charging through France. The sets are bright and crisp, the special effects lavish and eye-popping without becoming self-parodying, the sense of immediacy energizing without being oppressive.

A lot of professional reviewers could take a lesson from MM. I enjoyed the review thoroughly and even if I wasn't a fan of the series, I would still go and watch the movie. MM plows through the review with the confident aplomb of Patton talking to his troops (silly, but could not resist it).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Is rationality a virtue worth emulating?

I recently read an article "Mr. Jekyll and Dr. House: The Reason-Emotion Split as Manifested in House, M.D." on the TOS about TV series House, M.D. (first two seasons), a part of which I had read some time back but read the whole thing only now (subscription-based). The article analyses the portrayal of the lead character Dr. House.

I have been a big fan of the TV series House, M.D. and have been intrigued and at times puzzled by the portrayal of the Dr. House (brilliantly played by Hugh Laurie). The series focuses on both his professional and personal life. There are no ambiguities where his medical abilities are concerned; he coolly analyses his cases ignoring emotions of the patients and gets to the root of the problem. He decides on a course of treatment-with inputs from his team- with supreme confidence and expects it to be executed without any ifs or buts.

Just like the author, I have always thought that a good doctor has to be like a good detective. He has to study the case, look for clues in not so obvious places and be knowledgeable in interpreting those clues and solving the case. This reminds me of a Sherlock Holmes case where he says that "I am puzzled by the dogs". When Dr. Watson says that the dogs didn't do anything, he says it's exactly what puzzled him-why didn't they bark if there were intruders around? This comparison is even more apt for the extreme case handled by Dr. House but also holds true for slightly more complex cases routinely handled by most doctors. Dr. House is a master medical investigator and finds clues of mysterious illnesses in unlikeliest of places with ease. The creator has blessed his character with rationality but the problem is that he doesn't seem to think that is is worth emulating.
Creator David Shore describes his brilliant, cynically sarcastic medical Sherlock as “a character who firmly believes in rationality over emotion at all times,” with all that presumably implies. And what, in Shore’s conception, does it imply? That House is “nasty and he’s cold and he’s heartless, and everything he does is to make the patient better.” This indicates Shore’s conception of rationality, or at least the brand of rationality he ascribes to House.
Shore seems split on his own evaluation of House’s character, warning apologetically, “I created this character, and I love him, and you might think I’m saying, yeah, we should all be like that. No! We actually shouldn't be like that.” But, one is tempted to ask, if his rationality saves countless patients’ lives, isn't it in fact a virtue worth emulating? Or is it indeed a lovable sin, deserving of sympathetic scorn, since it dooms him to a life of lonely success?
The creator goes on to show the personal life of Dr.House which is sad, confusing, lonely, and attributes this to his rationality and draws the unwarranted conclusions. Is it so hard to believe that a rational person can be happy? It is this belief which deprives us of a perfect hero.

Episode after episode puts us through the torment of seeing a gloomy, tortured House return to his dark, lonely apartment and pump himself full of Vicodin to numb his own pain, after sending his patients home happy and smiling, holding the hands of loved ones who rejoice with them at a seemingly miraculous recovery...
So it is no wonder that House is unhappy, since happiness is an emotion—and House tries to steer clear of emotions at all cost..
So if, like House, you choose to regard the rational quest for truth as your sacred calling, you (allegedly) must abandon all hopes of emotional fulfillment. But rationality—real rationality—does not lead to any such plight; indeed, it leads to the stark opposite. If House were as rational about emotions as he is about medicine, he would not be miserably successful; he would be successfully happy.

Gena Gorlin goes on to explain the importance of the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness.
Emotions are not impervious to reason; they are responses to what we regard as true (given our prior knowledge and reasoning, or lack thereof). If we change our minds, our hearts eventually follow..
If one grasps the nature of the relationship between rationality and emotion, House’s split personality becomes easy to diagnose: He is rational in his dealings with human illness, but irrational in his dealings with human emotion. If David Shore has set out to portray a man who truly “believes in rationality over emotion at all times,” he has failed—by failing to understand the actual nature of both rationality and emotion...
Such critics once again fail to realize the proper role of emotion in relation to rationality. If House were to allow baseless pangs of doubt, or the emotional appeals of patients and fellow doctors, to interfere with his rational conclusions, he would not be the good doctor that he is...
Just as emotions are consequences of one’s conclusions, so rationality is the means of achieving emotionally gratifying values.
The character of John Galt said in Ayn Rand's epic novel "The Atlas Shrugged" that "happiness is the successful state of life, pain is an agent of death. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions".

In spite of all the irritating contradictions of the series, I like to focus on the positives and I like what Hugh Laurie writes, in praise of his own character: “This is a guy in search of truth. Incidentally, that truth one day could save your life or the life of someone you love. That’s a heroic thing.” Millions of people love the witty and heroic Dr.House which according to the author is a positive symptom and that it suggests that people’s admiration for the virtue of reason is still alive and kicking. The thought makes me feel good.
Read the full article here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Is anyone minding the store at the Fed?

Via Mises Blog

Parachuting from Space

The Speculist: "This is so awesome I can hardly stand it.

Jumping From Space from Mark Gray on Vimeo.
39 kilometers up? What is that, 90,000 / 100,000 feet? We should have a national holiday in Kittinger's honor."

Google had $209,624 in profit per employee in 2008, which beats all the other large tech companies we looked at, including big hitters like Microsoft, Apple, Intel and IBM.

The Internet Saved My Tongue: How I beat Canada's 'human rights' censors - Reason Magazine

An article by the former publisher of the Western Standard, a Canadian magazine, revisits his decision to reprint the Danish cartoons that infuriated Muslims in 2006. The Standard, which considered the media's self-censorship "cowardice masquerading as sensitivity," was the only Canadian publication to do so. After being investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission, the magazine uploaded videos of its questioning to YouTube, and a media storm forced the commission to dismiss its complaint. "My story isn't just about free speech," the author writes. "It's also about the way new technology has leveled the playing field between big government and private citizens.

Via Slate
Sony Pictures CEO: Nothing Good Has Come From The Internet Techdirt: "from the and-that-is-why-you-fail dept"

Capitalism: The Only Moral System

Today's Denver Post published a nasty attack on capitalism. This is Ari Armstong's online comment. Here is the letter:
And here is his reply:
I’ll untangle Brickley’s many confusions. Capitalism protects people’s right to live their own lives and interact voluntarily with others, by their own judgment, free from political controls. Capitalism means a system in which individuals rights to property and contract are consistently protected. In capitalism, the job of the government is to protect people from force and fraud.

To the degree that politicians interfere in the market, that is not capitalism, but its opposite. If “bribed governments” grant to some businesses political advantages to seize wealth by force or forcibly harm competitors, that is not “unregulated capitalism;” it is a market controlled to some degree by politicians.

Capitalism is regulated (made regular) first by a government that protects against force and fraud, and second by the independent judgment of individuals. If you don’t like a company’s products or services, don’t buy them! If you think you can do better, you are free to try. But this is not the sort of “regulation” that the enemies of capitalism have in mind. Instead, they call on politicians to control the economy and violate people’s rights.

Brickley is right about one thing: capitalism is incompatible with pure democracy. Capitalism protects individual rights. Pure democracy is mob rule, it is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner, it is 51 percent of the population enslaving the other 49 percent.
Brickley calls capitalism, the only system compatible with the reasoning mind of man, a “religion,” and equates it with Soviet communism. This is pure projection. For the full justification of capitalism, see Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Capitalism is marked by men of drive and genius developing the goods and services — the health care, the technology, the food, the housing, the cars — we need to thrive. Their motive is to produce life- enhancing products and exchange them voluntarily with others for their personal gain. No motive could be more noble.

As for nastiness, we need look no further than Brickley’s smear campaign against capitalism and capitalists.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama's Slavocracy

A thought provoking piece of writing from Mark Steyn "Live Free or Die" (HT: Mad Minerva) where he says:
Americans face a choice: They can rediscover the animating principles of the American idea—of limited government, a self-reliant citizenry, and the opportunities to exploit your talents to the fullest—or they can join most of the rest of the Western world in terminal decline. Read it all.
It's time for Americans to decide what kind of future they want for themselves; do they want to be adults and make their own choices regarding health care, education etc. or do they want to become the wards of the state? Will America let itself be lured by Obama's promise of the welfare utopia and willingly tie shackles of slavery? In a mockery of the great fathers of the Republic Obama wants to reward the majority with the fruits of productiveness of the few. He has become the uncompromising, unblushing representative of a flagrant Socialism. I hope the American idea prevails and I say this with a lot of passion "live long and prosper, America".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tiny Indian school buses

oobject » 12 tiny Indian school buses: "At first sight these buses may look horrifying, like miniature cattle wagons full of children. But they are a feature of a type of culture that is different from America where yellow school buses shuttle children often over large distances."

Google has closed Reisman's Blog

Google has closed George Reisman's Blog to new posts and editing of existing posts. A 'blog in exile' has been established here.

FROM MICHAEL YON: training with the Gurkhas.

FROM MICHAEL YON: training with the Gurkhas (Part 1, part 2, part 3). (via Instapundit)

Selfishness is a good thing

Broward/Palm Beach Music - Local Jam Favorites the Heavy Pets Play Three Gigs in Four Days: "Selfishness is a good thing,' says Jeff Lloyd, guitarist and frontman for the Fort Lauderdale quintet the Heavy Pets. Lloyd, an avid reader, has recently finished Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. And like all bright-eyed disciples of the objectivist author, he believes selfishness suffers from a bad rep. 'It's especially important in the bind that this country is in financially,' he says. 'The idea that self is bad is such a detriment to young kids who are growing up.'"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Understanding economic crises

A great post from Not PC telling us about four myth-busting books, offered at the Mises Store about what actually happened in the Great Depression. We see Krugman finally starting to wake up to reality. PC answers a reader about what mainstream-economist don't know and gives us some Austrian-based answers to those questions. He answers questions like:
What caused the slump itself?
What caused the drop in demand?
How should businesses respond to such an economy-wide drop in demand?
In which part of the capital structure has the drop in demand been greatest?
What are the implications of a greater demand drop in the earlier part of the capital structure?
What is a capital structure?

It is a lesson in the real economics (the Austrian variety) and a must read for anybody concerned about the (rotten) state of affairs in the world today. With free-market capitalism under attack (ironic, since it went out of fashion long time back), we have a unique situation where the patient is hell-bent on kicking the very medicine which will cure him. Here we have Dr. PC telling us about the cure and why we should stop listening to the quacks (Krugmen and his tribe).

I loved the quote by Mark Brandly: "If you are an economist and did not see this coming, you should seriously reconsider the value of your education and maybe do something with a tangible value to society, like picking vegetables."

Movie Review Preview: the Cine-Sib on "Star Trek" Context

Mad Minerva 2.0: Movie Review Preview: the Cine-Sib on "Star Trek" Context: "Fantastic article about the movie and about the Star Trek series from MM and kin. Bookmark MM 2.0 for regular supply of the some really smart and fun writing. MM is mad, bad, quirky, and a regular dose of her humor will increase your life-span. Do read her other blog Mad Minerva Satires for satires and humorous posts. The latest on MM Satires is Department of Homeland Security Issues "No Read List". My personal favourite is Cunning Government Plan Revealed: Stimulus Bill to Lay Foundation for New Clean Power Plants.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Speal - a Paragon of Fitness

Thrutch: "Speal - a Paragon of Fitness
One of the areas in which I find inspiration and motivation is athletic performance. I've posted a few profiles or stories of pro athletes here, but today I wanted to highlight an amateur competitor...
12 minutes as RX'd (meaning unscaled) signed by "Speal" who happens to weigh 140 lbs. I never really doubted the veracity of the posts, but as they say, seeing is believing. There are a number of videos of Speal on the crossfit site, but for a taste of his fitness level, check out the videos of the crossfit game qualifiers: first wod, second wod, finals".

The M3 and M2 strong inflation link

Some key statistics: "M3 is back
We did some sleuthing and data extraction and put M3 back together from various weekly Federal Reserve reports that are still available. Here is our article on M3b, which details our work and notes the sources for the data.
Finally and to put M3 into proper perspective with inflation (as measured by CPI without lies), the M3 and M2 strong inflation link is virtually unquestionable. The longer term inflation picture is clear, although M2 shows a pause and likely temporary disinflation as of 2008."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Teen composes symphonic work, hones acting skills

Teen composes symphonic work, hones acting skills -- Standouts - "Gaby's "Symphony No. 1," tells the story of a despondent inventor whose innovations are tangled in the red tape of bureaucracy. He wanders the town searching for inspiration and eventually finds it in a factory, where molten metal is poured, cooled and stamped - a hopeful sign that industry will prevail despite hardship.

Gaby says it's the story of her rust belt hometown and a response to the ideas of 20th-century philosopher Ayn Rand. "

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Jefferson and the Somali pirates

I was reading this very interesting post Ranking the Founding Presidents from Powell History Recommends. While reading about Thomas Jefferson's (ranked 2nd) Powell mentions that "Jefferson continued to steer the new nation with its self-interest as his guiding star as its third president and his most notable accomplishment in that area was his leadership in the war against the Barbary Pirates." The mention of pirates immediately piqued my curiosity and I did a google search on Barbary pirates and I found a recent story on New York Times called Lessons From the Barbary Pirate Wars.

The article mentions some striking similarities with Somali pirates like: "how those brigands, like today’s Somalis, usually kept their hostages alive. They only hanged captives from giant hooks or carved them into little pieces if they resisted. The Barbary pirates used small wooden boats, often powered by slaves chained to the oars, to attack larger European ships." Thomas Jefferson's description is very striking: "When they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth, which usually struck such terror in the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.”

In another article "Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates" Christopher Hitchens says:
Perhaps above all, though, the Barbary Wars gave Americans an inkling of the fact that they were, and always would be, bound up with global affairs. Providence might have seemed to grant them a haven guarded by two oceans, but if they wanted to be anything more than the Chile of North America—a long littoral ribbon caught between the mountains and the sea—they would have to prepare for a maritime struggle as well as a campaign to redeem the unexplored landmass to their west. The U.S. Navy’s Mediterranean squadron has, in one form or another, been on patrol ever since.

And then, finally, there is principle. It would be simplistic to say that something innate in America made it incompatible with slavery and tyranny. But would it be too much to claim that many Americans saw a radical incompatibility between the Barbary system and their own? And is it not pleasant when the interests of free trade and human emancipation can coincide? I would close with a few staves of Kipling:

It is wrong to put temptation in the pathof any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say:—“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

It may be fortunate that the United States had to pass this test, and imbibe this lesson, so early in its life as a nation.

The solution to this problem according to Ayn Rand Center in it's article "How to End Piracy in the High Seas" is:

“What we need--in response to piracy as well as other foreign threats--is an across-the-board reversal in U.S. policy. When, for example, it became clear more than a year ago that the waters off the coast of Somalia are a playground for pirates, the minimum that Washington should have done was to lay down an ultimatum to the pirates to leave Americans alone or else--and lived up to it.

The substance of that warning: if any American vessel is captured by pirates, we will use military force to destroy every last pirate base in Somalia. When such a threat of retaliation is made fully credible, it can be sufficient to deter would-be aggressors. If any dare test us, then we must apologetically respond with force."

Some other sources of information:
America and the Barbary Pirates: An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe
Terrorism In Early America

Friday, May 8, 2009

Enigma Auction: Historical Cypherpunk Gizmo for Sale Gadget Lab
"The gizmo? The Enigma machine, used by the Nazis in World War II to (unsuccessfully) send secret messages and ensure world domination. It also starred in the execrable 2001 movie of the same name, tagline: “10,000,000,000,000,000+ combinations - 24 hours to get it right."
VE Day unforgettable for those that were there:

"Our pleasures were simple. They included survival."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (Supreme Allied Commander, World War II)

The final victory over Germany came on May 7, 1945, at a schoolhouse in Reims, France, which served as Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's headquarters. (via Instapundit)
I Did Not Vote for Barack Obama

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sixty Miles from the Capital

Sixty Miles from the Capital: "The Obama administration mishandles Pakistan's Taliban crisis."

Super Slow-Motion Camera

Super Slow-Motion Camera Catches a Wave Gadget Lab

"The psychedelically radical video above was shot with a $100,000 high-speed camera called the Typhoon HD4, capturing intricacies of ocean waves normally imperceivable to the human eye. Shot as a teaser for BBC’s upcoming South Pacific series, the clip features surfer Dylan Longbottom in a 12-foot monster barrel."

Objectivist Roundup #95

Titanic Deck Chairs: Objectivist Roundup #95: "Welcome to the May 7, 2009 edition of the Objectivist Roundup, your weekly dose of intellectual fuel and ammunition."

Miracle at Philadelphia: QOTD 1

Titanic Deck Chairs: Miracle at Philadelphia: QOTD 1: "I am reading 'Miracle At Philadelphia: The Story of the Constitutional Convention May - September 1787' by Catherine Drinker Bowen, and it's chock full of very interesting quotes and anecdotes about a momentous time in human history and progress. I plan to post some of these quotes of the day (QOTD) as I go through the book...
In the quotation above, Bowen remarked on the "very fury of concern for the country" held by Madison, Washington, Jefferson and others. While concern for the country was certainly a part of it, I prefer to think of it as a fury of concern for truth, justice, and liberty; a concern for ideas, as both moral and practical, a vision for the world as it ought to be and would be.
[H]e "had learned the inmost secret of the brave, who train themselves to contemplate in mind the worst that can happen and in thought resign themselves -- but in action resign themselves never."

I get chills reading that. I'm going to like reading this book, I think. I hope you'll enjoy the passages I quote." Read the full article.

I too got chills reading that. Inspiring words for all of us who share the same concern for truth, justice, and liberty.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

CO2 Restrictions Threaten Human Life

The Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights: CO2 Restrictions Threaten Human Life

Animal-rights terrorists take away our right to life and liberty - LA Daily News

Animal-rights terrorists take away our right to life and liberty - LA Daily News: "By Edwin A. Locke, the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.
Rallies at UCLA and other campuses in support of animal research are a welcome sign that scientists are beginning to stand up to the animal rights activists.
But if the defenders of research are to win out, they must be more firm in opposing the vicious inversion of morality inherent in the notion of animal 'rights,' in the name of which terrorists have committed hundreds of violent crimes.
According to these terrorists, it is immoral to eat meat, to wear fur coats or leather shoes, and to use animals in research - even if it would lead to cures for deadly diseases. The terrorists are unmoved by the indisputable fact that animal research saves human lives. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) makes this frighteningly clear: "Even if animal tests produced a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it."
How do the animal "rights" advocates try to justify their position? As someone who has debated them for years on college campuses and in the media, I know firsthand that the whole movement is typically based on a single - invalid - syllogism; namely, men feel pain and have rights; animals feel pain; therefore, animals have rights. This argument is entirely specious, because man's rights do not depend on his ability to feel pain; they depend on his ability to think." Read more.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

USS Kitty Hawk

Special Operations: Commandos In Chains

Special Operations: Commandos In Chains: "May 1, 2009: Once again, Special Operations troops in Afghanistan have run into problems with ROE (Rules of Engagement). This sort of thing influences the use of most foreign troops in Afghanistan. NATO commanders in Afghanistan are not happy with all the strings attached to their authority by politicians back home. The ROE for NATO troops contain over seventy restrictions on how the NATO commander may use troops assigned to him."

Googling Justice Scalia

Schneier on Security:
"Nice hack: This year, after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made public comments that seemingly may have questioned the need for more protection of private information, Reidenberg assigned the same project. Except this time Scalia was the subject, the prof explains to the ABA Journal in a telephone interview.
His class turned in a 15-page dossier that included not only Scalia's home address, home phone number and home value, but his food and movie preferences, his wife's personal e-mail address and photos of his grandchildren, reports Above the Law."

American history picture

Saturday, May 2, 2009

MMA: America's Extreme Fighting

MMA: America's Extreme Fighting - The History Channel series Human Weapon: "Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Driven by the phenomenal success of the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) bouts on pay-per-view television, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is now the fastest-growing sport in the United States. As its name suggests, MMA combines techniques of various other fighting systems, including boxing, jujitsu, wrestling, judo, karate, kickboxing, kung fu, and taekwondo."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Poverty more dangerous than GM side-effects: SC - India :
"1 May 2009, NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday tried to strike a balance between the apprehended side-effects of genetically modified seeds and foodgrains
and the high-incidence of hunger and poverty in India."