Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Girls With Guns

Intelligence: Girls With Guns Get It

June 29, 2009: In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. Army and Marines found it useful to send a female soldier along on raids, as it was less disruptive to have a woman search the female civilians. There was no shortage of volunteers for this duty. The marines, as is their custom, saw more opportunities in this. Thus the marines began sending a team of women on such missions....

The marines also noticed that the female troops were better at picking up useful information in general. This is something Western police forces noted, in the last few decades, as women were allowed to work in all areas of police work, including detectives and crime scene investigators.

I find that very interesting. The aim of the women on these missions wasn't combat although they were trained for it if required. I have talked about my opinion on women in combat in my post "Women in the special forces?" that women can be used in other roles which don't require direct physical confrontation like they did during WW-II. I had cited the example of Israeli women soldiers and their failure to prove my point. But I agree with Burgess Laughlin who said in the comments section:

It would be a hasty generalization indeed to look at one historical instance--or even a number of them--and draw a universal conclusion. For example, to reach the universal conclusion one would have to show that the culture values of those men and women were objective. The culture of Israel was certainly not objective. It, like all cultures today and in the past, was steeped in some degree of mystically assigned roles for men and women in society in general.

A researcher would have to identify the widest differences--that is, the differences that apply to all men and women in all circumstances before drawing a universal conclusion that women cannot participate in combat effectively.

It is the first time I have heard of women soldiers being used not because of the political pressures or reasons unrelated to the pupose of the missions. I hope that the role assigned to women in the above case is based on valid reasons and overcomes what Mr. Laughlin described as the mystically assigned roles for men and women in society in general.

Geeky galleries

A gallery of geeky galleries by Royal Pingdom

Achtung! Gold ahead

It’s Come To This: Gold Vending Machine Debuts In German Airport Popular Science: "It dispenses one, ten and 250-gram bars, and it’s built like a tank"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gadgets - $48,000 per soldier

High-Tech Brigade Heads to Afghanistan, Loaded With Gadgets Wired.com: "The soldiers of the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division are shipping out to Afghanistan this month — equipped with a controversial array of infantryman gadgets."

Behave or Else

Art Carden in this Mises Institute article discusses whether it is just, moral, and appropriate to use force to correct others' wayward beliefs.

Climate Change Truth

What happens when the scientists have excessive belief in their ideas?

These men are not only ill prepared for making discoveries; they also make very poor observations. Of necessity, they observe with a preconceived idea, and when they devise an experiment, they can see, in its results, only a confirmation of their theory. In this way they distort observation and often neglect very important facts because they do not further their aim....But it happens further quite naturally that men who believe too firmly in their theories, do not believe enough in the theories of others. So the dominant idea of these despisers of their fellows is to find others' theories faulty and try to contradict them. The difficulty, for science is still the same.

CLAUDE BERNARD, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 1865
From Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes
Certain things never change. 144 years after the above article was written, we are still plagued by the irrational scientists. Bill Brown talks about this lot in his article "Climate Change Truth" and the way it scientists should operate:
Scientists generally operate like the rational person described above. They work according to the scientific method, which enshrines the inductive approach. Publishing their findings in a scientific journal is supposed to be the beginning of the journey to knowledge as other scientists test the results and publish their own findings. This emerging consensus is then grist for causal explanation, which is then itself tested in new scenarios and experiments. This process is more rigorous and formal than the rational person’s due to its inherently social nature: the rational person really only needs to understand an issue in his own mind whereas a scientist must cast his understanding in precise, objective terms that are available to others.

At odds with both the rational person and the scientist is the man of faith. For him, knowledge once obtained is sacrosanct; his certainty is absolute and unshakeable. In contrast, the process by which he acquires such certainty is relatively effortless: he is told what to believe and he accepts it wholesale. His mind is literally closed off to contradictory information as he resolutely refuses to consider it.
Bill Brown talks about the episodes of shouting down of earnest dissenters by the proponents of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). He points to a need for resurgence of reason and rational people and some positive signs on that front. Read his whole article for an informed and rational viewpoint of the issue.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It’s time to stop masking password entries

But what if my password really is eight consecutive bullets? Good Morning Silicon Valley

A brainy Kodak moment

For the First Time, Scientists Photograph Memories Being Formed - Popular Science: "Long-term memories are formed by proteins in brain cells"

Defense spending at pre-9/11 levels?

Defense Tech: Troubled Seas Ahead

I'll try to stay off my soapbox, but two points are worth mentioning. First, as noted by McNeal, is that the primary function of the federal government is to provide for the common defense -- not health care, green initiatives (readers: please don't try to combine global warming projections into security, as some are wont to do. It's lame) and corporate bailouts.
You want to know what the real purpose of the government is? Read this.

Cap and Trade and Save the Earth?

YouTube - Cap and Trade: Will It Save the Earth?

Apache blows up Taliban fighters

A feel good moment from LiveLeak:
Newly released video from Task Force-82. The video shows Afghan militants carrying automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenades, and a mortar fleeing the scene after they attacked an American outpost.
Gun camera view the Apache AH-64 shoots the militants. U.S. troops continue fighting the militants on the ground.The result, 15 militant forces killed.

[via Defensetech.org]

Hollywood, Health, Tech, Jackson

  1. Mark Steyn: Jackson, Sanford and weirdness
  2. Vintage Hollywood Photographs from Look At This...
  3. CBO Cost Estimate of Cap & Trade Pulls Out All the Gimmicks from Mises Blog
  4. Acer's Everywhere. How Did That Happen? (NYT) from Techmeme
  5. High Carbohydrate Foods Can Cause Heart Attacks! from Conditioning Research

Objectivist Views

  1. The speech our President should have made on Iran by Debi Ghate
  2. The New Sons of Liberty - by Edward Cline on Objectivists being the new Sons of Liberty, who must keep on arguing, talking, writing, and protesting, to get as many people on our side as possible.
  3. Nadir In the House - Myraf on implications of the climate-change bill.
  4. Obama Around the Web - Myrhaf on some interesting pieces on Obama around the web.
  5. Congress Should Emulate Australia On Cap And Trade - by C. August
  6. What If God Disappeared? - by Ari Armstrong
  7. Atlas Shrugged on Floor Displays at Largest Bookstores - The Ayn Rand Institute
  8. Good Night, America? from Robbservations

New on ARCTV

  1. ObamaCare: Will Dr. Atlas Shrug?
    Yaron Brook discusses the moral roots of socialized medicine, and why a morality of self-interest will lead to better policies. The failure of U.S. policy towards Iran is also examined. (Pajamas TV interview; 19 min.)
  2. The Michael Jackson Effect: Shenanigans in DC & Lockdown in Iran
    Yaron Brook discusses what could happen in the U.S. and in Iran while the news media are distracted by the death of Michael Jackson. (Pajamas TV interview; 8 min.)
  3. What the Tea Party Movement Must Stand For
    Don Watkins explains why it is not enough for the Tea Party protests to be against the latest Washington power grabs–they must also stand for the individual’s right to live for his own sake, and not as a servant of society.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The evolutionary origin of depression

The evolutionary origin of depression: Mild and bitter The Economist

"Depression may be linked to how willing someone is to give up his goals."
I agree with the above statement and you see examples of people who are unhappy with their existing jobs because of money or some pressures. Most people in the first place have trouble finding what exactly their goals are and meandering along in life is not a way to achieve happiness. This what Ayn Rand had to say about the importance of having a goal:
"A central purpose serves to integrate all the other concerns of a man's life. It establishes the hierarchy, the relative importance, of his values, it saves him from pointless inner conflicts, it permits him to enjoy life on a wide scale and to carry that enjoyment into any area open to his mind; whereas a man without a purpose is lost in chaos."
["Purpose," Ayn Rand Lexicon, p. 398]

I would suggest reading these posts by Burgess Laughlin at his blog "Making Progress."
1. What is a central purpose in life?
2. The third greatest sacrifice?

Power and Water Riots India

Power and water riots in India erupt every year and this year is no different. The intensity and frequency increases every year. With monsoon showing no signs of appearing and the temperature averaging 43 C/110 F and peaking at 45 C it is particularly bad this year.

Today I got stuck on the highway near the farm due to the locals blocking the road with buses and tractors because there has been negligible electricity in the whole area since the heat wave started. It took me almost twice as long as normal to reach my home and it left me totally drained. I don't have air-conditioning and I had to drench my head with cold water twice.

I have talked about the problems we face every year during summers on my post "The Unearthly Earth Hour." The government seems to be no hurry to relinquish control over the power and water sectors and instead preaches the virtues of conservation. The governments all over routinely force businesses to shut down to save power.

It doesn't strike people as odd that in sectors where there is free-competition there is no such talk and consumers are exhorted to consume more and get better prices as more competition arrives. It has happened in telecom which previously was a government monopoly and people had to wait for as long as ten years to get a phone connection.

Today you can get a cell phone connection in minutes and even people earning less then $2 a day have a phone. In Delhi call rates are as low as 20 paise (half a cent) a minute. The same has been seen in all the sectors which have been liberated from the slimy paws of the bureaucrats.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sound terrible on a recording?

FYI: Why Does My Voice Sound Different When I Hear it On a Recording? Popular Science: "It sounds different because it is different. When you speak, the vocal folds in your throat vibrate, which causes your skin, skull and oral cavities to also vibrate, and we perceive this as sound."

Fox News set for best year

Fox News set for best year yet, despite Obama - Reuters: "With the second quarter coming to a close, Fox News averaged about the same number of viewers as the top three other cable news networks combined."

Quote of the day

Ludwig von Mises: "The main political problem is how to prevent the rulers from becoming despots and enslaving the citizenry."
The Theory of Money and Credit

Does morality change with technology?

What Changes and What Does Not - Murray N. Rothbard - Mises Institute
"'Why, you'd take us back to the horse and buggy.'
The basic fallacy of this all-too-common cliché is a confusion between technology and such other aspects of human life as morality and political principles. Over the centuries, technology tends to progress: from the first wheel to the horse and buggy to the railroad and the jet plane. Looking back on this dramatic and undeniable progress, it is easy for men to make the mistake of believing that all other aspects of society are somehow bound up with, and determined by, the state of technology in each historical era."

World's Fastest R/C Plane

World's Fastest R/C Plane Hits 392MPH--With No Engine - Popular Science

Biggest win for U.S. soccer ever?

Biggest U.S. win ever? You better believe it ... - FOX Sports on MSN
"The United States made history tonight in South Africa, stunning the No. 1 ranked team in the world and reaching the finals of the Confederations Cup with a 2-0 victory over the European giants, Spain. The win snapped a 35-game unbeaten streak by the Spaniards and gives the USA a chance to win its first FIFA title at the senior level.
It was also unbelievable."

Dull Asians who study, study, study

Sarita from The Kalamazoo Objectivist points to this article "The Viciousness Of Academic Liberals" by Walter Williams who talks about Mr. Connerly's conversation with this high-ranking University of California administrator who wanted more campus diversity. When asked his reasons, this is what he had to say:
His response was that unless the university took steps to "guide" admissions decisions, the UC campuses would be dominated by Asians. When Connerly asked, "What would be wrong with that?", the UC administrator told him that Asians are "too dull — they study, study, study." Then he said to Connerly, "If you ever say I said this, I will have to deny it."
Mr. Connerly who originally wrote the article ""Study, Study, Study — A Bad Career Move" in the June 2, 2009, edition of Minding the Campus rightly terms this evil and asks the pertinent question if this approach of diversity should be applied in other areas as well:
With blacks making up about 80% of professional basketball players, there is little or no diversity in professional basketball. Even at college-level basketball, it's not unusual to watch two teams playing and there not being a single white player on the court, much less a Chinese or Japanese player.
I can think of several rule changes that might increase racial diversity in professional and college basketball. How about eliminating slam dunks and disallowing three-point shots? Restrict dribbling? Lower the basket's height?
It sounds ridiculous and would bring down the standards of the game and it is equally applicable to other field including academics. Racism is unacceptable and would bring down standards in any field where ability is not the guiding principle. It's not just about protecting the rights of the Asians as a minority but as Ayn Rand said it's about protecting the rights of the smallest minority on earth - the individual.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Great Depression - Mises Economics Blog

Did the Great Depression reflect the breakdown of an old economic order built on unhampered markets, unbridled competition, speculation, property rights, and the profit motive as most Americans believe? FULL ARTICLE

Latest from ARCTV

Capitalism in China: Should We Trade with Them? by Yaron Brook
Obama’s Super Regulators Ride to the Rescue by Alex Epstein
The Erosion of Freedom by Yaron Brook
Iran Election Chaos by John Lewis

Leonard Peikoff Podcast #67

Leonard Peikoff has posted a new podcast of philosophical Q&As on his Web site. Topics include the meaning of “spiritual”; military service under an irrational foreign policy; and protecting oneself against irrationality in college classrooms.

YouTube - Quotes from Atlas Shrugged

Courage under fire

The Dougout2: Charles B. MacDonald: Company Commander
"In 1947 Charles MacDonald published Company Commander. It is his story of leadership under fire from the Siegfried Line to Czechoslovakia. In September 1944 Captain MacDonald was given command of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. The lives of nearly two-hundred men were his responsibility; MacDonald was twenty-one years old."

Is your Sperm desirable?

Hint: Are you below 5'11" in height? Check the latest from the spermworld.
From there, Barbara Kay is off and running. It is, as she says, a fascinating tidbit of information and one I certainly didn't know. And, is so often the case, Kay's take on it is spot on. She pegs it for what it is - the interface of the woman who is too independent (i.e. not good at relationships with men) to have a man in her life, and the ages-old desire for a big, strong protector.
(via Isaac Schrödinger)

Lincoln, Churchill and Obama

This recent post by Edward Cline "Obama contra Churchill" talks about President Barack Obama's removal from the White House Oval Office of the bust of Winston Churchill and replacing it in that same spot with one of Abraham Lincoln. Ed comments about Obama's misplaced preference. There are some very revealing passages from one of the Lincoln's speech (quite an eye-opener) and this is what Ed has to say:
Lincoln’s chief motivation for prosecuting the Civil War was to preserve the Union, not to free the slaves. The obvious evil of slavery is not the subject here. We have little to thank Lincoln for. He endorsed the country’s first income tax and the first military draft, and suspended habeas corpus. These were precedent-setting exercises of government power to confiscate wealth and life, in pursuit of a “noble cause,” emulated later by his successors in office and certainly countenanced by Congress in pursuit of causes arguably less “noble.”
Ed also quotes from Churchill's speeches where England's greatest Prime Minister displayed a remarkable understanding of the psyche of the fascist dictators.
Cannons, airplanes, they can manufacture in large quantities; but how are they to quell the natural promptings of human nature, which after all these centuries of trial and progress has inherited a whole armory of potent and indestructible knowledge?
Ed discusses the Churchill's comments on Lenin and his hatred of private property and the destruction of Russian currency by printing it non-stop. He talks of Obama treading the same path and the damage he and Democrats are likely to inflict even if they are voted out of power. Ed Cline who is the author of the acclaimed Sparrowhawk series of books of historical fiction has written a great post (the best I have read in recent times). Read the whole article here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rationing and Capitalism

In this article Chuck tells us about this The New York Times article which claims that socialized medicine will lead to health care rationing which according to NYT is "an inescapable part of economic life." It confuses rationing in our daily lives with the government mandated one. How is my buying stuff with my own money the same as a bureaucrat doing that with my money; and supposedly knowing what is best for me. It all starts with this one statement "access to medical care is a fundamental right."

How do we reach this point of deciding that anybody has a right to a good or a service being offered by another person. Right in this context means that the goods/services can be had forcibly and that the person who thinks that he has the right will decide if he wants to pay anything for it. Now, how is that person supposed to indulge in that long honored American tradition of "making money?" Well he can't - he is forced to accept whatever is offered to him. Pretty much like slaves who live on whatever the master deems acceptable. How did the bastion of freedom, individual rights, and the land of pursuit of happiness reach this point where enslaving another person is considered - in fact advocated openly in so called respectable media?

The mainstream media plays an important role in mobilizing the public opinion against Capitalism. The freedom to work, private property, money, division of labor, are all denounced and are blamed for all the problems of the society. These are the very things missing under Socialism and that has been the cause of the collapse of various Socialist countries in recent times. The environmentalism, animal-rights, are nothing but attacks on Capitalism in various forms.

Profit which indicates to what extent a person has succeeded in creating surplus over and above the resources with which he started to begin with, has become a dirty word. What is a businessman supposed to do? Feel ashamed that he created a profitable business? It's not a coincidence that the most profitable companies in America like Coca-cola, Microsoft, Walmart, are some of the most hated ones. They have consistently been the target of anti-trust regulators. The very concept of anti-trust is that if you are very successful you become a target. This very immoral law is undefined and it is up to the government to decide based on unknown parameters if you have broken the law.

I remember reading in Fortune magazine about a decade ago an article where the author suggested taking over Microsoft's patents. I was flabbergasted. Penalizing a company for it's success? In effect nationalizing the company. I was furious and wrote a letter to the magazine. I suggested the author be sent to India to see the result of his suggestion that had already been implemented. The patent system in India was in a primitive state then and the effects of nationalization had rotted the system to it's core. Fortune printed that letter but it was the last time I read that magazine.

In fact everything from inflation, depression, monopolies, just about everything which can be is blamed on Capitalism. It is another matter that in a perfect Capitalist system none of these things would exist. This where government steps in to protect the society from the evil, profiteering, greedy, businessmen. This where the "planned" society begins. It starts the avalanche of laws, regulations, codes, rules, to manage every aspect of the lives of people - supposedly to liberate them from the clutches of the Capitalists. Thus begins the task of freeing people from the free-markets.

The laws range from progressive income taxes, wealth taxes, labor laws, sales taxes (in India), licensing norms, public schooling, public transportation, and the list goes on. To manage all this - hordes of bureaucrats are needed along with hordes of inspectors and other state employees. Laws to regulate food, water, air, open spaces, closed spaces, vacant properties, occupied properties, laws to create laws, are constantly written and re-written even before people get used to the previous ones. I am talking mostly about India but in last few years I have realised distressingly a lot of these laws exist in America. In last decade India has moved closer towards free-markets and America away from it.

One of the key aspects of Capitalism has always been under attack, it's the capital or the money. One of the champions of this policy has been Krugman of NYT. The inflation of money supply as propagated by Keynes has been a consistent feature of governmental control. The removal of gold standard led to removing any restraints on politicians and the beginning of boom and bust economies across the world. In 2002 Paul Krugman advocated the creation of housing bubble and once the economy suffered from it, guess who is around to give advice to governments on how to tackle it - Paul Krugman. America did very well before the creation of Federal reserve, in fact prospered at unprecedented rates.

Here is what Reisman said in his book:

The ability to create money has also been demanded because it is vital in enabling additional government expenditures to be financed by means of budget deficits and thus in fostering the delusion that the government can provide benefits for which citizens do not pay. And when, as is inevitable, the policy of inflation results in rising prices, capital decumulation, and the destruction of credit, people demand price and wage controls, and then, in response to the shortages and chaos that result, the government's total control over the economic system, in the form of rationing and allocation.
We have seen the above result in country after country and yet in this conflict of economics versus altruism and self-interest versus self-sacrifice - it is altruism and self-sacrifice which keep coming out on top. Here in India rationing has been a way of life for a long time. Even though a ration card has lost some of its importance, it has been kept relevant for majority of the masses. The ration card is supposed to be the visa to the Socialist paradise. In reality a lot of food-stuff meant to be distributed through the government controlled fair-price shops is diverted to the black-markets. The corruption is rampant and all public officials and the shop owners associated with the scheme benefit from it.

Last year under right to information law, a major scam was uncovered when one women was discovered to have 901 cards in her name. Everything which is rationed is scarce and is available in the black market at a premium. Kerosene oil is one of the items and majority of it's supply is diverted and used by government licensed gas stations to adulterate petrol and diesel. This causes huge damage to the engines and ends up with vehicles producing far more pollution. So, for people interested in environment I would suggest backing the free-market system.

Capitalism has resulted in rising productivity and improved standards of living and Socialism has caused nothing but economic chaos and totalitarian dictatorship. I'll end by quoting Ayn Rand:

Capitalism has created the highest standard of living ever known on earth. The evidence is incontrovertible. The contrast between West and East Berlin is the latest demonstration, like a laboratory experiment for all to see. Yet those who are loudest in proclaiming their desire to eliminate poverty are loudest in denouncing capitalism. Man’s well-being is not their goal.

“Theory and Practice,” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal

Amtrak and GM

Let’s learn from history and save free enterprise, before it’s too late!
In 1970, Congress partially nationalized and bailed out America’s passenger rail system for $340 million, forecasting that Amtrak would become profitable by 1975. But government officials, with zero transit experience, got involved in all decision-making. Unable to get tough on unions, they failed to rein in labor costs.
Since its creation 39 years ago, Amtrak has drained $30 billion from U.S. taxpayers. Last year Amtrak lost $1 billion on $2.5 billion in revenues.
So what did Congress do? Our representatives committed another $13 billion in taxpayer bailouts for Amtrak, suggesting that this new “stimulus” will finally “rebuild” Amtrak.
Ignoring this history, the U.S. government has basically nationalized General Motors — astonishingly reminiscent of the Amtrak debacle. The government’s Auto Task Force has zero auto experience, like the federal government’s 1970s Amtrak gang.
But this time we’re spending $50 billion in six months, more than we did in four decades with Amtrak. And the United Auto Workers union owns 17 percent of this new GM (Government Motors)!

Chemical Combat laser

Boeing Advanced Tactical Laser Fires High-Power Laser in Flight
"During the test, ATL took off from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and fired its laser while flying over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., successfully hitting a target board located on the ground. ATL, which Boeing is developing for the U.S. Air Force, is a C-130H aircraft equipped with a chemical laser, a beam control system, sensors and weapon-system consoles."

See the video of how the ATL works and here is the factsheet.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sometimes, you just gotta crash.

(via Isaac Schrödinger)

Dr. John Lewis on Iran and Israel

Watch this Dr. John Lewis interview on PJTV talking about the differences between Iran and Israel. He reveals some facts like the real power behind the president are the clerics who take all the important decisions. Mossavi was also president in the 80's with Khomeini as supreme leader. Dr. Lewis also talks about what America's policy should be towards both these countries.

For more information on Dr. Lewis visit his website.

Evolution of Dance

Highly recommended Clip. Sure to bring back some memories.
(via Kim's Play Place)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Taking fun out of driving

Tech.view: Planes, trains and automobiles The Economist:
"Slowly overcoming the technical barriers to computerised cars will help win psychological acceptance

An old joke among pilots asks: what do you need to fly a modern aeroplane? The answer is a computer, a pilot and a dog. The computer’s job is to fly the plane. The pilot’s job is to feed the dog. The dog’s job is to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything."
24 Lego Stop Motion Films Mimicking Cool Movies Scenes : Speckyboy Design Magazine

Supremo blames "media belonging to Zionists, evil media" for coverage of Iran demos

Jihad Watch

Well, this was inevitable: after flirting with the idea that the trouble must be coming from the U.S. and Britain, Khamenei reverts to default mode: it's all the Jews' fault.
I saw the Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khomeini's speech live today. He wanted the followers mind, posture, tongue's and gestures to reflect their spirituality. There were thousands of Iranians crammed inside the massive place where he gave the speech. At the right intervals the would chant and were better coordinated than a studio audience of an sitcom in their response. It reminded me of the footage of speeches of Hitler. These guy's were even more subservient with some bowing their heads while listening.

It is a disturbing site to see so many people sitting like mindless zombies listening to a man and occasionally bursting into chanting. They seemed like empty vessels willing to be filled up with whatever was being offered.
The Volokh Conspiracy - Consumer Reports Rates Digital Cameras
Weapons: American Snipers Go Magnum

Ebola, anthrax, plague

9200 uncatalogued pathogens found at US lab - Short Sharp Science - New Scientist
Objectivist Roundup #101 « Reality Talk:
"Welcome to the June 18, 2009 edition of the Objectivist Roundup. Writers of the following pieces are motivated by Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism. "

What makes America great

A great post by LB from 3 Ring Binder about the Pledge of Allegiance. It is a reminder to all Americans and people like me sharing the same values of what LB states so well:
As an adult, I recognize the flag to be a symbol of what makes America great. It represents the tremendous efforts and outstanding achievement of our Founding Fathers in creating this nation based not on bloodlines, money, religion, or might, but on individual rights.

Initiation of force

Andy, my favourite Charlotte Capitalist talks about his call with "Pete Kaliner Last Night" radio show. He raise the point of lack of moral condemnation of the Flint, Michigan policies to buy, tear down and"green over" private property. Even the host is taken aback at this point as Andy is the only person he had heard discussing the moral implications of the issue. It is a sign of the times that violation of property rights in America today is looked at only as a marginal technical issue and not in terms of violation of moral and constitutional rights.

The misuse of force in this context is treated very casually comparing it to pruning of bushes. I call it pruning of individual rights. As Andy says:
And as I noted in my call, as humans when we introduce force into our relationships, we have exceeded the moral boundary of our nature. Human relationships, in order to be moral, must be based upon reason, discussion, persuasion. The only proper use of force is in defense against the initiation of force.
Reason, discussion, persuasion - the key ingredients of a rational, civilized society. Check the post and listen to Andy patiently talk to the radio host and pointing to the principles involved with clarity.

Auto Atlas Has Shrugged

Mike from The New Clarion in this article talks about the state of the auto industry in America being discussed at the National Summit on the economy in Detroit. He talks about Nolan Finley, editor of the Detroit News who laments the fact that nobody seems to care about business and industry any more. In reponse to his charge that no one in charge is much interested in hearing their ideas for fixing things, Mike highlights the role of media:

Could it be all those past editorials claiming that some taxes, some emission regulations, some fuel economy regulations, some labor regulations and other government mandates were noble and virtuous goals, but we mustn’t over do it by trying to be too noble and virtuous. Could it be that people no longer believe that it’s virtuous to take poison with their food?
Some of the media morons might be having some doubts but the majority still thinks that a little bit of poison will act like a digestive and be good for you. The conference had a CEO wanting reviving business by making it "cool." So it's not the principles involved but the cool factor which is important. In response to this appealing to "feelings", Mike say:

Never mind appealing to anyone’s mind, their reason, or their own moral and constitutional right to make the cars they want to make with the kind of fuel efficiency and emissions people are willing to pay for. No. We must figure out a way to make life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the prosperity it brings, ‘cool’. In a culture where sacrificial emotions take precedence over reason, the more consistent emotionalists will prevail. That’s why Obama, Pelosi and Reid are now in charge.
Mr. Finely also talks of the free market lesson one of the Senators got from a CEO who just ended up extolling the Senator to fine tune his powers to distribute the resources. This is a classic case of "sanction of the victim." Instead of standing up to these leeches, businessmen all over the world are convinced about their mortal sin of being producers, originators of that horrible word, dare I say it - profit. They should listen to Yaron Brook, who said in his keynote speech to the Virginia Republicans," businessmen are the heroes."

I see Industrialists coming on TV every year after the broadcast of that marvel of Socialism - budget, the annual exercise of allocation of resources in India by the Finance Minister. Their companies are in hands of one man and I have yet to see even one business federation give the budget a thumbs down. They just make polite noises (could have been better.) The business schools need to make Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal mandatory reading.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gallery - Virtual autopsies dissect humans and animals - New Scientist

"These 3D scans of human and animals bodies recently earned the Lennart Nillson Award for scientific photography and were created by Anders Persson, director of the Center for Medical Image Science and Visualization at Linköping University, Sweden.

Persson and his colleagues have refined CT scanning, even allowing police to perform 'virtual autopsies'. Their images have featured prominently in CSI."

Flying Jeep

Defense Tech: Awesome: Israelis to Test "Flying Jeep" in Two Months

New Leonard Peikoff Podcast

Leonard Peikoff has posted a new podcast of philosophical Q&As on his Web site. Topics covered include Alcoholics Anonymous; the difference between sympathy and pity; and the meaning of Christmas.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jihad Watch: US taxpayers fund former Gitmo inmates in Bermuda paradise

American Hero's

Buka: 16 June 1943

"For this single mission by a single aircraft two crewman, Jay Zeamer and Joseph Sarnoski would each receive the Medal of Honor. It was over Buka that pilot Jay Zeamer heard reports from bombardier Sarnoski, and other crewman, that approximately twenty Japanese Zero fighters were taking off and heading their way. Zeamer knew that if they didn't complete their mission someone else would have to be sent out over the dangerous Northern Solomons. He also understood that the lives of many soldiers and Marines depended upon accurate knowledge of conditions at the invasion target. So, Zeamer continued with the mission.

The result was an epic of aerial combat. For forty minutes the lone B-17 fought against overwhelming outs. All but two of the crew were wounded, some seriously. Joseph Sarnoski died at his gun in the nose of the aircraft after shooting down at least two of the Zeros. When "Old 666" returned to Dobodura it was a flying wreck. Jay Zeamer had passed out during the return flight due to loss of blood, as had copilot J.T. Britton. Top turret gunner John Able flew the B-17 home. The pilots returned to consciousness just in time to land the aircraft. Dogfights recreates this incredible battle:"

See the video.

One Common Ancestor Behind Blue Eyes

Are you blue eyed? Not only do you share your ancester with other blue eyed people, you will also have more kids.

Extraordinary clouds

Well, this proves it can be grey and beautiful. These pictures are really unbelievable. Some of my favourites clouds are (I am not making this up) pink UFOs, cap cloud, and mammatus is not what it might suggest.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Will America learn from Argentina?

Mary O'Grady gives a dire warning in this WSJ.com article "Kirchner vs. The Press" saying "give government 'crisis' power and you won't get it back." She gives the example of Argentina:
In the wake of the country's 2002 economic collapse, the Argentine Congress gave the executive immense powers on the grounds that the circumstances called for extraordinary government action.
Seven years later those powers have not been rescinded and the state dominates the economy as an owner and regulator. Argentina now faces the threat of a further consolidation of control by President Cristina Kirchner through means similar to those employed by Hugo Chávez. As in Venezuela, free speech and the free press are being targeted for increased repression.
Let this be a lesson to any modern democracy that cedes broad power to government in a time of crisis: Granting power to the executive is easy; getting it back isn't.
Today in America there are similarities which should alarm anybody not wanting America to go follow Argentina's authoritarian path. A little bit more from WSJ on Argentina:
Argentina has moved from democratic capitalism -- no matter how weak -- to an increasingly repressive and isolated state-controlled economic system. Property-rights protection has been eviscerated. Entrepreneurs have been cowed into silence by state threats of tax investigations and regulatory harassment. State-sponsored street thugs target businesses that resist the presidency's agenda.
We have already seen the shape of things to come with Banking sector and now with Auto sector. The way Chrysler's secured debt holders were treated can only be called fascist tactics. One of the debt holders was threatened by the White House to back off. WSJ further reports:
From his earliest days as president, Mr. Kirchner tried to keep media critics quiet by using the government's publicity budget to reward supporters and starve those outlets that dared to print criticism.
We have seen the reports of selective closing down of GM dealerships who had supported the Republicans in the elections. With bailouts in fashion and its arbitrary distribution, one financial institution is rescued and other is not. The financial regulations cause the chaos in the markets and then those very regulators decide who stays and who goes. The article also talks about Argentinian government's drafting of a new radio and television law that, if approved, seems sure to quash media freedom. With Obama having made his position clear on media consolidation it's not going to be long before he makes his move in this direction.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and the World Today

“Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and the World Today”: An Interview with Yaron Brook

"Yaron Brook: In Atlas Shrugged we see a world crumbling under the weight of government interventions and regulations. The economy has ground to a halt. Roads and bridges are breaking down, buildings are falling apart, new inventions are few and far between, and each day more and more businesses are shutting their doors. The government blames greed and the free market, frantically imposes further controls, but the crisis only deepens.

The similarities to today are striking. Since the start of our current crisis, we’ve been told that the free market and “greedy” businessmen are to blame, and that the only solution is to hand progressively more power over to the government. We’re hearing the same charges, and seeing the same policies, with the same destructive consequences that Rand wrote about more than half a century ago.

In Atlas, we even read about a “banker with a heart of gold” who went out of business after lending to borrowers on the basis of their “need” rather than their ability to repay. Anyone who understands how the government’s “affordable housing” crusade led to an orgy of subprime lending can appreciate Rand’s foresight [see Richard M. Salsman, “Altruism: The Moral Root of the Financial Crisis”]. "

Read the complete article.

The meaning of Inflation

Most people have trouble understanding the meaning of inflation. Jim May at The New Clarion has done a wonderful job in this article "Say’s Revenge" of explaining this very immoral tool of governments around the world. The lack of understanding of Inflation has today encouraged governments (with help from Keynesian economists) to turn this method to covert stealing into an overt act of robbery.

"As Milton Friedman correctly wrote, inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. By extension, therefore, so is deflation — which is why, contrary to mainstream economists, we are not in a truly deflationary period at present, insofar as there is no reduction in the supply of *money* that has happened over the last two years. Rather, it is demand destruction that has been happening, and that’s a horse of a different color."

Read the whole article.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Remanence : Variance (Tokyo time lapse)

Samuel Cockedey

Music is "Is That What Everybody Wants" from Cliff Martinez's soundtrack for Solaris

(via Look at this...)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ferrari-Citroen Mashup Makes Us Say Mamma Mia! and Sacrebleu! Wired.com

Positive thinking's negative results

This article in the The Economist claims,"for some people, optimistic thoughts can do more harm than good" which doesn't surprise me. It says:
Self-help books through the ages, including Norman Vincent Peale’s 1952 classic, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, have encouraged people with low self-esteem to make positive self-statements. New research, however, suggests it may do more harm than good.
Baseless optimism not in sync with reality will definitely do harm. It is bad for individuals and it is bad for societies. People today seem to be high on this opium of ignoring reality and indulging in baseless optimism. I'll quote from the "Brief summary of Objectivism."

The universe exists independent of consciousness. Man is able to adapt his background to his own requirements, but "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed" (Francis Bacon). There is no mental process that can change the laws of nature or erase facts. The function of consciousness is not to create reality, but to apprehend it. "Existence is Identity, Consciousness is Identification."

The philosophic source of this viewpoint and its major advocate in the history of philosophy is Aristotle. Its opponents are all the other major traditions, including Platonism, Christianity, and German idealism. Directly or indirectly, these traditions uphold the notion that consciousness is the creator of reality. The essence of this notion is the denial of the axiom that existence exists.

Today people seem to be in the business of recreating reality whole sale for other people. It is a lack of philosophy which makes these people live in a chimeric world. It is easy to retreat from reality even when you have caught glimpses of it because it is so god damned harsh. Now it is tough to cure a disease if you can't diagnose it in the first place. If we have an inkling of reality then all the "positive self-statements" in the world will not fool us and instead cause even more distress as claimed by the Economist article. It is the other lot who is "blind" and flailing about asking for the very next confident con artist to come to his help who are in a worse shape.

What is required is a system of philosophy advocating reason. It exists in form of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, presented in detail in works- both non-fiction and fiction (Atlas Shrugged, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, The Virtue of Selfishness.)
In her own words, Objectivism, holds that:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3, Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Objectivist Roundup #100

A landmark Objectivist Roundup #100.
Fishing Spider Eating Frogs (National Geographic)
One variety has six or eight eyes and a moving retina with which it focuses on the prey. This clip shows one catch a frog, inject the venom, and liquefy the insides. Check this news item from BBC "Fish-eating spider invades Wales" from 2003. The headline is more exciting then the actual news.

Most spiders I deal with are not so interesting. I come across quite a few on the farm. I once discovered a big one sitting on my head while I was driving (no I didn't crash the car, it was flicked out through the window.)
The Seven Types of Bookstore Customers. (Via GeekPress.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Army’s New Black Hawk Popular Science
"Thirty Years Strong: The Army salutes a reliable copter with a revamp "
David Brooks -- A Modern Day Peter Keating by Harry Binswanger -- Capitalism Magazine
"To plumb the depths at the NY Times: I think David Brooks is worse than Paul Krugman. Krugman is a cynical deceiver, who distorts every fact to fit his lust for dictatorship. Brooks, who represents the worst strain of conservatism, actually believes his views, and those views are not just anti-freedom (Krugman) but anti-reason."

Yaron Brook at his best

Republican Party of Virginia 2009 State Convention—Keynote Address — ARCTV
FT.com- Judge defends US code of commerce

130-megapixel monster

Bouncing Red Ball » "Japanese camera buff builds 130-megapixel scanner camera for next to nothing. The images are huge: 13,068 x 10,173 pixels. (The standard resolution of an average sized computer monitor is about 1024 x 768 pixels.)"
(via Popular Science)

Check this image on Flickr. He's got me thinking about doing something with my old scanner. Now I just have to find a serial port cable.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bullion and Bandits

Bullion and Bandits: The Improbable Rise and Fall of E-Gold
E-Gold founder Doug Jackson wanted to solve the world's economic woes, but got an electronic ankle bracelet for his troubles. That's what you get for trying to “advance the material welfare of mankind.” Highly recommended.

Conservatives and liberals- Are they any different?

In my last post "Conservatism- Intellectual backbone wanted" I wrongly assumed that Conservatism could be backed by an intellectual backbone. In his comment on the same post Burgess Laughlin said:
Conservatism, by definition, opposes capitalism. Conservat-ISM is an ideology, the ideology that holds four values as its guide: God (or religion generally), Tradition, Nation, and Family (as in "family values"). Philosophically these values mean supernaturalism, mysticism, and altruism. The step from those to statism is very short -- and it usually involves the nationalistic sort of statism.
Today I read an article "Are you a conservative or a liberal? by Linn and Ari Armstrong which addresses the issue of what exactly do conservative and liberal tags actually mean. They define both as:
What does it mean to be a conservative? Many of the same conservatives who claim to support free markets and liberty also endorse economic protectionism, censorship, welfare spending, corporate welfare, immigration restrictions, prohibitions of various substances and activities that violate nobody's rights, abortion bans, and so on.

Liberalism, one might think, has something to do with liberty. Yet today's liberals endorse political economic planning on a vast scale. They typically want to forcibly redistribute more wealth, impose controls on private property, and impose more “enlightened” forms of censorship.

Many of today's conservatives and liberals find common cause in the belief that politicians should largely control your life.
The above description renders the tags meaningless as they both lead to the same thing- a mixed Government. Armstrong's also mention Thomas Paine's discussions with Edmund Burke in his "Rights of Man" where Paine defines mixed government as:
A mixed government is an imperfect everything, cementing and soldering the discordant parts together by corruption, to act as a whole. In the mixed Government there is no responsibility: the parts cover each other till responsibility is lost; and the corruption then moves the machine, contrives at the same time its own escape.
Paine goes on to offer the alternative.
But in a well-constituted republic, nothing of this soldering, praising, and pitying, can take place; the representation being equal throughout the country, and complete in itself, however it maybe into legislative ans executive, they all have one and the same natural source. The parts are not foreigners to each other, like democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. As there are no discordant distinctions, there is nothing to corrupt by compromise, nor confound by contrivance.
In the end nobody says it better than Ayn Rand who is quoted by the authors as saying:
“The basic and crucial political issue of our age is: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism. For decades, this issue has been silenced, suppressed, evaded, and hidden under the foggy, undefined rubber-terms of ‘conservatism' and ‘liberalism' which had lost their original meaning and could be stretched to mean all things to all men.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

Conservatism- Intellectual backbone wanted

This article on American Chronicle "William F. Buckley vs. Ayn Rand: Ayn Rand's Revenge" highlights the reasons for demise of conservatives in last 50 years. It shows William F. Buckley Jr.´s antipathy towards Rand and her idea's.

"The important point here involves Buckley, but it involves a lot more. The issue with Buckley is that he truly had nothing to contribute intellectually. And when faced with a true intellectual like Rand, all he could do was guttersnipe. Yet the wider point pertains to conservatism today. Until it begins to intellectually justify itself in a logical way, conservatism will remain lost, and statism will continue its march. Rand provided the intellectual justification for capitalism and liberty and she did so by reference to the fundamental metaphysical facts of reality and human existence. She did not appeal to tradition or the supernatural. She appealed to the rational. And the public has been responding to her ever since."

I think the above argument is equally applicable to a lot of conservative parties around the world. Here in India the BJP which tasted heavy defeat is floundering after a second consecutive defeat by the leftist Congress party. It's vacillation in defining itself as a religious right or a more forward looking free-market one has cost it dear. Although BJP did well during it's tenure, it is this failure to define it's identity in clear and precise terms which today has left it virtually rudderless.

Immigration and Individual Rights

One of the best articles I have read on TOS is "Immigration and Individual Rights" by Craig Biddle. I have a special interest in this issue as I plan to immigrate to America one day. Craig says in this article:

Every year, millions of people seek to immigrate to the United States, and with good reason: Opportunities to improve their lives abound here. Immigrants and would-be immigrants want to pursue the American dream. Whether or not they would put it in these terms, they want to be free to think and act on their best judgment; they want to produce wealth and keep and use it as they see fit; they want to make better lives for themselves and their families. In other words, foreigners want to come to America for the same reason the Founding Fathers established this republic: They want lives of liberty and happiness.

Immigration is the act of moving to a country with the intention of remaining there. Morally speaking, if a person rationally judges that immigrating to America would be good for his life, he should immigrate; a rational morality holds that one should always act on one’s best judgment. But does a foreigner have a right to move to America? And should America welcome him? Yes, he does—and yes, she should. Recognition of these facts was part and parcel of this country’s founding.

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations And Religions; whom we shall wellcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct they appear to merit the enjoyment.

Unfortunately this pro-immigration attitude, expressed by George Washington in 1783, has all but vanished from American politics. Indeed, the policies of America—the republic built by and for immigrants—have become hostile to immigrants.

People today in most countries who even want to visit are interrogated at the embassies during the interview with suspicion. When they ask if you intend to settle in U.S. and if you hesitate even for a second, you can wave your tourist visa goodbye. Craig goes on to mention some brilliant American immigrants like Ayn rand, Issac Asimov and a lot others who would have been denied entry under today's laws and how immigration to the land of liberty is now largely prohibited by American law. He goes on to say:
This prohibition, however, is un-American and immoral. The basic principle of America—the principle of individual rights—demands a policy of open immigration.
Open immigration does not mean that anyone may enter the country at any location or in any manner he chooses; it is not unchecked or unmonitored immigration. Nor does it mean that anyone who immigrates to America should be eligible for U.S. citizenship—the proper requirements of which are a separate matter. Open immigration means that anyone is free to enter and reside in America—providing that he enters at a designated checkpoint and passes an objective screening process, the purpose of which is to keep out criminals, enemies of America, and people with certain kinds of contagious diseases.2 Such a policy is not only politically right; it is morally right.
He further explains at length why it is moral and that to prohibit a person from immigrating to the U.S. is to violate his right to act on his judgment; it is to retard his ability to live a life proper to man; it is to commit a moral crime. I almost got up and applauded when I read this. He then explains the invalidity of the arguments against open immigration one point at a time. They include protection of culture, crime, jobs, welfare, terrorism, and more. One of the more controversial issue's he discusses is the solution to the problem of the estimated 12 million “illegal” immigrants currently residing in the America. His solution is:

In light of the immoral and illegitimate law they “broke” by moving to (or remaining in) America—and in light of the suffering they have endured by being labeled “illegal” (e.g., having to live in the shadows, not being able to market their goods or services openly, not being able to use banks or credit cards, etc.)—the solution to the problem of so-called “illegals” is to grant them unconditional amnesty and a presidential apology. Just as the principle of individual rights mandates open immigration, so too it mandates amnesty for those whose moral actions were made “criminal” by immoral laws. (“Amnesty” is really the wrong word, as one logically should not have to be “pardoned” for having acted morally, but there is no accurate word for what has been necessitated by our irrational immigration policy.)

Some argue that granting amnesty to “illegal” immigrants would make a mockery of the rule of law and that “illegals” broke our laws and should be held accountable for having done so. On the contrary, what mocks the rule of law is the existence and attempted enforcement of anti-immigration laws...

Upholding the rule of law does not mean upholding whatever laws happen to be on the books. Should the citizens of Nazi Germany have turned Jews over to the Gestapo? Nazi law dictated that they must. Would the refusal to obey that law have been a mockery of the rule of law?

Upholding the rule of law does not mean enforcing illegitimate laws; it means establishing and maintaining a government and legal system based on the objective social requirements of human life—namely: the recognition and protection of individual rights. Laws that violate individual rights are illegitimate laws, and such laws morally must be repealed.

He ends this article by offering a five-point plan to achieve a rights-respecting and thus moral immigration policy for the U.S. which as he says," will require substantial time, effort, and intellectual activism, but there is no shortcut; these are the actions necessary to solve the misnamed “immigration problem,” which is, in fact, a problem of too few Americans recognizing, embracing, and upholding the basic principle on which America was founded."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bailing out a generation

I was reading a popsci article about Dean Kamen who till now I knew as the inventor of the two-wheeled Segway human-transportation device, the much hyped transporter. It was codenamed Ginger and the founder of 3Com, the high-tech wireless company, said, quote, "It'll be bigger than the Internet." Well! it wasn't, but Kamen is still one of the most prolific inventors around and this is what he had to say about the bailouts back in January:

"You can bail out the banks by printing money, but you can't bail out a generation of dumb people by printing diplomas. Although I personally think printing more money is about as dumb as printing diplomas."

He has even been quoted by the greatest living advocate of printing money, the Keynesian economist Thomas Freidman in NYT.

D-Day Tech

Archive Gallery: D-Day Tech Popular Science: "On the 65th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy, a look at the military tech of D-Day, as covered in our pages"

(via Instapundit)

A Few Words From the Supreme Commander

The Dougout: "Reading history makes me nostalgic for a "better, vanished time" when America was led by men. That is men and women who did not evade facts. Who did not denigrate America, and its people, at every opportunity, including D-Day speeches on Omaha Beach. Who did not chronically apologize for the nation's existence. Who did not give the benefit of the every doubt (and laptop computers) to the nation's sworn enemies."

Sotomayor and Thomas- will reason win the race?

The Malaysian Insider highlights the difference between the two judges Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Clarence Thomas. If Sotomayor wins the nomination she will be only second minority judge. This is where the similarity ends. Sotomayor reveled in her racial identity and used it to describe why she would be better then a white man in coming to a better decision. Thomas regretted mentioning his race on his Yale application and tried to escape the stigmatising effects of racial preference as he describes it in his autobiography.

Supreme Court is the ultimate yardstick of justice and how badly will it be damaged by Sotomayors blatant racism is yet to be seen. However it is a foregone conclusion that by the end of Obama's term the damage caused to America as a nation will take a long time to repair.

Drive thru truth

I'll just post the picture of this Memphis-area Burger King franchisee’s. For the reactions around the world to the fur our this sacrilege (global warming is the new religion you know) has caused read about it on Tim Blair Blog.

(Pic via the Memphis Flyer)

I'll just quote J.J. McNelis, marketing president of the company running the Burger King franchise, who said:
"If someone wants to stand up and say “Global Warming is Baloney”, then I’m all for it. It doesn’t matter to me, whether I believe in it or not. They have first amendment rights to say whatever’s on their mind. And nobody dictates otherwise."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Taser, With Love

Simple Justice: Taser, With Love From Niagara Falls (Update)
"When the Niagara Falls police put their heads together and decided that tasing a guy was the best idea for collecting a DNA sample, I "tsked". That, apparently, is why I'm not sitting on the big bench, like Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza. I lack her imagination. From the Buffalo News:
It is legally permissible for police to zap a suspect with a Taser to obtain a DNA sample, as long as it’s not done “maliciously, or to an excessive extent, or with resulting injury,” a county judge has ruled in the first case of its kind in New York State, and possibly the nation.
Not to nitpick, but does that mean the intentional infliction of pain in order to obtain compliance with an ex parte order is fine as long as it's done lovingly? Must they cradle the taser in their warm and caring hands before they fire? Just asking."
(via The Volokh Conspiracy )

Spreading the piracy

Are we going to hear the old pirate song (Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!) in many different languages? It's possible if the problem spreads. Strategypage makes an interesting point that the wildly reported success (more than $50 million ransom) has the potential to encourage piracy and outright thefts from the ships worldwide. It is already costing shipping industry (besides costing the affected countries-see graphic) more in hiring specializes security firms, in training their people, and proving non-lethal equipment to fend-off pirates. For now it is limited to the select routes which bypass Somalia but if the problem spreads then the costs could rapidly escalate.

Read ARI's solution for ending the pirate crisis. I quote from the article:
“When America has once again earned a reputation as a power that none dare cross,” Mr. Journo concluded, “we won’t have to worry about pirates.”
Well! if America earns that reputation then we won't have to worry about a lot of other villains (Islamic terrorists, Iran, North Korea) as well.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Erosophia: Objectivist Blog Carnival
The Strange History of Shorts - WSJ Magazine

Beyond modern nation states - The China Post

Sometimes you find interesting stuff in the unlikeliest of places. Taiwan's leading English-language newspaper The China Post has this nice editorial extolling the virtues of constitutional republicanism. The article "Beyond modern nation states" states:

The modern nation state is the instigator and perpetuator of the war of all against all because it is a perpetrator of injustice. It is a perpetrator of injustice because it “robs Peter to pay Paul.” It robs Peter to pay Paul because it is endeavoring to re-engineer society. It is endeavoring to re-engineer society because it has exceeded its original charter, which was merely to defend against aggression.
Does this sound familiar in times of Obamanomics? In fact it is true of almost all countries today and with our Obama the Robin Hood the long crumbling bastion of Republicanism seems to have fallen. The Post goes on to blast the "free and fair elections" as an excuse for all excesses.
Champions of democracy believe the modern nation state is well within its rights to coerce individuals, as long as it performs certain rituals as “free and fair” elections, plebiscites, and referenda.
It advocates repudiating democracy and reaffirming constitutional republicanism to counter the power that makes the modern nation state a constant threat to all its citizens.

The Top 8 ‘Oh Shit!’ Moments from Mixed Martial Arts

I actually said ‘Oh Shit!’ while simultaneously laughing at the hilarious and most entertaining writing (warning-colorful language). This one is a must read even if you are not a fight fan.
Michael Bay: Making Movies, Enemies and Money - Forbes.com

Tiananmen - Remembering China's monstrous deed

Struggle Against Forgetting June 4 - Forbes.com:
"Tiananmen, 20 Years Later

Hong Kong's Tiananmen Square vigil drew a record crowd."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Obama's Cairo speech

If you are as outraged as I am after reading his speech then read what The Charlotte Capitalist had to say in "The United States Of America And Islam Have Nothing Fundamental In Common". Here's an excerpt:
There are few greater scams or sins ever committed by an American president than the one committed by President Barack Obama today. The United States of America is at war. At war, not just on the battlefield, but in the realm of ideas. We are in the ongoing war between reason and faith. An American president has just yielded to the enemy.
A Quick History of The Laser : COED Magazine

George Reisman on demise of GM

Reisman in this post discusses the demise General Motors. He talks about it's glorious history.
It was once not only the world’s greatest and most prosperous automobile company but the world’s greatest and most prosperous manufacturing company. Its success, wealth, and economic power, were symbolic of the success, wealth, and economic power of the United States.
He mentions the reasons for this devastating and depressing loss. He talks about the unfortunate election of the wealth redistributive Obama. Isn't it ironic that the politicians who talk about redistributing wealth are the ones who ultimately cause it's destruction and in the end there is nothing left to distribute. They are like leaches whose bellies are never full and they never drop off. They are the parasites who destroy their host. That's why the countries who choose this path of anti-capitalism have a dark future. We have seen this time and again but it's the ignorance and denial which makes sure that history will keep repeating itself.

I suggest reading George Reisman's Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics. A free pdf replica is available for download. I am reading this book and I can tell you that reading economics with an Objectivist angle (Reisman knew Ayn Rand) is quite unique and illuminating.

Reismans blog is back on blogger. Read about Google's stupid handling of the whole affair.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Right to bear arms


Guns have been so fetishized and derided in our politically correct and increasingly suburbanized culture that they have transformed into this huge monster that clouds what firearms really are and always have been
To rural folks who grew up with guns in their house, firearms are just a way of life. You learn what they are, how to use them safely, and what not to use them — for ever.
They are, in fact, a tool. A dangerous tool to be sure but no more than a circular saw or a chainsaw.
Most Americans don't appreciate the right to bear arms. The increasing tendency to look at the nanny state to do everything for them has become a bad habit. While it is the job of government to protect a citizen from violence, it would be foolish to give up your own right to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your property. Increasing dilution of the gun-right laws should be a concern for all Americans.

I live in a virtual police state where owning a gun is almost impossible unless you happen to have an old license. Freedom is most appreciated in places where it is missing. Owning a gun in India is only possible for the privileged few who are politicians , have connections with them, or can afford to dole out huge bribes for the license.

Abhijeet Singh whose web-site is an excellent resource on gun ownership laws in India talks about the history of Indian law.

India became independent in 1947, but it still took 12 years before this act was finally repealed. In 1959 the British era Indian Arms Act, 1878 (11 of 1878.) was finally consigned to history and a new act, the Arms Act, 1959 was enacted. This was later supplemented by the Arms Rules, 1962. Unfortunately this new legislation was also formulated based on the Indian Government's innate distrust its own citizens. Though somewhat better than the British act, this legislation gave vast arbitrary powers to the "Licensing Authorities", in effect ensuring that it is often difficult and sometimes impossible for an ordinary law abiding Indian citizen to procure an arms license.
He goes on and describes the current scenario.

This changed towards the mid to late 1980s, when the Government, citing domestic insurgency as the reason, put a complete stop to all small arms imports. The fact that there is no documented evidence of any terrorists ever having used licensed weapons to commit an act of terror on Indian soil seems to be of no consequence to our Government. The prices of (legal & licensed) imported weapons have been on an upward spiral ever since - beating the share market and gold in terms of pure return on investment.
Abhijeet's blog also mentions a news report where people used rocks to fight the terrorists during the Mumbai terror attack . Can you imagine that? They actually threw rocks to protect the Jewish center which was the terrorist's target. The terrorists shot back with AK-47's and threw grenades at them. The police which is good only for extortion was missing. Finally 195 people were killed and many more seriously injured.

Image courtesy Oleg Volk - http://www.olegvolk.net/

I believe in what Ayn Rand said:

The necessary consequence of man’s right to life is his right to self-defense. In a civilized society, force may be used only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.

If some “pacifist” society renounced the retaliatory use of force, it would be left helplessly at the mercy of the first thug who decided to be immoral. Such a society would achieve the opposite of its intention: instead of abolishing evil, it would encourage and reward it.

“The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness.

The kick-ass rifle

I read this article in Strategypage some time back about afghans rediscovering The Lee-Enfield rifle. It really amused me, since in India it has been in constant use since it was invented in 1885. More then 17 million have been made since then and the Ishapore factory in India still makes it. This rifle has seen a lot of history and I have seen this rifle at very close quarters. In fact, hind quarters is the right term since I got hit in the butt by the Lee-Enfield rifle stock. I wince every time I hear the term rifle-butt.

It was for a noble cause and very long time back (no pun-too painful). As mentioned in my post "Definition of Excessive force" it was 1991 and I was protesting with a lot of students against reservations in educational institutions based on a persons caste. I was waving a black flag and right on the front lines. We were moving towards the parliament when the Indian Gestapo (police) started shooting tear-gas at the crowd. I used the flag to pick up the tear-gas shells and threw it right back and suddenly everybody started doing that. I was single-handedly responsible for demise of that metal canister tear-gas (or so I would like to believe) since the next time they started using the ones which burst on contact.

So to make the long story short I was in the front, waving the flag when the police on horses charged. I stood my ground for a while and when I looked back the others were long gone. I said," bloody cowards " and ran like a gazelle. Too late, one of the policemen on side-lines ran swinging his rifle with full force and hit me hard on my rear-end. I thankfully didn't fall and kept running. I managed to crawl into a building and avoided going to the jail. I couldn't walk for a few days and needless to say standing was preferable to sitting. So the moral of the story is that never be at the rear-end (pun intented-pain fades with time) of a retreating protesting crowd when the police charge.

I had a friend with me that day. He had promised his family that he would not join the protest. We lost contact when the chaos started. The next day his father called him and asked him how was yesterday. He started with his story which was cut short when his father showed him the newspaper. It had a big picture of him running with a big Sikh policeman on a big horse chasing him with a raised baton. We had a good laugh over the whole episode.

After a week my local magazine vendor showed me the cover of the a magazine and guess what? I was there in full color with a bunch of other people. It was an interesting picture because it had something else; one of the guys caught in a naughty act (to put it mildly). I have that magazine with me somewhere so I will try to upload the cover soon.