Sunday, July 19, 2009

Harry Binswanger List - Free for a while

[via Ayn Rand India]

Management Resources

I rediscovered an interesting management site. It has a management enclyclopedia and a business dictionary. Some of the things I read about are competitive advantage (porter), Ashridge mission modal, positioning (Trout Ries), and SWOT analysis.

Speaking of management, I recently read Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles by Peter F. Drucker. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Here's an excerpt from the book taken from this review:

"Sometimes, there is a dissonance between reality and the perception of reality in an industry. This may offer innovative opportunities, according to Drucker.
For example, Drucker mentions the evolution of the ship container industry. While established shipping companies focused on cutting transit time and cost by making ocean-going ships faster and more cost effective, this really wasn't the key. Ships were already very efficient in transit.

Rather, the real problem with the shipping industry was the loading and unloading of cargo, which kept ships in port and tied up valuable harbor space. When the shipping container was developed, it could be pre-loaded on land before the ship arrived. The pre-loaded container could then quickly be loaded onto the ship when the ship arrived in port. This made ocean transit much more cost effective and efficient. Drucker notes that the big cost of ocean transit was having ships held up in port, effectively tying up a capital asset without being able to utilize its full earnings capability."

Drucker was recommended by John Drake. Here's what he had to say about Drucker:

"In a previous post, I have recommend Peter Druker's The Practice of Management. In my opinion, he is by far the best business writer to have lived. One of the things I love about Drucker is his clarity. Take for instance his definition of business purpose:

"There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. "

Whether or not you agree with this definition, there is no question what his definition is. In the next paragraph, he goes on to say:

"Markets are not created by God, nature, or economic forces but by businessmen. The want they satisfy may have been felt by the customer before he was offered the means of satisfying it. It may indeed, like the want for food in famine, have dominated the customer's life and filled all his waking moments. But it was a theoretical want before; only when the action of businessmen makes it effective demand is there a customer, a market."

Drucker directly ties the purpose of business to reality. His objectivity makes Drucker stand head and shoulders above the rest. He writes in a style similar to Ayn Rand. He makes bold statements, but proceeds to justify his statement with analysis of reality and identifying the essentials. He explores all the major options (God, nature, economic forces, and businessmen) and proceeds to explain why it must be businessmen that create markets, hence customers. It is the actions of businessmen, of creating products where none existed previously, that creates the market."

Gangster Government

Michele Bachmann, representative from Minnesota explains the transition of the American government into a gangster government. She talks about the nationalization of GM and its consequences. Thank you Sarita, for pointing it out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Focus — For the "Big Boss"

I am very focused right now.

Focus — Ayn Rand Lexicon:
"“Focus” designates a quality of one’s mental state, a quality of active alertness. “Focus” means the state of a goal-directed mind committed to attaining full awareness of reality. It’s the state of a mind committed to seeing, to grasping, to understanding, to knowing.

“Full awareness” does not mean omniscience. It means: commitment to grasp all the facts relevant to one’s concern and activity at any given time . . . as against a splintered grasp, a grasp of some facts while others which you know to be relevant are left in fog. By “full” I include also the commitment to grasp the relevant facts clearly, with the fullest clarity and precision one is capable of.

“Focus” is not synonymous with “thinking,” in the sense of step-by-step problem-solving or the drawing of new conclusions. You may be walking down the street, merely contemplating the sights, but you can do it in focus or out of focus. “In focus” would mean you have some purpose directing your mental activity—in this case, a simple one: to observe the sights. But this is still a purpose, and it implies that you know what you are doing mentally, that you have set yourself a goal and are carrying it out, that you have assumed the responsibility of taking control of your consciousness and directing it . . . ."

Leonard Peikoff, “The Philosophy of Objectivism

Leonard Peikoff Podcast #70 — ARCTV

"In Leonard Peikoff’s latest podcast of philosophical Q&As, topics include: the Ayn Rand Institute and record sales of Atlas Shrugged; the death of Michael Jackson; the opposition between altruism and capitalism; and intellectual property."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Don't care for ObamaCare

A bad day for Obamacare means, it's a good day for America.
A Bad Day For ObamaCare - Forbes:
"As opposition to a House plan grows, President Obama goes on the defensive to push for reform this year."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

India's new bride - Wal-Mart

People say yes to opening up of the retail sector in India with their money but the politicians say no way.
India's First Wal-Mart Draws Excitement, Not Protest -
In Punjabi, we have an expression: When there is a wedding, everyone flocks to see the new bride,' said Kamal Gambhir, a wholesaler whose congested offices are located in this city's oldest bazaar. 'I myself had returned from a trip and came back to hear little children asking, 'Where is the new Wal-Mart?'

3D printing - Rapid prototyping

Reminds me of some old sci-fi movie where the lasers created stuff out of thin air. We have come a long way.
James Dyson: Inventing the Wright way - New Scientist:
"The development of Dyson's domestic robots - indeed his entire invention process - is being boosted by 3D printing, also known as rapid prototyping. This technology allows the creation of 3D prototypes from a design created on a computer. The design is fed into a machine, which builds the object bit by bit using twin laser beams that fuse together layers of powdered nylon or metal. The result? Almost magically, you pull out from the dust a near perfect 3D 'printout' of the prototype you may later want to mass produce."

LA Times anti-business

This article by Alex Epstein highlights the anti-business nature of the media.
“A strong message to Black Street” — VOICES for REASON:

The day after Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years for committing a massive financial fraud, I saw the following big, bold headline in the Los Angeles Times:

A strong message to Wall Street

Think about what this headline implies. The conviction of one particular financier is regarded as a message to all financiers. That is outrageous.

Imagine if there were a mass-conviction of Mafia members and the LA Times wrote

A strong message to Italian-Americans

Monday, July 13, 2009

3D photographs

Fujifilm's FinePix Real 3D camera to launch in September, cost around $600

Houston, we have been locked out of the rocket

Ten fascinating facts about Apollo 11 Moon Landing from Craig Nelson's new book, Rocket Men. My favourites:

2. The Apollo computers had less processing power than a cellphone.
3. Drinking water was a fuel-cell by-product, but Apollo 11’s hydrogen-gas filters didn’t work, making every drink bubbly. Urinating and defecating in zero gravity, meanwhile, had not been figured out; the latter was so troublesome that at least one astronaut spent his entire mission on an anti-diarrhea drug to avoid it.
7. When Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface, he had to make sure not to lock the Eagle's door because there was no outer handle.
9. The flag was made by Sears, but NASA refused to acknowledge this because they didn’t want "another Tang."
Racism's cure found in private sector - Washington Times

[via Instapundit]

Ayn Rand, Mises and Gold

Dr. Richard Ebeling, free-market economist and admirer of Ayn Rand, in this interview explains free-market economics and why his prefers gold to dollar. He talks about his recovery of lost Ludwig von Mises papers from a formerly secret KGB archive in Moscow, Russia. His take on status of freedom around the world:
Many countries around the world that suffered from poverty and lived under socialist tyranny are now experiencing economic growth and prosperity. They have abandoned the 'socialist road" and have introduced, if not a free market, then at least freer market reforms. These changes have generated rising standards of living in parts of the world that have only known hunger and despair for all of recorded history.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Creatine for injuries

I never paid any attention to supplements when I was exercising regularly. I used to train rigorously and had developed a routine of my own over a period of time. It was a combination of Olympic lifting and regular training (quite similar to Crossfit.) I started with power lifting and graduated to the Olympic lifts. The training I used to do - surprised a lot of people at the local gym. Some was due to the amount of weight I lifted (not expected from an average guy with glasses) and some due to the exercises like overhead squats, weighted push ups, etc..

It was the shoes which proved to be the weak link. I used to do sprints on the treadmill with the same shoes with which I lifted weights. They were hiking Solomon hiking shoes which didn't do much for my foot (check Vibram Five Fingers - radical footwear.) I damaged my heel. During the recovery, a nearby house caught fire. While trying to help I damaged the heel even more. It didn't help that I live on the second floor and have a habit of climbing steps running. The prolonged heel damage some how affected the quads also.

I was pretty ok for a year or so but about three months back the quads started acting up again. I tried the physiotherapy which didn't help. I recently read this article on the heart scan blog which had this interesting article on creatine. The expense is a deterrent (imported stuff at twice the original price) but seems worth a try.

The Heart Scan Blog: Creatine: Not just for muscle heads:
Even if you’re not interested in building big muscles like a bodybuilder, there are health benefits to increasing muscle mass: increased bone density, better balance, and fewer injuries. Greater muscle mass means higher metabolic rate, improved insulin responsiveness, lower blood sugar. The inevitable loss of muscle mass of aging can lead to frailty, an increasingly common situation for the elderly. Muscle loss be reversed, health improved as a result.

A growing disconnect? Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek's gowing popularity

The mainstream media is finally noticing the growing disconnect. The philosophy of Ayn Rand and the economics of Friedrich Hayek are making an impact. Philadelphia Inquirer: Surge in sales of 2 books offers political hints.
There is a growing disconnect between the country's political class and its citizens. It was manifestly on display last month when the House approved the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, which in its final form was longer than Atlas Shrugged and which none of the members voting on it had read. That the free citizens of a free country would be served so cavalierly by their elected representatives is the sort of thing any good novelist would hesitate to invent, for fear it would seem too implausible.
[via (v.2)]

Statist Paternalism

Amit Ghate points to this description of paternalism written by Tocqueville in the 1830's in this Mark Steye editorial. Here is what Amit had to say about this quote,"I've never seen a more apt and eloquent characterization, and I particularly like how he differentiates what a father does from what a "paternal" state does." Here's the quote:

Over these is elevated an immense, tutelary power, which takes sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate. It is absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident, and gentle. It would resemble the paternal power if, like that power, it had as its object to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks, to the contrary, to keep them irrevocably fixed in childhood … it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their needs, guides them in their principal affairs…

The sovereign extends its arms about the society as a whole; it covers its surface with a network of petty regulations—complicated, minute, and uniform—through which even the most original minds and the most vigorous souls know not how to make their way… it does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them; rarely does it force one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting on one's own … it does not tyrannize, it gets in the way: it curtails, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
The sovereign "extends it's arm" with varying degrees. I have written a bit about the government holding a big stick in its extended arm, which is used liberally in India. So in a lot of countries, even the softening and bending would be a welcome relief. North Korea is another (extreme) example that comes to mind where one can't imagine anybody existing with their wills intact. The level of tyranny is mind boggling — the whole country is like a big concentration camp. Even more mind boggling is the indifference of the rest of the world. I guess most of the world is too busy trying not to get sucked into the same cesspool of totalitarianism. The response of the American government officially, is the suicidal policy of appeasement.

The "paternal state" has its origins in the monarchies founded in power, where the people are treated as the children of the king. We still hear about England's Queen mother — mother of the peasant masses is what it implies. Coming back to U.S., check this Paul Heish article in the Capitalism Magazine about King Obama's regulatory chief 's belief in libertarian paternalism:

The basic premise of libertarian paternalism is that the government should use its power to “nudge” people into acting in their best interest, while leaving them the choice to “opt out.” If the government decides that saving money is good, it would automatically divert a percentage of your paycheck into a savings account in your name unless you explicitly declined. Supporters claim that this preserves freedom because government is only changing the default, while leaving individuals the final choice. It is merely a gentle “nudge,” not a hard push.

However, nudging represents an assault on freedom, because it undermines man’s basic tool of survival — his mind. By creating a default, libertarian paternalism in essence says, “Don’t worry — we’ll do your thinking for you.” Sunstein’s book explicitly compares Americans to a bunch of Homer Simpsons in need of such guidance. If Americans surrender their minds to the government, they become easy prey for demagogues and dictators.
Paul goes on to say that,"every child knows that if you let a schoolyard bully get away with one seemingly harmless “nudge,” he will then escalate into shoving, then punching, then regular beatings." India is one perfect (or should I say horrible) example of that gentle Gandhi-Nehruvian socialist nudge escalating into a bone crunching beating of Nehru's daughter Indira Gandhi's emergency in 1977.

So is there no solution to this problem of overwhelming suffocation and oppression perpetuated by a group of people (government) on rest of us? Is it inevitable that the power corrupts and rest of us have to shrug, suffer, and swallow the bitter pill? No, we don't have to. Ayn Rand defined the nature of the government. She said that men can derive enormous benefits from dealing with one another but only on certain conditions.
The Nature of Government:

If men are to live together in a peaceful, productive, rational society and deal with one another to mutual benefit, they must accept the basic social principle without which no moral or civilized society is possible: the principle of individual rights.

To recognize individual rights means to recognize and accept the conditions required by man’s nature for his proper survival.

Man’s rights can be violated only by the use of physical force. It is only by means of physical force that one man can deprive another of his life, or enslave him, or rob him, or prevent him from pursuing his own goals, or compel him to act against his own rational judgment.

The precondition of a civilized society is the barring of physical force from social relationships—thus establishing the principle that if men wish to deal with one another, they may do so only by means of reason: by discussion, persuasion and voluntary, uncoerced agreement.

(December 1963)

“The Nature of Government,” from The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand.

Read more about Ayn Rand’s Philosophy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Are shoes bad for your feet?: "Now, a small but growing body of research suggests that barefoot is the way adults should run, too. So, many runners have been shucking off the high-tech trainers in favor of naked feet — or minimalist footwear like Nike Free, the Newton All-Weather Trainer and the glove-like Vibram FiveFingers."
Lawyer asks judge to force rival to wear nicer shoes - Boing Boing: “A lawyer in Florida filed a motion to force his rival to upgrade to newer shoes, on the grounds that his homely old hush puppies gave him an unfair advantage by projecting an air of unsophisticated honesty to the jury.”

Gaia gone in 96 months

That's what the Prince of Whales claims. Mark Steyn takes on the warm-mongers:

"Environmentalism opposes that kind of mobility. It seeks to return us to the age of kings when the masses are restrained by a privileged elite. Sometimes they will be hereditary monarchs, such as the Prince of Wales. Sometimes they will be merely the gilded princelings of the government apparatus – Barack Obama, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi. In the old days, they were endowed with absolute authority by God. Today, they're endowed by Mother Nature, empowered by Gaia to act on her behalf. But the object remains control – to constrain you in a million ways, most of which would never have occurred to Henry VIII, who, unlike the new cap-and-trade bill, was entirely indifferent as to whether your hovel was "energy efficient." The old rationale for absolute monarchy – Divine Right – is a tough sell in a democratic age. But the new rationale – Gaia's Right – has proved surprisingly plausible."

Read the article.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Ethics of paying for organ transplants

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs was in the news recently for a liver transplant. He had to travel to Tennessee due to its lesser waiting time. He was lucky, some people like the 11 year old Japanese boy had to travel to another country for his heart transplant. Although there are differences in organ transplant laws, the basic premise is the same. In most countries around the world no one can buy an organ.

This highlights the stupidity of laws which ban consensual dealing between adults. In fact in Japan you can't harvest the organs of a brain dead person even if his relatives consent to it. The cessation of brain function as human death was not accepted by Japan. This resulted in only 11 heart transplants in Japan compared with more than 2,000 in the U.S. A written will is required for organ donations and there is a ban on them from children under 15 - although this law seems set for some changes.

There was a sneaking suspicion that Jobs had paid for his transplant. It is unlikely. What is done by a lot of people is to enter a lot of queues (legal) and it helps to have a jet ready to fly wherever the turn comes up. The key question is if it really such an evil to pay someone for his organ? If the laws were changed to make payments to donors legal, the entire waiting list of 80000 people waiting for a kidney in U.S. would disappear in a matter of a year or so if not a few months and out of 20000 more waiting for other organs a majority would survive. A majority of lives will be saved unlike more than 85,000 U.S. citizens who have died waiting (pdf) for a solid transplant organ since 1995.

Countries like Spain, Norway, and Belgium have a unique solution to this problem. They consider all dead as organ donors unless they have opted out. This "presumed consent" law violates individual rights and don't take into account the individuals who have no intention of become a donor but die suddenly. In countries like India a patient can accept an organ donation only from a close relative unless a non-relative can prove that he is doing it for altruistic reasons and not money. This leads to doctors and agents who recruit kidney donors for patients for up to $10000 and a lot of kidney's being stolen from unsuspecting victims. In China there have been reports of prisoners being executed for their organs.

The Current U.S. Regulatory Framework under National Organ Transplantation Act (NOTA) specifically prohibits the sale of donor organs for transplantation though the ban does not apply to blood, sperm or ova. The solid organ donor program is purely voluntary, both for living and cadaveric (dead body) organ transplantation. The donation of organs by living people is heavily screened and the law says that people who want to donate organs should be either family or close friends. In spite of thousands of people dying waiting for an organ, there are many who see no problems with the present system. This has to do a lot with the altruistic nature of the system which is killing a lot of people.
Dr. Bruce Patsner in his article "Human Organ Transplantation in the U.S. – Crossing New Lines? ” (pdf) mentions some solutions are being implemented and some being proposed. One of them is the recent law by New Jersey which forces people getting driver’s license to make a decision about cadaveric organ donation. This is the altruist way of forcing you to take a decision, and making you feel guilty for saying no. The article mentions a growing movement of surgeons wanting to explore the option of “paying individuals money to provide an incentive for them to donate organs for transplantation after they have died.” Even here a lot of objections are raised - like donors hiding diseases (there are laws to tackle violations of contracts) and the possibility of the payment system extending to living donors.

There is a lot of opposition against the payment for organs to living donors. These are the same arguments given in cases of drug consumption and prostitution (acts between consenting adults.) The prevention of payment for organs is the worst of all violations of individual rights, as the denial of organs is the denial of life. According to Ayn Rand in “The Virtue of Selfishness”:

A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action; the right to life means the right to engage in self-sustaining and self-generated action—which means: the freedom to take all the actions required by the nature of a rational being for the support, the furtherance, the fulfillment and the enjoyment of his own life. (Such is the meaning of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.

Update: ...With Functioning Kidneys for All by Virginia Postrel
If transplant centers could pay $25,000 or $50,000 to each living kidney donor, many more people would line up to contribute.

Such payments could even save taxpayers billions of dollars. Long-term dialysis is a federal entitlement. Under a special law, Medicare covers everyone, regardless of age, who has made minimal Social Security tax payments—about 319,000 of the country’s 400,000 dialysis patients. Compared with dialysis payments, every transplant from a living, unrelated donor saves an expected present value of almost $100,000 in medical costs, according to a 2003 American Journal of Transplantation article by Matas and Mark Schnitzler, an economist then at Washington University in St. Louis and now at the Saint Louis University Center for Outcomes Research.
Eliminating the waiting list would thus save taxpayers $8 billion, or $4 billion if each living donor received a lump-sum payment of $50,000.

That purely financial estimate ignores the enormous benefits for the patients’ quality of life, of course. It also excludes the economic gains from returning to productive work—only about 10 percent of dialysis patients are employed even part-time—and the fiscal effects of paying taxes rather than receiving disability payments.
Read the complete article.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fans Flock to Mourn California, 1849-2009

A brilliant piece of satire from iowahawk. California and Michael Jackson are the stars of the piece. (HT: Mad Minerva 2.0)

A sample:
"LOS ANGELES - Millions of fans from around the globe gathered along Sunset Boulevard to pay final respects to California today, as a slow moving funeral procession transported the eccentric superstar state's remains to its final resting place in a Winchell's Donuts dumpster in Van Nuys. The self-proclaimed 'King of Pop Culture' died last week at 160, in what coroners ruled an accidental case of financial autoerotic asphyxiation. The death sent shock waves across the world and sparked an outpouring of grief by rabid fans.
'I don't care what the tabloids and the Wall Street Journal say,' said a weeping Illinois. 'I still love you, Cali!'
The 640-mile long funeral parade route was lined with flowers, candles, teddy bears, and IOUs from millions of mourners and debtors who made the somber journey to watch the passing of the state that had once ruled the box office and industrial charts. Among them were current chart-toppers who cited California as a key influence."

You just have to read the whole thing.

Why are the Bill of Rights failing?

Walter Williams of the Capitalism Magazine talks about the reasons why the founding fathers included the Bill of Rights along with the Constitution. Wasn't the Constitution enough to guarantee us those rights? Why did they feel the need to explicitly state those rights and was it enough to protect those right? Unfortunately in this current political scenario, even those explicitly stated rights have failed to stand up to the assault of the American politicians.

In fact the rot had started a long time ago and one of the first and most important contributors to start it was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of the Supreme Court. In his article in The Objectivist Standard "Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution" Thomas A. Bowden mentions the April 17, 1905, dissenting opinion of the Justice Holmes in the case of Lochner v. New York. The New York law setting maximum working hours for bakers was struck down by the majority but what really made this a landmark case was Holmes dissenting opinion.

The majority interpreted the Constitution as if it embodies a principled commitment to protecting individual liberty. But no such foundational principle exists, Holmes asserted, and the sooner judges realize they are expounding an empty Constitution—empty of any underlying view on the relationship of the individual to the state—the sooner they will step aside and allow legislators to decide the fate of individuals such as Joseph Lochner.
Health has been offered as one of the prime reason for violating the individual rights, like smoking in recent times. Its origins lie in the last century which can be seen in this case when the first New York appellate court held public’s power to promote health more important than the parties’ right to make employment contracts. The court held that the state held the "police power" as a part of its sovereignty to regulate for health reasons (even though there is no mention of police power in the Constitution.) It failed to define this power and pronounced it as proper for the purpose of the public benefit.

The New York court at least used the excuse of health as the reason for violating the individual rights, Justice Holmes's in his dissenting view didn't bother to use any excuses. He simple stated the Constitution placed no limits on this police power of the state and made no reference to protecting the individual rights. What was the basis for this argument which challenged the view of Constitution as placing limits on the power of the government? Amazingly it was supported by Justice Holmes's examples of other violations which routinely took place even in those days to further violate the individual rights.

How could liberty of contract possibly be a principle capable of yielding a decision in Lochner’s case, Holmes asked, when violations of such liberty are routinely permitted by law? “The liberty of the citizen to do as he likes so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of others to do the same,” Holmes observed, “is interfered with by school laws, by the Post Office, by every state or municipal institution which takes his money for purposes thought desirable, whether he likes it or not.” For good measure, he cited several cases in which the Court had recently approved laws prohibiting lotteries, doing business on Sunday, engaging in usury, selling stock on margin, and employing underground miners more than eight hours a day—each law a clear interference with contractual liberty.
That wasn't true, of course.

Holmes had to evade large swaths of evidence tending to show that the Constitution indeed embodies a substantive commitment to individual liberty. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders clearly stated their intent to create a government with a single purpose—the protection of individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Consistent with the Constitution’s Preamble, which declares a desire to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” every clause in the Bill of Rights imposes a strict limit on government’s power over individual liberty and property.
Holmes's dissenting view had a profound effect. His denial of Constitution as a protector of liberty was eagerly grasped by those who would have settled for any excuse to deny it.
Paul Rahe: Obama's tyrannical ambition:

Back in 1912, when Woodrow Wilson successfully ran for the presidency, he told his compatriots, "We are in the presence of a new organization of society." Our time marks "a new social stage, a new era of human relationships, a new stagesetting for the drama of life," and "the old political formulas do not fit the present problems: they read now like documents taken out of a forgotten age." What Thomas Jefferson once taught is now, he insisted, quite out of date.
Holmes's dissenting view become his most damaging and lasting legacy. According to Bowden, Ayn Rand once observed that Justice Holmes “has had the worst philosophical influence on American law.”

In his bleak universe, there exists no principled limit on government power, no permanent institutional barrier between ourselves and tyranny—and the government can dispose of the individual as it pleases, as long as procedural niceties are observed. This pernicious Holmesian influence is reflected in the declining stature of America’s judiciary
Today the rot has reached the level where the debate between the main parties is about the extent that the government violate the individual rights and not whether the Constitution allows it to or not. Thomas Bowden does a masterful job of refuting Holmes's case for the "empty Constitution" and shows it to be full of content which without a doubt protects the individual rights. Read the full article.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stimulating the reality away

Genius! - Mises Economics Blog:
"Economist Robert Frank has discovered a Ph.D powered economic perpetual motion machine that lifts itself by its own bootstraps, as explained by Mark Steyn:
The stimulus will work because enough economists are saying it will work that their prestigious postnominal credentials will impress enough of the masses into thinking it will work, which in turn will make it work."
Panasonic’s New Camcorder Packs 240GB Hard Drive Gadget Lab

Google PC Operating System - Chrome

Google is going to make a new PC operating system to take on Microsoft's dominant Windows. Google Chrome OS, an operating system designed from the ground up will be launched in the second half of 2010.

It's Google is saying to Microsoft that if you Bing us, we'll Chrome you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blogs Not Legitimate News Source?

Do blogs deserve journalism shield laws to protect a source. Not according to the Judge deciding this slander case. This lawsuit raises some important questions about blogging. Read the article and the comments, which are very interesting.

"the judge has now ruled that Hale is not protected by shield laws because she has "no connection to any legitimate news publication." This is troubling for a variety of reasons. First, it leaves open entirely to interpretation what exactly is a "legitimate news publication." "

Robot in Your Veins

So it's finally here. The much predicted robot has been developed at Israel's Technion University and it derives its power from external magnetic fields. The Virob will float in your circulatory system performing microsurgery.

[via Popular Science]

Leonard Peikoff Podcast

Leonard Peikoff Podcast #69 — ARCTV:
"In Leonard Peikoff’s latest podcast of philosophical Q&As, topics include: gays in the military; the role of values in romance; and the difference between Howard Roark and Peter Keating."
[via ARCTV]

Obama and Bernard Madoff

Most Americans have still not grasped the magnitude and the far-reaching effects of the national debt. Edward Cline makes an excellent attempt.

To grasp the magnitude of the national debt Obama (and his Republican predecessor) has been ringing up, a comparison should help illustrate the task. Bernard Madoff’s robbery and defrauding investors of some $50 billion can be represented by the diameter of the solar system. The federal government, using the same scamming tactics, is amassing a debt about the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy. Madoff’s scheme can be measured in millions of miles. The federal government's, in almost limitless parsecs. That measurement ought to suffice to dramatize the scale of the hole he is deliberately digging for the country in his role as Community-Organizer-in-Chief.
Where is all the money going to come from? From the productive Americans, who are going to work for Obama whether they like it or not. He has short-sold the American future.
That growing, astronomical debt, however, will serve to shrink the productive sector and make it less productive in exponential leaps and bounds -- off a cliff. It must inexorably reach a point that the productive sector can no longer sustain the debt it is expected to pay. Then we will have reached the economic status of, say, Zimbabwe.
Ed talks about the outraged cry of indignation by the media over Madoff's scam and yet they refuse to apply the same standards to the Obama administration. Why should they? They have become willing accomplices in this scam of horrendous proportions. It will deal a crushing blow to the American way of life - which is - you work hard, be honest, and you will make it big. Now people will work hard to pay-off Obama's debts.

What clashes with the news media coverage of Madoff’s trial, conviction and sentencing for his crime is the studied obtuseness of the news media for the same crime being committed by the government. Madoff, you see, was “greedy” or “avaricious,” and that, according to the morality of altruism and selflessness, is immoral and antisocial. The government, however, is committing the same crime, but that is in order to “do good.” So its orgy of debt-creation, its extortionate policies of roping all Americans into a “dog-eat-dog” welfare state, and its targeting the most productive and the wealthiest in society for special punishment, are all acceptable and laudable.

Even though the news media has knowledge of this multi-trillion dollar scam, that knowledge elicits not an iota of outrage among the photogenic news anchors and highly paid print pundits. No respectable TV or print journalist even thinks of the scam in terms of a continuing and expanding bilking of Americans from their wealth, investments and taxes.
Ed goes on to examine and explain the meaning of Obama's greeting on 4th of July. It is a revealing commentary on the thought process and ideology of a man who will go down in history as the most anti-American president ever. Recent polls have put Obama's popularity at 50%. So half of all Americans are in a state of denial and it's not clear whether the other half fully realises the gravity of the situation. There are some positive signs - the tea parties being organized across America and I take solace in knowing what Samuel Adams said:
"It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

Low-carbohydrate diets increase LDL: debunking the myth

I recently finished read "Good Calories, Bad Calories" by Gary Taubes. It was quite an eye opener and I have tried to make a lot of changes to my diet. Even before reading the book I had already made a conscious effort to reduce the carbohydrates (mostly complex ones.) One concern for most people including myself, has been the elevated LDL cholesterol. This article by Dr. Michael R. Eades does an excellent job of addressing these concerns. I suggest reading the book for a more detailed explanation.

BTW, I have lost weight, reduced my triglycerides from 139 to 103 within a few months of casual control. I am going to get the test done for the result of more rigorous control (stopped sugar completely.)
[via Free the Animal ]

Mindblowing Tumbling Skills

Extreme Human Performance blog (source of this video) is carrying an interview with this guy (Damien Walters)

[via Conditioning Research ]

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Heroic Greatness: Patrick Henry

A tribute lecture to Patrick Henry by Dr. John Ridpath, sponsered by the Ayn Rand Institute.

Republicans, Chrysler, and Obama

The New Clarion
Republicans are sniffing glue, Chrysler bites the dust, and Obama reacts to events in Iran and Honduras.

Happy Birthday America

I can say—not as a patriotic bromide, but with full knowledge of the necessary metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, political and esthetic roots—that the United States of America is the greatest, the noblest and, in its original founding principles, the only moral country in the history of the world.
Ayn Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It

America apes third-world democracies

Rigging of elections? In America?

Well! a lot of Iranians must be sympathizing with Americans.

Where is Dagny Taggart?

Robb at the Robbservations draws some interesting parallels between the reported computer glitch which grounded United Airlines planes and the scene near the end of Atlas Shrugged involving Dagny Taggart.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Al-Jazeera criticises Obama

Even Al-Jazeera is being critical of Obama. I never thought I would see the day.

Obama's strategies failing in Iran
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, do not fear the US but rather their own people's desire to live in a country more like the US.

In fact, in poll after poll Iranians have revealed themselves to be among the most pro-American and pro-democratic people in the Muslim majority world.

The Iranian government needs little excuse to beat, jail, and otherwise punish its citizens. It is already doing a thorough enough job without US interference, and seems poised to go even further. However, if it goes too far it risks "losing legitimacy in the eyes of its own people," as Obama said at a June 25 press conference."

By Mark LeVine, Middle East Historian

[via the The Spirit of Man]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What is Objective Law?

Making Progress: What is Objective Law?: "Under Objectivist political theory, the purpose of government is to eliminate the initiation of physical force from human relationships."

USB 3.0: A Primer

USB 3.0: A Primer Popular Science: "The current 2.0 ports can transfer packets of information at speeds of 480Mbit/s, but the 3.0 spec will be able to handle 4.8 to 5Gbit/s. "
Bombers Picture Gallery - B-2 Spirit, 2018 Bomber, B-17 Flying Fortress Pictures - Popular Mechanics

2,478,040,448 FOR PROGRESS

"China has already indicated its opposition to carbon cuts. India joins in:

India said it will reject any new treaty to limit global warming that makes the country reduce greenhouse-gas emissions because that will undermine its energy consumption, transportation and food security.
“India will not accept any emission-reduction target – period,” [Environment Minister Jairam] Ramesh said. “This is a non-negotiable stand.”
Look on the bright side, envirodinks. Think of all the emissions saved by not going to Copenhagen."
Daily Telegraph
Tim Blair Blog

Capitalism Magazine Classics

  1. Hatred of Western Civilization
    Why Terrorists Attacked America
  2. In Defense of the "Barbarous Relic"
    Why The Enemies of Capitalism Smear The Gold Standard
  3. Immigration and Individual Rights
    Does a foreigner have a moral right to move to America? And should America welcome him?
  4. A Tale of Two Novels
    Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged Versus James Joyce's Ulysses

A Russian Immigrant's Lesson in American Patriotism

The American Individualist:
"“America is the land of the uncommon man. It is the land where man is free to develop his genius – and to get its just rewards.” ~ Ayn Rand

As Independence Day nears and debates over immigration rage on, I’m reminded of how an atheist émigré from Soviet Russia taught me what it means to be an American patriot."

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Summer Issue of The Objective Standard

Principles in Practice: Summer Issue of The Objective Standard:
Some of the contents are:

An Interview with a “Capitalist Pig”: Jonathan Hoenig on Hedge Funds, the Economic Crisis, and the Future of America

Justice Holmes and the Empty Constitution by Thomas A. Bowden

Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market by Alex Epstein

A Brief History of U.S. Farm Policy and the Need for Free-Market Agriculture by Monica Hughes

The Is–Ought Gap: Subjectivism’s Technical Retreat by Craig Biddle

Blue Angels - Raw Cockpit Footage

United States Navy's Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels (Official Website).

[via Look at this...]

The Federal Reserve is lying

How Much Money Inflation? - Howard S. Katz - Mises Institute:
"The Federal Reserve is lying about the nation's money supply (M1). The current figure for money supply is being given as $1.6 trillion. The actual number is $2.34 trillion. The reported number is equivalent to an increase of 16% over the past year. The actual number is equivalent to an increase of 70% over the past year."

The Price Of Media Malpractice

The Price Of Media Malpractice:
"Media: They laugh at his jokes. They say he's the smartest guy in Congress. And 90% of them agree with him politically. Small wonder the havoc Barney Frank wreaks on the economy gets so little attention."