Tuesday, May 31, 2005

True or not?


Since it's anonymously authored and just fits too damn well, I'm not sure I believe it. But if it's not real, it might as well be.

Excerpt:

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So I heard the moving van pull up this morning. When I got home this evening I happened to spy my neighbor (he's like 85 years old - I don't know exactly, but he's old, talks and moves very slowly) standing on the sidewalk next to the van. I walked over and shook his hand, and we started talking. I asked him where he was moving, and he said, "Back to Germany."

I had been stationed in Germany for two years while in the military, so I lit up, and commented about how beautiful the country was, and inquired if he was going back because he missed it.

"No," he answered me. "I'm going back because I've seen this before."
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Read the rest of Holocaust Survivor Leaving US.

STRCLip: Putting some there, there


Excerpt:

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A common delusion – which I confess to sharing in for many years – is that any individual or group which, as part of a larger vision, seeks to reduce the power of the state (to elimination or to some point short of elimination) is a natural ally of all other such individuals or groups, right up to the point at which state power has been reduced to a level satisfactory to that individual or group.

It just isn't so.

There is no four-lane highway from here to the stateless society, with convenient exits for the minarchists, rest stops for the undecided and stacked interchanges where the socialists, communists, syndicalists, mutualists, capitalists and market anarchists can disentangle themselves without difficulty, proceeding to their chosen campgrounds, hotels and squats.
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Here's the rest.

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Not yet in the Promised Land ...


... but I can see it from here.

As of this moment (9:13 a.m., Saturday, May 28th), 18 fine, upstanding individuals -- scholars and patriots every one -- have clicked on Knappster's Lightspeed Research affiliate link, registered and completed an introductory survey. For me, that means $13.50 in commissions "in the bank."

Here's the thing: In order to get those commissions out of the bank, I need two more upstanding individuals -- scholars and etc. -- to sign up before midnight on May 31st. If my balance is less than $15 at the end of the month, it "rolls over" to the next month. I don't lose it or anything, but I don't get a check until there's $15 or more there.

To put this into perspective, it costs nothing to sign up, it takes only a few minutes of your time, it's rewarding (see my review) ... and $15 buys quite a bit of Knappster Fuel. I've tried striking a rock. Didn't work out. Help me out here.

[Addendum -- As of 8:20 a.m., Sunday, May 29th, the total was at $15.75 -- above the payment threshold. Thanks, y'all!]

Friday, May 27, 2005

Fire mission, immediate inebriation


The auspicious moment has arrived ... or, at any rate, has been scheduled. Johnny Depp will fire the remains of Hunter S. Thompson from a cannon atop a 150-foot tall tower built in the image of the Gonzo Fist.

"Friends and acquaintances gathered Thursday to discuss the Aug. 20 invitation-only service, which will be six months after Thompson shot himself in his Woody Creek home. Jon Equis, the event producer working with Thompson's family, said the tower will be about 3.5-metres-wide at the base and 2.5-metres-wide at the top, where a cannon will be placed. "

Presumably the invitations have not been sent out yet, as no courier has arrived at my door. I will, however, go ahead and notify the tailor in Hong Kong to ship my new Armani knockoff (in a deep, earthy green) no later than early July, and will stock up on Gonzo Imperial Porter for the drive. MapQuest says it's 16 hours and 11 minutes from St. Louis to Woody Creek. Luddites -- we use the metric system in my car. Eleven hours flat, if the goddamn bats stay away.

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PSA: New anonymous surfing facility


A new "anonymizing" proxy surf outfit to check out. Looks to be free (ad-supported). As far as how truly anonymous it is, well ... I'm not sure. If it matters, I've surfed Knappster with it, then looked at surfer/referrer details in my stats, and have been unable to tell which hits came from me, i.e. they didn't show my IP. Always nice to have more of these kinds of services available.

CivilDisobedienceProps


Just wanted to keep this one on the radar, folks. Kat Dillon mentions it in the comment links on this Knappster article, but it bears repeating: New Hampshire freedom fighters are going to jail for the US government's sins.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Book Tag


I've been tagged by Thomas Luongo pursuant to a project of The Eclectic Econoclast's. Okay, I'll play.

  1. Total number of books I own: You're kidding, right? I stopped counting when I had to start moving stacks of them to get to the refrigerator.
  2. The last book I bought: The Star Fraction by Ken Macleod. I'd read it and loved it, but hadn't owned it until now.
  3. The last book I read: The Third Revolution by Anthony F. Lewis (unless you count assorted children's books that I read daily with my 6- and 4-year-olds, or Laura Ingalls Wilder's On the Banks of Plum Creek, which I picked up to evaluate for use in homeschooling this summer and ended up devouring in an afternoon earlier this week). I'm re-reading Macleod now.
  4. Five Books that mean a lot to me: That's not even fair, man -- it's like Sophie's Choice (note the ease with which I smuggle in additional titles -- I am, after all, a professional). All right, all right, I'll try:
    1. Pallas, by L. Neil Smith. I could have picked any of his books, but this one has a special place with me simply because it's the first of his novels I read. I had written to Smith, asking for permission to reprint an essay, and the next day noticed Pallas on a drug store book rack. It clued me in to the fact that libertarian science fiction had survived the death of ...
    2. Robert Heinlein, author of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. Once again, I could have put any number of Heinlein's novels here, but TMIAHM is definitely my favorite. I've read it once or twice a year for the last 20 years, just to keep myself asking the right questions.
    3. I don't think that the appeal of Vin Suprynowicz's first novel, The Black Arrow, is going to wear off. It's a keeper.
    4. Choosing one of Macleod's "Fall Revolution" novels isn't easy, but I'll go with The Sky Road, simply because its final paragraph (not a spoiler, I think) never fails to thrill: "Whatever the truth about the Deliverer, she will remain in my mind as she was shown on that statue, and all the other statues and murals, songs and stories: riding, at the head of her own swift cavalry, with a growing migration behind her and a decadent, vulnerable, defenceless and rich continent ahead; and, floating bravely above her head and above her army, the black flag on which nothing is written."
    5. Here we go. Crunch time. The final choice. Should I go with the obvious (Atlas Shrugged)? Or perhaps the obscure (Democracy Against Itself)? Or maybe the really far out (Holy Blood, Holy Grail)? I think I'll just (left) wing it: Any of the three volumes, but especially the second -- The Prophet Unarmed -- of Isaac Deutscher's biography of Trotsky. And no, I don't particularly care to explain why.

  5. Tag five people and have them do this on their blogs:

    1. Wally Conger -- [Wally Conger's response]
    2. Wendy McElroy -- [Wendy McElroy's response]
    3. Sunni Maravillosa -- [Sunni declined]
    4. James Landrith -- [James Landrith's response]
    5. tex
    6. Ken Macleod -- [Ken Macleod's response]

      (Yes, I know it's six. Sue me.)


Looking back over this, I can see that I've left out at least a hundred writers and at least 300 books which deserved to be on the list. That's why I hate this kind of thing. And now, if you'll pardon me, I think I'll go curl up with a good book.

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BlogProps: Freeman, libertarian critter


Freeman is in the New Libertarian house!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Review in Progress: The Third Revolution, part 2


[Click here for the first installment of this review]

When last we discussed Anthony F. Lewis's The Third Revolution, I'd read about a hundred pages and was already thinking of it as a pretty solid novel. If I'd known what was coming, I'd have locked myself in a room to forestall any further interruptions.

The first hundred pages of the book are good, solid fiction with a realistic foundation. The rest of it is pure gold -- without sacrificing realism, Lewis cranks up the stress on Governor Ben Kane as Montana and the US government careen toward each other on a collision course. At every point Lewis keeps you wondering who's going to cave and who's going to stand firm. Will the feds blink? Will Montana secede? I'm not telling. The book is plotted too tightly for me to offer a lot of details without spoiling it, but I can tell you that you're in for a ride.

I do, however, want to offer you more than a "buy this book," so I'm going to talk a little bit about sub-plot. The main thrust of the book, as I said, fits together like a Swiss watch, but Lewis did the right thing when he decided to literally surround the core conflict with, of all things, bison and Blackfeet (and Crow, but dammit, I needed the alliteration). Running parallel to, informing, and sometimes intersecting, the conflict between Montana and DC are other stories: The story of a proud people, how they live and what they want after 150 years under the thumb of a far-away bureaucracy. The story of an animal which once roamed -- and might yet again roam -- a vast continent. These stories don't detract from the plot -- they complete it. The Third Revolution would have been at best a middling piece of work without them.

As I mentioned in part one, I hadn't developed a strong identification with any of the characters over the course of the first hundred pages. Lewis's characters take time to grow, and to grow on the reader ... but, over the course of the story, they do. Ben Kane doesn't come off as a plaster philosopher king. As the story proceeds, he's occasionally whiny, never too sure of himself, but ready to get his back up when he knows it needs to be done. He really does wish that he'd stuck to brewing beer and running his restaurant instead of going into politics, especially after a bunch of people like him run for office and ... well, you'll see. Joe Adams, his restaurant manager and right-hand man, also strikes a strong chord with me. Joe's not exactly political, but he isn't apolitical either. He's the man in the middle. He's not everyman, but he's what everyman might be if everyman had a 1972 Norton Commando and some common sense.

I have only one real bitch about The Third Revolution, and it's a minor one: In the last part of the book, a love story begins. It doesn't exactly end; it doesn't even really develop. That may be because the novel's end sets up for a sequel, which Lewis is writing right now and which I'm eagerly anticipating. Until that sequel arrives, though, the love angle (and not the obvious triangle, something I think other readers will also expect) is just ... there ... and it doesn't feel right. Fortunately, it plays such a seemingly minor role in the story that it doesn't really hurt anything. And I think Lewis probably already had something in mind. If that's the only thing wrong with the book -- and, quite frankly, it's the only thing I found wrong with it -- then it's not a real problem. Lewis has succeeded in writing an absorbing, suspenseful, realistic novel about liberty's future.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

BlogProps: The Yellow Line


Alan Stewart Carl on Free-Market Democrats. The cries for some fundamental change in the Democratic Party seem to be increasing. See also Matt Welch's Salon article on "Deadwood Democrats."

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Did we really win?


I love super-majority requirements -- the more stringent the better.

I cheered when the 1995 GOP Congress imposed a 60% super-majority requirement in the House for tax increases.

I think that America would be a lot better off if Congress learned to read the Constitution and realized that most of what they do isn't in it and therefore requires a 2/3 vote from both houses and ratification by 3/4 of the state legislatures to insert it by amendment.

The higher the bar, the longer it takes the mob to climb over it.

That's why I love the filibuster. End it? Heavens no. I'd like to improve it. A unanimous vote requirement for cloture, or at the bare minimum 7/8, sounds about right. And while we're at it, let's require 90% for passage of legislation and unanimous consent to override a presidential veto.

You might think I'd be happy, then, to hear of the "compromise" hammered out by "moderate" Republicans and Democrats to avoid the "nuclear option" and save the filibuster per se at the sacrifice of a few particular instances of it.

But I'm not so sure the deal is cause for celebration.

The "nuclear option" isn't gone. It's just back in the GOP scabbard, ready to be drawn any time the Democrats start getting uppity again. And what did Senate Democrats sacrifice to get that temporary reprieve? Presumably they still oppose the Bush judicial nominees who will now get an up-or-down vote, the outcome of which is a foregone conclusion. If Priscilla Owen, William H. Pryor and Janice Rogers Brown were unacceptable nominees last week, and if they were unacceptable nominees last year, and if they were unacceptable nominees two, three, four years ago when they were nominated, then how did this "compromise" suddenly make them acceptable?

I wish the Democrats had played hardball and either gathered enough Republican votes to shoot down the "nuclear option," or forced the GOP to pull the trigger on it.

If the "nuclear option" had been taken down hard -- made impossible for lack of a few GOP votes -- then the allegedly unacceptable nominees would have remained in limbo and the Bush/Frist combo would have been stuck in the lame duck penalty box for the next year-and-a-half. They're there already, but they keep threatening to break out.

And if the GOP had dropped the bomb? We'd see exactly what we're seeing now with the compromise, only without complicity and culpability on the part of Democrats.

It would have been nice to see Democrats peel off enough GOP votes to put Frist down like the rabid dog he is and stop the "nuclear option" cold.

Or, failing that ... well, the Democrats will be the majority party again someday, probably after the 2008 or 2010 elections (2006 is a long shot). I think it would have been worth a few years in the wilderness, a few years of letting the GOP feed out more of the rope it's hanging itself with, to be able to, as the first act of the next Democratic Senate, restore the check on government power that the GOP had swept aside. Especially since, as a practical matter, the compromise swept it aside anyway.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Others seem to regard this whole thing as a victory for Democrats and "moderate" Republicans. Among the reactions I've seen, only Howard Dean's has been lukewarm. Maybe he's seeing the forest, and not just the trees. It wouldn't be the first time.

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Larry Fullmer, RIP




Click photo for news story.


Click here to read the obituary -- and please, if you knew Larry and have something nice to say about him, use the "feedback" form to tell Pocatello about him.


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Friday, May 20, 2005

Ain't seen London, ain't seen France


But, like the rest of the world, I have at least seen Saddam Hussein in his underpants. It's amazing how quickly a squawk can be raised over something so silly.

But then, that's the whole point. Despite denials from the White House (politicians lie -- never, ever forget that) there's not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that the Saddam photo/s were intentionally released by the US government. And I can't say I blame them. Think about it -- cui bono?

1) If Arabs and/or Muslims riot over it, George W. Bush can say "look, it isn't desecration of the Quran that upset them last week -- they're looking for something to be upset about," and "these riots are being fomented by regime holdouts." (There is, by the way, some merit to the first proposition)

2) If Arabs and/or Muslims don't riot over it, Donald Rumsfeld can say "see -- they're glad we got the bastard."

3) Assuming that it's actually Saddam they have (not a safe assumption, btw), the photos verify that -- at the time they were taken, at least -- he wasn't being visibly mistreated. He's obviously well-fed, he's unbruised and he isn't acting like he's under any kind of immediate duress or mentally disruptive chemical regimen. So much for the "our Glorious Leader is being tortured daily" bull sessions at the underground Ba'ath HQ.

4) He's now been pantsed in public. That should about wrap up any future political aspirations. Then again, you never know. George W. Bush flashed nothing but ass for four years and still weaseled in for a second term.

5) The real prize: Attention is deflected from the Bagram homicide report.

And that, of course, is the whole point.

The Busheviks have managed to, well, manage the Abu Ghraib atrocities into obscurity by mouthing platitudes and throwing a few enlisted schmucks to the wolves.

They managed to fob off blame for the Quran desecrations -- actions reported for more than a year, by the way, and admitted to in the New York Times by a former Gitmo interrogator -- on Newsweek for making the mistake of trusting a government source on the claim that the Busheviks were going to depart from habit and actually tell the truth.

And, with the help of a virtual media blackout, they've managed so far to slip by unscathed in the matter of the British cabinet memo which establishes beyond any reasonable doubt that Bush and Co. lied, continuously and through their teeth, throughout the buildup to war.

Now they're going to get a free pass on a few more murders, just by leaking some photos of Saddam's package.

These guys are not as stupid as we sometimes allow ourselves to believe they are. As evil, yes. As stupid, no.

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FMNNClip: Time for separation of identity and state


Excerpt:

For decades, freedom-lovers have fought a holding action against the state's ever-greater incursions into Americans' privacy. We may have slowed things down a bit, but we didn't stop them, we didn't reverse them ... and the statists have seemingly finally achieved their end goal: The eradication of privacy as such. It didn't have to be this way -- and the same network and database infrastructure which have been instrumental in the demise of privacy could have been, and might still be, privacy's greatest protector.

Here's the whole thing

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A milestone of sorts


According to Technorati, 100 other sites now link to Knappster. Cool!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

What to do about "Real ID?"


So, national ID -- the third leg of the police state tripod* -- nears perfection with the passage of "Real ID." This is nothing we didn't see coming, of course. But what are we going to do about it?

We can certainly talk about it. We can piss and moan, and point out the insidious nature of the bill. And a lot of people are doing a very good job of that -- see Real ID Rebellion for examples, inline and linked.

I think it's going to take more, though.

Don't get me wrong; agit-prop is certainly a big part of any attempt to roll back this abomination, and a number of writers, including those at RIDR, are doing yeomen's work on it.

It's just not enough, that's all. This one is going to require active resistance, folks.

A lot of the resistance to Real ID is stuff that we should be doing anyway. Avoid doing business with people who demand government-issued ID -- including, where possible, banks (you may want to get an offshore account), federalized mass transit services such as Amtrak and the airlines, etc. Use cash, gold or electronic currencies where you can. Buy a pre-loaded debit card that can be reloaded on the Internet or at local kiosks -- and buy it before you're required to present your new internal passport for the privilege of doing so. If possible, get it with a fake name (if you're doing that, don't reload it over the Internet from home, with a card that has your real name on it, etc. -- keep it completely de-linked from your real identity. Use it to get cash from ATMS rather than to make over-the-counter purchases that might result in ID checks).

More active resistance? It's certainly called for.

The first and most obvious resistance activity is invidual and obvious: Just Say No. If you can figure out how to live without a driver's license -- and many, many people have done so for many years -- then go without one. If you can get by with a license of limited utility, then how about this: Most states don't require that one take the test every time one renew's one's license. They just charge a fee. So, instead of going down to the local bureau and letting them apply the "new standard" to you, just mail a check to your state's Department of Revenue, with "driver's license renewal" written in the memo line. Then keep the canceled check (or the uncashed check if it's returned) with your old license. You thus have proof that you've a) taken the test as required and been issued a license and b) paid, or attempted to pay, the tax associated with the license. It may not get you on a plane. It may not get you out of a traffic ticket. But it will probably work as photo ID for buying a beer or a pack of smokes and such -- in other words, it will probably be sufficient for most businesses whose owners don't have government ramrods up their rectums.

A second possible response, of course, is counterfeiting the papers. In theory, this is becoming more and more difficult, but I suspect that a combination of bureaucratic corruption, police laxity and individual initiative will make it not only possible, but create a growth industry. There's always the hope that employees of the issuing bureaus will accept, um, "additional cash fees for expediting special services" such as creating a real driver's license for a fictional person with your physical characteristics. Despite the more precise biometric information the new cards will incorporate, most police officers aren't likely to demand a fingerprint or DNA sample on a routine traffic stop, if your appearance matches the photo on the document. If the cards themselves can be counterfeited for a reasonable fee, there's no particular reason why the Internet can't be used to exchange the information that will allow forty, instead of one, "John Does" who look a lot alike to use the same driver's license, with 39 of them simply being reproductions of the one original.

The above, of course, will be difficult and legally risky. But then, so is living in the police state. Do you prefer to take your difficulty and legal risk standing, or on your knees?

Hopefully, as with the first American revolution, we can count on some external assistance. Eastern European hackers have been bending and breaking US data facilities for years, in addition to throwing viruses fast and furious at the average Windows user. Perhaps they'll take up the challenge of compromising and corrupting the databases upon which Real ID will necessarily depend. Perhaps some kind of financial incentive can be offered for them to do so. I'm thinking of the kind of thing described in Jim Bell's "Assassination Politics -- but instead of applying it to having the thugs killed, apply it to the destruction of their work product.

Not that shooting the bastards isn't an option -- as Heinlein points out in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, a few dead ID checkers would encourage a more casual attitude toward checking ID -- but let's not go there.

Yet.

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* Different authors offer different criteria for defining the police state. Mine are: Compulsory indoctrination of the citizenry in the ruling group's ideology ("public education"); the supercession of trial by jury with bureaucratic edict ("administrative law"); and the imposition of an internal passport system to facilitate surveillance and control of movement (national identification standards").

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Review in Progress: The Third Revolution


I've been planning to experiment with a different review style -- a running "review in progress" on the blog, instead of an all-inclusive article elsewhere -- for some time now. I'm not certain how the form will work out, but I suspect it may give me more range to "connect the dots" between books and current events, and to show how a book grows on a reader over the course of the reading.

I've chosen Anthony F. Lewis's first novel, The Third Revolution, to begin with. As always, there's a reason: I've been trying to finish the book for some time now, but events unrelated to the book continually drag me away at inopportune moments. So, the different review style fits my schedule, which is a nice way to begin an experiment.

Not that The Third Revolution is easy to put down. Far from it. It's just that every important phone call, unexpected guest and "family emergency" that's come along in the last month has, for some reason, coincided with the times I've picked up the book and opened it. Unless there's some supernatural angle I'm not privy to, however, this doesn't reflect on the novel's quality.

So, here I am, a little less than 100 pages into The Third Revolution ... and already Lewis has addressed no fewer than three matters of current interest to me (and, presumably, to many other libertarians). The novel follows Ben Kane, Libertarian governor of Montana, as the "One Nation" bill faces filibuster and is then passed into law.

What's that, you say? A Libertarian governor? Ah, it's science fiction!

Well, no. Lewis handles the ascent of a Libertarian Party candidate to the position of state executive in a very realistic manner. A well-known, popular restaurant owner, elected to an open seat in the state legislature -- the kind of guy who could have been elected on any party's ticket, not just a perennial paper candidate -- works his way up through fortuitous coincidence (of the kind which happens all the time -- no smoke and mirrors here), by working and playing well with others, and by actively building a constituency outside his district. I hesitate to offer this bit of back story as a blueprint ... but then, from where I sit, it looks an awful lot like Carl Milsted's proposal for a realistic third party strategy, combined with some common sense attributes of a good candidate which Libertarians should be paying attention to (community involvement, name recognition and such prior to seeking office are the big ones).

Bringing out the "One Nation" bill as a parallel to current events may be a bit of a stretch, but not much. In the novel, the bill effectively federalizes a number of government activities formerly falling under the purview of the states. It's not the same issue as the recently adopted "Real ID" act, but some of the same principles (federalism, states' rights, encroaching federal power) are at stake ... and there are similarities between what I foresee developing in the novel and what's hopefully coming together right now with the Real ID Rebellion.

Finally, there's the filibuster. In The Third Revolution, Lewis has a Republican minority in the US Senate threatening one versus the "One Nation" bill. Presumably the "nuclear option" wasn't looming as Lewis penned the book. As I write this, however, the Senate is taking up debate on the judicial nominations which are bringing the issue of filibuster to a head ... and it's nice to be reading a novel that retrospectively predicts a win for the good guys in preserving some minority power in the Senate.

So, where are we ... ah, yes ... the filibuster has flopped, the "One Nation" bill has passed the Senate, and Governor Kane is quickly becoming the central figure in state resistance to its federalization of education, etc. So far, I'm really enjoying this book. Lewis is working firmly within the realm of the plausible, but keeping it interesting. He's also keeping his characters sympathetic, but not perfect. I've not yet managed the deep personal identification with any of the characters that really puts a novel over the top ... but I don't normally do so this early in a novel anyway. I think that's coming.

I'll be back after another 50-100 pages to share my continuing impression. So far, however, I'm enjoying the book very much and heartily recommend it (and I would even if its author wasn't advertising it here!).

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BlogClip: After the bomb


Brad Spangler on the pending "nuclear option."

Excerpt:

[T]he very nature of the controversy itself lends credence to claims of impending one party rule. Republican willingness to set aside forever the most powerful prerogative of minority parties tells us one thing -- the Republicans don't expect to ever be a minority party again. With Ohio on my mind, I can only ask: 'What do they know that we don't?'

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Gotta love the win-win deal


I'm usually suspicious of these "consumer research panel" ads on the Internet. Half of them are just hooks to get you to buy something and of the other half ... well, the "rewards" are slow in coming. I'm usually suspicious ... but I'm usually willing to give them a try.

Lightspeed Consumer Panel is the first and only one so far to get my unqualified endorsement, for several reasons:

1) They actually send me real links to real surveys that aren't pitches/sales ploys. In other words, they are actually doing market research, not just reeling in the suckers.

2) Participation actually results in real rewards, and not on some "one of these days" timeline. Just a few minutes ago, I completed a reasonably short survey (15 minutes or so), and earned enough points on that survey alone to redeem for a gift certificate to a popular online store (they offer several such options, including cash). Lightspeed is the first program I've actually made it to redemption on, even though I've been registered with them for a relatively short time (less than a month, I think). Not every survey is worth enough points to get something, but you can accumulate them, too.

3) They have an affiliate program. If you click on my referral link, register and do at least one survey, I get 75 cents.

I know my readers. I know you have opinions. Lightspeed will pay you for sharing those opinions, and pay me for getting you to do so. Sounds good to me!

The true knowledge? Wazzat?


Excerpt:

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Life is a process of breaking down and using other matter, and if need be, other life. Therefore, life is aggression, and successful life is successful aggression. Life is the scum of matter, and people are the scum of life. There is nothing but matter, forces, space and time, which together make power. Nothing matters, except what matters to you. Might makes right, and power makes freedom. You are free to do whatever is in your power, and if you want to survive and thrive you had better do whatever is in your interests. If your interests conflict with those of others, let the others pit their power against yours, everyone for theirselves. If your interests coincide with those of others, let them work together with you, and against the rest. We are what we eat, and we eat everything.

All that you really value, and the goodness and truth and beauty of life, have their roots in this apparently barren soil.

This is the true knowledge.

We had founded our idealism on the most nihilistic implications of science, our socialism on crass self-interest, our peace on our capacity for mutual destruction, and our liberty on determinism. We had replaced morality with convention, bravery with safety, frugality with plenty, philosophy with science, stoicism with anaesthetics and piety with immortality. The universal acid of the true knowledge had burned away a world of words, and exposed a universe of things.

Things we could use.
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-- From The Cassini Division, by Ken Macleod

If you haven't read the four novels in Macleod's "Fall Revolution" cycle, you're missing out big-time. Trotskyites versus greens versus UN versus micro-states versus all shades of anarchists. Cool. Anyway, the quote's there for discussion.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

PSA


Y'all,

Over the last week, several people -- writing/commenting on blogs and such -- have mentioned that they intend to buy The Black Arrow "when it becomes available." I just got a note from Rick Tompkins at Mountain Media pointing out that it's been available for about a month.

You can get it direct from Liberty Book Shop, Mountain Media's "in-house" store. They make a very persuasive case for doing so, and I hope you'll take that route. As a personal testimonial, I've never had anything but superb service, before and after the sale, from Liberty Book Shop, and Mountain Media has always been Johnny-on-the-Spot with review copies when I've requested them. Of the people in the freedom movement I've been privileged to work with, these guys -- Vin himself, Rick Tompkins, et al -- are way up high on the list for integrity, friendliness and just plain delivering the goods. I hope you'll patronize them.

If you just absolutely can't stand the idea that I won't get a miniscule commission on the sale, here's the Amazon link. Wait. No. It isn't there, is it? Why? See the above paragraph. I've already made my "commission" -- I had an opportunity to read the book early, and received a signed copy of it for that purpose. Financially, that's the equivalent of at least ten commissions. In other respects, it's worth a hell of a lot more. I'm more than willing to forego the sales commission. If it means that much to you, PayPal a buck to me at thomaslknapp at yahoo.com or something.

But ...

Buy the book.

Buy the book.

Buy the book, already. You'll be glad you did. I promise.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Legislative Alert for pro-freedom Missourians


It may not mean anything to you if I just say that HCS/HB 36 is tied up in the Pensions, Veterans Affairs and General Laws committee in the Missouri Senate, so bear with me:

Last month, the Missouri House passed HB 36, which legalizes the practice of midwifery in Missouri. This was a surprise to the medical monopoly lobby, and they've pulled out all stops to block it in the Senate. And, basically, unless it gets voted out of committee TODAY, it's a dead bill.

Here's the scoop: Almost anyone can legally deliver a baby in Missouri. An M.D. can, of course. So can a certified nurse midwife who has a contractual supervisory arrangement with an MD located within 30 miles of where the birth is to take place. The dad can do it. The kid next door can do it. If the mailman isn't busy, he can do it. Hell, if you can train a dog to do it, it's perfectly legal. But if you're a trained midwife who doesn't have a doctor looking over your shoulder (which most refuse to do -- why should they give up their fees?) ... it's a felony for you to deliver a baby.

Silly, isn't it? It's just the kind of anti-woman, anti-choice, monopoly-protectionist crap we've come to expect from government. Check out this Columbia Tribune article from May 4th on the subject:

http://www.columbiatribune.com/2005/May/20050504News004.asp

So: Please call your state senator today, especially if that Senator sits on the Pensions, Veterans Affairs and General Laws committe. Those particular Senators are: Jason Crowell (27th district), Chuck Purgason (33rd), Michael Gibbons (15th), Chris Koster (31st), Luann Ridgeway (17th), Delbert Scott (28th), Pat Dougherty (4th), Chuck Graham (19th), or Harry Kennedy (1st).

But even if your Senator isn't on the committee, give him or her a call, ask him or her to ring the committee's bell and say "send this to the floor," and to vote in favor of it. You can get your Senator's contact info at:

http://www.senate.mo.gov

Note to Federal Elections Commission, Missouri Ethics Commission or other entities which may regard this article as regulated issues advocacy: Bite me. I'll write what I want to write.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Theology may not be my strong suit ...


... but has it occurred to anyone that George W. Bush looks an awful lot like the biblical figure known as the anti-Christ?

Who else could get the Senate to vote 100-0 -- not just for more money for the war on Iraq, but for what amounts to the Mark of the Beast to boot?

FMNNClip: Smoking memos and wounded Labour


Excerpt:

"The first and most obvious thing to be said about yesterday's elections is this: They were a referendum on the war, and the war lost. Remember this well. The War Party in the US will try to tell you that it isn't so, and they'll trot out various alternative explanations. They're lying. Let's examine some of the lies so that you can meet them with facts ..."

the whole thing.

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New reviews


I've weighed in over at Epinions on The Passion of the Christ and Ocean's Twelve.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

BlogProps: Plaint It, Black


Laissez Faire Books has declined to stock Vin Suprynowicz's superb first novel, The Black Arrow. Watch this closely, folks, because you won't see it very often -- I'm struck speechless. Fortunately, Sunni Maravillosa isn't. So ... what she said!

Friday, May 06, 2005

BlogClip: Mr. Darwin, I presume?


Kansas and Missouri are both doing battle with creationists over the teaching of evolution versus intelligent design in government schools. Here's Ron Davis's take on it, including a report from someone who attended a committee hearing on HB 35, which would mandate "theory parity" in Missouri. Hat tip to John Stone.

Some thoughts:

I oppose taxpayer subsidies of religious teachings, including "intelligent design." I'm not personally opposed to the notion that "intelligent design" may have merit, but it isn't science and shouldn't advertise itself, or be treated as, science. Any supportable "intelligent design" theory would have to accomodate evolutionary theory which, contra its skeptics, is irrefutably, scientifically proven fact in most respects. In my experience, "intelligent design" advocates spend a lot of time attempting -- unsuccessfully -- to debunk evolution, as if disproving evolution would prove their theory (it wouldn't), and relying on philosophical argument rather than scientific evidence to prove the validity of their own ideas (it doesn't).

On the other hand, I have a bone to pick with the report: Both Davis and his source on the hearing (Bob Boldt) seem to take great umbrage with the testimony of Anna Eimes, an opponent of teaching evolution, who held, according to Bold, that "[the philosophical fallout of evolutionary theory] has manifested itself most dramatically in the events at Columbine High School where the students who created such death and destruction were acting out the very principles taught by the theory of evolution."

While I would hold that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had a very poor understanding of evolutionary theory, the simple and undeniable fact is that both of them -- in speeches on videotape, and by wearing t-shirts with the logo "Natural Selection" -- were, in fact, acting in large part upon what they thought evolutionary theory implies. They regarded themselves as members of a new, emergent, superior species, and their victims as part of a prior, now obsolete species which they felt obliged to do their share in eradicating.

Were Harris and Klebold insane? Clearly. Did they misunderstand and misapply evolutionary theory? Certainly. But to hold that the teaching of evolutionary theory had nothing whatsoever to do with their killing spree is simply unsupportable. They were clearly inspired by evolutionary theory. So was Hitler, with his "Final Solution." So was Margaret Sanger in her quest to abort and sterilize America's (and the world's) "undesirables" out of existence.

That doesn't make the case for "intelligent design" -- or against evolution. It's very important that evolutionary theory be taught correctly, so that the Harrises, Klebolds, Hitlers and Sangers either don't come up with their idiotic ideas, or else find no support for those ideas when they do come up with them. That means there's no time in school for fruitless forays into the swamp of "intelligent design" (which has also inspired a number of nutcases who've killed people, started wars, etc. -- anyone ever heard of al Qaeda?).

Columbine, the Third Reich and the Eugenics Movement don't invalidate evolution. They invalidate poor teaching and understanding of evolution -- and this, I think, is the same case that "intelligent design" advocates would make if the Crusades, the Thirty Years War or the Islamist movement were hung like albatrosses around their necks. The difference is that evolution is already validated by science, and that "intelligent design" thus far relies on faith and speculation for such validation as it may claim. Thus, the former deserves to be taught in government schools (if anything does, but that's another issue on which I believe my views are clear), and the latter doesn't.

All the foregoing, of course, makes good prologue to a link. Here's L. Neil Smith's New Approach to Social Darwinism.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

CBC News: British voters head to the polls


British voters head to the polls today, and it's apparently a nail-biter.

Most polls indicate that Tony Blair will pull through for a third term -- something no Labour government has achieved before -- but many analysts think that the Labour majority in Parliament will be reduced or even erased. The damaging issue is, of course, the war on Iraq.

For some a couple of opposing blog takes on the election, check out Ken MacLeod's Early Days of a Better Nation and Freedom and Whisky. If you're in London, join Dr. Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance -- among others -- for election night commentary from the bar of the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

Given my poor record as a predictor of elections, I should probably leave it at that, but heck ... I'll throw in: Blair will retain his seat in the Commons versus his 15 challengers (one has to be a member of Parliament in order to serve as PM), but Reg Keys, the father of a British soldier killed in Iraq, will rack up a very respectable total. Labour will maintain a slim majority overall.

Hopefully my predictive abilities will hit par for the course and Blair will go down in flames, though.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Madison's Most Wanted


Rolf Lindgren -- a great libertarian activist in Wisconsin and nationally -- was accused of stealing $50, and spent thousands clearing his name. But the thief is still at large. Anyone recognize him?

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