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Saturday, May 22, 2010

That's the Best You Got?

Matt Welch responding to Salon's criticism of libertarianism:
The "worldview" of libertarianism suggested, back in the early 1970s, that if you got the government out of the business of setting all airline ticket prices and composing all in-flight menus, then just maybe Americans who were not rich could soon enjoy air travel. At the time, people with much more imagination and pull than Gabriel Winant has now dismissed the idea as unrealistic, out-of-touch fantasia. They were wrong then, they continue to be wrong now about a thousand similar things, and history does not judge them harsh enough.
Seriously? Libertarianism got us cheap flights? That's your example of what your "worldview" has given us?

You actually read a post called "Libertarianism is Juvenile" and this is the best you can come up with?

Not Buying It

One common technique Libertarians pull when they're losing the argument is to use the old "If only" mode.

If only libertarian philosophy were more purely applied...

That kind of thing. Here's an example of that genre, from Julian Sanchez in a piece called "Why Rand Paul is Right...and Wrong."

He writes:
We libertarians, never burdened with an excess of governing power [thank God! ed], have always had a utopian streak, a penchant for imagining what rich organic order would bubble up from the choices of free and equal citizens governed by a lean state enforcing a few simple rules. We tend to envision societies that, if not perfect, are at least consistently libertarian.
And they wonder why no one but other libertarians take them seriously? They take for granted something that has never demonstrably happened.

Has there ever been a chiefless tribe? Ever?

Here's where Sanchez really rankles, though:
Liberals and progressives, for their part, should also reconsider whether the civil-rights era's expansion of federal power ought to be seen as a norm or an exception.
No. (And this is where I start my Ben Kingsley from Sexy Beast impression.) No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

First, liberals and progressives don't need to reconsider shit. We know where we stand. Government actions to reduce inequality are perfectly okay with us. We have no problem with the Civil Rights Act. We think it's a good thing that effectively made this country more free.

Put me down for any expansion of federal power that results in a freer society. And I'm not talking "free to discriminate." I'm talking "free to eat at any restaurant that's open."

Not only that, but Sanchez is dead wrong if he thinks "socially acceptable and legally sanctioned racism" is going to appeal to just a "few cranks." I think he's drastically underestimating the number of cranks who would celebrate the overturning of the Civil Rights Acts by waving the Confederate Flag and sucking down a few PBRs in their favorite all-white bar.

More Libertarian Bashing

I second Bruce Bartlett when he writes:
I don't believe Rand is a racist; I think he is a fool who is suffering from the foolish consistency syndrome that affects all libertarians. They believe that freedom consists of one thing and one thing only--freedom from governmental constraint. Therefore, it is illogical to them that any increase in government power could ever expand freedom. Yet it is clear that African Americans were far from free in 1964 and that the Civil Rights Act greatly expanded their freedom while diminishing that of racists. To defend the rights of racists to discriminate is reprehensible and especially so when it is done by a major party nominee for the U.S. Senate.
Amen.

He gets a little bit more direct in the comments:
I think those who argue against the Civil Rights Act on libertarian grounds are fools and idiots.
Double amen.

So the New Girl Quit

And I can't say I'm all that surprised or upset about it. She had two qualities that made her integration into the job somewhat difficult.

First, she was a know-it-all, and not one of those "knows it all" know-it-alls. No, she was one of those "doesn't know shit" know-it-alls. And hey, that's fine. Knowledge is transferable. "Doesn't know shit" can be turned into "knows what she's talking about" quite easily.

Which brings us to the second issue: Being overly defensive when your mistakes are pointed out to you.

If you know it all, clearly you can't make any mistakes. And if someone points out a mistake, they're not trying to help you out or teach you the job, they're personally attacking you.

From what I understand, as I've been somewhat isolated her on the nightwatchman shift, that's the dynamic that played out until her resignation. Not exactly a recipe for success...

Weak Tea

As part of Rand Paul's tepid critique of the Civil Rights Acts, he said this:
INTERVIEWER: But under your philosophy, it would be okay for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths?

PAUL: I would not go to that Woolworths, and I would stand up in my community and say that it is abhorrent...
Ah, but as a certain Englishman who may or may not have actually written the plays that bear his name once said, therein lies the rub.

Rand Paul may boycott that Woolworths and might even slam them on his Facebook page, but I know a lot of people who would not only go to that Woolworths, but they would go precisely because it excludes people of color.

Tell me I'm wrong.

I Agree 100%

Michael Tomasky writes:
We all support a few libertarian-ish principles; we all agree that the state should have some limits. For example, I think it's perfectly fine for the state to make fast-food joints post nutrition information. But I would oppose the state having the right to ban the Quarter Pounder. So we all get that kind of thing.

But big-L Libertarianism is vapid. I hope in the next few months it is properly exposed as such.
I hope so too.

As a kind of general guide, libertarianism is plenty useful. Taken to extremes, however, it just makes you dumb.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Terry Bradshaw - Country Crooner

I found this looking for some Hank William Sr. on Youtube.

Ouch.

I Love This Time of Year

5:30 in the morning and the sun's already up.

It's beautiful.

If the weather keeps up, I think I'll have to stop by the Botanic Gardens this week.

Fuck the Police

Can I just say that it fills me with joy that the Aurora police are facing a 5% cut in pay and benefits. Sure, times are tough.

But if we were going to pay these corrupt fuckers what they were worth, they'd be facing a much larger cut than 5%.

(If you've ever had corrupt cops manufacture bogus criminal charges against you in order to justify stealing your truck, you might feel the same.)

"Support your police and firefighters as if your life depended on it?" Yeah...support the neighborhood as if your livelihoods depended on it, then we'll talk.

Jesus Saves

If you're waiting for the Jesus post, sell your place in line because it ain't happening. I've had a conversion.

I am healed.

Okay, so I'm still healing, but I've been off the meds for a few days, the wounds are well on their way to becoming scars, and so far, no more outbreaks.

So thank Jesus next time you talk to him. He's not taking my calls anymore.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Whuh?

I respect Andrew Sullivan a lot and like reading him. But count me out when he starts talking about religion.

This...this paragraph made me scratch my head:
I have two intuitions about what happens when I die. The first is that I cannot know in any way for sure; and I surely know that whatever heaven is, it is so beyond our human understanding that it is perhaps better not to try an answer. The second is that I will continue to exist in my essence but more firmly and completely enveloped in the love and expanse of God, as revealed primarily in the life of Jesus.
As to the first intuition, is there a way we can find out what happens when a person dies? Sure. Death is common enough that it's effects can be measured.

They go like this:

The biological systems that animate a living creature cease to function. Once those mechanisms cease, organic matter starts to decay. It's quite simple.

It follows such a predictable path that medical examiners the world over can determine time of death to within a couple of hours just by examining a corpse.

Sullivan knows this. He's a smart guy. He's not so religious that he will deny the scientific truth that bodies decay.

So when he says, "I cannot know in any way for sure," he's talking about what happens to the soul when he dies. Yet his uncertainty betrays him.

How do you even know we have a soul? Now I'm assuming that if the soul exists, it can be observed, perhaps not directly with your eyeball, but perhaps indirectly. No human eye has ever seen an atom smash into another atom, but this has been observed. If the soul can be observed (using some unknown future science), then it follows that we can learn quite a bit about it.

Sullivan's "I cannot know in any way for sure" assumes that the soul can't be observed, not now, not ever. I submit that something that can't be observed, even by indirect means, doesn't exist.

Which brings us to intuition #2...
I will continue to exist in my essence but more firmly and completely enveloped in the love and expanse of God, as revealed primarily in the life of Jesus
Very orthodox of you, Andrew, but where's your critical thinking?

What does "in my essence" mean? For the term to have any meaning, we have to have some way of differentiating between "my essence" and "not my essence," right? So the body, is that "my essence" or "not my essence?" I'm assuming "not my essence" because the body does not "continue to exist" after death.

What then, specifically, constitutes a person's "essence?" Is Andrew Sullivan's "essence" still going to be gay, even though in this vague "essence" state he won't have a body? After all, it should go without saying that if you don't have a body, you won't have a gender, and if you don't have a gender how can you possibly be gay?

Will he still be conservative? Still like those scones he gets from Starbucks? Won't his essence be fundamentally changed by the sudden change in physical status?

(To be continued...)

Property Wrongs

Wow. A new law was passed in Colorado that seems like it should have been in place all along.
For example, the bill gives the city the power to send inspectors into private mobile home parks, without the permission of the property owner, to inspect the infrastructure of the utilities.

That provision would directly address a problem at Orchard Grove, where city inspectors have been denied access by management. To assess the conditions of the basic utility infrastructure at that park, city officials have had to rely on aerial photography and interviews with private contractors.

The bill also requires owners of mobile home parks to provide up-to-code and reliable water and sewage service to every unit. Some residents of Orchard Grove have said their water service is intermittent because of the aging utilities there.
Now I know in this libertarian paradise we call America, we're supposed to defend the property rights of slum lords.

Well screw them. You can't hide behind property rights when you don't feel like doing the right thing.

The Colfax Marathon

I support the revitalization of Colfax and promoting health and fitness, but...

If your damn marathon is going to completely seal me off from my house, then I'm going to be a little upset.

And hey, I understand. You've got to close off Colfax. You've got to close off 17th. But understand that I live between Colfax and 17th, and if both of those streets are closed off, I can't get home.

A cop told me that I would have to park a block away and couldn't go through. Grumbling, I did as I was told. But when I was walking to my house - my truck parked a block away - I watched as the cop let some lady in an SUV through.

Oh, I was pissed.

"Oh, I see," I yelled at him, "you're gonna let her through, but not me."

"Medical emergency," he said, shrugging.

"Yeah, well I have a homeowner emergency!" I yelled back. Did I say I was pissed?

When I got into the house, I sent an angry e-mail to the organizers of the marathon. The gist...have your stupid marathon, but accommodate the residents that live in the area. Is that so hard?

No. It's not.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

No Way to Sleep

All night day it's been bump-bump bump-bump with the tuba coming out of my neighbor's truck stereo. Then there's the sound of kids playing, people talking. Ah, Domingo en el barrio.

A Serbian Film

All the reviews I've read about a new controversial film from Serbia (called...dun-nuh-nuh, A Serbian Film) have said that it's the kind of shocking, gory, emotionally disturbing film that can hurt people. "I can't unsee that movie," seems to be a common refrain.

But none of them have even dared to say what's so shocking, gory, emotionally disturbing about it.

Here's one:
It's a brutal film (but a skillfully made one) that shreds the envelope between art and obscenity. The best thing about the film is that the definition of the line between those two elements is an intrinsic part of the plot. I wouldn't call A Serbian Film a must-see, but if you think you're able to see it without causing yourself bodily harm, you might be rewarded with an unforgettable (albeit repulsive) cinematic experience.
Now here's the thing. I know some people are very anti-spoiler, but I'm not one of them. I want to know what I'm walking into, but that's just me.

Telling me that the last 20 minutes of A Serbian Film are so horrible they shouldn't have been filmed isn't enough to make me want to watch it. Let's talk about what's so horrible first.

So I did a little bit of research. Turns out, the reviewers have a pretty good reason for keeping the horrible secret under wraps.

It is truly horrible, and now that I have spoiler in hand, I can assure you that I don't really want to see this movie. Although I understand it's not just a horror movie like Saw, and may even have some artistic merit, despite the incredibly disturbing subject matter.

You want to know what's so horrible? Check the jump.

Playing the Zero Sum Game

Fred Clark of the Slacktivist sees a poll that shows the Gulf oil spill makes 28% of respondents more likely to support offshore oil drilling and comes up with this:
That 28-percent figure is close to the crazification factor -- that 27-percent baseline number that shows up with remarkable consistency. But I don't think the Gulf-spill-celebrating 28 percent is any more truly crazy than the Allen-Keyes-voting 27 percent was. I think this crazification and brazen stupidity is, again, something they are choosing. It is an act of will.

Those responses tallied by Public Policy Polling are not genuine, but calculated. They are the response of people who view all such polls -- and elections, legislative votes and policy choices -- as part of a zero-sum game between Our Side and Their Side. The "more supportive of drilling" response is an effort to deny points to Their Side by claiming victory for Our Side -- even if that means claiming the devastation of Gulf Coast livelihoods as "victory."

The point here is that we have a significant segment of the population that is no longer able to answer the question "What do you think/believe/feel/judge?" by saying what it is they really actually think or believe or feel or judge. Their response to any question is to calculate what that question means in terms of the zero-sum game and then to offer the answer they think will be strategically best for scoring points in that game.

This is a fundamentally disingenuous way of talking, voting and living and it's not possible to approach all those things disingenuously without that dishonesty and duplicity coming to shape, stunt and distort one's own thinking.

A Tale of Two Massacres

I watched the latest Rambo last night and woah, what a movie. What a bad movie.

Stallone, the star and director, dispenses with all the things that make a movie work --plot, character development, tension-- and focuses solely on bloody, ultra-violent action set-pieces.

Stallone's Rambo finds himself in Thailand, because when you're a Vietnam Vet suffering from PTSD, the best place to retire is an Asian jungle...

Okay, so forget about that part. Just know that Rambo's in Thailand. Just know that an evil Burmese general commits one of the most shocking massacres ever put to film.

You think I'm kidding? It's worse than the village burning scene in Platoon. Worse than the Omaha beach scenes of Saving Private Ryan. You thought the cleaning out the ghetto scene in Schindler's List was enough to curdle your blood? Pop in Rambo and cover your eyes.

Heads blown off, arms chopped off, children slaughtered. It's horrible. And the only point of it is to justify the subsequent kill-crazy rampage Rambo goes on with a .50 cal during the climax of the film. Again, heads blown off, legs blown off, bodies ripped in half.

Thankfully during this second massacre, no women or children are hurt, but that's only because that Rambo is a kinder, gentler blood-thirsty killing machine.

Do I recommend this movie? Only if you have a strong stomach and can tolerate a brainless action movie that strives to have a point and fails miserably.