Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Spotted by Mikes Eyes

I feel like I'm walking on cloud nine today. On Monday and Wednesday mornings I bowl on 2 mens's leagues. Of course they are sanctioned leagues by the United States Bowling congress. Anyway, Monday morning I rolled my first ever perfect game 300.

It was quite an experience. Not only was there an enormous sense of pride at the accomplishment, but you also learn a little something about yourself, your ability to concentrate under pressure. At least I did.

Everyone should have that experience at least a few times in their lives, that moment of perfection when you can say "I did it and I did it my way." Damn that feels good!


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In Sunday's (Feb. 26th) print edition of the Detroit News there is an article from the Washington Post titled "Emotions may drive politics." One has to wonder how much money was wasted making this groundbreaking discovery!

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Also in today's (Feb. 28th) Detroit News is an AP article by Carla K. Johnson titled "Dutch put chocolate in the plus column." The subtitle is "Study: Older men who eat one-third of a bar every day live longer." I like this study because there are lots of caveats in it, like: "'It's way to early to make recommendations about whether people should eat more cocoa or chocolate,' said Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, who co-authored the study."

And: "Still, the Dutch study, supported by grants from the Netherlands Prevention Foundation, appears to be the largest so far to document a health effect for cocoa beans. And it confirms findings of smaller, shorter-term studies that also linked chocolate with lower blood presure."

The reporter should not have used the word "confirms findings." She should have used something like "coincides with findings." The concept "confirms" suggests, even implies, that something has been verified or proven. Epidemiologic studies can't do that. They can only point to a conclusion not prove one. It takes an experiment to do that. She shouldn't have used "linked" either because it implies a causal connection has been made.

After reading the article in its entirety, the conclusion is: more study is needed.
Sigh.

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On the same page is an article from the New York Times by Elizabeth Jensen titled "Kids' grades aren't hurt by lots of TV." This is not going to set well with a lot of social planners. And that pleases me. It seems to be a meta-analysis of "...a trove of data from the 1960s to argue that when it comes to academic test scores, parents can let children watch TV without fear of future harm."

I'm not so sure I'd jump on that bandwagon wholeheartedly but I sure would give it credibility at least up to a reasonable point. (I'm not talking about moderation for moderation's sake.) And isn't that what we should all be looking at regarding humans too, a reasonable point?

In Toxicology there is a principle: "the poison is in the dose." That applies to human behavior as well, whether it's chocolate or TV or anything else. A good doctor will tell you that you can't give the same dose to every person.

Science today is trying to "confirm" and "verify" what is good, or bad, for everyone.
It can't be done and we are wasting countless billions allowing the government to do it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Morality of Self-Sacrifice

I just finished reading Craig Biddle's "Introduction to the Objective Standard" at Capitalism Magazine which can be found here. I highly reccommend it. Mr. Biddle correctly points out that altruism cannot be practiced consistently because to try to do so would lead to death.

That got me to thinking, what would it be like for a person to attempt to live by the morality of self-sacrifice 24/7? According to altruism you must be completely selfless all the time. This in turn means that being concerned with one's own self is evil and a no-no.

So, lets imagine Mary who just got off of work and stops at a grocery store on the way home to pick up a few items. She stops in the produce section and examines the tomatoes. She would of course, pass over the ripest and freshest tomatoes sacrificing them for the benifit of those who may need the nutrition more than her.
She would also not select the cheapest priced tomatoes but would pick the more expensive ones sacrificing the cheaper ones for the benefit of people who have less money than she. Since there will always be someone who needs the nutrition and money more than her Mary understands that this sacrificial method of making purchases must be her permanent MOS (method of shopping).

She will use this MOS for every purchase, not just tomatoes but milk, bread, clothing, hair spray, everything. She can't even insist that her purchases are for her family because well, they are her family and that makes her actions selfish which means evil or at best not moral.

At work she will forego asking for a raise sacrificing the increase for the benefit of those who need it worse. She may accept a raise but only if it's plant or department wide and she has no choice in the matter. Still, she'll wonder if there isn't some way to sacrifice that away too.

It's not hard to see that such a sacrificial morality will eventually have Mary and her family in poor health and broke. But she and they will certainly be suffering. It is this suffering that will be viewed as virtuous by those who share her morality.

Mary can see what is happening to her family physically and begins to wonder about her moral code of sacrifice. She remembers watching the adults in her life cheat on that moral code sometimes and get the best for themselves. She vowed she would never become a hypocrit like them. But now she was beginning to have strange thoughts like "What's the point in being moral if it means the destruction of my family"? or "How come I'm sacrificing for everyone else but no one seems to be sacrificing for me?"

But those thoughts will be followed by guilt feelings. She will then shut those thoughts out of her mind thinking that it is selfish to entertain them and that she must try harder to be even more selfless. Her guilt of course, is an unearned guilt, the result of trying to practice the destructive morality of sacrifice.


Poor Mary. All she had to do was discover that the adults in her past were not actually cheating on a noble moral code when they took care of themselves. They were practicing an entirely different one called rational self-interest. They just didn't know it. There were no intellectuals to tell them of the existence of a non-sacrificial moral code. There are now.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Science Establishment Conclusion

In this conclusion to The Science Establishment, I just want to go over the first four posts in brief. In the first one I touched on some of the seemingly contradictory "findings" coming from our science establishment. The second dealt with the principles involved and the CDC example. The third tried to point out the rise of the Social Theory and Statistics as factors forcing reason out. The fourth was devoted to revealing two results of intellectual sloppiness--the use of the concept "link" in statistics and the practice of using "consensus" as a substitute for proof--as consequences of science becomming an establishment.

The series wasn't meant to be exhaustive. That would require one or two books. There is however, one more point I'd like to make. It is akin to Jeff Foxworthy's "You know you're a redneck when..." It is "You know you're listening to a member of an establishment when:

He calls all those who disagree with him "skeptics", "deniers," "doubters," etc.

He claims his credentials are superior to your credentials,

He claimes he has a "consensus" that support his ideas,

He calls his associations and correlations "links,"

He says his findings are so urgent and catastrophic there is no time to verify them.
Government must act now.

I'm sure my readers could add some I haven't thought of. But these are some of the tactics I disdain the most. To me, a scientist, and a science journal editor, devoted to discovering the truth should be a person who is eager to wear the label of "skeptic" and "doubter" as a badge of honor. He (or she) will live by the motto "Show me the data and I'll believe it."

So what can we do to try and get science redevoted to reason? I would start by getting science out of the hands of government. At the website of the Science and Environment Policy Project (www.SEPP.org) is an article from www.sfgate.com titled "The Unholy Lust of Scietists" which talks about the corruption in science in which the author, David S. Oderberg, suggests:

"For a start, although I distance myself wholly from his anti-rationalism and methodological anarchy, I share the late philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend's demand for a separation of science and state, or at the very least a radical curtailment of public financial sponsorship of scientific research. How could the millions thrown at scientists be anything other than a veritable inducement to misconduct?"

I agree. I think the CDC should be privatized along with the FDA, USDA and the EPA. Let them function in an advisory capacity much like Underwriters' Laboratories and Consumer Reports. A private CDC would have nothing to gain by wrongly insisting 400,000 people die of obesity every year. That kind of malpractice would eventually cease because it would no longer be encouraged.

In closing I just want to point to another area of human endeavor where reason was forced out long ago--education. Like science, the essence of education is reason, and since the government monopolized it, a rational curriculum was forced out in favor of "progressive education." The disasterous results are obvious.

Just as I support in principle, Bush's "Forward Strategy of Freedom" on the foreign front, we desperately need a "Forward Strategy of Privatization" on the domestic front.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Science Establishment lV

Statistics can be helpful. They have their place. They've even been known to point right at a cause which was later proven by lab tests. But what happens a lot today is a correlation will be found and then hailed as sufficient evidence to warrent government action.
In an ideal society, an informed public would read about the correlation and dismiss it as such knowing that more research is needed before becoming alarmed. But we don't live in such a society. Today, people can become alarmed over such correlations simply because they are referred to as links.

That is one of my biggest peeves with the statistics field, the use of the term "link." I want to urge all epidemiologists and media people to stop using the word link in statistical studies. "Association" and "correlation" are far more accurate and truthful. They convey the sense of a possible but not yet demonstrated, connection.

But the concept "link" projects an image of connectedness, like a link being connected to another link in a chain of causation. The concept "link" suggests causation. This should not be so.

I have some relatives who will not vaccinate their newborn for MMR because they heard that there was a "link" between mercury in vaccines and autism. There have been newspaper reports of other young couples doing the same thing. My relatives are looking for a clinic with vaccines minus the mercury. They are out there. But when I tried to explain that a link is not causation, my words fell on deaf ears. The damage had already been done. Done I think, by the word "link."

To me, this represents an example of intellectual sloppiness by statisticians and reporters and editors. If scientists become indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood, they will also regard intellectual precision as a non-essential.

Another bit of intellectual sloppiness coming from the science establishment is the notion of truth by consensus. It seems rather obvious that the truth or falsehood of an idea is not to be determined by how many people support or oppose it; that the truth of an idea must stand or fall on its own merits. Yet it is truely amazing how many educated people in the media and in science espouse the truth by consensus doctrine. Of course it's just another "shortcut to truth."

The truth by consensus practice is most popular in the field of climate science. It's common to see scientists and reporters citing a consensus as evidence that global warming is all man's fault. At the website of the Science and Environmental Policy Project Benny Pieser has a good article titled "The Dangers of Consensus Science" which can be found here.

To be concluded

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I Think! Therefore I'm Unconscious?

I'm taking a day off from my Science Establishment series to post on what seems to me to be a new concept, unconscious thinking.

First, if you are a psychologist, I have bad news. Your profession is hitting rock bottom. Perhaps you already know that but in case you didn't there is this Boston Globe article carried in the Sunday print edition of the Detroit News by Globe writer Gareth Cook. It is titled "Big decision to make? Don't think about it." The subtitle is "Unconscious does better job of weighing pros and cons, researchers discover." Notice they are not talking about the subconscious but the "unconscious."

The second paragraph states:
"In a series of studies with shoppers and students, researchers found that people who face a decision with many considerations such as what house to buy, often do not choose wisely if they spend a lot of time consciously weighing the pros and cons. Instead, the scientists conclude,the best strategy is to gather all the relevant information--such as the price, the number of bathrooms, the age of the roof--and then put the decision out of mind for awhile.
Then when the time comes to decide, go with what feels right. 'It is much better to follow your gut,' said Ap Dijksterhuis, a professor of psychology at the University of Amsterdam, who led the research."

I've always known about my having a subconscious but I didn't know I had an "unconscious" that could do my "weighing" for me. How neato! Normally I would just call it quits with an atricle like this pointing out that these folks have a problem dealing with crow overload and their solution is to go mindless.

But I can't stop here. It gets better.

"For relatively simple decisions, he said, it is better to use the rational approach. But the conscious mind can consider only a few facts at a time. And so with complex decisions, he said, the unconscious appears to do a better job of weighing the factors and arriving at a sound conclusion."

Exactly how one arrives at "sound conclusions" while unconscious is not being made clear. But we plod on:

"The finding, published Friday in the journal Science, would have pratical implications if borne out by further research.
This is because the new research challenges the conventional approach to making everyday choices that shape so much of life."

You can say that again! Let's see, I have to negotiate a left lane exit at the upcoming cloverleaf, should I use my conscious mind or my unconscious one?

"After Freudian psychology, with its focus on repressed desires, fell out of favor, psychological research dismissed the idea that the unconscious played an important role in mental processes.{At least they were warm!--ME} More recently, though, in research popularized in Malcolm Gladwell's best seller "Blink," scientists have been finding evidence that the unconscious is not just relevant, but that it is smart."

That does it! From now on whenever I come across a real toughy of a problem I'll just go mindless and let my smart unconscious figure it out for me. And to think all those exams I barely passed I could have aced if I only I had the brains to go brainless.
Dummy me!

"'Blink' largly focused on snap judgements, such as deciding whether a couple was likely to divorce by watching them for a few moments.
But the Science article looked at what the researchers described as the 'deliberation-without-attention' effect."

Exactly how someone "deliberates without attention" escapes me. Completely. I guess I don't understand because I'm not using my unconscious mind. I can see however, where this could lead to some interesting possibilities:

"You see, your honor, I ran into Mr. Smith's car because of the deliberation without attention effect,"

"Jones! Wake up! Why are you asleep at your desk?"
"I'm using my unconscious to solve the problem sir."

Sigh! When I first read the article a little voice in my head said "Mike, he's making this up. It's all a joke." So I googled the researcher's name Ap Dijksterhuis and got 20,000 listings. If he's making this up, he made up a pile of others.

I don't know if he means to substitute unconscious for subconscious but it doesn't say this anywhere in the article so I don't think so. Anyway, the article can be found here.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Science Establishment lll

In his excellent book The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, Dr. James Le Fanu explaines that in the 1970s the old method of medical science -actual trial and error experimentation - came under attack with the introduction of the Social Theory of medicine. In describing its history, Dr. Le Fanu says:

"It is possible, however, to come to a reasoned judgement by examining its historical evolution, which takes us back first to 1976 when Thomas McKeown, professor of Social Medicine at Birmingham University, launched an assault on the prevailing view of the time that the enormous improvement in health in the preceeding 100 years had been brought about by the progress of medical science."

...

"'Medical science and its services are misdirected' he said. (P281) Mr. Le Fanu continues with:

"It cannot be sufficiently stressed what a radical departure this Social Theory of disease was from the preceding thirty years."

And:

"But now here were distinguished doctors and scientists arguing that the future direction of medicine lay in a completely different direction: get people to change their diets, control pollution and eradicate poverty, and many diseases would evaporate like snow on a sunny day." (p284)

...

"It might sound almost too good to be true, but the Social Theory was enthusiastically taken up by many intelligent observers, as reflected in the BBC's prestigious Reith Lectures for 1980, given by a young lawyer, Ian Kennedy, committed to the 'unmasking of medicine.'" (p284-285)

In other words, these new scientists were saying in effect: "Come with us. We have a shortcut to truth."

In my judgement at least, that shortcut was the Social Theory coupled with epidemiology, also known as statistics.
This branch of mathematics was being encouraged to take the place of actual laboratory experiments. Instead of seeking proof that A caused disease B, all that is required is a correlation between A and B. If you can get enough other people to agree that the correlation exists, then you have a "consensus" and that in turn becomes sufficient evidence on which to base government policy (force). Thus the process of forcing reason out accelerates.

In his book Junk Science Judo, Steven J. Milloy writes:

"Statistics aren't science. They may be quantitative characterizations of observations. They may be estimates from mathematical models. In either case, statistics don't explain observations or validate models." (p70) He then quotes Dr. Bruce G. Charlton, M.D. of the University of Newcastle who, in his paper "Statistical Malpractice" wrote:

"There is a worrying trend in academic medicine which equates statistics with science, and sophistication in quantitative procedures with research excellence. The corollary of this trend is a tendency to look for answers to medical problems from people with expertise in mathematical manipulation and information technology, rather than from people with an understanding of disease and its causes."

Two paragraphs later he adds: "Science is concerned with causes but statistics is concerned with correlations..." (p74)

Statistics then, don't prove causation mainly because they can't, or to be more precise, they are not designed to. By discovering associations, statistics can point science to possible causes, but then science still has to step in and perform an experiment to prove or disprove causation.

But that's not what's happening in science today. Correlations are held up as evidence of causation. "Consensus" is hailed as proof. To be continued

The Science Establishment ll

I've often wondered why government encouragement would cause scientists to regard truth as irrelevent. It seems to me that it has to do with the essences of the two institutions.

The essence of government is to maintain a monopoly on the retaliatory use of force. The essence of science is to maintain a pursuit of truth through a processes of experimentation and verification. In short, the essence of one is reason and the essence of the other is force. It seems obvious to me that to mix these two in terms of fundmental principles can only have the result of reason being slowly forced out.

When science acquires the mantle of force, it no longer needs the process of verification. Truth is established by decree of consensus. When government force acquires the respect and dignity of science, people will want to trust government to solve all problems. People will mistake the force of government with the absolutism of truth.

Examples of this abound. The most blatent being the CDC fiasco of 2005. In 2004 the CDC director Julie Gerberding hailed a study which she co-authored claiming that 400,000 people died in 2002 from obesity. Trouble is, no one was puting down obesity as a cause of death so how did they know there were 400,000 of them? They didn't. It was just an extrapolation from another study and a poor one.

In 2005 another study done by the CDC, this time by a Katherine Flegal of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics claimed that the actual number of deaths from obesity was closer to 26,000, not 400,000.

You would think that if Ms. Gerberding were devoted only to the facts, to the truth no matter where it leads, she would say something like "Oh I see. Well we'll have to examine these results and if true we'll have to adjust our policies accordingly." But that was not her response. Instead she claimed that the study was flawed and she had no intentions of scaling back the fight against obesity. In other words, policy trumps reality. Tech Central Station had a good article on this by Canadian John Luik here.

The Washington Times ran an editorial Blubber About Obesity on May 2nd 2005 which said in part:

"This comment from CDC chief science officer Dr. Dixie Snider in february is particularly revealing: 'We cannot and should not let this discussion of scientific methodlolgy detract from the real issue.'" This is another example of how decree takes precedence over verification (methodology) and reason being forced out.

The Body Mass Index or BMI created by the CDC has become dogma. I've seen it posted in doctor's offices. Yet, it is flawed. Studies have shown that mortality rates for obese people 25-30, are lower than those for normal wt. and normal weight 20-25 are lower than underweight. When someone like a 168 pound man at 5'8" can be considered obese, well we see reason being forced out again. The BMI needs to be modified or tossed completely.

A scientist in a private lab or university is in pursuit of facts. But when that lab or university becomes wrapped in the mantle of government, facts will take a back seat to policy. They have to. If there were a ruthless devotion by all government and government supported scientists to nothing but the truth, it would soon be discovered that the government's social policies are based on false premises and are not needed. That is not going to happen anytime soon.

There are too many people making a very good living off the corruption of science by government encouragement. They will continue to put facts second and advocacy in the "public interest" first. To be continued

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Al Gores America

I see Al Gore is venting his true feelings about America by going over to
Saudi Arabia and denouncing America for "abusing" Muslims. He did this in a country where women have absolutely no rights; where the Wahabi brand of Islam teaches all Muslims to kill all infidels and is financing terrorism all around the world.

This idiot doesn't understand that they would just as soon cut his throat as Bush's.
In fact, they would probably cut his first having far less respect for him than they do for Bush.

Ayn Rand nailed it when she wrote: "A country at war often resorts to smearing its ememy by spreading atrocity stories--a practice which a free, civilized country need not and should not resort to. A civilized country, with a free press, can let the facts speak for themselves. But what is the moral-intellectual state of a country that spreads smears and atrocity stories about itself and ignores or suppresses the facts known about the enemy's atrocities?" (from her essay "The Wreckage of the Consensus" in Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal. For more info see.)

That's what Al Gore is doing and Google in China and CNN in Baghdad and on and on.
He probably thinks he is making points with the Saudis by spitting in his country's face. A Saudi would never denounce his own country in public. They can't be respecting Gore for doing it to his country. Actually, they are probably grateful for such a useful idiot.

It is scary to think this man almost was our president, but what is really scary is the fact that many of his party's 08 contenders think the same way.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Science Establishment

When Mike's Eyes were watching the Super Bowl halftime show with the Rolling Stones singing "Satisfaction," Mike's Ears were hearing a different set of lyrics:

"A man comes on the radio,
says coffee is good for me,
then a lady comes on the radio,
says coffee is bad for me,

Then a man comes on the television,
says sunshine will give me my vitamin D,
nother man comes on the television,
says sunshine will give me a skin disease.

I can't get no..."

Well, you know the rest. But I think I was hearing those lyrics because of the various science articles I'de been reading recently. Wednesday another one came along.

The Feb. 8th print edition of the Detroit Free Press has an article "A low-fat diet is no shield for women" by Patricia Anstett of the Free Press. The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on the same day. Evidently, all those studies showing that a low fat diet would help against heart disease, strokes and breast and colon cancer were wrong.

Steven Milloy of Junk Science.com has an article at Fox News on all the evidence against low-fat diets that's been ignored by the establishment.

I remember an article at Tech Central Station by Elizabeth M. Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, titled "Coffee Causes Cancer! Oops, This Just In! Coffee Prevents Cancer" which can be found here.

I also read an article by Alex Lekas at Up and Coming Magazine back in June 2005 in which scientists tell us that sunshine is good and bad for us.

So, does this mean that the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) will now have to redo its recently redone food pyramid? Frankly, who cares? I've never paid attention to it anyway. But this new study doesn't mean we can all ignore good eating habits like having a balanced diet, not over eating, and getting some exercise. It just proves once again the imprudence of suspending one's judgement and relying on a government establishment.

All these conflicting reports on what's supposed to be good or bad for you has got to be the cause of much public distrust of science. But to blame only science would be a mistake. It's not that scientists have suddenly gone irrational. Rather, it's the context in which we demand that scientists work, the context of a governmnet establishment.

Normally we would think of science as the pursuit of truth, that is, the facts of reality regardless of where they lead. But today science seems to be more concerned with political policy rather than scientific fact. This is due in part by the fact that many scientific institutions are now part of Government like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), The USDA, and many others. Many university science depts. also get government grants which makes them dependent on a system where scientists are paid to find problems that politicians can then try to fix with legislation, i.e. force. This is not what science is supposed to be about.

Philosopher Ayn Rand said "Government encouragement does not order men to believe that the false is true, it merely makes them indifferent to the issue of truth or falsehood." To be continued

Sunday, February 12, 2006

This and That Feb.

Rules for thee but not for me.

In today's (Feb 12th) print edition of the Detroit News there is a New York Times article by Anne E. Kornblut titled "Smoking ban gives mercy to Congress." The first paragraph reads:

"WASHINGTON-When the citywide smoking ban takes effect here next month, at least one workplace in town will be spared: Congress, the beneficiary of a kind of diplomatic immunity for federal lawmakers."

Ok. So both houses of congress are full of hypocrites. In light of recent scandals and normal operating procedures, we know that. But then there is this:

"That is excellent news for Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, the new Republican majority leader, who regularly smokes cigarettes between votes in the house."

Isn't this the guy who was just picked by the Republicans to restore honesty to that party?

I for one don't want any bans on smoking. Government bans violate rights. Mr. Boehner can puff away to his heart's content as far as I'm concerned. But how is a policy of "Rules for thee but not for me" going to return integrity to the party? I'm beginning to think that graduates of today's law schools not only don't want to think in terms of principles, they can't.
They've been dumbed down too much!

The News story can be found here.


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Right below that article is another NYT article this time by Philip Shenon and Lowell Bergman titled "Lobbyist, Bush pic released." It shows a close up of the back of Bush's shoulders and head and in the background, standing against a wall next to a window, is a face that's supposed to be Abramoff's. Bush is said to be greeting "an American Indian Chief from Texas in 2001." The article continues:

"By itself, the picture hardly seems worthy of the White House's efforts to keep it out of the public eye." Obviously, good PR people would want to keep bad PR photos from being used for well, bad PR. The next sentence:

"Abramoff, a leading Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last month to conspiring to corrupt public officials, is little more than a blurry, bearded firgure in the background at a gathering of about two dozen people."

The "blurry" part is true. I can't tell, just by looking, who that is in the background. But notice the crime of "conspiring to corrupt public officials."
I've always been taught that taking bribes is just as bad as offering them. But now, I guess, only offering them--conspiring to corrupt--is a crime.

The last sentence of the last paragraph says:

"It is not clear what contact, if any, Abramoff had with Bush during the 20 minutes or so the session lasted."

So, with all these caveats-"hardly seems worthy," "blurry," "not clear" why did these reporters even bother writing the article? To do that which the White House obviously didn't want done: provide the media with another opportunity for a guilt-by-association smear.

The caption just below the photo reads:

"Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff is visible next to the window over President Bush's left shoulder in this 2001 photo."

Just a thought: how come Bush can't just say his visits with Abramoff and Indians was "routine" like Senator Reid is doing?

The article, without the picture, is here.

Friday, February 10, 2006

"Reasonable" Censorship

The "Return of the Primative" (from the Anti-Industrial Revolution by Ayn Rand) is a good phrase to describe what is going on with the cartoon riots. All around the world savages are rising up seeking the destruction of civilization. Michelle Malkin has a round up of reports around the world where governments are shutting down papers and editors and journalists are being fired and arrested. Here is one quote:
A far-right Swedish party's website showing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad has been shut down by the Internet hosting company after pressure from police and the foreign ministry, fearing it would fuel Muslim anger.

It seems that aside from Denmark and a few papers in America, no one wants to defend the principle of free speech. The EU, the UN, and the entire Muslim world sure don't.
But I think that is due to the fact that most of the world don't see free speech as a principle to be defended but rather is something to be negotiated away.

In my post "Google This" (see Jan. archives) I wrote about how pragmatists treat principles:
"I used to think that pragmatism was hostile to and had no use for principles. I was wrong. Thanks to Google I can see now that pragmatism allows for the existence of principles. It just treats them as non-essentials. To a pragmatist a principle is a useful tool as long as you are achieving desired results. But if those results stop coming in or you desire different results, then you can dump that principle for another or no principle at all and declare you are just being "pragmatic", after all, it's practical to be pragmatic isn't it?"

So obviously, defending free speech is no longer achieving desirable results, so out goes that principle in favor of government censorship. After all, we are incessantly told, we must be reasonable (pragmatic) about this, a little bit of "reasonable" censorship can't hurt can it?

There are three requirements for a government to be a dictatorship, government control over education, censorship and one party rule. We already have the first. The education system is teaching our kids to accept the second which will lead to the third. It is now glaringly obvious that if we in America don't stop censorship, no one else will.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Important Notice

"Front Range Objectivism" is holding a "Weekend Conference on Law, Individual Rights and the Judicial System" from March 4th-5th in Denver, Colorado. The Speakers will include Tara Smith, Amy Peikoff, Eric Daniels and Dana Berliner. Rub shoulders with these and others (Don Watkins, Diana Hsieh and the Noodlefood crew will be there too).

Early registration deadline is this Saturday, February 11th. You'll save $75 if you take advantage of it.

For all the details, plus online registration, go here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The New Baghdad Bobs

The riots over the cartoons are seperating the men from the boys when it comes to who will stand up and defend freedom of speech. We know for example that if America ever collapses into dictatorship, the NYT and CNN just to name two, will be vying to be America's Bagdad Bob.

I heard they don't want to print the cartoons out of respect for Muslim "sensitivities." Right! When someone tells you not to print something or they will burn down your building, and then you don't print it, that's not respect, that's obedience.

Oh well, at least we are getting a real clear picture of who Americans can trust and who they can't. The amazing thing is these news establishments still think we should trust them to give us the news we can believe.

We are also seeing why multiculturalism is such an evil political philosophy: it treats all cultures as having equal moral value regardless whether the cultures involved are life, liberty and happiness enhancing or destroying. It treats an anti-man, anti-life bloody dictatorship like China and a pro-man, pro-life free nation like the USA as moral equals. They're not.

Just as the original Baghdad Bob told us no American troops were in Baghdad while our tanks were driving by behind him, so the new Baghdad Bobs are telling us that the sensitivities of our enemies trumps our right of free speech, that feelings are superior to rights, that obedience is really respect, that weakness is strength, that irresponsibility (to cut and run) is responsible and on and on.

As I mentioned in one of my comments on another post, what's happening between Islam and the west could be called Civilization 101. If Islam is to survive, the first lesson needs to be that speech is to be free by right and not by permission.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Parting thoughts on the Super Bowl

Monday's and Tuesday's Detroit papers are all celebrating the success that was the Super Bowl. They are also asking "Can we keep the successful mood going?" Maybe.

Maybe because the SB represented an attitude adjustment for about two weeks. It gave us an opportunity to attend parties, to see lots of celebraties and cavort with media types and just enjoy life for the sake of enjoying life, because that's what life is for, to be enjoyed.

No it wasn't a mindless orgy of subjective nihilism. Rather, a well planned, organized celebration of life proper to a rational being. The game itself was a contest between the two best teams in professional football. It projected an image of man the achiever, the doer, the heroic. It was this attitude, this sense of life that Detroit was celebrating and reveling in for two precious weeks. It was an attitude that the world is mostly a benevolent place, that life is good and we can keep it that way if we put our rational minds to it.

But will we? Or will we turn out the lights and go back to thinking that humans are evil and need to be forced to be good; that life is malevolent and we can't survive by our own effort; where our image of man the hero is replaced by man the victim?

I don't know which way Detroit will go. But this pro man, pro life attitude is best captured I think, by the ABC Sports slogan--"Are you ready for some Football?"

Yes! I think the whole nation is.

It's Over

Now that the super Bowl is over life here in Detroit is slowly getting back to normal. This has been a big month for Detroit. The last two weeks have seen blanket coverage of SB events and for three weeks before that it was heavy coverage of the International Auto Show. Of course, Major League Baseball's All Star game was held right next door to Ford Field at Comerica Park back in July.

My biggest concern, and I'm sure of others also, was the threat of terrorism. But nothing happened for which I thank all the security agencies involved and President Bush.

Congradulations Steelers and better luck next year Seattle.

Friday, February 03, 2006

"Volunteering for Dhimmitude"

I know everyone is posting on the State Department's cowardly response to Muslim demands for an apology for the Danish cartoons. I feel a need to add my two cents.

The right of free speech gives people the right to disagree using symbolism. If any religion cannot handle free speech, its practitioners don't need to come to America.

America only asks one thing of any and all religious persons: swear off the initiation of force against your fellow man. If any person cannot make that commitment, they need to go back to their homeland, they are not ready for modern civilization.

Captain Ed at Captain's Quarters
is posting on this now. I especially like the way he began his last sentence: "Volunteering for dhimmitude"... for that is exactly what the State Department and other world leaders are doing when they apologise for exercising their right of free speech.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Privatization in Indiana

In the print edition of today's Detroit Free Press the Associated Press has an article "Hoosier highway may go private" that looks promising. Any government social service that gets privatized is something I support.

The 157 mile Indiana toll road goes from the Ohio border across Indiana to the Illinois border, almost into Chicago. The state wants to dump it because it has lost money for the last three years adding up to 34.9 million dollars. This was said to be because "...the state has not mustered the political will to raise the tolls in more than 20 years."

The article states: "By this fall, about 30 of the 5,244 miles of U.S. toll roads will be run by private operators--the Chicago Skyway, the Dulles Greenway in northern Virginia and the South Bay Expressway, expected to open this fall near San Diego, said Patrick Jones, excutive director of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association."

That's not much privatization and I think that may be why Indiana is selling it to foreign companies. According to the article:
"Under the proposed agreement, Cintra of Madrid, Spain, and Macquaire Infrastructure of Sydney Australia, would invest about $700 million in the tollway over nine years."

This money would pay for maintenence and installation of toll collecting equipment and for the State Police to patrol the highway. If these companies can make a profit, perhaps American companies will notice. They should be able to make money when you consider that 55 milion people paid to use that highway last year and the top toll rate (for those who drove the entire length) was $4.65. The state is planning to raise that to $8.00 this spring according to the article.

Though it's a small step, I think it's a very good one.
The Detroit Free Press article can be found here.
For more info on private toll roads go here
The IBTTA site is here.