Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advocating for Objectivism

There has been some good posts recently on the web and HBL discussing what objectivists should do to help spread Objectivism. It goes without saying that donating to ARI and its Free Books for Teachers program would be an excellent place to start. Also, at the ARI site click on the 'Support ARI' tab then the 'contribute' tab for more ways to contribute or click on the 'campaigns' tab for things to support.

There are other activist efforts to support as well. There is FIRM (Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine) and AFCM (Americans for Free Choice in Medicine) both of which could use help. The activities of these are sometimes updated at NoodleFood.

Writing to one's political representatives and LTEs to papers and mags helps as well. What with the Dems controlling Washington now I think it is vital that Objectivists concretize everything. If the powers that be utter a desired principle, then letter writers need to give concrete examples of what that principle will look like in the future. And if these same powers advocate a certain concrete activity, then writers need to identify the principle on which it is based, then concretize even more examples into the future. Projecting examples into the future is critical for I am convinced that anyone who can even partially think in principles will see events unfolding before them and be able to say something like "Hmm, they said it would look like this."

I know from experience that writing LTEs to papers shooting down what seems like an endless stream of awful ideas can get to be depressing. But to really feel good about oneself I recommend getting behind something good and giving a push. For example, put together $59 and give a gift subscription to the Objective Standard to your local public library or community college library. Or get behind some Objectivist newsletter like the Undercurrent and drop off some copies at your local college. Because education is so important, whenever Lisa VanDamme sends out her newsletter Pedagogically Correct, I post it in its entirety on my site and leave it there for a minimum of 24 hr. but usually 3 days. Know of an Objectivist radio show? Fire off an email to the Director of Programming at a talk radio station in your area extolling the virtues of that show and how it would be a great addition to your community's talk radio. Even when it comes to LTEs, sometimes, when I see a rational op-ed I'll send a short LTE to the effect "Kudos to professor Smith. His op-ed on inflation was spot on. We need more intellectuals like him." Giving the good a push re-charges one's batteries to keep on fighting the good fight.

I have been a little remiss on some of the suggestions above. So, I have decided that my 2009 New Year's Resolution will be to double my efforts at getting behind the good and giving a push.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Note

Brian Phillips at Live Oaks has an appropriate post for thanksgiving about the pilgrims and their discovery that self-interest is the way to survive. It's amazing that people see that and still think selfishness is evil. People learn nothing.

At Capitalism Magazine Craig Biddle says "don't say grace, say justice".

Blogging will resume probably this weekend. Meanwhile, the rest of today I'll be trying to make my abode look presentable for a house full of company for dinner tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Global Warming Fear Mongering

The Sunday 11/16/08 Detroit Free Press had a global warming article by Scott Canon of McClatchy Newspapers that is pure fear mongering based on nothing but conjecture. The title proudly announces the article's speculative nature "Violence could mount as Earth's temperature rises."

The arbitrary assertions run wild in this piece. First we are told that:

"The Earth's fast-changing climate has a range of serious thinkers -- from military brass to geographers to diplomats -- predicting a spate of armed conflicts driven by the weather."
Of course these 'serious thinkers' have concluded that:
"Shifting temperatures lead to shifting populations, they say, and that throws together groups with long-standing rivalries and thrusts them into competition for food and water.

"It's not hard to imagine violent outbursts," said Julianne Smith of the Center for Strategic and International Studies."
This sounds like something out of a junior high school class. No evidence is provided for any of this, it's just asserted. I can imagine things too. I can imagine that just uttering the word green causes the storm clouds to part, the sun to shine through, birdies to sing and bunnies to play. And it would have as much relevance to reality as Ms. Smith's, none. Just reading this article could spark 'violent outbursts' from rational people.

Evidently Ms. Smith authored one of 4 major studies trying to predict the future:
"Each report predicted starkly similar problems: gunfire over land and natural resources as once-bountiful soil turns to desert and coastlines slip below the sea. They also expect violent storms to unsettle weak governments and set up dispirited radicals in revolt."
Yes! We must fear those touchy, dispirited radicals who will be set off by bad weather which, of course, will be all our fault.

The article continues with more arbitrary assertions and even leans on the notion that:
"...[T]he scientific consensus is that the industrial revolution increased global-warming gases that set off an unprecedented rate of climate change."
'Scientific consensus' is an oxymoron. 'Consensus' is a political concept. It is used in science only when there is no evidence for something and only opinions and conjecture are available. Michael Crichton got it right when he said:
"I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had." (From his 2003 speech "Aliens Cause Global Warming")
To see more on how unscientific the concept 'scientific consensus' is see here.

The article goes on to make some more predictions starting with some possible good ones:
Growing seasons could lengthen. Frozen seas could thaw to make way for convenient shipping routes. Previously inaccessible spots could be ripe to gush oil. [notice the derogatory word gush--ME]

Meanwhile, wetlands could dry up. Rivers could disappear. Scientists already think that hurricanes, blizzards and droughts are more frequent and more severe. Rising sea levels could send tens of millions of people scurrying for higher ground.
No evidence, not even historical references, are given for these predictions. It is pure imagination. But to bolster their fantasy they rounded up some military generals and got their consensus:
"The former commanders concluded that war would be more likely, that the U.S. military needed to plan for the new threats, and that the United States had to reduce its carbon emissions."
I think it's safe to say that no one familiar with objectivism, or even semi rational, would take this article seriously. So who was it written for? Who would take it seriously? I think it is aimed at the ordinary Joe and Mary citizen; those 4 or so generations that have gone through our 'progressive education' system and have been taught not to respect authority but to submit to it. Or to be more precise, to respect authority is to submit to it. "Don't judge" or "Are you a scientist? No? Then how dare you question the experts", are just two hammers dropped on kid's minds.

Progressive education is all about socialization which means going along with any consensus. As the kids grow up, consensus becomes a signal word designed to evoke a response of submission or at least acquiescence. I have heard adults say things like "Who am I to know?" and "I'm just an ordinary person" and so on. Their ability to think and learn has been destroyed because their desire to learn has been destroyed.

What's depressing is that both of my Michigan US Senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, have bought in to the 'GW will lead to disaster and is all man's fault' nonsense hook, line and sinker. Despite my Senators' support for global warming, I do think this article is evidence that the alarmists are starting to get desperate and resorting to pure scare mongering and never mind any evidence. Earlier this year I emailed them both urging them to start distancing themselves from the AGW mantra. So far neither has.

(footnote: I was saddened that Mr. Crichton passed away on Nov 4th. He was not of course an objectivist but like the scientists on my blogroll, had a strong reverence for facts and liked to stick to them. He'll be missed.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some Sunday Reading

Andrew Medworth has a link to an ARC essay 'Stop Blaming Capitalism For Government Failures' by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins. The reason I'm linking this way is because at the bottom of this short post Andrew has a link to an Oct post of his which looks at the moral roots of the crisis as well as a crash course of sorts on economics. He links to a book called Economics For Real People by Gene Callahan which is online in PDF. It is written for the layman. I downloaded it for future reading. I highly recommend both posts.

K.M. at Applying Philosophy to Life has a post on Worldviews and the World.
Only those who have consistent principles can provide the standards by which any particular issue is to be judged. Those who have consistent principles set the terms of the debate. The pragmatists do the shouting and think they have won.
So true. We can see this happening today as government and media scream that greed and selfishness are at fault for the meltdown, but not government interference.

Morgan Freeberg makes a good point, Food is Death. Yes it's about Palin's turkey shoot and weak liberal stomachs. As he points out, the media crew would never permit such scene with Obama or any democrat. The media takes care of their gods.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Obama's GW Plans Examined, Cullen culled?

I know this is a few days old but Lubos Motl at The Reference Frame has a post in which he fisks Obama's recent speech on what his administration will do about global warming. If I had only read the transcript and not saw the video, I would have swore these were Al Gore's words.

From that post's comments I found this new (to me) site called SBVOR in which he informs that Heidi Cullen's show "Forcast Earth" has been cut by The Weather Channel. See there is still some good news out there. It's unclear if Heidi is staying on perhaps in some other capacity. I hope not. I might take to watching TWC again. I was disappointed though that Cheryl Lempke was also let go. I think she was there from day one. If you wanted 'just the facts maam' she was it. I'm only speculating but perhaps she and others that were let go objected to TWC's increased hype and over-dramatizing of weather events like violent storms and such. We'll probably never know.

Friday, November 21, 2008

End The Fed Rallies

It's Friday night 11/21/08 and while surfing the net I found this site Free Advice by Bob Murphy. He links to a site called End The Fed which is holding rallies in Houston and other cities around the nation on Saturday. It looks like a libertarian effort to me but their list of endorsers features a mixture like Bush hater Cindy Sheehan, someone from the constitution party and someone from the green party and others. While I don't think getting rid of the Fed can be done without getting rid of Keynesian Economics, I think this particular effort might at least expose some people to the idea that the Fed may not be needed.

On the other hand, I think the press will ignore it. Detroit is one of the 38 cities where rallies are scheduled. So I'll be scanning the two dailies for any mention or coverage. Not holding my breath though.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More Mass Preventive Medicine Urged

The Monday Nov. 10th. Detroit News carried an AP article titled "Cholesterol drugs lower heart attack risks." It is an example of mass preventive medicine in action. On June 1st I posted on this idea of mass preventive medicine quoting in part from Gary Taubes book Good Calories:Bad Calories:
"This strategy [collective medicine-ME] is credited to the British epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose, a longtime veteran of the dietary-fat controversy. "The mass approach is inherently the only ultimate answer to the problem of mass disease," Rose explained in 1981.

"But, however much it may offer to the community as a whole, it
offers little to each participating individual. When mass
diphtheria immunization was introduced in Britain 40 years ago,
even then roughly 600 children had to be immunized in order that
one life be saved--599 'wasted' immunizations for the one that was
effective....This is the kind of ratio that one has to accept in
mass preventive medicine. A measure applied to many will actually
benefit few." (Rose quote)

When it came to dietary fat and heart disease, according to Rose's calculation, only one man in every fifty might expect to avoid a heart attack by virtue of avoiding saturated fat for his entire adult life: "Forty-nine out of fifty would eat differently everyday for forty years and perhaps get nothing from it." (pp66,67) (End of Taubes quote.)

So we see that 49 people will be sacrificed for the alleged benefit of one. That is collectivism.
Now back to this Detroit News article. It says:
"However, some doctors urged caution. Crestor gave clear benefit in the study, but so few heart attacks and deaths occurred among these low-risk people that treating everyone like them in the United States could cost up to $9 billion a year -- "a difficult sell," one expert said.

About 120 people would have to take Crestor for two years to prevent a single heart attack, stroke or death, said Stanford University cardiologist Dr. Mark Hlatky."
So the government gets to start the use of force against 120 people for the alleged benefit of one. 119 people will be forced to take a drug which will do them no good, for the benefit of one mathematical artifact called a probability.

But notice the reasons given for opposing this policy; it's too expensive, about $9 billion yr. and we could be using the money for other forms of preventive care. Nothing is mentioned about how each one of those 120 people are to have their individual rights violated when doctors will be forced to put everyone on these cholesterol lowering statins. It is the sacrifice of all to all, not to achieve any real goal but as a permanent way of medicinal practice. Whether it actually prevents any illness is immaterial, it's the good intentions that count. It's also an example of children--who have never been taught that the good can not be achieved with the initiatory use of force--who are now grown up to be doctors and other professionals who see no reason not to lobby for using that force.

Readers of ME know that the collectivist mind doesn't see individuals like you and me. We don't count. They only see the collective whole as mentioned in the above link. They want to treat it without having to treat actual individuals.

For more information of collective medicine check out the web site of FIRM and their blog.

And to get an idea of the extent of questionable medical science today, I recommend JunkfoodScience by Sandy Szwarc.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Schiff Gets it Right

Billy Beck at Two-Four links to a 10 minute video showing how Peter Schiff was right all along. I wrote down the names of those who disagreed with him. It shall be called my low credibility list for financial smarts. They include Arthur Lafer, Mike Norman, Ben Stein, Neil Cavuto and his financial panel and Charles Payne to name just some. Perhaps Obama should select Mr Schiff as his financial advisor, then again, Mr. Schiff might be the last person he'd want advising him.

Friday, November 14, 2008

GOP Failure Revealed, almost.

Today's Detroit News editorial page carries an op-ed by US Representative Peter Hoekstra R-Holland (MI) titled "GOP loses by failing to acknowledge mistakes." In it Mr. Hoekstra does cite some concrete mistakes made but doesn't identify the underlying principles. He claims for instance that the GOP slide started with No Child Left Behind Act.
"Republicans began losing America with the passage and signing into law of the No Child Left Behind Act in December 2001. No Child was a massive shift from the previous Republican position, which would empower parents, teachers and local administrators. No Child rested on the wrong-headed premise that the federal government was better equipped to direct the education of our children."
This last sentence is true but he fails to see that the entire public school system is and has been based on that premise. I disagree that NCLB was a massive shift. It was nothing but a pragmatic (unprincipled) stab at fixing a failed school system caused by its equally pragmatic (unprincipled) philosophy of progressive education. He goes on to make another point:
"Republicans passed President George W. Bush's massive spending plans during the last eight years. If Republicans and the president had increased discretionary spending at the same rate as the Republican Congress and President Bill Clinton did during the 1990s, our deficit would be $363 billion less, a 32 percent reduction. Clinton could only have dreamed of the spending that Bush advocated and received."
Exactly! And that proves that whenever Republicans are in power they try to outdo the Democrats in enacting statist policies. He makes another observation:
"Americans are sick and tired of Washington excesses and government programs that don't work.

Instead, the Republican message was that Democrats were big spenders and Republicans were tax cutters. Based on the GOP record during the past eight years, no one believed us."
He's so close you could say he needs one number for a bingo. Is it coming?
"Republicans never addressed the issue that was compelling to America: Government is too big and doesn't work anymore. What good is an Energy Department that can't predict an energy shortage or a Treasury Department that can't anticipate a financial crisis? We failed to address what many people now believe: Republicans like big government as much as Democrats."
Bingo!

Unfortunately it's not a coverall. He goes on to lament:
"We left the American people, they didn't leave us."
True.

But he doesn't dig any deeper by asking why do the Republicans like big government, why do they outdo Democrats in expanding the size of government and spending? To do that would require looking at their basic principles, their philosophy. So-called Republican ideals like small government, low taxes, more freedom etc. cannot be justified on altruistic grounds. Mr. Hoekstra ends with this hope:
I'm confident about the future of our country. The check on a liberal federal government will not come via the currently rudderless Republican Party, it will come from the American people who love freedom and opportunity. A political party will develop to present the future the American people desire. I just hope it's the Republican Party.
If it is to be his party Mr. Hoekstra needs to get them to ditch pragmatism and start thinking in terms of principles which in turn will help them stand up to the onslaughts of government enforced altruism. One political and moral principle that will help right away is a dedication to the concept of individual rights and it moral base rational self-interest. They must learn that the concept 'inalienable rights' is not a concept of altruistic sacrifice but of self-interest.

One has to wonder how many other perceptive men like Mr. Hoekstra will continue to be disillusioned by the repeated failures of their party, simply because they aren't thinking in terms of principles.


(As a side note, I heard a few hours ago on the Michael Medved radio show that two men are currently vying for the party leadership. I didn't catch the name of one but the other was Mike Huckabee. Good Grief!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes on Global Warming

I've been thinking about trying to put together a bullet type post on global warming where I state a claim followed by fact. These would have to be short and to the point. Here is my short attempt with a few comments at the end.

>Claim: The planet is warming.

>Fact: True. Earth is in an inter-glacial period in which warming naturally occurs.

>Claim: The more carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere, the warmer the planet will become.

>Fact: This is backwards. Data shows that the planet warms first causing CO2 to be released into the atmosphere second. The whole AGW hoax depends on this erroneous assumption and falls apart without it. I could stop here but lets look at a few more of the alarmist's main points.

>Claim: Co2 is the main greenhouse gas.

>Fact: False, water vapor is by far the major one. CO2 is more plentiful than other greenhouse gasses but is still a weak one. Many scientists do not consider water vapor a greenhouse gas even though they should because clouds do hold heat from escaping to space.

>Claim: An increase in temp. of 3 to 6 degrees C will send the earth to or beyond a 'tipping point' from which it will not recover, becoming a runaway fireball.

>Fact #1: The earth's temp. has fluctuated between 12 deg. C (53deg. F) and 22 deg. C (72deg. F) Currently we are at about 14.5 deg. C or 58 deg. F. as an average. We still have 8 deg. to go just to get to the Earth's high ave. of 22 deg.C from which it has always moved to a cooling cycle.
>Fact #2: The planet has been in a Glacial Epoch for about 3 million years. Glacial epochs cause ice to form at the poles and migrate towards the equator for long periods usually 100,000 years called glaciations, interrupted by very short periods of warming called inter-glacials. We are in one now and it's almost over. You can forget about Al Gore's New York City under 20 meters of water, try NY leveled under about a mile of ice which will happen in the next glaciation as it has in the past.

To try and pick at all the GW alarmist talking points would be a waste of time. The whole scam depends on people not knowing two points: that the planet heats first, then CO2 increases, not the other way around; and that we are in a glacial epoch which are heavily weighted in favor of coolings not warmings.

Even if AGW were true, the government has no right to force anyone to do anything.

(I read somewhere that if one didn't like a one degree rise in global temp., the thing to do is to move about 100 miles north. But the idea that man can stop the Earth's climate from changing for the first time in its 4.5 billion year history is insane. AGW is just a money and power grab.)

Additional references:
Climate and the Carboniferous Period. on climate history.
Paleoclimatology, on Glacial Epochs and more climate history.
JunkScience.com. on CO2.
Science and Environmental Policy Project on the IPCC.

Update: Lubos Motl at the Reference Frame has a post which is another example of pseudo science in global warming.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Still More Blogroll Additions

It's that time again, for more blogroll additions that is.

First is Leonard Peikoff who posts a podcast of answers to listener's questions usually every Monday. These podcasts usually last around 14 to 18 minutes and are an excellent source of information from Objectivism's foremost authority.

Next is Quent Cordair Fine Art, Director's Corner. This is his own blog for his own thoughts. But if you would like to see a list of fine artists then visit his main site already on my roll.

Third is Politics Without God which is the blog of Coalition for Secular Government. This blog is manned by Diana Hsieh and Ari Armstrong and reports on the activity of the CSG which is a good activist site.

Fourth is Live Oaks hosted by Brian Phillips of no-zoning fame from Houston. He posts on property rights and related issues. His most recent one When Umpires are Biased, focuses on how government interference creates winners and losers and touches on why the Republicans lost the election.

Fifth is Atlantis by Eric Clayton whose most recent post advocates for more activism. I'm for that too.

Sixth is Edelweiss run by Chuck. His last post reports on a the involuntary servitude extolled at a site called change.com.

Seventh is Reddie Reasons hosted by Khartoum. His last post comments on
Allegedly, the members of the audience stormed out of a panel discussion hosted by the American University's Objectivists' free speech forum. The forum sought to discuss the nature of free speech and how totalitarian Islam was a threat to free speech.
Eighth is Ping-Ponging Toward Fascism managed by Adam Ross Cooke. I liked the 3 Ted Talks videos he has at the top of the blog.

Ninth is Sylvia Bokor Comments where her last post is a history lesson titled Lest We Return: The Rulers--Part I & II.

That's it for now. There are still others I'm looking at and maybe I'll add them next time in a month or two.

Friday, November 07, 2008

What Next?

Well, this ought to be an interesting next four years. I think a lot of people will be disappointed in Obama because he won't be able to live up to some of the things he promised to fix. He's a man not a god and cannot fix everything. In fact, as objectivists know, government can't fix anything economic unless it gets itself out of the way.

I think that Obama himself will be amazed at how many people expect him to provide their daily bread. He will be pulled in so many different directions that he will see no alternative but to throw all of them some crumbs, satisfying none. But I do think he will be loyal to a core group. Who might they be? Do you really think he looks at a Nancy Pelosi or a Barney Frank as the epitome of his leftist values? I for one don't think so. But he needs them and will continue posing as the consumate pragmatist to appease them. I could be wrong but I don't think he is a pragmatist at all. He is an idealogue and his ideology is collectivism and altruism. His desire to redistribute wealth proves he sees society as an entity, a body with some ailing parts. He sees his duty to redistribute the health enjoyed by the healthier parts to the ailing ones failing to understand that the healthier ones will no longer be healthy either. But he will not care even if made aware of it. He doesn't see individuals but only the collective whole.

It will be interesting to see with whom he fills his cabinet and other key regulatory posts. An early warning just went up last night when I heard that Obama has asked my Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to be on his economic advisory committee. Damn! Is he nuts? Michigan's economy is the worst in the nation. I would however, agree with Frank Beckmann who, on his morning radio show today, said he would go along with her selection if she would go to Washington with her record as what not to do. Sigh! I'd like to think it can only go uphill from here but alas, I know better.

Staying tuned.